By Graham "GSM" Matthews
WWE Tag Team Cesaro and Tyson Kidd def. The Usos, The New Day, and Los Matadores in a Fatal 4-Way Match (Kickoff Show)
As I've expressed before, I couldn't have cared less about this match going in, but it was everything I expected it to be: a total spot-fest. That's not to say it was a bad thing, though, as it was a very fun opener and everyone involved worked hard. Special kudos to Jimmy Uso for working most of the match as Jey was seemingly out injured for most of it. Natalya, El Torito and definitely Naomi definitely added to it, never allowing a dull moment to settle in. Cesaro and Kidd were the right winners here, but honestly, they along with The Usos deserved to be on the main card. The tag team title match shouldn't be relegated to the Kickoff show every year.
Big Show Won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (Kickoff Show)
Much like last year, this matchup was a complete mess. Originally, 20 Superstars were announced to compete in the match, so why bother adding ten extra bums (though I did enjoy seeing Alex Riley for a brief bit)? To its credit, there were a few more stories told than last year, specifically with The Miz and Damien Mizdow. Their angle has been beautifully built since it started in August and Mizdow finally breaking away from Miz and eliminating him here made for a glorious moment. I guess WWE felt it was too predictable that Mizdow would win, so they went with Big Show instead. I get it: Big Show is this generation's Andre the Giant, but everyone he eliminated seemed to be leading to something special, and it never did. Him taking out Hideo Itami was especially annoying as I felt he should have had a better showing (better him than Finn Balor or Adrian Neville, right?). You really mean to tell me that there wasn't another heel who could have used this rub instead? If nothing else, I'm glad WWE got this out of the way on the Kickoff show, so bumping it from the main card was the best thing they could have possibly done.
Daniel Bryan def. Bad News Barrett, Dolph Ziggler, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, Stardust and R-Truth in a Ladder Match to Win the Intercontinental Championship
They did it. Despite how atrocious the build to this match was at times leading up to this point, all seven competitors managed to pull off an excellent opener and a great Ladder match. Everyone was given their respective moment to shine, but the one spot that stood out to me the most by the end of the match was Ambrose's sick bump to the outside through a ladder. It looked absolutely horrific, but in a good way. He was used to taking that kind of punishment during his days on the independent scene, so he was the perfect man for the job. I had a very bad (no pun intended) feeling that Barrett was going to retain here, and as much as I like him, a new champion had to be crowned. It was a big milestone for Bryan to have won the Intercontinental title and I truly hope they follow through on him making that title mean something.
Randy Orton def. Seth Rollins
We all had a feeling this was going to end up stealing the show, and we weren't wrong to think that. These two ripped it up in the ring and had perhaps by favorite wrestling match of the night. The action only intensified down the stretch, and the trading of the finishers was well done. What can possibly be said about Orton reversing the Curb Stomp into an RKO out of nowhere? It was up there for one of the most amazing things I have ever seen take place inside the squared circle. It was a fantastic finish to an exceptional matchup from two great workers. Rollins lost nothing from losing here and it would be good storyline consistency if Orton can claim that his win here earns him a future shot at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship now that Rollins is champion.
Triple H def. Sting
If you were expecting an in-ring classic from these guys, you were likely sorely disappointed, but for what this was, I loved every second of it and so did the live crowd. On the plus side, it was nice to not to see Sting wrestle in a t-shirt, and he looked better in the ring than I thought he would. Sure, all the interference from D-Generation X and nWo was completely random and felt like an overbooked mess (just like WCW!), but without it, I don't know if the match would have been as good. I've been saying for weeks that they shouldn't have been focusing on the WWE vs. WCW narrative, but all of this made sense of it. I was never made aware that this was a No Disqualification match, so it confused it me when Shawn Michaels interfered and nothing happened. The only minor complaint I had about the match was Triple H going over. It doesn't kill Sting's momentum at all, but it really all depends what's next for him. The handshake afterward made people forget about the loss, but this was still a spectacle if I had ever seen one.
