Another Wrestlemania in the books, some great history was made last night, and some not so great stuff, as always. It was too big to liveblog, plus I had a mini Wrestlemania party over, so I wanted to watch the show last night just to enjoy the experience, and let my thoughts stew on the good and the bad of the whole show til my writing of this column right now. Not sure where to begin, so let’s just do an old favorite here at the site, 4 things to takeaway from Wrestlemania 33.
5. The (Hardy) Boyz Are Back In Town
Chalk this one up to a total markout surprise for me, though in retrospect it all seems fairly obvious. As of recently on Raw the tag team match for the Raw tag titles was set to be a three way encounter with the teams of Enzo and Cass, Sheamus and Cesaro, and the champs Gallows and Anderson. Nothing really special about this match whatsoever, we’ve seen these guys go at it time and again on Raw, and there wasn’t really any compelling storyline reason to make this match special. Until last Monday when they added the Ladder Match stipulation to the deal. Now this match became really interesting.
I’d also heard rumors of Matt and Jeff Hardy returning to the WWE after rebranding themselves in TNA and on the indies as Broken Matt and Brother Nero, some of their best stuff in years if not ever, they were one of the few interesting people to watch in TNA, and then they left, and things got further interesting still when they became the Ring of Honor Tag Champs, and then lost them the night before against The Young Bucks. So, they could theoretically make an appearance at Mania.
My guess was going to be they’d just show up, maybe challenge the New Day, who didn’t have any match at the Show of Shows instead merely were hosting the gig, and we’d get something hypothetical like that. But no, what we got was the Hardys as a surprise fourth team to the ladder match, coming out to their old music and everything.
That part to me was a bit of a disappointment, as much as I love the Hardys, I wanted the Broken ones in WWE, not Team Extreme, but I know that there’s a legal thing going on with Anthem (the current owners of TNA) and the Hardys in pertaining to the Broken characters, so that could be why they came out old school style, though Matt still has the streak in his hair.
In the match though it was vintage Hardys, Jeff hitting a sweet Swanton Bomb off the top of the ladder onto a prone Cesaro onto another ladder included, and the Hardys are the new Raw Tag Team Champs! I’m really looking forward to tonight to see what the future has in store for these prodigal sons of Meekmahan.
4. Seth Rollins vs Triple H
This match was one of the ones that I was looking forward to the most, for at least two years this match has been being built up to, and I was glad to see these two finally go on on one with each other. I wrote about the buildup to this match here on the site back at the end of January, which you can read here:
That’s the setup to the feud, but it got further complicated with Rollins re-injury at the hands of Samoa Joe (who surprisingly didn’t come out and interfere in this unsanctioned match) , we thought at one point that we might have to wait another year to see this story in the books, but it happened, and it was one of the highlights of the whole show.
Triple H’s entrance on the custom bike with police escort felt kind of lacking to me, especially compared to some of his more grand Wrestlemania entrances in the past, but Rollins came out like a champ, dressed in gold, carrying a torch, which he dropped to the ground and special effectedly set Triple H’s kingdom ablaze, it was a great entrance for the Kingslayer, Seth Rollins.
The two of them put on a great match, Rollins really sold Triple H’s attacks to his legs well, to the point where I wasn’t sure how much was story and how much was legit pain. All of this culminating in Triple H accidentally knocking his wife Stephanie, who was ringside on the ropes cheering on her husband, off the ropes into a table that was set up earlier on in the match, distracting Trips long enough for Seth to hit him with one last pedigree to finish off the King of Kings. It may have been the best told story on the card to really be honest here. I look forward to seeing what’s next for this new incarnation of Seth Rollins. Does he turn his attention to Samoa Joe now, who was the instrument of his near destruction? Or does a returning Finn Balor seek revenge from his own injury last year at Rollins hands?
3. Bray Wyatt vs Randy Orton
This match had one of the best story buildups on the card, it should have, just like Rollins vs Triple H, been one of the best matches on the card, but instead we got one of the weirdest matches ever. Short version is, throughout the match, at 3 points of Bray’s taking control of the match, they cut to an aerial view of the ring, as the ring had projections of various disturbing insects on them, maggots, worms, and then wasps. I’m guessing this was to show Bray’s god-like powers, and it was to get into Randy’s head, but it just came across as weird for being weird’s sake, and that’s basically it. It felt out of place, and really detracted from the match. In the end the age of Wyatt was over, and Randy picked up the title. From such a great buildup, that whole climax felt like it fizzled out more than anything else. Not sure where they go from there with this angle. Guess we’ll just have to wonder what they were smoking when they came up with that mess of a match.
