KELLER'S LIVE WWE WRESTLEMANIA 27 RESULTS 4/2: The Rock, Cena vs. Miz, Triple H vs. Taker - PPV coverage
By Wade Keller, PWTorch editor
Stay tuned for four hours of coverage featuring results, commentary, and analysis of the PPV broadcast of the biggest PRO WRESTLING show of the year...
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WWE WRESTLEMANIA 27
APRIL 3, 2011
ATLANTA, GA. AT THE GEORGIA DOME
PPV PREGAME SHOW:
-The same Scott Stanford and Jack Korpela pregame show that looks more like something off of a home shopping channel. I feel they're going to try to sell me a bad laptop or a Dyson vacuum knockoff... We did learn that Korpela (or the guy writing his script) knows how to say "penultimate," but doesn't know what it actually means... We also learned that Alberto Del Rio's nickname is "Mexican Elitist"... Stanford let us know "literally anything goes" in the Triple H vs. Undertaker match and they'll be "pulling out all the stops." Did Booker T write his script?... Korpela said Jerry Lawler has "quite literally done it all" other than step in the ring at WrestleMania. WWE, please hire interns to write this stuff who know how to avoid the misuse of "literally" and recognize bad cliches and don't try to use big words they don't understand... Korpela is so excited, he says "I'm ready to explode." I can't believe he left out of the word "literally!"... That does it for the pregame show...
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Did Sheamus say he wanted to steal the show one time too many? Very sad to hear that one of the matches I was most anticipating on the undercard - Daniel Bryan's WrestleMania debut against Sheamus - was moved to the undercard. I say we all call to ask for a partial refund because WWE couldn't figure out how much they had time for before advertising the completely line-up. Seriously. You'll get at least five bucks back if you claim you're Irish or Daniel Bryan's number one fan...
-After the national anthem, an irreverent video aired introducing The Rock as the host of the event. Then the camera spun around, showing the incredibly packed, top to bottom, Georgia Dome. Rock walked onto the stage in a black zipper jacket with with two write strips down the sleeves and the brahma bull shaped American flag on the back. He walked down the glistening ramp to the ring. Most popular color of posterboard for signs appears to be neon green or white. It's close.
-The Rock milked the moment, but then spoke at 7:08 p.m. and promised the best WrestleMania ever. He asked if the fans could feel it, taste it, or smell it. It was more like, "Suh-muh-ellllllll..... It!" A little "Cena sucks!" chant broke during a Rock pause. Rock said they're making history so they're going to do something special and have some fun. Rock said, "Wrestle!" and the crowd replied "Mania!" The WWE p.r. department is freaking out that The Rock just said "wrestle" three times. They've been working so hard to get everyone in the media to call it "sports entertainment." Rock said he can't wait to find out "what rainbow Fruity Pebble t-shirt" Cena is going to put on tonight.
The Rock said he needed to take a sip of water, but it's not ordinary water. "It's The People's Water!" He then led the crowd by saying "Yabba!" and the fans replied, "Dabba!" Three times. He then went into an intense Rock-style intro in poetic format with a reference to being as call as Andre the Giant. Then he struck the post as the fans began to loudly chant, "Rocky! Rocky!" A man in his 20s will be forever immortalized for jumping up and down excitedly like a little boy on camera with an "All Hail The Rock!" sign. He asked the crowd to get on their feet, but then noted they're already on their feet. He then struck the pose again and led them to say, "If you smell what the Rock is cooking." He then raised his eyebrow.
Expectations were so high, it'd have been tough to meet them, but nothing new from Rock. I'd have liked to see him talk about the actual card and hit some high points for fans to look forward to, some questions that will be answered, some feuds that will be settled. A little generic and Rock-centric, but still, it's The Rock.
-Another video aired introducing the event, then Michael Cole was the lone voice from the broadcast table introducing the show. That's one lingering question answered.
1 -- EDGE (w/Christian) vs. ALBERTO DEL RIO (w/Brodus Clay) - World Hvt. Title match
Wow, they open the show with the World Title match? After bumping the U.S. Title match, it seemed a lock Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes would be a good opener. The big screen showed a huge estate during Del Rio's ring entrance; Cole said that's where he lives in Mexico. Before Edge's ring entrance, they cut away to show Josh Matthews and Jerry Lawler at the announce table. Cole was shown inside his "Tool Box" (which Cole calls his "Cole Mine.") Cole introduced the Spanish ring announcers to his right.
Match begins at 7:24 ET: Matthews noted Edge's arm is taped due to being injured by the Del Rio crossarm breaker. The match spills to the floor at 1:00 when Edge backdropped a charging Del Rio to the floor. Del Rio reversed Edge into the ring barrier seconds later, then slammed his arm into the ringside steps. The announcing trio is giving the backstory on Del Rio, assuming people are watching who don't keep up on TV. Lawler and Cole are already bickering by this point. Lawler said he'll get even later.
