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Monday, 3 April 2017

Wrestlemania 33: Opinion blog

It's the most wonderful time of the year! That's right, Wrestlemania just happened last night and every wrestling fan around the globe will likely have watched it, even if they don't follow WWE's product through the rest of the year. I thought I'd share my thoughts on what was dubbed the "Ultimate Thrill Ride", so heeeeeere we go!

Source: Google Images

Wrestlemania Kick Off Show

Cruiserweight Championship match

Austin Aries vs. Neville (c)

This was a nice fast paced match to start things off with, pretty much what you would expect from both these men. These guys are two of the biggest personalities in the Cruiserweight division and delivered technically as well as aerially. Neville has really come into his own since turning heel, and him gouging Aries' eye in order to escape the Last Chancery was a brillant spot that Aries sold wonderfully. Neville finished the match with his signature Red Arrow to retain his belt.

Winner: Neville

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale

The world and it's mother would have bet on Braun Strowman to win this match so it was shocking to see him eliminated so early on along with the Big Show, who was dumped over the top rope by Strowman moments earlier. There was typical battle royale shenanigans up until the final three opponents, Mojo Rawley, Jinder Mahal and newcomer Killian Dain. Rawley and Mahal spilled to the outside where Mahal got in the face of Rob Gronkowski, who is an American footballer. Gronk jumped the barrier (one of the security guards missed their memo regarding this) and took care of Mahal. I had absolutely no idea who or what a Gronk was until the commentary team explained, so maybe this was more exciting for WWE's American fans or at least followers of American football. I wonder if there were more international fans as confused as I was...
Within minutes of Gronk's participation, Rawley had eliminated both Dain and Mahal to become this years' ATGMBR winner, which I can only assume means he is going to get some kind of singles push on Smackdown! Live, 

Winner: Mojo Rawley

Intercontinental Championship match

Baron Corbin vs. Dean Ambrose (c)

Once I saw that this match had been bumped to the pre-show I was a little bit sad that the IC title wouldn't be defended on the main show. Saying that, I felt like this was one of the weaker matches of the entire night, which is a shame because I'm a huge fan of Dean Ambrose and I think that Baron Corbin could be really really good. I think given the build to this match, where Corbin more or less almost killed Dean Ambrose using a forklift truck, I guess I felt like there could be more insanity involved - I know I'd be mega super duper pissed if someone had tried to kill me! I;d wanna use any weapon I could get my hands on! For me, this match lacked intensity, and I feel like they can do better than this together. If it were up to me, I'd have this feud continue after Wrestlemania and build to a gimmick match (last man standing maybe?) where Corbin can claim the IC belt. As it were, last night Ambrose hit Dirty Deeds for the pinfall victory.

Winner: Dean Ambrose

Wrestlemania 33

That's the kick off show done and it's now onto Wrestlemania 33! The hosts for the evening The New Day came out donned in Final Fantasy themed attire (I'm pretty sure their graphic on the screens depicted them riding a Chocobo). They hyped up the show, Big E made an innuendo like only Big E can before they got the crowd to chant "New Day rocks" and started dancing. I will never not find The New Day entertaining.

Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles

I was surprised to see this match up first but what an opener it was! Shane's wrestling ability in this match was a lot better than I was expecting it to be, although I suppose if you know you're getting in the ring with a man who is arguably the best wrestler in the world then you're gonna raise your game! The wrestling was solid and there were some incredible spots here - AJ hitting Shane with a baseball slide so hard that he flew over the announce table, Shane countering a 450 splash into a triangle choke and the nostalgia trip that was Shane hitting a Coast to Coast after a ref bump. My favourite part of the match though was Shane pulling off a Shooting Star Press, sadly for him though AJ moved out of the way of his landing and hit Shane with a Phenomenal Forearm to pick up the victory.

Winner: AJ Styles

US Championship match

Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho (c)

This match I DEFINITELY wasn't expecting to be on this early into the show, First of all, can we discuss Jericho's entrance for a moment? Not only was there a giant, inflatable list of Jericho, but he also came out wearing a light up scarf. I swear that man can pull off anything. Moving onto the match, this was every bit as good as I expected it to be. Owens was a superb antagonist, constantly taunting Jericho and at one point saving himself from defeat by placing literally one finger on the bottom rope to stop the referee counting to three. Jericho had some fantastic counters in this match, reversing Owen's cannonball into the Walls of Jericho and countering a Pop Up Powerbomb with a Codebreaker. Chris would eventually be pinned by Owens after taking a powerbomb on the ring apron, a move that I assume is going to write him out of WWE while he tours with Fozzy.

