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OO PPV RECAP
WWE presents WrestleMania 30
April 6, 2014

by The Rick
Undisputed Lord and Master of OOWrestling.com

 

Well, it took over a month, but I finally have a gripe about the WWE Network.
 
And it's a fairly substantial one, as they pretty much torpedo'd my plans for WrestleMania. It turns out, the WWE App has a pretty antiquated and indefensible set of permissions on it that don't allow many devices to watch the Network over an HDMI connection.
 

Yeah, if you've got a gaming console or Roku or something like that (which is required to be hooked up to a TV to have worth), THAT works. But if you have an Android device, it turns out you can forget about it. And I didn't know this, as I spent the past month recovering from FRICKING CANCER, and only watching WWE Network on my PC. And periodically, my tablet. I never really had any need to hook it up to the TV.
 
Until tonight. I actually have a Smart TV dongle thingie (it's a thumb-drive-sized device that plugs straight into an HDMI jack), and love it. I can play a few games, do some basic web browsing, and mostly: watch NetFlix and HBO-Go in full HD. I just assumed WWE Network would be the same. It isn't.
 
Instead, WWE Network has permissions on it which are more like Time Warner's TV App or MLB.tv or the March Madness Live online option, all of which disable HDMI-out, on the grounds that they have readily-accessible TV versions that you're supposed to watch if you want to view things on a TV. But hey, WWE: YOU'RE NOT LIKE THAT (unless you're expecting me to pay $60 for PPVs after I already bought the Network, and surely, you're not that retarded, are you?). You are like NetFlix -- an "over-the-top" net-only service -- and you need to treat the Network as such.
 
I even wasted 15 minutes digging out an old docking station for my tablet, so I could make the HDMI connection that way. I figured my tablet works with the WWE Network, so I could save the day... but as soon as I hook it up to the HDMI, the screen goes blank, and the "ERROR: Video Cannot Be Played' message shows up. At this point, a quick check of the google, and I arrive at the conclusion that WWE has, on purpose, disabled HDMI capabilities for the Network for all but 4 devices (XBox 360, PS3 and PS4, and Roku boxes). Anyone with other Android or iOS devices, including dongles and tablets and phones, is screwed.
 
So, after a full month of singing the praises of the WWE Network, allow me to offer up a hearty Fuck You to WWE for settings on the Network that sort of defeat the purpose of paying for it. Get with the times, and just do what NetFlix does, already. This is the 21st Century, dammit; let us use our 21st Century technology to watch your product!

I'll trust you'll fix this before the next PPV, WWE. Right? RIGHT?!?
 
Good. I accept your apology. [/colbert]
 
So I had to go back to my Cancer Lair (OK, my bedroom), and sit in my Comfy Chair to watch WrestleMania on a 19" monitor that was halfway across the room, sitting on my desk. Whee. I guess it'd have been a bigger annoyance, except I've been sitting in that chair, watching shit on my PC for most of the last 2 months. So I'm kind of used to it. Doesn't mean I want to KEEP doing it, now that I'm on the road to recovery, though.
 
Enough ranting. One way or another, I did get to enjoy the show tonight, and you're here, because you want to hear all about it. So let's do that! Here's what happened at the just-completed WrestleMania 30 pay-per-view:

  • ON THE PRESHOW (Usos retain tag titles). The first hour of the preshow was pretty much garbage. Well, not garbage. But it was pointless, and didn't add anything to the discourse.

    The second hour included the tag title match, but I was distracted, dealing with the afforementioned Technical Issue, so I didn't quite get to focus.

    But the gist was this: for starters, it was Elimination Style, a change from WWE's announced plan of a straight Fatal Four-way (which is a one fall match). Los Matadores were eliminated first, after their one token highspot (stereo planchas, and then an added crossbody by the midget). A few moments later, Cesaro eliminated Rybaxel, following an Elevation Uppercut. Then, we got the extended Real Americans/Usos sequence I was hoping for. Ricky Uso as Face in Peril, hot tag to Robert Uso, things break down into a Pier Four Brawl. In the chaos, Swagger powders out, and Cesaro gets pinned following a double superkick/superfly splash combo. Champs retain.

    But then, a little added bonus, as Swagger got in the ring and harangued Cesaro about losing the match. Cesaro was all "Hey, I did my best, they won clean," and Swagger was all "I'm a jerk, and I'm going to put you in the Patriot Lock." Zeb tried to smooth things over, and Swagger finally (and grudgingly) put out his hand. As the crowd exhorted Cesaro with a "NO!" chant, Antonio gave them what they wanted: he cold cocked Swagger, and gave him the Giant Swing. Swagger and Zeb left in shame. And just like that, we have a face turn, ladies and gentlemen.

    Nice little moment to cap off the preshow, before they send it back for 10 more minutes of video packages and filler.


  • SURPRISINGLY ABRUPT THEME/INTRO/ETC. For the second year in a row, WWE actually seemed to cut things SHORTER for the intro to WM, than a normal WWE PPV. A quick New Orleans-is-party-town-central video, then we slam cut to the inside of the SuperDome.

    And nope: no "America the Beautiful" this year, either. I guess that's a thing of the past. Which is ultimately OK with me... but as a man with a well-known fondness of Lilian Garcia, I'd still kinda like to see her get to do the thing that she's best at.

    And why are we rushing? Because we're kicking off the show with some star power.

  • THE MOUNT RUSHMORE OF PRO WRESTLING ASSEMBLE. Host Hulk Hogan hits the ring at exactly 7:03pm (eastern). He gets huge cheers as he grabs a mic. And then by exactly 7:04pm, he gets booed out of the building. Why? Because he called said building the "SilverDome." The boos cause Hogan to register a moment of confusion, but he keeps going with his general thesis that tonight is gonna be awesome.

