Throwback Thursday: WrestleMania 30
With WrestleMania 34 coming to New Orleans again this Sunday, we look back at the last time WrestleMania emanated from The Big Easy.
WrestleMania XXX emanated from the Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana on April 6, 2014. The card was chock-full of history, both good and bad, and went down as one of the top five best “show of shows” of all-time. Here, we’re going to travel back to that event and relive everything that made it unforgettable (plus the stuff you forgot).
Find the Delorean
Let’s go back to 2014, shall we? The Ultimate Warrior was still with us, and the newest inductee into the Hall of Fame. Hulk Hogan was not a wrestling pariah yet. People were not singing along with John Cena’s theme song. The Fashion Files had yet to premiere. It was a simpler time, even if it was just four years ago.
In the build-up leading up to the 30th installment of the “granddaddy of them all,” we all got a crash course in the phonetic alphabet thanks to The Shield. We all knew the Triple H definition of a “B Plus Player” was Daniel Bryan. Paul Heyman was in rare form, proclaiming he would be the one behind the one in 21 and 1.
Bray Wyatt was on a mission to destroy the legacy of John Cena. Cesaro was a “Real American” and had yet to find the bar to which he is now be a part of. Batista was coming off a Royal Rumble victory, one in which he was booed so unmercifully that the WWE immediately changed course, and changed what would be the main event of this show.
And so it begins
The show began with a New Orleans themed video package. Say what you will about the in-ring product, but the WWE nails these video package every time. Nostalgia is a place the WWE likes to live, and the video package was heavy with such things. In fact, so was the first segment, but not without controversy.
“The Immortal” Hulk Hogan led off the show. He stumbled across his promo but gave us some vintage Hulkamania. However, he did screw up the name of the building, something that was not lost on the commentary team. Apparently, Hogan was reliving WrestleMania III, calling the place the Silverdome.
The segment was saved by Stone Cold, and even more so by the Rock. As Stone Cold threatened to open up a can of whoop ass on Hulkamania, Rocky came down and did some rhyming before the three biggest icons in the WWE, and perhaps modern professional wrestling history, smashed some beers together in a beer bash. It was everything a fan could want, including JBL, Michael Cole, and Jerry “The King” Lawler, who were content for the show to end right there.
After the legends left the ring, Imagine Dragons lent their song “Monster” to a Daniel Bryan tribute video. The video chronicled the career of Daniel Bryan, going back to the days of when his name was reversed, all the way up to the screw job Triple H gave Bryan, cementing Randy Orton as WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
The Authority shows superiority
We were asked to welcome one of the Principle Owners of the WWE, Stephanie McMahon, as she announced Triple H. The King of Kings got one heck of an entrance, complete with a custom throne, operatic music and three chainmail-clad female warriors around his throne. Believe it or not, those three warriors were Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss, and Charlotte Flair, two of which have championship matches at this Sunday’s WrestleMania, and one of which who hopes to win the first WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal.
The entrance itself was something right out of Conan the Barbarian, and it fit things absolutely perfect. He was disrobed of his cape and cowl and his crown before Lemmy’s voice (may he rest in peace) told us it was time to play the game.
This was vintage Hunter, complete with the spitting of the water and posing on the turnbuckles in a way only Triple H can. Even though he was still transitioning into his front office role at this time, it reminded many that he was still The Game.
Flight of the Valkyries, combined with 75,000+ fans chanting “yes,” signaled it was time for Daniel Bryan to enter the arena. Over 150,000 arms were outstretched over their heads, pointing to the sky and screaming the affirmative together.
Technically, this was the second match on the card. On the pre-show, Jimmy and Jey Uso (before they went to the Uso Penitentiary), defended their WWE Tag Team Championships in an elimination match against Los Matadores (complete with El Torito), The Real Americans (We the PEOPLE), and RybAxel (do you think Curtis Axel is happier to be in the Miztourage?).
Ding, ding, and the uphill climb begins
Bryan had a severely taped up shoulder as the bell rang. The first minute of the match was the two men standing around and smirking at one another. Triple H extended his hand as a piece offering, only for it to be kicked away and have D-Bry roll him up for a near fall.
The speed of Bryan caused Triple H to leave the ring. He was snarling as Steph tried to console him. It was another minute or so before the action resumed in the ring. For it to be the first match on the show proper, it seemed like a main event, for not just star power, but for pace and feel.
Back in the ring, Trips attempted to use his strength, but the speed of Bryan shut him down. The two went back and forth with no man holding a decided advantage. The most entertaining stuff came from the one-liners and insults being traded by JBL and the King.
