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WWE Wrestlemania XL Review: "I absolutely loved this Wrestlemania"


It's easy to get caught up and become a prisoner of the moment. Especially in today's world where the latest moment is ostracized, super-analyzed, and hyperbolized - it's very much the clickbait, social media, microwave society we live in. 

Yet, even after acknowledging that (as well as my Tribal Chief, of course), I still come to this feeling that Wrestlemania XL is one of the best Wrestlemania's, ever. 

Yes, ever! 

I don't need Triple H's metrics and benchmarks to influence me. No, no, no! In terms of hype, storylines, payoffs, match quality, and just overall fun - this entire weekend was amazing. 

I'm slightly skewed in my preference as well. This was my son's first Wrestlemania as a pro wrestling fan. Having him at my side cheering on his favorites, getting caught up in the drama, and even crying at the end of the night because his Tribal Chief lost to "that no good Cody" added to the overall appreciation of the event. 

So yeah, I have some bias. Wrestlemania 17 is still special to me, and will always stick out to me. And so do others along the way for various reasons. But again, XL, from top to bottom, is hard to beat. 

Nevertheless, here are some quick thoughts on Wrestlemania XL: 

- Every year the set design is a thing. It's become it's own thing. And quite frankly, we're all spoiled as wrestling fans. The WWE doesn't miss (ever) with production, even when the product wasn't so hot in years past. Just look around entertainment, and it's often easy to see not only WWE's influence but also why they are an industry leader in this space. 

- I sat through Wrestlemania 29 at MetLife Stadium - it was 50 degrees and even rained during the event. I completely understand how the weather can tamper with your enthusiasm. Still though, kudos to those who stuck it out in the cold on Saturday, and those who made up for it on Sunday. I have a feeling it'll be awhile before we get another outdoor Wrestlemania in the Northeast. 

- Some cities are just wrestling towns. I know we all say it and it is cliche at this point - but whenever there is a wrestling event in those specific cities, it just emphasizes it. 

Also, it makes you wonder why hasn't another independent company risen from the ashes in some of these hotbeds like Philadelphia? That's another topic for another day...

- Both nights of opening songs were fantastic. Coco Jones and War and Treaty were terrific. 

WRESTLEMANIA SATURDAY

RHEA RIPLEY VS. BECKY LYNCH

- I'm a huge fan of Rhea Ripley - I mean, who isn't, right? 

- One of my favorite things about both of these women is the absolute raw emotion from them as they walked the aisle for the match. Those small things really do set the tone with me that this weekend was different for the talent. I love that emotion. 

- Kudos to Becky on wrestling with strep throat - that's tough. As a dad, I can't even imagine what this week must have been for her with a child, and gearing up to perform at Wrestlemania. Tough week - and she kicked ass. 

- I never once thought Becky was winning this one. While I loved the matchup, the positioning of Becky in this one in the feud was awkward. With the new book, as the mother, and the storyline humanizing her, it was the right move, but it never landed. I wonder if going full "The Man" would have been a more intriguing outlook. Sometimes the weird outfits that lean towards the "Big Time Becks" character don't hit with me. Just my opinion. 

Rhea keeps rolling along. However, I'm curious where Becky Lynch moves on to - if she does. I wouldn't mind running this one back at Backlash if Becky sticks around. 

SIX-PACK TAG TEAM LADDER MATCH

- We all expected a car crash and that was exactly what this was - and it was fun! 

- Some really interesting results with "A-Town Down Under" and Awesome Truth winning a set piece of tag team championships...not sure what to make of it other than it was highly unpredictable. 

- The tag team championships and the "silver dollar" appearance need to go. With everything else in the "WWE" and "World Heavyweight Champion" mode, I wonder if we see both sets of tag team champions rebranded as such. I think it's a good idea. We'll see...

- Truth's hot tag and pin legit made me laugh out loud. And my five-year-old son understood the comedy and did the same. Truth is an absolute treasure. He also deserved that moment. 

REY MYSTERIO & ANDRADE VS. SANTOS ESCOBAR AND "DIRTY" DOMINIK MYSTERIO

- This one ultimately felt like an addition I could've done without, but it didn't disappoint. 

- Rey Mysterio continues to be ageless...and timeless. 

- I'm still struggling to care about Andrade, yet, I'm curious to see how they move Santos Escobar forward. I feel like Triple H is determined to create a mega-superstar that is not from America. 

- Pro Wrestling always attracts football players...didn't mind that here at all. 

JEY USO VS. JIMMY USO

- So can we talk about how the Uso brother storyline has some major plotholes within it? Because it does.

- While the match was not Bret vs. Owen at Wrestlemania X, it did lean on the heavy storytelling. I could've done without the constant superkicks (The Young Bucks likely popped watching this). However, I really loved the moment of Jimmy asking for forgiveness, and instantly using it to his advantage. 

It didn't feel like the end, so I'm okay with that. However, there was just something else missing for me from this one. 

JADE CARGILL, BIANCA BELAIR, & NOAMI VS. DAMAGE CTRL

- Jade, Bianca, and Naomi together will instantly spark a generation of black women in pro wrestling in the coming years. Nothing against the Jazzs, Jacquelines Awesome Kongs and/or other amazing black women wrestlers of the past, but that tag match was black excellence in a powerful way. 

- To this day, I don't understand the purpose of Damage CTRL. More on that later in regards to Bayley vs. Iyo Sky. However, there's no denying the talent that is there. 

SAMI ZAYN VS. GUNTHER

- This was absolutely awesome. More proof that storytelling wins in this entertainment art form.

