By Nicholas Jason Lopez
“A Path Of Destruction… A Night Of Vengeance” was the tagline attached to the next to last Pay-Per-View by World Championship Wrestling (WCW) in 2001 before the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) bought them out, which ended what was widely known as the “Monday Night Wars.”
While 2000’s WCW is synonymous with storyline absurdity and embarrassment, 2001 showed graces of promise with the faint smell of overbooking evident.
Gone now were Goldberg and Hulk Hogan, but stars like Lex Luger, Ric Flair and Kevin Nash were still prominent as ever.
Flair plays the role of “evil boss” quite well actually. What also helps this show move along is the breakthrough stars like Diamond Dallas Page (DDP) and the evolution of WCW World Heavyweight Champion Scott Steiner into “Big Poppa Pump,” almost unrecognizable from his look just a few years prior.
Picture Chad Gable becoming Braun Strowman and that was Steiner in a nutshell.
This poster actually plays into Steiner’s “I rushed the legends out” heel character as he boasted victories over Sting, Booker T, Goldberg and Sid Vicious.
The last edition of Superbrawl won’t have anything you’ll find if you’re on the search for WCW’s mark on the industry, but it was a nice tease of what could’ve been had they stuck around a bit longer.
*An RSN Wrestling Podcast Exclusive*
Check out the latest episode of The RSN Wrestling Podcast, as PWO’s own Nick, “The Mastermind” Sal and “Big Guy” Rich take the time out to discuss all things TNA, from the early Asylum days to the many faction warfares in its heyday to that time Impact competed against WWE Raw on Mondays in 2010.
The Knockouts, Dixie Carter, The Miracle, Ethan Carter III, AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, you name it, it’s spoken of!
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
– 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
– The Triple-Threat Intercontinental Championship match between Bad News Barrett, Dean Ambrose and Dolph Ziggler continued the ongoing storyline of Ambrose stealing Barrett’s Title. Barrett had a strong negative reaction in the Garden and cut a promo insulting the city and his opponents. Ziegler and Ambrose were more or less equally over. The match itself was good with some fun spots, but Barrett picked his spot and picked up the win, getting his Championship back before Ambrose stole it back.
– The Tag Team Championship match between Tyson Kidd/Cesaro and Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods was very good in terms of in-ring action. Kidd/Cesaro had a lot of heat, but also had some loud fans in the crowd. The New Day act just isn’t catching on and the MSG crowd let them have it. The in-ring action distracted the crowd from the gimmick at moments, but that all went away once “New Day!” was shouted every three minutes. They make a good trio, surely – but let them drop this “New Day” gimmick and be themselves. Either way, Cesaro/Kidd used heel tactics to come away with the win, retaining.
– The Divas Championship match between Nikki Bella and Paige was your usual Divas affair. The crowd chanted for Daniel Bryan and John Cena (shocker), but paid little attention to the actual match itself. Nikki won with the Rack Attack with help from her sister when Paige had her in the Figure Four.
– Seth Rollins cut a promo saying he would team up with Kane to face Bryan and Roman Reigns later in the show instead of Randy Orton. He insulted NYC, which also drew heat.
– The Chris Jericho-Luke Harper match was okay, but had room for improvement. Harper could be so much bigger than he is right now. Y2J’s sudden return had the biggest pop thus far and the fans ate up all his promo as he insulted The Authority. It’s surprising he’s not directly involved with WrestleMania being that he’s working house shows, but this could be a way to get him to work his “ring rust” and have him appear post-Mania. He usually works from June-August either way.
– The United States Championship match between Rusev and John Cena followed their act at FastLane pretty nicely, as it was reminiscent of that match. Cena had a strong negative reaction from the NYC faithful, but still a strong one regardless. Russell/Lana had much heat going in with their anti-America promo and pointed to that same damn photo of Vladimir Putin. Strangely enough, it was Triple H who “booked” the rematch and it seemed the crowd liked that despite obviously knowing Triple H was with The Authority. Some very close near-falls too tat made you wonder if Cena would actually win the Belt here, but use of a chair got Rusev disqualified,
– The match between R-Truth and Fandango wasn’t anything much special. Truth said “What’s Up” 56 times, the crowd was hot for it, and he beat Fandango, who played the heel. Truth can be a very intriguing character when they let him talk more, but that didn’t happen here.
– The match between Randy Orton-Bray Wyatt was good, as Orton had a big pop and Wyatt was the perfect foil for him here. This is a match we will probably see on Raw in given time. Orton was all face here and surprisingly pinned Wyatt clean with the RKO to a good pop.
– The Hulk Hogan Appreciation Night segment with Hogan, Jimmy Hart, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Ric Flair and Triple H was a great one, as video packages were shown to celebrate Hogan’s career, highlighting his many defining moments at MSG. Honestly touching moment as well as even Hogan cried. The banner raising of Hogan’s name in the MSG arena was also legitimately cool. Some in the crowd thought this was the end of the night and forgot about the main event, but realized it soon enough to catch it.
