On April 2nd 2017 WrestleMania 33 emanated from the Camping World Stadium… or as WWE chose to call it by it’s former name… the Orlando Citrus Bowl. In front of a completely factual attendance of 75,245 ‘The Ultimate Thrill Ride’ was hosted this year by The New Day (more on them later). We also had a performance from Pitbull (more on that later, sadly) and Tinashe open the main show with a rendition of ‘America The Beautiful’. This show also had some things that didn’t appear that were planned to at one stage; Big Show Vs Shaquille O’Neal was teased in the media for a long time and even saw Show take up a new gym routine and get in life-best shape physique wise… only for Shaq to decide he didn’t fancy it. And once again we were apparently set to have Undertaker Vs John Cena, but Vince completely changed course it seems, and we had to wait many more years until that potential showdown was ever mentioned again…
The show itself, to be honest (and the reason I’m really reviewing this show) is that it is my personal favourite WWE PPV maybe of all time. Because it made me throughout what was admittedly a LOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG show feel every emotion I could feel as a wrestling fan watching; I was furious at Mojo, I marveled at AJ and cringed at Shane, I lost my FREAKING MIND at The Hardys, my heart felt a little fuzzy at Cena and Nikki, I roared when Rollins won, I was devastated and annoyed at Bray, I was blown away by the chaos of Goldberg and Lesnar, and I watched in complete sadness and some tears at the main event and what took place afterwards. At the time watching it live I had endless Pizza, Ice Cream, Energy drinks and snacks to keep me going so I had the time of my life.
On the TWO HOUR pre show we had Neville retaining the Cruserweight Championship against Austin Aries, MOJO FUCKING RAWLEY won the Andre match (don’t even get me started) and Dean Ambrose retained the IC title against Baron Corbin. The Intercontinental Championship match was interesting; basically it sucked for sure but it was going to be on the main card until the internet learnt the Smackdown Women’s Championship match was set for the pre show and people were PISSED! So it turned out WWE swapped these two matches and it kind of showed given Dean and Corbin’s lackluster affair.
Tinashe opened the main show singing ‘America The Beautiful’, this led into a WrestleMania video package for ‘The Ultimate Thrill Ride’ that was then followed by The New Day (our hosts for the evening) coming out with a load of theatrics and their Final Fantasy inspired gear. Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and Corey Graves were on commentary for the Raw side with Tom Phillips, David Otunga and JBL being later introduced to call the Smackdown matches. New Day cut a wacky WrestleMania and New Day hype promo and the crowd were really in to it.
AJ Styles defeated Shane McMahon
The pre-match video focused on AJ wanting appreciation and respect from Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan and Commissioner Shane McMahon. We also saw AJ ram Shane’s head through a ‘glass’ car window and Shane go on to do his signature elbow drop through the announce table before he loses at the PPV. Both Shane and AJ got big reactions coming out too. To begin the match AJ just toyed with Shane and even did his shuffle he does that was pretty funny. David Otunga even commented that “Shane is really wrestling him” which maybe the most accurate thing he’s ever said on WWE TV because I was as equally surprised at what Shane was doing. Shane did all his punches and AJ sold his ass off for him, AJ would later baseball slide dropkick Shane and he went flying over an announce table, they exchanged strikes back in the ring, AJ got the Calf Crusher in but Shane turned it around into a rear-naked choke, and not long after both guys absolutely flew into one another and they both were left laying on the mat as the crowd applauded. There was then a fun spot where AJ did the springboard looking for the 450 splash but Shane caught him on the way down and locked in a Triangle Choke and luckily it looked fairly seamless, but from this Styles lifted Shane up and hit a one-armed Styles Clash for a 2 count. After another exchange of strikes AJ accidentally kicked the referee Mike Chioda down, and after this Styles got a trashcan and trap Shane with it laid in the corner of the ring. Styles then setup for the ‘Coast to Coast’ double dropkick that Shane usually does but as he was in mid-air Shane leaped up and threw the trashcan at Styles. Crowd loved it to be fair. Shane then went for the move himself and he did hit it, the ref came back around but only counted a 2. Shane then cleared an announce table and placed Styles on top of it, and then of course he went for the elbow and Styles moved and McMahon crashed and burned. Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm back in the ring but Shane caught him with a DDT so that was cool looking. Shane then went to the top rope and MISSED a Shooting Star Press as Styles moved out the way, prompting the first “This Is Awesome” chant from the Orlando crowd. Styles then hit a Phenomenal Forearm and got the 1, 2, 3. AJ Styles wins what was a shockingly good match, for Styles to get this good a match out of Shane McMahon is all testament to his incredible talent. Shane himself was… Shane… but he was a tonne better here than any performance I can recall of his since, possibly a lot down to his opponent here.
