WWE WrestleMania 33
April 2 2017
We’re in Orlando, Florida at the 33rd Granddaddy of them all. There has been a fucking metric shit-tonne of wrestling this weekend. I’ve seen quite a lot, despite some live streaming issues. Now we’re hitting up ‘Mania for a frankly ridiculous seven hour show. In honour of it being the biggest show of the year I have a stream on the PC and another on my TV, from the Xbox. They don’t marry up. Why WWE, why? Why can nothing work properly? Kick-off panel is Renee Young, Booker T, Jerry Lawler and Shawn Michaels. They watch a load of videos together. Shawn brings some excellent analysis, making me wish they could use him more frequently on these things. Lawler, whose voice is going, gets booted and replaced by Lita after 30 minutes.
7 hour show you say? Bring it on! pic.twitter.com/06rqvEeKyf
— Arnold Furious (@ArnoldFurious) April 2, 2017
WWE Cruiserweight Championship
Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries
Pre-show commentary comes from Tom “Rock Hard for 7 Hours” Phillips and Corey Graves. That ramp is enormous and it takes ages for these spirited cruiserweight lads to stroll to the ring. This is a bit of a dead spot for the cruisers to go out in, with the crowd having barely filed in. Despite the solid work nobody seems bothered and that’s a lot of people not reacting out there. They have the temerity to put an advert into the match, during a 7 hour show. Why is there an ad break in a match? That should never happen on a live show where you control the advertising. Ever. Under any circumstance. Both guys seem a bit miffed at being in this spot and at the crowd’s lack of interest but muster the energy to do some dives. The crowd finally bite when Neville backflips to sell a missile dropkick. Straggly bearded Neville throws Aries around for fun, including one spot where the challenger lands square on his neck.
It’s actually quite refreshing how much time they get, seeing as there’s two hours of pre-show. It gives them a chance to build momentum and tell a story. Aries brings a tonne of intensity and unloads his arsenal. Neville is forced to rake the eyes to stop the Last Chancery. Austin had a broken orbital bone last year so that’s keen psychology. Red Arrow finishes soon afterwards. Neville retains.
Final Rating: ***1/2
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Who’s in this? Basically everyone that’s not on the main card. It’s always telling who gets actual introductions so that’s Big Show and Braun Strowman.
Killian Dain is the one surprise entrant, although they announced it on the Twitter yesterday after TakeOver. The crowd gang up and throw Show out and then Strong-Man too. Hey, common sense! Disappointment for Braun and Show though, who barely got to do anything. Show was originally billed in a featured match against Shaq because the basketball legend turned chicken. The ring is left with a mass of jobbers and a few featured guys like Sami Zayn. The ring slowly clears out and Luke Harper goes fairly early.
FINAL FOUR: Dain, Sami, Jinder and Mojo Rawley. Dain throws Sami out immediately.
An NFL player decides to stroll into the ring in a weird moment. Fancy your own WrestleMania moment? Just stroll on into the ring. Mojo throws Dain and Jinder out to win.
Final Rating: DUD
Video Control takes us backstage where Paul Heyman perves over Charly Caruso and Maria Menounos. Some softball questions are thrown at him about Lesnar-Goldberg. Meanwhile on Twitter people are going nuts about the various obstructions caused by the set. Hundreds of seats are behind palm trees and the ramp.
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin
This is a rugged contest with both men having a brash smashmouth style. I can’t say I’m a fan of either man, in the ring at least, but they could probably wing a decent match with no planning, which is something. Corbin hooks a few rest holds and the match creeps along. The problem they have is that Ambrose is claiming the IC title is important, which it clearly isn’t. This means the crowd aren’t that invested in him retaining it. Dean does a decent job of selling his own determination to retain but they’re already on a losing path. Corbin wins bonus points for stopping Ambrose’s horrible rebound lariat with a big boot. He even manages to glance away when Dean gets around to hitting his worst move. Dean gets Dirty Deeds out of nowhere to retain.
Final Rating: **1/4
That ends the pre-show and WrestleMania itself gets underway.
Promo Time: The New Day
They’re hosting ‘Mania this year, which is some sort of rub/consolation for the job they took last year.
