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Monday, April 01, 2024

The Best and Worst WrestleMania Moments in the Last 10 Years (Part 2 of 2)

03/21/2024 04:14:31 PM

WrestleMania 39 (Photo credits: AP, WWE, Arab News)

I have been following professional wrestling (although not in a very religious way) since 2012. I have seen WrestleMania during Holy Tuesday of the said year; and it has been a yearly thing for me to watch the show, be it live, primetime replay, or on-demand. That said, it's fair to say I have watched WrestleMania for 12 consecutive years – and probably going on 13 by April 6-7 (or April 7-8 by the Philippine Standard Time).

But I don't wanna talk about the entirety of watching 12 WrestleManias. For sure, in the past decade-long of iterations alone, there was definitely a lot of highs and lows about The Showcase of Immortals, from celebrity cameos, the matches, the buildup surrounding these feuds, the audience itself, and even the production work that surrounds the stadium themselves and television.

It's hard to actually select only one positive and negative per year because a lot of them are worth arguing – err, discussing – about. And in a world where everyone has an opinion on practically everything, the sport and its massive fanbase – the internet wrestling community, as we call it – has become either a forum of timeless healthy exchanges, or a cesspool of self-centered arrogant yet brainless bastards.

I would rather digress and just say my handpicked takes on this article as we count more of the best and worst moments that happened at the last five annual editions of The Grand Daddy of Them All – The Super Bowl of Sports Entertainment that is WrestleMania. Shall we?

WrestleMania 35

Back at the METLIFE Stadium with an explosive start (a Universal Championship match to kick off the long show), a sudden squash by Samoa Joe, a Reigns-less main event for the first time in five years, and nothing but a simple yet immersive screen which people either liked it, hated it, or both. 

Best: KofiMania

This would've been the actual main event of the show. But I won't call it a shame, either, since the three women (Ronda Rousey, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair) earned their spot there anyway.

Kofi Kingston came at an unexpected time. It's like a post that suddenly went viral, and good job for WWE to capitalizing on the hype until it dies out later in 2019. That being said, KofiMania was running wild and it did capture moments similar to the Yes Movement during WrestleMania XXX. And it's rare to put up a story wherein one member of a group would become standout without having his colleagues enying the shit out of each other. 

Photo credits: WWE, That's So Tampa

With the KofiMania spirit, The New Day proved to be THE story (if not one of the stories) of true brotherhood in all of professional wrestling. They rose from the hardships and delivered a feel-good ending like no other.

Worst: Overtime!!! 

Would've picked the miscalculation-driven abrupt ending of the main event here, but with Michael Cole's voice already on his coarse state, WrestleMania 35 – no matter how good it was as a whole – has been dead-ass long. Seriously, would you dare to watch the same show even if it runs for like 5 ½ hours in one sitting? Man, that's like watching 2-3 full length movies. That's a fucking drag – or torture, if you will.

And this happens if you have an overstacked roster, a bunch of stories you want to offer to the audience, and a massive TV time per week (five hours of RAW and SmackDown, if you think about it). I guess, moving forward, it's a good call for WWE to have WrestleMania as a 2-night affair, and reverting it into a sole Sunday night-only event will remain a daunting task, especially now with TKO Group running the Stamford-based promotion/media company.

Photo credits: WWE, Philly Voice

No wonder why they have to cap everything off when Ronday Rousey fucked up her kickout attempt. An abrupt ending? Yes, but with a long ass show starting to feel like a drag? It's probably a good call for WWE to extend their annual Mania moving forward.

WrestleMania 36

The Mania that should've happened at Raymond James Stadium and have both Rhea Ripley and Drew McIntyre have their crowning glory moments. But alas, the pandemic has disrupted everything in the world. The Show of Shows managed to push through, though, by means of canning every single match and in closed quarters of WWE Performance Center in Orlando.

And before I forgot, this was actually the start of a new era wherein WrestleMania became a Saturday and Sunday night affair for pro wrestling/sports entertainment fans.

Best: "This is cinema!"

With WrestleMania 36 being taped, we have to cut some slack for producing canned matches. Hey, performing in front of 0 audience and a limited number of crew isn't easy – more so if they need to do some breaks and retakes. You can more blame it on the pandemic rather than any of the wrestling companies (be it small-time or already on mainstream) to have lackluster TV shows and major PPV events.

