Douces Wild: Wrestlemania 28…….A Retrospective……Part 1
Warning: Foul Language may seep into this review at different points……viewer discretion is advised!
Since 2007…….I have gone back to watch every single WWE PPV ever, review them and give my thoughts. I started going from 1999 (because I just decided to pick 1999 since it was what I was more comfortable with) and I got all the way to 2003…….until I decided to start all the way at the beginning. I went all the way back to 1985 and went forward in time to 1998……then I went forward to 2003 and from there, I have made it to 2012. For 2012, I decided to watch the RAWs and Smackdowns from that time period…….something I have pretty much given up on because A) they aren’t very good, B) they felt too much like a chore and C) it was taking too much time. However, from the Rumble to Wrestlemania, I watched all the RAWs and Smackdowns because I wanted to give Wrestlemania 28 its proper due and respect. This is a look back at a Wrestlemania that many look back on fondly but I have examined with fresh eyes. As a critical analysis of this show, I wanted to be completely fair and impartial to everything on this show…….I didn’t let hype or nostalgia cloud my judgment (although I don’t think hype nor nostalgia came into my mind whatsoever during this one), I wanted to break this show down and really piece together everything that went into this show. Wrestlemania 28 has been considered, by many, to be one of the greatest Wrestlemanias of all-time or at worst, the best of the modern day Wrestlemanias at least. It was a show with massive amounts of hype behind it: Once in a Lifetime, End of An Era, etc. It is a show that has left an amazing legacy in its wake but also plenty of detractors and people who don’t look back on it in fondness. My job is to analyze this thing and give it fair treatment…….I will praise what is necessary and I will rip apart what is necessary.
Wrestlemania 28 is the highest grossing Wrestlemania of all-time with the biggest PPV buyrate for a Wrestlemania ever (1,217,000), had one of the best attendances of a Wrestlemania ever (78,363) and had global gross sales of $67 million! From a financial and business standpoint, this show was unequivocally a huge success for the company!! As I mentioned earlier, critics and fans praised the show throughout, calling it one of the best Wrestlemanias of all-time……some even going as far as to call it the best in general! However…….the question I’m asking in this column……..does this show hold up well after 4 years? When it comes to this show, I could literally give two shits about how much money it made, how many buys it got or how many people attended the show………that’s not what this analysis is about. When you sit down and watch a movie or a TV show to critically analyze it, you take money out of the situation and just go with what you feel and if you enjoyed it or not. The Transformers franchise is one of the highest grossing movie franchises in the history of cinema…….but that doesn’t mean they should be treated as GREAT MOVIES nor should they be exempt from criticism. Some people just don’t understand this when it comes to wrestling but what does PPV buys or attendance matter if I watch the show either live, there in person or years later……..and I don’t like it? Ok, it made money……good for it…..doesn’t mean I have to like it. Or…….what if I watch a PPV, a movie or a TV show that everybody hates but I honestly enjoy? For instance, I’m a fan of the Star Wars Prequels…….I don’t think they are great movies but I honestly enjoy them a lot more than a lot of other movies that people say are supposed to be good. And that’s where we come in with this show…..I just want to be entertained……take away all of the financial factors and whatnot……did this show entertain me? Let’s find out shall we?!!
Let’s hope in the time machine, ladies and gentleman, and let’s go all the way back to April 1st, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida for Wrestlemania 28!!!
