Wrestlemania is the biggest wrestling event in the world. Every year, tens of thousands of wrestling fans cram into a huge stadium or dome and watch as the WWE trots out what they believe is the best overall wrestling card of the year.
This year’s 33rd installment of Wrestlemania occurred on Sunday in Orlando at the Citrus Bowl. Stars like John Cena, The Undertaker, Brock Lesnar were put in matches with weeks-long build ups.
It should have been a home run, right?
Well, unfortunately, the 7 1/2 hour show fell flat time and time again.
I thought about writing an in-depth match-by-match review of Wrestlemania 33, but I really doubt it would have been very entertaining. Many matches lacked quality wrestling and focused more on ‘entertainment’. I will instead just mention a few thoughts about each match and give my opinion of the overall state of ‘wrestling’ in the WWE.
One of the best matches on Sunday was actually on the ‘Kick-Off Show’ aka the Pre-show. Neville faced Austin Aries for the Cruiserweight title. It was a solid match and probably should have got more time and a spot on the main card.
The awesome Cruiserweight match was followed by the horrible ‘Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal’. It should be renamed ‘The Jobber Battle Royal’. It really is just a bunch of geeks mixed in with upper-midcard guys. This matched immediately dumped the two favorites (Big Show & Braun Strowman) within two minutes. The remaining amount of time was just a bunch of small guys trying to knock each other out and a forced appearance by New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski. If Mojo Rawley wasn’t friends with Gronk, he would have never won. The WWE always wants to have a moment in the show that will get a mention on ESPN’s Sportscenter.
The Kick-Off Show ended with a boring match between Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin for the Intercontinental title. It was a short match that was worse than any Smackdown television main event on Tuesdays.
The actual main card started with Shane McMahon against A.J. Styles. I can’t believe Styles is curtain-jerking at Mania. He had such a good year and it’s a shame he couldn’t have a match against someone at his level. This match was just ‘there’ and other than a few big jumps, it was pretty forgettable.
The next match should have been the main event. The feud between Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho was the most over on RAW and main evented the show many weeks. I think Owens should have never lost the Universal title and this match would have been for that belt and not the U.S. belt. This match was one of the best of the night. There was an awesome spot where Jericho countered Owens’ pop-up power bomb and turned it into a Code Breaker.
The four-way RAW Women’s title match was in a weird spot. I assumed it would go on later. The WWE has botched the RAW Women’s belt for months. They’ve bounced it around between Charlotte, Sasha and Bayley and gave Bayley the title way too early. They should have held off her initial title win for Wrestlemania, not a random episode of Monday Night RAW. The match was okay, but the turnbuckle spots were botched when Charlotte couldn’t rip it completely off. It made for a few confusing moments at the end of the match.
The biggest pop came in the next match. It was a ladder match for the RAW tag team titles. Three teams were announced for this match, but the New Day came out and said another team is entering the match. The Hardy Boyz entrance theme hit and the crowd immediately started to chant, ‘DELETE, DELETE, DELETE!’. The storyline of the match was great. The Hardys are the king of ladders matches and they were in control for most of it.
The Cena match was next and it was a match to lead to a marriage proposal. The Miz and Maryse were GREAT during the lead-up to the match. They were super over and The Miz looked like a guy who should get another world title run. It’s a shame Cena and Nikki had to go over just to propose, since both are now taking time off away from WWE.
The Triple H versus Seth Rollins match fell flat. I kind of feel that this feud already peaked for some reason. The crowd wasn’t into the match. They only really popped when they grabbed a chair or sledge hammer. The crowd did wake up when Triple H accidentally bumped Stephanie McMahon off the apron and through a table.
The horrible concert was next. The only two guys I recognized were Pitbull and Flo Rida, who has a longer Wrestlemania appearance streak than anyone on the roster. I’m only kidding, but the dude is on every show.
If the crowd was dead for HHH/Rollins, they were almost non-existent for this one. The only time the crowd got interested was when the WWE projected images of maggots and cockroaches on the mat during the match. The crowd then chanted, ‘that was creepy’. The match was bland and was a lame end to a feud that saw someone burn down the other guy’s shed/temple of worship.
They were finally getting near the end, right? Nope, there’s still an hour left.
Goldberg lost his title to Brock Lesnar in a short match filled with power moves. I lost track of how mane spears Goldberg hit, but Lesnar hit ten German suplexes and at least two F5s. It was a fun match for what it was. You weren’t expecting a technical masterpiece. You were just hoping these dudes would smash into each other for awhile, which is what happened. This match was one of the few WWE got right this year.
In the ‘I need to pee’ spot in this year’s show, the Smackdown Women’s Six-Pack Challenge match for the title. I think the only reason this match was moved off the Kick-Off Show and put this high up in the card was so that Naomi’s black light-heavy entrance would look better once the sun went down. The hometown girl Naomi got the win in another dull match that no one in the crowd cared about.
The Undertaker match headlined this year’s Wrestlemania. He faced Roman Reigns, the company’s ‘chosen one’. Taker was clearly not in any shape to perform. He is in serious need of hip surgery. He still put together a solid effort on his part. He took a few nasty bumps, like being speared through a table, but most of the bumps were mild. The match was mostly Taker standing still and Reigns would run at him. Reigns hit a bunch of spears and Superman punches and finally beat the Dead Man. Taker then left his gloves, coat and hat in the ring, a clue that this was his last match.
The WWE tried to do way too much at Wrestlemania 33. It should have been two hours less and roughly five or six less matches. It’s crazy that this Mania had 13 matches. The undercard couldn’t get enough time to put together a match that pulled in the crowd. Those matches felt rushed and just went from spot to spot, but sometimes you need to hear the music in-between the notes.
Mania could have been much better and I have a feeling the WWE actually held off some stuff from the event and are saving it for both RAW and Smackdown. They tout the RAW after Mania as the ‘most exciting RAW of the year’. If they do something on RAW that could or should have been done on Sunday, they are sacrificing their cornerstone event of the year for a random RAW.
The WWE needs to scale back their booking at their big events. I was glad to see that we didn’t have as many multi-man singles matches this year, but can we just have one Mania where two tag teams face each other for the title? Throwing a bunch of tag teams in a gimmick match at Mania cheapens the title. They have been doing that with the women for years and I thought it would change once they got some legit wrestlers, but nope.
A bunch of money was made on Sunday, but as their weekly ratings for Monday Night RAW continue to drop year after year, they will take a corporate stance that they are as popular as ever. They will announce some big subscriber number for the WWE Network, but fail to mention (until they have to disclose it to their shareholders) how many are unpaid users of the free trial.
The WWE missed an opportunity to show that they care about ‘wrestling’. New Japan’s Wrestle Kingdom show in January was better than Wrestlemania 33 by leaps and bounds. The WWE will continue to pretend not to be ‘wrestling’, but ‘entertainment’…and their viewers will find other ways to spend their time on Monday nights.
Bobby Roberts (otherwise known as Sweetbob) is the creator of ‘America’s White Boy’ and contributor at Project Shanks. His writing has been featured on ESPN’s ‘SportsNation’, Sports Illustrated’s Hot Clicks, Guyspeed, and various other sites. You can follow him on Twitter at @Sweetbob.