    Then he calls it the "SilverDome" again. The boos are louder. And this time, Hogan figures out the reason why. He apologizes, and does a nice job saving it, by saying he just has WrestleMania 3 on the brain, brother, the night he pressed the Giant above his head and yadda yadda yadda. But that's in the past, and tonight, we are most definitely in the SUPERDome, brothers!

    YAY!

    But then: KEE-RASH~!

    It's Stone Cold Steve Austin, who hits the ring at a brisk walk, and opens his promo by (sarcastically) saying how happy he is to be here, tonight, in the SilverDome. Hogan hangs his head in shame, as the crowd LOLs.

    Austin gives props to Hogan, saying that what he did, the trail he blazed, made it possible for what Stone Cold did, and what the superstars of today are doing. Austin reflected on how much ass Hogan kicked with Mr. T at WrestleMania 1. Then against Bundy at 2. (What?) Then Austin just started naming numbers. Three. (What?!?) Four. (WHAT?!?) And so on and so forth.

    Austin finally gives up after 10, and once again seriously congratulates Hogan on what he gave to the business, before underscoring that for all those great memories, tonight is about the current batch of WWE superstars, and he can't wait to see how they step up to amaze and entertain us.

    DO YOU SMEEEEELLLLLLLLLLLLLLL?
     
    And just like that, the Rock is on HIS way to the ring. JBL nails my exact sentiment when he calls it a living, breathing version of the Mount Rushmore of Pro Wrestling.

    Rocky announces that FINALLY he's back in New Orleans. Then: FINALLY he's back at WrestleMania. Then he puts his finger up to indicate he's calling an audible. With a knowing look at Hogan, he also says he's FINALLY back at the SUPERDome. Everybody laughs.

    Then it's back to serious business: Rock says he's gone to war with both Austin and Hogan, and they were among the greatest moments of a great career. But more to the point, they were the legends who laid the groundwork for what WWE has become.

    Rock points to Hogan, and says that without "Training, prayers, and vitamins," there would never be "Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect." Rock points to Austin, and says that without Austin crossing the Boss and whipping his candy ass, there would never be a YES! Movement challenging the Authority. Very nice drawing of parallels by Rocky.

    Then he gets goofy, and declares that HIS legacy is all the babies that are born 9 months after WrestleMania. Because when the Rock does his thing, it gets everybody all hot and bothered, and there's nothing the Ladies want to do more than make some Babies. Hey, it rhymes, so who cares if it's not quite TV-PG!

    Rock signs off with a promise that this will be a great WM, if ya smell what the Rock is cooking.

    Austin grabs the mic, and corrects him: it'll be a great WM, and that's the bottom line, cuz Stone Cold sez so.

    Hogan chimes in that the real question is: Whatchya gonna do when Hulkamania, WrestleMania (pause to turn to fans for adlib) AND THE SUPERDOME run wild on you?!?

    Crowd goes wild, Hogan's music plays, and the three megastars hug it out. Then Austin has an idea. He calls for some beers. The music changes to Stone Cold's as all three chug a few brews (and finally, after damn near a decade of lady beer, Austin has ditched the Miller Lite, and is once again drinking Budweiser). Then, as the finish up and leave the ring, the music randomly switches over to Rocky's.

    That was 20 minutes that served absolutely no purpose whatsoever. It was also 20 minutes that I absolutely loved to death. If it didn't put a smile on your face, trust me, the problem is at your end, not WWE's. I mean, it was a cool moment in a general/in-theory sort of way (the three biggest signature stars in WWE history, all together riffing), but when it happened in reality, it was even better. I mean, the single worst part of it -- Hogan's double verbal screw-up -- turned into just about the best part -- the triple ad-libs playing off his screw-up. That's magic, baby.

    Off to a great start.

  • DANIEL BRYAN DEFEATS TRIPLE H TO ADVANCE TO TONIGHT'S WWE TITLE MATCH. Stephanie is in a darkened ring (resplendent in a slutastic outfit that involves short shorts and a blouse cut down to the belly button), and lovingly introduces the greatest and most powerful human being to ever walk the earth. Her husband, and the COO of WWE, Triple H.

    Hunter then proceeds to complete the Trilogy of Gay that he started at WM22 (and which continued last year at WM29). As an orchestral fanfare played, Hunter emerged on top of a giant red velvet throne, wearing a shiny skull mask and cape. Yikes. Seriously, who thinks these "bonus" entrances are a good idea? Is there real data proving non-fans are watching WM and THEY are impressed by the fabulous pagentry? Because I'm pretty sure all wrestling fans are like me: giggling like loons, because of how silly HHH looks.

    Bryan makes his entrance with exactly zero extra bells and whistles. If I wasn't already cheering for him, I sure am now.

    The two circle each other as the bell rings. HHH eventually stops and extends a handshake of friendship. Except it's with a smirk that indicates it's probably more patronizing than respectful. So Bryan just delivers a roundhouse kick to Hunters right hand, and we're off.

    HHH tries to use his size and strength to gain an early advantage, but Bryan uses technical skill and pure uncut heart to rattle of a series of moves. But the tide turns when Bryan gets a little too cocky, and hits a giant senton from the top rope to the floor on HHH.

    Yes, he hit it. But it did as much damage to him as it did to HHH. Both men get to their feet at the same time, and when they exchange punches, HHH gets the better of it. Hunter takes the brawl over to the announce table, where he sets up for a Pedigree on the table. Bryan is able to counter that, but he has no answer when HHH changes gears and goes for a single arm DDT on the table. Ouch.

    Actually: Super Ouch. I neglected to mention that Bryan has his shoulder and ribs all taped up, still selling the injures of three weeks ago. So, as Jesse Ventura always used to say, that left arm basically had a giant bullseye on it. And HHH just took his first shot at it.

