WWE WrestleMania 31
Santa Clara, California 3/29/15
1.) WWE Tag Team Titles - Fatal Four-Way Tag Team Match - Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (with Natalya) vs. The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston with Xavier Woods) vs. Los Matadores (with El Torito) vs. The Usos (with Naomi): ***½
I feel bad for these four teams. It always seems like, in the last few years, that the WWE Tag Team Title Match always gets pushed to the pre-show. Well, everyone involved in this one certainly proved that they deserved to be on the PPV itself, as this match was pretty good. All four teams brought it here, and everyone got a chance to shine, including the people who were in the corners of each respective team (Natalya, Xavier Woods, El Torito, & Naomi, respectively). One important note, is that Jey Uso was taken out very early in the match. He had a shoulder injury coming into this match, and I guess this was a way to write him off TV (he’d be out of action for several months). Still, this was a really fun match. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd would eventually pick up the victory to retain their WWE Tag Team Titles.
2.) Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal: **3/4
After making it’s debut at last year’s WrestleMania, the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal is back. Obviously, there’s no need to go into great detail, but I’ll give a few highlights. Curtis Axel (who was still doing his “AxelMania” gimmick, and was still touting that he was never eliminated from the Royal Rumble Match) gets eliminated by the whole rest of the field right at the start. Hideo Itami, the former KENTA, made his debut at WrestleMania, earning this spot in the battle royal after winning a NXT Tournament held during WWE Axxess. In the end, the match came down to The Big Show, The Miz, and Damien Mizdow, and we see the breakup of the latter two, as Mizdow tosses out The Miz!! Unfortunately, Mizdow was not able to overcome The Big Show, who threw out Mizdow to win the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
1.) WWE Intercontinental Title - Ladder Match - Bad News Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Luke Harper vs. R-Truth vs. Stardust: ****1/4
So the story behind our opening the contest is that people kept taking the Intercontinental Title from Bad News Barrett. By “take”, I don’t mean they won the belt, and we saw multiple title changes. I mean that all of these men kept stealing the physical belt from one another, like a hot potato. It was such an odd storyline. Despite that issue, it has led us to this Ladder Match which, given all the names involved, should be pretty great, and that’s exactly how it turned out. This was an awesome Ladder Match. It was non-stop action right from the opening bell, and it was a lot of fun to watch. Everyone got a chance to shine here, and we saw some pretty crazy moments, including Luke Harper powerbombing Dean Ambrose through a ladder on the outside! Eventually, Daniel Bryan was able to fend off Dolph Ziggler (via a series of headbutts) to capture his first Intercontinental Title!! While this was a great moment for him, this would sadly be his last WrestleMania, as he would be officially retired just one year later.
2.) Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (with J & J Security): ****1/4
So after Randy Orton returned at Fastlane, going after Seth Rollins, it seemed like their feud had officially kicked off. However, Orton, for some reason, pretended to be still part of The Authority, before turning on Seth Rollins again. Another example of a match that, going into it, had a pretty bad build, but ended up delivering. This match was actually really great! As a big fan of ROH, it was really cool to see a former ROH World Champion get a big singles match at WrestleMania, and I think Rollins worked really well with Orton here. Some very nice back & forth action here. Of course, the ultimate highlight of this one was Randy Orton countering a Curb Stomp attempt from Seth Rollins by tossing him up in the air and catching him with an RKO. Incredible finish, and definitely a WrestleMania Moment.
3.) No DQ Match - Sting vs. Triple H: ***1/4
Sting’s entrance included a big oriental percussion band (those are best words that I would use to describe it), who were all in Sting face paint. Meanwhile, Triple H gets a massive Terminator-inspired entrance, complete with actual lifesize Terminators, and an appearance from Arnold Schwarzenegger himself. So look, given Sting’s age, we knew this would feature some smoke & mirrors, and boy did we ever. At one point, Sting had Triple H in the Scorpion Death Lock, but then DX (X-Pac, Road Dogg, & Billy Gunn) ran out to aid Triple H. Soon after, the n.W.o. (Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, & Scott Hall) walked out and starting brawling with DX!! Shawn Michaels then comes out of nowhere and goes after Sting!! The match eventually came to an end when Triple H used part of his sledgehammer (which Sting had broken in half earlier) on Sting, which allowed him to get the win. For what it was, I thought this was totally fine. Also, on a personal note, this is probably the closest we’re ever going to get to seeing DX vs. The New World Order, which has been my username on various forums (It’s also my PSN username). The one that annoyed me during this match, as I’m sure it annoyed a lot of people, is that JBL (who is basically Vince McMahon’s voice/surrogate on commentary) kept pushing this as the final chapter of the WWE vs. WCW war, which is a ludicrous thing to say, since WWE definitely beat WCW in 2001 when they bought the company?!?!
Anyway, Triple H & Sting did end up shaking hands at the end of the match.
4.) AJ Lee & Paige vs. The Bella Twins: **1/4
So the story here is that Paige needed someone to help her fight off The Bella Twins, and she found backup in the form of the returning AJ Lee! Nothing really much to say here. A pretty standard women’s tag team match. In the end, AJ Lee would get Nikki Bella, the WWE Diva’s Champion, to tapout out to the Black Widow for the victory. This would be the last WrestleMania for AJ Lee, as she would leave the company following RAW the next night.
