Few things of importance happen on a pre-show, but this year’s WrestleMania gives us two matches. The only important non-match thing to happen, though, sees Rusev and Lana backstage, with Lana saying she’ll never show compassion again, and Rusev saying he’ll crush Cena and kill America. So, yeah. That’s character building on the pre-show.
WWE Tag Team Championship Fatal Four-Way Match: Cesaro and Tyson Kidd vs. The New Day (Big E and Xavier Woods) vs. Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) vs. The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso)
Jey Uso is legitimately hurt, so Cesaro “hurts” him right near the start of the match so that he doesn’t have to actually compete in the match. Only two men are in the ring at one time in this match, in case you forgot the rules.
This is a fast-paced match whose goal is to get the crowd into the action and provide us with energy. It has a bunch of fun spots, a great pace, some highlights for each team, and performs the function it was intended to do.
It does get confusing for a lot of the match, as it becomes tough to figure out who’s legal when everyone is in the ring at once. El Torito and Naomi both get involved at one point, but there are no disqualifications since it’s a fatal four-way match. We basically just go from big spot to another big spot; whoever’s actually legal doesn’t matter.
The finish comes when everyone is down, Jimmy Uso goes for a splash, Cesaro tags himself in without Jimmy knowing, and after the splash is hit, Cesaro throws Jimmy out of the ring and picks up the win. It’s a mess of a match, but it’s pretty fun.
Match Rating: ***
André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Curtis Axel is first, because everyone teams up to take him out. Basically everyone who isn’t in a match already is in this match. Bo Dallas is even in it, and we haven’t seen him for months. It’s too crowded to even tell what’s happening at the start.
I don’t know what you want from me here. It’s a battle royal. They’re all basically the same. Big Show’s eliminations of The New Day are fun. Our final three are Big Show, The Miz, and Damien Sandow. Miz wants to team up with Sandow, but Sandow doesn’t want to. Sandow eventually eliminates The Miz. Big Show decides not to take the opportunities he had to eliminate Sandow, which is stupid, but whatever.
It’s after Ryback gets eliminated that we think Sandow’s going to win. But, while he gives it his all, he doesn’t succeed. Big Show eliminates him and wins the battle royal.
Match Rating: ***
The actual show kicks off with “America the Beautiful,” sung by the guy who sung “Wake Me Up” and probably other songs, too, but I don’t know any of them.
WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Stardust vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose vs. R-Truth vs. Bad News Barrett
This match opens with seemingly everyone getting to do a high-flying spot. That allows us to take everyone out so that we can get to more one-on-one action. Well, the type of one-on-one action that you get from matches like this. Two people do something, one of them gets knocked down, and then someone else takes their place.
Stardust brings his own, sparkly ladder which provides a funny couple of spots. From there, lots of ladder stuff happens. It’s very exciting, as we expected it to be. Ambrose probably took the sickest bump. Our finish sees Bryan and Ziggler both climbing the ladder, no-selling headbutts to one another — a dumb spot, in all honesty — before Ziggler eventually falls of and Bryan wins. It was a pretty strong match, and a very exciting one with which to open the show.
Match Rating: ****
Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins
Orton looked like he wanted to end it early, but J&J Security interfered. He then hit middle-rope DDT, but from the apron, on them. Then we get to see Orton and Rollins wrestle a match without distractions, at least for a while. Rollins gets to pull off high-flying moves that we rarely get to see from him, while Orton plays the smart veteran. We tease a punt at one point, but J&J Security stops it. Finishers are kicked out of, a phoenix splash is missed, and it’s just solid wrestling. Our finish sees Rollins go for a curb stomp, get sent into the air, and hit with an RKO, in what was a really cool spot.
Match Rating: ***1/2
Sting vs. Triple H
Sting gets this mildly racist Asian-style entrance, while Triple H gets a Terminator-themed one. We also find out that this is a no-disqualification match, which we previously didn’t know, I don’t think.
The fast pace with which the PPV was operating ends with this match. That isn’t to say that it’s bad; it’s just to describe it. Sting and Triple H wrestle a slower match than what we previously saw. It’s not that these two men can’t still go, but they decided to do lots of rest holds, lots of grappling, and not a lot of big spots. And then things get weird.
Sting gets Triple H into the Scorpion Death Lock. Then DX’s music hits, and the crotch chops Triple H did earlier make sense. Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, and X-Pac all come down. Sting fights them off once, but a second distraction allows for a Pedigree, which Sting manages to kick out of.
Triple H goes to get a sledgehammer, but then NWO comes out. Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall come down and beat up NWO. Sting hits a Scorpion Death Drop, but Triple H kicks out of this. I guess we needed these distractions instead of having a good match. Sting looks like he’s about ti win, but Shawn Michaels shows up out of nowhere and superkicks Sting. That doesn’t end the match, though. We still have to do a bat vs. sledgehammer spot.
Sting breaks the hammer in half with the bat, but Triple H eventually uses the good half to hit Sting and win the match. So, yes, Sting just lost his first match in WWE, and he didn’t even get to do a full match; we needed a silly nostalgia trip instead.
Match Rating: **1/2
Triple H goes to shake Sting’s hand after the match, and Sting accepts the handshake.
Maria Menounos interviews Daniel Bryan after the match. Pat Patterson puts over Bryan, which is completely unnecessary. Then Roddy Piper shows up and congratulates Bryan, too. Ricky Steamboat is next. Then Ric Flair. And Bret Hart. They all do a “Yes!” chant before Ron Simmons shows up. Well, you know what he does.
