The Build: Daniel Bryan won the WWE Championship at Summerslam by defeating John Cena. He was then double-crossed by Triple H and lost the title to Randy Orton, who cased in his Money in the Bank contract. Bryan was unable to reclaim the title from Orton in three chances due to being screwed by Triple H each time.
Batista returned to WWE and won the Royal Rumble in January. We appeared set for a Batista vs. Orton Wrestlemania main event, and a combination of fate and fan backlash changed things. CM Punk walked out of WWE, opening a spot on the Wrestlemania card for Bryan to face Triple H. And when the fans turned on Batista, it was clear Batista vs. Orton wasn’t going to work as a main event. So the stipulation was added to Bryan vs. Triple H that the winner would be added to the main event. Bryan defeated Triple H in a classic match to ear his spot.
Orton is played to the ring by Rev Theory. I’ve always liked live entrances, makes a guy feel big time. Batista’s awesome heel spotlight entrance is next and he gets massive heat. He’s wearing sneakers and leg warmers, which is about as heel as it gets. Bryan is out to a massive reaction. He can only raise one arm due to damage done by Triple H in the opening match.
Bryan starts out hot and takes it to both Batista and Orton. He knows he’s not going to last long. Orton shuts Bryan down by targeting the shoulder and goes to work on it. Bryan gets laid out as all three guys fight on the floor. Crowd has zero interest in this match when it’s Batista and Orton fighting.
Bryan flies back into the ring with a Missile Dropkick that levels both Batista and Orton. Orton blocks a Yes! Kick with a T-Bone Suplex. Bryan makes a comeback leading to a top rope Frankensteiner. Orton dumps Bryan out of the ring and hits a beautiful Superplex on Batista. And now Bryan’s back with a Diving Headbutt and he locks Orton in the Yes! Lock! At this point Triple H and Stephanie show up and knock out the referee.
The cheating is so blatant and I love it. Bryan has been screwed 100x, and they’re going to tease it happening every way that it can. Batista plants Bryan with a Spinebuster and corporate stooge Scott Armstrong shows up to referee. Batista hits the Batista Bomb on Bryan, who manages to kick out despite a fast count. Bryan knocks Armstrong out with a kick. Then he levels Triple H and Stephanie with a Suicide Dive!
Crowd is heating up now. Triple H gets the sledgehammer, but Bryan cuts him off, gets hold of the hammer, and knocks Triple H out with it. Orton and Batista team up to murder Bryan with a combined Batista Bomb/RKO through the announce table. Orton lands on a monitor, which looks incredibly painful.
Bryan is put on a stretcher as Batista and Orton fight. Bryan fights his way off the stretcher. This is so overbooked and it works so well. Orton slams Bryan into the steps and then sets up for the RKO in the ring. Bryan blocks it and locks on the Yes! Lock. Batista saves Orton, but gets trapped in the Yes! Lock! Now Orton saves Batista. Batista blocks the RKO, goes for a Spear, but hits Bryan. RKO on Batista only gets two. Orton goes for the Punt but Bryan reappears with the Flying Knee. Batista covers Orton for two in a great false finish.
Batista Bomb on Orton, but Bryan is back in with the Flying Knee. He locks on the Yes! Lock…and Batista taps! One of the loudest pops I’ve ever heard. The Saints could win the Super Bowl in New Orleans and I’m not sure it would be louder than the reaction for Bryan here.
Analysis: ****. Hell of a match, one of the best Triple Threat matches I’ve ever seen. They just added layers and layers of gimmickery and fun here. All the interference, the table spot, the stretcher. It was just the right amount of madness.
Huge celebration with confetti, fireworks, the whole deal. Bryan’s family comes to the ring to celebrate with him. Incredible moment to close the show. Also bears mentioning that this match had to go on after Undertaker losing to Lesnar, which killed the crowd completely dead. Orton, Batista, and Bryan managed to bring them back to life, which was a feat.
The Aftermath: Sadly this was pretty much it for Daniel Bryan’s wrestling career. He was champion for a month before having to take time off and forfeit the title due to injury. He came back for a few months in 2015 but once again went down with injuries and was forced to retire. This was also pretty much it for Batista’s wrestling career, but everything worked out for him as he’s become a movie star. And Randy Orton will be fighting for the WWE Championship once again at Wrestlemania this year.