Before the next match, we get a brief ceremony on the entrance stage honoring the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2015. This included “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Kevin Nash, Arnold Schwarzenegger (induced into the Celebrity Wing), Rikishi, Tatsumi Fujinami, Alundra Blayze, Larry Zbysko, The Bushwhackers, and Connor “The Crusher” Michalek (the first recipient of the Warrior Award).
5.) WWE United States Title - Rusev (with Lana) vs. John Cena: ***½
Normally, John Cena gets a big entrance for WrestleMania, and while he did get a special intro (a video package talking about America), Rusev totally upstaged him here. Lana came out flanked by “Russian Soldiers”, while Rusev actually came out in a TANK!!! Easily one of the best WrestleMania entrances EVER. As far as this match goes, I thought it was really good, but I’d put it just behind their match from Fastlane. Some solid stuff from both guys here. We also saw some new things from Cena, which included his now infamous Springboard Stunner. Towards the end of the match, Lana got on the apron and tried to distract Cena, but it backfired, as Rusev ended up accidentally colliding with Lana, which led to Cena hitting The Attitude Adjustment for the win and the United States Title!! Again, I thought the match was pretty good, but I wasn’t exactly a big fan of that finish.
Afterwords, Cena celebrates with the United States Title while Rusev berates Lana on the outside.
Before the next match, The Authority (Triple H & Stephanie McMahon) come out for an in-ring segment. They announce the WrestleMania attendance (a new attendance record for Levi Stadium) as being 76,976. They gloat about Triple H’s victory over Sting earlier in the show, but then The Rock interrupts them! They have a verbal back & forth (as you would expect) which leads to Stephanie slapping The Rock. She says that The Rock wouldn’t dare hit a woman, which leads to The Rock picking out UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion (and his close friend) Ronda Rousey, who was sitting in the front row. Stephanie tries to make nice with Ronda, but to no avail. She says that this is her ring. In response, Rousey, who the crowd is going crazy for, takes the mic, and says that every ring she steps into belongs to her. The Rock & Triple H then began to brawl! Rousey tossed Triple H, and Stephanie went to slap her, but Rousey caught her and teased putting her in an armbar before she bails from the ring. The Rock & Ronda Rousey stand stall. An interesting segment, to say the least. It was pretty cool to see Ronda Rousey in a WWE ring. Sadly, in hindsight, this hasn’t led to anything (yet).
6.) Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker: **¾
Wyatt is flanked by an army of scarecrows during his entrance. For The Undertaker, this is his first appearance since losing to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania XXX. I thought this match was relatively solid. It was nowhere near the best match on the card, but it was still fine for what it was. The Undertaker looked like he time travelled back to 2004, as he’s got the shorter hair (he’s no longer bald) and is wearing black pants instead of tights. The crowd wasn’t really that invested until the final minutes of the match. In the end, The Undertaker put Bray Wyatt away with the Tombstone Piledriver to secure the win.
7.) WWE World Heavyweight Title - Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns [vs. Seth Rollins]: ****½
Roman Reigns earned this title shot after winning the Royal Rumble Match in January. Meanwhile, Brock Lesnar has been WWE World Heavyweight Champion since SummerSlam 2014, when he decimated John Cena. The first 90% of this match was actually pretty great. Lesnar pretty much dominated early on, throwing Reigns around with German Suplexes and F5’s. This is actually where Lesnar first uttered the phase “Suplex City Bitch!”, which has become synonymous with him since then. Reigns was then able to mount a comeback, and actually busted Lesnar open. Reigns kept fighting and fighting, but Lesnar would not quit. Then the match completely changed when Seth Rollins ran out, cashing in his Money In The Bank Contract, thus turning the Main Event into a Triple Threat Match!!! There was a really cool sequence here at the end, and Rollins would emerge victorious, pinning Roman Reigns to steal the WWE World Heavyweight Title!! I would have loved to have seen the Lesnar/Reigns singles match finish, as it could have been even better if it had finished between the two of them. That being said, I really liked the Seth Rollins cash-in. Him pinning Roman Reigns here was very important, as Brock Lesnar didn’t take the fall, meaning he still has yet to be beaten since ending The Streak, and also has a claim to the WWE World Heavyweight Title, as he wasn’t pinned. A very exciting Main Event, to say the least!
Rollins celebrates on the entrance stage with the WWE World Heavyweight Title to close the show.
All of people really weren’t hyped up for this show coming into it, and that had a lot to do with the build. However, when it was all said & done, WrestleMania 31 ended up being a really strong show. Now some, at the time this show took place, called it the “greatest WrestleMania’s ever!”. Why I would certainly disagree with that, this show will certainly be in that upper-tier of WrestleMania’s. A lot of that had to do with the match quality. Despite some lackluster storylines heading into the show, the majority of the matches ended up delivering in a big way. Even the worst matches on the show really weren’t even bad matches. The Pre-Show had some entertaining matches. The Intercontinental Title Ladder Match & Orton/Rollins were both fantastic. Sting/Triple H was fine, but will be remembered more for the spectacle and interference than the match itself. While some people were down on Cena/Rusev, I still thought it was really solid. The appearances by The Rock & Ronda Rousey were a real surprise. The Main Event exceeded a lot of people’s expectations, and ended on a shocking note, and for the second WrestleMania in a row, a former ROH World Champion closed out the show as the new WWE World Heavyweight Champion. On the whole, this ended up being a very strong WrestleMania.