The WWE Network has produced several great documentaries in the last few years. They appear in a section on WWE Network called “Originals” and the documentaries are under the “WWE 24” name. Previous editions of “WWE 24” have been features about individual wrestlers like Seth Rollins and Finn Balor coming back from injuries as well as documentaries about the WWE returns of legends like Kurt Angle and Goldberg. They have also done WWE 24 specials on WrestleManias 30 (New Orleans), 31 (Silicon Valley) and 32 (Dallas).
The most recent “WWE 24” feature focused on last year’s WrestleMania in Orlando, also known as WrestleMania 33 even though WWE has stopped using the numbers when promoting the show.
For this review, I’ll break it down into three sections covering some of the more major topics from the show and then some notes on the rest of it. The documentary runs 58 minutes long.
The Hardys’ Surprise Return At WrestleMania
The Hardy Boyz (brothers Matt and Jeff Hardy) were shown in a trailer talking about their big surprise return. The story about the return is they were brought to the stadium after doing an appearance, then taken into some trailer and most people in WWE had no idea they were coming. Some of us on the internet thought it might happen, but it’s one of those things where you have to see it to believe it.
Jeff let out a yell because he was really excited to be back in WWE. Jeff spoke about how he missed the crowds, which is notable because he was gone from WWE for about seven years and in Impact Wrestling they have much smaller crowds. Matt said they were excited to show they had a lot of fuel left in the tank. Matt is 43 years old now and Jeff is 40 years old, with both guys starting in WWE about 20 years ago.
The entrances for the Raw Tag Team Titles were shown. At the same time, the Hardy Boyz were shown walking from a trailer with WWE’s Senior Direction of Talent Relations, Mark Carrano. They were guided by Carrano as they made their way toward the arena. As we all saw during the show, The New Day did a promo saying there was a fourth team in the Ladder Match, which drew a huge reaction due to all of the rumors surrounding the Hardys.
The Hardys were backstage getting ready to make their surprise return and once they were introduced, it was so awesome to see all the fan reactions for their entrance. It was one of the loudest ovations of the year. They showed highlights of the match with the Hardys getting the win and grabbing the Raw Tag Team Titles from the ladders. The fans were going crazy for this. It was a highlight of the show, that’s for sure.
It was even better when the Hardys were shown backstage when Big Show hugged both of them, said he hated them for not telling and called them “you ribbing f**ks” (the swear word got bleeped) and they were laughing about it because the Hardys kept the surprise from everybody. Matt talked about all the people they saw backstage that they were not allowed to tell. They were hugged by friends like Kevin Owens and AJ Styles as well. Jeff said he felt the incredible reaction that made the nerves go away and the adrenaline kicked in. Matt called it the coolest moment of their career.
I think the Hardys are one of the best tag teams in WWE history, no question about that. They were one of the best teams ever if this return didn’t happen, but the fact that they got one of the loudest reactions I’ve ever heard at a WrestleMania shows how much they mean to the WWE Universe as well.
John Cena Proposes Marriage to Nikki Bella
“I can honestly say it is my career highlight. There will be nothing that I can do after this that can ever top it.” – John Cena
One of the biggest matches at last year’s WrestleMania was John Cena teaming up with then-girlfriend Nikki Bella against the heel team of The Miz and his lovely wife Maryse. It was one of the best feuds on the Smackdown brand in early 2017 with Miz and Maryse doing some funny skits where they imitated John and Nikki. It also led to some great promos from both sides.
During the Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday before WrestleMania, The Miz said that his WrestleMania match was the match that everybody wants to watch. I don’t agree with that at all, but the build-up was fun. It was a boring match. The Miz and Maryse were shown in the car going to WrestleMania with Miz talking about how they are going to be together in a tag match for the first time. Miz said there was some realism to the rivalry with Cena and Nikki, which the fans could tell.
