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Man HBK is the man when it comes to top PPV matches, especially at Mania but I am about to make some points many of you will not like, so hold on boyos!

The Undertaker did indeed have a string of very good Mania matches and this started with his "American Badass" gimmick, which I loved. It was the first time Taker did not seem hokey and goofy, it also led him to change his wrestling style, incorporating faster paced action and more moves into his arsenal. He had some exceptional matches across a tonne of PPVs with this gimmick and it all started with Taker v HHH at Mania. I would label it a great wrestling match. The Flair match at the following Mania was startling in its physicality, especially as Flair was in his 50s, both guys did a top job but probably not a great match.

After all that, there is the trainwreck of Taker v Show and A Train, a pointless match with Kane in a rivalry no one cared about anymore and a decent enough match with Orton but hardly a great one.

Ultimately, we come to Taker v HBK and both matches are good but I have never found them to be great. I was actually away from watching wrestling at the time, so maybe viewing them without the build up takes something away but surely it cant take away so much. In particular the rematch has far too many moments with both older men keeling over, trying to catch their breaths. It should have been maybe 15 mins and not 20+.

However, if Taker had stopped here I'd say he was one of the best Mania performers ever but what has happened since is some of the worst matches on PPV...ever..across any brand and any era. Theg uy could barely move in his matches with Shane and Reigns and the most recent match with Styles was worse than most cheap, straight to dvd (yes dvd) horror movies. That is a terrible stain...it makes up 5 manias of worst match of the night in a row. 5 WHOLE DAMN YEARS....
 

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Joke about "greatest this and that"...now let's get onto the actual ppv. The marketing for this has been all over the place but on paper, there's some good stuff here. Can it work? Some matches are being pre-recorded and edited (much like wrestling pre mid-90s), I think it's just something some of you kids will have to get used to for a while.

It's fair to say that wrestling isn't at its strongest at the moment due to a number of controlled and uncontrolled factors, could this PPV save us? Can it wipe away the dour, salty taste of AEWs last fiasco? Let us see!

Female Tag Match

No rating as I didn't watch...you know what stopped me other than it being a midget wrestling match? That horrendous promo by Bayley/Sasha. Why do these two keep getting pushed?

Sheamus vs Jeff Hardy
I was worried watching this one. Jeff is no longer the athletic performer he was even 6 or 7 years ago, let alone 20 and Sheamus has always just been an average worker with an average persona but boy was I wrong to be worried. This isn't the greatest wrestling match ever but it was a damn good one. It made me forget about the stadium stink up, it made me forget about the anorexic women's division, it made me forget about pre-recorded horror matches...it made me think about wrasslin'! once more and for that, thank you guys.

This was booked as the typical big man v little high flyer match up and it worked really well. Jeff can still hit some big spots and Sheamus is good with his forearms and kicks. Sheamus was on the front foot for a lot of the match and Hardy kept coming back, the comms on this were excellent, constantly selling the fact that Hardy was "resilient" and had a "never say die" attitude. It's how Jericho and HBK matches used to be called back in the day.

Jeff had a few good spots, run across the barricade, a forearm off the steps and even a lil bit of whisper in the wind. All excellent stuff from the Hardy playbook, while Sheamus bear the drums and really muscled Jeff around. The physical manner of it all really sold the story and the competition. This could easily be graded higher if not for the ending (it's a theme in this PPV). Hardy was the face, coming in from abuse and wanting redemption...so he gets booked to lose to a heel? This only makes sense if Sheamus is going for a push, otherwise it's terrible story telling and why the company fails in building faces. In fact, this is a problem in the history for so many years now, the right guy doesn't get booked to win in the natural conclusion for such a story.

Bookers, get your heads out your....

Sheamus wins.

Match Grade: BRONZE

Asuka vs Nia Jax (Women's Championship)
I tried to watch this, I really did try but Nia Jax is such a terribel character and worker. Asuka is actually cool at times but nothing which gravitated me to this match. I watched a few of the spots, I particularly liked the running knee to Nia Jax but yeah...dunno how this goes.

Braun Strowman v Miz/Morrison (Universal Championship)
Strowman is a big, bruising presence who could be sold as a legit fighter. For a time he was booked brilliantly, in his initial main event pushes against Reigns, Joe and of course Lesnar. Now that he is champion, how do they book him? In a comedy feud with Miz (remember when he was a legit heel?) and Morrison. I watched the build up package and there was slime being thrown at one of the presenters; what is this, an under sevens cartoon?

I could understand the comedy feud if this was to be a squash match but it wasn't. Miz and Morrison actually had offense, Strowman rolled around the ring and actually had to work to win. Right now he could be going up against Owens, Rollins, Styles...just about any legit name on the roster but he is doing comedy skits. Great work again bookers!

Strowman "wins".

Match Standard: TRASH

McIntyre v Bobby Lashley (WWE Championship)
Boy oh boy was I pleasantly surprised by this one. Lashley looked intense, a legit threat to the champion and actually worked for 15 minutes straight for once. Who said old dogs can't learn new tricks? McIntyre continued to impress and pulled out a few moves I hadn't seen from him before. This was a good old fashioned, heavyweight dust up. We haven't seen this in a while.

