**Edited as of October 1st 2018: Removed all pictures**
Date: 29th March 2015 Attendance: 76,976 Venue: Levi’s Stadium City: Santa Clara, California
Author’s Note: I wrote a predictions article before this PPV. I had low expectations as the hype for particular matches (especially the main event) were low. The article can be viewed here: Let’s Talk About Wrestlemania XXXI! (I Suppose)
Pre-Show Analysis: The most clear highlight from the first hour of the pre-show was the stadium itself. Seeing how light it was going to be, and how many fans were going to be in attendance created enough hype for me personally. WWE (almost) always uses stadiums later at night so you don’t get to see the audience. It was a refreshing change to use Levi’s stadium in this way, and I hope they do it again.
As the second hour began, the commentators were noticeably excited to be there, and the first match of the night began:
#1 – WWE Tag Team Championship: Tyson Kidd and Cesaro (c) (with Natalya) vs The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Big E) (with Xavier Woods) vs Los Matadores (Diego and Fernando) (with El Torito) vs The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) (with Naomi)
The Usos and Cesaro/Kidd received positive reactions on their entrances. New Day/Los Matadores got barely any response. The match was average in quality, but it was expected on the pre-show. It was a match to ease the crowd into the PPV, and it did the job. The biggest pop of the match was the double superplex. Cesaro used an opportunity to “steal” a victory away from The Usos. The commentary team made it known that the referee had messed the match up by allowing the pinfall as Cesaro was not the legal man. To be honest I don’t think anyone cared about that. (Match Length: 9:58) WINNERS: Tyson Kidd & Cesaro
Afterwards we went backstage with Tom Phillips and Lita. She answered questions fans had asked via social media. They joked about a possibility of a match between “The Bestes” (Lita & Trish Stratus) vs The Bellas in the future.
Once again we were back at the pre-show panel. I have to say that Renee Young is so natural in this role, even if her hair was blowing all over the place. Byron Saxton and Booker T tried to put The New Day over despite them losing, instead of putting the tag team champions over. They really want The New Day to get over don’t they? It’s just not happening … yet.
Jon Gruden (never seen him before, only Americans will know him) from ESPN gave his predictions for the André The Giant Battle Royal. I had to look him up to find out he is a former NFL Coach and current NFL analyst. He gave his predictions, but I can’t be sure how many fans will have taken his word seriously. Just a way to get the American Football fans interested I suppose. Moving on.
#2 – André The Giant Memorial Battle Royal: Curtis Axel, Adam Rose, Fandango, Alex Riley, Damien Mizdow, Zack Ryder, Bo Dallas, Hideo
Itami, Big Show, Diego, Kane, Fernando, Sin Cara, Cesaro, Tyson Kidd,
Mark Henry, Konnor, Ryback, Viktor, Darren Young, Heath Slater, Titus
O’Neil, Jack Swagger, Big E, Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, Erick Rowan,
Goldust, Jimmy Uso, The Miz
It wasn’t bad. There were some funny moments, and some logic breaking moments.
- Bo Dallas running around ringside in celebration as the commentary team assumed he eliminated himself.
- Hideo Itami chants, and the disappointment when Show eliminated him.
- Three members of The New Day failing to take Big Show out.
- Commentary team calling Jimmy Uso “Jey Uso”. Cole still didn’t say which Uso it was when eliminated.
- Big Show eliminated stables on his own, Mizdow and The Miz worked the match as a team. As it came down to Miz, Mizdow and Show, Mizdow turned on Miz randomly, much to the delight of the audience. It was inevitable that Big Show would eventually eliminate Mizdow, although they teased a Mizdow win pretty strongly.
- Big Show won the battle royal after JBL said “Big Show has never won a battle royal!” earlier in the match. JBL said Big Show needed to do something different because he’s clearly not the favourite going in. Commentators should restrain themselves from telegraphing outcomes in this way.
