Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Wrestlemania 31 Slams Big Time

By Alex Henning

World Wrestling Entertainment’s flagship event, Wrestlemania, has come and gone again.  The 31st Wrestlemania held at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California on March 31 broke box office and attendance records with $12.6 million earned and an astounding 76,976 people in attendance.  As with most of the live pay-per-view shows, Wrestlemania 31 continued ongoing story lines and led several to a conclusion for the time being. 

There were over 30 WWE superstars at this event, and some were probably used better than others.  The event was a big success though and WWE has made some ground back after the big fall they took after the last Royal Rumble event.  This event made ground with some good matches, surprise returns, and unexpected match endings.

Seven-Man Ladder Free for All

Wrestlemania 31 kicked of proper with a seven-men ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship belt.  Wade “Bad News” Barrett would defend his title against Daniel Bryan, R-Truth, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, Dolph Ziggler, and Stardust.  The match was paced well and several different wrestlers attempted to get the belt at some point or another, the other stars always knocking the ladder over and preventing it.  R-Truth and Luke Harper came close to it, but the defending Barrett went after R-Truth seeking revenge for Truth’s previous action of stealing the belt from him and then giving back a fake one.  Harper sent Dean Ambrose packing after sending him out of the ring towards ladders, which collapsed on him. 

In the end, the match was down to fan favorite Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler battling it out on the ladder under the belt.  Ziggler and Bryan exchanged headbutts on the top rungs of the ladder until Dolph finally fell off and Bryan became the new Intercontinental Champion, to the delight of the fans but less so to former champion Barrett.  The match had good action and a good pace, and if any problems were to be seen it would be that some stars in the match were taken out of the picture too early.

Rollins-Orton Rumble

Next up on the card was a one-on-one match between Money in the Bank winner Seth Rollins and Randy Orton. The two went back and forth, lashing out at each other.  Rollins attempted to get revenge on Orton for betraying both his trust and the trust of the power faction in WWE currently, The Authority.  Randy just wanted an excuse to attack Rollins.  The two exchanged many finishing moves, each time seeing the opponent break free of their pin attempt. 

Finally, the match ended in spectacular style when Seth set Randy up for his signature Curb Stop finisher again and ran towards him.  Then, in what might have been the second greatest moment of the night, Randy got up and hefted a surprised Rollins into the air and caught him in the air with his finishing move that the announcers have now called a “Wrestlemania RKO.”  Rollins couldn’t escape this time and Randy got the victory for the match.  This match was amazing from start to finish.  The tension was there via a good story, the two went at each other and put on a good match, and Randy Orton ended it in an amazing fashion.

Triple H Takes on Sting

The third match was a pinfall and submission only match between the chief operating officer and leader of The Authority, Triple H, and the last remaining warrior of former competing brand WCW, Sting.  The announcers oddly decided to neglect mentioning Sting’s many title reigns or accolades to focus instead on how he was the last remnant of WCW that was never defeated by WWE and how this is the first time he has ever stepped in a WWE ring. 

Triple H got a good crowd reaction during his entrance while helping promote the new Terminator movie, “Terminator: Genisys,” as he wore a silver skull mask with a red targeting reticle and carried smaller silver skulls in his hands.  The match was a standard offering, made better by the appearances of team stables from both WCW and WWE. 

Sting started off strong and got Triple H in his signature Scorpion Death Lock midway through the match.  Sting’s luck faded however as he was pushed away from his opponent by the WWE stable of D-Generation X, Triple H’s former stable and teammates.  Sting wouldn’t be alone for long however, as the three original members of WCW, consisting of Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash, came down to the ring and evened up the numbers.  Sting managed to get in a few good hits on Triple H with his signature bat, but Triple H ultimately won and the match ended as Sting and Triple H shook hands with each other.

WWE Hall of Fall Class of 2015

After a relatively lackluster Divas match that saw AJ Lee and Paige defeat the Bella Twins Nikki and Brie, the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2015 was introduced.  Inductees included the tag team of The Bushwhackers, Larry Zbysko, Alundra Blaze, Tatsumi Fujinami, Rikishi, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Kevin Nash, the deceased “Macho Man’ Randy Savage, and a deceased 8 year old fan named Connor “The Crusher” Michalek.  Randy Savage was represented by his brother “Leaping” Lanny Poffo, and Connor was represented by his father. 

This event led into the next match of the night, John Cena against Rusev for the United States Championship.  The match went in Rusev’s favor until Cena pulled of a surprise Stone Cold Stunner and Rusev charged him and missed, hitting his manager Lana instead.  This temporarily stunned Rusev, allowing Cena to hit his signature Attitude Adjustment finisher and pin Rusev for the belt.

After a small segment between The Authority leaders Triple H and his wife Stephanie McMahon and The Rock accompanied by UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ronda Rousey teased a possible future team up match, a match between Bray Wyatt and a newly returning Undertaker began.  Both men moved slowly during the match, Undertaker due to age and Wyatt due to a legitimate ankle injury. 

Undertaker used many old moves such as Old School, Snake Eyes, and The Big Boot.  Both men kicked out of finishers at least once, Undertaker escaping Wyatt’s pin attempt after a Sister Abigail, and Wyatt escaping a pin attempt after Undertaker’s famous Tombstone Piledriver.  Wyatt taunted a prone Undertaker with his signature Spider Walk, but crumbled when Undertaker responded doing his “zombie” sit up and just glared at him.  Wyatt attempted to end it with another Sister Abigail, but Undertaker managed to reverse it and end his first match since Wrestlemania 30 last year in victory with a second Tombstone Piledriver.  This was another contender for moment of the night because both men gave it everything they could, and because Undertaker’s return was amazing.

The Main Event: Lesner vs. Reigns Crashed by Rollins

The last match was the main event,  the World Heavyweight Championship match between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns.  Lesnar went in as champion and, after an initial attack from Reigns bloodied him, proceeded to dominate the match with his finisher, the F-5, and multiple German suplexes. It was this match where Lesnar coined the now infamous phrase, “Welcome to Suplex City.”  As Reigns continued to take punishment and continue on, getting in hits here and there against Lesnar, Seth Rollins rushed in and cashed in his Money in the Bank contract as Lesnar lay recovering outside the ring.  With no Dean Ambrose to stop him, Rollins managed to get his contract to the referee and pinned a tired out Reigns for the title.

In the end, Wrestlemania 31 was a huge success for WWE.  They made up for some of the terrible choices they made during the Royal Rumble.  Reigns failing to get the title only for Seth to get it is a questionable choice, but might make for interesting storylines and feuds since he has so many enemies.  The Divas match was an okay offering but nothing too special, especially considering one of the contestants, AJ Lee, retired shortly after the event.  The Intercontinental match was fun, if short.  It pleased many that Daniel Bryan won the Ladder Match.  The event broke previous Wrestlemania records and succeeded on a large scale.

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Alex Henning is a junior at St. Thomas Aquinas College, with a major in Creative Writing and a minor in Religious Studies.  “Really, the myths and background legends are the most interesting thing about religion for me; they can be very eye opening, if you look at it the right way.”  Alex hopes to secure a job with game company Netherrealm Studios in the future.

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