WrestleMania XXVIII was a night of matches, three matches in truth. The three main event matches were three of the greatest matches of all time, side by side.
In the presence of those matches, we also witnessed many other very solid matches in the undercard with almost every match on the night exceeding expectations.
It was obvious from the beginning that each wrestler knew how big this night was and how important it was to be a part of this historic event.
It didn't matter if you were Curt Hawkins or the Rock. To be a part of this night was something special.
A night with two 30-minute contests and a 20-minute wrestling clinic.
A night where the most underdeveloped match could've been great if WWE gave it just a few minutes.
This WrestleMania had eight matches and a dark match. Of these nine contests, it is possible to divide the good, the great and the amazing.
However, it is not easy to choose how to rank each match in those categories. Honestly, the top three matches of the night were so great that it is extremely difficult to compare them.
With that said, here is an attempt to do just that by ranking every match at WrestleMania this year from worst to best on one of the most defining nights in WWE history.
This was the one moment of the night that left me with a bad taste in my mouth.
When this match first happened, I was ready for a show stealer, a match to define the WWE for months to come.
In one corner, there was Sheamus, the Celtic Warrior and one of the best modern big men in WWE.
In the other, there was Daniel Bryan, the greatest wrestler in the world and a man who thrives when given a big stage to shine on.
I was ready for a fast-paced, hard-hitting contest that could rival any other match on the card.
Instead, they couldn't even get a second of time to develop their match. It lasted a grand total of 18 seconds, and Sheamus was the new World Heavyweight Champion.
Looking back now, it makes some sense. AJ cost Bryan the belt when he took his eyes off his competitor to get his usual good luck kiss.
Going in, this match had very little hype, and now it has a story to build upon. That said, the match itself was infuriating and ruined many matches following as I couldn't get over this.
I really hope that this match gets a redo at Extreme Rules, where these two get literally 60 times the amount of time they got tonight.
This was the match that no one really cared was even on the card. It was the placeholder contest meant to just have the women wrestle for a match.
Basically, Eve and Beth Phoenix were the over heel Divas, and they had no competition.
WWE decided to bring in the celebrity Maria Menounos to tag with Kelly Kelly, and we all knew right off the bat that the celebrity was going to win here.
With that clear, this match moved nowhere in terms of buildup, and no one expected anything from it.
In the end, it was not great, but it was better than expected due mainly to some solid spots courtesy of Kelly Kelly, including an impressive Molly-Go-Round.
On the flip side, though, Maria was obviously fragile in the contest, unable to take any real shots, so the match slowed to a halt whenever she was in the ring, as neither Eve nor Beth could do anything to Maria.
It could have been better with a real female wrestler as Kelly's partner (Lita or Trish Stratus maybe as one-time guest appearances), but it could have been worse.
Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy was built up massively by the WWE. It was important that everything fell into place.
The animosity was built up between both GMs, as they controlled each other's shows, fought over match results and tried to make the life of the other miserable.
The match itself was set up with each going out of their way to try and find the best of the best to help them fight for their jobs.
The match being a 14-man tag team match, it was doomed to be crowded and unspectacular.
That said, there were some great moments throughout the match, and it was about as good as it could be with so many wrestlers and extra people scattered around the ring.
Almost every wrestler in the match got some time to work in the contest and show off some of their signature work.
When the match was boiled down to just Zack Ryder vs. The Miz (after a cool spot with Team Teddy members springboarding over the top and taking out everyone on Team Johnny), it was about storytelling.
The finish with Eve costing Ryder the match by allowing the down-on-his-luck Miz to pick up the deciding victory opens up many opportunities for stories going forward, which made this match a solid contest overall.
Cody Rhodes and Big Show were involved in this year's comedy feud.
The premise was simply the truth of history. Show has spent years jobbing out to every celebrity or young star on the roster at WrestleMania, and Rhodes used that truth to taunt Show.
Rhodes made it his goal to make fun of Show for his failures at every turn, even turning it into a physical altercation as Rhodes used boxing gloves to beat down a handcuffed and injured Show.
In the end, Show was never really known for having a lot of great matches, so this was not one of the matches that I looked forward to that much.
When the night came, these two pulled out all the stops, though. Rhodes entered decked out in an awesome robe, looking confident that he would soon be the victor against Show.
Instead, after a hard-hitting, incredibly fast-paced contest, Rhodes couldn't quite get it done.
He would hit Show with a Disaster Kick that only dazed Show, but when he went for a second, he was hit by a massive Spear, leading to the WMD sealing the win for Show.