Apparently there were other options to host ‘Mania but New Day scooped this prestigious honour. Amanda Why: Big E looks like someone ordered a stripagram of a children’s magician. And that’s wrong on too many levels. They say nothing in particular and we can get the show underway.
AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon
While this isn’t the most ideal opponent for AJ to put on a stunning match at least he’s in a featured match on the main card. Personally I’d have put him in a title match somewhere. He’s a big match wrestler. Shane is good at falling off tall stuff. He’s not good at standing switches. Or taking bumps. AJ outdoes Shane at one of his few strengths; the Shane O Shuffle. AJ walks Shane through some mat work and then manages to convincingly sell for Shane’s awful strikes. Shane’s worked punches are fucking horrible. At least Shane knows he needs to take sickening spots to get the match over and takes a ridiculous bump over the announce table. He still can’t throw strikes and even lifts Tyler Bate’s bop and bang approach. Basically everything Shane does looks like a rookie class guy trying to do stuff that’s beyond him.
Shane trying to shoot MMA style on the mat, and escaping the Calf Crusher in the process, is just silly. But then he went toe to toe with the Undertaker last year and that was ridiculous so it’s par for the course. AJ’s precision is what makes the match work, so he can do a springboard 450 into a Shane chokehold without it looking stupid. It’s well planned out and it’s only really Shane’s inability to execute half the plan that hurts the match. They give up on the concept of wrestling and throw in a ref bump to set up the Van Terminator.
When that doesn’t get it done Shane goes to Savage Elbow AJ through the announce table. That doesn’t work either. Shane isn’t done and counters the Phenomenal Forearm into a fucking ugly floatover DDT. SHOOTING STAR PRESS…MISSES. Holy shit. Phenomenal Forearm promptly finishes but that SSP was the pop of the match. Shane did his best to drag this down but it was pretty impressive anyway.
Final Rating: ***1/2
WWE United States Championship
Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho (c)
The feud has a lot of intensity to it, which helps with crowd reactions. It’s been well booked throughout. It might be the best booked match on the card. It’s bizarre to see Jericho still working when almost everyone else from his Era is done. God bless DDP Yoga. Owens knows about Jericho’s back injury and targets it. Owens tends to lean towards rest holds, like Bobby Roode, but KO has a unique knack of making boring holds interesting by yelling abuse at all and sundry during them.
— michael (@TheFrayMovement) April 2, 2017
With night drawing in and the weather changing, it highlights what a startling set this is. It’s breathtaking. The match is less breathtaking. They run through what would be considered a standard match, from both men. It doesn’t have the anger and intensity I was expecting. It’s not a bad match by any stretch of the imagination and they certainly work hard. It just has a missing “It Factor”. While that aspect is missing they go about the business of putting together a strong match that slowly escalates. They counter each other’s spots and then start to steal from each other’s arsenal. Owens hooking a Walls of Jericho in particular gets the crowd feisty.
One ‘Mania trait that sometimes irks me is that finishers stop being effective. Here Owens hits the Pop Up Powerbomb and Jericho just casually kicks out. Owens on the other hand puts one single finger on the rope to save himself after a Codebreaker. It’s goddamn magnificent. Owens hits another powerbomb, on the apron, and that finishes. Owens wins his first US title at WrestleMania.
Final Rating: ***3/4
WWE RAW Women’s Championship
Bayley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax
I still think it’s odd that Nia is in this match. Becky Lynch, the fourth horsewoman, would have made more sense (from a storyline perspective). Charlotte slides borderline face by siding with Bayley and Sasha against Nia. This allows Nia to be suitably destructive. It’s something her character has been sorely lacking. It means the other women have to triple team her, which is great for Nia’s character. The Horsewomen triple team with a powerbomb and Nia is first out. Good. This does make you wonder why Nia was included in the first place.
