It only comes once a year – and this year, history is being made as the women’s championships were defended in the main event of WrestleMania.
We’re back inside Metlife Stadium – home of the Jets and the Giants – as an advertised sixteen-match card awaited us.
WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Tony Nese vs. Buddy Murphy (c)
Yep, the Cruiserweights are kicking off the show. Nese won a tournament on 205 Live to get the shot… and yes, there’s a “shortcut ramp” to save these guys from having full entrances.
They start hot as Buddy tried to run into Nese with a knee, but it’s avoided as Nese manages to trip Murphy with a baseball slide. Nese is trying to get this crowd to care, but it’s not happening, as Murphy took him back inside with a gutbuster on the top turnbuckle as… we go to a fecking ad?! In the bottom corner we see Buddy putting the boots to Nese, before a snapmare and a kick to the back drew a two-count. A chinlock brings us back from commercial as somehow Buddy’s left eye is cut open badly.
Nese hits back with a suplex into the corner, before a split-legged stunner and a spinning heel kick had the champ rocked. Now some of the crowd care… especially as Murphy got hung in the ropes for a Quebrada for a near-fall. Nese went for a pumphandle slam, but had to make do with a rolling thunder uppercut into the corner after Murphy went up top. Murphy slipped out and hits a Cheeky Nando’s kick, then a spinning facebuster a la Will Ospreay, before a TKO variation looked to have Nese in trouble… only for Nese to spike him with a modified reverse ‘rana. A back elbow from Nese ends up sending Murphy into the ropes as he came back with a big lariat… only for Nese to hit back with a Jig ‘n’ Tonic for a near-fall as I realise… I have no clue what his finish is.
A Sasuke special from Nese followed as Murphy rolled outside, before he connected with a 450 splash for a near-fall. Murphy thought he’d won with the Murphy’s Law, but Nese got a foot to the ropes… so Murphy pulls down his knee pads and looked for a running knee… only to get stopped with a superkick, a German suplex into the corner… and the Running Nese as we have a new Cruiserweight champion! Well then! This has to go in as a success given that the crowd were silent and ended up being invested in this by the end. Our first “moment” of the night, after a heck of an opener. ***¾
Women’s Battle Royal
Involved were Asuka, Candice LeRae, Carmella, Dana Brooke, Ember Moon, Kairi Sane, Lana, Liv Morgan, Mandy Rose, Maria Kanellis, Mickie James, Naomi, Nikki Cross, Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan, Sonya Deville and Zelina Vega.
Unlike the Cruiserweights, they all got to walk the full length of the entrance ramp. Sheer madness started us off, as Maria took the first elimination, before Asuka took out Candice and Nikki. Lana almost had a wardrobe malfunction as Naomi hit a springboard roundhouse to Ember Moon… who somehow came back with an Eclipse to Lana. Naomi goes via a stunner in the ropes, before Mandy Rose tried to capitalise… but she takes an Eclipse off the top before Sonya Deville looked to toss out Ember. That’s blocked before Lana shoves off Ember as she tried for a third Eclipse. Cue the boos. Kairi Sane fights back on Lana, before her trip on the top turnbuckle ended with Sarah Logan trying to push her down to the floor, before she turned her focus to Lana…who got a hug and a pop-up headbutt before being eliminated.
Sane heads up top again for an elbow drop, crushing Logan in the process before she got eliminated by Ruby Riott. There’s a double-team flip stunner to Vega from the Riott Squad, who try to clear house by themselves, but Dana Brooke fights back with a Thesz press, before she threw out Riott! Liv Morgan’s lifted out next by Dana, before a handspring elbow was kicked away by Vega in the corner. Double knees follow in the corner, before Dana got low bridged and eliminated by Mandy and Sonya. More boos. Headscissors from Mickie James drag Mandy onto the apron, where a superkick sent Mandy out… but Sonya charges Mickie to the floor as we’re left with Sonya, Asuka and Sarah as the final three.
Asuka runs wild with kicks, then hip attacks before a bulldog/clothesline combo looked to build to a win. Deville’s tossed, before Sarah Logan shocks Asuka… but Carmella was still live! The bell didn’t go, so the match continued as Logan clotheslined Carmella, before they jockeyed for a suplex, ending with a superkick from Carmella as Logan fell to the floor. Your winner – Carmella! Standard battle royal fare, but at least they didn’t cram too many bodies into this for their own good. **¼
WWE RAW Tag Team Championship: The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) (c) vs. Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder
Curt Hawkins still has a monster of a losing streak, and we’re still using the short ramp. Boo.
