It’s the biggest night of the year for fans of World Wrestling Entertainment: WrestleMania 33. They are calling it the “Ultimate Thrill Ride” in the build up to it. I’m calling it a very long night of wrestling…err…sports entertainment.
WWE WrestleMania 33
Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida
April 2, 2017
There were two Kickoff Show matches. I wasn’t on my laptop writing when they started because I was eating dinner. I’m not going to fill in the details for them, but I do have thoughts and star ratings.
Cruiserweight Championship: Neville vs. Austin Aries
Neville was in control for much of it. Aries came close to winning a few times. Neville won the match to keep his title thanks to his Red Arrow splash. It was a competitive match that went about 15 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Neville
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good choice to open the show as the crowd was still filing in. I liked that Neville got the win and had to resort to using the Red Arrow to get the win. It was similar to when he beat Jack Gallagher at Fastlane last month and he did it again here. I expected a Neville win. Keep the title on him for a few more months at least because he’s doing a great job.
The battle royal started at around 6pmET.
Andre the Giant Battle Royal
There was a big moment early in the battle royal when Big Show was eliminated by Braun Strowman and then a bunch of guys teamed up to eliminate Strowman. I thought Strowman would win, but I got that wrong. I joined the match as it was going on. Killian Dain from NXT eliminated Sami Zayn, which the crowd didn’t like. Jinder Mahal grabbed a cup from Rob Gronkowski, who is a star NFL player that’s a friend of Rawley. Gronkowski went into the ring and nailed Mahal with a running shoulder tackle. Rawley dumped Dain out. Rawley eliminated Mahal and Rawley won the battle royal. It went 14 minutes.
Winner: Mojo Rawley
Analysis: *1/2 That was pretty boring. Basically, they just did it to get a lot of press from sports outlets like ESPN because of the Gronkowski involvement. I’m not a fan of Mojo Rawley. I know he works hard, but he’s very basic. They should have used this opportunity to elevate somebody like Strowman or Zayn. Instead, it’s a low midcard guy like Rawley. This was the worst Andre Battle Royal out of the four years they’ve done it.
The Kickoff Panel of Renee Young, Booker T, Jerry Lawler and Shawn Michaels talked about matches coming up.
The “Social Media Lounge” segment aired and it was hosted by Charly Caruso and Maria Menounos. Paul Heyman was the guest there to promote the Lesnar/Goldberg match.
The Intercontinental Title match is up next. They got bumped down to the Kickoff Show. Poor guys.
Analysis: I feel bad for both guys getting bumped to the Kickoff Show. They should have moved f’n Pitbull to the Kickoff Show instead. Ambrose is a former World Champion that has wrestled more live events than anybody in the last four years, yet now he’s on the Kickoff Show? I doubt he was happy about that decision.
The Smackdown announce team of Tom Phillips, John Bradshaw Layfield and David Otunga were calling this match.
Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin
It’s the battle of the guys wrestling in black tank tops. Corbin was in control early as Ambrose went rib first into the steel ring post. Corbin worked him over with a shoulder tackle. Corbin took him down with a STO-like move for a two count. The action spilled to the floor with Corbin sending Ambrose into the barricade. Chinlock City time for Corbin. Ambrose started a comeback, but it didn’t last long as Corbin got his knees up. The crowd was pretty quiet for this. Ambrose finally got some momentum as he sent Corbin to the floor by avoiding a charge. When Ambrose went for an attack over the top rope, Corbin punched him to knock him down. Corbin charged at him, Ambrose moved and Corbin hit the steel steps. Ambrose jumped off the top rope with a flying elbow smash on Corbin on the floor. Back in the ring, Ambrose hit a neckbreaker for two. Corbin came back with a boot to the face and the Deep Six slam for two. Ambrose came back with his rebound clothesline. Corbin got a rollup for a two count. When Corbin teased his finish, Ambrose slipped out and hit Dirty Deeds for the win after 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Dean Ambrose
Analysis: **1/2 It was a solid match. Nothing special. The crowd didn’t get into it that much. Corbin was on offense for about 80% of the match. Ambrose didn’t need to do much to get the win. I was surprised by the finish because I figured Corbin was going to get that title on his way up the ladder. Instead, they’re keeping it on Dean for now. It’s possible Corbin may still get that push up the ladder without the IC Title on his resume. That’s happened before. Corbin still has a bright future.
A commercial aired for WWE Network. It’s a new one.
The Kickoff Panel talked about some other things.
A video package aired for Reigns/Undertaker.
That’s it for the Kickoff Show.
WrestleMania Main Pay-Per-View Event
There was a live shot of the sold out crowd in Orlando. Recording artist Tinashe sang America the Beautiful. I don’t know much about her, but she looks great and sounds even better. Good job by her.
There was an opening video package that showed some clips of WrestleMania’s past while focusing on the “Ultimate Thrill Ride” theme of course. The video package didn’t show highlights of feuds. Just different audio and video of the wrestlers.
The New Day Welcomes Us To WrestleMania
The New Day trio made their entrance as the hosts of the show. The set and staging area looks awesome. One of the best sets they have ever had at a WrestleMania. Kofi Kingston drove the ice cream cart while Big E and Xavier Woods walked beside him.
The Raw trio of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show. The Spanish announcers are there. They said: “These assholes better not break our table.” German announcers are already there. Sorry, I can’t translate that.
The New Day trio had some Final Fantasy theme to their outfits. That’s what Cole said and I’ll trust him because I don’t know about Final Fantasy.
Woods: “WrestleMania!” The crowd did the “WHO?” thing right away. They hyped up the show talking about how there will be joy, drama and excitement. Big E said they’re the hosts, so they need to pull their levers…and then said pull the lever. They love making dick jokes. They did some dancing as the crowd chanted “New Day Rocks” with them.
