WrestleMania 34 is in the books and it was an interesting show that ran over five hours on the WWE Network. If you watched the Kickoff Show as well, it was over seven hours. If you attended the event in New Orleans, you were in your seat for about eight hours in total from the time the doors opened.
I’ve been to four WrestleManias this decade and I can tell you it’s exhausting to be there live. It’s a long night and that’s one of the complaints that WWE fans have when it comes to WrestleMania. If you look at it from WWE’s perspective, though, they make a lot of money off this and by making the show run so long, they are able to get more talent on the card. If they cut the show back to three or four hours, talent will be mad they aren’t wrestling at WrestleMania. It’s a tough spot for WWE.
— WWE WrestleMania (@WrestleMania) April 9, 2018
The announced attendance for the show was 78,133 people. Keep in mind that WWE always lies about those numbers (it’s “entertainment,” after all) by adding anywhere from 5,000 people or more to the number. Let’s say it was around 70,000 people.
Here are 10 thoughts I had on the show that took place in the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans.
10. The Kickoff Show battle royals had interesting endings, while Cedric Alexander left WrestleMania as the Cruiserweight Champion
IT HAS BEGUN. pic.twitter.com/EJW7jBgX3Q
— #WOKEN Matt Hardy (@MATTHARDYBRAND) April 9, 2018
The first match was the men’s Andre the Giant battle royal. It was just midcard wrestlers from Raw and Smackdown with nobody from NXT. There were no surprise entrants either. Matt Hardy got the win with an assist from Bray Wyatt, who apparently will be aligned with Hardy and is a good guy for the first time in his career. The match was boring.
Cedric Alexander beat Mustafa Ali to win the vacant Cruiserweight Championship. The key spot was Ali hitting his 054 splash off the top (a reverse 450 splash), but Alexander got his left foot on the bottom rope to kick out. Alexander won with the Lumbar Check finisher. The match wasn’t as good as I expected it to be and the fans were dead for most of it.
The women’s battle royal was better than the men’s match. There were 20 women in this match, while the men’s battle royal had 30 men. The match included wrestlers from NXT, although none of them fared very well.
The key story was Bayley and Sasha Banks worked together to eliminate several people. Bayley tossed out Banks and thought she won the match while the crowd was happy about it. Naomi was still in the match, though. She spent most of it on the floor. Naomi hit the Rear View on Bayley and eliminated her to get the win. It was a random win for Naomi, who hasn’t been used much despite being pushed a lot last year.
9. Seth Rollins became a Grand Slam Champion by winning the Intercontinental Championship in impressive fashion
— Seth Rollins (@WWERollins) April 9, 2018
It was a smart call to put the IC Title match on first with The Miz defending the gold against Seth Rollins and Finn Balor. I thought Balor would get the win since he hasn’t had a significant title run in two years on the main roster, but they chose Rollins instead. The win means that Rollins has held every main roster title that you can win (WWE Title, US Title, IC Title and Tag Team Titles).
The match was really well done with a fast pace, got about 15 minutes and the ending was creative. Balor nailed his Coup de Gras double foot stomp finisher on The Miz off the top rope, followed by Rollins capitalizing with The Stomp and pinning Miz to win the title. That’s a smart way to end the match because it made Miz look tough as a guy who took two finishers in the match.
There will probably be a rematch with Rollins defending the IC Title against The Miz, which should be good. I really want Miz to be on the same show as Daniel Bryan again so we can get that feud. It was teased so much over the past few years and now that Bryan is wrestling again, WWE can book it properly. I’m not sure what’s next for Balor. With a Superstar Shakeup looming in the near future, it’s hard to know where everybody is going to be.
8. Asuka’s undefeated streak ended when she tapped out to Charlotte Flair and the WWE Universe was shocked by it
— Charlotte Flair (@MsCharlotteWWE) April 9, 2018
I thought Asuka was going to beat Charlotte Flair for the Smackdown Women’s Title. I don’t know if I would call it a lock (maybe I did in the weeks leading up to it), but my feeling was that as the Royal Rumble winner, Asuka should win the title to continue her impressive undefeated streak. Instead, Charlotte beat her in impressive fashion.
