Georgia Dome – Atlanta, Georgia – April 3, 2011
Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Josh Mathews, are on commentary.
PRESHOW MATCH #1: Lumberjack Match for the United States Championship – Sheamus vs. Daniel Bryan
Sheamus has been the Champion since 3.14.11, and this is his first defense. The lumberjacks are R-Truth, The Great Khali, David Hart Smith, Mark Henry, Johnny Curtis, Evan Bourne, Trent Barreta, Chris Masters, JTG, Yoshi Tatsu, Chavo Guerrero, Ted DiBiase, Tyler Reks, William Regal, Drew McIntyre, Curt Hawkins, Tyson Kidd, Primo, Zack Ryder, Jimmy Uso, and Jey Uso. Sheamus overpowers Bryan to start. Bryan comes back with a flying clothesline and then unleashes some kicks to the chest. Sheamus rolls to the floor and Henry throws him right back in. That allows Bryan to get a quick rollup for two. Sheamus cuts him off with an Axe Bomber to the head. A short-arm clothesline gets two for the Champion. Sheamus clubs Bryan to the floor and Guerrero (sort of) throws him back in the ring. Bryan tries to fire up but Sheamus cuts him off with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Sheamus continues the assault, going for Pale Justice but Bryan slips out and low-bridges the ropes, sending the champ to the floor. The lumberjacks try to throw him back in but Sheamus fights them off. Bryan tries the flying knee off the apron but Sheamus moves and he hits DiBiase instead. The match turns into chaos as the lumberjacks all start fighting and the referee calls a no-contest at 4:19. Smackdown General Manager Theodore Long comes out and announces an impromptu battle royal. Why didn’t they just do that in the first place? They were going along rather nicely until the abrupt finish.
PRESHOW MATCH #2: WrestleMania Battle Royal
Khali tosses Reks in about seven seconds, and then Hawkins seconds later. Henry tosses Tatsu, robbing him of a chance to repeat. It takes a few minutes for the next elimination, and it’s the Usos teaming up to eliminate Truth. Moments later Henry eliminates both Usos and then Primo, Kidd, and Ryder eliminate Henry. Khali tosses Primo and Bryan tosses Ryder. McIntyre eliminates Guerrero. Khali tosses Smith and then JTG. Bryan eliminates Kidd. Reks tosses Barreta. It takes Sheamus, Regal, and McIntyre to eliminate Curtis for some reason. McIntyre eliminates Masters. Bourne is able to hit McIntyre with Air Bourne, and then Sheamus dumps him to the floor. DiBiase eliminates Regal, McIntyre eliminates DiBiase, and Bryan eliminates McIntyre. Sheamus and Bryan fight on the apron and Sheamus knocks him to the floor. We’re down to Khali and Sheamus now, and Khali quickly eliminates the U.S. Champion for the win at 8:29. I remember it was reported that Khali won the U.S. Title there and people freaked out. At any rate this was pretty fun for a battle royal.
MATCH #1: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Edge vs. Alberto Del Rio
Edge has been the Champion since 2.18.11, and this is his second defense. He’s accompanied by his best friend Christian. Del Rio of course has his personal ring announcer Ricardo Rodriguez with him, as well as his bodyguard Brodus Clay. Edge is coming off four straight WrestleMania losses, while Del Rio is making his debut. Del Rio wisely goes after Edge’s taped up arm right away. Edge backdrops Del Rio to the floor, but pays for it when he joins him, as Del Rio throws his arm into the barricade and the steel steps. Back in the ring Del Rio covers for two. Del Rio continues going after the arm but misses a charge into the ropes and falls hard to the floor. Edge follows him out with a somersault dive over the top rope. Back in the ring Edge goes up top but Del Rio armdrags him down for a two-count. Edge comes back with a boot to the face and both men are down. Back on their feet Edge unleashes a flurry, including the flapjack for two. Del Rio goes back to the arm and tries the Cross Armbreaker but Edge counters to the Edge-o-Matic for two. Edge tries an O’Connor Roll but Del Rio rolls into the Cross Armbreaker and Edge has to reach the ropes. A frustrated Del Rio argues with the referee, allowing Edge to snap his neck off the top rope. Now Edge goes back up top and Del Rio kicks him in the head for another two-count. Rodriguez threw Edge’s leg off the bottom rope there, so Christian runs over to fight Rodriguez and Clay, and gets kicked in the face by Del Rio and slammed down by Clay. Meanwhile Edge rolls Del Rio up for a near-fall. Edge hits the Impaler DDT and looks ready for the Spear. Del Rio avoids it and Clay takes a cheap shot from the floor. Once again Del Rio locks in the Cross Armbreaker but Edge turns it into a pinning combination for two. Edge then locks on the Edgecution. Clay tries to interfere again so Christian hits him with a tornado DDT out on the floor! Del Rio powers out of the hold but then turns right into a Spear and Edge gets the pin in what would prove to be his final match at 11:09. That was better than I remembered it, as Del Rio’s psychology was sound and the crowd was into Edge the entire time.
