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Wrestlemania 30: End Of One Era, Beginning Of Another

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Wrestlemania 30 turned out to be quite an extravaganza, with spectacular colours and personalities right from the off, along with a number of entertaining cameos from old faces, as well as a number of genuine shocks in matches throughout the night, which was sure to have been a big success for the WWE.

The night kicked off with a few words from the event’s host, Hulk Hogan. Hogan made his way down to the ring with his classic entrance music, and the place went wild. As he got talking about the history of the event, he was interrupted by some striking entrance music; that of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Stone Cold made his way down to the ring to stir up the crowd a bit, and he whipped them into a frenzy at the prospect of him kicking Hogan’s ass. That didn’t materialise, however, as he said he had too much respect for what Hogan had done for the business. Shortly after this, he was interrupted himself, as The Rock made his way down to the ring. The crowd roared, as three of the all-time fan favourites occupied the ring at the same time and, although there was some notable mic rustiness from the three, they got great cheers as they rattled through their catchphrases and downed some beers.

The first match of the night saw Triple H taking on Daniel Bryan, with the winner going on to take part in the World Heavyweight Title triple threat main event match. Triple H came down to the ring on a huge throne, with a tremendous golden crown, as well as armour, adorned upon him. Bryan had come down with his shoulder heavily strapped, having re-injured it during his attack on Triple H on Raw, but he brought the fight to his opponent early. He landed a barrage of kicks on The Game, before the Cerebral Assassin’s size and power advantage took over. Triple H landed a number of heavy blows on the leader of the yes movement, working hard on the injured shoulder. He put Bryan in a number of crossface-style submission holds, to inflict maximum damage. But Bryan would not go down or tap out, and he kept fighting back hard. Triple H landed a couple of Pedigrees, but couldn’t keep Bryan down for a three count. Bryan had to land a couple of running knees himself before actually pulling off the victory, but it did not end there. Stephanie McMahon, who had been at ringside throughout, slapped Bryan several times after the match, before Triple H attacked him from behind, and hit his injured shoulder with a steel chair, raising doubts about his ability to compete in the main event.

The next match had a far more comprehensive result, with The Shield decimating Corporate Kane and the New Age Outlaws in a few minutes. From the off, The Shield were on top, especially after Dean Ambrose tagged in Roman Reigns, who landed huge Superman punches on all three opponents. He eventually speared Kane, before the three members gave a simultaneous double-super bomb to the Outlaws, as they picked up the win.

After that came the first ever Andre the Giant memorial thirty man over-the-top battle royal. A slightly muddled match to begin with, given all thirty men were in the ring together to begin the match, it was initially quite difficult to make out who the competitors were, aside from physically distinct superstars like Sheamus and the Big Show. It became a more engaging match, following a spate of early eliminations, and saw some feats of athleticism from the likes of Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler and Fandango to keep themselves alive. Eventually a final four of Sheamus, Alberto del Rio, Big Show and Cesaro emerged, before Sheamus and Del Rio eliminated each other simultaneously. With the odds stacked in Big Show’s favour given his size, it was a surprise that Cesaro was able to lift up the big man and throw him over the top rope, winning the first ever event of this sort at Wrestlemania.

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Next up was John Cena’s singles match with Bray Wyatt, who had his accomplices Luke Harper and Erik Rowan at ringside. Wyatt began the match on his knees, pleading with Cena to just finish him off. Wyatt was clearly trying to press Cena into crossing over to the dark side throughout the match, hoping to taint his legacy. Cena appeared conflicted on several occasions, as his frustrations boiled over. Wyatt dominated early, using his physicality and freakish agility to keep Cena on the back foot. Cena rallied, and got back in to it, but couldn’t put Wyatt away, leading to more and more temptation to fight dirty. It wasn’t until he drove Harper through the safety boarding at ringside that he started to generate real momentum, but even then Wyatt’s freakish physicality seemed to disturb Cena. Wyatt hit Sister Abigail a couple of times, but couldn’t keep Cena down. He then went to get a chair from beyond where Harper was still laid out. He handed it to Cena and begged him to strike him with it. Cena thought hard on it, but eventually struck the oncoming Rowan with it, before landing an Attitude Adjustment on Wyatt to pick up the win.

