Watry’s Live In Person WWE WrestleMania 33 Review
Hi, I’m Justin Watry. You may remember me from such classic columns as March 2012’s “WWE WrestleMania 28: Sheamus Should Defeat Daniel Bryan in Less Than a Minute” and October 2015’s “WWE NXT: Bobby Roode, You’re Next.”
I was in Orlando, Florida this past weekend and checked off a bucket list item of attending WWE WrestleMania. Here are all my ramblings…
WrestleMania 33 Weekend
Flown Out Of Milwaukee On Friday – I had never been on an airplane before. I took road trips and vacation to various states. Missouri, Colorado, Texas, Illinois – all were via a car or bus. To many, taking a plane is a fairly routine thing. Well, not me. It was a whole new world, and honestly, it wasn’t too bad. Quick two hour flight from Milwaukee to Orlando. Easy and painless. Lots of WWE fans were onboard based on the clothing, and it was easy to see that WrestleMania fever was in the air. Even all the way in Wisconsin.
Arrival – One bus ride later (for two bucks) and a hotel resort check in later, it was time to get some food, relax by the pool, and drink some booze. Pictures were up on my Twitter account (@JustinWatry) all weekend. The front desk girl immediately knew we were there for WWE, despite us not having on any wrestling clothes. She then busted out a “Let’s get ready to rumble!” to make us feel good…I think. I have no clue. Either way, there were WWE fans everything. Seriously, the town truly does get taken over. They aren’t lying. Signs, posters, whatever. Most were NOT from Orlando. Like my buddy and I.
Saturday – More of the same. We did some exploring and knew of all the different signings and/or autograph sessions, but we passed on all of it. We were there for WrestleMania, and nothing else. Honestly, I am not a big autograph guy anyways. A handshake or picture when meeting a celebrity is more than enough. Unless huge money is involved, it is just a name on a piece of paper. Axxess? Eh, kinda pricey and seems more like a hassle than fun. Maybe down the road I will change my tune but again, this was all about attending the grand spectacle on Sunday. Definitely could feel the excitement though from all the tourists in town from all over the world. Our resort had mini-golf, a nice basketball court, three pools, hot tub, and the whole fixings. We were shooting hoops on Saturday with two guys. After some quick hellos and introduction, my buddy blurted out “We are here for Mania!” One of the guys immediately jumps and says “I KNEW IT!” They were from Atlanta. Quite funny. I guess we stood out like sore thumbs or something…two Wisconsin goons in Orlando.
Sunday – One bus ride (two bucks) from the resort to the nearby street later, and we are within walking distance. Now it is time to get really pumped! There was the giant stadium, and the streets were just filled with fans. We stooped at a local fast food place for water (hot 90 degrees all weekend) and a quite bite to eat, and well, it was a mess. No straws left. Soda was running out of the machine. No cup holders or tops left. People waiting up to an hour (us included) for their order. In the sweltering heat. I think we were all frustrated with the scene, but you know what? I didn’t care. We talked to Canadian fans, people from New York, Florida, etc. All with different shirts on supporting different stars. Very cool to see all the diversity. If I had to guess, I’d say “Delete” chants and talk was the big discussion of the weekend. Hardy Boys would certainly deliver on the speculation…
Custom Made Outfit – If I may brag for a second, my WWE outfit received a ton of compliments. On the street, in line, at the stadium, people yelling from their cars, etc. Yeah, I was sweating all day – who cares? Well worth it. Here is a picture:
— Justin Watry (@JustinWatry) April 4, 2017
If you saw the idiot with that on as the sun was shining down on Orlando, it was me!
Showtime – You can see pictures of my view and other BS on my Twitter account (@JustinWatry). Let’s just say it was a sight to be seen. Amazing just walking into the stadium. So big and beautiful. The set was awe inspiring, as was the fact that I made. Me! I told myself I would be there, and I did. I may write more about my ‘journey’ and why it meant so much later on in the week. Bucket list item crossed off. So cool to be there live in person. To kill time, there were fans in the lower levels having “matches” with a referee as well. Got a lot of attention. We were restless for ANY kind of wrestling at that point.
Now to the show…
Cruiserweight Championship – Exactly what I suspected would begin WrestleMania 33. Austin Aries was a big fan favorite, and that was nice to hear/see. Obviously, I was rooting for him to win (Wisconsin ties). However, after his false finish, it was clear this night belonged to Neville, and I was fine with that. As much as others may deserve a Mania Moment, Neville does too. He often gets overlooked. Props to WWE for giving him the spotlight here. He’s earned it.
