By Adam Testa
11:35 PM EDT, April 1, 2012
On paper, Sunday night's WrestleMania looked as if it could be one of the strongest installments in the event's 28-year history.
In execution, it was anything but. I personally avoided Twitter and Facebook, so that the thoughts I would be sharing here would be as purely mine as much as possible.
The show lacked the feel of WrestleMania; the first hour felt rushed and most of the matches seemed to be missing something. The show wasn't bad by any means, so I don't want people to misread what I am saying, but I expected more.
There will surely be people raving about each and every match on the show, and I won't argue personal opinions with anyone, but in my eyes, WrestleMania fell short of the mark. Maybe the bar had been set too high in my eyes.
But two new champions were crowned, the main event lived up to the hype and had a shocking result and there are plenty of questions and unknowns moving forward.
To me, this year's WrestleMania did more to set up intrigue and wonder for what comes next than it did cap off the past year worth of build.
Here is a match-by-match breakdown of the show, written as the pay-per-view progressed.
World Heavyweight Championship
Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus
Seeing this match open the show wasn't surprising. Seeing it last less than five seconds was.
Every WrestleMania has that token match that ends with one signature move, but having that happen in a world title match and the show opener was not a good way to start off the show.
After my interview with Sheamus, this was one of my most anticipated matches for the show. These two had something to prove after being bumped from last year's event, but this match did nothing to accomplish that.
Sheamus winning was inevitable and acceptable, but did it really need to come at this much of Bryan's expense?
The crowd, which was filled with signs supporting Bryan, was vocal with its displeasure, chanting "Daniel Bryan" throughout the next match.
Randy Orton vs. Kane
With the result of the second match, it had become clear WWE wanted to create the image that anything can happen at WrestleMania.
Kane defeated Randy Orton cleanly, which very few -- if any -- people predicted. This feud now seems destined to continue at Extreme Rules later this month.
As for the match itself, it was a decent contest and about what you would expect from these two. The focus of the match was on their brawling style, and Kane hit two chokeslams, one from the second rope.
I had expected more false finishes, at least one from an Orton RKO, so I was a little shocked when Orton failed to kick out at the finish.
Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show
Big Show finally earned his WrestleMania moment, winning the Intercontinental Championship in a good but short match.
The Intercontinental title was Big Show's final active title to add to his resume, so this gesture of good will works in that regard. Now Big Show has accomplished all he could do.
Rhodes was allowed to keep the match competitive, which was good for his progression. It will be interesting to see if Rhodes moves up the card and who Big Show will feud with.
After three matches, though, this show felt as if it was lacking the WrestleMania feel. The three matches preceding matches wouldn't have seemed out of place on any given episode of Raw or Smackdown.
Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix and Eve
The WrestleMania tradition of celebrities winning continued, as Menounos pinned Divas Champion Phoenix to score the win for her team.
The match honestly wasn't bad for a divas match, and Menounos played her role well. I defended her appearance on the show based on her being a fan of the product and having past history with Phoenix, so it was nice to see her fit in well.
Kelly also had the move of the show to this point with her somersault flip off the top rope onto Phoenix.
It was also a little odd to see the heel team come out to Eve's music, when Phoenix is the champion.
But perhaps the most baffling part of the whole ordeal was that less than one hour into a four-hour show, four out of eight matches for the show were completed. I'm all for the big matches getting ample time, but the pacing of the show at this point seemed a little rushed.
Hell in a Cell
Triple H vs. The Undertaker with Shawn Michaels as guest referee
Anyone who has followed Ring Posts for the past few months knows I was not excited for this match. The end result didn't do anything to change my perception.
Did they put on a good match? Most definitely. Was it an epic encounter that will be remembered 10 years from now? Probably not.
First, the Hell in a Cell stipulation was unnecessary, as it hardly came into play during the match. The same end result could have been accomplished with a falls-count-anywhere match.