Nikki Bella spoke about how when she speared Tyler Breeze two weeks before WrestleMania (when Breeze was dressed as Nikki Bella), she hit her head and it hurt her neck, which was surgically repaired. They showed Nikki getting checked out by her surgeon and she was cleared to compete before WrestleMania. Nikki spoke about the speculation that Cena was going to propose to her and she said that she didn’t think John would propose to her. When John and Nikki were on ESPN the day of WrestleMania, Cena said that it’s a night where moments will last a lifetime.
There was a nice moment with John Cena and Nikki Bella when they made their entrance. Cena was going to throw his hat and noticed his mom there in the front row. Cena says: “Holy s**t, my mom’s here.” I guess he had no idea. Cena mentioned his mom doesn’t travel much or understand all of WWE. Cena went back in the ring saying: “That’s my mom!” Cena called it a wonderful, genuine surprise.
Cena and Nikki won the match over Miz and Maryse easily in what was a boring match, although if you watch this video you would think it was a great match. That’s okay, though. It’s all about telling stories.
Cena admitted that he wanted to propose marriage to Nikki years ago while adding that there was no way of proving it. I should add also that on Total Divas for several years, he told her many times he didn’t want to get married. When Cena did the marriage proposal, the documentary showed many shots of fans in the crowd crying and celebrating for the happy couple. Nikki said it was four-and-a-half years of being with John at that point and she didn’t know if she would ever hear those words. Cena said he wanted it to be the moment she envisioned. There was a shot of Nikki hugging Vince McMahon backstage with Nikki saying nobody knew John was proposing except Vince. Nikki said it was a real moment. Cena said that’s his career highlight and nothing he can do will ever top it.
It was a cool moment for the couple and I am genuinely happy for them getting married, but I have to question some of it. I think that Nikki had to be aware it was coming, since they spent the whole month before WrestleMania with Maryse and Miz taunting Nikki about not being married to Cena. It’s fine if Nikki wants to say she didn’t know what would happen, but most of us watching figured Cena would propose, so that’s why I question if she’s telling the truth. Plus, going into the match, most of us fans expected to see it. That’s pro wrestling, though. People lie to tell stories. Does it really matter either way? No. Congrats to John and Nikki for having that cool moment.
The Undertaker rides off into the sunset… or did he?
“Right now, I’m pretty content on riding off into the sunset… we’ll see what tomorrow brings.” – The Undertaker
The Undertaker wrestled Roman Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania. There was no title on the line, but going into the show, many people believed it might have been The Undertaker’s last match ever in his nearly 30-year career. More on that later.
The Undertaker was shown in a car completely out of character on his way to WrestleMania. That was unique to see him out of character like that. It was also sad to see him limping when he walked, which isn’t that surprising considering his injury history.
Taker said he’s prepared physically as well as he could, but he has to make sure there’s gas in the tank. Taker talked about his biggest fear is becoming a parody of himself. He thinks the fans should get the best Undertaker he can give them.
Roman Reigns was shown standing near the ring commenting on how long the entrance was while WWE legends Shawn Michaels said hello to him. Reigns spoke about how you don’t get many moments like this in your life and claimed it would be the biggest moment because it’s with The Undertaker. John Bradshaw Layfield said that he doesn’t care what Reigns does over the next 20 years because this will be the biggest match Reigns will have. Reigns spoke about how much everybody respects The Undertaker. Jim Ross commented on Undertaker possibly wrestling his last match, so he had mixed emotions about it.
The main event of WrestleMania was The Undertaker vs. Roman Reigns, so the documentary focused on Undertaker getting ready for the match while Reigns said it doesn’t get much bigger than this. The highlights aired of Reigns hitting the final Spear to win the match, which led to boos from the crowd. Reigns told the camera it was The Undertaker’s yard, but it’s Roman’s yard now and he swears to God he’ll look after it.
Highlights aired of The Undertaker leaving his jacket, gloves and hat in the ring as fans were shown crying about it. They showed a clip of The Undertaker when he was lowered during his spot on the ramp and he took a moment for himself to just savor what happened.
The Undertaker said it was surreal right now and it was 30 years of his life dedicated to the wrestling business, most of which was spent with WWE (he started at Survivor Series 1990). He got a big hug from Triple H.
