It’s WWE vs. The Coronovirus in the Main Event! Who Will Prevail?
I’ve decided that, since I can’t really go out, I’m going to sit and watch WrestleMania this year. I’ve been a wrestling fan, on and off, for nearly three decades, ever since my grandfather sat me down and had me watch. My fandom peaked in the late 80s and 90s, but I have WWE Network, and even though I mostly watch the old stuff (Can’t get enough Mr. Perfect!) I watch the current product when I have the time. While I might not know some of what’s going on, I hope the WWE will educate me, what with two nights and six or so total hours of the show to fill.
This year, due to the Coronavirus pandemic, WrestleMania will be 1) short of a few major stars, such as The Miz (his wife’s pregnant) and Roman Reigns (legit concerns about his health after having leukemia), 2) shot at the Performance Center in Orlando instead of Tampa, 3) without a crowd, and 4) two days long. We’ll see how these four factors affect the event.
So, without further ado, let’s head to the recap (and grades for each match, for whatever they’re worth coming from me).
Part One, Saturday, April 4
We start the proceedings with Stephanie McMahon clearly reading off of a tele-prompter. This isn’t a good sign.
Next up, we get a spliced-together national anthem. This just serves to remind us when WWE had enough clout to get legends like Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin. Now, we’re getting WWE employee Lillian Garcia for most years.
So, now we’re on to the intro. They’re keeping the pirate theme, I guess. It sounds like Nick Frost (from Shaun of the Dead) is narrating, trying to sound like Johnny Depp/Jack Sparrow. After the intro, we move on to…oh dear Lord…Rob Gronkowski as the “host” of the event. He sounds like a drunken frat boy, and he’s clearly so prepared that he has to wear sunglasses so it’s not apparent that he’s reading the teleprompter. Ugh, he’s terrible. Now Mojo Rawley is joining him, which is…ugh, never mind. Let’s get to the action!
Oops, I guess the first match was on a pre-show I didn’t see…I guess Cesaro defeated Drew Gulak.
So, on to the action I DID see! Let’s start with the Raw Women’s Tag Team Championship match!
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs. Kabuki Warriors (Kairi Sane and Asuka)
Raw Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
The match starts with mocking by the heels. After some back and forth, both teams have an opportunity to shine. The heels are, by far, the more entertaining team. Some nice double teaming from The Kabuki Warriors only gets a one count on Cross, who eventually makes the hot tag and Bliss runs over the heels. After some chicanery from the Warriors, Sane performs a double leaping stomp from the top rope on Bliss. The heels spend a few more minutes beating on Bliss, who eventually gets her knees up on an Asuka charge and tags Cross. Cross manages a pin, but Sane hits an elbow to break up the pin attempt (after some creative editing shows that Sane hit the elbow late). Bliss eventually hits Twisted Bliss to break up the Asuka Lock and all four competitors lay in the ring. The Warriors maintain control for a bit, but Cross ends up fighting back and tagging to Bliss, who hits a sloppy Twisted Bliss on Sane’s legs to win the match.
Winners: Bliss and Cross
The match wasn’t horrible, but the ending was sloppy and oddly paced. It could’ve been a little shorter and still done the trick. The announcers praised Cross, but she was average at best. The Kabuki Warriors carried this match.
Sami Zayn comes out dressed as Irish Fidel Castro and talks about how he and his two henchmen (Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura) are going to defeat Daniel Bryan.
King Corbin vs. Elias
King Corbin really needs to coordinate his outfit a little better…the t-shirt doesn’t really shout, “royalty.”
We see how King Corbin beat up Elias on SmackDown eight days ago. Corbin wants a forfeit win, but Elias comes out and wallops Corbin with his guitar before the bell rings. Elias spends a few minutes beating on Corbin until Corbin dumps him out of the ring. Corbin takes control and starts to work on the injured shoulder of Elias. Elias reverses a toss to the corner and pounds on Corbin for a bit until he misses a top-rope elbow drop. The two competitors go back and forth until Corbin tries to use the ropes for leverage on a pin. The ref catches him, and while Corbin argues with the ref, Elias rolls him up (and grabs a handful of tights) to get the three count.
