WWE CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Buddy Murphy(c) vs. Tony Nese - 7.25/10
A GREAT, action-packed opener paying off a well-told story that was unfortunately hampered by only being given ten and a half minutes. Because G-d forbid we try to make 205 Live seem important. It's not like we've got this gigantic two-hour pre-show during which we will hear seventeen different announcers say the same sh*t we've heard the five main announcers say over and over and over and over and over again for the past few weeks. Oh. Wait. We do. F*ck you Vince and your waste-of-time pre-show where you f*cking force me to sit through well over an hour of inane prattle just to see the wrestling matches- which are the actual reason that people watch your product- because you f*cking hide them into this two-hour monstrosity of bullsh*t.
Yeah. It's going to be one of those nights.
WOMEN'S BATTLE ROYALE - 4/10
Only Naomi and Asuka got their own entrances, presumably just to make everyone else look like losers. They tried to tell a story of the Riott Squad using the numbers game and a similar one with Fire & Desire a little later, but both fizzled out relatively quickly. The exact spot where the Riott Squad's numbers game story fizzled out was when they were triple-teaming Dana Brooke, and the crowd randomly got behind Dana Brooke in a huge way. Well... it's not exactly "random" because she is a babyface fighting three heels... but she's also Dana Brooke and they have spent the past two years telling us that she is a complete and total jobber.
Dana made a comeback on them and the crowd loved it. Renee Young proudly declared this to be Dana Brooke's "WrestleMania Moment(TM)." Because she got some spots in during a f*cking meaningless battle royale on the pre-show (and please note that this was BEFORE Dana eliminated Liv and Ruby).
Your NXT cameos in this match were Candice LeRae and Kairi Sane. This was the second straight year that Kairi has been in this spot, and that right there should tell you how much this spot matters. What is WWE's goal in doing this? Do they think they're doing some sort of fan service thing to the hardcore crowd by putting NXT wrestlers in these matches? That's the only reason I can think of, and if that's why they're doing it then that really exposes how insanely twisted their mindset is. The "fan service" WWE is supposed to provide us with at WrestleMania is paying off well-told stories with satisfying conclusions, not giving us f*cking cameos that are ultimately counterproductive to the very wrestlers they think we're going to be so excited to see.
Also in this match was Ember Moon, who is returning from an injury several months earlier than she was originally projected to. You'd think this is the sort of thing that they could make a big story out of, but no. Instead she just entered anonymously in the pack, did some stuff, and got eliminated. What a waste.
Not in this match was Lacey Evans. So yeah. They announced her call-up almost four months ago and STILL haven't done a single thing with her. Actually, now that I think about it, that same show where her call-up was announced told us that Sami Zayn would be "returning soon," and we haven't seen hide nor hair of him since then.
The finish saw Sarah Logan think she had won, but then Carmella, who had been down on the outside, came back in. If that sounds familiar to you, it's because they did the same thing last year with Naomi. At last this time they had her wait for her opponent to turn around and had them work together for a spot or two instead of having her dump her opponent from behind after spending the whole match hiding on the outside like a total heel.
WWE RAW TAG TEAM TITLE MATCH:
The Revival(c) vs. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder - 5.5/10
The match was... fine. The losers won. I don't understand why I'm supposed to care about Hawkins & Ryder because they're such f*cking losers and did nothing to earn this title shot and WWE did nothing to make me care about them winning. Hawkins' losing streak was treated like a total joke for years (as, deservedly, was Hawkins himself), then there was one segment on TV back in January or something where they commiserated about being losers together. Then nothing happened with them for several months until a segment that aired on YouTube AFTER THE GO-HOME RAW in which they asked for a title shot and were randomly given one, and now they won the titles at WrestleMania, while the hot up-and-coming tag team who have been built up for months had to lose a title match via count-out on Raw, and then randomly get added to a match for the Smackdown tag titles that is only happening because Vince got upset that the champs forfeited a match in a gauntlet to help Kofi Kingston the week before.