After Triple H failed to go after the shoulder of Bryan, the Flying Goat got the upper hand and nailed a huge DDT from the apron to Triple H, standing outside. Bryan would then climb the top turnbuckle and hit a swanton to Hunter. Triple H partially caught him and deflected him into the barricade.
Both men got into the ring, leading to another near fall for Bryan. The high rent district failed for D-Bry, and Triple H went to work. After some hard shots, Hunter went to the announce table and prepared to Pedigree Bryan through the main announce table. Bryan fought back, but the rally was short lived as Triple H grabbed the injured left arm of Bryan and slammed it into the table.
Referee Charles Robinson began the count as Daniel Bryan got back in the ring on the count of seven. Triple H went back to work on the injured left arm and shoulder of who Michael Cole called the Proletariat. Bryan was able to mount a rally after low bridging Hunter to the outside. The Goat would not fly, as Bryan was met with a stiff right hand when he attempted to leap through the ropes.
After an arm breaking suplex on the ring apron, Robinson was up to a count of nine as Bryan narrowly beat the countout. Triple H used a myriad of submission moves, including the crossface, but to no avail as Bryan got to the ropes.
Triple H kept the assault going as he put Bryan in the corner. Bryan had had enough as he came out swinging. The two traded shots before Trips sent Bryan into the ropes. Bryan ducked a right hand and landed a forearm, giving him control of the match for the first time in 10 minutes.
Triple H did what he could, but two bridging German Suplexes netted Bryan two near falls. Triple H was able to reverse a third attempt and eventually hit a double underhook over the head toss. It was Triple H’s turn for a near fall, as Daniel Bryan kicked out at two.
Hunter put Bryan on the top turnbuckle and was going for a superplex. Bryan blocked the attempt three times before he fought his way out and into a sunset flip powerbomb. Both men were down. Each climbed to the opposite turnbuckle, but it was Bryan who would land the first offensive maneuver.
Two running high knees from Daniel Bryan had Triple H reeling, but on the third attempt, Hunter came out and “turned the garden gnome inside-out” with a hellacious clothesline. Hunter tried for a Pedigree again, this time for it to be reversed into a pinning predicament for Daniel Bryan. A kick out by Hunter and momentum had once again shifted. A Yes Kick planted Triple H.
With the crowd feeling it, Bryan went up high and leaped. Hunter got a knee up, then locked in another crossface. Bryan struggled and crawled but could not get to the bottom rope. A roll through put the two men in the middle of the ring. The crowd got behind their hero. He rolled into a pin combo, and after Trips kicked out, Bryan put him in the Yes Lock.
The crowd came unglued as Triple H screamed in agony. After a minute of pressure, Hunter grasped the bottom rope. With Triple H on the outside and licking his wounds, Bryan went for it all and took off. He jumped through the ropes and planted Trips. He repeated the feat before giving Triple H more Yes kicks.
Quickly back in the ring, and after a Missile Dropkick, Bryan kipped up to his feet. With Triple H on his knees, proper Yes kicks connected. All Bryan could muster was a near fall. A “This is Awe-some.” Chant broke out in the crowd as Bryan found a corner. He signaled it was time for the running knee.
As he took off, Triple H turned and scooped up Bryan into a mammoth spinebuster. A Pedigree has normally been the end of a Triple H match, but after delivering one to Bryan, it would not be over. A kick out at 2.5 meant the match, and the Yes Movement, continued.
Hunter was the first to his feet and walked over to the fallen hero. As he went to grab Bryan, the Washington state native locked in the small package for a near fall. Triple H grabbed Bryan by the hair and dragged him over to the bottom turnbuckle. 10 hard right hands later and Triple H was in control.
Another try for the Pedigree was reversed into a flip and a pinning combo by Bryan. Triple H got his shoulder up, and never released the double underhook grip he had on Bryan. Triple H could not get Bryan to his feet, so instead he dropped two knees to the beard of Bryan.
Bryan reversed things into a kick to the head. After Triple H went for another German Suplex, Bryan flipped and landed on his feet. He propelled himself out of the corner and hit the running knee. A hook of the leg and three slams of Charles Robinson’s hand on canvas and Daniel Bryan was going to the main event. Not bad for a B Plus Player. The match lasted 25:58. The match got 4.25 stars, which seems fair.
