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Why Wrestlemania 33 Was Average
Things were looking bleak for WWE coming into Wrestlemania 33. Just four months before mania we saw the return of the mighty Goldberg!. A man that had not wrestled in the WWE for twelve years. A wrestler that made his debut for company World Championship Wrestling and was not defeated for 173 matches in a row. It looked like his hiatus was actually going to turn into a retirement. In October 2016 he completed a promotional tour to plug his appearance in the latest WWE video game. In association with 2K Sports, WWE promoted the game 2K17 with spokesperson Goldberg who seemed to recapture his passion and eagerness to once again climb back in the ring.
With Goldberg back in the squared circle, who was going to be standing in the ring with him?. The man that he shared a love of mixed martial arts with, a monster who had actually competed and excelled in the UFC and a man he had defeated himself twelve years ago...Brock Lesnar. Brock versus Goldberg at Wrestlemania 20 was much like the current match they will have at WM33. Two huge mega stars colliding on the grandest stage of them all. Except much like the present day, the lead up has not been ideal.
On March 14 2004, Wrestlemania 20 took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City and it is where the first Goldberg v Brock Lesnar match took place. A large portion of the 18,500 crowd had heard rumours (Internet rumours were not as wide spreading as today) of Goldberg's contract coming to an end. There was also speak that Brock Lesnar was leaving to pursue a career in the NFL. The match went on mid card and it was received with hostility from the crowd even with the inclusion of newly retired mega star Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee. It is not known whether the crowd reaction was the reason for their slow plodding and even boring match but everyone was happy when Goldberg finally pinned Lesnar and the match came to it's conclusion.
Twelve years later Goldberg v Lesnar 2 happens at Survivor Series 2016 and the build up was exciting. Brock was the monster heel that had broken The Undertakers wrestlemania winning streak and Goldberg at 50 years old was looking fit, healthy and ready to rumble. Goldberg hits two spears and a jackhammer and in 1 minute, 24 seconds the match is over and Goldberg wins. He is up 2-0. The fans could handle that after their first match WWE would not allow the second match to go very long. Just 2 months later though, Goldberg pinned Kevin Owens in around the same amount of time to win the Universal Championship. Do we really want a champion that only wrestles for a minute and a half?. Owens could have gotten a decent match out of Bill.
This brings me to another reason why the anticipation for mania was not as high as previous years. Wrestler Kevin Owens has just come off a 6 month reign with the Universal Championship and for most of that formed a great comedic duo with fellow WWE superstar Chris Jericho. Were they split up to soon so they could face each other at the Showcase of the Immortals?. I think so. World Wrestling Entertainment has been known to prematurely break up successful and 'over' stables to early. Some great examples of this would be groups such as The Shield, The Wyatts, Nexus and The Legacy.
AJ Styles v Shane McMahon
So April the 2nd has finally rolled around and the set for WM33 has taken the last week to erect in Orlando Florida. It is a huge Wrestlemania 'Globe' surrounded by a roller coaster which represents this years theme of The Ultimate Thrill Ride. This years opening package which stuck to the thrill ride theme was exceptionally good. Your Wrestlemania hosts The New Day kicked things off followed by the first match on the card, AJ Styles v Shane McMahon. The Boss' son goes up against the former TNA Golden Boy. The lead up to this had confusing WWE booking (Which has become a common thing). A clear fan favourite AJ took the bad guy approach of throwing Shane through a car window instead of just asking for the match. The actual match itself started at a fast pace with AJ mainly out-wrestling his inexperienced opponent. The match then became more of a brawl which helped Shane make a slight come back. Shane took a bump onto the spanish announce table but recovered soon after to deliver an Angle Slam on Styles (Angle actually returned two nights before this to be inducted into the Hall of Fame). Maybe Shane forgot Kurt was back?.
The best sequence of the match came when AJ flew from the top rope to hit a Phenomenal Forearm which Shane countered into a Triangle Choke. Great move!. McMahon also did a better shooting star press at Wrestlemania than Brock Lesnar ever did only to miss and hit the mat. Shane did his best while trying to mat wrestle Styles and mostly did an ok job. Chairs were introduced when the match took a hardcore turn which seemed to favour McMahon. The Younger son of Vince then kicked out of the Styles Clash (Yeah right!) but was beaten with a Phenomenal Forearm. Excellent start to the show and a fabulous match.
