It’s always come to a surprise to a lot of people that I love the “sport” of wrestling. I fell in love with wresting growing up. I loved the stories and the action, both in the ring and outside of it. And I have to say, I’m still a fan, even after all these years. The biggest event in wrestling is, of course, Wrestlemania. This is the “Granddaddy of Them All.” The biggest pay-per-view event of the WWE. But this year, things were different. I wasn’t as excited for Wrestlemania this year.
I blame the buildup. Nothing really got my attention. John Cena, the poster boy of the WWE, was only going after the United States Title, a “lesser” belt when compared to the WWE Heavyweight Championship. Bray Wyatt was going after The Undertaker and, after The Deadman’s undefeated Wrestlemania streak was broken by Brock Lesnar, the stakes seemed lower for the Phenom. Worst of all, my favorite wrestler, AJ Lee, was regulated to a Tag Team Match with Paige against The Bella Twins! This year’s Wrestlemania seemed like a bore.
Boy, was I wrong! Wrestlemania 31 was actually a great pay-per-view. In fact, I have to say it was one of the better Wrestlemania’s of recent memory! Most of the matches were phenomenal and even the “bad” matches were at least average. Let’s break Wrestlemania down, shall we?
Match #1: Bad News Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Stardust vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan in a Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship
See that clip above? Yes, that’s just a sample of the carnage we got from this Ladder Match. Although I was hoping for Dean Ambrose to somehow manage to get up from that horrific powerbomb through the ladder (!), I was okay with Daniel Bryan rising up to the challenge and taking the Intercontinental Title. This match had a lot of great action and the action was well paced. The ending, however, was kind of sudden… but maybe that’s because I was waiting for Ambrose to make some kind of comeback.
Rating: 8 of 10 powerbombs through a ladder
Match #2: Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
Both Seth Rollins and Randy Orton are two of my favorite wrestlers at the moment. These are two guys that know how to play with the crowd but have totally different styles in the ring. Orton is a bit more tactical and vicious while Rollins uses a more fast-paced style. While it did take a while for this match to really get going, once it did, it was fantastic! The finish (as the clip above shows) was unbelievable. A true Wrestlemania moment!
Rating: 8 of 10 RKOs out of nowhere
Match #3: Triple H vs Sting
Okay, I was not really looking forward to this match! I honestly wanted it to be Undertaker vs Sting (which would be a more logical choice). I also kind of dreaded this because, well, the guy’s in his mid-50s! He could get hurt! But leave it to Sting and the WWE to make a believer out of me!
From the outset, it looked like my fears would be realized. Sure, Sting still had some moves in him but the match seemed to lose steam. That is, until both D-Generation X and the new World Order got involved! The finish had Triple H using his broken sledgehammer to strike Sting. There was this odd mutual handshake of respect between Triple H and Sting at the end which seemed incredibly out of place, especially considering all of the buildup to this fight.
This was a match more on spectacle rather than actual substance. Seeing both D-Generation X (Shawn Michaels, Roadd Dogg, Mr. Ass and X-Pac) and the nWo (Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall) in the same match was a dream come true. The actual wrestling wasn’t really good but fan service was through the roof!
Rating: 8 of 10 broken sledgehammers
Intermission #1: Skylar Grey and Kid Ink perform
Um, I only watched the first part of this mini-concert because I do like Skylar Grey’s Wrestlemania theme song. Once Kid Ink took the stage, I changed the channel and went to the bathroom.
Rating: 5 of 10 bathroom breaks
Match #4: AJ Lee and Paige vs. The Bella Twins
As much as I love both AJ Lee and Paige, I felt this match was a waste of their in-ring ability. There’s no title on the line so who cares? I really hate Nikki Bella for not agreeing to put her title on the line on the biggest pay-per-view of the WWE!
Anyway, the match was pretty much awash from the start. AJ Lee was out of it for practically the first half of the match and only got in after the hot tag from Paige. AJ Lee, of course, managed to apply her Black Widow submission to win the match for her team. But, if you’re going to have a Divas tag team match, make it look like a good tag match! It was more like they mashed two singles matches together as there were no double-team moves.
