Wrestling's biggest week of the year returned to the greater Metropolitan area of NYC for the first time in 6 years. I was living in the city last time it was here, much has changed since then but the event has only grown larger as the ENTIRE wrestling community, not just WWE related, descend upon the hosting city & with that city being NYC
WWE Wrestlemania 35 - April 7th - Metlife Stadium - East Rutherford, NJ
The big day is finally here! If you are a wrestling fan this is Mecca, this is your Super Bowl, bur for many including myself it means even more.
I find myself increasingly not relating (& perhaps never did) to really any group or demographic of wrestling fan. I'm not really an indie guy, the exclusively male fanbase that is super elitist about New Japan frighten & annoy me & I too find the current product of WWE to be at it's worse which is equally frustrating as the female talent has never been better. I don't even fit into the never satisfied post-show analyst types, they are the drizzling shits too.
However on Wrestlemania Sunday, none of that matters - Like how you have no motivation to be anything but kind on Christmas Day? It's kinda like that.
Let me unpack a few things here:
This is the second time Wrestlemania has been held in this stadium, the last time being 6 years ago at Wrestlemania 29. I was here for that one as well when I still lived in NYC. The last time I attended Wrestlemania was 3 years ago in my hometown of Dallas, TX & my 8th overall.
Last time Wrestlemania was here was easily one of my least faves and least memorable of the ones I've attended & quite frankly this one wasn't much better, but again NONE of that matters when you are here. It's just a pleasure to be. Now I'm only gonna talk about the matches I care about and my experience, as this event was SUPER LONG and this is about me haha. I get to my seat just before the first bell of the pre-show begins.
Not the greatest seat in the house but also certainly not the worst and again when you are here, it's just so damn exciting that you don't care as long as you are here. One thing I always look forward to is the reveal, when you come around the corner & into the stadium to see what the set looks like this year.
While the last time the big event was here the matches were boring but the setup still stands as my fave yet so I was super excited to see what they had in-store this time. I'm not hard to please and I know they having been cutting corners but to say the setup was largely dissapointing this year would be an understatement. I mean, cool super large screen that's perhaps some world record, but where is the pageantry? Anyway, let's do this:
Funny enough two of the matches I was most anticipating were in the pre-show - I LOVE BATTLE ROYALS! - And think about this: The freaking PRE-SHOW is 4 matches & two hours long before the show even officially begins! That's a good or a bad thing depending but you can say that you get your monies worth.
There was a match before and after so let's get those snoozefests outta the way:
Tony Neese defeats Buddy Murphy for Cruiserweight Title
Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins defeat The Revival for the Raw Tag Team Championships
I'm sure (& hope) this meant something to the competitors but for me as a spectator they were both largely forgettable.
Women's Battle Royal
I may be in the minority column here, but this is the kinda match I live for: All of my fave female stars in one match that is built on chaos. Yes I understand what lazy booking is and it's status on the card here but again as a spectator, I can't get enough.
So exciting to see so many of my faves all at once! Candace, Kairi,Liv, Mandy, Zelina & my girl Maria!
And here comes Carmella for this win!
Great, fun match with tons of storyline potential being wasted but I enjoyed it - Just wish it had been longer.
Carmella winning is harmless. She is over, has great charisma and is a former champion. It just feels somewhat anticlimactic considering the potential for storyline continuity that was not followed up on.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Alright, time for another Battle Royal! Again I realize how dissapointing it must be for the Superstars to get his kinda placement including The Hardy Boyz, Andrade, Jinder Mahal, Ali, Bobby Roode and Chad Gable etc. Especially when it's overshadowed by two non-wrestler celebrities to get the match over. For reasons unknown, Saturday Night Live's Colin Jost and Michael Che entered the annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
Jost and Che wasted no time bailing to the floor and hiding under the ring as all hell broke loose.
Superstars were dumped early and often as guys like Tyler Breeze, Shelton Benjamin and Lince Dorado were tossed to the floor. Ali sent both Titus O'Neil and No Way Jose packing while Heavy Machinery slammed Strowman.
The Hardy Boyz worked together to eliminate Roode while Mahal sent Gran Metalik high in the air and to the floor. Andrade eliminated Kalisto, then survived a German suplex to send Gable out.
