Written by: Colin Rinehart
WWE Wrestlemania XXVIII
April 1st, 2012
Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida
“Once in a Lifetime”
- So here we are, after a year of waiting, Wrestlemania 28, The Rock vs. John Cena, in Miami, Florida. I must admit I passed out after tying off a few at a friend’s barbeque during the day so I wound up passing out sometime after Undertaker/Triple H faced off, so here we are a few hours later with the show in the books and me avoiding spoilers on the interwebs like the plague, and let’s do this thing the right way what do ya say?
- Pre Show Match
WWE Tag Team Title Match
Epico/Primo © vs. Tyson Kidd/Justin Gabriel vs. Jimmy Uso/Jey Uso
The pre-show returns this year with an actual match! I didn’t realize Kidd and Gabriel were tagging at this point, but hey it’s not like they’re doing anything else, right? Kidd starts us off with one of the Uso’s in a neat victory roll, but Primo flies in with a missile dropkick moments later, quickly tagging in and out with his partner and working over the Uso brother in a neutral corner. Epico looks to superplex one of the Uso’s but Tyson Kidd decides “Hey it’s Wrestlemania, let’s just go balls out” and powerbombs Epico while he superplexes the Uso brother off the top in a Tower of Doom spot. Primo tags in just as Gabriel does but both get taken out by the Uso’s anyways with the old Samoan ass-slams in the corner. Primo gets dumped to the floor and then Epico gets tossed out on top of him, only for Jey Uso to come flying off the top rope with a cross body and take both men out seconds later! Gabriel loses his grip on a top rope spot but regains composure to hit a big Asai moonsault and wipe everyone out on the floor as everyone is just going balls to the wall here for the pre-show match. Back in the ring Gabriel tries for a springboard 450, but Epico gets his knees up to block. One of the Uso’s flies off the top with a splash, but Epico grabs him and gives him the backstabber to pick up the win and retain the titles at 5:04. Quite the fun pre-show match here as these are some of the more motivated young high flyers on the roster and they decided to just go all out here for five minutes since it’s Wrestlemania. **3/4Your hosts are Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler
- World Heavyweight Title Match
Daniel Bryan © vs. Sheamus
Well hey at least they actually made the PPV this year, right? There are tons of “Yes!” signs in the front rows, but no sign will stop Sheamus from squashing Bryan here, which he does in near record time with a Brogue Kick to pick up the title at a whopping 0:19. Well, that’s one way to start the show. A bit disappointing given the warm reaction for Bryan and I’m sure they could have had a good match if given proper time, but they’ve got a lot in the cards for tonight so it’s understandable. 1/4*
- Backstage The Miz tries to rally Team Johnny behind him but they don’t seem to really care. David Otunga introduces Johnny in a cheesy all white suit to give the troops a warm up speech.
- Kane vs. Randy Orton
Weird that Orton always seems to wind up wrestling in the first hour of ‘Mania these last few years. He takes it right to Kane from the bell, shrugging off a chokeslam tease, but when he tries to give Kane the second rope DDT, he counters with a big boot to the skull. Kane slaps a chinlock on then just socks Randy in the jaw with his right hand and follows up with a side-slam for a two count. Beautiful vertical suplex from Kane nets him the same count. Orton counters a backbreaker into his one of his own and then fires off a powerslam before tossing Kane shoulder-first into the steel ring post. Orton hits the second-rope DDT this time and then looks to hit the RKO, but Kane counters with another boot to the skull. Kane tries for the top rope clothesline but Orton dropkicks him in mid air. He looks to set up for the punt, but Kane meets him with a chokeslam instead for two. Kane blocks another RKO attempt and Orton looks to set up for a top rope move, but instead Kane chokeslams him off the top rope and picks up the surprising win at 10:58. Much better than some of Kane’s recent outings against Cena, this was a nicely structured little mid-card match. Glad to see Kane get the semi upset win too, he could use it after that disastrous Cena feud. **1/2
- Backstage Santino Marella, Mick Foley, nd Captain Keith from the TV show The Deadliest Catch all go ape-shit busting up some crab legs when Ron Simmons strolls on in to give us a “Damn!” and remind us he’s not dead. Always appreciated Ron, see you in another two years.
