Views from the Hawke’s Nest: Wrestlemania 2012 Review
Commentators: Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler
Lillian Garcia started the show by singing America the Beautiful. I thought this was quite good.
They aired an awesome package that hyped Rock/Cena and HHH/Undertaker. Video production is probably what the WWE is most consistently great at.
Daniel Bryan© (w/ AJ Lee) vs. Sheamus (World Heavyweight Championship)
Sheamus won the 2012 Royal Rumble and then proceeded to beat someone every week, and sometimes twice a week. Then, Sheamus randomly lost this past Monday. Weird.
Bryan has a great Wrestlemania robe. So many “YES” signs in the crowd. The bell rings, and Byan calls a timeout to kiss AJ Lee. Sheamus then promptly hits a Brogue Kick: 1…2…3.
As a consumer of the product, the way this match unfolded greatly displeased me. I wanted to see two very talented wrestlers have an awesome match and I never got to see them try. However, this really shouldn’t be surprising. Bryan has largely been booked as a “slip-on-the-banana-peal champion” whereas Sheamus has been booked as an unbeatable monster. If the WWE really wants to push Sheamus hard, him looking weak against an “unworthy” champion does not do him any favors. I’m not saying I liked what happened (because I didn’t), but understanding is the first step to forgiveness.
Match Rating: DUD
Team Johnny Ace is in the back with matching T-Shirts. I already hate this show, so I really couldn’t be bothered to recap what happened. I will say that Johnny Ace has a fantastic suit.
Kane vs. Randy Orton
I wrote in the 411 Roundtable preview that seeing the match lengths of this match vs. the World Heavyweight Title match would reveal a lot about Vince McMahin’s priorities these days. I guess we already know because neither of these men will be made to look nearly as bad as Bryan just was.
Both men use punches early on as the crowd chants for Daniel Bryan. Orton tried for the elevated DDT, but Kane hotshotted him and then hit a big boot. Kane got the heat with a chinlock. They traded more punches until Kane hit Orton in the throat. Kane then hit a delayed sidewalk slam, as Cole got in his first “vintage” of the evening. Orton came back with a swinging neckbreaker. Kane cut him off again by sending him into the turnbuckle. Kane hit a big delayed vertical suplex. Kane locked in another resthold. Orton avoided another sidewalk slam and hit his nifty backbreaker. Orton followed that up with a snap powerslam. Orton sent Kane into the turnbuckle and then hit the elevated DDT. Orton called for the RKO. Kane avoided the RKO and hit a big boot: 1…2…NO! Kane went for his big top rope clothesline, but Orton managed to dropkick him in mid-air. Orton went for the concussion punt, but Kane goozled him and hit a chokeslam: 1…2…NO! Kane pounded Orton in the corner with more punches. Kane avoided another RKO attempt. Kane went to the top rope again for no reason and Orton punched him repeatedly. Orton went to the middle rope to do something, but got goozled again: Middle Rope Chokeslam: 1…2…3
Wow, Kane won a singles match over a main eventer in 2012. They have been cooling Orton down for a while now and I don’t really know why. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a rematch between these two at Extreme Rules.
Match Rating: **
Santino Marella, Mick Foley, Ron Simmons, and a dude were backstage. I don’t usually recap commercials, so I don’t see any reason to recap this.
Cody Rhodes© vs. The Big Show (Intercontinental Championship)
The build for this match actually worked really well. Unfortunately, I think Cody is about to lose, but hopefully he’s not made to look like a bitch in the process.
Cody also got a great robe for Wrestlemania. The bell rings and Cody immediately starts to run away from Show. Cody lured Show to the outside and tried for a plancha. Show caught him though and just tossed Cody back into the ring. Show started to work over Cody after that. This included Show giving him the Stinkface. Cody avoided the flying asshole, and managed to take Show down with multiple low dropkicks. Cody locked in a leg submission. Cody broke the hold to slam the leg into the mat. Cody locked in the leg submission again. Show came back with some lariats. Cody ran to the top rope, but Show goozled him. Cody managed to slam Show’s arm on the rope. Cody then hit a Beautiful Disaster. Cody went for another one, but Show speared him (well, it was supposed to be a spear). Show then hit the Knockout Punch: 1…2…3.
Short and predictable. The story of the feud pretty much dictated that Show win the title, so no one can be really surprised. Despite this loss, I see big things happening this year for Cody Rhodes (or maybe I am just being a hopeful fool).
Match Rating: *1/2
Next, the WWE aired their
propaganda campaign video package where they try to convince us that the WWE Divas have the best job in the world. They strangely leave out the part where they are forced into a farting gimmick.
Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres vs. Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos
I give Maria credit for agreeing to do this match with broken ribs. That must suck.
Some light “Daniel Bryan” chants to start the match. Kelly hit a hurricanrana early. Eve went for a moonsault, but Kelly knocked her down. Maria tagged in, so that she and Kelly could do a double stinkface. Eve quickly cut off Maria, and the heels started to work over Maria by attacking her ribs. “Daniel Bryan” and “YES” chants filled the arena. Eve taunted Maria with some booty shaking. Maria kicked her out of the ring and managed to tag in Kelly. Kelly ran wild on Beth. Kelly hit a neckbreaker and super somersault Thesz Press. That was a cool spot. Eve attacked Kelly though. Beth tried to hit a Glam Slam, but Kelly reversed it into a bulldog. Kelly tagged in a nervous Maria, who was still selling. Maria went to the top rope. Beth met her up and Military Pressed her. Kelly saved Maria and then Maria rolled up Beth: 1…2…3. The Divas Champion just got pinned by the host of a show on E!
This has to be the strangest first hour in Wrestlemania history. This was honestly not that bad. Kelly busted out some “Wrestlemania Spots” and Maria didn’t look too bad. The WWE gave up on promoting a serious women’s division a long time ago, so it’s really hard for me to get too passionate about it.
Match Rating: *1/2
Shawn Michaels cut a cryptic promo in the back about the Hell in a Cell match tonight. It was cryptic in the sense that HBK teased that he could decide the outcome tonight, but he would not say who he was biased towards.
Jim Ross came out, so I guess Taker still has some sway in the back.
The Undertaker vs. Triple H with Shawn Michaels as the Special Guest Referee (Hell in a Cell)
Shawn is thankfully not wearing cut-offs. Shawn seemed to genuinely enjoy getting to come out to his entrance at Wrestlemania again. Triple H looks very healthy. Undertaker revealed his mohawk. Is he joining Ricochet and CIMA as the third member of the Spiked Mohicans?!?!?! Undertaker looks good for a 47 year old in need of a hip replacement.
They start by trading punches. Taker won out and tossed HHH to the outside. Taker sent HHH into the cage and then hit a backdrop on the floor. Odds on Taker hitting a suicide dive tonight? Taker controlled the early part of the match. Shawn tried to check on HHH at one point, but Taker just shoved him away. Back in the ring, HHH hit a facebuster, but Taker no-selled it and went right back to working over HHH. Taker hit Old School. Taker sent HHH to the outside again, and Taker then hit him in the face with some steel steps. Taker placed the base of a steel steps set in the ring. HHH crawled into the ring, but Taker set him up on the apron and hit the legdrop. Back in the ring, HHH hit a DDT out of nowhere. HHH bashed Taker’s head into the steel steps. HHH tried to hit an early pedigree on the steps, but Taker backdropped him. Taker used some strikes on HHH, but HHH hit the Double A spinebuster on the steel steps. Wow, what the fuck was Taker thinking? HHH goes to finish him, but Taker locks in Hells Gate! HHH manages to Rampage Powerbomb Taker onto the mat. HHH got a chair and hit Taker in the back with it. HHH looked to be bleeding on the forehead. HHH went to work on Taker’s back with the steel chair. Shawn tried to pull HHH back, but HHH would have none of that. Shawn tossed the chair out of the ring. HHH told Shawn just to end the match if he wanted it to end. HHH hit Taker’s back some more with the chair. Taker told HBK to not stop the match, as HHH told Taker to quit. HHH gave him one more big whack in the back with a chair: 1…2…NO! HHH told Shawn to end it, but Taker told him not to. HHH pulled out the sledgehammer. Shawn tried to stop HHH, and HBK begged Taker to let him ring the bell. Taker refused and HHH hit him in the face with the sledgehammer: 1…2…NO! HHH went for an unprotected sledgehammer shot to the face, but Shawn grabbed the hammer. HHH told Shawn to end the match. Shawn told Taker he was sorry. Shawn hesitated, and Taker locked in the Hells Gate on HBK! HHH hit Taker in the face again with the sledgehammer! HHH check on Shawn, but he was incapacitated. Taker low-blowed HHH and then locked in Hells Gate! HHH grabbed the sledgehammer, but he lost control of it! HHH got the sledgehammer again, but HHH fell to the ground. Shawn, himself, still had not recovered. CHARLES ROBINSON RUNS DOWN TO SAVE ANOTHER UNDERTAKER MATCH! Taker hits a chokeslam: 1…2…NO! Take stumbled to his feet and killed Robinson with a chokeslam. Taker went for a Tombstone, but