And of all the recorded parts of Mania 36, the cinematic matches were the two segments that strived the most for WWE during the said time. Hey, with all the limitations and challenges on what the producers can do for a couple of weeks' notice? That ain't a walk in the park to execute, yo. Be it a Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena Firefly Funhouse contest or a Boneyard Match between AJ Styles and The Undertaker, they have to give it all despite having no crowd to feed off their energy and instead would rely to their TV crew for countless hours of putting them on tape.  

Photo credits: WWE, TalkSport

Sure, they look ridiculous from the first look, but cinematic matches were a rare special thing of beauty about wrestling. Besides, if WWE suck in doing live stuff as a whole, taking their clips in post-production proved its clear-cut opposite.

Worst: The Universal Titanic Clash, or the lack (of buildup) thereof

You know, I would've thought of putting Drew McIntyre's win on this spot here, because it sucks that he won the top prize from The Beast Incarnate at the very unfortunate time that is March/April 2020. But let's be emphatic for a second here and realize that nobody wants a crowd-less WrestleMania either. So let's digress and focus on one ridiculously-booked match that is for the Universal Championship there. Oh, wait...

Need we say enough here? They're like just filling in because Roman Reigns have to back out from performing at Mania 36 even if health-wise he's already past remission. Can't blame The Big Dog, but instead, they should've felt the match never happened. Or maybe they should've just set this one during their later premium live events that year. At least, just to tell the sotry on how can Goldberg put over the Monster Among Men.

Photo credits: WWE, Bleeding Cool

Hell, I would even dare to say Goldberg should've not won the title from Bray Wyatt the event prior. Hello, did a Universal title reign made sense to him? In reality, he's just another poster strongman but with a charm that diminished since his rivalry with Brock Lesnar, and a title reign that's just as atrocious as its politicking.

WrestleMania 37

Now they're back to live crowds, and back to where the 36th Annual WrestleMania should be taking place in the first place. But of course, everything was still a bit limited with paper-cut crowds filling in some seats of the actual audience for social distancing and TV aesthetic purposes.

Best: The Re-emergence of Women's Wrestling 

After three women main eventing WrestleMania 35 two years prior, 2021 saw more of the emergence of women wrestling. I mean, look at Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair headlining night 1 of Mania 37 for te RAW Women's Championship. Then, there's also the Asuka vs Rhea Ripley for the SmackDown Women's Championship that became the penultimate match on the card prior to Reigns vs Edge vs Bryan which main evented Night 2.

Photo credits: WWE, WrestleTalk

And it was like the changing of the guard for WWE Women's Division as The Knoxville-based EST of WWE has claimed the red-colored women's belt; while the Aussie superstar, who once held the NXT and NXT UK Women's Championships, defeated the Empress of Tomorrow to win the Blue one. Safe to say that the new breed of superstars, that emerged from the promotion's own school of wrestling called NXT, has finally arrived in their respective crowning glories that time. 

Worst: #LOLOrtonWins

“It's now, 0-2. #LOLOrtonWins,” was something I should've tweet out of my displeasure when I was watching WrestleMania live on the road during that one Monday morning. And don't try to tell me that this was a different Bray Wyatt so it shouldn't count. LOL, fuck that logic.

Yeah, here we go again. As much as I am a fan of Randy Orton, come on WWE, give The Fiend his much-needed win here (Oh, wait, too bad, Bray already passed awayin August 2023!). It was so ridiculous on the way how the match ended to the extent that fellow superstars in wrestling have criticized WWE in how he was booked to a degree. 

Photo credits: WWE, Wrestling Headlines

Like really? After building him as this maniacal figure, you'll book him a champion only yo lose to Goldberg in early 2020? Then sure we can accept how he lost the title to Roman Reigns later that year; but in Day 2 of 'Mania of 2021, you made him lose again to the same guy who beat him in the same state four years ago?


WrestleMania 38

Back at Cowboys, err, AT&T Stadium after six years. But this time, it was a weekend-long extravaganza with a much better star-shaped stage.

Best: Battle of the Jackasses

You can argue about how the Bunny Destroyer by that Latino Grammy awarded music superstar has totally changed the perspective of having celebrities perform at WrestleMania; like every other personality can bump like a typical wrestler and flaunt some moves like the actors they were. But... a Jackass cameo at WrestleMania in the name of Johnny Knoxville, along with his crew from that fanous TV show, going up against the Conspirator that is Sami Zayn? 

