We Review WWE Wrestlemania 33

****CONTAINS SPOILERS****

WrestleMania – it’s not just WWE’s biggest show of the year, it’s a brand name recognized by non-fans. It seems for the last few years, the biggest show of the year has had controversy. Fans have a right to have mixed emotions as shows like WrestleMania 31 proved awesome while WrestleMania 32 was an over-bloated mess. So which category does the 33rd Show of shows fit in?

Kick-off Match: Neville vs. Austin Aries – Cruiserweight Championship

After recovering from his injury, Austin Aries has jumped to 205 Live and is challenging Neville for the Cruiserweight Championship.

It feels unfortunate that a match like this was relegated to the pre-show, but these two knew how to start off. There were a ton of impressive spots including Neville blocking a suicide dive with a kick. Aries got BOTH of his finishers in with the 450 Splash and the Last Chancery. There was hardly a moment to waste.

The end came when Neville raked Aries’s eye, which Aries sold like a champion, then delivered the Red Arrow.

Solid opener – for anyone who only watched the main show, I highly recommend checking this out.

Match rating: 4 stars (Out of 5)

Kick-off Match: Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale

For the most part, this match was alright.

It was typical Battle Royale fair – fast-paced action with lots of people being eliminated left and right. This was more dramatic than last year’s Battle Royale as actual talent such as Dolph Ziggler and Sami Zayn added a little more drama.

It was surprising to see guys like Braun Stroman and Big Show eliminated early. So who was important enough that company eliminated those heavy-hitters? Mojo Rawley. It’s too late for April Fools Day so know I’m serious.

Rawley won when New England Patriot Ron Gronkowski helped Mojo win against perennial jobber Jinder Mahal.

I can’t really complain about them using this as a publicity grab since it clearly worked – News sources such as CBS Sports reported on the event and it did add drama to what felt like a throwaway. However, I don’t see the company getting behind Mojo.

Match rating: 2.25 stars

Kick-off Match: Dean Ambrose vs. Baron Corbin – Intercontinental Championship

Baron Corbin and Dean Ambrose had a passable Intercontinental Championship match. They did little special, but they kept the flow going. Corbin is showing improvement in his in-ring manner: Interacting with opponents and taunting with people as opposed to looking bored.

The most exciting bits were in the final moments. Corbin replied to Ambrose’s rebound clothesline with a boot to the face. Dean showed his craftiness by maneuvering out of Corbin’s End of Days before landing Dirty Deeds to keep his championship.

Match rating: 2.75 stars

The New Day kicked off the show properly with funny lines and Final Fantasy references.

AJ Styles vs. Shane McMahon

No debates about whether or AJ Styles deserves better (Spoiler alert: He totally did), but this match was a decent enough opener.

Fans knew if nothing else, Shane McMahon would do some crazy spots and he did not disappoint. He took an insane bump into the table. The ref took a bump turning this into a brief no-DQ match (which it probably should have been from the beginning).

AJ attempted a Coast-to-Coast with a trashcan on Shane, but Shane blocked with a trashcan. Shane gave AJ the real Coast-to-coast and tried to top it off with a Leap of Faith onto a table, but AJ got out of the way. Shane blocked a Phenomenal Forearm with an impressive DDT.

Shane actually attempted a Shooting Star Press – give the man some credit. But Shane missed and AJ scored the Phenomenal Forearm for the W.

Overall, this match was serviceable. It was a little sloppy and botchy, but for an opener it was decent. Plus we got some drama with Shane playing the wily underdog doing anything to beat a stronger foe. But in the end, the right man won.

Match rating: 2.75 stars

Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho – U.S. Championship Match

Chris Jericho and Kevin Owens have had one of the more entertaining feuds over the last couple of months. They’re also two of the most talented guys in the business. So it should be no surprise they delivered.

The match opened with some impressive spots, including Jericho diving onto Owens outside the ring. It soon slowed down into some rest holds but picked back up quickly. Some of the highlights included Jericho reversing Owens’s cannonball into The Walls of Jericho.

Jericho reversed a Pop-up Powerbomb into a Codebreaker. One spot that cracked me up was when Owens made a robe break with a single finger. After a previous attempt, Owens scored a pop-up powerbomb and won The United States Championship.

