I’m like the Easter Bunny. Dropping an egg (or review) to give you all something to do between dealing with your families and celebrating.
-Taped from Miami Beach, Florida
-Your hosts are Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross for Hell in a Cell only
-World Heavyweight Championship: Daniel Bryan (champion) (w/AJ) vs. Sheamus
Match in Five Words or Less: April Fool’s?
Match Highlights: Bell rings. Bryan kisses AJ. Sheamus hits a Brogue kick. New champion.
Match Analysis: This match provides a blueprint for how not to start a show off. Having Sheamus winning the world title in such a short time was completely disrespectful to both Bryan and Sheamus. These guys got cut from last year’s show. Now they can’t even get a minute of ring time. What a rib. Forget Bryan jobbing because I’m okay with that. This is utter BS of the highest order. When you build a show around four matches for people to care about and one of them goes 18 seconds… that’s called a rip-off. And it shows. Why? Because on this night and the next, there were a million “Daniel Bryan” and “YES!” chants. Now consider this. The fans who attend Mania are the absolute die hards. They’re willing to pay 1500 dollars for tickets and God knows what on airfare. If you’re actively trying to piss them off, you are failing as a company. If you are not trying to cater to them in some way, you’re failing. WWE is so obsessed with trying to be mainstream and pandering to the lowest common denominator that they forget about the people who are willing to travel from every continent except Antarctica to come to the shows. Hell, the reason WWE is able to make 50 million dollars off this weekend is because of… THE FANS. Without them, Wrestlemania is in your average basketball stadium like Raw or Smackdown. I normally don’t rate matches this short, but man does this match deserve the rating I’m giving it. Rant over.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: NEW World Heavyweight Champion-Sheamus/:18/DUD
-Our first time-wasting skit as The Miz tries to pretend he’s still important and John Laurinitis (who’s in an amazing white suit by the way) gives an inspirational speech about being the GM of both shows by using past show memories to illustrate how important the match later truly is.
-Kane vs. Randy Orton
Match in Five Words or Less: Pushing the Youngsters
Match Highlights: Kane whips Orton quickly and clotheslines him. Uppercut and a series of right hands as the fans chant for the guy who just lost in 18 seconds. Orton kicks and punches out of a chokeslam. He steps on the hands and everywhere else. Draping DDT by Kane drops Orton across the top rope. Running boot to the side of the head. Snapmare and a low dropkick. Chinlock. Punch exchange. Big uppercut sends Orton down. Whip into the corner. Orton gets his boot up. Side slam. Kane twists Orton’s neck and chinlocks him. Right hand by Orton. Swinging neckbreaker. Kane sends Orton into the turnbuckle. Another boot. Vertical suplex. Orton hits a backbreaker. Charge misses. Series of clotheslines by Orton. Powerslam. Kane ends up on the apron. Perfect set-up for the draping DDT. Orton goes into his viper mode. RKO blocked. Boot to the face. Kane climbs up top. Orton catches him with a dropkick. Kane chokeslams Orton for two. Right hands in the corner. Orton counters with one of his own. Shove. RKO blocked. Low dropkick. Kane hits a back elbow. To the top. Orton punches away. He joins Kane on the top. Kane chokeslams Orton and gets a clean win.
Match Analysis: I don’t understand why Kane is winning matches against main eventers in 2012. This was slow, lumbering, and overall not very interesting. Orton has been losing a little too often lately. I’m not sure they have a direction for Orton, but he certainly deserves better than to be working Kane at Wrestlemania. Kane winning also means this feud must go on, so we’re off to a sterling start.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: Kane/10:56/*1/2
-“World Deadliest Catch” skit. So glad we all paid 65 dollars for commercials…
-Speaking of commercials, we get WWE padding itself on the shoulder for its relationship with the National Guard.
-WWE Intercontinental Championship: Cody Rhodes (champion) vs. The Big Show
Match in Five Words or Less: A Big Moment
Match Highlights: Rhodes immediately powders to the outside. Show gives chase. Dropkick. Show catches his dive and tosses him back in the ring. Rhodes with a boot and strikes. Show shoves and knees him. Beel out of the corner. Open hand chop in the corner. Another hard chop. Punch to the back. Bodyslam. Hard punch to the midsection followed by another chop. Stink face in the corner, which the announcers refer to as an embarrassment. Show misses a charge. Rhodes hits a dropkick. Rhodes hit a low dropkick. Stomps from Rhodes. Show powers out hard out of a lateral press. Rhodes works over the left knee. Clubbering blows by Show. Rhodes gets his boots up out of the corner. Rhodes guillotines Show’s arm. Disaster Kick. A second one is met with a spear. Straps come down. Knock-out punch and a three count.
