Don’t worry folks, this is still a WCW website, and everyone here at the site will always be dedicated to the retro side of pro-wrestling; the way GOD intended.
However, there have been many times that I’ve wanted to express my thoughts about modern wrestling. I’ve been debating doing this for a while now, but I figure if there were ever a time, WrestleMania IS that time.
So welcome to my new feature here on the site called, Modern Mumbling!
Creative title I know.
So kick back, relax, and just pretend this show is actually Starrcade 2018.
WWE Hall of Fame 2018
Let’s begin with a recap of the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony. The WWE Hall of Fame has been a polarizing source of debate among wrestling fans for nearly fifteen years now. In short, many feel that due to the inductions of celebrities and wrestlers who may not have been big stars in their day (and also Vince McMahon Sr’s limo driver) the criteria for the HOF is that of, “does Vince McMahon like you?” Compare this to the MLB and NFL Hall of Fame’s, which are voted on by a committee and judged upon pure talent and importance to the sport. My opinion is that the WWE Hall of Fame is a bit of fun; it’s a ceremony, not a real honor. If you want a wrestling HOF with real criteria, there’s the Wrestling Observer Hall of Fame, though it still has some… interesting choices.
There was a very strong WCW presence in this years Hall of Fame class, specifically with this year’s headliner being your Dad and mine, Goldberg.
The Dudley Boyz induction speech was very entertaining, albeit with some forced humor. Here in 2018 where we’ve all kinda realized that the Road Warriors weren’t very good, Bubba Ray and D-Von are probably the best tag team of all time. [WHAT!?! – Ed.] It’s worth mentioning their induction video perpetuated the myth that the Dudley’s were once WCW Tag Team Champions, even though they really weren’t. Yes, they held the belts that said “WCW World Tag Team Champions,” but that was during the horrid Invasion angle in 2001. You know, that event we DON’T talk about on this site.
Hillbilly Jim was next on the dock and GOD BLESS THIS MAN. Anyone who watched Legend’s House on the WWE Network knows what a nice fella ol’ Jim is. However, he didn’t need to have a FORTY FIVE MINUTE SPEECH. A nice guy, but good Lord, this was woeful.
Next up was Ivory. Starting her career in GLOW, Ivory was one of the few talented women in the WWF’s Attitude Era. She still looks gorgeous, so fair play to her.
Jarrius “JJ” Robertson was the recipient of this year’s Warrior Award. I won’t go into the disgusting nature of the Warrior Award, but this kid is amazing. A truly inspirational story and an amazing young man. More than deserving of acknowledgement.
Kid Rock was this year’s Celebrity Inductee. It sucked. He sucks. This should have been Fred Durst instead.
Mark Henry took his rightful spot in the WWE Hall of Fame on this night as one of the WWE’s longest tenured employees and most faithful soldiers. Henry had maybe one of the best career resurgences in wrestling history, right up there with Crow Sting, born-again Christian Shawn Michaels, and Hollywood Hogan. The “Hall of Pain” gimmick in 2011 was one of the brightest spots in the company during one of their most creatively drained times.
This brings us to Double J himself, Jeff Jarrett. I’ve previously discussed the surrealism of this induction, as well as my fandom for Jarrett in the past. Jarrett stole this show in what may have been his one night only return to WWE television. It was crazy that after all that Jarrett has done over the last near 20 years, including being a four time WCW Champion and founding the third biggest wrestling company in North America, seeing him on a WWE stage, accepting a WWE award. It goes to show, kids; persistence is the key to life.
And finally, we have Bill Goldberg.
Unfortunately, Goldberg’s speech came at the tail end of a FIVE HOUR SHOW. People were exhausted, including, I’m sure, Bill. His acceptance speech was great, mostly because it was just him challenging Roman Reigns to a match. In terms of Goldberg’s place in a wrestling Hall of Fame, I think he’s more than deserving. In fact I’d say he’s one of the biggest omissions from the Observer Hall of Fame. Let’s think about this for a second; Goldberg was the second biggest star in all of wrestling in the year 1998, the year that wrestling was at it’s most culturally relevant. I think that says it all.
I have to briefly mention NXT Takeover from the night before WrestleMania, as it featured two five-star-matches, one of which is now one of my favorite matches of all time. That automatically makes this one of the greatest wrestling shows of all time, from any era.
