It’s that time of year again as wrestling seems to be giving way to the Ultimate Thrill Ride on a show that seemed to be a final farewell for the Dead Man.
After over 35 minutes of video packages on the pre-show, we finally head to the ring for our first match… it’s the purple ropes, and that means the cruiserweights are the first ones heading down that 80ft aisle!
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Austin Aries vs. Neville (c)
Yeah, the cameramen are going to be badly blown up by the end of this! Neville’s hit the fake tan or the sunbed hard this week as he’s massively orange for some reason…
Aries reverses a wristlock early, then catches Neville with an armdrag into an armbar, but Neville flips out only to get caught in a backslide as Aries tries for the Last Chancery… that forces Neville to roll to the floor. Back inside, a bell clapper and a dropkick keeps Aries on top, before a diving elbow gets Aries a near-fall as Neville once again rolls to the outside.
Aries tries for a dive, but his tope’s cut-off with a kick from the floor, and the champ takes over from there… but we have to cut away from this match to go to an ad break. Picture the head shaking…
We return from an ad break to this “Cruiser Weight Champion” as Neville is still in control, but he misses a Phoenix splash as Aries chops his way back into it. A gutbuster, backbreaker and power elbow keeps Aries in the ascension, before he backdrops Neville hard to the floor for an axehandle smash off the top rope.
The tope sends Neville flying into the barricade, but the champion manages to get back into it with a pump kick in the corner as a prelude to a superplex, but Aries shoves Neville down for a missile dropkick to score a two-count. Neville hits a Pete Dunne-esque snap German suplex off the ropes to fold Aries in half, but he doesn’t capitalise immediately, instead taking his time to deadlift the challenger up for another German… but he lands on his feet and into a superkick. That second German follows for a near-fall as Aries’ bell looks to be rung.
A Rings of Saturn from Aries is rolled up on for a near-fall, but he rebounds off the ropes with a Discus Five-arm that sends Neville rolling to the outside for cover. An enziguiri on the apron gets Neville back into it, sending Aries down to the mat and in perfect position for a Red Arrow… but Aries gets up for a top rope ‘rana! A flying forearm follows as Aries goes up next for a 450 Splash, but there’s no new champ! Neville kicked out at two!
From there, Aries goes for the Last Chancery, but he pokes Aries in the eye, then kicks the ropes towards that recently-healed orbital socket as Aries is left writhing on the mat for a Red Arrow – smashing into Aries’ midsection – as Neville retains. Bloody hell, these guys seemed to be proving a point, and they’ve set an insanely high bar… on the pre-show! ****
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The second hour of the pre-show kicked off with a visual of a bunch of guys walking down the ramp, but nobody got identified… apart from the Big Show, who didn’t have a cart! Braun Strowman got his music and entrance too, and we’re underway for the usual organised cluster! Goldust busted out his old ring gear… Kalisto got bumped viciously by Big Show, as did Simon Gotch, whilst Heath Slater was launched out by Braun.
Yeah, this was a showcase for the two big lads… until everyone ganged up on them, and Braun eliminates Big Show before everyone else teamed up and tossed out Braun! The two favourites are gone… and we’re off to a break! Or perhaps not, they silenced the commentators for a break that didn’t happen.
Killian Dain was showcased a bit in his main show debut (of sorts)… Dolph Ziggler low bridges R-Truth to the outside, whilst American Alpha dispatches Curtis Axel and one of the Usos. It seemed that commercial break was only for USA Network, and they return to the show as the former SmackDown tag champs get turfed.
Another debutant in Tian Bing helps dispatch Breezango, before Sami Zayn helped eliminate Mark Henry. Hmm… Ziggler superkicks Bing out of the match as the Chinese debutant’s run ends, as does Epico’s eliminated with a Helluva kick from Zayn. Luke Harper almost gets rid of Ziggler, and now it’s Mojo Rawley in the spotlight, launching Bo Dallas then elevating Ziggler to the outside. Oh no…
Harper’s out next, with a Titus O’Neil boot being decisive, before Zayn clotheslines Sami out. Killian Dain throws out Zayn to a chorus of boos, and we end up with Jinder and Mojo fighting outside the ring after they went through the ropes. They fight in front of Mojo’s celebrity friend, the Patriots’ Rob Gronkowski, who then gets an empty cup thrown at his shoulder.
