It was time for the good and the great of World Wrestling Entertainment to gather for the grand-daddy of them all, Wrestlemania 28, shown live in the early hours of this past Monday morning on Sky Box Office here in Britain. (And watched by me the following night.)
The show began with the first title match of the evening as Sheamus challenged Daniel Bryan, accompanied by A.J., for the World title.
This was…well…quick. What could have been an absolute barnstormer of a match saw Bryan putting the lip lock on his main squeeze before turning around into a brogue kick from the Irishman. A three count later and we had a new champion. The time, just 18 seconds.
So am I the only one who would have like to see a longer match?
Normal service resumed in the next match as Kane went up against Randy Orton.
Now this was more like it. This certainly had the feel of a big time match as the two former champions went toe to toe with each other as they attempted to get the big win.
When he was embroiled in his feud with John Cena I often found Orton’s performance quite boring, but these days he’s far from that. As for Kane he’s finally becoming the monster again, and these two ingredients made for an exciting match.
Both men came close to getting the win numerous times, with Kane going close after his trademark chokeslam. Orton went for the RKO several times but never managed to pull it off.
In the end the big red machine came out on top. Orton had originally stopped Kane from attacking from the second rope, but after receiving a pasting the monster came to life and took Orton down with a super chokeslam, taking the pin three seconds later.
The title action continued with the Big Show challenging Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental title.
The proverbial David versus Goliath battle saw Show giving Rhodes the rag doll treatment at the beginning until Dusty’s baby boy came back and began to work over the big guy’s tree trunk-like legs.
Rhodes’ hit and run tactics look good against the big guy, but it wasn’t long before Show came back into it. Rhodes came back briefly with a disaster kick off the ropes, but he ended up going to the well once too often. When he went for a second disaster kick Show took him down with a spear, sealing the win moments later when his big right hand knocked him out. Nice work all round.
The Divas were up next as Eve Torres and Divas Champion Beth Phoenix took on Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos (who?).
So how do I describe this one? Well, when the Divas were in the ring the action was okay. It wasn’t exactly earth shattering, but it was okay.
However, when whatshername was in the ring it just wasn’t that good, and I’m left to wonder just why a celebrity with two cracked ribs and injured feet was allowed to compete.
Our celebrity took the pin when Kelly helped her counter Phoenix’s press slam. She then pushed Phoenix into Eve on the ring apron before rolling up the champion for the win.
What was announced as the end of an era match was next as Triple H faced the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match, with Shawn Michaels as the special referee.
I think I’ve seen the most perfect example of storytelling and emotion I’ve ever seen in my near 40 years as a wrestling fan.
Three masters of their art put on a classic here that will be regarded as one of the greatest matches of the 21st century. Triple H, the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels took us on an enthralling ride as they took us through the full range of emotions.
It was one of those matches you just couldn’t take your eyes off, the proverbial knock down, drag out affair, a match that had so much action that there is no way I could document it here.
Michaels played his role perfectly, watching the man who ended his career and his best friend tearing each other apart. We saw shots with the ring steps, countless chair shots, as well as the trusty old sledgehammer. We saw all the big moves, and they still couldn’t put each other away.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, it ended. The dead man stopped the Game from using the sledgehammer, using the weapon himself before taking his man down with another tombstone to seal the win.
Michaels then helped the Undertaker to his feet, and a few moments later both of them helped Triple H leave the ring. Seeing these three in the ring together like that made me wonder if this was one of those iconic moments. It also made me think that we’d never see these three together again.
The unenviable task of following that classic fell to the match to determine control of both Raw and Smackdown as Team Johnny, the Miz, Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler and David Otunga faced Team Teddy, Kofi Kingston, the Great Khali, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Booker T and Santino Marella.
I thought this would suffer because of it’s placing on the card, but it didn’t really as it proved to be an entertaining encounter.
Each of the 12 stars were given the chance to shine, pulling off some good moves throughout. We also got the obligatory brawl between the two entourages during the obligatory in-ring brawl.
Victory in this one went to Team Johnny. As Ryder ushered his lady Eve out of the ring after their fist pumping thing Miz took him down with the skull crushing finale for the winning pin.
Afterwards as Team Teddy tried to reconcile in the ring Eve ended up giving her man a shoe to the family jewels.
Then it was on to the Raw main event as Chris Jericho challenged C.M. Punk for the WWE title, with a new added stipulation: if Punk was disqualified he’d lose the title.
Earlier I commented on three master storytellers putting together a good match. You can put these two in that bracket as well.
Punk and Jericho put on a match worthy of it’s spot on the card, a great back and forth encounter with plenty of action and a good back story as well.
With Jericho taunting Punk about his family’s problems it looked like the champion was going to get himself disqualified at one point. Thankfully that didn’t happen, and as the action progressed it became one of those matches that was a joy to behold.
Each man managed to escape after the other’s big move, and their exchange of submission holds and pin attempts was the best part of the match.
But with two title changes already on the card it looked like there could be a second until Punk locked in the anaconda vice. Jericho tried to fight it, but Punk moved to a position where the challenger couldn’t counter. Seconds later Jericho succumbed to the inevitable and tapped out, giving Punk the title retaining submission win.
Then it was on to the real main event, the once in a lifetime encounter between John Cena and the Rock.
So after a year of hype, was this worth it? Was this the greatest match in the long history of Wrestlemania?
No. Although this was an entertaining encounter and an experience we’re unlikely to see again this wasn’t the greatest match of all time. It wasn’t even the greatest match on this show.
Rock and Cena put in good efforts, and the match certainly achieved what it set out to do, but from the over elaborate entrances and the musical performances it just seemed to drag on a little bit.
It started off as a game of one-upmanship before getting down to the more serious business. All the big moves where there, and, as expected, we had kick outs after each man’s signature moves. But as the match went on and on it became obvious who was going to win.
Having failed with all of his trademark moves Cena decided that imitation was the most sincere form of flattery as the Rock lay motionless in the middle of the ring as he prepared to deliver his own version of the people’s elbow.
But as he came off the ropes Rocky suddenly sprang to his feet and took his man down with the rock bottom, finally succeeding where he’d failed before by getting the three count.
And that was that. No handshake in the ring as the Rock posed in the ring as the show went off air.
In conclusion - so did Wrestlemania 28 deliver big time?
Yes and no. There were some truly remarkable moments on this show. The cell match will definitely go onto my all-time favourites list. It was definitely match of the night by far.
But while the majority of the other matches were entertaining, I was let down by some aspects of the show.
I was really looking forward to the Sheamus/Bryan match, so for it to end in the way it did was a great disappointment for me. I do get what it was about. Still doesn’t mean I have to like it though!
As was the Divas encounter. Whenever the Divas are involved in Wrestlemania these days they just seem to be covering the backsides of whatever celebrity WWE can get hold off. Thank heavens we’re unlikely to see a Wrestlemania here in Britain. Who knows what reality show reject they’d get!
And did we really need those overlong musical segments?
But this writer protests too much, because Wrestlemania 28 was a quality show, and gets the thumbs up from me.