It’s time once more for Wrestlemania the biggest professional wrestling and sports entertainment event for fans and performers that there is. This year the event is held in Orlando, the home of NXT – where a lot of the current roster of superstars got their start -and as usual (at least on paper) the card doesn’t seem that great. But that’s the thing with the WWE’s biggest pay per view, there’s always surprises: especially when it comes to Wrestlemania moments….
We’ve already covered the kick-off pre-show, so onto the main event, hosted by The New Day, who kick off proceedings with a typical New Day promo – only this time they’re dressed like Final Fantasy characters (gotta get that video game sponsorship money right?) Though you have to give it to Big E for the double-entendre, hacker-centric joke about “pulling levers” then staring at Xavier Woods!
AJ Styles vs Shane McMahon
If you’re not going to close the show, you might as well open it and set the bar right? That surely HAS to be the reasoning for putting this match up first… A huge video package opens the match, telling the story of Styles and McMahon so far, including the huge elbow onto the announce table from Smackdown.
AJ immediately gets the upper hand on Shane McMahon, even going as far as imitating McMahon’s fancy footwork. That is until Shane dumps him on his back in the middle of the ring. McMahon then pulls out some ACTUAL classic mat-wrestling moves, surprising AJ and the audience! There’s a repeat of McMahon’s fast-fist beatdown from a previous encounter on Smackdown, before AJ throws Shane to the outside; following that with a huge sliding dropkick that sends Shane over the announce table. Styles takes control, setting the pace of the match and working methodically on McMahon. As huge splash in the corner leads to a near-fall on Shane, who then tries to fight back with his fists. The two have a great back and forth, matching each other move for move in a fantastic display of athleticism. Shane McMahon eventually gets the advantage and a two-count. Styles controls the action and gets the calf-crusher on Shane, who reverses into a choke THEN an armbar. Two quick near-falls see both men down and looking exhausted already.
A 450 leap from the top rope by Styles is countered by McMahon, who puts AJ into the triangle (shades of old-school MMA Undertaker era right there). Styles reverses it into a one-armed Styles Clash for another two-count. The two go back to the physical fist-fighting and ass-kicking before the ref takes a hit from Styles and goes down. With no referee the match turns into street fight complete with trash cans – we know where this is headed right? And yes indeed, McMahon does his usual coast-to-coast on Styles (and a trash can) and *surprise surprise* the ref recovers just in time for yet another near-fall on Styles. We get a repeat of the huge leap from the top rope to the announce table from Smackdown however AJ rolls out of the way and Shane takes the brunt of the damage. Back in the ring Shane reverses a phenomenal forearm into a DDT before climbing the ropes for a shooting star press that misses dramatically. A riled-up, angry AJ finally gets the pin after a huge phenomenal forearm on Shane McMahon from the top rope.
Winner: AJ Styles
United States Championship Match: Kevin Owens vs Chris Jericho
The two former best-friends culminate their new-found rivalry in a championship match that is reportedly going to be the end of Jericho’s current WWE run. It’s great to see Jericho’s full theme, including the countdown, from the Y2J days AND the light-up scarf referencing the iconic Jericho jacket too!
It doesn’t take long for Jericho to hit the walls on Owens, before quickly taking the action to the outside of the ring. Honestly, right from the get-go this match looks like its going to be brutal. Jericho’s control is swiftly stopped by a huge kick from Owens, who launches some vicious blows, and TWO cannonballs (including one on the apron), on his former friend. A quick pin gives Owens a two-count on Jericho, who then unleashes some trash-talk and taking Jericho down to the mat with a chokehold. A running senton leads to another near-fall for Owens, who is now wearing Jericho down… The action goes outside the ring once again as the pair go back and forth with move after move. Jericho gets an elbow from the top rope on Owens for a two count. Owens reverses a code breaker attempt, slamming Jericho to the mat for a pin attempt, but this point Owens is busted open – that’s how brutal these two are going at it. Reversals and counters finally see a Lionsault from Jericho which is intercepted by Owens for another near-fall. More counters and reversals see the pair trying leap after leap from the top rope, all ultimately unsuccessful.
