Jump to content
Pro Wrestling Only

Search the Community

Showing results for tags 'Asuka'.



More search options

  • Search By Tags

    Type tags separated by commas.
  • Search By Author

Content Type


Forums

  • Pro Wrestling
    • Pro Wrestling
    • The Microscope
    • Publications and Podcasts
    • Greatest Wrestler Ever
    • Armchair Booking
    • Newsletter recaps
    • Village Green Preservation Society
    • Pro Wrestling Mostly
  • PWO Database Plus
    • The Matches
    • Shows & Full Releases
    • Wrestlers & Other Personalities
    • The Rivalries
    • The Companies
    • The Towns
    • The Championships
    • Interviews & Promos
    • The Merchandise
    • The Media
    • The Exploratory
    • The Years
    • The Days
  • DVDVR Project Backup Forum
    • 1980s Lucha
    • 1980s Puerto Rico
    • 1980s Portland
  • New Millenium Blues
    • NMB Wrestling Archive
  • Administrative
    • Site Feedback
    • Forums Feedback
    • PWOFSD
  • Who Booked This?'s Show Discussions

Blogs

There are no results to display.

There are no results to display.

Categories

  • Apparel
    • T-Shirts
    • Jackets and Sweatshirts
    • Hats
    • Masks
    • Other
  • Video
    • DVD
    • VHS
    • Beta
    • Laserdisc
    • Other
  • Books
  • Magazines
  • Newsletters
    • Wrestling Observer Newsletter
    • Pro Wrestling Torch
    • Other
  • Toys
    • Action Figures
    • Other
  • Trading Cards
  • Video Games
  • Board Games
  • Music
  • Posters
  • Photos
  • Wrestling Gear
  • Ticket stubs
  • Programs

Find results in...

Find results that contain...


Date Created

  • Start

    End


Last Updated

  • Start

    End


Filter by number of...

