Thursday, March 21, 2024

Ramblemania Rewind 30 - WWE Wrestlemania XXX (2014)

Date: April 6th, 2014
Venue: Superdome (or is it Silverdome?) - New Orleans
Attendance: 60,000-65,000 (need further verification for actual figure)

First off, looking back in hindsight, bold choice in going with the roman numeral 30 on your Wrestlemania 30 logo. I don't think we need to imagine all the NC-17 related jokes that you can come up with regarding that title alone. (NC-17 referring to the motion picture rating for adult content, not the handle of a now-defunct Youtube personality who fell off the face of the Earth.)

Anyway, Wrestlemania XXX is one of those interesting beasts that's interesting to look at because it's interesting in hindsight. It was under a much different regime of WWE compared to today's WWE - well, for a variety of reasons, but we'll focus on the creative side alone. Anyway, the company was dead set on bringing back former WWE superstar turned proper actor Dave Batista back to win the Royal Rumble and challenge reigning WWE champion Randy Orton in the main event of Wrestlemania. For a milestone Mania, we needed a milestone main event and that... well, in hindsight, not quite that big of a deal, if I'm being honest.

Had things gone according to plan, that's how it would've gone down. Unfortunately, the WWE Universe had other ideas. 'Cuz there was this fella named Daniel Bryan that people took a liking to and the result was a YES movement that not only took over WWE events, but other sports as well. It got to the point where the crowd was reaching almost riotous levels and WWE pretty much had no choice but to pivot as a result. Hmm, doesn't that sound familiar...

Anyway, let's revisit this show and see how well it's held up.

So we're going to do something a little different here... because we're heading into the 30s of Wrestlemanias and a lot of these Ramblemanias still hold up - both in terms of the writing quality as well as some opinions not having changed on certain things over the years -  there's going to be some good ol' fashioned "copy and paste" segments from the original posts. Anything in quotes is a repost of the original writing. Anything else is new stuff.

Case in point, the opening segment...

"Opening segment began with Hulk Hogan welcoming everyone to the Silverdome... wait, that's not right. I thought this was the SUPERDOME. Fortunately, here comes Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock to jog ol' Huckster's memory. This segment, while no doubt depriving valuable matchtime from potential talent, was quite inoffensive and it was somewhat amusing... and surreal to see these three WWE icons in the ring at the same time."

Because that segment really needed "updated" thoughts other than... well, only one of these three men have yet to main event a night of Wrestlemania in the past five years... I'll give you a hint; he's older than both of them.

Daniel Bryan Danielson defeated HHH via Knee To The Face to be inserted into the WWE World Title main event between defending champion Randy Orton and returning challenger Batista, thus making the main event a Triple Threat. Probably the best HHH I've seen in the latter stage of his career, as he finally found someone who can work the style of match that he likes to work in Bryan and not make it a total bore. It also helps that there was a bit of emotional investment in seeing this Daniel Bryan kid succeed. Yes, there was that YES movement reaching such riotous levels that WWE pretty much had no choice but to pivot their plans from Batista/Orton as the main event (don't believe anyone claiming that this was the plan all along, because they're full of shit.) and if not for that, we'd probably be getting that "long-awaited by one person" Bryan/Sheamus match. But no, this is an upgrade for Danielson and he got 

The Shield defeated the New Age Outlaws in a short, nothing happening match. I guess I should be thrilled that the Outlaws were given the privilege to put over a younger act, but honestly, why was this match even a thing at the time? Keep in mind; I'm writing this in 2024, where Billy Gunn - at SIXTY FUCKING YEARS OLD - is not only featured on national television, but is also a reigning champion in AEW. Go figure, huh?

Cesaro won the 30-man Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal to win the giant Andre The Giant trophy and he did it by slamming the Big Show out of the ring. I poked fun at that fact because it's FUCKING BIG SHOW, but that was an impressive physical feat. But yeah, this should have been a kick off for Cesaro to bigger and better things and that didn't quite pan out. Sure, he had a really sweet run with Sheamus and the tag titles, but the guy could've been so much more in WWE had people not been stuck up on certain aspects. And that's what makes this Battle Royal such a worth endeavor with each passing iteration. Needless to say, there's a reason why they haven't brought this back after the whole prevailing circumstances of 2020. Nowadays, Cesaro - now Claudio - is doing just fine in AEW.

John Cena defeated Bray Wyatt in an okay match. We haven't reached the point of maggots or anything like that, but we did have the creepy kids. I've griped about Cena going over Bray here, but Bray would get his win back at the next show, so that's something, I guess. And listen, it's sad that Bray passed last year, but that's not going to deter me from saying that a lot of his stuff here is a matter of "good ideas hampered by poor execution" or perhaps "ideas that don't quite fit the format." And a problem with Bray Wyatt matches as a whole is that they are often more underwhelming than the build. When I say that the only really good period of Bray's WWE stay was the Wyatt Family period, that's not being mean or hateful. That's being honest. Bray had lots of great ideas that would've been worth expanding upon in horror films and vignettes, but are absolutely death television within the confines of sports entertainment and under a creative regime that had no clue on how to properly implement these ideas to their fullest potential.

