World Wrestling Entertainment has dubbed this year’s WrestleMania as the “ultimate thrill ride.” Unfortunately, I have not been thrilled with most of the build up to their biggest show if the year. There are maybe two matches that I truly feel that creative has done a good job of building towards. Did this pay-per-view event assuage my fears, or reinforce them?
SHANE MCMAHON vs. AJ STYLES: It was difficult being fair and unbiased when it came to reviewing this match. It’s been quite some time since the WWE had someone who was legitimately the best wrestler in the world. As such, you would think that they would have found Styles a more worthy opponent at the biggest show of the year, but I digress. Both men tried to feel each other out in the opening minutes. I was not as disappointed in the mat wrestling as I thought I would be. Shane-O-Mac surprised his opponent with hammerlocks, arm drags and snap mares, completely surprising Styles. Styles cut him off by taking the fight to the outside. AJ slowed the pace down, wearing down the SmackDown Live commissioner. Halfway into the match, McMahon was noticeably gassed. Styles took it back to the mat to lock in the Calf Crusher. Shane countered it into a rear naked choke, then transitioned into an arm bar and then an omoplata. Styles went for a 450 splash, but McMahon caught him and locked in a triangle choke. Styles countered with a Styles Clash, however could not get the three count. The referee caught an errant enziguri. Styles brought in a garbage can and tried to take a page out of Shane’s book with the coast to coast Van Terminator, but, Shane had it scouted. McMahon then hit Styles with said move. Styles avoided a top rope elbow and went for the Phenomenal Forearm. Shane countered into a Laying the Smack Down style DDT. McMahon shocked the crowd by going for a shooting star press. Styles barely avoided it, looking completely astonished. Styles finished off Shane with a Phenomenal Forearm and made believers out of all of the skeptics…he was able to get a great match out of Shane McMahon. WINNER: AJ STYLES
KEVIN OWENS vs. CHRIS JERICHO (Intercontinental Championship): Both former friends came at each other with stiff right hands to open the match. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho early on, but Owens escaped. Owens nailed Y2J with a super kick out of nowhere and followed it up with a cannonball into the corner and then a second one on the apron, drilling Jericho’s head into the turnbuckle post. Owens slowed down the pace and attempted the apron power bomb, but Jericho had it scouted. Jericho attempted a Code Breaker, however Owens saw it coming and reversed it into a package sit out power bomb. These men know each other well and they had an answer for each other’s moves. Owens countered a Lionsault attempt and Jericho countered a Swanton Bomb. Owens locked Jericho into his own submission, the Walls of Jericho. Jericho escaped and proceeded to lock in the move one more time. Owens finally delivered the pop up power bomb, but Jericho kicked out of the pin attempt. The fight rolled to the outside and Owens nailed Jericho with the apron power bomb. KO then rolled Jericho into the ring and got the pin, winning his first United States Championship. WINNER: KEVIN OWENS
SASHA BANKS vs. CHARLOTTE vs. NIA JAX vs. BAYLEY (Raw Women’s Championship): Jax started off by showing dominance, clearing the ring, and then taking a page out of one of her distant relatives, Rikishi’s playbook with the second rope splash. Bayley, Charlotte and Sasha all joined forces to try and take Nia out of the equation with a power bomb reminiscent of The Shield. This eliminated Nia Jax. Banks hit a tope conhilo and took out Bayley. Charlotte followed it up with a spinning corkscrew moonsault. Sasha tried to roll up Charlotte for the pin, but Charlotte booted her into the turnbuckle and picked up the quick pin, eliminating Sasha. Charlotte missed a second attempt at a moonsault. Bayley got caught with the figure four leg lock, but made it to the bottom rope to force the break. Charlotte hooked Bayley into a tree of woe, but Bayley fought her way out and drilled Charlotte with a top rope Macho Man-esque elbow. Though Bayley retains the championship, the win has nowhere near the energy it would have if she won the belt for the first time here at Mania. WINNER: BAYLEY
