Well what a mixed night of wrestling. For me it was a night where the WWE started off at a joyous canter but somewhere along the line stumbled, tripped and by the end of it all fell straight off a cliff.
To be honest I had to forcibly remove myself from all thoughts of wrestling after the main event, lest I begin to question the life choices that brought me to the point where I took a day off work to watch something that was frustrating me so much.
But you know what? I was so pumped for this and while the end may not have gone the way I would have liked, I freaking loved the first few hours of tonight’s show. So on that note and in that spirit I wanted to come here and get stuck in with the biggest winners and losers of Wrestlemania 34.
Let’s get it out of the way up front. Can anybody stop this guy? USADA fell before his mighty weight when he fought in the UFC, not having a valid contract seemingly doesn’t stand in his way here, no wonder Roman Reigns couldn’t stop his vicious onslaught.
If I had picked one match I was dead certain would go one way this Mania it was that Roman Reigns would win this match. That this match was utter trash and potentially spoiled what was shaping up to be quite a good card is beside the point here because within the universe there is no doubt that with this win Brock Lesnar is still the final boss of the WWE, standing at the top of a mountain no one is even close to being able to climb.
Wait, does anyone still have Goldberg’s number?
It may sound like hyperbole but for me Seth Rollins burnt the Superdome to the ground with his fantastic triple threat opener for the Intercontinental Title.
Along with Finn Balor and The Miz he delivered on the hot opener position, putting on a match full of great back and forth counters as the the trio built off their previous times against one another on the road to a very well executed finish. The educated nature of the conflict was highlighted by Balor using the 1916, a move he hasn’t pulled out of the toolbox since he beat Rollins for the Universal Title in 2016.
Rollins, a character who craves success but whose last singles championship run was tainted with the stench of The Authority, now gets a chance to redeem himself with one of the company’s most prestigious titles. This win also sets up all sorts of interesting possibilities for Rollins as the main full time title holder on Raw, as of tomorrow welcome to Monday Night Rollins, a development I am most looking forward to.
If it wasn’t clear before this match, it is now, Charlotte Flair is on track to become the greatest female wrestler of all time and after tonight there is a strong argument that she already is.
Coming up against the undefeated Asuka in the first women’s one on one Wrestlemania match of any substance since Mickie James v Trish Stratus at Wrestlemana 22, Charlotte got a truly epic entrance and weathered an early storm from Asuka, taking a bevy of hard strikes, a triangle choke and a brutal suplex off the apron to the floor. The match turned in Charlotte’s favour after a huge Spanish Fly off the top turnbuckle (someone’s been watching the Cruiserweight Tournament) and from that point on it was more or less one way traffic.
Hopefully there will be a rematch in store but from this point it is hard to imagine anyone in the women’s division posing too much of a problem for the second generation superstar…… Well maybe there is just one.
The WWE’s biggest celebrity signing in years gets a big tick of approval for her in-ring debut in a stupid, but surprisingly fun match that played to the crowd and ended perfectly.
We all knew it was eventually going to come down to an armbar on Stephanie but the way they first teased the move, then drew it out at the end was extremely well done, especially given Rousey is a complete rookie.
As a lapsed MMA fan I am just happy Rousey is happy out in front of a crowd again; she left MMA on such a sour note but seems to have completely fallen on her feet in the WWE. Her Piper-esq packaging is on point and in the ring she seems to be catching on very quickly. The main roster now awaits and she clearly has a passion and love for the business that will combine with her obvious physical talents to create quite a compelling personality.
Not to be outdone by the other two women already on this list, Nia Jax took out the Raw Women’s Championship and capped it off with a genuinely touching moment, crying real tears as she accepted the championship and posed on the ramp on the way to the back.
The WWE has faltered a number of times with Jax’s build in the past but they well and truly stuck the landing on the climax of her arc with Alexa Bliss. The pair put on an intelligent match that played to the character strengths of both wrestlers and showed that it is not just in work rate that the women on the roster are catching up to the men but also in ring storytelling.
Behind the opening triple threat and possibly Daniel Bryan’s return it was the women that carried tonight’s card for me and Nia Jax played a key role in giving women’s wrestling such a high profile at Wrestlemania 34.
