Live from Atlanta, GA.
Your host is THE ROCK. Plus Josh Matthews & Jerry Lawler & Michael Cole, who is trapped in a GLASS CASE OF EMOTION.
Smackdown World title: Edge v. Alberto Del Rio
Edge has Christian with him, and ADR has pre-Funkasaurus Brodus Clay, which is kind of a weird role to see him in now. They slug it out to start and Del Rio goes to the arm right away, but Edge dumps him. He charges and runs into the railing, allowing Alberto to further beat on the arm, and back in for two. Del Rio chokes away on the ropes and pounds the arm again for two. To the armbar, but he misses a blind charge and hits the floor, allowing Edge to follow with a flip dive. That had to be killing him. Back in, Del Rio brings him in with a top rope armdrag for two. Edge comes back with a leg lariat as this thing is not clicking in the least. Edge with the flapjack for two, but Del Rio goes back to the arm and tries the cross-armbreaker, but Edge counters into the Edge-O-Matic for two. They trade rollup attempts and Del Rio rolls into the armbreaker, but Edge makes the ropes. Edge to the top, but Del Rio brings him down with an enzuigiri for two. Christian brawls with Brodus to kick off a feud that went nowhere, and Edge cradles for two. Impaler sets up the spear, but it misses and Del Rio gets the armbreaker, which should have been the finish. Edge fights through and cradles for two, however, and gets his Cloverleaf thing. Spear finishes at 11:14. Pretty blah opener, especially for a World title match, although obviously we now know the circumstances behind it. **1/2 Clearly the finish should have been Del Rio tapping him out to the armbar and then going on to drop the belt to Randy Orton after Extreme Rules, because this way Del Rio never got any momentum behind his main event push. And really, Edge’s offense is much more suited to a big stadium atmosphere than Del Rio’s arm work was, which also caused the match to suffer. Edge and Christian, sore winners, get revenge for winning by wrecking ADR’s car with crowbars. What did he do to warrant that? There’s offbeat shenanigans and then there’s outright vandalism!
Cody Rhodes v. Rey Mysterio
It’s Captain America for Rey this year. And of course this is the blowoff for Cody’s Dr. Doom gimmick, which lasted a surprising amount of time and did very well for him. Rey gets a rana from the top right away, but Cody puts him down and pounds him in the corner. Disaster kick gets two back before it was a finish for him. Rey with a flying headscissor attempt, but Cody reverses into the Alabama Slam for two. He chokes Rey out and goes to a nerve pinch, and they head to the top for a rare delayed superplex from Rhodes. That’s something you don’t see every day. He goes for Crossroads to finish, but Rey dumps him to give us TWO Michael Cole-isms at once: “Building momentum” and “Creating separation”. Back in, Rey with a pinning combo for two. Rey tries the Rube Goldberg bulldog, but Cody counters into a suplex for two. Rey sets up for the 619, but Cody catches him and gets the catapult for two. He pulls Rey’s knee brace off, but that allows Rey to recover with a moonsault for two. Rey removes Cody’s mask in response, and hits the 619 to the NAKED FACE, but the flying splash hits knee. Rey puts on the evil mask himself (although judging by his past problems with masks at WM, this might be a mistake) and gets a diving headbutt for two. The Atlanta crowd now gets behind Cody, who retrieves Rey’s kneebrace in a nice tit-for-tat moment, waffles him with it, and finishes with Crossroads at 12:00. That was a clever finish that was actually explained well by the announcers for once. I heartily endorse this event or product! ***1/4
Meanwhile, Teddy Long and Snoop Dogg audition various doofuses, leading to Roddy Piper laying out Zack Ryder while singing “Friday” and Hornswoggle rapping. Well this was certainly a use of time.
Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel, Ezekial Jackson & Wade Barrett v. Big Show, Kane, Santino & Kofi Kingston
AKA the “Get a bunch of people a payday match”. Amazingly, Slater & Gabriel were the tag champions just a year ago, and Barrett was the IC champion. The guys trade finishers to start and Show punches out Slater for the pin at 1:33. And that’s that. That kind of goes against Cody Rhodes’ argument about Show not winning at Wrestlemania. ½*
Meanwhile, The Rock runs into Mae Young, Eve Torres and Steve Austin.
Randy Orton v. CM Punk
Punk cost Orton the WWE title at Royal Rumble, due to Orton punting Punk TWO YEARS BEFOREHAND. Now that’s a grudge! And they say chicks don’t let things go easily. They quickly brawl to the floor and Punk boots the stairs into Orton’s knee, then comes in with a flying bodypress for two. Punk works on the knee, but Orton comes back with a neckbreaker. Punk catches a high kick and does a sort of jawbreaker onto Orton’s knee, and that gets two. Orton is kinda way overselling the knee for 3 minutes into a match. Punk with the running knee for two, and he sets up for the GTS, but Orton fights out and tries the RKO. Punk manages to counter that with a high kick for two. Punk to the top again, but Orton brings him down via the crotch and sets up for a superplex, giving us a great look at a “Randy Orton Orange-O-Meter” sign. That man really is quite orange. Punk survives the superplex and rolls out, wrapping Orton’s knee around the post and getting a ringpost figure-four in the process. Back in, he goes back to the knee and here’s where the announcers should have been like “Orton is in pain with every offensive move he makes!” instead of 5 minutes ago. Punk controls with a leglock, but Orton fights out and gets the powerslam. Backdrop suplex gets two. Punk boots him down and snaps on the Anaconda Vice, but Orton rolls him into the ropes to break. From there it’s the draping DDT and he sets up for the RKO, but Punk is down for a while so he changes his mind and opts for the punt instead. The knee gives way on the run-up, however, which is an interesting twist, but he was just suckering Punk in. RKO is blocked by Punk and he slides out of the ring in a nice bit of wordless acting from both guys. Punk comes in with a flying clothesline, but that’s reversed into the RKO at 14:49. Would have worked better if he had punted Punk to end the feud, but this was a pretty great finish as is. ***1/2 I know this one didn’t get much love at the time, but I think removed a bit from the disappointment surrounding the show it was a really good match where they delivered the best they could. And really, Orton did some good goldbricking at the end there and Punk’s facials were tremendous. Of course, both guys would end up as World champions later in the year, too.
Meanwhile, Mean Gene meets with the Rock and introduces him to John Cena’s #1 fan, Pee Wee Herman. About as hilarious as it sounds, maybe even less.
Michael Cole v. Jerry Lawler
Steve Austin is of course the referee here as they cram in every overbooking trick they can. Cole hides out in the Cole Mine while Lawler beats up Jack Swagger and then runs Cole’s face into the plexiglass. Lawler kicks Cole’s ass for a while in the box and they head in to start the match for real, but Swagger attacks Lawler from behind. An anklelock allows Cole to take control right away and work on the ankle. Cole goes up for a Swaggerbomb, but then opts for one off the first rope instead, and that gets two. Cole looks ridiculous out there, but I guess that’s partly intentional. Although this is insanely long already for this kind of match. The crowd starts a “boring” chant as Cole pulls down a strap and applies an anklelock, but Lawler fights that off without breaking a sweat. Lawler stomps a mudhole, prompting Swagger to throw in the towel, but Austin wants none of that. Swagger DEMANDS that the match be stopped, and that earns him a stunner. Cole pleads with Steve for his life, but Lawler makes his comeback and beats on him as this thing just keeps GOING. Lawler busts out the dropkick in honor of his Wrestlemania debut and goes up with the fistdrop for two. And he applies his own anklelock for the submission at 13:51. They gave this FIFTEEN MINUTES?!? Should have been 3 minutes, tops, with Cole getting his offense and Lawler laughing it off and beating the crap out of him to finish. Booker T leaves his announce position and gets a stunner afterwards, just because. BUT WAIT. It’s the Dusty Finish, as the Anonymous GM chimes in and reverses the decision to really kill this thing dead. -***
HHH v. Undertaker
