Welcome to KB’s Old School (and New School) Reviews. I’ve been reviewing wrestling shows for over ten years now and have reviewed over 5,000 shows. Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, I’ll be posting a new review here on Wrestlingrumors.net. It could be anything from modern WWE to old school to indies to anything in between. Note that I rate using letters instead of stars and I don’t rate matches under three minutes as really, how good or bad can something that short be?
Date: April 3, 2011
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
Commentators: Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler, Josh Matthews
There’s a bit more to the main event than Rock just returning. The night he returned, he cut a long promo about how things had changed, including John Cena being the top star in the company. There is real tension between the two of them and people are expecting it to boil over soon. Let’s get to it.
Pre-Show: US Title: Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan
Bryan (I think you know him) is challenging and it’s almost strange to see him with short hair and clean shaven. Daniel moonsaults over the champ to start before the yet to be named YES kicks send Sheamus outside. That’s not cool with Mark Henry as he throws Sheamus back inside for more kicks from Daniel. Sheamus grabs a quick tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two but the High Cross is broken up. The champ is sent to the floor where he gets in a fight with the lumberjacks, triggering a huge brawl to throw the match out at 4:19.
Rating: D+. These two would later get to show that they have good chemistry but the four minute clock here didn’t give them time to go anywhere. It doesn’t help that the match was designed to set up something else instead of having a definitive ending. We’re not done with these two though.
Smackdown General Manager Teddy Long comes out to say let’s have a battle royal.
Pre-Show: Battle Royal
R-Truth, Great Khali, David Hart-Smith, Mark Henry, Johnny Curtis, Evan Bourne, Trent Barretta, Chris Masters, JTG, Yoshi Tatsu, Chavo Guerrero, Ted DiBiase, Tyler Reks, William Regal, Drew McIntyre, Curt Hawkins, Tyson Kidd, Primo, Zack Ryder, Jimmy Uso, Jey Uso, Daniel Bryan, Sheamus
Curtis is a generic guy who would later be known as Fandango and I think you know the Usos. Khali throws out Reks and Hawkins in the first twenty seconds and Henry tosses Tatsu a few seconds later. The match slows down a lot and everyone brawls with everyone with no one getting close to an elimination. Jimmy Uso is hanging onto the ropes and pulls them down to eliminate Truth.
Henry dumps both Usos a few seconds later and a big group of people gets rid of Mark. Primo and Ryder go out in quick succession and Drew has to last on the apron. Chavo tries to knock McIntyre out but gets backdropped to the floor and Khali knocks out Hart-Smith. JTG is dumb enough to go up top and gets chopped out by Khali. Bryan throws Kidd out and McIntyre eliminates Trent.
Curtis tries to fight Regal, Sheamus and McIntyre at the same time for reasons that aren’t clear, earning himself an elimination. Masters chops at Drew but gets sent to the apron where he tries the Masterlock. Oh come on dude you’re smarter than that. Drew goes down and Evan tries Air Bourne, only to have Sheamus throw Evan down after the crash. DiBiase eliminates Regal and Drew kicks Ted in the face for an elimination. Bryan dumps McIntyre but gets pulled to the apron by Sheamus who kicks Bryan to the floor. Khali and Sheamus are the last two in and a clothesline gives Khali the win at 8:29.
Rating: D. This is becoming the standard operating procedure for these matches and again, it’s hard to really complain when it’s a relatively short battle royal just there as a DVD bonus. Khali winning is fine as he hadn’t done anything for years at this point so throw him a bone to make a victory over him mean a little bit more.
Keri Hilson sings America the Beautiful.
The set is a big sign saying WRESTLEMANIA and a big arch over the stage. It’s a simpler design but it works quite well.
The cylinder from last year has been replaced by an even bigger cube.
We don’t go straight to the opening video as a voiceover which sounds like a daytime game show host or a late night talk show announcer introduces “a supernova of entertainment” named The Rock. It’s pretty safe to say that Rock is still incredibly over as the fans practically worship at his feet.
