WWE: WrestleMania 28 Recap – April 1, 2012 | MatMagMania

WrestleMania 28: Once in a Lifetime. The End of An Era. We’re at the Sunlife Stadium (now the Hard Rock Stadium) near Miami. Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler start the show on commentary, their feud from the previous year thankfully having been forgotten. Lillian Garcia becomes the first person to sing ‘America the Beautiful’ to open the show for a third time. Your typical overblown opening video package, focusing almost entirely on The Undertaker vs Triple H and The Rock vs John Cena.

WrestleMania 28: Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus – World Heavyweight Championship

Sheamus won the 2012 Royal Rumble and decided to challenge Bryan. It’s the second year in a row that the World Heavyweight Championship has opened the show. Bryan comes out with his onscreen girlfriend AJ Lee. Given how Michael Cole treated Daniel Bryan when Bryan started out it’s funny to hear Cole be nice to him on commentary.
As the bell rings AJ gives Bryan a good luck kiss. Sheamus hits a ‘brogue kick’ and pins to win the match and the title. One of the shortest matches at WrestleMania, definitely one of the shortest title matches. A shocking way to start the show for sure but a disappointing one for fans of Bryan in particular.

We go backstage to Team Johnny for the ten-man match later in the year. The Miz tries to gee his team up but just serves to show how far he’s fallen by pointing out he was in the main event the previous year. John Laurinaitis comes in and compares their possible victory to see of the biggest moments in the show’s history. Spoiler alert, it won’t be that interesting.

WrestleMania 28: Kane vs Randy Orton

A match based on Kane wanting to prove he is still a monster after he uncharacteristically shook Orton’s hand the previous year after a loss. He’s back in the mask, and with the welding mask entrance mack on top.

Orton gets control early and somehow manages to physically bully the larger man, Kane cuts him off and comes back a bit. It’s all mechanically well executed but it’s slow and plodding with only momentary glimpses of something a bit more interesting. There is a vertical suplex mixed in amongst some long bland rest holds. After a very long spell Orton does hit an impressive powerslam on the much larger Kane, and a DDT, to fully control the pace. An attempted comeback from Kane off the top rope is cut off by a dropkick from Orton. Orton goes for a punt but Kane counters with a ‘chokeslam’. A second ‘chokeslam’ this time from the top rope gives Kane the victory.
It was fine.

We go back to Santino Marella, who’s doing a long & contrived advert for ‘Deadliest Catch’ with Mick Foley. This is the kind of filler that would start to extend WrestleMania year on year. Ron Simmons is there with a ‘Damn’ to cut things off.

WrestleMania 28: Cody Rhodes vs Big Show – WWE Intercontinental Championship

For some reason Rhodes decided to focus on mocking Big Show in the build up to this years event, specifically his relatively poor record and the more comedic matches of what he’s been involved in. Rhodes is 233 days into a reign with the IC title that saw him bring back the classic white title belt.

As soon as the bell rings, Rhodes flees the ring and looks to stay distant before getting caught and thrown around the ring for a while. Big Show dominates until Rhodes manages to knock him off his feet with a series of dropkicks to the knees of Show. It’s more interesting than the previous match.

Some good work from Rhodes to work on knocking Show down and grounding him, it doesn’t stick as Show fights back and hits the ‘KO’ punch to win in a touch over 5 minutes. It’s the Big Show’s first Intercontinental Championship and made him a Grand Slam champion.

There’s a generic advert for the WWE Diva’s division, better than giving them more room on the card apparently.

WrestleMania 28: Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos vs Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres

Diva’s Champion Beth Phoenix is involved here, her and Eve Torres are apparently jealous of Kelly Kelly and entertainment correspondent Maria Menounos.

Torres and Kelly start out, Kelly takes charge and bring Menounos into the ring, she is immediately on the defensive. Both Phoenix and Torres get their shots in on a defenceless Menounos. It takes a geological era for Menounos to crawl into the corner to tag in Kelly, the action picks up between her and Phoenix. A pinfall attempt is broken up by Torres. Menounos is tagged back in and only gets saved from a ‘Glam Slam’ by Kelly Kelly at the last second. Menounos then rolls up Diva’s Champion Phoenix to win the match. Inessential, there’s three talented enough workers involved, and they weren’t given anything interesting to do.

Matt Striker is backstage with Shawn Michaels, who is preparing for his role in the following match. He foreshadows that he might screw Undertaker. Justin Roberts then announces that the even has set a new Sun Life Stadium attendance record. It’s amazing how WrestleMania often manages that.

WrestleMania 28: The Undertaker vs Triple H – Hell in A Cell Match with Shawn Michaels as Special Guest Referee

The End of an Era. Undertaker took ten months off after having to be helped backstage after their match the previous year. It took goading from both Undertaker and Shawn Michaels before Triple H accepted the challenge to a rematch, provided it was inside Hell in a Cell. Michaels being added in as guest referee adds even more story, his career having been ended by The Undertaker at Mania 25. Jim Ross joins commentary to add even more gravitas to proceedings. An epic stage set for Triple H during his entrance. Undertaker is swathed in smoke and purple light during his way to the ring. When Taker reaches the ring, he removes his hood to reveal a rare near shaven headed look. The two men don’t take their eyes off each other as the Cell lowers around them.