Gronkowski hops the rail as security rushes to stop him, and it seems that they weren’t clued in as a couple of referees look to call them off. Regarldless, Gronkowski ignores them and heads into the ring where he goes all Hacksaw Jim Duggan with a three point stance and a shoulder tackle takes down Jinder! Dain takes a couple of forearms as Mojo throws him out… and now it’s Jinder who’s the last man out as his attempt to suplex Mojo to the floor’s blocked, and Rawley charges him off the apron to secure the win. Yeah… that’s a weird choice, but hey, at least it’s an unexpected pick that’ll not have any expectations saddled onto them with this win. **½
Your entrants, in the order they were eliminated: Primo, Kalisto, Simon Gotch, Heath Slater, Jey Uso, Goldust, Konnor, Big Show, Viktor, Braun Strowman, Curt Hawkins, R-Truth, Rhyno, Aiden English, Curtis Axel, Jimmy Uso, Jason Jordan, Chad Gable, Tyler Breeze, Fandango, Sin Cara, Mark Henry, Tian Bing, Epico, Bo Dallas, Apollo Crews, Dolph Ziggler, Luke Harper, Titus O’Neil, Sami Zayn, Killian Dain, Jinder Mahal and Mojo Rawley
WWE Intercontinental Championship: Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose (c)
Corbin looked THRILLED to be on the pre-show. And to make that long walk. Yes, this is the match that came as a result of Corbin pinning Ambrose under a forklift on SmackDown, and it was Corbin who was the early aggressor, only to end up taking a tope from Ambrose in the opening exchanges.
Corbin shoves Ambrose out of a headlock, sending the champion sliding into the ringpost, before an STO gets a near-fall for the challenger. We get a spot of brawling as Ambrose returns to try for the Dirty Deeds, but Corbin shoves him out and grounds him with a cobra clutch.
Ambrose gets back into it as Corbin’s shoulder charge hit the ring post, but the tables swing back as they go for a superplex, but a load of camera cuts almost mask Ambrose headbutting him down. Another Dirty Deeds is shoved out of as Corbin is low bridged to the floor, where he swats away a plancha from Ambrose with a forearm.
Corbin misses another charge, this time hitting the ring steps, and that sparks another comeback from Ambrose, who gets a neckbreaker for a near-fall before Corbin knees him in the midsection. A Deep Six is lost, but Corbin comes back with a big boot as Ambrose went for a rebound lariat. It was second time lucky for the Deep Six, getting Baron a two-count, before Ambrose hit that rebound lariat at the second try.
Another Dirty Deeds is turned into a back suplex for a near-fall, leading Corbin to yell “three” loudly. It’ll not catch on like it did for Tye… Corbin goes into Ambrose with some forearms, then goes for the End of Days, but Ambrose flips over and hits the Dirty Deeds for the win. This was fine by the end, but this took a while to get going; not helped by a subdued crowd. ***
After an advert for 205 Live (of all things!), it’s time for the main show – WrestleMania baby! Which this year comes with a trippy intro video based around the Ultimate Thrill Ride motif…
The New Day of course are hosting after a big pyro show, and they’ve got a bicycle to help them down to the ring! There’s a noticeable breeze in the ring, at least for Big E’s robe, and there’s five minutes of time killed with little content.
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles
Cue the cries of neoptism… which were drowned out the second AJ Styles’ music hit.
They start with holds, which is a bit strange for someone wanting to embarrass their boss, but then we get AJ mocking Shane’s shuffle, and we’re back to normality. With Shane almost out-wrestling AJ to send the former WWE champ to the floor to regroup as he wanted to know: are we fighting, or are we wrestling?
AJ punches Shane first, so we get some of those Shane punches as a receipt before Styles pulled Shane to the floor. A baseball slide dropkick sends Shane hard into the SmackDown commentary team in what was a fantastic bump, almost straight out of that All Stars video game, and we’re back to the punches from Styles. Shane knocks down AJ as he went for a Phenomenal Forearm.
Shane pulls a Tyler Bate punch, then an Angle slam for a near-fall, before AJ comes back with an ushigoroshi that looked to set up for a Styles Clash, but instead he has to make do with a Calf Crusher attempt. Somehow, Shane countered into a rear naked choke, then into a cross armbreaker, and finally a double armbar as Shane-O-Mac tried to turn into Shane-O-Zack (Sabre Jr).
