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WWE WrestleMania XXII
April 7th 2013
-This is a LIVE review of the event as I was there in person.
-From East Rutherford, NJ. Our hosts are Michael Cole, JBL, and Jerry Lawler.
-First off, I just want to point out that this crowd of 80,000 was pretty hot for most of the show. From what I hear, those watching at home thought the crowd was dead, but that was due to this being an outdoor show and I guess the noise we were making just went right out the top. I was sitting in a slightly upper section and there were many times that loud reactions to specific spots just echoed and spread across the building.
Wade Barrett © vs. The Miz
This match took place on the Youtube preshow with Josh Mathews and Matt Striker on commentary. Miz picked up the win in about 4 minutes. The sun was still shining and the crowd was still filing in, so I don’t recall much crowd heat for this one. The action was about what you’d expect from these two for the time allotted. There was a pop for Miz winning the title, but I think that’s due to live crowds always wanting a title change. The rematch on Raw the next night was much better, even with Miz getting flustered by a hostile crowd. This one gets a * for being rushed and unremarkable.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champions: The Miz
-The official pay-per-view kicks off with a video package narrated by New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, recapping the damage suffered to the area by Superstorm Sandy and the following recovery. This seemed to replace “America, The Beautiful” which was missing for the first time that I can recall.
Sheamus, Randy Orton, and Big Show vs. The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns)
I was surprised to see this one open the show. The live crowd was really into The Shield and treated them like stars. The Sheamus super team seemed ready to plow through The Shield, but things settled into a nice opener. This obviously was not going to live up to the standards set by prior six man Shield matches, but they were not counting on this to steal the show or anything. The finish came down to Big Show, Orton, and Sheamus not being able to play nice. Sheamus needed a tag and Orton stole it from Show, which lead to their downfall (though Orton did get to catch Rollins with an RKO from a springboard). Show beat up his teammates to mostly crowd approval. This one gets **½ for being a great way to debut The Shield on Wrestlemania.
Winners @ 10:35: The Shield
Ryback vs. Mark Henry
Both guys got a pop during their entrances but then the match itself died a slow, painful death. Henry’s neverending Bear Hug was the final bullet. Henry picked up the win by blocking the Shellshock by grabbing the ropes and falling on top of Ryback. There was an audible gasp in the section I was sitting in. This was probably the only real surprise match outcome of the night. Ryback got his heat back by hitting Shellshock on Henry after the match. This gets a ½* for being a long, boring match to sit through.
Winner @ 8:03: Mark Henry
WWE Tag Team Championship:
Team Hell No (Kane and Daniel Bryan) © vs. Dolph Ziggler and Big E Langston (with AJ Lee)
This was one of the most enjoyable six minute matches I’ve ever seen. I was nervous about this one getting shafted for time, and they teased Bryan beating Ziggler in seconds after a kiss from AJ, in tribute to Bryan’s humiliation from the year before. Everyone played their parts well in this one and they packed a decent amount of action in the time they were given. I personally just loved being there live to finally see a real Bryan match on Wrestlemania. Kane choke slammed Ziggler to set him up for a Bryan diving head butt. This one gets **½ for being short and sweet.
Winners @ 6:35 and still WWE Tag Team Champions: Team Hell No
Fandango vs. Chris Jericho
Fandango got an extra special entrance with an entourage of dancers and fireworks. Jericho also got a spiffy entrance with fireworks going off above the stage. Jericho and the former Johnny Curtis worked well together and put on a good show. I had a feeling that Jericho was putting Fandango over, but he did so in a way that didn’t hurt himself in the process. Jericho kicked out of Fandango’s flying leg drop but later on got rolled up. The next night at Raw would prove to be more memorable, as the crowd started the new phenomenon of chanting Fandango’s music. This match ended up being a solid *** affair that should age well if Fandango ends up sticking around.