At 5:00 Del Rio yanked Edge off the top rope with an armdrag for a near fall. Cole said Christian doesn't belong at ringside. He said Clay is Del Rio's associate, so he belongs in Del Rio's corner. Matthews fired back that Christian is Edge's friend, so he belongs. At 7:00 Del Rio rolled through a bridge attempt and applied the crossarm breaker. Edge reached the bottom rope to force a break.
At ringside a minute later Christian and Clay get into a fight. Clay gives Christian a nasty-looking overhead released slam. A distracted Del Rio falls prey to an Edge roll-up for a two count. Edge then set up a Spear. The crowd cheered as Edge got wide-eyed. Del Rio side-stepped it. Clay yanked Edge's arm into the ringpost as Del Rio's ring announcer distracted the ref. Del Rio applied his crossarm breaker. Matthews and Cole immediately declared Edge would tapout and Del Rio would become champion, which totally gave away it wasn't the finish. Edge countered with a leverage pin attempt and then an inverted sharpshooter style submission. As Clay jumped on the ring apron, Christian met him and then DDT'd him to the floor. Del Rio powered out of Edge's hold, but Edge speared him and scored the pin.
WINNER: Edge in 11:00 to retain the World Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING: **1/2 -- Fine opener. Nothing great or memorable by any measure, but it fulfilled it's purpose well enough. That's also the first surprise finish of the night as everyone figured this was Del Rio's crowning moment since WWE has been so high on pushing him as a top heel out of the gate.
-Edge set the World Title belt on the hood of the supposedly 100K "vintage" Rolls Royce. I think I saw that exact car in an episode of "Charles Angels" in 1978. Then he kicked dents in the side door and dove onto the roof. The announcers reiterrated that the car is worth over 100K. Christian met Edge on the ramp and prevented Del Rio from walking past him. He produced a tire iron to deter Del Rio from trying anything. Is Christian going to hit Edge with the tire iron? Edge scratched the car and then bashed in the side window and added a few more dents. Cole: "This is real mature." Edge stood on the hood and then held up the World Title belt. Del Rio cried from 40 feet away. Cole: "This is outrageous! How is Del Rio going to get home?" When Edge and Christian left, Del Rio walked up to the hood logo, kneeled, and sobbed.
-A commercial aired for "Tough Enough."
-They show us an ariel view of the Georgia Dome as Cole talked about the show being sold out. He said everyone paid to see him tonight. He stood up and shadow boxed and said he's ready for Lawler. Lawler called it a moron. Cole pointed at his Slammy Award trophy and touted his history as a war correspondent. He said it's appropriate that as a broadcast journalist he's standing in the shadow of the CNN Centre.
2 -- CODY RHODES vs. REY MYSTERIO
Cody came out first. Cole said how sorry he feels for the formerly Dashing One. Rye came out dressed as Captain America with "619" on the side of his blue superhero pants and an "M" on the forehead. Cole told Josh to tell everyone all about his outfit. He said Rey is a real-life superhero in a Captain America tribute outfit. When Lawler recapped the Lawler-Rey angle, Cole fired back: "How would you know? You don't even watch Smackdown." There's a zinger. And true.
Match begins at 7:46 ET: Cody fended off an early Rey attack and took Rey down and began working over his knee right away, trying to yank it off. Cody debuted new tights, too. Black with a red waistband, looking more like Underoos than ever. They're both dressed as superheros.
Cody dominated early and hit a delayed vertical superplex. At 5:00 Rey slidekicked Cody at ringside. Cody caught him at ringside, but Rey swung around him and sent him head-first into the ring apron. Rey then hit a top rope seated senton. Rey bridged Cody for a two count. At 8:00 Cody came back and slingshot Rey into the ropes and scored a near fall. Cody removed Rey's knee brace, as he vowed to do on Smackdown on Friday. Cole said he was just trying to make it a fair fight. Rey flipped off the top rope with a moonsault bodypress for a near fall out of nowhere.
Rey yanked off Cody's mask. Cody kicked Rey right afterward and went for a suplex. Rey countered and hit a 619 right to Cody's exposed face. Rey then came off the top rope, but Cody caught him with knees. Rey fired right back with a running roundkick to the head for a near fall. Rey then put on Cody's protective hard plastic mask. Rey flew at him with two headbutts. Cody fired back with a punch and then charged Rey. Rey moved and Cody straddled the middle rope. Rey hit a top rope splash for a two count. The ref counted even though Cody's legs were way under the bottom rope. At ringside Cody picked up Rey's kneebrace and caught Rey as he flew at him through the ropes. He then gave him Crossroads for the win. Cody quickly put the protective mask on his face as if preventing people from seeing his hideous disfigurement. Lawler said he should be embarrassed to show his face after that shameful victory.
WINNER: Rhodes in 9:00.
STAR RATING: **1/2 -- Good enough mid-card match.
