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
Most are familiar with the 60-minute Iron Man match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII, but not as quite with the road to get there.
This show was all about getting to that point, making both Hart and Michaels look good in their respective matches and making some more WrestleMania matches in the process.
This was also the first official WWE Pay-Per-View in February, making it this month’s “Throwback PPV.”
– The opening video showcased Sunny on the beach. Boy, have times changed. The video package solidly hyped Bret Hart-Diesel’s match all focused on the WWF Championship.
– Vince McMahon was very enthused to be in Louisville, Kentucky. Also, Jerry The King Lawler was such a good heel commentator. What has he become these days?
– The basic story behind the Razor Ramon-1-2-3 Kid (w/Ted Debiase) match was decent, but the “Baby Diaper/Bottle” stipulation was downright ridiculous. Was someone a baby daddy? Why the carriage stuff? It was funny to see that Kid broke out the crotch chop when he played to the crowd. Little significance back then. If you count the amount of baby-related references on commentary as a drinking game, damn, you’d be drunk. The guys worked well together and did some cool spots, the fall away slam from the top rope stuck out and Ramon won after two Razor’s Edges once Kid tried to throw baby powder in Ramon’s face and it backfired. The moment of Ramon making Kid drink from a baby bottle, putting a diaper on over his white wrestling tights and dousing him and Dibiase in powder wasn’t as memorable as you’d think. Johnson’s Baby Powder got a lot of advertising here. Product placement?
– Sunny was terribly scared of snakes evidently. Don’t call the WWF Hotline.
– The interview with Duke The Dumpster Droese seeking payback time for being pedigreed and getting his haircut by HHH was okay. His voice was loud and screechy.
– The Hunter Hearst Helmsley (w/Elizabeth Hilden)-Duke The Dumpster match wasn’t anything particularly memorable besides Lawler clearly having his eyes on Hunter’s valet. How unceremonious. Could Helmsley’s music be any more sleep-inducing? Worse than elevator music.
– An adult Undertaker one-size-fits-all sweatshirt for $29.95? Gosh – what a bargain.
– Yokozuna was billed as 700 pounds? Something about that just doesn’t sound right. His promo towards Jim Cornette, Owen Hart and British Bulldog was actually pretty good. Why didn’t they let him cut promos more often?
– The Yokozuna-British Bulldog match was okay as it was mainly Yokozuna absorbing Bulldog’s punishment and retorting back with his own offense. The blatant DQ with Cornette hitting him with the tennis racket was stupid, but this allowed for the moment everyone waited for: Yokozuna getting revenge on him. Well, almost. Vader showed up and hit Yokozuna and handcuffed him to the ring rope. Yes, ringing the bell 18,000 times in a row will stop the attacks. Vader’s mask came off. Those racket shots sounded like they hurt.
– Goldust and Marlena had him hype up a match on Raw against Razor Ramon for the Intercontinental Championship. Almost forgot what Goldust looked like with a wig. His trademark promo.
– It’s scary how similar the backstory of the Shawn Michaels-Owen Hart match was with Michaels putting his guaranteed WrestleMania Title shot on the line to the Reigns-Bryan storyline headed into the FastLane 2015 PPV. This match literally had Mania repercussions. He might’ve also danced on the roof set. Who knows?
– Michael’s promo was inspiring as usual and certified him as a risk-taker and tough guy. Good stuff.
– The Owen Hart-Michaels match was definitely very physical with lots of athleticism shown by both men. Strong finish as well as this was Michael’s year of his “boyhood dream.”
– The Rowdy Roddy Piper pulled his usual promo as “Acting WWF President.” It’s just funny considering he would be in WCW this time about a year later fighting for the World Title. Piper pulled no punches promising Michaels to show up to Mania for a fight, that he wasn’t sorry for Yokozuna being beaten down, insulted Vader and announced Vader-Yokozuna for Mania. Piper insulting Cornette was good stuff. Their interaction was fun to watch.
– The WWE Championship steel cage match between Diesel and Bret Hart was a good match – also quite physical and good use of the cage. Diesel looked to be the winner until Undertaker rose through the apron and dragged him under. Sounds about right, and it hyped their matches well.
– Loser Must Wear A Diaper/Be Fed From Baby Bottle – Razor Ramon def. The 1-2-3 Kid (w/Ted Dibiase) via pinfall
– Hunter Hearst Helmsley (Elizabeth Hilden) def. Duke The Dumpster Droese via pinfall
– Yokozuna (w/Jim Cornette) def. British Bulldog via DQ
– Winner Gets WWE Title Shot At WrestleMania – Shawn Michaels def. Owen Hart via pinfall
– WWE Championship – Steel Cage – Bret Hart def. Diesel to retain