So here we are. WWE’s Wrestlemania comes but once a year – the pinnacle of the wrestling calendar in the western world. With so many big names and story’s that need to be wrapped up – Wrestlemania had plenty to be getting on with. Coming in at just under seven hours long by the conclusion, this was a mammoth event for the company and its fans. But what did we think of it?
Neville def. Aires (Cruiserweight Championship)
Mojo Rowley won the Andre The Giant Battle Royale
Dean Ambrose def. Corbin (Intercontinental Championship)
AJ Styles def. Shane McMahon
Kevin Owens def. Chris Jericho (US Title)
Bayley def. Sasha Banks, Charlotte & Nia Jax (Raw Women’s Title)
Matt and Jeff Hardy def. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Sheamus and Cesaro (Raw Tag Team Title)
John Cena and Nikki Bella def. The Miz and Maryse
Seth Rollins def. Triple H
Randy Orton def. Bray Wyatt (WWE Championship)
Brock Lesnar def. Goldberg (Universal Championship)
Naomi def. Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Carmella, Becky Lynch & Nattie (Smackdown Live Women’s Title)
Roman Reigns def. The Undertaker
BEST: Austin Aires vs Neville (Cruiserweight Classic)
A solid opener from the pair. Excellent work with lots of potential for more down the line. I enjoyed Neville’s heel work, his antagonizing of Aires throughout gave way to the logical ending – where Neville raked the eyes. The crowds were into it, which is more than can be said for the following matches….
WORST: Andre The Giant Battle Royale
A complete mess. It wouldn’t have been so bad if WWE stuck to their guns and focused in on some of the competitors – but they didn’t. The spotlighted talent all disappeared by the halfway point – leaving us with a ring filled with competitors no one cared about. When Mojo went out the ring and it became obvious that WWE wanted to use the match as a celebrity spot, I lost all interest. Mojo Rawley winning is about as dense a move as anything. I guess good for Mojo, except we never saw him get the trophy at the end.
Waste of everyone’s time.
WORST: Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin (Intercontinental Championship)
The surprise of this being pushed to the Kickoff gave way quickly to huge indifference. Not really the pairs fault, the crowd were dead from the awkward match that came before. The two worked hard, put on a nice match but ultimately lacked the brutality that the feud deserved. It didn’t feel like a personal feud, instead just a throwaway. It’s a real shame that Corbin didn’t win – it means that we’re likely to see more of the pair moving forward.
BEST: Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
Be honest, who thought this match was going to be naff? Turns out we shouldn’t have been so pessimistic – as AJ Styles guided Shane to a more than passable match. It’s a shame that Shane didn’t get to do a more “large” spot – but he did make good use of the coast-to-coast. We also got an impressive shooting star press, which ultimately led to Shane losing the match. The live crowd enjoyed it – which is certainly a victory in itself.
BEST: Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens (United States Champion)
Of course these two had a great match. More technical than the previous outing, the two exchanged some impressive manuevers and even swapped finishers at various points. I enjoyed the back the forth throughout. Owens winning makes sense, and allows Kevin the chance to begin rebuilding his image with the Raw mid-card title (in particular given that Lesnar won’t be working week-to-week). A fitting bookend to Jericho’s current run with the company and one of the better matches on the card.
BEST: Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax vs. Charlotte vs. Bayley (Raw Women’s Championship)
What an odd match. Making Nia look incredibly strong was the best decision for all party’s – with the other three women working together to knock her aside. The pile on pin involving all the women really helped to build Nia as a monster and protected her well from the early pinfall. What I didn’t enjoy though was the sudden way that Sasha Banks was eliminated – which seemingly came from nowhere. It was made all the more awkward when Bayley’s homage to Randy Savage seemed to miss the mark and resulted in the match ending somewhat abruptly. It wasn’t a bad match by any stretch, but I certainly wouldn’t have minded them getting an extra few minutes to tell a more cohesive story.
