Every year, around the March and April time frame, the WWE puts on WrestleMania. For 27 years, WrestleMania has been the showcase event in wrestling. I myself have attended two WrestleManias (X at Madison Square Garden and XI at the Hartford Civic Center).
Though I haven’t ordered a WrestleMania in a couple of years, I’ll admit, I was intrigued by this year's. The Rock was coming back and the card looked somewhat decent. So I caved like the Milwaukee Brewers’ bullpen on Opening Day and spent $55 and ordered WrestleMania.
Here is a recap of what went on...
The draw of this year’s WrestleMania was that The Rock was hosting it. I have no idea what a host at WrestleMania actually does, but The Rock was going to do it.
After Keri Hilson sang America the Beautiful, The Rock came out and did a solid 14-minute monologue. He made fun of John Cena (the WWE’s biggest draw right now, but really isn’t that great or interesting), which has been a feud building for a while, and did some audience participation with the 70,000-plus at the Georgia Dome.
The Rock was so pumped that he was sweating like Patrick Ewing in the fourth quarter five minutes into his deal. He did all his famous phrases and got the crowd ready to go. After watching James Franco host the Oscars, I wasn’t quite sure what a host does. Now I know.
Now let’s get to the action.
World Heavyweight Championship Match
Alberto Del Rio (Challenger) vs. Edge
Alberto Del Rio is the Mexican version of Ric Flair or Ted Dibiase. He’s your classic heel who has more money than everyone else. He comes to the ring in a new luxury car every time. Tonight he came out in a Rolls Royce.
I’ll have to admit, his entrance was pretty cool. The Titantron had a mansion on the screen with a massive driveway. The way Del Rio drove the Rolls Royce to the ring, it appeared as if he was coming out of the driveway.
Edge is the WWE’s version of Jayson Werth. The two could be brothers.
In Del Rio’s corner was Brodus Clay. He used to be a bodyguard for Snoop Dogg and looks like King Kong Bundy with a mohawk.
In Edge’s corner was Christian. Christian has some pretty awesome entrance music and is one of the more underrated wrestlers out there. In an era where few guys can work, he is a guy who can work and should have a belt on him.
Jerry Lawler, Josh Matthews and Michael Cole were calling the action. Also calling the action was the ever-so-popular Spanish announce team. It was only a matter of time before they get their table broken.
This was a good, not great match. A little back and forth, some outside interference as expected and Edge eventually won with a spear.
After the match, Christian and Edge did damage to the Rolls Royce and left Del Rio in tears.
Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio
Rhodes, the son of legend Dusty Rhodes and the brother of Dustin (a.k.a. Goldust, which is the most underrated gimmick of all time), is now going with a "Dashing" Cody Rhodes gimmick. Thanks Cody, but I liked the gimmick the first time around when Rick Rude did it 20 years ago. And you will never have a shirt as cool as this one.
Rhodes was wearing a Richard Hamilton face mask because Mysterio hit him the face with his knee brace in a prior match between the two. This apparently has disfigured Rhodes. Whatever.
This was actually a really good match. The beauty of WrestleMania is that the wrestlers will try to do something never seen before. In this case, Rhodes did a vertical suplex from the top rope. It was pretty darn impressive.
It was Davey Boy Smith-esque except that it was 10 feet off the ground. Rhodes had Mysterio up there for a good 30 seconds, but felt like two minutes. It was so impressive that the crowd gave it a standing ovation.
This was back and forth and had several false finishes. As a matter of fact, there were times when I thought the match was over and Rhodes kicked out. Mysterio hit Rhodes with his 619 finishing maneuver and Rhodes kicked out. That was surprising.
Rhodes pulled out the victory when he hit Mysterio with the knee brace. It was rumored that Mysterio asked for his release a couple of weeks ago, which he denied, so maybe this was punishment.
