Why I Love Wrestling: WrestleMania Review

spoilers, obviously
spoilers, obviously

WrestleMania 31 has come and gone. Did the granddaddy of them all live up to the hype? Did the Undertaker get back in the win column? Did Triple H come out in an absolutely ridiculous outfit and have a completely over the top entrance? And most importantly, did I get any of the matches right in my prediction post?

Pre-show matches

Tyson Kidd/Cesaro vs The Usos vs The New Day vs Los Matadores for the WWE Tag Team Championship

Why this was on the pre-show is beyond me. All four of these teams are stacked with talent…less so Los Matadores but dammit they try. It deserved a spot on the big stage, but I digress. The match was solid, if a bit short. Lots of big, multi-team spots were hit and everyone came out looking good. The stadium was relatively empty during this one but the crowd that was there was into the match. Kidd/Cesaro retained and should have a nice long run as champs. The New Day continue to struggle as faces and as trite as three black men in a pissed off group gimmick might be, it is really what these guys need, a modern day Nation of Domination, please and thank you. I neglected to make a prediction for this match so 0/0 so far. (I would have picked Kidd/Cesaro by the way, so…)

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale (ARMBAR)

Also relegated to the pre-show after having a big spot last year, but this time closer to the start of the show, the second annual ARMBAR managed to make the split of Miz and Mizdow bigger than the actual winner of the match, The Big Show. Battle Royales are hard to make entertaining, much as I personally love them, and this one was no different. Curtis Axel, still not eliminated from the Royal Rumble, was the first one out here because why try and build a new star, right? The rest of the competitors ganged up and tossed him. Hideo Itami, up from NXT, had a decent showing but was tossed unceremoniously. Miz and Mizdow worked together for most of the match until it was them and The Big Show left. Miz ordered his stunt double to go after Show, Mizdow refused, and tossed Miz out much to the delight of well, everyone. No one likes The Miz (because he is a great heel, I’m sure he’s super swell in real life). Mizdow did his level best against Show but there was no way Show wasn’t going to get the nod this year. It fits his legacy as a giant even if it is a bit boring and won’t actually lead to anything. I got this one right so 1/1.

Main Card

7 man ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship

Kicking off the main card was the ladder match for the IC strap. Unsurprisingly, Daniel Bryan got the biggest pop from the crowd. The match was one of the better ladder matches in history with tons of big spots (Ambrose through the ladder was just brutal), some silly spots (R-Truth is scared of heights, lol), and some questionable spots (Bryan and Ziggler headbutting the hell out of each other even though Ziggler has a well documented history of concussions). At the end of the match, Daniel Bryan came out on top and will hopefully bring a level of prestige back to the IC belt. There was a backstage segment later in the show that had a bunch of former legends, Steamboat/Bret Hart/Ric Flair/Piper, congratulating him and doing the YES chant. Back in the day the Intercontinental Champion was the best wrestler in the company and as long as Bryan holds the belt, this will be the case again. I called Bryan in my predictions so 2/2.

Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins

In my prediction post I called this a potential match of the night. I think I hit that right on the mark as the workrate in this match was incredible. Lots of back and forth between Orton and Rollins/J&J Security, RKO’s out of nowhere, near finishes, and a closing spot that damn near killed Seth Rollins. As Orton lay prone for a curb stomp, Rollins placed a foot on Orton’s back only to see Orton pop up, toss Rollins seemingly fifty feet into the air only to catch him in a devastating RKO. Orton got the win to further the story and set up Rollins for the “surprise” cash-in later in the evening. Called this one right as well, 3/3.

Sting vs Triple H

This match had it all. Japanese drummers (for some reason…), Sting in a dapper red duster coat (and no t-shirt, woot!), Triple H and a bunch of fucking Terminators, original old school fucking TERMINATORS!, a Terminator-style clip of an eye scanning the crowd, and Arnold, the Governator, in full Terminator garb, talking trash. It was stupid in the best way possible. The actual match showed that Sting can still go and is not too old to have another match or two at Mania in the future (against Taker in Texas maybe…). About ten minutes in as Sting was gaining the upper hand, out came DX (Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, X-Pac, and later Shawn Michaels) to make the save for Triple H and the WWE only to be countered by the NWO (Scott Hall, Kevin Nash, and Hulk Hogan). It was a complete surprise that angered me as it was happening, but made perfect sense in the overall big picture. The two most important factions in the recent history of American Pro Wrestling got to have a WrestleMania moment. I loved it on the second watch. And the third. The old guys even took bumps! Everything except the finish which saw Triple H go over, which made no sense. We get it, WWE won the war. No need to rub it in fourteen years later. Sting should have gotten the W. First mistake of the night for me, 3/4.

