Top Ten Celtic Gods and Goddesses

The Celtic peoples used to inhabit most of western Europe, residing from Spain to eastern France and from northern Italy all the way to Ireland and Scotland. They even had pockets of civilization in areas such as modern day Turkey. Different groups of Celts had different deities, though some were shared among them. Before going down the list there are several important things to consider.

  1. The Celts had many more gods than other peoples, as they would have a special deity assigned to each individual spring, river, and natural landmark. This list only focuses on gods with greater spheres of influence.
  2. The Celts can be said to have several pantheons, although several popular gods crossover. There are Celtic gods unique to Hispania, Gaul, Britain, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland. Gods on the British isles tend to be shared more between different sub-groups of Celts. Thanks to the preservation of their myths and legends by writers, the Irish and Welsh are the most well-known (Irish gods will be referred to as the Tuatha De Danaan, meaning “Children of Danu”, Danu being a primal mother goddess).
  3. Because Celts did not produce images of their gods, or write down their myths, preferring oral tradition, information on most deities is rather scarce. Any images or information comes from their Roman conquerors, who believed that they were merely their own gods under different names. As a result, any images of Celtic gods were of Roman design, and made to fit the images of characters such as Zeus and Apollo.
  4. Celtic mythology is further muddled by Christianity. Celtic legends and myths were put to paper by Christian monks and other writers. Along with Christianizing many aspects of the tales, it’s believed that many of the heroes and other characters were originally gods turned into human, though still very incredible and supernaturally gifted characters. Suspected examples are Cuchulain and Merlin. This list only includes names that are definitely known to have been worshipped as gods.

10th. Britannia

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This familiar goddess was actually a Roman creation. Britain was finally conquered by the Romans under the rule of Emperor Claudius. Claudius was presented with an image of himself standing atop a defeated woman representing the island. Under Hadrian the woman started to appear in a far more dignified manner on coins and was even elevated to the status of goddess. The representation of Britain, Britannia was depicted as an Athena-like figure, paying homage to both the Greco-Roman world and the Celtic lands dominated by Rome. Like Athena, she wears a soldier’s helmet and a white dress. In her hands are a spear and a shield. She was later brought back on British coins in the 17th century. She became and still is one of the signature symbols of Great Britain, though the origins of the warrior woman on coins is unknown even by many British citizens. Although not an original Celtic god, she was nevertheless worshipped after the Roman invasion by both the island’s native inhabitants and its colonists.

9th. Taranis

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Taranis is the Gaelic god of thunder and the wheel. Like other deities from Gaul, no myths survive about him, only his functions as a god. Ancient statues and art show him as a bearded figure, holding a lightning bolt in his right hand and a wheel in the other. Romans saw him as the Celtic interpretation of Zeus thanks to his apparent ability to wield and throw lightning. As for the wheel, it was associated the cyclical nature of time and the sun. The six or eight spokes on wheels corresponded to major, annual Celtic festivals, and in fact the calendar for the Celts was the Wheel of the Year. Although most information about him has been lost, Taranis can be seen as one of the most important deities of ancient Gaul.

8th. Balor

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Balor was not worshipped, but still a god. He was the king of a race of monster-gods called the Fomorians. At one time they ruled Ireland until the Tuatha de Danaan, the gods the Irish worshipped, arrived. Balor was a giant, and his greatest weapon was a third eye on his forehead. The lid of the eye was so heavy that servants had to attach ropes to it in order to pry it open. Once this was done, the third eye would destroy anything in its gaze. In the beginning of his myth, Balor rules over Ireland, even having dominion over the Tuatha de Danaan. He learns that his grandson is prophesied to overthrow him. Locking his only child, the woman Ethniu, in a tower, he believes that his fate is averted. However, she is rescued and eventually gives birth to Lugh, god of light. Lugh sides with the Tuatha de Danaan. In the Battle of Mag Tuired, the Fomorians and Tuatha de Danaan fight to decide the fate of Ireland. Balor keeps the battle in the Fomorians’ favor, even killing the silver-armed king Nuada. But Lugh kills him, with a spear or slingshot depending on the interpretation. Balor’s eye is hit and it is sent out the back of his skull, vaporizing his own army. Balor is associated with the concept of the evil eye.

7th. Brigid

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Also known as Brigit and Bridget, Brigid is one of the most well-known Irish deities, and in a way is still worshipped today. She is the goddess of art, blooming of the spring season, healing, high dimensions, livestock, poetry, smithing, and springs. She was merged with the Christian St. Brigid. However, some scholars argue that, since St. Brigid is given such magical qualities and has conflicting and unclear biographies, that she is merely a Christianized form of the goddess. Many Catholics in Ireland and its neighboring isles still revere Brigid, and depending on how you view the saints, she could be considered a holdout from the pagan era. Although her Irish form is well-known, Brigid was actually a mother goddess worshipped all over Europe, known in Britain and Gaul as Brigantia.

6th. Epona

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Although performing the common function of a fertility goddess, Epona is more noted for her dominion over horses and all similar animals. In the ancient world, horses were an integral part of both land transportation and warfare, so much so that Epona received widespread popularity among non-Celts as well, with cults to her ranging all the way to North Africa. Roman cavalry in particular were fond of her. She is depicted riding sidesaddle on a white mare. Kings would symbolically marry her to affirm their royal status. Unfortunately, this involved actually having intercourse with a white mare and then killing the animal afterwards to distribute its body. The name Epona is familiar to gamers, as it was given to the hero Link’s horse in Nintendo’s Legend of Zelda series.

5th. Artio

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Yet another goddess of fertility and animals, Artio was noted for a specific association with bears. One uncovered statue shows a woman, believed to be Artio, seated on a throne and holding fruit. Approaching her is a bear, evidently being fed by her. No myths survive about Artio, but I think she’s a very cool goddess just from the fact that she is associated with bears. Bears had religious significance in Ancient Europe. In addition to being symbols of power, several prominent animal-shaped constellations were named after them, such as Ursa Major and Ursa Minor. It is debatable whether Artio’s bear association was related to hunting, protective power, or both. Romans saw her as Artemis/Diana, their goddess of the hunt who often transformed into a bear.

4th. Lugh/Lugus

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Lugh is the grandson of Fomori king Balor and the Irish god of light and crafts. Worshipped all over the British Isles, Lugh is most well known in Ireland, where he for a time serves as the king of its gods. Aside from killing Balor and bringing the Tuatha de Danaan to power, Lugh’s accomplishments also include creating a regular pan-Irish series of athletic games and fathering famed hero Cuchulain. Lugh is also the god of the spear, which in most versions is what he uses to kill Balor. His own personal, magic spear is incredibly sharp at its point, able to go through anything, and is one of the four great treasures of the Tuatha de Danaan. Many historians and others believe that Lugh was downgraded and heavily altered by Christian monks and scholars to the point that he became the leprechaun. This would indeed be a humiliating end for the savior and king of the Irish gods.

3rd. Cernunnos

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Cernunnos is one of the more well-known Gaelic gods thanks to several recovered pieces of artwork. These include the Pillar of the Boatmen and the Gundestrup Cauldron, showing Cernunnos as a man sitting cross-legged and adorned with stag antlers. Cernunnos, often referred to simply as the “horned god”, was associated with hunting, animals, fertility, and nature in general. Cernunnos, as a fatherly god associated with the male activity of hunting, might have a link to stag parties, as he himself has the horns of a stag. Thanks to his appearance, the “horned god” was equated with the devil in Medieval Europe.

2nd. Manannan Mac Lir

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Manannan Mac Lir is the main Celtic sea god, and appears quite often in surviving tales. He is a protector of Ireland, as the sea surrounds it. He himself is a master of magic, and he rides the ocean on a chariot driven by sea-horses (of the mythical equine kind, not the real ones). Other portrayals show him in a much more simple boat, using an oar to row himself around. The Isle of Man is named after him. According to one tale, the name is given from another god, Mac Cuil. Mac Cuil is not much of a god and actually practices thievery. However, he eventually converts to Christianity, changing his ways and spreading his new religion all over the island he is on. Manannan Mac Lir approaches him and sadly notes that in this new age his name will be forgotten. Mac Cuil assures him that as long as he himself remembers the sea god, The Isle of Man will keep its name, and thus the name of its god, alive.

1st. Morrigan

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Morrigan, the “Phantom Queen”, is the Irish goddess of war and death. She is perhaps the most feared deity, as she often appears in one of her various physical guises to let a warrior know death is around the corner. She might appear as a hag washing his armor, or as a bird sitting atop his future corpse. Morrigan’s main animal is the crow or raven, birds noted for hanging around battlefields to scavenge on the dead. Morrigan is responsible for the death of famed Irish hero Cuchulain. With a crush on him, she uses various disguises to gain his affections. Attempts to approach him in animal form see her getting wounded. With each rejection, her ire grows hotter and she eventually causes him to die in battle, resting on his shoulder as a crow to assure his enemies that he is truly dead. Morrigan is also a triple goddess, a confusing concept in which one deity is actually three separate individuals. Morrigan is Anand (or Anu), a goddess of fertility, Badb, a war goddess who transforms into a crow, and Macha, the death crone. Other versions have Morrigan as the third of another triple goddess.

Other Notable Celtic Gods

Aengus Mac Gog: Aengus is the closest thing the Celts have to a full on god of love.

Belenus: Gaulish god of healing and light, Belenus was equated with the ever-popular Apollo and thus was highly favored by Roman colonists.

Dagda: Powerful father of the Irish gods, Dagda wields a club while holding a cauldron

Danu: Danu is the mother of the Irish gods and in Welsh mythology is Don.

Ogma: Irish god of eloquence and learning, he is also a great warrior and wields a Fomorian sword.

Sucellus: Also known as the “Hammer God”, Sucellus carries a long-handled hammer and a bowl of what cold be wine. He is believed to be the god of agriculture and wine.

Sources

Cunliffe, Barry The Celtic World McGraw-Hill Book Company. 1979

Ellis, Peter Berresford The Mammoth Book of Celtic Myths and Legends Running Press Book Publishers. 1999

Stewart, R.J. Celtic Gods, Celtic Goddesses Sterling Publishing. 1990

Various Heroes of the Dawn: Celtic Myth Time-Life Books. 1996

Wikipedia

Pictures courtesy of Wikipedia, HowardJohnson.com, & Google Images

Top Ten Egyptian Gods and Goddesses

Like most polytheistic societies, the Egyptians had plenty of gods. There are at least a hundred confirmed deities (the actual number gets tricky when you consider that some gods were merged into one or others had alter egos), and they covered all aspects of life. Here are my ten favorite Egyptian gods and goddesses.

10th. Maahes

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The son of Ra, the sun god, and Bast, the cat goddess, Maahes is one of many protector/war deities. Taking after his mother, Maahes has the head of a feline, specifically a lion. Maahes has the cool distinction of being the god of knives, and is drawn holding two long knives. He’s also the god of lotus plants for some reason. The most fearsome and memorable aspect of Maahes is his treatment of prisoners of war: he ate them! Maahes is probably the one war god that enemies of Egypt would not want to meet. Maahes isn’t as well known in popular culture, possibly because he only appears in the myths as one of the deities protecting Ra (the sun) against the ravenous serpent of darkness Apep.

9th. Khnum

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With so many cults and changing views over thousands of years of history, Egyptian myths about creation are inconsistent. This applies to the origin of humans as well. Ptah was said to have used the power of thought to create humanity, but there is also the story of Khnum. The ram-headed Khnum literally builds humans out of clay. He makes two bodies for each individual, one physical and the other spirit. He then merges them to create the final product, though frog goddess Heket breathes the actual life into them. The center of worship for Khnum is the Nile island of Elephantine. Khnum is one of my favorites because the idea of fashioning humans by hand and breathing life from them brings into mind God’s creation of Adam and Eve.

8th. Ra

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Ra is the head honcho of the Egyptian pantheon, but I was hesitant about putting him higher on the list. This is because even though he literally is the sun, he actually comes across as a little weak and indecisive in many of the myths. Isis poisons him and makes him give up his secret name to that she can have magical power over him. When overseeing the meeting on whether Horus or Seth should have authority over Egypt, he can’t decide who to support. And despite having the powers of the sun at his disposal, he needs an entire entourage of fellow gods and the prayers of humans to fight off Apep. Still, Ra can be awesome, as he is the creator deity. In fact, Ra is an amalgamation of several deities. The Egyptians streamlined their religion by saying that Amun, Atum, and Khepri were actually alternate names and forms of Ra (which is why you might see Ra referred to as Amun-Ra). Ra is the father of most of the major gods and goddesses and is also the father of the pharaohs. So while he may look weak or gullible in some of the myths, Ra still has an indispensable function in Egyptian culture.

7th. Set

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Set is one of two Egyptian gods that can actually be considered a villain. He is the god of chaos, the desert, storms, violence, and later foreigners as well. Most of these things aren’t highly regarded. Still, Set did have some respect among worshippers due to his power. He is one of the chief defenders of Ra, standing at the front of the sun god’s sun barque in order to stave off Apep. His most vile act and establishing moment of villainy is murdering his brother Osiris in an attempt to gain his throne, and then spending decades trying to kill his son Horus, as well as battling Osiris’ wife Isis. Set eventually loses for good, but is compensated for his loss with multiple wives from the Canaanite pantheon (in an early example of a crossover story). Historically, Set’s popularity with Egyptian worshippers took a huge hit when the invading Hyksos took over and made him the chief deity. Set is a jerk, but he does provide most of the interesting conflict in the actual myths. Other common names for him are Seth and Setesh. No one knows for sure what his animal head comes from. It could be a fictional creature to symbolize his authority over chaos, or it could be a portrayal of a jackal or aardvark, creatures that dwell in the desert and wilderness.

6th. Sobek

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I only put Sobek in the top ten for one reason: he’s a crocodile! In addition to being a patron for one of the coolest animals, Sobek represents royal, protective, and military power. Sobek is either depicted as a man with a crocodile head or just a crocodile wearing a crown. Historically, Priests raised crocodiles and dressed them up as Sobek in honor of the god, even directing their prayers at the reptiles. He had several centers of worship, one which was actually once called Crocodopolis. Some of Sobek’s most devout worshippers went as far as to merge him with Ra, effectively making him the number one god.

5th. Apep

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Apep is the other villain of Egyptian mythology, an embodiment of darkness and chaos. Unlike Set, he has no functions that make him an object of worship. In fact, priests would utter prayers against him. Apep is usually in the form of a great black serpent, constantly seeking to destroy Ra and thus the sun, ending all life and light. At night, Apep attacks Ra’s sun barque while it is in the underworld. When the sun rises, it means Ra has won, as he usually does. However, if there’s an eclipse, it means Apep has won a rare, though temporary victory. Apep makes the list because he’s one of the rare fully evil gods, and possibly the most powerful. I wonder why he isn’t used as the main villain in popular culture as much, with Set and (mistakenly) Anubis often getting that role. Another name for Apep is Apophis. Ancient Egyptians actually didn’t want him killed, as they thought this would upset the balance of the universe and destroy everything.

4th. Hathor/Sekhmet

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Hathor is one of the most popular goddesses in Egyptian history. This is natural, as she is the goddess of love, mothers, birth, fertility, music, dancing, and miners. Except for maybe miners, all of these things are very popular with humankind. Although much art and statues show her with a cow head, this is actually not her primary form and is more symbolic of her role as a fertility goddess. In fact, she may be the most beautiful goddess, and often dances naked before Ra to cheer him up when he’s down. What really puts Hathor in the top five is her alter ego as Ra’s avenger Sekhmet. As Sekhmet, she gains a lion’s head. In one myth, Ra responds to rebellion by unleashing her on humanity. However, she grows so enamored with drinking the blood of her victims that she won’t stop. Ra just wants to teach humanity a lesson, not make them extinct. Taking the advice of some other gods, Ra creates a wine that looks and smells like blood. Sekhmet drinks it up and passes out, enabling her transformation back into Hathor. Hathor’s close relationship with Ra gives her the title “Eye of Ra”.

