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Mr. Tito's PHAT WWE Wrestlemania 33 Review with Match Ratings & Show Grade (plus NXT Takeover Thoughts)
By Mr. Tito
Apr 3, 2017 - 12:05:00 AM
Welcome back to the EXCELLENCE IN COLUMN WRITING by yours truly, Mr. Tito, exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. This is the Wrestlemania 33 review column which I'll be compiling LIVE as the show happens and then posting it instantly as the show ends. It's been kind of my thing with WWE Pay Per View reviews since 2015 or so. Saves me on time yet gives you, the reader, instant analysis from one of the longest running columnists on the internet. Again, you can only find it here at LordsofPain.net/WrestlingHeadlines.com.
Where's my NXT Takeover Orlando review, you ask? Sorry, but I didn't feel like reviewing that show after what felt like a funeral for NXT. That show, along with the San Antonio one before it, proved to me that it was the official end of the "peak" years for NXT. Thanks to the RAW/Smackdown talent raids of 2016 and then the Divas Revolution raids before that, the NXT roster has been depleted and the WWE has been unable to replenish it. Not bashing Triple H, as his work from 2014-2016 with the NXT brand and the talents he signed stands for itself... But the RAW/Smackdown brand extension inhaled all of its talent and has left a carcass behind... Between Roode vs. Nakamura, Asuka vs. Ember Moon, and the Triple Threat Elimination tag match, that was the MAXIMUM best matches that NXT could possibly book. Unless you're doing full rematch shows, NXT cannot sustain its 2015-2016 Takeover success with a depleted roster.
Therefore, we cannot say "NXT Takover blew the doors off of Wrestlemania" this year. Can't do it... With last year's NXT Takeover Dallas show was unreal and jaw dropping, particularly when Wrestlemania 32 was incredibly supbpar, it was easy to make that statement. This year, we cannot. Wrestlemania 33's talent depth chart overwhelms it and the NXT Takeover top 3 matches, in my opinion, underwhelmed. Lots of fun spots with DIY vs. Revival vs. Authors of Pain but the match was engineered to show how superior the Authors were to Revival and DIY. Period. End of story... That disgusts me... Though I actually do see potential in the Authors and they are improving, DIY and Revival just gave us a year of MIND BLOWING tag team action that we haven't seen in years. Ember Moon vs. Asuka was too short, had no identity, and only the cool ending salvaged it for me. Goes to show you how GOOD Bayley and Emma were in working against Asuka compared to this. Did not like ANY of the opening match-ups... Why have a Referee or Ropes in that first 4 on 4 Sanity match? Where's the 5 count? Just a hot mess... By the time Nakamura vs. Bobby Roode arrives, you're bummed out because you can just feel that we're on the downside of the peak years of the NXT brand. Good match, but not as good as their previous Takeover match-up which was highly entertaining. With rumors of Nakamura going to Smackdown, it's really over for NXT.
THAT BEING SAID... No excuses for the WWE to ever put on bad shows given how much talent NXT has delivered to the main WWE roster. Given all of the talent that NXT has delivered to the WWE, the Creative Team has only delivered on successfully getting a few over. Lots of guys and gals "just existing" right now with several having the benefit of Smackdown's Creative Team (former NXT writers there). Do you honestly believe that Vince McMahon will have any clue how to use or market Nakamura? Do you?
Heading into Wrestlemania 33, I liked the midcard booking of matches that just had only 2 participants or 2 teams (Cena/Nikki vs. Miz/Maryse, Jericho vs. Owens, Ambrose vs. Corbin) and I figure AJ Styles will do God's Work by making a backyard wrestler named Shane McMahon look like a million bucks (if he doesn't, it's ALL ON SHANE). Goes to show you the weakness of the WWE's management team with the multi-person Tag match and the Women's matches. Clueless on how to get over a feud of any magnitude there. WWE cares not about Tag Team wrestling, has only cared about Charlotte on RAW, and ruined the Smackdown Women's division with the hotshot Naomi win. If the Creative Team knew their stuff, we'd have Charlotte vs. Bayley and Becky Lynch vs. Alexa Bliss as high intense feuds over their respective titles. Nope... "Everybody is a winner" style booking to reduce the credibility of the titles each wrestler is supposed to seek.
