Ronda Rousey steals the show at Wrestlemania 34 in New Orleans
By Aaron Oster
For The Baltimore Sun|
Apr 09, 2018 | 7:30 AM
Going into Wrestlemania 34 in New Orleans, some fans were concerned about Ronda Rousey and if she would be able to hold up her end of the high-profile match she was in. Those concerns were proven to be unfounded as she more than held her own in a match that many agreed was the highlight of Wrestlemania 34.
The mixed tag match featuring Rousey and Kurt Angle against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon was the best match of the night. As expected, the overarching story for the first part of the match was Triple H and McMahon making sure that Rousey wouldn't get in the match.
When she did though, it looked like she had been preparing for this match for years. Yes, she used her physicality to toss McMahon around the ring, but she also had some nice transitions from slams into submissions. She also held her own against Triple H at times, pummeling him in the corner after he got involved multiple times. Finally, she forced McMahon to tap out to end the match.
That's not to say she carried the match on her own. Triple H and McMahon were excellent in being devious heels, even as McMahon was being dominated. McMahon had a hard job. She had to deal some offense without making Rousey look bad in the process, and her heel work made that possible. Triple H and Angle both looked sharp in the ring.
However, Rousey got most of the crowd response and for good reason. It wasn't just her moves, which surprised many, after reports that she was having some trouble in the ring. It was how she carried herself in the ring, not being afraid to trash talk McMahon and Triple H as she was delivering the beat downs. It rubbed off on the crowd, who was desperate for her to get in the ring during the times she was on the outside.
The match went so well the question has to be asked as to why this didn't get put in the main event slot. The 78,133 in the Superdome Sunday night completely rejected the Brock Lesnar/Roman Reigns main event, only mildly perking up when Lesnar had a surprise win.
If the mixed tag match had been the main event, the crowd would have gone home much happier, and would have provided a very nice cap on an overall strong card. Maybe they weren't as confident the match would turn out as well as it did, but looking back on it now, the decision seems simple.
For one night at least, Rousey lived up to the hype. Hopefully she'll be able to build on it and, if she does, she should become a shining light in the WWE women's division.
The rest of Wrestlemania 34
>>As mentioned before, Lesnar surprisingly successfully defended his title against Reigns. It was a fairly brutal back-and-forth match with both wrestlers hitting multiple finishers and Reigns getting busted open. Yet, when the dust cleared, Lesnar won after catching Reigns with a fourth F5. However, the match was marred by the crowd reaction. Chants from "CM Punk" to "This is awful" to "Nicholas" (more on that later) rang out throughout the match, and moves barely got responses more than a slight boo.
>>AJ Styles also successfully retained the WWE title against Shinsuke Nakmaura. While not quite the classic many had anticipated going in, the two had a solid match, and the angle after the match sent shockwaves through Smackdown Live. The two exchanged seemingly congratulatory words, and Nakamura even knelt down to present the title to Styles. However, when Styles took the belt, Nakamura hit Styles with a low blow, and proceeded to attack Styles in the ring and out. A heel turn should do wonders for Nakamura, who hasn't quite hit his stride on the main roster yet.
>>Any wrestler with a streak should be afraid of going to New Orleans. Four years after The Undertaker lost his Wrestlemania streak, Asuka's undefeated streak came to an end as she lost to Charlotte. This was a perfectly clean finish, that saw Asuka tap out to the figure 8 after a strong effort from both women.
>>Speaking of The Undertaker, he did appear at Wrestlemania, and beat John Cena in the process. Cena came out expecting a match, but was interrupted by Elias. After Cena dispatched Elias, Undertaker finally made his presence felt. The lights turned off, and Undertaker's hat and coat appeared in the ring, which were then struck by lightning. The Dead Man came out and then, quite frankly, squashed Cena. He hit all of his moves, and looked to be moving much better than in past years at Wrestlemania.
>>Braun Strowman beat The Bar to win the tag titles. However, the story was who he picked as his partner. No, it wasn't a wrestler in the WWE locker room, or even a wrestler at all. Instead, he picked a kid out of the crowd to be his partner (who was later reported to be the son of a referee in the company). Nicholas, now the youngest person to win a WWE title, stood in the corner for most of the time, though did get a tag in at one point, though he quickly tagged back out.
>>Daniel Bryan's return to the ring was a successful one, as he and Shane McMahon beat Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. The match featured an early beat down on Bryan that kept him out of the first half of the match. However, once he got back in and got the hot tag, it was like time had reversed, and fans in New Orleans were once again hanging on Bryan's every move at Wrestlemania.
>>Nia Jax won the RAW women's title after annihilating Alexa Bliss. Bliss did get in some offense, but most of the match involved Nia Jax getting her revenge by brutally tossing Bliss around the ring and ringside area.
>>The Bludgeon Brothers won the Smackdown tag titles by absolutely demolishing both The New Day and The Usos.
>>Despite Rusev easily getting one of the biggest response of the night from the crowd, it was Jinder Mahal walking away with the U.S. title after hitting Rusev with the Kallas after Rusev had dispatched Randy Orton and Bobby Roode.
>>Seth Rollins won the IC title in the match that kicked off the main card. The wrestlers exchanged finishers at the end of the match, with Rollins finally hitting the Blackout/Curbstomp on both Finn Balor and The Miz to win it. Also worth noting that Rollins had a Game of Thrones-inspired entrance for the second straight year.
>>Matt Hardy won the Andre the Giant Battle Royal after, unexpectedly, Bray Wyatt made his presence felt. Hardy was about to be tossed by previous winners Mojo Rawley and Baron Corbin. However, the lights went out, and Bray started attacking both. While he wouldn't complete the job, Hardy did eliminate both men and then shared a handshake with Wyatt after the match.
>>Naomi became the first winner of the women's Wrestlemania battle royal. It looked like Bayley was going to win, as she double-crossed Sasha Banks by accepting a handshake and throwing Sasha out. However, Naomi slid back in the ring as earlier she had gone out under the top rope. She then threw Bayley out to win.