Can we please get people who can string a coherent sentence together without stumbling around every few words? Because half of the panel right now (i.e. Shawn and Booker) can't do that.
They have a ring set up on top of the overhang that protects the real ring from rain. This is entirely pointless, probably took a while to set up, and exposed those setting it up to extra danger. But hey. We've got a wrestling ring high above our other wrestling ring. Because that's totally worth it.
Now time is being wasted by having Peter Rosenberg hype up their giant ring ramp which is "the biggest ramp in the history of WrestleMania." I can assure you that no single person in the entire world gives a sh*t about that fact, but WWE felt the need to point it out to us, either because Vince thinks this will make people think the whole big production he has going on is impressive, or because this pre-show is way too long and they need to find more sh*t to kill time with. Either way, it's heavily annoying. (And if you're a fan who bought an aisle seat hoping to slap hands with the wrestlers like you'd normally be able to do, then it sucks for you because WWE decided that a big, honking ramp was necessary.)
WWE CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Neville(c) vs. Austin Aries - 6.75/10
As Aries makes his way down to the ring, Tom Phillips tells us that the crowd "is still filing in." Well doesn't that bury this match (and the Cruiserweight Title) by saying that it's not important enough to make sure that everyone sees it? OH COME ON! Won't the Raw Women's Title match get enough hype when you talk about it on the panel and give it its own video package later on the pre-show? Do we really need to cut away from a different match to hype it?
Both guys worked over the head, including Neville suplexing Aries directly onto his more than once. Aries looked to have things won with the Last Chancery but Neville raked his reconstructed eye socket to break the hold, then won with the Red Arrow. So we're at one match and one bad booking decision. What is there left for Neville to do? Who is there for him to defend against anymore? Maybe Tozawa, but he's busy with Kendrick at the moment. Yeah, you could build to a rematch with Aries and put the belt on Aries at the next PPV, but why do the change next month when you could do a clean finish and a title change at WrestleMania in Aries' WWE PPV debut?
So after watching Neville cheat by going after a man's recently-injured eye in order to keep is title, we go to the panel, and not one of them even acknowledges that anything shady occurred, never mind being outraged by it. It's all just "wow! That was a great match! These Cruiserweights really delivered. We love the Cruiserweights and we're so proud of them. Aren't they great?" If you want to know why ratings are going down and they need to give away three months of the Network (including WrestleMania) just to get people to subscribe to it, it's crap like this. You can't have someone cheat and then have people just not give a sh*t about it and just say "wow. Wasn't that a great match?" in the same generic, happy done of voice they would use if they were told someone had made a ten dollar donation to charity in their name.
ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYALE - 2/10
Only Big Show and Braun got their own separate entrances, just so we know that no one else is important. WWE's first Chinese Superstar, Tian Bing, is in this match, but he wasn't acknowledged for a long time. Killian Dane from NXT is as well, and he didn't get much spotlight (and is not having an entrance really the way you want to introduce someone from SAnitY?). Both the Ascension and the Vaudevillains are in this match, neither of whom have been seen in what feels like months, as well as all manner of other jobbers like Tyler Breeze, Fandango, Bo Dallas, and Jinder Mahal... but they had KALISTO get eliminated first.
Okay... I'll give WWE some credit. I didn't see the big gaggle of everyone actually managing to eliminate Braun and Big Show. This thing definitely feels more wide open than I expected going in, but there is also no Joe, no Balor, no Shinsuke... no one who could actually benefit from this win (assuming WWE actually put some effort into making it matter). I mean... I guess Sami could win to stick it to Steph, but Sami Zayn should be so many levels above this that it would still feel disappointing.
Your final three are Mojo Rawley, Killian Dain, and Jinder Mahal. Not Apollo Crews or Dolph Ziggler or Jason Jordan or Chad Gable or Sami Zayn or Kalisto or anyone someone might actually give a sh*t about. Things spill to the outside and Jinder beat up Mojo in front of Gronk and throws Gronks drink on him... so Gronk tries to get over the guardrail... and then I cheered because security actually tried to stop him! And then I shouted because they just gave up and LET HIM GET INTO THE RING AND ATTACK A WRESTLER. JBL decries this, but the other announcers see no problem with it. Well then. If that's going to be the case, then I hope that WWE reaps what they sow and we get fans trying to run in the ring all night long because apparently it's okay to do that. Well... either that or celebrities are above the law. Whichever you think is a better message for WWE to be sending.
