The 28th WrestleMania was a big one for WWE because The Rock was back in singles action in the main event against the top guy at the time, John Cena. A dream match comes to life.
Once in a Lifetime? Not exactly. We’ll get into that later.
I was at this show in Miami for my second straight WrestleMania. “Yes.” If there’s one word to best explain my WrestleMania 28 experience in Miami it would simply be a resounding, two hands in the air yelling of the word “Yes.” At least for most of it.
See that pic right there? When we made it to section 138 at Sun Life Stadium that was our view. This pic was taken before the show started, but that’s what we were looking it. You couldn’t see the middle of the ring at all. We were blocked by a palm tree, which became affectionately known as “that f**king palm tree.” I think our “move the palm tree” chant was one of my favorite ones of the night. It didn’t make me feel better on Monday when I found out that some people were able to move when they complained about the obstructed view. We had no idea you could do that. There were some sporadic empty seats in the stadium, but I’d say the crowd of 78,000 people was near capacity.
This review is being written in March 2022, so it’s about ten years after the show. When I got home from Miami I was exhausted and I wrote out some thoughts on the matches along with star ratings, but it was not a detailed review. Ten years later, here I come with the detailed review of this four hour show. What I’m going to do is put some of the comments from my live perspective in blue font so that way you know what I was thinking in 2012 when I wrote about the show.
The pre-show match featuring Epico & Primo going over The Usos and Tyson Kidd & Justin Gabriel was a lot of fun. The champs Epico & Primo retained their titles. I was hoping Kidd & Gabriel would win. Gabriel was out for a few weeks after the match.
WWE WrestleMania XXVIII
April 1, 2012
From Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida
The show started with Lilian Garcia singing America The Beautiful. Good call. Why pay some celebrity money to do it when you have a perfectly good singer already on the roster? She was great. They had members of the military holding American flags on the stage as well. When the two jets flew over it was ridiculously loud. I always wanted to be a part of an outdoor WrestleMania to experience something like that. It’s one of those cool moments that you get from being there.
There was a fantastic opening video package about the big matches at WrestleMania with a heavy focus on The Rock vs. John Cena, of course.
The commentary team of Michael Cole and Jerry “The King” Lawler welcomed us to the show. Sheamus was up first as the 2012 Royal Rumble winner that was getting a major title shot in the opening match. It was the second straight WrestleMania where the World Title match opened the show. Daniel Bryan made his entrance as the heel World Heavyweight Champion that was accompanied by AJ Lee.
(The crowd was chanting “yes” for about an hour before the show. I kept saying to my friends I was sitting with that if this match gets time then we would be turning Bryan into a babyface. What an ominous statement that was. We didn’t cheer Sheamus very much. It’s nothing against him. It’s just that the WrestleMania crowd is generally filled with smart fans that come a long way to watch this event live – like myself – and we wanted to cheer for a guy like Bryan that worked his ass off for a decade to get to this point.)
World Heavyweight Title: Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus
The bell rang. Bryan kissed AJ on the lips, Cole called it a “good luck kiss” and when Bryan turned around, Sheamus knocked him out with the Brogue Kick. Sheamus covered for the one…two…and three! The match was over in 0:18.
Winner by pinfall AND New World Champion: Sheamus
Analysis: 1/4* A shocking result. I did not expect that. I don’t know if anybody did. Most people in the stadium were pissed off. I was. They wanted to put over Sheamus huge. They want to make the Brogue Kick the kind of finishing move that can end a match within seconds. Look at how the rest of the show was booked. There was plenty of time for this match to get more time. Instead, it was rushed and it made people angry. Will we remember it forever? If you asked most fans what World Title match ended in 18 seconds they will know it’s this match. Maybe that’s why WWE booked it this way to create a shocking moment.
Sheamus celebrated with the World Heavyweight Title while Bryan was furious and AJ was sad about what happened.
Analysis: Sheamus and Bryan went on to have an incredible match at Extreme Rules 2012 that I rated ****1/4 out of five. I recommend that one.
(For the next hour we sat there bitching about everything that followed that got more time than Bryan’s match. Believe me when I tell you that our section was a cranky bunch immediately following this.)
Team Johnny had a meeting backstage with The Miz trying to inspire his team. John Laurinaitis was introduced by David Otunga. Johnny told his team that they will create a moment for WrestleMania history. Johnny told his team it will be the night where he becomes the General Manager of Raw and Smackdown.
Kane vs. Randy Orton
Kane was in heel mode wearing a mask while Randy Orton was the face. Orton with clotheslines to start, Kane with clotheslines and some fans were chanting “Daniel Bryan” due to what happened earlier. Orton knocked Kane down and got some kicks to the body. Kane came back to send Orton across the top rope followed by a running kick. Kane with a running dropkick on a seated Orton. Kane with a chinlock, Orton broke free and they exchanged punches until Kane hit an uppercut punch for a two count. Kane hit a sidewalk slam for two. Orton hit a swinging neckbreaker for a two count. Kane took control again by sending Orton into the top turnbuckle followed by Kane hitting a vertical suplex for two. Orton managed to avoid a sidewalk slam leading to Orton hitting a modified backbreaker for two. Orton continued the attack with a powerslam followed by Orton sending Kane shoulder-first into the turnbuckle. Orton hit the draping DDT off the ropes. Orton set up for the RKO, Kane shoved him away and hit a boot to the face for two. Kane went up top, he jumped off and Orton delivered a dropkick to the ribs. Orton went for The Punt, but Kane got up and Kane hit a Chokeslam for two. Great nearfall. Orton slipped out of a Kane move leading to an RKO attempt, but Kane got out of that and Orton hit a dropkick to the knee. Kane went to the middle turnbuckle, Orton with punches and there were some “Randy” chants. Kane got a hold of Orton on the middle rope and Kane hit a Chokeslam for the pinfall win at 10:58.
