The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 33 (04.02.17)
Live from Orlando, FL
Your hosts are varied and many.
I’ve got a big sandwich, lots of snacks, and most importantly my laptop is plugged into power this year. BRING IT ON, WWE.
Cruiserweight title: Neville v. Austin Aries
Getting the pre-game show might be a blessing because they have TONS of time to work with, at least. They do some basic stuff on the mat to start and Aries nearly hooks the Last Chancery, but Neville bails to escape. Back in, Aries with a headlock takedown and a low dropkick, and he goes up with an elbow to the back of the head for two. Neville bails again and blocks a dive with a high kick from the floor, and back in with a missile dropkick for two. And we take a break. You know, on the network I pay $10 a month to access. Back with Neville holding a chinlock on the mat. The commercial, by the way is for “Tough Talking” wrestling figures, who have a chip built in where they cut promos on each other. So now we’ve come to the point where they’re even scripting how kids play with their action figures. Anyway, Aries drops the pendulum elbow and tosses him for a dive, which gets two in the ring. Neville hits him with kicks in the corner and they fight for a superplex, but Aries puts him down and follows with a dropkick for two. Aries sets up for a suplex, but Neville destroys him with a german suplex, like right on his head, but a second one is countered. Neville just powers Aries up for a third one, however, and gets two. Neville stomps a mudhole in the corner and goes for the Rings of Saturn, but Aries rolls him over for two. Neville with an enzuigiri, but Aries hits him with the discus forearm and knocks him out of the ring. Aries hauls him back in, but Neville catches him with a high kick from the apron and goes up to finish. Aries was just goldbricking, however, and puts him down with a top rope rana and 450 for two. They totally had me with that one. Last Chancery, but Neville rakes the broken eyebone to escape, and finishes with the Red Arrow at 15:30 to retain. What a spectacular asshole heel move that was. They got plenty of time and delivered a great match here, although the finish might have been a bit too subtle for the stadium crowd. ***3/4
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
We’ve got Big Show, Braun Strowman, and a whole bunch of geeks and tag team wrestlers. Including YOUR Smackdown tag team champions. Braun throws out Kalisto and Simon Gotch right away, with Show tossing Goldust and an Uso and Konor. So then everyone teams up on the two giants and Show gets tossed by Strowman, who is then ganged up by everyone and tossed. Bunch of geeks all punching each other on the ropes for the next while. By the way, rumors of Titus O’Neil not being a part of this were LIES, as he’s in there and obviously the favorite now. Truth gets tossed while Dolph teases a bunch of eliminations and then puts out Rhyno. American Alpha teams up to put out a bunch of guys, but Jordan gets put out and then Gable. Tian Bing puts out both fashion police, and Mark Henry gets dumped by someone. Ziggler superkicks Bing off the apron to put him out. Epico goes up and gets booted out by Zayn. He deserves it for climbing to the top in this match. We’re down to some real heavy hitters now, like Titus and Jinder and Luke Harper in his new gear. And the fat guy from Sanity. Mojo makes Bo go. And then he puts out Ziggler as well, and Titus boots out Luke. Sami clotheslines Titus out, but gets dumped by Killian, as we’ve seriously just got Mojo, Jinder and Daine left. This might make the Worst of Wrestlemania list. Jinder and Mojo leave the ring for a brawl outside, which gives Jinder a chance to throw a drink at Mojo’s football buddy at ringside. This prompts him to jump the railing (with some poor clueless 85 pound security woman legit trying to stop him!) and get into the ring to shoulderblock Jinder, and Mojo makes the comeback and puts out Daine. So this leaves Mojo Rawley v. Jinder Mahal, and Mojo knocks him off the apron to win at 14:11. MOJO RAWLEY WINS A MATCH AT WRESTLEMANIA. This was a thing that happened. On the bright side, Gronk’s custom Monster energy drink is delicious. The match itself was one of the worst in Wrestlemania history, so we’re off to a great start!
