Say what you want, but after the end of WrestleMania, the internet always seems to break and this year, we got yet another reason why.
Seth Rollins has pretty much had the best year anyone can have so far and now he’s topped it off big time.
Doesn’t get bigger than the main event of WrestleMania for a successful Money In The Bank briefcase cash-in.
This opens up so many possibilities. We’ll get into all of them below, but anybody can agree that this show – while lackluster in build and mild on paper except for the obvious marquee matches – delivered in almost every aspect of entertainment.
– The fatal four-way Tag Team Championship match with The Usos (w/Naomi), Los Matadores (w/El Torito), Big E and Kofi Kingston (w/Xavier Woods), and Tyson Kidd/Cesaro (w/Natalya) was predictable in the sense that Kidd/Cesaro were way over, New Day were way not, everyone appreciated The Usos when they weren’t in offense towards Kidd/Cesaro and Los Matadores were just there. The constant switch between control and utter chaos provided a nice pace to the match and set up the finish nicely as Cesaro tagged Uso as he was about to dive off the top and “stole” his pin. They retained and had their moment to shine.
– The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale was the utter expected chaos. Hideo Itami had his brief moment of glory by eliminating Bo Dallas (who just seemed way too happy about being there) but then was boringly KO’d out of the ring by Big Show. Lameness galore. Mizdow finally turning on Miz was excellently done and done in a way that can easily be followed up on post-Mania Raw, but with Show standing around while it all happened, it made you question the logic. Show getting the best of Mizdow was super lame on the big stage, but it gave him bragging rights for future segments if anything, because he needed more? Granted, that shot of him doing Andre’s pose next to the trophy was one to remember.
– The Intercontinental Championship Ladder match between Daniel Bryan, Bad News Barrett, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, Stardust, Dean Ambrose and R-Truth started the show off on a nice note. It was cool to see the nod of acknowledgment on Bryan’s entrance that this year’s Mania started how last year’s ended, with the Yes Movement. That’s one of those little things that people will notice if they ever watch WrestleMania in consecutive marathons. The action wasn’t too extreme, but a few cool spots involving the ladders (powerbomb out of the ring) were enough to get the crowd on their feet. Bryan was the obvious choice from the get-go and can bring the IC Title to new heights, no pun intended.
– The Randy Orton-Seth Rollins (w/J & J Security) match was a solid, though predictable match that brought just the right amount of intensity. That finish with the “possum” RKO was hot and well-executed. Most beautiful RKO ever. The near-falls down the stretch were believable too. Ultimately, Orton got his revenge and taking the end of the night into account, he technically pinned the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion. Does that put him in line for a Title shot? Raw could be interesting.
– The Sting-Triple H match was preceded by the anticipated elaborate entrances – Triple H’s Terminator-inspired particularly went over well. This match fully lived up to the hype – bringing in an aspect to the match never even considered in the hype, but cool nonetheless in the nostalgia factor with D-Generation X and nWo all coming to blows, which the crowd was hot for. It was a unique sight, especially with memories of the Monday Night Wars in the rearview mirror. Just like WWE beat WCW, Triple H beat Sting, perhaps another metaphorical representation of the war, even though the WWE was led by heels here. Regardless, the “time warp” made this quite entertaining for everybody young and old. The embrace after between Triple H and Sting in the form of a handshake was also great.
– Having Daniel Bryan be congratulated backstage by legends and former IC Title holders like Ric Flair, Ricky Steamboat, Pat Patterson, Roddy Piper and Bret Hart was an excellent rub and showed that he had the backing of everyone – fans and legends. Step one to Operation: Bring-Prestige-To-IC-Title is complete.
– The Paige/AJ Lee-Bellas Divas tag match was short and sweet, making the most of its rather short time. It had the Bellas dominate only to build up to Lee/Paige to grab the momentum and came out with the win. Not much to rave over, but nothing bad either, creatively speaking.
– The John Cena-Rusev match for The United States Championship really went all out with the entrances, especially for Rusev. The match was entertaining for the time it lasted, though it felt just a step behind their FastLane effort. The guys showed their urgency by pulling new moves out – Rusev going to the top rope for the first time and Cena doing a springboard stunner, which appeared better on instant replay – and it spoke to how bad both men wanted it. There were some strange moments – Lana throwing her shoes in the ring comes to mind – but Cena winning the belt was predictable. Lana getting knocked off the apron appeared to have been done for shock value as Cena pinned Rusev immediately after. Rusev not showing concern for Lana while she stumbled up the ramp with officials was an interesting hook for post-Mania Raw. Is there a problem on the Russian Front of the WWE Squared Circle?
– The Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Rock and Ronda Rousey segment delivered in terms of entertainment and did just enough to get everyone talking. Rock appearing on another WrestleMania was no shock and it closed the door on his Rumble appearance and what questions that had left unanswered. Though Triple H was great in his gloating of beating Sting and Rock did his schtick well, much kudos has to go to Stephanie here. She stole this segment with her toughness and facial expressions. She truly owned her words here and the eventual physical confrontation was a nice little payoff, but it makes us wonder just what the consequences will be, if any.
– The Bray Wyatt-Undertaker match lived up to all the hype and got better as it went on. The big moments came in the emphasizing of similarities in both characters with Taker sitting up as Wyatt was in mid-crawl and the trade of finishers was great. Taker winning by the Tombstone Piledriver was a fitting end for what could be his last two-step at the Mania dance.
– The Roman Reigns-Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman)-Seth Rollins match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship was everything built up to be and more. Just when we thought we knew what would happen – WWE changes the rules completely. Rollins cashing in with the most eyes on the product on the biggest stage in the biggest match of the year and coming out the winner was perfect. With the crowd’s pro-Lesnar reaction, Reigns could definitely not win this. Even the story of Reigns-Lesnar in the ring was well done, with an inhumane total of F5’s, Spears and Superman Punches as it looked like another Lesnar domination for much of the match. Reigns took a beating and a half and yet at the end was the one pinned and even then, it didn’t feel like he lost too much, besides obviously getting “robbed.” People could argue this moment will lead to a Rollins face turn, but his very actions were quite heelish and you can see it on his smirk with the photo of him, the belt and J & J Security going around online. This does however, set the road for a proper face turn with Lesnar/Heyman, as it also created perfect anticipation for the fallout, as Lesnar would probably be angry and can contest he was never pinned while Reigns had his match and lost.
