– If you missed the show and want to watch it, you can do so here.
Actual Pre-Show Notes
Worst: Hey Man, Maybe Let Us In The Building Before You Start Having Tag Team Title Matches
In case you missed it, this year’s WrestleMania event was 7 hours long with a 16-hour pre-show. That time was roughly 15 hours of video packages, half an hour of Booker T emasculating Byron Saxton for not being black enough and half an hour of wrestling. Unfortunately, Levi’s Stadium left people lined up around the building (and especially at the ticket booth and will call) as the show was starting, so I watched the first match through a brick wall.
That was my experience. I heard Cesaro’s sirens and was like, “oh man, I hope I get in in time to see the finish.” Then like ten minutes or whatever passed and I heard them again. If you look in the background of that picture you can see a bunch of empty-ass orange seats. One of those is where my butt was supposed to be, but I was out in a weirdly celebrity-filled queue full of Lucha Underground guys and rapper Wale, who you think would get some kind of VIP treatment. Big Ryck/Ezekiel Jackson was like five spaces in front of me in line while the pre-show was happening. That guy was the Intercontinental Champion. Can’t we get a cart out here for him? MOTHERF*CKER WAS IN THE CORRE.
Best: The Match, Though
The actual match itself was exactly what it needed to be: a cadre of forgotten mid-card guys just going balls out in front of half the crowd. It was the first thing I watched when I got back to my hotel room. Well, that and the Ronald Reagan video package.
There’s a tangible energy to it (the match, not Ronald Reagan) that I wish was a regular part of the tag division. On Raw you’ve got these really boring “southern style” matches WWE guys never really learned how to do, so it’s just a guy taking heat for two minutes, making a hot tag, elbow elbow signature move distraction rollup and you’re out. This felt more like one of those late-era Nitro tags where Three Count and the Jung Dragons or whoever knew they weren’t getting Hulk Hogan’s spot anytime soon, so they’d just hurl themselves into ladders and shit for nothing.
There aren’t ladders here — those come later — but there are dives, Tower Of Doom spots, Natalya cosplaying Beth Phoenix and putting El Torito in the damn Sharpshooter and more. They’re just like WELP, NOBODY’S WATCHING THIS, LET’S KILL IT. Maybe they finally have a reason to be motivated. Maybe they saw the rest of the card and didn’t want to be a booger on the end of the nose of greatness. Who knows?
Best: The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
If the Royal Rumble had been booked with as much grace and effort as the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, man, it would’ve been great. Roman would’ve looked great before the actual damn WrestleMania main-event started in hour 275 of WrestleMania.
Anyway, there’s a ton to love from the battle royal, including:
– Curtis Axel’s WrestleMania dream ending in like two seconds because every non-Curtis Axel person in the world is a jerk.
– On Friday I was live at NXT and got to see Hideo Itami use the Go To Sleep in WWE for the first time. Two days later, he’s performing at WrestleMania (even if it’s technically the pre-show) and having an in-ring standoff with The Big Show. Imagine going back in time 10 years and trying to tell someone that KENTA would be fighting the f*cking Big Show at WrestleMania.
– Alex Riley continues to be the most hilariously pathetic wrestler ever, “raging” against The Miz (because continuity!) and immediately getting dumped. The only thing missing was Kevin Owens running out, stomping him once, then running to the back.
– Ryback dispatching some of his old friends in the Nexus. When I was at WrestleMania Axxess I told him I loved the Nexus, and he was like, “yeah, me too. We’re gonna get back together one day when the time is right.” And my brain goes WOOOOOOSSSSSHHHHH because like 70% of my fantasy booking ideas end with “and then the Nexus reunites.” Anyway, good to see Heath Slater getting a WrestleMania pay-day. Let’s do something with him again!
– The New Day trying to use TRIPLE TECH to eliminate Big Show, but it failing. I would be so into The New Day if they were triple team experts and that’s how they won matches. Like, WWE went through that period when The Shield was big where every other show had a marquee six-man tag … imagine The New Day as the guys who recognized that and prepared for it. Matching tights and TONS OF MOVES. They’d be my favorite thing. They’d be like one of those mid-card heel teams from Final Fantasy games I always fall in love with. They’d be the Luca Goers.
– The Cesaro/Big Show callback was one of the most appropriate moments of the night. Cesaro was in the tag team match before the battle royal so I don’t think any of us expected him to win, but seeing him be a player again and almost pull it off was nice.
– The climax of the match was the rise of Damien Sandow, finally freed from his bonds as The Miz’s lackey. He shitcans Miz for being too demanding and then goes full fired-up babyface on Show, proving that Damien Sandow is secretly the best wrestler on the show and can probably do anything. He could probably show up on Lucha Underground and jump off balconies. But yeah, he tries to Cesaro Big Show AND tries to Chris Benoit him, but eventually gets thrown out.
1. The next month or two of Sandow is going to be crucial. The split from Miz will obviously lead to Sandow vs. Miz at Extreme Rules, but the story has to remain strong and Sandow has to remain sympathetic. Remember when Alex Riley split from Miz? He was the most over dude in the world for like two weeks, and then everybody figured it out wasn’t “Alex Riley” they liked, it was “whoever was punching The Miz.” There’s a chance that for as good as Sandow is, the crowd’s only going to like him if he’s punching Miz. I hope they have a next step in the plan.
2. I’ve read a lot of complaints about Show winning, but come on, man. He’s the Big Show. The contract of battle royals is that you have to let the biggest, heaviest guy win it sometimes. If you don’t, you defy the conventions of reality suspended to make battle royals possible. The first talking point is always “this guy is the biggest and the heaviest so he’s the favorite!” It’s like how sometimes you have to let #30 win the Royal Rumble. If you don’t, the talking points are all bullshit.
Besides, he’s the Big Show. He’s the son of Andre the Giant . He needs to be on the trophy before he’s gone.