I was listening to the year-end awards show on the Observer site, and Dave and Bryan were talking this up as even better than the Punk-Cena ***** classic from Chicago. HHH’s extended “For Whom The Bell Tolls” intro is pretty awesome, as is the Undertaker’s Johnny Cash theme. Probably cost a ton of money just for the entrances alone, though. HHH slugs away in the corner to start, but gets tossed and they brawl outside. Taker clears a table right away, but HHH spears him into the Cole Mine (now there’s a concept that thankfully died a quick death) and heads back in. They exchange fisticuffs again and Taker gets the flying clothesline, but HHH blocks the old school ropewalk and sends him to the floor. Into the railing, as the upside of only working once a year becomes evident. Hey, if you’ve got the financial security to be able to afford only match per year, you might as well leave it all on the table so to speak. HHH is already trying a Pedigree on the table, but Undertaker backdrops him to the floor instead. JR is worried about his internal organs, so you know it’s painful. The replays show that, yeah, HHH just took a flat-back bump off the table and onto the mat. Ouch.
HHH is standing, so Undertaker hits the annual Wrestlemania tope suicida, thankfully not killing himself this year. He sets up the stairs but can’t hit anything as we get more and more teases and setups, but he charges instead and HHH counters with a spinebuster through the Spanish table! Holy shit, they’re just letting it all hang out. Back in, Taker catches him with a chokeslam for two as JR is really talking up the end of the streak. UT wants the Last Ride, but HHH slugs out of it and then pounds him in the corner. Oh, that’s not smart, Cerebral Assassin. Taker indeed tries the powerbomb, but HHH escapes and sets up for the Pedigree, which Undertaker escapes, but HHH gets another spinebuster for two. That was a great sequence of two guys knowing each other. He grabs a chair, but Taker kicks it back in his face and then just UNLOADS with it. Safely on the back, I should note. However, he pauses for dramatic effect, and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for two. HHH sets up for a superplex, but this time Taker does hit the Last Ride, and that gets two. Tombstone time, but even with the pose it only gets two. The chair is still around, so Taker picks up HHH and tries again, but this time it’s reversed into a DDT on the chair and both guys are out. They both pull themselves up on the ropes in a cool visual of two guys fighting through it to continue beating each other up, and HHH recovers first with the Pedigree for two. Kicking out of two Pedigrees? Is this guy CM Punk or something? And it’s a THIRD one for two. Holy cow.
HHH grabs the chair and goes all Steve Austin-at-WM17 on him, but Taker is old and stubborn and won’t stay down. So it’s a VICIOUS chair to the face, and UT got his hands up so fast that it looked unprotected. The crowd’s kinda freaking out a bit now because Taker is getting the BEATS put on him, and he can’t even do the zombie situp. HHH suggests, gently, that Undertaker stay down again, but Taker keeps fighting, so HHH resignedly gives him the famous tombstone…for two. If I was watching this live, I would have bet money that it was going to be the finish and the streak was over. So with all rational options exhausted, HHH gets the trusty sledgehammer to end it for good. However, HHH gets sucked into the gogoplata while trying to bash Taker’s head in. I hate it when that happens. HHH is equally stubborn and won’t tap, instead grabbing his hammer and threatening one last skull-bashing before finally dropping it and then tapping out at 28:54. It definitely wasn’t as good as Punk-Cena (one of the greatest matches of all-time), but it certainly wasn’t “two guys hitting finishers and then laying around” like others have accused. They were two guys who wanted to let it all hang out at Wrestlemania, with Undertaker stubbornly refusing to die (great choice of song to reflect that, even!) and HHH hitting everything he had and then letting his temper force himself into the one mistake that allowed the beaten Undertaker to win. I also the minimalist approach to it, as it gets portrayed as a brawl with a bunch of shortcuts, but it was really only one chair and one table and the rest was the in-ring finishers doing all the damage. Not something I’d want to watch over and over, but it was definitely something that deserved the viewing at least once. Not the Match of the Year by any means, but I’d call it a solid second place. ****1/2 The pace was slow, however, because Undertaker really is an aging and beat up old guy. So it’s obviously a very effective role for him to play during a match.
