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Csonka’s WWE WrestleMania 31 Review 3.29.15

March 29, 2015 | Posted by Larry Csonka
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Csonka’s WWE WrestleMania 31 Review 3.29.15  

As a reminder, this will not be another traditional recap, but instead it will be a mash up of the Rs, Instant Analysis and my usual Twitter ramblings I would do during the shows; completely uncensored and as the ideas flow unfiltered to the old keyboard. Remember, this is a review; and I am here to review the show. As always, I encourage discussion and even disagreement, just do so in a respectful manner. I will be doing the review for Raw and most PPVs and iPPVs going forward.

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WWE WrestleMania 31 Review 3.29.15

~ IC Title Ladder Match: Daniel Bryan defeated Barrett, Truth, Ambrose, Harper, Ziggler and Stardust @ 13:50 [****]
~ Randy Orton defeated Seth Rollins @ 13:15 via pin [***½]
~ No DQ Match: Triple H defeated Sting @ 18:30 via pin [***]
~ Paige & AJ Lee defeated The Bella Twins @ 6:42 via submission [**]
~ US Title Match: John Cena defeated Champion Rusev @ 14:30 via [***¼]
~ Undertaker defeated Bray Wyatt @ 15:15 via pin [**]
~ WWE World Heavyweight Title Match: SETH ROLLINS defeated Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar @ 16:40 via pin [****½]

* 411’s Scott Slimmer has the regular report at this link.

IC Title Ladder Match: Champion Bad News Barrett vs. R-Truth vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Stardust: They did the big brawl at the bell, which led into a series of dives and bodies flying everywhere. Stardust tried to introduce a bedazzled ladder; Luke Harper then did the spinning Terry Funk ladder spot, which was appreciated. Harper about killed Ambrose when he powerbombed him from the ring and through a bridged ladder. Barrett started to lay people out with the bull hammer, until Bryan fought back and took him out with the knee. Bryan and Ziggler then battled on top of the ladder for the title, including a head butt battle. Ziggler finally dropped and Bryan won the title. That was a really fun match and a great way to kick off the show; it ended up being what I thought it could be and what it needed to be. They worked in some brutal looking stuff, and delivered on the big stage. As we all know, the booking of the title has been pretty horrible. I hope that they rededicate themselves to the title and the champion; basically they need to go full Nakamura with Bryan and the title.

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins: They played up the fact that Orton was at one time the face of the WWE, while Rollins is the new face of the WWE. Orton controlled early and had a few teases of the RKO, but J&J distracted him, Orton took them out with the hangman’s DDT to the floor (on both at the same time) but then Rollins got control following a suicide dive. Orton went old school baby face and hit a high cross off the top, but Rollins rolled through for a near fall. Orton countered the asai DDT from Rollins; hit the RKO but then Rollins kicked out at 2. J&J returned late, they ate RKOs to protect Rollins, who then hit the curb stomp, but Orton kicked out at 2. Following a roll through on the Phoenix splash try, Rollins went for another curb stomp but Orton pressed up and then caught him with an RKO…

…and scored the win. Typical booking of a MITB holder, Rollins likely should have won, but they feel that he’ll cash in soon so he’ll be fine. Also the thinking is that Orton would be an instant challenger if Rollins successfully cashed in. Overall a good singles match, one that to me suffered on two fronts. One, it was a bit of a slave to the slower, more methodical Orton style. With a guy like Rollins, I feel Orton should have gone more out of his comfort zone and sped up the pace. Two it was a cliché of a Mania match, pulling out stuff you don’t always do and finisher kickouts. Some of that really needs to be reserved for the main matches, not the second match on the card. I enjoyed it overall, and felt that they did a good job but it could have been better considering the talent of both guys.

* Sting is apparently oriental as they had an oriental percussion group play as part of his entrance. The Hs had the big Terminator influenced entrance.

