Wrestling Review: WWE Wrestlemania 33 (2017)

Before a sold out crowd of over 70-thousand in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida, the WWE presents over seven hours of the best wrestling it can offer at Wrestlemania 33. There will be eight titles on the line, including a monstrous clash between Brock Lesnar and the Universal Champion Goldberg. With The Beast Lesnar’s advocate, Paul Heyman, at his side, will Goldberg run over Lesnar again, or has the aging champion simply run out of tricks? On the SmackDown Live side of things, Bray Wyatt looks to defend his WWE Heavyweight Championship against brother-turned-mortal enemy Randy Orton. Orton’s months of faux-friendship has cut the champion deeply, and an angry Bray Wyatt is a dangerous Bray Wyatt. Has the Viper bitten off more than he can chew, or does this all play into Orton’s demented game? Also not to be missed are huge matches between Roman Reigns and The Undertaker, and The Miz and Maryse versus John Cena and Nikki Bella, and there are six other WWE titles on the line, as champions Alexa Bliss, Bayley, Neville, Dean Ambrose, The Club (Gallows & Anderson) and Chris Jericho all look to retain their championships. With The New Day hosting the show, you can be sure there will be laughs and gasps, action and comedy on WWE’s biggest show of the year.

+ Roman Reigns vs The Undertaker: I have to say, Reigns’ pyro display was nice, and ‘Taker was rocking a cool, new jacket. But visuals aside, this was surprisingly solid. This was very story-heavy, of course, considering the combatants, but overall I really enjoyed what we were given. I do wish the story had played up a bit more of their few confrontations when Reigns was part of the Shield, but I know generally the WWE doesn’t like to go that far back
+ Goldberg (c) vs Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) (Universal Championship): as far as spectacles go, this was another in their long line of monster-movie battles. I really enjoyed this
+ Alexa Bliss (c) defends against all available women on SmackDownLive (SmackDown Live Women’s Championship): I was afraid that this was getting bumped, but worry not dear readers. This was realtively short, and did feel rushed at times, but overall this was a very enjoyable free-for-all
+ The Club (Luke ‘DOC’ Gallows & Karl Anderson) (c) vs Sheamus & Cesaro vs Enzo & Big Cass (Triple Threat Ladder Match) (Raw Tag Team Championships): not quite as advertised, this was a match where bodies, ladders and records were made to be BROKEN. This was relatively short, in comparison to other ‘Mania ladder matches, but short and sweet might well be the way to go
+ AJ Styles vs Shane McMahon: I am still unsure in what way Shane McMahon is even a remote threat to someone like AJ Styles, and the crowd agreed. Styles was almost the most popular person on the show, and rightfully so after the year he has had. Styles made all of Shane’s offense look legit, and a few near falls added to the excitement, and there was a predictable but welcome change of pace. This was entertaining, but it was very much Styles’ match
+ Neville (c) vs Austin Aries (WWE Cruiserweight Championship): first and foremost, Neville is in such ridiculously good shape, especially in contrast to Aries. This was always going to be one of the best in-ring performances on the show, and it absolutely did not disappoint. I don’t know whether to be sad this was relegated to the pre-show opener, or glad that it was given a good amount of time. Either way, this was fantastic
+ Chris Jericho (c) vs Kevin Owens (United States Championship): it is an absolute travesty that this was not for the Universal Championship. This was good for what it was, but something about it felt lacking, as if it never quite kicked into that final gear. This was solid, sure, but maybe my expectations were just that much higher
+ I love the Hall of Famer spots. It is such a good feeling to see (most of the time) these genuine legends honored in a well-deserved way

– Bray Wyatt (c) vs Randy Orton (WWE Heavyweight Championship): following on from the live music performance, it was as if the life was completely sucked out of the crowd. Some unique, but not necessarily good special effect works had potential, but never really amounted to anything. And holy crap, this might be the definition of underwhelming ending
– John Cena & Nikki Bella vs The Miz & Maryse: I mean, this was only ever going one way. And of course it happened. So, uh, whatever. Miz deserved a much bigger match after his incredible year, and Cena should have had the Undertaker match he teased
– Triple H vs Seth Rollins (Unsanctioned No Holds Barred Match): much like Owens/Jericho and Styles/McMahon, something about this match just never got rolling for me. The story of Seth’s injured leg seemed to only be of passing importance as he would do huge moves, then remember his leg hurt, only to get up and do more big moves. Triple H worked the same plodding style he has used in all his ‘big matches’ of late (that is, against Bryan, Reigns and now Seth) and I never really felt anything was going to happen here
– Bayley (c) vs Charlotte vs Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax (Fatal Four Way Elmination Match) (Raw Women’s Championship): this was another that went basically as you would expect. Some clever teamwork, much like the NXT Tag Team title match yesterday, made for some fantastic moments, but overall this felt like eveyr match between these four we have seen so often over the last few months. I feel there was some severely missed opportunities between certain participants which had been hinted at, but never came to fruition
– Dean Ambrose (c) vs Baron Corbin (Intercontinental Championship): of all the matches relegated to the pre-show, this is the one that deserved it most. The build to this has been minimal at best, and this was a sloppy, uninspired affair. Corbin would have been better defending his Andre Memorial Battle Royale win from last year
– Fourth Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale: featuring essentially everyone else not already in a match, it is always a shame to see the likes of Sami Zayn, Luke Harper and Braun Strowman relegated to a “filler” match; the three have had such good years I almost feel like they are owed a better showing. Killian Dain, from NXT SAnitY stable made an appearance, along with the likes of Mark Henry and The Big Show. This was essentially a time filler, and until they let the yearly winners actually do something, it will continue to be so
– gosh darn I hate that Wrestlemania still puts on ‘concerts’. The Wrestlemania crowd these days is from all over the world, and often very uninterested in anything other than the in-ring product, so it baffles my mind that there are still these ten-minute breaks just to shill whoever sang the theme song for the show

> As an Australian, and Wrestlemania being such an international event, I find it so strange that the American anthem is sung at the beginning.
> That entrance ramp was so long I was sure half the performers would be sucking wind by the time they get to the ring.

Should you watch this event: Overall, this was perhaps not as bad as I pessimistically thought it might be. But aside from a few surprises, this was as average as it gets, thanks in no small part to the over abundance on part timers (Lesnar, Goldberg, Undertaker, Triple H) shafting the main players of the past year (AJ Styles, Kevin Owens, The Miz etc) into meaningless filler matches between the heavily promoted main events matches. This was a very story-heavy show, and perhaps lacked in the majority of matches in terms of in-ring material, but overall this was enjoyable enough.

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