-More bickering between Lawler and Cole as Matthews looked on. They threw backstage to Snoop Dogg hanging out with Teddy Long. They aired a sketch where Snoop auditioned for talent on his next tour. William Regal wasn't street enough. Great Khali rapped. Zach Ryder sang. Roddy Piper made a cameo by hitting Ryder from behind with a coconut. That type of thing used to draw money; now it's used for a four second nostalgia chuckle. Chris Masters moved his pec muscles as Yoshi Tatsu sang "We Will Rock You!" Hornswoggle walked out dressed as a gangsta. Long said Hornswoggle can't talk. Snoop asked if that's true. Hornswoggle mumbled. Snoop hung his head in frustration. Long said it's time to leave. Hornswoggle looked sad. Then he looked up, put on sunglasses, and rapped perfectly fine in English as the Bella Twins danced with him. I'm having AWA WrestleRock Rumble flashbacks. (YouTube that if you haven't seen it. It's priceless.)
3 -- THE CORRE (Wade Barrett & Health Slater & Justin Gabriel & Ezekiel Jackson) vs. KANE & BIG SHOW & KOFI KINGSTON & SANTINO
The Corre came out first. Then they bled the Big Show's music right into Kane's. They came out together. Kofi deserved this spot on WrestleMania, certainly more than Vladimir Kozlov. Nice to see the substitution made after the angle at Fan Axxess over the weekend knocked Kozlov out of action.
Match begins at 8:06 ET. It ends at 8:08. A Cobra strike against Slater followed by Big Show's KO punch. Kofi got a dive off the ring apron in onto Zeke and Gabriel. An easy night's work for those eight. Is the show already running long or did Vince McMahon realize nobody was here to watch a long eight-man tag match with The Corre? Slater sold Show's punch brilliantly. They showed it in super slo-mo.
WINNERS: Show & Kane & Santino & Kingston in 2:00.
-Backstage the cameras caught up with Rock chatting up Eve. He said she was "absorbing everything that WrestleMania is." Rock said he can create electrifying moments "just like that." He said whoever turns the corner behind him next, he'll create a WrestleMania moment. Mae Young showed up. Rock hugged her. Rock said she's a Divasaurous. Mae said she wants The People's Strudel. Rock said she should crave that from other people like Moses, for instance. He introduced Mae to Eve, "like your childhood friends, Adam and Eve." Mae said she is the one and only great Mae Young and she'll never get old and kick ass forever. Rock asked Eve to escort Mae to her seat. Mae spanked Rock before leaving. Rock called her inappropriate and frisky. He said, "Could it have been anyone else coming around that corner?" Then in walked "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. They had a tense staredown for ten seconds. Rock asked if Austin was ready to kick some ass. Austin said he always is. Rock said he's ready to bring it. Austin said it was good seeing him. They shook hands, continued a tense stare, and Austin walked away. Are they teasing Austin vs. Rock? Nah. Austin has been pretty clear he's done. But boy did they just plant that seed of hope for some fans who'd like to see that. It was, otherwise
4 -- RANDY ORTON vs. C.M. PUNK
Punk walked out and kneeled on stage. He's come so far since those days I saw him at the St. Paul Armory in front of 120 people wrestling on small indy shows with Mr. (Ken) Anderson.
Match begins at 8:20 ET: Punk kicked the ringside stairs into Orton's leg a minute in, playing into the storyline that Orton's leg is lame. Punk leaped off the top rope with a crossbody for a two count. Punk mocks Orton by limping himself. Orton fought back with punches at 3:00, but Punk retained control. Punk lifted Orton for a Go To Sleep at 5:00, but Orton elbowed free. Punk countered an RKO attack with a kick to Orton's face for a two count.
Punk settled into working methodically on Orton's hurt leg at 7:00. Orton fought back with two clotheslines at 9:00. When Punk spit on a clothesline, Lawler asked, "Was that a tooth?" Orton mounted and pounded Punk. Punk came back with roundkicks and a reverse sidekick. Then he swept him and applied the Anaconda Vice at 11:00. Cole predicted Orton would tap or fade. Instead he rolled to the bottom rope to force a break. He then rammed Orton into an exposed turnbuckle and then DDT'd him off the second rope. He pounded the mat and signaled for the Punt kick. Orton charged at Punk, but his leg gave out. Punk recovered in the corner with a sinister smile. Orton writhed in pain. The ring mic began to pick up what sounded like someone calling a spot. It even seemed like the announcers got nervous for a second. The mic was quickly turned down. Orton went for an RKO, but Punk slipped free. Matthews wondered if that was the last gasp for Orton. Punk leaped off the top rope, but Orton caught him with an RKO for the comeback win.
WINNER: Orton in 15:00.
STAR RATING: ***1/4 - A good mid-card match.
-They cut backstage to Rock chatting with Gene Okerlund who looks as old today to me today as he did to me 30 years ago when he was the face of the AWA TV shows I grew up on. Rock told Mean Gene that he hears John Cena's number one fan is upset with him and he's going to confront him. Okerlund said he just showed up. Rock turned around and there stood Pee Wee Herman. Rock eyed him before the camera panned over to reveal it was him. He said he represents everything Cena stands for. The camera panned over and revealed Pee Wee. The crowd laughed as Pee Wee said, "You can't see me! You can't see me! You can't see me!" Rock said Pee Wee looks ridiculous saying "all of that hot garbage." Rock said he has potential to be a man. "Do you want to be a man on Team Bring It or be a little boy on the Fruit Loop Troop. In walked Gene in a purple Cena hat and t-shirt. Pee Wee said he looks like a little troll. Gene shot back with Pee Wee's catch phrase: "I know you are but what am I?" Pee Wee freaked briefly, then said he wants to be on Team Bring It. Pee Wee did the Rock "la la la la" catch phrase and said, "Can you smell what the Pee is cooking?" Rock welcomed him to Team Bring It. Pee Wee celebrated a little too much for Rock.