Analysis: That was boring and didn’t have much to it. I like them, but their act was much better when they were heels.
A commercial aired for WWE Champions.
The Smackdown announce team of Tom Phillips, David Otunga and John Bradshaw Layfield welcomes us to the show. Still no Mauro Ranallo, who has been out for a few weeks. I miss him. Much better than Phillips.
The video package aired for AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon.
Shane McMahon entered first. He was wearing a “Shane O Mac” baseball shirt while his wife and three sons were shown at ringside.
AJ Styles received a big ovation. The crowd chanted “AJ Styles” when the announcer said his name. They are supportive of Styles even though he’s supposed to be a heel.
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
Styles said that he would embarrass Shane. After Shane tried to wrestle with him, Styles did a snapmare to take him down. Shane came back with a takedown by the waist followed by a pin attempt leading to Styles rolling out to the floor. When they went back in the ring, Styles nailed a punch to the face. Shane came back with some good lucking punches that were better than his usual punches. Shane hit a back elbow. Styles grabbed him by the shirt and dumped him out of the ring. Styles hit a dropkick that sent Shane over the announce table onto the chairs from the announcers. They went back in the ring with Styles still in control with punches and kicks. Styles hit a corner splash for a two count. They exchanged strikes. Styles went for a springboard attack, but Shane tripped him up and Styles crashed to the mat. Shane came back with punches followed by a jumping back elbow. Overhead suplex by Shane followed by an Olympic Slam for a two count. Styles came back with a kick to the back of the leg and the Ushigoroshi (fireman’s carry into a knee strike to the back). Shane drove him back into the corner. Styles rolled him over and applied the Calf Crusher submission in the middle of the ring. Shane broke free and applied a choke hold. Armbar applied by Shane. Styles fought out of that, so Shane applied another submission on the arms. They did a running clothesline collision spot to send them both down at the ten-minute mark.
Styles used the ropes to knock down Shane. Styles went for a Springboard 450 Splash, but Shane caught him with a choke hold around the head using his legs. It’s like a triangle choke move. Styles fought out of it and hit a Styles Clash, but Shane kicked out at two. I was surprised by that. They got back to their feet and exchanged blows. Styles went for a kick, Shane moved and Styles foot hit ref Mike Chioda to knock him down. Styles hit a Pele Kick on Shane. With the ref down, Styles grabbed a trash can from under the ring. Styles put the trash can against Shane’s head. He teased a Coast to Coast that Shane usually does, but Shane hit him in the face with the trash can. Doctors at ringside checked on the ref while all of this was going on. Shane put the trash can against the face of Styles in the corner. Shane went up top and hit the Coast to Coast dropkick on the trash can that was against Styles’ head. The ref woke up, so Shane covered and got a two count. Shane cleared off the Smackdown announce table while the ref was still getting looked at by doctors. Shane put Styles on the announce table. Shane went up top, he jumped off, Styles moved and Shane went crashing through the table. The ref woke up, counted them out and Styles rolled Shane back in the ring. Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm, Shane avoided it and hit a DDT. Shane went up top, went for a Shooting Star Press and Styles moved. Fans chanting “Holy Shit” for that. Styles is shocked that Shane tried that. Styles hit his springboard Phenomenal Forearm leading to the pinfall and victory after 20 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles
Post match, AJ celebrated the victory while Shane was out on the mat.
Analysis: ***3/4 That was a damn good match. If they went five minutes shorter it would have been better because there were some slow moments. No surprise that it was good since Styles is involved and he’s always going to deliver when he gets that much time. They announced it as a regular match, but managed to set up the big spots with the ref bump. The trash can spot used for the Coast to Coast was predictable. I like that AJ avoided the elbow drop on the table. They followed that with Shane going for another big move with the Shooting Star Press and missing with it. Kudos to him for even trying that. Styles got the win after that, which is how it should have ended. Once again, Shane proves he’s capable of good matches. As for Styles, he’s such an awesome performer and proved it again with a near four star match. That’s the first WrestleMania win in the career of Styles.
Kevin Owens made his entrance. There was a shot of “Youtube sensation” Lilly Singh. No idea who she is. I remember when WWE used to get actual celebrities.
The video package aired for the Owens/Jericho feud. It’s weird to do it after one of the guys entered the ring, but that’s what happened.
The United States Champion Chris Jericho made his entrance. He’s got a light up scarf, which is a look only a guy like Jericho can pull off.
United States Championship: Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens
Owens is wrestling in his KO-Mania 2 shirt. Slugfest early. Jericho applied the Walls of Jericho early in the match as Owens got to the floor and rolled to the floor. Jericho up top with a cross body block on Owens outside the ring. Back in the ring, Jericho with a forearm to the face as the crowd chanted “stupid idiot” for him. Owens came back with a superkick. Owens hit the cannonball in the corner. Owens talked trash as he kicked Jericho in the back and took Jericho to Chinlock City. A kick to the chest followed by a running senton splash by Owens earned a two count. Jericho came back with a dropkick. Owens was on the floor, Jericho went out there and hit a back body drop the floor followed by two shoulder tackles. Back elbow by Jericho off the top rope. They went back into the ring with Owens hitting a package pickup into a slam for two. Jericho came back with a hurricanrana off the top rope for a two count. Jericho with a running bulldog, but the Lionsault didn’t work as Owens moved and Owens hit him with a kick to the face for two. Jericho up top with a Frog Splash, but Jericho got his knees up to counter. Jericho with a Lionsault that Owens countered by getting his knees up. Owens up top for a Swanton Bomb and Jericho got his knees up. Ten minutes into the match as both guys were down.
