At WrestleMania 27, The Rock came back be the “host” of the show. This was actually plan B. The original plan for WrestleMania 27 was to have the Undertaker face the then UFC heavyweight champion Brock Lesnar as the main event of the show. Because Brock Lesnar was supposed to lose this match, Vince McMahon also wanted to book himself in a wrestling match against Dana White. When White balked because he couldn’t associate himself with pro wrestling or else people would start thinking the UFC wasn’t real, McMahon mentioned that they could do it for real. Thankfully, White also turned that down.
When Vince couldn’t get what he wanted, he decided to dial up an old friend, none other than Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock. The Rock’s last match was in 2004 at WrestleMania XX. It was eight years since he was last in the ring. What WrestleMania 27 turned out to be was a precursor to WrestleMania 28, which featured The Rock vs. John Cena billed as “Once In A Lifetime”.
The Rock and Cena’s battle for supremecy actually started before WrestleMania 27. Cena has done a great job over the years baiting the Rock into coming back, calling him Hollywood and saying his heart was never with WWE, or else why would he leave? When Rock did come back to host WrestleMania 27, he caused Cena to lose to The Miz which set the wheels in motion for their match at WrestleMania 28.
First, they teamed up to face The Miz and Ron Killings at Survivor Series, but that was just more build to their match as Rock laid him out after they were victorious.
At WrestleMania 28, they faced off in the main event of a huge spectacle. MGK and Flo-Rida performed before each man entered the ring and Miami, Florida, where the event was being held, was off the hook.
The secondary main event was a third WrestleMania match between Triple H and the Undertaker. This match was different in two ways. Firstly, it was held inside Hell In A Cell. Secondly, Triple H’s best friend and the person who the Undertaker beat at WrestleMania 25 and 26 in amazing matches, Shawn Michaels was the guest referee. Michaels also faced the Undertaker in the very first Hell In A Cell match in 1997, on the same day that Brian Pillman passed away.
While it would be hard to top the previous two Triple H vs. Undertaker matches, they did, due in part to the huge cage that encompassed the ring and a spectacular performance by Shawn Michaels. Michaels was amazing in selling the drama between the two men. Michaels was upset that he could never beat the Dead Man, but he wasn’t quite sure if he wanted his best friend to beat him either. He had mixed emotions. Their match was built around Triple H’s usage of his sledge hammer and the Undertaker’s usage of his patented tombstone piledriver. After Triple H destroyed him time and time again with the sledge hammer, the Undertaker finally proved to be too good and brought his record to 20-0 lifetime at WrestleMania. The streak was intact and the three men went up the ramp together, selling the pain and agony of the match as the old breed of wrestlers who might not wrestle much anymore, but could still do it better than just about anyone.
In a disappointment, the opener was Daniel Bryan defending his World Title against Sheamus. Bryan, like CM Punk, stood for the hardcore wrestling fans who rooted for the guys who WWE never figured to be interested in. Bryan is maybe 5’8, though he’s heavily muscled and athletic, but not necessarily WWE size, while Sheamus is exactly WWE size. Most figured Sheamus would win, but not in the fashion that he did. Bryan entered the ring and kissed his then-girlfriend AJ and right as he turned around, Sheamus kicked his head off and pinned him. The match was over in just 18 seconds. It was the WWE laughing at the wrestling fans again.
CM Punk defended his WWE Championship against a returning Chris Jericho. The storyline was that Jericho knew some things about Punk, such as that his father was an alcoholic and he also pestered him about his straight edge lifestyle. In one of the more memorable sequences, Jericho poured alcohol over Punk after hitting him with a liquor bottle. The match itself was good, but not as good as the Hell In A Cell. It started a bit slowly, but the finishing sequence was fantastic. The stipulation was that if Punk was disqualified, he would lose his title. Jericho, ever the heel, was antagonizing Punk, trying to get him to disqualify himself. At the end of the match, they were trading submission holds, Jericho’s Walls and Punk’s Anaconda Vice. The Vice won and Punk retained.
Outside of the main event, the rest of the show was pretty disappointing. Kane surprisingly defeated Randy Orton in the second match of the show. Their feud was bland and really unnecessary and match was as well. The Big Show defeated Cody Rhodes for the Intercontinental Championship to earn his “WrestleMania moment” even though it didn’t mean much. The better match would’ve been the rumored Cody Rhodes vs. Golddust, brother versus brother match.
Kelly Kelly and Maria Menunos defeated Beth Phoenix and Eve. In a funny spot, Menunos rubbed the back of her tights against Eve’s face and Eve’s bronzer got all over her tights. It looked like Menunos messed herself. Menunos actually sold very well throughout the match and eventually rolled up Phoenix for the pin. Eve would have a part in the next match which was Team Johnny vs. Team Teddy in a 12-man match. Eve was Zack Ryder’s storyline girlfriend and Ryder was a participant on Team Teddy. As he was about to win the match, Eve distracted him and The Miz, of Team Johnny, hit him with the Skull Crushing Finale to win the match for Team Johnny. This meant that John Laurinaitis would have full control as the general manager of both Raw and Smackdown. To show you how much any of this stuff even mattered, Laurinaitis would be off TV completely after the summer.
The main event didn’t live up to the hype. It will not be as memorable as worse matches like Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant or Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior. But they tried hard as heck to make it as important. The Rock wasn’t in great wrestling shape and looked winded throughout. And since John Cena isn’t quite the ring general that others are, he wasn’t necessarily going to raise the quality of the match himself. Their styles are very similar and when babyfaces wrestle each other, it’s hard for the drama to be as high as if one of them played the bad guy. There’s no easy heat when good guys face good guys (though, Hogan and Warrior did it better).
The end of the match featured John Cena getting greedy and trying the Rock’s People’s Elbow. The Rock kipped up as Cena hit the ropes, hit the Rock Bottom, and the match was over. Rock won in front of his Miami fans in a finish that was a bit anticlimactic.
Hardcore fans may be interested in the previous night’s Hall of Fame ceremony that’s on the Blu Ray release. Ron Simmons, Mil Mascaras, The Four Horsemen (including Ric Flair who was working for TNA at the time), Mike Tyson, the late Yokozuna, and Edge were all inducted in a fun ceremony.