The WrestleMania main event from two years ago was one of the most memorable matches of the last few years. Let’s go back to WrestleMania 31 for a shocking title change as well as the night the phrase “suplex city, bitch” was born.
If you’ve missed anything in the countdown so far, the WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches archives are here.
Who: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (vs. Seth Rollins) for the WWE Championship @ WrestleMania 31
When: March 29, 2015
Where: Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California
Brock Lesnar received a monster push starting one year before this when he beat The Undertaker at WrestleMania 30 to end his legendary streak to become the one in 21-1 as Paul Heyman mentioned many times over the next year. Lesnar went on to beat John Cena to become the WWE Champion at SummerSlam 2014 in dominating fashion.
Reigns became a breakout star in the summer of 2014 when Seth Rollins turned on him and Dean Ambrose to put an end to their memorable group, The Shield. Following the turn by Rollins, Reigns basically went through everybody in his path.
Lesnar didn’t wrestle much as the WWE Champion. A lot of fans hated that, but he was on a part time schedule, so he only defended the title twice on television before WrestleMania. Lesnar had a fantastic match at the 2015 Royal Rumble when he beat John Cena and Seth Rollins. It was my WWE Match of the Year in 2015.
Reigns went on to win the 2015 Royal Rumble, which was an obvious outcome, while getting booed by the crowd in Philadelphia that wasn’t thrilled about the monster push he was receiving.
On the road to WrestleMania, the story was about Reigns proving that he belonged at the main event level while Lesnar was confident that he would retain the title. There was also that stupid visual where Lesnar and Reigns played tug-o-war with the title as if they were children fighting over a teddy bear. Let’s not dwell on that too much.
What I Thought Back Then
I was excited about the match because of how good Lesnar’s performance was at the Royal Rumble. Reigns was still at a point in his career where he had to prove how good he can be in a big match setting. We had seen him have some pretty good matches with veterans like Randy Orton, but there wasn’t a breakout match for Reigns before this.
Like most people, I thought Roman Reigns would leave the show as the WWE Champion. Everybody could tell that he was the “chosen one” from Vince McMahon as his next John Cena, so to speak. It made sense in the storyline even though a lot of fans were not enamored with him as the top guy. It’s two years later and they still aren’t huge fans of the guy.
The feeling was that Lesnar got through The Undertaker one year earlier and he beat John Cena easily, so Lesnar was built up as strong as anybody in WWE history. It made sense to elevate Reigns. However, as we know in WWE plans can always change.
Here’s my full review of the match plus the analysis, which was written live in 2015.
There was a long video package for Brock Lesnar’s WWE Title defense against Roman Reigns.
Roman Reigns made his entrance by walking in through the crowd like he usually does. It was a long walk because it’s a huge stadium. Reigns punched the mat and fireworks went off in the stadium. There was a mix of cheers and boos.
Brock Lesnar’s entrance was met with cheers from the fans. Paul Heyman was with him of course. Lesnar looked to be in great shape like usual. There seemed to be a delay on his pyro because it didn’t go off when he did his signature pose. There was more pyro when he jumped on the apron. Paul Heyman did the big introduction for Lesnar to a big reaction from the crowd.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns
Reigns got a shot in on Lesnar and Brock had a cut by his cheek. Lesnar hit a German Suplex followed by a F5. No cover from Lesnar. He hit an overhead suplex on Lesnar. Reigns came back with clotheslines, but Lesnar moved and hit a German Suplex. Reigns was smiling and Lesnar nailed him with a hard back suplex. “Suplex city, bitch” says Lesnar. As I was typing that, Lesnar hit another German Suplex. After a few kicks, Lesnar with another German Suplex. Lesnar put Reigns onto the top rope and then hit him with a series of knees to the face. A forearm smash by Lesnar sent Reigns into the barricade at ringside. Reigns was able to stun Lesnar with a knee, then Lesnar crushed him with a clothesline. Wow! What a beast. Lesnar hit a vertical suplex. Lesnar had some blood around his mouth. Reigns was on the apron, so Lesnar gave him an overhead suplex as the crowd chanted “eight” for what was Lesnar’s 8th suplex variation of the match. Lesnar hit the F5. Cole talked like it was over, so of course Reigns kicked out. Fans booed at Reigns kicking out.
Lesnar took off his gloves and slapped Reigns hard in the face. They replayed the hard slap as Lesnar pounded on him some more. There’s a German Suplex by Lesnar and then another one, which is the 10th Lesnar suplex of the match. Lesnar hit his third F5 and Reigns kicked out again. Reigns shoved Lesnar into the ring post and Lesnar is bleeding. It looks like a legit cut because WWE banned blading years ago. Reigns connected with a Superman Punch. Lesnar didn’t even go down. Lesnar hit another Superman Punch and Lesnar was against the ropes. Lesnar moved out of the way of another punch, but Reigns was able to connect on another attempt. There’s a Spear by Reigns. He went back to the corner. Reigns hit a second Spear. Lesnar kicked out. Reigns went for another Superman Punch. Lesnar caught him. Lesnar hit the F5 on Reigns. Lesnar was too tired to cover. Both guys were out.
Here comes Seth Rollins! Money in the Bank cash-in. It’s officially been cashed-in and it’s now a triple threat match. The crowd was going wild for this.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins
Rollins kicked Reigns out of the ring. Rollins hits the Curb Stomp on Lesnar. With Reigns still outside the ring, Rollins went for another Curb Stomp on Lesnar. Lesnar caught him. Reigns hit a Spear on Lesnar. Rollins hit a Curb Stomp on Reigns and he covered for the one…two…and three! Seth Rollins is the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion! Wow! What a moment! It went about 17 minutes.
