By Chris Withers
As Wrestlemania started to die down, the final match had ended, people were still cheering, my thoughts began to form. Between technical difficulties, dull matches, two legacy matches, and a lack of forward momentum this will truly go down as one of the most meaningless Wrestlemanias in history. Many of my problems were preordained, of course. Most hardcore fans of the WWE, wrestling as a whole really, are tuned into the backstage aspects of the business.We try to command the way that stories will go, which in the previous year was just beginning to work. Reportedly, however, Vince McMahon wanted the story this year to go how he wanted it to, which has led to a dull card.
But even before that we had the technical difficulties of the Network to deal with. I tried watching it on three different devices, my computer, which mostly worked albeit with some fluctuation between resolutions. My PS4, which also suffered from lower resolution whenever anyone on screen was moving at all. It also frequently repeated previous 10 second loops while trying to reconnect to the stream (I have high-speed FiOS internet for the record, I have no problem with any streaming service aside from the WWE Network). But the worst was the Roku, which frequently froze and required being completely reset, which didn’t help it lagging behind by ten full minutes and never getting higher than a 540 resolution at best. There were also commercials for upcoming original content on the Network, one of the biggest complaints of the Network being, that there is no original content outside of easily produced documentaries, Total Divas, and a crap cartoon. So Vince’s response… a spinoff with the Jackass people called Swerved. And an adult cartoon made by Seth Green called WWE Camp, one of the jokes for which involves implied lesbian action between The Bellas… in other news Vince McMahon is just turning six.
Tag Team Championship Fatal 4-Way
The Usos vs Los Matadores vs New Day vs Kidd/Cesaro (c)
For some reason this was moved to the pre-show once again, just like last year. Last year it made some sense, it felt like all the matches on the main card could use the extra time, but seeing as how Randy Orton already had his revenge on Seth Rollins it probably would’ve been nice to see them on the pre-show and have the Tag Champs defend on the main program. I do have to give credit to the fact that they had an in-story reason why Jey Uso, who had hurt his shoulder on Smackdown, was removed from the match, leaving his brother to do it alone. Although I must give credit to Los Matadores for having a really cool tag finisher (don’t worry they don’t win), where one hits a powerbomb into a backstabber from the other.
A team no one should give any props to however is the New Day. “New Day Sucks,” chants were abundant once the team arrived and whenever they were tagged in. I do have to give props to Big E and Cesaro, however, for one of the most lethal looking moves of the night. Los Matadores hit superplexes from the top rope on Kofi and Kidd… while on the shoulders of Big E and Cesaro. This move looks so deadly and it made watching the pre-show worth it for me. Cesaro/Kidd retain off a hot tag to Jimmy Uso whilst he is mid Frog-Splash, not the Superfly Splash he’s normally known for. Uso hits the splash, Cesaro threw him off of the cover, covered Kofi, and won. It was an alright match, made unwatchable in the middle by the random fights breaking out all around the ring making it nearly impossible to tell who was legal… something that even the commentators had trouble with.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Also moved to the pre-show, probably because of who won. The Big Show walks away the winner… not Mizdow, not Ryback, not Axel; none of the odds on favorites. I suppose that it makes sense, move it to the pre-show so that fewer people are there to boo the ever-loving crap out of it, which they did anyway. Some are thinking that this will lead to either retirement or at least a reduction of screen time on RAW and the like, which I hope, but even so its the wrong year as it leaves no one else a story to move on with.
Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
Dolph Ziggler vs Daniel Bryan vs Luke Harper vs Stardust vs Dean Ambrose vs Bad News Barret (c)
I really hate to admit it, but this match was great. I hate to admit it because these guys nearly killed themselves for a belt that has lost all of its meaning in recent years, to the point that the defending champion was 0-8 going into Wrestlemania, and everyone here could be bigger than they are but the WWE just doesn’t care. Stardust should be having the promised match with Goldust, Daniel Bryan should be in the main event, Dean Ambrose should’ve already won the belt at Fastlane. But these guys put everything on the line, health, safety, and life.
Highlights include Stardust having a glitter-covered ladder of his very own under the ring, which Bad News stomps into pieces and starts beating Stardust with the broken rungs. Harper starts wearing a ladder around his neck and hitting people like a helicopter. Stardust is almost at the top when Bad News Superplexes him from the top, nearly ten feet to the mat. The worst moment came shortly thereafter when Ambrose is powerbombed into a ladder breaking it in half in the process, and sending him out of the arena. Harper has the best moment of the night, as he climbs the ladder while carrying Dolph Ziggler, who has him in a sleeper hold restricting his ability to breathe, all the way to the top of a ten-foot ladder. But in the end Daniel Bryan wins, getting into a headbutt contest with Dolph Ziggler at the top of the ladder.
Randy Orton vs Seth Rollins
Another great match, a thousand times better than the three matches that they’ve had on TV in the past. Orton starts off fast and furious, hitting a double DDT on J&J security, Rollins hired goons to help him cheat, on the outside. Rollins is absolutely nuts, at one point Orton is outside the ropes on the apron, Rollins hits an enziguiri knocking him to the outside, and hitting a moonsault on a standing Orton. This was one of the moments where my stream went nuts forcing me to switch devices so I missed a decent chunk out of the middle but Orton wins by bending over in the Curb Stomp position. Rollins goes for it, as soon as Rollins boot is on Ortons back he thrusts upwards and hits the RKO. Great showcase from some of the most talented guys on the roster.