Winner: Kevin Owens

Raw Women's Championship Match (elimination fatal four way)

Bayley (c) vs. Nia Jax vs. Sasha Banks vs. Charlotte Flair

This might be me just nit picking, but Bayley came to the ring first for this match. Shouldn't the champion be the last one to enter? Anyway, this was a good match, although I am one of those people who didn't really care for Nia Jax being there. She did a good job and the match didn't damage what WWE are trying to build at all, but I just feel that Nia isn't on the same level as the other three girls who were in this match and I guess I would have rather the match had remained the triple threat that it originally was. Charlotte, Bayley and Sasha ganged up on Nia in order to eliminate her first, and then for me the match really began. Charlotte topped last year's moonsault from the top rope to the outside by adding a corkscrew element to it this - I swear she is hands down the most athletic superstar WWE has right now. I was really anticipating a Sasha heel turn in this match but it never happened. You can feel it coming and I love Sasha as a heel so I'm hoping it will happen tonight on Raw. Sasha was eliminated after Charlotte kicked out of an O'Connor roll up, causing Sasha to fly forward and hit her head on an exposed turnbuckle, laying her out for the three count. Bayley eventually picked up the win over Charlotte after hitting a sweet Macho Man Elbow Drop. I agree with the general consensus that this victory legitimises Bayley as the champion (she now has two PPV victories over Charlotte) but I also wish at the same time that she'd won the belt at Wrestlemania rather than on an episode of Raw, like they could have kept her as an underdog for a bit longer. As Renee Young pointed out during the kick off show, how can you be the underdog when you're the champion?

Winner - Bayley

After this match the inductees of the Hall Of Fame 2017 had their segment. This years' inductees were Diamond Dallas Page, The Rock N Roll Express, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, Beth Phoenix, Eric LeGrande (Warrior award recipient), Teddy Long and Kurt Angle. It feels so good hearing Kurt Angle's WWE theme being played again, and he is so deserving of his spot in the Hall of Fame. I'm also really happy to see Beth Phoenix inducted too, she's one of my favourite female wrestlers of all time and I just wish that she'd had better opponents to work with on the roster back when she was contracted to WWE. Imagine Beth Phoenix vs. Charlotte Flair!

Raw Tag Team Championship Match (Four Way Ladder match)

Enzo & Cass vs. Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Gallows & Anderson (c) vs. The Hardy Boyz

I knew there was speculation that the Hardy's would appear at 'Mania, but I 100% did not believe that it was going to happen. When the New Day came out to announce there would be a fourth team added to the match, I assumed they were going to insert themselves into it. Then the Team Xtreme music hit and I lost it. I marked out so hard. I am a woman of a certain generation, I will NEVER not mark out for the Hardy Boyz. I almost cried I was so happy. The icing on the cake is that they've let Matt continue his Broken gimmick, although I suppose there's a good chance he wouldn't have returned if they hadn't let him use his Broken gimmick.
The match itself was was really fun to watch and, of course, Jeff Hardy did a Swanton Bomb off a really tall ladder. I think the addition of the Hardys to the Raw tag division will spice things up nicely, and I'm really interested to see where things go from here.

Winners - The Hardy Boyz

Mixed Tag Team Match

The Miz & Maryse vs. John Cena and Nikki Bella

Honestly, I wanted more from this match. I know that it served its intended purpose but I still wanted more. I was disappointed that Maryse didn't actually wrestle aside from bumping around for Nikki Bella. I wasn't too fussed on Bella and Cena doing the Five Knuckle Shuffle and their respective finishers in sync, but I can accept that that's pretty much what this match was all about. After the match Cena proposed to Nikki, as rumoured, and I didn't hate it. Let's be honest, this was all for the sake of Total Divas/Total Bellas and I can't be mad at that.

Winners- John Cena & Nikki Bella

Non-Sanctioned Match

Triple H vs. Seth Rollins

I'm not gonna lie, I did cringe a lot bit at HHH's entrance. To me, it just comes off like he's having a mid-life crisis. But I'll tell you what, if I look like Stephanie McMahon when I'm 40 I'll consider that a massive personal success. Rollins' entrance was a lot less cringey, taking advantage of the light up floor to give the effect of him sending flames to the ring. This match was arguably the best match of the night. It was intense, it was hard to call who was gonna go over, the storytelling was SO on point and Seth did an excellent job of selling his knee. Stephanie McMahon accidentally being knocked off the apron and through a table by HHH was brilliant, the anger in his face just before he turned around into Rollins' Pedigree makes me think that this story is not over.