Hey, Elias wins a match! That match wasn’t horrible, and it was short enough to not drag. It certainly would’ve benefitted from a live audience, since people hate Corbin, but he still did a decent job being a jerk without the crowd. Elias needs to do angry a little better, though.
We get a video package of Becky Lynch versus Baszler, including when Baszler “bit” Lynch. We also see the horrible Elimination Chamber match that was just burying half the women’s division to build up Baszler. The video package ends with some very dirty language…shame.
Oooh, Becky’s coming to the facility in a big rig! That really doesn’t have the impact when no one is watching. Sigh.
Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler
Raw Women’s Championship Match
I can’t spell the name of Shayna Baszler’s move, so I’m going to call it the fancy sleeper. The two start swinging, but Lynch ends up on the floor. I really got into the match, so I didn’t take many notes. The match was exceptional, until Baszler locked in the Cocoa Pebbles Clutch, only to have Lynch roll through it and get the three count.
Winner: Becky Lynch
The quick ending takes a full letter grade from this match. With two full days’ worth of time, the WWE couldn’t give this match any more time? This was the best match of the first three…until the rushed ending. Bummer.
Daniel Bryan (with Drew Gulak) vs. Sami Zayn (with Henchmen)
Intercontinental Championship Match
This match looks like two hipsters fighting over the last chi latte at the local coffee shop. The first five minutes of the match sees Zayn run away like a punk, with his two henchmen running interference until Gulak dives on them and flips them over the barricade. Bryan pretends to let Zayn walk, and then tackles him on the ramp. After getting the crapped kicked out of him for a while, Zayn unleashes an elbow and takes control…for about 23 seconds until Bryan takes his head off with a leaping clothesline. More of Zayn getting the crap kicked out of him…until Zayn’s henchmen take out Gulak, only to be taken out by Bryan. Bryan leaps off the top rope to finish off Zayn, only to have Zayn plant a boot to Bryan’s face. Apparently, this is enough to get a pin on a champion.
Winner: Sami Zayn
That match was good from a psychological perspective and had a couple decent moments, but, again, the ending felt rushed and illogical. Why not have Bryan win and then have Gulak turn on him? I probably should’ve given this a lower grade, but it was short enough not to bother me too much.
We get an Edge comeback video package. Glad to see him back.
Half of the Usos vs. Half of the New Day vs. Half of Miz and Morrison
SmackDown Tag Team Championship Match
So, because The Miz backed out of this match because his wife is pregnant (no knock on him, that’s all kinds of smart), they re-orged it to be Kofi Kingston vs. Jimmy Uso vs. John Morrison in a ladder match for the titles. I think this match might be better off without the other three in it.
We start the match with a bunch of misses and reversals. Then, all three guys go for a ladder. Why does the white guy have the shortest ladder? Sorry, horrible joke. Anyway, the match starts slowly, but really picks up steam after Kofi gets dumped and John Morrison takes control. The guys perform some nifty high spots and then Kofi gets back in the ring, only to dive onto Morrison. Another cool spot as Kofi throws a ladder into a flying Uso. John Morrison amazingly walks the entire top rope to hit Spanish Fly on Kofi from the top turnbuckle. Uso puts the cherry on the pain sundae with a splash on a prone Morrison. Some more back and forth, until Jimmy Uso flings Kingston’s face into a ladder. Morrison shoves a ladder over with Uso on it, and Uso goes flying to the floor. Morrison has a seemingly clear path to the belts, but is met by Kofi. Uso joins the party and the three men fight for the belts. All three men unclip the doohickey with the belts on them, and then fight to remove the belts. Uso and Kingston each whallop Morrison, who rips the belts off and falls from the ladder. So, Morrison wins.
Winner: Morrison (and Miz)
Yeah, the match started a little slowly (and awkwardly), but once these three got going, they delivered. The ending was quite clever, and not rushed and weird like the previous matches. Good show by the three veterans.
