Over 75,000 members of the WWE Universe packed the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday April 6th for the 30th anniversary of the spectacle that is WrestleMania. WrestleMania 30 provided everything from excitement, laughter and pure triumph to pure disappointment and plain shock, as this event was sure to tap into different emotions for those who witnessed it. Adding to the hype behind the event was the fact the it would be the first live pay-per-view that could be viewed on the newly-launched WWE Network, which made its debut back on February 24th.
As with most PPV events, especially as of late in the ‘PG Era,” the matches that took place at WrestleMania 30 were hit and miss. There were matches that brought out a chorus of “this is awesome” chants from the WWE Universe and matches that left most wondering when the next match would come. For the purposes of this article, we’ll rank the best matches from the night that was WrestleMania 30.
Before we get started, it would be a travesty not to mention the iconic and historic beginning to WrestleMania 30. The host of the event, The Immortal Hulk Hogan, made his way to the ring and brought us down WrestleMania memory lane. Then the sound of broken glass filled the arena with the arrival of the Texas Rattlesnake, Stone Cold Steve Austin. After asking the WWE Universe if they wanted to see him open up a can of whoopass on Hogan, Austin would express the respect that he had for the Hulkster before…”Finallllllly, The Rock came back to WrestleMania!” The Great One would make his way to the ring to join Hogan and his longtime foe Austin in the ring. The three had an exchange for the ages, one that brought generations of WWE fans together. After the Rock reminded Hogan which dome they were in and they exchanged each other’s catchphrases, the three celebrated with some cold Steveweisers and WrestleMania 30 was officially underway.
8. The Shield defeated Corporate Kane and The New Age Outlaws
This wasn’t much of a contest at all. The veterans from the Attitude Era could have at least tried to put up more of a fight vs the young, dominant team of Dean Ambrose, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns, but that would not be the case in NOLA. The Shield, one year removed from its impressive WrestleMania debut vs Randy Orton, Big Show and Sheamus at WM 29, started strong and finished even stronger Sunday night. The team of Kane, Road Dogg and Billy Gunn was simply over-matched and a step (or two) slower then their opponents.
After an impressive spear from Roman Reigns to Kane to render him ineffective in the match’s outcome, the Shield executed an impressive double-triple powerbomb to both members of the Outlawz for a Rollins 3-count while Ambrose and Reigns celebrated. The three stood united in the ring after the match and seem removed from the problems that almost broke the Hounds of Justice up about a month ago. Believe in its impressive victory at Wrestlemania 30. Believe in the Shield.
7. AJ Lee Won The Vickie Guerrero Divas Invitational; Retained Divas Championship
The events that happened prior to this match were unfair to the 14 Divas who stepped into the ring for the Vickie Guerrero Divas Invitational, but the show had to go on and we’ll get to that later. And once again when the odds were stacked against Divas Champion AJ Lee, she somehow found a way to come out as champion. When Vickie Guerrero set this match up, she had one goal in mind and that was to make sure Lee would not walk out of WrestleMania as the champion. Her face after the match showed just how she felt about her nemesis and the outcome of the match. This match saw everything from a complete mugging of the champion by the rest of the Divas to begin the match to high-flying drop kicks off of the top turnbuckle before a sisterly showdown between Nikki and Brie Bella which proved anything went in the name of the Divas Championship. One Black Widow applied to Funkadactyl Naomi later and AJ had her hand raised as she continues to be the longest reigning Divas Champion at 295 days and counting.
6. Cesaro Won the Andre The Giant 30 Man Battle Royal
Had this been a regular battle royal, without the history and prestige behind the name of Andre The Giant, this would have been the WrestleMania Pre-Show match or it wouldn’t have happened at all. To be quite honest, the match underwhelmed but it had its moments. The most exciting moment came when none other than Kofi Kingston, known for finding unorthodox ways of staving off Royal Rumble eliminations, found himself outside of the ring, but he had not been eliminated. Kingston managed to keep his feet on the steel steps to stay alive for a little longer. In the end, the match would come down to Big Show and Cesaro, who used his brute strength to bodyslam the World’s Largest Athlete outside of the ring, similar to how Hogan lifted Andre the Giant in their famous WrestleMania 3 match. Cesaro would hoist the massive trophy as the winner of the inaugural Andre the Giant 30 Man Battle Royal.
What is clear after this match is that Cesaro’s time is NOW. He has the makings to be a future WWE World Heavyweight Champion from his impressive physique and strength to his in-ring skill set. The former Intercontinental and United States Champion is expected to receive a major push going forward in the WWE.
5. The Usos Defeated The Real Americans, Rybaxel And Los Matadores; Retained Tag Team Championships
This was the WrestleMania Pre-Show match but could have very well been a part of the card for the actual event. The most impressive team in this match was the Real Americans who eliminated the teams of Los Matadores and Rybaxel setting up a 2-on-2 showdown with the champions, Jimmy and Jey Uso for the titles. Cesaro and Swagger, who have had a turbulent past couple of weeks as a team, would have their problems once again and would fall to the Usos after a double Uso splash from the brothers. The Usos would go on to continue their reign as Tag Team Champions while the Real Americans went at it after the match, cementing its inevitable break-up as a team.
4. John Cena Defeated Bray Wyatt
A very emotional contest saw the leader of Cenation prevail over the head of the Wyatt Family, Bray Wyatt. I, for one, had this pegged as the upset of the night but once the word ‘legacy’ was brought into the equation, it had a Cena victory written all over it. Wyatt had been taunting Cena for weeks, saying that at WrestleMania he would prove Cena is the monster that no one else saw but Wyatt. During the match, Wyatt on several occasions begged for Cena to finish him. And Cena almost caved in a number of times, contemplating hitting Wyatt with the steel steps, a steel chair and often pushing his limits with the referee not breaking certain holds.
