WWE WrestleMania 27 - April 3, 2011
-I can’t believe I didn’t review this until now. I ordered the show live and about five minutes later learned that the advertised Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus match took place as a dark match. And ended with a no contest when the lumberjacks got involved. And turned into a battle royal. And then The Great Khali won said battle royal. Needless to say, I was pissed off, as the thought of seeing Bryan Danielson compete at Wrestlemania was what pushed me over the line into ordering it. I was then in a grumpy mood for the first hour of the show and had less patience for all the filler than I would have on a normal night. Anyhoo, on to the show!
-From Atlanta, GA. Our hosts were Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and Josh Mathews.
-Keri Hilson sang “America the Beautiful” which is a nice Wrestlemania tradition.
-The Rock comes to the ring in an extended pandering segment. This ate up a lot of time and was not really all that entertaining. This version of The Rock is what I imagine he’d be if he was just coming up through development today. He goes through his catchphrases with a smile that even John Cena would find dorky.
World Heavyweight Championship:
Watching my copy of the blu-ray and I’m surprised to see Clay in Del Rio’s corner. What was less surprising was that the World Heavyweight Championship has been downgraded to opening pay-per-views on a somewhat regular basis in 2011 (it also opened the Royal Rumble). With Raw and Smackdown stars all over the same pay-per-views (and now on television on a full-time basis) the WHC really feels like the modern day equivalent of the IC title. Heading into this match, everyone expected that Del Rio was going to pick up the victory, so it was shocking when Edge retained in what was a very ordinary match. My hunch is that WWE officials were catching wind that Edge was in tough physical shape and wanted to give him one last moment of glory. Edge ended up retiring days after this event, so seeing him go out as a champion is a nice moment. What was less impressive was Edge and Christian destroying Del Rio’s car afterwards like a pair of sore winners. It would have been one thing to do that had Del Rio cheated and won, but that was not the case. All in all, a significant match due to circumstances, but not all that memorable as a match itself, **¾.
Edge © (with Christian) vs. Alberto Del Rio (with Ricardo Rodriguez and Brodus Clay)
Winner at 11:08 and still World Heavyweight Champion: Edge
Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes
I really dug the build to this match, as Cody Rhodes underwent a super villain-esque transformation into a “disfigured freak.” Mysterio had accidentally smashes in Cody’s face with his knee brace during a match, which required Cody to undergo facial reconstruction surgery. Since returning, Cody had been wearing a protective mask and using it as a weapon. Mysterio arrives dressed as Captain America, continuing his Wrestlemania tradition of dressing up as a comic book character. The match itself was a highly enjoyable affair, as Rey seemed really interested in putting Rhodes over as a major superstar. Rhodes ended up using Mysterio’s knee brace as a weapon to counter a flying move. Rhodes gets a big (and unexpected) Wrestlemania win, which unfortunately did not get the follow up it deserved. Still, a fine match, and I respect Mysterio for what he tried to accomplish here, ***.
Winner at 11:58: Cody Rhodes
-We are treated to a filler segment that really annoyed me in the wake of not getting my Bryan/Sheamus match. Teddy Long and Snoop Dogg host a singing contest. Zack Ryder singing Rebecca Black’s “Friday” almost saves it.
Wade Barrett, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, and Ezekiel Jackson vs. Big Show, Kane, Santino Marella, and Kofi Kingston
Kingston was a last minute replacement for the storyline injured Vladimir Kozlov. Now, it was nice of WWE to try so hard to get these eight guys on the show, and it certainly had plenty of build, but if they were only going to give this match 90 seconds, then why even bother? It made the Corre look like the jobbies group of jobbers that ever jobbed and killed about three months’ worth of build-up dead in the water. The match was virtually just each baby face hitting their best trick with Big Show pinning Slater. I would have preferred this match just get cut than to get what we got. DUD.
Winners at 1:32: Big Show, Kane, Santino Marella, and Kofi Kingston
-The Rock wastes precious time that could have been given to the eight-man tag by flirting with Divas Champion Eve Torres. The Rock is feeling cocky and guarantees a “magical moment” with the next person who walks around the corner, so cue the Mae Young appearance. Rock dismisses them and then bumps into Steve Austin. Just in case you were wondering, the Attitude Era > anything they’ve got now.
CM Punk vs. Randy Orton
Speaking of crushing factions dead in the water, Randy Orton effectively buried CM Punk’s New Nexus in the weeks leading up to this event. Of course, originally it was supposed to be John Cena destroying the group to get to Punk, but plans sure did change. Fortunately, we are treated to a nicely worked match here, with an aggressive Orton tangling with a resourceful Punk. Punk’s downfall comes when he blocks an RKO but spends a little too much time congratulating himself for it. Punk goes for a springboard and Orton counters with an RKO in mid-air. Some people found that finisher predictable, and in hindsight it probably was, but I enjoyed and appreciated it live. Orton gets the win and the New Nexus has been vanquished. Strong match here, even if I’d like to see CM Punk get a win at Wrestlemania again.
Winner at 13:44: Randy Orton
-The Rock is pleased with just how historic Wrestlemania is. He bumps into Pee-Wee Herman, who is a big John Cena supporter. Yeah, he would be. Rock manages to talk Herman out of it and recruits him into Team Bring It. They fist-bump, insert your own joke here:
-We are introduced to this year’s Hall of Fame class! This is nice and all, but qualifies as filler.