Still, Curt’s dressed in Jets green and white, so it’s a thumbs up from me. Scott Dawson looks to be taking things lightly, as he messed around early on as he mocked Hawkins for coming so close to another loss. In comes Ryder, who gets chopped in the ropes by Dawson, and there’s a big cheer as Dash Wilder comes in to beat up Ryder like he was an invader. Zack misses a charge into the ropes as he was sent sailing to the outside, before Dawson dropped legdrops and headbutts on him.
A double-team backbreaker/elbow drop gets the Revival a two-count, before Dawson tagged in to stop Ryder from getting a pinning attempt off. An overhead armbar from Dawson looked to force a submission, but Ryder’s able to shove a newly-tagged Wilder into the corner, before he scored with a Bunker Buster neckbreaker a la YOSHI-HASHI. Dawson knocks Hawkins off the apron as the champs continue to isolate Ryder, landing in with an elbow drop off the ropes. An atomic legdrop on Ryder gets another near-fall for the Revival, but he finally got free with a back suplex, before the crowd cheered as Hawkins got the hot tag in. Hawkins clears house with dropkicks before a backslide nearly led to the win… as did an O’Connor roll before and a roll-up… but a double clothesline leaves both men laying on the mat. Ryder’s in, and he manages to land a Rough Ryder off the middle rope before he and Wilder spilled awkwardly to the floor with a suplex.
Hawkins rolls Ryder back in so he could tag… but Wilder pulls Hawkins out as a win seemed to be certain. Shenanigans outside ended with Hawkins taking a sheer drop brainbuster from Dawson, before he was rolled back in for what looked to be an elementary win for the Revival. Dawson doesn’t go for the pin, choosing to take his time poking the proverbial bear on the mat, and instead gets rolled up as Curt Hawkins smashed his streak and won the tag team titles! The Jets curse is broken as the former Major Brothers win gold again! This started slow, but got real good by the end, as this pre-show’s gotten sneakily fun. ***½
Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Involved here were Ali, Andrade, Apollo Crews, Bobby Roode, Bo Dallas, Braun Strowman, Chad Gable, Colin Jost, Curtis Axel, EC3, Gran Metalik, Harper, Heath Slater, Jeff Hardy, Jinder Mahal, Kalisto, Karl Anderson, Konnor, Lince Dorado, Luke Gallows, Matt Hardy, Michael Che, No Way Jose, Otis, Rhyno, Shelton Benjamin, Titus O’Neil, Tucker, Tyler Breeze and Viktor.
The Saturday Night Live hosts Jost and Che got full entrances, because of course they did. Braun Strowman has hit the gym big time since I last saw him, and we start with Che and Jost doing a Jerry Lawler and hiding under the ring. Eliminations come way too quick to call early on as Braun Strowman is clearing away the undercard. There’s a brief staredown with Harper as we cut to commercial… but the Network feed remains as Heath Slater took a nasty spill head-first into a VR camera on the guard rails. Strowman was thrown out through the middle rope, so he’s still alive, like the SNL guys, as Rhyno gets turfed, while the Hardys – somehow fitting into their late 90s gear – were on fire.
Gran Metalik took a nasty spill on his way out as Andrade monkey flipped Kalisto out of the match. Otis does the caterpillar elbow to the Ascension, who then get tossed by Heavy Machinary. Braun’s back to clear house, taking out Luke Gallows and the Machinery. Ali nearly dies as Harper tried to suplex him outside… but Strowman just charges into Harper as Ali crashed into the commentary table. Andrade eliminates himself with a ‘rana to Crews, while the Hardys try to eliminate Strowman with the Benoit finish… and that’s the cue for the SNL guys to appear to try and eliminate Braun. It doesn’t work,as Braun shoves off the Hardys, then stares down the celebrities… and now it’s mid match promo time. Colin Jost brings in his “therapist” to talk Braun through his problems, but he gets tossed aside and chokeslammed. Oh well. Michael Che tries to climb out to eliminate himself, but a slap from Braun does the job before Jost took advantage of a missed big boot as he tried to throw out Strowman.
