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Kevin’s WWE WrestleMania Review

April 8, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Triple H WrestleMania 35
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Kevin’s WWE WrestleMania Review  

WWE WrestleMania
April 7th, 2019 | MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey | Attendance: 82,265

We’ll start with the four Kickoff matches.

WWE Cruiserweight Championship: Buddy Murphy [c] vs. Tony Nese
I love the contrast of this to last year’s Cruiserweight Title match. That was about respect between two friends and this was more personal. That allowed it to get off to a much more intense start and Buddy ended up with a busted eye pretty quickly. Nese brought the big babyface offense, but Murphy could just get in some strikes and overpower him. It made for a very good battle. They played off a lot on the fact that they know each other so well. Partners and friends will have that happen. I love that Nese got his foot on the ropes after Murphy’s Law instead of kicking out. Surprisingly, Nese hit a corner German and Tony’s Knees to win the title shortly after at the 10:42 mark. That was a very good way to start the show. It was intense, featured good counters from two guys who know each other well, and I liked the two-hit combo for the finish. [***½]

WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal
Naomi and Asuka got the solo entrances. Kairi Sane and Candice LeRae were in this. Ember Moon was back. Lana wore Wonder Woman gear. Asuka kicked hiss almost instantly. Nikki Cross got some cool moments to shine before getting eliminated. Ember was a highlight. She hit everything moving with Eclipse variations before Lana dumped her out. This had some awkward moments, like Sarah Logan knocking Sane off the top but then staring at her as she hung on instead of trying to eliminate her. The Riott Squad teamed up to throw some people out, Dana Brooke threw two of them out in a huge moment for her. The crowd was into her. She then got eliminated by Sonya and Mandy. It came down to Asuka, Sonya, and Sarah. Asuka fought them off and threw out Sonya before Sarah dumped her out. Carmella snuck back in from under the ring. She bested Sarah to win in 10:31. That was fun with some awkward moments. I don’t like repeating what Naomi did last year though. [**¾]

WWE Raw Tag Team Championship: The Revival [c] vs. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder
Hawkins is like the one guy who didn’t get the memo about getting better gear for Mania. It was rough. The Revival wrestled their kind of match. They isolated Ryder surprisingly. Each time he seemed to get an opening, the Revival would use their tag team knowhow to stay in control. Ryder got an opening with a double neckbreaker but still got cut off. Hawkins finally got the hot tag and did better than you’d expect. He picked up several near falls, coming so close to ending his losing streak. The intensity picked up as the fight moved outside, including Dawson hitting Hawkins with a Brainbuster. Dawson could’ve won with that but stopped to toy with Hawkins. It led to Hawkins using an inside cradle to win the titles in 13:19. A match with zero build that had the crowd completely invested. The Revival heat segment could have been better, but everything after the hot tag was strong. [***]

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Colin Jost came out in a Cleveland Browns Odell Beckham Jr. jersey. Amazing for heat. Braun dominated this, including absolutely launching Lince Dorado early on. Che and Jost immediately ducked outside and hid under the ring. Andrade did an awesome elimination of Kalisto before eating German suplexes from Gable. I’d be down for Andrade vs. Gable. Speaking of Andrade, he unfortunately eliminated himself when he hit a sick rana on Apollo on the apron. It came down to Braun and the SNL guys. Jost brought in a therapist but Braun beat him up. Che tried to eliminate himself out of fear but bully Braun hit him out. Jost came close when Braun’s leg got trapped on the trop rope. Braun then recovered and press slammed him into all the guys outside to win in 10:20. Your standard battle royal with some fun bits. [**¼]

Time for the main card. Our host, Alexa Bliss, came out after “America the Beautiful” and the opening video package. She said she could snap her fingers and give us a WrestleMania moment. As soon as she did that, Hulk Hogan came out. He called it the MetLife Center and posed with Alexa. At least they kept it short. Paul Heyman out and said that if Brock wasn’t main eventing, they wanted to get this done quickly and head somewhere he’ll be “ultimately” appreciated.