Skylar Grey and Travis Barker perform the official WrestleMania theme song. It’s a pretty decent song as far as I’m concerned. And the performance is good. So there’s that. And then Kid Ink showed up to do some rapping and I lost complete interest.
AJ Lee and Paige vs. The Bella Twins (Nikki and Brie Bella)
AJ gets knocked off the apron right off the bat and sells it for what feels like forever. When she starts to get back up, she’s knocked down again. As such, the weaker seller winds up having to do exactly that for most of the match while the Bellas dominate on offense. Paige does a high-risk move to turn the tide before tagging in AJ. There are a couple of sloppy spots here — one DDT in particular isn’t that great — but that doesn’t matter too much. AJ eventually locks in the Black Widow for the win. The two singles matches on Raw were better than this, but it was still fine, if short.
Match Rating: **1/2
Highlights from this year’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony are played next, for the 99% of you who don’t care about actually watching the full ceremony.
WWE United States Championship Match: Rusev vs. John Cena
Rusev comes out with artillery, tanks, and Russian soldiers, which is just awesome. John Cena gets this ultra-patriotic video package and entrance. But remember, it’s not about patriotism.
Rusev forces Eden to introduce him first, which is kind of fun. Cena and Rusev start off with a very quick pacing, getting the show back to the intensity and speed at which it started. It stays that way through most of the match. Rusev’s moveset is great, and Cena always steps up on PPVs. Cena even does a move I’ve never before seen him — or anyone, really — do: a springboard stunner.
Our finish comes when Lana tries to interfere, Rusev knocks her off the apron, Cena hits an AA, and Cenawinslol. One AA. Still, really solid match.
Match Rating: ***1/2
Stephanie McMahon and Triple H then cut a promo in the ring. There’s been a new attendance record at Levi’s Stadium. Good for them? Stephanie then tells us that WWE wouldn’t exist as it is right now without them. Triple H then tells us how great he is. Then The Rock comes out, because of course he does. He’s got a movie coming out in a week; did you really think he’d miss WrestleMania?
After lots of waiting for the fans to shut up, Rock cuts an anti-Authority promo. The Rock wants to fight Triple H. Triple H says he has nothing to prove to The Rock. But Rock taunts him. Triple H takes off his suit, but Stephanie gets in the middle of them. She says The Rock would be nothing without the McMahons. She eventually slaps him and orders him out of the ring. The Rock leaves the ring and notices Ronda Rousey at ringside. She comes into the ring with The Rock. Because Furious 7.
Stephanie thinks she can take Rousey in a WWE match, because it’s different from an MMA fight. She orders Rousey out, but Rousey tells Stephanie to make her.
Triple H eventually tries to stop everything, but Rock punches him a bunch. Rousey then flips him. Stephanie tries to force Rousey to leave, but Rousey easily throws her away. And that ends the biggest stalling tactic of all time. Rock and Rousey get to celebrate for a bit, right before a Terminator trailer is aired.
The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt
Wyatt comes out to scarecrow-zombie things. One of which he “awakens” while walking down to the ring. Okay.
There are no other Superstars for whom I get the same sort of anticipation that I get when The Undertaker makes his appearance. It works even when it’s still light outside.
The PPV’s pace slows down here. You know The Undertaker isn’t going to work a particularly fast-paced match. He hasn’t in recent years, and even in his prime wrestled a relatively slow style. And, no, the match isn’t particularly good. Most of it sees Wyatt beating on Undertaker, and then the last few minutes are just all finishers and counters. But it had the one moment we needed to see — a crabwalk and a sit-up at the same time — and it’s not like it was horrible. No, it’s not an Undertaker classic, but it’ll do. Undertaker wins after a second tombstone piledriver.
Match Rating: **1/2
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns
Roman Reigns comes down from the crowd with about a half-dozen security guards, which ruins the whole thing. Lesnar gets introduced by Paul Heyman, which is great.
Lesnar hits a German Suplex and an F5 within 30 seconds. Lesnar looks like he legitimately took a stiff shot from Reigns and got cut open. Lesnar dominates Reigns like he did to Cena at SummerSlam last year. Suplex after suplex. Lesnar removes his gloves at one point. He then starts slapping Reigns, to which Reigns responds “please sir, may I have another?”
The thing we’re doing here is watching Lesnar destroying Reigns, but Reigns continuing to kick out. Three F5s in and Reigns is still kicking out. Reigns eventually tosses Lesnar into the ring post and gets the moment, busting Lesnar open further. It takes three Superman Punches to knock Lesnar down, followed by two spears before a pinfall can even happen. Lesnar kicks out, though. It’s easy to get invested in this match if you want Lesnar to win.
A fourth F5 from Lesnar puts both men down, at which point Seth Rollins runs out to cash-in his Money in the Bank contract.
Match Rating: ***
WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins
Rollins throws Reigns out of the ring and then hits a curb stomp on Lesnar. A couple of finishers and attempts later, Rollins hits a curb stomp on Reigns and pins him to win the championship. Huh.
Match Rating: N/A (not a real match)
Rollins celebrates on the ramp to close out the show.
The Good: Main event. WWE Tag Team Championship Fatal Four-Way. WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match. Rollins/Orton. Rusev/Cena. Undertaker leaving seemingly uninjured.
The Bad: Divas match getting only a few minutes. Sting/Triple H not getting a real match.
Match of the Night: WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match.