3rd. Horus

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Horus, often depicted with a falcon’s head or even as a human child, is the god of the sky, the sun, war, and protection. But his most important duty is as the god of pharaohs. Pharaohs are the physical human embodiments of Horus. Horus has a decades-long war with Set, which sees him lose his left eye. Horus is born with solar power in his eyes, giving him power over day, but now he is missing one. Thoth intervenes and creates a lunar eye, giving Horus power over both day and night. Horus has a couple other interesting encounters with Set. One sees them turn into hippos and fight each other, which ends indecisively thanks to Isis throwing harpoons at them. Another actually has Set attempting and failing to rape Horus, as semen was given magical qualities by ancient Egyptians and could theoretically be used as a weapon. Ra and Osiris may be the most powerful gods, but Horus gave the pharaohs the divine right to rule, justifying their authority.

2nd. Thoth

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Thoth is the god of art, diplomacy, knowledge, writing, and the moon (he has to share the moon with Khonsu). His favorite animals are the ibis bird and the baboon, and he takes their forms. What makes Thoth so awesome is that he’s really smart, and that he even though he’s not the type that fights, he still helps Horus and Isis achieve final victory over Set. He can usually be found at Ra’s side as his personal secretary, even joining in to help fight off Apep when they travel through the underworld. In the afterlife, he records the results of weighing of the souls, helping decide who can travel to paradise and who will have their soul consumed by the monstrous Ammit. Thoth is also a nerd, being the creator and patron of astronomy, botany, geometry, math, medicine, and theology. Much of his knowledge is contained in the Book of Thoth.

1st. Isis

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Arguably the most popular Egyptian deity (even being worshipped by Romans until well into their decline), Isis is the goddess of children, love, and motherhood. She also responds to the prayers of all people, with particular interest for common people and those in hard positions, even slaves. Most important to the actual myths, she is the goddess of magic. Egyptians were obsessed with magic. To them it was very real. Isis uses magic to protect and aid Horus in his war with Set, and on a couple occasions uses trickery to gain power over Ra, such as the time she learns his secret name. In her greatest feat, she is able to resurrect Osiris’ body in order to have sex and give birth to Horus (Osiris is resurrected for good later, but becomes the god of the dead while Horus takes his place in the world of the living). Isis was even more popular than Horus, and was the center of a major cult in Roman-dominated Egypt. Isis is perhaps the strongest female deity in character and power, in world as well as Egyptian mythology, which ensures her top spot on this list.

Book vs. Movie: Jurassic Park

Book vs. Movie: Jurassic Park

With Jurassic World coming out, I decided to compare one of my favorite novels with its film adaptation (and also a movie that’s in my top ten).

The Novel: For most of the 1980s, Michael Crichton tried to come up with a tale concerning cloned dinosaurs. Rationalizing that no company would spend billions, if not trillions of dollars, just to clone dinosaurs for science’s sake, he came up with the idea of a theme park, as such a park would draw in enough money to make up for such a large budget. He wrote many drafts, all of which were heavily criticized by those he sent them to. He learned that the main problem was that the title character was a kid, so he rewrote the entire story from an adult perspective. In 1990, Jurassic Park was finally published and became a bestseller. It remains Crichton’s most well-known work, though the release of the film in 1993 certainly helped with that.

The Movie: Spielberg and Crichton actually talked about Jurassic Park a year before the novel was even published. Acclaimed director/producer Steven Spielberg was interested in someday making a movie based off of his work. Universal Studios won a bidding war to obtain he rights, with the understanding that Spielberg would get to direct it. Spielberg was more passionate about doing Schindler’s List and then Jurassic Park, but depressing holocaust films were considered a little risky, so he was told that he first had to make a profitable blockbuster with dinosaurs first before he could move on to his current passion project. The movie, with its cutting-edge CGI effects as well as Spielberg’s great filmmaking in general, was a smash hit, almost hitting the billion dollar mark at the box office.

Tons of people have seen the movie and the book itself is also highly regarded. Which is better? We will look at three things. First there is the main plot and themes. Second is a comparison of all the characters in their book and film incarnations. Third is the dinosaurs themselves.

The Plot

Both the movie and the film basically have the exact same plot. John Hammond, head of InGen, brings a couple paleontologists, a chaos mathematician, a lawyer representing his investors’ interests, and a couple kids to test out his park, which happens to have real dinosaurs. It is learned that these extinct animals were brought back using DNA extracted from prehistoric mosquitoes, which drank the blood of dinosaurs. Due to several flaws in the system, as well as the carelessness of Hammond and some of his employees, security breaks down and dinosaurs start to roam the island, many of them ferocious carnivores who start picking off the humans.

Where the plot in the book and film separates is how the situation is resolved. In the movie the characters, spread out over the island, work to reunite and then make their escape, abandoning the dinosaurs. It should be noted that for some reason Spielberg decided to have the bulk of the island’s personnel leave on a ship right before things fall apart, leaving a very small cast of characters to fend for themselves. In the novel, however, no one leaves the island. With all of the security, technicians, engineers, doctors, etc. remaining, much of the island is actually brought back under control. They even manage to recapture the T-Rex. Instead of the mad dash for freedom in the movie, the survivors just calmly evacuate the island before the Costa Rican military arrives to bomb it out.

The novel also features another major plotline absent from the film. Right before communications are knocked out, the tour group see a ship leaving the island for the Costa Rican mainland, and notice that several Velociraptors have sneaked aboard. So not only is Dr. Alan Grant trying to get himself and Tim and Lex back to the island’s visitor center, he is trying to warn everyone that the boat needs to be stopped before highly intelligent and dangerous dinosaurs are unleashed on the mainland. This was understandably cut from the film for pacing and a tighter script. Likewise, Spielberg cuts out the opening of the book. The first thirty pages of the novel features Procomsognathusids, tiny scavengers, sneaking around the mainland and arousing the suspicions of local doctors and scientists with their attacks on humans.

Overall, despite many differences, the plotlines of both the novel and the film are basically the same. The T-Rex attack on the tour group and the showdown with the Velociraptors in the novel even occur at roughly the same time in the plot in the movie. The smaller parts of the plot are pretty different, though, but neither really superior to the other. The movie has less in it, but that’s because it needs to fit within a couple hours as well as move much faster.

Themes

As with the plot, the themes in the novel and the film are basically the same. In each, John Hammond and InGen are driven by excessive ambition. They think little of the consequences of bringing back dinosaurs in a modern world, as well as the potential effect they could have on ecosystems should they escape. In the words of Ian Malcolm, “Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should”. InGen carelessly uses the power of genetic cloning and brings about disastrous results. One such careless oversight is the use of living animal DNA to fill in the gaps. As well as creating dinosaurs that are actually not perfect copies of their true selves, it gives them several biological differences that thwart the wishes of their creators. InGen makes all of their dinosaurs female so as to avoid breeding, a smart control measure. However by using the DNA of amphibians that can change gender in several of their species, they enable some of them to turn male, meaning that some of the dinosaur populations are actually growing, most terrifyingly the velociraptors. This ties into another theme, that man cannot control nature. Despite their best efforts to make a controlled environment, InGen finds their creations running amok and doing things that they were designed not to.

The other major theme is the radical shift in paleontological views on dinosaurs. This shift started in the 1960s. Prior to the 1960s, dinosaurs were for the most part envisioned as slow-witted lumbering creatures, often depicted as living in swamps. Then several paleontologists began to theorize that dinosaurs were actually warm-blooded and could act much more quickly, more akin to mammals and birds in their movement and lifestyle. However, it took Michael Crichton’s novel, as well as Spielberg’s film adaptation, to popularize the idea that dinosaurs were not sluggish lizards, but highly active animals. The T-Rex is hunched over, rather than squatting back on its feet and dragging its tail. The Velociraptors are intelligent and graceful pack hunters who can leap onto rooftops and sometimes even outwit the humans. Instead of residing in swamps as depicted in past pop culture, the Brachiosaurs travel in herds across fields and tall forests, using their height advantage to grab high up veggies.

These themes are heavily present in both the book and the movie, though more so in the novel as Crichton doesn’t have a two hour running time to limit. If you read the novel for the first time, expect pages of dialogue from Ian Malcolm touching on ideas of corporate and scientific irresponsibility.

The Characters

Warning! Spoilers abound here as to who survives or dies in the different versions. Skip to the last paragraph if you want to avoid them and see which has better characters.

Most of the characters in the novel make it to the movie, but to those who saw the movie first, they will be surprised by how different many of them come off in the novel. The question here is, which has characters we’re more invested in, the book or the movie?  While they share most of the characters, many of them are very different. In fact, the most startling differences in the film adaptation come from how characters are changed. Here’s a rundown of each character in both book and film form, as well as a couple that didn’t make if off the pages of the novel.

What should be noted is that Crichton has a limited type of character he uses. Each character is basically defined by his or her job. They might say some jokes, but otherwise they are full of exposition related to their expertise. Ellie Sattler is a paleontologist with a specific interest in paleobotany, so she provides the reader information about extinct plants.  John Raymond Arnold is an engineer, so he just talks about how the park was made and how it’s maintained. In Spielberg’s films these characters are given more personality and quirks.

Alan Grant (Sam Neil)

Book: Alan Grant is a paleontologist and can be considered the primary protagonist in both the novel and the film, as he and kids Tim and Lex are the ones who are stuck in the wilds of the park. In the novel he has to protect the kids from not just one, but several T-Rex attacks. While on a raft he also has to keep them safe from several other species, including Pteranodons. Crichton has him travel through much of the island because he’s a paleontologist. This way he can provide readers the names and details of all the dinosaurs he comes across. It’s worth noting that Grant loves kids in the novel, since they tend to share his enthusiasm for dinosaurs.

Movie: The Alan Grant of the film, however, hates kids, finding them obnoxious. This gives him a character arc. Initially doing his best to avoid Hammond’s grandchildren, he ends up having to bring them back to the visitor center, and ends up doing a really good job interacting with them. By the end of the film it is implied that he now loves kids and may even end up having some with Dr. Ellie Satler

Winner: Movie. Alan Grant is likeable enough in the book, but the way her warms up to Tim and Lex in the movie makes him endearing.

Ellie Satler (Laura Dern)

Book: In the novel Sattler is actually still a graduate student in her low twenties. One of two major female characters, she doesn’t really do all that much, spending most of the time in the main compound listening to Malcolm’s philosophizing against Hammond. It’s not until the raptors attack that she starts getting involved.

Movie: Sattler is much closer to Alan Grant in age, making her more of an equal in her knowledge of prehistoric life and also adding some romantic tension. She also actually has a personality. The Sattler of the novel doesn’t add much, but here she has a very sweet personality and does a lot more, going out with Robert Muldoon on missions.

Winner: Movie. As with Alan Grant, Ellie Sattler is much more endearing in the film, and plays a much bigger role, doing things done by other characters in the book.

Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum)

Book: Ian Malcolm is the most fascinating character in the novel. However, this is more due to the fact that as a chaos mathematician and the vessel for Crichton’s views, his dialogue naturally comes off as more engaging and intriguing. He is the voice of reason and morality, and after getting injured he spends the bulk of the novel mocking John Hammond and modern science in general. He actually dies before the book ends, like a prophet having fulfilled his task (He actually turns out to be alive in the sequel Lost World and goes to a secondary InGen site where he somehow becomes an expert in evolutionary theory as well).

Movie: Malcolm is my favorite character in the movie, mainly because of Goldblum’s performance. He is said to have a “rock star personality” in both the novel and film, and he embodies it much more in the latter. He has the same blunt personality of the novel version, but also a sense of humor, making him both the voice of reason and the comic relief. As in the novel, he gets injured in the Tyrannosaur attack and spends the rest of the time sitting in the main compound. Unlike the novel he for the most part abandons attacking Hammond with his criticisms and just makes humorous remarks until finally getting off the island alive.

Winner: Movie. Ian Malcolm is the best character in the novel, but he’s still better in the film because he is so well-written and well-acted. There’s a reason he was brought back as the central protagonist in both the novel and film The Lost World.

John Hammond (Richard Attenborough)

Book: Crichton has one other character type which he unfortunately keeps resorting to, the evil high-ranking member of the corporation, in this case CEO of InGen John Hammond. Hammond is completely unlikeable, motivated purely by profit, as well as fame for helping bring back dinosaurs. He tries to save money in “small” areas like a raise for his chief computer scientist and military-grade weapons for Muldoon in case any large dinosaurs break loose (these cutbacks prove disastrous for everybody). He cares little for the safety of the other characters as the park descends into deeper and deeper chaos, and spends the entirety of the situation inside the visitor center. By the time everyone is safe, he blames everything on his chief employees and plans to rebuild the park, not having learned his lesson at all. He then receives a rather humiliating death when he trips and falls into a ditch where a herd of Procomsognathusids eat him alive.

Movie: Hammond’s character does a complete 180 for the film. This time he’s a whimsical, well-meaning old man who dreams of letting everyone experience the wonder of live dinosaurs. He even shuts down lawyer Genarro’s idea of charging massive ticket prices, because he wants as much people as possible to enjoy his park. When things get out of control his top priority is trying to rescue everyone on the island, while in the novel he delusionally believes that things will work out. This time around he survives, saddened and having learned his lesson. It should be noted that while Ian Malcolm wears all black, something taken from the novel, Spielberg has Hammond wear all white to create a further contrast between the characters.

Winner: Movie. The Hammond of the novel is stock corporate villain you can find in a kids’ cartoon. The one in the movie is flawed and makes great mistakes, but he’s just so earnest and loveable.

Donald Gennaro (Martin Ferrero)

Book: Gennaro gets some blame for his involvement with the park since he helped give John Hammond further investors. Otherwise, he’s actually a pretty cool character. He’s an attorney sent to investigate the safety of the island, as several small incidents have occurred. Instead of being eaten off of a toiler by a T-Rex, he actually spends the rest of the novel helping park security. He helps recapture the T-Rex and plays a major part in restoring power, something that Ellie Sattler does in the film. He even wrestles a Velociraptor and wins!

Movie: Gennaro, like Hammond, does a 180 for the film. Here he is actually combined with Ed Regis, the head of InGen’s public relations. Like Regis, he is greedy. Also like him he abandons the children and gets killed by a T-Rex.

Winner: Book. While having a jerkass getting his comeuppance is nice, Gennaro in the novel is just too likeable, someone who represents InGen, but prioritizes helping others survive when things go wrong.

Robert Muldoon (Bob Peck)

Book: Muldoon’s book and movie forms are very similar. In each he notes the dangerous intelligence of the Velociraptors and wants them destroyed, and takes a large part in trying to restore some semblance of order to the park. Characteristics unique to the novel include a mustache and his willingness to get drunk.

Movie: Muldoon is pretty much the same, just not as badass since he never takes down the T-Rex and gets killed by the Velociraptors.

Winner: Book. Muldoon’s character is pretty much the same in each version. His awesome feats in the novel make his book version the winner.

John Arnold (Samuel Jackson)

Book: Arnold is a chain-smoking engineer who used to work in amusement parks. With so much money offered by InGen, he sets up the system for Jurassic Park and shares Hammond’s optimism that things will soon be back under control. Also like Hammond, he finds himself a constant target of Malcolm’s monologues and criticisms. His efforts to restore all power continually fail or cause more problems. As in the film he is killed by a Velociraptor while trying to restore power in the generator room.