Match Analysis: If nothing else, they built this story well. Show hasn’t had a Wrestlemania moment. Now he at least gets to win the I-C title and have something somewhat special to look back on. Show does a great job selling the importance afterward by actually emotional and exchanging some PDA with his wife. I’m disappointed Rhodes didn’t have something better to do, but here’s hoping for better things moving forward.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: NEW Intercontiental Champion-The Big Show/5:18/**
-Video package puts over how awesome it is to be a Diva. There are literally so many jokes I could make… I’m gonna leave this one alone.
-Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix (WWE Divas Champion) and Eve
Match in Five Words or Less: Not Exactly Shimmer
Match Highlights: First off, what was Beth Phoenix wearing on her head before the match? Poor fashion decision there. Eve and Kelly Kelly start. Rana by Kelly. Knee and forearm by Eve. Whip in the corner. Charge misses. Kelly sends Eve’s head into the buckle. Handspring elbow met with knees. Eve goes up top. Kelly knocks her down. Menounos tags in and it’s a double stink face. Heat segment on the non-wrestler as they focus on the injured ribs. Menounos kicks Eve out of the ring and makes a hot tag. The crowd is comatose. Thesz press by Kelly. Eve knocked off the apron. Phoenix gets hit with a headscissors and she goes into the buckle. Somersault splash off the top by Kelly. That was dangerous. Eve breaks the count and sends Kelly into the buckle. Glam Slam countered into a bulldog. Menounos is injured but she comes back in. She climbs up top. Phoenix lifts her up for a press slam. Phoenix sent into her own partner. Roll-up gets Menounos the winner.
Match Analysis: Nothing like a celebrity beating the person who’s supposed to be the best women’s wrestler in the company. But hey. Menounos did a better selling job than a lot of regular wrestlers. This was better than a lot of Diva’s matches , but this first hour was still a borderline abomination.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos /6:49/*1/2
-Cryptic Shawn Michaels interview.
-The fake attendance is given. Why do they even bother? They’re a publicly traded company. How can they get away with this?
-The Undertaker vs. Triple H (Shawn Michaels as special referee)
Match in Five Words or Less: Instant Classic
Match Highlights: Immediate right exchange. Taker takes him into the corner with strikes. Jim Ross proves immediate dividends. Triple H gets his boots up in the corner. Violence party in the corner. Taker chokeslams into the corner. To the outside they go. Taker maintains the advantage. Triple H sends him into the cell. Whip in the cage and a back drop. Headbutts send Hunter down. Hunter tossed into the cage. More punching and a slap. Choking by the edge of the ring. Knee to the midsection. Taker shoves HBK. Another headbutt and Triple H gets tossed into the cage yet again. Hunter rammed into the stairs. Back in the ring. Clothesline by Hunter. Facebuster. NO SELL! Clothesline by Taker. HBK sells it too. Shoulder tackle takes him down. More shoulder blocks. Old school! Hunter tossed to the floor. Stairs between the eyes. Taker puts the steps in the ring. Running boot as Hunter remains prone on the apron. Leg drop. Kick and a DDT by Triple H. Taker’s head gets rammed into the stairs multiple times. Pedigree countered into a back drop. Fist drop. Series of strikes. Hunter sent into the stairs once again. Triple H hits a nasty looking spinebuster on the stairs. Nasty looking because of the great camera angle. Taker applies Hell’s Gate because he’s not screwing around. Hunter powerbombs him and gets a two count. Hunter introduces a chair and begins using it. Hunter sets the stairs up in the corner. Taker rammed into them. Hunter sends the stairs outside so anyone who wants to get in can presumably do that. Hunter then absolutely wears Taker’s back out with a series of chair shots. Ridiculous. Hunter and HBK argue about whether Taker will quit. Taker tells HBK he won’t give and shoves him. More chair shots. Triple H says to end it. Taker tells HBK “Do not stop it.” Triple H gets two more shots. He covers and gets two. Another shot and HBK wants his friend to stop. Time for Mr. Sledgehammer. HBK begs Taker to end the match. Sledgehammer shot to the gut. 1-2-NO! The reactions from HBK throughout this match are incredible. He’s adding to the match without even wrestling. HBK takes the sledgehammer away and tosses it outside. More talk of ending the match. HBK teases ringing the bell. Taker has had enough and applies Hell’s Gate. Sledgehammer shot to break it up. Taker kicks Triple H low. Hell’s Gate. No official. Triple H grabs the hammer but drops it. Taker hunkers down. Triple H drops the hammer. Taker lets go of the hold because his opponent appears to be unconscious. Charles Robinson comes down to unlock the cage. Another referee locks it behind him. Chokeslam and the cover for two. Taker is not happy with the kick-out so Little Naitch eats a chokeslam. Poor guy. Tombstone countered into a SUPERKICK. PEDIGREE! 