WrestleMania 31 Recap & Thoughts

WrestleMania 31 - FireworksWrestleMania 31 is in the books and boy was it a doozy. The reaction I’m reading on the Interwebs ranges from “Best Mania of all time” to “The show sucked except for the last 5 minutes”.  I guess it just goes to show you that regardless of how WWE decides to book a show they’ll never be able to keep everyone happy.  Overall I thought it was an above average show, far better than we’ve had in recent years but I don’t think I’d put it on the “Best Mania of all time” list. Let’s get into it…

Cesaro & Kidd Retain The Tag Titles

WrestleMania 31 - 4-Way Tag MatchThis opener was on the pre-show which started at 5:00 PM (3:00 locally). I’ll get this right out of the way… I hate open-air WrestleMania events. I hate them even more when it’s day light out. It takes away from the overall atmosphere of the show and brings back shudder-inducing memories of WrestleMania 9.

That said, it’s not the wrestler’s fault and everyone involved here did an outstanding job. This was more than a solid opener… this was a great match. I predicted Cesaro and Kidd would hold onto the titles and that’s just what happened. I’ll be honest… I thought New Day and Los Matadores were just sort of add ons to this match. I’m happy to say that I was wrong. All 8 (or 7 after one of the Usos got taken out 30 seconds into the match) held up their end of the match and worked hard. Take out the fact that many people were still filing into their seats and it was at 3:00 in the afternoon and this would have been amazing. As it was, it was still an outstanding way to start WrestleMania.

Big Show Wins The Battle Royal

WrestleMania 31 - Battle RoyalThis was the second match on the pre-show. I’m torn on putting matches on before the real PPV gets going. On one hand it’s cool to have something worth watching during a way-too-long pre-show event. On the other hand, these are good matches and they shouldn’t be missed so it essentially turns a 4 hour WrestleMania into a 6 hour event. I’m one of those who thinks 3 hours of RAW every week is too long, so you can imagine how I feel about 6 hours of WrestleMania. We actually started watching the pre-show at 7:00 when the main feed came on. By the time we fast forwarded over all the recaps, talking, and musical acts, we were nearly caught up by the time the event was over. That tells you something…

Battle Royals are tough. There’s so much going on that you’ve really got to pay attention. After the opening spot where everyone ganged up to eliminated Curtis Axel (which was pretty funny) it took a while to get going as there was just too way too crowded. Once things got going this was super entertaining. Big Show eliminated a slew of people as he should have and we FINALLY got the break up of Miz and Damien Mizdow (will he go back to Sandow now?)  That should have been a one on one match on this card in my opinion, but having the break at Mania sets up the feud for months to come. I would have preferred to see Mizdow win, but giving it to Big Show isn’t a bad choice.

Daniel Bryan Wins The Intercontinental Championship

WrestleMania 31 - Daniel BryanIf you read my prediction post, this one was a no-brainer. Daniel Bryan fans have been crying so loud for so long that WWE needed to do something to shut them up. Giving them Bryan right out of the gate was a perfect way to start the main show and get things off to an awesome start. Most of those Bryan fans won’t remember the fact that their guy went from closing last year’s event to opening this year’s but that’s beside the point.

Everyone here worked really hard and there were some downright BRUTAL ladder spots. Special recognition goes to Dean Ambrose to got power bombed to the outside of the ring through a ladder. Ouch. I’m not sure how he made it to RAW Monday night.

And while this match was top-notch, I can’t help to feel a bit let down. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but with SO much talent in the ring at the same time I thought I’d be blown away. Don’t get me wrong… I was entertained for sure but I was sort of expecting something reminiscent of the TLC matches between the Hardys, Dudleys and Edge & Christian and I didn’t quite get it (Yes, I know there were no tables or chairs here). Perhaps I’d just built the match up too much in my head. That being said, it looks like WWE is going to attemp to bring the Intercontinenal Championship back to prominence and Daniel Bryan is just the guy to do it.

Randy Orton Beat Seth Rollins

WrestleMania 31 - RKOAt this point we’re nearly 3 hours in to the event (if you count the pre-show) and it’s our first one on one matchup. Both Orton and Rollins delievered here in a match that had some great spots, that kept the crowd on their feet. I think we all knew that the “RKO out of nowhere” was coming but I’ve got to give special props to Randy and Seth for how they pulled it off here. If you’ve not seen it you’re in for a treat. Check it out here.  Pure brilliance.  I was happy to say that I missed this one in my predictions. Great match between two guys where there was no title on the line. I’m not sure where Orton goes from here but I’m guessing he’ll insert himself into the World Title picture seeing as he beat the World Champ (spoiler alert) 🙂

Triple H Defeated Sting

WrestleMania 31 - StingI didn’t see this one coming… at all. I would have bet just about anything that HHH would have done the job for Sting. I wasn’t expecting a superb match… and I didn’t get it. What we got was a pretty slow match between two guys that quite frankly looked their age. That not to say that they weren’t working hard and putting on the best match they could because they were. If it wasn’t for the outside interference from first the DX and then from the NWO this would have been a complete disatster.