Winner by pinfall: Kane
Analysis: ** A decent match with a slow pace. Kane matches were boring at times. When Orton hit some signature moves, it started getting good. That nearfall by Kane was terrific as a nearfall spot. The last few minutes were solid with a strong ending due to a Chokeslam off the middle rope. I don’t think it really mattered who got the win because they were both former World Champions that were pushed well for most of their careers.
(Boring match although I give them credit for the good finish. I don’t have any memories of it. A lot of us were depressed about the Daniel Bryan thing and didn’t start caring again until the Hell in a Cell match. I remember Kane was doing the “Embrace the Hate” gimmick feuding with John Cena/Zack Ryder for months and then they had him move on to Orton since he was a top face.)
There was a backstage comedy bit with Santino, Mick Foley, some dude from Deadliest Catch named Captain Keith while they plugged the show on Discovery Channel. Captain tried teaching them how to eat crab legs, so Santino got out the Cobra while Foley took out Mr. Socko ad and the Captain elbowed the crab leg. Ron Simmons walked into the picture to end it with a “DAMN.”
Analysis: Thanks to Ron Simmons for ending it with a “DAMN.” I’m glad he did because this segment was dying fast. I guess that’s the point when Ron shows up. Too bad Foley didn’t have a bigger role on the show.
They showed members of the National Guard and thanked them for everything they do for the country.
Cody Rhodes made his entrance as the Intercontinental Champion. A video aired about Big Show having a lot of embarrassing moments at WrestleMania, so the story was about whether Big Show could have some success at WrestleMania. Big Show was next with Cole noting that Show was 3-8 at WrestleMania and in the tag team matches he won, he wasn’t involved in the pinfall victory.
Intercontinental Championship: Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show
Cody tried to run away, Show caught him on the floor and Show tossed Cody back into the ring. Show tossed Cody across the ring followed by some hard chops to the chest along with a forearm to the back. Show with a body slam. Show sat on Cody’s head against the turnbuckle. Ouch. Show sent Cody into the turnbuckle, Show went for a corner splash, Cody moved and Cody hit a dropkick. Cody hit a running dropkick to the knee. Cody wrenched on the left knee a few times, Show kicked him away and a hard chop to the chest. Show with a clothesline to the head, a corner charge and Cody got boots up to block. Cody jumped off the ropes to wrench Show’s right arm against the top rope. Cody with a Disaster Kick, he went for it again jumping off the ropes and Show caught him with a Spear. Cody was grabbing his groin. Show hit the KO Punch for the pinfall win at 5:19.
Winner by pinfall and New Intercontinental Champion: Big Show
Analysis: *1/2 A dominant win for Show. I think this was just a case of WWE wanting to give Big Show a title win at a WrestleMania since the story was about how Show wasn’t successful at WM shows. Cody got some offense in, but Show was able to overpower him. I thought Show’s Spear to counter the Disaster Kick was a cool idea in theory. However, it looked like Show hit the Spear on Cody’s groin rather than on his ribs. That looked very painful. Show ending it in dominant fashion with the KO Punch was a smart way to finish the match.
Big Show celebrated with the Intercontinental Title with Cole saying that show finally got his WrestleMania moment. Show was even in tears to try to put this over as a big moment for him.
(I remember the storyline although I had no memory of the match. Show’s tears were probably a bit much. It’s not like this was his first WrestleMania win. Good effort by him making us care a bit. They did a rematch at Extreme Rules 2012 with Cody getting the IC Title back.)
There was a video that aired about “the glitz and glamour” of being a WWE diva. Lots of smiling and having fun. Sure.
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres
Maria was wearing a top that had the Greece flag. As a Greek man myself, I appreciated that. Maria is a TV show host. Beth was the Divas Champion at the time. Kelly with a hurricanrana on Eve for a two count. Kelly went for a corner handspring elbow, but Eve got her feet up to block. Eve went up top, Kelly hit her leg and Eve collapsed. Maria tagged in for a double Stinkface spot. Beth hit Maria in the ribs to knock her down. Eve grounded Maria in a leg scissors leading to a “Daniel Bryan” chant from the bored crowd while also starting a “YES” chant. Beth applied the most gentle bearhug on Maria. Eve tagged in for a double team arm/leg pull. Eve did some dancing by Maria, so Maria kicked her out of the ring. Kelly tagged in against Beth with a Thesz Press into punches. Kelly with a headscissors that sent Beth into the turnbuckle and Kelly hit a neckbreaker. Kelly went up top and hit a somersault onto Beth for the pin attempt, but Eve made the save. It was like the Molly Go Round that Molly Holly did in her career. Beth wanted a Glam Slam, Kelly countered it and turned it into a bulldog. Maria tagged in even though she was moving slowly, Beth got a hold of Maria and pressed her over her head. Kelly shoved Beth into Eve and Maria got the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! on Beth for the pinfall win at 6:22.
Winners by pinfall: Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos
Analysis: * A bad match, but with Maria as a non-wrestler it was hard to expect much. Maria really didn’t take many bumps. It was mostly just sitting in rest holds. Kelly and Eve were fine in the match. This made Beth look weak as a champion since she got pinned by a rollup.
(We didn’t care about the match in the stadium as evidenced by the random “YES” chants we did to keep ourselves entertained.)
Shawn Michaels was interviewed by Shawn Michaels, who was the referee of the Hell in a Cell match. Shawn said that this match was the End of an Era saying that facing The Undertaker ended his career. Shawn said it’s ironic that now he holds the power in the palm of his hand to end an era.
