A Beginner’s Guide to All Elite Wrestling

So yes I am indeed as they say ‘joining the indies’ rather than be exclusive to one promotion… for now… but I honestly could not think of a better place to start with than a wrestling company who are soon to be putting on the first PPV under the banner of the most realistic alternative wrestling promotion on a worldwide level since World Championship Wrestling (WCW),  which has been folded for over 18 years now. On May 25th All Elite Wrestling will hold their very first PPV. It will be emanating from one of the most famous arenas in combat sports history in the MGM Grand Garden Arena in a suburb of Las Vegas, Nevada. The show is going to be called Double or Nothing.

One thing that I should make clear right away is the difference between this show and ALL IN. ALL IN was the show that took place last year put on via a combination of Cody, Matt Jackson & Nick Jackson and a whole host of various staff from all over the industry. But ALL IN was very much an independent wrestling show. A super-indie show sure with a collection of THE very biggest names in the business (Okada, Omega, Jericho, Rey Mysterio amongst others) but one without the name of a huge company attached. Double or Nothing will have every bit of the heart, passion and excitement ALL IN had but with way much more… well OK I’ll be honest Double or Nothing is an AEW show and AEW is funded by Tony Khan. The Khan family have billions of dollars in the bank. So you draw your own conclusions. Imagine ALL IN but even bigger and better.

Another thing you’ll have heard all about is Starrcast 2. This is a convention like event taking place in the 4 days over the same weekend as Double or Nothing. The first of these events took place in conjunction with the ALL IN show and is essentially an incredible gathering of a collection of some of the biggest names in the industry. So many different types of events all happening in one place, and you’ll be able to watch it too. Check out the FITE app for more details. This blog would be twice as long if I explained all about this but I thought it worthy of a mention.

All Elite Wrestling honestly seems like a dream for me. I really got into wrestling outside of the normal setting in 2016 when me and my friend Stefan attended a Ring of Honor house show in Leicester, I was spell-bounded by what I saw. I saw the BROKEN universe change the game once again over in Impact wrestling not long after, I watched Kenny Omega and Kazuchika Okada put on a series of matches that absolutely changed my entire outlook on wrestling and took in-ring competition to new heights over in New Japan Pro Wrestling. I saw Cody leave the nest and go out on his own, and just keep getting better and better and better. I had the pleasure of meeting Cody and his wife Brandi Rhodes and despite me literally shaking with nerves they both could not have been nicer. I watched these two brothers Matt and Nick Jackson do stuff as a tag team I hadn’t seen since the peak of Matt and Jeff or Edge and Christian or maybe even top that at times. The Young Bucks have a mantra to change the world, and for me they have done just that, and haven’t stopped yet. On the 18th August last year on the day of my 23rd birthday me and Stefan went to our 5th wrestling show together and beforehand we met The Young Bucks in person. Honestly I’m not exaggerating when I say they were so great and just like normal guys, aside from the size of their biceps. Both seemed genuinely grateful that I had spent a part of my birthday meeting them. I know they get paid for this stuff but they are paid the same regardless of how nice and personable they are. All this has taught me that whatever you want to get out of professional wrestling as a fan it IS out there, you just have to look hard enough for it. Don’t be afraid to leave the nest and what you know professional wrestling to be if it just isn’t doing it for you at the moment. I believe AEW’s Double or Nothing show will bring together a variety of all that’s great about professional wrestling today.

OK so you’ve heard the buzz about AEW and the promotion of their Double or Nothing show. But what and more importantly WHO will you be watching on the show. I don’t expect you’ll have heard of everyone on the AEW roster, neither have I to be honest. I would STRONGLY recommend checking out the Nightmare Family YouTube channel and watching their series of videos entitled AEW – The Road to Double or Nothing. The weekly videos so far have done a superb job of promoting the show and giving you an insight to those involved. I’d say they’re essential viewing before you watch Double or Nothing. You also must check out the Being The Elite YouTube series. This is a mostly satirical episodic series starring the performers of AEW and others. It began as a form of video diary following The Young Bucks on their travels around the world as professional wrestlers, and gradually over time more and more people have come and gone and it’s really evolved into a show with storylines of its own. If you saw ALL IN basically all of the build and storylines going into that show all took place on Being The Elite, some of them were told over the course of many many months all culminating at ALL IN. But it also at times over the years led into storylines that played out in promotions that the stars of the show where a part of; The Bullet Club turn on Adam Cole for example was all built up to on BTE as well as what happened on ROH or NJPW Television.

So All Elite Wrestling then. WHAT titles will be in the company is currently not known for sure but I’d say a safe bet would be a world championship, a women’s belt, tag titles and maybe some others. In terms of WHEN they have just announced officially their upcoming TV schedule looks to be kicking off on a weekly basis sometime in the Autumn, on the TNT network in America (the former home of WCW). You can watch Double or Nothing in the UK via ITV Box Office and the BUY IN (pre show) is available on ITV4. Other shows they have announced are Fyter Fest on June 29th and Fight for the Fallen on July 13th. An announcement on AEW’s weekly TV schedule is expected BEFORE Double or Nothing so keep your eyes and ears peeled.

In terms of WHO it seems they are signing people on a daily basis but so far they’ve built up an incredible roster of talent. Here’s who is on board so far and what they’re doing, and the most exciting thing about the company is their seemed-willingness to partner up or allow their stars to compete elsewhere and ply their trade… unlike some… so why this is a list of names we know are signed, but it doesn’t mean others may not pop up here and there to wrestle under the AEW banner. So don’t be surprised if you see a few names at Double or Nothing that aren’t listed below. I’m sure though that some of the names will be familiar to you already…

MAIN STAFF:

Owner: Shahid Khan (Billionaire owner also of Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team and Fulham Football Club)

President/CEO: Tony Khan (son of Billionaire, works also for family owned Jacksonville Jaguars NFL team and Fulham Football Club, BIG wrestling fan)

Executive Vice Presidents: Cody Rhodes, Matt Jackson, Nick Jackson, Kenny Omega

Chief Brand(i) Officer: Brandi Rhodes

Head of Talent Relations: Christopher Daniels

ROSTER:

Main Eventers: Kenny Omega, Chris Jericho, PAC (fka Neville), “Hangman” Adam Page (legitimately one of the most promising all-rounders in the business right now, currently embarking on his ‘full gear challenge’… check BTE out for the backstory, for me he is a definite future AEW World Champion. For context Page is 27, Omega is 35, Jericho is 48), Cody, Dustin Rhodes (fka Goldust).

Other Male Singles: MJF (going to be a BIG star, plays cocky, self-confident heel), Jimmy Havoc (English, death match specialist, psychopath), Joey Janela (lunatic… unique, laid back guy… I don’t know what more to add), Darby Allin (dark and mysterious character, talented MOFO), Jungle Boy (future star), Jack Evans (great talent), Kip Sabian (good reputation, fun to watch and he’s a Brit), Sonny Kiss (embodies AEW’s mantra of its openness and welcoming of all, but above that a talented individual that oozes charisma and star-power), Sammy Guevara (a VERY talented wrestler, has competed in the AAA promotion in Mexico to let you know the type of performer he is), Michael Nakazawa (largely a comedy guy, but over the YouTube series of BTE seems to have an enemy in Matt Jackson so keep an eye out for that), Peter Avalon (going to be one of ‘The Librarian’ characters… trust me it’ll make sense… it’s a long story…), Cima (experienced Japanese wrestler, actually was key in booking The Young Bucks in Japan back in the day so kind of a full circle story for them all now), Ang√©lico (formerly of Lucha Underground, was much sought after but chose AEW as his home), Brandon Cutler (friend of the Bucks, has a story that really is fascinating and is featured in one of the YouTube episodes that I recommend seeing), Dustin Thomas (has no legs… I’m not kidding you… just an unbelievable human being), Ace Romero (pretty much impossible to miss), Brian Pillman Jr (more than just someone’s son trust me… he has IT), Sunny Daze (has a really emotional backstory, one to look out for).

Tag Teams: The Young Bucks (Matt and Nick Jackson), The Lucha Bros (Pentagon and Fenix) – maybe the best tag team in the world, SoCal Uncensored (aka SCU) (Christopher Daniels, Frankie Kazarian and Scorpio Sky) – you’ll love these guys trust me. Experienced but entertaining as hell, Best Friends (Trent Berretta and Chuck Taylor) – you wont be bored watching these guys. absolutely hilarious, Private Party (Isiah Kassidy & Marq Quen) – I don’t know too much about these guys but I hear that they’re unbelievable in the ring with the stunts they do and their gimmick is basically party-goers and fun-seekers, I imagine them being super popular babyfaces as AEW progresses.

Females: Brandi Rhodes, Allie (formerly of Impact, ultra babyface), Dr Britt Baker (Great in-ring performer and also a dentist – no really she is…, has a famous boyfriend… BAYBAY…), Bea Priestley (Girlfriend of Will Ospreay, via her work in Japan and on the indies has come on leaps and bounds in the ring over the last few years and is the current World of Stardom Champion following in the footsteps of previous champions Io Shirai, Toni Storm and a woman called Kairi… something…), Aja Kong (Japanese veteran), Leva Bates (another potential player of ‘The Librarian’ character… it’s a long story…), Penelope Ford (Joey Janela’s manager, had a tryout in Orlando fairly recently, a breakout star of ALL IN), Hikaru Shida (Japanese star, a Kenny Omega signing), Yuka Sakazaki (another Japanese star), Sadie Gibbs (British, Will Ospreay told her she wasn’t ready to work in Japan, Matt Jackson disagreed, one to keep an eye on), Nyla Rose (the first transgender woman to be signed to a professional wrestling company in the US, a powerhouse), Kylie Rae (nicknamed ‘smiley Kylie’ she is about as ultra and babyface as you could get, but great in the ring, a possible first AEW Women’s Champion).

Commentators: Alex Marvez (sports broadcaster), Excalibur (masked guy and commentator for the PWG promotion), Jim Ross (the GOAT), Hugo Savinovich (Spanish-language commentator, and yes it’s the guy from the attitude era that used to go flying when the Spanish Announce Table was smashed).

Ring Announcer: Justin Roberts (showed at ALL IN he really hasn’t lost a step).

Backstage interviewer: Alicia Atout (has her own YouTube channel where she interviews wrestlers, the channel is called AMBY).

AEW also has a partnership with the OWE wrestling organisation in China that will see some of the most amazing Kung Fu/high-flying wrestling hybrid style stars compete for All Elite Wrestling. They are like nothing you have ever seen before trust me. AEW wrestler Cima is the company’s president.

Among a host of familiar names working for the company backstage will be Billy Gunn (producer), Glacier & Jerry Lynn. A host of referees have also been signed including popular indie refs Rick Knox, Paul Turner (formerly of ROH), Aubrey Edwards and finally Earl Hebner (who has refereed in professional wrestling a couple of times before) have also been signed.

So that’s pretty much all you need to know about AEW… I think… so now you know all about the company itself lets now look ahead to their first show. So look out for a future blog that will be out just before the show where I will do a full preview of the very first AEW PPV, Double or Nothing! And as always if anyone has any questions they want to know about AEW, Double or Nothing or anything else to do with the whole thing then please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m always happy to help. ūüôā

Josh.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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BLOG 100: Dear WWE, I quit.

Before rumours begin to spread, let me set things straight ahead of time: 

As of this evening, I have requested a release from WWE. The past 15 months have been simply amazing and I have written about some wonderful things. Things I am very proud of and will never forget. I am proud of it all. I feel at this time the decision, as difficult as it was, feels right for myself and WWE. My goal in the future is to continue to grow, to continue to make my family [aka anyone that cares enough to read my blog] proud and offer those [not paying hard earned money] reading a blog I write, a little more of myself. Thank you. From the top to the bottom of WWE. I have written about unquestionably, some of the greatest [and some not so great] talent on this earth and the pleasure has been [mostly] all mine. Thank you to the fans for your undying support. I wish you all the very best and thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything. Thank you everyone. 

I would finally like to thank Luke Harper and Tye Dillinger whose own statements announcing they had requested their release from WWE I have 100% combined and ripped off in a (hopefully) comedic way to basically let everyone know I will no longer be blogging about WWE. I have a full time job, I’ve just joined my local Gym, and above all else I just don’t feel passionate enough to blog about WWE in it’s current state. Hopefully those that read my blogs will continue to enjoy whatever I put out in the future. This IS NOT the end of the blog but more me making the choice to write about the wrestling I enjoy, and right now that’s not on the whole WWE. It will also allow me to watch WWE PPVs and more importantly from a personal viewpoint NXT Takeovers stress free and without the knowledge that I’ve got to write a full review on the show immediately afterwards. NXT is the one part of WWE that is always excellent yet even they have recently been raided by the main roster and some of their top stars whisked away to… mid-card mediocrity… I’ll still follow WWE of course… for now… but as far as committing to previewing and reviewing their PPVs and doing other blogs here and there about modern or past WWE related topics then… well… I guess there’s only one way to put it…

NobodyisReady.com have come to terms on the release of WWE. 

NobodyisReady.com wishes them the best in all of their future endeavors. 

Josh.

 

WRESTLEMANIA 35 Preview and Predictions

I can already tell WrestleMania 35 is going to be one of the most memorable events in all of wrestling history. There is so much that COULD happen that has huge historical significance; from the women in the main event, to Kofi Kingston being in the biggest match of his career,¬† and the 10000th possible last WWE match for Brock Lesnar. I’ll be in a sports bar with friends and lots of wrestling fans with drinks and food a-plenty so I’ll have a great time regardless. But looking at it now, stone-cold sober, objectively I see this card at it tells me two things; this show is going to be LONG but it’s going to be BIG! Some years WrestleMania has some matches that you don’t really feel are worthy of the biggest if stages, but there’s not too many if any this year. So without further or due here is my predictions for WrestleMania 35!!!

John Cena 

YOU CAN’T SEE HIM on the ‘official’ line up for WrestleMania, but be it some form of involvement in the Angle match, interrupting Elias or something else I think he will appear. Be it in a segment or a match he WILL be at WrestleMania… I think…

Prediction: you CAN see him 

WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal¬†

AKA ‘the we don’t know what to do with you lot so here’s your Mania spot’ match. You really can’t get everyone on the card, but is it not a really sad side of our main event that the result of ‘Winner Takes All’ is ASUKA is in the throwaway Battle Royal… but is what it is I guess… As previous years have shown this match could really be won by ANYONE! I could say one of any of the names really; Alexa Bliss, Lacey Evans, Mandy Rose, Nikki Cross, Naomi again, someone from NXT… but given the recent fan uproar at her sheer inclusion in this match I’m unsure if anything but a win here for her will satisfy the crowd… or most watching I feel.

Prediction: Asuka to win 

Cruserweight Championship: Tony Nese V Buddy Murphy (C) 

This match will be good, and as good as time they give it. I’ve not much more to say about this than I have any of the previous good Murphy PPV showcases for 205 Live. I’m surprised Nese is in the spot for Mania, not saying he isn’t really good in-ring but I’d have thought they’d have gone for someone new. I’m taking ti as a given Murphy wins here, it isn’t because it’s WrestleMania and if you were going to end such a great title run then here is the place to do it. I’m just unsure if Nese is the right guy to do that. I see it as Murphy wins here in a really fun and good match, and then a new challenger emerges after WrestleMania. Be that someone from NXT (ISTG if that’s a certain Mr Wrestling I give up on WWE), possibly incoming signing KUSHIDA from New Japan Pro Wrestling. But who knows? If you like good wrestling then this is the match for you.

Prediction: Buddy Murphy to retain 

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos (Jimmy Uso & Jey Uso) (C) V The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) V Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev with Lana V Ricochet & Aleister Black in a Fatal 4 Way Tag Team Match

I see no reason given who is involved as to why this match shouldn’t be great. I certainly think it’ll be the best 4 way tag match on this show… Admittedly it has been a bit thrown together and with no real storyline, but it has got Ricochet and Black on the Mania card, so that’s certainly a great great thing. They haven’t pinned Black or Ricochet since they came up to the main roster and I don’t think they will here. BUT the 4 way nature means they don’t have to pin them if they don’t want to have the titles on them. So by process of elimination I don’t see The Bar winning the titles again, nor do I see enough momentum behind Nakamura & Rusev, so it has to be The Usos retaining or the two NXT alumni taking the belts home. I’ve done this a lot for this show but I’m going for the big babyface pop and so for the new champions to be Black and Ricochet.

