Be kind to the professional wrestling fans in your life on Monday. They’re probably pretty tired.
WrestleMania season now is behind us, culminating with a jam-packed show Sunday night in Orlando, an event that lasted more than seven(!) hours, with the “main card” starting at 7 p.m. ET and going off the air after midnight on the East Coast.
All told, there were 13 matches on the preshow and main card combined with every major title (aside from the Smackdown Live tag team championship) being defended. We’ll try to keep our report card a little shorter, though.
Neville defeated Austin Aries to retain the Cruiserweight championship (preshow match)
Liked: From a purely technical standpoint, this might have been the best match of the entire night. That’s not saying it was the most entertaining, and it obviously didn’t mean the most, but it was very well put together with a creative finish centered around Neville poking Aries in his previously injured eye to set up the Red Arrow for the win.
Disliked: That it wasn’t on the main card? It’s hard to have any gripes with this match, so we’ll just say it was a bummer this match didn’t go on a little later, but that’s life with such a packed card.
Mojo Rawley wins Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Liked: The use of Rob Gronkowski was pretty cool. The New England Patriots tight end might have a future in the ring.
Disliked: It made sense to use Gronk, and it was a good spot, but it also made it feel like the No. 1 reason Mojo Rawley won was because he was friends with Gronk. Which, you know.
Dean Ambrose defeats Baron Corbin to retain Intercontinental championship
Liked: The ending was a lot of fun, as Baron Corbin set up Ambrose to give him his finishing move only to have Ambrose reverse it into the Dirty Deeds to get the win.
Disliked: Pretty much everything else. It certainly felt like this was a chance to put the belt on Corbin and give him a push. Regardless, it was a largely forgettable match, which is the second consecutive year we’ve seen that from Ambrose. It feels like his character needs a reboot.
AJ Styles defeats Shane McMahon
Liked: There were legitimate questions about how this match would play out given the obvious discrepancy between Styles (one of the best in the world) and McMahon (an aging part-timer who’s the son of the boss). But McMahon looked a lot better than he did last year against The Undertaker, and it was believable enough for the two to have an enjoyable match.
Disliked: While the match exceeded expectations, it still would have been better to see Styles in a match with a little more meaning. But we’re splitting hairs at this point.
Kevin Owens defeats Chris Jericho to win United States championship
Liked: First of all, the Chris Jericho entrance was peak pro wrestling and it was awesome.
It’s so dumb, so over the top, so nonsensical and so cool.
As for the match itself, there were a few subtle things that really added to the story, highlighted by Owens using one finger on the rope to break Jericho’s hold.
Disliked: The match just didn’t live up to the hype, which in hindsight isn’t too surprising because these two set the bar so high in what was arguably the best build of any match on the show.
Bayley defeated Nia Jax, Sasha Banks and Charlotte in Four-Way Raw women’s championship elimination match
Liked: Bayley using the “Macho Man” Randy Savage elbow drop to win the match with the WrestleMania set in the background was a thing of pro wrestling art.
Disliked: Similar to a lot of matches on the card, it felt like this might have been shortened due to time which really kept it from feeling like a big-time match.
The Hardy Boyz defeat Enzo and Big Cass, Anderson and Gallows and Cesaro & Sheamus to win Raw tag team championship ladder match
Liked: The “surprise” of the night was the Hardy Boyz returning after a long hiatus to enter the match. There was no shortage of rumors that a return could be in the works, but it was unclear exactly when that would happen, whether it would take place during or after the match or perhaps even Monday night at RAW. Even when the New Day came out to introduce the Hardys, you still wondered whether they were just inserting themselves into the match. Of course, they instead introduced the Hardy Boyz, and the Citrus Bowl lost its collective mind.
Disliked: Um …
John Cena and Nikki Bella defeat The Miz and Maryse
Liked: John Cena and Nikki Bella got engaged after the match, which is cool if you’re into that kind of thing.
Disliked: The, uh, actual match. No one expected a five-star classic, and the entire thing obviously was building to the proposal. It is what it is. Hopefully, The Miz gets a big program out of this because he and Maryse put in some excellent work leading up to this match to make it feel much bigger than it probably should have.
Seth Rollins defeated Triple H
Liked: They told a really, really good story. Rollins’ knee injuries were the focal point entering the match, and Triple H’s constant focus on the knee was undeniable. But there were also some subtle things — like Rollins’ knee buckling in a spot similar to the one when he suffered the first knee injury — that really drove home the point.
Disliked: The match was just too long. They’re both good wrestlers, but we probably didn’t need a 25-minute match on a show that ended up going past midnight, ya know?
Randy Orton defeats Bray Wyatt to win WWE championship
Liked: Bray Wyatt’s entrance was cool.
Disliked: … and it was pretty much downhill from there. The build and lead-up to this match was out there, but it kind of worked. It at least helped build some interest and intrigue in the match, but then things fell flat.
And the ring thing was weird, man.
Brock Lesnar defeated Goldberg to win WWE Universal championship
Liked: Pretty much everything. We spent the last few weeks wondering how this match would be constructed and whether these two were destined for another dud like their first match at WrestleMania 20. Instead, however, they did what they had to do: They kept it simple. Sometimes, it’s OK to have a short match, as long as it packs a punch, which is exactly what happened here. This was just two big dudes beating the hell out of each other. Putting Lesnar over and again making him look like a monster was the right way to go, too.
Disliked: To be honest, nothing.
Naomi wins Smackdown women’s championship in six-pack challenge
Liked: That the match actually happened. Before we realized this show would bleed into Monday morning, there was legitimate reason to believe this match wouldn’t even take place. As the night progressed, everyone started to wonder whether this match would be cut to save time. Luckily for the women involved, it wasn’t, and it ultimately turned into a quick spot fest with Naomi going over in a return from injury in front of her hometown fans.
Disliked: The entire show put you in this weird feeling where you kept looking at the clock wondering when the show would end (some of us have to work Monday morning, WWE) and wishing matches got more time. We get how confusing that might seem, but this match personified that feeling.
Roman Reigns defeated The Undertaker
Liked: The Undertaker got the send-off he deserves. The Dead Man left his gloves, hat and coat in the middle of the ring after a clunky end to the match, seemingly signifying his retirement. He even broke character, kissing his wife before heading up the ramp and uncharacteristically turning around for one more look before raising his hand and presumably disappearing for good. It was sad (more on that below), but it was also a cool moment for fans.
Disliked: How about the reminder of mortality and impending doom for all of us? Everyone talks about how the WWE loves to go off the air at ‘Mania with a feel-good moment. They did the opposite Sunday night. Sure, Undertaker was given a prominent spot, and it certainly was a “WrestleMania moment,” but it was also a bummer. The match was OK, but it was clear ‘Taker probably held on too long. He didn’t look very good, and it’s probably best he’s (apparently) calling it a career. But for a lot of wrestling fans who grew up in the 1990s, the Undertaker’s retirement is the end of an era, and it signifies the end of that era which is kind of a bummer. All things must come to an end, even Undertaker’s reign in WWE.