The announced attendance was 78,363 people. The gate was at over $8 million, which is very impressive. We paid $40 for parking too, so they made a killing that way too.
They brought Jim Ross out to call the Hell in a Cell match. He should have stayed the whole show, but at least he was there for this epic match.
Analysis: Good call having JR out there for a big match like this. In the two years prior, they had Cole as more of a heel announcer that had issues with Cole and Lawler. I didn’t like the feud at all, but it went on for a long time. They should have had JR out there to call the main event as well.
Shawn Michaels was out first as the referee. Shawn lost to The Undertaker two years earlier (along with the year before that), which led to his retirement. Triple H made his entrance looking intense as usual. Hunter emerged from something at the top of the stage, but it wasn’t an elaborate entrance like he had some years. Hunter walked down to the ring with a sense of purpose. The Undertaker made his entrance doing a very slow walk down to the ring as usual. This was Undertaker’s first match since WrestleMania 27 one year earlier when he beat Triple H. After about four minutes, The Undertaker finally got into the ring. Taker took off his hood to reveal short hair cut. We were always used to long-haired Taker, so it was a bit different look for sure. Undertaker and Hunter had a long staredown, there was smoke that filled the ring and the cell was lowered at that point. The song “The Memory Remains” from Metallica played while the cell was lowered.
(It was a good placement for this match because for the previous hour the crowd was getting antsy. We were a rowdy bunch, but we didn’t get the chance to really show it. I think the entrances alone took about 15 minutes, which was fine with us. We knew they’d get a lot of time and I was ready to mark out like I was 10 years old again. It was cool seeing Undertaker rocking the short hair look. I’m glad he wasn’t totally bald. Keeping some hair was the right call. The crowd was strongly behind Undertaker. It’s not like we hated Triple H. We just wanted to mark out for every classic Undertaker spot.)
Hell in a Cell Match: Triple H vs. The Undertaker (w/Shawn Michaels as Referee)
This was billed as an “End of an Era” match. The Undertaker was 47 years old at the time of the match while Triple H was 42 years old. Michaels is the same age as Undertaker.
Taker took control early with punches to the body and head. Hunter got a boot up to stop a charging Taker, but there were more punches from Taker leading to Hunter getting tossed out of the ring. Taker with a headbutt, Hunter sent Taker into the cell, Taker whipped Hunter into the cell and Taker hit a back body drop on the floor. Taker whipped Hunter into the cell again. When Michaels checked on Hunter, Taker shoved him away and Taker headbutted Hunter. Taker sent Hunter into the cell followed by a whip into the steel steps. Taker with another whip into the steel steps. Back in the ring, Hunter with a clothesline, then a facebuster into the knee that Taker no-sold and Taker hit a clothesline. Taker did old school rope walk leading to the jumping punch to the back. Taker sent Hunter out of the ring and Taker hit him with the steel steps. If they were blading during matches in 2012 that’s probably where they would have done it. Taker set up Hunter on the ring apron where Taker hit the running leg drop in a spot that Taker did very often in his career. Hunter managed to get some offense going with a DDT. The steel steps (half of them so two steps instead of four) were in the ring, so Hunter slammed Taker’s head into the steps. When Hunter tried a Pedigree on the steel steps, Taker countered with a back body drop. Taker worked over Hunter with punches, then he charged off the ropes and Hunter applied a spinebuster on the steel steps. Taker applied the Hell’s Gate submission that Taker used a year earlier to win, but Hunter countered it and turned it into a slam for two. Hunter brought two steel chairs into the ring. Hunter with a chair jab to the ribs and a chair to the back. Hunter set up the steel steps against the turnbuckle and whipped Taker into them. Hunter dumped the steps out of the ring. Hunter worked over Taker with multiple chair shots to the back. There were about five of them, Michaels tried to stop Hunter and Hunter delivered another chair to the back. Hunter jabbed the chair into Taker’s back along with another hard chair to the back. Michaels grabbed the chair and tossed it aside. Michaels told Hunter: “You know he’s not going to quit.” Shawn was in the way, so Hunter hit Taker with more chair shots to the back. Hunter told Shawn to end it or Hunter will. Taker told Shawn: “Don’t stop it, do not stop it!” Taker was back up to his feet, Hunter with a chair to the ribs and a chair to the back for one…two…and no. It was just a two count.
Hunter left the ring looking for more weapons while Michaels checked on Taker, who told Shawn not to end it. Hunter had a cut around his left eye. Hunter brought the sledgehammer into the ring with Hunter telling Shawn he is ending this one way or another. Shawn pleaded to Taker to let him ring the bell, but Taker wanted to keep fighting. Hunter hit him with the sledgehammer to the head (when Hunter puts the hand at the end of the hammer) for a two count because Taker got his right shoulder up. Hunter teased a sledgehammer shot to the head, but Shawn took the sledgehammer away and fans booed! They booed a man preventing a sledgehammer shot to the head. Hunter wanted Shawn to end it, Shawn nearly ended it and then he stopped himself. When Michaels checked on Taker, that’s when Taker applied the Hell’s Gate submission on Michaels! Hunter broke that up with a sledgehammer shot on Taker to break up the hold. When Hunter went to attack again, Taker delivered a low blow kick to the groin and Taker applied Hell’s Gate on Hunter just like the year prior. Hunter grabbed the sledgehammer, but he wasn’t able to use it and hunter slowly passed out. There was no tap from Hunter, but he was passed out and Taker let him go. Charles Robinson ran down to the ring, he opened the door and got into the ring. Taker hit a Chokeslam, Robinson was in the ring to count and it got a two count. Huge pop for that nearfall. Taker wasn’t happy with Robinson, so Taker gave him a Chokeslam! Taker went for a Tombstone, Hunter slipped out, Michaels with a superkick to Taker and Hunter with a Pedigree for the one…two…and no! Michaels counted it and it was not a three count, but it was damn close and one of the loudest crowd reactions I’ve ever been a part of. Holy shit, what a pop! I will never forget that reaction in my life. Michaels went to the turnbuckle and put his hands on his face looking frustrated. Cole said Michaels was calling it down the middle even though Michaels just superkicked Taker! That’s not really down the middle, is it? Anyway, the match continued from there. The reaction to that nearfall is legendary.