Movie: Arnold has a somewhat smaller role in the film, though being played by Samuel Jackson makes him more entertaining.

Winner: Movie. I mainly chose the film version because of Samuel Jackson, plus all of his major talking points and characteristics from the book make it to the movie so it’s not like we missed out on anything.

Dennis Nedry (Wayne Knight)

Book: Nedry is an obese computer scientist who plays a major role in keeping Jurassic Park’s systems running. However, because the park requires so much extra work on his part, he wants a raise. Hammond refuses, since he wants to cut costs. He therefore takes a bribe from a rival company and shuts off large chunks of the park’s security systems so he can sneak dinosaur embryos to a waiting boat before returning to work and attributing the power failures to a glitch. He is brutally killed by a Dilophosaurus, but not before his actions enable several dinosaurs to break free.

Movie: Nedry actually garners a little sympathy in the novel, since he’s being horrendously underpaid, but in the film he is completely unlikable. Otherwise, everything winds up the same for him.

Winner: Book. Nedry shows a little more intelligence in the novel. While he shuts off some fences, he has the sense to keep the security on the Velociraptors intact. Also, treating a Dilophosaurus like a dog is pretty stupid, however funny the scene is.

Tim and Lex (Joseph Mazzello and Ariana Richards)

Book: Tim and Lex are Hammond’s grandchildren. Tim is a big fan of dinosaurs and also quite proficient with computers, helping restore internal security systems during the Velociraptor sequence. He turns out to be a pretty competent character. Lex, his younger sister, is a different story, talking about how bored she is by the dinosaurs and continually screaming and making noises that attract predators. She’s just awful and if I wasn’t concerned about Tim’s feelings I probably would have rooted for one of the dinosaurs to eat her.

Movie: Tim is the same, except his computer skills are transferred to Lex, who is now his older sister. Fortunately, Lex loses her whiny behavior from the novel and is actually useful towards the end.

Winner: Movie. Tim is pretty much the same in either version, but Lex in the novel is intolerable.

Others

Book: Dr. Wu plays a large role in the novel, helping explain the cloning process and sticking around for the finale, where he is killed by the Velociraptors. He is firmly in InGen’s camp, believing that he has created perfectly manageable dinosaurs. He appears for one scene in the film and leaves the island on a boat. Another character with a larger presence in the novel is Dr. Gerry Harding, a veterinarian. In both versions he tries to heal an animal with Ellie Sattler. He leaves for the boat in the movie, but in the novel sticks around to help fight off the raptors. The final character to appear in both versions is Lewis Dodgson, who bribes Nedry into stealing embryos. He is a scientist working for a rival corporation in the book, but gives off the appearance of a shady stooge in the film.

Overall, the characters are better in the movie. Crichton doesn’t add much personality or quirks and makes most of them mouthpieces for their respective fields of expertise. Spielberg knows how to make entertaining and memorable characters for a fun two hour film.

The Dinosaurs

It’s great seeing dinosaurs on the screen, but movies have budgets. In Spielberg’s Jurassic Park the dinosaurs only appear for about fifteen to twenty minutes. Novels have no budget except paper, so Crichton offers much more species.

The film features one T-Rex. The novel actually has a second one, a juvenile. Likewise, where there’s a trio of Velociraptors in the movie, there is an entire pack in the book, which is also able to breed. By the end there are dozens of baby raptors. The film provides on sick Triceratops, while the novel features a whole herd. Other dinosaurs in the film include herds of Brachiosaurus, Parasaurolophus, and Gallimimus, as well as the frilled, venom-spewing Dilophosaurus. There’s said to be much more, but we never see them.

If you want lots of dino scenes, the novel is actually better. We get to see Apatosaurus, Maiasaura, lots of Procompsognathus, and many others. There are even Pteranodons who swoop in at Grant and the kids. The final Velociraptor attack is much more epic. The movie version is definitely scarier, with kids trying to hide while inches away dinosaurs are sniffing and clawing around, but the book has them jumping onto buildings, going up against shotguns, killing off InGen employees left and right, and slowly but surely gnawing their way through bars to get into the visitor center. The one thing the movie does way better is the climax. In the novel, Grant poisons some eggs and rolls them along the floor, causing the raptors to chase them and bite into them, thus killing themselves. In the movie we get the badass save by the T-Rex, who battles the raptors and lets the survivors make their escape.

The one dinosaur the movie does better is the Dilophosaurus. Crichton used his imagination and gave them venom, which they could actually spit. Spielberg takes it even further by giving them a pop-up frill and some scary sound effects. Like the Velociraptor, Dilophosaurus gained much popularity Jurassic Park, and also made for a pretty cool action figure.

So dinosaurs are better in the novel if you want a lot more of them. But seeing them on screen with Stan Winston and Phil Tippet’s special effects is still amazing today.

So Which is Better?

I’m going to have to chicken out and make this a tie. Without budgetary and time constraints, the novel is able to offer more dinosaurs and a lot more information on how Jurassic Park was built and why it failed. The movie has far better characters, plus the special effects and John Williams’ musical score. I would recommend that you both read the novel and see the movie. Despite sharing the same basic plot and themes, they are actually pretty different from each other. So if you grew up watching the movie, you can still have a fresh experience reading the novel.

Extreme Rules 2015

Date: April 26, 2015

Venue: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois

Bad News Barrett vs. Neville (8/10)

Set-Up: This was supposed to be Barrett having his rematch with Daniel Bryan for the Intercontinental Title, but Bryan’s injuries have sadly been acting up again. Barrett was moved to the pre-show, while the tag team match was moved to the main card. Barrett still wanted to fight, so newcomer from NXT Adrian Neville was brought out to compete.

The Match: Barrett knocks down Neville with a shoulder block. Neville turns an arm drag into a pinfall attempt. Barrett takes charge before Neville handstands multiple times to back away. Neville sends Barrett outside with a leg scissors takedown and dropkick. He dives outside, but is caught and slammed onto the apron. He is then tossed into the barrier and we get a commercial break! Even the pre-show matches for PPVs are supposed to air uninterrupted. After a commercial plugging the WWE Network that I’m already using, we get back to the match to see Neville in a headlock. This is starting to look a little too much like an episode of Raw. Barrett knees Neville in the abdomen. The high-flier tries to get out of his situation with a head scissors, but gets kicked in the gut for his troubles. Barrett makes  failed pin and gets Neville in the corner, where he clubs him in the back. Neville finally gets some offense again with a kick over the top rope, but he immediately runs into a boot.

Neville kicks out again and Barrett uses the top rope for extra leverage on a backbreaker. Barrett applies a headlock. Neville manages to punch his way out and delivers a few more fists once he escapes. He slides under Barrett, who turns into a kick to the head. Barrett is knocked outside and Neville dives onto him. Back inside, Neville hits a German suplex pin, which looks very impressive since he’s way shorter than Barrett. Barrett kicks out and Neville goes to the corner for the Red Arrow. Barrett stops him and hits Winds of Change. Neville manages to kick out just in time. Barrett sets him up for Wasteland. Neville escapes to the other side of the ropes and jumps at Barrett, only to be caught in another Wasteland attempt. Barrett hits his secondary finisher, but Neville kicks out in the nick of time. Barrett attacks with the Bull Hammer. Neville ducks and hits an enziguri. With Barrett on the mat, Neville climbs the turnbuckle for the Red Arrow. Barrett gets up and throws another Bull Hammer. Neville jumps over it, knocks down Barrett, and hits the Red Arrow for the win.

Thoughts: This was a fantastic match! I’m so glad Neville is on the main roster now. He’s having consistently great matches and his tiny stature really gives him an underdog quality. There was never a dull moment here. Even the long heel beatdown kept me entertained throughout. If there is one complaint, it’s that Barrett’s Wasteland should really be a finisher like it used to be. The announcers always act like it’s final when he hits it, but then everyone kicks out of it.

Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper in a Street Fight

Set-Up: Basically, two of the madmen of the WWE, Lunatic Fringe Dean Ambrose and large sweaty hillbilly Luke Harper, kept getting into brawls, resulting in undecided matches. It was decided that they could get their feud over with in a street fight.

Ambrose charges Harper before he can enter the ring. After a light beating he throws him in and the match officially starts. Ambrose hits a crossbody and knocks Harper back out with a jump kick. He throws him into the steel steps. Ambrose pulls a kendo stick from under the ring and whales on his opponent in the ring. Ambrose also grabs a chair, but actually sits on it while looking over a beaten Harper. He sets the chair down and gets Harper in position for a suplex. Harper manages to reverse their positions and hits the suplex instead. He grabs the kendo stick and gets revenge for earlier.  Harper sets the chair up in the corner. Ambrose goes for a DDT, but finds himself whipped into the chair. Ambrose recovers fast and suplexes Harper onto the same object. He hits a top rope DDT, followed by a series of punches and chops. Harper gets off his sidekick, but the Lunatic Fringe shrugs it off and hits him with a dropkick, followed by a flying elbow from the turnbuckle. Harper shoves Ambrose off as he goes for Dirty Deeds. Ambrose does his patented clothesline off the ropes, but is cut short with a boot. They take the fight outside the ring. Harper whips Ambrose against the ring, but he manages to pull himself onto the apron and spin around. Ambrose gets the upper hand and chases Harper backstage. After a brawl in the production area Harper knocks down Ambrose and gets into a big car. Just as he gets the engines going, Ambrose leaps the passenger seat and they drive out of the arena!

To be continued…

Dolph Ziggler vs. Sheamus (7/10)

Set-Up: The night after Wrestlemania, Sheamus made his big return from injury with a new look: a mohawk and braided beard.  Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler, who had just had a grueling Intercontinental Title match, were being laid out by Bad News Barrett. Sheamus rushed in to drive off Barrett, and then Brogue kicked Bryan and Ziggler, turning heel. Over the next several weeks he talked about how everybody had forgotten about him and now he was going to take out the fancy high-flyers. He set his sights on Dolph Ziggler and got a Kiss Me Arse Match. The loser would have to kiss the ass of the winner.

The Match: Sheamus slaps Ziggler. Ziggler flies off the handle and tears into him. After a dropkick he charges the Irishman and they fall to the outside. Sheamus throws Ziggler into the steel steps. Ziggler comes back with his leaping DDT. They go back inside, where Sheamus hits what looks like the knee version of the Brogue kick. He knees Ziggler in the head again and hits him with a series of clubs. “Kiss my arse!” exclaims Sheamus. Ziggler escapes a headlock, only to be hit with a sit-out powerbomb and almost pinned. Sheamus hits a short-arm clothesline. “Little fellas don’t belong my ring!” Ziggler escapes another headlock and makes his comeback with punches, forearms, and then two splashes to the corner. Sheamus knocks him down on another splash and starts applying the Cloverleaf. Ziggler reverses it into a pin. Sheamus kicks out and gets superkicked. Ziggler covers him again and Sheamus kicks out. Sheamus catches him mid-charge and hits the Irish Curse Backbreaker. He throws hi shoulder first into the ring post. Sheamus charges with the Brogue Kick. Ziggler counters this into a roll-up. Sheamus escapes and goes for a basic suplex. Ziggler reverses this and actually gets a three-count!

After the match, Sheamus spends three minutes whining, aghast that he has to kiss Ziggler on the butt cheek. He is finally made by the ref to get on his knees. Ziggler pulls up his tights. Sheamus low blows him and hits a Brogue Kick. He pulls up his own tights and rubs Ziggler’s face against it. WWE officials make no attempt to have him honor the rules the next night on Raw.

Thoughts: This match could have been great. In fact, it was going great. Sheamus really looked dominant and Ziggler only beat him by turning on the speed and countering at the right moments. The match could have gone on for at least another two to three minutes. There were also several big signature moves that they never even attempted, such as Ziggler’s Zig Zag. The post-match stuff went on a little long and it’s ridiculous that you can just decide to ignore the match stipulation if you don’t want to do it.

The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (c) for the Tag Team Title (9/10)

Set-Up: WWE Creative saw a bunch of black wrestlers with no storylines, so they decided to throw three of them (Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods) into a faction called the New Day. Instead of doing something awesome they, like most black wrestlers in the WWE, were turned into smiling, dancing characters. Their gimmick seems to be that of over-positive people that like to clap. The fans quickly turned on them, chanting “New Day Sucks” in rhythm with their claps. By contrast, the heel team of Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, the latter treating his wife Natalya Neidhart crap, were being cheered because they were both excellent in-ring wrestlers who guaranteed exciting matches. Cesaro and Kidd won the tag title at Fastlane and retained at Wrestlemania. The New Day started to acknowledge the fan hatred and tried to stay positive, but slowly found themselves turning villainous as Xavier Woods started cheating to get them major victories. One such victory earned them a title match at Extreme Rules.

The Match: Kofi Kingston and Tyson Kidd start off. Kidd gets a lock on Kingston’s arm, twisting it around the middle rope. After a backslide pin attempt, they tag in Cesaro and Big E. Cesaro catches Big E and slams him. He and Kidd double team him in the corner. Kingston and Kidd are tagged back in. Kingston throws out Kidd and goes for an outside dive. Kidd catches him with a kick and Kingston is thrown to the floor. Kidd flies onto him and then gets clothesline by Big E. Back in the ring, Kingston dropkicks Kidd a couple times and makes a failed pin. Big E is tagged in. Kidd avoids a body splash. Big E charge him and he pulls down the top rope, sending the big guy flying outside. Cesaro is tagged in and slams Kingston. He then whips him back and forth between two of the corners, delivering running uppercuts each time.  Cesaro hits a clothesline and catapults Kingston into a turnbuckle. Kingston counters into a crossbody, but is caught and slammed. Cesaro hits a superplex.

This whole time Xavier Woods has been outside freaking out at the “New Day Sucks” chants. Tyson Kidd tags in and hits Kingston with a flying elbow. Kingston stops him from locking on the Sharpshooter. Big E knocks Kidd to the floor. Cesaro charges him, but gets caught and dropped. Big E and Kingston hit their double team finisher. Cesaro breaks the pin and goes outside with Big E.  Kidd locks the sharpshooter on Kingston. Big E intervenes and just tosses Kidd across the ring. Cesaro tags in and uppercuts Big E. He and Kidd do their big swing/dropkick combo to Kingston. Cesaro goes for the pin, but Woods distracts the ref. Natalya slaps Woods, but the distraction already enables Kingston to grab Cesaro’s tights and roll him up for the win.

Thoughts: I can’t believe this match was going to be on the pre-show. It was the best of the night. There were no dull moments, Kingston and Kidd provided a lot of high-flying fun, and Cesaro and Big E are just so freakishly strong. I love the New Day as frustrated babyfaces turning heel in order to win. I think this is the first time Kofi Kingston has ever been heel. I might have been too generous with the rating, but this was the most thoroughly engrossing match of the night for me.

Backstage, Renee Young interviews a super-happy New Day. They are interrupted when a van crashes into the backstage area. It’s the same one Harper used to drive out of the arena!

Dean Ambrose vs. Luke Harper (8/10)

Harper is thrown out of the van. Ambrose stands on top of the car and flies off. Harper gets out of the way, but Ambrose bowls over the New Day! They brawl back into the ring, where Harper hits a superkick. Ambrose bounces back off the ropes with a clothesline. They grab a bunch of chairs from under the ring and throw them onto the mat. Harper gets the upper hand and powerbombs Ambrose onto a chair. He then buries him in a pile of chairs and goes up top. As Harper does a taunt, Ambrose escapes from the pile and slams his opponent onto the chairs. Ambrose hits Dirty Deeds and wins.

