"What a wild night.."
Hustle's Monday Morning Mayhem - WrestleMania 30
Apr 7, 2014 - 12:15:41 PM
Writer's Note: This column does consist of some WrestleMania 30 results, so if you're one of those people who haven't watched the show yet and don't want anything to be spoiled for you, click back on your browser and come back after you've watched it. I just want everything to be clear beforehand.
Ten Things I Think I Think
1. Bret Hart VS Owen Hart has some new competition for Greatest Opening Match in WrestleMania History. Well, if you aren't counting the pre-show match, that is. Daniel Bryan VS Triple H made a lot of sense in its placement on the card. As mentioned on commentary, Triple H probably had the match go on first, with the thought that he would be victorious and could then use a few hours of rest and recovery time before having to wrestle again in the main event. The match itself was the roller coaster that everyone expected it to be. It was physical, it was emotional, it had near falls, and it had the added element of Stephanie McMahon at ringside, hamming it up (hi, Al) like perhaps we've never seen her do before. It was your normal "smaller underdog VS larger favorite" style of match, with Triple H showing his dominance on numerous occasions, but with Daniel Bryan continuing to fight back, no matter what. When Bryan won the match.. clean, via pinfall.. he joined the following group of people that have defeated Triple H via pinfall or submission at WrestleMania: The Ultimate Warrior, The Undertaker, Chris Benoit, Batista and John Cena. That's one WWE Hall Of Famer, three soon-to-be WWE Hall Of Famers, and one that would have been a WWE Hall Of Famer if not for the final weekend of his life. Quite the group to be included in. It was also a nice touch to have Trips attack Bryan after the match, "injuring" him even further, and increasing Bryan's odds of winning the title in the main event.
2. So much for the rumors of The Shield's demise. At one point, we had rumors and talk of The Shield either breaking up at WrestleMania, or leading up to WrestleMania (with a Triple Threat Match between the three being the apparent match choice). Coming out of WrestleMania, not only is the group still together, but they absolutely dominated last night, defeating Kane and The New Age Outlaws in under three minutes. As it stands, you could argue that all three members of the group are future main eventers, with Roman Reigns getting his monster push, Dean Ambrose being the "IWC favorite", and with Seth Rollins coming out of nowhere to be the Jeff Hardy-style super-flashy worker that will excite against anyone he's in the ring with. Could all of this change? Of course. They could be broken up before Raw goes off the air. However, as of this moment, it does appear that WWE has had a change of heart about the group after noticing how over they were getting. When they battled Bray Wyatt and his Family, it became immediately evident that they could make it as faces. I think the company took notice, and the group has stayed together longer than anyone thought they would.
3. Cesaro has arrived. He had a busy night, that's for sure. It all began during the pre-show, where he and Jack Swagger were the final team remaining with The Usos, and when it looked like we would get new Tag Team Champions, there was more miscommunication between the Real Americans, and The Usos retained. After the match, Swagger teased turning on Cesaro, only for Zeb Colter to calm him down. When it looked like Swagger and Cesaro would do the proverbial "kiss and make up", Cesaro locked Swagger in the Giant Swing to a big face pop and swung him 'round and 'round, much to Zeb's dismay. Appearing later in the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, Cesaro was there at the end, rounding out a Final Four that included Big Show, Sheamus and Alberto Del Rio. When Sheamus and Del Rio both eliminated each other, the "easy" choice was that Cesaro would fight hard, but eventually be eliminated by the odds-on favorite, giving us a "giant" winning the match to honor a "giant". It went back-and-forth for a bit, but when Cesaro lifted Show up for a scoop slam, a la Hulk Hogan with Andre The Giant at WrestleMania 3, the place went crazy. Cesaro eliminated Show and appears to have arrived as a top-flight face in the company. I'm really looking forward to seeing how he's handled as a face, especially now that he doesn't have Zeb to do his speaking for him. Cesaro isn't a terrible speaker or anything, but English isn't his first language, which is almost always a death knell in the world of WWE.
