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CALDWELL'S WWE WRESTLEMANIA 29 PPV RESULTS: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of live PPV from MetLife Stadium - Rock-Cena II, Taker-Punk, Lesnar-Hunter, more
WWE WrestleMania 29 PPV Report
April 7, 2013
MetLife Stadium in E. Rutherford, N.J.
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
Full Results: (Pre-Show) The Miz beat IC champion Wade Barrett to capture the Intercontinental Title. ... (1) The Shield beat Big Show & Randy Orton & Sheamus in a six-man tag match. ... (2) Mark Henry beat Ryback. ... (3) WWE tag champions Daniel Bryan & Kane beat Dolph Ziggler & Big E. Langston (w/A.J. Lee) to retain the WWE Tag Titles. ... (4) Fandango beat Chris Jericho. ... (5) World Hvt. champion Alberto Del Rio beat Jack Swagger via submission to retain the World Title. ... (6) The Undertaker beat C.M. Punk (w/Paul Heyman) to remain Undefeated at WrestleMania. ... (7) Triple H (w/Shawn Michaels) beat Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) in a No Holds Barred match to keep his career alive. ... (8) John Cena beat WWE champion The Rock to capture the WWE Title.
PPV Hour #1
The PPV opened with a video package reviewing the devastation that Hurricane Sandy brought to the N.Y./N.J. area in October 2012. The theme was the citizens fighting to overcome and rebuild. The video was narrated by Governor Christie of New Jersey.
Live in MetLife Stadium, members of the N.J. National Guard were shown on-stage introducing the PPV before Michael Cole welcomed everyone to Mania. He said the crowd size is "approaching 80,000."
This led into a standard PPV opening video package highlighting the top matches of Rock-Cena II, Taker vs. Punk, and Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar. The voice-over man said millions will watch, waiting and anticipating the next breath-taking moment. The stage is set. The time is now. History is at hand. This is WrestleMania.
Back inside MetLife Stadium, Cole officially welcomed everyone to WrestleMania. Sheamus, who opened last year's WrestleMania, was introduced on-stage sporting N.Y. Jets green. Randy Orton was out next to stand next to Sheamus. Orton was very fired up, then shook hands with Sheamus before Big Show joined them on-stage to lead the trio down to the ring. As they marched down to the ring, Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL were shown on-camera to set the stage for the show.
After a pause, The Shield's music played to bring out The Shield members through the arena floor crowd. Big reaction for Shield from the hardcore fans. Each member stood on platforms in the crowd before making their way over the guardrail to the ringside area. Reigns looked ready to bench-press Big Show, not just defeat the face team.
1 -- RANDY ORTON & SHEAMUS & BIG SHOW vs. THE SHIELD (SETH ROLLINS & DEAN AMBROSE & ROMAN REIGNS) -- six-man tag match
WrestleMania started with Sheamus and Reigns battling in the ring. Sheamus had enough of battling Reigns, so he tagged in Orton, who teed off on Rollins, who also tagged into the match. Orton got the crowd fired up, then Orton tagged in Sheamus as Big Show sold slight frustration not receiving the tag. Ambrose tagged in next for The Shield, then walked into a powerslam from Sheamus.
Show had enough of waiting on the outside, so he slapped Sheamus to make a tag. Orton and Sheamus tried to remain calm, then Show welcomed Ambrose to WrestleMania by opening up his protective vest and chopping away at his chest. But, Ambrose came back with a dropkick to the knee to take down Show. Shield then began exchanging tags working on Show.
Show eventually broke free and tagged in Sheamus, who cleaned house on Shield. Sheamus then ripped off Rollins's protective vest to open up his chest for the Ten Forearm Strikes in the corner. He followed with ten forearms to Ambrose's already-exposed chest. Back in the ring, Sheamus dropped Ambrose and Rollins with rolling drops before climbing to the top rope. But, Reigns knocked down Sheamus to the floor. This brought over Orton to battle, then Rollins went flying through the ropes for an attempted suicide dive, but he missed Orton and ate the guardrail.
Back in the ring, Shield set up Sheamus for the triple powerbomb and Reigns delivered it simultaneous to Show re-entering the scene to spear Ambrose. Bodies everywhere in the ring. After a reset, Sheamus crawled across the ring to tag Show, but Orton tapped Sheamus on the head to enter the match before Show got the tag. Orton cleaned house on Shield as the camera focused on Show trying to remain calm. Orton then stalked Ambrose for the RKO, but he turned to RKO Rollins in mid-air. But, Orton ate a spear from Reigns a split-second later. Ambrose then covered Orton for the pin and the win.
On the apron, Show just watched in frustration as Orton slowly rolled out of the ring. JBL said this could be the greatest three-man team in history. Shield then left the ring and disappeared through the crowd while the face trio regrouped. Show asked Orton what he was thinking, then started jawing. Sheamus then entered the ring to play peacemaker, but Show awkwardly jabbed Sheamus with the KO Punch. Orton asked what he's doing, then Show took out Orton.
