No WWE show is more important than Wrestlemania. It is, without doubt, the highlight of the company’s calendar with everything from January essentially geared towards the biggest show of the year, from the Royal Rumble to the February PPVs, down to the weekly television show, and even the company promotion and marketing materials. It is the crown jewel in the WWE schedule, without a doubt. However, a worrying trend has been creeping into proceedings in the past few years, with WWE seemingly focused on bigger, rather than better, and sadly Wrestlemania 34 was no exception, something that becomes even more obvious on the second watch with the release of the blu ray. That’s not to say there aren't some major high points, there are some really great matches on this show, but those are diluted by the more disappointing bouts that make this show that much longer.
Disc one, viewed in isolation paints the picture of a very strong show. The red-hot opener between Seth Rollins, Finn Balor and The Miz for the Intercontinental title was one of the best PPV openers in recent memory with all three men doing superbly, and trying to steal the show in front of a hot crowd. Asuka vs Charlotte was superb and may have been one of the best women’s matches of 2018 to date. Whether you agree with the outcome of not is another thing, but the match was excellent. Although Jinder Mahal vs Bobby Roode vs Randy Orton vs Rusev for the US title wasn’t a five-star classic, it was far better than I had any expectation of the match being, even if Jinder winning was a bit of a bum note. However, perhaps the best outing of the first disc, maybe even the show, was the mixed tag match featuring Stephanie McMahon and Triple H taking on Kurt Angle and the debuting Ronda Rousey. If I’m totally honest, I think this probably should have been the main event of Wrestlemania, given the promotion and level of star power involved. Against all odds, despite Rousey having never had a match before, Angle being a shell of his former self, Stephanie being a non-worker and Triple H being a part-timer they pulled off a great bout with excellent heat and some very well worked sequences. A genuine highlight of this show.
Unfortunately, disc two does not live up to the high standards set by disc one. The Bludgeon Brothers vs The Usos was a short, but enjoyable high-impact affair. John Cena vs THe UNdertaker was essentially a greatest hits showcase for Taker, as he returned and looked great, but the match felt like a massive anti-climax based on the build-up and the shenanigans earlier in the show with Cena in the crowd. Daniel Bryan’s return alongside Shane McMahon to take on Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn was a misstep for me. Bryan looked great and I understand the logic behind the injury angle, with Bryan getting the hot tag, but the bout was a damp squib overall. Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss was a so-so affair, lifted by the anti-bullying story. Shinsuke Namakura vs AJ Styles (admittedly with an amazing entrance for Nakamura) was a bit disappointing given their previous NJPW match, although given the post-match heel turn, it’s understandable. Braun Strowman and Nicholas vs The Bar was a nice moment even though the segment went a bit long before the actual match started, and it felt like a squandered opportunity for a big mystery partner reveal.
Finally, we had the main event featuring possibly the least popular combination in Wrestlemania history, Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. After a nearly five hour show, an exhausted crowd were faced with a main event featuring an over-pushed “babyface” who WWE has attempted to portray as the underdog, and who the fans have rejected vs a guy the company has attempted to make a heel, despite being massively over with the crowd, by making him seem like he is deserting the crowd even though that isn’t quite true. As such the match was a bit of a mess in the end. It picks up in the final few minutes, but It felt like a very disappointing and overall unnecessarily poorly booked main event.
Beyond the event itself, this release also makes a change from the usual Wrestlemania presentation, as it includes the Raw from the night after rather than the Hall of Fame ceremony. It’s a welcome change, and the added action, with the unique crowd and debuts/returns make for far greater value for money than perhaps the Hall of Fame adds.
Wrestlemania 34 was a pretty average show on balance. Much like the last two years, this show was far too long, and the dips in quality were certainly noticeable. There was plenty of good stuff here, but the need to get everyone on this show really hurt it. For completionists, there is plenty to enjoy, but if you’ve seen the show already it’s not necessarily one I’d recommend revisiting. That said, there is still all the pizazz and pageantry of Wrestlemania, and an average Mania is still better than 99% of all other shows, so it’s far from a terrible event, and the addition of an eventful Raw certainly makes this a more attractive proposition.
EXTRAS: The kickoff show is the main extra feature, with a cracking match for the vacant WWE cruiserweight championship between Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali, a so-so Andre the Giant battle royal and a mixed bag of a women's battle royal. We also get a couple of segments from the post-Wrestlemania episode of Smackdown with Paige being unveiled as the new Smackdown GM, and Carmella's big cash-in. Nothing to write home about, but a decent enough selection of extras.