- As expected, this was a banger. 

- Coming out of this, I'm hoping for a few things: 1) A Chad Gable heel turn that quickly gives him the IC championship and a feud that runs to Summerslam - with Zayn capturing it back, of course; 2) Gunther finally moves on and into the World Heavyweight Championship scene; and, 3) a new found love for hearing an announcer say "NEWWWWWWW INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION. 

I loved hearing Howard Finkel say that as a kid. Now, we've got this generation's equal in Samantha Irvin.

She's amazing.  

THE BLOODLINE VS. CODY RHODES & SETH 'FREAKIN' ROLLINS

- This was one was your purest old-school WWF main event - starting off slow and steady. And then ultimately picking up and breaking down into pure chaos. 

- It was obvious that The Rock wasn't the same athlete that he once was, but he definitely laced them up, looked the part, and had a new aura to his in-ring presence. 

Carrying around the "People's Champion" Championship (that's hard to say, read, and type) has to come back into play right? 

- Seth remains the super workhorse of the WWE

- The 44-minute runtime was absolutely perfect for this as it did EXACTLY what it should have done - set up night two and stack the deck against Cody Rhodes. 

Michael Cole's call to close the show, along with Rhodes' dismayed look was absolutely perfect. We get carried away with attributing everything to "story" in the WWE's product, but really, this was just that - cinema. Well done. 

WRESTLEMANIA SUNDAY

DREW MCINTYRE VS. SETH 'FREAKIN' ROLLINS

- I hope Seth Rollins earned a big payday for 'Mania. Nothing like closing the show in frigid weather after 44 minutes, and then turning around and opening the show the next night in another hot angle. 

- I'll continue to say it - I don't understand the Seth Rollins character, but boy is it extraordinary at times. 

- Drew McIntyre deserved this moment, even though it was short-lived. 

- While Damian Priest cashing in felt predictable, it still was all sorts of cool. 

- I love the pissed-off Drew McIntyre gimmick - it's absolutely awesome. 

- McIntyre vs. CM Punk can headline any Premium Live Event for the rest of the year, right now. I can only imagine it will continue to simmer until possibly (?) Summerslam with Punk's clearance. 

- The Priest reign is sure to be fun, unique, and most of all, fresh. Very much looking forward to it. 

THE PRIDE vs. THE FINAL TESTAMENT

- I didn't expect to enjoy this one as much as I ended up doing, but this was a nice six-man coming off what was a banger of an opener to the show.

- "The Pride" feels like an awkward name, yet the group feels so right together. However, something is off - I'm not sure what it is. The group can be so money.

- I've never been a huge Karian Kross guy, and I still think AOP is carrying this whole "Final Testament" faction. Maybe that's just me. Nonetheless, this was enjoyable. 

I'm curious to see where both sides move on after this weekend. 


LA KNIGHT VS. AJ STYLES

- I'll forever be an AJ Styles guy - he's in my all-time top five - so seeing him get back to this stage is a treat for me. 

A small observation, and possibly pointless as well, but it's obvious LA Knight designs his wrestling boots after his favorite pairs of Jordans. However, these boots modeled after Jordan 12s are rough... big-time bootleg feel. 

- I never got into their feud, but AJ Styles doesn't miss - no matter who he is in the ring with. 


LOGAN PAUL VS. KEVIN OWENS VS. RANDY ORTON

- Nothing makes me feel older than Logan Paul matches where streamers, YouTubers, or popular people on the internet - whatever - are appearing in the Prime mascot suit. I had no idea who KSI was, and I had no idea who this dude was. All I know is that anyone getting hit in a Prime bottle mascot suit is good television. 

- So, Logan Paul is pretty good at this pro wrestling thing, huh? 

BAYLEY VS. IYO SKY

- Bayley's revenge against Damage CTRL felt like something was missing. For me, it just feels like the foundation piece of why Damage CTRL existed in the first place, and it never being explained, hurts the towering storyline. Just me...

- While Iyo Sky could've used some more heat, other than being the champion in the heel faction, when the bell rings, these two made up for some of the petty stuff. 

Iyo Sky can go, and this one turned into a gem that I did not see coming. 

- So happy for Bayley - truly deserved. 

CODY RHODES VS. ROMAN REIGNS

- Roman Reigns main eventing two nights really is wild. 

- We all expected the chaos to unfold, it was just a matter of when, who, and if we would still have our collective minds after it all ended. 

- While it played out like I predicted, sans Stone Cold Steve Austin, with an Undertaker fill-in, all of it was awesome. The 'Taker appearance felt like a stretch in a story that has been very tight as it unfolded, but eh...

The gong was still effing cool. 

- I absolutely LOVED the moment where Reigns took his chair shot to the back of Seth instead of going after Cody Rhodes and preserving the title. That moment was so rich, and I have to imagine setting up Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins whenever the WWE wants to get both men back in the fold. 

But THE moment was following the victorious three count when an emotional Samantha Irving broke up trying to announce Cody Rhodes as the new Undisputed Champion. 

It added to the moment that felt like a truly triumphant moment to a fabulous story that has captured us all. 

Cody finally did it. 

Most importantly, Roman Reigns closed a chapter on a four-year run that will surely be evaluated, analyzed, and dissected as one of the greatest in pro wrestling history. From the pandemic to the new wrestling boom - one man carried the belt. 

Super special stuff. 

---

All in all - again, I absolutely loved this Wrestlemania. 

I could not be happier that it was the first my son was able to experience. 

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Photos courtesy of wwe.om

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