AJ Lee and Paige def. The Bella Twins
I was hoping for something more from the ladies, but for the time they were allotted, they worked a decent match. Yes, it's a four hour show (six if you include the two hour Kickoff show) and I, too, find it hard to believe they couldn't shave a few minutes off another segment so the women could go longer, but it is what it is. The babyfaces going over was the result I expected and I figure it leads to AJ and/or Paige challenging for the Divas Championship at the next pay-perv-iew.
John Cena def. Rusev to Win the United States Championship
If wasn't already obvious Cena was winning here, the pre-match video packages made that quite clear for you. That said, Rusev's entrance was excellent and it truly made him feel like a star. I just fear that this was the pinnacle of his career and that it will be all downhill for him going forward. Can you honestly blame me for thinking that after Cena's failed feud with Bray Wyatt last year? The match was solid, but I found I enjoyed their encounter from Fastlane slightly more (probably because the finish of that match was a bit more in doubt). My issue wasn't with Cena winning but rather how it came about. Rusev wasn't made to look strong in defeat at all. With one Attitude Adjustment to put Rusev down, the finish left something to be desired for this viewer. Cena as United States Champion will be interesting to say the least, but fingers crossed Rusev gets something beneficial out of this feud as well.
The Rock and Ronda Rousey Confronted The Authority
The Authority's promo felt extremely out of place at first, but at least it ended up being worthwhile. The Rock's interruption was a pleasant surprise as it was nice to see him on the grand stage for the fifth consecutive year. His back-and-forth with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon seemed like a segment that could have been done on Raw, but Rousey's involvement was a memorable moment. I don't know how they were able to make that happen and if a mixed tag team match in a WWE ring would even be possible, but it's an intriguing idea to entertain. I do agree with the majority that it dragged on for a little longer than it should have, but it was worth it.
The Undertaker def. Bray Wyatt
This was as late in the show that these guys could go, so it was cool to see them make due of the sunlight and have elaborate entrances. Wyatt's was better in my opinion, but Undertaker looked to be in the best shape we've seen him in in years. The match was everything I figured it was going to be: a good match with some nice psychology thrown in. Both of them had superb performances with solid efforts. Unlike Rusev, Wyatt looked impressive in defeat, but they should have a plan for him going forward if they want to capitalize off of this.
Seth Rollins def. Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar in a Triple Threat Match to Win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
I wasn't sure what to think of the early goings of Lesnar vs. Reigns. The way it was set up, it appeared Lesnar was going to brutally decimate Reigns only for Reigns to battle back and win in typical Cena fashion, so I prepared for the worst. In retrospect, they told a great story with Lesnar dishing out the pain and Reigns taking the punishment. Reigns kicking out of three F5s was a bit excessive, but I understand what they were trying to go for. While I expected Rollins to cash in Money in the Bank sooner rather than later, I assumed it would be after the match and not during, which has never been done before. The entire execution was amazing with Rollins taking out Lesnar and Reigns to become the first man in history to cash in the contract at WrestleMania. The brilliant booking in it all is that Lesnar remains unpinned since breaking the streak last year, so whoever ultimately beats him will get a major rub. I was shocked to see WWE come to their senses and realize that Reigns just isn't ready yet. I also I'd never see WWE close out the event with a heel standing tall, but alas, it happened, making for an epic ending to an extraordinary evening.
The card on paper looked to be either very good or very bad; there was never a chance it was going to be anything in between. Thankfully, the show ultimately fell in the former category, far exceeding the expectations I set for it. Personally, there wasn't much about the event if anything at all. As noted, I could have done without the Cena win and how it was handled, but there's no denying that was still a moment in time. Moreover than anything else, the show gave me the sense that WWE has come to realize that the future is now. I've heard it a million times before from and they may be serious about it this time, but this was a great first step. Whether it's on the level of WrestleMania 30 from the year prior is questionable, but it was most definitely a spectacular installment that left me wanting to find out what's next on Monday's Raw.
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