Prediction: Ricochet & Aleister Black to win and become the NEW Smackdown Tag Team Champions

Raw Tag Team Championship: Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder V The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) (C) 

It seemed we were set for this a fair few weeks back now, and then it disappeared to allow for Gable and Roode and then Ricochet and Aleister Black to play challenger to The Revival. But then just before Mania on a WWE.COM VIDEO of all things it appears we’re on course for this match and THREE NIGHTS (UK time) it was announced with absolutely zero TV build for pretty much months. But I called it a while ago and I think given Ryder and Hawkins are Jersey natives, and of course with the losing streak still (just about) a storyline I think it’d be an easy babyface pop to have Hawkins end his losing streak here and for him and Ryder to have a Mania moment

Prediction: Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins to win and become the NEW Raw Tag Team champions

United States Championship: Rey Mysterio V Samoa Joe (C) 

I think this match will be great in-ring wise, and Joe is one of the best characters in the company when in full flow, but I just don’;t see this as a match… it makes me think something odd is going to happen in it. Be it Dominic, Rey’s son who has appeared on Smackdown recently, getting involved somehow, or maybe a quick win for Rey to win a title he has yet to win and to become the latest grand slam champion? MAYBE Joe beats up Rey and then calls out someone and out comes Cena? Maybe Rey doesn’t even make the match given his recent ‘injury’ and we go straight to Joe Vs Cena or someone else? Maybe they’ll just have a match and it’ll be good. I’m going to predict Joe to win simply as I have a fair few babyface wins elsewhere on the show and I don’t think WWE will give us too much of a good thing.

Prediction: Samoa Joe to retain 

Intercontinental Championship: “The All Mighty” Bobby Lashley (C) with Lio Rush V ‘Demon’ Finn Balor

“The All Mighty”… behave yourself. DEMON BALOR? Yeah… you know the score here… surely??? …

Prediction: ‘Demon’ Finn Balor to win and become the NEW Intercontinental Champion¬†

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship: Nia Jax & Tamina V Natalya & Beth Phoenix V The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) V The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection (Sasha Banks & Bayley) (C) in a Fatal 4 Way Tag Team Match¬†

I do feel it a tad harsh on these women for WWE to put another 4 way tag match on the same show that I personally think will be better. But for historical purposes I think this will be the more memorable of the two. Looking at each of the four teams we have Nia and Tamina who are… there… , The IICONICS who I personally really like but know many do not… they may not be the best in the ring but they are one of the original female tag teams before female tag teams was the in-thing so for that they deserve this spot, the ‘Divas of Doom’ Natalya and the recently returned Beth Phoenix I feel will be the glue that holds this match together, and finally our champions and presumable big favorites Sasha and Bayley. Banks and Bayley are a great team to carry the titles and establish them as a big deal, but if you want to do a big title change then is there any better place than Mania? I certainly wouldn’t be astonished if they did do a switch here, but as far as a prediction goes I’ll go with the titles staying exactly where they are here.

Prediction: Sasha Banks & Bayley to retain 

Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal 

Is there any point saying much about this one? Of course the only real story is with Braun and the two SNL guys in this match, but that almost makes me wonder if that’ll be the sideshow and the winner will take advantage of it? I’ll go Braun, but I kind of hope he doesn’t and they give someone like an Ali or Andrade a big-ish Mania moment that can be a springboard to post-Mania stardom…

Prediction: Braun Strowman to win 

AJ Styles V Randy Orton 

Considering there’s nothing officially on the line here they’ve done a really good job of making this in to a very personal affair. The promos back-and-forth the two have cut on one another, particularly when they’ve highlighted each of their very different career paths, has been really great to watch. And anytime they’ve had any physical altercations their styles (no pun intended) have mixed really really well. This will be really good I think and could go either way result wise. But for no real logical reason aide from it being the WWE and it being Randy Orton and it being WrestleMania I’ll go for The viper to win, and it to involve some form of wild counter in to an RKO.

Prediction: Randy Orton to win 

Roman Reigns V Drew McIntyre 

Not even the WWE would beat a guy that had Cancer in his first singles match back would they? … Would they? No to be honest if they were going to give such a spot to anyone I’m so happy they’ve gone with Drew. And even if McIntyre does take the L here it’s still a massive match for him to even be involved in given who and where. Reigns has been beaten down at every stage in the build up, I presume to set us and the crowd to give him a huge ovation when he gets his won back on Drew in the match. I’d say this wouldn’t be a bad way to open the main show with Roman getting a heroes ovation, which given his recent WrestleMania receptions would be ironic. Roman has to win. You could even have Drew get it back later, but it’s his first match back for God sake…

Prediction: Roman Reigns to win 

Shane McMahon V The Miz in a Falls Count Anywhere Match 

Oh boy… lets leave talking about the match for a second and let me admit that the build has been fun. Shane has made himself hated and that’s good, and as much as Miz has been somewhat booked WAY to strong fending off multiple heels at the same time in recent weeks, his promos on his family and his road to get to where he is have been very believable and really makes you want to cheer him. So credit to them both for that. The stipulation here could make it all OK, as I think now they have free reign to do what they want. I know it’s going to happen but for god sake I hope neither of these two do anything crazy, or do I secretly want them to do a mad stunt? You decide that for yourself…¬† The right result is Miz winning because he could benefit so much from it, but if WWE see it like that is an entirely different thing.

Prediction: The Miz to win 

Kurt Angle V Baron Corbin in Kurt Angle’s Farewell Match¬†

GOD I hope this is short. Kurt really does look physically DONE as a wrestler. Yeah sure Corbin could do great saying he retired Angle, and I guess everyone loses their last match right? If this really is going to be simply a straight up singles match with no interruptions or anything else then keep this SHORT. I really would like Angle to win, I don’t know if he will. I’ll go heart again here. I hate Corbin as a character, but does that mean he’s good at his job as a heel???

Prediction: Kurt Angle to win

Triple H V Batista in a No Holds Barred Match (if Triple H loses he must retire from in-ring competition) 

Triple H isn’t retiring is he? I know he’s going in to the Hall Of Fame this weekend and it is against his Batista… but he has more miles in him I feel… Finn Balor V Triple H… Triple H at an NXT Takeover… and lets be honest there’s many more Saudi shows to come… there’s much more Triple H can do in the ring so I just can’t see him losing here… The build up has honestly been really good. Beginning of course at Smackdown 1000, and even with the match seemingly in doubt when Triple H got hurt it was kicked back into life in a HUGE way when Batista attacked Ric Flair during what was supposed to be his 70th Birthday celebratory night. Triple H has been his awesome self in promos leading up, and Batista on the go-home Raw cut maybe the promo of his life simply by cutting to a video package of him beating up The Game down the years before simply saying “Hunter… Kiss My ASS”! His very specific and methodical actions as well just made him seem the coolest and baddest guy around, and given it was in Batista’s hometown it was perhaps wise not to have Triple H appear given he’s supposed to be the babyface. One interesting thing will be seeing how the crowd take to each superstar here. I hope it’s action packed, not too long that it gets boring (which is a fear for sure). Batista has always stated he wanted to end his career at a WrestleMania against Triple H and hopefully he doesn’t have too much ring rust in doing so. Fingers crossed.

Prediction: Triple H to win 

WWE Championship: Kofi Kingston with Big E & Xavier Woods V ‘The New’ Daniel Bryan (C) with Rowan¬†

I think we are all going to be on the edge of our seats for this one. It really could, given the level of crowd noise and interest in it, be an all-time classic. The naturally evolving story that has lead us to KOFImania has been incredible to see unfold. I was in no doubt Bryan would win a month or so ago, but the momentum behind Kingston is so much now SURELY he has to do it? i’d advise WWE to be very careful where they put this on the card because if Kofi loses it could kill the crowd for a long time after and possibly for the rest of the show. If anyone aside from Becky is more over with the crowd all show than Kofi I’ll be shocked. And the amount of love he has received from the fans in recent weeks in the build is the main reason I see him winning this. Sure I don’t think he will be champion long after, but for that MOMENT would it not be spectacular? Bryan has been doing the best work of his whole career since he turned heel and won the title, and this could be his masterpiece such is his absolutely sensational heel character work. PLEASE WWE have Kofi win… PLEASE?!

Prediction: Kofi Kingston to win and become the NEW WWE Champion 

Universal Championship: Seth Rollins V Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman

Don’t get me wrong, I REALLY REALLY REALLY want Seth to win… but I’ve got the most terrible feeling he wont. I’ve long been of the thought process that only two of the big three babyfaces challenging for title at Mania (Seth, Kofi and Becky) will win. Because WWE don’t often let us have too much of a nice thing? Maybe it would be overkill, but if I offered you all 3 winning for definite NOW you’d take it right? I know I’d snap your hand off and not even think about it. The segment on Raw this past week was fascinating; according to reports it was changed… what we all saw was Rollins lay out Lesnar and end it holding the belt up high… but what was planned was Brock to destroy Seth again UNTIL Vince changed his mind last minute and made the switch. Which yes it was cool BUT… why did he change it? Was it to give Seth SOMETHING going in only for him to lose anyway? Who knows how Vince thinks… But with MASSIVE sadness I predict the reign of terror of The Beast will continue. And I really hope I’m wrong.

Prediction: Brock Lesnar to retain 

WWE Raw Women’s Championship AND WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship, WINNER TAKES ALL: Charlotte Flair (C) V Becky Lynch V Ronda Rousey (C)¬†

I almost can’t believe we are finally nearly here. Women in the main event of WrestleMania, and it’s for BOTH Women’s championships! I don’t think much more needs to be said about this that hasn’t already. But it’s Becky Mania surely??? This is going to be one of the most memorable WrestleMania main events of all-time. I hope and do actually believe these three women will put on a great match. But anything but a Lynch win I do fear will see us end what should be an amazing occasion with a chorus of boos once again. We finally have a chance after years of Mania ending on a sour note to have a big, happy moment here. Lets hope we get it…

Prediction: Becky Lynch wins to become the NEW Raw Women’s Champion AND Smackdown Women’s Champion¬†

Josh. 

 

NXT Takeover: New York – Preview and Predictions

NXT Takeovers usually have a good line up, but this card is INCREDIBLE! It could well be their best ever. The Takeover that opened WrestleMania weekend last year was one of the best shows in WWE or NXT history so this year’s has a lot to live up to. We return to the spiritual home of NXT Takeover in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn New York, so the atmosphere should be excellent. It’s amazing that even with the recent injury to Tomasso Ciampa that forced him to vacate the NXT Championship and deny us the big blow-off match between him and long term tag partner turned bitter rival turned tag partner again turned rival again Johnny Gargano we STILL have one hell of a show coming up on Friday night. So without further or due, here is my preview and predictions for NXT Takeover: New York!

NXT Tag Team Championship: Ricochet & Aleister Black V War Raiders (Hanson & Rowe) (C) 

With Black and Ricochet recently stating after their Dusty Rhodes Classic win was taped that it was their final night competing at Full Sail, and with their recent call-up to the main roster and their impending main roster tag title shot at WrestleMania, it seems the result here is very obvious. BUT… these are 4 excellent in-ring performers who never disappoint on the Takeover stage, so we should get a great match here. Aleister Black has to go down (presuming this is his last NXT appearance) as one of the all-time great NXT stars, and in a year since his NXT debut Ricochet has been everything we all hoped he would be in WWE so will be sure to put on another spellbinding showcase here. As for the War Raiders appearances can very much be deceiving for these two Vikings, as their amazing athleticism considering their size makes them an incredible tag team to see perform. The tag team title matches on Takeover shows have consistently been good-great in the last two years or so and I expect nothing different here.

Prediction: War Raiders retain 

NXT North American Championship: Matt Riddle V Velveteen Dream (C) 

If you like showmanship, extravagance, taunts, crowd interaction, big and wacky entrances then THIS is the match for you. Two of the potential future stars of the entire WWE taking on one another on the big stage, this is going to be super fun. Matt Riddle just oozes star power and is about as likeable a character as you could get. On the other side our current NXT North American Champion in the past year has had a consistent great run of Takeover showings and his potential continues to rise and rise. When I first heard about this match I was excited of course, but unsure and a tad nervous about how they would mesh in a match together. BUT by all accounts their matches on NXT Live shows against one another have been really great, so hopefully they have a great match on the Takeover stage. Result wise I’m really unsure, it seems everytime we get a big Takeover we here that Dream is getting a call up, then he doesn’t… so it’s clear they think highly of him that I could see Dream winning in a screwy way to look after Riddle. But they haven’t pinned Riddle yet, and although I wouldn’t know how they would eventually get there I see him as a future challenger to the NXT Championship either at the June or August Takeover shows. So I will say Riddle to win, with low levels of confidence.

Prediction: Matt Riddle to win and become the NEW NXT North American Champion 

WWE United Kingdom Championship: WALTER V Pete Dunne (C) 

I predict this will be the best match all weekend. I was privileged enough to sit front row at the recent NXT UK Tapings in Coventry and witnessed this match being made official, a call I correctly predicted when I was on the way to the show…

I also got to see the official contract signing between the two and the crowd were absolutely electric in anticipation for it. These two haven’t touched physically at all in the build up so they’ve been really leaving it all until the match, which excites me greatly. WALTER has been top of the ‘WANTED’ list for WWE/NXT fans like myself for a long time, and when he made his debut to confront Dunne at the end of the NXT UK Takeover in Blackpool in January the crowd went wild, and it laid the ground work for where we are today with an NXT UK match getting the big Takeover stage, and in New York, in the Barclays Center, two nights before WrestleMania. I can’t really quantify in words how great I think and hope this match is. Even though we are in the midst of Pete Dunne’s record breaking title reign of over 680 days, I think now is the time to end it. And less now I just think if anyone is and has ever been the perfect opponent to finally conquer The Bruserweight, it HAS to be WALTER. I’d even say there’s an outside chance Pete Dunne goes to the main roster as part of the ‘INTERNATIONAL superstar shakeup’ in a couple of weeks. Expect stiff strikes, grimacing submission holds, and just all-round tremendous professional wrestling. And quite possibly the end of the longest title reign in modern WWE history.

Prediction: WALTER to win and become the NEW WWE United Kingdom Champion

NXT Women’s Championship: Kairi Sane V Bianca Belair V Io Shirai V Shayna Baszler (C) with Jessamyn Duke & Marina Shafir 

I see few reasons why this wont be great as well, other than if they give it little time (which they don’t tend to on Takeover shows) or maybe it’ll be hurt by being sandwiched by two classics… which I have it as on my card but I trust the crowd to be hot all night so they should be fine. This match has 4 of the best female in-ring workers in the WWE and I think their alternative styles will mix really well. And the fact we might get some offence between The Sky Pirates Sane and Shirai excites me greatly. I think the thing here will be if you think Shayna is going to the main roster and that’ll decide the result. And I personally DO! Kairi has had her run and is SOOOOO good I don’t think she needs the championship and could be one of the very best on either Raw or Smackdown tomorrow if needs be, Bianca is the future and lost her singles shot at the title before, so to me it seems clear that it’s Io’s time. She’s exceptional she really is and would be a brilliant person to be champion. This will be fun. Hopefully Jessamyn and Marina don’t get too involved that it takes away from the match but I could definitely see some form of mini 6 woman’s tag, even if Bianca has showed more heel tendencies recently. So yes a really fun match ahead, and Shirai to win.

Prediction: Io Shirai to win and become the NEW NXT Women’s Champion 

NXT Championship: Adam Cole V Johnny Gargano – 2 Out Of 3 Falls Match 

WOW OH WOW OH WOW. If there was ANYTHING that could come close to making up for no Ciampa in the main event, it’s replacing him with Adam Cole… BAY BAY! So it looks to me like Gargano was gonna beat Ciampa and then feud with Cole after for the title, which would have been great, but it wasn’t to be. But Adam Cole is one of the best all rounders in NXT and the whole of WWE so he’s a more than adequate replacement. If anything the lack of Ciampa makes this match nearly impossible to predict, as it previously seemed obvious their incredible story would culminate with Gargano finally winning the championship from Ciampa on NXT’s biggest stage. So will they stick with the originally laid out match AND result of Gargano FINALLY becoming the NXT Champion? Or will they skip and go right ahead to Cole? It’s a really intriguing thing to see unfold, and it just makes a great match even more exciting. And I’m delighted to be able to say I really don’t mind who wins, heart says Cole, head says Gargano for the big babyface finale… hmm… I’ll go with my HEART.

