Previously on the Best and Worst of WrestleMania: WrestleMania decided to become inclusive for the first time in 34 years, Asuka and Charlotte Flair stole the show, a 10-year old won the Tag Team Championship, Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey still looked like they wanted to be here, and Daniel Bryan returned. What a difference a year makes.
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Here’s the Best and Worst of WWE WrestleMania 35 for April 7, 2018.
Before We Begin
It doesn’t need to be said, but this is officially the year when WWE needs to decide what the hell they’re doing with their long-ass pay-per-views. The doors for the show opened around 3:30 on Sunday, and the main event didn’t start until literally Monday morning. While this is on brand for a lot of shows on WrestleMania weekend, but a 16-match card plus celebrity appearances plus comedy sketches plus impromptu fights plus musical performances plus pomp and circumstance for WWE existing while finding room for 49 personalities to appear, not counting special guest commentators for all the important matches and two entire battle royals full of people and celebrities is too goddamn much.
When you run your historic main event at midnight when people have already been in the building watching wrestling for seven-plus hours, you’re going to see diminishing returns. There was a full hour of content between Kofi Kingston winning and Becky Lynch winning that could’ve been cut completely and not changed the show for the worse. No disrespect to WWE Superstars needed a spot on the biggest show of the year, but you’ve already got 10 championships and two battle royal trophies to defend. At this point you either need to:
- realize that some people just aren’t going to make it onto the Mania card, like it used to be, and run your 9-10 best matches without fatal four-waying and battle royaling everything, or
- do what New Japan Pro Wrestling is doing with Wrestle Kingdom and make it a two day event.
You can run a nostalgia card on the first night with Triple H or some secondary championship main-eventing — or one of your multitude of “world championships” that deserve a spotlight somewhere other than in your opener — and run the rest of it with the modern stars on Sunday. Or just split it up, who cares? The point is that we want to watch a lot of wrestling, but this is too much at once, and if you’re renting out a building for the garbage Hall of Fame ceremony and setting up for Mania in the stadium all week anyway, just run two nights in the stadium, make double your money, and stop asking us to find our way out of New Jersey at two in the fucking ante meridiem.
Better yet, run Axxess in a damn annex on the side of the building instead of in an abandoned ship yard in the middle of nowhere. Put all this stuff into a pile and vacuum our money up instead of spacing it out and trying to “take over a city” where the Uber drivers have no idea what a WrestleMania is and the best promotion you get at the airport is a badly propped-up banner beside an Au Bon Pain.
Best: Melodramatic WrestleMania Openings
Super self-serious WrestleMania opening video packages are among my favorite things in the world. I love them, and “what would happen if Fort Minor remade Fantasia” is pitch-perfect for this show and company.
An Endless Loop Of OneRepublic Presents The WrestleMania Kickoff Show
Up first on the pre-show, because of course it is, is the Cruiserweight Championship match between Buddy Murphy and Tony Nese.
To their credit, they’re out here in front of 1/4 the crowd at like five in the afternoon doing everything they can possibly do, because 205 Live is the shit and a quarter of a stadium crowd is still thousands of people. Buddy Murphy continues to be the best imaginable Great Value Kenny Omega (which is not an insult, Great Value® makes fine products), and having the title change hands was both unexpected and a hot way to pop the early crowd. That said, this isn’t nearly as good as Murphy’s recent under-appreciated pay-per-view efforts, because as athletic and fit as he is, Tony Nese is nowhere near the wrestler that Cedric Alexander, Akira Tozawa, and
Mustafa Ali are.
The kickoff show was all about hat-tipping the New Yorkers on the roster though, so I’ll give it a thumbs up. I just think the cruiserweights should’ve accrued enough trust and good will at this point to at least go on at the end of these kickoff shows. They certainly deserved a more prestigious spot than the Raw Tag Team Championship match that was accidentally announced because the WrestleMania program went on sale before anyone bothered to promote it.
The highlight of the Uterus Cup battle royal (besides Elle Collins and their undying fanaticism for anything Carmella-related) had to be the in-ring return of Ember Moon, who looked fantastic and now has hair that kinda makes her look like a cheeseburger. In a better world where she hadn’t gotten injured at the worst possible time, she would’ve been on the main card wrestling Asuka for the Smackdown Women’s Championship.
