It’s WrestleMania time again. It’s the night to stay up late as WWE puts on it’s longest and supposedly best show of the year. This year was no exception as it clocked in at over seven hours and offered some of the best feel good moments of the year. That being said there’s sixteen matches to dissect so let’s get into it.
A New Nese on Life
WrestleMania had a lot of title changes. The first came in the form of the Cruiserweight title. Buddy Murphy and Tony Nese put on a hard-hitting affair that kept fans on the edge of their seats. It was a battle of two former friends and massive powerhouses trying to batter one another. Both men kicked out of finishers and both men hit moves that wouldn’t usually be seen on the main roster. We got the pair hitting the Kamigoye, a Dudebuster and Poison Rana between them. It was an excellent opening bout and excited the people who were there to see it. It’s a shock to see Murphy dethroned but at least it went to someone charismatic that people like.
Battle Royal Antics
Both battle royals provided their fair share of fun on the kick-off show. The women’s battle royal was a war where most people got a chance to shine and everyone got some licks in. The ladies who benefitted the most were Nikki Cross, who started off manically, Naomi and Ember Moon who got some air time to fight, The Riott Squad as they worked as a unit and Sarah Logan almost won the whole thing, Dana Brooke as she eliminated two of said squad and lastly Asuka as she was taking names left right and centre. She seemed unstoppable until Logan threw her over the top rope.
In the end though Carmella won it by being sneaky and coming in when the ring had been cleared to fight Logan for the victors spot. In the end she won with a Superkick. It was a satisfying end to a surprisingly competitive match.
The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal was a bit more predictable. The ring was clearing at a rapid rate as bodies went flying and jobbers were kicked out at a fast pace. Braun destroyed, Luke Harper had a blast and Heavy Machinery got to show off. The Hardy Boyz almost made it to the end but suffered at the hands of Braun Strowman. The SNL guys, Colin Jost and Michael Che hid instantly and tried to eliminate Braun but failed. He punched Che in the mouth on the way out and Jost was Running Powerslammed out of the ring into a mob of wrestlers. Braun won and posed with the trophy. This one may have been more predictable than the women’s but it was still fun enough for what it was. The SNL guys had some laughs and Jost almost won it. The spot of the match goes to a double elimination as Harper and Mustafa Ali were eliminated at the same time. Harper was trying to Suplex Ali out of the ring but Braun booted them both out. Ali looked like he had a rough landing but tweeted out that he was fine later on in the show.
The Streak Ends
The proper feel good moment came in the form of a streak being broken. That streak was Curt Hawkins legendary losing streak. He and partner Zack Ryder were able to overcome the bullying heels the Revival to win the RAW Tag Titles and finally etch one in Hawkins win column. The match itself was an example of good ol’ fashioned tag team wrestling as the Revival cut the ring in half and would bully Ryder until he finally escaped. They basically refused to take Hawkins seriously as a threat.
In the end, though, it would be Hawkins who won the match as he took a Brainbuster on the outside and played dead until he could snag a roll up in the ring. That achieves the three count and a shocked Hawkins celebrates with Ryder. They probably won’t keep the belts very long but at least the pair got to share a heartfelt Mania moment and the Revival got to show off how good at being a tag team they are once again. They worked their match and dominated about 90% of the match, only losing because of arrogance and luck.
So Long, Brock
I toyed with putting this match in the weird column due to how odd it was but decided I simply had to put Brock losing the Universal title in the good section. When Brock is willing to work he’s an excellent asset to the company but as far as champions go he is terrible. At least this way he can come and go as he pleases without holding a primary belt hostage at the same time. This match ended up opening the show and mainly featured Brock throwing Seth around. He attacked before the bell, throwing Seth around the ringside area then turning the action in ring and going to Suplex City. However, one ref bump later, he’s clutching his balls and eating three Stomps from Seth.