MATCH #2: Rey Mysterio vs. Cody Rhodes
Mysterio is paying homage to Captain America this year. He hits an immediate rana off the top rope before Rhodes can even take his jacket off. Rhodes cuts him off and goes to work, hitting an early Beautiful Disaster kick (not yet called as such) for two. Mysterio tries to fight back but Rhodes catches him with the Alabama Slam for a near-fall. Rhodes continues to pour it on, hitting a delayed superplex. That’s an awesome move and it gets two. Rhodes signals for Crossroads but Mysterio slips out and sends Rhodes to the floor. Mysterio hits a dropkick and misses a baseball slide but is able to connect on a headscissors that sends Rhodes crashing into the ring apron. That was cool. Back in the ring Mysterio hits the seated senton off the top rope for two. He continues the fast paced assault, but Rhodes catches him with a wheelbarrow suplex for a two-count. Mysterio comes back with a headscissors and tries the 619 but Rhodes catches him and slingshots catapults him into the middle rope for two. Rhodes goes after the knee brace now and removes it. Even without the knee brace, Mysterio hits a springboard moonsault for two. Rhodes’s mask falls off and Mysterio takes advantage, hitting a 619! Mysterio goes for a Superfly Splash and Rhodes catches him, but Mysterio counters that and kicks Rhodes right in the face for two. He puts Rhodes’s mask on and delivers a couple of headbutts. Mysterio goes up top and hits a diving headbutt for two. The referee removes the facemask from the ring while Rhodes slips to the floor and grabs the knee brace. When Mysterio tries a suicide dive Rhodes blasts him in the face with the brace! Back in the ring Rhodes hits the Crossroads to get the upset pin at 11:58. That was really good, as the match played into the feud perfectly and they did some cool spots relating to the mask and the brace. Rhodes getting the win is awesome too.
MATCH #3: Eight-Man Tag Team Match – Big Show, Kane, Kofi Kingston & Santino Marella vs. The Corre (Wade Barrett, Ezekiel Jackson, Heath Slater & Justin Gabriel
Barrett is the current Intercontinental Champion, while Slater and Gabriel are the current WWE Tag Team Champions. Kingston was a last minute replacement for Vladimir Kozlov. Last year he was added to Money in the Bank at the last minute. What does that guy have to do to get a real spot on the card? Marella and Slater start it off. Show is quickly tagged in and he unloads on Slater. He crushes Slater in the corner and wipes him out with a shoulderblock. The referee loses control as everyone just starts coming into the ring regardless of tags. Marella hits Slater with the Cobra and Show hits him with the WMD to end this grueling contest at 1:34. I think they literally did everything they could possibly do in the time they were given.
MATCH #4: Randy Orton vs. CM Punk
Orton is coming into this match with his right leg taped up, but that doesn’t stop him from attacking right out of the gate. He knocks Punk to the floor and follows him out for more abuse. Punk kicks the steps into Orton’s injured leg. Back in the ring Punk hits a high cross body off the top rope for two. Orton hits the backbreaker but Punk cuts him off and goes right back to the leg. Punk hits the running knee in the corner and continues the leg abuse. He tries the Go 2 Sleep but Orton slips out and tries the RKO, and Punk slips out of that and kicks Orton in the face for two. Punk goes up top and Orton knocks him down. Orton hits a superplex for a two-count. Really, of the three commentators none of them mentions that Orton’s dad used that move as a finish? Punk comes right back and goes to work on the leg again. Orton fires up with clotheslines, the powerslam, and a Thesz Press. He follows up with an Angle Slam for two. Punk cuts him off and puts on the Anaconda Vise and Cole actually explains that Orton can’t use his injured leg to push out of the hold. That’s great insight. Orton gets to the ropes. Punk goes to the apron for some reason, likely so that Orton can trap him in the DDT. Orton looks for the Punt but his leg gives out on him. Punk looks confident and almost gets hit with the RKO but he’s able to avoid it. He goes for the springboard clothesline but Orton catches the RKO this time! That’s enough to for Orton to get the pin at 14:45. This is a bit of an overlooked gem, with great psychology from Punk, awesome selling by Orton, and a great finish.