Chris Jericho v Kevin Owens for the US Championship
Both competitors recieved HUGE pops when coming to the ring. This was a very entertaining match with both guys trading their signature moves early on. Kevin recieved a bit of heat when he applied the Walls of Jericho to the originator of that move. "You where never my best friend!!" Kevin could be heard screaming at one stage. He uses this old school technique of yelling smart replies to the cameras and audience to either generate heat or laughter. After a well paced exciting match Jericho hit his finisher the Codebreaker on Owens but before he could get the three count Kevin reached the bottom rope with one finger, yes literally one finger to stop the count. The finish came when Jericho copped a kick to the knee while outside on the floor and then a powerbomb to the apron. These type of finishes are confusing because yes the moves are devastating and probably could put someone down for 3 but by the time you drag the guy into the ring for the pin it suspends the disbelief that the guy has not come to his senses and can kick out. All and all a really good match which is what everyone expected from these two superstars.
Rate Wrestlemania 33
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Next up was the 4 way elimination match for the Raw Womens Championship. On her way down the very long entrance ramp Bayley tripped over one of her inflatable tube men that didn't blow up properly!. Nia Jax dominated this match early but was quickly pinned by all three of her opponents. High flying came next with some risky moves from Sasha Banks and Charlotte. Sasha was pinned soon after by Charlotte. After the year Banks has had it was disappointing to see her leave the match so quick. Bayley scored the win soon after pinning Charlotte in what was quite a scrappy affair. The match suffered because of the small amount of time allocated.
Following the women was a highlights package from the WWE Hall Of Fame Ceremony held two nights earlier. Straight after this we were joined by the inductees DDP, Rock 'N' Roll Express, Teddy Long, Beth Phoenix, Warrior Award winner Eric LeGrand and the family of deceased legend Rick Rude. The biggest pop though came for returning superstar Kurt Angle. I thought he might have been included in a story line or match on the card but it was not to be.
The Raw Tag Team Championships were to be defended next in a Triple Threat Ladder Match including the Champs Luke Gallows and Ken Anderson, Enzo Amore and Big Cass and Sheamus and Ceasaro (Who are finally on the same page and came out dressed in a hybrid outfit including Sheamus' kilt and Ceasaro's suit). Your hosts The New Day came out to change the match to a Fatal 4 Way which at first looked like it would be them but turned out to be.....THE HARDYZ!!!. Another huge pop from the crowd greeted the returning brothers. Fans have loved the ''Broken'' Hardyz gimmick from TNA Wrestling and continuously chanted ''Delete..Delete..Delete" and ''Brother Nero". Matt Hardy was the one who climbed the ladder to retrieve the belts and give the returning tag team their Seventh Tag Team Title Reign.
John Cena and NiKki Bella v The Miz and Maryse
Al Roker is the guest ring announcer!....um why?...Gets boo'ed very loudly by the wrestling fans in attendance. Cena gets his usual hostile reception and Miz gets a heroes welcome. The cheesiest thing in wrestling at the moment is the in-sync wrestling moves Nikki and John have been doing. They also do this with their finishers as a tag team. Not good. So power couple Cena pins power couple Miz and after the match John actually proposes to girlfriend Nikki in the ring after their victory. She says yes!. What a suprise. Was this real or story line?. Time will tell.
Triple H v Seth Rollins Unsanctioned Match
Both superstars got cool entrances. Seth set the stage on ''fire'' while Triple H rode with wife Stephanie McMahon on a four wheeler motorcycle accompanied by a hand full of law enforcement bikes. Trips has the best entrance every year thanks to his awesome Motorhead theme song plus being part owner, and also being the boss' son in law. Seth opened the match at a cracking pace hitting his opponent with 2 quick suicide dives but you get the feeling this one wasn't going to end early. Triple H went old school targeting Rollins' injured knee at every chance he got. Trips put on an indian death lock while the two were out on the floor and Seth cleverly reached under the ring to pull out Hunters sledgehammer (I do not know why he did not use it though?). Back in the ring one of the moves of the night was a Phoenix Splash from ''The Architect". It didn't put Hunter away though. Next came a battle to see who could use The Pedigree first, Triple H's finishing move that was given to his apprentice Seth. Counter after counter from both men meant the move wasn't used. Then came the crazy moment when Helmsley accidentally knocked Stephanie off the apron where she was standing, sending her crashing through a ring side table that had been set up earlier. This caused enough distraction for Rollins to hit a pedigree for the one, two, three. Great match and very entertaining at times.
