WWE Wrestlemania 30 DVD Review
By Ben Spindler
Posted On 02-07-2014 16:38 GMT
Tags: WWE, Wrestlemania, Daniel Bryan, Undertaker, Brock Lesnar




WWE and the wrestlers who work for them are under intense pressure and scrutiny during the build-up and execution of Wrestlemania each year, and from all angles. Fans demand that not only do WWE fill the card with exciting matches and major stars, but that they also do so using wrestlers that they personally like (forgetting that everybody likes something different) and with just the right quota of part-time stars (not too many- but not none either- after all, hands up who wants to see John Cena versus Randy Orton again!?) It’s an almost impossible position to be in- and that’s before you factor in the business pressures that play on WWE during Wrestlemania season.

As the biggest money event on their calendar, by a very big margin, WWE have to deliver big time financially at Wrestlemania too. Their shareholders demand it, which makes the annual temptation to bring in a former major player like The Rock, Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan, Sting or whoever back to offer an extra little something to the commercial attraction of the event that much greater. Essentially the expectation now is that the show will garner at least a million pay-per-view buys (or the equivalent of, now that the WWE Network is in full swing), if short-termism is the way to do that, then that is what has to happen.

So credit should go to WWE for the show that they put on back in early April this year for what was the 30th edition of what is essentially the centre of the wrestling year. Not only did WWE use a number of part time stars (Brock Lesnar, Undertaker, Triple H and Batista) but they did so whilst ensuring that the future was highlighted as much as possible- Daniel Bryan ended the night as the man celebrating, and atop the WWE mountain, Cesaro, Roman Reigns and Bray Wyatt were all spotlighted in big ways. The legacy of Wrestlemania 30 will not be fully known until we know what happens for the next 5 years, but right now it appears to have the potential to be the most important Wrestlemania for the future of the business since Batista and Cena’s elevation at Wrestlemania 21.

It all kicked off with the triangular dynamic between the 3 biggest stars in the history of wrestling- Hulk Hogan, Steve Austin and The Rock. Whilst ordinarily, starting the show off with nearly 30 minutes of non-wrestling would raise the heckles of fans everywhere, nobody was going to complain about the bonus of the surprise of Rock and Austin joining Wrestlemania host in the ring for a rip-roaring prologue. In truth, the 3 men did little other than run through their catchphrases and pay sparkling eulogies to each other, but that really didn’t matter, what mattered was that this was the symbolic handing of the reigns from the past to the future, a future which over the course of the night was highlighted as well as could be hoped for.

After the big star merriment and at times, slightly over the top back slapping, it was time for the serious business to begin, and my oh-my-what a way to do it, with the blistering and heated confrontation between Triple H and Daniel Bryan. Whatever anyone thinks of the way WWE booked Bryan for the previous 9 months, it eventually did payoff in a big way here, but then few people expected anything else from Bryan who was brilliant all night. That’s not to take anything away from Triple H, who exhibited perfectly here how, rather than spend his time playing at being Mr McMahon part 2, his real strength can be in getting younger talent over in occasional big money matches.

Given how much WWE had been doing to get Roman Reigns and his stable mates in The Shield over during the first quarter of 2014, it was slightly strange to see them in such a throwaway contest as their match with Kane and The New Age Outlaws at Wrestlemania 30. Having said that, this didn’t diminish their momentum whatsoever, got them over on the biggest stage of the year, and served its purpose as filler on the show itself. This was followed by the Battle Royal, which in typical Battle Royal style was messy and uncoordinated until the final stages. Still, even when it looked as though this might be a low point of the show, it redeemed itself when Cesaro lifted up Big Show for a big slam over the top rope to win the bout. So far, so good.

Then came the match between John Cena and Bray Wyatt, which whilst a good contest, didn’t live up to many people’s hopes. One of the criticisms levelled against the match was that Cena went over the upwardly mobile Wyatt however, such criticisms in my view are unfair for two reasons, firstly, putting Wyatt over at Wrestlemania was unlikely to be memorable given what was still to come on the show, and secondly, Bray Wyatt was hardly in the position of a young guy being held down- he was only promoted to the main roster 10 months previous, and here he was competing in one of the big matches at Wrestlemania- Wyatt simply being in the match was enough for now.

Then came the big shock of the night- nobody could have expected that Brock Lesnar would be the man to defeat Undertaker and end The Steak. Only days before the show I was discussing how unlikely it would be for Lesnar to win to a non-wrestling fan, inspired by the fact that bookies had the Undertaker at a 1-1000 on to win (for non-gamblers: bet £1000 win £1). The absolute atmosphere of disbelief when the referee counted 3 after Lesnar’s 3rd F5 has been captured in all of its glory by a thousand memes since, but whilst the idea of people being so astounded by a result in a pre-determined sport seems faintly ridiculous in the cold light of day, at the time, nothing could have been more important.

The match itself of course is not a patch on ‘taker’s previous outings against Edge, Batista, Shawn Michaels , Triple  H and CM Punk, due mainly to a concussion that he suffered early in the match, the result alone will ensure that it lives long in the memory of every wrestling fan around the world. On the subject of the result, many were unhappy that The Streak should be chosen to be ended by Brock Lesnar, a man already firmly established as a main event star, and a part timer no less. The truth is that the value of Lesnar’s victory is not yet known, and will become more apparent following next year’s Wrestlemania.

Between The Streak ending and the main event, the Divas were thrown out in front of an arena full of people still reeling from the shock of seeing The Undertaker’s shoulders pinned to the mat at Wrestlemania. Given the circumstances they were given, and the stipulation of the match being a 14-divas, one fall to a finish contest, the women did their best, but ultimately nobody cared following the previous match, and what little interest they did manage to get was nullified by the booking of the match. Which leads us nicely to the main event, triple threat match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

Here WWE delivered the goods as hoped- a great match with some seriously dramatic false finishes and a popular victory for the super-over Daniel Bryan. Not only that, but Bryan got to take out Triple H one more time, and was, unlike at Summer Slam last year, finally able to celebrate in style. There have been few times in WWE’s history where they have put a wrestler over as strong as they did Daniel Bryan at this year’s event- he overcame the three biggest heels on the same night and did so at the biggest night in the year- whilst things haven’t gone so well since then, that story is for another day- WWE did everything they could do to make Bryan the biggest star in the sport when it really mattered.

Wrestlemania 30 didn’t deliver wall-to-wall excellence, there were 3 mediocre bouts on a 7 match card, Cena vs. Wyatt was underwhelming and Undertaker vs. Brock Lesnar was well below what was expected for an Undertaker match, but the moments are what make Wrestlemania, and this one had at least 3 giant moments- those being the opening surprise of The Rock and Austin’s appearances, the end of The Streak and the show closing Daniel Bryan victory. That’s before you factor in the fact that Daniel Bryan’s two matches were both of the highest quality and took up an hour of the show on their own. Whilst not in the very top echelon of Wrestlemanias 17 and 19, it will still go down as one of the all-time great shows in the event’s history. A must for any wrestling fan.

Rating: 4 out of 5


Tags: WWE, Wrestlemania, Daniel Bryan, Undertaker, Brock Lesnar



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