What a weekend for sports entertainment as things got kicked off in New York Friday night with another overachieving NXT Takeover. Then transitioned into Saturday’s WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony and culminated Sunday night with the 12-match WrestleMania main card living up to the hype and then some. Epic matches, multiple title changes. Long standing grudges settled, a few surprises, guest ring-side announcers and a bit of controversy in the main event?
Overall the show lived up to expectations as Seth Rollins the Beast Slayer won the Universal Championship. In all six titles changed hands. The show had a few surprise moments with Hogan and John Cena making unexpected appearances.
The zenith of the night for sure occurred half-way through the card with the epic WWE Championship match between The New Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston. The over five hour event never again hit that same mark as far as fan provided enthusiasm and vocal electricity was concerned.
The event was electric all night, but the noise was deafening as Kingston earned his historic victory in a great match.
Main Card Kickoff
WrestleMania 35 host Alexa Bliss first took the stage and informed the crowd that if she wanted a WrestleMania moment all she had to do was snap her fingers.
And Bliss did just as the music switched to the theme of the Real American as Hulk Hogan returned to the main event for a brief announcement to the 80,000 Hulkamaniacs in attendance. That sentiment was received by a vocally indifferent Met Life Stadium crowd via mostly enthusiastic and supportive cheers mixed with some audible grumblings as well.
This after intentionally calling MetLife Stadium the Silverdome to the groans of the crowd, site for Hogan’s biggest moment in WrestleMania 3 back in 1987 then correcting himself by saying MetLife Center.
Seth Rollins defeats Brock Lesnar by pinfall – Universal Championship
Before the Hulkster could leave the stage the advocate of the reigning, defending, undisputed WWE Heavyweight Champion of the World Brock Lesnar, Paul Heyman abruptly walked out during the playing of Hogan’s music.
And as usual Heyman took the mic for a public announcment in the center of the ring. Heyman informed the crowd that if Brock wouldn’t close the show, then the Beast would get things started first and hit the jet out of town.
Which is what happened as WrestleMania 35 got started with a normally show-closing caliber match.
Lesnar attacked Rollins before Seth could even get into the ring and by the time the bell rang to begin, The Beast Slayer was already spent.
The match was unexpectedly shorter than anticipated though appropriately physical as the two battled.
But thanks to an inadvertent knock down of the referee, Rollins took the opportunity to upper-hand Lesnar in the family jewels, so to speak. What followed was three brutal head stomps to the champion and a 1-2-3 victory for Rollins.
Match Fallout: Brock Lesnar may have wrestled his last match in the WWE for quite some time at least. Brock is now without a belt and barley appears on TV when he was champion. What motivation is there now for Brock to fight unless a belt is on the line?
Rumor has it that Brock will expectably return to the UFC. Losing the belt only reaffirms that.
A.J. Styles defeats Randy Orton
Side note, Randy Orton is the most overly underutilized wrestler in the WWE. His talent far outweighs the status Orton holds amongst his modern peers.
What a match this turned out to be as well. Randy Orton put the Phenomenal One through an incredibly devastating towering superplex off the top rope from at least 10 feet in the air. Then hit Styles with an RKO to follow and A.J. incredibly survived a punishing five-minute stretch. Orton thought he had the match won multiple times but Styles managed to kick out repeatedly.
Orton went for another high wire assault with an RKO attempt from the top rope but Styles slipped out and super kicked Orton to the head.
Styles hit a Phenomenal forearm to the head of Orton outside the ring. Once Orton returned, A.J. once again threw down another Phenomenal forearm off the top rope this time inside the ring and that took down the Viper as Styles got the pinfall victory.
Match Fallout: Styles took a pretty impressive beating down the stretch and yet, pulled out the victory. So he can continue to maintain his top-tier status on Smackdown and since no titles changed hands, can expect a TV rematch quiet soon or move on to get back into the title mix.
Fatal 4-Way: The Usos defeat Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev, Ricochet and Aleister Black, The Bar and Sheamus – Smackdown Tag Team Championship
A quality match for the SmackDown tag team title. A back and forth extended battle that ended when Sheamus took a pair of super kicks from the Usos collectively and then dueling splashes from each corner from Jimmy and Jey The Usos retained the titles with the 1-2-3.
