Triple H, October 2011:

“When I grew up, I hated Hogan. I thought he was terrible and didn’t like to watch him. I was like Punk in a way. I liked the Steamboats and Flairs and the ones that could go. Would I be right in saying that Hogan was the wrong guy to go with, and they should’ve changed directions and gone with Steamboat because he was the better wrestler? Ludicrous.” - Triple H. October, 2011.

Wrestlemania 31

Friday, April 01, 2016

The build is here.

The 113th WWF PPV and the 31st Wrestlemania comes to you from Santa Clara.

(Dark - Devitt d. Pac, Steen/Generico d. Crews/Kalisto)

At the very end of the build, after the final Fight Night, after the press conference, a story broke that Mania would be Danielson's last match.  Probably Meltzer broke it (everyone turn in your cell phones!) and it sweeps through all of the weekend events.

The show opens with a highlight package of final WWF matches.  There's no graphic saying this; you just know.  Neil Diamond's "If You Go Away" what do you mean you don't know it? plays over the package.

Bruno loses to Andre at WM2
Steamboat walking away from the ring after the main event of WM4
Dynamite after losing to Savage at Survivor Series '88
Andre loses to Hogan at Rumble '89
Arn Anderson loses to Bret at Survivor Series '89
Jesse Ventura takes off his headset and hugs Gorilla after WM6
Rick Rude walks away alone after he and Marty drop the tag straps at Summer Slam '90
Bobby and Flair disappear behind the curtain after losing to Hennig at Rumble '93
Tito Santana gives up to Luger's torture rack at WM9.
Hogan gets rolled up by Backlund at WM9
Money Inc loses to the upstart Smoking Gunns at SSlam '93
Hennig takes a Michaels superkick at SSlam '93
The Steiners lose the straps at Rumble '94
Randy Savage salutes the MSG crowd from the buckles at WMX
Rick Martel loses to Waltman at Rumble '95.
Gorilla shaking Vince's hand at WM12
Razor and Diesel get laid out by HHH the night after WM12
Pillman taunts the crowd in East Rutherford as he leaves Summer Slam '97
Bret puts the WWF title around Owen's waist at Survivor Series '97
Vader is shocked by young Edge at Summer Slam '98
Owen walks alone up the ramp at the close of WM15.
Shamrock gets pedigreed at SSlam '99
Davey Boy taps out to Angle at Rumble '00
Taz gets five star frog splashed at Rumble '02
Austin takes a Rock Bottom at WM 19
Goldberg and Lesnar each get pinned by Cactus and the Rock at XX
Eddy and Rey hug in mid ring at SSlam '05
Angle's carried from the ring after losing to Benjamin at WM 22
Benoit takes the West Coast Pop at WM 22 and is then put through a table by Lashley
Flair loses to Finlay at at WM23
Booker's attacked by MVP after losing to Rey at Summer Slam 07
London takes the Go to Sleep at Summer Slam '07
Jeff loses the second Montreal Match to his brother at WM25
Benjamin takes Starship Pain from Nitro at Rumble '10
Shawn and Bret shake hands after their match at WM26
Matt's attacked by Edge to close WM26
Sydal takes Starship Pain at SSlam '10 and then..
MVP takes it at Survivor Series '10
Regal and Punk brawl at Rumble '11
Edge takes a Go to Sleep at WM 27
Nitro goes shoulder first into the buckle from Sheamus at SSeries '11
JR waves to the crowd following WM29
Christian salutes the LA fans at SSlam '13
Punk flips off the fans as he exits Rumble '14
Rey has his mask partially torn off by Bray at WM30
RVD is destroyed by Brock at SSlam '14

Joey/Regal/Christian is your announce team.

Joey sets the stage - tonight is the final wrestling match for Sting and the Undertaker, tonight either Hulk Hogan or Ric Flair is leaving the sport of wrestling, and, the rumors are loud and undeniable - tonight, win/lose/or draw, it appears that Bryan Danielson will wrestle his last match.  

