Wrestlemania 29

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The 29th installment of Wrestlemania was a solid show with many highlights and was one of the very few I had not seen. It was held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, NJ and was billed as a co-location event between New York and New Jersey. It was the fifth Wrestlemania held outdoors which added a Super Bowl-type atmosphere to the proceedings. WWE has held to this new tradition of holding the biggest wrestling event of the year in big stadiums and it really adds to the atmosphere.

The highlights of the night are as follows:

Randy Orton/Big Show/Sheamus vs. The Shield – This was the first Wrestlemania for all three members of The Shield (Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins, and Roman Reigns) and was a solid start to the show. The highlight of the match was when Rollins attempted a top rope maneuver and Randy Orton caught him with an RKO. The match ended with a spear from Reigns to Orton and the pinfall was secured by Ambrose. Great match and The Shield were very over with the crowd.

Mark Henry vs. Ryback – A little underwhelming since the match featured two big, slower guys and the crowd was not very interested in this match. It was not horrible, just kind of a throw away match. Henry secured the win after a failed Shell Shock attempt from Ryback.

Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler/Big E – A solid match that featured a very fun team in Daniel Bryan and Kane that I miss since they not only had solid matches, but their vignettes were hysterical with the two of them always being at odds. Ziggler and Big E (with AJ Lee in tow) were a very solid team as well. The match was fairly quick, but exciting with Team Hell No retaining their Tag Team Titles.

Fandango vs. Chris Jericho – This was Fandango’s debut match and the fact that it was against Jericho made it appear that Fandango was set for a big push. It was a fairly good match with Jericho having to carry the night since Fandango was more than a bit green. I could not help but feel that a debut match should not be held at the biggest event of the year. Not fair for a talent to have that kind of pressure put on them. Amazingly enough Fandango got the win, but surprisingly he was not really pushed that much after Wrestlemania. Seems a waste of such a notable victory.

Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger – This was was kind of an ironic match since both men are known to be very reckless in the ring and have both caused multiple real life injuries to their opponents. The match itself was fine with Alberto retaining his World Title, but I had one HUGE issue with the entire storyline, the racist aspect of it. During this time Swagger came out with Zeb Colter (formerly known as Dirty Dutch Mantel) with Zeb constantly attacking immigrants and mentioning how ‘those people’ should not be in our country. I have loved wrestling since I was a kid and even though I have seen my fair share of embarrassing moments on the screen most of it was fairly benign. This particular angle went too far in my opinion and with racism being a big issue in our country this was one area the WWE should have stayed out of. It got uncomfortable hearing the things that were spewing from Colter’s mouth and made the match less enjoyable.

The Undertaker vs. CM Punk -Once again, another great match from The Undertaker with CM Punk being that year’s victim of the streak. They both worked a solid, hard fought match with plenty of moments that made you think Punk could have been the one to end the streak. After a lot of back and forth The Undertaker hit Punk with a Tombstone Piledriver for the win.

Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar – This match was brutal with both men beating the hell out of each other. Triple H has always been and always will be a solid in-ring performer and he and Lesnar really worked well together with H Securing the victory via his patented Pedigree.

John Cena vs. The Rock – The big rematch from the previous year’s Wrestlemania. Both men had legitimate animosity towards each other and were able to channel that heat into an excellent match with plenty of action and false finishes. John Cena won the WWE Title with the AA and both men embraced after the end of the match showing true respect for each other.

Overall, a good show that was fun to watch for the first time even though I already knew the outcomes of some of the matches.

Next week I will be watching Wrestlemania 30 again and even though I already reviewed it last year, I am looking forward to a second viewing and seeing if my opinion has changed on any of the matches knowing some of the real life stories behind them, especially The Undertaker/Brock Lesnar match which I was not thrilled with a year ago.

Remember, you can watch all of these shows yourself and so much more by subscribing to the WWE Network for only $9.99 a month!

Wrestlemania 27

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The 27th edition of Wrestlemania had some issues, but also featured some very memorable matches.

Starting with the lowlights:

The Rock – I know, sounds blasphemous, but this was the first time for me where I wanted him to get out of the ring and let the matches begin. His opening promo was too long and he really seemed off his game. This was a Wrestlemania I had not seen and just wanted to get to the matches. You can tell the crowd did too.

