Wrestlemania 34 Recap

Keeping with the past two years of tradition, it’s time for Cinema Smack’s recap of Wrestlemania 34! This year’s event came live from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana. Like last year, this show was absolutely exhausting. With the preshow starting at 4PM central time, Wrestlemania didn’t conclude until seven(!) hours later. Needless to say, that is a lot of WWE to digest in one evening. Nonetheless, it’s the biggest show of the year and there’s a lot to absorb. Let’s get to the recap!

  1. Matt Hardy won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
    • Well, to start, we may as well quote ourselves once again about this particular match. “Remember when this event was introduced at Wrestlemania XXX and it was supposed to bring prestige to the winner?” This is, without doubt, the jobber battle royal. These are all of the outcasts that didn’t have an appropriate spot on the Wrestlemania 34 card and, in a day and age where everyone gets a participation trophy, they’re all thrown together here. In a strange turn of events, Bray Wyatt suddenly returns to help Matt Hardy eliminate previous winners Mojo Rawley and Baron Corbin. In a bit of confusion, the bell doesn’t ring right after Hardy “wins” the match. Apparently the timekeeper wasn’t entirely sure what Bray’s purpose was here either. Garbage.
  2. Cedric Alexander defeated Mustafa Ali to win the vacant Cruiserweight Championship
    • Poor 205 Live and the Cruiserweight division. It truly is hard to care about it even though 205 Live has supposedly gotten better lately. These guys simply aren’t given the time to get over with audiences and build personality. That being said, both Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali put on a good match. Ali’s Sub-Zero inspired Mortal Kombat entrance was pretty cool as well. Ali’s crazy imploding 450 splash is a killer finisher but Alexander picks up the win with his devastating lumbar check.
  3. Naomi wins the inaugural Wrestlemania Women’s Battle Royal
    • As most of you probably know, WWE made a horrible mistake with their women’s battle royal upon its announcement as the Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal. It has been noted in recent years that Moolah was known for holding down and pimping out some of the other female wrestlers of years past. Now, instead of a trophy depicting the Fabulous Moolah, we get a golden uterus instead. Seriously. When you look at the trophy, what else could it possibly be? Anyway, only Becky Lynch, Bayley, and Sasha Banks get appropriate entrances with the rest of the ladies coming out together. What’s even more odd is that none of these three win. For some reason, Naomi wins the match after Bayley believed she won after dumping out Sasha. This battle royal had the same problems that the women’s Royal Rumble had earlier this year. All of the women constantly roll out of the ring so you can’t even tell who’s in or out. Either way, this match was no good and it doesn’t seem to matter who wins it.
  4. Seth Rollins defeated The Miz and Finn Balor to win the Intercontinental Championship
    • The first match of Wrestlemania 34 proper was arguably the best of the night. The Miz has been on fire over the past few years as a heel and both Seth Rollins and Finn Balor are top notch workers in the company. Though, it’s strange that WWE has seemingly dumped Balor’s painted up “Demon King” persona. Personally, I’m totally fine with that as it was often an overbearing gimmick. For the most part, this was a very well executed match with some close pinfalls and only a few kickouts after finishing moves. The Miz hit an awesome springboard Skull Crushing Finale on Seth Rollins from the turnbuckle that easily could’ve won the match. However, the triple threat match type came into play and, after a series of finishers by each men, Rollins walked out the new Intercontinental Champion. Again, this was one of the best matches of the night if not the best. 
  5. Charlotte Flair defeated Asuka to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship
    • This match was the first of many that had interesting outcomes at Wrestlemania 34. The Smackdown Women’s Champion, Charlotte Flair, came out in a “queen-like” entrance while her undefeated challenger, Asuka, had nothing special. Regardless, both of these women are spectacles with or without special entrances. They put on an excellent match showing a lot of athleticism and hard hitting moves. There was an especially brutal suplex by Asuka on Charlotte from the ring apron down to the floor. Then, all of a sudden, it was over as Asuka tapped out to Charlotte’s Figure 8 finisher. It was a very abrupt end to the match and it simply didn’t feel like the match should’ve been over at that point. Now, it’s safe to wonder what the WWE plans to do with Asuka as her big storyline was being undefeated throughout her entire WWE/NXT run. Charlotte is a more than capable champion but it felt like this should’ve been Asuka’s time. Despite the quick finish, this was women’s wrestling at its finest and another candidate for match of the night.