The biggest matches are relying on veterans to bring their A-games to decide the long-term fate of Wrestlemania 33. Brock Lesnar has to help make a 50 year old Bill Goldberg look reasonable in a longer match because if a shorter match happens, the fans in attendance who spent hundreds to be there will riot! I figure Triple H vs. Seth Rollins will be solid but this is an injured Rollins facing up against Triple H who isn't a regular wrestler now (admitted it as such on ESPN interview). Chances are that Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton will deliver but again, we've seen Randy in big spots before. Unless you get aggressive with him like Luke Harper and AJ Styles to pull a great match out of him, he'll go through the motions emotionally. If Orton/Wyatt click, we could have a serious "Match of the Year" contender... Then there's Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns. Say what you will about Roman, but the Undertaker is in bad physical shape heading into this match. Taker reportedly needs hip surgery badly... Roman is thrust into a position where he needs to carry a match and as his in-ring history shows since 2014, that's a tall order for Mr. Reigns.
Wrestlemania 33 is full of great talent but heading into the event, I question the WWE on how they are using them. Why place AJ Styles with Shane and place Cena in a mixed tag... Why can't we have Cena vs. Styles again? Why can't we have John Cena vs. the Undertaker, a match that we haven't had on a major Main Event level on a Pay Per View, let alone Wrestlemania? That's the ONE GUY that Undertaker hasn't wrestled in the modern era at Wrestlemania. I'm just not digging World Title push # 164366462626 for Randy Orton and question why despite his obvious in-ring talent, why he cannot connect with wrestling fans. The other "Class of 2002" members like Batista, Brock Lesnar, and John Cena have been proven as draws... What's wrong with Orton? The Wrestlemania 25 finish and overpushing him other times has taken its toll.
That's how I thought heading into Wrestlemania 33... How did it truly deliver?
Mr. Tito's PHAT WWE WRESTLEMANIA 33 REVIEW
By the way, ENJOY THIS SHOW because it's likely an "end of an era" for the current RAW and Smackdown rosters. I expect a full shake-up of the rosters during May/June with more veterans moving to RAW to wrestle Roman. AJ Styles to RAW, I'm betting, in particular.
Not a big fan of the football stadium atmosphere. Looks big on camera but it kills actual reactions by fans... Hey, maybe that's what WWE is going for?
The only match of the pre-pre show was Neville (c) vs. Austin Aries. It was a solid match, no complaints. Little snug between the wrestlers as they were legitimately making contact on many kicks and punches while getting a little stiff on other slams. In particular, Aries about breaking his neck on a German Suplex (second one was rough too). Match felt like an Indy match placed in front of a larger audience... The ending was the best part because after a full match of spot after spot hit, actual heel psychology was used with Neville digging into Aries's eyes during a submission hold and that helped Neville get the edge to win the match with his Red Arrow finisher. [ *** 1/4 ] No way that a TNA guy gets a win in his first Wrestlemania. Good match, just needs more psychology... But it's something to build on, for sure. By the way, the WWE did change the ropes to purple for this bout. Sigh...
Now, we're on the "Kickoff" show for the 6pm hour and the opening bout was the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. To my SHOCK, Big Show and Braun Strowman were eliminated by many wrestlers ganging up on them and tossing them. That actually works? I've seen that tried in many Royal Rumble matches but it always fails. From there, I told my Twitter universe that Mojo Rawley or Luke Harper could probably win. Rawley just appears to be a good company guy and a decent working midcard babyface. Plus, he has NFL connections and he cashed one in today with Rob Gronkowski who, in my opinion, is the best Tight End player of all time. Pure dominance with vice grips as hands. Gronk interfered and helped Mojo get a big win. Before that, however, Sami Zayn was eliminated and the "Internet Wrestling Community" went mental. Why? Do you really think that 1 Battle Royal win will erase a FULL YEAR of LOSSES??? Are you that obtuse? Zayn needs lots of midcard rehab and winning a pre-game show Battle Royal is NOT the Bandaid that his career needs. Geesh.
And more Internet insanity with Dean Ambrose (c) vs. Baron Corbin being placed on Wrestlemania at 6:30pm instead of 7pm. OH MY GOD... It's a big thick card of wrestling, folks... And if you've had the WWE Network on since 5pm like me, you're watching WRESTLEMANIA no matter what time you start seeing it. Pretty sure that everybody in that Orlando, FL crowd is there watching Wrestlemania. Anyway, the match was solid although it felt like a really good Smackdown televised main event rather than an exceptional Wrestlemania match. Maybe like the internet, Ambrose and Corbin were bummed out about wrestling 30 minutes earlier? I could actually sense that with body language on both, though... I understand moving the Cruiserweight Title to the pre-game because, well, that division is boring... But the IC Title which has been a valid midcard title for the past year? Eh... Good finish with Ambrose reversing into his finisher. [ *** ]
Now, the main show...
