Whatever else it was this year's WrestleMania was long. Already scheduled to be four hours long with a two-hour pre-show beforehand, it overran by around 50 minutes, making it almost seven hours in total. There were highs and lows as expected, they just didn't necessarily come in the places fans were expecting them. Here's a run-down of the main card action.
Ladder match for the Intercontinental championship.
This was everything you'd expect from a ladder match opening to WrestleMania. High energy, lots of big bumps being taken, plenty of false finishes. Notable bumps included Sin Cara taking a dive from the top of the ladder to put Stardust through a ladder balanced between barricade and ring apron. Zack Ryder's elbow from the top of the ladder. And Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens trading blows and bumps. Miz took a lovely pop up powerbomb from Owens.
Sami Zayn was a standout from this match. Following his spectacular match at NXT Takeover with Shinsuke Nakamura, Zayn is clearly a crowd favourite. For the moment, he looked like he was going to grab the belt.
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Zack Ryder's comedy shove to knock Miz from the ladder and take the belt was probably the only thing which could have topped a Sami Zayn win. A popular victory with the crowd. Zack Ryder has been woefully underappreciated in recent years by WWE. Maybe this is the first step to him becoming a major player.
Chris Jericho versus AJ Styles
This was an odd one. The feud has felt forced but the match was great, very technical and brutal in places. Definitely a match for the wrestling fans, except for a couple of points.
- JBL on commentary insinuating that AJ Styles is inexperienced. Ok, this is Styles first WrestleMania, but there's a reason fans were so excited when AJ arrived. He's been around a good long while and they don't call him phenomenal for nothing.
- Jericho underselling the Styles Clash. There are a lot of rumours that WWE don't like the Styles Clash considering it dangerous as the positioning required to take it is unusual and counterintuitive. Is this the way they chose to take the prestige from the move.
The eventual Jericho win felt anti-climactic. Jericho is essentially part time at WWE and Styles was supposed to be a big name signing (as he should be). Styles could have been given a big push from 'mania but what now?
New Day versus League of Nations
It was an ok match, nothing more to add. It had the feeling of a card filler. League of Nations largely kicked Xavier Woods around the ring for a while and the win looked inevitable even if it was unpopular with the crowd.
The reason this match wasn't switched with the, much more entertaining, Uso's versus Dudley's match in the pre-show became apparent after the end of the match when HBK, Stone Cold and Mick Foley turned up to put the LoN in their place. A slightly too cocky Xavier Woods also caught the wrong end of a Stone Cold Stunner.
Dean Ambrose versus Brock Lesnar
Arguably the most disappointing match of the night much as it pains me to say so. I've been vocal in my support of Ambrose as a truly top talent and I stand by it, but not on the strength of this match. The pace was slow to start and, unsurprisingly for a Lesnar match, didn't accelerate much.
For a No Holds Barred Street Fight this suffered badly from WWE PG sensibilities. With hindsight this should have waited until extreme rules. Kendo sticks were used almost to the exclusion of anything else. Ambrose was taken to suplex city 13 times. Brock was hit with another low-blow and sprayed with a fire extinguisher. Chairs came into play and a single F5 onto a pile of chairs finished the Lunatic Fringe.
With Dean Ambrose being one of the most over superstars on the roster this was not what the crowd wanted (although it may have been what some expected). The match was short and brutal but with no sense of street fight's of the past. Both men put in a good performance but somehow it wasn't enough.
The finish was so quick it led me to wonder if maybe Ambrose might be carrying a legitimate injury after all the crazy bumps he's been taking recently.
Triple threat match for the Brand new Women's Championship
Unveiling the belt in the WrestleMania pre-show made this match all the more special. The women of WWE and NXT are really setting the bar high right now and this match was no exception. The match was well fought and technical, with a good and well sustained pace.
The title was confidently expected to change hands but that didn't happen Ric Flair got involved to prevent Sasha from breaking up Charlotte's figure eight on Becky and the 'dirtiest family in the game' retained the belt.
The Women's Championship is a huge step forward in recognising the skill and dedication of all WWE's athletes . The women tonight produced a standard of wrestling easily equalling, if not exceeding, that on display on the rest of the card.
Undertaker versus Shane McMahon - Hell in a Cell
Fans appeared to be split more on the outcome of this match than any other. More about the politics than the fight it was always going to be match of transitioning between the big spots. And those spots were big. Shane was, to some, an unbelievable opponent for the Undertaker but he more than acquitted himself.
They wrecked the cage and each other before Shane took the biggest leap of all, from the top of the cage. Unfortunately for Shane, Undertaker moved and he was left to crash onto an empty table. From then on there as only one likely result and Undertaker picked up the win before Shane was taken out by the medics.
It will be interesting to see how the storyline behind this one plays out in the light of Shane's loss. Brand split rumours have been rife but could that still happen in the wake of this result?
Andre the Giant Battle Royal,
Guest spots were given to, Shaquille O'Neal (yes, really), Tatanka and Diamond Dallas Page, with the rest of the pack made up of NXT's Baron Corbin, Big Show, R-Truth, Mark Henry, Jack Swagger, Tyler Breeze, Darren Young, Goldust, Heath Slater, Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas, Adam Rose, Fandango, Konnor and Viktor (The Ascension), Damien Sandow and Kane.
It was a suitably entertaining match and Baron Corbin's victory was a satisfying result for NXT's up and coming Uber-Heel.
The Rock turned up as advertised and appeared to be just announcing a record attendance figure - until The Wyatt Family turned up. Beautiful insults were traded between two great talkers before a 'match' with Erick Rowan lasting six seconds before Rock got the pin. A Wyatt family beat down looked inevitable until John Cena made the save.
JBL again proved he doesn't read the news be proclaiming 'we didn't even know he's been cleared' when it had been all over the press. Bray took a spine-buster from Rock presumably signifying his rumoured back injury is not so bad. Cena and Rock showcased their signature moves, hugged it out and left.
Triple H versus Roman Reigns - WWE Championship match
This match was the hardest sell of the evening. WWE cut the crowd noise on the live feed during Roman's entrance to mask the boos. It didn't work. Stephanie McMahon was the star of the match. Brilliant promo work and ringside interference, she even took a spear from Roman Reigns (credit to both of them for that).
It was a good match all things considered even though the fans were refusing to get behind it. In the fans defence it had been a long night and WrestleMania had over-run before the match even started. It was all about trading power moves rather than spectacular stunts and had a suitably slower pace.
Roman was sarcastic, confident and playful with The Game and it suited him well. They showcased each other's strengths as well as you would expect from a veteran like Triple H. The predicted Reigns win was clean, no run-ins and Triple H didn't get to use the sledgehammer, which was a fantastic result for those of us who are sick of disrupted endings to big matches.
Reigns' heel turn seems inevitable now. The crowd looked to be getting to him last night. I still think it's the wrong time but I'm in a tiny minority. The crowd have strayed into being massively unfair to Reigns at this point. It's not his fault the push has come before the fans were ready to accept it and he's a good worker. But as he took a slightly subdued celebration the crowd noise was once again turned down to minimise the boos. Seriously sad end to a mostly excellent show.
Overall WrestleMania was everything it promised to be in terms of scale, spectacle and quality. But, instead of being a culmination of storylines and build up, a lot of the outcomes appeared to be more about setting up for RAW and leading into Payback.
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