“The Ultimate Thrill Ride” is finally here, and after an entertaining Hall of Fame ceremony and astonishing NXT TakeOver: Orlando, you can bet we were excited to see what WrestleMania had in store. Despite some of the bookings on this year’s event leaving fans anywhere from puzzled, frustrated, to downright upset, it still proved to be an amazing show, with some nice surprises along the way.
WARNING! There will be spoilers beyond this point.
The first match on the kickoff show was for the Cruiserweight Championship, with the King of the Cruiserweights, Neville, putting the gold on the line against Austin Aries. Now something that’s been bothering me since its announcement, was the fact that this was on the pre-show, with the quality of these two superstars easily being worthy of the main card. Nevertheless, the match we got was still amazing, as despite not putting it all out there, both Neville and Aries gave us some explosive moments. When it was all said and done, however, it was Neville leaving with the title, countering the Last Chancery with a rake to Aries previously injured eye, followed by the Red Arrow.
(7.5 / 10)
The second match to feature on the kickoff show was the fourth annual Andre the Giant Battle Royal, with this being a match that I always look forward to seeing. This year’s was, however, possibly the worse to date, as despite having the likes of Braun Stowman, Big Show and Sami Zayn (just to name a few) involved, it didn’t quite excite on the level of previous years. The main factor to this, for me, was the quick eliminations of Strowman and Big Show, with Zayn‘s elimination feeling rather irrelevant as well. That said there was some interesting moments during this match, with the involvement of New England Patriots Tight end, Rob Gronkowski, and Mojo Rawley dumping Jinder Mahal at the end turning things around slightly.
(4.5 / 10)
Following the news that the SmackDown Women’s title match would now be on the main show, there was inevitably something needed to fill this spot of the kickoff show. The match chosen to take this spot was the Intercontinental Championship match, with Baron Corbin looking to take the title from Dean Ambrose. Unfortunately this wasn’t completely unexpected (given the circumstances), but with the prestige the IC title has gained over the years, it really feels unfair to see it on the pre-show. Putting that aside, the match we got was rather good with both Corbin and Ambrose doing the best with the limited timeslot they were given. What let this down for me, however, was the way it ended, with the decision to have Ambrose counter the End of Days with the Dirty Deeds bringing the match to a rather abrupt ending.
(6 / 10)
Kicking off the main card in style, we had the Phenomenal One, AJ Styles, taking on SmackDown Live Commissioner Shane McMahon. Now if I’m being honest, I wasn’t expecting anything on the same level as most of Styles‘ matches, but what we got wasn’t far off. Seeing some surprisingly impressive wrestling maneuvers from Shane O’Mac, the early portion of this bought looked very much against the Phenomenal One. As things progressed, however, things would start to shift back to Styles. As even with a Coast to Coast and attempted elbow through the announce table, not to mention a surprise Shooting Star Press attempt, AJ would pick up the win following a Phenomenal Forearm.
(9 / 10)
The first title match on the main card came with Kevin Owens taking on former “best friend” and United States Champion, Chris Jericho, in a match with a lot of emotion heading into it. Given the slow build-up that this match has had over the last half a year, I was expecting something impressive, with neither wrestler disappointing. Despite not being the best we’ve seen from either wrestler, it was still an outstanding match, with it looking as if it could easily have gone either way. It was, however, Kevin Owens that would be leaving your new United States Champion, pinning Jericho following a powerbomb to the ring apron.
(9 / 10)
Next up we got the fatal four-way elimination match for the Raw Women’s Championship, with Bayley putting the title on the line against Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax. Despite there being some impressive moments from three of the four women involved, the match as a whole felt rather too brief, with the eliminations coming a little too suddenly. The first elimination came early in the match, as with Nia dominating, the three remaining women realised they needed to team-up to beat the biggest competitor, piling on top of her following a triple powerbomb from the middle rope. Next it would be Sasha who would get eliminated after Charlotte countered a roll-up, pushing Sasha into an exposed turnbuckle. Charlotte would dominate most of the match after this, but when all was said and done, it was Bayley getting her WrestleMania moment, pinning the Queen following an elbow from the top rope.
(7 / 10)
In between this and the next match we got a quick round-up of this year’s Hall of Fame inductees, which included Kurt Angle, Diamond Dallas Page, Beth Phoenix, The Rock ‘n’ Roll Express (Ricky Morton and Robert Gibson), “Ravishing” Rick Rude, Theodore Long, as well as the latest recipient of the Warrior Award, Eric LeGrand.
Following this we got yet another title match, this time seeing the Raw Tag Team Championships defended in a fatal four-way ladder match. Involved we had champions, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson as they took on Enzo and Big Cass, Sheamus and Cesaro, as well as surprise entrants The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff). Easily one of the best ladder matches in recent WrestleMania history, this was well worth its spot on the main show, as even bar the surprise entrance of The Hardyz, the other three teams all gave us some explosive moments, using their environment perfectly. That said, I did feel we could have seen a little more from the Hardyz, as despite Jeff doing a Swanton Bomb from a 20 foot ladder to Sheamus and Cesaro (who were straddled on ladders) and Matt hitting Anderson with a Twist of Fate of a ladder, the spotlight was more on the other teams for the majority of the match. It was, however, The Hardy Boyz picking up the win, leaving a lot of fans in glee.
