This is a re-post of my WrestleMania 30 review. I’m re-posting it now because ESPN is showing it tonight, so I figured I would have my review handy for you, the reader, if you’re watching it. Of course, if you have WWE Network you can watch it on-demand at any time. This review was written in 2014 and I’m going to add some updated thoughts in (blue font) as well. As a reminder, all of my WrestleMania reviews on here on TJRWrestling, so check them out whenever you want.
WWE WrestleMania XXX
April 6, 2014
From the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana
I was at the show and I wrote this recap about a week later. I’ll stick with the play by play format for most of this, but some of it is less detailed. As always, the analysis and star ratings will be there too.
We were sitting to the right of the stage on the main floor. We could see the ring pretty well and there was a video screen right above it, so it was just a matter of moving your eyes up if the action in the ring was hard to see. Nothing was blocking my view like the stupid palm trees that were present in Miami.
It was brutal trying to get to our seats. There was no organization in the Superdome. Just a mass of humanity trying to find their way to the right spot. We sat down just as the pre-show match was about to begin. I’m not going to do a full recap for the pre-show match. The remaining four hours of show is enough.
WWE Tag Team Championships: The Usos vs. Real Americans vs. Los Matadores vs. Ryback & Curtis Axel
My favorite thing about this match was that they did it elimination style. That allowed them to have more time and they ended up having a fun match. We expected to see The Usos retain the tag titles and that’s what happened. It also led to the split of the Real Americans, which also seemed like an obvious thing. As a match, I’d rate it at ***1/2 out of five. Really good choice for the pre-show although I think they deserved to be on the main card too. I get why they weren’t, but years from now people will remember the actual show rather than the match on the pre-show. It went 16:13.
Winners by pinfall: The Usos
The big angle happened after the match as Cesaro applied the Cesaro Swing to former partner Jack Swagger. Huge pop for that. The crowd was firmly behind Cesaro, but that’s no surprise.
They aired a video focusing on the party lifestyle of New Orleans as well as some images from WrestleMania history. The video also focused on the main matches as well. It was a great video like most WWE videos are.
The Superdome was loud as the pyro went off and we cheered like 75,000 fans that paid a lot of money to be there. The announcers for the show are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and John Bradshaw Layfield.
Hulk Hogan entered to a huge ovation. New Orleans loved the Hulkster. He was the host of WrestleMania 30, so it made sense for him to start it off. He welcomed us to the show, but he made a mistake as he called it the Silverdome instead of the Superdome. The Silverdome was Detroit’s old NFL stadium that was host to WrestleMania 3. He nearly said “WWF” instead of WWE when talking about the Network too. He spoke about WrestleMania 1, then said let’s fast forward to WrestleMania 30 “right here in the Silverdome” as another blunder. He’s old. It’s forgivable. There was a “Superdome” chant as Hogan got it right. Hogan spoke about how there would be WrestleMania moments.
Steve Austin’s music started and the building exploded as Stone Cold marched down to the ring in a BSR (Broken Skull Ranch) shirt. It’s been a long time since Austin was at a WrestleMania (Cole mentioned WM27), so to see him there was a huge deal. They mentioned he would be there on social media a few days before the show. Austin did his signature poses on the turnbuckles. It really was one of the loudest reactions I’ve ever witnessed live. Austin is one of my three favorite wrestlers ever (along with Michaels and Angle), so I was really marking out for him.
Austin made a crack about the Silverdome line early on. Hogan laughed about it. Austin spoke about whipping ass when he’s in the ring. Fans wanted him to open up a can of whoop ass on Hogan, but he didn’t do that. Austin mentioned all the WrestleManias that Hogan was a part of, which led the crowd in “WHAT” chants after every number and he did mention WM10 even though Hogan wasn’t a part of that one. Austin said he respected Hogan and appreciated everything he did for the business. Austin shook hands with Hogan. Austin spoke about the current regime of WWE superstars to put everything they got on the line in the ring for us. Austin: “Always remember that Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass.”
The Rock’s music started up as The Rock appeared in a “Just Bring It” shirt. Another massive ovation. The Austin appearance felt like it was bigger to me, but all three guys received huge reactions. “This is awesome” chant before Rock could even speak.
Rock said this was an amazing WrestleMania moment and did his “finally The Rock has come back to New Orleans” line and “WrestleMania” as well. He mentioned Superdome as a dig at Hogan, which Hogan laughed about. Austin was laughing in the ring. Rock said he sees his good buddy Steve Austin and his childhood hero Hulk Hogan. Rock said he sees without question the two biggest names in the history of WWE. That’s a very true statement that I agree with. Rock spoke about having the honor and privilege of having WrestleMania matches with them. Rock referenced Cena in comparison to Hogan (crowd booed) and referenced Bryan in comparison to Austin (huge “yes” chants). Rock’s next bit was about how people were having kids nine months after WrestleMania because The Rock was electrifying them. It was a bit of a reach, but he made it work. Not many could. Rock mentioned a lot of big names in WrestleMania history, then rhymed Sheamus’ name by saying if they fought the three of them they’d stick their boots right up their anus. Rock said it was “boots to asses time.”
