Let me begin by saying Wrestlemania 34 was one of the best I’ve seen in years, and I can’t fault anything outside of the main event. Ok yes, so maybe Taker vs. Cena could’ve lasted longer, Nakamura and Styles could’ve been better, but I usually don’t like to nitpick minor things. I like to learn from blunders, and WWE made a massive one with Reigns vs. Lesnar last night. I’m here to look at the reasons why fans didn’t care for it. After a delicious, yet long Wrestlemania 34, many will agree it ended at its worst.
1) Goldberg Showed WWE’s Current Talents Are Not Popular Enough – The last time we saw Brock Lesnar lose was in the exceptionally quick match with Goldberg. That didn’t sit too well with some, as it told fans the current full-time talent are not as strong as a 50-year-old who hadn’t wrestled in years. Goldberg could beat Lesnar in seconds, but was eventually defeated in the rematch. Compare them to Kevin Owens, who could do nothing but lose to Goldberg like a Curt Hawkins .. and it becomes clear why some feel resentment for WWE’s booking of the Universal title. No one except Goldberg can beat Lesnar, and even then .. he’s got to underestimate his opponent to be caught off guard.
2) Strowman Wrecks Reigns; Beaten Quickly By Lesnar – Not too long ago we saw Strowman take everything Reigns had and keep fighting. Strowman usually had the upper hand in their feud, but since he turned face it seems he’s lost endurance. When Strowman went up against Lesnar on his own, he was put down by just one F-5. When Kane and Strowman went up against Lesnar, again it took one F-5. When Reigns fought Lesnar? Six F-5s. How does that make any sense? Is Reigns three times more durable than Strowman and Kane combined? How does Reigns kick out of something two monsters can’t handle once? I know Reigns uses the superman punch, but it really makes everyone look crap. Strowman is liked by the WWE Universe, so his match last year with Lesnar was disappointing.
3) The Reigns “Shoot” – It made sense to have Reigns parrot fans frustrations of Lesnar’s part-time status, but to me? It came across as cheap and petty. Instead of working hard to be strong enough to beat Lesnar with mindgames, he turned in to a mark in a bid to get the marks on his side. But it didn’t work .. because most fans like Lesnar more than Reigns, despite him holding the title hostage. I don’t understand what they were trying to achieve, the promo was supposed to be a rallying cry to the universe. It was meant to motivate fans in getting behind him so he could bring the Universal title back to Raw.
The problem? The fans didn’t care enough. Better the devil you know, than the devil you really don’t want to know. Outside of the “shoot”, and Heyman’s long-winded tirades (I freaking love Paul with all my heart, but his promos were long and over-the-top), there wasn’t anything else to sell it. The feud wasn’t personal enough, it was just Reigns getting frustrated that Lesnar has special privileges, while Lesnar & Heyman laughed it off. Are we meant to care for the whiner? Or the part-time champ?
4) Booking It As The Main Event – It was a really bad idea to make it the main event. Even on their best days, I can never see Reigns and Lesnar stealing the show .. so why put them at the end? The fans had to sit through six hours of wrestling and they were tired as hell. We’d seen Reigns vs. Lesnar before, so why not give someone else a chance? AJ vs. Nakamura? Asuka vs. Charlotte? Hell, even Undertaker vs. Cena would’ve been better (only if it lasted longer). But no .. Vince needs his boys in the main event, because that’s what all the bored, tired, beach ball playing fans paid to see? Right?
5) No Beginning Or Middle. Only End, And More End. – A wrestling match needs to be told like a story. You get everyone invested in it with a feeling out process. The fight heats up and the competitors start hitting bigger moves; and perhaps tease a finisher here and there. The big moves come out near the end, and the climax is reached as a result. But the sad reality of Lesnar matches (since his return several years ago) is they’ve become too predictable. I was watching when Lesnar made his original debut all those years ago, and he was an exciting prospect. You could sit through a Lesnar match and see more than just .. strike, strike, suplex, suplex, suplex, suplex, suplex, F-5, pin. Go back and watch Lesnar vs. Angle matches, and you’ll see he has way more in his arsenal. He doesn’t have to go to Suplex City and F-5s all the time, he’s very capable of more.
For a while I defended this style as it suited his character. But what we saw at Wrestlemania 34 showed it at its worst. When you go from nothing, right in to back-to-back finishers .. it’s insulting fans. They paid to see a proper match, but Lesnar skips over the foundations. You get half a match with him, and it didn’t help Reigns with the crowd. We know Reigns can have good matches sometimes, but he can’t do it with Lesnar due to restrictions. It forces him to do the same as Lesnar, jumping straight in to Superman punches and spears. It’s like buying a new video game and inputting a cheat so you can do all the big moves without earning them; you’re robbing yourself of playing the game as intended for cheap thrills which you’ll only grow tired of.
It wasn’t just suplex and F-5s, the table spots were poorly executed. Everything seemed off, and the spots were not exciting compared to what we’d seen earlier in the night, or even what we’d seen the previous night at Takeover. It was the most hyped match, but it was also the worst worked of the weekend. I want to blame it more on Lesnar’s limitations than Roman. Had the match built sufficiently, the crowd “might” have got in to it.
