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Figure Four Weekly: Seven thoughts from Wrestlemania 34

Seven thoughts from WrestleMania 34

 

by Joseph Currier (@josephcurrier)

With a card that was still strong on in-ring action, Sunday's WrestleMania 34 ended up being one of the weirdest events that WWE has ever produced.

The show seemed destined to become one of the best in WrestleMania history, starting off with two very good matches and peaking with Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle vs. Stephanie McMahon & Triple H blowing away all expectations. The Undertaker answered John Cena's challenge shortly after that, squashing him in under three minutes. And Daniel Bryan returned to the Superdome and made his in-ring return in what was a great moment.

But AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura falling flat and the crowd refusing to accept either Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns in the main event at least altered the perception coming out of what was otherwise a great weekend for WWE.

Here are seven thoughts from WrestleMania 34:

- Three years after calling an audible in Santa Clara, Reigns again failed to defeat Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania. And after all that time, this was a far bigger disaster than if Reigns had just won then. The crowd in New Orleans had no interest in the match, only mildly popping for the surprise finish where Reigns didn't win. Belly-to-belly suplexes on the floor received "CM Punk" chants. Reigns kicking out of the F-5, a spot that had been built up for a year, was met with total apathy. People yelled "This is awful" after Reigns kicked out of Lesnar's fifth F-5 and was being bloodied with elbow strikes. It never had a chance.

For whatever reason, Reigns will always be one of the most polarizing members of the roster. He's a really good/great wrestler who always tries hard and has good matches. He's at least competent in pretty much every other area. On the surface, there's nothing about him that should bring such passionate reactions. But, despite occasional points where it seemed like things were turning around a bit, this was all determined when WWE went with him when the fans wanted Bryan. He's been seen as the hand-picked top guy, and his long-term direction has done nothing to remove the stigma of that perception. Moments like Lesnar beating him on Sunday and in 2015 have attempted to change that, but they've just come off as counterproductive when sticking with the plan or actually changing course would have been better options.

Where WWE goes from here remains to be seen, but there's no logical path forward for either Lesnar or Reigns coming out of WrestleMania. Whether Lesnar will be staying with the company, going back to the UFC, or doing both at the same time isn't even known yet. Things had been set up for Reigns to end Lesnar's year-long run with the title, and there needs to be a good reason for why that didn't happen.

- Rousey's in-ring debut was easily the highlight of WrestleMania. Her signing with WWE has been a coup for the company -- she brings so much media attention and was such a star in the UFC. But how that would translate to pro wrestling was a massive question. Coming out of her first match, there's no reason to believe that she won't be the biggest star in WWE over the next few years.

Rousey & Angle vs. Stephanie & Triple H was booked to perfection. It accomplished all of its goals and was the best match of the night. Rousey was clearly put in position to succeed, but she looked like she belonged in the ring and was accepted by the fans. There will be more tests ahead -- working a singles bout is much harder than doing spots that have been practiced over and over again for a mixed tag -- but she can do plenty of moves well already, is a better athlete than expected, and already has her striking down.

Even Stephanie getting offense in and blocking Rousey's armbars didn't hurt the match. There had to be some resistance from Stephanie to lead to Rousey tapping her out with the armbar when she finally locked it in at the finish. Nothing could have gone better than it did.

Almost all of the biggest matchups that WWE could put together at this point in time involve Rousey. She could face anyone and have it be a huge deal -- and that elevates everyone else on the roster. It's impossible to overstate how important Rousey could be for the future of women's wrestling. Similar to what she did in her previous career, Rousey has the chance to elevate women's matches in WWE to regular main event status.

- One of Rousey's high-profile matches in WWE will inevitably be against Charlotte Flair. Charlotte ended Asuka's undefeated streak on Sunday, tapping her out with the Figure Eight in a legitimately shocking moment.

It wasn't the time to end Asuka's streak. A run as champion would have helped her become even more established. But if it was going to end, at least she lost in this fashion. The match was great, it was at WrestleMania, and it was to a credible opponent instead of being a cheap loss to someone like Carmella.

- Nakamura's heel turn was the only saving grace of his match against Styles. What had been built up as a dream match failed to come close to their meeting from Wrestle Kingdom 10. It was fine, with their in-ring work even being good. But it started with a slow and deliberate pace and ended before it could pick up. After Styles hit the Styles Clash for the victory, Nakamura faked like he was showing Styles respect, low blowed him, and laid him out with the Kinshasa.

Given how much people were anticipating the match, it ended up being the low point of Nakamura's time in WWE. He's always been a big-match wrestler, but he completely failed to deliver in what should have been one of the most important spots of his life. For as charismatic as he is, that's not enough for the audience to get fully behind him when his matches consistently disappoint. A change in character was necessary for Nakamura to have any chance of succeeding as a top guy.

- While it wasn't what anyone's ideal vision for Cena vs. Undertaker at WrestleMania would be, their sub-three minute match was probably the best idea for them. Undertaker shouldn't be wrestling at this point in his life. He probably should have never returned after losing to Lesnar at WrestleMania 30. But he's synonymous with the event and WWE keeps asking him to come back. When you're looking to have as many "WrestleMania moments" as possible, Undertaker returning is always an easy option. Him squashing Cena was an entertaining segment, with WWE's odd build and not announcing the match in advance probably being the best option to get there.

- It won't be the first thing people remember about the show, but Braun Strowman and a child winning the Raw Tag Team titles will forever be another one of the defining "WrestleMania moments" of this year's event. To prove that he didn't need a partner, Strowman found Nicholas (who is the son of referee John Cone) in the crowd and, aside from Nicholas tagging in and then immediately out, won the titles on his own. It was absurd, but it didn't really do anything to devalue the titles since Strowman is so dominant. It at least didn't devalue things any more than if Strowman had won by himself.

- Daniel Bryan's return to action gives plenty of reason to be optimistic about WWE over the next few months. It was genuinely moving to see him make his entrance and look as great as he did in the ring. Regardless of how good the match was, that was going to be the biggest takeaway. Only Rousey feels as fresh and exciting right now. They should be the top male and female stars for at least the immediate future.

 

Mexico Notes

 

by Steve "Dr. Lucha" Sims (@DrLuchaJr)

One of the great, fun, interesting, novel, and more concepts of the past few years in profession wrestling was CMLL's En Busca de un Idolo concept. It ran four times (there was also a very similar precursor a season earlier), and what went down were, in my book, some of the most memorable moments of this century in pro wrestling/

The biggest memories came from the third season, which featured the CMLL Welcome Mat being rolled out at the very same time for Dragon Lee, The Panther, El Hechicero, Star junior, El Soberano junior, and eventual winner El Barbaro Cavernario. They (joined that year by the long-gone and not-much-missed El Guerrero Negro and El Super Halcon junior), had as good a season-long rookie tournament as I can ever remember.

Adding on to the concept each year was the time limit, having coaches, the politics and cliques behind the scenes, the fan voting, and the post-match judging. From Tirantes' going crazy over Star junior to Mister Niebla's showing up several hundred sheets to the wind to guest judges like Rush casting a pox on all houses to the numerous shoot comments the judges gave, reviewing each performance immediately after its occurrence, it was all great fun and a thing of joy to watch as a fan.

The last one, with middle-carders instead of rising stars and a final match without total cooperation or good planning, soured the company on the concept, and they haven't gone back since in that direction as much as we fans would like.

What they have tried is La Copa de Nuevo Valores, and for 208, this year's Copa is upon us. Round. 8 "New Warriors" had a one-night tournament to crown a Block A champion on April 3rd. Eight more will crown a Block B champion April 10th. On the 17th.

Block A was a fun little tournament. The level of wrestling was decent, but nowhere near, and I mean nowhere near, the level of the Barbaro Cavernario tournament. (In fact, a revised Block B lineup, about which more below, ended up for whatever reason taking out by far the two best luchadores in the whole tournament, Templario and Audaz).