Second, Michaels as referee added a lot to the story of the match, but in my opinion, it came too early. Undertaker locked Michaels in Hell's Gate; Michaels superkicked Undertaker, allowing Triple H a nearfall.
But what happened after that? Michaels went back to being an unbiased referee and Undertaker didn't worry much about Michaels' presence.
This was a match of big spots, mostly involving weapons, and long periods of rest in between them, much like their bout last year.
Both men are legends, and I respect what they've done for their whole careers. But Sunday night's match to me showed that both men are in, if not past, the twilights of their careers.
The match ended with a show of respect, so hopefully Undertaker rides off into the sunset at 20-0 and Triple H moves into his management role full-time.
I'm sure there are many who disagree with me and feel this match was outstanding, and everyone has the right to have their own opinion, but to me, this match was good but not the epic they tried to promise.
Team Teddy Long (Santino Marella, Kofi Kingston, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, The Great Khali and Booker T) vs. Team John Laurinaitis (David Otunga, The Miz, Dolph Ziggler, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry and Drew McIntyre)
This match started off a cluster, with everyone trying to get time in the ring. But once it got going, the home stretch of the match featured some great spots of action.
Kingston, Ryder and R-Truth hit triple topes, a Cobra from Marella to Miz led to a great nearfall and Ryder and Ziggler had some great interaction.
The ending with Eve costing Ryder the match, and kicking him below the belt afterward, was logical given the storyline and how it's played out.
Monday night's Raw will be interesting to see how Lauriniatis handles the situation now that he's solely in charge of WWE. Hopefully the storyline continues with him punishing members of Team Long, while giving special treatment to the men who represented him in the match.
After floundering for a year, this could be Miz's chance to move up the card again.
CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
A last-minute stipulation was added to this match that stated Punk would lose the title if he was disqualified, which played into the early goings of the match, as Jericho tried to draw Punk into violence.
This provided some drama to carry the early parts of the contest, while the two brawled. Many expected this match to be a technical wrestling masterpiece, but the end result was somewhat of a mix between that and a brawl, a perfect reflection of the way their feud has transcended from deciding who is "best in the world" into a personal issue.
These two put together a good match and story. The focus on submission moves was great, as making the other man tap out would be the best way to prove who truly is the best.
The ending sequence of the match, which Punk won with the Anaconda Vice, was great to watch. Hopefully these two aren't done with each other quite yet, as their feud still has mileage.
John Cena vs. The Rock
This was the match that would make or break WrestleMania, and in the end, it proved to live up to the hype.
Cena and The Rock put together a solid match, given their style. Was it a work-rate classic? No. Was it entertaining? You'd better believe it.
The Rock showed no signs of ring rust after being out of action for eight years, and Cena made the perfect foil for him. The crowd, which hadn't been as vocal for the rest of the show, helped add another dimension to help elevate this match.
The duo made each big move and every nearfall meaningful, and in the end, it helped create an amazing sequence.
Many people, myself included, picked Cena to win this contest, so when he failed to kick out at the end, I personally was shocked. The thought of The Rock winning was always in the back of my mind, but I didn't imagine it would be a perfectly clean 1-2-3 in the middle of the ring.
Much like other elements of this show, the ending leaves me curious to see where things go from here.
Sheamus d. Daniel Bryan to win the World Heavyweight Championship
Kane d. Randy Orton
Big Show d. Cody Rhodes to win the Intercontinental Championship
Kelly Kelly and Maria Menounos d. Beth Phoenix and Eve
Undertaker d. Triple H in Hell in a Cell
Team Laurinaitis d. Team Long
CM Punk d. Chris Jericho to retain the WWE Championship
The Rock d. John Cena
Ring Posts’ Adam Testa has teamed up with My 1-2-3 Cents and All American Pro Wrestling to bring you "From the Rafters Radio," a weekly pro wrestling talk radio show airing on Monster Radio 1150 AM in Southern Illinois and streaming worldwide on wggh.net.
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