This column really needs no formal introduction, last night our television screens (or computer monitors for you cheapskates) were graced with the annual Showcase Of The Immortals that is WrestleMania. Here after weeks, months and, for one feud, a year of planning came to fruition so as to provide us with a globally renowned spectacle that is loved by wrestling and non-wrestling fans alike. All of this all but ensures that WrestleMania is always the front-runner as the highlight of the professional-wrestling calendar.
And now, without further ado, Wrestling-News.Net, Taj Gallagher and Pilsner Urquell (my favourite lager that I am consuming responsibly as I write this) present: Taj’s WrestleMania review!
As always, all opinions expressed herein are exclusively my own opinions and, they do not reflect the views of other staff of Wrestling-News.Net.
World Heavyweight Championship Match: Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Sheamus
What can really be said about this match? It lasted 18 seconds- my introduction lasted longer than it. It even took me longer to find a bottle opener for my beer, it was that short. I am somewhat disappointed that these two competitors were not gifted the chance, for the second year running, to showcase their amazing abilities on the Grandest Stage of Them All. Daniel Bryan has done amazing work since his heel turn and has produced great work from the questionable booking of his character and he, as well as Sheamus who has garnered massive fan support since his face turn and subsequent Royal Rumble, deserved a spot on the WrestleMania card. To see this become the squash card on the match is a little disappointing but, assuming that it there is some form of creative direction to rectify this, it is not the end of the world for the SmackDown brand and its top two competitors (out-with Randy Orton of course). Also, with no real build to this match, perhaps the short match will allow there to be some substance to this feud for when it continues to the rematch at Extreme Rules. Sheamus going over was, in my opinion, the correct outcome for this match. His momentum and “over-ness” was too great for WWE to ignore on a stage as grand as WrestleMania and, despite his great work over the past four months, it was just time for Daniel Bryan’s World Title reign to come to an emphatic end.
Randy Orton vs Kane
The feud between both superstars that led to this WrestleMania match is still perplexing to me. From what I have gathered, it’s over a handshake between Kane and Orton? At least Booker T and Edge squared-off over a shampoo commercial. The match itself, was a lot better than I anticipated based on the competitors. It started off as the bog-standard Kane match intertwined with Randy Orton’s trademark rest-holds but it certainly freshened up as it progressed. It was some fine story-telling of two guys who just wanted to destroy each other and, for the match they put on, both Randy Orton and Kane were successful in doing this. I must say, I loved the ending with the Chokeslam from the top/second rope, as well as the surprise in Kane going over. With this being a “nothing” match, I was assuming that Orton would be the man emerging victorious, but Kane going over was a nice tip of the hat to the veteran who continues to carry on and help the company in anyway needed. It also allows this to progress to Extreme Rules, a pay-per-view where these two hot heads should be in their element, if there is nothing new for either man.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Cody Rhodes vs. The Big Show
This feud, in my mind, was the WrestleMania match that had one of the best builds with the up-and-coming youngster wanting his ‘Mania heyday against one of the top main-eventers that happened to have a WrestleMania choking streak. The way in which Rhodes taunted the World’s Largest Athlete repeatedly and refusing to face Big Show in any capacity prior to the Showcase of The Immortals was greatly worked following the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view and I, personally, could not wait for this match last night. The match itself, was particularly well worked. The beginning with Show being forced to chase Cody until he had him cornered transitioning to Cody grounding the big-man was one of the best worked David v.s. Goliath style matches of recent memory. In the grand scheme of things, the outcome of this match was irrelevant. Whether he won or lost, this match was fundamentally a platform for Cody Rhodes to ascend to the upper-echelons of the WWE roster. His impressive display last night showed why the son of the son of a plumber can hang with the best of them and deserves a spot near the top of the mountain. The outcome of this match, in a parallel to the Kane v.s. Randy Orton match was a nice reward for the veteran in that Big Show became the first man to hold every major world and secondary championship available to him in his career, which is quite the feat. Cody Rhodes’ rematch will hopefully be on a SmackDown and allow him to put the World Heavyweight Championship in his sights. As for Big Show, him holding the Intercontinental should be an effective way to keep him booked whilst utilising him to put younger guys over.
Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos v.s. Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres
Well, this match served three purposes in: obligatory divas match, wardrobe malfunction moment and “nonsensical celebrity thinking they can compete” match. For those wondering about the wardrobe malfunction, it is nowhere near as pleasant as it sounds, think skidmarks and you’re basically there. In the grand scheme of it all, this match won’t be remembered any more than Bob Backlund v.s. Razor Ramon at WrestleMania 9 will be, but it had some nice moves including the top rope senton from Kelly Kelly. The winning team was never in doubt, as for the third successive time, Maria Menounos and Kelly were the winning team against Beth Phoenix.