Fortunately, that doesn’t happen as Braun just slam/throws Jost to the outside as we’re saved from having to meltdown the Andre trophy. Decent for a battle royal, but the ENTERTAINMENT probably didn’t land with international fans. **
Cue America the Beautiful, pyro, helicopters, and a Broadway-themed entrance video. WWE always does a good job with these, and this year’s is no different, showing highlights of past Manias. Hey, there’s Yokozuna in the package!
Alexa Bliss opens the show from the massive entrance screen that doubled as a stage. She wants a WrestleMania moment, so she clicks her fingers… and out comes Hulk Hogan. He purposely does the Silverdome gag, then really screws up “Met Life Center”. Stock promo. Next. Well, that was quick, Paul Heyman storms down to the ring, bypassing all this as he demands to have Brock in the opener since he’s not in the main event… so they can do this and head to Vegas where he’s “Ultimately” appreciated.
WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Seth Rollins
We’ve got all the pyro for Brock… stage, ring and roof!
Meanwhile, Lesnar’s entrance is a take-off of Lesnar’s, complete with an animation of a sword going through Brock’s chest tattoo as this year, he’s the Beast Slayer. Brock charges Rollins before he got in the ring as we start with him mauling Seth on the outside, including an F5 on the outside. Lesnar throws Rollins face-first into (not the LED screen) on the ring apron, before he threw Rollins across the German announce table. Twice. They finally make it into the ring… but Brock just throws him back outside as the ref didn’t ring the bell. Poor Carsten Schaefer gets a Rollins thrown into him, before the top of the announce table got smashed as Rollins was thrown into it like it were a table.
FINALLY the bell sounds! More mauling as a German suplex took Seth into the ropes repeatedly, and my God, Seth’s back is a mess. Rollins sidesteps a charge as Brock went into the ref… behind the ref’s back, there’s a low blow as Lesnar’s on the mat, before a curb stomp left Lesnar down… but Seth can’t make a cover. He goes for it again… but again, he can’t make a cover, as a third curb stomp was needed to get the win! Well, that was a lot different of a match than I expected – not quite a squash, but this was definitely a contest of two halves. Clean as a sheet too, relatively speaking. Is this a Lesnar swansong? ***½
Jerry Lawler’s out for commentary as Brock Lesnar’s still walking to the back.
AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
We’ve got floaty AR graphics all over the place here, and thankfully no spermy snake down the aisle for Randy this year.
AJ starts with a side headlock, but he’s quickly having to push away from a RKO attempt as Orton began to start working down AJ with uppercuts and stomps. There’s a dropkick from AJ to stem the tide, only for Orton to send AJ into the guard rails outside. I swear that outside area is bigger than it used to be… Orton uses a guard rail as an impromptu landing pad for a back suplex as he barely got a one count from it as the live crowd were having issues with lights blinding them. AJ hits back with an ushigoroshi for a near-fall as the the pace remained slow. A roll through into a calf crusher attempt is blocked by Orton, before AJ manages to counter a draping DDT into the Calf Crusher, but Orton manages to get to the ropes.
AJ manages to fly back in with a 450 splash as Orton was still recovering from the submission attempt, but it’s not enough to get the win as Orton mounts a comeback with his funky backbreaker, before he finally hauled AJ off the top rope with a superplex. The crowd roars big time for Orton’s uppercut… but it’s because the lights got sorted out. The lights apparently go back on as Orton prepared for the RKO, but Styles countered with an enziguiri before rolling up Orton for a two-count. From the kick-out, an RKO lands for a near-fall, before he lifted AJ up for another superplex… only to switch it to an avalanche RKO… but AJ slips free and took him down with a Pele kick.
Orton headed outside, into the eventual path of a Phenomenal forearm on the floor. Back inside, AJ looked for another one, which Orton originally caught… but the RKO doesn’t come off as AJ heads back onto the apron for yet another Phenomenal forearm, which gets the win. Well, the crowd were too distracted by the lighting to care, but this was a “worker’s match” – technically sound, but largely unable to captivate. **½
Lacey Evans wanders onto the stage next for her regular “blink and miss it” appearance. Easiest payday yet.
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (Jey Uso & Jimmy Uso) (c) vs. The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) vs. Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Aleister Black & Ricochet
They saved the cool entrance for Aleister Black, like you’re shocked.
