Torch Flashbacks KELLER'S WM28 FLASHBACK - 1 yr. ago (04-01-12): Rock vs. Cena I, Taker vs. Triple H, Punk vs. Jericho
Apr 1, 2013 - 10:51:32 AM
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By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
KELLER'S WWE WRESTLEMANIA 28 TAKE
APRIL 1, 2012
LIVE ON PAY-PER-VIEW
-Lilian Garcia did a great job with the singing of "America the Beautiful."
-A video package aired on the event with the "Once in a lifetime theme."
-Michael Cole introduced the show as cameras panned the stadium. He said a "record crowd was expected," but people were still filing into the arena. The last rows of the stadium were empty. Cole acknowledged the pilots who flew over the stadium during the introductory ceremony.
1 -- SHEAMUS pinned DANIEL BRYAN to capture the World Hvt Title in 4 seconds.
-This ended instantly with Sheamus giving Bryan a Brogue Kick as soon as Bryan got his good luck kiss from A.J. and turned around as the bell rang. Disappointing, obviously, that in a four hour show they couldn't give Bryan and Sheamus a chance to have a real match since they could have delivered a good one. It's like a practical joke that one of the greatest wrestlers of this generation with this body of work was relegated to having a four second first WrestleMania match. He'll get paid either way, and he's the type of heel fans enjoy seeing humiliated, so it's not a total loss.
-Then they went to a long backstage segment with Team Johnny with John Laurinaitis telling the team that they were ready to create a WrestleMania moment.
-A segment aired hyping that WWE is giving away 100 triples to WrestleMania 28 at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey next year with hotel accommodations in New York City.
2 -- KANE pinned RANDY ORTON (*1/2)
-The still-empty seats do take a little bit away from the big event feel of the show, although six or seven of the top ten trends on Twitter during this match were related to this show, so that makes up for a little. Just a little. The lighting isn't great, either. It feels like dusk and the crowd in the first 20 rows is pretty darkened. The seats are filling in, though, as every minute passes.
-We got a chinlock from Kane early. And then another a minute later. Then a minute later Kane went to another chinlock. Seriously. It was chinlock, two or three moves, chinlock, two or three moves, and then another chinlock. Ugh. Things picked up from there to a more expected pace between these two. Orton caught Kane coming off the top rope with a dropkick. Orton then charged at Kane, but Kane chokeslammed him for a near fall. A minute later Kane finished Orton with a second rope chokeslam. That'll teach Orton to publicly say mandatory systematic time off for wrestlers in WWE is seeming like a better idea all the time. I'm just guessing, but his push has been different ever since he said that a few months back.
-A skit aired with Mick Foley and Santino and the host of Deadliest Catch. Both Mr. Socko and The Cobra dug into the crab legs. Ron Simmons walked in behind them and said, "Damn!"
3 -- THE BIG SHOW pinned CODY RHODES to capture the Intercontinental Title
-Cole said Show is only 3-8 at WrestleManias and is the biggest choke artist in WrestleMania history.
-The weight Big Show has put on since his svelte return to WWE is sad because it's slowing him down and making his less relevant at a time when WWE could use his star power and stature for a meaningful top feud.
-Those palm trees have to be driving people nuts. WWE is going to get a lot of heat from fans for that. I know they had a structure to build, but "see-through" scaffolding makes a lot more sense than those palm tree trunk style facades. It's actually alarmingly stupid that they went that direction with the staging.
-Show shed tears after KO'ing Cody with his punch and then capturing the IC Title. He solid it like it was his first title ever, but at least it makes sense as a big "WrestleMania Moment" for him even though he's won many world titles before.
4 -- MARIA MENUNOS & KELLY KELLY beat BETH PHOENIX & EVE
-Kelly hit a flip splash type move off the top rope for a near fall. Phoenix went for a Glam Slam, but Kelly reversed it into a bulldog.
-Maria pinned Phoenix after running her into Eve on the ring apron and then rolling her up. No surprise that the celebrity got the pin. Cole made a pun-er-ific comment saying it was an "Xtra special victory" for Maria.
-Matt Striker interviewed Shawn Michaels backstage. He said the match is the end of an era and something will come to an end - it's either the end of The Undertaker or the end of The Game. He said facing Undertaker ended his career and now he holds the power in his hand to end an era. He held his hand up and looked down at it like he was cradling a super-duper fragile and cute one hour old kitten.
-Justin Roberts announced a record crowd at the stadium of 78,363. Cole listed all of the big events and concerts that have been held there, and said WWE set the all-time attendance record.
