Met Life Stadium – East Rutherford, NJ – Sunday, April 7, 2013
KICKOFF MATCH: Intercontinental Title Match – Wade Barrett vs. The Miz
Barrett has been the Champion since 12.31.12, and this is his third defense. Miz uses his quickness to try and take an early advantage, but Barrett is able to cut him off with strikes. Barrett continues to work Miz over with a variety of strikes, and then he runs into a big boot. Miz fires up and hits the Reality Check for a two-count. Back on their feet they trade finisher attempts but neither can hit one. Miz charges right into the Winds of Change and Barrett gets two. Barrett goes for the Bull Hammer but Miz ducks and puts on the Figure-Four Leglock! Luckily for Barrett he is able to reach the ropes. Barrett repositions the referee and pokes Miz in the eye. He hits Wasteland but Miz kicks out at two! Barrett is frustrated and Miz is able to trip him up and re-apply the Figure-Four Leglock and Barrett taps out at 4:08! Miz is now a two-time Intercontinental Champion. That was a fairly typical RAW match, which works just fine for the preshow.
MATCH #1: Randy Orton, Sheamus & Big Show vs. The Shield
Sheamus and Roman Reigns start the match. They immediately start slugging at each other with gusto, and it’s the burly Irishman who’s able to take control. Orton tags in, and Reigns is able to tag Rollins.Momentum continues to shift as tags continue to be made on both sides. Ambrose and Show end up in the ring and Show destroys him with chops. Show charges and Ambrose hits a low dropkick. Rollins flies in with a knee from the top rope and tries to keep Show on the mat. Reigns and Ambrose get their shots in on Show as well. Show doesn’t often play the face-in-peril but it’s working here. Finally Show is able to tag Sheamus, and he’s a pale house afire. Sheamus gets to hit the clubbering forearms on both Rollins and Ambrose, and then throws out a couple of Finlay Rolls. He goes up top and Reigns pulls him down to the floor. That ignites a brawl, and Rollins takes Orton out with a suicide dive. The Shield takes Sheamus into the ring and tries the triple powerbomb but Show breaks it up with a spear. Sheamus goes to make the tag to Show, but Orton steals it at the last second. Orton hits Ambrose with the Rope-hung DDT, and catches a flying Rollins with an RKO! Reigns sneaks in and drills Orton with a Spear and Ambrose scores the pin at 10:35. That was fun and energetic, but the Shield has had six-man tags twice that long on RAW, so this didn’t quite have an epic pay-per-view feel. Still, a good choice for opener.
After the match a frustrated Big Show knocks out both Orton and Sheamus for not trusting him. I guess that’ll teach them.
MATCH #2: Ryback vs. Mark Henry
They start off with a staredown, both men trying to intimidate the other but having no success. Ryback lands the first few blows but can’t take Henry off his feet. He charges and Henry clobbers him with one shot. Henry delivers a running powerslam for a one-count. “The World’s Strongest Man” continues to dominate and sends Ryback to the floor. Ryback makes it back in before the count of 10 but he’s looking pretty worn down already. Henry locks on a bearhug to further wear his opponent down. He then clotheslines Ryback back to the floor. Once again Henry uses the bearhug. Finally Ryback fights out of it and forces Henry into the corner. Ryback follows up with the Meat Hook clothesline. He shockingly picks Henry up for the Shellshocked, but Henry grabs the top rope and is able to fall on the back of Ryback’s head. Ouch. That’s enough to get the pin at 8:03. That was pretty dull, with a huge portion of the match taken up with Ryback laying on the floor or Henry using a bearhug. The finish was creative but it came off a bit anti-climactic.
Henry goes back in to dish out more punishment, but Ryback catches him with a spinebuster! Ryback then picks up the massive Henry for Shellshocked, and this time he hits the maneuver. FEED ME MORE!
