Mike Reviews Every WrestleMania Main Event – XXVI to XXX

Hello You!

So we’ve had a bit of drama this week in the wrestling world haven’t we? This year’s WrestleMania is now supposedly in the can, but it won’t have Roman Reigns as he’s quite reasonably pulled out due to his previous health issues.

I’m in two minds as to what to include for this feature considering that this year’s Mania is going to be over two shows. Should I review the last match on each night or should I just review the final match on night two? Oh well, I’ll deal with that as it comes I think.

Once again, thoughts with you if you’re having to isolate or any of your friends or relatives have been hit by COVID-19. It’s been a real pisser all told hasn’t it? Hopefully reading this can give you a bit of a distraction.

Please feel free to check my archives for the previous Mania Main Event reviews.

Anyway, that’s enough chatter from me, let’s watch some chuffing wrestling!

WrestleMania XXVI

Main Event
The Streak Vs Career
The Undertaker Vs Shawn Michaels

This was simple story telling done well, as Shawn had lost to Taker the previous year and wanted another shot at breaking the streak, so stalked him for months to get it. Taker denied him the match over and over, and after Shawn had failed to win the Royal Rumble he decided to cost Taker the World Title in an Elimination Chamber match to finally get him to agree to the rematch. Taker made a demand though, which was that Shawn had to put his career on the line so that Taker didn’t have to keep worrying about Shawn trying the same tactic every year. Shawn agreed, because in his words “If I can’t beat you, then I don’t have a career!”

After an epic stare-down, we start quickly, with Taker wasting no time going Old School. Taker sells his leg following that though, which leads us to one of our main story points of the match, as Shawn targets the leg. People probably weren’t expecting a lot of leg work coming into this one, which is a good example of how these two guys can mix things up to the keep the audience guessing. In a nice touch, Taker fights back but then sells his leg after a leg drop, which allows Shawn to go to the Figure Four. Taker eventually fights out of that and we get a slug fest, which ends with a Choke Slam for two.

The Tombstone Piledriver looks to end things, but Shawn counters that into an ankle lock, which leads to him even getting the hooks in for good measure in a nice call back to his battle with Kurt Angle at Mania 21, where Angle used that very hold to defeat him. I love the idea of Shawn using a move that he himself lost to in order to win a big match down the line. Shawn is not as proficient a submission grappler as “The Olympic Hero” though, as Taker manages to fight out. Shawn responds by sending Taker outside and then following with an Asai moonsault, only for Taker to catch him in a call back from the previous Mania match between the two and then Tombstone him on the floor. Taker chucks Shawn back in the ring following that, but HBK manages to kick out at two.

Taker goes for the Last Ride to finish things, but Shawn counters that into a face buster for two when Taker’s leg gives out on him to pay off the earlier leg work. Shawn heads up for the elbow, but Taker gets the knees up and then tries for the Hell’s Gate, only for Shawn to counter it into a pinning hold for two. Sweet Chin Music follows, but that only gets two as well, so Shawn tries it again, only for Taker to counter THAT into the Last Ride for a two of his own. Great near fall and Shawn took a mega bump off the move to boot. We head outside, where Taker preps the American announce table for all kinds of horrors. The Last Ride through the table looks to end it, but Shawn slips out and super kicks Taker onto the table before heading up top with a moonsault to put him through it.

Shawn puts Taker inside for yet another Sweet Chin Music, but Taker once again kicks out. Shawn tries it again, but ends up eating a Choke Slam/Tombstone combo, which gets two in a great near fall that calls back to the previous match between the two men. Shawn seems all but done following that, but Taker seems unwilling to finish him off. Shawn won’t stand for any mercy being shown to him though and demands that Taker finish him before slapping him. Taker obliges by getting a vicious jumping Tombstone and that’s it for a career for Shawn (Until the Saudi’s coax him back with a truck load of money of course)

WINNER: THE UNDERTAKER
RATING: ***3/4

A very good match but it kind of felt a bit rushed actually, especially as Shawn’s career was on the line. It just didn’t have the same epic feel of the match from the previous year, even though the stakes were higher. It was still a good match though and I enjoyed it. Some of the call backs were really clever and you can tell both men put a lot of thought into things, which I liked.

