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WrestleMania 34 main event ranked among the worst

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CONFUSED FACES

(The one where Vince’s brain apparently broke)

The year was…I dunno, pick one: 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018; they all kind of run together. The unifying theme to them all, fittingly for this series, are their main-events and who those main-events featured.

I want to be clear right up front that I have no animosity against Roman Reigns, the person. By all accounts he’s a swell guy and has earned everyone’s respect overcoming his cancer scare. My beef is with Roman Reigns, the character, and with the primary person responsible for that character, Vince McMahon. My beef is also centered around the fact that Vince McMahon spent these past four years insisting that Roman Reigns should be his one John Cena-like top guy at the expense of any and everyone else.

There’s a whole sub-article that could be written about the way Vince gets myopic and shortsighted all at once and sacrifices anything in his way to accomplish a short-term goal. The man okay’d the end to the Undertaker’s streak because he wanted buzz for his new Network. He destroyed the Undertaker’s dignity as a main-event performer a few years later when he insisted on cementing Roman Reigns as “THA BIG DAWG!” in WWE.

Nothing is sacred!

One year after putting the Undertaker down, what do we have? We have 2018 and Roman Reigns once again challenging Brock Lesnar for his championship. They would go on to wrestle two more times over the next few months but here it was on the biggest stage, the most prestigious stage, the most important stage.

And what’s remarkable is how, after all these years of Roman being shoved down our throats, pushed at the expense of more-popular talent, pushed awkwardly and wrongly by the out of touch septuagenarian in power, and pushed against the vocal protestations of the ticket-buyers, Roman Reigns entered WrestleMania 34 with the crowd more or less behind him.

Granted, it was basically the audience having yielded.

Few were really excited to see Roman run with the belt. No one was salivating for it the way they did an Austin win in 1998 or a Benoit win in 2004, or a Bryan win in 2014. The response was purely one of defeat: Vince wore the fanbase down and made them say: “Enough, please. No more boring, ten-move Brock matches. Put the title on a full-timer. We don’t care if it’s Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Kamala; just put the belt on someone who shows up regularly and tries to wrestle complete matches.”

It may not have happened the way Vince wanted it, but as WrestleMania 34’s main-event kicked off, it did so with the crowd prepared and ready to see Roman win. So Vince won, yes? He won. He got what he wanted.

So why did Brock walk away with the title?

The crowd, who had endured a mostly forgettable WrestleMania but for a few exceptions (Charlotte vs Asuka, Cena vs Undertaker, Bryan’s return, and of course Ronda’s show-stealing performance) sat through the main-event expecting to see two guys they weren’t keen on seeing. In the one corner was Brock, who had a stranglehold on the Universal Title and over whom the crowd was more than exhausted. In the other corner was Roman, the babyface by default, but someone who could not generate a proper babyface reaction at all in the lead-up to or on the night of the show. Yet the crowd stayed. Over the course of six or so hours, they stayed. In the hopes they would see the title change hands, they stayed. No, with full expectation that the title would change hands, they stayed, for why on earth wouldn’t the title change hands? Brock had done all he could do as champ. He’d been kept strong, like all heel champs are, in order to put over the next babyface up. He beat the streak, squashed John Cena, ran through a litany of able challengers, all in the name of “making the heir apparent look strong.” Roman had certainly been pegged to carry the company for years now. There was no reason not to put the belt on him.

So why did Brock walk away with the title?

After fifteen minutes of brutal back-and-forth battling in front of an exhausted, disinterested, and put-out crowd, Brock Lesnar hit his sixth(!) F5 and pinned Roman clean in the middle of the ring. With every F5 before the last one the crowd barely responded. With every kickout, the crowd did not react…unless you count all the “boring” chants. By the time the sixth F5 was tee’d up, the crowd was either enjoying the wave, a random beachball that was bouncing through the crowd, or was just booing in frustration that the main-event they paid to see was such a boring waste of their time. When the sixth F5 happened, Roman Reign’s face was a crimson mask but the crowd didn’t care. They only chanted “this is awful” and treated Brock’s victory music to a frustrated murmur as they trudged to the exit.

