The set is absolutely garish, just beating out Byron's suit for the biggest eye-sore on the pre-show. Goldust's tribute gear to his father's polka-dots is in third, with Renee Young's dress not far behind, and Lawler's bow-tie in a distant but notable fifth place.
ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYALE - DUD!
This was so boring that I was actually HAPPY when they cut away from it to show us the Brock vs. Roman video package for the 2,309,258th time this week. The only things I popped for were Kane eliminating people and Mojo eliminating Ryder with a POUNCE.
The finish went as follows: We were down to just Matt Hardy, Mojo Rawley, and Baron Corbin. Mojo and Corbin teamed up on Matt and threw him over the top rope, but while he was still in mid-air, Bray Wyatt did his magic, and when the lights came back on, Matt was back in the ring, and so was Bray. Bray helped Matt eliminate first Mojo, and then Corbin to win the match... except the fans didn't react to this because they- and the announcers, and I- all thought that Bray was a legal participant in the match now. Then the bell rang and it turns out that he wasn't. So after all that, Bray Wyatt is still the same (to steal a quote from Filthy Tom) "fat dirty wizard" that has been run completely into the ground, but now he's friends with Matt Hardy... and the fans are now chanting "THANK YOU WYATT!" because they're so happy that Matt Hardy won a battle royale that will do such great things for your career that the winners from the past two WrestleManias were the two men Matt eliminated last to win this very match.
This was boring, pointless, and had a finish that means that I have to deal with Bray Wyatt on a weekly basis again. Uch. Even fate hated this match, as when WWE decided to cut to show us John Cena sitting and watching in the crowd, the wrestlers were about to do their big spot where Corbin would toss one guy onto a huge pile of guys on the floor, so the camera missed it. Matt Hardy was the winner of the Andre The Giant Memorial Boring Royale, but I think we can all agree that just by participating in this prestigious match, all of these WWE Superstars are losers.
CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE TOURNAMENT FINALS:
Mustafa Ali vs. Cedric Alexander - 6.75/10
Someone tell Ali that if he wants to Cosplay as War Machine he shouldn't be wearing a light-up Shredder mask. The match was fine for the time it got, but was a HUGE disappointment after everything we've seen in this tournament so far. That last spot they did where Cedric was begging Ali to stay down came off as horrifically overdramatic. They've only been wrestling for twelve minutes and yet their acting as if they've been wrestling for forty-two.
WOMEN'S BATTLE ROYALE - 3.5/10
They've got three-quarters of the female NXT roster in there just to fill out space. Becky, Sasha, and one or two others got their own entrances, just to so you know that the others are all total jobbers. But before we got to the match, we've got to see a preview for the movie about Paige's family... and of course that the preview for the movie about Paige's family is all about The Rock.
They did a bit at the beginning where they would all team up on one woman who would wind up in the middle. It was dumb, but at least they're trying something other than punch-kick. Now we get a spot where the NXT women beat the main roster women down and tried to start an NXT chant because apparently that's a distinction I'm supposed to give a sh*t about.
The story- yes, and actual story!- then turned to The Riott Squad working together to dominate the match. Sasha and Bayley had to team up to defeat them. They looked like they were going to be shake hands but Bayley turned it into whipping Sasha over the top rope to win the match.
And then it turned out that Naomi was never eliminated and was just hiding on the outside like a coward so she got into the ring and eventually eliminated Bayley. This last bit was horrendously counter-productive. Winning does jack sh*t for Naomi, the way she won makes her look bad, and the whole thing takes attention away from the Sasha and Bayley story, which was the only story there was going into this match, and the one the match seemed designed around. I would have probably given this match a 4/10 without this one stupid decision.
Beth Phoenix was fine on commentary. Paige was also on commentary because she isn't wrestling in this match for absolutely no reason that we have ever been given in kayfabe.
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
The Miz(c) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor - 6.75/10
You know what? Forget what I said before The Miz's entrance gear is the most garish thing in this arena, BY FAR. That being said, I'm sure that by the end of the night it will have been exceeded by the CGI graphics they've added to some of the entrances. The Miz-tourage came out with Miz but he sent them to the back for no reason.
Finn Balor, the guy with the coolest entrance in wrestling, for his first WrestleMania... got a bunch of fans wearing his t-shirt and jumping around like dorks in the crowd on the stage with him. I don't care if the shirt promotes LGBT inclusion. You have video packages to fill out the pointlessly long time between matches to tell me that. Don't turn a potentially cool entrance into something totally banal just to put over your own PR.
