Monday, April 3, 2017

WWE Wrestlemania 33 commentary

Sports-entertainment's biggest day arrived. At this point, with NXT TakeOver and the Hall of Fame, it really is pro wrestling's biggest weekend of festivities. How did it measure up?

The WWE Hall of Fame was okay, but felt a little lackluster. I enjoyed some of the previous speeches more than the ones delivered this year. NXT TakeOver: Orlando was great, however! It was a great show from start to finish.

Now, onto Wrestlemania 33.

Considering it was supposed to be a 4 hour show, it ended up being closer to 5 hours -- and that's not including the pre-show and kick-off. I didn't end up seeing Neville vs. Austin Aries, the Andre the Giant battle royal or the Intercontinental Title match. I read, however, that Neville retained (good choice), that Mojo Rawley won the battle royal (awful choice! poor Braun sure is slipping down the ladder, isn't he?), and that Dean Ambrose retained (again, wrong choice).

As for the main part of the show, it kicked off with The New Day, dressed somewhat similar to the 3 Musketeers, coming down to the ring and cutting a promo.

I respect that these guys turned a silly idea into a great attraction and have stuck with the gimmick for so long, but it's time to do something new with them. Hopefully tomorrow night will be a new chapter for them. I

t's time to freshen them up in a big way, whether that means Xavier Woods competing in the cruiserweight division or Big E breaking out into the U.S. Title scene. Some kind of change is needed.

Surprisingly, outside of this, a brief appearance before the Raw Tag Team Title match and announcing the attendance record, The New Day didn't do anything as hosts.  I figured we'd get a brief Rock appearance and interaction with them.  Something.  Anything to make the hosting gig worthwhile.

But, no, there really wasn't much that happened with them.

Match 1: Shane McMahon vs. A.J. Styles.

This was a surprising opener and a surprisingly good opener.  The entire feud didn't make sense to me (though I admit that I haven't watched Smackdown in weeks).  I'm not sure why WWE feels the need to have Shane McMahon, at 47-years-old, compete in a match.  He was never an official wrestler.  Though, at this point, he has enough matches to fill a DVD set, he's not an active member of the roster.

So where exactly is the logic in having possibly the best wrestler in the world (and WWE's Smackdown Champion as recent as three months ago) compete against a non-wrestler at your Super Bowl of shows?

On the other hand, I was very happy to see that WWE had enough faith in A.J. Styles to give him a match with Shane McMahon.  After all, they wouldn't give him a match with the boss' son if they didn't have total confidence in his ability to pull off a good, safe match.

That's exactly what Styles did.  Although he couldn't completely work his usual style, he did well meshing with Shane.  A.J. got in most of his offense and Shane ended up busting out some big spots as well.

After he hit the elbow drop onto the announcer's table this past Smackdown, I figured we wouldn't see that again tonight.

We got the coast to coast tonight and, out of the blue, a shooting star press!  It wasn't flawless, but Shane's shooting star was surprisingly fluid.

Thankfully, the right man won this match, so it made the rushed and random feud, the unusual clash of styles (no pun intended) and Styles being in the opening match worthwhile.

Winner: A.J. Styles

Match 2: Chris Jericho (U.S. Champion) vs. Kevin Owens

I was surprised to see this match occur right after McMahon/Styles.  After all, there were just a handful of 'personal rivalry' singles matches on this card, so I figured they'd spread them out a little bit more.

A lot of people have commented on Kevin Owens' appearance since he became Universal Champion, but, personally, I don't see what's wrong with it.  Is he an Adonis?  No, certainly not.

However, he's not a completely obese man either.  He's got agility and he's tough.  Most of all, he's a great heel.  I'm a big fan of his work.

Jericho was out next, with just a scarf.  Oh wait!  There are the lights.  It's a light-up scarf -- to replace the light-up jacket!  Appropriate.

The match itself was pretty good.  Jericho busted out a top rope frankensteiner.  Owens got in his usual offense.  Jericho ended up reversing a pop-up power bomb into a Code Breaker.

Jericho went for the pin, but Owens reached over and got his pinky (yes, his pinky) onto the bottom rope to break up the pinfall.

Owens power bombed Jericho right into the side of the ring and brought him into the ring to end it.

Winner (and NEW United States Champion): Kevin Owens.  The right man won this match.  Not sure it was a classic, but it was good.