Hunter was frustrated with his best friend Michaels, so he tossed him out of the ring. Taker sat back up, he delivered punches, then a corner clothesline, Snake Eyes into the turnbuckle and a running boot to the face. Taker with a leg drop. Taker hit a Tombstone in the middle of the ring, Michaels was back in the ring to count one…two…and no! Hunter got his left shoulder up! The fans were going crazy again. Taker had a bit of slobber coming out of his mouth as he had a stunned look on his face. Michaels was again stunned by what happened as he sat against the turnbuckle. They slowly got back up to their feet, they exchanged punches with the fans cheering more for Taker and some boos when Hunter got in some punches. Taker went for a Tombstone, Hunter slipped out and Hunter hit a Pedigree for one…two…and no! Taker kicked out again. They slowly got back up again with Taker getting a hold of a chair leading to some revenge chair shots with jabs to the body and hard chair shots to the back. Taker delivered two stuff chair shots to the back. Taker delivered three more chair shots to the back and the chair was bent from it. Taker covered for two as Hunter got his right shoulder up at two. Hunter got up with the sledgehammer in his hands. Hunter tried to strike, but Taker stopped him and took the sledgehammer. Hunter shoved Taker away. Hunter with a crotch chop, so Taker hit him with a sledgehammer to the head. Hunter tried to get back up, Undertaker did the throat slash signal, Undertaker picked up Hunter, Undertaker hit the Tombstone, folded the arms and pinned Hunter for the pinfall win at 30:47. The Undertaker is 20-0 at WrestleMania. JR: “My god, what a war.”
Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker
Analysis: ***** It gets five stars from me. Incredible match at WrestleMania for the second year in a row between these two legends. When they announced it as a Hell in a Cell match I knew it would be even more violent than what they did a year earlier. Thankfully, the guys in the ring knew exactly what we wanted and delivered the kind of physical brawl that we will remember for the rest of our lives. I didn’t love everything that Michaels did. I think he was too emotionally involved and there were too many spots where he interjected himself a little much for my liking. That’s only a minor gripe, though. The story they told early on with Undertaker dominating showed that even though he was off for a year he was still in great shape. I’m not sure how many chair shots he delivered to Undertaker during the match, but it was probably around 20 or so. The spot where Undertaker had Triple H in the Hell’s Gate while HBK was out was also very well done. That spot where Michaels gave Undertaker a Superkick leading to the Triple H Pedigree was one of the better nearfalls you will ever see. When Undertaker kicked out, the place became unglued. The nearfalls were amazing. I liked the finish a lot because it reminded me of WM26 with Taker-Michaels when Taker was pissed off that he couldn’t put him away, then Shawn did the throat slash and that’s when Taker ended him. In this case, it was Hunter doing the crotch chop and Taker finished him off after that. These two “old” dudes in their 40s gave us a classic wrestling brawl that I will never forget. This is the best match I’ve ever seen live.
After the match, the cell was raised. Undertaker tried to sit up, but then he fell over to his side. Taker needed to grab the robes to get himself back up to his feet and that’s when Michaels grabbed his hand to help Taker get back. Taker and Michaels hugged while the fans cheered. There were a lot of “20-0” signs in the crowd. Undertaker posed on his one knee while the stadium was full of purple light, there were fireworks and 20-0 graphics everywhere. Hunter really sold the beating a lot because he stayed down for several minutes. Michaels and Taker helped Hunter get back up to his feet. The three legends all walked together up the ramp slowly.
This image of Undertaker, Hunter and Michaels looking back at the crowd is iconic. I believe all three guys have it in their homes or at least I know Undertaker does.
The fans gave them a huge ovation. It was the end of an era as well as the end of a four-year journey where Undertaker had two classic matches with Michaels at WM25 & WM26 followed by two more classics with Hunter at WM27 & WM28.
(I had so much fun watching this match live. The show up to this point had some sad moments, but this one really picked us up in a big way that we needed. When Undertaker gave Charles Robinson a Chokeslam, I remember something in particular. The drunk guy in front of me was yelling: “That’s what we came to see! Beat up the ref!” That’s also when a “this is awesome” chant started up. I can remember high-fiving strangers sitting around me just because we all wanted Undertaker to win. Sure, we knew what the outcome was going to be, but these guys are so good at their job that they made it feel real. It was real to us god dammit! A few days after WM28, I came home and I watched the broadcast with three friends that used to watch the product all the time during the Attitude Era. They don’t watch anymore, but I made sure they watched the whole thing. They loved all of it. They marked out for all the big spots. Like I said, it was a story that was perfectly told and a match that was truly unforgettable.)
I wrote a full in-depth column about this match as well. Bret Hart called it a 4 out of 10 match due to his hatred of Triple H. I love Bret, but I don’t agree at all.
A video aired showing highlights of the 2012 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. Edge was the headline name after he retired one year earlier.
The Hall of Famers appeared on the stage after being introduced by the late, great Howard Finkel. It was Mil Mascaras, Yokozuna represented by his children, Ron Simmons (“DAMN!”), The Four Horsemen – Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Tully Blanchard, Barry Windham & JJ Dillon, “Iron” Mike Tyson doing some awkward DX chops and then Edge was last. Edge had tears in his eyes as he got a big pop from the crowd.