  6. Jinder Mahal defeated Randy Orton, Bobby Roode, and Rusev to win the United States Championship
    • So, the cameras kept cutting to John Cena sitting at ringside as his challenge to the Undertaker didn’t receive a response. Right before this match, a referee runs out to tell Cena that the Undertaker has arrived. You could literally hear the referee say this. Cena runs to the back while the commentators wonder what he’s doing. This was so stupid as you could hear what the ref was saying and then they continued to ponder throughout the show as well. Whatever. The match for the United States Championship was absolutely useless. The only memorable thing about this match was how over Rusev was with the crowd as the Superdome chanted “Rusev Day!” Then, Jinder Mahal hit The Khallas on the aforementioned Rusev and it was over. Ouch.
  7. Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey defeated Triple H and Stephanie McMahon in an intergender tag match
    • This was one of the most hyped matches of the night as it was the in-ring debut of the baddest woman on the planet, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey. Up to this point, the WWE has been iffy with Rousey. Saying she’s the baddest woman on the planet doesn’t necessarily make it so. However, on this night, Rousey proved her mettle to the WWE Universe. It wasn’t always pretty but it got the job done. Triple H and Stephanie came out on motorcycles similar to last year but, as usual, they looked pretty cool in doing so. The match kicked off with Triple H and Kurt Angle, who was making his first appearance at Wrestlemania in twelve years. Angle looked a little sluggish through most of the match but that’s to be expected given his age and part time status. Steph continuously played mind games with Rousey before Ronda finally scored a hot tag from Angle. She barged into the ring and began throwing Steph around like a rag doll. She displayed a lot off fluid transitions into different moves and it was pretty unique from what we’re used to seeing in a WWE ring. We even got to see some intergender violence between Rousey and Triple H which is interesting in today’s WWE climate. Rousey got the win when Stephanie tapped out to the arm bar. While some of Rousey’s moves looked a little sloppy, she definitely looked solid in her debut. She’s not ready to take on the likes of Charlotte or Asuka but she definitely brings star appeal to the women’s roster.
  8. The Bludgeon Brothers defeated The Usos and The New Day to win the Smackdown Tag Team Championships
    • This was an absolute nothing match. The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) win pretty quickly. Honestly, there’s nothing more to say about this match other than The Usos and New Day could’ve torn the house down (AGAIN) if given the chance. Next…
  9. The Undertaker defeated John Cena
    • Here it is. The match people have been waiting for for years and… it was a squash. Cena came out expecting the Undertaker but he got Elias instead. Cena got in some shoulder tackles and a five knuckle shuffle on Elias before the Undertaker finally made his entrance. So much for the retirement angle last year. Undertaker controlled the entirety of this match and crushed Cena in mere minutes with a tombstone piledriver. This was the only outcome that this match could have. Undertaker’s streak was broken years ago and he couldn’t lose a second year in a row. It was nothing more than a fluff match but it was entertaining and it made Undertaker look good. There was one spot where Taker missed a big boot by at least a foot but, other than that, the match was fine for what it was. The only thing that could’ve been better is if Undertaker would’ve appeared in the ring behind Cena when Cena was walking out thinking Taker wasn’t going to show. Then, Cena could’ve ran back to the ring and started brawling like they did at the start. Either way, it was fine and definitely one of the biggest moments on the show.
  10. Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon defeated Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
    • Four years prior to this, Daniel Bryan won the world title in the Superdome in one of the most memorable Wrestlemania moments in years. Here, he made his emotional return to the ring after retiring due to injury. Simply put, Bryan still has it. He was attacked immediately by Owens and Zayn but came back on fire. It’s concerning to see Bryan doing many of his usual dangerous moves. If he wants to maintain longevity, he should really consider changing up his moveset a little. Either way, this was a really solid battle that’s overshadowed by the sheer joy of seeing Bryan in the ring again. It told a story as Owens and Zayn are now fired from Smackdown Live but that wasn’t the story of the match. The story was the triumphant return of one of the most beloved wrestlers in recent memory. Also, Shane McMahon put on a ballsy performance considering he was diagnosed with diverticulitis and an umbilical hernia just weeks ago. Kudos.