I’m not quite sure why the NWO would come to the aid of Sting here. If my memory serves me correctly, Sting battled the NWO for the majority of the 1990s. Add that to the fact that we had NWO guys and DX guys going at it who we KNOW are friends… and were buddy buddy with one another the night before at the HOF ceremony and you really had to take your thinking cap off to enjoy this one. And I did just that. With the inclusion of the cluster, this was super entertaining and with a Sting loss I think it pretty much guarantees that it’s not the last time we’ve seen him on Mania stage.

AJ & Paige Beat The Bellas

WrestleMania 31 - AJ & BellaAnother match that I correctly predicted the outcome. I thought for sure that we’d see a split between the twins but even without that this was a sold match. It was in a perfect spot on the card but it certainly wasn’t a “filler” match like many Divas matches have been in the past. I’m not sure if the #GiveDivasAChance movement will continue but at least for this year’s Mania I’m happy to say that the ladies were given more than a couple of minutes to shine and they did just that.  Guessing this will launch into some sort of a 4 way feud between these gals for the title in the coming weeks & months. I also wouldn’t be shocked to see Natalya and possibly Charlotte Flair being inserted into the title picture.

John Cena Defeats Rusev For The US Championship

WrestleMania 31 - John CenaLet’s get one thing out of the way… Rusev came to the ring in a tank. A FUCKING TANK!!! Talk about a cool way to make your way to the ring. This one seemed like a no-brainer as well the way the program was built. And even though this was totally predictable it was one of my favorite matches of the night. I’m really hoping that some of the John Cena haters out there will shut up now that he didn’t wrestle his standard match. I’ve heard a few people talk about how this loss really hurts Rusev but I don’t think it did. He had the best entrance of the entire event, wrestled a hell of a match and was up against Cena who let’s face it… is the face of the company regardless of where he is on the card.

Just like Daniel Bryan will do with the IC title, look for John Cena to elevate the US title to places where it’s not been for decades.  And even if you’re not a Cena fan, that’s a very good thing.

The Rock & Ronda Rousey

WrestleMania 31 - Rock & RouseyNext up we get a super little segment that starts with HHH and Stephanie McMahon in the ring taking abut Hunter’s win and how they “own” the fans and the WWE Universe. If there was a roof it would have been blown off when none other than The Rock’s music hits and out he comes. I don’t care how many times it happens, but I mark out every time he makes a triumphant return.

After the crowd died down and actually let Rock talk, we got some back and forth between Rock & Steph which led to Stephanie slapping him. She told him to leave the ring which he did. He proceeded to bring UFC star Ronda Rousey into the ring and the 4 of them went at it with Rock taking out HHH and Rousey stretching Stephanie. The sun was still up at this point and I’m guessing WWE needed a way to stall for a while so Undertaker could come to the ring in the dark. Regardless of the reason, this was an outstanding segment and certainly made for a WrestleMania Moment.

Side note: Ronda Rousey is hot. And she scares me.

Undertaker Defeated Bray Wyatt

WrestleMania 31 - UndertakerTaker’s my all time favorite wrestler. It broke my heart when The Streak was broken last year. I still don’t think it was the right decision but that’s neither here nor there. The reality is he’s a 50 year old guy who at this point is nothing more than a special attraction.

Undertaker looked better than he did last year (which isn’t saying much) and he and Wyatt put on a better than average 15 minute affair. And even though Bray Wyatt became one of the few men who’s ever kicked out of Taker’s Tombstone finisher I can’t help to wonder where he goes from here. He’s lost his first two WrestleMania matches and no longer is associated with his “family”.  I won’t go as far as saying he got burried but I’m just not sure how he recovers from a loss to a 50 year old guy who wrestles once a year. With WrestleMania 32 being held in Undertaker’s home state of Texas, I’ve got to think we’ll see the Deadman at least one more time.

Seth Rollins Cashed In MITB To Win The World Heavyweight Title

WrestleMania 31 - Seth RollinsThis… was… amazing.  And changes everything.  I said in my prediction that one potential issue that would see Lesnar not walk out of WrestleMania with the title would be Rollins cashing in and that’s exactly what happened.  Prior to the cash in Lesnar pretty much dominated Reigns for the majority of the match highlighted with him saying, “Suplex City bitch!”

I’d go so far as to say that Reigns actually looked really weak here for most of the match getting completely overpowered but he did manage to make a comeback, bloody Lesnar and looked like he may be on the road to the title. With both men down, Rollins ran out to cash in his Money in the Bank briefcase making it officially a triple threat match. Ultimately Rollins hit his finisher on Reigns to get the victory and the title.

Rollins is your champion without pinning Lesnar. At the same time he screwed Reigns who he already had heat with. Talk about a perfect ending to WrestleMania and a perfect start to this new “season” of WWE programming.  We’ve got top tier challengers to Rollins’ title including potential singles rematches with Reigns and Lesnar. And let’s not forget Randy Orton… he beat the champ mere hours earlier.

The Aftermath

As in previous years, the RAW after WrestleMania was white hot. We got the contination of many of the stories from Mania, got some new folks called up to the roster, got a returning Sheamus (as a heel), saw Lesnar get “suspended” while showing just how pissed off he can get and a ton more. Between the World Championship being on a full time guy and the way the mid card titles were elevated over the weekend, it’s simply a tremendous time to be a WWE fan!

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