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Welcome to Mr. Tito‘s REVIEW of WWE‘s Wrestlemania 34 event exclusively here at LordsofPain.net / WrestlingHeadlines.com. Provided that I post this column as this show ends, I am preparing this column on-the-fly and it is a representation of my first impressions of the show. Usually for Wrestlemania, I watch it with a pair of old friends and it usually puts me in a decent mood for these reviews… Thus, a lousy show, in hindsight, like Wrestlemania 27 gets a decent review from me (HHH vs. Undertaker was great, I don’t care what anybody says). Writing the column during the show makes this a 6-7 hour marathon… So I’m always relieved when its over…
By the way, I did review NXT Takeover: New Orleans last night which you can read by Clicking Here. I gave the show a legitimate A+ with the opening Ladder Match and Gargano vs. Ciampa feeling like legitimate “Match of the Year” candidates to me. The show restored faith in NXT for me, as I was kinda “meh” about 2017’s shows as well as the first one of 2018. In one night, NXT proved to me that they can reload the gun but I’m already worrying that the RAW/Smackdown monster is due for another raid in the post-Wrestlemania 34 world. I predict Ember Moon, Andrade “Cien” Almas, Authors of Pain, and maybe EC3 are jumping to the main roster. Good luck to any of them if they go, but in my opinion, the WWE made a major mistake by NOT making NXT become the “brand extension”. NXT is like a hybrid of Indies, TNA, and New Japan with WWE’s production behind it… It is a perfect in-house alternative to the WWE main roster stuff.
Heading into Wrestlemania 34, I wasn’t always for this card… I’m not believing in wrestlers with initials of “R.R.”, as I’m tired of the never ending push of Roman Reigns and I don’t believe that former MMA fighter Ronda Rousey is a good fit for the WWE. Roman has been on a 4 year push and yet viewership (RAW is down 1 million) and attendance (down over a thousand per show) has declined as a response. That and he has already defeated many big names like CM Punk, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton, John Cena, HHH, and the Undertaker 100% clean and if you rewatch Wrestlemania 31, he was getting the better of Brock Lesnar as that match went on. Yet, he’s NOT over and growing the business as a top babyface should. Houseshows are especially suffering under his top guy tenure. With Ronda Rousey, I just get the sense that pro wrestling is “beneath her” and you can see it lately with Ronda getting really salty on sports shows when asked about the WWE and her past MMA losses. I think that she “settled” on the WWE and didn’t have any dreams or aspirations of joining the company. That, and she’s NOT properly trained to work as a pro wrestler. Someone like Brock Lesnar spent almost 2 years in Ohio Valley Wrestling before joining the main roster during 2002.
I’m also a bit sour on the many multi-person matches, the “everybody’s a winner” or “everybody gets a trophy” approach to Wrestlemania that makes me sick. I don’t want anybody to be denied a payday, but this show should be held at a higher standard. It should be held as a “carrot” for anyone to obtain if they had a great year. That and the multi-person matches HURTS the midcard because it tells fans that they cannot build a legitimate midcard singles feud. Both midcard titles (US and IC) and one of the Tag Title matches have multiple warm bodies in it and we’re also getting 2 Battle Royals. Why don’t you eliminate wins and losses while you’re at it, soft WWE?
HOWEVER – I became excited for a few interesting developments heading into Wrestlemania 34. The return of Daniel Bryan, my oh my… That is remarkable. WWE is blessed to have his star power back and I hope that he can remain healthy… Then, John Cena vs. Undertaker. That is a match-up that I’ve wanted to see for YEARS with Cena as a Main Eventer, especially at a Wrestlemania. Overall, I’m excited for Japanese wrestlers getting a valid opportunity to shine on WWE’s biggest show with Shinsuke Nakamura taking on AJ Styles and Asuka taking on Charlotte Flair. I could be excited for Nia Jax vs. Alexa Bliss, but I didn’t like the fat-shaming and I figure it will be placed on the card as a “piss break”.