Seconds in and they’re both throwing big strikes. Jim Ross describes some of Taker’s punches as carcinogenic. Very physical right away, fighting onto the floor and using the cell as a weapon. Taker is in charge early on. The first time Michaels tries to involve himself to check on Triple H, Undertaker pushes him, Michaels stays calm but looks inwardly perturbed. When they make it back into the ring Triple H tries for a comeback but can’t make it stick. It’s all Undertaker at this point, a lot of his classic offensive repertoire on show.

Triple tries to use some steel steps to get some offense of his own in but still can’t fight back on a consistent basis. HHH manages a spinebuster but gets caught in ‘Hells Gate’ which he dramatically powers out of. A vicious and extensive series of chair shots from Triple H manage to even the odds for the first time in a while. Michaels tries to beg either Triple H to stop the assault, or Undertaker to give up, but neither man listen to him. Triple H’s frustration boils over and he gets his sledgehammer, Michaels practically begging Undertaker to give up before HHH hits him with it for a near fall.

HHH goes to hit Undertaker right in the skull with the Sledgehammer but Michaels blocks it, not wanting his friend to get that vicious. For a moment Michaels looks conflicted about calling the match off and Undertaker stops him from doing so by putting him in the ‘Hells Gate’. Undertaker hits a low blow to Triple H and locks him in the ‘Hells Gate’ Michaels is still down and Triple H seems to pass out. A second referee runs down but struggles to get into the Cell, he’s in the ring in time for a ‘chokeslam’ from Undertaker to HHH, who kicks out.

Undertaker hits the new referee with a ‘chokeslam’ out of frustration. Michaels gets his own back on Taker with a ‘Sweet Chin Music’ into a ‘Pedigree’ from Triple H but Taker kicks out at 2.99. Frustration takes over for Triple H as well as he pushes Michaels out of the ring, Undertaker taking over again. A ‘Tombstone Piledriver’ but Triple H kicks out at 2.99 himself.

The men simply trade strikes before Triple H hits another ‘Pedigree’ for yet another razor thin kickout. There’s so much drama packed into every moment at this point. There’s a great moment where the two men are staring each other down, Triple H defiant and virtually begging Undertaker to hit him with the sledgehammer, Michaels barely able to watch. Another ‘Tombstone Piledriver’ and Undertaker is victorious.

Brilliant match. It reaches for epic and hits it. The three men show respect to one another post-match, Michaels and Undertaker helping Triple H to the stage.

As a break we get a look at the 2012 Hall of Fame class. Ron Simmons/Faarooq, Mil Mascaras, The Four Horsemen, Yokozuna, Mike Tyson, and headliner Edge. Edge’s visible emotion when he’s presented on stage is touching.

Josh Matthews is backstage to interview Flo Rida but the interview is interrupted by Heath Slater. More filler.

WrestleMania 28: Team Johnny (David Otunga, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Mark Henry & The Miz) vs Team Teddy (Booker T, Kofi Kingston, The Great Khali, R-Truth, Santino Marella & Zack Ryder)

A battle between two general managers looking to take over both Raw and SmackDown, Team Johnny represent existing Raw GM John Laurinaitis and Team Teddy represent SmackDown GM Teddy Long. Brie Bella introduces Team John; and can’t pronounce the word ‘interim’. Nikki Bella introduces Team Teddy; she can’t pronounce the word ‘bearer’.

There’s plenty of decent talent involved (and the Great Khali) so the action is all generally fine. Someone in the back needed to get a bit of a handle on colour coordination as two members of the SmackDown (blue) team are wearing red rights or trunks. If you’re going to make the wrestlers wear matching t-shirts to least make an effort to be less visually confused.

Most of the match is fairly generic cycling through the ring, soundtracked by Cole and Lawler bickering about which GM will be worse if their team wins. It’s not all that interesting, even when they pick up the pace for some dives near the end. Santino Marella almost pins The Miz, in that he does but Ziggler breaks it up at the three count and we just carry on. Zack Ryder looks good for 20 seconds or so. Ryder’s girlfriend Eve Torres gets in the ring and distracts him, allowing the Miz and Team Johnny to win. For some Torres low blows Ryder post-match and walks off.

Baseball player Alex Rodriguez is show in the crowd with his then girlfriend, wrestler Torrie Wilson. We then get a look at the WrestleMania Axxess events and the various charitable events of the week. Team Johnny are backstage walking past a stoic CM Punk, John Laurinaitis tries to engage with him but Punk doesn’t engage. Laurinaitis adds a stipulation to Punk’s match that he’ll lose his title if he gets disqualified.

