WrestleMania this year was a bit unique. It had started strong, experienced quite a few mighty wobbles along the way and they somehow when all hope was lost, WWE managed to pull things back on track. It had all the ingredients to leave a lasting impression or be an utterly forgettable one. Let’s find out which way it went.
Toney Nese Dethrones Buddy Murphy
(Cruiserweight Championship Match: Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Tony Nese)
This was a nice back and forth match with all the usual tropes of cruiserweight matches such as blindingly fast offense and breakneck speed. It also had a surprising level of brutality to it. Nese won by hitting a German Suplex in the corner followed by a running Nese.
Winner and new Cruiserweight Champion: Tony Nese
Our take from it: This was an excellent match and once again proved what a travesty it is never to give cruiserweights a chance to be on the main card. That aside, WWE gave this match enough time to allow both men to put on a great match that told a great story.
Buddy Murphy has been a dominant champion but even he could not generate the mainstream attention this division needs. Is Tony Nese going to be that man? Only time will tell.
This was an excellent way to start the show and showed that WWE isn’t afraid of changing things up. This match also set the bar pretty high and everyone on the show would have to be on point to keep the momentum going.
It’s all Carmella
(Women’s Battle Royal)
Nikki Cross set the tone of the match by going all crazy. A huge brawl followed and Asuka understandably dominated the proceedings. Sarah Logan too had a great night but Carmella used one of the old tricks by staying out of sight until only Logan was left and Carmella eliminated her for the win.
Our take from it: There is no going around the fact that Asuka was grossly misused but it was understandable on a card that was so stacked. Not to even allow her to win an inconsequential battle royal on the kick-off show just shows how much she has fallen in the eyes of the management and probably has something to do with the way she couldn’t create much impact as the SmackDown women’s champion.
On the other hand, letting Carmella win was great. There is no talk of unifying both the women’s titles which means that at some point, another champion would be needed and Carmella could be that champion. This was an entertaining match and it’s a shame WWE didn’t call it the ‘Chyna Battle Royal’ like X-Pac had suggested during the Hall of Fame induction ceremony.
Hawkins and Ryder finally win something
(Raw Tag Team Championship Match: The Revival (c) vs. Hawkins and Ryder)
This was a surprisingly evenly pitted match. The Revival did not dominate the match as most would have expected and instead Ryder and Hawkins brought the fight to the champions. A great moment was the double clothesline in the center of the ring. Hawkins picked up the win by rolling up Dawson, thereby ending his 269 match losing streak.
Winners and new RAW Tag Team Champions: Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder
Our take from it: Ryder and Hawkins being booked so strongly could mean one of two things. WWE wanted a feel-good moment to keep the crowd happy or that The Revival has fallen out of the good graces of WWE and this marks the beginning of the end for them.
It is very much possible that Hawkins and Ryder will drop the title on RAW just like Ryder dropped his US title a few years ago. Either way, this wasn’t the kind of match anyone expected or the result anyone anticipated and can be chalked down as the first shocking moment of the night.
Hawkins and Ryder definitely deserved the win and the crowd was definitely behind them. This could be the start of an amazing story or it could be nothing. It was pretty fun though.
Was there any doubt?
(Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal)
This was mostly about Che and Jost clowning around. There was a cool face-off between Strowman and Luke Harper but that did not last very long. There was a bit involving Jost’s therapist but Strowman predictably won by eliminating his SNL nemesis’ after everyone else had been eliminated.
Winner: Braun Strowman
Our take from it: The Andre the Giant memorial can be a great platform to push a new talent but this year’s edition was just an excuse to get some of the talent that did not make it to the main show have a moment in the ring. That would have been fine had not WWE made it all about the SNL guys.
Celebrity segments have their place at WrestleMania but neither are Jost and Che that well-known nor were the bits involving them entertaining in anyway. The only reason to have celebrities is to garner some mainstream attention but WWE isn’t lacking in any attention right now and Che and Jost definitely did not provide any improvements. In essence, this battle royal was a big waste of time and talent.
WrestleMania 35 Main Show
The Universal Championship comes home
(Universal Championship Match: Brock Lesnar (c) w/Paul Heyman vs. Seth Rollins)
Alexa Bliss started the main show and was soon joined by Hulk Hogan. After the welcoming bit, Paul Heyman came out and announced the Universal Championship match was first as there was no point waiting if the match did not close out the show.
