The Hart Grapevine: WWE WrestleMania XXX Reaction



smith-hart-2

As usual, I offer my review of Wrestlemania (XXX), which was a culmination of an era and the birth of a new one. For the first time in 30 years I believe this Wrestlemania did in fact exceed its hype. With the Superdome in full production mode and with a decadent set worthy of the combatants on deck, Wrestlemania exploded with fury.

Unfortunately for us Canadians, the pre-show was not available in Canada as we do not yet have the ability to subscribe to the network(by any legal means) thus were unable to see the 4-way tag match which culminated in the final split between the Real Americans. Although, from what I heard of the pre-show, it might have rather skewed my view to what otherwise was an exemplary event.

As the pyrotechnics subsided the 75000+ were ignited immediately with the sounds of Hulk Hogan entering the Silverdome….ugh I mean Superdome. As Hulk stumbled to remember where he was, the crowd exploded as the glass shattered and the faithful were finally treated to the very first Hulk Hogan-Steve Austin face-to-face “showdown”. Despite fan’s hopeful anticipation of a good ole fashioned ass-whuppin’, the mood immediately shifted as Stone Cold Steve Austin engaged the audience in some jubilant laughter and a respective retrospect of the Immortal Hulk Hogan’s Wrestlemania legacy. As the two blew smoke up each other’s asses, the audience busted out of their seats as The Rock entered the Superdome and cut a promo for the ages proving once and for all, even amongst the Mount Rushmore of WWE, The Rock stood supreme. As the three greatest icons in history held court in the ring, not only were we treated to a WM moment, I would argue we were treated to the single greatest opening in the history of the grandest event in Sports Entertainment.

As I expected, Daniel Bryan and Triple H initiated the event. I would say that in terms of spectacle, Hunter`s Game of Thrones-influenced promenade was the top entrance of the evening, even eclipsing that of The Undertaker. This match was perhaps the best match to start the evening as it set a great pace without overshadowing anything later to come. Furthermore, Hunter did an amazing job creating “heat” on Daniel Bryan to give the fans the appropriate emotional reactions as to whether or not their faithful hero would in fact move on to the main event that evening.

That match was followed by a quick squash match as The Shield soundly defeated The New Age Outlaws and Kane. For those worried about the new guys getting ahead, I think between The Shield, Bryan & Cesaro, this event proved WWE has a strong commitment to establishing a new generation of superstars. Although this match was short and to the point, it gave great nostalgia as the last remnants of the attitude era carved a path for the future of our business on the grandest stage.

This was followed up with a somewhat ridiculous backstage segment that featured Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Danny Davis, Ricky Steamboat and Ron Simmons. My first instinct was that I don’t ever remember Steamboat being that ‘hokey’ during his in ring career, not even in the cartoon 80`s WWF. However, I give this a pass as in business, product placement is essential and it is always a treat to see the legends of the past get some air time and a paycheque. My critique of this is that I think this segment of promotion would have been better served with the comical chase of Hornswoggle and El Torito that inappropriately interrupted the Hall of Fame ceremony the night prior.

The first ever “Andre the Giant Battle Royal” was up next and did it ever deliver a Wrestlemania calibre moment. Arguably this is perhaps the best Battle Royal (not including Royal Rumble matches) I have seen in more than 25 years. Every wrestler shone. Every elimination was highlighted and treated with importance. The lowest on the proverbial totem pole were eliminated first while the heavy favorites were weeded out at just the right time and although for myself who knew Andre personally, I anticipated a victory by the Big Show to have his defining Mania moment right then and there, I was in shock and awe alongside the 75000 in attendance and the millions watching at home as The Swiss Superman proved to the world why he is the next big superstar in wrestling as he not only lifted 500+lbs Big Show for a bodyslam but held him and threw him over the top rope. I anticipate big things to come for Antonio Cesaro. With the road he is on, I expect a Money in the Bank victory a potential run with a major title and hopefully soon enough a push to possibly be main eventing Wrestlemania himself within the next few years.

Up next was the much-anticipated Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena contest. The Internet wrestling community may condemn this match for all the wrong reasons, but I think history will appreciate this bout as one of John Cena’s finest matches. I thought Pat Patterson might have a hand in booking this match as Bray sat on his knees in the ring yelling “finish me!” at John Cena. Despite that, I felt that this match defined Cena’s role in today’s WWE as the top icon who is now passing the torch. And even though Cena picked up the victory a definitive shift could easily be seen in his presence and character just like we saw with my brother, Bret, in his match with Steve Austin at Wrestlemania XIII. I think the biggest downfall to this match was its place on the card as the crowd seemed to have elevated expectations after Cesaro’s incredible WM moment. Had this match come before the Battle Royal I think it would have been much better received. However, in time, I feel this match will get the respect it deserves as the match that helped establish Bray Wyatt as a top talent in the WWE much like Austin’s match against Bret did at WM 13.