Winner @ 9:33: Fandango
World Heavyweight Championship:
Alberto Del Rio © (with Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. Jack Swagger (with Zeb Colter)
Swagger and Colter rode a cart to the ring during the prematch hype video. I figured they were practicing so they could reenter at the right time (similar to a time I saw Undertaker ride the motorcycle to the ring years earlier). Instead, they were rushed for time, and the World title challenger got shafted for a televised entrance. I honestly remember very little of this match other than the crowd waiting for the presumed Dolph cash-in. The action was fine, but would have felt right at home on any given house show. Del Rio pulled out the victory, and no one seemed to care. Sadly, this one tops out at about **.
Winner and still World Heavyweight Champion: Alberto Del Rio
The Undertaker vs. CM Punk (with Paul Heyman)
Undertaker had a suitably epic entrance as he rose from a pit with hands reaching out for him. Punk was typically the crowd’s hero here, but I sensed an appropriate level of respect for the Dead Man. I’ll be honest, I was expecting a mediocre match, due to Punk being beat up and Undertaker’s physical condition. I was blown away by how good this was. It had heated up nicely even before Punk tried putting Undertake through the announce table with a flying elbow drop from the top ropes. Punk had a field day mocking Undertaker, and even successfully delivered “Old School” off the ropes. Even though Undertaker going over was a sure bet, the live crowd was happy to go along for the ride and dare to hope that Punk could pull off the impossible. Undertaker scored the win with the Tombstone Piledriver. This was by far the best match on the card and I was pleasantly surprised to see this one hold up well in comparison to the modern Undertaker classics, ****¼.
Winner @ 22:08: The Undertaker
Triple H (with Shawn Michaels) vs. Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman)
On the flip side of Undertaker/Punk, I had optimistic expectations for this one. I enjoyed their Summerslam match more than most people and I thought they would set out to top it here. Sadly, Triple H got burned by the dry ice being used for his entrance (it looked caked around his waist) and supposedly Lesnar got knocked loopy early on in this. The crowd was pretty dead while they had a meandering brawl that didn’t really seem to build up to anything. The highlights sadly included Shawn Michaels taking an F5 and later dropping Paul Heyman with Sweet Chin Music. The final stretch had Triple H locking Lesnar in the Kimura for several minutes and I was ready to roll my eyes if Lesnar tapped. They smashed off the steel steps, which Triple H used for a nasty Pedigree to pull off the win. I really wanted to like this match and it ended on a compelling note at least, **¾.
Winner @ 23:58: Triple H
-The advertised Brodus Clay, Tensai, and Funkadactyls vs. The Rhodes Scholars and Bella Twins match never took place. It got cut due to time. I’m not sorry that we missed out on it, I just wonder how difficult it would have been to throw it on the preshow, which had 4 minutes of wrestling in the entire hour.
The Rock © vs. John Cena
On paper, a legitimate Hollywood star vs. the biggest wrestling star of the era is the biggest match you could imagine. Therefore, it was a bit surreal that the crowd did not care about this one whatsoever in the early going. The match started out slow (you know, to set the stage for a hot finish) and they were met with audible “boring” chants. There were also scattered chants for Ziggler, despite his briefcase not being eligible for the WWE title. Things picked up and by the time they were trading Rock Bottoms and Attitude Adjustments, they had won over the crowd. I loved the bit where Cena started mocking the Peoples’ Elbow like last year, which cost him big time, and it created a suspenseful moment (Cena was ready for Rock to pop up this time). The crowd was hungry for a Cena heel turn that never came and even I was a little disappointed by the show of respect at the end. Still, Rock holding Cena’s arm will likely go down as on the iconic moments in Wrestlemania history. I like this match more than most, I’d go as high as calling it ***¾.
Winner @24:01 and new WWE Champion: John Cena
Final Thoughts: I had a great time at Wrestlemania and am seriously tempted to make the drive to New Orleans for Wrestlemania XXX. I really admire that this Wrestlemania was the grand conclusion to several storylines, some of which had been building for many months (or in the case of Cena/Rock, years). With the next night’s Raw being a reset show, it makes this Mania seem even better in hindsight, like it was the end of a storytelling era. I know a lot of people were down on this show for the lack of surprises, but I think history will be kind to it. Thumbs up!
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