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Found 57 results

  1. Man was this a blast... The invading dominant ROH world champ makes a return to IWA-MS to take on the local babyface superstar who's lost a couple of matches in a row at IWA-MS events at the Lincoln Center and wants to redeem himself and defend himself and the honor of his organization. Both guys bring the hate and you can tell Hero's genuinely frustration early on. The match is Hero trying to out grapple Joe and Joe trying to out strike Hero. Before the wild exchanges occur, Hero tries grounding and tiring Joe out before he gets caught up and engages with Joe in a striking battle which of course is going to backfire on him even though he holds his own for a bit. During the wild strike exchange, Hero shoots for a double leg takedown and the crowd erupts. That sets the tone for the remainder of the match until the finishing stretch. The finishing stretch sees Hero getting overconfident and hitting Joe with a Hero's Welcome and instead of going for the pin, he tries it a second time before Joe catches him with a backdrop driver and he chokes him out. Hero does a great job putting over the choke as he doesn't move until Ian Rotten and Dave Prazak come in the ring and pour water over his head to wake him up. Luckily this ended at the right time and it didn't over stay its welcome with the endless running streak of head drops, fighting spirit and finishing move trades these matches usually fell into around this time period. Say what you will about the dueling chants, but the crowd was split here and hot for the entirety of it and it really added to the match as you rarely ever see crowds this hot at indy shows. Prazak nailed it on commentary by saying there was 250 fans in attendance, but it felt like 2,000 fans. Great stuff. ****
  2. BRAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUN. Sheer spectacle. That's what this was and I loved it. I really did. Braun has been on a tear in 2017 and he just keeps making the absolute most of every single opportunity that he's been given. He went out there tonight and just showed why he is an absolute monster. The dominance of putting Brock through two tables and throwing an office chair in the faces of both Reigns and Joe. Add to that one of Lesnar's best sell jobs bumping like a nut for Braun and selling his ass off for Reigns. Sure, Joe was just a bit of an afterthought and that's a shame, but man when this match was on it was ON. I'm honestly unsure how to rate this right now. The first few moments with Braun killing everyone dead was five star material easily. Things do slow down once Lesnar comes back from his stretcher spot but even then you get great moments like Braun kicking out and shoving Reigns to his feet and Lesnar eating three Superman Punches.This is a shade under five for me, because the second half just doesn't maintain the momentum but what a showcase for these guys. ****3/4
  3. This Raw monster division has really been something else this year, and it looks like it might be getting even crazier going into Summerslam. I wish we got this without the commercial breaks, but still, I really enjoyed it. Both Roman and Joe are wonderful at looking like huge, incredibly dangerous monsters while selling for each other's monster-ness. Roman does it with an "I don't know how I'm gonna continue" look; Joe looks more angry than anything, but it works for both of them. In addition to their usual spots we get a Roman trying to put his shoe through Joe's face and Joe cutting off a Drive By with a great clothesline. But this isn't actually just a Reigns/Joe match, as BRAUN comes through to wreck shit and we don't just get a regular beatdown, but the start of a three way thing. It makes sense that Braun comes out on top, because the Samoans have been beating the shit out of each other, but both Joe and Reigns get shots in, and Joe even has him on his way down in the Coquina before Reigns goes for the Superman Punch and interrupts. I love it all. ****
  4. Yet again Lesnar proves that, whenever he shows up, he is the best guy in WWE by a mile. Great performance where he was able to display his resourcefulness and toughness while constantly projecting vulnerability and putting Joe over as a huge threat. He sold the hell out of all of Joe's offense and was very consistent with the selling, basically from the prematch ambush to the end. He even sold when he was on top (for example selling in between executing suplexes). I liked him busting out new stuff like the sideslam or the between the legs switch around which showed he was being forced to dig deep. Joe was good too with the relentlessness and the cheap tactics which put over his desperation. Great finish with a creative use of a finisher. It was almost like a flash pin where Brock took advantage of Joe poor positioning and stunned him just long enough for a 3 count rather than it being anything decisive. Nice post match selling of the neck by Brock as well. *** 1/2
