When it’s all said and done, the seven-hour spectacular that was WrestleMania 33 will go down as a newsworthy event that was better than it had any business being. Thirteen matches, a restroom break in the form of a Pitbull concert, one marriage proposal, the triumphant return of a popular duo, and the end of a legendary career encapsulates a roller-coaster of emotions for a show aptly named, the ultimate thrill ride.
WWE took over their home away from home this past weekend as Orlando, FL played host to the Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday along with an action packed NXT TakeOver card on Saturday. Then, the show of shows captivated a worldwide audience inside of the Camping World Stadium along with millions watching along on the WWE Network.
Neville pinned Austin Aries to retain the Cruiserweight Championship:
Neville’s defense of the Cruiserweight title against Austin Aries was a well worked matched that was given an ample amount of time. Unfortunately, the crowd was still filing into the building, which made the match come off less than it was. Neville retained with the Red Arrow, which the Brit hasn’t used since turning heel. Fans had pegged Aries to go over, but Neville winning here will give Aries a chance to get over with the audience a little more while chasing the belt.
Mojo Rawley won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal:
New England Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski sitting in the front row was a bright neon spoiler alert. Gronk’s friendship with MoJo Rawley has been mentioned over the past several weeks. Rawley was the first wrestler to declare his entry into the battle royal, so his win was a nice way to tie it all together. Plus, as a Pats fan, seeing Gronk hitting Jinder Mahal with a running tackle was a cool moment.
Surprisingly, Bruan Strowman didn’t do much in this match. Right now, he’s at the point where no one wants to see him lose. He was eliminated around the two-minute mark by ten wrestlers, which protected his character. NXT’s Killian Dain made it to the final three, which means WWE has plans for the big guy.
Dean Ambrose pinned Baron Corbin to retain the Intercontinental Championship:
When a fan-driven social media campaign got the SmackDown Women’s Title match promoted to the main card, no one expected the Intercontinental Championship match to take its place on the kickoff show. Many thought Corbin was going to win the title, but having him win it on the kickoff show won’t have the desired effect of making him stand out as a threat to be taken seriously. Smart money says Corbin wins it down the line. It was a TV match with nothing to complain about.
Now, let the main card commence.
AJ Styles pinned Shane McMahon:
If anyone told me that Shane McMahon was going to work the opening match on any show, I would have bet the farm that you were wrong. This regular wrestling match saw some sloppy work from Shane early on. There were some clunky transitions that made you wonder if AJ Styles could polish this turd.
The referee got bumped, which was a clever way of incorporating the remarkable stunts into the match. Shane kicked out of the Styles Clash, which only made sense here because AJ did it as a reversal out of a triangle choke that wore him down.
Shane landed a coast to coast dropkick, which I enjoyed because AJ refused to hold up the trash can making Shane wedge it between the ropes. In many ways, this reminded me of that classic striker versus grappler MMA fight where Shane used his Muay Thai to fend off AJ’s wrestling.
Shane caught AJ in a triangle choke off a springboard 450, which looked like something that would happen in a video game. Shane missed a shooting star press and AJ leveled him with a Phenomenal Forearm for the win. AJ deserves a UFC style performance of the night bonus. Great way to open the show.
Kevin Owens pinned Chris Jericho to win the U.S. Championship:
For the most part, this match keeps up the momentum set by the hot start of the opening match. Owens rope break with one finger might have been the highlight of the match. Owens kept yelling “You were never my best friend” towards Jericho. Owens won the title with a power bomb on the apron for the pin.
Bayley defeated Charlotte, Nix Jax, and Sasha Banks to retain the Raw Women’s Championship:
Nia Jax was triple teamed by the other three women and ended her night with a Shield power bomb followed by a pig pile pin for the elimination. Charlotte delivered an awesome corkscrew moonsault off the top rope to the outside of the floor. It was surprising because I thought it was going to be the same moonsault spot from last year.
Charlotte pinned Banks after utilizing the exposed turnbuckle and Bayley used the Macho Man elbow drop to pin Charlotte for the win. This was a good match, but it would have made for a better moment if Bayley went in as the challenger and won the title here.
The Hardys defeated Luke Gallows & Karl Anderson, Sheamus & Cesaro and Enzo & Big Cass to become the Raw Tag Team Champions:
Matt and Jeff Hardy made their surprise return to WWE and became the fourth team in this match after The New Day teased that it was going to be them. The crowd popped for the Hardy’s in a major way and was one of the biggest WrestleMania reactions, ever.
The highlight of the match saw Jeff come off the top of the ladder onto Sheamus and Cesaro who were on ladders placed between the ring apron and the barricade. Matt quickly ran up the ladder and grabbed the belts.
This won’t go down as a legendary WrestleMania ladder match, but it was short, sweet, and served its purpose. I went into this match thinking it was Enzo and Cass’ time to get the belts. After the Hardy’s came out, there was no other way for this match to go.
John Cena and Nikki Bella defeated The Miz and Maryse:
These four did almost nothing in this match…And they didn’t need to. The story was simple as Miz and Maryse finally got there comeuppance. Cena and Nikki did a double five knuckle shuffle followed by both hitting their finishers for the double pin. The Miz was super over with the crowd.
Cena proposed to Nikki after the match and set it up with a story about how he asked her to marry him as she went into neck surgery last year. However, she didn’t remember due to the anesthesia. Cena got on his knee, took out a big rock, and Nikki said yes. It came off as a great moment with both families sitting in the front row.
Seth Rollins defeated Triple H in an Unsanctioned Match:
It took a while for them to get the crowd since they were so tired from all of the excitement thus far. The crowd was so quiet that I was beginning to think it would be WrestleMania 18 and 25 all over again for Triple H. The crowd got into it later on, but it wasn’t due to the match which was well worked.