How did I feel about the show? Well, let’s start the review…
Mr. Tito’s PHAT WWE Wrestlemania 34 Review
John Cena is sitting at ringside as a “fan” tonight, by the way… Drinking some beer, too…
The Andre “the Giant” Battle Royal opens the night at 5:37pm and we get Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross as commentators… But Byron Saxton too? Come on, man. To quote Kevin Nash, “everybody go to a corner and try not to blow out a knee”. Ring is VERY crowded with “trophy winners”… Too much action to comment on here, folks. Speaking on Dolph Ziggler, Jim Ross said “is he due to win one at Wrestlemania for God’s sakes?”. Burn! Lots of tag teams in this match, which I guess makes me more thankful that the RAW and Smackdown Tag Matches didn’t add more teams… And then, we get a COMMERCIAL BREAK in the middle of this Battle Royal (hyping Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns). What? Come on, WWE… Can’t you wait 3 more minutes to air that? As I see Fandango in this Battle Royal, I’m reminded that he has a CLEAN WIN over Chris Jericho at a previous Wrestlemania. Final 3 ended up being Mojo, Corbin, and Matt Hardy as 2 out of the 3 were previous Battle Royal winners. Those winners (Mojo/Corbin) began to team-up on Matt Hardy and then, lights out and Bray Wyatt appears. Mojo eliminated. Corbin hit an impressive “End of Days” on Bray Wyatt… However, Corbin gets eliminated by Matt Hardy after that finisher was hit. So… You are allowed to interfere in Battle Royals? I guess that since it is for a trophy, nobody cares. [ ** ] Afterward, Hardy and Wyatt embrace.
Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali as the finals of the Cruiserweight Title. Ali looks straight out of a Mortal Kombat game with his entrance. I’m surprised at how the ropes aren’t purple for this grand match. I honestly have zero connection to either guy and these guys aren’t doing anything special to stand out, other than that flipping double clothesline. Crowd is dead for this match, too. Then when they hit a big spot, such as they did with a flipping move off the top rope, it gets a brief pop and then back to silence. To further emphasize how meaningless this match is, the WWE airs HHH/Stephanie vs. Angle/Rousey promo airs in a split screen. Man, the WWE is really pushing that match HARD. Few additional spots later, Cedric hits a finisher to win the Cruiserweight Title. [ ** 1/2 ] Can we get PERSONALITIES in 205 Live, please? These robotic wrestlers need to go.
Fabulous Moolah Women’s Battle Royal, we have Paige and Beth Phoenix as guess commentators. We’re showing entrances for this Battle Royal… Oh wait, just Becky Lynch getting an entrance while the rest of them walk out to the Kid Rock Wrestlemania theme. Oh, spoke too soon… Bayley gets an entrance as I assume Sasha Banks gets one but the Paige Film promo with the Rock re-airs. You wonder why nobody on the midcard can get over if they are reduced to a minimum with WWE commercials airing instead of their full match. Good to see NXT talent getting a shot in this Battle Royal which you didn’t see in the Men’s Battle Royal. And then we get a toy commercial to in interrupt this match… UGH. Whoa, one of the NXT ladies uses her hair as a whip! Becky Lynch gets eliminated and boos were heard… Mickie James didn’t learn from the Royal Rumble in that you NEVER go to the top rope during battle royals! Come on, girl! Bayley and Sasha Banks team up to eliminate everyone else and now it’s one on one between these two. See internet, you got this match-up after all… Well, nevermind. Bayley thought she won but Naomi never got eliminated. Naomi hits her Butt finisher and eliminates Bayley. Yeah, didn’t Naomi win the Women’s Title last year? Tough road, 1 year later. [ **1/2 ]
**MAIN SHOW BEGINS**
2 ladies appearing as announced the “future of music” sing America the Beautiful. Like the guy who won the Master’s today, who?