– Tag Team Championships – Tyson Kidd/Cesaro (Champions) (w/Natalya) def. Kofi Kingston/Big E (w/Xavier Woods), Los Matadores (w/El Torito) and The Usos (w/Naomi) via pinfall to retain
– Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale – The Big Show eliminates Damien Mizdow to win
– Intercontinental Championship – Ladder Match – Daniel Bryan def. Bad News Barrett (Champion), Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler and Stardust to become new Champion
– Randy Orton def. Seth Rollins (w/J & J Security) via pinfall
– Triple H def. Sting via pinfall
– Paige/AJ Lee def. Nikki/Brie Bella via pinfall
– United States Championship – John Cena def. Rusev (Champion) (w/Lana) via pinfall to become new Champion
– The Undertaker def. Bray Wyatt via pinfall
– WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Seth Rollins def. Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar to become new Champion via Money in the Bank Briefcase Cash-In
So, here we are: it’s arguably professional wrestling’s biggest hurrah.
How we got here is a testament of just how WWE has been this year and how creatively stubborn they can be.
Headlining the show is WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar – who has stirred some publicity talk by choosing to stick with WWE – and young up-and-comer 2015 Royal Rumble winner Roman Reigns.
The story of the buildup has been surrounded by criticisms that Reigns “can’t” win the big one – and they’re fair to think that. We’ll get more into things further down.
Also on the show are expectedly marquee matches like John Cena-Rusev for the United States Championship, Sting-Triple H, among others.
Below is the list of matches, previews and predictions.
– Pre-Show –
– Tag Team Championships – Fatal Four-Way – Tyson Kidd/Cesaro (Champions) vs. Los Matadores (w/El Torito) vs. The New Day vs. The Usos: Kidd and Cesaro have been a unit since winning the belts, taking on all comers. Well, almost. We seemed to be going in the direction of a match between Kidd/Cesaro and The Usos for the belts, until Jey Uso injured his shoulder in the ring. WWE has been hush about his injury status since bringing it up and that coincided with the sudden emergence of The New Day on to the scene and re-emergence of Los Matadores. Let’s see: The New Day act sucks and will continue to do so until Creative gives them more of an “edge.” We’re sorry – clapping won’t do it. Nope. Los Matadores are just barely tolerable as a team and besides some flashy maneuvers, don’t add much variety to the division. Getting Jey Uso back into the ring appeared to be WWE’s biggest concern and what better way to do it than in a match than where he likely won’t have to do much work? With The Usos in the match, it’s hard to ignore them, but Kidd/Cesaro can really solidify their status at the top with an impressive showing and win here. We’ll go with them.
Prediction: Tyson Kidd/Cesaro
– Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale: When the idea of the match was first announced last year, it was met with mixed reviews besides the obvious tribute to WWE’s first big name Giant. It did however, realize its full potential as a way to give an up-and-comer an accolade and Cesaro was that guy last year. What looked to be his biggest career accomplishment went to the wayside as Creative lost focus on a supposed push and shuffled him all over the card. This year’s battle royale boasts talent the likes of The Miz, Curtis Axel, Damien Mizdow, Ryback, The Prime Time Players, Jack Swagger, Sin Cara, Erick Rowan, Goldust, Heath Slater, Fandango, Adam Rose, Zack Ryder, The Ascension and now Hideo Itami. Basically – the sum of the mid-card here. The importance of the match has even been lowered by moving it to the pre-show. While the moment of Mizdow turning on Miz would be golden and well-awaited moment here, the winner only gets a trophy, and we think that turn might be better fitted for the next night on Raw. This would be a perfect time to give somebody like Itami a rub with the award and we’re going to go out on a limb and say he wins it here.
Prediction: Hideo Itami
– Pay-Per-View –
– Intercontinental Championship – Ladder Match – Bad News Barrett (Champion) vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Luke Harper vs. Stardust: There’s so much to say about this match hype, where do we even begin? The beginning would be a good place. So, we have a seemingly “tabloid” Champion in Barrett, who seems to be incapable of winning a wrestling match. His win-loss record is especially atrocious. You need one hand to count his number of wins this year so far. Add on top of that – he couldn’t even hold on to his very own championship belt – getting it stolen and tossed around week to week by the other competitors. This aspect of the match makes us shake our heads, but then something happened: Barrett got his belt back and it suddenly became about the prize and the match itself. Not to mention, take a look at the competitors. Every guy in this match could do good things as IC Champion. Harper has been greatly underutilized since The Wyatt Family split and could really use it. Ziggler could use a rub from it. So on and so forth. Will Barrett surprise everyone with a win? Not likely – and that’s because the match’s most popular guy – Daniel Bryan – will likely come out with the win in a probable show-stealer. Seemingly shunned out of this year’s World Title spotlight, he needs a pick-me-up and that coincides with WWE wanting to put prestige back into the belt. Bryan, Ziggler and Barrett are rumored to feud for the belt coming out of the match and that’s no shocker. A lengthy title reign by Bryan can do wonders in gaining fan interest in the belt again and offer some potential match-of-the-year contenders. WWE has sidelined Bryan’s biggest Mania plans, but can still do him a solid by giving him this match.
