After a two-month buildup, Wrestlemania 31 is in the books and it\’s time to look forward to Wrestlemania 32 and what next year\’s Road to Wrestlemania might look like. After a buildup that left a lot of WWE fans unhappy, confused and wanting more than they were getting, WWE creative needed to deliver on \’Mania this year and they did that and more.
The night started at 5 p.m. EST with the Wrestlemania Kickoff Show, which featured two matches- a Fatal Four Way Tag Team Title match between The New Day, Los Matadores, The Usos and- the champs- Tyson Kidd and Cesaro:
This was a match that, leading into \’Mania, had a lot of people scratching their heads- why give The New Day a tag title shot? They\’re far from over with the fans and get booed pretty heavily- and not in a heel way. However, they did more than deliver at \’Mania and silenced a lot of their haters.
Individually, they\’re three of the most talented superstars on the roster but they haven\’t meshed well together as a team for one reason or another. One of the Usos got hurt early, leaving just one so it was pretty clear they weren\’t gonna win it. What made this match so good was that you genuinely didn\’t know who was gonna come out on top. Numerous times it looked like The New Day, Los Matadores or Kidd/Cesaro would come out on top- regardless of what you might have thought going into it. In the end, Kidd/Cesaro came out on top.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal: This one was a chance for WWE to basically get pretty much every main roster superstar on the show who would normally be on a PPV, Raw or SmackDown but didn\’t have the airtime for \’Mania because of the card. It came down to The Miz, Damian Mizdow and The Big Show. After Damian Mizdow finally turned on The Miz, it was down to him and Show and, for a minute, it looked like Mizdow could even eliminate Big Show. Reality kicked in, though and Big Show threw him over the top rope to win the match. That\’s two years in a row Big Show has made it to the final two and he actually won it this year. Great way to end the Kickoff Show and lead into the actual show.
Intercontinental Title Ladder Match: Bad News Barrett (C) vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Stardust vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth:
Ladder Matches and Wrestlemania go hand-in-hand. We can thank Shawn Michaels and Razor Ramon for starting that tradition. From that moment all the way up to the present with Money In The Bank- which originated at \’Mania, it\’s a perfect fit and this year was no exception.
This match had it all- guys getting powerbomed through ladders and shattering them to suplexes off the top of the ladder. It came down to Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler at the top of the ladder in the midst of an epic headbutting battle that went on longer than you\’d expect. After finally ridding himself of Ziggler, Bryan reached up and unhooked the belt and became the new IC Champ. This match stole the show from the very beginning.
After Bryan being stripped of his WWE World Heavyweight Title last year without missing much time, it was rewarding for everyone to see him get his Wrestlemania Moment again and to see him win a Championship he can rightfully defend.
Seth Rolins vs. Randy Orton:
This was your typical match- nothing too over-the-top here. It was more of a comedown match than anything. Rolins kicked out of an RKO while Orton kicked out of a Curb Stomp, which may be the first time anyone\’s done that. The match came to a close when Rollins went for a second Curb Stomp but Orton countered by pushing Rollins in the air in mid-Curb Stomp- and caught him with another RKO for the win- definitely one of the most memorable \’Mania moments in recent memory.
Sting vs. Triple H:
A match 14 years in the making. A lot of fans were hoping for Sting-Undertaker but Sting-HHH was just as rewarding and the match didn\’t disappoint. From the onset of the match with the ring entrances this was a battle of the wrestling gods. Sting entered with a tribe of masked drummers playing his theme while HHH entered with a more elaborate and dramatic entrance than last year. The stage was filled with Terminators- that\’s right- Terminators. He finally made it to the ring and the match began.
It was honestly one of the slower matches of the night and didn\’t really pick up until D-Generation X came to the ring to help HHH, who was falling victim to the Scorpion Deathlock. Not long after that, the nWo came down to the ring and we not only had a WWE-WCW battle in HHH and Sting but we finally had DX vs. the nWo. The match ended with Sting breaking HHH\’s sledgehamer in half with his bat but HHH nailing him from the behind with the remnants of the hammer and pinning him for the win. In the end, it really felt like WWE was trying to put the final nail in the WCW coffin and did so with Sting since he didn\’t come with the other WCW stars in 2001. Great match overall.