Jost and Che returned to the squared circle &
Chants of "get these hands" spilled from the stands as Strowman confronted Jost and Che. Jost grabbed a microphone and offered up his therapist to help Strowman with his anger issues. The SNL castmates watched as Strowman obliterated the therapist.
Che tried to run away, but Strowman caught him and punched him to the floor.
Strowman tried for a big boot on Jost, but he crotched himself. Jost tried to eliminate him, but Strowman powered him off.
A running powerslam over the top rope and onto a pile of Superstars at ringside earned Strowman the uncontested victory.
With Strowman silencing the SNL guys and dominating the match. He won what was a mediocre match to say the most, and we can now look forward to next year and which Superstar with nothing else going on can be wasted in the Battle Royal. No story beyond Strowman vs. Jost and Che makes this one of the worst incarnations of this annual match.
Kicking off the show to sing America the Beautiful is contemporary gospel legend Yolanda Adams & her choir who did a tremendous job.
When it comes to our National Anthems WWE/F has always done a pretty good job of getting the best to do it.
WrestleMania 35 hostess Alexa Bliss kicked off the show looking more gorgeous than I've ever seen her by admitting, with a snap of her fingers, she could control the fate of the show. With her first snap came the arrival of Hulk Hogan, who joined Little Miss Bliss on the stage.
The Hulkster mocked his own SilverDome/Superdome screw up from a few years back and played to the crowd. Cue the "whatcha gonna do...?" shtick and that was the end of that until Paul Heyman marched to the ring and grabbed a microphone.
He said if Brock Lesnar was not on last, the two of them were not hanging around all night. He introduced his client and the Universal Championship match was underway for an electrifying opening that gave us the unpredictable right out of the gate.
Too bad I don't give two shits about either wrestler & thankfully it was over in under 3 mins:
Brock Lesnar vs Seth Rollins
In fact it was a long start to super loooong evening as this & the next three matches over the next 45 mins I had no interest in at all. And again, good job by the competitors but their combined performances did nothing to change my mind.
AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
Falls Count Anywhere Match: The Miz vs. Shane McMahon
Except this had some good stuff in it - That Wrestlemania feel with feel with improved oddities with The Miz's Dad and of course a dramatic fall courtesy of Shane.
I heard later that Mr Mizanin legit suffered a broken rib just by getting in the ring with Shane who led the improvisation. Don't try this at home kids.
Fatal four-way tag team match for the WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship w/ The Usos vs Aleister Black & Ricochet, Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura (with Lana), and The Bar (Cesaro and Sheamus)
The only thing interesting for me about this match was the always entertaining Lana.
That's about all I remember from this match.
Fatal 4-Way for the Women's Tag Team Championships:
The IIconics vs Beth Phoenix & Natalya, Nia Jax & Tamina & Bayley & Sasha Banks
One of the main matches I was most looking forward to, if not THE Match I wanted to see: Unlike the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match, this was all action with better storytelling.
Eliminating Jax and Tamina, showcasing Phoenix and allowing the forgotten, opportunistic IIconics to sneak in and win the titles all made for a smart match that utilized its pieces to perfection and kept the audience engaged.
What could have been a cool-down match had the fans invested by the end and the finish obviously caught them off-guard.
The IIconics have a rare charisma and characters that are fresh. Using them to carry the tag titles across Raw, SmackDown and NXT is a solid decision.
The emotion real: The excitement electric, now it's started to feel like Wrestlemania! And the next match solidified it.
WWE Championship Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan
What a match. What a moment.
This is what pro wrestling is all about. The emotional roller-coaster ride, the athleticism, the storytelling and the finish WWE fans both young and old had so eagerly anticipated for the last two months. All of it combined to create an unforgettable moment that will live in the annals of WrestleMania forever.
Bryan, overshadowed by Kingston's journey to the match, was absolutely fantastic. He was a virtuoso, the best wrestler on the planet for one match as he guided every spot to the desired outcome.
Kingston, though, was the star. He rose to the occasion, delivered his greatest performance in the most important match of his career and captured the prize that validates his 11 years of hard work and dedication to his craft.
This was the stuff of legend. This is why people invest emotionally in wrestling. One of the best wrestlers to lace his boots and a beloved performer in the middle of his greatest run to date provided fans with a magical experience Sunday night and a genuine Match of the Year candidate.