They got back to their feet, Owens swung him around in his arms and hit a side slam that was like the White Noise that Sheamus uses. That was good for a two count. Jericho avoided the Popup Powerbomb and hit a Lionsault for two because that’s not a move he wins matches with. Fans chanted “Y2J” in support of Jericho. Owens countered a Jericho attack and applied the Walls of Jericho. Jericho teased tapping, but he got out of it. Owens with a kick to the chest. Owens hit the cannonball in the corner only for Jericho to counter it and he applied the Walls of Jericho. Owens teased tapping out, but he was close to the ropes and grabbed the bottom rope to break the hold. Owens avoided an attack and hit the Popup Powerbomb for a two count. Jericho trash talked Owens some more followed by slaps to the face. Jericho countered another Popup Powerbomb attempt into a Codebreaker and Owens got one finger on the bottom rope. Nice! The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Owens to the floor, he kicked the ropes while Jericho was on the apron and Owens hit a Powerbomb against the side of the ring apron. Owens rolled him back in for the pinfall win after 16 minutes.
Winner and New United States Champion: Kevin Owens
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a physical match with both guys hitting a lot of counters of their familiar moves, which was expected considering how well they know eachother. I liked the ending a lot because Jericho kicked out of the first Powerbomb, so Owens had to do something more to finish him off. The dreaded Apron Powerbomb has injured people in storyline and fans know it as a big move, so that’s a good way to finish a match. Owens winning was no surprise. Jericho’s going to leave to focus on his Fozzy music soon, so Owens getting the title makes sense.
There was a commercial for Payback on April 30 with Brock Lesnar featured in it, so he’s probably working that show.
The video package aired for the Raw Women’s Title match.
Bayley, the Raw Women’s Champion, made her entrance first. The entrance looked awesome lit up in her colors. Big moment for her. The camera focused on fans in the front with the “Hugger Section” signs because WWE hands them to people at ringside.
Nia Jax was up next. She’s not like most girls…that’s all I got. It’s from her song.
Sasha Banks was driven to the ring. They make the bigger people walk, but the smallest girl gets a ride down to the ring. A bit of tribute to her idol Eddie Guerrero.
Charlotte Flair had a special robe made for the match. It was green and blue like a peacock. Cole said that she’s wearing a peacock outfit because the Flair family has come full circle.
Raw Women’s Championship Elimination Match: Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks
Jax dominated early on with a Yokozuna like Banzai Drop on Bayley. With Banks and Bayley on the floor, Jax tossed Charlotte off the apron onto Banks and Bayley to knock them all down. The three women worked together to attack Jax. Double suplex by Bayley and Banks on Jax with Charlotte hitting a boot for an assist. Rough landing for Jax on her head. That got a two count for Charlotte. Jax came back with more offense. Charlotte went for a Powerbomb, so Bayley and Banks assisted. It was a triple Powerbomb that led to all three of them pinning Jax and eliminating her.
Nia Jax eliminated by three women
There was a spot where Banks went for an attack outside the ring and she hit Bayley instead of Charlotte. That led to Charlotte going to the top rope and hitting a corkscrew moonsault onto the two women on the floor. She nailed it perfectly. Back in the ring, Banks came back with a Bank Statement, but Charlotte got out of it. Charlotte with a backbreaker for two. Banks came back with a flying headscissors and double knees in the corner. Banks up top and she hit a double knee attack on Charlotte for a two count. Banks applied the Bank Statement submission, Charlotte rolled out and Charlotte kicked Banks into a turnbuckle that was slightly exposed. That was eight minutes into the match.
Sasha Banks eliminated by Charlotte
Charlotte went up top with a moonsault in the ring, but Bayley moved and Bayley covered for a two count. Charlotte applied the Figure Four Leglock on Bayley. Charlotte couldn’t lock in the Figure Eight because Bayley got to the bottom rope. Charlotte drove her knee into the leg of Bayley to continue the attack. They battled on the top rope with Bayley hitting a back body drop off the top rope. Bayley came back with a Macho Man elbow off the top for the win after 12 minutes. I thought Charlotte would kick out, but she didn’t.
Charlotte eliminated by Bayley
Winner by pinfall: Bayley
Bayley celebrated with the title with the announcers saying she proved herself.
Analysis: **3/4 The match was okay. I kept waiting for them to crank it up to that next gear, but it didn’t get going. Charlotte’s corkscrew moonsault was the highlight of the match. The elimination of Jax was the best part of the match. I thought the eliminations of Banks and Bayley were both underwhelming. The booking of this title has been off for a few months because Bayley should have won the Women’s Title at this show instead of on the Raw in February. It would have meant a lot more if her title win was at WrestleMania instead of on Raw. I expected Bayley to get the win to legitimize her title reign.
A video package aired about the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. I wrote a review of it on Friday. Long night that was nearly four hours, but some fun moments especially Kurt Angle’s singing.
The 2017 WWE Hall of Famers appeared on stage to soak up the cheers from the crowd: Diamond Dallas Page, Rock N Roll Express (Ricky Morton & Robert Gibson), the family of Rick Rude, Teddy Long, Warrior Award recipient Eric LeGrand, Beth Phoenix and here’s Kurt Angle! Yes. Angle’s music played as the fans chanted “You Suck” at him because that’s what we did during his WWE career when he was a heel.
Analysis: It’s great to see all of them there, but especially Angle. A year from now I hope he’s in a match at WrestleMania.
Titles were hanging above the ring.
Enzo & Cass made their entrance. The crowd chanted along with their usual pre-match promo and it sounded louder than ever with such a huge crowd. Cass ended it with the “SAWFT” bit.