Both men got off some solid offensive manoeuvres, Lashley starting off quickly and assaulting Drew while the champ still had his gear on. It was clear that the story of the match would be Lashley trying to submit the champion with his nelson. Would it work? Well, most of Lashley's offense centred around Drew's neck and shoulders, trying to wear it down for the submission. Clever, old fashioned wrestling script here and it worked well. Especially on the outside.

It's on the outside that this match came alive and goes to show that both these men are grizzled pros at this. There were at least three botches but both guys worked their way through them and managed to recover well. My favourite part was Drew's throw into the barricade, where I assume Lashley was supposed to go over it, rather than into it. But it worked well and looked vicious. In fact, the look of the match is what makes it so good. Everything looked physical, looked strong, looked hard. This is what wrestling was supposed to be.

There are however, tow kind of major issues with the match, first is Drew's booking here. He is on the defensive for way too long. A big guy champion should never be booked in this way (has become too much of a modern trope unless its Brock getting the championship). Big guys are not supposed to be booked as under dogs who have to show resilience, that's for smaller guys. This should have been full blown, mano a mano!

The second problem is that horrible ending...why was Lana out there exactly? Why is the heel getting booked out of a clean win when it should be the other way around? If Lana was being booked into that angle, doesn't it make sense to have her try and take out Drew rather than end up distracting her own guy, the heel?!

A terrific match let down by two bad booking choices.

Match Standard: SILVER

Some comedy interlude with the male tag teams, was pointless

Edge v Orton

There is a lot of hype going into this match, not natural hype generated by rabid fans but hype created by WWE. They raised the bar so high, it was never going to be that good. Why? Who knows. This match could have been built as a simple grudge match between two decades long rivals but they had to go and hamstring it with this nonsense. That is not to say this is a bad match but neither of these men have ever had the story telling or match ability of Austin, Bret, HBK, Rock, Flair, HHH or from modern times, Rollins, AJ, Owens and co. Maybe that is unfair on Edge, who is now middle aged and returning from severe injuries; he was a phenomenal tag team wrestler and had a decent time as a singles competitor, especially his matches with Foley but Orton has always been a damp squid. A poor man's HHH some may say.

So, the match begins with a lock up (I miss these) and carries on to Orton working Edge's neck. Edge comes back with a tremendous boot on the outside, sold wonderfully by The Viper. From then on, the match is a real back and forth, with Orton working out of skin for what feels like the first time in 15 years. Edge, for a guy with fused vertebrae moves like a much younger man, even if his stamina is shot to shit. He also takes quite a few bumps I wish he hadn't (rumour is he is injured post match). I think older wrestlers, if they are being brought back to be "draws" need to be better protected, even if they wish pull off the big one.

My problem with the match starts at roughly the 20 minute mark (it goes on for a near hour). Why does it have to be this long? Drew/Lashley/Sheamus/Jeff got about 15 minutes, this match should have been no longer than 20. The pace drops off and it then becomes a collection of punches and kicks leading to the next big spot. Don't get me wrong, some of the spots are cool, a headbutt busts Orton open, there is a great superplex, Orton takes a number of Edge's famous moves from the 00s, both men take bumps on the outside (Edge shouldn't) and finally they take historic finishers, from the pedigree to the Rock Bottom. It's actually really cool stuff. I wish Orton had thrown in a stunner at some stage too.

Edge also reverses the RKO several times, which is a bit of overkill because we know, even when he hits it, Edge will kick out. Finishers mean nothing now. Edge hits two spears and should really get the win, but again, poor booking lets the side down. Orton kicks out and then punts Edge into the middle of next week. Since when did every loss have to be evened out? It doesn't have to be tit for tat with a bunch of buddies doing each other a solid. Such poor booking at the end of an otherwise good match (not the greatest!).

I was surprised by the effort of both men but the run time was too long and the ending incorrect.

Orton wins.

Match Standard: SILVER

Summary
This was a good PPV, against all the odds, poor booking, the terrible state of modern wrestling, I could sit and watch most of it. Some of its best moments harkened back to better days and the heavyweight clash between Drew and Lashley should lead to a lengthy, physical feud. Jeff needs to win his feud over Sheamus at some stage and Orton needs to put this much effort into a possible world title tilt. A bunch of comedy skits, Strowman's burial and everything else lets down a solid, solid PPV. This could have been so much more but this is the current state of affairs.

PPV Standard: SILVER
Good review. I agree that Jeff needs to win the feud with Sheamus in the end. He's gotten a lot of hype for this recent comeback so I think that is what will happen.

I thought Edge/Orton was excellent, and I thought it didn't seem nearly as long as it was when I watched it. I agree that finishers have lost a lot of meaning, but for big matches like this I'm fine with wrestlers kicking out of multiple finishers.
 

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Good review. I agree that Jeff needs to win the feud with Sheamus in the end. He's gotten a lot of hype for this recent comeback so I think that is what will happen.

I thought Edge/Orton was excellent, and I thought it didn't seem nearly as long as it was when I watched it. I agree that finishers have lost a lot of meaning, but for big matches like this I'm fine with wrestlers kicking out of multiple finishers.
Thanks man. I didnt mind the kick out of much of those finishers but trying to sell the RKO, at that point in the match, just doesn't build tension anymore.

Hey yo, has the columns thread disappeared?
 
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