Wrestlemania 31 has come and gone. Frankly, it was a lot better then I expected. There was nothing Great, but there was a lot of Very Very Good. And I may not agree with every decision, but the big matches went about as well as I could have hoped. Since this is the first review I’ve done on here, a few quick words. I’ll rate matches using the normal 5-star system, with 3 being an average match. I don’t get too hung up on ratings, on if something is 4 stars or 4 1/4 stars. Then the show will get a final rating out of 10. Alright, now let’s get to it.
Wrestlemania Pre-Show Matches
Since the WWE didn’t care about the Tag Team Title match or the Battle Royal, I’m not going to spend too much time on them either. Both were enjoyable and fun. Kidd and Cesaro retained their titles, which was definitely the right call, and The Big Show won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Apparently it’s the first battle royal that Big Show has ever won, which is a strange statistic. You would think he would have won some just by virtue of being around forever.
The big story from these matches is Big Show winning while eliminating a bunch of young stars. If this is the start of a final run for the giant, I’m okay with it. Have him treat the trophy with respect, maybe turn on the Authority or at least be a dominant heel, and have one final run as an upper card wrestler. If we’re just going to get more of the same though, then Big Show winning was a dud.
Intercontinental Title Ladder Match – ****
These kinds of matches are hard to rate. I tend to be a little generous just because of how dangerous they are. Daniel Bryan won, which as I said in my preview, was absolutely the right decision. There were only a few big spots, and nothing big that we haven’t seen before. Dean Ambrose took an insane bump through a ladder, which was the highlight of the match as far as spots are concerned. My favorite part of the match though was Bryan and Dolph Ziggler headbutting the crap out of each other at the end. To me, a headbutt is a great desperation move, and having the two of them throw so many on top of the ladder was awesome.
Ambrose was the star of the match, involved in most of the big moments. Harper, Ziggler, and Barrett all looked good as well. Weirdly enough, Bryan didn’t really do much until the end. Maybe they were protecting him. In any case, I’m looking forward to Bryan’s run as Intercontinental Champion. If nothing else, every title matches will be a good match, and that’s really what the IC title should be about.
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins – *** 1/2
This match was perfectly fine. I had a bit higher hopes, but they worked a slower match, more of a Randy Orton style match then a Seth Rollins style match. And I find Randy Orton matches to be technically fine, but always just kind of boring. This match was kind of boring until the ending sequence. This match also started the trend of the night, which was kicking out of finishers. I counted Eleven(!) finishers that failed to finish someone. It hurts the rest of the show when finishers are being kicked out of in the second match. A wrestling card has to build to a crescendo, and when everyone is kicking out of everyone else’s finishing moves in the early matches, it hurts every match to come.
But what a closing sequence! The pop-up RKO was awesome enough to give this match an extra half star. An exciting ending can make up for a lot of crap. It took the entire match, but they finally kicked it up a notch at the end. I predicted Orton winning, and it’s a tough call but I think the right guy won. With Rollins winning the belt later that night, there’s several feuds waiting for him, and one of those is with the man who just beat him.
HHH vs. Sting – **
Two stars usually means a match isn’t very good. This match was not very good. But it was also damn entertaining. And also a little embarrassing. And slightly infuriating. I have a lot of mixed opinions about this match.
On one hand, the in-ring action was not good. But we all knew it wasn’t going to be good, so you can’t hold it to the standard of other matches. It was an overbooked mess, with interference and foreign objects galore. But c’mon, it was kind of cool seeing DX vs. nWo, even if it made no sense for Hogan, Hall, and Nash to come to the aid of Sting. Like, no sense at all. These guys hated each other in WCW. Why not have guys like Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page, Ric Flair, Dusty Rhodes, Arn Anderson, or Ricky Steamboat come out to help the Stinger? Oh, right, because HHH and his Kliq buddies need some more time in the spotlight.
Anyways, it was cool, and I’m annoyed that it was cool. However, there’s one part of this match that wasn’t cool, and that was the commentary. Specifically JBL burying Sting at every chance. JBL does this all the time, and it’s annoying. It’s insulting. JBL yelling over and over again about how Sting was a “big fish in a small pond” is stupid when that small pond almost put the WWF out of business. JBL, Vince McMahon, and everyone else still butt hurt over the Monday Night Wars needs to get over it already.