It was inevitable that Big Show would win this match before retiring . It was only fitting to do so in a match which didn’t include any serious fan favourites. I have seen better battle royals, but I have seen a lot worse. It’s worth nothing that this match was the second longest match on the card behind Triple H vs Sting (Match Length: 18:05) WINNER: Big Show
Before the pre-show ended, we got to witness the first IC Champion Pat Patterson placing the title in position for the Ladder match.
Main Show Analysis: The show started with Aloe Blacc singing the American national anthem. I still cannot understand why they don’t ask Lillian Garcia to do it. I’m not American, but when I hear Lillian sing, I feel the emotion, and she does it justice. Aloe Blaac was good, but he didn’t give it to me like Lillian has.
Starting the show with the Ladder match gave mixed feelings. I wanted the match to be on later as I feared other matches following it would pale in comparison. I also understood that they didn’t want the best matches on the card too close to each other. After watching the PPV, I was glad they decided to put it on first. Daniel Bryan and Dean Ambrose had by far the biggest reactions on their entrances.
#3 – WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match: Bad News Barrett (c) vs Daniel Bryan vs R-Truth vs Dean Ambrose vs Luke Harper vs Dolph Ziggler vs Stardust
This was a vintage ladder match. One of those you could watch multiple times.
- Stardust introduced the “Atmospheric Starbird” ladder which was rather amusing, although it didn’t play much of a role after Barrett snapped part of it to hit Stardust.
- Luke Harper was a beast. He caused so much damage, and he did it in brutal fashion. Reminded me of his performance against Dolph Ziggler in their previous ladder match.
- Despite the “R-Truth is scared of heights” comments we heard repeatedly for weeks, Truth had no issues climbing the ladders.
- “Holy Shit!” chant from the crowd after Barrett super(duper)plexed Stardust off a ladder.
- Luke Harper killed Dean Ambrose when he power bombed him from inside the ring to the outside, snapping a ladder in half in the process.
- Daniel Bryan was low-key until the second half of the match. His rivalry with Ziggler was a highlight. The repeated headbutts at the end had the audience in a frenzy. Even more so when Bryan became the new Intercontinental Champion. As I predicted, this was the “consolation prize” for Bryan after the fan reaction following the Royal Rumble. A definite “feel good” moment to start the show well.
The match was great. However I felt it was a little short, it could have gone on for another five minutes easily. Everyone played their part, and the fans loved it. (Match Length: 13:47) WINNER: Daniel Bryan (NEW Intercontinental Champion) – Author’s Grade: 8.5/10
#4 – Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins (with Joey Mercury and Jamie Noble)
In my predictions I wanted this match to be No Disqualification. Why would they end a feud in a standard singles match? Nevertheless … I gave the match a chance.
- There is chemistry between the two. Orton can have good matches but only if someone like Rolliins can force him to step it up.
- The finishing RKO was the best possible way to put the feud and the match to bed. It’s likely to be shown in highlight reels for years to come. Such an amazing finish.
- Although the finish was great, the match didn’t have any other amazing spots. Also the hatred between them wasn’t apparent enough. Could have been much more than it was.
The match made Rollins look weak in comparison to others on the card. Despite interference from J&J Security, Rollins still lost the match. Taking the super RKO at the end of the match put the possibility of a cash-in, in doubt. The loss served as camouflage for what was to come.
(Match Length: 13:15) WINNER: Randy Orton – Author’s Grade: 6.5/10
#5 – Pinfall/Submissions Only – Triple H vs Sting
Sting and Triple H got the first set of big entrances of the night. Am I the only one who wishes Sting kept his WCW theme? Aside from that, the Triple H Terminator entrance was great (even if it was just to plug a movie), until Triple H emerged with a hideous mask. The mask looked like it was wrapped in tin foil, which was annoying because the Terminator models next to him looked great. All he needed was a crown and a red Terminator eye, and that would have been acceptable, not laughable.