OPENING MATCH was for the Intercontinental Title between Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor vs. the Miz (c). Is Seth Rollins wearing blue contacts? Miz, as champion, comes out second… ARGH. Champions come out last, WWE. Damn you spitting on tradition. Miz asks the Miztourage to return to the back to go at it alone tonight. No Demon tonight for Finn Balor but instead has a Balor Club salute to LGBTQ members (rainbows on his tights tonight). Fast action in this match, as you have a nice blend of talents here together to complement each other. Beautiful Froggy Splash by Rollins. Good sequence where Rollins hit Miz for a Buckle Bomb, Rollins hits a Superplex on Finn Balor but gets cradled when attempting another suplex, and then Miz sneaks in the Skull Crushing Finale for 2 count only on Rollins. Another nice spot was Miz hitting a top Rope Skull Crushing Finale on Rollins and then Balor hits his Coup de Grace on the pinning Miz. Balor hits another on Miz but Rollins sneaks in a takes out Balor and then hits the Blackout finisher on the Miz for the 1, 2, 3. High energy opener! [ **** ]
Up next, it is Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Asuka as Charlotte comes out first and she has an interesting entrance where she has Ric Flair’s theme music and she’s sitting in a throne with 3 servants in spartan outfits. Back and forth for much of the match, pretty even… Nice spot where Charlotte tried the Moonsault but Asuka caught it at the landing and locked in a submission. Copying what we saw last night at NXT (but that was off of a table), Asuka hit a suplex off the side of the ring to the floor. Then, Charlotte hit what looked like a flipping Rock Bottom off the top rope (I think?). Wow… Charlotte then tried a Natural Selection but got locked into a submission instead. Charlotte hits a beautiful Spear and then locks in the Figure 8. Asuka TAPS! Wow… Undefeated streak is over for Asuka. How about that? Solid match. [ *** 1/2 ] Afterward, Asuka gives Charlotte congrats and they embrace in the ring.
A referee runs to where John Cena is sitting and tells him to get ready for a match. Praying that it is THE match.
Next match is Bobby Roode vs. Rusev vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Randy Orton (c). Rusev is, of course, quite over thanks to Aiden English pumping up the crowd. Of course, Randy Orton would be the FIRST guy to be current champion and coming out last with entrances. If Rusev wants to continue to grow in popularity, he needs NEW MUSIC. Something that incorporates English and “Rusev Day”. Match was just mixing up wrestlers here and there with Orton commanding much of the early match. Powder, I mean Aiden English runs in and eats the RKO and several others eat that move too. Rusev recovers and begins working on Jinder Mahal. But as always, there is a Singh brother ringside to distract and that causes Rusev to fall prey to Jinder’s finisher. NEW United States Champion. [ ** 1/2 ] Dull match, actually, with only Randy Orton standing out with his typical offense. I guess we didn’t learn much after 2017, did we Smackdown brand? That is a momentum crushing loss for Rusev… OR, it could be the spark that ignites him. See Daniel Bryan’s 18 second loss.
Backstage, we have Fandango and Tyler Breeze doing a Snickers commercial with Mick Foley.
Up next, it’s Ronda Rousey/Kurt Angle vs. Triple H/Stephanie McMahon and is therefore NOT the Main Event. Good move, in my opinion, as I’d fear fans revolting at the end of the show. My favorite part of watching Wrestlemania with friends is how one of them makes fun of Triple H’s over-the-top entrances. This time, he has an army of motorcycles. Rousey comes out looking like Roddy Piper with a leather jacket and kilt (or mini-skirt?). Fans are cheering “Ronda Rousey” to start the match. Like I said, SMART MOVE to not make this Main Event. Early on, Stephanie gets in a few cheap shots before the match begins. By the way, this is the Wrestlemania RETURN for Kurt Angle… Anyone? Anyone excited for that significant return? Obviously, Triple H and Kurt Angle start off the match, as they should. Smart booking is to build up the “hot tag” as long as possible. Good storytelling to have Triple H almost ram Stephanie off the ringside, which plays up last year’s Wrestlemania incident. Stephanie pulled Rousey off the ring before