The match came at the end of seven hours of wrestling, but it was still pretty good. The crowd was into it. Then it ended, and everything went to hell.
The WrestleMania main event ended with Becky Lynch winning both the Raw and SmackDown women’s titles, after months of buildup. Ronda Rousey took her first pinfall loss in WWE. It could’ve been a great moment—except for the fact that the pin came out of nowhere and Rousey’s shoulders were up.
I don’t think it matters whether this was scripted or somehow a mistake. It ended with that sequence either way. Even the setup was weird! Pins rarely come out of nowhere anymore, especially at WrestleMania. Every match has near-falls and wrestlers kicking out of finishing moves that had previously been inescapable and deadly. And then in the main event, when a tired crowd surely just wanted to chant 1-2-3 along with Becky Lynch getting the win and get the hell home, they pulled out a reversal pinfall.
Sure, a disputed pinfall could (and probably will) lead to another Rousey/Lynch match at some future pay-per-view. But ending WrestleMania with a pinfall in which the loser’s shoulders weren’t even down was a letdown.
Which means that the day after WrestleMania feels...weird. Despite pretty much every major result leaving the fans happy—Seth Rollins beat Brock Lesnar for the WWE universal title in a short match that opened the main card, Kofi Kingston beat Daniel Bryan for the WWE world title in the best match of the night—the show underwhelmed. It was just so long, with 16 matches in all. Seven-plus hours of wrestling—seven-plus hours of pretty much anything—is too much.
There were some highlights scattered throughout, of course. Kingston’s title win against Bryan was thoroughly entertaining. The show opened with a promo package that involved Seth Rollins saying the words, “Shakespeare once said,” which was nice, and then Rollins opened the show by beating Lesnar in a match that was short but plenty fun, which was also nice. Despite the segment being a little long, it was fun to see John Cena make a cameo as his old “Dr. of Thuganomics” character and beat up Elias. The men’s four-way tag match had a bunch of clever spots. The women’s four-way tag match had a good ending and, uh, the only tag team that’s actually a real tag team won it. George Mizanin, the Miz’s father, got in the ring briefly for a funny spot with Shane McMahon. Triple H pulled out Batista’s nose ring with a pair of pliers and Shawn Michaels was entertaining on commentary for that match. Michael Cole lost his voice so much by the end he almost sounded like Joey Styles. Despite my misgivings about putting non-wrestlers over wrestlers, even the Colin Jost/Michael Che bit with Braun Strowman was pretty funny!
That’s a long list of highlights, but overall I did not enjoy WrestleMania that much, despite the fact that most of the match results were exactly what I was rooting for. Did I enjoy it despite my misgivings? Of course—it was WrestleMania! But, wow, there was also a lot that did not work for me. After fifteen matches, there was a “dance break” at a quarter to midnight. The longest match on the show was a supremely plodding Triple H/Batista grunt-fest. Several matches were so short that they were basically World Entrance Entertainment. Nothing was really that bad, but it was all just so long. There were also a stunning number of breaks in which nobody wrestled, which is a real feat on a 16-match card.
But the main event really was pretty good. Both Becky Lynch and Charlotte Flair threw Ronda Rousey around. All three managed to get the crowd back into it after what seems like an hour or more of dead time. And then the finish left everything and everyone flat. Ugh. I can’t believe WrestleMania ended that way.