Wrestlemania Weekend pt 2: The Show of Shows

So. Wrestlemania. The Granddaddy Of Them All. The Show of Shows. The Biggest Night In Wrestling Sports Entertainment. Vincent Kennedy McMahon’s precious baby. The night WWE razzles and dazzles harder than any other night.

What a show.

First off, that stage. Holy shit. The return to football stadiums has produced some great setups, but this one was probably the best one ever. The gigantic lit ramp, the awesome roller coaster thing, the giant globe…so, so good. Anyway, wrestling also happened, so let’s talk about that.

Preshow Singles Match for the Cruiserweight Championship: Neville (c) vs Austin Aeries

I honestly didn’t pay attention to this match, half because it was on the preshow and half because I just don’t care for A Double. He does nothing for me. I do like Neville’s new King of the Cruiserweights gimmick though, and I’m glad he retained, although I wasn’t expecting him to. What I did see was actually pretty good though. More work like this will make me want to pay more attention to Aeries

Preshow Singles Match for the Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose (c) vs Baron Corbin

Oh boy, I bet Dean was *pissed* about getting bumped to the preshow. The match kind of shows it too, because it was just kind of there. I despise Baron Corbin (the man cannot talk for shit), but he even failed at the one thing he’s good at: actual wrestling. These two went through the motions in order to get this match out of the way. Nobody won here, even though Deano retained.

Preshow Match: Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

I’ve never been too fond of battle royals outside of the Royal Rumble, because there’s just so much noise with twenty-something guys in the ring all trying to get their stuff in. I will say tossing Big Show and Strowman out quick was good booking, because everyone was expecting them as the final showdown. I had Sami as my second (behind Braun) to win the thing, but they went and surprised me with Mojo Rawley. I’m actually happy with how this turned out, Gronk and all. Mojo’s actual real-life famous bro gives him a rub and he gets a small push in the form of the ARMBAR (stupid acronym, but the smarks love it) trophy. I hope he goes places, I really do.

New Day Opening Segment

I love New Day. I love the concept of them hosing Wrestlemania. I didn’t love that they did basically nothing but come out in paid-for costumes (great as they were, and as much as I love FFXIV, it’s kind of lame). Micheal Cole’s lines were hilarious though. Maggle: “Don’t you know I love Final Fantasy, Corey?” Corey: *sandbaaaaaaaaaaaag*

Singles Match: AJ Styles vs Shane McMahon

A lot of smarks were upset about this match going into ‘Mania because it felt like a waste of AJ’s talents. I was cautiously optimistic, however, as I knew AJ would do his best to put together a great math with Shaneo the Insaneo. I’m actually kind of happy Shane didn’t do anything too nuts, especially since the pretty simple elbow drop onto the announce table spot looked great. Shane got some great counters in, especially when AJ tried to steal the Coast to Coast. A lot of fun, much better than most were expecting.

Singles Match for the United States Championship: Chris Jericho (c) vs Kevin Owens

The culmination of the long-running Team Chris and Kevin/Kevin and Chris storyline was hotly anticipated, and boy did it deliver. Jericho is still one of the best that’s ever been and put on a match worthy of being an exclamation point on the end of one of the best runs of his career. Owens breaking the count with a single finger on the ropes was brilliant heel work. The finish was a little awkward, with KO hitting the apron powerbomb and rolling Jericho in for the pin. I’ve never really liked finishes where there’s even a small amount of moving around before the pin, it just feels off. Still though, great match, and a fitting end for the storyline.

Fatal Four Way Elimination Match for the Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs Sasha Banks vs Charlotte Flair vs Nia Jax

This was probably one of the greatest women’s matches ever. Ever. As weird as the build as been, with tossing away Charlotte’s PPV streak on a C-show in a clusterfuck ending and Bayley being booked as incredibly weak in order to put the 4 way together, the match itself was gold. The Horsewomen joining up to get Nia out of the match was fantastic work, exactly how you should book a monster heel in an elimination match when they’re not going to win. Charlotte is one of the best women working in the business today; that corkscrew moonsault is a thing of absolute beauty. I actually expected the finish here to involve a Sasha heel turn, but it looks like Vince decided to keep her face for now and have Bayley go over Charlotte clean, finally booking her looking strong. Bayley has nowhere to go but up, and I’m super excited for where she goes with the women’s title.

