When last we left our heroes, they were reaching a crescendo. Everything is peaking at just the right time. There's one show to go before WrestleMania; just three more hours before we know all of where we stand. Some will be the warmup, some will main event, but all will give their last to make a last impression. Enough talk. Let's get to it.
Live from Washington, DC – my town!
Your hosts have not changed since I began this gig and they're not about to now.
- Your special guest tonight is Bad News Barrett.
- There will be a Piper's Pit tonight.
- Your main event is Randy Orton against Batista.
- The SmackDown tapings feature We The People against Los Matadores.
- In a WWE App match, Kane will face a Shield member... but which one?
- Bray Wyatt has a match tonight.
- Barrett's past with Cena is being used to analyze Cena/Wyatt; that's a very good thing.
- Wait a moment – Brad Maddox is crashing the Pre-Show; he's announcing entrant #27. Himself. Seriously.
- There will be a press conference at 11AM tomorrow in New York. It will be on the WWE Network.
And first out of the gate is the Undertaker. For the record, I kinda miss when they'd avoid showing Undertaker entering from the back in order to make it look like he just appeared. It added to his mystique. Taker has a little trouble getting into the ring – it looks like he tripped over his trenchcoat, but he caught himself. We look back at last week's segment with coffin-fu by Taker to spook out and beat down Brock Lesnar. Taker looks at the sign as he soaks up the chants. He notes that 21 men have tried, and they've all been set down. He doesn't say he's better than his victims, but he just goes further than anyone else at WrestleMania; hence, the Streak. He knows Brock Lesnar is planning on how to break the Streak. He should, however, be thinking about what will happen when he goes to the deep water where he can't stand. Will Brock take Taker down to the bottom with him, or will he turn around and swim to shore? Every opponent has made the decision: they tried to swim, and they all failed. Taker knows how dangerous Brock is. He knows that many think Taker's time will come and that the Streak must end some day. (Crowd: NO.) There are many more who believe in three things that cannot be beaten: death, taxes, and the Streak. This Sunday, Brock will Rest In...
...wait, here's Brock. Paul Heyman doesn't mean to disrespect by interrupting – his client does, but not him. Brock has taken the position that this isn't a match Brock has to win; it's one the Undertaker must not lose. He may beat on Brock until Hell freezes over (Crowd: CM PUNK), but all it takes is one moment and three seconds to end it all. It will be the biggest WrestleMania moment since Hogan beat Andre when Brock ends the Streak. That's not a prediction, Heyman says; it's a spoiler. Heyman drops the mic and they walk off.
Or, rather, they start to. Brock stops, turns around, and he's on his way to the ring.
Undertaker discards his robe and is ready for battle – but Brock stops at the end of the ramp and looks at Taker and the sign. And just like that, he backs up. Not until WrestleMania, he says with a point. Crowd isn't happy with that... and Brock decides to go to the ring anyway! He hesitates... and with a smile, backs away again. And then he approaches again. This time, he rounds the steps. He begins to circle the ring... then just keeps right on circling and leaves again. But Heyman slides a chair in and Brock tries an ambush. It doesn't work, but Brock reverses a whip and levels Taker with a lariat. From there, it's an F-5 to the Taker. Even Heyman is surprised. JBL is on hyperdrive saying if this happens Sunday, the Streak's over. Brock wipes his brow and throws the sweat on Taker as he goes to leave. This is 100% what it had to be. Brock with the war cry as he jogs in place. Heyman: “Now he knows!”
Hey, WrestleMania is this Sunday on the WWE Network, but it's Mania Week on WWE Network before then. Press conference tomorrow at 11AM! Live programs all week! Legends Roundtable! Hall of Fame Ceremony on Saturday! Pre-show will be on at 5PM, with the tag title match opening during the show!
Remember that thing from moments ago? Here it is again. The announcers talk about what this means for Sunday.
Big E Langston v. Alberto Del Rio. This is non-title. Both men, as a reminder, are in the Andre match. Del Rio with kicks and headbutts to start, but a long criss-cross leads to a Langston tackle for one. Langston with a corner-to-corner tackle for two. Langston with a press slam for two. Another charge by Langston, but Del Rio sidesteps Langston into the post and works the arm. Del Rio stomps Langston's arm on the steps as we go to break.
