WWE went rolling right on through Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California last night (Sun., Mar. 29, 2015) with WrestleMania 31, the biggest pay-per-view (PPV) event of the year. Oh boy did it live up to that billing too, despite the fact that it featured one of the worst build ups in the history of the show.
Let's not waste time with pleasantries and get right to reactions (click here for the live blog with full match coverage).
The perfect main event
You're damn right I'm saying it.
Even if they didn't have Seth Rollins show up to cash in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE world heavyweight title, I would have loved Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns. It wouldn't have mattered who won or who lost, it ALL would have been satisfying.
Lesnar is a monster, a beast who is damn near unstoppable. You have to be some measure of crazy to even attempt as much, and then when you're in there getting your mouth bloodied up and your body broken, you have to maintain a level of defiance unheard of by a normal human being.
Forget the "make Roman Reigns look strong" nonsense. That's what they did, sure, but they did so with a beautifully told story. Reigns went in there KNOWING he was going to take a beating and he welcomed it. He smiled through blood stained teeth; he spit back at his abuser; he basked in the glory of the ass whooping he would need to take to attain the success he was seeking.
And he took it. And he kept coming back.
Lesnar, however, continued dishing it. And, when the roles were reversed and it was his turn to take all of Roman's best shots, he did exactly that. He took it, and he kept coming back.
It genuinely felt like two heavyweight prize fighters trading their best shots, bleeding all over themselves, but never once blinking in the face of the punishment they were facing.
Eventually, something would have to give.
Rollins made sure that question didn't have to be answered, at least not yet (this also sets up for a future Lesnar vs. Reigns match and if you watched this and wouldn't want that, I don't get you). He came in at just the right time, hit his finish on both guys, pinned Reigns (who had taken the beating of a lifetime and stood up to it), didn't pin Lesnar (who avoided having his shoulders down for that three count once again), and, in a great bit of character work, didn't waste time celebrating anywhere near the ring. He grabbed that strap and ran the hell out of there, only stopping to swing it around his head so gloriously when he was out of the line of fire, even if it was imagined.
It was perfect. It was a WrestleMania main event with an unpredictable, wholely satisfying finish true to the characters of those involved. What's more, it sets up so very well for the months to come.
They couldn't have done any better.
Hello Attitude Era my old friend
I loved the Triple H vs. Sting match in the moment. I stopped a time or two to wonder how any of what was happening made much of any sense but it was so brief it didn't take away any enjoyment of the match within the time it was happening.
It was a throwback to the Attitude Era, which, in hindsight, is exactly what it was always going to be. It's what it needed to be. Triple H told us he didn't know what he and Sting could do together at their age and with their lack of ring work over the past year.
So they went full Attitude Era.
The match was slow and the work wasn't all that great. But it picked up in a big way just as soon as the finishers were broken out, at which point the run-ins from major stars started. First, it was D-Generation X in support of Triple H. Then, it was the nWo in support of Sting. Does that make any damn sense? Not really, but go watch the Attitude Era and marvel at how much of it looked EXACTLY like this. Slow match that isn't very good until crazy run-ins and shenanigans from a bunch of stars you couldn't help being a fan of.
That's what this was.
DX and the nWo, old as they are, were bumping around out there like they knew it might be the last time and they needed to make the most of it. Even Hogan took a bump! Hell, Scott Hall took a back body drop on hips that should have exploded right there on the mat. Kevin Nash may or may not have trolled us by grabbing at his quad when he went down amidst the madness.
It was wild, wacky, and so damn satisfying, even if Sting lost, even if the post-match handshake also made no sense considering the character Triple H portrays.
This was one of those times I absolutely agree with the idea that you just have to forget all that and roll with it. It was wacky but it was FUN. I doubt it holds up over time, just like the Attitude Era, but the players involved and the situation being what it was, it was awesome.
That's Ronda Rousey's music!
The Rock showed up for an angle at WrestleMania and that's not a surprise at all at this point. It's hardly even a big deal anymore considering how much work he's done for the company for years now.