Super Astro junior, in his debut match, upset Mister CMLL (as in winner of the annual bodybuilding contest), Astral, in round one. In fact, as I watch the stream live, it appeared that Super Astro junior really was the only one who got over with the crowd – they loved him. This was an upset that allowed Astro to lose his next match. Green, but good potential form Astro.

Yago, decent but not much more, beat Retro (gimmick: he does only old-school moves and holds) in an awful match, generally because Retro is awful, reminding quite a bit of watching Axxel (Santo's grandson) back in the day.

Flyer, younger brother of Volador junior and likely winner of the whole Copa this year, far outclassed Grako in a match where Grako, who does nothing for me, got his offense in then lost.

The quarterfinal of Block A ended in what was the first of two consecutive miscarriages of justice. Sangre Imperial beat George Kebrada. Kebrada, the tourney's only unmasked wrestler, immediately connected with the crowd, was the better worker in this match, and has the greater potential. Oh well.

Next up, semifinal 1 – Yago but Super Astro junior in a result heavily booed by the respectable in attendance. Yago's the better worker now but the crowd totally lined up behind Astro in the way they rarely even care about rookies.

Flyer then beat Sangre Imperial in the same script as his earlier in (give up all the offense then win) and, moments later, survived a quick attaché from Yago to gain a pinfall with a Destroyer variant.

Block B has seven youngsters (tencios Principa Daniel, Reycko, Fugaz, Pricnipe Dimanate, and Magia Blanca) and two rudos (Coyote and Mquiavelo), plus one rudo retread (Principe Odin Jr.). Odin's being thrust into this tournament at the last minute (sub for Templario) probably means he's to advance to the final to make Flyer look good in that final. Hope not. Magia Blanca is much the best of these eight and will the rooting favorite. You can see it on CMLL YouTube at about 10:00 pm EDT Tuesday the 10th. Recommended.

 

Japan Notes

 

by Bryan Rose (@br26)

Kazuchika Okada is very close to becoming one of the most prolific champions in NJPW history.

Despite Zack Sabre Jr. completely dominating the New Japan Cup, Kazuchika Okada was the one that finally had Sabre's number following an excellent technical bout. Sabre was able to escape from Okada's offense at first, much like how his other matches in the last month have gone. But Okada was able to solve the riddle that so many others were unable to, with a rainmaker cementing his 11th title defense. That ties him with Hiroshi Tanahashi for the most IWGP title defenses in the belt's history.

Everyone knew that with that win, Tanahashi seemed like the next challenger. It somehow made all the sense in the world, but at the same time made no sense at all.

It makes sense because there is a urgency from Tanahashi to keep his record intact, and by defeating Okada he can not only keep his record, but he can also become the new IWGP champion. But when you think about it, the storyline leading to this makes no sense. Tanahashi was thrashed in February by Minoru Suzuki and never got a rematch for the title. He took no time to recover, and the following month entered the New Japan Cup where he lost in the finals to Sabre. So now he's just going to challenge Okada out of nowhere for a IWGP title shot? What?

Ultimately, I think things will work out in the end. I don't know if I would have booked it this way, but I will give Gedo the benefit of the doubt -- unlike other promotions, who have no long term planning and change things on a daily basis, Gedo's storytelling can stretch out over a long period of time. The last time Okada and Tanahashi wrestled, it was the culmination of a several year feud where Okada kept losing to Tanahashi at the Tokyo Dome until he finally pulled it off and beat him. Maybe there's a story here with Tanahashi we don't completely know yet.

May 4th will be the day the two meet, on the second day of Wrestling Dontaku at Fukuoka. The two have had some of the best matches of this decade, with their 2013 match at Invasion Attack being one of my favorite matches of all time. It's one of the best rivalries since Ricky Steamboat and Ric Flair back in the 1980s...hell, it's probably better at this point. With Okada's incredible skill at adapting to every style there is in professional wrestling only getting better and Tanahashi's innate ability at being able to structure a match perfectly, this has a chance of being even better than any of their previous outings.

 

Europe Notes

 

by Oliver Court (@AnotherOli)

The German Wrestling Federation are a promotion we have never talked about on these notes, but they ran a major angle on their YouTube-livestreamed Light Heavyweight World Cup show this weekend that ensured they had to be mentioned here. Bad Bones John Klinger, fresh from his real-world indefinite suspension in wXw, showed up in street clothes at the show to attack Lucky Kid, former fellow RISE member, in his match. Bones took off his hood (though it was pretty clear it was him beforehand), went to strike the signature RISE pose, then shook his head, took off his hoodie and revealed a 'We Are GWF' t-shirt underneath. It was brilliant pro-wrestling silliness that immediately captured the attention, harkening back to the Monday Night Wars and stars hopping shows in buzz-worthy angles. It's a statement of intent by GWF, who didn't show up to Wrestling Deutschland, the co-promoted show organised by wXw at 16 Carat weekend. They're out to attract some of wXw's new growing fanbase and scoring Bones so soon after the shock news of his departure will turn heads.

PROGRESS, RevPro and Fight Club Pro were all present in New Orleans for WrestleMania weekend, with the latter taking part in the Pancakes and Piledrivers show, while RevPro ran one show as part of the WrestleCon lineup and PROGRESS ran two shows at the WWN camp. The PROGRESS and RevPro shows were not aired live so I don't have too much to say about them right now, but major news came out from the RevPro show, so I'll make sure to watch those shows when they release.

wXw had one of the best matches ever seen in Europe with Ilja Dragunov vs WALTER at last year's 16 Carat Final, and they're running it back this weekend at True Colors, the first major show since 16 Carat 2018. This match will almost inevitably rock, and will be a major stepping stone in Dragunov's Unified Title reign, so there's basically no reason not to check it out.

 

Vinny's TV Reviews

 

by Bryan's Friend Vince (@FO_VVerhei)

WWF Retro Raw 306 (4/5/99)

Show opened with clips of Vince McMahon on the couch with Stephanie talking about how Undertaker's TV character had taken over his persona in real life. He said the secret envelopes from months ago had contained private pictures of Steph, and the teddy bear Taker had burned had been one of her childhood toys. She said she only felt safe with her dad, and he said somebody would get hurt, and it wouldn't be her.

X-Pac & Kane vs. Jeff Jarrett & Owen Hart. Pac and Kane were apparently unified by a mutual hatred of Triple H. But then Pac had saved Kane on Heat, and Kane had apparently paid him back with a chokeslam. They said Shane McMahon had retired the European title on Heat the night before. I don't remember the last time a match this good opened Raw. First five minutes or so was all Owen and Jeff working Pac over until Kane finally got a hot tag and hit the ring for the first time. Even then, Kane didn't reach for a tag, he just waited till Pac got to him. Kane chokeslammed Jarrett as X-Pac hit the bronco buster on Owen. Then Kane grabbed Pac and it looked like doom, but he pressed Pac over his head and dropped him onto Jarrett for the pin. Yes, X-Pac & Kane are your new tag team champions. Huge pop for the finish. I had forgotten that happened.

The McMahons had a meeting. Vince said the only thing he cared about was Stephanie and her safety, he didn't give a damn about the rest of the show, and Shane could go do what he wanted. So Shane met with the Corporation and told them this would be a night Stone Cold and Paul Wight never forgot.

LUCAS interviewed X-Pac. X-Pac said he had no idea where Kane was now, but he had been there when it counted, and as long as he showed up at belltime nobody could beat them.

Shane and the Corporation came out. He showed video of the Corporation beating up Austin last week. Then Big Show made the save, so Shane was booking Show vs. Rock & Hunter in a handicap match tonight. Hunter and Rock cut promos on Show. It was interesting how nobody but Rock and the McMahons ever got to talk in the Corporation, but Hunter got plenty of mic time and was pushed as almost being at Rock's level. They both talked about how fat Show was. Rock had Austin's smoking skull belt and they wrapped it around his waist.

Corporation celebrated their promo backstage. Shane tried to cheer up Vince and Steph with the match he had booked. Vince said maybe they shouldn't provoke Austin and Show. Shane was clearly so hurt that Daddy wasn't proud of him.