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal – Well, The Gronk was shown on the big screen before the match began. Guess that telegraphed what was going to happen here. Truthfully, I couldn’t even tell who all walked down the ramp. Only some got full entrances. Not like it mattered I guess. Fans wanted Sami Zayn to win from the beginning. Braun Strowman being eliminated got a stunned crowd response (knew not to pick him!) who all had him pegged as a potential victor. Once we got down to Mojo Rawley and crew, it was clear what was happening. Honestly, I have never been a big fan nor cared about him at all. Still, good for him. Cool SportsCenter moment with The Gronk and congrats to Mojo Rawley on the win. I didn’t care for it, but the live crowd did, and WWE played it off perfectly.
IC Championship – Hm, kinda surprised this didn’t make the main card. Not like it actually mattered. I saw all the matches, no different to me really. Most in out section went wild for Dean Ambrose but assumed Baron Corbin would win. Me too. Shockingly enough, the champ retained. Didn’t see that outcome coming at all. It felt like one of the easier WM bouts to predict. My buddy commented that he was surprised by how much people loved Ambrose. I wasn’t surprised at all. He still has his diehard supporters, no doubt.
No Phone – At this point, I turned my phone off and put it in my pocket. Not only to save the battery because we would need it for after the show but also because I knew I would I do that. I told myself I was going to WrestleMania, and I would NOT be that guy who was just on his phone the entire time. Tweeting, texting, videos, pictures, etc. I was there live and ‘in the moment’ with 75,000 fellow wrestling fans. That experience will live with me forever. No amount of videos or pictures will be able to capture the joys of being there live.
The New Day – No appearance from The Rock. No Hulk Hogan. Huh. I put my faith into The New Day hosting WrestleMania 33, and outside of their Hardy Boys announcement, the trio really didn’t do anything. Don’t care for the video game stuff, so yeah, this was a letdown. The New Day had the fans in the palm of their hands. In the grand scheme of things though, it was nothing. Similar to the live musical performance. Girls seemed to like the songs, getting up and dancing. I guess that was the best part of the concert portion.
Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles – Wait a minute, Shane versus AJ was good? It was entertaining? Maybe even a GREAT opener? No! No way. I’ve been told for weeks this was going to be terrible and an embarrassment. No way could all these fans be…wrong? Nah. Surely, SOMEBODY out there had faith in these two pay-per-view masters on the big stage. Amazing how these things usually end up. Sarcasm aside, this was phenomenal. AJ got the clean win as expected, Shane bumped around, and the fans loved it. Props to both men. AJ for delivering with a different kind of opponent and Shane for shutting up his critics (again).
U.S. Title Match – A fan sitting next to use was from Canada and got very excited to see Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho. So excited he got up for food…and didn’t come back until the next match. Interesting timing there buddy. Good match between these two. Jericho was beloved, but like most of the comments in our section, we knew he was losing and likely taking time off soon. Loved the finger rope break (like the framed picture from months back!). Correct decision. Owens, AGAIN, has a title belt in his WWE/NXT career.
RAW Womens Championship – Loved the entrances. Added to the drama and presentation. Big time feel. Happy Bayley was able to get this moment with the title belt in Orlando. No surprise Nia Jax was gone in a few minutes. Said it would happen, and it did. What did catch me off guard was the rest of the match. Flat elimination for Sasha Banks. We saw the turnbuckle get exposed but not 100% gone. Thus, the pinfall was blah. Same with Bayley getting the victory with an elbow. Has she ever won with that? No heel turn teases from Sasha either. Felt weird, like none of the actual story line was involved.
Bluelight – It probably didn’t help that our section was blinded by a bluelight from the staging above the ring. Trust me folks, we were chanting for the company to turn off the light or something. Eventually, it was shut off by wow, it was terrible for awhile there.
WWE Hall of Fame spot – All about Kurt Angle here. The dude cleaned up his life and worked his way back into the good graces of WWE. In ring or not, this was deserved and a nice Mania Moment. The music and “You Suck!” chants are now for respect. Don’t let the words fool you; he was massively cheered from fans.
RAW Tag Team Title Ladder match – Not going to lie. I do not remember anything about the actual bout. Can’t recall much or even any of the spots outside of the final sequence. No disrespect to the other tag teams here, but this was all about the Hardy Boyz returning. Freakin POP OF THE NIGHT! I mean, the tease that it would New Day entering was genius. When it revealed that The Hardyz were back, my goodness! The place went nuts. Maybe the loudest reaction I’ve ever heard at a WWE (sporting) event in my entire life. Make no mistake, we all knew about the rumors, and yes, the late ladder match stipulation may have given away the surprise, but none of that mattered. A legitimate Mania Moment and huge boost to the event. Welcome back guys.
