It was a night filled with intrigue, excitement and history.  Wrestlemania 28 was held in front of over 73,000 screaming fans, outdoors at Sun Life Stadium, in Miami, Florida. The entrance ramp was long, the set was decorated with palm trees, and it was really neat to see an event of this magnitude held out in the elements, for only the fourth time in its history. The crowd witnessed championship changes, a brutal “Hell in a Cell” Match, with a great ending, and a main event that was “Once in a Lifetime.” The opening match was for the World Heavyweight Title.

The World Heavyweight Champion, Daniel Bryan fought Sheamus. It was the fastest match in the history of Wrestlemania. The challenger kicked the champion as soon as he entered the ring. The referee counted the pin, and Sheamus became the new World Heavyweight Champion. While I am happy that there is a new champion, I am rather disappointed that these two talented wrestlers were not given more time. It seems unfair that Bryan lost the title in only eighteen seconds. Hopefully, he receives a rematch soon, which, I hope is a longer one, so that both wrestlers would be given the opportunity to display their talents.

The Intercontinental Championship was also at stake when the champion, Cody Rhodes wrestled the Big Show. In the weeks of build up to this match, Cody kept insinuating that Big Show could not win at Wrestlemania, and constantly showed some of the losses he suffered. The Big Show’s record at the event was 3-8. However, despite the record, and constant attacks by the champion, Show persevered and knocked Cody out with a huge fist, which he refers to as the “Weapon of Mass Destruction” to win his first Intercontinental title. The Big Show was elated, and so were the fans, after the referee counted the pinfall. There was an open display of emotion by Show, when he was handed the title. I felt happy for Show because he was able to get back at Cody for all the insults leading up to the match. I was also thrilled to see his reaction to winning his first Intercontinental title. I just hope he can defend it for a long time. It will be interesting to see who defeats him for the I.C. Title – who knows, maybe it could be Cody Rhodes, or maybe someone else.

In the world of the WWE, there are four words that instill fear in the hearts and minds of wrestlers – Hell in a Cell. This will always be a violent match. Wrestlemania 28 featured the The Undertaker against Triple H, inside Hell in a Cell. The special referee was Shawn Michaels. First, The Undertaker made his entrance to the ring in his usual manner – lights off, with flickering flames. He walked up the steps, and dramatically removed his hood to reveal a new hairdo. It looked like he was bald. The fans were shocked – and I am sure a lot of people who watched were shocked at his new look. Weapons were used by both wrestlers, chairs, steel steps, and whatever else they could get their hands on. Triple H kept attacking Taker’s back with a chair, and when he stepped back, Shawn always asked if he wanted to quit, to which Taker said ‘no’.

As the match progressed, the Undertaker kept attacking Triple H in a corner of the ring, then stepped back for a while. Triple H got back up, and defiantly dared his opponent to “bring it”. The Undertaker, not the least bit threatened, “tombstoned” his adversary for the pinfall. This resulted in the Undertaker extending his historic Wrestlemania streak to 20-0. Fans applauded both men’s efforts. But, something memorable happened at the end that was unique. Shawn Michaels was tending to his long-time friend, Triple H, as the winner watched on. The Undertaker, then, offered his hand to his opponent. In a sign of good sportsmanship, compassion, and respect, Taker, and Shawn, helped Triple H up, and escorted him to the backstage area. Before these three legends reached, they stopped on the stage, and shared an embrace.

The match was very enjoyable, and it took a lot out of both these stellar performers. I am thrilled the Undertaker is now 20-0 at Wrestlemania. But, more importantly, I am glad I witnessed a rare moment of good sportsmanship and compassion among three of the WWE’s all time best. And, I am sure the fans in attendance felt the same way.

Later in the show, C.M. Punk wrestled Chris Jericho, for the WWE Championship. A ruling was added prior to the match: If Punk was disqualified, he would lose the title. With that ruling, Jericho knew what he had to do. He tried several times to make Punk “snap” by talking about the champion’s family, and making fun of their substance abuse. That was a continuation of the storyline that was building over the past few weeks. Yes, Punk became angry, but was able to control his temper. These two athletes wrestled with great athleticism and skill. They were able to escape each other’s moves frequently, and kept the packed crowd engaged, engrossed and entertained throughout the match. Punk was able to counter a mover by Jericho, and turn it into his own submission hold – the Anaconda Vice. Chris tried to hang on, but eventually had no alternative but to tap out. It was a tremendous match between two very skillful and talented wrestlers. I hope there will be more matches between the two – especially if the WWE continues with the “substance abuse” storyline.

As much as the crowd enjoyed all the matches, there was one that everyone wanted to see. It was between John Cena and the Rock – the most anticipated match of the evening, which was one year in the making. Cena was heavily booed by the audience. As soon as the Rock entered the arena, the hometown crowd became boisterous and loud. When the two opponents came face-to-face in the centre of the ring, the entire stadium became electrified – it was reminiscent of when the Rock and Hulk Hogan had their match at Wrestlemania 18, at Toronto’s Skydome.

When they kicked out of each other’s finisher moves, the crowd went wild. However, Cena’s became a little too cocky, and that led to his downfall. With the hometown hero on the mat, Cena attempted the Rock’s own move – the “People’s Elbow” on his opponent. While John was running across the ring, the Rock jumped up, applied the Rock Bottom, and covered Cena for the final pinfall. The crowd was in an uproar and everyone screamed and yelled when he was announced as the winner.  With the Rock in the ring, celebrating, Cena rolled outside of the ring, and sat on the ramp, deliberating the next step in his career.  As much as I wanted Cena to win, because he will be with the company for the long term, the right wrestler won. With the Rock victorious, the WWE sent the crowd home happy.

Wrestlemania 28 was a tremendous show filled with heart stopping action, memorable moments, pomp and pageantry. The ambience set the tone for a fantastic open-air event. It was an evening where spectators witnessed a display of camaraderie and respect by legends of the sport – a true lesson on sportsmanship. It was also one which disappointed viewers at the beginning. However, the proper balance was established, and fans enjoyed a magnificent and grand display of skill and talent. Hats off to the WWE officials for executing such a grand and splendid show.

Azeem Kayum

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