Following the Hall of Fame inductees (Mr.T, Lita, Paul Bearer, Carlos Colon, Razor Ramon, Jake The Snake Roberts and The Ultimate Warrior) being introduced to the Wrestlemania crowd, it was time for the titanic clash between the Undertaker and Brock Lesnar. Lesnar came down to the ring with his manager, Paul Heyman, who was shouting encouragement at him all the way through the match. The Undertake entered with his bone-chilling video, culminating with him setting alight the coffin lined up for his twenty-second victim, which was to be Lesnar. Lesnar got off to a strong start, dominating the early exchanges, before the Undertaker came back in to it. Yet there was no doubt that the Undertaker was suffering far more, struggling more and more with the physical toll taken on his body. He went up to try and land old school, only to see Lesnar counter into an F5 and a near fall for the challenger to the streak. People have become accustomed to the Dead Man kicking out of all sorts of things at Wrestlemania, having taken severe beatings from the likes of Triple H, Shawn Michaels and Kane, so it was no surprise that he stayed alive. He got back on top, landing a last ride and tombstone piledriver, only to see Lesnar kick out. He then returned with another F5, and grew frustrated after ‘Taker kicked out once again. Undertaker caught him in the Hell’s Gate submission hold twice in quick succession, but Lesnar was able to escape through a tremendous act of strength, lifting ‘taker off the ground without really being able to grab him. Lesnar nailed him with a third F5 and, to the immense shock of every fan in the crowd and even Paul Heyman, he landed a three-count. Lesnar had broken the streak, and nobody seemed able to believe it. Looking at a struggling Undertaker leave the ring, he probably would have stayed down for a count of twenty. The round of applause he received from all the commentary teams and the fans, accompanied by the unpleasant viewing of a physically troubled Undertaker slowly walk up the ramp suggest we may have seen the last of the Dead Man, which would be a tragedy for the industry, but the man has clearly given all he has to the company down the years. The real benefactor is Lesnar though, who will forever be known as the first person to beat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. The WWE still has the ability to shock the crowds, it seems.

Before the main event could take place, there was still the Vickie Guerrero Divas invitational match to get through first, where fifteen WWE Divas competed for the title. It was a match heavily weighted against champion AJ Lee from the off, and the match was fought while the result of the Undertaker’s match still rang through the crowd, with the commentary team still expressing their shock all the way through. It was a solid match all the same, with lots of good action. The Bella twins managed to clear the ring, following a couple of suicide dives into the remaining competitors, before turning on each other while trying to pick up the win. The next few minutes saw a number of Divas re-enter, trying to pick up the win, as the likes of Natalya and Naomi trying to land the win. The skirmish left an opportunity for AJ though, and she took full advantage by putting Naomi into the Black Widow, and even helping her to tap out, as she retained the title against all the odds.

All that remained now was the main event, between the Heavyweight champion Randy Orton, number one contender Batista and the severely injured Daniel Bryan. Bryan, with the crowd fully behind him, got off to a quick start, launching knees at both men, before being flung out to the outside. Orton and Batista began to go at each other, suspecting if they could get the upper hand now they would win, as Bryan was struggling badly with his arm. Batista and Orton spilled out to the outside, using the steps and posts as weapons against each other. Orton got on top, but then out of nowhere Bryan re-emerged, and landed a few blows and got some momentum back. He got Orton back into the ring and landed a yes lock, going for the win. But with Orton in trouble, Triple H pulled the referee away, as Batista landed the bomb on Bryan. The Game had a crooked back-up ref with him, but Bryan managed to kick out. Triple H was incredulous, and even madder after Bryan kicked the illegitimate ref in the head, knocking him outside the ring, before flinging himself into the trio of Triple H, referee and Stephanie McMahon. Triple H got up to fetch a sledgehammer, but before he could use it, Bryan hit him through the ropes. He then picked up the weapon and struck The Game with it, leading to the three being carried away. Now though, Orton and Batista began working together, combining a Batista bomb and RKO to put Daniel Bryan (and Orton) through the announce table. The medics came and put a neck brace on Bryan and began carting him away, while Batista had the upper hand in the ring. Yet the leader of the Yes Movement fought his way off the stretcher, returns to the ring to yes lock both opponents, only for the other to break up both submissions. Batista attempted to spear Orton but instead caught Bryan in the head, while an RKO got only a two-count for Orton on Batista. It was a frenetic match, which concluded only after Bryan landed a running knee on Orton and placed Batista in the yes lock. He tapped, with a stricken Orton looking on from the outside. Daniel Bryan finally claimed the World Heavyweight Title, after a long battle overcoming massive odds.

Wrestlemania 30 sent fans home on a high, with their favourite guy going home with the gold, but what will live far longer in the memory is that this was the year when the Undertaker, the man who seemingly could not be beaten at the show of shows, finally met his match, as the streak died at the hands of Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman. That will change things in the wrestling world forever, and it may well take a lot of time to adjust to it.

Images courtesy of WWE.com

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  1. April 9th, 2014

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