1-2-NOOOOOOOOOOOO! HBK practically cries in the corner. What an unbelievable nearfall that was. Triple H again grabs the sledgehammer. Taker sits up! Big boot. Right hands. Whip across and a clothesline. Snake eyes. Running boot. Leg drop. Tombstone. As is tradition now, Triple H kicks out. Taker has saliva rolling down his face. Unreal. HBK doesn’t know what to do in the corner. Headbutt. Hunter hits one of his own. Right hand exchange. They slowly rise and continue. Tombstone countered into a second pedigree. 1-2-NOOOO! Taker sits up. Each man goes for a weapon. Taker steps on the sledgehammer. Now Taker takes his turn to wear Hunter out with a series of chair shots. Taker tosses the chair away and covers for two. Hunter goes for the hammer. Taker stalks him. Just like a scene reminiscent of Wrestlemanias 24 and 26, Hunter won’t stay down and Taker will need to finish him. Crotch chop. Taker nails Hunter with the hammer as HBK turns away from the beating. Straps come down. Throat slash. Tombstone. 20-0.
Hold on though. We’re not done. Taker celebrates in almost reluctance. Triple H is down and out. HBK doesn’t know what to do. Then Taker, Hunter, and HBK all walk out together and hug each other on the stage. Era over. What an phenomenal scene and sight to behold.
Match Analysis: My play-by-play and words can never match the incredible quality of this match. I’ll do my best, but they will fail. Just watch this match… as many times as you can. Then watch it one more time. Screw the haters. This one of the best matches of 2012 and in Wrestlemania history. If I never saw any of these three men ever again, I’d be okay with that. And Shawn Michaels as the referee. Wow. He almost made this match by himself. That would truly represent this as the end of an era and be an appropriate ending to everyone’s career. The post-match only adds to the mystique of this. If people didn’t have such a bias toward these guys (particularly Hunter), than I think people would have been legitimately crying after the match. I’m going the full monty here, something I rarely do. But as I’ve said before. My review. My opinion.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: The Undertaker/30:52/*****
-Hall of Fame ceremony. Fitting it comes after that match. Hey Ric Flair, how ya doin? Nice crotch chop Mike Tyson. Good haircut Edge. Always good to see the Hall of Famers, albeit briefly.
-Flo Rida shoves Heath Slater. This was another giant waste of time in a series of them.
-Team Johnny (David Otunga, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, and Drew McEntyre w/Brie Bella, Vickie Guerrero, and John Laurinitis) vs. Team Teddy (Santino Marella [United States Champion], Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Booker T, Zack Ryder, and The Great Khali w/ Nicki Bella, Hornswaggle, Aksana and Teddy Long)
Match in Five Words or Less: The T-Shirt Match!
Match Highlights: All of these wrestlers being in t-shirts make them look like jobbers. And honestly, Dolph Ziggler deserves better. Kofi and Dolph start out and pretty much have the best sequence of the match. R-Truth comes in for a double hip toss. McEntyre briefly works Truth over. Great Khali comes in and lumbers about. Clothesline sends McEntyre down. Booker T with a series of strikes. McEntyre reverses a whip. Back elbow and leg lariat by Booker. Side slam. Kicks from Booker. Cheap shot by Otunga. Booker goes to work on everyone on the apron. Guillotine by Otunga. Heat segment on Booker. Gotta love how the announcer is getting more ring time than the other actual roster members on the apron. The heat segment ends as things break down. Everyone ends up outside so Hornswaggle can assist dive on Henry. Henry tosses him away in a hilarious moment. Aksana and Vickie have a cat fight… cause that’s what this match needed. Marella tags in and gets in some token offense. The most impressive part is Booker was the legal man and tagged Marella in. Cobra. Laurinitis interjects. Cobra hit. Ziggler breaks the count. Ziggler misses a charge. Ryder monkey flips Ziggler. The bump Ziggler takes is amazing. He sets up for the finish. Rough Ryder on Ziggler. Knee on Miz. Eve comes in to celebrate. Referee takes her out of the ring. Skull Crushing Finale ends the match as Laurinitis becomes the GM of both shows. Miz is also undefeated at Wrestlemania. Really? Really? Really?
