|Date||April 1, 2012|
|City||Miami Gardens, Florida|
|Venue||Sun Life Stadium|
|Tagline(s)||Once in a Lifetime|
WrestleMania XXVIII was the 28th annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by WWE. It took place on April 1, 2012 at Sun Life Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida. It is the highest grossing PPV event in professional wrestling history.
There were eight matches on the event's card and one pre-show match that was streamed on YouTube. The main event, in which The Rock defeated John Cena, was advertised a year in advance. The match was re-broadcast on NBC and later sent to DVD and Blu-Ray, collected under the title of The Rock vs John Cena: Once in a Lifetime. The match was later included in WWE Best PPV Matches of 2012 as the Most Anticipated WrestleMania Match of All Time. Despite the "Once in a Lifetime" tagline, the two would wrestle each other again at WrestleMania 29 for the WWE Championship, with Cena emerging victorious.
WrestleMania is considered WWE's flagship event, having first been held in 1985. It is the longest-running professional wrestling event in history and is held annually between mid-March to mid-April. It was the first of WWE's original four pay-per-views, which includes Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series, dubbed the "Big Four". It has been described as the Super Bowl of sports entertainment. It was the first WrestleMania to occur following the end of the first brand extension in August 2011.
The city of Miami Gardens was one of the two major contenders to host WrestleMania XXVII along with Atlanta; in February 2010, Atlanta was awarded the right to host the event. According to the Miami-Dade Sports Commission, WWE management felt that Miami's planning for the event would have been too hectic with many other sporting events held in the area around the same time of the planning, such as Super Bowl XLIV. However, the Miami area was reportedly considered for the next event due to its international ties, facilities, airports and experience of hosting previous major events.
Bidding documents were sent to seventeen cities in consideration for hosting a WrestleMania event between 2012 and 2014, with fourteen replying in interest. Other cities under consideration for WrestleMania XXVIII included Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York City, Toronto, Detroit, Tampa, Vancouver, St. Louis, Jacksonville, Orlando and Houston. The city of Dallas also showed interest but had to withdraw from bidding for the next two years due to hosting events such as the NCAA Final Four.
Miami was revealed as the site of WrestleMania on February 9, 2011, by The Miami Herald  and at a WWE press conference at the Fontainebleau Miami Beach. WrestleMania XXVIII was the second Wrestlemania event that was hosted in the state of Florida, the fourth open-air event, and the third event to be held entirely outdoors. For hosting the event, WWE received a $250,000 cash incentive from the Miami-Dade Sports Commission raised through grants and sponsorships. Along with WrestleMania XXVIII, a series of events grouped as "WrestleMania Week" was held in the week preceding the event including WrestleMania's annual WrestleMania Axxess fan convention at the Miami Beach Convention Center, the 2012 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony at the American Airlines Arena, the finals of the WrestleMania Reading Challenge, and a Celebrity Pro-Am Golf tournament.
WrestleMania consisted of professional wrestling matches that involved different wrestlers from pre-existing feuds or storylines that played out on WWE's primary television programs. Wrestlers portrayed villains or heroes as they followed a series of events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches.
The main event of WrestleMania XXVIII pitted The Rock wrestling against John Cena. On the February 14, 2011 episode of Raw, The Rock was revealed as the host of WrestleMania XXVII, and upon his return to WWE, began a feud with John Cena (and Cena's opponent at that WrestleMania, then-WWE Champion, The Miz), which continued for weeks in terms of verbal insults, until the March 28 episode of Raw, where Cena delivered the Attitude Adjustment to the Rock after he fended off attacks from the Miz and Alex Riley. At WrestleMania XXVII, the Rock got involved in the main event WWE Championship match between The Miz and John Cena, which initially ended in a double count-out. After the match was restarted under no disqualifications, no count-outs rules, the Rock delivered a Rock Bottom to Cena, thus enabling the Miz to win the match. The next night on Raw, Cena challenged the Rock to a one-on-one match; Rock accepted and proposed that it be held at WrestleMania XXVIII. After winning the championship from The Miz at Extreme Rules, Cena interrupted The Rock's birthday celebrations during the May 2 episode of Raw to announce his intention to defend the WWE Championship against The Rock at WrestleMania XXVIII. Such intentions were however thwarted by Cena losing the title against CM Punk at Money in the Bank in July. At Survivor Series in November, Cena teamed with the Rock (who wrestled his first WWE match in almost eight years, last competing at WrestleMania XX), and billed as "the most charismatic tag team", and defeated the Miz and R-Truth. After the match, The Rock gave a Rock Bottom to Cena.