The crowd was shocked but lit on fire. Stephanie would have to look for her jaw as it was on the floor, and Bryan sold it as the beating of his lifetime. For future reference, this is how you have the opening match look at the biggest show you have all year.
The celebration was short lived as Stephanie got into the ring and began a slap attack like an eight-grade girl. It was a diversion for Triple H to attack Bryan from behind and further injure the shoulder. One thing was for sure, Daniel Bryan would not be 100% in the main event.
Nostalgia meet the Hounds of Justice
After an exterior shot of the Superdome, and a bad joke my Michael Cole, out came the New Age Outlaws. Before Road Dogg could get out his trademarked entrance, out through the crowd come The Shield. The Hounds of Justice did not make it to the ring before the pyro explodes and the Devil’s Favorite Demon, Kane, join the Outlaws and the six-man tag is ready to begin.
This match would not last long. In just 2:56, Roman Reigns got in a double drive by, a superman punch, and The Shield asserted their dominance on three soon-to-be Hall of Famers. Ambrose and Rollins took out the Outlaws with a leap through the ropes. Kane would eat the first spear, then the Outlaws ate a double spear. A triple powerbomb to both Outlaws preceded Rollins pinning Billy Gunn and the bell.
It is hard to remember The Shield, specifically Roman Reigns being this over. It seems like forever, but this was less than four years ago. The match got two stars, which might be a tad high for a match that lasted under three minutes.
We had to get them into the show somehow
Backstage, we have legends pimping WWE Slam City toys. Sgt. Slaughter, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Ricky Steamboat, Dangerous Danny Davis, the Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, and Ron Simmons all make an appearance in this glorified commercial. The laugh of DiBiase and Damn from Ron Simmons highlight the segment.
We are now set for the first ever Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale. Big Show got his own entrance, as 29 other superstars are in the ring. The Celtic Warrior Sheamus was the 31st man to be in the ring. Big Show is one of only five men (Goldust, Heath Slater, Mark Henry, Fandango) to appear in all four ATGMBR.
Eliminations came hot and heavy, Yoshi Tatsu was the very first to go. As superstars found their way over the top rope, the final seven men consisted of battle royale specialist Kofi Kingston, the eventual winner, and five either former or future World Champions.
The final four men were Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus, Cesaro, and Big Show. After Del Rio went for the cross-arm breaker, an odd choice in an over the top rope match, Sheamus picked him up and heaved him over the rope. Del Rio was not going to lose without taking Sheamus with him, and the two eliminated each other.
It came down to a man who is possibly pound-for-pound the strongest man in the WWE and a man who was once billed at 7’ 2” tall and over 500 pounds. Cesaro escaped a chokeslam opportunity from the World’s Largest Athlete and struck back with European Uppercuts. Several clotheslines could not get Show off his feet and Cesaro was in a world of hurt.
Show threw Cesaro over the top rope, only for the Swiss Superman to hold on. He climbed to the top rope and was met with a throat thrust on his way down by Show. Show, almost toying with his opponent, slopped him on his shoulders like a sack of potatoes. Cesaro wiggled free just before he was set to be tossed. Three more European Uppercuts later, and it was Cesaro’s turn to do some eliminating, and he did it most impressively.
Cesaro weighs in at all of 232 pounds. Big Show, at that time, was billed at 450 pounds. Cesaro basically power cleaned him and dumped him over the top to become the first ever winner of the Andre the Giant Memorial Trophy.
The match saw 30 men get eliminated and took up a grand total of 13 minutes and 25 seconds. After the match, the two final participants shook hands in a rarely seen display of sportsmanship in the WWE. Dave Meltzer gave this multi-man free for all three stars. Hard to argue with any rating for this.
Stand up Cenation and meet the Eater of Worlds
After thanking Eminem for the quite underrated song Legacy, we see a video package highlighting the John Cena and Bray Wyatt feud. In a word, it was fantastic. The music matched the voiceovers and actions perfectly. This feud deserved the main event spotlight but didn’t need it.
A very talented belly dancer contorts her body around flames and various voodoo artifacts. Bray Wyatt’s entrance music is played live by a band, and the lantern toting Eater of Worlds comes out with his family in tow. For all the pomp and circumstance Bray got for his entrance, Cena’s was no different from any Monday Night Raw for the last decade.
After the Wyatt Family depart the ring, the head games from Bray begin, as he kneeled in the middle of the ring and asked Cena to end the match. Cena knew how to tick off a crowd as the first few moves of the match were side headlock takedowns. Wyatt would take control of the match and begin to hold down the former leader of the Chain Gang Army.