We then moved on to the celebration of our Hall of Fame class of 2014. 24 hours removed from the sudden and tragic end to the Warrior I cant help feel that his induction this year was a gift from God to everyone who was ever an Ultimate Warrior fan as well as a gift to his beautiful family. Those I have spoken with agreed that Warrior did not look particularly healthy all weekend, yet despite living life to its absolute fullest we are certainly saddened by the void his demise brings us. For those keeping score on my November Hall of Fame picks I ended up 60% accurate. I guessed correct with Warrior, Jake Roberts, Paul Bearer and Mr. T. I was 2 years late in my pick for Carlos Colon as I had picked him as a candidate in Miami in 2012. However, I was shocked to see Scott Hall and Lita inducted. (Moreso Lita as she is definitely too young in my humble opinion with far too little impact on the business as a whole.) But hey it’s the Big Easy and I guess WWE wanted easy. Congratulations, though, to those inductees and their families as I can share my experience in the Hall of Fame as one of the greatest moments of my life and career.

Undertaker and Brock Lesnar may have been the most controversial match in the entire history of Vince McMahon-run WWE. The crowd sat in stunned silence as they over-anticipated another victory in the Undertakers 21 victories and counting streak. However, I argue that this may in fact be the moment in WWE’s history where the past met the future. It is only after we are able to let go of the past that we can embrace the future. Clearly, ‘Taker had his last hurrah. As I watched this match a second time you can clearly see the moment where Taker lost control of his senses. Despite a less than spectacular finish to an otherwise mostly decent match, the impetus of this event will always be the night the Undertaker lost. I am reminded of the impact Bruno Sammartino’s title defeat at the hands of Ivan Koloff left with MSG fans in 1971. To those who disagree with the outcome of this match – based on Brock’s current status – It should be emphasized that the former UFC champion is easily the most genetically-gifted athlete in WWE history and had probably been personally hand-picked by The Undertaker himself as the best opponent possible. Moments like this define a generation.

Our final segment of the evening was a throwback 30 years to the main event of Wrestlemania 1, as Hulk Hogan and Mr. T came face-to-face with Paul Orndorff and my dear cousin, Roddy Piper. This was the encapsulation of history as the main event of the inaugural Wrestlemania stood together to shake hands for this first time in 30 years, even having the referee of that match, Pat Patterson, present and accounted for. The only thing that could have made this moment better would have been the inclusion of the cornermen, Jimmy Snuka and Cowboy Bob Orton, both of whom were in attendance, anyway.

Finally, our main event featured the zenith of the last six months of Daniel Bryan’ messianic ascension to A+ player status. I drew direct comparisons of his march to the world title to that of my brother Bruce in Stampede wrestling. Despite continuous beatings and double and triple teams, Bryan, the consummate martyr/underdog rose to the occasion and lead the 75000 faithful in a thunderous Yes Chant as he captured both the Unified World Championships and arguably the top spot in WWE. To those that sat impatiently these last six months crying about the injustices suffered by Bryan, I say, patience is a virtue and the slow-burn worked to perfection. The torch has now been passed and the dawn of a new era is upon us. Congratulations to Daniel Bryan, Vince McMahon, Paul Leveque, Stephanie McMahon, WWE and all of its fans and shareholders for what I feel is the greatest Wrestlemania yet.

What do you think? Post your thoughts, opinions, feedback and comments below.

@SmithHart1


  • wwefan

    I literally can’t stand these columns. I always wind up reading them and theres always some comments that just irritate me. In this one he said Scott hall and lita didn’t make a hof. Impact on the biz? You’re an old nut.

  • Darren

    “Moreso Lita as she is definitely too young in my humble opinion with far too little impact on the business as a whole.”

    WTF are you talking about? “Too little impact”? Ask AJ Lee what Lita’s impact has been. I’d bet more young girls were motivated to get into pro wrestling due to Lita then any other female wrestler in the past 2 decades at least. Ask the female roster who their favorite female wrestler was and I’m confident Lita would be the most popular choice. Her age is also irrelevant as she is retired and has been for several years. Being old is not a prerequisite to HoF inclusion.

  • tobimobi

    Lita was the best woman wrestler of her time. She’s definitely more deserving than Trish imo. I know she didn’t hold as many championships. But hell Stone Cold, The Rock And Bret didn’t barely hold as many world titles combined as Cena. But I’ll still say theyare a hell of a lot more deserving than Cena. Razor was just awesome and truly deserves his hof spot. Anyway who’d wanna watch a bunch of old farts rambling about things they can’t remember and their mother all night. That would bring the sales down for the hof ceremony pretty damn fast I can tell you that much. Other than that great collumn couldn’t agree more.


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