Thursday, 12 February 2015

WrestleMania XXVIII

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 498 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: July 30 2012

"Once In A Lifetime". So went the slogan of the twenty-eighth WrestleMania, largely due to the main event of The Rock vs. John Cena. As it turned out, the tag-line did not apply as they had a rematch at the following WM, and the DVD is not exactly life-changing either. However, it was still a very entertaining WrestleMania, and the same applies for the DVD release.

Held on April 1, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami, Florida, WM 28 was one of the really big Mania cards. It is preceded by a three-way tag in which Epico and Primo successfully retain the doubles gold against The Usos and the team of Tyson Kidd and Justin Gabriel (which is here as a DVD extra). After a memorable performance of America The Beautiful by Lilian Garcia (accompanied by a brilliantly-timed fly pass), the show opens with a World Heavyweight Title bout that lasts 18 seconds. Yes, 18 seconds as Sheamus captures the prize from Daniel Bryan after one Brogue Kick. Fans were outraged at the time, but had this not occurred, Bryan may never have become such a hero to the WWE fan base on the back of the Yes Movement, which begins to take shape around this (very short) match.

Randy Orton vs. Kane is an underrated bout: it holds one's attention throughout and delivers a shock result as Kane pins the Viper. Big Show's victory over Cody Rhodes to end Cody's long first reign as Intercontinental Champion is less impressive, but does give Show a key WM victory at long last. Kelly Kelly and Maria Menonous vs. Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres is fairly short and inoffensive, but not a match you would really need to watch twice.

The next bout is one that you will want to watch over and over again. The Undertaker vs. Triple H, Hell In A Cell, Shawn Michaels as the referee. Of course, Taker's WM Streak was at stake in a bout that UT wanted to vanquish the memories of beating HHH at WM 27 but being carried out of the Georgia Dome.

It was described as the End Of An Era beforehand, which it wasn't (although some say it applied to the fact that this was the fourth and final WM in a row to link Taker with HBK and/or HHH). It is, however, an incredibly compelling, brutal and believable brawl. It had "scorcher" written all over it beforehand; the anticipation is immense as the Cell is lowered prior to the bell. And for thirty minutes it tells a truly great story as Shawn comes close to stopping the bout to preserve Taker's health as he takes another beating; but Taker's response to choke out Michaels to keep the match alive almost results in a DX screw job as a finisher combo comes a hairline away from making it 19-1. There are tons of big moves, the last being a final Tombstone to HHH which takes the Streak to 20-0. The post-match embrace between all three legends is a Mania moment in itself, and the emotion is enhanced by guest commentator Jim Ross. Truly, one of the top ten WrestleMania matches of all-time.

In hindsight, Taker probably should have retired here at 20-0. We wouldn't have had the classic UT-CM Punk match at WM 29, but he could have gone out on a high, with his legacy and his undefeated Mania record preserved, and after a classic match to boot. One can understand why UT would go until the Streak ended (in shocking fashion by Brock Lesnar at WM 30), but given the choice in retrospect, most fans will have preferred that WM 28 was his last stand. At the time, I felt that this should have been Triple H's swan-song too, although his record of achievement since then means that his decision to continue wrestling was probably the right one.

The presentation of the HOF 2012 inductees (more on them later) is followed by a 12-man tag in which John Laurinaitis gains control of Raw and SmackDown (further detail would take up too much space). Then, CM Punk defends the WWE Title against Chris Jericho. Some people loved this match, others felt it was a big let-down. I think it was somewhere in the middle: no, it wasn't a classic to rival Taker vs. HHH, but it was still a strong bout that allowed Punk to walk out of a WrestleMania as WWE Champion, even if it wasn't in the main event.

That brings us to the top-liner between John Cena and The Rock. Given the years of fantasy matchmaking by fans, an indirect challenge by Cena in 2009, and the one-year build-up from when it was announced in 2011, it's no exaggeration to call this the most anticipated match in WrestleMania history, if not WWE history. Beforehand, the goosebump-eliciting hype video and the entrances involving performances by MGK and Flo Rida enhance the spectacle even more, as does the pre-match stare down which evokes memories of Rock vs. Hogan at WM X8.

Like Punk vs. Jericho, fans either love or hate this match. I lean closer to the former in this case. This wasn't a technical classic, but it was never expected to be. This was promoted as the kind of match that embodies the term "sports-entertainment", and it delivers plenty of action, showmanship and, yes, entertainment that means the 30-minute bout (accompanied by a continuously huge crowd response in Rock's hometown) lives up to the hype. Despite the match being held in Miami, Rock's triumph was unexpected at the time, although it was booked for a reason, as we found out when Cena evened the score and achieved "redemption" at WM 29.

This DVD also includes the 2012 Hall Of Fame induction ceremony. Inducted here are Ron Simmons ("DAMN!" Sorry, I couldn't resist), Mil Mascaras, The Four Horsemen (Ric Flair, Arn Anderson, Barry Windham, Tully Blanchard and manager J.J. Dillon), Iron Mike Tyson (the celebrity inductee), Yokozuna and 2012 star inductee Edge. It is a show typical of this nature, with notable points being that Flair is inducted, for a second time, while still working for TNA; Tyson's bizarre yet humorous speech that follows a equally funny induction by DX; and the induction of Edge, one year after the Rated R Superstar was forced to retire on medical grounds. Overall, this isn't the most entertaining or historic Hall Of Fame ceremony in WWE to date, but both elements apply strongly enough that you should definitely enjoy it.

The other extras are in two parts. One consists of features totally relevant to WM 28: the pre-show press conference and the UT vs. HHH promo video (which, incidentally, is incredibly effective and is one of the top three hype videos in WWE history, in my opinion). The other part is based around The Rock. In 2012, a special edition of a Rock compilation was released on a limited scale in the US and included more matches. Somehow, for the UK market, these bouts are instead featured here. They see Rock clash with Triple H and Kane on Raw in 1998, his Royal Rumble 2000 victory and some promos in 1996 and 2003.

To summarise, WrestleMania XXVIII was probably the most anticipated WM of all-time, and whilst not an in-ring classic to rival the likes of WM X-Seven, it does deliver enough high-quality action, drama, entertainment and emotion that it is definitely in the top ten Manias in history. The HOF ceremony is entertaining enough, and the extras round off the package nicely. It is not a "Once In A Lifetime" DVD production, but it is a must-own for WWE fans nevertheless.

Overall Rating: 9/10 - Outstanding

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