WINNERS: Shield at 10:35. Basic storytelling of Team Show unable to work together as individuals on one team. Meanwhile, Shield continues to pick up impressive wins. (**1/4)
===== LIVECAST ALERT ======
We're taking your calls after WrestleMania on the WM29 post-game show at 11:30 p.m. EST on PWTorchLivecast.com.
After The Shield's opening victory, WWE went to a full-length video package on the Cena-Rock feud leading to their WrestleMania main event tonight.
Ringside: Snooki was shown sitting ringside.
In-ring: Mark Henry's music played to bring out Henry for the second match of the PPV. As Henry marched to the ring, Cole recapped the Henry-Ryback feud, focusing on the Benchpress Challenge drama on Smackdown two weeks ago. Ryback's music then played and the audience they showed in the arena stood up to cheer. The overall reaction was pretty good, but not future #1 star level. Ryback, dressed in Florida Gulf Coast green, marched to the ring firing up the crowd. In the ring, Ryback played to the crowd while Henry just stood his ground and watched.
2 -- MARK HENRY vs. RYBACK
As the sun set on MetLife Stadium, the two big-men came together for a face-to-face greeting. The crowd was buzzing for the match-up before the two men collided mid-ring. They started trading bombs, with more boos than cheers for Ryback. Henry then destroyed Ryback with a body-press splash that put Ryback on the mat. Henry then delivered a running powerslam for a one count.
After a reset, Ryback tried to suplex Henry, but Henry blocked and lifted Ryback over the top rope onto the ring apron. Henry then ran Ryback shoulder-first into the ringpost. Back in the ring, Henry targeted Ryback's lower back to slow down the pace as various crowd signs became the focal point, including a "Win for Ware" sign referring to Louisville basketball player Kevin Ware who went Sid Justice in the Elite Eight last Sunday. Henry had enough of the bearhug and rammed Ryback to the floor. "That's what I do!" Henry shouted as Ryback recovered on the floor.
Ryback re-entered the ring and Henry re-engaged the bearhug. Ryback tried to escape, but Henry continued to punish his back. Henry then scoop-slammed Ryback before reapplying the bearhug, drawing boos from a restless crowd. Ryback finally broke free and drove Henry to the corner to escape. Ryback then shoulder-shrugged the crowd in a Feed Me More chant before smashing Henry with a clothesline.
Ryback wanted to finish Henry with Shell-Shock, but appeared to injure himself. They went to a finish where Henry fell on top of Ryback, squashing his head. Ryback sold unconsciousness, then Henry rolled over Ryback and pinned him for a clean win, sutting the crowd.
Post-match, trainers checked on Ryback, then Henry decided he wasn't done and tried to punish Ryback some more, but Ryback clotheslined him. Ryback then delivered Shell-Shock to save face and get his heat back. It appeared Ryback was on the verge of tears as he leaned against the ropes trying to celebrate for the crowd.
WINNER: Henry at 8:03. It's time for Henry to get back in the World Title picture after this victory. Meanwhile, Ryback continues to carry the label of "Can't Win The Big One." Slow at times, but an overall good big-man battle. (**1/4)
Announcement: WWE announced a partnership with the Special Olympics in N.J. in 2014. Stephanie McMahon and Governor Christie then appeared on-stage with Special Olympics representatives as Lilian Garcia sounded choked up introducing them. It's quite the emotional night tonight.
In-ring: Dolph Ziggler's music played to a big reaction from the hardcore fans. Ziggler, Big E. Langston, and A.J. Lee then made their way to the ring for the Tag Title match. Pyro shot off to fill the entire stage, which brought out tag champs Kane and Daniel Bryan.
3 -- WWE tag champions DANIEL BRYAN & KANE vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER & BIG E. LANGSTON (w/A.J. Lee) -- WWE Tag Title match
After the bell sounded, Ziggler asked for A.J. to hop on the ring apron for a good-luck kiss as D-Bryan watched. They played off Bryan's 18-second World Title loss to Sheamus at last year's Mania, then Ziggler turned around and ate a kick to the head from Bryan. Bryan covered, but Ziggler kicked out just before three. Great 23-second intro. After they played off WM28, Big E. tagged in to start displaying his power. Big E. and Ziggler then began exchanging tags working on Kane. Meanwhile, Lawler cracked a Civil War joke that A.J.'s family is so crazy that she fought for the East. Cole and JBL let that sit, no-sold, and went back to calling the match.