Each of Roman Reigns’ four WrestleMania main-events were a failure for different reasons. WrestleMania 31 was such a failure to make Roman the next face, Vince had to change the finish halfway through the night and end the show with no “next face” decided. WrestleMania 32 failed to make Reigns a sympathetic hero. WrestleMania 33 failed to make him a dominating one. WrestleMania 34…

I don’t even know what they were trying to do so it’s just a pure failure of concept.

Why did Brock walk away with the title? Was it just to set up the rematch at the Saudi Arabian show the next month? That seemed logical…until Brock won that match too.

It’s hard to say which of Roman’s main-events is the worst. His WrestleMania 31 match is a top-ten contest, but it was Seth’s inclusion that made it so great. WrestleMania 32 is, in contrast, a bottom-dweller, ranking #26 out of 33. The follow-up is one of the very worst of all time. That one and this one are very similar, differing only in the exact negative emotions they brought out: The Undertaker match made me sad and angry in that order. This one made me bewildered and frustrated in that order.

If I had to choose, I’d rather be bewildered than sad; I’d rather be angry than frustrated too, I think. For that reason, I would slot it just ahead of the previous entry.

#30th

It failed on almost every imaginable level. The match itself is only exciting in a vacuum: There’s table spots, hard shots, blood, big finishes, and near falls but in the context of the larger moment it all added up to a colossal failure with the greatest failure of them all forever tainting it: The one time Vince finally had a good reason to give Roman the belt he simply…didn’t. And that’s a decision too stupid to waste any more time writing about.

So there you have it. The 30th out of 34 WrestleMania main-events. Where do you rank it? Leave a comment below and tell us what you think.

See you next time and catch you in the comment sections!

Oh and follow me on twitter: @bigpaleblog. (I write ten articles a month for cultofwhatever.com, covering comic books, TV, movies, wrestling, video games and more!)


The completed list, now updated to include the above match:

- Ranking Mania main events #1: Steve Austin vs. The Rock II
- Ranking Mania main events #2: Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker
- Ranking Mania main events #3: Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant
- Ranking Mania main events #4: Daniel Bryan vs. Randy Orton vs. Batista
- Ranking Mania main events #5: Hulk Hogan vs. Macho Man Randy Savage
- Ranking Mania main events #6: Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Triple H
- Ranking Mania main events #7: Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior
- Ranking Mania main events #8: Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns
- Ranking Mania main events #9: Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle
- Ranking Mania main events #10: Triple H vs. John Cena
- Ranking Mania main events #11: Steve Austin vs. The Rock
- Ranking Mania main events #12: Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart
- Ranking Mania main events #13: John Cena vs. The Rock
- Ranking Mania main events #14: Shawn Michaels vs. John Cena
- Ranking Mania main events #15: Undertaker vs. Edge
- Ranking Mania main events #16: Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels
- Ranking Mania main events #17: Batista vs. Triple H
- Ranking Mania main events #18: Mick Foley vs. The Rock vs. Triple H vs. Big Show
- Ranking Mania main events #19: Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna II
- Ranking Mania main events #20: John Cena vs. The Rock II
- Ranking Mania main events #21: Randy Savage vs. Ted DiBiase
- Ranking Mania main events #22: Hogan & Mr. T vs. Piper & Orndorff
- Ranking Mania main events #23: Triple H vs. Chris Jericho
- Ranking Mania main events #24: Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy
- Ranking Mania main events #25: Triple H vs. Randy Orton
- Ranking Mania main events #26: Triple H vs. Roman Reigns
- Ranking Mania main events #27: Hulk Hogan vs. Sid Justice
- Ranking Mania main events #28: John Cena vs. The Miz
- Ranking Mania main events #29: Undertaker vs. Sycho Sid
- Ranking Mania main events #30: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns
- Ranking Mania main events #31: Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter
- Ranking Mania main events #32: Roman Reigns vs. Undertaker
- Ranking Mania main events #33: Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna
- Ranking Mania main events #34: Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow