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Sun Life Stadium – Miami, Florida – April 1, 2012
Matt Striker and Josh Mathews are on commentary for the Preshow, while Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler are calling the action for the real show.
PRESHOW MATCH: Triple Threat Tag Team Match for the WWE Tag Team Championship – Primo & Epico vs. Jimmy & Jey Uso vs. Justin Gabriel & Tyson Kidd
Primo and Epico have been the Champions since 1.15.12, and this is their third defense. Jey, Kidd, and Primo start the match, so this is a “one guy from each team in the ring” type of triple threat match. They go back and forth at a rapid pace, all trying to earn the first advantage. Primo does so, and takes Jey over to the corner for some double-teaming. The Champs tag in and out to keep a fresh man in the ring. Primo hits Kidd with a DDT for two. He takes Jey up top for a superplex and Kidd jumps up there to execute a Tower of Doom! The crowd pops for the first time. Tags are made to Jimmy and Epico, and Jimmy is a house afire. Gabriel tries to cut Jimmy off but has no luck. Jey tags back in and the Usos hit the Alley-Us. The Usos have looked dominant here. They dump the Champions to the floor and Jey follows them out with a cross body block off the top rope. The Usos then hit the Alley-Us on Kidd on the floor. Gabriel then takes out the Champs and the Usos with an Asai Moonsault. Back in the ring Gabriel goes for a springboard 450 Splash but Epico gets his knees up. Jimmy then hits Gabriel with the Superfly Splash and Epico pulls him off. Epico hits the Backstabber to get the pin at 5:03. All six guys went all out and certainly worked to make the most of the time they were given. I’d like to see a longer version of this match.
MATCH #1: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus
Bryan has been the Champion since 12.18.11, and this is his sixth defense. He is accompanied by his girlfriend AJ. The Champ shares a kiss with his girlfriend and that distraction allows Sheamus to knock Bryan’s head off with a Brogue Kick and win the title in 19 seconds! So the Internet exploded with rage over that, but it may have been the best thing to happen to Bryan. The backlash the next night was a major factor in him getting even more over than he was, and forced the office to take notice of him. Bryan had a great rematch with Sheamus on the next pay-per-view and then had a run with WWE Champion CM Punk so he ended up okay. On its own though, this match was a kick in the dick.
MATCH #2: Randy Orton vs. Kane
They go back and forth a bit in the early going as Kane uses his power advantage to try and subdue Orton, but the Viper is determined. Kane drops Orton across the top rope and boots him in the face. That gets a two-count. Kane wears Orton down with strikes and rest holds. Orton tries to fire up but Kane cuts him right off. Kane hits a side suplex for two. Orton comes back with a swinging neckbreaker for a count of two. He tries to follow up but Kane hurls him into the top turnbuckle. Kane hits a vertical suplex for two. He goes for another side suplex and Orton flips out of it. Orton hits the backbreaker. He follows up with a couple of clotheslines and the powerslam. Orton sends Kane shoulder-first into the ring post, and then hits the Orton DDT. He tries the RKO but Kane counters and delivers a boot to the face for two. Kane goes up top for the clothesline but Orton cuts him out of the air with a dropkick. Orton goes for the Punt but Kane catches him in a Chokeslam! That only gets two. Orton almost hits the RKO again but Kane counters. Kane goes to the second rope and Orton slugs away at him. Orton goes up too, but Kane counters with a Super Chokeslam to get the upset pin at 10:57. The match was decent if a bid pedestrian, and I must admit the finish was quite surprising.
MATCH #3: Intercontinental Championship Match – Cody Rhodes vs. Big Show
Rhodes has been the Champion since 8.12.11, and this is his eighth defense. He immediately tries to avoid his massive challenger, but when he tries a dive to the floor Show catches him and press slams him back in the ring. Show is dominant, throwing Rhodes around the ring. He also forces his giant ass into Rhodes’ face. Show misses a charge in the corner and Rhodes tries to capitalize. Rhodes hits a series of dropkicks to take Show off his feet. He goes to work on Show’s left leg, which is very smart strategy. Rhodes goes up top and snaps Show’s arm off the top rope. He hits the Beautiful Disaster, but when he goes for another one Show cuts him out of the air with a spear. Show then hits the WMD to score the pin and his first Intercontinental Title at 5:19. That was decent for a TV style match, and it’s nice to see Show get a good moment at WrestleMania, he deserves it.