Snoop Dogg, who is a huge WWE fan, made an appearance. He held auditions for new singers for his tour. Good thing I paid $55 to hear William Regal sing. The only good thing about that segment was that Rowdy Roddy Piper made a guest appearance. He hit some guy I have never seen before over the head with a coconut.
Always good to see the Hot Rod. Sadly, probably 80 percent of the audience at the Georgia Dome had no idea who Piper was, nor know one of the most famous Piper’s Pits in history when he smashed a coconut over Jimmy Snuka’s head.
The CORRE vs. The Big Show, Kane, Santino Marella and Kofi Kingston
This had concession stand match written all over it. Any time the WWE throws a bunch of guys together in a match for no reason whatsoever, you can expect a short match.
This match lasted maybe two minutes.
The CORRE is a classic new WWE faction. None of them can put on a match individually, so they just beat everyone up as a gang. When is the WWE going to learn that when each individual gets over, that’s when a faction gets over?
This match ended when The Big Show knocked out one-half of the Tag Team Champions, Heath Slater. It’s a good thing Vince McMahon values tag teams like Jose Canseco values his dignity.
Randy Orton vs. CM Punk
This match featured the two best wrestlers—excuse me, Superstars—the WWE has to offer. Punk is one of the rare guys the WWE has that can do it in the ring and on the mic.
This match also featured the two wrestlers with the most tattoos. I am not a fan of ink, but Punk wins in the cooler tattoo contest. Any time a guy has a Cobra Commander tattoo, that automatically wins.
The story of this match was how Punk took out Orton’s knee on RAW, so Orton couldn’t “punt” Punk. Like with Hulk Hogan’s ribs prior to WrestleMania II, Orton had his knee wrapped, so you know he was hurt.
Another solid aspect of WrestleMania is that they let the guys wrestle. There are long matches, and they very rarely have outside interference decide the ultimate outcome. This was a well-put together match.
Punk worked on the knee as expected, but Orton pulled out the win when Punk leaped off the top rope and Orton caught him with the RKO. If you are not familiar with the RKO, it’s just the Diamond Cutter that Diamond Dallas Page used to use.
Hall of Fame Introductions
The 2011 WWE HOF class was introduced. No surprise The Road Warriors, Jim Duggan and Shawn Michaels got the loudest ovations. Sunny, Abdulah the Butcher and Bob Armstrong were inducted as well.
I am not really sure how you can have a WWE HOF and not have Demolition, Randy Savage, The Ultimate Warrior, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard or Barry Windham in it. Windham is a personal favorite of mine, so I had to include him.
Knowing the WWE’s selection process, Reno Riggins or Ted Arcidi will make the HOF before any of the above guys.
Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole with Jack Swagger. Steve Austin as Special Guest Referee
This was far and away the most disappointing match on the card. This match had so much potential, and it was almost worse than the Bret Hart vs. McMahon match a year ago.
With Cole and Lawler in the ring, Booker T and Jim Ross were doing the announcing. Great, now we have two more people calling the action who can’t speak English.
Cole probably has more heat on him than any other heel the WWE has right now, and they really blew it in this match. Cole is the modern-day Bobby Heenan. He’s a heel announcer who gets under everyone’s skin.
This match was so poorly produced, the crowd was completely taken out of it at the early stages and the two could never get them back.
I think it’s safe to say that out of everyone who has ever stepped into a WWE ring to perform, Cole had the least ability out of anyone. How do you have that long to prepare and look that pathetic out there?
That’s why Shane McMahon was the man. He could actually wrestle and put on a good show. He was one of the few non-wrestlers who could do that.
This match dragged on, Swagger tried to throw in the towel like shades of Arnold Skaaland and Bob Backlund in 1984, and Austin stunned him. Lawler eventually won the match, him and Austin had some beers and then when Booker T came into the ring to celebrate, Austin stunned him also.
Just when everyone thought this clown show was over, the anonymous RAW General Manager made an announcement that since Austin didn’t act in the best interest of the match, he was going to award the match to Cole. Oy vey.