A huge spinning slam from Kevin Owens (sure we haven’t see that too often before?) and another two-count. Wow, this match is moving fast… Another lionsault gets another pin attempt by Jericho. Owens reverses yet another Jericho move by putting Jericho in his own “Walls” maneuver! Then Jericho reverses a cannonball with the Walls of Jericho! A rope grab by Owens leads to the break. Phew… A pop-up powerbomb DOESN’T get the three-count on Jericho, which leads to a frustrated Owens trash talking Jericho and a counter to another pop-up powerbomb, followed by a pin attempt. Owens saves himself by LITERALLY one finger! Slamming Jericho back first onto the outside apron gets Owens the three-count and the win.
Winner (and new United States Champion): Kevin Owens
Raw Women’s Championship Fatal Four-Way
Snooze… As I said on Twitter last week, I hope that Nia Jax was booked in this match to squash all three of her opponents in this match. The story between the trio of Bayley, Sasha and Charlotte has grown stale very quickly. The only way – for me – to redeem it is to crown a brand-new, and dominant, champion. Yeah, I know, I’m going to be severely disappointed.
Wow. Nia Jax dominates from the get-go, as all three opponents fall to her massive move set. Despite Charlotte trying to take the fight to Nia, she’s thrown out of the ring ON TO Bayley and Sasha! The trio eventually team up to try and take Nia down – which they do but it takes all three triple-teaming Nia to do it. Charlotte gets a quick near-fall on the downed Nia Jax. Another triple team and Nia is slammed onto the canvas where all THREE women score the pin on her (stupid, just stupid). Back to the boring storyline it is then… A quick double team on Bayley sees Charlotte go for a tremendous flip from the ringpost onto Sasha and Bayley. Charlotte scores her second near-fall of the night, this time on Sasha, who then reverses for her own pin attempt on Charlotte. Another near-fall for Sasha on Charlotte is followed by the Banks Statement and another pin attempt by Sasha. Hitting the exposed turnbuckle Sasha is knocked out and pinned by Charlotte. Which leaves just Bayley to take the fight to Second Nature.
A missed moonsault by Charlotte allows Bayley to score a two-count on the former champion. Bayley follows it up with a leap from the top rope which is intercepted by Charlotte, who locks in the figure-four. Charlotte then proceeds to work on the apparently “injured” knee of Bayley; before a huge back body drop by Bayley – which leads to nought as shes hung up on the ropes. Some more back and forth and Bayley eventually hits a Macho Man elbow from the top rope on Charlotte to retain the title.
Winner (and still Raw Women’s Champion): Bayley
Raw Tag Team Triple-Threat Championship Match
Surprise, surprise. The triple-threat match becomes a Fatal Four-Way… And no it’s NOT The New Day who are the surprise entrants. It’s the FREAKING Hardy Boys. THE FREAKING HARDY BOYS!! The rumours were true. The rumours were TRUE. Holy shit moment of the night #1 right there.
This is why we LOVE Wrestlemania.
Opening with a free-for-all, the now fatal four-way sees the Matt and Jeff Hardy take control, throwing in all their classic moves and cleaning house. Some swift action between all four teams finally sees Enzo and Cass take control, with Big Cass taking out both Hardy’s with a big boot. Sheamus and Cesaro get a nice spot, with the Cesaro Swing AND the 10 Beats of the Bowery from the pair in unison. A huge Brogue Kick from Sheamus send Jeff Hardy into all the competitors outside the ring, allowing Sheamus to get to the titles but to no avail as Gallows prevents Sheamus from getting them down and Enzo pushing the ladder away. Enzo and Cass ALMOST get the belts down before a double team from Gallows and Sheamus stop it from happening. Anderson and Enzo are left to fight atop a ladder for the belts before Anderson throws Enzo to the floor. Some more back and forth between all four teams and Anderson is back on the ladder – but not for long as Matt Hardy gives him a Twist of Fate from the ladder.
Holy shit moment of the night #2: Jeff Hardy’s swanton from the 20 foot ladder onto Sheamus and Ceasaro.
Holy shit moment of the night #3: The Hardy’s win the Raw Tag Team Titles!