Prediction: Adam Cole to win and become the NEW NXT Champion 

Takeover before Mania 3 years ago was in Dallas and was incredible (see my NXT Takeover: Dallas review blog). Takeover Orlando the night before Mania 33 2 years back included the debut of Aleister Black and the announcement Drew McIntyre had returned to WWE. And Takeover: New Orleans last year was the best Takeover of all time. So who on earth knows what Triple H and co will come up for us this year to open WrestleMania weekend? One thing is for sure though is that it’ll be really, really, REALLY good!

Josh. 

Ronda Rousey’s PPV matches in WWE; re-REVIEWED

Can you believe we are approaching a year since current Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey’s first match in WWE? Few would’ve thought going in to the show she would have the starring role in what was somehow the match of the night (on a card that included AJ Styles vs Shinsuke Nakamura I should add). From walking out after the first Women’s Royal Rumble Match it was clear that Rousey would play a leading role in WWE going forward, but it has certainly been a rocky road that has led her to the main event of WrestleMANia all within a year of her debut match. So in this blog I’ll be running through how her first year has gone by reminding you all of how she has done in her big PPV matches. I don’t recall off the top of my head a BAD Ronda PPV match (and DPMO that Australia show does not count as a proper PPV) when you discount the ones that were almost-intentionally bad when she squashed someone… so fingers crossed in what could be her final WWE PPV match for a little while she can keep up her good run of form on the grandest stage of them all… so here’s rundown and a reminder of Ronda’s WWE PPV matches so far…

Wrestlemania 34: Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle defeated Stephanie McMahon & Triple H in a Mixed Tag Team Match 

Imagine saying before Wrestlemania a match made up of a guy that hadn’t had a Wrestlemania match in 12 years, the guy who runs the company, a woman in her VERY FIRST MATCH and STEPHANIE MCMAHON would somehow have the best match on a card that included AJ Styles v Shinsuke Nakamura… But the mixed tag match at Wrestlemania was EVERYTHING we wanted it to be, and so much more. Ronda Rousey produced the most breathtaking debut performance in WWE history, we had inter-gender spots in WWE which I thought we may not ever see again, and the crowd and everyone watching thought the match was exceptional for what it was and surpassed all expectations. I lost my voice watching it from screaming so loud, so that’s a sign of how good it was surely? Be it Ronda finally getting her hands on Stephanie, Rousey beating up TRIPLE H, Kurt Angle putting STEPHANIE in the Ankle Lock or the look of fear at her impending doom seconds before McMahon tapped frantically out to Ronda’s Armbar… whatever your highlight of this match was there was no denying that on her first night in WWE on the biggest stage possible that Ronda Rousey absolutely smashed this ball way out of the park. Arguably the best main roster WWE match of 2018. FANTASTIC! 

****3/4

Money In The Bank 2018: Raw Women’s Championship = Ronda Rousey defeated Nia Jax (C) by Disqualification

This was where I first realized how good Ronda was. She got NIA JAX to a half decent match. Yes she sold an awful lot but my god didn’t she do it well? And when Rousey did get offence in it looked great. This really came across as a big time match and at one stage I think was going to be the main event of that PPV, in hindsight if it had of been I don’t think many would have minded. The match itself was a set up of course, as Alexa Bliss came out and hit Ronda with her recently acquired MITB briefcase for the DQ. She then hit Nia with the case, then Rousey again and again… teased a cash in… then hit Ronda with the case again for good measure. Then… indeed ALEXA BLISS CASHED IN! DDT to Nia, slammed her injured arm to the floor, to the top rope, Twisted Bliss, 123, ALEXA BLISS WON THE RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPIONSHIP!!! Great post match angle that fed into the Nia – Bliss story and protected Ronda, and the match itself was a real surprise in that I and most others expected it to be terrible and it ended up being not too bad. Ronda played babyface in peril to Jax really well and when she did get offence in it looked great. Another triumph for Rousey on WWE PPV. 

***1/2

Summerslam 2018: Raw Women’s Championship = Ronda Rousey defeated Alexa Bliss (C) to become the NEW Raw Women’s Champion 

After the pre-match video Natalya came out wearing her Dad’s (who had not long passed away) old jacket and she then took a seat ringside almost like a guest of honor, which given the then recent events was a nice touch. After champion Bliss was in the ring Rousey MARCHED down wearing full-Ronda-Mean-Face so you knew Bliss was fucked. In the early part of the match Bliss ran away from Ronda, until eventually she caught up with her. This was the first time as well we really saw Ronda play up to the crowd way more than she had done before. She squashed Alexa Bliss. Bliss tapped furiously as soon as the Armbar was eventually locked in, which itself came after a series of Judo throws and spinning-Fireman’s carries for the win. Summerslam had a fair few squashes on, this was probably the funnest and most satisfying given Bliss’ character personalities at that time. After the match Natalya came in and hugged Rousey. Then The Bellas came in (and got booed), they joined in the celebrations, and Ronda also went into the crowd to celebrate with her husband. Match was perfect for what it was, a short glorified squash match. But the moment of Ronda becoming the champion really came across as a big moment, even if at the time we had no idea just how big it would end up being… 

**1/2 

Hell In A Cell 2018: Raw Women’s Championship = Ronda Rousey (C) with Natalya defeated Alexa Bliss with Mickie James and Alicia Fox to RETAIN 

The match was centered around Ronda’s ribs that she injured on Raw the previous week. I remember wondering if they went too OTT with the references to her hurt ribs but they did have to make it seem an even fight somehow, so they had Rousey come in hurt. Ronda did out wrestle Bliss in the early stages, but Bliss was at most turns helped out by James and Fox. Bliss targeted Ronda’s ribs throughout with some pretty stiff looking strikes, she also had Ronda in an abdominal stretch (the idea Bliss could legit submit Rousey, injured or not, was a little far fetched for me). At one point Ronda and Alexa were perched on the top turnbuckle, Bliss striked her in the injured ribs leaving Ronda hung upside down for Bliss to smash her ribs. This got a nearfall (one of many for both in the match). With the ref’s back turned both Fox and James stretched Ronda around the ringpost onto her ribs, until Natalya made the save laying out Fox. Although this left James to still go after Rousey before Ronda put her away. The finish came with Bliss mocking Ronda thinking she was in control after a double crossbody left Ronda worse off and Bliss followed up with another kick to the ribs. But with Bliss cowered over Ronda it was Rousey who took over, she did her mean face (Alexa sold it perfectly to her credit), she did her flurry of quick punches to Bliss in the corner, she picked Bliss up and slammed her. But this was a slight modification on Ronda’s usual slam, this one looked a lot better and more normal so it looked like she had taken advise from people  that were giving her stick for it online around that time, so good job to her for that. She then put in the Armbar and Bliss tapped immediately. This was fine. I felt the rib stuff was played on too much, Ronda sold a lot which I was unsure about but I understand why they had to. The finish and result was the correct one, although the way it was booked was mixed in terms of how good it was. Nonetheless this match did exactly what it had to and should have done. 

**3/4 

Evolution 2018: Raw Women’s Championship = Ronda Rousey (C) defeated Nikki Bella with Brie Bella to RETAIN 

This match went on last. It shouldn’t have but it was always going to. It had to follow the best Women’s match on the main roster in WWE history between Becky and Charlotte, but they did just as good as it could be. It later came out they’d been at Nikki’s house laying this match out beforehand and it did look very contrived, but it’s pro wrestling so what do you expect. I’m not your biggest Nikki Bella fan but she was fine here, and Ronda did her stuff and Nikki sold it all. It was… fine… bordering on good. 

***1/2 

Survivor Series 2018: Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey defeated Smackdown’s Charlotte Flair by Disqualification

Me and my friends were all very tired before this match started. By the time Rousey made her way to the back again, we were all wide awake and my throat hurt having screamed and shouted so loud at what we had witnessed. The match itself as expected had a real ‘big fight feel’ from the start. From the start it seemed to be more a brawl than a wrestling match and although not completely seamless at the start it almost seemed a part of it, given that you’re not going to have faultless wrestling moves as part of a fight. They did some really good stuff after the initial brawl and striking at the start. Charlotte seemed in charge for most, Rousey got her mouth busted open pretty bad via a stray elbow from Charlotte. The match was an excellent one bell to bell, one of the better women’s matches in WWE and certainly from the main roster women  in 2018 (the other 2 also involving Flair), which given it took place on only a few days notice involving 2 women who had never wrestled one another and one that only had her first match in April is all the more remarkable. The match as good as it was though will only be remembered scarcely compared to what took place after. With Ronda on the outside of the ring Charlotte suddenly attacked her with a Kendo stick for the DQ. And when I say attack I should’ve said brutalized, massacred maybe. She hit her so many times and when the first stick was in pieces she hit her with another. And then with Rousey in the ring Charlotte got a steel chair and attacked Ronda Rousey with that too! A whole load of referees came our to try and stop the shocking assault, but Charlotte just pushed them all away (she was in full evil mad face mode by this stage). She finished off by placing a chair around Ronda’s neck and stomping it on the floor. Charlotte made her exit looking like a psychopath. The crowd went absolutely crazy (as did everyone else who saw it unfold) and it was by a long way the biggest babyface pop of the show, despite it appearing to be a Charlotte heel turn. Crowd also chanted “Thank you Charlotte” as the post match beatdown took place and as Rousey (who was absolutely covered in cuts, scratches, grazes and welts all over as well as her earlier bloody mouth and also a bloody ear) left to a chorus of boos and “you deserve it” as she looked devastated and mad at what had unfolded. There were also a huge number of “Becky” chants during this and the earlier women’s match. The match itself as I said was excellent. Ronda and Charlotte were both visibly moved as the crowd showed their appreciation. The babyface run of Charlotte, which looked to be suffering from being up against the ultra-popular Becky had been absolutely saved and then some. People had began at this stage to compare Charlotte to Roman as a babyface pushed strong against people more over than them and so are less liked as a result. They should have just let Roman brutalize people and the crowd would’ve loved it. They let Charlotte loose here and it was incredible. One of the best post match angles WWE have done for some time.

****1/2 

TLC 2018: Raw Women’s Championship = Ronda Rousey (C) defeated Nia Jax with Tamina to RETAIN 

I despise Nia and Tamina but to be fair this was a fine match between giant monster heel and valiant but tough babyface. Ronda looked fine and did her best to make the match as good as she could make it. Nia was Nia. Ronda did a step up knee and a step up punch at one stage that looked great, crowd popped big for a Ronda powerbomb off the middle rope on Jax that got a nearfall. Finish came when Nia teased her big punch, but Rousey blocked it and flipped her over to put her in position for the Armbar, she then looked at Tamina and said “this is for you” before kissing Nia’s fist and locking in the submission for the immediate win. Jax was led away by Tamina as a delighted looking Ronda Rousey celebrated. This was very clearly practiced a lot and it was fine, but I’ve little to no interest in Nia Jax matches as she infuriates me how bad she is at her job sometimes. This was fine, majorly down to Ronda (which when you think that Ronda less than a year in the company is able to drag people to a good match really is a massive credit to here). Many people thought this was even better than the first match between these two, I didn’t but didn’t think it was far off either if at all. It was good and better than I thought it’d be going in.  

***1/4 

Royal Rumble 2018: Raw Women’s Championship = Ronda Rousey (C) defeated Sasha Banks to RETAIN 

Some said this match was ‘clunky’ in parts and maybe it was and some said it was the best match of the show (I wouldn’t go that far but it was fine in my opinion), but nonetheless the live crowd and the people I was with watching it at the time enjoyed it. Sasha was the more popular of the two with the crowd. One noteworthy spot was Ronda hitting Sasha with the successive vertical suplexes similar to that of Eddie Guerrero of the past, Sasha Banks’ hero. Ronda did all her usual stuff but Sasha coped with it all, Banks later hit a suicide dive to Rousey on the outside but Ronda caught her and locked in the Armbar which led to Sasha tapping but of course they were outside the ring so it didn’t count. Later back in the ring Sasha had a crossface on Ronda, Rousey got to the ropes though but Sasha moved into an Armbar, but Ronda got out of it. The finish was Ronda Rousey hitting her ‘Piper’s Pit’ for the pin. Ronda helped Banks up after the match in a show of respect, and after Rousey went to celebrate with her husband ringside and Sasha walked away, the beaten challenger came back to the champion and they shook hands… but then Sasha threw up the 4 fingers… 

***3/4

Elimination Chamber 2019: Raw Women’s Championship = Ronda Rousey (C) defeated Ruby Riott to RETAIN

I hated this match. The angles around it for the story being told were fine, but they BURIED Ruby Riott here. Sure they gave her a TV match the next night and it was a proper match but for me the damage was done. Ruby opened up on the offensive but Rousey came-back with multiple arm drag takedowns. Ruby went to the outside as Ronda talked shit to her as Riott played the chicken shit heel really well. It was about a minute in and the crowd were chanting “we want Becky”… Riott eventually cameback with some strikes but Ronda quickly regained the advantage and hit the Piper’s Pit. She then pointed at the Mania sign, locked in the armbar and Ruby Riott tapped. The match went under 2 minutes. RIP Ruby’s credibility although she was an afterthought anyway they gave her zero here.  Charlotte was at ringside for the whole match and they did the angle after with these two and Becky that was pretty cool, but as a squash match this was definitely that. I was just sad they did this to Ruby for really no reason. This was something people debated but was what it was. 

It went 1 Minute and 40 Seconds so you need to behave yourself if you think I’m giving it a rating! 

So as you can see Ronda always has decent in-ring showings on PPV for however long they last. Sure she’s been booked to win some squashes but everything she herself has done has always been of a pretty high standard. She’s certainly made the most of the spots and matches she’s been put in. And there’s usually some form of big angle surrounding it to so they are always must see. And now she’s ending her first year in WWE in the MAIN EVENT of WrestleMANia! It really has been a pretty incredible first year for her in WWE, perhaps she’s done after dropping the title to Becky… if she is she will certainly be remembered for maybe the most amazing debut year in WWE when you consider it’s her first year EVER as a professional wrestler! I’ll be booing her during WrestleMANia, but if she comes out and gives some form of farewell speech on Raw the next night I’ll certainly applaud her for her efforts during her WWE run so far…

Josh. 

 

 

 

 

 

WrestleMania 33 – REVIEW

On April 2nd 2017 WrestleMania 33 emanated from the Camping World Stadium… or as WWE chose to call it by it’s former name… the Orlando Citrus Bowl. In front of a completely factual attendance of 75,245 ‘The Ultimate Thrill Ride’ was hosted this year by The New Day (more on them later). We also had a performance from Pitbull (more on that later, sadly) and Tinashe open the main show with a rendition of ‘America The Beautiful’. This show also had some things that didn’t appear that were planned to at one stage; Big Show Vs Shaquille O’Neal was teased in the media for a long time and even saw Show take up a new gym routine and get in life-best shape physique wise… only for Shaq to decide he didn’t fancy it. And once again we were apparently set to have Undertaker Vs John Cena, but Vince completely changed course it seems, and we had to wait many more years until that potential showdown was ever mentioned again…

The show itself, to be honest (and the reason I’m really reviewing this show) is that it is my personal favourite WWE PPV maybe of all time. Because it made me throughout what was admittedly a LOOOOOOONNNNNGGGGG show feel every emotion I could feel as a wrestling fan watching; I was furious at Mojo, I marveled at AJ and cringed at Shane, I lost my FREAKING MIND at The Hardys, my heart felt a little fuzzy at Cena and Nikki, I roared when Rollins won, I was devastated and annoyed at Bray, I was blown away by the chaos of Goldberg and Lesnar, and I watched in complete sadness and some tears at the main event and what took place afterwards. At the time watching it live I had endless Pizza, Ice Cream, Energy drinks and snacks to keep me going so I had the time of my life.

