AT&T Stadium – Arlington, TX – Sunday, April 3, 2016
Mauro Ranallo, Byron Saxton, and Jerry Lawler are on commentary for the Kickoff.
~KICKOFF MATCH #1~
United States Champion Kalisto defeats Ryback at 8:58 to retain the title. Kalisto has been the Champion since 1.24.16, and this is his third defense. The stadium looks so empty here, it makes me feel sad for the wrestlers. Ryback uses his power right from the start and brushes off Kalisto’s attacks. Kalisto won’t give up and he continues to fight back whenever he can, which proves to be the key. While Ryback is pulling Kalisto out of the corner, Kalisto grabs on and pulls the middle turnbuckle pad off. Kalisto is able to send Ryback into the exposed buckle with a headscissors, and then lands Salida Del Sol to get the huge upset win. The inexplicable preshow commercial break did this one no favors, but what was there was enjoyable.
~KICKOFF MATCH #2~
The Total Divas (Brie Bella, Natalya, Alicia Fox, Paige & Eva Marie) defeat B.A.D. & Blonde (Naomi, Tamina, Emma, Summer Rae & Lana) at 11:25. This is Brie’s last match and Lana’s first. With ten women to go around, the action is non-stop here. All the women get a chance to hit a signature move or two, but Brie traps Naomi in the Yes Lock to go out a winner. Perfectly fine tag team match here, again oddly gutted bu a commercial break. Nice moment for Brie too.
~KICKOFF MATCH #3~
The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) defeat The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley & D-Von Dudley) at 5:18. All four men start off brawling, and the Dudleys quickly take control. Bubba talks a lot of trash, noting that they’re beating up Jimmy the same way they used to beat up the Usos’ father, Rikishi. Jey eventually gets the hot tag and he comes in a house afire. The referee loses control and al four men brawl in the ring. Both Usos land a superkick on D-Von, and Jey gets the pin. Fine TV-style tag team match.
Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, and JBL are on commentary for the Kickoff. So Saxton gets to call the entire show? What did I do to deserve that?
Zack Ryder defeats Dolph Ziggler, Intercontinental Champion Kevin Owens, The Miz, Sami Zayn, Sin Cara, and Stardust in a Ladder Match at 15:22 to win the title. Owens has been the Champion since 2.15.16, and this is his second defense. He wastes no time going head to head with Zayn, his former partner and best friend. The crowd pops big for that, but they don’t have much time to sink their teeth into it because there’s so much going on. Stardust pulls out a black ladder with yellow polka dots – ohh, how convenient?! For real that’s cute though. Everyone gets multiple chances for high spots, and the crowd is into it. After tons of crazy spots and hot action, Miz finds himself in a position to grab the belt but gets too confident and Ryder shoves him down. Ryder then grabs the belt and celebrates with his dad, which is awesome. Killer spot-fest to kick off the show, even if the result was a bit out of nowhere.
Chris Jericho defeats AJ Styles at 16:59. Styles starts off hot, energized by competing at his first WrestleMania no doubt, but the veteran Jericho comes back and immediately grounds Styles. That’s a cunning stratagem, sir. Momentum shifts back and forth, as both men have numerous counters for each other. One finish isn’t enough to put either away, as Styles kicks out of a Codebreaker and Jericho kicks out of a Styles Clash. Jericho also gets to kick out of the springboard 450, which is pure lunacy. Styles goes for the Phenomenal Forearm but Jericho catches him with the Codebreaker to get the pin. Now, obviously, Styles ended up okay and had a great 2016, but what in the blue hell was up with that decision? Tired old heel Jericho goes over the most popular babyface newcomer they’ve had in years, at the show where babyfaces are supposed to go over! Puzzling finish aside, the match never really got all that exciting; it wasn’t heated at all, just a decent exhibition of sorts. It felt like Jericho couldn’t keep up.
The League of Nations (Sheamus, Rusev & Alberto Del Rio, w/ King Barrett) defeat WWE Tag Team Champions The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) at 9:50. New Day are the Tag Team Champions here, but the titles are not on the line. The Champs dominate Sheamus in the early going and engage the crowd. When Woods tags in that’s when the League takes over and they isolate him in their half of the ring. New Day tries to fight back but the League of nations use the numbers game to maintain control. Barrett catches Woods with a Bull Hammer from the floor, and Sheamus follows up with the Brogue Kick to get the pin. This was a terrible feud and the match was not even remotely interesting.
Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) defeats Dean Ambrose in a No Holds Barred Street Fight at 12:50. Lesnar wastes no time dishing out German Suplexes, and Ambrose responds with a kendo stick. I get the feeling that’s how this match is going to go. Ambrose also uses a low blow, and why not? He gets more offense in than I expected, and tries a variety of weapons to get where he needs to go. Sadly, neither the barbed wire bat nor the chainsaw get used, and Lesnar hits an F-5 onto a pile of steel chairs to get the pin. This was actually way better than I remembered it, though the finish was still a bit deflating. Some weapons were used, but it’s super lame to tease weapons that never get used. If you’re going to introduce something, have the balls to go through with it. Still, at the end of the day this was a solid if unspectacular street fight.
