WWE WrestleMania 34 Review
In the world of sports entertainment, there is one event so grand that simply uttering its name can give you goosebumps. And that event is none other than WrestleMania.
This past Sunday saw the 34th annual WrestleMania take place from New Orleans, Louisiana, and what an even it was. Packed to the rafters, the Mercedes-Benz Superdome saw an unforgettable night of action from some of WWE's finest in-ring performers.
But did the event live up to expectations? Or did it all fall flat on the Grandest Stage of Them All? Here is our review of WrestleMania 34.
(Note: The grading criteria is based on match quality, storytelling and our overall enjoyment of each bout).
The Miz vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Bálor (Intercontinental Championship)
Result: Seth Rollins defeated The Miz and Finn Bálor to win the Intercontinental Championship.
The show kicked off with the Intercontinental Championship being defended in a Triple Threat match between three of WWE's most promising young talent. The crafty veteran, The Miz, defended his title against Seth Rollins and Finn Bálor in a match that can only be described as heart-racing. From the opening roll-ups, it was clear that we were in for a fast-paced, non-stop encounter — and that's exactly what we got.
Bálor took flight early, launching himself over the top rope onto his opponents in the first of the evening's many jaw-dropping moments. And it didn't take Seth Rollins long to respond, hitting both Bálor and Miz with his own suicide-dives. On that note, while Bálor and Rollins were definitely the two most athletically-gifted men in the match, The Miz thoroughly held his own throughout and once again proved that he is worthy of such a high-profile match at the Showcase of the Immortals.
In the end, it was Seth Rollins who emerged victorious after capitalising on Bálor's momentum. After Finn hit the Coup de Grâce on a stunned Miz, Rollins appeared from nowhere, delivering a Stomp to the Irishman onto the Miz's body. He then hyped up the crowd with a Shawn Michaels-like "tuning up of the band" before delivering a Stomp to The Miz for the three-count, becoming the new Intercontinental Champion.
This match was nothing short of spectacular! A thrilling way to open the show, highlighting the promising future for the WWE, and it made it hard for us to actually figure out who we wanted to win. Miz, Bálor and Rollins made some magic happen, and they started WrestleMania off on such a high note, it made us wonder if the rest of the show could live up to this epic opener.
Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka (SmackDown Women's Championship)
Result: Charlotte Flair defeated Asuka to retain the SmackDown Women's Championship.
The second encounter of the evening saw SmackDown Women's Champion, Charlotte Flair, defend her title against the winner of the first ever female Royal Rumble match, Asuka. The match was even more monumental because Asuka was putting her two-year-long undefeated streak on the line.
While the ladies had a tough act to follow, that didn't stop them from creating a masterpiece of their own. In a match that saw counters, reversals and some brutal turnbuckle action, these two unstoppable forces collided in an unforgettable match.
In the end, it turned out that SmackDown's Charlotte was indeed ready for Asuka. But the most impressive thing was that she forced the Empress of Tomorrow to tap out to the Figure-Eight Leglock. In the same arena that saw The Undertaker's legendary 21-0 WrestleMania Streak come to an end four years ago, Asuka's streak came to an end at the hands of Charlotte. But it's okay, because Asuka will lead the female division into a new era, but she needed the streak to end before she could do that. Like The Undertaker, Asuka is so much more than just the undefeated streak, and now she can progress onto even greater things.
With the opener, and this match, this may have been the strongest first hour of WrestleMania in history. This was, without a doubt, another classic in this incredible era of the women's revolution. The Empress may have bowed down to the Queen, but both ladies will pave the way for any future female competitors. That was a main even-worthy match.
Randy Orton vs. Rusev vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Bobby Roode (United States Championship)
Result: Jinder Mahal defeated Randy Orton, Rusev and Bobby Roode to win the U.S. Championship.
In the third match of the evening, WWE veteran Randy Orton defended his United States Championship in a Fatal 4-Way match against Rusev, Jinder Mahal and Bobby Roode. As you can expect with such a populated match, there was an abundance of entertaining moments. However, after the two previous matches, this seemed to fall rather flat. And it didn't help matters that the crowd just didn't seem as invested in this one.