BEST: Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson vs. Matt and Jeff Hardy vs. Enzo Amore and Big Cass vs. Sheamus and Cesaro (Raw Tag Team Titles)
The return of the Hardy Boyz prior to this match really helped invigorate proceedings and go the crowd white hot for the match. The best decision here was to let the match flow around their antics. Jeff Hardy got to do his show stealing Swanton off the top of the ladder – while Matt captured the belt. The other teams mostly served as background noise to this – which is something of a shame in the longer run. We’ll have to see if the Hardy’s joining Raw helps to add some much needed depth to proceedings.
BEST: John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse
It was what it was. Miz played up to the crowd while Maryse played the cowardly heel, running away whenever the moment called for her to compete. Miz played to the crowd well and the fans wanted to see him and Maryse overcome Cena – but ultimately this was their story and their night. Was a big lover of the post-match segment with Nikki and Cena. It was touching, really sweet and well performed by the two. It’s nice to see Cena in moments like this, as it helps to remind audiences that he isn’t an all-conquering bad guy. Nice all around – just a shame that Miz couldn’t get the win.
BEST: Seth Rollins vs. Triple H
So close to overcooking the broth. The crowd seemed fatigued at the outset of this one, and the two didn’t help with some slogging back and forth that failed to get the crowd into the match. As things progressed it got better, although Rollins selling of his injury was as inconsistent as his hobbling from the other week. I’d have preferred it if they’d just brawled more and got to the meat of the match quicker. Perhaps needed to be shorter and more focused – although the Stephanie spot with her going through the table was well thought out.
WORST: Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton (WWE Championship)
Well didn’t this get rubbish quickly. The match itself was poor, but slapping in those bizarre maggot/beetle overlays into the ring during the match was a step too far. The live audience audibly screamed “This is stupid” – a sentiment it’s hard to argue with. Wouldn’t have been so bad if the match itself was any good, but as with the Summer feud between these two, there’s no chemistry there. Instead of being excited by two guys going at it, we’re left with a lumbered, awkward match that lacks real direction. Awkward doesn’t cover it.
BEST: Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar (Universal Title)
Some will decry this match as a waste of time. I actually dug the way they worked around the limitations of both men, telling a really brutal and hard-hitting match out the gate. It hit the spots it needed to, while giving both men just enough offence to tide over fans from both camps. Considering that I had zero expectations heading into this one, and also how overstuffed the previous match was, it’s nice to be pleasantly surprised by an adequate outing.
WORST: Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella vs. Natalya vs. Naomi (Smackdown Women’s Championship)
With next to no time afforded to the women (Even their entrances were getting sliced) it’s not hard to see why this match suffered. They tried, and it wasn’t terrible, but for those hoping that a move to the main roster would benefit the Smackdown Women’s match – they were sadly proven very wrong. No one really got time to shine in the Wrestlemania spotlight, with rushed spots and some really lacking continuity. Big props to Naomi winning though – the best decision moving forward.
WORST: Roman Reigns vs The Undertaker
Oh boy. I understand what the intention was here, but the execution was so woeful that it completely undermined the intent. This match was rough as heck round the edges, stuffed with botches and really bizarre pacing that completely ruined the story. The Undertaker beat down was just sad, and angered many fans who felt it was another WWE attempt to show Reigns down their throat. This was one of the worst Wrestlemania main-event MATCHES hands down, and arguably has done more damage to Roman Reigns than good. Such a baffling and confusing way to end such a wonderful career.
To put it nicely, this was a Wrestlemania of two halves. A show that began well but lost all momentum as it struggled through its bloated runtime.
The main event was a bad joke. No blame directly to Reigns, who was tasked with carrying an almost incapable Undertaker to a decent match. The result though was a shocking Wrestlemania main event match that will arguably do more damage to his career than good.
Around this, the final third of the show felt rushed and stuffed with bad ideas. Who thought it was a good idea to project images of maggots onto a Wrestlemania ring as part of a match? It was stupid beyond belief, and failed to mask just how bad a WWE Championship match it was.
It’s a real shame as the undercard had some strong matches. Some great matches that really did their job and made Wrestlemania feel complete. On balance, it was a decent Wrestlemania. But that doesn’t make some of the more awful decisions bearable.