Maybe it's because I've been watching wrestling virtually non-stop since 9pm last night (Evolve 102 & 103,, Mercury Rising 2018, Matt Riddle's Bloodsport, Takeover, the PWG show from February, and I'm halfway through Supercard of Honor), but this match really didn't click with me that much. It was very good, but a good chunk of their biggest spots just felt too forced and choreographed.
WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Charlotte Flair(c) vs. Asuka - 8.75/10
Charlotte's entrance included a big golden throne with golden gear and, for some reason, Roman centurions, who were also dressed in gold. This would have been cool if I hadn't already seen Goldust tonight, so now all I can think of when I see this is Charlotte going to Goldust for advice on fashion and interior decorating.
This match started off awesome and only got more awesome as time went on. Asuka worked over Charlotte's shoulder while Charlotte just tried anything she could do within the rules to survive. That final spot with Charlotte having to lift her arm up while applying the figure 8 because she was too weak to post on it but then trying to use that arm to hold up her other arm was Omega vs. Naito-esque.
(That all being said, I would have greatly preferred it if they didn't have Asuka cut a goofy promo afterwards letting us all know that "Charlotte was ready for Asuka." The hug or a handshake or [preferably] merely raising Charlotte's hand was all that was necessary.)
Booking-wise it probably would have been more productive to have Asuka win here and let Becky be the one the break her streak at SummerSlam
After this match we cut to John Cena's seat, where a referee was telling him something that caused him to hop the guardrail and run to the back. I assume this means the match with The Undertaker is on, but I know for sure it means that we'll no longer be cutting to Cena IN THE MIDDLE OF F*CKING TITLE MATCHES.
WWE UNTIED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Randy Orton(c) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal (w/Sunil Singh) vs. Rusev (w/Aiden English) - 6.25/10
And our hopes are dashed again, Jinder Mahal pins Rusev, revealing that Rusev wasn't added to this match because WWE heard our pleading and wanted to reward Rusev for getting over; Rusev was added to this match because WWE wanted Jinder to win another belt, but didn't actually want to beat Orton or Roode. The match was a fine multi-person match, but it wasn't in any way great, and the finish was a huge let-down.
DUMB BACKSTAGE SKIT WITH MICK FOLEY & THE FASHION POLICE - This turned out to be a Snickers commercial, but the fact that I couldn't tell the difference until they put the Snickers logo on the screen is pretty damning of the level of intelligence in WWE comedy skits.
MIXED TAG TEAM MATCH:
Triple H & Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey - 4.5/10
Hunter & Steph came down to the ring on motorcycles. Again. Come up with something new. And having some female friends on your motorcycle don't count.
Cole told us that the only two people to have ever started in UFC and then transitioned to WWE are Ken Shamrock and Ronda Rousey. I guess we're just going to ignore Dan Severn and Daniel Puder then?
This was basically perfect for what it was, with Hunter and Steph essentially exploiting pro wrestling tricks to illegally double-team Kurt while keeping the women out of the ring because they knew that if they didn't, Ronda would obliterate Steph in short order. This did a great of actually playing into the story of the feud and allowing Ronda and Steph to be a part of the story rather than the men having a match and then Ronda and Steph doing their few spots at the end for the finish, which would have made it feel like they were trying to protect Ronda's lack of pro wrestling skills from being exposed. Eventually Kurt was able to make the hot tag and the men pretty much disappeared so that the ladies could do their few spots with Ronda murdering Steph...
And then the match just kept on going for, like, fifteen more minutes! And it just kept going downhill as it went on. There was no need for Steph to get any real offense in, and absolutely no need for this to go as long as it did. There was no reason or Ronda to beat Hunter up again, and in the context of the match- and especially as the announcers were trying to portray it, with the referee In the McMahons' pocket- it was completely stupid because Ronda should have been disqualified for attacking Hunter. A Mixed Tag Team Match means that you're not allowed to attack a member of the opposite sex. That's why Ronda had to keep attacking Kurt behind the referee's back.