Rock walks around a bit before hitting the FINALLY line about Atlanta and Wrestlemania. He wants to know if we can feel, taste and smell the electricity. I don’t think you can taste electricity but if you try you’ll certainly feel something. It’s time to do something special and have some fun. Therefore, when Rock says wrestle, the fans will say mania. After that wastes some time, Rock wants to talk about someone who is deciding which Fruity Pebbles shirt to put on tonight (if that line makes no sense, Rock had said Cena looked like a great big bowl of Fruity Pebbles because of all his shirts).
The fans chant CENA SUCKS and then switch to FRUITY PEBBLES. Rock stops for some of the People’s Water (his words) before saying yabba, which means he wants the people to say dabba. He rhymes a bit with his catchphrases (“Always defiant and standing taller than Andre the Giant!”) and says this is bigger than Christmas (“Sorry Santa but the Rock is bringing it all over Atlanta!”) before having the people join him for IF YA SMELL to wrap up this ten minute monologue, which really wasn’t funny.
The opening video is the standard operating procedure: talking about the history of the event with the major highlight clips before an assortment of stuff on the major matches. This still works so why mess with it?
Cole: “This is the fabric of Americana!” Cole, in his own plastic box, is one of the top heels in the company and is already arguing with Lawler, who he’ll be facing tonight in Lawler’s first ever Wrestlemania match.
Smackdown World Title: Alberto Del Rio vs. Edge
Alberto (who won the 2011 Royal Rumble to earn this shot) is challenging and comes out in a Rolls Royce (he was a car guy, to put it mildly) with his personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez doing his introduction. Del Rio also has Brodus Clay as his bodyguard so Edge brings out Christian as backup. Feeling out process to start until Edge gets shoved into the corner but he comes out with a slap to the face.
The champ gets stomped down in the corner and they head outside with Del Rio sending Edge and his bad arm into the barricade. Back in and we hit an armbar as Del Rio starts getting ready for his cross armbreaker. The bad arm is wrapped around the middle rope as you can’t argue with Del Rio’s psychology so far. Edge avoids a charge to send Alberto outside and follows with a big over the top flip dive.
Back in and Edge heads up top, only to get armdragged back down to the mat in a big crash. A big boot and flapjack get two for the champ but a Codebreaker to the arm looks to set up the armbreaker. Edge counters into the Edge-O-Matic for two but Del Rio grabs the armbreaker a few seconds later, only to have Edge roll his feet into the ropes. Del Rio follows up with a running enziguri but Edge gets his foot on the ropes again. Rodriguez tries to break it up, triggering a brawl between Christian and Brodus.
The Edgecution (impaler DDT) looks to set up the spear but Del Rio sidesteps it and Del Rio pulls the arm into the post. Now the armbreaker goes on in the middle of the ring until Edge rolls onto him for a cover, forcing Del Rio to break it up. There’s the Edgecator (a variation on the Sharpshooter) as Christian takes Brodus out. Del Rio escapes but walks into the spear (with the bad arm to no pain from Edge) to retain Edge’s title at 11:09.
Rating: C+. Good enough match but Edge not selling the arm really hurt things. If he’s not going to sell it, why waste our time watching Del Rio try to get the submission? That’s the major problem with a heel using a submission hold: almost no top face ever taps out so the finisher isn’t all that effective.
Now for the interesting part: this would be Edge’s last match due to another neck injury and the title would be vacated. If he was leaving less than a month later, why not drop the title here and put Del Rio over as a career killer? That’s never set well with me, but it did at least give us a good moment for Edge’s last win.
Post match Edge and Christian destroy Del Rio’s car. I’m sure there will be rapid legal ramifications for their actions of course. Then again, if Matt Hardy doesn’t get arrested for burning down Jeff’s house, this is pretty tame. Also you would think Del Rio would go up there to save his car or at least try to but the crowbars Edge and Christian are holding might have something to do with it.
Tough Enough ad.
Cole brags about his Slammys and promises to win tonight.
Cody Rhodes vs. Rey Mysterio
This was an interesting story as Cody had been a narcissistic man who believed he was the best looking person on the roster. Then Mysterio hurt Cody’s face with the 619, forcing Cody to undergo facial reconstruction surgery. Cody returned and wore a mask to hide the horrible surgery scars. Then the mask came off to reveal that Cody looked fine but he still swore the scars were there. He kept wearing the mask and looked like Dr. Doom for a really interesting psychological character which should have taken him up the card.