And that handshake at the end? Makes no sense at all. They weren’t fighting over respect, they were fighting because HHH is a corporate douche. HHH is still a corporate douche at the end, and will remain a corporate douche. Just head-scratchingly odd.
AJ Lee and Paige vs. Nikki and Brie Bella – **1/2
The Diva’s had a fun, well put together match that was just too short to be good. I joked about them getting two minutes to work, and they had closer to six or seven, but that’s still not enough time for four wrestlers to do their thing. It seemed like they were sprinting the entire time, and that hurts the match quality. I did like the story they told, with Paige isolated and AJ continually assaulted outside the ring. If they had gotten five more minutes, maybe things wouldn’t have felt so rushed. As it was, it was still the best Diva’s match in recent Wrestlemania history.
United States Title Match – John Cena vs. Rusev – ***
Rusev came out in a goddamn TANK! That was really the highlight of the match. Rusev comes out with soldiers, a giant flag, and in a freaking TANK, while John Cena comes out with… his normal attire, in light blue and Day-Glo green. John, you couldn’t even put on some Red, White, and Blue? Come on Cena, I never thought I would have to say this, but show some freaking Patriotism!
Anyways, they had a match. It was fine. A little disappointing as I had high hopes, but like Orton vs. Rollins, this match never got out of second gear until the very end. I think the Attitude Adjustment was the only finishing move that wasn’t kicked out of, so that’s something. Cena won, and it wasn’t entirely clean either, so I expect this feud to continue, and hopefully they’ll have the classic match I feel they are capable of having.
Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker – *
Before this match, there was a really long promo with HHH, Stephanie McMahon, the Rock, and UFC fighter Rhonda Rousey. It was waaaaaaay more interesting then anything that happened in this match.The Undertake looked old, Bray apparently hurt his ankle in training and couldn’t move well, and the match was slow and boring as a result. Unlike Sting vs. HHH, there were no shenanigan’s to make the match fun. Instead they went out there and tried to have an epic match, and it failed big time.
Plus, the wrong guy won. This is the one match where the outcome is something I really disagree with. Undertaker winning does nothing to help Bray, it only serves to give Undertaker a meaningless win. For months Bray has been talking about being the new evil in WWE, but looks pretty impotent when he can’t even beat the old evil. Where does Bray go from here? I have no idea.
You know where Undertaker is going though. He’s going away for another year, only to reappear at Wrestlemania. That’s fine when he’s putting on great matches, but no one is going to want to wait a year for another match like that one. And after this year’s Wrestlemania, does anyone still want to see Undertaker vs. Sting? I hope not.
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match – Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar – ****
SUPLEX CITY BITCH! Brock Lesnar is the man. Watching Lesnar throw people around will never get old. There is no one more bad ass, and no one more legitimate. And yet, no matter how much ass he kicked, I was always scared Reigns would hit a Superman Punch – Spear combo out of nowhere and win the match. And when he actually did hit that combo, I was on the edge of my seat. Can’t ask for much more then that.
There are three things that keep this from getting a higher rating. The first is Roman Reign’s stupid smirk. If they are trying to make Reigns likable, they are failing with me miserably. There’s being resilient and fighting back, and then there’s smirking as Brock Lesnar treats you like a bitch. Reigns takes nothing seriously, even his own beat downs. Sounds like another insufferable, polarizing wrestler, eh? Other then the smirk, Reigns was pretty perfect in his role here. He fought from underneath in a way we’ve never seen before. He hit hard, when he had the chance. And the look on his face when he hit the first spear was fantastic. If we could get more of that Roman Reigns, I feel like he would be a lot more popular.
The second thing is that we’ve seen this match before, and it was better last time. There’s nothing this match did that the two Lesnar vs. Cena did not do. So as much as I love Lesnar killing people with suplexes (and I really, really do), it’s all been done before. And the third thing holding this match back is the ending.
I don’t know if Seth Rollins cashing in during the match was the right idea or not. It was certainly exciting, and it’s definitely a better outcome then Reigns winning. At the same time it took away from what was going to be a great match. It ended up definitely being a “Wrestlemania moment” though, and I loathe that term. I’m excited where we go from with with Rollins as a slimy heel champion and Brock Lesnar as a rampaging, unfettered monster.
On the whole, Wrestlemania was very good. I give it 8/10