MATCH #5: Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Michael Cole, with Special Guest Referee Stone Cold Steve Austin
Booker T and Jim Ross are on hand to call this match with Mathews. Cole tries to stall in the Cole Mine but Austin rings the bell and tells Lawler to go ahead and go after him! Lawler has to fight Swagger off first, which he does with little difficulty. Cole offers a handshake and wants bygones to be bygones. Of course Lawler will have none of it, pulling Cole’s head repeatedly into the Cole Mine wall. Lawler gets into the Cole Mine and continues the abuse. Then he throws Cole into the Anonymous Raw General Manager’s podium. Swagger attacks Lawler behind Austin’s back, allowing Cole to hit a baseball slide. Cole distracts Austin while Swagger puts the Ankle Lock on Lawler for a couple of seconds. Back in the ring Cole goes on offense. It’s not too often you get to type that sentence. This actually goes on for several minutes. Cole then pulls one strap down and then puts on the An-Cole Lock to absolutely no reaction. Lawler kicks his way out of it and then stomps a mudhole. Swagger throws the towel in but Austin chooses not to recognize that so Swagger gets in the ring to protest. Just take one guess how that ends for him (with a Stunner). Cole pleads with Austin and then slaps him! Lawler takes over now, hitting a series of punches and the dropkick! He goes to the second rope and hits the fist drop, but he pulls Cole up at the count of two. Lawler puts the Ankle Lock on and Cole immediately taps but Austin allows Lawler to keep the hold on as Cole begs for him to ring the bell, which he finally does at 13:45. That was much too long but they did some cute spots and the finish was good.
Austin and Lawler celebrate, and Booker T decides he has to join them for a Spin-a-Roonie. Unfortunately for Booker he ends up on the receiving end of a Stunner. Then from out of nowhere the Anonymous Raw GM chimes in and says that since Austin was so blatantly biased, he is reversing the decision to a disqualification win for Cole. Lawler throws Mathews in the ring to take a Stunner. What an absurdly stupid coda to a match that had no reason to not be a definitive end to this feud.
MATCH #6: No Holds Barred Match – Undertaker vs. Triple H
The Game comes out swinging but the Dead Man is up to the task, throwing HHH to the floor. Undertaker throws HHH into the steel steps, and HHH comes back by driving Undertaker through the Cole Mine. Back in the ring Undertaker looks more annoyed than hurt, and he hits the flying clothesline. Undertaker goes for Old School but HHH whips him down to the mat. They go back to the floor and HHH whips Undertaker into the barricade. HHH clears off the announce table and goes for the Pedigree but Undertaker backdrops him to the floor! Undertaker follows up with the flying tope and manages not to spike himself. Back up on their feet Undertaker charges and HHH catches him with a spinebuster through the Spanish Announce Table. Back in the ring Undertaker hits a Chokeslam for two. HHH comes back and tries mounted punches in the corner (you think he’d learn) and Undertaker tries the Last Ride but HHH slips out and hits another spinebuster for two. The Game goes outside and brings in a steel chair, but Undertaker books him in the face. Undertaker hits HHH with the chair a couple of times but HHH hits a Pedigree from out of nowhere for a two-count. HHH goes for a superplex but Undertaker reverses to the Last Ride! That only gets two. Undertaker hits the Tombstone Piledriver but HHH kicks out again! He goes for another one but HHH slips out and hits a DDT on the steel chair.
They sell their exhaustion for a while and when they get back up HHH hits a second Pedigree but Undertaker kicks out. HHH hits a third Pedigree and Undertaker kicks out again! Now HHH grabs the steel chair and goes all Stone Cold at WrestleMania X-Seven, and yells for Undertaker to “stay down.” Now while Undertaker is lying on the mat, why doesn’t HHH go for a cover? Undertaker gets up and HHH blasts him right in the face with the chair. HHH continues telling Undertaker to “stay down” and “die,” but I still can’t figure out why he won’t cover him. Undertaker grabs HHH by the throat but there’s not much behind it. He tells HHH to bring it, so HHH makes the throat slash gesture and then hits the Tombstone! The crowd buys it but Undertaker kicks out! A desperate HHH goes outside the ring and grabs the sledgehammer. Before he can use it, Undertaker grabs HHH in the Hell’s Gate! HHH grabs the sledgehammer but it falls from his hand and he taps out at 29:21. There are a lot of divergent opinions on this one, and I land somewhere in the middle. They did their damndest to make this one feel epic, and it worked to a point, but it definitely seemed like they were trying really hard and that’s always a turnoff. I liked HHH’s strategy of going for big moves throughout the match and Undertaker just doing his best to survive – other than the Shawn Michaels matches, which are perfect, this is the most vulnerable Undertaker has seemed during the Streak. Forced epic is always really hard to pull off, and I can’t fault the effort, and if they didn’t have to live up to the Shawn Michaels matches this might have seemed better, but it is what it is.