-Jim Ross walked out next, sporting goatee. Cole said, "I guess it wouldn't be WrestleMania without Jim Ross." Ross and Lawler hugged after a brief handshake with an uncomfortable looking Cole. Three cheers for Ross being out to call this one! WrestleMania begins… now.
5 -- TRIPLE H vs. UNDERTAKER -- Hell in a Cell
-Interesting time to put this match. They're clearly setting up the big tag match as the novelty to bring the crowd down either right after this one or right after Punk-Jericho. I do like the idea of the WWE Title match being second to last or last rather than placing it before the Hell in a Cell. Not that you can't justify HIAC with the Taker's Streak as the final match on this show, either, but the later the WWE Title match is, the more prestigious a message it sends.
-Triple H lived up to his rep of having an elaborate ring entrance set. It was just him and no special outfit, but he walked through this tunnel in the shape of a medieval demon with glowing red eyes with green smoke filling the tunnel.
-The crowd oohed and ached and even gasped when Taker unveiled his shaved head. Lawler said he began cutting his hair every day until Triple H accepted his challenge. His head is actually shaved with a mohawk style rise in the middle.
-Taker's got the biggest gut I've ever seen on him. I wonder how much weight he gained before he started his path to try to get into "WrestleMania shape." He's been through a lot physically and he still looked like Undertaker. He's no Big Show or anything, but definitely in the worst shape of his career in terms of physical appearance.
-The Hell in a Cell structure looked pretty awesome being lowered from the canopy.
-Loud "Under-taker" chants early. No doubt who the crowd is for.
-At ringside Taker gave Michaels a little shove in the chest to make space for himself to go after Hunter.
-Triple H set up a Pedigree on the base of the ring steps inside the ring. Taker backdropped out of it. A minute later Triple H gave Taker a spinebuster on the base of the steps. When Triple H moved in, though, Taker slipped on Hell's Gate. Hunter lifted Taker and then slammed him hard to the mat for a near fall.
-Taker was bleeding a little from a cut on his forehead at this point. Nothing nasty or gory, but some blood.
-Triple H slid a chair into the ring and then bashed Taker across his back. He scored a very near fall. When he swung a chair at Taker again, Michaels moved in for some reason and yelled "Come on!" Hunter, also bleeding from his forehead, went to ringside and threw another chair into the ring. As Michaels bent over to check on Taker and ask how he was doing, Hunter yelled, "End it now Shawn, or else I will." He then brought his sledgehammer into the ring. Michaels stepped up to Hunter, who told Shawn he is ending it one way or the other. That gave Taker time to recover a bit.
-Michaels walked over to Taker and said, "I'm ringing the bell. Let me ring the bell." Taker shook his head no. Taker jabbed the sledgehammer at him, then scored what Ross called "the nearest near fall ever." When Hunter wound up to swing it at Taker, Michaels yanked it away from him and threw it to ringside. Hunter yelled at Michaels, "End it!"
-Taker put Michaels in Hell's Gate to stop Michaels from calling an end to the match. Hunter moved in and hit Taker with the sledgehammer to break up the hold. Michaels was out.
-Hunter wound up with the sledgehammer, but Taker caught him with Hell's Gate. Referee Charles Robinson ran out and tried to unlock the cage door to replace Michaels.
-Taker hit a chokeslam for a very very near fall (one could say Hunter lifted his shoulder a little late and caused the ref to stop before the natural third slap would have hit the mat). Taker then chokeslammed Robinson, although he barely got him up (a mix of Taker being tired and C-Rob not being a wrestler who knows how to take the move properly).
-Michaels recovered enough to get up. Taker lifted Hunter for the Tombstone as the crowd chanted "This is awesome!" Hunter slipped free and Michaels hit Taker with Sweet Chin Music. Then Hunter made the cover. Cole ruined the near fall by yelling over and over "Streak's over! Streak's over!" There's no way he would have said that if it was actually going to be the finish. Sure enough, Taker kicked out and the crowd went ape sh-- crazy. That was a super-believable near fall, if not for Cole's giveaway (which he was surely ordered to say by Vince McMahon via headsets).
