WWE Wrestlemania XXXI Review

Did WWE right the wrongs of the past year, or did they keep up with their terrible booking? Well, if you saw the show, you know the answer.

Kick off show

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This match was exactly what you would expect. Some jumps, a few spots that were good (the double suplex spot, although sloppy was a cool visual), and a smart finish with an unknown  tag, and the right team winning.

Winners: Cesaro and Kidd

Rating: **

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Axelmania did not run wild as he was immediately gangbanged and tossed out. Shame, that was my pick. Here’s what I hated about this match. Everybody from the first match was in this one as well, the very next match. Sorry, that is terribly stupid. And all of them served as cannon fodder except Cesaro. New Day tried, but nah. Hideo Itami deserved to have a bigger more impressive showing. I thought Kane would last longer. For all of Ryback’s muscles, he’s physically impressive, but Cesaro seems to be so much stronger, it’s unbelievable. I like Ryback, but he needs to improve or get lost in the shuffle. Big Show held on at one point after being tossed in an incredible feat of strength. I don’t know if people realized how impressive that was. Cesaro held up Show for an insane amount of time.

The final 4 were Big Show, Ryback, Miz, and Sandow (I refuse to call him Mizdow as some names are terribly stupid). Ryback got frisky with Big Show, and Big Show showed him that he is a better athlete. By the way, no Sheamus. Miz then started getting in Sandow’s face and got pissy and demanding and started poking Sandow hard in the chest to the point his chest was getting red and it looked painful. Miz was great here as the fans were dying for Sandow to go off. Big Show got a breather here which he needed during this exchange. Sandow eliminated Miz. Now Big Show works on Sandow, and Sandow gets tossed, but he “skins the cat” as HBK has made famous, and he did so with little to no effort. I will proudly claim that they would try the spot where Big Show charged and the top rope would get pulled down, but it wasn’t enough. I them wisely said the best elimination of Big Show was Benoit in 2004 which was the front face lock and pulled over and out. Well less than a minute later, Sandow did it and I was oh so proud. A nice nod to Benoit. But in the end, Big Show was not to be stopped. I know it wasn’t the popular decision, especially with how poorly he gets booked, but honestly, Sandow wouldn’t benefit from this rub, he really wouldn’t, Miz would have simply destroyed the trophy tonight on RAW. On the other hand, this really meant a lot to Big Show personally and I think it was a nice thank you gesture as his career winds down after jobbing so much the past few years to put guys over and having his character ruined by the constant flip flopping. I actually liked this, although I want Axel.

Winner: Big Show

Rating: *** and 1/4* (I’m a sucker for battle royales and this was done well all things considering.)

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No Sheamus, no surprise to me. Luke Harper got cut early on. Daniel, Dolph, and Wade were used sparingly, so you just know that they will be used more towards the end. Honestly, Luke and Dean (my 2 favorite current wrestlers) really carried this match early on. They hit some sick spots. Luke more than anybody carried the match. Him and Dean had a minor hiccup on a spot for the powerbomb on the ladder, but it was so minor, it didn’t ruin things at all. R Truth and Stardust both did well. Then Wade got on fire with the Bullhammer. It was fucking awesome. It really then became the Dolph and Daniel show towards the end, and it worked incredibly well. As most people speculated, Daniel won it. I wish I had more to say. Russ openly complained about this match, and I tried to remind him, he was acting like a spoiled ECW fan towards the end of their run. Sometimes you can only have so many spots, so much mayhem and violence before it seems mundane. We are used to a lot of this stuff and sometimes it doesn’t feel so special, but considering the time that they had, the spots they nailed, how well they did it, it was a really great start. Could it have been better with 5 more minutes? Yeah, but I feel that one minute in this type of match is the equivalent to 2-3 minutes in a normal match. That shit has to kill. And we all agreed, they put on an excellent match. They set the bar, would anybody be able to upstage them?

Winner: Daniel Bryan

Rating: **** (We’ve seen better, but I am not here to compare to other ladder matches, but as a match in general, it had us cheering and yelling. That’s the sign of a great match.)

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I thought this match had potential to steal the show, and although it may not have stole it, it was very, very good. I couldn’t have asked for much more in all honesty. The near falls, Seth’s picture perfect curb stomps, the RKO’s, and the finish of the match was such a great sight to behold, the curb stomp into a sky high RKO was something that got all of us in awe. We got loud quite a few times. We were like kids all over again. Anytime that you can elicit that type of reaction from jaded fans, I feel you have put on a great match. Had they had 5 minutes more, we may have had a whole other level, but I actually liked the length of this one.

Winner: Randy Orton

Rating: ***and 3/4*

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First of all, let me talk about the netrances. I had hear Sting would have Scarecrows. Instead, we get some Asian gentleman in facepaint, one female in paint, and like the unpainted older guy in the middle who referred to as Master Splinter. This was very unique Asian music that was very awesome, but confusing. All things considering, I loved it even if it caught me off guard. I am shocked that Sting came out first though. It was great to see Sting soak it all in. Then came what may have been one of the all time greatest wrestling entrances ever, possibly best ever. I am not a person who likes to over hype things that just happened, but my god, this was fan fucking tastic. Arnold Schwarzenegger introduced HHH and plugged the new Terminator movie. It was time to play the game. We have…ya know what, words can’t do this justice. Look at this!!