Match rating: 4 stars

Bayley vs. Nia Jax vs. Charlotte vs. Sasha Banks – Four Way Elimination for the Raw Women’s Championship

After hot-shotting Bayley winning The Raw Women’s Championship AND ending Charlotte’s undefeated streak at PPVs, the company had to do something to give this match a little drama.

They didn’t but hey, it’s better than a few years ago when a match like this would’ve been a bathroom break.

To the ladies’ credit, they still put on a clinic – Nia Jax basically dominated early on, throwing her opponents around like rag dolls and requiring a triple powerbomb to be eliminated. One of the drawbacks to this elimination style is it can be a determent to the normal frenetic energy of a match like this.

Case in point: Sasha Banks eliminated rather anticlimactically after being pushed into an exposed turnbuckle.

Bayley selling her disappointment of facing Charlotte by herself may be one of the lasting images of the night. Charlotte and Bayley worked a decent match by themselves before Bayley retained her title with a diving elbow drop.

This match would have meant more if this were Bayley winning her first title, but as is, this was a solid women’s match.

Match Rating: 3.5 stars

Before the tag team ladder match, the New Day came out with a surprise. There was going to be one more team added to the match. Were the New Day going to abuse their power to add themselves?

No. The Hardy Boyz are back!

The Hardy Boyz vs. Enzo and Big Cass vs. Cesaro and Sheamus vs. The Club – 4-way ladder match for the Raw Tag Team Titles

Describing this match is no easy task. It was a spotfest through and through. The whole match was non-stop from the opening with hardly a wasted moment to be found. It really needs to be seen.

The ending came when Matt Hardy performed a Twist of Fate to Karl Anderson off the ladder while Jeff Hardy performed a Swanton Bomb to Sheamus and Cesaro while they were seated on the bridged ladders outside the ring.

The Hardys won the Raw Tag Team Titles. This match would have been an exciting spotfest no matter what, but the return of the Hardys gave this a feel-good WrestleMania moment (and Jeff Hardy’s first WrestleMania win).

Also, if we saw more Broken Matt Hardy antics (as the “Delete” chants hinted), this would have been the match of the year.

Match rating: 4.25 stars

John Cena/Nikki Bella vs. Miz/Maryse

There were feuds that technically had better buildup, but thanks to Miz’s Totall Bellas Bulls*** skits, this had some of the funniest build.

Before the match, Jerry Lawler joined the team on commentary and Al Roker was the guest announcer. That’s all there really is to say about that.

The match itself was decent but nothing to write home about. Five straight minutes of Miz whaling on John Cena made it clear we were going to see Super Cena. Cena did gain his offense and tagged in Nikki Bella, making it Bella vs. Maryse. There was a fun spot when Miz took a suicide dive for his wife.

The match ended when Cena and Nikki performed tandem Five Knuckle Shuffles. Both Cena and Bella performed their finishers – Cena’s Attitude Adjustment and Nikki’s Rack Attack 2.0 to gain a double pin.

After the match, Cena proposed to Nikki in what was, in fact, a sweet moment.

This was hardly a 5-star classic, but it was a feel-good moment, which WrestleMania needs here and there.

Match rating: 2.25 stars

Seth Rollins vs. Triple H – non-sanctioned match

I knew this would be a wild brawl, but I was also worried about an annoying tic – Triple H spending an entire match working a knee. I was right on both accounts.

To this match’s credit, there were some exciting spots, such as both Triple H and Seth Rollins narrowly escaping Pedigrees. Stephanie McMahon took a wicked table bump. For the first time in (what feels like) a while, Rollins landed The Phoenix Splash. Triple H DDT’d Rollins onto an announce table.

However, Triple H working the leg felt like it went on a little too long. Doing this made sense because that was the story after Rollins’s real life knee injury. Also, to Rollins’s credit, he sold the knee injury in a way that made me wonder if it was, in fact, okay.

Another minor problem: Where was Samoa Joe? He was such an important part of the feud as the guy who gave Rollins the knee injury, but he was MIA for this match.

Rollins got the duke after a Pedigree in a flawed but enjoyable match.

Match rating: 3.75 stars

Bray Wyatt vs. Randy Orton – WWE Championship Match

This match was… not good. I don’t know what happened.

Both Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt are talented, charismatic guys. However, they seemed to forget that in this dull, heatless match.

