WWE WrestleMania 33 Recap
WrestleMania is essentially the Super Bowl of the wrestling world. It’s brought us some the most memorable moments over it’s 33 years of existence. We’ve seen countless historical matches between some of the greatest wrestlers to ever step foot in the squared circle, along with tons of celebrity appearances. WrestleMania is the one show you don’t want to miss.
This year, the fun kicked off (on the Kickoff Show), with the Cruiserweight Championship match, between Austin Aries and defending champ, Neville. And honestly, this match should have been on the main card. This was one of my highlighted matches of the weekend, and it did not disappoint. Both put on one hell of a show, with Aries almost pulling off the victory. Neville managed to break out of a submission hold by raking Aries’ recently surgically repaired eye socket. After landing his finishing move, the red arrow, Neville was able to pin Aries and retain his title. Being subjected to the Kickoff Show did not take away that this was a great match.
Next up, we had the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal match. Shockingly, both Big Show and Braun Stroman were eliminated very early in the match, putting to rest our predictions that Stroman would win. With some help from New England Patriots’ star a tight end, Rob Gronkoswki, Mojo Rawley was able to eliminate Jinder Mahal to be crowned 2017’s Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale winner.
The final Kickoff Show match, surprisingly, was the Intercontinental Championship match, between Baron Corbin and defending champ, Dean Ambrose. Booking like this just goes to show how little the WWE seems to care about one of its most prestigious belts. This match was OK. Corbin was in control for most of this match that ultimately ended in Dean escaping Corbin’s End of Days and hitting him with the Dirty Deeds to win via pin fall.
WrestleMania 33 began with AJ Styles taking on the Smackdown commissioner, Shane McMahon. The only real issue with this match was the fact that most of us had rather seen AJ Styles facing someone else, with higher stakes, but nonetheless this match was a great one. Shane O’Mac really showed his in-ring presence, for someone who isn’t a full time wrestler. Let’s also not forget that this man is 47 years old. Granted, you have an in-ring general like Styles to help move the match along, Shane matched up pretty well. After kicking out of pin after a brutal DDT and moving out of the way of a Shane McMahon moonsault, Styles was able to hit Shane with a Phenomenal Forearm then successfully cover him for the victory. This may not have been the match we wanted, but it was a damned good one.
The next match was one that SHOULD’VE had the WWE Universal Championship on the line. Kevin Owens defends his United States Championship against his former best friend, Chris Jericho. This story line has been built up for about a year now. Once best friends, Jericho and KO have become enemies and seek to tear each other apart. This match was everything it was supposed to be. Jericho and KO are both amazing in the ring, and they proved it by beating the hell out of each other. Towards the end of the match, KO went for his pop-up power bomb finisher, only to be countered by Jericho’s Codebreaker. This would’ve been the end of the match, but KO was able to literally get his finger on the bottom rope to break up the would-be 3 count. The match came to an end when Owens power bombed Jericho on the ring apron, tossed him back into the ring and pinned Jericho to retain his US title. One of the best matches of the night, that honestly should’ve had higher stakes.
The Raw Women’s Championship, in my opinion, was pretty bland… Which is a shame, considering all the amazing talent in the match. Outside of a few cool spots, and a surprise outcome that saw Bayley retaining the belt, there wasn’t much to talk about here. This all seemed like it was going to culminate in another huge win on wrestling’s biggest stage for the daughter of Legend Ric Flair, but Bayley gave Charlotte a back body drop off the top rope then followed up with, what Michael Cole called, a “Macho Man Elbow Drop”, before pinning Charlotte and leaving Mania as she entered, the Raw Women’s Champion.
The next match is where things get very interesting. Over the passed decade or so, it’s been really hard to get excited for tag team matches, especially on the main roster. These matches are usually filled with teams of wrestlers who were literally thrown together for the sake of having more wrestlers on the card. Not to mention the way overused “hot tag”. This year’s WrestleMania seemed like it was going to be a piss break. Though there were tons of rumors of the Hardy Boyz finding their way into this match, it’s hard to get riled up when rumors are usually just rumors. After the first three tag teams (Enzo/Big Kass, the Club and Sheamus/Cesaro) entered the ring, Mania hosts, New Day, came out and announced there would be another team thrown into the fray. They began to walk towards the ramp, when the Hardy Boyz music came on and every single person in the Citrus Bowl erupted. The match began, “Delete” chants and all. Though it was a relatively short match, it was a great match. Matt Hardy would deliver a sick Twist of Fate on Anderson off of a ladder. Then, in typical Jeff Hardy fashion, he delivered a Swanton bomb to Sheamus and Cesaro from the tallest ladder, outside of the ring nonetheless. Matt would then climb the ladder again and pull down the Raw Tag Team Championship belts. We’ve seen “surprises” in past WrestleManias, but none as epic as this.