MATCH #3: WWE Tag Team Title Match – Team Hell No vs. Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston
Daniel Bryan and Kane have been the Champions since 9.16.12, and this is their seventh defense. This is Langston’s first official WWE match. Ziggler gets a kiss from AJ Lee before the match and Bryan kicks his head off! That almost gets Bryan the pin and sweet redemption for last year. Bryan knocks Ziggler to the floor and wipes him out with a dive. Back in the ring tags are made, and the powerhouses are in the ring now. Langston impressively throws Kane around, delivering two solid backbreakers. He drives a shoulder into Kane’s midsection, and then runs into a big boot. Langston is tenacious though, and he bowls Kane over Vader style. The challengers isolate Kane and wear him down in their half o fth ering. Kane is able to catch Langston with a DDT. Ziggler gets a tag and Kane unloads on him, hitting a sidewalk slam for two. Kane goes up top but misses the top rope clothesline. Ziggler hits the Fame-Ass-Er (sort of) and Bryan breaks up the cover, only to get hit with a dropkick for his troubles. Now Ziggler goes up top and Kane cuts him down with an uppercut. Langston breaks up that cover. Things break down and the referee loses control. Bryan takes Langston out with a flying knee off the apron. Ziggler catches Kane with the Zig Zag but only gets two. Lee hands Ziggler his Money in the Bank briefcase, but he can’t make contact with it. Kane hits a Chokeslam and then makes the tag. Bryan delivers the diving headbutt to get the pin and retain the titles at 6:18. That was extremely short, and I feel that it could have gone twice as long and it would have gotten really good. As it is, it’s an adequate, TV-style match.
MATCH #4: Chris Jericho vs. Fandango
This is Fandango’s first official match. Jericho strikes first and goes on the attack, so Fandango bails. Unfortunately for Fandango, Jericho chases him and continues the beating. Jericho hits an early Codebreaker and the momentum sends Fandango back to the floor. He drills Fandango with a baseball slide dropkick and then follows him out with a cross body block from the top rope. Back in the ring Jericho goes for the springboard dropkick but Fandango cuts him off with a kick to the face. Now Fandango is in control, but it doesn’t last too long before Jericho is right back in command. Jericho hits a high cross body off the top rope for a near-fall. Fandango grabs Jericho and hurls him shoulder-first into the ring post. He hits a Downward Spiral and then follows it up with the guillotine legdrop, but Jericho kicks out at two! Jericho tries to fight back but Fandango cuts him off with a hard clothesline. Fandango goes back up top and Jericho knocks him down. Jericho puts Fandango up top and goes for a superplex but Fandango shoves him back. Fandango goes for the guillotine legdrop again but misses. Jericho goes for the Lionsault and Fandango gets his knees up so Jericho goes for the Walls of Jericho instead. Fandango counters that to an inside cradle to get the shocking upset pin at 9:13. These two meshed well together and Jericho knew how to make Fandango look good. This would have to be looked at as one of the biggest upsets in WrestleMania history.
MATCH #5: World Heavyweight Title Match – Alberto Del Rio vs. Jack Swagger
Del Rio has been the Champion since 1.11.13, and this is his third defense. Zeb Colter and Ricardo Rodriguez are in the respective corners, of course. Del Rio quickly sends Swagger to the floor and follows him out with a dropkick through the ropes. Back in the ring Del Rio gets distracted but Colter and Swagger pounces. Swagger begins dissecting Del Rio, wearing him down and keeping him on the mat. He hits a Swagger Bomb for a two-count. Del rio is able to fight back and he starts targeting the arm of course. He stomps on Colter’s fingers for fun, and then drills Swagger with a superkick to the jaw for a near-fall. Del Rio goes for the Cross Armbreaker but Swagger fights it off and hits a powerslam for two. Swagger attacks the knee and then puts on the Ankle Lock. Del Rio escapes and goes for the step-up enziguiri in the corner but he misses. Swagger tries another Swagger Bomb but Del Rio gets Swagger caught up in the ropes and he hits a mini Backstabber for two. Del Rio follows with a release German Suplex. He goes for the Cross Armbreaker but Swagger counters with the Gutwrench Powerbomb for a near-fall. Swagger puts on the Patriot Lock and Del Rio turns it into the Cross Armbreaker, which Swagger re-counters to the Patriot Lock. Del Rio reaches the ropes. Swagger goes for the Gutwrench Powerbomb again but Del Rio slips out and kicks Swagger right in the head. Del Rio hits the enziguiri this time and Colter has to put Swagger’s leg on the bottom rope. Rodriguez comes over to protest, and Colter is able to bully him because he is on crutches. Del Rio comes ot the rescue and Swagger takes the opportunity to capitalize and throws Del Rio into the barricade. Swagger pauses before getting back in the ring, and that’s the opening Del Rio needs to cinch in the Cross Armbreaker and Swagger taps out at 10:30. That was a lot of fun, with solid back and forth cain wrestling and reversals from both guys. It was a bit on the short side for a World Title match, but that allowed them to step up the pace and that worked.