Now Charlotte finds herself against the Super Best Friends. Then she casually as fuck hits the Sky Twister Press to the floor. Charlotte and Sasha have worked together a ton over the past year so have no issues running through some trademarks and counters thereof. Again Charlotte looks outstanding in her interaction. Her in-ring and character has come on leaps and bounds. She exposes a turnbuckle (mostly) and manages to bash Sasha’s face off it for the elimination. There’s always a possibility that Sasha is carrying an injury. She usually is.
Charlotte vs. Bayley for the title. Wouldn’t this be more special and spectacular if they hadn’t pissed away Charlotte’s PPV streak last month? Bayley drops a Savage Elbow and retains in a very rushed match.
Final Rating: ***
Video Control takes us to the 2017 Hall of Fame class. The actual ceremony was almost four hours long. It was a good show though. Plenty of quality speeches and I was never bored. Kurt Angle kept his induction short and sweet. DDP did the best mic work.
WWE RAW Tag Team Championship
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson (c) vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro
Sheamus and Cesaro seem to be getting along famously nowadays. Before we get underway the New Day turn up again to turn this into a four-way dance. It’s the Hardy Boyz. FUCK THAT OWL! Cole points out they’ve not lost a step. Of course not, they were in a ladder match last night in ROH! Cesaro steals the show though, hitting a double stomp from standing on Gallows shoulders. Then an infinity Giant Swing. Naturally the ladders come into play and the chances of someone getting hurt multiply with each spot. Sheamus, who has bad luck with ladders, takes one bump onto a ladder. The Hardyz get popped for hitting their trademark stuff, as it’s been a while since they got to hang around in McMahonland. Matt in particular seems to relish coming back in better popularity than ever before.
Jeff murders himself through a ringside ladder but Matt immediately pulls down the straps for the Hardyz to win their 7th tag titles.
Final Rating: ***3/4
The Miz & Maryse vs. John Cena & Nikki Bella
The focus remains on Cena and Nikki’s actual real-life relationship rather than this match but credit to Miz for making me actually care about this match. Miz, despite being a complete asshole, is over huge with the marks. So he starts doing babyface poses in obnoxious fashion. Jerry Lawler tries to claim “only a few fans” are cheering Miz when it’s clear most of the audience are popping hard.
Miz lifting Daniel Bryan’s spots gets a lot of love here too. Basically Cena is a rubbish babyface and this is what happens at Mania when all the smart fans hate you. I personally like John but in this feud he’s been downright mean. No wonder people don’t like him. Double AA finishes for the ‘faces’. This was a bad match, although Miz carried his end.
Final Rating: *1/2
Post Match: Big Match John talks to Nikki about her recovering from neck surgery. Apparently she told him something when she was loopy before surgery. Cena pops the big Q and gets the big ‘yes’. That rock he bought is massive. It’s a nice moment for the Cena/Bella families and I’m glad they’ve found happiness. Although doing this in front of a big audience kinda proves Miz right.
GREEN LIGHT pic.twitter.com/SrWDrWHKaR
— michael (@TheFrayMovement) April 3, 2017
Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
Hunter comes out on a custom bike with Steph riding on the back as a biker chick (with badass boots). He’s joined by a lot of cops on bikes. It makes them look like some kind of slow speed police chase. It’s not Hunter’s coolest looking entrance. Seth with his broken knee doesn’t look to be in the best of condition. He’s barely passed fit for this. Hunter generously kicks back and let’s Seth exact his revenge. Until Hunter remembers the stipulation and takes a knee to Seth’s bad wheel. Speaking of stipulations; “unsanctioned” matches generally don’t have company appointed officials and shit. Why is the referee there if the WWE didn’t sanction this? Anyway, once we’ve gotten past this making no sense Seth does some good work in repeating spots that should injure his knee. Steph continues to be the MVP, informing Hunter what’s happening when he’s down, as any good wife would. “He’s getting chairs, get up”. Hunter then slowly works over the knee. It’s 3am mate, let’s pick up the pace a bit. My energy drinks are wearing off. Again Steph takes over with the logic, preventing Rollins doing a spot off the ropes because it’s no DQ. She grabs the sledgehammer off Seth too. The match is all about Steph. Hunter’s biggest moment comes from teasing the Pepsi Plunge to screw with CM Punk. Rollins then starts throwing everything out there, hitting an incredible Phoenix Splash. It could and maybe should logically finish. Steph, the X-Factor throughout, is accidentally knocked through a table. With her gone Seth can hit the Pedigree for the win. This was way overlong but the last few minutes made amends for the sluggish pacing.