  5. Five good-to-great wrestlers, at worst, in the ring together and Vordell Walker. There's a lot of first time match-ups here, besides Joe/McGuinness, and Spanky/Danielson hasn't been done in so long that it's basically on that same hype-tier (if that's a word). This match had good action & psychology, but I have a couple issues: the segments where the match breaks down and everyone is in the ring together felt oddly timed ... there wasn't much of a build to those specific moments - they just go unpredictably wild, which was jarring to me; the escalation was steady, but the momentum stalled right before the finishing run & took me out of it a little; and they could've easily chopped a good five minutes off this match to tighten it up. Anyways, too much Vordell Walker, but the other five do a good enough job carrying him nonetheless. The first time interactions between Danielson/Gibson, Joe/Gibson & Danielson/McGuinness (!) ruled. McGuinness debuts the Rebound Lariat, too! Good, but flawed, match. Rating: ***
  6. It's the much-awaited Pure champion vs. World champion and ... their partners, too? They establish hierarchy early into the match. McGuinness & Lethal are equals, Walters is a step-above them due to his Pure champion status, and Joe trumps all. The general structure of the match is similar to your 90's All Japan/2000's NOAH tag matches. Joe has no respect for the Pure championship as he believes it only exists because no one can take the World title off of him. He bitchslaps Walters around and then kicks a handstanding McGuinness' head off in two sequences that sum up Joe's goal in this match - assert dominance. And it's just an absolute joy to watch. Every time he enters the ring he swings the momentum to his favor. His preoccupation on dominating the Pure champ ends up being the team's downfall, though. McGuinness traps Lethal in That Arm Submission as Walters distracts and prevents Joe from saving Lethal. Rating: ***¼
  7. A world class tag team in KENTAFuji going against two of the best singles wrestlers in the world, a dream team of the aces of ROH in Bryan Danielson & Samoa Joe. No way this wasn't gonna be great. It started off with some nice work between Danielson & Marufuji - that transitioned into Marufuji being the FIP, which he was tremendous at I might add - that really was a pleasant surprise because in some of the KENTAFuji tags in the past he hasn't been the strongest FIP. Here he thankfully was tremendous. Joe & especially Danielson were fantastic with their work over him, working the heat on him in terrific fashion. Eventually Maru makes the hot tag to KENTA who is really fiery in that - he goes right after Joe & my goodness their interactions were HEATED. Such a shame we never got to see a singles match between them in 2006-2007. Danielson gets to be the FIP now, and he does absolutely amazing job in that - selling his ass off for KENTAFuji who did their awesome work over him. While Maru was really great in his FIP segment, Danielson really was on another level. Same could be said about the next hot tag - KENTA was great, but goddamn Joe came in like a KILLER when Dragon got to make the tag to him. The whole finishing stretch was really damn awesome too, with everybody getting to shine. Truly one of the best tag matches in ROH history. ****3/4
  8. Very hard hitting, intense three way dance. Starts off in super explosive fashion, it gets derailed & loses it's steam a bit after KENTA gets legitimately knocked out after receiving the mother of all slaps from Joe, but they get back into things quickly & the match remains awesome till the end. ****
  9. A very strong opener. Joe looked great working on top & Zayn was awesome as usual working from underneath. Very good stuff. ***1/2
  10. Joe taking on two puro legends in 1 month is pretty remarkable! Amazing cool entrance by Joe and Liger's wasn't too shabby with his NJ music, full shoulder pads, and streamers. Liger, sized wise, looked like a good match for Joe. Shorter but, thick as Joe. Crowd was amped. Joe pretty much did his 'standard' TNA act here but, Liger switched it up from his 2005 routine and played it like a younger junior taking on the heavyweight. So, we got a few moments of brilliance from Liger as well as him taking to the air. The only thing stopping this from being a great match was the time it was given. It reminded me of a Fire Pro Wrestling match where you get a Critical just as you're starting to amp things up. Highly recommended match and a successful dream match in my book.
