McD and his wife are re-devoted wrestling fans for just over a year now. They’re actually paying for the Wrestlemania XVIII PPV Sunday night, so they’re kindly recapping the events more or less as they happen. Enjoy.
We start with perfectly cromulent singing from Lillian Garcia and a montage featuring various child photos of tonight’s relevant wrestlers. Then…
Match 1: Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (c) for World Heavyweight Championship
OH MY GOD I WANT DANIEL BRYAN’S ROBE. It’s the perfect mix of Ric Flair and American Dragon. F-ing fantastic heelsmanship to start the night. Oh, and the crowd is loudly pro-Bryan, much to my wife’s dismay. Not that she’s a Sheamus fan. And just like that…POOF….it’s over. Sheamus nails a brogue kick and Daniel Bryan has been squashed in under ten seconds. Sheamus is your new champion. Hopefully this leads to more helpful suggestions for AJ on facebook.
Winner and new World Heavyweight Champion: Sheamus
The official time on the match is 18 seconds, which Lawler is selling as a “new world record.” I feel bad for the guy that keeps those stats. My wife has also correctly observed that these guys look weird under natural lighting at Sun Life Stadium. Makes everyone look like a human being, which is bad if you’re in the pro-wrestling bidness.
We then get a backstage segment featuring Team Johnny, and once again the standout is from wardrobe: John Laurinaitis’s white on white suit with red tie. Again, fantastic. I feel like I should warn him about Sosa’s guys coming to kill him. Never do from your own stash, Johnny.
Match 2: Kane vs. Randy Orton
My two-year-old is apparently terrified of Kane, making him possibly the only person who actually is. I wonder if Randy Orton is upset he’s getting John Cena’s sloppy seconds. There’s nothing the lead guys for a company love more than getting the sixth best feud on the biggest card of the year.
My wife says the natural light isn’t helping Randy Orton appear as greasy as usual as a “Daniel Bryan” chant starts up in the crowd. They trade shots and the crowd is yaying and booing with every punch. Thank the Flying Spaghetti Monster they’re hot tonight because that’s the only way this match gets any notoriety. Did you know Kane and the Undertaker are a combined 92 years old?
I have to give these guys credit. They took the worst feud on the card and turned it into a solid, if not spectacular match. They both landed power moves, made each other look pretty badass, and then had a solid ending with Kane’s chokeslam off the top rope. It even got a good reaction from the crowd despite all the Affliction-nation members who are paying customers.
Maybe I’ll win one of those free trips to Wrestlemania 29 so I can finally use my “That’s Enough, Randy” sign.
Next we get a segment with Santino, Mick Foley, and Captain Keith from Deadliest Catch. Yeah. The only highlight is the appearance by newly-minted WWE Hall of Famer Ron Simmons, who really milked the ten seconds they gave him to say DAMN.
Match 3: Cody Rhodes (c) vs. Big Show for the Intercontinental Championship
After highlights of Show getting hit with chairs, brass knuckles, and boxing gloves, I think it’s past time we remind the WWE that he isn’t less susceptible to concussions and head trauma just because he’s a huge guy. I hate this incarnation of the Big Show. You can’t be a good face and be both “aw shucks, I guess you got me there, Cody” and also “I’m super angry you pointed out my Wrestlemania foibles and I’m therefore going to kill you with my bare hands on pay-per-view” in the same feud.
The Big Show, Kane, and The Undertaker are a combined 132 years old.
Everything was right about Cody Rhodes in this match, from the old-school red trunks to getting completely overpowered but not looking surprised because it’s-the-freaking-Big-Show. Admittedly, ever smaller opponent of Show’s goes after his legs as a way to equalize, but Rhodes made it look as legit as anyone has in the past year. He even took getting speared in the nuts like a champ. Unfortunately, there was no way he was winning this match.
The only “Wrestlemania moment” Big Show had was bogging down one of WWE’s best performers. Hopefully this is the last time he’s here in singles competition like this because yeesh.
Winner and new Intercontinental Champion: The Big Show
I never liked the “WMD” as Show’s finisher. I know, some opinion there. If his finisher is a punch, wouldn’t all his other punches cause similar damage? It’s not like he winds up a bunch or does anything special before he throws it. It’s just a punch with a freakishly large hand. He should be KO’ing dudes left and right with body shots or something.
Match 4: Divas tag match featuring holy hell I don’t care.
The only thing you need to know here is that Eve and the WWE Divas Champion got the jobber entrance while the broadcast was showing a commercial with Sheamus hawking video games. At Wrestlemania. At least give your champion some kind of respect, WWE.
Winner: no one. We all lost on this one.
My wife is once again insulted – as am I – that women’s wrestling is such a joke. Why even have it in the WWE if it’s going to be a half-assed mess like this? They take all the flaws in basic storytelling they use with the guys and then speed it all up and finish with a roll-up EVERY TIME with the divas.