Match 3: Bayley (WWE Raw Women's Champion) vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte (Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match for the Raw Women's Title)

I'm not a big fan of champions entering the ring before their challengers, but that's a minor complaint.  Bayley, Sasha and Charlotte all took it to Nia Jax right away.

This was actually a very well booked match.  Nia is still very green, but she's getting better ... slowly.

Some good spots included: Nia running down all three of her challengers in a triple clothesline-esque move, a triple power bomb, and a combination suplex/big boot.  All of these moves ended up being too much for Nia.

Elimination 1: Nia Jax

There were a couple of spots to the outside (a plancha by Sasha over the top rope and an incredible corkscrew moonsault by Charlotte) and then Charlotte rammed Sasha's head into an exposed middle turnbuckle.

(and just like that) Elimination 2: Sasha Banks

Charlotte and Bayley battle it out a little bit (Charlotte gets in her Figure Eight leg lock), but Bayley and Charlotte end up on the top turnbuckle.  Bayley flips Charlotte into the ring with a somewhat scary looking back body drop.

Bayley nails a Macho Man elbow drop from the top and retains her title.

Elimination 3: Charlotte
Winner: Bayley

Not a bad match, overall, but it felt just a little rushed.

It's time to introduce the WWE Hall of Famers.  They come out to the ramp.  Then Kurt Angle's music hits and he's greeted with a huge round of "You Suck" chants intermittent in his theme music.  Just as it should be.  Welcome back, Kurt.

Match 4: Four Way Ladder Match for the Raw Tag Team Titles: Cesaro and Sheamus vs. Big Cass and Enzo vs. Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson (Raw Tag Team Champions)

As the participants were making their entrances, all I could think of was 'The Hardyz have got to return here.  It's a ladder match.'  But Smackdown would probably be a better place for them, creatively.

Then the New Day music hits and out come the popular trio.  This is now a four-way match!  But The New Day is in their ring gear.  Is WWE going to swerve us and have New Day compete or will they give us the Hardy Boyz?

Just like that, we have an answer.  The Hardy Boyz make their return!  Matt has his blonde streak in his hair, but his hairstyle is more WWE than Broken Matt.  Jeff looks like typical Jeff.

This was a great match.  It too, felt almost rushed, but it had great spots.

I'm not sure how they do it, but the Hardyz still manage to come up with incredible spots, 17 years after their first Wrestlemania TLC match.

Big boot for you, big boot for you, and big boot for you.  Big Cass hits everyone with big boots.

Cesaro and Sheamus have a nice combo spot where Cesaro swings Anderson and Sheamus pounds on Gallows' chest in the ropes.

Eventually Matt ends up nailing a big Twist of Fate on Anderson from the ladder.  Jeff Hardy climbs a massive ladder on the outside and does a Swanton onto Sheamus and Cesaro (on top of two ladders laying horizontal at ringside), which snaps one of the ladders in two!  Wow!!

Matt goes up top and grabs the Raw Tag Team Titles for the victory.

Winners (and new Raw Tag Team Champions): The Hardy Boyz

I'm hoping The Hardy Boyz get to take on Anderson and Gallows in their first return feud.  It'd help to cement Anderson and Gallows a little more in WWE -- working with such an established tag team.

Match 5: John Cena and Nikki Bella vs. The Miz and Maryse

Ugh.  This one was rough to watch.  From Al Roker's confused look as he made the ring introductions to the lackluster in-ring action between Maryse and Nikki Bella, it didn't really deliver.

The best part of the match was Miz's gloating as the fans cheered him on in his battle against the overpushed (and soon-to-be taking a break) John Cena.

Miz and Maryse should've won since Nikki and John will be taking a hiatus, but I knew better than to expect that.  I counted on a Nikki/Cena victory.  If this is one of John's last Wrestlemania matches (and possibly Nikki's if rumors of a new neck injury are true), then WWE will be giving them the win.

Winners: Nikki Bella and John Cena

The real reason for the match became clear after the match was over.  Cena was given this match (and victory) to set up his proposal to Nikki.

Yep.  They're engaged.  I don't know if the TV I was watching on wasn't that loud or if my friends' conversation drowned out some of the cheers, but it sure didn't seem like the proposal got a huge reaction.

Nikki didn't seem that emotional either, considering this was what she's been waiting on for so many years.  As much as I don't like Nikki Bella or John Cena, I can respect that it was a nice moment for them.

But if WWE was trying to recreate a Macho Man/Miss Elizabeth moment, this was far, far from it.