Mojo eventually wins, last eliminating Jinder Mahal. I like Mojo. I met him when we were both at Maryland and I can attest that he is a very nice guy. But let's be honest: there is a good chance the man wouldn't even be employed anymore if he wasn't friends with Gronk, and now he gets to win this supposedly important match at WrestleMania for no other reason than he is friends with a celebrity, all at the expense of guys like those I listed above who could actually help the company with good pushes.
On the bright side, at least there were no commercials in this match (although Michael Cole appeared to be under the impression that there was one because at one point he welcomed us back to one).
PAUL HEYMAN IS IN THE SOCIAL MEDIA LOUNGE WITH CHARLY CARUSO AND THE COMPLETELY EXTRANEOUS MARIA MENOUNOS -Bad. The first question is Paul is asked via Twitter is "how man suplexes will Brock deliver to Goldberg tonight?" WHAT A F*CKING STUPID QUESTION! How could Paul possibly know this, and even so, does it actually matter how many suplexes Brock hits? What sort of idiot asks this question and sort of idiot decides that this stupid question deserves to be asked on the air?
The second and third questions were actually intelligent, but Paul's answers were not particularly interesting.
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Dean Ambrose(c) vs. Baron Corbin - 5.5/10
How much do you want to bet that everyone who petitioned to get the Smackdown Women's Title match on the main show is now kicking themselves for relegating Ambrose to the pre-show? In their defense, though, I think most of us hoped that WWE could move the CONCERT THEY HAVE SCHEDULED DURING THEIR WRESTLING SHOW to the pre-show.
The announcers pushed that Dean might have injured ribs from the forklift incident and that might make it hard for him to win this match. This is the sort of thing that it would have been nice if they had ever actually mentioned IN THE BUILD-UP TO THIS MATCH. But that was the story they told and they worked on it for a bit and then Dean hit finisher and won clean to retain the title. So now we're up to three for three in terms of questionable booking decisions. This does not bode well.
PRE-SHOW OVERALL THOUGHTS - These pre-shows irritate the hell out of me. Never mind the silly things the people on the panel say or whatever happens in the Social Media Lounge. As someone who does what WWE wants me to do by watching Raw and Smackdown every single week, they bore the hell out of me because it's just a bunch of video packages I've seen already on Raw and SD (some of them with clips we've been seeing for weeks) or hearing new voices repeat the same talking points- or even worse, repeating the same hype phrases verbatim- I've been hearing the announcers talk about on TV for weeks. It's boring and annoying and a pain in the ass to sit through. The only reason I watch them is for the matches, but because we never know when the matches will start I have to watch the whole f*cking thing. And then, when the matches do start, they put pointless f*cking commercials in the middle of them because it's the pre-show and they apparently couldn't find any other time during this obnoxious crapfest to put their commercials. I mean... if the whole point of the pre-show is to put over the importance of the wrestling matches on the PPV, then doesn't cutting away from the pre-show matches work against? If they're willing to cut to a commercial in the middle of them, how important can the wrestling matches be? If they have all of this time, why not just make the PPV longer and put all of the matches on the PPV?
TINASHE SINGS AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL- Either you do it at everyone show or you don't do it at all. To only do it when you think the (non-wrestling) public is looking is a disgraceful act fueled not by patriotism but by the desire to make others think you are patriotic in order to advance your own ends.
OPENING VIDEO PACKAGE -Bad. Oh my G-d this roller coaster "ultimate thrill-ride" stuff is embarrassing. It's f*cking WrestleMania and you're including stock footage from a commercial for a theme park. IT'S A METAPHOR, DUMBASSES! The rest of this was over-produced, CGI-happy bullsh*t. And what is even the point of this video? Didn't we just get two hours' worth of pre-show to hype this crap up?
