Wrestling Review: WWE Wrestlemania 34 (2018)

[Please note: due to some screwy daylight savings times and the fact that the WWE Network itself said this started two hours later than it did, I missed the entire pre-show. I’ll go back and watch those matches eventually.]

It is the biggest night of the year for the WWE, as New Orleans, Louisiana plays host to Wrestlemania 34, a night which will see nine championships decided, American Dragons returning to the ring, dream matches, and the in-ring debut of “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. Brock Lesnar has been the Universal Champion for a full calendar year, but Roman Reigns has earned a shot at the Beast after coming out victorious in an Elimination Chamber. Reigns and Lesnar have been calling each other out extensively over the past few months, but the time for talk is over, and the time for action is now. One the Smackdown side, it is a veritable dream match for the WWE Championship, when Royal Rumble winner Shinsuke Nakamura goes face to face with the face who runs the place, WWE Champion AJ Styles. These two know each other very well from their times in Japan, and from memory have only faces off once before – from the Tokyo Dome to the Superdome, this match could easily steal the show. Ronda Rousey is also set to make her in-ring debut, as she teams with Olympic Gold medalist, and WWE Hall of Famer Kurt Angle to team against the authoritative powers of Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Ronda has vowed to break Stephanie’s arm, but Stephanie is poised to let Ronda know that Stephanie is in charge, and Ronda works for her. Another McMahon is also in action, as Shane McMahon competes in a tag team match against the perpetual thorn in his side Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, but Shane has one hell of a partner: the returning Daniel Bryan. After three years of inactivity because of a neck injury, Bryan has been medically cleared and ready to kick to some bloody heads in if need be.

Not to be outdone, both the Raw and Smackdown Women’s champions have their work cut out for them, as Charlotte and Alexa Bliss defend against Asuka Nia Jax, respectively. Charlotte Flair has been bred for greatness, but Asuka is undefeated in singles competition, including winning the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match. For Raw, Alexa Bliss has shown her true colours after accidentally letting slip that she has just been using Nia Jax as a monster for hire, but the monster Jax will not let that stand, and has vowed to break the diminuitive Raw champion. All of this, plus both tag team championship matches, a four way match for the United States Championship, a triple threat for the Intercontinental Championship, the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament conclusion plus two huge Battle Royals as the WWE presents Wrestlemania 34.

+ Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn: I’m not ashamed to say I was getting teary eyed in the pre-match video. I was amazed at how much the crowd hated Owens/Zayn, but it doesn’t matter because DANIEL BRYAN IS BACK. Shane was crazy as ever, despite going bright purple as soon as the match started, and while this was very short, it was still great if for the crowd response alone
+ Super special John Cena segment: this was great. For every reason you might suspect, and even those you might not. The competitors looked to be in great shape. I really liked the way this all went
+ The Usos (Jimmy and Jey Uso) (c) vs The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Big E) (w/ Xavier Woods) vs The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan) (WWE Smackdown Live Tag Team Championships): the crowd was exhausted, and wasn’t making much noise, but this was exactly what it should have been. The ending may not have been overly surprising, but it was still fun
+ Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey vs Triple H & Stephanie McMahon: damn Triple H was in great shape, but DAY-UM Rousey looked good. This wasn’t much of a wrestling match, but as a spectacle this was phenomenal. The crowd was rabid for Rousey, and any interaction between her and Steph was met with a nuclear reaction. I was surprised at how much man/woman interactions there were, but it made for an absolutely incredible match to watch
+ Charlotte Flair (c) vs Asuka (WWE Smackdown Live Women’s Championship): Charlotte had a fantastic entrance, fit for a Queen. This was easily the match it was billed as, with both women holding nothing back. A few surprises only added to it all – this was great
+ The Miz (c) vs Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins (WWE Intercontinental Championship): Rollins’ White Walker entrances gets the nod as best of the three, but all three men were at their best in this opening contest. Some really clever moments from one man to the other two really punctuated a well worked match

Brock Lesnar (c) (w/ Paul Heyman) vs Roman Reigns (WWE Universal Championship): this was just incredible form start to finish, for all the wrong reasons. I don’t think I’ve heard a crowd shit on a match more than this one here. Finishers, tables and a huge amount of blood were not enough to get anybody invested in this. This was a trainwreck
Sheamus & Cesaro (c) vs Braun Strowman & a mystery partner (WWE Raw Smackdown Tag Team Championships): surprise partners or opponents are often not able to live up to the hype, but this was… I don’t know what the fuck happened here, but it might take me a few weeks, months or years to process it fully
AJ Styles (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura (WWE Championship): god damn this pre-match video was incredible, but unfortunately the match itself was incredibly flat. After all the hype, this was a huge disappointment, even though the aftermath was a nice moment (for some, I guess)
Alexa Bliss (c) (w/ Mickie James) vs Nia Jax (WWE Raw Women’s Championship): perhaps it was just late in the show, but this just didn’t click for me at all. No matter the outcome, it didn’t work the way I wanted it to: If Jax won, it had to be quick, or she would look bad for taking so long. If Bliss won, then it just negates the whole story. This match was just not what it should have been
Randy Orton (c) vs Jinder Mahal vs Bobby Roode vs Rusev (w/ Aiden English) (WWE United States Championship): the crowd reaction was great, with lots of love for Rusev and Roode but not so much for Orton or Mahal, but overall the match didn’t really do much for me. I don’t know why, but I expected more

> all throughout the show, the WWE was using on screen effects for entrances, for Miz and Asuka to name a few. It was a little bit rough, but in general I think it really helped the show. I just hope it isn’t going to replace proper “special” entrances

Should you watch this event: Despite some matches not quite going the way I wanted them to, this was mostly a good show, at least until about the half way point. From then until the main event it was an unbelievable train wreck. It seems they got the well booked, or well wrestled stuff out of the way early to make room for the moments used solely to get a reaction from the crowd. I had written how good this event was before deleting it all, because the second half of this show was so backwards. Watch the stuff listed as positives above, but don’t bother with the rest.

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