The match was violent as expected. Lesnar attacked Rollins even before the match could start. By the half-way point, Rollins’ back was all red and bruised. It seemed like yet another Lesnar match where he ran through his opponent but Rollins managed to stun everyone by cleverly hitting a low-blow followed by three stomps for the win and the championship.
Winner and new Universal Champion: Seth Rollins
Our take from it: First of all, this is the most welcome news of all time. The Universal Championship will be seen on RAW regularly for the foreseeable future. The match was fun and both men came out looking strong. Only Rollins can hit a low blow for the title and still remain a face. He definitely deserves this and this opens up many exciting prospects for the future.
How Reigns will react to all this and what new feuds will be established, points to some exciting times. The low-blow angle also leaves the door open for Lesnar whenever he decides to come back and possibly ruin the title again. This though, is a time for celebration and the main card opens with a crowd-pleasing bang.
Styles puts Orton in his place
(AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton)
This match was all about both men trying to one up each other with their move set. Orton was the early aggressor but Styles managed to reign things back. It was pretty much even for the remainder of the match. Orton would repeatedly go for the RKO but would connect only once leading to a kick out. Styles won by hitting a Pele kick followed by a couple of Phenomenal Forearms.
Winner: AJ Styles
Our take from it: Kudos to WWE for not allowing this to be yet another carbon copy of Orton’s every other match. By not allowing Orton to go to his very limited set of offensive moves every time he gained the upper hand, WWE ensured that there was an element of unpredictability in the match.
This match in the end was pretty good and got enough time but lacked that excitement probably due to this feud not being a big part of the storyline on SmackDown. There was no reason for these men to be having a feud other than Orton being a bad guy. Storylines need to be a bit more dynamic and while the match was good, it deserved to be on the kick-off for lack of any consequence.
The Usos are unbeatable
(Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match: The Usos (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev w/Lana vs. The Bar vs. Ricochet and Aleister Black)
The tag team match was initially all about having as many combinations of men from the different teams as possible in the ring with them trying to beat the crap out of each other. Towards the end, it was all chaos with everyone getting involved and hitting their finishers. However, the Usos prevailed by hitting the Double Uce on Sheamus to retain.
Winners and still SmackDown Tag Champions: The Usos
Our take from it: This had to be one of the strongest tag division on SmackDown in a long time. Black and Ricochet seemed to have a good chance of being the new champs but WWE played it safe.
Tag matches involving so many men can often be hard to follow but that wasn’t the case with this one. There was a method to the madness and it was easy to follow the action. The bit involving every one hitting their finishers was over the top but equally enjoyable.
It was also the right call to have the Usos win. This will also help Black and Ricochet to either sink their teeth a bit deeper or get into singles wrestling. After all, that’s what they are awesome at.
Lady luck ditches The Miz
(Falls Count Anywhere Match: Shane McMahon vs. The Miz)
Shane started off by doing all the heel things like running away from the fight and luring Miz into cheap shots. This was a fall count anywhere match and neither men held back. There were a lot of savage moments. Shane attacked Miz’s father mid-match as was expected.
The action took both men throughout the arena. Everything they could get their hands on or stand on was used as a weapon. In the end, Miz suplexed Shane from the top of a platform but Shane’s hand ended on top of Miz after they landed and seemed to pass out. Shane got the three count for the win.
Winner: Shane McMahon
Our take from it: Shane has a penchant of creating dangerous and wild wrestling spots that begs the question as to why a man of his stature feels the need to put his body on the line like this. The Miz though was a question mark as he has never been known for such matches but tonight he proved that brutal and bloody wrestling is another thing that he is good.
This match told a nice story and the bogus ending keeps the feud alive. This feud did not have the greatest of starts but slowly and surely it has become quite the entertaining feud. WWE will probably keep this going which can be good for both men for the time being.
The underdogs become the champs
(Women’s Tag Team Championship Match: The Boss & Hug Connection (c) vs. Beth Phoenix & Natalya vs. The IIconics vs. Nia Jax and Tamina)
Jax and Tamina tried to be the bossy ones by tossing people around. Natalya and Phoenix did their part as the “other” team while the IIconics were mostly used as the punching bags for everyone else during the first half.