Joey tells us that if we have any friend who has not purchased the show that it is our moral obligation to reach out and tell them to order the PPV.

And now - here comes the Championship Committee to the ring.  Austin.  Shawn.  Bret.  

We learn that 32 will be in Dallas in front of 100,000 fans in the largest WM of all time.  And that we can expect a main event unlike any in WM history.

And we learn that tonight ends Bret's time on the Championship Committee. He says after 40 years in the sport he's going home.  He says he's easier to replace than you'd think - one Triple Crown Canadian gone, another steps up - the newest member of the Championship Committee -- Edge.

Edge comes to the ring, shakes Bret's hand, Bret waves to the crowd and exits  - and that may be Bret Hart's last meaningful appearance in the WWF.  Images of Bret's career flash on the video wall during his exit.

It's supposed to be melancholy.  Did you not listen to the song?

Let's get to the ring.

1. Cena/Harper(that's Sandow) d. Barrett/Curtis
-Sandow turned on Underground at the Rumble to join the Wyatts as a Luke Harper doppleganger; there's no revenge for Underground in this quick match.  Fandango gets pinned by Cena.  

2. Kingston (w/Woods) d. Kidd
-They've been in a simmering feud for more than a year, during which time they've double turned.  Woods is doing a radical professor's gimmick, talking about White Wrestler Privilege, he gained an adherent in Kingston after a referee's poor call cost him at the Rumble.  Kingston goes over here with some Woods assistance in a traditional heel manager way.  Both men telling the camera it's a "new day" in the WWF.

3. Direct to Video (Orton/Miz w/HHHM) d. Usos (Jimmy/Reigns w/Jey)
-The heel run continues, Jey's been out since the TLC tag match, continuing that gimmick's history of stretcher jobs - he came back for moral support in this build and got wiped out by HHH.  He gets some revenge here, breaking a crutch over HHH back, but Miz gets extra slippery come WM time, and he weasels his way into a fall over Jimmy (both feet on the ropes, holding the trunks, that kinda thing).  Usos have a reputation as unable to win the big one and Reigns is clearly frustrated postmatch as DTV smirks up the aisle.

4.  Rusev (w/GHB and Lana) d. Langston
-GHB is Bradshaw's longtime right wing gimmick, he's aligned with Rusev making the argument that America's gone soft, the only real Americans now are foreigners.  Rusev's unbeaten going up against Langston, the third man of The Shield, who later tonight are attempting to become the longest reigning champs of any type in WWF in the Mania era.  They slam into each other a lot in a big man's way, GHB and Lana do their outside thing - it appears not to work when Langston whacks GHB hard off the apron, but to no avail, Rusev gets the fall.

A new WM tradition, we started a year ago, an In Memorium segment - wrestlers who have passed since last years Mania.  Still photos and the ten bell salute.

Ultimate Warrior
Ox Baker
Sean O'Haire
Jimmy del Ray
George Scott
Bob Geigel
Perro Aguayo Jr

5. Texas Bull Rope Match: Cody Rhodes d. Dustin Rhodes (Dusty, special guest referee)
-Another feud of over a year, Dustin's broken away from the Wyatts and is no longer really a heel, but the feud with his brother continues. The template for the special guest referee at each year's Mania was Ali at I, he doesn't need any physical ability, can stay outside and essentially be a referee in name only.  That's Dusty's role here, really just to be here to count the fall as a bloody Cody covers a bloody Dustin - and to faciliate the postmatch makeup for the family.  All 3 Rhodes hug in mid ring in what will turn out to be Dusty's last moments in the sport.  I told you about the melancholy.