And the reason why 3 matches were on the pre-game show? So that the New Day can start the show as hosts with microphones in hand. Even though the show is Wrestlemania for the World Wrestling Entertainment company... We've got to burn time with RAW like promos cut in the ring. Not much was said of importance other than burning 10 minutes and then a long Shane/Styles promo took up 8 more minutes. So we're at 7:18pm and we're having our first "official" match.
OPENING MATCH was Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles. Fascinating opener... Shane is wearing a baseball jersey, pants, and sneakers to resemble what a backyard wrestler would look like during the 1990s. Mind you, that AJ Styles was just WWE Champion and has a clean 100% win over John Cena at SummerSlam... And he has to sell for this 47 year old? OK internet marks... If you believe that Bill Goldberg isn't allowed to wrestle at 50, why do you give a pass at Shane for wrestling top names at 47? At least Goldberg was once a full-time wrestler and better yet, former NFL player. I'm cringing at this match because you can just see AJ Styles having to slow down to help out his opponent. Shane should lose in 5 seconds to any full time wrestler, period. Shane's face is super red and he's sucking wind, too. AJ Styles is totally selling for the guy and Shane has no energy to make anything look good. Somehow, this 47 year old non-wrestler applies a Triangle Choke as a counter to AJ's 450 Splash. Uh huh... AJ does pick up Shane from that choke and hits sort of a Styles Clash on him. Midway through this match, the Orlando crowd begins to agree with me and starts to cheer AJ Styles while booing Shane. Referee bump and there happens to be trash cans underneath the ring. Why would you keep those there? AJ Styles foolishly tries the Van Terminator on Shane but Shane counters by standing up and hitting AJ with the trashcan. Looked stupid. Now Shane is going for his own Van Terminator, hopefully not getting concussed this time around. He hits it with a clean landing (looked good) and almost beats Styles. And now the backyard match continues as Shane clears off the middle announcer's table. Hey, we gotta save those for Roman's match later! Shane misses his elbow and bounces off the table. Shane rebounds by catching the Phenomenal Forearm and reverses it into a DDT. Looked good... Shane foolishly goes for the Shooting Star Press, which did look good despite missing it (didn't land on his head like Lesnar), and AJ goes back to the Phenomenal Forearm to get he win. [ **1/2 ] Match had some nice spots but it was still a world class wrestler selling for a 47 year old non-wrestler for a 20+ minute match. By the way, AJ Styles was WWE Champion at Royal Rumble 2017, in case you missed it. And what would Shane be without those big dangerous spots?
Just breathtaking to see the SAME fans who were a) upset about Sami Zayn not winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royal and b) upset about the placement of the Ambrose/Corbin match on the card actually marking out for Shane McMahon doing his backyard wrestling moves. So you're OK with a well traveled AJ Styles who was just the WWE Champion a few months ago having to sell for this 47 year old non-wrestler? You wonder why the WWE is confused as to what the apparent fanbase wants. Bunch of McMahon marks, yes-man WWE fans who act like they love their internet darlings but they'll keep eating Vince's crap sandwiches with a smile. Isn't AJ Styles one of your internet darlings? Where's your outrage of AJ Styles having to sell for Shane??
Up next we have Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho (c) for the United States Championship. I would have gone with this match as my hot opener instead, although this feud storyline seemed like it peaked with that Friendship segment. Match was solid as Kevin Owens hits some brutal offense on Jericho to start and Jericho mounted a comeback. Fans woke up after that sugar high they received during the last match and began chantng "Y2J". Loved Owens's reversal of Jericho's Frankensteiner into the Walls of Jericho. I'm shocked that Owens's powerbomb on the side of the ring apron doesn't hurt more wrestlers... After Owens hit that, he rolled Jericho into the ring and made the pin. NEW United States Champion. [ *** 1/2 ] Solid bout and that puts an end to the good Jericho run that he's had in the past year. It was fun and he'll probably reinvent himself when he returns after the summer.
