So I grew up as a WWF fan, as I’m sure a lot of fans today did. That means I’m going to remember a lot of the sayings and phrases that were used over and over again on WWF television. One that has been coming to mind more and more over the last few days has been “anything can happen”, though the “in the World Wrestling Federation” part doesn’t apply so much this time. That’s a very good thing in this case.
WrestleMania Weekend has come and gone and my goodness it was another packed edition. There were so many things going on both in and out of WWE that it’s almost hard to keep track of everything (though that is what I try to do). What made things interesting though is that it felt like we were seeing things that I actually wouldn’t have believed possible, and that is where the fun came in.
One of the recurring themes of this weekend was seeing things that you probably didn’t expect but it was going on right in front of your eyes. That is the kind of thing that makes things all the better and gives you the kind of excitement you don’t get most of the time. It was on display more than once this weekend, some of which took place on the same night to make it even better. Today we are going to take some quick looks at some of the bigger moments I can’t believe I saw and I’ll ramble on for a little while about each.
Of the things I saw in person, the biggest surprise of them all was Steve Austin and Vince McMahon not just wrestling matches, but winning them as well. As was the focal point of the story for several weeks now, Austin has not wrestled a match in nineteen years but it wound up happening anyway, despite not being advertised. Normally that would be a bad thing, but Austin said he was going to be there for a fight and is that really so much of a stretch from having a match?
I’ve never been a huge Austin fan, but seeing him look at the camera as he was considering Kevin Owens’ challenge and feeling that energy in person was an all time WrestleMania moment. You knew you were seeing something special, as one of the biggest stories in the history of wrestling was getting back in the ring after almost twenty years away from the ring. It was an incredible feeling and one of those things that I will never forget because it was that important.
Then you have the opposite end of that (kind of at least) with McMahon getting in the ring for the first time since 2010 (the Bret Hart WrestleMania 26 match). What makes it even more impressive: HE ACTUALLY WON! Believe it or not, this was the first time McMahon has ever won a match at WrestleMania. Given that he is 76 years old, there is a good chance that it will be his last time officially getting in the ring. No it wasn’t exactly a traditional match as McMahon didn’t take a bump and won with a football shot to the ribs, but the bell rang and McMahon won via pinfall so I’ll take what I can get.
At the end of the day, seeing McMahon on the show in any way makes it feel important. That was cool enough, but getting to see him do something so over the top like ripping off the jacket to reveal the muscle shirt and being ready to do was one of those “well OF COURSE he would do that moments”. There is a good chance that Austin and McMahon will never wrestle again and getting to see it happen on back to back nights in the same stadium was just great. Much like that final Stunner, though for entirely different reasons that explain themselves.
On the other end of the spectrum, Cody Rhodes actually showed up again as Seth Rollins’ surprise opponent. The match wound up being very good (especially on another viewing) but what mattered the most was the feeling that came before the bell rang. There was a buzz in the arena before Rhodes’ music hit. While he was the expected name, WWE made me want to see what was going to happen and the few seconds before the music started had me desperate to know who was coming through that…well stage in this case but you get the concept. That is a hard thing to do and WWE made it work like few could manage.
Then to top it off, Rhodes and Rollins might have had the best match of the two days (at worst it’s second to Becky Lynch vs. Bianca Belair). This was the Rhodes that felt like he could be a major star in the future but also is quite the star right now. It was the version that I think AEW thought they were getting but now he has been reeled in a bit and given some better direction. That kind of thing makes a difference and it makes things that much more entertaining.
What mattered was Rhodes felt special. He was a pretty big deal in AEW, but there were times where he felt like a complete sideshow more than once. This felt like a main event star was dropped into WWE, as Rhodes has a lot of the tools but doesn’t have AEW there letting him do everything he wants and going on insane tangents. I’m actually interested in seeing where Rhodes is going in WWE and I can’t say I really said that very often in AEW, so we might have an improvement on our hands here. Assuming it actually lasts, which is probably quite the stretch.
Finally, we’ll go outside of WWE for the return of Ring of Honor, even if it has almost nothing to do with Ring of Honor in the first place. While I haven’t seen the show as of this writing, I have heard some rather strong reviews, in particular for one match. The fact that I was at an Impact Wrestling show and a fan shouted the big surprise at the end of the Ring of Honor show tells you just how important this felt to the fans. That is a great thing to see as it isn’t like Ring of Honor has had that much buzz in recent years and the change is nice to see.
The show basically became the AEW offering for the weekend, which isn’t something Tony Khan seems interested in doing on a regular basis. That makes things all the better is that there is some fire to the company. Maybe it is due to having AEW stars added to the show and wondering what Khan is going to do with the company, but just hearing about this was a lot more fun than almost anything Ring of Honor had been doing in the last few years. That is the major perk of the story and I want to see where things are going, even as AEW’s minor league.
Now of course there is one match that has all of the interest over the weekend and that is where things get interesting. The Briscoes vs. FTR match has gotten rave reviews and seems to be the match of the weekend. I know the Briscoes can’t show up in AEW (annoying but understandable) but they have been having a bit of a career renaissance in the last few months. More of that, plus more of FTR, who are the best team in the world at the moment.
Overall, this weekend included a bunch of stuff that I didn’t think I would see and that is where you get the magic. It felt like a WrestleMania weekend again and that wasn’t just even from WWE. There was so much to see that I’m going to be playing catch up for weeks and I couldn’t be much happier about the whole thing. It might not be the same anymore, but for once, it felt like anything could actually happen.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 60,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 6,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books
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