The main event of The Miz defending the WWE title against Cena – Two very talented performers and great characters that had one of the most boring main events in Wrestlemania history. They both just seemed off. The match ended with a double count out and then The Rock came out to demand the match restart. He Rock Bottomed Cena to give The Miz the win and then took out The Miz afterwards. The only purpose of this whole match was to set up next year’s Wrestlemania main event between The Rock and John Cena which further made this bout pointless. Another thing that made the ending of The Miz getting knocked around was that he had suffered a concussion earlier in the match and seeing him taking blows to the head while looking truly out of it was a little disconcerting. The Miz is still a featured wrestler on WWE programming, but that concussion could have caused long term issues.

Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole – The least said the better. By the way, I HATE heel Michael Cole. Enough said.

The skits – Soooooo many skits. Various ones featuring The Rock. Another one with Snoop Dog that was funny, but too long. People want to see actual matches during the biggest show of the year, not comedy routines. The fewer the better.

The positive:

The Edge vs. Alberto del Rio – This was Edge’s final match since he was forced a week later to retire due to a neck injury. He retained his World title in a solid match and got the rare opportunity to retire as champion.

Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio – These two worked amazingly well together. Rey is always incredible, but Cody held his own and was just as amazing. Cody got a big win and it was much deserved.

The Undertaker vs. Triple H – Yes, The Undertaker continued his win streak, but did a great job of making it look like the streak was truly in danger. They had a brutal, physical match that kept your interest throughout. The match of the night by far.

CM Punk vs. Randy Orton – Another great match with both men working very well together with Orton getting the win via an impressive RKO off a Punk springboard clothesline attempt.

Overall, a good show that was brought down a bit by The Rock and the main event, but not enough to say you should skip this one. Worth a watch for some great matches.

Looking forward to Wrestlemania 28 and the big main event between Cena and The Rock.

Wrestlemania 25

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Wrestlemania 25 was one of the better modern Wrestlemania’s. With the exception of a horrid Divas Battle Royal and the overly long Kid Rock mini-concert there were many memorable matches.

The Money in the Bank ladder match kicked off the show in grand style. Featuring CM Punk, Kane, Mark Henry, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Kofi Kingston, Christian, and Finlay (with Punk winning for the second time) was a blast as always with my personal highlight being when Benjamin performed a senton bomb off the top of a high ladder on to the rest of his opponents. These matches never disappoint.

Chris Jericho pinning Ricky Steamboat, Jimmy Snuka, and Roddy Piper was a very well worked match that came about due to Jericho belittling the legends over the previous couple of months. Ricky Steamboat was simply amazing. For a man well into his 50’s when this match took place to come out and perform repeated top rope maneuvers and never seem out of breath was inspiring.

The match of the night though was The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels. Holy you-know-what that was a great match! Definitely one of the best in pro wrestling history. False finishes galore with not only Michaels high flying, but The Undertaker doing the same was an experience of a lifetime. This is a match that must be watched. It is the perfect example of why so many of us love wrestling.

The next match was Big Show vs. John Cena vs. Edge which was a solid match with Cena winning the World Heavyweight Championship, but was forgettable following Michaels vs. The Undertaker stealing the show.

The last match featured Triple H beating Randy Orton amidst a very dead/silent crowd. Watching it again it was a solid match with a great build up with Orton attacking Triple H’s wife Stephanie McMahon in the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania, but The Undertaker/Michaels match left everyone breathless and really should have ended the show.

Overall, a solid PPV and I am looking forward to 26 which was held in my home state of Arizona!

Wrestlemania 23 and 24

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Wrestlemania 23 was a good show, but not quite as memorable as the year before.

We got another entertaining MITB match with Mr. Kennedy defeating CM Punk, Randy Orton, Finlay, Matt Hardy, King Booker, Jeff Hardy, and Edge. All performers did a great job and filled the match with a lot of high spots.

The worst match was The Great Khali going over Kane. Khali is not a good performer and it always unfortunate when a top notch wrestler like Kane is stuck putting over someone with no talent.

The Undertaker beat Batista for the World Heavyweight Title in a great, well worked match. Both guys did a terrific job and the match was paced very well which is very important when putting together a good match.