On the TWO HOUR pre show we had Neville retaining the Cruserweight Championship against Austin Aries, MOJO FUCKING RAWLEY won the Andre match (don’t even get me started) and Dean Ambrose retained the IC title against Baron Corbin. The Intercontinental Championship match was interesting; basically it sucked for sure but it was going to be on the main card until the internet learnt the Smackdown Women’s Championship match was set for the pre show and people were PISSED! So it turned out WWE swapped these two matches and it kind of showed given Dean and Corbin’s lackluster affair.

Tinashe opened the main show singing ‘America The Beautiful’, this led into a WrestleMania video package for ‘The Ultimate Thrill Ride’ that was then followed by The New Day (our hosts for the evening) coming out with a load of theatrics and their Final Fantasy inspired gear. Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and Corey Graves were on commentary for the Raw side with Tom Phillips, David Otunga and JBL being later introduced to call the Smackdown matches. New Day cut a wacky WrestleMania and New Day hype promo and the crowd were really in to it.

AJ Styles defeated Shane McMahon 

The pre-match video focused on AJ wanting appreciation and respect from Smackdown GM Daniel Bryan and Commissioner Shane McMahon. We also saw AJ ram Shane’s head through a ‘glass’ car window and Shane go on to do his signature elbow drop through the announce table before he loses at the PPV. Both Shane and AJ got big reactions coming out too. To begin the match AJ just toyed with Shane and even did his shuffle he does that was pretty funny. David Otunga even commented that “Shane is really wrestling him” which maybe the most accurate thing he’s ever said on WWE TV because I was as equally surprised at what Shane was doing. Shane did all his punches and AJ sold his ass off for him, AJ would later baseball slide dropkick Shane and he went flying over an announce table, they exchanged strikes back in the ring, AJ got the Calf Crusher in but Shane turned it around into a rear-naked choke, and not long after both guys absolutely flew into one another and they both were left laying on the mat as the crowd applauded. There was then a fun spot where AJ did the springboard looking for the 450 splash but Shane caught him on the way down and locked in a Triangle Choke and luckily it looked fairly seamless, but from this Styles lifted Shane up and hit a one-armed Styles Clash for a 2 count. After another exchange of strikes AJ accidentally kicked the referee Mike Chioda down, and after this Styles got a trashcan and trap Shane with it laid in the corner of the ring. Styles then setup for the ‘Coast to Coast’ double dropkick that Shane usually does but as he was in mid-air Shane leaped up and threw the trashcan at Styles. Crowd loved it to be fair. Shane then went for the move himself and he did hit it, the ref came back around but only counted a 2. Shane then cleared an announce table and placed Styles on top of it, and then of course he went for the elbow and Styles moved and McMahon crashed and burned. Styles went for a Phenomenal Forearm back in the ring but Shane caught him with a DDT so that was cool looking. Shane then went to the top rope and MISSED a Shooting Star Press as Styles moved out the way, prompting the first “This Is Awesome” chant from the Orlando crowd. Styles then hit a Phenomenal Forearm and got the 1, 2, 3. AJ Styles wins what was a shockingly good match, for Styles to get this good a match out of Shane McMahon is all testament to his incredible talent. Shane himself was… Shane… but he was a tonne better here than any performance I can recall of his since, possibly a lot down to his opponent here.

**** 

Kevin Owens defeated Chris Jericho (C) to win the United States Championship 

Owens got a big pop coming out before they aired the video package telling how their feud began at the incredible Festival of Friendship and Owen’s turn after which to me is still one of the better Raw segments there’s ever been. Less good things I have to say about Owens dropping the red belt to Goldberg in seconds… Jericho came out with a big entrance with full use of the stage lights and a GIANT ‘List of Jericho’ on the rampway. He also had a light up scarf that unsurprisingly was very well received by the crowd. They basically had a fight early on, Owens dominated with a couple of Cannonballs, and a running senton to get a couple of nearfalls, Jericho briefly got back into it with a dropkick to the outside as Owens tried for a Popup Powerbomb on the apron but Jericho hit  backbody drop to counter, Jericho got a nearfall and proceeded to call Owens a ‘”Son of a Bitch” (LEGIT), Owens appeared to have a cut on his head and then Jericho hit a Hurricanrana off the top rope for a nearfall and it looked really impressive. There was later an exchange where Owens went for the Frog Splash off the top but Jericho got his knees up, Jericho went for a Lionsault but Owens got his knees up, then Owens went for a SWANTON BOMB but Jericho got his knees up and both men were down exhausted. That was something else. Jericho got a nearfall, Owens went for the Popup Powerbomb again but Jericho jumped over him and then hit the Lionsault for a 2 count. Owens then got the Walls of Jericho on Y2J, and later Jericho returned the favour, but Owens got to the ropes. Then finally he hit the Popup Powerbomb but only got a nearfall to the delight of the crowd, and then in a brilliant spot Owens went for his finisher again but Jericho turned it into a Codebreaker. Ref counted 1, 2, and then Kevin Owens got ONE FINGER on the bottom rope to stop the pinfall… exceptional stuff! And finally the finish came when both were on the outside and Owens hit the Popup Powerbomb to Jericho on the ring apron, rolled him in the ring and pins him. Kevin Owens wins his 1st (of what to date is now 3) United States Championship. The crowd was kind of flat for the finish, and the match was FINE but I couldn’t help but be underwhelmed by it. I very much recall at the time that the feeling was this should (and legitimately at one stage was going to be) for the UNIVERSAL championship instead of the US title… but… Goldberg so… yeah… It was almost as if both men performed and the crowd treated as if these two guys had MADE Raw for the last 8 months and yet there payoff was to be an afterthought at WrestleMania… *sigh*.

***

Bayley (C) defeated Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks & Nia Jax in a Fatal 4 Way Elimination Match to retain the Raw Women’s Championship 

The pre match video told the story of the epic rivalry over the championship between Charlotte and Sasha and the many historic feats they accomplished during it, and then how Bayley came to Raw to challenge Charlotte and then how Nia Jax came in and tried to power her way to being champion. Bayley with Macho Man inspired entrance gear came out as champion… first… followed by Nia, then Sasha (being driven out whilst stood in the back of a cool-looking car and looking herself like a million dollars) and finally Charlotte. Bayley almost looked scared at the fight ahead of her to retain her title. The story of the first part of the match was basically a Nia Jax power-showcase as she destroyed all 3 women. And to counteract this the 3 women chose to team up on her with Charlotte hitting a Big Boot into a Bayley/Sasha double suplex for a Charlotte nearfall. To finally take her out they had Nia on top of the ring corner about to do a Yokozuna-style drop but Charlotte got up and held her in a Powerbomb position, and Bayley and Sasha joined her and they hit the triple powerbomb, then they all jumped on top of Nia to eliminate her (in probably the clearest example of protective booking you will see). I don’t know how but after seeing this again I’m convinced Nia used to be good and she’s gradually got worst. Charlotte then left the ring and let Bayley and Sasha fight it out, and later Sasha went over the ropes to down Bayley and then Charlotte Flair hit an exquisite looking corkscrew moonsault on both Bayley and Sasha to the outside (I’m unsure how this isn’t more memorable). Eventually as Charlotte and Sasha wrestled Flair took the turnbuckle pad off and later flung Banks into it and then pinned her. It seemed to catch everyone off guard including the commentators. So we were down to Charlotte and Bayley and they had a pretty fun mini-match, Bayley did a back body-drop on Charlotte off the top but Bayley remained caught in the ropes in the corner and then put Charlotte into the turnbuckle, and Bayley hit the big ‘Macho Man’ Elbow drop off the top rope and got the 1, 2, 3 to give Bayley the win! It was all fine and good in parts, but I thought this at the time and it remains my opinion but WHY OH WHY did Bayley win the title on a random Raw episode and NOT here at WrestleMania? It would’ve made this moment a million times more special, no? But yes this was… fine.

***  

They recapped the Hall of Fame ceremony and then introduced this year’s class on the stage: DDP got a pop from the crowd, The Rock N Roll Express got a mini pop, Teddy Long got a mild pop, the family of Rick Rude got somewhat of a pop, Beth Phoenix got a pop, the winner of the Warrior aware Eric Legrand got a pop and then… out came KURT ANGLE who got a tremendous ovation and everyone chanted “YOU SUCK” and it was AWESOME.

We saw Seth Rollins backstage getting his knee tapped up ahead of his unsanctioned grudge match against Triple H later. He got a big cheer.

And then we had the Raw Tag titles Ladder Match… and… well… I’ll explain…

The Hardy Boyz (Matt Hardy & Jeff Hardy) defeated Big Cass and his tag team partner, Sheamus & Cesaro and Karl Anderson & Luke Gallows (C) in a Fatal 4 Way Ladder Match to win the Raw Tag Team Championship 

So Cass and his partner came out first and did their thing and got cheered, followed out by Sheamus and Cesaro and the defending champions Gallows and Anderson who got a huge cheer. And so the 3 teams are in the ring for what was supposed to be a triple threat, and just before the bell was rung… out come THE NEW DAY… and well… I can’t do this justice in words so (and I’m sure you’ve seen this a million times as have I) … WATCH THIS then continue with my review:

WATCH THIS IMMEDIATELY

Without question one of the greatest moments in WrestleMania history. After this it was really all about the Hardys. Crowd were hot all match, and at the time (I actually said this to my friend Stefan and he was the same) I really didn’t remember much about this match after it had finished other than that it was really good and THE HARDYS ARE BACK!!! It’s a shame for those involved as watching it back for this blog it was actually a really good match but nobody will remember it other than The Hardy’s stuff. They did all their usual moves and it ended with Jeff on top of a ladder and he did the SWANTON off it onto Cesaro who was on a ladder and the ladder snapped in half when Hardy came down and the crowd went mad for the spot. Matt meanwhile grabbed the titles as EVERYONE in the crowd did the DELETE chant and gesture and The Hardys won. This was probably the worst description of a match I’ve ever done but honestly a match that followed one of the best moments in WWE history has to pail into insignificance sadly.

***1/2 (FOR THE MATCH…)

********** (FOR EVERYTHING FROM WHEN THE NEW DAY’S MUSIC HIT TO WHEN THE BELL RUNG)

John Cena & Nikki Bella defeated The Miz & Maryse in a Mixed Tag Team Match 

In short; this was the one where Cena and Nikki squashed Miz and Maryse and then got engaged after… But I digress… Pre-match video was great with two very different couples telling us all why the other couple weren’t ‘proper’. I do recall loving the build to this match though and was so impressed how much they got me looking forward to it from where I was at interest level wise when it was first announced. The Miz was EXCEPTIONAL in the build up. But sadly on the go-home show Cena basically told Miz at Mania he was going to destroy him… and then he did just that, so… yeah… anyway… Jerry Lawler came out to guest commentate on the match which I totally forgot happened watching it back again but it was a welcomed upgrade on David Otunga, and from NBC’s The Today Show they had Al Roker do guest ring announcing, and he got booed. Miz and Maryse got cheered coming out, Nikki’s intro got booed and there were some female cheers after but no reaction after that, and Cena got his usual mixed reaction and the ‘John Cena Sucks’ chants as per. Maryse and Nikki started the match but had no contact and Maryse tagged out quickly, the crowd absolutely LOVED The Miz as he basically ran away and taunted Cena, Miz got some good offence in on Cena that got him a couple of nearfalls, he did the YES Kicks before Cena knocked him out the ring and then made the ‘hot tag’ to Nikki Bella. Nikki immediately went after Maryse and pretty much battered her, she then did a Tope to the outside on Miz, and back in the ring Nikki floored Maryse with a big punch. Nikki and Cena then hit 5 Knuckle Shuffles on both Miz and Maryse, then Cena hit Miz with an AA as Nikki hit the Rack Attack on Maryse at the same time, then they both got the pins. Miz and Maryse were absolutely BURIED here. Then of course Cena and Nikki did the whole proposal thing after, which was a really nice moment sure but in hindsight it does make you sad given they’ve since split. The match sucked, but the moment after was legitimately touching I have to admit.

*1/2

Now… THIS was more like it…

Seth Rollins defeated Triple H with Stephanie McMahon in an Unsanctioned Match 

They put on an AWESOME Video package that really told how good a story these two had built going in. Triple H and Stephanie rode a giant trike to the ring accompanied by Police on Motorbikes, Rollins came out with a torch with flames at the top (kind of like the Olympic Torch) and he put it to the ground at the top of the ramp and then the rampway changed to flames to give off the impression Rollins was indeed about to ‘Burn It Down’. I liked it, it looked cool. Match began with a proper brawl as expected, they brawled to the outside with Rollins getting the upper hand before eventually Triple H targeted Rollins’ injured knee followed by a spike DDT onto an announce table. Triple H then hit Rollins’ knee twice with a steel chair, and then further attacked the knee with various strikes and holds, and eventually Rollins and Triple H were perched on the top rope and Seth went for a Sunset Flip Powerbomb but his knee buckled on the way down (this was a callback to how Rollins first hurt his knee IRL against Kane on a European tour with the exact same spot, commentary referred to this too). Triple H laughed at Rollins’ misfortune and proceeded to strike him, but Rollins fought enough to set up a Bucklebomb only for his knee to give way as he carried Triple H across the ring.  Triple H went for a Pedigree and then Seth went for a Pedigree of his own before eventually transitioning into a Bucklebomb which the crowd enjoyed, Rollins though continued to sell his knee. Rollins willed himself up and managed to knock Triple H to the outside, he then did a splash to the outside from the ringPOST but hurt his knee again on the way down but he did though throw Triple H into the ringpost. Rollins then got a couple of steel chairs and a table from under the ring before setting the table up ringside, Rollins then hit a frog splash off the top rope onto Triple H’s back and got a 2 count. Hunter then hit Rollins’ knee and then got a Spinebuster for a 2 count, and then he followed that up by trapping Rollins’ knee in a chair and attacking it, and then remarkably Triple H went to the top rope and unsurprisingly it didn’t end well as Rollins then launched a chair at him, and then he did his Superplex into the Falcon Arrow spot for a nearfall. Rollins made his way to the top again but Stephanie pulled him down and Triple H capitalized with a type of Figure 4 leg lock, Rollins countered into a crossface type (Gargano Escape) but Triple H kicked at his knee to break the hold, Hunter then threw a chair at Rollins before getting a submission hold in on the outside to again go at the knee with Rollins grabbing at anything he could to try and escape. In doing so Seth uncovered Triple H’s signature Sledgehammer, this led to Hunter breaking the hold to grab the weapon but Rollins striked him to make him drop it, they exchanged striking offences before Rollins again knocked Triple H down to make him drop the Sledgehammer, and now ROLLINS grabbed the Sledgehammer! It was though Stephanie who grabbed it from Rollins and off the distraction HHH hit a Pedigree but only got a 2 count! After both were on the top rope but Rollins knocked Triple H down with a backbody drop, and then hit an awesome looking Phoenix Splash for a nearfall that again hurt his knee. Both men then each traded 2 Pedigree attempts but Rollins’ injured knee stopped him from hitting the move in the end (I really liked this exchange). Stephanie then stood on the apron and held Rollins against the ring ropes for Triple H to attack him, Triple H charged at Seth but Rollins moved out the way and Triple H almost collided with Stephanie… he did though turn around into a superkick from Seth and this sent Hunter into Stephanie, knocking her off the apron and through the Table that Rollins had earlier set up. The crowd of course loved the fact Stephanie McMahon took a big bump as Triple H looked on in horror, he then turned around right into a Pedigree from Rollins who then pinned him 1, 2, 3. I really really liked this match. It slowed in places but it made sense for the story they were telling, and as good as Rollins is he had to work within himself so he could sell the knee. But I liked this match a lot and thought it was the best match on the show at the time, and watching back 3 years later I’m of the same opinion.

****1/4 

Pitbull did a mini-concert…

Now wish me luck everybody because I know what match is next…

Randy Orton defeated Bray Wyatt (C) to win the WWE Championship

This was the one where all the weird graphics of bugs and stuff appeared as part of Bray Wyatt’s “powers” and then Randy beat him anyway… They had… a match… and at one stage Bray did his Spider Walk thing and then suddenly we cut to an aerial shot of the ring as maggots/footage of maggots appeared on the ring canvas and everyone was confused… then the lights came back on and the match carried on… then later Bray did it again and this time we had worms… then he did it a 3rd time and cockroaches appeared… then straight after Bray took his time with Randy and was smiling and then Orton hit the RKO and pinned him and won the title. You’ll note I haven’t said much about the wrestling, that’s because A. it kinda sucked and the wrestling bits kind of just plodded along and then B. the graphics stuff REALLY overshadowed the match and even Tom Phillips on commentary noted “70,000 plus people have no idea what to make of this” … and he was not wrong. This was an ALL TIME terrible WWE Championship/WrestleMania/ANY WWE match fuck up.

