As mentioned in all the promotional videos, this year’s WrestleMania was “Too Big For One Night” and…boy, did the WWE lean heavily into that! Not only did we get all the matches previously announced, each night was, basically, it’s own massive pay-per-view as, rather than divide their matches up between both nights, they opted to just throw wrestling at our faces.
Yet, pre-taping a lot of their matches (especially the more gimmicky ones), looks to be paying off for the WWE as they’re now able tot ell more cinematic stories, use more creative camera techniques, and tell whatever story they want without the crowd booing or cheering when they’re not supposed to. I actually wouldn’t be too surprised if they make a semi-switch to being mostly pre-taped and tour live very rarely once things get back to normal, if only to finally embrace the more dramatic aspects of sports entertainment.
Anyway, I’m just gonna go through each match and give my thoughts; this’ll be for the entirety of WrestleMania as it’s too late now to do two separate posts…
Tossed in there as part of the kickoff show for the first night, there actually is some build towards this match as Drew Gulak has recently turned face to team with Daniel Bryan against Sami Zayn, Cesaro, and Shinsuke Nakamura. Amusingly, there’s more build to this match than some of the matches the WWE announced heading into WrestleMania. Still, there wasn’t much to this; Cesaro got the win; it didn’t take too long and, as a result, I can’t really say it’s much of a showcase for either man.
Winner: Cesaro by pin fall.
My prediction: Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss by pin fall, new champions crowned.
Actual winner: Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss by pin fall, new champions crowned.
Something I kind of missed out in my predictions is that this was actually supposed to be a triple threat, with Beth Phoenix and Natalya tossed in there but, for whatever reason, that got thrown out quietly enough. One interesting statistic I heard about this was that, since winning the belts, the Kabuki Warriors have only defended them, like, five times…with this being the fifth. Hopefully, now that Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross have the belts again, the WWE can try and actually put some spotlight back onto them.
My prediction: Elias by pin fall.
Actual winner: Elias by pin fall.
The interesting thing about this match, which I also forgot to mention, was that Baron Corbin basically murdered Elias on a SmackDown show before WrestleMania by dropping him from a height no man could comfortably survive. Channelling his inner Triple H, though, Elias simply walked it off and made it to the event for this match, which largely consisted of the much bigger, stronger Corbin being dominated by Elias. Of course, Corbin got some of his usual shtick in but, arguably, his arrogant, pandering heel gimmick is robbed of a lot of its power without an audience; hopefully, this big stage loss sees him take a bit of a hiatus from our television screens.
My prediction: Shayna Baszler by submission, new champion crowned.
Actual winner: Becky Lynch by pin fall, championship retained.
This was kind of where the WWE’s booking and logic fell down; I guess they are more concerned with giving us good guy champions and winners in these turbulent times than seeing a natural story through to the end as everything, everything, pointed to Shayna Baszler winning here. I would argue that it needed to happen as Becky Lynch has beaten everyone Raw has to offer so, unless the WWE pull the trigger later down the line (like they foolishly did with Roman Reigns/Brock Lesnar not long ago), or moves an NXT or SmackDown woman across to Raw, it seems more trouble than it’s worth to keep the belt on Becky and like this was the best, natural place for her to drop it.
The layout of the match didn’t even play to type as, all this time, Shayna has been hyped as this submission/technical/mat-based combat fighter and, in the end, she was out-manoeuvred and out-wrestled by Becky, who is far more of a brawler. Probably the only real takeaway from this was that Shayna was able to power out of and counter the Dis-Arm-Her at multiple points but what does that even mean when she can’t pull off the victory? I don’t get this one; I really don’t.
My prediction: Sami Zayn by pin fall (thanks to Drew Gulak), championship retained.
Actual winner: Sami Zayn by pin fall, championship retained.
I was honestly expecting to see Drew Gulak screw Daniel Bryan out of this match but, in the end, he helped even the playing field by keeping Cesaro and Nakamura at bay at ringside so these guys could show a hint at what they are capable of in the ring. Unfortunately, they just didn’t get enough time and, thanks to Sami Zayn’s chickenshit-heel gimmick, they didn’t get much to do as Zayn spent a lot of his time stalling and running. On the plus side, though, the finish was pretty spectacular; Zayn hit a massive Helluva Kick, knocking Bryan clean out of a mid-air dive, and actually got what you could argue was a strong win but these guys are capable of so much more.