    Playing up the heelishness, HHH just got back in the ring, and made it clear he'd be perfectly happy to sit back and take a count-out win. Bryan made it in at 9. HHH chucked him out again, and backdropped him on the apron, and waited for the count-out again. Bryan again made it in at 9.

    HHH tried a few submission moves at this point, one was a cool variant on the crossface chickenwing. The other was a Crippler Crossface. Hey, if Bryan's got the divebomb headbutt in his arsenal, HHH is gonna bust out his own Benoitiness.
     
    Anyway, Bryan is able to escape both relatively quickly, as we're a bit too early in the match for submissions (it's about 10-12 mintues in). HHH follows up with a big German Suplex for a 2 count, and then sets up for a superplex. But Bryan fights back with right hands (each one getting a huge YES! chant), and it turns into a top rope sunset flip.

    Bryan continues to fire up with a series of kicks, but when he goes for his running corner dropkick, HHH launches himself out of the turnbuckle and hits a WICKED clothesline. End of hope spot. Steph gloats on the outside (she's actually been providing obnoxious running commentary all match).

    A bit more back and forthy, and HHH locks in the Crossface again. This time, Bryan has to work much harder to escape, as HHH rolls him back to the middle of the ring when Bryan tries to reach the ropes for a break. Instead, Bryan flips through the hold into a pinning combo, forcing HHH to break the hold, so he can kick out at 2.

    HHH rolls to the outside, thinking he'll take a little break... but Bryan follows, and chases HHH down, tossing him back in the ring. He fires off a half dozen YES! Kicks, and then lands the Super Duper Mega Wind-Up YES! Kick. But HHH kicks out at 2.

    Bryan retreats to a corner, and waits as HHH gets to his feet. Bryan sprints in, looking for the Flying Knee, but HHH catches him with a Spinebuster, instead. Lightning quick, HHH follows up with a Pedigree, and Cole declares the YES! Movement to be dead.

    Wrong, dumdum. Bryan kicks out at 2. HHH's frustration allows Bryan to catch him with a quick roll-up. But that only gets a 2, too. It also catches Hunter's attention, and refocuses him. HHH mounts and punches Bryan repeatedly, until the ref forcefully pulls him off. HHH goes for another Pedigree. Bryan backflips out of it.

    So HHH releases him and starts stomping away on the shoulder again, until Bryan is prone. Another Pedigree attempt, another flip out, and this time, Bryan hits an enzuigiri, takes three steps back, and lands the Flying Knee as HHH just barely gets back to his hands and knees.

    The crowd goes wild. Bryan makes the cover. One. Two. And THREE! Wow, it doesn't get any cleaner and more decisive than that. Bryan with the pinfall win in a very good 25 minute match.

  • BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE. An angry Stephanie gets in the ring and starts jawing with Bryan. Then, she starts slapping away at him. Bryan's actually smiling, and is clearly not too concerned... but Steph wasn't trying to do any physical damage. She was just keeping Bryan distracted.

    Triple H struck fron behind with a clubbering forearm blow. He stomped on Bryan's injured shoulder some more, and then rammed his arm into the steel ringpost a few times. For good measure, he grabbed a chair, and blasted Bryan in the shoulder.

    As the ref helps Bryan to his feet, HHH and Steph left the ring, yapping into the camera about how much they hope Bryan enjoys his "happy ending." The story here is that Bryan was already injured before the match... but he still managed to win. And now, he's even MORE injured. D'oh.

    A glance at the clock reveals that it's 8:05pm. So I guess my bitching about how much time WWE was going to waste with a 7-match, 4-hour card may not have been entirely accurate. Here we are, one quarter of the way through the show, and we've only got one match down...

  • THE SHIELD DOMINATE KANE/NEW AGE OUTLAWS IN THREE MINUTES FLAT. Accelerated ring intros, so maybe we actually ARE running a bit late? The heels try to jump start things by illegally triple teaming Roman Reigns to start. But Reigns takes 'em out, one by one. When Kane threatens to get the better of Reigns, Rollins and Ambrose decide they'll get involved, and it turns into a Pier Sixer.

    Reigns flattens Kane with a Spear. Then he gets Road Dogg and Billy Gunn with a Double Spear. Then Ambrose and Rollins join in for the big finish: A Double Triple Powerbomb.

    Yes, a Double Triple Powerbomb. Ambrose and Rollins hoisted Billy and Road Dogg up, one for each of Reigns' arms, and he powerbombs them both to the mat. Wow. Done and done.

    The Shield are victorious in a short and sweet (but ultimately satisfying) 3 minute brawl. Not what I was expecting... but I was only expecting a Shield loss/break-up because WWE spent the last month trying to make us NOT expect it. So they won me. I'm actually very much OK with the Shield hanging together and having more fun times like this for a bit, before the inevitable break-up.

  • BACKSTAGE: Sgt. Slaughter and Hacksaw Jim Duggan are playing with WWE action figures. Duggan's action figure apparently gets the "win" over Slaughter's, and we pull back to see the ref who counted the fall is none other than Dangerous Danny Davis (the crooked ref of the single digit WMs).

    Ricky Steamboat appears out of nowhere to challenge Duggan. But then a toady in a suit shows up and takes the toys away, saying they have a new owner. We pan to the right, where the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase laughs his evil laugh.

    Then Ron Simmons shows up, surveys the entire scene, and gives us a "DAMN."

    Your mileage may vary, but it made me laugh.

  • UNANNOUNCED ENTRANT ANTONIO CESARO WINS THE ANDRE BATTLE ROYALE. We cut back to the arena, where the ring is basically already full. Big Show and Sheamus each get individual entrances, and then that's apparently all 30, because the bell rings, and we're off.

    I can't immediately identify who the 3 unannounced entrants are, but Cesaro is in there, after having already wrestled, so he's one of them. A quick scan reveals no huge surprises, not even Alexander Rusev.

