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Dolfan Watches Every Wrestlemania On Lockdown


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Bad Bunny was also the first celeb that they had in forever who was actually on their way up when they appeared for WWE. 

And I don’t mean for just an appearance. I’m talking someone who came in for a program  

Who’s the last one that wasn’t on a downturn? Jenny McCarthy/Pam Anderson? Cyndi Lauper? Mr T?

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I remember seeing this big athletic black girl in NXT in 2017 in a sort of non-descript battle royale and thinking to myself, "I dunno who she is, but that woman is going to be a star."  Fast forward to January 2021, when Bianca Belair threw out Rhea Ripley to win the Royal Rumble and get her shot at the big time.  The question was sort of up in the air as to who she'd face though, Asuka or Sasha Banks, and even a little tease of Io Shirai in there.  Eventually though, it became clear that she and Sasha Banks would make history as the first black people to compete for a world title at a WrestleMania, ever. 

Both women make their entrance, and are both clearly emotional when they get into the ring.  They know how hard both of them have worked to get into this position and frankly, they earned this spot. I'm a *hair* disappointed they didn't do the ROH-style handshake, but they pull themselves together and go at it.  

They're telling a veteran vs rookie story here and it works beautifully.  Sasha is quite aware of how good Belair is, and is trying her damnedest to make sure she doesn't get rolling.  Bianca for her part is doing the nervous rookie who slowly becomes more and more confident as match moves along.  

Now, I remember growing up, Gorilla Monsoon and Jesse The Body would go along with matches explaining things like how when someone had an obvious weakness you focus on that and work your offense around it.  Say they're barefoot, have wrapped up ribs, or... have long hair.   Sasha knows she cannot outmuscle this crazy good rookie, so she's going to work on something she knows will stop Bianca no matter what, yanking that LONG pony tail to pull her out of her offense.   And, of course, that proves to be her undoing.  

Bianca has filled the match with ridiculous power spots.  Of note, press slamming Sasha from the outside -- of the ring -- up the stairs -- and then into the ring.  So Sasha is quickly getting outmatched and outclassed here, so she knows she needs something big soon. She finally gets Bianca down long enough to get a Eddie-special frog splash. When that's not enough, she goes for the Banks Statement, using Bianca's hair as added leverage.  BB just makes the ropes to break that up, and Sasha's exasperation is undeniable at this point.  

She makes a mistake and kills herself against the ropes, allowing Bianca to hit a magnificent 450 splash from the top.  But that only gets 2 also, and now the exasperation has hit Bianca full on.  

Sasha has no idea what to do now, so she goes for the last thing she knows works, and that's pulling on Bianca's hair.  Bianca breaks free though, and...

CRACK

Sasha takes a full legit whip shot to her side.  Bianca picks her up and nails the Kiss of Death to win her first championship.  It's just a shame the crowd was only 25,00 people because it really would have been a massive pop.   Bianca celebrates in the ring.  

In a cute bit, they cut to Sasha, who's outside and has clearly told the camera to get her legit laceration from the whip spot. A fan shot video would later surface showing Sasha, unable to stop smiling, as Bianca celebrating. And why shouldn't she smile? She put over Bianca huge and made sure that everyone knew Bianca Belair was a star and a main eventer for years to come.  

Black girl magic abounds.  

That's it for this day of WrestleMania, and for my ride.  

End of Day 130. 

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DAY 131

It's night 2 of WrestleMania!  We begin with the pirate entrance video package for the FOURTH time.  Jesus Christ, Vince.  That may be a bigger travesty than what's about to come.  

And calling it a travesty is really underselling. 

I'd noted on the board that one of the big problems with the Thunderdome is Vince could not get direct feedback from his audience, which led to... well, among other things, this angle.  Randy Orton and Bray Wyatt got into a feud that was off and on for the previous 2-3 years.  And in the absence of an audience negatively reacting to really dumb stuff like murdering The Fiend through immolation or making Alexa Bliss the Fiend's best friend. And of course, Alexa was winning her own matches using camera tricks and switching characters mid-match between Harley Quinn-lite and a Banshee from hell, which also... just didn't really work.  

I'm not one of these wrestling has to be super serious and can't have weirdness or comedy or what have you.  I cheered for an undead biker wizard for god's sake.  But the issue was, there were certain rules in reality they had to play by because of the live audience.  But once they threw off that burden, we got pure uncut Vince, which was, and I don't mean this in a good way, scary.  

Anyway, Randy was cost the Rumble by (thanks to the earlier murder) the now partner-less Alexa Bliss.  They had a "match", which was an excuse to introduce a new (and improved?) costume for The Fiend.  Blah blah blah… we have a Mania rematch.  

Orton comes out first and instantly belies everyone's worst suspicions because he instantly does the "I can't believe I'm about to do this" face. 