Jey Uso starts with a brief flurry of headlock takedowns and escapes to Black, before a blind tag from Sheamus led to Jey getting low bridged to the outside. We’re all about blind tags, and action faster than the camera cuts as well. Ricochet wows with some satellite headscissors on Cesaro, who responded with a big uppercut before he took Ricochet on a Giant Swing! Poor Ricochet.
Eventually Cesaro stops as Ricochet’s rolled into a dizzy Sharpshooter, sitting down on Ricochet before Jimmy Uso superkicked the hold away. Tags take us to Rusev and Black, with Nakamura needed to make a save as Black nearly won with a Quebrada. Another crossbody is caught as Rusev dumps Ricochet with a swinging side slam, before Rusev took him to the top rope only for the Bar to tag themselves in and set up for an inverted Tower of Doom. Somehow, Ricochet landed on his feet out of it though, and he’s quickly back on top for a 630 splash that landed flush on Sheamus for a near-fall as everyone else broke up the cover! A Parade of Kicks keeps the match hot, including a massive Brogue Kick to Ricochet, before Uso superkicks leave Sheamus down for the Double Uce splash for the win. This was all kinds of chaotic fun, albeit over way too quickly, but this was a breath of fresh air after the prior match. ***¾
They recap the Hall of Fame. No, not that bit. Are you mad? Then it’s time for the annual parade, complete with DX as the headliners.
Falls Count Anywhere: Shane McMahon vs. The Miz
Shane stops halfway down the aisle so he can get another entrance… yeah, that’s what makes you obnoxious.
Shane runs outside at the bell, but he manages to beat Miz in the Benny Hill chase as he began to put a beating to his former tag team partner. Miz’s dad is at ringside, so of course Shane yells at him, before he begins to dismantle the English announce table. In the words of John Oliver, someone’s going to explode through it. A TV monitor’s thrown into Miz’s face, as Shane set up for his elbow off the top and through the table… but Miz’s dad hops the rail and acts as a human shield! Wow, that’s a way to come over like a tough guy. He enters the ring as he squares off against Shane, who corrects his stance… then puts the beating to him as Miz rushes back in for the save… taking Shane into the crowd before Miz went to check on his da’. The medical crew are slower than security, as Miz finally heads back into the crowd to brawl with Shane. Hey, they found a lighting rig, and hey, there’s a rather obvious crash pad in the vicinity.
Shane DDT’s Miz on a raised area for a near-fall, before Miz uses some cables to swing in with a dropkick, sending Shane sailing back into a guard railing. A chair’s swung by Miz as Shane’s foot was caught by a railing… and they’re going deeper into the crowd as I wonder just how high Shane’s going to dive from. They go through the international commentary row a little early, as they’re on two-man tear to break ALL the announce tables. Poor Charles Robinson, his attempts to keep the tables upright were futile… Miz jabs Shane with a TV monitor, sending him sailing off the raised area, bouncing off of the roof of a golf cart on his way down. CHRIST. They keep brawling, heading towards a tech area, where of course there’s a raised platform as Miz lands a Skull Crushing Finale for a near-fall. They move onto another platform, as Shane climbs even higher… but he’s at a dead end as Miz teases throwing him off… instead choosing to suplex him off the camera platform. GOOD GOD… but Shane lands on top, and Charles Robinson instantly makes the count, awarding the match to Shane. Oh, you mother… Well, this was your usual Shane McMahon match, with a few nice twists in among it all. ***
Paige is out next to do commentary for the women’s tag title match…
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship: The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection (Bayley & Sasha Banks) (c) vs. Nia Jax & Tamina vs. The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) vs. Beth Phoenix & Natalya
Well, we’ve got a loaded line-up here – especially since Bret Hart was out to accompany Beth and Natalya on the stage.
Tamina clears the ring early on so she could isolate Bayley, but she’s quickly swarmed as the referee lost control. Like he had it to begin with. Nia’s thrown into the ring steps as Peyton Banks apparently tagged herself in… getting cornered by the champions before ducking a Meteora to roll up Sasha for a two-count. The Iiconics hit a deadlift reverse Fidget Spinner for a near-fall on Sasha… and this crowd’s buzz has been replaced with the dreaded murmur as the Iiconics hit a double-team bulldog for a near-fall on Phoenix. Beth hits back with a double suplex, before bringing in Natalya for a Hart Attack for a near-fall. Sasha tags in, but she’s quickly overwhelmed by Natalya and Beth, who look for the double-team press slam… only for Bayley to make a save.