The match became a bit more dynamic especially when Jax and Tamina weren’t involved. The IIconics pulled off the next biggest upset of the night by pinning Bayley for the win and the championship.
Winners and the new Women’s tag champions: The IIconics
Our take from it: For any championship to feel legit, especially the one that is as new as the women’s tag championship, it has to have a few holders and allowing the title to change hands was the right call. The IIconics, while not everyone’s first choice, were the best option from those available.
Natalya and Phoenix was a onetime thing while Jax and Tamina as champs would have been disastrous. The IIconics could actually pull this off. They have definitely upped their game over the last few weeks and while their mic-skills need massive improvement, they are the best option for now. WWE must nurture the division now and allow for more tag teams to really come to the fore.
Kofi Kingston finally gets his Wrestlemania moment
(WWE Championship Match: Daniel Bryan (c) w/Rowan vs. Kofi Kingston w/ The New Day)
Kofi and Bryan began with a series of technical moves like headlocks and takedowns. The match soon escalated into a show of kicks and athleticism. The action was fast-paced and neither men was able to get the upper hand throughout the match. At one point, Rowan got involved and got taken out by the remaining members of New Day. In the end, Kofi made his dream come true by hitting a Trouble in Paradise.
Winner and new WWE Champion: Kofi Kingston
Our take from it: This was one of the most heart-warming moments of the night. Until a couple of months back, Kofi wasn’t even being considered a serious threat to Bryan. This also meant that Bryan was left without a legitimate challenger for his title.
The two however were able to change things around very quickly in a relatively short amount of time. They turned it into the must-watch feud on either shows and this match capped it off perfectly.
It was long and had plenty of close-calls to keep the audience at the edge of their seats. The constant see-sawing between despair and happiness was done to perfection and the ending was also done right. Kofi has what it takes to be a great champion and it is up to WWE to give him an extended run with the belt so he can prove his mettle.
Samoa Joe and Rey Mysterio have a diminutive match
(United States Championship Match: Samoa Joe (c) vs. Rey Mysterio)
Joe hit a boot on Mysterio followed by Mysterio hitting a Ranna. Mysterio did his bit and went for the 619 but Joe countered by putting Mysterio in the Coquina Clutch and Mysterio passed out.
Winner and still the United States Champion: Samoa Joe
Our take from it: On a card this stacked, there had to be a match that just ended before it even started and this was it. Unfortunately it did not have any shock value to it. Also, it followed one of the best matches of all time and the audience seemed too spent to react to any of it.
It was unfair to both participants but that is how things play out sometimes. This match would have been better off on the kick-off show. Quite easily the dud of the night.
Roman Reigns reclaims his yard
(Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre)
Reigns was the early aggressor but McIntyre soon caught up with him. The two-men then resorted to some hard hitting moves. The action spilled out of the ring towards the end. Reigns finally connected with a Clothesline, Superman punch and a Spear for the win.
Winner: Roman Reigns
Our take from it: This match should have ideally gone longer. Also, it should have been Drew who should have won possibly using some illegal heel tactic. This was a feel good moment but does nothing for either man in the long run.
Had McIntyre won, these two could have gone on to a much more heated feud than the one they already had. All this points to some hasty angle where Reigns faces off against Rollins and that would sink both men. This match also didn’t feel like a big enough deal to follow the Kofi-Bryan Match.
John Cena goes old-school
Elias played a drum solo and then a piano solo. These two versions then played on the tron while he played guitar along to it. Cena came out in his Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick and hit the moves that went along with that gimmick on Elias.
Our take from it: This was what it was. A fun segment to provide a break from all the wrestling. Elias should have been in a match but this was also quite good. It was also quite magnanimous of Cena not to hog the WrestleMania spotlight on such short notice though it did leave fans a bit disappointed regarding a certain match that followed.
Overall, a great segment with nothing to complain about, though it has to be pointed out that the Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick is getting pretty outdated and doesn’t really suit Cena anymore.
Triple H avoids retirement
(No Disqualification Match: Triple H vs. Batista (If Triple H Loses, His Career Is Over)
Batista began quite strongly and it took Triple H some time to get on equal footing. As it was a no-disqualification match, the action soon spilled outside and weapons like chains and needle-nose pliers were used.
A lot of brutality followed and it seemed like Batista had the upper-hand until Ric Flair came out to cause a distraction and Triple H managed to hit a leaping sledgehammer blow followed by a pedigree for the win.
