How much wrestling is too much wrestling? If there’s a ceiling, you’ll hit it during WrestleMania weekend. From pure wrestling, to comedy wrestling, to hardcore wrestling, to sports entertainment, there really was something for everyone in and around Orlando this weekend. Between live shows and catching up with what you missed on demand, it was possible to fill every hour of your life with wrestling without sleeping. That… is a lot.
But you don’t have to watch all of it (and you probably shouldn’t watch some of it.) There are always a few matches from the weekend that get people buzzing for days, and this year was no exception. Below, Paste Wrestling picked our 10 favorite matches from WrestleMania 2017.
The Hardys shocked the world with an incredible surprise appearance at WrestleMania 33, winning the Raw Tag Team Championship in an impromptu four-way ladder match against the Club, Enzo and Big Cass, and Sheamus and Cesaro. It was the second ladder match the Hardys wrestled in as many days, and despite the grand stage, it was the second best, too. In what felt like a farewell match, Matt and Jeff took on Matt and Nick Jackson for the Ring of Honor World Tag Team Championship in a match that might have been the most anticipated of the weekend, from any promotion, and delivered. The Supercard of Honor ladder match benefitted from fewer performers, making it less of a mish-mosh, but also benefitted from having the Hardys ending an inspired feud against the Bucks, who may be the best tag team on the planet, and who managed to out-spot themselves yet again. The standout match from a pretty strong ROH show.—Paul DeBenedetto
Looking at these two you’d expect one of Jim Ross’s beloved slobberknockers. Instead of a hoss fight, though, we basically got the best cruiserweight match of the year from a guy who’s 290 pounds and another who’s six feet seven inches tall. Yeah, there were the expected powerbombs and chokeslams, but also all kinds of flips, from moonsaults to tornillos to Canadian destroyers (which, hey, maybe give that overexposed move a rest, wrestling industry!). And because of the sheer size of both men, all of these moves landed with a force and impact that grounded what could’ve otherwise turned into something a little too hyperreal. It was, by most accounts, the match of the weekend, and well worth seeking out on FloSlam.—Garrett Martin
Keith Lee’s theme song proclaims him “the man of the hour.” Certainly, he was the man of the weekend. In a match that set the bar quite high Thursday night, Lee took on one of the most exciting wrestlers on the planet in a match that on paper looked like a strange mismatch. But the two men played to each others’ strengths extremely well. Ricochet sold Lee’s size perfectly, at times looking out of his element against the much larger opponent. Lee worked at tossing around Ricochet for much of the match, so when it came time to sell Ricochet’s high-risk offense, it looked even more impressive. The finish was questionable booking, but overall, an incredible match to kickoff the weekend.—PD
What a way to be introduced to a team. I knew nothing about TK Cooper or Travis Banks before this show, and left convinced that they’re one of the best tag teams in the world. Callihan, of course, was one of the most ubiquitous wrestlers of the weekend, appearing on like 12 shows over four days, including three that I attended, and Shane Strickland is a well-established daredevil of the first order. Together, these four put on an exhausting display of technical precision and high-flying wonder, in what might have been the best tag team match of the weekend.—GM
At this rate, Darby Allin will probably not have a long career, so watch him while you still can. Allin once again stole an Evolve show with one of the craziest performances of the weekend, in this no disqualification match against “All Ego” Ethan Page that involved tables, ladders, chairs, garbage cans, balconies, and some other gimmick I’m probably forgetting. It’s a staple of any classic blood feud: A hatred that runs so deep it can only be settled with the rulebook out the window. It’s an extremely well-told story all around, especially for an all-out brawl, but it’s the final spot that’s absolutely can’t-miss.—PD