Match Fallout: The Usos continue their run as they look to establish themselves as an all-time best tag team in the WWE. Before the match, they were my pick to win for just that reason. Sheamus and the Bar had no chance and Rusev and Nakamura are not know as a true tag team, though have fought some good matches together recently.
Falls Count Anywhere: Shane McMahon defeats The Miz (And Father)
Another pretty epic battle between now bitter rivals Shane-O-Mac and The Miz led to the top of a camera tower in the back of the arena where the Miz took no mercy on and injured knee of the younger McMahon. Shane begging and apologizing atop the camera tower only led to a beating as the Miz then superplexed McMahon down upon an appropriate convenient pile of rubber matts.
Unfortunately for the Miz, Shane’s left arm ended up on top as the referee then counted down for the pin giving the victory to Mr. Dollar-Dollar bill ya’ll.
Match Fallout: This feud is sure to continue on SmackDown as The Miz will be looking to avenger further the beating his father took at the hands of Mr. McMan’s son after dropping the match he was in position to win.
Women’s Fatal 4-Way: The IIconics defeat Sasha Banks and Bailey, Nia Jax and Tamina, Natalya and WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix – Women’s Tag Team Championship
The team of Natalya and Beth Phoenix got a last minute pep-talk as the 2-time WWE Hall of Famer Brett “The Hitman” Heart offered a moment of support before the ladies left down the ramp to the ring.
Billie Kay and Payton Royce (The IIconics) controlled the action early with an aggressive attack and sound teamwork but then disappeared for a stretch as The Boss and Hug Connection got it on with Beth Pheonix and Natalya
The IIconics took advantage of the moment and earned a victory using that face-first power bomb Bailey as Phoenix went for the pin, Billie Kay returned to the ring and tossed aside Pheonix and covered a helpless Bailey for the 1-2-3 victory.
Match Fallout: The first real shock of the night as The IIconics earned a surprising yet, deserving victory. Absolutely my favorite women’s tag team right now, as there adorably annoying commentaries and impromptu in-ring posing after big moments is quite entertaining.
The only question will be how long before The IIconics lose their titles? Will their run be short lived? Or is the WWE setting this pair up for a long reign as champions? And which shows will they defend their titles first?
Kofi Kingston defeats Daniel Bryan – WWE Championship
What a buildup for this match. Kofimania was running wild and if ever there was a more despised heel than The New Daniel Bryant recently, I can’t recall. The MetLife Stadium crowd was in full support of the 11-year veteran making his first appearance in a main even on most significant card of the year WrestleMania.
Shots from the lockeroom displayed almost the full roster of WWE superstars rooting on Kofi from the back.
Kofi controlled much of the action early in the back and fourth affair as both combatants displayed their athleticism.
Kofi missed on a huge flying high dive attack out of the ring as the champion slid out of the way as the B+ player smacked the announces table face first. The tables turned as Bryan then begin to enforce his will.
Bryan used another mistake and caught Kingston in a Boston Crab hold of which Kofi managed to get to the rope for a mandatory break
Kingston got caught on the turnbuckle as the champion attempted multiple attempts to arm smash and suplex only to get caught with multiple elbows from Kofi to the head before Bryan dropped to the canvas.
After and exchange of strikes in the center ring, led to an exchange of kicks, to submission holds, in/outiside the ring. The crowd was frantic following multiple escapes the tension was palpable. The stadium was in full-voice as each wrestler came within a half-count of earning the 1-2-3 but every team each kicked out.
The end came as the two grappled and exchanged submission attempts as Kofi returned the favor of multiple head stomps before applying a spinning flying superkick to the champion’s head and took the quick 3-count for the celebritory victory as the crowd erupted with support. The victory was highlighted with a fireworks show as well.
Kofi was the presented his belts by the New Day and was joined by his kids in-ring for the celebration.
Match Fallout: The former champion will not be satisfied with the results and a televised rematch should be soon to follow.
Samoa Joe defeats Rey Mysterio – United States Championship
Rey Misterio had no apparent chance in this one from the start as before the match even got its legs, it ended via submission of Rey Mysterio while in the Coquina Clutch of the big Samoan.
Rey landed his trademark 619 kick but was unable to capitalize and when the masked man went for a splash off the top rope was caught and taken down to the mat submitted.
