Squared Circle Thoughts | Wrestlemania 33 & The Undertaker

So, the ”Ultimate Thrill Ride” (glad we’re finally done hearing that) is finally in the books. On Monday morning I got up early, made a nice, big, fat cup of coffee, sat down, relaxed and sat through this extremely, unnecessarily long event, hoping and praying that it would be a much better show than last year and worth the time and effort put in. In all honestly, no bullshit… even with the excessive running time… It was a great fucking show!

This, in my opinion was one of the best Wrestlemanias in the last few years. Was it a perfect show? Hell no. Was it a damn good one though? For sure. From some really good matches, to an awesome return and a sad but great ending, I enjoyed it from top to bottom. So, I have a lot to cover here, so let me get this started.

The first thing I want to talk about is the stage set.

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Incredible. Best one they’ve ever done if you ask me. Just immense.

Now on to the action.

Kickoff Show:

Neville (c) vs Austin Aries (Cruiserweight Title)

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As expected, these two put on a great fucking match. Great way to open the show… well, the pre-show, but the show nonetheless. High flying, hard hitting, sick spots galore, these two brought it. It sucks it wasn’t on the main card, but who cares. It was still a great match. There are plenty of other matches that can potentially steal the main show, so they can have the pre-show. Neville wins and keeps the belt, and i’m okay with it.

Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

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Just another decent at best schmaz match with nothing of note happening. Killian Dain was in it and I was hoping he’d win it after Braun, Harper and Zayn were eliminated, but nope, instead we got Mojo Fucking Rawley. Woo-fuckity-hoo. So, yeah, didn’t care for this one at all. Next…

Dean Ambrose (c) vs Baron Corbin (Intercontinental Title)

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I was shocked to see this one on the pre-show, but I guess it makes sense. It was an okay match. I like both these guys and I was hoping Baron would get the belt, which didn’t happen, but it’s fine. Still a decent at best match that will probably lead to another down the road.

Main Show:

Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles

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Starting the main show off. I was shocked to see this one jerking the curtain. You would think this would be one of the top marquee matches way up there on the card. However, it did serve it’s purpose. This was a great opener that had what you would expect from these two. Shane still being Shane, the crazy motherfucker that he is, taking his usual crazy bumps and highspots. AJ being AJ, one of the best in the entire company and in the world, doing all the awesome stuff he does. Overall, these two put on a great match. It was exactly what it needed to be, a little surprising chain wrestling in the beginning, but for the most part, a brawl with sick bumps. Shane pulling out some cool stuff like the missed shooting star press and countering AJ’s 450 with a triangle choke, which led to a one-armed Styles Clash, the usual Shane spots like the elbow off the top rope through the announcers table (missed) and the coast to coast.

Overall, great match and great opener! AJ can have a good match with anybody, so it isn’t surprising. Some may be disappointed or mad that it went on first, but to me, it was well worth it.

Chris Jericho (c) vs Kevin Owens (United States Title)

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Next we have the two former ”best friends” battling for the US title. The ever so entertaining duo of Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho, who has had perhaps one of the best years of his career, had one of the stronger, more entertaining angles going into Mania, especially once the Goldberg stuff was over. The match itself, however, was kinda bland, to be honest. These two are great, but they just didn’t mesh too well in this match. Maybe it was due to time constraints (yeah, right) or they just held back for whatever reason or whatever, but it just wasn’t that great. Maybe they’ll have another match in the near future and it’ll be better, but this one was just… meh.

Anyway, Owens wins the title. The right move if you ask me. Jericho is going away for a while to tour with Fozzy, so it makes sense.

Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match: Bayley (c) vs Nia Jax vs Sasha Banks vs Charlotte Flair (Raw Womens Title)

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On to the first womens match of the night. The Raw Womens Title was on the line in a Fatal 4 Way Elimination Match with the main 4 Raw ladies that have been at the helm since the draft back in July. This match, much like the last one, was also just meh. Not a very exiting match. A few really good spots like Charlotte’s corkscrew moonsault thing to the outside, which is incredible, and a few other things, but other than that, nothing too special overall. Nia was eliminated first, which sucked considering she’s supposed to be a monster, but it’s WWE, so what else can you expect, and Bailey wins and retains the title, which was also shocking. I thought for sure Charlotte would win it, but guess not. Okay then.

Again, just a weak match overall. Hopefully soon the Raw brand gets some new faces into the womens division, because they surely need it.

Fatal 4-Way Ladder Match: Gallows & Anderson (c) vs Enzo & Cass vs Sheamus & Cesaro vs The Hardy Boyz (Raw Tag Team Titles)

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I, and i’m sure many others thought this would be one of the weakest matches on the show. Not much interest was generated for this one leading up to it. However, right before it got started, New Day shows up, they announce a 4th team into the match, and we were all proven dead wrong.

The Hardy Boyz return to WWE at last!