Tag Team Triple Threat Fatal Four Way Ladder Match for the Raw Tag Team Championships: The Club (Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson) (c) vs Sheamus and Cesaro vs Enzo and Big Cass vs THE HARDY BOYS

AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH THE BOYS ARE BACK! After weeks of speculation and a phenomenal ladder match against the Young Bucks the night before Matt and Jeff Hardy are back home where they belong. While it’s still unclear if the #BROKEN gimmick will stay intact (Matt seems to drift in and out of it, and has said on Twitter that the response they got at Wrestlemania has “softened” his CONDEESHUN) it’s good to see them on the grandest stage of them all once again. The match itself was the typical insanity a ladder match with eight guys in it you’d expect, with the added bonus of Jeff Hardy doing Jeff Hardy Things (that swanton off the ladder is old hat for him, but it’s been so long since the WWE crowd have seen it they went absolutely nuts). Naturally the Hardys came away with the belts, which does feel unfair to the guys that put this feud together, but we’ll see who Vince throws at them, especially if they start putting the new guys over more often a la the last run for the Dudleys. Surprising note: Sheamus’s stitches didn’t seem to break. Guy’s got balls of steel.

Mixed Tag Team Match: John Cena and Nikki Bella vs The Miz and Maryse

Well, this match happened. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t awful or anything, but after the insanity we just saw it kind of felt flat. Maryse did basically nothing throughout, which would be good heel work if it was done as heel work and not because Maryse can’t work at all. The finish was amusing though, with Nikki and Cena both hitting their finishers at the same time, especially with the ref using both hands to count both pins. And yeah, the proposal was super cheesey but it was great and I’m genuinely happy for John and Nikki.

Unsanctioned Match: Seth Rollins vs Triple H

Triple H, the King of Kings, kills it with his entrance once again. I absolutely love Hunter adopting a biker gimmick; with the lumberjack beard it makes him look ten times more threatening than he’s ever looked. Seth’s entrance fell flat when the ring pyro didn’t go off (and he looked kind of silly leaving that flaming torch on the entrance ramp when he could have used it in the match), but his gear was as on point as always. Seth’s desperation to put Hunter away and leave their past behind really came through in the match’s storytelling. I really loved the huge sequence of Pedigree attempts, and especially when Hunter went up the turnbuckle to attempt the rarely seen top rope Pedigree. I also loved the fakeout with Hunter missing Steph and then stumbling into her anyway so she gets some comeuppance (say what you will about the character Vince makes her play, it takes lady balls of steel to go through a table, even a worked WWE table). Fantastic end to a great, long-running storyline. I can’t wait to see where Seth goes next.

Singles Math for the WWE Championship: Bray Wyatt (c) vs Randy Orton

My god, Wyatt’s entrance in such a big venue was absolutely phenomenal. They didn’t even need to add anything to it, it was that damn good. The match on the other hand…ouch. This thing was a stinker from start to finish. Bray looked like a fucking idiot with all of the stupid projected images, and Orton looked like a fool for being creeped out by them. Both guys could tell the match did nothing for anybody, and Randy actually looked relieved when he hit the RKO for the win. Super disappointing that Orton won, which made Bray look like a complete fool with the mind game attempts. I don’t understand the logic of having him lose after trying that stuff. The feud could still go with Randy loosing, but Vince gonna Vince. Definitely the lowest point of the night…until the end, anyway.

Singles Match for the WWE Universal Championship: Goldberg (c) vs Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman

Wow. Nobody expected anything at all in this match, and it still delivered…ish. Brock kicking out of the Jackhammer was a huge moment, since that had never officially happened without interference (WCW, and by extent WWE, tend to ignore the time Hogan had to kick out of it because Scott “Probably Drunk” Hall missed his cue). It was super weird how commentary undersold that moment, but Goldberg sold the hell out of it, as if he didn’t even know kicking out was a thing people could do. Brock looked like a million bucks here, selling the story that Goldberg wasn’t better than him, he just didn’t take him seriously enough. Gave him some of his luster back. Too bad he’ll just get fed to Roman by Summerslam.

Six Pack Challenge for the SmackDown Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss (c) vs Becky Lynch vs Naomi vs Nataliya vs Mickie James vs Carmella w/James Ellsworth

This was short as hell, but pretty alright. Everybody got their stuff in, and even Ellsworth got to participate (imagine being that guy, going from the bottom rung of the indies to Wrestle-fuckin-mania). Naomi debuted a great new submission finisher for the win in her “hometown”. Kind of makes it look like Vince put the belt on her and they used a very minor injruy as an excuse to get it off of her because Vince had no idea she was from Orlando(ish), huh?

