Random Match Roundup #18: My Journey Through Wrestlemania Weekend 2017

Hello and welcome to Random Match Roundup #18! Here is where I review 5 random matches, but in this special article all of the matches are from Wrestlemania Weekend this year. I tried to watch a bizarre and diverse array of matches, and maybe I will return to this weekend more with some more reviews. Anyhow, lets begin!

Kevin Owens vs. Chris Jericho

Chris Jericho vs. Kevin Owens – WWE United States Chamionship Match – WWE Wrestlemania 33

            As good as this was, it assuredly had a much higher ceiling than it achieved. This match was a story match, plain and simple. The action here was fine to be clear, but this was all moments to advance the plot of broken friendship between the two. There’s nothing wrong with that either! Even though this wasn’t a classic, it was still really fun and quite good. I really did like the way it started, with immediate punches to sell the hatred. While the heated nature of the match did subside before long, the thread of hatred still did run through the match, just less upfront than brawling. The constant jawing off between the two (but especially on Owen’s end) cemented the hatred. One of the most memorable moments for me was Owens grabbing Jericho by the hair and screaming how Jericho has nobody and that they were never real friends. That is some pretty good shit. Then, to build on how close they were, counters were aplenty in this match. The Lionsault itself was countered 2 times before being hit! Also, Owens stole the Walls of Jericho for another really well done moment. All this counter wrestling and move stealing added greatly to the match in a subtle and subliminal way. Their closeness was shown through their familiarity, which is just the best. Also, since all these moves were high impact, it never felt like heatless chain wrestling in the middle of a blood feud. It was constant attempts for blood. However, while the counters played up the blood feud well, the early portion of the match, after the initial brawl, did not. The whole match was a bit disjointed, with peaks and vallies, but the early going, with a lengthy rear chinlock, sucked. When the action was going, it was anywhere from good to awesome. The chinlock, though, just is an ever-present anomaly in such a heated rivalry. Now, to contrast that, the last few minutes were real good, with the easy highlight being an awesome Codebreaker counter to the Pop-Up Powerbomb followed by a nearfall broken up by Owens getting one finger on the rope. What a dramatic spot! Also, I saw some reviewers draw parallels between the rope break and to the Creation of Kevin poster. While that may be a bit of a stretch, I honestly don’t put it past these two. Regardless, awesome spot all around. The finish itself logically made sense, but it did feel a bit sudden to me. Nothing too bad, only a tad jarring. Regardless, The story here is just so well told its hard to complain. It may have been disjointed or slow at point, but the good greatly outweighs the bad.

Rating: ***¾

 Keith Lee vs. Ricochet

Keith Lee vs. Ricochet – EVOLVE 80

            Wow! I had never seen Lee before, but after this he really impressed me. I think the real excellent part of this match was the intertwining story all centered around making Lee a star. Ricochet was good of course, but Lee was the focus here and what most new fans would remember most. Essentially, as the bigger guy, Lee manhandled Ricochet, throwing him around with power moves and knocking him loopy with strikes. However, for those who don’t know Lee very well, he can do fast paced as well as anyone, using leapfrogs, dropkicks and more to stun Ricochet when Ricochet picked up the pace. In this match, Lee showed that he could do it all; he could strike, use power, and attack aerially. He really made Ricochet work for any advantage he got, with Ricochet needing both creativity and wit. Then, to build on Lee’s already impressive showcase, Ricochet threw everything at Lee to no avail, putting him over huge. For Lee to survive just about all the offense Ricochet had in his arsenal made him look like an all-star against one of the biggest independent stars in the world. Ricochet was just tremendously selfless here, bumping like mad and utilizing all his big moves to help Lee out. Two great moments displayed this: firstly was when Ricochet hit the Benedryller and Lee didn’t even leave his feet, so Ricochet used a crazy barrage of kicks to get a nearfall. Second was when, after a flurry of high-flying moves, Ricochet hits a Shooting Star Press, but Lee just out of nowhere grabbed his throat and stood up. What a damn monster! The finishing stretch was really excellent, crisp, packed with drama, and super effective in putting Lee over huge. Ricochet had to do everything here. A combination of the well roundedness Lee portrayed and the resilience he showed made him feel like the real deal. Honestly, the only real flaw here was one very minor instance of sloppiness, but that was a needle in a haystack. From action to story, this match delivered in the exact way it should.