After some showboating from Bray, Cena exploded out of the corner and clocked Bray with a huge clothesline. As Cena brought the rain of fists and fury, Bray was laughing during the onslaught. To perhaps save their prophet, The Wyatt Family came to the apron, only to be ordered to stand down by Bray.
Cena maintained control of the match. As Cena was struggling with his good and bad side, Bray got up and launched Cena through the air. The power in the match shifted once again, and this time to the man who used to be known as Husky Harris.
To be honest, the match was somewhat of a bore. Cena got some momentum and hit his shoulder blocks then went for the five-knuckle shuffle. As he rebounded off the ropes, Bray popped up in that reverse crab walk thing he does, causing Cena to jump back and into the corner out of shock, I guess.
Rowan caused a distraction, so Bray could hit a huge side slam and get a near fall. Bray conducted the crowd into singing before splashing Cena in the corner. On the second attempt in the opposite corner, Cena got a shoe up, and hit a second rope DDT for a near fall of his own.
Cena would then go to the top rope. I don’t know what he was going for, but he got caught in a powerbomb and a near fall for Bray. Cena would play opossum and attempt to lock Bray into the STF (remember when there was another letter on the end of that? Back when John Cena had an edge…), only for it to be countered. Cena would counter the counter and hit the five-knuckle shuffle. He set Bray up for the AA, but to no avail as another counter would be a gut buster by Bray onto the man who stands for Hustle, Loyalty, and Respect.
Two was all Bray could get from the combination of counters and high impact moves. After Cena attempted another AA, this time on the apron, and with no build-up whatsoever, Bray countered into a DDT onto what Jerry Lawler described as the “hardest part of the ring.”
The match was slow, very deliberate in its pace. As we hit the halfway point of the show, we may have seen our first highlight of this match. With Bray down in the middle of the ring, Cena stood on the top turnbuckle. Instead of flying towards his opponent, Cena took out Harper and Rowan (now known as the Bludgeon Brothers).
The psychology in this match made up for the lack of action. Cena had Bray down outside the ring and had steel steps in hand. Instead of using them and proving himself to be the monster Bray had been trying to bring out in him for the past several weeks, Cena tossed the steel steps aside and tossed Bray into the ring. The way they depicted the struggle inside of Cena was a detail not lost by most. Granted, the fans in attendance wanted to see that ruthless aggression that brought Cena to SmackDown those many moons ago, but this was done beautifully.
After Bray would knock down Cena, he grasped the future 16-time World Champion’s head and sung “He’s got the whole world in his hands.” Bray would miss with his next offense, but Cena would not. One huge AA later and this match was over, right? Wrong! Bray got his shoulder up.
With both men down, Rowan tried to get into the ring to distract the referee. With Cena slung over the middle rope, trying to find his way back to his feet, Harper hit a drive-by, knocking Cena back down and on his back in the middle of the ring. A back splash by Bray only got him two. He would dump Cena on the outside out of frustration.
On the outside, a groggy Cena got to his feet and speared Harper through the barricade. Bray checked on his fallen comrade after a knee to Cena. He rolled Cena back in the ring before going to the corner and doing that backwards back bend.
Cena reversed a Sister Abigail into an STF. Bray found the bottom rope and Cena broke the hold. In one swift motion, Bray hit his finisher, but Cena kicked out. Wyatt was reeling as he fell into the corner. The Eater of Worlds went to the outside and tore the cover off the Spanish Announce Table. Abandoning that, Bray grabbed a steel chair.
In came Rowan to distract the referee. Bray tossed the chair to Cena and dropped to his knees. He begged Cena to hit him with the chair and yelled “finish me!” The referee begged Cena not to use the chair on Bray. Instead, he clocked Rowan. Now both members of the Wyatt family were down. Bray sprang for a roll-up, but only got two.
Bray went for another Sister Abigail, only for another Cena reversal, this time into the AA. That would be all as Cena got the three count. The match lasted 22:25 and received 3.5 stars from Wrestling Observer, a score that might have been on the low side.
We get some highlights of the match as the trumpets blare and Cena hugs the fans in the first row, including his Dad. A video package of WWE 2K14 plays, as does a commercial for Tostito’s Pizza Rolls. Michael Cole thanks the fans for tuning in before we get a highlight package of the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony.
