A Shocking Return, and a Poignant Farewell

AS I SEE IT: A Shocking Return, and a Poignant Farewell
Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets

Wrestlemania 33 is history.

Roman Reigns got booed…but not as badly as some feared he might.

We had a major tag team return that was the worst kept secret in wrestling history.

We had an incredibly poignant farewell.

And yes, we had a marriage proposal that was the second worst kept secret in history…or at least of the last couple years.

That…was the 7 hour marathon called Wrestlemania, including the pre-show (with the Austin Aries-Neville Cruiserweight title match unforgivably put on the pre-show, the pre-show that only aired on social media and the WWE Network; plus the Dean Ambrose– Baron Corbin Intercontinental Title match shifted to the USA Network pre-show without any warning to fans waiting for it on the PPV.

WWE wonders why the Cruiserweight Division hasn’t gotten over, despite the reception for the WWE Cruiserweight Classic. Well, when you stick 205 Live at the end of a Smackdown airing…when you let Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn get their hands all over it, and turn it into the same product as the rest of RAW, rather than something different that might encourage people to tune in…and when you shift what might have been the best pure wrestling match of the entire Wrestlemania 33 event to a too short match…despite there being time for it to go longer on the social media-only pre-show.

Now… to the shocking return….that both was and wasn’t shocking.

It was pretty well known that the Hardys were headed to WWE, with the only question being when. But when The New Day came out, and Big E said we have an announcement…that this this ladder match has now become a fatal four way. Xavier Woods then said one more team will be involved. Kofi Kingston wonders who this fourth team could possibly be. Camping World Stadium began to roar. Then, the old school WWE Hardys entrance music hit, and the Stadium went batshit.

The Hardys snuck in a very few of the Broken gimmick, but pretty much did old school Hardys in the ring. (WWE had been making “Broken”, “Wonderful” and “Delete” references on social media all weekend, so they weren’t entirely clueless). But the crowd wasn’t having any Anthem inspired restrictions, and chanted all the Broken catchphrases back at the Hardys, with one very audible “Brother Nero” chant at Jeff Hardy. The production crew seemed to consciously avoid too many close-up shot of Matt Hardy, probably because DISH Network was airing Wrestlemania…the same DISH who yanked the Ring of Honor PPV with almost no notice because of Anthem/Impact Wrestling legal threats.

So there is no way of knowing what kind of character will come out tonight. It’s a pretty safe bet that the always-crazy post-Wrestlemania RAW crowd will be amped up and will push the Hardys to at least present some of the Broken character…or if WWE tiptoes around it…will do it for them.

Then , there was the John Cena/Nikki Bella vs. Miz/Maryse mixed tag team match. Following the Hardys title win, it did what it was designed to do…and set up the marriage proposal that (I assume) will result in a Summerslam “marriage ceremony”. Even with as smarky a crowd as Wrestlemania audiences can be. the whole proposal deal actually seemed to get a good reaction. The whole set up of the Miz-Maryse “Lost episodes” of Total Bellas being absolutely hilarious and poking fun at John Cena’s real(?) life foibles..certainly helped.

Then, there was the main event. It was pretty well no secret that this was The Undertaker’s swan song. Even the pre-show production segments seemed geared toward making that clear in an indirect way.

Amazingly, while Reigns was booed…it wasn’t as clear as a lot of people feared would happen. Maybe it was that it was the finale of a 7 hour marathon, and a really long weekend for the fans live in Orlando. But the crowd received the match, which kept Undertaker strong, but ultimately losing out to Reigns, after everything but the kitchen sink being thrown in with a brawl between the two, and Undertaker hitting finish after finish, but not being able to put down Reigns.

Then, the post-show. That was a production and storytelling masterpiece. Even with the late hour, the camera still lingered long..as they should have. Undertaker slowly, dramatically took off his gloves and laid them in the ring…then removed his jacket…then removed his hat…and left the ring, presumably for the last time. If you haven’t seen this farewell…make time to watch it today somewhere.

It’s a good example of why storytelling matters in wrestling, both in the match and in the farewell, which was almost more important than the match. It gave a proper sendoff to WWE’s most identifiable name of the last 25 years.

Until next time…

Bob Magee