Next up is a Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens video buildup, which is appropriate because our next match is…
Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens
Rollins’s opening would be a lot more impactful if there was anyone in the building. The match starts with some mind games by Rollins, but Owens quickly takes charge. Owens is the kind of guy who talks well enough that he still works even without the crowd. Rollins regains control with a backdrop and falcon arrow on the apron that look legit brutal. Rollins hits two diving tackles and then procedes to talk shit. The shit talking is cut short as Owens pops Rollins on the third dive. Rollins still maintains control, but is eventually spiked by a DDT. Cannonball in the corner and top rope senton flatten Rollins. Some nifty back and forth ends with a clothesline by Owens. After some fighting on the ropes, Rollins buckle bombs Owens and then hits a pair of kicks, only to be powerbombed by Owens. Rollins kicks out of the pin and then tries to run. Rollins whallops Owens with the ring bell, handing Owens the DQ win.
Winner: (By DQ) Kevin Owens….BUT WAIT!
Owens grabs the mic and calls Rollins a “little bitch.” He asks Rollins to come back for a no-DQ match. So, we’re treated to…
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins, Part II (No DQ)
Rollins hits a leaping knee right out of the gate. He continues to punish him outside the ring, including nailing him in the dome with the ring steps. Rollins taunts Owens while hitting him repeatedly with a chair, while Owens calls him a bitch some more. Revenge is sweet for Owens, as he clunks Rollins in the head with the ring bell and then climbs the WrestleMania sign. Owens taunts Rollins and then drops an elbow on him through the announce table. Then the two men make sounds like turtles having sex for the next minute or so. Owens rolls a nearly-dead Rollins in the ring, pulls him to his feet, and hits the Canadian Cold Stunner to get the win.
Winner (for Real This Time): Kevin Owens
This was a pretty good match that never got slow and had great moments. The two men are both natural talkers, so the lack of a crowd almost didn’t matter. This was a match with two men who didn’t like each other, and it showed. Great stuff.
My laptop battery died, so I missed whatever stupid 24/7 stuff they did after that match. I think Mojo Rawley may have won the 24/7 title, but that title is ridiculous, so I’m not rewinding or looking online to see what happened.
Next, we’re treated to a Paul Heyman interview. The announce crew runs down the card for the second night of the card, and then we’re “treated” to our next match. Oh man, is this going to suck…
Braun Strowman vs. Bill Goldberg
SmackDown Championship Match
Goldberg looks like a buff peepaw as two security guys knock on his door, but aren’t really needed to escort him because there’s no one in the building. This match will probably benefit from no one being in the crowd, because I don’t think the WWE Universe is thrilled to have a guy who qualifies for AARP with a strap. Seriously, these two guys just look like two drunk biker dudes who would fight after one of them spilled beer on the other at a bar.
JBL makes the statement of the night when he says these two guys don’t, “work by the hour.” Hell, I’m sure they’re barely going to work by the minute in this one.
Three spears by Goldberg get a two count. The move variety in this match is stunning as Goldberg hits a fourth spear. Goldberg tries the Jackhammer, but Strowman escapes and delivers three powerslams. A fourth powerslam, this one with a little trot beforehand, gets a three count for Strowman.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Okay, the match itself gets a definitive F, since precisely two moves were performed the entire time. The result, however, gets an A, as it puts a championship belt on a man who truly deserves it. So, we’ll split the difference and give the total package a C, which is pretty generous.
We have the setup package for AJ Styles and The Undertaker up next. I’m torn on this match. There’s no way they should still be getting the 269-year-old Undertaker out of mothballs for another match. His last three or four have been agonizingly bad. However, AJ Styles is playing up the heel like an absolute pro. This match is going to be a complete train wreck, but Styles has made me want to watch it. As I continue to watch this hour-long buildup, I can only hope that the match is slightly better than the one I just watched.
Oh, wait, this is actually the beginning of the match?!? Oh God, this is going to be bad.