There were some negatives, of course, like Naomi having to do an awkward daytime version of her entrance and Nikki Cross getting tossed way, way too soon, but I liked the selection of talent it came down to. Asuka is obviously an unappreciated ace, but Sarah Logan, Sonya Deville, and Carmella all did great in their roles. There’s a great undercurrent of female talent on the main roster who could be headlining in important matches for the company with just minor tweaks, and bolstering them with vets like Asuka and Mickie James and Ruby Riott can keep them moving forward until those tweaks figure themselves out.
But seriously guys, that trophy is embarrassing. Chyna’s in the Hall of Fame now, just make it the Chyna Cup next year. Put her on the top with her arms crossed like on the Andre trophy, we’ll all be into it.
I wish The Revival had pulled a Bret Hart and drawn a big A, E, W in the air with their fingers after the match.
This was another “thanks for being from New York” moment, with Spirit Squad member Curt Hawkins finally breaking his nearly 300-match long losing streak by pinning Scott Dawson with the Play Possum Payback ability from WWE 2K19. It is what it is. The Revival deserve so much better than this, especially after Dash Wilder became a global hero at the Hall of Fame ceremony, but at least now maybe Zack Ryder with a championship belt will lure Mojo Rawley out of the Stardust Promo Room. Hopefully Ryder will continue his “whoops, I ruined my WrestleMania moment the next night” streak he started that time he won the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania 32 and immediately lost it on Raw.
Yes, the silver lining I can find here is “maybe Mojo Rawley and Rob Gronkowski will win championships on Raw.” I’m trying. Otherwise this would’ve just been a video of a monkey pissing into its own mouth.
Finally there’s the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which balances “hey, this is fun,” with, “hey, it sure is depressing to see my favorites relegated to cannon fodder!” The stuff with Colin Jost and Michael Che was probably better than anyone could’ve expected it to be (and Braun really needed a win on a big stage here), but watching EC3, Tyler Breeze, and especially Andrade eliminated via helplessness and/or stupidity was pretty sad. Again, that’s what happens when you try to jam a hundred wrestlers onto the same card. At least about 20 of them are gonna feel like they should really be doing something better with their lives.
I also wish that if they’d had a camera down there to film Che and Jost doing bad improv while the match was going on, they’d have had Hornswoggle wandering around under there with them. Better yet, they should’ve found themselves in Literal Hell, because other than a court for little people, that’s what’s been established as “under the ring.” How hilarious would it have been if this had been where they’d gotten the Undertaker onto the show? Or Pete Davidson dressed as the Undertaker, whatever.
Fingers crossed that with Lesnar finally gone (?), Braun Strowman can start moving back up the card again and get important matches with lasting consequences on important shows instead of smashing his face into the glass ceiling and getting stuck with comedians, children, and B-show PPV losses.
Worst: Alexa Bliss As Thanos
She snaps her fingers, and half my interest in the show dies. Alexa Bliss as “host” was a pretty sad night overall, as all she was able to do was announce the attendance, have the nWo randomly appear to gleefully jam their fingers up Colin Jost’s asshole, and summon a racist grandpa. Thor really should’ve gone for the head.
Shout-out to garbage-ass Hulk Hogan for trying to make a joke about calling the arena by the wrong name, then actually calling the arena by the wrong name.
Best: School Of Brock
Hogan’s meandering nonsense is quickly interrupted by humanitarian hero Paul Heyman, who announces that if Brock Lesnar isn’t going on last, he’s not going to sit around all night and would rather hop on a plane back to Las Vegas where he’d “ultimately” be more appreciated. Lesnar shows up for a fight, and Heyman once again proves he’s a genius by having his client perform while the crowd is red hot, and not dying from exhaustion at one in the morning.
I’ve read some reviews of this match that thought it was “bad” because it was so short, or sites that normally give star ratings giving it a “not rated” like it doesn’t quality as a match, and I couldn’t disagree more. Aside from Rey Mysterio’s too-literal cosplay and a couple of the other title changes (you know the ones), this was one of my favorite parts of the show. It:
- started off the show with an important title match and actually provided an in-universe, character-accurate reason why it’d be going on first, instead of WWE general “this is the least important main event in our eight announced ‘main events'” malaise. Of course Brock would feel slighted by the women going on last, and of course Brock would want to just maul his opponent and fly home without having to sit through five hours of a bunch of co-workers he couldn’t possibly give a shit about.
