I've been a WWE fan for 19 years and I've seen a lot of WrestleManias from seeing 14 to seeing my favorite, Stone Cold Steve Austin, sadly retire at 19 in 2003 to Daniel Bryan becoming Undisputed Champion at 30 in 2014.
In the last few years Mania has been very hit and miss. 31 was a grand triumphant return to form in the sense of competent pacing of the booking and execution of the matches.
32 was awful just flat-out awful. Now, I don't focus blame entirely with the show they put out due to the multiple Superstars they had out injured, but at the same time you could tell it was desperation on their part. And you could tell they were digging into their reserves by asking HHH to becoming a 14x Champion, which I might add was his 1st World Title Reign since dropping the WWE Championship to Randy Orton in 2009.
33 last year....was just there. It was a good Event, but it didn't really make me hold it in the same regard nor sentiment to that of 31 or my personal faves in 17, 15, 20, 21 & 25.
But what could this year's offer me to put a smile on my face?
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
I think the winner of this raises more questions than we’d care to note. How did Matt Hardy acquire the services of Bray Wyatt? Glad Matt won, but still…..
Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali
Mulligan! Still don’t care.
WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal
Well….we were all wrong. It wasn’t going to be an NXT lady, nor was it Bayley or Sasha. Naomi winning is like an RKO. It came out of nowhere. But hey, I love my girl. Highly underrated and she needed something like this since dropping the SmackDown Women’s Title to Natalya at SummerSlam last year.
The Miz © Vs Seth Rollins Vs Finn Bálor
This was a great way to kick the show off having the IC Title featured on the main card since WrestleMania 32. I personally think it’s asinine to have a belt as prestigious the Intercontinental Championship relegated to a pre-show. That’s like benching Michael Jordan in his prime. It’s stupid.
This match did not disappoint, in fact, it exceeded my expectations as this was main event quality. I’m glad for Rollins to add another impressive accolade to his young career not only becoming the Intercontinental Champion, but also becoming the 19th man to become a Grand slam Champion. It was 21 years ago that future Hall of Famer, HBK Shawn Michaels coined the term “Grand Slam Champion” when he won the European Championship from the late British Bulldog. And 21 years later, Rollins who has been compared to a man that is considered the greatest in-ring performer ever, joins the list of Grand slam winners.
I personally wanted Balor to win as he really, really needs the push when you consider how long it’s been since he became the inaugural Universal Champion, only to relinquish it due to injury.
The man, Mike Mizanin, I’m happy that him and Maryse are celebrating the birth of their 1st child and he’ll more than likely have some time off. So congratulations. As for his character? Who cares!? I’ve never cared for it and I hope he stays off TV for a while.
Damn good match to kick the night off.
SmackDown Women’s Championship
Charlotte Flair © Vs Women’s Royal Rumble Winner Asuka
This was a lot shorter than I was expecting. I knew it would be intense, but ended very prematurely with the Empress of tomorrow tapping out to an intense figure 9. It was definitely the better match than what would have been Bliss Vs Asuka.
Does it tarnish Asuka’s legacy that she has a defeat on her record ending her streak? No. If anything this will only make her work harder.
And it’s another streak that ended at WrestleMania in New Orleans and the same stunned looks were scene in the crowd as when Taker lost to Brock.
Also, I find it fitting that Charlotte pulled a move from HHH’s playbook by having such an elaborate entrance. Which is 4 years to the day since she was one of the ladies accompanying the Game. Also very appropriate that she entered to her father’s ring entrance music before entering to her own. That is a classy nod of respect to one of the greatest Champions in the history of the sport.
And to add another act of class, Asuka congratulated her opponent afterwards. Hope to see more of that.
So far the main card has gotten off to a good start. But….could they not have waited til the ladies have left the ringside before Cena belted up the ring like a madman? That seemed distasteful considering this was their moment.
WWE United States Championship
Randy Orton (c) Vs Bobby Roode Vs Jinder Mahal Vs Rusev
I know WrestleMania is known for making headlines and surprising everyone. But this was bizarre in Mahal, a glorified jobber winning an historic title that dates back to the NWA and wins it from a tested thoroughbred like Randy Orton. Which I am beginning to see a pattern emerge. The last time Orton was Champion, he lost the WWE Championship to Mahal. For Randy’s sake I hope get Mahal gets drafted to Raw as he seems to be a jinx to the 13x World Champion. A man that has defeated the likes of Christian, HHH, John Cena, Sheamus, Batista, Bray Wyatt & Daniel Bryan, and he loses to a man that can’t even lace his boots?
Rusev winning would have had the audience in a frenzy as he’s super-over, but once more, the writing staff see fit to put the guy over that no one wanted to see get put over. It’s like asking for a Domino’s pizza and instead you get a tuna fish sandwich that was made 3 days ago. Why would you want that!?
As for the match itself, very entertaining, with the combatants getting their spots in but the ending just left a sour taste in my mouth.
