The biggest World Wrestling Entertainment event of the year took place Sunday night as WrestleMania 33 was held at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. It was a really long night with the Kickoff Show starting at 5 p.m. ET and the main show pay-per-view ran from 7 p.m. ET until about 10 minutes after midnight. Even the most loyal of WWE fans have a tough time enjoying over seven hours of content at a WrestleMania.

I thought the show was average at best. Maybe slightly above average. When you go six hours, it’s tough to keep people entertained the entire time. Most fans go to their seats at around 4 p.m. ET and were there for eight hours. How can you stay excited about the matches for the entire time? It’s impossible even if the show was great, and this show wasn’t great.

There were some cool moments throughout the night such as the WWE return of Jeff & Matt Hardy, but there were also some match finishes that left me wondering what the creative team was thinking. There were several title changes as well, which were expected. It was also the end of The Undertaker in the main event. I’ll have plenty of thoughts on that at the end of this review.

Let’s get through this 13-match card in the order that the matches took place.

Cruiserweight Championship: Neville defeated Austin Aries to retain his title (Kickoff Show)

They were given about 15 minutes while working in the hot Orlando sun (it was about 90 degrees on Sunday) in front of a crowd still filing into the stadium with the match starting at around 5:30pm. There were a lot of high spots by both guys. They busted their asses, but it didn’t feel like the crowd cared enough about what they were doing. The last few minutes were excellent as Aries came close to winning a few times, but Neville got the win when he hit the Red Arrow. I think they’ll have more matches together, but Neville should hold the title for a few more months as a long-term champion.

Mojo Rawley won the Andre the Giant Battle Royal (Kickoff Show)

Here are the names that participated in the match: Primo, Kalisto, Simon Gotch, Heath Slater, Jey Uso, Goldust, Konnor, Big Show, Viktor, Braun Strowman, Curt Hawkins, R-Truth, Rhyno, Aiden English, Curtis Axel, Jimmy Uso, Jason Jordan, Chad Gable, Tyler Breeze, Fandango, Sin Cara, Mark Henry, Tian Bing, Epico, Bo Dallas, Apollo Crews, Dolph Ziggler, Luke Harper, Titus O’Neil, Sami Zayn, Killian Dain and Jinder Mahal.

My expectation was that Braun Strowman and Big Show were going to battle until the end with Strowman going over. Nope. Strowman eliminated Big Show early on. Shortly after that, the other wrestlers ganged up to eliminate Strowman. I don’t really get the booking since Strowman is a guy who should be main eventing pay-per-views, and here he is losing in a Kickoff Show match featuring a bunch of guys who lose a lot.

The end of the match came down to Mojo Rawley, NXT wrestler Killian Dain and Jinder Mahal. There was a spot near the end where Mahal attacked Rawley outside the ring. Mahal ended up going up to NFL star Rob Gronkowski and spilling his drink. Gronkowski went into the ring, hit a shoulder tackle and Rawley got the win after.

To summarize it, Rawley got the win because he is friends with Gronkowski and WWE wanted to get mentioned on ESPN, so that’s what happened of course. It wouldn’t shock me if Gronk had a WWE match after he retires. He’s certainly got the personality to be a popular wrestler one day.

Intercontinental Championship: Dean Ambrose defeated Baron Corbin to retain his title

It was disappointing to see this match on the Kickoff Show. Dean Ambrose has wrestled more matches than any WWE wrestler in the past four years and he’s main evented several PPV events. How is he only a Kickoff Show wrestler? They did their best to put on a good match, but it felt like a regular Smackdown match instead of a PPV caliber title match.

When Ambrose hit the Dirty Deeds to win the match, I thought Corbin was going to kick out. He didn’t. Ambrose won an average match in about 11 minutes. Corbin won the Battle Royal last year, and WWE tried to put him over as a big deal. Then he wasn’t even on the main card and failed in this title match.

Guys like Corbin and Strowman should have had much bigger moments at the biggest show of the year. Instead, both of them looked terrible and would have been better off if they weren’t even a part of the card.

The PPV portion of the show started off with the three New Day guys (the hosts of the show) in Final Fantasy gear. They didn’t say much or do anything interesting except waste time. I feel bad for them not having a match.

AJ Styles defeated Shane McMahon

This was one of the better matches of the night as Styles did the best he could with a guy in his late-40s like Shane. The announcers spent most of the matches talking about how “Shane is built like a linebacker,” as JBL put it many times. You would think that Shane is the son of his boss or something? Oh wait, he is! Shocking. Shane is in great shape, but the narrative WWE’s announcers gave for him was pretty silly.