The ladder match for the inaugural NXT North American Championship was absolutely amazing. It was the best WWE ladder match in over a decade, and that says a lot, considering the WWE has two annual pay per views based around ladder matches. The women’s match, tag team match and NXT title match were all good, but frankly, forgettable. Especially considering what came next.
Johnny Gargano vs Tommaso Ciampa is one of my favorite matches of all time and may very well be one of the top five best matches in WWE history. It was a masterpiece. If you’re reading this and haven’t watched this match yet, I demand you to do so. You’ll thank me later.
This sticks to the usual WWE pre-show formula; a panel of B-team announcers, radio show hosts and retired wrestlers. It’s all harmless shilling that never hurts anybody, though a hilarious moment comes when radio show host Sam Roberts completely loses his train of thought and just kinda mumbles for a minute straight. It’s hysterical. Every time I see Peter Rosenberg, I become more and more confident I could do his job better than him. I mean, I know who WAR MACHINE is.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Jerry Lawler and Jim Ross have to carry Byron Saxton on commentary, because God hates me. Poor Kane is being stuffed into this garbage in what is probably his last WrestleMania. Vince can’t even give him a gold watch. Goldust was picked by two people in my house to win, for some reason. He’s also wearing polka-dots. How nice. I hate Dolph Ziggler. They then cut to COMMERCIAL. In this WrestleMania match. Good Lord.
Goldust kicks Tye Dillenger in the balls and the Dolph tosses him. Broken Matt Hardy tosses Tye. KANE ELIMINATES ZIGGLER, FUCK YEAH. Baron Corbin tosses Kane. Gross. We’re down to Hardy, Corbin and Mojo Rawley, two former winners of this match. Corbin and Mojo target Hardy, but then Bray Wyatt comes from out of nowhere and Hardy eliminates Mojo. Hardy eliminates Corbin and since Wyatt wasn’t a participant, Hardy wins! At least the right man won here. Hardy and Wyatt shake hands and pose together and the emotion of this bring John Cena to tears in the crowd. They cut back the the pre-show panel before Hardy can pose with the trophy. A harmless, but extremely forgettable match to open this show. *1/2
Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander vs Mustafa Ali
205 Live general manager Drake Maverick is shown sitting next to the vacant Cruiserweight Championship, while Nigel McGuinness and Vic Joseph are on commentary. Cedric out first, looking generic. Mustafa out second, looking badass. I know who I’m picking. Well, I was wrong. Cedric won.
I won’t lie here, this modern WWE Cruiserweight division does NOTHING for me. It was a fine match, albeit a bit forgettable, and I’m happy for both men. But yeah, this was no classic. I did love Cedric’s post match celebration. **1/4
WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal
Beth Phoenix, Michael Cole and Corey Graves handle the commentary duties for this one. I literally didn’t recognize like 10 of these girls. Is that bad? There’s one girl dressed like Nailz. Carmella’s gear was the MVP of this match. Becky’s gear is a close second. Bianca Bel Air’s ponytail is third. This match was longer than the men’s, which is fine. Liv Morgan is wearing Bob Holly’s gear from his days as Thurmond “Sparky” Plugg. Sarah Logan continues to be the worst in the division.
