The cruiserweight title match was really good; the good thing about them going on the preshow is that they got 15 minutes instead of 10, and the finish allows for a rematch. Battle Royals are always ok at best; the Gronk run-in was fine as a sports entertainment moment. Mojo Rawley winning it…..I would have gone with Sami Zayn, but they obviously want to try something with Mojo so let them have a go at it. The Intercontinental Title match was just ok; we all had this pegged for a title change but once it got moved here I can see why they passed on that.
AJ Styles vs Shane McMahon
One of many matches that no one wanted until the buildup started, and then even with that our hopes were that AJ would carry Shane to something passable and hopefully not job. Well……to be blunt, this match was great. It’s in the top tier of opening matches, thanks to Shane. AJ was excellent as always but Shane worked his ass off, pulling out both a moonsault attempt and a shooting star press. And he hit another coast to coast at 40 something years old. They even got in a mat wrestling sequence at the beginning. There were genuine moments where I thought AJ was gonna lose, but it ended the exact way it should have. I will never doubt you again, Shane McMahon and as always, all hail AJ Styles.
US Title Match: Chris jericho (c) vs Kevin Owens
Major props for the inflatable List of Jericho and the light up scarf! The match suffered early on from having to follow that opener, but as it went on it found it’s way to showing it belonged here. Really good work from both guys and it’s great that Jericho can still go at 46 years old.
RAW Women’s Title Match: Bayley (c) vs Nia Jax vs Charlotte vs Sasha Banks
I wanted the ladies to get a little more time here but the match was good for what they did have. The three on one pile on to get rid of Nia was a smart way to go, but the rest of it was just ok. Bayley retains, and my guess is that we continue to the eventual Sasha heel turn.
RAW Tag Team Title Match: Gallows & Anderson vs Sheamus & Cesaro vs Enzo & Cas
And the award for best surprise goes to….the return of the Hardys!
If you’re on the internet you knew this was a possibility but to see it actually happen was awesome. So the three way ladder match became a four way, and was really good. The Hardys got all their stuff in, as did everyone else. Sheamus and Cesaro have really gelled as a team and I hope they stick together. The Hardys coming back after seven years away and winning the tag team belts in a ladder match is why you have WrestleMania in the first place.
John Cena and Nikki Bella vs The Miz and Maryse
Your sports entertainment match for the evening. It was about what I expected. Maryse hasn’t wrestled a match in years, so the bit to which she was involved was about right. Miz and Maryse are gold right now and he should absolutely get a WWE title run later this year.
Seth Rollins vs Triple H
Big entrances here as expected, with Triple H and Stephanie going full biker and Rollins with a torch lighting of the ramp.
The match was like a lot of Triple H – good overall, but with a feeling that it’s been going on too long after a while (which it did; they went 25 minutes). This would hurt some of the matches that followed as it was clear they were getting cut for time. The crowd checked out a bit for it too; this seems to be a staple of Hunter’s big matches – they go too long and they lose the crowd halfway through. I cannot give Stephanie enough props for taking that table bump during the finish. No Samoa Joe run in; I just knew that was gonna happen but whatever.
WWE World Title Match: Bray Wyatt (c) vs Randy Orton
This was weird, was cut for time (only 10 minutes), and ended somewhat abruptly. Match was just meh, and I’m not sure what to make of Randy going over for the title. Hopefully it results in the aforementioned Miz title win later this year. You can skip this if you watch it later.
WWE Universal Title Match: Goldberg (c) vs Brock Lesnar
All of us experts just knew this was going to be terrible, and by God it was just the opposite. Short (under five minutes), but intense and brutal as hell. This is exactly what we were hoping for as far as a match between these two. They knew what they were doing, everyone. Building up to this, and saving Goldberg’s best effort for this show was the right move.
Smackdown Women’s Title Six Pack Challenge
Another pretty good match that got cut for time; they only got five and a half minutes. The Smackdown ladies did good work for the time they got. Good to see Naomi get rewarded in her hometown with a title win.
Roman Reigns vs The Undertaker
It’s always good to have JR back on commentary. Ok, where do I start? There were a lot of ‘this is terrible/worst match ever’ takes on Twitter while the match was going on……just stop it already. I’ve seen way worse and so have you. Go watch WrestleMania 9 and check back with me.
That being said, this was easily the worst Taker match in years. The man could not keep up his end of thr bargain here and looked like a man who should have retired two years ago. He looked lost in some spots and Roman had to carry the match. And at 23 minutes it was about eight minutes too long given Taker’s physical state. The things they got right were good, and overall I’d call this sloppy but ok. Taker had a real Willie Mays in New York feel, though. And when the end came both wrestlers and fans felt the sadness of the end of an era. For all the brash promo work of the last week, Roman clearly wasn’t too high on having to retire the man.
And then we got the goodbye, with Taker donning his hat, coat, and gloves one more time..
Then leaving them in the ring to walk off into night
Whatever you think of the match, and whether Roman should have been the one to send him off (go jump in the lake with the ‘not Roman!’ takes already), you can’t be a fan and not be moved by that closing scene.
Great show. Better than last year for sure, and better than 30 and 31 on sheer volume. The concerns I had about it being a bloated show were ultimately unfounded beyond a few matches getting cut short. I’ll definitely be watching this over a lot.