Opening Match: Sheamus defeats Daniel Bryan for the World Title at 18 seconds
How convenient is it that I’m talking about *THIS* match almost two weeks later after we got the mother of all heartbreaking announcements?!! In essence, it’s fitting because whether or not we like, THIS is the match that began Daniel Bryan’s launch to the stratosphere and into wrestling eternity…….and it’s pretty much the match that killed off Sheamus as a main eventer since he’s never recovered from this whatsoever. However, since we are coming off the retirement of Daniel Bryan……I thought I’d take some time to discuss Bryan and his career. It was about 2010 or 2011…….I had read about Bryan Danielson in reviews for ROH and heard about him coming up in the WWE but I have never seen him wrestle before. I remember reading a column about him being fired from the WWE for the Justin Roberts thing and how this column was telling me that Bryan was one of the best wrestling prospects out there and that the WWE NEEDED to hire this guy back…….which they did about two months later. I finally got my hands on the first full year of ROH shows and I could finally witness the American Dragon in all of his glory and my reaction was…….eh. I remember the Three Way Dance between Danielson, Christopher Daniels and Low Ki and I was really impressed by Low Ki and his great talent, Daniels was a fantastic heel and Danielson held things together……fantastic match! Danielson and Ki followed that up with the next show when they had an all-time ROH classic and I was really digging what I was seeing. However, Danielson was relegated to the mid-card and I kind of lost some interest in him……he didn’t stand out at all character or look wise, and I’m a guy who doesn’t really care about looks or anything. He was just a bland babyface with some great wrestling skill…….and I continued to lean more towards Low Ki, Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles. I’ve since seen the 2003 and 2004 ROH shows (most of them anyway) but at the time, I hadn’t…..Danielson is still great in the ring in an old school, Bob Backlund way but still wasn’t standing out. His feud in early 2005 with Homicide wasn’t drawing me so I was starting to wonder what the fuss was about. Dragon returned to defeat James Gibson (Jamie Noble) for the ROH World Title……something I had no problem with because Dragon deserved it but he still wasn’t standing out. He had some other good to great title defenses but Bryan Danielson still was not jumping out at me the way that everybody was building him up! I was starting to wonder what all the fuss was about and was questioning whether or not this guy was as good as everybody thought he was……….
Until the ROH show, This Means War, from 2005.
On this night, Danielson defended the belt against Roderick Strong, who was still a young up and comer at the time but was looking to break through the glass ceiling. At the time, Danielson was still Bob Backlund, the white bread babyface champion who will take on all comers and be that “oh shucks” kind of guy…….until this match. During this amazing 37+ minute war, Danielson went from white bread babyface to a cunning and manipulative dick head who was just being a massive fucking prick to Strong throughout the entire match……..Danielson’s face to heel transformation during that match FINALLY flipped the switch. Bryan’s ROH World Title run is up there as one of the greatest World Title runs I’ve ever seen……just fantastic match after fantastic match (including two more CLASSIC matches with Roddy Strong during that run) and I became a MASSIVE Bryan Danielson fan after that. I became wholly invested in this guy (I’m watching 2009 ROH, so I’m nearing the end of his ROH run) and from there…….he became one of my all-time favorite guys. Bryan doesn’t have an amazing look……he isn’t all that marketable…….he won’t draw the company millions of dollars…….he won’t be a major ratings draw……..but what he was and what has epitomized him in wrestling history is his everyman babyface role that people fell in love with. I’ve gotten into constant arguments with people online about him and I still stand firm with my beliefs: looks, ratings, money……..none of that means jack shit to me if I’m not entertained. Besides, what completely ruins a lot of these people’s arguments is the fact that despite Bryan not having size, being amazing on the microphone or just be bland looking……this company gave him a monster push. Why didn’t Bryan go the route of Zack Ryder (who I will be talking about later)…….why did Vince McMahon give a fuck about the fans or Bryan to push this guy? If Daniel Bryan was nothing more than just some random Indy darling, Vince wouldn’t have done shit with him……..something forced Vince to push this guy, give him the Wrestlemania 30 moment and run with this guy…….pretty sure it wasn’t just hardcore fans pushing this guy to where he was. Despite all of that, Bryan captured the hearts of a nation and sadly, his career has ended……..I’m glad he has retired with the chance to have a healthy life with his wife, start a family and whatnot……but it’s also a gigantic gaping hole of talent in the WWE missing and it’s still felt two years later. And what started it all? What was the enticing moment that kick started this run that turned Daniel Bryan from Indy darling to beloved WWE superstar and future Hall of Famer?
Yes…..THAT led to THIS…..
