|Re-valuing the idea of a Wrestlemania Moment
That was a long, long show. Ultimately, WWE knew exactly what they had for the main show of Wrestlemania and built it appropriately. They had three big things, put one at the start, one in the middle, and one at the end, and that way you cared less about the quality of the stuff in the middle, which ranged from awful to fine.
Buddy Murphy vs. Tony Nese (Cruiserweight): Murphy retains.
I’ll be damned. They put the belt on Nese, then had a proper, longer rematch on 205 Live to cement Nese’s win. Will Nese be a heel champ? A face champ? An interesting champ? Who knows. Murphy may be shifting to NXT for a bit, which is fine. (0/1)
The Revival vs. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder (Raw Tag): Ryder and Hawkins win and drop the belts within a month.
As expected, the hometown boys won the belts. They even kept them on the Raw after Mania, but my prediction of a month or less still stands. (1/2)
Women’s Battle Royal: Asuka, Lacey Evans, or Nikki Cross
Botched that one. Lacey Evans wasn’t even in it (more on that later), Cross got eliminated quickly, and Asuka wasn’t even the last woman eliminated. Carmella won, possibly to remind us that she’s still a wrestler, or possibly for no reason whatsoever. (1/3)
Men’s Battle Royal: Andrade, Strowman, or Ownes:
Owens wasn’t in it, and in fact all that noise about him not being on Mania at all didn’t lead to any surprises or anything this week, even. I wonder if he’ll feud with the returned, still heel Sami Zayn. Anyway, it ended with the SNL guys and Strowman and Strowman won. (2/4)
Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins (Universal): Seth Rollins slays the beast.
And he did, after a long beatdown and a short match. This was what it was, and did what it was supposed to do, and got it out of the way quickly, which isn’t something I’ll be saying about a few of the matches later on. (3/5)
AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton: Styles wins.
This match happened and AJ won. Bleah. (4/6)
The Usos vs. Blacochet vs. The Bar vs. Nakarusev: Let’s go weird long shot, pick Nakamura and Rusev, and be wrong. Fuck it.
Nope, they kept the belts on the Uso’s, which I’m fine with, and the match was fine and fun and inoffensive. And then the Usos dropped the belts to the Hardy’s two nights later and then Lars Sullivan destroyed the Hardy’s so who the fuck knows wnymore. (4/7)
The Miz vs. Shane McMahon (Falls Count Anywhere): Miz wins.
Nope! This was tedious, over-long, stupid, and ended with a big suplex off a scaffolding onto an airbag, landing in such a way that Shane was technically pinning Miz while they both lay there. I don’t even remember where this went on Smackdown this week. (4/8)
Boss and Hugg vs. Natalya/Phoenix vs. We’re Both Samoans vs. The Iiconics (Women’s Tag): I have a gut instinct that the belts are going on the Iiconics.
Yay instincts! I know Sasha Banks is mad about it and wants to leave, and that’s fair and her prerogative. But I think this was the right move for the belt - give the historic firstness to the best team, then move it onto cowardly stealing heels to make the belt more valuable by chasing them for it. (5/9)
Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan (WWE Championship): Kofimania!
This was the match that stole the weekend. There’s another very similar match at the end of this article, and why it suffered by comparison will be talked about there, but the raw emotion of this, combined with the talent of the two guys involved, plus the way they did the post-match celebration, gave it a meaning that will be remembered as one of the true Wrestlemania moments of all time. (6/10)
Samoa Joe vs. Rey Mysterio (United States): Joe retains.
Apparently Rey’s ankle injury was real, because Joe destroyed him in about 30 seconds to retain. (7/11)
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre: Of course Reigns wins.
Yep. Both guys wrestled the match they tend to wrestle and this was fine. (8/12)
Triple H vs. Batista (HHH’s Career On The Line): HHH wins, duh.
I did not enjoy this. It was slow, it was long, and Batista got his nose ring pulled out with needle-nose pliers. None of that was anything anyone needed to see. (9/13)
Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin: Angle goes out on his back.
Yep. This wasn’t good either, and then on Raw the next night Angle got Corbin back only to get carefully squashed by Lars Sullivan, so why did any of this have to happen? If they were gonna do this anyway, have Lars murder Corbin on the ramp, take the match at Mania, and squash Kurt there. (10/14)
Demon Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley (Intercontinental): Balor wins.
Yep. This was fairly fast, featured one Demonic feat of strength, and Lashley lost, so I’m moderatly pleased. (11/15)
Becky Lynch vs. Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair (Winner Takes All):
I want you to imagine a better world. A world where Ronda Rousey was a better wrestler. A world where Becky Lynch was allowed to use her dynamic finisher to gain a decisive victory, instead of countering a move into a botched pin. A world where the final spectacle of her victory was treated the way, say, Daniel Bryan’s was at Wrestlemania 30. Or had the same kind of impact as Kovi’s children and New Day in the ring after his win.
What was a perfectly good match with the right winner and a triumphant moment for women’s wrestling would, instead, have been a moment for the ages. And it wasn’t, and it wasn’t in no small part because WWE basically said “OK you’ve got the main event shut up and be happy” and seemingly gave all the attention to Kofi. Because they still treat all their minorities like a zero sum game. Love that Becky won, love that she can make it look like a strong win with a promo or two and coining the phrase “BECKY TWO BELTS”, and hopefully going on to look strong crushing the first pretender to her throne, Lacey Evans. (12/16)