Prediction: Daniel Bryan
– Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins: Since The Authority has reformed, Rollins has been the poster boy for success. He’s gotten a huge rub from it. That’s no doubt. He had mega heel heat even before then, taking out Orton indefinitely with his infamous Curb Stomp. Building up the momentum for Orton’s return was going to happen sooner or later and that’s what we got. The feud hasn’t been bad per se, but Creative took unnecessary twists and turns with it. We were at that moment of satisfaction seeing Orton get his hands on Authority members at FastLane, with Rollins just escaping before an RKO could be delivered. For some odd reason, we had to see Orton rejoin The Authority and turn on Rollins yet again, beating him senselessly around the arena. A few weeks removed from that, the story again has been Orton wanting to get his hands on Rollins, with Rollins escaping every time. Doesn’t this story feel a little bit backwards? We can’t deny that Orton will get his moment of true revenge here, but what exactly does he gain from something like this? We’ve seen him dominate Rollins already. This match will probably have a rematch at Extreme Rules with a more brutal stipulation, but we’ll predict the feel-good Mania moment here and go with Orton.
Prediction: Randy Orton
– United States Championship – Rusev (Champion) vs. John Cena: When this feud was first announced coming out of the Rumble, it induced a few groans. However, both guys have brought it up a notch intensity-wise and put on entertaining matches. The “Do It For America” approach has motivated Cena and that’s been expected. On the other hand, Rusev continues to be built very strong and even without Lana, he comes across as a serious threat. The build for Rusev has been fantastic, and for that reason – we believe he has been groomed well to take his first decisive loss to Mr. America 2015, Cena. This has “Mania feel-good moment” written all over it and while we’re not quite sure how far Cena can take a belt like the US Title at this point of his career, but we’ll ultimately find out.
Prediction: John Cena
– Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker: While it’s somewhat noble that WWE has kept Taker away from the ring in the time between two consecutive WrestleManias, we can’t help but think that that has actually hurt this build from being all it could be. Granted, it should make the standoff of Wyatt-Taker in the ring a surefire Kodak moment, but this whole feud has literally been fog machine promos and lightning machines. Wyatt brought his best promo work with him on the go-home Raw and has teased the idea that Taker just doesn’t have it like he used to, but that makes it all the more obvious that Taker will go over. Wyatt with direction is one of the most unique, cool characters WWE has to offer and we’re glad to see his character revitalized and he should bounce back from this pretty well. The question is who will he take on next?
Prediction: The Undertaker
– AJ Lee/Paige vs. Nikki/Brie Bella: This match has been billed as the “Battle of the Divas” and while how we got there has been okay, we can’t help but shake our heads at the thought that the Divas Championship will be the only belt not defended on the big stage and that says a lot about the state of the Division. Nevertheless, we have the clash of personalities here: AJ Lee and Paige are crazy and the Bellas are conceited. Interest in the Divas has gone up a bit thankfully to AJ’s return, but she can only take things so far. With the emphasis on Pai-J being a solid unit and the Bellas out to defend their spot at the top, we can see something along the lines of the Bellas winning to restart a feud between Paige/AJ, as that’s what appears to be in store. Nikki Bella will still be Champion after the match anyway, so who really cares what happens?
Prediction: Nikki/Brie Bella
– Sting vs. Triple H: This is arguably WrestleMania’s biggest sell thus far and one of the earliest matches booked on the card. This will be a moment to remember: seeing Sting fight in his first WWE match against the “big cheese” of The Reality Era in Triple H. This has been one of the better booked feuds, as Sting has been kept silent for most of the build, finally culminating in an enthusiastic promo/confrontation with Stephanie McMahon by the go-home Raw. Nothing else is really on the line as far as the stipulation, but this should be an entertaining match where Sting will likely get the win, despite attempts by The Authority to help their captain out. What happens after here is a question mark, but hopefully Creative has something interesting planned for Sting post-Mania, if at all.
– WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Brock Lesnar (Champion) vs. Roman Reigns: It’s fitting that for a card with mostly lackluster build, this tops it. WWE fans let Creative know from the get-go that Reigns wasn’t wanted as their guy and yet Vince McMahon has boldly stuck with the fiery Samoan, protecting him more than he has past guys. From pre-taped promos to segments planned out to make him look strong (Spearing Big Show on the ramp, diving over the top rope onto The Authority, Spearing Mark Henry through the barricade, etc.), there’s no denying it. McMahon even used Daniel Bryan to help get him over, carrying Reigns to his best singles match to date. This is all well and good and while Reigns has improved on the mic and in the ring, comparing him to Lesnar is a huge mistake. The question mark of Lesnar leaving for MMA hung over this match and made this match all the more likely in Reigns’ favor, but with that rumor squashed, it makes the result very interesting. Rumors have gone around of a Lesnar face turn and that can be accomplished by having Heyman turn on him and embrace Reigns as his new client, also having Reigns win the belt, delivering the same result in a likely hostile environment. Kudos has to go to Heyman in this build as well – almost single-handedly hyping this match on his own great promo after great promo. Heyman continues to reinvent himself and in the midst of a “shakeup” that normally happens post-Mania, we believe he can do Reigns wonders as his new mouthpiece. Lesnar is popular and relentless enough to get over on his own. So, we believe Reigns will come out victorious – but it won’t be how you think. Don’t also count out a potential Rollins cash-in to spoil the moment, but we see it more fitted for the night after.
Prediction: Roman Reigns
WrestleMania Season Finale
– The fatal four-way between Jimmy Uso (w/Naomi), Fernando (w/Diego, El Torito), Cesaro (w/Tyson Kidd, Natalya) and Big E (w/Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods) was obvious hype for the Tag Team Championship match at Mania, with just a piece of the action teased to the viewing audience. It was no throwaway though. Some spots like the the four-man German double Suplex spot were cool. Cesaro put on a good performance, dominating with the Swing at one point, knocking his opponents down like bowling pins, but Jimmy Uso getting the nod was telling. Perhaps Kidd/Cesaro retain?
– Good to see WWE use the publicity nod to address Brock Lesnar choosing to retire from MMA and resign with WWE. Even better to use it as further hype to the main event match, which might reel in some casual fans just to see what will happen.