AJ Styles vs. The Undertaker
This match will feature the biker version of The Undertaker, which I think is DLC, and will cost him $2.99. I have a feeling this match is going to be heavily edited…which I guess is a good idea. In addition to helpful editing, we’re also going to get helpful Foley! This is just like watching a SyFy channel movie…Return of the Barely Living Peepaw!
So, as far as the “match” goes, Undertaker beats on Styles until he throws a handful of dirt in his face. Styles finally gets a little offense in, and then tries to punch Taker into the grave he’s got ready, that has moss all over it and TOTALLY doesn’t say AJ Styles on it. Four punches can’t send Taker down, but one punch from Taker sends Styles in the hole. Just as Taker’s about to finish the job, Gallows and Anderson come out and…oh, come on…seriously? That’s it, I’m done with this. Eventually, the Undertaker dumps Styles in the hole and covers him with dirt. The end.
Winner: No one…at all.
This was horrible. Yes, we all know wrestling isn’t real, but this was stupid even by WWE standards. I guess the only way we can have the Undertaker look any semblance of competent anymore is by making him the hero of a horrible C-list movie that would be on at 1:00 AM on the SyFy Channel. This “match” ranked right up there was the Sharknado flicks.
And on that horrendous note, we end the first night of WrestleMania.
Part Two, Sunday April 5
We start with more Stephanie, the same dopey intro, and more Gronk…that’s three strikes; let’s get to the action.
Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley
NXT Women’s Championship Match
Charlotte’s robe is molting. Sorry, just a random observation.
Shit talking and posturing by Flair is finally stopped by a sloppy “RipTide” by Ripley. Flair rolls out of the ring and does some more heel-ish stuff to maintain control. Ripley takes control outside and keeps it for a little while, applying a leg scissors and then paintbrushes Flair for a few seconds. Eventually, Flair starts to work Ripley’s leg while both women scream a whole bunch. The rest of the match sort of ebbs and flows the same way, with Ripley gaining some momentum, only to have Flair target the leg again. Ripley applies a nifty standing reverse Texas Clover Leaf. Flair escapes and tries to apply the Figure Four and Ripley keeps fighting her off. Flair counters a Ripley superplex; Ripley counters a Flair moonsault; Flair spears Ripley; Flair locks the Figure Four on in the middle of the ring and then turns it into the Figure Eight….and Ripley taps.
Winner: Charlotte Flair
Ripley started a little sloppy, but turned in a nice performance. This match wasn’t anything special, but was very good. Nice pacing and some good spots.
Somebody thought it would be a good idea to give Big Show a sitcom. Sure, why not?
Aleister Black vs. Bobbly Lashley
There are like 50 guys they could’ve put in the ring with Black and Lashley’s the best they could come up with? Ugh.
Bobby Lashley looking straight up like Zeus in this outfit…old school reference for you.
This match is 80 percent Lashley and 20 percent Black, until Lashley’s about to finish things off, but Lana gets on the apron and screams at Lashley to spear him. The spear, to no one’s surprise, fails miserably. Black kicks Lashley’s chin straight off his face with Black Mass to get the win.
Winner: Aleister Black
Eh, that match was there. The ending was super predictable and Black barely got a half dozen offensive moves in (if you count each punch and kick as a move), but I guess this match was okay. Let’s move Black on to something better, please.
So, while I was out of the room last night getting my power cord, Mojo Rawley won the 24/7 “Championship.” Thrilling.
Gronk wants to win the 24/7 championship back by, and I quote, “the end of the tonight.” Sigh.
Dolph Ziggler (with Sonya Deville) vs. Otis (without Tucker)
A quick start by Otis is stopped cold by a Ziggler superkick. Ziggler gains control and keeps it until Otis does some weird gyrations and a few pelvic thrusts. Ziggler starts beating the bejeebus out of Ziggler, taking the action to the floor. Deville distracts the ref, which stops The Capterpillar and allows Ziggler to kick Otis in his…well, little Caterpillar. Mandy Rose comes out and smacks Deville, because it was revealed before the match that she sabotaged Mandy’s and Otis’s date. Mandy Rose then goes over and socks Ziggler in his…well, little Ziggler. One Caterpillar later and we have a winner!