An attempt at a springboard 450 is caught and turned into a triangle choke, but AJ lifts up and turns it into a one-armed Styles Clash to nearly nick it. That could have been so bad, but instead we get some boo/yay strikes from Shane, which lead to AJ’s roundhouse kick accidentally knocking down the ref en route to a Pele kick on Shane.
Medical staff check on AJ as he goes under the ring for some trash cans, and those medics awkwardly move the ref as AJ goes for the Coast to Coast… but Shane pops up and shoves the trash can into AJ in mid air. At least he didn’t nearly kill himself like against Roman… so Shane tries for the Coast to Coast himself as those medics look awfully uncaring for the still downed ref.
Shane’s Coast to Coast connects, and of course the referee recovers in time to count a near-fall. So Shane starts dismantling the SmackDown announce table – in the opening match – as he puts AJ on there for an elbow drop… Styles moves away just in time, and Shane crashes through the announce table! AJ rolls Shane back inside now, and winds up for a Phenomenal Forearm, but it’s caught and met with a floatover DDT, before Shane misses a shooting star press!
What am I seeing here?! The end’s nigh from there though, as the Phenomenal Forearm connects finally, and AJ gets the win. Well, that was full of smoke and mirrors, but really quite good for what it was. Not quite sure how they’ll be able to top this later on in the show, but hey, that’s not these guys’ problems! Shane did a good job of “playing wrestler”, even using some moves that you’d have expected out of AJ… but in the end it just wasn’t enough. ***¾
We go to a spoof Tapout advert featuring James Ellsworth, which is probably the first funny thing he’s done in weeks. It’s actually a Snickers advert that sees James morph into Charlotte, who then gives Michael Cole a bar as he tries to lift weights.
WWE United States Championship: Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho (c)
There was an inflatable List of Jericho on the stage, and Chris debuted… a light up scarf!
Owens lays into Jericho at the start, but he’s quickly tripped and caught in the Walls of Jericho, but Owens grabs the ropes and gets knocked to the floor… and already he’s lasted longer than against Goldberg!
After absorbing some punishment, a savate kick knocks Jericho down to the mat, which leads to a cannonball in the corner. Another one follows as Jericho’s sandwiched between the apron and the ring post, and it looks like Owens is going to be working over his former friend’s back for the time being, with a back senton helping the former Universal champion on his way.
Owens taunts Jericho for a spell, then eats a dropkick as Jericho then back body drops himself out of a powerbomb on the outside. We get a tease of a package piledriver, but Owens turns it into a package powerbomb that nearly won it, and somehow Owens has opened up a wound above his eye, which wouldn’t have been helped with a top rope ‘rana from Jericho.
A Lionsault misses, but Jericho lands on his feet to take a boot from Owens… then he blocks a frog splash with his knees, which gives Owens an idea on how to counter another Lionsault. More knees block a senton bomb (what the hell!), but Owens manages to swing Jericho into an Air Raid Crash as he almost won the belt.
Jericho leaps over a pop-up powerbomb attempt as he finally gets that Lionsault for a near-fall. A ‘rana from Jericho’s caught and turned into his own move by Owens, only for Jericho to power out and leap into a kick as he’s cornered for another cannonball… but Jericho catches THAT and turns it into the Walls of Jericho! Owens teases tapping, but he drags his way to the rope instead.
A pop-up powerbomb out of nowhere gets Owens a two-count, and he follows up from there by mocking Jericho some more, but another pop-up powerbomb’s turned into a Codebreaker… and Owens breaks the cover by putting A SINGLE FINGER on the bottom rope. GENIUS. We get another pop-up powerbomb, this time planting Jericho on the apron, and that’s enough as Owens rolls Jericho back in to snatch the win and become the new US champion. Well, this was really good… slow and deliberately-paced, for sure, but this told a heck of a story with two master craftsmen. ****
Elimination Match for WWE Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte
During the intros they announced the WWE Women’s tournament later this year… Sasha gets to ride on the back of a car, which is ironic for the smallest person on the card so far to get a lift!
Everyone tries to target Jax in the opening stages, but it backfires as she dominates them with ease. Bayley takes a Banzai drop, but she’s able to roll out as Charlotte decides to have her shots, which are just ineffective as Jax ends up hurling Charlotte off the apron like a cannonball.