Ivory came out for a promo. She said Jacqueline was tough, but Terri Runnels was a little priss with a bad attitude. She wanted to meet face-to-face, fist-to-fist, and told her to "fire up a fat one." She meant a cigar. PMS came out. Terri was showing less skin than ever before or since, and she sent Jacqueline to the back, then went to the ring to accept Ivory's challenge. Ivory promptly tore Terri's shirt off and left her topless. The lights went out and everyone booed, then Taker's music started and they cheered. So the Ministry came out for a promo. The women just disappeared. Taker told Vince to give Stephanie his regards. He said tonight there would be a sacrifice, and a beatiful young woman would be taken from her family and break her father's heart when she accepted the Lord of Darkness as her savior. Jerry Lawler said Taker was going too far. They cut backstage, where Vince was demanding more security and assuring Steph everything would be fine. He said he might have to give Taker what he wanted and Shane was disgusted and walked out.

Al Snow vs. Hardcore Holly in a not-hardcore match. Al did a slingshot flip plancha and Holly barely caught him and Al went splat on the floor and Cole called it a great maneuver. Both guys tried to use chairs and the ref stopped them. Nobody had any interest in seeing these guys have a straight wrestling match. Al won clean with a snow plow, and then Steve Williams hit the ring and suplexed both guys repeatedly. Really, really weird to see backdrop drivers on Monday Night Raw.

Shane was in the booth ordering them to put the smoking skulls belt on the Tron.

The Ministry was holding Christian as Taker whipped him. "What did he do to deserve this?" Cole asked. Lawler immediately pointed out that Christian had stooged off where Stephanie was last week.

New Age Outlaws vs. Gangrel & Edge. Yes, the Outlaws lost their singles belts and they're a team again. What a waste of time that whole thing was. Cole was talking about what a traumatic experience Gangrel and Edge had been through. Meanwhile they were smiling these big cheesy grins. Brood got the heat on Road Dogg. They hit a double superplex and somehow nobody died, but then missed a rocket launcher to set up Billy's hot tag. Immediately broke down into a four-way and Christian limped out. Dogg threw him into the ring and Billy pinned him with a fame asser. Gangrel was outraged. Silly finish, but a fun match up to that point.

Jim Ross interviewed Steve Austin, who talked about how he had the rattlesnake belt made to piss Vince off, and if Shane put the belt back on the Tron it was going to cost the McMahons a lot of money.

They showed Ken Shamrock saving Stephanie McMahon last week. I didn't notice the look Shane gave Shamrock last week when Vince thanked him. The stuff they're doing with Shane so desperate to earn his father's approval was really good in hindsight. And also, in hindsight, a waste of time. SPOILERS~!.

Ken Shamrock vs. Viscera. Viscera was relatively slim here, about 450, probably, and Shamrock was able to wrap his arms around him and hit a belly-to-belly. At that point a light show went off and the Ministry attacked Shamrock. This went on for a while and they dragged him away.

The Corporation was upset Shane wouldn't let them save Shamrock, but he said it could be a trap and they all agreed and decided to let Shamrock die. Bossman was there and Shane pointed out Taker had hurt his neck. Yeah, by HANGING. Anyway, they threw Shamrock into the trunk of a car and drove him away.

Val Venis vs. Mankind. They said on Heat Ryan Shamrock had tried and failed to get back with Val, so "poor Ryan's all alone." They were in Long Island and Foley bragged about being on Newsday and plugged his Chef Boy-R-Dee commercials. Announcers were upset with ESPN's piece that they claimed was a hit job on the WWF, and said it was all set up because ABC was upset about Raw getting better ratings than Monday Night Football. Yeah, I'm betting that's not it. Fun match and the crowd was totally into Foley. He hit the DDT and pulled out Mr. Socko, who got maybe the biggest ovation of the night so far. And Mankind hit the mandible claw for the win. Mankind's first clean win in who knows how long. How bizarre to see a hometown hero win on Raw.

The lights in Vince's office started to flicker.

The Ministry had a meeting.

Godfather vs. Goldust. Godfather's entrance may have set a world record for silicone. One of them was flexing her pecs and making them dance. Apparently Goldust had dumped Ryan Shamrock too. Did that happen last week? I kind of remember that. Godfather was not sure if should offer the hos to Goldust. Goldust crawled over to them on his hands and knees and Godfather was disturbed. "You know what, I'm just gonna kick yo ass." One of the women was nearly as tall as Goldust. She was wearing massive heels, but still. Match was about as good as you're gonna get out of Goldust and Godfather. Meanie interfered, so Godfather laid him out, then the Hos chased him around and the bell rang. WHAT? It was a double countout. Goldust is Intercontinental champion and couldn't beat GODFATHER? Whatever.

The lights went out in the McMahon office and Steph started screaming. "STEPHANIE! STEPHANIE!".

The Ministry came out with somebody under a sheet and started to strap her to the symbol and raised the symbol above the stage. "This is the worst thing ever on Raw," Lawler noted. Taker said he had promised that a young girl would be sacrificed tonight. They cut backstage, where Vince and Steph were on the couch. Taker said this was not the young girl he wanted, but she would have to do for now, and this was all Vince's fault. He tore the hood off this woman but we couldnt see who she was. Finally they showed it was Ryan Shamrock. SHOCKING! Taker said it was time for her to come home. He started talking about the Higher Power for the first time. They symbol raised and Taker started speaking in tongues. Vince looked into the camera and screamed at Taker to stay away from Stephanie, YOU EVIL BASTARD!.

So they went to break and came back and everyone was gone, and Cole said Vince and Stephanie had left the builing under guard and they were both safe. Well that's just dandy, but WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO RYAN?.

Triple H & the Rock vs. Paul Wight. Shane was out there doing ring intros, happy and carefree. Why is Hunter using the DX theme and wearing a DX shirt and doing the DX pyro? Rock's new gimmick is getting annoyed when the fans sing along with his catchphrases. Show had the debut of his theme song here, the song that stuck with him for the better part of the next two decades. Hunter attempted to do a boxer's shuffle. He failed. Show beat both dudes up for about five minutes and then Chyna low-blowed him for the DQ. They quadruple-teamed Show and laid him out with the skulls belt. Crowd was demanding Austin. Rock hit the Corporate Elbow and Austin came storming out. He destroyed Rock and Hunter. My god this ovation. Just insane. Show came back and chokeslammed Hunter. The Corporation escaped with the belt, however. Shane had it put on the Tron again and vowed to leave it up for the rest of the night. Austin started chasing them up the ramp and they fled. So Austin called Show up to the Stage and told him to pull the Tron down. So Show reached up and pulled it down. Um, that says nothing about how strong he is and only about how much he weighs. And then Austin grabbed a knife and started cutting the screen apart. I assume they get a new set next week. A fun show, all in all.

The finishes on this show were: clean pin and a title change; pin of a guy who wasn't even in the match; no-finish due to Ministry run-in; clean submission; double count-out; DQ due to nutshot.

WCW Monday Nitro 186 (4/5/99)

They showed Sting hype footage from when he first debuted the Crow gimmick THREE YEARS AGO. Then it was time for a new opening video and the debut of the Star Trek logo. Which, in hindsight, was terrible. Good luck finding "WCW" in that mess.

Goldberg was storming through backstage, carrying a lottery hopper.

They showed the new set, then Tony Schiavonie's doofy new haircut and Bobby Heenan sitting at ringside, not up by the stage.

Mean Gene brought Goldberg out for a promo. Goldberg said he had been left off last month's PPV, and Flair would like to keep him off next month's show too, so he was taking matters into his own hands. He said they were doing the Goldberg lottery, and he was going to draw a name out of the hopper to be his victim at the next PPV. Before he could do that Kevin Nash interrupted. He said ten years from now nobody would be talking about Goldberg, they'd be talking about Nash for stopping his streak. Well, 20 years later and we're still talking about both, honestly. He challenged Goldberg for Spring Stampede. Goldberg said that was like Merry Christmas and left.