Honor thy legends
Going in that year was Jake “The Snake” Roberts (inducted by DDP), Lita (inducted by Trish Stratus), Paul Bearer (inducted by Kane and tribute with the urn by Undertaker), Mr. T (inducted by “Mean” Gene Okerlund), Carlos Colon (inducted by Epico, Primo, and Carlito), Razor Ramon (inducted by Kevin Nash), Ultimate Warrior (inducted by Linda McMahon). It is always a touching moment when Howard Finkel introduces the Hall of Famers.
On a personal note, one of the more tear-jerking moments in wrestling history was the speech Ultimate Warrior gave on the night following this. He said his goodbyes to wrestling on that night and said goodbye to the world not long after. It affected me in such a way that his last lines in a wrestling ring are on the front cover of my book.
Backstage, we see Daniel Bryan getting examined by WWE trainers. We get the obligatory shots of Mardi Gras in New Orleans, are introduced to the Spanish announce team, and get a video package for Undertaker versus Brock Lesnar.
The Beast versus the Streak
Before we get to the match, I am going to give you the stats. Meltzer gave this match 1.5 stars. For the impact on history alone, this should have gotten more. The match lasted just over 25 minutes (25:11). It would spawn memes, give berth to more hatred than ever seen before, and kill something that was legally old enough to drink.
Brock was out first, followed closely behind by his advocate, and perhaps the most intelligent man in professional wrestling history, Paul Heyman. His entrance seemed to last forever as JBL listed an impressive set of accomplishments.
Undertaker came out with a new video package, highlighting his WrestleMania victories. Caskets of the men he beat appeared on the stage with the number of the streak they were defeated. The final casket was marked 22 and had Lesnar’s name on it.
We get the chimes of the bell and the fog has covered the stage. Say what you will about The Undertaker, but he has the best entrance in wrestling history. This one was complete with flames, fog, and a laser light show. If Lesnar’s entrance lasted a long time, Taker’s lasted an eternity.
Eat, Sleep, Conquer the Streak
The two men go eye-to-eye, then back off as the referee calls for the bell. It was not going to be a pure wrestling match, as early on punches dominated the action, except for a belly-to-belly suplex by Lesnar. The Beast Incarnate took Taker to the outside with a clothesline, only for the Deadman to land on his feet.
The two men traded shots on the apron before Taker hangs Lesnar up on the top rope. He gets back in the ring and takes control of the match. Taker seems to be working over the shoulder of Lesnar by slamming him into two ringposts. Taker went to go old school, but Lesnar stopped it. Another shoulder into the ringpost, and Taker was pummeling Lesnar on the outside.
The match was slow, almost painful in its pace. Taker hit a guillotine leg drop onto Lesnar. Lesnar, to his credit was selling it very well. Taker went for a chokeslam, but Lesnar turned in the air. It would be Brock’s turn to go for a finisher, but Taker wiggled out of the F-5 and sent Lesnar into the turn buckles hard on that shoulder.
The seven-foot Undertaker went for a big boot in the corner and missed, landing on the top turnbuckle. Lesnar would go to work on the left leg of Undertaker. Lesnar took a hard elbow to the face but nailed a takedown move which can best be described as a dragon whip without the rotation, or maybe what Ric Flair used to do to set up the Figure Four.
Back in the ring, Lesnar maintained control. He would work over the leg of the Phenom, both in an out of the ring. Every time Taker would try and mount some offense, Lesnar would shut it down. The second wrestling move of the match was executed when Lesnar hit a snap suplex. The crowd was shocked.
As Lesnar is in control, there is a shot of Heyman laughing on the outside. He is so good at what he does. The WWE needs him. Taker is getting wailed on in the ring. Michael Cole said it was hard to watch, and it was. Lesnar sent Taker into the ropes, and on the rebound, Taker hit a huge DDT.
Both men got to their feet at the same time. Lesnar charged Taker in the corner but ate the boot of the Deadman. Now it was Taker’s turn to throw hands and take it to the former UFC Champion. A big boot and a leg drop led to Taker going for the first pinning predicament. Lesnar kicked out at 1.5.
Taker signaled for the chokeslam, and this time hit it. Lesnar once again kicked out. Taker looked exhausted but went for the Tombstone. Lesnar wiggled out and as fast as he has ever moved, nailed the F-5 on Undertaker. Taker kicked out, much to the chagrin of Heyman.
As Paul screamed, Lesnar got to his feet. Taker could not get off the mat as Lesnar stood over him. However, Taker was playing possum as when Brock bent down, Taker locked in the Hell’s Gate submission. Lesnar locked his hands and picked up the 300-pound Undertaker. A slam into the mat, and the hold was broken.