Clip package of every WM Legends Match:

I: Andre d. David Sammartino
II: Andre d. Bruno
III: Andre d. Race
IV: Andre d. Hogan
V: Hogan d. Warrior
VI: Hogan d. Dusty
VII: Taker d. Jake
VIII: Hogan d. Jake
IX: Backlund d. Hogan
X: Savage d. Crush
XI: Taker d. LT
XII: Jake d. Piper
XIII: Taker d. Ahmed/Simmons
XIV: Taker d. Kane
XV: Taker NC Shamrock
XVI: none
XVII: Rock d. Taker
XVIII: Flair d. Hogan/Taker
XIX: Rock d. Austin
         Taker/PAUL/Kane d. Hogan
XX: Foley/Rock d. Brock/Goldberg
XXI: Rey d. Taker/PAUL
XXII: Foley d. RVD
XXIII: Taker d. HBK
XXIV: Taker d. Morley
XXV: Taker d. Bradshaw
XXVI: Taker/Cody d. Dustin/Yang
XXVII: Dos Caras, Jr. d. Taker
XXVIII: HHH-M d. Taker
XXIX: Punk d. Jericho
XXX: HHHM/Miz/New Age Outlaws d. Taker/Paul/Kane/Henry

6. Legends Last Stand: Sting (w/Horsemen) d. Undertaker (w/Hogan and DMW)
Sting finished his TNA run as a Horseman, so he's backed here by Flair/Arn/Dean -- Undertaker's backed by his old Dead Men Walking partners, PAUL (realm world Big Show) and Kane and Hogan, who has been the main driver in puting this together.

The size/age/health of the Taker's guys gives them an advantage - but that's turned around when another of Sting's TNA Horsemen stablemates makes his WWF debut.

Samoa Joe (Oh My God, says Joey) walks down to the ring and kills everyone on the Taker's side; each of them takes whatever level of move he's able to take, complete carnage, leading to Sting's getting the Scorpion Death Lock on the Taker, who submits.

Extended postmatch with everyone shaking hands in the ring (except Joe, who exits alone after killing everyone).  The Horsemen leave together; the announce speculating if we'll ever see any type of physicality from these 3 men ever again.  

Paul/Kane/and, for the final time as a wrestler, the Undertaker, all leave together.  Images of the Undertaker's career flash on the video wall during his exit.

Sting climbs to a top buckle, beats his chest, lets out a yell and exits, slapping the hands of the fans on both sides of the ramp.  Sting gets the same video wall treatment.

And then Real American plays - Hulk Hogan is leaving the sport of wrestling, he cups his ear, points to all four sides of the ring, and exits - presumably for the final time.  Hogan gets the same video wall treatment.


Clip Package of every WM IC Title Match

I Piper d. Valentine
II. Savage d. Piper
III. Savage d. Jake
IV. Bret d. Savage
V. Rude d. Hennig
VI. Bret d. Shawn
VII. Bret d. Tenryu
VIII. Savage d. Piper
IX: Shawn d. Hennig
X: Razor d. Shawn
XI: Razor d. Owen
XII: Vader d. Taker
XIII: Cactus d. Vader
XIV: Austin draw Shamrock
XV: Snow d. Austin
XVI: Eddy d. Jericho
XVII: Austin d. Regal
XVIII: RVD d. Austin
XIX: Rey d. Chavo
XX: Eddy d. Chavo
XXI: Edge d. Regal
XXII: Fit d. Regal
           HHH-M d. Fit
XXIII: Orton d. Helms/Jeff 
XXIV: MVP d. Kendrick/Noble
XXV: Rey d. MVP
XXVI: Sydal d. Tatsu
XXVII: Sheamus d. Nitro
XXVIII: Rock d. Sheamus
XXIX: Nemeth d. Swagger d. Rock
XXX: Nemeth d. Sheamus

7. IC: Bray Wyatt d. Luke Harper
-We've got a title switch.  Bray Wyatt becomes the 64th IC champ. Luke's never actually struck Bray, so we get the moment here when he hauls off and blasts him to start the match. It's all brawl,  Just a sprint brawl, it's really only the final 3 matches of the night that require any length, so each of these first 7 are fairly short. The story is Luke's more athletic, stronger, bigger, and a better brawler but Bray's smarter - and that comes into play when Cena and Harper (Sandow) come down the ramp.

