WrestleMania 34 was one of the hardest Mania’s to watch in recent years. It had some exceptional moments and some good matches but overall was just a bit disappointing. There were some shocks, a few surprises and some atrocious booking. It truly is an intriguing one to unpack. Let’s cover it now with the good, the bad and the weird.
From an aesthetic standpoint, WrestleMania truly felt like the grandest stage of them all. The set was amazing and the production team used it to its fullest potential. There was some interesting usage of on-screen 3D graphics and a nice attention to detail in most superstar’s entrances and attires. The set also looked amazing utilising a carnival mask as the main feature of the stage and the entrance to the ramp. It also benefitted from having a much shorter ramp this time.
A WONDERFUL Partnership
The pre-show started with the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. There wasn’t a vast array of surprise entrants in this one. It was a fine opener, some fun spots, interesting team ups and questionable usage of people who could have been doing better things. The final three were Baron Corbin, Mojo Rawley and Matt Hardy. This could have been a wipe for Corbin until, the lights go out and boom, Bray Wyatt appears for the first time since his deletion. He then helps Matt win the match and the two go on their merry way. Though this sounds dumb, the crowd went wild for Wyatt and this could finally see Wyatt become relevant again. Here’s to hoping they do this right.
The Cruiserweights Get the Time to Shine
Again the pre-show provides some fun viewing as it played host to the final of the new cruiserweight champion tournament. Mustafa Ali and Cedric Alexander beat the hell out of each other whilst showing what the cruiserweights can do in the short time they were provided. The crowd was also heavily into it, which makes a change. Two Spanish flies, including one from the top rope and the 0-5-4 from Ali were just some of the big moves in this match.
Starting Out Strong
The main show started with the triple threat for the IC title. All three men in this match are main event players capable of pulling off amazing matches, which is exactly what they did. This was the perfect opening match for the main show as it was fast, technical and fun to watch. Miz was being the perfect heel, cutting off both Balor and Rollin’s offense with brutal precision. Both Balor and Rollins were pulling off the fast and fluid offense they’re known for. All three got time to shine and in the end after a flurry of finishers and some dramatic tension, Seth Rollins comes out as your new IC champion and a grand slam champion. Well-earned Seth well-earned.
A Technical Masterpiece
This is a difficult one to write about. From a wrestling stand point, this match was amazing. Asuka and Charlotte tried to destroy each other. There was some exceptional back and forth, some incredible reversals and some insane spots. For example Asuka reversed Charlotte’s moonsault into a triangle choke. There was a suplex from the apron to the floor and a Spanish fly from the top rope. The wrestling was amazing. Unfortunately this isn’t the last time this match comes up.
An Incredible Debut
When everyone first heard Ronda Rousey was debuting at WrestleMania, there was some apprehension. She is an incredible fighter but no one was quite sure how that would translate into the WWE style. Those fears were quashed. Ronda killed it, both the match and Triple H and Steph. The match started out with the Authority using heel tactics to keep Ronda out of the match and keep Kurt beaten. This just made Ronda finally beating up Steph all the more worthwhile. This match was way better than it had any right to be. Ronda looked like a bad ass; she was confident and comfortable in the ring without botching anything. It also showed inter-gender tag matches can be more than a novelty for WWE and overall shows it’s still fun to see Triple H and Steph getting beat up.
The Deadman is Back
The WWE are amazing trolls. Cena had been in the crowd all night until a ref draws him away. Later in the night he comes down to the ring, ready for a match. Enter Elias, proclaiming to be better than Taker and singing abuse at the crowd. Cena comes back, destroys Elias and storms back up the ramp. Lights go out and a single spotlight focuses on the ring. There is the Undertaker’s gear, almost untouched from last year’s mania. Lightning strikes and the gear is gone. Cena sells all of this. Then the gong hits and flame erupts from the stage. Undertaker is here, the real Undertaker. The match happens and Cena is squashed, Taker destroys him in about 3 minutes, finishing him with a single tombstone. This entire section was amazing. Taker was fighting exceptionally well, Cena sold amazingly and it’s going to be really interesting to see what happens next.
Yes! Yes! Yes!
It finally happened. Daniel Bryan has finally come back into a WWE ring. Sure he was only in it for half the match but how can you not be excited at the return of Daniel Bryan? Zayn and Owens were the perfect opposition for the returning Bryan, the crowd were ecstatic and you know that the yes chant was abundant amongst the crowd. It started off really slow with Bryan getting destroyed and Shane trying to valiantly fight off the two heels. This basically all set up for the hottest tag of the night and just like that, vintage Bryan takes over. Kudos to Shane for wrestling in his condition but the star here was Bryan, who looked like he hadn’t missed a beat. Welcome back, Daniel, welcome back.