HHH escaped and sent Taker into a SWEET CHIN MUSIC FROM HBK! PEDIGREE: 1…2…NO! SHAWN FLIPPED THE FUCK OUT! That was an awesome sequence of events. HHH grabbed the sledgehammer, but Shawn held him back again. HHH tossed HBK into the cage. TAKER SAT UP! Taker then made a huge comeback on HHH. Taker hit a Tombstone: 1…2…NO!!! Taker then did the infamous faraway stare that he did when Shawn kicked out of a tombstone at Wrestlemania 25. These two old fucks got to their knees and started trading strikes. They made it to their feet and traded more strikes. HHH avoided a Tombstone and hit a pedigree: 1…2…NO!!!!! I am on the edge of my seat if the exclamation points didn’t give it away. Taker sat up again. Taker struggled to his feet, as HHH grabbed his sledgehammer. Taker grabbed the steel chair. Taker stepped on the sledgehammer and then killed HHH with chairshots. Shawn now had to hold back Taker from attacking HHH. Taker pinned HHH: 1…2…NO! Taker’s back was all bruised up from his previous chair shots. HHH grabbed the sledgehammer again as he struggled to his feet. Taker now told him to stay down. Taker easily blocked a sledgehammer shot and just shook his head at HHH. HHH gave a Crotch Chop and walked into a sledgehammer shot to the head. Taker pulled down his straps and slashed his throat. TOMBSTONE PILEDRIVER: 1…2…3.
If I were any of these three men, I would suggest that none of them ever step in a WWE ring again, because this was as good of a way as any for them to all go out at once. When I re-watched Taker’s previous 5 matches at Wrestlemania, I noted that his Wrestlemania 27 match with HHH did not hold up as well as the others. My main complaint was that the storytelling kicked in too late. Here, the storytelling was started early and they kept it up throughout the whole match. The WWE may have wasted the first hour of the show with bad booking, but this was all incredible.
Match Rating: ****1/2
Shawn helped Undertaker to his feet and they apparently had one of those conversations that only the two of them will ever hear. HBK and Undertaker helped HHH to his feet and the three of them walked to the back together. The WWE inexplicably cut away from this and showed highlights of the end of the match. That was silly. Luckily, they cut back before they get to the back and we see all three men hug. Fantastic moment.
WWE showed highlights of Saturday’s Hall of Fame ceremony. Edge’s new haircut is rather snazzy. Howard Finkel then introduced the Hall of Fame Class of 2012 to the live crowd. Edge was the only one to get his own music for this.
Heath Slater tried to become a part of Flo Rida’s show tonight. Rida slammed Slater into the wall. I believe Curt Hawkins and Tyler Reks showed up, but it’s been so long since I have seen either of them that I can’t be sure.
Team Johnny Ace (Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Miz, Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre, & David Otunga with Johnny Ace, Vickie Guerrero, & Brie Bella) vs. Team Teddy Long (Kofi Kingston, The Great Khali, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Booker T, & Santino Marella with Eve Torres, Nikki Bella, Aksana, Hornswoggle, & Teddy Long)
This is a match. Little known stipulation, if Team Teddy loses, Booker T will have to go by the name of ‘Jimmy T.’
Kofi hit a diving cross-body early on Ziggler. R-Truth hit a spinning forearm on McIntyre. Khali tagged in and chopped McIntyre. Booker T tagged in and worked over McIntyre. Otunga attacked Booker, which allowed the heels to work over Booker T. This heat segment went on for a surprisingly long time. The babyfaces on the ring apron tried to get the crowd into the match, but the crowd wasn’t buying what they were selling. Booker managed to hit an axe kick on Miz. The match broke down. Was there not even a hot tag worked into the structure of this match? Ryder, Kofi, and Truth hit stereo dives on the heels. That went off without a hitch surprisingly. I spoke too soon about the hot tag, as Santino made a hot tag and proceed to kill the Miz. Santino hit the COBRA: 1…2…NO! Dolph made the save. Ryder made a hot tag, and the crowd booed him as they should. Eve got in the match to celebrate prematurely with Zack Ryder. The distraction allowed The Miz to hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Ryder: 1…2…3! JOHNNY ACE IS THE GENERAL MANAGER OF RAW AND SMACKDOWN! YES YES YES!
Weird match, but at least the more entertaining General Manager is in charge of both shows now.
Match Rating: *
Eve tried to comfort Zach Ryder after the match, but she instead just kicked Ryder in the balls. What a geek this Ryder is.