-Both men were slow to get up. Hunter grabbed his sledgehammer. Michaels pushed him away. Hunter threw Michaels out of the ring. Taker then sat up. Hunter fell backwards in fright and shock. Taker then met a charging Hunter with a big boot and several punches. This felt like a Hulk Hogan finish with the Superman comeback. Taker came off the ropes with another big boot off the ropes and then a legdrop. Very Hoganesque at this point, actually. Then he nailed the Tombstone mid-ring. It felt over. Michaels rolled in and counted a near fall. Hunter kicked out and the crowd popped again. Taker was foaming from the mouth as Ross exclaimed, "I cannot believe what I'm seeing!" Michaels sat in the corner, crying with emotions spilling over.
-Taker sat up a little and headbutted a slightly bloodied Triple H. They got to their knees and exchanged punches. Then rose to their feet and exchanged punches. Taker went for another Tombstone, but Hunter slipped free and hit another Pedigree. Michaels ran over and counted another believable near fall. They went to a wide shot of the crowd going nuts again. Michaels looked on like he watching a house fire that he could do nothing about with loved ones inside.
-Taker tried to stand, but slipped to the mat. He crawled over and grabbed a chair. Hunter then tried to pick up the sledgehammer again. Taker stood on the sledgehammer and then hit Hunter with the chair across his back over and over. Michaels sold each one by putting his hands to his face. Michaels looked at Taker pleadingly. Taker soaked up his plea and then did stop for a moment. Taker then jabbed Hunter in the gut and bashed him across the back again. The chair bent over Triple H's back.
-Taker walked around the ring as Hunter tried to stand, gripping the sledgehammer. Taker shook his head no and blocked the sledgehammer. Hunter shoved Taker in the chest. Ross was at his best on commentary here. Hunter crotched chopped toward Hunter. Taker jabbed Hunter in the side of the face with a sledgehammer. Taker stood over Hunter who grabbed at Taker's legs. Taker pulled the strap down and delivered a Tombstone for the win. The Streak lives, as it should.
-Another five-star or near-five-star story told in that ring. A little repetitive with excessive use of chairs and sledgehammer under any other circumstance, but here it really is a setting where it doesn't feel gratuitous because there's no better use of those brutal moves over and over than in this setting with the Streak at stake with Michaels there.
-Ross said it's the end of an era and he wondered if they'd ever see Taker again. Taker's facial expressions and body language suggested this was the end of his career. Michaels walked up to Taker and looked down at him and extended a hand. Taker accepted and Michaels helped him up. Taker leaned into him and rested his head on his shoulder. He appeared to actually start sobbing with emotions. Michaels did, too. Ross said: "It's as if these three men know that they will never be at the same place at the same time in this exact environment. History was made tonight." I wonder if Ross will announce another WrestleMania match, too, or is that part of the era that is ending.
-Taker kneeled and pry blasted. They had aerial view of the pyro above the stadium. Quite the scene. The big screen said 20-0. Eventually Michaels and Taker helped Hunter, who had been lying on his back since the pin. Fans near the front row held up huge signs spelling "End of an Era." Michaels and Taker helped Hunter to the back.
-They went to Rey Mysterio, Eve, and Big Show announcing Slim Jim donating a half million dollars to the USO.
-Clips aired from the Hall of Fame banquet including a clip of Ric Flair speaking about the Four Horsemen at the podium. Also, Rikishi accepting for Yokozuna, Alberto Del Rio accepting for Mil Mascaras, and Mike Tyson giving his acceptance speech and Cena laughing uproariously at his joke. Then Christian introducing Edge and Edge, with his new short haircut, speaking about his career.
-They went to Cole and Lawler at ringside. No more Ross.
-Josh Matthews interviewed Flo Rida, but first Heath Slater tried to take over. Flo Rida had enough of Slater and shoved him hard into the wall.
6 -- TEAM JOHNNY defeated TEAM TEDDY in 11:00.
-This match began two hours and five minutes into the four hour window.
-The women brawled at ringside at 9:00 after most of the men were dumped to the floor. Hornswoggle dove at Henry, but Henry caught him and tossed him to the floor.
-Santino got a hot-tag against The Miz. He hit a top rope headbutt. Santino yanked The Cobra out of his singlet and nailed Miz with it. Ziggler made the save, although he slightly late, but it only counted at a two count. Zach rallied and caught a charging Miz with knees. Eve entered the ring to celebrate with him. Miz then surprised Ryder with his finisher. It's been so long since he's used it in a match, I can't remember the name of it. The Skull Crushing something or other.
-The Raw theme played as Team Johnny celebrated their way to the back. Eve then checked on Ryder inside the ring as Teddy Long tried to deal with his emotions. Eve then kicked Ryder in the nuts and strutted out of the ring, very happy with herself.