(9 / 10)
Next up we got John Cena and Nikki Bella against The Miz and Maryse, in a match that has seen some entertaining storytelling during it’s build-up. Overall this was a rather lackluster match, as following some initial taunting from The Miz we’d see The A-Lister control most of the match, with little offense from Cena. This would, however, change in the last few minutes of the match, as once Nikki Bella got involved things would go her team’s way, with the couple getting the win following an Attitude Adjustment from Cena to Miz and a Rack Attack from Nikki to Maryse. The drama wouldn’t end with the match though, as after a lot of speculation John Cena would propose to Nikki Bella, who off course said yes.
(5.5 / 10)
One of the more anticipated matches of this year’s WrestleMania saw Seth Rollins take on Triple H in a non-sanctioned match, with it having the longest build-up of all the matches on the card. Being possibly the best match of the night, this match certainly exceeded expectations, playing off the storyline that’s been set up between The King of Kings and Kingslayer perfectly. Capitalising off the injury that Rollins had coming into the match, Triple H would dominate the early portion of the match, working on the injured knee both inside and outside the ring. Despite this, the match wasn’t completely one-sided, with Seth turning things around at a couple of points during the match, eventually picking up the win following a Pedigree on a distracted Triple H (who had just accidentally knocked his wife, Stephanie McMahon through a table).
(9.5 / 10)
The first of our two main title matches came as Bray Wyatt put the WWE Championship on the line against Royal Rumble winner, Randy Orton. Given the slow build that this rivalry has had, with Orton even joining the Wyatt Family for a prolonged period, I was expecting something rather impressive from this match, and I can gladly say I wasn’t completely disappointed. To sum the match up in one word: weird. Taking the mind games to a whole new level, Wyatt would have pictures of worms and maggots projected onto the ring, with this naturally causing a sense of surprise from Orton. As for the action, it was generally quite impressive, as despite a sudden ending, the momentum generally moved back and forth. When all was said and done, however, it was Orton that left as the 13 time WWE Champion, pinning Wyatt following a RKO.
(7.5 / 10)
Next up we had the highly anticipated rematch between Brock Lesnar and Goldberg, with the former looking to make up for the quick loss at Survivor Series by taking Goldberg‘s Universal Championship away from him. Despite expecting this to be much better than Goldberg‘s previous matches since returning, I wasn’t anticipating anything quite as good as this. With it looking early on the Lesnar was going to get the upper hand, Goldberg quickly retaliated with a couple of spears inside the ring, followed by a third through the barricade outside. This would continue inside the ring, with Goldberg hitting a Jackhammer, looking to be all over for Lesnar. After kicking out, however, Lesnar turned things around, sending Goldberg to Suplex City and picking up the win following an F-5.
(8 / 10)
The penultimate match on the card was for the SmackDown Women’s Championship, with Alexa Bliss putting the title on the line against Becky Lynch, Mickie James, Carmela (w/James Ellsworth), Natalya and Naomi. Given the fact this was moved from the kickoff show to becoming the second last match on the main show, I was expecting something impressive from these six women wrestlers. Despite still being a relatively short match, being a little messy at times, it was nevertheless most deserving of its place on the main card. Allowing all six women to showcase their talent, the brief match left us guessing who would leave with the title. It was, however, hometown girl and former champion, Naomi, that would pick up the win, regaining the title she never lost.
(6.5 / 10)
The main event may not have been for any titles, but it was still a hotly anticipated contest, with the Undertaker and Roman Reigns battling to determine who’s yard this really is. Much like the Triple H/Seth Rollins match earlier on the show, this felt very much like a passing of the torch bought heading in. Despite not necessarily being one the Undertaker‘s best matches (even compared to recent years), this was still an impressive match, with the No Holds Barred stipulation allowing Reigns a way of coming off strong against Taker. This would definitely come into play later on in the match, as with Taker seemingly countering everything Roman threw with something equally impactful (including a chokeslam on a steel chair and Tombstone Piledriver), Reigns needed to use everything in his arsenal to overcome the Deadman. This would involve multiple steel chair shots, a spear through an announce table, as well as multiple spears and Superman Punches inside the ring, before finally pinning Taker after one final spear.
Following the match, Undertaker would put on his coat and hat, only then to take them off again along with his gloves, possibly symbolising that this is the end of his career.
(8.5 / 10)
WrestleMania 33 may not quite have been the spectacle that fans were hoping for, with poor finishes to certain matches ultimately what let them down. Nevertheless, there were some phenomenal matches at this years event, and along with a couple of surprises and a moving conclusion, it is certainly one that will live in our memories for years to come.