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[2017-04-02-WWE-Wrestlemania XXXIII] The Undertaker vs Roman Reigns


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I usually don't review stuff when I watch it live at 5/6AM, and this probably deserves a rewatch, but I have some thoughts on it that I want to get out. My first impression was that it was a great match. The opening wasn't much but as soon as they found focus it became awesome, usually Undertaker's strikes are just a shallow gimmick that feel like a nod to his ego so he feels better about the MMA classes he takes, but here they actually looked good for a change AND had a build that made them feel important. It's not like every punch Undertaker threw was suddenly Sangre Chicana level but when it mattered (the apron counter and the sudden jab) they made for huge momentum shifts and looked great. Reigns is no stranger to ramping up the violence levels, and the no holds barred rules and Undertaker's sheer age made this really feel like a spectacle, you have a jacked man in his prime conditioned destroying a fifty year old man with chairshots, the visual is just so much stronger when it's two guys who looks identical doing the same. Even when you could see the spots coming (like when Undertaker got Reigns on the table) the execution was so good it hardly mattered or the set up was so phenomenal they made you want to see the spot you know was coming (Reign's consecutive punches to Undertaker and the way he got in his face before the Last Ride). And for matches that have a lot of nearfalls I think this one really got it, doing what RINGS and the high end juniors matches do in that it set up an ongoing narrative and then had the final spot be something extra that really made you think ok, THAT'S it and it should be and it was. And Reigns punching Undertaker out before running the ropes five times and spearing him was exactly that. I would have had it around ****. I've seen some people complaing about the post-match, but I don't really know what they were expecting. I think it perfectly fit into the match, Undertaker failing to kip-up was an amazing spot and his character ends his journey on a more humanizing note with embracing his wife and going out. Maybe some would have liked to see some mystical transformation into the ether with only Undertaker's hat remaining in the ring, but I don't think that would have complimented the match as well.

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I want to give it a rewatch, but when I thought about it more, the tombstone reversal botch happening where it did actually made for a great transition and a moment for the story to slip into the reality of where Taker truly was. Like it divides nicely the story of the match between "Wow Taker still has some fight in him he can still do this" and "This really is the end." From then on it almost becomes this really gripping final struggle with Reigns laying in shots and Taker trying to survive. The sit-up attempt not being able to be completed is truly a great moment. Can already tell this'll be a match where the sluggishness and even downright ugliness of some of the execution actually makes it more compelling.

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I tweeted this right after also, but I thought broken down Taker was fine playing a broken down old man in a match where the story told was that he was a broken down old man.


I saw comments after that Reigns "disgust" look after the match was him knowing he had a clunker match and had lost the crowd, which is a complete miss of the story. I don't think Reigns was perfect in getting everything across, and I don't think that Jim Ross helped him much (he just carried on about this being a marquee career win for Reigns), but you could really see him transition into the mercy killing aspect at the end, imploring Taker to stay down, but not over-acting like HBK did at 28. I could really see this match not connecting to the live audience though (being at the show for 28, I had a similar experience with the Cell match).

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  • 2 weeks later...

This match, on a mechanical perspective, was good, bordering on great, up to the tombstone spot. From then on it got uncomfortable to watch, as Undertaker clearly couldn't go no longer.


However, from a storytelling perspective this was a blast. Taker saying Roman didn't have the balls to finish him off is a great moment and encapsulates the story. Roman realized that the old man never really stood much of a chance against him, and him having to basically a mercy kill isn't what he signed up for.


Great story, but not so good action. Still, the concept was very fucking interesting to me. *** 3/4.

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  • GSR changed the title to [2017-04-02-WWE-Wrestlemania XXXIII] The Undertaker vs Roman Reigns

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