The Beast Slayer used his own dirty trick to take Brock’s power out of the equation and quickly finished him with a trio of finishers. His victory should be good for the division as the belt may finally be defended regularly again but the brevity and odd structure of the match soured the experience a bit. However it was funny to watch Brock’s reactions after the match and the way he scowled at people as he headed for the back.
Smackdown Tag Rocks
Once again Smackdown’s tag division knocks it out of the park as it’s Fatal Four Way delivered a fast paced, chaotic showcase of what all four teams were capable of. No team felt like a weak link as they all meshed together well to make the others look good. Ricochet and Black had an excellent first Mania as they came within milliseconds of winning at one point and continuously impressed with their speed and striking, the Usos knew just when to interrupt and how to pick their moments, the Bar were merciless going after everyone and Cesaro must have spent a good minute swinging Ricochet as Sheamus beat everyone with the Bodhran. Even the overlooked team of Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura managed to keep themselves relevant as the match went on. After a nasty finisher sequence the Usos managed to retain after a Double Us Splash. This was a frantic, relatively quick match that offered plenty of excitement. Definitely one to watch.
Here Comes the Madness (We need more George)
Who saw Miz and Shane being a potential match of the night? Probably very few people I’m guessing. This was madness from almost start to finish. Shane started by acting petulant and underhandedly attack Miz before once again going for Miz’s dad George and really angering him.
Shane would still maintain the upper hand and after clubbing Miz with a monitor was set to put him through a table. Instead, George gets in the ring, with his amazing expression skills, and tries to fight Shane. Shane destroys him but Miz gets back into the match, gets his dad attended to then proceeds to beat the absolute hell out of Shane. He throws him into the crowd, beats him with a chair and even Clotheslines him off the stand onto a golf cart. The two fought up to the hard cam scaffolding where Miz delivers a Skull Crushing Finale to the exposed wood but Shane kicks out. They then make their way up the scaffolding where the pair trade Superplex attempts before Miz finally launches them both off the top. They both land in a broken heap with Shane on top. The ref counts this as a pin fall and Shane steals the victory despite doing next to nothing for the latter half of the match.
It’s the perfect way to carry on their story and offered up the perfect match to fit it’s stipulation. It was a nice change of pace from previous matches and really played up the Miz’s new aggression. Heel Shane is a riot to watch and his wind ups were hilarious. The obvious highlight was George trying to throw down so you should totally go out of your way to see this match.
An IIconic Victory
Okay, I need to preface this next point. A lot of people will have thought this was not a good match. It was a sloppy bout with some clearly awkward interactions but it still had it’s positive moments. Mainly the attires worn, the excellent in ring return of Beth Phoenix in a PPV setting and the fact the IIconics won.
The last part further boosted by the fact the won in a manner perfect for them as a team. Beth Phoenix hit a super Glam Slam but the IIconics threw her out of the ring and capitalised on her finisher to take the tag titles. They proved they were the smartest team in the ring and now can hold the belts on the Blue Brand making other teams come to them.
This next moment ties with a later one for most feel good moment of Mania. Kofi Kingston finally won the big one. He beat Daniel Bryan in a highly competitive and enthralling bout to finally capture one of the belts that has eluded him his whole career. He was able to celebrate with his New Day friends with a newly crafted custom belt, alongside his children and a new shirt that Xavier and Big E had produced for this occasion. However, this moment did not come easily as Bryan made him work for it. There was several times where the crowd thought all was lost as Bryan hit finishers or locked on nearly inescapable submission locks.
Kofi started strong but injured his ribs by colliding with the announcer table. Bryan capitalised on this injury and did everything in his power to soften up this target and exploit it to it’s fullest effect. Rowan would eventually get involved trying to defend Bryan and attacking the New Day but was dispatched with the Up Up Down Down on the outside. In the end, the crowd willed Kofi back into the match and he was able to finish Bryan off with the Trouble in Paradise. It’s was a truly heart-warming sight that left almost everyone feeling emotional. It was a happy conclusion to one of the best organic storylines in WWE history. The crowd was behind him and it truly felt like a reward for eleven years of dedication to the company. Congratulations to you Kofi Kingston.