Bray Wyatt v Randy Orton for the WWE Championship
This feud is reminding me of a 1999 Attitude Era Undertaker story line. It has been taken to a dark place with Sister Abigail's ashes and the burning down of her resting place. The actual match was the same with the ring randomly being turned into a cinema screen containing creepy crawly's, worms and maggots!. The first big move was an Orton RKO Outta Knowhere on the floor. Bray hit Randy with his finisher Sister Abigail but the third generation wrestler kicked out. The next RKO was in the ring and finished the job for Randy and earned him the WWE Championship. This was a strange decision by WWE to take the title off Wyatt after just 1 month. The guy has earned a title run and hopefully he regains the Championship soon.
Goldberg v Brock Lesnar for The Universal Championship
So we finally get to talk about Lesnar v Goldberg 3. Brock gets a huge cheer while Goldberg gets boo'ed. The advocate for Lesnar Paul Heyman grabs the mike from ring announcer JoJo and introduces The Beast Incarnate to an almighty pop from the Orlando crowd. Brock starts quick and takes Goldberg to suplex city. Bill then sneaks in two spears. The match has already gone longer than Bill Goldberg's last two matches of his comeback. Goldberg gets another spear on the floor which sends both men through the barricade and Goldberg's ear nearly gets ripped off his head. Both men slowly get back into the ring but it turns out to be a bad thing for the champion. Ten suplex's later and Brock hits an F5 for the win and the Universal title. Not many moves involved but at just under 5 minutes, it eclipses there 2004 Wrestlemania match.
Our Mania hosts The New Day pay us another visit to announce the attendance as 75,245. So is this the real figure or is it fake like Cena and Nikki's engagement earlier!!. I might get some heat for that comment.
Undertaker v Roman Reigns
When the realization that Taker v Reigns was on last it left me baffled. How is The Undertaker going to have a main event caliber match at Wrestlemania?. It was only 2 months ago at the Royal Rumble when he looked like an old man fumbling around in the ring. For the first time he looked like he needed to retire and a match at Mania might have even been out of the question. Anyway the match went on last and just like Cena earlier, Reigns got boos from the Orlando crowd. When Taker arrived with the sound of cheering I noticed his wife Michelle McCool sitting behind the commentary team. Very interesting. You don't see that often. So the match got under way and sure enough Taker was looking like his best days were past him. To compensate for this steel chairs were introduced quite early in the match and used quite frequently (The match was No Disqualification). The brawling continued on the outside of the ring and Taker took the fight to the announcers table. He set it up for a chokeslam but Roman recovered to spear The Dead Man with a hell of a bump through the table. This could have been bad. He recovered luckily and pounded The Big Dog until he had him back in the squared circle. Old Taker attempted a Last Ride but couldn't lift Roman up into position. Also a sign that retirement was near. Roman also showed fatigue when he tried to counter into a Tombstone Piledriver but also couldn't get Taker up into the position. Oh dear. One move Roman could pull off was another Spear. Then another. And a third until finally the 3 count came and Roman Reigns had pinned Taker at Wrestlemania. This was only the second time the Phenom had lost at Mania. So the ring was Roman's ''Yard'' now and not Takers anymore it seemed. Reigns left with a hostile reception from fans.
Then it happened. It finally became clear why Taker wrestled in the main event. In wrestling when a grappler announces his retirement after a match he will leave his most treasured wrestling gear in the middle of the ring before he leaves. So off came the gloves, the jacket and finally the old black hat that had been on his head for all of his entrances as The Dead Man. Once the crowd became aware what was happening he received a standing ovation for his slow walk back to the middle of the ramp, where with a raise of the signature American Badass arm he disappeared in a puff of smoke into the stage. Cool way for The Undertaker to be farewelled. He will be missed.
So overall Wrestlemania 33 was average at best. It wasn't the greatest WWE Mania, it wasn't the worst. It was somewhere in between. But with that being said, It sure as hell makes the upcoming weeks and months of WWE programming worth watching. Fans will want to see if the company will capitalise on the fantastic "Broken Hardyz'' gimmick. Can Bray Wyatt get his title back and what have they got in store for one of the greatest wrestlers ever.....Kurt Angle.