MATCH #7: Six-Person Mixed Tag Team Match – John Morrison, Trish Stratus & Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi vs. Dolph Ziggler & Laycool
Michelle McCool and Layla attack Stratus and Snooki right off the bat and the men split them up for some reason. Snooki slaps Ziggler and the referee separates everyone to start the match proper. McCool and Stratus start it off, and despite an early onslaught by the former seven-time Women’s Champion, McCool cuts off the Matrix move and goes for the Faithbreaker. Stratus counters that with a facebuster. She follows up with a Stratusphere attempt but McCool blocks it and they tumble hard to the floor. Layla comes over to help out but Stratus is able to take out both members of Laycool. Back in the ring Stratus gets a schoolgirl rollup for two, and then lands the Chick Kick. Ziggler breaks up that cover and Morrison comes in to clothesline him to the floor. Morrison then follows Ziggler out with Starship Pain! Snooki tags and the crowd boos, but they quickly turn to cheers as she hits a double handspring elbow on McCool in the corner, and then a handspring splash to get the pin at 3:17. That was perfectly harmless and you need to have a match like this between Triple H versus Undertaker and the main event. Watching Morrison give Stratus the cold shoulder is fun too.
MATCH #8: WWE Championship Match – The Miz vs. John Cena
The videos before the match are seriously awesome. Miz has been the Champion since 11.22.10, and this is his sixth defense. He’s accompanied by his protégé Alex Riley. They go back and forth to start and the crowd does NOT like John Cena. Miz hits the corner clothesline early for a two-count. Cena comes back with a gutwrench slam for two. They rise and Miz hits the Side Effect for two. Miz goes for the corner clothesline again but Cena avoids it this time. Cena goes up and hits the Cena Slice for two. He charges to the corner but misses and hits nothing but turnbuckle. Miz kicks Cena in the face and gets two. He continues slugging away at Cena, keeping him on the mat. These guys don’t appear to be on the same page. Cena misses a cross body block or something and lands awkwardly. Miz hits a kneelift for two. Even Ross and Lawler seem to notice that these guys don’t seem quite right, particularly Cena. Miz goes for the Skull Crushing Finale but Cena powers out and unleashes flurry. Cena hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle and goes for the Attitude Adjustment but Miz slips out and hits the baby DDT for two. Miz hits a neckbreaker for another two-count. Miz removes a top turnbuckle pad, and while the referee is distracted with that Cena gets an inside cradle but it only gets two. Cena avoids getting thrown into the exposed turnbuckle and tries the Attitude Adjustment and Miz slips out, so Cena drop toeholds him and puts on the STF. Miz reaches the ropes and then distracts the referee, allowing Riley to grab Cena and throw him into the exposed turnbuckle. The Champion then hits the Skull Crushing Finale but it only gets two. Miz tries the Skull Crushing Finale again but the referee gets bumped and Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment. Of course there is no one to count now. Riley gets in the ring with the briefcase and decks Cena with it. The referee recovers in time to make a count, but Cena kicks out at two. Riley distracts the referee and Miz grabs the case, but Cena ducks and Riley takes it instead. Cena hits Miz with the Attitude Adjustment but Miz kicks out! They take it to the floor and Cena clotheslines Miz over the barricade. Cena clotheslines Miz further into the crowd and the referee count them both at out 14:43. What the hell?
The Rock makes his way out sweating like Mark Henry, but before he can say anything the anonymous Raw General Manager tries to chime in. Of course it doesn’t matter what the GM thinks, and Rock declares that this match has to restart with no-DQ rules. Back in the ring Cena tries an Attitude Adjustment but Miz slips out, and Rock hits Cena with the Rock Bottom! Miz crawls over and makes the pin to retain the title at a whopping 0:36 (total match time 15:19). What a shit sandwich. The match was not so very good to begin with, and that’s coming from a guy who likes both Cena and the Miz, but something was definitely off there. The double countout was stupid and Rock’s involvement in the finish cheapened the whole thing. It’s not the worst main event in WrestleMania history, but it’s probably one of the bottom five.
After the bell Rock attacks Miz, hitting him with the spinebuster and the People’s Elbow. Rock celebrates to end the show and take us into the highlight package.
BONUS MATCH: Jerry “The King” Lawler vs. Jack Swagger, Monday Night RAW, 3.28.11
Michael Cole distracts Lawler, allowing Swagger to take the first advantage. Swagger hits the Swagger Bomb and kicks Lawler to the floor. He follows the King out and hurls him over the barricade into the crowd. Hubris proves to be Swagger’s downfall, as he takes too much time gloating, allowing Lawler to punch him in the face. Lawler then repeatedly cracks Swagger with a chair for the DQ at 1:17. That match’s only purpose was to put heat on Lawler versus Cole, and it did a solid job of it.