the tag… Good heel move. HOT TAG! She runs after Stephanie like a ball of fire! Somehow, Stephanie McMahon can counter Rousey’s armbar that no other UFC fighter could avoid (well, besides 2). Stephanie then hits a kick and then a DDT on Ronda! Then Stephanie pulls Ronda’s arms back for a submission and then slams her to the ground! HOW IS THAT EVEN HAPPENING?!? She should KILL Stephanie in 2 seconds. Are you kidding me? Ronda goes for the pin but HHH breaks the pin and pulls her out of the ring. Angle comes to the rescue but fails to slam HHH on the announcer’s table. Now, it’s HHH and Ronda Rousey in the ring and Rousey gets the better of her. Rousey actually powers HHH into a Fireman’s Carry but Stephanie interferes and delivers yet another slap. Rousey chases Stephanie around the ring before getting fooled into being slammed into the ring post. Former UFC Champion, eh? Back inside the ring and we have HHH versus Kurt Angle and Angle gets the best of him, almost pins him with the Angle Slam. Stephanie then confronts Angle and tries to kick him. It was caught and he converted it to the Anklelock. HHH makes the save and goes for the Pedigree, but Rousey makes the save. HHH tries to Pedigree her but then tries to Powerbomb only for Rousey to reverse. Locks HHH into an armbar but Stephanie attacks with a chokehold. Rousey reverses that and has Stephanie’s arm locked. Then, HHH was locked into the Anklelock by HHH but HHH kicks Angle into Rousey to break that hold. Kurt goes shoulder into the post, Rousey does the same… Now, both HHH/Stephanie try Pedigrees but both get reversed. Stephanie is now alone and tries to fight off the armbar but Rousey overpowers her. Once it is locked in, Stephanie taps immediately. [ **** ] Great match for drama, Rousey looked good overall, and the match had tremendous heat. MY ONLY ISSUE is that Stephanie is a non-wrestler and yet she looked more dangerous to Rousey than ANY UFC Fighter (besides the 2 who beat Ronda). I gave the match 4 stars for being way better than expected. Rousey looked better than expected and hopefully, that grants her enthusiasm to learn more about the pro wrestling business.
Smackdown Tag Title match is up next, New Day vs. Bludgeon Brothers vs. Usos (c). Woods plays his trombone to call out a bunch of human pancakes. Better yet, 2 of the human pancakes could perform the worm dancemove… Usos, the champions, come out 2nd… Argh! Harper and Rowan are just stuck in a silly gimmick and 2 better Tag Teams have to sell everything for them as if they are inferior. The cheap Kane imitations (speaking on the costumes) dominate New Day and Usos to start the match. Usos are able to get in some offense but Rowan and Harper seem to have special healing powers tonight. Eventually, in this extended squash, the Bludgeons set up Kofi Kingston for a top rope powerbomb. This sucked and completely craps on the GOOD tag work done by the Usos and New Day last year. [ -** ] (negative 2 stars). FINGER OF SHAME for this garbage match.
John Cena comes out for what he thinks is his match… But Elias comes out instead. John Cena returns to his ringside seat and Elias plays for the Wrestlemania crowd. Eventually, John Cena has enough and attacks Elias. After John Cena disposes Elias, he tries to leave the ring… As he does, the lights go off and Undertaker’s gear appears in the ring (like it was during Wrestlemania 33). Then the gear disappears…. GONG, the music hits and eventually, the Undertaker appears. THANK GOD. Thank you wrestling Gods for finally delivering this match! Undertaker comes out swinging! Works on Cena’s arm and walks the ropes for some OLD SCHOOL! My friends remark “Cena has been drinking beer all night long!”. Missed that big boot, though… Oops! Cena reverses the chokeslam for a backdrop but then the 5 Nuckle Shuffle attempt only for Undertaker to sit up. Cena bumps like a champ for the next Chokeslam. Tombstone, it’s over. SQUASH… [ * ] Happy to see the Undertaker back and finally getting this match… But it was a squash. John Cena deserves BETTER, particularly after he got destroyed before by Brock Lesnar. WWE continues to crap on John Cena since SummerSlam 2014 and Cena has put over everybody without conflict. Damn that Big Boot missed by a foot! Lesson for other wrestlers… DON’T DRINK AND WRESTLE!
Hall of Famers come out next… Always a great moment.
