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CALDWELL'S WM31 PPV RESULTS 3/29: Complete "virtual-time" coverage of WWE World Title match, Taker's return, Sting vs. Triple H, Cena vs. Rusev, Rock/UFC surprise, more

Mar 29, 2015 - 10:00:29 PM


WWE WrestleMania 31 PPV Report
March 29, 2015
Santa Clara, Calif. at Levi's Stadium
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor

Live PPV - Hour 1

Live from Levi's Stadium, Lilian Garcia introduced artist Aloe Blacc to sing America the Beautiful. Blacc sang from the "Play Button" at the center of the giant WrestleMania stage.

LL Cool J then introduced WrestleMania via video package talking about technology changing the way everyone communicates. But, the one constant is the "Mania" of WrestleMania.

Back live at Levi's Stadium, WWE went to a blimp shot of the stadium filled with fans standing in the California sunshine. Down inside the arena, ladders were everywhere for the opening ladder match. Cue Daniel Bryan's to a mega-reaction. Bryan came out on-stage leading the stadium in "Yes!" chants running down the long ramp to the ring. Cole said they're beginning Mania the way they ended it last year with the Yes! Movement.

Bad News Barrett's music then played to bring out the defending IC champion. Michael Cole introduced the various international announce teams ringside sitting next to Cole, Jerry Lawler, and JBL. Dolph Ziggler was out next sporting a new hairdo. Stardust was out next sporting a wild costume. Luke Harper was out next sporting a cool-looking vintage rocker jacket over his trademark unwashed white tanktop. R-Truth came out in Oakland Raiders silver and black, then Dean Ambrose rounded out the field marching down to the ring in a black jacket, black tanktop, and jeans. Dean hit the ring and the bell sounded.

1 -- IC champion BAD NEWS BARRETT vs. DANIEL BRYAN vs. LUKE HARPER vs. R-TRUTH vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. DEAN AMBROSE vs. STARDUST -- seven-man Intercontinental Title ladder match

Chaos early on with wrestlers flying out of the ring. Dean eventually climbed a ladder and splashed everyone except for R-Truth, who entered the ring and tried to conquer his fear of heights, but Barrett cut him off before he could climb. Bryan then entered the ring and landed corner dropkicks on Stardust and Barrett, but Harper smashed him with a ladder. Bryan shook it off moments later and smashed Harper as he hung upside down on a ladder. Stardust then took control, drawing "Cody" chants taunting him. Suddenly, Stardust left the ring and grabbed his own ladder, which was covered in glitter. Barrett proceeded to smash and break the ladder.

Back in the ring, Ambrose and Harper had a ladder war that turned into a fist fight. They were cleared from the ring, then Stardust tried to climb a giant ladder, but Barrett cut him and delivered a superplex from the top of the ladder. Barrett sold great tipping over onto his stomach after executing the move. Suddenly, Bryan, Ziggler, and Ambrose battled on top of the ladder. Ambrose tipped them over, then clotheslined Harper. But, Harper grabbed Ambrose and chucked him over the top rope with a powerbomb through a collapsable ladder down at ringside. The ringside doctor checked on Ambrose as Ziggler returned to the ring. Ziggler climbed on Harper's back as Harper climbed the ladder, then Harper bodyslammed both of them down to the mat below. Reset with bodies everywhere.

Ziggler was the first man up and got his hands on the IC Title belt, but Barrett cut him off. Bullhammers around the horn, but Bryan prevented Barrett from grabbing the ladder. Bryan got his hands on the belt, but Barrett and Ziggler desperately pulled him down. Barrett, frustrated, tossed the ladder out of the way, then turned around and took a running knee from Bryan.

Bryan reset the ladder and started climbing, but Ziggler ran back into the ring to battle Bryan. Big right hand strikes back and forth. Headbutt to Ziggler. Another one. Double headbutt battle, then Bryan got the final headbutt, knocking Ziggler down to the mat. Bryan was left alone on the ladder and he unhooked it for the win. Big crowd reaction and celebration. Cole said they begin Mania the way they ended last year.

WINNER: Bryan at 13:47 to become new IC champion. Good ladder match. WWE protected Bryan not involved in dangerous spots and they kept the focus on a few stories and feuds to build to the finish book-ending the last two WrestleManias with Bryan & Bryan Fans getting a consolation prize. Simple, effective booking and relatively safe match that did not make viewers cringe throughout. Now perhaps WWE can re-focus on the Smackdown brand with Bryan and the IC Title as center of the show. (***1/2)

Video: WWE is partnering with Tapout.

Video package: Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton feud - The Future vs. The Face of WWE, in the eyes of The Authority.

In-ring: Seth Rollins was introduced first holding the MITB briefcase, which the announcers mentioned to plant seeds for potential use after the WWE World Title match later in the show. Rollins marched down to the ring with J&J Security looking ready for his big singles spotlight match at WrestleMania. After a pause, Randy Orton's music played to a solid reaction. Orton glared into the sunshine, then peered around the stadium looking to pump up the crowd. Cole said it's 12 straight WrestleManias for Orton, who was sporting red trunks and black elbow pads. Now the question is how the audience will handle the first singles match of the show after a four-team Tag Title match, battle royal, and multi-man ladder match.