This was a great match that had a special feel to it from the moment Charlotte entered on a throne as a “queen” that she is. Asuka worked on Charlotte’s left arm for most of the match to try to set her up for an armbar, but Charlotte came back. There were some cool moves with Asuka hitting Charlotte with a suplex on the floor and then Charlotte hit a Spanish Fly (flipping Rock Bottom) off the ropes. Asuka was never able to lock in a submission, but Charlotte was relentless and won with her Figure Eight submission. Fans were shocked at ringside. I was too.
After the match was over, Asuka put over Charlotte by saying that Charlotte was ready for Asuka (that is Asuka’s catchphrase) and congratulated her. That was nice to see and also something that teased what happened later with another Japanese superstar. I hope there’s a rematch soon.
7. The Bludgeon Brothers, Nia Jax and Jinder Mahal all became new champions
— WWE (@WWE) April 9, 2018
The Bludgeon Brothers dominated the Smackdown Tag Team Title triple threat match with the champion Usos and New Day. It didn’t even feel like a regular tag match because the Bludgeon Brothers were in control for all of it and only got about eight minutes for the match. Harper won for his team with a sitout Powerbomb off the middle ropes after they laid out everybody else. It continued the dominant booking of the Bludgeon Brothers over the past six months.
Nia Jax beat Alexa Bliss to win her first title in WWE, the Raw Women’s Championship. This was one of the most obvious outcomes on the card because Jax had to get revenge against her former best friend. Jax destroyed Mickie James before the match to prevent her from interfering. I think the match would have been better if James was interfering to help Bliss, but that didn’t happen. Jax won after about seven minutes with a Samoan Drop off the middle ropes.
Jinder Mahal was the surprise winner in the US Title four-way match with Randy Orton as the champion, Bobby Roode as the former champion and Rusev as my choice to win. Orton hit several RKOs and Roode even had a moment where he could have won, but it was really about Mahal and Rusev. Mahal won, thanks in part to his buddy Sunil Singh causing a distraction, Rusev kicked Singh off the apron and Mahal hit The Khallas on Rusev to win. I think it’s going to lead to Mahal feuding with Rusev with Rusev finally booked as a face who will end up winning the title.
6. Ronda Rousey was very impressive in her debut match that the crowd loved more than anything
It was smart to put Rousey and tag team partner Kurt Angle against Stephanie McMahon and her husband Triple H early in the show. The crowd may not have reacted as well if they did it an hour or two later. Since it was early, fans were invested the whole way with plenty of chants for Rousey, they supported Angle heavily and they really hated Triple H and Stephanie.
Rousey looked like a natural in there. She has been training since last summer, so it’s not like she just started a few weeks ago. Still, it’s her first match in front of 70,000+ people and there was a lot of pressure on her. Stephanie didn’t get in a lot of offense against Rousey, which is fine, but when she did get offense it was usually cheap. That’s how it should have been because there was no reason for Stephanie to stand toe-to-toe with Rousey.
Angle and Triple H played their parts well. It was like a classic hits version of their rivalry in the early 2000s. Both guys are nearly 50 years old, but they still make it look easy and Angle looked better here than he did in the matches he had late last year. Each guy hit their patented finishing moves, but couldn’t win the match with them.
Rousey even had a moment where she faced off with Triple H, which the crowd loved. Give Hunter a lot of credit for putting her over in a big way by selling her moves properly. The finish saw Angle dump Triple H out of the ring, leaving Rousey alone with Stephanie and Rousey kept going for the armbar. When Rousey finally applied the armbar, Stephanie tapped out. There may be an angle where they say Stephanie’s arm was broken, but they may not go that far with it.
