OK, better late than never here’s my WrestleMania report. The show was pretty long and had 11 actual matches (I’m not counting the Rock’s segment), more than we’ve had in a while. As expected Roman Reigns walked out as the champion, much to the chagrin of a lot of people. The show also saw the retirement of the Diva’s division and title (being replaced by the Women’s Title), an appearance by a few retired legends, and the return to the show of Hell in a Cell. So what did I think of it all?
We got three of those here, a U.S. Title match between Kallisto and Ryback, a tag team match between the Usos and the Dudleys, and a 10 DIva tag team match between the Total Divas team (Paige, Brie Bella, Alicia Fox, Natalya, and Eva Marie) and team BAD and Blonde (Naomi, Tamina Snuka, Summer Rae, Lana, and Emma). The U.S. Title match and the Diva’s match (which was the final WWE Diva’s match) were pretty good. All the ladies got in some work, and props to Eva Marie for actually pulling off moves without looking like she was going injure anyone. Brie Bella got the win for her team with her husband Daniel Bryan’s finisher in what will likely be her final match. The Uso/Dudleys tag team match was just kinda there.
The main show:
Seven man Intercontinental Title Ladder Match: Kevin Owens (c) vs Sami Zayn vs Zack Ryder vs Dolph Ziggler vs Sin Cara vs The Miz vs Stardust – I said beforehand that “We know that Ryder, Miz, Stardust, and Cara have zero chance at winning – they are there to take bumps and nothing else….my pick is Owens retaining the title here.” And boy was I wrong. Having a ladder match as the opener is a normal thing for this show, and this year’s was much better than last year’s. It was only two minutes longer but they managed to work in more spots and guys got more time to work in their individual stuff. Sami Zayn’s dive through the ladder was spectacular, and Stardust having a polka dot ladder to match his polka dot suit (in tribute to his dad Dusty Rhodes) was a nice touch. Zach Ryder winning was totally unexpected; I don’t think anybody had that as their pick. Good for him, by the way. He’s been through a lot over the last four years so he was due a bone being thrown to him. Even though he dropped the title on RAW the next night this was a good moment for him.
AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho – Great match here. Like I figured they’d gotten used to each other and would be able to let it all hang out. They did a great storytelling job here.
Jericho winning caught me off guard; I figured this was a vehicle to get Styles a decisive victory and launch him, so I was confused at the result. But I got my answer the next night on RAW when he won the match to become number one contender. Jericho winning probably means he’ll be sticking around for a while.
Six Man Tag Team Match: The New Day vs The League of Nations – The New Day entrance alone made this fun. Match kinda went the way I thought it would, although I had New Day winning and not the League. The aftermath was the payoff, though. The League calling out anyone to take them on and the challenge being met by legends Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, and Stone Cold Steve Austin was the first of several guest appearances injected to offset the absence of injured big names. It was a fun moment all around and great fan service, a good way to turn a throwaway match into something worth watching.
Street fight: Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar – The biggest letdown of the night for me. Given how long some of the later matches went (more on that later), to cut these two to 13 minutes was the wrong move. And then Dean not using either the barb wire bat or the chainsaw was a waste of time. Obviously he shouldn’t have cut Lesnar with a chainsaw but a spot where he used it to cut a table in half would have been good. Copious use of chairs was good but we could have gotten some kind of corner table spot in, right? Lesnar totally mailed it in, too. He won as I expected so I got something right.
Triple Threat Diva’s Title Match: Charlotte (c) vs Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch – Match of the night, and unlike in previous years that’s a compliment.
This is what the advocates for a better place for women’s wrestling have been promising us all along, that if you got good athletes who were good wrestlers and gave them the proper buildup they would do just as well as the men. They proved that in spades last night, from the ring entrances on down.
Charlotte hit a moonsault off the top rope to the floor and Sasha hit a sweet frog splash. Sasha appeared to be getting coronated, what with her Snoop Dogg accompanied ring entrance but the match went to Charlotte with an assist from her dad, Ric Flair.
That was my prediction, and with the Diva’s division being wiped clean and replaced with the Women’s division keeping the belt on the same person to start things out isn’t a bad idea.
Hell in the Cell: Shane McMahon vs The Undertaker – Shane did what he came to do: put up a credible fight and a few insane bumps before the finish, however it would go. Pulling off a corner to corner Van Terminator at 46 is pretty damn impressive. And the insane leap off the top of the cage was ridiculous. There’s no greater testament to the lengths these guys go to in entertaining us than Shane going for that move. With Shane still being around Monday night, it’s possible that he will get control later (and it looks like the seeds are possibly being planted for a brand extension so there’s that). That match ran way long for my tastes (30 minutes), especially for what was a two spot event.
Andre the Giant Battle Royal – After being relegated to the preshow last year, this match was moved a lot further up. The mystery four places were filled by former WWE wrestler Tatanka (who looked like he’s been eating good in retirement), for WWE and WCW star Diamond Dallas Page, NXT guy Baron Corbin, and……..Shaquille O’Neal. Yes, that Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq did good for the short time he was in there and didn’t embarrass himself. Once the action started I pegged Corbin to win it, and that happened. And as I figured this was the prelude to Corbin’s main roster call up Monday night.
WWE Title Match: Triple H (c) vs Roman Reigns – As expected Reigns got booed heavily by the crowd. The match was good, but the crowd being against Roman and the length (27 minutes) took away from it. They could have shaved seven or eight minutes off of it and gotten the same results. Judging by how Roman came out on Monday night it looks like they might be slowly going in the heel direction with him, or at least the ‘out for myself’ direction. I think at this point they have to accept that a large part of the audience does not want him as the main face on the roster. There is money in him, however, so it’s time to try some new ways of maximizing it. Hopefully they’ll stick with what it appears they are doing now.
Good show but way too long, to the point of detracting from it. If you jumped in for the preshow matches and watched it all the way through you’re talking five hours and some change. The main event and the Hell in a Cell matches could have been cut down significantly, the Rock’s segment with the Wyatt Family ran way long and was too late in the show, but there are three matches (the ladder match, women’s title match, and Jericho-Styles) that are worthy of repeated viewings, and some other good ones worth a second look. I get that if you went in against Roman winning or being in the main event then your grade for the show is going to be affected by that. But that isn’t the case for me so I’m fine calling this a good effort by the company.