  11. Reigns was my most awaited main roster opponent for Joe, and I thought that their first meeting truly delivered. Physical, Joe looked fantastic when he was working the heat on Reigns w/ his killer offense, and Reigns did some really great selling, and I loved every hope spots of his, and the big comeback towards the end was great, too. These 2 have a classic ****1/2+ PPV match in them. ****
  12. ShittyLittleBoots

    [2017-02-27-WWE-Raw] Cesaro vs Samoa Joe

    An awesome little match, the psychology w/ Cesaro's knee was good - Joe's targeting of it was great & Cesaro's selling was really good. Couple of more minutes and this would've been **** for me. ***3/4
  13. Really good match. Joe is on top for most of it, and he's pretty great. His submissions look vicious & his striking was awesome as usual. Great swagger shown by him throughout too. Bálor is solid from underneath, but it really is the Joe show overall. ***1/2
  14. First time I had ever seen Dash & Dawson in action, and they put on really good performances - you could see that they had a good thing already back then. The psychology of Bálor's leg was wonderful, and Bálor sold it really, really well. The best tag match on the show for sure. ***1/2
  15. I thought this ruled, in the same vein as that Cena/Gabriel match where you've got the top guy showcasing why he's deserving of his spot while also making his opponent seem like a threat. I watched this after watching two Danielson/Joe matches from 2003 and not only did I like this way more Joe looked on another level here than he did on those. I liked him periodically looking down at his fist after a strike like he knew he had the ultimate equalizer and that slap was insane.
  16. The Road to WrestleMania XXX: The Good Shit - http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/33558-the-road-to-wrestlemania-xxx-the-good-shit/ The Road to WrestleMania 31: The Good Shit - http://prowrestlingonly.com/index.php?/topic/33559-the-road-to-wrestlemania-31-the-good-shit/ NXT at WrestleMania 31 Axxess – March 26, 2015 These matches aired on the April 8, 2015 broadcast Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale Qualifier Tournament Semifinal Neville vs. Hideo Itami Staredown triggers a “THIS IS AWESOME~!” chant, and it should for this is a dream match. Eight years ago, this could be manipulated into being ROH vs. PWG. Five years ago, NOAH vs. DG. Easily the best match of the tournament as this would be the only chance for these two to collide while in NXT based on plans in the very near future. While this of course didn’t reach greatness, they showed that such a match of that magnitude is capable in the future. Everything about this match was just so professional, from the mat wrestling (including a battle to gain leverage on hammerlock trades), Neville refusing to be the answer to the Go to Sleep trivia question, and Neville’s cut-offs when Itami took over in the middle and in the closing sequences. In particular, my favorite spot was a teased running corner dropkick from Itami, only to eat a perfectly timed superkick from Neville for a hot nearfall. Of course, the tease became reality since these two are so polished and experienced. This should’ve been the tournament final, and as someone who finds fan conventions totally useless, advertising a match like this ahead of time in the future would make me consider attending the session. ***1/2 Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale Qualifier Tournament Semifinal Finn Balor vs. Tyler Breeze Couldn’t come close to breaking ***, let alone the semifinal that this followed. This was paced as a fine TV or house show style match, nothing memorable whatsoever, but just enough for Balor to get his shit in and pop the crowd and lead to the rematch with Itami in the final. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale Qualifier Tournament Final Finn Balor vs. Hideo Itami Nothing close to their first dream match in NXT’s prior tournament several weeks earlier and for understandable reasons, as both men are in their third matches of the evening, plus have matches booked the next night at San Jose State University. There really are no complaints to make here, as the match was good but nothing special, which is exactly where it needed to land to leave the crowd happy. Itami pulls off the major upset though, which shouldn’t have been with so much Japanese media in town due to Tatsumi Fujinami’s HOF induction. *** Crazy food for thought: I never, ever prior to 2014 would’ve thought I’d see KENTA on the same WrestleMania card as Sting. WrestleMania 31 Tag Titles Match Cesaro & Tyson Kidd vs. The Usos vs. Los Matadores vs. Big E & Kofi Kingston The SF native Usos are of course decked in 49ers colors, and it’s an obvious shame that Jey had the busted shoulder and could only come out to soak in the moment without getting to do anything physical whatsoever. Gut-wrenching, as them winning the straps in a standard tag from the champs to open the PPV broadcast would’ve been something special. The champs and hometown boys are of course the most over, while the New Day are still like a wet fart, looking hopeless to ever catch on. Now as for this match, I hated it on broadcast viewing. Sure it was a fun spotfest live, but the broadcast version exposed this as nothing more than a TNA “go out there and do a video game” match. That’s probably not a coincidence with Rudy Charles as the assigned referee, and this was the first WWE match I think I’ve ever seen in which a referee failed to keep track of who was legal. The match wasn’t THAT crazy to justify such sloppy officiating. Others will love this more than me, but I have no use for this in ROH, PWG, or TNA, let alone WWE, especially on the industry’s grandest card of the entire year. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale Decent battle royale that didn’t quite live up to the original’s finishing stretch. The segments to mention were of course Show eliminating Itami like a complete, utter jabroni, thus making his appearance useless, as him getting to the final four would’ve done quite a bit to build the NXT brand. Cesaro got his moment to shine by scoop-slamming Kane out of the ring, only for Show to get his win back over him from the prior year. Then of course Damien Sandow (Mizdow) got fed up with the Miz’s bullshit, eliminating him to have a fun final with Show. Show won for what would be obvious reasons at the conclusion of the event, although I sensed live during this match, and now believe even more so with the narrative forced by the commentary when Show won, that Sandow should’ve gone over here. The reason isn’t even about Sandow being the hot hand at the time, although that plays a part (Miz could destroy the trophy leading to their singles match at the next PPV, and maybe it actually would’ve caught on as a singles program for a few months.) Instead, I believe with how limited Show has been in terms of being the slightest bit of an interesting character in 2015, having him choke in this match for a second straight year could’ve made for a compelling undercard narrative going into WrestleMania 32 – would the third time be the charm for Show? Show him preparing for what he feels is his rightful prize in training videos, cutting promos/interviews explaining what it’d mean to him due to the Andre comparisons, etc. Then he is an actual force in that match at AT&T Stadium, perhaps the last highlight of a long and successful career, even though it never reached quite the level of Andre’s. IC Title – Ladder Match Wade Barrett vs. Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. R-Truth vs. Daniel Bryan Fun gimmick match to open the PPV portion although it’s becoming increasingly difficult to have a memorable ladder match. There were stunts in this match, although nothing was timed and delivered to be on par with the memorable spots of prior ladder matches such as the Shawn Michaels splash, Edge leaping spear, etc. Having three of the most organically popular babyfaces (Ambrose, Ziggler, D-Bry) thrown in a match with four geeks obviously didn’t help either. If any moments were standout, they’d have to be the dumbest one and the finish. Ambrose got pushed off by Harper and fell off of a ladder in the ring, onto a ladder platform outside the ring. Now with this being the biggest show of the year, this is the time to do a stupid stunt like that, but I’d have reservations had I been in his shoes, as this spot on the card was clearly beneath him and the other two legitimate stars shoehorned into this match. Those other two provided the other standout moment as Ziggler and D-Bry exchanged headbutts on the ladder, with D-Bry of course winning thanks to experience against Nigel McGuinness, and claiming the IC Title. Quite the lazy way to pacify those upset with D-Bry’s booking since returning a few months earlier, but if anyone could make that belt mean something again, he’s the very best choice. ***1/2 Since WWE was adamant about having a ladder match on this show, here was one of the million ideas I had in fantasy booking: Seth Rollins is forced (thanks to Sting somehow getting leverage on the Authority) into putting the Money in the Bank briefcase on the line against the five guys (minus Roman Reigns) he and his buddies had violated the most since his betrayal of the Shield. That would be Ambrose, Ziggler, D-Bry, Ryback, and Randy Orton. That provides a loaded ladder match, that also manages to put two of the company favorites and the three fanbase favorites as mentioned all in a marquee match for the event, as well as providing quite the compelling story for a match since Rollins would see everything he had gained potentially blow up in his face. Now speaking of the two company favorites I was referring to… Seth Rollins vs. Randy Orton Rollins is of course accompanied by J&J Security. My favorite match of the night in person, and maybe still even with something else later on objectively edging this out quite a bit. What I love so much about this match is that it not only overcame the shitty booking since Orton’s return several weeks earlier, but this felt the most like a sporting competition compared to everything else on the card. Sure, J&J Security got involved a little bit and were quickly dispatched by Orton, but that was as