Kane made a comeback against Ziggler as Cole tried an "air-traffic control" line before Kane crashed to the mat when Ziggler ducked. Ziggler then tried a top-rope move, but Kane intercepted with a smash to the face. Kane tried to cover Ziggler, but Big E. flew onto Kane with a big splash to his back. Big E. dropped his straps and wanted a power-move on Kane, but Kane flung him to the outside, where Bryan knee-smashed Big. Back in the ring, Ziggler surprised Kane with the Zig-Zag, but Kane kicked out.
After a reset, A.J. tried to get involved, but she didn't help. Kane then chokeslammed Ziggler before tagging in Bryan, who came off the top with a diving headbutt as A.J. freaked out ringside. Bryan covered Ziggler and it was good for the win, with the timekeeper ringing the bell in-between two and three for good measure.
Ringside, A.J. freaked out, then tried to help her men recover as Bryan and Kane stood triumphantly in the ring, now on the same page and still tag champions. WWE then went to a slow-motion replay of Kane's chokeslam, with Ziggler having a terrific facial expression selling the move.
WINNERS: Kane & Bryan at 6:18. No break-up and no title change. Team Hell No must continue. Big E. was impressive in his limited role, while Ziggler submitted another rent check in his enhancement spot. Whether it's a misdirection for Ziggler to cash in MITB tonight or tomorrow remains to be seen. (**1/2)
After a video package on John Cena's work with Make-a-Wish, WrestleMania returned with a ton of dancers on-stage to bring out Fandango. Quite the elaborate entrance for a mid-card match, showing how high WWE is on Fandango, at least for right now.
After Fandango, who went heavy on the spraytan, and his main dancer posed in the ring, the stadium was filled with blue lights to signal Chris Jericho's entrance. Huge reaction for Jericho, who emerged on-stage sporting a red and blue light-up jacket. Jericho played to both sides of the stadium, then marched down to the ring as fireworks shot off behind him over the replica Empire State Building on-stage. It looked like the end of the night at Disneyland. Jericho then entered the ring and surveyed the stadium before staring down Fandango. Loud "Y2J" chants before the bell sounded.
PPV Hour #2
4 -- CHRIS JERICHO vs. FANDANGO
After the bell sounded, Fandango danced and strutted around the ring. Jericho had enough and speared Fandango for a quick two count. Fandango then did a back-flip over Jericho, posed, and Jericho codebroke him out of the ring. Jericho then splashed Fandango on the outside and rolled him back into the ring. Back in the ring, Fandango surprised Jericho with a kick to the face. Fandango then did a dance-pose over Jericho, prompting JBL to cut a promo on Fandango for posing at WrestleMania when facing a future Hall of Famer.
At 5:00, Jericho made his comeback. Jericho with a Thesz Press, then repeated punches to the face. Jericho lost control, though, and Fandango made a comeback. Fandango climbed to the top rope and nailed the surfboard leg drop, but Jericho kicked out in-time. JBL said that's got to be it for Fandango's upset attempt. Jericho then tripped Fandango on the top rope, causing Fandango to drop to the mat.
Jericho reset, then placed Fandango on the top turnbuckle. Jericho wanted a superplex, but Fandango headbutted Jericho to the mat. Fandango then went for a second surfboard leg drop, but Jericho moved. Jericho wanted the Lionsault, missed, and sold that he tweaked his knee. But, Jericho tried to go for the Walls of Jericho, but Fandango rolled him up and scored a clean three count.
Post-match, Fandango rolled out of the ring, shocked with his victory as JBL said this is a huge upset. Fandango danced with his dancer as Jericho recovered in the ring, then limped across the ring, selling the knee injury.
WINNER: Fandango at 9:10. Fandango held his own and looked good in the ring. Good use of Jericho to establish a new star if WWE follows through. Overall, lots of surprising outcomes tonight, trying to plant seeds that Punk can beat Taker's Streak tonight. (**1/4)
The announcers then flashed back to the PPV pre-show when The Miz captured the Intercontinental Title from Wade Barrett.
Next was a video package on WWE champion The Rock and his connection to the "millions and millions" of fans.
Back live in the stadium, WWE flashed various historical WrestleMania clips on the video scoreboard as dramatic music played. The bridge then lit up on the stage, followed by the replica Statue of Liberty. Then, the Empire State Building. WWE then went to the stage, where pyro filled the stage as Notorious B.I.G.'s voice was heard. Diddy then appeared through the smoke. Well, he received the best, most dramatic intro of the night thus far.
After Diddy finished his intro song, Diddy said this is the home of the loudest, craziest, wildest WWE fans in the whole world. He asked the non-New York fans to shout, which about three-fourths of the stadium reacted to. Diddy then went old-school with Mo Money, Mo Problems. They flashed forward to the "Coming Home" song with Skylar Grey joining Diddy on-stage.
Back to the announcers, who set up the World Title match. Cole fed to a video package on Zeb Colter and Jack Swagger, which means it's now time for all of the wrestling fans to try to explain this deal to the non-wrestling fans at the Mania Party. The video transitioned to Alberto Del Rio surveying the Torch held by the Statue of Liberty and relating it to immigration.
