Thursday, March 26, 2015

WWE Wrestlemania 30

Yesterday I continued my annual tradition of watching the previous year's Wrestlemania shortly before the new one, which means today I will be covering the Wrestlemania 30 BluRay. As usual, the BluRay was bundled with the 2014 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony that transpired the night before the biggest wrestling extravaganza of the year, so let us start off with that. If you do not recall, last year's Hall of Fame ceremony was quite a doozy.

When I attended the 2012 Hall of Fame ceremony, every speaker had a visible countdown timer for their speech to help keep the ceremony moving so everyone can get to sleep early for the big event the next day. If I remember correctly, the inductors all had five minute time limits, and each succeeding inductee had time limits from five to 20 minutes depending when they were slotted on the show. Apparently, someone forgot to bring the timer last year, and everyone paid a price. Lita was the first inductee, and she gave a great speech, but she meticulously went over her entire career in great detail and went nearly a half hour when she finally wrapped up. Jake Roberts and Scott Hall were both notorious for having reputations as wrestlers looking like they were about to croak, but looked great here in their inductions thanks to getting rehab help from Diamond Dallas Page. Jake gave a very memorable speech talking about overcoming his demons, and Hall kept his short and sweet because of Mr. T before him.

Mr. T was the year's celebrity inductee, who played a big role in the first two Wrestlemanias, yet in his near half hour long speech he spoke nothing about Wrestlemania, and instead talked about his mother for nearly the entire half hour before Kane mercifully interrupted and cut him off. It was ludicrous for how long he went before WWE finally interjected. I do not blame WWE having a little fun at T's expense by making a celebratory Mother's Day montage video on RAW a few weeks later. When rewatching the Hall of Fame ceremony yesterday, I had no choice but to skip Mr. T's induction, no way was I going to endure that again. Ultimate Warrior was the headlining inductee, ending his 14 year long exile from the company. He gave a very memorable speech considering all his behind-the-scenes controversies he was part of and I was all ears when he touched on topics like getting fired after Summerslam '91 and the DVD WWE put out trashing his career in 2005. I am happy he made peace with the company and was able to appear here before his untimely death just three days later. For more on Warrior, check out the entry I wrote last year when WWE Network had Warrior Week honoring him with exclusive specials shortly after his death.

Now onto the Wrestlemania 30 event itself. The preshow featured a fatal four way elimination match for the tag team titles that is included on the BluRay as a bonus. It was between Curtis Axel & Ryback, Jack Swagger & Cesaro, The Matodores and champions, The Usos. If I remember right this was supposed to be on the actual PPV, but like in years past WWE overbooked the show, so unfortunately this got bumped to the preshow. As a result, the match got plenty of time and went nearly 20 minutes, and it had a great buildup of bigger spots and entertaining moments, and the crowd was really into it throughout which saw the Usos retaining in the end. It may not be a high honor, but this bout will go down and easily usurp all the other prior battle royals and lumberjack matches as the best preshow Wrestlemania match of all time.

Wrestlemania 30 proper kicked off with special guest host Hulk Hogan hilariously getting tripped up in his promo, and getting the show's venue the Superdome, mixed up with the Silverdome that the Hulkster competed in at Wrestlemania 3. Steve Austin and The Rock were not advertised, but they joined Hogan in the opening exchange, and gave him some good natured grief about Hogan being rusty on the microphone. It was a fun opening segment, with a unique dynamic of these three legends that got the crowd psyched up.

Triple H and Daniel Bryan had the first true match on the card, with the winner getting the third spot in the main event triple threat WWE Title match. The two put on an epic PPV caliber main event, with Triple H impressively showing no ring rust from his long absence in the ring, and being able to keep up with Bryan's quick style, until Bryan hit him with a running high knee to guarantee himself in the main event later that night. These two put on a clinic and it easily gets my nod as match of the show.

Next up the Shield put on a beating and destroyed their opposition that night that consisted of legendary tag team, The New Age Outlaws and Kane in under three minutes. The Shield literally got about 95% of the offense. I was cracking up at how fast this match went and felt no remorse for the Outlaws or Kane getting buried. Following this was the first ever Andre the Giant memorial battle royal. It featured nearly 30 superstars. Stars in this match no longer with the company include Alberto Del Rio, Rey Mysterio, Brodus Clay, Drew McIntyre, Jinder Mahal, Yoshi Tatsu, Justin Gabriel and The Great Khali. This match was better than it had any right to be, and once the bodies started clearing out we got a lot of good moments with spectacular eliminations, and near-eliminations, and a fantastic finish with Cesaro showing off his brute strength by eliminating Big Show to win the battle royal.

