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Camping World Stadium – Orlando, FL – Sunday, April 2, 2017
Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, and Corey Graves are on commentary for RAW. Tom Phillips, JBL, and David Otunga are representing SmackDown.
AJ Styles defeats Shane McMahon at 20:35. This is an interesting clash of styles here, no pun intended. Styles doesn’t appear to be taking Shane seriously in the early going, so Shane makes him pay for it. They have a pretty evenly contested matchup, with Shane working hard to keep up with his much more experienced opponent. Shane even uses a handful of MMA-inspired submission moves, and some of them look okay. Surprisingly, we get a ref bump in the opening match. Styles goes under the ring and grabs a trash can, which of course backfires on him. Shane sets up for his version of Coast to Coast and he lands it perfectly. He covers but only gets two! Now frustrated, Shane clears off an announce table and sets Styles on top of it. Shane goes for the flying elbow, but Styles moves, and the table explodes. Styles rolls Shane back in and tries the Phenomenal Forearm, but Shane counters it with a DDT! That looked great. Shane goes up top and misses a Shooting Star Press, appearing to take the brunt of the bump on his knees. One more Phenomenal Forearm is enough to get the pin. Well this certainly overdelivered. While it ran just a touch too long, they structured the match to highlight Shane’s strengths. AJ Styles is the man.
Kevin Owens defeats United States Champion Chris Jericho at 16:20 to win the title. Jericho has been the Champion since 1.9.17, and this is his third defense. Fists immediately start flying in this heated battle between former friends. Owens weather the early storm and takes control with a pair of Cannonballs, one on the apron and crushes Jericho up against the ring post. When the fight spills to the floor Jericho is able to regain control. Momentum swings back and forth, as these two know each other very well. Jericho kicks out of a Pop-up Powerbomb, and Owens avoids getting pinned after a Codebreaker by just barely reaching the ropes. With Owens out on the floor, Jericho starts to go after him but gets kicked in the knee. Owens pulls him down and hits the apron powerbomb to get the win. Vince McMahon was famously disappointed in this match, but it’s really not so bad. They kept up a nice pace, countered each other well, and delivered a clean finish. This was certainly better than Jericho’s match the previous year.
RAW Women’s Champion Bayley defeats Charlotte Flair, Nia Jax, and Sasha Banks in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination match to retain the title at 12:45. Bayley has been the Champion since 2.13.17, and this is her second defense. Jax controls the early going with her power advantage, so all three of her opponents gang up on her. Bayley, Flair, and Banks execute a triple powerbomb, and then dogpile on top of Jax to eliminate her first. Flair takes Bayley and Banks out with a corkscrew moonsault to the floor. Back in the ring, Flair and Sasha do battle until Banks gets rammed head-first into an exposed turnbuckle and Flair pins her for the second elimination. After more spirited back-and-forth, Bayley catches Flair with the Macho Elbow to get the pin. This moved along pretty quickly and was generally enjoyable, but never elevated itself to something memorable. Also, it still blows my mind that they blew Bayley winning the title from Flair on a random episode of RAW instead of here.
The Hardy Boyz (Jeff Hardy & Matt Hardy) defeat Big Cass & Enzo Amore, Cesaro & Sheamus, and RAW Tag Team Champions The Club (Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows) at 11:05 in a Fatal 4-Way Ladder Match to win the titles. The Good Brothers have been the Champions since 1.29.17, and this is their fourth defense. Event hosts The New Day come out before the match can start to announce that there is a surprise fourth team – THE HARDY BOYZ! I loved having New Day make the announcement because it seemed like it would be them, and then bam, the crowd loses their collective mind when the Hardys’ music hits. This is all chaos, all the time from all eight men. The crowd is majorly supporting Matt and Jeff, obviously. After an abundance of high spots that keeps the crowd on the edge of their seat, Matt takes Anderson off the top of a ladder with the Twist of Fate. Jeff crushes Sheamus and Cesaro with a Swanton Bomb from a ladder while they both lay on ladder bridges between the ring and the barricade. Matt then pulls the belts down to give the Hardys their seventh WWE Tag Team Title reign. Great surprise, great spot-fest, and an actual WrestleMania Moment.
John Cena & Nikki Bella defeat The Miz & Maryse in Mixed Tag Team Match at 9:40. “Chocolate Thunder” Al Roker is the guest ring announcer, while Hall of Famer Jerry Lawler is joining the commentary team. Maryse teases starting the match, but we end up with the men after some stalling. Miz controls the bulk of the match until finally Cena makes a hot tag. Nikki is a house afire, and she teams with Cena to hit a dueling You Can’t See Me. Cena hits Miz with the Attitude Adjustment and Nikki connects with the Rack Attack for the simultaneous pin. This was not a technical classic, but it was fun enough and a good break after the thrilling ladder match.