4. I don't get WWE's protection of John Cena, even as one of Cena's biggest fans. I've lost track of how many times that Cena has faced an up-and-coming wrestler, only for Cena to win and move on to another feud. There are times when it's warranted, and there are times when it isn't. This was one of those times when I don't feel it was warranted. I predicted that Bray Wyatt would win the match, although it would come after plenty of interference from Luke Harper and Erick Rowan. Cena could go on to win the war, so to speak, but this battle should have belonged to Wyatt. Now, don't get me wrong.. the match was entertaining, and it told a great story. All throughout, Wyatt wanted Cena to show the world what kind of "monster" he (Cena) really was, and we got glimpses of that, with Cena wrestling a more physical style. The end came with Wyatt giving a steel chair to Cena, then dropping to his knees and ordering Cena to use the chair on him, which would have proven that Cena really was the "monster" Wyatt has said he is. Cena didn't use the chair on Wyatt, and I get that part.. unless you're going to go all out and turn Cena heel, you can't have him doing despicable heel things like that.. but that was the right opportunity for the interference-heavy ending I mentioned. When Cena went after Rowan, who had hopped up on the ring apron, with the chair, that was the time for Harper to interfere, or for Wyatt to use the distraction to his advantage and get the win. Put them in some sort of gimmick match at Extreme Rules for Cena to get his revenge, but this should have been to put Wyatt over as something special, and not just another young worker that can't beat Cena. Instead, we just got Cena hitting the Attitude Adjustment and pinning Wyatt. Quite the disappointment. However..
5. We may have found this year's version of "Fandango-ing". At multiple points throughout the match, the WWE Universe broke out into singing of the spiritual hymn that Wyatt likes to sing in some of his promos, "He's Got The Whole World In His Hands". They would sing the chorus, and sway their arms back and forth as if they were at some concert. It was an incredible thing to watch unfold, and with Wyatt continuing to get more and more over with live crowds, you have to expect that to grow, as well.
6. In my 27-plus years of watching professional wrestling, I have never.. never.. been as shocked as I was last night. Of course, I'm referring to Brock Lesnar ending The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania. I'm not sure that anyone really and truly believed that Brock was going to win the match. I know this, because not a single person in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome reacted to the pinfall. There was just silence. Pure, deafening silence. I've never seen anything like that before. For Pete's sake, the cameras cut to Brock Lesnar Guy in the crowd, and even he wasn't cheering for Lesnar's victory. He was, like every other wrestling fan on the planet, stunned. I even used the word "gobsmacked" on Twitter to describe how I felt. There have been so many shocking moments and results in wrestling history, but this one.. The Undertaker, 21-0 in his career at WrestleMania, losing to part-time wrestler Brock Lesnar, after what most people felt was a subpar build to the match.. takes the cake. You know what, though? No matter your stance on whether or not Taker's streak should have ended, or if you think Lesnar should have been the one to end it, you have to admit that it's a great thing WWE was able to pull a "swerve" like this off. In this day and age where we're all too smarky for our own good, and we're of the "seen it all" mentality, they got us. They really and truly got us. I think this picture pretty much sums up everyone's reaction when the referee's hand hit the mat for the third time..
7. I'm not a fan of The Streak ending in this fashion, but it's not my call. For years, I've been in the camp of people who think Taker should lose to someone at WrestleMania, but that it should be someone that builds for the future. No matter how entertaining the builds for his matches with Shawn Michaels and Triple H were, losing to them wouldn't be building for the future. On the other hand, if he were to lose to, say, Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan or Bray Wyatt, that could set things in motion for an entire decade-plus to come. Hell, if he lost to John Cena, who could turn heel in the process, it would kick off the "Heel Cena Era", which would probably last several years. I don't really expect Lesnar to be wrestling for the company for the next decade or so. His current contract expires early next year, when he will be on his way to his 38th birthday. There's a decent possibility that he won't last with the company beyond WrestleMania 31. Yes, Taker putting him over makes him 20 times the badass that he was coming in, but it only builds for the near-future and not the long-term, in my opinion. However, as I said, it's not my call. It's not your call. I truly believe that it's the call of one man and one man only, and that's Taker himself. I don't think anyone pitched the idea to him that he should lose to Lesnar last night. We've been seeing rumors through the years that Taker has hand-selected a couple different people that he would want to lose to at Mania, but those ideas were shot down because he had more to offer. Perhaps he officially told the company that this was going to be his final match, and things went from there. If Taker didn't want to keep his streak, I don't think anyone would have stood in his way. If you're mad that he lost, be mad at him. Don't be mad at WWE, or at Triple H, Vince McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, Ed McMahon, or Ed Begley Jr.