DUD

I REALLY needed a pick me up after that. WWE did not let me down…

Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman defeated Goldberg (C) to win the Universal Championship 

The video package shown was incredible. It was narrated by Heyman so that was a big plus right away, and it just reminded me how perfectly booked Goldberg’s entire 2016-17 run was. Lesnar as the challenger came out first and got a big ovation (with his WrestleMania attire… his trusty black beanie hat…), Goldberg followed with his OG entrance and the chants echoing around the Citrus Bowl. Heyman got a huge reaction doing his introduction for Lesnar and it became clear very quickly that although Goldberg was over this was definitely a pro-Lesnar crowd. So this is exactly what happened move-for-move in the match: the bell rung, Lesnar hit Goldberg with 3 German Suplexes, Lesnar roared, the camera didn’t pick up the oncoming Goldberg though who hit a big Spear, then he hit a 2nd Spear but Lesnar rolled to the outside, then Goldberg speared Lesnar through the barricade, Goldberg hit Brock with a knee to the stomach then rolled him back into the ring, Goldberg tried for the Jackhammer, Lesnar maneuvered into a possible F5, but Goldberg got out of it and hit another Spear, Goldberg hit a Jackhammer, the referee counted 1 then 2 but Lesnar then kicked out as the crowd went wild and loudly did the YES chants, Goldberg set for another Spear but Lesnar JUMPED OVER GOLDBERG and Goldberg went into the turnbuckle, then Lesnar hit SEVEN German Suplexes as the crowd went wild for the 10th, Lesnar roared, the he hit the F5, and then he covered Goldberg and got the pin. The crowd went wild for the finish and Brock Lesnar is the Universal Champion. The match went 4 minutes and 45 seconds AND IT WAS FUCKING BRILLIANT! EXACTLY what it should have been, short and action-packed, it was big moves ONLY and it was just GREAT! It was the pick-up we ALL need after Bray Vs Randy. Do not see my rating as a sign this match was anything short of exceptional, bare in mind this match went less than 5 minutes and it managed to get a rating even this high which is exceptional. If wrestling matches were usually around 5 minutes this would be 5 stars easily. You will never see a sub-5 minute match as good as this!

***1/4

Naomi defeated Alexa Bliss (C), Becky Lynch, Mickie James, Carmella with her ‘thing’ and Natalya in a 6 Pack Challenge to win the Smackdown Women’s Championship 

This was the one where the women and the internet complained about this match being on the pre show, so they moved it and put it in the death-spot between the two biggest matches on the show, and then the match sucked anyway… Bliss as champion came out first to a decent pop, Becky got a minor reaction (wow how times have changed), Mickie James then Carmella and then Natalya got next to no reaction, before finally hometown girl Naomi came out with her cool af entrance to a big pop. Naomi had vacated the title in February of this year due to injury having only just won it, but returned on the go-home show for WrestleMania… Why she couldn’t have just comeback at Mania as a surprise I don’t know… Anyway if I had to describe the match in one word it would be as a ‘clusterfuck’. It was a proper nothing match and I didn’t note anything that was close to a memorable spot. I did note about the… questionable… sets of attires and make up of some of the women (sorry Becky I’m looking at you) (and before the social justice warriors come for me I asked an actual girl if my comments were warranted and she agreed, then a friend basically concurred too so yeah…) ANYWAY Naomi, who was absent from the action basically the entire match, got involved and got the only really-audible crowd reaction of the match because otherwise this crowd was DEAD. Naomi tapped out Alexa to regain her title and the crowd were happy. A terrible spot to be in sure but this match sucked. Sorry.

*3/4

The New Day came back out and stood on the ramp, sporting impeccable suits with tidy Blue Jackets. They announced the completely factual WrestleMania attendance as a stadium record of 75,245.

And then it was time for the WrestleMania 33 main event…

Roman Reigns defeated The Undertaker in a No Holds Barred Match

They aired a cool video for the match before JIM ROSS came out to join Michael Cole and JBL on commentary. Ross got a huge ovation just weeks after the passing of his wife Jan. She had tragically died in a motorcycle accident when she was crashed into. I was actually at a WCPW show the day after the tragedy in which Jim was scheduled to commentate at, of course he didn’t make the show. So I personally was very touched to see him come out here. It really was pretty emotional and special to see him here just weeks later about to call the main event of WrestleMania. It was later announced in the days following the show that JR had re-joined the WWE (and is I write this his contract and time with the company is once again coming to an end). Roman and Taker got the exact reactions that were expected from the crowd; Roman was very very heavily booed, and Taker was welcomed like he was a God as he of course took 5 hours to get to the ring. Taker started the match dominant and repeatedly told Roman this was still ‘his yard’, Roman briefly got back into it but Undertaker came back with the Snake Eyes, Big Boot, Leg Drop trifecta to get a 2 count, and he then set up for the Chokeslam but Roman rolled to the outside, only later to run into a huge Undertaker punch. The Phenom then cleared an announce table and then Chokeslammed Reigns onto it, he then cleared the other announce table and teased a Tombstone but Roman came flying up and Speared Taker through the announce table which was a hell of a spot to be fair to them. Roman made his way back in to the ring and was heavily booed, until The Undertaker did his sit up to a big pop. Back in the ring Roman was hitting Taker with Punches whilst on the top rope only for Taker then to lift him up and hit a Last Ride (a clunky looking one but still). Not long after Taker got a steel chair he hit Reigns with it multiple times before trying a Chokeslam again but again to a chorus of boos Roman rolled to the outside. Reigns back in the ring hit 2 Superman Punches only for Taker to each time bounce off the ropes and then finally hit the Chokeslam on Roman onto the steel chair, but Roman kicked out at 2. Taker did his slit of the throat gesture and then hit a Tombstone Piledriver; 1, 2, Roman kicked out! Nobody could believe it and the crowd booed a lot. There was then a really interesting moment; Undertaker tried to lift Roman up for another Tombstone but then Reigns reversed it and looked to be setting for a Tombstone of his own but Taker then fell and looked to not be able to pull himself up to get in position for Roman to hit the move. This happened a couple of times and it was obviously a botch, but I thought with the story they were telling (that Taker was the old lion and Roman was physically ahead of him) it was kind of effective. Anyway Roman eventually decided they weren’t going to be able to do the move so he punched Taker away then hit a big Superman Punch for a nearfall. Reigns then did his big “oooooooo,aaaaaaaaaaa” and then hit a giant Spear… 1, 2, and then Taker locked in the Hell’s Gate submission! Crowd went wild until Roman got to the ropes and both men were down exhausted. Undertaker crawled over to try and grab the steel chair but Roman stood on the chair in what I thought, again, was a good storytelling moment. Reigns then grabbed the chair and absolutely battered Taker with a load of chair shots, Undertaker somehow made his way to his feet with the support of the ropes as the crowd chanted for him, but he turned around into a Spear… but he KICKED OUT at 2! Crowd cheered this of course. Roman did the “ooooo,aaaa” again, hit another Spear, and again Taker kicked out and again the crowd were happy and did the YES chants. Roman Reigns continually showed a mixture of disbelief yet a reluctance to have to dish out even more punishment to the older warrior across from him. Undertaker tried to do his sit-up spot but couldn’t manage it, Roman in fact told Taker to stay down but instead The Deadman talked some trash to Reigns, so in-turn Roman ran between the ropes a few times to build his momentum and hit a huge Spear once again… 1, 2, 3! Roman got the win. The crowd booed this A LOT of course and carried on as his music played as Taker lay flat out in the ring still. Reigns looked almost sad he had to do that to Taker so sold it really well, he raised his arms in the air as fireworks went off in the big celebration moment for him, and everyone booed.

**3/4

After Roman made his way to the back the camera panned back to The Undertaker who was still laying flat in the ring. The crowd chanted ‘Thank You Taker’ and applauded him as he just about managed to sit up as he looked absolutely worn out. They then showed highlights of the match before we returned to the ring to see Undertaker in his full entrance gear and all the lights darkened with Taker’s music playing. The crowd continued to give him an amazing reception as he soaked it in and then twice went to leave the ring before returning to the middle, after the 2nd time was when he started to make us all cry. He proceeded to take off his gloves, his coat and then his hat and lay them in the middle of the ring. He made his way out of the ring, kissed his wife Michelle McCool at ringside and made his way up the ramp. People in the audience were crying, and I don’t think I speak for myself when I say I think most people watching on TV were crying too. As smoke filled the rampway Taker turned around to take one last look at the crowd and even had a tear in his eye, he then ceremonially raised his right arm in the air and lightning struck. And then slowly Taker descended underneath the rampway until he was completely out of sight. Another gong played, then the lights in the arena all went off, then another gong, and then the show went off the air. The final shot of WrestleMania 33 was an all blacked out arena where Taker seemed to have gone for what we all assumed was the last time, or at least the grand presentation of what happened made you think so. It was a pretty stunning visual. It did end what was an incredibly eventful and action-packed show on a very sad note but storytelling wise it was something else. I tweeted out the next day “Anyone else wake up this morning & feel like a part of their childhood had died? #ThankYouTaker #Wrestlemania” as #ThankYouTaker trended for almost a full 24 hours afterwards.

So yes I do not speak for myself when I say this was a universally loved show after it had happened. An AWESOME WrestleMania and one of the best for well over a decade at least. Other than it being way too long (OH THE IRONY HEADING IN TO MANIA 35 COMPLAINING A 5 HOUR MAIN SHOW IS TOO LONG… LOL) it was start-to-finish a real rollercoaster ride… you could say it really was “The Ultimate Thrill Ride”… Even if most of the ‘rasslin wasn’t great, as a show it was incredible. You couldn’t come away from this show as a fan and say you weren’t massively touched emotionally. I must also commend the stage of the show which with the rollercoaster theme looked awesome and Jim Ross’ performance calling the main event. Negatives of course are Bray’s PowerPoint projections which were beyond belief embarrassing as a huge Bray Wyatt fan I was at the time, and also how wasted an opportunity it was at the time not to turn Roman heel off the back of his main event win and “retiring” of the most universally adored superstar in WWE history, particularly when he cut his famous “THIS IS MY YARD NOW” promo the next night on Raw. But as WWE shows go, and we all love to give them stick, this show at the time I thought was incredible. And watching it back three years later I felt the same. A FANTASTIC PPV. Hats off to WWE because this was definitely a show I will never ever forget.

Josh. 

WrestleMania 29 – REVIEW

Just like this year’s show of shows it was MetLife Stadium in New Jersey that played host to WrestleMania from the year 2013. Not all that long ago of course but I thought it be fun to look back at the show given it is indeed in the same venue as the 2019 equivalent. In summary I’m sure you’ve heard of the phrase ‘a one match show’… well… this was absolutely a three match show. CM Punk trying to end Undertaker’s streak in the aftermath of the passing of Paul Bearer, Brock Lesnar trying to end the career of Triple H and in the main event for the WWE Championship we had John Cena challenging The Rock… TWICE in a lifetime… This show also marked the final time the World Heavyweight Championship (the big gold belt) would be defended on the grandest stage of all as a standalone title (given the belt closed 3 Manias it had a very sad final showing here). The show will also be remembered for the famous cancelled match scheduled to be between the team of Brodus Clay, Tensai (A-Train or nowadays Matt Bloom) and ‘The Funkadactyls’ (Cameron and Naomi) against Cody Rhodes, Damien Sandow and Nikki and Brie Bella. It got the bump after Taker v Punk went long and they didn’t want to take any time from the other two matches, they did the match on Raw the next night and it went a couple of minutes and nobody cared. Harsh on them but nobody really cared at the time, not like they would nowadays but it does show you how far women in WWE have come. Overall it seemed the show got mixed reviews, the live crowd seemed to have fun but given the venue is an outside stadium it suffered from that old thing of the noise escaping and so nobody sounds over (yet the crowd were pretty loud during one match in particular). I would keep an eye out for that this year…

The Pre Show in the pre-WWE network era saw a panel of Jim Ross, Kofi Kingston (wonder what ever happened to him), Dusty Rhodes and Scott Stamford (him from ‘This week in WWE’ on the network) on a panel discussing the upcoming show. They also had Snooki (her from Jersey Shore and a former WrestleMania competitor… christ…) interview The Miz backstage. The single match on the pre show saw Miz tap out Wade Barrett to win the Intercontinental Championship. 12 months prior Miz retained the WWE Championship against John Cena and here he was on the pre show…

The opening video shown at the start of the show centered around Storm Sandy that had destroyed New York the prior October and the rebuilding process in the city, and how WrestleMania was almost a reward for their resilience. They then showed the New Jersey National Guard stood at the front of the entrance ramp with the Diddy-Dirty Money song ‘Coming Home’ played in the background. They then aired a more WWE themed WrestleMania themed video package and then the show got underway. Your commentators are Michael Cole, JBL and Jerry Lawler with Lillian Garcia and Justin Roberts sharing the ring announcing duties.

The Shield (Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins & Dean Ambrose) defeated Sheamus, Randy Orton & Big Show

Sheamus got a decent pop, Orton got a bigger one and Big Show got basically nothing. The Shield got a reaction coming out and were really put over as a big deal. This was a showcase match for The Shield in their WrestleMania debut, although all 6 guys got their stuff in. The Shield really got punished at times with Show ripping Dean’s vests off and chopping his bare chest and Sheamus then doing the same to Rollins and then Ambrose. The Shield at one stage had Sheamus set up for the triple Powerbomb but Big Show made the save by spearing everyone down. Orton got the blind tag from Show, hit a great draping DDT to Dean as Big Show watched on, he went to RKO Ambrose but instead caught Rollins who had done the springboard off the ropes with an RKO instead which looked really cool, but Orton then turned around into a Spear from Roman Reigns. Ambrose then got the cover as Big Show did nothing to stop his team from losing here. This was OK for the 10 minutes it went without being great, and it was the only result possible. After the match Show and Orton argued and Big Show gave the knockout punch to both Randy Orton and then to Sheamus as the crowd booed.

**1/2 

They showed a really good video¬† promoting the main event. The story they told with it was how his loss to The Rock at last year’s show began what was a nightmare period for John Cena, and how he redeemed himself and got out the slump. This was honestly really great and was Cena being prime Cena, regardless of personal views I have to say it did a good job of putting Cena over as a huge fighting babyface, and they do love a comeback story in the US so it made a lot of sense and they did a great job with it. Still though as good as it was it was still odd that they showed a video for a match that was still hours away but still it was a great watch.

Mark Henry defeated Ryback

This was like the kind of match I’d imagine Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks would have on British TV in the 70s/80s (google each guy and make your own mind up). Henry clotheslined Ryback out the ring and he only got back in at 9, the crowd did not like this match and even commentary said “WWE universe showing their displeasure”… NO SHIT! Ryback made his comeback and lifted Henry up in a fireman’s carry position which did get a big pop, but then Ryback collapsed and Henry fell on top of him. And then Henry pinned him. Ryback got the heat back after by hitting a Spinebuster and then the Shellshock on Henry, why he couldn’t have just won the match I don’t know, especially odd given Henry lost in a match and after Ryback made the challenge to the WWE Champion the next night. A finish fitting of the match in the sense both really sucked.

3/4* (0.75 stars)

Jerry Lawler and JBL were playing with some action figures they were promoting (the WWE  Power Slammers action figures set). This was really funny and if you can watch it you should. After the previous match it was something I needed.

The partnership between WWE and Special Olympics was announced. Lillian Garcia introduced the Team USA alongside Stephanie McMahon and the New Jersey Governor. You see, SOMETIMES WWE can do nice things.

