I got a ticket to Wrestlemania.
The last time I went to a WWE PPV was in 1998, back when it was brash enough to be named the WWF. The show was called Fully Loaded, and many of my friends assured me that was how they would be attending.
My, how things have changed. Back then, the show was all about Steve Austin, The Undertaker, HHH and The Rock. Edge was defending a title. Christian was there, but he didnâ€™t have much to do. . .
. . . Huh.
Being a Wrestlemania correspondent isnâ€™t all glitz, glamour and big sweaty guys. It also puts me in the dangerous territory of Atlanta. Atlanta is a city maggoty with peach named streets that curve and intersect, a city that manages to be covered with pollen scuz every time I visit it, and a city where people are afraid of becoming pedestrians. It is nothing like my beautiful Chicago: a city where addresses mean something and plants are more covert in the allergen attacks. Chicago is a city where people walk, jog and run even when sled dog teams want to stay inside.
But I digress.
In preparation for the big show (crank it up and so forth) my group of friends journeyed to visit the fine folks at Platinum Championship Wrestling. PCW is a theatrical brand of independent wrestling featuring colorful and off-color characters, where the first two rows mock the wrestlers, the wrestlers mock the announcers, and the announcers mock the first two rows of wrestling fans.
It is the circle of life.
PCW, unlike many other independent brands also features wrestlers who sell the moves theyâ€™ve just taken in order to make it look like those moves were done for a reason.
CRAZY, huh? I wonder is CZW has ever heard of that? If you are in the area, Iâ€™d recommend checking them out.
The day before the show we ate at Abdullah the Butcherâ€™s House of Ribs and Chinese Food. The food is decent and your dollar goes a long way. Plus, if youâ€™ve ever wanted to eat Kung Pao Chicken with collard greens while staring at a signed photo of Captain Lou Albano, it is probably your best choice.
That concluded our pre-show wrestling tour of the sunken city of Atlanta, now on with the show!
Pre-show: UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP MATCH: Sheamus (C) vs. Daniel Bryan
So this thing was bumped from the card proper and turned into a lumberjack match. The lumberjacks consisted of a good number of members of the Future Endeavors club. (Iâ€™m looking at you Yoshi.) The southern crowd, seems to love Sheamus and doesnâ€™t give a good goddamn about Daniel Bryan. I hoped that the match changes this, but after a few minutes of a standard Raw match, the lumberjacks started attacking each other and everything fell apart.
Teddy Long then came out to a HUGE pop, because the South is weird. Teddy makes the whole thing a Battle Royale. Everybody gets in the ring at once, in order to ensure that nobody can actually pull off any moves inside the ring.
After some standard battle royale action, we are left with Sheamus and Bryan on the ring apron and Khali in the ring. Bryan gets Brogue kicked out, Sheamus goes back into the ring just to eat a chop and a clothesline.
Khali wins then dances poorly, much to the delight of my friend Laura and Khaliâ€™s other fan in attendance.
The WWE is just purposefully trying to make internet smarks commit suicide here right?
Thus starts the show proper.
Rock comes out to play the hype man. The crowd is universally behind him and would probably castrate themselves, and drink some fruit punch if The Rock asked.
Itâ€™s a fine segment, but I couldâ€™ve gone for some more wrestling in my mania.
Like a real US Title match.
Or an Intercontinental Title Match.
Throughout the night we got host segments. They all went over pretty well with the crowd, and I know my people loved seeing Regal rap. Seeing pre-taped bits of Pee Wee Herman and Snoop might seem like a waste of Wrestlemania time, but it was quicker than having them come out to the ring.
Man, that entrance ramp in the Georgia dome is LONG. Almost none of the wrestlers can sustain a reaction past the first half.
WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: Edge (C) (with Christian) vs. Alberto Del Rio (with Brodus Clay)
In case you didnâ€™t realize, Smackdown is the B show. I donâ€™t really understand why you curtain jerk with a World title, but maybe it makes sense in the broader scheme of the show.
You know, like if Christian turns heel or Del Rio wins.
Neither of those things happen though. Edge retains fairly cleanly, then recreates Michael Jacksonâ€™s â€œBlack or Whiteâ€ video with Del Rioâ€™s car.
