Wrestlemania 33 is in the books. I’m tipping my hat to all the fans in Orlando who watched that live and those who watched it in one take on the WWE Network. Counting the pre-show, that was seven hours of Wrestlemania 33 action. So where does this one rank among the previous 32 Showcase of the Immortals? Let’s just say the top 25 don’t have to worry about a major reshuffling.
Few quick thoughts on the pre-show. Aries/Neville was a fun, brutal match. This probably should have opened the show as it kept the fans’ attention throughout. Neville’s heel turn has been a career revelation. This was one of my favorite matches on the show.
The battle royal was a battle royal. My favorite part was the overeager security guard who tried to stop Rob Gronkowski from coming into the ring. That was spectacular because she was so zoned in and had to be given a heads up that was part of the act. Mojo Rawley is the kind of guy who can benefit from winning the Andre the Giant trophy anyway provided they make it mean something.
Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin was a letdown. Away from his feuds with AJ Styles and Seth Rollins, Ambrose seems too lackadaisical and Corbin was too theatrical with his taunts and frustration in not putting Ambrose away. The finish was just there with Ambrose retaining. Hopefully the Intercontinental title program gets some new contenders to make that title mean more than a consolation prize for Ambrose.
AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon
AJ Styles continues to work miracles getting a pretty enjoyable match against Shane McMahon. This required more suspension of disbelief than Shane’s Wrestlemania 32 match against Undertaker. Taker at least was broken down and a shell of his dominant self so it was almost, sorta kinda believable that Shane could fight him on even terms. With AJ freaking Styles? Not so much. Still, once you could overlook that, this was a fun match with nice moments including a Coast to Coast from Shane. AJ gets his first Wrestlemania victory albeit a year later than I’d like.
U.S. Title: Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho
This was one of the few grudge matches that understood its purpose. Two guys who don’t like each other fighting to prove who’s best. I dug Jericho’s light up scarf. Owens was at his trash talking best and Jericho easily slid back into the plucky babyface role. This was two pros at work and this match didn’t disappoint. I loved Owens using his index finger to break the pin. That felt like such a perfect Owens’ escape. Owens finally got the win and title with a ‘finish him!’ powerbomb to the apron.
WWE RAW Women’s title: Fatal Four Way –
Nia Jax vs Bayley vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Sasha Banks
Bayley was treated like such an afterthought in the match, she seemed like the obvious first elimination. That honor fell to Jax, who ran wild for the opening moments, before getting triple teamed. The story overall for this match fell flat. Jax was in for such a short time this may as well have been a Triple Threat. Just to keep things fresh and to establish Jax as a big time player in the division, she should have eliminated both Sasha and Charlotte before Bayley gets the miracle upset win. Sasha got eliminated after hitting the still covered turnbuckle and Charlotte got pinned following a small scale Hail to the King elbow drop. This felt anticlimactic and was really disappointing considering last year’s women’s match was the best of the night.
WWE Tag Team Title Ladder Match: The Club vs.
Big Cass & Enzo vs. Cesaro & Sheamus and …
The crowd didn’t get any hotter than when New Day pulled a fake out implying they were joining the match only for The Hardy Boyz to return. This felt like the most genuine Wrestlemania moment since Daniel Bryan closed Wrestlemania 30. The crowd was electric and this was a very entertaining and well laid out ladder match. The Hardys ran wild, but the other teams got more than enough big moments selling the surprise well of the fourth team coming in to the mix. I’m excited about the prospect of The Hardys vs. Anderson & Gallows in an extended program. And hopefully, Vince’s lawyers can make Impact fly off and let the Hardys turn their broken brilliance to the WWE universe.
Mixed Tag Team Match: John Cena & Nikki Bella vs.
The Miz & Maryse
This was another Wrestlemania redemption match. The Miz was treated like an afterthought in his first Wrestlemania match against Cena. Now he’s a legit player and nearly on equal footing with Cena. The women made for a fine secondary story. While I’m usually Team Cena, Miz and Maryse did excellent work driving this feud and deserved the win more.
Nikki might be done as an in-ring performer, but she’s definitely going to need to keep that left hand strong after the boulder Cena put on it. While it wasn’t quite Macho Man and Elizabeth, this was a nice moment.
Triple H vs. Seth Rollins
Triple H is in this Triple H Appreciation point of his career. He goes for these blown out, marathon matches that are ‘special’ because of Triple H — not for an exceptional story. That’s been the case since his Wrestlemania 28 clash with The Undertaker.
As usual, Triple H had a big league entrance with a biker theme complete with biker variant Steph and a police escort. That definitely made Rollins’ lighting the flame entrance look small time by comparison. Triple H is attempting to channel The Undertaker in making his yearly match at Wrestlemania the stuff of legends. The problem is Taker’s mystique and The Streak helped make those matches special. Taking down Triple H at Wrestlemania hardly has the same significance. This was a smartly booked match with the exception of Rollins casually tossing the sledgehammer in Triple H’s direction while searching for weapons under the ring. Like a sledgehammer is less effective than a steel chair.
WWE Title: Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton
Fans were definitely giving WWE too much credit in thinking there was any other outcome than Orton winning the title. This was frustrating as Bray consistently was on the losing end of this feud. He lost his closest ally in Luke Harper, the Wyatt Compound was burned to the ground and Sister Abigail’s memory was desecrated as much as Katie Vick. And he still ate an RKO and dropped his title despite some cool random images to further the mind games. So what’s next for Orton? Beating Wyatt, Harper, Ambrose and Styles again?
WWE Universal Title: Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg
The WWE Unified title match felt like watching someone playing WWE 2K17 and only knowing four moves. Yet somehow, this was one of the more entertaining matches of the night. Goldberg stuck to his winning strategy against Brock – spear, jackhammer, pin – but added in a little more variety this time with two consecutive spears and one through the barricade. Brock withstood the offense and went on a suplex spree before hitting the F-5 for the win. I was rooting for a little bit more back and forth action before the inevitable finish, but this redeemed their Wrestlemania 20 encounter.
WWE Smackdown Women’s Title: Naomi vs. Alexa Bliss vs.
Becky Lynch vs. Mickie James vs. Natalya
For all the talk of Women’s Revolution, this sure felt like old times. In hindsight, it would have been better for the women to be on the pre-show. Those matches got ample time to build and tell a story. Two elements largely missing here. At least Naomi got the win and can actually enjoy a title reign now.
The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns
This was unofficially viewed as Undertaker’s Last Ride so it was fitting that Jim Ross was called back to commentate. That was a classy gesture from the WWE after the hellacious couple of weeks JR has been through. Ross was definitely needed to help sell this story. Reigns was ready to take advantage of this big spotlight, but Taker just couldn’t keep up. The days of epic 25- to 30-minute matches for The Dead Man are long gone. This really just needed to be about 10-12 minutes with the bulk of the time focused on Taker’s dramatic farewell.
Rating: 6 out of 10
With a shorter run time and shorter matches, this would have fared better, but the disappointing main event ensures this won’t be a fondly remembered Mania.
For WWE Network viewing, the Aries/Neville, AJ/Shane, Owens/Jericho and Ladder Match are the ones you’ll want to check out.
Photo Credit: WWE.com