What made this match so solid was that the crowd felt for Show in the end. As he celebrated his win against the devious villain, it was obvious that Show felt the happiness of the night after finally gaining his WrestleMania moment.
It is a real shame that so many people missed this match because it was a spectacle.
There wasn't much to say about the build up to this match because, honestly, there wasn't any. Even so, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Justin Gabriel, Tyson Kidd, Epico and Primo went out there to put on a fast-paced opener, and they absolutely delivered.
These three teams worked at a pace rarely seen in WWE today, pulling out fast-paced action left and right without a stop, including a tower of doom and a springboard moonsault to the outside.
There were no gaps in the action. It was just incredible high flying.
In the end, Primo and Epico held on as tag team champions, but the real stars of this match were the Usos. They looked like stars from the beginning with perfect chemistry that was somewhat lacking in the other two teams.
If you can, I would really suggest you find a way to watch this match. It was the best tag team match of 2012 so far, bar none.
Orton and Kane were set into a feud with the importance being that Kane could prove to himself that he was indeed a monster.
It was an interesting premise delivered poorly in the story, as neither man did much more than give short, weak promos and hit each other. They didn't sell the story.
So on Sunday, this was probably the least exciting match outside of the women's tag match.
With that lack of hype, Kane and Orton not only proved everyone wrong, but they actually elevated each other's game.
The action was perfectly paced with some brawling mixed in with some nice teases and cool spots.
While this was right after the Bryan-Sheamus match, with a "Daniel Bryan" chant early in the contest coming from frustration, Orton and Kane delivered in wrestling quality without the crowd on their side.
The match was built around a series of moments, with the biggest ones being a dropkick to a flying Kane and then the ending where Kane chokeslamed Orton off the second rope. It was quite a sight.
No matter how uninterested people were in the match, it still delivered in surprising fashion as a technical showcase.
Here we come to the triple main event and the hardest part of the rankings.
These are honestly three of the greatest matches I've ever seen, and they all happened on this night. It is hard to rank them.
Chris Jericho and CM Punk was a match every wrestling fan would want to see. It was the battle of two of the best in the world with similar styles that could mesh perfectly.
Add to this match a buildup featuring a distraught and frustrated Punk always being taken apart by a cunning and manipulative Jericho, and you had the makings of one of the greatest matches ever.
What these two did in 22 minutes is something most people have trouble doing in an hour of wrestling, as they put their entire wrestling arsenal into this match. It was honestly a wrestling clinic and easily the best pure wrestling match of the night.
It began with a flash as Jericho entered with a jacket flashing with an endless light show of colors and a background that highlighted the jacket. Punk decided to just use fireworks to make his mark by putting in three quick firework displays before his music fully hit.
These two were ready to put on a show, and they knew they could out-wrestle the entire locker room if they had to.
With an added stipulation on the night that Punk would lose the title on a DQ loss as well, the early going of the match was centered around Jericho playing mind games. He slapped Punk. He asked him about his family. Jericho was ready to take a steel chair to the skull for that WWE Title. Punk luckily cooled down before almost ending his own title reign.
The match played at a slow and methodical pace from there on with some big spots, including a vicious suplex to the outside from the apron. Moves were reversed left and right as each man used his own experience and wrestling skills to full effect, leading to several "this is awesome" chants.
The final five minutes or so of this contest were above and beyond the great action before it, though. Everything was turned up into overdrive, as a simple hurricanrana off the top could've meant the Wall of Jericho and a throw could've led to a GTS.
By the end, it was about who could get their submission locked in best, and that honor came to Punk, who ended up latching in his final Anaconda Vise successfully and getting Jericho to tap out.
It was the best pure wrestling of the night, even if it didn't have the excitement or emotion of the two other main events. It was just wrestling at its finest by two men who can rightfully fight for the title of the Best in the World.
The Rock and John Cena, a match for the ages, the match that was simply once in a lifetime and destined to be great.
It would take a full year of buildup with both men laying down their best on the table in every promo.
This was about two men who can lay claim to possibly being the greatest of all time, having one dream match that we could never forget.
With all the excitement around this match and all the buildup, it seemed impossible that the match could live up to the hype. Well, it did.
Sure, it wasn't the match of the night, but that is only because this match and the next are two of the greatest of all time. They will be forever remembered as such. The next was just a more emotionally-charged contest.
What made this match one of the greatest of all time? Simply the fact that these two men delivered everything the two could for a dream match.
It began with performances by Machine Gun Kelly and Flo Rida, who each helped Cena and Rock, respectively, enter to a wave of excitement and flare.