Hell In A Cell, End Of An Era, Streak Match: The Undertaker v.s Triple H w/ Special Guest Referee Shawn Michaels
Firstly, I’d like to make the point that I did not like the build to this in the slightest. It seemed to be too Shawn Michaels based for this to be a non-screwjob finish. But, thankfully, WWE proved me wrong here. This match, somehow, has managed to equal (and perhaps surpass) the previous three “streak matches” in terms of story-telling genius. From start to finish, I was engrossed in this match as was every other wrestling fan across the planet. Seeing Triple H unrelenting in his pursuit of the win was perfect, the way in which he continued to attack the Deadman whilst telling Referee Michaels to end it for ‘Taker was a great way to continue where the match left-off at last year’s WrestleMania. The Undertaker, despite pulling off amazing matches in recent years, was in the best form I have seen him in since WrestleMania 25 and this helped sell the story that the Undertaker takes it to the next level to protect the streak and is unbeatable at WrestleMania. With regards to Shawn Michaels, I must say that his addition added a “third-dimension” to this match that will cement it as one of the finest encounters of our generation. His concern for both men throughout the match as well as fighting his own emotional conflict was superbly worked by the Heart Break Kid and justified his inclusion in this match. In all honesty, I could write 1,000 words on this match alone, but it still would not do this match justice. Just go watch this match. Even if you have already seen it, go watch it again. And, for all you JR fans, he is there to, apparently, add to the special feel of this match. Not my words, but there you go.
Team John Laurinaitis vs Team Teddy Long.
This match had some impressive spots for the cluster-f*ck it was always going to be. The main competitors (being Miz, Zack Ryder, Santino and Dolph Ziggler) got sufficient time to showcase their movesets, but could have perhaps been better suited to a tag-team match for them to gain the on-air time their performances for the year would have merited. As a fan of Big Johnny, I am glad to see his team emerge victorious, and now I cannot wait to see him each and every Raw and SmackDown. I was apprehensive with the “unbeatable” build that Team Johnny was receiving, being that it suggested a Team Long victory, but with the “from nowhere” victory by the Miz, it sets up nicely Miz’s progression and Laurinaitis’ being a mainstay on our screens for the foreseeable future.
WWE Championship Match: CM Punk vs Chris Jericho
This match has some great build to it, with Chris Jericho being the wily veteran who single-handedly destroyed the impenetrable armour that was CM Punk’s devil may care attitude. The added stipulation that Punk would be stripped of his championship if he “lost it” against Y2J was a nice addition that seemed to set Punk as the underdog in this match. The match was a technical master-class that, from a technical standpoint, stole the show. I was worried about Jericho having slight ring rust due to having very few matches on Raw prior to WrestleMania, but this was a non-existent issue last night as both men proceeded to put on perhaps the best performances of their career so far. The transition between spots and the counters and counter-counters were simply awesome from the opening bell until the final anaconda vice that signified the end of the match. The added trash talk between both men was a nice addition that seems to be almost eradicated from high-profile matches, and really sold this match. The crowd, it seemed to me, were still “exhausted” from the Hell In A Cell match and they did not get into this match as much as they would have if it were placed in a different spot. If the crowd had been more lively, then I do not doubt that this match would have been a Taj-rated “Five Star” match. With the win, and accolade of “Best In The World” going to CM Punk, this feud really has nowhere else to go and
The Rock vs. John Cena
Well, after a year of build, the two biggest wrestling icons (save for Steve Austin) this side of 1995 finally came face to face. Without dissecting the build too much, I will comment that more could have been done by the Rock prior to the month of March, but that is another column in of itself. Only in WWE could a man return after 8 years away from any in-ring competition and be booked as the favourite to win this match. And only in WWE, would they have him leave victorious. Having slept on it and spent a full day pondering over the build and the end of this match, it still makes no sense. Even now, several beers into this column, I can not muster a single logical explanation for The Rock getting the win over John Cena. Unless there is a seriously earth-shattering explanation or consequence from this, I shall consider this the “Number One F*ck Up” in WWE history. In the way that Hogan put the Rock over, Rock should have passed the torch to the man who single-handedly filled void that the Rock and Steve Austin left upon their “untimely” departures from WWE. With regards to the match itself, it had that special feeling that was present during Rock v.s. Hogan and almost lived up to its on hype. If the hype had been less than a year, I think this match would have met its hype; but as it was mentioned almost every single week in some form or another, my expectations of the match grew and grew. It is worth noting that John Cena did an exemplary job in carrying Dwayne. This was just further proof that WWE are limiting John Cena during normal matches; perhaps in an attempt to maximise their use of the leader of the Cenation and prevent any injuries to him. Whilst many like to criticise Cena for a limited move-set, Dwayne Johnson seems to be absent from the same criticisms; even though he was just as limited and his matches follow a similar “formula” to Cena’s. From here, I expect something of epic proportions to continue this in some form tonight on Monday Night Raw; otherwise the past year will have been one big utter waste of time.
Taj Rating: 4.5 / 5. Whilst I dislike a few aspects of this pay-per-view; they weren’t so detrimental to the overall quality of this pay-per-view. Many people pre-WrestleMania began to put WrestleMania 28 up with the great WrestleManias like WrestleMania 3 and, in doing so, ensured that the show would never meet their expectations. Watching it live from 12 midnight until 4am, the pay-per-view was fantastic regardless of my dislikes and kept me thoroughly enthralled with every finisher, near fall and story that was told.
Remember to share your thoughts and opinions on WrestleMania XXVIII by joining the discussion in the comments section below.
That is it for this edition of the Taj Show. Have a topic you would like me to discuss? It can be anything wrestling related and does not have to be WWE specific. If you’d like to contact me for praise, criticism, or just general banter; then feel free to tweet me @MGTAJ.
Until next time, Stay Classy San Diego!