Eventually the triple-teaming works… somewhat, as a big boot from Charlotte leads to a double jack suplex on Nia for a two-count. Bayley, Sasha and Charlotte work together to turn a Banzai drop into a triple-team powerbomb, before all three pile on Nia for our first elimination. Logic!
Charlotte slides out of the ring as she demands that Bayley and Sasha turn on each other, but of course she gets involved just in time for a Sasha tope con hilo! Charlotte follows up with a corkscrew moonsault to the floor, before returning to the ring for a Natural Selection on Sasha as they cycle through some teased finishers.
A massive forearm from Sasha rocks Charlotte momentarily, before a headscissor takedown leads to some knees in the corner and a Meteora that almost eliminates Charlotte. The Bank Statement comes next, but they roll through into a pinning predicament. Sasha gets kicked into an exposed turnbuckle, and that’s an elimination as we’re down to Charlotte and Bayley.
Charlotte lays into Bayley from there, before she rams her knee into that exposed turnbuckle. You know what was also exposed? The refereeing – surely that should have been fixed? A top rope moonsault misses from Charlotte, and allows Bayley to score a near-fall, before she flew off the top into a spinebuster from Charlotte.
Bayley’s caught next in a Figure Four, but she’s able to crawl to the ropes, so Charlotte decided to put more pressure on by putting the champ in a Tree of Woe. Somehow, Bayley sits up into a Spider Belly-to-Bayley, but Charlotte gets back to her feet first and chops Bayley in the corner again. Out of nowhere, Bayley pulls herself up and flies down with a Macho Man-esque elbow, and that’s it – she retained. This just felt distinctly flat once we got past the triple-teaming on Nia. If this was the story they wanted to tell… it was distinctly flat and nowhere near as good as Bayley winning the belt at WrestleMania. ***
The Hall of Fame recap segment followed, ending with Kurt poking fun at himself and pouring milk over him. There’s no Howard Finkel for this year’s in-stadium bit, which made me sad… instead it was Greg Hamilton (no relation).
Ladder Match for WWE Raw Tag Team Championship: Enzo Amore & Colin Cassady vs. Cesaro & Sheamus vs. The Club (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) (c) vs. The Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy)
Yes, we had a surprise announcement – the Hardy Boys (NOT Broken) were added into the ladder match by the New Day, who’d teased themselves as the fourth team.
We open with Poetry in Motion from the Hardys onto the Club, before Cesaro and Sheamus cut them off. Whisper in the Wind from Jeff cut off the former champs as we get a bunch of DELETE chants, because of course we should. Matt goes wild with a ladder to knock everyone off the apron, allowing Jeff to try and climb for the belts, but Matt failed to see the Club returning.
Sheamus drops Anderson with a Finlay roll, before Cesaro lands a double stomp… then nearly broke his ankle as his foot got caught in a falling ladder. The Hardys set up a pair of ladder bridges between the apron and the crowd barrier, but they get squashed between them as we moved to some crossface punches from Sheamus on Gallows. With extra Giant Swings on Anderson for good luck!
Matt and Cesaro take a flying Enzo to the outside, as Jeff decides to try his look with an Asai moonsault – only to be Brogue kicked to the floor. Sheamus and Gallows fight on the ladder, but Enzo pushes it down and gets some help from Big Cass to ascend that ladder… but the Club return to powerbomb him into the ladder in the corner as Enzo remained static… Gallows and Sheamus clothesline each other to the outside as Anderson returns to cut off Enzo, before he throws him into a European uppercut.
Sheamus and Cesaro double-team Anderson, but Gallows makes the save as the champions knock them down. A Twist of Fate gets rid of Gallows, before Anderson heads up to fight for the belts with Matt… who then hits another Twist of Fate from the top! Jeff’s climbing another ladder, but he’s nowhere the belts, and he sentons Cesaro through the ladder bridge (Sheamus was unscathed) as Matt secures the tag titles! On their return, the Hardys win the titles in a match that was more noted for the shock return and stunts than anything else. ***¼
Jerry Lawler was added to the commentary booth for the next match, because… reasons. Al Roker from NBC’s Today Show got booed for his role as ring announcer…
The Miz & Maryse vs. John Cena & Nikki Bella
Miz and Maryse play chase early on, suckering Cena into the ring as Miz gets plenty of cheers when he expected boos from the crowd. Maryse slaps Cena in the ropes and this is a really weird dynamic as the crowd are loving the Miz.
