The Rock vs. John Cena was once in a lifetime. Until they did it the next year, but let’s not harp on that.
As mentioned in the WrestleMania 27 review, the feud stems back from when John Cena made comments about the Rock not loving the business since he wasn’t there week in, week out like he was. This caused some friction between the two, but things smoothed over enough as to where they worked it into WWE storylines. The Rock came back to WWE television in 2011, hosted WrestleMania, then promptly caused Cena to lose his main event match. Cena issued a challenge for the Rock at next year’s WrestleMania (this one) the night after and he accepted.
I never felt like I really got into the Cena/Rock program. There were some humorous segments, including The Rock down talking to a small kid he mistook for John Cena and calling him fruity pebble this and power ranger that. But was it a bona fide dream match everyone wanted to see? I don’t know the intricate business deals that WrestleMania 28 did off the top of my head. It was a very successful show, for sure. The casual audience more than likely loved the idea of Cena versus The Rock. But for me, not really. Cena’s never been that over to any of the hardcores where they feel like him against Austin, Rock, Hogan, whatever, would be a big deal, or even a great match. They didn’t have a great match here, at least from my memory. It was good. And I understood why they did it the following year. But I never felt all the ingredients were there to make it a truly memorable program, and I still feel that way a few years later. But then again, what do I know. This WrestleMania did gigantic business and big PPV numbers. This show was a success, whether I, or any of the hardcores, thought it was an interesting match or not.
Lilian Garcia came out to sing America the Beautiful. As always, she rocks it.
World Heavyweight Championship – Daniel Bryan (c) vs. Sheamus: Yes, the second biggest title in WWE is being defended in the opener. No wonder that got rid of it. Of course, we all know the story here. WWE wanted Sheamus to have a quick win over Daniel Bryan, thinking that he’d be pushed as this big dominant champion. Problem is, people didn’t like that, and the next night on Raw they made sure to let their voice be heard. Soon Daniel Bryan became a massive babyface getting strong reactions, while Sheamus floundered as champion and would lose it I think only a few months later. Not to blame WWE as they had an idea, but it just didn’t work out the way they wanted. NR
Team Raw was backstage. Miz started to talk and said they’d win tonight. They all blew off Miz like he was a major geek, which shows you how quickly people fall here in the WWE Universe. So sad when you fall out of Big Brother’s favor. Otunga came in and introduced John Laurinaitis. He said tonight would be the night he became general manager of both Raw and Smackdown.
Kane vs. Randy Orton: They tried to point to some random match on Smackdown where Kane lost to Orton as the reason for this match, but it sure comes across like they’re just here because they have no other place on the card. Fans were so into this match they chanted for Daniel Bryan. Eventually they got into it, and they had a fine match, but really it was just a match that was on the card because it was, no real emotion or anything to it. Kane, in midst of super push #1251251, wins with a chokeslam off the top rope. Better than you’d think a Kane vs. Randy Orton match would be, mostly thanks to the crowd who were into it. ***
They had a skit with a Deadliest Catch guy, and the punchline was that Mick Foley and Santino broke their crab legs with their sock puppets. Ron Simmons came in and said damn.
Intercontinental Championship – Cody Rhodes (c) vs. The Big Show: The story is that Big Show has never been that great at WrestleMania. Instead of just leaving it there, they decided to STORY it up by showing a video that made Big Show look like the biggest goof on Earth, full of embarrassing moments from other WrestleManias, including being at WWE New York going “WrestleMania, WOOO~!” in the crowd. That was actually pretty funny. Big Show dominates at first, but then Cody dodges a splash and works over Show’s knee. He goes for the disaster kick but Big Show counters with a spear and punches out Cody to win the title. **
They aired a video showing how great it is to be a diva. Maybe they need to re air that on television, if they have time during their seven or eight hours they broadcast weekly.
