Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Wrestlemania 34: Recap

Well ladies and gentleman, after seven hours and ten minutes, Wrestlemania 34 has come to an end. This year’s showcase of the immortals emanated from a sold-out Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, LA with 78,000 in attendance (good luck getting out of there in less than two hours). The card was comprised of fourteen matches and all nine WWE titles were defended. There were a number of questions heading into the event: Would Brock Lesnar retain the title with his seemingly imminent return to the UFC? Would Asuka’s undefeated streak come to an end? Would Ronda Rousey live up to the hype? Would the Deadman answer John Cena’s challenge?

Pre-Show

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Winner: Woken Matt Hardy
There was much speculation leading into this year’s battle royal where some thought legends such as Goldberg would appear, or returning superstars would debut such as Bobby Lashley, or we would see the emergence of a star in the making…well none of that happened, but, we were treated to something wonderful in the Royal Battle of Andre. The final four of this contest were Kane, Baron Corbin, Woken Matt Hardy, and last year’s winner Mojo Rawley. At this point I really believed Kane would win in what could be one of his final matches with his upcoming election for mayor of Knox County, TN. That lasted all of a few moments as Kane was quickly eliminated by Corbin. The lights then went out and we are shocked by the appearance of Bray Wyatt! Wyatt proceeds to help Matt Hardy “delete” Mojo and Corbin hence crowning him as the victor. After the match, Hardy and Wyatt seemingly formed a new alliance as the two embraced in the middle of the ring.

Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali
Winner: Cedric Alexander
After one successful 054 where Alexander got his foot on the bottom rope just before the count of three, Ali aimed to seal the deal with a second 054 where Alexander escaped disaster at the last second and rolled out of the ring.  Alexander subsequently took control with a number of vicious spinning elbows to Ali’s cranium setting him up to land the Lumbar Check followed by the pinfall.

Wrestlemania Women’s Battle Royal
Winner: Naomi
Final Four: Riott, Sasha, Bayley, Sara Logan
Like the Andre the Giant Battle Royal, the match was devoid of legends or surprise entrants, however, the Glamazon Beth Phoenix was on commentary. This was a typical battle royal but if anyone stood out, it was NXT Superstar Bianca Belair. Belair managed to pull a ballsy move and hit a perfectly executed 450 splash in the middle of the match. Belair did not make it to the final four, however, as were left with Ruby Riot, Sarah Logan, Sasha Banks, and Bayley…or so we thought.  Bayley and Sasha eliminated Riot then Logan. It then appeared that Sasha and Bayley were going to make amends as Banks extended her hand to Bayley…instead Bayley took her hand and tossed her over the top rope.  As Bayley began to celebrate, Naomi, who apparently everyone had forgotten about lying on the floor outside the ring, snuck back into ring to launch Bayley out of the ring and take the inaugural battle royal.

Main Card

Intercontinental Championship Triple Threat: The Miz ( c ) vs. Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor
Winner: Seth Rollins
This was a solid opening bout for the main card. The action was fast and furious and in the end it appeared Balor would win the title after he nailed the Miz with the Coup de Grace but Seth Rollins had other plans as he came in for the Curb Stomp on Balor as he went for pin on Miz. Rollins then hit another Curb Stomp on the Miz as he recovered and covered him for the pinfall victory.

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair ( c ) vs. Asuka
Winner: Flair
Asuka controlled the tempo of much of this match putting her striking and technical wrestling skills on display as she unrelentingly attacked Flair’s left arm. In the end, Flair locked in an impressive Figure 8 supporting herself with only one arm for the submission victory. In Asuka’s words, “Charlotte was ready for Asuka!”

At the conclusion of the match, a referee sprinted down the entrance ramp and went to John Cena who sat in the crowd as he promised he would if the Undertaker did not accept his challenge. The referee’s words sparked Cena to jump out of his seat and rush to the locker room.

United States Championship Fatal 4-Way: Randy Orton ( c ) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev
Winner: Mahal
I had a gut feeling that Randy Orton wasn’t walking out of this match with the title and it was simply put on him because he had never held it. Plus it made sense to throw the title on Jinder Mahal with the upcoming Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia on April 27. Despite the Superdome showing overwhelming support for Rusev Day and the Glorious one, Mahal shocked the WWE Universe again by hitting the Khallas on Rusev to win his first U.S. Title.

Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs. Triple H & Stephanie McMahon
Winners: Rousey and Angle
We all expected this was placed on the card as the welcome party for Ronda Rousey but we were treated to a very competitive and entertaining bout. I seemed to recall that WWE had sent the portrayal of male on female violence packing with the exit of the Ruthless Aggression Era but that went out the window tonight. Ronda Rousey assaulted Triple H with a number of strikes in the match and nearly succumbed to a Pedigree. In the end, Ronda locked in an armbar on Stephanie McMahon to win the match by submission.