A second main event, billed as the "end of an era", saw the Undertaker face Triple H in a Hell in a Cell match. The previous year at WrestleMania XXVII, in a No Holds Barred match, The Undertaker defeated Triple H via submission, in their second encounter at a WrestleMania (the first being at WrestleMania X-Seven in 2001, where the Undertaker won as well). However, in the post-match events, due to the harsh physicality suffered during the bout, the Undertaker, for the first time in his career, was carted away from the Georgia Dome by the medical staff on a stretcher. After a near ten-month long hiatus, The Undertaker returned on the January 30, 2012 episode of Raw, confronting and challenging Triple H to a rematch at WrestleMania XXVIII. The Undertaker, having been dissatisfied of his post-WrestleMania match scenario the previous year, stated that he "did not want 'that scene' to be a lasting memory" of him and was willing to give Triple H "another chance at immortality". After Triple H refused to accept the challenge the next week on Raw, his close friend and WWE Hall of Famer, Shawn Michaels appeared on the February 13 episode of Raw to instigate him in accepting The Undertaker's challenge, which was in vain as Triple H stated he was willing to put his ego and personal agendas aside for the future of WWE, and viewed The Undertaker's 19–0 undefeated WrestleMania streak as a "brand" to cash-in for the company, finally ending the argument saying he would not be the one to end it. Then, on the February 20 episode of Raw, The Undertaker still remained adamant in getting a WrestleMania rematch with Triple H, going so far as to label Triple H as a "coward", and comparing his abilities and career to that of Shawn Michaels. Enraged by these comments, Triple H finally accepted The Undertaker's challenge at WrestleMania XXVIII, saying that if "he [Undertaker] wanted an end, they would go all the way", and proposed that they would compete in a Hell in a Cell match. On the March 5 episode of Raw, Michaels confronted Triple H again; Michaels expressed his views on who was better than the other, predicted Triple H's chances of defeating The Undertaker and revealed himself as the special guest referee in their Hell in a Cell match at WrestleMania.
On July 17, 2011, at the Money in the Bank event, Daniel Bryan defeated seven other wrestlers to win the SmackDown Money in the Bank ladder match. On the July 22 episode of SmackDown, Bryan declared his intentions of cashing-in his Money in the Bank contract at WrestleMania XXVIII. However, he apparently cashed-in his contract briefcase on the November 25 episode of SmackDown and pinned the reigning World Heavyweight Champion Mark Henry to supposedly win the title and began to celebrate, but SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long informed Bryan that Henry was not medically cleared to compete, and declared the match void, thereby returning the briefcase to Bryan and the title back to Henry. The next week on Raw, Bryan acknowledged that he went back on his word, saying that headlining WrestleMania was his dream and that his "plans changed"; that the briefcase "doesn't guarantee [him] anything", since he could be put out of action at any time. WWE continued to maintain the advertisement for WrestleMania, until Bryan successfully cashed in his Money in the Bank contract briefcase on Big Show at the TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs event on December 18, 2011, to become the new World Heavyweight Champion.
In January 2012, at the twenty-fifth annual Royal Rumble pay-per-view, Sheamus won the thirty-man Royal Rumble match, giving him the right to challenge either the WWE Champion or the World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania XXVIII. At Elimination Chamber in February, Sheamus attacked Daniel Bryan, after the latter successfully retained his World Heavyweight Championship in an Elimination Chamber match, thus challenging Bryan for his title at WrestleMania.
In another match, CM Punk defended the WWE Championship against Chris Jericho. Since the summer of 2011, Punk had successfully defended the WWE Championship numerous times, calling himself the "best wrestler in the world". On the January 2, 2012 episode of Raw, after extensive hype through several viral vignettes proclaiming the "end of the world as we know it" on that day, Chris Jericho returned to WWE after over a year, and established a villainous persona over the next several weeks. On the February 13 episode of Raw, Jericho accused Punk in an in-ring segment of being a copycat of him, and that he (Punk) stole his proclamation of being the "best in the world". While competing in the Raw Elimination Chamber match at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view, Jericho was knocked out by a kick to the head by Punk, rendering him unable to compete any further, and Punk went on to win that match. This incident further fueled Jericho's animosity towards Punk. On the February 20 episode of Raw, Jericho last eliminated Big Show to win a ten-man battle royal to determine the number-one contender to face Punk for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXVIII. In subsequent promos, both wrestlers expressed their desire to prove who is "the best in the world."