Out of nowhere, Sasha and Bayley worked Beth into a Bank Statement, but nobody else is around to make a save. Not even Nia or Tamina, who have vanished… Beth rolls through, but her Glam Slam attempt is rolled out of as Natalya comes in to wheelbarrow Sasha onto Bayley ahead of a stacked-up Sharpshooter. Finally Tamina woke up and breaks it up with a superkick, before Nia helped with a double headbutt to Beth. She’s tossed outside as the Iiconics… take double Samoan drops. Thanks for coming. Nia and Tamina then set up Sasha and Bayley near the corners for duelling big splashes off the top, but Beth’s thrown off while Tamina just dropped down on her own volition… because she didn’t want to win the match?
We quickly go to Bayley hitting a top rope elbow, while Sasha goes for a frog splash (?) onto Beth for a near-fall. The champions take Beth up top, as Natalya made a save with a spinning powerbomb to Sasha, allowing Beth the freedom to haul up Bayley for an avalanche Glam Slam… but there was a blind tag in that, and Billie Kay steals the pin to give us new champions! Well, the finish was creative, and the result led to a feelgood moment, but man, this dragged – with the crowd not really giving a stuff for the first half of the match. The real test follows – will the follow through on the women’s tag titles be cross brand, or will the Iiconics just hold them as props? **½
WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan (c)
Kofi Kingston, via the New Day, had to scratch and claw to get this chance in a feud that was eerily evocative of Bryan’s own chase five years ago.
The crowd was largely pro-Kofi, as we got loud “Kofi Kingston” chants from the opening headlock takedown. The pair go tit-for-tat on the mat, with Kofi flipping out of a monkey flip, taping Bryan outside ahead of a Fosbury flop… before we got shown the locker room cheering Kofi on. A headlock from Bryan led to shoulder tackles before he pulled down a leapfrog and went for a Romero special. Kofi gets free though and began to kick Bryan into the corner, before a leapfrog into a double stomp caught Bryan for a near-fall. Kofi keeps up the momentum with a clothesline and a Boom legdrop as Bryan rolled outside for a spot of respite… assisted by a baseball slide dropkick!
Kofi followed him outside, but his flying bodypress saw him land chest-first onto the Spanish announce table. OW. Back in the ring, Kofi’s draped across the top rope as some kicks wind him further ahead of a flying kneedrop to the back as he landed flush and picked up another two-count. Bryan keeps up the pressure with a waistlock bear hug, then a series of corner dropkicks, before he countered a Kofi stomp into a Lion Tamer! Kofi’s able to drag himself into the ropes for the break, only to get taken to the top rope as Bryan looked for a back superplex… which he was able to avoid after a series of back elbows before crashing into Bryan with a Shadows Over Hell splash to the back. I’m getting delirious.
Kofi tries to catch Bryan with Trouble in Paradise, but it’s countered into a Lion Tamer, then some small packages, before Kofi teases the SOS. It doesn’t happen, as a double jump crossbody comes off before Bryan pulled Kofi into a Lebell lock that’s quickly fought out of. A charge into the corner from Kofi ends with a push-down stomp, before Kofi came back with an SOS… only or Bryan to counter right back into a Lebell lock! Elbows from Bryan try to weaken Kofi more as an eventual rope break was forced… but Bryan’s just laughing this off! More kicks follow from the champion, but Kofi’s fired up and not about to stay down, as he finally fires back, catching Bryan in an inverted suplex out of nowhere for a near-fall.
Kofi rolls outside, where he’s blocked by Rowan… Xavier Woods takes the bullet as he was thrown into the commentary table. Ditto Big E, before a Trouble in Paradise leaves Rowan loopy ahead of a Midnight Hour. O-kay… Kofi swats away a dive threat from Bryan, but Bryan’s able to rush in with a Busaiku knee back inside for a near-fall… and this crowd is BELIEVING! With the New Day watching on, Bryan begins to stomp away on Kofi’s head, then rolled him down into a Lebell lock. Bryan clubs away on Kofi some more, but the challenger forces his way free, throwing some shots as he tried to break the hold, eventually raining down forearms on the champion before he returned the favour with some stomps of his own. OOF.
