Date: April 7, 2019
Venue: Metlife Stadium (East Rutherford, NJ)
WrestleMania XXXV has come and gone, and what a show it was. Did KofiMain run wild? Who came out victorious in the historic first-ever women’s main event? Read my rundown/review to find out.
- WWE CHAMPION: ‘The New’ Daniel Bryan
- WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPION: Brock Lesnar
- WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPION: Bobby Lashley
- WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPION: Samoa Joe
- WWE CRUISERWEIGHT CHAMPION: Buddy Murphy
- WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection (Bayley & Sasha Banks)
- RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPION: ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey
- RAW TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder)
- SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION: Charlotte Flair
- SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso)
- Brock Lesnar [c] vs. Seth Rollins for the WWE UNIVERSAL CHAMPIONSHIP (**1/4)
- AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton (***)
- The Usos [c] vs. The Bar vs. Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Ricochet & Aleister Black for the SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (***1/2)
- FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE: The Miz vs. Shane McMahon (***1/4)
- The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection [c] vs. The IIconics vs. Divas of Doom vs. Nia Jax & Tamina Snuka for the WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (**)
- Daniel Bryan [c] vs. Kofi Kingston for the WWE CHAMPIONSHIP (****3/4)
- Samoa Joe [c] vs. Rey Mysterio for the WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP (NR)
- Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre (**1/2)
- NO HOLDS BARRED: Triple H vs. Batista (***)
- Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin (*3/4)
- Bobby Lashley [c] vs. Finn Balor for the WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (**)
- Ronda Rousey [RAW] vs. Charlotte Flair [SMACKDOWN] vs. Becky Lynch for the RAW and SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS (****)
-Grammy-winning artist Yolanda Adams opens the show with ‘America the Beautiful’ followed by a very slow helicopter flyover. Blue Angels they were NOT.
-After an expected amazing opening video, Mike Rowe introduces our host for the evening, Alexa Bliss. She says she can make a WrestleMania moment with a snap of her fingers, which brings out Hulk Hogan to make his first ‘Mania appearance in a few years (due to being a gross racist). Hogan jokingly calls Metlife the ‘Superdome’ then says he’s glad to be at the ‘Metlife CENTER’, thereby invalidating his own joke. Nice one, Hulkster. This mess is interrupted by Paul Heyman, who rushes to the ring and says if Brock isn’t going to be on last he’s going to be first so they can get out of here and go to Las Vegas where they’re “ultimately” accepted. I see what they did there. HELL YEAH LET’S GO.
–Seth Rollins makes his way out, cool ‘Beast Slayer’ graphic on the giant TitanTron and all, Brock Lesnar beats him half to death around the ring until the ref finally calls for the bell.
Seth Rollins defeated Brock Lesnar [c] via pinfall following three Curb Stomps to win the WWE CHAMPIONSHIP (2:30)
Yup, it was quick as that. All anybody needed to do to beat Lesnar was to hit him in the nuts and repeatedly stomp his face in the mat, who knew? The match was whatever but I loved the story, and it got WrestleMania off to a hot start so I have no real complaints. Rollins winning the Universal Championship gives RAW a main champion who will actually defend the belt on a frequent basis so I’m interested to see how that’s included as part of the weekly show now since the writers haven’t had to really worry about it for awhile.
- RATING: **1/4
–Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler is the first of MANY guest commentators tonight.
‘The Phenomenal’ AJ Styles defeated ‘The Viper’ Randy Orton via pinfall with the Phenomenal Forearm (16:12)
Easily the best Orton match I’ve seen in a long time, mostly because he put on his working boots and gave a damn. Props to Styles for getting this guy motivated and having a better than expected contest. I enjoyed the RKO counters and Styles learning from previous attacks, including his fake-out Phenomenal Forearm. Why it hurt Orton despite the fact that’s how he ALWAYS falls is beyond me but it’s just one of those dumb wrestling things you have to accept. I’ll still complain about it on the internet though.