Lesnar dragged Taker back into the ring, only to be caught in Hell’s Gate again. Lesnar got out of it the same way, but this time it looked more impressive. How this match only got 1.5 stars is beyond me. As both men struggled to get to their feet, Lesnar lunged and locked in the Kimura.
This was the same hold that broke the arms of Mark Henry, Triple H, and Shawn Michaels. Undertaker reversed the hold and locked in his version of the Kimura. Lesnar was able to get to the ropes, as both men found a corner and fought on their knees.
Taker got to his feet and was immediately met with shoulders from Lesnar. Lesnar charged the corner, only to eat another book from Taker. Undertaker twisted the left arm of Lesnar. He went to the top rope, and as he walked the rope, Lesnar pulled him into another F-5. The streak is over right? Wrong. Taker kicked out at two.
Lesnar and Heyman were beside themselves. Taker used the ropes to pull himself to his feet but received a German Suplex for his trouble. Lesnar hit a second German. Was this the beginning of Suplex City? Maybe it was just Suplex Town back then.
Both men were in opposite corners. Heyman was screaming at Lesnar, trying to hype up his man. It did just that as Lesnar got to his feet and began to once again pummel the Deadman. Lesnar went to the second rope, because of reasons. Taker did what was obvious, as he picked up Lesnar and hit The Last Ride.
Taker did not go for the pin. He bent over with his hands on his knees and waited for Lesnar to get to his feet. Taker picked up the behemoth and hit a Tombstone. Lesnar would kick out at two. A throat slash signaled The Undertaker was about to end the match. Taker went for another Tombstone, but Lesnar countered into another F-5. He walked around for a few seconds before nailing another F-5. Three seconds later and The Streak was over.
Shots of a stunned crowd with mouths gaping open. No one in the arena, or watching at home, was fully sure of what happened. 22 years in the making was ended at the hands of a part-timer. Paul Heyman was the one behind the one in 21 and one. The Superdome was speechless. The crowd reactions might have been the best part of this match.
As Lesnar and Heyman walked up the ramp, Taker laid sprawled out in the ring, staring at the ceiling. It was the most shocking moment in WWE history. The Undertaker’s streak was now over.
Say it ain’t so
Undertaker sat up in the ring, but not as The Deadman. He sat up as an old man, one who saw his greatest achievement taken from him. The 70,000+ chanted “Undertaker” as Michael Cole and JBL spoke in solemn tones. This should have been the final match of his career. This should have been how he walked out of the WWE. Instead, some four years later in the same building, he will (probably) face John Cena.
The entire announcers row took to their feet and gave Taker a standing ovation. This goodbye was lasting as long as the match, and rightfully it should have. No one knew if this would be it for him. It wasn’t. It should have been, but it was not. As he walked the long walk up the ramp, the bells tolled, and the crowd cheered for what should have been the final time. As the fog once again appeared, Taker disappeared into it.
To give those of us watching at home enough time to dry our eyes and catch our collective breaths, a video package ran for WrestleMania 31, emanating from Silicon Valley. They thank one of the newest WWE Hall of Famers, Kid Rock, for lending them his song.
The Palette Cleanser
All three announcers thank The Undertaker. Now we have the Vickie Guerrero Invitational. Thirteen women are in the ring as Lillian Garcia announces the first woman to get a pin fall or submission will win the match. AJ Lee, the current Diva’s Champion, gets her entrance.
It is cut off by the shrill voice of Vickie Guererro. She is standing on a podium and wishes everyone good luck before laughing like the Wicked Witch of the West. The WWE needs Vickie to return.
The action is fast and furious. We have been blessed with the Women’s revolution and the continued greatness of the likes of Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks and the like. This match was the obvious pee break match on the card. That is the match between the two main events to give the fans a chance to calm down and rewind.
Uncle Dave gave this match a star and a quarter, which was too high in my opinion. The women began to hit their finishers. The Bellas saw all the women gathered on the outside and took them all out with flying twin magic?
Back in the ring, Bree and Nikki Bella decided to fight one another. After a Rack Attack by Nikki (I think), the pin was broken up. More finishers and Tamina climbed the top rope. She was going for a Super Fly Splash but was pushed off the top rope.
Nattie had a chance for a pin, but Tamina broke it up. Those two fought on the outside and Nattie got the upper hand. A modified baseball slide by AJ put her down. AJ then locked Naomi in the Black Widow, and after a few seconds, Naomi tapped out. After just 6:48, the match was over.