Analysis: Here I sit in 2022 and Edge is still wrestling. I’m still amazed that he was able to come back to the ring in 2020 after nine years away due to a serious neck injury. It was a pretty good Hall of Fame class.
There was a backstage scene with Josh Mathews set to interview singer Flo Rida. Heath Slater walked up to Josh saying nobody wants to hear from Florida. That’s when Flo Rida appeared to say it was “Flo Rida” not Florida and Slater suggested a duet with him. Slater kept on talking shit, so Flo Rida shoved him into a wall. Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks were there to check on their buddy Heath while Flo went back into his dressing room.
Brie Bella was on stage to introduce Team Johnny for the tag team match. This team were the heels – The Miz, Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler and David Otunga. John Laurinaitis was joined by Vickie Guerrero.
Nikki Bella was on stage to introduce Team Teddy. This team was made up of babyfaces – Kofi Kingston, The Great Khali, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Booker T and Santino Marella. Teddy Long walked out with Aksana and Hornswoggle carrying the flag. Teddy was the GM of Smackdown.
Team Johnny (David Otunga, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry & The Miz) (with Brie Bella, John Laurinaitis & Vickie Guerrero) vs. Team Teddy (Booker T, Kofi Kingston, The Great Khali, R-Truth, Santino Marella & Zack Ryder) (with Aksana, Eve Torres, Hornswoggle, Nikki Bella & Theodore Long)
The stipulation was that if Johnny or Teddy would be running Raw & Smackdown depending on who won this match. Team Johnny was wearing red shirts while Team Teddy was wearing blue shirts.
Kofi worked with Ziggler with Kofi hitting a springboard cross body block. Truth tagged in with a double team hiptoss leading to Truth hitting a leg drop for two. Ziggler with a dropkick, Drew tagged in and Truth hit a jumping forearm. Khali tagged in with a punch to Drew followed by a hard chop and a clothesline. Booker T unleashed on Drew with chops, a back elbow and a standing side kick. Booker with a sidewalk slam. Otunga with a cheap shot on Booker, so Booker punched him and others on the team. Otunga with a necksnap on Booker against the top rope leading to Drew hitting a boot to the face. Swagger tagged in with a snapmare leading to an armbar on Booker, then Booker broke free and Swagger hit him with a clothesline. Henry tagged in with a body slam. Miz tagged in with a running knee lift on Booker for two. Booker blocked a suplex leading to a suplex of his own. Ziggler with a jumping elbow drop. Miz was back in to work over Booker a bit as the guys on the apron tried to get the crowd going and Booker hit a jumping side kick on Miz. Henry went in with a World’s Strongest Slam on Booker, Khali with a big chop on Henry, Swagger & Drew into the ring with a double flapjack on Khali. Kofi & Truth with double dropkicks, then a double clothesline on Ziggler and Otunga was tossed out of the ring. Hornswoggled was tossed over the top onto the heels, Henry caught him and threw him down. The trio of Truth, Kofi and Ryder each hit somersault dives onto the heels on the floor. The women on the floor got into a fight so Aksana and Vickie tackled eachother while the Bella Twins got involved. Back in the ring, team captain Santino got the tag from Booker and worked over Miz with punches followed by a hiptoss. Santino jumped off the top with a headbutt. Cobra time! The fans came alive as Santino put the Cobra on his right hand and punched Miz for a two count as Ziggler made the save. That was close. Ziggler missed a corner splash, Ryder tagged in and did a monkey flip that Ziggler sold so well. Ryder with a neckbreaker on Miz. Ryder hit the Rough Ryder on Ziggler and set up Miz in the corner. Eve went into the ring to support Ryder, so poor Zack was distracted and Miz capitalized with a Skull Crushing Finale for the pinfall win at 10:32.
Winners by pinfall: Team Johnny (David Otunga, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry & The Miz)
Analysis: **1/2 It was just an average match to get a lot of people on the show. The finishing sequence was pretty cool with everybody hitting their big moves at once. At least Khali wasn’t in the ring very much. Of course, Zack Ryder was the reason his team lost because he’s booked to be the biggest idiot in the company on a weekly basis. Eve ended up costing the team because she went into the ring for some reason. Miz capitalized to get the win.
Team Johnny celebrated the win with Laurinaitis getting excited because he would become the new General Manager on Raw and Smackdown. Cole was doing his heel gimmick saying he was excited about it the celebration for Laurinaitis on Raw.
Post match, the focus was on Eve checking on Zack Ryder. Eve tried to apologize for what happened and then she kicked him in the groin Eve left alone. She certainly looked good leaving too. Ryder was down selling the kick.
Analysis: The booking of Ryder in 2012 was awful since he was made to look like a fool so often and this was another example of it.
(The only thing I remembered from this is that Eve turned on Ryder to cost the team the win. Other than a few cool spots, it was a regular match to get more people on the show.)
They showed NY Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez and former WWE diva Torrie Wilson at ringside. They were dating at the time, but they did not get married or anything like that. Fun fact: Torrie was hanging out with me the day before and she even tweeted about it. She was at the Wrestlecon event or whatever it was called and I helped her with the signing since she was right beside my friend Mickie James. Torrie’s awesome. One of my favorite people I have gotten to know in wrestling.
A video aired showing highlights from WWE Axxess along with some appearances by WWE’s superstars.
CM Punk, the WWE Champion, was shown getting ready for his match. John Laurinaitis walked by with his team. Johnny said that Punk looked kind of angry and like he wants to beat up Jericho. Johnny said he wanted a WrestleMania match while adding that if Punk gets disqualified then he will lose his WWE Championship. Punk didn’t say a word, but he was making angry faces.