One of the best Wrestlemania Moments ever and the last few Manias have been sorely lacking. Though I enjoyed John Cena's marriage proposal to Nikky Bella a few years ago, I would say that this was the first in-ring true moment since Wrestlemania 31. Congrats to Kofi & his family.
Now we have another looooong snooze fest that even though I am here at the Greatest Show on Earth, I wish this stuff could have gone on earlier & I could have arrived later. I literally did not give 2 shits about FIVE MATCHES IN A ROW.
United States Championship Match: Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe
Rey deserved much better than this pointless literally less than a minute squash.
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
No one cares. Like at all. Pointless.
No Holds Barred: Triple H vs. Batista
Batista's farewell and always fun to see Triple H back in the ring, but otherwise, no thanks.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley
Besides, Joe & Rey, the most pointless match on the card. Yawn.
Kurt Angle Farewell Match vs. Baron Corbin
Talk about someones deserving better - Kurt Angle (& his fans for that matter) deserved so much more than this. Angle is one of the best to ever do it and a legitimate bad ass. Him bowing out in defeat is exactly what one would expect from him. He is a class act, a Superstar who has never shied away from putting others over. It makes sense that he would look to make a star out of Corbin.
What does not is the...afterthought-iness of it all.
This felt like one of the least important matches and moments on the card despite it being the end of one of the greatest careers in wrestling history.
I felt less glad that I got to see Angle's last match and more sad that he went out the way he did, unceremoniously and in less than 10 minutes.
This was not what anyone wanted out of the segment, least of all Angle, who looked relatively unemotional about it as he walked the aisle one last time.
Ladies and Gentlemen...Elias
Promising a huge musical performance at WrestleMania, Elias took center stage Sunday night and introduced...himself, on drums. And piano. Both in pre-tape form. In the center of the ring, he strummed his guitar, played a little White Stripes and went through his catchphrase shtick.
Elias introduced something specifically for WrestleMania that would "be played for years to come."
Before he could deliver, a video reliving Babe Ruth's famous "called shot" home run aired. John Cena, in full Doctor of Thuganomics garb, made his way to the ring.
Cena busted on his own movies while saying Elias' entire performance sucks. He cracked on the musician playing with himself, referred to himself as "The Golden Shovel" and promised to bury his push.
After a joke about Elias' facial hair that cracked Renee Young on commentary, Cena delivered the F-U (definitely not the Attitude Adjustment Sunday night) and left to a thunderous ovation. A fun, harmless entertainment that brought the audience back to life just in time for the main event.
Main Event - Triple Threat Winner-Take-All Match
The historic first women's main event had the feel of a big match, featured three women beating the unholy hell out of each other and provided fans the outcome they desired. Timing was clearly an issue late, as it felt like the women were rushing to get certain spots in, and the finish—casting doubt on Lynch's victory by questioning whether Rousey's shoulders were down—could have been better & I'm sure not what they had planned after working so hard.
Still a damn good match that channeled the emotions of the women involved, provided a suitable conclusion to weeks of preparation and made the most of the historic opportunity. Rousey bumped all over, Flair and Lynch turned in two more stellar performances, and the fans bought in with every passing minute. What could have been a major disappointment given the hour of show that preceded it was, instead, everything those involved could have hoped for.
This was a strong conclusion to a mostly dull WrestleMania that overstayed its welcome and robbed Lynch of a longer celebration to close out the night.
Still it was unforgettable to be there & that's the point isn't it?
Heard later it might not have been too much fun leaving there as fans who had taken NJ Transit & planned to return that way had to wait in the rain for hours. The transit agency had expected that WWE would end the event at 10:30 p.m but when the event ran two hours longer, most of those staff had gone home, leaving train crews shorthanded. At some points fans threatened to riot if trains did not come; their attempts to get alternative transportation through Uber were also mostly unsuccessful.They expected 8-13k riders; instead 33k+ headed for the trains after the event!
This was not an isolated incident as I heard this year was a logistical nightmare on all fronts across the board for WWE Producers. Your not likely to see this event in tri-state area for some time & why would you? They've had their chance 10 times over now. Glad to see it somewhere new for the first time next year in Tampa (even if that means I have to go to Florida haha).
Congrats to Becky Lynch! - See you next year!