Another average match, but Otis is so darned likeable, AND he gets the girl, so I’ll up this half a letter grade.
Edge vs. Randy Orton
Last Man Standing Match
Edge waits patiently for Orton to attack him…err, to come down the ramp.
Okay, I took a ton of notes on this match because I didn’t realize it was going to go for close to 45 minutes, but the match really didn’t merit a long, rambling recap. The match was a pretty standard falls count anywhere match, where the two guys do a lot of walking and smacking each other into stuff. That all happened here, with a couple high points in the weight room, a conference room, and then ultimately on the back of a semi. The end came, after what seemed like an eternity, when Edge puts a weird half nelson sleeper on Orton and then wakes him up only to hit the Con-Chair-To on him, which knocked him out for the 10 count.
I’ve never been a huge fan of these types of matches…there’s too much walking around and simply banging people’s heads into random things. Sure, there was some emotional impact to this and there were a couple decent spots, but man, was there a lot of walking and breathing heavy. All in all, this was a slightly better than average match. I’m just glad to see Edge go out on his terms, if this was his last match.
I wonder if the announcers are paid a bonus for each time they say “Wrestlemania moment.” It’s not as impactful when you say it every match.
A bunch of guys are chasing Mojo Rawley. Gronk stage dives off his perch and pins Rawley to win the 24/7 belt. Gronk runs for his life.
Somehow we’re going another Edge video package…didn’t we just spend six hours with him? Let’s move on.
Austin Theory and Angel Garza (with Zelina Vega) vs. The Street Profits
RAW Tag Team Championship Match
I guess Andrade was supposed to be in the match, because that’s who’s in the graphic above, but Austin Theory took his place. We learn something new every day!
Despite the fact that I know very little about these four guys, I just sat back and enjoyed the match. Ironically, the previous match had a great setup, but was long a bit boring. This match was sort of cobbled together at the last minute and had some great action, but was far too short.
Anyway, Theory looks like he’s got the match won, but Montez Ford hits a leaping splash to break up the pin. Dawkins rolls over and covers him to get the win.
After the match, the challengers sneak attach The Street Profits until Bianca Belair comes in and attacks Zelina Vega and then whips her hair around…for some reason.
Winners: The Street Profits
Again, a decent enough match, but it was too short and had no real backstory. If they would’ve clipped 15 minutes off the last match and added it here, this would’ve been a B+ or A-. As it stands, it was better-than-average filler.
Sasha Banks vs. Naomi vs. Lacey Evans vs. Tamina vs. Bayley
Fatal Five-Way Elimination Match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
Yes, one of the women in the picture above wasn’t in the match. Damn you, coronavirus!
The match starts with everyone attacking Tamina. That fails. Lacey Evans finally takes Tamina down with a chop block, and the other women take turns beating on Tamina until she rolls to the outside. The other four women team up, with Bayley and Banks teaming up against Naomi and Evans. Then the face team turns on each other only have Tamina come back in the ring and slaughter everyone again. Ass splash by Tamina in the corner on the faces. Tamina spends the next minute or so pinning everyone, just to have them kick out. A mini reunion of Tamina, Banks, and Naomi ends after about three seconds when Tamina turns on them. Finally, every woman teams up on Tamina and hits various moonsaults and splashes off the ropes. All four other competitors climb on Tamina and get a three count.
Again, we see Bayley and Banks team up, first targeting Naomi. Naomi fights aback and even manages a double sunset flip that gets a two count. She stuns Bayley and hits a leaping ass strike on Banks. Naomi slaps a submission hold on Banks, but Bayley makes the save. This allows Banks to apply the Bank Statement to submit Naomi. Shouldn’t it be “Banks Statement?” That would be cooler and more apropos.
Bayley and Banks taunt Evans, who’s still selling getting slammed into the steps. They immediately beat on he as soon as she gets in the ring. Evans escapes the double team by moving out of a Bayley corner charge, and Bayley knees Banks right in the noggin. Uh oh, it’s trouble in paradise, as Banks is back in to fight with Bayley. A nifty sequence sees Bayley save Banks from a charging Evans, only to have Banks get ruined by the Woman’s Right. Evans pins Banks.
