Wednesday, March 27, 2024

The History of WWE WrestleMania: XXVIII

Another potentially great WrestleMania ruined by stupidity....

SunLife Stadium - 4/1/12

And here's Part 2 of WWE's slap in the face to Daniel Bryan and Sheamus fans of all ages....

'Mania 28 was a good show.  I daresay it was a very good show.  And it was also one of the more disappointing 'Manias because it could and should have been a truly great show.  It was one match away from achieving greatness.  One match away from four of the eight matches on the card being heralded as classics.  I'll give you three guesses which match I'm referring to.  Go on, think about it, I can wait.....

Imagine my relief when the opening bell rang and the ring announcer declared, "The opening contest is for the World Heavyweight Championship."  Fantastic!  Daniel Bryan and Sheamus got screwed last year, but WWE is making amends by giving them a second chance to fight at WrestleMania, and for the World Title no less!  This is gonna be a great match and I don't even care that it's on first!  My excitement would last eighteen seconds.  One Brogue Kick later, I found myself in the exact same state of unbridled rage as I had a year earlier.  So Sheamus and Daniel Bryan were cheated out of a WrestleMania moment not once, but TWICE.  I just wish I could've been in on the creative meeting where the "18 seconds" decision was made.  I just want to hear the logic that was used to rationalize this booking.  Just a few points for Vince and his creative team:

1. Whether you realize it or not, both Sheamus and Daniel Bryan are very over with a good portion of the audience and those people are really looking forward to this match, especially since they didn't get it last year.  Making this a one-move match will really piss those people off and you'll already have lost them for the rest of the show (which is how I reacted - I seriously didn't care about the rest of the show until Match #7).

2. How do you expect Sheamus to get over as a top-flight babyface when he just won the World Title by essentially sucker-punching his heel opponent?  In what universe is that a good way for a babyface to get over?

3. How much does it cheapen the second most important Title in the company to have it change hands in an 18-second opening contest?

4. Why would you ever charge your audience $70 a pop for an event and then intentionally not deliver on one of the top four advertised matches?  What did you think was going to happen?

Stupidest decision ever made by human beings.

Anyway you all know the rest, the fans were highly pissed and all but ruined the second match, Randy Orton vs. Kane (which was actually a pretty good contest) by chanting "Daniel Bryan" for the next 20 minutes.  Thus began the trend of live crowds hijacking WWE shows in support of Mr. Bryan.  Obviously in hindsight this little 18-second incident helped catapult Bryan to where he is today, but so would an amazing 15-minute war where Sheamus just barely eked out a win (which would've gotten Sheamus over as well).

Bad decision #2 was next, as Intercontinental Champion Cody Rhodes, who was in the middle of a great run and hoped to break the Honky Tonk Man's 15-month record, lost to The Big Show in a five-minute throwaway bout (Rhodes would win the title back four weeks later, making this title change pointless).

Bad decision #3 followed as celebrity guest (God I'm tired of those) Maria Menounos teamed with Kelly Kelly to face Divas Champion Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres.  After an okay four-minute women's match, Beth got pinned by Maria.  I'd like to repeat that: the physically gifted and imposing Divas Champion, accomplished pro wrestler Beth Phoenix got pinned by Access Hollywood co-host Maria Menounos.  See what I mean about celebrity guests making the business look stupid?
The show finally took an upward turn after this, as The Undertaker and Triple H put on an epic, drama-filled Hell in a Cell match, with Shawn Michaels as the guest referee.  The buildup to this match was very well done, with Shawn repeatedly trying to talk Hunter out of facing Taker again and Hunter insisting Shawn call the match down the middle.  The match itself was a notch above their 'Mania 27 bout and all three men turned in excellent dramatic performances.  I will say however that the Cell didn't come into play very much, and while I did enjoy this match, calling it the 2012 Match of the Year as so many have done is actually comical.  It wasn't even the best match on the card.

In the sixth slot was the annual "we need to get all these guys on the card somehow" match, pitting six good guys of Teddy Long's choosing vs. six heels of John Laurinaitis's choosing, for control of both brands.  Kinda pointless, but it was a decent little match.

Best Match of the Night honors went to the WWE Title match - CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho.  This was one helluva contest, with some nice drama at the beginning (Punk would lose the Title if he got DQ'd, so Jericho repeatedly taunted him about his family issues to try and provoke a DQ), escalating into spectacular counter-wrestling and multiple finishers into reversals into finishers.  Really great match that to this day doesn't get enough credit.

Dude, I don't care what anyone says, this was the best match at 'Mania 28.

And in the main event was the match set up by the previous year's WrestleMania, The Rock vs. John Cena.  It was fine for what it was, a WWE-style money main event match.  I think this match got too much credit as it's basically a 3-star affair with some very sloppy-looking submission holds from both guys, and it went about eight minutes too long.  There was no reason for this match to be 32 minutes.  But it was a solid 'Mania main event so I won't critique it too harshly (the rematch is a different story).  I will say given the story leading up to the match (Cena needing to beat Rock to prove that Dwayne was wrong to walk away for years and think he can just come waltz in and be the top guy again), Cena absolutely should've won here.  This was one of the few times I've ever rooted for John Cena.

To recap, WrestleMania XXVIII could've gone down as an all-time Top 5 'Mania card, had WWE not decided to get cute with the Sheamus-Bryan debacle.  There were three very good uppercard bouts and a couple of good midcard ones, with the bad matches kept very short.  But the opening 18-second swerve put a damper on the first hour-plus of the event and completely broke up the flow.  Sheamus-Bryan should've been a great opening match that set the bar for the whole night, but they weren't given the opportunity, for the second year in a row.

Best Match: CM Punk vs. Chris Jericho.  Yes it was, go watch it again.
Worst Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Sheamus - One of the stupidest things WWE has ever done.  EVER.
What I'd Change: Isn't it obvious?  Give Sheamus-Bryan a solid 15 minutes to wow the audience, cut Taker-HHH down by five minutes, and cut Rock-Cena down by about eight.
Most Disappointing Match: Do you really need to ask?
Most Pleasant Surprise: That I didn't immediately throw all my guests out of my house after the first match.
Overall Rating: 7.5/10

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