Rating: 6 of 10 unconscious AJ Lees
Match #5: Rusev (with Lana) vs. John Cena for the United States Championship
This was supposed to be a huge match. Yes, it was for the United States title but it was much more than that. It was Cena, representing the United States of America versus the “never been pinned” Bulgarian Brute, Rusev. As soon as this match was announced for Wrestlemania, it was a forgone conclusion that John Cena was going to break Rusev’s win streak. And, no surprise, Cena beat Rusev with a pinfall. But the finish didn’t matter; it was how Cena was going to win that was.
The actual match was actually pretty good. I know the “you can’t wrestle” chants directed at Cena is because he keeps on repeating his moves every match. Yet, honestly, he can pull of a great match. He may have a limited set of moves (but he did bust out this odd springboard stunner) but the thing is, he knows when to do them! Rusev wasn’t a slouch either. It was a fairly exciting match all around.
Rating: 7 of 10 thrown high-heeled shoes
Intermission #2: The Authority is interrupted by The Rock and Rhonda Rousey
Triple H and Stephanie come out to brag about the record-setting attendance of Wrestlemania (like they do every year). But this time, The Game has one more reason to gloat: he beat Sting! Both of them go on to say that they own everyone in the arena. The Rock then comes out to a huge ovation! After Stephanie slaps The Rock, he calls for reinforcements: Rhonda Rousey!
The Rock then punches Triple H. Triple H then attempts to rush The Rock but is intercepted by Rhonda with a (weird looking) hip toss! Rhonda then (wo)manhandles Stephanie a bit before the owners of the WWE escape!
Quite a fun segment actually! It was predictable as heck, sure! But fun, nonetheless!
Rating: 7 of 10 woman hiptosses
Match #6: The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
With the Undertaker’s Streak being broken already, I felt there was no need for The Deadman to participate in Wrestlemania anymore. But if he was going to compete, I was expecting him to face off against another icon, Sting. So I thought it was an odd choice for The Phenom to have a match against Bray Wyatt.
It turns out The Undertaker still has a good match left in him! Okay, he didn’t do anything super-crazy this year (no jumping Tombstone piledrivers to speak of) but he did take quite a beating from Wyatt! The end came with Undertaker countering Wyatt’s finisher with a Tombstone piledriver. While I do feel a lot of the excitement was sucked out because, well, there’s no win streak to defend anymore, I still have to commend both participants in delivering a great, exciting match!
Rating: 7 of 10 spiderwalks
Match #7: Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Heavyweight Title
Wow. Just… wow!
Okay, no one really had high hopes for this one! The “WWE Universe” pretty much turned their backs on Roman Reigns and decided they would rather keep Lesnar as “the face of the WWE.” But the two of them managed to give a very good performance. Lesnar delivering suplex after suplex. Then came the eventual comeback by Reigns. Eventually, both wrestlers hit their respective finishers (multiple times, I might add!) and Reigns and Lesnar were lying in a heap, exhausted and beated.
Then, all of a sudden, Rollins music hits! He’s cashing in Money In The Bank and making the match a Triple Threat!
It was pretty much over then. Rollins started curb stomping both opponents into oblivion! Lesnar somehow managed to grab Rollins and prepped him for an F5 but Reigns came out of nowhere and spears Lesnar. Rollins recovers and Curb Stomps and pins Reigns for the 1-2-3!
Ladies and Gentlemen, your NEW WWE Heavyweight Champion, Seth Rollins!
Okay, even without Rollins inserting himself in the match, it was already pretty good! Watching Lesnar just suplex Reigns multiple times (Suplex City!) was awesome. Reigns’ comeback was actually pretty good as the timing was spot-on! But Rollins cashing in Money In The Bank and winning just made an excellent match even better!
Rating: 9 of 10 Money In The Bank briefcases
The entirety of Wrestlemania 31
Wow! I think most fans didn’t expect much from this year’s Wrestlemania. But WWE pulled a fantastic job this year! Practically all matches were exciting and worth watching (the exception being, sadly, the Divas Tag Team match). Wrestlemania moved on through with a quick pace and there wasn’t really a “filler” match.
Overall, Wrestlemania was greater than the sum of its parts! There was just a “feel good” atmosphere built early during the Ladder match and they just kept on building on that feeling. By the end, I was really satisfied with the entire pay-per-view. Good job, WWE!
Rating: 8 of 10
What did you think of this year’s Wrestlemania? Let me know in the comments section below!