This year’s WrestleMania card is stacked with good-looking matches, but how well have the WWE handled the build-up to these bouts? Continuing The VideoScope’s “WrestleMania Week”, we go through each and every match at WM34 and rate the build-up.
Last night, we looked through the 10 best WrestleMania promo packages of all time and it was very apparent how important a build-up to a match is. A lot of matches look good on paper, but not all of them are booked in a way to feel important.
We’re not impressed with how the WWE have booked the match between John Cena and The Undertaker that should be a historic event, but what about the other matches? WrestleMania 34 has a really strong card and some really interesting build-ups.
The Undertaker and John Cena Thing(?)
Build-Up Rating: 4/10
I don’t think anyone imagined a set up for a match between John Cena and Undertaker at WrestleMania like this. That’s not in a good way…
Come on. We all know Undertaker will be there at WrestleMania 34. He was at the WrestleMania 34 Press Conference for God’s sake! Knowing this, it feels cheap and unnecessary to have Cena rant about how cowardly Undertaker is, the last month on RAW. What is the payoff here? American Badass Undertaker for some reason? The more time they have spent on Cena talking about Taker, the more obvious it is they will face off at WrestleMania.
It would have been a lot more subtle and surprising if they just made Cena the WrestleMania host after Elimination Chamber. He could still rave about the show like he has done in spurts now. They could then have Undertaker show up to face him, not because he was dared to do it, but because he wanted to test himself against the face of the WWE. The way they built it up now, they can’t advertise with Undertaker taking part in it anyway, so what’s the point?
The Miz (C) vs Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor
Intercontinental Championship Match
Build-Up Rating: 7/10
The match between Seth Rollins and Finn Balor at RAW this Monday was enough to get excited for this match. They can carry The Miz to a good match and probably an impressive title defence at WrestleMania.
Seeing their match at RAW, it also made me slightly sad that neither Seth Rollins nor Finn Balor have done much since WrestleMania 33. Perhaps a SuperStar Shake-Up is in order? Even Monday Night Rollins could use something fresh.
This build-up hasn’t been anything special, but I’m excited for the match either way.
The Usos vs The New Day vs The Bludgeon Brothers
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match
Build-Up Rating: 8/10
I know it didn’t get much of a crowd reaction, but I liked how brutal the beatdown from The Bludgeon Brothers was at Fast Lane. It was also pretty nice to see The Usos and The New Day work together after such a long rivalry. It felt original and it was nice seeing that dynamic between the two groups who have so much chemistry. I love both teams and the SmackDown Live Tag division deserves to be featured after no-showing WrestleMania 33.
The Bludgeon Brothers have been booked as the favorites for this match, but I wouldn’t mind seeing The Usos continue to dominate the division they have made their own. They deserve a huge WrestleMania moment. They could continue feuding with and eventually lose their titles to The Bludgeon Brothers, while The New Day get behind Big E as WWE Champion.
Randy Orton (C) vs Bobby Roode vs Jinder Mahal vs Rusev
US Championship Match
Build-Up Rating: 5.5/10
Meh. Anything that includes Jinder Mahal severely dampens my enthusiasm for a match. I never like it when they put championships on someone to make them reach a milestone either, like they did with Randy Orton. It lessens those accomplishments and makes the titles feel more like props than achievements.
I am excited for Bobby Roode’s 1st Mania however, and Rusev is insanely over at this point. I have a theory of what will happen in this match and I’m excited for that, despite not liking the build-up for this match. I’l reveal this on Sunday when I try to predict WrestleMania 34. Considering how they have booked the build-up to this match however, I’d be pleasantly surprised if they go where I hope they go with this.
Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon vs Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn
Build-Up Rating: 9/10
Either way, I’m very much excited for this match, also because of the great build-up. It has been a long and winding road to WrestleMania for these four, but it looks like it will be worth it. The way they had Bryan give us a slight glimpse of what we have missed the last 2 years before getting brutally attacked by Owens and Sami was perfect. I also loved the promo they had on the “go home” SmackDown Live last night, with Owens and Sami interrupting the program and mocking Daniel Bryan.
Besides, the match features some of the most supreme talent in the WWE (and Shane O’Mac), so there is a good chance it delivers.
WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal
Build-Up Rating: REDACTED
It didn’t get off to the best start with the whole name debacle. At least it won’t be won by Santina Marella like the last time they had a battle royal like this. They won’t… surely??
Hopefully, unlike the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal (BROTHER!) match, this will be used to elevate the best remaining talent. There is a huge potential for a final standoff between Sasha and Bayley, which would be a slight consolation for them not having a singles match on this event. Maybe they will for WrestleMania 35. If they are the last two standing in this match and go on to fight for the RAW Women’s Championship a year from now, that would help with the credibility for the Women’s Battle Royal with the unknown name.
AJ Styles (C) vs Shinsuke Nakamura
WWE Championship Match
Build-Up Rating: 9/10
Shinsuke Nakamura winning the Royal Rumble was enough to make people excited for this dream match. I’d love for them to go on last, but that spot is forever reserved for “Vince’s boy”, Roman Reigns. More on that later.
This will surely be a match of the night contender and I like how they kept both AJ and Nakamura as faces. The match is unpredictable and it’s between two of the best in the business, fully deserving of the spot, so you can’t go wrong. Just give them enough time to put on a classic, please.
Kurt Angle & Ronda Rousey vs Triple H & Stephanie McMahon
Build-Up Rating: 7.5/10
This was a smart way to protect Ronda Rousey while she still works on being a Sports Entertainer. Not only does she get the best possible opponent to give her the best chance to win the WWE Universe over in Steph, but she also shares the ring with three veterans on her debut.
Also, can we please acknowledge that this is Kurt Angle’s first match at WrestleMania since WM22!? He is a wrestling legend, but is only a sideshow who got punched awkwardly in the face by HHH. I’ll be interested to see what he has left in the tank and he’ll likely be given most of the work, while Ronda gets a few spots here and there.
The build-up has mostly been good, but parts of it has felt very janky. Ronda still has a lot to learn, especially in her character work, but they have done a good job of setting her up so far. Just tone down the sign pointing, will you?
Charlotte Flair (C) vs Asuka
Smackdown Live Women’s Championship Match
Build-Up Rating: 9/10
Like with Nakamura vs Atyles, it’s hard not to get excited for this match. It’s two and a half years in the making for Asuka and her undefeated streak, finally facing the most dominant female wrestler in the WWE.
They will have a lot to live up to. If Alexa vs Nia is on the pre-show like I expect it will be, then this will be the first singles women’s match on WrestleMania proper since the whole Women’s Revolution started a few years ago. I can’t think of two more worthy superstars to get that honor. Again, like Nakamura vs AJ, they have smartly kept both of them face, making it more of a celebration than a feud in a way.
The Bar vs Braun Strowman & ???
RAW Tag Team Championship Match
Build-Up Rating: 8/10
The question is, who will be Braun Strowman’s tag team partner?
I do enjoy a good “Monster taking on a tag team by himself” angle. The RAW Tag division, unlike Smackdown’s, has been pretty lackluster aside from The Bar. I’m way more excited to see Braun in this match than any other tag team on RAW and it’s a good way to feature him at WrestleMania.
I wish he could be in the match without a tag team partner. The rumored Big Show doesn’t really excite me at all. I would be interested to see what they’d do with the recently DELETED Bray Wyatt though, so aside from Hornswoggle, that’s who I’m hoping for. I’m only half-kidding.
Brock Lesnar (C) vs Roman Reigns
Universal Championship Match
Build-Up Rating: 6.5/10
The WWE want us to be more excited for this, but I’m just not. Roman got praise for his original promo on Lesnar, but that was clearly a worked shoot. I don’t know how many times they try to pretend that Vince doesn’t like him, but no one is buying it. Well, maybe the casual fans who continue to cheer for Roman do.
It’s quite obvious Reigns is winning this, despite Paul Heyman’s “spoiler”. Just another way to make Roman look even stronger. It’s a shame the WWE’s push of Reigns has been so obvious ever since he was called up to the main roster, because he has actually developed to become a very good wrestler. He has had some amazing matches and is very much improved on the mic.
That’s what makes me hopeful for this match and what they have done right in the build-up. It looks like it’s going to be a brutal match and Lesnar can have really good matches when his opponent can get the best out of him. Look up his matches vs CM Punk and his triple threat against Rollins and Cena. The previous match between Lesnar and Reigns at WM31 was also good before Rollins cashed in and made history.