My prediction: John Morrison to win (somehow), championships retained.
Actual winner: John Morrison by seizing the belts, championships retained.
So, in the end, this came down to a triple threat, one-on-one ladder match for the tag belts…which is, honestly, a pretty piss-poor way of representing your Tag Team Championships! I get that we’re in difficult times and that the WWE is trying to make the best of it all but…And, also, let’s not forget the glaring atrocity that is Kofi Kingston going from winning the WWE Championship one year and then being tossed into this match by the next. Jeez.
In the end, though, the WWE probably picked the best people for this match; ladder matches are a great way to showcase Morrison and Kingston’s athletic prowess and we saw this when Morrison walked across the ropes to his a Spanish Fly off Kofi off the corner! In the end, though, all three men battled on top of the ladder until Morrison was able to recover from being knocked off and retain the belts. The saddest thing is, though, that we’re going to see this match again later down the line once things get back to normal and I’d really like to see hew challengers enter the scene…
My prediction: Kevin Owens by pin fall.
Actual winner: Kevin Owens by pin fall.
Another odd bit of booking happened here in this match as, apparently obsessed with screwing Kevin Owens out of a “WrestleMania Moment” (forgetting that he’s had at least two already…), Seth Rollins blasted Owens with the ring bell right as things looked to be going in Owens’ favour.
Owens called him out on it and goaded Seth into agreeing to restarting the match as no disqualification, which promptly saw Owens dive off the WrestleMania sign, then hit the Stunner to get the win. I guess Owens can tick that “WrestleMania Moment” now (…unless Rollins get scrubbed from WWE history like Chris Jericho has been), and Rollins finally got his comeuppance, but it’s hard to picture where either man goes from here.
My prediction: Goldberg by pin fall, championship retained.
Actual winner: Braun Strowman by pin fall, new champion crowned.
Again, the WWE pulled a massive swerve here with this result as I was convinced that Goldberg would walk away with the win so they could re-book the “Spear vs. Spear” confrontation between him and Roman Reigns later down the line. Plus, Braun Strowman just lost the Intercontinental Championship and is nowhere near the level he was at a year or so ago, when it would have made the most sense to put the belt on him.
Regardless, it’s not like this was a match for the ages as, to keep booking simple and in Goldberg’s favour, this was simply a finisher spamfest; Strowman kicked out of the Spear at one, then kicked out of two more, countered the Jackhammer (which I seriously doubt Goldberg would have been able to do anyway), and just hit four Powerslams in a row to take the belt away. Hopefully, this spells the end of Goldberg on WWE television (or, at the very least, as a WWE World Champion) and, rather than turn Strowman heel (…which they will), we can get an actual, meaningful dominating, and fun title reign from Strowman until Reigns is happy to challenge again.
My prediction: The Undertaker by pin fall.
Actual winner: The Undertaker by burying AJ Styles alive.
Well, it turns out that a Bone Yard Match is a buried alive match that takes place in a cemetery, of sorts, and is filmed in the style of the Hardy Compound matches from Impact Wrestling. Given that AJ Styles decided to target the Undertaker by making things “real”, we also, finally, got to see the return of the American Bad Ass BikerTaker here, though fused with his Deadman gimmick. Also, as an aside, I love how everyone now suddenly loves the BikerTaker gimmick when, until now, all I ever saw was people trashing it!
Anyway, this was an absolutely mental match that saw both guys hitting each other into coffins, ‘Taker slicing his arm up after smashing through the window of a hearse, Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson show up with a bunch of druids to attack the Undertaker, AJ hitting ‘Taker with an actual tombstone(!), Styles being Chokeslammed off the roof of a bulldozer, and ‘Taker burying AJ to the point where he’s clearly dead, and riding away on his bad-ass bike. Difficult to see where AJ goes after this; I guess he won’t be on TV for a little while and we can begin the “Undertaker is retired” discussion…again…
Night two got its own kickoff show, completing the analogy that this was, really, just two massive pay-per-views on back-to-back nights. I’m not really sure why these two were put together as I kind of thought Liv Morgan was a face, or a tweener, but I guess it was as good an excuse as any to get these women on the show for a throwaway, meaningless match.
