WrestleMania XXX Results/Review

We decided to do our WrestleMania XXX review different than usual, instead of a breakdown of each move we decided to just give our thoughts on the match (the good, the bad, what we liked, etc.) and a star rating using the Dave Meltzer/Wrestling Observer Star Rating system. Another wrinkle is it’s not just one person reviewing WrestleMania, not even two but six of our esteemed staff members and one special guest joined us.

Before we get to the reviews, let me introduce our guest reviewers:

  • Jason Felix: Columnist on Voices of Wrestling, famous for his New Japan Pro Wrestling Power Rankings and his study on the WWE Linear Championship. Follow him on Twitter at @Felix824
  • Bryan Rose: Voices of Wrestling’s Raw reviewer and part-time New Japan Pro Wrestling recapper. Follow him on Twitter at @br26
  • Cullen Baldwin: Voices of Wrestling’s Ring of Honor Television and AAW Pro Television reviewer. Follow him on Twitter at @Steenalized
  • Joe Lanza: You know him by now, one-half of the Voices of Wrestling flagship podcast and esteemed New Japan Pro Wrestling reviewer. Follow him on Twitter at @JoeMLanza
  • Rich Kraetsch: That’s me! The worse-half of the Voices of Wrestling podcast, columnist, managing editor and all that other good stuff. Follow him on Twitter at @richkraetsch
  • Blake Murphy: Our special guest who has better credentials than the rest of us.  News Editor at The Score and also contributor to Raptors Republic, FanGraphs and The Leafs Nation. Follow him on Twitter at  @BlakeMurphyODC

Pre-show:  Usos (c) defeated The Real Americans, Rybaxel and Los Matadores 

Rich: Enjoyed this a lot although it was fairly basic. I liked the action more when all four teams were in the ring, mainly Usos and Matadores who did a great job with the big spots involving multiple people. It seemed to slow down when it got to only the two teams and the finish seemed a little flat. Surprised the breakup happened on the preshow and not on Raw tomorrow but I’ll take it. ***

Joe: Paint by numbers stuff until Rybaxel was eliminated. Ryback actually grinded things to a halt with some torturously long chin locks that don’t really have a place on something like a pre show match. Final stretch with Uso’s & Real Americans was fun. Crowd was on fire for everything, which helped. The match ultimately ended up being a set up for the Cesaro turn/push. ***

Bryan: This was probably the best opener in a long time. Very solid to start things off with some fun high spots with the Matadores and the Usos. When it came down to the Usos and the Real Americans, things really picked up with some hot near falls and the crowd was totally into this with some fun heat. The finish and the aftermath were perfectly done as well- Cesaro needed to do the job here so he can turn on Swagger and it worked perfectly, making him an instant babyface. Tremendous match for what it was and where it was on the card. ****

Jason: Great injustice early in the match, as the referee was allowing an illegal participant dressed in bull outfit to interfere at will.  If you allow him to interfere in little ways, what’s to stop him from using a flame thrower? Thankfully, Los Matadores were eliminated soon after.  The match then slowed down with the Ryback doing his best to not kill anyone.  Thankfully, the match really picked up at the end.  Cesaro remains amazing in everything, and despite taking the fall to end the match at 16:10, he lost nothing, as getting to Giant Swing Swagger got a huge pop.  Colter sold it so awesomely, screaming in anguished pain in the corner.  I just wish Zeb would have gotten the Swing as well. ***

Cullen: Los Matadores get to shine early, including a doomsday plancha by Torito onto the rest of the teams from the top to the outside. Swagger eliminated them a few moments later, ending that run. Crowd popped huge for Cesaro eliminating Ryback, who’s becoming a hell of a character. The Usos-Real American segment was the highlight. Crowd was split between the two. Cesaro landed some brutal uppercuts but the Usos outfox the Real Americans. Bonus: we finally got the Swagger/Cesaro split. I love them as a team, but hopefully this leads to the Cesaro push I’m itching for. ***

Blake: This was pretty formulaic as far as multi-team tags and pre-show matches go. High energy, a lot of chaos, and investment-free entertainment. The Usos winning made sense given the year they’ve had in-ring (and the complete lack of viability with the other teams), but this was really more about the post-match angle than anything. They could have just planted more seeds and had Swagger and Cesaro split in the Battle Royal, but being able to show that highlight beforehand adds a little more drama and, should he win, really sets Cesaro on this babyface turn in the right way. ***

  • 1. Daniel Bryan defeated Triple H 

Rich:  I enjoyed this a lot. It was your standard WWE main event featuring a few finisher kickouts, lots of selling, methodical pace but regardless it was a lot of fun. Bryan didn’t do a great job selling that the Pedigree may finish the match which hurt the kickout pop. I think this could have been a bit better but all things considering it did what it needed to and wasn’t offensive. ***1/4

