This mania actually had some unexpected moments for me. Number one being the match order. Starting the whole show with the World Heavyweight Championship match left me a little gap mouthed. I don't know if I should be more offended for the title or for the participants. It was just an unsettling way to begin the event as most people might have missed it expecting a nice 'none title' opening match. The placement of 'Taker- HHH was also questionable as well as scrapping the US title match. All awkward things when you compare it to traditional pay per view set ups as the idea is to have a BIG finish with a gradual and careful glide throughout.
I however understand what they were trying to accomplish. It seemed to shoot for more of an ebb and flow type pacing where you are supposed to have rollercoasterlike ups and downs. Basically they applied some theatrical approaches to their match placement. It was gutsy and admirable, but not really 'successful'.
As a rule of thumb I think it will always be anti-climatic to try and keep going with the pay per view after one of these 'streak ending' 'Taker matches and that's for a couple of reasons. One being emotional investment by the fans, and the other emotional investment by the performers. It does not matter what rivalry you start, it cannot compete with what is now going to be a 2 decade long build. The fast revolutions on storylines guarantee that the amount of time invested cannot compete with an ongoing legend. This match had the shortest build on this pay per view, and yet it held the most impact. All the matches were good. Some were surprisingly better than I thought they would be including the couple of gimmick matches. But none of them contain the memorable impact of the fans believing, really believing that something amazing was about to end right before their eyes. And like all of the great streak matches before, for a moment there, you really believed it was going to happen, and that H was going to do it. You can't train that type of story telling and you can't write it in a script. It unfolds live right before your disbelieving eyes. Magic gentlemen, pure magic.
So let's start from the top shall we. The Rock was as I thought he would be, ELECTRIFYING. I really can't get enough of the John Cena cracks. For any other man this would be tired, but that was always the Rock's true talent. With him nothing ever gets tired.
I'm still not sold on Alberto Del Rio regardless of how well received he is among my contemporaries. But I told myself that like in the past if he started to become fruitful with his grandeur I would eat my words and jump on the bandwagon. So I told myself, this is the opening match of Wrestlemania. This story has had a decent build. He and Edge have been working house shows for months now, if it will ever start to happen, it will be here and now. Unfortunately there were so many participants in the match, the fact that Del Rio was the one actually challenging for the title got lost. This within itself is pretty self explanatory. I suppose I wanted a nice one on one where Del Rio would have to at least hold up his side of the tale because even at house shows the matches have been 3 ways between Del Rio, Edge, and another opponent. So it forced me to wonder why is this man in the race for the World Heavyweight Title if he can't carry a match with Edge during a house show? Let's be honest, carrying a match with Edge is like dead lifting a coffee cup. You should be able to manage unless your ego is getting in your way. I wanted this match to be more, because I have become accustomed to Wrestlemania matches with Edge being 'more'. I don't think the addition of Christian and Brodus was a good move. In addition to Del Rio's ring announcer, Del Rio's car, Michael Cole's Pod, and that creepy cube thing, there was just too much going on. However we did solidify the idea that Edge will in fact drop an elbow on ANYTHING.
Cody Rhodes has been doing an AMAZING job of fleshing out this Phantom of the Opera heel he has been developing. I mean I've spent the last month of Smackdown eating it up. I am hoping that it isn't lost just because this angle is over. This is a lifelong heel thing that should not be tossed out at the end of the Wrestlemania road. It is this wonderful old school heel bit that is just inspiring to watch. I love Rey so there really isn't much to do there but gush, so on to the match. While it was not spectacular, it was interesting, and kept the attention of the viewers. The knee brace action and face mask stealing really worked and got the most response out of the crowd I was in. There were some things that could've worked better. Somehow I was waiting for an actual berserker rage. It seems to me this character is building to actual homicidal tendencies. No one says he has to get away with it, but it needs to feel more like he will do ANYTHING to avenge what has been lost. In laymen's terms, one victory at Wrestlemania shouldn't be enough. This program can easily run to about SummerSlam if worked carefully.
