By Brad Carroll
With WrestleMania 34 fully in the books, with fans nearly universally praising the first half of the show and destroying the second half, there’s a lot to discuss the morning after. It was a long and exhausting night, with over seven hours of WWE Network coverage to ingest and hopefully not end up with an upset stomach, which seemed to happen anyway when Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns finally hit the ring for their title match, but we all survived in the end.
By now you know who won and who lost, but we’re going to go much deeper than that in our WrestleMania review, breaking down the biggest winners and losers from the event, which has nothing to do with who got their hand raised in victory or not.
Below is our Raw winners and losers. Click here for our SDLive winners and losers. Read our WrestleMania 34 Raw previews and predictions here.
Ronda Rousey: There’s no doubt who the biggest winner from WrestleMania was Sunday night. Rousey couldn’t have had a more impressive debut, both taking the fight to Stephanie McMahon with some impressive and innovative offense, and to Triple H as well, which was even more incredible because everything she did was believable. The roll-through pick-up of Triple H was eye-opening. She came across as dominate, but still sold Stephanie’s offense when she had to. And her armbar submission is one of the few finishers on the roster where you actually feel like once she puts it on, it’s a believable precursor to a quick tap out. Triple H, Stephanie and Kurt Angle deserve praise too for making Rousey look good and giving this match, which really could have been terrible, into one of the best moments and matches of the night. Rousey was incredible and lived up to the hype. Even though she probably still has a long way to go in being able to put together a full match with a full-time women’s wrestler, we can worry about that later. This was as impressive a debut as it gets.
Undertaker: Amazingly, the Undertaker is still the most over wrestler in the world today. One gong was enough to send the crowd into its biggest pop of the night and go crazy when he finally appeared. Undertaker got his revenge on John Cena, but this really was more about sending one of the greatest of all time out with both a victory and a performance that everyone will remember as being vintage. It wasn’t long and it wasn’t pretty, but it was everything it needed to be. Plus, did you hear that pop? Legendary.
Nia Jax: She finally got her revenge on Alexa Bliss and won the Raw women’s championship in the process. Jax had some impressive power moves and left no doubt with a second-rope Samoan drop to finish off the match. Jax still has to get better, but this was a nice payoff to an uncomfortable storyline.
Braun Strowman & Nicholas: I’ll admit it, when Braun tagged the kid into the match I geeked out a bit. It was a fun, comedic moment that was needed at that point. That alone, plus the fact it was different and gave fans something to wrap their heads around that late in the night, gets both Strowman and the suddenly infamous Nicholas in the winners section. Strowman on his own deserves this moment, as he’s really carried the show for a year and finally gets rewarded with a title win. He’s had nothing but big losses (see Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns), so it was nice to see him on the other side of things for once. Now I’m just waiting for Monday Night Raw when Nicholas turns on Strowman and joins The Bar.
Seth Rollins: He’s the newest member of WWE’s grand slam club, gaining the final piece with a somewhat surprising intercontinental championship win over the Miz and Finn Balor. Rollins is also the final member of the Shield to accomplish the feat, which is also surprising. Rollins has a title to defend now, which is warranted after putting together some of the best in-ring performances of the past several months.
Roman Reigns: This was the one time everyone would have been OK with Roman winning the Universal championship, even if the place would have rained boos upon him after it happened, but WWE pulled a fast one on the fans, having Brock Lesnar win again. Reigns left a bloody mess and a beaten man. During the match, Reigns kicked out of four or five F-5s, which only infuriated the crowd instead of the desired opposite effect, leading to a chant of “this is awful.” The match wasn’t awful on the surface, but the way it was booked, with the failed attempts to get Reigns over by making him kick out over and over again, and the fans sitting there until after midnight for the least-anticipated match of the night, it all equalled awful status. It wasn’t the right choice for the main event, that’s for sure. Reigns comes out of this match looking weaker than he ever has, and the WWE really needs to do something with him because nothing is working. He’s the same boring character he ever was. He never changed from his Shield days, which is simply amazing. That’s only part of the problem, but it’s the easiest one to fix. But right now, Reigns can’t be considered part of the Universal title picture, which means he’s got nowhere to go and nobody to feud with. There’s no doubt the biggest loser on this night is the one we all thought was going to end WrestleMania with confetti reigning down as he held the title over his head. I almost feel bad. Almost.
Brock Lesnar: He retained his Universal championship with a brutal beating of Roman Reigns, which typically would land him on the winners list, but most fans are ready for him to go away for good. I certainly am. The title is wasted on him, as he doesn’t appear on Raw and barely shows up for pay-per-views. Maybe this win means he resigned a contract with WWE, which would really be awful news. Nobody wants more of Brock Lesnar. We’ll see how things go on Raw, because there’s a lot of questions to be answered, mainly is he sticking around and if so who will step up as his next challenger. Nobody on the roster makes sense as a challenger, though, except for Finn Balor, and even he’s on our loser list as well.
Finn Balor: No intercontinental title for Balor, and unless WWE sees a him as a potential threat to Brock Lesnar and regain, or at least try to, the Universal title he never lost, there’s just nowhere to go from here for Balor. That seems like a common theme across both brands. But Monday Night Raw represents a new season for WWE and nobody needs a fresh start more than Finn Balor.
Sheamus & Cesaro: We all knew they were going to lose the Raw tag team titles Sunday night, but to do so to Braun Strowman and a kid was pretty insulting. It’s wrestling, so it really won’t matter in the end, but it just doesn't sit right. Plus, we all know that kid was a plant, so it really wasn’t as organic and fun as everyone thought originally. Strowman deserved a WrestleMania moment more than anyone else in this match, and he gets it, but Sheamus and Cesaro deserved better.
John Cena: For all those insults and personal shots at the Undertaker in demanding a match, all John Cena got in the end was about 30 seconds of offense during a squash loss. It really was exactly what Cena deserved considering the embarrassment that became of his weekly verbal assaults on the Undertaker, which only made Cena look like a whiny bully. At least Cena did the job for the Undertaker, which is a positive.