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Posted in: My Two Centsss
My Two Centsss - nXt TakeOver: Orlando vs. WrestleMania 33 - Which Was The Better Show?
By Super Chrisss
Apr 3, 2017 - 4:39:54 PM

Tom Jenner rocks!

(Writer's Note: I had a very busy WrestleMania weekend which did not allow me time to reply to everyone's comments on my last column. I have righted that wrong, so feel free to go back and read my reply to your feedback as of...NOW!)

In some aspects, this is a sequel to my column last Friday, where I excitedly shared my predictions for both nXT: TakeOver and WrestleMania 33. I know some people didn’t share my enthusiasm for one or both shows, but I think we can all collectively agree that WWE hit it out of the park (for the most part) starting from the Hall of Fame all the way to a seven-hour long WM, can’t we?

*A quick note on the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony – man, what a night. Even though half the inductees were before my time (DDP, Rick Rude and the Rock N Roll Express), I thoroughly enjoyed each one of their speeches (as well as their inductors’ glowing words) which felt like an exciting history lesson. Then, I got teary-eyed when Kurt Angle hit the stage and seeing him so happy made ME so happy. I didn’t even care that the event ran about an hour long – a common theme for the weekend – because it was so much fun. Last Friday’s celebration of the past has to rank up there as one of the top HOF ceremonies, does it not?

But let’s talk about the two back-to-back nights of awesomeness, shall we? Going into WrestleMania weekend, I was one of very few people who believed TakeOver: Orlando had the potential to be considered the superior show for the second straight year. Did nXt takeover WrestleMania once again? My answer might surprise you but let’s begin by comparing each show’s respective undercard offerings.

I’ve seen people on social media compare WrestleMania 33 to the beloved WrestleMania 28; I don’t agree with that comparison. WM28 is one of my all-time favourite WrestleManias, but that’s because the top three matches (Rock/Cena, HHH/Taker, Punk/Jericho) all delivered. The undercard of WM28 wasn’t bad, but Daniel Bryan being squashed by Sheamus in eighteen seconds set a depressing note which dragged down the first hour or so. The complete opposite transpired at WM33: Styles vs. McMahon and Owens vs. Jericho were two great opening matches which set the tone – and arguably the bar – for everyone else to follow. If anything, WM33 is more akin to WM21, in which the undercard matches stole the thunder from the two top title matches, with Triple H vs. Seth Rollins being the show-stealing performance that Shawn Michaels and 2017 Hall of Famer Kurt Angle delivered at WM21.

If we compare the first half of TakeOver to the first half of WrestleMania 33, the show of shows wins in a heartbeat. I thought the eight-person tag which kicked off TakeOver: Orlando was a lot of fun; the last-minute substitute of No Way Jose (who I’ve grown to like, by the way) for Kassius Ohno gave the match a ‘big-fight feel’. It was a highly entertaining match with non-stop action; however, Tye Dillinger losing his third straight TakeOver (in the opener each time, might I add) is somewhat deflating. It makes you wonder if WWE despises the ‘ten’ chants and are punishing Dillinger by sending him out first every night and forcing him to eat a pin as some sort of punishment. Then, the following match - Black vs. Almas - was a bit disappointing. I liked what I saw with Black (the tattoos, kicks and entrance music reminded me of one of my all-time favourite wrestlers, CM Punk) but he didn’t gel with Almas as well as I thought he would. Neither of those two TakeOver matches can hold a candle to Shane/AJ, Owens/Jericho or the Hardy Boyz returning and winning the fatal-four-way ladder match to become Raw tag team champions (what a moment!).

As we move onto the co main-events, TakeOver’s quality goes way up while WrestleMania begins to stagnate. Even though I – and the crowd – shit all over #DIY being the first team eliminated from the tag title match, several of my LOP colleagues pointed out that the Authors of Pain and The Revival would go on to have a great mini-match without Gargano and Ciampa present. If you watch the match back and tune out the crowd after #DIY are prematurely eliminated, it comes off much better than it did live. Since The Revival are almost guaranteed to make their main roster debut this week (with Matt & Jeff officially on Raw, my money is on Dash & Dawson heading over to SmackDown), it made sense for Revival to get their proper send-off from NXT. This was the Top Guys’ going-away party that many of us probably overlooked, but I’m sure will come to appreciate if/when reality sets in that was their last NXT match. I still think #DIY should have emerged with the titles, but if the plan was to get Roman Reigns-level of heat on Akam and Rezar, then mission accomplished.

While TakeOver: Orlando was offering a Match of the Year candidate halfway through it’s runtime, WrestleMania was starting to hiccup. The aforementioned ladder match which featured the surprising and successful return of The Hardy Boyz kept the show moving along nicely after a very forgettable four-way for the Raw Women’s Championship (Bayley should have finally won the championship last night rather than successfully defending it). Nevertheless, the tag team title match came very close to stealing the show but then things got sidetracked. John Cena & Nikki Bella vs. Miz & Maryse – despite it’s spectacular build – was as paint-by-the-numbers and predictable as we all expected it to be. Miz dominated most of the match only for Cena & Nikki to miraculously come back, win the match, and have Cena propose to Nikki. I have no issue whatsoever with the proposal – as it made for a heart-warming WM moment – but I still think the loss will hurt Miz a lot more in the long run. I guess we’ll see.

Triple H vs. Seth Rollins was easily the MOTN for me, except it was a 4-star match that easily could have been bumped to 4.5 if the crowd wasn’t dead for 85% of it. I guess that’s what happens when a) realization sinks in that WrestleMania will probably be going until midnight and b) you book Rollins as a terrible face for months until Royal Rumble weekend. Nevertheless, The Game bounced back nicely from his WM32 trainwreck with Roman Reigns and put on a performance with The Man which was as good – if not better – than his match with Daniel Bryan three years ago. The three co-main-events SHOULD have followed Rollins/HHH but instead we got a waste-of-time Pitbull performance and an embarrassing six-pack challenge for the SmackDown Women’s Championship.