minimal as possible. This looked like a match in which both men went to the film room and put in their proper time studying one another. There were great counters and blocks all over this match, plus excellent teases. Whether it was Rollins dodging an early Ace Crusher attempt, or blocking a powerslam only to eat one seconds later, this was a purist’s dream for me. In person, this was an excellent match, but on broadcast with polished production, this held up many months later, and the finish of Rollins going for the SR curb stomp, only for his momentum to backfire and see himself lifted to helplessly fall into a perfectly timed Ace Crusher, is gonna be played in highlight reels and talked about for years to come, no matter how uncomfortable WWE is about the stomp. This lived up to my expectations after the classic they had months earlier in Buffalo. **** Dream Match and Sting’s WWE Debut Match Sting vs. Triple H It sure seemed strange to have two of the most promoted matches taking place so early on the card, but I’ll explain why it was actually quite brilliant in my overall assessment of this event at the end of this review. Charles Robinson is the assigned referee, and I shudder to think had it been someone else not familiar with Sting. This may not have been as much fun live if it wasn’t for him. Unlike HHH’s prior WrestleMania match, I’m not going to provide the detailed move by move analysis. This match wasn’t about putting on a technical masterpiece to pay off an angle several months in the making. Instead, this was about providing a dream match for lapsed fans that yearn for the business to feel like the days of the Monday Night War. Now with that said, the first thing I’m going to address is the storyline going into this match. This was a blood feud based on vigilantism vs. corruption and oppression, so this match based on that storyline shouldn’t have relied on the retro faction warfare smoke and mirrors it got. This match certainly needed to have its smoke and mirrors, as NEITHER man looked to be in the best shape from an appearance or conditioning standpoint, but structured more like a brawl. While color was also obviously being saved for later on the card, I believe it was absolutely essential to have here both for the storyline and hide the shortcomings of both performers, and that it wouldn’t take away from the color in another match later. The decision to have the original New World Order and D-Generation X, while providing for a fun, unforgettable segment, was extremely out of place for the storyline developed between Sting and HHH. Don’t get me wrong – it was something to see the two hottest factions of the Monday Night War finally collide, and I never thought the day would come in which SHAWN MICHAELS GIVES STING THE SUPERKICK. That was definitely a surreal moment. I’m going to analyze that decision and its effect on this match even more. I had been critical that Sting’s perspective shouldn’t have been so limited going into this show, and that it should’ve been hammered down the audience’s throat that the Authority reminded him of the nWo being such a destructive cancer and leading cause in WCW’s death (his mission would be to save WWE from a similar fate.) While that dynamic was mentioned in one great video, it was so brief while the Authority hogged so much mic and screen time that even a detailed viewer like me practically blinked and missed it at the time. So DX comes to help out HHH, and then the nWo comes out minutes later. Some may question that based on Sting’s history with the nWo. Why would they come out to help? The reasons are layered – it’s an opportunity for Hulk Hogan, Scott Hall, and Kevin Nash to appear on the biggest show of the year, so of course they’ll take it. Also, let’s remember (as much as none of you want to) that when the nWo splintered into separate factions, Sting joined the Wolfpac version. Also while in TNA, Sting has shown he no longer held a grudge against any of those three, teaming with and aiding them on multiple occasions. WWE would never mention these details of course, but they exist. In addition, the original nWo are all backstage at Levi’s Stadium, see someone they went to war with and against getting manhandled by D-Generation X. Why wouldn’t they wanna come help out someone they respect, while also feeling a sense of competitive pride dating back to the Monday Night War to prove who the alpha faction of that time truly is? With that part of the analysis out of the way, I move on to this. The way this match was structured, including DX and nWo involvement/brawling, baseball bats, sledgehammers, and HBK attacking Sting to benefit HHH, this didn’t belong in 2015 at all, not even thinking about the vigilante vs. authority angle. This entire segment should’ve taken place at WrestleMania X8 or WrestleMania XIX, with it leading to the Sting vs. Shawn Michaels dream match at the following year’s WrestleMania. The timing would have been far more appropriate with the War wounds far fresher, it’d lead to a hot match nobody could’ve even thought would become reality, and it’s a shame that couldn’t happen as WWE’s insistence on pussy-footing