WWE PPVs CALDWELL'S WM31 PPV REPORT 3/29 (Pre-Show): Tag Title match, Andre Battle Royal, final WM31 hype, Stooges, more
Mar 29, 2015 - 10:00:00 PM
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WWE WrestleMania 31 PPV Report
March 29, 2015
Santa Clara, Calif. at Levi's Stadium
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
Live PPV Pre-Show
The two-hour pre-show from the home of the San Francisco 49ers opened with Renee Young high in the stadium sitting with Booker T, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton. Very high up in the stadium as fans filed into the building in the background. Meanwhile, Tom Phillips was at the social media lounge advertising a Q&A with Lita during the pre-show.
Backstage, Eden Stiles was standing outside Triple H's locker room looking for a word on Hunter's WM31 match against Sting. Eden knocked on the door, but Kane slammed his hand on the door, telling Eden this office is off limits and she should leave. Kane told Eden to scram because he has to prepare for the Andre the Battle Royal.
Another Authority segment backstage with Joey Mercury & Jamie Noble looking for coffee. They encountered the original stooges, Gerald Briscoe & Pat Patterson. Jerry cut off Noble, saying he's getting cream for "Mister MacMan." Mercury had a word for Jerry, but Noble held back Silent Joey and they took off.
The pre-show panel spent the remainder of the first hour breaking down the line-up and talking around video packages hyping top matches. At the top of the second hour, Renee sent it down to Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL at ringside for the pre-show matches...
The Usos's music played to kick things off in their hometown area. WWE went to a wide shot of the giant stage that made the Usos look like ants standing in the middle of the platform in the bright sunshine at 3:00 p.m. local time. The Usos and Naomi bounced down to the ring for the opening Tag Title match. Los Matadores and El Torito were out next in similar red-based, 49ers-colored outfits. Big E. then preached New Day down to the ring in matching neon yellow outfits.
Cesaro's siren then brought out Cesaro and Tyson Kidd in dark black and silver outfits, looking like the Oakland Raiders going against the 49ers.
A -- WWE tag champions OAKLAND RAIDERS (TYSON KIDD & CESARO w/Natalya) vs. SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS (THE USOS w/Naomi) vs. LOS MATADORES (DIEGO & FERNANDO w/El Torito) vs. NEW DAY (KOFI KINGSTON & BIG E. w/Xavier Woods) -- four-team match for the WWE Tag Titles
The Usos started things off and Jey Uso sold a shoulder injury. The trainer escorted Jey away from ringside, leaving Jimmy by himself. Kidd & Cesaro then combined for a Big Swing/dropkick on Kofi for a two count. Of note, interesting sightlines facing the hard camera. Instead of that long, panoramic stadium look, it was more like a rectangular box with "WRESTLEMANIA" text backdrop.
Jimmy Uso tagged in and cleaned house by himself. Uso set up four opponents in each corner. Butt splash Rikishi-style to one corner, then a second, a third, and all four corners. Chaos with all teams in the ring. Kingston scored a close nearfall on Cesaro, then they set up a Tower of Doom spot. Instead, Cesaro just suplexed Big E. clear over the top rope into the ring. The ref lost control of the match trying to figure out who was legal. Meanwhile, Kidd used Natalya to take out Los Matadores. Torito suddenly entered the ring and flew onto Xavier on the outside. Natalya then put Torito in the Sharpshooter, tapping out Torito on the floor. Suddenly, Naomi was in the ring and she flew over the top rope with Uso to splash people on the floor. It came down to Natalya and Naomi on the floor, leading to Natalya delivering Rear View to Natalya. Complete chaos.
Back in the ring, Big E. hit the Big Ending on un Matador, but other teams broke up the pin. The ref tried to figure out who was legal as Big E. and un Matador remained in the ring. Other teams re-entered the ring, then Cesaro delivered a big uppercut to un Matador. More chaos as the crowd sat quietly with too much happening. They set up another Tower of Doom spot, bringing fans to their feet as bodies crashed to the mat. Uso hit a top-rope splash on Big E., but Cesaro tagged in Usos's foot in mid-air. So, Cesaro discarded Uso and pinned Big E. for the win.
WINNERS: Cesaro & Kidd at 9:58 to retain the Tag Titles. Hard work aise, this was a giant clustermess. Goodness. WWE tried to get in the Natalya-Naomi feud, Natalya-Torito deal, Uso injury angle, and four teams battling for the Tag Titles with no sense of order in ten over-booked minutes. Just too much for a pre-show match. (**1/2)
Studio Panel: Renee and Co. came up for air reacting to the Tag Title match and resetting the show.
Social Media Lounge: Tom Phillips brought in Lita for a Twitter Q&A. Phillips opened by asking Lita being back in the WWE environment, then read some questions playing up WrestleMania storylines. Notably, the Divas feud between the Bellas and A.J. Lee & Paige. Lita said she thinks the Bellas will have the upper-hand due to their sisterhood. She also teased a potential Network show with Trish Stratus and potential tag match with Trish against the Bellas at a future WrestleMania.