- RATING: ***
–Lacey Evans gives us a little walk and show on the entrance ramp. I have no complaints and am also a pervert.
The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) [c] defeated The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro), Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura [w/ Lana], and Ricochet & Aleister Black to retain the SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP after pinning Sheamus following a double Superfly Splash (10:05)
The Usos were forced to defend their Tag Team Championship in a fatal four way as punishment for forfeiting their match against The New Day and essentially helping them win Kofi Kingston his WWE Championship opportunity, a wrinkle that I did not know had been introduced because I keep falling asleep instead of watching the weekly TV. Day jobs, am I right? AM I? HEY YOU, AM I RIGHT?!?
Moving on I liked this match a lot. A tight 10 minutes meant that there was a fair bit of chaos, but every team had the chance to get their sh*t in. Ricochet, making his WrestleMania debut, was obviously a highlight reel, ROLLING THROUGH the requisite Tower of Doom spot (I think he was supposed to land on his feet but it was still a cool moment) and hitting his patented 630 Splash with such force that I thought Sheamus’ sternum had caved in. But as cool as that was, The Bar had THE moment of the night as Sheamus delivered his 10 Beats to anyone who tried to come at him while Cesaro put Ricochet in the LONGEST Giant Swing I’ve ever seen him do. He didn’t even stumble around like a drunk after, he is INHUMAN (and should be WWE Champion, COME ON). All in all a highly entertaining match and The Usos getting the win made the most sense given the storyline and the fact they’re one of the greatest tag teams in WWE history already.
- RATING: ***1/2
-The 2019 Hall Of Fame class is honored in front of the 80,000+ fans. D-X obviously gets the more important mention, even Triple H is here to enjoy the celebration. To be fair he has like fifteen hours to prepare for Batista still, so he can have a little fun before.
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE
Shane McMahon defeated The Miz via pinfall (15:26)
I will admit I have been far more invested in this story than I ever thought I would be and it all is thanks to the AMAZING babyface version of The Miz. Living a happy life with the family of his dreams have made Miz a real house of fire good guy and I’m ALL ABOUT IT. George Mizanin, Mr. Miz, was at ringside as expected and even got physically involved trying to protect his son from Shane-o-Mac. Shane, the heartless bastard he is, ended up beating down George until Miz launched into the ring like a missile and from there on Miz upped the stakes as he beat Shane up and down MetLife. Shane took some insane bumps, including getting knocked onto the top of a golf cart and SLIDING OFF TO THE CONCRETE FLOOR like he was Shaggy 2 Dope on that episode of Monday Nitro. It built to a perfect crescendo, ending with Miz’s suplex off the top of camera scaffolding into a stage built there FOR REASONS (to house crash pads) and Shane landing on top to get the accidental victory. I laughed a lot but the crowd seemed stunned by it. It adds more juice to this feud though and honestly I’m down for a final match between these two as long as babyface Miz prevails. I hope Miz gets so fired up in this role he tries a moonsault. I KNOW HE’S GOT IT IN HIM.
- RATING: ***1/4
–PAIGE HERE…for commentary.
The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) defeated The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection (Bayley & Sasha Banks) [c], The Divas of Doom (Beth Phoenix & Natalya), and Nia Jax & Tamina Snuka to win the WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONSHIP (10:47)
DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES, FOLKS?!? I absolutely love The IIconics but I did not expect them to win this one, or maybe even any championship due to them being presented as more fun than tough. But it’s the night of friendship, evidenced by the next match, so in retrospect it made sense. I won’t lie and say I enjoyed the match as a whole because I didn’t; it was mostly boring outside of Bayley once again being SO MUCH TOUGHER than her partner and Beth Phoenix getting a chance to compete in a women’s division that is actually worthy of her talents, but I popped SO HARD for that win, especially since they did it the smart way (let Phoenix hit the big move on Bayley then throw her out to get the pin) instead of go against character and bust out some crazy move. The IIconics’ promos are going to be SO GOOD going forward, I can’t wait. Only sad thing is that Boss ‘n’ Hug won’t actually get to defend the titles in NXT like they said they would, which is a bummer. I can’t see The IIconics wanting to do it, but I won’t be sad if they do.