They wrapped it up with Rock saying “if you smell what The Rock is cooking” and Austin said his “that’s the bottom line cuz Stone Cold said so” line. Hogan did his “whatcha gonna do” line and said Superdome correctly much to the delight of the crowd. Beers were thrown to Austin and the three men had a WrestleMania style beer bash. The crowd was so loud here.
Analysis: That was one of the most memorable opening segments in the history of WrestleMania or any show. Hogan, Austin and Rock are arguably the three biggest stars in WWE history at least in the WrestleMania era. If you want to go pre-WrestleMania then you can include Bruno Sammartino, who was sitting ringside. It was a brilliant way to start the show.
(This was so much fun and a great idea to start the show with three of the biggest legends in WWE history. At the time, we only knew Hogan was going to open the show, so the appearance from Austin and Rock was a surprise that led to a memorable moment. What a lot of people will remember about this is Hogan saying “Silverdome” by mistake. I just think it was a very smart way to begin the 30th WrestleMania)
While that promo was happening, they were setting up Triple H’s entrance on the stage. I tweeted about that as it happened on Sunday night and some people got mad at me for the spoiler. I didn’t really think of it as a spoiler. It was just a note of what was to come.
There was a video package about Daniel Bryan to the song “Monster” by Imagine Dragons about his rise to the top while also incorporating the feud with Triple H. Really good video. They replayed it on Raw too.
(This was one of my favorite video packages in the last decade. They did a fantastic job of telling the story. I’m not an Imagine Dragons fan, but the song was perfect for this.)
Stephanie McMahon introduced her husband Triple H. He got an elaborate entrance with a throne and headgear because he’s more important than anybody else. Just ask him. Huge reaction for Daniel Bryan as expected. Lots of “yes” signs and a stadium full of “yes” chants as well. It was incredible to look across the building and see that reaction. Bryan had his left shoulder taped up still.
(The three women with Triple H during that entrance were Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Alexa Bliss. They weren’t really known at this point, but they would become big names over the next year or two.)
Daniel Bryan vs. Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon)
The winner of this gets added to the main event. I don’t know who had that Greek flag in the crowd, but I like it. Hunter wanted a handshake. Bryan kicked him and got a rollup for two. Shoulder tackle by Hunter and then Bryan got a headlock takeover. Bryan went for his kick sequence, but Hunter slammed his leg into the mat. Bryan hit a dropkick that sent Hunter outside the ring and then a Tornado DDT off the apron by Bryan. Bryan went up top and hit a flipping dive onto Triple H although Bryan crashed on the floor pretty hard. Stephanie: “You’re B+ at best.” That’s trash talk apparently. Bryan got tripped up while he was on the top rope and Hunter hit a forearm shot to send Bryan to the floor. They fought around the announce table, which led to Hunter slamming Bryan’s left arm into the table. Back in the ring, Hunter focused on the injured arm of Bryan. Bryan ducked by the ropes and Hunter went over the top to the floor. Bryan wanted the Flying Goat dive outside the ring, but Hunter nailed him with a forearm shot to the face. Hunter continued to wear him down by using a Crossface until Bryan got to the ropes to break it. Slow pace continued as Hunter worked on the left arm of Bryan. They exchanged punches, which led to Bryan hitting a forearm shot to the face. Bryan hit a German suplex for two. He hit another one for two. Hunter hooked Bryan’s arms and gave him a Tiger Suplex. You don’t see Hunter use that move very often. That earned Hunter a two count.
They battled on the turnbuckle, which led to Bryan hitting a sunset flip into a Powerbomb. Both guys were down. Running corner dropkick by Bryan two times, but Hunter countered the third one with a huge clothesline. Stephanie was celebrating at ringside. Bryan countered a Pedigree for a two count and then hit a kick to the head as the crowd went wild with “yes” chants. Bryan went up top for the headbutt, but Hunter countered by getting his knee up. Another Crossface by Hunter that Bryan countered by rolling into a pinfall. Bryan applied the Yes Lock. Hunter was able to get to the ropes and he went to the floor. Bryan hit the Flying Goat dive outside the ring. Then he hit it again. Crowd was on fire for him. Missile dropkick in the ring by Bryan. There was a HBK-like kip up by Bryan followed by kicks to the chest and the roundhouse kick for the two count. Bryan went for the running knee, but Hunter countered into a Spinebuster. Pedigree by Hunter. One…two…no! Bryan kicked out. Tremendous nearfall right there. Best of the match. Hunter didn’t know what to do to finish him, so Bryan was able to sneak in an inside cradle for two. Hunter came back and wanted a Pedigree, but Bryan countered with a back body drop. Hunter hit knees to the head to wear Bryan down some more. Bryan slipped out of a Pedigree attempt with a kick to the face. Hunter wanted a suplex, Bryan got out of that and fired back with a running knee to the face (the Knee Plus?) and he covered for the one…two…three! Bryan wins! Huge pop for the pinfall win by Bryan. The match went 25:58.