- WWE Intercontinental Title Match
Cody Rhodes © vs. Big Show
This feud has consisted almost entirely of Cody poking fun at Big Show’s terrible Wrestlemania record, so he likely doesn’t stand a chance here. Cody tries to surprise Show with a pescado out of the ring but the big man just catches him. Show totally dominates to start with his power, tossing Cody around like a doll, but he manages to get the big man off his feet and work over his leg briefly. Cody hits the Beautiful Disaster kick once and then tries a second one, but Show spears him in mid-air and hits the WMD punch to pick up the win and end Cody’s near record title reign at 5:19. I have no clue why they felt the need to end Cody’s reign for a throwaway Big Show Wrestlemania win, this wasn’t terribly offensive or anything, just dull because you knew the outcome. *
- Kelly Kelly/Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix/Eve Torres
I’d complain about Maria getting tossed onto this show at the last minute if I or anyone else actually cared about the divas division, but that’s just a laughable thought at this point. Eve and Kelly start us off with Kelly firing off a hurricanrana. Eve blocks a back handspring elbow and then looks to set up for the moonsault, but Kelly blocks it and tags Maria in so the two faces can give her a double stinkface. Big “Daniel Bryan!” chants here for the second or third time tonight, followed by a “Yes!” chant. I love how smarky the ‘Mania audiences always are. Maria plays our face in peril as the heels trade tags and work her over, but it’s not like the crowd actually cares or anything. Kelly gets the “hot” tag if you want to call it that and then delivers a pretty awesome somersault senton off the top onto Beth for a near fall. Kelly counters the Glam-Slam into a bulldog and tags Maria, but she takes forever to go to the top rope and Beth grabs her only for Maria to counter into a roll-up for the fluke win at 6:49. Match was fine from a structure standpoint but the fans were more interested in chanting for Daniel Bryan than they were in this match. 1/4*
- Shawn Michaels is backstage with Matt Striker as we’re moments away from the “End of an Era” Cell match. Shawn talks about having the power in his hands to end an era again and then we cut back to the ring as Justin Roberts announces a new attendance record for the Sun Life stadium tonight with an announced 78,363 in attendance. Just to add to the “Attitude Era” theme we’ve got going for our next match up, Jim Ross is introduced (and sporting a new beard that makes him look like the Star Trek evil universe version of himself) to help call our next match-up, and all is right in the world of commentary for a brief and wonderful moment.
- “End of an Era” Hell in a Cell Match
Undertaker vs. Triple H
Shawn Michaels is our guest referee here of course. They keep the entrances short (well, short for them) and Undertaker pulls back his hood to reveal his new buzz-cut. The cell gets it’s own Metallica entrance theme this year and the we’re off as the bell rings and we’ve got a straight up slugfest to start. The action spills to the floor quickly and Hunter takes a back bump on the floor. Taker sends Triple H shoulder-first into the steel steps but back in the ring Hunter hits a knee on the dead man and it has no effect. ‘Taker works over the arm and goes Old School for a big pop. Back outside the ring again he slams the steel steps right into Hunter’s face as if it were a steel chair before sliding them into the ring. Back inside Hunter fires off a DDT to regain a bit of momentum and then tries to pedigree ‘Taker on the steps, but he takes a huge back body drop instead. Hunter gives him a nasty Double A spinebuster right onto the steel steps but the dead man just uses that as a chance to try and lock on the Hell’s Gate submission. Hunter just picks him up and slams him for a two count though. Hunter grabs a couple of chairs from under the ring and waffles ‘Taker over the back with one of them. Triple H slams Taker into the steps in the corner and then slams the steel chair over his back a total of nine times before HBK can momentarily back him off. He goes right back to it though, slamming the chair over him a few more times. Hunter wants Taker to quit via chairshot apparently, but he won’t have any of it as he just keeps getting back up like the quasi-zombie he is, kicking out of another pin attempt. Hunter seems to be slightly busted open above his eye (not sure if that’s intentional or not) as he goes for the sledgehammer underneath the ring and then blasts Taker with it. Taker kicks out of another pin attempt and Hunter squares up to basically cave in Taker’s skull with the hammer, but Shawn grabs it away from him at the last second as Triple H admonishes him to ring the bell and “end it”. Shawn contemplates it but he gets too close to the wounded dead-man, who locks him into the Hell’s Gate in a sign of blind panic, taking him out for the time being. Taker locks Hunter into the hold next, pretty much choking him unconscious. Referee Charles Robinson comes running down to the cell just in time to count to two as Undertaker chokeslams Triple H, and Undertaker doesn’t like that so he chokeslams him for making the trip. Shawn awakens and is pissed now so he gives Taker the Sweet Chin Music to set up a pedigree from Triple H, but still the dead man kicks out! Very well planned and executed spot there that really had half the crowd convinced that was it. Hunter tosses Shawn in anger just as Undertaker catches his second wind, firing off a tombstone for a near fall so close that he spits out a trail of nasty drool on Hunter’s chest in disbelief. Back on their feet both men begin brawling again until Hunter hits the pedigree, and still Taker kicks out. Hunter goes for the sledgehammer again but now it’s Undetaker’s turn to beat the living shit out of Haitch with a steel chair, getting a measure of payback for the beatdown Hunter gave him earlier. Triple H’s selling here is marvelous as he’s literally sniveling and cowering trying to find the strength to get to his feet, but he’s a rebel to the end so Hunter gives him a crotch chop and eggs Taker on to take him out with the sledgehammer. Finally Undertaker gives him a last tombstone and that’s enough for the win at 30:53. Afterwards Shawn and Undertaker embrace in a sign of respect and help Triple H out of the ring to wrap things up perfectly. Just a manly match chock full of hate from two of the best ever here, they packed in all the crazy near falls you’d expect and just beat the tar out of each other for 30 minutes.About as good as last year’s match, maybe even a little better. ****
- Now to give us some time to catch our breaths after the last match, we do the traditional Hall of Fame bit with all of this year’s entrants out on the stage for a nice pop. Flair is back (for tonight) and so is an emotional Edge. There’s something amusing about seeing Mil Mascaras, Mike Tyson, and Ric Flair all in the same place at the same time.