Luke sees red - he exits the ring to attack Harper, that leaves him open to Bray, who uses it to gain advantage.  There's an end of match spot where Harper hesitates when having the chance to put Wyatt away, Bray again seizes the advantage and gets the fall and the belt.

The Wyatts, Bray/Cena/Harper celebrate postmatch, they've won two matches tonight and Bray is the new IC champ.

Clip Package for every Shield Tag Title Match

Wrestlemania 29: Shield (Black/Ambrose w/Langston) d. Empire (Barrett/Ryback)
Summer Slam 2013: Shield (Ambrose/Langston w/Black) d. Defiance (Rhodes/Orton w/Bernard)
Survivor Series 2013: Shield (Black/Langston) d. KTFO (PAUL/Henry)
Royal Rumble 2014: Shield (Black/Langston) d. Wyatts (Virgil/Cena w/Bray/Harper)
Wrestlemania 30: Shield (Black/Ambrose/Langston) d. Usos (Reigns/Jimmy/Jey)
Summer Slam 2014: Shield (Black/Ambrose w/Langston) d. D2V (Orton/Miz w/HHHM)
Survivor Series 2014: TLC Shield (Black/Ambrose/Langston) d. Usos (Reigns/Jimmy/Jey)
Royal Rumble 2015: Shield (Black/Ambrose w/Langston) d. Bubba/DDP

8. Tags: The Shield (Black/Ambrose) d. D1 (Nemeth/Swagger)
-Division One has been protected for years as "imagine if they didn't break up how great they might have been" - that really allows this match to be a premium event as The Shield continues their unparalleled title run, they leave Mania with the longest reign of any WWF title in the Mania era.

One of the stories here is no Langston, he wasn't expected to be here given the Rusev match earlier, but it's the first Shield match he hasn't been a part of.  Here we get a disagreement between Regal (arguing Langston is an integral member of the squad) and Christian (that he's a glorified bodyguard and the two real wrestlers are in the ring tonight).

Black gets the fall on Swagger, Shield celebrates, there are fireworks, the video wall indicates the Shield has the longest modern era championship reign.  After a pause there's a handshake with D1 -

-and then Sheamus and Barrett come down the ramp.

Sheamus been gone, gone since last year's Mania - Sheamus, in fact, was in the IC Title match the previous 4 Manias, but returns here, with a microphone, he says that at Summer Slam, he and Barrett are going to put The Shield "Underground" - and then Nemeth and Swagger turn on them - the four men lay The Shield out.  Swagger and Nemeth pose with Barrett and Sheamus - the four Underground members united atop The Shield!

Video package - WWF Title Matches at WM.

I Steamboat d. Windham
II Dynamite d. Steamboat
III. Steamboat d. Dynamite
IV. Dynamite d. Steamboat
V. Savage d. Bret
VI. Hennig v. Savage
VII. Hennig d. Savage
VIII. Bret d. Flair
IX. Bret d. Razor
X. Owen d. Bret
XI. Bret d. Shawn
XII. Shawn d. Bret
XIII. Austin d. Bret
XIV. Owen d. Shawn
XV. Cactus d. Owen
XVI. Benoit d. Cactus
XVII. Angle d. Benoit
XVIII. Angle d. Hennig
XIX. Angle d. Lesnar
XX. Benoit d. Angle
XXI. Eddy d. Benoit
XXII. Rey d. Benoit
XXIII. Booker d. Lashley
XXIV. Punk d. Benjamin/Nitro
XXV. Jericho d. Shawn
XXVI. Jericho d. Regal
XXVII. Punk d. Edge
             Nemeth d. Punk
XXVIII. Danielson d. Jericho
XXIX. Lesnar d. Danielson
XXX. Claudio d. Danielson

9. WWF Title: No DQ: Brock Lesnar (w/Heyman) d. Claudio Castagnoli
Brock took the belt at the Rumble in a match that stayed in the ring; so this match is fought a lot outside, this is the match that uses the announce tables and the steel steps and all the ringside gimmicks - you give a lot of ringside brawling gimmicks to Lesnar and Claudio and it's a lock to both be great and be different than their match at the prior PPV.