Vickie was not happy as she turned the butterfly belt back over to AJ Lee. Mrs. CM Punk celebrated as Vickie had her patented sour look on her face.
We headed back to the locker room to “Mean” Gene. He introduced Hulk Hogan who was in the middle of a promo when he was interrupted by “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff.
Piper and Orndorff got on the mic and berated Hogan before turning on one another. Enter Mr. T and Pat Patterson, the referee of the main event of WrestleMania I. Hogan wants to bury the hatchet. All four men shake each other’s hands, begrudgingly on Pipers’ part.
Hall of Famers at ringside were introduced. Bruno Sammartino, Harley Race, Bob Backlund, Dusty Rhodes, and Bret Hart were all introduced and got decent crowd reactions. The same could not be said for the first man coming to the ring in the main event.
The Final Coup de Gras
Randy Orton came down to the ring to a live version of entrance music and holding both the Worlds’ Heavyweight Championship belt and the WWE Championship belt. Voices is probably Randy Orton’s best entrance theme.
Out comes Drax the Destroyer. Wait, I think he is calling himself Batista. He is the winner of the 2014 Royal Rumble in one of the worst decisions Vince McMahon made since he decided Hornswoggle was his illegitimate child. He got a Roman Reigns-like reaction with the sheer hatred from the crowd. The crowd was incensed with their anger at Batista, but it would not last long.
Daniel Bryan came out, favoring his left arm. He would not even raise it to do his Yes! Salute with the crowd. He was selling the injury as we saw highlights of the match he had with Triple H just a few hours prior.
By the way, had Triple H won, all we would be missing would be Ric Flair from a complete Evolution reunion. As much as it would have ticked the crowd off to not have D-Bry in the match, I would have liked to see that match.
Justin Roberts announced the match and the competitors. As Batista was announced, you could tell his heart was not in it.
Let’s get it on
The bell rings and Bryan flies into Orton. Batista picked Bryan up off the rebound and went for a Batista Bomb. Bryan reverses into some form of a hurricanrana. The momentum takes The Animal to the outside. With Orton in the corner, Bryan went to work on Orton.
The offense did not last long, as Orton went to work on Bryan’s shoulder. Batista would come back into the fray. Bryan was forcibly escorted from the ring. Batista controlled the match from there on. The Animal knocked Orton to the outside and took him hard into the apron and bounced his head off the announce table.
Batista was laying into Orton and using just about everything on the outside. The crowd was relatively quiet, outside of the ‘this sucks’ chants and some occasional booing. Batista went for a Batista Bomb on the outside, but Orton reversed it into a Back Body Drop onto the steps.
Orton found Bryan and began making him pay. The Legend Killer was in firm control of this match. He even posed on the very same steel steps he sent Batista into. Orton got the first near fall of the match on Batista. Even after the kick out, Orton maintained control of Batista, and with Daniel Bryan down, Orton was in control once again.
That was until Bryan came out of nowhere. He flew off the top turnbuckle and took out both men. With both Orton and Batista on their knees, Bryan hit his patented Yes Kicks, alternating victims and legs as he did it. Bryan hit the final kick of Batista but was caught by Orton who threw Bryan in a single underhook suplex.
Orton went for a pin, but the Animal broke it up. Orton received a powerslam from Drax, only to have his pin broken up by the Flying Goat. With the Apex Predator down, Batista took it to D Bry. A drop toe hold into the second turnbuckle put Bryan back in control.
With Orton in one corner and Batista in the other, Bryan went running and dropkicked them both repeatedly. After another high impact move by Bryan, he got his first near fall. Batista came to life and wound up suplexing Bryan from the ring to the floor.
Batista climbed to the top rope but was met by the leader of Legacy. Orton went for a superplex, but Batista blocked him, but only momentarily. Orton hit the superplex, putting both men down. Once again out of nowhere, Bryan hits a flying headbutt. Seconds later, Randall found himself in the Yes! Lock.
From the crowd enter Triple H and Stephanie. Hunter pulls the ref from the ring and Orton breaks the hold. With Bryan distracted from Triple H, Batista hit a huge spinebuster. Triple H brings out Scott Armstrong, a crooked referee Triple H had used before.
Batista hit a Batista Bomb and pinned Bryan. Armstrong, to his credit, did not have a fast count, giving Bryan enough time to kick out at two. Triple H and Stephanie admonish Armstrong. Batista charges across the ring. Bryan moves, and Batista goes shoulder first into the ringpost.