Sheamus and Cesaro got some pyro for their entrance. They even had matching suits and kilts. Sheamus has a scar above his right eye that required 16 stitches to close it last week.
The Raw Tag Team Champions Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson were the last time to arrive for the match. They won the titles at the Royal Rumble two months ago.
The New Day trio of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods showed up on the ramp. Big E said that they have just received word that this Ladder Match has now become a Fatal Fourway. Woods said there is one more team involved in this match.
The music of Jeff Hardy hit and he walked out with brother Matt while the crowd went wild for them! Awesome moment!
What a massive ovation for Matt & Jeff Hardy. Biggest pop of the night. Lots of “DELETE” chants for theme since the fans know of their gimmick from Impact Wrestling. What a huge ovation for them. Loudest of the night so far by far.
— WWE (@WWE) April 3, 2017
Analysis: Hardys were expected to come back to WWE. I didn’t know if it was going to be tonight or on TV this week, but there it is. Awesome moment. Jeff was last in WWE in 2009 and Matt was gone in 2010. I assume the deals became official before last week’s Raw, which is why they changed it to a Ladder Match.
Raw Tag Team Titles Ladder Match: Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson vs. Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Enzo Amore & Big Cass vs. Jeff & Matt Hardy
The Hardy Boys dominated early on. They did all of their signature tag team spots to clean house. They grabbed ladders to try to get the titles, but Gallows & Anderson stopped them. Gallows & Anderson knocked them down with ladders. I missed a few minutes because I was busy writing and tweeting about this Hardys return. Enzo and Cass were able to get control a bit with the ladders. A bridge was set up using ladders from the side of the ring to the barricade. Cass tossed Enzo onto Gallows on the floor. Cesaro with an uppercut on Enzo on the floor. Cesaro did a Swing on Anderson while Sheamus did the forearms to Gallows at the same time. They went longer than normal as the crowd gave them a big ovation. Sheamus with a Powerslam on Anderson and Cesaro hit a 619 on Gallows. There was a big spot where Sheamus hit a Brogue Kick on Jeff that led to Jeff landing on all the guys on the floor. Sheamus went for a climb, but that was unsuccessful. Enzo climbed a ladder while Graves said this could be the best day of his career and the worst. Cass helped Enzo go up, but Gallows and Sheamus sent Cass back first into a ladder. Cass was knocked out of the ring while Gallows sent Sheamus out of the ring. Anderson went up the ladders to fight Enzo. Cesaro nailed Enzo with an uppercut to knock him down. Gallows saved Anderson and kicked Sheamus in the head. Magic Killer by G&A to Sheamus. Matt hit the Twist of Fate on Gallows. Anderson dumped Matt out of the ring, but Matt fought him on the ladders. Matt hit a Twist of Fate on Anderson. Jeff Hardy climbed a huge ladder and jumped off with a Swanton Bomb onto Cesaro to drive him through the ladders. Matt climbed the ladder and grabbed the Raw Tag Team Titles to become 7-time WWE Tag Team Champions. It went about 13 minutes.
Winners: Jeff & Matt Hardy
The crowd was going crazy as Matt grabbed the titles. Post match, Matt & Jeff posed on the turnbuckles as the pyro went off above the stadium. Cole did a good job of talking about this as a big moment. The crowd really came alive for the Hardys.
Analysis: ***1/2 That was awesome as a moment. A better moment than a match is I guess the proper way of saying it. I thought it was possible, but I didn’t know if it was going to happen. One of those “I need to see it to believe it” kind of moments. They had some cool spots in the match, but it wasn’t one of the better ladder matches we’ve seen at a WrestleMania or featuring the Hardys. It accomplished the goal of doing something big at a WrestleMania and giving us a surprise we can talk about for a long time. Matt and Jeff did a great job in Impact Wrestling with the “Broken” gimmick and since Matt was encouraging the crowd with the “Delete” chants I assume they’ll keep that gimmick. Also, that Swanton Bomb by Jeff was pretty crazy. He’s done it before, but it’s still amazing to see a guy jump off a 20 foot ladder. It sucks for Enzo & Cass not getting their big title win, but it’s certainly understandable why WWE would put the Hardys over as a surprise team at WrestleMania. It was the right decision.
Jimmy Fallon, the host of the Tonight Show, was shown at ringside. At least he’s a celebrity I’ve heard of.
The video package aired for John Cena/Nikki Bella vs. The Miz/Maryse. Great promos in this feud made people care about this a lot more than most of us thought.
Jerry Lawler was at ringside to call this match. He replaced David Otunga. Good to see Lawler getting to call a match on the show.
Al Roker from the Today Show was the guest announcer for the match. He called himself “Chocolate Thunder.”
The Miz and Maryse made their entrance. The international announce teams were shown elsewhere in the arena.
Nikki Bella was introduced first for her team. The reaction for John Cena featured some boos as usual, but a lot of cheers. The majority of the crowd sang “John Cena Sucks” of course. Cena ran down the long ramp.
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse
The rules for a mixed tag is men vs. women.
Maryse tagged out instead of facing Nikki. Miz stalled by going on the floor, so Cena chased him. Miz was in control with a corner clothesline followed by a double axehandle off the top for two. The fans were chanting for Miz doing a “Miz is Awesome” chant as Miz hit a running kick to the head of Cena two times. Miz missed a corner clothesline after Cena moved. When Cena went for a tag, Maryse grabbed Maryse by the foot and pulled her off the apron. Good heel move. Miz hit his backbreaker/neckbreaker combo for a two count. Cena wanted the AA, but Miz slipped out and hit a DDT for a two count. Miz did his Daniel Bryan tribute sequence with the kicks to the chest with the crowd chanting “yes” for it. Miz did the “you can’t see me” hand gesture to Nikki, so she slapped him and Cena gave Miz a back drop over the top to the floor.
