Last year’s Wrestlemania was a marathon for even the most veteran wrestling fans and this year was no different. With an incredibly stacked card of roughly 13 matches (that’s not including the obvious John Cena vs The Undertaker “secret” match), The Grandest Stage of Them All was filled with a stupefying amount of in-ring action. This year, I made the choice to watch and review the entire thing! I’ll be looking at what went well and what went wrong with the matches that the WWE sidelined into the free Kickoff show and not the entire 2-hour Kickoff show… because who really watches the panel, anyway? But, if you’re a glutton for punishment, you can watch the entire thing for free through the WWE’s YouTube channel.
As this is just the Kickoff show, don’t expect anything here to blow your mind or anything like that. These are just a few takeaways I got from Wrestlemania’s front act. Let’s start with the good stuff, shall we?
1. The Cruiserweight Championship match
This was a humdinger of a match! Despite me not following 205 Live or anything that happened during the Cruiserweight Championship tournament, I was sucked in and entralled by both the in-ring action and the story both Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali told in the squared circle. The wrestling was really fun and filled with great action and to point out any specific spots would do the others an injustice so it only seemed fair to just say that the entire bout was a highlight for the Cruiserweight match.
What I appreciated was the tale they were spinning, with Cedric Alexander taunting Mustafa Ali about where’s his heart while Ali would retort to Alexander to where his soul went. Cheesy but unique. My favorite point was when Alexader wailed on Ali with a couple back elbows yet Ali wouldn’t stop coming. Alexander even pleaded for Ali to just give up and had to deliver his finisher, the Lumbar Check, to finally get the pinfall victory and become the new Cruiserweight Champion. It was good wrestling and storytelling so I will give two thumbs up for this match.
2. The Riott Squad’s Performance at the Women’s Battle Royal
I never understood the mentality of stables during a Battle Royal and why one member would betray a fellow stablemate before first trying to team up to eliminate everyone else. I get it’s supposed to be “every man for himself” and all that but tossing a teammate over the top rope prior to getting rid of everyone is a dumb strategy. Well, I guess the Riott Squad didn’t follow that way of thinking because they’re women?
I can’t say they worked like a well oiled machine, though. There were moments where Liv Morgan came in a little too late and it must’ve been humiliating for Ruby Riott and Sarah Logan to get suplexed by Natalya. Even with that, I liked that they still worked together throughout the match. Maybe I would be saying the same thing about Absolution if they didn’t get eliminated early on? Whatever. The Riott Squad stuck together and that made good sense.
3. The un-deletion of Bray Wyatt
I loved the Ultimate Deletion and I was really curious how the WWE was going to repackage Bray Wyatt after he disappeared into the Lake of Reincarnation. It turns out they didn’t do anything with him… but he did decide to team up with “Woken” Matt Hardy and assist him to win the Andre the Giant Battle Royal!
It was cool to see The Eater of Worlds partner up with The Woken One but it made sense… in a “Woken” Matt Hardy insane sort of way. It was a cool moment but I’m actually more excited to see what they do with this. Of course, knowing the WWE, they probably didn’t plan ahead so I should just prepare myself for a boatload of disappointment, huh?
4. The build up and the face off of Bayley and Sasha Banks during the Women’s Battle Royal
Why didn’t they make The Hugger vs. The Boss as a Wrestlemania match? I guess there were already too many matches but you know that the two would’ve been able to give the crowd a hell of a match. The Wrestlemania crowd and the WWE Universe pretty much agree with me because, when Bayley and Sasha Banks appeared to be the final two during the Women’s Battle Royal, we loved it.