As Armstrong checks on Bryan, he is met with a kick from Daniel Bryan. Armstrong falls to the outside where he is checked on by Trips and the Billion Dollar Princess. All three get taken out when Bryan flies to the outside.
On one side of the ring, Randy Orton, Triple H, Daniel Bryan, Scott Armstrong, and Stephanie McMahon all laid in some form of pain. Batista was still bent over the second turnbuckle. Bryan is the only one to get back to his feet and get in the ring.
Hunter reaches under the ring and grabs a sledgehammer. As he attempted to get into the ring, Bryan knocks the sledge out of his grasp. He grabs the hammer and applies it to the skull of HHH. He rolls up Batista and Mike Chioda, now back to consciousness (a miraculous recovery for a referee) counts the near fall before it is broken up by Orton.
Orton throws Bryan to the outside and follows him. He beats down Bryan before sending him into a clothesline by Batista. Former Evolution members are working together. A series of referees escort the McMahons, now writhing in pain, to the back.
Batista and Orton discuss something before both take apart separate announce tables. As Orton is building the ring steps in front of a table. Batista bounces a monitor off the injured shoulder of Bryan. A CM Punk chant begins as Batista sets Bryan up for a Batista Bomb. Orton is coiled for an RKO. They haven’t done something like this since Evolution.
Batista hurls Bryan up and Orton brings him down with an RKO throw the announce table. A monitor was not taken out of the table and it looked like Orton came down back first onto said monitor. Ouch.
The doctors tended to Bryan as Batista stood over the carnage. The doctor called for the stretcher. Slowly, Batista gets Orton to his feet and knocks him right back down. EMTs put Bryan on the stretcher as Orton is thrown into the barricade and the ringpost.
Batista is taking it to the third-generation superstar. Bryan is being wheeled to the back on the backboard and stretcher. Orton turns the tables and went for a middle rope DDT. Batista countered, but it did not stop Orton. He got The Animal on the apron and hit the DDT on the outside.
The crowd came alive when Bryan got himself off the stretcher. He was slung into the ring steps by Orton and rolled into the ring by The Legend Killer. Orton stands in the ring as the crowd chants for Daniel Bryan. He is going to that place as he pounds the mat. Orton went for another RKO, but Bryan reversed it into the Yes! Lock.
With Orton in the middle of the ring, Batista comes in and breaks the hold. Bryan then locked in his patented submission on Batista. Orton broke the hold this time. Orton went to work on Batista now. As he had both men down, Orton once again went to the mat, signaling the RKO. He got Batista, but Batista simply didn’t fall and “countered” the move.
Batista, breathing heavily, went for a spear. Orton leapfrogged him, and Bryan did not see him coming. It looked like the two slammed their heads together. Either way, Bryan was down again. He rolled from the ring as Orton finally hit the RKO. A hook of the far leg, but Batista kicked out at two.
Orton doesn’t know what to do. He signals he is going to punt Batista. From outside the shot, in comes Bryan with double knees to the face of Orton. Batista springs to life and throws Bryan from the ring. He pounces on Orton and hooks the leg. With a huge grin on his face, he figures he has this match won. Nope. Orton kicks out at two.
Batista is going for another Bomb. He nails it on Orton. However, there would be no pin here, as Bryan once again flies out of seemingly nowhere, and nails Batista with double knees. He locks in the Yes! Lock on Batista! Could this be it? Could this be Daniel Bryan’s WrestleMania moment?
Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
The match lasted 23:20. It received a match rating of 4.5 stars. Overall, on the show that lasted three hours and 55 minutes, there was 2:00:04 of actual wrestling, making 51.1% of the show bell-to-bell action. The longest match was the first, Daniel Bryan defeating Triple H. The shortest was The Shield defeating the New Age Outlaws and Kane. The average match time was 17:09.1.
Michael Cole goes absolutely nuts, calling this the Miracle on Bourbon Street. This is retribution for the 18 second match he had against Sheamus. This is payback for not being in the Royal Rumble. JBL said it best. “Daniel Bryan has overcome the Authority!”
Pyro goes off and confetti is launched as the celebration begins, closing out one of the best WrestleManias of all-time. Now, the WWE is back in NOLA, trying to recreate the same magic. Will Shinsuke Nakamura get his moment? Will Brock Lesnar be defeated? Does The Undertaker and John Cena make more history? Who will be left under the shower of confetti? We will find out on Sunday, April 8th, 2018.
What were your favorite moments from WrestleMania 30? Let us know in the comments below!