Joe: Bryan was wearing furry kickpads for some reason. Trips nearly got Bryan killed twice, once on a shaky catch, and again when he didn’t take a tornado DDT off of the apron very well. Trips took control and went into methodical beatdown Triple Race mode (including a CROSSFACE CHICKEN WING), which was perfect for the story, but bad if you were hoping this would be the hot match that carried the card. The long heat segment started to lose the crowd. Bryan made his comeback, which included two german suplexes. He went for a third, but Trips countered with another crossface chicken wing. This got some groans, as this was not the kind of match the people wanted. JBL went into his “Triple H is going to be embarrassed by losing to a farm animal” routine, which is very annoying and hurt the match. So counter productive. Shocking lack of pop for a Pedigree kickout. The finish was a bit flat. Pretty good match, but not the show stealer I was hoping it would be. ***3/4

Bryan: This was a very technically based match with some great ring work. Triple H did a great job working on the arm. He even pulled out a tiger suplex of all things, so kudos to him. Bryan was great here selling and doing some great comebacks. You also have to give credit to Stephanie McMahon who was tremendous in her role outside of the ring. I understood the attack afterward as they wanted to build to the main event, so that was well done as well. Overall a fantastic bout with some great heat. ****1/4

Jason: The main event of WrestleMania is the opening match?  Ugh…think it would have told a better story this match right before the Championship Match.  Trips just blew his Mania 22 entrance out of the water.  The crowd was INSANE from Bryan.  I popped huge for the Crossface Chickewing from Trips.  Bryan took some insane bumps in the first 15 minutes…a Tiger Suplex to the back of his head and the front flip off the top to the floor, where Trips basically missed catching him.  I love how the crowd groaned when Bryan tried reversing the Crossface and Triple H rolled it to the center.  Just awesome that so many people believed that Bryan would lose this match.  Awesome spot with Triple H reversing the Running Knee (that needs a name…Boma Yes! anyone?) into a Spinebuster/Pedigree.  Bryan kicked out because Trips didn’t hit the paralyzing kick prior to hitting the Pedigree.  Cool spot at the end with Triple H trying desperately to hit the Pedigree and Bryan doing all he could to reverse it.  In the end, Bryan slipped behind and hit Boma Yes! to win the match.  I really enjoyed it.  It told a good story and had some nice submissions and near falls near the end.  ****1/4

Cullen: The crowd goes nuts when Bryan gets in some offense. Triple H completely kills the crowd on offense. He also did his belt to kill Bryan in a few spots. Then a third time on a release tiger suplex. Triple H’s bringing out the big guns tonight. Triple working methodical holds isn’t what people want, but Bryan fires back enough to keep them hot. As I say that, we get another extended submission. Bryan kicks out of a pedigree, something we almost never see, but the crowd didn’t buy it as a nearfall anyway. Bryan pulls the ‘upset’ and heads into the main event for this title shot, but not until Triple H and Stephanie ambush him one last time. The crowd was hot at times and Bryan had a great performance. Still went way too long. Great moment, not a great match. **3/4

Blake: What in the blue hell was on Daniel Bryan’s feet? Aside from that, there isn’t much to nitpick with here. Triple H’s entrance (hat tip to Game of Thrones) was cool, the crowd was on point, and the story, while obvious, was well-told. Triple H did his worst, and Bryan kept fighting through it, eventually hanging on long enough to steal the win. Bryan’s selling was excellent, Hunter’s offense looked crisp, and Stephanie was fantastic, as usual, as the ringside antagonist. The point here wasn’t necessarily to have a five-star match, it was to build additional drama for the main event later on while continuing the Bryan-Authority story, and it did an excellent job of both. They also had some pretty creative reversals. My only complaint here is the announcing, as calling this ‘the most embarrassing loss of Triple H’s career’ and ‘the biggest upset in Wrestlemania history’ do a pretty big disservice to Bryan. I know it’s part of the story, but given what Bryan has done and who he’s beaten, it’s silly. I digress. Really solid match to get things going. ****

2. The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns) defeated Kane and The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn)

Rich:  Perfect squash match, exactly what it needed to be. The Shield looked awesome and I think regained much of the momentum they lost in the build to Mania. The high flying, triple power bomb it was all awesome. Perfect squash. **