Thoughts: This was a highly entertaining street fight. In the current PG Era you can’t be too brutal, so you have to go for wild antics, such as leaving the arena while fighting inside a car or burying someone under a pile of chairs. It should be noted that this is Dean Ambrose’s first PPV win in almost a year.

Rusev (w/Lana) vs. John Cena (c) in a Russian Chain Match for the United States Title (7/10)

Set-Up: Angry over his Wrestlemania loss, Rusev attacked John Cena with a chain. In the WWE, all you have to do is attack somebody with a certain kind of weapon and it becomes a gimmick match. Last year, Seth Rollins kept putting John Cena through tables, so they made a tables match. Big Show and Eric Rowan threw stairs at each other, so they got a stairs match. So here Rusev and John Cena are in a chain match for the United State Title. It’s basically a strap match with a chain, meaning that you have to touch four corners in a row to win.

The Match: Rusev and Cena play tug-of-war. Rusev gets the first hit, whipping Cena into a corner and body splashing him. He hits two corners before Cena suplexes him. Cena gets all the way to three when he is hit in the back with a double axe handle. Rusev gets two corners, but can’t get to the third, so he throws Cena over the top rope. He goes outside and uses the chain, wrapped around the top rope, to string up Cena and lay into him with kicks and headbutts. Rusev suplexes Cena back into the ring. Cena manages to set up the Attitude Adjustment, but Rusev gets out of it and beats him with the chain. They end up outside, where Cena pulls Rusev into a ringpost twice. Cena hits two corners, but is pulled back into a heel kick. Rusev whips Cena some more. He gets up to three corners, but Cena moves outside the ring, preventing the Bulgarian from moving on to the fourth.

Rusev gets onto the turnbuckle to hit Cena some more, but is pulled off by the chain, on which he lands. Cena capitalizes by wrapping the chain around his hand and hitting him. He the hits some shoulder blocks, but gets caught in a fallaway slam. Rusev kicks him in the head and notices that Lana is posing for a cheering crowd. Angry at her for stealing some of the spotlight, he yells at her to go backstage. Lana complies.  Cena knocks down Rusev and hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Rusev counters the Attitude Adjustment into an Alabama Slam. He goes for the Accolade, but it is reversed into the STF using the chain. Cena gets up to three corners before Rusev recovers and pulls him back. Cena fails the Attitude Adjustment again, this time getting locked into the Accolade. Cena stands up and tries to knock off Rusev by ramming him into the corners, which proves to be stupid as he gives his enemy two corners. Rusev lets go and tries to finish up the count. But Cena recovers and they end up tied with three corners each. Cena pulls Rusev into an Attitude Adjustment attempt. This time he hits it and hits a fourth corner for the victory.

Thoughts: A lot of people complained about this match. I thought it was good, not great. The main problem was that the chain was a little too long, so they were getting up to three corners pretty fast. Also, the PG rating disabled them from trying any brutal stunts. Later on the show, Lana says that she has arranged an I Quit match at Payback between Rusev and Cena, which is pretty much the dumbest thing you can do. Cena never gives up, so an I Quit match also ends badly for his opponents.

Nikki Bella (c) (w/Brie Bella) vs. Naomi for the Diva’s Title (5/10)

Set-Up: Naomi won a bunch of matches, establishing herself as a No. 1 contender for the Women’s Title. However, Director of Operations Kane was bugged by a bunch of other divas into making a battle royal to determine the challengers. Naomi lost to Paige in the finale and flipped out, beating Paige so badly that she regained her contendership. This is actually a heel vs. heel match, since the Bellas are still cheating to win matches and Naomi now has a bad attitude.

The Match: Naomi comes out wearing some awful, garish gear, including neon boots which flash different colors and ridiculous 3D glasses. Naomi drives Nikki against the ropes. Nikki pushes back and locks on an armbar. Naomi breaks the hold by getting her leg in the ropes. Naomi dominates with an elbow, suplex, headlock, and a slam. She makes a couple pinfall attempts, but Nikki keeps kicking out. Nikki gets a roll-up, but Naomi kicks out and bulldogs her into a lower turnbuckle. Naomi is slammed into a corner. She responds with a kick to Nikki’s head. Naomi takes the match outside, where she kicks Brie Bella. Nikki gets in a flurry of offense with a kick, lariat, two dropkicks, a clothesline, and an Alabama slam. Naomi kicks out and hits a neck breaker drop. She goes for a moonsault, but Nikki dodges it. Nikki lifts her for the Rack Attack, but Naomi slips out of it. Nikki kicks Naomi towards the ropes, where Brie delivers her own kick. Naomi is hit with the Rack Attack and pinned.

Thoughts: This was an okay match. It’s nice to see the female wrestlers actually getting more time and winning without roll-ups. Still, WWE tends to push women based on looks rather than in-ring ability, so they aren’t the best wrestlers.

Big Show vs. Roman Reigns in a Last Man Standing Match (8/10)

Set-Up: After losing his world title match at Wrestlemania and having Orton go after Rollins, Roman Reigns found himself a little directionless. He was moved into a feud with Authority member the Big Show and fans groaned. They were even more frustrated when they learned it was going to be a Last Man Standing Match. For the past few years the Big Show has become a very slow wrestler, so a match built around people knocking each other down and waiting for the ref to count to ten sounded very unappealing. Could they make this a good, or at least entertaining match?

The Match: They trade punches and kicks before Reigns runs into a shoulder from the Big Show. Big Show knocks him down again. Reigns goes outside and grabs a table from under the ring. The Big Show hits him and actually puts the effort in putting it back!  Reigns knocks him into the ring post and hits a running dropkick. Reigns gets the table again and sets it up. The Big Show throws him into the barricade. Show then uses his hand to smash the table! Since the tables thing isn’t working out, Reigns gets a Kendo stick, but Show turns the tide and slams him into a post. Reigns is down. He gets up around the count of six. The Big Show snaps the Kendo stick. He seems to be focused on removing every weapon from this match. Back in the ring, Reigns boots a charging Show in the face. He lunges at him with a punch, but is cut off. The ref gets to six before Reigns makes it back to his feet. Reigns hits Show with a guillotine drop off the ropes. He beats on the larger athlete with a chair and DDTs him onto it. The Big Show gets up at the count of seven.

Reigns grabs two tables and sets them up by each other. Before he can do anything with them he gets hit with the KO punch. Reigns gets up at eight. The Big Show finally uses a weapon, setting up a table. Reigns counters a chokeslam and Samoan drops his opponent through the table. They are almost counted out as they lay there, but get up by eight.  Reigns sets up a table in the corner and then turns into a spear. He gets up at eight. Show ascends to the turnbuckle, but is hit and lands on his balls, eliciting a loud cry of pain. Reigns slams the Big Show from the turnbuckle. The Big Show gets up at eight. Reigns hits him with a series of Superman Punches, but the giant won’t go down. Reigns is caught in a chokehold on his third try and sent over the rope into the two tables he set up earlier!

Reigns stands up in the nick of time. The Big Show puts steel steps by the announcers’ table. He gets back int he ring and tries to spear Reigns through the table in the corner. He misses and goes through himself. He gets up at eight and the fight goes to the announce tables. Show is speared into the timekeeper’s area. He gets up at eight and beats down Reigns. He stands on the Spanish announcer’s table. Reigns spears him again, sending him through the table. Show barely beats the ten count. Reigns grabs the English announcer’s table and buries the Big Show with it.The ref counts to ten and Reigns wins.

Thoughts: This was a shockingly good match. I thought it was going to be a long-winded boring affair, but they managed to do a lot of awesome table spots. I was pleasantly surprised by how entertaining the Big Show was. Lately his singles matches have been very boring, but here he was doing all sorts of fun little things, like smashing up a table and shouting goofy things (especially that cry of pain when he landed on his crotch). Roman Reigns has now been in three great PPV matches.

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (c) (w/Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury) for the World Heavyweight Title in a Steel Cage (6/10)

Set-Up: Randy Orton got his revenge on Rollins at Wrestlemania, but now he wanted a World Title match. He and Rollins each got to come up with a stipulation for said title match. Rollins banned the RKO, while Orton demanded a steel cage to avoid interference from the Authority. At the same time Rollins was running down Authority member Kane on the mic. Kane in turn called him out as an entitle brat who was only world champion through his efforts. Kane was made the official gatekeeper for the steel cage, much to Rollins’ chagrin.

The Match: Rollins tries to climb out of the cage right at the beginning. Orton stops him and delivers a clothesline. Rollins spends a minute beating Rollins around the cage. Orton catapults him into the cage wall. Rollins actually grabs onto the cage and starts climbing again. Orton stops him. Rollins hits a corner powerbomb. Kane opens the door and Rollins makes a break for it. Orton stops him. Rollins takes control and whips Orton into the wall. Orton comes back with an uppercut. Orton throws Rollins into the cage. After some more back and forth Rollins avoids a powerslam and starts climbing again. jumps at Orton with a knee. He connects and gets a two count. Rollins comes off the ropes and is caught in a powerslam. Rollins counters a Hangman’s DDT into a pin. Orton kicks out. Rollins superkicks him and climbs to the top of the cage. He actually gets over, but Orton catches up and drags him back in by his hair.

J&J Security start climbing up the cage from two directions. Orton knocks them off before they can get in by throwing Rollins against the cage walls. Orton catapults Rollins into the wall and goes for a pin, which fails. Orton hits his DDT off the ropes and does his pre-RKO taunt. However, since the RKO is banned, he hits the Pedigree! Rollins kicks out right before the count of three. Orton goes for a punt, but Rollins side-steps him while delivering a kick to the head. Kane opens the door again. Orton hits a backbreaker. He goes for the door, but Kane closes it on him. Rollins delivers a dropkick, but misses Orton and accidentally slams the door against Kane’s face. Furious, Kane slams the door on them both, knocking them into the middle of the ring. Kane targets Rollins. J&J Security try to stop him, but he double chokeslams them. He delivers chokeslams to Orton and Rollins. He drapes Rollins’ arm over Orton, but Orton kicks out. Kane goes after Orton, but gets RKO’d. Rollins then hits Orton with the RKO and crawls out of the doorway to retain the title.

Thoughts: This was a fun, but not great main event. With the RKO banned in the storyline and Rollins’ Curb Stomp banned in real life, they had no real finishers to build up to. The ending was also very confusing. Was the RKO only banned for Orton, or did Rollins cheat? And is the RKO illegal if it isn’t used on Rollins, meaning that Orton pretty much disqualified himself when he hit the move on Kane? They actually acknowledged this the next night on Raw, with Rollins saying he technically delivered the SKO, not the RKO, since his name is Seth, not Randy. Kane said the ending was pretty screwy, so he announced that they would face each other again, though this time with Roman Reigns added to make it a Triple Threat at Payback.

Overall Thoughts

This was a great PPV. There wasn’t much in the way of classic or perfect moments, but it was consistently entertaining and produced some pretty good matches. Everything up to the Diva’s match got at least 7/10, and the Last Man Standing match was an awesome surprise. It does have one major flaw, and that is the PG rating. You can’t have the announcers shout about how everything is extreme when there’s no blood and a lot of brutal moves are banned.

Final Rating: 8/10

WCW Uncensored 1997

Date: March 16, 1997

Eddie Guerrero (c) vs. Dean Malenko for the United States Title (9/10)

The Set-Up: United States Champion Eddie Guerrero had been feuding with NWO member Syxx (better known as WWE’s X-Pac) over the title. Unable to win the title (though stealing belt) Syxx diverted his attention to winning Dean Malenko’s cruiserweight title. During a match at Superbrawl, Guerrero came out to get his belt back, but accidentally hit Malenko and cost him the cruiserweight title. Furious, Malenko got a no-disqualification match at Uncensored.

The match: Guerrero and Malenko tear into each other to start, before going into a bunch of well-executed submission holds and reversals. While the match is going on we are shown Rick Steiner knocked unconscious in the back. He’s supposed to be in Team WCW in the main event. Obviously the NWO took him out to better their chances of winning. Back to the actual match, which thankfully continues uninterrupted, things are really heating up. Guerrero works on Malenko’s leg, at one point dropkicking it into the ringpost. He knocks Malenko outside into the guardrail and jumps at him. Malenko gets out of the way and Guerrero eats the guardrail. Malenko is able to dominate him until Eddie whips out a low blow. Malenko isn’t slowed down and powerbombs his opponent. He goes up top and delivers his enemy’s own finisher, the frog splash. Right before he gets a three count he gets off of Eddie, deciding to punish him some more. This proves to be a mistake as now he and Guerrero trade unsuccessful pin attempts. Syxx emerges with a video camera. He steals the United States title belt and throws his camera at Eddie. Guerrero ducks and Malenko catches it, using it as a weapon and getting the win.

This was a fantastic match which at the time was always expected of top cruiserweights like Malenko, Guerrero, and Rey Mysterio Jr.. The only thing preventing it from being perfect is the NWO spots, first the backstage shenanigans with Rick Steiner and then Syxx coming in to prevent a clean finish.

In-Between matches, Team Piper, which will participate in the three-way main event, is interviewed. Most of it is Piper yelling random stuff about his teammates, members of the Four Horsemen (Chris Benoit, Jeff Jarrett, & Steve McMichael). He calls Chris Benoit a wino and Debra McMichael a hussy. The Four Horsemen are surprisingly okay with his insults and promise to have his back

Psicosis vs. Ultimo Dragon (w/Sonny Onoo) (7/10)

Set-Up: There’s not real story behind this. WCW would often throw together random matches that usually involved cruiserweights. They were usually pretty good anyways, so I’m not complaining. This is around the time when Ultimo Dragon was one of the top players in the cruiserweight division. He was on about every PPV and episode of Nitro, all the while taking trips to wrestle in Mexico. He was a pretty busy guy.

The Match: There’s a lot of holds and reversals at the start. The longer the match goes on the more moves they pull off, from moonsaults to spinning heel kicks to flying leg drops. Sonno Onoo interferes with a few roundhouse kicks to Psicosis. Towards the end they trade a bunch of hard-hitting finishers, culminating in a botched Tornado and a well-executed Tiger suplex by Ultimo Dragon to finish the match.

This is a pretty good match. The mat wrestling and rest holds near the beginning started to get a little boring, but things picked up in short time. There’s not much else to say about this, as there was no story going into this match besides that Ultimo Dragon is beating everybody.

Diamond Dallas Page Segment

DDP comes out on stage for an interview with Gene Okerlund. They discuss the Diamond Cutter, DDP’s finisher, and how it is the most deadly move in wrestling at the moment. DDP is more interested in calling out Macho Man Randy Savage, who appears with a magazine. Savage says he respects DDP because he has a hot wife, and shows a nude centerfold of Kimberley Page in the magazine (with the nudity obscured by NWO spray paint). Kimberley appears on stage spray-painted. DDP goes over to comfort her, but gets attacked from behind by Savage. The NWO letters are spray-painted on his back. This is a pretty entertaining segment and helped set the stage for one of the best NWO feuds, in which DDP got into the main event scene.

Glacier vs. Mortis (w/James Vandenberg) (6/10)

Set-Up: In late summer 1996, WCW debuted Glacier, a martial arts wrestler cashing in on the success of Mortal Kombat and in particular the popularity of its character Sub-Zero. Glacier’s entrance was expensive, with fake snow falling from the sky, blue lighting, and an overblown (but I think kinda cool) costume. He was forgotten about for a few months because of the focus on the NWO, but early in 1997 he was finally featured in a storyline in which evil manager James Vandenberg brought in his archenemy Mortis. Mortis’ costume was basically a green skeleton suit. For his entrance he would come in with a cape complete with skull shoulder pads. So basically, this feud was a fighting video game brought to life.