Mysterio is Captain America this year and he starts hammering Cody’s ribs as Cody is still in the hard mask. Cody headbutts him down and goes for Rey’s knee brace, followed by the Disaster Kick (springboard kick to the face) for two. We hit a one arm camel clutch followed by an Alabama Slam for two more.
Cody slaps on a nerve hold as Cole continues to rip on Rey for not doing enough to make up for the injury. A delayed superplex (that’s a rare sight) drops Rey for two but he gets out of Cross Rhodes (a rolling cutter) and sends Cody to the floor. Rey sends him into the apron with a headscissors but dives into a wheelbarrow suplex for two. The 619 is broken up (Cole is thrilled) and Cody gets the knee brace off.
Rey gets two more off a moonsault press but Cody loses his mask. The 619 to the exposed face sets up the top rope splash but Rey puts the brakes on when Cody raises his knees. Rey puts Cody’s mask on for some headbutts, sending Cole into hysterics. The fans chant for Cody as the referee gets rid of the mask, leaving Cody to hit Rey in the head with the brace. Cross Rhodes finishes Rey at 12:01.
Rating: B. This was a lot better than I was expecting, even if you ignore Cole’s incessant heel commentary (we’ll come back to that later). Mysterio putting the mask on was a stupid move on his part but at least the right guy won. Cody was running with this character but unfortunately this was pretty much the peak as he became just Cody Rhodes again, which isn’t really interesting. Good match here though.
Snoop Dogg is here to scout talent for his upcoming tour so Teddy Long has set up some auditions. Snoop: “Let the dogs loose.” First up is William Regal who raps about being a heel. Regal: “Was that gangster enough for you?” Beth Phoenix and Great Khali sing Summer Lovin from Grease. Zack Ryder sings Friday (a big hit at this point) until Roddy Piper breaks a coconut over his head. Yoshi Tatsu sings We Will Rock You as Chris Masters does his pectoral dance to the beat. Hornswoggle comes in but Teddy says he can’t talk so Snoop leaves. After they’re gone, Hornswoggle raps as the Bellas dance.
Kane/Big Show/Santino Marella/Kofi Kingston vs. Corre
Corre is Justin Gabriel/Heath Slater/Wade Barrett/Ezekiel Jackson in a spiritual successor to Nexus. They’re having some success too as Slater (a country boy) and Gabriel (a high flier) are Tag Team Champions (finally with two belts between them) and Barrett (a British brawler) is Intercontinental Champion. Jackson is a very muscular powerhouse. Show has been having issues with the team as of late, Kingston lost the title to Barrett and Corre put out Santino’s partner Vladimir Kozlov. Santino and Slater start but it’s quickly off to Show to destroy Heath. Everything breaks down and Show KO’s Slater for the pin at 1:35.
Santino dances a bit, probably thrilled with getting a Wrestlemania payday for such a quick match (really the only reason for this match to exist and there’s nothing wrong with that).
The Rock is in the back with Eve Torres and lets her feel his arm. Eve describes the weekend as magical so Rock offers to make magic with the next person that comes around the corner. As you might guess, cue Mae Young who wants the people’s strudel (guess what that means). Rock makes some old age jokes (Rock: “This is Eve. Like your childhood friends Adam and Eve.”) so Eve gives him a little spank. Rock wants anyone else to come around the corner and here’s Steve Austin. It’s serious Austin tonight and they say it’s good to see each other and say they both remember. You could feel the electricity here.
We recap CM Punk vs. Randy Orton. Punk had taken over the Nexus after they threw out Wade Barrett and targeted Orton, costing him the World Title at the 2011 Royal Rumble. This was all due to Orton costing Punk his Raw World Title back in 2009, causing Punk to promise that Orton won’t be champion again on his watch. Orton took out the New Nexus one by one (in about six weeks after Cena couldn’t do it in six months).
CM Punk vs. Randy Orton
Orton comes in with a bad right knee after Punk hit it with a wrench. Punk dives after the leg but gets punched in the face for his efforts. They head outside where Punk dives over the steps and kicks them back into the bad knee to take over. A cross body gets two back inside but Punk stops to do Orton’s pose, earning himself a backbreaker. Something like a Stunner to the leg puts Orton right back in trouble though and Punk cannonballs down on it.