Kevin Owens defeated Chris Jericho (C) to win the United States Championship
Owens got a big pop coming out before they aired the video package telling how their feud began at the incredible Festival of Friendship and Owen’s turn after which to me is still one of the better Raw segments there’s ever been. Less good things I have to say about Owens dropping the red belt to Goldberg in seconds… Jericho came out with a big entrance with full use of the stage lights and a GIANT ‘List of Jericho’ on the rampway. He also had a light up scarf that unsurprisingly was very well received by the crowd. They basically had a fight early on, Owens dominated with a couple of Cannonballs, and a running senton to get a couple of nearfalls, Jericho briefly got back into it with a dropkick to the outside as Owens tried for a Popup Powerbomb on the apron but Jericho hit backbody drop to counter, Jericho got a nearfall and proceeded to call Owens a ‘”Son of a Bitch” (LEGIT), Owens appeared to have a cut on his head and then Jericho hit a Hurricanrana off the top rope for a nearfall and it looked really impressive. There was later an exchange where Owens went for the Frog Splash off the top but Jericho got his knees up, Jericho went for a Lionsault but Owens got his knees up, then Owens went for a SWANTON BOMB but Jericho got his knees up and both men were down exhausted. That was something else. Jericho got a nearfall, Owens went for the Popup Powerbomb again but Jericho jumped over him and then hit the Lionsault for a 2 count. Owens then got the Walls of Jericho on Y2J, and later Jericho returned the favour, but Owens got to the ropes. Then finally he hit the Popup Powerbomb but only got a nearfall to the delight of the crowd, and then in a brilliant spot Owens went for his finisher again but Jericho turned it into a Codebreaker. Ref counted 1, 2, and then Kevin Owens got ONE FINGER on the bottom rope to stop the pinfall… exceptional stuff! And finally the finish came when both were on the outside and Owens hit the Popup Powerbomb to Jericho on the ring apron, rolled him in the ring and pins him. Kevin Owens wins his 1st (of what to date is now 3) United States Championship. The crowd was kind of flat for the finish, and the match was FINE but I couldn’t help but be underwhelmed by it. I very much recall at the time that the feeling was this should (and legitimately at one stage was going to be) for the UNIVERSAL championship instead of the US title… but… Goldberg so… yeah… It was almost as if both men performed and the crowd treated as if these two guys had MADE Raw for the last 8 months and yet there payoff was to be an afterthought at WrestleMania… *sigh*.
Bayley (C) defeated Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks & Nia Jax in a Fatal 4 Way Elimination Match to retain the Raw Women’s Championship
The pre match video told the story of the epic rivalry over the championship between Charlotte and Sasha and the many historic feats they accomplished during it, and then how Bayley came to Raw to challenge Charlotte and then how Nia Jax came in and tried to power her way to being champion. Bayley with Macho Man inspired entrance gear came out as champion… first… followed by Nia, then Sasha (being driven out whilst stood in the back of a cool-looking car and looking herself like a million dollars) and finally Charlotte. Bayley almost looked scared at the fight ahead of her to retain her title. The story of the first part of the match was basically a Nia Jax power-showcase as she destroyed all 3 women. And to counteract this the 3 women chose to team up on her with Charlotte hitting a Big Boot into a Bayley/Sasha double suplex for a Charlotte nearfall. To finally take her out they had Nia on top of the ring corner about to do a Yokozuna-style drop but Charlotte got up and held her in a Powerbomb position, and Bayley and Sasha joined her and they hit the triple powerbomb, then they all jumped on top of Nia to eliminate her (in probably the clearest example of protective booking you will see). I don’t know how but after seeing this again I’m convinced Nia used to be good and she’s gradually got worst. Charlotte then left the ring and let Bayley and Sasha fight it out, and later Sasha went over the ropes to down Bayley and then Charlotte Flair hit an exquisite looking corkscrew moonsault on both Bayley and Sasha to the outside (I’m unsure how this isn’t more memorable). Eventually as Charlotte and Sasha wrestled Flair took the turnbuckle pad off and later flung Banks into it and then pinned her. It seemed to catch everyone off guard including the commentators. So we were down to Charlotte and Bayley and they had a pretty fun mini-match, Bayley did a back body-drop on Charlotte off the top but Bayley remained caught in the ropes in the corner and then put Charlotte into the turnbuckle, and Bayley hit the big ‘Macho Man’ Elbow drop off the top rope and got the 1, 2, 3 to give Bayley the win! It was all fine and good in parts, but I thought this at the time and it remains my opinion but WHY OH WHY did Bayley win the title on a random Raw episode and NOT here at WrestleMania? It would’ve made this moment a million times more special, no? But yes this was… fine.