That corner clothesline has the Miz bouncing off the ropes, as does the “Miz is awesome” chants from a PK-ish kick to Cena. My God, Miz is relishing this, but he misses a second clothesline and crotches himself in the corner… but Cena can’t capitalise as Maryse pulls Nikki off the apron to keep herself out of it.
Miz kicks away from an AA and drills Cena with a DDT for a near-fall, before the crowd played along with the Daniel Bryan-baiting kicks. Nikki slaps Miz, which allows Cena to back drop him to the outside, as Nikki tags in… and she ends up taking out Miz with a tope! The Cenas come back with a forearm and a back suplex as we get a pair of Five Knuckle Shuffles, followed by an AA and a Rack Attack 2.0… and the Cenas win! Not much of a match, but it wasn’t meant to be… **
So, the real story then? After the match, John Cena gets the microphone and everyone’s expecting a proposal. Cena praises Nikki for recovering from a broken neck to get her WrestleMania moment… apparently he asked her something and got an honest answer… of course, the time’s right. THE PROPOSAL IS ON!
John Cena got down on one knee, and proposed to the woman we know professionally as Nikki Bella… and she said yes! Cue one monster engagement ring, and there’s your moment! Not going to lie, there’s a tear down my eye from that, even if you say it was predictable going in.
Unsanctioned Match: Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
Hunter came out with police escort on a big-ass bike… I could argue what the hell is Stephanie doing accompanying HHH here, given the feud’s between Hunter and Seth, but what the hell. That entrance more befit the American Badass Undertaker than any era of Triple H… but hey ho.
Meanwhile, Seth Rollins came out with FIRE. Does he have his name to set on fire like the Rock? Or is he carrying an Olympic torch?
Seth launches straight into Hunter at the bell, then rushes in with a wild dropkick before Hunter takes out the supposedly-good knee, as they end up brawling into the crowd. A back body drop sends Hunter back into the ringside area, where Rollins leaps off the barricades to take Hunter down once more. More topes takes Hunter into the barrier, and now it’s time to dismantle more announcer tables, as Triple H DDT’s Seth onto the German table… which didn’t break.
From there, Hunter takes a chair to Seth’s injured knee, before he wedges the knee between the announce table and a barricade, so he could drop his own knee on it. We’re back for a chop block and some work over Seth’s knee, before a Flatliner into the turnbuckle gets Rollins some breathing space.
Seth teases a sunset bomb – but the knee “gives” like it did against Kane when he picked up the first injury just over 18 months ago… despite the bad wheel, he tries for a Liger bomb, but then it gives, before it holds up for a bucklebomb! Rollins keeps up with an Irish whip that sends Hunter to the floor, in place for a big crossbody off the top, but Seth smashes his knee into the ground as they tease him injuring it again.
Rollins heads under the ring for a couple of steel chairs, and a table too! A frog splash gets Seth another near-fall, but the knees take a pounding on impact. Hunter comes back with a spinebuster before he Pillman-izes Seth’s leg… but a second try is blocked, as Seth comes back in with a superplex that rolls through into a Falcon arrow!
Stephanie gets involved to pull Seth off the top rope, and he falls into the path of a knee bar from Hunter, before Seth switches it into a Gargano Escape! Some kicks to the knee release the hold though, and Rolling heads to the floor where he takes another knee bar… but in pulling out plunder to try and free himself, the sledgehammer comes out, and it’s noticed. They go back and forth in the ring until a Triple H clothesline leaves both men laying, until an enziguiri cuts off an incoming sledgehammer attack.
Rollins gets control of the sledgehammer now, but Stephanie disarms him and Seth turns into a Pedigree that almost won the match. They go into the corner as Triple H teases doing a Pepsi Plunge (Hi, CM Punk!), but Rollins back drops his way free, then climbs to the top turnbuckle for a Phoenix splash! That gets him a two-count, before they go back and forth on Pedigrees.