RAW Women's Title match is up next between Bayley(c), Nia Jax, Sasha Banks, & Charlotte. By the way, I listed the wrestlers in the order of their entrances. Bayley, the Champion, comes out first and the lady that they've overpushed for the last 2 years, Charlotte, comes out last. CHAMPIONS COME OUT LAST!!! Match started off with Nia Jax being able to manhandle everyone. Same booking premise of the Authors of Pain destroying DIY/Revival the other night. Why have a Tag/Women's Division when the Authors/Nia Jax can destroy the competition with ease? Unlike the Revival/DIY, however, Charlotte, Sasha, and Bayley were able to team up to defeat Nia Jax for the first elimination. That boot into a double suplex was a thing of beauty. A short time later, Sasha Banks gets eliminated by Charlotte. Well, OK... What was the point of having FOUR people when 2 get eliminated so quickly and we're to the match-up that we should have had anyway? By the way, I made the SAME exact argument in 2000 for Wrestlemania 16's main event between Big Show, Foley, HHH, and Rock. And then shortly thereafter, Bayley RETAINS her Women's Title via Macho Man elbow from the top. They had a suplex slam by Bayley moments before that, the finish looked bad when Charlotte clearly moved into position to take the elbow. [ ** ] Underwhelming. I don't understand why Nia and Sasha were added, as it completely killed any moments for Charlotte & Bayley to shine on their own. Just broken.
WWE Hall of Fame segment was up next. Fans went BONKERS when Kurt Angle's theme music hit. As they should. Welcome home, Kurt!
I must have been casually watching RAW for the past few weeks... Tag Team Ladder Match for the RAW Titles? I guess that's why this match wasn't bumped to the pre-game show. Big Cass/Enzo come out first to do their usual mic work. Cesaro/Sheamus are out next and that means that the Tag Champs Anderson/Gallows come out third. Want to know why Bayley won't be respected after Wrestlemania 33? She wasn't treated as a respected champion heading into the match and the match itself wasn't good to put her over. Someone please educate me as to why the New Day aren't in this match? Ladders involved and no Kofi Kingston? Come on! Just as I legitimately typed that, New Day joins us and announces that a new team has been added to the match to make it a Fatal 4 Way... But it's NOT the New Day!
HARDY BOYS arrived and they are the 4th Team in this match! HUGE POPS from the crowd with lots of "DELETE" chants for Matt. This is AMAZING! Jeff and Matt are completely dominant to start the match which makes sense because they joined the match as a surprise and I don't think any of the participants have faced the Hardys. Have they? The other teams make a comeback and it's on now. Loved seeing Cesaro doing his spin and Sheamus hitting his chest forearms at the same time. Great spots on the outside with Enzo getting thrown on to multiple wrestlers and then Jeff getting kicked into everyone by Sheamus. Good stuff with Sheamus/Gallows working together to take out Big Cass and then turning on each other. Twist of Fate by Matt Hardy on Anderson from the top of the ladder! Holy cow! Then Jeff Hardy jumps off a tall ladder onto Sheamus who was on a ladder bridged between the ring and railway. HOLY COW! Matt Hardy then climbs the ladder for the win. [ **** ] That was damn fun made even more exciting by the Hardys returning and breathing instant LIFE into the RAW Tag Division. GREAT Wrestlemania moment!
Miz & Maryse vs. John Cena/Nikki Bella are up next and NBC's Al Roker is the guest announcer to introduce the wrestlers. Nothing wrong with that... In my opinion, this match had the best build-up on the television shows. Miz is getting lots of babyface pops which you could say that it's trolling Cena but Miz has had a GREAT year too. Match had great heat but it felt to me that it was cut short... Seemed like the match was telling a story that Maryse was "in over her head" and she was a glaring weakspot for the team. See, Shane McMahon, that's how you portray a non-wrestler even if you wrestled in the past. Match had tons of heat but then Cena/Nikki hit their finishers for a double pin. What a shame... Match had much more potential to steal the show and put over the Miz huge. However, there's a reason why Cena/Nikki won... [ ** ] After the match, John Cena reminded Nikki Bella that someday he'd marry her just before her surgery last year. He then proposed to Nikki Bella in the middle of the ring in a very touchy moment and to the credit of the Orlando, FL fans, they didn't troll or takeover the moment. They enjoyed it. After that damaging promo by John Cena last week on Smackdown, the Miz should have scored the convincing win on John Cena. This loss could greatly hurt Miz's momentum from the past year. Might not be a bad idea to have Cena vs. Miz THIS WEEK to headline Smackdown and let Miz go over clean. That could salvage the buried Miz.