Arn Anderson and Ric Flair were watching this backstage and were upset by this. Flair sent Arn to go get somebody so he could talk to him.

Riki Rachtman came out on stage and plugged the WCW hotline. He forgot the Canadian number, then rattled it off fast and said to give him a break, he was the new guy. You've been here for months.

Kendell Windham vs. Hak in a kendo stick match. Announcers outright said they would have kendo sticks "and beyond that I have no idea what the rules are." They recycled somebody's music and gave it to Hak. Faces of Fear? Jerry Flynn? So Kendell began to beat the hell out of Hak with a stick and one guy shouted "BORING!" Chastity hit the ring, hit Kendell with a stick, and left. And so Hak hit Kendell with a stick. I mean, that's the match. And then they stopped using sticks and just started wrestling. Well that's bass-ackwards. Speaking of, Hak hit a clothesline with his right hand and Tony called it a left-handed lariat. They traded rollups and bonked into each other. Is this going anywhere? Is there a finish in sight? Sandman hit a DDT, a stick shot, and the white Russian legsweep for the win. This, this right here, was no good.

Meng hype video. It was mostly him attacking his own partners with strange audio and video effects.

Goldberg went into Flair's office. Lex Luger and Elizabeth were in there. Flair and Arn denied having sent for him.

Arn found Nash in the kitchen and said Flair needed to talk to him. Nash said he'd be there. Don't these guys all hate each other? The were bebopping like any other office dweebs here.

Konnan-Disco Inferno hype video. This is the go-home show for Spring Stampede.

Konnan vs. Lizmark Jr. They were in Vegas, and announcers were jabbering about casinos and Tony went on a rant about how he was the only announcer who put any effort into things. The match was complete ass. Just terrible from start to finish. Konnan won with the tequila sunrise. Let us never speak of this again.

Arn told Flair that Nash was coming. Nash arrived and shook hands with Flair. That was the entire segment.

Scott Steiner hype video.

Nash and Flair were all buddy-buddy and chatting about hockey and partying in Vegas. WHAT IS GOING ON? Hogan saw this and was flustered, but Nash assured him it was all business. Hogan seemed skeptical.

Nash was talking to Charles Robinson when Hogan approached and Robinson scattered. Hogan and Nash determined they were on the same team, I guess.

Gene brought Flair out for a promo. Flair came out, like everyone else on this show, had trouble walking down the ramp with the new logo on it, and cut a promo into the camera about how he was going to get that fixed. He congratulated Nash on challenging Goldberg for Spring Stampede. He then announced he was taking the world title match away from Spring Stampede and he'd be wrestling Hogan here tonight. Wait, what? That was the main event of Spring Stampede? I legit had no idea. Hogan came running down to the ring and accepted Flair's challenge. Flair warned him not screw anything up or he'd take the match away. Hogan said don't worry, I'll let you go put your pink boots on and beat you later. They ran each other down for a while and were about to wrap things up when DDP interrupted. He congratulated Flair on his chairshot from last week. That was weird. He challenged Flair to make the match a three-way. Flair said no, he didn't want to have to beat both their asses. Hogan said they could team up and he'd beat them both. Then Goldberg came out. He wanted in the match too. Flair said no, so Goldberg grabbed him by the collar and threw him down. Flair said they were all in trouble now, and he'd see all of them later. So the four-way is on. This was a classic Monday Night Raw opening promo to set up a main event, only they did it an hour into the show. Wait, there's more. Hogan met Goldberg in the aisle and they apparently made a deal to get rid of Flair and DDP and then settle things with each other.

Scott Steiner came out and the announcers were completely confused about why there was no commercial here. "It's a double-match segment!" Then Steiner cut a promo running down DDP. Something about how Page should have challenged him in the US title tournament, and how his claim to get Kimberly for 30 days would have stood up in court, but he didn't have 30 days to give to her. He also called himself a "physical phenonemon." He said he would give Page a rematch in exchange for just one night with Kimberly.

Scott Steiner vs. Meng in a US title tournament semifinal. Meng got his hair braided. These two big scary mofos went right at each other. The action spilled outside and they brawled on the floor a bit. Meng made a babyface comeback, which didn't happen all that often. MENG DROPKICK~! He hooked the Tongan death grip but Steiner raked his eyes, hit a low blow, and suplexed him onto his head. I think Meng was out, because Scott just pulled his legs off the ropes, put his own legs on the ropes, and got the pin. Well this was fun.

The spotlights found a man up in the rafters. It was not Sting. It was just a guy. Seriously.

Flair was backstage on the phone, inviting somebody to bring four or five friends to party with him. He told the cameraman to leave.

They plugged the Internet talk show with Bob Ryder and "Jeremy Boorish.".

They recapped Jim Duggan's cancer announcement from last summer, then his return on Thunder.

Jim Duggan vs. Lenny Lane. Lenny immediately started working the removed kidney. Duggan no-sold that and hit some punches. They brawled outside and Tony noted it took nine segments for somebody to hit their table. Duggan went to the chinlock. OK, you've made your return, hit your clothesline and go home. Instead he started making covers and picking Lane up at two. Well, he won with the kneedrop instead. OK, I'm happy you're healthy, now please never wrestle again. I say this knowing he stuck around for years.

Rachtman talked about being the new guy again and plugged the hotline again.

Video of Hogan and Nash meeting with the Black & White. Hogan asked Nash to leave. They asked Hogan why he had told each of them they were in charge. He admitted he had dropped the ball, he figured one of them would have stepped up and claimed leadership, but instead each of them proved they were qualified. So to settle this they would do a battle royal with the winner being named the leader of the Black & White. Well that sounds horrendous.

nWo Black & White Leadership Battle Royal: Vincent vs. Horace vs. Brian Adams vs. Stevie Ray. HOLY SHIT! COULD YOU BOOK A SHITTIER MATCH FOR NITRO? It sure was terrible. Imagine these four lugs trying to do Royal Rumble-style elimination teases. There was choking. Eye rakes. Unforgiveably bad clubbering forearms. HOW WERE NONE OF THESE MEN FIRED? This had been a hot crowd all night. It weren't hot no more. Did I mention the part where dudes just stood there and nothing happened There were a lot of those too. THIS SUCKS! THIS MATCH IS FUCKING MISERABLE! I am simultaneously laughing and crying about how terrible this is. Adams booted Vincent out of the ring and then there was a lot more standing there. Adams and Horace teamed up to take out Stevie. Stevie made the worst comeback of all time. WHAT IS THAT JUMPING KICK? WHY ARE YOU HITTING THE ROPES LIKE THAT? Adams and Horace started bickering for no reason and brawled. Adams pressed Horace, which was impressive, but Horace slipped out and Stevie knocked Adams out. Then Stevie backdropped Horace out to win. Fans at least popped for the finish, but this was seriously one of the very worst pro wrestling matches I ever saw. Kennel from Hell won worst match of the year in 1999, but this had to have finished high in the voting. I need a break.

Recap of Kidman and Rey Mysterio Jr. winning the tag titles last week.

Raven & Saturn vs. Rey Mysterio Jr. & Kidman. So Raven interferes to hand Kidman and Rey the titles last week, and then challenges for the belt this week. Thirty seconds in Raven and Saturn hit a doomsday device bodypress and the announcers were screaming to make a cover and they didn't. Then Kidman got a hot tag two minutes later. His comeback included a pedigree. Four-way broke out and they got a nearfall with a double top rope splash and the finish seemed imminent and it was TIME FOR A COMMERCIAL BREAK! They came back and Saturn belly-to-bellied Kidman out of the ring and Kidman went splat on the floor. How is that guy still walking? Rey made a comeback but when he tried a broncobuster Raven punted him in the balls. Ref got bumped. Saturn hit Rey with a DVD, but Malenko and Benoit ran out and attacked them. They hit the diving headbutt on Saturn and put Rey on top and the ref counted three. Well this was a spectacle. Was Benoit wearing one of Nash's shirts? It was like a cape.