Another title match scheduled was between Cody Rhodes and Big Show for the former's Intercontinental Championship. Their feud gained increased momentum week after week when, over January and February 2012, Rhodes began mocking Big Show's less than stellar performances at WrestleMania over the years, calling him "a reverse Undertaker" (a direct reference to The Undertaker's undefeated 19–0 record at WrestleMania, compared to Big Show's 3–8 record), in addition to citing the "ridiculous nature" of some of his matches, such as his Sumo match against Akebono at WrestleMania 21 and a No Disqualification match against Floyd Mayweather at WrestleMania XXIV, both of which Big Show lost. Rhodes also cost Big Show a chance at the World Heavyweight Championship, by eliminating him from the SmackDown Elimination Chamber match at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in February, and a shot at the WWE Championship at WrestleMania, when he pulled Big Show over the top rope, aiding in his elimination by Chris Jericho in the end of a number-one contender's battle royal on the February 20 episode of Raw. On the March 2 episode of SmackDown, General Manager Theodore Long scheduled a match between Rhodes and Big Show for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania XXVIII, where the latter has vowed "to win at all costs."
At the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in February 2012, John Laurinaitis, WWE's Executive Vice President of Talent Relations and Interim Raw General Manager, expressed his desire to become the permanent general manager of both Raw and SmackDown. Alberto Del Rio, Mark Henry, and Christian all came out and voiced their support for Laurinaitis over SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long, who later that night put forth his own claim to run both brands. On the February 21 episode of SmackDown, the two General Managers got into an argument following a match between Raw's WWE Champion CM Punk and SmackDown's World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan that ended in a draw, with each man supporting the opposing brand's world champion. The two were then given the chance by the WWE Board of Directors to run the other show for one night in order for the Board to evaluate them, with Long running the March 5 episode of Raw and Laurinaitis in charge of the March 9 episode of SmackDown. But being still not convinced of either man's decision-making, on March 12, the Board of Directors scheduled a 12-man tag team match for WrestleMania XXVIII, with the stipulation that the General Manager of the winning team being awarded stewardship of both Raw and SmackDown. The same night on Raw, Long appointed his assistant, Santino Marella to be the captain of his team, while Laurinaitis appointed his legal counsel, David Otunga to be his team's captain, naming Mark Henry as the first member of his team. Over the following weeks, R-Truth, Kofi Kingston, Zack Ryder, The Great Khali and Booker T were added to Team Teddy, with Hornswoggle serving as the team's mascot, while Christian, Dolph Ziggler and Jack Swagger and The Miz joined Team Johnny. Christian, who had joined the team in return for Laurinaitis promising him a shot at the World Heavyweight Championship after WrestleMania, was forced to leave the team due to being (kayfabe) injured by CM Punk on the March 26 episode of Raw (the real reason being Christian not having fully recovered from his real-life ankle injury) and was replaced by Drew McIntyre.
Another match scheduled for WrestleMania was between Divas Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres taking on the team of Kelly Kelly and Extra co-host Maria Menounos. The feud between Phoenix and Menounos began on the October 12, 2009, episode of Raw when Menounos accompanied then-Access Hollywood host Nancy O'Dell, who was the guest host of Raw that night. Phoenix, angered over having been traded to the SmackDown brand by O'Dell, barged into their office and got into a confrontation with both women, leading to a Six-Diva tag team match later that night in which Menounos' team defeated Phoenix's team. On the 2011 edition of Tribute to the Troops, Menounos made an appearance, this time in an Eight-Diva tag team match, winning the match for her team by pinning Phoenix. Kelly and Eve, on the other hand, had a falling apart of their friendship after Eve turned villainous and admitted to having used Zack Ryder and John Cena to further her own career. On the March 15 episode of Extra, Phoenix and Eve interrupted an interview between Kelly and Menounos, which resulted in a confrontation. Phoenix would then challenge Menounos to a match at WrestleMania, which the latter accepted. Later that night, WWE officials sanctioned a tag team match pitting Phoenix and Eve against Menounos and Kelly for WrestleMania XXVIII.