Orton gets tied up in the corner for a top rope double stomp. The GTS is countered into an RKO attempt but Punk kicks him in the face for two. Punk gets crotched on the top for a superplex but it bangs up the knee again. There’s a figure four around the post (you can’t fault Punk’s strategy here) followed by something like an Indian deathlock.
Some headbutts get Orton out and an Angle Slam gets two. The Anaconda Vice (Punk’s arm trap choke) out of nowhere has Orton in trouble until he rolls on top to make Punk break it up. The elevated DDT looks to set up the Punt but the knee gives out. Punk blocks an RKO attempt and goes up top for a clothesline, only to dive right into the RKO for the pin at 14:40.
Rating: B-. Another good match here as the first hour and a half of this show have been on a roll. Punk losing here was a surprise but it gave us the sweet RKO out of nowhere for the year. Orton was starting to get into a weird place as he was the upper midcarder on call for whatever you needed him to do. Punk would be back later in the year though so he didn’t have a lot to be worried about.
Gene Okerlund is in the back with Rock and they meet John Cena’s #1 fan: Pee Wee Herman. Rock recruits him to be a man and the payoff is Gene in Cena gear. This really isn’t funny.
No Hall of Fame video this year as they just come out. The Class of 2011 includes Abdullah the Butcher (legendary hardcore wrestler), Sunny (never likely to be mentioned again in WWE after basically going crazy), the Road Warriors (long overdue), Drew Carey (he was in the 2001 Royal Rumble), Bullet Bob Armstrong (famous Georgia wrestler), Jim Duggan (with a bowtie on the 2×4) and Shawn Michaels as the headliner, getting his own entrance.
Clip from this week’s Raw of Lawler beating up Cole’s trainer Jack Swagger. Lawler tried to go after Cole and got coffee thrown in his face.
Jerry Lawler vs. Michael Cole
Austin is guest referee and this is Lawler’s chance for revenge after Cole treated him like garbage for months, including costing him a Raw World Title shot. Booker T., Josh Matthews and JR will be on commentary. As he almost always did, Cole cuts off JR’s entrance to call Lawler and Ross old and fat. Swagger does his push-ups on the ramp entrance but Austin’s music and ATV cut him off.
Cole hides in the Cole Mine (his plastic box) and warms up until Austin rings the bell. Lawler takes out Swagger and Cole (showing off a lot of tattoos) immediately starts begging off. Cole offers a handshake through the box wall but Lawler doesn’t let go. Instead he pulls Cole’s head against the wall over and over before climbing in to pull Cole out (after a beating inside the box of course).
Lawler rams Cole head first into his public speaking platform (for official announcements from the anonymous Raw General Manager). Swagger gets in a cheap shot and puts on the ankle lock. Austin doesn’t see it but he counts even slower than Bruce Hart did last year. Cole bends the ankle around the bottom rope and does a very slow motion Vader Bomb from the middle rope for two. With Lawler in trouble, Cole pulls down the strap and puts on the Ancole (yes Ancole) lock.
Lawler gets out and stomps Cole down in the corner as Austin doesn’t seem interested in intervening. Swagger throws in a towel but Austin throws it back. That’s not cool with Swagger so he gets a Stunner for his troubles. Cole slaps Austin and eats a BIG right hand from Lawler, who easily pounds Cole down. The middle rope fist drop (with the real strap lowering) gets two as Lawler pulls him up. The ankle lock makes Cole tap (Austin: “DO……..YOU…….QUIT?”) at 13:45.
Rating: D. The match was bad for the most part and Cole got in WAY too much offense but the whole thing had to end with Lawler beating him definitively. I know they can’t use the piledriver but at least we got something good enough. Maybe this shuts Cole up for the night if nothing else.
Post match a lot of beer is consumed (not by Lawler, a noted non-drinker) and Booker gets in the ring for a Spinarooni for absolutely no apparent reason. Austin gives him a Stunner for coming in uninvited. Serves that rude Booker right. The celebration continues…..and we get an e-mail from the GM, saying that the decision is reversed due to Austin overstepping his bounds so Cole wins.