The line from Taker about “riding off into the sunset” is what most people assumed he was doing when he left his gloves, hat, and jacket in the ring. However, he likely has one more match left in him likely against John Cena at WrestleMania this year. I guess that means when they air WWE 24 for this year’s WrestleMania they can do the same “Undertaker might have had his last match” story again.
Other Notes from “WWE 24: WrestleMania Orlando”
Those were the three main stories in the documentary. Here are some other things that caught my eye.
** Kurt Angle’s Hall of Fame induction was shown with John Cena introducing him. There was an entire WWE 24 special on Kurt Angle that WWE released last year, so if you want more of that coverage I recommend checking out that documentary as well. Cena called Angle the most gifted all-around performer that’s been in the ring and then Angle called Cena the greatest of all time. They have a lot of respect for eachother.
** There was a focus on Naomi rehabbing hard to make it back from a knee injury to compete at WrestleMania. Naomi ended up getting back in the ring at WrestleMania and winning back the Smackdown Women’s Championship. After the match was over, it was cool to see Naomi get that moment in her hometown of Orlando as well as a big hug from her husband Jimmy Uso.
** Alexa Bliss was the Smackdown Women’s Champion and she was shown checking out the stadium hours before the show. They showed the clip of her in 2014 at WrestleMania 30 when she was part of the Triple H entrance. It was cool to see her being really excited about it. Let’s not forget that a lot of the WWE superstars are fans like us who grew up watching this stuff, so it’s emotional for them to be out there for a WrestleMania.
** Big Cass and Kevin Owens talked about where they sat in the crowd at WrestleMania 24 in Orlando in 2008. Big Show talked about wrestling Floyd Mayweather in 2008 and Charlotte Flair spoke about sitting ringside for Ric Flair’s last WrestleMania match in the same stadium. She had no idea she would be in WWE all these years later.
It was nice to see Ric Flair watching Charlotte’s entrance on a monitor and he joked that they gave Charlotte more pyro than they gave him.
** There was a shot of Seth Rollins practicing his entrance where he held up a torch. Rollins spoke about how a year earlier he was watching the show from a press box due to injury (WrestleMania 31 in 2016), so he was excited to be back. There was also a WWE 24 episode about him, so check that one out.
** Rollins was shown after his match taking a moment to go down to his knees to savor of the moment. The knee injury he suffered in early 2017 wasn’t nearly as bad as the ACL tear that sidelined him from late 2015 into 2016, but you could tell Rollins was emotional. Vince McMahon gave him a big hug and told him that he was proud of him.
** Mojo Rawley winning the Andre the Giant battle royal thanks to NFL superstar Rob Gronkowski’s help was shown. Funny clip of Gronk posing with Goldberg and Goldberg grabbing him in a headlock leading to laughter. Gronk is a legit wrestling fan, so having that moment likely meant a lot for Gronk.
There were plenty of clips shown of the matches on the show as well.
It’s an excellent WWE documentary that any fan of the company is going to enjoy because of the behind the scenes footage and access to the superstars that we don’t normally see. I thought WrestleMania was a disappointing show where they didn’t have enough great matches. It also ran too long at five hours with a two-hour Kickoff Show as well. However, when you watch a documentary like this you can appreciate the work the talent puts in to put on the show.
My favorite part of the whole documentary was everything leading up to the Hardy Boyz returning and that incredible reaction they received when they got out there. That’s a WrestleMania moment we’ll never forget, so to get that access into that moment was pretty cool. Plus, it was pretty funny seeing Big Show laughing with them after they went backstage.
The Undertaker stuff was another part I really liked because you don’t see him breaking character like that too often. From the way he spoke here to his actions in the ring where he left his gear in the ring after the match, it sure looked like it was his last match. It’s probably not the end as I mentioned earlier, but just seeing the emotion from the fans and how emotional Undertaker looked, that was really a special moment.
It was another successful edition of WWE 24. Check it out on demand on WWE Network now.