-A commercial aired for the WrestleMania DVD.
-Howard Finkle stood mid-ring and introduced the Hall of Fame Class of 2011: Abdullah the Butcher, Sunny, The Road Warriors (represented by Animal and Paul Ellering), "Bullet" Bob Armstrong, and "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan. Then came a long pause as the crowd anticipated the arrival of Shawn Michaels. His music played and he walked out looking choked up as the crowd cheered for him. Matthews plugged the Hall of Fame airing tomorrow night right before Raw. Then after Raw is the debut of "Tough Enough." WWE hopes it does better than the first episode of "The Ultimate Fighter" did on Spike TV on Wednesday starring Brock Lesnar.
-A video package aired on the Michael Cole-Jerry Lawler feud. Then they introduced Booker T as the color commentator taking the place of Lawler next to Matthews. Then came Jim Ross. Matthews said there have been rumors for weeks that he'd join him. "It's great to have the Hall of Famer here!" said Matthews, stressing that he's a Hall of Famer, not an actual modern-day announcer, of course. Cole interrupted Ross's walk to the ring. He walked out wearing a bright orange singlet covered by a hooded sweat shirt with "Team Cole" written on the back of it. He also wore Rick Steiner headgear. Cole said Ross has the second-biggest ego in sports entertainment. He said Ross waddled to the ring, then said it's great he's kept in shape since he took his job. Cole said Lawler has the biggest ego. He said Ross and Lawler are both overrated and over-the-hill. Cole said Lawler has been in "this business about as long as I've been alive, yet tonight is Jerry Lawler's very first WrestleMania." He told the Cole Miners it's also his very first WrestleMania. By that, he means it's the first match on a WrestleMania for both of them. Cole said when this is over Ross will go back to making bad BBQ sauce. He said Lawler will be embarrassed and humiliated and Steve Austin will raise his arm in victory, and then all of the fans will proclaim him the new Mr. WrestleMania.
-Ross said there's nothing like WrestleMania. There's nothing like hearing Ross's voice at WrestleMania. Jack Swagger made his ring entrance. As he did push-ups on the ramp, Stone Cold's glass broke and he rode onto the ramp in a four wheeler. He almost ran over Swagger. Like he came very close to actually running him over. I assume he didn't need to be trained in before the show on how to drive it, so he probably had the timing down perfectly. Austin sped around the ring and scored Cole right back into his Tool Box. Austin trash-talked Cole, then parked the four-wheeler at ringside and entered the ring to run the ropes and give Cole a hand gesture. Austin then climbed the ropes and raised his fists, but not his middle ringer. It's just not the same, but it's also no big deal. Cole flexed his biceps and warmed up by doing squats on his desk, still inside the Tool Box. Jerry Lawler then came out to his old music. I've never heard so much backlash to anything in wrestling than the outrage people expressed toward Lawler being given new music last week. Cole did jumping jacks as Lawler walked out wiht a cool King outfit.
5 -- JERRY "THE KING" LAWLER vs. MICHAEL COLE
Cole stalled and said he wasn't ready yet. Austin got bleeped as he yelled to ringside for them to ring the bell. Lawler beat up Swagger at ringside. Lawler then moved toward Cole. Cole begged off and said he didn't mean what he said and wanted bygones to be bygones. Cole reached out for a handshake through the breathing hole in his Tool Box. "Just forget all of this," Cole said. "Let's go back and do announcing. We'll just be friends." Lawler grabbed his hand, but yanked him head-first into the glass several times. Cole made a cartoon face as his nose got crunched against the glass.
Lawler jumped into the Tool Box and rammed Cole's head into the glass. Why didn't anything think of that before? Booker said this is exactly what he thought would happen. Booker's first cliche: "I thought King would beat him to a pulp." King dragged Cole out to ringside, rammed him into the G.M. podium, and then threw him into the ring. Austin trash-talied Cole as Swagger rammed Lawler into the ring apron. Austin turned and wondered what happened.
Cole slidekicked Lawler as soon as he stood up. Swagger then applied the anklelock as Lawler pounded the mat at ringside. Booker said he thought this was going to be a one on one match. Matthews said, "You did?!?!" Good comeback. Lawler limped his way into the ring. Cole had intentionally ridiculous looking offense. He lost his balance on the second rope, so he dropped to the first rope and splashed Lawler. It led to a two count. Ross said he can't believe the first near fall was earned by Cole. Cole yanked Lawler to mid-ring and worked over his leg. This is already too long. A very loud chant of "Boring! Boring!" broke out. Has Steve Austin ever - and I mean ever- heard that while he stood inside a wrestling ring? Cole dropped a strap and mimicked Lawler. Ross said, "For the sake of the children, don't pull down the other strap." He then applied a half Boston crab. Ross said Lawler submitting would be the ultimate humiliation. Lawler powered out. He got a sympathy pop, but the crowd seemed to think the first few minutes were so awful, it was hard to pop.
