The Ultimate Last Ride – STC’s Wrestlemania 33 Roll-up.

Ok. It’s been a few hours now. We’ve all had some time to process everything that went down, or at least get some sleep. Is everyone ok? We were sent on a pretty emotional ride there. A roller-coaster of emotion you might say. Which is fitting, considering there was a roller-coaster as part of the set.

Wrestlemania 33 was full of extreme highs, devastating lows, and some fairly boring middles. I’m going to do my best to go through each match in some detail, with a bit of opinion thrown in for good measure.

So, with 7 hours of content, and 13 matches to dissect, we’ve got a lot to get through So let’s get right down to business.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*

 

The Pre-Show

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match – Neville(c) vs Austin Aries

This was a surprise. At least until we all found out how the Battle Royal would end. I, like many others had thought this match would take place during the second hour of the pre-show, but instead it became the first in-ring action of the day.

What a great opening match. Competitive, exciting, surprising. Both Neville and Aries brought it hard, Neville’s German Suplexes being a highlight for me. Aries hit the Five-arm and it looked like for a second the title was going to change hands, but no. Alas. Neville raked Aries previously injured eye, and hit the always amazing Red Arrow, and scored the pinfall. Excellent work by both guys, and a great way to kick off the event. Even if not all that many people saw it. Which is a shame.

Your winner, and still King of the Cruiserweights, Neville.

The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Ok, let’s be honest here. This was all a big ploy to get mainstream coverage for a shock appearance by..Rob Gronkowski? Now I’m sure this was awesome for North American fans, or worldwide fans who follow the NFL, but for those of us who don’t, he’s just some guy who Mojo knows.

I couldn’t really get into this match. Battle royals are clumsy and messy, but this one just felt like there was no point to it, other than a celebrity getting the spotlight. And, on that note, would it not have been more impressive if it wasn’t Jinder Mahal, but say, another bigger name? If the point was to put over the NFL player, why not use someone that would actually be an impressive knockdown? Nothing against Mahal, but he’s not the Big Show.

And that’s another point. Braun was on a massive wave of momentum the last month or two, and he’s eliminated in the first few minutes of the match? What about Big Show? We’ve heard rumblings that he’s closing out his career. This can’t be his last match. He needs a bigger send off. Heh… Bigger.

So everyone is eliminated and then Mojo gets help from his mate to win the match. But not before the greatest security guard in history almost screws up the entire finish of the match. Seriously. WWE. Employ her. You’ll never need to worry about people jumping the rail.

Overall this was forgettable. Maybe Mojo will get a push from it, but it feels like he only won so WWE could get his old football buddy on TV.
Your Winner: Mojo Rawley (And old mate Gronkowski)

WWE Intercontinental Championship match – Dean Ambrose(c) vs Baron Corbin

The fact that this match wasn’t even featured on last week’s Smackdown Live should have been a clue shouldn’t it? If the WWE didn’t promote it, why would it be on the main card? I really don’t understand this. Dean Ambrose was meant to be one of the top guys on Smackdown. and Baron, despite what anyone thinks, is a star of the future. (once he loses a hair vs hair match).

Honestly I don’t remember a lot of this match. I don’t remember it being bad, but I don’t remember a lot of exciting things. I had to go and watch a highlight video to remember the ending. End of Days, countered into the Dirty Deeds.

This match just kind of fell into a wrong place/wrong time thing for me. I was pumped for the start of wrestlemania and not really focused on what was happening. The feud hadn’t been given enough importance on Smackdown, which is a huge shame because just 12 months earlier that Intercontinental title meant a lot. But the place the hand Corbin his first championship, is not on the pre-show of a pay per view. It could be Smackdown live this week though…
Your winner and STILL Intercontinental Champion: Dean Ambrose

The Main Card

AJ Styles vs Shane McMahon

My initial reaction was that this was a strange place for this match, but going on first, you have to set the stage for the evening and the events to come, so you need something strong right out of the gate. And wow, AJ and Shane delivered. I had my doubts, as I’m sure many of you did. How could Shane McMahon have a ‘traditional’ wrestling match when he’s known as a big spot guy?

Well, the answer is, excellently. This was a great match, full of interesting story, and nerve-wracking moments. Shane McMahon seems to have that Mick Foley mentality of needing to put his body on the line (albeit to a lesser extent than Foley) multiple times in a match to feel like the crowd get their money’s worth. The Coast to Coast, the missed elbow through the table, the SHOOTING STAR PRESS(!!). But not only that, Shane showed that he could wrestle. There were submission attempts, and chain wrestling exchanges, and when you add all that up it equates to one hell of a match.