– The Intercontinental Championship hype video was essential in putting over the significance of the IC Title matches as show-stealers at Mania and ladder matches at Mania itself. No focusing on the belt stealing, just on the prize and the match. If only the booking had followed that format the whole time.
– The AJ Lee-Paige-Bellas in-ring segment gave that feud the last needed shot in the arm. All the talk of labels and stereotypes wasn’t necessary, but Pai-J are a unit now, and that’s what counts headed in. The “shots” between both teams was also a nice, believable exchange.
– The John Cena/Roman Reigns/Daniel Bryan/Mark Henry-Seth Rollins (w/J & J Security)/The Big Show/Kane/Bray Wyatt match was your general entertaining main event that saw Reigns look strong (shocked?) and Bryan pick himself back up with the pinfall for his team. That’s how we finish the WrestleMania hype and fair to say, it was straight-forward. To be fair, you could’ve missed this show and nothing would’ve changed, but nothing on the show was bad.
– Fatal Four-Way – Jimmy Uso (w/Naomi, Jey Uso) def. Cesaro (w/Tyson Kidd, Natalya), Big E (w/Xavier Woods, and Fernando (w/Diego, El Torito) via pinfall
– Eight-Man Tag Match – John Cena/Roman Reigns/Daniel Bryan/Mark Henry def. Seth Rollins (w/J & J Security)/The Big Show/Kane/Bray Wyatt via pinfall
– You don’t have to hype Sting opening Raw as “history in the making,” but it was cool to see. Smart to bring up WWE’s acquisition of WCW dating back exactly 14 years on the date. For the record – Sting’s theme music sounds like a creepy, slowed-down version of The Rock’s. This was a great time for a Sting promo, providing final hype to the match. Him stating his reason for wanting Triple H was to take him down was great. Stephanie McMahon coming out to steal the spotlight and her interactions with Sting were also solidly entertaining and logically explained Triple H’s reason to come out to defend his wife. Triple H cowering out once Sting pulled out the bat, even with a sledgehammer in his hand, was a perfect way to tease action ultimately to lead to WrestleMania.
– Why would WWE keep teasing the idea of a Randy Orton-Seth Rollins match again so close to Mania – having him as one of the choices for Orton’s opponents later on in the show, and obviously the one fans will pick – because Big Show and Kane are oh so popular.
– The Stardust/Luke Harper-Dean Ambrose/R-Truth tag match was fair hype for the Intercontinental Championship ladder match, with Bad News Barrett also on commentary. The in-ring action was good, and the energy was high from all four men. Everyone staring down Barrett on commentary was also good.
– The Miz/Damien Mizdow-Kevin Hart/Will Ferrell “interview” segment was a cool way to show Miz being jealous of Mizdow and trying to downplay his popularity, all for Ferrell and Hart to say Mizdow “had the look.” Funny.
– The Mizdow/Miz/Adam Rose/The Ascension-Ryback/Prime Time Players/Erick Rowan/Zack Ryder match was a 5-on-5 tag to hype the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale with the most interesting aspect being Miz and Mizdow while Bill Simmons and JBL went back and forth on commentary. Simmons talked about the old days and WrestleMania. Kind of surprising to hear him tell JBL his son liked him because “he put Cena over.” You’d think celebrities would stray away from “insider talk.” The face team going over wasn’t big news, but at least Ryback got the pinfall there.
– The Randy Orton-Rollins/J & J Security match was good in terms of Mania hype, as it kept the physicality between Orton and Rollins minimal and was mainly about Orton wanting to get his hands on Rollins, using J & J Security as battering rams somewhat, even though Orton clobbered Rollins quite recently.
– The sit-down John Cena interview segment had him dish more of the “Rah Rah America” talk. We’ve heard it before.
– The AJ Lee-Paige backstage segment was exactly what AJ was describing, teasing some dissension between Pai-J, with Paige calling AJ crazy, which she seemed to think about.
– Despite the ho-hum storyline headed in, the Divas Championship match between Paige (w/AJ Lee) and Nikki Bella (w/Brie Bella) turned out to be one of the best recent Divas matches, getting plenty of time. The finish was an excellent way to get AJ and Paige fighting, with Lee punching Paige thinking it was Brie Bella. Can’t help but think the match order should have been reversed.
– It was only a matter of time before AxelMania and HulkaMania would collide and if the Snoop Dogg segment did anything, it set it up nicely. Curtis Axel was essentially the joke here and this set up the feel-good celebrity moment, though it didn’t really hype WrestleMania in any form.
– They really needed to have an encore of the six-being Interspecies match between Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/Natalya and Los Matadores/El Torito? Is WWE that lazy that they need to recycle Smackdown matches?That said, having The Usos and Naomi on commentary was a good way to keep them on TV despite Jey’s shoulder injury. The action wasn’t much to brag about and this had El Torito pin Natalya this time.
– The Kane-Barrett backstage segment made Barrett look like a fool. Um, doesn’t he know he has to eventually give up the Title so it could be hung above the ring? Like a ladder match usually works?
– The Rusev-Jack Swagger match was a great way to make Rusev look strong headed into Mania by beating an “American” symbol in Jack Swagger, who was a bit more amped up. Rusev refusing to let go of The Accolade was a great way for Cena to come make the save and Rusev getting the better of their exchange, utterly dominating Cena probably means Cena goes over at Mania. However, who knows? Rusev going back for more and putting the Accolade on Cena on the table with Cena out cold was excellent hype.
– The Bray Wyatt in-ring promo was probably his most passionate of Undertaker-related promos, but if you were going to have Taker and Wyatt face-off, that would’ve been the perfect moment. Lost opportunity? We think so.
– Kevin Nash as the new WWE HOF inductee was only a matter of time. The video package was well-done and appropriate for the moment, crediting him for being a big name to spark the Monday Night Wars.
– The Tyson Kidd/Natalya live-action Burger King commercial was incredibly random, but kind of entertaining? Confusing? Definitely confusing. What was that again? Not to mention it bordered on pushing the envelope with its sexual themes. Natalya slowly eating a stick-shaped food and enjoying it? Yeah. That.