Smackdown Live Tag Team Championship Triple Threat: The Usos ( c ) vs. The New Day vs. The Bludgeon Brothers
Winners: Bludgeon Brothers
The New Day made their way to the ring with an army of midgets in pancake costumes that were summoned by the trombone of Xavier Woods as they showered the fans with pancakes they threw into the crowd. The light-hearted albeit bizarre tone to this match quickly subsided as the match got underway. This was the definition of a squash match as the Bludgeon Brothers dished out unadulterated brutality to make short order of The Usos and New Day to win the Smackdown Live Tag Titles.

John Cena vs. Undertaker
Winner: Undertaker
The deception did not cease as John Cena made his way to the ring. The lights went out and as all in attendance expected the return of the Deadman, we were instead “delighted” by the vocal stylings of Elias. After Elias finished insulting John Cena and the WWE Universe, John Cena proceeded to destroy him with a Five Knuckle Shuffle and Attitude Adjustment. Cena then proceeded to exit the ring and walk up the exit ramp in utter disappointment to have the lights cut out…again. The entire WWE Universe was then electrified by the entrance of the one and only phenom, The Undertaker! Taker looked more prepared for this match than he has for arguably the last 4-5 years. John Cena mounted virtually no offense as the Deadman hit the Old School, Chokeslam, and Tombstone Piledriver to make short order of the Master of Thugonomics.

Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Winners: Bryan and McMahon
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn needed to win this match to regain their jobs on Smackdown Live. We also were treated to Daniel Bryan’s return to in-ring action after two years away from the ring. Bryan was “taken out” early after a power bomb by KO to the ring apron that left Shane-O-Mac to fend for himself. Shane fought valiantly and unleashed his signature coast to coast dropkick on Sami Zayn but could only sustain for so long before the numbers game and his recent hernia caught up with him. In the end, Bryan came to the rescue and in a flurry of offense, including a series of Yes Kicks, that made it appear he never missed any time, Bryan finally administered the YES lock on Zayn for the submission victory. YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES! YES!

RAW Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss ( c ) vs. Nia Jax
Winner: Nia Jax
This was another squash match. Nia Jax made sure to eliminate the possibility of any outside interference as she obliterated Mickie James. After controlling Alexa Bliss will little offense reciprocated, Jax hit a massive Samoan drop off the middle turnbuckle for the win and her first WWE title.

WWE Heavyweight Championship: A.J. Styles ( c ) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
Winner: Styles
Many anticipated this match was going to steal the show and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t one of those individuals. Unfortunately, the most exciting part of this segment in my opinion was the aftermath. But first, the match concluded as Nakamura missed Kinshasa as The Phenomenal One magnificently countered and rolled him into a Styles Clash to retain the title. HEEL TURN! After the match Nakamura took the title from the referee and went to present it to A.J. as he dropped to one knee. Here comes the HEEL TURN!  Once A.J. accepted it, he was unceremoniously struck between the uprights by Nakamura who then kicked him repeatedly until he fell off the ring apron. Nakamura followed Styles out of the ring and squared him up for a Kinshasa and this time he didn’t miss.

RAW Tag Team Championship: The Bar ( c ) vs. Braun Strowman & Mystery Partner
Winners: Braun Strowman and Nicholas
Braun Strowman was ordered to find a tag team partner for this match if he wanted to win the tag titles. Once in the ring he told the audience he would select a spectator to be his partner. Braun Strowman perused the crowd for his tag team partner and selected a random kid who didn’t look older than 10...no joke. This was another fairly one-sided bout until Strowman finally hit the power slam on Cesaro to capture the titles.  It will be interesting to see how this dynamic of the Monster Among Men and a 10 year old kid as tag champs will work moving forward.

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar ( c ) vs. Roman Reigns
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Everyone assumed Roman Reigns was going to win this match. It’s been assumed the Brock is heading back to UFC, his buddy Dana White was shown in the crowd, his WWE contract is allegedly almost up, and Roman is Vince McMahon’s golden boy. The match was dominated by the Beast Incarnate and the brutality was on a visceral level. Lesnar took Roman to Suplex City, hit SEVEN F5’s (including one through the German announce table), and victimized Roman with a series of mounted elbow strikes that left Reigns wearing a crimson mask reminiscent of Stone Cold Steve Austin when he squared off with Bret Hart at Wrestlemania 13. As Reigns was drenched in blood, Lesnar hit F5 number seven and pinned him to retain the title.




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