One Trouble in Paradise later… and Kofi gets the three-count! Cue delirium, backstage and in the stadium, as those WWE-spoiled shirts proved to be correct. What a story, what a rollercoaster – these guys had the crowd eating out of the palm of their hands throughout… and Kofi Kingston gets a gift afterwards… the “proper” WWE title, with Kofi sideplates. Hey, who knew you could tell a story without any bells and whistles?? ****½
There’s even gifts for Kofi’s kids – those New Champ Rocks shirts that WWE spoiled earlier!
From that, they flash us back to the Andre Battle Royal, and how Braun Strowman won. Backstage, Alexa Bliss has had a costume change and is apologising to the SNL guys… who then get taken care of by Dr Scott Hall and Dr Kevin Nash, who seems too happy to be preparing for proctology.
Booker T’s at ringside for this next match…
WWE United States Championship: Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe (c)
The international row of commentators are repaired, so we get the pan down them here… Joe seems to be extra angry, which isn’t helped when Rey, who’s dressed like a horse, takes him into the ropes for a 619… before his wheelbarrow off the top was caught and turned into a Kokina clutch for the submission. Well, that was quick… and disappointingly didn’t feature any storyline stuff either. Neigh rating.
Drew McIntyre vs. Roman Reigns
The US Police Department Bagpipe Band played Drew to the ring… while the crowd weren’t exactly positive for Roman Reigns.
Commentary’s pushing Roman as someone “fighting for the world” as he took down McIntyre with a Samoan drop early, before he caught Drew in the ropes with a kick and a legdrop to the outside. There’s a Glasgow kiss headbutt from Drew, who followed up by flinging Roman across the ring for a near-fall… and I don’t know if they still have the crowd mics muted, but this crowd weren’t exactly caring here. A clothesline from Roman took Drew off the ring apron again, before he rolled outside to try a Drive By… only for Drew to roll away in time. McIntyre followed up with a suplex off the apron, then an inverted Alabama slam for a near-fall as the crowd remained indifferent. Same again after a spider overhead belly-to-belly suplex out of the corner, as it seemed only one kid who kept screaming for Roman was interested.
Drew yells in Roman’s face as he prepared for a double-arm DDT, but Reigns fights back as a Mexican wave broke out live. Roman boots McIntyre outside again, this time following up with a Drive By, then with a leaping clothesline back inside as the tide started to turn… perhaps a little too quickly, as a single spear proved to be enough for the flat win. Story-wise, it was Roman passing his first big test back, but man, that match was super flat after the Kofi match. ***
Up next, Elias. Elias on the drums, in fact. Then on a piano. He’s in a music studio trying out every instrument… then live in the stadium with his guitar as they do the Three Faces of Foley stuff with him. I thought this was quite good, a refreshing change from his usual routine.
The crowd have lit-up wristbands spelling out his name as he teases the real performance… which is interrupted by breaking news: the appearance of OLD SCHOOL JOHN CENA! He’s bringing the self burns as he’s spitting bars like it’s 2004, threatening to Elias that he’ll “bury his push”. It’s still nostalgia, but this hasn’t been beaten to death… and I loved this.
Shawn Michaels is on commentary for this next one… we’ve had a big ol’ revolving door of commentators tonight.
No Holds Barred: Batista vs. Triple H
There’s the extra stipulation of Triple H putting his career on the line if he loses… and with Dave slipping in the ropes on his way in, this could be a long one.
Triple H, on the other hand, had his own convoy going across the desert in a Mad Max-style mini movie… and when they finally get to the ring, Batista charges Triple H into the corner before he ran in with a clothesline. Batista gets knocked to the outside as Triple H followed… and was sent across the English announce table as the brawl wasn’t as smooth as it could have looked. Triple H finds a tool box and jams it into Batista’s shoulder, before he pulled out some chain to whip Batista with. A monkey wrench is next, as he clamped down on Batista’s fingers, then stomped on the wrench and fingers for extra ouchie. There’s a handy chair by the commentary table, which Triple H uses in the ring before he used some pliers as he tried to rip out Batista’s nose ring. Holy God.