Winner by pinfall and New World Heavyweight Champion: Seth Rollins
Analysis: ****1/4 Outstanding match with an ending unlike anything we have ever seen before especially at a WrestleMania. That ending was absolutely phenomenal. I didn’t predict the Rollins cash-in, but know a lot of people that did. Give WWE credit for pulling it off perfectly. Rollins was booked like a smart guy that was out there taking advantage of two guys who put their bodies on the line and he was able to find a way to get the win. That final ten minute sequence was amazing. Reigns did a fantastic job with his comeback making it look like he was going to win and then Rollins was able to steal it from him. The match may be forgotten a bit because of the moment, but give credit to Lesnar and Reigns for having a hell of a match.
Rollins posed with the WWE Title at the top of the ramp as the fireworks went off. First time a Money in the Bank cash-in in WrestleMania history. Awesome finish. The crowd was cheering for Rollins in part because they like him, but also because they got to witness a huge moment like that. Lesnar and Reigns were shown at ringside in a lot of pain while Rollins celebrated with fireworks going off above him. The show went off the air right at 11pmET.
Analysis: I’m genuinely happy for Rollins. He was the best performer in WWE in my eyes last year and now he’s rewarded for it. They gave us one of those WrestleMania Moments they always talk about with him cashing in the briefcase like that. It’s never happened at a WrestleMania before, so that’s awesome to see.
What a fantastic ending to WrestleMania. It doesn’t get much better than that. Awesome job WWE.
You can read my full recap of WrestleMania 31 right here.
What They Said
Here’s what Seth Rollins said at a Philly Comic Con in June 2016 about his title win at WrestleMania 31. He mentioned how the Philly fans hating Roman Reigns so much at Royal Rumble 2015 likely played a big part in his title win.
“I kind of saw the writing on the wall, actually, a few months before the Royal Rumble in Philly. Maybe like a month or two ahead of time, I had a feeling the way this wonderful city would respond to Roman Reigns during the Royal Rumble. I had a feeling that would carry over to WrestleMania. I knew how I was gonna perform in the Triple Threat match with John Cena and Brock Lesnar. And I just felt like I was gonna have a lot of momentum, and I also felt looking at the landscape moving forward that the most opportune time would be at the end of WrestleMania. And so, ya know, I put my two cents in and a few months later, I’m standing at the top of the ramp in San Francisco with the World Heavyweight championship.
So, obviously there’s a lot more detail, but that’s the abridged version. It was something that I wanted from the moment I won the briefcase and I kind of hedged my bets on it for a few months and so, thank you, Philadelphia for helping me out.”
Thanks to Cageside Seats for the quotes.
What I Think Now
The story of the match was all about how Lesnar was relentless in his assault on Reigns with a lot of suplexes, several F5s and Reigns kept kicking out. Lesnar dominated the first half of the match, but Reigns kept fighting back and he looked like a badass in doing so. Nobody could slow down Lesnar for one year, yet Reigns fought back with his power moves and nearly won the WWE Title.
I thought the story of the match changed when Lesnar’s head got busted open when he hit the ring post. Reigns unleashed an assault on Lesnar, which led to Lesnar selling it in a big way and making us believe that Reigns was going to win the title. That’s why booking Lesnar as an unbeatable monster was so important for this story. It made us believe that nobody was going to beat him, but when Reigns came close with two Spears in a row the match went from really good to amazing just like that. Great storytelling.
The Rollins cash in is one of my favorite moments of the last few years. It happened right after Lesnar hit a F5 and both guys were out on the mat. Everybody was shocked by it. When Rollins cashed in, the crowd went wild and suddenly we got a triple threat match for the WWE Title just like that. We had never seen anything like that before and if they ever do it again, that moment won’t be able to top this because this was the first time it happened at a WrestleMania.
On a final note, I hate how WWE edits the footage of how Rollins won the title because they banned the Curb Stomp move a few months after this match.
What Happened Next
Rollins held the WWE Title until he suffered a serious knee injury in early November. He was booked as a cheap heel champion for much of his run. If he didn’t get injured, there were reports that he was going to lose the WWE Title to Reigns at Survivor Series.
Reigns finally won his first WWE Title at Survivor Series 2015, but it didn’t last long as Sheamus cashed in the Money in the Bank briefcase on him. Reigns got his WrestleMania WWE Title moment in Dallas last year at WrestleMania 32 when he beat Triple H for the title. The victory was met with boos and here we are one year later with Reigns getting booed even more.
As for Lesnar, he was taken out of the WWE Title picture after this loss. Due to his part time schedule, it made sense that Lesnar had a different role in WWE.
The greatness of the match was the work by Lesnar and Reigns, but the cash-in by Rollins is one of those unforgettable things that no WWE is ever going to forget.
After the show was over, there were reports that Rollins wasn’t told he was winning the WWE Title until midway through the show. The reason for that is because WWE didn’t want it to get leaked out beforehand like so many things in WWE get leaked.
The original plan was for Reigns to leave with the WWE Title, but WWE chose to go in a different direction. It sucked for Reigns and his family, who were reportedly angry about the decision. However, after watching how they executed the angle, I think it’s fair to say WWE made the right call.
Rankings So Far
- Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (vs. Seth Rollins) @ WrestleMania 31
- Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle @ WrestleMania 20
- The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan @ WrestleMania 18
- Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair @ WrestleMania 24
- Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch @ WrestleMania 32
- Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper @ WrestleMania 8
- Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan @ WrestleMania 6
WrestleMania’s Greatest Matches archives are here.
Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.
John Canton – [email protected]