They recapped the Hall of Fame ceremony and then introduced this year’s class on the stage: DDP got a pop from the crowd, The Rock N Roll Express got a mini pop, Teddy Long got a mild pop, the family of Rick Rude got somewhat of a pop, Beth Phoenix got a pop, the winner of the Warrior aware Eric Legrand got a pop and then… out came KURT ANGLE who got a tremendous ovation and everyone chanted “YOU SUCK” and it was AWESOME.
We saw Seth Rollins backstage getting his knee tapped up ahead of his unsanctioned grudge match against Triple H later. He got a big cheer.
And then we had the Raw Tag titles Ladder Match… and… well… I’ll explain…
The Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy) defeated Big Cass and his tag team partner, Sheamus & Cesaro and Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows (C) in a Fatal 4 Way Ladder Match to win the Raw Tag Team Championship
So Cass and his partner came out first and did their thing and got cheered, followed out by Sheamus and Cesaro and the defending champions Gallows and Anderson who got a huge cheer. And so the 3 teams are in the ring for what was supposed to be a triple threat, and just before the bell was rung… out come THE NEW DAY… and well… I can’t do this justice in words so (and I’m sure you’ve seen this a million times as have I) … WATCH THIS then continue with my review:
WATCH THIS IMMEDIATELY
Without question one of the greatest moments in WrestleMania history. After this it was really all about the Hardys. Crowd were hot all match, and at the time (I actually said this to my friend Stefan and he was the same) I really didn’t remember much about this match after it had finished other than that it was really good and THE HARDYS ARE BACK!!! It’s a shame for those involved as watching it back for this blog it was actually a really good match but nobody will remember it other than The Hardy’s stuff. They did all their usual moves and it ended with Jeff on top of a ladder and he did the SWANTON off it onto Cesaro who was on a ladder and the ladder snapped in half when Hardy came down and the crowd went mad for the spot. Matt meanwhile grabbed the titles as EVERYONE in the crowd did the DELETE chant and gesture and The Hardys won. This was probably the worst description of a match I’ve ever done but honestly a match that followed one of the best moments in WWE history has to pail into insignificance sadly.
