WrestleMania 33 Recap:
The WWE’s biggest show of the year is in the books (as are the RAW and SmackDown Live reactions shows). Here, I’m going to run down the WrestleMania 33 card with my thoughts, and get you set for the ‘WWE New Year’ that started Monday night.
Here we go:
Neville (c) beat Austin Aries (Cruiserweight Championship Match)
This was really the best actual wrestling match on the show. It had a ton of call backs to both Neville’s proclamations since his return and A-Double’s advice from his time on commentary (‘I’d just put a thumb in his eye, Mauro’).
Neville got the win by raking the reconstructed eye-socket while in the clutches of Aries submissions maneuver, Last Chancery.
What I liked: These guys are both great. They mixed the prototypical cruiserweight ‘flippiness’ with a lot of brutal strikes. This program continues into the ‘new year’, and I’m excited for it.
What I didn’t like: This match didn’t deserve the pre-show treatment. But aside from that, I don’t have many problems with this one.
Mojo Rawley won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Mojo’s buddy, Rob Gronkowski, got involved in this. He obliterated Jinder Mahal, and helped Mojo win the fourth edition of this battle royal. It did nothing for Cesaro and Big Show in the year after their victory, but served as the call-up announcement and breakout for Baron Corbin.
What I liked: I liked the way they involved Gronk, because they’ve built up this friendship for a year or so over various programming. Plus, the Killian Dain addition was great.
What I didn’t like: I wished they had left Braun Stroman and Big Show in for extra beefy action. Other than that, this match doesn’t really hold a place in my heart.
Dean Ambrose (c) beat Baron Corbin (Intercontinental Championship Match)
Corbin dropped a forklift fork on Ambrose. Dean rode a forklift to interrupt a match Baron had with Randy Orton. This match took a few minutes of pre-show time and didn’t give us much.
What I liked: They kept the title on Ambrose, which with the possible ‘Superstar Shake-up’ coming (more on that later), is a good idea. Other than that, this match disappointed.
What I didn’t like: They had a match on the biggest show of the year, and didn’t do much. Then they had a (non-title) rematch two days later on SmackDown Live in a street fight. The match was brutal and great. Why is it in the ‘didn’t like’ pile, you ask? When you ready my SmackDown Live recap down below, you’ll see that this great TV match got buried by a lot of goings on over the rest of the show.
AJ Styles beat Shane McMahon
After the show was over, both Styles and McMahon got the majority of the praise for their showing. That’s equal parts good and bad. Other matches were better, but get less praise because we expected those matches to be good, not so with this one.
What I liked: The fact that Shane McMahon actually WRESTLED! I liked that. AJ Styles, as predicted, made Shane look like a million bucks, but Shane-o-Mac held his own. He grappled, he strikes didn’t look ridiculous, he countered big spots by AJ into pretty good looking submissions.
What I didn’t like: This is a little smarky of me, but when the next WrestleMania comes around, AJ Styles will be closing in on 41. With a finite number of matches in a 40-year old body, did you really need to waste one against Shane McMahon?
Kevin Owens beat Chris Jericho (c) (United States Championship Match)
The former best friends fought for the US title in a solid match that would have been a good one on a lesser card.
What I liked: Jericho had a giant ‘List of Jericho’ on his entrance.
What I didn’t like: This match deserved a better payoff than it gave. A lot of that is on the card around it, but also that I feel this dragged a little too long.
Bayley (c) beat Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, and Nia Jax (RAW Women’s Championship Match)
Three of the Four Horsewomen conspired to eliminated Jax early in this one. Nia got some offense in, looking like a monster, before being shown the door. Sasha came next, and then Bayley successfully defended against Charlotte.
What I liked: The team-up to eliminate Jax was cute, as was the exposed turnbuckle spot that saw Sasha knocked out.
What I didn’t like: I would have like this match to go a little longer, but it got the job done with the babiest of babyfaces coming out of Orlando with the title.
The Hardy Boyz beat The Club (c), Cesaro and Sheamus, and Enzo and Cass (RAW Tag Team Championship Match)
Well, it was rumored for a week or so, and they actually DID show up. The once and again Hardy Boyz were a late add to this match, and showed off a lot of their craziness. Jeff did a 20-foot swanton thru both Cesaro and Sheamus, and that was really all she wrote. A short, but intense and violent affair saw the veterans get the belts, leaving the other teams salivating.
What I liked: They brought back all of the Hardy’s big spots in ladder matches, which are always fun. And no one came out injured.
What I didn’t like: I hope the RAW Tag Team scene is as good as chasing the belts as the Hardy’s are at winning them, or this can get old quick.
