By DALE PLUMMER and NICK TYLWALK – SlamWrestling.net
There’s no question that WWE leadership has an unenviable task trying to put together WrestleMania each year. The most famous wrestling event in the world has to deliver spectacle, serve as the culmination to the previous year’s most prominent storylines, and keep fans entertained for hours, and WrestleMania 35 at MetLife Stadium did its best to go three for three.
There was no lack of impressive visuals thanks to an incredibly large screen at the entrance stage, with pyro and fireworks throughout. The two biggest fan favorites on the card, Becky Lynch and Kofi Kingston, also achieved popular victories of the type that any good WrestleMania serves up.
However, WWE’s attempts to top itself every year have also led to a “bigger is better” trend in terms of the running time, which adds to the degree of difficulty of getting the match order and pacing just right. At well over five hours, much longer than any regular PPV (or sporting event of any kind, for that matter), WrestleMania 35 again seemed to wear out the crowd before it finished. Kingston’s victory felt like a lifetime away from when the bell rang on Lynch’s history-making women’s main event showdown against Charlotte Flair and Ronday Rousey, a bout that was full of memorable action but ended aruptly and awkwardly enough to take some of the air out of the moment.
Flair arrived by helicopter and literally had the red carpet rolled out for her. Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Joan Jett and the Blackhearts were in the house as well, playing Rousey’s theme song live. Lynch got no such theatrics, but she also didn’t need them as the overwhelming sentimental favorite in this matchup.
After an intense staredown, Lynch went after Rousey, who repelled that attack and knocked Flair to the floor. She smashed both her foes out on the floor, but Lynch sent her face-first into the ringpost and Flair flipped her back into the barricade.
The crowd chanted for Becky as she faced off with Charlotte, who ended an exchange of strikes with a kick to Becky’s bad knee. Rousey’s quick return to the action stunned Flair, but only for a second. Rousey punished Flair’s arm while hanging over the ropes, leading to a painful looking spot where a Lynch dropkick bounced Rowdy hard off the apron and the floor.
With Rousey temporarily out of action again, Flair smashed Lynch’s face into the canvas repeatedly. The Queen attempted a moonsault, and while Lynch fought it off and went for the Disarm-Her, Rousey quickly re-entered the fray. Natural Selection by Flair led to her covering both of her opponents, but to no avail.
A vicious exchange of chops and slaps led to Rousey attempting an armbar, but Flair reversed it into her own submission hold before Lynch rallied with a double DDT. She tried covering both Rousey and Flair only to see both kick out.
Flair’s climb to the top turnbuckle backfired as usual, with Lynch delivering a Becksploder and setting off another sequence of near falls. Rousey tried for a double armbar, but Lynch and Flair lifted her up for three consecutive tandem powerbombs. Flair covered Rousey after chucking Lynch to the outside, but that wasn’t enough to win it.
Lynch slid back in for a urinage slam on Flair, good for another two count. She then turned her attention to Rousey, suplexing her and locking on the Disarm-Her. Unable to get a rope break because of the triple threat rules, she instead pulled herself up using the ropes, and Flair kicked Lynch to ensure she couldn’t win the match.
Flair kicked Lynch out to the floor again and shifted to punishing Rousey’s left knee. The Queen took a moment to throw Lynch into the barricade and applied the Figure Four before bridging into the Figure Eight. Out of nowhere, The Man launched herself from the top rope to break up the submission with a legdrop.
With a look of determination, Lynch retrieved a table from beneath the ring. She set it up but had her face bounced off it by Flair. Rousey’s hustle sent Flair to the floor before she expressed her disdain for tables. Flair hit a double spear and tried two covers, both unsuccessful.
Flair’s next idea was to set up a table in the corner, then smash Rousey’s face into it multiple times. A quick spear by Charlotte left her frustrated after she saw Becky kick out once again at two. She was taken out of the equation again to allow Rousey and Lynch to throw hands. That set up a rather abrupt ending, as Rousey went for Piper’s Pit and Lynch shifted her position to have Rousey’s shoulders pinned to the mat. The ref counted to three, and The Man beat the odds to win both belts.