WWE Tag Team Championship: Team Hell NO (Kane & Daniel Bryan) (C) defeated Dolph Ziggler & Big E Langston with AJ Lee to retain 

Daniel Bryan (a year away from his big moment) was sooooooooooo over! Big E overpowered Kane which was a sight to behold, Ziggler hit a clunky looking move on Bryan for a nearfall (JBL covered it up saying he didn’t get all of it), a few more nearfalls then saw Dolph hit a Zig Zag on Kane for a 2 count which the crowd popped for, then AJ Lee (who was a previous girlfriend of Daniel Bryan and they played on that too) slid in Ziggler’s Money in the Bank briefcase but he was unable to use it and he missed Kane and then got a big boot. Kane hit a Chokeslam, tagged in Bryan who hit a flying headbutt and ,with Big E down, they were able to get the win. This was really good but was criminally too short (just over 6 minutes), especially given how over everyone involved was particularly Bryan of course. There lots of YES chants too at the end.

**1/4 

Fandango defeated Chris Jericho

There lots of female dancers as part of Fandango’s entrance (it was his debut). They played a video montage of Jericho saying Fandango’s name wrong in many different ways and it was hilarious. Jericho got a big pop coming out. Match began with Fandango taking a beating and bumping like crazy, this carried on until Fandango got a brief comeback and even hit a leg drop off the top rope which got a nearfall that people popped for. Jericho got the wall of Jericho in but Fandango kicked out of it, Fandango went for the big leg drop again but Jericho moved, he went for the Lionsault but Fandango got his knees up, this led to the Walls of Jericho again but Fandango rolled it over (they explained Jericho hurt his knee off the Lionsault hence Fandango was able to counter) for the 1, 2, 3! FANDANGO WINS AND NOBODY COULD BELIEVE IT! It was put over as one of the biggest upsets in WrestleMania history, but the live crowd didn’t seem to react much to it as I think they really liked Jericho.

**

We recapped the match from the pre show were Miz beat Wade Barrett for the IC title.

They then showed a video on The Rock where fans of his were spliced in saying his catchphrase. It was a bit cringey but was what it was.

There was a video of past WrestleMania’s on the arena screens that led into a P Diddy mini-concert. This really sucked.

To follow that excitement… we had…

World Heavyweight Championship: Alberto Del Rio (C) with Ricardo Rodriguez defeated Jack Swagger with Zeb Colter to retain 

I was absolutely blown away by Zeb Colter’s anti-foreigner gimmick. He cut a promo and they played a video that was pretty much him being a racist. I could not believe this was a thing only SIX years ago. Colter and Swagger actually first appeared in the ring as the video had just finished playing, so the guy challenging for the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP AT WRESTLEMANIA got a jobber entrance. Extraordinary. Del Rio came out with his manager who was doing an injury angle. Match was fine, but to be honest I’m not a fan of anyone in this match whatsoever so I found it a bit of a slog. In-ring it was OK but the crowd didn’t care much, and there were chants for Ziggler (MITB holder at the time who’d cash in on Del Rio the next night on Raw in fact). Crowd were happy when Del Rio won with the Cross Armbreaker submission. Ricardo Rodriguez seemed the most over guy with the crowd involved here so that was very telling to me.

**3/4

The Undertaker defeated CM Punk with Paul Heyman 

The pre-match video package for this was excellent. It centered around the recent passing of Taker’s longtime former manager Paul Bearer and the disrespect shown towards Taker and Bearer by Punk and Heyman. Punk said he’d end the streak. The band Living Colour played Punk’s music live, they were introduced as ‘New York’s own’ which I found odd as Punk is really the heel and you had a hometown group play him out who were obviously going to get cheered. Not that Punk was ever getting booed in front of this crowd anyway. Taker’s entrance took a typically long time, Punk played with The Urn during it and Heyman’s acting here too was great. I didn’t take too many notes on this match as I was so engrossed by it, so I’ll write you exactly what I put in my notes:

“HALLELUJAH! A GOOD MANIA 29 MATCH! THIS WAS FUCKING GREAT! SO MUCH FUN TO WATCH! CM PUNK DESERVES A GIANT MEDAL FOR GETTING THIS MATCH OUT OF 2013 TAKER!!!”

An excellently told story. Lots of nearfalls for both. Crowd were in to absolutely everything both guys did all match, and in the end Taker got his win and the urn back. This might have been (in hindsight) Taker’s last great hurrah, as aside from the Lesnar Summerslam match in 2015 I can’t think of any Taker matches that were of this standard that have taken place since.

****1/2

We got ANOTHER Cena vs Rock video… COME ON NOW!?!? …

Triple H with Shawn Michaels defeated Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman in a No Holds Barred Match (if Triple H lost he’d have to retire)

A great video package was followed by a typically grand WrestleMania entrance for The Game. In fact during it he was accidentally sprayed with dry ice during it which given the images he shared after the match I presume was excruciatingly painful. This match is also notable to the internet for being the match where Lesnar did his famous scream which has now become a meme (you’ll know the one I mean when you see it). This was more of a long brawl than a wrestling match but that was to be expected. The crowd were NOT happy at all when Lesnar hit and then F5’d Shawn Michaels. Lesnar also kicked out of a Pedigree, and then Triple H also kicked out of an F5. Lesnar locked in the Kimura (which he had previously utilized in the build to the match breaking HHH’s arm twice and also that of HBK), the crowd chanted ‘break his arm’ but Triple H was able to escape with a Spinebuster. Triple H then hit a low blow to Lesnar as HBK just looked on chilling which was funny. Triple H then put the Kimura on Brock as Michaels hit the superkick to Heyman to stop him breaking it up which got a giant pop. Lesnar slammed Triple H down onto the steel steps that were in the ring to try and break the hold but HHH kept it locked in. This happened 3 times in a row, only the third time HHH appeared to move his arm during it and I THINK the idea was that instead of Lesnar slamming him down Triple H would use the impact but turn it to his favour and lock his arm round Brock’s neck for a DDT. Commentary were kind of late to call this and pint out what it was so I;m not sure they followed what was happening there as it happened. Triple H then smashed Lesnar with a sledgehammer and he then roared to a huge pop. He then hit the Pedigree on the steps for the win and the finish got a big reaction. This match was fine but seemed to be paced really slowly, I think intentionally for impact but it wasn’t one you could really get into as a wrestling match. If you want stiff and brutal stuff this was for you though. It wasn’t bad too considering Lesnar was legitimately KNOCKED OUT in the very early stages of the match and had to be talked through the following few minutes by Hunter. So credit to them for putting even something this good with that in mind. Anyone was going to struggle following Taker v Punk but these two did fine and HBK helped a lot with that too, didn’t help that the whole world knew Triple H was about to retire.

***3/4

They recapped the Hall of Fame class and ceremony of the year. Considering the ceremony was held at Madison Square Garden which is widely considered the spiritual home of WWE it was an incredible class, probably the most star-studded they’ve ever had. Howard Finkel did the introductions for; Mick Foley (big pop), Booker T (big pop), Trish Stratus (pop), Bob Backlund (kind of got a pop), Donald Trump (roundly booed, well done MetLife) and headliner Bruno Sammartino (who of course got a huge round of applause and a big pop from the crowd).

They did an advert saying that WrestleMania the next year would be in New Orleans.

They then announced the attendance for the show, which as always with WWE was 10000000000% factual.

John Cena defeated The Rock (C) to win the WWE Championship 

Cena was booed when he came out. Rock was cheered loudly maybe the most of anyone on the show. If you saw their first match this will make more sense, but it was almost the same only not as good. It had all the big spots and moments you’d expect but half the crowd heat of their previous match. I’d presume that was because it wasn’t in Rock’s hometown like the previous year’s and everyone knew Cena was winning in the end. The Rock actually DURING THE MATCH tore his hip and abdominal muscles as well as sustaining a hernia, so he didn’t have the best of showings presumably as a result (he flew out for surgery the next day and missed Raw as a result). This actually put back filming of Rock’s movie Hercules. It is probably why we haven’t seen Rock in a proper match since given his insurance costs raised up by movie companies after this. Rock was apparently planned to face BROCK LESNAR the next year so think about how different WWE history could have been! Anyway in this match the crowd loved The Rock but more out of hope than actually thinking he’ll win I think, as they fell flat at every Cena finisher hit. And boy oh boy did we have a gazillion false finishes in this match! But to be fair the crowd were into almost everyone towards the end, but in the end of course they tried to play off the finish of their fist match to end this one. The year prior it was Cena’s over-confidence that cost him, but this year Rock instead of trying to pin Cena who was down after a DDT chose to go for another Rock Bottom, and Cena countered this into another AA and then got the win. The Cena fans sounded happy but most people in the front few rows just stood there, the camera panned to the crowd and you could see people walking out (good one Kevin Dunn), there was a mixed response to Cena and Rock talking then embracing in the ring, Rock held Cena’s arm aloft at the top of the entrance ramp to close the show. People in the stadium didn’t seem to like this too much.

**3/4 

Well it was billed as a 3 match show and it ended up being a 1 match show. Everything else was very by-the-book and not many surprises at all. Fandango winning was a mild shock but too far down the card for anyone to care about. In looking to this years show it should be noted that the crowd sounded… well put it this way my friend Stefan asked me about what I thought of the crowd and how they sounded during the show? I thought about it and best I came up with is that it sounded like the crowd were in a stadium.. without a roof… which of course they were but the point is the sound in a stadium goes up and into the air, whereas in an indoor arena the sounds has a roof to bounce off so the noise stays in the arena and the crowd sound louder. So don’t be worried if the crowd sound quiet during Mania 35, it should be noted you could definitely hear them though during Punk v Taker so maybe it’s just they weren’t that in to much else on the show. I wouldn’t blame them too much to be honest. Notably this was then the highest grossing of all time so credit to them for that. Overall it seemed a below par Mania without being a bad PPV (Henry v Ryback aside), and maybe it was a sign of the lack of roster depth at the time but there wasn’t anything outside the final 3 matches that screamed Mania-worthy to me.

Josh.

???Wrestlemania Main Event???

The Main Event of Wrestlemania. The ultimate prize for every single WWE superstar. About as coveted and as prestigious a match as you could get. Of course every year there can only be one match that closes the show of shows, and in recent years (this year more than ever) what match and who should go on last is often a topic of debate amongst WWE fans. As recently as Wrestlemania 33 it wasn’t known going in to the show on the day what would go on last, even last year it emerged the decision to close with Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns was made very close to show time, and even closer was the choice to change the finish. Ideally they want a big celebration for a babyface (at least most of the time) to cap off Wrestlemania, the lack of such was behind why the decision was made not to do the big coronation of Roman Reigns in New Orleans to an inevitable chorus of boos… and then they went ahead and did it in Brooklyn at Summerslam some months later anyway… and now going in to this years MANia they were at one stage calling both Seth V Brock AND the Women’s triple threat ‘the main event’. In this blog I will go through year-by-year looking at what match closed Wrestlemania (because as CM Punk will tell you, however WWE want to dress it up as ‘double’ or even ‘triple’ main events, the LAST match is the main event and always will be) and look at if WWE made the right choice. Some years maybe they chose the wrong match on the card to go last, maybe some years they had a long term plan but for one reason or another couldn’t make the match they had planned and maybe some years Hulk Hogan will come out and play Billy Big Balls and waltz in and win the title. This should be good fun…

WrestleMania 1 ‚Äď Madison Square Garden; New York City: 31/3/85. WWE Champion Hulk Hogan & Mr T (with Jimmy Snuka) defeated Roddy Piper & Paul Orndorff (with Bob Orton) – Special Guest Referees: Muhammad Ali and Pat Patterson, Guest Ring Announcer: Billy Martin, Guest Time Keeper: Liberace accompanied by The Rockettes

Given it was the first Mania it was clear that Vince McMahon wanted as many eyes on his main event of his premier showcase event and did so by putting in as many big names as he could. He did, and clearly 34 years later it worked out well so it can hardly be criticized. Perhaps the better wrestling story would’ve seen Hogan defending his title in a straight singles match against Roddy Piper, but all things considered this star studded contest made plenty of sense.

WrestleMania 2 – Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena; California: 7/4/86. WWE Champion Hulk Hogan (C) defeated King Kong Bundy in a Steel Cage Match to retain the WWE Championship. // Nassau Coliseum; Uniondale. Mr T defeated Roddy Piper in a Boxing Match. // Rosemont Horizon; Illinois. ‘The British Bulldogs’ (Davey Boy Smith & Dynamite Kid) (with Lou Albano and Ozzy Osbourne) defeated ‘The Dream Team’ (Brutus Beefcake & Greg Valentine) (C) (with Johnny Valiant) to win the WWE Tag Team Championship

Yes before we go anywhere the 2nd WrestleMania was held in THREE locations!!! So looking at the final match of each card; a popular babyface team with celebrity guests accompanying them winning the tag titles in one city, a huge celebrity beating a rival in a boxing match that built on the story of last year’s event to close the Uniondale Mania and finally man of the moment Hulk Hogan beating a big, bad guy in a cage to keep his championship. The main event matches pretty much did their job.

WrestleMania 3 – Pontiac Silverdome; Michigan: 29/3/87. WWE Champion Hulk Hogan (C) defeated Andre The Giant (with Bobby Heenan) to retain the WWE Championship.

Not much of an argument here. One of the biggest and most famous matches in wrestling history, ‘The Irresistable Force meeting The Imovable Object’ was about as much a WrestleMania main event worthy match as there ever has been.

WrestleMania 4 – Historic Atlantic City Convention Hall; New Jersey: 27/3/88. Randy Savage (with Miss Elizabeth) defeated Ted DiBiase (with Andre The Giant) in a tournament final to win the vacant WWE Championship.

So… this was odd… Andre The Giant SOLD THE WWE CHAMPIONSHIP to The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase. In disgust WWE President Jack Tunney stripped him of the title and a tournament was made for WrestleMania to crown a new champion. Eventually we reached a point where the scheming DiBiase would face off against THE MACHO MAN!!! And of course Savage got the win and the title and we all had a great and happy moment… but of course Hogan had to get his two-pence in and got involved, hitting DiBiase with a chair before Randy Savage hit his big elbow for the win. It wasn’t Hogan, and it was WWE putting over the next guy, so at this stage a change was apparently welcomed.

WrestleMania 5 – Atlantic City Convention Hall; New Jersey: 2/4/89. Hulk Hogan defeated Randy Savage (C) to win the WWE Championship.

With Miss Elizabeth at ringside THE MEGA POWERS EXPLODED! In somewhat of a theme of the early few WrestleMania’s the main event built from a story from the previous year, which is refreshing in the modern age looking back. A story told over many months that saw The Macho Man grow cynical and paranoid at both Hogan’s stardom and his closeness with Savage’s then wife Miss Elizabeth. Of course, Hogan won… because… Hogan… but nonetheless the long build and star power meant this more than fit the bill of WrestleMania main event.

WrestleMania 6 – SkyDome; Toronto, Canada: 1/4/90. Intercontinental Champion Ultimate Warrior defeated WWE Champion Hulk Hogan in a winner takes all match to win the WWE Championship and retain the Intercontinental Championship.

Yes you did read that right, Hulk Hogan LOST in the main event of a WrestleMania! After many years Vince McMahon had finally decided he needed a new top guy, he chose the Ultimate Warrior. Beginning with a showdown in that year’s Royal Rumble Match Hogan and Warrior were set on a path that led to ‘The Ultimate Challenge’. Warrior won to a huge reaction at the apparent changing of the guard… the key word there being ‘apparent’… but at the time it was received very well.

WrestleMania 7 – Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena; California: 24/3/91. Hulk Hogan defeated WWE Champion Sgt. Slaughter (C) (with General Adnan) to win the WWE Championship.

Yep HIM again… so a couple of things here; it was gulf war time so WWE decided it a great idea to turn US military-inspired hero Sgt. Slaughter into an IRAQI sympathizer with Saddam lookalike General Adnan by his side to take on Mr USA Hulk Hogan. Originally this event was planned to be in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, with a reported potential attendance to be 100,000. But that didn’t happen; WWE said it was due to potential security threats towards the pro-Iraqi champion, others said it was simply down to WWE not being able to fill the venue. Of course Hogan won, but you knew that already right? It was very much of the time this one, looking back it’s hard to comment on but I guess it fit the time…

WrestleMania 8 – Venue Hoosier Dome; Indianapolis, Indiana: 5/4/92. Hulk Hogan defeated Sid Justice (with Harvey Wippleman) by disqualification

Hulk Hogan (can you believe it?) closed Mania… RANDY SAVAGE vs RIC FLAIR for the WWE Championship was in the middle of the card… You be the judge… So WHY did Hogan go last? Well 1. because he’s Hogan and 2. it was billed as his ‘last match’… in reality he took a hiatus with the upcoming steroid trial of WWE and Vince McMahon on the horizon… he would comeback of course (looking suspiciously less muscular)…

WrestleMania 9 – Caesars Palace; Nevada: 4/4/93. Yokozuna (with Mr Fuji) defeated Bret Hart (C) to win the WWE Championship.