    I won't bother with the play-by-play, as it's pretty much impossible to keep track of the early stages. Lots of random brawling and rapidfire eliminations. I'll just sit back and get back to you when we're down to the final four or so.

    Waiting....

    Waiting....

    Waiting....

    OK, I have to come back to mention the awesome way Cesaro eliminated Rey Mysterio. Rey did all kind of wacky flippy stuff, trying to set Cesaro up for a springboard move... and then Cesaro -- much like Indiana Jones pulling out a gun and shooting the samurai guy in "Raiders -- just caught Rey in mid-air with a vicious Elevation Uppercut. Rey went flying, and the crowd went nuts.

    Waiting...

    Waiting...

    OK, I'll also mention Kofi's cool elimination save. Cesaro backflipped him in the corner, and Kofi took a wicked bump OVER the steps, landing on his back... but his feet just barely landed ON the steps! The ref was right there to make the call, and Kofi got back in the ring, since his feet didn't hit the floor. Nice.

    Waiting...

    Waiting...

    Waiting...

    OK, now we're down the the final four. It's Big Show, Cesaro, Alberto del Rio, and Sheamus.

    Wait, final two: del Rio and Sheamus just eliminated each other. So we're down to Cesaro and Big Show. Crowd perks up, big time, sensing that something awesome may be afoot.

    And they're right.

    Show and Cesaro go back and forth with big bombs (Cesaro actually seemed entirely evenly matched, in a weird way; there's just something that reeks of credibility when he clubs you with a forearm). Show eventually gets an advantage, and tosses Cesaro over the top. But Cesaro grabs the rope and saves himself.

    Show seems half-annoyed at Cesaro hanging around, and rejoins the fight, with more basic punchy-kicky. But it almost seemed like Show was taking it as a foregone conclusion that he'd win, and there wasn't a whole lot behind those blows. As such, Cesaro won this round of back and forthy, and....

    And holy shit, he just lifted Big Show up into a bodyslam position, and then WALKED HIM ALL THE WAY ACROSS THE RING to chuck him over the top rope. Sweet fancy Moses that guy is strong.

    Show looks up, almost in shock, but finally offers the Handshake of Respect to Cesaro. Cesaro accepts it, and the crowd is going nuts as he celebrates with the Andre Trophy.

    And just because he's not had enough of lifting heavy things, Cesaro hoists the huge-ass trophy up over his head as the celebration concludes. Yikes. And just like that, you have a WrestleMania Moment, my friends.

    Welcome to main event relevency, Antonio Cesaro. Try to do better with it than Ziggler did last year! [And hey, just for the record, my prediction for this match WAS ACCURATE! I said "somebody not on the announced 27-man line-up," and I was right, even if it wasn't Rusev.]

  • JOHN CENA BEATS BRAY WYATT. And we get our second Bonus Entrance of the night, as the Wyatts have the guy who does their theme there playing live. He and his backing band are all wearing masks and make-up, which makes for a really cool and creepy effect. They've got a great sound mix and alternate arrangement that works well, and is perfectly timed to end when Bray sits down in his rocking chair. Pretty awesome, really. In fact, the match isn't even started, and the crowd gives it a "This is Awesome" chant.

    Cena makes his standard entrance, to healthy boos. Probably about 20/80 cheers to boos. Just for reference.

    The bell rings, and Bray immediately drops to his knees, inviting Cena to take the free shot, daring him to prove him (Bray) right be doing something that only a monster would do. But Cena refuses to attack a defenseless man. Good for him.

    Bray eventually gets to his feet, and the two have a standard lock-up. Cena briefly gains an advantage thanks to strength and power being in his favor, but Bray is still talking and toying with Cena's mind... and he quickly takes over with brawling offense.

    But he also keeps talking, and taunting. And that winds up being a bad idea, as Cena positively snaps about 4 minutes in, cutting a charge by Wyatt off with a clothesline, and then mounting and punching away on Wyatt, even though Wyatt was in the ropes.

    Cena sells his "monster-y-ness" by acting conflicted. And Bray furthers the story by laughing and encouraging Cena's onslaught. They're both delivering physical intensity AND the Broad Gesturing, so as to get the story over, even with the audience located about 7.3 miles away in the upper deck. Good stuff.

    The same basic vibe plays out for a few minutes, until Cena lets himself get distracted by Harper and Rowan. Well, more by Harper. Harper is jawing at Cena (Rowan's just standing there in a sheep mask), and Cena jaws back. Bray is able to take advantage with a nasty sort of slamplex (part body slam, part suplex).

    From there, Bray slows it down with a sleeper, giving him another chance to talk (and for Harper to talk, too). But a sleeper also does something else: it gives the babyface a perfect hold to fire up out of. So Cena does, perking up at the last second, and going on a rally.

    But when Cena calls for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, Wyatt suddenly spring up... well, wait... not up. He bridges up into the Crab Walk position, and stares Cena down from his upside down position. That's the best description I can give, but jesus, you just have to see it. Cena stopped in his tracks, freaked out, and I can't blame him. Creepy as hell.

    Bray takes the offensive again, thanks to Cena being frozen, but starts to have a bit too much fun playing with the partisan crowd. He starts "conducting" them, like an orchestra. That wasted time is enough for Cena to comeback with a few clubbering blows of his own.

    But then Cena goes up top, setting up for the flying legdrop... instead, Wyatt pops up, and catches him out of midair with a spinebuster. Solid. More Wyatt offense, building up to a DDT on the apron. But it only gets a 2.

    More conducting the crowd. So when Wyatt sets up for a superplex, he's wasted enough time that Cena can fight back. Cena sends Bray off the top rope... but instead of following up, he catches a glimpse of Harper and Rowan circling, and jumps off the top rope to the floor, hitting a crossbody on the both of them.