Odd, isn’t it? How one moment in time just backfires so spectacularly that it actually flip flops everything what you were trying to accomplish! What was WWE trying to accomplish? Simple……turn Sheamus into the next top babyface by steam rolling Bryan, becoming the new World champion and move on. When that ref’s hand hit that mat for the third time and fans realized that not even 20 seconds had passed before the end of the match, the outrage was INSTANT!!! I know……because I was following the show on 411Mania and I was right on the match headline……scrolled down once…..match is over! People waited a few seconds to see if maybe, just maybe, this was a swerve of some kind or if they were going to restart the match……nope, didn’t happen. And the comments section EXPLODED with anger!!!! “THEY JUST BURIED DANIEL BRYAN!!!” “TRIPLE H’S BOY JUST USED THE SHOVEL!!!!” “VINCE SCREWS BRYAN!!!” Many were so infuriated that a lot of them didn’t even like the show! Lords of Pain followed up with a review of the show afterwards and the entire point of the show was anger……and obviously, Bryan losing in 18 seconds pissed them off so much that they really didn’t enjoy the rest of the show……a lot of people felt that way honestly. And the WWE’s reason for doing this was also a gigantic pile of shit and pissed fans off even more…….their reason was that because they could not break the “Most Masks Ever in An Arena” World Record so they decided to break the “Shortest Match In Wrestlemania History” record (held by Kane vs Chavo Guerrero from Wrestlemania 24)……and they didn’t even do THAT correctly because they missed it by 10 seconds. And, let’s be completely honest here, the decision wasn’t the problem…..the length was the problem. Sheamus was heavily picked to walk out of WM 28 as the new World champion and everybody was ready to have this guy launched to the stratosphere. The fans were really into Sheamus during that time, listening to how over he was during those RAWs and Smackdowns really show that the WWE made the right call by having Sheamus win the Royal Rumble instead of Jericho (if not that, then Sheamus could have won the Elimination Chamber instead…….either one would have worked). Sheamus had been rebuilt really well since he was a failure as a top heel and WWE champion so it’s nice to see that they were finally going to reward him with a great run and actually get behind him. Fans did not mind whatsoever……..they knew it was going to happen and just hoped that AT LEAST they were going to get some time and have a great opening match.
……And then they got 18 seconds and fans shit themselves!
THAT was the problem: the 18 seconds. After that, Sheamus’ heat was gone (I know…..I’m watching those 2012 shows…..his pops are NOT what they once were)……go watch his rematch with Bryan at Extreme Rules: the crowd is either cheering or booing Bryan……they are not reacting to Sheamus. People were expecting a 10 minute hot opener with Sheamus winning the belt…….not 18 seconds. However, in the weeks leading up to the show……..Sheamus squashing Bryan made sense, guys! I mean, Bryan was awesome as the weasely little shit head who was never getting his comeuppance and Sheamus was the guy who was going to do it……Bryan kept avoiding Sheamus FOR WEEKS and Sheamus could not get a shot in on Bryan…..until Bryan turned his back on Sheamus to get a kiss from AJ and turned around into a Brogue Kick for the 1-2-3!! It was a really good feud and good build so the squash made sense from the perspective of the feud and the storyline……it was just who was involved that pissed people off! We all know that Sheamus is beloved backstage: he’s Triple H’s workout buddy (past or present), Vince loves him, he does a great job of doing charity and stuff of that nature…….the WWE felt this was the perfect way to get him over. They thought that Bryan was going to be the guy that Sheamus beat to legitimize him and turn him into a dominant champion……but that’s not what happened, was it? To Sheamus, that victory over Bryan was probably the WORST thing that could happen to him, this man has not recovered since! I mean, when people are cheering Roman Reigns to kick your ass, you know you are just done when it comes to the fans. And Sheamus honestly didn’t deserve any of this…….just wrong place, wrong time, wrong guy to Brogue Kick and beat in 18 seconds.
So……that brings up the question: does THIS match hold up? And my answer…….
YES!!! YES!!!! YES!!!!
