Friday, 6 April 2012
WWE PPV Review: WrestleMania 28
By Phil Allely
WrestleMania is the event of the year as far as the WWE are concerned, it gets a huge build up and the company always try to pull out all of the stops to ensure the card has the odds stacked in the companies favour.
2012’s event was centred around two mega match-ups, movie star The Rock’s return to the ring against company figurehead John Cena and the return match between Undertaker and Triple H. Both matches were highly anticipated and well prepared for, the question was would a Hollywood star, and two part-time wrestlers (alongside the only full time roster member Cena) be able to maintain the crowds attention and keep everyone interested in proceedings?
The dark match opener saw the combos of The Uso’s and Justin Gabriel/Tyson Kidd tackle WWE Tag Team Champs Primo/Epico in a fun encounter. This was of course left off the PPV, but will undoubtedly feature on the DVD release. The champions retained the gold after some nice exchanges.
WrestleMania proper kicked off with the World Heavyweight Title match-up. Challenger Sheamus made short work of his opponent Daniel Bryan here. Bryan spent a short while stalling and then caught a hard ‘brogue kick’ to lose the match and his treasured belt. Shamus is now once again flying the flag for Ireland as world champion.
Next up Kane and Randy Orton had a decent scrap, both men tried their best to keep things moving along and they did it admirably. Kane pulled off the win with a second rope ‘choke slam’.
The Intercontinental Title was on the line next, champ Cody Rhodes defending his gold against the mammoth Big Show. This was good David/Goliath stuff, show overpowered Rhodes with ease and Cody used his wits and skills to bring the big man down to his size as often as he could. A spear and knockout punch from Show finished things though, giving us our second title change of the night.
As per usual the Divas were given very little time to build momentum in their match. Here we saw Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres face Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos. The teams worked well, the moves were reasonable performed and each got a few moments to strut their stuff. Menounos rolled up Phoenix to pick up the win for her team.
The Hell in a Cell match between Undertaker and Triple H was a much hyped affair and one that we all hoped would match that build up. Undertaker had been off TV and out of the ring since Mania 27 and Triple H had been semi-retired since that brutal match-up too. Adding the cell and special guest referee Shawn Michaels to the mix was sure to help gloss over any ring rust the competitors had. We also got to see the new short-haired Taker too.
The HIAC match was as expected a back and forth violent encounter (of course with no blood). The pair utilised the steel structure to their advantage and Michaels kept the pace moving well too. The combatants worked well together and made the magic from last year happen once again. Undertaker’s Mania winning streak was on the line of course and the audience did think it was possibly going to come to an end. The match ended after numerous trademark moves, near falls and ref bumps. Taker eventually nailed a ‘Tombstone’ to put Triple H down for the three-count. With the 20-0 sign flashing Taker, Michaels and Triple H embraced on the stage to huge applause.
After a Hall of Fame video package, featuring The Four Horsemen, Edge, Ron Simmons and Mike Tyson, amongst others. We were once again back to the matches.
The unnecessary team match between Team Laurinaitis and Team Long was up next and even with the winning team leader becoming both Raw & Smackdown GM it didn’t set the world alight.
This enjoyable, but at times plodding scrap saw Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, The Miz, Drew McIntyre and David Otunga (Team Laurinaitis) face Zack Ryder, Kofi Kingston, The Great Khali, R-Truth, Booker T and Santino Marella.
With so many bodies around the ring this was a match of short set-pieces, near falls, swift tags and comedy moments. The end saw The Miz hit the ‘skull crunching finale’ on Ryder to win the match for his team.
Post-match Eve struck a low blow on Ryder to hint at a heel turn.
Picking the pace up after the previous encounter were Chris Jericho and CM Punk. Here they were battling for Punk’s WWE Title and the speculation was that even with his band on tour over the Summer Jericho was on form to take the gold home with him in this one.
Punk and Jericho pulled off a superb match, thy built it perfectly, gelled wonderfully as opponents and traded near falls with ease. This was anyone’s match it seemed, the fans were really into this one. Punk eventually overcame the sneaky Jericho for the tap out win via ‘anaconda vice’.
After a one year build-up the main event between John Cena and The Rock had an awful lot to live up to. Fortunately it did just that and more, this was a match for the ages and one that saw The Rock roll back the years and highlight just how good he is as a performer.
The crowd were firmly behind Rock throughout, Cena receiving an unhealthy amount of boos. The pair went through their routines well, it may have been a meticulously planned match, but to casual fans this looked awesome in its delivery.
Rock looked slick as ever and delivered each move as crisply as he did in his prime, Cena for his faults went through the motions and both hit their trademark moves for near falls too. The match finished as predicted with the Rock successfully nailing a ‘rock bottom’ for the popular pin.
WrestleMania was a very good card from the WWE, we saw some new champs crowned, one man become the Raw/Smackdown GM and two epic encounters play out before our very eyes.
Some of the matches will be re-enacted during the upcoming WrestleMania Revenge Tour, but the big results here were Undertaker once again holding on to his winning streak, The Rock beating Cena in their grudge match and in the subsequent Raw the return of Brock Lesnar to the company.
By Phil Allely