After a subpar WrestleMania XXIX, WWE roared back with WrestleMania XXX. It was an important show on several levels. Obviously 30 is a nice, round number and WWE often pulls out all the stops for “anniversary” shows. Last year, smarks blasted WWE for its fan-unfriendly booking. This year, the company (mostly) listened. On a corporate level, WrestleMania XXX was the first major show to take advantage of WWE Network. To my delight, the stream was flawless on my AT&T U-Verse connection. As for the show itself, WrestleMania XXX was a mix of great matches, bland bouts, and bizarre happenings. Here are some assorted thoughts on last night’s show. I’d love to hear yours in the comments section. (Also, spoilers ahead!)
Hogan’s Hot Start: The immortal (not really) Hulk Hogan kicked things off as the host of WrestleMania XXX. He got the crowed hot…until he gaffed and called the Superdome the Silverdome. Pundits have used thousands of words arguing on whether or not the Silverdome gaff was a simple mistake or a result of Alzheimer’s. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin joined in and got the crow even hotter. He even played up the Silverdome error and turned it into a fun rib. Finally…The Rock returned to WrestleMania. Kicking off the show with three of the biggest pro-wrestling stars of all time was tremendous. The live crowd loved it and it played well on TV.
Daniel Bryan Plays the Game: The opening match was predictable, but mostly good. Triple H is a part-timer these days and there were several moments where he looked rusty. His timing was slightly off, making for action that wasn’t as crisp as it could have been. It’s one thing for Hunter to pull off a great match with someone that he’s been wrestling for years, like Shawn Michaels or the Undertaker. With a relatively new opponent like Daniel Bryan, the results weren’t his best. As for the artist formerly known as Bryan Danielson, he was tremendous. I am of the opinion that he has been the best in-ring performer on the WWE roster since HBK retired.
Overall, it was a solid match, the right guy won, and it got the crowd going. The post-match beat-down was also very good. Stephanie McMahon’s legs were pretty distracting. It was difficult to concentrate on the wrestling when naughty thoughts about the MILF-y Stephanie McMahon kept invading my mind.
The Shield vs. Some Old Guys: This was a short squash. The Shield has been one of the hottest acts in WWE for the last year or so. Sadly, they didn’t get the opportunity to shine at WrestleMania XXX. Oh well, they’re young and I’m sure there will be several chances for them down the road. As for the New Age Outlaws, I like that they were brought in to shake things up in the tag-team division, but they should hang it up as regular performers. I’m probably in the minority, but I dig Corporate Kane. He’ll never do this, but I wish he’d incorporate some of his real-life libertarian views into his gimmick. That would rule.
Andre the Giant Battle Royal: As many of you know, I’ve been a huge mark for Cesaro from back when he wrestled as Claudio Castagnoli in Ring of Honor and other independent wrestling promotions. I was delighted to see him win the WrestleMania XXX battle royal. The match itself was typical WWE battle royal fare — mostly boring with some cool spots by Kofi Kingston (I was amazed that he landed on the stairs) and Dolph Ziggler. Cesaro slamming Big Show out of the ring was pretty spectacular and I’m sure that clip will be replayed hundreds of times over the next decade. Most importantly, the win and the highlight slam helped establish Cesaro as a future WWE player. I loved that WrestleMania XXX was used to elevate Cesaro to the next level and hope WWE doesn’t botch the followup.
John Cena is Tempted by the Dark Side: A lot of wrestling fans are blasting this match, but I enjoyed it. The psychology was unique and the storytelling was strong. That said, it had some flaws. I’m certain that it played better on TV than it did live. The announcers did a great job of enhancing the storyline of Bray Wyatt trying to get Cena to give into his anger and ruin his legacy. Obviously the live crowd doesn’t get the benefit of that enhancement. There were slow moments that appeared to be tense on TV, but probably looked dead to people at the show. On the downside, the loss damages the Wyatt family act a bit, but they have the ability to bounce back. While I respect Cena’s work ethic, I was happy to see him in the middle of the card instead of the main event.
Brock Lesnar Breaks Undertaker’s Streak: This WrestleMania XXX match…I didn’t get at all. I didn’t expect a great match; Undertaker is old and in constant pain — dude can’t go like he used to. Lesnar is phenomenally gifted, but he’s never been great at carrying opponents. The action was brutally stiff at times, though awkward and lumbering at others. The result doesn’t make sense to me. Lesnar is a part-timer and he gets a huge rub for ending “The Streak.” Wouldn’t it have been better to give the rub to a young up-and-comer that can capitalize on it for the next decade? I don’t see the point in using “The Streak” to elevate Lesnar, a guy that wrestles three times a year and will probably be out of the business within the next few years…
…unless he was Undertaker’s personal pick to end “The Streak.” In that case, you can’t really say anything, can you? Undertaker has earned the right to go out however the hell he wants to.
Divas Clusterf*ck Match: I’ve loved AJ Lee for years. I called out her hotness back in the NXT days. I was happy she won, but WWE’s use of Divas…kind of sucks right now. I’m happy that they all got a WrestleMania XXX paycheck and some exposure, but there was so much wasted talent in the ring. The Divas roster is stacked with women that can work great matches — AJ, Nattie Neidhart, Naomi, Emma, etc. It would have been nice to see some female talent (that’s not on a stupid reality show) elevate at WrestleMania XXX.
Daniel Bryan Conquers Drax: This was a good match that was better than I thought it would be. Yes, it had the completely-expected moments of Batista sucking, but Randy Orton and Daniel Bryan helped covered up Big Dave’s enormous sucktitude. That Batista-Bomb-into-an-RKO spot was pretty gnarly. I was worried about Orton when he landed (unplanned) on a loose monitor after the spot. The near-finishes at the end were exciting and dramatic. Most importantly, the right guy won to open and close the show.
Some fans felt that the match was over-booked towards the end, with interference by The Authority and a shady referee being inserted into the match. I disagree with those folks. While I expected Bryan to win the match, the interference planted some seeds of doubt. The booking had me wondering if the writers were going to blow it again. I liked that doubt crept in for a few brief moments.
As a big Bryan Danielson fan and someone that hated some of the booking decisions behind Daniel Bryan, I was thrilled to see him finally emerge victorious at WrestleMania XXX. The live crowd reaction wasn’t as big as I thought it would be, but part of that was the audience still reeling from the shock of ‘Taker’s streak coming to an end. Naturally, the crowd went home happy and millions of smarks were left happy. I enjoyed the match and loved the result. Hopefully the writers don’t screw this one up.