Intercontinental title: Dean Ambrose v. Baron Corbin
The buildup for this is apropos, since Ambrose will need a forklift to carry Corbin here. They immediately brawl outside the ring and back in while you PEONS on the USA Network take a break, but we get to continue on with Corbin in control here on the WWE Network. He stomps away and they head back to the floor again for more Ambrose selling, and then into the ring for a chinlock. Corbin misses a charge and Dean goes up with his axehandle, but I think Corbin hit him with a move or something, I dunno. Perhaps he’s still selling the forklift injury. I remember Eddie Graham always telling the guys in the Florida, “Always sell the forklift!” It was well known as being his #1 piece of advice. Back to the floor again and Corbin shoulderblocks the stairs. Back in for a neckbreaker from Ambrose that gets two while the crowd just sits there in silence, perhaps burned out from the excitement of Mojo Rawley getting his Wrestlemania moment. I feel like Mojo and Jinder stormed into the dressing room afterwards ala Batista and yelled “TOP THAT, MOTHERFUCKERS!” Corbin comes back with the Deep Six for two, but Ambrose gets the rebound clothesline, only to fall victim to a powerbomb from Corbin for two. Corbin is very frustrated at the cadence of that count and expresses that by yelling “YAAAAA! THREEEEEEE!” at the top of his lungs. What a heel. Corbin continues his Dr. Evil monologue, yelling “I’M LEAVING WITH THE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP,” because you have to maintain proper WWE syntax even during crazed rants, “YOU UNDERSTAND ME?” And then Ambrose reverses End of Days into the DDT for the pin at 10:47. Well no wonder he lost, he gave away his whole game plan! *1/2 Match was fine for a pre-game show main event, I guess.
America the Beautiful is sung by someone named Tinashe, who I have literally never heard of before. But I’m not what the kids call “urban” or “young”.
Shane McMahon v. AJ Styles
They actually trade armdrags and do some mat wrestling to start, and AJ bails to escape that onslaught from Shane. This gives us Otunga telling us that “everyone knows Shane trains boxing, muay thai and MMA”. Sure, everyone knows that. Shane wins a slugfest with his muay thai-level punches, but Styles dumps him and dropkicks him into the announce table for our first Shane Bump of the evening. Back in, AJ controls for a bit, but Shane makes the comeback with more shitty punches and a back elbow. Angle Slam gets two and Shane is just completely gassed, sucking wind with every move. AJ puts him down with the backbreaker and rolls into the calf crusher, but Shane counters into a choke and an armbar. AJ escapes that dire situation and they clothesline each other, but AJ goes up and lands in Shane’s triangle choke. OH COME ON. AJ quickly counters into the Styles Clash for two. They slug it out again and the crowd is clearly booing Shane now, and the ref is bumped. So immediately AJ grabs some garbage cans, his signature weapon, and puts one on Shane in the corner, which results in Shane countering by hitting him with the can. WHO COULD HAVE SEEN THAT COMING?! So now Shane does his own Van Terminator on AJ while this referee has literally been unconscious for like 5 minutes now, but luckily revives in time to count two. Shane preps the announce table and goes up for his elbow, which he of course misses. Back in, Shane counters the forearm into a DDT in another ridiculous twist, and he goes up and misses a shooting star press. AJ with another forearm, and that one finishes at 20:31. Too long and totally unnecessary, but AJ got a good match out of Shane by any means necessary, despite my best efforts at snarking on it. ***3/4
US title: Chris Jericho v. Kevin Owens
Slugfest and Jericho quickly gets the Walls, but Owens bails and Jericho follows with a dive. Back in, Jericho charges and runs into a superkick, and Owens takes over with a pair of cannonballs. It’s CHINLOCK-A-MANIA and Owens smacks him around, but they head to the floor again. Jericho escapes a potential apron powerbomb and they head in, where Jericho gets a back elbow for two. Owens puts him down with a package powerbomb for two. They slug it out on top, and Jericho brings him down with a rana for two. Jericho misses the Lionsault and Owens boots him down for two. KO misses the frog splash, and Jericho misses the Lionsault again, and finally KO misses a swanton. Owens with a spinning slam for two, but Jericho counters the pop up powerbomb and hits the Lionsault for two. He tries a rana, but Owens counters him into the Walls of Owens. Jericho escapes, but Owens gets another cannonball, which Jericho catches and turns into his own Walls. Owens escapes and gets the powerbomb out of nowhere, but it only gets two. KO lets him know that they were never friends, and that seems unnecessarily mean. This prompts Jericho to reverse the powerbomb into a codebreaker for two, as Owens gets one finger on the ropes to break. Back to the floor, where Owens drops him with the apron powerbomb and wins the US title at 16:48. I dunno, after all the buildup and hatred it felt like it should have been a big violent brawl and it was pretty much just a TV match without much heat. **1/2