No Holds Barred Singles Match: Roman Reigns vs The Undertaker

Well. This was…something else. The match itself is mostly forgettable, save the slightly humorous image of Roman not being able to get Taker up for his own Tombstone and the great storytelling moment of Taker failing to do his traditional sit-up thing. I do like how they had Roman bust his ass to put Taker away, with him kicking out of two spears in a row and Roman having to “charge up” by bouncing off the ropes a bunch for a super spear that finally put him away. Roman really sold being kind of sad about the whole thing too, although the huge fireworks display that Vince probably demanded (IT’LL MAKE HIM LOOK LIKE A STAR DAMMIT) didn’t help him much in that regard.

Then there’s what came after.

I’ll be honest: I cried. I cried a lot. I’d been away from wrestling for a long time before Jon Stewart screwing John Cena out of his US Championship brought me back, but the Undertaker was still there waiting for me when I dove back in. He’s been a presence in the business for as long as I’ve known the business to exist. A constant presence, lurking in the shadows waiting to chokeslam the next jabroni that decided to shoot his mouth off about how he was old and broken. The match I had just seen proved that Taker was both old and broken, and his leaving his iconic gloves and hat in the ring was something that everybody expected, but when it happened, nobody seemed to want it. The cameras around the stadium found grown ass men in tears that their childhood hero, the guy that was always there to put on a hell of a show every year at Wrestlemania, was finally hanging it up. The final shot of the show, of Taker throwing up his traditional fist and slowly sinking into the entrance ramp, is something that will stick with me forever. #ThankYouTaker

In all, Wrestlemania 33 was a phenomenal event. Only one match was start-to-finish awful, which is pretty good considering (although it’s pretty bad considering it was part of a very long-running storyline and involved the company’s top championship). I’m excited about where things are headed in the company, especially with the Hardys. Hopefully Vince doesn’t screw this up.

I mean, he’s never done that before, right?

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Wrestlemania Weekend part 1: Hall of Fame and NXT TakeOver: Orlando

Oh boy, I’m blogging again. Somebody stop me.

Please.

Ahem. So, Wrestlemania weekend is over. While we still have Raw and SmackDown Live! to look forward to the all-out assault that is Wrestlemania is in the books.

And it was…pretty good.

First off, the Hall of Fame. It was…the Hall of Fame. Highlight of the night for me wasn’t Milk-o-mania running wild on stage again, but Jim Cornette being given an open mic at a live WWE event and actually doing a pretty good job. Hopefully somebody made sure he never ran into Kevin Dunn (and hopefully that person is Kevin Dunn himself, because I don’t think he’d like to end up dead two days before Wrestlemania). I also loved Beth Phoenix ribbing her husband Edge, but that’s probably only because I’m a huge Edge mark. Teddy Long doing Teddy Long Things was great, and yeah, yelling “YOU SUCK” at my TV when Kurt Angle finally came home was a treat.

Now then, onto the wrestling. First up: NXT TakeOver: Orlando.

It’s been a weird few months for me when it comes to NXT. I actually got to attend TakeOver: San Antonio, which was a cherry on top of an awesome weekend thanks to PAX South happening at the same time (didn’t make it to the Rumble though; had to choose between shit seats there or great seats at TakeOver. I think I chose well), but I hadn’t even looked at an episode of NXT since then. All the guys I watched NXT for were gone, and I didn’t have enough interest in the likes of No Way Jose or Andrade “Cien” Almas to tune in every week. I went into the show knowing basically nothing about the card outside of the Nakamura/Roode and DIY/AOP rematches.

Needless to say I was very pleasantly surprised.

8 Man Mixed Tag Team Match: Sanity (Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, Killian Dain, and Nikki Cross) vs Tye Dillinger, Roderick Strong, Kassius Ohno, and Ruby Riot

Sanity is, in a word, fantastic. I didn’t think much of them when they first arrived, especially the tag team of recently-promoted jobbers Alexander Wolfe and Sawyer Fulton. Fortunately for us (and unfortunately for him) Fulton got himself hurt, which lead to ICW’s Big Damo being turned into NXT’s Killian Dain, and holy shit the stable is complete. Dain’s look is phenomenal; he’s a big hairy beast wearing a goddamn loincloth. He looks like a monster, and he wrestles like one too. I do feel a little bad for Fulton, but Sanity is going places with this guy in the group. The challenging team is a who’s who of new NXT tallent. Like every other NXT fan I am enamored with Tye Dillinger. His gimmick is so dumb it’s great. I don’t even mind the constant 10 chants at shows he’s not even at. Putting him at the head of a group of these new guys was a genius move, a great way to get them over, even if they’re all known indie guys. Roderick Strong is…well, he’s there. His gimmick is that he doesn’t have a gimmick, which makes him kind of boring to look at, but the guy can go in the ring. He needs something to hang his hat on though, as coasting on his indie cred is only going to get him so far. Kassius Ohno is a guy I’d heard of (under his indie name of Chris Hero, which is a bitchin name) but I’d never even seen him before. Didn’t expect him to be so goddamn big. I love the fake NBA jersey gear he wrestles in. I can see this guy being NXT’s next big babyface champ. And then there’s Ruby Riot. Holy shit. I honestly wasn’t expecting what I got, but I love it all the same. She may have ripped off Mad Moxxie from Borderlands but I don’t care, she’s fucking amazing. The match itself was a whole lot of fun. It was the perfect opening match, giving the audience a fantastic good time. Everybody got their stuff in, with a great focus on Dain and Ohno looking like beasts. Tye trying to hit the Tyebreaker on Dain was a great highlight, and giving Dain the pin over Tye was smart booking, ensuring the new guys don’t look dumb. This match made me excited for the future of NXT.