Chris Jericho’s entrance was very cool wearing a bright light up jacket. They shut the lights off, so when he was on the stage it was the only light in the building. Jericho walked out to the ring for the match.
A video package aired for the WWE Championship feud between CM Punk and Chris Jericho. Punk said he was the best in the world, he said he has proved that he is the best over the last six years and the heel challenger Chris Jericho believed that he was the best, not Punk. Jericho had lines about “End of the World as you know it” as he targeted Punk. Jericho made it personal talking shit about Punk’s family. Punk fired back ripping on Jericho saying he’ll go through him to prove he’s the best in the world.
Analysis: There were reports that Jericho was going to win Royal Rumble 2012 to set up this match. When a lot of people seemed to assume Jericho would win, WWE changed it to Sheamus although I don’t honestly know if Sheamus was always their choice to win. Anyway, Jericho finished second to Sheamus and both guys got major title matches at this WrestleMania and this match was definitely more high-profile than Bryan-Sheamus was.
CM Punk got a big pop as he made his entrance to “Cult of Personality” and wore the title on his way to the ring.
WWE Championship: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
If CM Punk is disqualified then he will lose the WWE Championship.
Punk was aggressive to start the match with punches and he kicked Punk repeatedly in the corner. Jericho slapped Punk in the face, so Punk kicked him more with Jericho against the turnbuckle. Jericho with more slaps to the face, then he went to the turnbuckle and Punk punched him more while the referee counted to four with Punk stopping before five. Jericho: “How’s your father?” Punk charged at Jericho and then worked him over with elbows. Punk with a body slam. Punk went up top, Jericho rolled out of the ring and Punk hit a top rope clothesline on Jericho. That led to Jericho asking: “How is your sister?” Punk grabbed a steel chair, Jericho wanted him to hit him and Jericho kept on mentioning Punk’s family issues with a drunk father and a sister that was a drug addict. Punk charged, but Jericho was ready for him and hit a dropkick. Jericho went for an attack while Punk was on the apron, but Punk was ready for him. Punk went for a move and then Jericho clotheslined Punk over the top rope into the ring. Jericho suplexed Punk from the apron to the floor. Jericho with a backbreaker, then a chinlock, Punk broke free and Jericho hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Jericho kicked the lower back followed by a senton. Jericho had a small cut above his left eye. Punk tried getting some momentum going, he went up top and Jericho pulled him by the tights to slam Punk to the mat for a two count. Punk took a rough bump where his head snapped onto the mat. Jericho with a move pulling on the arms and Punk kicked Jericho into the turnbuckle. Jericho went for a bulldog, but Punk countered by sending Jericho into the turnbuckle so Jericho sat on the second turnbuckle.
Punk got some momentum going with chops, a jumping heel kick, a clothesline and a neckbreaker for two. Punk hit a running knee to the face, but Jericho blocked the bulldog with a slam. Jericho went for a Lionsault, Punk got the knees up, Jericho managed to land on his feet and went for the Walls of Jericho. Punk countered that submission attempt and Punk kicked Jericho in the head for a two count. Punk with a body slam, Punk went up top and went for an elbow drop, but Jericho got the knees up to counter. Jericho hit the Codebreaker (his finishing move) only for Punk to bump and roll under the ring to the floor. Back in the ring, Punk got a hold of Jericho and hit the GTS. Punk did a slow cover in a position where they were near the ropes, so Jericho got his foot on the bottom rope to break the hold. Jericho charged, Punk caught him and hit a powerslam for two. They battled over a waistlock, Jericho hit a suplex into the top rope and Jericho hit a Lionsault off the ropes for two. Jericho went up top, Punk met him with chops and a headbutt. Punk went for the hurricanrana off the top, but Jericho countered it and walked right into the Walls of Jericho. What a great spot! The crowd really came alive for that as Punk was screaming in pain until he got his hand on the bottom rope. Jericho charged at Punk, who gave Chris a back body drop over the top to the floor. Punk hit a suicide dive that sent Jericho into the barricade. Punk with a jumping knee that sent Jericho into the ring post. Back in the ring, Punk jumped off the top right into a Codebreaker by Jericho for one…two…no! Punk kicked out. Punk wanted a GTS, Jericho fought out of it and when Jericho was on the top, Punk kicked him in the ribs. Punk had Jericho on the shoulders, shouted “Best in the World” and Jericho blocked a GTS attempt! Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho in the center of the ring, the fans were screaming and some of them were shouting for Punk to tap. Punk got an inside cradle for two, then they each went for submissions and Punk applied the Anaconda Vice submission on the arm/head. Jericho tried a pin attempt, but Punk held on. Jericho with knees to the head, Punk grabbed the legs to avoid the Walls and Punk applied the Anaconda Vice again. Jericho had nowhere to go, so he tapped out and Punk won by submission at 22:23.
Winner by submission: CM Punk
Analysis: ***1/2 A very good match between two of the best wrestlers at the time and really two of my favorites in WWE history. It didn’t get to that next level where I’d call it great, but I still enjoyed it. Jericho did a nice job of riling Punk up to try to get him DQ’d, but it took us a while to really get into it. It took a while to get the crowd into it because it was a slow-paced match for a lot of it. They did win the crowd over and the match got better. I liked the spot where Jericho countered a springboard move into a Codebreaker for two. Jericho did everything to fight off the Anaconda Vince like he did multiple times before, but Punk was determined and he won the match after Jericho tapped out. A clean win for the babyface WWE Champion to keep the title. That result was fine with a lot of fans, I’m sure.