The RevPro show at the WrestleCon hotel didn’t seem to get as much attention as the other big British indie show this weekend from Progress, but it was still a fun lineup that included a solid Zack Sabre Jr. vs. Penta el 0M match, and a predictably fast-paced bout between Will Ospreay and Rey Fenix. But the best match on the show, and one of the best matches I saw all weekend, pitted Ricochet against Marty Scurll, and like most matches on this show, it started with a healthy amount of comedy. (This was the same show that saw Michael Elgin do the worm during a tag match.) It illustrated the diversity and flexibility of wrestling today—a match that started with Ricochet and Scurll putting personal spins on iconic moves from the Rock and Steve Austin turned into a crisp exhibition that seamlessly mixed Ricochet’s state-of-the-art high-flying with Scurll’s technical mastery. These two mesh very well.—GM
The build for this match felt like it started the moment Asuka won the belt. She is without question one of the most dominant woman wrestlers in the WWE sphere, and certainly one of the company’s best workers. She outclassed every opponent she came across for more than a year, and for a while, it didn’t look like there was anyone who could hang with her. Enter Ember Moon, who hit the scene as dominantly as Asuka, but until Saturday, didn’t have an opportunity to show she could really work. With a little bit of time and a game opponent, Moon looked incredible, with a fluidity and comfort we hadn’t seen from her since she debuted. The match itself was a great back and forth, and for the first time since she became champion, it looked like Asuka might actually lose. She didn’t, but neither woman walked away looking bad: Asuka cemented a new heel persona with a cheap tactic at the finish, and Moon walked away with a still-protected finisher and a rematch in the cards.—PD
Here’s Tyler Bate defending a WWE title on a non-WWE show, playing a cocky heel in his home promotion as opposed to the white meat babyface he would play later in the weekend at WWE shows, and taking moves that have long been banned in WWE, like the vertebreaker. WrestleMania weekend is weird. The Progress show illustrated the deep impact New Japan has had on the wrestling industry of late, with matches like this and Matt Riddle vs. Trent Seven following a template that should be familiar to New Japan World subscribers (or AXS TV watchers.) This is a match full of reversals, counters and quick bursts of retaliatory violence immediately after taking major moves, and although that might sound a little too videogame-like for some, it was all delivered smoothly and steadily built the tension and drama up to the finish. The 25-year-old Andrews somehow already has over a decade of experience, and his near-flawless execution and knowledge of pacing and psychology make him a great opponent for Bate, who is just barely not a teenager anymore.—GM
Once again, the NXT tag team division steals the show, with the Revival and DIY continuing their trend of brilliant in-ring storytelling, this time with a shared monster heel adversary. There’s so much to like about this match: A brief union between longtime rivals, the trading finishers, the double submission hold on one of the big men. The story going into this elimination triple threat match was that in order for the titles to change hands one of these teams would have to pin or submit the Authors of Pain, something that had never happened. But for a while, it looked like it actually could. DIY was the first team to face elimination, a decision that seemed to suck some of the air out of the room. But that momentum eventually returned, building to a somewhat predictable but nonetheless satisfying conclusion. It played like a farewell to the Revival, who will move to the main roster sooner than later, and maybe even to DIY, who seem to have done everything they can do in the NXT tag division. Most importantly, it succeeded in making the Authors of Pain look unbeatable. So when they eventually are, it’ll be that much more satisfying to watch.—PD
I wouldn’t have thought that I had a measurable Progress bias a week ago, but maybe now I do, as the British promotion put on what was easily the single most enjoyable show I saw all week. The main event saw Progress World Champion Pete Dunne, the so-called “bruiserweight” brawler who’s familiar to anybody who watched WWE’s UK tournament, take on high-flying veteran Mark Haskins in another match-up of youth vs. slightly less youthful youth. It was another crisp, hard-worked, New Japan-style match, with the added element of Dunne’s Progress mates Tyler Bate and Trent Seven regularly trying to interfere in the early portions. Once they were evicted and it settled down into a purely one-on-one affair, Dunne and Haskins put on a clinic, with Dunne using signature moves from both Triple H and William Regal for the easy anti-WWE heat. It might not be as great as the South Pacific Power Trip tag match from the same show, but it was a worthy main event that ended Progress’s first American event on a high note.—GM