Finally, I say finally, after the weeks and weeks of build, after all the polls and predictions and pontifications, finally, Wrestlemania is upon us. So many questions: What will The Rock do? Will HHH/Taker deliver or disappoint? How lame will Cena be? What will be Michael Cole’s Official Cause of Death? And just how good a worker is Snooki? All these questions, and more, are answered right now!
Firstly, a note about the production of the show. I thought overall it was better than last year’s. Last year there was some weird-ass lighting that really put me off a lot of the time, but the lighting was fine here. I really dug the giant all-screen stage and the shiny black ‘Wrestlemania’ ramp. Commentary was surprisingly fine. There were some Cole/King/Josh moments where they were bickering and it made you think “Man, this sounds like Raw and its so lame” but overall they weren’t too bad with each other. Booker made a nice cameo and JR and King back together calling the important stuff was a great move. It hardly needs to be said but JR made everything instantly sound so much better. I hope this isn’t the last we hear of him going forward.
So, to begin, oh yeah, THE ROCK. Great promo to open the show. You could tell he was having an absolute ball out there, and its always great to watch someone having so much fun. Great promo, when it was over you thought “Yeah, this is gonna be something alright.” The video they played after this was really cool too.
When they announced that the World Title match would open I was pissed. Not as pissed as I would be when it ended though. Anyway, Alberto’s entrance was immense, the visual of the car rolling up the drive was incredible. As a match this was a great opener. I never have much interest in Edge on paper so this ended up being way better than I imagined going in. Lots of fun here, some cool spots like Edge’s wacky somersault plancha and another Alberto TOP ROPE ENZIGURI. The arm work was top notch, the outside interference was perfectly done and the finishing stretch with the submissions was great. However, Edge winning was UTTER BULLSH*T. (I’ve been saving up for my swear jar contributions here). Just utter garbage in every way. I was so completely, yelling-at-the-TV pissed off here that it took me out of the show for the next hour or so. I was legitimately upset. And to top it off, Edge beats him clean and then wrecks the guy’s car for no particular reason except that he’s an ASSHOLE BABYFACE. They really screwed with Alberto here, he was totally humiliated, and I cant imagine for what possible reason. So we’re off to a bad start already, which is a shame because like I said, the match itself was really great.
Cody! His entrance with the hoody and the new song and the giant clippings on the stage was great. Gotta love Rey keeping up his Wacky Outfit Streak too. I don’t know about you, but I loved this a hell of a lot. I was really looking forward to it, and while they didn’t exactly steal the show they got enough time and had a damn good match. Great telling of the story all the way through, and a bunch of great spots in this too; Cody’s early Beautiful Disaster kick was brutal, Rey’s little Jacknife pin was cool, and the MEGA DELAYED SUPERPLEX was awesome and one of the best spots I’ve seen in ages. Somewhere in here King telling Cole “the mask is see-through” was hilarious. The stretch was really good with Rey getting some babyface revenge with Cody’s mask before Cody uses the kneebrace against him. Cody winning and then jumping into a LAYLA TURTLE was one of the weirdest things I’ve ever seen. But this was really great, the right guy won and Cody Rhodes is one amazing man.
As meh as this was I cant totally hate on anything that involves Snoop Dogg, Regal rapping and Zack Ryder all in the one sentence. I have to say though, breaking Hornswoggle’s no-English gimmick after all these years in such a pointless segment was weird as hell. Kind of like Umaga talking out of nowhere, although not in the same universe of infuriating obviously.
I absolutely love that Santino’s way of showing Angry Santino is to swing his hips so wildly. I’m also glad that in the end Kofi got a WM payoff after being so incredibly awesome in 2010 only to be raped in the ass by 2011. Anyway, I thought this was totally fine. You can complain about a short match and jobbing guys, but whatever, honestly. This was 90 seconds and ALL of it was fun, and I cant imagine a real match being as entertaining as this was, so who cares. Slater bumped around like a champ, we all trade big moves, Santino hits the Cobra of Revenge, and Show knocks the F*CK out of Slater. What an AWESOME Knockout Punch of Doom that was. Total thumbs up from me.
This was a better segment, Rock calling Mae a Divasaurus was funny, and delivering on the Stone Cold staredown tease was good stuff.
Really good video for Orton/Punk. Now it was THIS match, if any, that “stole the show”. This was a wonderful match, really loved it. They began the leg work with one of my favourite spots, kicking the stairs. And it was great work, with some unique stuff like the shoulderbreaker to the leg and the corner stomp. Funny how we were talking about Orton’s selling on TWO recently, because I thought his sell job here was immense. The KICKTOTHEFACE to counter the first RKO attempt was awesome. Loved Punk busting out the Bret Figure Four, and I think I equally loved whatever hold he had on in the ring, with Punk clubbering away and Orton grabbing Punk’s EARS to escape. And then Punk using the Anaconda Vice and Cole saying that Orton couldn’t counter it with an injured leg was legitimately one of the best calls Cole has ever made. Orton’s “gears turning” facials are great, the punt failure was predictable but the way Orton sold it (crying, literally crying “No, no!”) made it work. AND THEN THE FINISH. From Punk’s glee at Orton’s knee, to the BAMRKOATTEMPT and Punk’s mad scramble, his horrified shock turning into more glee when he realised he escaped and he’d won, and then BAMSUPERRKOBITCHES. Glorious stuff, just really great work from both guys. I really have to give Orton credit for his work lately, he’s a terribly bland babyface but somehow he’s remained super over, had an amazingly interesting feud and capped it off with what I think is his best singles match as a babyface.