That, right there, is why it holds up……it started that! It started the Yes Movement……it started Bryan’s run to the top that culminated with him winning the WWE Title at Wrestlemania 30. It started the groundswell by the fans to push this guy and get him pushed by the WWE……everything started here with this moment. It is very hard to say that without this fan outrage…….does Daniel Bryan get over the way he did? I don’t know……very hard to say. On one way, had they had a longer match and it would have been very good…….this card gets helped out for having a better match on the show and there are more positive thoughts towards it…….on the other hand, without this match, we might not have Bryan’s moment come two years later. So, it’s a conundrum……do you have the great match that makes your show better or do you have the moment that kick started one of the greatest runs to the top in company history? I’m taking the run all the way…….besides, they had a kick ass match at Extreme Rules that was elevated by the crowd reactions and by the outcome of this match……something that would have been lost without it. Plus…..something else that gets lost in the mix is AJ Lee……this kick started her crazy, psycho chick character and without this match and outcome, she wouldn’t have gotten as over as she did. So this match kick started the groundswell for both Bryan and AJ whilst killing the groundswell for Sheamus’ fan support…..if you look at it in a nutshell. So……if I had to rate this match……I’d give it a 5.0 out of 10. It’s not a match, per se, but it’s a hell of a moment that is still shocking to this day and yet we are still feeling the effects of it here and now! It’s the moment that killed the fan support of Sheamus and the one that started Bryan’s fan support in the company (also AJ Lee). For that, I think it’s about time we look back on this more fondly and appreciate what came afterwards.
Match 2: Kane defeats Randy Orton at 10:57
How odd is it to see one of the top guys of the company, at one of the biggest Wrestlemanias ever, working in a nothing mid-card match? Regardless of whether or not you love or hate Randy Orton…….he was and still is one of the top guys in the company, whether he deserves it or not. However, on one of the biggest shows of all-time, you’d expect him to be in something a little more important than a nothing match with Kane! The build to this match was that these two had a Falls Count Anywhere match back in July of 2011 (the infamous “Orton gets his foot caught in the announce table” match) and Orton won. However, Mark Henry came out and put Kane out of action afterwards and Kane blamed Orton for making him seem too human, took his eye off the ball and now he’s back as Demon Kane or whatever. Kane’s first feud when he returned was the infamous “Embrace the Hate” feud with John Cena, Zack Ryder and Eve Torres……..a great idea in theory but one of the worst executed feuds I’ve ever seen in my life. It was boring, the entire point of it was completely all over the place, it killed Zack Ryder’s career, it pretty much killed off Eve Torres to some extent, it killed off any real interest in Kane returning with the mask back on and it did nothing to further Cena’s career whatsoever. So……as a match, I like Orton vs Kane in theory. Unlike Cena, who is just two white bread for a feud with Kane, Orton’s a guy who doesn’t mind sinking to the depths of his opponent for a fight……I like that. Orton was awesome as an anti-hero……which is why I hated it when the WWE tried too hard to make him try to act like John Cena when in reality, Orton is great as his own character. But it was just a random match to throw onto Wrestlemania…….you’d think Orton would be in more of a high profile match than what he was but you’d be wrong. Even better……KANE WON!!! CLEAN!!! The match really isn’t that great: it’s slow, too methodical and considering that the fans in attendance were already pissed off after the opener, you’d think these guys would come out and put on something interesting but that was not the case whatsoever. The match ended with Kane hitting a Super Chokeslam on Randy Orton and got the 1-2-3 over Orton in one of the most shocking decisions in Wrestlemania history! I have a problem with this…….Orton should not have been losing this match…..he shouldn’t have beaten CM Punk the year before at 27 but this match is ok for him to lose? What did Kane gain from this victory? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Plus, the fans chanted for Bryan during the match and then the WWE has another popular guy lose in a row. As a rating, I’m giving this match a rating of 5.5 out of 10 and so far, this show was not off to a great start whatsoever.
This is followed up with comedy stuff with Santino, Foley and some guy from The Deadliest Catch eating crab legs until Ron Simmons provides the punchline (who went into the Hall of Fame the night before). Nothing special but it’s Wrestlemania, stuff like this was and still is sadly expected.