-This was a good "come down" match from the draining drama of the Taker vs. Hunter match.
-They showed Alex Rodrigues and Torrie Wilson at ringside. Lawler called them a power couple.
-Cole and Lawler plugged Extreme Rules coming up in four weeks on April 29.
-Highlights aired from WrestleMania weekend events.
-Backstage Laurinaitis approached C.M. Punk and told him he looks a little angry. Laurinaitis said if he loses his temper and gets disqualified, with the new power vested in him by virtue of his team just winning, he is deeming that Punk also loses his title. Punk fumed at that stip being added.
7 -- C.M. PUNK defeated CHRIS JERICHO to capture the WWE Hvt. Title in 22:00. (***3/4)
-The video package on Punk revealed that he's aged about 15 years since he arrived in WWE. The schedule has not been kind to him. He looked like a 25 year old when he arrived and he looks 45 now. Maybe he needs a drink now and then after all.
-Very sweet aerial view of the fireworks show for Punk with the big screen showing his name in huge letters as his ring intro began.
-They showed Andy Garcia in the front row. Lawler said anybody who is anybody is either in Miami or watching the show right now on pay-per-view.
-Punk was aggressive early on as it was, but Jericho took advantage of the Title Changes on a DQ Stip and taunted Punk by yelling, "How's your father?!"
-Jericho went on sustained offense for several minutes. Then Punk took over and scored some near falls. At 11:00 Punk went for a top rope elbow, but Jericho lifted his knees.
-Punk set up a top rope huracanrana. Jericho jumped to the mat and turned it into a full on Walls of Jericho.
-Late in the match Punk went for a GTS, but Jericho turned it into another Walls. Punk withstood the pain and crawled toward the bottom rope. Jericho dragged him back to the middle. Punk surprised him with a small package for a two count; Jericho countered with a two count. Punk then applied the Anaconda Vice. Punk cinched it hard. Jericho tried to knee Punk in the back of the head to break it. Jericho flipped himself free and then went for the Walls again. Punk blocked it and then kicked Jericho in the head a few times. He reapplied the Anaconda Vice and this time it was good for a tapout. I was sure Punk was going to hold on and not let go and get DQ'd and lose the title despite winning the match first, but that didn't happen. Punk walks out with the WWE Title after a clean win.
-They showed the pilots who flew the F15s over the stadium at the start of the show. They were back in the arena.
8 -- JOHN CENA vs. THE ROCK
-Sean "P-Diddy" Combs introduced Machine Gun Kelly, wearing a Cleveland t-shirt. He said Cena is an underdog like him. Cena came out to muted reaction. Some boos for sure, but not off the charts and no loud chants. Cena was back in jean shorts, for whatever that's worth.
-Then Flo Rida performed. He's from Miami, but even this stadium didn't cheer for him before, during, or after. It's such a tough spot for a musical act because it's just a tradition for fans to boo or sit silently for their performances. Music doesn't work well in front of a crowd that paid to see something else because musical taste is so specific and personal.
-Rock got a big pop and a hometown welcome. I wouldn't say the stadium was shaking and in danger of falling down from the noise generated.
-At 10:23 p.m. ET the match began with Rock and Cena in a staredown mid-ring. They locked up and Cena overpowered Rock to the mat. The "Let's Go Cena!" and "Cena Sucks!" chant began, but it actually sounded like the same vocal tone for both. Cena has won over some men. Plus kids and parents are less likely to pay WrestleMania prices to be here. The crowd popped when Rock sent Cena backwards on the second test of strength.
-Rock won a battle of chain wrestling and arm drags into a schoolboy for a near fall. Cena backed into the corner and had a look of surprise on his face. The opening minutes were designed to show Rock "still has it" and brought it.
-Rock seemed a half-step slow running and bouncing off the ropes and when he took an armdrag, he landed on the side of his head. He reached up in pain and looked a little stunned as Cena settled into a side headlock. Rock seemed fine afterward. Cena bailed out to regroup and the crowd booed.
-Cena locked Rock into a bearhug. Lawler said Rock looks like he's in great shape, but returning to this stage, no matter who you are, you're going to have butterflies. Cena knocked Rock to ringside and then dropped him over the ringside barrier. Cena then dropped Rock over the announce table. Back in the ring Cena scored a soft two count.