John Cena/Nikki Bella vs. The Miz/Maryse – Can you believe The Miz got some love from the smarky smark crowd at WM? Awesome. I am glad he did because the guy should. Had a very good 2016 and needed this spot up against John Cena. Yeah, I’d have preferred he win and boast about the victory for months on end…but that was not the goal here. It was for some mainstream buzz and to get Cena and Nikki together. Happily ever after and all that jazz. Despite being mostly jaded and diehard fans, this was all well received and pretty cool. Good for them. Cena handled it perfectly and while obviously scripted for weeks, the entire scene came off beautifully. I am very intrigued by what The Miz does next.
Triple H vs. Seth Rollins – Even though my view kinda cut off most of the entrance ramp, I have to give credit to WWE for the cool introductions. Rollins and HHH. Two thumbs up. As for the bout? Not going to lie. It was long and dragged at times. Yeah, that was the story and made logical sense…but this is when the event started to hit that moment where fatigue sets in. Luckily, I did not hate this match like others. It just felt a tad lengthy in the middle. Good ending sequence, believable near falls for both men, and a loud reaction for the satisfying Stephanie McMahon table bump. THAT is why being a heel on television weekly gets a payoff folks. Fans went wild for that moment. Rollins gets the win, as he should.
WWE Championship – Slippery slope for WWE here. When they do the status quo, fans rip them. When they think outside the box, fans rip them. Clearly, I am talking about the Bray Wyatt special effects to go after Randy Orton in the middle of the match. I found it to be creepy and not add a whole lot to the bout. However, haven’t complaints been that WWE should be more like Lucha Underground or think outside the box once in awhile? I didn’t like it, but hey, they tried something new. We’ll see if it sticks around. About the match and title change. I expected a clean win for Randy Orton, but ugh, I can’t recall much after the opening bell. Amazing entrances to be there live though. Wyatt, specifically, came off like a STAR with the crowd lights.
Universal Championship – Exactly as it should have went. These two guys are not going to give you a William Regal/Dean Malenko technical showdown. They just aren’t. Fans need to stop expecting that or anything even closely resembling it. They are two power houses who draw to the casuals and diehards unlike 95% of the roster. Brock Lesnar FINALLY defeats Bill Goldberg clean after a bunch of suplexes and an F-5. Just one f-5 – good! Looks strong that way. I loved it, as did the audience in Orlando.
Smackdown Womens Championship – What a mess. A total mess. Sorry. Were the rules ever officially known? I certainly had zero clue beforehand. I like all the competitors and appreciate this NOT getting cut due to time, but yikes! Severely disappointed. If Wyatt/Orton was any worse, it would be the dud of the night. Rather, the Smackdown Womens Title match got that distinction. Shame too because the division has been rather good for the past eight months or so. Naomi wins back the title she never lost in Orlando of all places. Cool comeback story…yet it is another title switch. At some point, the belt will have to stay put.
Jim Ross – Nice to see good ol’ JR back at WrestleMania. Always assumed he would be back. Like I repeat a lot, guys ALWAYS come back. Never think there is heat big enough to forever keep someone away. If the time/money is right, they will return. Jim Ross is back in the WWE. Whether from a request by The Undertaker or someone else, it was very fitting for him to call the main event.
Roman Reigns vs. The Undertaker – My buddy later told me this was his match of the night. I don’t know if I would go that far, but it certainly had the most fan interest, most intrigue, most history, and ultimately, most memorable conclusion. I argued in various columns during the build up that THIS was the true main event of WrestleMania 33. I am not stunned in the least it went on last. Reigns deserves this, WWE made the right call…and in the end, The Undertaker earned to go out in the main event slot. Of WrestleMania, a show he is synonymous with.
I picked Reigns to win clean, and while many in the stadium were in awe of that decision, you had to know it was coming. All the signs were there, and when you add in the reports of Taker possibly being done, yeah. What did you think was going to happen? Perhaps it was the denial stage when grieving? I don’t know. What I do know is it sure looked like a farewell from The Undertaker. If that is NOT a goodbye, I would love to know how he’d top it when retirement really happened.
For now and in the moment, everybody reacted as if he was done. Sad and emotion but understandable at the same time. Sucks that it is finally a reality after years of rumors but super grateful that this was the Mania I attended live. To be there for his final match ever, wow. Respect all around for WWE, Reigns, and Taker.
Cold moment to end the hot day.
Review: I will write more about my experience on another website in the coming days. To summarize though, this was everything you’d expect from a first time WM attendee and a B+ show. So overwhelming. Like a kid in a candy story. Well worth it.
— Justin Watry (@JustinWatry) April 2, 2017
My March 2017 reader feedback column will be finished later this week!
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