Mixed Tag Team Match
Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey Vs Triple H & Stephanie McMahon
Like the IC Title this went beyond my expectations. I had the impression that it was going to be more about the men with the girls just getting their spots in. But once Ronda was tagged in it just took on a whole different dimension and I got to see this lady compete for the first time and she is amazing. Worth every penny that WWE paid for her. And in all honesty, her athletic prowess puts a lot of the female superstars to shame. Her agile quickness is just a thing of beauty.
And….Steph did not have a prayer once Rousey was tagged in. She took control and owned the match and McMahon.
But that said, Stephanie is not someone I would call a great athlete. It’s like comparing Matt Stryker to Ric Flair. There’s no comparison.
Also….Trips? Do you really love Undertaker that much that you had to rip off his Badass entrance for the 2nd year in a row by coming down on a motorcycle!? I know they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but then there’s just straight-up ripping off. C’mon, man! You’re better than tha….no. no, you’re not!
Very happy with the result as I’m sure Ronda was as well.
SmackDown Tag Team Championships
The Usos (c) Vs The New Day Vs The Bludgeon Brothers
This was another match that could have done with being longer. You have 3 talented teams with a lot to offer and it’s over within a heartbeat? Maybe because of the amount of matches signed they had to get as many completed just to make way for the higher profile matches?
Like Raiden said last week “this is the Brothers of Destruction – reincarnated.” And that is so apropos. Kane & Taker were so dominating and intimidating as a unit and they were feared and revered for their performances. Including when they were Tag Team Champions in 2001 against the likes of Austin & HHH and against Kanyon & DDP when they unified the then WWF & WCW Tag Team Titles.
Once Harper & Rowen got momentum going, write your last paragraph, cancel your plans because they can’t be stopped as Woods found out when he got powerbombed by Harper for the 1-2-3.
John Cena Vs The Undertaker
1: this was way too short.
2: second….this was the most perfect time to have the return of the American Badass with the advent of Kid Rock being inducted to the Hall of Fame and they went with safe and predictable.
Now for context, I got love for the Phenom persona. But as Raiden said last week, the Badass character was a good modern take on the character that and American Badass by Kid Rock is an awesome theme song.
Also, this is the first time in I don’t know how many years, that Cena has jobbed out to someone. Cena has lost to the Undertaker before, particularly at Vengeance 2003, but even that match went on longer than this squash.
Furthermore, placing Taker’s hat and coat in the ring just made his match with Roman last year meaningless. That match was already asinine that someone as poorly placed as bootleg-Cena was supposed to be the one to retire the Undertaker. Had it been CM Punk I would have been ok with it. he would have been heel for life. But someone like him would have found a way to recover. Brock did. I don’t think he needed the streak because he was already a solidified veteran and household name. but he found a way to recover. Same thing if HHH or HBK had ended the streak. They would have found a way to bounce back. Roman Reigns who has the personality and charisma of a wet dish cloth has not got a prayer in being to recover and he’s been vilified ever since.
While Taker’s performance was great and gave a display like we hadn’t seen in years, it was only 2:45. Who did Cena anger backstage to get squashed like that? I didn’t realise that Taker was posing as HHH that night?!
Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon Vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Daniel Bryan could not have been happier to return that night in the Super dome when we all thought his career was done. The place went nuts and rightfully so because Bryan’s performance was just as good as before if not better. There are some that do suffer ring-rust. But not Bryan. In a similar vein to Shawn Michaels returning to the ring for the first time in 4 years at SummerSlam 2002 against HHH, the Showstopper had not missed a step. It’s just like riding a bike – you don’t forget.
Kami sneaking up from behind does not surprise me at all. Once a douche, always a douche. Except for Al Bundy – he’s a classy douche.
A good tag match that ended the only appropriate way for a Daniel Bryan comeback – a tap out.
The celebration with Brie Bella spoke volumes of the emotion that he must have felt that night. He can still go and we’re all glad of it.
Daniel Bryan, welcome back – to the ring. We have missed you. Say it with me 1-time –Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!
Raw Women’s Championship
© Alexa Bliss w/Mickie James Vs Nia Jax
This went pretty much as I predicted. Nia got her frustrations out of Mickie before devouring Ms. Bliss as the animosity has been building. Albeit, this feud didn’t really have much time to build but at the same time this was a good way to finally put Nia into the Title picture.
Say what you will about Nia, but in my estimation, she has been due at least an opportunity to try for the belt and in all fairness Bliss’ Title reign had become stale and it was time for a change. This definitely went on longer than I was expecting but at the same time I’m glad this wasn’t a squash match.
Minor note: I did find it a little unfair that Bliss’ weight wasn’t announced, yet Nia’s was?! Unsubtle strikes again in WWE. Also, I found it amusing that Graves mentioned “shovel” to scoop Mickie James out of here.