-Cena gave Rock a belly-to-belly for a two count. Lawler said Cena is looking for "what we call ring rust" because Rock hasn't been in this environment for a long time. At 9:00 Cena went back to a bearhug. Rock sold it, but he was also probably catching his breath. It was a long bearhug, too. Long enough for the crowd to go from boos to silence to a "Cena sucks/Let's Go Cena" battle chant, faint as it was.
-Rock DDT'd out of it for a two count at 11:00. Rock grabbed at his ribs and gasped for breath. Rock then made a big comeback and with a barrage of punches. He ran the ropes, but had to check where they were to get his steps right. He nailed a spinebuster and then played to the crowd. As he played to the crowd to set up the People's Elbow, Cena tripped him and went for an STF. Rock powered out quickly. Cena hit a flying shoulder tackle. And another. Then a side slam. He did the "You can't see me" hand wave and dropped his fist on Rock's face. A "Same old sh--!" broke out. Cena smiled and nodded.
-Cena went for a Attitude Adjustment. Rock avoided it and they ended up collided mid-ring after clothesline attempts from both. Rock won the battle of punches after they returned to their feet, but when Rock mocked the "You can't see me" hand wave, out of nowhere Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment for a near fall that popped the crowd. The crowd really woke up at that point.
-Rock nailed a Rock Bottom for a near fall for a two count at 15:00. The crowd caught their breath.
-Cena next went for a top rope legdrop to the back of Rock's neck for a near fall.
-Rock came back with a sharpshooter mid-ring. Cena crawled over and grabbed the bottom rope to force a break.
-Rock took it to ringside and whipped Cena into the steps at 20:00. He bashed Cena's face into the ringside steps. Back in the ring Cena came back with an STF out of nowhere. He still doesn't apply it like it's the least bit real. Has he ever watched it back and seen all of the light he shows with the soft grip? As Rock crawled toward the bottom rope, Cena dragged Rock back to the center of the ring and reapplied it. A minute later it appeared Rock was near passing out if not passed out. The ref raised his arm and it dropped once. He did it again and it dropped twice. The announcers need to remind fans of this rule as they don't do this all that often anymore. On the third drop, Rock lifted his arm and the crowd popped. Rock then crawled over and grabbed the bottom rope to force a break. "The will to survive!" said Cole.
-Both were slow to get up. The ref got to eight before both stood up. They exchanged punches and kicks. Rock set up a Rock Bottom. Cena countered. Rock countered an AA. Rock then dropped Cena with a spinebuster. This time he went into the People's Elbow routine, which popped the crowd. Cole said this is the way he beat Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin. He dropped the elbow and scored a two count at 26:00.
-Cena small packaged Rock for a near fall. Both were slow to get up. The crowd chanted "Rocky!" and "Cena!" as both men got up. Cena catapulted Rock into the top turnbuckle. Cena countered with a roll-up for a two count. Surprisingly, no "Lesnar" chants stood out at any point in the show.
-Rock shoved Cena off the second rope as he set up a superplex. An exhausted Rock sat on the top turnbuckle, spit, gathered himself, and then looked to the crowd. Lawler said he's digging deep for that something extra. Rock went to the top rope and flew off with a bodyblock. Cena rolled through and powered Rock up and over his head and onto his shoulders. He hit the AA for the very believable two count. The crowd erupted. Cena accused the ref of making a Miami hometown call. Cole: "An exasperated John Cena just said 'oh man!'"
-Cena stood and signaled for the People's Elbow. The crowd booed. He shrugged. Cena mocking executed the People's Elbow wind-up. Rock, though, popped up and hit the Rock Bottom for the three count. The crowd absolutely exploded for that one as Cena rolled to the floor in defeat and the ref raised Rock's arm in the air.
-The way that played out was good. Cena had the huge, impressive AA and appeared to have a very very close, if not controversially close, near fall. Rock then countered Cena who was playing Rock's game with the Rock Bottom for the win. Cole even said he's not sure there weren't two winners. Lawler said the WWE Universe was the winner. Relieved there was no Brock Lesnar interference in the finish. It seemed the perfect "out" for WWE if they wanted to take it, and they didn't - assuming he was truly available. I wonder if the rumors, though, didn't help the butyrate a little. The lack of "Lesnar" chants indicates it wasn't a mega-huge story among the general masses of WWE fans, or if they heard, they didn't want to see it or weren't even thinking of it.
-Lawler: "One mistake cost John Cena everything."
-Rock looked a half-step slow at times, and the first half was a little creaky and clunky. The final ten minutes delivered a WrestleMania Main Event Worthy finish, though.
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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
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He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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