April 03, 2017
The Citrus Bowl, aka Camping World Stadium, in Orlando, Fla. was the host of the 33rd edition of WWE’s Granddaddy of Them All, WrestleMania, on Sunday night. The theme of the evening was The Ultimate Thrill Ride, and WWE sure made up for last year’s WrestleMania in Dallas that was just, in one simple word, bad. Let’s get right to the results.
It was Austin Aries’ first WrestleMania, and he made sure it was one to remember. Aries and Neville put on an absolute clinic in the opening match and may have made some people forget it was actually on the preshow. I thought Aries had a great chance to walk away with the championship, but the ending sequence was fantastic, and I would love to see these guys have a series of matches in the future.
Aries looked like he had the match won after getting Neville in his submission hold, Last Chancery, but an eye gouge from Neville would eventually lead the way for the champion to retain after hitting the Red Arrow on his challenger.
BraunStrowman clearly should’ve been the winner here, but I don’t mind giving the win to Mojo Rawley … at this point, at least. Strowman is so white hot right now that I hope this little hiccup doesn’t throw him off the tracks at all. Maybe he’s next in line for a shot at a title?
Rob Gronkowski got involved in this one after Jinder Mahal of all people ticked him off. He jumped over the railing and security was just AOK with that, I guess.
This match got bumped to the preshow for some reason, but I guess it was a good thing given that the show ended just past midnight Sunday night. I thought this would have been one of the better matches on the card, but it was just … okay. Ambrose retained his championship after countering End of Days into Dirty Deeds. Honestly, I thought Corbin should’ve gotten the title here, so it’ll be interesting to see if he eventually will get that chance.
As a show opener, this might have been one of the best WrestleMania openers ever. AJ Styles is an artist, and he made Shane McMahon look like a million bucks. The story was told on commentary that even though you’re a great wrestler, it’s hard to wrestle a fighter, and that’s exactly what McMahon was in this match. He doesn’t try to be a wrestler. Nobody’s ever mistaken him for a wrestler. So I think, all things considered, both guys set the bar very high for the rest of the night with this match.
Whether it was McMahon going through the announce table, kicking out of a one-armed Styles Clash, or going coast-to-coast on Styles, there was never a dull moment in this match. Styles kicked out of the coast-to-coast, and then eventually hit the Phenomenal Forearm to get his first WrestleMania win.
There were lots of good spots in this match, including many near falls. The story of hatred was well told and I’m glad Owens got the win and the United States Championship if he can’t have the Universal Championship, I guess. Owens hit Jericho with a powerbomb on the ring apron after a great back-and-forth encounter to win the title.
The match began with some smart psychology, as Bayley, Sasha Banks and Charlotte Flair all tried to eliminate Nia Jax. It didn’t work at first, but eventually, the three were able to work together and hit Jax with a triple powerbomb and dogpiled on her for the pin, eliminating her.
Sasha Banks was eliminated after Charlotte drilled her into an exposed turnbuckle.
Bayley then got the win after hitting Charlotte with an elbow drop off the top rope, shades of Randy Savage. Great moment for Bayley.
This may have been the biggest surprise of the night. The New Day came out before the match began and teased inserting themselves into the match, especially since it looked like they were ready to battle. But, instead, they introduced the returning Hardy Boyz, making it a Fatal Four Way Ladder Match instead of a Triple Threat.
What would have made this an even bigger surprise? If Matt and Jeff became the Raw Tag Team Champions.
OH! THEY DID!
After a pretty good ladder match, complete with Jeff Hardy doing an insane dive off a humongous ladder to take out Cesaro and Sheamus, Matt Hardy climbed the ladder inside the ring to capture the Raw Tag Team Championships for Team Extreme.
One of the most well-built matches heading into WrestleMania that I can remember, I’m sure this was a night to remember for all four involved. The Miz was rewarded for his fantastic work since the brand extension by being in a match with John Cena. Even though it was a mixed tag match, it was still one of the biggest matches on the card. And it delivered.
Unfortunately for the anti-Cena crowd, he and Nikki Bella got the win after dual five-knuckle shuffles.
