WrestleMania 35 is in the books and right away I’ll tell you. It could be in the conversation as one of the best WrestleMania’s WWE has produced in recent years and could be in the conversation as on of the best of all-time.
Time was the only concern here. The kickoff show started at 5 pm and the historic women’s main event ended around 12:30 am. It was a long show but with 16 matches on the card and being the biggest event in WWE, it is expected.
Here are my thoughts for each match, from the four pre-show matches to the mentioned main event.
Cruiserweight Championship – Tony Nese def. Buddy Murphy (c) (pre-show)
The Crusierweight division opened the show as Buddy Murphy defended his title against Tony Nese. This was a high-energy opener, which was a perfect way to start the event.
The match combined aerial moves with stiff striking. Nese looked impressive here, nearly scoring a pinfall from a springboard moonsault and continued with corkscrew moonsaults, followed by a 450 splash. Murphy hit his Murphy’s Law finisher but Nese was able to extend his foot to the rope to avoid the loss. He answered with a German suplex to the second turnbuckle and a running knee in the corner the victory.
Nese as Cruiserweight Champion means Murphy’s impressive six-month reign as champion comes to an end. It likely means that Murphy will soon be moved to either Raw or SmackDown during next week’s Superstar Shakeup.
WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal – Carmella last eliminated Sarah Logan (pre-show)
The first of two battle royal’s came next. The match had little build coming in but this was far better than last year’s Women’s Battle Royal.
Ember Moon returned from a six-month injury and looked great here, connecting with an Eclipse off the top rope to Mandy Rose. The Riott Squad received strong booking throughout and teamed up for a series of eliminations. Dana Brooke was surprisingly booked strong here, eliminating both Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott. Logan looked to have the win here after eliminating Sonya Deville and favorite Asuka, but Carmella, who was hiding outside of the ring, dove back into the match and eliminated Logan with a superkick.
Could this mean a push for Carmella? Who knows, giving the history of the winner booked in past battle royals. Still, it was a nice WrestleMania moment for her.
Raw Tag Team Championship – Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder def. The Revival (c) (pre-show)
The story here was Curt Hawkins looking for his first win in 269 matches as he teamed with Zack Ryder to take on Raw Tag Team Champions The Revival.
Revival relied on old school wrestling and a series of double team moves to get the win. A suplex attempt from Ryder on Wilder sent both men over the top rope. Dawson then hit Hawkins with a brainbuster onto the floor, leaving him out cold for an extended period. Dawson threw him back into the ring but Hawkins played possum and rolled up Dawson for the pin and his first championship in WWE in almost a decade.
A nice feel-good moment for the hometown team. The crowd enjoyed Hawkins finally getting his first win in two years.
André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal – Braun Strowman last eliminated Colin Jost (pre-show)
There was some build here, mainly between Braun Strowman and SNL stars Michael Che and Colin Jost, who hid under the ring right away. Jost played a good heel here as he wore an Odell Beckham Jr. Cleveland Browns jersey.
The match itself had a mix of high spots and hard eliminations which including Strowman kicking a returning Luke Harper and Ali off the apron. Andrade was on a roll here but landed a hurricanrana on Apollo Crews off the apron to accidentally eliminate himself, which was an odd choice here.
Strowman, in the end, was fighting with The Hardy Boyz and SNL stars took the opportunity to try to eliminate the big man but were unsuccessful. An angered Strowman punched Che off the apron and threw Jost out of the match.
A fun action packed battle royal with not as many superstars as last year so a lot of superstars go their chance to shine.
Universal Championship – Seth Rollins def. Brock Lesnar (c)
After an opening segment with Alexa Bliss and Hulk Hogan, Paul Heyman power walked to the ring and said if Lesnar was not main eventing, he was fighting first and getting out of New York so he could jump on a plane to Las Vegas where he’s “ultimately appreciated.”
This was a surprising opener but well booked. Brock Lesnar jumped Seth Rollins before he even reached the ring and delivered an extended beating before the match began.
Lesnar threw Rollins back into the ring and delivered three straight German Suplexes before the bell even rang. Rollins used a low blow to change momentum and hit a trio of Stomp finishers to get the upset win. A clean win here means that Lesnar will finally step away from the ring to focus on his rumored UFC against Daniel Cormier in August.
Finally, the Universal Championship will be on Raw on a weekly basis and truly, that is all that matters. Rollins is the top guy on Raw and will finally see feuds for Raw’s top prize defended regularly on T.V. and monthly pay-per-views.
