NEW ORLEANS - To say that this was an eventful WrestleMania would be a gross understatement. It was quite possibly the best one WWE has put on in the 30 years of the event.
We saw a new a title reign begin and a long and storied streak come to a stunning end. This WrestleMania will be talked about for along time and for good reason. There were some truly historic happenings on this night in New Orleans.
Before we get to all of my observations, let’s get to the full results from the card:
Pre-show match: The Usos def. The Real Americans, Los Matadores and Ryback & Curtis Axel to retain the WWE Tag Team Championships
Daniel Bryan def. Triple H
The Shield def. Kane & The New Age Outlaws
Cesaro won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
John Cena def. Bray Wyatt
Brock Lesnar def. The Undertaker (I can’t believe I just typed that)
AJ Lee won the Vickie Guerrero Divas Championship Invitational to retain her Divas title
Daniel Bryan def. Batista & Randy Orton to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
With that out of the way, let’s get to the observations from the show:
The “Yes Movement” has reached the summit
Finally, after months of being robbed of opportunity after opportunity, Daniel Bryan won the WWE World Heavyweight Championship by virtue of forcing Batista to submit to the Yes! Lock.
After the victory, Bryan led 75,000 fans in a huge Yes! Chant and celebrated amongst a storm of confetti and fireworks. It was the right way for the show to end, and given what happened about 30 minutes prior, it was the only way. Even without the streak ending, Bryan had to close the show with both titles over his shoulders shouting “Yes!” The story that was being told could not end any other way on that stage.
The visual of Bryan holding the title belts and taking in the moment was very special to me. Me personally, I began to think about how far the man has come in his career. It wasn’t that long ago when Bryan Danielson was wrestling in VFW halls that barely had 75 people, but there he was Sunday night in front 75,000 people as the top man in the top wrestling company in the world.
When Bryan was wrestling in various independents and sleeping on floors, the rap on him was that he had tons of talent, but would never be able to cut it in WWE because he didn’t have the look the company usually looks for nor the charisma.
He hasn’t gotten any bigger since he joined WWE, but he has proven everyone wrong, possibly even WWE, on all other fronts. Bryan’s WWE career alone is pretty amazing. From being The Miz’s rookie on NXT, to being knocked to the dark match at WrestleMania XXVII, to losing in 18 seconds at WrestleMania XXVIII, to leading the Yes! Chant phenomenon, to joining the Wyatt Family, Bryan has come a very long way. Not many people can say that they had that crowning moment at the end of WrestleMania, but the same guy that was putting people in a move called cattle mutilation at the Murphy Recreation Center in Philadelphia can now say he does.
The match itself was great. All three men held up their end of the bargain and it created for a great, dramatic main event to WrestleMania. Quite frankly, drama and intrigue was something that was missing from the WrestleMania main event for quite some time. This one delivered.
The spots where Triple H got involved worked for me as well, especially when he brought back referee Scott Armstrong. It was made even better when Bryan took out Triple H with his own sledgehammer.
But we have to talk about the Batista bomb into an RKO combo that Batista and Orton pulled off. I liken to an alley-oop in basketball. In this case, Batista lobbed it up like Chris Paul and Orton threw it down like Blake Griffin. The ball in this case just so happened to be Bryan.
At the end of the day, this was a very satisfying main event from all aspects.
Brock Lesnar ended the streak. Let me say that again. Brock Lesnar ended the streak
No matter how many times I say it, it’s still very shocking.
The match was good, but let’s get right to the finish. Lesnar hit The Undertaker with his third F-5 of the night. In any other match, the people would know it’s over. Most people don’t get up from one, let alone three. But since it’s The Undertaker and the streak was on the line, everyone assumed that he was going to find a way to kick out.
But he didn’t. The referee’s hand hit the mat for the three count and the match, and the streak, was over. Just like that, a streak of 21 consecutive victories at WrestleMania vanished.
Sitting in the press box at the Superdome, there was mass confusion. There wasn’t an immediate announcement. It was just silence. Then, the “21-1” graphic suddenly popped up on the jumbotrons. When that graphic popped up, there were 75,000 gasps in the stadium. I had never seen anything like it.
Then came the announcement and then came Lesnar’s music. It was really over. I’m not sure that there has ever been a moment where the people sitting in the stands and the people watching at home were ever this stunned. Ever. It hit people like a slap to the back of the head. No one saw this coming.
Shock then turned to anger as no one wanted to see the streak end, but it was too late. It was over. It was a moment I was so glad I saw in person. It was a scene like none other in the history of wrestling. People were legitimately sad. It sucked the air right out of the building. You would have thought (no pun intended) that we were all at a funeral. It felt like someone had died. And I say that with all due respect, but that was the real feeling in the building.
People’s anger then turned to adulation as The Undertaker stood in the ring and took it all in as if it was his last match. That is not known for certain, but it sure looked that way. The Undertake exited the arena to a standing ovation and a series of chants.
Let me say this, whomever put money on Lesnar winning this match is probably a millionaire, so congratulations to them because no one, and I mean no one predicted that to happen.
I know I didn’t although I did say in my predictions that with the way the feud was booked leading into the show, it would make sense for Lesnar to win, but I was too scared to pick him because it’s the streak. You don’t go against the streak. As Bernie Mac once said, “That’s the rule!”