Eve low blows Ryder after the match ends. Well, that was something.
Match Analysis: The John Laurinitis character is going to be milked until he’s long past the point of being amusing. We’ve seen the heel GM thing sooooo many times, it’s beyond annoying. This match was basically pointless, and no actual wrestler came out looking well. Vince McMahon also gave an extra FU to the Internet fans by once again burying one of our favorites. Eve did literally what WWE has been doing figuratively. (Thanks @WWECreative for that joke).
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: Team Johnny/10:38/*
-Highlights of the week are shown. WWE <3 Miami.
-Alex Rodriguez and Torrie Wilson are in the front row. Wonder if they got comped.
-Laurinitis runs into Punk getting ready for his championship match. A stipulation is added. If Punk loses by disqualification, he’ll lose the belt. I thought this would kill the match dead. Thankfully, I was proven wrong.
-WWE Championship: CM Punk (champion) vs. Chris Jericho
Match in Five Words or Less: A Technical Masterpiece
Match Highlights: Feeling out process. Punk beats Jericho around. Jericho continues saying things and/or slapping him around to try and incur a disqualification. Thus, Jericho would win the championship. Punk climbs up top. Jericho rolls outside. Clothesline to the floor. Jericho makes one more comment about his sister. Punk tries bringing a chair in the ring. Jericho begs Punk to hit him in the head. Punk puts the chair down and spin kicks the challenger. Jericho hits a dropkick off the middle rope. Series of shots to the neck. Knee strikes by Jericho. Back elbow. Springboard dropkick attempt on the apron. Jericho blocks a Go 2 Sleep and clotheslines him over. Suplex from the apron to the floor. Sort of looked more like Goldberg’s old Jackhammer move than anything else. Running kick by Jericho. Elbow drop in the back. Colt 45. Chinlock. Slap to the side of the head. Tilt a whirl backbreaker by Jericho followed by a kick to the back. Running senton. Stomps by Jericho. Forearms by Punk. Whip reversed but Punk gets his boot up. Jericho brings Punk down hard on the back of his head. Punk could have easily gotten concussed there. Knee placed in the back by Jericho. Punk mule kicks Jericho back. Running knee blocked by a kick. Bulldog also blocked as Jericho gets tossed in the corner. Punk hits a kick and series of strikes. Leg lariat. Clothesline. Swinging neckbreaker. Running knee in the corner. Bulldog blocked. Lionsault met with knees. Jericho counters that into Walls of Jericho. Punk counters with his legs. High kick to the back of the head. 1-2-NO! Bodyslam. Punk goes up top for the elbow drop. Jericho gets his knees up in time. Codebreaker but Punk rolls outside. Punk hits Go 2 Sleep, but Jericho is too close to the ropes. Cover and of course Jericho gets his foot on the bottom rope. Series of kicks. Snap powerslam. More counters. Jericho tosses Punk into the top rope. Lionsault but Punk kicks out. Series of right hands by Jericho. Punk chops Jericho while Jericho is prone on the second rope. Headbutt by Punk. Rana but Jericho steps down and applies Walls of Jericho! Amazing! Punk grabs the bottom rope. Punk back drops Jericho out of the ring. Tope suicida. Running knee into the post as Jericho’s head hits the steel. Springboard leads to a Codebreaker. Wow. Jericho elbows out of the Go 2 Sleep again. Running charge and stomps. Jericho climbs up top. Punk kicks him. Punk says he’s the best in the world but Jericho applies an OLD SCHOOL LION TAMER! Those knees are in the champion’s back. Punk rolls underneath into a small package. Jericho counters into one of his own. Punk into the Anaconda Vice. Jericho uses the hair to pull him for a nearfall. Back to the hold. Knee strikes by Jericho and he rolls over into Walls of Jericho. Punk kicks away. Anaconda Vice. He shifts his body so Jericho can’t hit the knee strikes. Jericho has no choice but to tap out.
Match Analysis: If there had been a disqualification finish, I would have rioted. As it turns out, this was the best pure wrestling match of the entire show. Some good in-ring work and storytelling combined to make this an awesome match. The finish, really the last two minutes, turned this from a very good match to a borderline classic. I originally had this at four stars, but I appreciated the first half so much more second time around, I gave it an even better rating.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: STILL WWE Champion-CM Punk/22:21/****1/4
-Brodus Clay comes out for another time-wasting segment. He calls his momma and a bunch of women dance. Moving on quickly.