Lawler stomped away at Cole. Swagger threw in a white towel and called for the bell. Matthews said it's always over when a manager throws in a towel. Austin picked up the towel, wiped sweat off of his head, and threw it at Swagger. Swagger was upset and pleaded his case in the ring. Austin listened, then gave him a Stone Cold Stunner. Swagger bailed out. Austin may have given him a double middle finger, just off camera. Lawler waited for Cole to stand up. The crowd chanted "Jerry! Jerry!" Ross said, "I am loving this!" Cole poked Austin in the chest for not calling off the match. "Do you know who I am?" Austin shoved Cole right into a Lawler punch. Lawler then punched him two more times. He dropped a fist and then punched away at him on the mat. Lawler then dove off the second rope with a fistdrop. When Lawler made the cover, Austin began to talk. Lawler lifted Cole's shoulders before the three count. Almost nobody does that anymore. Lawler applied the anklelock and Cole immediately frantically tapped out. Austin wasn't sure what he was saying, though, and asked Cole if he gives up. Cole said, "I do! I do!" Austin was bleeped several times during the match including there as he called for the bell.
WINNER: Lawler in 13:00. Sheamus and Daniel Bryan are backstage going, "They cut our match so this could last 13 minutes bell to bell?"
(I speak for wrestling fans everywhere in hoping the second half of the show is better than the first half.)
-Lawler's music played, but then it switched to Austin's music. Lawler and Austin drank beers together. Booker said he can't stand to just watch. He entered the ring and joined Austin. Is Booker going to turn heel here and leave the color commentary role and became a wrestler on Smackdown again? Nope. Instead, he pulled out the Spinarooni. Ross said, "This is something I've never done sober." The crowd applauded the Spinarooni as Austin laughed and embraced Booker. Austin then gave Booker a Stunner and his music replaced Booker's. Like the coconut to the back of the head, the Stunner was once a big move, but it's become a nostalgic crowd-pleasing ha-ha spot. Will the RKO become a ha-ha spot some day? Or the Tombstone? Or the Pedigree? In 2020, who knows?
-The G.M. chime sounded. Matthews stood and read the statement: "And I quote, the referee has blatantly oversepped his authority by physically interfering in this match. Therefore Jerry Lawler has been disqualified and the winner of the match is Michael Cole." The crowd booed as Austin mouthed, "What the f---?" Cole, still on the stage with Swagger recovering, laughed. Matthews explained the result to Lawler, who protested at ringside. Austin threw a beer at the podium. The crowd chanted "bullsh---." Lawler yanked Matthews into the ring. He said, "I'm just the messenger." Austin gave him a Stunner. That leaves Ross and Lawler alone to finish the show, I presume? Or will Booker and Matthews not sell the Stunner for more than five minutes?'
-A video package aired on the WrestleMania Weekend festivities.
-A video packaged aired on Triple H vs. Undertaker.
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6 -- TRIPLE H vs. UNDERTAKER -- No Hold Barred Match
First is Triple H's elaborate ring entrance, including a new song at the start, a bunch of men with shields, and then Triple H's music entrance music. Ross is joined by Lawler for the last three matches. They've positioned the Snooki match as the "come down" match after this so the crowd is fresh for Cena vs. Miz with The Rock. Either that or McMahon's gone completely mad and he's headlining WrestleMania 27 with Snooki. What's good enough for Lawrence Taylor and Bam Bam Bigelow, I suppose. This crowd is a bit upset and restless, so these two broken down vets have a tough task.
Match begins at 9:32 ET: Lawler said the atmosphere was as intense as he's experienced. Triple H goes on early offense. Taker throws Hunter over the top rope and then throws him into the ringside steps. Taker pulls apart the Spanish announce table. Hunter recovered and speared Taker hard into the Cole Mine, which collapses. Taker sells it at first, then no sells it. He looks up at Hunter as if to say, "Now you've made me angry." He stormed back into the ring with punches. Hunter tried for a comeback, but Taker took him down with a clothesline. When Taker went for the Old School top rope walk, Hunter yanked him hard to the mat.
Back to ringside Hunter fought Taker onto the announce desk with Ross and Lawler. Hunter set up a Pedigree, but Undertaker backdropped out of it and Triple H bumped hard onto the ringside mat. Hunter grabbed his left wrist. Ross said he might have "shattered some internal organs." Do internal organs shatter? If so, I'm never leaving the house again. Undertaker leaped over the top rope and charged head-first into Triple H. He didn't clear that top rope by much and he didn't have much room to spare without completely missing Triple H, but it made for two great slo-mo replays from two angles. Hunter lay face down KO'd as Undertaker recovered by limping at ringside, catching his breath, and positioning the ringside steps to his liking.