Winner: Triple H
Our take from it: These two weren’t the most agile during the prime of their life but they were always good at slug-fests and that was exactly what this match was. Neither men held back when it came to the use of weapons which should be commended considering how old they are as well as how well-placed in their careers they are that they did not need to do any of it.
The ending was also done nicely giving Ric Flair a moment to shine. There was no way Triple H’s career was ending at WrestleMania 35 but the match was quite entertaining nonetheless.
Kurt Angle goes out the old-school way but facing the wrong person
Angle began with a Suplex followed by some offense from Corbin. Angle again hit a few suplexes. There was a bit more back and forth followed by more suplexes from Angle but he eventually missed a Moonsault and Corbin capitalized with an End of Days for the win.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Our take from it: This was such a shame. Everyone’s worst fears were realized. Kurt Angle did the honorable thing and bowed out of in-ring competition ‘on his back’ but he did so against the wrong person. It should have been John Cena.
This did not at all feel like the big moment that would normally be associated with the ending of the career of one of the biggest legends of all time. Kurt Angle definitely deserved something more monumental and so did the fans.
While Angle did get a few sweet moments post-match, it did not make up for that awful match. If for some reason WWE had to make Angle face Corbin then Angle should have won. WWE had to screw up somehow.
The Demon crushes Lio Rush’ crush
(Intercontinental Championship Match: Bobby Lashley (c) w/Lio Rush vs. The Demon Finn Bálor)
Balor began really strong and had Lashley reeling for the first few minutes. Lashley got back into the match with a spine buster. Lashley then exhibited some physicality. Balor finally powerbomb Lashley and hit the Coup de Grâce for the win.
Winner and New Intercontinental Champion: Finn Balor
Our take from it: This match was far too short but with good reason. Lashley’s limited moves in the ring would have seriously been exposed had the match gone any longer. The crowd also seemed somewhat disinterested and it was unfair to have this match go on after Kurt Angle’s farewell match.
Lashley was also the wrong opponent for Balor and even his Demon alter-ego failed to create enough buzz to make this match feel worthwhile. Hopefully, WWE will give him an extended run with the title from here on.
The main event ends in anti-climax
Charlotte Flair arrived in a helicopter. Joan Jett and The Blackhearts played Ronda Rousey to the ring while Becky Lynch got the more traditional entrance which sort of gave away the ending to this match.
It was pretty action packed and built to a great crescendo where it seemed like the three would destroy each other but things turned a bit anti-climactic with Lynch winning by countering a Piper’s Pit into a Crucifix pin.
Winner and new Raw and Smackdown Women’s Champion: Becky Lynch
Our take from it: Oh boy! The first ever women’s main event at WrestleMania had to end like this. Why can’t WWE do one thing right, like ever? The match was perfect. It had all the great entrances, wonderful spots, tons of near falls and three women who did not hold back and how does it end? With a freaking crucifix pin.
This was clearly WWE’s attempt at protecting Rousey here but it has fired in the most colossal manner possible. Nobody expected the match to end when it did and it felt quite underwhelming. WWE had nearly got out of the pit they had dug during this feud but failed at the very last instance.
Becky Lynch winning both titles at WrestleMania to close out the show should have felt so much more impactful but the ending felt like just another show and not the culmination of something that was happening for the first time ever.
How the show fared as a whole: Wrestlemania 35 had all the right ingredients to be the best ever, but it failed to deliver. The first issue was pacing. Ideally the best matches would go on towards the end but this show started off strong and had some of its weakest matches towards the end.
The Kofi – Bryan match should have gone on much later, possibly even last. Yes! It was a big deal that women were main-eventing the show and while the entrance and the starting did feel like a big deal, the ending was sub-par and ordinary. Imagine Hulk Hogan beating Andre the Giant with a handful of tights instead of the Body Slam heard around the world and that was the type of main even we had.
This is what happens when you back yourself into a creative corner by doing too many things in too short a period. Then there was the gross injustice to Kurt Angle.
This year’s WrestleMania could be best described as having the best dessert in the world and suddenly finding a dead fly in it. This show held so much promise but somehow WWE managed to stay true to their form.
Moment of the night: Kofi Kingston winning his first world title
Overall Rating: 3.6/5