The signature Hardyz theme hits to a huge pop and they run down that enormous ramp to the ring and this match instantly becomes that much better. This was a great match and one of the highlights of the entire show. Each team killed it and the Hardyz busted out sick spots like it was 2001 allover again. Including somewhat of a recreation of Jeff’s infamous swanton bomb off the top of a ladder at Wrestlemania 16… I mean “2000”, that this time, involves Sheamus and Cesaro on top of two bridging ladders from the ring to the guardrail. Brutal.

And the biggest shocker of all. Right after that spot takes place, Matt retrieves the belts and the Hardyz become the new Raw Tag Team Champions. Holy fuck. Excellent match and awesome moment. My childhood favorites are back and I couldn’t be happier. Not the Broken Hardys, unfortunately, but still awesome.

John Cena & Nikki Bella vs The Miz & Maryse

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Next we have a match that a lot of people were disappointed about coming to fruition, but the build-up surely changed that. This is a match that no one really wanted to see until the weeks leading up to Mania, mainly because The Miz has been doing easily, his best work of his entire career. Promo and wrestling-wise. People may have wanted to see John Cena in another match a Mania, maybe with an up and coming star on the rise like Baron Corbin or Apollo Crews or something, or maybe even against The Undertaker, which a lot of people thought would happen, but this is what they got instead. The weeks leading up to this match, however, especially with the Cena/Bella parody that Miz & Maryse put on, sure as hell grabbed everyone’s attention, as it was some pretty golden stuff.

The match itself, however… not so much.

The match that this feud culminated in was anything but attention-grabbing. It was a pretty dull match from start to finish that ended the way we all saw coming; with The Miz & Maryse getting damn near squashed. Didn’t see that coming, right? Oh well. The match itself wasn’t what mattered. What mattered was what happened afterward.

After the match is over and Miz & Maryse bugger off, the thing we all saw coming from miles away happened. Cena grabs a mic, gets on one knee and proposes to Nikki Bella, to which she accepts (Awwwwww… puke). Good for them and good for Total Bellas’ ratings. Overall, not too good of a match, but i served it’s purpose.

Non-Sanctioned Match: Seth Rollins vs Triple H

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Next we have one of my most anticipated matches of the night. After months and months of a cold, stagnant build, Seth Rollins and Triple H finally collide, and due to Rollins’ injury, they work around it by making it an Unsanctioned Match (anything goes). First we get the entrances. Triple H with his usual flashy, over the top, but weakest yet entrance, which saw him ride in on a Trike with Stephanie, looking hotter than ever riding in the back, all the way down that 80-yard ramp and around the ring. Again, not his best, but cool for what it was. Then we get Seth’s, which to me, was much cooler. Stabbing a flaming sword into the ground and sending animated flames down the ramp and metaphorically burning the place down. Pretty great. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I dug it!

Anyway, on to the match. It was good for what it was. Some good back and forth action, cool spots and such, but nothing all that exiting. The biggest thing was the table bump Stephanie took towards the end. Wow. That was pretty shocking. Then Seth wins by beating Trips with the pedigree (his own move). That was that. Again, good match overall, but nothing too compelling. No Samoa Joe either. *Shrugs*

Bray Wyatt (c) vs Randy Orton (WWE World Title)

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Now we get to easily the weakest and most disappointing match of the night. The build-up to this match was very wacky and involved a lot of cheesy, unnecessarily over the top angles & segments like Randy Orton committing arson in front of the world and Bray Wyatt rubbing dirt allover himself from Sister Abigail’s grave (which was actually pretty cool). What happened during this match was just as over the top. The projected images of maggots, worms and cockroaches or whatever was pretty damn weird. It makes sense for Wyatt’s character and I know he’s the one they like to use all these effects for, but that had me like “uhh… okay”. The rest on the match was just blah at best. Nothing special at all.

And in the end, Orton wins and becomes champ for the 13th time. Why? I don’t know, but it happened. I feel bad for Bray, but it’s whatever. Belts are props anyway, so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad. Overall, just crap.

Goldberg (c) vs Brock Lesnar (WWE Universal Title)

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When this match was first announced for Survivor Series back in November, I couldn’t believe people actually wanted to see it after that stinker these two put on at Wrestlemania XX back in 2004, especially now that their both older now and way past their prime. The quick 2-minute match we got with Goldberg squashing Brock as a result didn’t change my mind on that either. We then got some more of it at Royal Rumble with Goldberg bitching Brock out AGAIN. Definitely didn’t change my mind. This match, however, kinda did. This was easily the best match these two have EVER had. Still nothing too off the wall or exhilarating, but it was still a good 5 minute brawl with suplexes and spears, including a spear through the barricade. As a friend of mine said on Tumblr, it was real hoss shit. It sure as hell was. It was a good back and forth this time with some good action and Brock finally picks up a win with multiple German suplexes and an F5. Good stuff. We now have a part-time Universal champion, possibly until next years Mania, if the rumored main event for it comes to fruition.