– The Daniel Bryan-Dolph Ziggler match with Ambrose voted in as Special Guest Referee wasn’t quite as slick as their Smackdown exchange but this was a solid crowd-pleaser. The bigger picture was the IC Title ladder match and Ambrose being there and the belt above the ring were good reminders of that. Ambrose dropping Ziggler after the match and grabbing the ladder, with Barrett and all the other competitors coming out was classic hype. Predictable, but necessary.
– The face-to-face in-ring segment between Lesnar/Paul Heyman and Roman Reigns was kept short and minimal as Heyman once again gave a great promo saying all the things he has said before (acknowledging it too) and Reigns didn’t say a word and only took the Title when Lesnar showed it off to him, amongst a clearly pro-Lesnar crowd. We were hoping this segment would be a true face-to-face with both guys talking, but that didn’t happen here and while leaving us wanting more, we didn’t quite get what we thought we would.
– Dean Ambrose/R-Truth def. Stardust/Luke Harper via pinfall
– 5-on-5 Tag Match – Ryback/The Prime Time Players/Zack Ryder/Erick Rowan def. The Miz/Damien Mizdow/The Ascension/Adam Rose via pinfall
– Randy Orton def. Seth Rollins/J & J Security via pinfall
– Divas Championship – Nikki Bella (w/Brie Bella) def. Paige (w/AJ Lee) via pinfall to retain
– Six-Being Interspecies Rematch – Los Matadores/El Torito def. Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/Natalya via pinfall
– Rusev def. Jack Swagger via submission
– Dean Ambrose as Special Guest Referee – Dolph Ziggler def. Daniel Bryan via pinfall
Failed Snake Repellent
– Opening the show with clips from Brock Lesnar’s sit-down style promo was a nice surprise, as the main event of WrestleMania should get “front page” focus of the show, especially so close to the big match. It can even be said Lesnar’s comments sunk in better the second time around, as we could look past the shock value and dive deeper into exactly what he said. He played this off perfectly and deserves a lot of credit here, as great as Paul Heyman has also been.
– The first segment with Roman Reigns, Mark Henry, Seth Rollins, Kane and J & J Security set up the tag match main event from a mile away. Nevertheless, it made sense for Reigns to come out following the opening video and his interaction with Mark Henry was decent, as Henry put him over for last week’s barricade spear and personally endorsed him. It’s a good sign to viewers to show that people like Henry and even Jerry Lawler are now convinced that Reigns could beat Lesnar, because it gives the impression that he is growing on people, which is what WWE wants. Though it’s a forced principle, it works with the right people. The bit with The Authority had Rollins mention a billion and one times that “every arena door was locked to keep out Randy Orton, who will not show up,” which meant of course, that he would show up.
– The “$9.99” commercial song sounds a bit close to Sum 41’s “Fat Lip.” Just saying.
– The Brie Bella-Paige match followed up what happened on Raw, with AJ Lee and Nikki Bella out on commentary going back and forth on a debate about the state of the Divas division. Couldn’t they all agree that it just plain sucks and end the debate? Paige picked up the pinfall victory maybe a little too quickly to be convincing, and we didn’t really get enough time for this to sink in, as most Divas matches these days, shocking considering they had more time on Raw.
– The bits with J & J Security lecturing arena security in keeping an eye out for Orton was expected and didn’t turn out to be anything more than that – unless you were finally hoping to hear Joey Mercury speak. (Spoiler alert: It wouldn’t happen here.)
– Stardust’s boxed promo was very… Stardust. Byron Saxton is a hilarious color commentator and seems to get better by the week, as he compared a Stardust promo to “Storytelling time.”
– Luke Harper’s boxed promo was surprisingly badass, though maybe that was just the effect of him dramatically pushing the ladder down. His promo wording also came from the Bray Wyatt School of promos. It’s also kind of ironic that Ambrose and Harper wear the exact same ring attire: gray tank top, jeans and black shoes. Come to think of it, they’re both presented in the same status on the mental spectrum as “out there.” Hell, you can include Stardust in on that too. And R-Truth has his crazy moments too. One-third of this ladder match are crazy individuals. Sounds about right.
– Dolph Ziggler’s boxed promo was his usual cocky promo taking a poke at other competitors and taking back the “turd” comment towards Daniel Bryan midway through the word, which was interesting. Did WWE see a mistake with the “turd” remark, or did they bank on that catching on more than it did and retraced their steps here?
– The Intercontinental Championship Contender’s Gauntlet match was both an excellent time-killer and great way to have all the competitors show off their in-ring skills. Even the touch of boxed promos from some of the competitors was good, simple hype. The Bryan-Harper and Bryan-Ziggler portions of the match were excellent. Barrett watching from backstage also made it feel important and his attacks on Bryan and Ziggler gave him much-needed heat. They have finally played it right, well – besides for R-Truth’s performance in this match. What the hell was that?
– The hype video from all the other Divas about the tag match for WrestleMania – or Rosa Mendes, Summer Rae, Cameron and Alicia Fox arguing back and forth about who they thought would win – was a decent shot to try to make people care, but the video package sort of came across as second-rate. Who are we giving a chance again?
– The 6-being Interspecies tag match between Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/Natalya and Los Matadores/El Torito wasn’t anything too special as the campiness of the match stipulation itself was too much to ignore. It’s as if the word “INTERSPECIES” hung over the ring during the action. The two teams meshed okay together, but the only big thing out of this was that Natalya got the pinfall over El Torito and even then, is that something to brag about in the end?
– The Reigns/Henry-Rollins/Kane (w/J & J Security) main event tag match already started with the melodramatic scenario of Henry being laid out backstage and of course, all the odds were stacked against Reigns and sure enough, he comes out victorious. How magnificent and lamely predictable. Just when it looked like Orton wouldn’t show, that’s when it happened. Him getting the better hand of most of The Authority and some offense on Rollins before his escape was a decent way to make both guys look good, but it didn’t really turn out to be anything too eventful.
