The X-Factor: WrestleMania – Rebellion and Revolution
It seems like a long time ago.
The haters gave Roman Reigns very short shrift. The hypocrisy and the criticisms that easily applied to other stars rankled me. Yes, the venom was a result of bad booking, but the hate train got rolling for another reason.
Despite the rebellion, there was also a revolution.
The likes of Paige, Emma, Asuka, Sasha, Bayley, Charlotte, and Becky heralded a real change in women’s wrestling. Hell, NXT became the gold standard, and then came a civil war of sorts within WWE’s own fanbase. Not that you couldn’t see why. It only further exposed how out of touch Vince was.
What else happened in these times?
CM Punk walked out. Brock Lesnar “killed” the Superman of our industry. AJ Styles finally arrived. The Authority went on a “Reign of Terror” many of us would love to forget.
Oh, and they moved to streaming. Yay!
The fan outcry had hit the tipping point. WWE had no choice but to change their biggest show in the Silverd…I mean, Superdome. It will stand forever as one of the greatest feel-good moments of all time.
And what about that other talking point?
I sat there with my spinner WWE Championship beside me. The referee’s hand hit the mat a third time. The bell wasn’t rung. The ref was surprised too. 21-1’ came on the screens. The abject shock that washed over the crowd. Shot after shot of fans with hands on their heads not believing what happened.
We’ve debated ever since if it was the right move. Brock Lesnar’s aura needed serious rehab, and with him building Suplex City on top of Cena’s battered self, it suddenly carried real weight to defeat the Beast. The one who could beat the ‘1’ in 21-1 would be a made man.
Do you think, maybe you refused to accept Reigns because it would mean Vince McMahon was right?
Reigns was smiling at Lesnar as if to say, “Is that all you got?” The haters wouldn’t admit it, but the Big Dog showed he could handle himself just fine main eventing the premier PPV of the year.
Then it happened. Rollins hit the ring and stole the title out from under them.
As for Sting, it’s best to look at the match itself as the real victory.
You can always count on people to trash talk. D-Generation X vs. the nWo was a dream come true, and as much as they talked smack, they liked it. I did.
Both Hulk Hogan and Scott Hall knew it was a bullshit finish. It’s his first WWE and WrestleMania match and he loses!?
Maybe you remember this one.
Three months before Dallas, Reigns had laid a vicious beat-down on the Game and won the WWE Championship the very next night. For a while, Reigns was the man we wanted him to be. Except, the beat down at TLC ‘15 was a band-aid and nothing more.
There was a conspiracy theory that Triple H was out to sabotage Reigns’ push. Not a difficult theory to prove.
The opening ladder match was a great contest. Seeing AJ Styles make his ‘Mania debut was damn cool.
John Cena, Randy Orton, Neville, Luke Harper, Seth Rollins, Tyson Kidd, Cesaro, and Nikki Bella were all down. So how did it sell out without it’s franchise player? Shane McMahon, that’s how. It’s no coincidence that ticket sales went up after he returned. Vince doesn’t just forget that.
You can never accuse them of half-assing their production. That was the best stage ever. Of all time.
“DELETE, DELETE, DELETE.” Who wasn’t giddy when that music hit?
Why would they treat two of their best assets that way? John Cena hit the ground running that year when he won his 16th world title in a classic with AJ Styles, only has two weeks with the WWE Championship, the “stink-up-the-crowd” title match in Orlando, and then Jinder Mahal. Ugh.
Lesnar vs. Goldberg was exactly what it needed to be. It was an apology for 2004.
They inducted Diamond Dallas Page that year. Along with Goldberg’s run, maybe they were apologizing to WCW.
Roman became the second man to defeat Undertaker at WrestleMania, and he also became the fifth man to do the WrestleMania main event hat trick.
New Orleans, where streaks go to die.
Nakamura and Asuka winning their Royal Rumbles was Vince McMahon throwing us a bone, not signaling winds of change.
Ronda Rousey was the ultimate sink or swim, and there was also her partner Kurt Angle. Their tag match turned out better than expected. Hey Stephanie, why couldn’t you put that kind of effort.
The American Dragon returned to the ring where he had his greatest triumph.
The pieces fell into place well enough. While Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were heels, Shane McMahon bordered on villainy himself. Daniel Bryan knew the pain of an “authority” holding him back. Shane decided to concede, but KO and Sami just couldn’t leave well enough alone. They were truly the villains now.
It was euphoria for those in N’awlins seeing the man they brought to the main event do what he loved again.
That main event. Physical, hard-hitting, and legit bloody if not booked at a mediocre level.
Don’t mess with the X.