Joel: Honestly I hadn’t gone back and watched WrestleMania 31 straight through after watching it live about a year ago. Having seen this particular WrestleMania so recently, I can remember that my initial reaction to the show was that it was really quite, good and surprisingly good considering how bad it looked like it was going to be going into the show. So, on this rewatch, I was looking forward to closing out the whole thing with two really strong WrestleManias back to back. However, upon actually sitting down to watch WrestleMania 31 I realized that “surprisingly good” only works when you’re expecting it to be really bad. I don’t think WrestleMania 31 is terrible exactly, but rewatching it now doesn’t hold up to watching it live as much as I thought it would. For example, the ladder match that opens up the show is still one of the best matches on the card, but it doesn’t mark the triumphant return for Daniel Bryan anymore. Another example is the exciting “surprise” appearance by The Rock and Ronda Rousey that teased future involvement from the both of them was a lot of fun to watch live, but now feels like it takes forever as we’re clearly trying to stall for the sun to go down so Undertaker can have a match. And I have to say that Sting’s match here reminds me a bit of Bret Hart’s match against Vince McMahon from WrestleMania 26. It was a thrill to see this person in a WWE ring. The fact that this decade and a half storyline was being addressed in a WrestleMania match was exciting. I’m really glad that it happened and that I got to experience it live. But seeing it again? The whole thing’s kind of a mess. People come out of nowhere that get heavily involved with the match. And that finish is more infuriating this time around as it continues to make no sense why Sting didn’t get the win here. Surprisingly enough, the best part of the show here was probably the main event, the thing we were all dreading during last year’s build up. Brock and Roman put on a strong match and really looked like they were beating the crap out of each other. Their back and forth was good even before Seth came down to the ring. These three guys really put on a match and created a moment that was worthing of main eventing a WrestleMania surprisingly enough. All in all, this isn’t a terrible WrestleMania but it wasn’t what I remembered it to be. But we’ve had several point in this retrospective where we’ve alternated between good and bad WrestleManias for several in a row. That meant that WrestleMania 32 is going to be incredible right?
Kue: Underwhelming. That’s a pretty accurate summation of 31. Not to say there weren’t decent takeaways from it. The IC Ladder Match was a highlight, along with the far-better-than-expected Orton/Rollins match. Sting/Trips was an interestingly overbooked to perfection beauty of a trainwreck, a nod to an Attitude Era match done right. However, everything else pretty much fell flat, save for the closing minutes of the show. Taker/Wyatt, a match that many have anticipated for some time, fell victim to a shitty buildup and a less than stellar match. The Rollins cash in may have saved the night from ending with a collection of boos, but all in all, this Mania is a pretty forgettable one.
Sanders: Wrestlemania 31 probably best described as pretty middle-of-the-road as it’s not great but it’s not terrible but it benefits from a surprisingly good main event with an incredible ending. The opening ladder match was definitely a highlight and helped fill that void felt years ago when WWE took the MitB out of the yearly tradition and gave it it’s own pay per view. The RKO is easily one of the best spots in Wrestlemania history and it helped elevate what was an okay match leading up to it. HHH vs Sting wasn’t a great match but they did what they had to do to get by and I respect that because at Sting’s age, I felt like I would be greedy if I were to ask him to do any more than what he did. The old man factions did help maintain fan interest but it’s still weird to me that Sting would shake the hand of the guy that just smacked him in the head with a sledgehammer mere minutes before. The Divas tag match was surprisingly better than I remembered, it was no Bailey vs Sasha by any stretch but it’s lightyears beyond Diva matches had been in previous WMs leading up to this one, still weird they just didn’t have a Divas championship match. Rusev looked pretty good in his match against Cena and Cena fighting an anti-American heel is probably as close to getting Cena cheered as WWE is gonna get these days. I wonder if Cena hadn’t gotten hurt this year, which NXT monster call-up would he had buried at WM32 to keep that tradition going. I didn’t mind The Rock/Rousey/Authority segment too much, although in the time they were stalling, they could’ve easily fit the battle royal on the main card. Ultimately, it really would’ve been weird to see Undertaker’s entrance in more daylight than what we ended up with so I understand the stall and the Rousey reveal was really good camera work, even if it they didn’t intend for it. Undertaker vs Bray was alright but it was hard to get invested into because it felt weird for it not be a streak match and that there had been no Undertaker appearances leading up to WM so why should really care? And Bray is served up to someone else at Wrestlemania. The main event was better than it had any reason to be and I have to give Brock and Roman a lot of credit for. It could’ve easily been an obviously slow, prodding garbage match but instead was a brawl that seemed about as stiff as we had ever seen Roman experience. The Seth cash-in was incredible and was the perfect call to avoid having Brock get pinned by Roman, a guy the fans would’ve boo’d out of the building. WWE got lucky in the last hour, let’s see if they do the same at 32 or if they’ll finally stay the course regardless of the fan’s feelings.
BD: WrestleMania 31 marked the second time WWE panicked at the last second – this time using the MITB briefcase as their mechanism for Seth Rollins to save Roman Reigns from having to lose to the just-resigned Brock Lesnar while the crowd wanted to light Roman on fire. This was a fun match and one of those times you know WWE is totally clueless to how to book Reigns, they basically made him look like a giant bitch to Brock. And the crowd went for Brock. Not surprisingly. Anyway, fun match. The rest of the matches – not sure if you’ve picked up on a theme yet OF COURSE YOU’VE PICKED UP ON THE THEME – the Ladder Match was fun and WWE’s attempt to be like “LOOK SEE WE LOVE BRYAN PLEASE ACCEPT HIM IN THIS MIDCARD MATCH.” Sting LOST his debut match to HHH in one of the most mind-boggling decisions I can imagine while being surrounded by the entire clique and the New Age Outlaws where The Monday Night Wars exploded and there was like 400 years of age combined in the ring. Orton and Rollins was a snore too aside from the finishing move – and everything else was pretty much worse.
WE MADE IT!!! THE OCCUPATION IS OVER!!! LONG LIVE THE RESISTANCE!!!
Tags: Bray Wyatt, Brock Lesnar, clashy ring attire, Daniel Bryan, HHH, John Cena, Randy Orton, Roman Reigns, rusev, seth rollins, Sting, undertaker