Evans takes control, but not for long, as Bayley throws her shoulder first into the ring post. Banks works the shoulder like an absolute beast, going so far as to tie her arm to the corner using the tag rope. I just noticed Bayley’s tights have an X through the little hugger guy she used to have on all her merch. Nifty. Evans finally fights back with a boot to the face and unties herself. She onloads with kicks on Bayley and then hits a handstand bronco buster in the corner. Evans climbs to the top and hits a sweet leaping moonsault. Since this is no disqualification, Banks runs in, hits a Backstabber on Evans, which allows Bayley to get the pin.
Sure, this match didn’t have any “flavor of the month” newcomers like the other two women’s matches, but it had good, solid veterans (except maybe Evans, who did well, but is still green) who did a great job in this match. This match was the perfect length, had some great spots and great logic, and told a good story. Others may not love it, but this was a great, solid match.
Now we’re getting a package for the Cena/Wyatt match. I’m sure this is going to be like the Undertaker match…I’m going to have my finger over the Shift and F keys the entire time. I will, however, give it a shot.
At least the setup video package for this match was intriguing.
John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt (and/or The Fiend)
Firefly Funhouse Match
Okay, this was another produced segment and not a match, but it was far more entertaining and told a much better story than “Undertaker is unbeatable and AJ Styles is a giant wuss.” Basically, the gist of this is that Cena buried Wyatt six years ago and is a big bully. Wyatt took Cena on a journey through his career, including his debut on SmackDown and his time as the “Doctor of Thuganomics.”
Highlights of this segment included:
- Wyatt calling Cena “Johnny Large Meat”
- A Vince “Mr. McBossman” McMahon puppet
- Wyatt wearing a tie dye fanny pack
- The Doctor of Thuganomics John Cena only being able to talk in rhyme
- Fantastic Emerald Nuts product placement
- An NWO segment, including Cena doing a hysterical mocking of Hulk Hogan
Winner: The Fiend?
Okay, that was at least funny and not slow, long, predictable, and boring like the previous night’s segment. This segment didn’t take itself too seriously and actually told a deeper story that’s been developing since Wyatt and Cena met six years ago. So, I’ll give this a slightly better than average score. It actually made me chuckle a bit.
Well, now it’s time for the main event of the entire….event.
Drew McIntyre vs. Brock Lesnar
WWE Universal Championship Match
McIntyre tries to end things early with a Cleymore that doesn’t do the job. Lesnar hits three suplexes and an F-5…and gets a one count. A second F-5 gets a two count. Logic dictates…one more should do the trick….and a third F-5 gets a 2.6 count…well, so much for my logic. McIntyre escapes a fourth F-5 and hits three Cleymore Kicks in a row to get the pin. Ummm…okay.
Winner: Drew McIntyre
So, two WWE decided to air two championship “main event” matches that contained a total of five moves…unless you count punches, because Brock threw a few punches. Like the Goldberg-Strowman match, at least the right guy won in this one, but other than that, this match was sorta’ ridiculous. Hopefully, taking the belt off two part-time performers who can barely go five minutes will make for slightly better championship matches.
And with that, I’m done.
Overall Grade: C
There were a few high points, but overall this WrestleMania was about as middle of the road as it gets. I’m sure many will blame it on the lack of a crowd, but in some cases, a lack of a crowd actually helped, as it allowed the performers’ personalities to shine through a bit. The fact that some superstars didn’t participate was what really hurt them, but if they would’ve trimmed off a few of the filler matches, and given more time to the better matches, this could’ve been a decent PPV, in spite of the limited roster.
If you have WWE Network, skip some of the filler matches and the less interesting stuff and skip to the stuff you want to see. I highly recommend the SmackDown women’s championship match, the three-way ladder match, and the Rollins-Owens match. I also think the Cena-Wyatt segment was worth a watch, especially if you’ve been following wrestling since Cena’s debut.
Anyway, that’s it from me! Have a great day!