WWE WrestleMania 31
Sunday, March 29
Levi’s Stadium
Santa Clara, California

Tyson Kidd & Cesaro © vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) vs. Los Matadores vs.  The Usos

Rob McCarron (@ShakeThemRopes): The first of the pre-show matches, this tag title match had one obvious crowd favorite: Cesaro & Kidd. We had high flying, a great crowd response, the thirds getting involved, and an injured Uso being taken out in the first minute of the match. This was a fun, hot start to WrestleMania 31. I liked this better than the Jr. Tag title four-way at Wrestle Kingdom 9. Cesaro & Kidd winning certainly helped matters. ***½

Warren Taylor (@TeddyNoir): To bastardize LMFAO this match was spots, spots, spots. It was a great choice to get the crowd amped up and even better the Brass Ring Club retained! ***¼

Damon McDonald (@McDonaldMichael): Decent, hot opener and one that had all that you’d expect from a kick-off match. The match had a similar flavor to an opening New Japan junior tag match although it didn’t quite hit the mark for me. Didn’t hate it – didn’t love it…but the crowd was willing to go nuts for just about anything. Hopefully they know it is a marathon and not a sprint. It is a long night and I hope they leave something in the tank for some of the other less-sexy matches. **¾



Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Rich Kraetsch (@richkraetsch): This is how you do a geek battle royal. Sure, there were a bunch of guys who made no difference but my god the ones that did were awesome: Bo Dallas got his moment, Hideo Itami and of course the Mizdown turn which may be one of the top pops of the night. I would’ve had Mizdow win the whole thing because why not but hey, Big Show makes sense in the Andre the Giant lineage. He is his son after all.  **

Rob McCarron: This match gave me all the feels. Hideo eliminates Bo! Hideo eliminated by Show. Cesaro going for win #2! Cesaro eliminated by Show. Mizdow turns on Miz! Mizdow eliminated by Show. In the end, Big Show won, and I’m not at all discouraged. Fantastic battle royal that outdid the Royal Rumble. **½

Warren Taylor: The entire field got a jobber entrance, solid! Axelmania running wild for thirty seconds, again solid. Bo Dallas taking a victory lap, hilarious. Hideo Itami knocking Dallas the fuck out, epic. The Big Show getting revenge on Cesaro for last year was a nice touch as well. Mizdow finally turning face and almost pulling off the impossible was high drama. Alas, the Showster was dominant and fittingly won the battle royal named after wrestling’s first giant. ***

Damon McDonald: It is a Battle Royal. It isn’t going to get interesting until the end. WWE Battle Royal/Rumbles are usually fun to see who gets booted first and who are the last three guys in. The match should be used to set the table and establish new stars (like last year) but, nah, give it to The Big Show. This year Big Show got his revenge on Cesaro, Axel and Bo Dallas were the comedy relief, and The Miz / Mizdow did their thing to feud in the Spring. Yippee! **


WWE Intercontinental Ladder Match – Bad News Barrett © vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Daniel Bryan

Rich Kraetsch: The proper open to the WrestleMania was a perfect way to get the crowd going and set an excitement level for the rest of the card. Sure, it was a spotty, sometimes unsafe collection of car crashes but what the hell did we expect? Daniel Bryan winning was the best move and the ode to Ishii headbutt fest at the end was really fun to watch in this atmosphere. Loved it. ****

Rob McCarron: In the last ten-fifteen years, as health and safety has become more of a focus, fans have thought of these less as demolition derbies and more of huge health risks. The enjoyment for some is lessened because of the transition from “Oh, wow!” to “I hope he’s okay!” There were many “I hope he’s okay” points in this match, but the crowd was into the bout and Bryan’s victory opened the show in a positive manner. ***

Warren Taylor: Fact, all seven men are going to feel this match in the morning. Another fact, all seven men busted their tails for our enjoyment. Bad News Barrett’s Bull Hammer barrage was sick, as was Dean Ambrose being power bombed for our sins. In the end, Daniel Bryan used his head, literally, to earn his first run with the IC belt. ***¾

Damon McDonald: This match was go-go-go for ten minutes. Non-stop big bumps, dives, car crashes, broken ladders and (what seemed to be) hardway blood from Dean Ambrose. It was the match that many believed would steal the show and it is going to be hard to beat. The headbutt spot at the top of the ladder was pretty great and the fans go into the show super-charged with the Bryan win. Real solid, exciting way to kick off the main show and I bet those live would rate this match higher. Minus ¼ of a star for Zig’s french braid.  ****




Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins

Rich Kraetsch: We thought this might be a show-stealer/sleeper and, I’ll be damned, it was. I don’t think it’s ridiculous to say this was Randy Orton’s best match ever. Seriously, think about it, it is. The RKO out of the curb stomp was one of the best spots I’ve ever seen. I can probably count on one hand the number of times Randy Orton has done something that made me jump out of my seat. Add one to the list.  ****½

