By Michael Battista
Months of buildup from WWE culminated on Sunday, April 2, at its biggest show of the year, Wrestlemania 33, in Orlando, Fla. While the show started off with big matches and tremendous moments, I became increasingly disappointed as the seven-hour event went on.
From the pre-show at 5 p.m. until midnight, Wrestlemania 33 featured many matches that were perfectly delivered to the sold-out Citrus Bowl crowd, however, there were many letdowns and boring moments that took away from the excitement.
The pre-show matches of the night accomplished what they are supposed to: energize the crowd. The cruiserweight championship bout between Austin Aries and defending champion Adrian Neville helped show what the underutilized high flyers could do. With Monday Night Raw only giving cruiserweights about five-minute matches, the short showing put both wrestlers on a pedestal for the fans.
The “Andre the Giant” Memorial Battle Royal was a great way for 33 wrestlers to take part in the show. New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski helping young wrestler Mojo Rawley win the match was a nice way to get starpower into the event. Rawley’s victory in the battle royale also helped turn the crowd in his favor.
When the main show started, the crowd was treated with four back-to-back matches. The U.S. Title match was a 15-minute clinic of athleticism and storytelling. My favorite moments were Kevin Owens yelling lines like “Did that hurt? Like when I stabbed you the back?” at Chris Jericho or reaching for the bottom rope with just his index finger. He showed why he is the best heel on the main roster.
The loudest reaction of the night came during the tag team match with Matt and Jeff Hardy returning to WWE for the first time since 2010. The original match pitting champions Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows against the tag teams of Claudio “Cesaro” Castagnoli and Stephen “Sheamus” Farrelly, and New Jersey-native Enzo Amore and Big Cass was amazing. Adding the hottest free-agents in the wrestling industry to a ladder match was one heck of a way to spike interest. While I wanted Enzo and Cass to win, I hope to see the Hardy Boyz continue their “Broken” personas in WWE.
Two of the last three matches of the night went under six minutes each. The night ended on a disappointing note for wrestling fans watching around the world. Roman Reigns against The Undertaker was down right sad to watch. The Undertaker is 52 years-old at this point and his body can’t endure hard impacts. Seeing Reigns hit him with spear after spear, trying to put him away — it was harder to watch Reigns kick The Undertaker for the final blow.
Even Reign’s hesitation to finish off the legend was impressive to watch. After he finally laid down for the three count, WWE had to lower the volume of the microphones that picked up crowd reaction to silence the fans’ boos. The Undertaker laid on his back after Reigns left before sitting up and leaving his trademark gloves, coat and hat in the middle of the ring before slowly walking up the entrance way.
It may be the last match of his historic career and Undertaker went out in a very old school way.
Overall, Wrestlemania 33 was a B+ show as it started off with incredible matches, but seemed to give its payoff early. In the middle of the show, Seth Rollins vs. Triple H suffered greatly from fan fatigue since it ran longer than 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, John Cena actually proposed to his girlfriend in the middle of the ring after their win.
If both the Smackdown and Raw shows had their own events for these feuds, with as much buildup as they had, the overall payoffs could have been much better. But everything shoved together into a seven-hour “thrill ride,” as WWE advertised, meant the show sometimes dragged on. It still delivered a lot of impactful moments, though, which can be replayed on their own for future enjoyment.