The actual highlight of the match was my son doing a perfect front bump off our couch onto the floor, selling it like he’d just been RKO’d, then getting back up on the couch and jumping up and down again. No real tears or anything.
Finally, the sun is all the way down so the wrestlers can stop looking weird. Side note: Daniel Bryan got paid a good amount of money for that 18 second squash.
Match 5: Undertaker vs. Triple-H
I mark right the f–k out whenever the Undertaker is involved, so permit me a bit of gushing here. In terms of storytelling through wrestling, that was about as perfect as a match can be. Last year’s was a little more drawn out and had more near-falls, but this match was the distilled essence of what made this feud (and last year’s match) fantastic. Even Triple-H’s moment of defiance at the end and the three guys (Taker, H’s, and Shawn Michaels) walking out together was great. It made my wife cry. She’s pregnant, so that’s not that hard, but still. No one loves them some Undertaker more than us.
The best moment was towards the end of the hour when Triple H was going for his sledgehammer again but the Undertaker had his foot on it and a chair in his hand. The smirk on his face followed by him shaking his head was note-perfect. By the time Triple H was back up in the corner of the ring and gave Taker the D-X crotch chop, you knew it was over. Then the Undertaker did the throat-cut and got Triple H in the tombstone for the second (third?) time and the crowd went bonkers. I think they expected the Undertaker to lose this one since Trips is sticking around for a few more years. Then Taker did the whole victory pose thing before helping Michaels carry Triple H out of the ring. They all hugged near the entrance and walked out, probably for the last time for The Undertaker. Sad emoticon.
Speaking of the Undertaker, now that he’s 20-0, I hope this was his last match in the WWE or anywhere else. His Wrestlemania record will never be trampled and a random appearance in the Royal Rumble in January just wouldn’t be as cool because it’s not like he’d win because he’ll never be back full time. The guy is 47 years old. Only Flair and Hogan are crazy enough to keep wrestling after that. And Sting. I always forget about Sting. 20-0 is the perfect exclamation point for his career as one of the three best wrestlers of all time. A return for 21-0 would have to be one hell of a match to top this.
Winner: The Undertaker
Match 6: 12-man tag – Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy (winner gets control of both Raw and Smackdown)
As could be expected, the crowd was utterly dead for this match. Not even Jack Swagger’s new aqua and black trunks can liven things up. Taker/HHH was that good.
Why did all the wrestlers keep their respective shirts on? Did they think we weren’t paying attention so we couldn’t possibly tell who was on which team?
The end of this match with Eve accidentally causing Zack Ryder to get Skull-Crushingly Finale’d and then kicking him in the balls was as awful as the previous match was good. It’s just going to continue this retarded story line with Ryder and Eve and have no real ending or meaning. A few months from now, we’ll pretend this never happened. Hopefully.
Winner: Team Johnny
Backstage, CM Punk doesn’t look pleased that Team Johnny won control of Raw. And he shouldn’t be, since Johnny changed the rules to include Punk losing the title if he gets disqualified for “losing his temper.” Because Randy Orton didn’t kill that premise when Christian spit on him last summer.
Match 7: Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk (c) for the WWE Championship
Jericho’s new jacket is somehow even more awesome than his old one. The only hope this match had to top Taker/Trips is if the wrestling was perfect. And it pretty much was. The counters to their various moves were fantastic. Jericho’s suplex of Punk from the ring apron onto the floor was un-sane. No wonder these guys are all crippled. Jericho is also the third guy to end up bleeding tonight, all of which were, of course, inadvertent. Punk spent most of the match bumping like a champ for Jericho. Only Alberto Del Rio will go that far for other guys these days.
I just noticed Chris Jericho’s trunks and shin guards not only match his new jacket, but also stole CM Punk’s color scheme. They even say “Best in the World” on the ass. Jericho has been a master class in trolling since his return. Even the over-bedazzling on everything is purposeful and great. Also, the f–king Lion Tamer isn’t a Boston Crab, Michael Cole. Jericho is SUPPOSED to have his knee on Punk’s neck.
And Jericho taps after a sweet submission-and-counter sequence. This match was much more technically perfect and faster than Taker/Triple H, but will still be overshadowed once this whole show is over.
Winner: CM Punk
And out comes the Funkasaurus! And he’s got a microphone! And a new chain! And he’s telling people to call their mamas! And he actually calls his mama! I’m going to keep using exclamation points because I’m so excited!
And now I’m less excited because his “mother” came out and danced. With the whole “bridge club.” Should have just picked him on your team, Teddy Long. You deserved to lose that match and control of Smackdown.