Booker T vs. Chris Jericho. Tony asked Heenan if he liked the new logo and made a live long and prosper joke. Yes, the lead announcer was pointing out it looked like Star Trek. They had a fun match for three minutes. Steiner ran out with a chair, Booker kicked it into his face, Booker backdropped Jericho out of the ring, and Booker was named the winner via DQ. So it's Booker vs. Steiner in the US tournament finals at Spring Stampede.

Buff Bagwell vs. Bam Bam Bigelow. Bagwell had been a heel for years and he was still working out the kinks of being a babyface while being Buff and not Marcus. Bagwell missed a top rope flip senton, of all things. Ref got bumped. Yes, again. Hak ran out attacked both dudes. Chastity sprayed a fire extinguisher in Bigelow's face. Buff went up top, couldn't breathe, and climbed back down. He recovered and hit the blockbuster for the win. Well this turned into a mess.

Goldberg-Nash hype video.

Ric Flair vs. Hollywood Hogan vs. Dallas Page vs. Goldberg. Crowd was demanding Sting as Michael Buffer did his intros. Nash was doing commentary. Sadly, Flair was not wearing pink boots. Hogan Hulked up and hit the leg drop on Flair a minute in but Page broke up the pin. They mostly paired off with two guys brawling on the floor and two guys doing spots in the ring. Page hit a diamond cutter on Flair but Goldberg yanked him out of the ring. Hogan got a nearfall on Goldberg with the AXE BOMBER~! Then they traded small packages like they were Malenko and Guerrero. Then Goldberg tried to submit Hulk Hogan with a side choke. I'm questioning Bill's game plan tonight. Everyone brawled everywhere and the crowd demanded Sting. Heenan was not down with these guys brawling next to him. Goldberg jackhammered Page but Hogan broke up the pin. Then Goldberg speared everyone. He covered Hogan, but Hulk kicked out. Goldberg followed with a jackhammer. Nash was supposed to break up the pin but he was late and Hogan had to kick out. Nice one fellas. This also made no sense because Nash had been cheering for Goldberg, because then Goldberg-Nash would have been a title match at the PPV. Anyway, that was a DQ. Sting descended from the ceiling with his bat. Flair, Hogan, and Nash ran for their lives. He POINTED TO THE SIGN, where a video aired announcing a Flair-Page-Hogan-Sting fourway for the belt at Spring Stampede in six days. Randy Savage did the narration and said he would be the referee. So, uh, who booked that match? Sting? Savage? Isn't Flair in charge? What's going on?.

The finishes on this show were: pin in a kendo stick match; clean submission; pin with both guys' legs on the ropes; clean pin; clean battle royal win; pin after interference; DQ due to interference; pin after interference with a fire extinguisher; DQ due to interference in a four-way.

WWE NXT (4/4/18)

Charly Caruso openened the show from the NXT Control Center with EIGHTEEN MONITORS tracking all the action. They showed Michael Hayes, Terry Taylor, and Dustin Rhodes arriving for the finals of the Dusty Rhodes classic. Dustin looks to be in great shape these days. Charly said Bobby Fish had been injured and would not be cleared for TakeOver, and they weren't sure what would happen there, but regardless, the Dusty Classic would be decided tonight.

Authors of Pain vs. Pete Dunne & Roderick Strong in the Dusty Rhodes Classic finals. They did that whole video entrance for the show, five minutes, and then five minuntes of ring entrances and intros. Then the match began and they went to commercial in one minute. SO FUCKING LAME. Especially since this is the Network and YOU DON'T NEED COMMERCIAL BREAKS. On that note, of all the Mania matches to plug here, they chose Nia-Alexa. Match was a properly ugly brawl early, as the Authors just overwhelmed their smaller opponents and wouldn't let them do hardly a damn thing. Finally Roddy got a hot tag and hit a flurry of offense. It was great, of course. He hit Rezar with an Olympic slam for a nearfall. The two teams went back and forth a bit and both hit double-teams with pins that had to be broken up. And then they did a double-down, and Adam Cole and Kyle O'Reilly attacked both teams for the double DQ. Yes, in the Dusty Classic finals. Really good match up to that point. William Regal came out. He told Undisputed Era they were smart, but not smart enough. And he booked a triple threat, with the winners getting the Dusty Cup and the NXT tag titles. Well I bet Hayes and Taylor and Dustin are pissed.

So this show still has 37 minutes to go and the one advertised match has already happened. Hmm.

North American title match hype video. I bet we get a lot of these. This was good with each guy getting 15 or 20 seconds to get himself over. Lars Sullivan was just smashing concrete blocks. As he should.

Gargano-Ciampa video package. This was tremendous, with both guys doing separate sitdown segments talking about all they had done for each other, and all they had done to each other.

Kairi Sane vs. Vanessa Borne. For the record, Vanessa's last name had a U in her TitanTron video, but not in her on-screen graphic. Vanessa was not afraid to lay in the offense and Kairi took quite a beating here. She made her comeback and Vanessa was out of position for an elbow and it looked really bad. Then Kairi hit Alberto Del Rio's elevated footstomp in the corner and it looked even worse than normal because Vanessa wasn't in the tree of woe, she was just grabbing the ropes with both feet sticking up in the air. Kairi hit the insane elbow for the win. Not very good and it looked edited to boot.

Lacey Evans made a statement to the press. She demanded Mr. Regal stop societal trash from walking around NXT. She called herself a mother, a US marine, and a force to be reckoned with in NXT, but all the opportunities were going to Nikki Cross, who couldn't even do a promo. And Ember Moon had never done anything to show the strength of a woman besides jumping off the top rope. She had nothing to say about Dakota Kai, and finally promised to take Kairi Sane's opportunities away. She wasn't trying to do a forced accent here and it was better than what she's done in the past. Still needs work.

Cole and O'Reilly confronted Regal backstage and said he was already in a ladder match, now he'd have to compete twice? Regal said Cole could compete in both matches, or O'Reilly could defend the tag belts on his own, or Cole could step out of the ladder match to focus on the tag belts. Undisputed Era did NOT like these options.

Almas-Black video package. Then Zalina Vega was making a statement to the press when Almas interrupted to cut an angry promo in Spanish. This was awesome. Apparently this had aired previously but I forgot it. Then Almas laid Black out last week.

Ember Moon-Shayna Baszler video package. Ember said Shayna walked around like she already owned the place when she hadn't earned anything.

Lars Sullivan vs. Killian Dane. Oh yeah. Can't believe I forgot about this. They did the Frye-Takayama spot, but slower, and it honestly looked like something out of a Godzilla movie. And then, again, they went to commercial just a minute in. SO SO SO LAME. They came back and Lars had Dane down in a neck crank. Mauro at one point said Dane was "attacking the body like it was filled with candy." Um, what? Dane got Lars up for wasteland, then hit a senton, but Lars got the knees up on a Vader bomb. I'd be lying if I said anyone in the crowd cared about this. They brawled on the ropes and then both tumbled to the floor. Out came Velveteen Dream. Crowd loved him more than either monster. He went up top, but Cole ran out to confront him. EC3 arrived in street clothes to the biggest ovation of any of them. Eventually Dane and Sullivan joined them for a five-way staredown when Ricochet came out to music. He immediately did a flip. Seriously. He eyed his five opponents one at a time and the show ended. A good go-home show in that it hyped up all the matches at TakeOver, but the actual matches here were so pointless I don't know why they bothered doing them.

NXT TakeOver: New Orleans (4/7/18)

We ran out of space. Tune in next week!

WWE WrestleMania (4/8/18)

Seth Rollins vs. Finn Balor vs. Miz for the Intercontinental title. Waiting all these years for a Finn Balor demon entrance at Mania, and instead he just comes out with a bunch of local New Orleans folks wearing his new t-shirt. They showed John Cena sitting in the crowd like a geek. They had a fun, totally choreographed, all-action match. Miz had Finn in a figure-four in and Seth hit a frog splash for a nearfall. They teased Seth doing the powerbomb into the barricade on Finn and ruining his shoulder again, but Finn escaped and dropkicked both dudes into the barricade. They traded big moves and nearfalls in the ring, then a triple-down and the place gave them a big ovation. All three dudes were on the top ropes and Miz hit Seth with an avalanche skull crushing finale, but when he made a cover Finn hit him with a footstomp. He made his comeback and hit the coup de grace, but then Seth hit him with a curbstomp. Seth followed with another on Miz and pinned him to win the belt. Very good opener. (***1/2).

Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka. We were getting some tech snafus where the feed would jump backward then forward, which nearly ruined Charlotte's entrance. Fortunately we still saw it. She came out with three gladiator dudes, which is an awesome callback to the last WrestleMania in New Orleans, when she herself was one of Triple H's gladiator women. The skipping back and forth was really ruining things here early. Asuka knocked Charlotte off the apron with a hip attack. She hooked a sleeper and got Charlotte's back, but Charlotte dropped to her ass to break it up. She tried a moonsault, but Asuka caught her in a triangle choke, but Charlotte turned that to a Boston crab. Asuka went for the hip attack to the apron again, but Charlotte dodged and hti a kick to the head instead. Asuka hit a suplex off the apron to the pretty black mats. OW. For both of you. They fought up top and then, well, I don't know what happened, they were suddenly on the mat. Charlotte hit natural selection, but Asuka caught her in a variety of wacky submmission holds. Charlotte hit a spear for a nearfall. There was some skiping and Charlotte hooked a one-armed figure-eight to a huge ovation. There was skipping, and suddenly Charlotte's music was playing and she had won. Wait, what? Asuka didn't just lose, she SUBMITTED? They showed a replay and that's exactly what happened, Charlotte won via clean submission with her finish. Huh. Asuka's streak is done. I didn't see enough of this to give it a fair rating, but it seemed like a good match that definitely peaked at the finish. Asuka cut a promo saying Charlotte was ready for Asuka, and congratulations, and they embraced.

As Charlotte was making her exit, a ref ran down to tell something to Cena, who got very excited and ran to the back.

Bobby Roode vs. Randy Orton vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev. Roode was doing his glorious entrance when a newly shaven Aiden English interrupted with a rap to introduce Rusev. I haven't seen Mahal in a few months. He has gotten WAY smaller. Jinder tried to form an alliance with Rusev but Rusev was having none of it, throwing him around like Jeff Cobb. Orton cut Rusev off and teased an RKO and the fans booed. He was fine with this. English hit the ring to eat an RKO instead. More skipping. Rusev was about to hook the camel clutch and everyone in New Orleans was happy, but the healthy Singh brother distracted him, and Jinder hit Rusev with the cobra clutch slam to win the match and the title. Much less skipping in this match than the last, but still some. This felt like a good Smackdown match, but nothing special. (**3/4).

Fashion Police threatened to arrest Mick Foley for his hair and sweatpants. It was a Snickers commercial Breeze was hungry and dressed like Mick too.

Triple H & Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey. Yes, they're doing this now. All Kurt and Hunter early, of course. Hunter almost accidentally punched Steph and they had a moment. Hunter took his corner bump out of the ring to take him out of the match. Ronda tagged in to a huge ovation and pulled Steph into the ring, then promptly started doing spots off the ropes. Yes. She started doing punches and suplexes and honestly the rasslin' looked better. Then Ronda tried the armbar but Steph evaded it. I swear to god. There was skipping, and suddenly Steph was winning on her. Ronda hit an Angle slam of DEATH, but Hunter yanked the ref out of the ring, then yanked Ronda out of the ring. He got the better of a brawl with Angle, but stoped to check on Steph. When he turned around, Ronda was in the ring calling him out. My god the ovation. Hunter was game (get it?) but Ronda outboxed him and got him up for a fireman's carry. Steph made the save, then out of the ring threw her into the post. Kurt returned and suplexed Hunter everywhere, hitting the Angle slam for a nearfall. Steph tried to save but she got ankle locked too. Hunter hit a pedigree on Angle but Ronda broke up the pin. Hunter went to pedigree Ronda, but Ronda rana'd her way free and hooked the armbar. Place was just going ballistic. There was skipping, then the babyfaces had twin submissions on, and all four people suddenly bonked into each other and went down. Heels tried twin pedigrees, but babyfaces backdropped their way free. Ronda had a very dramatic struggle with Steph, and finally hooked the armbar for the win. I can not for the life of me believe how good this was. Depending on how you look at it, this was either the best celebrity match ever, or the best debut match a wrestler ever had. (****1/4).

New Day vs. Usos vs. Bludgeon Brothers. Short match that was utterly, completely, brutally killed by skipping issues. Bludgeon Brothers won with an avalanche powerbomb. Looked like they took the entire match.

John Cena vs. Undertaker. Cena came out, doing his full entrance, when a second ref came down to talk to him. He was very disappointed. Crowd demanded Undertaker. Cena started to leave when the lights went out. Everyone cheered until Elias came out. He told the fans to shut their mouths and they did, briefly. Cena got bored and went back to his seat. Then he returned and beat Elias' ass. His music played and he started to leave, but then his music stopped, and he stopped, and the lights went out. Taker's hat and coat were in a spotlight in the ring, then they got hit by lightning and disappeared. Cena gulped and there was a DONG~! Taker spent eight or nine minutes coming out, full black coat and hat, long wig and all. Wait, that's not a wig. OK then.

Undertaker vs. John Cena. Cena was spooked by this whole entrance and Taker immediately started to take him apart. LOOK AT THE SIZE OF TAKER'S HEAD. His forehead alone outweighs Cena. Cena tried the five knuckle shuffle but Taker sat up and he freaked out. Taker hit a chokeslam and tombstone and won. WUT. Taker's legs are really skinny, for the record. Cena seriously hit one suplex the whole match. Huh. Well that was weird and pointless. This show has taken a serious downturn. (*).

Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn. Shane came out, then Daniel to the expected massive ovation. Then Kevin and Sami attacked from behind through the crowd, powerbombing Bryan into the apron. Doctors ran out to check on him, and Shane started the match on his own. Shane's punches are bad enough. Now he's doing Kenny Omega kneestrikes. NOW the skipping stops. He did a jumping kick and fell down. Well this blows. They cut him off and did some basic stuff. Sami's parody of Shane's shuffle is better than Shane's shuffle. Shane was selling his hernia. Or he was totally exhausted. Or both. He somehow recovered and hit the coast to coast dropkick. No heat for any of this. Owens hit the frog splash but Bryan broke up the pin to wake people up. He returned to the corner and Shane started to fight for a tag. And finally he got it, and made a slow entrance into the ring, then entered and beat everyone's ass with the usual. He hit a top rope rana and prepped for the knee-plus, but Owens grabbed his foot and Sami hit the Helluva kick. Owens hit the pop-up powerbomb but Bryan kicked out. Shane low-bridged Owens and took him out on the floor. We got Daniel Bryan playing 5-foot-9 Hulk Hogan, no-selling punches and slapping Sami down, then unloading the kicks. He retreated to the corner, fired out with the knee-plus, then hooked the yes lock for the submission win. A good match that would have been much better without Shane. (**3/4).

Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax. Nia began by giving Mickie James a solid beating, then she gave another to Alexa. Alexa scored a thumb to the eye and took over. None of this was especially good, especially not three and a half hours into a show. Alexa tried a diving rana but Nia caught her, then basically Alabama slammed her into the corner. OK, take it home. They did some stuff and Nia hit another Alabama slam. There were boos. Nia hit an avalanche Samoan drop and won. Fans liked the finish. (*1/2).

AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura for the WWE title at WrestleMania. Just wanted to type that whole thing out. Video package had a few images from TNA, but mostly from AJ's time in WCW or Japan. Nakamura's entrance, complete with badass rock guitar chick, squad of fiddle players, and a whole swarm of drummers, was pretty damn spectacular. Then AJ just came out to his music. AJ was having none of Nakamura's wacky antics, just responding with elbows to the head. He busted out the dropkick spot three or four minutes in. Nakamura leg-sweeped AJ, who fell on his nose on the apron, then Nakamura scored with a diving kick of the middle rope. This finally gave him a chance to tell AJ to COME ON! and then beat his ass. AJ hit a facebuster and a flurry of offense. Honestly, this was all pretty flat so far. AJ tried the forearm, but Nakamura caught him on his shoulders and hit a sitout DVD for a nearfall. More skipping, and I don't know what was happening. AJ hooked the calf crusher. They kept reaching for the ropes and rolling back to the middle, then Nakamura reversed it to a triangle. AJ eventually powerbombed his way free. AJ was selling his back and Nakamura was selling his knee. Major skipping issues here. I can say the crowd was flat. AJ hit the forearm for a neafall. He tried the springboard 450 but Nakamura got the knees up. They traded elbows and strikes midring. Nakamura hit the kinshasa for a nearfall. He followed with the reverse exploder and prepped for the kinshasa, but AJ rolled through and hit the Styles clash for the win. A good match that fell way, WAY short of expectations. (***1/4).

They hugged afterwards and everyone cheered. Nakamura got down on one knee to present the belt to AJ. Then he walloped AJ in the balls and started stomping the hell out of him. He spazzed up and hit the kinshasa in the aisleway. Mixed reation to all of this but at least it was SOME reaction. Why was the postmatch so much better than the actual match?.

The Bar vs. Braun Strowman & a mystery partner. Bar came out on a Mardi Gras float throwing beads. Then Braun came out and scared the float mascots and they all ran away grabbing their giant heads. This may have been the best moment on the show. Braun asked the fans if any of them wanted to be his tag team partner. 70,000-plus people volunteered. Braun started roaming the crowd in search of a partner and settled on what appeared to be a 10-year-old kid. He introduced Nicholas to the crowd, then told him to just stand in the corner, and he would take care of the rest. So the match began, with Nicholas looking scared out of his ever-loving gourd on the apron. Strowman ran wild briefly but the Bar overwhelmed him and started taking him apart. Braun backdropped Sheamus out and TAGGED IN NICHOLAS. He entered the ring, scared to hell, and tagged back out. Strowman pinned Cesaro with the powerslam to win the match and the belts. Yes, they put up the graphics, BRAUN STROWMAN & NICHOLAS are the tag team champions. Well how in the blue hell do I rate this? I mean, it was memorable. (*).

Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar. Boos for Roman, then LOTS of boos for Brock. My god, is Roman actually going to get cheered tonight? They charged like rams and Brock started dropping suplexes. They brawled on the floor and Roman hit a Superman punch off the stairs, but Brock hit a belly-to-belly suplex on the floor. Then another, this one with Roman landing on his head. More suplexes in the ring. Roman threw Brock into the post and tackled him over the announce desk. He hit two spears in the ring for a nearfall. Brock hit a kneestrike for a nearfall, then an F5 for a nearfall, then another F5 for another nearfall, then a third for a third. So he hit an F5 through the announce desk. Fans were playing with beach balls and booing when they were taken away. Brock hit an F5, then took off his gloves. Fans were chanting "THIS IS AWFUL!" Brock busted him open big time and went for an F5, but Roman slipped out and hit a pair of spears for a nearfall. He was VERY BLOODY. Roman was shouting at Brock and the match skipped ahead and Brock had won. Then they skipped back and Brock was making the cover. Network kept skipping back and forth and they showed replays and somehow I never saw how the hell Brock actually won. Apparently it was another F5. Huh. Well this match, much like this show, was long and boring and ruined by technical issues. I mean, I missed a lot, but I can tell you for sure that 70,000-plus people did not enjoy this. (DUD).

 

Bryan's TV Reviews

 

by Bryan Alvarez (@BryanAlvarez)

RAW

Jonathan Coachman in the ring to open up the show. They're opening up with the face off. Calls everyone out. Fans were going nuts with RONDA ROUSEY chants. Coachman says the universe submitted questions via social media. Well, they sure didn't plug that well. He's about to ask one when Hunter interrupts. He says the fans really want to like Ronda but those deafening chants are going to end Sunday when their team loses. Says he hasn't doubted two of the three I's, but he's confused about "intelligence". Says Ronda is the biggest signing in WWE history and Kurt ruined it, setting her up for embarrassment and a loss at WrestleMania. Says he'd like to know why. Ronda says she wants to know why they'd be so two-faced to sign her with ulterior motives. Stephanie says listen, Ronda is new, she doesn't understand the format, let's just move on with this Q&A. Ronda says she wants an answer. Steph says fine, we signed you because you're a big star, but in spite of your appalling attitude we're bringing you here because it's best for business. She says Kurt and Ronda work for them, she asks the questions, and she wants to know who the hell Ronda thinks she is. Kurt says she's Ronda frikkin Rousey, an Olympic medalist and UFC champion and Sunday she's going to make you tap out. Steph and Hunter laugh. Says all of that means exactly nothing in WWE. Says Ronda has been dreaming of coming here her entire life, but to them two of them, this is their entire life. Says in this ring they know the rules and Ronda has no idea what's going to happen. Coach says let's do this Q&A. First question is how important is it for them to win, and what will it mean for the future of WWE? What a question. Steph says they'll shut them down and everyone in the locker room will learn to respect authority. Next question is how Kurt feels teaming up with Ronda Rousey. He says Ronda Rowdy is the best in the world and she's going to prove it by making Steph tap out. Coach's next question is, do you have any final thoughts. Steph says Ronda chose this path, it's all on her, and she's going to lose her very first WWE match to Stephanie, and the world knows how she handles losses. Ronda says Steph if she's right or left handed. Steph says right handed. Ronda says just wondering if you're still going to be able to sign my checks after I rip your arm off. This got a big pop. Coach says OK, this is a good place to stop. Great Q&A dude. Coach says we need to do the pre-match photo op, but not like in UFC or boxing, we're going to do it our way, the classy way. LOL. He wishes them all the best. They do their staredown. Steph wants a handshake. Rousey is appalled and gets in her face. Angle pulls them apart. Hunter hits Angle with the mic from behind and the Steph puts Ronda through a table with a back suplex. Cuts a promo on her as Ronda stares a promo in her. Ronda got way up for that suplex and it was a good bump.

Bayley vs. Sonya Deville. Not a great match. Just can't take Sonya seriously doing the MMA gimmick when you have Shayna running roughshod in NXT and Ronda Rousey here on Raw. Probably should draft her to Raw but Asuka is probably ending up there. Anyway, Bayley made a comeback and Absolution pulled Sonya outside. This led to nothing. Bayley then rolled her up for the pin. Absolution jumped Bayley afterwards. Sasha ran down and made the save. They cleared the ring, then Sasha demanded Bayley raise her hand for saving her. Bayley got pissed and clobbered her and they got into a brawl. And then Absolution jumped them and laid them out.

Cole alerts us that WrestleMania is free for new subscribers.

Asuka video package.

Miz giving birth video package.

Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins. Miz does commentary. He's supposed to be a heel but he's sitting there doing the biggest babyface promo ever, saying headlining WrestleMania was awesome, marrying his wife was great, but the best moment of his life was the birth of his new daughter, and how it changes you as a person. At first I thought he was turning babyface but then it became clear he's going to be using this for heat. Now, with that said, this was one of the better promos of his life because when he was done my emotional reaction was to cancel my trip to WrestleMania. We had a WrestleMania promo for AJ vs. Nakamura in the middle of this match. They actually killed the Raw audio to play it. Seth and Rollins had a very good match but man, they paid ZERO attention to it so it felt unimportant. Seth made a big comeback and hit a tope. They went to commercial. When they came back, Seth hit a huge superkick out of the corner. Miz was going nuts about what a great match this was. Fans, who were paying attention to the match and not Miz, chanted "THIS IS AWESOME!" Finn went up top but got cut off. Seth hit the superplex into the falcon arrow and Finn turned it into a small package, same finish from several weeks ago, but Seth kicked out. Seth went for the frog splash but Finn got the knees up and cradled him for a nearfall. Place was going haywire. They teased the buckle bomb into the barricade but Finn escaped and dropkicked Seth into the dasher boards. They traded nearfalls and Seth hit the footstomp for the pin. I'll be that guy. This would have been maybe the best match at WrestleMania, but instead it's on RAW and MIZ is in the match on Sunday. Oh well.

