“The Ultimate Thrill Ride”
(Location: Camping World Stadium – Orlando, FLA. – Date: April 2, 2017 – Attendance: 72,245)
WrestleMania Kickoff Show
Hosts: Renee Young, Jerry “The King” Lawler, Shawn Michaels, Booker T.
Shawn Michaels does an excellent job laying out the consequences of the Rollins/Triple H match. If Rollins doesn’t get the win, he is “done.” He will never be “great.” He paints the picture that this is the biggest match of Rollins’ career.
Michaels presents more insight about the Owens/Jericho match. HBK seems to be invested in his pre-show duties.
Neville (c) defeated Austin Aries to retain the Cruiserweight Championship.
Audience: “Aus-tin A-ries!!”
Aries rocks the champ with a big clap to the ears. Old school stuff is the best.
Aries scores with a pendulum elbow followed by a brutal missile dropkick.
Neville responds with a snap German suplex that drops Aries right on his head.
Aries: “Frankensteiner” off the top rope and a “450.” Neville kicks out at two.
Aries quickly locks in the “Last Chancery.”
Neville: “Red Arrow” and pinfall.
Excellent match. It was a bit slower paced than I expected it to be. The psychology and execution were perfect.
It gave me chills to see Aries in the WrestleMania setting. It’s been a long road for him to arrive here today.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale
Winner: Mojo Rawley
Participants: Mojo Rawley, Jinder Mahal, Sami Zayn, Braun Strowman, Goldust, R-Truth, Curtis Axel, Primo, Epico, Bo Dallas, Apollo Crews, Curt Hawkins, Big Show, Fandango, Tyler Breeze, Rhyno, Heath Slater, Chad Gable, Jason Jordan, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Dolph Ziggler, Mark Henry, Tian Bing, Killian Dain, Titus O’Neil, Aiden English, Simon Gotch, Kalisto, Sin Cara, Viktor, Konnor.
Almost immediately, bodies are flying from the ring.
Aiden English takes a nasty spill over the top rope.
Epico is eliminated by a stinging “Helluva Kick” from Zayn.
Mahal and Rawley brawl through the second rope to the floor. (I hate when the eliminations rules are skirted like this.) They begin to brawl in from of Rob Gronkowski. (Gronkowski is a player in the NFL for the New England Patriots and a close friend of Rawley.) Mahal grabs “Gronk’s” drink and tosses it in his face. Mahal returns to the ring and begins working over Dain. Gronk quickly jumps the barrier and follows them. He wrecks Mahal with a football tackle.
Dain is eliminated.
Rawley dumps Mahal for the win.
So, Rawley wins cuz he talked Gronk into getting involved? Yawn.
It’s a god damn shame that Ziggler was relegated to a pre-show battle royale. I just don’t know anymore.
It was funny watching a ringside security guard try to keep Gronkowski from the ring. Someone must not have gotten the memo.
For the record, I wanted Killian Dain to walk away with the win.
Maria Menounos and Charly Caruso interview Paul Heyman. I love his bit about taking on the duo as clients.
Dean Ambrose (c) defeats Baron Corbin to retain the Intercontinental title.
Lil’ Naitch is officiating this one.
Corbin is stomping the blood out of Ambrose.
Ambrose is selling the rib injury from last month.
Corbin avoids a “Dirty Deeds.”
Match is pretty “meh” so far.
Corbin boots Ambrose in the face to avoid a rebound clothesline and follows it with a “Deep Six.” Ambrose out at two.
Corbin: “I’m leaving here with the championship!”
Ambrose blocks the “Deep Six” and hits the “Dirty Deeds” for the win.
Underwhelming match. In fact, it was boring.
Tinashe opens the show singing “America the Beautiful.” Seems to be slight issues with the sound.
AJ Styles defeated Shane McMahon
It is 7:20 EST before the bell rings and the two lock up.
Styles: “I’m going to embarrass him.”
It looks like McMahon has come to wrestle.
Styles: “Are we fighting or are we wrestling?”
The audience is solidly behind Styles.
Styles goes for a “450 splash” but is caught in a triangle choke by McMahon. He then demolishes McMahon with a one-armed “Styles Clash.” Absolutely sick.
McMahon hits a “Coast-to-Coast” dropkick but misses an elbow blows through the announce table. He also misses a nicely executed “Shooting Star Press.”
Styles gets the win with a “Phenomenal Forearm.”
It’s one thing for Shane McMahon to face top names in brawls and hang with them. It is quite another when he is hanging with one of the best wrestlers in the company and the world in a technical match. After last year’s Hell in a Cell match, I get that Shane needs to figure out a way to step back from the edge. He isn’t getting any younger. Eventually, one of those stunts will bite him in the ass. But it is ridiculous for him to be competitive with a performer at the level that AJ Styles is.
That being said, it was a fun, action-packed opener. Shane showed up in incredible condition.
United States Championship
Kevin Owens defeated Chris Jericho (c) to win the U.S. Championship.
Jericho: “Drink it in, man!”