Hunter tried to counter Undertaker, but Taker turned and headbutted him. He then charged at Hunter and by launching off the table and Hunter turned it into a spinebuster that could have passed for an Undertaker DDT the way both took the bump. Both were slow to get up, selling the "annihilation" on display, as Ross described it. Ross said some day, some time, some way the streak will end, but is this the time? Undertaker chokeslammed Triple H for the first (sort of) believable near fall of the match at 10:00.
Hunter punched Taker in the corner. Taker escaped and gave Hunter a Snake Eyes in the corner. Hunter countered right away with a spinebuster for his first near fall of the match at 11:00. The crowd was pretty much silent as both men lay on the mat catching their breath. Hunter rolled to the floor. Lawler asked what these two could do to each other next. Hunter grabbed a chair. Ross reminded everyone that was legal in this match. Taker kicked the chair into Hunter's face. Taker hit Hunter across the back with the chair. As Taker wound up for another swing, Hunter kicked him in the gut and gave him a Pedigree. The crowd popped for the near fall at 13:00.
Hunter put Undertaker on the top rope, but Taker countered by lifting Taker and giving him a Last Ride for a near fall. The crowd popped for the kickout at 14:00. Taker lifted Hunter and gave him a Tombstone. The crowd stood as Taker covered Hunter, crossed his arms, posed for the hard camera with that facial expression, and the ref counted. Hunter kicked out. Taker looked down in frustration and then rolled over and covered his face with his forearms in disbelief.
Taker stood up and set up a Tombstone on a chair. Hunter kicked out of it and DDT'd Undertaker onto it. The crowd roared and oohhed. They were slow to get up. When they did Hunter hit the Pedigree. Taker kicked out just before three, with the crowd popping again at the near fall. After another slow rise that both milked for all it was worth, Hunter executed another Pedigree, although this one didn't look good. It was another kickout. Ross said, "We have seen history! I cannot believe what I have seen." He said nobody has kicked out of three Pedigrees before. The crowd began alternating chants of "Undertaker / Triple H." Ross wondered what the cumulative effect would be of these major moves on both wrestlers.
Hunter got up first and rose, unsteadily, with a chair in hand at 21:00. He bashed Taker across his back with a chairshot. And a second one. Why not 20 more in a row, since it's No Holds Barred and "literally" anything goes? Hunter hits seven more. That's not 20, but it's a lot. Lawler solemnly said, "That may be it for the Undertaker." Referee Scott Armstrong, with a big assignment here, checked on both wrestlers. Hunter sat and glared at Taker, who finally rolled over to the ropes and tried to lift himself up. Taker finally stood. Triple H charged with a chairshot to the head, although Taker did get a hand or two raised to absorb some of it. It sounded loud and looked devastating. A replay showed that Taker lifted his hand in front of his forehead at the last possible second. It was a clinic on how to do a safer, yet still very convincing chairshot to the head. It's still should be a "once a year" thing to be really effective.
Lawler observed that Taker's "nervous system is not right" as he couldn't get his body to react the way he wanted as he tried to get up. Hunter walked over to him and yelled, "Stay down! Just die! Stay... down... What's wrong with you?" Taker reached up and grabbed Hunter by his throat. Hunter shook his head no and shoved Undertaker backward. Taker hunched over like a defeated MMA fighter on his last legs. Hunter gave him the throat slice gesture. Hunter then gave Undertaker the Tombstone as Ross yelled, "No no no, come on, this is too much!" Hunter crossed his arms over his head and made that Taker face. Taker kicked out. The crowd roared as Ross asked, "What did we just see? What did we just see?" Lawler: "He's not human." Hunter crawled backward to the bottom rope and looked on in disbelief as if he had seen a ghost. Ross: "The spirit, the pride, the will."
Hunter rolled to the floor and decided to reach for the sledgehammer. "Desperate times are obviously upon us," said Ross. Hunter took his time methodically entering the ring. As Taker grasped the ring apron to try to pull himself out of the ring, Hunter dragged him to mid-ring. Hunter looked down and said, "It's time." Taker surprised Hunter with the Hell's Gate submission, a scene torn out of Shane Carwin-Brock Lesnar. Hunter let go of the sledgehammer as Taker had Hunter head buried in his legs. Hunter struggled to free himself. He waved his arm as if to try to tap, but instead he was reaching for his sledgehammer. He lifted the sledgehammer, but then his hand went limp and the sledgehammer fell to the mat. Taker held on tight as the crowd held their breath at 29:00. Hunter mustered a tap. The bell rang. Undertaker released it. Taker's music played. "No Holds Barred, lawlet, lethal," said Ross.
WINNER: Undertaker in 29:00.