around with established WCW talent rubbed Sting the wrong way after WCW’s death. With all of this said – this was a hell of a spectacle, even with Sting and HHH appearing to both get gassed or out of sync at points. And I’ve no problem with the handshake afterwards – HHH was the one that offered it, both men having earned each other’s respect and moving on despite what lead to their dream showdown. I’d have had Sting win of course for the obvious reasons, but this definitely contributed to me getting my money’s worth live. For the next half hour or so, the show is all filler. A mini concert. A meaningless divas match pitting the Bella Twins against Paige & AJ Lee (I’m sure Divas champ Nikki tapping clean to Lee’s Octopus hold will lead to something, I just know it will), and then the HOF recognition segment. While many hate filler and I’d usually argue against this as I strongly prefer cards to be structured in order of match importance, it worked for me here for two reasons, one which I’ll list here. This half hour or so of pure filler gave me time to walk around Levi’s Stadium while still in daylight and take in the surrounding Santa Clara beauty. HIGHLY suggested for everyone to do the same when at this venue. US Title Match Rusev vs. John Cena By far the hottest, most sensible angle coming into this show, it’s just a shame that this didn’t quite live up to its buildup or even their first match several weeks earlier. This was of course a good match, but it’s not a compliment when stating the best moment was Rusev’s tank entrance (the night’s best gimmick entrance by far), no matter how spectacular that particular piece of production was. Before I explain why this didn’t quite live up to the hype, especially for this being Rusev’s year-in-the-making first loss, the match had its bright spots. Everything was clean and crisp, nothing sloppy like Sting vs. HHH, and I appreciated Cena’s overall no-nonsense demeanor throughout the match. That sold his perception of Rusev as a threat and also his patriotic anger. Rusev also got his fair moments of dominance and had to really work to lock in the Camel Clutch, but of course it finally wouldn’t work out for him. As for why I found this disappointing, which my star rating won’t reflect, is mostly because this didn’t have a super-hot finishing competitive stretch of epic proportions as it deserved. For Rusev’s historic loss, a year in the making, on the year’s grandest stage, more effort should’ve been placed in showing just how difficult that task would’ve been for Cena, similar to how opponents of the Seahawks have felt for the past four years. A distraction sports-entertainment finish thanks to Lana, while obviously leading to a breakup between her and Rusev that those behind the scenes would want, didn’t add to the primary story. Rusev wouldn’t have been hurt by losing without the sports-entertainment booking; but his stock certainly hurt by being down for the count after just one Death Valley Driver, rather than a series of nail-biting nearfalls that would’ve had us all in attendance jumping up and down with emotion. Like the IC Title with D-Bry earlier in the evening, if the plan is for the US Title to have its prestige raised after a solid Rusev reign, Cena certainly is the best pick possible. ***1/4 In the next segment, the Authority gloat over the supposed attendance record and that they drew the box office, rubbing in HHH’s victory over Sting. To be clear, that wasn’t disrespect from HHH towards Sting, but towards the audience for relying on Sting to get the job done and thinking he could take the Authority down and serve them the same humble pie as the Shield and D-Bry did in 2014. Speaking of pie, out came the Rock, predictably so after the Authority threw in a “millions” remark, What followed is one of the greatest segments I’ve ever experienced live and has been discussed to death in what looked to be leading to a huge crossover match the next year at AT&T Stadium. Rock got the cheap pop talking about his very early days in the Bay Area and got slapped by Stephanie McMahon, then convinced Ronda Rousey to come into the ring and help him knock the Authority down a peg. Not quite on par for me personally with the Championship Ascension Ceremony in Seattle, but definitely an all-time WrestleMania moment that blew Rock, Hogan, and Steve Austin’s segment a year earlier out of the water. Bray Wyatt vs. Undertaker Live, this match looked like a sloppy mess to me. That’s explainable as Wyatt reportedly rolled his ankle earlier in the day during warmups or walk-throughs, and he’s not elite enough to overcome that. On broadcast, this match was still nothing special and arguably felt like a waste of time, but Taker still looked a bit lethargic and broken down, albeit still significantly healthier than a year earlier when he was concussed. Of course, Taker gets the win to show he’s still got it, and leaving Wyatt, one of the most pushed acts on the roster without any clear storyline direction. Whatever, the crowd popped for it. WWE Title Match Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns Now of course, was this the right main event? I