Wrestlemania 34 felt like a tale of two halves. After a handful of matches, I started to feel like this could go down as one of the best Manias in quite some time. The mixed tag match featuring Ronda Rousey exceeded expectations across the board. That is also where Wrestlemania peaked, and essentially turned into a giant cluster, minus Daniel Bryan’s return.
After watching, analyzing and thinking about the scenarios the WWE feed us last night, here is the good, bad and ugly from Wrestlemania 34.
Ronda Rousey’s debut
Raise your hand if you expected to see that kind of match last night? Exactly. So many interesting and moving parts came out of the match. Rousey squaring off with Triple H was a sight to see. Every wrestler in that match played their role to a T, but it was Rousey who came out looking like a million bucks. It might be a different story when she has to wrestle a one-on-one match, but for a debut, she hit it out of the park.
The appropriate opener for Wrestlemania with an interesting choice of Seth Rollins picking up the win. Many favored Finn Balor leaving with the IC title, but it was Rollins who became the youngest Triple Crown champion in WWE history. After floundering for months, Rollins has shined with several standout performances. His Raw Gauntlet Match performance still takes the cake, but he showed last night why he is one of the best in the business. The IC title match delivered. The match was fast-paced, hard-hitting and set the tone for Mania.
What an emotional moment for Bryan. I can’t imagine what was running through his head before he walked through the curtain. His first match back after three years and it takes place at Wrestlemania. What a fitting comeback. Bryan was kept out of the early stages of the match after an attack from Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. In retrospect, I liked the booking here. When Bryan finally got into the match, the crowd was eating it up. If Wrestlemania ended after that match, I do not think anyone would have cared.
Asuka was undefeated for what felt like a century heading into this epic showdown. All of that came crashing down after taking the loss to Charlotte. If there was any question who the queen of the WWE is was before Wrestlemania, that question was emphatically answered last night. Charlotte sits on her own throne, no pun intended, with everyone else looking at her from a distance. I get a sneaking suspicion that WWE creative did not want Asuka and Rousey undefeated together. Will Rousey be the one to dethrone the Queen?
Asuka held the NXT women’s title for 523 days and was undefeated for 914 days. That all ended with a loss to Charlotte. Yes, Charlotte continuing her reign is in my good column, but building up Asuka only to lose is questionable. Is the WWE keeping Charlotte strong for Rousey? What’s next for Asuka? I am afraid with the loss, Asuka falls back into the background and becomes just another name.
Smackdown Tag Title Match
The Usos and the New Day finally get on the main card of a PPV, only to lose in an extended squash. The Usos have been the best team on either brand with The New Day coming in a close second. Instead of giving these three teams time to shine, the Bludgeon Brothers walk away with the titles in an uninspiring affair. The Usos and New Day deserve better.
U.S. Title Match
Jinder Mahal winning does nothing for me. The only way this can be spun into a good move – Mahal feuds with Rusev and the title changes hands so we can all celebrate Rusev Day!
John Cena Running
John Cena as a fan was fun, but the cheesy run to the back was a bit much.
WWE Universal Title Match
Brock Lesnar matches have become a chore to watch lately. There is no real excitement or psychology behind the match. Instead we get 10 German suplexes, a few clotheslines and a handful of F5s. Switch over to Roman Reigns and we see a similar approach – 15 Superman punches, some kicks, a clothesline or two followed by a spear. It has become too predictable and formulaic. With Lesnar winning, does he lose on Raw? Does Bobby Lashley come back and defeat him?
When was the last time we heard a Wrestlemania crowd chant “This is Boring?” Not sure if Vince McMahon called an audible during the match because of the reaction, but this should not have been the main event. Factor in the bloodbath Lesnar created, that sequence came off very similar to the match with Randy Orton. Something needs to be done with the title ASAP. Reigns and Lesnar do not need to be near it.
Raw Tag Title Match
I understand the feel-good moment of having a young fan step in (rumor has it Nicholas is a Make-A-Wish Foundation child), but building Braun Strowman up for this? Last week, Strowman came out as Brains Strowman. Now he pulls a kid from the crowd. McMahon has never been high on the tag team division. This match buried the entire division in one night. Instead of having someone like James Ellsworth, Neville, Big Show or any other returning wrestler, McMahon decided to go with his version of comic relief and insert this into Wrestlemania. Strowman should be the Universal champion, but instead he is getting the Rusev and Dolph Ziggler treatment.
At the end of the day, Wrestlemania had several high points. But the last two matches left a bad taste in my mouth.