STAR RATING: ****1/2 -- Not the most athletic exhibition you'll see, but they pulled out as many kickouts after major holds as they possibly could without crossing a certain line and then had a tremendous finish, so in the end it was worthy of the legendary status of The Streak matches lately. It was different, but told a great story as best those two could, which was very good by the end. It's a tough match to grade because it wasn't the execution or the moves or even the excitement, but these two drawing on their history and the credibility of their big moves and the stature of The Streak and the WrestleMania setting, and by building off of all of that, they made a match very limited and slow in athletic respects totally fitting of the moment. It's a match that defied the typical star rating criteria, though, just as Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels did.
-Hunter came to before Undertaker did. They dramatized the moment with the ref and a staff member checking on Taker in the ring. They didn't overdo it to the point that people really thought Taker was dying, but they dramatized the effect of the match very well. That would have been too dramatic and dark of a final scene, so it makes sense that they didn't end the show with it. Snooki and Trish and Laycool now get to quickly give the crowd a little breather before Miz's dream comes true. For those of us who watched him on "The Real World" way back, this is quite a story that shouldn't be lost amidst the hoopla of everything else going on. Everyone starts somewhere humble, but Miz's story is still remarkable. Taker continued to struggle to rise afterward, stumbling and falling at ringside. Hunter even stepped over as if he was going to help him, but then walked away. The staffer and the ref called for help from the back finally. Taker's music stopped and the crowd applauded, but they seemed legitimately concerned too.
Two men drove to the ring with a small flatbed truck with a gurney on the back. They almost hit two cameramen who were bent over filming Taker up close. Taker was lifted onto the truck and driven away. The crowd began the chant: "Under-taker, clap clap clap; Under-taker, clap clap clap."
-The "Please Don't Try This At Home" video aired. Then a video hyping WrestleMania 28 in Miami.
-Vickie Guerrero walked out and yelled, "Excuse me! Excuse me!" She introduced her team as the greatest combination of beauty, talent, and intelligence ever assembled for WrestleMania. Lawler said, "I thought black was supposed to be slimming." Can't they make fun of her voice or her grating personality instead of this claim that she's hideously overweight. She could pass for a yoga instructor these days. She's hardly the before picture of "Biggest Loser."
7 -- LAYCOOL & DOLPH ZIGGLER (w/Vickie Guerrero) vs. SNOOKI & TRISH STRATUS & JOHN MORRISON
Match begins at 10:15 ET: Ziggler tells Snooki she doesn't belong in the ring. Snooki slapped him. Only 45 minutes left before they run out of satellite time as Trish stares down McCool. Trish chops McCool, then reached to tag in Snooki as they fast-forward through their plans. McCool made a comeback first, and set up a Styles Clash. Trish escaped and gave McCool a facebuster. The crowd was silent. Lawler told Ross, "Anything that happens to your face would be an improvement." Trish and McCool locked up and tumbled to the floor in what Ross called "a crash and burn situation." Trish punched Layla as she went after her at ringside. Trish clotheslined both Layla and McCool at ringside. Back in the ring McCool tried to kick Trish, but Trish ducked and the boot KO'd Layla. Trish then gave McCool a Chick Kick. When Dolph interfered, Morrison cut him off and then hit a springboard Starship Pain from the top rope onto Ziggler on the floor. That's his one spot. Trish then tagged in Snooki who booed loudly. She hit a handspring elbow on McCool that actually won over the crowd a bit. She then did a cartwheel splash and got the pin on McCool. Who predicted Snooki would have one or two of the top five most athletic highspots of the night the night so far?
WINNER: Snooki & Trish & Morrison in 4:00.
-The camera panned the Tough Enough contestants at ringside.
-After an aerial shot of Atlanta again, Justin Roberts announces that they set an attendance record for the Georgia Dome: 71,617.
-At 10:22 ET, they move into the WWE Title match introductions, beginning with a Miz video package included footage of Miz on "The Real World" dreaming of becoming a WWE Superstar, then on Tough Enough, then hosting Smackdown, then beating Randy Orton for the WWE Title. This all with an image of The Miz from behind watching video monitors of the video, which was interspersed with clips of Steve Austin and The Rock and Hulk Hogan. Great production work here. Then came a video showing Miz's recent career highlights winning Money in the Bank, appearing on talk shows, executing beatdowns on John Cena, and getting Rock Bottomed by The Rock.
-Then they go to Miz's ring entrance. How is he not teared up after watching that? Oh, he actually is, as best I can tell. He and Alex Riley bust through large puffy white letters spelling "awesome" that will be part of a the world's largest s'more's party later tonight. Miz seriously looked like he was bawling backstage as that video package aired. He's doing his best to look mean, though. Maybe he's crying because he officially becomes a millionaire tonight. Just adding up his likely salary in his career so far, minus expenses, he might not have been there yet, but without a doubt this puts him solidly over in actual money after expenses and taxes as McMahon gives out seven-figure-paydays for people closing WrestleMania - if the buyrate comes in strong (and people like Rock don't eat up too much of the profits). Alex Riley's ring jacket looks like it's made of fabric from Akeem's ring outfit.
