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AS I SEE IT 4/3/17: A shocking return, and a poignant farewell

AS I SEE IT
Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets
PWBTS.com

Wrestlemania 33 is history.

Roman Reigns got booed…but not as badly as some feared he
might.

We had a major tag team return that was the worst kept
secret in wrestling history.

We had an incredibly poignant farewell.

And yes, we had a marriage proposal that was the second
worst kept secret in history…or at least of the last
couple years.

That…was the 7 hour marathon called Wrestlemania,
including the pre-show (with the Austin Aries-Neville
Cruiserweight title match unforgivably put on the pre-show,
the pre-show that only aired on social media and the WWE
Network; plus the Dean Ambrose- Baron Corbin
Intercontinental Title match shifted to the USA Network pre-
show without any warning to fans waiting for it on the PPV.

WWE wonders why the Cruiserweight Division hasn’t gotten
over, despite the reception for the WWE Cruiserweight
Classic. Well, when you stick 205 Live at the end of a
Smackdown airing…when you let Vince McMahon and Kevin Dunn
get their hands all over it, and turn it into the same
product as the rest of RAW, rather than something different
that might encourage people to tune in…and when you shift
what might have been the best pure wrestling match of the
entire Wrestlemania 33 event to a too short match…despite
there being time for it to go longer on the social media-
only pre-show.

Now… to the shocking return….that both was and wasn’t
shocking.

It was pretty well known that the Hardys were headed to WWE,
with the only question being when. But when The New Day came
out, and Big E said we have an announcement…that this this
ladder match has now become a fatal four way. Xavier Woods
then said one more team will be involved. Kofi Kingston
wonders who this fourth team could possibly be. Camping
World Stadium began to roar. Then, the old school WWE Hardys
entrance music hit, and the Stadium went batshit.

The Hardys snuck in a very few of the Broken gimmick, but
pretty much did old school Hardys in the ring. (WWE had been
making “Broken”, “Wonderful” and “Delete” references on
social media all weekend, so they weren’t entirely
clueless). But the crowd wasn’t having any Anthem inspired
restrictions, and chanted all the Broken catchphrases back
at the Hardys, with one very audible “Brother Nero” chant at
Jeff Hardy. The production crew seemed to consciously avoid
too many close-up shot of Matt Hardy, probably because DISH
Network was airing Wrestlemania…the same DISH who yanked
the Ring of Honor PPV with almost no notice because of
Anthem/Impact Wrestling legal threats.

So there is no way of knowing what kind of character will
come out tonight. It’s a pretty safe bet that the always-
crazy post-Wrestlemania RAW crowd will be amped up and will
push the Hardys to at least present some of the Broken
character…or if WWE tiptoes around it…will do it for
them.

Then , there was the John Cena/Nikki Bella vs. Miz/Maryse
mixed tag team match. Following the Hardys title win, it did
what it was designed to do…and set up the marriage
proposal that (I assume) will result in a Summerslam
“marriage ceremony”. Even with as smarky a crowd as
Wrestlemania audiences can be. the whole proposal deal
actually seemed to get a good reaction. The whole set up of
the Miz-Maryse “Lost episodes” of Total Bellas being
absolutely hilarious and poking fun at John Cena’s real(?)
life foibles..certainly helped.

Then, there was the main event. It was pretty well no secret
that this was The Undertaker’s swan song. Even the pre-show
production segments seemed geared toward making that clear
in an indirect way.

Amazingly, while Reigns was booed…it wasn’t as clear as a
lot of people feared would happen. Maybe it was that it was
the finale of a 7 hour marathon, and a really long weekend
for the fans live in Orlando. But the crowd received the
match, which kept Undertaker strong, but ultimately losing
out to Reigns, after everything but the kitchen sink being
thrown in with a brawl between the two, and Undertaker
hitting finish after finish, but not being able to put down
Reigns.

Then, the post-show. That was a production and storytelling
masterpiece. Even with the late hour, the camera still
lingered long..as they should have. Undertaker slowly,
dramatically took off his gloves and laid them in the
ring…then removed his jacket…then removed his hat…and
left the ring, presumably for the last time. If you haven’t
seen this farewell…make time to watch it today somewhere.

It’s a good example of why storytelling matters in
wrestling, both in the match and in the farewell, which was
almost more important than the match. It gave a proper
sendoff to WWE’s most identifiable name of the last 25
years.

Until next time…

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