– Paige def. Brie Bella via pinfall
– Intercontinental Championship Contender’s Gauntlet Match – Dolph Ziggler def. Daniel Bryan, Luke Harper (eliminated by Bryan), Dean Ambrose (eliminated by Harper), R-Truth (eliminated by Ambrose), Stardust (eliminated by Ambrose)
– Six-Being Interspecies Tag Match – Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/Natalya def. Los Matadores/El Torito via pinfall
– 2-on-1 Handicap Match – Roman Reigns def. Seth Rollins/Kane via pinfall
Daniel Bryan Is A Turd
– Nobody gets a rabid fan reaction like Daniel Bryan currently and yet he’s saddled to this sad “hot potato” storyline that now Smackdown is apparently phrasing. Credit us with the term coinage, aye? His promo was sort of awkward in the way that it was basically, “I was able to get to the World Title with my fans last year – it’s not happening this year, but hey – I notice a lot of guys fighting for this title, so I’m gonna join in.” Bryan’s name droppings of legends was a cheap pop, but what did work here was him mentioning that the Intercontinental Title was the one belt he didn’t get. Is Bad News Barrett really in any place to talk down to anyone at this point? The interactions with all the competitors was a little bit better in terms of putting the focus on the actual ladder match itself, as on paper, it seems like everyone does have a fair shot at winning the title – well it started that way, until Stardust and R-Truth came out and came the hot potato talk again and expected ensuing brawl. Does Stardust even watch WWE TV? He would’ve obviously known Truth has the belt.
– The 8-man tag match between The Usos/Xavier Woods/Kofi Kingston-Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/Los Matadores was decent while it lasted. It would’ve been all good had New Day and Los Matadores not been dumped on top of the easy marquee feud already set between The Usos and Kidd/Cesaro. Actually giving a voice to Los Matadores was a step in the right direction, though it’s really too little, too late for them, but having them get the pinfall with dirty tactics was a smart move and the “chaotic” pace of the match was at least decent here as well.
– The backstage promo with The Miz/Damien Mizdow was what you’d expect from these two, with Mizdow trying to break in and Miz obnoxiously sending him off to do silly errands. The story here was that he would do this all on his own.
– The Ryback-Miz match was more or less a glorified squash for Ryback, making Mizdow out to be right and he smiled backstage. This didn’t really hype the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal all too much.
– Geez, WWE has really set up Smackdown as the “Roman Reigns comments on what’s been said about him on Raw” show. Not bad in concept, but the execution makes it insanely obvious. The intrigue here was the random appearance by Mark Henry who put over Lesnar’s ferocity and Reigns’ struggles and it seemed like a “pep talk” until he slapped Reigns, who went all out. The barricade spear spot was highlight reel-esque at least, but Reigns still remains in a struggle to get over with the ones who count the most and we can’t possibly expect this guy to truly beat Brock Lesnar convincingly no matter what. Wrestling fans aren’t stupid. Don’t insult their intelligence.
– The Paige/AJ Lee-Cameron/Summer Rae match put over Pai-J as a team as the Bella Twins tore them down on commentary and put themselves over in the process. Simple, but goes a long way and that’s saying a lot for a fledgling division that seems to only be more of a joke that they have to be asked to be “given a chance.” Albeit, AJ’s return gives it some promise and helps Paige get over in the process, as she got Rae to tap out to the PTO.
– Henry’s backstage comments seemed to gear him back towards the face character, saying he was now a believer out of Reigns and wanted to see what he had when tested. We possibly had a Henry-Reigns match potentially here, but that’s not the route Creative wants to go.
– Throwing the ho-hum “reverse psychology” comment aside, Randy Orton’s interview segment mixed in with the footage over his “mind game plan” was well-edited and made Orton appear clever and concise, as he said everything that needed to be said and actually somewhat justified his Raw assault. It also brings the focus back to exactly how The Authority and Rollins will get their heat back and one-up Orton so close to WrestleMania, but the fact that Orton already mentioned a challenge to a match, it should be on our near horizon. Either way, this can’t be all Orton and this has been what it is so far.
– The six-man tag match main event between Bryan/Ziggler/Ambrose-Luke Harper/Barrett/Stardust was your usual entertaining six man tag. Bryan getting the pinfall might’ve been by design to end the show on a high note, but it’s good to at least see the emphasis on the in-ring abilities of the competitors. Big thanks to Truth not being out on commentary, as he’s been overexposed there. The postmatch “clash” between Ziggler, Ambrose and Bryan was an interesting moment, albeit random as Ambrose more or less claimed nobody in the back liked Bryan, though Ziggler’s retort made it more of a comical effect. Nevertheless, it seemed the crowd didn’t know how to react and could you blame them? If WWE spent half the energy they use trying to downplay Bryan’s popularity to actually push WrestleMania, we’d have a hell of a build, wouldn’t we?
– 8-Man Tag Team Match – Los Matadores (w/El Torito)/Tyson Kidd/Cesaro (w/Natalya) def. The Usos (w/Naomi)/Xavier Woods/Kofi Kingston (w/Big E) via pinfall
– Ryback def. The Miz via pinfall
– Paige/AJ Lee def. Summer Rae/Cameron (w/Eva Marie) via submission
– Six-Man Tag Match – Daniel Bryan/Dolph Ziggler/Dean Ambrose def. Luke Harper/Bad News Barrett/Stardust via pinfall
– Dolph Ziggler’s opening promo was a nice attempt to make the Intercontinental Championship seem important by bringing up how the belt changed his life, but it would’ve actually worked had he not been the latest belt thief. His references to Daniel Bryan more or less fed on those backstage rumors of working together at WrestleMania. The stuff with Bad News Barrett, Dean Ambrose and Luke Harper basically fighting over the belt and R-Truth sneaking his way to the belt was more childish shenanigans for a belt that doesn’t look any more important than it was before this silly segment. Important to also note that Bryan wasn’t involved here, so we had to question if he’d even be a part of this ladder match, though we got our answer by the end of the night. For what it’s worth, it also set up the main event tag match for later.
– R-Truth’s backstage interview about him having the belt again was what you’d expect from a Truth interview. Him saying “Gene Ambrose” was chuckle-worthy, but that’s about it.
– The Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/Natalya boxed promo showed off their confidence headed into Mania, so no complaints. Fact.
– The Los Matadores-Kidd/Cesaro match after that promo pretty much told us this would be a squash and it’s a perfect time for it to happen. Kidd/Cesaro need to look as strong as possible. Right now though, the main challenge is finding a right opponent for them and The Usos might be those guys. The referee sliding out of the ring while making the count was sort of unintentionally funny.
– The Big Show-Kane backstage segment seemed to just play off their past tension and make the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale feel a little more important. Big guys in a battle royale. How intriguing. Sigh. The suit talk was random, but worked in a comedic context.
– The Ryback-Kane match was pretty basic that furthered Kane/Show’s tension and Ryback beating Kane with just the Meat Hook Clothesline made Kane look kind of weak. Kane making Show face Ryback seemed like a way for him to get back at Show and torture Ryback at the same time and fill TV time – all at once. Mission accomplished?
– The Ryback-Show match had Show KO Ryback after a few minutes of action as a Kane distraction backfired. Also basic. This was bad basic though.
– The Bray Wyatt promo hyped next week’s Raw where something would happen. Will Undertaker finally show? Probably not.
– AJ Lee coming back already has good signs for the Divas Division. You could only watch variations of Paige vs The Bella Twins and Alicia Fox so many times.
– The Bella Twins promo was surprisingly decent, though Nikki led most of that. Their points fit the logic of their characters and they at least play the “mean girls” act almost with ease.
– The Lee-Brie Bella match wasn’t the greatest Divas match but easily the best in a while. It’s surprising what can happen when the Divas are given more than three minutes. Lee got the tap out win as Paige helped her, which continued their interesting partnership.
– Bryan’s backstage interview had him put over the belt, Ziggler and gave a hint that he’d possibly go after getting the belt. It’s okay in principle for the ladder match, but this “hot potato” angle is just so wrong.
– The Damien Mizdow/Miz-Kofi Kingston/Big E match was okay, but more focused on Mizdow and Miz. Having Miz send Mizdow off the apron just to lose on his own was a good next step to take with those two, where it will lead to another altercation on Raw. Will this big moment happen at Mania or beforehand, causing a match between the two?
– Interesting that they continue to do the interviews with Roman Reigns like they did last week on Smackdown. Will this be recurrent all the way until Mania? They’re obviously protecting Reigns with pre-taped statements.
– It was great to show a video package showcasing Brock Lesnar. Very necessary in a WWE world too dominated by Reigns at the moment. We forget there is a whole other side to this bout and it was good to see Creative make attempts to explore that.
– Reigns’ interview was okay, but it was hard to take his promises seriously when we just saw Lesnar’s major damage against big names like John Cena and Undertaker and Reigns is nowhere near their legacy yet.
– The Jack Swagger-Rusev match was a necessary follow-up to what happened on Raw, but this was one of those instances where Rusev’s undefeated streak made this too predictable to invest in. Rusev stays strong and the intrigue of him accepting Cena’s challenge hangs in the balance heading into Raw. The Curtis Axel “#AxelMania” promo was laugh-worthy as he is basically the new wannabe Hulk Hogan and stands no chance against Rusev. Will this turn him into a good guy? Will Cena help Axel win, making Rusev angry? Wheels are turning.
– The Cameron, Summer Rae and Eva Marie segment tried to push the #GiveDivasAChance hashtag but was just mainly confusing. Odd to see Eva Marie on TV that is not Total Divas.
– The Barrett/Harper-Ziggler/Ambrose match had Truth again on commentary. It’s sort of working but at the same time you have to wonder why he’s out there constantly, not really adding much besides crazy statements. The action wasn’t nearly long enough as Ziggler was the only one to really look good. The postmatch happenings just followed up what happened on Raw with a different twist. For all the times Truth gets the belt, why does he give it up so easily? The stuff with Bryan was decent and looked to be the end of the show until we got a nice surprise with Stardust now entering the mix. Guess that program with Goldust is dead now. Probably better off. We just need to get to this ladder match already.
– Tyson Kidd/Cesaro (w/Natalya) def. Los Matadores (w/El Torito) via pinfall
– Ryback def. Kane via pinfall
– The Big Show def. Ryback via pinfall
– AJ Lee (w/Paige) def. Brie Bella (w/Nikki Bella) via submission
– Kofi Kingston/Big E (w/Xavier Woods) def. The Miz/Damien Mizdow via pinfall
– Rusev (w/Lana) def. Jack Swagger via submission
– Dolph Ziggler/Dean Ambrose def. Bad News Barrett/Luke Harper via pinfall
The Daily Show With Seth Rollins
– Booker T, why would Roman Reigns have to pay a ticket to see a show he is currently on? Head-scratcher. The opening segment with Reigns and Seth Rollins shoved the Jon Stewart-Rollins celebrity rivalry to the forefront. The crowd wasn’t receptive for Roman, but being it was Jersey, you can’t be shocked. An audible CM Punk chant broke out during the segment, which also couldn’t have been good. For what it’s worth, the crowd did positively react to Reigns punching Rollins and spearing J & J Security. Making Reigns look tough and ruthless is the only way to go and the “One vs All” dynamic is a good way to describe his WrestleMania push, quite frankly.
– The backstage segment with Rollins, J & J Security and Randy Orton was interesting in Orton trying to “help” Rollins and sort of gave a glimpse into what could happen in the future (obvious official turn on Authority) but we’re not there yet. This needs to happen sooner than later. Even when Orton turns, we’ll be right back to where we were after FastLane.