    That was a damned nice move from Cena, but it also gave Bray more than enough time to recover and pounce. Bray took time, trying to set up a move using the steel ring steps, allowing Cena to cut him off with a clothesline. But then Cena went to use the ringsteps himself, and paused. He once again refused to be the "monster" that Bray accused him of being. Cena put the steps down.

    Back in the ring, they engage in a bit more back and forthy, and Cena evne hit the F-U... but Bray kicks out. Cena is surprised, but he's also distracted when Rowan hops up on the apron. Wyatt gets time to recover. Then Cena wastes even more time, as he jumps out of the ring and spears Harper through the ringside barricade.

    But in so doing, he hurt himself. Bray exits the ring, and surveys the carnage... and he grabs Cena, tossing him back into the ring. Wyatt sets up for Sister Abigail, but while hanging upside down, Cena is able to pick the ankle, and cinch in the SSTF. Wyatt panics and gets to the ropes, post haste, for a quick break.

    Cena charges back at him, and Wyatts nails the Running Sister Abigail (last seen against Rey Mysterio)... but it only gets a two-count. Seemingly out of idea, Wyatt exits the ring and grabs a steel chair. But instead of using it, he hands it to a still-prone Cena.

    Cena gets up on his knees, and takes the chair. Bray drops to his knees and dares Cena to use it. Finally, Cena gets a look in his eyes, and charges... but he runs PAST Bray, and takes out Erick Rowan, who had jumped up on the apron.

    Wyatt tries to take advantage by setting Cena up for the Sister Abigail, but Cena powers out after the Kiss and hits a big F-U out of nowhere. One, two, and yep, three.

    Oh well, it's not the finish I wanted to see, but that was a damned fine Sport Entertainment Segment. Actually, it wasn't a bad wrestling match, either. But I'll definitely think about it more for the story side of things, which were wonderfully executed. Because of that, you can say Cena "won" and Bray "lost," but I think the CHARACTERS both scored victories by coming across so strongly and vibrantly. 20 minutes, and damned good.

    After the match, Cena celebrated with any friendly fans he could find (it's not like they were in the majority). Luckily, I know I saw both his mom and his dad at ringside. And a few guys who I have to assume were his brothers. Then he even stole a hug off of Mrs. Miavia.

  • HALL OF FAME INTERLUDE. Howard Finkel hit the ring to introduce all the 2014 inductees to the Hall of Fame. Said inductees came out onto the stage for a quick hi-howdy. Apparently, the fans had enough of Warrior last night (he only spoke for about 17 months), as they didn't really give him much love, but popped pretty big for Razor Ramon (who got his speech cut off early, it seemed).

  • BACKSTAGE: Daniel Bryan is receiving medical attention. Trainers are checking out and re-taping his injured shoulder, but for now, it seems he's still cleared to compete in the main event.

  • BROCK LESNAR PINS THE UNDERTAKER TO END THE STREAK. Standard entrance for Lesnar. Mildly enhanced one for Taker, as he gets some Gregorian chanting and caskets, but nothing too fancy or silly (he uses his magical power to make Casket #22, with Lesnar's name on it, catch fire, but that's it). He's also got a new duster and cowboy hat outfit, which I like way better than the hooded bathrobe he's been wearing lately.

    Taker backs Lesnar up with right hands, allowing Cole to bust out the old chestnut about how Taker is "the best pure striker in the history of WWE," which is how Taker was billed back during his pretending-to-be-a-UFC-fighter phase. But that happy crappy doesn't work as well against a guy who actually WAS a UFC fighter.

    Lesnar counters with an overhead suplex, and pounds away on Taker until he decides to toss Taker out of the ring. Taker does that thing where he lands on  his feet, though, And that spooks Lesnar. Advantage: Taker.

    Undertaker with some punchy-kicky offense, but Lesnar yanks him off the ropes when he tries for Old School. Lesnar in control for a moment or two, until Taker dodges a charge, and Lesnar goes shoulder-first into the ring post. Taker with a series of signature moves, including the apron legdrop and Snake Eyes. But when Undertaker goes for the chokeslam, Lesnar counters, and sends Taker's knee crashing into the turnbuckle.

    Begin heel beatdown, as Lesnar goes to town on the right leg and knee. It's simple. It's basic. But I guess it's also effective. It continues to the point where Taker -- the American Bad-Ass -- has no choice but to roll out of the ring and take a powder, having to lean against the barricade just to hold himself up.

    Lesnar follows him and kicks his ass some more. The announcers finally address the elephant in the room by declaring that -- for the first time ever -- the Undertaker seems mortal.

    Taker gets back in the game after ducking a clothesline on an Irish Whip and tackling Lesnar. Another Snake Eyes stuns Lesnar, and Taker hits the Big Boot, for a two count. And this time, the chokeslam hits! The crowd comes alive, but it only gets a 2.

    Taker decides it's time for the Tombstone, but Lesnar effortlessly flips out and turns it into an F-5 out of nowhere. Taker kicks out at 2. Grumblegrumblegrumble.... that was a missed opportunity. Taker sold the F-5 like a gunshot on Monday. THAT was the proof that Brock could beat Taker. And here, they just pulled the F-5 out of leftfield, and before the fans could even register it or the announcers could tell the tale, Taker had already kicked out. Definitely a lost moment.

    But I digress. The match is still going on.

    Lesnar reached down to grab Taker again after the kickout, and Taker just hooked the arm and locked in the Hell's Gate. Lesnar failed to reach the ropes, but did the power-out where he lifted Taker up using the one arm, and slamming him down. Only a 2 count.

    Lesnar, now confident he was back in control, reached down to grab Taker, and WHOOPSIE! Taker cinches in the Hell's Gate again. But also: Lesnar did the power-out escape again, too.

    This time, Lesnar was more careful when he re-addressed the Undertaker, and was able to grab his arm, and lock in the Kimura lock. Surprisingly fast, almost as if it was instinct/panic, Taker was able to counter, and got behind Lesnar to lock in a Kimura of his own. Lesnar was able to get to the ropes for a break.