That isn't to say that it wasn't fun, because there were some incredible moments in there — especially when Randy Orton unleashed his trifecta of RKOs out of nowhere on Rusev, Aiden English and Jinder Mahal. Speaking of Jinder, he was ultimately the one to capture the Title when he capitalised on a distracted Rusev. It's good to see that WWE didn't just scrap Mahal's push after his WWE Championship run, but I think most people for hoping for a Rusev victory.
This match wasn't bad by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, it was exactly what it was supposed to be. But after the two incredible bouts that came before, this just didn't seem to connect on the same level.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
Result: Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle defeated Stephanie McMahon and Triple H.
One of the evening's most anticipated matches was the debut outing from UFC icon Ronda Rousey. After Rousey's incredible run in UFC, it's easy to see why we were all looking forward to seeing her set foot in a WWE ring. But she didn't do it alone, teaming up with Olympic gold medalist, WWE legend and the current General Manger of RAW, Kurt Angle.
Triple H and Stephanie deserve a standing ovation for their entrance alone, which involved a biker gang and two spits of bottled water. Trips always goes all-out with WrestleMania entrances, and he added yet another one to the legendary list. Angle came out to the endearing chant of "You Suck!" while Rousey also got a great reaction. All of the entrances really gave this a larger-than-life feel — and rightly so.
Triple H and Kurt Angle began brawling to kick things off, and suddenly we felt like ti was 2000 all over again. But everyone got to their feet when Rousey was tagged in. She made a beeline across the ring and violently brought Stephanie into the ring. And this began an incredible twenty minutes of back-and-forth action. Rousey really proved herself on the Grandest Stage of Them All and we both have to give an immense amount of credit to Stephanie McMahon for taking some pretty severe bumps.
The audience was 100% invested in this one, and it's easy to see why. With Pedigree attempts, Angle Slams and even some inter-gender fighting, this match had it all. It was a masterclass in storytelling, and kept us on the edges of our seats right until the very end. There were plenty of times that it looked like The Authority were going to overcome the pure athletes, and Stephanie did a fantastic job of blocking each armbar attempt. And this made the payoff (which saw Stephanie tap to out to Ronda's armbar) all the more worthwhile. Without a doubt, the match of the night.
The Usos vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers (SmackDown Tag Team Championships)
Result: The Bludgeon Brothers defeated The Usos and The New Day to become the new SmackDown Tag Team Champions.
The Usos defended their SmackDown Tag Team Championships in a Triple Threat tag team match against Kofi Kingston and Big E from The New Day and the Bludgeon Brothers. Like a few of the matches on the card, this ended up being quite short — which was probably the right choice.
There was a little back-and-forth action, but the match mainly consisted of complete domination from the unstoppable Bludgeon Brothers. This made sense from a storyline standpoint, and it was great to finally see underrated stars like Rowan and Harper get a WrestleMania moment. But having said that, it didn't feel any different from the average Triple Threat tag matches that we see regularly on Raw and SmackDown. Although, there was an epic sequence in which The Usos double teamed Harper with superkicks and splashes.
However, the placement of this match was both good and bad. The crowd was completely exhausted after the previous match, so it's good that they got the chance to rest during this. But it once again felt like they were somewhat disinterested in yet another SmackDown Live match.
John Cena vs. The Undertaker
Result: The Undertaker defeated John Cena.
In a match that many of us thought we'd never see, The Undertaker returned from limbo to take on John Cena. While the build-up to the match on Raw really felt off, we have to credit WWE here for some incredible storytelling on the night. We all knew that The Deadman wouldn't let us down, but the constant teases with Cena as a fan, the lights dimming and Elias's unexpected arrival were all strokes of genius. It really helped to build up the anticipation for something we were already very excited about. So much so, that when The Undertaker finally rose from the depths of hell, the crowd erupted with a deafening cheer.
The match was shockingly quick. The Undertaker unloaded on Cena and hit him with a few of his greatest hits (flying clothesline, Old School, big boot) before hitting him with the Chokeslam and finally, a Tombstone Piledriver. Yes, this wasn't how we expected this dream match to play out but given the circumstances, it was exactly what it needed to be. After The Undertaker presumably retired last year (looking winded, beaten down and old) the Phenom rose to dispose of one of WWE's greatest in a matter of minutes.