- Backstage Josh Matthews is hyping up Flo Rida when the “One Man Southern Rock band” (whatever the hell that is) Heath Slater interrupts to say that no one wants to hear Florida. Slater plays goofy white guy and Flo Rida’s deadpan reaction and violent shove of Slater is prett hilarious in response.
- Team Johnny (David Otunga/Dolph Ziggler/The Miz/Mark Henry/Jack Swagger/Drew McIntyre) vs. Team Teddy (Santino Marella/Booker T/Kofi Kingston/R-Truth/Zack Ryder/The Great Khali)
This is for GM control of both RAW and Smackdown (hey whatever happened to that Ananymous GM guy?), And they’re all wearing goofy team t-shirts again. Kofi starts off with Ziggler but tags Truth in quickly so he can do his dancing leg drop. Drew and Khali tag in and you can guess who wins that exchange. Booker tags in next and feeds Drew a superkick and a side-slam. Booker winds up earning the role of face in peril as all the heels trade tags and work him over in their corner. The beat down just goes on and on and on but the crowd is already gone by this point, Everyone fights out to the floor and Miz takes them all out with a nice tope, while back in the ring Santino gets the hot tag from Booker. Santino hits a diving headbutt and then nails Miz with the Cobra, but Ziggler breaks the pin up. Ryder hops in and is all kinds of fired up, snapping off a neckbreaker and then the Rough Ryder onto Ziggler. Eve hops into the ring to fist pump with Ryder out of nowhere, but this of course just serves to distract Ryder long enough for Miz to give him the Skull Crushing Finale and make Johnny the permanent GM at 10:38. This got 10 minutes but Sheamus and Bryan couldn’t get 20 seconds? Eve turns on Ryder after the match, kicking him in the balls to just further drive this thing into the ground. Bad match that was just basically a heat segment on Booker that no one cared about followed by a heel turn that everyone expected and still didn’t care about. 1/2*
- Backstage a celebrating Team Johnny walks past the WWE champion CM Punk. He smugly informs him that if Punk loses his temper and gets disqualified, he’ll lose the title.