WHAT YOU SAY… NO HULK HOGAN? Yes Royal Rumble winner Yokozuna won the title from Bret Hart after Mr Fuji threw salt in the former champion’s eyes allowing for his man to capitalize. A finish not really Mania main event stuff but…THEN… guess what FUCKING happened… HULK HOGAN came out to complain about what had happened! And in his anger wanting justice he… demanded a match for HIMSELF against Yokozuna for the title immediately (after he had said earlier in the show he wanted to face the winner in the future)… and sure enough TWENTY TWO SECONDS later, after Mr Fuji threw salt aimed for Hogan at Yokozuna it was… once again… HULK HOGAN who closed Wrestlemania as WWE Champion. An ending befitting of (widely regarded as) THE WORST WrestleMania of all time.

WrestleMania 10 – Madison Square Garden; New York City: 20/3/94. Bret Hart defeated Yokozuna (C) (with Mr Fuji and Jim Cornette) to win the WWE Championship – Special Guest Referee: Roddy Piper.

Before we start I’m delighted to tell you that Hulk Hogan WAS NOT on this WrestleMania!!! Let’s in 2019 try to forget that WWE wanted Lex Luger to be Hogan’s replacement and had him jointly win the Royal Rumble with Bret Hart… only to have him lose his title match in the middle of this show by disqualification. Let’s rejoice that a legitimately great wrestler that was loved by the fans won the championship in the main event from a big, bad heel. WWE just about got this one right.

WrestleMania 11 – Hartford Civic Center; Connecticut: 2/4/95. Lawrence Taylor defeated Bam Bam Bigelow (with Ted DiBiase).

Former American Football Star Lawrence Taylor was bought in to headline WWE’s biggest event in a year widely recognized as one of their worst in terms of where their product was at. I guess when you think of that it makes sense to bring in a big star to get mainstream publicity to an event that would’ve probably otherwise seriously flopped. Closing WrestleMania with Champion Diesel (accompanied by Pamela Anderson) defeating Shawn Michaels (accompanied by Jenny McCarthy and… Sid…) sounds… questionable… so maybe they did the best with what they had at the time?

WrestleMania 12 – Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim; California: 31/3/96. Shawn Michaels (with Jose Lothario) defeated Bret Hart (C) in sudden death overtime 1-0 in a 60 Minute Iron Man Match to win the WWE Championship.

ALLLLLLLLLLLL THE YES’ for this one! A year later and WWE was getting back to greatness. A classic between to huge names in the main event of WrestleMania. What a concept!!!…

WrestleMania 13 – Rosemont Horizon; Illinois: 23/3/97. The Undertaker defeated Sycho Sid (C) in a No Disqualification Match to win the WWE Championship.

SYCHO SID IN THE MAIN EVENT OF WRESTLEMANIA? AGAIN??? Well… SOMEBODY lost their smile didn’t they… Well that’s what he said but the non bullshit answer was Shawn Michaels didn’t want to return the favour to Bret Hart, so somehow SID vs Undertaker was the main event… and Bret Hart? Well, he had… a match on this show… that you may want to check out… But as far as the main event goes just blame Shawn Michaels…

WrestleMania 14 – FleetCenter; Boston, Massachusetts: 29/3/98. Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Shawn Michaels (C) to win the WWE Championship – Special Outside Enforcer: Mike Tyson.

Put it this way, around this time I’d presume Jim Ross would have decided he should sell BBQ Sauce, because business was BOOMING! 1998 was the beginning of the biggest era in professional wrestling, and here “The Austin has begun” as JR so rightly said. Just a tonne of good stuff here, it marked the first end of the in-ring career of HBK but it was the start of a new era that would elevate the entire industry to heights it may never reach again.

WrestleMania 15 – First Union Center; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: 28/3/99. Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Rock (C) in a No Disqualification Match to win the WWE Championship – Special Guest Referee: Mankind.

The two biggest stars in the history of the business in the biggest match of the biggest show at the peak of popularity for the business. Enough said.

WrestleMania 16 – Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim; California: 2/4/00. Triple H (C) (with Stephanie McMahon) defeated The Rock (with Vince McMahon), Big Show (with Shane McMahon) and Mick Foley (with Linda McMahon) in a Fatal 4 Way Elimination Match to retain the WWE Championship.

AH YES… ‘A McMahon in every corner’… oh boy… The first time a heel won the main event of WrestleMania and OF COURSE it had to be Triple H didn’t it? WHY OH WHY was this not just Triple H vs The Rock? Instead we got this over-booked shite?! They did what they should’ve done here a month later at Backlash when a returning Steve Austin helped The Rock win the title, yet still in what was the WWE’s most successful year ever they somehow didn’t hit a home run with their biggest match…

WrestleMania 17 – Reliant Astrodome; Houston, Texas: 1/4/01. Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated The Rock (C) in a No Disqualification Match to win the WWE Championship.

The main event of the most critically acclaimed Wrestling event maybe of all time was between the two biggest stars in the history of the business. Austin’s heel turn (and the symbolic end of the Attitude Era) to win the match aside and what happened as a result of that… in the build up? This was EXCEPTIONALLY booked.

WrestleMania 18 – SkyDome; Toronto, Canada: 17/3/02. Triple H defeated Chris Jericho (C) with Stephanie McMahon to win the Undisputed WWE Championship.

When I began this blog I was of the opinion this was the RIGHT call to go last; it was Triple H having returned from injury to win the Rumble winning the title… but now I’m with the majority I admit I was wrong. The story of this match was more between Triple H and Stephanie as THE UNDISPUTED CHAMPION played 3rd wheel… on the same show as a little match between THE ROCK and… HOLLYWOOD HULK HOGAN (Yes, HE’SSSSSSSSSSSS BACKKKKKKKK!!!…) … Icon vs Icon should’ve gone last shouldn’t it? And I don’t think anyone else thinks otherwise.

WrestleMania 19 – Safeco Field; Seattle, Washington: 30/3/03. Brock Lesnar defeated Kurt Angle (C) to win the WWE Championship.

A match remembered for Brock Lesnar’s missed shooting star press closed what was an awesome WrestleMania. In what was the anointment of Lesnar as the top guy on Smackdown it was a pretty big moment, not that Lesnar knew what day of the week it was at the time after nearly paralyzing himself in the match with his botch. Nonetheless this was every bit worthy of the main event spot.

WrestleMania 20 – Madison Square Garden, New York City: 14/3/04. Chris Benoit defeated Triple H (C) and Shawn Michaels to win the World Heavyweight Championship.

For obvious reasons I don’t want to talk too much about this match. I’ll just say it was absolutely fantastic, and the ending led to what was a great feel-good moment at the time.

WrestleMania 21 – Staples Center, Los Angeles, California: 3/4/05. Batista (C) defeated Triple H (C) with Ric Flair to win the World Heavyweight Championship.

At the time this was pretty much WWE crowning Batista as the number 1 guy in the company. On the undercard of this show was John Cena beating JBL for the WWE title, in what was him being crowned as the number 2 guy. Within months in became clear that it was Cena who was number one but at the time having The Animal dethrone The Game to close Mania made total sense.

WrestleMania 22 – Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois: 2/4/06. John Cena (C) defeated Triple H to retain the WWE Championship.

I guess this made sense. Just like 12 months prior Triple H did the job to the number one guy in the company, but it seemed the Illinois crowd was already beginning to very-mildly rebel against Cena as despite Triple H being a heel going in he was cheered by the crowd every time he came close to winning. All things considered though this was fine to go on last.

WrestleMania 23 – Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan: 1/4/07. John Cena (C) defeated Shawn Michaels to retain the WWE Championship.

Much like 12 months prior most wanted HBK to win, most knew Cena would win and didn’t mind… too much… Cena was by far and away the number one guy at this point so it probably made sense going on last (Taker winning the world title from Batista and the Battle of the Billionaire’s aside having both had better and more hyped builds).

WrestleMania 24 – Florida Citrus Bowl, Orlando: 30/3/08. The Undertaker defeated Edge (C) to win the World Heavyweight Championship.

No complaints from me with this one; 2 all-time greats in a good match after a near year-long story between the two… and this wasn’t even the end of it! A fun fact about this is that it was on the same card as Shawn Michaels retiring Ric Flair (I’m going to pretend Ric’s TNA run never happened), Ric was offered the chance for his match to go on last on this show, but he declined stating that the main event match should be about the championship. Ric Flair doesn’t really come across as humble on TV, but this was a very selfless act indeed so good on him.

WrestleMania 25 – Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas: 5/4/09. Triple H (C) defeated Randy Orton to retain the WWE Championship.

Going in to this match given the personal nature of the rivalry it was every bit worthy of the WrestleMania main event, but 2 things killed any chance this match had. Firstly there was the stipulation that if Triple H was counted out or DQ’d he would lose his title, which given the entire story was Triple H trying to get his hands on and decimate Orton really pulled the rug from underneath them here as they were so limited in what they could do. Secondly this match had to follow HBK and Undertaker having one of the best matches in WrestleMania history and John Cena winning the world title , so amazing to think the Mania main event was in a death spot but it was. Also didn’t help the match itself was about as formulaic and frankly boring as you could get and was really a damp squib off the back of the giant build up.

WrestleMania 26 – University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona: 28/3/10. The Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels – No Disqualification ‘Streak vs Career’ Match.

A rematch of the best WrestleMania match in modern times, The legendary undefeated WrestleMania streak of The Undertaker vs the Hall of Fame career of Shawn Michaels, an UNBELIEVABLE build up… need I say more?

WrestleMania 27 – Georgia Dome, Atlanta: 3/4/11. The Miz (C) (with Alex Riley) defeated John Cena to retain the WWE Championship.

Remember at Mania 18 when the champion in the main event was only the 3rd most important person in the story? Well less than a decade later we had the same incredible scenario. The Miz (don’t even get me started on how 2011 Miz, aka 1/10 as good as 2019 Miz, was champion winning the Mania main event… it was a low point in WWE around this time) initially retained his title with a double count out against John Cena, that was until WrestleMania 27’s host The Rock ordered for the match to be restarted with only pinfalls and submissions being decisive. In somewhat of a shocking move Rock cost Cena the match and the championship, and then for good measure Rock Bottomed The Miz to close the show standing tall. Yes WrestleMania closed with neither man in the main event standing tall… but unlike with Hogan some years prior NOBODY cared… because… well it was THE ROCK for crying out loud. This (whilst appearing an odd match to close a WrestleMania with) was all of course the beginning of the build to…

WrestleMania 28 – Sun Life Stadium, Miami Gardens, Florida: 1/4/12. The Rock defeated John Cena.

10 years on from a mammoth match-up of icons involving Dwayne Johnson NOT closing WrestleMania, and much to CM Punk’s (WWE Champion at the time) fury, in The Rock’s hometown of Miami the biggest money-match in recent WrestleMania memory that had a full year of build closed out WrestleMania 28. This edition of the show of shows is remembered for two matches; the ‘end of an era’ HIAC match Taker vs HHH and for this titanic main event. With regards to it closing the show, you’d have to say if Hogan vs Rock should’ve ended Mania 18 then with the same logic this was the right match to close the show especially with it being in Rock’s hometown and with it being the most hyped up match leading to the event by a country mile. Only surprise was the result. In modern wrestling everything with the build and way this was set up tells you John Cena (company face) would be more likely to win against the part-time returning legend right? Well at the time it seems this was generally a shock, but of course nobody really knew this wouldn’t be the last time we’d see The Rock in WWE…

WrestleMania 29 РMetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey: 7/4/13. John Cena defeated The Rock (C) to win the WWE Championship. 

TWICE in a lifetime… yep, naturally given their greed the WWE chose to follow up the biggest money-making match in modern WWE history by… doing it again of course… CM Punk was denied what was a warranted spot in the Mania show closer in favour of Rock v Cena 2… yeah of course Cena won this time but that was blatantly obvious going in. Much to the delight of… hardly anyone tbh…

WrestleMania 30 РMercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana: 6/4/14. Daniel Bryan defeated Randy Orton (C) and Batista to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. 

YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!! EVENTUALLY WWE JUST about got it right for the main event of WrestleMania 30. A brilliant match to rival that of 10 years prior to close the biggest show of the year, lets just be grateful they figured it out in the end because it was very close to being a LOT less well received.

WrestleMania 31 – Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, California: 29/3/15. Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman V Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.¬†

One of the most underrated WrestleMania’s of all time had arguably the most dramatic ending there has ever been, and it was caused by neither man in the advertised main event. Whilst the crowd were totally against the idea of Roman getting his moment here, and were more than behind ‘heel’ Brock Lesnar the match itself was pretty good. And then “who can capitalise?” asked Michael Cole as Lesnar and Reigns lay down exhausted in the ring… enter Mr Money in the Bank SETH ROLLINS! So this was Vince’s idea to please the crowd and put off the Roman coronation a little longer in 2015, considerably better than his plan for 2018 I’d say…

WrestleMania 32 РAT&T Stadium РArlington, Texas: 3/4/16. Roman Reigns defeated Triple H (C) with Stephanie McMahon to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. 

Urgh… not the best of Mania’s was closed with a match people didn’t want to see, because they knew this was the only result that was going to happen. Way too long, felt like a slog at home watching it I can recall. But this was prime Roman Reigns era stuff, and in front of a claimed 100,000 people in attendance and with Seth Rollins out injured, this was WWE once again anointing their new main star on the biggest stage possible… regardless of public opinion… again…

WrestleMania 33 РCamping World Stadium, Orlando, Florida: 2/4/17. Roman Reigns defeated The Undertaker in a No Holds Barred Match. 

3rd time lucky was perhaps WWE with Roman Reigns at WrestleMania… On a show where it wasn’t clear from between 4 or 5 matches on the card what would close the show until the show itself had begun, it was eventually made clear that this epic match-up of icons from different generations would close out WWE’s 2nd WrestleMania in Orlando. And just as he had less than a decade earlier The Undertaker was the final show of this Mania… only not as the victor. Roman won of course, but the ceremonial placing down of his gear and then a theatrical farewell seemed to indicated that we had seen the final match of the legendary Phenom. And with those events after the match in mind, in reality this was the only match that could’ve ended the show. It would’ve made a million times more sense had Taker retired for real that night, but hey… wrestling… maybe in hindsight with his recent outings in mind he should’ve called it a day for real here. But I think we are all liars if we say we didn’t pop HARD when he returned a year later on the grandest stage of all once again.

WrestleMania 34 РMercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana: 8/4/18. Brock Lesnar (C) with Paul Heyman defeated Roman Reigns to retain the Universal Championship. 

In what was, in terms of the live crowd at least, the worst received WrestleMania main event since… the last Roman title match Mania main event… the crowd chanted all sorts of stuff during what was a brutal and stiff match up. Everyone hated both men involved, and everyone in the Superdome payed no attention to the match presuming they’d be seeing Roman get his big win at the end of it… and then he lost… which was very weird (he got his moment 4 months later but still it was and remains an odd case and one of Vince getting cold feet… again…). With regards to it going last once again there were a few matches on the card that could’ve been in that spot, but me personally felt this should end the show, crowd reaction aside, but I of course was under the impression Lesnar was losing and leaving, which neither happened… so this was what it was… not one that will be remembered alongside the main events of 17 or 3 that’s for sure!!!

So as you can see WWE seem to have around a 65-70% success rate with booking their WrestleMania main event booking; so whilst we all want to see Becky Lynch end the show as champion… don’t count on it!!!

Josh.

Becky Lynch: from WWE’s 4th favourite Horsewoman to the Main Event of WrestleMANia

Rebecca Quin (fka Rebecca Knox aka Becky Lynch) got her start in professional wrestling in June 2002 by training at the school opened in her native Ireland by fellow-Irish wrestlers Paul Tracey and a certain Fergal Devitt… whatever happened to him I wonder… She would make her in-ring debut 5 months later. A run in the independent wrestling scene would follow until in September 2006 Quin sustained a serious injury whilst competing in Germany. She would then only compete or even appear in any capacity on any wrestling show on a minimal number of occasions during what was otherwise a hiatus totaling six years.