The Bella Twins vs. AJ Lee & Paige:
WWE is notorious for not giving the Divas division any time on TV. Matches are usually two or three minutes long. However, lately, they\’ve been given a substantial amount of time on TV and it\’s showing. The matches are better lately and \’Mania was no different. When given a good amount of time, the Divas can put on just as good of a show- if not better- than the men. Not that this match was the best on the show- it wasn\’t- but it was a good match and any time you have Paige and AJ Lee in a ring together, you\’re gonna get magic.
United States Title: Rusev (C) vs. John Cena:
This is a safe storyline for John Cena. It\’s no secret Cena is WWE\’s guy, however he\’s been getting booed out of the building lately. More fans boo Cena than those who cheer him. If your top guy is getting booed like crazy, you have to do something. What better way to get him over with the fans again than to put him in a storyline with the most anti-American guy on the roster in Rusev. Cena almost had to win this match and the title if he\’s gonna have any shot at redeeming himself with the fans and that\’s exactly what he did. It wasn\’t a bad match- in fact, it was a very well-worked match. It had it\’s ups and downs and backs-and-forths. After almost a year of going undefeated, there\’s no shame in Rusev going down for the first time on a stage as big as \’Mania. In the end, both guys came out on a good end and this program could go on for another month or so- the possibilities are many.
In between matches there was a great segment where HHH and Stephanie McMahon stood in the ring and bragged about how they\’re behind all the success of the WWE, Wrestlemania and the WWE Network- to which The Rock made a surprise appearance to interrupt and put them in their place. After telling Steph that it was funny she said the Johnson and Maivia families\’ success is all thanks to the McMahons because she wouldn\’t be successful without Vince McMahon\’s “Johnson,” she kicked him out of the ring and screamed at him to leave. As he began to walk away, he turned around and brought UFC Women\’s Champion Ronda Rousey into the ring for a confrontation that was one of the greatest moments in Wrestlemania history.
Bray Wyatt vs The Undertaker:
After both men hit the ring after bone chilling entrances, the match begun. Everyone was eager to see how Taker would look after his concussion-ridden match against Lesnar last year and he looked great- at the start. He came out strong and fast- much better than last year. However, halfway through the match it was like he completely ran out of steam. It didn\’t help that Wyatt sprained his ankle before the show even started. Considering what each Superstar was working through, this was a great match. Taker kicked out of the Sister Abigail while Wyatt kicked out of a chokeslam and a Tombstone Piledriver. Every vintage Taker move was used during the match and he took the win after second Tombstone to Wyatt. If this was Taker\’s last match, it was a hell of a way to go out. After last year\’s heartbreaking loss to Lesnar, Taker needed to win this one to go out on a good note and that\’s exactly what happened. Wrestlemania just isn\’t Wrestlemania if Undertaker loses.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns:
Reigns has been WWE\’s guy- or at least Vince McMahon\’s guy for months now. This was clear when he won the Royal Rumble Match- as planned. It was also clear at that time that fans did not want to see Reigns win the WWE World Heavyweight Title. This was even clearer during the match at \’Mania. Every time he got even a little bit of momentum the crowd began booing- it wasn\’t often though, because Lesnar completely manhandled him for most of the match. The turning point was toward the end, when Reigns threw Lesnar headfirst into the ring post, busting his head wide open. From that point on, Lesnar just wasn\’t the same and was definitely frazzled a bit. Just when Lesnar started to get some offensive back, though Seth Rollins\’ music hit and out came Mr. Money In The Bank to cash in his briefcase. He hit Lesnar with two Curb Stomps and hit Reigns with one as well then covered him to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship in a curve ball that not many thought would actually happen.
In the end, WWE overcame all doubters and booked this year\’s Wrestlemania perfectly. Not one match had an outcome that should have gone the other way. They also found a way to make everyone look like a winner in the main event and not many came away looking weak or looking bad. This was WWE booking at its best and the possibilities following Wrestlemania 31 are endless and things could really get good following this year\’s Wrestlemania.