WrestleMania 34: How the match order kept the show from reaching its full potential
As the dust settles on another WrestleMania, I have a look back at the event and see if the match order prevented the show reaching its full potential.
As the weekend drew to a close, the dust finally settles on another WrestleMania; an event mostly filled with action packed wrestling, must see moments and incredible matches. However, despite such positives, there were of course some less entertaining moments and having soaked up the action many hoped online to criticise some of the matches.
The main event drew backlash, Nakamura and AJ Styles failed to live up to expectations, and Braun picked a fourth grader as a tag partner to much confusion. Surely, a show with 14 matches (including the pre-show) is always going to draw some criticism from a portion of the fans, and hence why this is to be expected.
However, the match order is something that not only could have been changed easily but also something which has hurt the last two WrestleManias and prevented them from living up to their maximum potential.
The opening and its effect on the latter matches
If, in an ultimate universe, I was given control of ordering a WrestleMania show, if would like to think that I would crescendo the show starting with the less hyped matches and building up to the best matches of the night to bring the house down at the end. This seems such a basic principle but the WWE have failed in the last two WrestleManias. Last year, arguably the match of the night between AJ and Shane opened the show and this year the Intercontinental Championship match was the first on the card, a match which for me was in the top three that night. It is nice to start with a bang and you can see that WWE are trying to hype the fans up for the wrestling marathon ahead, but for me it has almost the opposite effect.
Whilst it does excite the fans, for me it means that come the final third of the card, I am burnt out and the matches placed in this part of the card have traditionally suffered over the pat few years. Styles vs Nakamura and Wyatt vs Orton were in that same spot and really suffered as people dipped after the opening and were taking a break before the main event.
Furthermore, if you start with one of the best matches on the card, people then subconsciously expect every match to be of a similar standard. This is obviously not going to happen and because of this, some of the mid-card matches suffer because they aren’t up to the same level as the opener. Had the SmackDown tag match and the US Championship match been the openers for WM34, I wouldn’t have minded as much as I wouldn’t have anything too good as an opener and come the final third of the card, I wouldn’t be emotionally burnt out because of a hectic opening.
For me, I think that the middle section of WrestleMania 34 was the best part of the show. The mixed tag match was match of the night for me, the Undertaker segment was cool and it brought back good memories to see Bryan in the ring again. All of these matches were feel good moments but once more, it felt as if one of these matches should be the cathartic ending to bring down the curtain on a WrestleMania card and once more these high octane matches tired out the crowd and really effected the perception of the final few matches.
Perhaps the biggest criticism of WrestleMania 34, for me, was the main event. The match itself didn’t click for me, but it wasn’t the worst thing in the world. However, what really hurt this match was the fact that it was the main event of the show. The match wasn’t of main event quality especially when compared to their clash at WrestleMania 31 which main evented and was leaps and bounds better, even before the introduction of Seth Rollins. Had this match featured earlier in the night, I feel fans could have appreciated it for what it was; a slug fest with a ton of finishers, and this just doesn’t seem like the kind of match that WWE should put as its main event. Brock and Goldberg’s clash was placed perfectly on the card and I feel that fans’ memories of that match would be greatly different had that match main evented, and the same is evident here.
The other thing to consider is that this match failed to provide a photo finish. At WrestleMania 30 it was Bryan with both belts, last year it was Taker’s supposed retirement. This year, we didn’t get that happy finish which we can look back at years later. Instead, we just got Lesnar walking away and Reigns bloodied in the ring surrounded by a chorus of boos. Had the mixed tag or Bryan’s match main evented, despite not being as good an ending as WrestleMania 30 and 33, they would have been far better than what the WWE chose to do here.
To conclude, I must stress that despite these errors, I still think WrestleMania 34 was very enjoyable and whilst not an instant classic, was a solid show all round. However, if the WWE put more thought into their match order, rather than merely trying to force Reigns down the fans through in the main event, then this 'Mania could have become even better.
What do you think? Did the match order affect WrestleMania 34? Let me know in the comments below.