After the match, Cena grabbed the mic and proposed to Bella, who said she would marry the 16-time World Champion.
Some great intros for these guys and the in-ring match that followed wasn’t too bad, either. The psychology was there and Rollins sold the knee injury well. With this being a non-sanctioned match, some weapons came into play, including Triple H’s beloved sledgehammer.
Only, it wasn’t used much. Stephanie McMahon, who was in her husband’s corner, ripped the sledgehammer away that Rollins wanted to used, which resulted in a Triple H Pedigree to him. Only, Rollins kicked out.
Later, McMahon tried holding Rollins, but he escaped before Triple H could hit him. Instead, Rollins nailed H with a superkick, knocking him into the ropes and his wife, sending her crashing through a table on the outside. Rollins then took advantage of H being distracted and hit him with a Pedigree for the win.
If anything, this was one of the better matches on the card in terms of the build, but completely fell flat in the ring. Even with the lights going out and worms being reflected off the canvas while Orton was laying – Wyatt’s plan to play more mind games – the crowd just wasn’t into this one. The ending fell flat, too, as Wyatt was dominating and Orton hit the RKO “out of nowhere” and became the new WWE Champion. It was almost anticlimactic. There wasn’t a great story. And Wyatt lost another WrestleMania match. At this point, he’s the anti-Taker.
If I said this match lasted less than five minutes, you probably would think it stunk, right? I mean, I wouldn’t blame you. But, this match was different. Once the bell rang, both Lesnar and Goldberg went all out for the entire match. Suplex after suplex, spear after spear, back to suplex after suplex. This may not have been a five-star classic, but it was explosive and Lesnar finally got his big win against Goldberg, pinning him after hitting an F5 to become the new Universal Champion.
And, just like that, Goldberg will probably disappear. It was a good run.
Naomi made her surprise return last Tuesday at SmackDown to be added to this match, and the hometown hero made the most of it as she captured the SmackDown Women’s Championship for a second time.
After relinquishing the championship a week after suffering a knee injury that would cause her to miss some ring time, Naomi came back strong to tap out the reigning champion, Alexa Bliss, in a pretty scattered Six-Pack Challenge match. This match had originally been scheduled to go on the preshow, but it was then sandwiched between two of the biggest matches on the card. I guess the preshow would’ve been better?
Maybe. Maybe not. The match wasn’t that great, but now Naomi has a chance to run with the championship. I’d like to see her break out and become a star. We’re in the beginning stages right now.
In what was supposed to be one of the most memorable moments in WWE history, the main event of WrestleMania 33 fell well short of expectations. Remember when Triple H and The Undertaker faced each other inside Hell in a Cell at WrestleMania 28 with Shawn Michaels as the special referee and it was labeled with the tagline, “End of an Era”? Well, that really wasn’t the end of an era. Triple H and The Undertaker continued wrestling years after that.
Sunday night in Orlando, after Reigns pinned The Dead Man after a multitude of spears, it truly was the end of an era. Since 1990, Mark Calaway has given us moment after moment to remember as he portrayed the character of The Undertaker in the then World Wrestling Federation. Year after year, Calaway has given us some of the best performances of his career. Since my wrestling fandom began, The Undertaker has been a staple of everything I’ve loved about the wrestling industry. Everything from his entrance to his insistence to portray his character anywhere and everywhere to his run as the “American Badass” and then returning to his Dead Man persona, The Undertaker has given me a lifetime of memories already.
Sunday night, after he lost what seems to be final match, The Undertaker left his gloves, jacket and hat in the ring before taking the long walk up the ramp, raising his fist high in the air before descending into the ramp via a trap door. It was the perfect way for him to go out. And it almost makes Reigns set for the next few years if WWE can book him right and take advantage of this opportunity. Many fans in attendance weren’t happy Reigns beat The Undertaker – some, for the wrong reasons – but this could definitely help momentum swing in Reigns’ favor, especially if they continue allowing him to show this more heelish side to him without fully turning him heel.
Thank you, Undertaker. For not only giving me a fantastic run as a wrestling fan but also making Reigns the top dog in your yard.