Drax the Destroyed
Growing up with this rivalry made me anticipate this match more than a lot of people probably did. To some it’s just two older guys slowly pummeling each other for an extended period of time. To others it was one final fight to end a feud that had burned on for years. The final answer to the question of who’s better and the final nail in the coffin of the wrestling career of David Batista. This answer came in the form of a no holds barred fight that actually offered some rather gruesome spots.
Early on, HHH introduced a tool box into the match and took glee in prying at the fingers of Batista and even wrenched out Batista’s nose ring with players. In return he was brutalised with the steps and smashed against the announce tables. The two may have moved slower but there was still in ring chemistry there and they made sure to keep the brutality at a high to distract from any shortcomings. Batista went through the announcer’s table, was Powerbombed onto the ring steps and hit with a Pedigree but still managed to kick out at two. It would take some Nature Boy interference and a Sledgehammer blow to the head to soften him up enough for a second Pedigree. That final move would keep him down and allowed HHH to carry on his wrestling career. He had finally beaten Batista in a match. A task he could never do when he was younger.
It should also be mentioned that HHH also had another amazing Mania entrance, this time being driven down to the ring in a Mad Max style Hot Rod following a rather cartoonish CGI screen played. It was silly yet also incredibly badass once the Hot Rod actually came out onto the stage. As a fan of the Mad Max series this was especially cool to see.
Going Out like a Pro
Kurt Angle is one of the best professional wrestlers there has and ever will be. He gave so many years to the business and was pivotal in so many classic matches with a wealth of opponents in many different promotions over the years. Tonight marked his last match. His final opponent was Baron Corbin and he lost after going for one final Moonsault and missing. This set him up for the End of Days and one last loss. He had given the fans one last showcase of his abilities including two trios of German Suplexes, an Ankle Lock and an Angle Slam as well as possessing the resiliency to kick out of the Deep Six. If it weren’t for the Moonsault attempt he may very well have won. Corbin took the win and scarpered (probably before anyone could throw anything at him) leaving Kurt to address the crowd one final time and revelling in one last ovation. Thank you Kurt for going out putting someone over and for all the memories I have of amazing matches.
The Demon Comes to New York
This was way better than anyone expected it to be. Whenever the demon comes out, it’s serious business. The demon never loses and the last time he was seen he squashed Baron Corbin. This time he’d targeted Bobby Lashley and it looked like we’d get a repeat of the Demon’s last match. instead we got a quick but competitive match where Lashley (sporting some demonic contacts of his own) nearly bested the Demon through his power game. He delivered a devastating Spear to the outside and another one inside the ropes. Unfortunately the Demon kicked out and was able to plant Lashley with a Powerbomb. This set up for the Coup de Grace and the end of Bobby Lashley’s reign as IC champion. This was way better than a long entrance to a 20 second squash match. It was quick but Bobby was able to stand tall against the Demon and gave the audience an actual match.
‘The Man’ Becky Two Belts
WrestleMania 35 made history by being the first Mania to have a women’s match as the main event. It was the much-anticipated winner takes all match between Charlotte Flair, Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch. Both women’s titles were on the line and as previously stated the winner would take home both titles.
It started out vicious and never stopped as the hatred between all three lead to some straight up brawling and plenty of moves between the trio. Rousey was obviously trying to take control early on being the shoot fighter and supposed toughest of the three but got worked over by Lynch and Charlotte until the pair went back to fighting one another. There was never a long stretch where one person was in control.
Momentum continuously shifted as one woman would look badass then the next would and it would keep going as the pendulum swung and the match went on. There were a lot of submission spots as Becky and Ronda traded Arm Bar attempts whilst Charlotte obviously tried to soften up her opponents for the Figure 8. Becky introduced a table that Ronda tried to dismiss but ended up tasting it when she was smashed into it. Charlotte hit a Spanish Fly off the top rope and locked in a Figure 4 around the ring post but ended being the person to bounce off the table when it didn’t break. This took her out of the match allowing Becky to get a surprising if contentious win over Rousey by locking her in a pin fall attempt after a Piper’s pit.