Rob McCarron: Elbow pads. RKO out of the curb stomp. Don’t let naysayers tell you this wasn’t good. Don’t let J & J involvement convince you they didn’t do all they could do. Orton wanted to steal the show tonight, and he may accomplished that with Seth Rollins. ****½

Warren Taylor: I will remember this match for three moments: Seth Rollins’ beautiful Asai Moonsault, Randy Orton’s hideous Cross Body and that RKO. Oh, that RKO. We all know what a freak athlete  Seth Rollins is but the Curb Stomp into the RKO spot showed just how special of a talent he really is. Even in defeat Rollins had another great match on the big stage and Orton more than held his own in a terrific back and forth match. ***½

Damon McDonald: The last five minutes of this match saved it from being a good RAW main event. The kick-out of each others big moves was nice leading up to the Curb Stomp into an RKO-outta-nowhere. That was beautiful to say the least and popped the room I was in. In fact, my phone blew-up with texts asking “Did you see that?” I did. You should too because you’ll be talking about it at work tomorrow. The match itself wasn’t doing it for me until those last five minutes, but those last 5 made it all worthwhile. OMG, I just gave Randy Orton four stars. ****


Sting vs. Triple H

Rich Kraetsch: Smoke + mirrors + “Bad Ass” Billy Gunn = a fairly decent WrestleMania sideshow. We knew it wasn’t going to be a good match but given the limitations of Sting, this may have been the best they could do. It’s hard to rate it as a match since it seemed to be more of a prolonged segment and most of the wrestling before the interferences was pretty generic. I don’t know, can I rate it poorly when it was just a sideshow? **

Rob McCarron: HHH won. Everything else was the greatest thing to happen in WWE since last year’s Daniel Bryan main event win at WrestleMania XXX. It was a surreal match for all the right reasons, and you know what, HHH is the one who’ll still be here after this so I’m completely fine with the finish. Although, I still may not fully believe it. ****

Warren Taylor: Triple H and Sting were a few minutes into a slow and steady match headed into ** ¾ or *** territory. Then the DX theme music hit. What followed was a sequence of overbooking that defied logic. I am fine with Sting taking DX. What I do not understand is why did the NWO aid Sting? This is the man that was their arch-enemy in WCW. Ok, so even with that the ship looked to be righted when Sting used the bat to break sledgie. Does Sting get his win after that incredible moment? Hell no. Old’ sledgie, saved Trips to put the final middle finger in the face of WCW. It started so well….

Damon McDonald: Put aside your critical views of the current WWE and the direction leading into this year’s Mania for one second. This was fun. The build to this match wasn’t good but come on , this had to have put a smile on your face. Was it a classic match? No, but what it did was a take you on a trip down memory lane with all the 90’s bells and whistles. Nothing wrong with that and I enjoyed it. No need for this thing to be any more than what it was and I am perfectly ok with that. It was a fine way to end the first half of the show. My only early complaint was that this match should have gone on at night…until Rich reminded me about the sun, the Earth spinning and that science wasn’t going to allow that to happen.  **¾



AJ Lee & Paige vs. The Bella Twins

Rich Kraetsch: It was what it was. Certainly not bad but not great. Bellas looked solid, Paige looked good and AJ was kind of along for the ride. A solid tag nothing more nothing less. **

Rob McCarron: The right Bella tapped, but the wrong diva won. Paige needed AJ to even the odds, but she didn’t need AJ to win. I realize the story last year was AJ vs Bellas, but more recently it had been Paige vs Bellas. In the end, it doesn’t matter much. A fine match for the time given, which wasn’t much. **

Warren Taylor: A solid tag match. Nothing more and nothing less. **

Damon McDonald: I am not going to sit here and pretend I watched this match. I didn’t. I used it as a beer / bathroom break. N/R


WWE United States Championship – Rusev © vs. John Cena

Rich Kraetsch: I had higher hopes here, thinking these two would have a real solid match and instead it was just kind of there. It could have been a victim of expectations and it could have been an issue with not following up the other great matches we’ve seen tonight, this just didn’t get going. The entrances were 5* with a uber-American John Cena video and Rusev coming out in a motherfucking tank. Cena won, as many expected, and ended Rusev’s winning streak, which is disappointing but it had to happen sometime. Oh well. **½

Rob McCarron: John Cena never disappoints at WrestleMania, and Rusev just proved why he belongs on the big stage more than most on the roster. He’s the brightest up and coming top star, in my opinion, and I hope he isn’t derailed by this loss. We went from having a Bryan Tour and Cena Tour on house shows to the US Title Tour and IC Title Tour! ***½