- RATING: **
Kofi Kingston [w/ The New Day] defeated ‘The New’ Daniel Bryan [c] [w/ Rowan] via pinfall with Trouble in Paradise to win the WWE CHAMPIONSHIP (23:44)
I spent the past week terrified for this match to happen. As someone who has been far too emotionally invested in Kofi’s story than he should have been, I was waiting for WWE to somehow snatch the football and for this not to go down the way that it should have. So imagine my sigh of relief followed by scream of triumph when Kingston cracked Bryan with the Trouble in Paradise and finally got the championship he should have been challenging for YEARS ago. What a beautiful moment, not only for WrestleMania but for pro wrestling as a whole, to see Kofi celebrate with his kids and his two best friends who have had his back since Day 1. We’ll see what WWE does going forward, if Kofi gets an actual run or if he loses it in the next 30 days back to D-Bry, but for right now I am thrilled to have experienced a payoff as satisfying as this.
And you know what made all of this better? The actual match. Bryan and Kingston were TREMENDOUS here, Bryan arrogantly using his submission prowess to trap Kingston in various holds and Kingston finding little moments to stun the champ. It was a brilliantly-wrestled match; nothing overly flashy (including their introductions, which had WAY LESS fanfare than I expected given how good and big this story has been), just a really good match that told a really good story and built beautifully (including a callback to Kingston begging Bryan to hit him from Elimination Chamber). The ending, with Big E & Xavier clearing Rowan out of the way to give Kofi a straight shot at vanquishing Bryan, was so good as were The New Day as a whole. Their investment made me more invested. Match of the night, maybe match of the weekend, but definitely my favorite moment from any show that ran in NY/NJ. It’s stuff like this that makes pro wrestling so good.
- RATING: ****3/4
Kofi celebrates with his young kids, as well as The New Day who have not only brought him the REAL WWE Championship (all leather and gold, none of that hemp sh*t) but a box full of championship merch to throw to the crowd. I’m so glad that mystery box was just t-shirts and not a heel turn. NEVER BREAK THE NEW DAY UP, WWE. PLEASE. I BEG YOU.
-Recap of SNL Weekend Update hosts Michael Che and Colin Jost‘s involvement in the ‘Dre during the WrestleMania Kickoff I was smart enough not to sit through after the Cruiserweight Title match. We then go live to the trainer’s room where Alexa Bliss checks on the celebs, and leaves them in the care of the doctors: Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. It made no sense and only happened to get a ‘HEY PEOPLE I REMEMBER’ pop, but I love Jost and Che not giving a sh*t and no-selling it.
–Booker T joins the commentary team for the next match.
Samoa Joe [c] defeated Rey Mysterio via KO with the Coquina Clutch to retain the WWE UNITED STATES CHAMPIONSHIP (1:00)
Remember Dominic making his TV return and Rey shoehorning him into his promos and story? Turns out that didn’t mean sh*t because this one was over in the blink of an eye, his much larger son nowhere to be found to either interfere or get beat up. Fair enough. Good squash that made Joe look like an absolute killer, which he desperately needs more of. Also props to Mysterio for dressing as (comic book villain) Mysterio. I get it. I get what you did there.
- RATING: NR
-Trailer plays for Batista’s next movie, the comedy Stuber co-starring Kumail Nanjiani. Looks funny. Fight me.
–Drew McIntyre gets the NY Pipe & Drum band to play him out, while Roman Reigns does his usual ‘punch the ground and EVERYTHING EXPLODES’ thing. You’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. Don’t make me describe it, be a bro.
