Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Looking back at Wrestlemania XXXIII

It's hard for me to look back objectively at this year's Wrestlemania. Why? Because so much of it seemed to be booked by executive committee rather than through good storytelling or in a lot of cases, even great wrestling.

This is as close as I'll come to mentioning the awful tag line this year.
Image credit: WWE.
Don't get me wrong. The show had great bits. I think it was superb after weeks of weeks of Austin Aries talking about it on commentary that Neville beat Aries through a poke to the eye. Brilliant. Mojo Rawley winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal worked wonderfully too. Mojo may be reviled by a lot of smarks but he's really building a following with his pseudo-Warrior gimmick and a chance for him and Gronk to shine together is a true Wrestlemania moment.

That was the pre-show. Unfortunately, the main card didn't deliver nearly as well as the free giveaway across platforms.

AJ Styles and Shane McMahon did what they could with who they were. Owens and Jericho wrestled a decent match, but it seemed wanting from two talents as good as they are, probably because it was meant as just a first match in a series. Neither women's title match was allowed to shine as well as they could, especially with less than twenty minutes on the show devoted to them combined.

Rollins / Triple H and Orton / Wyatt were both pretty much what anyone expected, all though I had held out a vague bit of hope that Bray Wyatt might retain. Brock Lesnar and Goldberg gave exactly the match they needed to give with a initial punch of offense from Goldberg before Lesnar dismantled him with Suplex City.

And for the second year in a row, the main event was absolute crap built to force feed us Roman Reigns. Sure, this time he played the heel a bit more in the lead up, but he's still not a heel in any practical way. The booking was beyond asinine and as a final match for Undertaker, it just felt like an insult. Reigns just isn't capable of putting together a great match with anything less than a true mat genius in their prime and he just wasn't able to give Undertaker the great sendoff he deserved. The final moments of the night were moving, sure, but unlike so many others I could not embrace the somberness of them after the twenty minutes of garbage that came before it.

Instead, the real Wrestlemania moments of the show were nestled right in the middle of the card. The point of the Cena-Nikki and Miz-Maryse feud were made clear when John proposed in the center of the ring. It was a touching moment and truly a unique bit of Wrestlemania history.

But the true highlight was the return of the Hardy Boyz (complete with a Z) in the tag team ladder match. While working as a weird combination of their classic gimmicks and Broken Matt / Brother Nero, they put on a solid showing in what was their second ladder match in as many days. (Jeff Hardy looked exactly as banged up as he should have after the reportedly insane ladder match with the Young Bucks the previous day.) They took home the tag titles that night in a great welcome home. Interestingly, it was the first time the titles changed hands since the best Mania of all time, Wrestlemania X7, where they lost the belts to Edge and Christian in TLC II.

The best description I can give Wrestlemania is a slog. For seven hours of entertainment, it was far from the caliber the biggest company in the world should be able to deliver on their grandest stage ever year. And the sacrifice of great matches made at Takeover the night before just made the weekend feel rather bland.

In almost everything, Wrestlemania 33 felt like paint by numbers WWE, but so has much of the booking since January. Hopefully with the big show of the year out of the way, Vince can fade back into the shadows and the company can return to putting on some of the absolute stellar shows they put on over the last six months of 2016.

Later this week, I'll talk about the actual best show of the weekend, one which is about as far removed from huge WWE extravaganza as you can imagine.

1 comment:

  1. Slog is the perfect word for this Mania. I enjoyed the bit with Gronk and Mojo. Everything else on the show went exactly as I would have predicted a month earlier.

    The return of the Hardys was cool, and the ladder match was the best match on the card. Wyatt turning the mat into a bed of maggots was a cool visual, but it was meaningless since they jobbed him out to Orton in the end.

    The Undertaker sendoff was very touching and appropriate, even if the match was nothing special. That match only further exposed the fact that Reigns only has two moves in his arsenal.