I know a lot of this show is poorly remembered and this is the biggest reason why. The first two hours of this show were breezing by and then this happened. You could feel the air going out of the stadium and that’s the last thing you want to do at any point and especially halfway through.
There was no logical reason for Lawler to lose here. Cole had been built up for months and was finally going to get what was coming to him. We had the moment and then he loses to keep this whole thing going for two more months, until Lawler beat Cole in a match no one remembers. This killed what the show had going and it’s going to take a miracle to recover.
Austin Stuns Matthews for making the announcement.
Wrestlemania week video.
We recap Undertaker vs. HHH which is really just the fallout from Shawn’s retirement and HHH trying to do what his best friend couldn’t. Both guys talked about how big this was but somehow avoided talking about their first Wrestlemania match. This is another match that really doesn’t need a big explanation.
JR and King are doing commentary now.
HHH vs. Undertaker
No holds barred. HHH comes out to Metallica’s For Whom the Bell Tolls with a phalanx of soldiers and battle armor. Undertaker doesn’t quite one up him with Johnny Cash’s Ain’t No Grave but it’s close. HHH punches him into the corner to start so Undertaker throws him over the top and out to the floor. A whip into the steps has HHH in early trouble and it’s already time to load up the Spanish announcers’ table, only to have HHH spear him through the Cole Mine.
That only makes Undertaker do the sit up and power glare, followed by a jumping clothesline back inside. Old School is broken up though and it’s time to load up the announcers’ table. The chokeslam and Pedigree are broken up, the latter with a backdrop to send HHH crashing back to the floor. Dueling chants of 19-0 and 18-1 are quickly broken up by the return of the Taker Dive and both guys are down on the floor.
It’s Undertaker up first and he sets up the steps in front of the Spanish announcers’ table, only to charge into a spinebuster through it instead. Back in and Undertaker grabs a quick chokeslam for two. The Last Ride and Pedigree are both countered, followed by Undertaker charging into a spinebuster for two. This has been a war with nothing but big bombs so far. Undertaker kicks a chair away, only to walk into a Pedigree for two.
The Last Ride and Tombstone (complete with tongue out) both get two and now it’s serious. A DDT on the chair drops Undertaker and a second Pedigree is good for another near fall. The third Pedigree gets the same so HHH massacres him with the chair, including a big shot to the head. For some reason HHH doesn’t cover so Undertaker gets up. HHH: “JUST DIE!” Undertaker grabs him by the throat but there’s nothing behind it and HHH easily shoves him away.
HHH uses a Tombstone for two and people act like it’s some huge deal. This never worked for me as I’ve seen people use that on Undertaker for years and save for Kane, IT HAS NEVER WORKED ONCE! Why is this supposed to be some big, huge deal? HHH goes to get the sledgehammer but walks into Hell’s Gate and finally taps after a ridiculous minute and forty eight seconds to give Undertaker the win at 28:54.
Rating: A-. It’s really good but the last five minutes or so where they tried to turn it into theater took a lot of it down. If HHH wanted to end him that badly, why didn’t he just cover? That and the big Tombstone spot really hurt it as it stopped making sense. This was treated as one of the best matches of all time and it’s just not at that level, especially with Punk vs. Cena coming later in the year.
That’s not to say this wasn’t an awesome match because it certainly was. These guys were just hammering each other out there and it made for some really entertaining spots. The problem for me though was I never bought the Streak as being in jeopardy. I felt that with Shawn at times but it never came here. If you don’t have that drama, you’re missing a little something. It’s a step beneath both Shawn matches, but not a long step.
19-0 flashes on the screen and both guys are done. HHH slowly gets up as the trainer comes in to check on Undertaker (thankfully in silence). Undertaker gets out of the ring and falls on his face, eventually needing to be carted up the ramp.
Wrestlemania XXVII is in Miami.