2 -- RANDY ORTON vs. SETH ROLLINS (w/Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury)

After a brief feeling-out process, Orton landed a dropkick, then teased the RKO, but Seth slid out of the ring to avoid. Back in the ring, Seth blocked corner punches and went for a Bucklebomb, but Orton rebounded off the turnbuckles and clotheslined Seth hard to the mat. J&J felt uncomfortable with how the match was going, so they got involved. Orton wasn't going to let them stay involved, though, so he delivered a trademark Double DDT from the ring apron ... onto the floor. "Those are human beings!" JBL shouted on commentary. Seth used the distraction to take control, though, back in the ring.

Seth got cocky in control of the match, allowing Orton to come back with a corner clothesline into a trademark snap powerslam. Orton then lit up Seth with corner uppercuts, nearly getting himself DQ'ed by the referee. No matter, as Orton gripped Seth for a t-bone suplex, which sent Seth sliding to the ring apron. Orton wanted a second-rope DDT, but Seth blocked and kicked Orton in the head down to the floor where J&J were recovering. Seth measured Orton, then delivered an Asai Moonsault, rocking Orton.

Back in the ring at 8:00, Seth wanted a top-rope move, but Orton crotched him just in time. Orton then wanted Papa Orton's superplex, but Seth blocked, only to take a back body drop. Orton followed with a cross-body splash from the top rope, bringing out something new from the toolbox. Orton covered for a two count, then wanted the RKO, firing up the crowd. Orton set up for the RKO in Seth's face, but Seth blocked with a roll-up for a two count into a kick to the face. Seth then flipped over Orton, but landed right in an RKO. Seth kicked out just before three, though, surprising the crowd.

Orton set up for The Punt to try to finish Seth, but J&J hit the ring, took RKOs from Orton, and Seth surprised Orton with a Curb Stomp. But, Orton kicked out of the pin. Lawler said they're kicking out of finishers because it's WrestleMania. After a replay of the sequence, Seth approached Orton for his next move. Seth wanted a big corkscrew splash from the top rope, but Orton rolled out of the way and tried an RKO, but Seth blocked. Seth then ran toward Orton for a Curb Stomp, but he ended up running into the air, where Orton intercepted him with a mid-air RKO, popping and wowing the crowd. Orton emphatically covered Seth for the win. Amazing visual on a slow-motion replay.

WINNER: Orton at 13:15. Very good singles match not overly dependent on finisher kick-outs. The outcome makes a lot of sense if Seth is cashing in MITB tonight or tomorrow on Raw. Hypothetically, Orton gets the win here, Seth gets the title, and Orton has a claim to a title shot, setting up the next stage of the feud post-Mania. (***1/2)

Ringside: UFC Women's champion Ronda Rousey and the Four Horsewomen were shown ringside. Lawler said he bets Ronda would like to be in the ring making someone tap out.

Next up is Sting vs. Triple H. First was a video package documenting Triple H's power abuse and Sting coming to WWE 14 years after WCW closed down to take out Hunter.

Live PPV - Hour #2

On-stage: The Sting Orchestra came out on-stage and performed a musical rendition leading to the scarecrow imagery filling the screen. Dramatic noise. Sting then emerged on-stage dressed in a sequined red jacket, black & white facepaint with red marks, and black & white signature crow outfit. The announcers were silent as Sting slowly made his way down to the ring soaking up the moment. A funny sign in the crowd played off The Undertaker's Streak, reading "Sting 1-0." Sting hit the ring to loud applause and howled toward the crowd before looking around the arena catching various Sting fans in the crowd. Lawler spoke first that Sting is in a WWE ring at WrestleMania. Big moment for Sting soaking up the atmosphere. JBL said this is not Starrcade, but WrestleMania, something Vince McMahon has waited 30 years to have said on the air after the PPV battles of the 1980s.

WWE then cut to a music video trailer for the new Terminator movie leading into Triple H's entrance. Pyro shot off, then "terminators" popped up on the stage. WWE cut to graphics echoing WCW Saturday Night with the Robot Guy scanning the roster before producing Triple H from beneath the stage in his skeleton get-up and headgear. Hunter kept going into the air before WWE cut to video of Arnold Schwarzenegger saying it's time to play the game. Back on the ground, Hunter's stage friends removed his costume and Hunter held up a group of skulls before removing his own skeleton helmet and marching down to the ring. JBL said he's seen some crazy stuff, but that was something else. Lilian Garcia said the only way to win this match is via pinfall or submission, which was a late addition to the match. No Stephanie McMahon accompanying Hunter. Cole said Sting is the last soldier standing from WCW and he's gunning for The Game tonight.

3 -- STING vs. TRIPLE H -- The Monday Night War

After all the elaborate introductions, it was time for the bell and a big staredown. Hunter paused to look around the stadium while Sting kept his eyes locked on Hunter. Lock-up and it's on. Sting ran over Hunter with a shoulder tackle, then he pounded his chest and howled at Hunter. Howls for the crowd. Hunter delivered a shoulder tackle, but Sting came back with a hip toss and big dropkick, stunning Hunter. Loud "You Still Got It" chant from the crowd.

Reset and another mid-ring lock-up. Sting drove Hunter to the corner, but Hunter landed a blow to the face. Hunter followed with more offense, then landed a kneelift, but Sting no-sold. Howl. Pound the chest. Hunter was stunned. Sting dropped Hunter and teased the Scorpion Deathlock, but Hunter slithered out of the ring to get a breather. Hunter continued to sell being surprised by Sting matching and bettering him early on.