On the outside, Batista dumps Triple H through an announce table as his nose started to leak, Batista tries to break a table, but those announce desks were fortified, as we instead headed back inside as Batista got a two-count. A missed shoulder charge sends Batista into the ring post, as Triple H teases a Pedigree… but Batista countered into an Air Raid Crash for a near-fall somehow.
The ring steps bounce off of Triple H’s head as Batista then placed them on the Spanish announce table… which Batista places Triple H onto awkwardly as Shawn Michaels’ headset was broken. So we barely hear him protest as a Batista Bomb onto the steps was countered with a back body drop, with Batista bouncing off the English table. FINALLY A TABLE BREAKS, when Triple H spears Batista through the German table. Hallelujah, they’re not all made of steel.
Triple H starts hunting under the ring for something… a pair of sledgehammers! Except Batista spears Triple H before it could be used. Now Batista commandeers sledgie, except Hunter boots him away, only for a spinebuster to take Hunter down… following in with a Batista Bomb for another two-count. The ring steps come into play again as Batista labours to put them in the ring… and of course, he’s powerbombed as he bounces off them, before a quick Pedigree led to yet another near-fall. Time for Sledgie again, but Batista tops it with a DDT to Triple H on the steps.
All of a sudden, Ric Flair appears at ringside with a sledgehammer for Triple H… before he mouthed off at Batista, who turned around into a superman sledgehammer shot, then a Pedigree… and that’s all folks. Well, they started out hot with some grotesque stuff, but they struggled to maintain any pace, which made this torturous to watch towards the end. *½
Alexa Bliss is backstage with the t-shirts that they “would have sold” had Bryan not lost. Ron Simmons DAMNs it to hell.
Baron Corbin vs. Kurt Angle
This was billed as Angle’s farewell match, as everyone got the big match introductions. Problem is, as much as everyone likes Angle, I don’t think anyone wants this at this time.
Angle starts by clobbering Corbin at the bell, before an overhead belly-to-belly sent Baron flying. An eye rake got him free as some punches trap Kurt in the corner, before we got some house show basic bad guy work as Corbin trolled Angle’s kids. A missed leap catches Corbin in the ropes as Angle comes back with German suplexes for a two-count. Corbin avoids an Angle slam and boots Kurt, only to get caught in an ankle lock. He gets free, and catches Kurt in a Deep Six for a near-fall… but Kurt’s got enough in him toi hit an Angle slam, before an ankle lock eventually gets countered as Corbin rolled free.
Corbin mocks John Cena out of nowhere, to troll the fans who wanted to see Cena in his spot, which prompts Angle to fight back with more Germans. From there, Kurt heads up to the top rope for a moonsault… but Corbin rolls away and comes in with the End of Days for the win. Angle goes out on his back, and MetLife Stadium is stunned to silence. At least they kept this short, which makes this a match of the year contender after what came before it. **
After the match, Angle got the mic for his farewell speech. I guess the real one’ll be on Raw tomorrow, as Kurt asks to hear “you suck” one last time. Flair/Michaels this ain’t… nor was it ever going to be.
WWE Intercontinental Championship: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Finn Balor
It’s 11.30pm in New Jersey when the entrances started… we may be rushing a little here.
Balor’s Demon entrance saw him raised up and come down to earth, and we start with Balor leaping into Lashley with a spinning heel kick, an axe kick… and then a shotgun dropkick as the challenger wasn’t giving him any quarter. A tope con giro crashes into Lashley outside, but back in the ring Balor runs into a uranage, before he got hauled across the ring with a suplex from the apron in. Lashley repeats it, before he clotheslined Balor onto the apron. Balor catches Lashley with a Slingblade on the outside, then another shotgun dropkick before they rolled back in, where Lio Rush’s distraction earned Balor a spear off the apron. They’re so rushing through this, it’s not even funny.
Back inside, another spear crashes through Balor for a near-fall, before Balor manages to powerbomb the champion… leaving him down for a Coup de Grace for the win. Decent, but the fact we had two entrances and a match in under ten minutes meant we were so rushed, it was hardly worth the paint job. **½
Alexa Bliss comes out ahead of the main event to brag about the attendance: 82,265. In 2013, they’d announced a shade over 80,000… and I think that number may be worked. But first, we have a Dance Break, because why not?