Dolph Ziggler/Laycool vs. John Morrison/Trish Stratus/Snooki
Snooki is from Jersey Shore, a fad which has thankfully died down. Vickie Guerrero introduces Laycool because she’s still around. The bad guys jump our heroes from behind so Snooki slaps Dolph. McCool and Trish get us going and Trish takes over with chops, including one with Snooki licking her hand for good luck. An early Faithbreaker attempt is countered with a facebuster and a big Chick Kick gets two. The guys come in and Morrison knocks Ziggler to the floor for Starship Pain (split legged corkscrew moonsault). Snooki comes in with a handspring elbow into the corner followed by a splash to pin McCool at 4:16.
Rating: D. This was your lame celebrity match of the year but at least they kept it short and didn’t do anything too bad. They didn’t try to do anything too complicated or big here, even though the show really didn’t need anything else packed into this. Trish hadn’t lost a step either.
The new attendance record is announced. Notice that they said for any entertainment event, which excludes football.
We see someone watching videos jumping back and forth between wrestling legends and Miz on the Real World and his rise up the WWE card from joke to World Champion. The song playing talks about how someone isn’t stopping even if everyone hates him. This is really, really good stuff and a great middle finger to all of Miz’s detractors. The problem for Miz is the shadow of the Rock over this entire thing which no one was going to be able to shake. Cena won an Elimination Chamber to earn this shot.
Raw World Title: The Miz vs. John Cena
Cena is challenging. Miz and his crony Alex Riley walk through balloons spelling out “AWESOME!”. Cena’s big entrance involves a gospel choir and a man saying a prayer talking about how Cena is here to do good work and that he wished he had more than one life to do it. Cena might actually be booed louder than Miz. Feeling out process to start with Cena getting dropped off a shoulder but coming back with a hiptoss.
Miz takes over in the corner and whips Cena hard across the ring, setting up his running clothesline for two. A gutwrench suplex gets the same for Cena as the crowd is just silent. Miz misses the second running corner clothesline and takes the top rope Fameasser for two. The champ slowly stomps him down and a baseball slide sends Cena out to the floor. Back in and a knee lift gets two as Cena has shown no fire so far.
Cena fights back with some of his normal stuff including the Shuffle but the AA is countered into a low DDT for two more. Miz goes over and rips off a turnbuckle pad but we’re not ready for that yet. Instead Miz has to counter another AA so Cena takes him down into the STF, sending Miz crawling for the ropes. Back up and Miz sends him into the buckle, setting up the Skull Crushing Finale (full nelson faceplant) for two.
There goes the referee (of course) and Cena hits the AA (to silence, as the fans aren’t that stupid) for no count. Riley sneaks in with a metal briefcase shot to the face for two and now the fans are waking up. Now it’s Miz trying his own briefcase shot but it hits Riley by mistake, followed by one of the biggest AA’s of all time for a very close two (and the fans applaud). Miz heads outside so Cena spears him over the barricade (legitimately giving Miz a concussion)…..and that’s a double countout at 14:43.
Rating: D-. The last few minutes got better but this was AWFUL otherwise as the fans were sitting there in silence. Miz had a great build to this match but that didn’t mean he was ready for the main event of Wrestlemania. Also, A DOUBLE COUNTOUT? That’s dull on Raw and they try it here?
Never mind maybe because here’s the Rock. Before he can say anything, we get an e-mail from the GM. Rock reads the message but decides it doesn’t matter what the GM thinks. Wrestlemania isn’t ending like this so let’s keep going with No DQ. The bell rings and Cena takes a Rock Bottom, giving Miz the pin to retain about 40 seconds after the restart.
Miz goes after Rock for no logical reason so Rock lays him out and drops the People’s Elbow. A lot of posing and four minutes of highlights end the show.
Overall Rating: C-. It’s amazing how much two matches can destroy an otherwise solid show but that main event and the Lawler decision being reversed crushed this thing into the ground. Aside from those two matches, this is actually a heck of a show with nothing really bad (aside from the mixed tag which was kept short). Those two bad matches are devastating though and the ending left a REALLY bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths, which I can easily understand.
The other major issue is the Rock, who loomed over the entire thing. That opening monologue was something a 16 year old could have written and after the thing with Austin, he pretty much disappeared. The ending sets up more down the road, but that doesn’t make for a good way to close out the show. It’s not the worst show ever but those two holes are way too much to overcome.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books.
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Two WWE Stars Emotional About Lack Of Matches