Match 6: Unsanctioned match: Seth Rollins vs. Triple H (with Stephanie McMahon)

What was with Triple H and Stephanie's entrance?  Were they watching Wrestlemania 17 and enjoyed The Undertaker's entrance?

Did they really think Triple H's unconvincing effort to be a biker was the best route to go here?

His Robocop entrance was great.  His Conan The Barbarian entrance was good.  This, though?

The slow-moving motorcade lead by police (which, I guess, is supposed to represent the fact that Triple H and Stephanie are the authority??)

Awful.  Lackluster.  Disappointing.

Seth Rollins came out carrying the torch.  Nice symbolism there.  Granted, he looked a bit like a Power Ranger until he removed his shirt.  But the costume and entrance fit his moniker (I'm not sure when he got it) as the "King Slayer."

I go back and forth on Triple H's Wrestlemania matches.  I usually like them or find them to be very boring.

Sheamus vs. Triple H?  Boring.  Triple H vs. The Undertaker?  I didn't really like it much (any of them).  Triple H vs. Goldust?  I liked that match.

Tonight was a very good match.  Seth Rollins may have had a lot to do with that though.  Rollins reminded me a lot of Eddie Guerrero tonight, both in his color scheme and in some of his moves and mannerisms.

I wasn't sure how well Rollins would be able to compete with his recently repaired knee.  At first it looked as though he was favoring his knee, but that may have just been him selling it.

The psychology in this match was pretty much on point.  Rollins did a great job selling.  Sure, a couple of times, he went from nursing his injury to delivering high-impact moves that required the use of his knee, but you've got to believe that the adrenaline flow made up for that.

Triple H took a couple of big bumps off the top in this match.

The ending was just a little bit anti-climactic.  Stephanie's table bump was nothing compared to some of the table bumps the ECW ladies took back in the late '90s.

She gently dropped through that table.  Then, the distracted Triple H takes one pedigree and is pinned.

Winner: Seth Rollins

Just as it should be.  It seems Triple H's ego has finally been put aside in recent years.  His putting over newer talents almost makes me want to forgive him for his ridiculous dominance from 2002 - 2005.

I am a little disappointed that there was no Samoa Joe or Finn Balor involvement at any point of the match (even if it were just Joe coming to ringside, only for Stephanie to order I'm to the back).

But, oh well.  They can show up on Raw.

Match 7: WWE Heavyweight Title Match: Randy Orton vs. Bray Wyatt (WWE Heavyweight Champion)

After Triple H's lame entrance, it was unfortunate that Randy Orton walked down the aisle with a computer-generated graphic of a snake leading the way.

It sounds like a cool idea, but, as one of my friends pointed out, that snake ended up looking more like a giant sperm than a snake.

This match seemed rushed from the start.  It was understandable.  I'm not sure if Rollins/Triple H or Jericho/Owens went over on time, but these two weren't allowed the same amount of time to tell their story as the previous three singles matches on the card.

It's unfortunate because it's a match for the WWE Heavyweight Title.  It should be given a decent amount of time, right?

Then again, given the strange three times that the match was interrupted by an overlay of graphics on the mat, maybe it should've been shorter.  What was that anyway?

I guess it's a cool idea -- that Bray is playing mind games with Randy Orton.  But he didn't capitalize on it at all.  He just stayed in the same spot.

Yes, I know it's scripted, but, meanwhile, wouldn't Bray have had to have paid someone quite a bit of money to make that happen in the middle of the match?

Oh well, though.  After all, the result was disappointing.

Instead of fully committing to Bray Wyatt and making him more of a maniacal, Mankind-like character of Undertaker-esque character, Randy Orton takes the title after an RKO (that wasn't outta' nowhere).

Winner (and NEW WWE Heavyweight Champion): Randy Orton

I'm hoping that the goal is to have Randy Orton feud with A.J. Styles going forward.  If that's the case, however, I'm not sure why they even pulled the title from A.J. in the first place --- other than to give John Cena 16 title reigns and give Bray a short run with the title.

Instead of having Styles drop the title to Cena at the Rumble, it seems like it would've made more sense to have Randy Orton go into Wresltemania to face champion A.J. Styles.  Give Randy Orton the title at Wrestlemania and then go onto feud with Bray Wyatt.

This would've given WWE and additional two months to build up the Bray Wyatt/Randy Orton story. If Styles would be given a rematch, then it would've given WWE another month after 'Mania to build to Wyatt/Orton.