- The match was initially labelled a singles match. In my predictions I expressed my hatred for the decision, so I was impressed when I heard the stipulation changed to pinfall/submission only.
- The feud slowly turned into more of a WWF vs WCW feud than anything else. “This is awesome” chants could be heard before the match began.
- After Sting delivered a dropkick, the fans chanted “You still got it”, even though he never lost it.
- Triple H dominated most of the match, until Sting got him in the Scorpion Death lock. Then an unexpected arrival of D-Generation X occurred and the fans were all for it. The fans remained firmly behind Sting after he kicked out of a pedigree.
- New World Order appearing (which I initially called after DX came out, but only as a joke) created an amazing time warp filled with ultimate Attitude Era nostalgia. The fantasy bookers who always wanted to see a D-X vs New World Order fight got their wish here. It made sense as both Triple H and Sting are not full-time wrestlers and wouldn’t be able to work a full match.
- Scott Hall taking a bump was completely unexpected after all the health issues he has been through.
- Another surprise with the last member of D-X, Shawn Michaels, delivered a Sweet Chin Music to Sting. After taking so much punishment, Scott Hall handed Sting a baseball bat. Sting continued the match and broke Triple H’s sledgehammer in half with his bat.
- After all the momentum shifted to Sting, Triple H managed to pin Sting after striking him with the head of the sledgehammer.. The audience didn’t know what to make of it. It was a rather sudden end to the match.
- The picture of D-X and the New World Order stood on opposite sides of the ring, as Triple H and Sting shook hands in the middle of the ring? A moment likely to be repeated many times for years to come.
- The grade was hard to decide. It wasn’t a good wrestling match, but the nostalgia factor was through the roof. It was crowd pleasing, but if you wanted a real wrestling match, it would not suit your needs. The grade is hurt by the lack of a wrestling match, but helped greatly by the crowd pleasing. It was the longest match on the card, with the least amount of actual wrestling.
I was waiting for the initial backlash of Triple H defeating Sting, but it just didn’t happen. I think the way the match went down, who was involved, and how it ended, made it easier for Sting to lose. The fans expected Sting to win the match. To have Sting come in after all these years and win his first match would have put an expectation on him to win every single time moving forward. With the loss, it showed that Sting is human and he can be defeated. When Sting does win his first WWE match, it will be a bigger deal. (Match Length: 18:36) WINNER: Triple H – Author’s Grade: 8/10
Following the match, a backstage segment saw Daniel Bryan celebrating his earlier title win with WWE Legends Pat Patterson, Roddy Piper, Ricky Steamboat, Ric Flair, Bret Hart, and (“DAMN!”) Ron Simmons. Flair chopping Steamboat was one of the funniest moments of the show.
After this we were treated to the live performances of the Wrestlemania theme songs. There was barely a reaction when they finished. The time could have been used to make other matches longer.
#6 – The Bella Twins vs AJ Lee & Paige
In my predictions I slandered this match something fierce. With nothing on the line, it was clearthe match was only on the card so the divas could be featured. To many it was probably the toilet break needed between the Triple H/Sting and Rusev/Cena match. The match was acceptable, but nothing new. The Bellas have improved their wrestling ability over the past few months, and they were able to work with AJ and Paige without making me cringe. Only graded as high as it is because I didn’t spot any cringe-worthy botches.
This was the shortest match on the card. (6:42) WINNERS: AJ Lee and Paige – Authors Grade: 5/10
#7 – United States Championship: Rusev (c) vs John Cena
Rusev’s entrance was excellent. Cannons going off, Russian soldiers marching behind Lana, and Rusev entering on top of a tank? It can’t get any better than that.
John Cena had an extremely pro-America video before he made his entrance .. and the fans still sang “John Cena suuuuuucks”. You know it’s bad when you can still hear them singing in a stadium with no roof.
- Rusev calling for the announcer to announce him first got a pop from the crowd.
- Fans were bored so they chanted “Let’s go Lana”.
- Referee completely ignored Lana throwing her heel into the ring during a STF.