Match 8: The Rock vs. John Cena
Whatever random guy that sings “Invincible” and the girl who sings the hook and looks like Heath Slater draw HUGE boos when he talks about being an underdog because everyone knows this is leading to John Cena coming out. Which he does in jorts and a new, green Celtics-style Cena shirt and hat. You’re making it hard to root for you, John, but I’m still with ya this time because the Rock has sucked so badly at being both a face and a heel this time around.
Pretty sure Flo Rida just came out to play The Rock to the ring riding a bike from Tron. Such late tactics trying the swing the nerd vote in The Rock’s direction won’t work on me, sir.
FINALLY…out comes The Rock.
Cena and Rock do the Rock/Hogan thing where they stare in opposite directions at the crowd then finally the bell is rung and the crowd is LOUD. They tie up and Cena throws the Rock onto his back, drawing an ooooh from the crowd. Pro and anti-Cena chanting basically hasn’t stopped since he entered the ring. The tie up and the Rock throws Cena back this time. They do a rapid exchange of holds and the Rock does a version of the cool pin/roll he used at Summerslam, drawing applause for both and a “You’ve still got it” chant from the crowd. I hope I still have “it” when I’m 40.
Cena rolls out of the ring after the Rock nails him in the face and almost gets the Sharpshooter on him. The Rock is overselling Cena’s moves in the corner while Cena is, as always, underselling comparatively. Outside of the ring, Cena drops Rocky on the announcer’s table (not like Mick Foley style) before dragging him back in for a near-fall. Rock is really selling the pain here like he actually hurt his ribs. Cena nails a belly-to-belly for a two count and is now sizing up the Rock like he might actually be able to win this thing.
The Rock goes for the People’s Elbow, but Cena almost reverses into the STF before landing a side slam and landing the five-knuckle shuffle. Don’t worry, crowd, you’ll get your People’s Elbow. They get a “boo! yay!” exchange of punches going before Cena lands the AA out of nowhere and Rocky kicks out at like 2.89999. “Let’s go Cena! Cena sucks!” still hasn’t stopped. Rock Bottom out of nowhere but Cena kicks out because of course he does.
Either the Rock’s acting is vastly improved or he’s really, really tired out there. He’s also screaming like Kelly Kelly with every kick and punch he throws. The Rock grabs the top rope to get out of the AA and gets Cena into the Sharpshooter. Don’t pass out like Steve Austin did, Cena! Cena gets out but The Rock immediately goes back to the Sharpshooter further away from the ropes this time. Cena is actually selling this for once. Cena grabs the ropes again and they’re out on the floor this time as The Rock throws Cena into the ring steps. A double count out would be a perfect ending here since the build was equally pointless. Back into the ring they go.
Cena has The Rock in the STF in the middle of the ring as a loud “ROCKY ROCKY” chant breaks out. Cena breaks the hold only to move The Rock back to the center of the ring away from the ropes. The Rock is playing like he’s passing out and then coming back. If he does the full Ultimate Warrior, I’m switching to his side.
The Rock finally grabs the rope and Cena is exhausted from maintaining the hold for so long. Cena walks into a Samoan Drop and both men are down in the middle of the ring. I guess it’s a night for the old guys to look extra tired because the Rock is stumbling around like the Undertaker. Here comes your People’s Elbow and…massive pop. Cena kicks out, of course, because The Rock has never won a match with that move. But still.
Crowd is into a “ROCKY! CENA!” fight as Cena throws the rock into the turnbuckle and gets a two count again. Have to give a lot of respect to the crowd tonight for being so into the matches.
Up goes the Rock to the top rope, landing a cross body that Cena rolls through into a full carry into the AA. Awesome sequence. And the Rock kicks out! Crowd is all on their feet now. Cena tries to mock the Rock by going for the People’s Elbow and the Rock is up and lands the Rock Bottom! 1…2…3! It’s over! The Rock wins!
Winner: The Rock
I’m fascinated by the end of that match. Cena never tries to mock people’s moves and he drew the loudest boos of the night when he went for the People’s Elbow. He’s out sitting on the ramp now looking dejected as hell. Will this lead to Cena turning heel? Probably not. Get ready for a lot of soul-searching promos from Cena over the next few weeks because there won’t be a rematch.
I’m absolutely blown away that The Rock won this match since he’s not staying around full time in the WWE. I figured the WWE would figure out some way to get the Rock to give him some respect and try to win over some more fans. Maybe Vince finally said screw it and wants the divided audience all the time.
Overall, this was a good, solid Wrestlemania. The crap first hour was saved by good-to-great matches from Punk/Jericho, Cena/Rock, and Taker/Triple H. Plus, storylines were moved along a little with Laurinaitis winning control of both WWE shows, as he should have since his team was far superior, and Daniel Bryan’s issues with AJ moving into the next level with her costing him the World Heavyweight Championship.
Otherwise…holy hell I just realized I missed the first 15 minutes of Game of Thrones. Hell. Damn. Ass. I’m out. Good fight, good night.