The passion! The electricity! The boisterous, capacity crowd! These elements were all part of what is considered the biggest event on the WWE calendar – Wrestlemania. The 30th edition of this spectacle emanated from the Superdome, in New Orleans, Louisiana, which seated over 75,000 fans. The night was filled with tremendous, heart-pounding action, but started with something really, really special.
The host of the event was Hulk Hogan. He welcomed the fans to the event at the ‘Silverdome.’ Obviously, the crowd booed the mistake. Hogan kept making the same mistake (I do not think it was planned – just got caught up in the excitement.) In his promo, he also remembered his ‘Wrestlemania Moment’ when he bodyslammed and defeated Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania 3, inside the Silverdome, in Detroit. Then, the familiar sounds of glass shattering blared over the speakers. When the music hit, the crowd rose to their feet to welcome the legendary “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. What a moment it was! Hogan and Austin face-to-face, trading friendly barbs back and forth. The crowd enjoyed every minute of this. Finally, another surprise – The Rock’s music blasted over the PA system, as the wrestler walked to the ring, soaking in the audience’s adulation. When he entered the ring, both he and Austin ganged up on Hogan, teasing him about messing up the arena’s name. At the conclusion, the three men said their catchphrases, and shared a beer.
What a phenomenal way to begin the show with three of the all-time greats. This was an ode to the history of ‘Mania, and the crowd just loved it, and so did I. It was Wrestlemania, with a different slant. It was creative, and for die hard wrestling fans, a historical moment. If this was the only significant moment that occurred at this event, I would have been happy, but there were many moments ahead on this night.
The opening contest was to decide the final entrant into the main event WWE World title match, as Daniel Bryan battled Tripe H. Each time Triple H performed his ‘pedigree’ finisher, his opponent, would either kick out, or reverse the move, frustrating Triple H. He tried utilizing every trick he could think of to upend Bryan, but none of it worked. After an exciting 25 minutes, Daniel Bryan used a running knee to knock down and pin Triple H. What a match it was!
With the win, Daniel Bryan earned a shot at the World title later in the night, and was one step closer to realizing his dream. Triple H, however, was not happy. As Bryan celebrated, Triple H’s wife, Stephanie McMahon, entered the ring, and slapped Daniel. With Daniel distracted, Triple H attacked Bryan’s previously injured arm, leaving him hurting and writhing in pain, while Triple H and Stephanie looked on, pleased with the damage they did. In the end, while the post-match attack was unnecessary, it painted a picture of the odds being stacked against Daniel Bryan for the main event match.
In honor of the late Andre the Giant, the WWE held a battle royal. There were thirty wrestlers in the ring at the same time, so it was pretty chaotic. The final two were Cesaro and the Big Show. It seemed like the easiest thing to do was the give Big Show the win, as there are similarities between him and Andre. But, instead the company did the right thing by having Cesaro throw Show over the top rope to win the battle royal. I credit the WWE here for giving the young Cesaro, his biggest win and a memorable moment for him at Wrestlemania.
One of the main attractions of ‘Mania deals with the undefeated streak of the Undertaker. This year, he was looking to go to 22-0 against Brock Lesnar. This was a hard-fought, but sometimes slow contest. The Undertaker tried his ‘tombstone’ on Lesnar a few times, but Brock would not stay down. Lesnar attempted his ‘F-5’ finisher on his opponent twice, but ‘Taker would not give in. Fans were showing their enthusiasm with this back and forth action. After a few more minutes, Brock hit his ‘F-5’ again. This time, the Undertaker did not kick out. To the shock of the 75,000 people in attendance and those watching at home, Brock Lesnar ended the Wrestlemania undefeated streak of the Undertaker. As a result, The Undertaker is 21-1 at Wrestlemania. The crowd was stunned, speechless, and some even began to cry.
I always believed the streak should not have ended – ‘Taker should have retired with it intact. I am sure for this result to have happened, the Undertaker would have had to agree to it, because of the prestige involved. But, in my opinion, if the WWE wanted to end the streak, he should have lost to someone who is younger, and can benefit from something as historic as beating the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. When the match was over, it was like 75,000 people were at a funeral, but about an hour later, they were in a state of euphoria.
The main event was a three-way match for the WWE World Heavyweight title as Randy Orton battled Batista and Daniel Bryan. Remember, Bryan was inserted into the match as a result of beating Triple H earlier. What a match this was! A pivotal moment occurred outside the ring. Orton and Batista were double-teaming Bryan. They positioned Daniel on the announcer table, and they performed a move where Batista set Bryan up for a ‘Batistabomb,’ and Orton applied an ‘RKO’ while Bryan was in the air. Both Orton and Daniel crashed through the table, which resulted in Daniel Bryan being carried off on a stretcher. The crowd started chanting “NO, NO, NO.” So, it seemed that Bryan was out of the match, but that was not the case.
When the medical personnel were pushing the stretcher up the ramp, Bryan got up, shoved the doctors away and re-entered the match. The crowd could not contain its excitement. As the match progressed, an irate Triple H entered and tried to interfere. It seemed like all hope was lost – Daniel Bryan could not possibly fight three tough men and win….. Or could he?
Despite the odds stacked against him, Daniel Bryan did not give up. To end the match, he knocked Orton to the outside, and applied the YES lock on a fallen Batista in the middle of the ring. He held off for as long as he could, but Batista eventually tapped out. After nearly eight months of being beaten down physically and emotionally by “The Authority” (Triple H, Stephanie McMahon, Kane, Randy Orton and Batista,) Daniel Bryan overcame the odds and finally realized his dream of becoming WWE World Heavyweight Champion. He earned his Wrestlemania moment. The final image was what I am sure the WWE wanted – 75,000 people chanting YES! YES! YES!
What a monumental night for the WWE. The company really emphasized the next generation of superstars at this event, giving guys like Cesaro and Daniel Bryan their Wrestlemania moments. I hope the company keeps the belt on Bryan for a few months, because I think he will be a fighting champion. I also hope they push Cesaro – he has too much talent to let it go to waste. The same can be said about the Shield. The WWE should be proud of the performances their wrestlers displayed that night. The emergence of the new generation of superstars gives wrestling an exciting future. I am sure fans will look forward to upcoming shows with great anticipation.