OPENING SEGMENT - Waste of time. New Day come out to open the show. Cole tells us that their gear this year is "inspired by Final Fantasy," which is a lot less cool that it otherwise would be when you realize that Final Fantasy is sponsoring this show. They waste time telling us that there will be action and drama and great moments on this show. DUDE! The show has already started! You don't need to sell it to us anymore because anyone that is watching this has already bought the show!
AJ STYLES vs. SHANE MCMAHON - 7/10
Look... the match was great and was exactly what it was supposed to be... but I just had a lot of trouble enjoying watching Shane McMahon, forty-seven year-old non-wrestler, go toe-to-toe with the man who has carried Smackdown on his back since the brand split, not just in terms of toughness but even in terms of wrestling prowess (and even kicking out of the Styles Clash. But AJ didn't get to kick out of Shane's big stuff, of course. That was all Shane missing his moves so it was really Shane doing the damage to himself). You can say that's overly smarky if you want, but that facet of this match was just inescapable for me.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Chris Jericho(c) vs. Kevin Owens - 7.5/10
The story of this match was Jericho working Owens' back. They had a lot of good finisher reversals and false finishes.
FOUR-WAY ELIMINATION MATCH FOR THE WWE RAW WOMEN'S TITLE:
Bayley(c) vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks vs. Nia Jax - 6.25/10
Sasha got an entrance that looked horrifically lame. Oh look. She's riding on the back of a slow-moving car with a giant handlebar that is there specifically for people to be able to hold onto it while they ride on the back of the car. She looked some dork who got chosen to be a "VIP" in a Disney World parade. Charlotte wore the robe her father wore at a previous WrestleMania. You know... exactly like what they did last year. Cole claim that she is "dressed like a peacock" and gives some dumb reason, but I prefer to go with the idea that Dalton Castle now has himself a Girl to go along with his Boys.
Nia uses her strength to dominate her opponents individually until they all decide to team up against her. That triple-team move looked awesome. Nia fights back with her strength but gets hit with a three-woman powerbomb and pinned in a pig pile.
Charlotte tries to make an alliance with Sasha but Sasha says no, so Charlotte rolls out of the ring and tells the other two to go at it. They did one or two spots to play off of the "will Sasha betray Bayley?" story they have been building up, but then Charlotte just eliminated Sasha with nothing even resembling a payoff to the big story heading into this match. A few minutes later Bayley beat Charlotte to win the match and Byron Saxton basically says that Bayley has now proven that she is a legitimately deserving champion... so why the f*ck didn't they just hold off on her winning the belt until tonight?
PLEASE WELCOME THE WWE HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017 - While Kurt Angle is being introduced as a member of the WWE Hall of Fame, the fans are STILL chanting "YOU SUCK!" to his entrance music. How much do you want to bet that Edge is sitting back, watching this, and laughing his ass off at the havoc he has wrought?
LADDER MATCH FOR THE WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson(c) vs. Cesaro & Sheamus vs. Colin Cassady & Enzo Amore vs. The Hardy Boyz - 7.75/10
Well... I'm sure glad I picked the Young Bucks for my Supercard of Honor XI pick'ems. The Hardys are their normal, non-broken selves. Good. They did all of their usual Hardy Boyz stuff and we got the usual clusterf*ck Ladder Match spotfest with the usual level of craziness.
INTRODUCTION OF THE INTERNATIONAL ANNOUNCE TEAMS - why, thank you, Funaki. A happy WrestleMania to you, too.
MIXED TAG TEAM MATCH:
The Miz & Maryse vs. John Cena & Nikki Bella- 3.75/10
Lawler is on commentary for this match because how better to drive home the importance of the sacred bond of marriage that John and Nikki are about to enter into together then by having Jerry Lawler make fun of the institution of marriage for twenty minutes.