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So yeah, that happened, and it had us buzzing for most of the night. The match, while not spectacular from a work rate level, was one of those matches that went beyond a 30 minute HBK vs Kurt Angle type affair. The drama, the story, stuff like that mattered more. Sorta like Hogan vs The Rock, the atmosphere was far more important. At points, DX came out, so then NWO came out to even the odds. Then HBK interjected, and by the end, HHH won. Wait, what? In my predictions, I jokingly mocked this as a sure thing as I did with Taker vs Brock last year. So this must not be Sting’s last match. I’m still very shocked, but maybe he wanted to build up a solid storyline, possibly involving Taker next year, hopefully teaming up. Sting looked very good for his age and how he had looked the past couple of years. HHH, well he’s HHH. Love him or hate him, he brings match quality. I hated how cheaply the did the sledgehammer breaking. That was sheer foolishness. All in all, I still loved the match and we were actually cheering on HHH based on his entrance, so nobody was disappointed, just surprised at the outcome. Those guys still got it. I really hate the idea that WWE always had to beat WCW. Not many WWE guys at that time were better than Sting, and yeah, Austin and Rock existed with HBK, Taker, Foley, HHH and so many other names, Sting is in some ways only behind Austin on that list overall. I know, very subjective, just one man’s very leery uncertain opinion.

Winner: HHH

Rating: **** 1/2* (In all fairness, this match told such a memorable story, and the quality was high enough to be the match of the night for me. When I think back on this Mania, I’ll remember various things, but this whole thing will be the first thing to come to mind.)

The music performance was way too long and shitty. Seriously, stop this nonsense. We aren’t paying $9.99 to watch this shit, so I guess it is the bathroom break. We kept talking about terminators during the performance and ate more pizza.

Winner: Nobody

Rating: We all lost

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Honestly, this was exactly what you would expect from this match. Paige got worked over by the Bella’s most of the match, made the tag, AJ won it. Very paint by numbers. I’m not bitching, but there was one very obvious awkward botch, and I don’t know who to blame. It was fine for what it was.

Winners: AJ & Paige

Rating: * 1/2* (Yeah, 1 and a half stars….it was what it was. I can’t say it was better than the tag match¬† which I gave 2. I want Emma and Alicia and Summer to get some lime light soon.)

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Well Rusev’s entrance was fantastic. Lana looked stunning. And then Rusev was in a fucking tank!!!! Awesome. Cena’s entrance was extremely underwhelming, but lots of Ronald Reagan, so I guess it could have been worse. The match itself was good for the time given. Cena gave Rusev a much better match than he gave Bray last year. I was soooo damned impressed with Cena’s springboard stunner. I was wowed by that, but it doesn’t beat the RKO from earlier. I thought this would go longer based on time left and only 2 matches remaining. Good solid effort, no complaints other than I would have enjoyed 5 more minutes honestly. They told the story that they wanted to.

Winner: John Cena

Rating: *** (It could have been 3 and a half easily with more time, it’s a rating based on time.)

Then we had to sit through an excruciatingly long segment started by HHH and Steph which was fine. Steph really gets it. Then out comes the Rock, and he really wasn’t all that funny sadly. Steph slaps him, and so Rock goes to the crowd, brings Ronda Rousey into the ring. Blah blah, this led to Rock hitting HHH and Ronda like did an armbar judo nonsense to Steph. The crowd was eating it up. Steph outdid HHH and Rock on the mic and it wasn’t remotely close. She has evolved so much, I’m so impressed. The segment dragged for fucking ever though, and you can call it a Wrestlemania moment, you can speculate that this sets up Rock vs HHH at WM 32, and maybe, just maybe something with Steph and Ronda at some point, if her contract allows it. Still, they could have cut it by 5-10 minutes honestly, gave it to the Cena and Orton or ladder match. Just saying.

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Well there’s the scarecrow entrance that had been rumored for Sting. This was fantastic. The thing that sucks about these outdoor stadiums is you can’t get the darkness needed for certain things. Still, Bray’s entrance was fucking fantastic. I don’t know if it was necessarily better than Rusev’s, but both worked incredibly well for their characters. OK, so it’s time for Taker’s grand entrance. And no real big pyro, no druids, no…..no……no nothing. He just came down. WHAT THE FUCK? Are they saving a big one for next year? Anyway, would Taker be in good shape, would he look worst than last year. No sir. Taker has been working out. Really working out. Shit, he looks great. I’m so impressed. I found out that earlier in the day, Bray supposedly sprained his ankle. The match started off very slow paced, which fits both guys actually. They are both more about psychology with bursts of action. If you understood that, you appreciated it. Otherwise, you may have been bored. Action did pick up, At one point both guys are down. Bray pops up in the spiderwalk pose, and then Taker sits up and gives the look. Now that to me was a Wrestlemania moment. After some good back and forth, some kicking out of finishers, Taker with ease lifted Bray and tombstoned him. Taker got some strength. Taker gets the 1,2,3. Note how great Bray looked as far as a threat. Cena didn’t do that for Bray last year. That’s the difference between Taker and Cena. That’s why you never hear a bad word about Taker, and you hear numerous things about Cena. Just saying.

