The first half of our review takes a look at the kick off show, Intercontinental Ladder match and the first two rival matches.
US Title – Prediction: Kalisto
The kick off shows starts with the US Title match of The Big Guy against Lucha Lucha Kalisto. Its saying something when the company takes one of their five titles and sticks it before the actual event starts – in front of a very small crowd. I don’t know if they have any idea how to progress the title following Cena’s open challenge storyline, but it all seems very… meh.
A Short match in which Ryback repeatedly referred to how much larger he was than the champ ended with a decent spot putting the Lucha Dragon over. There’s a reason this match never made the Mania card, and that’s because no one really cared for it.
Total Divas v B.A.D & Blonde – Prediction: Total Divas
Next up, in full “Reality era” fashion, we saw the cast of Total Divas upset team B.A.D & Blonde. In a time where we have some of the greatest female wrestlers of all time, this event seemed kind of like an unnecessary step in the wrong direction.
Several outcomes were possible, the favourite being Lana getting the pin over Brie, but the whole match seemed unplanned and somewhat scrappy. Lana finally made it into the ring to “wrestle”, whereas the hostility between Eva Marie and her co-stars never bloomedinto fruition, which led to the whole event seeming rather pointless.
Winner: Total Divas
The Usos v Dudley Boyz – Prediction: The Usos
The end of this rivalry couldn’t come sooner for most fans. The Usos – whose fall from grace has been spectacular – managed to upset the nine-time champs with an array of super kicks following a fairly bog-standard matchup. However, in what must surely be a bow out at the grandest stage of them all, the men from Dudleyville looked for one more table spot – finding it when the twins double splashed the veterans through them.
Surely the management were expecting a bigger pop for the stunt, but the crowd simply didn’t care. Hopefully, the rivalry is dead. Forever.
Winner: The Usos
IC Title – Prediction: Sami Zayn
To kick off the Granddaddy of them all, a like-for-like repeat of last year’s ladder match – which saw Daniel Bryan to another Wrestlemania moment. The booking for this one seemed to happen very quickly for what should have been an elimination fatal 4-way- something we haven’t seen in a long while.
A fantastic start to the show saw some crazy spots (as well as some incredible botches), culminating in the former Internet Champion picking up the white belt on his Mania debut. Sin Cara appeared to have broken himself whilst crashing though Stardust and a ladder, Ryder hit a 15-foot Elbro Drop, and KO looked to have done some serious damage when Zayn threw him onto a dormant ladder.
The largest pop, of course, came when the title was retrieved by The Broski. He was clearly overcome with joy and had an emotional hug with his father was the perfect way to kick off the 32nd installment of the wrestling Super Bowl.
Winner: Zach Ryder
Jericho v AJ Styles – AJ
A match whom no one would have imagined a month ago saw the “Ayatollah of Rock ‘n’ Rolla” code-break the Phenomenal One right out of the building – much to the disdain of indie fans around the world. Maybe if it sees a farewell to Jericho, fans may be able to see past the result and applaud a remarkable career.
A fairly technical battle saw Jericho once again kick out of the Styles Clash as well as reverse the Phenomenal Forearm, not allowing Styles to build any momentum. I have to question why AJ is now the only wrestler whose finisher is less devastating than his signature – this is no way to build a character, and the quicker he moves onto a new feud the better.
Winner: Chris Jericho
New Day v League of Nations – Prediction: New Day
I have to say two things about this match: Firstly, NEW DAY ROCKS! If someone had told me twelve months ago that the tag champs would be entering in a giant box of cereal, I would have quit wrestling for good. However, the team which has made my top 3 stables of all time, entered in a style only they could. I love this team.
Secondly, this was billed as a handicap 4-on-3 encounter. So why would WWE change it last minute to make Barrett a by-stander once again? Its infuriating to see what has happened to his career, but that’s a matter for another time…
The match itself was everything we’ve come to expect from a New Day affair, complete with unicorn stampede, dancing and interference. The “Lads” picked up the victory, but it was after the match that the fireworks began.
Barrett, mouthing off as only he can, claimed that the League were unstoppable. This led to one of the largest series of pops in Mania history. The crowd sounded like a bag of kernels in a microwaves on full power. First, Mr. Wrestlemania himself appeared. Next, the King of Hardcore. Lastly, the Texas Rattlesnake. The crowd were going crazy. And to top it all off, Austin dancing with the New Day may very well be one of my favourite Mania moments.
Winner: League of Nations