Other big moments from this match included Wyatt countering Cena’s leg drop from the top turnbuckle into a powerbomb and the creepiest moment from the match was when Cena attempted his signature 5 Knuckle Shuffle and Wyatt popped into his upside-down crawl taunt that freaked Cena out completely. Cena would eventually hit the AA to pick up the win and prove to Wyatt that he is not the monster that Wyatt tried to bring to light and to kept his legacy intact.
3. Brock Lesnar Defeated The Undertaker; The Streak Done At 21-1
The moment the WWE Universe stood still. A legend fallen in the middle of the ring. Shocked and distraught faces everywhere in the Superdome. The large numbers displayed on the titantron and every other screen in the building; 21-1. It is still hard to fathom, and it will be for a long time, that The Undertaker‘s legendary WrestleMania streak is over. The Beast Incarnate, Brock Lesnar, set out to end the Streak and he did just that. But something was not right about the end of this match. The actual match left much to be desired as it was a slow and sometime boring match, but the ending made up for what the rest of this match lacked. The match eventually would pick up and see both superstars kick out of each other’s respective finishers. The Undertaker was able to lock the Hell’s Gate on Lesnar twice and twice it was countered. After kicking out of two previous F-5 finishers, the third one would prove to be too much for The Undertaker, as he lay in the middle of the ring while a triumphant Lesnar and advocate Paul Heyman celebrated the ending of history.
There is plenty of speculation going around about the shocking end to this match. Was the Undertaker supposed to counter the third F-5 into a Tombstone Piledriver and pick up the win? Was the Undertaker supposed to kick out of the third F-5 and continue to wrestle until an eventual victory? Why was Paul Heyman noticeably shocked when the referee’s hand slammed down on the mat for a third time? Why didn’t the bell ring after and why was Lesnar’s theme music delayed after his victory? These are the many questions questions being asked by wrestling fans worldwide who wonder how could the Streak end at all, and of all people to a part-timer in Brock Lesnar. Lesnar does not have a resume that is anywhere near worthy of ending the legendary Streak. My feeling is that only two people knew what the outcome of this match would be, and they were the two participants. Many believed Lesnar took the outcome of the match into his own hands while many believe that the match became too much for The Undertaker (who had to be treated for a concussion and neck injury afterwards) and at some point he decided to drop the match and end the Streak on his own. For now all we can do is speculate. Many, like myself, are probably still waiting to wake up from this bad dream to see that the Undertaker is 22-0 at WrestleMania. But 21-1 is the tough reality that the WWE Universe must face and the all but certain possibility that WrestleMania 30 was the last time The Phenom will defend his yard inside the squared-circle.
2. Daniel Bryan Defeated Triple H; Inserted Into The WWE World Heavyweight Championship Main Event
This was an all-around awesome match to watch and we got the privilege of this being the first match to go down on the 30th Anniversary of WrestleMania. Triple H was hellbent on ending the Yes Movement and Daniel Bryan, which have both been a nuisance and a challenge to him in his role as COO of WWE. The only thing that could top what happened from the time the bell rung at the beginning and end of the match was the epic entrance by the King of Kings, who donned a skull mask and was perched atop his throne before making his way to the ring. Once the match got underway, it was clear the WWE Universe was in for a treat.
Triple H controlled most of the match doing what he does as the Cerebral Assassin and systematically picking apart his opponent. The Game targeted Bryan’s shoulder for most of the match and was relentless in his attack on it. At times, I couldn’t tell if I was watching Triple H in the ring or some cross between Chris Benoit and Bob Backlund with the numerous crossfaces he executed on Bryan. Bryan at times looked like he would not make it to the end of the match, let alone to the main event of WrestleMania. Bryan would eventually use the energy from the WWE Universe and his desire to prove The Authority wrong to gain control of the match. Bryan was even able to kick out of the Pedigree which left the Game and wife Stephanie in complete disbelief. Bryan would connect with the flying knee for the win. But his win came at a price as he was attacked by Triple H and Stephanie after the match, further damaging his title hopes. This was a main event-caliber match anyway you look at it.
1. Daniel Bryan Defeated Randy Orton And Batista To Win The WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Daniel Bryan finally had his dream realized and his WrestleMania moment. Bryan showed he was much more than a goat-faced, B+ player in his thrilling victory in the main event. Everything was thrown in the way of the leader of the Yes Movement and he overcame it all. It didn’t take long for The Authority to make its presence felt in the match, bringing with them a sledgehammer and crooked referee Scott Armstrong. Bryan was able to withstand a Batista Bomb and near 3-count from Armstrong before turning the tables on Triple H who was looking to end Bryan with the sledgehammer. Bryan got rid of The Authority and Armstrong by delivering a dive to the outside of the ring, taking out all three. But the worst was yet to come for Bryan.
Batista and Orton decided to rekindle the flame that was Evolution with the common goal of taking out Bryan, who they both felt should not have been in their 1-on-1 main event. The two delivered a brutal Batista Bomb/RKO combination to Bryan through the announce table, leaving Bryan to be wheeled away on a stretcher. But Bryan would not go easily, as he fought off of the stretcher and back into the ring to finish what he sought out to do. Eventually Bryan had the Animal Batista locked into the Yes! Lock, leading to a tapout as everyone in the Superdome rose to their feet to celebrate. A long and tumultuous eight month journey had come to an end and Bryan found himself on top of the WWE mountain. Bryan was reduced to tears as the confetti fell and he hoisted and cradled both titles, celebrating with the people that made this moment possible, the WWE Universe. There was no other possible outcome for the main event at WrestleMania 30. This had to happen. This was meant to be. Yes! Yes! Yes!