Beth Phoenix & Eve vs. Maria Menounos & Kelly Kelly: Faces started off strong, but a kick by Beth to Maria puts the heat on her. The crowd again started to cheer for Daniel Bryan. Kelly makes the comeback including a somersault thesz press off the top rope. She tags in Maria who slowly climbs to the top rope but Beth grabs her. Kelly helps her off as the two bounce Eve off the apron to the floor and Maria rolls up Beth for the win. It was fine. **
Shawn Michaels is interviewed. He says it’s the end of an era, either the streak ends or Triple H fails in doing what he couldn’t do. And that’s it!
78,363 is the announced number for WrestleMania 28 and Jim Ross comes out to announce this next match.
Hell in the Cell – Undertaker vs. Triple H: Shawn Michaels is the guest referee. Undertaker comes out with a hood, because as you remember, one of the vignettes for this match was that Undertaker cut his hair. So he takes it off and is now sporting a faux-hawk. Metallica’s “The Memory Remains” plays as the Hell in the Cell lowers. They proceeded to have a match, and…Triple H gets caught in the hells gate after Undertaker spinebustered into the steps, but Triple H lifts him up and slams him. Like last year, he takes the chair and destroys him repeatedly. He keeps saying “end it or I will” to Shawn. Undertaker tells him not to end it. He takes out a sledgehammer and repeatedly tells Shawn again to end it, but Undertaker tells him no. Triple H blasts Undertaker with the sledgehammer but Undertaker still kicks out. Triple H looks to strike him again but Shawn takes it away from him. Undertaker traps Shawn in the hells gate but Triple H hits him with the sledgehammer to protect Shawn. Undertaker kicks Hunter low and traps him in the Hell’s Gate again. Charles Robison comes in and counts a nearfall when Undertaker hits a chokeslam. Undertaker then chokeslams him because whatever. Shawn Michaels come back and superkicks Undertaker leading into a pedigree by Triple H but Undertaker KICKS OUT. That was actually a great moment. Triple H takes out the sledgehammer again but Undertaker comes back and hits a flurry of offense, including a snake eyes and a big boot. He hits the tombstone, but Triple H kicks out. He comes back with a pedigree, but Undertaker kicks out of that as well. Triple H still has the sledgehammer as Undertaker rises with a chair. He blasts Triple H with a chair and beats him up, but Triple H still kicks out. Triple H gets to his feet with the sledgehammer but Undertaker takes it away from him. Realizing he’s done, Triple H gives him the crotch chop as Undertaker blasts him with the sledgehammer. He slowly gets up to his feet, Undertaker does his throat cutting gesture and tombstones Triple H for the win. A tad over dramatic at times, and last year’s match was better, but this was still some good storytelling. ****1/4
Undertaker gets to his feet and pose as a huge fireworks display emerges. Slowly, Triple H gets to his feet and they all exit, supporting one another.
Mil Mascaras, Yokozuna, Ron Simmons, The Four Horsemen, Mike Tyson and Edge are induced into the Hall of Fame.
Josh Matthews is set to interview Flo Rida when Heath Slater walks in, completely underselling him. Flo Rida then comes in and Slater changes his tune, wanting to be in his big preformance later. Flo Rida said no. Slater started to become confrontational, but Flo Rida pushes him against a wall as Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks make fun of him.
Team Johnny (Drew McIntyre, Mark Henry, The Miz, David Otunga, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger) vs. Team Teddy (The Great Khali, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Booker T and Santino Marella): This is basically a “get everyone on the card” match. When did that become such a big priority? There have been plenty of WrestleMania cards where not everyone is on the show. It’s just a way with life. Do you want matches that mean anything, or do you just want everyone on the card? Considering the team captains here were DAVID OTUNGA and SANTINO MARELLA, I think you know the answer. They proceeded to have a match with everyone doing a bunch of spots without getting a lot of heat. In other words, total buffer match. Things heat up after a dive spot by multiple Team Teddy members. Aksana and Vickie Guerrero, who were at ringside on opposing sides, attack one another. Santino gets a hot tag and hits the cobra but Dolph Ziggler breaks it up. Zack Ryder comes in and runs wild. Eve (who was accompanying Ryder to the ring), for no logical reason, runs in and poses with Zack. He’s distracted, allowing Miz to hit the skull crushing finale out of nowhere for the win. **3/4
Zack gets up, but Eve low blows him as he crumples to the ground and she makes her exit. If you are ever signed to the WWE, never get yourself over if you aren’t supposed to. This will happen.
