Monday, 2 April 2012

WrestleMania 28 In Review

And there we have it. That's another WrestleMania in the history books. A whole other year before we get to New York City for number 29. I gotta say this was a Mania I was really pumped for and I honestly haven't been this excited for a WrestleMania since it was time for 19 back in 2003 (which also happened to be my first one). Anyway there was certainly a lot of hype surrounding the main events, with the headliner receiving an entire year of build up to it not to mention two promising world title matches. But did the event live up to the hype? Well, we'll take a look.

1) Daniel Bryan* vs Sheamus (World Heavyweight Championship):
Yet another WrestleMania opening with a World Heavyweight Championship match. Only this turned out to be a complete insult to the crowd. Sheamus and Daniel Bryan had all the potential in the world to put on an entertaining match that would have gotten the crowd riled up. But WWE threw us a curveball and gave us a huge cop-out. Was timing the issue? Coz twenty one minutes went by from that Brodus Clay segment to Rock and Cena actually getting in the ring and the HIAC could have had a good five minutes knocked off it. Oh well, since I don't want to be overly negative, I will say I'm happy for Sheamus to be champion again and hopefully the rematch on Smackdown/Extreme Rules will hopefully be much better. And it certainly looks like AJ and Daniel Bryan are headed to Splitsville which is one small plus anyway. Funnily enough the third wheel of this match ended up taking all the attention for herself. N/A

If you ask me, Johnny's mic skills are getting better. He certainly added some more personality this time and came across as a proper unlikeable douche. David Otunga's t-shirt reminds me of the old WCW action figures that came with a removable rubber shirt for various wrestlers. Too bad Team Teddy couldn't get a backstage segment as well.

2) Randy Orton vs Kane:
They bump the world title's time but they give THIS all the time it needs? Sorry but Kane seriously can't go like he used to, which is strange considering I felt he held his own against Cena at Elimination Chamber fairly well. Sitting through about two minutes of weak forearms and slow exchanges bored the crowd and got them chanting "Daniel Bryan!" who again could have delivered a much better match with Sheamus than either of these two. I noticed a weird moment when Orton was in a chinlock and he appeared to be unscrewing something on his mouth. I thought he might have been blading or maybe he was taking a piercing out but it just looked odd. Anyway the match did pick up a bit as it got moving along, Orton surprising me always with his athleticism. If it wasn't for the WHC being cut I'd consider this the weakest match of the night. The ending made up for it though. I thought Orton might be trying a lucha-inspired top rope arm drag but that obviously isn't his style. The chokeslam from the top looked perfect, as did a few of Kane's other moves. It was just his brawling that was off. Decent match but would have been more at home on Raw. Still pissed that I didn't get Zack Ryder vs Kane. 5/10

Gotta love it whenever Mick Foley makes an appearance though I'm wondering where Hornswoggle, Bob Barker and Peewee Herman were when this segment was being filmed. Would that be a Hall Of Fame sized "Damn" from Ron Simmons?

3) Cody Rhodes* vs Big Show (Intercontinental Championship):
It was here that I noticed the theme of having the video package for the matches play after the first guy has gotten into the ring and it's a touch I liked. Though probably a bit boring for the guy already in the ring waiting for his match to start. I was wondering how these two would do and I'll say it was really strange to see the big guy as the face and the little guy as the heel. I spent much of the first half wondering if Cody would ever get some offence in but this was a fine match overall. Big Show may be a lumbering giant but when he wants to he can move pretty well for someone his size. I did have to lol at King mentioning his weight could shift from 15 pounds depending on what he has for breakfast. King I think you should take a trip to Weight Watchers yourself before you can throw all these fat jokes at other people. Funny how Big Show gave him the Stink Face when they had him and Kelly Kelly as BFFs for a while. Great display of psychology by the champ and I see those Yoga classes are really helping Big Show out. The mid-air spear was a thing of beauty though I'm sure Cody's boys are in ICU right now. Not sure how I feel about Big Show winning the IC title but it's nice that the belt got defended and properly showcased at WrestleMania and this match did help it feel a lot more important. 6.5/10

The Divas on this early? Getting a *video package* as well? What is this? TNA?

4) Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres vs Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos:
I'm sure coming out to Eve's music makes Beth cheery though obviously they went for the song that would get the bigger reaction. I love how WWE allows Maria to work a match with broken ribs simply because she's a celebrity. I'll get to her in a moment. Kelly's entire part of the match was very good - all her moves looked well and crisp (sans that pitiful attempt at hitting the ropes) and Eve in turn sold them well. Maria did look as awkward as you'd expect a non wrestler with broken ribs to look in a match like this. Nonetheless there was no botching and nothing on a level as bad as Jenna Morasca/Sharmell or Tori/Sable. I'll almost say that Kelly's entire part of the match made up for Maria's awkward part. She was channelling Molly Holly a bit with a nice Molly-Go-Round that looked perfect, as did the wheelbarrow bulldog to counter the Glam Slam. Sigh, Maria pins Beth, though Beth's been through this kinda stuff before with "Santina" and her career still recovered. Surprisingly decent amount of time given and not as bad as it could have been. 6/10

5) Triple H vs Undertaker (Hell In A Cell):
I was excited to see Undertaker's hair and I have to say it suits him. It makes him look a bit more menacing. I was half hoping he'd knock Triple H out, take out the scissors and give him a much needed grooming as well. The early part of the match had me a little worried, mostly because Undertaker was in control almost completely and I was afraid he wouldn't be able to bump for Triple H too much. Obviously that idea went out the window with that spinebuster on the ring steps. That was probably my favourite spot of the match, as well as the Hell's Gate counter. It's funny to me that Undertaker is nearly always the heel in his matches yet Triple H was playing that role here. For a moment I thought we were seeing the old Triple H from the Attitude Era. I was very happy with Shawn Michaels's role in the match. When he was first announced as the referee I felt it was maybe overbooking it a bit but they told a very good story out there with him not getting involved for most of the early part, and therefore not detracting from the wrestling going on (take note, TNA). Once he did get involved he made the match that more interesting. It's almost like injecting glucose into a coma patient. As is to now be expected whenever I review a Triple H match, here's my stock line - way too long. I said earlier it could have had five minutes shaved off it and added onto the World title match. I'll give Triple H credit, there was no padding like his ladder match with Kevin Nash but it still just dragged on and on. For me it stopped being exciting and I just wanted it to end already. Thankfully it did end eventually and it still managed to be a successful match, even if it did drag on for too long. And the Undertaker is now 20-0. Perhaps it is time for him to retire? Oh and why was it a Hell In A Cell match when the cell was barely even used? Should have been Last Man Standing instead. 7/10

Good to see the Hall of Fame inductees though this year's list felt a bit short. Gotta say Edge's hair will take some getting used to.
Why the hell is Heath Slater on the WrestleMania card? No, why the hell is he even still employed? Again, WHC match time WWE.

6) Team Johnny (David Otunga, Mark Henry, The Miz, Drew McIntyre, Dolph Ziggler & Jack Swagger) vs Team Teddy (Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Santino Marella, Great Khali, Zack Ryder & Booker T):
Can you say clusterfuck? Seriously you could have dropped about four of the guys from this match to make it a lot less cluttered. Axe Booker T, Great Khali, Drew McIntyre and Mark Henry and maybe the match wouldn't have felt like such a crowded affair. The Bellas are moving up in the world, going from guest host escorts to guest ring announcers. Happy to see Vickie Guerrero and Aksana at ringside too though Hornswoggle could have been demoted to one backstage segment. Naturally this match didn't get much of a chance to take any form and it was a lot of one guy in to do a spot then the other one and so forth. If there had only been four on each team then it could have worked. The first 75% of the match just didn't take form and couldn't even hold together, despite getting plenty of time. The breakdown at the end was much more promising what with Vickie and Aksana having another awesome catfight and the big rush with everyone hitting their signature spots. Ryder's last bit in the ring against The Miz was great and hey that's another Diva who's taken all the attention for herself tonight. They're really putting effort into Eve, having her outright nail Zack in the balls and be the one responsible for putting Johnny in charge. While this was a huge clusterfuck, it does set up plenty of story continuation for the following weeks - Eve and Zack, Johnny now in charge, what will become of Teddy etc. Will he go back to being a manager? Or will he just retire? Oh well, decent showing towards the end and some good window dressing at the very least. 5/10