WWE Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar [c] w/ Paul Heyman vs. Seth Rollins
Seth got a special BEASTSLAYER entrance graphic. Brock jumped Seth as he got on the apron, attacking before the bell. Brock destroyed him and threw him in the ring. Then, he dumped him back out and eventually back in. They finally rang the bell and Brock had a huge upper hand. After a ref bump, Seth hit a low blow. DICK ATTACKS ARE BROCK’S WEAKNESS (also steel steps and diverticulitis). Seth hit three Curb Stomps and won the title in 2:29. Great storytelling. [***]

AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
Something of a dream match. They only met once and it was on a Smackdown episode. They went for the big blows early, including Orton trying an RKO within the first minute. After AJ missed a dive outside, Orton slowed the pace. It’s exactly the kind of thing he should do. That style serves him and goes against what AJ traditionally wants to do. There was an issue during the match where stadium lighting was blocking fans from seeing this. They focused more on that and it hurt some of this atmosphere. I dug AJ faking out the springboard RKO and then hitting the 450 splash. It’s a spot pulled from their only previous match. Once the lights went off, the crowd got more into this. Orton hit a sick superplex and the RKO for a near fall that Lawler telegraphed on commentary. AJ blocked a super RKO and hit a Phenomenal Forearm to the outside. He blocked another inside and hit a second Phenomenal Forearm to win in 16:08. A smartly worked match. Orton made this his style for most of it and they worked in some really cool spots. [***¾]

Lacey Evans came out for a second.

WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos [c] vs. Aleister Black and Ricochet vs. The Bar vs. Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura w/ Lana
Ricochet and Black came out last. They’re special. Only two men legal at a time in this one. Ricochet and Cesaro had a great little exchange that led to one of the longest big swings ever. I loved how Sheamus did his 10 Beats gimmick on like four different dudes, all while Cesaro was still spinning Ricochet. They kept up this inane pace throughout, with every team getting more than enough time to shine. With eight talented guys in this, that’s what I’m looking for. Ricochet nearly died on a big Tower of Doom spot but almost landed on his feet. I liked how Ricochet’s 630 was broken up by like, everyone. The desperation feeling was real. After a barrage of offense from everyone, the Usos used a double splash on Sheamus to retain in 10:04. An incredibly fun match. Everything moved along quickly, yet had time to breathe and everyone looked fantastic. [****]

The Hall of Fame class came out to get their recognition.

Falls Count Anywhere Match: The Miz vs. Shane McMahon
Shane made Greg Hamilton introduce him several times during his entrance. He ran at the bell and went after Miz’s dad, but used it as a ploy to goad Miz into a chase. From there, Shane had control in this brawl. Shane went for the big elbow through the table, only for Miz’s dad to stand in the way and beg him to get down. Shane obliged and then George got in the ring with him, preparing to fight. Shane attacked him but Miz got back in on the action to save him (Miz was bleeding pretty badly at this point and this segment helped doctors patch him up). While officials checked on George, Miz and Shane fought by the stage. Their fight saw them go through tables and take some pretty wild bumps. Shane kicked out of a Skull Crushing Finale on top of a scaffolding. They fought atop a much higher scaffolding position and Shane begged off with nowhere to run. Miz did an INSANE superplex off of it but when they landed, Shane was on top of Miz and got the three count in 15:27. What an incredible match. It was so different from everything else on the show and I love variety. They had a Falls Count Anywhere match where almost none of it took place in the ring. That’s what I want. The finishing spot was insane. Not sure on Shane winning but it looks like luck and not like he’s better than Miz. [****¼]

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship: The Boss-n-Hug Connection [c] vs. The Divas of Doom vs. The Iiconics vs. The Samoan Slaughterhouse
Paige joined commentary for this one. Bret Hart came out with Beth and Natalya for a moment, then they walked down to his theme and both wore black and pink. Billie and Peyton had cool entrance gear, with Billie wearing Maleficent themed horns. Like the Smackdown tag, this was two people legal at a time. I got some of the Sasha/Peyton match I’ve craved since I saw Sasha at Comic-Con in 2016 and she mentioned wanting to wrestle Peyton. The Iiconics showed off some good tandem offense and great character work. I popped for Beth and Nattie doing the Hart Attack. Beth seemingly hasn’t missed a beat. Nattie did her double Sharpshooter spot. It’s like the only cool one she knows. Beth nearly won it with an avalanche Glam Slam on Bayley, but the Iiconics came in and stole the pin after Billie blind tagged in. That made the Iiconics the champions in 10:46. Another good match. Keep them coming. Again, everyone got shine and had a standout moment other than the Samoan team. And I had to pop for that result. [***¼]