-We get a trailer for G.I.Joe. 65 dollars to see a movie trailer.
-The Rock vs. John Cena
Match in Five Words or Less: Attitude > Jaaaaaaaaaaahn Cena
Match Highlights: I’m going to pretend (and thus skip over) the ridiculousness that took place before the match didn’t happen. We of course get the staredown before the match officially gets underway. We get a pair of lock-ups and each man asserts their strength. Pair of armdrags and right into the cradle for two. Cena doesn’t know what to make of that. Clearly, he wasn’t watching Survivor Series then. Hip toss and headlock take over by Cena. Boot by Cena. Rock responds with a right hand. Charge met with a takedown. Cena powders to avoid a sharpshooter. Rock kicks Cena as he comes back in the ring. Cena takes Rock into the corner. Running shoulder tackle. After hitting another one, he measures Rock and gets a clothesline. Bearhug on the mat. Cena low bridges Rock. Rock sent into the barricade. Rock sent into the English announce table as Cena continues working the ribs and upper midsection. Right hand from Cena. Belly-to-belly suplex. Rock comes back with punches. Off the rope and back into the bearhug. Rock punches out of it. Kick and a DDT. Cena punches Rock in the corner. Series of jabs. Rock fires back. Flying clothesline. Spinebuster and he calls for the People’s Elbow. Cena immediately goes for the STF. Shoulder tackles. Back suplex. Five knuckle shuffle. AA countered. Double clothesline. Fisticuffs change. Rock comes out on top. Cena out of nowhere with an AA. 1-2-NO! Rock Bottom. 1-2-NO! Elbows in the corner. Cena hits a side slam. Cena climbs up top and waits forever before hitting a leg drop directly onto Rock’s back. Spear and it’s time for Rock to apply his awful sharpshooter. Cena reaches the bottom rope. Right hands by Rock. Rock reapplies the sharpshooter. Cena on the apron. Rock takes advantage. Cena sent crashing into the stairs. Rock sends Cena’s head into the side of the stairs and heads back in the ring. Shoulder tackle by Cena. Sunset flip but he transitions into an STF. Rock gets close to the ropes, so Cena drags him back in the middle of the ring. Rock fades. Referee checks the arm. Rock gets up of course. Rock to the bottom rope. Samoan drop. Both men are down. Back and forth they go. Rock Bottom blocked. AA countered. Spinebuster. People’s Elbow. 1-2-NO! Cena gets a small package for two. Slingshot into a roll-up for two. A second belly-to-belly is blocked. Cena puts Rock on the top rope. The first three rows might run out of air with all the wind Rock is sucking right now. Rock does fight back. He fights back and hits a cross body. Cena rolls through, powers him on his shoulders, and hits an AA. 1-2-NO! Cena is unhappy. He tosses his wristband and cockily goes for the People’s Elbow. Rock gets up, delivers a Rock Bottom, and wins in a rather shocking result.
Match Analysis: Having Rocky go thirty minutes probably wasn’t the best in the world as he was supposed noticeably tired. I’m not the type of person to make fun of him for being out of shape because if someone asked me to go thirty minutes after being away from the ring, I probably couldn’t do it either. As long as Rock beating Cena goes somewhere, I’m perfectly content with the result. If not, then it was as big a waste of time as Kane beating Orton. This was a perfectly acceptable WWE style main event with lots of kick-outs and a total lack of psychology. I enjoyed it for the most part. The crowd really elevated this to another level. Without their passion and excitement, I can’t imagine this being nearly as good. I can’t even say this was the best match on the show, but it lived up to the hype if nothing else.
Winner (s)/Time/Rating: The Rock/30:52/***1/2
The Verdict: I have a rule where if a show has two four star matches, it’s a thumbs up regardless of what’s going on with the rest of the card. This Wrestlemania tested my theory. In what was the most schizophrenic Mania of all time, we got two incredible matches that will undoubtedly be replayed a million times and possibly finish strong in MOTY balloting. We got a quality main event that at least met expectations. Then… nothing. There was nothing to the undercard. The first hour nearly wiped me out of the show immediately. There was a lot of filler between the skits and commercials. Despite all of that, I give Wrestlemania 28 a strong thumbs up. Why? Because Hunter Hearst Helmsley, Undertaker, and Shawn Michaels proved why they’re three of the best of all time. Because CM Punk and Chris Jericho literally brought a crowd back from the dead. This was not the best Wrestlemania of all time, but it was far from the worst.