This company SUCKS. Really. They have no f*cking idea how to tell a competent story.
They actually mentioned that the show is taking place in East Rutherford, NJ as opposed to their bullsh*t "in the shadow of New York City." So that's Wade Keller 1; Vince & Dunn 0.
ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYALE - DUD!
People who got their own entrances include Braun Strowman, and the Hardys and Jost & Che (who actually entered as teams). People who didn't get their own entrances include Luke Harper, who is returning to action for the first time in over six months. I didn't even notice he was in there until he got his big stare-down with Braun Strowman. Aiden English, who is on commentary simply to make this match even more grating to me, responded to the big Strowman-Harper stare-down by saying "they say Luke Harper taught him everything he knows." WHO THE F*CK HAS EVER SAID THIS?! Aiden needs to get off of commentary immediately. He is SOOO obnoxious. If WWE doesn't want him to wrestle anymore for some reason then that's fine, but use him in a position where he actually contributes positively to the show. I've heard that the past two years the host stadium has run out of both concessions and toilet paper, so why don't you have Aiden take one of those big trucks of yours to the toilet paper and popcorn warehouses and bring some back. That's a much better use for him.
The SNL dorks immediately hid under the ring. Stuff happened until Braun eliminated everyone else, at which point Colin Jost grabbed a microphone so that he and Braun could have their segment, which the other twenty-five wrestlers were just props for. Jost brought his therapist to try to talk Braun out of being violent. Braun beat up the therapist, then eliminated Che, then they set up for Jost to get a tease in before Braun picked him up and tossed him onto the pile This was a huge waste of time.
As Sam Roberts was nice enough to point out on the pre-show, Andrade was a moron and eliminated himself by giving Titus O'Neil a hurricanrana off the apron. The sad part is that my guess is this was Titus and Andrade trying to make sure that they did something that people will actually remember from this match.
Much like Samoa Joe last year, Kevin Owens was not in this year's ATGMBR despite being an active member of the roster with no other WrestleMania match. The fact that they held him out (and held Joe out last year, and, debatably, have held Alexa Bliss! and Lacey Evans out of this year's women's battle royale) shows that they know that being involved in this match just makes everyone involved look like losers, but they still book the matches anyway.
OPENING VIDEO PACKAGE - A terrible, pointless, self-indulgent waste of time. This wasn't any sort of hype package, and even if it was, I'm sure we'll see one right before each match, and everyone watching at this point has already paid for the show so you're not selling anything to anyone.
OPENING SEGMENT - Pointless waste of time. Alexa Bliss! comes out and wastes time cutting a promo in which she claims that "if I want a WrestleMania Moment(TM) all I have to do is snap my fingers. Don't believe me?" Then she snaps her fingers and Hulk Hogan's music plays. The old, egomaniacal racist comes out and cuts a completely pointless promo, (forgetting the name of the stadium is his gimmick now because he did it that one time, just like R-Truth), then he and Alexa do a posing routine. Not only did this serve no purpose and waste everyone's time, but it made Alexa look like an idiot for thinking that randomly posing with Hulk Hogan in 2019 constitutes some sort of important moment rather than, say, wrestling a match, which she could have apparently booked herself into doing.
Then Paul Heyman came out and said that if Brock isn't going on last then Brock doesn't want to be here any longer than he has to. So right after Alexa bragged about having control of the show, they had Heyman come out and make a change to the order of the card without her permission, making her look bad once again. Everyone else has apparently decided to go along with Brock's demands as well, so we got the...
WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH:
Brock Lesnar(c) (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Seth Rollins - 2.5/10
Brock jumps the bell on Seth and beats him up on the outside, eventually giving him an F-5 on the floor. Brock continues to throw Seth into things. Eventually the match started and Brock had control. We got a ref bump and then Seth, the babyface, hit Brock in the nuts. The announcers tried to use Brock jumping the bell on Seth to justify this, but just because you can morally justify something doesn't mean it wouldn't have been better to not do it. Seth hit his big moves and got the win with two stomps. Total time from the beginning of the pre-match attack until the pin couldn't have been more than eight minutes. Wikipedia has the match itself at two and a half. So yet another obnoxiously short Brock match, and yet another botched story here because the entire story from day one has now played out that the babyface had no chance unless he cheated.
