This is the third year in a row that we’ve watched Wrestlemania live. Like many, I tend to resubscribe for the Royal Rumble and let my subscription run until Wrestlemania. Of all the Wrestlemania’s we have watched live, this was by far the best, but I still went to bed late last night feeling kind of empty and let down.
Preshow (Two Battle Royals & Cruiseweight Championship)
We tuned in around the end of the men’s battle royal. Diane and I hadn’t finished NXT Takeover, so we were getting in the last match before some friends arrived to watch Wrestlemania.
I won’t talk too much about these matches because I didn’t pay too much attention (making dinner). I was disappointed to see Bray Wyatt back so soon, especially with the payoff being some sort friendship with Matt Hardy. I was also sad to see the Cruiserweights on the preshow, especially since it was a solid match.
Oh and the women fought in their own battle royal too.
But I don’t watch wrestling. No one watches the preshow.
Intercontinental Championship (Finn Balor v The Miz v Seth Rollins)
This was an excellent start to the show and an all-around good match from three very solid wrestlers. I wish it had been a ladder match though, if only to differentiate it between all the other multi-man matches on the card. Plus, if anyone could have a match to rival the excellent ladder match opener from Takeover the night before, it is these three.
That said, I was initially really disappointed. I am all for inclusion, but I must’ve missed something since I do no watch RAW ever. Finn Balor came out with rainbows and I just really wanted a proper Wrestlemania demon.
I love Seth Rollins. I am glad the curb stomp is back and he used it twice in quick succession to pick up the victory (both looked amazing). That said, face Seth Rollins is horrible and I would’ve been fine with The Miz retaining since he has been so good with the belt for so long and likely won’t have anything to do unless he is taking a break.
But I don’t watch wrestling. Irish O’Abs fought a former Real World star and a dude with White Walker eye contacts. White Walker eye contacts won because the belt is white.
SmackDown Women’s Championship (Asuka v Charlotte)
We are Asuka marks (i.e. fanboys/girls). I think she’s hot, Diane says she reminds her of her mom, and this is somehow not awkward at all. For Asuka to lose a streak that we’ve literally followed from its very first match was a little heartbreaking. For it to be against Charlotte who didn’t need the win or the resume padding? Fuck it all.
Other than the entrance and the fact that this was a legitimately good match, this was no one’s fantasy booking. I know streaks are boring and problematic, but here’s my fantasy booking:
- Asuka beats Charlotte clean after a hard fought match.
- They rematch and Charlotte takes Asuka to edge where she is forced to turn heel (cheat). She goes overboard and injures Charlotte.
- We build to a Becky Lynch v Asuka match for Summerslam where Becky goes over, thus ending the streak and avenging her friend Charlotte.
- Becky is cemented as the super babyface, Asuka can remain a monster, and Charlotte can come back at Survivor Series as an unappreciative heel who just wants her birthright (the championship) back from Becky.
But no, Charlotte wins. Again. And Asuka gives her a NES victory screen speech to congratulate her.
But I don’t watch wrestling. Undefeated, proud Japanese woman who literally won a match once by knocking out her opponent submits to a tall blonde white woman both at the end and after their match.
United States Championship (Randy Orton v Bobby Roode v Jinder Mahal v Rusev)
I don’t remember anything about this match except Aiden English’s pants and Rusev eating a pin for the loss. I fucking hated this match.
But I don’t watch wrestling. Bulgarian George Clooney (and only man I am allowed to sleep with and retain my marriage) is a fan favorite because his friend, an opera singer, has declared every day ‘Rusev Day’. Fans love it, world’s sexiest square sells a ton of ‘Happy Rusev Day’ merchandise, and he loses anyway.
Contractually Obligated McMahon Match #1 (Triple H-McMahon & Stephanie McMahon v Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey)
Dammit, this was legitimately entertaining. We all wanted to hate it, especially since Ronda Rousey got major heat in our household by interrupting Asuka’s win at the Royal Rumble earlier in the year.
Rousey looked fantastic. She even sold really well, which surprised me. She wasn’t perfect, but I imagine the only person who’s expectations she didn’t exceed were her own since she has obviously been working on this a long while.
I loved seeing her beat up Stephanie whose heel persona needs to be put in its place more often than once a decade. It was also nice seeing Rousey go straight after Triple H with no fear.
This match left me with my own goofy Ronda Rousey smile.
But I don’t watch wrestling. Super athlete and nerd, Ronda Rousey, had her first match. In her corner was a former Olympian and current big toe. They defeated the boss’s daughter and her wife, the future bosses of the company once Vince McMahon finally let’s Death go over (i.e. never, Vince once has already beaten God once).
SmackDown Tag Team Championship (New Day v The Usos v The Bludgeon Brothers)
This match desperately needed a gimmick or an extra 15 minutes. Either way, I was bored until I wasn’t and then it was over. I hope the Bludgeon Brothers reignite the Smackdown tag division because a New Day/Uso rivalry doesn’t need gold to be good. Ever.
