Friday, July 15, 2016
Before the infamous CM Punk pipebomb, 2011 was a pretty odd year. It featured John Morrison, the Miz and R-Truth as main eventers which was different to say the least. Heading into WrestleMania, the Miz was the WWE Champion and a lot of people felt that he shouldn’t head into the show as the top champion. I was more than okay with this as he stole the show leading up to the event, being more entertaining than his opponent John Cena, and the Rock. Rock had just come back and was set for a program with the Rock, making Miz the unfortunate third wheel here. This WrestleMania usually gets bad reviews so let’s see how I feel about it.
Atlanta’s own Keri Hilson opens things with a rendition of America the Beautiful. Once she’s done, the Rock comes out as he’s the host of WrestleMania 27. This is typical Rock fare as he milks this time for all its worth. He makes fun of John Cena, has the crowd wrapped around his finger and gets the crowd pumped. I get it, but it took too long for my taste. Once he’s done, we go right into the yearly WrestleMania opening video package, which is almost always great. Commentary consists of Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Josh Matthews.
In a world with two World Titles, this was the first of two times one of them opened the show. Alberto Del Rio was fresh of winning the Royal Rumble and had a sweet entrance here. Coming into this, Edge has a kayfabe injured arm, which plays perfectly into Del Rio’s finisher. Edge wins an early exchange but Del Rio throws him into the guardrail shoulder first. I’ve said it before buy the best Del Rio matches involve arm targeting. Del Rio continues to work the arm until Edge gets an opening by dodging a move. Del Rio crashes outside hard, so Edge follows with a front flip dive outside. A rare high risk move for Edge, made all the more high risk knowing what came after this match. He goes up top but it doesn’t pay off as Del Rio arm drags him off. Edge goes old school with a spinning heel kick. Del Rio continues to have counters but when he tries the Cross Armbreaker, it’s Edge who has a counter ready with the Edge-o-Matic for two. Edge tries a rollup, but Del Rio manages to counter into the Armbreaker! Edge reaches the ropes to break it though. He goes up top again, but Del Rio knocks him off with a step up enziguri. Ricardo tries to cheat, leading to Christian and Brodus brawling. Brodus uses an assist from Del Rio to take out Christian. That does serve as a slight distraction to get Edge some momentum. He misses the Spear and Brodus pulls him arm into the post before Del Rio slaps on the Cross Armbreaker. Edge is able to turn it into a near fall, before applying the rarely seen Edgecator. Christian is up and he takes out Brodus with a tornado DDT. Del Rio breaks the submission but turns right into a Spear, allowing Edge to retain.
When I originally saw this match, I didn’t remember it being this good. I really liked this though. The arm work was excellent and the use of outside parties was perfect. It wasn’t overdone and didn’t factor in too much. The drama was there with the Cross Armbreaker teases too. This would ultimately be Edge’s last match and he went out with a bang.
Before Edge leaves, he stops to kick and elbow drop Alberto Del Rio’s sweet Rolls Royce. Christian brings out a pipe and tire iron, as they vandalize the car. Poor Del Rio watches in horror. He lost and had his car destroyed. Kind of a dick move guys.
Every character that Cody Rhodes has had, he’s delivered in, but man “Undashing” Cody was money. For those who don’t know, “Dashing” Cody Rhodes needed “surgery” after a knee from Rey Mysterio and his knee brace, leading to the gimmick change. Rey is dressed like Captain America. He attacks before Cody can even take off his hoodie, snapping off a diving hurricanrana. Cody is able to disrobe following a forearm shot. As he had been doing in the buildup, Cody uses the mask as a weapon before hitting the Beautiful Disaster. Rhodes gets two on the Alabama Slam and we hear a smattering of “Let’s go Cody” chants. Rey’s comeback is thwarted by another headbutt. Cody shows off some strength with a sweet stalling second rope suplex. I know Rey is small, but that was still impressive. Rey counters Cross Rhodes by sending Cody outside. He follows with a baseball slide and sends Cody into the ring apron. He gets in some quick offense inside before trying to remove Cody’s mask. Cody busts out a wheelbarrow suplex for two. Rey tries the 619 but Cody catches his feet and slings him into the ropes for two. Cody removes Rey’s knee brace but he still hits a moonsault for two. Rey removes Cody’s mask and hits the 619. He leaps from the top but Cody gets the knees up, only to eat a kick for two. Rey applies Cody’s mask, hitting some diving headbutts. His splash only gets two though. Cody rolls outside, grabbing Rey’s knee brace and striking him with it as he tries to dive. Cody hits Cross Rhodes, wrapping this up.
I am pleasantly surprised that they got a good chunk of time. They had talked about stealing the show, which they didn’t do, but this was still very good. Both braces coming into play was smart and the finish made sense, while protecting both guys. Really solid match here.