The main event was John Cena beating Shawn Michaels via submission in a solid main event that really helped elevate Cena.

There were some good matches but overall, this was a fairly lackluster event.

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Wrestlemania 24 was a major improvement from the year’s previous show and was highlighted by another excellent MITB match, Edge vs. The Undertaker for the World Heavyweight Championship, and Ric Flair’s retirement match.

 

The MITB ladder match between Chris Jericho, Mr. Kennedy, Carlito, M.V.P., CM Punk, Shelton Benjamin and John Morrison was incredible. Every performer put their all into the match with CM Punk winning the title shot. Morrison is an incredible athlete and did some crazy maneuvers and Shelton took some bumps that were the craziest ever seen.

The final match on the card featured The Undertaker defeating Edge for the title in a great match that showed Edge was truly a main event wrestler and could help carry the biggest show of the year.

The best bout on the card though was the career ending match between Ric Flair and Shawn Michaels. Shawn Michaels was amazing as always and Ric Flair proved he is the greatest professional wrestler of all time. What he did during this match at 60 years old is amazing and proved he is a legend. It was a very emotional match with an amazing amount of back and forth action with no dead spots and Michaels winning with a superkick to Ric Flair. Flair was very emotional at the end of the match and this bout was a great way to end his active wrestling career.

Well, this will be the last Wrestlemania review for the week since the 31st installment is only a few days away and I have run out of time! I will be watching Wrestlemania 31 specials Thursday and Friday night, followed by the Hall of Fame on Saturday and of course Wrestlemania 31 on Sunday!

I will let you know how it all turns out next week!

 

WWE Live Events

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This past weekend I had the pleasure of attending two WWE Live Events in Arizona. Live Events are non-televised shows that focus more on wrestling and eliminate all the long speeches we see during televised shows. They used to be referred to as ‘house shows’.

I had not been to a WWE show in 15 years and was thrilled to get to go to not just one but 2 back-to-back. Both shows were a ton of fun and it was great to see my daughter’s excitement watching her first WWE events in person.

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Last Friday night the show was held in Tucson at the Tucson Convention Center. I had never attended an event there before and it was a small arena where there is not a bad seat in the house and it really gave the show an old school feel which I loved.

The card was as follows:

Jack Swagger defeated Adam Rose and it was really surprising to see that both wrestlers were over with the crowd.

Bo Dallas was defeated by Erick Rowan in a short, squash match which was followed up by Dallas insisting on another match to redeem himself and was subsequently squashed by Zack Ryder. Once again, all three guys got a great reception.

Fandango & Stardust vs. R-Truth & Goldust was a fast moving match with the crowd constantly cheering and chanting ‘Cody’ to mock Stardust. R-Truth & Goldust won and ended the match with an entertaining dance-off between both guys.

Roman Reigns beat Rusev by DQ. Reigns was over with the Tucson crowd big time. Biggest pop of the night with the crowd never losing interest in this match.

Cesaro and Tyson Kidd vs. New Day vs. The Ascension vs. Prime Time Players in a Four Way Elimination match was another well worked match with Cesaro and Kidd winning in a bout that was fun throughout.

Nikki Bella vs. Paige was another solid match and even though the crowd loved Paige, Nikki was more over since Arizona is her home state. Nikki won in a solid match.

The main event was a street fight between John Cena and Seth Rollins. On television the crowds are always clearly divided between love and hate for Cena. Not in Tucson. Cena was very over with the crowd and only a very small smattering of people booed him. This was a great main event with Cena putting Rollins through a table and securing the win.

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The next night the show was held in Phoenix at the US Airways Center and it was a pretty big crowd and our seats were amazing. It was the perfect contrast to the night before with the old school feel. Saturday’s show had a great modern, big arena feel.

The show started again with Jack Swagger beating Adam Rose and the two of them had an even better match than the night before.

R-Truth beat Fandango (w/Rosa Mendes) and just like the previous night R-Truth was very over with the crowd and after the match was done they brought some kids in attendance into the ring to chant ‘What’s Up!” with R-Truth and create a very memorable moment for them and their families.

We got the same Bo Dallas vs. Rowan bout with a second match against Ryder and it was just as fun as the night before. Well worked by all three guys.