As I said at the top there was a moment straight after this card that I was contemplating throwing in my WWE fandom and Network subscription all together. While I have come down from that ledge and potentially dialed back on the hysteria a bit, I can guarantee you that there are people feeling exactly the same and who want to take action.
Indy wrestling and NJPW are having a moment in the sun at just the right time to meet this potential backlash against the WWE’s long term booking issues and having recently started watching them I can certainly give them a thumbs up. They take wrestling story telling and in ring action seriously and I for one have been refreshed by their approach.
When the WWE gets it right there is very little in entertainment that is as good (just check out my NXT TakeOver column) but if the WWE wanted to drive people into the arms of the competition then they are really working overtime. Hopefully NJPW have added a few extra servers for their next PPV.
Meme Lords The World Over
Finally on the winners side, I’m not sure if you were following things as closely as me but Braun Strowman’s unlikely partner Nicholas has become the kid that launched a thousand memes.
I’m not planning on stealing any of them by posting them here but if you have a peak on Twitter it won’t be hard to fine the countless quips about part time talent getting all the titles, missing school for title defences, Nicholas’s potential suspect social media past as an alt-right ring leader and up to the minute reports of the kidnapping situation that played out live on TV. I say fill your boots lads.
The table had been set and the champagne uncorked for Roman Reigns final coronation at the head of the WWE but it wasn’t to be tonight. Not only did Roman Reigns get dominated by Brock Lesnar in an absolutely pitiful effort of a match, much of what he did last year was also undone with the return of The Undertaker he supposedly retired last year.
Since Wrestlemania 31 it has felt like all Roman roads would be leading to Brock but when he finally got there the WWE decided not to pull the trigger on the supposed biggest star of this generation.
Given how Reigns has been treated up until this point it is hard to know exactly what will be next for The Big Dog but it is fair to say he ended tonight with more of a whimper than a woof.
Twice now Nakamura has got to the main event level at one of the WWE’s biggest shows, had the red carpet rolled out with a special video package and epic entrance, only for him to massively under deliver in a one on one match.
To be fair to both Nakamura and Styles it would have been impossible for them to deliver a match that lived up to the incredible hype their outing received in the lead up to Wrestlemania. However that will not stop management laying the blame for the audience sapping vibe their match seemed to posses and I feel it may fall at the feet of the guy who is still yet to have a really good match on the main roster.
Nakamura has had a year of grace from even his most ardent fans but he has to do something soon to show he is more than an awesome entrance. A heel turn is a good start but I want to see him back it up with a more aggressive approach in the ring to really get that fire burning.
Smackdown Tag Division Class of 2017
The Usos and New Day demanded a match at Wrestlemania but I can’t imagine getting completely rolled by the Bludgeon Brothers was quite what they had in mind at the time.
On a card this full not every match gets the chance to be a show stealer but the guys who dominated the Smackdown Tag Division last year and set the bar for tag team excellence barely even got a chance to get their moves in on the way to a comprehensive loss.
I suppose it could have been worse though, they could have lost to a kid.
Just how many stadium beers did Big Match John drink during the pre-show and opening matches? I’ve heard stories about how many brews he can put away but the man must have been off his face to have lost to The Undertaker in a match that made his 2014 Summer Slam loss to Lesnar look positively 50/50.
Don’t get me wrong, Cena was a really fun member of the crowd early on but next Wrestlemania maybe be careful what you wish for John.
If I could end with a serious tone though, I don’t like being negative about wrestling, having fun with the losers column is one thing but ending a day I wanted to be a celebration on such a sour note is not something I relish. Hating on the WWE is not something I enjoy or have ever got a kick out of but sometimes despite its tremendous upside this company makes itself a hard one to love.
But over to you Lords of Pain, a lot happened that I didn’t even get to touch on so who did you have as your biggest winners and losers for Wrestlemania 34? Let me know in the comments below or you can read some more detailed feedback on the LOP forums. If you want to get started how about trying this creative piece about Wrestlemania by columns forum mainstay anonymous simply called Gone.