Rollins kicked out of the Pedigree, Triple H kicked out of a Phoenix Splash and Stephanie McMahon went through a table after she bumped into off a super kick. Rollins delivered the Pedigree for the pin, which could turn into a great story if WWE chooses to use it. Triple H got beat by his own move from his former protégé with a bad leg.
Randy Orton pinned Bray Wyatt to win the WWE Championship:
The most memorable thing about this match were the graphics of maggots, worms, and bugs on the mat. It was a very cool visual, it might have got more of a reaction from the live crowd if done earlier, but it needed to be dark out.
Orton hit an RKO on the floor to Wyatt, kicked out of Sister Abigail, and hit another RKO in the ring for the pin. The crowd was burned out by this match, too, but unlike HHH/Rollins, they never really got the crowd. This was short for a WWE title match and besides the worm gimmicks, this match might be the least memorable of the show.
Brock Lesnar pinned Bill Goldberg to become the WWE Universal Champion:
Superman vs. Doomsday. Colossus vs. Juggernaut. 4 minutes and 45 seconds of perfection saw Goldberg and Lesnar level each other with big move after big move. Lesnar hit two German suplexes but Goldberg came back with two spears followed by another one through the ringside barricade.
Goldberg delivered a jackhammer but Lesnar kicked out. Lesnar regained control and hit seven German suplexes as the crowd counted along with each one. Lesnar finally hit an f-5 for the win. This was a pro-Lesnar crowd for the most part even though Goldberg chants came later.
Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss, Carmella, Natalya, Becky Lynch & Mickie James to become the SmackDown Women’s Champion:
You could tell they didn’t have much time by how fast they were working in the ring. Everyone got their stuff in. Natalya applied the sharpshooter to Naomi and Carmella at the same time. Lynch hit the t-bone suplex on James Ellsworth, which got a nice reaction. Naomi went for a springboard but Bliss caught her with a forearm. Bliss went for the pin, but Naomi reversed it into a submission for the tap out.
Roman Reigns pinned The Undertaker:
Spears, Superman punches, chokeslams, and chair shots galore filled up most of the match. Taker delivered a tombstone. Reigns reversed a tombstone attempt and tried to deliver one of his own but it was botched. They tried to save the spot, but it was almost uncomfortable to watch.
The closing moments of the match is where the real drama began to unfold. Reigns battered Taker with repeated chair shots, measured him for a second spear, hit it, and Taker kicked out. Reigns sold it really well as if he couldn’t believe Taker wouldn’t stay down. Reigns hit a third spear, Taker kicked out, and the crowd went bonkers.
Reigns was shocked, then showed a little sympathy as Taker was very slow to get up. Then the sympathy went away as Reigns hit another Superman punch and ran off the ropes twice to hit a super spear for the 1-2-3. Just like last year, the crowd audio was turned down so you couldn’t hear the boo birds.
Jim Ross was brought back to provide commentary for this match and gave it that big fight feel that only he can deliver. Taker looked as if he could barely defend himself and Ross called to it by saying his hands were down as Reigns delivered the final blow. Ross made a great call after the pinfall stating “The deed to the yard has changed hands.”
After some celebratory fireworks, Undertaker was shown in the ring wearing his jacket and hat. He started to leave, came back, stood in the center of the ring for a bit, and then took his gloves off. He placed them in the middle of the ring. He took off his coat, folded it and placed also put it in the ring. Once he took his hat off, “Thank you Taker” chants with a huge ovation commenced.
Final Thoughts: I went into this believing it was going to be a boring show but it ending being really good. The Hardy’s return, Cena’s proposal and Taker’s retirement are the big newsworthy items coming out of the show.
I’ve seen a lot of online chatter about how the show was too long. Seven hours is too long, however, that thought never crossed my mind once as I was into every match. Speaking of the matches, I can’t say any of them were bad. If I had to pick one, I’d say Orton vs. Wyatt was the weakest of the bunch being that the story was told and sold on spectacle.
Shane McMahon/AJ Styles and Goldberg/Lesnar get my vote for match of the night. Both told the stories that needed to be told while holding the crowd in the palm of their hand. The return of Matt and Jeff Hardy was my favorite moment. The crowd came unglued. Nostalgic fans and those who are BROKEN absolutely loved it.
Think about this, within a month’s time, The Hardy’s have held the TNA, ROH, and WWE (Raw) Tag Team Titles. That’s a hell of a feat. I hope that Jeff can remain clean so he gets the superstar singles push they’ve always wanted to give him. As for Matt, hopefully, he can win the trademark dispute with TNA so he can do the broken character in WWE.
Finally, the Undertaker has wrestled his final match and received the ultimate curtain call to close out the show. As soon as he started taking off his gloves, I knew it was a wrap. MMA fighters do the same thing to announce their retirement and Taker has paid homage to the sport with his attire and work.
While you can never say never in this business, I really think he’s done. Taker is such a worker that in his mind, he wouldn’t have broken character to hug his wife, Michelle McCool, if he really didn’t really think he was done.
Overall, the match was good, but not the epic encounter we’ve come to expect. There was no flying clothesline, no dive off over the top rope, no old school, and he couldn’t get the lift up for the last ride. Father time eventually comes to collect and hip replacement surgery is on the horizon.
Jim Ross being brought back to call the final chapter of the Undertaker’s legendary career was the perfect touch. The Oklahoma native has the credibility along with a certain sincerity in his voice that most commentators today don’t possess.
While I plan to expand upon my thoughts on the Undertaker and his retirement in another post, I want to say thank you to my favorite wrestler. Thank you, Taker.