The story is that when Brock hits you, you stay hit - as there have been clear effects to the careers of Punk and Danielson in the wake of their programs with Lesnar; Claudio also shows those effects, far less ebullient in this build than previously.  This is probably the death of the Hey Movement, as even though he gives all he can, he's going to, again, go down to the F5.

Prior to the finish is the promised, "here comes GDI" spot - the psychology has been inverted in the build, what we think of as the babyface group, GDI, has used its numerical advantage and promised to inject itself into this match.  Steen/Generico/Pac appear at the top of the ramp - but they're wiped out by a debuting Prince Devitt who leaps from whatever high set piece exists, which is a call back to the debuts of both Generico and Pac.

It's one guy killing 3 guys, so the finish to the match needs to come fast - we get the F5 and the fall - Devitt comes to the ring to celebrate with Heyman and Lesnar and the announce makes it clear - Prince Devitt has come to the WWF - and he's a Paul Heyman Guy.

Bryan Danielson WWF PPV Match Video Package

Summer Slam '10: Danielson d. Punk
Survivor Series '10: Danielson d. Low Ki
Royal Rumble '11: Rey d. Danielson
Wrestlemania 27: Danielson d. Rey
Summer Slam '11: Danielson d. Cena
Royal Rumble '12: WWF Title: Danielson d. Nemeth
Wrestlemania 28: WWF Title: Danielson d. Jericho
Summer Slam '12: WWF Title: Danielson d. Sheamus
Survivor Series '12: WWF Title: Danielson d. Rey
Royal Rumble '13: WWF Title: Danielson d. Dos Caras, Jr.
Wrestlemania 29: WWF Title: Lesnar d. Danielson
Summer Slam '13: WWF Title: Danielson d. Lesnar
Survivor Series '13: WWF Title: Danielson draw Punk
Royal Rumble '14: WWF Title: Danielson d. Punk/Lesnar/Swagger
Wrestlemania 30: WWF Title: Claudio d. Danielson

10. Kenta (w/Heyman) d. Bryan Danielson
Steamboat and, ideally, Kobashi, watch from a box.

In what may be Kenta's only WWF PPV match and what is likely Bryan Danielsons final WWF PPV match, Kenta goes over clean with the Go to Sleep in the best match the two can have.  Streamers are thrown into the ring prematch, Danielson does as many of his old trademark spots as he can, including "I have til 5 referee" - which is probably when the Danielson fans begin to recognize that the possibility this is his last match is a real thing and start to tear up a little bit.

Finishing sequence is the same as their match in '06, there's a forearm strike sequence, Danielson hits a roaring elbow, Kenta hits three kicks to the head and then the Go to Sleep.

Postmatch Kenta offers the same handshake that Danielson offered to Punk - Danielson accepts.

Kenta exits, he and Heyman celebrate up the ramp - they're met by an emerging Lesnar and Devitt, both wearing Paul Heyman Guy shirts - all four men together on the ramp.

Danielson stays in the ring to take the applause, kisses the canvas - tomorrow night on RAW will be a Bryan Danielson Appreciation Night where he'll deliver a version of his real world speech; everyone will be there (except for Lesnar and Samoa Joe).

The show ends on a video package - a replay of If You Go Away, but with career highlights for Bret, The Undertaker, Sting, Hogan - and Danielson.

The last shot of the broadcast is after the video, it's a member of the WWF crew in an empty arena standing around a torn down ring, hammering together what appears to be the very start of some type of steel cage.

That's Wrestlemania.

Back with some stuff next month.  Build to Summer Slam in July

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