Another rivalry heading into WrestleMania was between Randy Orton and Kane. On the March 2 episode of SmackDown, Kane interrupted Orton's match against Daniel Bryan, causing Orton to lose via count-out. The two men ensued in a brawl, which ended with Orton ultimately being chokeslammed by Kane, who "welcomed [Orton] back" from being injured at the hands of Bryan a few weeks ago. Orton retaliated on the March 5 episode of Raw, by delivering an RKO to Kane, who had just defeated R-Truth. On the March 9 episode of SmackDown, Orton and Kane once again brawled at the end of the show with no man appearing to gain an advantage. The next week on SmackDown, when Orton demanded Kane to explain the root cause of his attacks on him, the latter referred to his handshake with Orton after a Street Fight on the July 22, 2011 episode of SmackDown, in which Orton had defeated him. Kane, explaining that the handshake made him look weak and "human", that this "wretched" self was now gone, and now wanted to eliminate that memory, challenging Orton at WrestleMania XXVIII.
On March 30, a Triple Threat tag team match for the Tag Team Championship was scheduled between the defending champions Primo & Epico, The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso), and the newly formed team of Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd. This match would be streamed online free before the pay-per-view on both WWE.com and the official WWE YouTube channel.
|English commentators||Michael Cole|
|Jim Ross (The Undertaker vs. Triple H)|
|Spanish commentators||Carlos Cabrera|
|Ring announcers||Justin Roberts|
|Howard Finkel (WWE Hall of Fame)|
|Tony Chimel (Wrestlemania Pre-show)|
|Shawn Michaels (The Undertaker vs. Triple H)|
A non-televised Triple Threat tag team match for the Tag Team Championship pitted champions Primo & Epico, The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso), and Justin Gabriel and Tyson Kidd against each other. The match began with multiple aerial tactics and many pin attempts. In the midst of the match, Justin Gabriel botched a dive outside resulting in an elbow injury. The match ended when Epico hit Jey Uso with a Backstabber and pinned him to retain the titles.
In the first televised match, World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan defended his title against 2012 Royal Rumble winner Sheamus. After receiving a good luck kiss from his storyline girlfriend AJ Lee, Bryan was surprised by Sheamus, who delivered a Brogue Kick and pinned him to win the title. Lasting only 18 seconds, this was one of the shortest title matches in WWE history.
In the second match, Randy Orton faced Kane. After trading moves back and forth, Orton gained the upper hand until Kane made a comeback. Kane continued to dominate the match until Orton kicked out of a chokeslam. Orton gained back momentum but after attempting an RKO from the second rope, Kane delivered a Chokeslam off the second rope and pinned him.
Next, the Intercontinental Championship was on the line between champion Cody Rhodes and Big Show. Rhodes attempted to avoid his opponent until Show caught him and tossed him back inside. Show dominated from there with vicious attacks. Rhodes managed to deliver a disaster kick. As he went for another one, he took a spear mid-air to the groin from Show. Show knocked out Rhodes with a Knockout Punch and pinned him to win his first Intercontinental Championship.
A tag team match pitted Kelly Kelly and Extra correspondent Maria Menounos against Divas Champion Beth Phoenix and Eve. Kelly began to get the upper hand over Eve. Kelly tagged in Menounos who got off to a good start but was slowed down by interference from Phoenix. Phoenix and Eve would continue to wear down Menounos who had already suffered two cracked ribs prior to the event. Menounos eventually tagged in Kelly who began to dominate. Phoenix managed to wear down Kelly but Kelly countered a Glam Slam with a bulldog and tagged in Menounos. The climax of the match came when Kelly saved Menounos, knocked Phoenix into Eve on the apron, and Menounos rolled up Phoenix for the win.