I haven’t talked much about AJ Styles. He is exactly what he says. Phenomenal. He was, as always, right up there with the best performers of the night. He’s flawless. And this win, hopefully sets him back on a path to the WWE Championship, and maybe in another year, when Wrestlemania 34 rolls around, he’ll finally be where he deserves to be. In the main event.

All up, absolutely wonderful opening match.

Your winner: AJ Styles

WWE United States Championship Match – Chris Jericho(c) vs Kevin Owens

KO-Mania 2 is here! In…a really bad position on the card. That was the takeaway for the start of the event for me. At least initially. Why were these matches where they were? (of course that would be answered later, quite DELIGHTFULLY)

Highlights of this match for me include the giant inflatable list of Jericho, and the light up leather scarf-jacket hybrid Jericho wore to the ring.

I’ve loved the story leading up to this match as well. It feels like WWE change things around so much and move from storyline to storyline so quickly these days, that this long, slow-burn build that, has been going at least 6 months, and probably longer, is a great change of pace. And it helps elevate the match, and make it feel bigger than it’s position on the card would have you believe.

Great action between Owens & Jericho, lots of counters of moves, which makes sense considering how well they know each other. The Pop Up Powerbomb countered into the Codebreaker was a personal favourite. Jericho just knows how to work, and I definitely drank it in, man.
I’m really glad WWE and Owens haven’t overused that apron powerbomb. Finishers on the outside that end matches always feel a bit weird to me, but considering that’s the move that took out Sami Zayn and others, it’s a fitting way for this match to end, because we know how devastating it is.

Hopefully we get one more match between these two at Payback, because you just know Chris Jericho has a rematch clause somewhere in that list of his.

Your winner, and NEW United States Champion: Kevin Owens

WWE Raw Women’s Championship Fatal 4 Way Elmination match – Bayley(c) vs Charlotte Flair vs Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax

Unless I missed something, this match wasn’t ever promoted as an elimination match, was it? If I’m wrong about that let me know in the comments.

Once again the placement of this match was a little strange, but in hindsight, it worked. The addition (at least to me) of the eliminations to the match definitely brought out some more storytelling options the women could capitalise on, and capitalise they did.

Nia Jax was the first woman eliminated, and it took all 3 of her opponents to beat her. Now, you could look at this two ways. One, if Nia was going to be eliminated early, what even was the point of her being involved and added to the match? Or two: Nia is even more of a monster now. She was dominant, she was strong, and it took 3 women to hold her down for a 3 count. Initially I was in the first camp, but thinking about it a bit and letting things die down and process, I really like the way everything went down. Nia just needs more improvement on her character (one expression isn’t enough to prove you’re not like most girls), and she’ll be destined for great things. That big boot into a double back suplex on Nia was incredible though. Just saying…

Sasha Banks was the next to be eliminated and… this felt weird. There was an exposed turnbuckle sure, but I don’t think the crowd were expecting it at all, and it felt a little flat because of that. I think sometimes as fans we all get the same idea in our heads, and when it doesn’t happen, it feels like nothing else is good enough because what we wanted didn’t occur. The rumours of a Sasha Banks heel turn were rife for weeks, but that wasn’t the story WWE wanted to tell us this time. Raw may be another story.. because…

Bayley retained! Once Sasha was gone, it seemed like just a matter of time before Charlotte became the 5 time (Booker?) Women’s Champion, but Bayley was able to pull out a victory after a nice finishing sequence, ending things with a Macho Man-esque elbow drop.

It was a solid match, a fine match that told the story well. My hope is that tomorrow the rumours prove to be correct, and we move into a Bayley vs Sasha program for a while. Whatever happens, Bayley’s emotional moment when she won was one of the highlights for me.

Your winner and STILL Raw Women’s Champion: Bayley

Fatal 4 way Tag Team Ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Titles.

Fatal 4 Way I hear you say? Did you watch Wrestlemania? Of course you did. If not STOP READING THIS NOW AND WATCH WRESTLE-FREAKIN-MANIA!

Ok. Have you watched? Good.