Nikki Bella and John Cena beat The Miz and Maryse
Welp, I totally poopooed the proposal, and boy was I wrong. This was quick, and pretty much a set up for the question.
What I liked: I will never not like the dual finishers from John and Nikki.
What I didn’t like: I’m not sure Maryse was ready to go, because the women didn’t do much sadly.
Seth Rollins beat Triple H (Non-Sanctioned Match)
They really played up the bad knee. And the really played up the fact that Triple H bequeathed his finisher (The Pedigree) to Rollins, as they both tried a handful. I hope this is the end of Triple H and Rollins one-on-one, because I’m kind of over.
What I liked: Stephanie McMahon getting wrecked the last two WrestleMania’s (Roman’s spear in 2016, and H’s accidental bump thru the table this year) is always great.
What I didn’t like: If you have to sign a waiver to compete on a bad knee, should you really being doing all the big spots?
Randy Orton beat Bray Wyatt (c) (WWE Championship Match)
This match had a fantastic eight month or so build to it, and ended with a whimper. Orton is now a 13-time champion, and Bray Wyatt kind of looks like a guy who can’t get it done one-on-one.
What I liked: The maggots and worms and roaches superimposed on the ring.
What I didn’t like: The maggots and worms and roaches superimposed on the ring.
Brock Lesnar beat Goldberg (c) (WWE Universal Championship Match)
They ran really four moves in this match: German suplexes and F-5’s from Lesnar, and Spears and Jackhammers from Goldberg. After about five minutes, Brock had done enough screwing with Oldberg, and put the bald man down.
What I liked: I love the spear thru the barricade. And Brock leap-frogging another was awesome.
What I didn’t like: These two guys can’t really work a good wrestling match.
Naomi beat Carmella, Mickie James, Natalya, Becky Lynch, and Alexa Bliss (c) (SmackDown Women’s Championship Match)
To be honest, I’ve watched this match three times, and I’ve forgotten it almost immediately.
What I liked: The new submission by Naomi, helped by the flexibility of Bliss, looked awesome.
What I didn’t like: Six women fighting a five-minute match brings a lot to not like.
Roman Reigns beat The Undertaker
The Dead Man looked great early on, but ran out of steam. Too stubborn to quit, ‘Taker needed to be put down by The Big Dog, and he was.
What I liked: I liked the way they worked this story: ‘Taker’s mind wouldn’t be convinced that his body couldn’t do it anymore.
What I didn’t like: This match should have been three years ago.
With WWE New Year’s Day being the Monday after WrestleMania, here is who you need to know:
The WWE New Year always starts the day after WrestleMania. And the ‘E has made it into an event. This year, BOTH Monday and Tuesday were big events.
On Monday, Vincent Kennedy McMahon made an announcement that a ‘Superstar Shake-up’ is coming the week of April 10. It’s not a draft, but with each RAW and SmackDown Live having rosters independent of each other, talent can be traded and/or acquired by other means. We’ll see what this means next week.
With the WWE New Year comes new talent brought up from NXT, the developmental brand. Monday saw the promotion of the best tag team from NXT, and really one of the best in the entire WWE, The Revival. Dash and Dawson are a call-back to old school tag teams. Their tagline: ‘No Flips. Just Fists’ really typifies their style. And they are classic bad guys, too. Super entertaining.
Tuesday saw the promotion of two more NXT Superstars, and two different type of guys. First was Tye Dillinger. The Perfect 10 had toiled in developmental for years, winning fans over with the ‘Ten’ chants whenever numbered chants are called for. He’s in his mid-30s, and finally in the big time.
The other addition to the Blue Brand: The King of Strong Style, Shinsuke Nakamura. Swagsuke spent a little over a year in NXT, but ruled New Japan for years. He’s closing in on 40, and finally in the American big time. These guys are awesome, each in their own right.
Top Ten Wrestlers of the Week
10. Aleister Black
9. Mojo Rawley
8. Kevin Owens
6. The Revival
5. Hardy Boyz
4. Roman Reigns
3. Randy Orton
1. AJ Styles
Promo of the Week
It’s gotta be Roman Reigns, right? After a good five-minute ‘Undertaker’ chant Monday night at SmarkMania, Reigns made his way to the ring. He was booed, cursed, booed, asked to leave, told to leave, cursed again, and then booed every time he raised the mic to his mouth. Then, after about 15-minutes of just crowd noise, Reigns started Raw, and nearly started a riot, with just five words:
“This is my yard now!”
Mic drop, end of Roman for the night. Damn, this was a great segment (cursing notwithstanding).