Langston/Del Rio, part two. Del Rio with a top wristlock. Langston fights out and fires off a suplex. Blind charge hits elbow, and Del Rio does a cross between the cross armbreaker and the Tarantula. To the top, but Langston catches him into a backbreaker. Langston to the comeback with clotheslines and a Greco-Roman suplex. Ultimate Splash eats the knees. Low superkick misses, and Langston with a flapjack for two. Big Ending, but Del Rio counters to the Backstabber for two. Del Rio says it's Si Time, but Langston with a back drop and Ultimate Splash for two. Straps come down, but Del Rio with the armbreaker and cross armbar, but Langston powers to prevent the latter. Del Rio pounds the arm until the armbar is hooked. Langston back for the powerbomb counter, which connects for two with Del Rio grabbing the rope. Langston drags Del Rio in and puts him up top, but Del Rio is ready and gets a guillotine stomp. Low superkick connects for the pin at 10:28. **1/4
Tonight, Kane will face a Shield member. But which one? Go to the App to find out! Also, Randy Orton will face Batista in the main event tonight. Plus, HHH is going to host a Farewell to Yes tonight. But up next, Bray Wyatt and his Family.
The announcers talk about the Wyatt/Cena match and show us what happened last week. This takes us to the Family as Harper whistles us in. Wyatt addresses us about how the world wants change. It's too easy to love the garden and ignore the landfills. You can't whisper at people and expect them to believe you, so you must make them understand. “Do I have your attention now, kids?” Sister Abigail said Bray was a leader who would burn the world to the ground and leave ashes behind. “She said that I would change the world.” The fans will cry for Cena. In time, though, they will forget him, and he'll have nothing. They'll see Cena the same way Bray does: as a monster. “He's got the whole world in his hands...” (The crowd sings along? Whoa.)
Switching gears (without the clutch), we look back at Total Divas where Natalya and Summer Rae get in a huge argument. Apparently, calling someone a stripper is a bad idea. This leads to our next match, as someone in WWE decided that, hey, why don't we tie it into the main show? That's after the break.
SmackDown will be at WrestleMania Axxess. Tommy gets the night off.
(Cole said that SmackDown is brought to you by Domino's. ON RAW. Gregg, you have too much material.)
Summer Rae v. Natalya. Vickie Guerrero is on commentary. Catfight to start, as Natalya beats the tar out of Summer. Summer throws Natalya into the corner and kicks the back of the head before doing a plie and getting a clothesline for two. To the chinlock, as JBL hits on Vickie. Cole: “Get a room.” Natalya tries to elbow out, but Summer pulls the hair. Legdrop misses, and Natalya runs over Summer (literally) and gets a dropkick and suplex. Another suplex follows, but Summer slaps Natalya. Natalya with a discus lariat and a slap of her own, causing Summer to charge right into the Sharpshooter. Summer fights out and bails, but Natalya grabs her by the hair. Summer with a kick to the head... for the pin at 2:20? Well, that was abrupt. 1/4*
For the record, the Divas' Title match is sudden death.
The Authority are on their way to the ring to do Farewell to Yes, next.
Thanks to Eminem for allowing “Legacy” to be the theme for Cena/Wyatt.
Here comes the Authority now. Buy the Network now so you can get all of WrestleMania week. Stephanie says they're good people, so that's why tonight they can say Farewell to the Yes Movement before Bryan is destroyed. HHH says the fans won't care because there is no loyalty. They just want to be a part of something without putting forth any effort. They go for flavors of the day and move on. Just as a point: Fandango-ing, what happened to that? Yes, the McMahons are doing it. HHH even corrects Stephanie about not letting the A's breathe. It was a big deal... until it wasn't. And the worst part is that Johnny Curtis is a solid talent. B+/A- player. Crowd asks for CM Punk. Stephanie asks who wants to see Daniel Bryan, leading a YES chant. “Hunter, you're right; even I can get them to chant YES! You just want to be a part of something!” Chant all you want, but Daniel Bryan's not here tonight. It's what's Best For Business. Bryan's in New Orleans already. See, the YES movement isn't real. People want to believe that Daniel Bryan is the next big thing, but he isn't. It doesn't matter how much people love him, it doesn't make it so. It's like people who say HHH has all the power because he's married to Stephanie. And sure, HHH has great taste in wives, but the reason he has the power is his dominance in the ring. It's why he's at the top and he's staying there. It didn't matter who got thrown in his way (crowd: BORING), and it didn't matter who would try to end the Reign of Terror, because HHH just kept winning.