They went 21 minutes while competing in a regular match, which was a mistake since Shane is known for his big bumps. They still managed to do them after a Styles kick to the head knocked down the ref accidentally. That set up Shane doing his Coast to Coast dropkick across the ring into a trash can. Then they went out of the ring with Shane going for the top rope elbow through the announce table. Styles moved and Shane went crashing through the table. Shane also tried a Shooting Star Press, but Styles moved. Styles finished him off with the Phenomenal Forearm shortly after.

While it was a good match, this wasn’t as good as most of AJ’s PPV matches in the past year. It was another example of how great Styles is, showing why he is the best wrestler in WWE.

United States Championship: Kevin Owens defeated Chris Jericho to win the title

I was excited for the match and it was good, but it felt like a Raw match. By that, I mean they really didn’t do much to make it stand out. Yes, there were some believable near-falls as they kicked out of each other’s finishers. But when it comes to WrestleMania, we are used to those moments. Each guy nearly won with the Walls of Jericho as well. To end the match, Owens hit a Powerbomb on the side of the ring apron and rolled Jericho back in to get the win.

Owens winning was no surprise. He’s 15 years younger, Jericho is off to work on his Fozzy music commitments soon and Owens should have gotten the win. They could have another match at Payback later this month to end the feud for good.

Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley defeated Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks & Nia Jax to retain her title

If you have read my work regularly, then you know my disappointment with this match. This is the night where Bayley should have won the Women’s Title for the first time. Instead, she won the title back in February on a random edition of Raw. They could have given her that “WrestleMania Moment” leading to a huge reaction. Instead, the crowd barely cared about anything they did in the match.

It was an elimination match. Jax dominated for a couple of minutes, but the other three women worked together hit a Powerbomb on her and pin her after about five minutes. Banks was the next one eliminated when Charlotte sent her into an exposed turnbuckle that was barely exposed. It could have been executed a lot better. After Bayley hit Charlotte with the Macho Man Elbow off the top rope and pinned her, my reaction was: “Really? That’s it?” That did not feel like the end of what should have been a great match.

If there’s a positive in this whole thing, it’s that a Raw woman has successfully defended the title at two straight PPVs. The problem is that the crowd seems less interested now that Bayley has that title.

Raw Tag Team Championships Ladder Match: The Hardy Boyz (Matt & Jeff) defeated Gallows & Anderson, Cesaro & Sheamus and Enzo & Cass to win the titles

This was the best part of the show. They had the New Day come onto the stage to say a fourth team was being added to the match. There was a tease that it would be them, but instead it was Matt and Jeff Hardy. Huge ovation for them. Biggest reaction of the night in terms of introductions. They were rumored to have come to a deal with WWE in the last few months after leaving Impact Wrestling and a brief run in Ring of Honor, but it wasn’t a sure thing. I figured it would be on Raw or Smackdown this week. Instead, the Hardys were put in this match, which was likely changed to a Ladder Match last week because WWE knew they were coming in.

The match went about 12 minutes, which is short for a Ladder Match. There were a lot of cool spots in the match with guys using the ladders as weapons. The biggest spot of the match was when Jeff did a huge Swanton Bomb on Cesaro and Sheamus on ladders that were bridged from the ring apron to the barricade. He barely hit Sheamus, but Cesaro was driven through the ladders. That led to Matt climbing up to retrieve the titles in a very entertaining match.

My prediction going into the match was that Enzo & Cass would win the titles. I made that prediction because I didn’t think the Hardys would be here. Had I known the Hardys would be back, I would have picked them. It sucks for Enzo & Cass because they didn’t get their moment, but WWE made the right call in putting over the Hardys in a big way.

It’s great to see Matt and Jeff back in WWE. Their “Broken” gimmick in Impact Wrestling was a highlight in wrestling last year. Matt’s regained his form as a great talent, thanks to the “Delete” act, while Jeff has always been one of the most popular wrestlers of the last 20 years. Their presence as veterans is really going to help the Raw brand, which needs star power that they instantly provide.

It wasn’t an epic Ladder Match by any means, but as a moment it was a highlight on the show. No doubt about that. Good to see the Hardys “home” in WWE again.

John Cena & Nikki Bella defeated The Miz & Maryse

There wasn’t a lot of celebrity involvement on the show, but Al Roker of the TODAY Show served as a guest ring announcer for the match. Way to appeal to the younger crowd, huh? Not really. Jerry Lawler was a guest announcer for this match as well.

They had a very basic match. Miz worked on Cena for a few minutes, Nikki got the hot tag, easily destroyed Maryse (who hasn’t wrestled in over six years) and Nikki even took out Miz on the floor. Cena got back in there, he hit his signature spots on Miz at the same time as Nikki hitting her spots on Maryse leading to John and Nikki getting the pin at the same time. It went about 10 minutes. Nothing memorable about it.