WWE Championship: Daniel Bryan [c] w/ Erick Rowan vs. Kofi Kingston w/ The New Day
Crowd was MOLTEN for this. As this got going, they cut backstage to show the roster watching intently. Their contrasting styles came into play early. Bryan grounded Kofi as he tried a leap frog and then he avoided a dive outside that gave him the upper hand. Bryan put the focus on Kofi’s midsection following that. It not only slowed the pace to something Bryan prefers, but it really wore down Kofi. It also mean Bryan could do submissions on the ribs and the lower back. Smart stuff. Kofi sold the hell out of it. It kept him from capitalizing on offense and he clutched at it consistently. I loved Bryan rolling Kofi’s offense into pin attempts. They were close calls, he’s won matches like that before, and it makes Kofi work hard to kick out so often. Kofi’s counter of the Busaiku Knee was sick, as was Bryan turning an SOS pin into the LeBelle Lock. Kofi fired up as Bryan kicked at him and laid in some of his own. Rowan tried getting involved so New Day stepped in and he took Midnight Hour on the floor. Kofi thought he had it but he ate the Busaiku Knee. When he kicked out, the place erupted. Kofi escaped a third LeBelle Lock with help from the crowd and the POWER OF POSITIVITY! He stomped on Bryan’s face as a measure of revenge and then hit Trouble in Paradise to win the title in 23:43. Incredible pro wrestling. I was so stressed watching this and I loved every second. They build and built without going an absurdly long time and gave us the finish we wanted. Beautiful drama, storytelling, and everything I could ask for in wrestling. The full five. [*****]

The New Day presented Kofi with the true WWE Title and celebrated with his children in the ring. What a moment.

WWE United States Championship: Samoa Joe [c] vs. Rey Mysterio
Booker T joined commentary for this one. He seemed to have just been crying for Kofi. This is Samoa Joe’s first WrestleMania match, even though he debuted on the main roster before Mania in 2017. Rey nearly won quickly but Joe caught him with the Coquina Clutch and retained in 0:59. Makes sense to have Joe as a monster and with Rey being hurt. Plus, you need this on a loaded card. [NR]

Drew McIntyre vs. Roman Reigns
McIntyre got a special entrance with drummers. It was cool. I came into this really wanting a 10 minute sprint filled with intensity. I didn’t exactly get that. Drew kicked Roman’s ass for most of this, including a wildly impressive walking inverted Alabama Slam. As Drew beat him up, he shouted that he broke the Shield. Roman fired up when he said that and began his big comeback. Superman Punch and eventually the Spear to win this in 10:09. It went 10 minutes but didn’t feel like the heated sprint I wanted. Still, it was good and Drew showed off some of his impressive power offense. Good stuff.[***]

Elias was here for his concert. We got clips of him on the drums and piano, while he also played the guitar like he normally does. Before he got off to an official song, he was interrupted by a strange video. It showed Babe Ruth calling his shot and putting him over as the greatest. It was an intro for BASIC THUGANOMICS JOHN CENA! Incredible. Cena rapped on Elias and ended by saying he wouldn’t get an AA, but an FU. And yes, he hit him with the move and dropped the Five Knuckle Shuffle. What a fun segment.