The two then went all out against one another in a war that was never going to be a technical masterpiece. It was going to be entirely about two exciting stars electrifying the crowd and telling a story for the ages.
During the match, John Cena hit three Attitude Adjustments, each causing the crowd to go insane. The Rock hit two Rock Bottoms and the People's Elbow. Cena even almost made Rock pass out in the STF while Rock had Cena reeling with the Sharpshooter.
Neither man was going to back down. Neither was going to give up. They sold the match as it should have been: a battle of legends.
So what could end a battle of legends? A moment where one of those legends shows a bit of mortality.
In this case, Cena would get a bit too comfortable in this dangerous contest, and decide that he could pull out a People's Elbow on the People's Champion. Instead, as he came back to deliver the elbow, he was met by a Rock Bottom. It was the perfect ending because it had so much meaning.
Cena showed a different side to his personality in this match. He was not the superhero trying to hold on. He was the aggressor trying to pull out his victory. In fact, he basically became the heel.
It all worked so well that it didn't matter how many specialty moves each pulled out. All that mattered was the story and the crowd, which was electric the entire match. It was a contest that will stand the test of time.
I will admit, for a long time, I never wanted to see this match again. It had been one too many times in my eyes, and I didn't feel that Triple H was worthy of the illustrious third chance at the Undertaker's streak.
That opinion seems absolutely ridiculous to me now.
First, the story of this match caught my attention. It developed around this idea that Undertaker needed his victory. He needed to be the image for the ages, and this desire made him start to become almost mortal.
With Shawn Michaels added into the mix, it was set to become the final chapter in this legendary tale of Undertaker's streak stretching all the way back to WrestleMania 25, and it was set to possibly be the greatest match of all time.
By this point, I was ready to see this match, even if I was skeptical about how ring rust and age would affect both men.
Then the match happened, and everything was perfect, especially thanks to the addition of JR to the broadcasting booth just to put over this contest.
It began with the entrances. Shawn Michaels came out with fire and with such drive that I could have sworn he was 10 years younger than he was. Triple H came out through an awesome set piece, which helped him come off as powerful. Finally, Undertaker, in a suit of armor, came out to his always amazing entrance with the same bone-chilling presence he had exuded for years.
As the lights came up, Taker revealed to the world his dramatic change in hair, being nearly bald as a testament to how much this meant to him, as Taker's hair had always been an iconic part of him as the Deadman.
What followed was an absolute war. Punches flying left and right. Both men beating each other down, using everything from the cell around them, to the steel steps, to numerous steel chairs. Each man gave everything as they beat each other down.
As the match progressed and time took its toll on both men, HHH took control. He beat down on Taker with a steel chair repeatedly, trying to do what he said he would, which was "finish it." His brutal attack kept up as HBK tried to intervene but to no avail.
Yet Taker kept getting up, telling Shawn to not end the match eventually leading to Michaels being taken out and being replaced for a short time. Each man was brutal to the other, with HHH almost taking Taker's head off with a sledgehammer.
Each man withstood multiple finishers from the other. Emotions ran wild as Michaels himself couldn't take it and sat in the corner crying that the match wouldn't end. When it came to the end, it was all about who could take the punishment, and Taker did. With one final Tombstone for the ages, Taker sealed the match before collapsing to the floor.
Both men went all out from start to finish in their contest in what was so great, it could even be considered the greatest of all time. Everything from start to finish from HHH, Taker and Michaels was brilliant, making any ending possible.
While all three main event matches were amazing, this one was the best thanks to an incredible story and what could be the very last time we ever see Taker, HHH or Michaels in a ring at WrestleMania ever again.
In the end, WrestleMania XXVIII lived up to the hype.
Three of the greatest matches of all time were contested side by side next to a strong undercard that almost over-performed considering the buildup and time they had.
While many can look back on the night and be disappointed, the only real disappointing moment came at the top of the card with the World Heavyweight Championship match being given less time than any other.
Beyond that, perhaps people could say that they expected more, that the undercard could have been better, that Jericho and Punk should have stolen the show, that Orton/Kane and Rhodes/Big Show were boring, that Rock and Cena should've flown around the ring more.
However, I can't honestly see the arguments here. When history is made in a way that was this legendary and defining, coupled with matches that could be considered the best of all time, you have to admit for just a little while that something magical just happened.
Stories were told, legends were made and icons retired.
WrestleMania XXVIII will go down in history as one of the greatest nights in WWE history. Five years from now, people will look back on this night and say that perhaps this was the greatest WrestleMania of all time, perhaps this was the greatest moment in WrestleMania history.
Thank you for reading!
Let your opinions out down below no matter how you felt about the night.