AJ STYLES vs. RANDY ORTON - 7.75/10
Someone decided that it was necessary to have Jerry Lawler replace Byron Saxton on commentary. These two had a great match built around their respective finishers, just as they have been building up on TV. AJ got the clean win after kicking out of RKO and eventually managing to hit the Phenomenal Forearm. The match was pretty darn great, but still felt like it didn't reach its full potential.
LACEY EVANS WALKS OUT, THEN WALKS TO THE BACK - This was apparently necessary.
FATAL FOUR-WAY MATCH FOR THE WWE SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLES:
The Usos(c) vs. Sheamus & Cesaro vs. Aleister Black & Ricochet vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev (w/Lana) - 6.75/10
Stuff happened. Spots were done. Some were cool. The Usos won, pinning Sheamus, so that's yet another loss for Sheamus & Cesaro, and it also means that Black & Ricochet will be walking out of WrestleMania without any tag titles, despite all of the build they have received since being called up to the main roster completely out of the blue. Why did you even call them up in the first place if you weren't going to put the belts on them? All you did was hurt NXT by making them feel like guys who had no chance of winning the tag titles at TakeOver.
They did the Hall of Fame recap here. At this point the main show has been going on for almost an hour and a half and we have only seen three matches, totaling barely over half an hour of actual wrestling... and that is only if you include Brock's pre-match assault on Seth. In a quick update, the bell for Miz vs. Shane rang just after 8:30 pm, so that is, in fact, your grand total of action for the first ninety minutes of this show.
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE MATCH:
Shane McMahon vs. The Miz - 4.75/10
Mr. Miz is in the front row. They started off with Shane running away from Miz. Shane finally got some horrible punches in. He hit Miz with a monitor and went to elbow drop him through the announcers' table but Mr. Miz got in the way, so now Mr. Miz and Shane and squaring off in the ring. IN other words, the only reason the heel hasn't beaten the babyface already is because a fan hopped the guardrail to buy him time. And they decided to do this the night after some nutjob jumped a guardrail to attack Bret Hart at the Hall of Fame ceremony.
Shane eventually nailed Mr. Miz with a big knee. MIz fired up and went after Shane for a bit, then took time away from Shane to get medical help for his father. Shockingly, Shane did not immediately reverse Miz's move when Miz finally left his dad alone to go after Shane again. They brawled into the crowd and did stuff. Miz worked over Shane's leg with kicks and a chair. They wound up by the big row of non-Spanish, non-German foreign announcers and broke one of their tables. That made me laugh.
Then Shane took a bump over a railing, off of a golf cart, and appeared to land on his head on the cement. He kept on going, though. He probably shouldn't have. It would have made for an excellent finish, and it's better to be safe than sorry with concussions.
They brawled some more and Shane tried to escape from Miz by climbing up a camera scaffold. Miz followed him up, beat him up, then superplexed him off. They landed on what, upon closer inspection, were pretty clearly crash pads, hurting the effect of the move. The ref ran over and made a count... and it turns out Shane landed on top of Miz so Shane won the match. What was the point of that? Why can't we just end the f*cking story at WrestleMania with the babyface going over?
FATAL FOUR-WAY MATCH FOR THE WWE WOMEN'S TAG TEAM TITLES:
Sasha Banks & Bayley(c) vs. The Divas of Doom vs. Nia Jax & Tamina vs. The IIconics - 6.5/10
Paige is on commentary for this match, because apparently three commentators is not enough. She added nothing of value and mostly just babbled a lot. As each team would come out, Cole would say "Paige, tell me about INSERT NAME OF TEAM HERE," at which point Paige would speak very quickly and say nothing of consequence. She seemed a lot less informed about the product since she has been off TV, and Cole's way of pitching it to her made him look stupid for constantly throwing question to someone who wasn't adding anything and knowing the sh*t Paige was saying is part of Cole's f*cking job.