- Flying headbutt from Rusev was pretty sweet. It was followed by a “Rusev” chant.
- Cena found a new move; a springboard stunner!
- Fans cheered for The Accolade.
During the Lana interference spot, Cena moved out of the way in such a nonchalant way. When someone as big as Rusev comes rushing towards you, you should sell it like a train is about to run you over. Cena casually walked out of the way and back into position to deliver the one and only AA to end the streak.
This match paled in comparison to their first encounter at Fast Lane. Watching it back, I have come to realize how bad the match was. Aside from a barely locked in STF, Rusev took very little damage in the match before taking the AA. I can understand that Rusev needed to lose at some point, but to build him up as an unstoppable monster … only to be beaten in such a lackluster manner?
I don’t know, it just didn’t sink well with me, the booking was questionable. They gave Rusev such a grand entrance, only to lose like that. I ain’t surprised by it, because Cena has been booked this way before. It’s not Cena’s fault, I just hoped for a little more from the rematch. At least make Cena work for the win after he was knocked unconscious at Fast Lane. (Match Length: 14:31) WINNER: John Cena (NEW United States Champion) – Author’s Grade: 6/10
The panel looked back at matches throughout the card. “Booker T” chants were heard, and shortly after a loud “NXT” chant echoed throughout the stadium.
The Rock & Ronda Rousey Confront Triple H & Stephanie
Stephanie did a good job at throwing out the facts about Wrestlemania, before claiming the success of Wrestlemania was all down to her. Triple H then turned super heel mode and bragged about his earlier victory over Sting. It was obvious from this point that someone was going to confront them, and it was none other than The Rock.
- The length of time from when The Rock entered the ring, to the first word being said, felt like a lifetime. The fans were truly appreciative to see The Rock.
- Stephanie played a great part. She has a tendency to overact sometimes, but I felt she got it about right on this occasion.
- As it seems set that Triple H will eventually face The Rock down the line, it makes sense that he defeated Sting earlier in the night.
- “Shane O Mac” chant was nice to hear.
- “Ronda Rousey” chants started before The Rock had the chance to turn.
- Rousey has a presence. “Holy S%$t!” chants emerged once she stood in the ring. Also “Ronda’s gonna kill you”.
- Ronda owned it on the microphone. She felt right at home.
- I think the fans were a little disappointed when Ronda didn’t punch Stephanie in the face.
I was really surprised by this segment. I ain’t a UFC fan, but I have heard of Ronda Rousey. Wrestlemania is famous for creating celebrity moments. This was one of the most successful celebrity moments WWE have produced in recent memory. I believe it caught the fans off-guard, as we have heard Vince doesn’t see the UFC as competition, but he still willing to showcase one of the biggest names from the MMA world.
#8 – The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
Bray Wyatt’s special entrance was one of the weakest, and it was all because of the time of day. Having 77,000 phones light up in Levi’s Stadium would have been a sight to see.
The Undertaker returned to a warm reception from the audience. Donning the 2004 attire, and looking noticeably healthier, The Undertaker had the face of fear back. Wyatt looked intimidated.
- “You still got it” from the crowd after Old School from The Undertaker.
- This was the biggest match of Bray Wyatt’s career so far. Wyatt got a lot of offense in early on. He kept the pace slow and methodical.
- The chokeslam and following tombstone on Wyatt changed the match. The Undertaker sold his kick-out really well.
- Sister Abigail looked a little rushed. The Undertaker sat up and created a Wrestlemania moment. “This is awesome” chant broke out.
- The second tombstone saw Wyatt land square on his head. The Undertaker returned, and redeemed himself at Wrestlemania.
The match had a slow pace, but it was expected. They both worked well together, and the match saw a great performance from both men. This was one of the best matches on the card. It’s difficult to pick fault with it. The match proved that The Undertaker doesn’t need the streak to perform at Wrestlemania. Great storytelling from both men. They didn’t need to perform dozens of moves in succession, or go at each other at running speed to pull off this Wrestlemania classic. (Match Length: 15:12) WINNER: The Undertaker
– Author’s Grade: 9/10
Following the match, the video package hyping the main event began.