Back to the studio to hype the WrestleMania card one more time before introducing video of ESPN commentator Jon Gruden breaking down the Andre Battle Royal coming up next.
Back to ringside where the announcers offered last-minute picks for the potential battle royal winner. Lawler picked Mark Henry, so he's not winning. No sign of Sheamus as the bell sounded.
B -- ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYAL
Curtis Axel parted the Red Sea to get his moment ripping his shirt going wild with Axel-Mania. So, the entire roster dumped Axel over the top rope for the first elimination. NXT star Hideo Itami was in there battling Cesaro, who was not advertised after being in the Tag Title match, while Show worked on Titus O'Neil in the corner. Adam Rose and Fandango then spilled to the outside as JBL hyped Show never winning a battle royal. Show targeted Itami, then Miz and Damien Sandow teamed up to fight Alex Riley, who was also not advertised. They eliminated Riley, and Miz took the credit.
Zack Ryder was then eliminated by a returning Bo Dallas, now with a goatee. Bo was so excited that he ran out of the ring, then ran back in, and was eliminated by Itami. "Itami" chant from the crowd. Itami kicked Kidd around, then found himself face-to-nipple with Show. Itami went after Show with kicks, but Show punched Itami off the ring apron to the floor to boos from the crowd.
Los Matadores were eliminated, then Cesaro slammed Sin Cara onto Los Matadores. Henry then press-slammed Kidd over the top rope onto the eliminated trio. The Ascension then dumped Henry over the top rope, ending Lawler's pick. "Let's Go Mizdow" chants as the ring continued to clear out via Ryback eliminating The Ascension. Ryback then chucked Darren Young over the top rope. Heath Slater air-guitared in Ryback's face, so Ryback tossed him next. Ryback then tossed Titus O'Neil.
New Day ganged up on Big Show, but Show kind of skinned the cat going over the top rope. So, Kofi and Xavier double-dropkicked Show. No elimination with Show holding onto the top rope, then Show grabbed Big E. and eliminated him. He followed with eliminations on Xavier and Kofi Kingston. Quite the babyface move valiantly surviving three guys trying to eliminate him. Show then tossed Erick Rowan after catching his breath.
Ryback tossed Goldust as the match came down to seven or eight wrestlers. Ryback wanted to Shell-Shock Big Show, but Kane smashed him in the face before choke-slamming Miz and Sandow. Kane tried to eliminate 2014 winner Cesaro, but he hung on. And he eliminated Kane with power offense. Show then chucked Uso over the top rope.
The Final Five was Show, Cesaro, Miz, Sandow, and Ryback. Cesaro offered a big Feat of Strength on Show, but he couldn't hold him and Show tossed Cesaro over the top rope to the floor. So, it's Show, Ryback, Miz, and Sandow in the Final Four. Ryback wanted the Meathook Clothesline on show, but Show intercepted and chucked him over the top rope to the floor.
Show turned around to stand opposite Miz and Sandow as the crowd came to life cheering for Sandow. Miz pointed to himself, saying he's got this. Miz talked strategy, then walked toward Show, figured out it was Big Show, and stopped. Cole freaked out about something on commentary while all three guys stood in the ring setting up the finish. Miz talked strategy with Sandow again, but Sandow shook his head "no" on Miz's instructions. Miz berated Sandow, who remained standing still. Miz pushed Sandow one too many times, so Sandow grabbed Miz and chucked him over the top rope to a big pop.
Ringside, Miz freaked out while Sandow yelled that he's not taking this anymore. But, Sandow turned his back on Big Show. JBL predicted Big Show about to win, but Show did not take advantage of Sandow being distracted by eliminating Miz, just sitting in the corner. Show and Sandow eventually came face-to-face as the last two standing. Show tossed Sandow, but Sandow skinned the cat back into the ring. Sandow punched Show over and over, but could not get him over the top rope. Show then shoulder-blocked Sandow to the mat to boos.
Show smiled, stalked Sandow, and got low-bridged over the top rope. Show held on, though. Sandow tried to bite Show's fingers, but Show blocked and absorbed right hands from Sandow. Sandow ran at Show, but Show grabbed him by the throat. Sandow then found himself on the ring apron trying to drag Show over the top rope to the floor. But, Show lifted Sandow in the air and tossed him down to the mat, getting the win.
Post-match, Show left the ring to pick up the giant Andre the Giant trophy. Show then patted the Andre figurine on the head and posed like Andre.
WINNER: Show at 18:05. That was a good battle royal. They cleared people out early on, spotlighted key wrestlers, got in Sandow's big moment ending his alliance with Miz, and gave Show his gold watch winning the battle royal. The booking almost babyfaced Show (although the crowd sure did not want him to win) with Show trying to get his first battle royal win, overcoming stacked odds during the match, and showing endurance getting the win. (***1/2)
Back to the studio, where the panel continued to babyface Show. Renee then reset the show setting up the panelists to offer their final thoughts on the WrestleMania line-up.
Opening the PPV is the IC Title ladder match. Following a video package on the Intercontinental Title's history at WrestleMania, they cut back to the stadium to show Pat Patterson presenting the title belt to referees to be placed on a hook above the ring for the ladder match.
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