The third skit was a strikeout, lets move on.
Now, Cole and King. This was so disappointing in the end. I almost cant believe they screwed up something so simple. Half of it was fine but two key things – the match-killing length and the decision reversal – went horrifically wrong and overshadowed all the good bits. First things first, I got a hearty kick out of Cole’s ridiculous orange outfit. I couldn’t have dreamed up better gear. Swagger’s FACE when the glass broke was hilarious. And I liked King’s pimped out Wrestlemania outfit too. Everything in the first minute was great, Cole warming up in the box, Austin just ringing the bell, the handshake into the glass squishing and the Cole Mine beatdown, all of that was so much fun. And then Cole went on offense and it DIED. Swagger didn’t Ankle Lock King long enough to do realistic damage, Cole’s offense was so bad that it shouldn’t have been sold, and Cole’s “heat” just went on for way too damn long. Over 5 minutes, in fact, I timed it just for your information. But Cole beating on King for so long was the exact opposite of what this needed to be, it was just brutal and it killed the match. Having said that, the finish was totally fun. King starting to throw some punches, Swagger throwing in the towel at the first chance and Austin’s FACE was great, then wiping his brow with it was greater. Then the Babyface Revenge shenanigans of beating the crap out of him, breaking the pin, and Austin ignoring the submission was all hilarious and totally fun. Booker doing a Spinaroonie and Austin giving him a Stunner just because, hey, I can and laughing was great. It was almost a Stunner of Brotherly Love and Friendship.
So I mean, it was totally fine and worth it in the end until the BULLSH*T DUSTY FINISH. That was the worst sh*t ever, honestly. All it does is piss people off and devalue finishes that little bit more. The idea that they’re putting more heat on Cole for tomorrow is infuriating. Cole has been ruining TV for over 9 months now, and the whole point of this match should have been to peak Cole’s heat and then BLOW IT OFF and kill the character for a little while. He cant keep being on TV like this, its already immeasurably damaged the product and there’s nowhere else for him to go after being beaten up in a match. And this is before getting to the point that building up babyface revenge so strongly means you have to actually deliver babyface revenge, with no town-killing bullsh*t. It kills me that they seem so clueless sometimes.
“FOR WHOM THE BELL TOLLS!” I don’t care who you are, coming out to Metallica is totally badass. I enjoyed that. As ordinary as most of the build was, the moment these two guys make their entrances you know that this sh*t is ON. Now, this match, I can see it dividing a lot of opinions already, but I’m erring on the side of IT. WAS. INCREDIBLE. Utterly, utterly incredible. I LOVED THIS MATCH, just warning you. Right from the bell they tear it up, within minutes they take their first big bump through the Cole Mine, HHH rolls away but then Taker SITS UP and stares DEATH at Hunter; this sh*t is ON. The brawling outside was great, HHH taking the SUPER BACKDROP was insane, and then Undertaker DIVES ONTO HIS HEAD AGAIN which was insanely insane. This crazy bastard. Then they cap it off with the SPINEBUSTER THROUGH THE TABLE, another great spot. Taker turning this straight around into a BAMChokeslam was great too. As an aside, somewhere around here there was a “19 – 0” chant, which is pretty funny. Enjoyed the Snake Eyes into the AA Spinebuster, as well as the Last Ride tease and eventual completion. But what made this match was the second half. Hunter trying Pedigree after Pedigree, and when that didn’t work just up and going batsh*t INSANE with chairshots a la heel Austin, finishing off with a momentous headshot (and the blanket ban we’ve had for over a year means that this sure as hell meant something – it was protected but I was still like “Argh!”), all this was incredibly frightening, and I mean that it was frightening as a Streak fan. The Hunter Tombstone was inspired, after all that it was one of the best built nearfalls you ever saw because I was SH*TTING MYSELF. What an incredible moment that was. And even more to the point, Hunter’s reaction, scrambling away like he’d seen a ghost was, with no exaggeration, one of the best sell jobs of anything I’ve ever seen in wrestling. As an entire match spent building to that one single moment it was perfect work, because that KILLED me. So after throwing every single bomb he could think of, Hunter goes back to the Sledgehammer but gets caught in the HELLS GATE, and he survives it with all his HHHness and almost, almost gets the Sledgehammer shot in, but he fades and he eventually dies and has to tap.