-About 100-150 gospel singers stood on the stage and sang. Then a video package aired on Cena. Then the singers clapped and sang some more, wearing red and white robes. The crowd booed, which was kind of rude as they were pretty good. I hope WWE personnel always warn these non-wrestling people that crowds can be rough on outsiders. Cena then came out and saluted the crowd. His new color scheme, by the way, is Detroit Red Wing/Atlanta Hawks red. They already started selling those in the concourse as fans in the crowd were wearing the new red Cena shirts. Miz rubbed his WWE Title belt like Jason the World's Sexiest Man in ECW did 16 years ago.
8 -- THE MIZ (w/Alex Riley) vs. JOHN CENA -- WWE Title Match
The crowd mostly booed the announcement of Cena's name by Roberts. It seemed they mostly cheered The Miz, but it was definitely mixed and a little tough to tell.
Match begins at 10:35 ET: Ross noted that this is Cena's eighth straight WrestleMania main event compared to Miz in his second WrestleMania and first main event. They rang the bell twice to indicate the start of the match. The first ring came before the ref signaled for the start of the match, so they did it again. Miz got in the early offense. Cena came back at 5:00 with a legdrop off the ropes to the back of Miz's neck. Miz went back on offense and fought the challenge of the crowd obviously waiting for The Rock to get involved. Miz kneed Cena at ringside and then scored a two count in the ring. Lawler said Miz did something early in the match that he can't put his finger on that seemed to totally slow down Cena.
At 8:00 Cena made a comeback with a flying shoulder and then moved into his You Can't See Me routine, drawing a lot of boos. He waved his hand inf ront of his face and hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena then set up an Attitude Adjustment, but Miz escaped and DDT'd Cena. The roof would have Metrodomed if Miz had scored a three count there. Cena kicked out, though, at two. Miz hit an inverted DDT a minute later for a near fall. The crowd didn't believe Miz could win there. Miz removed a top turnbuckle pad. The ref caught him. Cena surprised Miz with an inside cradle for a near fall. The ref was slow to make the count due to the turnbuckle business. Cena used a drop toe hold to take Miz down and then applied his STF. Miz crawled to the bottom rope to force a break. Riley grabbed Cena and threw him into the exposed turnbuckle. Miz then gave Cena the Skull Crushing Finale. Ross said, "That should do it." Cena kicked out.
Miz stalked Cena from behind and went for another Skull Crushing Finale. Cena tossed Miz off of him and into the ref. Cena hit the Attitude Adjustment. The ref was down and out. Cena made the cover, but there was no count. Riley entered the ring and KO'd Cena with his metal briefcase. Miz crawled over and made the cover. Cena kicked out. Riley complained to the ref as Miz swung the briefcase at Cena. Cena ducked and the case hit Riley. Cena then gave Miz the Attitude Adjustment. In what got the Pop of the Night, Miz kicked out. Cena charged Miz at ringside and clotheslined him over the ring barrier. He then leaped over the ringside barrier and tackled Miz. Both men were counted out by the ref. Justin Roberts announced the match was a draw and Miz was still the WWE Champion. Of course that's not going to stand as the real decision, as WWE knows better than to finish the show with a double countout.
WINNER: A draw in 14:00 so Miz retains his title.
-Lawler said he never thought he'd see the championship match end that way. The Rock's music then played. Rock quickly went to the ring. Nine minutes before the top of the hour, so whatever is going to happen has to happen quickly. The G.M. chime sounded. Ross was going to get up and read the message. Rock signaled for Ross to sit down. Lawler stood. Rock signaled for him to sit down. Rock then stepped up to the podium. He asked for the attention of the crowd. He said: "And I quote: As Raw general manager, I think..." Rock stopped and looked around for a few seconds. He yelled at the laptop, "It doesn't matter what you think!" He shoved it down and entered the ring. He said as host of WrestleMania, he said there's no way WrestleMania is over. He said that this match must restart right now. The crowd cheered. He said no DQ, no countout, no time limit (do the cable companies agree with that?). He rushed through his planned lines about Fruity Pebbles and Candy Asses and said, "It's time to give the people what they want." Cena crawled over the ring barrier and threw Miz back into the ring.
Cena immediately lifted Miz for an Attitude Adjustment. Miz escaped. Rock then gave Cena a Rock Bottom and left the ring. Ross said, "Remember, it's no disqualification." Miz covered Cena and scored the pin.
WINNER: Miz in 1:00 into overtime to retain the WWE Title.
STAR RATING: ** -- The original match with the post-match ordeal just didn't work. Cena and Miz weren't able to get over the anticipation and inevitable appearance by The Rock, so their match just felt like a prequel, not a main event itself. Then everything felt rushed at the end.
-Rock breathed heavily at ringside, then charged back into the ring and jumped Miz. He ducked a swing of the title belt by Miz and then gave Miz his spinebuster followed by The People's Elbow. He then hit The People's Elbow. The arena didn't explode like it was supposed to in the script. Hmmm. I think that fell a little flat. Maybe collectively too rushed and too cute by half. Was damage done there to an eventual Rock vs. Cena match? Or were expectations so high it was just impossible to meet them, and when the dust settles on WrestleMania and the next phase occurs on Raw tomorrow, all will be fine?
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