Also, Bayley's entrance malfunctioned. Nattie's did, too, because some old dude came out with her and Beth. It's all about women's empowerment now... but we can't let Nattie do a single f*cking entrance without her famous but decidedly non-female uncle standing by her side if he's in the building.
The match was good for what it was, but the work showed why this would have been a lot better if it was just Beth & Nattie vs. Sasha & Bayley, and the finish was completely frustrating. If The IIconics are going to win the titles, let them do it with their own move and prove that they're the best team. Don't give Beth the big moment where she's going to get the win just to these two obnoxious assholes steal the pin from her. It's the wrong kind of heat, from a company that seems to be trying it's best to get that wrong kind of heat.
I also think that this was the worst possible finish. Any title change was not in the best interests of the titles, as these are new titles and the best way to establish them is with a long reign from the be-all, end-all team of the division so that the first time the titles change hands it feels like a HUGE moment, but The IIconics in particular should not have won the titles for several reasons. While Tamina and Nia have been beaten to oblivion over the past few months, at least they have the "big scary monsters" story going for them. Beth and Nattie would have the story of Beth's comeback going for them. The IIconics not only have absolutely nothing going for them, but giving them this big win is a waste of a potential big moment in the future, after you've turned them babyface and actually made us care about them in some sort of positive way rather than just wanting them to lose their matches and get off of our screen as quickly as possible and without ever touching a microphone.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH:
Daniel Bryan(c) (w/Erick Rowan) vs. Kofi Kingston (w/The New Day) - 8.75/10
They showed us a bunch of wrestlers standing around a monitor backstage, cheering on Kofi. They didn't do that for Rollins, which you'd think they would have done if all of Rollins' claims about no one liking Brock and everyone wanting him to leave are true. They kept cutting to the wrestlers in the back, and every time they did it made the enthusiasm for Kofi feel more and more forced. The fans were so sincere but seeing the wrestlers then cheering for Kofi in this clearly forced manner took it all back down a few notches. This company will never learn that a heavy-handed approach is often a poor choice for telling human stories.
The match itself was fantastic, and ranks right up there with the best stuff I've seen all weekend outside of TakeOver. Bryan almost seems to relish finding stuff that you rarely see done nowadays to do in his matches, and Kofi is not only athletic to a level that few other of Bryan's opponents can reach, but also someone who is entirely fresh as a singles act, so this was full of that sort of stuff. Throw in a wonderful babyface performance from Kofi, tons of emotion from the crowd, and some fantastic drama on the false finishes, and you've got yourself one hell of a WrestleMania world title match.
ALEXA BLISS!, COLIN JOST, & MICHAEL CHE IN THE TRAINER'S ROOM - Another stupid waste of time. She apologizes to them because they got beaten up in a wrestling match. Then she leaves and it turns out Scott Hall and Kevin Nash are impersonating doctors and Nash apparently wants to give them rectal exams. Che and Jost don't know enough about WWE to know that these men are not doctors, and we're all supposed to laugh Kevin Nash is going to stick his finger up these men's butts just to do it, because impersonating medical personnel to commit sexual assault is funny, apparently.
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH:
Samoa Joe(c) vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. - 0.5/10
Booker T is on commentary for this match, because you knew Vince couldn't go more than five minutes after giving us a big babyface win before doing something that serves no purpose other than to detract from our enjoyment of the show.
Rey got his sh*t in, then Joe choked him out. Total match time was just under a minute. Despite being all over the build for this match, Rey's kid was nowhere to be seen.
A COMMERCIAL FOR BATISTA'S NEW MOVIE - F*ck off. I didn't come here to watch preview trailers.