The Hall of Famers are introduced... and despite blaring music, Warrior does not come out and run around like the maniac he used to be in his younger years. The next night on RAW, he'd cut an odd promo even by Warrior standards. And then later that night, he'd suffer a fatal heart attack... so that was a bit surreal.

Brock Lesnar defeated The Undertaker to break the legendary Wrestlemania Streak, which was no doubt a shocker ending. Most people remember Paul Heyman's reaction or that one fan's reaction to the finish. Most people remember the promo Heyman on the RAW after Mania. I was like... meh, whatever. The streak ends and Undertaker has a blemish. Everyone is upset because the Streak is such a sacred thing or something... I'm ambivalent on the whole deal. Sooner or later, the Streak has to end. And when it end, it needs to be a big deal. Was I surprised that they pulled the trigger? Sure... did it feel like a big deal? I'm sure it did for some people, but I was like meh. And even now... I'm even more "meh" on the whole deal.

I'm not going to go into a huge spiel or anything like that; the original Ramblemania 30 post that I wrote back in 2014 has plenty of that if you're interested. Ten years later and my only thought that comes to mind is that this loss probably would've felt like a bigger deal if the match wasn't the drizzling shits. It's worth noting that Taker got hurt early in the match and that's why the match turned out as bad as it did. Knowing that didn't really help matters; the match still happened, it still ran long, and it still sucked. If the match was classic, the finish would've been forgiven to some. It wasn't, so the finish... well... that's something to be discussed until the end of time, ain't it?

Was Brock the right guy to break the streak? I don't know. Did Brock really benefit from breaking the streak? Not really. The run that Brock went on after Mania could have happened whether he beat Taker or not. Could somebody else have benefitted from breaking the Streak? Probably. Is there a right answer? Perhaps. I mean, look, if this were a Taker call and he wanted to call it a career, that'd be one thing, but this was a Vince call and fuck knows why... unless he was planning on having Roman eventually beat Taker at Mania and we'll eventually culminate in have the two guys who dealt Undertaker Mania losses in a future main event that would be one of the worst Mania main events in recorded human history.

Of course, that would require foresight. WWE tends to struggle with that at times.

Oh, one last moment worth mentioning is the post-match where Taker is struggling to get up and one guy yells "YOU SUCK!" I guess he's a Kurt Angle fan or something.

Divas Champion AJ Lee defeated every single Diva employed by WWE in the Divas division at the time to retain the title. She'd lose it to Paige (a.k.a. Saraya) the next night on RAW in the latter's main roster debut. If you've only know of this scene because it's the ending of the film "Fighting With My Family", let's just say that the actual moment is more low-key than the film depicts and "AJ Lee" is just Zelina Vega doing the usual Zelina Vega thing... but I digress.

Yeah, so this was a thing where you have a whole bunch of Divas whose names I couldn't be bothered to look up, but there's a bunch of them - the entire division, if I recall correctly. You'd think that this would be a battle royal set-up where you throw everyone over the top rope and the last woman standing is the champion, but no... this is a regular match where a pinfall or submission is the only way for a title to change hands. And it's an absolute mess of a match that exists solely so they can base an entire episode of Total Divas around it. For those who don't know, Total Divas was the reality show that WWE was producing for the E! Network at the time, where the focus seems to be building towards a Diva getting married every season. The show eventually had a spin-off featuring the Bellas... and why am I even going on with this?

"Here's another amusing segment; Hulk Hogan and Mr. T bury the hatchet with Rowdy Roddy Piper and a mustachioed Paul Orndorff... Piper, obviously, had some misgivings about burying said hatchet with Mr. T, no doubt still irked about that boxing match he had with him at Wrestlemania 2." It's worth noting that both heels are now deceased. Sad.

Daniel Bryan Danielson defeated WWE World Champion Randy Orton and Batista via submission to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship and the peasants rejoiced. I thought the match was fine for the most part. There were times where things were moving a bit slowly and Batista wasn't quite stable-legged at times, so to speak... but there was some good action and when all was said and done, the guy that people wanted to see win the big one won the big one, got a big celebration, and everyone went home happy because WWE is the company that claims to put smiles on people's faces and this night proved that they're more than capable of doing so when they can be bothered to do so. Now everything that happened afterwards is another story, but for one night, all was well.

Wrestlemania XXX is a fairly decent show bookended by two quality Daniel Bryan Danielson matches that still hold their own a decade after they happened. The stuff in between is a matter of "your mileage may vary" and that sort of thing, but on a whole, I thought this was a fairly breezy - save for one bit in particular - show to sit through. And I don't say that often about these 4+ hour Mania cards. I enjoyed this one tremendously enough. No complaints.

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