Match Fallout: Samao Joe is making good on his prediction to be the most respected US Champion yet. And a quick submission only extends the mountain to climb for anyone seeking to take the title. Joe now needs a new challenger. One that can actually take his title with power vs. speed.
Roman Reigns defeats Drew McIntyre
Following-up the United States Championship match that was a bit of a non-starter, Roman Reigns returned to WrestleMania and faced the Irish Psychopath McIntyre. A battle of two evenly match competitors ultimately when the way of the Big Dog when Reigns finally landed his Superman punch and followed that up with a spear takedown for the pinfall.
Match Fallout – Reigns is now back and will most likely get another push to the top even though as a talent the Big Dog is one of the most polarizing figures in WWE history. Most everyone publicly seems to bash Reigns yet prior to Becky Lynch taking over the lead in merchandising sales, Roman gear was tops in products sold for the WWE.
Interlude – Elias plays with himself
Elias has been promising an epic performance at WrestleMania 35 and somehow managed to play the drums, piano on camera while holding his normal position with guitar in the center of the ring. Promising an epic song his next effort was interrupted by a special bulletin on the screen that transitioned to a video of Babe Ruth montage which then turned into a lesson in Thuganomics thanks to an old school John Cena with silver rope chain, Ruth Yankees jersey and backward Yankees cap.
Cena began to rap insults to the stunned Elias as the crowd roared with each jab. Talking led to a single-handed punch to the face of the wannabe musician, followed by a 5-knucle shuffle and slam before Cena exited as quickly as he entered.
Match Fallout: So, is Cena back and kicking it old school? During his rap, Cena announced that the crowd was about to watch him “turn heel”. Another wrestler turned actor, it would be great to see John back especially if he does intend to continue performing in the sport entertainment business, injuries withstanding. Otherwise, these one-off performance are wasted.
No Holds Barred: Triple H defeats Batista
The grudge-match a decade in the making as Triple H got his first chance to put his hands on Batista for the ambush attack on Rick Flair during his 70th birthday episode of Raw some weeks back.
Batista arrived in a Cadillac Escalade and was flanked by a squad of men in black looking security as he exited down the ramp. Not to be outdone, Triple H was driven onto the stage and entrance ramp in a Road Warrior looking rat-rod in full futuristic wasteland garb.
The match got going with a toolbox smash and chain rope beating of Batista at the hands of Triple H. Then the Cerebral Assassin took a pair of channel locks to the hand of The Animal. That followed by a chair shot to the back and then removal of Batista’s nose ring with a pair of pliers in the middle of the ring. Triple H proudly showed it to the cameras.
Batista was sure regretting this match at this point but finally mounted an attack of his own with a slam on the announcers table. Then a slam to the Spanish announcers table. Then once again on the Spanish table.
The Animal then returned a chair shot of his own as the two made their way back into the ring.
The two battle and as Triple H attempted The Pedigree but Batista turned it into a reverse slam. Then tossed Triple H out of the ring.
At this point, Batista put the ring steps on the Spanish announce table and set Triple H up for a Batista bomb, only to have that reversed in a slam on to the US table. Then the German table was no match for a charging Triple H and crushing tackle causing the table to collapse from the impact of the two men crushing down on it.
For sure this was a brutal match and I couldn’t help wonder why the now pretty successful movie star Batista would want to chance serious injury in this physical of a match. But, thankfully for us fans, he did.
Formerly Hunter Hearst Helmsley then pulled his weapon of choice the sledgehammer out from under the ring but as he attempted to use it was speared and taken down.
After a Batista bomb, Drax went for the cover but Triple H kicked out for the second consecutive time.
The ring steps made their way into the ring and a suplex off the top rope by Batista was turned into a power bomb by Triple H onto his back off the steps. Triple H went for the cover but Batista escaped the 3-count.
If ever there was a truth to the leaving it on the field, these two sure were doing just that.
Out of nowhere, Rick Flair emerged and gave Triple H another sledgehammer and he used it on the forehead of Batista then followed that up with another Pedigree and quickly turned The Animal over and captured the pinfall cover for the 1-2-3 victory.
Flair and Triple H embraced as Batista lay in the middle of the ring.
Match Fallout: Triple H gets to keep his career going if so desired. This due to the pre-match stipulation if Triple H lost he would have to quit wrestling for good.