The Match: This match is declared a “Martial Arts Match”, even though aside from some martial arts kicks and palm strikes, it’s pretty much just a fast-paced wrestling match. Despite the over-the-top storyline, this is actually a pretty good match. Chris Kanyon, who is playing Mortis, was known for some unique offensive moves and shows some of those here. There’s a springboard leg drop, a body drop onto the apron from outside, and then one move where he twists around a bent over Glacier and places his leg over his head, shoving it into the mat. The climax comes when Mortis shoves the referee into the Cryonic Kick (think Shawn Michaels’ Sweet Chin Music). Mortis hits his own superkick and gets a nearfall. Glacier comes back with another Cryonic Kick, this time connecting and getting the win. Vandenberg calls out his other client, Wrath, who’s wearing a helmet. Wrath and Mortis beat the crap out of Glacier.

This was a good match. There were a few moments where it felt like the moves weren’t really connecting, so I have to dock some points for that. This feud would go on until Bash at the Beach in July, with a couple poor PPV matches and the inclusion of Ernest “the Cat” Miller as an ally for Glacier.

Buff Bagwell vs. Scotty Riggs (5/10)

Set-Up: Late in 1996, Eric Bischoff gave an ultimatum to WCW’s roster. They had a month to join the NWO or ultimately be destroyed. Most held their ground, but several responded positively and joined the group by the end of the year. The one that everybody remembers is Buff Bagwell. He was in the American Males tag team with Scotty Riggs when he defected, starting a breakup feud culminating with a strap match at Uncensored.

The Match: The rule is that one competitor must go around the ring and slap each of the four turnbuckles, while having to drag his opponent by a strap. For a strap match this is a pretty lengthy bout, but somehow they keep it entertaining. Sure, there’s a lot of whipping and choking with the strap, but there’s some decent wrestling moves as well. The real highlight is Bagwell’s charisma. I’ve read a lot of comments on the internet that call him a bad wrestler, but I think he’s pretty good. He’s not the most amazing wrestler, but he doesn’t suck either. Any shortcomings are made up for by his personality, basically an egotistical douche. Anyways, the best part of this match is when Bagwell mistakenly tries to make a pin and the referee doesn’t count. Bagwell gets into an altercation which results in the ref shoving him down and telling him off. Bagwell begs for forgiveness, repeating “I’m Sorry!” After the ref turns away he smiles into the camera and says “But I’m really not”. Riggs hits a powerbomb and dropkick and almost touches all four corners, but Bagwell pulls him away with the strap. Riggs is hit with a really hard back body drop and is rendered unconscious. Bagwell touches all four corners to win.

Again, strap matches are best when short, but this isn’t too bad since they actually do some decent wrestling and Bagwell finds ways to make duller spots entertaining.

Backstage, the main event NWO Team cuts a promo stating that Dennis Rodman is their secret weapon.

Harlem Heat vs. Public Enemy (4/10)

Set-Up: Harlem Heat (Booker T & Stevie Ray) and Public Enemy (Johnny Grunge & Rocco Rock) were having a feud and ended up in a no-disqualification brawl. There’s not much else to it.

The Match: This match is basically just two tag teams grabbing objects and hitting each other. Booker T tries to spice things up with his various kicks, but otherwise, it’s 13 minutes of people whacking each other with lids, cookie sheets, and other objects. Color commentator Dusty Rhodes seems highly amused, laughing his head off every time a new weapon is brought in. Finally something new happens when Public Enemy sets up a table and put Stevie Ray on it. Rocco Rock flips onto the table, knocking Stevie Ray and Johnny Grunge through it. Jeff Jarrett and Steve McMichael run in and attack Public Enemy. McMichael whacks Grunge with a suitcase. Booker T hits Harlem Hangover, his flying move, on Grunge and gets the pin.

This match was okay. It needed to be about half as long. It was way too long for what happened in it. If you want to have a lengthy no-disqualification match, you have to actually leave the ring area and have fights in the entranceway, the stands, or even out in the back, not to mention more actual wrestling moves.

Okerlund interviews Team WCW, whose members promise to defeat the NWO and bring honor back to WCW.

Prince Iaukea (c) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. for the Television Title (3/10)

Set-Up: Prince Iaukea was getting a big push, winning the television title from Lord Steven Regal in February of 1997. His victories were often tainted by outside shenanigans from Regal and Rey Mysterio Jr., and he wanted to prove himself as a legitimate champion. He thus offered Mysterio a rematch for the title at Uncensored.

The Match: The announcers stress that the time limit for the match is 15 minutes. It’s usually 10 minutes as the TV Title is meant to be defended weekly without commercial interruptions. This match consists of a lot of counters and pin reversals, but Iaukea doesn’t have the skills of Malenko or Mysterio so a lot of it looks slow and awkward. The bell is rung, indicating that 15 minutes have passed, but in fact it’s 12! Rey Mysterio Jr. dramatically asks that the match continue so that there is a clear winner. Almost two minutes later, Iaukea gets thrown off the top with a hurricarana, but rolls on the landing to get a pin.

So counting overtime the match is 13:41 long. It looks like someone in upper management wanted to turn Iaukea into a big star and did bad math to make him look stronger and more endurable. This makes all of the drama from the announcers and Mysterio comical, as not only did they not even reach 15 minutes, but the action itself got really dull. Prince Iaukea would soon lose the Television Title and become a jobber.

Team NWO vs. Team Piper vs. Team WCW (7/10)

Set-Up: This match requires a lot of explanation. The NWO was running incredibly strong at this point. Aside from Piper knocking out Hogan with the sleeper hold at Starrcade, the NWO had been winning every main event on PPV. They also held four of the six titles, with Hollywood Hogan as World Champion, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash as Tag Team Champions, and Syxx as the Cruiserweight champ. Their numbers were growing. In addition to the four mentioned, they had gotten the services of Eric Bischoff, bodyguard Vincent, Big Bubba, Buff Bagwell, Scott Norton, VK Wallstreet, and even Randy Savage. It also seemed that Sting might have joined as well, at one point standing in the ring with the villainous faction (though just standing there doing nothing).

Oh, and Dennis Rodman, suspended for kicking a cameraman in the groin in a Chicago Bulls vs. Minnesota Timberwolves game, used his free time to join the NWO. Except for maybe Mike Tyson’s inclusion at Wrestlemania 14, this was probably the most successful use of a celebrity in pro wrestling history. He promised to be with the NWO at Uncensored and there was no doubt that he would get involved somehow.

Lex Luger and the Giant had defeated Hall and Nash for the titles, but Bischoff used his power to reverse the decision. Frustrated, Luger convinced the NWO to put all of the titles on the line in a large team match. Around the same time Piper was still obsessed with taking out Hollywood Hogan, so he formed Team Piper, making this a three-way affair. Piper gathered a random team of jobbers, but the Four Horsemen convinced him to use three of them instead. Here are the teams and the stipulations.

Team NWO (Hollywood Hogan, Kevin Nash, Randy Savage, & Scott Hall)

Team WCW (the Giant, Lex Luger, Rick Steiner, & Scott Steiner)

Team Piper (Roddy Piper, Chris Benoit, Jeff Jarrett, & Steve McMichael)

At different intervals each team sends out one man. Eliminations can occur by pinfall, submission, or being thrown over the top rope. If Team NWO wins, they get any title shots any time. If Team WCW wins, the NWO must relinquish all of their titles and not wrestle for three years. This means that there is no way Team WCW is going to win (though I guess the NWO can always find a devious way to get back to wrestling in no time). If Team Piper wins, Piper gets Hogan in a cage match. So basically, the Four Horsemen are making it harder for Team WCW to expel the NWO so Piper can get another grudge match.

The Match: Team Piper sends out Benoit, NWO Scott Hall, and WCW the Giant to start things off. Benoit and Hall double-team the Giant, which would make perfect sense except that they should be trying to take out the NWO. Eventually a beaten Hall is wobbling in the corner. The Giant charges him and he ducks, the big man’s momentum sending himself flying out to be eliminated. The second period arrives and Team Piper sends in Jeff Jarrett, NWO Randy Savage, and WCW Lex Luger. There is a bunch of basic battle royal action and the third period comes in a couple minutes, producing Steve “Mongo” McMichael, Kevin Nash, and Scott Steiner. Scott Steiner delivers a bunch of suplexes as usual. Nash boots out Jarrett and Hall flips out McMichael. Team WCW and Team Piper should be working together here and instead they’re attacking each other and opening themselves up for eliminations.

Roddy Piper comes out for the fourth and final period. Scott Steiner is eliminated by the NWO. Rick Steiner hasn’t recovered from his backstage attack and it seems that Team WCW isn’t allowed to replace him, so Luger has no one else to help him. Hollywood Hogan finally comes out accompanied by Dennis Rodman. He and Piper go at it and have a pretty bad-looking brawl outside the ring. Randy Savage joins in to help the NWO leader and they all get back into the battle royal. Piper is knocked against the ropes. Rodman pulls down the top rope, cheating to eliminate Hot Rod. It’s now all of Team NWO vs. Benoit and Luger, though Hogan and Savage go outside to continue brawling with Piper. Hall hits Benoit with the Outsider’s Edge and he and Nash eliminate him.

The NWO huddle together in the ring to plan what to do with Luger. Nash sets him up for the Jackknife Powerbomb, but gets flipped over. Luger starts clotheslining everybody and gets Savage in the Torture Rack for a submission. Luger knocks Nash over the top rope and then gets Hall to submit to the Torture Rack. It’s just him and Hogan. He gets him up for the rack, but Savage gets a can of paint and sprays him in the eyes. Hogan takes advantage and pins him.

This match was fairly good. It featured a lot of wrestlers who were past their prime (Hogan, Piper, Savage), had a tendency to phone it in (Nash), or plain bad (Mongo McMichael), but having a big team battle royal really helped to obscure their shortcomings and provide an entertaining main event. But what’s really awesome is what happens after the match.

Team NWO celebrates with Dennis Rodman, who has the honor of spray painting their logo on Luger’s back. Then Sting descends from the ceiling, unhooks from his harness, and hits Scott Hall! Sting cleans house with his baseball bat as he makes the statement that he is for WCW. Hogan yells at Sting to drop the bat and face him like a man. Sting obliges. He blocks Hogan’s punch and delivers his own, which prompts a massive roar of cheers from the crowd. He hits him with the Scorpion Death Drop and the NWO retreats.

Overall Thoughts

WCW actually had trouble putting on consistently good PPVs. This is one of the better ones from 1997. The first match between Malenko and Guerrero is awesome. The next two matches weren’t on the same level, but they were still good. The strap match between Bagwell and Riggs was average, but definitely could have been worse. Things stank a little towards the end with the overlong street fight and the bad-on-so-many-levels Mysterio vs. Iaukea match, but picked up with a decent main event and a killer ending. What actually makes this a good PPV is many of the non-match segments, such as DDP and Savage’s encounter, fun backstage promos, and Sting’s declaration of war on the NWO.

Final Rating: 7/10

WCW Slamboree 1996

Date: May 19, 1996

Venue: Riverside Centroplex, Baton Rogue, Louisiana

Quick Ratings (to avoid spoilers)

Animal & Booker T vs. Hawk & Lex Luger 2/10

Public Enemy vs. the Taskmaster & Chris Benoit 3/10

Sgt. Craig Pittman & Scott Steiner vs. Booty Man & Rick Steiner 6/10

Blue Bloods vs. Jim Duggan & VK Wallstreet 4/10

Dick Slater & Robert Eaton vs. Alex Wright & Disco Inferno 3/10

Diamond Dallas Page & the Barbarian vs. Hugh Morrus & Meng 4/10

Big Bubba & Stevie Ray vs. Fire & Ice 3/10

Eddie Guerrero & Arn Anderson vs. Ric Flair & Randy Savage 5/10

Dean Malenko vs. Brad Armstrong 6/10

2nd Round Lethal Lottery Match 4/10

2nd Round Lethal Lottery Match N/A

2nd Round Lethal Lottery Match 4/10

Konnan vs. Jushin Thunder Liger 7/10

Battlebowl 5/10

Giant vs. Sting 6/10

What is the Lethal Lottery?

The Lethal Lottery is basically a tag team tournament where the names are drawn to randomly generate teams. After two rounds of tag matches, the members of the surviving teams are entered into a battle royal (referred to here as Battlebowl). On this particular PPV, the winner of Battlebowl was guaranteed a world title shot in June of 1996.

WCW at the time was experiencing a couple months with Hulk Hogan absent. This was actually a blessing. While Hogan was around, he was abusing his creative control clause within his contract, making himself the center of attention and having him put into matches and storylines where he singlehandedly where he would defeat giants, overpower entire factions of villains, and only lose matches when copious amounts of cheating and run-ins were involved (only to Hulk up and get revenge within minutes of losing). With Hogan gone until his infamous heel turn at Bash at the Beach, WCW’s primetime show Monday Nitro actually got better as it focused on the likes of Sting, Ric Flair, the Giant, and Lex Luger, all performers who could put on good matches and, more importantly, keep any egos they have in check. But would this make the Hogan-free PPVs better as well? Let’s find out.

Most of the background for Slamboree is that since the teams are “randomly” assembled, there are tag partners on opposite sides as well as arch-enemies on the same side. One such case is the Road Warriors Animal and Hawk, who have to face each other. Also, Flair has stolen Miss Elizabeth and together they have been using Savage’s money up. Randy Savage keeps attacking Flair, but every time he gets dragged off by security. Now they are on the same team, which spells shenanigans. One problem with this PPV is that there are too many matches crammed within three hours. There are twelve tag team matches in the Lethal Lottery as well as the final battle royal, not to mention that the brains at WCW also squeeze in three title matches as well.

Lethal Lottery Round One

Road Warrior Animal & Booker T vs. Road Warrior Hawk & Lex Luger

Hawks and Booker T start things off. It doesn’t take long for the Road Warriors to get confused and start acting like they’re on the same team (they look really stupid here). Things calm down and it’s now Animal vs. Luger. Luger takes charge with a powerslam. Animal comes back with his own powerslam and a shoulder. Luger turns the tide with a double axe handle and a suplex. Animal no-sells the suplex and stand right back up. Booker is tagged in as Luger clotheslines Animal. Animal suplexes Booker T, but misses an elbow. Booker does his spinaroonie and hits Animal with a sidekick. He locks on a sleeper hold. Animal gets out of it, but Booker hits him back down with a scissors kick. He goes for a pin, but Hawk breaks it up. Then the Road decide to beat up Luger and Booker. The fight spills outside and both teams are counted out, resulting in both being eliminated from the Lethal Lottery.

Thoughts: There was some decent action here, but the stupidity of the Road Warriors really brings the score down. If you have a shot at the world title, you should be willing to fight your partner for one match. The Road Warriors were infamous for refusing to ever break up or fight each other (they eventually would in an awful storyline in 1998 WWF). 2/10

Public Enemy vs. Taskmaster Kevin Sullivan & Chris Benoit

Rocco Rock and Johnny Grunge of Public Enemy are pretty lucky since they have wound up in the Lethal Lottery together. Benoit and Rocco Rock start kick things off. Benoit lifts Rocco for a powerslam, but it is reversed with head scissors. Rocco also reverses a powerbomb into a hurricarana. Benoit finally gets him with a second powerbomb attempt. Rocco is taken to Benoit and Sullivan’s corner. Rocco Rock and the Taskmaster take the fight outside the ring. Sullivan grabs a chair and hits Rocco with it. Rocco turns the tide and sets up a table, putting Sullivan on it. He gets in the ring and prepares to dive onto the table, but Benoit cuts him off with a hard clotheslines. Benoit attacks Grunge, but gets suplexed outside. Benoit and Sullivan are both put on the table. It looks like Sullivan is holding him in place for some reason. Grunge and Rocco double dive onto the table, putting Benoit through. The Taskmaster abandons Benoit as he is pinned.