CM Punk was backstage warming up when Johnny Ace walked up to him all smiles since now he’s the GM of Raw and Smackdown. He told him that he wants a wrestling match, and if he gets DQ’d, Jericho wins the title. Punk was mad.
WWE Championship – CM Punk (c) vs. Chris Jericho: Chris Jericho was away for a while, then came back with weird promos saying it was the end of the world or something. Then he came back and did some weird promos, including coming out and saying nothing while people cheered him, and one coming coming to ring and trying to say something but breaking out into tears. I guess it was an attempt to do something, and what that something was we’ll never know as it was never explained on television. So anyway, STORY time. Jericho tried many times during the match to goad Punk into DQ’ing himself so he’d win the title, saying things like “YOUR SISTER IS A DRUG ADDICT” and “YOUR FATHER’S A DRUNK”. Instead of brushing them off like anyone with a title on the line would react, Punk instead got MAD each time, such as bringing in a chair. This detracted from a match that sounded perfectly fine on paper. Why they needed to add this stip and work the match in this manner on the day of the show is beyond me. They ended up having a decent match once the BS was out of the way. Punk hits the GTS but Jericho gets his leg on the ropes. Jericho comes back with a lionsault but Punk kicks out. Punk went for a top rope hurricanrana but Jericho transitions it into the walls of Jericho. Punk escapes, goes to the outside, then comes back with a springboard but Jericho comes back with a codebreaker for a nearfall. Punk rallies back and tries a GTS but Jericho escapes and locks in the Walls of Jericho again. Back and forth rollup switches turns into an anaconda vise by Punk. Jericho escapes once, but once he’s caught a second time he has no alternative but to tap. Great back and forth match. ****
Brodus Clay came out and danced, had a big number involving, in fact, everyone’s momma, I guess. Buffer stuff in other words. Then Flo Rida performed. I’ll be honest, I skipped through most of this.
The Rock vs. John Cena: Even though the WWE title match didn’t get a big ring introduction, this one did. I mean, I know it’s to make it seem like a big deal, and in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t matter, but I found it to be weird. Crowd did their usual mixed reaction to Cena, thought it was clear most people were behind the Rock. They proceeded to have a pretty good match. It looked like Rock was blown up very early into the match. The start of the match was mostly Cena in control, but Rock comes back with a DDT. He went for the people’s elbow but Cena takes him down and makes his comeback. AA attempt, but they double clothesline each other. Cena ends up hitting the AA but Rock kicks out. Rock comes back with a rock bottom but Cena kicks out. The thing I’m noticing here is that the closer we get to 2015, the more I’m realizing that every big match in WWE needs to have lots and lots of finishers. They are called finishers for a reason, people. Okada doesn’t need to hit the rainmaker 300 times in every big match he’s in. Cena tries another but Rock counters into a sharpshooter. People have ragged on this in the past but this is the first time I really noticed that, yeah, it’s no good. Cena gets to the ropes . Rock gets caught in the STF as he starts to fade out, but manages to come to and hits grabs the rope. Rock takes him down with a spinebuster and hits the People’s Elbow but Cena kicks out. Cena trips him into the turnbuckle and rolls him up for a near fall. Rock goes for the crossbody but Cena rolls over and fits the AA…but doesn’t get it. Cena gets cocky and tries for the People’s Elbow, but walks right into a Rock Bottom for the pinfall. This holds up better than I remember. ***3/4
Cena bails to the outside, looking sad as The Rock celebrates and more pyro and fireworks sounds off as the show closes.
Final Thoughts: A pretty damn good show in hindsight. All the key matches were good to great, and the midcard had it’s moments. The presentation and spectacle of everything was tremendous, and if anything, WWE knows how to put on a spectacular event when they try.