Burnt Ends Bray walks through a light tunnel and I think the UV light cures him or something? Alexa then comes out by herself, except there's a big Jack in the Box by ringside.  Randy is doing his "wtf" face, which is to say, he looks like he had too many beans before the match.  

Alexa takes for-FUCKING-ever to actually wind the box and when she finally does, quelle surprise... it's Bray.  The crowd pops as Bray is finally back in front of a crowd, but then they make the baffling decision to wrestle under the red lights again.   The red lighting works as an entrance as it makes colors pop and brings a menacing aura to the performer, but holy fuck it makes things hard to see with the WWE's notoriously shitty editing.  

Bray and Randy, despite the circumstances, actually have a perfectly fine match.  I remember the first time watching, thinking, god this is awful... but on re-watch it's totally okay.  Until. . . 

Well, Bray basically has Randy beat.  He's about to deliver Sister Abagail, get his win, and get his career back on track...  but then Alexa -- in all new makeup -- sits on top of the Jack in the Box, in a black blood crown. I think she was supposed to be the actual Sister Abagail at this point?  Because Bray, being a total idiot, lets go of Randy and goes to stare at her.  Blood is now streaming down her face (and of course, this is why they did red lighting, to make this look "scary").  

It does not look scary.  

The crowd is audibly groaning.  Bray is staring at Alexa who has her arm outstretched.  

Randall is like, oh, fuck all of this.  RKO and pins the Fiend, effectively ending Windham Rotunda's WWE career.  

Bray all but instantly no sells the RKO, stares at Alexa again.  They both disappear. 

I wrote in the Mania 2020 recap that it was clear WWE had big plans for Bray/The Fiend.  But they didn't.  Aside from one other appearance, Bray never appeared on WWE tv again and was released in the summer.  Alexa too, would eventually move on to "terrorizing" the women's division by wrestling with a doll that looks like Vince watched Coraline on pain killers.  The crowd's reactions to the gimmick were, at best, tepid. She disappeared for months after Charlotte tore the doll to shreds.  

This match just sapped my will. It encapsulated everything wrong with the last few years. Frustrating camerawork, incomprehensible gimmicks, goofy and unnecessary twists, all of which obscure some actual, decent wrestling.  

Randy noped the fuck out of the ring immediately after the match.  He had the right idea. 

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The Jack in the box is gone, and it's time for the Women's Tag Team title match.  I'm not sure if this is much better than what preceded it.  

The 4 participants in this match are just such an odd pairing.  Everything suggests they should all be swapped to make better teams... like Nia/Tamina as a female South Pacific Swat Team would naturally fit as a big monster heel team.  Similarly Shayna Baszler and Nattie working really well in theory as a deadly technical "pick your poison" type of team. But as it is, we get... this. 

Nattie & Tamina won last night's gauntlet match and get to face the champs.  The bickering but friendly, but not friends, champs are Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax.  Nia and Tamina are both not exactly known for being the safest workers in the world, so one can only imagine this was done to keep them from hurting anyone of value outside of Shayna, who luckily doesn't appear to be injury prone. 

That's probably a good thing, as this just doesn't go anywhere. The best parts of the match are: Natalya and Shayna both looking visibly annoyed by their opponents and partners.  And Nia and Tamina headbutting each other to no effect -- though as any wrestling fan born before 1990 would tell you, it's just lucky the universe didn't implode on itself when they did this spot. 

Okay, this is just awful.  Shayna is trying her damnedest here, Nattie is too.  But, both Nia and Tamina are missing spots, cues, and are generally exposed as 100% not belonging on this stage.  Especially when this match is almost 15 minutes long. 

Oh lord.

Thankfully Shayna just chokes the living fuck out of Nattie as she tries to get a sharpshooter on Nia to put us out of our misery.  The champs retain. 

Nattie & Tamina would go on to win the titles a month later, which just drew me back to this... why not do the title change here?  And why would you throw Tamina out there to die for 15 fucking minutes when you had a VERY talented team in the Riott Squad just job the night before? I guarantee you Ruby knows how to work a match "exhausted" and not... whatever they attempted to do out there.  

Eh.  It's not like this mattered.   Nia got released and retired later in the year.  Shayna finally looks like she may start having some direction in her singles career in 2022. Tamina is in the idiot brigade chasing the 24/7 champion.  And Nattie continues to work like someone who is happy to be there, but should have been released 5 years ago.  

Next ride should be a lot better.  

End of Day 131. 

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It blows my mind that Natalya Neidhart first showed up on WWE TV in 2007.

She's been a 'solid hand' for almost 15 years and she's only ever had 3 championship runs - Divas title in 2010, SDL Title in 2017 & this run with the tag titles.
I'm sure she's a lovely person and fantastic help backstage but think of all the women who have been cut in the last 3-5 years that could have been getting matches in her place.