Now we have a mixed tag team match between John Cena/Nikki Bella and The Miz/Maryse. This is one of those matches that really doesn’t seem a bad idea but one that you know isn’t going to be good. The feud was built up really well, with The Miz and Maryse mocking John and Nikki’s entire relationship. Outside of the Miz stopping every minute to hear cheers from the crowd, this match was ultimately a borefest. Long story short: John Cena and Nikki Bella won the match and John Cena proposed to Nikki in the middle of the ring.
That was followed by a match that’s been built up for YEARS, Triple H and Seth Rollins, in what the WWE was calling an “Unsanctioned Match”. This was a classic student vs teacher matchup. Coming off a knee injury, Seth Rollins went through one hell of a match against The Game. Both wrestlers pushing each other to the brink. Triple H did all that he could, attacking Seth’s injured knee to slow him down and even had Stephanie McMahon there to help out from time to time. At the end of it all, Stephanie’s attempts to help her husband would be his undoing. A super kick by Seth would knock Triple H right into Stephanie, who was standing on the apron, and send her crashing through a table outside of the ring. Seth would then catch Triple H in the pedigree to seal the victory via pinfall. This was definitely a WrestleMania caliber match… The entrances were awesome and the in-ring action was some of the best of the night.
Another highly anticipated, high stakes match would be the WWE Championship match between Randy Orton and current champ, Bray Wyatt. With Orton winning the 2017 Royal Rumble and Bray winning the WWE Championship at Elimination Chamber about a month later, this eventual match was shaping up to be a big one. Some months back, Orton would pledge allegiance to the evil Wyatt family. At first, he refused to fight Bray at Mania, calling Bray his “master”. Not too long after that, he had a change of heart and went after Bray. Overall, this match was pretty entertaining. Bray continued to try to get into Orton’s head, with his evil antics. A few times, projections of worms covered the entire ring. Despite this being a cool match, the ending fell flat. Though, I’ve been saying for months that Bray would probably lose, and as a HUGE fan of the Eater of Worlds, I didn’t want to see him lose the belt. More upsetting than him losing, was the way he lost… Falling to Orton’s RKO without a fight. Personal bias aside, this was a great match, but I still feel that this match’s ending was bland.
Next up was the WWE Universal Championship match. Goldberg would be defending his title against the Beast incarnate, the Mayor of Suplex City, Brock Lesnar. This match was going to be huge, whether it was good or bad was a whole other story. Putting title implications in the mix only made the outcome super predictable… Even if you don’t pay attention to the rumor sites, you could see it coming from miles away. Despite those issues, this match was pretty entertaining for what it was. After seeing Goldberg run through Brock in their last few meetings, one could only assume that Brock would be the one cleaning up quickly this time around. They both did a great job of going blow for blow, suplex for spear. Brock would eventually take quick control and end the match, giving him the Universal title.
The Smackdown Women’s Championship match was next… Yeah, the match right before the main event. Not much to talk about here. Naomi, the hometown gal, forced Alexa Bliss, who was the champ going into this match, to retain the title that was taken from her a few weeks before WrestleMania. Props to Naomi though. This could’ve been a Kickoff match… Another example of bad booking.
The “main event” of WrestleMania 33 was Roman Reigns vs The Undertaker. Admittedly, I went to sleep before this match started. It was late and I had NO desire to sit through this. I caught up with the highlights and I really didn’t miss anything. Roman Reigns would pin the Undertaker. Despite the forgettable match, the real story of this was the supposed retirement of the Phenom. This would be the last time we would see the legend in action in a wrestling ring… For now at least. A touching moment after the match as the Undertaker heard 70,000+ people chant “Thank You, Taker!”. This was the last time we’d see the dead man wrestling at WrestleMania.
Overall, it wasn’t the shit show I thought it would be. There was good. There was bad. There wasn’t as much ugly as there could’ve been. It always seems like the WWE takes one step forward and then takes two very large steps back. Despite the highly questionable moments and odd booking, WrestleMania 33 wasn’t a bad show at all. The awesome moments totally outweighed the bad ones.