By: Jamie Henry –
It’s the event of the year – WRESTLEMANIA – coming to you from the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans. Starting off the pre-show/kick-off show is the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Aiden English is the first to be eliminated, surprisingly enough, to boos. The match is slow going, and eventually it comes down to Mojo Rawley, Baron Corbin and Matt Hardy. Before anything can happen, Bray Waytt interrupts, causing a distraction and allowing Hardy to win.
At this point, the kick off begins on the USA Network with the Cruiserweights Mustafa Ali vs Cedric Alexander for the Crusierweight Championship. Alexander wins the Cruiserweight Championship, hugging Ali quickly before celebrating.
The Women’s Battle Royal begins with Carmella being eliminated first while it seems like the women are going to eliminate each other one at a time, going after Dana Brooke next, who is swiftly eliminated. After that, all the women go after one another, Bianca Belair managing a 450 to Kairi Sane to cheers. Eventually, Bayley nearly wins, throwing Sasha Banks to the floor. Bayley believes she has won only to turn around and see Naomi, who throws Bayley out, winning the first Women’s Battle Royal.
Wrestlemania’s main card begins with Seth Rollins vs Finn Balor vs The Miz for the Intercontinental Championship. Balor displays incredible athleticism early on by throwing himself over the top rope to land on Miz and Rollins. Miz manages an amazing kick when Rollins attempts to do a Frog Splash towards him before placing Balor into a Figure-Four. Balor nearly pins Rollins with a counter to his Falcon Arrow and Miz nearly pins Rollins shortly after by doing a Skull Crushing Finale. Eventually, Rollins wins the Intercontinental Championship by pinning Miz with a Curbstomp.
Charlotte vs Asuka for the Smackdown Women’s Championship is next. Both woman have great spots, Flair doing Suplexes and Natural Selections while Asuka does Asuka Locks. Eventually, Flair shocks the New Orleans crowd by breaking Asuka’s win streak by forcing her to tap out to the Figure-Four.
Before the next match can begin, a referee runs to where John Cena has been sitting since the pre-show, telling him Undertaker has arrived. At first, Cena doesn’t believe it, but he eventually jumps over the barricade and heads backstage.
Jinder Mahal vs Bobby Roode vs Rusev vs Randy Orton for the United States Championship is up next. The entire match is good – Orton does his RKO spots, Roode does Frog Splashes while the crowd is into the match alongside Glorious DDT’s with Rusev doing Matchka Kicks and Mahal winning the match by pinning Rusev with a Kalass.
Next match is Triple H and Stephanie McMahon vs Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey. The match is full of Triple H and Stephanie taking cheats, distracting referees to get cheap shots, which I find hilarious as Rousey looks on in frustration. Eventually, Angle tags Rousey in to screams of McMahon calling for Triple H, going into the equivalent of Lesnar’s ‘beast mode’. Just as Rousey is about to pin McMahon, Triple H pulls the referee out of the ring and then Rousey’s when she begins trash talking his wife. Eventually, Angle and Triple H go at it. The match goes on, the crowd into it, before eventually Rousey pins Stephanie by making her tap.
Up next is The New Day vs The Bludgeon Brothers vs The Uso’s for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship. The match is wholly dominated by the Bludgeon Brothers, with the monsters winning the match, which is such a shame as The Uso’s deserved more than that.
John Cena comes out, but a referee soon follows after him and says something, causing a disappointed look on Cena’s face as the crowd chants, “Undertaker”. Instead, the lights go out to a huge pop, and instead of Undertaker’s gong, we instead hear the strum of a guitar before Elias comes out to spoil the moment. Following Elias’ serenade however, Cena walks up the ramp, and the lights go out once more and Undertaker’s coat and hat from Wrestlemania 33 suddenly appear in the ring – before ‘lightning’ makes them disappear and Taker’s bells toll. After weeks of rumours, the Phenom finally appears as fire lights up the stadium. What followed was essentially a squash match with the Deadman brought his Mania record to 24-2.
Next up is the highly anticipated return of Daniel Bryan after being cleared to wrestle again after two-years. In a match that pits Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs Smackdown Live GMs Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan, Owens and Zayn fight to be reinstated, while McMahon and Bryan battle to regain control. Owens and Zayn attack McMahon and Bryan from behind, with McMahon being thrown over the barricade in front of his family. Notable spots include Owens’ devastating Powerbomb to Bryan onto the apron, and McMahon’s Coast to Coast on Zayn. But just as Owens is about to pin McMahon, Bryan comes barrelling through, with his ring rust being worn off. Eventually, Bryan forces Zayn to tap out with a Yes Lock. Welcome back, Bryan!
Next is Nia Jax vs Alexa Bliss for the RAW Women’s Championship. Jax attacks Mickie James, who had come out with Bliss before the match begins, throwing her into the barricade. Once the match starts, Jax has the power early on before Bliss tries to take out Jax’s knee. Bliss manages to do a Twisted Bliss to Jax outside the ring while Jax manages to do a clothesline. Jax attempts a Samoan Drop, which Bliss counters towards a failed Sunset Flip. Jax throws Bliss into the corner, as Jax drags Bliss towards the center of the ring before she plays dirty, poking Jax’s eye when the referee’s back is turned. Eventually, Jax scores the pin and becomes the new Women’s Champion when she puts Bliss into a Samoan Drop from the second rope.
Next is what can only be described as a “dream match” between a pair of indie darlings in Shinsuke Nakamura and AJ Styles for the WWE Championship. Nakamura comes out with an amazing theme, like always, the highlight. The match is slow, both men using such moves as Calf Crushers and Triangles. Either the crowd is exhausted or this self-proclaimed ‘dream match’ isn’t holding much interest as the noise level only just begins to rise a good 15 minutes into it. The two throw punches, nearly pinning one another at different points before eventually Styles retains with a Styles Clash. When it seems like Nakamura is going to congratulate Styles for his win in a classy way, he lands a low blow to Styles before continuously kicking him out of the ring to boos from the crowd.
Cesaro and Sheamus vs Braun and Surprise Partner are next for the RAW Tag Team Championships. Braun comes out and the crowd is rowdy, wondering who his partner is while he sends the cart that The Bar came out in, to the floor. While rumours circulated that guys like Bautista or James Ellsworth would fill the slot of Strowman’s mystery partner, hopes disintegrated when Strowman journeys through the crowd, and eventually picks a 10-year-old fan named Nicholas, who surprise both The Bar and the crowd and win the RAW Tag Team titles.
Lastly is Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns for the WWE Universal Championship. The match starts off with Lesnar in control, F5ing and Suplexing Reigns every chance he gets. What felt like dozens of F5s later, and Reigns still kicks out, making the move seem weak and ineffective. Towards the end of the match, Lesnar busts open Reigns hard way, which is a rare occurance in PG era WWE. And despite a last-minute Reigns rally with a Spear, Lesnar goes on to retain the title in a match that can best be described as boring.