WrestleMania 28: CM Punk vs Chris Jericho – WWE Championship

Jericho had returned from a near year on hiatus at the start of year and immediately got into it with Punk over who was truly the ‘best in the world’. Jericho has got incredibly personal with Punk in the build-up, bringing up his family and various issues with substance abuse Punks family have suffered, mocking Punk’s Straight Edge persona in the process. The two men get epic WrestleMania worthy entrances, accompanied by fireworks.

A lot of mat wrestling and grappling to start things out, Punk needing to be reminded of the stipulation as he starts to throw strikes. Jericho slapped Punk in the face twice in a row to try and goad him into a disqualification, throwing in verbal taunting alongside it to really ramp it up. Punk is in physical control of the match, Jericho with the mental edge. Jericho rolls to the floor to avoid a dive but Punk simply jumps onto him on the floor.

Jericho by this point is just screaming things like ‘your father’s a drunk’ at Punk to try and goad him even further, finally getting on top physically. After dissecting Punk mentally in the early going with his taunting Jericho starts to dismantle him physically with a series of attacks to the back. It’s clever, tactical wrestling. Punk starts to fight back with some smooth back and forth work, Jericho still having a tactical advantage even when fighting from underneath.

A lot of counter wrestling leads to a great ‘Walls of Jericho’ out of a ‘Hurricanrana’ attempt. It’s very physical in and out of the ring. Punk slips up and dives straight into a ‘Codebreaker’ but kicks out. The two men trade finisher attempts before Jericho gets the ‘Walls’ locked in again. Punk rolls out and they trade pinfall attempts, before Punk transitions into the ‘Anaconda Vise’. Jericho struggles out and goes for the ‘Walls’ again. The ‘Vise’ is back in and Jericho taps. Punk retains.

A very good match that told a clever story around the strategies and counter wrestling both men had to employ. They would have a rematch at Extreme Rules in a street fight which Punk would also win.

A lot of filler next up. An advert for WrestleMania 29, then a dance from (future NWA World Champion) Brodus Clay and the Funkadactyls. Useful for a drinks break before the main event. Clay calls his ‘momma’ as per his entrance music. Turns out ‘she’ is here. A woman in a ridiculous outfit then comes out and there’s a lot of dancing. Apparently, Momma Clay’s bridge club all look the exact same. Ridiculous nonsense.

WrestleMania 28: The Rock vs John Cena

The match the previous years main event was sacrificed to build. The night after Mania 27 Cena challenged The Rock to a match at this years’ show. The build was mostly clustered at the end of 2011 when Rock teamed with Cena for a match at Survivor Series. Beyond that, it doesn’t really need a lot of build beyond being a clash of two generation defining names. It’s ‘Once in a Lifetime’.

The video package before the match basically builds this match as pretty much the biggest match of all time. It feels like the sort of thing that would open an entire event rather than just an individual match, it even has talking heads. It verges on sappy with the soundtrack of ‘We Are Young’ by fun.

Before the main event itself Machine Gun Kelly appears, looking like he’s just woken up, with Skylar Grey and introduced by Sean Combs to perform a song called ‘Invincible’. MGK mumbles some nonsense about John Cena being an underdog and gets booed. Pointless.

Future Eurovision guest Flo Rida appears to perform some songs of his own, with his shirt off. It is the Miami area after all.

Finally, The Rock makes his entrance. His first singles match since 2003 when he faced Goldberg. This whole thing is about spectacle more than anything. Which perfectly explains the minute long stare down before the bell. As you’d expect from two men who’s in ring work was always much more about charisma and personality than it was about technical skill or dynamism, it’s a lot of basic work executed well but carried by facial expressions and body language. Functionally it’s a PG version of the kind of matches Rock had in his prime, a lot of brawling around. Cena is getting booed by the bulk of the crowd but does his usual trick of not deviating at all from his typical style, apart from smirking at the boos.

Cena is the first to his some of his biggest moves but can’t put The Rock away. Rock gets his terrible looking ‘Sharpshooter’ locked in and Cena gets out of it. Cena responds with his own poorly executed ‘STF’. Someone really should have told these two not to bother with submissions that look rubbish. They really milk the ‘STF’ as well, an aeon passes before Rock makes the ropes to force a break. They trade big moves. Rock even tries a top rope move but gets caught in an ‘AA’ before kicking out. Cena goes for another ‘Five Knuckle Shuffle’ but walks straight into a ‘Rock Bottom’. The Rock pins and wins the match.

It’s a spectacle, a good one, but not particularly interesting beyond that. Could have done with 10 minutes shaved off, there’s a lot of stalling that doesn’t feel dramatic, it feels like padding. Had it been a bit shorter it would have been dramatically improved. The two would end up repeating this match the following year, pulling the WWE Championship into their feud along the way.


The first half is inessential apart from the historic moment of Daniel Bryan losing in 18 seconds. Things pick up with Undertaker vs Triple H and CM Punk vs Jericho. Beyond that though the show will rise or fall based on how excited you can get about the ‘dream match’ main event. It’s a step up from the terrible previous year but is highly inconsistent and feels very half hearted.  

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