The post-match scene was memorable. As expected, Cena proposed marriage to Nikki. He pulled out a box with an engagement ring from his shorts pocket and told her when she had her neck surgery over a year ago he would propose to her. He felt like that was the perfect time. She quickly said yes, he put the ring on her left hand and the crowd mostly cheered it.

The proposal was expected. That’s why they did the match in the first place. John and Nikki have dated for about five years. Cena used to say he didn’t want to get married again because he was already divorced once, which led to her talking about it all the time. They are part of both Total Divas and Total Bellas, so whenever they get married they’ll show it on TV with E! Network paying for it. Congrats to the happy couple.

Unsanctioned Match: Seth Rollins defeated Triple H

It was the longest match of the night, which was a bit of a surprise since Rollins missed two months of action with a much-publicized right knee injury. You would think that WWE would let him go easy a bit with a 10-15 minute match. Instead, it went 26 minutes and I thought it was too long. Triple H likes having long matches, so I’m not surprised it went as long as it did.

I thought this match would be filled with interference from the likes of Samoa Joe as well as Finn Balor or Mick Foley showing up. Instead, nobody interfered except Stephanie McMahon trying to help her husband Triple H. They ended up using a lot of weapons and had a slightly better than average match.

Hunter worked on the right knee of Rollins for much of it. He used the steel chair on the knee a bunch of times with Rollins doing a good job of selling it. The crowd didn’t seem into it that much, though. The biggest pop was when Rollins shoved Hunter into Stephanie (she was on the apron) and she went through a table on the floor. At least the right guy won. Rollins is the younger wrestler and it was the right finish to have him win clean with a Pedigree.

WWE Championship: Randy Orton defeated Bray Wyatt to win the title

This was by far the most disappointing match on the card because I had high expectations. The Triple H match went about 15 minutes longer than this one. What’s more important? The WWE Title match should be just as important, if not more important. Instead, this felt rushed and the crowd didn’t care.

The worst part of the match was when Wyatt would pose in the corner, the show would switch to an above the ring camera and there were different insects like tapeworms and beetles shown crawling around. The crowd reacted to it as if they were grossed out. I just thought it looked stupid. The finish was weak with Orton just hitting a RKO out of nowhere to win. It was another finish that made me wonder why they would end a match without a better finish. It’s WrestleMania. Plan your finishes better.

The win gave Orton his 13th World Title in his WWE career. It’s an impressive number for sure, but I thought WWE put the title on him too soon. I would have waited to do it.

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar defeated Goldberg to win the title

Lesnar attacked immediately with three German Suplexes. Goldberg came back with two Spears. Goldberg also hit a Jackhammer and got a near-fall as Lesnar kicked out of a move that few people have ever kicked out from. Great moment when Goldberg charged in and Lesnar jumped over him, showing tremendous athleticism. Lesnar hit 10 German Suplexes in total, which the crowd loved. Lesnar finished him off with the F5 for the clean win as expected.

The timing of the match was a big question going into it. I thought they would get seven to 10 minutes, but they went with 4:45, which is fine.

This was likely the end of Goldberg in WWE as a wrestler. He’s 50 years old and talked about how difficult it was for him to get in Goldberg shape of old. Since he’s so limited in the ring, he shouldn’t have matches anymore. It’s time to walk away.

Lesnar is expected to work a more regular schedule for the rest of the year. He’s advertised for Raw’s Payback PPV on April 30, so expect to see him featured quite a bit as the Universal Champion.

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss, Mickie James, Natalya, Becky Lynch & Carmella to win the title

It was a “Six Pack Challenge” match where the first woman to get a fall was declared the winner. They did a lot of fast-paced high spots with all of them getting in some big moves leading to near-falls. It was five hours into the show, so the crowd was tired, but they cared a lot about Naomi. That’s why the finish of the match was smart with Naomi forcing Bliss to tap out to a submission move that Naomi applied to Bliss’ head/arms.

It would have been nice if they got more time, but they made the most of their six minutes. Naomi was the right choice as the winner since she’s from Orlando and the crowd loved her.

Roman Reigns defeated The Undertaker

Jim Ross joined the announce team of Michael Cole and John Bradshaw Layfield to call this match. Ross is back in WWE in some capacity that we don’t yet know exactly. Good to see him there after he has had a rough couple of weeks since his wife, Jan, died when she was hit by a car. It’s been very tough on JR. Being at ringside to call this match was good for him and I’m glad that he was there for it.

They went 23 minutes, which was probably a mistake because it was a below-average match that wasn’t up to the high standards we have been used to with Undertaker matches at WrestleMania. Part of that is because Undertaker is 52 years old, has a bad hip and didn’t wrestle much in the last few years. Reigns is also the kind of wrestler that isn’t going to bump around for him to make him look great. AJ Styles would have been the right opponent to have a classic match. Instead, WWE chose Reigns because he’s the guy they think is the future of the company and they wanted him to go over big.