I think the 8 man lasted exactly as long as it should've. This match was placed well overall. It was a quick and dirty camp match for those who love the camp, the kids, and it gave most hardcore fans their first bathroom break of the night. People complain about these matches, but honestly they are necessary for show pacing. This is a 4 hour live performance event with technically no intermissions. If these matches are not there, fan satisfaction overall dies out because the pacing is too much, too hard, and too heavy. Any live show is a balance, plain and simple. With that being said I want the Corre to be more. This is a dangerous time for these future main eventers, and I think the WWE has to be careful with how many of these 'gimmick' matches they get put in. Honestly I think groups should hit their first Wrestlemania with an impact. With lack of better examples I think back to the TLC matches that put Edge and Christian, the Hardy Boys, and the Dudley Boys on the map. This is where these teams should be. Let the New Nexus and the Corre show their quality instead of making them an afterthought. This is the stage, and the time is now.
I have been skeptical about Orton-Punk for a while because of the overwhelming heel on heel feeling the rivalry gives off. This match though was the only one that truly benefited from the 'flashback' package that is shown before matches because of how far back this reference was. It was a hard sell, but somehow the editing crew managed to make a 2 year grudge that nothing was ever done about quite plausible. The match was butter, undeniable butter. I always expect good things out of Randy, and have always been on the fence with Punk. But somewhere in his match against Rey Mysterio at Over the Limit about a year ago something changed, and it's been a good change that has shown clearly in all the things that Punk does now. It was like this wall between his true nature and his ring performance was torn down, and I haven't had a bad thing to say about his in ring performance since. This match had great personality. You didn't have to guess at anything that was going on. Everyone told you clearly. There were some awkward moments that seemed forced, like Randy's dead fall to indicate that his leg was shot. However none of them were bad enough to actually kill the momentum of the match.
I wanted Michael Cole to experience more pain. Period. If I had to be pained by watching him shamelessly reference Lawler's living and dead family members then he deserved to hurt more for it. Some would say that having to wear that unflattering leotard was enough. I say that hurt ME more.
I didn't expect much from the Diva match except the needful bathroom break after being thoroughly owned by H and 'Taker. With that being said I got more than I expected. Trish looked great, but that was a no brainer. I knew she'd come ready to go. Now for surprise number two, Snooki wasn't completely awful. No one was more surprised than me.
Miz and Cena had the match I knew that they were capable of giving. Not to say it wasn't a viable nice match but more to say I think Cena has a ceiling in the ring, and he has reached it. The Miz however has yet to reach his, and I would like to see him in matches that would explore this a bit more. The whole thing ended up being set-up for a future Rock-Cena super match. I love the Rock, but I think the champ deserved better.
Where were Sheamus and Bryan? Bad form to still be promoting a match 20 minutes before start time when you have no intention of showing it. Feels a little TNA if you know what I mean.
Some of the in between segments held a little too much camp. I love campiness in wrestling, don't get me wrong, it belongs there, and they are made for each other. The issue is that they are telling the same jokes over and over again with different dressing. Very few people can make that constantly work. Ask any old or current Saturday Night Live cast member. Steven Regal can however, and was the only one outside of the "Rock featured" skits that worked. I liked the glossier entrances over all. Some worked for some people and others were just TOO put on. H's entrance was spot on. Could not have been done better. Barbarian king made flesh; it was perfect, and a good way to erase the horror of the King of Kings disaster that was WM 22 in Chicago. Taker has always had the best entrance in wrestling so it goes without saying, but finally the challenger’s entrance stayed with you as the Deadman did his epic pacing to the ring.
I'm not one for involving religious allegory in wrestling because your fan base is multicultural, and the assumption that everyone is not just Christian, but Baptist is insulting. Considering the area you are having this in, it's also downright condescending. All I can hear is, "We in Georgia, and Lordy be they'd love them a gospel choir." Wow. I am with involving social media because your fan base is multicultural. In that promo The Miz was not arrogant, he was in fact doing all the things that Cena claims as his moral guide. Against the odds and wishes and desires of others he declared a dream, and made it real. He's on talk shows talking about the greatness of his chosen business and he's promoting his love for it, not himself. He is a hero, Cena a self righteous jerk. In a few words The Miz's was perfect and Cena's was an epic fail.
There it went for the grandest stage of them all Circa 2011 Atlanta Georgia. Now let's get to work on MIAMI!