And now, a video about how easy it is to get the crowd on someone's side, using Booker T, Scott Steiner, Rob Van Dam, Jeff Hardy, Goldberg, Mick Foley, Chris Jericho, Kurt Angle... and all of them losing to HHH and fading away. Stephanie's narration talks about how everyone has been dismantled, turning “false idols... into rubble”. Basically, HHH is the buzzkill who cannot and will not be stopped, and WrestleMania, he will end the next sacrifice (as we see the Epic Beating clips).
Stephanie looooooves watching HHH in the ring. HHH makes it clear: all those guys were great, heck, even Hall of Fame caliber, but they were just players and he's the Game. He still is, more than ever. Since the crowd has cried so much about it, he'll beat Daniel Bryan AND win the title just to spite them. He will walk out both COO and WWE Champion.
But wait a minute – here's hometown boy Batista! He's wearing a Georgetown Ewing jersey to get the crowd on his side. Bill Simmons would have something to say about that, I'm sure. Crowd is torn. Batista loves what HHH is doing – the Farewell is cute. But Batista wasn't in that video because, well, HHH hasn't beaten Batista. HHH has heard it before – because Batista has nothing else to say. “Nice shirt: get that in the gift shop when you were picking up new glasses from last week?” Both men are saying the other should be focusing on their next match. Batista figured out last week that HHH is the brains and Stephanie's the brawn. Stephanie's smile is great.
But before we go any further, Randy Orton. Orton cuts Stephanie off from slapping Batista and asks her to wait so he can get a good look. Actually, don't touch Big Dave; Orton wants to beat him down tonight. Batista finds that hilarious. Orton respects the Authority and knows that the triple threat is Best For Business. Orton's not happy about it, but he'll live with it. He also knows HHH will beat Daniel Bryan, and he'd be honored to defend against HHH and Batista. But he has to ask: please reconsider it.
HHH says that no amount of sucking up will get him out of this. Orton's reign is about to end on Sunday. Unless, of course, he can become the Viper again. Because the reality is that if Orton IS the Viper, HHH isn't sure he can win. But Orton needs to find the Viper soon, considering the Batista match later tonight, and as of now, the match is no-DQ. And we end the segment there. Orton and Batista do a staredown.
Later tonight, Piper's Pit. Plus, which Shield member is Kane's opponent? Vote now!
Sidenote: now THIS is the Triple H promo we need. It's not about breaking kayfabe, but about establishing that HHH has been a powerful force within the ring and that he believes it won't change. Now the next thing we need is Orton winning tonight – he's the one with the least amount of momentum, which is bizarre because he's he champ entering WrestleMania. Still, keeping Daniel Bryan off of TV for two straight weeks? That's a gutsy thing to do, even if it does make the beating HHH gave him look strong.
The WWE WrestleMania Pre-Show is two hours on the WWE Network!
The Usos and Los Matadores v. We The People and Rybaxel. On the Pre-Show, these four teams will face off for the WWE Tag Titles. Ryback and one of the Usos start. Ryback backs Uso into the corner and offers a clean break. A second lockup, and Ryback shoves Jey (I assume it's Jey) before catching him with an Oklahoma Slam try. Jey slides out the back twice and gets a series of big chops. Ryback stops it with a shot to the gut, but he runs into an armdrag or two. Jimmy tags in, and it's a double superkick for one. Ryback fights out and brings Axel in, but Jimmy runs him over. Jimmy chops Axel down and launches him into Primo, who does a slingshot elbow. Epico with a senton and he works the arm. Epico gets a dropkick and armdrag (“OLE!”) before working the arm. Jey back in, and he chops away on Axel. He slides out of a whip with another chop, and Primo gets a headlock. Epico with a dropkick for two. Jimmy in now – the Usos are wearing shirts so it's impossible to tell which is which, so I'm guessing – but Axel with an uppercut and Cesaro keeps it up. Jimmy with a running forearm to Cesaro, but he stops armwork with a knee to the gut and uppercut. Swagger in, and he pounds away and gets a Hammer Throw. Jimmy fights out of it and gets Hurricane Maivia on Swagger as the heel corner gets emptied. Epico back in, and he dives onto Cesaro as Jimmy dives onto Ryback. Jey to the top now, and he gets a crossbody on Swagger for two. Swagger dumps Jey and tackles him off the apron. He follows as we go to break.
