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WrestleMania XXX: The Undertaker’s streak ends…

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MUMBAI: The most anticipated event of World Wrestling Entertainment - WrestleMania - always springs a few surprises and leaves the audience spellbound with the shear grandeur and glitz around the ‘Super Bowl of Wrestling’.   

But very few would have expected such a shocker, in what could be termed as the end of an era. Seeing The Undertaker actually lose at WrestleMania is going to be a talking point for months, but Bryan's win begins the “YES’ title reign.

WrestleMania XXX host Hulk Hogan kicked off the festivities as he transported thousands of fans to their childhood, only to hear The Rattle Snake’s - Stone Cold Steve Austin - theme music play and it sent the fans into a frenzy; he was soon followed by Miami’s own Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. They blew people’s minds by standing in the same ring together. It was the biggest star of the 1980s with the most popular performers of the 1990s Attitue Era and into the new millennium. The cross-generational moment set the tone for the evening’s proceedings with the coolest beer bash in history.

The stage was set to witness Daniel Bryan fight for a title opportunity against the King of Kings - Triple H - who appeared in “Game of Thrones” style on a throne. The Game always has some of the most epic entrances at WrestleMania over the years and this year was no different.

This match could well be termed as the biggest opening match in WrestleMania history. It had to be scheduled to also give either one of the winners get some time to recuperate for the Triple Threat WWE World Heavyweight match. If my memory serves right it was way back in 1994 in WrestleMania X, which saw Owen Hart take on Bret Hart for best opener in the grand event’s storied history.

Bryan triumphed against all odds and qualified for the main event title match. WWE must be commended for such a great script for the ‘Biggest Underdog Story’. The match had ring psychology, brawling and to add to the mix Stephanie McMahon standing ringside to support her COO husband. Post the defeat the frustrated authorities berated him verbally and physically even as Triple H destroyed Bryan’s already injured arm/shoulder.

Next-up, The Shield squared-off against Kane and The New Age Outlaws. This match was made for The Shield to settle the score with Kane, who had trouble taming ‘The Hounds of Justice’, and thus used his authoritative powers to punish them. The Shield made easy work of this match as Ambrose and Rollins hit dual suicide dives on The Outaws and then Reigns hits a Spear on Kane and a double Spear on the Outlaws followed by both Outlaws given the Triple Powerbomb at the same time, to win.

Next on the slate was the inaugural Andre the Giant 30-Man Memorial Battle Royal, which saw Big Show make the first entrance in a one strap singlet as an homage to Andre. Other big men Brodus Clay and Khali were eliminated early on. And Big Show eliminated Mark Henry from the match. After random eliminations every 15-20 seconds to get things down to about half of what we started with. Fandango gets the crowd Fandangoing on the apron until Sheamus hits him with so many shots to the chest that he can just lightly push him off the apron to the floor.

Carrying on, Cesaro hits Rey with a big uppercut as he is coming back into the ring to eliminate him from the match. Ziggler takes a huge uppercut, followed by Kofi barely saving himself from elimination by keeping his toes on the steps as he lands on the floor. Cesaro then swings Kofi around dozens of times before walking right into a Chokeslam from Big Show. Sheamus eliminates Kofi with a kick and Ziggler gets tossed out by Del Rio.

The field is down to Cesaro, Del Rio, Sheamus and Big Show. Sheamus and Del Rio eliminate each other to leave it to Cesaro and Show. Cesaro starts nailing uppercuts and clotheslines and even comes off the top rope to only jump into a big slap to the chest. What followed left everyone speechless; Cesaro just picks Big Show up and drops him over the top rope like he it was nothing and is handed the ‘HUGE’ trophy of the inaugural Andre the Giant 30-Man Memorial Battle Royal.

The festivities took a spooky turn as John Cena readies for his encounter with Bray Wyatt. Not much was expected of this face-off, and Cena picked up the pin fall victory over Wyatt.

The match to follow was something that every WWE fan eagerly awaits, as for the past 21 years The Undertaker has remained unbeaten at the grandest stage of them all. The Phenom walked into the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana, ready to win again. He was flanked by 21 caskets, all labeled with the names of the fighters he had ‘put to rest’ in the past 21 years of WrestleMania. There was even a 22nd labeled Brock Lesnar - who he was about to fight.

As the match progressed The Undertaker attempted to slam Brock with a second tombstone (and his throat-slashing gesture), but the beast countered and took The Undertaker up onto his shoulders. The Dead Man then was slammed, flat on his face with a thunderous F-5. Needless to say, in a final 1-2-3 count, the streak was over - and the crowd was shocked. The Superdome went silent in complete disbelief that they had just witnessed the end of an era.

Introducing a loss that no one saw coming helps keep fans on the edge of their seat and interest high. There is no doubt this match will accomplish those feats. Still, this streak was an event in itself. It generated interest in every WrestleMania, and The Undertaker's matches have been a perennial highlight. If the WWE was going to take this marketing tool away from itself, it should have done so in a way it could regularly build upon for the next year, and not with a part-timer in Brock Lesnar.

To cool things down the Divas were called upon for AJ Lee’s title defense match. All 14 women are in the ring at once and it's once fall to a finish. All the Divas try to pile on AJ and then they break up into separate fights. Several covers happen at once and everyone kicks out at once. Every Diva hits a move on each other one after the other. But AJ ends up retaining the title after making Naomi tap out to the Black Widow.

Now all that is left is the final match of the night. After having qualified for this match after defeating the ‘King of Kings’, a battered and bruised Daniel Bryan was geared up to take on Batista and the champion Randy Orton in a Triple Threat title match.

The match shapes up as it was supposed to, with all three fighting it out to come out a winner. In the end stages Bryan hits the running knee to Orton and Batista throws Bryan out of the ring to steal the pin, but Orton kicks out. Then, Batista hits Orton with the Batista bomb only to be hit with the running knee by Bryan. He locks in the Yes Lock and Batista taps.

The crowd erupts as Bryan's epic journey to the title finally comes to a close. What a great moment for a truly deserving wrestler.

He has had one of the most epic journeys in the business. He clawed his way from the bottom through lesser known wrestling outfits and became a fan favourite. His story of becoming the biggest thing in the WWE with his ‘YES’ movement has certainly paid off, with this title win at WrestleMania XXX.

Confetti rain from the rafters as Bryan celebrates an amazing win. We all knew it was coming, but seeing it come true is something totally different.

What a night of ups and downs. This Mania will have people talking for a long time.

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