Hunter returned to the ring at 4:40 as Sting continued to lock eyes. Another lock-up. Hunter drove Sting to the corner, but Sting reversed a whip and sent Hunter flying over the top rope to the floor. Cole said it might be too early to say this, but Sting has been pretty dominant. Sting followed to the outside, but made a mistake going for the Stinger Splash, as Hunter moved and Sting crashed into the guardrail. Hunter then chucked Sting into the ring steps.

Back in the ring, Hunter worked over Sting as the crowd continued to buzz about the match thus far. Hunter stood up and smiled as JBL continued the narrative of WCW being below WWE. Hunter then whipped Sting into the corner turnbuckle and Sting fell down at Hunter's feet. Hunter crotch-chopped the crowd, then dropped a knee for a two count. Hunter followed with a reverse chinlock as the camera focused on a giant welt running down the back of Hunter's left leg. Sting powered out of the hold, then managed to get Hunter in the Scorpion Deathlock.

Suddenly, DX's music played. Out came Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, and Sean Waltman. Sting cleared them from the ring, but Triple H got up and teased the Pedigree, only to have Sting back body drop him over the top rope to the floor. Sting recovered, climbed to the top turnbuckle, and big-splashed all four men down on the floor. Sting stood to his feet as the crowd saluted him.

Sting rolled Hunter back into the ring, but Gunn went after him. Sting then turned around and took a Pedigree from Hunter. Hunter covered, but Sting kicked out of the Pedigree, wowing the crowd. "Let's Go Sting" chant as Hunter slid out of the ring and retrieved a sledgehammer. Suddenly, the NWO theme music played. Out came Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, and Scott Hall in NWO t-shirts. Are they all going to take out Sting? DX flipped out ringside as Hogan, Hall, and Nash slowly made their way down to ringside. JBL played Dusty Rhodes wondering what side the NWO is on.

Suddenly, NWO and DX came to blows on the entrance ramp. Hogan and Nash stood tall, then Sting grabbed Hunter from behind and delivered a Scorpion Death Drop. Sting covered, but Hunter kicked out. Another big crowd reaction. Sting then put Hunter in the Scorpion Deathlock as the NWO watched ringside. Hunter tried to crawl toward the sledgehammer, but Hogan pulled it away. JBL yelled about Hogan making his name here. Suddenly, Waltman posted Hogan, so Nash took out Waltman. A big brawl broke out ringside. Meanwhile, Sting still had Hunter in the Scorpion. The focus went back to the move as Sting sat down on Hunter's back. But, Hunter powered to his stomach and reached the bottom rope for a break.

Sting went for the Scorpion Deathlock again, but Shawn Michaels was suddenly in the ring sporting a DX t-shirt. Michaels superkicked Sting for the real WCW vs. WWE dream match that never happened, then stood over Sting as the crowd booed. HBK crotch-chopped the crowd, then Hunter draped an arm over Sting, who rolled a shoulder to escape the pin. The crowd roared again. Michaels could not believe it was not the finish.

Another situation broke out ringside with Hunter receiving the sledgehammer from DX. Hunter stalked Sting, but Hall pulled out the baseball bat and handed it to Sting, who sold being stunned by the NWO helping him. Sting and Hunter circled each other with weapons in-hand, then Sting jabbed Hunter in the gut with his bat. That giant bruise on Hunter's leg is turning colors. Sting suddenly broke Hunter's sledgehammer in half, sending Hunter begging off. Sting delivered right hands and kicks in the corner. Big strikes, big slows. Big moment. Sting pounded his chest, then went for the Stinger Splash and connected. Hunter slumped down to the mat, then Sting stalked him for another one. But, Hunter bashed him with the head of the sledgehammer. Hunter covered, and it was good for the pin and the win.

Post-match, DX entered the ring to help Hunter to his feet. Meanwhile, the NWO helped up Sting in the opposite corner. Big moment with all of these personalities standing together in the ring. Hogan stood in front of Sting, then Hunter stumbled across the ring. Hunter told everyone to back down for a second, then Hunter stood opposite Sting. Hunter extended his hand and Sting slowly approached him mid-ring. Sting shook his hand and they shared words face-to-face. Lawler said that was a show of respect from two of the greatest of all-time. Cole wondered if the War has finally been put to bed. JBL bragged about WWE winning, but Sting got his moment in the sun standing with Hogan, Hall, and Nash.

WINNER: Hunter at 18:36. Definitely exceeded expectations. A lot happened after the sudden shift pre-match to no DQs, but the overall match story fit one aspect of the main build-up centered on WWE vs. WCW nostalgia. There wasn't much about Sting looking to conquer Hunter and his power-abusing ways in current storylines, plus Sting being aided by the NWO that he tried to conquer in WCW seemed a bit counter to the justice-seeking story. There was so much nostalgia putting a bow on the Monday Night War, though, that it all worked with the guys involved. Plus, Sting looked good based on how the match was laid out to keep Sting strong in defeat and earn Hunter (WWE)'s respect. Which was basically WWE's way of saying, "Hey, we won, and WCW is below us, but we'll throw you a bone." Also, was this Hunter turning babyface for storylines going forward, (without having to lose and get his comeuppance or admit any wrong-going), especially with Stephanie not present? Or, does Hunter just resume playing heel authority figure on TV after Sting failed in his mission, which ended up being underplayed compared to the WCW vs. WWE theme? (The follow-up answering that question came quickly later in the show.) (***1/2)

Commercial: Camp WWE is coming to WWE Network. Plus, a new show titled "Swerved" aimed at the males 18-34 demographic. Also, Jerry Springer presents "Too Hot for TV" using WWE clips. Plus, the Divas Search is returning. This was WWE's way of trying to get Network subscribers to retain their subscription post-WWE Network.