The match comes down to Bayley and Sasha, who shake hands, but Bayley eliminates Sasha to a HUGE pop. Naomi suddenly emerges, having never being eliminated apparently, which gets an even bigger reaction. Naomi wins. It was better than the men’s battle royal, which ain’t saying much. **
WRESTLEMANIA 34 PROPER
Intercontinental Title Triple Threat Match: The Miz (c) vs Finn Balor vs Seth Rollins
Rollins has weird eye contacts. Miz out next, dressed like the Arbiter from Halo. He sends Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel to the back. Balor comes out in normal human form, sporting LGBTQ colors, with members of the community flanking him. Good on ya, Double Double. I appreciate the sentiment, but those rainbow colors are hideous. I am so sick of this gimmick of cutting to Cena in the crowd by this point. In his defense, he does at least look interested. This match ruled. Miz gets a two fall with a skull crushing finale. Miz hit Rollins with a skull crushing finale off the TOP ROPE. Balor hit a coup de gras on both men. Rollins hits a curb stomp on Miz to win the title. A very good ass match. ***3/4
SmackDown Women’s Championship: Charlotte (c) vs Asuka
For those out of the loop, Asuka has been undefeated since debuting in WWE in October of 2015. Charlotte and Asuka both had awesome entrances. These women are STARS. This match could justifiably have gone on last. Asuka countered a moonsault with a triangle choke which Charlotte fights out of with a Boston crab. Awesome shit. Asuka suplexes Charlotte off of the apron, it looked STIFF AF. Beautiful spanish fly off the top for a two count. Charlotte hit the best non-Goldberg spear I’ve ever seen. Charlotte locks Asuka in the Figure 8 and FUCKING WINS. Did not see that coming; don’t know if I liked it. Loved the post match with Asuka congratulating Charlotte. Odd booking aside, this match was awesome. The best women’s match in WrestleMania history. ****1/4
Suddenly, a ref runs down to ringside and beckons John Cena to the back. Well, well, well. Asuka’s face of joy seeing Cena run and Charlotte celebrate was adorable. I love her.
United States Championship Fatal 4 Way: Randy Orton (c) vs Bobby Roode vs Jinder Mahal vs Rusev
Roode out first, Rusev next with a shaved head Aiden English. Jinder next with Sunil Singh and an odd looking jacket. Randy out last, looking like Randy Orton. Jinder officially has a ponytail; good for him. Very cool to see Bobby Roode having a WrestleMania match. Definetley one of those guys I didn’t think would ever get here. So of course, he lost. Beautiful superplex from Orton on Roode. Rusev had an RVD-like selling of the RKO. Rusev went for the Accolade, but Sunil jumped on the apron, distracting Ru-Ru and allowing Mahal to hit the Collas and get the win. So yes, the least over guy in the match pinned the most over guy in the match. Moral of the story, kids; take steroids. This match had NOTHING going on for it. *3/4
Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
Steph and Hunter come out riding matching tricycle bikes. Nerds. They’re both in amazing shape tho. Hunter looks like 2000 era Triple H. Say what you want about all of this, but seeing Kurt Angle make his entrance at a WrestleMania for the first time in twelve years damn near brought a tear to my eye. You can take your Flair’s, Michaels’, Okada’s and Style’s and shove them up your ass. Kurt Angle is the greatest wrestler I’ve ever seen. I love Ronda’s gear. She looks like a female Roddy Piper, which is the point, I know, but it’s still awesome. The commentators mention that Ronda and Ken Shamrock are the only two people in history to start in UFC and come to WWE. Kinda cool. Ronda has the facial expressions down already. Kurt and Hunter still work well together. I feel like I’m watching an episode of RAW from 2000. One negative I have with this match is how loud the spot calling was, esspecially from Trips. Rousey got maybe the hottest hot tag I’ve ever seen. That crowd exploded. Worth noting that her punches look awesome, which is odd considering she wasn’t known for that in her MMA career. Honestly, Ronda is a fucking natural at this. Kinda reminds me of… well… Kurt Angle. I do still hate Rousey having to sell for a forty-year-old non-wrestler, but to her credit, Stephanie ain’t bad. Ronda and Steph are probably better than 80% of the full time women in the company.
The spot where Rousey beat the shit out of Triple H was awesome. Probably the pop of the night.