I’ve been very vocal about this topic on social media, but it’s a JOKE that Dean Ambrose was bumped to the pre-show. Was his feud with Baron Corbin for the Intercontinental Championship WrestleMania-worthy? That’s arguable. But one thing that is not disputable is that Ambrose – regardless of who he was feuding with – deserved to be on the main card. He wrestled more matches in 2016 than ANYONE else on the roster; he was WWE Champion for a few months less than a year ago; he was SmackDown’s number one draft pick; he’s one of the most over guys on SmackDown. Putting him on the pre-show because fans complained about the SmackDown women being announced for the kick-off is a joke. It’s a slap in the face. Ambrose is more over and may have competed in more matches by himself since last year than all six women in that match combined (and I’m a big fan of Alexa Bliss, Mickie James and Becky Lynch), yet he’s the sacrificial lamb? Pathetic.

Before you comment “The pre-show is still part of WrestleMania”, “He still got paid”, “He should become a better wrestler”, I’ve already seen all that nonsense and disputed every last one. I don’t care if ten million people watched the Kickoff Show on YouTube or USA Network or whatever; when you go back and rewatch WM33 either on the Network or on Blu-Ray or whatever, you won’t see Dean Ambrose or Baron Corbin – FACT! They wrestled a solid match on the pre-show, but their body language clearly suggested they were unhappy about their demotion. If I’m Dean Ambrose, I go to WWE officials and speak my mind, especially after watching my friends wrestle Triple H and The Undertaker while I chilled in catering. Ridiculous.

ANYWAYS….Asuka vs. Ember Moon was everything both women matches were not: a singles match which told a story, had plenty of drama, and a finish no one saw coming. While not on par with Asuka vs. Bayley or Asuka vs. Emma from past TakeOvers, I thought Moon gave Asuka her best match in a long time. Meanwhile, both women matches at WrestleMania were entirely forgettable. Point – TakeOver.

As we get into each show’s main-event, it’s almost unfair to compare Bobby Roode vs. Shinsuke Nakamura with the final four matches on the WrestleMania 33 card. The former was a Match of the Year candidate while the others…yikes. You know it’s bad when Goldberg vs. Lesnar was easily the most entertaining and satisfying of the lot, and I’m dead-serious. Wyatt vs. Orton wasn’t bad by any means, but the creepy graphics – which I found really cool and laughed at the referee fleeing the ring all three times – seemed to be the focus of the match, rather than the action or story going in. It’s almost like the match focused on all the bad parts about the Wyatt/Orton saga (i.e. the weird magic tricks) rather than the compelling parts (Wyatt trusting Orton only to be stabbed in the back and lose his family). It seemed like they were short on time with Orton’s win being both anti-climatic and undesired by many.

Goldberg vs. Lesnar was exactly what it should have been (short, sweet and actually had you marvelling at the outcome), but this is still a WrestleMania main-event we’re talking about. Thanks for coming, Bill, your check is in the mail (p.s. Don’t come back). I already shared my displeasure of the women’s match but what a terrible match to close an overall great WrestleMania. Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker was the complete opposite of what it could have/should have been. Did Reigns turn heel? Nope. Was the crowd – or at least Reigns’ women/children demographic – behind The Big Dog? Nope. Did the match keep viewers who had been watching since 7pm – if not earlier – awake? Nope. Was it a MOTN or MOTY candidate? Hell no. It was like Vince McMahon rewatched Reigns vs. HHH from WM32 and did everything he could to make Reigns vs. ‘Taker worse than that match and he succeeded. Undertaker appearing to retire after the match made it worth staying awake until midnight to see, sure, but why didn’t they announce it as a retirement match to begin with? You know how many more people would have tuned in/bought merch if ‘Taker vs. Reigns was billed as a retirement match for The Deadman to begin with? It’s almost like WWE doesn’t want to make money sometimes…

Meanwhile, 24 hours earlier, Roode and Nakamura gave #DIY/AOP/Revival a run for their money by delivering a MOTY candidate on their own. I thought their match was similar to HHH/Rollins but a tad better, probably because the NEW nXt title being on the line added suspense and intrigue. With Nakamura losing his contractually obligated rematch, I think it’s safe to say either Raw or SmackDown will be graced with The King of Strong Style very soon.

Thanks to three amazing main-events which delivered, accompanied by two entertaining midcard matches, I conclude that TakeOver trumped WrestleMania once again. However, it was a much closer race this year. If TakeOver: Orlando was a A+, WrestleMania 33 was a A. TakeOver: Orlando is probably my second favourite TakeOver event of all-time while WM33 isn’t my second-favourite WM of all-time, but is definitely in my top ten, if not top five. I don’t want people to think I’m being overly critical of WM33, because the truth is this: had Reigns vs. Taker and Wyatt vs. Orton delivered, and had the IC title match not swapped places with the six-pack challenge at the last minute, WrestleMania 33 would have emerged on top this year. Alas, the first three hours of WrestleMania was very good, but the final two hours dragged down the overall rating. If nothing had taken pace after Lesnar defeated Goldberg for the Universal title, WM33 would be a top 5 WM without hesitation. But that clusterfuck women’s match (which was awful and will always remind people of the match it bumped off the card) paired with that atrocious main-event did more harm than good.

#ThankYouTaker but dude, did you really have to make Roman look strong in your final match?


YOUR Two Centsss: What was your favourite moment, match, show from this past weekend? Why?

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