8. Unless you're going to put Emma in a feud with AJ Lee, or call Paige up from NXT, it might be time to retire the Divas Title. How many times does AJ have to defeat every single person in the division? Just a quick search provides the following stats:
- AJ has defeated Natalya five times in title matches
- AJ has defeated Naomi twice in title matches
- AJ has defeated Brie Bella four times in title matches
- AJ has defeated Nikki Bella once in title matches
- AJ has defeated Cameron three times in title matches
That's counting last night's match result, by the way. That means Aksana, Alicia Fox, Emma, Eva Marie, Layla, Rosa Mendes (who may throw the worst "there's a lot of people in this brawl, so I'll half-ass my strikes because nobody will notice" strikes in the history of ever), Summer Rae and Tamina haven't lost a "normal" title match, but who is clamoring to see those matches, anyway? As of today, AJ has been the Divas Champion for 295 days, which is 91 days longer than any other reign in the title's history, and is the longest reign for a woman in WWE since Trish Stratus held the Women's Title for 448 days from January 9th, 2005 to April 2nd, 2006. It's the seventh-longest reign for a woman in company history, with a couple reigns able to be passed in the not-too-distant future. What else is she supposed to be accomplishing? Give her some new opponents, or scrap the entire thing at this point. It's turning into a joke, at a time when many people view the WWE Divas as jokes to begin with. If you want to speculate a bit, look no further than Paige at Axxess and on WWEShop.com right now. Various NXT stars have autographed pictures for sale, and all of them are stamped with the NXT logo.. except for Paige, whose pictures feature the WWE logo with no NXT logo to be found. I'm not saying, but I'm just saying.
9. The Triple Threat Match perfectly encapsulated Daniel Bryan's journey to this point, perhaps on a shoot level. He walked in as an even bigger underdog, basically a one-armed man in a match against the WWE World Champion and a near-300-pound "animal". He had those in charge try to stop him, with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon returning during the match to try and screw him out of the win. He had bigger and stronger wrestlers trying to hold him down and get their shine at his expense. He overcame every single bit of it and was successful on his own. It told a fantastic story, and it had fans emotionally invested in what was happening. Bryan's title victory was well-deserved, a long time coming, and a magical moment that will live on in wrestling lore. I've been telling people, all along, that I would probably shed tears of joy if he were to win the title at WrestleMania, and when it actually happened, I did, indeed, shed tears of joy. I cried tears of happiness, not necessarily for Daniel Bryan, the wrestler, but for Bryan Danielson, the person, and what he has been through. Having talked to him on several occasions, he's as nice a person as you'll ever find, and he has worked so hard to reach this point. Just a great, great moment.
10a. It was an incredibly successful night for WWE. A $10.9 million live gate. 75,167 people in attendance, good for the fifth-largest crowd in WrestleMania history. A WWE Network video feed that was just about as close to perfect as you can get all night long, which helped to convert those who were waiting on this night to gauge whether or not they were going to purchase the Network, and that helped to justify the decisions of those who had already purchased it, as they've already gotten their money's worth, with more "free" pay-per-views to come. Everyone was talking about the event, with mainstream sports media getting in on it because of Brock Lesnar, and regular mainstream media getting in on it because of Batista, Hulk Hogan, and the appearance by The Rock to kick the show off (in a segment with Hogan and "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, no less). Everything just worked out for the company, and they have to be very proud of themselves this morning.
10b. Because people are always asking about these kinds of things, I do have some match ratings. They are as follows..