Of course, it certainly helped that the minutes leading to them facing off was laid out well. Both Bayley and Sasha Banks took turns saving each other from elimination and they even worked together to clear out the ring. So when they were apparently the two last participants, seeing them glance at each other across the ring was a great sight. I also liked the odd reversal of roles with Bayley tossing out Sasha Banks even though The Boss extended her hand in friendship. Unfortunately, Bayley’s apparent victory and Wrestlemania moment was soured instantly with the first Bad moment of the Kickoff show…
1. Naomi sneaking in the win
Bayley eliminating Sasha Banks and winning the Women’s Battle Royal at Wrestlemania should’ve been a feel good moment. The Hugger finally got one over of The Boss and she can actually savor her moment in the spotlight at Wrestlemania. That would’ve been a great way to close out the match. But noooooooo! They have to spoil everything with Naomi slithering back into the win because she was never eliminated, deliver the Rear View and then unceremoniously dump Bayley over the top rope, close to Sasha Banks, no less.
This was bad in so many levels. For one, it doesn’t do anyone any favors. Naomi won but, unlike Sasha Banks and Bayley, there wasn’t any stakes or redemption for her winning the entire thing. Also, they had to explain that she was never eliminated, which is really bad in-ring storytelling. It’s like a joke; it loses it’s power if you have to explain it. It’s possible the WWE are planning to push Naomi in the near future but it was at the expense of a feel good ending and a great story.
2. Dolph Ziggler keeps hanging around the Andre the Giant Battle Royal
Do the “dangling from the ropes” schtick during a Battle Royal, that’s fine. Do it twice, it’s still okay. Do it 16 times? You’ve just overstayed your welcome, Dolph Ziggler! Okay, I’m not sure how many times Dolph Ziggler saved himself by hanging on the ropes so that both of his feet didn’t touch the floor as I didn’t really count. But he just did it over and over and over again! It got stupid so, whenever he did it, it just got tiring. I like Dolph Ziggler and he’s really good at doing that, but he just did it one or seven too many times!
3. John Cena doing stupid while in the audience
Officially, there wasn’t supposed to be a match between John Cena vs The Undertaker nor did John Cena have a match at Wrestlemania. So, he was just supposed to be an audience member (even though we know he’s going to fight The Undertaker in a surprise and impromptu match but don’t tell anyone that because that’s a secret and nobody knows about it shhh…).
Now, I didn’t know what to expect with John Cena but I certainly didn’t expect him to act like a goofball and sit with some total strangers! I guess it’s supposed to be a cool Wrestlemania moment for those fans to sit with a WWE Superstar for a good 2 hours before the actual show. But all he did was make silly faces and point to the ring when something happened. It didn’t look like genuine reactions and it looked so fake! It didn’t help that the lady John Cena was sitting next to didn’t really seem to care about the action in the ring or even pay attention that she was sitting to him!
I’m not hating on John Cena’s acting as that’s apparently his character now. But it’s just the overall implementation of how they did it that sucks.
And speaking of sucks…
1. The terrible editing work of the Kickoff show
Throwing together a live event can’t be easy. There’s so many things that you have to keep track of. You gotta choose the best camera angles to properly capture the action. You have to know when to show the audience. You even have to time when to cut to commercial break. But the editing work during the Wrestlemania Kickoff show this year was just atrocious!
One, I don’t understand why they would even have commercial breaks in the middle of the matches during the Kickoff show! Because they did, they edited out some great moments, like Kairi Sane’s big elbow and subsequent elimination. Some of the camera switches were mistimed and we didn’t see Naomi’s “un-elimination,” which would’ve cleared up her storyline. They even had the gall to put a promo video of the Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon right smack in the middle of the Cruiserweight Championship match! They even shuttled off the live match to the corner and cut out the sound so the commercial was more prominent!
The live editing was a huge headache and really disrupted the flow of some of the matches. I think I would’ve liked some of them a whole lot more if the cuts didn’t suck so hard!
Overall, the Wrestlemania 34 Kickoff show was just okay. There were some really good moments but a lot of it was spoiled by the sloppy camera work and placement of the breaks. Is this a harbinger of what the actual Wrestlemania show will be like? Well, we’ll see when I review the whole shebang next time!
What did you think of this year’s Wrestlemania’s Kickoff show? Let me know in the comments section below!