Thoughts: This was a decent brawl, but too short for a PPV. This is around the time Benoit and Sullivan started feuding with each other. 3/10

Sgt. Craig Pittman & Scott Steiner vs. the Booty Man & Rick Steiner

If you’re wondering, the Booty Man is Hogan’s friend Ed Leslie as a man who loves his buttocks and likes to dance. He is accompanied by Kimberly (DDP’s wife), who for some reason has fallen in love with a middle-aged man who likes to show off his ass. Pittman (an underrated wrestler) puts an armlock on the Booty Man. He switches to a headlock before striking with his elbow and tagging in Scott Steiner. The Booty Man is hit with a powerbomb. Pittman and Rick Steiner are both tagged in. They collide mid-ring and then trade suplexes. Pittman applies an armlock. He goes for a clothesline, but Rick Steiner dodges it and comes back with his own. A downed Pittman manages to tag in Scott Steiner. Unlike the Road Warriors, the Steiner Brothers actually go at it!

Scott gets Rick with a fireman carry, but is then on the receiving end of a headlock takedown. After some grappling Scott suplexes Rick. Rick clotheslines Scott. Scott gets a roll-up pin, but Rick kicks out. Scott locks ona the full-nelson, but Rick reverses it and hits a German suplex. Rick gets on the turnbuckle, but Scott slams him off of it. Pittman and Booty Man tag in. Scott Steiner suplexes the Booty Man. Pittman applies Code Red, his special submission hold, on Booty Man. Booty manages to pull himself to the ropes and tags in Rick Steiner. One hard German suplex and Rick pins Pittman.

Thoughts; This is the best of the Lethal Lottery matches. They almost got ten minutes instead of squeezing a whole match into five minutes. The Steiners were willing to give fans the spectacle of seeing them fight each other, and they also delivered a lot of suplexes and slams, which is why I like a lot of their matches.. It was also nice that most of the Booty Man’s involvement was him getting hit with suplexes or put in submission holds by the far better Scott Steiner and Sgt. Craig Pittman. He’s an awful character with an awful move-set. It’s a shame he was on the winning team. 6/10

Blue Bloods vs. Hacksaw Jim Duggan & VK Wallstreet

Like Public Enemy, Lord Steven Regal and Dave Taylor have been lucky enough to end up as an intact tag team. Regal and Duggan start taunting each other, with Regal making his usual, hilarious insulted faces as Duggan’s dim-witted posturing. Duggan gets Regal with a hip toss. Wallstreet, who is feuding with Duggan, refuses to tag in when asked. Duggan hits a clothesline and this time he is able to tag in Wallstreet. Regal tags in Taylor. The Blue Bloods gang up on Wallstreet for a few seconds. Regal tags back in and trades uppercuts with Wallstreet. Duggan tags in and punches everybody, even his own tag team partner! He puts tape on his right hand and knocks out Taylor for the pin.

Thoughts: This was an entertaining, if not good match. There is is some idiocy on Duggan and Wallstreet’s part, but unlike with the Road Warriors it makes more sense here. Duggan is a big idiot (some would say he’s mentally challenged) and Wallstreet is rightfully scared of a giant Irishman who loves to punch out bad guys. This match would be better if it was longer, which is a common problem with all these short tag matches. 4/10

Dick Slater (w/Col. Parker) & Earl Robert Eaton (w/Jeeves) vs. Alex Wright & Disco Inferno.

Disco retreats from Slater into a corner. Slater hits him with a back body thump..Eaton and Wright are tagged in. Wright leaps over Eaton. He delivers uppercuts, dropkicks, scissors takedowns with his legs, and a back kick. Slater gets in and stops Wright’s momentum with a neckbreaker. He goes for a piledriver, but Wright reverses it.. Disco is tagged in and he and Wright dominate before Slater takes off one of his boots and hits Disco in the back of the head. He gets the pin. After the match Col. Parker accepts a cigar from Eaton’s butler Jeeves!

Thoughts: This match was almost nothing. The only good thing to come out of it was some of Wright’s great offense. 3/10

Diamond Dallas Page & the Barbarian vs. Meng & Hugh Morrus

There’s three members of the Dungeon of Doom in here, with the Barbarian being the odd man out on DDP’s side. DDP and Morrus start off. DDP locks on a couple holds before Morrus shoulder blocks him, sending him out of the ring. Meng and the Barbarian are tagged in. Meng hits some chops. Barbarian knocks him down. They run at each other and collide. Meng gets knocked down again. The Barbarian tags in Page and suplexes him onto Meng. Meng gets up pretty quickly and tags in Morrus. Morrus hits a suplex and then a flying elbow drop. He goes for another flying attack, but DDP stops him and tags in the Barbarian. The Barbarian gives him a belly-to-belly suplex off the turnbuckle and goes for the pin. Meng breaks the pin and delivers a suplex. Morrus hits a moonsault on Barbarian. DDP runs in and fight Meng. At the same time Meng and the Barbarian hit sidekicks to take down each other’s partnerts. They go for simultaneous pins. The Barbarian is the legal man so his pin counts.

Thoughts: This is an okay match. There were some neat moments, like Hugh Morrus’ moonsault (his only cool move). This is a good match for Nitro, but not for a PPV. 4/10

Big Bubba & Stevie Ray vs. Fire & Ice (Scott Norton & Ice-Train)

Stevie Ray takes down Norton. Norton hits a running shoulder and gets Stevie into the corner. He charges him and is met with a boot to the face. Stevie Ray tags in Bubba. Bubba hits a wind-up punch, body splash, ad spinebuster. Norton retaliates with a clothesline. Ice Train is tagged in and suplexes Bubba, followed by a body splash. Ice Train stops an attempted punch by Bubba and the two clothesline each other. Norton gets in and beats on Bubba, while keeping Stevie Ray away. Big Bubba is thrown into Steve Ray. Ice Train and Scott Norton do a double clothesline on Bubba and Norton gets the pin.

Thoughts: An okay match. It was almost a squash showcasing Fire & Ice, a tag team that was just assembled under future general manager of Smackdown Teddy Long. 3/10

Eddie Guerrero & Arn Anderson vs. Ric Flair & Randy Savage

Ric Flair and Arn Anderson are both in the Four Horsemen. Flair doesn’t show up when his music plays. As Savage walks down the entranceway, he emerges behind him with an attack. Anderson joins in. Guerrero, being an honorable babyface, doesn’t like this even though it favors his team, and breaks up the beat-down, focusing on Flair. Guerrero hits a back body drop and two dropkicks. Flair rakes his eyes and tags in Savage. Arn Anderson beats on Savage, cutting off any attempt at offense. Arn hits a spinebuster and Flair tags himself in so he can join in on the fun. Guerrero manages to get into the match and rakes Flair’s eyes. He delivers some chops,a  dropkick, and a tornado DDT. Savage attacks Flair. Arn DDTs Guerrero and lets Flair pin him for the win. Miss Elizabeth and Flair’s other female friend, Woman, join in on further beating up Savage before Anderson delivers another DDT.

Thoughts: This was a pretty interesting scenario. I felt really sorry for Eddie Guerrero, who wants to have a legitimate tag team match, but is caught in the crossfire of a heated feud with Four Horsemen shenanigans. This is one of the more exciting moments of the show, though like almost everything else it could have been longer. 5/10

Gene Okerlund is out with in his words “three ladies from Hooters, one of my favorite establishments” to see which teams will be paired off for the second round. Due to the Road Warriors causing a double countout, one lucky team gets to skip the second round. That turns out to be Fire & Ice.

Dean Malenko vs. Brad Armstrong for the Cruiserweight Title

The Cruiserweight Title is still very new at this point. Malenko and Armstrong lock up. Armstrong hits an Enziguri. Malenko dominates the first half, using various holds and strikes to wear down his opponent’s leg. Armstrong reverses one hold into a pin for a near-fall. Malenko resumes his punishment. Armstrong eventually fights out of it and whips Malenko into a corner. Malenko saves himself from hitting the ringpost with a slingshot splash, but turns into a hard right. Armstrong whips Malenko into another corner and runs into a boot. He recovers instantly and powerslams his opponent. He locks on the Texas Cloverleaf. Malenko gets to the ropes and turns the tide back in the favor. He gets Armstrong up on the turnbuckle and jumps off with a gutbuster to get the pin

Thoughts: This was a short, but for this PPV long, title match. It was fairly good, with Malenko using some good strategy on Armstrong’s leg and a pretty cool finish. The cruiserweight division was still heating up at this point and would become the high point of almost every WCW pay-per-view. 6/10

Dick Slater & Bobby Eaton vs. Jim Duggan & VK Wallstreet

Duggan and Wallstreet are being a dysfunctional team again, fighting each other instead of their opponents. Eaton and Slater take advantage and attack. Slater makes a failed pin attempt. He and Eaton isolate Wallstreet in their corner and beat on him. Wallstreet manages to knock Eaton to the outside, where he walks into a punch from Duggan. Wallstreet locks the abdominal stretch on Eaton and tries to get some extra leverage by holding Duggan’s hand, a typical cheating heel move. Duggan refuses. Slater breaks the hold. Duggan is tagged in. He whips Slater off the ropes and catches him with a clothesline. Eaton and Wallstreet are tagged in. Eaton hits a suplex and gets on the turnbuckle. He gets thrown off. Wallstreet misses a punch and accidentally hits Duggan. This causes more dissension. Eaton takes advantage and rolls up Wallstreet for the win. Duggan chases Wallstreet to the back.

Thoughts: This was okay. There were some interesting moments focusing on the dysfunction of Jim Duggan and VK Wallstreet. 4/10

Public Enemy vs. Randy Savage & Ric Flair.

This time Savage no-shows as his music plays. Flair walks to the ring as Miss Elizabeth throws some of the Macho Man’s money to the crowd. Savage suddenly attack Flair from behind. Wrestlers and security men come in to stop Savage and bring him to the back. Where were you guys when Flair was doing the same thing to Savage? Flair runs away and Public Enemy wins by forfeit.

Thoughts: This is more angle advancement that also serves to cut out another match and make more time. 0/10

DDP & the Barbarian vs. the Booty Man & Rick Steiner

DDP kicks things off against the Booty Man, who actually got him removed from WCW for a few weeks at Uncensored 1996. DDP is knocked outside and tangled in wires. Rick Steiner gets in an suplexes Page. Steiner mounts DDP in the corner and punches away. DDP grabs his tights and pulls him off, enabling him to tag in the Barbarian. The Barbarian beats on Steiner and goes for a boot. Steiner catches him and suplexes him off the turnbuckle.. Barbarian is clotheslined, but comes back with a powerbomb for a two count. The Booty Man tags in, but the ref doesn’t see it. Steiner is thrown outside and DDP stomps him. The Booty Man finally gets tagged in and hits Barbarian with the HIgh Knee (get it? As in hiney, because he likes his booty?). He covers him for the pin, but DDP intervenes with an elbow and rolls the Barbarian over him. Booty Man is pinned.

Thoughts: This was a decent match. Once again the Booty Man was absent from most of the action and also suffers the pin. Once again, this could have been a couple minutes longer. 4/10

Konnan vs. Jushin Thunder Liger (w/Sonny Onoo)

Konnan takes down Liger immediately and makes a failed pin attempt. He and Liger roll around, getting two counts. After another series of quick counters Liger maneuvers Konnan onto the mat and hits him with a senton splash. Konnan steps out of the ring and is hit with a flying attack. Liger gets him back in and hits a brainbuster. They get back into mat wrestling, with Konnan going between submission holds. Liger counters one into a surfboard stretch, followed by a camel clutch. Konnan gets a rope break. Liger gets on him again and locks in a bow and arrow hold. Tiring of Konnan’s refusal to give up, Liger resorts to punches. Konnan gets up and the two exchange palm thrusts. Liger connects with a somersault kick. Liger superplexes Konnan and follows up with a flying body splash. Konnan still kicks out. Konnan is dropkicked to the outside. Liger flies out after him, but is intercepted by a dropkick. They get back in the ring, where Liger hits a fisherman buster. Konnan is thrown headfirst into the turnbuckle. He reverses an Irish Whip and slams Liger backfirst into the mat for a flip pin. Liger kicks out and Konnan goes for a powerbomb. Liger reverses it into a failed pin attempt. He makes his own special Liger Bomb, but fails to get a pin. Konnan is hit with a scoop slam. Liger comes off the turnbuckle, but Konnan catches him with his feet and manages to hit Powerdrive (a DDT variation) for the win.

Thoughts: This was the best match of the night. In his WCW run, Konnan usually had slow-paced matches that wound up being boring. He always worked best when battling cruiserweights, and here he actually pulls off a pretty good match, though a lot of the credit has to go to Jushin Thunder Liger. 7/10

WCW commentator and former Chicago Bulls player Steve McMichael interrupts Gene Okerlund as he interviews Ric Flair and Arn Anderson. He tells Flair and Anderson that he’s sick of what they’re doing with Randy Savage and challenges them to a tag team match at the Great American Bash. His partner is revealed to be Kevin Greene of the Carolina Panthers.

Battlebowl

Participants: The Barbarian, Diamond Dallas Page, Dick Slater, Ice Train, Johnny Grunge, Robert Eaton, Rocco Rock, and Scott Norton

It looks like none of the big names like Flair or Luger made it. You can be eliminated by pinfall, submission, or going over the top rope. Typical battle royal action ensues with a lot of punching and shoving. Rocco Rock jumps at the Barbarian and gets caught. He uses his legs to knock himself loose from his grip. The Barbarian throws out DDP. It looks like his feet hit the floor, but the ref doesn’t see it and he gets back in. Why is there only one ref? In a WWE battle royal there’s always at least three to make sure eliminations are counted.

Ice Train slams a couple people. Rocco Rock charges the Barbarian, but gets tossed out and eliminated. Slater takes his boot off and eliminates Eaton with it. Slater is immediately eliminated by someone else. An irate Eaton punches Col. Parker. Slater is also angry and punches Norton before he leaves. This enables DDP to eliminate Norton. It,s Barbarian, DDP, Ice Train, and Johnny Grunge. Ice Train powerslams everybody. DDP hits everyone with Diamond Cutters and starts pinning everybody. Grunge and Ice Train are eliminated, bu the Barbarian kicks out. The Barbarian catches a kick attempt from Page and clotheslines him. Page and Barbarian exchange failed pin attempts before the latter hits a piledriver. DDP kicks out. The Barbarian locks on a sleeper hold. Page breaks it with a low blow. The Barbarian then hits him with a powerbomb, which is also kicked out of. Page is kicking out of everything! The Barbarian misses a flying headbutt. He eats the Diamond Cutter and DDP gets the pin.