THE HARDYS ARE BACK! And suddenly the placement of the previous matches felt right for me.
This was the big dangerous match. There’s one every year at Wrestlemania, and this year, it was for the Tag Team Titles. and it was WONDERFUL.
Everybody is going to be talking about the Hardys, what characters they will be using going forward, and how amazing their surprise return was (and it was). I agree with all of that, and am just as curious, but I don’t want to forget the other three team’s contributions.

Enzo and Cass are, despite growing a little stale, still amazingly over with fans, and, at least until the Hardys came out, seemed to be the favourites. Sheamus and Cesaro’s transformation into a credible cohesive team is wonderful to see, and has given them both a new lease on their career. And The Club as always are reliable and entertaining, despite maybe not being booked as well as they could have been this past year.

But really, this match was all about the Hardys. I don’t think anyone will really remember much besides Jeff’s crazy Swanton off of that huge ladder, and then Matt grabbing the titles and celebrating the DELETION of everyone else.

I’m so excited to see what happens on Raw, and to see how broken these Hardys in fact, are.

Your winners and NEW Raw Tag Team Champions: The Hardys!

John Cena & Nikki Bella vs The Miz & Maryse

This match. This match could have been something. Miz has been the hottest heel in the WWE for months. What a way to reward all his hard work this could have been. Maryse could have got the pin, she and Miz could have celebrated. Cena clears the ring, then consoles Nikki, and then the post match happens exactly the same and we all get happy again.
But that’s not the story WWE wanted to tell. They wanted to give us a dominant couple, destroying the mean bully who was making fun of them. Which is fine. I’m just not sure where Miz goes from here yet. Maybe he could get a shot at the WWE championship?

The match itself was what it was, it was fine. And then we got the thing everyone had been speculating about for weeks. John Cena FINALLY proposed to Nikki Bella. And of course, she said yes! Which was lovely, for them. I feel like with all the rumour and expectation of the proposal it definitely detracted from the emotion of the moment, but it was a great moment nonetheless.

Your winners (and newly engaged couple): John Cena & Nikki Bella
Non-Sanctioned Match: Seth Rollins vs Triple H

Ok so just a quick little note here, my stream was being screwy during this match so I missed a bit of the action. I’ll cover what I saw though.

Triple H’s entrances are always interesting, and always a little cheesy. This year was no exception. This year he was biker Conan the Barbarian. Or he was maybe paying a little tribute to Undertaker…?

Seth’s entrance was pretty cool as well. Or on fire. I don’t know. It’s very late here!

So the match was good, the parts that I saw. Both these guys know how to tell a story, and Stephanie being at ringside to help her husband out was a nice added touch. I did not expect to see her go through a table though! But that happened, and I’m glad for it. Seth sold the knee well, and it really felt like it was genuinely a threat to his wellbeing if it got hurt.

The last few minutes of the match turned into “who can do a damn pedigree”, which felt like wrestling matches of yesteryear, with the trading back and forth of finishers. I happen to like that, and miss it. Seth finished things with just one pedigree as well. In a world where people are kicking out of Tombstone Piledrivers, for Triple H to lose to (essentially) his own move, it’s a big thing and makes Seth look great. Can’t wait to see what’s next.

Your Winner: Seth Rollins

WWE Championship Match: Bray Wyatt(c) vs Randy Orton

Ahh the low point of the evening. Not even Bray’s ability to project things from a screen in the ceiling could save this match. Blutly, Orton winning is not the right move. This match felt like it drained the energy out of the room, not added more, which is what a good match should do.

There’s not much more needed to be said. Bray is great, and I hope one day soon they start using him properly.

Your Winner and NEW WWE Champion: Randy Orton

WWE Universal Championship match – Goldberg(c) vs Brock Lesnar

10.

10 suplexes.

10 german suplexes.

This match started at 100 and stayed there the whole time. Goldberg hit his spear multiple times, Lesnar suplexed, and repeated. Goldberg speared Lesnar through the barricade which looked fairly brutal. Lesnar leapfrogged yet another goldberg spear. The athleticism the big guys can show  is huge these days.

And yes, this match was longer than any Goldberg had since 2004, but that’s ok. Any longer and it would have felt stale. Perfect ending to a super intense feud.

Your winner and NEW WWE Universal champion: Brock Lesnar

6-pack Challenge for the Smackdown Women’s Championship

Quick, everyone do your finisher! I felt like that was a lot of what this match was about. Maybe there were time constraints (the show ended up running over 5 hours), but having said that, it didn’t feel like a bad thing. It felt very hectic, which makes sense, and
in the end, the home-town girl winning back the title she never truly lost is the right decision.