Winner by pinfall: Daniel Bryan
Analysis: ****1/4 We all expected Bryan to win and that’s what happened, but they sure made it close. That’s what I loved about it. There was so much drama in this match. It could have headlined a WrestleMania yet here it was in the opening match. What a way to start WrestleMania. They had a really long match, which is why Hunter was able to work on him at a slow pace and then it really picked up towards the end. Hunter’s offense was perfect. Bryan’s tremendous at selling. That’s why there was chemistry between them even though they hadn’t wrestled before. They know what they’re doing out there. My initial reaction was that Hunter would kick out of that running knee before getting pinned by another one, but I have no problem with it as the finish. It was an outstanding wrestling match that will be remembered as one of the best openers in WWE PPV history. It’s not at the level of Owen vs. Bret at WM10, but it was still awesome.
(I remember people saying it shouldn’t count as an opening match because it took place about 30 minutes after the opening segment. I still think it counts as an opening match. They went really long in the match too, which is typical for a Triple H match at WrestleMania.)
Post match, Cole called it an upset. I don’t really like that although I understand why they would say it. JBL called Bryan a “garden creature” as he complained about it. Stephanie slapped Bryan in the face a few times. Hunter took him down from behind. He placed Bryan’s arm against the post and hit it with a steel chair.
Analysis: They did that to get more heat on Hunter and make Bryan even more of a sympathetic figure going into the main event. Smart booking move even if it was a bit predictable.
The New Age Outlaws made their entrance, but they didn’t do the whole thing because The Shield’s music cut them off. Kane came out last. Weird order.
(Dean Ambrose was the US Champion that rarely defended the title at this point.)
Kane, Road Dogg & Billy Gunn vs. The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins & Roman Reigns)
Reigns was on fire early on as he took care of all three heels. Reigns hit his running dropkick outside the ring on Gunn and Dogg at the same time. Superman Punch by Reigns on Dogg. Kane saved Billy, but then Rollins hit Kane with a flying knee off the top rope. Reigns hit a somersault dive over the top to take out Kane. Ambrose took down Gunn. Ambrose threw Dogg into the barricade outside the ring. In the ring, Reigns hit a Superman Punch on Gunn. Ambrose and Rollins hit dives outside the ring to take down Gunn as well as Road Dogg. Kane tried to go after Reigns, but he was met with a Spear by Reigns. Reigns hit a double Spear on Gunn and Road Dogg. They did the Three Man Powerbomb (with Reigns delivering the power of course) to Dogg and Gunn at the same time. Rollins covered Gunn for the win at 2:56.
Winners by pinfall: The Shield
Analysis: * A short match done to make The Shield look dominant. If it went 10-15 minutes it would have been better, but going short proves a point. There are stories that maybe it was cut short due to a timing issue too. Either way, I have no problem with the length of it. The Shield didn’t play a major role at this show, but their future is very bright as a group and the same can be said about their individual careers as well.
(It’s not a bad thing that it was short since Dogg and Gunn were well past their prime at this point. It also put over The Shield in a big way. The Shield breakup took place about two months after this.)
Backstage, Jim Duggan and Sgt. Slaughter were playing Slam City with referee Danny Davis. Ricky Steamboat showed up. A techie showed up to say that it belonged to somebody else. Cue Ted Dibiase to say that everybody had a price. Ron Simmons showed up to deliver his “DAMN” line. Always good to see Ron.
Analysis: Good way to involve some legends in the show by plugging the Slam City game at the same time.
While that was going on, the ring was filling up with participants in the battle royal match. The only individual entrances belonged to Big Show and Sheamus. My original pick was Sheamus. I was wrong.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Congrats to Yoshi Tatsu for being the first one eliminated. Raw GM Brad Maddox was eliminated next. Lawler mentioned Show, Khali and Henry as favorites. Then Khali got dumped out by a lot of people. Brodus Clay, the self-proclaimed “main event playa” was also eliminated. Poor Zack Ryder was eliminated by 3MB. No idea why Ziggler was wrestling with a shirt on. Young was next to go followed by all three 3MB guys: McIntyre, Mahal and Slater all by Mark Henry. Show capitalized on that to eliminate Henry. Big Show sent out O’Neil next. The Miz was eliminated by Santino using the Cobra. Yes, the same Miz that main evented WrestleMania three years ago. Santino was eliminated by Del Rio. Sandow was next to go from his old buddy Rhodes. Gabriel dumped by Big E, then Otunga was too. Both of those guys haven’t been used much of late. Fandango eliminated Big E and then Fandango danced to celebrate. Sheamus eliminated Fandango after 20+ clubbing blows. Truth got dumped out by Show. A favorite of mine Tyson Kidd went up top, but Del Rio kicked him in the head to knock him out. Del Rio knocked Goldust out and then Cody too. Mysterio went for 619 on Cesaro, but Cesaro blocked it and a huge uppercut on a springboard attempt sent Mysterio out of the match. Huge uppercut by Cesaro on Ziggler. Cesaro sent Kingston out, but Kingston’s feet touched the steel steps. His feet didn’t hit the floor so he went back into the ring. Kingston was on fire until Cesaro slowed him down by giving him the Cesaro Swing. Show hit Chokeslam on Cesaro, then Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on Show. Brogue Kick by Sheamus on Kingston to send him out. Ziggler got some offense in, but Del Rio kicked him in the head to send him packing. Ziggler always seems to have issues with Del Rio.