Angle can STILL hit the Benoit three German suplexes. Does my heart good. LOVED Kurt putting Stephanie in the Ankle Lock. She finally got her comeuppances from someone she abused on TV. Awesome. Rousey locked Stephanie in the armbar and Angle locked Hunter in the Ankle Lock, but HHH threw Kurt into Ronda with his leg. Hunter and Steph go for sterio Pedigrees, but Kurt is having none of it. Ronda locks Steph in another arm bar and Steph taps out! We see Dana White applauding in the crowd, Kurt and Ronda hug! A happy ending! WRESTLING RULES! ****1/4
SmackDown Tag Team Title Triple Threat: The Usos (c) vs The New Day vs The Bludgeon Brothers
The New Day out first, flanked by little people dressed as pancakes. I’m happy for the Uso’s finally getting a match at Mania. They are legit the best team in the world. Same goes for Harper and Rowan finally getting a Mania match, proper. Although, Rowan did have a match with THE ROCK at Mania 32, so things ain’t so bad. I like the Bludgeon Brothers absolutely destroying everyone on the outside, including Xavier Woods, who wasn’t in the match. The match evolved into a brawl between all six men, both on the inside and outside of the ring. All of these guys are busting their ass. The Bludgeon Brothers hit Kofi Kingston with a top rope powerbomb for the win and are the new SmackDown Tag Team Champions. A good match that could have been great if given more time. I look forward to the eventual rematch. Still very cool to see Luke Harper with a title. **
John Cena’s music hits and now, it’s go-time. There was a noticeable echo in the audio at this point. JoJo gave Cena a proper ring introduction. Cena looks excited, when a second referee runs into the ring and whispers to Cena, who immediately looks heartbroken. As Cena is walking back up the aisle, the lights go out. As we’re expecting a dong, we hear the strum of Elias’ guitar, making him an instant heel. Elias does his usual amazing shtick, before Cena beats the hell out of him and sends him packing. A big part of me wishes these two had been feuding and had a full match at Mania. John Cena leaves again and walks back up the ramp, when suddenly…darkness descends upon the SuperDome. As the crowd chatters, a single spotlighs targets the ring, where a trenchcoat and hat are laying. Smoke fills the arena. Lightning bolts hit the ring, the lights go out. When the spotlight returns, the hat and coat are gone. Cut to Cena’s face; he looks like he’s seen a ghost. Well, he’s about to see a Deadman Walking. The gong sounds…and rising from the ground, is The Phenom.
The Undertaker vs John Cena
What a fucking missed opportunity and borderline waste of both men, but I DON’T CARE. THIS WHOLE SEGMENT WAS AWESOME. But now they have to wrestle. Oh shit. This may have been Taker’s best Mania entrance in years, simply because of the moment it created. As The Undertaker removes his iconic hat, fire emerges from the stage, and Cena looks terrified. Humbled even. To his credit, Undertaker looks badass and in far better shape than we’ve seen him since probably WrestleMania 27. Taker is moving far better than the last few years as well. That’s pretty amazing. After hitting all of his signature moves, Undertaker goes for a chokeslam, but Cena floats behind and goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Taker SITS UP.
That will never get old.
Throatslash, tombstone, 1-2-3, and this one is over, boys. The Undertaker vs John Cena at WrestleMania last about 4 minutes. AND IT WAS AWESOME. I loved everything about this segment. Easily the best storytelling of the whole night. Yes, the build sucked, yes, this was missed opportunity. But I’ll be damned, the payoff was worth it. Seeing a healthy, in-shape Undertaker ONCE, is better than six weeks of a broken old-man, mumbling into a microphone. I want The Undertaker to be healthy and so yes, I would like to see him retire. But selfishly? Goddamn, I will never get tired of this. Regardless of where the Deadman goes from here, this segment was still worth it. And major props to John Cena for letting this happen to him. A genuine pro. **1/4
Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
There is a certain beauty to seeing Daniel Bryan wrestle again. I watched this show with my best friend. There was a period of a couple of years where she and I didn’t see each other in person. Then, we started hanging out again, and picked up where we left off, like no time had passed. Seeing Bryan return is like catching up with an old friend, who you didn’t know if you would ever see again. It’s really, really cool. My favorite part of WrestleMania. Owens and Zayn attack Bryan and Shane before the match. Owens hits Bryan with a powerbomb on the apron, temporarily making this a handicap match. After Shane began fighting both Owens and Zayn alone, the crowd died. They wanted Bryan, but didn’t get him. I get what the booking was trying to do here, but it kind of backfired. The fatigued crowd really never recovered from this. Owens and Zayn target Shane’s previously injured stomach, while Bryan is attended to by EMT’s on the outside. McMahon hits the Coast to Coast and it looked awesome. Owens hit a frogsplash on Shane but Daniel Bryan returns and breaks up the count! Bryan does his entire comeback sequence and everything looks perfect.
In one minute, Daniel Bryan once again became the best wrestler in WWE.