MATCH #4: Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs. Beth Phoenix & Eve
Phoenix is the current Divas Champion. Kelly and Eve start the match. Eve tries to set the tone but Kelly lands a quick hurricanrana for two. Kelly goes for the handspring elbow but Eve kicks her in the back. Eve goes up top but Kelly knocks her down. Menounos tags in and they rub their asses in Eve’s face. Phoenix kicks Menounos in the ribs from the apron, since it was known that Menounos was coming in with two cracked ribs. Eve and Phoenix isolate Menounos and work on her injured ribs. When Eve goes for the standing moonsault with the ass shake, Menounos kicks her to the floor. Kelly gets the hot tag and she’s a house afire. She goes up top and hits the Molly-Go-Round for two. Eve saved her partner there. Phoenix goes for the Glam Slam but Kelly turns it into a bulldog. Menounos tags in and goes up top. She climbs very slowly so Phoenix grabs her in a press slam. Kelly rescues her partner and Menounos rolls Phoenix up to get the pin at 6:49. This was actually pretty decent tag team formula stuff, and Menounos didn’t try doing anything she couldn’t do. I would like to point out that this match got more time than the World Heavyweight and Intercontinental Title matches combined.
MATCH #5: End of an Era Hell in a Cell Match – Triple H vs. Undertaker w/ Special Guest Referee Shawn Michaels
Jim Ross joins the commentary team. He mentions that there have been 24 Hell in a Cell matches, and these tow men have been in 19 of them. Undertaker wastes no time in unloading with strikes, but HHH is right there to match him. The battle quickly spills to the floor and Undertaker slams HHH into the ring steps. Undertaker whips HHH into the cell wall and back body drops him. He continues throwing HHH around ringside and otherwise dominating him. Back in the ring Undertaker remains in control. Undertaker hits Old School and then they go back to the floor, where he drives the steel ring steps into HHH’s face. Back in the ring HHH is able to hit a DDT from out of nowhere. He sets up a Pedigree on the steps but Undertaker backdrops his way out of it. Undertaker charges and HHH catches him with a spinebuster on the steps. Before HHH can follow up Undertaker grabs the Hell’s Gate but HHH powers out of it! That was awesome, and it gets a two-count. HHH uses a chair and sets up the steps in the corner to ram Undertaker’s face into. He then destroys Undertaker with a chair, focusing on the spine. HHH tells Michaels to end it, refusing to go for a cover. Michaels tries to ask Undertaker if he surrenders, and of course he doesn’t so HHH throws Michaels out of the way and beats on Undertaker some more with the chair. Undertaker begs Michaels not to stop it, so HHH continues the chair assault. HHH covers but only gets two. HHH uses the chair some more and Michaels isn’t happy with him. He tells Michaels to “end it or I will.” HHH brings the sledgehammer in and cracks Undertaker in the face with it. Undertaker kicks out! HHH goes to crush Undertaker’s skull and Michaels takes the sledgehammer away from his best friend. That’s bull crap, the referee shouldn’t get involved in a No Disqualification Match. Michaels almost calls for the bell because Undertaker is defenseless, but the Dead Man begs him not to again. Undertaker then grabs Michaels in the Hell’s Gate to prevent him from stopping the match! HHH breaks that up with the sledgehammer. He goes to hit Undertaker with it again but Undertaker blocks with a low blow! Undertaker locks on Hell’s Gate but there’s no referee. Charles Robinson makes his way down to replace Michaels, but Undertaker has released the hold. Undertaker hits a Chokeslam and Robinson counts two! An angry Undertaker then Chokeslams Robinson! Undertaker then goes for the Tombstone but HHH slips out and pushes him right into Sweet Chin Music! HHH then hits a Pedigree! Undertaker actually kicks out! That’s the most anyone has ever bought The Streak being over right there. Michaels tries to reason with HHH about using the sledgehammer, so HHH tosses him to the floor. Undertaker sits up and unleashes fury! HHH’s reaction to that was amazing. Undertaker hits the Tombstone and Michaels comes back in to make the count but only gets two! They rise and slug it out, and Undertaker goes for the Tombstone again but HHH slips out again and hits another Pedigree and it only gets two! Both men go for weapons, as Undertaker grabs a chair and HHH grabs the sledgehammer. Undertaker rises first and steps on the hammer to prevent HHH from picking it up. That’s awesome. Undertaker then unloads on HHH with the chair and covers but only gets two. HHH tries to use the sledgehammer but Undertaker simply takes it away from him. The defiant HHH delivers a crotch chop and Undertaker blasts him with the hammer. The straps come down and Undertaker makes the throat slash motion. Undertaker delivers the Tombstone to End the Era at 30:54. That was a huge improvement over last year’s match, and about as emotional and dramatic as a wrestling match could be. Taking this entire story going back to Shawn versus Flair from WrestleMania XXIV makes this an extremely dense and detailed storyline. The match itself was unique in the sense that no two other guys on the roster could have pulled it off. It never really felt long and they worked some great spots and some harsh brutality. As a match it may not be entirely perfect, but with the intangibles I think that pushes it all over the edge.
WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2012
This year’s inductees are Ron Simmons, Mil Mascaras, The Four Horsemen, Mike Tyson, Yokozuna (posthumous), and Edge.
MATCH #6: Team Teddy vs. Team Johnny – Booker T, Great Khali, R-Truth, Santino Marella, Kofi Kingston & Zack Ryder vs. Jack Swagger, Drew McIntyre, David Otunga, Mark Henry, Dolph Ziggler & The Miz
Team Teddy has Teddy Long, Hornswoggle, Eve, Aksana, and Nikki Bella with them. Team Johnny has John Laurinaitis, Vickie Guerrero, and Brie Bella in their corner. Of all the guys on the teams, how are Santino Marella and David Otunga the team captains? Kingston and Ziggler start the match. They go back and forth and momentum switches often as they try to tag everyone in. Team Johnny is able to isolate on Booker, who may be showing a bit of ring rust. After several minutes Henry hits Booker with the World’s Strongest Slam. Khali comes in illegally and the match starts breaking down with everyone ignoring the tag rules and just doing what they want. Most of Team Johnny gets knocked to the floor and Ryder, Truth, and Kingston wipe them out with simultaneous dives. Aksana and Vickie get into a brawl and the Bellas break them up. Meanwhile Booker and Miz are in the ring and finally Santino gets the hot tag! Santino is a house afire and the Cobra makes an appearance! He hits Miz with the Cobra but Ziggler breaks up the pin at the very last second. Ryder tags in and hits Ziggler with the Rough Ryder. He sets Miz up for the Broski Boot and Eve gets in the ring for some reason to play cheerleader. The distraction allows Miz to hit the Skull Crushing Finale to get the pin at 10:37. After the match Eve kicks Ryder in the balls, just to really make him look like a pussy. Seriously, what is the deal with Ryder? The match was okay, a fine chaotic tag match to get everyone on the show, but the treatment of Ryder is baffling.
MATCH #7: WWE Championship Match – CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho
Punk has been the Champion since 11.20.11, and this is his sixth defense. Backstage before the entrances, John Laurinaitis tells Punk that if he gets disqualified he’ll lose the title. They start with some chain wrestling and quickly take it to the mat. Punk takes the first advantage so Jericho slaps him in the face to try and rile him up and get him disqualified. Jericho slaps him some more and is practically daring Punk to do something foolish. Punk goes up top and Jericho rolls to the floor so Punk follows him out with a clothesline. Jericho continues to taunt Punk about his family and Punk grabs a chair and Jericho encourages Punk to hit him with it. Punk shows restraint but Jericho is able to hit a dropkick off the second rope. The fight spills to the apron and Jericho clotheslines Punk back inside. Jericho picks Punk up and suplexes him all the way to the floor. Back in the ring Jericho covers for two. Jericho continues working Punk over, focusing on his back. Punk fights back with a flurry of offense, including a swinging neckbreaker for two. He hits the running knee in the corner and goes for the bulldog but Jericho counters. After a series of reversals Punk drills Jericho in the head with a knockout kick for two. Punk slams Jericho and goes up top for Hail to the King but Jericho gets his knees up. Jericho hits the Codebreaker and Punk rolls to the floor. Back in the ring Punk hits the Go to Sleep! Punk covers and Jericho gets his foot on the bottom rope. The Champ hits a snap powerslam for another two-count. A series of counters ends in Jericho dropping Punk across the top rope and then hitting the Lionsault for two. Jericho goes up top and Punk joins him to try a super rana but Jericho counters into the Walls of Jericho! Punk gets to the ropes. Jericho charges in and Punk backdrops him to the floor. Punk follows Jericho out with a suicide dive. He then hits Jericho with the running knee and Jericho’s head slams back into the ring post! Back in the ring Punk goes fro a springboard clothesline but Jericho catches him in the Codebreaker! That only gets two. Jericho talks trash and Punk tries Go to Sleep but Jericho avoids it. Y2J then goes up top and Jericho kicks him down. Punk pulls Jericho down into Go to Sleep but Jericho counters to the Walls of Jericho! That turns into a series of reversals and Punk locks on the Anaconda Vise Jericho gets out of it but Punk locks it back in and Jericho taps out at 22:20! What a fantastic wrestling match from two of the best of their eras. The opening minutes of Jericho trying to get Punk disqualified was great, and the strategy he showed after that working on the back was sound. They both displayed tremendous counters and the near-falls, and the crowd was hot.