Final Rating: ***1/4
Video Control takes us to Pitbull for a concert. It’s after 3am now. This is uncalled for.
Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton
The match plods along, despite it being 3.30am. Until suddenly maggots! It’s a way to get Wyatt’s character across but the match is simply going on too late for the crowd to bite on any of this voodoo nonsense. The reaction is telling; silence. It is deafening. The entire match is a horrific miscue. After the third video projection nonsense the crowd starting booing. Orton hits an RKO for the title. Good lord this was fucking awful.
Final Rating: DUD
WWE Universal Championship
Goldberg (c) vs. Brock Lesnar
Lesnar starts fast this time, slipping behind into a series of Germans. However, he walks into a spear. Twice. Then another through the guardrail. They tease a rapid finish but Brock kicks out of the Jackhammer. This is the opposite of their WrestleMania XX match! Now everything is met with rapturous cheers! F-5 finishes after ten German suplexes. This was great. Perfectly booked.
Final Rating: ****
SmackDown Women’s Championship
Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella vs. Natalya vs. Naomi
This has dropped into the filler spot, just after 4am, and just before the Undertaker’s match. The crowd pop Alexa pretty hard and Naomi for her glow entrance on a big stage.
With the crowd burned out after Lesnar-Goldberg it’s a tough spot and everyone pops off spots as quick as possible to try and get the crowd into it. It’s a lost cause. Becky Lynch comes closest by throwing James Ellsworth around.
The others bust a gut and throw in some fun spots. Naomi, the hometown favourite, gets everyone fired up by hitting dives. Alexa finds herself alone with Naomi and taps out. Naomi wins her second women’s title in quick succession.
Final Rating: **1/4
Video Control has New Day come out to announce the 75k attendance. Some of them can see the ring.
Battle to Be the Big Dog
Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker
We have no holds barred because we’re in the Big Dog’s Yard. We also have Jim Ross on commentary, which is a nice touch and a big “fuck you” to ITV.
We’re 6.30 into ‘Mania, including pre-show, at this point. I am dead. Taker is too, from that long-ass ramp. The crowd, predictably, boo Roman like a pack of wild animals but there’s no venom there. This crowd is too burned out after a long, long show. The ideal length of a wrestling show is 3 hours, tops. It does not help that they take this slowly and methodically. Roman tries like hell to make Taker look like a million bucks, jumping into spots like a madman. Try as he might he can’t carry someone of Taker’s advanced years though. In an ideal world Taker would have already hung up his boots. He struggles through this, avoiding taking bumps. Saving the bumps up for the biggest spots; like the kick-ass spear from one table to another.
Roman is killing himself to get this over. Without Taker’s participation there’s not much he can do. It’s a throwback to Taker-Lesnar when the Streak disappeared. Taker was knocked goofy and the match was shot. Here Taker comes in fucked up, thanks to old age. Taker attempting the Last Ride is painful to watch. Roman is taking his life in his hands by agreeing to a Tombstone. Considering Taker’s condition the match is passable, which is all you can ask for at this point. Roman should get massive credit for that. Undertaker should retire, quite frankly. Or at least be used differently. Wrestling 15-20-25 minutes in singles is madness at this point. Taker eventually gets speared for a fifth or sixth time and stays down. He’s done. This was sad to watch. The only real positive is that Taker put Roman over huge in losing. Only his second ‘Mania defeat. I’d question the wisdom of putting the match on in the first place.
Final Rating: *1/2
— WWE (@WWE) April 3, 2017
It was shaping up to be a great ‘Mania but the top end badly let the card down. Only Lesnar-Goldberg delivered out of the marquee matches. However the undercard was tremendously consistent with good performances and worthwhile contests all over the place. The trouble was the massive run time, of seven hours, which is insanity. You can’t keep a crowd hot for 7 hours. It’s just impossible. That was the death of a couple of matches.