MATCH #6: Undertaker vs. CM Punk
Punk has Paul Heyman in his corner. He gets cocky right away and slaps Undertaker in the face, twice. Undertaker responds with a boot to the face, and then he throws Punk to the floor. He whips Punk over the barricade and into the crowd. Undertaker continues to abuse Punk on the ring floor, and then sets him on the apron for the big legdrop. Back in the ring Undertaker keeps up the pressure. Undertaker goes for Old School but Punk whips him down to the mat. Punk takes control now, and he successfully executes Old School to a big pop from the crowd. Undertaker fights back and whips Punk into the corner. He charges but Punk moves, and Undertaker’s knee connects with the turnbuckles. Punk sends Undertaker to the floor and follows him out with an axhandle from the top rope. Back in the ring Punk continues to be one step ahead, keeping Undertaker on the mat and working the shoulder. Punk goes for Old School again, but Undertaker knocks him down and to the floor. Undertaker looks to be going for a dive, but Heyman gets in his way, allowing Punk to hit a springboard clothesline for a two-count. Punk hits the high knee in the corner and follows with a clothesline. He goes up top and lands the Diving elbow drop but it only gets two. Punk tries Go 2 Sleep but Undertaker slips out and hits a Chokeslam! That only gets a two-count. Undertaker keeps up the onslaught, hitting Snake Eyes and going for a big boot, but Punk cuts him off with a leg lariat for two. Punk clotheslines Undertaker to the floor and starts rearranging the furniture. He lays Undertaker out on the table and goes to the top rope, sailing down with a Diving elbow drop that does not break the table. Undertaker barely makes it back to the ring before the count of 10. Punk crawls over to make a cover but Undertaker grabs him in the Hell’s Gate! Luckily for Punk he is able to slip out and put on the Anaconda Vise! Undertaker stands up and goes for a Chokeslam, which Punk reverses to a Go 2 Sleep, and Undertaker rebounds off the ropes with a Tombstone Piledriver! Punk kicks out at two! They start throwing strikes at each other and the referee takes a bump. Punk hits the running knee in the corner, and Undertaker grabs him for the Last Ride! Heyman hands Punk the urn and Punk cracks Undertaker with it. Punk crosses the arms for the cover just like Undertaker but he only gets two! A series of reversals ends with Undertaker hitting another Tombstone Piledriver to finally put Punk away at 22:08! While the buildup was not exactly thrilling, this match managed to exceed just about everyone’s expectations. Undertaker gave Punk a lot more than he did the last time these two wrestled on pay-per-view in 2009, so Punk felt like a much bigger threat. The crowd stayed into it the entire way, reacting to all of the momentum shifts and near-falls. Punk and Undertaker worked a smart match, throwing in big spots where they made sense and finishing strong. I did not expect this match to be so good.
MATCH #7: No Holds Barred Match – Triple H vs. Brock Lesnar
If Triple H loses this match, his wrestling career is over. Shawn Michaels gets his own entrance just to be in his friend HHH’s corner. Lesnar of course has Paul Heyman in his corner. They start slugging right away and quickly spill to the floor. HHH has the early advantage but Lesnar cuts him off and throws him into the crowd. Lesnar picks up a chair but before he can use it HHH clotheslines him down. They go back to the ring and Lesnar tries to hit HHH with a chair again but HHH hits a high knee. Heyman grabs the chair and takes it out of the ring so HHH can’t use it. Momentum continues to shift and they go back to the floor, where Lesnar lands a belly-to-belly suplex. Lesnar throws HHH around, even dropping him on the Spanish Announce Table to finally break it. The Beast is fully in control, and they head back to the ring for some more abuse. This goes on for several minutes, with Lesnar beating on HHH and cutting off any of his comeback attempts. When they go back to the floor Lesnar gets distrac by Michaels, and HHH hits a hard clothesline, and then another one to send Lesnar into the timekeeper’s pit. HHH grabs a steel chair and finally gets to hit Lesnar with it, which must be satisfying for him. Back in the ring Lesnar ducks a clothesline and hits a German Suplex for two. Heyman gets up on the apron so Michaels responds in kind, and Lesnar cracks him int the mouth to knock him down. Lesnar turns around right into a spinebuster. HHH goes for the Pedigree, which Lesnar counters to the F-5. Michaels gets in the ring and tries a Superkick but Lesnar instead hits him with the F-5. That allows HHH to get up and hit Lesnar with the Pedigree, but it only gets two. HHH goes outside the ring and finds his sledgehammer. He goes to use it but Lesnar ducks and hits an F-5 for two! They