Main event matches
Jim Ross joined the commentators (Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler) to call the first main event match. The first main event match was a Hell in a Cell match between Triple H and The Undertaker with Shawn Michaels as special guest referee billed as "the end of an era". The match started with the two going back and forth. The match moved to the outside where The Undertaker dominated. Back in the ring, Triple H assaulted Undertaker with the steel steps and even countered a Hell's Gate. The match intensified when Triple H brought steel chairs and a sledgehammer into the ring. After multiple big moves and weapon shots on each other, the two men repeatedly kicked out. After suffering multiple Pedigrees, a Sweet Chin Music, and multiple chair and sledgehammer shots, Undertaker came back and executed a Tombstone Piledriver; however, Triple H kicked out. Triple H delivered one more Pedigree before the Undertaker kicked out, took back control, performed another Tombstone, and won the match to extend his undefeated streak to 20–0. After the match, Undertaker and Michaels helped Triple H out of the ring and made it to the entrance stage, where they embraced.
The following match was a twelve-man tag team match to determine who would run both Raw and SmackDown, pitting teams representing Teddy Long and John Laurinaitis against each other. The match began with a back-and-forth between both teams. After Booker T (of Team Teddy) entered he was worn down by most of Team Johnny until the rest of both teams engaged in an all-out brawl both inside and outside of the ring. Then, Zack Ryder (of Team Teddy) started to dominate Team Johnny's Dolph Ziggler and The Miz, but as he was distracted by his storyline girlfriend Eve, The Miz delivered a Skull Crushing Finale to Ryder and scored a pinfall victory for Team Johnny, giving John Laurinaitis control of both shows.
The penultimate match saw WWE Champion CM Punk face to face against Chris Jericho; However, John Laurinaitis told Punk before the match that if he got disqualified, he would lose the title. Jericho immediately started attacking Punk. Jericho taunted and slapped Punk, trying to provoke him into getting Punk disqualified. Jericho grabbed a chair and attempted to hit him but Punk quickly cleared the chair and continued on with the match. Punk then successfully connected the GTS, only for a near fall. Punk then applied the Anaconda Vise, forcing Jericho to crawl through and was able to tip the rope. Punk missed the Turnbuckle Shining Wizard, which Jericho countered with a roll-up for a near fall. Jericho caught by Punk with a dropkick, then Punk prepared for a GTS, which Jericho noticed and he fled to the outside of the ring. The match began as Jericho was able to apply several Clothesline, followed by a seated dropkick. Jericho went for his signature submission, Walls of Jericho, but Punk countered. Punk missed the running knee as Jericho hit him with an unexpected 'Codebreaker' for a near fall. Later during the match, Jericho countered Punks springboard maneuver into a Codebreaker for another near fall. At the match's climax, Punk reversed Jericho's 'Walls of Jericho' into the Anaconda Vise, forcing Jericho to submit.
The final match pitted John Cena and The Rock in a match billed "once in a lifetime". Cena and Rock viciously went back-and-forth with each other throughout the match. The Rock kicked out of two Attitude Adjustments, Cena out of a Rock Bottom and People's Elbow. When Cena attempted a People's Elbow on the Rock, he ran into another Rock Bottom, which allowed the Rock to pick up the win.
WrestleMania XXVIII received generally positive critical reception, with appraisal going to the main event, the WWE Championship match, and the match between The Undertaker and Triple H, though the World Heavyweight Championship match was panned.
Eric Larnick of The Huffington Post praised the main event match giving it a verdict of good; he applauded Dwayne Johnson, opining that he worked "his butt off to prove that he can still go in the squared circle". The post also praised the WWE Championship and Hell in a Cell matches, ranking them alongside the main event. IGN called Daniel Bryan vs Sheamus the "worst match of the night" and the Undertaker vs Triple H the "match of the night". They too applauded the main event match, calling the unexpected outcome a good way for the crowd to go home happy. Wrestling-Edge rated all the matches on a scale of 5 and gave a full 5 star ratings to the Undertaker vs Triple H Hell in a Cell match.
The Baltimore Sun's Adam Testa led with a headline that Wrestlemania XXVIII was unable to live up to the hype, while the main event did. He labeled the match as being the match that could break or make the WrestleMania and ended in "an amazing sequence." The Rock's victory was again stated as shocking and welcome, leaving people curious about the aftermath of the event. Yahoo's A. Orien Avery found The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan from WrestleMania X8 as the only comparable match from previous WrestleManias, though the Rock being in his prime would make the match more symbolic.
WrestleMania XXVIII garnered 1,217,000 buys, making it the most purchased wrestling event in history, surpassing WrestleMania 23's buyrate of approximately 1.2 million, with global gross sales in excess of $67 million. The event also set a new record for the highest grossing live event in WWE history, grossing $8.9 million.
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