Yesterday I experienced the Super Bowl of the wrestling world for the first time: WrestleMania. After being heavily engrossed in WWE through work and my own personal pleasure, I feel inclined to give my thoughts on the show.
Where they got it right:
Daniel Bryan - Putting my personal feelings aside on the bearded creator of the Yes Movement, WWE gave the Universe what they had been pining for. Many fans were upset when Bryan didn't defeat Roman Reigns at Fast Lane and punch his ticket for a chance at the World Heavyweight title and WWE needed to make up for it. The crowd erupted with 'YES, YES, YES! as soon as he climbed the ladder to grab the Intercontinental Title belt. There wasn't really a better outcome for the match because the participants left lots to desire. I mean, come on, did anyone think R-Truth would really take home the title?
The Miz and Mizdow - It's been brewing for weeks now. WWE had built up the growing animosity coming from The Miz's never-appreciated stunt double. It was a very predictable outcome, with Mizdow tossing Miz over the ropes in the Andre the Giant Memorial, but having Mizdow be the last man standing next to Big Show was the right call. The two could have teamed up to get him out of the ring, but Mizdow finally had enough (after some severe chest poking from Miz). The crowd would have loved to see Mizdow take home the trophy but Big Show, a giant in his own right, made sense.
The Rock/Ronda Rousey Cameo - There was speculation that The Rock wouldn't have a major role in the event due to his appearance on SNL in New York Saturday night. They managed to work him into the show and I believe in a successful way. As Triple H and Stephanie McMahon were ripping the fans and telling us how they own us, it made sense for The Rock to step in and defend. After his appearance at Fast Lane there was already animosity brewing between him and The Authority. When Stephanie decided to challenge him to hit a woman, which he'd never do, he brought out the big guns with arguably the UFC's best female fighter to do his dirty work. The event needed a special celebrity appearance and she fit the bill. Now all we can do is hope for a Stephanie McMahon/Ronda Rousey match in the future (which probably will never happen).
The Heavyweight Title Match - What made the most sense going into the night was Brock Lesnar defeating Roman Reigns and retaining his title, especially after the contract he recently signed with the WWE. As the match got started, it was a one-sided affair, with Brock using Reigns as his own personal punching bag. After what seemed like endless can of whoop ass, Reigns finally mustered up the energy to hit Brock with a few Superman punches. As soon as it looked like the tides were turning for Reigns, Seth Rollins comes sprinting out carrying his Money in the Bank briefcase and turned the main event into a surprise Triple Threat Match. Fans had been waiting for Rollins to cash in, and this was the perfect moment. The card was underwhelming coming into it and this added just the right of shock and surprise to make up for that and end the night on a high note.
Where they got it wrong:
Sting/Triple H - The growing sentiment from fans after the big show was that Sting shouldn't have lost his match against The Authority head Triple H. What did Triple H gain from winning the match? It was Sting's 1st ever WrestleMania match and fans were eager to see him take down the evil big wig. He also said himself that it could be his last match in the ring. Did he lose so there would have to be a match in his future? Only time will tell.
NXT - The WWE took a step in the right direction, giving the winner of a special NXT match on Thursday night the opportunity to appear at WrestleMania in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal during the preshow. It was clear by the fan reaction that having NXT talent involved was a positive. Hideo Itami didn't last too long in the match, to the disappointment of the fans. I think his involvement was a step in the right direction but that next year they need to go one step further. The popularity of NXT recently has skyrocketed, with fans even saying their pay per views were putting Raw and Smackdown to shame. I think a NXT title match would have been extremely successful on the main card and hope they add one to next year's WrestleMania.
The Preshow - The card could have benefitted from some juggling. The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal would have done well on the main card, when more people were in their seats. They could have done without the 'concert' halfway through the main card and added one of the preshow matches to the main card. The concert may have been better suited to kick off the show instead of smack dab in the middle of the main card, but hey it gave people time to use the restroom.
The Divas Match - The Divas division has became a joke as of late, with strong technical wresters like Naomi and Natalya taking a backseat to more visibly appealing wrestlers like the Bella Twins and Eva Marie. This match had no hype to build up to it, and you felt it in the crowd. AJ Lee's return helped a little, but the lack of storylines surrounding the division clearly showed. The division is already a tough sell to a lot of fans and they did little to help themselves out. The match needed some sort of twist, whether it was a title implication, some fresh meat (Charlotte or Sasha maybe?) or a better storyline headed into it.
To conclude, WWE was able to turn a less than ideal card (by fan's opinion at least) into something special and memorable. There were enough surprises, 'finally' moments and title changes to keep us glued to the television until next year's big event.