SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
RISING STAR(S) OF WRESTLEMANIA 33: The Hardy Boyz
What a “delightful” surprise. The return of (#BROKEN?) Matt and Jeff was by far the pinnacle moment of this seven hour “thrill ride”, and I’d argue beautifully executed as far as surprises go. Having New Day come dressed to wrestle was just red enough of a herring to throw a viewing audience off their game (at least mine), and having them win the titles right off the bat was the perfect choice as far as booking goes. Re-establish these legends right away (both are unequivocally) and it helps you re-establish the tag division. What’s great about Jeff and Matt is they are already built in single stars too – leave the belts on them and allow them to have their own main event feuds. WWE could do this right away too, with no build needed. Any sort of conventional booking should absolutely be deleted.
Goldberg: As much flak as the 50-year-old-superhero has been getting for his less-than-a-minute matches, Goldberg ended his unexpected WWE run on an almost perfect note with Lesnar. With just six minutes of pure packed energy, this was a complete contrast to about four hours of the rest of the card. That first spear out of nowhere? Just magnificently brutal. The second? Even better. The one through the barricade? Scary and unnecessary, but just as awesome. This was a great way for Goldberg to answer “no one” to “Who’s Next?”
Undertaker: Not a good match by any means, but memorable and overall the best send-off for “The Deadman” at this point in his journey? Absolutely. Moments like this and the aforementioned Universal Title match goes to show you that you don’t need a spot-fest of superkicks and somersaults to get the appropriate reaction. Taker’s wrestling ability may have been way past it’s sell date, but the legacy was only helped by last night’s final visual.
A.J. Styles: I did not like his match with “built like a linebacker” Shane, but I’m in the Bruce Mitchell camp of feeling that it in the long run will help his career in WWE’s Universe of “Sports Entertainment” generously bestowed unto you by the all-knowing McMahon monarchy. His corporate street cred is in good standing.
John Cena: Even despite his pretty much telegraphed marriage proposal, I figured Cena’s star would stay static, but how he handled himself during said proposal seemed and felt genuine (as much as a public proposal in front of a stadium filled with 70,000 people can). I think those final moments in the segment after the match went above and beyond expectations. Cena’s connect with fans grew a bit stronger after last night.
FADING STAR(S) OF WRESTLEMANIA 33: Triple H
First, he tries scooping Biker Taker’s streak with his unbelievably slow motorcycle ride (which looked more like it should be outside of a grocery store than on a highway) down an unreasonably long match, and then he tortures us with 25 minutes of cerebral assassination of any intrigue that an already damaged Seth Rollins’ character had with fans (which partially falls on Rollins himself too). Not only should this have been shortened to 12 minutes at most, but all the self-adoration of The Game persona legitimately took away from the WrestleMania event in it’s entirety. We as an audience need a little more come-uppence than an incidental table bump. Not only should last night have been Taker’s “Last Ride”, but maybe “Game Over” for Trips.
Randy Orton: The word of the “Fading Star” section this week is “torture” and it’s also in thanks to Randy Orton. Overall, I’d say the newest version of Orton pre-Wyatt family was much more intriguing than the scripted auto-pilot version we’ve grown accustomed to, and it looks like that venomless viper has reared it’s ugly head again. Granted, four and a half hours of corporate speak, “just okay at best” matches (with the exception of the Hardyz surprise) and members of the Wyatt family running the lighting and effects in truck did not help his cause, but Randy is a character that’s pretty much played out. He’s talented and seems like a bigger persona without a script in front of him, but when he’s lacquered up with WWE’s corporate shine, he’s as un-engaging as anybody on the roster.
CHECK OUT THE PREVIOUS COLUMN: RISING STAR & FADING STAR: Xavier Woods, Bayley, Samoa Joe, American Alpha, Stephanie McMahon, Bray Wyatt
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