Daniel Bryan/Shane McMahon vs. Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens is up next. I’m amazed that Shane is even healthy enough for this match, crazy SOB! Zayn and Owens do a brilliant sneak attack by not doing their entrance and sneaking into the ring. Early on, we have an injury spot with Daniel Bryan getting powerbombed onto the side of the ring. 2 on 1 to start the match, as these 2 full-time wrestlers should murder this non-wrestler show performs maybe 1-2 times per year. Plus he’s selling injuries… Shane is selling his midsection and of course, Owens is willing to oblige with kicking him there. Crowd is dead as Bryan is selling the injury and 2 on 1 versus Shane just isn’t thrilling… Shane eventually fights off 2 full-time wrestlers and hits a Van Terminator on Zayn across the ring. The announcers are SO IMPRESSED that he can operate despite that hernia injury. Daniel Bryan eventually recovers and Shane officially becomes “face in peril”. HOT TAG for Bryan and he’s wrestling as if he never lost a step. He does the drop kick as I worry about him hitting his head. Bryan is OK and works both guys in the corner. Shane is selling injury at ringside and then eats an Owens’s superkick to remain outside. Bryan kicks out of both Zayn’s kick and Owens’s Pop-up Powerbomb. Bryan records and Shane takes out Owens. “YES!” kicks to Zayn and the crowd is heavily into it. Bryan hits the knee and locks in the YES! Lock to make Zayn tap! Because Shane/Bryan won, that means that Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn are FIRED from WWE Smackdown. [ *** ]. Not really much of a tag match, as it was often 2 on 1 which makes Owens/Zayn look kinda bad. GREAT to see Daniel Bryan back as an in-ring performer. Afterward, Bryan embraced Brie Bella at ringside. Loved that! One thing I noticed was that Bryan wrestled with his wedding ring on for the match.
Paige shows us a preview of her upcoming biography film… Again. I’ve seen this like 4 times in the last 3 days of WWE Network viewing.
78,133 is the official attendance number.
Next, we have Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax… Nia is showing way more skin, under fishnets, than before. To start, Nia goes right after Mickie James to reduce the odds of Alexa winning. Jax was dominating her but then a poke to the eye and a hard kick to the leg, Alexa starts to take advantage. But really, that’s why most combat sports have weight classes. Bliss shouldn’t be able to hurt Jax much unless she had some unique striking ability. Or Nia runs like an idiot and dives into a corner’s ringpost. Stuff like that. Alexa Bliss keeps trying to work the leg and raking the eyes but Nia is just to powerful. Devastating Alabama Slam by Nia and then Nia murders Alexa with a Samoan Drop from the 2nd rope. NEW Women’s Champion! Extended squash with some OK psychology of Alexa Bliss trying to overcome the odds with eye pokes and leg strikes. [ ***1/4 ]
The WWE Title match between AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura is up next… Nakamura has a female guitar player shredding his entrance. Badass! Both wrestlers start off like blind men at an orgy, they were going to have to feel their way through. Basically, it’s a match of offense trading back and forth between two guys who heavily pre-planned each move of this match. Crowd is kinda quiet for the early goings of this match unless they are watching quietly “out of respect”. Yeah, internet fans would kill any other match with a crowd so silent that you can hear mini conversations from fans at ringside. Crowd wakes up a bit when they trade submission holds and then AJ Styles muscles out of it for a slam. AJ Styles takes to the air to get some reaction. I just don’t think Nakamura or his moveset are over, at least not with the majority of WWE fans. Nakamura hits his reverse exploder and runs after Styles only to be caught and inverted into the Styles Clash for the 1, 2, 3. [ *** 1/2 ] Didn’t do much for me, folks. NOT EVEN CLOSE to their Wrestle Kingdom match, nor was this exciting in the WWE environment. I was bored for stretches of this match and so was the New Orleans crowd which was silent for much of the match. Afterward, Nakamura actually shows personality by attacking AJ Styles after the match. So where was this personality BEFORE the match? You know, to hype it up and add HEAT to the match?
