Time to take a breath after seven hours of wrestling. I love it, but I’m glad it’s only once a year. God damn. Before I have too much time to sit and ruminate and overthink all of it, here’s my instant reactions to this year’s matches:
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
My prediction: Matt Hardy
Actual winner: Matt Hardy
This was a fun match. I was a bit surprised not to see any NXT wrestlers in it, but that didn’t take away from a good opener. I was pleasantly surprised with Bray Wyatt’s appearance and his alliance with Woken Matt, I’m really looking forward to seeing how that storyline develops. That’s my main take away from this one: give us more Matt and Bray.
Cruiserweight Championship Tournament Finals: Cedric Alexander vs Mustafa Ali
My prediction: Cedric Alexander
Actual winner: Cedric Alexander
This was a good match that I thought would be much better. I thought on the grand stage they would have a Cruiserweight Classic-type match, but this one seemed a bit toned down from that style. I still enjoyed it, but was disappointed that it wasn’t better. It could be a missed opportunity to bring more viewers to 205 Live.
Wrestlemania Women’s Battle Royal
My prediction: Sasha Banks
Actual winner: Naomi
This was another really fun match. I especially like the NXT contingent of women getting their Wrestlemania moments. Except Peyton Royce. I hate her. I love Bianca Belair, I expected her to just be there, not to hit a 450 splash. That was bitchin. The finish seemed very odd. Naomi isn’t a heel, and she doesn’t have a feud with Bayley, why did they do a “wait this person was never eliminated” finish? Naomi also seems like a very strange choice as a winner. Other than to reward her for her time and her work, it doesn’t seem like it advances any feud or storyline. I like her, but this one could have ended better. Oh well, now she and Jimmy can put the uterus trophy on their mantle.
Intercontinental Championship Match: The Miz vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
My prediction: Finn Balor
Actual Winner: Seth Rollins
Really good match. Miz was on fire in this one. There was great action from all three guys and you could feel how badly each one of them wanted the belt. The ending sequences were fantastic. I am not totally surprised Seth got the belt, but I had expected Finn to win. It makes sense though, Seth has been stagnating a bit, not being with The Shield or in the main event picture. I’m thinking he’ll get fresh challengers in KO and Sami Zayn after the post-mania shakeup.
Smackdown Women’s Championship Match: Charlotte vs. Asuka
My prediction: Asuka
Actual winner: Charlotte
This match was everything I wanted it to be, except for the ending. And that doesn’t mean it was a bad ending, I was just shocked, as I’m sure many were. Once again, New Orleans is where streaks go to die (except Curt Hawkins’). I wanted to see Asuka win, but honestly, it’s almost a relief to not hear, “IS THE STREAK OVER?!” “THE STREAK IS IN JEOPARDY!” “OH NO, THE STREAK!” out of Michael Cole’s mouth every 15 seconds in her matches. I know he’s probably being fed that stuff, but god damn, shut up. We know. I digress. This is probably the best women’s match Wrestlemania has ever seen. These woman BROUGHT IT. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoyed it. I wrote about when WWE should end the streak, and this was not something that I’d really considered. I’m also surprised there was no Carmella cash-in, but thinking about it, it makes sense to let these two have their moment after an incredible match and let them cherish the moment. Maybe we see a cash-in this week on Smackdown. Tremendous job by both ladies here.
United States Championship Fatal Four Way Match: Randy Orton vs Bobby Roode vs Jinder Mahal vs Rusev
My prediction: Rusev
Actual winner: Jinder Mahal
Take the opposite of everything I said about the previous match and apply it to this match. My god, what a shitfest. How does a match like this even happen on this show with four veterans? Adorable Adrian Adonis wrote this recently about multi-man matches, and it was dead on what happened in this match. There was NO action. Nothing happened. In a match with four veteran wrestlers competing, two more capable wrestlers on the outside, no rules, and a championship on the line on at god damn Wrestlemania, they couldn’t even put together a mildly entertaining match. Two wrestlers at a time exchanging a few blows in the ring while the other two lay outside hurt, probably from an open-handed slap. Aiden English took one RKO. Sunil Singh got knocked off the apron once. Randy hit a few RKOs, the one on Jinder looking especially shitty. Bobby Roode did nothing. Rusev hit a few moves. Jinder did nothing until the weak-ass win. And maybe, MAYBE, all of that could have been forgiven somewhat if they’d capitalized on Rusev Day and given him the rub. But no, they can’t even do that right. Maybe Jinder works as champion, I don’t know. All I know is that this match was complete and utter horse shit. A fatal four-way match is supposed to be chaotic and unpredictable, and this one didn’t even have any action outside the ring nor any semblance of enjoyability. I was not very excited for this one to begin with, and I hate that they were able to shatter the glass floor of my low expectations.
HHH and Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
My prediction: Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
Actual winner: Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
I marked the hell out when Ronda came out in a kilt. I LOVED this match. They dragged out the sequence of Kurt getting beat down and Steph getting one-up on Ronda before she could be tagged in, it was a long and frustrating sequence but it was perfect, it built up the heat so much that when Ronda finally got the tag the crowd went nuts. That was the best hot tag I can remember in a long time. She went nuts and looked terrific. I really loved everything about this match. Even Stephanie looked good with her moves. Her DDT was solid. Kurt putting her in the ankle lock was my favorite part of the whole night, even if it was only for a few seconds. The ending went the way I expected, with a hell of a lot of fun leading up to it. Solid debut for Ronda, and man, I almost cried seeing my Olympic hero in a Wrestlemania match again.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos vs The New Day vs The Bludgeon Brothers
My prediction: The Bludgeon Brothers
Actual winner: The Bludgeon Brothers
This was brutally beautiful, short and sweet, almost a squash match. It was what it needed to be. Let these guys just decimate their way through the tag team division. I have a feeling they’ll have some new competition soon, and a new chapter will be written…
John Cena vs…Elias?