WrestleMania XXVII

Main Event
WWE Title
Champ: The Miz w/ Alex Riley Vs John Cena

Miz cashed in Money in the Bank the night after Survivor Series 2010 to defeat Randy Orton for the belt. He was then booked as a very weak Champion, needing help to beat commentator Jerry Lawler in a TLC match amongst some of the notable “lowlights” of his Title run. It was almost a repeat of Chris Jericho’s Title reign in 2001/2002, where he often only won because someone else ran in to help him rather than him being an effective heel that was able to win on his own through treachery. Cena had spent the build-up squabbling with Mania guest host Rock, with Miz mostly being an afterthought. They did belatedly let Miz beat Cena up to try and get some heat on him on a Raw near the show, but it was really too late at that stage.

Miz does at least get a superstar entrance on the show itself, with a music video and an inflatable “AWESOME” sign on the stage for him to barge past. Cena meanwhile gets a gospel choir, which the fans still mostly boo because they hate Cena so much. I can only imagine what those poor people in the choir thought about all that. Hopefully someone smartened them up so they didn’t take it personally. This match has a reputation for being absolutely atrocious, but that would be a bit of an exaggeration in my opinion. It’s your standard TV Main Event from this era, but it happens to be closing out a WrestleMania instead of an episode of Smackdown, so a better standard of bout is expected.

Miz tries to be all aggressive and heelish, but it doesn’t feel authentic because he’d been booked so weakly of the past few months that it was pretty much impossible for anyone to buy him as bad ass. Cena’s performance is really just “there” as well, as “Big Match John” clearly decided to stay home for this one. Cena spends a lot of time selling to try and make Miz look dangerous, but the crowd has no sympathy for him and Miz has no credibility as a Main Eventer, so it’s wasted effort. Miz is one of those guys made for the Honky Tonk Man style IC Title push, and indeed when he got a chance to perform that role he did really well, but that sort of thing doesn’t work in the World Title picture.

There is one noticable botch where Miz sends Cena off and drops down, causing Cena to take a thoroughly awful bump by collapsing in a very inelegant manner. That looked awful. Cena finally gets some sustained offence with the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Miz counters the F-U into a DDT for two before following up with a neck breaker for another two count. Cena avoids getting thrown into an unprotected buckle and goes to the STFU, but Miz makes the ropes to break the hold. Cena does eventually go into the buckle courtesy of Riley, which leads to Miz getting The Skull Crushing Finale for two. That was a decent near fall actually and was well executed.

The ref gets bumped, which means there is no one to count when Cena gets the F-U. Riley comes in and hits Cena with a briefcase, which allows Miz to get a two count from the revived referee in another nicely done near fall. For the most part the work hasn’t been bad here, the match has just been dull and not what you’d want from a match in this slot on the card. It’s been pretty paint by the numbers, which you don’t want from a big Mania match. Heel miscommunication sees Miz knock Riley off the apron and another F-U follows from Cena for two. For such a generally uneventful bout, I have to say that those last three big near falls were excellent.

What follows after that is the spot this match is probably best known for, as the brawl heads outside and Cena spears Miz off the barricade to the floor, leading to Miz cracking his head off the concrete with a sickening thud, concussing himself in the process. I’m not really sure if that Cena’s fault or Miz just didn’t bump properly, but either way that was really grim and they probably shouldn’t have even had that spot planned in the first place honestly. This leads to a double count out, but guest host Rock isn’t going to let the Mania Main Event end like that on his watch, so he marches down and restarts things under No DQ rules. Rock uses this opportunity to drop Cena with a Rock Bottom though, which leads to Miz following his usual MO of crawling over to pin his opponent after someone else has already done all the work, which is enough for him to Honky Tonk his way to another victory.

WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: THE MIZ
RATING: **

Rock destroys Miz post-match, just to make sure no one but the part timer who isn’t going to be there next week doesn’t get over. This match was a major disappointment for a Mania Main Event, but as a match it wasn’t a disaster or anything. Definitely one of the worst show closers in Mania history though. To think that they sent them out there with THAT match to do when they already knew that this feud was a cold one is mind boggling. A exceedingly flat way to end the biggest show of the year.

WrestleMania XXVIII

Main Event
“Once In A Lifetime”
John Cena Vs The Rock

Building on from the previous match, we get Rock taking on Cena in his home town. At the time I was expecting a Cena win and was fine with it, as I was guessing Rock would be done after it so it made sense for him to put Cena over, but Rock’s status with the company would prove to be a bit more stable that I first imagined.

Puff Daddy intro’s MGK to do a song for John Cena, with the female vocalist struggling a bit until they turn on the auto tune for her. Due to them being pro-Cena they get booed of course. I do love how the insanely muscular multiple time World Champ is supposed to be an “underdog” in anything, especially as his opponent is a movie star who hasn’t worked a full schedule since 2002. For me the story of Rock being the returning veteran taking on the young gun and being at a disadvantage would make far more sense. Flo Rider handles things musically for Rock, playing the sort of music that I would pretend to enjoy when out clubbing with my mates who like that sort of stuff whilst patiently hoping that Wonderwall would get played towards the end of the night so that there was something I could actually sing along to.