Roman Reigns defeated Drew McIntyre via pinfall with a spear (10:10)
Roman’s cancer remission victory lap continues, this time with a victory over McIntyre who has gone out of his way to decimate Roman’s Shield brothers leading up to this match. Unfortunately this is where fatigue was setting in for me and it was hard to concentrate on a match that felt and acted like a RAW main event. Nothing was technically bad about it, both men did their thing and did it well enough, but it just didn’t grab me. Now will Roman end up feuding with Rollins over the Universal Championship because WWE only trusts The Shield to be in main event positions most of the time? Maybe. I hope not. But maybe.
- RATING: **1/4
-Ladies and gentlemen…Elias. Elias brings his A-game this year, playing about a minute-long blues riff alongside pre-recorded video of him on the drums and piano. Before he launches into a next song he’s interrupted by a Babe Ruth newsreel…and the return of THE DOCTOR OF THUGANOMICS HIMSELF, JOOOOHN CENA. Cena wrecked Elias with a freestyle then hit him with an FU (not the AA, this is OLD SKOOL) before leaving. There were a lot of discussions going on about the possible use of Cena this weekend and honestly this was the best case scenario. Show up as the version everyone actually liked, lay in a fun rap, and beat up Elias. Perfect. A chef’s kiss.
–Batista enters the arena in the back of a fleet of SUVs, surrounded by bodyguards, and looking like he hasn’t missed a day…until he trips walking into the ring. To his credit though Batista has fun with it, walking around the ring and staring down Shawn Michaels, on commentary for this match because of course he is, while his Stuber co-star Kumail Nanjiani is shown front row with Batista fatheads and a Batista shirt. Who doesn’t love having supportive friends?
–Triple H continues his streak of accidentally hilarious WrestleMania entrances, riding on the back of a Mad Max-inspired car after a lengthy CGI video plays of him outrunning people in the desert. Apparently Pete Dunne drove the car for they are super best friends. I laughed a lot at this, which isn’t what Trips was going for probably, but in a good way. I’m mostly just glad he finally watched a movie that doesn’t star Arnold Schwarzenegger.
NO HOLDS BARRED
Triple H defeated Batista via pinfall with the Pedigree (24:45)
It’s a Triple H match, which means it went on a lot longer than necessary and felt needlessly indulgent as a result. But unlike some of the matches at previous shows, this one was far more entertaining than it had any right to be. Tripping entrance aside Batista was in FULL FORM tonight and took all sorts of crazy bumps despite the fact he has an actual movie career now and should probably not be putting himself in harm’s way. You got to respect a guy who loves pro wrestling so much that he’ll let Triple H rip his nose ring out with a pair of pliers for the drama of a wrestling match. What a moment that was, compounded with Triple H smiling and straight up enjoying the brutality of it all. The story, Triple H looking to make Batista pay for assaulting a 70 year old Ric Flair and threatening his family, was well-told here and the action ebbed and flowed like two dudes trying to murder each other, which I loved. Having Flair help Triple H at the end was a nice touch and brought everything full circle, even if Triple H’s parkour sledgehammer shot off the steps was a little too goofy. Good garbage match here, with the only knocks being its length and Shawn Michaels sounding like a parody of a commentator through the whole thing.
- RATING: ***
Baron Corbin defeated Kurt Angle via pinfall with the End of Days (5:58)
Angle does the honors on his way out, but not before showing some of the fire he once had including a PERFECT moonsault that I thought I would never see him hit again. I’ve got a lot of hang-ups with Corbin being Angle’s last match and winning, I don’t find the guy particularly interesting and worth the repeated attempts to make him a big deal, but WWE gonna WWE. It was nice to see Angle one last time.
- RATING: *3/4
Angle gets on the mic after the match to thank the fans, and has them chant ‘YOU SUCK’ at him one last time as he takes his final bow. Kurt Angle is an all-time great, and he will be missed. May we one day see someone take to pro wrestling as freakishly quick as he did again in our lifetime. He really did deserve better than an afterthought 6 minute match and quick goodbye. They have WHOLE PPVs that don’t matter, center one around him.