Joe: Squash, which was exactly what it should have been. No complaints from me, other than The Shield getting lost in the booking at the wrong time and ending up in this position to begin with.  *
Bryan: This was really short. Came off to me like someone got their time cut drastically. It was pretty much the Shield dominating for 3-4 minutes or however long it lasted. It was extremely short, but it was nothing but action and the Shield were all fine here. **

Jason: Total destruction by The Shield….which is exactly what should have happened if they aren’t breaking up any more.  Um…can’t really say much more other than the Shield should dominate like this for a while.  It’ll sure be fun if they do. ¼*

Cullen: The Shield interrupt Road Dogg before he can get his spiel in. Not only that, but they hit up the Bullet Club for some gear. Chaos early on, everybody laying each other out. Ends up being a pure squash where the Shield steamroll the Authority. I’m totally fine with that. N/R

Blake: This was exactly what it should have been – a total squash of three older stars by The Shield. The interruption of the Outlaws entrance, the stereo suicide dives and the 3-on-2 cerebrus bomb all stand out as highlights, but it’s hard to walk away not feeling like this was a complete waste of The Shield. They’ve had a better year than almost anyone, and while this served to re-establish that they are now faces and not likely to break up, this seemed like a real waste of their talent. *

3. Cesaro won by last eliminating Big Show

Rich: I mean it’s a battle Royal so what do you expect but I love the result and thought this worked well. I had no idea Cesaro was even in the match until about the halfway point but either way I loved it. The finish was amazing and definitely a WrestleMania moment. Poor Yoshi Tatsu. i really enjoyed the Kofi spot, I’m amazed what they can come up with for that each Rumble and Battle Royal. **

Joe: This was the Kofi & Cesaro show. 30 men is too many people for one ring, so the match was trash until the ring cleared a bit. Poor Yoshi Tatsu was dumped roughly five seconds into the match. He comes across as such a nice dude on Twitter, and sadly he doesn’t realize he has zero chance of ever making it. The Kofi spot was just insane. Cesaro uppercutting dudes left & right was cool. Slamming Andre over the top is an instant WrestleMania moment. The fans want it, so let’s hope they run with this guy. He can be a top star if they chose to allow him to become one. **1/2

Bryan: Yoshi Tatsu needs to just leave at this point if he’s the first geek being thrown out. It’s just sad as he has so much potential, but WWE has zero interest in doing anything with him but won’t release him. Really weird. It was also sad seeing guys like Justin Gabriel, Zack Ryder and Tyson Kidd in there when they haven’t even been on regular TV in months. I had no idea David Otunga was still on the roster either. The battle royal itself was interesting enough in the final moments, with Cesaro getting a big win and cementing himself…for now, until someone decides to pull the rug from under him. But I’ll be positive and hope for the best. ***1/4
Jason: Cesaro is the star on the match for the second time tonight.   Cesaro got a standing ovation from my friends as he bodyslammed Andre….er Big Show over the top rope to win.  I was upset he didn’t Swing Big Show.  Other than that, it was a decent battle royal for a battle royal.  Cesaro is going to be huge.  Other than that, we spent most of the match trying to figure out who all was in the match.  There was just too many people in it for there to be anything of note for most of the match.  Kofi had a cool spot, landing on the floor but his feet stayed on the steps.  Honestly…it’s been five minutes since the match ended and I can’t remember anything else from it. **

Cullen: Yoshi Tatsu gets a Wrestlemania payoff! And this match goes as well as you’d expect it to for him. Someone had to go out first, right? This match is a mess, but it’s a battle royal so I love every moment of it. Cesaro eliminating Rey with a forearm as Rey tried to springboard into the ring got a huge pop from everyone in my place. This got awesome once the ring cleared out. Del Rio tries to eliminate Sheamus with a cross armbreaker, but that didn’t go so well. Cesaro and Big Show are the last two. CESARO STEALS IT! Huge body slam, lifting Show up and dropping him over the top! The living room went nuts for that. I don’t know how to rate a battle royal against real matches. **** by battle royal standards, N/R otherwise.

Blake: Jinder Mahal looks so weird, like a totally different guy. OTUNGA. Big Show and SHeamus were the last entrants, which obviously makes them look like early favorites (yawn). I like the idea of honoring Andre, and this serves as a “maybe we should get these guys a Wrestlemania payday” cool-down filler as well as any. JBL just called Fandango over Y2J the biggest Wrestlemania upset ever, literally minutes after they said the same about Bryan over HHH. Remember how hot Ziggler was at this time last year? CESARO has a heck of a minute, uppercutting Rey out, then Ziggler, then tossing Kofi a mile for his usual “feet didn’t touch the floor” spot. Holy hell is JBL having a bad night on commentary. Cesaro and Big Show are the final two. HOLY HELL, Cesaro gets Show up for the scoop slam and TOSSES HIM with it. Wow, what a moment for Cesaro. A true star-making night for Claudio, what a showing for him. Really excited for this face run. CESARO