On that note, Undertaker looked great. And I don't just mean healthy, I mean great. He was far more agile and moved around the ring better than he has in years. Furthermore, he was in fantastic shape — he had lost a considerable amount of weight, he was no longer limping and he looked almost as ripped as he was back in 2007.
While the match may not have been the wrestling classic that The Undertaker of the past ten years has been known to put on, it was a perfect return for the Deadman. After making those horrible comments over the past few weeks, John Cena got exactly what he deserved as The Undertaker of old squashed him in his shortest WrestleMania match in history. But was his 26th WrestleMania match his last?
Definitely the most goosebump-inducing segment of the evening, all we can say is welcome back Undertaker! No other moment on the card came close to delivering the sheer awe-inspiring spectacle that this segment provided us with. The Phenom is back, and perhaps better than ever.
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
Result: Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon defeated Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.
WWE cleverly followed up The Undertaker's return with Daniel Bryan's return. As soon as Bryan's music hit, the audience lost their minds and started his iconic "Yes!" chant. We have to admit, it was rather emotional to see Bryan entering the Superdome to do battle once again. What once seemed impossible is now a reality because of this Miracle King.
The action quickly got underway when Owens and Zayn attacked Shane McMahon and Bryan from behind. While seeing Bryan viciously assaulted during his first match out-of-retirement definitely added an edge-of-seat vibe to the match, we found ourselves questioning this decision. Taking Bryan out of the match so early completely zapped the life out of the audience who couldn't wait to see him. On the other hand, it made for some beautiful storytelling: his resurgence in the match's second half was the perfect payoff. And when he unloaded on Zayn with all of his signature moves (from the "Yes!" Kicks to the "Yes!" Lock), his incredible comeback story was complete.
While we didn't love the decision to take him out of the first half of the match, it made sense from a storyline standpoint and increased the tension (what if he was drastically injured?), but the payoff proved that Daniel Bryan hadn't lost a step. Meanwhile, Shane McMahon held his own against two of the company's brightest young stars in Owens and Zayn, delivering a beautiful Coast-to-Coast on Sami Zayn. As for Zayn and Owens, they may have lost (and effectively remained fired from SmackDown Live), but I'm guessing that both of them will end up on Raw in the coming weeks. Bryan needed this victory and, although the match could have been a little better, this was the perfect way of easing him back in. The "Yes!" Movement is back, and it could be stronger than ever.
Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax (Raw Women's Championship)
Result: Nia Jax defeated Alex Bliss to win the Raw Women's Championship.
In one of the evening's more personal matches, Nia Jax looked to get the ultimate revenge on her former best friend, Alexa Bliss, by taking her Women's Championship. And that's exactly what she did.
While the SmackDown Women's Championship match was a show-stopper, this one was pretty basic — and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Nia destroyed Mickie James before the match even started. She then set her sights on Alexa and pretty much dominated her for the majority of the match. While Alexa didn't go quietly, the Super Samoan Drop off the top rope was enough to keep her down for the three-count.
As the match was exactly what we expected, it could have benefited from being a little shorter. Once again, it felt like the audience wasn't really as invested here, and a shorter match would have definitely made this less obvious. However, it was exactly what it needed to be — and it's very satisfying to finally see Nia get the push she deserves.
AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship)
Result: AJ Styles defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE Championship.
In what many believed should have been the true main event of the show, SmackDown Live superstars (and world-class athletes) AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura collided for the WWE Championship. Like The Undertaker and John Cena, this too was considered a dream match, and the fact that we were getting to see it at the Showcase of the Immortals made it all the more worthwhile.
As expected, both Styles and Nakamura put on a masterclass in professional wrestling. Without a doubt, two of the best in the world at what they do, it was an encounter that wrestling fans had wanted to see for such a long time. However, perhaps this is the reason why the match didn't quite live up to expectations. Don't get me wrong, they really delivered here, and proved that they are both masters of wrestling psychology. But perhaps the hype was just too much for the match to truly deliver the 5-star epic that we all wanted.
The match's placement on the card didn't help either. Having sat through some of the event's most amazing matches, and having seen almost all of the must-see superstars, the crowd was completely exhausted by the time that this match eventually rolled around. And while a match of this magnitude should be left to the closing half of the show (if not the very end), this goes to show that WrestleMania is just too long these days. A two-hour pre-show, followed by a five-hour event can seem like a tall task for even the most devoted WWE fan. And unfortunately, this match paid the price for that.