I wouldn’t expect this feud to continue now as Flair was avenged and Batista has no reason to hang around for the weekly Raw and SmackDown shows.
Farewell Match: Baron Corbin defeats Kurt Angle
Another shocking moment that didn’t really go to plan was the outcome of the farewell match for Hall of Famer Kurt Angle. After a back and forth affair, Baron Corbin caught Angle with the End of Days and earned a pin in the center of the ring.
Match Fallout: Classy performer and the only gold medalist the WWE has ever know gave Corbin one big push as Angle exited in-ring performing with the loss . “You Suck!” definitely is not the case for Mr. Angle. So long to one of the greatest.
Corbin now can try to ride this momentum to bigger and better things as the hated heel he is.
Finn Balor defeats Bobby Lashley – Intercontinental Championship
Bobby Lashley entered the ring wearing a set of off-colored colored contacts giving The Almighty an even more menacing presence. Not to be outdone, Finn Balor broke out The Demon persona and made his way to the stage with face paint, hood and body art.
The end came after a power bomb to the big man by Balor, Finn took to the sky for his trademark double-footed Coup de Grace and quick cover for the 1-2-3 to regained his Intercontinental Championship. This time taking it directly form Lashley vs. pinning his hype-man Leo Rush.
Match Fallout: Balor is an incredibly popular performer and if the WWE is serious about letting him hold the title, should allow Finn to fight opponents his own size. Balor has been taking on monsters for quite some time and it would be rewarding to let the man face even completion.
Winner Take All Triple Threat Match: Becky Lynch defeats Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair – SmackDown and Raw Women’s Championships
Time for the main event!
Charlotte Flair arrived by helicopter. Ronda Rousey was greeted with a pre-match live performance of Bad Reputation by Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and a smattering of boos.
Then came the Queen, Charlotte Flair wearing the SmackDown Women’s Championship belt.
Finally, The Man in black and yellow stripes came around.
Right before the match started, I called for The Man to pin Flair and win both titles while Rousey somehow out of action. Not exactly how things turned out.
As the three took to neutral corners for some stare downs it was The Man first to engage with Ronda. Action spilled out of the ring as the two battled.
Becky and Charlotte traded blows in the middle of the ring and then joined forces to scoop Rousey up and attempt a power bomb outside the ring. Rousey grabbed Charlotte going over long enough for The Man to kick Ronda off the platform almost down on her head in a pretty brutal fall.
The match was quite physical with Lynch going for a table and pulled it into the ring which each computer took turns getting smashed into.
Ultimately, the brutal main event ended on a bit of a down note. And matter of fact, not sure what happened in the final pin as Becky Lynch rolled over Rousey for the 1-2-3, but it was obvious Ronda’s shoulders were not actually down for all three counts.
This outcome is interesting as the announce team made reference to Ronda’s displeasure over the possible quick, inappropriate count. And Ronda herself was visibly questioning the loss.
Match Fallout: Becky is now a two-title holder and will be able to logically challenge competitors on either the Raw or SmackDown shows.
Rousey is rumored to be leaving or taking an extending time off, possibly to start a family with her husband Travis Browne. Dropping the title she held makes for an easier transition. Though, could the WWE use the apparently botched finish to create controversy and extend the rivalry between Becky and Ronda?
Charlotte Flair is once again without a title, but, can easily now challenge Becky for the SmackDown championship and allow both ladies to hold a belt.
- I love the introductions of all the international announcing teams that are covering WrestleMania 35 live ringside, 27 different languages in all
- Lacey Evans made another one of her brief walkout appearances following the Viper vs. Phenomenal One battle. Ok, we’ve seen her wrestle already in the Women’s Royal Rumble and she’s been pulling these brief appearances for a month. Let’s see this future star in the ring.
- Batista sure has a lot of tattoos.
- 82,265 is the new MetLife Attendance Record announced by WrestleMania 35 host Alexa Bliss prior to the main event
- Good to see all the guest commentators like Paige, Jerry the King Lawler, Shawn Michaels and John “Bradshaw” Layfield among others.
- Dang this event was long. Five hours for the main show and including the preshow matches over seven hours of wrestling. That was great, but unfair to the women who had to perform in front of a crowd that had lost its mojo to vocally support the in-ring completion with the same decibels applied mid card.