Final four: Sheamus, Del Rio, Show and Cesaro. Sheamus went at it with Del Rio. Sheamus had him on his shoulders and then they both went tumbling out. Cesaro faced off with Show. Clotheslines by Cesaro. Show tossed him, but Cesaro held on. Huge chop by Show knocked him down. Show wanted a body slam, but Cesaro slipped out and hit an uppercut. Cesaro picked up Show on his shoulders and the crowd went nuts! He slammed Big Show over the top to the floor to eliminate him at 13:25. The fans popped for the Cesaro win.
Here’s a listing of the 31 guys that were in the match in the order that they were eliminated: Yoshi Tatsu, Brad Maddox, Brodus Clay, Great Khali, Zack Ryder, Darren Young, Drew McIntyre, Jinder Mahal, Heath Slater, Mark Henry, Titus O’Neil, The Miz, Santino, Xavier Woods, Damien Sandow, Justin Gabriel, David Otunga, Big E, Fandango, R-Truth, Sin Cara, Tyson Kidd, Goldust, Cody Rhodes, Rey Mysterio, Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Big Show and the winner of the match: Cesaro.
After the win, Big Show shook Cesaro’s hands. They also gave Cesaro the trophy.
Analysis: *** The booking was smart and I’m so glad that Cesaro won. They got rid of the lesser names, the final four had a lot of star power and the eliminations were creative. Sometimes battle royals are boring. This one wasn’t. The final spot with Cesaro giving Big Show a body slam over the top rope was very cool too.
(The pop for Cesaro was massive. I remember it well because we were so ready to see him get a significant singles push. It didn’t really happen, but at this time we thought it was a possibility.)
They aired the Cena/Wyatt video package to the tune of “Legacy” by Eminem.
“New Orleans – we’re here.” The Wyatt Family made their entrance as Mark Crozier and his band performed a live version of Wyatt’s theme song. It was cool to experience that live. I just remember clapping along with the beat. Everybody was so into it.
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt (w/Luke Harper & Erick Rowan)
Wyatt was in control early with a running body attack and he slowed it down thanks to a hard whip into the turnbuckle. Cena decked him with an explosive clothesline. Harper and Rowan were causing distractions outside the ring as Cena was grabbing at his own head while struggling to deal with the madness. Wyatt was laughing. Cena was making his angry face as he did a boot to the face, which is not something he usually does. Wyatt hit a suplex on Cena to regain control. Dropkick by Cena. The pace was really slow and the crowd didn’t know how to react at this point. Wyatt applied a chinlock. Cena came back with the shoulder tackles as well as the spinning suplex. Cena went for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Wyatt popped up in his crab walking pose. Cena paused. Rowan distracted him for a second, so Wyatt came back with a uranage slam. Wyatt hit a running splash in the corner. Cena came back with a DDT off the middle ropes for two. Cena went up top, but Wyatt caught him and planted him with a Powerbomb. Both guys were down. Cena hit his spinning suplex and then a shortened version of the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Wyatt came back with a modified gutbuster. Cena wanted the AA again, but Wyatt gave him a face first DDT on the apron for two. Wyatt set up Cena on the top rope and Cena knocked him down. Cena was on the top rope looking like he would leap onto Wyatt, but instead Cena took out Harper & Rowan with a cross body block off the top. Good spot. Wyatt capitalized on that by throwing Cena into the steel steps. Cena came back by throwing Wyatt into the steel post or at least he sent Bray’s shoulder into it. Cena was going to use the steps, but then he thought better of it. So Cena can’t hit the guy with steps even though he threw him into the post? Alrighty then.
They went back into the ring and Wyatt hit Cena with a running cross body block. Wyatt rubbed Cena’s head and started singing “he’s got the whole world in his hands.” Wyatt missed a splash on the mat and Cena came back with Attitude Adjust for just two. Rowan distracted the ref, so Harper hit Cena with a kick to the face. Wyatt got a body splash for two. Cena got dumped to the floor. Cena took matters into his own hands by tackling Harper through the barricade by the timekeeper. Wyatt attacked Cena on the floor and brought him back into the ring. Back in the ring, Wyatt did his upside down corner pose and wanted Sister Abigail, but Cena countered into the STF. Wyatt made it to the ropes. Wyatt hit Sister Abigail. Cena kicked out at two so both guys kicked out of finishers. Wyatt brought a chair into the ring. He kicked the chair to Cena. Wyatt wanted Cena to use it. Cena ended up hitting Rowan when he jumped on the apron. Wyatt got a rollup nearfall off the distraction. Cena powered out of Sister Abigail and hit the Attitude Adjustment. Cena covered for the pinfall win at 22:25.