We also got the same Four Way Elimination match with the main difference being Kofi Kingston teamed up with Xavier Woods for New Day this night with Xavier teaming up with Big E the night before. Yet another great match between four teams that worked hard to entertain the crowd and succeeded.

Ryback beat Rusev via DQ and it was a very well worked and well paced match. Rusev got great heat and Ryback got several ‘feed me more” chants throughout the match.

Goldust defeated Stardust in a great match that was a real joy to see since these two real-life brothers work incredibly well together. Goldust was very over with the crowd and Stardust got a lot of ‘Cody’ chants just like the night before.

The other repeat match was Nikki Bella beating Paige again with both ladies being very over with the crowd. This match was even better than the night before and it is nice to see the Divas being given more time to have actual wrestling matches.

The main event was John Cena and Randy Orton taking out Seth Rollins and Big Show. Rollins and Big Show got great heat and Cena and Orton were very over with the crowd. Orton got the biggest pop of the night by far and really seemed to be surprised by it and enjoyed it. Cena pinned Show after an Attitude Adjustment which seemed to shift the ring. The referee had to grab the ring ropes with Rollins and Orton getting low to the mat so as not to fall over. It was incredible to see that live.

Of course, I bought plenty of souvenirs both nights with my favorites being the John Cena autographed photo for myself and the Randy Orton autographed photo for my daughter. They have a couple of the wrestlers autograph a limited number of photos before the show and sell them at the merchandise booth for a mere $20 a pop. Awesome deal and I am quite thrilled to finally get Cena’s autograph and my daughter was quite excited to get her favorite wrestler’s signature as well.

The WWE really knows how to put on a great show for the fans and I cannot wait until they return to AZ!

Wrestlemania’s 19 and 20

I was a little off my schedule the past week so I have just 2 Wrestlemania’s to discuss, 19 and 20. As always, there will be some spoilers.

Rarely is there a ‘bad’ Wrestlemania. There are some that were definitely less memorable than others, but usually the WWE puts everything they have into making it the best show of the year.

Wrestlemania 19 was a solid show, but despite the fact I have watched it more than once I never seem to remember the card much before I start watching the 19th installment of the longest running PPV. Overall, it is a good show, but the only match that really stands out in my memory is Stone Cold vs. The Rock. This was a top notch match where The Rock finally got a Wrestlemania victory after losing to Stone Cold in Wrestlemania main events the past two times they met. This was Stone Cold’s last Wrestlemania main event since his injuries forced him to retire from full time wrestling. It was a great way to go out and if you watch this match you can see that The Rock is truly appreciative of Austin doing the job for him and subtly thanks him after the final pinfall.

Another match of note is Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon in a street fight. Way better than it had any right to be and both men busted their asses to put on the best show possible. Several high spots, a lot of blood shed by both men, and classic Hogan moments make this an entertaining match with Hogan winning.

Chris Jericho going against Shawn Michaels was another major highlight. Seeing these two legendary and very athletically gifted performers going head to head was a match made in heaven. They have similar styles yet are very unique in their move sets. Both guys were clearly trying to be the match of the night and they did a great job doing so.

The final match of the night was Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesner. An incredible match that had a ton of buildup with a nice payoff of Lesnar winning the WWE title. With both men having legendary amateur wrestling careers seeing them go to head to head in the WWE was a dream match and it did not disappoint.

Wrestlemania 20 was an okay show. Not bad, but not great. The low light of the night was Goldberg’s final match in the WWE against Brock Lesnar. The fans in attendance had no interest in the match and both wrestlers did not gel at all. It was awkward and unfortunate for both men.

Highlights were Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle (both all time great performers), the Cuiserweight Open for the WWE Cruiserweight Title (featuring Rey Misterio, Billy Kidman, Tajiri, and others), and the tag match between The Rock and Mick Foley vs. Ric Flair/Batista/Randy Orton in a 3 on 2 handicapped match.

Overall, a good show, but definitely flawed in the fact that there was just too much going on. At this time the WWE had an over abundance of talent and did not always seem to know what to do with them.

Still, this was a historic Wrestlemania being the 20th installment and still worth a few hours of your time.

10 more to go before this year’s Wrestlemania!