WrestleMania 31 from March 29, 2015, from Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California with a reported 76,976 in attendance
The best thing WrestleMania 31 has going for it and aspect that will make it hold up as one of the best shows in Mania history is the fact that every match from the pre-show to the main event is at least very solid.
While the show will be remembered mostly for Seth Rollins' epic cash in of his Money in the Bank briefcase to "pull off the heist of the century," it was a deep show with a string of a variety of great matches. The show took place at the then brand-new Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, California and, boy, was it a sunny show. I didn't care for that, I remember hating how it looked on TV in the moment and it was the one part of the show that didn't improve with age.
I am a firm believer that once WrestleMania 31 gets a little nostalgia dust rubbed on it, it will be remembered as one of the best WrestleManias of all time. It was that good, and so refreshing following 25, 27 and 29.
Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns main evented the show that had the very interesting card of Sting vs Triple H, John Cena vs the undefeated Rusev for the US Championship, Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins, Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt fresh off his loss to Brock the year before, the Intercontinental Championship ladder match, AJ/Paige vs Bellas, and the pre-show battle royal and a fatal four-way tag title match.
Favorite moments and matches
When Seth Rollins' music hits after Reigns hits two superman punches and two spears, and after Brock kicks out and hits an F-5, I still get wrestling chills. What a brilliant moment and use of the Money in the Bank briefcase to immediately send a character to another level.
You're not thinking about Seth Rollins and the fact that he has a championship match WHENEVER HE CHOOSES, you're focused on how one of these two beasts is going to finish the other off. It was finishers and high-impact spots galore, and then Seth's music hits and he steals the WWE World Heavyweight Championship from Brock Lesnar. It was a surprisingly (very) enjoyable match between Roman and Brock before this, and had the cherry on top of the cash in moment that probably eclipses Edge's from New Year's Revolution (that hurts to say, because that's probably one of my favorite personal wrestling moments of all time it's just that … this was the WrestleMania main event and that feels like auto No. 1).
Earlier in the night, Seth Rollins and Randy Orton had an impressive singles match that was the latter's best in years. It will be remembered for its epic RKO finish countered off of Seth's stomp, but these two showed some serious chemistry and Randy was on a crisp level where he timed everything perfectly. Rollins and Orton mesh well together, and this match was a lot more than a sweet finish. It had a solid story with Rollins taking Randy's spot as the Authority poster boy, then pretending to rejoin the Authority only to turn on Seth down the line. It was simple, organic and had me interested and involved.
The mix of talent between Luke Harper, The Miz, Dean Ambrose, Dolph Ziggler, Wade Barrett, Stardust, R-Truth and Daniel Bryan in the IC ladder match meshed together almost too perfectly. There were high, dangerous spots everywhere with Dean taking a nasty powerbomb from the ring to the outside through a ladder and was capped off with the great moment of Daniel Bryan winning. Luke Harper is painfully underrated.
Seriously, if you haven't seen this ladder match go out of your way to see this ladder match. The differing styles of these guys works so damn well. It's impressive to pull something off that smoothly with that many guys -- and crazy spots -- involved.
RUSEV CAME IN ON A TANK. The big Bulgarian Brute, who was undefeated entering this one defending his US title against John Cena, was prime for a larger push coming out of this one and just felt like a can't miss to me. Yeah, he was tied to a kind of old-school big, nasty foreign guy heel character gimmick, but it worked for his look, size and it allowed him to surprise people with his quick feet, and agile kicks and movement. Once again, the WrestleMania 31 main card had a singles match consisting of people with obvious chemistry together. Everything they did worked, and they pulled out all the stops for this one. Honestly, at this point, you should go out of your way to watch each match on this card.
Ugh, I almost wanted to put Undertaker and Bray Wyatt's match in the least favorite section due to how long it took each man to get into the ring. Good grief. Diddy could have done three concerts. The match between Bray and Taker gets unfairly hated on in my opinion. It's not great by any means but these two big men worked their asses off and hit on all the critical spots. There was drama, yeah you figured Taker would win after losing the year before, but it was still solid.
Flash-forward three years to now, and the Ronda Rousey segment is even more interesting as it has been turned into an actual match with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. The Rock calls Ronda in the ring after Stephanie does her Authority stick with Trips, and Ronda hip tosses HHH and threatens to break Steph's arm. It was one of the best uses of a celebrity, sports figure in WrestleMania history. That crowd loved it.
Oh yeah, there was finally a solid women's match on the card with AJ Lee and Paige taking on the Bella Twins after years of embarrassment and terrible use of the division. Wrestling was more of a focus than a celebrity or a person's looks, it's not that it hadn't been done before because Trish and others had solid matches, it just had been glaringly missing more consistently than not at Mania.
With all this good, I have to nitpick some things in the bad section. I do want to reiterate, there were absolutely no stinkers on this card and it was probably the deepest WrestleMania card of all time.
Least favorite moments and matches
You know, it's not even that Triple H beat Sting in the latter's first-ever WWE match, it's the fact that this match was booked with no logic and finished with a sledgehammer spot and not a pedigree. That feels disrespectful. I've come to learn that if a guy's going to lose, he wants to do it to the other guy's finisher. HHH wins after a sledgehammer shot, and interference from the NWO and D-Generation X.
That's where the logic comes in. Why is the NWO helping Sting, and why in the hell are Hall and Nash coming after fellow Kliq member Triple H. There is zero logic here. The Sting and the NWO were mortal enemies in WCW, and Scott Hall and Kevin Nash are known throughout the wrestling world that they are tight with Trips. What?
While confused by the booking as a fan in the moment. but I am more than perfectly fine with Triple H beating Sting here. Just not in the way it went down. Sting was in his mid- to late-50s at the time and hadn't wrestled in the semi-mainstream spotlight since the late 1990s. He spent a decade in TNA, but was expected to come in after the fact and beat Triple H (who would defend the world title in the WrestleMania 32 main event the next year) at WrestleMania. Nahhhhhh. Some will look at it as "UGH WWE BURYING WCW GUYS." I look at it as, "damn, WWE put Sting in a marquee match at a WrestleMania when he was on the wrong side of 50. What a cool moment."
That's about it in the bad department, outside of some strange logic and questionable choices in how matches were booked to finish, there isn't a lot to complain about.
Does it hold up
Very well clearly. It's such a recent show, and it is without a shadow of a doubt the most consistently good WrestleManias of all time from start to finish. I love this show.