Winners (and new tag Team Champions): The Hardy Boys
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs The Miz & Maryse
Honestly, I wasn’t looking forward to this match when it was first rumoured. But both teams have been putting in some serious, and seriously, good promo work. So much so that this match has become something of a must-see (and no-one can say last Monday’s promo from John Cena wasn’t totally AMAZING). I’m actually siding with The Miz on this one – this feud, and his feud with Daniel Bryan on Talking Smack, have propelled him to a new level and for him to lose would, honestly, undo all that hard work. And also validate everything The Miz has said about John Cena…
Nikki Bella and Maryse kick off the match. Not. Maryse chickens out and tags in The Miz. Who does his usual running away schtick outside the ring before luring Cena into a trap as he gets back in the ring. The Miz has the early advantage, quickly wearing down Cena whilst showboating for the crowd at the same time! The Miz scores the first near-fall of the match. Cena tries to mount some offence but The Miz pretty much counters each and every move. A huge DDT scores another two-count for The Miz but Cena kicks out. The Miz mocks Daniel Bryan before getting slapped in the face by Nikki Bella and tossed out the ring by Cena. A tag by Cena on Nikki means the two women have to go at it for once… And again Maryse chickens out, sliding out to the floor for safety; swiftly followed by Nikki would does a suicide dive on to The Miz! Cena and Nikki Bella eventually double-team The Miz and Maryse, hitting double AA’s for the double pin.
Oh and Cena surprises Nikki – in front of his mum, who’s in the audience – with a marriage proposal. So THAT’S what this storyline was really all about!
Winners: John Cena & Nikki Bella
Seth Rollins vs Triple H
Time for THE most anticipated match of the night. The build has been huge, the match is unsanctioned so anything goes. Let’s see if thats true. Triple H, as usual, gets a huge entrance – rolling down the ramp on a huge three-wheeled motorbike with a police escort and Stephanie McMahon riding shotgun. Seth Rollins intro is nice and symbolic, with a torch in hand and flame graphics on the ramp essentially saying “I’m going to burn your house down”.
Rollins’ knee is ridiculously padded and wrapped – looking around twice the size it should be! Rollins kicks off with a swift onslaught on Triple H, inside and outside the ring; even going as far as into the crowd. Triple H tries to work Rollins good knee – as if to totally disable Seth but Rollins manages to keep his momentum going, with not one but TWO suicide dives and an attempted pedigree on the German announce table, though Triple H reverses it and gives Rollins DDT on to the table. Triple H then begins to work Rollins bad knee with a chair outside the ring and a VICIOUS flying knee to the back of Rollins injured leg off the announce table. Back in the ring Triple H continues to work Rollins’ knee… Two attempts by Rollins to flip and slam Triple H fail thanks to Rollins’ weak knee, but he eventually manages to throw Triple H in the turnbuckle with a Buckle Bomb.
Seth throws Triple H to the floor before climbing to the top of the ringpost for a huge crossbody but landing badly on his injured knee. Rollins bounces Triple H into TWO ringposts. Then pulls out two chairs and a table from under the ring… What does Rollins have in mind? Back on the top rope Rollins hits a Frog Splash on Triple H for a two-count. Triple H hits a spinebuster on Rollins for a near-fall, before wrapping Rollins knee up with a chair and hitting it with some vicious blows. Rollins hits Triple H with a superplex from the top rope THEN rolls into the Falcon Arrow for another two-count. Of course, now that Rollins has the lead Stephanie interferes, allowing Triple H to get Rollins in a leg lock on the bad knee. Rollin reverses into a submission hold of his own but The Game again attacks the knee causing Rollins to lose the hold.
Triple H gets Rollins in another leg lock, this time outside the ring on the floor. Rollins inadvertently uncovers a sledgehammer under the ring – and we all know what happens in the WWE when a hammer is involved in a Triple H match! Some more back and forth and Triple H gets another (very) near-fall on Rollins after hitting him with a Pedigree. Triple H tries to Pedigree Rollins off the top rope, but is back dropped by him instead. Rollins then delivers a huge Phoenix Splash off the top rope for a two-count on Triple H. What follows is a series of attempted Pedigrees from both Rollins and Triple H, each man countering the other. The end comes as Rollins Superkick’s Triple H to the ropes, accidentally putting Stephanie through a table! In the shock of seeing his wife lying prone on the floor, Triple H is hit with one final Pedigree by Rollins, who finally scores the pin.