4. John Cena defeated Bray Wyatt

Rich: Meh. It was fine but I think we answered the question if Cena could carry Bray… He can’t. It wasn’t horrendous by any means, it was a good “story” match but it felt like more of B-show main event than a WrestleMania match. The whole John is a good guy story isn’t something I can sink my teeth into but I respect what they went for. While I liked the spots with Harper and Rowan when they integrated them, I felt they took away from the match overall and it didn’t make sense that they wouldn’t just run in and destroy Cena whenever. I’m usually not a fan of the “Spider” spot but it was done to perfection here, way better than when he tries to crawl, it’s more creepier when Bray pulls it out to spook his opponent. The feud probably continues and Bray gets his win eventually but I would’ve liked to see him go over here. **3/4

Joe: The Wyatt entrance was one of the best ever. Surprised Cena was given nothing special. The most interesting subplot coming into the show for me was whether Cena could carry Wyatt to a great match. Underneath the gimmick, Wyatt has not been very good in the ring outside of one match with Bryan, but Bryan can have a good match with anybody. The work was fine, not great, not bad, but this was too theatrical for my tastes. Part of the problem is I don’t find Bray Wyatt all that interesting as a character, and part of the problem was the “story” was kind of silly. Cena has been beating people with chairs his entire career, but he can’t bring himself to level Wyatt, who has made his life hell for months? It was OK for what it was, but Wyatt leaves plenty to be desired and Cena was not at his best. I had no problem with Cena winning winning the match. ***

Bryan: Wyatt’s entrance was cool. The beginning on the match was not. It was REALLY boring to be perfectly honest. Nothing bad, but nothing…you know, interesting. Things eventually picked up and they had a solid enough match. The story of the match itself was fine as well, with Wyatt taunting Cena at several points in the match to lay him out to become a “monster” but Cena refused. I think the ending was fine. Wyatt didn’t look like a geek in losing and he’s over enough that I don’t think he was hurt at all by a loss. Cena’s going to be around for years to come, so the hero winning the match against the weirdo heel was a fine finish for me. The first half of the match was boring but it picked up enough to be a fine match overall. ***1/4

Jason: Bray Wyatt’s entrance was amazing…just amazing.  Everything else was downhill from there.  I didn’t understand the psychology…why did Cena need to keep attacking Harper and Rowan all match?  Innocent bystanders!!!  Just a dull match.  The announcers talked in a slow and somber tone most of the match.  For the most part, I don’t like when they do that because it doesn’t add drama to me…it lulls me to sleep.  They just felt awkward the entire match. Slow and clunky.  This just didn’t do anything for me at all.  Just didn’t feel anywhere near the level a John Cena Mania match needs to be.  It’ll be interesting to see where they go with Cena and Wyatt from here. *1/2

Cullen: Bray gets the coveted live performance for his entrance. Now his entrance is even more haunting than usual. Bray kneeling in the center of the ring and screaming at Cena to finish him gave me chills. Slow match. Not boring, just slow. Cena, to his credit, shows emotions I’d never seen him use before as Bray tried to make him snap. He wanted to slam the stairs into Bray, desperately wanted to, but couldn’t bring himself to do it. Cena getting the win genuinely surprises me, I thought Bray was going over here. Still, I enjoyed this a lot. I would have loved it if it were a Funk and Hansen-esque sprint, but they can’t all be that. Slow and deliberate but purposeful and entertaining. ****

Blake: Like always, the video work was fantastic; quibble with the choice of Eminem if you want, but it worked with the video. Ditto for a guy like Bray Wyatt having live music; it’s silly in kayfabe, but it was great for effect. If this feud continues, the fact that the crowd was swaying and signing for Bray is definitely fuel for Cena promos. As far as the match, they did a really strong job telling the story right up until the end – Cena wrestling with how extreme to get, Wyatt clearly not caring nearly as much about the outcome as the psychological warfare, and Cena doing a great job acting perturbed with Wyatt, it was all good. The final sequence felt botched, or at least not as smooth as they would have liked, but it didn’t take away from the quality of the match. I disagree with the call for Cena to go over, especially without him having to ‘snap’ to do it, but it is what it is when it comes to Cena. Hopefully this doesn’t stall Wyatt’s momentum, but at the very least he’s shown multiple times now he can go when the setup is right. ***

Continue to Page 2 for thoughts on Lesnar vs. The Undertaker, the triple threat main event and fan feedback

Author: Rich Kraetsch

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