Lawler also tried to convince us that it was just the people in the one front-and-center section cheering for Miz, not everyone in the arena. Wow. I can't wait to see how they try to spin the reaction to Roman Reigns. "Oh my G-d! Those obnoxious fans who are all coincidentally sitting where you can see them have mind control devices and they're forcing all of the other fans to boo Roman!" Lots of stalling happened. Miz got some heat on Cena but it wasn't very compelling. Nikki got the hot tag and dove onto Miz then hit Maryse with the forearm. Then we got the stereo Five Knuckle Shuffles and then AAs that we already saw on Smackdown so they weren't very exciting.
CENA PROPOSES TO NIKKI - Did Cena really wrestle that whole match with the engagement ring in his pocket? That sounds like a bad idea. Cena uses her shoot name, so f*ck you very much John Cena for sh*tting all over kayfabe. Despite his blatant disrespect for kayfabe, Nikki say yes. The crowd reacted to this in a much nicer manner than I thought they would, especially with the way they were booing Cena before. Then JERRY LAWLER, who had spent the past twenty minutes crapping on the institution of marriage, told how special of a moment this was for these two young lovebirds. The only redeeming feature of this was that he didn't say the word "WrestleMania" before the word "moment," but even that one bit of good was undone by JBL having to immediately say "what a WrestleMania moment" as soon as King was done speaking. That was also the first thing out of Cole's mouth once they kicked it back over to the Raw announcers. Speaking of the Raw announcers, Byron Saxton appears to have borrowed his outfit from Juan Francisco de Coronado.
Seth Rollins vs. Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon) - 9.25/10
Hunter's entrance consisted of him driving a goofy looking motorcycle-esque thing down the ramp very slowly and with a police escort. I guess it technically was a motorcycle because it wasn't a car and it had wheels and was motorized, but it actually had three wheels instead of two, so it's also technically a tricycle. Yeah. That's right. Triple H's big WrestleMania entrance was him riding a tricycle down to the ring. Seth's "special entrance" was that he used a torch to turn the digital image on the ramp and canvas into flames.
The story here was obviously Seth's knee, and they did a phenomenal job with it. Pick a body part and stick with it is not only the easiest story there is but also the most effective. They also had a little story about battling over the Pedigree that led to some great nearfalls. Steph took her bump for the year by having Rollins kick Hunter into her to knock her off the apron and through a table. This distracted Hunter and gave Rollins time to recover a bit (throwing the kick hurt his injured knee) so when Hunter turned around he got hit with a kick to the gut and a pedigree for the win. I'm not sure why Hunter didn't just do the clean job here, as this finish doesn't really lead to anything.
CONCERT BATHROOM/PIZZA, JACK DANIELS BREAK - Refreshing.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Bray Wyatt(c) vs. Randy Orton - 4/10
Oh look. They have a snake graphic for Randy to walk down the ramp with. At least I hope that's a snake and not Vince McMahon's mental image of Braun Strowman's sperm. Okay. Good. Close-up confirms that it's a snake and not a gamete.
During the match Bray used his "magic" to project the image of a bunch of gigantic maggots on the ring canvas. This was supposed to be creepy and impressive, and maybe it would have been if they hadn't tipped their hand that they had this technology IN THE PREVIOUS MATCH. Now they doing it again. Dear G-d. I hope this match ends with Randy Orton stabbing Bray in the heart with a Crusyx and Bray exploding like a vampire in True Blood so I never have to deal with this idiotic bullsh*t again. The crowd is pretty quiet now. JBL tries to spin that they're creeped out, but it seems a lot more likely to me that this stupid magical bullsh*t killed them.
Oh. Now the crowd is back because they can do their stupid "TEN!" chants. Finishers on the outside that don't feel significant. Sister Abigail inside the ring. Kick out. More stupid Wyatt magic. RKO... THAT'S IT?! Really? Ten minutes? Well that was lame.
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH:
Goldberg(c) vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) - 4.25/10
HOLY SH*T THAT VIDEO PACKAGE WAS AMAZING! Goldberg hit a bunch of finishers but Brock kicked out, then dodged a spear and hit a bunch of suplexes and an F-5 and won. It's WrestleMania, and out two world title matches combined barely went fifteen minutes. Meanwhile, Goldberg's total time in the ring during this four match run in which he won and lost the WWE Universal Title comes in at under thirty minutes. I feel kind of cheated here. Like not having a long match at WrestleMania makes the previous short matches pointless and robs me of the pay-off that they should have been building to.