Sting vs. Triple H: They worked a very Flair vs. Sting style early, and considering Triple H’s idolization of Flair and that those were some of Sting’s best matches, it makes sense. Sting looked to score with the scorpion deathlock, and then DX’s music hit. Road Dogg, X-Pac and Billy Gunn all ran down and Sting took them out before they could get in. He then went up top and hit a dive onto the pile of bodies. Sting would later kick out of the pedigree, and then as Triple H got the sledgehammer, the nWo (Hogan, Hall and Nash) appeared. It feels like everything they wanted to do in 2001. The now took out DX, and Sting got a near fall off of the death drop. Sting got the scorpion deathlock again, Hogan took the sledgehammer away but then got posted by X-Pac, More brawling on the floor, Scott Hall took a bump on the floor as Sting held onto the deathlock. Triple H made the ropes, but then HBK appeared and superkicked Sting, which resulted in a near fall. Both men got their weapons of choice; Sting broke the sledgehammer in half and took back control of the match until Triple H used the head of the sledgehammer to KO Sting as he tried a second Stinger splash and that was it for Sting. The two factions squared off post match, and then Triple H and Sting shook hands because they are friends now. I was set to rant about this, but thinking about it the entire package came off as a way to give Sting his moment on the big stage and to lose without losing anything due to all of the shenanigans. I mean it really did feel like everything they wanted to do when WCW closed and that they finally had the chance to it so they did. Anyway, we all knew that this would be smoke and mirrors and that’s exactly what we got here. I don’t think Triple H should have won, and I am personally sick and tired of the 90s nostalgia acts. I didn’t hate it though; I had no idea what to think about the match going in but they put together something that was entertaining and that the live crowd loved. It was more of a spectacle that a regular match, which you can get away with at a big event like this as long as it isn’t a regular thing.

* Pat Patterson, Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat, Flair and Bret Hart all congratulated Daniel Bryan on his IC Title victory. Ron Simmons arrived. Damn.

Paige & AJ Lee vs. The Bella Twins: The story was that the Bellas kept attacking and sending AJ to the floor, leaving Paige to fight on her own for the first half of the match. Paige played Ricky Morton and finally got the tag to AJ. Paige sent Brie to the steps late, and AJ got her black widow submission on Nikki for the win. It was a big sloppy at times, but they did some nice stuff. I was hoping that they could get some more time, I think if they had a few more minutes that the beginning comes off smoother and they have a better match. The faces win, the evil heels lose on the big show after all of their shit talking and all is well.

* We get WWE Hall of Fame highlights.

* We now get the parade of new Hall of Famers.

* Rusev got the Russian national anthem and had a TANK for his entrance.

* We for an “AMERICA, FUCK YEAH” style video package for Cena. Unfortunately he did not recreate the Apollo Creed entrance from Rocky IV, nor did he wear the American Flag themed trunks. I’m starting to wonder who the real communist is here…

US Title Match: Champion Rusev vs. John Cena: Rusev controlled early and then decided to celebrate with the Russian Flag, which ended poorly as Cena battled back on him. After Cena got some run, Rusev took control and kept controlling, but was getting frustrated when he couldn’t put Cena way. Cena would manage to get Rusev in the STF, and Lana threw a shoe (who throws a shoe, really?) for a distraction, and Rusev got the ropes. He later hit a top rope head butt, and another near fall with Rusev continuing to sell his frustration. Cena then pulled out his Mania “I don’t do this move” and hit a springboard stunner. Rusev got the accolade, Cena fought and then powered to his feet and slammed Rusev to the corner to escape. Lana tried to distract Cena, Rusev charged and knocked her off the apron by accident and Cena hit the AA for the win. I think we all expected Cena to win the title, and that is all well and good (even if I disagree with it) but the trick here is to build a match that puts doubt into the mind of the person watching. You have to build the peaks and valley and finally get to a crescendo and deliver the entire package. I felt that they had a good match, they worked hard but the match built a bit, and then kind of plateau’d and never hit that next level. Also, Rusev falling so easily at the end was a disappointment because he had been built so well that I feel Cena should have had to hit him with much more than the one AA off of the Lana bump. Again, I liked the match, but I really feel that they are capable of much more. Hopefully Cena winning the title will FINALLY, along with Bryan’s win, mean a new focus on those titles. I won’t believe it until I see it, but I can hope.

* Triple H and Stephanie announced an attendance of 76,976. Stephanie then cut a promo, seemingly being thankful for the fans, but then she and Triple H took credit for it all to turn this into a heel promo. Triple H gloated about his win, saying that he felt like he has defeated everyone and also says he own everyone. Enter The Rock. They went back and forth, Stephanie said that Rock would be nothing without the McMahon’s and Rock made dick jokes. Stephanie slapped him then talked trash to him. Rock dropped to the floor and we got “Ronda Rousey” chants as Rock stood in front of her. She hopped the rail and they got into the ring. Stephanie tried to say that she and Ronda were friends and put her over saying that she’d never mess with her in MMA, but this is the WWE and her ring. Ronda said any ring she gets into is hers and dared Stephanie to make her leave. Rock and Triple H brawled, Ronda judo threw Triple H and then Stephanie tries to slap her and Ronda teased arm barring her and tossed her down. I guess that’s our set up for Rock vs. Triple H (or even a mixed tag) at Mania 32.