Eight man tag, part two. Jey gets a roll-up for two on Cesaro, who lands a dropkick for two twice. They go to the chinlock as the crowd is divided between We The People and the Usos. Jey with an uppercut to stop a charge, but he's caught into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Karelin Suplex by Cesaro gets two. Swagger in, and he throws Cesaro into Jey before Cesaro throws Jey back into the tackle for two. Takedown, and Ryback goes to the chinlock. Ryback cuts off a hot tag and gets a slingshot suplex try, but Jey reverses to a bulldog. Axel stops the hot tag and clears the face corner of the Matadors, but it's hot tag Jimmy. Everyone goes flying, and Jimmy gets a flying back elbow, low kick, and Samoan Drop. Rikishi hip check follows, Ryback saves. He taunts Jimmy only to get superkicked. Axel with a cradle and the tights for two. Swagger tags himself in and gets a big boot on Jimmy for two, Epico saves. Cesaro almost swings Epico, but Primo stops it to the crowd's dismay. Primo with a quebrada, leaving Jimmy and Swagger alone. Vaderbomb almost eats boot, but Swagger catches it... only for Jimmy to get the Dragon Kick. Epico up top, but he dives right into the Patriot Lock. Jimmy back in, but Swagger gets the high spinebuster. The matadors pull the switch, so it's Primo who cradles Swagger for the pin at 13:54. Whew. ***1/4 We the People are furious.
Later tonight, it's Orton and Batista, no disqualification.
Fandango and Damien Sandow v. Cody Rhodes and Goldust. More Andre match pimping. Sandow and Cody start, with Cody getting a wristlock. Sandow back Cody in, but Sandow with headbutts. Blind charge eats boot, but Sandow bails before the moonsault can begin. Fandango in, and Cody gets a very high hiptoss. Fandango kicks away and Hammer Throws Cody across the ring. Sandow in, and he headbutts down Cody. He stomps away and kicks Cody out of the ring. Cody gets thrown into the apron, and back in, Sandow gets two. Fandango in, and he gets a suplex for two. Cody gets cornered and punched down, and Sandow kicks Cody in the gut and gets a cravat. Kneedrop gets two. To the chinlock, but Cody elbows out and gets right hands. Sandow stops a tag attempt, but Cody prevents a figure-four try. Hot tag Goldust, and Sandow eats clotheslines and a kneeling uppercut. Spinebuster by Goldust and Fandango gets caught. Twisting bodypress by Goldust takes out both men, and Sandow eats powerslam for two, Fandango saves. Cody in with a springboard dropkick and triangle dive onto Fandango. Goldust stops a rollup by Sandow, and the Final Cut ends it at 4:08. Hey, remember when the Rhodes Brothers had heat? 3/4*
The Shield will be up next.
The announcers talk about the Kane/Shield issue and show us the events of two weeks prior. It was a four-way for the tag belts, but Ambrose jumped in and attacked McIntyre (overlooked), and in the chaos, everyone beat up the Shield, including the New Age Outlaws. So that's why, at WrestleMania, there will be a six-man tag, with Kane and the Outlaws facing the Shield. And along those lines, one of the Shield members will face Kane tonight... but which one? Vote on the App!
We go backstage to the undisclosed location, where Rollins says he almost feels bad for what Kane's going to go through. It doesn't matter who wins the vote; Kane will be in trouble. And if the Outlaws want to join in, they will get beaten down too. Ambrose points out the Shield never disrespected Kane, but they disrespected them. They'll teach Kane and the Outlaws a lesson about attitude. Reigns makes it clear: the Shield is not to be messed with. Believe it.
“We're here.” The Family is on their way to the ring, as Bray has a match next.