- created the perfect context for Rollins vs. Lesnar, in which Rollins gets a big entrance and tries to psychologically one-up Lesnar and gets thrown into the goddamn ground over and over because of it. Brock’s sense of urgency in destroying Rollins now works in two ways; he wants to get this over with and go home, and he’s a little insulted that this latest in a long line of little agile internet darlings thinks he can stab Brock’s tattoo with one of Brock’s other tattoos
- set up the Rollins low blow as a deserved bit of comeuppance instead of a “face cheating,” as Lesnar’s pre-match attack saw the champ make the first “dirty” move and deserve that instant karma
- showed that Seth Rollins is smart enough to capitalize on an opportunity and follow through with a gameplan, which both validated his strength as a resilient babyface and showed his “architect” nickname was actually earned
- showed that Rollins actually talked to Roman Reigns about fighting Brock Lesnar at some point over the past couple of months and knows that if you get lucky and hit your finisher on him, you need to hit at least two more in a row before going for the pin
- finally removes Lesnar from the Universal Championship picture
- gives Raw a fighting champion who will actually be there every week and have great matches we can see more than 2-3 times a year
- showed Lesnar enough disrespect in defeat that he’s got a great reason to come back and kill folks again, should he want to
I think that if you put all that together, it deserves something much better than “not rated.” Brock Lesnar is secretly still the best big match performer in pro wrestling, as long as he’s in there with someone exciting who knows how to work him and not a big slow dude sandbagging him. It’s like the Undertaker used to be; you put him in the ring with a big strong guy, it’s gonna suck, but if you put him in there with someone who can challenge him with exciting physicality, he can adapt to it and put on something great.
Worst/Best: Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling
You figure on a show this long and packed there are gonna be “cool down” matches, and now that WWE can’t throw the Divas out there in a pillow fight for three minutes between main events, the cool down match has taken the form of two relatively important characters having a perfectly fine match you’re probably going to forget by Wednesday.
The first of these was AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton. Randy Orton is Randy Orton, you know? He’s going to wrestle that one Randy Orton match. He’s the opposite of Brock in that he outright refuses to adapt to his opponent. They have to have his match, with the slow stomping and the slow, “methodical” chinlocks, even if they’re “the best wrestler in the world” ending a hot feud on the biggest show of the year. See Orton’s old main event with Triple H as the best example of this, and this match with Styles as the most recent.
Most of the predictions revolved around, “what fun idea for an RKO did they come up with?” That didn’t happen, though, as Styles countered Orton’s RKO counter to his Phenomenal Forearm and just won the match. I’m not going to fault them for not doing the thing we said would make the match interesting, but they didn’t really do anything else to make it interesting, so … cool? This is one of those matches they could’ve done on a Night One of WrestleMania, and that would’ve fit and felt better if it wasn’t jammed between way better stuff. It was fine.
The other match like this, unfortunately, was Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre. We either wanted a star-making domination from Drew that set him up as a true monster threat and gave Roman Reigns’ character some much needed in-ring vulnerability to go with his newly found real life vulnerability, or we wanted Roman to kick a bunch of ass and stand tall as the guy who shit-kicked cancer and took back his yard.
Instead, we got … Styles vs. Orton, basically, but without the counters. It was solid, just like Styles vs. Orton, but there was absolutely no fire or crowd engagement, and they just kinda went through the motions for eleven minutes. Reigns won, but he didn’t feel strong or intense in his victory, and McIntyre just kinda looked like a chump again. It’s sad, because McIntyre beating the dog mess out of The Shield set a compelling precedent for the match with Reigns. This could’ve been a show stealer with two guys beating the hell out of each other, but it was just a perfectly fine TV match that could’ve just as easily been Bobby Lashley vs. Dean Ambrose. It going on late in the show in that death slot between Kofi Kingston’s win and whatever Triple H was going for probably didn’t help.
Both of these matches could’ve been worse, and both could’ve been much, much better.
Best: Not All Mr. Heroes Wear Capes
Miz vs. Shane McMahon might’ve been the most surprisingly enjoyable match on the card, because Miz’s fire-ups are so damn good, and Shane’s such an easy to hate character. Also, George F’n Mizanin puttin’ up his dukes.
If that’s not one of the lasting images from this year’s WrestleMania, I swear.