    But the damage has been done to Lesnar's arm, and Taker hits the wristlock and steps up top to deliver Old School... but nuh uh! Lesnar yanks Taker down, and this time, Taker lands square on Lesnar's shoulders, and Lesnar hits another F-5. But we get another kick out at 2.

    For the first time, Lesnar registers frustration, and even has a quick confab with Paul Heyman (who has been a complete non-factor in the match so far). Lesnar decides on a German Suplex. Only a two. But now Heyman is engaged, and starts pep talking Lesnar. Lesnar responds by going all stompy-stompy on Undertaker. Taker backs into a corner, but slumps. Brock goes for the mount-and-punch spot, but all of a sudden Taker comes alive, and hoists Lesnar up, and hits the Last Ride powerbomb.

    Only a 2.

    Taker stalks. Lesnar gets to his feet. Tombstone.

    Kick out at 2! [The reaction shot of Heyman is priceless, but let's not linger, now.]

    Both men are exhausted. But Taker does the Zombie Sit-Up. Throat slit. Taker hoists Lesnar up for the Tombstone again. Lesnar shifts his weight for the flip back (as seen on billion times in Taker/Kane matches). But instead of settling for a tombstone of his own, Lesnar deadlifts Taker up onto his shoulder for a THIRD F-5.

    Only a tw...... WAIT WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?!?!?! THAT'S A THREE COUNT!!!!!

    Brock Lesnar pins the Undertaker. Paul Heyman is as stunned as I am, almost in disbelief. And the shots of the fans? Man alive, do you remember WrestleMania 7, when Macho Man and Elizabeth made people cry, and WWE managed to get them all on camera? Well, this is the new one of that, because the looks of absolute shock on people's faces were priceless.

    Heyman finally came to his senses, and started smiling and laughing, and he got in the ring and celebrated with an equally shocked Lesnar. The two of them left the ring, and the fans finally, slowly, remembered to boo. They booed like never before.

    Then Taker was left alone in the ring, slowly getting back to his feet. And the crowd fired up a mighty "Thank you, Taker" chant, and cheered as he made the long lonely walk back up the ramp.

    I don't know what to say. Was it a good match? Meh, I dunno; I was sort of getting ready to be all pundit-y and expert-y by calling it the most formulaic and simplistic of Taker's recent WM matches, but at this moment? Who the hell cares? The final three count is the only thing that matters, here.

    Screens at the SuperDome helpfully displayed "21-1," and the announcers essentially pre-retired Taker by calling it the End of an Era. I don't know if that's really the next step for Taker... but then again, I gave Lesnar a 0.0% chance of winning this match, so I clearly don't know much.

    Man.

    It's not like I'm a clueless jibbering fanboy, who placed more value in the Streak, other than as a prop for Taker's annual comeback. But at the same time, it's not like I'm some goddamned obnoxious Wanker Smarkboy, who doesn't understand why Taker's still pretty awesome and his annual appearances are a big deal. So I really don't know how I feel about the historical ramifications of Taker's loss; I don't have a horse in that race, like some do. I just know that I just got got.

    I did not see that coming. I was not prepared for it. I'm not just surprised by the outcome, I'm sort of surprised at how much I care, and yet, how little I know how to respond.

    Maybe, just maybe, WWE picked the perfect spot. We all convinced ourselves that there was no point beating the Streak, but the flip side of that coin is that there's almost no point DEFENDING the Streak, if nobody believes it's in danger. They could have kept going along this path, and maybe some day, they'd be forced to beat the Streak... instead, Taker picked his spot, and the most legitimate, credible physical threat to ever step into a WWE ring is the one who ended the Streak.

    I guess that's a pretty good deal: Taker didn't "make" somebody tonight, but there was also absolutely no threat that he was diminished by losing to WWE's most credible fighter.
     
    But more than anything: I'm still just mostly numb from shock.
     
  • AJ LEE RETAINS THE WOMEN'S TITLE IN THE DIVA INVITATIONAL 14-WAY MATCH. So there's about 3 minutes of crazy, 14-woman clusterfuckery then women start powdering out, until it's just the two Bellas. At first, the Bellas work together to keep fighting off the infidels, leading up to Stereo Planchas.

    But then, they turn on each other. But not for long... AJ rejoins the fight, and chucks the both of them. Naomi gets back in the ring, and has a quick exchange with the champ. AJ gets the better of it, locking in the Widow's Peak. Naomi taps out -- maybe with a little help from AJ, who grabbed her wrist and MADE her tap -- and AJ retains.

    Color me surprised. Underwhelmed (it was a fairly low-impact 5 minute affair; but maybe it's just that the Taker loss is still weighing on us), but surprised. Good for AJ.

  • BACKSTAGE: Mean Gene Okerlund is set to interview Host Hulk Hogan, but Roddy Piper interrupts, with a fantastically-mustachioed older gentleman. Thanks to Mean Gene, we learn that the gentleman is actually Mr. #1derful Paul Orndorff. Piper launches into a tirade about how he doesn't care about Hogan running his mouth about winning at WrestleMania 1, because Piper didn't get beat in that match. But it bothers Orndorff.

    Orndorff confirms this, asking Hogan "How do you think it makes me feel when, at least once a week, somebody comes up to me and remind me about WrestleMania?" Hogan tries to smooth things over by saying that was 30 years ago, and can't we all be friends? Orndorff thinks this is a good deal, but Piper doesn't want any cheap cop-outs.

    All of a sudden Mr. T materializes, and says if we've got a problem here, he's ready to settle it again, just like 30 years ago. Orndorff doesn't want any trouble, and shakes Hogan's hand, and encourages Piper to let bygones be bygones. T extends HIS hand. And Piper has a crisis of conscience.