Johnny Ace tells CM Punk that he doesn’t want a brawl, but instead, he wants a wrestling match. So, he has decided that if Punk gets disqualified, he will also lose the belt. Man, do I hope that is just a red herring.
CM Punk© vs. Chris Jericho (WWE Championship)
These guys had good TV matches during Jericho’s second run with the WWE, so I think this has the potential to be quite great.
Story early was that Jericho was trying to bait Punk into getting disqualified. Punk was trying to control himself. Punk went for the Savage Elbow early, but Jericho rolled to the floor. Punk then hit a diving clothesline to the floor. Jericho berated Punk about his family some more, and Punk almost hit Jericho with a chair. Punk resisted but only just. Jericho hit a middle-rope dropkick to finally cut off Punk. Jericho went for a Silver King dropkick, but Punk was ready for it. They ended up on the apron until Jericho just clotheslined Punk into the ring. Jericho followed that with a suplex to the floor. That was a Wrestlemania bump. Back in the ring, Jericho hit a Welcome to Chicago Motherfucker. Jericho followed that with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Punk went for a move off the turnbuckle, but Jericho grabbed him and just slammed him onto the mat. Jericho went for the bulldog, but Punk sent him into the turnbuckle. Punk came back with a series of strikes, a leg lariat, and twisting neckbreaker: 1…2…NO! Punk hit the running knee in the corner, but Jericho slammed him down. Jericho went for the Lionsault, but Punk got his knees up. Jericho tried for the Walls of Jericho, but Punk escaped and hit a high kick: 1…2…NO! Punk went for a Savage Elbow again, but Jericho got his knees up to block it. CODEBREAKER! Punk’s momentum forced him to the outside. Jericho rolled him back to the ring, but then walked into a Go-2-Sleep: 1…2…NO! Jericho got his leg on the ropes. Punk hit a few kicks and then a snap powerslam: 1…2…NO! Jericho came back and hit a Lionsault: 1…2…NO! Jericho went to the top rope, but Punk met him with a series of strikes. Punk went for a super hurricanrana, but Jericho reversed it into a WALLS OF JERICHO! Punk just barely made the ropes. Jericho thought he won for some reason. Punk sent a charging Jericho to the floor, which allowed Punk to hit a suicide dive. Punk’s momentum caused him to crash into the wall. Punk then hit the running knee so that Jericho’s head crashed into the ring post. Punk went for a springboard clothesline, but Jericho hit a codebreaker: 1…2…NO! Crowd did not buy that as the finish. Weird. Jericho berated Punk some more. Punk went for a Go-2-Sleep, but Jericho escaped. Punk went for it again, but Jericho again escaped. Jericho went to the top rope, but Punk hit a kick to the kidney. Punk got him on his shoulders. Jericho escaped though and locked in the LIONTAMER! Jericho re-positioned it into a regular Boston Crab. Punk crawled, but Jericho pulled him back in the middle of the ring. Punk escaped and they traded small packages. Punk locked in the Anaconda Vice! Jericho kneed his way out of it. Jericho went for another Boston Crab, but Punk escaped got the Anaconda Vice! JERICHO TAPS OUT!
This was a really well thought out match that was hurt by a dead crowd. The crowd may have been disenchanted by the sudden additional stipulation about Punk losing the title via disqualification, but regardless, it took them a long time to seemingly care at all about this match after the entrances. Suffice to say though, I found this match to be really compelling once Jericho stopped trying to get a DQ win, and I hope to see a rematch down the line.
Match Rating: ***1/2
Brodus Clay came out and announced that the entire stadium was going to call their mommas. Apparently, Brodus’s Mom was here: Momma Clay. Momma Clay came out and danced with her “Bridge Club.” Michael Cole made a Big Momma’s House joke to prove how hip he is. Then there was a dance party. $65
Puff Daddy came out to introduce musical act, MGK. Skylar Grey was awesome on that Dr. Dre song that was really an Eminem song. The dude from MGK tried to argue that John Cena was the underdog. Ok. John Cena came out with a new shirt. LOL. In a nice moment, Cena went and hugged Arnold Skaaland’s widow wife at ringside. He did the same thing at last year’s Survivor Series when the Rock wrestle his only other match in the last seven years. Flo Rida came out to sing for The Rock. Flo Rida seemed to be singing live, but they also played his recording of the song. Weird. The Rock made his entrance. It felt pretty epic.