The Bar arrive to some New Orleans fanfare for their entrance, as it is 11:19pm here… Long show, folks. I’m sure the show’s length will get blamed for a lackluster Styles vs. Nakamura match. Excuses, excuses. Braun Strowman arrives as I legitimately ponder how the Mystery Partner might actually need to “save” this show. Seriously. Strowman shoves the Mardi Gras float out of the way and off the stage… Braun wants to legitimately look into the crowd for his tag wrestler. He walks through the crowd and picks a kid named Nicholas to be his tag partner. Alrighty then. Trolling crowd, of course, chants “we want Nicholas”. The Bar eventually gains the advantage on Braun and works him over with tag moves. Braun fights them off and actually tags in Nicholas but Nicholas quickly tags back in. Braun Strowman then destroys Cesaro with a Power Slam. 1, 2, 3… Seriously, the RAW Tag Titles just changed hands. [ -***** ] (Negative 5 Stars + a FINGER OF SHAME). Great moment for Nicholas, plant or not… But the Bar, who has been the accomplished Tag Team of the RAW brand, just got flushed down the toilet. Cesaro and Sheamus are not only ruined as a tag team, but feeling pretty low on the WWE roster right now. I don’t get it.
The MAIN EVENT was Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns as I’m begging for one of two things… For this match to be either (a) quick or (b) anything that exceeds my expectations and is great. Seriously. This show has gone off the rails through the 11:37pm point. 8 minute entrances to push this show to 11:45pm. 11:47pm after announcements and 3 German Suplexes to start. Then 2 Superman Punches. Another Superman on the outside. Roman tosses Lesnar back outside but Lesnar hits 2 belly-to-belly suplexes and then tries another rough looking one into the announcer’s table. “CM Punk” chants broke out. German #4 in the ring and Lesnar declares “Suplex City B*tch”. Hits a fifth. Another belly-to-belly. Yet another, which is 5 for my count. And because it’s a Roman Reigns match, the announcer’s tables will now get involved. Roman Reigns rams Lesnar into the ring post, much like he did during Wrestlemania 31. Roman then spears Lesnar onto the table. That looked good. Superman punch in the ring and then 2 spears. Goes for another spear but Lesnar hits him with a high knee as a counter. F5 by Lesnar but 2 count only. Second F5 also fails to pin Roman. Sigh… F5 #3 also fails to pin Roman. Ridiculous. F5 #4 is then delivered by Lesnar on the announcer table. Lesnar doesn’t try to cover and just stalls… German #6 and Lesnar is getting cocky. F5 #5 and Roman kicks out. “THIS IS AWFUL” chants break out. And now, Roman is bleeding heavily. Roman counters the 6th attempt and hits 2 Spears. HOW?!? THIS IS SO DAMN STUPID! Lesnar catches him and hits F5 #6 to RETAIN, HOLY COW. Lesnar won?!? Did he sign a new WWE deal? Wow @ that finish and I’m wondering if an audible was called because the New Orleans fans were crapping on this match? [ *** ]
LAST WORD: As I initially feared, the WWE has a Creative Team problem combined with a lack of star power on the roster. This was a bloated Wrestlemania that appeared, on paper, to look like a good card but the execution was poor and had terrible decisions made creatively. That, and matches hyped to be good were letdowns… Cena vs. Undertaker was a squash and Styles vs. Nakamura didn’t feel special. However, Ronda Rousey delivered on the hype and that was a huge gamble made by the WWE that paid off… But what now for Ronda after she slayed the biggest heel on the roster in Stephanie? I liked the IC Title match, too… The rest was OK to downright terrible. If Brock Lesnar is really leaving the WWE after Wrestlemania 34, it’s going to be a LONG summer unless the WWE can somehow find the next top drawing stars of tomorrow and be willing to push them based on what the fans want. Most will attempt to blame a long marathon of a show for matches “not getting good reaction” but something great has no boundaries for time wasted. [ C+ ] What a shame for what appeared to be a “stacked” Wrestlemania 34 card. I guess I was right weeks ago in my disappointment of the WWE and was shown fool’s gold for the past few weeks.
SO JUST CHILL… ‘TIL THE NEXT EPISODE!
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