Winner by pinfall: John Cena
Analysis: ***1/4 This was a long match, but that doesn’t always mean a great one. It was still above average and told a good story. Perhaps if they cut off about 7 minutes it would have helped it. I did like the story they were trying to tell. I also appreciated it more when I watched the TV broadcast of it. Watching it live it didn’t seem as good to me. The Cena win upset a lot of people, but when you consider some of the other match outcomes I think they wanted a strong babyface win for Cena. Based on the story of the match, Wyatt cost Cena the WWE Title twice. It makes sense for Cena, the babyface, to win this match to get his revenge. However, Wyatt’s the younger guy that could have really benefited from a win here. I can see the decision from both sides. Cena winning doesn’t bother me, though.
(Looking back on it now, I remember a lot of people being mad that Wyatt didn’t win. As I said at the time, from a storyline point of view, Cena’s win did make sense since Wyatt cost him the WWE Title on multiple occasions. If it was up to me, Wyatt would have won because winning at WrestleMania means more than winning at any other show, but I understand WWE’s decision too.)
They aired clips from the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. It’s so surreal to see Warrior’s speech from that night knowing that he would pass away just a few days later.
The Hall of Fame class of 2014 stood on the stage: Jake Roberts, Mr. T, Paul Bearer (represented by his sons Michael & Daniel), Carlos Colon, Lita, Razor Ramon and finally The Ultimate Warrior. It’s great to see them all on the stage together like that. Warrior pointed at the fans and a couple of times he was seen putting his hand to his heart. Whether he did that because he was in pain or he was just saying he loved us we will never know.
Daniel Bryan was shown having his shoulder taped up backstage in preparation for the main event.
There was a video package about The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak as well as his feud with Brock Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar entered first. The Undertaker entered as the stage was filled with caskets (and numbers) commemorating all his victories. There were 21 with Lesnar’s name on the one with 22 on it. Undertaker’s entrance took about 7:18 from the time he first appeared on the stage to when he took his hat off in the ring.
(Sometimes I mention how long Undertaker’s entrance takes and people get mad at me. It’s not being disrespectful. I’m just sharing facts.)
The Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman)
Lesnar hit an overhead belly to belly and then a clothesline that sent Undertaker over the top to the floor. Undertaker came back by tossing Lesnar into the steel post and then when they were outside the ring they did it again. Lawler mentioned Undertaker tearing apart his WrestleMania opponents over the years. Not at WrestleMania 9 when he lost by DQ to Giant Gonzalez. I wish I could forget that awful match. Back in the ring, Lesnar hit the post with his shoulder after Undertaker moved. Undertaker hit one of his signature spots as he dropped the leg across the throat of Lesnar as it was on the apron. Undertaker wanted a Chokeslam, but Lesnar fought out of it and Undertaker got out of the F5 by shoving Lesnar into the turnbuckle. Undertaker missed a big boot and Lesnar worked over the leg by ramming it into the post. They went at it on the floor. Lesnar picked him up by the leg and slammed him down hard. Undertaker had a concussion in the match. It could have been that spot because his back landed hard on the mat outside the ring.
Lesnar was in control in the ring. It went outside the ring again with Lesnar continuing to dominate. Back in the ring, Lesnar hit a suplex. Lesnar unleashed on Undertaker with a series of punches to the ribs as the announcers used serious voices to talk about how Undertaker didn’t look great. Undertaker came back with a DDT, which drew a nice ovation. Corner clothesline by Undertaker, then the Snake Eyes and the big boot to the face followed by the leg drop for two. Chokeslam by Undertaker got two for a believable nearfall. Lesnar came back from that with a F5 for two. Undertaker went for the Hell’s Gate submission move, but Lesnar powered out of it by slamming him down. Undertaker applied Hell’s Gate again in the center of the ring. Cole wondered if Lesnar would be the 22nd victim even though Triple H lost three times and Michaels did twice. Lesnar powered out of it again.