Thoughts: This was a decent battle royal that is elevated a little by Diamond Dallas Page’s one-on-one with the Barbarian. This is pretty much where he started to transition into a major player. However, his promised title shot would be taken away from him and given to Lex Luger since his feet may have touched the floor early on in the match. Otherwise, the first moments are pretty “meh”. Typical battle royal action and a lot of people that can’t win. 5/10

The Giant (w/Jimmy Hart) vs. Sting (w/Lex Luger)

Lex Luger and Jimmy Hart are handcuffed together to stop any interference (which will turn out to not work at all). Sting attacks the Giant right at the start, but nothing he does seems to have an effect. The Giant goes on the offensive, but misses an elbow smash. Sting goes for the bodyslam, but he collapses under the weight of the Giant and almost gets pinned. The Giant dominates, beating on Sting on the ground and then in a corner. He steps on the Stinger a little bit and then puts him in the corner again, delivering a series of shoulder thrusts.  He delivers a headbutt to his abdomen. He then puts him in a body scissors with his large legs. This goes on for a while, as the Giant keeps using the ropes for leverage. He finally gets caught by the ref and has to release the hold. Sting goes for a kick, but gets thrown outside. They end up in the entranceway, where the Giant lifts Sting for a chokeslam. He aims for a table, but Luger drags Jimmy Hart onto it, convincing the Giant to put down Sting.

The action gets back in the ring. The Giant delivers a dropkick, but Luger intervenes again, pulling Sting out of the way. The ref accidentally gets knocked out, just as Sting starts to get in successful offense by trapping the Giant in the corner and hitting him with kicks, Stinger Splashes, and punches. The Giant starts choking Luger, while getting hit with Stinger Splashes from behind. The Giant is knocked down onto the mat for the first time by a dropkick. Sting sees Jimmy Hart trying to interfere and goes for a Stinger Splash. Luger actually pulls Hart out of the way and Sting misses, only to bounce back onto the Giant. Sting jumps from the turnbuckle onto his opponent, but is thrown off. Sting hits him with the same move and puts on the Scorpion Deathlock. Luger and Hart have a scuffle and accidentally hit Sting with Hart’s megaphone. The Giant takes advantage and hits the chokeslam for the pin.

Thoughts: This is a good, if not great title match. It’s way better than any of the Hogan vs. Giant matches. I think it’s because Sting doesn’t have Hogan’s ego, so he’s willing to make the Giant look like a monster and get dominated and pinned. Hogan’s bouts with the Giant would end in disqualification or something super goofy like the Dungeon of Doom ruining the match. 6/10

Overall Thoughts

The Lethal Lottery was an interesting idea, but was always being shoved into a three hour PPV, often alongside other matches. The concept would be better served if it was split over several weekly shows like Monday Nitro and WCW Saturday Night, with the final round and battle royal on the PPV. The matches here are just too short, better suited for Nitro. There’s a problem when jobber Brad Armstrong has one of the best matches. The main drawback can be a bit of a blessing in disguise, since in order to get things done quick the wrestlers do very little rest holds or lengthy amounts of stomping and punching. This is a slightly below average PPV. The three title matches aren’t amazing, but look great in comparison to everything else.

Final Rating: 4/10

Wrestlemania 31 Review

WM31Date: March 29, 2015

Venue: Levi’s Stadium, San Clara, California

Attendance: 76,976

Quick Ratings (to avoid spoilers)

Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (w/Natalya) vs. Los Matadores (w/El Torito) vs. the New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. the Usos (w/Naomi) 8/10

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal 5/10

7-Man Intercontinental Title Ladder Match 8/10

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins 9/10

Sting vs. Triple H 6/10

AJ Lee & Paige vs. the Bella Twins 6/10

Rusev vs. John Cena 8/10

Bray Wyatt vs. the Undertaker 5/10

Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns 8/10

On the Pre-Show

Tag Team Title Match: Cesaro & Tyson Kidd (w/Natalya) vs. Los Matadores (w/El Torito) vs. the New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) vs. the Usos (w/Naomi)

The Build-Up: After winning several matches against former champions the Usos in both singles and tag action, Cesaro & Tyson Kidd finally won the Belts at WWE Fastlane on February 22. There’s not much story here other than the other tag teams all want the titles so they’ve all been fighting each other for the past few weeks. There is friction between Natalya, Tyson Kidd’s wife, and Naomi, Jimmy Uso’s wife, but it’s not at the center stage of this “feud”.

The Match: Cesaro and Kofi Kingston start things off. Jey Uso gets knocked off the apron and injured, leaving Jimmy to fend for himself. After putting Kingston in a headlock, Cesaro tags in Tyson Kidd. Cesaro swings Kingston into a dropkick from Kidd. Jimmy Uso tags himself in and starts dominating, hitting everybody with superkicks and running hip splashes. Big E tags himself in by tapping Cesaro, who uppercuts Jimmy Uso and goes for a pin. However, he can’t get it since he is no longer the legal man. Big E throws Kingston onto Cesaro. After some more fighting Big E ends up on the apron. Cesaro manages to suplex him back inside the ring. One of Los Matadores ( I seriously can’t tell Diego and Fernando apart. With the masks they look too alike) kicks Cesaro onto Big E. Jimmy Uso gets suplexed onto both of them. One of Los Matadores hits a Senton Splash on Cesaro before getting him with a sweet backbreaker/powerbomb combo.

Tyson Kidd saves Cesaro from getting pinned. The fight spills to the floor. Kingston boots Kidd. El Torito hurricaranas Kingston into the barricade only for Natalya to lock him into the sharpshooter and make him tap out. JImmy and his wife Naomi both dive to the outside to bowl over the other participants. Naomi knocks down Natalya. Big E and Kofi Kingston hit the Big Ending on one of Los Matadores, but their pin attempt is broken by Cesaro and Jimmy Uso. Everyone starts running into each other’s signature moves before, in the best spot of the match, Cesaro and Big E both suplex two guys at once!  Jimmy Uso hits his signature splash for the pin, but Cesaro knocks him off and steals it, letting himself and Tyson Kidd retain the titles.

Thoughts: Really fun match! The closest it got to having a dull spot was a brief headlock near the beginning. Pretty much all the moves I wanted to see were in this match, and they came up with some uinique spots like having Big E and Cesaro suplex a bunch of guys at once. It was also nice seeing Cesaro and Tyson Kidd, two of the best in-ring performers pick up the win. I wish Big E wasn’t stuck in this New Day gimmick because he was pretty awesome here. While there wasn’t any drama, I’m going to give this match a very high rating. 8/10

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Participants: Adam Rose, Alex Riley, Big E, Big Show, Bo Dallas, Cesaro, Curtis Axel, Damien Mizdow, Darren Young, Diego, Erick Rowan, Fandango, Fernando, Goldust, Heath Slater, Hideo Itami, Jack Swagger, Jimmy Uso, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Konnor, Mark Henry, the Miz Ryback, Sin Cara, Titus O’Neil, Tyson Kidd, Viktor, Xavier Woods, & Zack Ryder

Build-Up: Basically, everyone not in an important match at Wrestlemania wants to win the second Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. There are some feuds between participants in the match. Kane and Big Show, as members of the Authority, have had some dissension for the past few weeks. Jealous of his stunt double Damien Mizdow, the Miz turned him into his personal assistant and is now treating him like garbage. After beign robbed of his Royal Rumble spot, Curtis Axel went off the deep spot and started proclaiming that there is a wave of Axelmania, and that he was definitely going to win the battle royal. Also, Hideo Itami want a mini-tournament against other top NXT stars to get into the battle royal.

The Match: Curtis Axel rips off his Axelmania shirt and starts bragging, which convinces everybody to gang up on him and, after carrying him around for a while, throw him out. Adam Rose and Fandango both wind up on the apron and eliminate each other. The Miz is attacked by his former henchman Alex Riley, but current henchman Mizdow comes to his aid and Riley is eliminated. Bo Dallas eliminates Zack Ryder and runs a couple celebratory laps around the ring, acting like he’s just won the whole thing. Right after he gets back in the ring Hideo Itami kicks him out. Itami faces off with the Big Show and is eliminated. Kane eliminates Los Matadores. Cesaro eliminates Sin Cara and Mark Henry tosses out Tyson Kidd. The Ascension take out Mark Henry. Soon after Ryback clotheslines both of them out at once. Half the participants are gone.

Ryback is now on a tear, taking out Darren Young, Heath Slater, and Titus O’Neil. The Big Show takes out Jack Swagger. All three members of the New Day gang up on him and with some nice teamwork get him over the top rope. The Big Show actually hangs on and gets back in to eliminate the entire faction. Erick Rowan also falls prey to the Big Show. There are eight guys left. Ryback stops the Big Show’s dominance and then eliminates Goldust. Cesaro lifts up Kane and throws him out. The Big Show eliminates Jimmy Uso. Cesaro tries to repeat last year’s feat of bodyslamming the Big Show to the floor, but this time he fails and is tossed out instead. It’s a final four of the Big Show, Damien Mizdow, the Miz, and Ryback. Ryback dominate the Big Show, even getting him with a spinebuster. The Big Show turns things around and chokes the Big Guy to the floor. The Miz tells Damien Mizdow they need to team up on the Big Show, but Mizdow finally has had enough of being bossed around and eliminates the Miz! The fans are excited, but it was a dumb move on Mizdow’s part. Seriously, team up to take out the large monster and then get revenge on the Miz. Anyways, despite being the underdog Mizdow almost eliminates the Big Show twice, but winds up being dropped to the floor.

Thoughts: This was a pretty fun battle royal, though not as good as last year’s. I thought Sheamus was going to make a comeback for this one, but that didn’t happen. What keeps this from getting a higher rating is the ending. The fans obviously wanted to see Ryback or Damien Mizdow win, but both wound up getting eliminated by the Big Show, who at this moment is well past his prime and considered boring by many. The moment when Mizdow hit the floor was a real buzzkill. Having him win the Andre trophy would have helped his storyline with the Miz, who would have had yet another reason to be jealous of him. 5/10

On the Main Show

7-Man Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Title

Participants: Bad News Barrett (c), Daniel Bryan, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Luke Harper, R-Truth, & Starudst

Build-Up: For the past few years the Intercontinental Title has been devalued. Whoever holds the belt winds up losing most or maybe even all of his non-title matches. What was once a prestigious belt for promising up-and-comers or popular wrestlers outside of the main event can now end up on anybody. Last year Wade Barrett returned as Bad News Barrett, a loudmouth who would proclaim “I have some bad news” and then run down his opponent or the fans. This gimmick actually ended up being pretty popular and despite being a heel he got choruses of cheers. Then,after winning the Intercontinental Title and winning a lot of matches, he suffered a separated shoulder and was out of action for months. Shortly after returning at the end of 2014, he won back the title in a 2 out of 3 falls match against Dolph Ziggler.

Unfortunately, the WWE tried to have fans boo him by getting rid of all of his popular characteristics. Instead he received no reaction. He also started losing almost every match where his title was not on the line, even to the likes of Sin Cara and R-Truth. After winning by DQ (yes, not by pinfall or submission) at Fastlane, his title was stolen by Dean Ambrose. R-Truth then stole the title from Ambrose and for weeks a horde of midcarders were stealing the belt from each other while making Barrett look like an idiot. One good thing did come out of this, and that’s a seven man ladder match at Wrestlemania featuring some of the best wrestlers (namely Daniel Bryan and Dolph Ziggler).

The Match: There are a couple of things of note during the entrances. Barrett comes out to almost no reaction. Stardust wears the cape of X-Men villain Mr. Sinister, which is pretty cool. The match itself starts with everybody being tossed one by one over the same top rope. R-Truth dives onto all of them save Ambrose, who decides to climb a ladder set up by the ramp.. From there he jumps on all of his opponents. Some of the participants get back into the ring. Bryan backs Barrett into a corner and places a ladder over him. Stardust winds up in the same corner and Bryan starts hitting them with repeated running running knees. Harper stops this by slamming a ladder right into Bryan. Harper tries to climb for the title, but Bryan hits him and he hangs upside down. Stardust brings out a special glitter ladder! Howver, he is attacked and never gets it into the ring. Luke Harper dominates for a couple minutes.

Stardust climbs for the title, but gets superplexed off by Barrett. Bryan and Ziggler both climb up, but Ambrose does his signature off-the-ropes clothesline and they fall with the ladder. In the most brutal moment, Harper powerbombs Ambrose right out of the ring into a ladder, which breaks in two. Dolph Ziggler hits Harper with the Zig Zag. Ambrose is attended to by medics and is pretty much out of the match.Barrett goes on a Bullhammer rampage until Bryan finally stops him with a running knee. Bryan and Ziggler, the two most popular participants, climb up the ladder and slug it out. Bryan wins out with a couple headbutts, sending Ziggler falling to the mat. He grabs the belt and becomes the Intercontinental Title.

Thoughts: This was a fantastic match! There were a lot of awesome, brutal spots and Bryan and Ziggler always deliver. My only complaint is that the match could have been at least five minutes longer. A couple of the participants didn’t really have a chance to do much, especially R-Truth and Dean Ambrose. Still, this is a great opener to the main show. Hopefully having the most popular star hold the Intercontinental Title restores its prestige. 8/10

Randy Orton vs. Seth Rollins (w/Jamie Noble & Joey Mercury)

Build-Up: Randy Orton and Seth Rollins were the two top dogs of the Authority in 2014. This led to them butting heads, with Orton tiring of Rollin’s arrogant, entitled attitude. In October Orton lost his match at Hell in a Cell, while Rollins was successful. Rollins rubbed this in Orton’s face. The Viper snapped, but the Authority teamed up and beat on him until Rollins Curb Stomped his head through concrete blocks. Orton returned at Fastlane in February to chase Rollins out of the arena. The next night Stephanie McMahon smoothed things over between the two and convinced Orton to rejoin the Authority. Or so it seemed. On one episode of Raw most of the Authority was out of the arena. Seizing the opportunity, Orton turned on Rollins in the middle of the main event and delivered a ten-minute beatdown. A match was thus set for Wrestlemania.

The Match: There is a little back-and-forth for a minute before Orton actually sets up for an RKO. Rollins shoves him off before he can complete the move. After they countered each other for a few seconds Orton got in control for the rest of the early going. Rollins got some momentum back and hit his opponent with a running powerbomb into the turnbuckle. Orton regains control quickly, prompting J & J Security to run in. Orton takes down both of them. He gets out of the ring and drags Rollins’ henchmen into a Double DDT off the apron, Rollins dives into Orton and starts to dominate. There is another spot where they counters several of each other’s moves, ending with Rollins getting powerslammed. Orton goes for his elevated DDT. Rollins manages to flip him outside of the ring and hits a moonsault. Rollins actually hits his back on the announcer’s table while doing this.

Rollins gets Orton back into the ring and goes on the turnbuckle. Orton knocks him off and goes for a splash. Rollins counters it into a pin. Orton kicks out and hits him with a DDT. RKO! But he only gets a two count. J & J Security finally recover, but end up running intro RKOs. Rollins uses the distraction to Curb Stomp Orton. Orton kicks out at two. Orton rolls out of the way of a moonsault from the turnbuckle, but Rollins rolls onto his feet and kicks Orton, setting up another Curb Stomp. As his foot goes on Orton’s head, the Viper suddenly rises, shoving Rollins into a midair position and RKOing him! Orton gets the win.

Thoughts: I would say this was the best match of the night! Orton and Rollins had counters prepared for every signature move. The final RKO was amazing and may be the best one Orton ever delivered. It was also nice to see Orton break away from his slow-paced wrestling style, meaning there was never a dull moment to be had. Even his  usually slow entrance went by faster. Great match! 9/10

Sting vs. Triple H

Build-Up: Sting, who stuck with WCW through thick and thin, had a chance to go over to the WWE after WCW went belly-up. However, fearful (and judging by how other WCW stars were treated rightfully so) that his character would be ruined, he instead wound up in TNA, which he faithfully served for about a dozen years. Last year he made a shocking appearance at Survivor Series, helping Team Cena defeat COO Triple H’s Team Authority lose. The stipulation of the match was that if Triple H’s team lost, he and Stephanie McMahon were gone from the WWE. Although he weaseled his way back in a month later, Triple H was still angry at Sting. The vigilante made a couple other appearances to screw up HHH’s plans, so the leader of the Authority challenged him to a face-to-face confrontation. At Fastlane they decided to have a match at Wrestlemania. Not only was Sting finally going to fight in a WWE ring, he was doing so at the biggest stage of them all.