Six Pack Challenge: Alexa Bliss (c) vs Natalya vs Carmella vs Naomi vs Becky Lynch vs Mickie James (SmackDown Womens Title)

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Well, what do you know, the women get the semi-main event. congrats to them! Anyway, this was a pretty decent match. Schmaz matches like this tend to be a little dull and screwy, but they pulled out a pretty good one, as you would expect from the SmackDown talents. Naomi wins it in the end and reclaims the title she was forced to relinquish due to injury in her hometown. Good for her. She’s been killing it since the brand split.

The Undertaker vs Roman Reigns

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Main event time. Many expected Brock & Goldberg to close out the show, myself included, but there is a reason this one did. Jim Ross came out to do commentary for it as well. Also a reason for that. Not many were looking forward to this match, mainly because of Roman Reigns, of course, but now they had even more of a reason not to look forward to it. This match was the last we’ll see in the ring of The Undertaker.

Well, the match itself was really nothing special. Taker couldn’t do too much due to his recent health issues, his age and his run down body, so we couldn’t expect too much out of him nor fault him for it. He did the best could. Roman had to hold back himself due to it. It was a no DQ match, so they got to work around it that way, but how wild could they have really gotten?

In the end, after a few superman punches and spears, Roman picks up the win. What happens afterward was the most impactful thing of not only the match, but the entire night. Undertaker, in the midst of a standing ovation by the tens of thousands of fans, leaves his gloves, jacket & hat in the middle of the ring, walks off, gets lowered down into the ramp while doing his signature fist in the air gesture and the lights, screens and entire set goes out. This was a site that had me in awe as the near 6-hour show came to a close. The Undertaker, without uttering a word, said goodbye. The 27-year career of the Deadman has come to a close. Tears of fans worldwide fell like rain as the show went off the air. Just wow.

So, overall, it was a great Wrestlemania. Aside from the things I bitched about, I enjoyed it. It was MUCH better than last year’s show. That’s for damn sure, so big ups to WWE for that. It was also a pretty damn good weekend for me. I got to catch up on some new albums and see a really good movie (review on that coming next), so that added to the excitement. I’m definitely doing it again next year. Hopefully it’ll be just as good, or even better.

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That’s if for my review, but i’m not done. Now to talk about the biggest thing we got out of this. The thing that makes this Wrestlemania so massive: The Undertaker.

The Undertaker was an anomaly. A once in a lifetime figure that has impacted the childhood AND adulthood of millions of people around the globe. He took a character that if done by anyone else, would not have lasted as long as it did, made it his own and reinvented it over and over again with great success. He made something work and kept it fresh for over 2 decades and garnered the love and adulation of generations of fans, including myself. From seeing him on my aunt & grandmother’s television sets as a kid in the early 90s to watching him on SmackDown regularly as a teenager/young adult to watching him every Wrestlemania, wondering if the streak would end or not as an older adult, which of course led to absolute shock when it was finally done by Brock Lesnar at Wrestlemania 30, I pretty much grew up with The Undertaker on my television screen. I can’t even say that about actors who were part of my childhood like Robin Williams or Jim Carey, who faded off after a while. I’m not a big movie fan these days, aside from Horror, but wrestling is something I’ve always been and always will be a fan of, and the Undertaker was always a part of that. Whether he was a mortician with superpowers, a crazy cult leader or a biker, he played every role he had to perfection without a single moment of corniness or cheap imitation. He was believable, admired and feared by all.

No character has ever had the longevity or the continuous veneration of audiences around the world that The Undertaker had. Even as a vicious asshole heel in the early 2000s, it was hard to boo him. He had a certain type of aura that people gravitated to and made them want to see more of him as the years went on and became decades. As he got older and became the phenomenon that he did, he became a locker room leader and one of the veterans that young upstarts went to for advise or an opinion on what they can improve about their work. A veteran who’s brain people liked to pick. He was part of every WWE locker room for almost 30 years, through all the changes it went through, through all the roster changes, through the time of everyone who came and went throughout those two and a half decades, he saw it all. He was the one constant within the talent pool. Very loyal and trustworthy to the McMahon family and all who looked up to him.

There was nobody like him. Before during or after. He was one of the main attractions of Wrestlemania throughout his time in WWE and it sure as hell will never be the same without him. His career spans almost throughout the entire existence of Wrestlemania, only missing a few years before his debut. Very few others get to say that. His character was without a doubt the greatest character in Wrestling history and as a friend of mine said, he is perhaps the one true face of WWE. There was never one before him and there will never be another. And regardless of how you feel about Roman Reigns, Taker did what he felt was right in putting him over as the new ”big dog” of the yard. Passing the torch to the next generation is the right thing to do and it had to happen. We all know, however, that it will ALWAYS be his yard.

So, thank you, Mark Calaway. Thank you for the last 27 years of putting your body on the line for our entertainment and portraying one of, if not THE most compelling character in the history of professional wrestling while doing so. It’s been a wild ride and you deserve all the respect in the world for it. We love you and look forward to the day you go into the WWE Hall of Fame. Enjoy your life now. You’ve given us more than enough. Thank you.

With that, I give you this as a tribute: One of the best Metal songs about a wrestler I’ve ever heard. Take it away, Hammerlord!

Until next time.

-Scvm

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