2. Undertaker’s Last Ride
Last night, in front of the world, The Undertaker had his last hurrah in the WWE. After a career spanning three decades, and twice that many eras in professional wrestling history, The Undertaker had his last match against Roman Reigns, and it was a mess of a match. This match didn’t really have a whole lot of story built into it, all basically stemming from Roman eliminating Undertaker in the Royal Rumble this year, and then a few altercations between the two of them, leading into this match, which the promotional team edited together to make it look like an epic battle between the two would be happening.
We didn’t get that match unfortunately. What we got was a match with the young, strong Reigns all but demolishing an older, aged, Undertaker. This was essentially the death of the legend of the Undertaker before our very eyes last night, and it was sad to watch. In the end, Roman wins, and Undertaker lied motionless in the ring for some time, catching his breath from this battle. He put his iconic coat and hat back on and stood there in the ring, before removing the gloves slowly, one by one, then the hat, and then the coat, leaving them in the center of the ring, signaling this was the end of The Undertaker.
I couldn’t believe my eyes as I saw this era ending, the last man to leave of his timeframe essentially. I wish he could have gone out stronger, but time catches up to all of us, even a Deadman. I also wish Kane, his kayfabe brother would have showed up at the end to say goodbye, which would have been nice to see, but that was that.
1. The Rest Of The Card
This was a stacked card last night, so much show that we didn’t really even have time for any other segments, backstage stuff, promos, interviews, anything that would have enhanced the matches, which would have elevated the show in my opinion that extra stuff. And don’t even say well they had stuff on social media. I’m not checking Facebook and Twitter every 5 minutes during this show, I’m watching it and enjoying it then. We didn’t even get a recap video which has been my favorite part of recent years Manias.
Or even any good songs to go with the promos for the matches, which I missed. Those songs they use elevate both the song and the match for me. To this day I can’t listen to Legacy by Eminem without picturing in my head the promo for Bray Wyatt vs John Cena at Wrestlemania 30, or My Way from Limp Bizkit without picturing The Rock and Stone Cold going at it for Wrestlemania 19. Sure, Metallica had something with the Triple H promo, but that was about it. And we had time for a Pitbull concert midway through the card, but not enough time to say, give Bayley a true Wrestlemania moment.
That whole match, the Raw Women’s Championship match didn’t have the feel I was thinking it was going to have, it felt rushed at times, and was hoping for either Bayley to have this great moment, or Sasha Banks to turn on her best friend, or for Nia Jax to show the world how dominant she could be. Literally none of that happened. And in the end, Bayley retains but with little fanfare, and we just move on down the card. It felt like a preshow match rather than an integral part of Wrestlemania, which it could have felt like with pacing and promos and such.
The John Cena/Nikki Bella tag match and proposal was better than I pictured that match to be on paper. The promo work by all four people involved was stellar, and the buildup was great. I’d give more time to it here, it’s own section even, but there were parts, and the finish of the match that we saw on tv a few weeks ago already, as though that match then was just a rehearsal for this one to see if they could pull off a double 5 knuckle shuffle into an AA, which they did, so it didn’t feel special to me this time at Mania because we saw them do it already on Smackdown. The proposal was a nice touch and a great thing for both of them in their personal and professional lives. I can’t help but wonder if we’ll get an in ring wedding ceremony as well later on, ala Macho Man and Elizabeth at Summerslam back in the day.
Also, AJ vs Shane and Owens vs Jericho were amazing, just fantastic matches from bell to bell. And props to Naomi for winning the Smackdown Women’s Title back in her hometown of Orlando. That was truly well deserved, even if that match too felt like a preshow match, and could have benefited from the stipulation as advertised that every woman on the Smackdown roster would be used. Could have had some surprise entrants like Asuka debuting or Tamina (whom I saw at a Smackdown house show last week wrestling on the face team) But props to her nonetheless.
And Brock Lesnar/Goldberg doesn’t merit a full column because the match was exactly as we thought it would go down. Goldberg has like three moves , and 1 minute and 30 seconds of stamina in a wrestling match these days who never should have held the title again, except for ticket sales and network buys. His match with Lesnar was the best one that they’ve had together, but from the few matches they’ve had, that’s not saying much.
Overall though, Wrestlemania was better than it’s been in the past couple of years, save for a few missteps (Why in the blue hell did Mojo Rawley win the Battle Royal? Are they trying to put Gronk into the WWE after he retires from football? ) It was a great show, and I’m really excited for tonight’s Raw which you can read about here on the site later tonight.
Show Grade- B+