Firstly: allow me to apologise for the odd paragraphing on this. Its in the default settings, so I'm not sure why its doing like triple line spacing on paragraphs. Its not like that in the actual text, or in preview mode but I can't work out how to fix it, so apologies. That said, onto the review:
At the time of writing, we are now nearly 12 hours removed from Wrestlemania 34.
I'm honestly still not sure how I feel about it. There were great moments, but also moments which - at best - left myself and those I was watching with scratching their heads.
Matt Hardy winning the Andre battle royal on the preshow, and then Seth Rollins winning the IC belt to kick off the main card got fans into the night early, with a proper hot crowd.
We were then treated to a great match between Asuka and Charlotte. The end of the match though is perhaps where the night's first issues started creeping in. Its not even that Asuka lost per se - she had to lose some time - but the way she lost. Charlotte had barely got the Figure 8 locked on when the Empress of Tomorrow tapped. Over 900 days of Streak just suddenly ended in a split second.
For the added drama they could have had her hold on for a minute or two, try and make it to the rope, before finally succumbing. It would have done a better job of keeping both women looking strong. From here its just not clear where Asuka goes next.
Throughout the preshow, and right through into the Smackdown Women's title match, we kept getting cutaways to John Cena in the crowd. It was a clever gimmick, but they went to the well way too often. Cutting away twice in what is a world title match is simply unacceptable. Thankfully they sent him to the back after the women were done because it was getting old FAST.
Another strange booking choice followed with the US title match. With Asuka's streak broken everyone I watched with agreed that if they were going to save the crowd and bring them back on side then Rusev was going to have to pick up the win here. Instead though, on the cusp of his glory suddenly Mahal was pinning him and raising the gold. A champion no-one wanted, and the guy people wanted to win eating the pin. Yep... *bangs head on the desk*
Back to the good side of Mania 34, who would ever have believed you going in if you'd said Ronda Rousey's debut would have been the match of the night. Well - it was. Rousey started slow, with a few minor botches, but she quickly found her feet, and the sheer spectacle of seeing her face down HHH, before locking in her patented arm bar on Stephanie felt huge. This was the first match on the entire card which felt like a Wrestlemania moment, rising above even your usual PPV fare. Like I say: it wasn't perfect, if this is Rousey's foundation I can't wait to see how she grows from here.
Perhaps a victim of its placement on the card, the SD Tag championship match felt incredibly rushed. At just over 5 minutes, none of the teams were able to really get their stuff in and while I'm excited for the Bludgeon Brothers to get a run with the belt, this wasn't the fantastic match we know these three teams to be capable of.
After that cool down through, John Cena's music hit and he ran to the ring, and the atmosphere suddenly filled with electricity. The moment we had waited for was here. The lights went out, and then....the guitar strummed. It wasn't Undertaker but Elias who slowly trudged to the ring. This was a really masterful use of the young heel. Fans love to boo him, and this trolling gave them ample opportunity. Cena made quick work of him before heading to the back assuming his Wrestlemania was over.
Half way up the ramp though the lights would go out again and this time the Undertakers hat and gloves would appear in the centre of the ring where he left them a year previously. The trademark lightning and pyro sent them straight to hell and the gong finally chimed. Rising back out of the stage - again a call back to what he preciously thought was his retirement last year - The Dead Man was back. He marched to the ring in classic Undertaker style and then arguably the biggest shock of the night so far occurred: He squashed Cena in 2minutes 47 seconds.
Yep. Big Match John, one of the biggest stars in history, and the man who has spent so long begging for this match, got his ass handed to him in under 3 minutes.
I'm honestly not sure what to think. The lead in segment was fantastic, and the quick finish did a great job of not exposing Undertaker's age. That said, in both mans primes this should have been one of those Wrestlemania dream matches which went down in the pantheon of the best ever. To see it over so quickly I just couldn't help but feel a little let down. For what it was it was great, its just when you start thinking of what it could have been.
Also: this didnt feel like a retirement match in the way I think just about everyone expected. It felt like it was building Taker for something. Will it be a rematch with Cena at Mania 35? A final match at Survivor Series to bring his story full circle? Without the answers to those questions this match feels even harder to judge. If this is the start of a story between the two that leads to a real match this was a really inventive way of kick starting the feud. If this was the end...it just feels wasted.
Daniel Bryan’s return was hot, and it didnt feel like he had missed a beat in the years he was gone. After the weirdness and shortness of the two matches which it followed, this finally felt like a welcome relief.
Aaaaaand thats where Wrestlemania’s upside ended.
Nakamura Vs AJ Styles had all the makings of a potential Match of the Year candidate on paper, but in reality the match just never quite got going. It was a bit of a metaphor for the night as a whole to be honest. Perfectly OK, but not at all what it could have been, and in turn that made it just feel even more disappointing than if we hadn’t expected anything from it.
Braun Strowman and a ten year old then proceeded to effectively bury the entire Raw Tag division. Yes, you read that right. I’ve got nothing, sorry.
Last but by no means least we marched into a main event that no-one wanted to see - especially 70000 people who had sat for 7 hours at this point already including the preshow. Lesnar Vs Reigns felt like the entire match was laid out to make Roman’s eventual victory seem huge, like he was overcoming something. Samoa Joe and Braun couldn’t kick out of a single F5. Even the Undertaker was beaten by 3.
By the time Roman kicked out of a fifth, there were genuinely This Is Awful chants, and the fans just started playing with a beach ball.
Of course this would be followed by Roman getting a huge emphatic spear and finally exorcising the Lesnar demon off his back in this story that has been 3 years in the making.
Wait, no. Thats not what happened. A sixth F5 would suddenly put the Big Dog away, leaving Brock with the title and Roman’s entire quest in tatters.
What was the point? If he was going to lay down for Brock why did they have to go the ridiculous six finishers route? Just have him get beat. It made NO sense.
As I said at the outset, I’m not going to suggest this Wrestlemania was a disaster. It wasn’t. This was no Wrestlemania 9 for example, which was awful start to finish. This time around there were huge highs - the IC title match, the mixed tag - and even to an extent the Undertaker and Asuka situations were good enough(although they weren’t without their flaws). Its just that with so much genuine mess, especially in the second half of the show and the two world title matches, I just can’t see this being one of those CLASSIC Manias we go back to time and again. I’m not angry, I’m just…disappointed.