– The Reigns/Bryan-Kane/Rollins match was your overall crowd-pleaser as Reigns/Bryan worked well together and The Authority tried to upstage them. Reigns picked up the pinfall win over Rollins after a spear. Bryan and Reigns celebrated with fans after and signed autographs. Overall, a good show with a few really good matches and the Hogan segment was the marquee moment here.
– Intercontinental Championship – Bad News Barrett (Champion) def. Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose via pinfall to retain
– Tag Team Championship – Tyson Kidd/Cesaro (Champions) def. Kofi Kingston/Xavier Woods (w/Big E) via pinfall to retain
– Divas Championship – Nikki Bella (w/Brie Bella) (Champion) def. Paige via pinfall to retain
– Chris Jericho def. Luke Harper via pinfall
– United States Championship – John Cena def. Rusev (w/Lana) (Champion) via DQ; Rusev retains
– R-Truth def. Fandango (w/Rosa Mendes) via pinfall
– Randy Orton def. Bray Wyatt via pinfall
– Roman Reigns/Daniel Bryan def. Seth Rollins/Kane via pinfall
Dan Maff The Firefighter
– The highlight video for last week picked up where we left off, as Habib From The Car Wash was unceremoniously deported at the hands of Matt Macintosh – an odd and borderline racist storyline quite frankly, but it is allowing Macintosh to show off his comedic heel skills – and also showed something we didn’t see last week as Kevin Nash of all people came to the ring and chokeslammed Macintosh. There was no followup of this at all. Wouldn’t Macintosh want to get revenge on that? Random.
– A big mission of this episode for PWS seemed to be getting Dan Maff over as a tough, resilient individual who happens to save lives. Showcasing his New Jersey firefighting career to the audience was a good start. Introducing the guy whose life Maff saved to the audience? Yeah, that’ll definitely do it. This also set up Maff’s historic “comeback” as it was first revealed that Maff wasn’t cleared to compete because of three broken ribs he sustained in the fire.
– The 18-man Battle Royale was a good match once it got down to the final four of Eddie Kingston, Johnny Howl, Toto Loco and Starman, but even then, the match seemed to have no reason to be happening. What were they competing for? The “glitch” spot by Starman was cool and fit his character, but seemed like something already seen in Chikara with the Super Smash Bros. Starman winning was predictable as he had to be the favorite besides Kingston, as the other two guys are barely featured on the show.
– Sure, Maff screaming that he was going to compete with three broken ribs anyway because he wanted the PWS World Heavyweight Championship made him look like a hero and tough, but his screaming of “That’s what I do!” and his rant towards the other competitors leaned a little too close to a usual Mark Henry promo.
– The Jackson Family segment put over Fallah Bahh before the Four Corners Elimination match as Jackson compared Bahh’s opponents to dinners. Usual stuff, but good. For that reason, we knew Colt Cabana can cut a great promo. Why not one here? There was nothing from Swashbuckler either, but given his drunk gimmick, a promo wasn’t needed, but a hype video would’ve sufficed.
– The four corners elimination match with Cabana, Bahh (w/”Shining” Edward Jackson), Drunken Swashbuckler and Maff already told a story with four contrasting personalities and Maff’s injury being an intriguing added angle. The constant doubt by the announce team of Maff was an early giveaway of his victory. Also, for storyline logic, why would Bahh get a chance for another Title shot when he already has one waiting? The finish though, was great and as called before – Maff won finally putting down Bahh.
– The well-awaited Kevin Matthews-Brian Myers match will happen next week. You get a feeling this won’t be “the end.”
– The PWS World Heavyweight Champion Mario Bokara-Bonesaw match hype video wasn’t new, but maybe necessary to show for new viewers of the show. The fact that it also preceded the actual match made sense to show it again.
– The PWS World Heavyweight Championship match between Bokara and Bonesaw was a well-wrestled technical bout where you didn’t know just how it would end – until Bonesaw got the pinfall using the ropes. Bahh came out and a cash-in was teased. We know this “controversy” all happened in one moment, but perhaps splitting it up between weeks is a good “hook” for the viewer.
– The “wrap up” segment that featured The Big Deal Craig Steele, Chris Payne, Phillip Simon II w/Jesse, Delroy, Habib From The Carwash, Matt Macintosh and Dan Maff was good because it told stories and advanced feuds. Payne and Steele appeared to be in a new feud over (gasp) Tessa Blanchard, Macintosh had Habib in his car with duct-tape going to “take him back home” and cut his hair on the side of the road, plus Delroy was outwitted by a vending machine and Maff promised to become new PWS Champion. Simple as that.
– 18-Man Battle Royale – Starman Wins By Eliminating Johnny Howl
– PWS World Heavyweight Championship Title Shot – Four Corners Elimination Match – Dan Maff (Winner) def. Fallah Bahh (Eliminated by Maff), Colt Cabana (Eliminated by Bahh), and Drunken Swashbuckler (Eliminated by Cabana)
– PWS World Heavyweight Championship – Bonesaw def. Mario Bokara (Champion) To Become New Champion