There were a few spots in the match where they were clearly struggling. When Undertaker did a Powerbomb out of the corner, it didn’t look good because he could barely get Reigns up. There was another moment where Reigns tried to reverse an Undertaker move into a Tombstone attempt of his own, but he couldn’t get Undertaker up on two tries. Blame both guys for it, I guess. They did a Hell’s Gate submission spot on the mat that looked bad too. That’s what happens when a wrestler is older like Undertaker. You can’t move around the ring like the good old days.

Undertaker came close to winning a few times as he delivered signature moves like a Chokeslam onto a chair for a near-fall and a Tombstone. Reigns kicked out of both as expected. Reigns hit the Superman Punch a bunch of times in the match. Reigns also hit the Spear several times and finished him off with a Spear after running into the ropes several times for more momentum.

No sign of a Reigns heel turn as I had hoped. He just looked back at Undertaker with a serious look on his face. It’s not like he did anything that would suggest he’s a bad guy now. It could still happen on Raw, but my guess is Reigns is continued to be booked like a face that a lot of fans don’t like. Reigns was booed a lot, which is the usual reaction for him.

The loss for Undertaker meant that he was 23-2 at WrestleMania. It was likely the last match of his career. It was the right decision to have Reigns beat him clean. That’s the way older guys do it in pro wrestling. They are there to put over the younger guys. Like him or not, Reigns is a big part of WWE’s future as a guy in his early 30s that headlined the last three WrestleManias.

After Reigns left, the scene focused on The Undertaker in the ring. He did his famous sit up to a huge ovation. Undertaker took his time looking out to the crowd to soak up the cheers as he received a standing ovation. Undertaker put on his famous black leather jacket and black hat as well. He then slowly took off his gloves, jacket and hat and left them in the ring while the stadium was filled with his purple light. Undertaker walked out of the ring, went over to his wife Michelle McCool (a former WWE superstar that he married several years ago) and kissed her. He went back up the ramp to the spot where had entered the building about midway down the long ramp. He stood with his back to the crowd and held up his right arm as he had done so many times before. Then he was lowered under the ramp as the lights went out in the stadium and WrestleMania ended 10 minutes after midnight.

The Undertaker will be missed by the WWE Universe, but I think we can all agree that it is the right time for him to walk away. He’s 52 years old, has a bad hip and his physical limitations were obvious watching this match. As I watched it, I didn’t really care about the match quality. I just hoped that he wouldn’t do anything to hurt himself even more because I felt bad for him.

I like the way the show ended with The Undertaker taking his time to say goodbye to the WWE Universe. I don’t think he’s the kind of guy who will have a big goodbye speech on Raw or a ceremony honoring him. I think that was his goodbye. We are all lucky to have been able to watch him over the last 27 years. It’s incredible that he lasted as long as he did as one of WWE’s greatest legends.

Thank you to The Undertaker for all of the great moments and a wonderful career. The term “legend” gets thrown around a lot in the wrestling business. I think it’s fair to say that he may be the biggest legend of them all.

In Closing

I thought it was an average show. In terms of PPVs this year, it wasn’t as good as Royal Rumble or Elimination Chamber, but much better than Fastlane.

WrestleMania is a big spectacle because that’s what WWE promotes it as. What I wish they would also do is remember that WrestleMania was built on outstanding matches. There wasn’t one match on this show that I would call outstanding and that’s disappointing.

There were five wrestlers over the age of 45 on this show: Shane McMahon, Chris Jericho, Triple H, Goldberg and The Undertaker. All of them lost as they should. That’s pro wrestling, folks. Old guys put over younger guys. That’s how it should be.

Guys like Samoa Joe and Finn Balor should have had a role on the show. They are guys who will likely be a big part of the Raw brand, but they deserved be on this big stage as well.

I can’t decide who was booked the worst at WrestleMania. Here are my unofficial rankings: Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman, Sami Zayn and  Baron Corbin. Strowman and Corbin should have been in bigger matches and should have won those matches. Maybe if one of them was friends with a NFL player, they would have went over.

It was an interesting show thanks to the Hardys’ return, the Cena proposal, The Undertaker’s retirement and all of the title changes. However, I wouldn’t call it a great show and if you are a fan of great matches on PPVs, there will be other PPVs this year that have much better matches.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a look at what is usually one of the best Raw episodes of the year.

About John Canton

John has been writing about WWE online since the late 1990s. He's written for WhatCulture, Bleacher Report, Layfield Report, Rajah.com and many other places. You can follow John Canton on Twitter @johnreport or email him at mrjohncanton@gmail.com with any comments or questions. For more of his wrestling opinions, visit his website at TJRWrestling.net.