Wrestlemania XXVIII Review – Veterans Night

James Giles
@jamesgiles84

This post below originally appeared on James’ Mr. Wrestling V blog. The original post is here.

Congratulations are due to WWE for putting on a very entertaining Wrestlemania – it provided plenty of quality action and mercifully few comedy/back-stage skits, at least one match-of-the-year contender and a main event that had the aura of a classic ‘Mania moment. Holding the attention well, despite hitting off on a frustrating note, WM XXVIII deserves praise for being an engaging super-show throughout its 3.5hr running time; and whilst probably not cracking the Top 5 ever, it is certainly re-watchable and the most consistently enjoyable in years.

The above being said though, some of the match results left concern for what WWE has prepared for the post-Wrestlemania season; the highest viewed event of the year should be the perfect platform to advance upcoming talent and get the fans excited about something fresh after ‘Mania burnout, yet the two main-event bouts pushed the hardest featured four well-established veterans, 3 of whom aren’t even full-time wrestling performers. And other long-serving stars took victory in their matches too.

So did WWE manage to elevate anyone to fill the void that will be left by Undertaker, HHH, HBK and The Rock, and how will the other match results affect what happens over the Spring-Summer season?

To help answer this, I will be taking a look at each match, see who were the winners and losers, and how could things move forward.

Sheamus Vs Daniel Bryan – World Heavyweight Championship

The frustrating start I referred to earlier, there isn’t much to say about this match as it only lasted 18 seconds – Bryan, too busy kissing AJ to concentrate at the start, was caught off guard with the Brogue Kick and pinned in the bat of eyelid.  Bryan sold the indignant shock well.

Winner(s) – Sheamus, whose win the crowd popped for, in theory but…

Loser(s) – …being denied the opportunity to show off their abilities, no casual fan (who are viewing in their highest numbers at WM) would have come away which much impression of either, so they’ve both lost out somewhat. And Bryan, who had been presented as getting by on luck so far, should have been allowed to look competitive before losing, to build interest in their rematch.

Going Forward – Bryan needs a new aggressive streak, fuelled by his embarrassing loss, and push Sheamus to his limits in a rematch at Extreme Rules. Sheamus would be better established as champ, and Bryan status a believable threat would be enhanced.

Kane Vs Randy Orton

They kept a good pace as the control went back and forth, and the audience seemed to appreciate seeing some actual action. Orton drop-kicking Kane mid-leap and Kane turning a punt attempt into a choke-slam were both good spots. Kane takes the win with a choke-slam from the middle rope, to not much reaction sadly.

Winner(s) – Kane, who needed the win really, coming off his destruction by Cena.

Loser(s) – It’s just a shame that it was Orton who he had to go over. Orton is younger, has more left to offer WWE, and therefore needs big wins on the big shows to build him up.

Going Forward – Hard to say; Kane’s win seemed pretty definitive, with Orton not getting any post match comeback. Presumably, this was just to fill time for both men and it will quietly be forgotten about as they move onto to new feuds.

Big Show Vs Cody Rhodes, Intercontinental Championship 

Not a bad match at all, this was a perfectly respectable piece of card filler. The crowd seemed to be behind Show, and his victory achieved a decent pop.

Winner(s) – Big Show obviously, in the short term, but I don’t know why they’d keep the title on him for any length of time.

Loser(s) – Rhodes, who is up-and-coming, could have done with high profile win on the year’s biggest show. He hadn’t really done much noteworthy in his very long title reign though, so not sure how much difference it will make in the long run.

Going Forward – A win in a rematch at Extreme Rules could theoretically help build Rhodes back up, but where would he go from there? If one of them should carry on as champion though, it should be Rhodes.

Divas Tag Team Match 

Thankfully short, with no major blown spots, this was ultimately inoffensive. Not following WWE as closely on TV as I used to, I didn’t recognise any of them, which felt a bit odd.

Winner(s) – Maria what’s-her-name, who did a adequate job in what I assume was her first match.

Loser(s) – Everyone else. WWE could be more ambivalent in their approach to the Diva’s, so the crowd didn’t give a toss either. Coming off worse was probably Beth Phoenix, who as champ, shouldn’t really have been the one getting pinned by the celeb.

Going forward – Who knows, or cares? It’s no disrespect to the women themselves, who do the best with what their allotted, but WWE for just not being arsed.

