Written by: JR
Cruiserweight Title: Neville vs Austin Aries
A great opener and excellent heel work from Neville. Ever since Neville’s heel turn, I’ve been enjoying his vicious, grounded offense. Probably one of the best character transformations of this year. Seeing Neville exploit Aries’ previous eye injury out of desperation at the end of the match opens up the door for a rematch.
Andre The Giant Battle Royal
Winner: Mojo Rawley
A decent battle royal. Strangely Big Show and Braun Strowman both were eliminated early. Also Rob Gronkowski had a nice Wrestlemania moment and took down Jinder Mahal to help his friend Mojo Rawley. Seeing American Alpha and The Usos being treated like random wrestlers didn’t sit well with me. Giving the two teams a match on the show would have been a great opportunity for the SD Tag Team Division. The most puzzling part of the whole Battle Royal was having Mojo Rawley win it. It seems like WWE management has big plans for Mojo but I don’t see a lot of star potential in him.
Intercontinental Title: Dean Ambrose defeats Baron Corbin
Ambrose kicked out of the Deep 6 but Corbin is done after one Dirty Deeds? Questionable booking for this match. Also Dean Ambrose really is a sloppy worker in the ring. Corbin still is relatively new in the wrestling scene but he held his own pretty well. Overall this match wasn’t anything special. Initially I was disappointed about having another title match on the preshow but after this underwhelming display, I didn’t feel so bad about the card decision. Hopefully Ambrose won’t be holding onto the title for much longer.
New Day Opening Segment
AJ Styles vs Shane McMahon
Winner: AJ Styles
A ref bump gave both competitors the opportunity to bend the rules. It was a good match that showed Shane pulling out some nice moves and submissions. Although it was kind of funny seeing Shane suddenly become some sort of submission expert. Surprisingly the crowd didn’t completely turn on Shane. We’ll see if this remains true on the post-Wrestlemania Smackdown episode this week.
US Championship: Kevin Owens vs Chris Jericho
Winner: Kevin Owens
A great competitive match with good storytelling and unique counters. Jericho is supposed to be taking time off so I’m looking forward to Owens’ US Title reign and who his next opponents will be. It will most likely be booked better than his Universal Title run. I just hope that he doesn’t feud with Sami Zayn AGAIN.
Raw Women’s Championship Elimination Match: Bayley vs Charlotte vs Sasha Banks vs Nia Jax
Elimination order: Nia Jax, Sasha, Charlotte
I was glad to see Bayley win. Nia had a dominant performance early in the match and the other 3 women used the smart strategy of working together to eliminate her first. Also Bayley gave a great homage to Randy Savage with her ring attire and her elbow drop. The match overall was underwhelming compared to previous Raw women’s matches. Adding more competitors to the match and making it an elimination match affected the quality and pacing of the match.
Tag Team Championship Ladder Match: Cesaro & Sheamus vs Enzo & Cass vs Gallows & Anderson vs Hardy Boyz
Winners: Hardy Boyz
The return of the Hardy Boyz gave a major boost to the quality of the match. On top of that, the match itself was pretty entertaining and all the teams had a nice showing.
John Cena & Nikki Bella vs Miz & Maryse
Winners: Cena & Nikki Bella
A decent fun match. Of course it ended with Cena proposing to Nikki and it was a nice Wrestlemania moment. Even though the match was predictable it served its purpose. As many people expected, the crowd was very pro-Miz.
Triple H vs Seth Rollins
Winner: Seth Rollins
This match ran WAY too long. Even worse, this match killed the crowd and set the tone for the rest of the show. The matches after this one were either average or flat out bad. Seth was supposed to sell his knee injury but was inconsistent with his selling. The match jumped the shark when Seth did his Superplex into Falcon Arrow sequence with no hesitation. I always disliked that sequence because of the no selling of the Superplex effects and I especially disliked it tonight because someone selling a knee injury wouldn’t even think of trying that move. Stephanie McMahon was involved in another spot where she “accidentally” got her comeuppance by inadvertently being knocked off the apron through a table by Triple H. I truly hope that Rollins is no longer involved in anymore Authority storylines but sadly this most likely is only the beginning.
WWE Championship: Bray Wyatt vs Randy Orton
During the entrances Randy Orton got an awkwardly silent reaction from the crowd. I should add that this was after a Flo Rida and Pitbull performance which may have played a role in the subdued crowd temperament. During the match we saw some unusual clips of maggots and other disgusting creatures being projected on the ring. I understand that the purpose of those clips was to play mind games with Orton and “haunt” him for what he did to Sister Abigail. But there’s just one problem: Bray STILL lost. I could understand if those clips gave a psychological advantage to Bray but they played little to no role in the outcome of the match. On top of that, the match was very average. You couple an average match with some ridiculous almost comical special effects for a WWE Championship match and you get a possible Botchamania meme. Orton really needs to join Cena in the part-time club because Orton has been uninspiring since his return.
Universal Title: Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar
Winner: Brock Lesnar
It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be but at the same time it wasn’t particularly good. The match was a tad bit under 5 minutes but they packed in some solid action within that short time period.
Smackdown Women’s Title 6 Pack Challenge: Alexa Bliss vs Natalya vs Becky Lynch vs Mickie James vs Carmella vs Naomi
A relatively short match that had some fun spots and was paced pretty well. I’m glad to see Naomi win back the Women’s Title and have her Wrestlemania moment.
Roman Reigns vs The Undertaker
Winner: Roman Reigns
This was Undertaker’s final match and it showed. Undertaker is past his prime and has been for many years. He should have retired after losing The Streak because he hasn’t had any memorable matches since that moment. Roman tried his hardest but could only do so much. Having Roman be the guy who officially retired The Undertaker is going to further vilify his character and drive him even further away from being a face. Adding Jim Ross to commentary for this match was a nice touch to Undertaker’s final match.
Overall grade for the show: C
Much better than last year’s show and we got some amazing moments like the return of the Hardy Boyz, Naomi winning the Women’s Title in front of her home crowd, and the emotional final match of The Undertaker. The show went downhill around the time of the Rollins-Triple H match. The show would have benefited from a much shorter preshow (the preshow was 2 hours). Another problem during the show was the length of the entrance ramp. The ramp was 85 yards. 85!! That made the entrances much longer and made an already long PPV even longer. My recommendations for matches to watch are the Cruiserweight Match, Styles vs McMahon, Jericho vs Owens for the US Title, and the Tag Team Titles match.