Triple H vs Sting (No Disqualification)
Ah yes, the beginning of the end. By this point Wrestlemania had actually been pretty good; decent tag match, mediocre battle royale, followed by two instant classics. And then it all went wrong. Sting comes out to a Japanese drum procession in a red oriental coat, which looked damn cool. But then Triple H came out… in the most ridiculous fashion he could muster. Last year he came out in a skull king crown, riding a motorized throne, and flanked by valkyries, it was so intensely badass that it almost made you want to cheer him over Daniel Bryan. This year… we get terminators. There is a random Arnold cameo, a bunch of T-1000’s rise from the ring, and so does Triple H… in a mechanical skull king helmet with a terminator exoskeleton. This was a bad sign…
Slow, plodding, boring, draining, trudging, I wouldn’t even classify this as a piss break match, this is a run out and get pizza from that new place the next town over match. To his credit Sting is in pretty good shape, was energized and wooing all over the place; and to Triple H’s credit he oversold everything that Sting did in order to put his opponent over. This was rescheduled into a No DQ match, by the by. Not on the pre-show or on RAW, the minute of. It was simply announced that the only way to win would be pinfall or submission, allowing DX and the NWO to hit the ring mid-match. Yes, despite claiming that this wasn’t a WWE vs WCW thing on RAW, it totally is. I understand that some were amused by seeing the NWO at ringside alongside Sting, I marked out for Shawn Michaels hitting a Sweet Chin Music on Sting too, I have my own fanboyisms, but it just wasn’t good. This was largely due to small things; why would the NWO hit the ring to help Sting, but not try and get into the ring to hurt Triple H like DX was doing for H? Why is this a No DQ match where if your opponent hits the ring you have to break a submission hold? Why do the two of them shake hands after Triple H wins? Underwhelming, dull and boring as tar.
A.J. Lee/Paige vs The Bellas
The divas are finally being given a chance like we all wanted, but it ultimately still doesn’t help that the diva’s division is small, way too small. To be specific I mean the divas that actually matter to the WWE, all of whom are in this match. A.J. Lee gets knocked off of the apron and spends five minutes writhing on the outside, allowing it to look like a two-one beatdown just like at the Royal Rumble. A.J. is the winner, making Nikki tap out to the Black Widow, probably meaning that she’ll get a shot at the title soon enough.
United States Championship
John Cena vs Rusev (c)
Rusev comes out to people dressed like Russian soldiers carrying a flag and singing the Russian National Anthem… while Rusev rides in on a tank. John Cena on the other hand… comes out to a montage of presidents talking about how awesome America is. John, you once rode in with a group dressed like gangsters on an old school jalopy with a tommy gun… maybe you could give the same amount of effort when you’re defending America.
The match itself was pretty goodish. Rusev and Cena are big dudes and they are great athletes, but at the same time it ends pretty badly. Cena wins off a distraction from Lana getting hurt. Rusev’s first loss, so he’s basically done now, especially since Lana is leaving to film a movie.
The Undertaker vs Bray Wyatt
He is dead, he meaning Bray Wyatt of course, who loses in fifteen minutes to a fifty year old man who could barely move in the match. It was alright in some spots, Wyatt starts getting slammed around until hitting a major Senton, leading into a Tombstone Piledriver… which Wyatt kicks out of. I will give Undertaker a ton of credit that he was selling the crap out of the match. The one really cool thing was when Wyatt started spider-walking and Undertaker did his sit-up routine, leading to another Tombstone and a victory for Taker.
World Heavyweight Championship
Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar
This was perfect. Seriously this was the one moment of the show that was completely perfect in every way, the booking, the winner, everything. Reigns comes out to mostly boos but some cheers, but Lesnar gets an insane amount of cheering. Lesnar hits his finishing move, the F-5, within 30 seconds, he no-sells a clothesline and follows it up with a suplex. He also shouts my new favorite phrase “Welcome to Suplex City, Bitch” which immediately started to trend on Twitter. It was also the bloodiest match in a while in the WWE, Reigns may have lost a tooth,and Lesnar gets thrown into the ringpost which cracks his skull open. Reigns starts to fight back from his serious beating but then it happens… Seth Rollins.
Let me summarize, Rollins is the holder of the Money in the Bank briefcase, which allows him to, at any time and at any place, get a World Championship match. So he inserts himself into this match which had gone on for seventeen minutes and began Curb Stomping both men. Rollins Curb Stomps Lesnar, he kicks out, Rollins goes for another but Lesnar gets him up for the F-5, and eats a Spear from Reigns. Rollins Curb Stomps Reigns and wins the title via Triple Threat rules wherein the first person to get pinfall is the winner, and in this case the champion.
Overall this was an alright show. While the three good matches, Ladder match, Randy/Seth, and the Heavyweight Championship match, were really good the rest were either absolutely terrible or boring as tar. The Network is still the biggest problem that affects the WWE. The crappy connection is still the greatest problem, if you’re wondering why PPV’s still make money Vince it’s because if someone actually cared about the story then they’ll want to watch it without having to pray to a god, that the WWE isn’t going to have problems that people can’t fix. I hope that the following weeks will be better, I hope that by the time RAW rolls around it’ll be a slightly less melancholic affair, but this was no classic like some on the internet believe, it certainly isn’t a Wrestlemania 9 nor a 14 and it sure as hell isn’t as great as last year. I hope that next year it won’t be such a miserable fallout, but I won’t say that I’m hopeful.