And how about Ronda's armbar on Hunter for a false finish? How can that possibly be a false finish if it's not even a LEGAL finish? Ronda can't make Hunter tap out to win the match because the very rules of the match prevent them from being legal competitors at the same time! And how did they set up this spot? Hunter has Ronda hooked for the Pedigree- his super-finisher that almost never gets kicked out of, and he's got this woman who weighs about 130lbs less than he does locked in for it... and instead of hitting the move he just randomly decides to try for a powerbomb this one time instead... and lo and behold Ronda uses a hurricanrana to reverse it into an armbar. Even when they lose cleanly, the egos of the McMahons can cause havoc with the booking of a show. In what universe was it a good idea for this match to go close to twenty-one minutes but the match where Asuka's streak is broken to only go thirteen? Take twelve minutes from this match and give five of them to the US Title match (which only went 8:15) and the other seven to Asuka vs. Charlotte and then you're talking.
WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Usos(c) vs. The Bludgeon Brothers vs. The New Day (w/Xavier Woods) - 4.75/10
I'm not even going to dignify the stupidity of New Day's entrance by ranting on it. It was dumb. That's all there is to say.
A very blah match in which the small men (and Big E.) failed to defeat the big men. These guys put on awesome tag matches all year and are rewarded by being treated as fodder on the WrestleMania card.
JOHN CENA COMES OUT TO THE RING - And then a second referee runs down to the ring and apparently tells him the match isn't happening. Cena gets angry and starts to head to the back but the lights go off! And when they come back on...
THE DRIFTER is on the stage. I laughed my ass off at this. This was such an epic troll-job. The Drifter sings a song burying both Cena and Taker, then Cena beats him up.
So Cena heads to the back but the lights go out again. At this point I was hoping for Sting or maybe even Sabu. When they came back on Taker's gear was in the ring. Then it got hit by magical lightning and the gong sounded. That seems to narrow our possibilities down, so now I'm hoping for Brian Lee with Ted DiBiase. Instead we got the real Undertaker making his entrance on the stage.
Seriously, though... WHAT THE WAS THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS? All they did here was f*ck with the audience. What is the benefit to that?
JOHN CENA vs. THE UNDERTAKER - DUD!
Um... what the f*ck was that? Undertaker got all of his sh*t in, Cena avoided a chokeslam, hit one move, went for the Five Knuckle Shuffle but Taker sat up, Cena got chokeslammed, Tombstone Piledriven, and pinned. What the f*ck happened to my epic wrestling match?
I understand the idea of Taker coming back and getting a dominant win in the place where he suffered his first loss and exorcising his demons, so to speak, but are you really going to waste a John Cena WrestleMania match on that? And after weeks of promising me something epic, then giving me this? NO! If you want Taker to squash someone, having him beat Mayor Kane or do a quick angle with him and Rhyno or something like that. Five minutes of Taker and Rhyno sounds fun. Giving me Taker squashing Cena after wasting about fifteen minutes of TV a week trying to get me interested in this match has me legitimately feeling trolled now.
I just caught sight of Graves's suit. I'm not sure if it's worse than Byron's but it's close.
IF KEVIN OWENS & SAMI ZAYN WIN, THEY ARE REHIRED:
Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn vs. Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan - 6.5/10
Owens & Zayn came out of the crowd and jumped Shane & Bryan from behind. Bryan gets powerbombed onto the apron, and they're teasing him not being able to wrestle. Enough of this sh*t. We got him not wrestling for THREE YEARS. We all know this spot is a total f*cking work, so all it's doing is pissing me off because I now have to wait EVEN LONGER to see Bryan wrestle again.
Shane is willing to wrestle by himself like the brave boy he is... and of course Shane McMahon with his umbilical hernia and his diverticulitis, is beating up both heels on his own. They're getting a stretcher for Bryan now. Owens & Zayn have finally taken over the match, reminding me how pathetic Shane's selling is. Shane is making his own f*cking comeback now, with no Daniel Bryan anywhere in sight. Shane is the one with the diverticulitis, but I'm then one getting sick now.
Bryan eventually comes back, gets the hot tag, gets beaten down, makes a comeback... and makes Sami Zayn tap out. WHAT THE F*CK?! So Owens and Zayn are now forever fired and can't be rehired, right? That has been the whole explanation for why they couldn't just go to Raw (even though earlier in the angle they could), so that should still apply now right? Instead of them winning their way back onto the roster by beating old, sickly, bad wrestler and bad authority figure who has never been right once in this entire feud Shane McMahon, they lose.
How much money do you think they wasted on that completely pointless pyro display including the one OUTSIDE OF THE STADIUM when they announced the attendance number?