The actual fighting was lethargic and very Shane McMahon, as he’s still throwing little brother punches and kicks that don’t look like they could hurt Monroe Sky, much less The Miz, but again, the story was good enough to keep it moving and interesting. George was definitely the hero, though, and that suplex at the end definitely looked better on TV than it did from close up. I know these are real people and I don’t want them to kill themselves, but WWE’s otherwise crack production team really needs to take a few seconsd to make those crash pads look less like giant mattresses.
Shane pinning Miz while unconscious was an interesting point, but anything that gets us to a SummerSlam match between super babyface The Miz and super heel Daniel Bryan is okay with me.
Best: Everyone In The Smackdown Tag Team Match
First of all, I’m so happy the Usos finally got to be on the main card as the defending champions in an exciting tag team match that didn’t involve them getting fed to the worst versions of Erick Rowan and Luke Harper. The Usos are among the best wrestlers, best characters, and best personalities in the promotion, and now that they’ve re-signed for five years, it’s finally time to start treating them like the tag team legends they are.
Second of all, holy shit at everything in this video. I might be mistaken, but I think Ricochet’s lucha headscissors followed by him getting uppercutted to fuck followed by him getting swung around like 75 times while Sheamus Bodhrán-beat everyone else’s ribcages into dust might’ve been the best actual in-ring moment of the entire show. Absolutely spectacular. Despite Sheamus winning nearly everything you can win in WWE and Cesaro being undervalued for so long it’s almost exhausting as a fan to still be pointing it out, The Bar remain the most underrated team in the world.
Also, holy shit again, Ricochet and Aleister Black are competing at WrestleMania. Go back a few years and tell yourself that Prince Puma and Tommy End would be out here killing it at WrestleMania as a tag team and see how much your pre-Crisis brain spins.
Oh, and we certainly can’t talk about tag team matches at WrestleMania without talking about …
BEST: THE II-BY GOD-CONICS
I bet you didn’t know this was my favorite part of the show.
While the actual match was pretty bad — what can you do with Tamina and Nia Jax and Natalya, I mean, honestly — I’m never going to think about it, because (1) The IIconics entered the ring as the dark Gods Aleister Black prays to, and (2) LEFT THE RING AS THE NEW WOMEN’S TAG TEAM CHAMPIONS. If you heard a random “yes” chant off in the distance last night, that was me standing up in the press booth and almost falling out of the window.
I wanted this to happen more than anything, but I didn’t think there was a chance in Hell of them actually doing it. The rush of joy I felt when I saw Billie blind-tag herself in during Beth Phoenix’s Glam Slam off the ropes is hard to put into words, and when they slid in to shit-can Beth and steal the pin it felt like I was going down a hill on a roller coaster. I am so, so happy for these women, who are apparently being recognized for the amazing work they’ve been doing under the radar in various parts of the organization for years. They are our site favorites, and we’re still happy clapping about their win.
If you’re still like, “weh, The IIconics,” please watch this …
… followed by this. Full spectrum.
The only downside is that now that they can be on every brand, every night’s going to be, “oh God, I hope the IIconics don’t lose the belts to somebody tonight.” If we can get through Monday and Tuesday of post-WrestleMania shows at least, I think we’ll be good.
Best: Kofi Mania
It’s the perfect intersection of moments.
Kofi Kingston has been here for 11 years. Every year we’re like, “let Kofi win the Royal Rumble,” so all those “narrowly avoiding elimination” spots could mean something. He never did. On the Tuesday afternoon before Elimination Chamber, he wasn’t involved in the title picture. It wasn’t even a possibility. Ali had somehow found his way into that spot and gotten hurt, and someone needed to step up. That’s what Kofi does. He steps up.
A week later, the entire crowd at Elimination Chamber was begging for him to pin Daniel Bryan and win the WWE Championship. It was one episode of Smackdown and one Chamber performance, and a crowd went from “New Day’s pretty funny and cool” to “KOFI KINGSTON DESERVES TO BE THE TOP MAN IN THIS COMPANY.” Instead of letting that momentum die, he — and we — kept pushing forward. Kofi became such a story and a presence in the title picture that people who’d spent six months dying for Becky Lynch to get the main event and make history were like, “okay, but also, Kofi Kingston?” He started doing the best work of his career, positioned against a heel champion who (1) is notably giving to his opponents and does everything he can to get them over, (2) is doing the best work of his career, and (3) has a comparable enough story to Kofi’s that recent WWE history can come together in an amazing dichotomy of a man who has never gotten a chance going up against a man who fought for his dreams to get to the top, and let reality spoil him to its wonder. Also, he’s the best wrestler in the world.