This year's Triple H entrance wasn't as ridiculous as previous ones and didn't involve movie themes either. Just motorbikes and Triple H dressing normally. Thank God. His match against Seth Rollins is an "unsanctioned" match. Like last year, Triple H is in absurd shape and according to the announcers, he's only missed 1 Wrestlemania while wrestling in 21 of them. Impressive. Not to be outdone on the entrances, Seth Rollins comes out with a torch and touches the entrance way to create video fire that heads to the ring. OK... Probably a cool idea on paper but looked kinda lame in execution. Bunch of people online are remarking on Seth's color scheme of Gold and Black to call him "SethDust". LOL! To start, Rollins is really pushing that knee with multiple jumping moves through the ropes to the outside. Stephanie McMahon, by the way, is at ringside and screaming at Seth. To the left announcer's table and Triple H reversed Seth's pedigree into a DDT. Solid oak table! The psychology is working well with that knee as Triple H is aggressively going after it and Seth's knee keeps giving out on power moves. Seth, however, delivered the Turnbuckle Bomb. Notice how Triple H isn't hurt? Might be more about who is selling that move (Sting & Finn) than who is delivering it. Rollins keeps trying high risk moves but keeps landing on that bad knee. It's no-holds barred, Seth. Go murder him with a chair instead! I don't know how a bad knee would allow Rollins to hit that Superblex combo with another slam, but hey, it looked good. Stephanie then knocks Rollins off the top rope and HHH locks in his inverted Figure 4 submission. Uh oh, Sledgehammer time! Rollins avoids it and we get a nice back and forth slugfest between HHH and Rollins with HHH hitting a sick clothesline. Rollins later gets the Sledgehammer, Stephanie grabs it from him, and then HHH hits the Pedigree for a close 2 count. Rollins nailed his Phoenix Splash perfectly on HHH, but 2 count only. Cool sequence with both trying to Pedigree each other and reversing each other repeatedly. Nicely done. Then, Stephanie tries to hold Seth Rollins on the apron but then Rollins ducks when HHH attempts to strike. HHH pulls back and when he turns around, he eats a superkick and HHH knocks Stephanie off the apron and into the table at ringside! WOW! HHH was in shock and he turns around to eat a Pedigree to allow Seth Rollins to get a 100% clean win! [ ****1/2 ] That was DAMN GOOD! I could understand how many fans could be bored with that more psychological match where HHH was aiming for the knee and Rollins was trying to sell it, but that's the kind of wrestling that built the business back in the day. When you're fed sugar all night with high spot matches, it's hard to be fed vegetables later on. I LOVED this match and it's a BIG WIN for Seth Rollins. About time that Stephanie proved to be a liability instead of an asset for Triple H.
Let's give props to Triple H... That's another Wrestlemania put over. If we erase 2002-2003 from his career, he's been a damn generous guy to other wrestlers. At Wrestlemania alone, he's put over Taker 3 times, Daniel Bryan, Batista, Roman Reigns, and now Seth Rollins.
And now, a musical act to ensure that everybody gets a bathroom break in before the upcoming matches. It also allows me to switch from the iPhone to the Blu-Ray player.
With Randy Orton, I'm still at a loss as to why he committed arson to put "heat" on this match? Just overkill. Anyway, he wrestled WWE World Heavyweight champion Bray Wyatt who came out first... Sigh... World Champion coming out first... What the hell, WWE? FINGER OF SHAME! Someone Tweeted to me (my buddy Matt) that it looked like Randy Orton rode to the ring on a giant sperm cell. Then, shortly after the start of the match, the lights turn off and the ring had a video of maggots projected on it. That was disturbing! Furthermore, did Bray hand Executive Producer an envelope full of money to accomplish that? Wyatt does it again later but with earthworms... Could you imagine someone watching this who is tripping on drugs right now? They've got to be freaking out about that. Fans attending might have been tripping balls because they've been silent since seeing that stuff in the ring. Bray had the upperhand until on the outside, Randy hits the RKO after he dodged Wyatt's attack. Bray Wyatt tries yet another Kevin Dunn video production experience and soon thereafter, Orton hits an RKO out of no where to win World Championship #13. [ ** ] The match was centered around Bray's weird special effects moments and not around the heat of the two wrestlers breaking up from their partnership. Dull match and here we go again with another Orton title reign. Not sure what Wyatt can do now.