MATCH #8: Once in a Lifetime – The Rock vs. John Cena
The crowd reaction at the bell is amazing. They love Rock and they despise Cena. The two warriors lock up and Cena throws Rock down. They chain wrestle a bit and Rock scores some armdrags and a La Magistral cradle for two. Cena looks surprised by that. He’s able to come back and ground Rock with a headlock. Rock powers out of it and tries a back body drop but Cena kicks him, and Rock responds with a hard right hand. Cena charges in and Rock takes him down for a Sharpshooter attempt and Cena powders. Back in the ring Cena forces Rock into the corner and delivers shoulderblocks. Cena hits a hard clothesline for two and then continues to work the midsection. Rock charges and Cena pulls down the top rope, sending Rock to the floor. Cena drops Rock down on the barricade, and then on the announce table. Back in the ring Cena covers for two. Cena continues focusing on the ribs, which should help take Rock’s wind away, which is smart given Rock has barely been in the ring in a very long time. Rock fights back with a hard DDT for two. They trade some strikes and Rock comes out on the better end of it. Rock hits a spinebuster and Rock appears to be going for the People’s Elbow. Cena picks the ankle and goes for the STF but Rock avoids it. Even so Cena unloads a flurry and hits the Protoplex. Cena hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle. He goes for the Attitude Adjustment but Rock slips out and they clothesline each other. Back on their feet both men trade bombs and Rock appears to win the battle and tells Cena he can’t see him, but Cena hits an Attitude Adjustment! That only gets two. Rock responds with a Rock Bottom but Cena kicks out! Cena comes back with a side suplex for two. He goes up top and hits the Cena Slice (hard) for another near-fall. Rock gets up and hits a Spear and locks on the Sharpshooter! Cena reaches the ropes. Rock puts the Sharpshooter back on and Cena reaches the ropes again. They go to the floor and Rock throws Cena into the steps. Back in the ring Cena executes a sunset flip and then turns it into the STF! Rock refuses to quit! He makes the ropes to break the hold. Rock hits a Samoan Drop to buy himself some time. Both men rise and trade shots again. Rock hits a spinebuster and the People’s Elbow! Cena kicks out! He then grabs a quick inside cradle for two. They rise to their feet and Cena catapults Rock into the top turnbuckle. Cena gets a schoolboy rollup for two. He puts Rock up on the top rope and Rock shoves him down. Rock goes up and hits a cross body block but Cena rolls through and throws Rock up on his shoulders to hit the Attitude Adjustment! Amazingly Rock kicks out. Cena gets cocky and goes for the People’s Elbow but Rock pops up and hits the Rock Bottom to score the pin at 30:34! People like to dump on these two, but I really liked this match. It was reminiscent of Cena and Batista, except with a much bigger star in place of Batista. Rock went half an hour and didn’t look that winded, and I didn’t feel like the match was long. Cena essentially beat himself by being too confident – he thought Rock would be rusty and Rock proved him wrong. The crowd helped give this an epic feel, a fitting main event for the biggest show of the year.