  11. Nia Jax defeated Alexa Bliss for the Raw Women’s Championship
    • If you ever wanted to see the culmination of a feud based on fat shaming, here you go. Nia Jax pummeled Alexa Bliss to win the title. Bliss was a great heel champion but this storyline was trash. On top of that, what can you even do with Nia as champion? The only person that could pose a threat is Asuka. Oops. WWE ruined that because they already had Asuka barely escape Nia at Elimination Chamber in February. Oh well.
  12. AJ Styles defeated Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE Championship
    • The WWE Championship was called the most prestigious prize in the industry. OK, then why isn’t this match going on last? Also, why did it say “Universal Champion AJ Styles” on the screen when AJ made his entrance? Whatever. Shinsuke Nakamura had an awesome entrance with Nita Strauss from Alice Cooper’s band playing an electric guitar version of his theme with a slew of drummers behind him. As for the match, this was NOT a repeat of AJ and Shinsuke’s classic from Wrestle Kingdom 10. It was surprisingly slow and methodical. It picked up a little at the end with the two trading hard blows. The best thing about the whole buildup to this match was that they didn’t need much of a story. Simply, it was the two best workers in the promotion battling each other on the biggest stage. AJ scored the pinfall victory after a Styles Clash to retain his title. Afterwards, though, Shinsuke turned heel on AJ with a low blow. So, WWE is going to give us more of these two? Thank you. These two are a joy to watch even on their worst day so bring it on. This match wasn’t the classic that many expected but hopefully their next encounter will come closer to the lofty expectations. 
  13. Braun Strowman and Nicholas defeated The Bar to win the Raw Tag Team Championships
    • This had absolutely no business being on the main Wrestlemania card. Braun Strowman brought out a partner of his choosing to take on Cesaro and Sheamus of The Bar. He chose a ten year old boy from the audience. Well, not entirely. It appears that Nicholas is the son of referee John Cone. Even so, this was stupid. Speculation was riding high on a big name like Rey Mysterio returning or Big Show joining forces with Strowman as the biggest tag team ever but nope. Nicholas. Cesaro and Sheamus have become a legitimately good team but they’re crushed by one man here and it definitely wasn’t Nicholas. Speaking of Big Show, where was he on this card?
  14.  Brock Lesnar defeated Roman Reigns to retain the Universal Championship
    • In the biggest surprise of the night, Roman Reigns did NOT walk out of Wrestlemania as the Universal Champion. That being said, the fans in the packed Superdome didn’t respond kindly to this ludicrously lumbering match. Suplexes, Superman punches, Spears, and F5s were all that this match offered and it absolutely sucked. After Reigns kicked out of a fifth F5, Brock bashed his skull in with an elbow just like he did to Randy Orton at Summerslam 2016. Why won’t WWE just let their talent use a blade to cut themselves instead of getting intentional blood in a dangerous manner such as this? Essentially, they’re intentionally getting blood using supposed unintentional means. Reigns bled all over the place before making a small comeback but ultimately being put down by a sixth F5. In this case, the right person won the match. The WWE Universe despises Roman Reigns and it’s doubtful that they even care that much about Lesnar. This match is a testament to how much people don’t want Reigns on top. “CM Punk” and “boring” chants broke out during the match. That’s not what you want during your Wrestlemania main event. This match was trash but at least Reigns isn’t champion.

Overall, Wrestlemania 34 was a solid show. It was far from the best Wrestlemania and it had some awful moments but it was entertaining enough. The Intercontinental and Smackdown Women’s Championship matches were the best on the show. The intergender tag match and Daniel Bryan’s return offered up a lot of fun. Even seeing the Undertaker squash John Cena could be considered a highlight of the show. It was definitely better than the last two Wrestlemania events. There were also some dangerously bad low points of the show as well. Most notably, the tag title matches and main event stunk up the joint. It’ll be interesting to see where some of the storylines go from here as the new “season” of WWE programming begins tonight live on Raw.

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