This past weekend was Wrestlemania weekend. If you’re a professional wrestling fan, it’s our SuperBowl. And just like the SuperBowl, the show is either off-the-walls amazing or a complete waste of your time. Since I spent much of the weekend watching wrestling, I’m going to blog about it today. If you don’t like pro-wrestling and/or are unfamiliar with the wrestlers, you should probably stop reading now.
Saturday had the show I was really looking forward to, NXT TAKEOVER: ORLANDO. The wrestlers of NXT have consistently stolen the show out from under “main event” weekend shows like SummerSlam and Wrestlemania, and I expected Saturday’s offering to be no different. Except it was. The matches were gold-standard, with great storytelling and athletic prowess that made my jaw drop, but with the exception of the championship bout, the endings were either lackluster or anticlimactic. Did Sanity really need to score another win? Why was #DIY eliminated from that off-the-walls amazing tag match first? Even Asuka’s win came seemingly out of nowhere, despite the story seed it planted. The wrestling and wrestlers of NXT are without compare, but the endings to many of the matches left me unsatisfied.
I did not have high expectations for Wrestlemania, despite my interest in a few of its matches. Overall it was a decent show, with some amazing highs, frustrating lows, and pleasant surprises. Neville vs Austin Aries for the Cruiserweight title was my match of the night, but it was placed on the kickoff show. I was really excited for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, but it was also on the kickoff show and its finish made me want to tear my hair out. The tag team ladder match was pure entertainment, and the return of the Hardy Boyz was thrilling despite their not being “Broken” any more (or yet). The womens’ title matches were both very satisfying, which is always nice. Goldberg vs Brock Lesnar was surprisingly entertaining, and just as long as it needed to be. I was sad/frustrated that Reigns beat The Undertaker, but not surprised. I’m not going to waste my breath on what I think about that guy being shoved down my throat every time I watch wrestling.
But I want to take a moment to talk about The Undertaker’s farewell. I watched his Survivor Series debut when I was a boy, and he lit my imagination on fire. I watched him throughout the Attitude Era and these last few years when his Wrestlemania matches were considered main events of their own. The dude portrayed a perhaps-undead lord of darkness for nearly thirty years (though I was not a fan of his brief biker gimmick) and he made it work. His name became synonymous with quality storytelling, main event caliber, and pure respect from his peers. To watch him lay down his ring gear and take a silent moment to say goodbye made me misty-eyed. The Undertaker was a once-in-a-lifetime performer, and I’m glad I got to sit back and enjoy his work. Thank you, ‘Taker. There may never be another one like you.