Nikki got the tag from Cena and Nikki hit a Spear on Maryse. Miz pulled Maryse out of the ring. Nikki hit a suicide dive to take out Miz on the floor. Back in the ring, Nikki hit Maryse with a huge forearm to the face. Cena hit the side suplex to Miz. Cena and Nikki hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle together. Both heels to their feet. Cena hit AA and Nikki hit Rack Attack 2.0 as they got the win. It went 10 minutes.
Winners by pinfall: John Cena & Nikki Bella
Analysis: ** A simple match to put over the faces. It was what I expected it to be with Nikki dominating Maryse, who isn’t a full time wrestler anymore.
After the match was over, Cena had the microphone. Cena talked about how a year ago she broke her neck and did everything she could to make it back for a WrestleMania moment. Cena said he told her something when she was knocked loopy before her surgery and he promised to tell her when the time was right. Cena said at that moment, he asked if she could hear him and he said that one day he was going to marry her. Cena pulled out a box from his shorts pocket, the women in the crowd screamed and he asked if she would marry him. She said yes, they kissed and hugged in celebration of their moment. Cena’s music played. They hugged their families at ringside.
Analysis: The main reason why they did this match was to do the marriage proposal. That’s what I assumed for months anyway. Good for them for doing it on the big stage to get a lot of press and attention. Congrats to both of them, especially you Nikki Bella. Always marry rich – just ask Triple H. I’m kidding…maybe. Get her to sign a prenup, John. Just saying.
The video package aired for Triple H vs. Rollins.
Triple H made his entrance driving a motorcycle of sorts with a police escort. His wife Stephanie McMahon went along for the ride on the back seat. It was noted that it was Triple H’s 21st WrestleMania match.
The only one he missed since his WWE debut was 2007 at WM23 due to the torn quad injury.
Seth Rollins was wearing a gold and black outfit. He held up a torch. When he put it against the ramp, the arena lit up with flame colored light.
Unsanctioned Match: Seth Rollins vs. Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon)
Rollins has a brace on his right knee. Rollins nailed Hunter with punches followed by a dropkick. Hunter pulled him to the floor and Rollins kicked him into the ring post. They battled on the floor with Hunter doing a leg whip and Rollins came back with a clothesline over the barricade. They brawled into the crowd for a bit. Back to the ring, Rollins hit an enziguri kick. Rollins hit a suicide dive onto Hunter on the floor. Rollins did it for a second time. Rollins sent Hunter’s head into the German announce table and cleared off the table. Rollins teased a Pedigree on the table. Hunter punched the knee and hit a DDT on the announce table, which didn’t break. Hunter hit Rollins in the injured knee with a steel chair. Hunter hit him with the chair again. Great selling by Rollins. Hunter jumped onto the back of the injured right knee of Rollins. They went back in the ring with Hunter working on the ring more. Hunter kicked at the knee of Rollins while it was up against the ropes. Rollins sent Hunter face first into the middle turnbuckle to create some space. They battled on the turnbuckle with Rollins going for a sunset flip out of the corner, but he collapsed. Graves noted that is the move where Rollins originally hurt the move in Europe. Rollins tried picking him up again and he collapsed. Rollins escaped a Pedigree attempt, went for one of his own and Rollins hit a Buckle Bomb. That’s the first time Rollins has used that move in a long time.
Rollins whipped Hunter into the corner leading to Hunter doing his usual corner bump over the top rope to the floor. Rollins went up top and hit a cross body block off the top rope. Rollins sent Hunter into the ring post two times in a row. Rollins brought two chairs into the ring and he set up a table on the floor. Back in the ring, Rollins hit a Frog Splash to the back of Triple H for a two count. The crowd isn’t into the match that much. Hunter was able to regain control and trapped the leg of Rollins between a chair. Hunter attacked using the chair as a weapon while Stephanie encouraged him to do it again. Hunter went to the top rope, he teased a jump off there and Rollins whipped the chair at him. Rollins with a superplex followed by the Falcon Arrow suplex into a slam for two. When Rollins went to the top rope, Stephanie tripped him up and Rollins bad right leg hit the top rope on the way down. Hunter applied a submission hold on the leg. The crowd wasn’t into it that much as Rollins was trying to fight. When Rollins broke free, Hunter stomped away. Hunter hit Rollins in the right knee with a chair again. Another leg lock submission by Hunter on the floor. Rollins grabbed weapons on the floor including a sledgehammer. Hunter grabbed the sledgehammer, which drew a reaction from the crowd because Hunter has used it many times in the past. The match was around 20 minutes at this point.
They went back into the ring and exchanged punches. Rollins with a kick to the jaw, but Hunter nailed a clothesline leading to a flip bump by Rollins. Great sell. Triple H went to attack with the sledgehammer, but Rollins nailed a jumping kick to the head. Rollins had the sledgehammer, but Stephanie grabbed it from him. Hunter hit a Pedigree and Rollins got his shoulder up before the three count. Nice nearfall there. Rollins with a backdrop out of the corner followed by a Phoenix Splash by Rollins for a two count. That’s an awesome looking move. They each went for the Pedigree a couple of times, but it didn’t work and Hunter punched the knee again. Stephanie got on the apron, grabbed Rollins, Hunter went for an attack, Rollins moved, Rollins shoved Hunter and he hit Stephanie leading to her crashing through the table. Rollins hit a Pedigree for the pinfall win after 26 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Seth Rollins
Post match, Rollins celebrated the win while doctors checked on Stephanie on the floor.