Tomorrow night, WWE Main Event will feature Sheamus against the Miz.
Bray Wyatt v. R-Truth. Xavier Woods and the Family are at ringside. Wyatt throws Truth down and runs him over, getting a running kick. Bray with a headbutt and uppercut in the corner, and he rakes the eyes. Truth kicks back, but it doesn't last long as Bray fights him down. Truth backflips out of the corner and gets a high kick for one. Stinger Splash by Truth, but Bray gets his flying forearm. Falling headbutt by Bray, and he pounds away on Truth's head. Bray fells Truth with another headbutt and chokes him against the middle rope. Bray drops his weight on Truth and fish-hooks his mouth. Truth tries to fight out, but Bray dumps him right in front of Rowan and Harper. Nothing happens, and Truth comes back in only to get kicked down. Bray with a Northern Lariat and mounted forearms to the back of Truth's head. Bray picks Truth up and gets a swinging gutbuster. Bray with an uppercut and headbutt as he pounds down Truth, adding an avalanche and inverted look. Sister Abigail's Kiss ends it at 4:36. Very prolonged squash. 1/2* Woods comes in, but he gets run over by Harper. Bray orders the ring cleared and shouts about how this is the end. Follow the buzzards and all that.
But wait, there's a fourth man behind everyone. And he has Rowan's mask on. He looks at all three, as Bray is confused. He's even dressed like the others. It's John Cena, who takes advantage of the confusion to clear the ring. Bray leaves before he can get AA'd. Crowd is 100% behind what Cena did. Bray curls up on the ramp – for the first time, someone took it to him. But the smile indicates he's recovered quickly. A staredown ensues.
Later tonight, Piper's Pit. Plus, Kane will face a Shield member... and odds are you've already voted or you won't. Also, Orton will face Batista in a no-DQ non-title main event.
Sidenote: I couldn't have noticed that Cena got a huge face pop when everyone realized who was behind the mask. It's not a difficult formula: we want our heroes to dig deep down and overcome, not through being Superman, but through being clever. Cena's opponent is mental, not physical, so he has to get mental. That was a great segment.
The rewind is the announcement of the all-in Divas match. This leads to:
Lumberjill Match: AJ Lee v. Naomi. AJ is cradling the title. All the Divas are lumberjills. Naomi works the arm to start, but AJ goes under and yanks Naomi's hair. Naomi recovers with a dropkick and AJ bails... for about two seconds before getting thrown back in. She tries again to escape but can't, and Naomi gets a cradle for one. Naomi slides to the apron and gets knocked down... and the lumberjills just let her recover rather than throw her back in. AJ does it herself, which is a mistake because Natalya manhandles her. Naomi kicks away, but AJ falls out of a slam and gets elbowed. AJ recovers with a spin kick for two. AJ sends Naomi into the corner and kicks away, then it's a tornado into a guillotine. Vickie is leading Naomi chants. I can hear her. AJ stops a comeback with a knee and Rude Awakening for two. “The title is mine forever – FOREVER!” And Naomi knocks AJ over. Running dropkick and kip-up leads to a full nelson bomb for two. Naomi tries the split-leg, but AJ bails and crawls behind Tamina. So the lumberjills just attack Tamina too and all heck breaks loose. They roll AJ back in, and the Rear View ends it at 4:03. Sledgehammer of Plot time here. *
Tomorrow, it's the WrestleMania press conference! Hulk Hogan, Mr. McMahon, the Authority, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Batista, and Randy Orton in attendance.
John Cena has something to say coming up next.
Thanks to Kid Rock for “Celebrate”, the theme song of WrestleMania. Hate to say it, but it is catchy.
Renee Young interviews John Cena. Young says we can expect anything and everything. Cena: “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” Bray continues his propaganda, saying he'll turn Cena into a monster. But be careful what you wish for, because when a man is cornered, he's dangerous. Bray has forced Cena to fight, so you'll see all Hell break loose on Sunday. John Cena will BE the monster. Being a monster for a day to save a lifetime... he may be afraid, but the best part is the moment you can face fear. Every single career begins and ends, but his won't end on Sunday at Bray's hands. Run to New Orleans if you have to, watch it on the WWE Network, anything – see Bray Wyatt, ruler of worlds, getting the change he wants. It'll happen when Cena stuffs his foot in Bray's ass. Hoo boy.