The Match: The entrances here are a bit bizarre. Sting’s music is accompanied by a group playing Japanese drums, even though there is nothing Japanese about his gimmick. Things get even weirder for Triple H. After a video package showing the San Francisco bay area, there is static followed by an image of a post-apocalyptic wasteland. Suddenly rising from the stage are Terminators, including Triple H in a Terminator costume! They’re promoting Terminator: Genysis in the middle of a wrestling match! Why? I guess Sting was saved by Robocop back in the day. Anyways, after the Terminator theme plays Arnold Schwarzenegger shows up on screen and says “It’s time to play the game”, leading into Triple H’s familiar theme and entrance. Well, that was entertaining at least.

Sting dominates the early going, even no-selling HHH’s signature knee smash. He even delivers a dropkick (Sting is 55 years old right now). Triple H turns the tide and the match slows down as he beats up his opponent. He finally goes on the turnbuckle and jumps down at the dazed Sting, who stops him just at the right moment and applies the Scorpion Deathlock. As Triple H screams in pain, the DX music hits and X-Pac, Billy Gunn, and Road Dogg rush down to the ring. Sting manages to stop them all from entering the ring with a bunch of punches. Triple H takes advantage of the distraction to set up the Pedigree, but Sting flips him to the outside. Seeing DX huddled together, Sting takes a dive outside and takes them all out! The numbers game finally overwhelms Sting and Triple H hits the Pedigree on his second attempt. But Sting kicks out.

Triple H brings out the sledgehammer, only for the NWO (Scott Hall, Kevin Nash,and Hulk Hogan) to make their way down the ramp. NWO vs. DX breaks out! This doesn’t really make sense, though. The NWO was obsessed with destroying WCW, and Sting was their arch-enemy for over a year. Not to mention that Hall and Nash are always showing up on Raw as big buddies with DX. Anyways, Sting hits the Scorpion Death Drop, but HHH kicks out. Sting applies the Scorpion Deathlock again, but Triple H makes it to the ropes. Shawn Michaels runs in and hits Sweet Chin Music on Sting. Sting barely gets his shoulder up before the count of 3. DX hands Triple H the sledgehammer while the NWO gives sting the bat. The bat cleaves the sledgehammer in two! Sting hits Triple H with a Stinger Splash. He goes for a second, but is intercepted by the head of the broken sledgehammer. Triple H pins him. After the match they shake hands.

Thoughts: This was a fun match, even though a lot of things didn’t make sense or were really goofy, especially the Terminator entrance. I think Sting should have won here, but I guess WWE wouldn’t let Triple H lose to the face of WCW. Barely watching any TNA, I was shocked by how well an over-the-hill Sting moved, even delivering a dropkick and an outside dive. This gives me confidence that he can be in a few more dream matches before he quits wrestling for good. I would have given this match an extra point, but having Triple H win and then have him and Sting, who obviously despised each other in the build-up, shake hands, seemed a little off. 6/10

In-Between Matches

We get a ton of commercials, mainly for shows on the WWE Network. There is then a concert featuring Kid Ink, David Guetta, and Skylar Grey. I’m okay with concert entrances for wrestlers, but I really think a regular concert has no place on a wrestling show. Couldn’t they feature more wrestling instead? The commercials and concert take up about half an hour.

AJ Lee & Paige vs. the Bella Twins

Build-Up: Nikki Bella betrayed sister Brie at last year’s Summerslam, beginning a feud that featured the worst acting ever and an appearance by Jerry Springer. Nikki Bella later won a match at Hell in a Cell which bascially turned Brie into her slave for a month. Somehow they became best buddies again, with Brie helping Nikki cheat to win and afterwards retain the Diva’s championship. They started feuds with AJ Lee and Paige, setting up a tag team match.

The Match: Paige and Nikki roll around a little to start things off. Nikki knocks AJ Lee off the apron and onto the floor. She hits Paige with the Alabama Slam. Paige is dragged into the Bellas’ corner and double-teamed. Brie is tagged in and continues the beatdown. AJ Lee crawls back onto the apron, but is immediately knocked back onto the floor. Nikki is tagged back in. Paige finally turns the tide, tossing around the Bellas and tagging in AJ Lee. She gets Nikki with the Thesz Press, followed by a Tornado DDT off of the top rope. She locks on the Black Widow, but Brie breaks it up. A little later she trips up AJ, prompting Paige to throw right into the steel steps. AJ Lee locks on the Black Widow again and NIkki Bella taps out.

Thoughts: This was a fun, if too short, match. There were some pretty nice spots, mainly from AJ Lee. You also have to give kudos to Brie for taking that nasty bump into the steel steps. A good match hindered by a short running time. 6/10

In-Between Matches

We get a recap of the 2015 Hall of Fame. The inductees stand on stage. For some reason Kevin Nash gets to come out to his music. We also get a lot more commercials It’s been about an hour and all we’ve gotten is a seven minute Divas match. Shouldn’t Wrestlemania have more wrestling?

Rusev (w/Lana) vs. John Cena for the US Title

Men in Russian soldier uniforms stand on stage with artillery. The Russian National anthem, which sounds awesome, plays as they fire off the artillery pieces. Then Rusev comes out riding a freaking tank! He finally gets out and waves the Russian flag, accompanied by Lana and marching Russian soldiers. A pro-America video with iconic footage of American workers and soldiers plays, backed by parts of speeches from various American presidents. John Cena comes out with surprisingly, no American-themed attire, not even a flag. Rusev demands that Lilian Garcia introduce him first.

Right out of the gate Cena clotheslines Rusev. Shortly afterwards Rusev hits a flying wheel kick, followed later on by a hard-hitting suplex. After further tearing into Cena, Rusev grabs the Russian flag and starts waving it around. This gives Cena the time he needs to mount a comeback, kicking Rusev in the shoulder. He hits the five-knuckle shuffle, but fails to hit the Attitude Adjustment. He locks in the STF, but Rusev gets to the ropes. Rusev sets up Cena for a superplex off the turnbuckle, but Cena knocks him off and hits him with a double leg drop. Rusev gets out of an Attitude Adjustment  and superkicks Cena. Cena kicks out of a pin and the match goes back and forth some more.

Rusev knees Cena in the face and slams him on the mat for a two count. Cena locks in the STF. Lana throws in a shoe, but it doesn’t really help Rusev, who has to grab the ropes instead. Rusev hits Cena with a headbutt, but Cena comes back with a springboard stunner off the ropes! Rusev kicks out at two and overpowers Cena, putting him in the Accolade. After a very long time Cena manages to stand up and ram back first into the ringpost, getting Rusev off him. Cena applies the STF, but lets go when Lana distracts the referee on the apron. Cena senses Rusev charging him from behind and gets out of the way. Rusev collides with Lana, sending her to the floor. He winds up walking into an Attitude Adjustment and Cena gets the win. Rusev has finally been pinned!

Thoughts: To be honest I was rooting for Rusev, especially after that awesome entrance. Still, this was a great match, like their previous one at Fastlane. It wasn’t as back-and-forth, but momentum did keep shifting. There were a lot of counters, some I didn’t mention, but the best was Cena’s springboard stunner. It’s interesting to note that Rusev was somewhat protected in defeat, as Cena was only able to get him with his finisher after he had collided with Lana. I wonder what direction Rusev is going to go now that his “undefeated” streak is over. 8/10

Authority Segment

Triple H and Stephanie McMahon come out to announce record-setting attendance record of 76,976. They start bragging about how they control the WWE and how they own every wrestler and, worse, every single fan. This gets them a lot of boos. The Rock’s music hits and as usual it takes him forever to start talking because the fans won’t stop cheering and chanting his name. The Rock and Triple H go back and forth on how they perceive the fans. Stephanie McMahon tells the Rock that he, Dwayne Johnson, would be nothing if not for Vince McMahon. The Rock tells her she would be nothing without her father’s Johnson. Stephanie slaps him and tells the Rock to leave, pointing out that he wouldn’t hurt a woman.

As the Rock starts to leave, he remembers something: UFC women fighter Ronda Rousey is in the front row! He invites her to step inside the ring with him. Stephanie McMahon tries to convince Ronda not to hit her and that they were friends. She tells her to leave her ring, that it is the McMahons’ ring. Rousey says any ring she’s in is hers and dares Stephanie to make her leave. Violence finally breaks out. The Rock punches Triple H, who is whipped out of the ring by an arm drag from Rousey. Rousey puts a painful arm lock on Stephanie McMahon and she makes a retreat. This was a fairly fun segment, though it dragged on way too long with the Rock’s five minute entrance and an over-long verbal battle. In literally an hour and a half there has been about half an hour of matches, less if you take out the entrances.

Bray Wyatt vs. the Undertaker

Build-Up: After defeating Dean Ambrose several times and giving a strong performance in the Royal Rumble, Bray Wyatt started to deliver promos aimed at an unknown opponent, asking him to “find me”. Fans easily figured out that it was the Undertaker, as Wyatt referenced a demon who had died and needed to be revived (this referenced the end of the Undertaker’s streak at Wrestlemania 30). The Undertaker never showed up and Wyatt had to do all of the work. He claimed he would put the Deadman out of his misery and become the new face of fear. He finally sent a lightning bolt to set Wyatt’s rocking chair on fire, accepting his Wrestlemania challenge.

The Match: Wyatt brings scarecrows to life as he makes his way to the ring. They even shuffle after him! After a long pause the Undertaker’s gong strikes and he makes his usual epic entrance. Right after the bell rings, Wyatt runs straight into a big boot. Taker hits him with a few strikes in the corner. He twists his arm and follows up with a clothesline. He also hits Old School. Wyatt finally hits Taker and knocks him to the outside. The Deadman lands on his feet and pulls out Wyatt. He then leg drops him across the neck as his head sticks over the apron. The momentum shifts in Wyatt’s favor when he cuts off a charge. Wyatt dominates his opponent for a couple minutes, taking the fight to the outside and ramming his head into the steel steps.

Back in the ring Taker Tries to apply Hell’s Gate, but fails. Wyatt hits him with a sideslam. He goes for Sister Abigail, but winds up getting chokeslammed. Taker hits the Tombstone Piledriver. Wyatt kicks out and soon connects with Sister Abigail. The Undertaker kicks out of that. Wyatt goes into his spider walk. As he does the Undertake sits up and they stare at each other! Awesome! Wyatt goes for another Sister Abigail, but it is countered into a Tombstone Piledriver. Taker wins.

Thoughts: This was a so-so match. As with last year the Undertaker’s age and years of injuries really showed. They managed to get all of his more athletically challenging moves out of the way early before he started to wind down. There was a lot of basic beatings that wasn’t really exciting. Things picked up at the end with the finishers and the spider-walk vs. sit-up, but it wasn’t enough to make this a good match. It would also have been neat to see Bray Wyatt win and become the new supernatural presence of the WWE now that the Undertaker only shows up once or twice a year. Where exactly does he go from here? 5/10

Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns

Build-Up: As a third of the Shield, Roman Reigns became quite popular, a badass with power moves that would destroy his opponents. He was also being groomed as the next John Cena. Then he suffered a hernia that put him out for several months. When he came back, he was doing ridiculous promos (believed to have been written by Vince McMahon) and became an unlikable and boring character compared to other top faces. Then Daniel Bryan returned in time for the Royal Rumble match. The winner of said match would get a title shot at Wrestlemania. Everybody wanted Bryan to win, but WWE stuck to its guns and had Bryan get eliminated halfway through the match. Roman Reigns came in and delivered a strong performance, but the fans rejected him, booing him mercilessly even when his cousin the Rock came out to offer his support.

WWE tried hard to make Reigns look better. He beat Daniel Bryan at Fastlane to cement his No. 1 contendership for the World Title. Then Bryan talked about how awesome he was. Then Heyman said that Roman Reigns could and would beat anyone from Hulk Hogan to John Cena, with the exception of his client Brock Lesnar. But no matter how hard they tried, the minds behind WWE couldn’t get enough fans to support their new hero. Thus Brock Lesnar was getting all the cheers when Wrestlemania finally came.

The Match: Roman Reigns’ entrance takes longer since he has to walk through a stadium instead of an arena. Brock Lesnar also takes longer, walking around the whole ring instead of just getting in. Paul Heyman refuses to let Lilian Garcia announce Brock Lesnar and does it himself, because he’s awesome on the mic. Once the bell rings Lesnar goes right for the German suplex. Reigns manages to stop him from executing it, but not for long. After his first German suplex of the night, Lesnar delivers the F-5. Rather than go for the pin, Lesnar toys with his opponent, kneeing him in the ribs, giving him hard punches, and of course delivering a lot of German suplexes.

While tangling in the ropes, Reigns manages to get in a few hits, but he ends up being knocked off the apron and into the barricade. Lesnar hits another F-5 and covers Reigns. Reigns kicks out at two. Lesnar starts slapping Reigns, who actually laughs back at him! Lesnar delivers two more German suplexes and hits a third F-5. Reigns kicks out again and Lesnar takes him outside the ring. Reigns manages to shove the world champ into the ring post. Lesnar’s face is cut open and he’s bleeding. It looks like he actually hit the post face first for real! After getting back in the ring, Lesnar gets hit with a stream of Superman punches, but he just won’t fall down. After two spears Reigns is able to cover the Beast, but he kicks out at two. Reigns runs at him for what is probably another Superman punch, but is caught and F-5’d. Lesnar can’t get himself up to pin him.

Suddenly Rollins’ music hits and he runs to the ring. He cashes in his Money in the Bank contract. This is now a triple threat match! He Curb Stomps Lesnar. He goes for a second, but Lesnar pops up and lifts him up for an F-5. Reigns spears Lesnar and knocks him out of the ring. Rollins Curb Stomps Reigns and gets the win. New WWE World Heavyweight Champion!

Thoughts: This match actually delivered some surprises. I thought for sure Roman Reigns wasn’t going to get tossed around like John Cena at last year’s Summerslam. Having Rollins cash in his Money in the Bank contract and pin Reigns to end the match was a smart move that got the title off of Lesnar without making him look weak and made sure that the unpopular Reigns didn’t become World Champion. It was a pretty good match, but Reigns could have proved himself more if he did more than his two finishing moves. 8/10

Overall Thoughts

This was a pretty solid Wrestlemania, not near as good as last year’s with the whole Daniel Bryan story. The opening matches were great, Sting vs. Triple H was fun, Cena vs. Rusev was great, and the main event was fantastic. The pre-show matches were fun, too. My main problem was that there was over an hour of non-wrestling fluff. The Hall of Fame rundown was nice, but the concert is  waste of time and the segment with the Rock went on far too long. A lot of the entrance were dragged out, too. You don’t have to have a ton of hype built up before the start of each match! That being said, there were some amazing entrances. Even Triple H’s shameless Terminator plug was entertaining. WWE also continues to be over-reliant on nostalgia, bringing out the Rock, Undertaker, and a bunch of DX and NWO guys.

I will give this PPV a pretty good rating. I highly recommend it, because all of the matches save the Undertaker bout were at least good. Next year they should cut down on the fluff and maybe put the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on the main card.

Final Rating: 8/10