7) CM Punk* vs Chris Jericho (WWE Championship):
The added stipulation of Punk losing the title via DQ lets us all know we're in for a pleasant few weeks/months/years with Johnny running the show. Anyway there's something that really stuck out to me in the early moments of the match - even though the feud was very personal Punk didn't go for a brawl but rather tried to wrestle. But still he told a story with that. Even though he was just wrestling, he still showed that he was out for Jericho's blood and that is something very few people can accomplish. I had a feeling this would be match of the night and boy was I right. I loved everything about this match. It was back and forth with some excellent exchanges, as though the two of them were just giving middle fingers to Kane/Orton and Triple H/Undertaker showing them how it should be done. I know Jericho hasn't been wrestling for as long as Triple H, Kane and Undertaker but he's not far off and the difference is astonishing. He can still go like he used to and he produced a five star match while those three were all struggling to keep up. Even though I knew there was no way in hell Jericho would be walking out of WrestleMania with the title there were still plenty of moments where I thought he'd actually do it. As much as I loved Punk's matches with Cena and Del Rio, this match surpassed either of those and will go down as probably the best match of his career. That spot with the Frankensteiner into the Walls of Jericho made me mark out hugely (I even thought we'd see a Styles Clash/Faith Breaker for a moment) as did the suicide dive, apron superplex and springboard Code Breaker. Call this a MOTY candidate because I don't think we can find something to top it. 10/10

Last year Brodus was Del Rio's manager and this year he gets a segment to himself that the crowd are actually into. Doubly hilarious that the first Tough Enough contestant to be eliminated was the first one to make it to WrestleMania. WrestleMania always gives us something fun and bizarre and the grannies in fat suits knocked Snoop Dogg's talent search from last year right out of the water. There's a sentence I never thought I'd type.

8) The Rock vs John Cena:
I said at the start the entrances and introductions for this match took 21 minutes in total, do with that what you will but I will insert my rant about the World title match once again and also mention that I went to the toilet, made myself a snack and had a browse through Twitter and Cena wasn't even in the ring yet when I came back. Anyway, once they actually got into the ring we got another MOTY candidate, though admittedly it paled in comparison to Punk/Jericho. I was really surprised to see such a technical opening since both of these guys are known for having their five moves of doom and not much else. It just goes to show that these guys can deliver the goods when they want to. Did anyone else catch Cena blatantly calling a spot when he had The Rock in a headlock. His mouth opening clear as day and not even bothering to whisper. You're in HD, remember? I have to say The Rock did look a bit lost in a couple of places and it seemed like Cena had to guide him through a lot of the early part which is understandable for someone who hasn't competed at WrestleMania in over 9 years. What was cool about this match to me is that Cena played the heel and Rock was the face. The Rock spent a lot of time in peril and there wasn't a lot of his trademark cockiness which is a touch I really liked. The best matches Cena's had recently have had him playing the heel (vs Punk and Rey) and this was a similar format. You had to love the crowd chanting "fruity pebbles" and "tooth fairy" and I was holding out for a "Kung Pao bitch" chant as well. I could have done without that little brawl on the outside but the rest of the match was solid enough and the end does raise a lot of questions - is Cena turning heel? I always assumed they'd have him as the face figure in this match but they went the other way and it could show signs of a possible turn. I wouldn't get my hopes up but Raw will give us some answers anyway. A match worthy of WrestleMania and miles better than last year's main event. 8/10

So many were hyping this up to be the best Mania ever and to me it didn't fulfil that prediction. The entire first half was composed of filler matches that had no meaning and didn't really deserve to be on the card. The main event matches made up for them but this show really did feel like a big letdown. Nonetheless it's always fun to experience WrestleMania live which I couldn't do last year and I had fun watching it this year. Perhaps next year they'll get it right by NOT cutting the World title match.

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