By all accounts WrestleMania 31 was a triumphant for World Wrestling Entertainment. With an undercard that was less than desirable going into the event, the sports entertainment giant booked a number of surprises to keep the audience on edge.
It’s been quite some time since WWE has had a well-rounded event; usually their pay-per-views are worth tuning in for one or two matches. With a roster overflowing with talent, the sports entertainers went all out for the Super Bowl of Wrestling. But it was the returns of former wrestlers that would create memorable moments, including one that would have the rumor mill speculating on a possible match for next year’s WrestleMania in Dallas.
But before all the pageantry at the “Showcase of the Immortals,” as the legendary wrestling commentator Gorilla Monsoon once opined, there was a man who delivered a WrestleMania surprise in the form of a wedding proposal. Not only did he get a “Yes” reply, but he got the “Yes! Yes! Yes!” audience chant.
Less than 24 hours after hosting NBC’s Saturday Night Live, Dwayne Johnson flew from New York to San Francisco to be part of the event. Having main-evented WrestleMania against “Stone Cold” Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan in the past, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson would turn his attention to Hollywood to become an A-list action star. Despite his Hollywood success, Johnson still pops into the WWE, especially when WrestleMania rolls around. He has played host (as he did at WrestleMania XXVII) as well as laced his boots and stepped into the squared circle against WWE superstar John Cena.
After the fifth televised WrestleMania match, where Cena was victorious over the undefeated U.S. champion Rusev, World Wrestling Entertainment cooled things off with Stephanie McMahon and Triple H cutting a promo on the fans. The power couple, known as The Authority, announced that this year’s WrestleMania set a new Levi’s Stadium attendance record of 76,976. Then they started gloating about what they have accomplished, including Triple H’s victory earlier at the event. This prompted The Rock to come to the ring. Still showing why he’s one of the best on the microphone, Johnson exchanged insults only to have Stephanie McMahon slap him across the face, taunting him that he wouldn’t hit a woman. The Rock may not, but he had a surprise of his own. Sitting in the front row was Ronda Rousey, Johnson’s co-star in Furious 7 (the seventh installment in the Fast & Furious franchise) and the current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion. This created quite the stir both at the event and in media outlets covering WrestleMania. Soon after she entered the ring, The Rock attacked Triple H and Rousey showed her authority by throwing The Authority from the ring, but not before teasing an armbar on Stephanie.
Now the speculation is that The Rock will face Triple H as part of WrestleMania 32 in Dallas, TX next April. Considering Rousey’s ties with UFC a mixed tag with The Rock n’ Rousey Express against Stephanie McMahon and Triple H seems unlikely, but both ladies could get involved with the match.
Triple H’s victory over Sting earlier on the card featured no less than seven surprise guests. D-Generation X members Road Dogg, Billy Gunn and X-Pac ran to the ring in an attempt to help Triple H. In response, Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash and Scott Hall came down to ringside to help Sting. It was like a flashback to the Monday Night Wars between WWE and then-rival WCW (World Championship Wrestling) in the late 1990s. Triple H’s anti-authority faction D-Generation X once tried to invade a WCW live event in April 1998. They were unsuccessful. But as members of DX and the New World Order (NWO) fought at ringside, Triple H’s best friend, Shawn Michaels, came to the ring and delivered his patented Sweet Chin Music finisher to Sting.
Both DX and NWO members have made WWE TV appearances in the last year, but Hogan, Nash and Hall haven’t taken bumps in their recent appearances like they did on Sunday. As for The New Age Outlaws (Road Dogg and Billy Gunn), they have competed in a limited capacity, winning tag team gold at last year’s Royal Rumble and competing in the 2015 Rumble match.
Another WrestleMania surprise had former Intercontinental champions congratulating newly crowned champion Daniel Bryan during a backstage segment. The former champs included Pat Patterson, Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, Bret Hart, “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and Ric Flair.
But the best WrestleMania surprise may have been saved for last during the main event that had reigning WWE World Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar defending his title against Roman Reigns. With both men having pummeled each other with a barrage of suplexes, spear tackles and “Superman Punches,” last year’s Money in the Bank winner, Seth Rollins, cashed in his title shot and made the match a Triple Threat title match where he would prevail and claim the heavyweight championship.
WWE offered more surprises the night following WrestleMania 31 on USA’s Monday Night Raw with the television debuts of Neville and Calisto. And this former world champion returned after being on the disabled list for a few months.
[Image courtesy of WWE]