WrestleMania 40

Keep or Scrap: WrestleMania 40

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WrestleMania 40 has come and (sadly) gone. But it has left behind memories that will cement the beginning of this new generation while adding plenty to those that have been around for some time.

This year’s WrestleMania was an evening filled with positivity. We saw excellent in-ring action and beautiful character work. We also got the conclusion of most storylines handled in an immensely satisfying fashion leading to a WrestleMania you could argue is at the upper tier in the show’s history.

Unlike any show though, it was not without its drawbacks and positives. Let’s look back at WrestleMania 40 and what should be kept, and scrapped.

Keep: Finishing the Story

Everything about Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes II was borderline perfection. It’s arguably the most ambitious wrestling storytelling we’ve seen for the better part of a decade or two. It culminated in a match that wasn’t just a match… But an all-out spectacle to behold. This main event felt as much an ending as it did a tribute to previous generations in so many ways.

The in-ring action felt reminiscent of the Attitude Era with its chaotic booking and violence spilling all over the arena. Unlike some of Roman’s matches, the run-ins felt logical and, more importantly, earned due to the elevated stakes. Michael Cole’s commentary was the best I may have heard from him, as was Samantha Irving’s ring announcing that only added to the emotion. Every near-fall had us on the edge of our seats, and the closing 10 minutes will be replayed forever.

Cody Rhodes overcoming every obstacle in front of him throughout the last few years is more than just a professional story. This felt inspirational for many chasing larger things in life. A bloated, ridiculous main event that earned its absurdity, cemented a new babyface megastar. It also ended the most iconic championship reign in decades.

Scrap: Brother vs. Brother

Family feud matches have historically been overlooked in WrestleMania history. Shane vs. Vince at WrestleMania 17, Matt vs. Jeff at WrestleMania 25, Bret vs. Owen at WrestleMania X, each spectacle in their unique way showed chemistry between them. However, on this occasion, it was sadly far from the case.

Rather than an emotional blow-off between brothers, what we got was substantially below expectations. A match containing mediocre melodrama, and a plethora of superkicks felt pedestrian, as if it belonged on episode of RAW. Despite being one of the weaker programs heading into the show, fan expectations were at the very least that the in-ring chemistry Jimmy & Jey held as a team would transfer to a singles match. Unfortunately, that was far from the case. By no means the worst match ever seen, it was just a match that didn’t need the spot it was handed.

Keep: Presentation Changes

Social media has been up in arms over this and for good reason. It has been a long time since WWE was presented on-screen in such a beautiful way. The product feels more dynamic, flowing far better without resorting to constant repetition of camera angles and editing choices for virtually all of its events.

Triple H’s team have done a superb job at adding another element to a product that for so long felt overly formulaic. Incorporating backstage walkouts and connective camerawork between segments is a simple, but welcome change that has made a difference. Most notably, in-ring action feels more unpredictable with its framing and cut-offs while allowing wrestlers to more effectively tell stories. These could be changes that took too long to come into place. But it’s good to have them now rather than never.

Scrap: Product Placement

On the note of presentation changes, one that maybe just irked this writer was the stark increase in product placement. Whether it was Prime which was center stage throughout both shows, Snickers, C4 Energy, Wheatley Vodka, Wingstop or Dude Wipes, it was distracting. Especially when you consider how the company upped its usage of LED technology in recent years. The ringside area, apron, barricade and ramp alone were enough before iShowSpeed popped out of a Prime bottle and got dismantled by Randy Orton.

In a clear effort to mimic the vibe of professional sports brands such as the UFC who have countless octagon sponsors, it felt slightly jarring at a WrestleMania. None of this necessarily deteriorated the in-ring work, nor did it compromise the storytelling. But it felt like a change we could do without. Considering the brand deals made, it’s likely to remain where it is.

Keep: Women Stealing The Show

Nobody has spoken about this enough, but the WWE may have established the strongest women’s roster we’ve seen in a very long time. Not only is star power on the rise with the recent arrival of Jade Cargill, but they’re delivered big-time on both nights of WrestleMania.

Rhea Ripley vs. Becky Lynch was a fantastic opening contest to the weekend’s festivities and boasted a legitimate big fight feeling. The six-women tag match of Night One might not have been a barn burner. But it established several women who will elevate this division for years. Lastly, Bayley finally toppling Io Sky to secure her first singles championship since 2020 was a feel-good moment on a show packed with them.

At one point women on these shows were relegated to stripping down for audience amusement. Seeing them come as far as they have to create the stories they have is truly uplifting.

Keep: Letting The Future Shine

For the first time in a very long time, WWE’s constant insistence that we’ve entered a new era doesn’t sound like a talking point we hear every 8 to 12 months. Something is different this time around… There’s an aura in the current product that is unlike previous claims of new eras or putting the WWE Universe first. A unique voice and vision has legitimately changed things to adjust with the times.

A good example is the current star power. The roster is no longer packed with an (at times) overreliance on established stars from yesterday. Cody Rhodes, Jey Uso, LA Knight, Gunther, Damian Priest, Rhea Ripley and Logan Paul of all people don’t feel at all out of place in a ring next to long-standing industry veterans. They’ve been built to carry the next generation forward. And I for one, couldn’t be more excited to see what’s next.

Keep: Cody’s Post-Match Celebration

The ending to WrestleMania 40 was special. Not just because it marked the end of Romas’ historic championship run. Moreso because what happened felt nostalgic in a way many won’t realize. Post-match celebrations on the magnitude we saw Sunday night aren’t common, they’re generational.

Bret Hart defeating Yokozuna at WrestleMania X, Sting defeating Hogan at Starrcade 1997 and Mankind defeating The Rock on RAW in 1999. AJ Styles’ first TNA World Title win in 2009 and Dusty Rhodes defeating Ric Flair in 1986… Each of these victories came with celebrations few are ever granted. They’re the mark of a key moment that stands the test of time. The kind that defines careers, events and generations for years to come. Sunday night’s post-match celebration for Cody Rhodes was an endorsement from industry icons. It was a shift to a new generation of wrestling.

Cody Rhodes finally got his moment to become immortal in the industry.

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