Owens gives the champion a “Cannonball” in the corner.
Owens: “You don’t have any friends.”
Owens rocks Jericho with a “Package Powerbomb.”
Jericho deflects a “Swanton.”
Owens is driving the offense.
Jericho strikes back with a “Lionsault.”
Owens: “Walls of Jericho.”
Jericho: Blocks a “Cannonball” and turns it into a “Walls of Jericho.”
Owens: “You were never my friend. You’re a piece of trash.”
Jericho catches the challenger with the “Code Breaker.” Owens saves himself by putting ONE FINGER on the bottom rope. LOL.
Owens powerbombs Y2J on the apron and follows up with a pinfall.
This was a decent, not great, match. The real story, however, is the last nine month leading to Mania. It has been a helluva fun ride. When two creative, talented workers click, it makes magic. Jericho is an all-time great. Owens isn’t far behind him.
RAW Women’s Championship
Fatal Four-Way Elimination Match
Bayley (c) defeated Nia Jax, Sasha Banks, and Charlotte Flair to retain the title.
Jax is clearly looking to wreck her opponents. All three of her opponents quickly gang up on her. They triple team and pin her.
Bayley and Banks refuse Flair’s celebratory “high five.” Ha.
Flair executes a flawless “Corkscrew Elbow.” It was so pretty.
Banks forearms to Flair have malice behind them. Damn.
Banks hits an exposed turnbuckle, knocking her out. Flair pins her.
Flair work’s Bayley’s knee.
Bayley destroys Flair with a “Macho Man” elbow to retain her championship.
Bayley should hold the title throughout the summer. SummerSlam would be the earliest that I’d take it off of her. She — and the championship — need an extended period of stability.
Does Banks turn heel tomorrow? Something tells me that they are going to hold off until Payback at the end of the month, especially since it is being held in Bayley’s hometown of San Jose.
The 2017 HOF class is out on the stage: Kurt Angle, Rock n Roll Express, Diamond Dallas Page, Beth Phoenix, Teddy Long, Rick Rude’s family, Eric LeGrand.
Why did the RnRs send their grandmothers in their places?
I got chills when Angle’s music hit.
RAW Tag Team Championship
The Hardy Boyz defeated Gallows & Anderson (c), Enzo Amore & Big Cass, and Cesaro & Sheamus to win the RAW Tag Team Championship.
Audience: “How you doin’?”
Enzo and Cass cut a hot promo. This needs to be their night.
Cesaro and Sheamus are out wearing matching kilts. Ha!
Show hosts The New Day are out to…
“Delete! Delete! Delete!”
…add the Hardy Boyz to the mix!!
All 70,000+ fans in attendance go completely berserk.
The Hardys take control early.
Crowd: “This is awesome!”
Crowd: “Wel-come back!”
Cesaro performs a double-stomp off of Gallows’ shoulders.
Cass boots the shit out of Jeff Hardy.
Sheamus: The Celtic Bore-ior.
Sheamus beats on Gallows’ chest in sync with Cesaro while he does the “Big Swing” on Anderson.
Audience: “Bro-ther Ne-ro!”
Cass is powerbombed into a ladder by Sheamus and Gallows.
Matt Hardy gives Anderson “Twist of Fate” off the top of the ladder.
Jeff Hardy performs a “Swanton” off a huge ladder onto Sheamus and Cesaro, who took most of it.
Matt retrieves the belts to win the match.
The WWE hangs their hats on making “moments” and “memories.” The debut of the Hardys is one of those moments. Despite performing for Ring of Honor less than 24 hours earlier, the company was able to make a deal with them to appear. It was the right thing at the right time—and it was awesome. The return of the Hardys is the very definition of a “WrestleMania Moment.”
Mixed Tag Team Match
John Cena & Nikki Bella defeated The Miz & Maryse.
Jerry Lawler is out to do guest commentary.
Al Roker is the guest ring announcer. He identifies himself as “Chocolate Thunder.”
Roker: “He’s a nimble little minx…” Huh?
The women start the match.
The crowd is hot for this.
The Miz stomps Cena.
“This is Awesome!”
Cena is getting worked over.
The King is rattling off one-liners.
The Miz is mocking Daniel Bryan’s “Yes!” chant.
Cena tags Bella.
JBL: ” The Miz is just a gentleman and a hero.”
Cena and Bella hit a double “AA” for the pin.
Cena is on the microphone. He said that he wanted a “WrestleMania Moment,” and this is it. He tells a story about Nikki going into surgery last year. He then proposes to her. She accepts.
John Cena would have been a LEGEND if he swerved Bella and gave her the “AA” instead of actually proposing.
Is there going to be a wedding at SummerSlam?
The match was mercifully short.
What is next for The Miz?
Seth Rollins defeated Triple H (w/ Stephanie McMahon)
Accompanied by a police escort, Triple H rides out on a giant “trike” motorcycle with Stephanie McMahon riding on the back.
Rollins comes out carrying a giant torch.