Winner: Seth Rollins
Intermission time as Pitbull, Flo Rida, Stephen Marley and co. provide some musical entertainment, including the official Wrestlemania theme song Green Light…
Randy Orton vs Bray Wyatt
After what seems like an eternity of promos and entrance music the match finally gets under way, with Orton taking the early lead: even attempting a ridiculously early RKO… Wyat fights back, leaving Orton in the middle of the ring as FINALLY it looks like the WWE have decided to go really creepy with Bray Wyatt as his usual creepy back bend in the corner is accompanied by a ring covered in maggot graphics! Apparently shaken by the visuals Orton can’t fight back against Wyatt, who counters every move Orton tries to make and completely takes over the match. Wyatt takes too long on a Sister Abigail, allowing Orton to roll him up for a quick two-count. Outside the ring Wyatt tries to drop kick Orton, but is met by a drop kick in return. Orton throws Wyatt on the LED apron before Wyatt fights back with a Sister Abigail on the floor.
Missing a clothesline, Wyatt is caught by Orton with an RKO, who then gets another near-fall on Bray. Orton and Wyatt then both pull out their signature moves, going back and forth before Wyatt counters an RKO attempt with another Sister Abigail, scoring a two-count on Orton. Another back bending Exorcist “spider-walk” is accompanied by more bug graphics but Wyatt’s special effects are for nought as Orton hits a final RKO for the three-count and the win.
Winner (and new WWE Champion): Randy Orton
Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar
After Goldberg’s comments early this week I expect the outcome of this match to be different to how it was originally planned. I’m sure Vince and company didn’t appreciate old Bill saying he was miserable. If you’re miserable Goldberg then I’m sure a break from wrestling, after dropping your title to Lesnar, is just what you wanted!
Place your bets now… Does this match go longer than 3 minutes or not?
Lesnar hits three quick suplexs but Goldberg come back with two spears in the ring and a third outside that destroys the barricades. Back in the ring Lesnar counters a jackhammer with an F5 attempt. Nope. Another spear on Brock; and a jackhammer… But Lesnar KICKS OUT! Another attempt at a spear by Goldberg and Lesnar LEAP FROGS GOLDBERG! Time for Suplex City. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight… the suplexes keep coming. Ten suplexes in a row and an F5 and we have a new Universal Champion!
And the final running time? Almost FIVE whole minutes!
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Smackdown Women’s Championship Match
Bumped from the kick-off show to the second to last match? I expect either a HUGE surprise, or this match is to appease fans who are probably going to riot after the Reigns/Undertaker main event. Either way I’m glad to see the BEST female WWE Superstars given such a great spot on the show.
A free for all to start the match, each women gets a decent spot – with Alexa Bliss talking some fantastic smack at Carmella AND Natalya. Naomi hits a hurricanrana on Natalya early on. We’re down to just Becky and Carmella in the ring and, shocker, James Ellsworth sticks his non-existent chin into the match. Thankfully Becky Lynch gives James Ellsworth a Becksploder and he’s dumped outside the ring after interfering on Carmella’s behalf. More fast and furious action and pin after pin, as Natalya, Carmella and Naomi all go to near-falls. A double leg hold by Natalya on Naomi and Carmella is broken up by a huge kick from Mickie James; before Naomi eventually takes out ALL her competitors outside the ring. Back in the ring, Alexa Bliss gives Naomi a huge right hand but Naomi fights back, putting Alexa in a submission move, leading to a tap out and a win for Naomi.
Winner (and new Smackdown Women’s Champion): Naomi
Roman Reigns vs Undertaker
I’ve got to say I wasn’t that excited for this match until… JR’s back and calling the match! At least he can bring the excitement to a match that the audience are going to destroy ;) Good on Vince for bringing him back into the WWE fold. I wonder if this was specifically to call what is supposed to be The Undertaker’s last match, after all the pair have a LOT of history together in the WWE?
Shock of the night: They cheated! The Undertaker only had to walk half the way, he had a trap door in the ramp. To be fair his intro was long enough with the short walk. If you timed it, yes, ‘Takers intro was LONGER than the Lesnar/Goldberg match.