Joined

  • Start

    End


Group


Website URL


Skype


Twitter


Instagram


Location

Found 26 results

  1. I thought this was super fun. Lots of women got a chance to shine - Ruby Riot looked great, Kairi Sane looked great, Mickie James looked great, Becky Lynch looked really good, Nikki Bella looked really good, Ember Moon looked great, Asuka looked great, Sasha Banks looked really great. All the surprise entrants were handled in super enjoyable fashion & all of them looked really good in the ring, too! Overall just a really well structured Rumble match. The post-match w/ Ronda coming out was quite something (that Piper jacket! ) - I LOVED Asuka slapping her hand away when she tried to go for a handshake. All in all, a really good time from start to finish! ***3/4
  2. Loved this. Big match feel right from the entrances - both women showed lots of swagger & charisma; loved Asuka’s work over Charlotte - her offense was even more violent than usual, those Shibata -esq kicks to the head were amazing as well as those brutal stomps to the back. ***3/4
  3. This is the first match for both in this year's Catch the WAVE tournament. It a nice follow up to the title match that they had in September of last year. The both of them do what they do best, ASUKA breaking out some nice highspots and Yamashita hitting her big power moves. The finish is really well worked, just a very good back and forth exchange of finishers with Yamashita getting the win with a Splash Mountain. ***1/2
  4. Quite possibly the best performance in Nia's young career so far - she delivered a great monster-on-top performance while Asuka was a terrific underdog with lethal offense of her own. Probably my MOTN. It's very close between it & the women's chamber match. ***3/4
  5. This is quite the matchup of veteran stars and junior partners. This might be my favourite Meiko performance of the year. She was really on, especially when she would slickly move from matwork to more high impact moves. Despite her age and slight weight gain, Ayako still moves around really well. Both of the younger workers came off strong, going back and forth with the vets fairly. A very fun match. ****
  6. After their confrontation last week, a non-title match between Alexa Bliss and Asuka was made for Raw. Alexa wasn't too happy about this and asked Kurt Angle why is he rewarding Asuka for her actions. Angle said if Alexa had a problem with Asuka, they can settle it in the ring. Later on, Alexa tells Nia Jax that she needs her by her side for the match, but Nia leaves as she had to attend to a sick Enzo Amore, much to Alexa's dismay. A nice way to build up the match and Alexa's growing fear of facing Asuka. Alexa's facial expressions were on point. Before the match, she showed a great sense of dread, knowing what's in store for her and putting over Asuka as a big threat. Asuka came out with her usual confidence and swagger. She got in the champ's head last week and looked to pick up momentum before the women's Royal Rumble match. Alexa kept her distance from Asuka, avoiding some strikes and staying near the ropes. Asuka got in a few shots on Alexa before she retreated to the outside. The crowd booed because they wanted to see Asuka beat up the champ. During the break, Alexa managed to avoid a hip attack and connect with a big kick to Asuka's midsection. Alexa targeted Asuka's ribs with some punches and by applying bodyscissors. Asuka's selling during this was quite good. Alexa got too confident by slapping Asuka in the face, which only fired her up. Alexa tried to fight back, but Asuka was too much and forced Alexa to tap out to her armbar. This was a good first meeting between Alexa and Asuka. I very much enjoyed the beginning with Alexa avoiding Asuka at nearly ever turn, not allowing Asuka to get too much offense off. The way the match played out also did a good job putting over Asuka as a threat to Alexa's reign as the work on her ribs wasn't enough to keep Asuka down and she countered a few of Alexa's offense (such as the sunset flip powerbomb in the corner). This is just a small taste of what these two can do together and I'm looking forward to the rematch.
  7. ASUKA's reward for her big win over Yumi Ohka at last month's anniversary show was a title shot at the current Regina Di WAVE champ, Yamashita. This was ASUKA's best performance yet as she really showed off her athleticism and mixed in some spectacular highspots. Her selling still needs some work though. This was yet another strong, big match performance Yamashita. She is pretty much at the point that she should be mentioned in the top tier of workers in joshi. A very strong title match from two women who keep improving. ****
  8. This is an historic match because it's the first main event of a major joshi show to feature a transgender wrestler. The match itself was better than I expected it to be. Ohka has looked really good in tags this year but usually comes off as bland in singles matches. Here she looked good. Her offense is pretty basic but she used it effectively and hit some nasty shots. ASUKA looked good as well, even hitting some great, Manami Toyota level spots as highlights. They do go a bit long as the match loses some steam towards the finish. Given the historical context of the match they both give a quality performance. ***1/2
  9. This is a really fun trios match. A lot of that is because both Avid Rival (Mizunami & Ohata) and Over Sun (Ohka & Miyazaki) are really good, established teams so that allows both Yamashita and ASUKA to be bit players. They do spend a share of the match building up the Ohka/ASUKA match for the upcoming anniversary show. ASUKA, the first transgender wrestler to be part of a joshi group, looks good if a bit of a generic joshi high-flyer. Good showcase for WAVE's talent. ***3/4
  10. I really like how they laid out this match to how they booked this feud. They found the right tone for Emma's character as she realized how dangerous Asuka is but still thought she could beat her by outsmarting her. Also really liked Emma's in-ring performance, she worked really smart and laid in a lot of her shots while not being afraid of taking anything from Asuka. It was cool to see Asuka dust off some of her old strike combos. The most noticeable difference between Asuka here and her work in Japan is how much she plays to the crowd. She rarely worked in front of big crowds in Japan so it's nice to see her adjust and work "bigger" here. The finish was smart even if there was a few minor issues with the execution of it. ****
  11. I like pro wrestling that preserves the struggle of a fight, even if it is one often resembling action/boxing/martials arts movie scenes more than an actual real competition or a fight. I don't like pro wrestling where the workers struggle to simulate the fight itself, and if you're not bothered by the sloppiness that is still very much present in many of these matches, well, good for you. But I'm having trouble taking Bayley seriously when she messes up very basic looking spots. The match was fine-Bayley got some solid shine early on and then we transitioned into a cool control segment where Asuka nailed Bayley with a brutal knee and kept cutting Bayley off every time Bayley attempted a comeback. Asuka really nailed some sharp kicks in here, it was a joy to watch. Unfortunately Bayley's comeback was pretty lame, slamming someone's head into the the turnbuckle as a comeback works if you're a tecnico and Fuerza Guerrera is bumping for you but as a means of vanquishing the biggest badass the NXT women's division has had so far it's not very convincing, especially when the slams themselves don't look especially violent. Bayley's babyface comeback offence of running elbows/kneedrops/legdrops would've been much more efficient if Asuka's control segment laster longer and was used as the actual comeback. Finish was also kinda eye-rolling, didn't really buy into Bayley becoming this huge badass, her acting wasn't there and her daring Asuka to hit her in the face and immediately covering up was just so stupid, it's the kind of stuff that happens when you have Triple H and friends laying out puro machismo tribute spots. Do I even need to explain how stupid no-selling a head kick is after treating it like a KO shot a mere second after? You fire up and barely get to your feet at best after something like that. That would've made for a much better and intruiging finish than what they did. ***
  12. This was fascinating to watch. Nia Jax has no presence whatsoever and carried herself like she is much smaller than she is. She deserves more opportunities than someone of lesser size because (I assume) it's harder to find someone her size and you need as much variety as you can get. This felt very much like a Kiyoshi Tamura U-Style match against a not big name in that while it wasn't a total squash it felt close to it. At no point did you get the impression Asuka was in danger. It was interesting to see Asuka feed herself submissions and kicks and work around Nia. If Nia *got* the most fundamental things about her character I'd have advocated working a different much and would argue that one could have been much better, but as it stands I'll gladly take this since no one else is doing Kiyoshi Tamura vs Tom Burton right now. ***1/4
  13. Pretty simple story here as the beloved champion takes on the dangerous undefeated challenger. This does get off to a slow and even awkward start, (Asuka stiffs Bayley with a forearm after their first lockup.) Once they they settle down, they do get into a nice groove with each other. I do like that Bayley went right at Asuka and never showed any fear but that does cost her at times as she gets out-struck and outclassed on the mat. She does adjust and learns to pick her spots which leads to some nice counters. Also, I enjoyed the announce team as both Phillips and Graves put over both of the matchup plus point out little stuff like Bayley trying to use submissions that had got her wins in previous title matches. Overall, an incredibly well done title match the is different from the typical fare you get from the WWE. ****1/4
  14. This is a rematch from Takeover: London plus Asuka's last match leading up to her title match vs. Bayley at Takeover: Dallas. The opening part of this match quickly reestablishes the Bugs Bunny/Yosemite Sam rivalry between the two with Emma trying to outsmart Asuka but the reverse ends up happening. Emma does eventually gain control and starts to work over Asuka with a variety of holds. Unfortunately, this does take some steam out of the match as Emma doesn't really mix in anything flashy to get a reaction out of the crowd. They do pick it up for the finish though with Emma actually hanging in there with Asuka during a strike exchange, but she ends up costing herself the win when she argues with the ref after he caught Emma with her feet on the ropes during a rollup. One of the better WWE/NXT women's matches of the year so far. ***3/4
  15. This was absolutely phenomenal. Both women killed it - Asuka showed great cocky character work & Ember showed great fire & intensity. Asuka's arm work to that previously injured arm of Ember's was amazing, absolutely brutal & focused. Ember's selling was great & her comebacks were super great - those 2 big nearfalls w/ the Eclipse & the Superkick were outstanding. The finish was perfect w/ Asuka getting frustrated & desperate as Ember was overwhelming her & her cheating attempts didn't go through - but then Ember makes one mistake & she gets to lock that Asuka Lock. Fantastic stuff. ****1/2
  16. I think it's safe to say that this is a big time contender for the most violent women's match in WWE history. They went all out - amazing action from start to finish w/ no dull moments & dull moments are something that we usually get a ton of in LMS matches. The big spots (trash can, neckbreaker's, the ending..) were all absolutely tremendous & the action in between those was terrific as well w/ some real good selling. ****1/2
  17. The actual match portion of this is pretty good, I think, on par with their Takeover match more or less. Cross especially is just a ball of viciousness, which brings out good stuff in Asuka, and Ruby holds up her end of the deal too. As far as throwing a rating on it, I don't really have a standard for this sort of thing. Bell to bell it's recommendable for sure, but after it gets thrown out (which is a bad "ending") it really turns into an excellent arena brawl with Asuka and Cross. That brawl includes not only punching and getting thrown into the usual walls but Cross hilariously dunking Asuka's face into a water cooler and then pretty organically making their way over to the final table spot. I really dig the way the hate between Cross and Asuka has grown not really out of traditional WWE face/heel dynamics but organically out of their characters (I guess this is more or less heel vs. heel at this point considering how the Asuka/Ember stuff was shaking up). Like, of course if you put this rabid maniac and this woman who (rightfully) believes she's completely unbeatable in close proximity they will intensely brawl. I think bell-to-bell I'd put this at like ***3/4 or so but who is that rating for? Who is gonna watch this match and then hit stop at the bell, right? If you include the post-match, this is up there with my favs of the year so far, and I really hope their rematch in a few weeks delivers.
  18. This was really good. Kana dominated most of it, and Nakajima fought from under. Kana was great with her killer looking offense while Nakajima had some really fun comebacks. ***3/4
  19. ShittyLittleBoots

