Written by: Alexander Settee
Wrestlemania XXVII, March 27, 2011, Georgia Dome, Atlanta, GA
Announcers: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, Josh Matthews, Booker T & Jim Ross at various points
We open things up with our host for the evening, The Rock, and he milks the ovation for all its worth. It’s great to have him here I gotta say. He promises the most memorable Mania in history, mocks John Cena, and hits all the catchphrases, but of course does it in a far more entertaining manner then I could ever describe here.
Opening Match, World Heavyweight Championship: Edge (w/Christian) vs. Alberto Del Rio (w/Brodus Clay)
The Setup: Del Rio won the Royal Rumble and thereby earned the right to main event, or, well, jerk the curtain I guess here on the biggest night of the year. Going in, I’m thinking that this could be good so I’m looking forward to it.
The Action: Del Rio starts targeting the arm right off the bat as he had softened it up leading up to the show. It continues on the floor where he sends Edge to the barrier and rams the arm to the steps. Edge finally ducks a charge and Del Rio goes flying to the floor, with Edge soon following and laying him out again with a flip dive. Back in, Del Rio armdrags Edge off the top for 2. Edge gets a few flurries of offence in, but Del Rio keeps countering by going back to the arm and hooks the cross armbreaker at one point, but Edge makes the ropes. Rodriguez gets involved by knocking Edge’s foot off the ropes during a cover, but edge kicks out anyways. Clay lays out Christian on the floor while Edge gets a rollup for 2. He sets up for the spear, which misses and then Clay pulls him into the post. Del Rio gets him back in the armbreaker and locks it in, but Edge maneuvers into a pin so Del Rio has to let go. Edge hooks the inverted Sharpshooter while Christian gets revenge on Clay. Del Rio fights to escape and does so, but runs right into a spear and Edge gets teh pin to retain at 11:10. Then to add insult to injury, Edge and Christian vandalize Del Rio’s Rolls Royce on the way out. What an asshole.
The Verdict: This was fine, but it was also disappointing as I had bigger expectations for these guys. This would have fit right in on a good Smackdown. ***
Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio
The Setup: Mysterio kneed Rhodes in the face, rendering him no longer Dashing, and forcing him to wear a protective mask. Rhodes returned the favour a few weeks later and so here we have the grudge match.
The Action: Rhodes is all self conscious about his face, so Rey takes advantage until running into a knee. Rhodes then takes it to him, hitting a boot to the face for 2. He keeps trying to go for the knee brace unsuccessfully, but maintains control otherwise. He nails a delayed superplex that gets the crowd buzzing, but only gets a 2 count. Mysterio finally armdrags Rhodes to the floor and follows with a baseball slide and headscissors to the apron. In the ring he gets another headscissors and sets up the 619, but Rhodes blocks and slings him to the ropes for 2. He gets the knee brace off and Cole is excited that this will now be a fair fight, but that lets Mysterio nail a mmoonsault for 2. Mysterio then gets the mask off and nails the 619. He goes up, and hits knees, but comes back off the ropes with a kick for 2. Now Mysterio puts the mask on and nails headbutts. He then drops one from the top, but Rhodes kicks out. Cody has a vocal group of fans here tonight. Mysterio tries a dive, but Rhodes gets the knee brace and nails him. Back in, Cross Rhodes hits and gets the pin at 12:00.
The Verdict: The had talked about stealing the show over the past few weeks, but they definitey didn’t. Again, this didn’t feel like anything super special. **1/2
Wade Barrett, Justin Gabriel, Heath Slater & Eziekel Jackson vs. Big Show, Kane, Santino Marella & Kofi Kingston
The Setup: The Corre had been making a point of going after Big Show, so he brings some buddies here for an eight man. Vladimir Kozlov was supposed to be on the face team, but was laid out at Axxess of all places, so Kofi gets the call as the replacement as Barrett had beaten him for the IC Title and he wants revenge.
The Action: Slater starts out beating on Marella, but gets hiptossed and Show gets the tag. He backdrops Slater and tosses him around. Everyone ends up involved quickly and Marella gets Slater with the Cobra. Show follows with the Big Right Hand and that gets the pin at 1:33.
The Verdict: Obviously this was a “get guys on the show” deal and not a priority in any way. 1/2*
CM Punk vs. Randy Orton
The Setup: Nexus cost Orton the WWE Title back at Royal Rumble and the feud was on from there although they also brought up how Orton had done the same thing to Punk back in 08. Orton ended up kicking all the other Nexus members back to developmental on the way here so it’ll be one on one this time.
