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The Smark Henry Pay-Per-Review: WrestleMania 33


Let's begin this year's biggest review with quite possibly the biggest statement: this is how a modern WrestleMania should be done.

Something along the lines of what we saw in all seven hours of this year's show, at least. As you all know by now, WrestleMania has quietly (but noticeably) been rebranded as the big wrestling event intended to be enjoyed mostly by casual pro wrestling fans. Most diehards need little convincing to even tune in, because we've been preconditioned to expect big things poppin' at the Grandaddy of Them All Ultimate Thrill Ride. For casuals, whether they grew out of it sometime over the years they've existed or they've accompanied a special someone in their lives who loves wrestling, only the name WrestleMania exists as a buzzword, next to other mainstream wrestling proper nouns such as Hulk Hogan, the Rock, John Cena, and the Undertaker.

So it should follow, then, that the card being stacked with built-for-casuals names like Brock Lesnar, Goldberg, Shane McMahon, and the Undertaker must mean that WrestleMania will be, once again, another outing that favors the oldies over those who come to work every Monday and Tuesday, and all the other days where there are live events. That's what conventional wisdom would tell the hardcore wrestling fan, who either understands or doesn't understand that the biggest event in the wrestling year must be, at the end of the day, inclusive.

And I've never been glad to be more wrong.

At the very least, this year's WrestleMania was finally an exercise on how to use part-timers (and even the scarcest of the part-timers) properly, and most importantly, recognizing people and their efforts. Where last year's results were gratuitous in not giving the right rub to people (remember Lesnar/Ambrose, Styles/Jericho, and the Rock/Wyatt Family?), this year the WWE finally learned that it's not enough to sign big names on board, but it's equally important that fanservice be given as well. While there was a blemish in Randy Orton abruptly defeating Bray Wyatt and, arguably, in Roman Reigns sending Undertaker into retirement, moments like Brock Lesnar vanquishing the shallow Goldberg, the Hardys returning home and surprising everyone, AJ Styles defeating Shane McMahon in a more-than-passable match, just to name a few, were enough to get people to enjoy it.


To be fair, a modern WrestleMania with today's stacked WWE roster would never be a perfect outing, especially with the company's tendency to get everyone in on the fun (and rightfully so). This results in both an ability and inability to truly edit the action we'll be getting; it's to be expected that some matches really won't get the time they deserve, and if anything, their branding of this event as the Ultimate Thrill Ride is most accurate than any other tagline they've given the franchise. 

At this point, we truly have to handicap WrestleMania in this age. In a world where the show has become a gargantuan monster of the WWE's own design, you take what's given and enjoy it for as much as you can, for as long as you can stand seven hours of all this oversaturated wrestling madness. This is not a perfect show by any means; it's simply enjoyable, and I don't know about you, but I'll take enjoyable today. It's always up to the WWE to find the best way to keep fans happy through all the hours they're going to make us sit through, and as long as they keep doing that, as long as we're looking too, there's always some joy to be found somewhere. B+


Match of the Night


I'm going to eat my words and have to give this to Shane McMahon vs. AJ Styles. I don't know who to thank for getting Shane to step his game up, but he stepped his game up, especially in a match where there was nothing to jump off of or fall from. He understood his limitations, the match's limitations, and simply transcended them. Granted, he ran through a list of his favorite wrestling moves to do, but that's a whole lot better than just being inept at wrestling because he's not a wrestler.



But the low-key match of the night, which is a lot easier to forget because it went on first, was Neville vs. Austin Aries for the Cruiserweight Championship. Those two brought it and literally put their bodies on the line just so people could always remember what the cruiserweights brought to WrestleMania, even if it was the very first match on the card. (Also, it's really time to get over the "kickoff" mentality, regardless of how the WWE chooses to promote and market the pre-show. At WrestleMania, everyone's wrestling, so the kickoff is still part of the show.)



Photo from WWE
*****

Romeo Moran (@roiswaris the Editor in Chief of Smark Henry and one of the three hosts of the Smark Gilas-Pilipinas Podcast. He gets by in this hard knock life through working in publishing. Smark Henry was his and Stan Sy's original vision of a watering hole for local wrestling fans. He roots for the undersized guys who hit hard, but really hates Davey Richards with his entire soul.

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