Suddenly, Swagger and Colter were in the ring after the video aired. No elaborate entrance. Or entrance at all. In the ring, Colter said he walked these filthy streets of New York and wonders what happened to America. Colter said these people have snuck across the borders and speak Spanish, I-Talian, Greek, Chinese, and Yittish as they plot who-knows what against America. Colter said they can boo him all they want, but it's because they're too scared to do anything about it. Colter said Swagger will do something about it by capturing the World Title tonight.
Ricardo Rodriguez then came out on-stage and on crutches. Ricardo did a long "Del Rio" intro, then Alberto Del Rio came out on-stage dressed in a white boxer's robe with the World Title belt over his robe. Lilian Garcia handled formal ring intros, with Del Rio getting a light reaction.
5 -- World Hvt. champion ALBERTO DEL RIO (w/Ricardo Rodriguez) vs. JACK SWAGGER (w/Zeb Colter) -- World Title match
Del Rio knocked Swagger to the outside after the opening bell, then kicked him into the announce table. Back in the ring, Swagger took control and tried to run Del Rio into the ringpost, but Del Rio kicked him away, targeting the shoulder. Del Rio then kicked Swagger in the head repeatedly. But, Swagger kicked Del Rio in the left knee to slow him down. Moments later, Del Rio came back with a release German Suplex. The crowd, restless, began chanting for something they wanted - either Ziggler, Ryder, or something else.
At 7:00, Swagger found an opening to slap on the Patriot Lock. The crowd didn't buy the teaser of Del Rio submitting, then Del Rio countered into the cross arm-breaker. Swagger pushed Del Rio away, then countered into the Patriot Lock, which got a reaction this time. Del Rio reached the bottom rope for a break, then tried to re-apply, but Del Rio remained in the ropes.
Swagger wanted a Swagger Bomb, but Del Rio slipped out and kicked Swagger in the head. Both men recovered on the mat, then Del Rio delivered an enziguiri kick, but Colter put Swagger's foot on the bottom rope to break up the three count. This brought over Ricardo, who Colter kicked. Colter then grabbed one of Ricardo's crutches and Del Rio grabbed the other. This allowed Swagger to sneak-attack Del Rio before blasting him into the guardrail.
Swagger took his time rolling Del Rio back into the ring, then Swagger took his time re-entering the ring. This allowed Del Rio to pounce on Swagger with the cross arm-breaker. Swagger tried to fight it, but eventually tapped. They cut to former N.Y. Giants player Michael Strahan celebrating the victory, then cut to Colter freaking out with a great facial expression ringside. Back to Strahan, along with Michelle Beadle, for a celebration before Del Rio was shown celebrating in the ring.
WINNER: Del Rio via submission at 10:29. Perfectly fine singles match, but never really reached the next level. Another two-star match on a two-star undercard. (**1/4)
===== LIVECAST ALERT ======
We're taking your calls after WrestleMania on the WM29 post-game show at 11:30 p.m. EST on PWTorchLivecast.com.
Next was a video package looking at the build-up to The Undertaker vs. C.M. Punk. Another one of those videos that has to be explained to the non-wrestling fans at the Mania Party. "Yes, Paul Bearer really died, sadly."
On-stage: Back live, Living Colour was shown on-stage to sing "Cult of Personality" live. C.M. Punk then quietly emerged on-stage flanked by Paul Heyman holding the urn. Punk and Heyman slowly made their way down to the ring as Colour continued to perform on-stage. In the ring, Punk flashed his new t-shirt before Colour finished and the crowd roared for Punk. The bell then tolled and Punk got fired up at the sound of the bell.
Suddenly, hands appeared in the smoke and blue lights on-stage. They were all reaching out to Undertaker, who slowly emerged on-stage sporting the Super Shredder Undertaker uniform. Taker then very slowly walked to the ring before fireworks shot off above the stadium. Taker, well-tanned, slowly removed his ring jacket and rolled his eyes in the back of his head. Ringside, Punk tried to play mind-games by playing catch with the urn.
PPV Hour #3
6 -- THE UNDERTAKER vs. C.M. PUNK (w/Paul Heyman) -- Taker's Undefeated Streak On The Line
Punk entered the ring, the bell sounded, and Taker went after Punk as if they were in an MMA fight. Punk then ducked a right and slapped Taker, who chased Punk out of the ring. Punk re-entered and slapped Taker, then walked into a big-boot from Taker. Big buzz in the stadium for this match. Taker had enough of this and chucked Punk to the outside, where he ran Punk into the ringpost. Taker measured Punk for strikes as a dueling chant picked up of "Under-taker / C.M. Punk." Taker then did his old-school leg drop across Punk's throat on the ring apron.