- WWE Title Match
CM Punk © vs. Chris Jericho
This one looks great on paper, and though some didn’t like the alcoholic angle with Jericho it was classic heel behavior and gives Punk a bit more of a reason to want to take Jericho out. Both men lock up and Punk takes it to Jericho in the corner when Jericho asks Punk how his father is in a funny moment. Punk looks for the Macho Man elbow but Jericho bails out of the ring so Punk flies off the top with a clothesline to the floor instead! Jericho asks Punk how his sister is now and he grabs a steel chair as Jericho eggs him on, hoping for Punk to get DQed. How can you not laugh when a man yells out “Your father’s a drunk! Your sister’s a drug addict! Hit me!”? Jericho clotheslines Punk into the ring from the apron and then suplexes him right out of the ring all the way to the floor off the apron! Sick spot there. Back in the ring Jericho slaps on a chinlock and hits a lazy back senton for two. Punk goes to the top but Jericho yanks him back off and Punk’s head snaps back against the mat as if he were a car crash victim. Ouch. Punk uses some fancy footwork and fires off a swinging neckbreaker, and then manages to fight off a lionsault and a Walls of Jericho attempt. He tries for the Macho elbow but Jericho blocks it and then hits him with the Codebreaker, sending Punk flying out of the ring. Jericho manages to bring him back in but Punk hits him with the GTS out of nowhere. Punk takes too long to cover though and only gets a two from it. Both men trade waist locks until Jericho gives Punk a front suplex over the top rope and then hits a lionsault. Punk looks for a top rope frankensteiner, but Jericho counters into the Walls of Jericho position and leaps off the top rope, nearly killing Punk in the process. He applies the hold on the mat for a few moments but Punk gets the rope break. Jericho gets dumped to the floor and Punk takes him out with a tope. Punk springboards back into the ring, but Jericho meets him in mid-air with another Codebreaker. Jericho blocks another GTS attempt and transitions right into the Walls of Jericho, and he’s really cranking it on almost in Liontamer fashion. Punk counters into the Anaconda Vice and Jericho manages to escape into a few roll-up attempts, but Punk just rolls through right back into the Vice all in one fluid motion. Jericho has no choice but to tap out at 22:20. Not quite the epic encounter some of us were hoping for, but this was still an excellent match up with good psychology and some sweet reversals. Good stuff. ***1/2
- The Funkasaurus Brodus Clay of all people comes out next to ask everyone to bring out their cell phones and call their momma’s. Brodus calls his mom but apparently she’s already here, so he introduces “Mama Clay”, who looks like Martin Lawrence in Bib Momma’s House complete with huge ass and all. A whole troupe of big momma dancers come out as well. Well that was certainly…something.
- Sean “Puff Daddy Diddy Dirty Money Done Dirt Cheap” Combs is out next to introduce the rapper MGK and singer Skylar Grey to perform the Wrestlemania theme song “Invincible”. Not very good but not as bad as Kid Rock. MGK talks up John Cena, saying they’re both underdogs, and gets a shit ton of heat for it. That leads us right into our main event of the evening, as Cena makes his entrance rocking new Boston Celtics-like gear. Flo Rida comes out next to perform his own song. And just when you think it’s over, here comes a chick with the goofiest purlpe hairdo I’ve ever seen to sing yet another song and now they’ve officially worn out their welcome.
- The Rock vs. John Cena
Well here we are, one year later and it’s finally here. Can it deliver after all the hype? Let’s see. Crowd is all over Cena as expected but it’s not quite as bad as you might expect. Rock fires off a few nice armdrags and he looks good here. Cena takes control with a side headlock briefly but bails after Rock escapes and then returns with a stiff clothesline. Cena tries working a bear hug waist lock of sorts and then dumps Rock over the top rope and out to the floor. Back inside a belly to belly suplex gets Cena a two count and he goes back to the bear hug. Rock manages to give him a DDT and that gives him enough time to find his breath and look for the People’s Elbow. Cena blocks it from every happening though and hits a fallaway slam. Both men go for a clothesline at the same time and wipe each other out. Back on their feet they trade shots when Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment out of nowhere only for Rocky to kick out. Back on his feet the Rock hits the Rock Bottom, but now it’s Cena’s turn to kick out. He takes his sweet time on the top rope before finally hitting the biggest top rope leg drop I think he’s ever done for another two count. Rock responds by locking him into the sharpshooter, but of course Cena won’t tap and he gets the rope break. The action spills to the floor and Rock sends Cena into the ring steps. Back inside Cena applies the STF and Rock’s facial expressions here are great. Cena really milks the hold for all it’s worth and Rock nearly passes out as they do the arm-raising spot, but of course he gets his arm up at the last second and manages to finally break the hold. Rock hits a spinebuster and then delivers the People’s Elbow, but that alone won’t put Cena away. Rock hits a beautiful Steamboat like cross body off the top, but Cena rolls through and picks Rock up for another Attitude Adjustment! Rock somehow kicks out of it though and then manages to turn Cena around and deliver the Rock Bottom to pick up the win at 30:36. Not quite the epic showdown with once in a lifetime crowd heat I was hoping for, but this was still a fantastic match and great official return to singles action for The Rock. A worthy Wrestlemania main event that sends the fans home happy, even if it won’t go down in lore as one of the best matches of all time or anything. ***3/4
- We go off the air tonight with The Rock celebrating in the ring in front of his hometown fans as a stunned Cena watches on from the rampway. No Brock Lesnar tonight kids, sorry.Bottom Line: Good show this year, I wouldn’t exactly call it one of the best ‘Manias or shows ever and it did lag slightly towards the beginning, but all of the matches that needed to deliver did so and we got several great marquee matches, just like you’d expect from the tradition that Wrestlemania has become. It should be interesting to see where the company goes from here with this past year long Cena/Rock chapter now closed for the moment, and this was a great way to do that. Thumbs Up.Score: 8.0/10