WWE Cruiserweight Champion Neville def. Austin Aries (Kickoff Match)
I realize I expressed frustration with this match being bumped from the main card last week, but it might have been for the best. They received a ton of time as a result and had an great match, filled with suspenseful near-falls and cool counters. What made me happy was that the arena was mostly full by the time this match happened, and I raced to get to my seat to see it (I only missed the entrances). While it would have been cool to see Aries score his first taste of WWE gold in his WrestleMania debut, I'm all for him chasing the championship going forward and prolonging the feud between him and Neville, and this was a wise way of setting the tone for the remainder of the evening.
Mojo Rawley Won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (Kickoff Match)
Similar to every other Battle Royal we've had at WrestleMania in recent years, this was complete throwaway up until the end, and even then it was all about Rawley and Gronk having their moment (which was cool, I must admit). The bout barely had a build, so I can't say I was disappointed by how meaningless this match was. Big Show and Braun Strowman getting tossed early was certainly a shocker, but at least it allowed NXT's Killian Dain to shine for a while. I doubt WWE has any major plans for Rawley as a singles star going forward, but the crowd was more pleased by him winning than I would have thought.
Intercontinental Champion Dean Ambrose def. Baron Corbin (Kickoff Match)
Replacing the SmackDown women's match with this on the Kickoff was absolutely the right call, especially since the title didn't change hands. As a match, it was fine albeit forgettable, and neither guy had much of a memorable performance. They put together a pretty passable television match that you would see on any ordinary episode of SmackDown Live, but they never seemed to reach that next gear. I'm sure Corbin will win the title eventually, but I really thought the trigger should have been pulled on him becoming champion here.
The New Day Addressed the Audience
When it was announced two months ago that New Day would be hosting WrestleMania, I feared the worst in that they would be all over the show and they would grow tiresome fairly quickly. Ultimately, that was far from the case and they were relegated to only three segments. This was kept as short and as sweet as possible, so I have zero complains about the roles they played throughout the night.
AJ Styles def. Shane McMahon
There wasn't a more fitting match that could have kicked off WrestleMania than this, and the strange thing is that I don't think anyone saw that as a possibility. Yes, one can argue that Styles should have been headlining this show after the year he's had in WWE, but if he wasn't going to be in the main event, he might as well open the event. To his credit, Shane looked awesome here and their in-ring chemistry was off-the-charts. They didn't need to work a hardcore match in order to deliver greatness because the brief referee bump accomplished that. Styles picks up his first win at WrestleMania, and Shane looked like a hero in defeat. This was the match of the night for me, personally.
Kevin Owens def. Chris Jericho to Win the United States Championship
These two definitely benefited from going on second. The match would have been very good either way, but I don't know if the crowd engagement would have been the same if it took place in the latter half of the evening. There was plenty of back-and-forth action and I loved Owens barely getting his finger on the rope when Jericho covered him down the stretch. Having him win the U.S. title was a smart move given he needs the momentum boost more than Jericho at this point. Speaking of Jericho, that entrance of his was certainly a spectacle.
Raw Women's Champion Bayley def. Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks and Nia Jax in a Fatal 4-Way Elimination Match
As an elimination match, yes, this should have been allotted more time than it was, but that didn't bother me because we were already approaching the second hour by this point and there were still so many matches to go. It was enough time for them to have a good match where each elimination made sense. I would have preferred it coming down to Bayley and Banks, but Bayley finally conquering Charlotte on her own was worth it. I'm not her biggest fan, but Jax's elimination was well done and her quick presence in the match was handled nicely to let the more skilled wrestlers do their thing.
The Hardy Boyz def. The Club, Enzo Amore & Big Cass, and Cesaro & Sheamus in a Fatal 4-Way Ladder Match to Win the Raw Tag Team Championship
We all assumed there was a chance The Hardy Boyz could return at WrestleMania 33 in some capacity, but none of us knew for sure until their music hit (some fans, myself included, were convinced The New Day would enter themselves) and the entire arena exploded. Seriously, that might have been the most amazing moment I have ever witnessed live, and that's saying something. Matt Hardy may not have been outright "broken," but his mannerisms undoubtedly were, though I didn't find that out for myself until I got back to my hotel afterward and watched it back a good thousand times. This wasn't the greatest Ladder match in history, but everyone shined at one point or another and it was a ton of fun on the whole. The Hardyz capturing the tag titles was what needed to happen because the crowd would have been deflated if they didn't. Other than The Undertaker's send-off, nothing came close to being as monumental of a moment for me on this show than The Hardyz' epic comeback.