Bryan hit the running knee and locked Zayn in the Yes-Lock and gets the win for himself and Shane. Once Bryan came into the match, it became really good, probably the third best of the night. However, the first 5 minutes of SuperShane really took the wind out of the crowd’s sail. Plus, God bless him, Shane McMahon is really no good. This wasn’t about him though. Bryan kisses his wife Brie, Shane hugs his kids, the two men embrace, and we’re out of here. A feel good segment. I’m hella curious to see where Owens and Zayn go from here, but more importantly; where does Daniel Bryan go from here? Only time will tell. ***1/2
RAW Women’s Title: Alexa Bliss (c) vs Nia Jax
I hated this storyline. Hated it. Did. Not. Like. I’d rather not discuss why, but I won’t let it cloud my judgement of this match. Alexa Bliss had a very cool entrance, being lowered from a pedestal about 30 feet in the air. Mickie James accompanies young Alexa. Nia Jax out next, wearing gear that from the waist up would make a man weak in the knees and from the waist down make them weak at the stomach. I’ve never seen gear so awesome and so hideous at the same time. Nia immediately takes out James. An amazing moment comes when Nia yells at Alexa out of anger and Alexa yells back out of fear. It was maybe the most gifable moment of the show. Bliss actually got a lot of offense in this match, which I feel was a mistake. Given the storyline, logic would dictate this match would be over in about 3 minutes after Nia murders Alexa. Instead, they have a back an forth match. In my opinion, two or three minutes of this match should have been given to the SmackDown tag match. Nia yells, “I LOVED YOU” to Alexa, then hits a Samoan Drop off the second rope to pick up the win and the title. A fine match, but easily the worst of the three matches involving women on this show. Nia hugs The Rock’s Mom and Daughter and heads to the back. *3/4
It’s worth mentioning that Johnathan Coachman was INSUFFERABLE on this show, but all other commentary was fine.
WWE Championship Match: AJ Styles (c) vs Shinsuke Nakamura
Nakamura gets a major superstar entrance, with twenty violinists, a percussion section, and Alice Cooper’s guitarist playing him down the aisle. He’s also in full Michael Jackson Thriller mode. Best entrance of the night, hands down.
Styles out next, getting a superstar reation. This totally had a big fight feel, for sure. This felt wayyyy more like a main event than the last match on the card did. The two men obviously work well, but something seems to not be clicking early on. The enthusiasm of the crowd also tapers off pretty early on. A little under ten minutes in, it becomes clear that this match needs at least another fifteen minutes to truly reach it’s potential.
Sadly, it never got there.
Very fun sequence where the two men exchange submissions on the mat, until AJ lifts Nakamura high into the air and hits with some kind of an awesome looking cradle DVD. AJ hits a Phenominal Forearm, but Nakamura kicks out at two. Styles goes for a 450, but Shinsuke gets his knees up, and pins AJ for a two count. After the two men punch the shit out of each other, Nakamura gets AJ with a knee in the back of the head but only gets a two count! Nakamura sets up for a Kinshasa, but as he goes for it, AJ catches his leg and ROLLS BOTH OF THEM BACKWARDS, lifts Shin up and nails a Styles Clash. Goddamn awesome sequence. So goddamn awesome in fact that it allows AJ to get the three count and retain the WWE Championship! After the match, the two men hug in a very emotional moment. Nakamura grabs the title from the ref, kneels down and hands it to AJ. But then, SWERVE, Nakamura hits Styles right in the balls!
He trash-talks AJ, then kicks him outside of the ring. Nakamura stares down the referee, before kicking AJ once again for good measure. As AJ stumbles to his feet, Nakamura hits the Kinshasa and heads to the back; with a smirk on his face. The post match was SO MUCH better than the bell to bell match. This had been hyped as a dream match, and people were expecting these two to have a 5***** classic. Instead, they had a very good match that will no doubt lead to an even better rematch next month. However, this did not come anywhere close to their classic match from WrestleKingdom in 2016. ***3/4
RAW Tag Team Championship: The Bar (c) vs Braun Strowman and ???