***1/2 (FOR THE MATCH…)
********** (FOR EVERYTHING FROM WHEN THE NEW DAY’S MUSIC HIT TO WHEN THE BELL RUNG)
John Cena & Nikki Bella defeated The Miz & Maryse in a Mixed Tag Team Match
In short; this was the one where Cena and Nikki squashed Miz and Maryse and then got engaged after… But I digress… Pre-match video was great with two very different couples telling us all why the other couple weren’t ‘proper’. I do recall loving the build to this match though and was so impressed how much they got me looking forward to it from where I was at interest level wise when it was first announced. The Miz was EXCEPTIONAL in the build up. But sadly on the go-home show Cena basically told Miz at Mania he was going to destroy him… and then he did just that, so… yeah… anyway… Jerry Lawler came out to guest commentate on the match which I totally forgot happened watching it back again but it was a welcomed upgrade on David Otunga, and from NBC’s The Today Show they had Al Roker do guest ring announcing, and he got booed. Miz and Maryse got cheered coming out, Nikki’s intro got booed and there were some female cheers after but no reaction after that, and Cena got his usual mixed reaction and the ‘John Cena Sucks’ chants as per. Maryse and Nikki started the match but had no contact and Maryse tagged out quickly, the crowd absolutely LOVED The Miz as he basically ran away and taunted Cena, Miz got some good offence in on Cena that got him a couple of nearfalls, he did the YES Kicks before Cena knocked him out the ring and then made the ‘hot tag’ to Nikki Bella. Nikki immediately went after Maryse and pretty much battered her, she then did a Tope to the outside on Miz, and back in the ring Nikki floored Maryse with a big punch. Nikki and Cena then hit 5 Knuckle Shuffles on both Miz and Maryse, then Cena hit Miz with an AA as Nikki hit the Rack Attack on Maryse at the same time, then they both got the pins. Miz and Maryse were absolutely BURIED here. Then of course Cena and Nikki did the whole proposal thing after, which was a really nice moment sure but in hindsight it does make you sad given they’ve since split. The match sucked, but the moment after was legitimately touching I have to admit.
Now… THIS was more like it…
Seth Rollins defeated Triple H with Stephanie McMahon in an Unsanctioned Match
They put on an AWESOME Video package that really told how good a story these two had built going in. Triple H and Stephanie rode a giant trike to the ring accompanied by Police on Motorbikes, Rollins came out with a torch with flames at the top (kind of like the Olympic Torch) and he put it to the ground at the top of the ramp and then the rampway changed to flames to give off the impression Rollins was indeed about to ‘Burn It Down’. I liked it, it looked cool. Match began with a proper brawl as expected, they brawled to the outside with Rollins getting the upper hand before eventually Triple H targeted Rollins’ injured knee followed by a spike DDT onto an announce table. Triple H then hit Rollins’ knee twice with a steel chair, and then further attacked the knee with various strikes and holds, and eventually Rollins and Triple H were perched on the top rope and Seth went for a Sunset Flip Powerbomb but his knee buckled on the way down (this was a callback to how Rollins first hurt his knee IRL against Kane on a European tour with the exact same spot, commentary referred to this too). Triple H laughed at Rollins’ misfortune and proceeded to strike him, but Rollins fought enough to set up a Bucklebomb only for his knee to give way as he carried Triple H across the ring. Triple H went for a Pedigree and then Seth went for a Pedigree of his own before eventually transitioning into a Bucklebomb which the crowd enjoyed, Rollins though continued to sell his knee. Rollins willed himself up and managed to knock Triple H to the outside, he then did a splash to the outside from the ringPOST but hurt his knee again on the way down but he did though throw Triple H into the ringpost. Rollins then got a couple of steel chairs and a table from under the ring before setting the table up ringside, Rollins then hit a frog splash off the top rope onto Triple H’s back and got a 2 count. Hunter then hit Rollins’ knee and then got a Spinebuster for a 2 count, and then he followed that up by trapping Rollins’ knee in a chair and attacking it, and then remarkably Triple H went to the top rope and unsurprisingly it didn’t end well as Rollins then launched a chair at him, and then he did his Superplex into the Falcon Arrow spot for a nearfall. Rollins made his way to the top again but Stephanie pulled him down and Triple H capitalized with a type of Figure 4 leg lock, Rollins countered into a crossface type (Gargano Escape) but Triple H kicked at his knee to break the hold, Hunter then threw a chair at Rollins before getting a submission hold in on the outside to again go at the knee with Rollins grabbing at anything he could to try and escape. In doing so Seth uncovered Triple H’s signature Sledgehammer, this led to Hunter breaking the hold to grab the weapon but Rollins striked him to make him drop it, they exchanged striking offences before Rollins again knocked Triple H down to make him drop the Sledgehammer, and now ROLLINS grabbed the Sledgehammer! It was though Stephanie who grabbed it from Rollins and off the distraction HHH hit a Pedigree but only got a 2 count! After both were on the top rope but Rollins knocked Triple H down with a backbody drop, and then hit an awesome looking Phoenix Splash for a nearfall that again hurt his knee. Both men then each traded 2 Pedigree attempts but Rollins’ injured knee stopped him from hitting the move in the end (I really liked this exchange). Stephanie then stood on the apron and held Rollins against the ring ropes for Triple H to attack him, Triple H charged at Seth but Rollins moved out the way and Triple H almost collided with Stephanie… he did though turn around into a superkick from Seth and this sent Hunter into Stephanie, knocking her off the apron and through the Table that Rollins had earlier set up. The crowd of course loved the fact Stephanie McMahon took a big bump as Triple H looked on in horror, he then turned around right into a Pedigree from Rollins who then pinned him 1, 2, 3. I really really liked this match. It slowed in places but it made sense for the story they were telling, and as good as Rollins is he had to work within himself so he could sell the knee. But I liked this match a lot and thought it was the best match on the show at the time, and watching back 3 years later I’m of the same opinion.
Pitbull did a mini-concert…
Now wish me luck everybody because I know what match is next…
Randy Orton defeated Bray Wyatt (C) to win the WWE Championship
This was the one where all the weird graphics of bugs and stuff appeared as part of Bray Wyatt’s “powers” and then Randy beat him anyway… They had… a match… and at one stage Bray did his Spider Walk thing and then suddenly we cut to an aerial shot of the ring as maggots/footage of maggots appeared on the ring canvas and everyone was confused… then the lights came back on and the match carried on… then later Bray did it again and this time we had worms… then he did it a 3rd time and cockroaches appeared… then straight after Bray took his time with Randy and was smiling and then Orton hit the RKO and pinned him and won the title. You’ll note I haven’t said much about the wrestling, that’s because A. it kinda sucked and the wrestling bits kind of just plodded along and then B. the graphics stuff REALLY overshadowed the match and even Tom Phillips on commentary noted “70,000 plus people have no idea what to make of this” … and he was not wrong. This was an ALL TIME terrible WWE Championship/WrestleMania/ANY WWE match fuck up.
I REALLY needed a pick me up after that. WWE did not let me down…
Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman defeated Goldberg (C) to win the Universal Championship
The video package shown was incredible. It was narrated by Heyman so that was a big plus right away, and it just reminded me how perfectly booked Goldberg’s entire 2016-17 run was. Lesnar as the challenger came out first and got a big ovation (with his WrestleMania attire… his trusty black beanie hat…), Goldberg followed with his OG entrance and the chants echoing around the Citrus Bowl. Heyman got a huge reaction doing his introduction for Lesnar and it became clear very quickly that although Goldberg was over this was definitely a pro-Lesnar crowd. So this is exactly what happened move-for-move in the match: the bell rung, Lesnar hit Goldberg with 3 German Suplexes, Lesnar roared, the camera didn’t pick up the oncoming Goldberg though who hit a big Spear, then he hit a 2nd Spear but Lesnar rolled to the outside, then Goldberg speared Lesnar through the barricade, Goldberg hit Brock with a knee to the stomach then rolled him back into the ring, Goldberg tried for the Jackhammer, Lesnar maneuvered into a possible F5, but Goldberg got out of it and hit another Spear, Goldberg hit a Jackhammer, the referee counted 1 then 2 but Lesnar then kicked out as the crowd went wild and loudly did the YES chants, Goldberg set for another Spear but Lesnar JUMPED OVER GOLDBERG and Goldberg went into the turnbuckle, then Lesnar hit SEVEN German Suplexes as the crowd went wild for the 10th, Lesnar roared, the he hit the F5, and then he covered Goldberg and got the pin. The crowd went wild for the finish and Brock Lesnar is the Universal Champion. The match went 4 minutes and 45 seconds AND IT WAS FUCKING BRILLIANT! EXACTLY what it should have been, short and action-packed, it was big moves ONLY and it was just GREAT! It was the pick-up we ALL need after Bray Vs Randy. Do not see my rating as a sign this match was anything short of exceptional, bare in mind this match went less than 5 minutes and it managed to get a rating even this high which is exceptional. If wrestling matches were usually around 5 minutes this would be 5 stars easily. You will never see a sub-5 minute match as good as this!
Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss (C), Becky Lynch, Mickie James, Carmella with her ‘thing’ and Natalya in a 6 Pack Challenge to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship
This was the one where the women and the internet complained about this match being on the pre show, so they moved it and put it in the death-spot between the two biggest matches on the show, and then the match sucked anyway… Bliss as champion came out first to a decent pop, Becky got a minor reaction (wow how times have changed), Mickie James then Carmella and then Natalya got next to no reaction, before finally hometown girl Naomi came out with her cool af entrance to a big pop. Naomi had vacated the title in February of this year due to injury having only just won it, but returned on the go-home show for WrestleMania… Why she couldn’t have just comeback at Mania as a surprise I don’t know… Anyway if I had to describe the match in one word it would be as a ‘clusterfuck’. It was a proper nothing match and I didn’t note anything that was close to a memorable spot. I did note about the… questionable… sets of attires and make up of some of the women (sorry Becky I’m looking at you) (and before the social justice warriors come for me I asked an actual girl if my comments were warranted and she agreed, then a friend basically concurred too so yeah…) ANYWAY Naomi, who was absent from the action basically the entire match, got involved and got the only really-audible crowd reaction of the match because otherwise this crowd was DEAD. Naomi tapped out Alexa to regain her title and the crowd were happy. A terrible spot to be in sure but this match sucked. Sorry.
The New Day came back out and stood on the ramp, sporting impeccable suits with tidy Blue Jackets. They announced the completely factual WrestleMania attendance as a stadium record of 75,245.
And then it was time for the WrestleMania 33 main event…
Roman Reigns defeated The Undertaker in a No Holds Barred Match
They aired a cool video for the match before JIM ROSS came out to join Michael Cole and JBL on commentary. Ross got a huge ovation just weeks after the passing of his wife Jan. She had tragically died in a motorcycle accident when she was crashed into. I was actually at a WCPW show the day after the tragedy in which Jim was scheduled to commentate at, of course he didn’t make the show. So I personally was very touched to see him come out here. It really was pretty emotional and special to see him here just weeks later about to call the main event of WrestleMania. It was later announced in the days following the show that JR had re-joined the WWE (and is I write this his contract and time with the company is once again coming to an end). Roman and Taker got the exact reactions that were expected from the crowd; Roman was very very heavily booed, and Taker was welcomed like he was a God as he of course took 5 hours to get to the ring. Taker started the match dominant and repeatedly told Roman this was still ‘his yard’, Roman briefly got back into it but Undertaker came back with the Snake Eyes, Big Boot, Leg Drop trifecta to get a 2 count, and he then set up for the Chokeslam but Roman rolled to the outside, only later to run into a huge Undertaker punch. The Phenom then cleared an announce table and then Chokeslammed Reigns onto it, he then cleared the other announce table and teased a Tombstone but Roman came flying up and Speared Taker through the announce table which was a hell of a spot to be fair to them. Roman made his way back in to the ring and was heavily booed, until The Undertaker did his sit up to a big pop. Back in the ring Roman was hitting Taker with Punches whilst on the top rope only for Taker then to lift him up and hit a Last Ride (a clunky looking one but still). Not long after Taker got a steel chair he hit Reigns with it multiple times before trying a Chokeslam again but again to a chorus of boos Roman rolled to the outside. Reigns back in the ring hit 2 Superman Punches only for Taker to each time bounce off the ropes and then finally hit the Chokeslam on Roman onto the steel chair, but Roman kicked out at 2. Taker did his slit of the throat gesture and then hit a Tombstone Piledriver; 1, 2, Roman kicked out! Nobody could believe it and the crowd booed a lot. There was then a really interesting moment; Undertaker tried to lift Roman up for another Tombstone but then Reigns reversed it and looked to be setting for a Tombstone of his own but Taker then fell and looked to not be able to pull himself up to get in position for Roman to hit the move. This happened a couple of times and it was obviously a botch, but I thought with the story they were telling (that Taker was the old lion and Roman was physically ahead of him) it was kind of effective. Anyway Roman eventually decided they weren’t going to be able to do the move