Winner: Liv Morgan by pin fall.
My prediction: Rhea Ripley by pin fall, championship retained.
Actual winner: Charlotte Flair by pin fall, new champion crowned.
I don’t know what got in to me thinking Rhea Ripley, one of the WWE’s most organically-grown babyfaces ever (and a babyface woman at that), would get to cap off her ascent to the top of the mountain by toppling the WWE’s golden girl. What an absolute idiot I am; of course Charlotte Flair won here. How else are people going to be convinced to tune into NXT each week? Never mind that Ripley has only just won the damn belt or establishing her as a legitimate champion (and woman) for your entire brand; nah, just toss the belt on Flair so she can get her smug-ass face on NXT.
I’m sure there will be people who say that this will bring “legitimacy” to the NXT Women’s Championship but I’m here to tell you that that is bullshit. The NXT Women’s Championship is legitimate enough because of the lineage it already has. Also, a great way to establish it as a belt is to have new, fresh faces hold it and carry it into prominence. But, yeah, sure, have Charlotte hold it to “legitimatise” it. What-the-fuck-ever!
My prediction: Aleister Black by pin fall.
Actual winner: Aleister Black by pin fall.
This victory here by Aleister Black seems to have been less about giving him a dominating win (as he got owned for a good chunk of the match) and more about sowing the seeds of dissension between Bobby Lashley and Lana. Yes, after months and months of bullshit where the WWE forced Lana and Rusev apart, she cost Lashley the win by demanding that he hit a Spear, which caused him to run head-first into a Black Mass and a loss. Why the WWE would waste our time like that just to start teasing a break up is anyone’s guess but, if I had to, I’d say we’ll see Lana cost Lashley at least one more match and then them split and either Rusev will make a triumphant return to save her, or they’ll both pop up on SmackDown and we’ll pretend like it never happened (until the next time…).
My prediction: Dolph Ziggler (thanks to Mandy Rose) by pin fall.
Actual winner: Otis (thanks to Mandy Rose) by pin fall.
So, it turned out on the SmackDown right before WrestleMania that Mandy Rose’s best friend, Sonya Deville, was behind all the shenanigans that cost Otis his big date with Mandy Rose. As a result, Sonya was in Dolph Ziggler’s corner here and pulled the referee out right as Otis was going to crush Ziggler with the caterpillar.
However, true love prevailed in the end as Mandy rushed to the ring, attacked Sonya, hit Ziggler in the dick, and allowed Otis to get the win and walk away with her in his big, sweaty arms. Again, I find it stupidly ironic and hypocritical that the WWE is okay with Mandy and Otis as a couple…but not Lana and Rusev! Anyway, I guess this means that Heavy Machinery have a hot valet to get them some cheap cheers for the near future.
My prediction: Edge by being the last man standing.
Actual winner: Edge by being the last man standing.
Man, I feel so bad for Edge; he works his ass off for nine years to get back into the ring and, when he finally does, there’s not only no audience but he’s in a match that really needed an audience as, without the drama of crowd participation, this match landed a little flat.
Highlights included Randy Orton, ever the sneaky little git, disguising himself as a camera man to hit an RKO and try for the easy victory but Edge was having none of it and they battled to the backstage, brawling in the gym, smashing each other with LED boards and desks, before finally settling their grievances in a warehouse area. Orton looked to have the match after an RKO and some massive chair shots but Edge tied him up in a submission hold until he was completely incapacitated…then ended him with a Con-Chair-To to get an emotional victory despite the match going maybe a little bit too long.
A bit of levity followed as the host for this year’s WrestleMania, Rob Gronkowski won the 24/7 Championship. If you know who Rob Gronkowski is and why I should care, please leave a comment below.
My prediction: The Street Profits by pin fall, championships retained.
Actual winner: The Street Profits by pin fall, championships retained.