Sheamus and Cesaro enter on a Mardi Gras float, throwing beads into the crowd. Their real music then hits as the folks on the float awkwardly stand around. Braun Strowman out next. He roars on the float and the Mardis Gras characters run for their life. The Monster Among Men the THROWS THE MARDIS GRAS FLOAT OFF THE STAGE. Strowman grabs the microphone and informs all of us that his tag team partner is ONE OF US. He goes into the crowd and searches for someone capable enough to be his partner. After much searching, he finds a young man, no older than 10, and brings him to the ring. Strowman allows the young man to introduce himself. He said his name is Nicholas. Nicholas is Braun Strowman’s tag team partner.
I LOVE THIS.
Strowman tells Nicholas to stay on the apron and “I’ll do all the work.” Braun proceeds to destroy The Bar, until they take Braun off his feet. Out of desparation, Braun tags in Nicholas, who is easily the most over person on this whole show. Nicholas puts his fists up…then tags Braun back in. Strowman tosses Sheamus out of the ring, hits Cesaro with the powerslam and wins the match for his team. BRAUN STROWMAN AND NICHOLAS ARE THE NEW RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS. I’ve seen people bitching about this for days now and if you’re one of those people, lighten the fuck up. This was fun. A bad match, but fun. *
WWE Universal Heavyweight Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs Roman Reigns
Roman out first, to apathetic boos. Brock out next, looking fat and in need of a training camp. Heyman does the introduction for Lesnar as usual and is way too talented for this clodhopper, as usual. The announcers and crowd both sound absolutely drained. Match stars hot enough; with 3 German suplexes from Brock and 3 Superman punches from Roman. Brock hits Reigns with a belly-to-belly on the outside, and Brock drops him right on his face. He does it again, this time onto a table. The crowd is booing, chanting “CM Punk” and “This is Awful,” while Brock hits more boring suplexes. The gimmick is OLD and tired. Kinda like Brock, 5 minutes into a match. This match consists of about 15 minutes of F5’s, spears, Superman punches and suplexes. And it got boring, really, really fast. For a year, no one has kicked out of the F5 so that when Roman did it, it would make is really special. So OF COURSE, when Roman kicked out, not a soul in the crowd (or on commentary) cared one single bit. Brock put Roman through the German announce table to literally ZERO reaction. Can’t help but feel bad for these lads; especially Reigns. Lesnar got increasingly frustrated, and took off his gloves, all while the crowd chanted, “BORING.” Amazing. Lesnar the dropped several elbows onto Reigns’ head, and one of the shots splits Roman wide ass open.
As literally a BUCKET of blood pours out of Roman’s scalp, the crowd continues to boo. This match has become a blood bath, but no one cares. And it’s fucking tragic. Lesnar then hits a 6th F5 on Reigns and just wins. Yep, that year of no one kicking out of the F5 and Reigns and Lesnar beating literally every main event talent on RAW has led to Brock just keeping his title and walking to the back faster than you can say “Stipe Miochic.” I won’t mince words; I fucking hated this. I hated the match, the finish, the disgusting and irresponsible way in which Reigns was busted open and mostly, the fact that I know this isn’t over. I won’t beat the dead horse here about the booking of both of these men, but yes. This was the flattest finish in WrestleMania history. **1/4
So there you go folks! Some quick thoughts on the biggest show of the year! And HOLY SHIT this show was long. And yes, THAT was it’s biggest problem. I may not have loved the booking of this show, but it was an objectively good show. I don’t think that can be denied. But after sitting on a couch for SEVEN HOURS in a row, you start to feel a little fatigued and exhausted. Granted, all the Miller Lite didn’t help, but point remains.
WrestleMania 34 was a grand spectacle and a very good show. Sadly though, I feel the WWE needs to scale back this monstrosity. I don’t know if the solution is to split the event into two days, but something needs to be done.
There’s just too much wrestling to watch.
Please let me know what you all thought of this piece, and whether or not you would like me to discuss more modern wrestling in the future. It’s a little easier for me to rant on new shit rather than old shit so hey! You might get more writing out of me.
AND WHO DOESN’T WANT THAT!?!?
White hummer enthusiast, Tony Schiavone super-fan and the youngest WCW fan on the internet! Though my memories of watching WCW live are very few, my love and admiration for the company and brand run deep. I’ll be writing all sorts of interesting (hopefully) columns and opinion pieces about various WCW shows, many of which I may be watching for the first time. Proud to be on the website, where the big boys play!