so he punched Taker away then hit a big Superman Punch for a nearfall. Reigns then did his big “oooooooo,aaaaaaaaaaa” and then hit a giant Spear… 1, 2, and then Taker locked in the Hell’s Gate submission! Crowd went wild until Roman got to the ropes and both men were down exhausted. Undertaker crawled over to try and grab the steel chair but Roman stood on the chair in what I thought, again, was a good storytelling moment. Reigns then grabbed the chair and absolutely battered Taker with a load of chair shots, Undertaker somehow made his way to his feet with the support of the ropes as the crowd chanted for him, but he turned around into a Spear… but he KICKED OUT at 2! Crowd cheered this of course. Roman did the “ooooo,aaaa” again, hit another Spear, and again Taker kicked out and again the crowd were happy and did the YES chants. Roman Reigns continually showed a mixture of disbelief yet a reluctance to have to dish out even more punishment to the older warrior across from him. Undertaker tried to do his sit-up spot but couldn’t manage it, Roman in fact told Taker to stay down but instead The Deadman talked some trash to Reigns, so in-turn Roman ran between the ropes a few times to build his momentum and hit a huge Spear once again… 1, 2, 3! Roman got the win. The crowd booed this A LOT of course and carried on as his music played as Taker lay flat out in the ring still. Reigns looked almost sad he had to do that to Taker so sold it really well, he raised his arms in the air as fireworks went off in the big celebration moment for him, and everyone booed.
After Roman made his way to the back the camera panned back to The Undertaker who was still laying flat in the ring. The crowd chanted ‘Thank You Taker’ and applauded him as he just about managed to sit up as he looked absolutely worn out. They then showed highlights of the match before we returned to the ring to see Undertaker in his full entrance gear and all the lights darkened with Taker’s music playing. The crowd continued to give him an amazing reception as he soaked it in and then twice went to leave the ring before returning to the middle, after the 2nd time was when he started to make us all cry. He proceeded to take off his gloves, his coat and then his hat and lay them in the middle of the ring. He made his way out of the ring, kissed his wife Michelle McCool at ringside and made his way up the ramp. People in the audience were crying, and I don’t think I speak for myself when I say I think most people watching on TV were crying too. As smoke filled the rampway Taker turned around to take one last look at the crowd and even had a tear in his eye, he then ceremonially raised his right arm in the air and lightning struck. And then slowly Taker descended underneath the rampway until he was completely out of sight. Another gong played, then the lights in the arena all went off, then another gong, and then the show went off the air. The final shot of WrestleMania 33 was an all blacked out arena where Taker seemed to have gone for what we all assumed was the last time, or at least the grand presentation of what happened made you think so. It was a pretty stunning visual. It did end what was an incredibly eventful and action-packed show on a very sad note but storytelling wise it was something else. I tweeted out the next day “Anyone else wake up this morning & feel like a part of their childhood had died? #ThankYouTaker #Wrestlemania” as #ThankYouTaker trended for almost a full 24 hours afterwards.
So yes I do not speak for myself when I say this was a universally loved show after it had happened. An AWESOME WrestleMania and one of the best for well over a decade at least. Other than it being way too long (OH THE IRONY HEADING IN TO MANIA 35 COMPLAINING A 5 HOUR MAIN SHOW IS TOO LONG… LOL) it was start-to-finish a real rollercoaster ride… you could say it really was “The Ultimate Thrill Ride”… Even if most of the ‘rasslin wasn’t great, as a show it was incredible. You couldn’t come away from this show as a fan and say you weren’t massively touched emotionally. I must also commend the stage of the show which with the rollercoaster theme looked awesome and Jim Ross’ performance calling the main event. Negatives of course are Bray’s PowerPoint projections which were beyond belief embarrassing as a huge Bray Wyatt fan I was at the time, and also how wasted an opportunity it was at the time not to turn Roman heel off the back of his main event win and “retiring” of the most universally adored superstar in WWE history, particularly when he cut his famous “THIS IS MY YARD NOW” promo the next night on Raw. But as WWE shows go, and we all love to give them stick, this show at the time I thought was incredible. And watching it back three years later I felt the same. A FANTASTIC PPV. Hats off to WWE because this was definitely a show I will never ever forget.