The Action: Punk had also destroyed Orton’s knee coming in here and it’s all taped up. Punk goes for it right away, but gets foiled and clotheslined to the floor. Out there he kicks the stairs into Orton’s knee and goes to work. Crossbody gets 2 and then he keeps his focus on the knee. He sets for the GTS, with Orton elbowing out, but Punk connects with a kick instead for 2. Orton crotches Punk on the top rope and takes him down with a superplex, but Punk kicks out at 2. Punk then lures him to the corner and posts the knee, then he pulls out Bret Hart’s ringpost figure four. Orton fires out with headbutts and nails a few clotheslines and a powerslam. Punk takes over again with kicks and hooks the Anaconda Vice, but Orton manage to roll to the ropes. The get up with Punk on the apron and Orton sends him to the post to setup the hanging DDT, which he also hits. He sets for the RKO, but Punk counters that by simply not getting to his feet. However that gives Orton the chance for the punt, but like on Monday the knee gives out. Punk stalks him, but Orton almost gets the RKO, with Punk just avoiding it at the last second. Then he tries a springboard, but that’s how Orton gets the RKO and that gets the 3 count at 14:47.
The Verdict: This was another good match, but so far no one has really done anything that makes this feel like a bigger show than any other PPV. ***
Hall of Fame Roll Call: Abdullah The Butcher, Sunny, The Road Warriors, Drew Carey, Bullet Bob Armstrong, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, and Shawn Michaels. Duggan is the only undercard guy who seems to get much of a reaction, and of course Shawn gets a big pop for his entrance.
Michael Cole (w/Jack Swagger) vs. Jerry “The King” Lawler
The Setup: This built for months as they argued over Cole’s support of The Miz, which culminated in Cole costing Lawler a TLC match for the Title back in December. It continued building from there until Lawler had finally had enough and challenged Cole to a match. Cole has been trained by Jack Swagger, who will be in his corner and Stone Cold Steve Austin will be the guest referee.
The Action: Cole seems to be having the time of his life with this gimmick, so good for him. He comes out cutting a promo running down both Lawler and Jim Ross (who is out for commentary along with Booker T), but is wearing this bright orange singlet and amateur headgear that is just too goofy for a serious feud. Austin’s entrance drives him to the safety of the Cole Mine and he stalls things out by doing his warmups from there. Austin rings the bell so Lawler can attack, but first Lawler has to dispose of Swagger. Once he’s laid out, Cole offers a handshake through the hole, but Lawler yanks him forward to the glass. Lawler jumps in and lays a beating on him, but when he goes to get Cole in the ring, Swagger attacks. Cole nails a baseball slide and distracts Austin so Swagger can hook the ankle lock for a moment. Cole starts working on the ankle very methodically with Swagger yelling advice and even uses a much weakened version of Swagger’s Vader Bomb for 2. There’s not much going on, but the crowd seems stoked waiting for the big comeback. He hooks the An-Cole Lock, but Lawler fights out and starts stomping a mudhole. Swagger tries throwing in the towel, but Austin’s having none of that. He pleads his case, and of course takes a Stunner for his troubles. Cole begs for it to be stoppeed and slaps Austin, so Austin shoves him into Lawler’s right hand. He follows with a dropkick, then drops the fist off the 2nd rope, but pulls him up at 2. He wants his own ankle lock and Cole taps immediately, but Austin drags it out before calling for the bell until finally calling it off at 13:46. Beer bash follows and Booker T wants to join in as well. He does a Spinarooni, but then gets Stunnered as well. Next the Raw GM interrupts and announces via Josh Matthews that because Austin overstepped his authority, Lawler has been disqualified and Cole is actually the winner. That earns Matthews a Stunner as well and leaves Lawler dejected, but he got to kill Cole, and that’s what really counts. This leaves JR and Lawler as the announcers for the rest of the show.
The Verdict: This probably could have been shorter as all it really needed to be was Lawler destroying him. There’s nothing wrong with reversing the decision and continuing the feud afterwards, but Cole shouldn’t have been on offence as much as he was. And come on, for the big night they really wouldn’t let him pull out a piledriver? *
Triple H vs. The Undertaker
The Setup: HHH came back and basically said that ending the streak was all he’s got left to do so the match is on with no DQ’s and no countouts.
The Action: They brawl to the floor with HHH being sent to the steps. Taker preps the announce table, but HHH spears him through the Cole Mine. Taker sits up and nails a flying clotheline in the ring. Old School is countered by tossing Taker off the top and HHH clotheslines him back to the floor. Now HHH preps the English table, but gets backdropped off of it to the floor. HHH slowly makes his way to his feet, so Taker connects with his dive to the floor. They fight on the steps, with Taker coming down and charging at him, but getting spinebustered through the Spanish table. Back in, HHH takes a chokeslam, but kicks out at 2. HHH mounts him in the corner, which screams mistake, but HHH slips out of the Last Ride. They trade more finisher tries with HHH hitting a spinebuster and getting 2. He brings in a chair, but Taker kicks it away and uses it himself, but now HHH kicks it away out of nowhere and hits a Pedigree. The crowd buzzes, but Taker kicks out at 2. Last Ride comes next, but that’s only another 2 count. He goes for the Tombstone and gets it, but HHH kicks out again. Next idea is a Tombstone on a chair, but HHH counters to a DDT on the chair. They dramatically pull themselves up and HHH hits another Pedigree, but that’s just a 2 count as well. HHH hits a third one, but once more Taker gets the shoulder up. Now he lays in the chairshots, demanding that Taker stay down, but Taker keeps stirring and even pulls himself up, so HHH nails him once more in the head (which they were supposedly fined for). He keeps demanding that Taker give it up, but he won’t, so he nails a Tombstone of his own. He dow the fold the arms cover like Taker would, but Taker kicks out again. The sledgehammer gets pulled out next, but as he goes to use it, Taker locks him in the Hell’s Gates. HHH fights it, struggling to find the ropes or the sledge, or any way out. He does get the sledge, but can’t hang on and eventually has nowhere left to go so he taps out at 29:24. They play it up like Taker won by the skin of his teeth and in spite of getting the win, he actually came out of it worse then HHH as he walks out while Taker has to be carted from the ring.