Backstage: Maria Menonous, sporting a Bushwhackers t-shirt, brought in new IC champion Daniel Bryan. Pat Patterson entered the shot to congratulate Bryan on winning the belt. Then, Roddy Piper came face-to-face with Bryan. Piper said Bryan keeps changing the questions every time he thinks he has all the answers, so congratulations. Ricky Steamboat, dressed as The Dragon, congratulated Bryan on the match. He said it's up there with his match against Randy Savage. Suddenly, Ric Flair entered the shot to congratulate Bryan. Whooos and a chop for Steamboat. WrestleWar '89 breaking out. Bret Hart also entered the shot to shake Bryan's hand. Ron Simmons then entered the shot to shout "Damn!" as Bryan and the Legends did "Yes!" chants. Big endorsement for Bryan and the IC Title - now will WWE do something with it?

On-stage: Time for the musical performance with Travis Barker on the drums, Skylar Grey singing, and Kid Ink rapping.

In-ring: Smoke and pyro filled Levi's Stadium as WWE went to a blimp shot ahead of the Divas tag match. Paige was introduced first. She soaked up her first WrestleMania, then A.J. Lee joined her going down to the ring. Cole dumped water on the heels in the match, saying he thinks all of the Divas are role models in certain ways. The Bellas were out next.

4 -- THE BELLAS (Divas champion NIKKI BELLA & BRIE BELLA) vs. A.J. LEE & PAIGE -- Divas tag match

A.J. sold an injury early on, leaving Paige alone to face the Bellas in basically a handicap match. Paige fought back with a double splash on the Bellas, but she could not get a pin. A.J. finally returned to the ring trying to fight through the storyline injury. She put Brie in the Black Widow and secured a submission for the win.

WINNERS: A.J. & Paige at 6:42. Heels got their comeuppance as part of the feud, but Nikki still has the Divas Title, keeping everyone even. Tough spot following the big nostalgia match with the crowd still recovering. (**)

Tale of the Tape: WWE World Hvt. champion Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns. Still to come.

Hall of Fame segment: Michael Cole introduced a video package on last night's Hall of Fame ceremony. Howard Finkel then made his annual WrestleMania appearance introducing the 2015 WWE Hall of Fame class as they stood on-stage. Rikishi, Alundra Blayze, The Bushwhackers, Connor the Crusher's dad, Tatsumi Fujinami, and Larry Zbyszko set the stage. Lanny Poffo stood on-stage for Randy Savage, then Arnold Schwarzenegger was recognized, followed by the NWO theme music for Kevin Nash, who changed into a tuxedo from his NWO t-shirt.

Live PPV - Hour #3

Video Package: John Cena vs. Rusev U.S. Title feud.

On-stage: Russian soldiers emerged on-stage holding the Russian flag for Rusev's big entrance. Lana led the troops down to the ring proudly holding the U.S. Tile belt. Pyro then shot out of cannons on the stage. Rusev then emerged standing in a giant military tank. Rusev stood on top of the tank and waved the Russian flag to loud boos. Rusev then marched down the aisleway past front-row fans and swung his flag down at ringside. Rusev and Lana posed in the ring, then Rusev held up the U.S. Title belt to boos. Long intro for Rusev, who trash-talked the fans before they did the Cena Pause leading to John Cena's entrance.

Fade to a pro-America propaganda video. Will Cena emerge from a military chopper in the open-air stadium to counter Rusev? Back in the arena, Cena's music played to loud boos and cheers. After WWE raised expectations for Cena's entrance, Cena simply walked out on-stage like any other match. Cena stood on the ramp, then ran down to the ring. Cena fumbled his cap, tossed it into the crowd, and played to the crowd. Eden Stiles then handled formal ring introductions after being interrupted by Rusev, who demanded to be introduced first. Cena was then booed during his intro.

5 -- U.S. champion RUSEV (w/Lana) vs. JOHN CENA -- United States Title match

Before the bell sounded, Cole noted Cena won his first major title at WrestleMania 20 when he won this very U.S. Title at Madison Square Garden. As soon as the bell sounded, Cena ran over Rusev with a clothesline for a one count. Rusev came back with his own clothesline for a one count. He then dominated Cena to the point where he called for his Russian flag. Rusev waved the flag over Cena, who fought back to cut off Rusev's gloating. Cena made a comeback to boos, then hit a sit-out slam. Boos. Cena wanted the Five Knuckle Shuffle, and he connected. Early for that to connect without a counter. But, Rusev blocked the AA set-up and slammed Cena for a two count.

Rusev stomped the mat and went for a kick, but Cena ducked, only to take a swinging slam for another nearfall. The crowd picked up a "Let's Go Lana" chant before Rusev tried to get the focus back on him with a standing kick to Cena's face. Rusev wanted a corner attack, but Cena countered with a swinging DDT for a two count. To their feet for a standing exchange. "You can't beat me, John Cena!" Rusev shouted in Cena's face. Rusev delivered the Alabama Slam, but Cena kicked out of a pin.