ENZO AMORE & BIG CASS vs. SHEAMUS & CESARO vs. THE CLUB vs. HARDY BOYZ (Raw Tag Team Championship Ladder Match): The surprise of the Hardys (who likely will not go by Broken Matt and Brother Nero) caused the entire stadium to erupt. The Hardys unleashed all of their classic moves on all three teams, hitting Gallows & Anderson with Poetry in Motion, while then hitting Sheamus & Cesaro with Whisper in the Wind. Sheamus then did a rolling Senton with Anderson into Gallows. Big Cass then hit the Hardys with big boots. There were so many moves all over the place that it was difficult to keep up. Cesaro hit Gallows with an awesome Swiss-1-9. Jeff did an amazing Swanton Bomb off of a twenty foot ladder to Cesaro and Sheamus, who were on two ladders. Matt climbed the ladder and won the tag team championship, getting a huge pop from the crowd…along with the loudest “DELETE” chant ever. WINNERS: HARDY BOYZ
THE MIZ & MARYSE vs. JOHN CENA & NIKKI BELLA: Over the past three weeks, this match went from “couldn’t care less” to “best buildup at Wrestlemania of nearly any match”. Nikki started off against Maryse. Before they could lock up, Maryse tagged in her husband, who then had to face off against Cena. Miz was surprisingly cheered by nearly half of the crowd. Miz avoided Cena for the first few minutes of the match until Cena chased him down. Cena got a boot to the back for his trouble. Miz kept up the offense with his trademark corner clothesline and top rope double axe handle. He went for that clothesline again, but Cena evaded it. Before Cena could make the tag to Nikki, Maryse yanked her off of the apron, causing her to crash to the mat. Nikki went for a tope suicida, but instead of hitting Maryse, she nailed Miz. Cena and Nikki hit stereo Five Knuckle Shuffles and then both did Attitude Adjustments, picking up the win. Then came the event that everyone saw coming from a mile away, John proposed to Nikki, pulling out the largest diamond ring I think I’ve ever seen in real life and not a cartoon. WINNERS: JOHN CENA & NIKKI BELLA
SETH ROLLINS vs. TRIPLE H: Rollins went right after The Game with a ferocity not seen from him in quite a long time. He dropkicked HHH out of the ring and the two men’s brawl spilled over the security barrier and into the crowd. Every time HHH went after the surgically repaired knee, Rollins cut him off with an enziguri or a dropkick. Rollins went for a Pedigree on the announcer’s table, but Hunter countered and spiked Rollins with a DDT. The table not collapsing made the impact much worse. HHH grabbed a steel chair and went to work on Rollins’ bad knee. Chop blocks and knee bars soon followed. The Cerebral Assassin took the next five minutes to work over that knee. Rollins’ cut him off with a Flatliner to the second turnbuckle. Rollins attempted a top rope sunset flip power bomb, however, is knee gave out on him. Both men attempted and countered the Pedigree. Rollins launched HHH into the corner with his buckle bomb. Both men got steel chairs and unleashed hell on each other. Hunter went back to the knee. He folded the chair around Seth’s leg and stomped on the chair over and over. A table was set up for Rollins, however an incidental bump into HHH caused Stephanie McMahon to teeter off of the apron and crash through the table. While Hunter was distracted by this, Rollins nailed him with the Pedigree and slayed the king of kings. WINNER: SETH ROLLINS
RANDY ORTON vs. BRAY WYATT (WWE Championship): Wyatt was a bit too aggressive at the outset and immediately ate a powerslam and nearly caught an RKO before he exited the ring. He regained his composure and while Orton was alone in the ring, the lights went out and a projection of maggots appeared on the ring mat, making Orton freak out. Right when Orton was about to gain the advantage, the lights went out again, this time a projection of centipedes appeared. The distraction allowed Wyatt to hit Orton with a urinagi and then a senton. As the fight spilled to the outside, Wyatt hit him with Sister Abigail, launching Orton into the security barrier. Randy had to gather his bearings, but Wyatt once again was too aggressive and Orton nailed him with an RKO. The time it took him to drag Wyatt into the ring contributed to Bray kicking out of the pin attempt. Randy went for a punt to Bray’s head, but Bray dodged it. Wyatt hit Orton with Sister Abigail yet again, but Orton kicked out of the pin. The lights went out again and a projection of cockroaches appeared in the ring. Before Bray could take advantage, Orton nailed Wyatt with the RKO, winning the championship, much to the chagrin of a good portion of the WWE universe. WINNER: RANDY ORTON