Rating: ****¼

 Ethan Page vs. Darby Allen

Darby Allen vs. Ethan Page – No Holds Barred – EVOLVE 81

            Hardcore matches tend to at least have a perverse source of interest, considering violence is at least on the most base level interesting in some capacity. However, this goes above and beyond baseline curiosity and crafts a great story with good action. The hardcore action wasn’t a crutch to mask incompetence; in fact, it elevated the match greatly. This is a blood feud, so for there to be excessive violence is the simplest and most effective way to put over the hatred. On top of simply putting over hatred, the match goes above and beyond to add another layer of story to the match. Now, I admit that I am not very knowledgable on EVOLVE storylines, but I do know this whole thing started with Allen being a spirited jobber who Page abused. The hierarchy here was clear, as only a year ago Allen was nothing. That, added in with the size difference, allowed the great story of the heel, Page, brutalized the face, Allen. And boy was Allen brutalized. He took a total beating, with chairs, hard falls, being torpedoed into a wall, and more. His comebacks were brief, but when they did happen it was at the best time to break up any extended offense. He was always in the match even though it was a beating. Allen just came off as so likeable thanks to his underdog status and his plucky disposition. Any time he was on offense, there was an excitement and snappy-ness in his offense that really made him feel likeable. All of this combined with the violence for a real special story. As for the violence, it was no joke. They really went at each other, with Allen taking a great amount of abuse. From a press slam into the audience’s chairs to a press slam off the top rope through a stack of tables, Allen killed himself to get over. A great thing is that there were no chairshots to the head! Allen may be crippled by age 40, but he at least won’t have brain damage! The finish is the only real iffy part to me. The finishing spot itself was one of the highlights of the match, but what lead up to it was a mixed bag. Page’s crew began to get more involved. I’m totally fine with that, as they played a minor role in the match prior, and allowing them to enter into the fray gave Allen more obstacles to overcome. However, then a group of random people ran in, which I can’t really comment on. Maybe the run in was perfect for the story or maybe it sucked. considering I don’t even know who ran in, I can’t comment on that. However, they did add to the chaotic nature of the match, which is never bad in an all out brawl. Then, the finish was totally awesome, with Allen put over huge and a really cool spot closing out the match. Any of the potential negatives of the interference were wiped clean. Allen looked incredible here, fighting through all odds and showing great heart. He has a very high ceiling as an underdog face, I guarantee it. Not to undersell Page either, who did great as the bully heel. All in all, great craftmanship and compelling violence make this must watch.

Rating: ****

Keith Lee vs. Jeff Cobb

Jeff Cobb vs. Keith Lee – Beyond Wrestling Caffeine

            Considering the workers involved here, this was a disappointment. Considering these two worked multiple matches this weekend before this, this was fine. Nothing was outright bad to be honest, it’s just that nothing was blow away either. It always felt like there was about 50% effort, which makes for a good match with guys this talented but still ultimately underwhelmed. I enjoyed the story, with both guys going tit for tat in every department, but it was never really fully flushed out to the point of excellence. I liked when Lee tried to pick up the pace and use athleticism only for Cobb to equal him, but the payoff late game was hollow. Cobb and Lee hit some big moves, with a delayed pump-handle suplex by Cobb being a highlight, but there was never that climactic flurry or series of dramatic nearfalls to put the match into really good territory. Instead, it just meandered for a bit, then ended out of nowhere as it was starting to blossom. Of all the finishes to a hoss fight, a flash pin is not a good one. This really was fine, with solid enough work and fun, hard-hitting action. It just felt a bit half-hearted and like it never really went anywhere. I respect these two for all the matches they did during one weekend, but this match suffered due to the strenuous quantity.

Rating: ***¼

Romeo Quedevo vs. Sideshow

Romeo Quedevo (c.) vs. Sideshow – ACW Combat Championship Match – No Holds Barred – ACW Broken Tailgate Party

            I did see this called a one spot match, and while not totally inaccurate, this match did have a lot more good than one moment. This match was a total spotfest in sense, with little story and focus on action, but it had good flow and crescendoed well. The spots built to a finale, making everything feel important and supported. On top of this, the action itself was really well done. The weapons and crazy hardcore spots were good, but they weren’t overused. Every violent moment felt special due to the majority of the match being normal wrestling. This also made the final moment of insanity all the better. Since this wasn’t overly weapons based, the match was carried on solid action, blending big moves, suplexes, and strikes into a cohesive and compelling package. The majority of spots were good, minus one ugly reverse hurricanrana. One of the best spots was a simple suicide dive which looked killer, as they fell into the plastic tables as they went backwards. Now, while this match was fun, I will admit this wasn’t a really heated match or anything. Most hardcore matches have personal reasons for violence, yet this is just a hardcore title match to see who is the best hardcore wrestler. That does take away the animosity often found in truly great brawls, like Darby Allen vs. Ethan Page for example. The action, while good, did feel a little hollow due to the lack of any real emotional story.However, it was still really fun. Then, the finish was one of the nuttiest spots I’ve ever seen, with Quedevo doing a moonsault off a 15 foot ladder onto a group of open chairs. Any issues I had were quickly pushed aside, as this spot popped me huge. Even if the match was underwhelming I would remember this spot forever, but then the match behind it was good. This isn’t amazing, but I can’t ask for much more out of wrestling.

Rating: ***½

Thank you so much for reading My Journey Through Wrestlemania Weekend! I’m very happy you took the time to check this review out. I have a lot of reviews in my stockpile, I just need time to put all the stuff out, which I haven’t had. There is some fun stuff, with the new NJPW series being very exciting, I’m just looking for time to put the stuff out. Other than that, check out new updates and such here, and check out some of my other writings at freeprowrestling.com. If you want to contact me, check here. Otherwise, like, comment, share, or do whatever else you want to do. Thank you for reading and see you next time!

-Terrance Smith

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