SIX PACK CHALLENGE FOR THE WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Alexa Bliss!(c) vs. Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Mickie James vs. Becky Lynch vs. Carmella (w/James Ellsworth) - 4.5/10
They did what they could with the short time they were given, telling the standard multi-person match story of there always being someone there to break up the fall. Naomi got the win when she dove onto everyone on the outside to take them all out then rolled Alexa into the ring for a finishing sequence that ended with her making Alexa tap out to win the Smackdown Women's Title in her home town.
Oh. Whoops. I forgot to factor in the -10 modifier for Alexa Bliss! losing the title. The new final rating for this match is -5.5/10. This show is really starting to go downhill.
NEW DAY ANNOUNCE THAT THEY BROKE THE CITRUS BOWL ATTENDANCE RECORD - Even if I did believe this, I still wouldn't give a sh*t, but at least this time it wasn't proceeded by Dwayne spending twn minutes whacking off to himself in public.
NO HOLDS BARRED MATCH:
Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker - 7.5/10
Apparently this match is now No Holds Barred. If I remember correctly, the last time a WrestleMania main event was randomly made No Holds Barred, Steve Austin turned heel. Hm...
Oh. Yeah. Jim Ross came out to call the match. He was good at times, but also said things like "that was a toxic kick, let me tell you."
I guess someone told Taker that Roman didn't eat dinner tonight because Taker fed him quite a number of potatoes during this match. The match was very hard-fought and brutal with some great false finishes. There were one or two spots that didn't quite work physically (you'll know exactly what I mean), but on the whole, the match was pretty darn great. Roman won, and they took the precaution of all but muting the crowd for the finish.
They turned the crowd back up once Roman left for the "THANK YOU TAKER!" part of our program. Taker took off his gloves and left them in the ring... but hey, he did that last year, too, and still came back, right?
Oh crap. There goes the coat and the hat. And he actually acknowledged McCool and their daughter on his way to the back. I'll still hold out hope, but odds are that that was the final match for one of the greatest wrestlers of all time.
This was, overall, a decent show, but still a disappointing one. Hunter vs. Rollins was excellent and the US Title match and the main event were both quite great and AJ vs. Shane exceeded expectations, but a lot of the other stuff just plain didn't get enough time (the mixed tag maybe got about enough time, but that one was definitely just Cena and Miz dropping the ball). The main show went FIVE HOURS... and less than half of that was wrestling. And it's not like they were wasting time with celebrity appearances or stupid New Day backstage segments because they didn't. It just took them F*CKING FOREVER to get from match to match. Cut your f*cking video packages down! I think the Brock vs. Taker video package might have been longer than the actual match, and the one for Bray vs. Randy probably wasn't but certainly felt like it was. Both women's matches would have benefited GREATLY from an addition five minutes, and really both the Raw Women's Title match and the US Title match should have been in the vicinity of twenty minutes (and the women's match probably should have been in the 20-25 range). Both world title matches also should have gone a good ten minutes or so longer than they did. This show felt like WrestleMania half of the time, but the other half it felt like a random episode of Smackdown where they are crunched for time.
Creatively this also had some issues. The first half of the show had finishes that were either baffling or frustrating, or often both, especially based on the build for many of the matches, and whoever came up with that stupid idea for Orton vs. Wyatt should be flogged. The fact that they didn't have anything for Samoa Joe to do is quite damning as well, although at least that could be turned into an angle on Raw where he gets pissed off because of. Combine that with a lack of cool entrances, the mixed tag and the two world title matches all but bombing, and the expected but no less of a downer ending that was Roman beating Taker (and the frustration of WWE muting the crowd until Roman was safely gone because Vince has taken this "ROMAN REIGN IS THE GOING TO BE OUR TOP BABYFACE" thing to the point of stubborn obsession, and this show still managed to feel disappointing, despite having a number of great matches.