John Cena vs. The Undertaker
My prediction: The Undertaker
Actual winner: The Undertaker
Elias is WWE’s king troll, and I love it. His moment was absolutely perfect. We knew we had to Walk With Elias at some point. Once that was over, we finally got the moment we knew was coming: the return of The Undertaker. They pulled this one off very well. They learned after last year that if he’s going to wrestle, it’s not going to look pretty for very long. This was short and to the point, and Cena got squashed. Props to him for doing that job and giving the fans what they wanted. We never know when we’ve seen the last of the dead man. This was special.
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens vs Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan
My prediction: Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan
Actual winner: Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan
It was really incredible and emotional to see Daniel Bryan wrestling again, and to do it at Wrestlemania in the same building where he triumphed at WM30 was a hell of a scene. He looked terrific out there. That was a brutal beatdown to start the match, and it only built up the anticipation for him to finally get into the action. All four guys in this match looked great. I hope they sell the firing storyline even more, let these guys even take an indie booking or two. My gut says they’ll just go to Raw, but it’s yet to be seen where it goes from here. They have to look for new ways to utilize kayfabe in the “reality era”. We’d still know what’s up but it would be much easier to bring people into the storyline and ignore reality. Also, will DB still be GM? I’m sure we’ll get some answers this week.
Raw Women’s Championship Match: Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax
My prediction: Nia Jax
Actual winner: Nia Jax
Has anyone scraped Mickie James’ carcass up yet? That was a brutal and perfect start to get her neutralized right away. It was going to be really hard to follow the Asuka-Charlotte championship match, but god damn they did it. I had a lot of faith in Alexa and Nia’s ability to put on a really good and believable match despite the obvious size difference, and they did not disappoint. The build to the match was perfect as well. This was an emotional win for Nia and I’m sure could be felt by anyone who has dealt with body shaming. It seemed early on that Alexa’s only job was to not die. Nia’s offense is vicious, and it needs to be. The finish looked awesome, with Alexa’s body bouncing off the mat after the super Samoan drop. Well done, ladies. Now the next issue: who is a legitimate challenger to Nia?
WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
My prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura
Actual winner: AJ Styles
Man, what a match. These two tore the house down as everybody knew they would. What can I really say about the match itself other than PHENOMENAL? As we all know, the story isn’t the match, the story is what happened after. First, I was really surprised to see AJ retain. But I started getting a feeling that hmm… if Shinsuke turns attacks here, it may make sense that he didn’t win. That was a second thought. My initial thought would be Finn attacking with Gallows and Anderson. This may have been better. Through no fault of their own, it is hard to have a foreign face who doesn’t have the best English language skills. Shinsuke can cut a promo just fine, but in the wrestling world, it just doesn’t come off right. In a discussion for another time, maybe that will change someday soon, but for now, it’s a tough spot to put him in. Now there’s a world of possibilities: will Shinsuke get a heel manager? Will there be a heel faction? Why did he attack AJ? He seemed more happy with his attack than upset about losing, like this was his plan all along. Is that really the case? I can’t wait to see where this goes, and it can only further develop his character.
Raw Tag Team Title Match: The Bar vs Brawn Strowman and… Nicholas?
My prediction: Braun Strowman and Rey Mysterio
Actual winner: Braun Strowman and a lost child
I don’t care if the kid was a plant, or Vince’s nephew, or Trump’s barber’s kid, or whatever, this was amazing. This kid goes down as not only being a part of Wrestlemania, and not only being a Tag Team Champion, but the Tag Team Championships at Wrestlemania. The only thing better would have been if he’d taken a Brogue Kick. I look forward to him turning heel on Strowman at Raw.
Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns
My prediction: Roman Reigns
Actual winner: Brock Lesnar
As I’ve written before, I get extremely annoyed with all of the Roman Reigns hate. Generally it’s baseless “WWE backs you so I’m going to boo you” bullshit no matter how good the match is, and even when he rocks the house the crowd dumps all over it. Not tonight. This was not baseless. This match sucked. How is THIS a Wrestlemania main event? Everything about this was terrible from start to finish. The only thing this did for Roman is show how many F-5’s he can take before he can’t kick out anymore. How many times are you going to just stand in the middle of the ring and do the same move over and over and over? And now, that guy who can only do two moves gets to keep the belt, keep it off TV even longer, and be in more shitty main events whenever he feels like it. This was a huge downer ending for a really great show. Any progress Reigns had been making in winning over anybody was pretty much destroyed here, and that’s really upsetting. Maybe WWE is moving on from him, who knows. Maybe there’s a bigger plan. I just don’t see the logic in this at all.
Overall, just a couple of shitty matches on a huge card is pretty good, unfortunately those shitty matches were championship matches, including the main event. As for my predictions, 8 out of 14 is much worse than I usually do. They swerved me good.
What were your thoughts on the show, and what storylines and feuds do you want to see come out of this?