Finally let’s be honest – with a focused Nia….Bliss didn’t have a chance. You can be the most technical catchuscatscan wrestler and it don’t mean anything to a powerhouse that is the Irresistible Force – Nia Jax. This is like putting James Ellsworth against the Big Show! The only thing you can have some freedom of predicting is how quickly he’d get put away. That’s it.
And with a 2nd rope Samoan drop, it was good-night-Irene. Nia defeats Little Trish to win her 1st ever Title in WWE. Well done, Nia. You deserved this.
AJ Styles (c) Vs Royal Rumble Winner Shinsuke Nakamura
Small note before we progress: I didn’t realise that Styles was defending the Universal Title in a WWE Title match? Botchamania’s gonna love you.
The dream match….that ended on a sour note. This was a match that can be compared to Flair Vs Michaels, Undertaker Vs HHH, Bret Vs Shawn & Rock Vs Austin. It was that amazing. Like Bret & Shawn – Styles & Nakamura brought out the best in each other. Which in all honesty is actually a good comparison as the match at WrestleMania 12 was a wrestling clinic just like this. It told a story.
The match ended with the most Phenomenal Styles-Clash ever for AJ to retain his WWE Championship.
The heel turn is what soured this match. If it had just ended with two shaking hands that would have been perfect. For me, turning Nakamura heel and low-blowing Styles just feels like it came out of left field. Sure, it will create some interesting angles and matches for the future if their story continues but I would rather it be on the lines of 2 rivals respecting each other rather than becoming hated enemies.
Raw Tag Team Championships
Cesaro and Sheamus (c) Vs Braun Strowman & Nicholas
……….I don’t know what to say. I was expecting at least Braun to get a returning veteran like Bobby Lashley or maybe even Kane to select as his partner. But he chooses an 11-year young son of a referee in Jack Dones’ Nicholas?
Steve “The Vince” Wilton was right – they created a moment that would create headlines. But no one expected it to be a kid. Well, Nicholas has officially become the youngest Champion ever in WWE of 11 years young surpassing Paige’s record when she became Divas Champion at 21.
So that was the second squash of the night and possibly Sheamus’ last WrestleMania appearance?!... I got nothing.
WWE Universal Championship
Brock Lesnar (c) (with Paul Heyman) Vs Roman Reigns
Oh boy….was this ever a disappointment!? This was more of the same from WrestleMania 31 with Brock just doing supplex and repeat. Look, I’ll always be the first to admit that Brock is a phenomenal athlete and is unique as a WWE Wrestler. Has put down legends like Flair, Hogan, Rock, Taker, Angle & Big Show. But all he seems to do now is just do supplexes and not give the opponent a chance to breathe. While that’s a good tactic to help you win and retain your Championships…it becomes stale, boring and complacent. I want to see variety and a balanced match. Not HHH 3.0 trying to bury people.
Also, you can tell that there were shoot moments especially when Roman got busted open with the elbows from Lesnar. If that was meant to look scripted they made a good job of making it look real.
I really hope that this is the last time these 2 meet at WrestleMania because this match sucked!
So what to make of this year’s Granddaddy of them all? I’m gonna give this an 8. There were moments that we didn’t see coming, like Shinsuke turning heel which is shocking and unexpected.
The Raw Tag Title match….well, we wanted something that would get people talking. Careful what you ask for, because you just might get it.
I would have given this year’s a 10. But it was the Universal Title match that let this night down. Why was that the main event when it could have gone to AJ Vs Shinsuke? The WWE Championship told a far greater and surprising story rather than the re-run from Mania 31. The only difference is this time we didn’t have Seth Rollins cashing in money in the bank to become the Undisputed Champion that night. In all honesty, I think we could have done with that this year because this year’s main event was an insult to WrestleMania and to the fans. They could have done something that would have given closure to the wrestlers and the fans because the feud between Reigns & Lesnar has been contrived and pointless. We didn’t want this 3 years ago and we sure as heck didn’t want it now.
The lower card is what made the night memorable this year. Rollins becoming a Grand Slam Champion by winning his 1st IC Title – amazing match. Angle & Rousey Vs HHH & Steph – waay better than what I was expecting and actually showed that Ronda has potential to go further as a WWE Superstar. Charlotte Vs Asuka – shorter than I thought, but it was a good wrestling clinic and was a treat to watch.
Bryan making his return and showing that there was plenty left in the tank – satisfying.
Brock Vs Roman – GET LOST! I never want to see this match again at WrestleMania and it left the night with a sour taste in my mouth. This match was BS and offered nothing new. Styles & Nakamura should have closed the night out because that was worth watching.
I don’t care if the main event for WrestleMania 35 next year is Styles Vs Bryan, Cena Vs Stone Cold, Bliss Vs Stratus, Oni Vs L-Man in a Last Man Standing match, Raiden Vs Miz in a Raiden’s House rules match or the sign-guy Vs Michael Cole! ANYTHING….will be better than Brock Vs Roman again!
10 out of 10 for entertainment without the Universal Title match. 8/10 because of the Universal Title.
WrestleMania 34 is available on...
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