I think this was the best match on the show, along with the IC Title match followed by Charlotte/Asuka. They did better than most of us thought and it went longer than expected because it was 20 minutes. I figured it might be 10 minutes with Rousey barely doing anything, but she did a lot. Rousey looks like a natural in that ring. I’m very excited to see what she does next and what her next feud in WWE might be.
5. The Undertaker returned to defeat John Cena in a three-minute match
It was reported months ago that John Cena would wrestle The Undertaker at WrestleMania. However, WWE refused to announce the match for the show and instead had Cena sit in the crowd for a few hours before running to the back when he found out The Undertaker was there. Elias went out there for a song, Cena bet him up easily and finally The Undertaker came out.
The Undertaker came out dressed in usually black “Deadman” attire after his old jacket, gloves and hat were shown in the ring. Those were removed as he made his entrance. The Undertaker beat Cena in less than three minutes while hitting all of his signature moves and barely bumping during the match. He won clean with a Tombstone.
It was fine as a spectacle, but I thought commentary was bad. Michael Cole was pushing that they were the greatest WWE superstars in history, which is okay to say even if most people won’t believe it. Jonathon Coachman was bad, saying this was one of the greatest WrestleMania moments ever. It wasn’t and the crowd knew that, yet WWE wants to try to tell people what to think. This was a 53-year-old Undertaker being protected by not having a regular match and basically just beating Cena easily to not make Taker look old.
The next step is probably a more legit match between Cena and Undertaker. Perhaps they can build it for SummerSlam or maybe next year’s WrestleMania. If they waited until WrestleMania, they can build it up as a Career vs. Career Match with Cena saying he wants one more shot and if he loses, he’ll walk away for good. That’s when Cena would win and Undertaker can finally ride off into the sunset. I’m just throwing it out there as an idea.
4. Daniel Bryan looked as good as ever in his first match in three years
— WWE (@WWE) April 9, 2018
Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens did a cheap attack on Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon before their tag team match began. Bryan was destroyed as Zayn hit him with a Helluva Kick and Owens gave Bryan a Powerbomb on the side of the ring apron. Bryan spent about 10 minutes getting looked at by doctors at ringside while Shane tried to fight off the bad guys.
But he managed to pop back to his feet, got the hot tag and cleaned house. Bryan ended up beating Zayn with the Yes Lock submission to get the win for his team.
The crowd was quiet when Bryan wasn’t in the match, but once he got back in there they came alive chanting “YES” for him as a reminder that Bryan is the most popular guy in WWE this decade. I assume that Bryan will remain on Smackdown although if they move him to Raw, that’s fine too. Bryan is as hot as he’s ever been now that he’s returned to action, so I can see why WWE would want him on Raw.
I’m not sure what the future of Zayn and Owens is since the loss means they are still fired (in the storyline). The obvious thing is they would just sign with Raw, but I think having them find a way back to Smackdown to continue wrestling Bryan is the way to go. Plus, their matches with him would be amazing.
It was great seeing Bryan in the ring again. He’s a favorite of mine and it’s so awesome seeing him doing what he loves again. Here’s hoping he can stay injury-free for many years to come.
3. AJ Styles held onto the WWE Championship leading to Shinsuke Nakamura turning heel
— WWE (@WWE) April 9, 2018
It’s unfortunate to say this, but AJ Styles defending the WWE Title against Shinsuke Nakamura did not live up to the immense “Dream Match” hype that WWE and most of us had for it. They were the third-to-last match in front of a tired crowd, so didn’t really get the crowd into it for most of the match. Styles ended up avoiding the Kinshasa and hit a Styles Clash to win the match. I was surprised by that result, although not as surprised as the Asuka loss or the main event finish.
After the match was over, Nakamura went to present Styles with the title, but when he did, he punched Styles in the groin with a low-blow uppercut! Nakamura kicked Styles after that and walked away getting booed. It was a shocking heel turn from Nakamura that I didn’t expect. Perhaps that is why WWE booked him to lose. They can do the match again with Nakamura as a heel and maybe he’ll win the title in that role.
