The place: Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida with 78, 363 in attendance.
This meant one thing: Wrestlemania 28 was finally here.
Deemed Professional Wrestling’s “Game 7,” this yearly WWE spectacle faced high expectations, but there was no reason why fans wouldn’t go home happy.
A hot crowd and three quality main events (all potential Match of the Year Candidates), are what people will remember Wrestlemania 28 for.
The rest of the show? Not quite the same, but forgivable enough the way those matches delivered.
World Heavyweight Championship- Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan (w/AJ): Bryan was way over with the crowd, who held “YES!” signs and loudly chanted the same, but he got heat with an AJ kiss. For a bout that got bumped to last year’s dark match, this was finally their time to shine at Wrestlemania. Less than 20 seconds and a Brogue kick later, it was over. Sheamus was new champion. Nothing wrong with the result, but that greatly hurt the buildup and wasted what could’ve been a great opener.
Kane vs. Randy Orton: Kane won with a Chokeslam from the second rope. Lots of big moves, but for a feud thrown together last minute, it certainly showed.
Intercontinental Championship- Cody Rhodes vs. The Big Show: In a quest to further embarrass Show on the grandest stage of all, Rhodes came up empty. Show fought his way to victory and knocked Rhodes out in the process. Nice moment for Show, but hopefully Rhodes gets back the title at Extreme Rules, as he helped to make the IC title important and vice versa.
Beth Phoenix/Eve vs. Kelly Kelly/Maria Menounos: Bruised ribs and all, Menounos did her best out there and rolled up Beth for the pin. A couple of nice spots, but a celebrity shouldn’t ever pin the Divas champion.
Hell in a Cell- Undertaker vs. Triple H w/Shawn Michaels as Special Guest Referee: Pure storytelling at its best. In a classy move by WWE, Jim Ross joined the announce team and added some depth. Both men threw everything at each other. They utilized the HIAC environment as well as the steel steps. Triple H had his sledgehammer and Pedigree. Taker had his Hell’s Gates submission, Tombstone Piledriver and Chokeslam. Michaels tried to stay impartial, but got thrown in the mix several times. There were great near-falls that had fans second-guess whether the streak would actually end. It was a human chess battle. Every move counted. Triple H stood, bloodied against the turnbuckles, just barely able to stand. He performed a crotch-crop and screamed, “F*** You!” at Taker, who had Hunter’s sledgehammer. Taker replied with a shot from the sledgehammer, a throat-slash hand gesture and a Tombstone Piledriver. Michaels’ hand came down for three. The streak lives. Phenomenal sportsmanship followed as all three men shared a hug and helped each other to the back. Simply awesome.
Team Johnny (David Otunga, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, The Miz, Drew McIntyre) vs. Team Teddy (Santino Marella, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, The Great Khali, Booker T and Zack Ryder): In this year’s “get them on the card” match, this had a tough act to follow. Everybody tried hard, but the crowd wasn’t into it. Ryder had Miz down and went for his “Woo Woo Woo” routine and Eve joined in. The referee tried to remove Eve from the ring. This distraction did enough to set Miz up for his Skull Crushing Finale and just like that, Laurinaitis was now in control of both Raw and Smackdown. A last-minute addition, Miz turned out to be the difference maker. Him and Laurinaitis engaged in a hilarious post-match celebration. Eve looked to comfort Ryder, but instead kicked him below the belt. She smirked as she strutted up the ramp in true “Hoeski” fashion.
WWE Championship- CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho: With a newly added stipulation via Laurinaitis, Punk would relinquish the belt to Jericho in the event of a DQ. Jericho taunted Punk and reminded him of all the snarky family comments. Punk almost gave in to temptation, but held his composure. Things started slow, but cooked up the last 10-15 minutes, as both men entered fierce technical battle. They cleverly countered each other’s moves and mixed in some cool spots (one in particular-Jericho turned an attempted Punk Frankensteiner into a Walls of Jericho). It all came down to the Anaconda Vice. Jericho tried his best to kick his way out. It worked before, but Punk moved where Jericho couldn’t connect his kicks and after another 20 seconds, Jericho tapped. Punk retained. Great match, but Jericho desperately needed this. His return has been rather anticlimactic, but if he’s on his way out soon, it wouldn’t make sense for Punk to drop the belt now.
The Rock vs. John Cena: It all came down to this match. Rock was back and needed to establish that he was in fact the best. Cena needed to back up everything he’s said and overcome odds again. Rock was the crowd favorite, but that didn’t faze Cena. Both men rose to the occasion and took each other to the limit in a true Wrestlemania main event. Nearly 30 minutes in, Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment on Rock and at the last second, Rock kicked out. Cena emulated Rock’s People’s Elbow and Rock quickly countered with a Rock Bottom and cleanly pinned Cena. This match truly lived up to the hype and came through big time.
Final Thoughts: The past few years, the main events at Mania have been letdowns, but this year was different. Triple H/Undertaker, Punk/Jericho and Rock/Cena made this show. The Mania aftermath should be great, as Cena will have to face that he’s no longer invincible and Jericho needs to gain back heat after a clean loss to Punk. Hopefully, Daniel Bryan and Sheamus get that chance to finally face each other. Johnny Ace will run both shows as well.