Nakamura goes Heel
Nakamura lost last night. It was incredibly sad to see but alas he lost. However he did not take defeat lightly. Nakamura obliterated Styles after the match. He brutalised him with strikes and a Kinshasa on the outside. This is exactly what Nakamura needs. Nakamura needed some solid direction and now he hopefully has it. He can still be intense, he can still be popular but hopefully this new turn leads to a more brutal Nakamura.
Rusev Day doesn’t exist to WWE
Jinder Mahal is your new US champion. Jinder Mahal has another WWE belt. This match sucked. I refuse to sugar coat this match. It was slow, sluggish and short. Rusev tried to make it entertaining but even he couldn’t save this. Roode needs to go back to being a heel, Orton didn’t care about the match, he was just there and no one wants Jinder in a match. Rusev was the natural choice to win there. He is incredibly over and due some sort of proper programme. He is being wasted. Rusev ate the pin after being hit by the Khallas from Mahal; no wonder the crowd was dead for this match.
A Streak No More
Asuka’s streak is dead. Charlotte defeated Asuka with the figure eight in incredibly simple fashion. The finish to this match was incredibly underwhelming. After Charlotte was trapped in the Asuka lock for what felt like forever, Charlotte submitted Asuka in under a minute. The finish needed more build. There wasn’t enough working done to make the finish believable. After the match Asuka wasn’t angry, she wasn’t ready to lash out, she was just sad. She grabbed a mic, shouted “Charlotte was ready for Asuka” and embraces her. Sure this was a great sign of respect but it just makes Asuka seem weak. This was the most dominant streak in WWE history; surely it deserved a better end.
7 hours is a lot of time to invest in a product. WrestleMania is a big demand for wrestling fans. It needs to be good. There were so many moments throughout the whole event where it just dragged. Matches were boring at times, the crowd wasn’t in to a lot of it and there were just some absolute stupid decisions that made those 7 hours even more gruelling. There is a lot to cover in WrestleMania, lots of stories to tell. The WWE just needs to do a better job making the most of them right now. I don’t have a lot to say on several matches as they were just okay. They got the job done and for WrestleMania that is not a good thing.
I understand that there is a lot of pressure leading into WrestleMania and pulling off an event of this scale is quite something. But that won’t stop viewers noticing how bad some of the camerawork was last night. Spots were missed, there were some horribly timed cutaways, especially to John Cena and ads seemed to rule the pre-show. It wasn’t going to be perfect but it just seemed that a lot of the camera work felt choppy and messy last night instead of being fluid and in control. This is only a small gripe but was unfortunately noticeable.
Dream Match is Snooze Fest
Nakamura and Styles put on an insane match in New Japan Pro Wrestling. The hopes of this writer were that they would get to pull off some of the magic that they put on over there. I was wrong. Despite some great spots and a frantic pace towards the end of the match, it was dull. It felt slow, sluggish and full of unnecessary filler. Hopefully the heel turn means that they can up the intensity and make another dream match for some other pay per view that is way better than this match was. But this wasn’t a dream match; it was just a stereotypical WWE match.
Tonight’s RAW is going to be very interesting as the finish to Mania made very little sense. Reigns lost. Normally I’d celebrate that but here it just makes no sense. Reign’s victory had been built up for so long now it felt like a guarantee. It would be the conclusion to a long and drawn out story, most fans have wanted to see end for some time now. The Universal Title can’t really progress until either Reigns has it or Brock is willing to wrestle more than a few times a year. Not to mention the match itself was quite a chore to watch. Brock didn’t seem to care, throwing Reigns around without caring and again relying on a shocking blood bath to up the intensity. It felt like a generic Brock match: A load of suplexes, Brock absorbing a load of punishment that would usually ground anyone else and eventually winning with a bunch of F-5’s. Not exactly the best way to end WrestleMania.
Braun’s tag team partner was a ten-year old child called Nicholas. I’ll repeat that, Braun’s tag partner was a ten-year child called Nicholas. Now I can’t make this a negative as it was too entertaining and weird to truly hate. It was a nice way around having Braun single handily destroy the Bar and a nice bit of entertainment between two quite dull matches. It was a good laugh but I don’t quite know what the hell WWE do next with this. Either way Nicholas probably had a blast being Strowman’s tag partner. I know a lot of fans would have loved the same chance to be on the grandest stage of them all.
Although it seems like the positives have won the day, that is purely because most of the matches weren’t worthy of criticism. It had some incredibly funny moments, like the New Day’s pancake people or Braun and Nicholas: Raw tag team champions. But overall it was just heavily underwhelming. Takeover destroyed Mania in terms of quality of matches, story and wrestlers. There was no contest. WrestleMania wasn’t the greatest show of the year. It wasn’t even close.
This article comes to you by way of @JohnDeathMan
photo credit – WWE
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