Both guys were down. Lesnar applied the Kimura Lock on the left arm of Undertaker. That didn’t work because Undertaker applied a Kimura Lock of his own. Lesnar got to the ropes to break the hold in this battle of the men in the MMA gloves. Boot to the face by Undertaker. Undertaker went to the top rope for the Old School clothesline, but Lesnar countered it, put him on his shoulders and hit his second F5. Undertaker kicked out for the best nearfall of the match. That was a very impressive feat of strength by Lesnar. Two German Suplexes by Lesnar. There was a hush in the crowd until an “Undertaker” chant started up. Heyman gave Lesnar a pep talk. Lesnar punched Taker in the corner, which led to the predictable Powerbomb out of the corner spot that Undertaker does all the time. Undertaker followed up with a Tombstone. It didn’t look great. Obviously you don’t want the guy’s head to hit the mat, but Lesnar’s head wasn’t even close to hitting. Lesnar kicked out at two. Most people thought that was it. Heyman had this shocked look on his face. Undertaker wanted the Tombstone again, but Lesnar rolled through it and put Undertaker on his shoulders. Another F5 by Lesnar led to the one…two…three. The Streak is over. The match went 25:12. “Ladies and gentlemen, the winner of this match…Brock Lesnar.” – Ring announcer Justin Roberts.
Winner by pinfall: Brock Lesnar
It’s weird just writing that. I didn’t expect it. Neither did the crowd. They showed reactions of fans at ringside, many of whom had shocked looks on their faces. Some of them were pretty classic. There was a hush in the arena due to the unexpected finish. It was silence for that reason. Paul Heyman’s reaction was amazing. What was interesting is that WWE didn’t play Lesnar’s music right away. They did have the 21-1 graphic ready, but they didn’t play Lesnar’s music immediately like they do when other people win matches. Lesnar and Heyman walked up the ramp celebrating the win while Undertaker took his time getting back to his feet.
(I’ll never forget the reaction to this match for as long as I live. There as just this hush over the crowd as if we were all wondering if it really happened. People expected Undertaker to kick out at the end and when he didn’t, it was surprising to us. I picked Undertaker to win at WrestleMania just like every match at WM before this.)
Analysis: ** The match was disappointing. No other way to say it. Part of the reason was because The Undertaker’s nearly 50 years old and at some point you just can’t have those great matches anymore. He did an amazing job throughout his 40s, but age catches up to everybody. He was also concussed at some point in the match too. When your mind isn’t right for the entire match it’s going to affect the quality. There was also an issue of the way the match was structured. It was too slow. They did a few too many of the same Undertaker spots. Due to that, the fans weren’t into it as much. Lesnar having to use three F5’s was a smart way to end it because it just showed how hard it was to beat Undertaker on this stage. It made Lesnar look like a huge deal.
Even though it wasn’t a great match, it was unforgettable because of what happened. I’ll never forget looking over to my buddies Nick, Pete and Kevin and wondering if we were watching the same thing. It was shocking. I didn’t believe Undertaker would lose. Neither did most people. The decision to end The Streak was very controversial, but if this is it for Undertaker then I can absolutely understand it. That’s one of those things in wrestling that is common in the sense that people usually lose their last match. Put somebody over on the way out. Guys like Steve Austin, Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels did it. I’m okay with the decision to end The Streak although I understand those that are mad about it too. It’s a shame that Lesnar isn’t a full timer because if he was they could really use this in a storyline.
(This match was definitely not the end for Undertaker. It’s six years later and he’s still going to wrestle this year at 55 years old. As for the match quality, it was hurt by the fact that Undertaker was legitimately knocked out with a concussion, so he didn’t feel well out there. I think going 25 minutes was a mistake. It would have been better if it was 10 minutes shorter and more of a high impact match.)
As Undertaker got back to his feet, the crowd did a huge “Undertaker” chant while the announcers spoke quietly about The Streak ending. All the commentators stood up and applauded Undertaker just as the crowd did. It was a standing ovation from 75,000+ people as the 21-1 graphic appeared on the screen. Undertaker made that long walk up the ramp as the audience continued to applaud him. Being there in person was an honor, but it was also sad to witness the end of The Streak.
(I think there were a lot of people that legitimately thought this was Undertaker’s last match. It was also a surreal thing to realize we were in the crowd to see his first WrestleMania loss after WWE built up the streak so well over two decades.)
There was an ad for WrestleMania 31 in Silicon Valley, California (Santa Clara) on March 25, 2015. Right now I don’t plan on going to that one. That could change.
(I did not go to WM31. I went the next year to WM32.)
Divas Title: Vickie Guerrero Invitational Battle Royal
There were 14 divas in this match: Champion AJ Lee, Aksana, Alicia Fox, Brie Bella, Cameron, Emma, Eva Marie, Layla, Naomi, Natalya, Nikki Bella, Rosa Mendes, Summer Rae and Tamina Snuka.
(Only three women in this match are still in WWE – Natalya, Naomi and Tamina Snuka, who is barely around.)