Rusev stuck his foot out celebrating too much, allowing Cena to trap him and drag him down to the mat for the STF. Lana chucked her shoe into the ring trying to distract Cena, then Rusev reached the bottom rope for a break. Cena tried to shake off the distraction, but he ran into a big overhead bodyslam from Rusev. Rusev then climbed to the top rope and flew down at Cena with a diving shoulder tackle for a close two count. Rusev, exasperated, just fell back onto the mat not believing it. "Rusev, Rusev" chant from some of the crowd.

Rusev called for the end at 11:00. He tried to apply The Accolade submission, but Cena turned his body to block and kick Rusev away. Cena then went for something like a springboard turn-around Stunner. The crowd didn't know what to make of it. Cena covered, but Rusev kicked out. WWE went to a slow-motion replay of Cena delivering the backwards Stunner of sorts. Cena tried to follow up, but he ran into a sidekick.

Rusev slapped on The Accolade center-ring, then squeezed hard on Cena's body as the announcers acted like he was done. Which meant he was not. Cena suddenly powered to his feet, ran Rusev into the turnbuckle, and broke the hold. Rusev tried to charge Cena, but Cena dropped him to the mat with the STF. Cena dropped the hold when Lana got on the ring apron, then Rusev tried to charge Cena, but Cena moved and Rusev crashed hard into Lana, sending her flying off the ring apron to the floor. Cena then hit the AA on Rusev. One, two, no kick-out, three count for Cena.

Post-match, Rusev yelled down at Lana and the trainer, who was checking on Lana. Cena then took his title belt, kissed the widow of Arnold Skaaland, and took a victory lap. Meanwhile, Rusev stormed away from ringside as the medics helped Lana to the back. Cena returned to the ring and celebrated with the title belt. No big American Flag drop for Cena.

WINNER: Cena at 14:31 to capture the U.S. Title. Pretty good title match. The crowd wasn't going to be into Cena, but the chants for Lana and some chants for Rusev were not too much of a distraction. Rusev took the loss, but they tried to put the focus on Rusev-Lana issues coming out of Mania to protect Rusev somewhat. Cena winning, combined with Bryan winning the IC Title, shows a renewed focus on the mid-card titles, as long as the follow-up is strong. (**3/4)

WM32 Plug: AT&T Stadium. The Undertaker was included in the hype video. It's coming to Dallas on Sunday, April 3.

Studio: Renee Young reset the show with Booker T, Corey Graves, and Byron Saxton. They showed highlights from the pre-show, including Kidd & Cesaro retaining the Tag Titles, The Miz and Damien Sandow exploding in the battle royal, and Big Show eventually winning the Andre Battle Royal.

Big Authority Segment

In-ring: Triple H, now in a suit, and Stephanie McMahon were announced in the ring to boos. Stephanie said everyone here has made history setting a Levi's Stadium (marketed) record of 76,976. Steph then talked WrestleMania history and WWE Network. She said she looks out into the crowd seeing people from all 50 states and 40 countries and realizes this evolution of WWE would not be possible without ... me. She laughed and the crowd booed. Steph said WWE would not be what it is today without her and her husband, Triple H. Hunter said some of you don't like that. "And some of you don't like that I beat Sting," he said. Hunter gloated that it's as if he beat 76,976 of you and also millions more watching around the world. He said he owned Sting, just like they own every Superstar and Diva, just like everyone in the crowd. "So, whether you like it or whether you don't, it really doesn't matter because The Authority always wins," he said.

Suddenly, The Rock's music played to interrupt a Hunter-Steph smooch. Rock emerged on-stage one day after hosting SNL as Steph sold annoyance standing in the ring. Rock marched back and forth on the WrestleMania stage as the crowd roared. Hunter and Steph continued to sell annoyance in the ring as Rock kept on walking back and forth as Cole hyped Rock starring in "Furious 7" and hosting SNL last night.

Rock eventually marched down to the ring and posed for the fans as Hunter looked up at Rock with a sense of annoyance. Rock walked past Hunter to pose in the opposite corner, then asked for a mic. Hunter sauntered over toward Stephanie as the crowd roared and cheered for Rock. Long staredown as the crowd chanted "Rocky, Rocky." Rock approached the mic to speak, but more cheering interrupted, annoying The Authority some more. Steph sarcastically said they get it, the crowd is happy to see Rock. "Will you be quiet now?" she dryly asked. Rock went to talk again, but the crowd was too loud again, annoying Steph.

Rock stared at Hunter, who started yelling at the fans. Rock then talked. He said Hunter and Steph do not own the people, and they damn sure don't own The Rock. Rock said what they failed to realize is that Rock is an East Bay Boy (local shout-out). Rock said Rock was born in the East Bay. Pause for another "Rocky, Rocky" chant. So, the way he sees it, either Hunter goes back there and dresses up like Terminator again, or they can create a WrestleMania Moment right here, right now. Rock talked up their rivalry, then Hunter got in his face. He said he kicked Rock's ass for most of the rivalry, and he has nothing left to prove.