Warren Taylor: Rusev’s entrance will never be topped. Never. Unfortunately, Cena and Rusev could not top their Fastlane encounter. Do not get me wrong this was a fine contest. Watching Rusev improve over the last year has been one of the few bright spots in WWE. The big Bulgarian has a bright, bright future. Based on the ending of the match that future may not include Lana. In a way it is interesting to see John Cena’s career circle back around to being United States Champion and the direction of his reign will be interesting to watch. ***¼

Damon McDonald: If ring entrances were stars , Rusev coming in on a tank would have made this a five-star classic. Sadly, the bell rang and it sorta went downhill from there. It was a match that had me nodding away and could never seem to pick up steam. Even with the Lana / Rusev mix-up and the seeds being planted to a possible break-up, this really didn’t have a lot going for it at the end of the day. Cena wins in his Cena way, Rusev gets his first pinfall loss, and the kids go home happy. Me on the other hand…not so much.  I guess we’ll have to see if Cena can “Nakamura” the US Title. I am not holding my breath. **½



The Undertaker vs. Bray Wyatt

Rich Kraetsch: The crowd was surprisingly tepid during most of this. There wasn’t a large contingency cheering for Bray and all pops for Taker were best described as respectful. Crowd didn’t seem to care one way or another who won which is not good. The match was okay. Bray isn’t that good, Undertaker is super broken down and not capable of doing much anymore. Lots of making faces at one another, a few vintage Undertaker moves, what did we really expect here? **¾

Rob McCarron: Best Undertaker match this year. ***¼

Warren Taylor: Some will complain about the slow pace of this match and the choice of opponent. Both were wise choices. Taker cannot perform at the level he used to but this match managed to hide that somewhat. The important part is that hopefully a less strenuous match and opponent will not take much out of the Deadman. Not a great contest, but great for the longevity of Mark Calaway. **¼

Damon McDonald: Talk about letting the air out of the balloon. The crowd was so dead during this match and then…AND THEN…they grab a chinlock. Slow motion match where neither guy looked great. They both kicked out of each others finisher. They both did the typical look of shock after the kickout. You’ve seen it a hundred times before. Truth be told, if I never see that stupid crab-walk thing Bray does ever again, I’d be a happy man. Undertaker doing his thing and rising from the dead to get the win with a second tombstone. After the pretty amazing start to this show, we have lost some steam here. Not a good match at all and it is second from the top? Yawn. **


WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Brock Lesnar © vs. Roman Reigns

Rich Kraetsch: As long as the check clears, Brock is going to give you his all and this was no exception. Brock was far and away the star of this match and the true main eventer. The suplexes were crisp and I’m beginning to think his facials are all-time good.

Reigns was OK, he looked good taking a lot of damage from Brock, but it always felt like something weird was going to happen. He still doesn’t connect as a compelling babyface, crowd reaction aside. Reigns taking a pounding, popping up, hitting a few Spears and winning would’ve been so deflating. Thankfully, we didn’t get that. What we did got was extra-ballsy. Seth Rollins not only cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot, making this a triple-threat match, but the fucker won. To say I was stunned would be an understatement. I like the direction and I enjoyed the match. A fun way to end a great WrestleMania. ****

Rob McCarron: The main event of the biggest show of the year for WWE was won by a guy not advertised for the match. Seth Rollins winning a Triple Threat match, rather than a one on one versus the Brock-Roman winner, was certainly a surprise. I like the possibilities ongoing, but am unsure if this was best course of action. ***½

Warren Taylor: Simple story telling in wrestling is a lost art. Faced with a main event at the biggest show of the year that few wanted to see, the WWE went simple…for the majority of the match. Brock took Reigns to Suplex City for much of the fight. Reigns stayed in it by the skin of his teeth and just when things looked dire, a chance injury to Lesnar opened up an opportunity. As Brock bled, Reigns started rocking him with huge punches just like freaking Rocky Balboa. Then the spear. Kickout. Reigns goes for another spear and looks to achieve his destiny. Enter Seth Rollins. Rollins stormed out right in the middle of a well laid out match  to cash in the briefcase and, in a scenario never seen before, he stole the win in the main event at Wrestlemania.  Kudos to the WWE for laying out a match that hid Reigns’ weak points. Kudos to Lesnar for carrying him. And congrats to the WWE for having the balls to swerve us all. ****¼

Damon McDonald: Although it was odd to make it a three-way match, I am 100 percent OK with this finish and I really enjoyed this match. The appeal of Brock Lesnar is that, at any time, he could legit destroy anyone in the ring…and for that reason alone he gives every match a big-fight feel. Once again, a little (hard way?) color helps make a match. We saw it with Nakamura vs Fale, we saw it with AJ and Tanahashi and we saw it here. Was it a way for the WWE to get out of Mania without the entire crowd shitting all over Reigns? Yep. Does anyone think this was the original direction? Nope. Does it build for an interesting summer with Seth as your champ and Brock chasing? I think so. I am all in for this one. ****