6) Busting Open The Hard Way Failed To Get The Result – I figured WWE would’ve learned from the Randy Orton match, but they didn’t! There is no chance in hell that busting Roman open the hard way is going to make the crowd support him. It didn’t work for Orton, he got wrecked .. and where is he now? Getting beat for the US title. If this is a way to demote Roman, then great job .. but how do you demote someone who kept going after all those F-5s? How do you demote him when no one else can take that kind of punishment? The match didn’t need blood. It didn’t make much sense as the feud never got that personal. Gargano vs. Ciampa was x1000 more heated and they didn’t bleed like that. Lesnar busted Reigns open for shock value, but only a few fans were. At the end of the show, WWE put the camera back on a defeated Reigns and played his music. And no one cared .. no claps, no thank yous, no standing ovations. There was no sympathy for Roman.
7) It Will Absolutely Happen! – Another issue with the build for this was the “spoiler” that Reigns would definitely face Lesnar at Wrestlemania and win. So as you can imagine, all those who believed the outcome didn’t want Reigns to win, because it was too predictable. Had Reigns won, they’d have said “I knew this over six months ago”. Instead, they turn their attention to how bad the match was, as they want to deflect and not admit they were fooled by fake news.
Recent news stated that Lesnar was leaving for UFC, so just like Wrestlemania XX when Lesnar and Goldberg were scheduled to leave WWE, it was a similar atmosphere with many fans wanting to crap all over it. How do you care when one guy is destined for glory while the other is destined to leave? The resulting pop from the pinfall was funny, because to fans it meant a) Lesnar wasn’t leaving yet, and b) Reigns isn’t the golden boy many think he is. The ever credible backstage sources played a role in making fans disinterested.
8) Matches With Rules + Brock Lesnar = Do Not Mix – I keep finding new reasons as I write this. Since Lesnar returned, most of his singles matches have been terrible. It’s only when the match has no rules and his opponent takes it to him, does Lesnar deliver his best work. There’s only so many finishers and suplex you can use in one match, so his forced limitation isn’t so apparent when he can pick up a chair, some steel steps, or his opponent can find weapons to use against him. Lesnar is creative in these matches, he’s good at using furniture to make his offense seem even more destructive. What WWE could’ve done, was change the main event to a No Disqualification without warning. Just .. have it announced that the match is now No DQ, and the fans would’ve gone “ooooo that’s cool!”. I remember ’em doing a similar thing with Austin and The Rock one year, and it worked a treat.
9) Finishers Mean Jack Squat – The most insulting thing was how many finishers failed to put the other away. The F-5 usually puts an opponent away first time. Brock was never injured, or tired, so all six F-5s were hit with maximum power. Not only that, but Brock took many spears and superman punches too, with two spears connecting hard during Roman’s blood rush. Compare it to other big matches on the card: AJ used one Styles Clash to put away Nakamura. Asuka felt the Figure 8 once before tapping out. One tombstone for Cena. One giant Samoan drop on Bliss. Other matches made use of finishers wisely, while the repeated usage in this match did nothing but make both men’s offense look weak. It was ridiculous by the third F-5. By the fifth F-5 I didn’t know what to think anymore.
10) Faith In Reigns – WWE has tried too hard to make Reigns “the guy” for a few years now. When you tell someone they should like something, they’re naturally going to resist. Why should we care? What redeeming qualities do they have? Do they excel in one area? All areas? Can we relate to them? Can they make us feel different emotions? Do we look forward to seeing them? What is their selling point? What can they do that no one else can do?
Reigns doesn’t have many likeable qualities. Girls like his look, and kids probably see him as a super hero (do they? I’m asking for real). He’s related to The Rock .. and grew up in the business, so at least he’s loyal .. but so are many others. When you look at his family .. who had charisma outside The Rock and Rikishi? I guess Umaga and Yokozuna did in a monster-ish way, but they weren’t asked to cut promos. The Usos are getting there, but how long did it take ’em to find their voice? Reigns is main eventing Wrestlemanias and has still yet to find his voice. It always comes across like he’s remembering lines.
It’s this undying faith in Reigns which continues to hurt audiences. Those who don’t care either cheer for the heel (which made Strowman a star), or they get bored and chant stupid stuff. Embarrassing to end the show of the year this way, and time will tell if WWE learns from it. In their eyes, they don’t care as long as everyone’s reacting .. but do they want to keep going through this? When are they going to listen and realize he’s not as popular as they want him to be? And how can he bounce back after a beating like that? How can he represent the full-time roster when he’s incapable of defeating Lesnar? I can’t answer any of that.
All I can do is finish by apologizing. I’ve really gone to town on this match. I could’ve been way more brutal, but I think I’ll leave it for you guys. I have no idea what WWE was thinking with this main event, and I believe it’s going down as one of the worst in Wrestlemania history. I’m always going to look back at this Wrestlemania and suppress the last 20 minutes or so from my memory .. because the show was fantastic. I loved everything about it, and I hope it motivates WWE’s rosters in to making 2018 the best year in a long time. Thanks for reading everyone! Try not to hate too much, it’s not good for ya. See you laters.