Good luck following the match that was on before it. I really didn’t care for it live and watching it again I barely remember seeing this. Natalya teased doing a Sharpshooter on three girls at once, but Eva Marie tried a rollup. They did a spot with several of them hit a suplex. The announcers kept talking Undertaker’s streak. Axe Kick by Alicia on Emma, Layla kicked Alicia, Aksana Spinebuster on Layla, Natalya clothesline on Aksana, Rosa sidewalk slam on Natalya, Naomi with Rear View on Rosa and then Tamina nailed Naomi with a standing side kick. Eva Marie shoved down Tamina, then went to the floor and Brie took down Tamina with a dropkick. Dropkick by Bellas on AJ. The Bellas each hit Daniel Bryan-like dives between top/middle rope to take out the other girls. Good spot. Nikki faced off with Brie, which led to Nikki hitting her Rack Attack move. Layla and Alicia broke it up. Natalya had a nice offensive flurry, but Tamina came back with a Samoan Drop on her. Naomi knocked Tamina off the top. Naomi went up there, Aksana followed and Natalya hit a Powerbomb on Aksana while there was also a suplex in what’s known as the Tower of Doom spot. AJ dropkicked Natalya. AJ applied the Black Widow submission on Naomi and that was it at 6:48. It looked like AJ was tapping Naomi’s hand for her.
Winner by submission: AJ Lee
Post match, AJ was handed her title by an angry Vickie Guerrero.
Analysis: * They tried hard, but the format of the match made it difficult. At least they had a few memorable spots. As we saw on Raw, AJ’s title reign didn’t last much longer. Next time WWE wants to book 14 women in a one fall match they should realize it’s a bad decision.
(This was when WWE didn’t really care about the women/divas that much. That would change about a year and a half later and then two years later the Women’s Evolution really got going when they changed the Divas Title to the Women’s Title.)
Backstage, Mean Gene Okerlund interviewed Hulk Hogan. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff showed up. Piper said Hogan was doing a great job hosting the show. What did Hogan even do? He was on one segment. They all talked about WrestleMania 1 when Mr. T showed up. The ref of that match was Pat Patterson. He told them to calm down. Hogan said it was time to bury the hatchet. They all shook hands.
Analysis: That was a fun moment of nostalgia. I’m surprised there weren’t more backstage segments featuring legends.
(Since this show we have lost Piper and Okerlund.)
They showed Hall of Famers at ringside: Bruno Sammartino, Harley Race, Bob Backlund (looking crazy), Dusty Rhodes and Bret Hart. Biggest ovation was for Bret.
(Since this show we have lost Sammartino, Rhodes and Race. May they all rest in peace.)
Randy Orton made his entrance for the main event. The band Rev Theory was there to sing Orton’s song live. It’s nice that there were two live bands during the show. Batista was up next. Daniel Bryan was last to a huge ovation for his second match of the night.
(The expectation was that Daniel Bryan would win here. If he didn’t, it really would have pissed off the fans.)
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan
No countouts or DQ’s in triple threat matches. Bryan was in control early as he hit a hurricanrana on Batista to send him outside the ring. Orton went right after Bryan’s injured left arm. Backbreaker by Orton on Batista and then he knocked Bryan off the apron. Batista clothesline sent Orton over the top to the floor. Batista slammed Orton into an announce table and then the barricade at ringside. Batista sent Orton into the steps too. Orton gave Batista a back body drop onto steel steps to counter a Batista Bomb attempt. Orton drove Bryan back first into the barricade and did the same to Batista. Back in the ring, Orton worked over Batista until Bryan came back out of nowhere with a missile dropkick to knock both guys down. Bryan unleashed a series of kicks on both guys that ended with a kick to the head of Batista. Orton hit an overhead suplex on Bryan for two. Spinebuster by Batista for two. Bryan hit running dropkicks on both guys as they were standing in opposite corners. Top rope hurricanrana by Bryan on Orton for two. Batista suplexed Bryan out of the ring. Orton with a superplex on Batista. Bryan hit a headbutt off the top rope on Orton.
Triple H and Stephanie ran down to the ring. Hunter pulled the referee out of the ring to break up that submission win. Batista with a Spinebuster on Bryan. Referee Scott Armstrong showed up. Batista Bomb connected and that was good enough for two as Bryan kicked out. Even though Armstrong is supposed to be the crooked ref, he didn’t do a fast count. Bryan ended up kicking Armstrong in the head. Hunter and Steph checked on Scott, so Bryan hit a dive outside the ring on all three of them. Even Stephanie was down. Hunter was pissed off as he grabbed a sledgehammer. Bryan knocked it out of his hands and nailed Triple H in the head with the sledgehammer. Rollup by Bryan on Batista for two as Orton saved. Orton aggressively went after Bryan outside the ring by ramming him into the barricade. Batista hit a clothesline on Bryan as they beat him up outside the ring. Hunter and Stephanie were shown walking to the back with some assistance. Orton nailed Bryan with the steel steps. Batista and Orton cleared off the announce tables as they set Bryan up for a big spot. Batista nailed Bryan with one of the monitors. Batista stood on the announce table as the crowd chanted “CM Punk” because they wanted him to make the save. Batista hit the Batista Bomb and Orton caught Bryan and delivered a neckbreaker through the table. Cole called it an RKO, but really it was a neckbreaker. “Holy Shit” chant for that. There was also a monitor that was on the other side of the table that Orton’s back hit. Orton ended up with a cut on his back. Huge spot. Dangerous bump by Bryan and Orton was hurt from it too. Since we don’t see table bumps that often anymore it really was a big deal and they treated it as such.