Since Josh Matthews made that announcement for the anonymous RAW GM, Austin stunned him. SOMEBODY MAKE THIS STOP!
HHH vs. The Undertaker, No Holds Barred Match
The Undertaker is the greatest gimmick in the history of professional wrestling. Other great gimmicks are just guys doing an exaggerated version of themselves like The Rock, Flair and Austin.
This is a gimmick of a guy portraying a dead guy that has lasted 18 years. That’s amazing.
The story of this match was if Triple H, who is married to Vince McMahon’s daughter in real life, could break The Undertaker’s undefeated streak at WrestleMania. The Undertaker is 18-0 at WrestleMania.
Both guys had pretty amazing entrances. WWE’s production value is off the charts.
This was a pretty entertaining match. Both guys were going at it pretty hard right off the bat, which was kind of surprising because of their ages. The Undertaker even back-dropped HHH off the announcer's table onto the floor.
HHH took a pretty nasty spill, and it wouldn’t surprise me if his arm was broken. He was favoring it the entire match.
Here’s my question: How is the piledriver banned from the WWE, but the pedigree is legal? Triple H hit The Undertaker with three pedigrees, each one was executed poorly and The Undertaker’s neck snapped back on each one.
A lot of false finishes, and Triple H even hit The Undertaker with the tombstone piledriver, which is essentially two men doing a standing 69. Awesome.
The match ended when The Undertaker caught HHH in the Hell’s Gate submission move. Triple H tapped out, which was a little bit of a disappointing way to end the match. I didn’t see that finish coming.
By the way, the highlights of this match were HHH’s facial expressions every time The Undertaker kicked out of a pinning situation. Classic. The overacting was amazing. I haven’t seen that much overacting since any Nic Cage movie.
Dolph Ziggler and LayCool vs. John Morrison, Trish Stratus and Snooki
The biggest question of this match was whether or not you prefer Stratus as a blond, as she used to be, or her current brunette look. It’s definitely a tough call. But I like her blond look of the past.
This was a three-minute match with Michelle McCool and Stratus doing most of the work. Ziggler and Morrison didn’t even get in the ring.
This match ended when Snooki was tagged in, and she hit McCool with a backflip into a spring-board elbow in the corner. It was shades of the Great Muta. Then with McCool on the mat, she did a cartwheel into a splash to get the win. The crowd booed her when she got into the ring, but once she did those two moves, everyone was pretty much in awe.
People are offended that Snooki got $32,000 for speaking at Rutgers, but I am more offended that she stepped into a WWE ring at WrestleMania. Who cares about Rutgers? It’s the red-headed stepchild of tri-state area schools. WrestleMania is one of the biggest events in the world.
WWE Heavyweight Title Match
John Cena (Challenger) vs. The Miz (Champion)
Yes, the WWE now has a World Heavyweight Title and a WWE Heavyweight Title. What’s the difference? I have not a clue.
Once again, the WWE goes all out with production value. Both lead-ins and entrances are pretty cool.
This was an okay match. Cena doesn’t have much wrestling ability, so his matches are never great. Plus he wrestles in jorts, so how good can he be?
This match “ended” when both wrestlers went to the outside and were counted out after Cena hit The Miz with flying tackles on the concrete.
Predictably, The Rock came out and gave the whole “No way is this match going to end like this” speech and ordered the match to continue with no count-out or disqualification. Stevie Wonder could have seen that one coming.
The match continued, The Rock hit the Rock Bottom on Cena and The Miz was still the champ. Poor Miz, he is the champ and was the sideshow in the main event at WrestleMania.
The show ended with The Rock beating up The Miz and hitting him with the People’s Elbow. Again, no surprise.
Overall, I would give the show a C. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t great either. It was pretty predictable and there weren’t any surprises.
What made PPV’s must-orders in the past were surprises. Who was going to show up from a rival organization was always the question. That went away with the end of WCW and ECW.
Four hours, 2,300 words and $55 later, I am tapping out.