Up next is Brock Lesnar vs. Bill Goldberg (c) for the WWE Universal Title which means that a World Title won't headline Wrestlemania. Wow... Lesnar comes out first, which is how it's supposed to be with a contender. Still blows my mind that this match is happening on a Wrestlemania show 13 years after their first encounter. Lesnar hits 3 straight German Suplexes on Goldberg but Goldberg no-sells to hit a Spear. Lesnar, however, wisely rolls out of the ring. Goldberg joins him and spears Lesnar through the ringside barrier. Goldberg tries the Jackhammer but Lesnar reverses that into a F5. Goldberg reverses that and pushes Lesnar in the ropes and hits a Spear. Jackhammer by Goldberg but Lesnar kicks out! Goldberg goes for another Spear and Lesnar leapfrogs it and Goldberg eats the turnbuckle. Suplex City time for Goldberg as he eats 7 straight German Suplexes! Holy cow! F5 hit and Brock Lesnar wins the match cleanly to become the NEW WWE Universal Champion. [ *** ] Perfectly acceptable match that saw both wrestlers hitting their highest impact moves and it kept Bill Goldberg looking strong until he ate 7 straight Germans. Well worth the hype, all things considered.
By the way, COMMENTS SECTION... Both Ohio Valley Wrestling "Class of 2002" members walked out as WWE World Champions tonight. HOW DO YOU LIKE THEM APPLES?!? And John Cena won tonight, too... And then Cena gets to give it to Nikki Bella 2002 times after proposing!
In the match that was RUMORED to be cancelled tonight, Alexa Bliss (c) versus everyone was up next. Champion comes out first for the third time tonight. I'm going to lose it... Sadly, the ladies are in the "death spot" before the main event and following the hype of Goldberg vs. Lesnar which lit up the crowd. Becky's hair... Wow. That had to take forever to prepare! Of course, James Ellsworth gets involved... Ugh. Dead crowd for this which is deserved. Women's Division had a good year and just got messy during 2017. Cool moment when Natalya tried a double Sharpshooter. Once Naomi got involved the crowd sort of woke up and then works Alexa Bliss. Naomi wins her 2nd Smackdown Women's Title by making Alexa Bliss tap out to a submission hold that I haven't seen before. [ ** ] Match was in a bad spot, but was messy with too many chefs in the kitchen. Happy for Naomi, though, and you could see her getting emotional by having a big Wrestlemania moment.
New Day comes back out to announce the Wrestlemania 33 attendance of 75,245.
Jim Ross, baby! Soooooooooo happy to see him back with the WWE again. I wish him the absolute best right now.
Roman Reigns vs. Undertaker is your Main Event of Wrestlemania 33 and announced as "no holds barred", which I can't remember the match having before tonight. Good because Roman usually does better in those brawling, more dangerous style matches. I don't care what your opinion of the Undertaker is but that ring entrance is the best of all time. Enjoy him tonight, folks, because you never know when this all-time breat finally hangs it up for good. What a talent and he doesn't have to keep doing this... Loud "Undertaker" and "Roman Sucks" chants to start the match. Well, Roman, opportunity knocks to prove them wrong. Wrestlers are keeping it simple to start with brawling in and out of the ring, some stairs, and the Drive-by. Very careful match between the two, at least at first. Nice righthand by Undertaker to counter the 2nd Drive-by attempt. However, Roman hits the 3rd Drive-by attempt but bounced off the announcer's table. Attempt #4 (seriously) was countered into a Chokeslam but the table did not break for Reigns. Undertaker starts talking on the tables and head towards Reigns. As he was slashing his throat (yeah, ban Rollins' curb stomp but not the throat slash or drive-by... where's your standards, WWE?), Reigns got up and hit a spear to drive Undertaker HARD through the Spanish announce table on the right. Good bump and Undertaker isn't moving. Then, as Roman began taunting, Undertaker sat up. Never gets old... Reigns goes up for corner punches and it becomes obvious that a Last Ride Powerbomb is coming soon (Undertaker struggled on that one). 2 count only and Undertaker goes for a chair. As Reigns went for that chair, he took a boot to the face! Undertaker punishes Reigns with 2 hard shots to the back and when a Chokeslam was signaled, Reigns rolled out of the ring. 2 Superman Punches by Reigns and when he went for #3, Undertaker chokeslammed him onto that chair. Weak looking Superman Punches, by the way. Easier to do it on shorter wrestlers, I suppose. Tombstone Piledriver hit but 2 count only to lots of boos. Undertaker tries another Tombstone but Roman attempts to reverse it... Failed miserably and he tried 3 times to lift him up. Ouch. Luckily, Reigns improvised and hit another Superman punch. Reigns continues the offense but gets slapped in the Hell's Gate out of no where. Wait a second... No Holds Barred but Roman is allowed to reach the ropes? Am I missing something? Roman now attacking with the chair as I pray he goes lightly for the Undertaker's health... Seriously. Hits the Spear but 2 count only. Another Spear but this time with roar beforehand, 2 count only. Fans are so happy that the Undertaker is surviving and loud "Undertaker" chants develop. Another Superman Punch and Roman attempts to sell disbelief. Taker tried to sit up but he passed out instead. Odd moment with Roman running on the ropes and colliding with the Undertaker... Few punches later and then Roman hits one more Spear to end the match. [ ** ] I hate to say it, but it's time for the Undertaker. Hang it up... Roman couldn't do much to carry it, but the Undertaker shouldn't be out there at this point. This match was within my expectations so I'm not terribly offended by the outcome.