Winner - Seth Rollins

WWE Championship match

Bray Wyatt (c) vs. Randy Orton

 Another match where the champ came out first? This match fell a bit flat for me. To me, it felt like the type of match that happens when two dudes are literally just feuding over a belt and nothing else. If you didn't watch the hype package or know anything of the events leading up to this match, you wouldn't get the sense that this match was supposed to be personal. You wouldn't get that Bray Wyatt felt like he'd been betrayed by Randy Orton, you wouldn't know that Orton had more or less been brainwashed by Wyatt. The wrestling was good, I just felt like it lacked atmosphere. As for the maggots/cockroaches etc appearing on the canvas at points... we've seen better "supernatural" tricks from Bray Wyatt. It didn't even look like any kind of weirdy voodoo magic, it looked like images being projected onto the canvas (which is likely what it was). If it was my decision, I also wouldn't have put the belt on Orton at this point, I'd have kept it on Bray. Orton could still chase for the title, after all this is the first time that the pair have faced off. I just feel like Wyatt has far more to gain from being the champion than Randy Orton does at this point.

Winner - Randy Orton

WWE Universal Championship match

Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg (c)

Honestly? I didn't really care much for this match. Don't get me wrong, it was a good match, and it certainly delivered what a lot of other fans wanted from what I hear, but it just wasn't for me. I don't think I really cared too much for the story going into it, I wasn't a fan of WWE putting the belt on Goldberg, I don't think this match need the title involvement for what it was and that Jericho and Owens would have benefited a lot more from having the Universal belt involved in their angle than Lesnar and Goldberg did. The big story surrounding this match was whether Lesnar could get the job done against Goldberg as opposed to Lesnar actually wanting to be champion (although I suppose the Lesnar character is also not complaining that he's the champ). I just wasn't a fan of german suplex, spear, suplex, spear, suplex, suplex, F5, spear or whatever order the moves came in. That's just me - wrestling is ice cream and everyone prefers a different flavour.

Winner - Brock Lesnar

Smackdown! Women's Championship Match (Six Pack Challenge)

Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James vs. Carmella vs. Natalya vs. Naomi

By the time Lesnar/Goldberg rolled around a lot of people were speculating whether this match would get cut, thankfully it never. They didn't get an awful lot of time though, so I assume the show must have been running over. I do feel like this match was designed so that all the women on Smackdown's roster were booked at Wrestlemania rather than there being a good story behind it, but the match was good, we've certainly seen worse women's matches at Wrestlemania. Everyone had a decent role to play, and I did enjoy seeing James Ellsworth getting suplexed by Becky Lynch.  Naomi took this one in her hometown, catching Alexa Bliss in a new submission hold and forcing her to tap out.

Winner - Naomi

No Holds Barred Match

Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker

I'm gonna say it - I'm not mad at how this match turned out. Nope. We all suspected that this was going to be the Undertaker's last match - something I confirmed with myself when JR came out to take up announcing duties - and I see this match as a passing of the torch. I know a lot of people are mad because Roman didn't have an out and out heel turn, but I feel like it is definitely there, bubbling underneath the surface. There's nothing wrong with a slow burn, so long as the payoff is right. The match wasn't bad - it seemed a little clumsy in parts, but again, it achieved what it set out to do, It's been evident for the past couple of years, in my opinion, that the Undertaker is not the performer that he once was, and that retirement was likely around the corner for him. That's not to say his matches have been bad - but when you compare them to his classic matches of years gone by, you can definitely see that they're not at the same level. Still, despite knowing this and knowing for some time that his retirement was imminent, it was still emotional to watch. As he crumbled after an attempt to sit up towards the end of the match, it began to sink in that this really was it. There is a generation, maybe even two or three generations of fans who would have felt a great sadness as they watched him leaving his gloves, coat and hat in the ring, before disappearing up the ramp, throwing his fist in the air one final time.

Overall, I thought this was a great Wrestlemania. It certainly surpassed my expectations going into it and it definitely delivered some "Wrestlemania moments". The biggest highlight for me was obviously the return of the Hardy Boyz, largely unexpected and their performance in the ladder match didn't let me down. The worst part for me? Probably Ambrose vs. Corbin, because I am a massive fan of Ambrose and I just wanted this match to be so much better than what it actually was.

Did you see the show? Let me know what you think in the comments below.

Stacey Rose xx

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