WWE RAW WOMEN'S TITLE MATCH:
Alexa Bliss!(c) (w/Mickie James) vs. Nia Jax - 5/10
Nia destroyed Mickie, then destroyed Alexa for a while until Alexa went for her eyes. Alexa got some offense in but Nia made her comeback. Alexa kept saving herself by going for the eyes but Nia hit a Super Samoan Drop to win the title from Alexa. They had one good sequence in here where Alexa basically tried a bunch of Lucha counters on Nia in a row but Nia out-powered her to prevent all of them. Oh. Right. I forgot to add the "Alexa Bliss! loses the title" modifier. Final rating for this match is -5/10
After her victory The Rock's Cousin Nia Jax celebrates with members of The Rock's (and also her) family such as The Rock's Mother and The Rock's Daughter. The Rock The Rock The Rock.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
AJ Styles(c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura - 8.75/10
AJ worked the knee while Nakamura worked the head. Lots of great storytelling in here, and Nakamura's selling was excellent. Nakamura pulling out the Landslide was pretty cool. An awesome match, but Charlotte vs. Asuka just edges it out for Match of the Night so far.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - F*CKING AWESOME! We have a much-needed new top heel on Smackdown.
WHO IS BRAUN STROWMAN'S TAG TEAM PARTNER? - He says he's going to pick a fan. If he's smart and he's seen Twitter in the past few hours he'll go up to the balcony to find Minoru Suzuki.
Okay, guys. That's enough. The joke's over. You're not actually going to do this, are you? Oh my G-d he just picked a literal child out of the audience. Are you trying to tell me that Braun Strowman went up to Kurt Angle and said "I'll pick a fan out of the crowd to be my partner and Kurt said "okay!" No waiver, no okay from the company or the Louisiana State Athletic Commission to let AN UNTRAINED MINOR WRESTLE.
WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
Sheamus & Cesaro(c) vs. Braun Strowman & Nicholas - DUD!
Braun got shined up, then the heels cut him off. HE made a comeback and they did a double-down and the kid actually got tagged in... except it shouldn't have counted because he wasn't holding the tag rope. This is what happens when you work with amateurs. He tagged right back out, then Braun hit the powerslam for a win. He has now defeated the entire tag team division by himself, and Nicholas the ten year old from the 38th row in section D is now one half of the WWE RAW Tag Team Champions. Title ruined. Division dead. If I'm The Revival, I quit tomorrow morning.
This was atrocious for all of the reasons I've already stated, but the most infuriating part is that we'll have to spend the next fifty years hearing about how this was "one of the greatest WrestleMania Moments of all time," and the only reason for all of it is because WWE wants to manufacture a PR moment... and PR like this doesn't actually change people's opinions about wrestling so this gains them nothing and just pisses off fans. I hope this somehow comes back to bite them, like it turns out the kid is a Nazi or a drug dealer or something like that which would be a total PR disaster. That would serve them right.
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH:
Brock Lesnar(c) (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns - 4.25/10
Everyone hates Roman, so this scheme, too, has failed. Just like the fifty before it. I hope Brock double-crosses them and retains the title by force, then just runs out of the building through the crowd.
They fight on the outside forever with no count-out. The crowd is chanting for CM Punk. Brock starts to get an advantage and hits a bunch of F-5s but Roman keeps kicking out. They did this, like, eight times. Everyone just kept booing. The crowd is now paying attention to something off camera. Twitter later confirms to me that it's beach balls. Now they're chanting "THIS IS AWFUL." Not sure if that's beach ball-related or because Roman is currently winning. Roman is GUSHING blood all over the ring. And... HOLY F*CK BROCK JUST PINNED ROMAN. Shock of the finish aside, this match was repetitive and boring.
I should be excited about this finish, but honestly, I'm not. This grand plan to get Roman over failed, just like all of the others before it, but I have no faith that the next one won't start tomorrow. I already sat through a year of absentee champion Brock defending the title once every few months in matches that didn't even go ten minutes all to build up to Roman kicking out of an F-5 at WrestleMania and beating Brock, and the light at end of the tunnel was that after tonight it would be over and while Roman would be the champion and top babyface even though no one likes him at least something new would be happening. Now I'm not even sure.
This was a very disappointing WrestleMania from WWE. Many of the big matches just plain didn't deliver, and many of the booking decisions ranged from baffling to infuriating. WWE put on a ridiculous marathon that lasted over seven hours, and when it came down to it, quality-was, this was a two-match show. It just wasn't worth sitting through it.