SANTA CLARA, Calif.—Fans from all 50 states and 40 countries helped make up the record 76,976 that packed Levi’s Stadium for WWE’s WrestleMania 31 on Sunday, March 29.
Those in attendance were treated to a night of firsts, unexpected surprises and shocking moments worthy of sports entertainment’s Super Bowl.
The grand spectacle was headlined by WWE World champion Brock Lesnar defending against Roman Reigns, or so we thought. Seth Rollins waited for when a bloody Lesnar and Reigns were most vulnerable, and he cashed in his Money in the Bank title shot. That made the match a triple threat encounter, and the fresh Rollins pinned his former Shield brethren Reigns to win the gold for the first time.
Rollins appeared after Lesnar and Reigns hit each other with their finishers multiple times, and Lesnar’s head busted open and Reigns mouth bleeding. Paul Heyman, who introduced himself and his client as only he can, was ringside.
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Earlier in the show, Rollins lost to Randy Orton, who delivered an RKO out of nowhere in midair after an attempted Curbstomp. This was a prime example of Rollins’ athletic ability. J&J Security (Jamie Noble and Joey Mercury) tried to help Rollins but were eliminated by the Viper. The near-falls in the contest brought fans to their feet.
The Rock made a surprise appearance, interrupting Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. His “Fast & Furious 7” co-star and UFC women’s champ Ronda Rousey was brought to the ring by the “People’s Champion.” This led to Rousey getting rowdy on McMahon. It’s the most cross-promotion ever seen from UFC and WWE. The Rock and Rousey were standing tall together, maybe hinting to a future showdown against the Authority? Yes, please.
The Undertaker returned for the first time since Lesnar ended his undefeated streak at WrestleMania 30 last year to defeat Bray Wyatt. The “Dead Man” proved age is just a number, looking in tremendous physical condition for 50. Wyatt looked strong against Undertaker and proved main event caliber.
Sting stepped foot in a WWE ring for the first time in a losing effort against Triple H. The popular performer stood in tremendous shape against “The Game.” Even in defeat, he finally got his WrestleMania moment.
The match was a trip down memory lane, as run-ins came from D-Generation X (Billy Gunn, Road Dogg, X-Pac and Shawn Michaels) and the nWo (Hollywood Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall). It was a moment many will never forget. The two icons also had entrances of epic proportions. Sting brought out by a group of musicians in his trademark face paint. Triple H followed with a Terminator inspired walk down the aisle, complete with his own cyborgs and WWE Hall of Famer Arnold Schwarzenegger on the big screen.
Rusev’s undefeated streak came to an end at the hands of John Cena, who won the United States championship once again. A miscue knocked Lana to the floor, leading to a Cena Attitude Adjustment. Before the loss, Rusev arrived on a tank with cannons firing. Lana walked to the ring followed by men in uniform and the Russian flag.
The first Intercontinental champion Pat Patterson was introduced to the crowd. This followed with a ladder match for the same title, won for the first time by Daniel Bryan. YestleMania ran wild once again for the second consecutive year.
Former title holder Wade Barrett, Dean Ambrose, Luke Harper, R-Truth, Dolph Ziggler and Stardust also sacrificed to deliver a show-stealing performance. Bryan knocked Ziggler off the ladder to claim the gold after a battle of headbutts between the two. At one point Stardust, who went all out with his costume, brought out his own bedazzled ladder, which was destroyed by Barrett. Ambrose was powerbombed from the outside through a ladder. Just one of the big moves to happen during an opener that set the tone for the evening.
During a celebratory interview backstage with the new IC champ, conducted by Maria Menounos, former IC champs Pat Patterson, Ricky the Dragon Steamboat, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bret The Hitman Hart, and Ric Flair congratulated Bryan. They all started chanting, “Yes,” until Ron Simmons appeared, wearing his customary dark T-shirt, and he said...wait for it...wait for it... “Damn.” They then continued with the “Yes” chants.
AJ Lee and Paige defeated the Bella Twins (Nikki and Brie). The ending came when Lee made diva’s champion Nikki tap out to the Black Widow.
Pre-show, The Big Show won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal by eliminating Damien Mizdow. Interestingly enough, Show was billed as Andre’s son when he made his pro wrestling debut almost 20 years ago. He is not.
After months of dissension, Mizdow finally stood up to The Miz. Earlier, Curtis Axel was given a quick exit by many of the participants. AxelMania may have only ran wild briefly, but let it be known Axel is still in the 2015 Royal Rumble. NXT’s Hideo Itami won his way into the match after winning a tournament during WrestleMania Axxess. The emerging Japanese performer did well before being eliminated by Show.
Also pre-show, Tyson Kidd and Cesaro with Natalya made a statement kicking off the action at the event by successfully defending the tag titles against the New Day (Kofi Kingston and Big E) and the Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) with El Torito. The action packed bout also saw interference from New Day’s Xavier Woods. A highlight saw a WrestleMania sized tower of doom superplex in the corner. Natalya putting El Torito in the Sharpshooter was also a moment.
Entertainer Aloe Blacc sang “America the Beautiful” before the official card got underway. Rapper and actor LL Cool J narrated the beginning video package. UFC’s Ronda Rousey, sports TV host Michelle Beadle and record producer Rick Rubin were among the stars attending.
The four-hour show saw a musical performance by Skylar Grey, Kid Ink and Travis Barker. Maria Menounos lent a hand with backstage interviews.
WrestleMania 32 emanates from AT&T Stadium in April 3, 2016 in Arlington, Texas. The bar has been raised.
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