Eventually that table comes into play as Steph’s on the apron and Seth superkicks Hunter into her… Steph falls through the table, allowing an angry Hunter to take a pedigree and Seth gets the win! Well, this was alright, but far too long for what it needed to be. Seth supposedly only had one leg and lasted over 20 minutes… so that injury can’t have been that bad, eh? Otherwise, your standard Triple H match at WrestleMania… fine, but went too long to be memorable. **¾
Your musical interlude came next. Yeah, because we’ve four matches left and really need to serenade 70,000 fans with a Pitbull song that isn’t even the theme to this show! At least they limited it to two songs…
WWE Championship: Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton
I like the small touches they make here, like Bray Wyatt’s entrance graphic having fireflies in the shape of the title around his name…
Orton flies into Bray with a Thesz press, before a low dropkick and a powerslam suggests they’re gonna be quick… but an RKO is avoided as Bray rolls to the floor.
Bray does his creepy crab walk, and the camera cuts to an overhead view of the ring with a projected image of live maggots. What the hell? Orton flees the ring and returns to a crossbody as they teased their finishers once more, and Bray retains control as he arches back again… for some worms in the ring!
Bray Wyatt’s new ability: projection!
A uranage gets Bray a near-fall, before he goes for Sister Abigail… but Randy turns it into a roll-up for a near-fall – and those video shows have taken the crowd out of this. We get the Sister Abigail as Wyatt sent Randy into the crowd barriers, but Orton recovers and hits an RKO on the floor… to polite claps. Oh dear…
Orton sizes up Bray for a punt, but Wyatt avoids it and goes for another Sister Abigail… but Orton avoids that and goes for a backbreaker. A rope-hung DDT follows, but Bray finally gets Abigail in the ring for a near-fall – and right now this is boiling down to precious little more than movie time and teased finishers.
Bray crab walks as we get a video of cockroaches projected, but when that ends, Orton pops up for an RKO, and he beats Bray and his video show! What the hell did we just see there? **½
WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg (c)
Well, neither man’s quit the company before WrestleMania this time, so this shouldn’t be the car wreck it was 13 years ago… unfortunately, the crowd turned mute when Goldberg came out.
Lesnar immediately hit a trio of German suplexes, only to be hit with a spear from Goldberg. A second spear sees Lesnar roll to the outside, where a third one takes Brock through into the timekeeper’s area!
Back inside, Goldberg gets boos as he goes for a Jackhammer, but Lesnar countered it into an F5, only for Goldberg to slip out and land a fourth spear. The Jackhammer follows, but Brock kicks out… then leaps over another spear attempt, as Goldberg’s going through his two moves.
Goldberg smashes himself into the turnbuckles, and gets met with some more German suplexes… and yes, this is like a game of WWE 2K17 where both people only know two moves! We’re up to 9 Germans… and a tenth is enough for a BEET RED BROCK to call it quits, as an F5 follows, and Brock wins the title. Two title changes in short order, and four enjoyment flakes for the destruction of the move spamming! ****
WWE SmackDown Live Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella vs. Natalya vs. Naomi
Alexa got a huge pyro blast for her introduction, and they’re cutting time on entrances as Alexa barely made it halfway down the ramp before Becky Lynch came down. Still, at least we got a GLORIOUS Naomi entrance in the dark of night, at 11pm in Orlando!
No eliminations here – first fall wins, and we start with Naomi taking down Natalya with a ‘rana. A Bexplex sends Carmella flying, whilst we see Naomi take a suplex from Natalya and Alexa. Lynch kicks Mickie James off the apron, and now James Ellsworth gets involved to help Carmella hit some headscissors out of the corner.
Alexa and Carmella exchange words, before an STO on Carmella gets rid of her briefly as Lynch mounts a comeback. Ellsworth gets involved again, but a Bexploder gets rid of him with ease as this continues to be a constant stream of spots. Natalya catches a Sharpshooter on Carmella and Naomi, but Mickie breaks that up and gets out of the way of a legdrop from Lynch, who then takes a DDT for a near-fall.
Naomi comes back with a Rear View, then a plancha to everyone else, but Bliss forearms her springboard attempt, only be trapped in an Anaconca Vice by Naomi… and we have a new champion! That felt massively rushed and spotty, but fine for what it was **¾
The New Day return in suits for a pre-main event segment, where they announce the crowd number for the evening: it’s a record-breaker: 75,245. Let’s see where the real number falls in the weeks ahead!