The two pound on each other at the bell. They quickly begin to fight in the audience. Before long they find themselves on top of once of the announce tables
Trips cracks Rollins’ bad knee with a chair.
Rollins goes for a “Sunset Powerbomb” and his knee gives out. He then goes for a running powerbomb and it gives out again. However, he successfully blasts Triple H with a “Buckle Bomb.” The hobbled Rollins is controlling the match.
The hobbled Rollins is controlling the match.
Rollins: “Superplex” into a “Falcon Arrow.”
He finds his opponent’s sledgehammer hidden beneath the ring.
Rollins kicks out of a “Pedigree.”
Triple H kicks out of a “Phoenix Splash.”
Rollins superkicks Trips into his wife, who bumps through a table.
Rollins hits the “Pedigree” for the pinfall.
The story of the match was Rollins’ banged up knee.
The announcers revealed that Rollins had been battling the flu for the last few days. At one point, he had a fever of 103 degrees.
Steph trying to act like a “bad bitch” on the back of Hunter’s motorcycle was so laughable.
This Pitbull performance is some trash.
Randy Orton defeated Bray Wyatt to win the WWE Championship.
The visual of the lit cell phones during Wyatt’s entrance is stunning.
As the two fight, an image of maggots is being projected on the mat.
Chant: “That was cree-py!”
Orton counters a “Sister Abigail.”
The crowd is quiet.
Wyatt hits “Sister Abigail” into the barrier.
Orton hits an “RKO” on the floor.
Orton hits another “RKO” and pins Wyatt to win the title.
Boring match. To this point, the worst of the night.
Why didn’t Wyatt take the countout after he had Orton down outside the ring.
The announcers make sure to point out that Orton started to target Wyatt six months ago—but he didn’t have the championship then.
WWE Universal Championship
Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) defeated Bill Goldberg (c) for the WWE Universal Championship.
Heyman introduces Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar: Ten German suplexes and an F5. New champion!
Thank you, Brock. Sincerely. That smile on his face at the end of the match is the best.
I despised seeing Goldberg wearing that belt. He has no respect for the business. He never has. He admits that he only did this run to impress his kid. That’s cute but not fair to the industry. I hope we never see him again.
Smackdown Women’s Championship
Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss (c), Becky Lynch, Mickie James, Carmella (w/ James Ellsworth, and Natalya to win the title.
The match opened hot with all six brawling.
Bliss chokes and trips Carmella. Damn.
Lynch gives Ellworth an “Exploder.”
Natalya has Carmella and Naomi in a double “Sharp Shooter.”
Naomi beats Bliss by submission.
What was James wearing on her head during her entrance?
You know shit is fucked up when James Elsworth at Mania.
Naomi got the longest, most elaborate entrance.
I dig Bliss’ intensity.
The six women stuffed as much action as they could in the time they are given.
The New Day is out to announce the attendance: 75,245. Hmm…
Roman Reigns defeated The Undertaker.
Jim Ross is out to call the main event. He gets an amazing ovation.
Reigns is laser-focused as he makes his way to ringside.
The announcer announces that the bout has no disqualifications or countouts. No holds are barred. The only way to win is pinfall or submission.
It is always so cool to see Taker’s entrance. He has long hair again!
Taker: “Still my yard.”
It is uncomfortable watching Reigns unload on the Deadman.
Taker is unleashing some rude headbutts.
Undertaker cracked Reigns with a punch mid-dropkick. He then clotheslines him through the announce table.
Reigns spears Taker through the Spanish Announce Table. Taker sits up.
The two are finally back in the ring.
Reigns swarms Taker in the corner with punches.
Taker hits a “Last Ride.” He looks as if he is starting to blow up.
Reigns tags Taker with a “Superman Punch.”
Taker chokeslams him on a chair. He follows with a “Tombstone.” Reigns barely kicks out.
Reigns: “Superman Punch” and kickout.
Taker is clearly struggling.
Taker: “Hell’s Gate.” Reigns gets to the ropes. (If this is a No DQ match, How can the ropes save him?)
Reigns is beating on Taker with a chair. No mercy.
Reigns: “Stay. Down.”
The crowd is firmly behind the Undertaker.
Taker is out at two. He can’t get to his feet.
Reigns delivers a spear to Taker for a two-count. He blasts him with another “Superman Punch.”
Taker tries to sit up but topples over. Dude. He crawls as Reigns lords over him.
Roman Reigns pins the Undertaker.
Reigns heads to the back as Taker lies in the ring.
Chant: “Thank you, Ta-ker!”
He sits up and puts his hat and coat back on.
The crowd stands cheering their hero.
The Undertaker takes his gloves and drops them to the mat. He then folds up his jacket and places it next to them.
Slowly, he takes off his hat for the final time and places it on top of the pile.
He leaves the ring. He walks over to his wife and kisses her.
As the Undertaker walks to the back, he pauses halfway up the ramp.
He puts his fist up and holds the pose. Fog begins rising from beneath the ramp.
Chant: “Thank you, Taker.”
He fades away in the fog as the broadcast goes to black.