It was billed as “The Ultimate Thrill Ride”, but did WrestleMania 33 live up to the hype? Thanks to WWE Home Video Matthew Roberts takes another look to find out.
This two Blu-Ray set is essentially a no frills look at the WrestleMania 33 weekend. It features the full match card (including all the pre-show matches) and also gives us the Hall of Fame Ceremony. The single “Blu-Ray exclusive” is a compilation of The Miz’s “Total Bella’s” spoofs.
But that’s not to say that you don’t get a LOT for your money in the one sense. Both Mania and the HOF ceremony go on for HOURS. Both are also worth revisiting, two months or so down the line.
Mania itself is likely to be forever remembered for the last time we’ll ever see The Undertaker in the ring. Of course there’s been no official word and in wrestling you can never say never but it’s inconceivable that the man would ever need to step into the ring for another match. That’s not to say that, emotional send off aside, he left on a particularly high note. Of course it’s easy to blame Roman Reigns if you’re that way inclined (for the record, I’m not and also think that the result of this one was the “best for business” thing to do) but essentially we saw why it was time for ‘Taker to bow out. One thing is for sure. We will never see another one quite like him.
Luckily, if the main event couldn’t catch fire from a match quality point of view the undercard did have it’s moments to remember…even if nothing really excelled to enter the discussions of the greatest ever Mania matches.
The long-awaited Brock Lesnar – Bill Goldberg rematch at least had a special “Big Time” atmosphere. For what it was, it was perfectly acceptable too. No-one was expecting a thirty minute mat-classic but for a five minute power fest it delivered all you could have reasonably expected. And by now, parroting out the “part-time” complaints about the members of the roster who generally get the biggest pushes at Mania is largely something to avoid. It’s just how the WWE is these days.
AJ Styles went someway to confirming his status as the true best in the world with his overly long match with Shane McMahon. Again, I could wax lyrical on the absurdness of Shane trading wrestling holds and matching Styles blow for blow, but that’s just what you get in the WWE when a McMahon is in the ring. It could have done with being at least five minutes shorter for me, but Styles was excellent, McMahon largely kept up with him and at least it wasn’t Shane Vs Brock.
The United States and World Tag Team Titles matches were the best things on the card. Kevin Owens and Chris Jericho did what you would expect of two experienced talents. If it didn’t quite rustle up the intensity you’d expect given the storyline of the two former best friends battling, ultimately that didn’t really matter in what was a fine encounter. The Tag Team Title match benefited from the surprise return of The Hardy’s but the Ladder stipulation meant we were provided with the usual collection of insane high spots and bumps and you certainly have to credit the effort of all involved.
The other championship matches didn’t go as well. The Raw Women’s Championship four way was a good effort but fell short of what we’d seen the year previously. It also felt that it was a four way for the sake of getting names on the card. Of course the Alexa Bliss Vs The Smackdown Women’s roster stipulation for that title match was more of the same. It was rushed and the girls did about all they could with what they were given. Still both were infinitely better than the WWE Championship bout between Bray Wyatt and Randy Orton. The feud on Smackdown had seemed rushed (which is even more bizarre considering how long they had to plan it) and this match was, frankly, dull and tedious and offered none of the intensity that you’d have expected. The maggots thing may have been intended as a cool visual but it fell distinctly flat. This would have been a bad Smackdown match, so was never worthy of being on the grandest stage of them all.
Triple H had yet another intermittently boring WrestleMania match, this time against Seth Rollins. Apologies if this is beginning to sound like a broken record but again there was little of the intensity a grudge match like this should have generated. But still, this is Triple H and Rollins exacting swift storyline revenge had to make way for the Cerebral Assassin dominating and Rollins scraping a “hard-fought” win. That Rollins still seemed bothered by his injury didn’t help. The mixed tag between John Cena & Nikki Bella and The Miz & Maryse wasn’t great but it had a certain ramshackle charm to it. They did their best, lets put it that way.
The trio of Kick-off matches had varying fortunes. Neville and Austin Aries were given the time but the open -air setting and the timing of the match (thousands of fans weren’t in the arena yet) meant that it had to settle for being “good” rather than “great”. The Andre The Giant Battle Royale was the usual pointless exercise in getting people a Mania pay-day and Rob Gronkowski’s appearance telegraphed the ending. And if you disagree on my opinion that this was a pointless match, notice how the WWE have done absolutely nothing of importance with winner Mojo Rawley since this match yet Jinder Mahal, who was eliminated by Rawley, is currently WWE Champion. The final kick-off match, for the Intercontinental Title, was hugely disappointing and never really got going. Dean Ambrose and Baron Corbin put on a match that would have been a mildly diverting Smackdown TV main event, nothing more.
Overall WrestleMania 33 will never be considered a classic, but it would be unfair to say it wasn’t without it’s moments. It’s difficult to imagine anything other than Undertaker’s retirement, however, gaining genuine traction as one of those coveted “WrestleMania moments” in years to come.
The Hall of Fame ceremony was, like Mania itself, overly long but every induction and acceptance speech hit the mark. I would struggle to sit through it from start to finish but dipped into, one speech at a time, it’s a definite winner and adds a lot to this BluRay release.
TWM’s Verdict: 8 out of 10.
Photos courtesy: Fetch, Fremantle Media, WWE
Format reviewed: Blu-Ray
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