There’s not a lot to talk about, as one of the only exciting spots was Orton performing an RKO outside the ring. Also noteworthy – for the wrong reasons – was an absurd decision to have creepy imagery appear on the ring before Bray Wyatt performed big moves. This is the kind of stunt that turns bad matches downright comical.

Also, like Samoa Joe in the previous match, Luke Harper (who was a big part of the feud) was missing after an unceremonious appearance in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale.

Randy Orton won after an RKO in the ring in a match that was only a little over 10 minutes but felt longer.

Match rating: 1.75 stars

Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE Universal Championship

This was a match… I was not looking forward to. I actually liked what they did at Survivor Series with Goldberg squashing Brock Lesnar. However, it felt like we were getting too much of a good thing, with Goldberg squashing Owens at Fastlane and taking Goldberg’s nostalgia tour a little too far.

Surprisingly, this match delivered.

Okay, it wasn’t exactly Flair-Steamboat, but it didn’t need to be.

Yeah, there was a combined total of four moves between both guys, but that also means this match was unpadded. It was all killer, no filler. Goldberg got a few spears – including one through the barricade – and even a Jackhammer, which Lesnar kicked out of. Lesnar took Goldberg to Suplex City before an eventual F-5.

This match was short, sweet and to the point. It was only 4 1/2 minutes, but it was 4 1/2 minutes of pure adrenaline with a winner and a new Universal Champion (as Paul Heyman would say) Brrrrrock Lesnar!

Match rating: 3.25 stars

Alexa Bliss vs. Becky Lynch vs. Naomi vs. Natalya vs. Carmella vs. Mickie James – 6-pack challenge for the Smackdown Women’s Championship

This was another short but sweet match. It feels like Smackdown Live got shortchanged with what felt like a throwaway match, but again it was all action with no wasted time.

Plus there was some exciting action. Natalya performed a double Sharpshooter on Naomi and Alexa Bliss. Becky Lynch gave James Ellsworth a Bex-ploder Suplex.

Naomi won after making Bliss submit. Being in her hometown and recovering from an injury, Naomi was easily the right choice. Her winning helped elevate this to something satisfying.

Match Rating: 2.5 stars

Roman Reigns vs. the Undertaker – No Holds Barred

After months of feuding over whose yard the ring is, The Undertaker and Roman Reigns finally squared off. This match had almost a solemn tone as the crowd was a little quiet. They must have known what was up.

Jim Ross even returned for commentary. (And let me just say, hearing Ross on commentary, he put Roman over better than the company has in the last 3 years.)

The match was decent but botch-heavy. Highlights included Roman spearing the Undertaker through a table, both men gaining their finishers early, with Roman kicking out of a Tombstone Piledriver.

The botches in a way, helped tell the story. When the Undertaker applied a somewhat sloppy Hell’s Gate, he looked like a man desperate to do anything to survive. But they were still a detriment as they showed the man’s age.

However, the real news came at the end when Reigns pinned the Taker after a spear.

Roman walked away, leaving the Undertaker by himself. Undertaker slowly began leaving his ring gear – gloves, coat and hat in the center of the ring. If there were any doubters, this would be the last time we’d see The Undertaker – quite possibly the greatest performer in WWE history – wrestle.

He slowly, solemnly, walked away, kissed his wife Michelle McCool and exited that long walk up the entrance ramp, to chants of “Thank you Taker”. The lights dimmed and the gong of Taker’s entrance music hit one last time.

There are some images that are memorable, but watching the Undertaker make his final exit at this show is something that will stick with me forever. (Also, while I watched I swear something just got caught in my eye.)

Match Rating: 3.5 stars (Undertaker’s retirement: 5 stars)

WrestleMania 33 was surprisingly good. Okay, it was far from perfect, and there were a handful of decisions I disagree with. Fortunately, the right people won in most matches.

However, there was a great balance of good wrestling for the die-hard fans and good storytelling/feel good moments for the more casual fans. Also for a five-hour show, it was surprisingly briskly paced.

Undoubtedly, this show will go down as Undertaker’s final bow and this was a respectable show to go out on.

The Good
  • - Undertaker's emotional retirement - Super ladder match - Jericho/Owens - Goldberg/Lesnar was short and action-packed - Cena proposing to Nikki Bella was a sweet moment - Solid pre-show
The Bad
  • - Surpisingly awful WWE Championship match - AJ vs. Shane was decent, but felt like a waste of Styles's potential. - Samoa Joe and Luke Harper unused in their feuds
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