AJ Styles def. Randy Orton
While this was not necessarily a classic, this matchup between two all-time greats told a great story. Styles avoided multiple RKO attempts throughout until The Viper finally landed one but Styles surprisingly kicked out at two to get a nice pop from the crowd.
The spot of the match here was when Styles landed a Phenomenal Forearm onto the floor. Back into the ring, Styles attempted one more forearm but was countered by an RKO attempt. Styles, however, countered him back with a chin-breaker on the ropes and followed with a perfect forearm finisher.
While we were expecting this match to tear the house down, this was a solid match indeed by two veteran superstars.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship – The Usos (c) def. The Bar, Aleister Black & Ricochet and Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura
This was booked as an afterthought when the match was made a few days before WrestleMania but this match turned out to be a lot better than what people thought.
There was a nice combination of well-handled comedic spots, like a long Cesaro swing in the center of the ring on Ricochet as Sheamus landed 10 Beats of the Bodhran on the remaining five competitors in succession, with high-paced action.
Former NXT standouts Ricochet and Aleister Black appeared to be headed toward a title win after Black cleared out the ring with kicks and Ricochet landed his 630 splash on Sheamus, but the remaining four members dove in at the same time to break the pin.
A wild sequence of finishing strikes by each superstar followed late. The match ended when Sheamus ate a pair of double super kicks and splashes from The Usos to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championships.
Despite a lot of people in the match, everyone here got their chance to shine on the biggest stage. Hopefully, WWE books their tag team matches more seriously heading into the new year.
Shane McMahon def. The Miz in a Falls Count Anywhere match
This match was a car crash which is expected in these types of matches. The Miz brought hatred and aggression to match trying to protect his father from Shane McMahon. The creative use of the stadium for this match was brilliant too.
Early in the match, Miz’s father George Mizanin jump the barricade to stand over his son to prevent McMahon from coming off the top rope. Mizanin also entered the ring to get into McMahon’s face and was stomped and punched in the corner. An angry Miz moved the fight outside of the ring.
The two brawled violently through the crowd and into the international announce table. McMahon was tossed over a railing and onto the top of a golf cart behind it. The finish came with McMahon was begging for mercy and apologizing after the two climbed up atop a large camera platform. Miz picked up McMahon for a suplex off of the scaffolding rig and onto a padded area below. With McMahon laying on top, the referee counted to three, giving the victory to McMahon.
A violent match that the crowd really enjoyed. The suplex at the end might be one of the most iconic scenes in WrestleMania history. The victory here believes that this feud is far from over and if their second match was anything like this, I am all for it.
Women’s Tag Team Championship – The IIconics def. The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection (c), The Divas of Doom and Nia Jax & Tamina
This match here was a lot better than expected, giving the number of superstars in the ring. There were plenty of moments here which included Natalya placing Sasha Banks and Bayley in a double sharpshooter.
The finish was nicely detailed here. Beth Phoenix hit an incredible Glam Slam on Bayley off the top rope. Before the moved happened, Billie Kay slapped Phoenix, making her the legal woman in the match. Peyton Royce ran in to break up the pin and knocked Phoenix out of the ring. Kay swooped in to steal the pin and there was a huge pop for the new Women’s tag champions.
An unexpected win here but a nice WrestleMania moment for The IIconics. It did not top the previous men’s fatal-4-way tag, but still a good match regardless.
WWE Championship – Kofi Kingston def. Daniel Bryan (c)
A match that was 11 years in the making as Kofi Kingston was in his first singles match for the WWE Championship. Kingston fought out of a long and debilitating LeBell Lock attempt from Daniel Bryan to work the crowd into a frenzy. Teased interference from Rowan and Big E and Xavier Woods taking him out got the crowd into the match. Kingston won after hitting Trouble in Paradise which led to the internet and stadium erupting. The celebration was great as Big E and Woods as well as Kingston’s two sons joined him in the ring to hand him the original WWE Championship belt and a new Kofi Kingston shirt (which I immediately bought.)
Kingston is one of my favorites in the WWE and I have been a fan of him since he debuted in 2008. The story leading up to this match was fantastic and the match kept me glued to the T.V. throughout. How long does Kingston holds onto the title is anyones guess, but having that WrestleMania moment was one of the best ones I have ever witnessed.
