Gunther vs. Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre (WWE WrestleMania 39 Sunday 4/2/23)

Match Reviews

First reviewed here.

It almost feels redundant writing about this. The appeal is so immediately obvious and instant, and it’s not complex in the slightest. These three guys are going to spend 15 minutes or so hitting each other and hitting each other hard. That’s why it rocks so much, and there’s not too much going on under the surface of all that.

Beyond that, it’s really a matter of time and place. The hard-hitting action works especially well in a promotion like the WWE because it feels like such a deviation from the norm. Even among the WWE’s better wrestlers, action rarely feels quite so visceral. With these three, there’s a real tangible quality to everything going on. When you hear that smack of flesh on flesh, there’s an unquestionable realness to it all that stands in such stark contrast to so much else going on in the show. To do it at WrestleMania matters here too. There’s a real power to hearing all those big strikes and seeing them in this big, open air stadium. Watching that crowd come unglued and reacting to these massive blows just feels like a validation of the power of just absolutely going for it in the ring.

As much as it feels like Gunther’s responsible for pushing the violence here thanks to his willingness to receive and dish it out, the best performer of the match might just be Sheamus. Sheamus is hitting just as hard as anyone else and he’s given the space to really shine as the most babyface-leaning worker in the whole match. He has great moments like struggling to get McIntyre set up on the ropes so he can beat his chest in, then that slow zoom out on the hard cam once he completes dishing them out and McIntyre just folds beneath him.

Really, it’s Sheamus who functions as the emotional core to what’s mostly a meathead’s match. He’s the one who used to be partners with McIntyre, but also he’s the one with the most recent history feuding with Gunther as well. Outside of the obvious thing of just wanting to Gunther to win on the grounds of sheer talent, Sheamus is the one who’s able to come across the most likeable here. The match also gets worked to make his struggle feel the most important. When he and McIntyre work together to briefly take out Gunther, it’s Sheamus sense of betrayal at McIntyre breaking up a late pinfall that gives the match its stronger emotional thread.

But I can’t stress enough how secondary all that is to the fact that they just hit really hard. Hitting hard rules, do it more!

Rating: ****1/4

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