* Bray Wyatt comes to the ring with zombie scarecrows. TAKE THAT WALKING DEAD SEASON FINALE!

Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker: Taker controlled early and hit some trademark stuff to show that “he’s still got it,” before Wyatt took over and worked him over. Wyatt laid taker by the post and then charged and crashed taker’s head, but he ran into the steps while doing so and came up limping. Likely designed to cover the ankle injury that was reported earlier in the day. Taker later countered Sister Abigail with a chokeslam, hit the tombstone but Wyatt kicked out. Taker called for a second tombstone, but Wyatt hit Sister Abigail for a near fall. Taker countered Sister Abigail, hit another tombstone and won. After the intros and then Taker hitting his trademark stuff early, the crowd seemed completely disinterested. They did stuff, and no one cared again until they kicked out of some finishes. They tried, but it felt rough to get through, and I never got emotionally attached at any point. It wasn’t that I expected an epic, but I was hoping for a bit more.

WWE World Heavyweight Title Match: Champion Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns: Well, here we go, this should be interesting on several levels. Reigns has had something like three, one on one, PPV matches so far. Now, he’s on the biggest stage in the middle of a big push, can he deliver? Balls out brawl to begin, Lesnar was cut so he hit a German and an F5 and then stood there, not pleased that he was bleeding his own blood. NO ONE MAKES ME BLEED MY OWN BLOOD! Brock then started throwing more suplexes, and said, “Suplex City, Bitch” to Reigns. Brock Lesnar is a great man. They teased a count out spot on Reigns, who made it back and laid in knees to Lesnar, but then Lesnar sent him back to the floor and then more suplexes for Mr. Reigns as he continued to pick up frequent flier miles. Lesnar then hit an F5, but Reigns kicked out. Lesnar smiled at this and then removed his gloves and slapped Reigns and Reigns smiled at him. MORE SUPLEXES! Another F5 and Reigns kicked out again, and now Lesnar is pissed. They went to the floor and Lesnar got posted and is busted open. Reigns then hit the Superman punch and Lesnar was still up, another and Lesnar to a knee. He then countered a third, but then Reigns with head butts and another Superman punch to finally drop Lesnar. SPEAR connects, Lesnar up and another spear and Lesnar kicks out at 2. Lesnar then countered another spear into an F5 and both were down. SETH ROLLINS then made his appearance. He cashed in and they made it a triple threat match. Curb stomp to Lesnar, tried another and Lesnar countered but Reigns hit the spear. CURB STOMP on Reigns and Rollins wins the title. Rollins grabbed the title and ran up the ramp to celebrate. Lesnar and Reigns were having a really good match, and I felt that they were working things the right way with Reigns taking the beating and constantly coming back for more and actually bloodying the beast. They told a good story. Rollins winning adds a nice wrinkle to the story, Reigns isn’t quite ready so they delayed it, but he got completely fucked in the process and didn’t get, for lack of a better term, Lex Luger’d. The main event is also wide open, Lesnar never ”lost,” Reigns got screwed, and Orton beat Rollins earlier in the show; there are a lot of directions you can go from here, and that’s a good thing. Brock is so great, and showed why here, but credit to Reigns as he also stepped up. I certainly had my doubts.

* End scene.

* Thanks for reading.

* You can read my Evolve 39 Review at this link.
* You can read my Evolve 40 Review at this link.
* You can read my King of the Indies (Night One) Review at this link.
* You can read my SHIMMER 71 Review at this link.
* You can read my WWN Supershow – Mercury Rising Review at this link.
* You can read my King of the Indies (Night Two) Review at this link.
* You can read my NJPW Road to Invasion Attack Review at this link.

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“Byyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyye Felicia!”

The final score: review Very Good
The 411
Overall I’d call this a very good WrestleMania. The opener and main event delivered big time in the match quality department, and that is what you need on a big show. As for the rest of the PPV, there wasn’t a “bad” match on the card. Sure there were things that weren’t great (Taker match, divas match) but I felt everything else was good. Sting and HHH was more of a spectacle than a match, but it served its purpose and was entertaining, more so than I thought it would be. I really enjoyed Rollins vs. Orton, Cena vs. Rusev was good and again, the main event booking sets up a lot of potential scenarios going forward. Add in the moments with DX, the nWo, Rock and Rousey and we had an entertaining show that ended up way better than I thought considering the quality of WWE TV building to the event. Thumbs up for WrestleMania 31.