Nothing could stop this from being a classic. They delivered in every segment from the first Smackdown gauntlet match until the three count at Mania. It had history. it had workrate. It had two veterans cut from the same cloth fighting for the same reason, with one of them shadowed and misguided because of pain and adversity. Daniel Bryan being hateful now has a lot to do with him thinking his wrestling career would be over, and how hard WWE fought to keep him from being cleared and coming back, and how he wasted so much of his good neck trying to be a hero for a company that hates heroes. Kofi, who has spent his life dealing with adversity that Bryan could never even consider, just keeps his head down and tries to do the right thing for his friends, fans, and family. He hasn’t been rotted from the inside by success yet.
The match is amazing. It’s everything it needed to be. The crowd was there The seconds at ringside hit their cues and spots at the right time for the right reasons. It was a gift box and two competing title belts trying to will themselves into existence. It was little kids. It was the planet. It was the culture.
For once in a WWE generation, the right man won, at the right time, for the right reason. I am the world’s biggest Daniel Bryan fan, and even I had to root for Kofi. Rooting for Bryan here is missing the point of being alive. It’s missing out on the reality that while yeah, life can beat you down and make you cold, your heart still pumps warm blood, and you still have people behind you with their hands on your shoulders helping you move forward.
It’s an incredible moment and memory for pro wrestling and pro wrestling fans, and if you didn’t get a lump in your throat watching Big E, Xavier Woods, and Kofi’s kids celebrating with him in the ring, I don’t know what to tell you, and I hope you get there someday.
(Just don’t put the victory shirts up on WWE Shop and get them tweeted everywhere while the match is still happening, you jerks.)
Best: Rey As Mysterio
This made the teenage lucha libre and Spider-Man fan inside my heart soar.
Best: Beat At Joe’s
Making the jaded adult who is already very tired at the wrestling show inside my heart soar is the followup, in which Samoa Joe takes Rey Mysterio goddamn woodshed in about a minute and chokes him out to retain the United States Championship. Where the hell has this Joe been? Not only did it free up some time on the show, it made Samoa Joe (rightfully) look like the most ruthless and bad-ass threat in the world. SO GOOD.
Best: Avenge The Fallen
Poor Batista. The last time he came back he ended up being nothing but a meme. This time he shows up doing some of the best character work he’s ever done, still ends up mostly a meme, and then gets his bad-ass WrestleMania entrance where he almost falls on his face getting in through the ropes.
He was probably going to retire after this match anyway, but if he wasn’t, he definitely made the decision while he was in there walking on his hands.
Worst: Triple H’s Annual 30-Minute Show Killer
If there’s one thing Triple H needs to learn from the last year and a half of trying to stay an in-ring competitor, it’s that he needs to finally, finally be done having this glacial, momentum-murdering 20-40 minute hardcore matches in the main events of shows. This was 100% the low point of the pay-per-view, as two guys who shouldn’t be going more than 10 minutes go 25 and look progressively more embarrassing as they go.
Triple H has been doing this for a while. His long-ass match with Roman Reigns was terrible. His long-ass matches with Kane and the Undertaker in Saudi Arabia were very terrible. He tore his pec and came back to have a match against a semi-retired actor who hasn’t wrestled in years, and they decide to go longer than the WWE Championship match, longer than the Winner Take All women’s main event, and longer than both main card tag team title matches put together? On a show that was already too long? At like 11 PM, when there are three matches left?
HHH, if you’re reading this (and I know you are), we love you for what you do with NXT. A lot of us love you for what you did back in the day with D-Generation X, and the McMahon-Helmsley Regime, and Evolution, and whatever else. A lot of us think you’ve still got something left in the tank, and even jerks like me recognize your singles math that opened WrestleMania 30 as one of the best WWE PPV openers ever. But brother, your in-ring career is like your hair at this point; it’s starting to seriously slip, and you’re better just shaving it off.
And that Beverly Hillbillies car you rode in on made the Power Wheels tricycle look like Shawn’s zipline at WrestleMania 12. Just walk to the ring normally in the first hour of shows and put somebody over in a fun 8-12 minutes. Bringing back Batista in 2019 and going half an hour between two more imporant and shorter main events is some Hulk Hogan bringing back the Warrior in ’98 to get his 10-year old win back shit.