Analysis: ***1/4 Pretty good match, but went long considering the crowd was quiet for a lot of it. The crowd got into at the end of the match due to the table bump from Stephanie. It reminds me of last year when Reigns hit a Spear on her, which drew a good pop. She knows if she plays a role in the finish it will lead to a loud reaction. It was a long match where the young guy got the win as he should have. They did some cool spots using the weapons, but they didn’t use that many of them. I liked the use of the chair to assist in some of the moves. The Phoenix Splash from Rollins was the coolest spot. I think the crowd may have been disinterested at times because they were expecting a run in from Samoa Joe or others and it didn’t happen. Rollins using the Pedigree to win was the right move to end it with since that’s their obvious connection to eachother.
Pitbull and friends did some singing on the stage. Thanks to them because I needed a bathroom break.
The video package aired for the WWE Title match between champion Bray Wyatt and challenger Randy Orton.
The WWE Champion Bray Wyatt made his entrance. It’s a cool sight to see the “fireflies” light up the arena. His walk to the ring is pretty slow, so it took a while for him to get there.
Randy Orton made his intro. There was some pyro on the stage for his entrance. He did a slow walk down to the ring as well, but it was a little faster than Wyatt.
Wyatt and Orton stood in the ring as Greg Hamilton did the big in-ring intros. Orton is from St. Louis, but for Wyatt he just says he’s the “Eater of Worlds” instead of saying a city.
WWE Championship: Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
Orton hit a slam early and wanted a RKO, but Wyatt left the ring. Back in the ring, Wyatt hit a running headbutt. They did a spot where Wyatt did his upside down pose and the camera above the ring showed a graphic of tapeworms or something that were pictured in the ring. That was…weird. Wyatt with a clothesline. Wyatt hit a DDT on the side of the ring apron. Wyatt did his upside down pose in the corner again and it went to the camera from above again showing graphics of worms. Wyatt with a senton. Orton got a rollup, but Wyatt came back with a clothesline. Wyatt charged at him on the floor and Orton hit a dropkick. Wyatt came back with a Sister Abigail like move into the barricade outside the ring. Wyatt charged at Orton on the floor, Orton moved and Orton hit a RKO on the floor. Nice spot. Back in the ring, Orton got a two count. They each countered moves and Orton hit his modified backbreaker. Orton hit a draping DDT off the ropes. When Orton went for a RKO again, Wyatt avoided it and hit Sister Abigail for the two count at the ten minute mark. Wyatt did his pose again as the camera was shown from above and there were beetles or something like that. Wyatt punched him, Orton shoved him off and hit a RKO for the win at 11 minutes.
Winner by pinfall and New WWE Champion: Randy Orton
The win means that Orton is a 13-time World Champion in his WWE career. Orton posed with the WWE Title.
Analysis: *3/4 Below average match especially for a WWE Title match at WrestleMania. It was a quicker match than I thought and an outcome I didn’t expect. Wyatt won the title at Elimination Chamber in early February, defended it once on Smackdown and lost this match easily. I don’t really understand the logic behind it. As for the times in the match where they showed insects on a display in a ring, that was pretty silly and stupid. I’m sure WWE thought it was clever, but they shouldn’t do that again. The loss sucks for Wyatt. He finally was booked strong by winning the WWE Title and he had a forgettable run as champion. I’m not a fan of that title change and it has nothing to do with Orton, who I like. I just wanted Bray to have a more meaningful run.
A commercial aired for Total Divas. It looks as terrible as ever except for Maryse in a bikini.
They showed some fighter pilots at ringside that flew the planes above the stadium earlier in the night.
Video package aired for Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar for the Universal Championship. Paul Heyman narrated a video package about both guys.
Brock Lesnar made his entrance along with his advocate Paul Heyman. There was some pyro for him as he made his way into the ring. Good ovation for Lesnar as he usually gets.
Goldberg, the Universal Champion, made his entrance from the backstage area accompanied by security like usual. The “Goldberg” chants were not as loud for his entrance as we are used to hearing in an arena because it’s tougher to hear it in an open air stadium.
Paul Heyman took the microphone from Jojo. Heyman introduced himself and did the introduction for the challenger, Brock Lesnar. He said Lesnar is 295 pounds. Jojo did the introduction for Goldberg.
Universal Championship: Bill Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman)
Lesnar avoided a Goldberg charge and hit two German Suplexes in a row. There’s a third German Suplex. Lesnar yelled, but Goldberg was back to his feet with a Spear. Goldberg hit another Spear. Lesnar went to the floor, so Goldberg charged in with a Spear through the barricade. They went back into the ring. Goldberg teased a Jackhammer, but Lesnar picked him up for a F5. Goldberg shoved him off and hit another Spear. Goldberg went for a Jackhammer and he hit it. Lesnar kicked out at two by getting his shoulder up. Goldberg setup for another Spear and Lesnar jumped over him. That was awesome. Goldberg went crashing into the turnbuckle. Lesnar hit two German Suplexes. There’s another two more for Lesnar – that’s seven German Suplexes. Lesnar hit two more for nine total German Suplexes. Fans chanted “ten” repeatedly and Lesnar hit his tenth German Suplex. Lesnar picked him up and hit the F5. Lesnar covered and got the pinfall win after five minutes.
Winner and New Universal Champion: Brock Lesnar
Post match, Lesnar smiled in the ring with the Universal Championship and Paul Heyman was happy to stand there with him.
Analysis: **1/4 It was a simple match to put over Lesnar as we all expected. Goldberg did the clean job. It took ten German Suplexes to weaken him, but the crowd liked it and was firmly behind Lesnar. I liked the way things changed in the match with Lesnar doing that leapfrog to counter the Spear and from there he took over the match. I’m also glad that Goldberg didn’t kick out of the F5 at the end. It was the right way and the right time to end it. I predicted about 7-10 minutes. I went about two minutes too much with that prediction. I hope that Lesnar’s matches in the future involve more than just those suplexes, but for this match it was fine because it was his power beating Goldberg’s power. I assume that’s the end of Goldberg in WWE as a wrestler, but could be wrong on that. I think he should retired for good. There’s not much more he needs to do and is obviously limited at 50 years old.