But his pulling Ronda Rousey out of the crowd to get physical with both Triple H and Stephanie McMahon is a HUGE deal.
Rousey is the UFC women's bantamweight champion, a huge star in the world of MMA. She's also slowly but surely becoming a more mainstream attraction, with movie roles, appearances on various talk shows, and all that comes along with generally being a big deal.
They way they got to her was just as good as her actual appearance.
"The Rock appears and says things" has always been a winning formula. They haven't strayed from it often either, and for good reason. Here, they played it like he went up against the strongest heel promo in the promotion, Stephanie McMahon, and was made to look like he had to back down to her. And Stephanie is such a good heel, you wanted SOMETHING to happen to her. She pisses you off so very much that you're begging for something, anything.
And that's when Rock swerves us all in a huge shocker to bring Rousey, a legitimate badass, into the ring. She had a hard time on the microphone, but considering this was her first appearance in a pro wrestling angle on such a big stage, she did quite well for herself.
Also, SHE JUDO TOSSED TRIPLE H.
Also, SHE ROUGHED UP STEPHANIE MCMAHON.
This was awesome. The Rock & Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon is a BIG money tag team match that HAS to happen at some point. You wouldn't think they would run an angle like this at such a major show and not have that in the plans.
PLEASE have that in the plans.
All the best to all the rest
Undertaker rises: The crowd had a hard time getting into this match considering it was super late in the show and came after the amazing Rock-Rousey-Stephanie-Triple H angle but they told a good story. They established that Undertaker could get back to his old self early, then created some doubt by having Bray Wyatt go hard after him to see how much punishment he could take. In the end, 'Taker showed that he does, in fact, still have it. He looked awesome, and he got through the match without much issue. The door is open for one more next year in Dallas. Let's do it.
Rusev vs. John Cena: These two have great chemistry, so the match they put together was solid for what it was. They also told a good story with the right booking, with Lana coming back and costing Rusev the match. Realistically, the US title will mean more with Cena carrying it around and they can always do the rematch and switch it back. Plus, the ring entrances got this over before they ever did anything in the match itself. Rusev rolled in on a tank. The man came rolling into WrestleMania in a tank. A tank. I love this guy.
Divas given a chance: The work in this match was somewhat sloppy and there wasn't a ton of heat for it, but, as was the theme throughout the night, it told the right story. The Bellas have been winning on distractions for some time and AJ Lee and Paige were ready for that and avoided it to win themselves. The good gals go over, just how it should be. Freaks and geeks forever!
Go up that ladder: There was never any doubt that this would be an incredibly fun match with each and every guy in it going all out to make it as fun as it could be. And they did. They also set up a creative finish between two fan favorites, Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler, where they probably couldn't go wrong but played it safe and put the strap on the guy everyone wanted anyway. It was wonderful. It was also good, for me, because they didn't need to go as full out as they used to. These matches are hell on a human body and while Dean Ambrose took a really bad bump through a ladder, it appeared everyone came out relatively unscathed.
That RKO though: Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton was the kind of match we would have looked more fondly on had it occurred on a card that didn't feature so many amazing stories playing out. But it accomplished exactly what it needed to. Rollins was good, but Orton was better when it counted and we got one of the best RKO's in history out of it. That's a win.
Andre Battle Royal: Hate the fact that Big Show was put over and don't feel like there is any good reason for giving him the win in this match, but at least it was well laid out. Actually, they put this together in such a way that Damien Mizdow played the role they wanted Roman Reigns to play at Royal Rumble and got over with it in a huge way. He just couldn't overcome Show. Again, that doesn't make sense to me, but it was one of the lone issues on an otherwise oustanding card.
Fatal 4-way: Just fun. That's all. FACT!
I absolutely loved this show from top to bottom. There was only one real hiccup and even then it was dissatisfaction with a wrestler I don't care for winning. I'm shocked at how good this event was.
That's it from me, Cagesiders. Now it's your turn to sound off in the comments section below with all your thoughts on last night's show. How did you like it, if you liked it at all?
Photos via WWE.com