Afterward, Roman leaves the ring so that the Undertaker can remain in the ring to end the show (after Midnight, holy cow this is a long show!). He sits up. Makes you wonder if this is it for the Undertaker and Jim Ross calling that match might be a clue... Undertaker has his full gear on and is in the middle of the ring for his entrance music and special lights. He then takes off his gear, piece by piece, and places them in the middle of the ring. This is it, folks, for one of the greatest professional wrestlers ever. THANK YOU, Undertaker.
SHOW THOUGHTS: Long show, for one... You HAD to put 3 matches on the pre-game shows because of the depth of the card. However, for as long as the show appeared, it went by fast. Hardys coming back and igniting that Tag Match was the highlight for me but I really enjoyed what Rollins/HHH and Goldberg/Lesnar did tonight. Very satisfying matches. Did not like Orton vs. Wyatt, however, and thought opportunities were wasted with Cena/Nikki vs. Miz/Maryse. Undertaker vs. Roman was about where I expected with an older wrestler past his prime struggling to get through the match. But I think that the positives mostly outweigh the negatives and even if some matches didn't pan out, the show felt BIG. This felt like a massive Wrestlemania show compared to say the last 2 which I felt were subpar and kinda disappointing. This show had big name stars in big spots and lots of surprises to enjoy. [ B+ ]
THE LAST WORD
I did watch the WWE 2017 Hall of Fame presentation... Thought was good. Personally, I loved seeing Diamond Dallas Page's speech as well as Eric Bischoff inducting him. His rise to the top was one of the most impressive in history as people in their mid to late 30s just don't start decide to become wrestlers. Of the many books on wrestling that I've read, Positively Page is still one of my favorites. What I like most about DDP besides his big heart is how "positive" or optimistic he , always is. Just doesn't seem like he has a negative bone in his body.
It was cool to see Jim Cornette on WWE turf again. He's a guy who just couldn't grasp with how corporate that his chosen profession was becoming and that has made him bitter towards the WWE. Good to see him doing business with the WWE and I hope that it continues (though the "shoot" interviews are highly entertaining). I did not grow up watching the Rock N Roll Express, as I began watching NWA/WCW just after they left the promotion. However, many teams cite the RNR as possibly their biggest influence as a team, particularly their incorporation of more athletic double team moves and athleticism... Can't deny that. Good for them, as those poor guys just became older as wrestling really began to pay wrestlers during the late 1990s.
LOVE "Ravishing" Rick Rude. To this day, the WWE should have had Rude defeat the Ultimate Warrior at SummerSlam 1990 and see how it goes to maybe consider Rude vs. Hogan at Wrestlemania 7. It was pretty clear, quickly, that Warrior wasn't the Hogan-like draw at the top and the Iraqi War angle with Sgt. Slaugher was, in my opinion, a long-term disaster for the WWE. I was glad to see Rude taken a little more seriously in World Championship Wrestling. Sadly, he got hurt but him resurfacing in Extreme Championship Wrestling in 1997 under a mask to "f**ck with the Franchise" was one of my most favorite angles that year. Rick Rude joining the commentary desk with Joey Styles remains one of my most favorite announcing teams ever.
