In the lead-up to WrestleMania 36 on April 4 and 5, Sportsnet will be airing three of the past five WrestleManias for WWE fans across Canada. Check out the full broadcast schedule here.
WrestleMania 30 is first on the schedule, airing Sunday at 12:00 p.m. ET/9 a.m. PT, and Kevin Michie is looking back at the event’s biggest moments to tee it up.
WWE celebrated the 30th edition of WrestleMania in 2014. The event was marked with big-time surprises and monumental victories.
Let’s take a look back at the event and some observations six years later.
The Undertaker’s WrestleMania streak shouldn’t have ended
I still understand it. I still get why Brock Lesnar defeated The Undertaker.
It set up Lesnar to be an impossible-to-beat monster of a wrestler. Lesnar went on to massacre John Cena at SummerSlam of that same year to win the World Heavyweight Championship. In the six years following his win over ‘Taker, Lesnar has held numerous world titles for extended periods of time, and has looked every bit as dominant as this win should have made him look.
In theory, Brock Lesnar had every reason to defeat The Undertaker, and end his perfect 21-0 WrestleMania record.
It still shouldn’t have happened.
There was nothing in wrestling that was so perfect. The streak started accidentally, with Undertaker winning without much thought put beyond a year or so in advance. The streak ended very deliberately, seemingly without much thought put beyond a year or so in advance.
The Undertaker’s place on a WrestleMania card, particularly in the 10 years leading up to this match when his status as a full-time wrestler waned, was sacred. Who would The Deadman wrestle with the streak on the line?
His matches meant so much more, which helped produce some of the greatest matches in his career. His four-match series with Shawn Michaels and Triple H provided fans with some of the greatest matches in WrestleMania history. Without the streak, it feels more like just another legend back in the ring to garner a little extra interest in ‘Mania.
The legacy of The Undertaker will always be placed in the highest regard, there is no argument there. But there was just something about the streak that put an exclamation mark at the end of what is a Mount Rushmore-type career. It’s gone now, forever tarnishing a character that should have been known as the greatest WrestleMania performer ever.
Daniel Bryan’s WWE Championship win was the best of the decade
This storyline leading up to WrestleMania showed fans what a lot of them didn’t think WWE had in it: the ability to change.
Bryan winning the WWE title in the main event of WrestleMania was certainly never an original plan concocted by the decision makers in WWE. However, the crowd reaction to Bryan was impossible to ignore in the months leading up to WrestleMania. A crowd hadn’t been behind a wrestler in the way they were behind Bryan since, arguably, Eddie Guerrero.
WWE adjusted plans to place Bryan in the main event challenging for the WWE Championship by way of an emotionally gripping storyline with Triple H. Bryan literally and metaphorically fought his way into the main event slot by defeating HHH in the opening match of the night, before finally capturing the gold in a triple-threat match against Randy Orton and Batista.
Bryan’s “Yes” movement was so captivating that it made its way into the mainstream, where you could find athletes performing the “Yes” chant. The New York Islanders even made it a post-goal crowd celebration where the entire crowd would chant, “Yes!”
Bryan and the “Yes” movement made his main event match the best WWE championship match at WrestleMania of the last decade.
Cesaro should have challenged for a major WWE title after WrestleMania 30
Cesaro won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in pretty spectacular fashion. Cesaro picked up The Big Show in a manner that it made it look like he was going to body slam him, a la Hulk Hogan on Andre at WrestleMania 3, and dumped him over the top rope to secure the win. It was a really cool way to give a then-33-year-old Cesaro a marquee victory at the biggest event of the year.
On Raw the night after ‘Mania, Cesaro jettisoned manager Zeb Colter in favour of Paul Heyman. Cesaro was garnering stronger and stronger reactions from the WWE audience, while Heyman had the ability to sell water to fish, therefore making it look like the duo had a bright future together.
But just as it all seemed to be coming together for Cesaro, his momentum disintegrated. In July, Cesaro’s partnership with Heyman was ended without any sort of noteworthy storyline to explain the separation. Cesaro then went on to lose a lot of matches on television, eventually turning into a tag-team wrestler by the end of the year.
In an interview with Stone Cold Steve Austin in 2014, WWE chairman Vince McMahon said that Cesaro was missing charisma, verbal skills, and the ever-elusive “it” factor.
I think Cesaro had an “it” factor, but it was a different “it” than what McMahon was looking for. If Cesaro were given a chance to run with a major title in a babyface role alongside Paul Heyman, I think he could have been a top guy. Instead, the momentum gained after his win at WrestleMania 30 instead slowly faded away.