still say no, even with how shockingly great this turned out to be, as the “right main event” I’m referring to has the potential on paper to be a true all-time classic for the industry should it ever actually occur. Now with that said, I went into Levi’s Stadium, despite how disappointing the Reigns push was, hoping these two would give me my money’s worth and prove everybody wrong that was concerned about the predicted lack of chemistry these two would have. And I’m happy to say that I was totally wrong in that regard. Start to finish, this entire presentation was top-notch art. In a match perfectly structured for each other’s strengths, they went out and smashed it for the top prize in the industry. From Lesnar getting the early domination segment (in a manner far more captivating than Kane or Big Show struggled to reach against Reigns in the months leading up to this), to Reigns smiling to show he could absorb the pain that the Beast Incarnate unleashed upon him, to Lesnar juicing after being slammed head-first into a ring post to transition to Reigns shining, I could not have asked for a better match from these two. It wasn’t just the structure of this match, or even the off-the-charts, unforgettable finish that made this a special match between two bad-ass heavyweights. The crowd provided an AMAZING big fight atmosphere that translated exceptionally well to the broadcast, and I can say that live it was a pleasure to be a part of. Lesnar was the hottest babyface on the roster, and Reigns through no fault of his own was the biggest heel to a significant portion of those in the Bay Area that weekend. Now as for the finish, nobody could’ve really seen it coming after the booking of the prior several weeks and Lesnar signing a contract extension just days earlier. But to see Seth Rollins, the former Tyler Black, sprint to the ring once Reigns had knocked down Lesnar (but still struggling himself to take advantage thanks to the former UFC World Heavyweight Champion’s brutality), and successfully cash in the Money in the Bank briefcase, was a rewarding live experience I’ll remember forever, reminding me of why I remain a fan of such an often-disappointing niche industry after 18 years. He had worked his ass off to achieve the Shawn Michaels spot I foresaw for him a year earlier, and it was the right call to make to give the company a chance to (hopefully) re-evaluate the path for Reigns to reach his inevitable coronation. Plus, Reigns seeing a bit of humility doesn’t hurt him, and Lesnar is still protected since he didn’t do the job. This also adds a layer to the choice Rollins made to sell out and destroy the Shield, in what I hope one day will pay off in that particular threeway dream match so many of us yearn for. ****1/2 Coming out of this show, many who attended it, including Dave Meltzer himself, said this may have been the greatest WrestleMania of all-time. That was a bit hyperbolic, but as someone who has attended every WrestleMania since the 25th edition at the now-named NRG Stadium, this is right behind WrestleMania XXVI in Phoenix as the best one I’ve attended as an overall event and experience. I had mentioned earlier that this show used an unusual but very satisfying format. With many months to have slept on it, it was actually BRILLIANT to split the card into pretty much two halves, with the first half closing with the Sting vs. HHH co-main event prior to going on what was in reality a halftime/intermission show before getting to Rusev vs. Cena to kick off the second half. This allowed those in attendance to get snacks and use the restroom without missing anything important, and for me personally I used the time to admire the geographic and new money beauty surrounding Levi’s Stadium. This was a WrestleMania with two great matches, one of them a MOTYC, plus THREE absolutely unforgettable WrestleMania moments, including a historic first-ever MITB cash-in on the grandest stage (poetically a decade after the concept’s birth), Sting’s first ever WWE match, and what appeared to hopefully be signs of the company re-evaluating some of its storytelling mentalities, both with the one that seems destined to be its next face, as well as two midcard titles that were now placed on true champions. This review isn't quite done yet though. I must throw in my two cents regarding two special documentaries highlighting the WrestleMania 31 journeys of Hideo Itami and Roman Reigns, the former airing on NXT's April 8, 2015 broadcast, the other being a WWE 24 episode. As has been said over and over again, I don't care how much time and money these types of pieces cost, they should be happening more frequently. How anyone could watch these documentaries and not feel some kind of connection to Itami and Reigns, who obviously came from VERY different backgrounds and would both leave Levi's Stadium empty-handed in storyline, would be truly baffling. Not only do these documentaries do a great job of highlighting its particular superstars, but the engulfing experience that is WrestleMania weekend and why everyone should enjoy it first-hand at least once.
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