John Cena vs. The Rock
To say that the stadium was electric for this would be an understatement. They do a test of strength and Cena wins it. They do another one, but Rock wins this one. Rock did some armdrags and La Magistral Cradle: 1…2…NO! That would have been the best finish ever. Cena almost ran into a sharpshooter, so Cena rolled to the outside. Back in the ring, Cena hit some power moves and locked in a seated bear hug. Rock got to his feet, but Cena managed to send Rock to the outside. Cena sent Rock ribs first into the barricade and onto the announce table. Back in the ring, Cena hit a belly-to-belly suplex: 1…2…NO! Cena locked in a bear-hug. Curse the people who discovered the bear hug and the nerve pinch. Rock escaped and hit a DDT: 1…2…NO! Rock hit his running clothesline and spinebuster. Rock set up for the People’s Elbow, but Cena went for the STF! Rock escaped but then walked into a Protoplex. Cena hit the 5 Knuckle Shuffle as “Same Old Shit” chants rang out. Cena went for the FU, but Rock escaped and they did the double clothesline spot. I would describe the crowd as restless. I think that bear hug was a bad call. They got to their feet and started trading punches. Rock got the advantage, but Cena then hit the FU: 1…2…NO! Cena dragged Rock to his feet, only for Rocky to hit the ROCK BOTTOM: 1…2…NO! Cena went to a corner, and Rock laid in some strikes. Cena came back and hit a sidewalk slam: 1…2…NO! A sidewalk slam? Cena went to the top rope and hit the super FameASSer: 1…2…NO! Shades of Rock’s feud with Mr. Ass. Cena went for a FU, but Rock grabbed the ropes and escaped. Rock hit a spear and locked in his sharp shooter. Cena made the ropes. Rock did some ground and pound, before locking in the sharp shooter in again. Cena made the ropes again. They ended up on the outside of the ring, and Rock then sent Cena into the steel steps. Rock rolled back into the ring, and Cena hit a sunset flip, which he transitioned into a STF. Rock almost made the ropes, but Cena pulled him back into the middle of ring. Rock almost passed out, but he was eventually able to make the ropes. They got to their feet and Cena walked into a Samoan Drop (HE’S HALF-SAMOAN!). They traded more punches. Cena avoided a Rock Bottom and Rock avoided a FU. Rock then hit a spinebuster…PEOPLE’S ELBOW: 1…2…NO! That not being done in front of the hard camera pretty much gave that away as a nearfall, but that doesn’t explain why the live crowd didn’t but it. Cena then got a small package: 1…2…NO! Cena got another rollup: 1…2…NO! Cena dragged Rock to the top turnbuckle, but Rock shoved him off. Rock then hit a diving cross-body! Cena caught him and hit the FU: 1…2…NO!!! That was a fucking good nearfall. Cena got cocky and then set up for the People’s Elbow, but Rock caught him with a Rock Bottom: 1…2…3!
On one hand, I enjoyed this match for what it was, but I can’t help but feel underwhelmed by how unremarkable it seemed. My biggest gripe is that the match just didn’t feel fun in the way other “all-star matches” have felt in the past. Cena used two different bear hugs in this match. Why? There wasn’t any big importance to the work on Rock’s ribs so why even bother? The match was almost too normal, when it could have used some (minimal) crowd brawling, a broken Spanish announce table, and/or something similar.
Also, I’m curious about what you all thought of the Rock’s performance. To me, he looks to be in great shape cosmetically, but he seemed awfully gassed at different points in the match, and I can’t imagine doing a 25+ minute singles match was the best way to come back (Because let’s face it, he worked the Survivor Series match for 5 minutes. That was hardly a comeback match). He also seemed slow, without the cocky, energetic swagger that he wrestled with during his peak.
As for the Rock winning, I think it’s justifiable simply just because that’s what the live crowd demanded. Is John Cena less over for losing this match? I think the answer is ‘no’ and that he may become more over with the WWE’s male demographic over time if he loses a lot more than he wins on PPV and TV. However, is the WWE setting a bad precedent by having the “visitor” go over the loyal “soldier” who will be on every TV and PPV for the rest of the year? Possibly. It really depends on the follow-up. I happen to think this matchup is happening two more times with John Cena winning both of them, so I was not as upset as others with the result. What did you all think?
Overall, this was a fun and historically significant main event, but it seems like it could have been more.
Match Rating: ***1/2
The 411: Going into this show, I was only looking forward to four matches, and three of those matches delivered (to varying degrees). While I was pleased with Taker/HHH, Punk/Jericho, and Cena/Rock, I can’t help but feel that the rest of the show mostly felt like a waste of time with very few redeemable moments. If the WWE is going to continue to charge a lot of money for their PPVs, I think they should strive to offer much more bang for their buck. Still though, it was Wrestlemania and the three most important matches delivered: Thumbs up for Wrestlemania 28.
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