And then the next match happened.

Singles Match: Aleister Black vs Andrade “Cien” Almas

I’m not really huge on Almas. His heel shtick is alright I guess, but he just doesn’t do anything for me, and his complete lack of promo skill due to the language barrier really puts me off. If he does debut tonight or tomorrow on TV I hope for his sake he keeps working on his English. But enough about that guy, the real star here is Aleister Black, formerly Tommy End. This guy. This fucking guy. His entrance was phenominal, rising up out of the stage like a goddamn vampire. His sitting in the middle of the ring thing may have been stolen from CM Punk but by god he makes it his own. His skills in the ring are fantastic too. The only sour point for me is his finisher, which is a spin kick. It’s kind of…there, I guess. I think there are enough kick finishers now (Brouge Kick, Mick Kick, Swann’s kick, etc), so this comes off as kind of half-assed. If he can get himself a better finisher I think this guy is going nowhere but up.

Triple Threat Elimination for the NXT Tag Team Championship:  The Authors of Pain (Akam and Rezar) w/Paul Ellering (c) vs #DIY (Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Chiampa) vs The Revival (Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder)

First of all, those new title belts: sweet. I do miss the belts being different and opposites of each other, but damn they look nice. Now for the match: it was great!…mostly. The Revival and DIY are absolutely phenomenal, while the AoP are…not. Don’t get me wrong, they did a good job here, and I wouldn’t say they were carried in the match, but these guys are still super green. I loved The Revival and DIY paring up to do each others finishers, although I’m not a fan of them going at one-another while AoP napped on the outside. It made them look like idiots to not go after the big guys (especially after the Raw women did that bit the right way), but since AoP were going over they didn’t have a choice. Great match, but not the instant classics that were the two previous DIY/Revival matches. Hopefully this means The Revival will finally debut on the main roster.

Singles match for the NXT Women’s Championship: Asuka (c) vs Ember Moon

Again, new title belt, and oh boy is it a good one. While the old NXT Women’s belt wasn’t nearly as awful as the Diva’s title, I still didn’t really like how pink and girly it was. The new belt changed that by looking amazing and not girly in the slightest. Thank god. The match itself was alright I suppose. I love Ember Moon to death, and I honestly think she may be the next NXT Women’s Champion, but they’re not taking that belt off of Asuka until she beats Goldberg’s fake undefeated record with a real one. I’m super glad they kept Moon’s Eclipse top rope flippy stunner thing protected by not having her hit it at all, however, and Asuka did a good job selling for Moon making her look like a legit threat even in a loss. I see this feud continuing on to the next TakeOver, for sure.

Singles match for the NXT Championship: Booby Roode (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura

Oh man, those entrances. Nakamura’s was pretty simple with some shadow boxing behind a giant sheet, but it looked in credible. Roode’s was as incredible as his TakeOver entrances always are. This guy’s going to be a fucking star when they let him on the main roster. I’m more lukewarm on the new NXT title. It’s almost identical to the women’s title but with a gold X instead of silver, which is fine, but I really loved the stupid giant X title. Oh well. The match itself was…fine. Nak turned the Strong Style dial up to eleven, so it was definitely a fun watch, but these two don’t have the chemistry that Nak had with guys like Sami Zayn or Samoa Joe. I know Roode needed to go over because Nak is basically done in NXT but I do wish the win would have been a bit more dirty, but having Nak kick out of a Glorious DDT and then take a tornado version from the top rope for the 3 count at least made him look strong as hell. I can’t wait to see Nak on the main roster.

 

Pretty good show all being said. It definitely made me excited for the future of NXT, and I may start watching the weekly show again (next week at least, I’m not really interested in the TakeOver dark matches).