Photo credits: WWE, WhatCulture

That was the dreamy kind of fun turned into reality in 2022. Like have you see an old school slasptick-driven cartoon-inspired wrestling show turned into live adaptation that is NOT the typical WWE? With some ridiculous props like a gigantic mouse trap? Nope? Not yet? Oh, there goes your answer now.

Worst: No, Old Man, You Don't Have It Anymore!

We simply don't need this at all. It should've never happened at all. That was way damn unnecessary. In a weekend that had the adjective of 'stupendous,' this match doesn't count as one. 

Oh, wait, simply because Austin Theory was Vince's 'prodigal son' and he can't accept the defeat on his behalf so much that the egomaniac chairman decided to put the matters of the law into his hands by taking a bait from the two-time Punter of the Year and teach him some lesson? Sure, guys, sure; that's aside from the fact that even in his mid-70s, anyone like VKM can still wrestle. Although, yeah, on a logical storytelling sense, it seems like this was Pat's fault at will.

Photo credits: WWE, Yahoo! 

But fuck it. It is still the worst thing that happened during the year. Perhaps, it was the only way for him to cross paths with Texas's own Rattlesnake, Stone Cold Steve Austin one last time. 

At the place where each Mania had an impromptu match, this one's more disappointing than The Rock's 6-second record match versus Erick Rowan.

WrestleMania 39

WrestleMania Goes Hollywood once again, after 18 years. And this time, they have a bigger venue in a SoFi Stadium with a stage design that's totally revved up compared to the ones they had done at then-Staples Center (their new arena name really sucks, by the way). Add to that is the parody of trailers which I could've select as the best thing that happened at last year's WrestleMania, but I believe there's one match that deserves its distinction there, and we're not talking about another first-time ever just for the feat's sake.

Best: Tagging the Main Event

We have seen a tag team match become the top match of a WrestleMania event in the past. And with the flagship event became a two-night extravaganza? It's not impossible to see one. All it takes is a compelling story that is worth the wait.

And turns out, it had something to do with the biggest Saga of WWE saga today that is The Bloodline. An outsider of the Samoan Family shoe-horned his way to the clam, only to falter at the end when the test basically involved him and his then-estranged best friend. The double-cross at the Rumble only ignited the already sparking rivalry at works; and it boiled down into an affair between the American-Polynesian and Canadian brothers-at-arms.

Photo credits: WWE, The Sporting News

Does it look convincing match instead of having Sami vs Roman 2 at WrestleMania? Yup, by all means, and by miles in distance. Some people over the internet wanted that? Too bad for them. Sami was already in the main event picture, anyway, so might as well raise hell into the tag team division. 

Besides, how impressive to see another guy today being a multiple-time (and consecutively) headliner for WrestleMania like Kevin Owens?

Feels to me like this was the actual main event of Mania 39 now.

Worst: Un-finishing the story

It was so damn compelling, too; rightfully deserve their spot at the summit of WrestleMania Sunday show. It even had the feel of the then-Once In A Lifetime match between The Rock and John Cena in 2012 (when they didn't have the rematch in 2013 yet).

Until the unexpected plot twist came along that is Solo Sikoa. Sadly, for most of us, Cody failed to finish his story last year.

This looks like a VKM booking back then, even if Triple H explained himself during the press conference that this is not the end of the story for Cody Rhodes. Sure, WWE needs long-term storytelling and they're driving away by means of delaying gratification per se; and sure, they need to put a screeching halt because of Cody's questionable win at the Royal Rumble of '23.

Photo credits: WWE, Cageside Seats

Here's one problem, though: the stories in wrestling shows are moving at a constantly fast pace nowadays. Now, you have CM Punk (although he's injured as we speak), The Rock (Roman's original opponent for Mania 39 only but hampered with schedule problems), and others like the current World Heavyweight Champion Seth Freakin' Rollins, Drew McIntyre, the rest of the Bloodline, Judgment Day, and others trying to tangle themselves into the mix. 

Not to mention, the annals of championship reign by The Tribal Chief: The numbers are still moving up; his name is closely moving upwards to the list of all-time greats. And he's running out of challengers poised enough to take the title away from him.

That's probably a long story to debate. 

Author: slickmaster | © 2024 The SlickMaster's Files

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