- The Usos VS Real Americans VS Rybaxel VS Los Matadores: 3 stars
- Daniel Bryan VS Triple H: 4.5 stars
- The Shield VS Kane & The New Age Outlaws: 1.25 stars
- Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal: 2 stars
- John Cena VS Bray Wyatt: 3.25 stars
- The Undertaker VS Brock Lesnar: 2.5 stars
- Vickie Guerrero Invitational: 1 star
- Randy Orton VS Daniel Bryan VS Batista: 3.5 stars
10c. People are rushing to things by saying this was the greatest WrestleMania of all-time. This may go down as one of the more memorable or newsworthy WrestleManias of all-time, sure, but best/greatest? I can't go that far. WrestleMania 17 still holds that crown, if you're asking me, which, by reading my column, you kind of are. At Mania 17, I gave a whopping eight matches a rating of three stars or higher (Chris Jericho VS William Regal, Raven VS Big Show VS Kane, Test VS Eddie Guerrero, Chris Benoit VS Kurt Angle, Shane McMahon VS Vince McMahon, The Dudley Boyz VS The Hardy Boyz VS Edge & Christian, The Undertaker VS Triple H, The Rock VS Steve Austin), and three of those matches went over four stars (Benoit VS Angle, Dudleyz VS Hardyz VS E & C, Rock VS Austin). Because of Taker's loss, and because of Bryan's long journey to the top of the company, Mania 30 is going to get a lot of publicity and will see people as prisoners of the moment. Entertaining show? Very. One of the best? Probably in my top five, with 17, 19, 21 and maybe 8, if you're forcing me to choose right now. The best, though? Nope.
Factoid Of The Month That May Interest Only Me
That's actually a lie, as this is a factoid that should interest all of us. WWE just announced that they already have over 667,000 subscriptions for the WWE Network, not even a month-and-a-half after launching the service. If you remember, their highly-publicized goal for the end of 2014 was to have a million subscriptions. They could very well have topped that number in North America alone within a couple months, especially now that the feed for WrestleMania was essentially perfect and you'll see much more people biting the bullet and signing up without fear of technical glitches. The WWE Network is already off to a tremendous start, and appears to be much bigger than any of us could have expected it to be.
Tweet Of The Night
"I only have two words: THANK YOU"
No, thank you.
Who I Like Tonight
- First and foremost, expect one of the most animated promos of Paul Heyman's career, which covers a ridiculous amount of ground, where he'll be as over-the-top and obnoxious as ever in gloating over his client ending The Undertaker's streak.
- Daniel Bryan's first challenger will undoubtedly be Randy Orton. Orton not only has his rematch clause, but he'll be able to say that he wasn't involved in the fall last night, since Bryan made Batista tap out. However, you have to think the company is building towards a possible Bryan VS Brock Lesnar match for SummerSlam, which I'm very excited about. Even more exciting? Cesaro is positioning himself for a possible main event spot, meaning more of Bryan VS Cesaro in our future. Even more exciting? Bryan could face any member of The Shield, or Bray Wyatt, or Dolph Ziggler, or any number of candidates that would be able to put on some very entertaining matches and feuds. This is an exciting time in the main event scene.
- Do I think CM Punk makes his return tonight? Forced to choose, I'd say no, but I think this is as good a time as any for it to happen. I don't think he "deserved" a WrestleMania payday since he walked out, but now that Mania is over, we could get Punk returning, refreshed from his "vacation". Let's not forget.. WWE likes to make a big splash on the Raw after WrestleMania, and Punk's return, like him or not, would do just that.
- I do, however, think we'll get the return of Rob Van Dam tonight. Popular opinion is that he'll be aligned with Paul Heyman, due to their history together, but does that make Heyman a face or RVD a heel? Heyman could use someone new to be aligned with now that Lesnar will probably go on hiatus until the road to SummerSlam begins, so it makes sense, but the heel/face dynamic is a bit off.
- We're going to end up having a super raucous crowd, like is becoming tradition on the night after WrestleMania, and that's going to make this the most must-see episode of Raw we'll get all year long. Don't miss this one, ladies and gentlemen.