Back in the ring, Taker went to work on Punk's shoulder as Cole said Taker is not only fighting for Paul Bearer's honor, but the memory a lot of the WWE Family has of Bearer. Taker then went for an Old-School walk-the-ropes, but Punk countered with an armdrag across the ring. Punk smirked, then hopped to his feet and punched and kicked Taker on the mat. Punk then went Old-School by walking the ropes before dropping a fist to Taker's arm. Punk smirked to himself as the crowd cheered, then covered Taker for a nearfall.
Punk went to work on Taker as Heyman held out the urn a la Paul Bearer. Taker had an opening, but then missed a corner attack and ate the turnbuckle knee-first. The match then moved to the floor, where Punk landed a double-axehandle smash to Taker. Back in the ring, Punk went to work on Taker, but Taker dumped Punk to the floor. Taker then wanted to fly over the top rope, but Heyman hopped on the ring apron to block. Taker teased chokeslamming Heyman, but Punk came flying off the ropes to splash Taker for a nearfall.
They reset, then Punk dropped Taker to the mat and climbed to the top rope. Punk wanted a Macho Man elbow drop, and he connected. Punk covered, but Taker kicked out. Heyman sold exasperation with Punk being very close. Punk felt it, calmed himself down, and then called for the GTS. Punk got Taker in the air, but Taker slipped out and delivered a super-chokeslam. Taker covered, but Punk kicked out.
At 12:00, Taker slowly recovered, then the two men came to their feet and traded bombs. Taker then delivered a big corner splash before snake-eying Punk, but Punk intercepted the big boot with a flying kick for a two count. The dueling chant picked up, then Taker took Punk to the outside. Taker cleared the Spanish announce table, then wanted a Last Ride Powerbomb, but Punk escaped and kicked Taker in the head. Taker rested on the announce table, then Punk climbed to the top rope. "This is about history," JBL whispered. Punk wanted a flying elbow drop onto the table, but he came up just a bit short, landing with a thud. Actually, on another replay, Punk landed the move, but the table didn't break and he only grazed Taker. After the replay, Punk re-entered the ring and Taker made it back in at nine.
They reset and Heyman told Punk to do whatever he has to do to win. Punk sold a knee injury, then slowly crawled toward Taker, who sprung on him with the Hell's Gate submission. But, Punk countered into a jackknife pin for a nearfall. Punk then flowed into the Vice. He tried to pin Taker out of the Vice, but Taker sat up and flashed The Eyes to Taker. Punk tried to ignore it and nailed GTS, but Taker bounced off the ropes into a Tombstone on Punk. Big reaction as Taker hit the Tombstone, then the crowd exploded when Punk kicked out just before three.
The crowd buzzed as the two men reset before trading bombs from their knees. Punk headbutted Taker, but Taker absorbed a kick to the chest, no-sold, and the ref was bumped. Heyman distracted Taker, then Punk kicked Taker into the corner. Punk nailed the running knee, but Taker positioned him for the Last Ride. In the background, Heyman handed Punk the urn, which Punk blasted Taker with before he could hit the Tombstone. Punk then did the Taker pin, the ref slowly counted, but Taker kicked out. Heyman just fell down to the ground on his knees. "Why?!" Heyman said with hands on head.
At 21:25, the match reset, then Punk did the Taker throat-slash. Punk wanted the GTS, but Taker elbowed out. Punk again teased the GTS, but Taker blocked. Taker took a deep breath, flipped Punk onto his shoulders, steadied themselves, and delivered another Tombstone. Taker covered and this time it was good for the three count. You just can't kill the dead at WrestleMania.
After the match, Taker rolled out of the ring, grabbed the urn, and brought it into the ring. After a replay of the great sequences during the match, they cut back to Taker with tears in his eyes standing in the ring. Taker then knelt down as 21-0 flashed on the video screen. Taker then knelt down and posed before the urn as fireworks shot off in the stadium. "One of the greatest things I've ever seen, guys," JBL said. The camera pulled back from the top of the stadium as 21-0 lingered on the scoreboard, then WWE cut back to Taker leaving the ring with the urn in-hand. Smoke then filled the rampway as Taker slowly made his way to the stage, where he did his customary one-arm pose before lightning flashed. Taker then disappeared to the back.
WINNER: Taker at 22:07 to retain The Streak. They were so good at making people believe The Streak was in jeopardy. Even if people were 100 percent sure Taker was winning, they told such a good story that the journey to see how Taker would continue The Streak was worth a full investment. (****1/2)
WrestleMania reset, then WWE showed the announcers ringside. Cole called Taker the most incredible performer in WWE history, then fed to a video package on John Cena ahead of the WrestleMania main event still to come. It was "introspective" Cena mixed with a lot of training video ahead of facing Rock tonight.