Charlotte (w/ Ric Flair) defeats Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks at 16:01 in a Triple Threat Match to become the first WWE Women’s Champion. It’s all about the Divas Revolution here. Charlotte was the Divas Champion coming into this match, but Lita announced on the preshow that the WWE Women’s Championship would replace the title. This is the first WrestleMania for all three competitors. All three women are making their WrestleMania debuts and are eager to prove their superiority. The action is fast-paced, and it doesn’t take long for finisher attempts to come out. Banks keeps getting knocked to the floor early, leaving Charlotte and Lynch to battle each other. All three women know each other well from coming up in NXT together, so they all have plenty of counters for each other’s attacks. Banks gets distracted by Flair at ringside, and Lynch takes him out with a suicide dive. Charlotte follows them both out with a moonsault from the top rope to wipe out both Lynch and Banks. That was rad as hell. The action continues at a breakneck pace, and Banks traps Lynch in the Bank Statement. Charlotte breaks that up and dumps Banks to the floor, and then traps Lynch in the Figure-Eight. Flair holds Banks out on the floor, and Lynch has no choice but to tap out. Fantastic match there, with all three women busting ass and clearly looking like they were out to steal the show – which they did. They kept up a fast pace and all made it look like winning the title was of utmost importance.
Undertaker defeats Shane McMahon in a Hell in a Cell Match at 30:05. This is the thirty-third Hell in a Cell match in WWE history. Undertaker has been in 13, and is 7-6. Shane has been in it once before, in a losing effort. If Shane wins here, he gets control of RAW and Undertaker never gets to wrestle at WrestleMania again. If Undertaker wins, nothing happens. Seems fair. Undertaker pretty much dominates, with Shane only executing small amounts of offense. The offense Shane does execute is poor, and looks pretty silly on a guy like Undertaker. Shane does pull off the coast to coast dropkick with a garbage can, and that always looks good. Then he goes outside the ring and cuts the bolts keeping the cell together, just so Undertaker can slam him through the wall. They’re outside the ring now, and that’s for the sole reason of Shane going up to the top of the Cell and jumping off it. When he jumps, Undertaker moves, the table explodes. Undertaker brings Shane back to the ring and hits the Tombstone to end this travesty. This was obscenely long and profoundly stupid. The stipulations were one-sided (and ignored, as we learned the next night), and positioning Shane as ever being able to maybe beat the Undertaker challenges believability in a genre of entertainment already known for being ridiculous. I can’t call it Undertaker’s worst WrestleMania match, not in a world where Giant Gonzalez once existed, but I can call it pretty damn bad.
Baron Corbin defeats Adam Rose, Big Show, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Damien Sandow, Darren Young, Diamond Dallas Page, Fandango, Goldust, Heath Slater, Jack Swagger, Kane, Konnor, Mark Henry, R-Truth, Shaquille O’Neal, Tatanka, Tyler Breeze, and Viktor to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal at 9:40. The only guy to get their own entrances are Henry, Kane, DDP, Show (last year’s winner), and Shaq. It’s all about Show and Shaq in the early going, and the ring literally clears out, except for Fandango, who Show eliminates easily. Sandow tries his hand and Shaq dumps him out. As Show and Shaq choke each other, everyone else gets back in the ring and joins forces to eliminate them both. DDP hits a Diamond Cutter on Viktor and tosses him out. Konnor gets revenge by dumping DDP to the floor. Golden Truth then eliminates Konnor. Tatanka gets to show his stuff on Rose, but when he charges Corbin surprises him by throwing him to the floor. Kane tosses Swagger. Slater and Rose toss Truth and then Goldust. The Social Outcasts run around celebrating and Kane tosses Axel. Corbin dumps Rose. Henry uses his power to catch Slater off the ropes and slam him to the floor. Henry eliminates Breeze. Kane and Young join forces to eliminate Henry, and then Kane eliminates both Young and Dallas. Corbin then sends Kane to the floor to win the battle royal. I actually enjoyed this, as the Shaq stuff was fun, seeing DDP was great, and the Social Outcasts got to do their thing. As for Corbin winning, it took him a minute to catch on but he’s doing pretty well for himself now.
The Rock defeats Erick Rowan (w/ Bray Wyatt & Braun Strowman) at 0:06. This is an impromptu match, as Rock was just out there to announce the attendance record being broken. The Wyatt Family come out to interrupt, and Rock challenges one of them to a match. Wyatt sends Rowan into the fire, and Rock hits an immediate Rock Bottom to get the pin. After the bell, Wyatt and Strowman come in to interfere, and John Cena makes the save. Rock and Cena clear the ring and bask in the cheers of the crowd. Fun segment.
Roman Reigns defeats WWE World Heavyweight Champion Triple H (w/ Stephanie McMahon) to win the title at 27:10. HHH has been the Champion since 1.24.16, and this is his second defense. They wrestle on the mat and keep it relatively slow, which is exactly what the crowd wants to see near the six-hour mark and following The Rock. HHH is the heavy crowd favorite here, despite the storyline. The fight spills to the floor several times, and HHH has control no matter where they are. Reigns gets in his hope spots and the crowd usually boos, but cheers can be heard as well. Late in the match, Stephanie gets in the ring to chastise the referee, and she pays for it when Reigns crushes her with an accidental Spear! HHH tries using the Sledgehammer but Reigns cuts him off with a pair of Superman Punches. One big Spear later and Reigns is a three-time Champion. It’s not that this was a bad match, per se, it was just not the right kind of match to cap off such a long evening. I would call it similar to HHH v Orton from WrestleMania XXV, since this should’ve been a heated issue, but by the time the blow-off came it was all just anti-climactic.
This show is LONG. That’s the major takeaway here. It felt like it went on forever, and very few great matches or moments happening makes it feel even longer. Is Reigns winning the title for a third time particularly interesting? Or Lesnar beating a mid-carder? The ladder match was fun and the women’s title match was very good, so there are some worthwhile bits on this show, but way more of it falls flat or just contributes to the length. Now that I’ve reviewed it, I have a hard time picturing myself ever going back and watching this entire show again.