Backstage, we see Snoop Dogg and Teddy Long. Snoop is looking for musical talent and Teddy lined some Superstars up to audition. First up is a rapping William Regal, stealing the show. The Great Khali and Beth Phoenix sing “Summer Loving” from Grease, Zack Ryder sings Rebecca Black’s “Friday” until Roddy Piper smashes a coconut on his head and then Yoshi Tatsu sings “We Will Rock You” while Chris Masters’ tits dance. Lastly, Hornswoggle comes up though he can’t even talk. Snoop and Teddy exit, leaving Hornswoggle to rap as the Bella Twins appear and dance randomly.
Seriously, this is what Wade Barrett is reduced to after his fantastic 2010? Kofi Kingston is a last minute replacement for Vladimir Kozlov. I’m not upset. The faces get in their stuff quickly, though Ezekiel Jackson takes down Big Show impressively. This leads to everyone taking each other out in a finisher barrage. Kofi Kingston hits Trouble in Paradise on Wade Barrett before diving onto his other opponents. A Cobra/WMD combination on Heath Slater ends this.
That was just here to get guys on the card. Eight guys were involved and it got less than two minutes. That’s not a good thing.
In the back, the Rock congratulates Eve Torres on becoming the Divas Champion. He says that when the next person turns the corner, he’ll create a WrestleMania moment with them. It turns out to be Mae Young who Rock calls a Divasaurus. She spanks Rock’s ass before leaving and we get a Rock/Steve Austin faceoff. They shake hands and show respect, which was rather cool.
Considering CM Punk was kind of feuding with John Cena early in the year, this seemed thrown together. Kudos to them for putting in effort to try and give this a two plus year backstory. The fight goes outside, where Punk dropkicks the steel steps into Randy Orton’s injured leg. A lot of focus on injuries and body parts tonight. Orton is selling the leg well, as even when he gets in offense, he can’t do much after. Punk gets in some of his trademark stuff, while also targeting the knee. He calls for the GTS, but Orton elbows free only for Punk to kick him. Orton crotches Punk and hits a superplex, while still selling the knee. Punk goes 1997 Bret Hart with a variation of the ring post Figure Four, which is one of my favorite moves ever. He applies a submission that Orton breaks with some headbutts. He gets in the powerslam and Lou Thez, failing to sell until he’s done with the move. He even pulls out an Angle Slam for two. Punk does a dragon screw that looks fucking lethal. Anaconda Vise is applied but Orton makes it to the rope. He hits the rope hung DDT and begins to pound for the RKO. He changes his mind, wanting to Punt Punk, which is how he took out the rest of the New Nexus. However, his leg gives out and he collapses. Orton tries the RKO but it’s blocked. Punk’s facial expression for this is masterful as he realizes he’s in control. He makes the crucial mistake of springboarding in, as Orton is able to catch him with a brilliant RKO to win.
Another really strong match that often gets overlooked. The leg work was pretty stellar and Punk, for being a guy who was kind of checked out mentally, was on point. Some solid storytelling here. Also, we had no clue that CM Punk was about to set the wrestling world on fire.
Backstage, we get a segment with the Rock, Mean Gene and Pee Wee Herman. I am not making this up. It’s actually kind of funny. This comes right before the 2011 Hall of Fame Class roundup. They all come to the stage to get recognized. This class consisted of Abdullah the Butcher, Sunny, the Road Warriors, Drew Carey, Bob Armstrong, Jim Duggan and headliner Shawn Michaels.
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin is the special guest referee for this match. Booker T and Jim Ross join commentary. Michael Cole cuts a promo as he walks to the ring and it’s awful. His heel run wasn’t him being a good heel, it was him getting “GET OUT” heat. Cole wastes time in his little announcer box but Lawler beats his ass anyway. Jack Swagger gets in a cheap shot behind Austin’s back. Cole gets on offense for far too long and it’s dull as hell. He tries a Swagger Bomb but gets so scared that he goes to the bottom rope for it. Mimicking the King, Cole pulls one strap of his singlet down and applies the AnCOLE lock. Lawler gets free and stomps a mudhole in Cole so Swagger throws in the towel. Austin picks it up, wipes his head with it and throws it back. Swagger enters to argue and eats a Stunner. Lawler busts out a damn dropkick to my surprise. He has it won with a fist drop but pulls up Cole. This has gone on FAR too long. He applies an Ankle Lock and Cole taps instantly, but Austin takes forever to call for the bell. However, the Anonymous Raw General Manager chimes in to reverse the decision because Austin overstepped his authorities.
How the hell did this get so much damn time? Michael Cole was on offense for too long, the match was terrible and probably the worst in WrestleMania history. The reversed decision made things even worse because it means we wasted a ton of time and still had to hear Cole spout nonsense for months.
Booker T gets in the ring to celebrate, busting out a SPINAROONIE! Austin shares a beer with him before taking him out with a Stunner. Then the GM makes the announcement, which pisses off the fans. Since Josh Matthews had to read the decision, he takes a Stunner too, leaving King and Lawler as commentary for the rest of the show. Well, at least there’s that.