ROMAN REIGNS vs. DREW MCINTYRE - 6.25/10
When this match started we were well past 10:00 and had only had well short of an hour and a half of wrestling. Drew got a live, kilt-clad band to play his entrance theme. The band was apparently the "New York Police Department bagpipe band." I didn't realize police department bands got that specialized.
Roman got cheered, but they were muted cheers. The people who like Roman are still cheering him, but the people who don't want him to be the top guy are just being quiet rather than joining in the cheers. This was an okay brawl that was disappointingly short (just over ten minutes), and the fans mostly didn't seem to care about the match. Roman won. The announcers- and Graves in particular- laid it on very thick about how Roman was fighting for anyone who had ever been sick with a life-threatening illness. There is telling a story about Roman coming back from cancer to reach the mountaintop once again, and then there is stuff like this.
DRIFTER BULLSH*T - They've got him on the TitanTron playing drums and the piano, while the live Elias is playing his guitar. The fans are treating him like a total babyface. He got interrupted for newsreel footage of Babe Ruth calling his shot in the 1932 World Series. Yes, really. Why is this happening?
After this, John Cena came out... in his Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick. And he's wearing a Babe Ruth jersey and a Yankees hat. You'd think Cena could have gotten that part nixed, being a huge Red Sox fan and all.
Cena begins rapping and tells us he's "about to turn heel," but I'm not really sure how he's going to do that by insulting the heel Drifter. He did his rapper stuff and hit Elias with the FU. This was a fun little segment, but was not worth the wasted twelve minutes on this already marathon show, nor was it worth the wasted time on Raw over the past few weeks.
NO HOLDS BARRED MATCH IN WHICH TRIPLE H MUST RETIRE IF HE LOSES:
Triple H vs. Batista - 8/10
Big but unimpressive entrances for both guys. At the end of the day, it's just a f*cking car. Shawn Michaels joined the commentary team for this match and wasn't very good. They decided to go extra violent with this one... and they went overboard very quickly. Hunter used a wrench and pliers to work over Batista's fingers, then RIPPED HIS NOSERING OUT WITH A PAIR OF PLIERS.
This was not toppable in terms of brutality, but they somehow managed to make the match feel like it flowed well while transitioning away from that and into a more traditional no DQs match. This was an excellent weapons brawl with some great false finishes, but at this point the show has gone on for so long that it feels like it's sapping my will.
ALEXA BLISS! & THE B-TEAM SHILL DANIEL BRYAN MERCH - Ron Simmons shows up to say "DAMN." Why are they doing things to make this show go longer?
I'm well past the point of caring at this point and am honestly hoping they just cancel Balor vs. Lashley and do it tomorrow night on Raw.
KURT ANGLE vs. BARON CORBIN - 4/10
JBL has joined the commentary team because apparently someone in power thinks that fans think guest commentators make matches feel bigger. That might be true if we didn't get at least one match with guest commentary per show each week.
They had a short match (six minutes). Kurt missed a moonsault, got hit with End of Days and pinned, giving us no happy ending and indicating that we will likely be enduring months upon months of Corbin cutting a promo about this every f*cking week.
POST-MATCH SEGMENT - Hated it. Kurt is not at all bothered that he has failed to beat the man who tormented him for so long. Instead he just asks the fans to chant "YOU SUCK!" at him. That's not how f*cking retirements work.
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH:
Bobby Lashley(c) (w/Lio Rush) vs. Finn Balor - 4.5/10
Balor's entrance takes f*cking forever in his stupid facepaint and cape and goofy hairpiece doing his stupid interpretive dance. Yeah. I said. This whole "demon" thing is f*cking stupid. And that's not just the exhaustion talking.
Lashley did Big E.'s crazy spear through the ropes but landed in a MUCH safer manner than Big E. Usually does. They kept the match short and full of big stuff, which was the right tactic to take in this situation. The match was actually pretty spectacular for the mere four minutes it got. For those wondering what the difference between Balor and "the demon" is, it's that "the demon" can powerbomb Lashley. Balor won the IC Title. Whatever.