We go up to the pre-show panel to review the show so far, specifically what Cena just did. Riley says Cena's gained the advantage. Booker loves that Cena's fighting fire with fire. Barrett has Bad News, though: it's still 3 on 1, and that's still Cena's downfall. Bad News Barrett gets chants during the look-in.
We look back at the Taker/Brock thing from earlier.
Meanwhile, let's find out who won the vote:
Kane v. Roman Reigns (80%!!). Holy cow. Reigns comes out alone. I know I should make this its own paragraph, but they just advertised UFC FightPass on USA Network with Brock Lesnar. No kidding. Lockup, and Reigns pounds Kane down in the corner, but runs into a big boot. Kane punches away in the corner, staggering Reigns with a back elbow for one. Avalanche by Kane into a sidewalk slam. Kane wants a quick chokeslam, but Reigns yanks the hand off of his throat and fires back. Leaping clothesline follows, then an avalanche of his own into some upperuts and a howling kick. Drive-by dropkick follows. Superpunch is set up, but here come the Outlaws. Ambrose and Rollins cut them off and brawl in the aisle. Meanwhile, Kane is back up, but Reigns gets the Superpunch anyway. Ambrose and Rollins surround Kane and it's a 3-on-1 for the DQ at 3:08. Triplebomb is teased, but the Outlaws have to be dispatched. They try again, but the Outlaws pull Kane to safety. Match was just backdrop, but Reigns' landslide win is the real story. *1/4
Piper's Pit is next. The guest? Who cares?
Hulk Hogan will be on SmackDown.
Piper's Pit is ready to begin. He says that 29 years ago today, he was honored to be in the main event of the very first Mania. (And he didn't get pinned, just so you know.) But there was one guy who played a big role in WrestleMania and making it what it is. That man was Andre the Giant. Crowd is respectfully applauding this segment. This Sunday, Andre's match will take place – a 30-man battle royal. One of those 30 men will have a WrestleMania moment, and will get a chance to link his name to Andre – “one of the biggest names in the history of professional wrestling”. So who's the favorite? Piper tries to tell us, but Miz interrupts. “Really? Miz? What are you doing? I'm talking here.”
The two exchange some reallys. Miz says, hey, you were bringing the favorite out, right? Here he is. See, unlike Piper or Andre, Miz has won a Mania main event. So those 29 other guys don't compare to Miz, just like Piper's Pit is nothing next to MizTV...
...wait, here comes Sheamus. Piper's not happy at being interrupted again. Sheamus says Miz is being stupid. As for TV shows, Miz isn't fit to hold Roddy's kilt. But with regards to the match, Sheamus sees the trophy and a pint in his future, and a Brogue Kick in Miz's.
Next: Titus O'Neil. He whistles the event down and says if anybody deserves to win, it's him. He spells out the winner: T-I-T-U-S. After he wins, it will go down as...
Piper's getting sick of this and tells everyone to back off, but no luck as Dolph Ziggler is out next. Dolph hates to steal the spotlight – not really – but that's what he'll do on Sunday. Not only will he eliminate everyone, he'll etch his name into the history books.
Roddy wants his turn, and he's sick of the interruptions. He goes to Miz first and begins the brawl. Everyone pairs off as Piper bails out, and a bunch of participants jump into the ring. We got Sin Cara, 3MB, Zack Ryder, Kofi Kingston, Darren Young... then Rey Mysterio gets his own entrance, attacking Dolph first, then Sin Cara. He goes to the top and nails Cara with a rana and 619. Sheamus gets the Brogue Kick on Drew. Miz knocks Sheamus out... and here's Big Show. Everyone goes to Big Show, but he sends them all flying. Chokeslam to Darren Young, lariat to Titus, boot to Jinder, big chop to Kofi, mat slam and KO Punch to Slater, double chokeslam to Ryder and Dolph, and it's Show and Rey the only ones standing. Rey begs off, then as Show leaves, Rey 619s his legs. He goes up top, but he's caught and press slammed onto the rest of the people. Piper confirms that Show was his favorite all along. We all knew this was happening and it did as much as it had to.