BROCK LESNAR vs. GOLDBERG (Universal Championship): This was yet another match that I had misgivings about. Anyone old enough to remember WrestleMania XX from 13 years ago remembers how badly that match stunk up the joint. Their clash this past Survivor Series being wrapped up in under two minutes gave me no comfort as it proved that Goldberg still cannot work a normal non-squash wrestling match. The match opened up with Brock nailing Goldberg with three vicious German suplexes. Goldberg got right up and speared Lesnar. Brock escaped the ring; however Goldberg stalked his prey and speared the Beast through the security barrier. He dragged Lesnar back into the ring. Goldberg went for the Jackhammer, but Lesnar countered and went for an F-5. Goldberg escaped and speared Lesnar yet again. He Jackhammered Brock, but Lesnar kicked out at two. Goldberg went for a fourth spear and Brock leapfrogged out of the way and Goldberg hit the turnbuckle hard. Lesnar continued to spam the German suplex, sending the champ reeling. Brock hoisted Goldberg up for the F-5, this time connecting with it. Lesnar finally conquered his rival, winning championship gold in the process. WINNER: BROCK LESNAR
NAOMI vs. NATALYA vs. CARMELLA vs. MICKIE JAMES vs. BECKY LYNCH vs. ALEXA BLISS (SmackDown Women’s Championship Six Pack Challenge): Matches like these don’t leave a lot of room for any ring psychology and turn into spot fests and this was no different. Naomi and Natalya were Irish whipped towards each other and Naomi did a hurricanrana to her. Becky Lynch kicked Mickie off of the apron. James Ellsworth distracted the referee, allowing Carmella to hit a top rope hurricanrana on Becky. Bliss laid out Carmella, and then hit Natalya with a DDT. Ellsworth went for his super kick, but Becky caught him with an exploder suplex. Natalya locked in a double sharpshooter to Naomi and Carmella before eating a super kick by Mickie. In the end, Naomi made Bliss tap out and once again she became women’s champion: WINNER: NAOMI
ROMAN REIGNS vs. UNDERTAKER: This match being slotted for the main event worried me as it pretty much let me know who was going to walk away the winner. Taker started by wailing on the big dawg with thunderous punches. Reigns tried to mount the comeback, but the Phenom sent him careening into the ring stairs. Reigns came back with several body blows. He then nailed Taker with the Drive By dropkick into the turnbuckle post. Reigns went for it again, but Taker popped him right in the jaw with a right jab. Undertaker chokeslammed Reigns onto one of the announcers’ tables. He signaled for the Tombstone piledriver, but Reigns came from out of nowhere with a spear, sending the Deadman through one of the tables. Reigns went for punches in the corner, but Taker countered with the Last Ride power bomb. Taker followed up with several chair shots to the back of Reigns. Reigns delivered two Superman punches, but his attempt at a third one was stopped by the Deadman and Reigns ate a chokeslam onto a steel chair for his efforts. Undertaker delivered his finisher, the Tombstone piledriver, but Roman Reigns kicked out at two. Taker went for the Tombstone again and Reigns reversed it. He botched the attempt at hitting the Deadman with his own finisher. Reigns hit him with a Spear, but as he went for the pin, Undertaker locked in his submission, Hell’s Gate. Reigns reached the bottom rope to force the break. Reigns unleashed chair shot after chair shot, but the Undertaker would not stay down. Roman built up momentum from hitting the ropes and delivered a spear that decimated the Undertaker, allowing Reigns to be only the second man to defeat the Undertaker at Wrestlemania. WINNER: ROMAN REIGNS
There were a few solid matches at this year’s Wrestlemania. The finishes were not a screwy as last year’s, but several competitors deserved their Wrestlemania moment and it was deflated because of winning belts earlier on in the year (Bayley, Naomi) or heels going over (Neville) or people not needing the big moment getting it (Orton).
Did you enjoy Wrestlemania? Did you loathe it? Please leave comments either way and let us know what you thought of Wrestlemania XXXIII.