What a weekend! Everything about Wrestlemania Weekend this year was fantastic. From Wrestlecon and all of the non-WWE companies putting on shows in New Orleans, to NXT, to of course the big show that holds it all together - Wrestlemania.
Funny thing is, while I've watched countless hours of pro wrestling this weekend, the only thing surfacing to the top constantly was this very thought - Damn! That's a Dope set! Because you know what, it was. It sooooooo was! But that's just the geek in me that loves the creativity and aesthetics part of pro wrestling...or, just about anything event-related.
With all of that said, here are some quick notes on Wrestlemania 34:
- Wrestlemania is so long. Like, so incredibly long. I get that the roster, and really the company, is larger than it ever has been. And there are plenty of talent to get on the show and display. However, four hours is draining, even for me on the couch. Especially after the weekend of other events, some WWE-related. It's so hard to regroup for matches that deserve the attention and fan-investment that it deserves. Unfortunately, it's nearly impossible to keep that level of engagement.
I do believe someday, Wrestlemania will become a two-day event. I get the appeal of a one-day, this-is-it kind of feel, but the opportunity for a second-gate and having a chance to get even more talent displayed just might be too much.
Again, I'm not for it, but I definitely could see it.
- I'm a big Miz guy, always have been. But seriously, what was the dude wearing to the ring?! Regardless, the opening match on the card was tremendous. After all, what else was expected, right? I don't know what it is, but ever since Seth returned as a babyface, I haven't been all that interested in him. We'll see where this goes.
- There was something about the Flair vs. Asuka match that felt so old school to me. In a trend where pro wrestling has less and less submission finishers (they tend to feel more like drama spots until someone breaks, reverses, or gets to a rope), it was truly shocking to see her tap out there. Anyone else also miss the days when you waited for the referee to wave for the bell? Nonetheless, I enjoyed this one a whole lot. Flair is good, like really good. So insanely athletic.
- All of the matches on this card were all built really well. No complaints from this fan. I was into all of them. However, the Fatal 4-Way for the United States Championship is one that just never got out of second gear for me. I'm not sure if it's because it followed Flair v. Asuka, or simply because of the people involved, but it was just...you know, cool. It was there for me - what it was.
By the way, is the United States Championship now less of a title than NXT's North American Championship? I'm joking of course, but does a one hour show really need another title?
- Call me crazy. And really, in today's wrestling fandom, there is always some fan that is ready to "take away your fandom" because you like something that doesn't fit the current internet narrative - regardless, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey was my favorite match of the night.
::::ducks behind laptop screen::::
Really, it was. I had such low expectations for this. The match wasn't exactly Okada vs. Omega, but, I loved EVERYTHING about the story it told. And really, Stephanie McMahon did such an awesome job of driving everything in this program. And the dramatic finish with the stare before apply the arm bar was a nice touch. The quick tap was also refreshing. I really despise long arm bar holds in pro wrestling. Weird, I know. That moment felt legit.
Also, kudos to Kurt freakin' Angle - one of my all-time favorites - for suiting up in this match. He was an after thought, but had some nice moments here and there.
As for Rousey, the athleticism is there. The intensity is there. The WWE simply has to continue to mold her. Something they are better at doing than anyone in the wrestling industry (obviously).
- I'll say this about The Undertaker - I'm a fan (who isn't?) and his entrance is ALWAYS nostalgic. But I'm over watching him in the ring. It hurts the legendary mystique of the character more than anything. Can he still give a good match? I'm pretty sure he can (see: the last match I just discussed). But every time he does, it's a subtle reminder of what he isn't any longer, and that reminder hurts as a fan and overshadows all.
But I love the touch of Cena hearing the news to run back to gear up. However, when you think of Cena "gearing up" it's simply him putting on a pair of jorts and a heavy usage of wristbands.
By the way, Cena's reaction to 'Takers sit up was absolutely gold.
You called down the thunder, now you've got it.— TDE Wrestling (@totaldivaseps) April 9, 2018
➡️ https://t.co/ePt5TzD6sU pic.twitter.com/ls2fGhTZvw
This wouldn't surprise me if this begins a build to next year's Wrestlemania.
Shane McMahon wrestles like a 5 year old mashing all the buttons on a controller.#WrestleMania— Dome Pondering (@DomePondering) April 9, 2018
- If Shane McMahon was say, Shane Smith, would Vince be a fan? Well, that's so easy, it's rather rhetorical. Regardless, I've never been a fan of Shane's style, and this aura of this commissioner beating up his wrestlers and being able to hang with them - ehhhhhh, I never got it.
Good to see Daniel Bryan back. As always, it's fun, but you do worry about the guy's health and if the cautionary approach over the last three years was justified. But again, it's good to see him back. The loss made me think about whether we'll see Zayn and Owens on Raw soon...
- You know how I said earlier about matches not getting the proper engagement it deserved - well that was Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss for me. I wanted to - I did. I really did. I just couldn't.
- Heel Nakamura is intriguing going forward. He's lost so much of his character and mystique since arriving to WWE from New Japan. I'm hoping the new role and an ignited feud (eventual title run) will do him some good.
- I know it was for comedic purposes, and some may point to the whole ::eye roll:: "Braun Strowman beat two guys" thing, but come on! How freakin awesome was the whole "Nicholas" thing? The "We Want Nicholas chants" were funny as well.
- And finally, I'm thoroughly intrigued by where Roman goes from here. For all we know, he could very well win the title tonight on RAW, but that match felt like what Good Ol' JR would call, "an absolute slobberknocker. It was also VERY rare to see a crimson mask like that on Roman in today's WWE. Raw should be interesting.
I admit it. I'm a sucker for happy endings at Wrestlemanias, but I also get they all can't be like that. Nonetheless, this card was absolute packed with fantastic action, and it'll probably go down when it's all said and done - when the fireworks stop going off, and we finally don't have to listen to Kid Rock's Celebrate, or even see that dopey commercial for Paige's new movie...wait scrath that last one - this will go down as one of the best 'Mania's of all-time.
Kudos to EVERYONE involved over at WWE. No one does entertainment like them. I truly believe that.
- Lastly, can we somehow just let "Wrestlemania moments" happen instead of Michael Cole yelling at us every 8 minutes, "NOW THAT'S a Wrestlemania moment". It just kills the whole thing, or is that me? Yeah? No? Am I nitpicking?
Some other quick notes from the weekend:
- I strongly believe Impact Wrestling and Lucha underground have a nice thing going here if they can partner every year. The event was enjoyable, and it does lend credibility to both of their products.
But of course, with IMPACT, there is always drama, right? And it came down that Alberto El Patron was let go this weekend sending IMPACT and their upcoming Redemption event into a giant audible. Truly, I never was a fan of El Patron, and I just never got the hype. But eh, whatevs...
- ROH really has stepped up the on-site production values and Supercard of Honor looked tremendous on screen. It still amazes me to this day how ROH avoids legit criticism from the wrestling community and we only seem to praise it's improvements.
- NXT Takeover was absolutely fantastic. Period. Nothing else to say. I was locked into it all from the opening. As always, I don't watch the weekly shows, but the specials now have this certain cache and credibility of always delivering.
Again, a tremendous weekend. Yet, after it all...
Damn, that's a dope set!