The Undertaker Vs HHH, Hell in a Cell (special referee – HBK) 

Really an excellent bout, and the best of their Wrestlemania series, by far. Not necessarily because of the action itself, but the way it was conveyed; all three men are superb storytellers, and in terms of psychology and selling, it outstripped anything else on the card. Gripping from start to finish, the crowd was completely into it as well; they went wild for many of the brilliantly timed near-falls and chanted “this is awesome”. Looking back, this will be more fondly remember than the Rock Vs Cena.

Winner(s) – All three men, who will all be sorely missed in the post-Wrestlemania. Shawn Michaels amazing mannerisms and selling enhanced the match in a way I hadn’t expected beforehand. Hopefully it was a last hurrah for them too, so future ‘Manias stand to be less veteran-heavy.

Loser(s) – Everyone else whose match got trimmed (or relegated pre-show) to make leave enough time for them on the show. Takers entrance was longer than some bouts. It was also pushed way harder on TV than two World Title matches, which sort of doesn’t make sense when you think about it in the long term.

Going forward – Back to enjoying his retirement for Michaels, and presumably some sort of on-screen role for HHH. For the streak, all that is left is Lesnar; the only credible opponent for the Deadman now, I actually think Taker should job to Lesnar at WM29. It would be a great way for Undertaker to bow out by putting Lesnar over as the next biggest star of this generation – if Brock is built up sufficiently as a monster heel, people would buy it too. It could be the passing of the torch Rock Vs Cena should have been.

Team Johnny Vs Team Teddy 

Good, action packed match, in which all involved worked hard to keep the entertaining spots coming before a slightly quick finish; it could have used another 5 minutes to build some more tension, as there was a lot at stake in the outcome, something which also seemed weirdly under-played.

Winner(s) – Everyone really, especially Laurinitis, who now has an even bigger role of the sole man in charge.

Loser(s) – Only Teddy Long, but his character had become unbelievably stale anyway.

Going forward – Laurinitis running both shows has created a large amount of fresh scenarios, especially with the Smackdown crew.

C.M. Punk Vs Chris Jericho, WWE Championship match 

The best match in terms of wrestling action, they did very well in the story as well to keep people guessing who would win. I was in doubt until the fall, which is always fun. Given the calibre of both men though, and the constant bragging to that effect, did make it feel like a tiny disappointment, but to be fair they have to save stuff for the rematch.

Winner(s) – Both men as it was so closely fought, but the clean tap-out win was the right way to enhance Punk, who feels on the cusp of being massive.

Loser(s) – None here.

Going forward – At least one re-match is essential, and Jericho could be saved any real damage if Punk wins again in some sort of gimmick match. He could well be leaving to tour again soon, and Punk is the future of WWE.

The Rock Vs John Cena

Decent enough in terms of action, but it was all about the atmosphere, which was electric. It’s my belief this was more down to The Rock being on the show, in front of his home town crowd, rather than people actually buying into it being a battle of the icons though. This could have been pulled around, if Cena had gone over and The Rock shaken his hand afterwards, and the torch was metaphorically passed. However, WWE knew The Rock was the main reason for the huge audience (and live gate), so he had to go over on the night.

Winner(s) – The Rock, who looked like the biggest wrestling star in the world, before leaving to resume his career as one of the biggest box-office draws in the world.

Loser(s) – Cena, who despite my prediction to the otherwise, should have gone over, especially considering he has now entered into a feud with the newly returned Lesnar. Instead, he was left lying on his back at Wrestlemania, the most watched PPV of the year, and the next night on RAW.

Going forward – Cena can’t win this feud with Lesnar, as WWE is bound to have big plans for Brock. Hopefully they are planning on giving Cena some time off – he is over-exposed, and if he was destroyed and (story-line) injured by Lesnar, he could come back and do the vengeance story, and be re-built in the long term.

Overall, it was a very watchable show for entertaining wrestling action, but so much more could have been done to create some future superstars. Only Punk came away with more momentum, and alongside Lesnar, should do much to fill the space left by Taker/HBK/The Rock. Add that to Laurinitis taking over both shows, the post-‘Mania season should be very interesting, but not in exactly the ways I’d imagined before the show. Such is the way things often unfold in WWE.

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