Winner: Taker

Rating: *** (Yes, I admit it should be 2.75 BUT I am a biased nostalgic asshole.)

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This match had so much buzz before Brock resigned, and then he resigned for 3 more years, and then there were even more questions. Would this be an ass whooping, would it be an evenly contested match up, would it be a long match? So many things. And I will give WWE this, despite all the criticism, they really tried to make us aware that we didn’t hate Roman Reigns, we just hated his push, the too much, too soon thing. And I do like Roman Reigns. If he can continue to learn and improve, in another year or two, I think he has a chance at being something good, but he doesn’t deserve to be pushed in this moment over so many other individuals who’s time is now, no not you John Cena. The Dolph’s Daniel’s, Wade’s, and Luke’s of this world all deserve it more. And one can argue that so does the Seth’s, Dean’s, Bray’s, and Sandow’s of this crazy WWE universe. Sometimes talents get lost in the power shuffle of WWE pushing their established guys in Cena, Orton, Sheamus, and CM……oh wait, sorry. The hardcore fans are chomping at the bit for these new guys to maintain pushes before they become stagnant like Fandango, Adam Rose, Bo Dallas, and Eric Rowan have become. Then you got this group/generation of guys stuck in between that need the opportunity right now to be given the push, and see if they sink or swim, and it can’t be a Rey mysterio push, but a legit 6-12 month push to see if he can keep the crowd engaged. That is where I feel WWE is fucking us fans.

Stepping off my soapbox now.

So Brock owns Roman the vast majority of this match, “Suplex City Bitch”. Roman’s stupid new vest is cutting the hell out of Brock. We assume this is only causing Brock to launch Roman harder and farther. This is an ass whooping and it is fantastic. One fear I have is that over the past calendar year, how many F5’s have been kicked out of? The WWE is devaluing one of it’s best finishers. And I get why. Taker needed to kick out, Cena needed to, and so did Reigns, but maybe only once a match, or in Taker’s case twice. Taker is always the exception, always. Roman eventually pushes Brock into the turnbuckle, and we don’t know if Brock bladed or not. There is video footage of the ref handing Roman something prior to the move, so it is in fact possible. I didn’t think he did based on the cut, but I have been wrong a lot, so what’s one more time? Roman gets in like 3 Superman punches and 2 spears. The crowd is solidly behind the beast but Roman has his fans too. This just feels like a big match, and that is thanks to Brock, I gotta give them credit for this. Lesnar hits an F5, but he is too exhausted to capitalize. And there is Seth’s music, and the crowd is pumped. This is chaos now. Never has anybody cashed in Money in the Bank in the middle of a match, so now it is a triple threat. No shit. That was different. Once again kudos to WWE. Curb stomp on Brock. Rollins goes for it again as Roman is on the outside, but Brock catches Seth. Roman in for a huge spear on Brock. Rollins curb stomps Roman. Rollins covers Roman, and gets the 3 count. Lesnar never got pinned but lost his belt. Wow…..well played WWE! The celebration occurs. No shit. Props to WWE.

Winner: Seth Rollins

Rating:**** (It told such a great story, and there was so much speculation heading in to the match, and WWE found a way to craft that into something incredibly memorable. Hats off to all 3 guys and Paul Heyman. I really loved this match an it certain is one of my all time favorite Mania Main Events. It has to be top 5 for me no doubt. You have Cena vs HBK, Taker vs Edge, Angle vs Brock, Austin vs Rock I & II, HHH vs HBK vs Benoit, Warrior vs Hogan, HBK vs Taker II, and HBK vs Austin as probably my top 10 with this match. OK, maybe this doesn’t crack the top 5, but easily top 10. I gotta be realistic.)

Overall, I really, really liked this Wrestlemania, and I can safely say it ranks in the top 5 all time. So much better than last year’s shit fest. This year, the hype wasn’t there, but the matches were and the stories came together, and it just worked. It’s no WM 17, but that is the best for numerous reasons. Probably no match of the year contenders here unless we have an incredibly down year, but overall, very impressive. Really, nothing was too bad. Even though I am down on the Rock segment, it’s only due to the length of it. I like when the Rock can be funny and work with somebody new. I am not too fired up about him vs HHH, and I love both guys. Rock vs Rollins or Bray, now you have my attention, especially Rollins because of the humor. Pound for pound, I would say this was an 8 out of 10, maybe more type of night. Once again, it was very good in my mind.

If you have any thoughts, think I’m a total idiot or maybe you agree, please feel free to leave feedback for me. Thank you!!!

All pictures used in this blog are for review purposes. They are property of WWE and wwe.com.

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