(I remember it being a bit slow at the start and the crowd wasn’t into it, but then we really got into it more as the match went on. This was early in Punk’s really long 434-day WWE Title reign and I thought Jericho might actually get the win, but that didn’t happen. The feud continued from here and they had a better match at Extreme Rules 2012.)
CM Punk celebrated with the WWE Championship while the fans cheered.
A commercial aired for WrestleMania 29 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on April 7, 2013.
There was a segment with Brodus Clay calling his momma and dancing with her as well as her bridge club. Brodus had his dancers Naomi and Cameron with him. It wasn’t a very good segment, but most of the crowd liked Brodus.
Analysis: It was a way to kill some time. Naomi has been in the company the entire time, so kudos to her longevity.
(If you needed a bathroom break before the main event, this was a good time to take that break.)
It was time for The Rock/John Cena video package: “Once in a Lifetime.” There were comments from The Rock, John Cena and other wrestlers talking about the match. They talked about who they thought was going to win the match, who needed the win more and things like that.
Analysis: The phrase “Once in a Lifetime” was just a work and WWE knew it at the time. They had a three WrestleMania plan for Rock to host WM27, cost Cena that match, set up the WM28 main event on the Raw after WrestleMania and then later in 2012 we found out Rock was going to challenge for the WWE Title at Royal Rumble 2013. That led to Rock becoming WWE Champion, then Cena won the 2012 Royal Rumble and it led to the rematch. WWE knew this was going to happen, yet they still pushed this match as Once in a Lifetime. It was smart by WWE to sell this 2012 match, but it’s also blatantly lying to your fans.
Diddy came out and introduced Machine Gun Kelly and Skyler Grey, who sang “Invincible” while John Cena highlights played. It’s not a bad song, but I got tired of it. What I found ridiculous was when MGK called Cena an underdog while saying Rock had a big ego. MGK said that Cena’s an underdog that rises above hate. Cena had been main eventing for seven years. He was not an underdog. MGK deserved to be booed for that statement. John Cena’s entrance was full of boos. There was a lot of noise, though, so that let me know the crowd still had plenty of energy to react to everything in the main event.
(I remember people booing MGK calling Cena an underdog. Cena was pushed heavily, main evented for seven years at this point and was not an underdog at all. The crowd really was anti-Cena at this point because Miami was Rock’s hometown and the fans were strongly behind Rock.)
Flo Rida was next for a musical performance. He sang “Good Feeling” and “Wild Ones” to a lot of cheers from the crowd. Lots of energy from him. I’m okay with musical acts if they’re good. I think Flo Rida is pretty good, so I had no problems with it.
(I liked the musical segments. The crowd seemed to be into it and it made us want to see the match even more. With that said, if the musical acts weren’t on the show then maybe Sheamus and Daniel Bryan would have been a longer match. I’m just saying.)
When Flo Rida was done, The Rock made his entrance. The Rock’s ovation on his entrance was one of the loudest reactions I’ve ever been a part of. It was at that moment when I realized that if they had Cena win then there really could have been a riot as the sign in the front row suggested. Okay so maybe not a riot, but a lot of angry fans. When Rock was posing on the turnbuckles, the fans were going crazy for him. It was so loud.
The main event ring introductions took place with Justin Roberts introducing John Cena first. A lot of boos. When Roberts said “Miami, Florida” for Rock’s hometown the reaction was loud and then it was even louder when he introduced The Rock. Lawler: “This match epitomizes WrestleMania.” Damn right.
The Rock vs. John Cena
Rock and Cena stood face to face, then they each turned to face the crowd and soak up the atmosphere. That’s something Rock did with Hulk Hogan ten years earlier. The Rock was 39 years old at the time of the match (he turned 40 one month later) and Cena was 34 years old (he turned 35 later in the year). The bell rang to start the match. The referee was Mike Chioda.
Rock had Cena in a headlock, Cena with an armbar, Rock with a kip-up and two armdrags. Rock did La Magistral cradle for a two count. Cena took a deep breath, made sure it was “two” to the referee and regrouped. Cena took control with a side headlock takeover as the fans continued to make noise. Cena off the ropes, he kicked Rock in the chest and Rock came back with a punch. Rock with double leg takedown, Cena broke free and escaped to the floor to regroup a bit. Back in the ring, Cena drove Rock back first into the turnbuckle followed by a shoulder tackle and a clothesline. Cena sent Rock out of the ring with Cena sending Rock ribs first into the top of the barricade. Cena sent Rock ribs first onto the top of the commentary table. Cena continued to work over the ribs with kicks followed by a belly-to-belly side slam. Cena sent Rock into the ropes leading to a bearhug submission for over a minute, Rock broke free with punches and a DDT for two. Rock got some momentum going with punches, a leaping clothesline and a spinebuster. Cena bounced back with two shoulder tackles followed by the spinning side slam. Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle fist drop to a big reaction as a fan held up a sign: “If Cena Wins, We Riot.” Sure you will. Cena went for the Attitude Adjustment, Rock slipped out of it and they did a double clothesline spot to knock down both guys. Rock and Cena exchanged punches, Rock did a spit punch motion, Cena ducked it and Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment for one…two…and no! Rock kicked out. That was the first finisher that connected in the match. The fans were going crazy with most people standing and making a lot of noise. Cena took his time getting back up, which gave Rock time to recover. Rock got right back up with a Rock Bottom for one…two…and no! Just two.