    But finally, Piper -- the man who has spent 30 years continuing the Work, and making sure people think he still hates Mr. T -- shook T's hand, and even went in for a hug. Awwwwwww.

    Fun moment.

  • AT RINGSIDE: More legends and Hall of Famers have moved into seats at ringside. Bruno. Dusty. Bret. A bunch more. I wonder if that's just to make sure they all get on TV, or if there's more to it? Now that WWE fooled me with the Taker match, I'm probably just hyper-attenuated to any possible trickery... I'm sure it's nothing.

  • DANIEL BRYAN WINS A TRIPLE THREAT MATCH TO BECOME THE NEW WWE CHAMPION. Champ enters first. And in this case, Orton gets the final Bonus Entrance of the night, as he's got a live band playing him to the ring. Well, "live" is debateable. It's not full-on karaoke, but they're clearly playing to a backing track, and it comes off pretty phony and lame. Then again, I'm one of a small minority of viewers who has been in rock 'n' roll bands and has very specific tastes/requirements when it comes to live music... maybe you thought it was just fine, even if I thought those dudes came off pretty hacky. In which case, good for you: sometimes, ignorance is bliss. I'll sit over here in my salty-vagina world and think those guys were just a bunch of poser douchenozzles.

    Standard entrance for Batista. Standard entrances for Bryan. Boxing-style intros. And the beZll rings to start things at 10:25pm (eastern). On the whole, this has actually been a very well-paced shows, 7-matches-in-4-hours or not. Beats the hell out of last year, where I STILL have the vivid memory of one 20 minute stretch where absolutely nothing of value happened and it was all filler packages and Be-a-Star crap and the like. Nothing like that this year, really.

    Anyway, out of the gate, Bryan tries to come out fist-a-flyin', but immediately, he re-injures his shoulder, and becomes a non-fact. So, whether we like it or not, we're going to have to sit through at least a few minutes of Orton vs. Batista.

    They try to pick up the pace by brawling to the outside, and using some props, including the ring steps and the French Announce Table. [Yes, FRENCH table makes its PPV debut!] Orton gets the better of it, slamming Batista onto the steps. Bryan tries to interject, but gets whipped into the table. He's out for a few more minutes. Back to Batista, who gets backdropped onto the ringside barricade.

    Orton slows things down, including the always-dreaded Garvin Stomp, and other methodical (read: "legargic") offensive. After a minute or two, Bryan comes flying in from off the screen with a missile dropkick. Then YES! Kicks for both men... but when he winds up for the Super Mega YES! Kick, Orton catches him for a head and leg suplex.

    Back to Orton vs. Batista.

    This time, Batista is able to get the better of it after a moment. And once again, Bryan interjects himself out of nowhere, launching into a series of Corner Dropkicks (alternating between Batista and Orton, in opposite corners). Top rope rana for Orton. Only a 2 count. Bryan tries for the same on Batista, but Batista just dumps him out over the top rope to the floor. Ouch.

    Still on the top turnbuckle, Batista gets caught by Orton. Superplex. But it takes a lot out of both men. Bryan materializes again out of nowhere, hitting Batista with the Divebomb Headbutt. Only a 2. Then a YES! Lock for Orton.

    But before Orton is in danger of tapping out, Triple H and Stephanie run out and yank the ref out of the ring. Bryan breaks the hold to jaw with HHH... and Batista strikes. Batisa hits the BatistaBomb, and HHH gestures (Broadly) for a fresh ref... and instead of coming down the ramp, he enters through the crowd: it's Scott Armstrong, HHH's go-to Crooked Ref.

    The delay means Bryan kicks out at 2. After a quick back-and-forthy exchange, Bryan gets the better of it against Batista, and turns his attention to Armstrong. Bryan chucks Armstrong out of the ring, and follows up with a Flying Goat Dive... in so doing, he doesn't just take out Armstrong, but Stephanie, too.

    NOW Hunter is pissed. HHH goes under the ring, and finds Sweet Lady Sledge... but before he can use it, Bryan knocks him off the apron. As Bryan turns back to Batista, the original ref (Mike Chioda) gets back in the ring, and it seems like we might be set for a fair match.
     
    Except, not really. Orton gets back in the ring, and immediately teams up with Batista. The two share some Meaningful Eye Contact, and proceed to team up on Bryan. As HHH and Steph are coralled back to the dressing room by officials and trainers, Orton and Batista start playing with the announce tables. They clear two of the tables, and....

    HOLY SHIT! From the far right announce table, Batista powerbombs Bryan, aiming for the middle table, only for Orton to spring up and snatch Bryan, mid-powerbomb, and RKO him through the middle table. Allow me to repeat myself: HOLY SHIT!

    Bryan is toast, and trainers swarm to him. But Orton landed hard, too. As Bryan's getting put on a stretcher, Batista finally decides there are no friends in a WWE Title Match, and attacks Orton. Orton meets the ring post, and then it's finally back into the ring.

    Crowd's now getting restless, sensing that WWE might really be writing Bryan out, and that Batista or Orton is actually about to win. With Batista pounding away at Orton, the fans officially don't give a shit: they are chanting "DAN YIL BRY YAN!"

    Orton makes a comeback, backdropping Batista out of the ring, and then hitting an apron-to-the-floor version of the Hangman DDT. All of a sudden, you hear the crowd come alive... and it's not for the DDT.

    It's because Bryan has sit up and gotten off the stretcher. Orton sense it, because he knows fans never cheer for him. He catches Bryan, still half-on the stretcher, and drops him with a powerslam. Then he tosses Bryan in the ring and coils.

    But when he moves in for the RKO Bryan hooks the arm and cinches in the YES! Lock. Batista makes the save, stomping Bryan. But when he reaches down to pick Bryan up, Bryan hooks HIS arm, too. Another YES! Lock. Orton makes the save, and tosses Bryan out of the ring.