Tamina debuted in 2010 and this tag title run was her first championship in WWE. Ten years of floating around and not improving.
That said, I'm firmly in the camp that believes she is kept around for private reasons relating to her father.

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DAY 132

You know, there are times in your life that people become super close to you and then just drift away.  Either they get pushed away, or life takes you in different directions, or they just... get lost.  That's a sad reality that's occurred far too many times over the past few years.  The pandemic has brought out the best, and a lot of times, the worst in people.  But there's a special place in hell for those who cause relationships to fail because of Conspiracy Mindset.  

And that's what we have going on here.  Kevin Owens was generally minding his business floating around the top of the card in the years after he'd pushed away his longtime best friend Sami Zayn. Sami had just gotten lost and become an extremely paranoid, almost schizophrenic version of himself, always seeing conspiracy theories around him, believing everyone was conspiring to get him, and alienating everyone along the way.  

Well, his path crossed with Kevin's, and when Kevin didn't instantly agree with him, he got kicked in the face for it.  Now there's a great story to be told here, especially with this being the first time in their careers Sami and KO are opponents when Sami was a heel and Owens was a face.  But we needed to shoehorn Jake Paul in.  

*cough*

Okay whatever.  Let's get going here. 

I will say, losing the original Sami ska beatz to whatever that generic rock thing he's got now is an absurd tragedy.  I completely get why you change his music, but once he goes back to being a face, I really need him to get his old music back.  That being said, as he comes out, hearing "LET'S GO!" was definitely a bit of an emotional moment for me.  Kevin, for his part, looks extremely emotional.  Like legitimately pumped that he's getting to perform in front of actual people once again. 

Jake Paul enters to a chorus of boos.  Well, at least he doesn't appear to be taken aback by it.  Like, he knew what was coming and his stupid expressionless face belies nothing. And speaking of nothing, that's all he does.  He doesn't get on commentary, he just sits by ringside and occasionally they pan to him for a reaction shot, but wow is he terrible at even that.  

I really don't want to even know how much he made for sitting there. 

Anyway, Kevin and Sami run through their greatest (WWE) hits of spots.  They're still not allowed to do some of the insane shit they did back in the day, which would have made this match amazing, so, eh.  It's roughly the same match you've seen before, except Sami's the one doing the heeling.  They only get 8-10 minutes before Owens tires of it and stunners Sami for the victory. It's a shame, because it's a fine match, but a little underwhelming.  

Oh god here's Jake.  Sami blames his loss on him, Jake pushes him away.  Sami skulks off angrily.  Jake tries to celebrate with Owens, but gets stunnered for touching Kevin.  

This is just the price you pay for touching the Murder Bear when he doesn't want you to.  

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I thought it was the other Paul brother who was on Mania? Logan Paul? The Suicide Forest guy, not the hard R N-word guy?

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US Champion Riddle is scooting around like an idiot backstage, when he runs into noted idiot, The Great Khali.  Riddle tries what is clearly improv comedy and almost breaks character when Khali gives him... just nothing.  I know know if Khali had a line or if he was drunk or something but yikes.  Anyway, RVD comes out, and apparently he speaks fluent Hindi or Bengali or whatever the fuck Khali speaks, because he acts as a translator and gives them both RVD branded rolling paper.  (NOTE TO SELF - find this product if/when you go to Michigan.)

Riddle scoots off to defend his United States championship against Sheamus.  Sheamus is now a brawler and is generally awesome as an Irish dickhead you'd never want to meet in an actual back alley fight.  

Riddle has the CGI doves that come out when he kicks off his sandals and my god someone has to say the word No to Vince every once in a while.  Note, Riddle is also, allegedly, someone you'd never what to meet in an actual back alley.   Allegedly.

So, anyway, Sheamus is exactly the right kind of guy Riddle should be facing off with.  A guy who can work really stiff, make you look like a tough motherfucker, and has zero problems putting anyone over.  Riddle is good when he's grounded and not chasing someone around who's doing flippy stuff because that brings out the worst in him.  

Fortunately, these two have a very fun stiff brawl.  Really tucking in their shots and making everything look like it's giving the other one internal bleeding.  Along the way, Riddle does a picture perfect 1998 Goldberg style Jackhammer, that he really should use more often.  

To the finish, it looks like the planned finish was a Super White Noise. Someone fucked up something because they fall off.  But they finished with a neat spot where Riddle goes for a quebrada (or moonsault?) off the ropes and EATS a Brogue Kick flush.   

Yeah, that's more than enough.   New US Champion.  

This was a good ass brawl, better than a standard TV match because both guys were working up to the level of WrestleMania and that's all I can ask for.  