Was it a great sight seeing Lynch hold the gold? Unquestionably, and it was the kind of last act WrestleMania should have. It’s just that the suddenness of the finish caught fans off guard, and the replay showing Rousey’s shoulders may not have been down smacked of setting up something for the weeks to come, something that WrestleMania usually is better off not doing.
And while a lot of fun overall, WrestleMania 35 absolutely put its crowd to the test when it came to keeping its energy up for a long night. The lesson from this night in New Jersey might well have been that just because the Showcase of Immortals can push five and a half hours doesn’t mean it should.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Money in the Bank on May 19.
WrestleMania Pre-Show Results
Pre-Show Match #1 – Buddy Murphy (champion) vs. Tony Nese (challenger) – WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match
Winner via pinfall … and new Cruiserweight champion: Tony Nese
Pre-Show Match #2 – WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal
Winner of the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal: Carmella
Pre-Show Match #3 – The Revival (champions) vs. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins (challengers) – RAW Tag Team Championship Match
Winners via pinfall … and new RAW Tag Team Champions: Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins
Pre-Show Match #4 – Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Winner of the Andre the Giant Battle Royal: Braun Strowman
WrestleMania 35 Main Card Results
Hi, welcome all. Settle in for a card that is starting on April 7 but is almost certainly going to end on April 8, except on the West Coast. Following the most time-honored of traditions, Nick’s bits of this recap are in plain type, with Dale’s in italics.
Yolanda Adams kicks off the show with a stirring rendition of “America the Beautiful,” backed by a full choir.
Alexa Bliss, the host of WrestleMania, tells the fans they don’t just need a host, they need a goddess. She also claims all she has to do to create a WrestleMania moment is to snap her fingers. Bliss does exactly that, and Hulk Hogan comes out on stage. The Hulkster jokes about being in the Silverdome, but then also seriously calls the venue the MetLife Center. Sooooooo close Hogan. You just missed it. While Hulk and Alexa do some posing, Paul Heyman struts down to the ring. He’s upset about his client not going on last, so he wants to get their business done early. The Universal Championship match as the curtain-jerker? That’s a bold move, Cotton. Let’s see if it pays off.
Match #1 – Brock Lesnar (champion) vs. Seth Rollins (challenger) – WWE Universal Championship Match
Lesnar is apparently unimpressed by Rollins’ Beast Slayer entrance, going after him right after the bell rings. An F-5 on the outside leads to Seth getting thrown into the LED screen on the apron and then the barricade. One set of announcers has to scurry for safety as Lesnar hurls the challenger over a table not once, but twice. One of the German announcers takes a bump as Rollins goes flying over that table as well, then goes crashing through the top of it. They head back into the ring for Seth’s first two trips to Suplex City, but Rollins uses a low blow while the ref is otherwise occupied to get some breathing room. He hits the Stomp three times in quick succession, and we’ve got ourselves a new Universal Champion. If there was ever any doubt that Lesnar was on his way out of WWE, that should finish it off.
Winner via pinfall, and new WWE Universal Champion: Seth Rollins
Match Rating: 6/10
Even WrestleMania isn’t immune to Lacey Evans walking out and waving. Is that a bigger deal because it’s on the grandest stage of them all? Get that PPV bonus, I suppose.
Match #2 – AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
Orton looks for an early RKO, but Styles is able to block it. Styles responds with a forearm smash over the top rope. Styles is blasted into the security barrier and then slammed over it. Orton pulls Styles back into the ring and slows things down with a headlock. Styles with a ushigoroshi. Orton hits a powerslam and follows with the draping DDT. Styles counters into a Calf Crusher. Orton is able to grab the ropes to break the hold. Styles feints at the Phenomenal Forearm, causing Orton to look for an RKO. Styles hits the 450 off the ropes on a prone Orton. Styles misses a forearm, eating a back breaker. Orton delivers a superplex but cannot get the pin. Orton with a draping DDT off the second rope. Orton with an RKO, but Styles kicks out. Orton sets AJ up on the tope rope, looking for an RKO. Styles slips out, nails a Pele kick and Orton falls to the floor. Styles delivers a Phenomenal Forearm to Orton on the floor. Styles calls for it again, Orton catches him, but Styles is able to counter the counter. Styles hits the forearm and covers Orton to get the win.