The Verdict: It’s the kind of match you can’t do every week, but for the biggest show of the year it’s appropriate. The last twenty minutes or so was very slow paced as they just would do one big move, then the nearfall, and then lay around selling until it was time to repeat, but the crowd was crazy into it and lost their minds on pretty much every one of them so I can’t fault them for doing what they knew would get over. They’ll try and sell to us that it was an all time classic, but it really wasn’t and certainly wasn’t at the level of the Shawn matches the last two years. Still it was easily the best match on the show. ****
Dolph Ziggler (w/Vickie Guerrero) & Laycool vs. John Morrison, Trish Stratus, & Snooki
The Setup: Something had to follow that last match, so we get this one.
The Action: Catfight starts things off with the men pulling them apart so Snooki smacks Ziggler. Trish and Michelle start and Trish lays in some chops, but gets booted when trying the Matrix. Faith Breaker is countered as is the headscissors and they end up tumbling to the floor. Back in, Trish gets a Chick Kick, but Ziggler makes the save at 2. Morrison lays Ziggler out and then Snooki get sthe tag. She comes in with a handspring elbow on Michelle and then does a cartwheel into a splash for the 3 count at 3:14.
The Verdict: For the spot it was in and the time that it had, it was fine. 1/2*
Main Event, WWE Championship Match: The Miz (w/Alex Riley) vs. John Cena
The Setup: Pretty much all the buildup here has been surrounding the involvement of The Rock and what will happen between him and Cena. Miz has been pretty incidental, but he does get a really great video package building him up here.
The Action: The feeling out process ends with Miz hitting a cheapshot and putting the boots to Cena. Cena comes back with a gutwrench suplex for 2. He gets the top rope legdrop for another 2, but then misses a charge. Miz methodically takes it to him and this just doesn’t even come close to feeling like a Mania Main Event at this point. Cena comes back again with the shoulderblocks and Protobomb, followed by the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Miz avoids the AA and hits a DDT for 2. The neckbreaker gets another 2. Miz goes for a buckle pad, but the ref gets it away. While he tries putting it back on, Cena gets a small packagae which eventually gets 2, and the pad does not get put back properly. Miz avoids the AA again, but gets locked in the STF. Shockingly he makes the ropes rather than escaping via any sort of cheating, but then Riley rams Cena to the exposed buckle. Miz follows with the SCF, but Cena kicks out at 2. He tries it again, but that leads to a ref bump so no one is there to count after Cena hits the AA. Riley gets in again and nails Cena with the briefcase, but that only gets 2 as well. Miz gets the briefcase, but wipes out his buddy leading to another AA, but Miz gets to kick out. A lot of people seemd to think that was the finish. They go outside where Cena clotheslines him over into the timekeepers pit and then tackles him over the barrier and into the crowd with Miz’s head sickeningly bouncing off the floor. That gives us something I never would have predicted in a million years: The Wrestlemania Main Event ends in a double count out at 14:45. Here comes The Rock, to say good night and close the show I guess, but then we get a message from the Raw GM. Rock goes to read it, but then it doesn’t matter what the GM thinks and he orders that the match be restarted until we have a winner. So, Cena goes for the AA, but walks right into a Rock Bottom. Miz crawls for the cover and gets the 3 count to retain at 15:21. Miz of course takes a beating from Rock as well with Rock hitting a Rock Bottom and celebrating to close the show.
The Verdict: I felt that it started slow, but definitely picked up by the end before the lame double count out. Then they basically sacrificed this year’s main event for the sake of building next year’s main event. Hopefully they know what they’re doing. **1/2
Overall Thoughts: I don’t think this was a very strong Wrestlemania at all. HHH/Taker was good with all the drama they build for each nearfall and then the drawn out submission at the end, and there was other good stuff in Edge/Del Rio and Punk/Orton, but with the exception of HHH/Taker nothing really felt all that different from what you might get on any other PPV in terms of match quality. Cole/Lawler had the great buildup, and although Cole got his beating that once seemed like it could have been done much better. The main event was also a disappointment . Our big payoff was Rock costing Cena the match and then we find out they’re going to Wrestlemania next year. I’ll be up for that one when it comes, but for now it’s kinda weak. All in all, it wasn’t a bad show or anything, but there was definitely a lot of missed potential. Thumbs in the Middle for Wrestlemania XXVII.