We get the epic stare-down before the big lock up, as they seem to be going for a Hogan/Warrior like vibe with this one. Parity is established early, whilst the crowd mostly just hates on Cena. The crowd heat is great, as the stadium is fizzing like an Alka-Seltzer. This match is sadly lacking Jim Ross on commentary to really sell the epicness of this collision. Cena eventually takes Rock down with a bear hug to try and wear him down. Rock fights out of that but gets low bridged to the outside, where Cena drops him onto the barricade and then the American commentary table, both times targeting the ribs.

Cena continues to control things inside, staying on the mid-section. Rock eventually manages to fight out of another bear hug and gets a DDT before making the comeback. People’s Elbow looks to come next, but Cena stops that and makes his own comeback before delivering the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena embraces the hate from the crowd by smirking whilst prepping for the F-U, but Rock slips out and a double clothesline leads to a double down. “Boo” and “Yay” punches follow once both men are up, I’ll leave it up to you to guess which wrestler was getting what reaction, but Cena brings that to a close by getting an F-U for two.

Rock immediately gets a Rocker Bottom out of nowhere in reply for two, with Cena’s kick out completely taking the air out of the stadium. That was incredible to just see the crowd deflate like that, they really love The Rock. Cena heads up for a leg drop to the back of the head for two. Kobashi won a Triple Crown with that once! I guess that means The Rock is tougher than Akira Taue? Feel free to share your thoughts on that in the comment section. Rock gets out of another F-U attempt and applies The Sharpshooter, but Cena makes the ropes to break the hold.

Another Sharpshooter looks to end it, but Cena refuses to tap and makes the ropes once again. Rock drags Cena outside and sends him into the steps, but Cena gets the STFU back inside out of nowhere to boo’s from the crowd. Rock teases passing out, but eventually drags himself to the ropes. That was a great submission tease. Sometimes they can be just as effective as a pin near fall if done right, and they did that one right.

Rock gets a desperation Samoan Drop and then follows up with the People’s Elbow for two. The fans are bemused after that one, and Cena almost wins it with an inside cradle straight after for two. Rock is starting to look really tired here. He’s starting to resemble the Andross final boss battle from Star Fox on the SNES actually, which is a gag I think Maffew used on one of the Botchamania’s once. Rock uncharacteristically takes us back to 1997 by heading up for a top rope cross body block, but Cena rolls through into the F-U for another tight near fall. Cena foolishly attempts his own People’s Elbow though, which allows Rock to catch him with the Rock Bottom for the surprise three count.

WINNER: THE ROCK
RATING: ***1/2

I think others have gone higher for this one, but it never got into four star territory for me. I enjoyed it though and the closing section was very good, even if the middle section felt like it didn’t really go anywhere with all the rib work. Not a disappointment, but not a classic either.

WrestleMania 29

Main Event
WWE Title
Champ: The Rock Vs John Cena

Rock ended CM Punk’s epic reign as WWE Champ at the Royal Rumble whilst Cena won the Rumble match itself to set up this big rematch for the Title. Such a thing kind of makes a mockery of all the WWE’s “Once In A Lifetime” hype from the previous year of course, but hey-ho. I would have personally preferred Punk to keep the Title and defend it against Undertaker, as this match didn’t need the belt and Punk probably deserved to go out on his shield at the biggest event of the year.

We don’t get the big grand entrances this year, as both men come straight on down for the match. The ring introductions even feel kind of lowkey as well. The crowd at least seems in to the action, which is a pleasant change considering the crowd for this Mania isn’t one of the best when it comes to reactions, with a lot of the undercard getting very little. It’s all rather even in the early going, similar to the match from the previous year. Cena controls for a bit, working a chin lock, but Rock replies to that by going to a sleeper.

The match kind of just trundles along, with there being no real flow or story being told. Nothing looks bad though and things do eventually pick up with some slick counters from both men leading to Rock going to The Sharpshooter. Cena works his way out of that and gets the Proto-Plex before missing the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Rock pounces with a DDT, but the Rock Bottom gets countered into a crossface. Rock gets out of that and goes for the People’s Elbow, but that gets countered into the STFU.