Hunter started to leave, but Rock called him back, noting Hunter has clearly left his balls in Stamford, Connecticut. Rock started bouncing up and down, then Hunter removed his coat jacket. Steph told Hunter to hang on just one second. She said Rock likes to take as many cheap-shots as possible to feed his egos, but Rock knows that without the McMahons, there would be no Rock. Rock shot her a look. Steph sneered back like a brat, then kept on looking at him.

Steph went to Rock's family, saying High Chief, Rocky Johnson, and Dwayne Johnson would be nobody without Vince McMahon, Vince McMahon, Jr., and Stephanie McMahon. The crowd chanted for Shane McMahon, drawing an eyebrow from Rock. Rock replied that Steph would not be in power without Vince McMahon's "Johnson." Steph sarcastically said he's class as always. She then slapped Rock. Steph got in Rock's face, asking what he's going to do about it. Hit a woman? She said this is her company, her stadium, her ring, her people. She shouted in Rock's face to get out of the ring. Now.

Rock backed away from Stephanie and leaned against the ropes, drawing more sarcasm from Stephanie, who told him to keep on walking and step right out of the ring. Rock dropped down to the floor as Stephanie continued to taunt Rock. Rock then circled around the ring instead of heading to the back. He stopped at the Four Horsewomen sitting on the front row. "Ronda Rousey" chant from the crowd. The camera pulled back to show Ronda on the front row mean-mugging to a big reaction. Rousey then hopped the guardrail and pounded fists with Rock. JBL told Stephanie to run.

Rousey entered the ring as Rock held open the ropes. Rousey stood opposite Stephanie as Rock stood opposite Hunter to a big reaction. "Ronda's gonna kill you" chant, like a Samoa Joe chant. Rock spoke first. He said he would never hit a woman, but he has a very good friend who would be happy to. Steph smiled, saying this is a nice little surprise, but she is friends with Rousey. She said she is a big fan of Rousey. "Tell him, Ronda," she nervously said. "Ronda, please tell me Rock didn't fill you with all kinds of hopes and dreams having some kind of WrestleMania Moment."

"Ronda, Ronda" chant from the crowd. Steph said Ronda might be the most dangerous unarmed woman on the planet. She called her the queen of the octagon, and in the world of MMA, she would never try to mess with Ronda Rousey. But, this is the squared circle. "This is my ring," Stephanie said. "So, Ronda, unless you're going to sit over there and enjoy WrestleMania like a nice little fan, get the hell out of my ring."

Rock checked with Ronda, who told Steph with authority that any ring she steps into is hers. If she wants her to leave, then make me. Steph laughed. Steph repeated herself: "Get the hell out of my ring. Now." Ronda stood her ground, then Rock stepped in. He said he just has to tell Steph what that look from Ronda means. She said that means Ronda is going to reach inside her throat and play jump rope with her fallopian tubes.

Hunter spoke up that he's had enough. He said that's the last thing Rock is going to say about his wife. Rock said he could not agree more. Rock landed a right hand on Hunter, rocking him into the corner. Ronda then took down Hunter. Suddenly, Steph spun Ronda around. They went face-to-face as JBL pleaded with Stephanie not to do this. Steph went for a slap, but Ronda caught her, dragged her around the ring, and pushed her away. "She showed compassion," Cole said as the crowd booed a little, wanting to see a big takedown. They eventually cheered as Rock and Rousey stood tall in the ring. Rock said what that is called is being owned. Rock said that is The Rock and Ronda Rousey laying the Smackdown on your candyasses. Rock's music signed off as Hunter tried to check on Steph's right arm on the way out. Rock and Rousey then celebrated on the way out of the ring.

[ Reax: Are they setting up Hunter vs. Rock and Stephanie vs. Rousey at next year's WrestleMania? (Or at this year's Summeslam?) Interesting to see where this goes, if anywhere. ]

Live PPV - Hour #4

In-ring: With the sun starting to set for the Bray Wyatt vs. Undertaker match to try to do the entrances justice, Bray Wyatt's music played. Bray emerged on-stage holding a lantern to lead himself through the, well, twilight. Bray walked past a scarecrow-looking guy who started moving. Scarecrow zombies emerged from behind Bray to join him walking down to the ring. Once in the ring, Bray called out for The Undertaker. Cue the gong. Taker's music played and smoke filled the entrance stage, trying to create somewhat of a darkness for Taker to emerge through.

Undertaker returned to TV for the first time since losing at last year's WrestleMania dressed in a classic black hat, black jacket, black ring gear, and black gloves. JBL said they have to find out which Taker this is - a gunslinger returning for one last stand or returning to restart his career? Lawler said he doesn't care why, as he's just glad to see Taker at WrestleMania. Cole noted he's 21-1. Taker hit the ring steps, the lightning flashed, and Taker swung his jacket toward Bray once in the ring.

Taker stared a hole in Bray, who stood motionless. Taker then removed his hat and displayed the return of his jet-black hair. Bray sold fear with his eyes as Taker removed his jacket and prepared to go face-to-face with Bray. Taker has definitely added back weight to look full in his singlet. Taker looked very intimidating going back to the jet-black hair. Bray finally moved, then tried to fire himself up. He shouted that this is his moment and Taker will not take this away from him.


Before the bell sounded, Bray charged Taker, who intercepted with a big boot to the face. The bell sounded as Taker pounded on Bray, then went Old-School with the big clothesline from the ropes. "You still got it" chant from the crowd. Bray finally got in some offense with a knock-down sending Taker to the outside, but Taker landed on his feet. Bray tried to attack, but Taker dropped him to the floor. Taker then placed Bray on the ring apron for a big boot to the head. "Under-taker" chant from the crowd. Taker then delivered the big leg drop across the chest as Bray hung on the ring apron.