No Holds Barred Match: Batista vs. Triple H
Shawn Michaels joined commentary for this one. Special entrance for Batista, coming out from a car and having a bunch of security with him. HHH had a Mad Max style entrance. He must’ve finally watched Fury Road. I’ve criticized HHH for working overly long basic matches on big shows like this. He’s at his best in this environment and went right into making this a war. He used a chain and attempted to break Batista’s fingers with pliers. He dominated and shouted, “THAT’S A NICE NOSE RING” before ripping it out with the pliers! This was nuts. Batista turned the tide and took control for a while. It wasn’t as violent as HHH’s stuff, but it was effective. They fought to the announce table leading to a huge Spear spot from HHH. I love the twist on that. Back inside, Batista came close to winning on three different occasions, including after the Batista Bomb. After steel steps were introduced by Batista, it worked against him. HHH powerbombed him onto them and then nailed the Pedigree for a wild near fall. Ric Flair showed up and provided enough of a distraction for HHH to hit a jumping sledgehammer shot and a second Pedigree to win in 24: An absolute spectacle of a match. It was nuts and some of the most ridiculous wrestling I’ve ever seen. I loved it. [****]

Baron Corbin vs. Kurt Angle
JBL was the guest commentator here. Corbin didn’t bother to sport new gear tonight. Kurt threw some suplexes in this and got hit with the Deep Six for a close call. Corbin survived an Angle Slam and Ankle Lock before mocking the Cena “you can’t see me” taunt for everyone who wanted him out of this match. Angle tried too much, missing a moonsault. Corbin hit the End of Days and won in 5:58. Like Corbin of not, you go out on your back. Kurt put him over and I respect that. The match was about as fine as it could’ve been. [**]

Kurt thanked the crowd and asked them to sing “you suck” on his way out. He hugged his family and is officially retired.

WWE Intercontinental Championship: Bobby Lashley [c] w/ Lio Rush vs. Finn Balor
Demon Finn vs. Contacts Bobby. Balor burst out with a surge of offense including a tope con hilo. Lashley used his power to turn things around. His Big E style spear through the ropes was great. Finn came back with a surprising powerbomb. A Coup de Grace later and we had a new champion in 4:02. A bit longer than expected, but it was good. They both got in enough to look good without making the other look weak. Throw in some cool spots and I dug this. [***]

Alexa Bliss came out to announce a new attendance record of 82,265.

WWE Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championships: Charlotte [c] vs. Ronda Rousey [c] vs. Becky Lynch
Charlotte arrived in a helicopter. It was cool. Ronda had a live performance of her theme. It wasn’t good. Becky got a subdued entrance. She didn’t need flash but she looked magnificent. The women didn’t immediately attack, looking to size each other up. Ronda started hot but was taken out to give us more of the Becky/Charlotte rivalry. There was a great double hanging armbar spot that ended when Ronda took a NASTY bump on the floor. I loved Ronda no selling Charlotte chops and saying, “YOU CHOP LIKE A BITCH” and then Charlotte just chopped her in the face. Great stuff. We finally got the Ronda/Becky faceoff we’ve wanted since November. Becky instantly put her in the Dis-Arm-Her but Ronda used the ropes to help power out of the hold. I’m glad it wasn’t a rope break in a No DQ match. Becky nearly died on the big Spanish Fly spot Charlotte has been using lately. Becky brought in a table, but Ronda turned it over and just used her hands as a weapon. That’s so good. In the end, Becky and Ronda just started throwing hands and it was fantastic. Ronda picked Becky up on her shoulders but Becky countered into a pin to win both titles in 21:27. I love that finish. Reminded me of the finish at Unbreakable 2005 where they did a bunch of wild stuff and it ended on a flash pin of sorts. I would have preferred a more decisive or submission finish, but this makes sense to set up things down the line. Still, the match itself was great. Hard hitting, great pacing, and some solid drama. [****¼]

The final score: review Virtually Perfect
The 411
You’ll probably scoff at this but I’m gonna say. This is the greatest WrestleMania of all time. There were a bunch of great matches and the only things that were okay at best like Corbin/Angle, were kept short. Kofi/Bryan is in the conversation for best Mania match ever. That is one of the better Mania main events ever. Miz and Shane killed it. HHH/Batista was nuts. AJ/Orton ruled. The Smackdown Tag Title match ruled. And they made almost every right booking decision. Seth. Finn. Iiconics. Becky. Kofi. WWE can miss when a show goes this long but they nailed the pacing and put on a classic. I can’t say enough about how great this show was.

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Kevin Pantoja