WWE then transitioned to Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar, starting with a lengthy video package focusing on how they got to Hunter's career being on the line tonight.
In the ring, Justin Roberts announced this as a No Holds Barred match where Anything Goes and Triple H's career is on the line. Roberts said the only way to win is by pinfall or submission. Shawn Michaels was then introduced to the ring to be in Triple H's corner.
First out for the match was Brock Lesnar as his ominous music played and the stadium turned red. Lesnar emerged on-stage in Beast Mode with a Jimmy John's beanie. Goodness, he was in Beast Mode. Paul Heyman, 15 minutes removed from Punk's loss, forced a smile behind Lesnar as they walked to the ring. Lesnar hit the ring and flipped away the beanie before WWE cut to the announcers for Cole, Lawler, and JBL to react to Lesnar's entrance. Shawn Michaels sold for Lesnar ringside, then the camera focused on Lesnar having a huge bruise on his right cheek.
After a pause, Triple H's music played. The arena went dim, the Statue of Liberty lit up, and the stadium turned green. Hunter walked through his own King of Kings entrance, but was covered in gunk from the fog machine. His belly continued to be covered by smoke, then WWE cut away so that someone could wipe it off his belly as he finished walking to the ring. Hunter then entered the ring and locked eyes with Lesnar as Cole noted Hunter's two best friends in wrestling, Shawn Michaels and Ric Flair, both retired by losing at WrestleMania.
8 -- TRIPLE H (w/Shawn Michaels) vs. BROCK LESNAR (w/Paul Heyman) -- No Holds Barred, Anything Goes -- Triple H's career on the line
Lesnar attacked Hunter, who then took the match to the floor. On the floor, Lesnar picked up a chair, but Hunter clotheslined Lesnar off the guardrail to the floor, with the back of Lesnar's head bouncing off the floor. That didn't look good. Back in the ring, Hunter tried to use the chair, but Heyman yanked it away from the outside. The match then moved back to the floor, where Hunter ran Lesnar into the ring steps, opening up a slight cut. Not much heat on this through the first four minutes. Then, Lesnar measured Hunter and suplexed him through the previously-indestructible Spanish Announce table, which was obviously rigged in-between matches so that it would break.
After the table spot, Lesnar tossed HUnter into the table scraps, bouncing the back of Hunter's head off the floor. The announcers stressed the match story to this point of Lesnar enjoying destroying Hunter. Lesnar then chased off Michaels when he got a little too close. Back in the ring, Lesnar held up his arms for a reaction, which drew a mix of cheers and boos. The audience just doesn't seem to know how to react to Lesnar. Lesnar then continued the assault as Heyman shouted from ringside that it's only a matter of time.
At 8:20, Lesnar grappled Hunter and delivered a release German Suplex. Heyman shouted at Hunter to put an end to the beating, but Hunter fought back. Lesnar then dumped Hunter clear over the top rope to the floor as the crowd remained quiet. On the outside, Lesnar stalked Michaels, who stood his ground before Hunter waited for Lesnar to turn around so that he could clothesline him. Hunter then clotheslined Lesnar over the guardrail into the front row.
Back in the ring at 11:00, Lesnar came back with a German Suplex for a two count. Heyman got on the ring apron, then Michaels got on the ring apron from the other side, so Lesnar smashed Michaels in the mouth. Lesnar smirked, then walked back to Hunter, who delivered a spinebuster. Hunter tried to re-gather himself, then wanted the Pedigree, but Lesnar countered. Suddenly, Michaels entered the ring, Lesnar blocked Sweet Chin Music, and Lesnar gave him the F5. Lesnar then turned around and took a Pedigree to little heat, but Lesnar kicked out before three.
After they replayed the nearfall, Hunter was shown returning to the ring with Sledgehammer in-hand. But, Lesnar blocked a sledgehammer shot and hit the F5. Lesnar covered, but Hunter kicked out just before three. Tit-for-tat kicking out of finishers. The match returned to the floor, where Lesnar popped Hunter with a chair shot before throwing him into the ring steps. As Lesnar paced the ringside area, one fan's audio was picked up: "C'mon, Brock, just end his career," almost pleading for the match to end. Lesnar then bashed Hunter with the ring steps before chucking the ring steps into the ring.
Lesnar rolled Hunter back into the ring, then throat-slashed the hard-camera. Lesnar grabbed the ring steps, then popped Hunter in the shoulder before covering for a nearfall. "Torture him all night long!" Heyman shouted audibly from ringside. Lesnar was slow to follow up, which gave Hunter an opening. But, Lesnar slapped on the kimura lock. Hunter fought the hold, then Lesnar sat on the second rope to apply more pressure to the arm. But, Hunter lifted Lesnar into the air and slowly transitioned to a spinebuster to break the hold.