go to the floor and Lesnar abuses HHH with a steel chair and then whips him into the steps. Lesnar continues the assault with the steps, but can’t keep HHH down. HHH tries to fight back with a Pedigree but Lesnar gets a hold of his arm and puts on the Kimura Lock! After a brief time HHH powers his way out of it but the damanage has been done. Lesnar charges into the corner but HHH moves and Lesnar’s shoulder connects with the ring post. HHH delivers a low blow, and that swings the momentum in his favor. The “Cerebral Assassin” targets Lesnar’s arm, wrapping it around the ring post and then bashing it with a steel chair. Back in the ring HHH continues to use the chair to his advantage. Now HHH uses the Kimura Lock and Heyman gets in the ring with a chair, but Michaels takes him out with Sweet Chin Music! Lesnar is able to pick HHH up and drop him on the steel steps. The tenacious HHH puts the Kimura back on and Lesnar slams him off the steps again. HHH puts the Kimura on for a third time and Lesnar picks him up, but this time HHH hits a DDT onto the steps! Finally HHH drills Lesnar with the sledgehammer, and then hits a Pedigree on the ring steps! That’s enough to slay the Beast at 24:00. A lot of people hated on that match, but I liked it. It wasn’t amazing, but they did a good job making the battle feel heated, and they didn’t do super ridiculous spots. The involvement of Michaels and Heyman was a nice addition and not overdone.
Hall of Fame Class of 2013
This year’s inductees are Mick Foley, Booker T, Trish Stratus, Bob Backlund, Donald Trump, and at long last Bruno Sammartino. That’s a really impressive slew of nominees.
MATCH #8: WWE Championship Match – The Rock vs. John Cena
The Rock has been the Champion since 1.27.13, and this is his second defense. Cena scores the first knockdown, but both men are approaching this match with caution with so much on the line. Rock fires back, and then puts on a headlock. He hits a big hiptoss and Cena takes a powder. Back in the ring Cena goes on offense but the Rock fights back and will not be denied. Momentum continues to shift between these two powerhouses. Rock puts on a Sleeper to slow Cena down. Cena powers out of it with a Protoplex for a two-count. Rock delivers a Samoan Drop and both men are down. It hasn’t even been ten minutes but both men have taken a lot out of each other. Cena hits a Fisherman Suplex for two. A quality series of reversals ends with Rock putting on a pretty good looking Sharpshooter. Cena powers his way out of that and hits another Protoplex. He goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle but Rock avoids it and hits a hard DDT. Rock tries the Rock Bottom but Cena counters to the STF, which Rock counters to a cradle for two. Cena catapults Rock into the buckles and hits yet antoher Protoplex. This time Cena hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle and he tries the Attitude Adjustment. Rock slips out and hits the spinebuster. He goes for the People’s Elbow but Cena counters and puts on the STF! Rock powers his way out and hits the Rock Bottom but Cena kicks out! Cena pops up and hits the AA but it only gets a two-count. He goes up top for the Cena Slice but Rock avoids it. Rock hits the spinebuster and connects on the People’s Elbow! Cena kicks out at two, and then wisely rolls to the floor. Back in the ring they trade shots and the crowd is fully behind The Rock. For some reason Rock tries a cross body block and Cena catches him. Rock reverses the AA attempt into a Rock Bottom but it only gets two! The People’s Champ goes for another People’s Elbow, first telling Cena that he can’t see him. That fires Cena up, and he is able to hit the AA again but it only gets two! That’s a nice callback to last year. They rise and trade strikes again. Cena gets a schoolboy rollup for two. He then hits a Rock Bottom for a near-fall! The crowd is hot. Cena looks at a downed Rock and thinks he has him in the perfect position for the People’s Elbow. Rock pops up, just like he did last year, but Cena holds on to the ropes! That was awesome. Cena goes for the AA but Rock counters to the Rock Bottom! Another series of reversals concludes with Rock hitting a solid DDT. Rock goes for the Rock Bottom but Cena counters with the AA to finally score the pin and win his eleventh WWE Championship at 25:00. I think this was another popular match to hate on, but I really liked it. I love matches with two titans throwing bombs at each other, and that’s exactly what this was. They did a lot of cool reversals and callbacks to last year’s match, and I certainly thought it was a fitting main event.
After the match the two men embrace in a show of respect. Cena then cedes the ring to The Rock, as it is likely the last match for The People’s Champ. At the top of the ramp, Cena and Rock salute each other, and they both raise their arms.