Rock got some momentum going with elbows while Cena was against the turnbuckle, but then Cena came back with a sidewalk slam. That’s not a regular move for Cena although it did look good. Cena went up top, he stood on the top rope and Cena hit the leg drop to the back of the neck for a two count. Cena did that move often in his career. It wasn’t a perfect version of the move, but enough of Cena’s leg hit Rock to make it look good. Cena went for the AA, Rock held onto the rope to counter and Rock tackled Cena leading to a Sharpshooter submission in the middle of the ring. It didn’t look great, but they both sold it well and Cena got his left hand on the bottom rope. Rock worked over Cena with punches leading to Rock applying the Sharpshooter submission again. Rock’s technique wasn’t great as he put his knee on the mat, but Cena still sold it well and got to the bottom rope again. Rock hit Cena with elbows to the chest while Cena was on the apron. Rock whipped Cena into the steel steps followed by Rock going into the ring to break the referee’s count. Cena got back to the apron, he got a shoulder tackle to the ribs and a sunset flip leading to Cena applying the STF submission. Rock managed to get near the ropes, Cena re-applied the move closer to the middle of the ring and Rock almost passed out as Chioda lifted Rock’s right arm two times, but on the third time, Rock kept the arm up as the stadium let out a roar of approval. Rock got to the bottom rope to break the hold. It was over two minutes with Rock in that move.
Cena got back up to regroup after the long submission move, he charged towards Rock and Rock hit a Samoan Drop, which is a move that Rock always did throughout his career. Rock with punches, Cena came back with punches and they each wanted finishers, but couldn’t connect with them. Rock hit a spinebuster. Huge ovation as Rock set up for the People’s Elbow and connected with the elbow drop for one…two…and no! Cena kicked out. Cena caught Rock in an inside cradle for two. Cena tripped up Rock leading to a catapult into the top rope into a pin attempt for two. Cena set up Rock for a superplex, Rock fought back with punches and shoved Cena down. Rock went up top, which was rare for him, the fans stood up and Rock hit a cross body block, but Cena rolled through. Cena picked Rock up overhead and hit the Attitude Adjustment for one…two…and Rock got the shoulder up! That one was one of the best nearfalls I can ever remember at a WrestleMania. It was so close. I thought it was it. The whole stadium thought that was it. Cena thought about a Five Knuckle Shuffle, but instead attempted a People’s Elbow attempt, he bounced off the ropes and Rock caught him in a Rock Bottom for the one…two…and three! Rock wins! It went 30:35. Huge pop for that.
Winner by pinfall: The Rock
Analysis: ***3/4 A great main event level match full of drama. It’s not an all-time classic match or anything, but above average and it was fun to watch. It was amazing to hear how vocal the fans were throughout the match as they supported while most of them were booing Cena. The finish was well done. I thought maybe Rock would win after two successive Rock Bottoms. I think it would have been a great spot to have Cena kick out of the Rock Bottom. It was fine how they did it, though. I guess I just wanted the finish to be even more emphatic than it was. They did book a smart finish because Cena missed going for the People’s Elbow, which is not his move, so Rock capitalized with the Rock Bottom and Rock won because Cena made a mistake. It was something to build off for the next year. Going 30 minutes was longer than I thought they would go because it was Rock’s first singles match in such a long time. I think if they went around 20 minutes it would have been a better match and maybe Rock wouldn’t have been tired. My original rating for the match was ***1/2, but after watching it here ten years later I bumped it up. It’s really a fun match that’s very even the whole way and the hot crowd makes it even more enjoyable to watch.
(The thing I remember most about being there live was that the entire stadium was loud during the duration of the match. There were chants from beginning to end with “Let’s Go Cena/Cena Sucks” being the main one, but also chants for Rocky, Fruity Pebbles and Boots To Asses among others. I doubt I was the only one to notice that The Rock appeared to be winded after about ten minutes. It’s not easy to have a 30-minute match after not having a singles match in seven years. Thankfully, it appeared as though he got his wind back later in the match. I loved the finishing sequence, which isn’t a surprise because when it comes to main event matches WWE usually delivers with exciting spots. They did a lot of things right. I wasn’t a huge fan of the bearhug spot because that was too 1990ish – it made me think of Hogan/Warrior, but they really told a good story with plenty of drama. Cena showed a lot of toughness coming back from everything and Rock showed a lot of heart by holding on while Cena had him in the STF for nearly two minutes as well. Did you hear that pop for the finish? Ridiculously loud. Trust me when I tell you that it was that loud as we emptied out of the stadium that night. It was an amazing feeling to be there live for this massive match.)
The Rock had his arm raised as the winner of the match. Rock hugged referee Mike Chioda, who he had known for many years. Cena went into the aisle where he sat down on the ramp looking dejected. Rock celebrated by posing on the turnbuckles with his arm in the air. Rock went on another turnbuckle to pose as fireworks went off in the stadium. That was the end of the show.
Analysis: The fans were elated about The Rock’s win and they let him know it. A loud celebration just like the whole match was loud.
This event had a runtime of 3:51:11 on WWE Network.
(The fans were still cheering as the fireworks went off. A great ending to a night where I spent 4.5 hours sitting in my seat, but oftentimes standing as well. I also remember a lot of “yes” chants as we left the building that night.)
I’ll call the show a 7 out of 10.
The top three matches all delivered the goods. If you have a show where one match is five stars, two more matches are close to four stars and then a few others are pretty good then it’s a very successful show in my opinion. The Undertaker/Triple H match was definitely the best on the show while I liked Rock/Cena just a bit more than Punk/Jericho. The others were not at the same level as those matches. Some of the other matches could have been better and I wish they were, but it’s not like the show was hurt that much by any of them, aside from maybe Sheamus/Bryan being so quick.
1. Undertaker – He deserved a “you still got it” chant more than anybody.
2. Triple H
3. The Rock
4. John Cena
5. (tie) CM Punk/Chris Jericho
Thank you, Miami. I had a blast.
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.My contact info is below.