|My favorite Wrestlemania moment.|
PRE-SHOW: Neville (c) vs. Austin Airies: Neville wins by cheating because none of the 205 heels are ready for a title program against Aries yet.
My second-favorite match of the night. I have to say, given that this was the opening match of the first hour of the pre-show before the full crowd was even there, the crowd was super into it, something I can't say for certain main events. This went down exactly as I predicted, with a rake of Aries "injured" eye socket leading to a Red Arrow. (1/1)
PRE-SHOW: Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal: Braun Strowman
Apparently, all my least favorite NXT guys are destined to win the Andre Battle Royal. Baron Corbin last year, Mojo Rawley this year. I'm calling it now - 2018's Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal winner will be Elias Samson. Anyway, this was a complete fucking mess. so much so that I had to poke around on the Internet for ten minutes today to find out that it was Epico that got tossed first. The only upside is that the Vaudevillains were included and eliminated third and tenth, which is actually an improvement for their booking. (1/2)
PRE-SHOW: Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin: WILL: Dean Ambrose retains the title and battles AJ Styles for it.
This got moved to the pre-show after everyone complained that the Smackdown Women's Title Match wasn't on the main card. As we'll see, that may have been a mistake. Not that this match, a pretty standard Smackdown TV match that just happened to be held outdoors, didn't deserve to be on the pre-show. Nothing of note, and Ambrose retained. (2/3)
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles: AJ defeats Shane in a competitive match that includes at least three instances of Shane's Flurry Of Shitty Corner Punches.
I do not ask a lot of pro wrestling when it comes to suspension of disbelief. But when you have a middle manager in his late 40's who looks like a middle manager in his late 40's manage to have a highly competitive match with one of the legit greatest wrestlers in the world after what is, in storyline, a week and a half of preparation, well, fuck you, wrestling. The match was better than it had any right to be, but it was too long, too competitive, and Shane still sucks. Also, there was only one flurry of corner punches and one flurry of shitty corner knees, but I'm still calling it a valid prediction. (3/4)
Chris Jericho (c) vs. Kevin Owens (US Championship): Kevin Owens defeats Chris Jericho in the best match of the night, finishing him off in a way that retires Jericho for around his usual nine months off or so. Owens then feuds with Zayn for the US title for three months and Zayn never wins.
This wasn't the match of the night, though I'd probably place it a solid third. But it was very satisfying. Owens won, of course, with a powerbomb to the apron, which should justify Jericho's time off quite nicely. Jericho matches are always less intense than the stories around them, because that's Jericho's talent ratio at this point in his career, so this fell a little bit short in-ring, but was still solid. (4/5)
Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax: Jax goes through a table and gets triple-pinned as the first elimination. Sasha eliminates Bayley through nefarious means, then gets pinned by Charlotte. Charlotte feuds with Asuka while Bayley feuds with Sasha and Jax goes back to squashing jobbers.
Other than the triple pin, I got this all wrong. No table spot, no Sasha heel turn, and Bayley retained. Which I'm glad about, honestly, but once they got past the "Horsewomen team up to take out the monster heel" part of the match, the match's story, of Bayley finally getting her uncontroversial, clean, definitive title victory at Wrestlemania was murky as fuck. I only realized that was the story after she won and the announcers explained it to me. (4/6)
The Clerb vs. EnzoCass vs. Cesheamus: Enzo and Cass win the belts in what is the curtain jerker to pop the crowd big right off the bat.
OK, it's not my fault I got this wrong. This match made me happy in so many ways. Legit best match of the night, legit favorite match of the night, legit favorite WWE PPV match of probably the last year. And it's not because I'm necessarily a huge Hardys fan, or am a big fan of 90's wrestlers coming back and winning the titles off of established teams.
But first, Cesaro and Sheamus came out in matching suit tops and kilt bottoms and ripped the costumes off at the same time and literally, this was the happiest Sheamus has made me happier than at any point during his entire career. And then New Day came out and the Hardys appeared and it was such a well-played surprise that I marked out for it despite myself. And then the match was great, and Cesaro swung Karl Anderson while Sheamus did a Beat of the Bodhran for each swing and I WAS SO HAPPY AGAIN and then SWANTON OFF THE LADDER and it all just worked. (4/7)
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. The Miz & Maryse: After a moderately-fought match, Cena and Nikki defeat Miz and Maryse and Cena proposes to Nikki in the ring and I have to watch their wedding on a Smackdown-exclusive PPV sometime in July.
Yep, that's what happened. In case you were wondering if Maryse had somehow trained to do moves so she could participate in this match, she didn't. (5/8)
Triple H vs. Seth Rollins: Seth Rollins defeats HHH, goes on to probably feud with Finn Balor over who gets to lose to Brock Lesnar.
This match was too long and Rollins' gold outfit was a fucking travesty and Steph went through a table. But it could have been a lot worse, and if they'd shaved 3-4 minutes off it it would have been really good. And Rollins won like he was supposed to. (6/9)
Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton: RKO Outta Nowhere after seven minutes of Orton hitting his usual spots to win the WWE Championship, Wyatt goes back to wrestling Luke Harper on Smackdown.
This managed to be only my second-most-hated match of the night, beating expectations. I mean, it was awful and stupid and Randy Orton won just like I said but Bray Wyatt projected maggots and worm and bugs onto the ring floor, which I guess is a superpower but it's a wildly unhelpful one and didn't really help him in any way, so why? Why any of this? Poor Bray Wyatt. (7/10)
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar: Goldberg and Lesnar stare at each other for six minutes while half the crowd boos, half the crowd chants Goldberg, and half the crowd chants Suplex City. Then Lesnar spears and pins Goldberg to win the Universal Championship. Post match, Balor appears to point and stare at Lesnar.
I don't know why I said "spear" in my prediction. The staredown was mercifully short, the match was also mercifully short but longer than you'd think. There were six moves total. Three each. Ten German Suplexes, one leapfrog, and one F5 from Lesnar. Three Spears, one Jackhammer, and one knee to the gut from Goldberg. Lesnar won the title with the F5, of course. (811)
The Smackdown Women's Division Vs. Itself: Mickie James wins a battle royal or some shit.
This ended up being a rushed six-way match in the pee break spot, which is why it was probably a mistake to shift it from the pre-show where they could have had more time and maybe a livelier crowd. On the other hand, having Naomi's entrance in the dark definitely helped. The match was a scramble in every sense of the word, and so there were lots of botches of what would otherwise have been cool spots like a double Sharpshooter and a double German off the ropes.
Naomi won, despite making her surprise return five days early and despite Orlando being her hometown, so I don't understand how anything works anymore. (8/12)
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns: As much as I hate to say it, Roman Reigns will win this match in about twelve minutes, not including Undertaker's intro.
I was wrong. The match lasted TWENTY THREE FUCKING MINUTES. At twelve, it had already gone on five minutes too long. Apparently, post-match, Taker left his hat and coat in the ring, signifying retirement. I don;t know, because once Reigns pinned Taker after what seemed like an infinite number of spears, all I wanted to do was shut the show off and go to sleep. The last ten minutes of the match were just Roman Reigns beating up an old man who dyes his hair. It was like when the Undertaker lost to Lesnar only without the energy and pacing. It was the Bataan Death March of wrestling matches. It questioned the very idea of wrestling as entertainment. It was a smoking crater of shit, and it's not even a definitive Roman Reigns heel turn, though it pointed in that direction when he hit an old man with a chair forty fucking times.
If this truly was Taker's last match, that's the only good thing that came out of that slog.