Batista gave Orton a clothesline outside the ring. Bryan was being tended to by doctors, who were putting him on a stretcher. Batista threw Orton into the steel ring post and the barricade. Fans were chanting “Daniel Bryan” as he was getting carted away on a stretcher. Orton came back on Batista and hit a DDT off the ring apron onto the floor. Bryan shoved the doctors away. He was back in the match. Orton sent Bryan into the steps. Orton stalled for a while, so Bryan came back with the Yes Lock on Orton only for Batista to make the save. Bryan applied the Yes Lock on Batista, which led to Orton saving. Batista shoved Orton away during an RKO attempt. Batista went for a Spear, Orton jumped and Batista nailed Bryan. RKO by Orton on Batista for two. Great sequence into that believable nearfall. Orton set up for the punt, but Bryan entered the ring and hit the running knee to the face on Orton. Batista tossed Bryan out of the ring and covered Orton for a two count. “This is awesome” chant from the crowd. Batista Bomb on Orton. Bryan hit the running knee on Batista. That knocked him down. Bryan capitalized on that by applying the Yes Lock on Batista. Suddenly the loud cheers reached an all-time high point. Batista tried to fight it, but Bryan’s Yes Lock was too strong and Batista tapped out! What a reaction! Wow! Bryan did it. The match went 23:20.
Winner by submission AND New WWE World Heavyweight Champion: Daniel Bryan
Over 70,000 people were cheering in unison as Bryan led them in “yes” chants with both World Titles in his hands.
Analysis: ****1/2 What a match. One of the best this year. It wasn’t perfect, but it was very close to that. It was everything that it should have been. Some fans might complain about the overbooking with Triple H getting involved as well as Scott Armstrong, but I don’t think it hurt it at all. If anything, that’s part of the storyline continuity. They both played parts in screwing him out of the WWE Title, so it made sense that Bryan would get his revenge on them. A lot of people criticized Batista in the past couple of months about not looking like he was in shape, but I thought he did an awesome job here. His timing was very good for every spot. His power was evident throughout. It was a big match situation where he stepped up. Orton was also terrific in terms of playing his role right. I’m a bit surprised that Orton didn’t tap out to Bryan, but either guy doing it produced the same result so that’s fine. As for Bryan, he was the unquestioned star of the match. Despite a grueling match earlier in the show and selling a shoulder injury, he was as good as ever. The fans loved him for it too. When he won, the ovation was as loud as anything I’ve ever been a part of.
(I don’t have much to add to the match in terms of new comments. I agree with my rating and what I wrote six years ago. I think Bryan beating Orton would have been better since Randy was the champion, but as I said it didn’t really matter in terms of leading to the title change. The pop for Bryan’s win was huge.)
During the celebration, Bryan brought in his niece and sister to join him. Then he continued with the WWE and World Titles in his hands.
There was confetti. There was pyro. There were so many “yes” chants. It was such an incredible sight to be in that building and witness 70,000+ people doing the “yes” in unison. People didn’t leave. We were high-fiving with strangers and celebrating the fact that a deserving guy won and most importantly that WWE booked it in the right way too. Bryan’s sister and niece went into the ring to celebrate with him. The show ended with Bryan holding both titles looking like the champion that he is.
Analysis: I’ll never forget looking across the Superdome and watching nearly everybody doing the “yes” in support of this man. It was such a cool moment to be a part of.
(That is probably my favorite moment at a live wrestling show after going to many shows over the last 30 years. I thought it was a spectacular moment.)
This event had a run time of 3:53:37 on WWE Network.
Five Stars of the Show
- Daniel Bryan – Two incredible matches on the same show. Not many people could do that. He did it on the biggest stage of them all.
- Triple H
- Randy Orton
- The Undertaker – Out of respect for The Streak he goes here. Not a great match, but if that was the end of his career then he deserves recognition in this space.
I’m giving it 8.5 out of 10. There were two excellent matches featuring Daniel Bryan, the Wyatt/Cena match was very good as the third best match, the battle royal was fun with Cesaro winning and the opening segment of the show with Hogan/Austin/Rock was very memorable too.
(Bryan having two matches over four stars on the same show where he worked nearly one hour is incredibly impressive. I hate that he got hurt soon after this, but it was quite the showing for him at WM30.)
The ending of The Undertaker’s Streak is also something that makes this an unforgettable show. Some people may not like it, but I can understand why WWE did it.
I loved being at this show. I had a great time. I think anybody that was there would agree that it was a very memorable event that was worth what I paid to be there.
Simply put, this was one of the best WrestleManias in WWE history.
You can check out all of my WrestleMania Reviews here.
John Canton [email protected]