Now here comes the big question: Should the streak have ended? Not to cop out, but I see it both ways. I see why the streak shouldn’t end because it’s essentially the Holy Grail of wrestling. It was the standard of excellence in a kayfabe world. It was something that fans could look to and be amazed every time they thought about it.
The problem with the streak being the Holy Grail is that it won’t be around forever. If The Undertaker retired with the streak in tact, no one could ever reach or surpass that Holy Grail. You can’t hope someone can’t make it more than 20 WrestleManias, so no one could realistically chase it. If The Undertaker isn’t wrestling then no one could end it.
It would be the greatest achievement in wrestling history that no one else could attain. That’s not good for the business moving forward.
Another question: Should it have been Brock Lesnar? In the short term, yes, but only if he challenges Bryan for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship some time soon. It would make for a great challenge for the underdog champion.
However, in the long term I’m not so sure. If the streak had to end, someone who could greatly benefit from it moving forward should have done it. Lesnar will benefit from it, as he should, but he’s already who he is. As much as this will be talked about, it would be talked about a lot more good if Lesnar was someone that hadn’t quite hit the top level yet.
I’m still shocked this even happened as I write this. This match will also be talked about for a very, very long time.
Daniel Bryan and Triple H was a hot opening match
What an opening match. Bryan and Triple H went out there and a fantastic match that was worthy of the main event and it started the show. It definitely set the tone for the evening.
I liked the story that was told during the match of Triple H working over Bryan’s arm. I loved watching Triple H play a classic heel. When he’s full-blown heel, Triple H can be great. When he was playing in the middle, he wasn’t so good.
I also liked Bryan beating Triple H clean, in the middle of the ring. I even liked Triple H further injuring Bryan’s shoulder after the match, as it created more drama for the main event.
By the way, Triple H’s “Game of Thrones”-themed entrance was epic. It was probably is best one yet.
Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin & The Rock in one ring
Bryan and Triple H was the first match on the show, but it wasn’t the first segment as the host of WrestleMania Hulk Hogan welcomed everyone to the extravaganza. Hogan talked about how cool it was to be in the Silverdome, but there was one problem. He wasn’t in the Silverdome. He was in the Superdome. As most of you probably already know. The Pontiac Silverdome was the site of WrestleMania III. You know, where Hogan slammed Andre The Giant — possibly the biggest moment in wrestling history. Hogan eventually corrected himself, but glass shattered and the entrance of “Stone Cold” Steve Austin interrupted him. The crowd came unglued when Austin’s music hit.
Austin talked about how special the event was and how great of a performer Hogan was. Hogan returned the favor. The Rock then joined Hogan and Austin.
The Rock, Austin and Hogan all shared each other’s adulation and eventually shared a few beers.
The site of Hogan, Austin and The Rock — three of the biggest stars in the history of wrestling — in the same ring at the same time was truly amazing. It was a privilege to be honest. Moments like that don’t happen everyday.
Cesaro slams Big Show to win battle royal
Speaking of Hogan slamming Andre The Giant, Cesaro won the first-ever Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal by picking up the nearly 500-pound Big Show and slamming him over the top rope.
The crowd went nuts for this moment as well and rightfully so. Cesaro got Big Show pretty high off the mat and it made for an amazing site.
Heading into the show, I wasn’t really expecting much from the battle royal, but it delivered and some, especially with Cesaro’s moment in the spotlight. It was a great way to continue to build him into a big star. He has all of the talent in the world; he just needed the right push. Sunday night could have been the start of it.
John Cena stands tall once again
I know some people have a problem with the outcome of Cena pinning Wyatt, but this was a great match.
This match provided some great storytelling, which led into some great moments, including Cena’s angry faces and him being scared of Wyatt’s spider walk.
The main story of the match was Wyatt trying to goad Cena into becoming a monster. Wyatt started the match by dropping to his knees and begged Cena to finish him.
Cena refused and the match commenced. Throughout the match, Cena battled with his emotions as Wyatt taunted him. As a result, we all got to see a bit of a vicious side to Cena, which included him spearing Luke Harper through the barricade.
The finish came when Wyatt brought a chair into the ring and kicked it over to Cena. He then asked Cena to hit him with it. Cena thought about doing it for a long time, but opted to hit Erick Rowan with it instead when he jumped onto the ring apron. He then hit Wyatt with the attitude adjustment and picked up the win.
I thought Wyatt should have won, but I’m not upset that Cena did. I’m still not buying that his legacy was at stake though.
This match was great nonetheless.
The Shield squashed Kane, The New Age Outlaws
I don’t know this for certain, but it seemed like WWE had some timing issue early, as the entrances were cut short for this match. I wouldn’t have minded it if The Shield didn’t debut some really cool masks, but they did and I wanted to see them in the ring.
The match was just as short as the entrances as The Shield completely dominated. They even hit the triple power bomb on both of the Outlaws. I’m not sure what you call that. I think I’ll call it the triple-double power bomb.
Overall observation: The more I think about this show in hindsight, the more I like it. It had an air of unpredictability and dysfunction, but in a very cool way. It definitely topped last year’s WrestleMania, in my opinion and maybe among the greatest of all time. Outside of the battle royal, the undercard was nothing to write home about as expected, but the main events delivered and that’s all that matters.