    Back to Orton vs. Batista. Orton gets the better of it. Coils. Goes for the RKO, but Batista shoves him off and tries to catch him with a spear on the rebound... Orton leapfrogs the Spear, and Batista nails Bryan. D'oh.

    RKO OUT OF NOWHERE~!

    But Batista kicks out at 2.

    Orton does what Orton does when the RKO doesn't work: he looks frustrated, and then sets up for the Punt. But as soon as he starts his run-up, Bryan nails him with the Flying Knee. Before you can blink, Batista chucks Bryan out of the ring and tries to steal the pinfall.

    But Orton kicks out at 2.

    Batista follows up with the BatistaBomb... but before he can cover, there's ANOTHER Flying Knee out of nowhere! And this time, Bryan doesn't go for the cover; he goes immediately for the YES! Lock. The double whammy does the trick: Batista taps out. Daniel Bryan is the new WWE Champion.

    YES!

    I'm not sure it was as fantastically athletic a match as it could have been. It was more about all the wild twists and turns and drama... it got maybe a bit too much with the way they used so many close-ups and tight shots to create false drama for Bryan's "out of nowhere" attacks, but then again, we have to remember that I've got a long standing gripe against camera angles that create "privileged information," instead of recreating the live experience and what the live audience sees. No other live sport does anything as contrived or annoying, dammit. Then again, I'm picky like that, and you probably don't share that. So it's not a gripe I'm going to dwell on, as the drama and entertainment value were still off the charts in this case.

    There are confetti and fireworks as Bryan celebrates with the two belts. There are 70,000 or so fans chanting YES! [Unless I missed it during a piss-break, I don't think they even wasted time with a segment to announce the official attendence. But I'm guessing it was "a lot."] A blonde woman and a little girl are allowed into the ring to celebrate (so I assume they're some relation, though it's not immediately announced; maybe a sister and a niece?).

    As much utter shock and confusion as there was for the Taker loss, there is just as much sheer joy on the fans' faces now. Ain't nothing like it: 100% fun, and a ton of smiles on faces. THAT is a happy ending.

So ends the show. And it's one that'll be remembered for some time to come. I'm not sure if there were any matches that would so much as crack the WrestleMania Top 10, in the hard-fought, well-worked Steamboat/Savage, TLC Match kind of way... but now more than ever, WWE books for Moments moreso than matches, and they hit the ball out of the park in that regard.

Maybe we got zero Top 10 Matches tonight, but I think a case could be made that WWE just delivered two Top 5 WM Moments. It's almost like they took Jake Roberts' speech from last night to heart... Jake said that the wrestling business, at the end of the day, is about "fucking with people's emotions." His swear word, not mine!

WWE did a masterful job of that with WM30. Lesnar's win over Taker was a complete blindside job, causing me to go from Jaded Fan Whot Totally Knew What Was Gonna Happen into a blithering ass who was having trouble comprehending what he just saw. And the main event? I may have been expecting Bryan's win, but they did an amazing job putting so many hurdles in his way that you didn't know HOW he was going to win until he did.

Great stuff. Time will tell if booking for "moments" results in the same kind of rewatchability that great matches provide, but right now, in the afterglow of WrestleMania 30, I'm having a hard time coming up with any complaints.

Hopefully, you had the same sort of experience tonight, what with the $9.95 price tag, and all. If not, hopefully I've done a solid job painting the word picture for you. As always, you know how you can thank me; and as always, I thank you for your support in helping keep OO's bills paid.

See you again in about 24 hours with the RAW Recap! I have a feeling there will be a few more big moments and surprises to talk about then...

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE PPV RECAP ARCHIVES


  
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Bonding Exercises
 
RAW RECAP: The New Guy Blows It
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Night of Champions 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: 18 Seconds? NO! NO! NO!
 
RAW RECAP: The Show Must Go On
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Boot Gets the Boot
 
RAW RECAP: Heyman Lands an Expansion Franchise
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Losing is the new Winning
 
RAW RECAP: Say My Name
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Deja Vu All Over Again
 
RAW RECAP: Dignity Before Gold?
 
PPV RECAP: SummerSlam 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Backfired!
 
RAW RECAP: Bigger IS Better
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Hitting with Two Strikes
 
RAW RECAP: Heel, or Tweener?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Destiny Do-Over
 
RAW RECAP: CM Punk is Not a Fan of Dwayne
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: The Returnening
 
RAW RECAP: Countdown to 1000
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Money in the Bank 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Friday Night ZackDown
 
RAW RECAP: Closure's a Bitch
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: In-BRO-pendence Day
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Gets What Crazy Wants
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Five Surprising MitB Deposits
 
RAW RECAP: Weeeellll, It's a Big MitB
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: #striketwo
 
RAW RECAP: Johnny B. Gone
 
PPV RECAP: WWE No Way Out 2012
 
RAW RECAP: Crazy Go Nuts
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: You're Welcome
 
RAW RECAP: Be a Star, My Ass
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Needs More Kane?
 
RAW RECAP: You Can't See Him
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Lady Power
 
RAW RECAP: Big Johnny Still in Charge
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Over the Limit 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: One Gullible Fella
 
RAW RECAP: Anvil, or Red Herring?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Everybody Hates Berto
 
RAW RECAP: Look Who's Back
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Care to go Best of Five?
 
RAW RECAP: An Ace Up His Sleeve
 
PPV RECAP: WWE Extreme Rules 2012
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Sh-Sh-Sheamus and the nOObs
 
RAW RECAP: Edge, the Motivational Speaker?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: AJ is Angry, Jilted
 
RAW RECAP: Maybe Cena DOES Suck?
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: No! No! No!
 
RAW RECAP: Brock's a Jerk
 
SMACKDOWN RECAP: Back with a Bang
 
RAW RECAP: Yes! Yes! Yes!
 
PPV RECAP: WWE WrestleMania 28

 

 

 


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