Seth Rollins defeats Triple H (w/ Stephanie McMahon) in a Non-Sanctioned Match at 25:50. The story here is that Rollins was not medically cleared to compete, so he signed a hold harmless agreement to get this unsanctioned match. HHH wastes no time attacking the injured limb. Rollins gets a few bursts of offense here and there, but HHH pretty much keeps him grounded and works the knee. Weapons are brought into play, including a steel chair and a sledgehammer. There’s also an ominous-looking table set up at ringside. Rollins kicks out of the first Pedigree, much to Stephanie’s chagrin. When HHH takes it up top, Rollins counters and backdrops “The Game” down to the mat. Rollins follows him down with a Phoenix Splash but it only gets two! Stephanie tries to interfere, and she gets knocked off the apron through the aforementioned ringside table. The crowd finally wakes up for that. Rollins hits HHH with a Pedigree to get the pin. There was too much HHH working a body part here, but it wasn’t bad or anything. The final stretch built up quite nicely, and Rollins going over HHH clean is something I can get behind.
Randy Orton pinned WWE Champion Bray Wyatt at 10:30 to win the title. Wyatt has been the Champion since 2.12.17, and this is his second defense. They start out brawling, fighting both in and out of the ring. Early in the match the arena goes dark and bugs are projected on the ring. It’s somehow even dumber than it sounds. Wyatt controls the bulk of the match, which is flaming death. They trade finisher attempts multiple times with neither man able to hit one. When Wyatt does the spider walk thing, the arena goes dark and once again bugs are projected on the mat. Man, this is stupid. Orton hits an RKO out of nowhere to get the pin and win the WWE Championship for the ninth time – and his thirteenth overall World Title. Nothing about this worked and quite frankly I had forgotten all about it. That could be the worst WWE Championship match in WrestleMania history, and that’s saying something.
Brock Lesnar (w/ Paul Heyman) defeats Universal Champion Goldberg at 4:45 to win the title. Goldberg has been the Champion since 3.5.17, and this is first defense. Lesnar takes Goldberg to Suplex City right away, but Goldberg fights right up and wrecks Lesnar with a Spear. Out on the floor Goldberg hits another Spear that knocks Lesnar through the barricade! Back in the ring Goldberg hits another Spear and the Jackhammer but Lesnar kicks out! Goldberg goes for another Spear but Lesnar leapfrogs over him and Goldberg connects hard with the turnbuckle. Lesnar takes Goldberg to Suplex City and then hits an F-5 to capture the Universal Championship. That was wildly entertaining for the short time they had. Really this was exactly the match it should’ve been – short, hard hitting, lots of signatures and finishers.
Naomi defeats SmackDown Women’s Champion Alexa Bliss, Becky Lynch, Carmella (w/ James Ellsworth), Mickie James, and Natalya in a Six Pack Challenge Match to win the title at 5:35. Naomi is from Orlando, so this is a big deal for her. Bliss has been Champion since 2.21.17, and this is her first defense. It’s all chaotic in the early going, with the crowd catching their breath after the last match. Ellsworth interferes whenever he can to help Carmella win. He gets in the ring and gets caught with a Bexploder. Naomi clears the ring and traps Bliss in the Feel the Glow, giving Naomi her second SmackDown Women’s Championship. This was rushed and placed in the death slot, so to expect much from this wouldn’t be fair. That’s too bad for the wrestlers involved.
Roman Reigns defeats Undertaker in a No Holds Barred Match at 23:00. Jim Ross joins Cole and JBL to call the action. Undertaker dominates to start, and loudly proclaims that it’s His Yard. They brawl, slowly, both in and out of the ring. Undertaker rearranges the furniture and Chokeslams Reigns on the German Announce Table. He looks to do more damage on the tables, but Reigns cuts him off with a Spear from one announce table onto another, shattering it. Back in the ring, Undertaker comes back and hits the Last Ride but it only gets two. Undertaker brings in a steel chair. Reigns hits a couple of Superman Punches but Undertaker stops him with a Chokeslam on the chair. That only gets two. A Tombstone Piledriver also only gets two and the crowd is stunned. Undertaker goes for another one and Reigns tries to reverse it but they botch it badly somehow. Reigns hits a Superman Punch for two. He follows with a Spear and goes for a pin, but Undertaker counters with the Hell’s Gate. Reigns escapes and destroys Undertaker with a chair, and hits another Spear but Undertaker kicks out again. After another Superman Punch, Undertaker tries to sit up but he can’t. They somehow blow a Spear spot, and then they have to repeat it so Reigns can get the pin. This started off dull but truly fell off the rails once they blew the Tombstone reversal spot. And they just kept going. This should’ve been 15 minutes, tops. Undertaker is just done, man.
Looking up and down the card, it’s actually mostly solid to good matches with a handful of memorable moments throughout. The main event is just way too long and not very good, and on a five-hour show that’s just not the way you want to go out. Despite the fact that I enjoyed a good chunk of this show, I can’t see myself ever revisiting it again in full, at least until my daughter is old enough to do a WrestleMania marathon with me.
Tags: Brock Lesnar, Roman Reigns, undertaker, wrestlemania, WWE