Lilian Garcia singing "America, the Beautiful" was nice and that flyover was impeccably timed. Doesn't really have anything to do with wrestling, but I thought it was cool.
Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan for the World Heavyweight Championship did not set a good tone for the night. For the second year in a row, the World Title match opened, which I do not appreciate, and I especially don't like it when it's an 18-second match. These two could've had a really, really good match, one we'll probably get at Extreme Rules or as early as Smackdown on Friday, but can these guys catch a break already? But hey, props to Bryan and Sheamus for getting a WrestleMania payday without having to do any actual work, easiest money they'll ever make.
Sheamus as World Champ should be fun and he has a nice rogues gallery to Brogue Kick his way through (see what I did there?), but I think it's safe to say the World Championship is fairly unnecessary at this point. Let Sheamus work through Kane, Cody and a returning Wade Barrett, then let's merge the titles by Night of Champions.
Predictions: 1 for 1
Kane vs. Randy Orton was surprisingly decent, but the crowd wasn't having any part of it. "Daniel Bryan" chants dogged the entire match, which was pretty awesome, but hey, at least Orton lost! Admittedly, I would've been happy with an 18-second Kane/Orton match that was an RKO and a pin and then a 10-minute match for Bryan/Sheamus, but I'll take what I can get. Kane's Super Chokeslam was really cool too and I guess he won this match so he could feud with Sheamus?
Predictions: 1 for 2
Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show was not as fun as I was hoping it would be, but Cody bounced around like a pinball, didn't he? Big Show finally got his WrestleMania moment, the Intercontinental Title had an actual storyline at WrestleMania, and a feud had a logical and definitive payoff. Not much to say about it, but I'm not complaining.
Predictions: 2 for 3
Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix & Eve sucked, but kudos to everyone for trying and kudos to The Glamazon for keeping the train from derailing. Menounos learning that a stinkface in white pants + makeup = skidmarks was a hilarious way to pass the time at our WrestleMania party though.
Predictions: 3 for 4
The Undertaker vs. Triple H: Hell in a Cell is where the show really kicked into gear though. I was perplexed by the match going on so early, but it was the right call since the crowd really didn't get their second wind until the main event. Although at this point, I hope WWE has learned that at this point, no one can follow The Undertaker at WrestleMania. The Streak has eclipsed everything else and it is the biggest thing in wrestling, even bigger than The Rock.
And that's why it's easily my pick for Match of the Night and I'd be genuinely shocked if anything else even came close for Match of the Year. Even people that hated last year's match seemed to love this one, probably because it was 30-40 minutes of these two beating the everloving piss out of each other. Did you see Taker's back!? He looked like a well-marbled sirloin! Triple H's head looked like he'd been dragged across the freeway. Brutally beautiful, breautiful, if you will.
Shawn Michaels was a nice addition for the drama, the Sweet Chin Music/Pedigree combo made my pants look like Maria Menounos'. I was glad to see Taker as the aggressor in this one though, like a Nega Samson, cutting off his hair gave him his power back. I've never seen Triple H destroyed like that and I think it's safe to say the days of The Game are pretty much over. I doubt that was his last match ever, he'll always be a special attraction, but I'm sure he's done as a regular in-ring competitor, much like The Undertaker has been in the last couple years.
"End of an Era" was a good tagline for this match because there aren't guys like these two in wrestling anymore. As good as many guys are, Triple H and Undertaker command our interest unlike anyone else. The Undertaker in particular; here's a guy who was always written off as "not a good worker," but his presence is unrivaled. Even if he's only wrestling one match a year at this point, he can't be followed at WrestleMania. You put him in a big match situation like tonight and not even the "biggest match in history" can live up to his performance. Find me anyone else in American wrestling today that can do that.
I could probably write a novel on this match, but let's just leave it at the fact that it was fucking awesome. Oh and one other thing: SHREDDERTAKER! Okay, one more thing: 20-0.
Predictions: 4 for 5
Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy had the unenviable task of being the cooldown match after Hell in a Cell and cool the crowd down, it did! The three-man somersault plancha was cool and they were definitely digging Ryder, but he was on the wrong team if he wanted to get some momentum. Team Johnny wins, as expected, and T-Lo is hopefully going on the hunt for Doom 2.0.
Predictions: 5 for 6
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho was a really good match that was severely wounded by a dead crowd. They got really fired up for Triple H/Taker, so I don't think they were quite ready for the slow burn Punk and Jericho were going for, which was a damn shame. The match was quite good, although they've both had better and I suspect the inevitable rematch will be as well, but it took its time. The "if you get DQed, you lose the title" bit was a completely unnecessary addition as well, I would've liked to have seen them brawl a bit, maybe even do something through the announce table. You'd think WWE would've learned their lesson when that stipulation killed their WrestleMania 25 main event.
I'm never going to bitch about Punk and Jericho getting 20 minutes at WrestleMania, but I think the crowd was expecting more sooner. Great ending sequence, pretty much everything after Jericho reverses Punk's super hurricanrana into the Walls was gold, and Punk winning with a hard-fought Anaconda Vice was an excellent touch, especially once he learned to avoid Jericho's knees. Oh and what about that NASTY suplex from the apron early on? We needed JR to stick around there for a "good God, almighty!"
Let's put these two in a ladder match at Extreme Rules and let them go balls to the wall.
Predictions: 6 for 7
That Brodus Clay bit better be the end of that character. That was shockingly racist and woefully unfunny. Every year, I have to look at the non-wrestling fan in the room and say, "I'm sorry, I'm embarrassed you had to see that."
The Rock vs. John Cena was... disappointing. And believe me, it hurts to say that. It legitimately bums me out that I didn't enjoy this match, but it just didn't do it for me. You can say no match could've lived up to that hype, but I don't believe that, I do think Rock and Cena can live up to that hype. You can say I'm just pissed because I'm a Cena fan and don't think The Rock should've won, but I don't have a problem with that either... celebrities always win at WrestleMania.
I don't know what it is, something was just missing here. I think they were onto it at the end, but once the clock was around 10:50, there wasn't much time for them to really get into it and they'd already burned through 25 minutes. I was expecting an Attitude Era-esque brawl, with these two guys flopping around the outside, beating the hell out of each other, Rock Bottoms through announce tables, but instead it was really tame.
And I worry that perhaps they intentionally held back in this one so they could really go all out for
But that's ultimately the problem with WWE right now, they're in this weird crossroads where there's The Rock up here, John Cena a rung below, Triple H & Undertaker in their own early-90s universe, and then everyone else is waaaaaaaaaay down here. I'm not sure how they fix this, or if they even have interest in doing so, but this has to be the longest transitional period in the company's history.
Ignoring the long term implications for a moment though, the match just wasn't very good. It wasn't bad and the crowd saved it from ever veering near bad, and Cena's cockiness costing him was a really cool finish, but they just wasted too much time and I'm not sure why. Everything felt soft and I don't know if that's because Rock needs to protect the moneymaker or what, but these two can do better.
Predictions: 6 for 8
I liked the show, there was fun to be had, but WrestleMania 28 will go down in history as The Undertaker/Triple H WrestleMania, and that's okay. Far worse WrestleManias have been remembered for just one match and often that match is not nearly as good as Hell in a Cell was this evening. Unfortunately for WWE, Rock vs. Cena should've been the match the show was remembered for and that will not be the case. This show had quite a few fun matches and moments, but the lack of Money in the Bank was another huge downfall and some surefire bets fell short, which is always heartbreaking.
But hot damn, Undertaker vs. Triple H was amazing.