Del Rio is shocked and appalled as this is the first time a wrestler has ever attacked an automobile. (First commenter to correct me on that gets punched right in his/her crotch.)
The match was pretty good.
Brodus looked lost as a corner man and stood around not doing much when he shouldâ€˜ve been cheating or intimidating. Christian is a good wrestler, but has weird pacing as a corner man that didnâ€™t help the flow of the match.
Alberto Del Rio still got his fancy car entrance. When that stops his push is officially dead.
The Corre (Wade Barrett, Ezekiel Jackson, Heath Slater, Justin Gabriel) vs. the Big Show, Kane, Santino Marella and Kofi Kingston.
To catch you up to speed, Vladimir Koslov was injured by the Corre at Axxess, so Teddy replaced him with Kofi, who can actually do things in the ring.
Spellcheck does not like that sentence.
Nothing much to report here. Santino was over, Kofi hopped around a lot, and the match lasted about as long as the intros. The Correâ€™s ginger took the pin because gingers donâ€™t have souls and thus are not bothered by such things.
It is worth noting that when the camera is off Santino, he does nothing. While the replay was running after the face win, he stood in the ring blankly. Then as soon as the replay is over, he goes back into character and does his ridiculous trombone shtick.
Match was fine for what it was, but it didnâ€™t really accomplish anything for anybody.
Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio
Rey came out in his ridiculous Captain America outfit. Heâ€™s a silly little dude. Crowd was 50/50 behind Cody here, perhaps because he is the son of the son of a plumber. Cody managed to hit the trademark moves of his old tag partner Hardcore Holly, which was nice to see.
Rey decides to cheat by ripping off Codyâ€™s face mask, and using it as a weapon. Cody, our brave hero, retaliates by ripping off Reyâ€™s knee brace and clocking him in the head with it.
Cody wins, as does poetic justice.
It was pretty much a by-the-numbers Rey match.
CM Punk vs. Randy Orton
Both of these guys are OVER with the crowd. Punk was getting a lot of cheers despite being a complete sociopath. Orton was getting even bigger cheers despite being an even bigger sociopath.
The entire Georgia Dome was singing all the wordâ€™s to Randy Ortonâ€™s theme song, which is actually kind of terrifying.
Randalâ€™s top rope pose garnered a ton of flash photography.
Thanks to the Titantron we were treated to the amazing facial expressions of CM Punk. Punk is the most entertaining thing in the E right now. Orton, by contrast, doesnâ€™t need close-ups as his personality comes across more through subtleties in his body language.
Long story short, both of these guys are damn good.
The only problem I had with this match is that it doesnâ€™t really change anything. Win or lose, Punk can still be on a quest to keep Orton from winning the title, Nexus is all still punted back to Florida, and Randy still has a bum knee.
Orton gets the win, but perhaps itâ€™s a Xanatos gambit by Punk. He meant to eat that rad RKO counter to his springboard clothesline.
It is all part of his master plan.
The fact that Iâ€™m a Chicagoan who doesnâ€™t drink, smoke or do drugs has nothing to do with this theory.
Jerry â€œThe Kingâ€ Lawler vs. Michael Cole (With Jack Swagger), Special Referee Stone Cold Steve Austin
Time to turn Atlanta into Memphis. Michael Cole was booed like mad every time the titantron showed his ugly mug. Cole comes down to the ring in an outfit so ridiculous Rey asks if he can borrow it.
Swagger comes down, does some push-ups, remembers a time when he was a world champion, and then nearly gets run over by Stone Coldâ€™s ATV.
Cole does a .7 Kaufman stalling, cheating, and avoiding King. King attacks Swagger, Swagger attacks King, eventually Swagger is stunnered out of the equation.
After some attempts by Cole to work Kingâ€™s leg, and chants of â€œYou Canâ€™t Wrestleâ€, King gains the upper hand with a fist drop and an ankle lock on Cole. King wins.
The crowd was chanting Piledriver, but alas, it was for naught.
Then the GM reverses Stone Coldâ€™s decision due to Stone Coldâ€™s biased officiating and announces Cole as the winner by DQ. Crowd chants the name of Penn and Tellerâ€™s showtime original series. Stone Cold gives stunners to Josh Mathews and Booker T because that is what he does.