The Undertaker kicks off the match, taking it to Reigns and dominating the opening of the match – throwing Reigns out to the floor not once but twice, declaring this ring was “his yard.” Reigns tries to reverse the momentum, sending ‘Taker outside the ring, but The Undertaker fights back, throwing Reigns into the steel steps. The pair go back and forth, inside and outside the ring, with Roman Reigns pulling off a drive-by to get the upper hand. Back in the ring the pair exchange blows and headbutts. Snake Eyes, a big boot and a leg drop gives The Undertaker the first near-fall of the match. ‘Taker clears off the announce table but Reigns counters his plans with a standing drop kick (to a silent audience BTW). Undertaker chokeslams Reigns onto the German announce table then clears off ANOTHER announce table. What is his plan? Whatever it was, Reigns interrupts it by spearing the deadman through the Spanish announce table (and the crowd are still pretty quiet)!
Reigns gets in the ring, leaving ‘Taker on the collapsed table to a raucous round of boos from the crowd. Hey, at least they’re being vocal now. The Undertaker is trapped in the corner by Reigns, before he eventually gets Roman in the Last Ride for a VERY, VERY near-fall… Out comes a chair and ‘Taker gives Reigns the beatdown he deserves. ‘Taker eventually chokeslams Roman onto the chair, hits him with a Tombstone and STILL Roman Reigns kicks out of the pin (the audience sure aren’t pleased about that!). Reigns slips not once, but twice before hitting ‘Taker with a Superman Punch – the commentary team try and sell it like Reigns was looking for a “move” but couldn’t move the 300lb deadman. Yeah, right.
Undertaker gets Reigns in the Hell’s Gate. Here’s hoping Reigns goes to sleep real soon… Nope. Spoke too soon. A foot on the ropes saves Reigns. ‘Taker looks absolutely buggered by this time. Reigns then goes to work on the deadman with the chair that’s STILL in the ring – giving The Undertaker the same punishment that he dished out on him. Another near-fall by Reigns on ‘Taker. More of Roman’s big moves: Spear, Superman Punch, etc. but The Undertaker still doesn’t stay down. However a final huge punch to the face, followed by a huge spear and Roman Reigns finally scores the victory.
However the bigger news was AFTER the match as The Undertaker took off his gloves, coat and hat, and left them in the middle of the ring in a symbolic goodbye to the fans. I guess the retirement rumours are true? If they are, I’ll go ahead and say it now, thanks for everything ‘Taker. You are, and always will be, a true WWE legend.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Well it was a Wrestlemania of two halves. Literally. The first half was packed with true main event matches, each and every performer laying everything out there for the fans in attendance and watching a home. Even the Cena/Nikki match was pretty good. But then came the intermission, with Pitbull and co. and the entertainment levels fell off a cliff. What the hell happened? It’s like Wrestlemania was playing in reverse, the weakest matches at the end and a stacked front half!
Bray Wyatt’s match was less a match and more a series of RKO’s from Orton. Wyatt should have held the title for much longer, especially as he has no “family” – he could’ve used the title to build his own legacy. Instead we get, yawn, another Orton title run… Unless of course we get a surprise on Smackdown on Tuesday as Orton loses the title immediately (we can hope). The only interesting thing about the Wyatt/Orton match was those graphics – hopefully we see more of these creepy crawlies going forward. The WWE certainly need to build Bray Wyatt to Undertaker-style levels of supernatural power and those graphics helped tonight.
On the plus side, at least the latter half of Wrestlemania saw Goldberg lose. Though we need to see more of Lesnar on TV now he’s the Universal Champion [Sidenote: Lesnar is now the first man to be both the WWE and Universal Championship's]. As for the Smackdown Women’s match… I expected and HOPED (beyond hope) for more from that match. There could’ve been surprise entrants, something, anything, to elevate the match to more than just a TV quality 6-women free for all. We all get that Naomi was set to win in her home town but at least we could’ve had a better story to get her there on the biggest PPV of the year.
The big surprise of the night though, besides the return of the Hardy’s? That Reigns didn’t bury The Undertaker in a squash match. It wasn’t a great match by any means (especially consider how good some of the other matches in this PPV were), but at least both men sold it well, especially given how Reigns usually no-sells everything! And those final moments with The Undertaker, saying farewell in the only way he could, will forever be a classic Wrestlemania moment.
Final thoughts: How about next year’s Wrestlemania isn’t over seven hours long? Also, did anyone else notice that there was a distinct lack of veteran wrestlers and/or Legends taking part this year? Looks like the brand split didn’t allow for any filler this year (which is where the old guys are usually rolled out). Saying that, Wrestlemania 33 was probably one of the best Wrestlemania’s of recent memory…