Winner via pinfall: AJ Styles
Match rating: 8/10
Match #3 – The Usos (champion) vs. The Bar (challengers) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev w/Lana (challengers) vs. Ricochet and Aleister Black (challengers) – Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match
The match is a flurry of action and tags. Ricochet is sent for a spin by Cesaro as Sheamus beats on Nakamura. Sheamus delivers shots to everyone as Ricochet is stiill being spun. Cesaro lock in the Sharpshooter. An Uso superkick breaks the hold. Black connects on a springboard moonsault to Rusev, but Nakamura breaks the pin. Rusev slams Ricochet to the mat after catching him attempting a cross body. The Bar tags in and the Usos join them, followed by Shinsuke and Rusev. Ricochet is about to become a victim of a super-superplex, but he lands on his feet and rolls out unscathed. Ricochet gets to the top rope, hitting Sheamus with the 630, but everyone leaps in to break the pin. Cesaro catches Jey with a uppercut coming off the top rope, starting off a run of finishers. Sheamus eats the double superkick from the Usos. They go to opposite ring posts and hit the Double Uso. Sheamus is covered and the Uso pick up the win.
Winners via pinfall … and still Smackdown Tag Team Champions: The Usos
Match rating: 8/10
Match #4 – Shane McMahon vs. The Miz – Falls Count Anywhere Match
Shane runs out of the ring at the sound of the bell. Shane goes after Miz’s father, who is in the front row. Shane suckers Miz into a cheap shot. Shane clears off an announce table and clocks Miz with a monitor. Shane climbs the turnbuckle. Miz’s dad runs out to protect his son, and Mr. Miz wants a piece of Shane. He enters the ring, putting up his dukes. Shane knees Mr. Miz and stomps him into the corner. Miz shoots back into the ring and starts to lay a beating on Shane. The fight spills to the floor, with Shane getting slammed into the security barrier. Miz goes to check on his dad. Miz leaps into the crowd to lay hands on Shane. Miz slams Shane into one of the support structures. Shane answers with a DDT. Miz unloads on Shane with a chair to the knee. The fight spills into the international announce tables. Miz sends Shane flying over a railing after nailing him with a monitor. Miz hits the Skull Crushing Finale atop a camera tower, but Shane kicks out. Shane climbs even higher on the camera tower. Miz catches up with him and Shane begs for mercy. Miz lays into Shane. Miz suplexes Shane off the tower and both men crash through a stage. Shane is on top of Miz. The ref makes the three count and Shane picks up the win.
Winner via pinfall: Shane McMahon
Match Rating: 8.5/10
Match #5 – The Boss and Hug connection (champion) vs. The IIconics (challengers) vs. Tamina and Nia Jax (challengers) vs. Natalya and Beth Phoenix (challengers) – Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
Though Tamina and Bayley start the match in the ring, it almost feels like Tornado rules as other combatants wade in at will in the opening moments. Nattie gets the first close near fall before her pinfall is broken up, and the champs end up scrapping with Natalya and Beth. Phoenix ends up in the Bank Statement, but she escapes and tags in Natalya to place both Bayley and Sasha in the Sharpshooter at once. Tamina ends that hold with a kick to the head, and both she and Tamina return to face off against the IIconics. Nia and Tamina have thoughts of a double jump off opposite turnbuckles, but Phoenix chucks Jax to the floor. A Sasha frog splash nearly but doesn’t quite pin Beth, who has been one of the legal women for quite some time. With Phoenix and Bayley up on the top rope, Billie Kay secretly tags herself in. The Glamazon delivers a super facebuster, but Peyton Royce tosses Phoenix out of the ring, and Billie covers Bayley to win the titles. Did not see that coming.