Dolph Ziggler, Layla & Michelle McCool v. John Morrison, Trish Stratus & Snooki
Man, Laycool just disappeared off the face of the earth, didn’t they? McCool, who looks about 90 pounds here, slugs it out with Trish to start and then counters the Matrix with a stomp to the gut. Trish reverses the Styles Clash into a facebuster, and tries the headstand headscissors, but ends up tumbling to the floor with Michelle instead. She keeps coming with a double clothesline onto Laycool and a rollup of McCool for two, then lays her out with the chick kick for two. Dolph brawls with JoMo, which leads to a Starship Pain on the floor, and Snooki comes in with a handspring elbow on McCool and a splash to finish at 3:48. Just time filler in a show that didn’t need any more filler, but nothing offensive. * Of course, this match ended up helping to seal Morrison’s fate, as he bitched on Twitter about how Melina should have been in Trish’s spot here and pretty much earned himself a pink slip.
WWE title: The Miz v. John Cena
You know, lost in the Miz’s fall from grace is the equally tragic plummeting of Alex Riley from main event manager of the WWE champion to modern day Superstars job guy. John Cena’s Wrestlemania entrance has now progressed to a full gospel choir. Test of strength to start and Cena goes to a headlock, but Miz stomps him down in the corner. Cena gets a gutwrench for two and MAN is this crowd dead now. Taker-HHH must have destroyed them. Miz with a DDT for two. Miz misses a charge and Cena goes up with the guillotine legdrop for two. But he misses his own charge and Miz takes over again with a boot for two. Another big boot gets two. Miz puts him on the apron and gets a kneelift for two as Cena is off on another world, which I believe turned out to be Cena knocking himself silly at some point early on. Cena comes back with the five knuckle shuffle, but Miz reverses the FU into a DDT for two. Miz undoes a turnbuckle, but Cena cradles for two and hooks the STFU. Miz quickly makes the ropes, but A-Ry runs Cena into the EXPOSED STEEL and Miz gets the Skull Crushing Finale for two. They sell it like a big near-fall, but the crowd just gives it a sarcastic “TWO!”. Another try, and now the ref is bumped, because that’s EXACTLY what this boring match needed. Riley lays out Cena with the briefcase and Miz gets two. Miz charges with the case and accidentally hits Riley, but Cena’s FU only gets two. That would have been a really flat finish anyway. They head outside and Cena clotheslines Miz into the crowd, then follows with a spear over the railing where he CRACKS his head on the floor. Oh man, that was scary. Both guys are out and it’s a double countout at 14:48. Well that’s just an awful finish. *1/2 However, The Rock is OUTRAGED at this bullshit and comes out to restart the match himself. So Cena tosses Miz back in, but Rock turns on him with a Rock Bottom and leaves, allowing Miz to get the pin and retain the title. I am just astonished at how badly this entire show was booked at times. And then Rock beats the crap out of Miz, too. And that’s Wrestlemania, ladies and gentlemen!
Holy crap, minus Undertaker-HHH that’s a pretty dire PPV, Wrestlemania or not. Traditionally one awesome match influences my rating upwards, but we’re in the digital age now and that awesome match is already on a “Best of 2011” DVD, so fuck this show. Strong recommendation to avoid and I’d put this one solidly in the bottom third of Wrestlemanias.
Tags: wrestlemania 27