Rock powers out of that and gets a Rock Bottom for two, only for Cena to pop up with an F-U for a two of his own. Cena misses the top rope leg drop and The Elbow follows that for two, as this has seemingly become a game of Smackdown on the PS1 where everyone has maximum finishers going into the match and just spams L1 at every opportunity. Case in point, Rock gets the Rock Bottom for another two and then attempts the Five Knuckle Shuffle, only to get caught with the F-U for two.

That was a nice callback to previous year actually. “Boo” and “Yay” punches make their return next, which ends with Cena getting a Rock Bottom of his own for two. Cena decides to try The People’s Elbow again like he did last year, but this time he knows Rock’s kip up is coming and goes for the F-U, only for Rock to slip out and get the Rock Bottom for two. This finishing stretch has been very silly, but it’s also been fun as well. The absolute definition of “Video Game Wrestling”, with loads of big moves and little else. Still, there is a place for that sometimes. Rock tries one more Rock Bottom, but Cena counters to the F-U for the win.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: JOHN CENA
RATING: ***

Not as good as the previous year, but the home stretch entertained me, even if it was really daft. Rock endorses Cena post-match to pass the torch and bring this story to a close.

WrestleMania XXX

Main Event
WWE and World Titles
Champ: Randy Orton Vs Batista Vs Daniel Bryan

This was a rare occasion where WWE actually listened to the fans, as this was originally supposed to be just Orton Vs Batista whilst Bryan took on Sheamus in the mid-card. However, crowd after crowd was so vocal about their love for Bryan that WWE eventually added him into the Main Event following a really great “Occupy Raw” segment, where Bryan and the fans took over the show until he got a match with Triple H where the winner would get into the Main Event. Bryan had defeated Triple H in a classic earlier in the evening, but Triple H had jumped him post-match so he’s carrying injuries going into this one.

Orton gets his music sung live and looks annoyed that he has to lug the two belts around with him. They’d eventually just create one specific belt later in the year. Batista was promised to come in as the conquering hero babyface, but the fans love for Bryan essentially turned him heel by default, which is a role he’s better suited to anyway. Bryan is still selling the Triple H beat down. There’s a lovely clip from one of the Bella’s/Diva’s shows actually where Bryan is talking to Brie following that Triple H match and all he seems to care about his whether her match has been cut because it got cut the previous year and he knows how much that upset her and he doesn’t want it to happen again. Stuff like that shows why he’s such a lovely bloke really.

This is a standard Triple Threat match early, with two guys going at it in the ring whilst the other sells outside. The momentum shifts often, with the match soon descending into a brawl outside the ring. Bryan sells his injuries throughout and the crowd is invested whenever he is involved, but less so when the other two go at it. Bryan gets the Yes Lock on Orton, which brings Triple H and Stephanie McMahon down to take out the referee and bring in dodgy heel ref Scott Armstrong. Bryan refuses to stay down however and manages to kick Armstrong before taking out all three with a suicide dive.

Triple H grabs his trusty sledgehammer, but Bryan ends up clocking him with it. This leads to Orton and Batista deciding that Bryan is going to wreck their chances, so they powerbomb him through a commentary table to seemingly take him out of proceedings. The fans hoped that CM Punk was going to come down to rescue Bryan there, but that wasn’t on the cards sadly due to Punk walking out earlier in the year. Bryan does the big stretcher job to really sell the bump, as the commentators push that he’s done.

Bryan getting taken out really takes the air out of the crowd, but Bryan refuses to stay down and drags himself off the stretcher in a fantastic example of gutsy babyface selling. Hot take; Bryan Danielson is an outstanding professional wrestler. Bryan almost gets both men with desperation Yes Locks, but the other man breaks it up on both occasions. There’s a great near fall when Orton RKO’s Batista, and another when Bryan catches Orton with a Busaiku Knee only for Batista to steal the pin for two. Batista powerbombs Orton, but Bryan catches him with the Yes Lock and Big Dave uncles to give Bryan the belts.

WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: DANIEL BRYAN
RATING: ****

Good action and great storytelling, as they did everything they could to tease that Bryan wouldn’t win but then eventually gave him his moment. Sadly Bryan’s run on top wouldn’t last due to injuries, but this was something that no one can ever take away from him. Man, it’s nice to see babyfaces prevail isn’t it?

So there we go, five more matches in the bag. Outside of Mania 27, every match was good in some manner and even Mania 27 was a dull match as opposed to an awful one. I might review Mania 27 at some point actually, as I tend to like it more than others do and it’s not like I’m lacking for free time right now considering the UK is in lockdown. We’ll see what happens.