AJ Lee/Paige vs The Bella Twins

In what should have been a good match, we got a mostly boring affair with no big spots, no drama, and really no advancement or conclusion of the story. AJ and Paige got the victory after a few signature spots. I’m giving this one to myself because if WWE doesn’t care, neither should you. 4/5.

John Cena vs Rusev for the WWE United States Championship

John Cena came out and was pretty much the ‘Murica poster boy. Rusev came out in a goddamn tank, with soldiers. It was awesome. It was epic. It was the moment I knew that Cena was going to win. See, Cena must always look strong. What could look more strong than defeating the guy who came to the ring in a tank with Russian soldiers at his side? Short of kicking out of a tank shell to the chest, not much. Cena and Rusev actually had a damn good match with lots of near finishes and some really nice power spots. The finish saw Cena go over on Rusev, break his undefeated streak, take the US Title, and make America proud (at least I think that’s what they were going for, I’m not sure, Cena is still boring). Called this as well because it was about as telegraphed as could be 5/6.

*Overly long appearance from The Rock* when a wild Ronda Rousey appears

Rock came out, said funny stuff. Triple H and Stephanie came out, said Rock wasn’t that funny and he should go. Steph slapped Rock, Triple H postured and puffed his chest. And then, THEN my friends, The Rock brought Ronda Rousey into the ring. Ronda Rousey in a WWE ring at WrestleMania wearing a Vegeta “It’s over 9000” T-shirt. It was amazing. Rousey called out Steph, judo flipped Triple H, and made all of us wish she would have a run in WWE (not going to happen anytime soon, sorry).

The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt

The Rock segment was obviously a stall to let the sun go down a bit because Undertaker and Bray in the daylight is a bit awkward. Their entrances, epic moody affairs, were a huge let down in the California sun. On the plus side, Taker looked great. He moved well, hit his signature spots, and was still the “Phenom”. On the negative side, Bray hurt his ankle pretty seriously in pre-match warmups and it showed. Bray is an absolute tank in the ring and while he moved pretty well, you could just tell he was a bit off. The coolest spot in the match came when Bray did his upside down spider walk thing and Taker did his signature sit up dead man thing. Bray’s face showed fear and sold the mystique of the Undertaker better than anyone has in years. At the end of the match, Taker got the win to go 22-1 at Mania. Bray looked good in the match but really should have gone over. He will be off of TV for a while as he heals. Hopefully he comes back stronger than ever and with some direction. 5/7

Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns for the WWE Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship

So looking at the picture at the head of this post you will clearly see Seth Rollins walking out of WrestleMania with the Heavyweight belt. In a surprise and a first, Seth cashed in his Money in the Bank contract to make the main event a triple threat. Prior to his cash-in, Lesnar basically kicked the shit out of Reigns, suplexing and slamming him around the ring. Lesnar dominated most of the match and looked every bit the beast incarnate. Reigns, to his credit, sold the beating well, even going as far as to smile and ask for more. As much as smarks may not like the monster push Reigns is getting (it’s too soon honestly), we all have to admit it was badass and reminded us as to why we liked the guy in the first place. Reigns did get his spots in, though, and looked on the verge of an upset after three superman punches and two spears, when Seth’s music hit and blew the nonexistent roof off of the building. The cash-in usually gets a pop from the crowd and with the negativity towards Reigns, this one was strong. After a bit more back and forth between the three, Rollins hit the curbstomp on Reigns to win the title, setting up Brock as the monster who never actually lost. I got this one completely wrong as did almost everyone else, 5/8.

Overall, WrestleMania 31 was a damn fine show. Not the best Mania mind you, but damn enjoyable. I’m pleased with my 5/8 performance and while I disagree with some of the booking, I can understand why it was done. The road to WrestleMania 32 starts now. It should be a fun ride over the next year.

Dan Ryan

Dan Ryan was once the most feared and respected luchador in the world until the "Great DDT Disaster of '85" where Dan unfortunately DDT'd his opponent so hard into the ground that he opened a gate to the underworld that let unholy things into this world. After that, Dan refused to wrestle anymore but he's found new life writing and talking about his favorite hobbies here at Geekade. He pens the weekly Why I Love Wrestling series, co-hosts The Stone Age Gamer Podcast, expertly pairs video games with beer, and much, much more. Dan is a personality that Geekade simply would not be the same without.

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