The Smackdown Live Women’s Title match was up next. It was announced as a Six Pack Challenge.
The Smackdown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss entered first. Becky Lynch was up next. Mickie James was there wearing a Native American headdress because that’s her heritage. Carmella had her buddy James Ellsworth with him. Natalya was up next. Naomi was up last with her spectacular “Feel The Glow” entrance.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella (w/James Ellsworth) vs. Natalya vs. Naomi
It’s a one fall match rather than an elimination match.
They did some spots early in the ring where women were sent outside. Double suplex by Naomi and Bliss on Natalya on the floor. Ellsworth tried to cheat for Carmella, the ref saw it and just yelled at Ellsworth. Bliss hit a DDT on Natalya for a two count as James made the save. Lynch cleared house with clotheslines, a leg lariat, forearm on Natalya in the corner, Bexploder to Natalya and Carmella. Ellsworth went into the ring, Lynch caught his leg and hit a Bexploder on Ellsworth. James with a seated senton off the top on Lynch as Bliss made the save. Naomi did a sunset flip on Natalya with Natalya doing a German Suplex on Lynch at the same time. Carmella in the ring, so Natalya put Carmella on Naomi and Natalya did a Sharpshooter on both of them at the same time. James with a spin kick on Natalya. Lynch broke that up with a leg drop off the top. James with a great Mickie-DT on Lynch for a two count. Carmella with a kick. Naomi cleaned house with a kick. Naomi hit a dive over the top to take out the other five women on the floor. Back in the ring, Naomi hooked the arms back of Bliss by using her legs to trap the arms as well and Bliss tapped out. Naomi won the title after six minutes of action.
Winner by submission and New Smackdown Women’s Champion: Naomi
Post match, Naomi celebrated with the title.
Analysis: **1/4 They worked at a fast pace and got a lot done in six minutes. Plenty of nearfalls for each woman. Naomi was my pick to win since she had the title before, got hurt, came back and had the support for the crowd especially being from Orlando. They had some fun spots in the match like when Mickie came close to winning a few times and Natalya’s double Sharpshooter. They weren’t given enough time to really do something memorable.
A commercial aired for Raw’s Payback pay-per-view featuring Brock Lesnar and others. It’s on April 30.
A commercial aired for Final Fantasy 14.
The New Day trio of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods appeared on the stage. Kingston said they were there to announce the attendance. Kingston said the attendance is 75,245 people. They said it’s a record. Big E thanked the fans and said “you all rock.” Fireworks went off.
Analysis: Legit number? No idea. Probably not. They usually add to the total every year. It’s what they do as an entertainment company.
The video package aired for Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker.
The greatest announcer of all time, WWE Hall of Famer Jim Ross made his entrance to call the action with Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield.
Analysis: Great to have JR back for one match at least. I hope there are more. He’s the best to ever do it.
Roman Reigns made his entrance first. There were a lot of boos for him. Ring announcer Jojo said the match is No Holds Barred.
The Undertaker made his entrance as he was elevated onto the stage. It was more like the middle of the ramp rather than the top. He made his slow walk down to the ring. It usually takes around four minutes, but I didn’t time it out.
It should be noted that Undertaker’s wife Michelle McCool and his kids are sitting ringside.
No Holds Barred: Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker
The match began at 11:35pmET. Undertaker dumped him out of the ring and told him that it’s his yard. Reigns fought his way back into the ring. Reigns hit a clothesline that sent Undertaker over the top to the floor. Undertaker sent Reigns into the steel steps as the crowd chanted “Roman Sucks.” Back in the ring, Reigns hit a Samoan Drop to take control. They brawled outside the ring with Reigns shoving Undertaker into the ring post followed by a Drive By dropkick by Reigns. They had a slugfest that Undertaker won, so Undertaker did his snake eyes dropping Reigns face first on the turnbuckle, big boot and leg drop combo for a two count. They went outside the ring with Undertaker punching Reigns on the apron. Reigns came back with a dropkick like move on the floor. Undertaker caught Reigns outside the ring and hit a Chokeslam on the German announce table. The table didn’t break. Undertaker cleared off the Spanish announce table. Undertaker teased a move on an announce table, so Reigns got back to his feet and hit a Spear that sent Undertaker through the Spanish announce table.
They went back into the ring with Reigns hitting clotheslines in the corner. Reigns did the punches while standing in the corner leading straight to Undertaker doing the predictable Powerbomb out of the corner. It didn’t look like a good Powerbomb, but it was good enough for a two count. Undertaker grabbed a chair from outside the ring. Undertaker went back in the ring with a boot to the head. Undertaker hit Reigns in the back with a couple of chair shots to the back. Reigns left the ring, Undertaker did, Reigns went back in, Taker did and Reigns hit the Superman Punch two times in a row. Undertaker came back with a Chokeslam onto the chair in the ring. Undertaker set up for a Tombstone and he hit it. Undertaker covered, but Reigns got his shoulder up. The crowd wasn’t happy about that. They did a spot where Reigns was supposed to counter a move into a Tombstone-like move, but he couldn’t get him up twice. They messed that up, so Reigns just hit a Superman Punch. Reigns set up in the corner and hit a Spear. He went for the cover, but Undertaker trapped him in the Hell’s Gate submission as the crowd cheered. It didn’t look good, though. Reigns was able to get out of it by getting to the ropes or they just let go. When Undertaker tried to get a chair, Reigns grabbed the chair. Reigns hit Undertaker in the back three times and jabbed him in the ribs with it. Reigns with more chair shots to the back. When Undertaker got back to his feet, Reigns hit a Spear and Undertaker got his shoulder up. The match is around 20 minutes at this point.