Hunter and Lesnar reset, then Hunter crotch-chopped Lesnar, who ate the ringpost going for a corner charge. Hunter followd with a low-blow, then he wrapped Lesnar's arm around the ringpost. Hunter grabbed a chair as Michaels was spotted passed out/reclining/taking a nap leaning against the guardrail in the background.
Back in the ring, Hunter slapped on the kimura lock. Heyman, desperate, decided to enter the ring and grab a chair, but Michaels entered the ring and superkicked Heyman. They re-focused on the kimura lock, which Lesnar teased tapping out to. But, he refused to tap as the crowd came to life, then lifted Hunter into the air to slam him onto the ring steps. But, Lesnar couldn't follow up, so Hunter re-applied the submission, only to have Lesnar slam him onto the steps again. After a pause, Hunter re-applied and this time Lesnar twisted the arm back a la how Lesnar "broke" Hunter's arm in 2012. Lesnar waved his hand up and down teasing tapping, but Lesnar summoned power to slam Hunter onto the ring steps again. Or, did Hunter DDT Lesnar on the way down? Apparently he did.
At 23:00, they reset away from the ring steps. Hunter then grabbed the sledgehammer and measured Lesnar to pop him in the head. Hunter wobbled around the ring, then forced the energy to do his Triple H Pose. Hunter grabbed Lesnar and dragged him onto the ring steps for the Pedigree onto the steps. Lesnar bounced down to the mat, Hunter recovered, and pinned Lesnar for the pin and the win.
Post-match, Shawn Michaels entered the ring and the camera focused on Michaels having a bloody lip/nose. Michaels and Hunter embraced, then Hunter cleared the ring before WWE replayed high-points from the match.
WINNER: Hunter at 23:58. This one of those matches where the audience knew the result of the journey and didn't feel like taking the ride, unlike Taker-Punk. And, similar to Summerslam when the first match occurred. They had a great final two minutes with Lesnar teasing tapping out for a long time, but it wasn't enough to save it. Overall, they tried to give Lesnar enough offense to look destructive in defeat, but he's one high-priced enhancement talent-to-the-top-stars. (**3/4)
PPV Hour #4
PPV plug: Extreme Rules is next month. They showed a "teenage" Sheamus writing "I will not be extreme" on a classroom chalkboard, then turning around and scowling to the camera. "Some people never learn," the voice-over man said.
This was followed by a movie plug for Pain & Gain starring The Rock, then highlights of the Hall of Fame ceremony last night, including Trish Stratus announcing her pregnancy, soundbytes from the undercard, and portions of Bruno Sammartino's final speech.
In-ring: Howard Finkel was standing by in the ring to introduce the Hall of Fame class, which was assembled on-stage. Mick Foley was introduced first, then Booker T, Trish Stratus, crazy Bob Backlund, Donald Trump to boos, and, finally, Bruno Sammartino to a strong ovation. Sammartino back on WWE television.
Next was a video package promoting WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans next year.
Back live in the arena, WWE let crowd noise fill the broadcast. Justin Roberts then said the center of WWE has always been in New York. Roberts announced attendance of 80,676 for WrestleMania before pyro and fireworks shot off.
After a pause, John Cena's music played. Apparently the eight-person tag match has been scrapped. Cena came out on-stage to loud boos. No elaborate entrance this year. Apparently Diddy spent the elaborate entrance budget this year. Cena hit the ring, slapped hands with Michael Strahan ringside, and entered the ring for his customary pre-match routine.
WWE champion The Rock was then introduced to loud cheers. Rock posed on-stage, then hit the ring and posed while Cena bounced up and down. After a pause to let them soak up the atmosphere, which just wasn't the same as Miami last year for The Original, Justin Roberts handled formal ring introductions. Loud boos for Cena and loud cheers for Rock, but not Miami-level.
8 -- WWE champion THE ROCK vs. JOHN CENA -- WWE Title match
Rock and Cena went through an early feeling-out process as the announcers talked about what would happen if each man won and lost. JBL said for Cena, he would carry the label of "Can't Win The Big One," and be the Jim Kelly of WWE - four-time Super Bowl-playing QB Hall of Famer, but never won the Super Bowl.
At 7:00, Rock slapped on a sleeperhold to take control of the match. A light "boring" chant started, then faded out. Cena escaped, then dropped Rock and smirked toward the crowd. Lawler claimed, "This crowd is split 50/50," trying to play up the narrative even though it was 90/10 for Rock. Or, 70 Rock/10 Cena/20 disinterested. Cena then delivered a shoulder tackle, audibly shouted, "Drop down," to Rock, then Rock dropped down, and Cena airballed Rock. After a weak mid-ring exchange, Rock applied the Sharpshooter, but Cena escaped and hit a sit-out slam.