Match 8: Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) vs. Goldberg (WWE Universal Champion)

A big part of me was hoping for (and a smaller part was anticipating) a Steve Austin appearance as a special enforcer, doing the Wrestlemania 20 match the way it should've been done, but no such luck.

I was not thrilled with the way Brock went on the attack right away, getting in 2 german suplexes, only for Goldberg to pop up and hit Brock with a spear.

I think there were maybe 4 different moves used in total -- a jackhammer, a F5, the spear and the german suplex.  Thankfully it really was Suplex City.  Lesnar delivered probably 7 suplexes throughout?

There wasn't much variety in this match, but who was expecting a technical masterpiece?  I'm sure Bret Hart wouldn't be too impressed by it.

Lesnar ended the Goldberg return by capturing the Universal Title, which is the result that should've happened.

Winner (and NEW Universal Champion): Brock Lesnar

So, where do we go from here?

There are a few possibilities.  Seth Rollins.  Samoa Joe.  Shinsuke Nakamura.  Roman Reigns.  Braun Strowman.

Those are the guys I could see taking the title from Brock.  Unfortunately, after being fed to Goldberg, I don't see Kevin Owens entering the title picture again soon.

Out of the five guys I mentioned above, the one who seems to stand the most chance at this point is Roman Reigns.  However, I guess it depends when Brock Lesnar's next title defense is.

If he doesn't defend it until Summerrslam, then there's plenty of time to build up a new challenger.  If it's sooner than that, then Roman Reigns seems like the best choice.

Match 9: WWE Smackdown Women's Title Match: Alexa Bliss (Champion) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Natalya vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella (with James Elsworth) vs. Naomi

Unfortunately, given how much over Wrestlemania was at this point, this match had to be cut down quite a bit.  That much was obvious.  It was far from the awesome 6 Pack Challenge that the Smackdown ladies competed in at Backlash in September of 2016.

It probably could've been just as good, but the cuts, due to time, limited the potential.

There was a small botch there with Natalya tripping while applying the double Sharpshooter.  Overall, the ladies seemed on point, despite the rushed nature of the match.

At the end of the day, this match wasn't about being a classic.  It was about getting them a spot on the card and giving Naomi a feel-good moment in her hometown.  And, to that end, the goal was accomplished.

Winner (and NEW Smackdown Women's Champion): Naomi

Match 10: Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker

I figured, after Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg occurred earlier, that Roman was winning this one.  I mean, it's been years since The Undertaker closed out Wrestlemania.  That means this match was going to be big.

Plus, Jim Ross was out to call this match.  I'm assuming that was at The Undertaker's request.

So I figured this may be Taker's swan song.

After a somewhat back-and-forth match that went to about 25 minutes (it seemed like there should've been more action in that amount of time), 'The Big Dog' took over The Undertaker's yard.

The crowd didn't seem into it for a while (though they may have just been spent after 6 or so hours of wrestling action).  By the end of the match, the crowd was into it --- maybe realizing what this match meant.

Winner: Roman Reigns

I know a lot of people have differing opinions on this match.  I, for one, thought the match was as good as it could be with The Undertaker's age, nagging injuries and limited abilities.

I also thought, after the struggle to reverse the tombstone, that it was time for The Undertaker to put his boots away for good.  I'm a big fan of The Undertaker, but seeing him perform these days is like seeing him as a shell of his former self.

That's not how I want to remember The Undertaker.

It really seemed like this was the best option, especially since The Undertaker's streak was broken against Lesnar two years ago.

I'm somewhat surprised that Taker's last match wasn't advertised as such, but that'd kind of give the ending away, wouldn't it?  Knowing what a stickler The Undertaker is for the old school ways of doing business, it makes sense that he would want a little bit of suspense built into his final match.

It also makes sense that he'd do the job to the company's new, young 'it' guy.  That guy, like him (and I do) or not, is Roman Reigns.

Just like that, Wrestlemania 33 went from a average card to being all about #ThankYouTaker.

It's not a happy ending that everyone would've wanted, but it was good from a storytelling standpoint.  That's always what The Undertaker has been, so it does make sense.

I am a little surprised that there was no Hulk Hogan.  No Rock.  No Steve Austin.  I'm surprised, but not disappointed.  I'm happy to see that maybe -- just maybe --- WWE is going to put a little more faith in some of their newer stars.

That's something they need to do if they don't want to become a 2000 version of WCW.