The only positive I can find here is that Batista’s big blue nose ring we were making fun of turned out to be a worked nose ring all along. That’s carnie as hell, and I loved it. Everything else, not so much.
Worst: You Suck
The next two matches, which came between the long-ass Triple H match and the main event, went a combined 10 minutes. They should’ve lasted about 30 seconds each.
The first was the “farewell match” for Kurt Angle, which … yep, just ended up being a six minute, clean victory for evil TGI Friday’s shift lead Baron Corbin. There’s not much to say here, other than that Angle losing clean to Corbin to end his career and asking everyone in the crowd to chant “you suck” at him as he leaves is the biggest cuck move in wrestling history. Jeff Jarrett was backstage watching like, “wow, seriously Kurt?”
Kurt deserved better here, and like 1% of it is Baron Corbin’s fault.
Best, I Guess: Demon Days
Finn Bálor getting a big Cthulu entrance for The Demon was pretty cool, but again, it happened at like 11:45 after the show had been on for six hours. It guaranteed darkness, at least, but imagine how hype the crowd would’ve been for this if it’d happened at 9? They seriously could’ve cropped about six matches off this card and it would’ve been the best WrestleMania of all time.
Also, again, if the show was running late, Corbin should’ve just squashed Angle (or Angle should’ve broken Corbin’s ankle to open the match, or whatever got them in and out) and The Demon should’ve just been the Rush to Bobby Lashley’s Dalton Castle and smoked him in half a minute. This late, 15 matches into a day-long show is not the time for lightly competitve Intercontinental Championship action.
Best: CM Punk Was Right
Best: John Cena Plays The Hits
But for real, this segment was a banger.
It started with Elias trying to perform a song with two pre-taped versions of himself on different instruments, which he interacted with like they were other members of his band. Aside from the IIconics becoming Tag Team Champions, that was a billion percent the best part of the show for me. He’s interrupted by John Cena, of course, but it’s the DOCTOR OF THUGANOMICS John, who is probably still everybody’s favorite. It’s like Shield Roman. It’s the guy you know before all the divisive stuff that makes it hard to cheer for that guy.
Cena not only shows up as the old character, he plays all the hits; bad photoshop jokes, using a literal bag of nuts to illustrate his nutsack, and self-referential worked-shoot disses. It’s the worst thing in the world, which makes it great. Here’s the rap, in case you need another transcription.
The Doctor of Thuganomics is back
and poor Elias has got the worst deal
’cause you standing the ring with John Cena about to turn heel
Silence your cell phone, hold your applause, shut your mouth, and no string plucks
I feel like I’m watching one of my movies because this whole damn thing sucks
This means walk with Elias? Nah, I’m not really feelin’ it
Because without the guitar what it really means is wasted wrestling experiment
I’m a bad man, my style like a pitbull bit you
And you ain’t even half a dog, you just a little piece of shitzu
I’d ask you to do a duet, but you’d just put it on the shelf
Because everybody here just saw you only like playin’ with yourself
And they call me the Golden Shovel, so I’m about to bury your push
Your face looks like my nuts except you got a hairier bush
It looks like I wore out my welcome. It’s about time that I left you.
So there’ll be now AA for today, but you are about to get the F.U.
If you’re gonna bury someone and do the obvious, at least make it fun. Bless you, hip hop John Cena. ‘Bad, Bad Man’ still slaps.
Best: Becky Two Belts
Finally we have the history making main event … going on at midnight.
As I talked about earlier, the women involved in this match had nothing to do with the disservice done to it. The match had written itself back at SummerSlam, and again involving Ronda Rousey by November. Everything from like, January until early April made the match build worse, but it didn’t matter, because the fans were so into seeing it. BECK-Y BECK-Y chants all over the place. Social media buzz all over the place. By the time they got to that really great video package, WWE production proved once again that as long as they get their shots, the builds are never going to be as important to a match or as good as the pre-match video package. WWE is the Steph Curry of these things.
The match got everything it needed from WWE. It got a series of great entrances, with Charlotte Flair doing a Ric Flair-quality helicopter entrance and Ronda Rousey getting Joan Jett to play her to the ring. Becky’s entrance was simple, as it needed to be thematically. Think Triple H’s grand entrance at WrestleMania 30, followed by Daniel Bryan just walking out like normal.