– The Dean Ambrose-Bad News Barrett match had R-Truth on commentary yet again, which wasn’t bad. When allowed to utter more than “What’s Up?” he is entertaining enough to root for. The match was okay, but continued the godawful trend of Barrett having his Title stolen by Truth again and losing yet another match. The random appearance of Luke Harper walking out with the belt added something new. This isn’t making the belt look prestigious, it’s making it look like a toy. Pathetic. Does Ambrose earn two Title shots now with multiple wins over Barrett? He should. It’d make about a much sense as what they’re currently doing.
– It can never be a good thing when the whole locker room is backstage, but it had promise because it was related to The Miz. Damien Mizdow upstaging Miz and subjecting him to public ridicule with an erectile dysfunction commercial was a good, yet edgy way to go. They’re teasing the official turn slowly with it getting closer and closer, well done.
– Bray Wyatt’s stage promo with the burning casket was a good promo with a visually stunning image, if you will. There was a moment of tease, but no Undertaker. He’ll have to appear sooner than later. Can Wyatt drag this out until Mania? Our hopes are slim on that, when this could be a bigger feud if Taker would throw his two cents already.
– The Tyson Kidd/Cesaro/Natalya-Usos/Naomi match was okay and continued their program and established rocky waters again between Natalya and Kidd, with Natalya upset being the one to lose the match an Kidd made up by consoling her. Where will this ultimately lead? There’s more money in Natalya with Kidd than against him. The flip-flopping isn’t working.
– The segment with John Cena and Stephanie McMahon worked mainly because of Steph’s bluntness. You have to question the risky logic behind leaving Cena purposely off the Mania card so far, but McMahon tore into Cena well and made some valid points. It’s funny she actually encouraged the crowd to chant for her point. What better way to kill the awesomeness than with Curtis Axel, though it sort of played into the Mania conversation. Cena’s serious “warning” to Axel was somewhat heelish, but expected. Axel playing to the crowd with Hulk Hogan’s mannerisms was good for a laugh or two. When Rusev/Lana came out and teased a possible acceptance just to say no, it continued the anticipation per se. Cena’s driven and Rusev isn’t convinced. We can bet the match will happen, but will there be a cheesy stipulation? Stay tuned.
– The sit-down interview clip with Michael Hayes and Arn Anderson validating Sting’s credibility was a nice touch to add, but it’s not like blonde-haired Sting was a star the caliber he is now.
– The Triple H-Booker T segment was also strong, as adding Booker T to the mix with his WCW history with Sting was a nice nostalgic feel this angle needed. Him speaking out against Triple H was good and Triple H’s response by firing him was good for the shock value and bringing him back showcased his argument about “control.”
– The rematch for the Divas Championship with Paige and Nikki Bella was more intriguing than usual for a Divas match with Paige seconds away from winning and having Brie attack her. This all cleverly set up AJ Lee’s return. Had to know the CM Punk chants would happen too.
– The AJ-Paige backstage segment played up their past history and explained why they were teaming together as they both had a common enemy. Closing loopholes doesn’t happen often enough in WWE and happy it did here.
– “The Daily Show with Seth Rollins” segment turned from comedic to quite serious as Stewart planted seeds of doubt in Rollins’ head with a better-than-average wrestling promo. It’s good when WWE brings in celebrities that actually know the product and don’t bore the audience to death. This also led to Orton making his appearance, intentionally yet unintentionally allowing Stewart to escape. Foreshadow much?
– Stewart’s backstage promo was awkward, nervous and witty, which sounded about right for how he’d respond to the last segment. Is this the last of him in WWE or will he have a role in Mania?
– Is Harper having “fireflies” in his Titan Tron entrance done intentionally? This would show a loose tie to Wyatt. Harper needs something more to his character as his abilities are underutilized. Right now, he’s basically “that guy with the eyes who could wrestle.” That said, Harper can get over on his own more as a singles guy, where guys like Erick Rowan need Ryback and Dolph Ziggler to do so, and that is even a stretch.
– The Harper-Daniel Bryan match wasn’t too long but they made the most of it. Bryan getting the win kept him going strong and there was more IC Belt hot potato as Ziggler ended up with the belt now. Disappointing involvement for Bryan considering where he was about a month ago, but all this could’ve been righted if he was just put in to the World Title match at Mania. You only get one Mania a year. Why try to purposely derail the popularity of who was the most over guy in the company upon his return? They’ve smushed him down to the upper mid-card. We have to wonder if he will ever get a lengthy run with the Title.
– Cool to see Alundra Blayze get the nod for WWE HOF. Also good to see them play up the moment she was known most for – dumping the WWE Women’s Championship into a trash can on Nitro.
– The backstage segment between Orton and Rollins continued the tension of Orton demanding a thank you and having the rest of the Authority members shun him away.
– The Paul Heyman promo was epic on many proportions. We use “epic” loosely, but more or less, Heyman used his angry voice for shock value and spoke to casual fans and insiders alike. He’s one of few promo-cutters in the business that can successfully pull this off. The mic going out several times on two separate mics had to be more than a coincidence than faulty sound. Heyman could damn near hype this Mania match on his own.
– The Reigns-Rollins (w/J & J Security, Kane, Big Show) main event match was somewhat entertaining but was mainly known for the result of Orton helping Reigns win the match and the utter dominance shown by Reigns in the final minutes with the over the top rope and spear. This helps Reigns get over, but with Mania getting closer, we still haven’t really seen a real reason to cheer for Reigns against someone like Lesnar on the biggest stage.
– Dean Ambrose def. Bad News Barrett via pinfall
– The Usos/Naomi def. Natalya/Tyson Kidd/Cesaro via pinfall
– John Cena def. Curtis Axel via submission
– Divas Championship – Paige def. Nikki Bella (Champion) (w/Brie Bella) via DQ; Nikki Bella retains
– Daniel Bryan def. Luke Harper via submission
– Seth Rollins (w/J & J Security, Big Show, Kane) def. Roman Reigns via pinfall