Lillian Garcia opens the show with her beautiful voice and we get a good view of the arena, the set designs, and all the other stuff we normally open Wrestlemania with and the crowd is absolutely foaming at the mouth. I’m pumped, the houseguests are pumped, and everything is absolutely buzzing about tonight and I feel like something special is in the air.
Daniel Brian and Sheamus are going to start us off and I’m pumped! This is going to be a great… WHAT THE F-BOMB?!?!?!! Wrestlemania, biggest show of the year, the time for people to really blow the roof off and Sheamus hits the brogue kick and a pin to get the World Title and I’m heated. I’m ticked! I wanted something good out of this match, thought these two had the potential to steal the show, and we get THIS honky-tonk load?!??!! Everyone in my house is laughing but I’m TICKED!!!! First off, never mind that Daniels is one of the most amazing workers in the business and that he’s a star for years to come… but Sheamus is supposed to be this huge deal that the WWE wants to push to the moon. Giving him this cheap win doesn’t build him on what is one of the biggest shows he’s ever going to see, it just doesn’t give him a chance to really shine.
Kane vs. Randy Orton is up next and… these guys put on a good match. I know Orton was working hurt, but he and Kane build up some decent interest and sort of make up for the travesty of that first match. I’m getting back into the show and Kane picks up the win? A little confused with that finish… Kane? Really? Orton is supposed to be their big star for the next several years so I was a little taken aback, but I guess it makes sense and I don’t begrudge Kane getting this big win on Wrestlemania. Not at all.
So then we have Big Show vs. Rhodes for the IC title… I’ve always loved the IC title and consider it to be one of the most important wrestlemania matches whenever it goes on for defense. The Rhodes and Show angle has actually been built up pretty nicely and these guys put on a pretty good match. The ending put the title on Show, which is nice for a guy whose done so much for the company and worked so hard over the past decade. Rhodes has a big future ahead of him and he gave a great performance and showed his mic skills leading up to the match… what more can I say? I liked this match.
And it’s a good thing I liked the last two matches because the Divas are next. And who booked this??? Celebrity performers are not supposed to beat the Women’s Champion! This match was chunks.
The sun is setting… and that brings down Micheals, HHH, and Taker for Hell in a Cell.
I am blown away. This isn’t a great hold for hold match, it isn’t blood and spots… it’s pure emotion and it’s driven by the old school psychology of telling a story and putting the audience on the edge of their seats. I talked about “magic” and this is it… this is a work of art. Years from now, people are going to be talking about this match and all the emotion involved. The investment of that audience and being able to wrap up a jaded hand like me and sell me on every near fall throughout this affair. Michaels did a GREAT job as the ref… he gave us the emotion we needed, didn’t get overly involved, and it wasn’t about him… it was about Taker and HHH and what these two men mean to this great sport. And yeah, I still call it a sport.
Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy is next and… it was what it was. It followed HiaC and there was no way anyone was going to do that and deliver. I will say this, however… Ryder makes the most of his Mania opportunity and got me interested in his deal with Eve. Ryder makes a good sympathetic baby face, which is odd considering how doofy his gimmick is supposed to be. Not the greatest worker in the world, but he has charisma. Oh, Team Johnny wins and we get more Otunga and Ace for the next several months. Wonderful.
Backstage, Johnny Ace manages to suck the crowd anticipation out of Punk vs. Jericho, giving them both an up-hill climb in following HiaC with stupid gimmicks attached.
Punk vs. Jericho.
Initial reaction was “Meh?!?!!” It took awhile to get into this match as they build the story with Jericho as a coward, trying to get Punk to DQ himself, and other nonsense. The crowd isn’t into it and I’m wondering where the fast-paced action is that this match sort of promised. I get it toward the tail end and these guys finally yanked me back into the moment and I’m popping huge for the ending…. Second view of the match, this is something that needs to be taught. The crowd was STILL blown up from Taker vs. HHH, and these two guys has to work some real magic to bring the crowd back into the moment. Working that slower pace gave these guys the building blocks for late match intensity and showed just HOW you’re supposed to follow a great match. Punk is a star, Jericho puts him over, and I’m actually more impressed in hindsight than I was on initial reaction.
Concert songs with MGK and Flo-Rida… would’ve been better served to throw another match in there and the fans are NOT into the music or the performances. Flo-Rida isn’t actually all that bad, but not really my kind of music (neither is MGK, but I can at least understand the appeal for Flo and his performance is all about the moment). MGK feels canned.
Rock vs. Cena… good match from both guys. Good story in the ring with Rock getting hurt in the early and selling the ring rust. Comes back in the later half and… Rock wins?!?!!! Actually, I already thought he was going to win based on some of the promos that Cena did leading up to the match but it was still pretty cool to see.
Real quick view on the skits and vignettes peppering the show… none of them were offensive, none of them really helped build the show, and none of them really mattered in the end run of everything else going on. Hall of Fame inductees were nice to see, Foley and Santino did a bit of comedy with Ron Simmons adding the punchline, Flo-Rida even got involved with Heath Slater and some of the people who just weren’t going to be seen on Mania any other way.
Some friends demand I mention the Funkasaurus Rex and his Mama dancing. I mentioned it. There. Happy? Fuck you.
Over all, this was one of the better Manias the past several years… far better than last years’ travesty and there were some pretty good matches to round out the show. Taker and HHH delivered the best performance of the night, but I have to hand it to Jericho and Punk for trying to follow that up with everything seeming to work against them. Rock and Cena delivered what both guys are capable of. Brian and Sheamus was an absolute travesty, however. The Diva’s booking was moronic, but what else is new?