The Nakamura heel turn was a bit of a shock when it happened but when you think about it more, it makes sense. Smackdown is lacking in top heels especially if Zayn/Owens are really off the show, which is possible. The Superstar Shakeup will change things anyway. I’m just saying with Nakamura turning heel, he can have feuds with Styles and Daniel Bryan.
Nakamura could use a manager in the heel role. Paul Heyman? Doubt it, but he would be perfect.
2. Braun Strowman teamed with a kid to defeat Sheamus and Cesaro
— WWE (@WWE) April 9, 2018
Braun Strowman entered for a tag team match against Sheamus and Cesaro, who were the Raw Tag Team Champions. Strowman had no partner with him. Strowman said that he had to have a tag team partner, so he walked into the crowd and picked a random kid who looked to be around 10 years old.
Strowman asked the kid his name, which was “Nicholas.” With Nicholas standing on the apron, Strowman decimated Sheamus and Cesaro easily. There was even a moment where Nicholas got a tag, but then quickly tagged out. Strowman caught Cesaro when Cesaro was going for a leaping attack and Strowman dropped Cesaro with a Running Powerslam to win. That means that Strowman and Nicholas the kid are the new Raw Tag Team Champions after a “tough” five-minute match.
The kid is actually the son of long-time WWE referee John Cone. They didn’t say that on the broadcast, of course. I give everybody credit for making it look like it was a legit, random kid instead of the son of somebody who works in WWE.
1. The WWE Universe rejected Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns in the main event as Lesnar picked up the surprising victory
— WWE WrestleMania (@WrestleMania) April 9, 2018
It’s hard to describe the main event of Brock Lesnar beating Roman Reigns to retain the Universal Championship. The fans hated the match because they assumed Reigns would win, especially since Reigns kicked out of Lesnar’s F5 finisher three times. Reigns kept hitting Lesnar with Spears, but couldn’t get the job done.
The crowd wasn’t paying attention to the match at all. When they were not booing, they were either playing with beach balls (I hate that), chanting for “CM Punk” and generally not reacting to what WWE was trying to sell them. The problem is a lot of fans dislike Reigns for the massive push he has received. This was Reigns’ fourth WrestleMania main event and he was booed in every one of those matches, yet WWE continues to put Reigns in that spot.
— WWE (@WWE) April 9, 2018
Lesnar ended up getting the win after he elbowed Reigns in the head repeatedly to cut him open, which is something Lesnar has done in the past in his matches. Lesnar hit Reigns with a fifth F5 and pinned Reigns to get the win. They went 17 minutes.
The finishes in the Asuka and Nakamura matches surprised me a lot, but this one was the most surprising. Lesnar has had a one-year Universal Title reign and beaten everybody in his path. The expectation was that he would fall to Reigns. Instead, Lesnar wins again while Reigns looks like a loser against Lesnar for the second time in four years. I’m not sure why WWE booked the match this way or what the plans are going forward. I’m intrigued by it because I hope there’s some good idea planned, but I don’t know what’s next.
I really think the main event should have been Braun Strowman beating Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title. The crowd would have been much more invested in that match because they love Strowman and seeing him win the title would have been a great moment. Instead, it was another main event with Reigns getting booed. Same shit, different year.
WrestleMania 34 was a good show for the first few hours, but the last couple of hours were disappointing. If you want to put a letter grade on it, I’d say it was a B or B-. If you want a score, 7 out of 10.
I think what I’ll remember most about WrestleMania 34 is the impressive debut of Ronda Rousey, Daniel Bryan’s memorable return to the ring looking like he hadn’t missed a beat, and several finishes to matches that left me scratching my head wondering why WWE booked them like that. I don’t mind being wrong in my predictions. It happens. I just want the product to be good.
The Raw after WrestleMania is usually a very good show with some big moments and potentially some surprises. You should check it out tonight if you’re a casual WWE fan because it’s also a show in front of one of the hottest crowds of the year as well.