Match two in their WrestleMania trilogy, though I’ve always liked their WrestleMania liked their Mania 17 match best. Triple H gets one of his best Mania entrances ever. They brawl right from the start, going outside. HHH tackles Undertaker though the “Cole Mine”, but he sits up quickly. Inside, Undertaker hits a clothesline and tries Old School but is launched from the top. The high impact stuff continues as they counter each other on the announce table, ending with Taker taking out HHH with a back body drop to the floor. Undertaker goes inside and nearly dies on his sick dive to the outside. Here he was at a point where he wasn’t able to fully do them. Taker charges at HHH, who catches him with a spinebuster through the announce table. Inside, Taker hits a chokeslam and they exchange counters until Taker hits snake eyes. HHH brings in a chair but eats a boot. Taker uses the chair but takes a Pedigree for two. HHH goes for ten punches in the corner but Taker counters into the Last Ride for two. Undertaker is pissed. He nails the Tombstone, but this is WrestleMania so that’s not enough. HHH comes back with a DDT on the steel chair and both men are down. There has been a ton of that in this match. They get up together and Trips hits a second Pedigree for two. He hits a THIRD PEDIGREE but again Undertaker kicks out. In a vicious showing, Triple H beats the hell out of the Undertaker with a steel chair, shouting for the Deadman to stay down. Undertaker slowly gets to his feet, only to take a chair to the skull, which was already outlawed by this point. You can bust it out when you’re these two though. HHH is pissed that he won’t stay down, so he does the throat cut signal and plants him with a Tombstone. That still somehow only gets two and the fans bite HARD on the near fall. Trips slowly backs away in shock and fear. Triple H gets the sledgehammer, but Undertaker catches him in the Hell’s Gates submission! Triple H fights hard, even grabbing the sledgehammer again before passing out.
Not the kind of match you’d see every day. It featured a fair amount of both guys being down but the storytelling here was spot on. They busted out some big spots, while Trips doing everything possible to finish Undertaker was great. The tombstone tease finish was phenomenal. I still prefer their match from ten years earlier and the Taker/Michaels series though.
To continue the storytelling and set up a third match between them next year, Undertaker has to be carted off, while Triple H walks away. Undertaker was pissed that he didn’t look like a winner and wanted redemption. Funny how he was hell bent on revenge for this but when he actually lost the Streak to Brock he was okay with it.
I’ve always liked Dolph Ziggler, but man I was a huge LayCool mark at this time. A catfight breaks out before the bell even rings, so the boys separate them. Dolph yells at Snooki and gets slapped. LayCool argue about who is going to start, ending with us getting a short Trish/McCool exchange. I’d have liked a program between them. Trish does her Matrix move, but McCool has it scouted and stomps her. The Faith Breaker is countered into a facebuster. They fight up top and both crash to the floor, with McCool’s leg getting tangled up in an ugly way. Morrison takes out Dolph before Snooki gets the tag. She busts out a handspring elbow and cartwheel before a splash finishes this.
This was fine for what it was. The fans got a bit of a cool down, got to enjoy Trish and Snooki got to have a nice little moment.
The “Hate Me Now” Miz video package before the match is one of the best they’ve ever produced and that’s saying something. Their feeling out process sees John Cena utilize his power until Miz gets in a cheap shot to change things. Miz misses the Awesome clothesline and Cena gets two on the top rope Fameasser. Miz comes back and is in control for a bit until Cena goes into the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM! He pretty much whiffs on the Five Knuckle Shuffle though. Miz gets free of the Attitude Adjustment and nails a sweet snap DDT for two. After a turnbuckle is exposed, Cena locks in the STF. Miz is able to make the ropes and Riley sends Cena into the exposed buckle. Cena hits the AA but the referee was knocked down. Riley enters with his briefcase and waffles Cena. Miz covers but can only earn a near fall. Miz takes the briefcase and hits his boy by mistake. Cena nails the AA again but Miz shocks many by kicking out. He rolls outside and Cena charges him, taking both over the guardrail and into the crowd, resulting in a double countout. Miz’s head looked like it bounced on the concrete. The crowd rightfully destroys the double countout, until the Rock comes out. The GM tries to send a message but Rock is all “IT DOESN’T MATTER” and restarts the match. Cena tries the AA again, but eats a Rock Bottom, allowing the Miz to retain!
A disappointing main event. While I liked Miz as champion, these two never really clicked, especially considering they were supposed to close the biggest show of the year. Regardless, it was literally only here to set up Rock/Cena “Twice in a Lifetime”.
Of course, WrestleMania can’t end like that, so Rock beats up Miz too and stands tall over everyone.
Overall: I feel like this WrestleMania gets a bit more flak than it should. Granted, it’s not one of the best WrestleManias ever, but there have also been plenty worse. There are eight matches and I gave half of them three stars or more. The bad is really bad (Cole/Lawler and the eight man tag) and the mediocre is painfully mediocre (Miz/Cena and six person tag). However, I thought Cody/Rey, Del Rio/Edge, Punk/Orton and Taker/HHH were all good to really good. That makes this an acceptable show but disappointing overall for a Mania. I enjoyed the good more than I disliked the bad since, outside of Cole/Lawler, the bad didn’t overstay its welcome. According to my randomizer, the next is set to be