RAW Women’s title: Bayley v. Charlotte Flair v. Sasha Banks v. Nia Jax
My stream starts going to hell at this point after being rock solid for the first three hours. Everyone goes after Nia to start and she lays them all out and hits Bayley with a butt splash in the corner. Charlotte makes the save and Nia no-sells all of HER stuff, too. Didn’t she see that Charlotte got fireworks for her entrance? So now everyone gangs up on Nia and team up with a triple suplex on her that gets two. And then Nia just no-sells everything again and goes up, resulting in a triple powerbomb on her for the elimination at 4:10. They spent months waffling on her involvement for THAT? So Charlotte hauls out Bayley and Sasha hits her with a dive, followed by Charlotte hitting the other girls with a moonsault. Back in, Charlotte escapes a Bank Statement and gets two, and they slug it out to set up Sasha’s comeback. Flying Thesz Press gets two and it’s back to the Bank Statement, but Charlotte runs her into an exposed turnbuckle and pins her at 8:10. So we’re down to Charlotte v. Bayley and Charlotte misses the moonsault, which allows Bayley to get two. Figure-four, but Bayley fights out, escapes the tree of woe, and hits a flying elbow from the top for the pin at 12:14. Why do they always say people are paying tribute to Randy Savage with a flying elbow when no one does it properly? Match was what it was, a rushed four-way that served no purpose. **1/2
RAW tag team titles, ladder match: Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows v. Enzo & Cass v. Cesaro & Sheamus v. THE HARDY BOYZ
So nice to see that Cesaro and Sheamus have their entrance in sync after months of squabbling. And then our hosts, the New Day, tease their own entrance into the match before introducing Matt and Jeff as the stadium explodes. Jeff immediately hits Poetry in Motion on both Anderson and Gallows and clean house on everyone. Matt hits everyone with a ladder, and he is decidedly unbroken for legal reasons. The Hardyz try to climb and get brought down by Gallows & Anderson. They get sandwiched between ladders on the floor and Cass tosses Enzo at Gallows. Back in the ring, Gallows and Anderson take more abuse, as Cesaro swings Anderson while Sheamus gives Gallows the forearms on the apron. More nice stuff as Sheamus whips Cesaro into Gallows with a 619, and then Brogue Kicks Jeff off the apron into everyone else. Sheamus climbs while Corey Graves explains about short ladders having more stability, but Enzo makes the save. He climbs in turn, with Cass giving him a piggyback assist, but the others cut them off and Cass gets destroyed. Anderson beats up Enzo on top of the ladder and Cesaro hits him with a forearm on the way down. Magic Killer for Cesaro, and Matt Hardy fights with Anderson on top of the ladder and brings him down with a Twist of Fate. Jeff then climbs a giant ladder, putting Cesaro & Sheamus through the ladders outside with a swanton, while Matt grabs the titles at 11:00. Well, smart move letting them get away, TNA. Top notch. Finally an actual Wrestlemania moment this year! ****1/4
John Cena & Nikki Bella v. The Miz & Maryse
Maryse immediately tags out to Miz, who is seemingly a giant babyface here. Miz and Maryse head out for some cuddle time and Miz catches Cena on the way back in and chokes him out on the ropes. Corner clothesline and Miz goes up with the double axehandle for two. The crowd is just going CRAZY for Miz as the announcers try to deny it…while the crowd is chanting “Miz is awesome”! Miz misses the blind charge, but Maryse takes out Nikki to prevent the tag. Miz with a neckbreaker for two. DDT gets two as the crowd continues to go absolutely batshit for him and even the crappy Daniel Bryan kicks draw a huge reaction. Cena finally backdrops him over the top and makes the hot tag to Nikki, and the crowd completely turns on her. Nikki hits Miz with a dive and puts Maryse down with the forearm, and we get double five knuckle shuffles and they both hit their finishers at 9:39. This somehow managed to be even more disappointing than anticipated. * And then John tells a creepy story about having a conversation with Nikki while she was under anesthesia before surgery, and we get the proposal so they can air it on YouTube a billion times and such. Hopefully Jake the Snake crashes the reception or Randy Orton pops out of the wedding cake or something.