WWE Raw Women’s Championship x WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship: Ronda Rousey (Raw) vs. Charlotte Flair (SmackDown) vs. Becky Lynch
Is this the coronation of The Man? For the first time, WWE headlines WrestleMania with the women’s championships, and even though it’s pushing midnight live, we’re getting the big entrances as Charlotte helicopters into the stadium, getting the red carpet treatment like her dad back in the day.
But first, a live performance of Bad Reputation with Joan Jett – which was a heck of an entrance… before Charlotte walked down the aisle… and then the noise that the tired crowd were able to make for Becky Lynch. No glitz. No glamour. Just strait-laced, with inverted Kill Bill-themed ring gear. It’s technically Monday morning when they get underway, with Becky and Ronda trading punches and kicks in the corner. There’s some wacky kicks that take Charlotte outside too, before Ronda hit duelling Pipers Pits to the other two on the outside. Becky manages to fight back as she threw Rousey into the post, before Charlotte and Becky got into the ring and traded blows.
Charlotte gets booed as she kicked out Becky’s injured knee, before she tried to mock Becky with her own Dis-Arm-Her finisher. Becky replies by mocking a Figure Four, only for Ronda to come in as she sure as hell didn’t seem to be holding back. A double-team powerbomb to Rousey looked to send her outside, but she counters with a hanging armbar… which a low dropkick from Becky led to Rousey landing hard on the floor. OW. With Rousey out, it was down to Charlotte and Becky again, with Charlotte going through some of her dad’s offence… and some of her own too. She climbs the ropes for a moonsault, but Becky catches her with a Dis-Arm-Her… only for Rousey to break it up with an armbar of her own… which Charlotte’s knee stopped. Just like the police car on Raw!
Becky’s thrown outside as Ronda’s lit up with chops, including one to the face, before she hit back… but Becky’s able to come back with a reverse/regular DDT combo for two near-falls. Uppercuts and headbutts from Becky are returned in kind by Flair, who then got caught with an avalanche Becksploder suplex for a near-fall. Ronda tries to pick up a win with a crossbody before she busted out Judo throws and a double armbar… but they easily powerbomb her away before Becky found a second wind, landing a uranage for a near-fall on Flair. Becky seems to be getting frustrated, but she finds an opening as she rolls Rousey into a Dis-Arm-Her, rolling her into better position before Ronda stood up to get free. We’ve a missed shoulder charge into the turnbuckle from Rousey, before Becky nearly took the fall after Charlotte landed a Spanish fly off the top… complete with a scary landing. Charlotte lands an Exploder on Rousey, only for Becky to again scramble into another submission attempt… but that’s shoved off as Flair took Rousey into the ring post for a Figure Four!
Back inside, Rousey nearly steals it with a small package to counter a Figure Four, but Flair kicks out and manages to apply the Figure Eight… with Lynch flying in from above to break it up!
Becky heads under the ring for plunder… and pulls out a table! Charlotte hobbles as she puts her onto the table, only for Becky to roll off as Flair got shoved to the outside, with Rousey flipping the table to piss off the crowd. Instead, she rains blows down on Becky, but gets caught in a spear by Flair who nearly took the win right there and then. Charlotte sets up the table and throws Rousey against it, but she has to change her focus with a spear on Becky for another two-count. Lynch and Rousey combined to hiptoss Charlotte into the table, before their sights went back on each other as Michael Cole barked about “winner take all” for the umpteenth time. A step-up knee cracks Becky, who’s then rolled up for a Piper’s Pit… but Becky rolls out and into a crucifix… and just like that, we’ve got a new double champion! That felt very abrupt, and the replays certainly showed the shoulders weren’t down… but who cares? Becky Lynch gets her moment, as fireworks showered the night sky to take us off the air. ***¾
WrestleManias in recent years have been hit and miss affairs – some good, some bad, and invariably a mixed taste left in the mouth. While your mileage will vary, this was the first year in a long whole where WrestleMania gave us happy endings. The proverbial rice pudding of shows, if you will. Albeit cold rice pudding. Yeah, sixteen matches meant some were perhaps in “wrong” spots for some fans, and we had a couple of relative squashes due to circumstance, but overall this was almost like the long mooted new direction of WWE “listening to the fans” actually delivered.
It’s just a shame that, as ever, the length of the show once again hurt reactions as the crowd tired, especially between the Kofi match and the main event, but hey, that’s a given these days.