Next was Bray Wyatt against John Cena back when Wyatt was trying to get Cena to unleash his inner 'monster' and make him a villain. I remember this feud having a lot of good build up, and this match featured some good moments with Wyatt doing his trademark spider crawl for the first time ever here to a good reaction, and awesome crowd participation to mess with Cena's head. Cena got the feel good win here with an Attitude Adjustment in the first of three matches on PPV. Too bad this was the only good match of the feud because the rest were overbooked with too many silly gimmicks that led to a decline in the then-emerging Bray Wyatt character.

Brock Lesnar challenged Undertaker's Wrestlemania undefeated streak. Compared to the last decade worth of Undertaker matches at Wrestlemania, this one was a letdown as these two were never really able to shift into high gear. Considering how WWE always touts 'Taker as the 'Best Striker' in the company, I originally envisioned a fast paced back and forth MMA-esque brawl between the two, but it was not meant to be as it looked apparent that the Undertaker was on cruise control as he went through his usual arsenal of moves. This could be because it was rumored 'Taker got an early concussion seconds into the match from a Brock suplex, or it could be that after all these years that Undertaker's age is finally catching up to him. What people will remember from this match is the shocker of a moment when Lesnar pinned 'Taker after a third F5 to end Undertaker's undefeated streak at 21-1. Props to WWE for showing the shocked looks of several faces from the crowd that will forever go down in infamy.

WWE gave the Divas division the honor of following a shocked and dismayed crowd as AJ Lee defended her Divas Title against the entire Divas division in the Vickie Guerrero Invitational. All 15 to 20 or so Divas in this match at least got in one quick spot after another, all while the ring quickly filled up with fallen hair extensions. It took several minutes of nonstop Diva spots to finally get a smidge of a reaction from this depleted crowd as AJ Lee rose up against insurmountable odds to successfully defend her title.

During the main event entrances I was mildly amused that Randy Orton got the honors at Wrestlemania this year as the guy to have the band who recorded his entrance theme to play him out live. I say this because Randy is notoriously outspoken for trashing most of his entrance themes in years past. Batista and Orton laid a beating on Bryan in most of the match, and right when Bryan looked poised to win, there was some masterfully timed interference from Hunter and Stephanie, topped off with the Authority bringing in long forgotten crooked ref Brad Armstrong in a dramatic near fall. Daniel Bryan got the best of the Authority however, and overcame both Orton and Batista to walk out of Wrestlemania as WWE Champion in a wonderful moment to close the show. I will forever remember this moment of Bryan's brief run as champion, and not the godawful booked feud he had with Kane following this before he was prematurely forced to vacate the title due to a neck injury that kept him out of action for the rest of 2014.

Other random notes from this show is WWE had some terrific video packages hyping up the Daniel Bryan/Triple H and Undertaker/Brock matches. They do take up a bit more time, but do a great job of recapping feuds in music video form and got me amped up for the matches. At this point in 2014, JBL has been back in the mix on commentary for about a year now, and I am surprised at how awful he is and how much he takes away from matches by trying to crack random, awful jokes and going off on random tangents in undercard matches. JBL used to be great on commentary in his first run of it on Smackdown with Cole right after he retired from mid-2006 until the end of 2007. Fast forward a year later and he is very grating, and near intolerable to listen to, especially now with Booker T at the announce table on RAW instead of Lawler.

One last thing, on the Hall of Fame disc there is another hour worth of extras with one-on-one interviews with Batista and Randy Orton, a tribute to Andre the Giant, a countdown of the 30 greatest Wrestlemania moments and a few other video packages hyping up other featured matches. Daniel Bryan/Triple H and yes, the preshow Tag Title elimination match get my nods as best matches of the show going out of your way to watch. The main event triple threat is still pretty good, and worth seeing for Bryan's big moment, and Cena/Wyatt is an entertaining affair with just the right amount of tomfoolery incorporated before the rest of the feud went overboard with it. It had just enough big moments and matches to make it a standout Wrestlemania, especially compared to the surprising lackluster build to this Sunday's Wrestlemania. I was never less hyped for a Wrestlemania main event in quite some time, and WWE has been doing a horrendous job at booking the rest of the card too, but we will get into that next year. Thanks for tolerating my yearly Wrestlemania blog, and enjoy Wrestlemania 31 this Sunday!

Past Wrestling Blogs

Best of WCW Monday Nitro Volume 2
Biggest Knuckleheads
Bobby The Brain Heenan
For All Mankind
Goldberg: The Ultimate Collection
Ladies and Gentlemen My Name is Paul Heyman
Legends of Mid South Wrestling
Macho Man: The Randy Savage Story
OMG Vol 2: Top 50 Incidents in WCW History
RoH Supercard of Honor V
RoH Supercard of Honor VI
RoH Supercard of Honor VII
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
Superstar Collection: Zach Ryder
Warrior Week on WWE Network
Wrestlemania 3: Championship Edition
Wrestlemania 28
Wrestlemania 29
The Wrestler (2008)
Wrestling Road Diaries Too

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