They plug the battle royals and then point out that Mania is free to new subscribers.

Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns video package.

Paul is on the phone. Says he has a vision, the BROCKTAGON. Kurt Angle shows up. Paul says Kurt is here and he'll call them later. Angle says the most important part of WrestleMania is to make sure the main event stays in tact. Heyman says tonight we do it your way. Go out to the ring, say our piece, and we'll save all the violence for in the ring at WrestleMania. Kurt says please, just don't have Brock say anything that will incite Roman to hurt him before WrestleMania. Heyman howls with laughter. Angle says please, don't add fuel to the fire.

The Bar out. They cut a promo about how they don't care who Braun Strowman's partner is. Says it doesn't matter to them because as big and strong as they are it's still a tag team match, and sooner or later he'll have to tag in this partner and that man and Braun have to be on the same page, but no way they'll be on the same page like the Bar is. Braun comes out. Fans chant "GET THESE HANDS!" He says if they're trying to say he doesn't play well with others, they're right. But management is forcing him to have a partner, so he's got one. He says his partner will appear tonight as long as he can have a match with one of them. Fans chant "YES YES YES!" Sheamus says if your partner wants a match, you've got it. Braun says good, I'll go get him. He starts to head backstage but then warns him that he's a lot like me. Goes backstage, Braun's music hits, he comes back out in glasses and a white shirt. He says his brother is Braun and he's BRAINS and he's gonna go down there and know that out of their heads. Gets in the ring, takes off his shirt and glasses and attacks them both. They double-team him but he fights back and clears the ring. It is noted that on Sunday he has to have an actual partner or he won't get a shot at the tag titles.

Goldust promo. Says he's going to win the Andre the Giant Battle Royal and then HBO will have to make a documentary about him and then you'll never forget the name of Goldust.

Matt Hardy promo. He also wants to win the Battle Royal.

Goldust vs. Matt Hardy. Short match, not a lot of heat, Matt deletes him with the twist of fate.

Alexa and Mickey selfie video. They joke and call her fat. Well, they don't say fat but do say blubber, which is, in fact, fat.

Cena out for his weekly Undertaker guilt trip. He comes out and says we're out of time and no Undertaker. Says some people are sad but not him, he did everything he could to get the guy in a match. Says he's not sad, he's going to WrestleMania as a fan and he's going to have a great time. Says fans keep asking what his match is going to be and he notes he's not in a match. Says Cole told him listen, join the battle royal or be Braun's partner or enter one of the three-ways. Says he lost to Roman Reigns, he lost at Survivor Series, he lost at Royal Rumble, he lost at Elimination Chamber and he lost at Fast Lane. So if he was just going to enter one of those matches he'd be taking a spot from a wrestler who busted their ass to earn that spot. In the battle royal? He says his life changed last year, and life-changing things happen with him every day. Says maybe this WrestleMania is the perfect time for a change. Fans chant "UNDERTAKER!" Says he's proud to go as a fan and witness the most amazing WrestleMania card of all time. Puts over various stars, Daniel Bryan, the women, etc., and then says he needs to apologize for Undertaker. This was going on forever and they cut to a crowd shot and this dude was just playing on his phone. Asks the fans to summon the Undertaker. They cheer like crazy but no Undertaker. He guilts them into cheering louder and louder. All that and no Undertaker. Says Taker can ignore him but when he ignores the people he's a dead man walking. Says Taker left his hat in the ring last year but he left his balls at home. Fans chant "CENA!" No Undertaker, so he leaves.

Roman is in the locker room when Kurt shows up. Says he already has one Mania match not happening and begs Roman not to do anything stupid tonight and endanger that main event. Roman says listen, if this idiot says one stupid thing I'm heading down to the ring and taking him out.

Elias out for his performance. Vows the best performance of his life at WrestleMania. Has a song. But Heath Slater interrupts.

Elias vs. One Man Band. Elias wins with the neckbreaker in a nothing match.

Braun is backstage when Curt Hawkins runs into him. Wants to be his partner. Braun wants to know his win-loss record. Curt says not good, but that's where you come in. This could be my big break! Braun tosses him through a Raw and says that's his big break.

Nia interview with Renee. Nia with the babyface promo saying this is bringing her back to when she was a kid growing up DIFFERENT, and she's learned you have just be yourself and not worry about what anyone says about you. She says she's not a goddess, she's just herself. She's been disapppointed that she trusted someone like Alexa. Says Alexa called her a loser who couldn't face the truth, and those comments took a toll on her. But she's had to look at herself in the mirror and tell herself she's Nia Jax and she doesn't take that shit. Says yes, she's big, but this is how God made her, and she shouldn't feel sorry about who she is. Alexa represents everyone who has kept her down and told her she wouldn't make it here. Says Alexa, you're nothing but an insecure little girl. And at WrestleMania I'm going to squash you like a bug.

Alexa & Mickie vs. Dana & Asuka. Heat on Dana. Fans chant, "WE WANT ASUKA!" Dana kept making comebacks but not tagging in Asuka. Coach was baffled, couldn't figure out if Asuka's streak ended if she lost this match. Cole was like, yes, the streak would be over. This match felt like it went on forever. Like three separate chinlocks and a commercial break. Asuka got the tag and ran wild on Mickie. Mickie cut her off, went up top, missed a dive and Asuka put her in the Asuka lock for the submission. Alexa and Mickie jumped Asuka afterwards and then hit Dana with a double DDT. Nia Jax ran down to make the save. Alexa got away from Nia crushed Mickie and gave her the Samoan drop. Crowd went nuts for this.

Angle met with Paul and Brock. Paul promised to talk positively about Roman.

Brock and Paul came out. A human wall was on the ramp consisting of the Bar, Miztourage, Revival, Slater and Rhino and Anderson and Gallows. Paul was disgusted by this human wall. Says Kurt has no control, control is wielded be he who holds the title, and that man is Brock. Paul vows to tell the truth. Says he told people Brock would beat Undertaker's streak, and that it wasn't a prediction, it was a spoiler. But he did. Says it's a fact that six days from now and the only two men who have beaten Undertaker at Mania are going to compete with each other at Mania. Says everyone expects Roman to win, like it's a spoiler. Says you have to respect Roman Reigns, but the truth is that this Sunday Brock Lesnar with F-5 Roman Reigns and pin him in the middle of the ring 1,2,3. Says that's not a prediction, that's a spoiler. Says should an act of God happen, if Brock Lesnar happens to lose at WrestleMania, this is the last time you'll see him and Brock on Monday Night Raw. Says he'll say his goodbyes from his social media, and since Brock will be saying his hellos from UFC. Says the image he has created about Brock since 2002 is all true, it's not an image, he does in fact think nobody in the locker room can hold his jock or take his title. Says Roman's only choice Sunday is to accept defeat. Says Roman has no options, his options are like his ass, owned by Brock Lesnar. Says Roman will go home and have to tell his entire family that he got conquered by Brock Lesnar. He's not the big dog against Lesnar and this is not his yard. "Roman Reigns, you're just Brock Lesnar's bitch." Roman comes out. The human wall blocks him. Roman says you full-time talent are gonna stand out here and protect that part-time bastard? They whisper among themselves and then let him pass. Fans chant "LET'S GO ROMAN!" He gets in the ring but Brock bails, gets his belt and goes to leave. But then he gets a chair and gets back into the ring. Roman hits a superman punch, then another, then a third. Grabs the belt and poses over Brock's body. Pretty good mix of cheers and boos. Brock then jumps up and gives him an F-5 onto the belt. Roman sells like he's badly injured. Paul then screams that the F-5 put Roman down. Good final angle.