Ah, yes, the championship match that would not die! There isn’t much to say about this; if the Street Profits had lost to this nothing team, I would have questioned the WWE’s sanity as well as their logic. The real story here was Bianca Belair coming out to help even the odds when the heels and Zelina Vega attacked after the match; so…maybe Bianca will challenge and dethrone Becky? Even though it makes more sense for her to have gone after Ripley?
My prediction: Sasha Banks by submission, new champion crowned.
Actual winner: Bayley by pin fall, championship retained.
Thankfully, the WWE had enough sense to draw the line at one golden girl and, rather than putting the belt on Goddamn Sasha Banks, they chose to allow Bayley’s “unprecedented” reign as champion to continue…thanks to Sasha.
I didn’t realise that this was an elimination match but it was a welcome change of pace on a night(s) when there’s already so many matches. This format was good news for Bayley, who got to play the crafty heel and let her opponents do the majority of the work for her; she even sat back and let Lacey Evans pin Sasha with the Women’s Right. The real story is, obviously, the dissension that’s building between the Boss ‘n Hug Connection as, while Sasha did save Bayley from the same fate, she clearly wasn’t happy about it. I’d much rather see Sasha as a heel, though…or not on TV at all. That’d be perfect.
My prediction: John Cena by pin fall, tossing more dirt on Wyatt.
Actual winner: The Fiend, Bray Wyatt, by pin fall.
Oh man, if you thought the Bone Yard Match was an acid trip and a total rip-off for the Hardy Compound matches then this one will make your head spin! I find it amusing that the WWE is okay with doing these types of matches now that Matt Hardy is gone from the company as, apparently, Vince McMahon didn’t “get” the Broken/Woken gimmick or the matches Hardy put on.
Anyway, this was a complete mind screw as, rather than an actual match, we saw Bray Wyatt bounce himself and John Cena all across different points in WWE (and WCW) history, revisiting their gimmicks as they went. We saw Cena and Wyatt in the Firefly Funhouse with puppets on commentary and channelling Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage; we saw Cena back in his debut attire and trapped in a time loop; we saw Cena as the Doctor of Thuganomics, Bray as Husky Harris and his Wyatt Family persona, and then, in the strangest segment of all, Bray as Eric Bischoff and Cena as full-heel nWo Hollywood Hogan (complete with nWo-branded Championship Belt)!
Best of all though, the real icing on the cake, was the Fiend’s triumphant appearance; he slapped on that Mandible Claw, hit Sister Abigail, and finally got that big pin fall victory over Cena…while Bray Wyatt counted the pin! This was absolute madness in the best way; the WWE have stumbled upon a niche here but it does raise a few questions: Why doesn’t Wyatt always pull this shit to win matches? Why couldn’t he have done this to beat Goldberg? Is this the end of Cena (or, at least, the Cena as we know him)? Either way, this was mental but superb fun.
My prediction: Drew McIntyre by pin fall, new champion crowned.
Actual winner: Drew McIntyre by pin fall, new champion crowned.
After all that insanity, WrestleMania ended in the only way it should have: with Drew McIntyre defeating Brock Lesnar to finally become the WWE Champion. I am so glad that the WWE didn’t revert to type and have Lesnar retain here; whether he stays away from the belt for the foreseeable future is anyone’s guess, though but, for now, McIntyre finally has a chance to run with the ball.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t really any different to the Universal Championship match, or most Lesnar matches. Rather than have a big hoss battle where they traded power moves and kept going for this big moves, this was just another finisher spam-fest as Lesnar kicked out of the Claymore right away, threw a few German Suplexes, hit three F5s but couldn’t score the pin, and finally went down for the count once again…after three consecutive Claymores.
Honestly, I am so sick of this “slay the beast” storyline the WWE insists on tell around Lesnar; so many people have “slayed” him now and it’s always in the same way (finisher, finisher, finisher…finisher). It’s old an repetitive and it’s time to let Lesnar actually have matches; build to his big spots and over-the-top kick outs and power moves, don’t just blow your load right away because it really devalues everything about him, the belt, and his opponent as you just end up asking why people don’t just spam their finishers in every match.
How did you find WrestleMania? Were you impressed with the Bone Yard and Firefly Funhouse matches or did you find them a bit over-produced? Did any of your predictions come true? Let me know what you thought in the comments and, for God’s sake, stay inside!!