Non-Sanctioned Match: HHH v. Seth Rollins
Remember, Seth Rollins signed a “Hold Harmless” agreement, so if anything happens to him here, no one sue on his behalf. Beatdown from Crossfit Jesus to start and he dropkicks HHH out of the ring, and they brawl into the crowd. Back in, Rollins with an enzuigiri to put HHH on the floor, and he follows with a pair of dives, but HHH DDTs him on the announce table. As expected, HHH hits him in the knee with a chair and goes to work on it, but Seth runs him into the turnbuckle to escape the dreaded leglock. Sadly, his knee gives out while trying a sunset bomb, and HHH goes for the Pedigree. Rollins escapes and reverses to a turnbuckle bomb. HHH bails to the floor and Rollins follows with a dive, but hurts his knee in the process. So then he pulls out some chairs and a table, and back in with a frog splash for two. And then HHH kicks him in the knee and gets a spinebuster for two. And then we get the weird WWE spot with the chair on the knee where the other guy doesn’t actually hit the knee, and they head up for the Rollins superplex for two. HHH with the indian deathlock, and Rollins is forced to roll out of the ring to escape, and he inadvertently pulls the Trusty Sledgehammer out from under the ring and gives it to HHH. Back in, they slug it out and HHH ends it with a lariat as the crowd showers them with bored silence. Rollins revives first and grabs the hammer, but Steph steals it and it’s KICK WHAM PEDIGREE for two. They head up and HHH tries a top rope version, but Rollins backdrops him and hits the Phoenix splash for two. HHH tries another Pedigree, but Seth escapes and HHH hits him in the knee for the millionth time. Steph gets involved and HHH accidentally knocks her through a table, and SETH WHAM PEDIGREE finishes at 25:20. Everyone said it would be HHH working the knee for 20 minutes, but they were WRONG. It was 25:00. Match was fine otherwise, although the crowd was complete death until the finish. **1/2
Pitbull is a thing that happens.
WWE World title: Bray Wyatt v. Randy Orton
Holy shit, I legit forgot this match was happening. I think there’s becoming a legit case for splitting up Wrestlemania over two nights at this point, because there’s no reason for a PPV to be running this long. And we’ve still got three more matches to go! JBL calls this the most “calculated path to a World title” ever. So Orton “calculated” that he’d win the Rumble and then Bray would happen to be put into an Elimination Chamber match and win the next month? Because sure seems like a lot of variables. Orton tries the RKO early and Bray runs away, but catches Orton coming back in and somehow causes maggots to be projected onto the mat. That’s an oddly specific superpower. Orton bails to escape that, since Bray might escalate his attacks to projecting 2015’s Fantastic Four onto the mat and really causing some damage. Back in, Bray with a corner splash and now it’s worms on the ring. Maybe he can project a better match onto the mat? It’s the 30th anniversary of Steamboat v. Savage, you know. Like really, if the internet doesn’t immediately produce a bunch of photoshopped wacky things for Bray to project onto the mat, I will lose all faith in Al Gore’s invention. Bray with a senton for two, but Orton reverses Sister Abigail for two and then bails again. Bray follows him out for a Sister Abigail into the railing, but he chases Orton and runs into RKO OUTTA NOWHERE on the floor. Back in, that gets two. Orton does his interpretive dances, but walks into Sister Abigail for two. And now it’s time for a video of cockroaches, but this time Orton gets the RKO and wins the title at 10:13. WHAT THE EVER LOVING FUCK WAS THAT? Even Broken Matt Hardy would be like “That was too weird and experimental even for me.” DUD We’ve had three title changes already for 2017 and ended up with Randy Orton as champion. Yay?