On a more important note:
You want LGBT inclusion? You want to talk about positive representative of larger women? Deal, but we keep the dwarfs in pancake outfits. Jesus Christ.
But I don’t watch wrestling. Two halves of a sumo-sized WWE Hall of Famer and three pancake peddlers lose to two dudes who fell on their LARP hammers and became total wrestling bad asses.
The Undertake’s Entrance (Also, John Cena)
Kudos to WWE for teasing this rather than making it explicit. The strange booking kept our entrance and I am sure it generated a ton more buzz than a proper build ever would’ve.
Also, good on John Cena for taking a total squash. The Undertaker looked great and the shorter match helped him keep his allure. I still don’t want him back, but this was a much better final match than last year’s.
But I don’t watch wrestling. A literal dead man returned to walk to the ring for five minutes and fight an aspiring actor for less than three minutes. He did this because the actor called out his Instagram.
Contractually Obligated McMahon Match #2 (Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan v Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn)
I am happy to have Daniel Bryan back, but I was conflicted on this match. Since Shane fought most of it, I thought it pretty dull. I am also very over this story and a huge Kevin Owens fan, so I was kind of hoping for an upset.
The other McMahon match was far better which, given the talent in the ring for this one, is pretty sad.
But I don’t watch wrestling. Fan favorite Daniel Bryan returns to in-ring action after being held back for worries over repeated concussions. He teamed up with a fan favorite who has worn out his welcome to face two other fan favorites who really deserved to be fighting for titles elsewhere on the card, even if this was an arguably higher profile match.
Raw Women’s Championship (Alexa Bliss v Nia Jax)
I love Alexa Bliss. I also really like Nia Jax. For me, even though most weren’t looking forward to this match, I was excited to see the payoff to their feud. That said, booking didn’t help matters by putting this match so late in the card or by giving it as long as they did.
I also have a problem with how they characterized Nia Jax. I get the whole story revolved around mean girl Alexa Bliss fat shaming the much larger woman and that Alexa is the clear heel, but I wish we had more time to turn Nia face before the match. Especially since our payoff was her ugly-crying and the announcers putting over her self-confidence in her own beauty. That’s absolutely a character and story that WWE needs, but it felt a bit rushed or, worse, insincere.
As to the match itself, I loved it. Nia destroying Alexa’s new best friend, Mickie James, at the outset was brilliant. Alexa’s screams and mannerisms were on point, as they always are. I wish it had been a total squash, but given its card placement I don’t mind that they had more time to tell their story.
If this is a total face turn for Nia Jax, then I am genuinely curious to see what they do with her and her first ever title reign. She’s not the most talented, but allowing a larger woman to be the hero is a huge step for WWE which has typically avoided women who look like Nia altogether.
But I don’t watch wrestling. The meanest woman of wrestling admitted that she was using her “best friend” because, to paraphrase, she was a fat ass who was willing to kick everyone else’s ass for her. Said “best friend” finds out and murders the mean girl, thus proving that bullies suck and hot soccer moms can be Women’s Champions too.
WWE Championship (Shinsuke Nakamura v AJ Styles)
Maybe a heel turn for Nakamura will salvage him, but this match was boring and Nakamura hasn’t been entertaining (beyond his entrance) for a long time for me. I am pretty depressed about this match and admitting these truths about Nakamura feels like a punch to my large, always-on-display genitals:
But I don’t watch wrestling. Another Japanese person loses to another white person, but this time the Japanese person correctly beats up the white person afterward. This should’ve been what happened earlier with Asuka v Charlotte, minus the nut shot because obvious.
Raw Tag Team Championship (Braun Strowman & small child v The Bar)
Yesterday at lunch, Diane and I listed off our top three picks for Braun Strowman’s mystery partner. I picked:
- James Elsworth, a chinless man who helped launch Braun’s career when Braun launched him).
- Neville, a not-terminated former King of the Cruiserweights who is sitting out his contract because he wishes to no longer be a cruiserweight.
- Alexa Bliss, Braun’s Mixed Tag partner from a show on Facebook.
- The Undertaker after he never came out to answer John Cena’s challenge.
- John Cena because he was still sitting in the crowd waiting for the Undertaker.
- Rey Mysterio, Diane’s childhood crush and the only pilot legally allowed to fly without a plane.
Instead, we got this:
And even if it was a letdown, it is a great story and a great change for Braun who has needed to go full face for a long time now. He’s huge and hugely over. It sucks sacrificing the entire tag division to him, but his booking was already problematic, so why not run with it in a really unique way?
I love The Bar’s run, especially when you see things like this:
Other highlights for me were Cesaro taunting the child and the fact that young Nicholas couldn’t even lift the belt right when they won or how the announcement almost completely covers him since the camera also has to get Braun in the shot:
But I don’t watch wrestling. A man the size of two men picked a small boy out of a crowd of 75,000 to be scared in his corner while he beat up two European (former) bad asses by himself.
Universal Championship (Brock Lesnar v Roman Reigns)
But I don’t watch wrestling.