Some other quick thoughts: James Ellsworth has been in more Wrestlemania matches than Samoa Joe.
Becky should have whipped everyone with her hair, those dreads looked like they’d be pretty stiff.
We should have known by the length of the entrances that Naomi was walking away with the Title.
GIVE NATTIE A CHANCE!

My only real complaint is the finish itself. Alexa went for a really strange looking cover, and because of that got reversed into that submission. That’s always a bad idea in my opinion. It was super obvious that something was going to happen based on the way she went to pin Naomi. But, what’s great about Smackdown’s Women’s division is that it rarely feels predictable or boring. Hopefully that trend continues

Your winner, and NEW Smackdown Women’s Champion: Naomi

Roman Reigns vs The Undertaker

And now we come to the main event. Now, I need to point out that Undertaker has been, and will always be my favourite wrestler, so it’s been a bit emotional today.

I think I’ll write a whole piece on just this match, and whatever happens on this week’s Raw, because The Undertaker deserves more than a couple of paragraphs, but for right now I’ll sum things up.

Undertaker… has retired. It’s hard to even type that. But, unless something else is confirmed on Raw, it seems like we’ve seen the last of the Deadman. I just wish this wasn’t the match that he ended with.

The match was fine. Better than fine really. It was made No Holds Barred seemingly as Reigns entered the ring. That helped. Jim Ross on commentary was amazing. They told a great story. Undertaker was dominant, and beat some respect into Reigns, but in the end didn’t have enough to be able to take down the younger Reigns, who would use chairs, multiple spears, two failed attempts at a tombstone and superman punches to claim the yard. But.. this is The Undertaker. Beating Undertaker at wrestlemania… One other person has done that. You HAVE to make the most of that fact, and use that rub the right way.

But with Roman still being the same “guy”, with him not (at least at the time of writing this) completing an obvious heel turn, it feels like the WWE hasn’t made the most of the huge moment of Undertaker’s last match.

Initially, I was angry at the end of the match. I didn’t even watch the final pinfall. I just sat, head in hands, sad at the missed opportunity to cement Roman as a top heel. The more I thought about the match though, the more parallels I began to draw between this match, and Undertaker/HBK II from Wrestlemania 26. ‘Taker didn’t WANT to retire Shawn, but he had to win. Reigns didn’t want to keep hitting ‘Taker with that chair it seemed, yelling stay down. But the Deadman kept coming at him and he had to put him down.

Maybe WWE’s goal was to make sure the fans keep having the same reaction to Roman, but it feels like the wrong kind of heat. People don’t want to see him get beaten up, they just don’t want to see him. Unfortunately for them, he’s going to be around for a long time.

Your winner: Roman Reigns

But let’s talk what happened after the match.
Undertaker’s music played, and he left his gloves, coat, and hat in the middle of the ring, and seemingly walked out as Mark. It was symbolic, simple, beautiful and sad. He kissed his wife, and then left the arena the same way he entered.
Regardless of your opinion of the man and his last few year’s worth of work, you cannot deny the impact he has made in WWE. His loyalty, staying with a faltering company in the mid 90’s. Re-inventing his character to never get stale. Taking a huge risk by completely leaving behind (temporarily) the deadman to bring a whole different side of himself out for a couple of years. The streak. The new stars he helped create. I don’t know what the WWE, and Wrestlemania will look like without the Deadman, but his retirement leaves a massive hole, that will probably never be re-filled.

Thank you Undertaker. It’s your yard forever.

Final thoughts

As I said at the beginning of this, this year’s Wrestlemania was a rollercoaster, and one of the most emotional I can remember in the last decade. In fact, probably not since the last time ‘Mania was in Florida, and Ric Flair’s retirement, can I remember anything being as moving as the main event this year. As always we got excellent action, things we expected, surprises we didn’t, but this year, something feels a little darker now that things are over.

I’m excited to see what Raw and Smackdown bring, and how the next few months shape up.

What was your favourite part of Wrestlemania? Let me know in the comments, or on twitter ( https://twitter.com/_STCWrestling_ ) or facebook ( https://www.facebook.com/SquaringTheCircleWrestling ).

Cheers! I’m off to bed!

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