Sheamus leaves triumphant, Riddle is bleeding and looking like he got kicked in the fucking mouth.  (Which, you know.... good.  Allegedly.)

End of Day 132. 

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4 hours ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

Anyway, RVD comes out, and apparently he speaks fluent Hindi or Bengali or whatever the fuck Khali speaks, because he acts as a translator and gives them both RVD branded rolling paper.  (NOTE TO SELF - find this product if/when you go to Michigan.)

in case you don't make it to Michigan....

https://www.ebay.com/itm/274793096367?hash=item3ffaf1e4af:g:ESIAAOSw6gZd6e4S

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DAY 133

The hometown wrestler always jobs.  

This story has happened over and over, so much so, it's a legitimate shock when it doesn't.  Well, in the weeks leading up to Mania, the WWE has made a *HUGE* deal about Big E returning home to Tampa. Big over the top returns to his high school and stadium, and all that stuff. Which is great and all, but it almost feels like this is the hype package for a guy they're about to put the world title on.  But, he's the Intercontinental Champ, so that's odd.

On the other end, there's Apollo Crews. Apollo spend roughly 30 seconds in NXT before he got called up to the main roster. But, as a lot of people feared, he quickly got lost in the mix as they already had a muscular powerhouse babyface in... well, Big E.  So, apparently the dude who was born in Sacramento decided since his ancestors were from Nigeria, he now will be a heel and speak with a (vaguely) Nigerian accent - like, this is 'Halle Berry in X-Men' level acting.  Plus he has a metal Q-tip with him now too. Thankfully, he did say he was using his "real voice" now and not just changing it out of the blue.  Anyway, he attacks Big E and challenges him to a "Nigerian Drum Fight".  

No one knows what a Nigerian Drum Fight is.  

NDF apparently means no DQ, but I'm guessing (and probably more hoping) that they were aiming for something a lot cooler. Like, anything else. 

Wale comes out and does Big E's theme as he enters.  Apollo is decked out in White and Green to remind you, once again, he's Nigerian. 

While this promises to be a fun power vs. power match up, it never really gets out of first gear.  This is because: a) the gimmick is kind of overshadowing the match, b) the two of them are going for it, but just aren't really clicking, and c) the match is only like 5 minutes long.  So, yeah before you know it, Big E appears to have the match won when some unnamed tall guy walks in chokeslams the fuck out of E and allows Crews to capture his first IC championship. 

The funny part of this is, the Unnamed Tall Guy, is someone who has been seen AND named before on WWE television.  In NXT he was "Babatunde", and as early as a couple of months before this, he was Shane McMahon's prized fighter "Daba Kato" in the Raw Underground thing they tried.  

So, once again, the hometown boy drops the decision in front of his hometown crowd. And though Crews would hold the title until the summer, he never really got a chance to shine here. Probably because the shine was blocked by all the drums and stuff by ringside that were never used.  

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The formal announcement is made that Mania 2022 will be held in "April 2022" in "Dallas".  Those long suffering Los Angeles based fans will just have to wait another year for the PWG Mania-leeching show.

Since the day before was the "2020 Hall of Fame" the 2nd day has the 2021 Hall of Fame.  Rob Van Dam is here to remind you that you are fucking old and your back hurts while you read this. Molly Holly is here to show you that only one person can pull off the female superhero gimmick in wrestling.  Eric Bischoff is here to sell you meat off a truck and remind you he only had one good idea ever.  The Great Khali is here to take credit for being the greatest Indian wrestler of all time, just ask him!   And Kane is here to tell you that the black bear that is now living in your pool is your problem and you can put out the fire in your own damned house.  

Your celebrity entrant is Ozzy Osbourne.  Fun fact, he told Rolling Stone that worshipping the Devil prevented him from getting Covid when everyone else in his family did.  

WWE Exec Rich Hering got the Warrior Award.  And for those of you who think "Fuck the WWE for the Saudi deal" or make a "Blood Money" 'joke'.... THIS IS THE GUY YOU SHOULD BE MAD AT.  He does Government Relations and Risk Management at WWE.  

And of course, the more interesting part, the Legacy class: Pez Whatley, who ruled.  Dick The Bruiser, who you can thank for the Weasel nickname for Bobby Heenan.  Paul Boesch, the longtime Houston-area promoter.  Ethel Johnson, who Bianca Belair (among many, many others) can thank for paving the way for them.  And Buzz Sawyer, who HBK says had the idea that inspired Hell in a Cell!  

Well, at least it was nice to see Molly again. 

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1 hour ago, Dolfan in NYC said:

Fun fact, he told Rolling Stone that worshipping the Devil prevented him from getting Covid when everyone else in his family did.  

Wait, what? He had to have been on the sauce again when he said that.

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