ALEXA BLISS! COMES OUT TO WASTE OUR TIME - They set an attendance record for WWE for the building do they really think we give a sh*t about this. Also, Alexa is on at least her second dress of the night. I don't know why this jumped out at me, but it did. She brings out Truth and Carmella to waste even more of our time with their stupid dance break gimmick. This has gone on for WAY more than seven seconds. Boy, this sure makes Carmella's victory in that battle royale earlier tonight seem important, doesn't it. Wait... did Carmella win the women's battle royale this year or last year? It's been so long since the beginning of the show that they've blended together.
Now they're showing us a Miz & Mrs. Commercial. Now a commercial for next year's Mania. It's corny and stupid and I hope Vince gives well before they start making commercials for this stupid thing and that Hunter and Steph fire Kevin Dunn's stupid and put the kibosh on this abomination.
CUT IT OUT WITH THE F*CKING VIDEO PACKAGE AND JUST SEND THE WOMEN OUT FOR THE MAIN EVENT SO THIS SHOW CAN END ALREADY!
TRIPLE THREAT MATCH FOR THE WWE RAW WOMEN'S TITLE AND WWE SMACKDOWN WOMEN'S TITLE:
Ronda Rousey(WWE Raw Women's Champion) vs. Charlotte Flair(WWE Smackdown Women's Champion) vs. Becky Lynch - 6.75/10
Charlotte entered the arena via helicopter. This might have been cool if it was three hours earlier, but it is currently 11:51 and no one from the main event is even in the ring yet. It is 12:21 now and we still have no finish. At this point they've got to be doing this on purpose to tire out the "non-traditional" crowd for Raw, right?
Stuff happened. Ronda took a scary bump. The match would have been good if I wasn't so darn tired. Becky pinned Ronda by turning Piper's Pit into a Crucifix... but, as fate would have it, Ronda's shoulder popped up so they botched the finish. Either that or this is yet another pointless, stupid angle to protect Ronda (Graves keeps bringing it up). And, just in case they hadn't f*cked this up enough, the last thing we hear is Michael Cole telling us that "tonight will go down in history as Wrestle-Man-ia." Because Becky Lynch is "the man." Get it? F*CK THIS COMPANY.
I could talk about the all of the matches that I liked and all of the matches I hated and all of the matches I found disappointing, or the stuff that irked me about the booking, but the fact of the matter is that most of that feels irrelevant because the bottom line is that sitting through this show was just plain not a fun experience. This show went this show ran almost seven and a half hours, and by my count we got just 3:05:12 of actual wrestling time (including Brock's pre-match attack). The show officially went 7:24:19, so that means that just over 42% of this show was not spent on wrestling. If I've made an error it's because either Wikipedia's match-times were wrong or because this show was so long my brain is fried and I can't do math. Sure, some of that was entrances, but that shouldn't be anywhere near the amount of time to make up for everything else. And it's not like they can't have a quick turnaround time between matches because they sure had a quick one from Angle vs. Corbin to the IC Title match.
This year's WrestleMania will almost certainly go down in history as the year they had everything dropped in their laps and then f*cked it all up in so many different ways. I've discussed many of them almost ad nauseum in my weekly reviews over the past few months, but the decision to make this show go so long is them finding one last way to f*ck it all up. The total lack of reaction for the woman who just nine weeks ago was the hottest act in the company beating her nemesis to win not one but two championships in the main event of WrestleMania is, quite frankly, damning. I REALLY hope they learn their lesson and never run a show this long again.
STUPID ANNOUNCER QUOTES
(I will fully admit that I just gave up on these as the night went along):
1. Jerry Lawler insisted that "Randy Orton's father never helped him."
I guess King doesn't remember that big chunk of Randy's career where Cowboy Bob was at ringside and would interfere on his behalf.
2. Tom Phillips- "It's always so hard to tell who got the worst of it with these superplexes."
IT'S THE GUY WHO TOOK THE F*CKING MOVE! This shouldn't be that f*cking hard to figure out.