Watching it live, it was one of those matches where halfway through you think “This isn’t anything much” but by the end you’re going nuts screaming at the TV in shock. I felt the same way about the Shawn matches watching them live too. And don’t get me wrong, this wasn’t either of the Shawn matches, but as I said last week nothing else is either. This was an entirely different match, and I tell you it was some of the best storytelling I’ve ever seen. Literally that I’ve ever seen. And I can see the argument against it, sure; there were too many kickouts and it was all finishers and no transitions, and you knew it would be going in, I think. But I don’t think throwing bombs in itself can discount a story so brilliantly told; in this case, the bomb-throwing is what told the story. HHH went out there as the only guy in the world who didn’t know that he was losing, and he spent 30 minutes throwing everything he could possibly think of at this guy. He put him through a glass box, he put him through a table, he hit three Pedigrees. And when that didn’t work, he went evil and showed the remorselessness that Shawn said was the missing link Hunter needed to show in order to win. He MURDERED this guy with chairs, just killed him dead. So much so that there in the corner he almost looks disgusted with himself, but still determined to finish him off, and then as Taker staggers up and does this pathetically weak goozle, Hunter just pities him and says “stay down”, the exact same way that Taker himself pitied Shawn the year before. At this moment, just like he said on Raw, Hunter believes 100% that he is the Taker to Taker’s Shawn and he’s going to put him down right here and now. So he Tombstones him just for the poetry and KICK. OUT. MOTHER. F*CKER. F*ck you, Undertaker is a badass zombie cowboy, he will NOT be put down by anyone. So he’s on his back about to die and goes for his last shot – he Hells Gates him and squeezes the life out of him. Hunter wrestles perfectly and has this guy dead to rights with a Sledgehammer in tow, but he gets caught in a sub and thats the ball game. I absolutely loved that they went for such a different finish this time around.
The post-match was chilling. Literally chilling. Hunter passed out and lost but he’d beaten Taker so badly during this match that he was up first. I just about refused to believe that Taker wasn’t legit hurt because, even now writing about it, the idea of Undertaker getting stretchered off is just unbelievable. I cannot believe it. So Undertaker won, yes, but at what price? He had to fight so hard to survive that he literally exhausted himself beyond repair. He was done. These two old legends threw an unbelievable amount of bombs at each other, completely tore each other apart, and now neither of them will ever be the same again. I say again, this was incredible stuff. All credit to Hunter, he was awesome here, and for the third year in a row Undertaker pulled off an astonishing sell job that he will never, ever get enough credit for. Phenomenally perfect storytelling. There aren’t enough adjectives in my literary arsenal.
So now, after all that, I’m watching a show and TRISH and LAYCOOL are my emotional buffer match. Crazy. Anyway, God had a good day when he put Trish together, I’ll tell you. This is one ab-tastic match. “Get crazy – get wild” is a surprisingly addictive tune. I say no, no, NO to Michelle bullying Layla. Bugger off with that crap, honestly. Trish and Michelle worked really well together I thought, but more to the point SNOOKI. Holy Moses was that fun. She tags in and people boo they’re so mad, so she sets herself, hits this picture-perfect HANDSPRING BUTT BUMP and the entire crowd audibly goes “WOAH!” Snooki the Worker, who could possibly have known? That was the best and most pleasant surprise of the show. Enjoyed.
“Hate me now.” What an INCREDIBLE video. Just unbelievable stuff, it made Miz look like a total superstar and they should be playing it until the end of time. Fantastic entrance. Cena’s worked for me only for the ridiculousness of a gospel choir singing “Your time is up – my time is now!” and the ridiculousness of a gospel choir being BOOED. That’s a good look, pro wrestling. The match itself was…well, something. I thought it was getting pretty good before the non-finish, but even I know there was something missing, and it was only on the second watch that I could really put my finger on what it was, which was a couple of things. Firstly, Miz is still not credible in the ring. The bad booking has really hurt him in this regard, because it was painfully obvious whenever he covered Cena that not a single person believed he could pin the guy. Secondly, the match was basically the first 15 minutes of a 20 minute main event. Like I said, I thought they were building it well towards the end, they managed some good nearfalls there with the turnbuckle into the SCF, the briefcase shot, the STF and especially the Flying FU. Going through the barricade should have been the transition to the final mad stretch, but instead they tried to sell a double countout IN THE MAIN EVENT OF MANIA. Bad, bad decision. I know it was only to trigger The Rock, but there were a million better ways to do it than this. They looked like total pussies having a DCOR especially after Hunter and Taker had just killed each other for 30 minutes. Using the GM only made it worse too. Its just like when they GM’d in the middle of the Elimination Chamber, it just takes you completely out of the match, because it immediately comes across like a lame, hokey Raw angle instead of a PPV main event. At least the essential stuff went down right – Cena gets Rock Bottomed and loses – but they did it in the most uninspiring, lame-ass way possible. Miz getting beaten up again just because was also not cool, and all in all it was a wildly disappointing way to end the show. All the moreso because I really enjoyed almost all of the PPV, but leaving on a bad note makes everything seem so much worse.