By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE Tag Team Champions The Usos def. The Real Americans, Curtis Axel & Ryback and Los Matadores in an Elimination Fatal 4-Way Match (Pre-show)
Both The Usos and The Real Americans deserved better than the pre-show, but I could see why it was placed there given the involvement of the other two joke tandems. I grew afraid of Ryback and Axel winning the titles when they debuted new mashed-up entrance music, but thankfully that wasn't the case. The match was pretty dull early on aside from a big spot or two, which the crowd oddly chanted "This is awesome" to for no reason. Ryback and Axel as well as Los Matadores were taken out relatively quickly, allowing the other two talented teams to do their thing. They have great chemistry with each other and had a fun tag team battle that got the crowd invested in the action. It is far too early for The Usos to drop the straps, so them successfully retaining here was the best decision. The crowd was equally hot for Cesaro turning on Jack Swagger, which had been a longtime coming. The pre-show was very well done with only minor audio issues on the WWE Network that lead into the actual WrestleMania broadcast nicely.
Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock Interrupted Hulk Hogan
Oh hell yeah! The three biggest icons have finally come back to WrestleMania, brother! Now that I've got my obligatory catchphrases out of the way, let me just say that this had to be one of the greatest openings to a WrestleMania (or any wrestling show for that matter) in history. Hogan's promo was a bit rough early on, but his "Silverdome" botch turned into one of the best things about this segment when Stone Cold and Rock busted his balls about it. Speaking of whom, how great was it to see them at WrestleMania?! Rock hadn't been seen since 'Mania last year and Stone Cold hasn't appeared on WWE TV since June 2011, so obviously the crowd was red hot for them and embraced the awesomeness of the moment. With this being WrestleMania 30, this segment featuring three of the company's biggest stars ever made for one hell of a moment, was very fitting and kicked off the show in the biggest way possible.
Daniel Bryan def. Triple H in a No. 1 Contender's Match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Yes, a Triple H match kicked off WrestleMania. What was the tagline of the Rock and John Cena tag team? Never before, never again. Anyway, this match was just as great as we all expected it to be and then some. HHH's WrestleMania entrances are always a spectacle, and Bryan was wearing fuzzy boots, so there's that. HHH busted out some new moves he has either never used before or hasn't used in a long time. The drama was an all-time high during this match and I was so beyond happy that there wasn't any interference at all, especially from Stephanie McMahon at ringside. Bryan kicking out of the Pedigree put him over in a big way, and having him pin The Game clean was huge. Kudos to HHH for doing the clean job and Bryan had the crowd in the palm of his hands the whole time. Triple H attacked Bryan afterward was logical and set up the story that Bryan wouldn't be able to insert himself in the main event title match, making him that much more of an underdog.
The Shield def. Kane and The New Age Outlaws
Hardly anyone was looking forward to this match anyway, so did it really matter that it only went a few minutes? It was probably a victim of time constraints, but they're lucky they made it on the card at all, right? I've heard some people say they hated this, but I, for one, absolutely loved it. It was a complete showcase for The Shield, the heels lose nothing because they meant nothing to begin with, and we didn't have to see through a mediocre we all knew the result to. I, too, wish The Shield was involved in something more meaningful going into 'Mania, but I'm happy that they don't appear to be splitting anytime soon and are flourishing as faces at the moment.
Cesaro Won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
For those curious, the vacant spots were filled in by David Otunga, Yoshi Tatsu, Tyson Kidd and Xavier Woods (who replaced Christian due to injury). There were no real surprises, which left me and others disappointed, but it was probably for the best, the fans reacted louder to a Cesaro win than they ever would have for Alexander Rusev, who will probably debut on the post-WrestleMania Raw. A return from anyone else would have been overshadowed, so I'm fine with including the jobbers. However, why Otunga over Bad News Barrett, who didn't appear on this show at all? What a travesty. The Rhodes brothers were involved in anything special, so I continue to question why they were put in there at all instead of the tag title match. The eliminations felt rushed, but it was all about the ending with Cesaro throwing Big Show over to win. It made for a fantastic 'Mania moment for Cesaro on the two year anniversary of when he made his WWE debut, interestingly enough. He appears to be a face now and I hope WWE continued to push him heavily going forward.