Sheamus and Cesaro vs. Braun Strowman and Nicholas (Raw Tag Team Championships)
Result: Braun Strowman and Nicholas defeated Sheamus and Cesaro to win the Raw Tag Team Championships.
Now we know why Braun Strowman's partner had to remain a mystery until WrestleMania. While we all thought it was pretty poor storytelling that WWE did not reveal Strowman's partner before 'Mania, now it actually makes them look like the greatest masterminds in the universe. As Strowman went around the arena, he picked a 10 year-old kid from the audience, Nicholas, to be his partner.
Surprisingly, the audience was 100% invested in this and even chanted for Nicholas throughout the match. While he only tagged in a for a matter of seconds, it was still surreal to see Nicholas step into a WWE ring. But it was his partner, the Monster Among Men, who decimated Sheamus and Cesaro in just four minutes to win the Tag Titles.
The match itself wasn't great. Strowman pretty much squashed Sheamus and Cesaro in minutes. Moreover, the placement of the match was all wrong — this should not have been the penultimate match. However, Strowman knows how to make the crowd come alive, and it was absolutely heart-warming to see this giant team with a little boy. And it's undoubtedly a WrestleMania moment that Nicholas will never forget.
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Championship)
Result: Brock Lesnar defeated Roman Reigns to retain the WWE Universal Championship).
I seriously don't know where to begin with this one. For the fourth year in a row, Roman Reigns main events WrestleMania, and produces yet another disappointing match. But this time, it's not all on Roman. It doesn't help that this is a WrestleMania 31 rematch that nobody wanted to see. But while that one ended up pleasantly surprising us (and had Seth Rollins to save it with his Money In The Bank briefcase), this one didn't. It's hard to call it a disappointment when our expectations were already so low, but somehow it did disappoint.
It started out remotely promising with a back-and-forth brawl, before Lesnar began his onslaught of German Suplexes. But after that, things fell apart and it turned into a dull finisher-fest. And the fans totally expected it, because "boring" and "this is awful" chants broke out throughout the match. That's right, 78,000 people chanted "boring" during the main event of WrestleMania.
For having employed some great storytelling techniques earlier in the night, it just feels like WWE Creative are totally blind when it comes to Roman Reigns. Fans boo him because they believe he is the "chosen one" who has been handed every opportunity. So, what does WWE decide to make him do? Kick out of not one, not two, not three, but FIVE F-5s. Seriously? Making him an unstoppable SuperCena II is not the way to make fans like him. We empathise with weaknesses and flaws — not an unlikable, invincible "chosen one".
While the bloody end was a somewhat surprising finish, the surprises continued when Lesnar defeated Reigns after the sixth F-5. In fact, it was so unexpected, this was the only moment which garnered an overwhelming cheer from the audience. And the reason for this was because it was the lesser of two evils here, and made a change from yet another predictable Roman win.
But the unpredictable finish wasn't enough to save the evening from ending on a sour note. And it proves that things have to change. But perhaps WWE already know that. Whether we wanted it or not, this was supposed to be Roman's moment to slay the Beast and become the new face of the company. But for some reason, they changed the plan. And if it's to finally end this Reigns babyface push, then maybe (just maybe) this waste of a main event may have been worth it.
Look, we really like Roman Reigns. And without a doubt, he will be an integral part of the future of WWE. But he just isn't the face of the company that WWE is hoping for. If anything, WrestleMania proved that now is the time to turn him heel. By feeding off the fans' hatred for his character, he may just become something amazing. Either way, something needs to happen to save us from another wasted 'Mania main event. This can't keep happening.
The Last Word Standing:
While WrestleMania 34 delivered one of the best opening two hours of any show in WWE history, the placement of certain matches (and the existence of others) really dragged the second half down. Unfortunately, this trajectory was capped off by a dull main event match that nobody really wanted to see in the first place. However, this doesn't take away from the fact that we saw some sensational wrestling matches, two incredible returns and countless jaw-dropping moments that will live on in the annals of WWE history.
There was a lot more good than bad in WrestleMania 34, and it was undoubtedly one of the best overall WrestleManias in quite some time.
Overall Event Grade: A-
Did you enjoy WrestleMania 34? Let us know in the comments section below!