Standing in front of the Four Horsewomen, Taker smashed Bray into the barricade, then rolled him back into the ring. Taker returned to the ring and delivered a big corner attack. Taker went for Snake Eyes into the big boot, but Bray cut him off with a big clothesline. Bray lit up Taker with right hand strikes, then posed to the crowd. Taker fought back with a jab, but Bray smashed him with a corner attack for a one count.

Bray settled on a mathold, drawing a rally clap for Taker. Bray pounded on Taker's back, then Taker leaned up and glared toward Bray before dropping to the mat. Bray got excited, so he pounded Taker into the corner. Bray then went for a move smashing Taker's head into the ringpost, but he kind of hit the ring steps with his own knees. Cole and JBL talked about this perhaps not being the same Undertaker after what happened last year. But, Lawler told them to say no to negativity. Bray suddenly walked into Hell's Gate in the middle of the ring. Bray fought the hold, then punched free.

The crowd continued to sit quietly as Taker and Bray sold on the mat. The crowd tried to make noise to rally Taker, who slowly made it back to his feet. But, he walked into a side suplex from Wyatt. Bray covered for a nearfall, then he grabbed his left hamstring/back of his knee selling an injury. Bray collected himself in the corner, then hung upside down. Bray stalked Taker for Sister Abigail, but Taker grabbed him around the throat and "sat up" in mid-air. Taker then chokeslammed Wyatt.

Taker staggered on his feet, then targeted Bray for the Tombstone Piledriver. Taker set it up and delivered center-ring. Taker covered, JBL said Taker is back, and Bray kicked out before three, shocking Taker. Taker collected himself, then stood up looking for another Tombstone. But, Bray countered with Sister Abigail. Taker kicked out just before three, this time stunning Wyatt. The crowd came to life after the double nearfalls, then Bray sat up doing his upside down crawl. But, Taker sat up, freaking out Bray Wyatt. Bray shot Taker a look, then they crawled opposite each other.

Taker and Bray came to their feet and traded bombs. Double shots. Taker staggered. Taker down. Bray mocked Taker with the throat-slash gesture, then he scooped up Taker looking for another Sister Abigail. Kiss to the forehead, but Taker pushed him away and put Bray in the Tombstone. Taker connected on a second, then Taker covered for the pin and the win.

Post-match, they showed fans celebrating the return of The Undertaker as Taker looked toward the sky. WWE replayed the finish and fans getting to celebrate this year before cutting to a semi-dark Stadium for purple lighting and pyro to fill the sky. Taker knelt down and posed for the crowd as Cole declared that the big dog rules the yard again. Taker left the ring to cheers and looked around the stadium before WWE faded out.

WINNER: Taker at 15:12. Another good WrestleMania match. They kept it basic for Taker's first match in one year, gave the audience something else to celebrate trying to build goodwill, and gave Taker a win back to set up a headline match next year in Dallas. But, at some point Bray has to win a big match to be taken seriously after losing to John Cena last year at Mania. Of course, WWE did not draw attention to Bray losing last year during this build-up, but Bray has to be rehabbed now on television. (***)

Network plug: Chris Jericho is bringing his podcast to WWE Network with John Cena as his guest. The podcast is next Monday, April 6 following Raw. More plugs trying to get people to keep their subscription post-WrestleMania.

PPV plug: Extreme Rules next month.

Video Package: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns, with Paul Heyman providing the audio soundtrack.

In-ring: The Shield's music played and Roman Reigns made his first appearance of the night. And it was shoving a fan out of the way at the top of the arena for his in-crowd entrance. Middle fingers and boos greeted Reigns, who was escorted to the ring by police and security. Once Reigns entered the ring, Cole plugged the World Hvt. champion appearing on NBC's "Today Show" tomorrow morning. After a pause, Brock Lesnar's music played to loud cheers. Lesnar emerged on-stage with Paul Heyman smiling as he stood next to Lesnar. Lesnar bounced up and down, then stomped down to the ring. Based on the amount of time left, there isn't much room for a MITB cash-in. (Unless something crazy happens.)

Once everyone was in the ring, Lilian Garcia handled formal ring introductions. Universal boos for Roman Reigns, who stood motionless not acknowledging the boos. Heyman then took the mic to loud cheers and introduced himself, then Brock. Lesnar handed over the WWE World Title belt, then ref Mike Chioda held up the title belt for everyone to look at. WWE went to an overhead shot of the sun setting at Levi's Stadium as the bell sounded.

7 -- WWE World Hvt. champion BROCK LESNAR (w/Paul Heyman) vs. ROMAN REIGNS -- WWE World Hvt. Title match

Reigns tried to go after Lesnar, but Lesnar blocked him and gave him a big German Suplex. Lesnar came up bleeding from his cheek, then he smashed Reigns with a big F5. Lesnar opted not to cover Reigns, just stand in the corner soaking in what happened in the opening minute. The announcers talked about this being Lesnar toying with Reigns and looking to torment him, feeling like the presentation of Lesnar vs. John Cena at Extreme Rules 2012.