John Cena and Nikki Bella def. The Miz and Maryse
I can't believe there were those who were actually disappointed by this match, though they weren't the overwhelming majority. As brilliant as the build was to this match, you had to know it wasn't going to be a mat classic. In fact, it was what I expected it to be and then some. No, they didn't captivate the crowd with outstanding wrestling, but Miz controlling the crowd was what made this an above-average outing. Cena and Nikki overcoming their adversaries was logical and Cena proposing to Nikki was a tremendous feel-good moment, despite how a large portion of fans tried to sabotage it by chanting "No!" and "Get a prenup!" Jokingly, of course.
Seth Rollins def. Triple H in a Non-sanctioned Match
As a Non-sanctioned match, I thought this would be more brutal of a brawl than it was, but the beginning and ending of the match were engaging. At nearly a half hour in length, the match was a little longer than it should have been, but the storytelling was solid with HHH targeting that previously injured knee of Rollins multiple times and both men attempting to hit the Pedigree on the other. Rollins should be more of a rebellious badass than an underdog going forward because that's the character that fits him best. Stephanie McMahon getting her comeuppance for a change was refreshing and here's hoping it leads to her being off television for a few weeks at the very least.
Randy Orton def. Bray Wyatt to Win the WWE Championship
I'm sorry, but virtually everything about this sucked. Aesthetically, the visuals of Orton being "eaten by worms" in the ring and whatnot were sweet, but it made for a super dumb WrestleMania match that should not have been for the WWE Championship. At No Mercy in October, they had a relatively boring match, and this was no different. Orton winning the belt was predictable as well as the wrong decision because Wyatt should have been in possession for the title for a few more months. On the bright side, could we be seeing Orton vs. Styles for the prestigious prize sooner rather than later?
Brock Lesnar def. Goldberg to Win the Universal Championship
By and large, I have not at all agreed with how this rivalry has been booked up to this point, but interestingly, their Survivor Series squash match worked to their advantage here because they were able to play off those past spots. On paper, a five minute Universal Championship match sounds like a letdown, but this was perfect and what it should have been. Goldberg battled back and was on the verge of victory on various occasions, but in the end, it was Lesnar who reigned supreme with the title in tow. If this was indeed Goldberg's last match, he went out on a high note.
Naomi def. Alexa Bliss, Natalya, Carmella, Mickie James and Becky Lynch in a Six-Pack Challenge to Win the SmackDown Women's Championship
I honestly though this match would be bumped because of how WrestleMania was running overtime by this point, but I'm beyond glad it wasn't. Five minutes was all that was necessary to have a nice little outing with everyone getting their signature spots in and James Ellsworth even getting attacked by Lynch halfway through. It came down to either Naomi or Bliss winning and Naomi regaining the gold in her hometown of Orlando was well deserved considering she was never technically beaten for the belt in the first place.
Roman Reigns def. The Undertaker in a No Holds Barred Match
I will undoubtedly be kinder to this match because I was in attendance for it, but I appreciated what they were going for with Reigns struggling to put Undertaker away. That botched Tombstone spot killed the flow of the contest, but this would have been a dull match either way. The effort was there, though, and I just didn't expect a classic from them because of how lousy Undertaker has looked for months. Jim Ross was a welcome addition to the commentary team given his history with 'Taker and everything about this screamed "retirement." It was among the worst matches of the night, but it had to go on last with what happened afterward. Do I wish Undertaker had a better final match? Definitely, but years from now, people will remember his fantastic farewell and how he exited the arena, not the abysmal match he lost in. Reigns winning wasn't the issue (a beaten down Undertaker defeating Reigns would have been beyond stupid); it was simply his lack of heel turn, but we'll see how he is portrayed as well as received by fans in the months ahead.
Needless to say, my opinion of WrestleMania 33 will be biased and skewed because I was there live, but I truly believe this was one of the best installments in the last decade. Orton vs. Wyatt was total trash and the main event left a lot to be desired, but those are my only complaints coming out of the show. Undertaker's descent into the stage was a sight to see and it was a newsworthy night with so many titles changing hands and wrestlers seemingly retiring, not to mention the returns of The Hardyz and Jim Ross. The undercard of the event was exceptional and the good outweighed the bad in the night's marquee matches. This was my first WrestleMania and I'm contemplating never going again because I'm not sure what will top this as an experience for me. It was easily the greatest event I have ever attended and I look forward to getting a different perspective on it once I watch it back on the WWE Network.