Match 3: Big Show defeats Cody Rhodes for the IC Title in 5:18
Now…….if there was a match that was just screaming for 18 seconds……THIS was it! I mean, the build was just perfect for it! Cody had been bringing up Show’s horrible Wrestlemania past and how much of a loser he was…….Show didn’t like it and Cody had been ducking him……WMD and that’s it, NEW CHAMP!! However, since they had already shot their short match wad already with Sheamus/Bryan, this match actually had to have some time……and that’s a problem. I really did enjoy Cody on Smackdown as the IC champion…….the problem was that they weren’t putting him in any real competitive feuds. He was picking up wins……but he was just spinning his wheels. He did feud with Booker T in an effort to put him over but he wasn’t really involved in anything overly meaningful whatsoever until this. As for Big Show, he had just got done feuding with Daniel Bryan and Mark Henry for the World Title that was pretty entertaining to watch. I felt that the Show/Henry feud from 2011 is a very underrated feud with some very underrated matches (go watch their Money in the Bank and Vengeance matches to really understand what I mean) but it did lose some steam by the end once Bryan was introduced and the fans wanted him instead. The stuff between Show and Bryan was really good as well with Bryan at his little nerdy dick head best and then this feud here, I thought Cody was really good in poking at the Big Show until Big Show would eventually snap and take him out. However…….it also goes to show the lack of originality in this company. Your World Title feud and your IC Title feud are essentially having the same storyline……..and both belts are on the same show…….so the two top feuds on Smackdown were essentially the same feuds while RAW had Jericho/Punk, HHH/Taker and Rock/Cena. I honestly wish that Cody was feuding with somebody else other than Big Show for this Wrestlemania…….especially coming off his great performance from the year before with Rey Mysterio. However, they really had nobody but Big Show to feud with him and this is what we got sadly. The match isn’t very good……..it’s essentially just ANOTHER squash match. Cody gets in what I will kindly call jobber offense but it’s all Big Show.
And this is where I go back to this match ending in 18 seconds instead of Sheamus/Bryan. This match had the perfect story for it, people would not have been upset at all because that’s what they were building to and I think people even predicted it as well. Cody deserved to get embarrassed in 18 seconds after all the shit he was talking and Show deserved his moment at Mania…….instead, these two fart around for 5 minutes until Show finally beats him. Sure, Show got his first singles win at Mania and won the Intercontinental Title for the first time…….he got his redemption…….but the match was just a slog to get through, despite only being 5 minutes. Plus, the crowd was AGAIN cheering for Bryan and doing the Yes chants and this is where we reach a problem with this show…….three matches in and none of them have been very good. Two have been very short squashes and the other was a methodical bore fest……..I thought this was supposed to be the GREATEST WRESTLEMANIA OF ALL-TIME BECAUSE MICHAEL COLE SAID SO!!!!! Kind of goes to show that maybe next time, don’t book your two top feuds on Smackdown to be the same fucking thing and maybe it’ll spice up your card. And also notice that on the biggest Wrestlemania of all-time, Kane and Big Show picked up victories over two younger guys. I’ll give Show credit: his win was important and meant something……which I can’t necessarily say for Kane. But on a night stars should be made, we had two guys who had been there since the late 90s pick up victories over two of the WWE’s hottest young prospects ever…….it really sours you on the company. I give this match a 5.0 out of 10 and so far, not a horrible show but it hasn’t been good either.
Match 4: Maria Menounos & Kelly Kelly defeated Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres in a Tag Team Match at 7:10
If there is one person that I am……quite frankly…….SHOCKED at hearing how much of a wrestling fan they are, it’s Maria Menounos. I mean, this girl has NOT hidden the fact at all of how much of a wrestling fan she is and even better, SHE’S A BOB BACKLUND FAN!!! I mean, she put him in the Hall of Fame, she wears Backlund T-shirts……she’s the hot chick who loves to nerd out as well! So, I can understand why the WWE would bring her in and get some extra publicity for the show in a throwaway tag team match…….however, like with most celebrity matches, it’s at the expense of other wrestlers. And speaking of ladies who were getting massive pushes at the expense of girls who are far better than them in terms of looks and talent……let’s talk Kelly Kelly, shall we? I am NOT a fan of this girl, even when she started back in 2006 with the Extreme Expose. The only reason why this girl was given a contract in the first place was because of her looks……that’s about it. If you remember in 2006, Kelly had a segment on ECW called “Extreme Expose”, where she would dance and tease stripping only to be interrupted by her boyfriend, Mike Knox (remember that guy?). Eventually, they