Michael Cole (with Jack Swagger) vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler
Things go south in a big way here. First, on a positive note, Jim Ross comes out and replaces Cole on commentary (along with Booker T). Steve Austin is the referee/enforcer and nearly runs over Swagger on his ATV. Lawler fights off former World Champion Jack Swagger and traps Cole in his own Cole-Mine. Things continue to go well as Lawler puts a hurting on Cole while dragging him out of the structure. Things become ugly when it turns out the match isn’t just going to be Lawler squashing the life out of Cole, but rather they try to work a normal wrestling match! Yes, that’s right, Lawler spends several minutes SELLING FOR MICHAEL COLE! Lawler makes his comeback and Swagger tries to throw in the towel for Cole, but Austin ignores it, because it’s more fun to see Cole get his ass kicked, apparently. Swagger challenges the decision and eats a Stunner for his troubles. Lawler technically wins by making Cole tap out to an ankle lock, but the anonymous Raw GM (hey, whatever happened to that guy?) reverses the decision. The match was complete garbage and an insult to the paying customer (especially me, as I didn’t get my Daniel Bryan match). -***.
Winner by reverse decision at 11:11: Michael Cole
-Booker T takes an opportunity to hit the spinaroonie and joins in the beer drinking festivities. Austin stuns him too, just in case anyone forgot that Booker T was a joke in WWE.
No Holds Barred:
Time for the good stuff. If you’re Undertaker and only planning on wrestling once a year, this is how you do it. Triple H’s entrance kicks off with Metallica’s “Whom the Bell Tolls” which is awesome until you see the hilarious get-up Hunter is wearing. Undertaker’s Johnny Cash entrance works out better for him. They kick off with a wild brawl from the get-go and Triple H rams Undertaker through the Cole Mine. Finally, that structure serves a useful purpose. They duke it out at ringside in a very physical manner, and even if they’re covering for their old-age shortcomings, it makes for an intense match. Triple H back drops Undertaker to the floor in a sick spot and then takes a spinebuster through a table. They both begin selling like they’ve been wrestling for an hour, but it seems reasonable considering the physicality of the match. Triple H is clearly in the driver’s seat and has a great shot at winning. They go through an extended period of dramatic near falls that felt exciting live, but certainly lose their luster a bit with repeated viewings. It feels a lot like the first Taker/Michaels match from WM25. After kicking out of a dozen different finishers, the match concludes in the most satisfying way possible. Triple H goes for the sledgehammer but a moment of hesitation leads to Undertaker locking on the triangle choke. They struggle with this for a while and it’s clear that this is the very last trick up Undertaker’s sleeve. Triple H has no choice but to tap out! Undertaker has to be carried out afterwards, which is a rare sight in itself. I’m a frequent detractor of Triple H’s but I had to give them both their due this time. A magnificent match that justified ordering the event, ****¼.
The Undertaker vs. Triple H
Winner at 29:21: The Undertaker
Dolph Ziggler, Michelle McCool, and Layla (with Vickie Guerrero) vs. John Morrison, Trish Stratus, and Snooki
Without a Money in the Bank match this year, Ziggler and Morrison are counting their lucky stars to have been included on the show. The match is basically a divas tag, as the guys don’t really do anything as far as actual in-ring action goes. Most of the short match is Trish squaring off against McCool, which I actually found to be something of a novelty, as those two never had a proper match otherwise. Morrison’s big contribution is hitting Starship Pain onto Ziggler on the floor, as Snooki miraculously doesn’t botch anything on her way to pinning McCool after a handspring back elbow. Short enough to be inoffensive. Morrison’s forced victory smile is kind of amusing too, ½*.
Winners at 3:15: John Morrison, Trish Stratus, and Snooki
-We are treated to some big-time hype videos for John Cena and The Miz. Seriously, they should’ve aired these packages on TV, as alone it made Miz seem like a huge star.
Cena gets an elaborate entrance with a church choir. Miz gets inflatable letters spelling “AWESOME” on the stage. Oh well, I’m still in awe of that previous video package. Anyhow, the conventional wisdom going into this was that Cena was a lock to come out with the WWE Championship. However, we seem to be living in an age where WWE and TNA like to swerve for the sake of swerving, so like how Edge retained, Miz also retained. The match itself was absolutely nothing special, basically on par with most Raw television main events. This could partly due to the fact that this was Cena’s first ‘Mania main event where he wasn’t in the ring with someone much more experienced than himself (ie, Triple H or Shawn Michaels) and actually had to be the one carrying Miz. And while Miz has come a looooong way as an in-ring competitor, he still needs to have the right opponent if he’s going to have a great match. The other big problem here is that the match had about zero heat. The conflict heading into Wrestlemania was between Rock and Cena, while Miz was treated as a virtual after-thought. The crowd spent the entire match kind of just sitting on their hands waiting for Rock to show up. The match initially ended in a double count-out, which would have sucked. Luckily, Rock shows up and restarts the match, but then puts Cena down with a Rock Bottom, allowing Miz to retain. Average match at best, **¼.
The Miz © (with Alex Riley) vs. John Cena
Winner at 19:40 and still WWE Champion: The Miz
-Now we can’t end Wrestlemania on a down note, so Rock puts a hurting on Miz too. Rock stands tall to end the show. Lovely.
Final Thoughts: There were too many things about this Wrestlemania that rubbed me the wrong way to say I recommend the show overall. The good matches are destined to be available on other collections, so unless you’re a completist, there’s no reason to waste four hours of your life on about 90 minutes of quality entertainment. There was simply too much filler and that Cole/Lawler match is an insult to the business itself.
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