Up next, the no-DQ main event: Randy Orton faces Batista.
Main event, no DQ, non-title: Randy Orton v. Batista. The announcers note this match is to weaken both men so that HHH can win the title on Sunday. Before the match even begins, HHH and Stephanie appear to watch. HHH and Batista argue a little as the Authority goes to commentary. (Fun bit as Lawler wants Stephanie to be on his side and gets HHH instead.) Orton kicks away and clubs Batista to start, sending him into the post. Orton sends Batista into the apron, then the barricade, but Batista clotheslines Orton. Batista sends Orton into the barricade as Orton falls into some cables. Back in, Orton catches Batista on the way in and stomps away. Batista rolls back outside, so Orton follows. Batista cuts off another attack and punches away, but Orton reverses Batista into the timekeeper area. Orton clotheslines Batista into the timekeeper's area and poses. HHH: “That's what I'm talking about Randy!” Batista re-emerges with a steel chair, which he slams into Orton's back. Batista nails the post on a swing, allowing Orton to throw Batista into the Raw table. Orton yells at the cameraman to move before suplexing Batista onto the barricade. Orton with a chair to Batista, and he poses with the chair to cheers. Back in, Batista cuts Orton off with a kick and clotheslines him back out of the ring. Orton curses in pain and pulls himself up, so Batista sends him into the table headfirst. HHH encourages Batista to show him the Animal, and Batista complies by sending Orton into the apron. Batista with another chair, but Orton finds a kendo stick and whacks Batista over and over. Cole: “Who needs spring training?” Batista reverses Orton into the steel steps. Back in, Orton stops momentum only to run into a spinebuster. Thumbs down, but the Batista Bomb is reversed to Orton's back-to-backbreaker. Stephanie laughs off Bryan, saying he's too small. Batista crawls to the apron, getting caught with the Draping DDT.
And out of nowhere, Daniel Bryan emerges from the crowd and attacks HHH. Orton races after Bryan and gets the worst of it. Stephanie screams for Orton to help, and Orton pulls Bryan off and throws him into the steps. Stephanie checks on HHH as Orton keeps working on Bryan, throwing him into the ring. Hey, no DQ. Orton re-enters and gets speared by Batista instantly. Batista picks Bryan up, but gets roundhoused and the Knee Plus connects. Bryan completes it by diving onto HHH and sending him into the timekeeper's area, with the beatdown continuing. Bryan bowls HHH over the steps and kendos the heck out of him. Dropkick to Orton to send him out of the ring, and HHH rolls up the rampway. Let's stop the match at 8:00 or so. Bryan begins a huge YES chant as Stephanie screams about it ending at WrestleMania. No rating, as the match was just backdrop. HHH has to be restrained by Stephanie. Massive YESing as we go off the air.
Gotta be honest, as much as I like Daniel Bryan and hate HHH, this is not the ending I would've thought of. You've already sold Bryan as being beaten down for one show and 99% of the next. I'd have kept it up. There's two reasons for this: one, Randy Orton needs something resembling momentum and can't buy it; and two, HHH as the Cerebral Assassin standing over two exhausted foes would make him an even larger favorite with Bryan almost hanging on by a thread.
I also would've saved Bryan for the dark match if he's in the building. Tell your story while giving the fans what they want. But then again, I'm not Billionaire Vince.
This was a total hype show, of course, but it worked. Apart from the finish – and even I have to admit it was a white-hot one – everything went the way it was supposed to. The people who needed momentum – Los Matadores, Naomi, Summer Rae, Bray Wyatt, John Cena – got it in spades. I'm satisfied.
Now, as we're one show away from a Pay-Per-View, this is normally where I'd tell you what I'd do. However, this time, I'm going to do a new post later in the week showing what I'd do at WrestleMania. That way, all the “you're an idiot” can be saved to one post.
MATCH TIME: 50:37 or so over eight matches
BEST MATCH: Eight-man tag
WORST MATCH: Summer/Natalya
NIGHT MVP: Daniel Bryan
FINAL RATING: 8. This did what it had to do: set up every single WrestleMania match and make you want to see it. Nothing more need be said.
See you with my WrestleMania Book later in the week. Tommy! Scott! Brian! Everyone! Let's have fun.