Winners via pinfall… and new WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions: The IIconics
Match rating: 6.5/10
Match #6 – Daniel Bryan w/Rowan (champion) vs. Kofi Kingston w/Big E and Xavier Woods (challenger) – WWE Title Match
Kofi with some early offense, so Bryan rolls to the floor to consult with Rowan. Bryan catches Kofi in mid-air and locks in a surfboard. Kofi breaks free and unloads a series of kicks. Kofi with a stomp, but he can’t get the pin. Kofi hits the Boom Drop and then kicks Bryan out of the ring. Kofi launches himself off the ropes, but the champ sidesteps him. Kofi crashes and burns on the announce table. Byran hangs Kofi on the ropes and drives a knee into his back. Bryan drops Kofi in the corner and delivers the running knee. He follows with a Boston Crab after catching Kingston in mid-air. Kofi is able to get the ropes to break the hold. Kofi is set atop the turnbuckle, but he fends Bryan off. The champ hits the mat and Kofi splashes onto his back. Bryan kicks out. Kofi with a cross body and the two trade pinfall attempts. Kofi kicks his way out of the LeBell Lock. Kofi with an SOS, but Bryan counters into the LeBell Lock. Kofi gets a toe on the rope to break the hold. Kofi fires back with kicks of his own. Kofi catches Bryan with a modified suplex and nearly gets a pin. Bryan goes to floor and Kofi follows, but is thwarted by Rowan. Xavier and Big E take him out with the Midnight Hour. Kofi catches Bryan on a suicide dive. He misses the Trouble in Paradise. Bryan hits the running knee and makes the pin. Kofi kicks out. Bryan applies the LeBell Lock once more. Bryan clubs Kofi across the face. Kofi fights his way out of the hold. Kofi connects with Trouble in Paradise. He covers and gets the pin.
Winner via pinfall … and new WWE Champion: Kofi Kingston
Match rating: 9.5/10
Immediately after the bell, Xavier tosses the hemp belt and reveals the real WWE title belt, with Kofi’s name plates. Woods then unveils the new New Day title shirts.
A video replay shows us the misadventures of Michael Che and Colin Jost from earlier in the night. In the back, as the two comedians blame each other for the beating they took, Bliss assures them they are in good hands. Or maybe not: Their “doctors” are really Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, who suggest they start with a prostate exam.
Match #7 – Samoa Joe (champion) vs. Rey Mysterio (challenger) – United States Championship Match
Joe comes out at the bell with a big boot. Rey counters a slam and sends Joe into the ropes. Rey hits the 619. Joe catches him coming off the top rope and locks in the Coquina Clutch. Rey passes out and the ref calls for the bell.
Winner via submission… and still United States Champion: Samoa Joe
Match rating: N/A (too short)
Considering Rey is hurt, that was about what you should have expected. But still …
Match #8 – Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
Hey, the heel has the cooler entrance, that’s not supposed to happen. Reigns might be miffed about that too, as he launches into right hands and a big boot to the face before getting planted by a spinebuster and needing to kick out at two. McIntyre slows the pace and grounds Reigns as the announcers discuss whether Roman is 100 percent back in ring shape. A Reigns clothesline bounces McIntyre off the apron and to the floor, but he misses the drive-by kick and slams his own back off the apron. A suplex to the floor isn’t going to make that back feel any better. McIntyre executes an Alabama slam and nearly gets a three count. Reigns fights back with the drive-by kick and a Samoan drop on the outside. That softens McIntyre up enough for the spear, and somewhat surprisingly, that’s a wrap.
Winner via pinfall: Roman Reigns
Match rating: 6.5/10
You didn’t forget about Elias, did you? He’s ready for his big performance, and he’s accompanied by two extra versions of himself on drums and piano. While you know he’s getting interrupted, you’ll never guess how: A video of Babe Ruth’s called shot brings back the Doctor of Thuganomics version of John Cena. After some punchlines at Elias’ expense, Cena hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle and stomps back to the stage. And the fans actually like that iteration of Cena.