Lastly, I was so happy to see Kurt Angle getting his WWE due. Nobody has ever picked up pro wrestling at a high level faster than angle. Nobody. He joined the main roster during late 1990 and not only figured out the in-ring stuff, but he totally got the personality side. Angle put it perfectly... He wasn't afraid of taking risks and he was confident enough in his own self that he could allow himself to be the butt of jokes and remain strong. I PRAY that Kurt Angle is becoming the NEW RAW General Manager so that he can be an adversary to Stephanie McMahon. They had great chemistry in the past and they can continue to do so now... Stephanie has to take Kurt's advice and let herself become the butt of jokes... Hopefully, the smoother talker in Angle can rip her to shreds on the microphone and Stephanie begins to backdown. If that happens, RAW's atmosphere can instantly improve.
Enjoy these Hall of Fame shows, folks, particularly if you're an older fan and saw many of the wrestlers being inducted.
I always worry about the pro wrestling industry long-term because we've had mostly WWE dominating since 2001 when WCW and ECW closed shop. Furthermore, the booming growth of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) and the Chris Benoit events of 2007 has weakened the interest in athletes becoming pro wrestlers. I also don't believe that the WWE has enough innovative minds to get over a wrestler like John Cena, Rock, Hulk Hogan, Andre, Undertaker, or Steve Austin. I worry that the Creative Team can't even produce next tier guys like Piper, Savage, Michaels, HHH, Hart, Lesnar, Batista, Foley, and others. Hence why the WWE is clinging on to those Ohio Valley Wrestling "Class of 2002" guys with 2 of them featured in both WWE Title matches tonight. With a thinner talent pool to select from and a weaker creative infrastructure, I worry about what the Hall of Fame will look like in 20 years.
I'm the same way about Music. Can you tell me the last time that a new Band has appeared that drew bigtime like the bands of the past? By band, I mean drums, guitars, and bass... You know, actual musicians. If you look at bands before and after 1995, there is a major dropoff. Instead, you've had a plethora of hip hop artists and female performers taking charge instead. They are good in their own right, but they don't have that influence or dominance as the biggest musical acts of the day like Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Who, Pink Floyd, Elvis Presley, and Michael Jackson. Hell, there aren't any bands even comparable to the alternative bands that appeared in the 1990s.
Music has become too corporate and too controlled... Unless you look halfway decent on video, doors won't be opened. And if you get a music deal, the music executives will have a firm grip on your nuts and they will own any music that you produce. It stifles creativity and probably harms interest in joining music... Just like pro wrestling. Furthermore, look at shows like the Voice and American Idol. Both shows have evaluated millions upon millions of people in auditions and yet they've maybe found 2-3 true superstars (Clarkson, Hudson, Underwood). Sound familiar? How many stars did those Tough Enough shows produce? How many stars has the current WWE talent evaluation process found?
What both music and wrestling need is MORE COMPETITION and MORE OUTLETS to display artists who don't want to eat corporate bullcrap in order to possibly succeed. I look at TNA and just shake my head... They've been on cable for over a decade and they've gone no where. Ring of Honor is backed by Sinclair which is a multi-billion dollar corporation but yet they keep wrestling on a shoestring budget (probably why they have billions). We'll see how Lucha Underground does on Netflix but remember, that's a television show which has high expenses. How long can that company sustain itself?
Recently, the WWE reportedly signed Jim Ross to some kind of deal... They also have Paul Heyman under contract while they just had a good night with Jim Cornette. They've even had good relations with Eric Bischoff lately. Those are good wrestling minds who have legitimate success in the business. Employ some of them on your Creative Teams and in my opinion with Jim Ross, place him on your Board of Directors. Triple H has proven with his work in NXT that fans want WRESTLING, the portrayal of a scripted sporting event. They are TIRED of backstage garbage or shows centered around an egotistical authority figure. We're also tired of poor talent evaluation by the McMahons. How can you not notice how CRAZY OVER CM Punk was in 2011 and Daniel Bryan during 2013 yet they want to push Roman Reigns to the moon?
Wrestling, as defined by the WWE, needs some fine tuning... Its inability to create DRAWING stars will kill the business long-term. WWE is getting by on using older veterans who are just hanging on physically. It's made worse when the McMahons refuse to listen to the fans, particularly when they are booing your future babyface hard.
SO JUST CHILL... 'TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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