John Cena def. Bray Wyatt
I was anticipating this match more than any other on the card and thought it had the potential to steal the show. Boy, was I wrong or what? These two could probably have a kickass match, but it just didn't happen on this show. Don't get me wrong, they had great in-ring psychology and worked a very good match, but the crowd appeared to be bored by it and really wanted to see Wyatt win. I'm not too upset with Cena winning if only because I knew there was a chance of it happening, but what was the point of it? I expect the feud will continue, but Wyatt beating Cena on Raw or Extreme Rules or wherever else won't mean as much than it would have at 'Mania. Cena gains nothing from this and his victory killed the crowd going into the next match. If nothing else, the entrance of The Wyatt Family was phenomenal and made them feel like stars in the process.
Brock Lesnar def. The Undertaker
I've read some people say that Undertaker "acted" tired in order to sell his old age, and as great as that storytelling would have been, I'm not buying it for a minute. Undertaker was taken to his limit at WrestleMania in recent years, but in this year's match against Lesnar, he showed he just needs to retire. I'm a big of a fan of 'Taker as the next guy, but this match was pure proof he needs to hang it up before he's forced to. It wasn't a terrible match by any means, but it certainly didn't meet my expectations of being great. The crowd wasn't into at all and didn't have any reason to care after the buildup it received. However, Lesnar pinning 'Taker for the three count was one of the most iconic moments in history. The facial reasons of everyone in attendance were priceless and conveyed the same emotions all of us were feeling at him. They way it all played out was picture perfect and shouldn't have been executed any other way. I don't want to go on a long rant about this (it'd be pages upon pages long), but I'm fine with The Streak ending. It created more controversy than anything I've ever seen before. I, like many others, wished to never see The Streak end, but it made for a hell of a story and made viewers intrigued as to what comes next for The Deadman. Now, I'm not exactly enthralled about Lesnar being "the guy" if only because he's already cemented his legacy and hardly gains much from this, especially if he'll be gone by next year. WWE has no choice but to put him in the title chase now. If they don't, then having him be the one end The Streak was the most illogical decision ever (though it was probably Undertaker's decision after all). As previously mentioned, the aftermath of what happened here will determine whether it was worth breaking The Streak on this show without any proper buildup.
Divas Champion AJ Lee Won the Vickie Guerrero Invitational
The crowd was still stunned by The Undertaker's loss that they couldn't have cared less for this match, though they probably wouldn't have cared anyway. It was the train wreck that one would expect it to be, but not completely atrocious. It didn't overstay its welcome, served as buffer between main event matches and got the Divas Championship on WrestleMania, so it was successful in that sense. I have zero idea who challenges AJ next for the Divas Champion, but it'll probably be Tamina Snuka, sadly. At least she didn't win the title here.
Daniel Bryan def. Batista and Randy Orton in a Triple Threat to Win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
This was storytelling in pro wrestling at its finest, plain and simple. After The Streak ended, everyone realized that anything was possible, and thus they bought into every nearfall in this match and all of a sudden the ending result wasn't so predictable anymore. WWE took us on an emotional roller coaster ride with this match and I enjoyed every minute of it. I would've like a clean, decisive match without any interference, but I didn't mind it when Triple H and Stephanie McMahon showed up to attempt to cost Bryan the win. If anything, it enhanced the match and made sense from a storyline standpoint. I love the fact Scott Armstrong, who screwed Bryan out of the title to begin with at Night of Champions, was brought in by The Authority. That was a great touch. The final few minutes were off the charts awesome (as well as most of the match) and Bryan forcing Batista to tap out was a sensational sight, as was his post-match celebration. Eight months of horrible finishes to pay-per-views and Bryan not getting his due were well worth it to get to this point. Needless to say, Bryan deserved this title win more than anyone else right now and I surely hope he is in for a tremendous run with the title.
Some people may look at Undertaker's loss and call this one of the "worst" WrestleManias of all-time because of it, but I think it's the exact opposite. That moment of The Streak being broken combined with Daniel Bryan's unforgettable title win had me thinking that we might be entering a new era in WWE. I know that's said a lot, but where better to start a new chapter than at WrestleMania? Last year's event was extremely predictable and this year's installment was anything but, which is why it can be summed up in one word: historic. My only gripe coming out of this show was Cena vs. Wyatt, but it wasn't a major mistake and can be fixed easily on the next night's Raw. Even the live stream on the WWE Network worked perfectly, so kudos to WWE on that. This WrestleMania succeeded where WrestleMania 25 failed in truly feeling like an anniversary show. While I wouldn't call it the greatest 'Mania of all time, it is undoubtedly up there on the list, and only time will tell on how WWE chooses to follow up with it. These last several months of WWE TV have been agonizing to watch, but after this show, I couldn't be any more excited for the future. Thank you, WWE, for reminding me why I love wrestling, and congrats on 30 years of the biggest spectacle in sports entertainment.
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