The work in the match was there. All three women hit their spots and beat the mess out of each other. It was brutal, and intense, and sometimes extremely dangerous looking. It got time, too. 20 minutes. The finish was, at least in a broad sense, what it needed to be: Becky Lynch defeating Ronda Rousey, specifically, to become the double champion of the world at the end of the biggest show of the year.
In practice, a few things kept it from really needing to be where it deserved to be. The first, as we’ve said a lot, is that it was at the very end of an ENTIRE DAY of pro wrestling. At the end of a wrestling weekend, where a large portion of the crowd had gone to similar marathon shows for days. We were exhausted. Plus, this was at the end of a WrestleMania that’d already seen Seth Rollins defeat Brock Lesnar, Kofi Kingston defeat Daniel Bryan, a John Cena appearance, tons of other happy feel-good stuff. It’s hard to muster the right kind of energy when you’ve already expended so much of it, for so long, and it’s Monday morning. And you’re worrying about how you’re gonna get home, and the weather’s turning. It’s just a lot.
And after all of that, Ronda didn’t get her shoulders down on the crucifix pin, which makes it feel more like a set up for a future show than it probably was supposed to, and Ronda getting pinned with a flash pin doesn’t feel decisive. Ronda didn’t sell anything afterward. She didn’t sell the match or the emotion. She was just kinda mad-confused, then left. It’s the right decision, done in a way that doesn’t feel satisfying enough. This needed to be the end, period. Now it feels like a maybe, and an if, and a what’s gonna happen next. It shouldn’t have mattered seconds after the pin in the main event of WrestleMania. We should’ve just been happy, and Ronda should’ve tapped out and sat there at ringside holding her arm and moping. What Charlotte was doing, basically, because Charlotte knows how to do this.
If the show had been put together with any of this in mind, and they’d cut about an hour and a half of it — at least that worthless hour right before this, with Triple H vs. Batista and those throwaway last minute matches, and all the video packages and attendance announcements to burn us out — it would’ve been the main event the women deserved. As it stands, I think it was still historic, important, and well done. But it wasn’t completely right, and I hope the next step is Ronda sticking around long enough to take a real loss to Lynch in front of a hot crowd that hasn’t had to sit through half an hour of Grandpa Fights.
Best: Top 10 Comments Of The Night
When a Batista match is good, they are great. But as Drax warned us, he also has “famously huge turds.”
Tamina’s wrestling is less convincing than her father’s alibi.
Looking back, its pretty poetic that the first Women’s Main Event at Wrestlemania would end with a roll up.
Kevin Nash Booked This
In the back Vince is giving himself a pat on the back for finally giving Shelton Benjamin the WWE Title.
ONE MORE TIME
The Real Birdman
Brock trying to get out of New Jersey as soon as possible is the most I’ve ever empathized with him
Following up a Hulk Hogan segment with a match finishing with a move from American History X is a bold strategy.
Jushin Thunder Bieber
“Charlotte looking for her patented moonsault!” And seeing as it missed, I’d say she got it.
How do you have Carmella win that and not have Truth come down to congratulate her, only to throw her over the top and celebrate his victory?
Jason Jordan not allowed to sit with the rest of Angle’s family? Kurt, you heel!
Guys I’m legit shedding tears right now. When you know the emotion is real, when you think back to those original New Day preacher vignettes, when you remember the Randy Orton thing, when you remember the really worn out Rumble spots, when you realize how this all came about organically, it’s why we put up with all the bullshit. All the terrible stuff. For moments like the one Kofi just had. Bravo to him and Xavier, Big E, and Bryan.
I have to be honest, watching wrestling while doing live threads with you nuts makes the show 25% more enjoyable.
That’s it for this year’s WrestleMania. Next year, we definitely need a BREAK …
I said, we need a BREAK.
Thanks as always for reading, and for keeping us in the business of writing wrestling jokes for another year. Getting to be a part of these things live and meeting all the surprisingly cool people in pro wrestling media makes it all worth it, and knowing we’ve got such a deep, expansive community of good-hearted, funny wrestling fans who give a shit about what’s going on and each other makes my heart even happer than Billie and Peyton do. Thank you. I mean it.
Drop a comment down below to let us know what you thought of the show, give us a social media share or three to make this the biggest Best and Worst of the year, and we’ll see you next year at Pirate Mania. Paul Burchill vs. Kairi Sane is gonna be tight.