United States Championship – Samoa Joe (c) def. Rey Mysterio
Rey Mysterio has been dealing with an ankle injury so no one knew if he would be able to compete. The match ended up being a little over a minute but it was filled with action. Mysterio landed a 619 and set up a splash off the top rope, Samoa Joe caught him mid-air. He applied the Coquina Clutch and sat back for the quick tap.
While it was short, the good part about this match was that it further cemented how dominant of a heel Joe has been.
Roman Reigns def. Drew McIntyre
Coming off the emotion shown by the crowd in Kofi Kingston’s WWE championship victory, the crowd was quiet throughout. Drew McIntyre had the early momentum throughout but Roman Reigns rallied with a Superman punch with a spear for the win.
The match was physical but nothing special. WWE chose to give Reigns the win here but maybe his character didn’t even need. McIntyre had a lot of heat coming in and giving him the win against the inspiring Reigns to set him up for a potential Seth Rollins Universal title feud. Still, the real-life comeback from leukemia last month was still a feel-good story.
Triple H def. Batista in a No Holds Barred match
This match was a lot better than how the crowd reacted due to the time WrestleMania was at up to this point. Would it have been better if this match was placed earlier on the card? Probably. Still, this match told a great story as Triple H was fighting against his former Evolution buddy in order to keep his job.
The match was chaotic and had a lot of spots here which included Triple H sitting on a chair over a fallen Batista as he used a needle-nosed plier to yank out his nose ring. Ric Flair ran in to hand Triple H a sledgehammer and struck Batista with it to get the win. The match was filled with dramatic near falls, weapons and table spots outside the ring and kickouts on finishing moves. Pretty impressive for two legends nearing 50. This was also the last match for Batista, as he announced his retirement from professional wrestling from his Twitter account.
So Batista, thank you so many memorable moments in WWE and best of luck to you in the future!
Baron Corbin def. Kurt Angle
A match no one was looking forward to. Not because of Kurt Angle and being his final match but who he went up against in Baron Corbin. The match was short as Angle landed four consecutive German suplexes. A missed moonsault from the top rope allowed Corbin to hit End of Days for the win.
It makes sense from the business standpoint, as it is a tradition for the veteran to put over a young wrestler to start a new era. In reality, most of us would of preferred a better opponent in Angle’s final match.
Nonetheless, thank you Kurt Angle for the memories and best of luck to you in your post-wrestling life.
Intercontinental Championship – Finn Bálor def. Bobby Lashley (c)
Given the time of the match (being close to midnight right around the match ended), the crowd seemed a little dead. Still, this was a quick match that had the right guy win.
Bobby Lashley delivered the only memorable spot of the match when he speared Finn Bálor through the ropes and off the apron before the two crashed onto the floor. In the end, Bálor was able to lift the much larger Lashley to powerbomb him and followed with his Coup de Grace finish for the pin. It was cool to see Bálor as his “Demon” persona here but other than that, it was a quick match that was stuck in an awkward spot with the historic main event to follow.
Raw & SmackDown Women’s Championship – Becky Lynch def. Ronda Rousey (c) and Charlotte Flair (c) in a Winner takes all match
The historic all-women’s main event closed out the show a little after midnight. The winner of the triple threat match would win both the SmackDown and Raw Women’s championships. Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey have been at the top of the women’s division for the past year and there was a lot of momentum heading into the match.
There were a lot of spots including Flair landing a Spanish Fly from the top rope and Lynch breaking up a Figure 8 Leg Lock by landing a leg drop off the top rope onto Flair. The finish, however, seemed slightly botched as Rousey’s shoulders were clearly up during the three count.
Was this how it was supposed to happen? We may not know. That being said, it shouldn’t overshadow the incredible performance all three superstars did in the main event. A physical match that had the right person win. Now we have a new era of “Becky Two Belts.”
Yeah, it was a long pay-per-view. 16 matches in a seven an a half-hours is a long time, but I give WWE a lot of credit. They did a great job booking the event from start to finish. All three fan favorites in the top title matches (Seth Rollins, Kofi Kingston and Becky Lynch) were spaced out perfectly so one would not outshine the other. The other matches on the card like the SmackDown Tag Team match and the Triple H/Batista match were also good matches to watch. The Miz/Shane McMahon car crash was a nice break of regular wrestling matches and had a memorable spot there.
Overall, a quality WrestleMania and could be in the conversation as one of the best ‘Mania’s of all time.