It was debatable as to whether Rousey’s shoulders were up or not but the refs count is final and it was announced that Becky had won even if it was a bit sudden. The crowd erupted and Becky got the final shot of the night celebrating with her hard-earned belts. It was a fitting main event match worthy of it’s place. All three women delivered an exceptional match and certainly took their lumps to ensure it lived up to the hype.
A common problem with all WWE PPV’s is there are often matches that feel like they don’t need to be on the card. That was no different here. Now some of these matches weren’t bad but they lacked a certain spark to bring them to the next level. They were stuck in second gear and never really got the crowd going. These included AJ vs Orton which delivered on a technical level but didn’t seem to wow the crowd. A lot of people will have expected Orton to win with a crazy RKO which never happened.
There was also the squash match between Joe and Rey that may have been limited due to injury but it had been reported that Rey had been cleared. If they wanted to have a clear winner, why not take the Balor/Bobby approach and make it more competitive but still keep the quickness. Joe should look strong, he’s a monster after all but have it take more than one move.
The biggest casualty of this was Drew/Roman. It’s excellent to see both men have a singles match at WrestleMania and it’s great to see Roman back and fighting but the match felt like a RAW match. It had some select moments but never excelled past a good RAW match. That hurt to write as I’m a fan of both men but that’s my opinion. I get that you need matches to provide breathers and let a crowd rest but this card had too many, especially for the length. Speaking of…
Quantity Over Quality
16 matches… this card had sixteen matches spread across seven and a half hours. That is way too many to get fully invested in. towards the latter half of the card more and more matches started falling victim to this as the crowd just didn’t have the energy. There were less reactions to big match moments and general indifference shown as time went on. It’s nice to fit a lot of people on the card and ensure people get their moments but sometimes it should be quality instead of quantity. Some matches could have been condensed, some removed and oddly enough a couple could have done with minor extensions. There were random breaks for comedy and a very badly timed dance break. WrestleMania is a big deal yes but not a seven and a half hour big deal.
This is a minor nit-pick so it goes in the weird column. Why was Hulk Hogan necessary? He was in New York for the Hall of Fame yes but that didn’t mean he should be given time on the Mania show too. Yes, he may be a WWE icon and yes he is still incredibly popular but there are still people who don’t want to see him. He’s making progress building bridges backstage so I suppose it was a sign of good will maybe but to me the whole thing just felt forced. He delivered a few lines, struck some poses then was gone. It was a weird, awkward way to open the show that seemed to have no real point at all.
Word Life Crisis
I’m genuinely not sure how to react to the Elias performance. On the one hand Elias performing with other versions of himself was a unique take on the one man band and was actually genuinely entertaining. Unfortunately all that seemed to be a set up for the Doctor of Thuganomics to make a masturbation joke when he appeared to interrupt Elias.
Now a lot of people like this version of Cena and I’ll admit some of his lines were fun throw backs to the character and things he used to do but at the same time this screamed midlife crisis to me. This is the second time Cena has buried Elias at Mania, I just don’t get the rationale behind bringing back the Doctor of Thuganomics. I’m probably in the minority here as the Twitter reception to the segment was incredibly positive. Oh, and if Elias really did play the drums and piano then he really is a talented musician.
So there you have it, the good, the bad and the weird from Wrestlemania 35. As you can see good heavily outweighs everything else and even then the bad is heavily subjective. Almost everything is enjoyable in some way. This was a really solid show and it managed to deliver several feel good wins for popular stars, the climax of Kofimania and gave us the first women’s Mania main event. There’s so much to enjoy here that anyone could find a match they’d enjoy. Miz/Shane wins the award for being the most chaotic and I’d love to see more of George Mizanin. Now all eyes will be forward as we have two very important shows coming up, the RAW and Smackdown after Mania. We could be in for a whole host of surprises.
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