From Sean Thompson:
It's No Longer Just Wrestlemania week. It's Wrestling Week
This past weekend the entire wrestling world turned its focus to Orlando, Florida for WrestleMania week. Or as Drew Galloway said Thursday night at Evolve 80: Wrestling Week. Thing is I have to agree with Drew Galloway, that week has evolved into so much more than just WrestleMania. It is a week of wrestling, a week where the world focuses on professional wrestling, a week to celebrate our industry as a whole. And while WrestleMania may be the culmination of everything, and the reason we all gather in one city the week has become so much more.
WWE, Ring of Honor, Evolve, CZW, Shimmer, Progress and many other wrestling companies put on shows all week long. And together with fans from all around the world they turned Orlando, Florida into a wrestling paradise.There was a lot to do in between the WWN live experience, WrestleCon, and WrestleMania Axxess. And it began with Evolve 80 on Thursday night, and what a show it was.
Next Up was Joey Janela’s Spring Break presented by Game Changer Wrestling. This Show was incredible start to finish. It had everything a wrestling fan could ask for, comedy and wrestling blended together in perfect harmony. As we saw legends like Glacier return for an aptly named match; the Spring Break Clusterf*** which saw the invisible man get a roaring ovation and Dink The Clown take a bite out of the Veda Scott’s behind. who got off to a rocky start when she took a kick to the face that left her bleeding from the mouth. however that did not stop her from staying in the match which was ultimately won by Jimmy Lloyd. Keith Lee and and Lio Rush put on an amazing display of athleticism which say Lio rush pick up the victory. Later on Marty Jannetty and Joey Janela had an incredible match in which Jannetty looked incredible and despite appearances, Jannetty looked like he was in his twenties again. In the main event UFC legend Dan Severn and Matt Riddle put on an incredible display in which Severn looked very good against his younger foe with Riddle picking up the win in the end.
The Progress Wrestling Show that took place at noon est on Friday got off to a rocky start as the live stream had issues but once they started the show the live crowd was as hot as ever and really enjoyed the show. As a fan who is rather new to the U.K. independent scene this show blew my mind. Jimmy Havoc, Pete Dunne, Zack Sabre Jr, Mark Haskins, Trent Seven, Matt Riddle, and Mark Andrews, these were just a few names on this show, and boy did they deliver and show the world why Progress is one of the best products out there right now.
Evolve 81 which took place at 4pm est on Friday continued the momentum from the previous night when Zack Sabre Jr and Michael Elgin started the show off with an incredible match that was followed by many more amazing matches such as the entertaining Fred Yehi and Matt Riddle or Keith Lee and Donovan Dijak and of course the amazing main event between Darby Allin and “All ego” Ethan Page which was the culmination of an intense feud that ended when Darby finally defeated Ethan page in an anything goes match.
Next was The Hall of Fame ceremony which while it was rather long (almost 4 hours) it was very nice to hear from the legends who helped paved the way for what our industry is today. Hearing Jim Cornette induct the Rock’n’roll express was incredible and probably induction speech of the night as he is one of the very best talkers this business has ever seen. Beth Phoenix gave a very emotional acceptance speech that really pulled on your heart strings. And if you did not tear up a little listening to DDP talk you are not human. Of course when Kurt Angle gave his speech it was one filled with laughter and incredible memories. On a serious note, he said something that resonated with me in a big way, you can never succeed if you don’t take chances to be a character in and out of the ring.
Back of course to the wrestling action as Saturday night the WWN super show Evolve vs. Progress went head to head with NXT Takeover: Orlando. (had to go back and watch the NXT takeover on the network as I was preoccupied with the super show) Both these shows were really amazing shows and really delivered to the audiences despite the fact that Su Yung never showed up to the supershow or Drew Galloway getting pulled by the WWE because they hired him and needed to have them in the crowd for takeover. I will never for the life of me understand why WWE felt the need to stop him from performing on the WWN live supershow and just save his appearance for the next NXT taping. However i digress, it is what it is and the supershow was still spectacular and the crowd went crazy when Matt Riddle was crowned the first ever WWN live Heavyweight Champion. Of course not to be outdone NXT put on an incredible show that saw Asuka retain the NXT women's Championship over Ember Moon in a 5-star wrestling match. Not to be outdone by their female counterparts, Bobby Roode and Shinsuke Nakamura went out and competed in a match of the year candidate for the NXT Championship.
Now it is time to discuss WrestleMania 33. The electricity in the live crowd for the Showcase of the Immortals was off the charts. Ass they cheered, they booed, grown men cried when the Undertaker said goodbye and rode off into the sunset. This show was incredible and was everything a WrestleMania should be. Lesnar and Goldberg got the redemption they were looking for 13 years after the debacle at WrestleMania 20.Shane and AJ told an incredible story with an amazing match.New champions were crowned, The Hardys returned to claim the RAW tag team Championships to a roaring ovation. This night truly felt like it was a WrestleMania that will be talked about for ages. and the perfect sendoff to a legendary career that was The Undertaker.
WWE kept the ball rolling with Monday Night RAW and Smackdown Live, as the crowds were just fired up and it showed even on TV. The Revival debut was received with a huge approval by the crowd as the lone debut for the night after mania aptly dubbed Mania Monday. The Crowd used their voices to boo Roman Reigns for 10 mins straight to show their dislike for the new “big dog” who only said 5 words before leaving “this is my yard now”. Smackdown kept the momentum going as Shinsuke Nakamura and “The Perfect Ten” Tye Dillinger got their main roster call up much to the delight of the fans.
In conclusion, the entire week truly felt like it was not just WrestleMania week, but wrestling week. At last years Scenic City Invitational Matt Riddle said it best “ the time is perfect to be a pro wrestling fan and this whole week proved him to be right. There was something for everybody no matter what your taste from indy shows to WrestleMania Axxess and WrestleMania itself there was not a dull moment to be had. And if you have never attended or watched a wrestling week take place, I encourage you to check out New Orleans next year, Because right now in the wrestling world the sky is the limit.