WWE Universal title: Goldberg v. Brock Lesnar
Crowd completely turns on Goldberg before the match even starts. Brock takes Goldberg to Suplex City immediately, but Goldberg spears him twice and Brock bails. Goldberg spears him through the railing, and back in for the Jackhammer, but Brock reverses to the F5, so Goldberg escapes and gets a fourth spear. Jackhammer gets two, making Brock the first guy to ever kick out of that. Another spear misses and Brock has had enough of these shenanigans, as we return to Suplex City for 10 germans and the F5 at 4:44. A fun collision of bulls. ** And now the title goes back into the deep freeze for three months, as I still have no idea why this needed to be for the title.
Smackdown Women’s title: Alexa Bliss v. Naomi v. Becky Lynch v. Carmella v. Mickie James v. Natalya
Gosh, so glad they didn’t just bump this from the show. This is the very definition of the death slot. Becky cleans house on everyone while everyone in the audience goes for their final piss break. Alexa acts all mean to Carmella and hits Natalya with a DDT, but Becky gets a bunch of suplexes, including James Ellsworth. Alexa tosses Mickie and we get a dubious double Sharpshooter on Naomi and Carmella. Everyone gets a bunch of near-falls and I’m really ready for this show to end. Naomi with She Calls That The Rear View and a dive on everyone. Back in, she wraps up Alexa in some kind of submission hold and wins the title at 5:37. Whatever, next. *
The New Day announces the new fake attendance record for the stadium, with 75,000 fake fans! So in reality, 65,000 people in the building and 55,000 paid.
Undertaker v. Roman Reigns
Come on guys, this show has been going for SIX AND A HALF HOURS. Let’s just wrap it up so everyone can go home. They slug it out right away and Taker tosses Roman out of his yard. Perhaps they should call a legal representative to establish ownership of the property. It would probably take less time than this year’s show. To the floor, but Roman gets the samoan drop back in the ring. Back to the floor, where Reigns gets the Drive By on the apron to take over. They slug it out in the ring and Taker gets a corner clothesline and Snake Eyes for two. Roman runs away, so Taker punches him off the apron and preps the table. At this point I’m more tired than Roman Reigns during a Royal Rumble match. Roman gets chokeslammed on a table, but the table doesn’t break, probably because it’s the German table and thus too well constructed and efficient. Taker stands on another table, but Reigns spears him through it and the crowd is so over this that they don’t even give them a pity “Holy shit” chant or anything. Undertaker does the zombie situp and they head back in, where Roman stomps away and acts all heelish. Of course, he takes too long in the corner and Taker gives him a half-assed Last Ride for two, as Taker looks like he can barely go down for the move anymore. Taker gets a chair and beats on Reigns with that, and a chokeslam and tombstone get two. Crowd chants “bullshit” at that. They try it again and completely botch it, as Reigns goes for the reversal and Taker can’t go up for it, so he goes with a superman punch instead and gets two. Spear, but Taker wraps him up in the choke, so Reigns makes the ropes. In a No DQ match. Whatever, I just want this to end. Reigns grabs the chair and beats on Taker as we’re rapidly approaching SEVEN HOURS of this show. Even PWG would be like “Damn, maybe you should manage your time better” at this point. Another spear gets two. More laying around and Sad Roman is forced to hit another spear, which gets two. Superman punch, but Taker sits up, and then falls down again. That’s how I feel watching this match. Finally, one more spear finishes at 22:57. Undertaker’s had some great matches, and so has Roman, but this was the drizzling shits after that tombstone botch. *1/2 They were trying for the “I love you and I’m sorry” moment, and this wasn’t the match to do it with. In fact, I have no idea what the point even was supposed to be.
Undertaker leaves his gloves and coat in the ring (you know, like he did last year) because this time he’s retired for real, super serious you guys.
Man, that one was looking like an all-timer at the halfway point and then just completely fell apart after the Hardy Boyz returned. Hot take: Seven hours is just too much wrestling for one show. Even the main PPV portion was five hours! Plus an overrun! Not as bad as last year’s show, for sure, but they sure didn’t have anything to save the show in the main event slots.
Mild thumbs up, but I’m never watching this one again.