Heâ€™s kind of a jerk, even when he isnâ€™t beating up blondes.
The lesson of all this, though, is that it is perfectly acceptable to drive an ATV at top speed, indoors, after drinking half a dozen beers.
The Undertaker vs. Triple H
Triple H comes out to two entrance themes and a phalanx of Spartans in order to remind everybody that he is the wrestler with the silliest entrances in Wrestlemania history. Rey only does silly costumes, and Taker only has silly extras; Triple H, he does it all.
Taker has a fairly simplistic entrance, all things considered, and the crowd sings along with his Johnny Cash entrance music.
The drama was high here. The Undertaker looked old, beaten, and reluctant to do some of his flashier moves. He looked like Shawn or Ric ready to be put down. Triple H was willing to stop at nothing to end the streak.
Nobody in the arena bought the first pedigree as the finish. The following pedigrees and HHHâ€™s tombstone on Taker caused sections of people to jump out of their seats and yell â€œNO!â€ Triple H had a lot of supporters, but the audience needs the Undertakerâ€™s streak.
It is the single most important thing in the WWE.
Indeed, the drama was high, but I fear the match will be underwhelming upon a second viewing. The second half of the match was the Undertaker selling like he was dying, while Triple H thought and thought, and stood around, and hit a bunch of finishers and thought some more.
Very memorable match, but I really think that the finish should have been Triple H passing out to the Hellâ€™s Gate instead of tapping. So it goes.
After the match, Taker was hardly able to move and a good chunk of the crowd thought that this was the end of The Wrestler.
For a bit, I thought they were going to retire the character by having him die in the ring undefeated. Hell, for a second I thought Mark might actually be dead.
At any rate, HHH is a jerkwad for not helping him to his feet.
John Morrison, Trish Stratus and Snooki vs. Dolph Ziggler and Lay Cool
Having Vicki come out to follow that match was a stroke of genius. The crowd needed some simple emotions to deal with, and hatred was probably the best choice here.
The match was very short with most of it being between Trish and McCool. I think I would enjoy a singles encounter between those two, and not in that perverse way.
Well, not just in that perverse way.
Snooki, started her undefeated Wrestlemania streak by pinning a former Champion after two cheerleader moves.
The crowd despised Snooki when she came out, but after seeing her flip the general consensus was â€œhey, youâ€™re not phoning it in. We like that!â€
Meanwhile, John Morrison wondered why his former tag partner was in the main event and not him. He was unable to express this thought in words though.
He was able to answer his own question.
WWE CHAMPIONSHIP: The Miz (C) vs. John Cena
Miz gets a fairly awesome video package that makes him look like Ozymandias from Watchmen. Champion enters first because tradition sucks and he has an inflatable AWESOME.
John Cena gets a gospel choir, a weird prayer, and the Stars and Bars behind his titantron name because he is from Massachusetts. (A southern man donâ€™t need him around any how.)
Come to think of it, Cenaâ€™s corporate ministry took a long time to set up too. So, damnit, Miz should have come out second.
Miz and Cena do an Attitude era main event while the crowd chants â€œCena sucks/Letâ€™s go Cena!â€ They kick out of some finishers and get double counted out.
The WWE tries to fake out the crowd by putting their logo on the corner of the screen during replays, but sure enough The Rock comes out to restart the match as no DQ, no Countout, etc. etc.
Cena immediately goes for the Attitude Adjustment, but Rock attacks him, lays him out with the Rock Bottom. Miz gets the pin to retain.
I didnâ€™t hear a single boo for what the Rock did. Cena got what was coming to him when he arrogantly attacked the Rock last Monday. After that, Rock gets back into the ring, delivers some rock punches, a Pie-buster and a Peopleâ€™s Elbow to the Miz.
Now, call me CRAZY, but a non-wrestler putting himself over two active main event wrestlers in the MAIN EVENT of WRESTLEMANIA seems like an abomination to me.
It made the whole show feel more like the greatest episode of RAW and not like a Wrestlemania at all.
It was a Wrestlemania with only two title matches, no title changes, no surprises, no debuts, and no big storyline wrap-ups.
It felt like an act II and Wrestlemania should be act III.
Tags: wrestlemania, wrestlemania 27, WWE