brought in Layla El and Brooke Adams (currently of TNA fame) to be her backup dancers to form the entire group called Extreme Expose…….however, it was abundantly apparent that Kelly was just eye candy while Layla and Brooke were not only just eye candy, they had legitimate dancing backgrounds. Translation: they knew how to dance and dance sexy…….Kelly learned how to dance from watching Showgirls one too many times. She toiled around in the WWE for the next few years until they decided to let her train to be a wrestler……come 2011, this company was hyping her up as the next Trish Stratus. I’ll give Kelly this: she did get better and she did work hard…….that doesn’t mean I like her nor do I have to like her (pretty much my relationship with the Bellas). In fact, Kelly dominated the division in 2011……at the expense of Beth Phoenix. These two fought four times on PPV in 2011…….including three PPV matches in a row. Kelly defeated Beth at Summerslam in a shocking upset so naturally, they fought the next month at Night of Champions…….in Beth’s hometown of Buffalo where she was to lose in embarrassing fashion, get mocked by the commentators for losing, end up crying in the ring after the match and get mocked again by the commentators for crying…….BE A MOTHERFUCKIN’ STAR, WWE!!!!! Beth finally defeated Kelly for the belt at Hell in a Cell (not clean, sadly) then beat her (CLEAN) at TLC to retain the belt and outside of this match, it was the end of the Kelly Kelly experiment. The biggest question coming from this is why? Why push this girl? She had no aspirations to really be a wrestler, she was just there for an easy paycheck, she left the company after she made enough money to do what she wanted, she wasn’t THAT hot yet I had to listen to Jerry Lawler orgasm about her all the time…….yet there she was.
Which leads me to this match because it pretty much was Kelly’s swan song with the company while also pretty much showing Beth Phoenix the writing on the wall that the company could honestly give two flying shits about her as a performer. Maria went into the match with some injuries she suffered from Dancing With The Stars and spent a majority of the match getting worked on while Kelly just sat on the apron with a deer in the headlights look that frequently had. That meant Beth and Eve, two of the better female workers in the company, had to carry Maria to something decent and in all honesty, it wasn’t bad…..it was just longer than it needed to be and it dragged on. I guess I should also mention Eve Torres…….since she had recently turned heel and was about to dump Zack Ryder for being a fucking dipshit. Well, the company apparently felt that Eve was so much more important than their CURRENT WWE DIVAS CHAMPION that Beth and Eve came out to Eve’s music. Like I said, the match isn’t bad and even Kelly does good things in the match…….it’s just long, boring and pointless for the most part. This should have honestly been on the pre-game show or something…….I don’t think this was really necessary at all. Besides, fans didn’t care anyway…….all they cared about was the giant stain on the ass of Maria’s pants that she got from Eve’s makeup and called it a shit stain (which, I ask, how can it be a crap stain when the stain is on the side of her pants and that side alone???). It’s a match that means nothing in the annals of time outside of Maria being a sport and being game enough to work a fake wrestling match whilst being injured. It pretty much ended Kelly’s run with the company since she was gone months later, Beth was gone months later as well…….Eve was gone the next year and the Bellas left at the end of the month!! So if anything, this match pretty much led to a total reset of the entire Divas division almost into what we have today……we weren’t there yet but we were getting there slowly but surely. As for the match, despite some decent things, I’m gonna give it a 4.5 out of 10 because I just did not enjoy it, found it pointless, heatless and boring and it continues this downward slide that this show was on.
So far…….what do you guys think? Not so good right? I mean, two squash matches, a nothing filler match and a Divas match……GREATEST WRESTLEMANIA OF ALL-TIME, MAGGLE!!!! I get that the show can only be judged by the top three matches on the card but this undercard was downright dreadful, to be honest. It wasn’t horrible but there was zero care at all placed into it and nobody gave two shits about it. The only thing people were remembering, up to this point, was Daniel Bryan losing in 18 seconds. The fans cheered his name and cheered “YES” throughout the next three matches……..in between the silence elicited by the fans. Yes, Triple H vs The Undertaker was the next match…….but up to this point, this show has not been very good and the top three matches remaining (and that 8 Man Tag) all had to be OUTSTANDING for this show to even finish strong. The question…….could it do it? These next four matches could alter my entire perception of this show and of yours as well if they succeed……..but, to keep you in some suspense…….UNTIL NEXT TIME!!! No, but seriously, I’ll be back with Part 2 to wrap this bad boy up and I’ll even give my thoughts on Fast Lane there as well!!
Tags: wrestlemania 28