Match #9 – Batista vs. Triple H – No Holds Barred Match
Shawn Michaels joins Michael Cole and Corey Graves to call this one. The ring entrances should be good. Batista rolls in courtesy of a two-car convoy with a private security detail, though he seems to forget how to climb between the ropes. He then leaves and goes to the announce table to stare down HBK. The Game makes his way in riding on the back of a Mad Max-inspired custom hot rod. Once the bell rings, it doesn’t take long for the action to spill to the outside and nearly into Michaels’ lap. Triple H uses a tool box and a chain he finds inside it to punish Batista’s back before wrapping it around his face. That actually looks pretty painful. So does HHH using a pair of long-handled pliers on the fingers of his bitter foe. He cracks a smile as he finds a chair and some needle-nose pliers to go after Batista’s nose ring. And he gets it. Big Dave finally gets in some offense by dropping The Game on top of both the English and Spanish announce tables. Neither break, which is surprising. Trips is thrown into the barricade before Batista starts wearing him out with a steel chair. The Animal covers for a near-fall, then buries shoulders in HHH’s midsection. Another two count follows, then a third after a back drop. Batista uses the steps as a weapon, then places them on the Spanish announce table with something diabolical in mind. He calls for the Batista Bomb, but Hunter reverses it into a back drop onto what has to be the most durable announce table ever, as it holds firm. The German table finally gives way after HHH spears Batista through it, and both men are slow to rise. Sitting beside the apron, Triple H reaches beneath the ring and finds a sledgehammer, but it’s The Animal who gets the next near fall. A boot to the face fends off a sledgehammer shot, and Batista follows with a spinebuster. A Batista Bomb finds the mark, but that’s still not enough to finish this grudge match. That drives Batista to bring the steps into the ring as the two men trade hands on the turnbuckles. After powerbombing Batista on the steps, Triple H hits the Pedigree and covers only to turn incredulous when it isn’t sufficient to end the match. Batista evades an incoming sledgehammer shot and DDTs The Game on the steps. But a wild card arrives in the form of Ric Flair, who slides HHH another sledgehammer. A leaping hammer shot dazes Batista, and a second Pedigree finally finishes him off. Props to those two guys, who aren’t exactly young at this point, for going all out one last time.
Winner via pinfall: Triple H
Match rating: 6.5/10
Bliss brings out the B-Team to show off Daniel Bryan championship t-shirts. “Damn,” says Ron Simmons. JBL comes out to join Cole and Graves for the next bout.
Match #10 – Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin
Corbin starts out strong, battering Angle back into a corner and telling the crowd to hush, not that they are too loud right now. A German suplex is a good response, as is Corbin’s counter response: a Deep Six for two. Angle also gets a near fall with the Angle Slam before removing his singlet straps. There’s the Ankle Lock in the middle of the ring, but after Corbin escapes, he mocks Cena’s “you can’t see me” gesture. That has Angle launch into multiple suplexes and attempt a moonsault. Corbin rolls away and hits the End of Days to send Angle into retirement with an ‘L.’ Angle gets on the mic to thank the fans and ask them to serenade him with the “you suck” chant as his music plays.
Winner via pinfall: Baron Corbin
Match rating: 5/10
Match #11 – Bobby Lashley w/Lio Rush (champion) vs. “The Demon” Finn Balor (challenger) – Intercontinental Championship Match
It’s The Demon vs. Lashley’s apparent laser eyes. A series of kicks knocks Lashley for a loop, leaving him a sitting duck for a somersault plancha. Lio Rush runs away from Balor, but Lashley finds his footing and suplexes Balor into the ring twice from the apron. A big running clothesline sends Balor tumbling to the floor, where he’s driven into the barricade. The Demon fires back with a Sling Blade and dropkicks the champ into the barricade. Rush does his job, distracting Balor enough so that Lashley can spear him off the apron. Another spear follows in the ring, but Balor kicks out at two. In an impressive spot, Balor powerbombs Lashley, setting up the Coup de Grace, and we have a new Intercontinental Champion.
Winner via pinfall…and new Intercontinental Champion: Finn Balor
Match rating: 6.5/10
Bliss comes out to announce an attendance of 82,265. Impressive, and perhaps not as much of an exaggeration as some numbers from the past. Though all those fans don’t seem to want it, Alexa says it’s time for a break. R-Truth and Carmella encourage them to join in the world’s largest seven-second dance break. Related: It’s 11:45 p.m.
Match #12 – Ronda Rousey (RAW Champion) vs. Charlotte (Smackdown Champion) vs. Becky Lynch (challenger) – Winner Take All Women’s Championship Match
Winner via pinfall … and new RAW and Smackdown Women’s Champion: Becky Lynch
Match rating: 8/10
Total Event time: A record-breaking 5 hours and 25 minutes
Event Rating: 8.5/10
Nick Tylwalk and Dale Plummer are getting older as the WrestleMania nights get longer, which seems a bit unfair. They’re hoping to be at WrestleMania Buccaneer in 2020 in person but also hoping it ends up shorter than WrestleMania Snickers was this year.