‘The Demon’ Finn Balor defeated ‘The All Mighty’ Bobby Lashley [c] [w/ Lio Rush] via pinfall with the Group de Grace to win the WWE INTERCONTINENTAL CHAMPIONSHIP (4:02)
Ha and you thought it was finally main event time didn’t you? Not yet, we need Balor cosplay his ass to the ring to have his 4958394839th match with Lashley! Lashley sported some freaky Thriller-looking yellow eyes for this one because…reasons? Anyway this is Balor vs. Lashley except Balor is a Demon so he can power bomb Lashley with ease now, kinda like The Horde in Split with less cannibalism. I hate when pro wrestling goes light on the cannibalism. I don’t think The Demon is cool AT ALL like some folks, he looks like a dork in a late-90s snowboarder hat, but his entrance here with the graphics on the giant screen behind him was alright. You think these guys will stop wrestling now, or should I get prepared for more?
- RATING: **
-Alexa Bliss comes out to the stage and announces a new attendance record for MetLife: 82,265. She then brings out R-Truth and 2019 Women’s Battle Royal winner Carmella for a DAAAANCE BREEEEAK leading to a Miz and Mrs. commercial. Uhhh okay then.
WINNER TAKE ALL
Becky Lynch defeated ‘Rowdy’ Ronda Rousey [c] and Charlotte Flair [c] by pinning Rousey with a crucifix to win the RAW and SMACKDOWN LIVE WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIPS (21:28)
Rousey got played out by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, Flair got the Great American Bash-style helicopter entrance like her father did back in the 80s, and Becky…didn’t need no pomp and circumstance and entered like she always does. I don’t know even though what they could have done for her at this point anyway; she doesn’t do the steampunk thing anymore so having her ride in on a goofy-ass hot air balloon is out of the question. SADLY out of the question.
So this match had A LOT on its back going in: it’s the first-ever women’s main event of WrestleMania, it’s one of the very few stories anyone gave a sh*t about going into this event, and it also had to close out a show that had already gone on far too long for any sane person to be happy about. Were they successful?
HELL YES, TO BE EXACT.
This was a tremendous match worthy of main eventing the biggest show of the year, as all three women left everything they had on the mat at the end of it, with Rousey taking a spectacularly intense beating. Almost right at the beginning Becky dropkicked her off Flair and she damn near landed head-first on the floor, but came back for more and dished it out as well. I was just saying if anyone would pick up pro wrestling as quickly as Angle and honestly Rousey might be right on that level when it comes to the action (the speed-talk promos are real bad). I whined like everybody else when WWE decided to muddy things up and take FOREVER to get to their desired triple threat match, tossing out the Rousey/Becky singles match that everybody wanted, but the end result was great so I’m over it. I should try and b*tch less. I won’t, but I should try.
The only qualm I had is with the ending, Becky’s flash pin on Rousey who had her shoulder up for at least part of it. It was abrupt and almost anti-climactic as I was hoping Becky would tap one of these two ladies out in spectacular fashion to get her victory. The way the commentators played up Rousey not having her shoulder down was interesting, giving them a reason for a rematch but also kinda felt like they HAD to explain it since the camera caught it flush. Could be either, could be neither. Ending aside though this was a great match, a worthy main event, and a helluva statement by the women’s division, stepping up to the plate in their biggest match yet.
- RATING: ****
Becky briefly gets a moment to show off and celebrate, fireworks a poppin’, before the show abruptly ends. Not only did she get an anticlimactic pin but they cut her damn celebration short? Why not just shoot her in the knee caps while you’re at it guys, F*CK.
FINAL THOUGHTS: An immensely entertaining WrestleMania this year; for awhile the show was flying by as match after match stuck their landing…until Kofi’s WWE Championship win. After that the show slowed down, not surprising to be honest, and it was a struggle to keep my attention span from veering off (I just wanted to do lame white boy fist pumps about Kofi’s win). But I stuck with it and got a better than expected brawl between Triple H and the (now retired apparently) Batista and a historic and DAMN GOOD main event. Easily the most fun I’ve had watching WrestleMania since 2014 and a helluva way to set the stage going forward in WWE. Pro wrestling is great, man.