Cena stood up and smirked, then very slowly leaned down over Rock and hand-waved him. Cena slowly bounced the ropes, but missed the fist drop. Rock then DDT'ed Cena and cussed out Cena, who very slowly reached his feet. Rock wanted Rock Bottom, but Cena countered with the STF. Cena visibly whispered in Rock's ears some instructions for the next spot, which Lawler claimed was Cena "talking smack." Cena then slingshot Rock into the corner, then delivered the Five-Knuckle Shuffle.
Cena wanted an Attitude Adjustment, but Rock countered with a spinebuster. Rock wanted the People's Elbow, but Rock grabbed Rock's leg and flowed into the STF. The crowd didn't buy it as a potential finish, then Rock broke free. Rock then hit Rock Bottom center-ring. Rock covered, but Cena kicked out. Rock then casually walked around the ring before walking into the Attitude Adjustment. It was only good for a two count, though.
Cena then took his time climbing to the top rope, where he missed with a guillotine leg drop. Rock followed with the People's Elbow, then covered for a two count. Cena rolled to the ring apron, then rolled clear down to the floor. Rock then slowly scooped up Cena on the floor and rolled him back into the ring. In the ring, they traded bombs before Cena went for a flying cross-body splash, but Cena intercepted, then powerlifted into the AA, but Rock countered with Rock Bottom. Again, though, Cena kicked out. (It's worth noting Cena's kick-outs have been a beat too early, killing the drama of the nearfall.)
Rock and Cena reset at 18:30 with Rock stalking Cena, then wanting the People's Elbow again, only turning it into You Can't See Me. Rock then wanted the Shuffle, but Cena popped to his feet and hit the AA, reversing roles from the finish of Cena-Rock last year, but Rock kicked out of this pin attempt. Cole noted the role-reversal, but it didn't cost Rock the match, unlike Cena last year.
At 20:00, they slowly reached their feet. Cena jabbed Rock, then again. Rock responded and they traded bombs. Teased finishers, then Cena hit Rock Bottom for a close nearfall. Cena entered Actor Mode reacting with his face to the nearfall. Cena then slowly unfolded two fingers to the ref, asking, "Only two?" Next, Cena stood up, checked his hand, looked down at Rock, then decided to tease the People's Elbow, just like last year. Cena mockingly did Rock's pose, then Rock stood up. Only, this time, Cena held the ropes when Rock popped up. Cena, thinking he suckered in Rock, then wanted AA, but got too cocky posing for the hard camera, and Rock countered with Rock Bottom. But, Cena kicked out. Great sequence.
They reset at 23:00 with another AA tease from Cena. But, Rock intercepted. Another tease. Another one. More blocks. Rock then hit a DDT center-ring. Rock then stood up and waited for Cena to get up, which took a while. Rock wanted another Rock Bottom, but Cena ducked and hit the Attitude Adjustment. Cena immediately covered and it was good for the win.
WINNER: Cena at 23:58 to capture the WWE Title. Very good final portion, but it was clear the majority of this hardcore crowd was there to see Punk, so they were not as interested in the perceived Corporate Main Event until the false finishes at the end. It was also clear that Rock was not conditioned for a lengthy match, which meant Cena had to slow down, too, similar to Rock-Punk at the Royal Rumble. As for the finish, it was booked like a WrestleMania Main Event - straightforward, clean, and paying off the overall story from the past year and specifically the first three months of this year with 2013 being Cena's Year of Redemption to satisfy the Cena Fans. (***1/4)
After the match, Cena received the WWE Title and soaked in the moment. WWE went to a wide-shot of the crowd reacting when the pinfall went down and the Cena Fans were captured jumping up and down. They returned live where Cena received the title belt as Rock came to his feet. Cena and Rock came face-to-face, with Rock dripping sweat as the Legend handing the torch to Cena. Rock and Cena shook hands, then embraced and whispered items to each other. Cena pointed to Rock and told them to play his music, then Cena disappeared from the ring. Rock was left alone in the ring with hands on hips selling the moment. Rock surveyed the arena, then WWE cut to a shot of Cena with his eyes locked on the title belt leaving to the back. Back in the ring, Rock continued to look around the arena before mouthing, "Thank you."
The crowd finally noticed what was going on as Rock pounded his chest toward the crowd. Rock wiped sweat from his eyebrows, then slowly left the ring. Rock slowly walked down the ring steps, then walked over to Arnold Skaaland's widow and kissed her before kissing his mom, his girlfriend, daughter, and ex-wife/business partner. Rock then slowly ascended the entrance ramp, where Cena was waiting for him. Cena saluted Rock, then Rock saluted him. Rock and Cena stood tall on the entrance ramp for a curtain call as Rock pointed to Cena. Fireworks shot off, Rock kissed the sky, Rock disappeared to the back, and Cena smiled before holding the title belt in the air. "The Champ is here!" Cena declared as the crowd booed to close WrestleMania at 9:51 p.m.
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