Reigns teased a comeback to boos, then Lesnar smashed him with another German Suplex. Lesnar paced the ring, then Reigns recovered in the corner and smiled, telling Brock to bring it harder. Lesnar delivered another suplex. "Suplex City, b----," Lesnar shouted at Reigns. Reigns tried to fight back with rights to boos, but Lesnar delivered another suplex. Lesnar got a crazy look in his eyes, then Reigns sat up smiling again. So, Lesnar delivered another German Suplex. Lesnar stalked Reigns as his cheek swelled up. Lesnar dominating is definitely trying to plant the seeds for the possibility of Reigns not winning to keep the crowd invested, following up on Heyman's pre-match TV hype of Reigns taking a major butt-kicking at WrestleMania.

Reigns sat up shaking his head, so Lesnar kneed him in the gut. Lesnar then suplexed Reigns onto the top rope. Lesnar smashed Reigns off the ring apron to the floor and Reigns shook his head selling the effects. Lesnar then charged Reigns for a shoulder to the gut, but Reigns sold blocking the move and stunning Lesnar. Reigns made a comeback to boos, but Lesnar caught Reigns's leg and smashed him with a clothesline down to the ground. They're building layers of Reigns getting in a little offense, Lesnar smashing him, and building up Reigns's comeback a little more each time.

Lesnar dragged Reigns back into the ring as JBL said this is about Lesnar having the WWE Title until he decides to give it up. Lesnar then suplexed Reigns out of the ring as the camera focused on Lesnar's facial cut. Reigns got up, so Lesnar tossed him back into the ring with an overhead suplex. "Eight" chant from the crowd, counting along with the suplexes. Reigns sold being knocked out, then Lesnar dropped Reigns with another F5. Cole said this is over, but Reigns kicked out at 9:00. Lesnar just smirked, saying this kid is crazy for continuing.

Gloves off for Lesnar. Lesnar stood over Reigns, then slapped him across the face. Reigns shook his jaw, then looked up at Lesnar saying he can take more. Reigns got more defiant, then he started smiling and laughing through blood. So, Lesnar picked up Reigns and suplexed him again. And again. "Ten!" the crowd shouted. Lesnar went for another F5, and he connected. Lesnar covered, but Reigns kicked out of a third F5. The crowd booed Reigns kicking out of a third F5, which ended Taker last year. Heyman shouted to Brock that Reigns is disrespecting him.

At 11:30, Lesnar dumped Reigns to the outside. On commentary, JBL said he saw Cena take a butt-kicking like this, trying to build up Reigns. Lesnar tried to attack Reigns on the floor, but Reigns posted Lesnar. Lesnar came up bleeding from the forehead, dripping blood. Lesnar nearly got counted out, rolling back into the ring at nine. The crowd almost wanted him to get counted out to make sure Reigns didn't win the title. Lesnar stood up, Super Reigns cocked his fist, the crowd booed, and Reigns delivered a Superman Punch. Lesnar did not go down, though. Another Superman Punch put Lesnar in the corner. Reigns tried a third, but Lesnar ducked. Reigns headbutted Lesnar's cut, then delivered a third Superman. Lesnar got up, wobbled around the ring, and Reigns delivered a spear to louder boos. Lesnar recovered to the corner, then Reigns delivered a second spear. Reigns covered, but Lesnar rolled a shoulder like half of a millisecond before three. It looked like the end.

Reigns recovered to the corner, then stalked Lesnar for another spear, but Lesnar ducked, and delivered another F5. Seth Rollins suddenly showed up with the MITB briefcase. He cashed in despite the match still ongoing. He handed over the briefcase and WWE suddenly changed the rules to this being a triple threat match.

7b -- WWE World Hvt. champion BROCK LESNAR (w/Paul Heyman) vs. ROMAN REIGNS vs. SETH ROLLINS -- WWE World Hvt. Title three-way match

The bell re-sounded and Rollins dumped Reigns out of the ring, then dropped Lesnar with a Curb Stomp. Suddenly, Lesnar scooped up Rollins for an F5, but Reigns hit the ring and speared Lesnar. But, Rollins discarded Lesnar and dropped Reigns with a Curb Stomp. Rollins pinned Reigns and it was good for the pin and the win.

Post-match, the crowd freaked out as Rollins jumped up and down in the ring. Rollins grabbed the belt and ran the heck away from the ring. The announcers tried to talk about the moment as Rollins celebrated on the stage, the top heel from The Authority making sure than ABR (Anybody But Reigns) was champion. They replayed the finish and showed Rollins standing tall on the stage. Brock recovered at ringside with Heyman while Reigns sold being stunned inside the ring while pyro shot off inside the Stadium. Cole signed off as they hit the top of the hour, ending the four-hour PPV.

WINNER: Rollins at 16:43 to capture the WWE World Hvt. Title. So, that happened. So many "outs" with Rollins/Authority changing the MITB rules by cashing in in the middle of match, so many possibilities post-Mania with Lesnar getting his title re-match down the road, Orton being in line for a title shot after beating Rollins, Reigns feeling wronged to set up a title match against Rollins, and how The Authority factors into things. But, the vocal crowd got what it wanted - Reigns took a beating and he did not get the comeback victory. Rather, Tyler Black from ROH finished WrestleMania as WWE World Hvt. champion. Crazy finish to a very good main event built around Lesnar as a powerhouse and protecting Reigns, who literally only had three moves in the match. (****)

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