Jim Ross comes out to commentate on the main event – just as some had reported earlier in the weekend…
No Holds Barred: Roman Reigns vs. Undertaker
They don’t turn down the crowd for Roman’s entrance, and we’re at 11.30pm ET when the Undertaker even makes his entrance a la Gangrel, through the ramp! That’s one way to save time!
The bell goes at 11.36pm ET, and it’s Undertaker who starts, throwing Reigns to the outside to declare “it’s still my yard”. Unfortunately, Reigns clotheslined him to the outside, where he was dragged for some headbutts, then a whip into the ring steps. Reigns takes over back inside, slugging away at the Dead Man, before shoving him into the ringpost as the Undertaker went for… something.
A Drive By apron dropkick knocks the Undertaker down, but he finally mounts a comeback with some right hands… to a crowd that seems to be beyond burnt out by this point. Reigns takes a Snake Eyes and a legdrop for a near-fall, before another Drive By from Reigns was cut-off with a straight right hand.
Undertaker clears the English announce table, but it’s the German desk that Reigns lands a Drive By onto, before a chokeslam sends Reigns onto that table… which doesn’t give. Like this crowd, the Undertaker is shot, but he’s still trying as he signalled for a chokeslam, but Reigns speared him through the Spanish announce table… which did give way!
We get the Undertaker sit-up as he staggered back into the ring, but Reigns boots away some more as the crowd continues to turn on him, and he gets caught doing some mounted punches, with an agonising-to-watch Last Ride almost winning the match for the Dead Man. A chair comes into play, which the Undertaker uses on Reigns’ back as that SWAT vest clearly doesn’t offer too much protection against those sort of things.
Reigns rolls outside again, then returns with a Superman punch as Undertaker took forever to leave the ring. Another Superman punch takes him into the ropes, but a third is caught and replied with a chokeslam onto the chair for a near-fall. From the kick-out, Reigns takes a tombstone, but he kicks out at two – to a smattering of boos!
As we pass the 15 minute mark, Reigns drops Undertaker on a Tombstone reversal, and this is beyond embarrassing for the legendary Dead man… another Superman punch doesn’t work, but from a Spear, the Undertaker catches Reigns in Hell’s Gate, which leads to a rope break. In a no-DQ match. Sigh.
Reigns stands on the chair as Undertaker went for it… then uses it himself on the Undertaker’s back several times. Undertaker pulls himself back up using the ropes, but he’s straight into another spear for yet another two-count. Yet another spear gets another two-count as it feels like we’re on loop, and we flip to the track marked Superman Punch as Reigns spams moves like Goldberg.
The Undertaker tries to sit-up, but he collapses to the mat, and now the crowd start booing heavily. Reigns moves to the punches, before a long run-up gets a spear… and that is it… a second WrestleMania loss for the Undertaker, who at 23-2 is almost surely finished. The story was fine, but the execution had no chance… the Dead Man’s mind was willing, but the body was just not able. *½
As we pass the midnight hour, Reigns heads to the back as the referee leaves the Undertaker in the ring on his back… Reigns gets his pyro and firework coronation, but the Dead Man is still in the ring. The crowd chanted “thank you Taker” briefly as he sat up, almost surely for the final time…
After the replays, the Undertaker is standing again, this time in his trench coat and hat. He surveys the scene, as the 75,000-so crowd applaud him for what should be the last time at a WrestleMania, before the Dead Man (for the second year in a row) left his gloves in the ring , along with his trench coat, and finally, his hat.
The Dead Man… is done. He left the way he came, through the ramp, with the lights going out and his infamous Dong’s sounding as WrestleMania, and the career of one of WWE’s all-time greats, came to a close.
For a show that felt like there was little hype for the card, this over-delivered. Sure, there were some bum notes, and the main event that was just horrific to watch. That being said, I cannot say that I was left disappointed with this show. Some good wrestling, some moments (good and bad), and some of WWE just being WWE. You knew what to expect with this show, and whilst the entertainment side may not be for everyone, we at least had enough of the good wrestling to make this worthwhile. My only complaint? Much like last year…
IT WAS TOO LONG! Over seven hours this year – and given the length of some matches, there’s definite room to tighten up this proverbial ship.
From EVOLVE 80 to WrestleMania 33, that’s 63 matches in four days… and there’s still some shows for us to to backfill on. That was WrestleMania weekend – a celebration of wrestling from the small, weird indy shows, to the pinnacle of glitz and glamour under the WWE banner!