Reigns looked ready in the corner again. Undertaker got back to his feet. Reigns hit another Spear and that was only good for a two count. The fans chanted “yes” after Undertaker kicked out. When Undertaker got back up, Reigns hit another Superman Punch. Undertaker slowly sat back up, but then he fell over. Reigns hit Undertaker with a couple of uppercut punches. Reigns ran the ropes a few more times and hit a Spear for the win after 23 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Roman Reigns
Analysis: ** They tried their best, but it was a struggle at times. There were several spots in the match where it didn’t look good such as the Powerbomb not looking good, the Hell’s Gate wasn’t applied the right way and that reverse Tombstone spot looked bad. They told the story that Reigns had to dig deeper to get the win because Undertaker kept kicking out. There were a few moments where Undertaker got some believable offense in and nearly got the win. It just wasn’t something that the fans bought into. They knew it was going to be a Reigns win and they hated it. I didn’t expect Undertaker to win. I wanted Reigns to go heel, but they didn’t go in that direction at all. Reigns was aggressive as he beat him up. There was no sign of a heel turn. He’s likely going to stay in the same role he’s in now.
The announcers put over the victory as the biggest win of Reigns’ career and JBL said it will be the biggest win Reigns will ever have.
Reigns slowly walked up the ramp after the match as the announcers gave him credit for the victory. Reigns held up his arms as fireworks went off. Reigns walked away.
It was past 12am as the camera focused on Undertaker in the ring. The crowd chanted “Thank You Taker” because they know this might be The Undertaker’s last match ever. Undertaker sat up. Replays aired of the key spots of the match.
The Undertaker put on his jacket and his hat. He staggered around the ring a bit as his music played. Undertaker looked around the arena as the crowd gave him a standing ovation that he deserves. It was a long look around the arena by Undertaker.
The Undertaker took off his gloves and left them in the ring. The fans were still standing and clapping for him. Undertaker took on his black jacket and put it over his gloves in the center of the ring. Undertaker took off his black hat. He put it in the ring as well. Deep sigh from Taker. Undertaker put the hat onto the jacket and gloves in the ring. Undertaker walked over to his wife Michelle (McCool) and kissed her.
Undertaker walked up the ramp for what could be the final time. He stood at the top of the ramp as the stadium was full of purple light and smoke. He stood there with his right arm raised in the air like he has done so many times. Some pyro went off on the stage as the crowd continued to cheer. Undertaker went down under the part of the stage where he was raised earlier in the night.
The Undertaker’s gong music hit one more time, the lights went out and that’s it for WrestleMania at 12:11am.
Analysis: I did my best to describe it. I thought it was really well done and a fitting tribute to The Undertaker after just his second loss at a WrestleMania. That was tough to write about and not feel sad because I’ve watched him wrestle in WWE since he started in 1990. With injuries mounting and him being 52 years old, this is definitely the right time for him to call it a career. He will be missed, that’s for sure, but I think we can all respect him wanting to move on as well.
— WWE (@WWE) April 3, 2017
Ending show with Undertaker’s farewell was right call. Glad he could walk out to a standing ovation like he deserves. Here’s the hashtag that was trending on Twitter: # Damn right. Thank you sir.
Five Stars of the Show
1. The Undertaker – It was likely his last match, so I have to put him here out of respect.
2. Jeff Hardy/Matt Hardy – Welcome back. Best moment of the show was their return.
3. AJ Styles – Impressive as usual.
4. Seth Rollins – Glad he got through it without injury.
5. Brock Lesnar – Great performance.
It gets a 6.5 out of 10 from me.
It was a slightly above average show without a standout match (nothing over four stars out of five from me) and I felt like the show was too damn long. The crowd wasn’t as vocal in the second half. That tends to happen when a show is this long. Keep in mind that a lot of those fans got into the building at around 4pm and it ended at nearly 12am. That’s eight hours in the same spot. It’s hard to have enthusiasm for that long. It’s a main reason why I didn’t go this year because I remember how exhausting it was last year.
There were some cool moments such as when the Hardys showed up as a surprise. There were rumors of it, but it wasn’t a sure thing. I’m glad it happened and the way it was done was brilliant. Like I noted above, I assume WWE added the Ladder stipulation after they got confirmation of The Hardys signing.
It was a very predictable event where the part time older wrestlers in their late 40s and up such as Triple H, Shane McMahon, Goldberg and Undertaker all put over younger guys. Some of them did better than a thought (like Shane) while others such as Goldberg and Undertaker probably wrestled their last matches because they know it’s the right time to walk away.
There was some disappointment in matches like Wyatt/Orton going short at just over ten minutes while the Rollins/Triple H match went too long at almost 30 minutes. Why not even it out more? I realize that Triple H can do what he wants and he’s going to go long, but it hurt the show to have that one go so long and others were much shorter. Both women’s matches were average with the Raw women not doing nearly as well as the ladies last year.
As for The Undertaker, I’m glad he went on last and got to say goodbye in his own unique way like that. The match could have been better, but he did the best he could considering his limitations due to injuries.
WWE PPV Rankings 2017 (Scores on the 1-10 scale)
Royal Rumble – 8
WrestleMania 33 – 6.5
Fastlane – 5
Thanks for reading this 9,000+ word review. I’m exhausted. Go Toronto Raptors, Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Blue Jays.
John Canton – [email protected]