    [2017-03-22-WWE-NXT] Asuka vs Priscilla Zuniga

    Love me some awesome squash matches, and this sure was one of those. Watching Asuka on the offense is always a thing of beauty, her offense is just so fantastic, and I loved the cocky character work she showed here. ***1/2
  20. This was quite something - the presentation was very interesting w/ them having a special lightning for the match & then there's a guy playing an instrument throughout the whole thing. Gotta say I have never seen anything like this in terms of presentation. The actual match was a banger, just Kana & Meiko beating the crap out of each other w/ brutal submissions & stiff strikes - loved the selling of both women too. Great match. ****
  21. An intense match worked with a great sense of urgency. The only disappointing thing about this was SDR's awful selling - Kana worked over her leg throughout the match, and she just completely no sold it. Other than that, this was pretty great.. BUT I gotta say that it had potential to be even better had Del Rey bothered to sell better. ***3/4
  22. This is a really good house show match between these two. There is some entertaining back and forth throughout the match as opposed to the domination that you get in Asuka's TV matches. The transitions where well done, and Ember gets a nice run of offense before going down. ***1/2
  23. Pretty average, Shiro Koshinaka tribute spots aren't what I'd like to see out of Asuka matches, the hip attacks themselves looked fine but her kicks and strikes were awkward as it's evident she's holding back. The Octopus Hold in the ropes was a cool spot and they built an interesting angle around the match hyping the Asuka-Bayley rematch. **1/2
  24. Grimmas

    Kana/Asuka

    Discuss here.
  25. 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.
×