#9 – WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs Roman Reigns
The match was filled with controversy well before it occurred. The fans were vocal about Roman Reigns winning the Royal Rumble match. It appeared that WWE didn’t want to add Daniel Bryan to the main event, so the fans were left dejected at the thought of Roman Reigns winning the World Championship. Brock Lesnar announced he had re-signed with WWE the same week, which ensured the fans that Brock Lesnar could win the match. Had he not re-signed, the fans knew that Lesnar would lose the championship, most likely to Roman Reigns.
Roman Reigns’ Wrestlemania entrance was not cheered by the fans. Brock Lesnar made his entrance and received a warm reception. The fans were happy to see the World Heavyweight Champion. All eyes were on Lesnar going forward.
- Lesnar was cut early, but it didn’t stop him delivering an F-5 to Reigns.
- The match started off paralleling the John Cena vs Brock Lesnar match from Summerslam. Lesnar continued to suplex Roman Reigns into the mat. Reigns smiled at Lesnar as the fans boo’d any offense he managed to muster.
- #SuplexCityBitch – Trending Worldwide.
- The crowd cheered each suplex from Lesnar. Also “This Is Awesome” chants at one point.
- It appeared they were working stiff with each other. Reigns kneed Lesnar in the face, and Lesnar retaliated with a vicious right hook.
- Fans kept count of how many suplex Lesnar delivered. Reigns continued to laugh at Lesnar’s offense.
- Reigns somehow kicked out of ten suplex and three F-5. And then Reigns shoved Lesnar into the ring post and made him bleed the hard way. Lesnar kicked out of many superman punches and two spears. Then Lesnar delivered a fourth F-5.
- Seth Rollins entered! Cashing in Money in the Bank and turning it into a Triple Threat. The crowd went nuts.
- After a spear to Lesnar, Rollins used his opportunity to curb stomp Reigns and pin him to become World Heavyweight Champion.
After what happened earlier in the night, the cash in didn’t appear likely. Rollins emulated former Money in the Bank winners by creating a shock moment that would go down in history. Having worked so hard to become one of WWE’s top heels of the past year, Rollins firmly deserved to hold the belt at the end of the night. The match was brutal, stiff, and really one-sided. Reigns spent most of the match taking the offense, and was still able to perform his trademark moves over and over at the end. Reigns also injured Lesnar multiple times. From my personal point of view, Reigns delivered, but only just. (Match Length: 16:43) WINNER: Seth Rollins (NEW WWE World Heavyweight Champion)
– Author’s Grade: 7.5/10
This was one of the best Wrestlemanias in recent memory. The look of the show, the attractions of Sting, The Undertaker, The Rock, Ronda Rousey, Brock Lesnar, D-Generation X, and the New World Order combined to eclipse last years Wrestlemania. I don’t agree when critics say that it was the best Wrestlemania ever. A number of matches on the card were average and lacked meaning. WWE continues to cling on to older names for Wrestlemania, but WWE also proved they are slowly heading in the right direction by giving the title to Rollins.
This was definitely a sports-entertainment show first, and a wrestling show second. When you compare the matches on the card to NJPW Wrestle Kingdom 9 from January, they don’t come close. In overall entertainment, Wrestlemania 31 was top-notch. Aside from Triple H defeating Sting, I have not seen many complaints over the booking of the show. It’s in stark contrast to what I have written above. Wrestling purists may feel the average match quality disappointed, but it did have the ladder match and Undertaker vs Wyatt. The PPV created many memorable moments, and that’s what WWE is about. With that said I cannot say this was the best Wrestlemania ever, but I will remember it fondly. Thanks for reading.
Entertainment Value: A / Match Quality: C+ / Overall Grade: B+