In April of 2013 Quin was given the new in-ring name of Becky Lynch upon signing with the WWE to be part of their ‘developmental’ brand NXT. Lynch would make her televised in-ring debut in June 2014 in a win over Summer Rae. One week later she would team with Bayley in a tag team match against Sasha Banks and the then NXT Women’s Champion Charlotte… wonder if those 4 women will cross paths again… Across the next few months Becky Lynch would be booked to lose in championship matches to Charlotte on 3 separate occasions. In October of that year Lynch would turn on Bayley in order to align herself with Sasha Banks. However Lynch’s loyalty to Banks would then be repaid by Sasha then double-crossing her back as Banks cost Becky a match against Bayley. The various permutations and conflicts between the 4 top contenders would culminate in a Fatal 4 Way match at NXT Takeover: RIVAL that would see Sasha Banks come out on top against Lynch, Bayley and former champion Charlotte to win the NXT Women’s title. Lynch would go on to earn an opportunity to challenge Banks by winning a triple threat match against Bayley and Charlotte. This would lead to a match that would see Becky lynch challenge champion Sasha Banks for the NXT Women’s Championship at NXT Takeover: Unstoppable. The match itself was widely acclaimed as being a good match but it would see Lynch fail in her first title singles match in WWE.

On the 13th July edition of Monday Night Raw Becky Lynch would make her main roster televised debut. She was brought up alongside both Charlotte and Sasha Banks by Stephanie McMahon as part of the ‘Divas Evolution’. Lynch and Charlotte aligned themselves with Paige to create Team PCB. The trio feuded with the teams of Team Bella (Nikki Bella, Brie Bella and Alicia Fox) and Team BAD (Sasha Banks, Naomi and Tamina). This firstly led to a tag team match between Becky Lynch and Paige against Sasha and Naomi on the 20th July Raw. In her first match on the main roster Becky Lynch was on the losing team. Over the next few weeks the 3 trios would be in a series of singles and tag matches against each other that were booked fairly evenly result wise. It would be finally decided which was the most dominant women’s trio in a 3 way tag team elimination match at Summerslam 2015. The match would finish with Lynch pinning Brie Bella to win her match for her team in what was her PPV debut. Meanwhile Lynch was still a part of the NXT roster and would lose to Bayley on the edition of NXT shown on 12th August 2015 in a match to decide who would challenge NXT Women’s Champion Sasha Banks at NXT Takeover: Brooklyn at the Barclays Center (in what would be the first NXT Takeover to take place away from Full Sail University). Also in a match filmed prior to Takoever: Brooklyn that was then shown as part of the 26th August NXT Lynch would be pinned by Emma in a fatal 4 way match involving Dana Brooke and Charlotte. After the match Charlotte put Dana Brooke in the Figure Eight, while Becky Lynch put Emma in the Dis-arm-her. Nonetheless it would see Lynch lose in what was her final appearance in NXT before she became a part of the main roster full time. Becky Lynch would leave NXT as the only member of group that would go on to be known as the Four Horsewomen to never to be crowned the NXT Women’s Champion and to never be booked to win a match at an NXT Takeover event.

After Charlotte won the Divas Championship Night of Champions 2015, the next night on Raw during her celebrations, Paige turned on both her Team PCB teammates saying Charlotte was only there because of her father and that Lynch was the “least relevant” member of the group. In November Paige pinned Lynch in a fatal 4 way match to earn a shot at Charlotte’s Divas title. Charlotte would retain her title but then on the November 30th Raw she feigned injury to beat her ‘friend’ Lynch. The two would become increasingly at odds and after Becky finally got a win over Charlotte on the January 4th 2016 Raw it was the Divas Champion who attacked The Irishwoman afterwards and finally confirmed her turn on her former friend. Becky Lynch would then get 2 opportunities to challenge Charlotte for the Divas Championship, on an episode of Smackdown and then at the 2016 Royal Rumble PPV. After interference from Charlotte’s father Ric Flair, Lynch was screwed booking wise and therefore lost both of her title challenges.

Following the Royal Rumble PPV in which Sasha Banks made her return to confront champion Charlotte, The Boss teamed with Lynch in a tag team feud with her former teammates Naomi and Tamina. This culminated in a win for Lynch and Banks against the two at the Fastlane 2016 PPV. The following night on Raw a match was set up between Sasha and Becky that ended with a double pin, and a rematch on the following Smackdown was interrupted by Charlotte attacking both, and so a triple threat was made. And so at Wrestlemania 32, in front of 100,000 people in AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas we had Champion Charlotte Vs Sasha Banks Vs Becky Lynch for the newly-created WWE Women’s Championship that was replacing the former Divas Championship. The match itself was excellent, but of course Lynch tapped out to Charlotte. Although for once I can say this was maybe the right finish, as Banks was crazy-over and Charlotte was the one they wanted to be the big star, but once again Lynch was the after-thought in WWE’s eyes anyway.

With Charlotte as champion now and with Dana Brooke now by her side, Natalya was set up as her next challenger. At the Money In The Bank PPV in June 2016 Charlotte and Dana Brooke beat Natalya and Becky in a tag match where Charlotte pinned Natalya. Lynch comforted her beaten partner afterwards, but then Natalya turned on her for seemingly no reason. The two feuded after that ended when Natalya beat Lynch at Battleground the next month and the last PPV before the 2016 draft was bought into effect and Lynch made Smackdown her permanent WWE home. Becky was the first female drafted to Smackdown and started her stay on the blue brand well by beating Natalya in their rematch, but then was on the losing team in a 6 woman’s tag match at Summerslam when a returning Nikki Bella won the match for her team with Alexa Bliss and Natalya against Carmella, Naomi and Lynch. BUT… FINALLY… AT LONG LAST… Becky Lynch got her moment… On September 11th 2016; on the same glorious night that AJ Styles won his first WWE Championship; Becky Lynch won a six-pack elimination challenge to become the first Smackdown Women’s Champion! She then successfully defended the title against Alexa Bliss before she was the final woman eliminated in the Women’s Smackdown vs Raw 5-on-5 Survivor Series elimination match… because Team Raw’s women had to win… yes, as you might be able to figure out… Becky was a 2nd fiddle again… she was women’s champion yes, but on the B show, meanwhile over on Raw Charlotte and Sasha were feuding for their Women’s title and main eventing PPVs… sigh… ANYWAY Lynch’s glory wouldn’t last long as she lost the title to Alexa Bliss at the TLC ppv at the close of 2016. The finish in the tables match was… well… it was clunky and came out of nowhere. Lynch was champion for 84 days. At this stage Bayley had held championships for a combined 223 days, Sasha for 263 and Charlotte for 639! … just for context…

Becky (who masked herself as ‘La Luchadora’) beat Bliss in a non-title match to earn her rematch which she got on the January 17th Smackdown. In what was a Steel Cage Match Becky Lynch lost after interference from another ‘La Luchadora’ revealed herself as Mickie James. Becky’s next championship opportunity would come on the 22nd February Smackdown where she would face Alexa Bliss after Naomi had to vacate the title. Lynch lost after Bliss pinned her with a serious hold on her tights. Becky went on to take part in the six-pack challenge for the championship at Wrestlemania 33, in which former champion Naomi regained the title. The next month after in May, the superstar shakeup bought Charlotte Flair to Smackdown and this led to Lynch teaming with Flair and Naomi against ‘The Welcoming Committee’: Natalya, Carmella and Tamina. This led to a 6 woman’s tag match at Backlash. Natalya submitted Becky Lynch with the Sharpshooter to win the match for her team. Lynch went on to compete the next month in the first ever Women’s Money in the Bank ladder match. It was won by Carmella after Lynch looked to be climbing the ladder and retrieve the briefcase but JAMES ELLSWORTH (Carmella’s manager) pushed the ladder down and dropped the briefcase to Carmella to give her the win. After the controversial finish a rematch was ordered, which Carmella won again. At the Battleground PPV there was a fatal five-way elimination match to determine who would face Naomi for the SmackDown Women’s Championship at Summerslam. The match featured Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Tamina, Natalya and Lana. Lynch scored the first elimination by making Tamina tap out to the Dis-Arm-Her, then did the same to Lana immediately afterwards, but then was pinned by Natalya who rolled Lynch up and held her tights whilst getting the elimination. Becky Lynch then took no part in either the Summerslam or Hell In A Cell PPVs. Towards the end of October Becky won a 5 way match between herself, Charlotte Flair, Naomi, Tamina and Carmella to become the Team Captain for the Smackdown women’s team at the upcoming Survivor Series. She also defeated JAMES ELLSWORTH in a match on the Smackdown in the UK to end his first WWE run. She also was a part of the various invasions of Smackdown to Raw as the brand rivalry built towards the PPV… and then in the women’s match… Becky Lynch as team captain was the first competitor eliminated and her team lost. Towards the end of 2017 Lynch was alongside Charlotte and Naomi in combating the newly-debuted ‘Riott Squad’ (Ruby Riott, Sarah Logan and Liv Morgan)… but in 2017 Becky Lynch did A LOT of not winning and where she did win it either A. didn’t mean much of anything long term or B. wasn’t made a big deal of or she had to do the job back not long after. Becky continued to play 2nd fiddle.

Lynch was part of history when she took part in the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble Match in 2018. This also marked the first time women closed a big 4 PPV. Becky entered at Number 2 and lasted over half an hour, eliminating Lita (not a full time superstar) and Vickie Guerrero (one of 4 that eliminated her) before she was eliminated by Ruby Riott. She then had a mixed bag of results on the early Smackdown of the year before she teamed with Naomi to take on Carmella and Natalya in a tag team match at Fastlane. Of course they lost and of course Becky got pinned after she was distracted by Natalya with Mella’s MITB case and then Carmella superkicked her for the pin. She had another mixed bag of results ahead of taking part in the Women’s Battle Royal on the kick off show of Wrestlemania 34. She didn’t win of course, was eliminated by Mickie James and she wasn’t really one of the key player sin the story of the multi-woman match. Meanwhile Bayley and Sasha were in the final 3 and Charlotte got a big singles win on the main show to retain her title. Following Wrestlemania Becky teamed with Asuka in a loss to The IIconics (yes, indeed ASUKA and Becky Lynch lost to THE IICONICS…) , was on the winning team in a 6 woman’s tag, and then… despite having her friend Sonya Deville barred from ringside… Mandy Rose (in her Smackdown singles match debut) pinned Becky in less than 3 minutes… Lynch though kind of recovered by winning a triple threat match against Deville and Rose to qualify for the Women’s MITB Ladder Match. Her momentum continued the next week when she beat Charlotte clean. She helped Charlotte back to her feet after in a sign of mutual respect heading in to the PPV. The next week Becky was on the winning team heading in to the PPV in a 10 woman tag match that saw Asuka, Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair, Lana & Naomi beat the team of Billie Kay, Carmella, Mandy Rose, Peyton Royce & Sonya Deville. It was Alexa Bliss who won the Women’s MITB match in a very entertaining match…

and then… IT ALL BEGAN TO CHANGE!!!

Becky Lynch quietly began to build a winning streak, with Smackdown TV wins over Billie Kay, Sonya Deville, Peyton Royce, Mandy Rose and the then Smackdown Women’s Champion Carmella as well as wins in tag team matches alongside Charlotte against The IIconics and then Rose and Deville. This led up to Summerslam where it was supposed to be Lynch one on one with Carmella for the title, but… somehow… Charlotte Flair managed to big-time her way into it and it was suddenly a triple threat match. Going in to the event it seemed the level of support behind Lynch was higher than it ever had been, with the general consensus being that she had earned her time in the spotlight as well as an appreciation for her recent winning run. And so we went to the Barclays Center with ALL the momentum behind Becky Lynch… AND… Charlotte Flair pinned Lynch after a Natural Selection to win the title. And so with Flair now champion she was face-to-face with Becky in the ring… and after initially showing respect for her friend Becky then “turned heel” by attacking the new title holder, reducing her to tears. The crowd went wild for this as they finally got to see the side of Becky they had always wanted. One that didn’t stand for being 2nd best anymore. On the next week’s Smackdown Lynch blamed the crowd and the fans for her position, saying that they weren’t really supporting her the whole time and that she was being denied opportunities which were always being handed to Charlotte Flair. Everyone in the aftermath was confused; we had never not supported Lynch, she had fastly become one of the most popular women on the roster, but unlike previous when WWE would blindly turn a character face/heel regardless of what the fans wanted they very quickly edited the version of Lynch’s promo were she went in on the fans and thus it was never referred to again. She was still a heel (for now) but they’d already after one promo toned it down and changed course slightly. Feeling robbed of her championship opportunity Becky got her singles match with Charlotte at the Hell in a Cell PPV. And for the first time on PPV Becky Lynch pinned Charlotte Flair. Becky Lynch was the new Smackdown Women’s Champion! The crowd were ecstatic, and after the match Lynch defiantly shunned the handshake offered by Charlotte much to the delight of the fans. Lynch continued to stand up for herself in the face of the previously all-conquering Charlotte and managed to keep her title in two title defenses; losing by DQ at the show in Australia and keeping her belt again via a double count-out on the October 9th Smackdown in which the title could’ve changed hands was Lynch to get DQ’d again. And so we then looked towards the first ever all women’s WWE PPV; Evolution. Becky Lynch as the huge crowd favourite by now against Charlotte Flair (who probably got the biggest heel reaction of the show) in a Last Woman Standing Match. Lynch won what was an all-time classic women’s match, widely regarded as being excellent, to retain her title. On a night when all eyes were on the women of WWE… THE MAN was born!

With her moniker of being THE MAN now in full swing, Lynch was the hottest star in the company. THE MAN doesn’t take no for an answer, THE MAN doesn’t take shit from anyone, THE MAN doesn’t try and grab the brass ring, THE MAN rips that brass ring down and beats people up with it. And THE MAN was due to lead the Smackdown Women’s division in to Survivor Series for the now annual set of matches against Raw. Lynch was scheduled as Smackdown Women’s Champion to take on Raw’s Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey. The match was being spoken about in such high terms that many even thought it would close the show, such was Rousey and more so actually Lynch’s popularity at the time. On the 12th November episode of Raw, the final one before Survivor Series, Lynch led the Smackdown women’s division in to an invasion and attack on the Raw women’s locker room. Lynch had Rousey in a Dis-Arm-Her as the rest of the women brawled in the ring before Lynch and then Rousey joined in an all out brawl. Lynch and the Smackdown women then retreated and Lynch stood in the stands with the fans with a bloodied yet defiant reaction in what has now become an iconic image. The bloodied face was as the result of a stray punch by Nia Jax during the melee, that actually caused Becky to suffer a broken nose and a concussion. Rumours swirled the internet in the following hours, and then on the next night’s Smackdown it was confirmed Lynch was hurt and would be unable to face Ronda Rousey at Survivor Series. On the eve of the biggest and most hyped match of her career, Lynch was out. Lynch chose Charlotte as her replacement and her and Rousey had a great match that ended with Flair delivering a beatdown to Ronda with a Kendo Stick for the DQ.

People have begun to compare Becky’s current THE MAN run to Stone Cole Steve Austin. Well if Lynch is Stone Cold then this was her Summerslam 1997-Owen Hart-Tombstone-neck injury moment. A blessing in disguise if there ever was one.

THE MAN returned on the 27th November Smackdown and received a thunderous welcome “and I heard as it were the noise of thunder, the man has come back around” Corey Graves on commentary quipped. She was not long after interrupted by Charlotte and after the two went back and forth General Manager Paige later in the show made a Battle Royal to see who would join the two of them in the title match at the next PPV. The Battle Royal was won by Asuka and so the match was set to be a triple threat Tables, Ladders and Chairs match, a first for women in WWE. The next week the three women took part in a contract signing for the match, before being interrupted by Mandy Rose & Sonya Deville that led to Asuka and Charlotte teamming in a tag match against the two with THE MAN watching on from ringside, which after a mix up between the two title challengers led to Deville pinning Charlotte. The animosity continued on the go-home show when after a match between Asuka and Charlotte ended when Flair attacked her opponent with a Kendo Stick and then Becky (who was on commentary) joined in the brawl, concluding with Asuka standing tall after hitting both The Queen and THE MAN with the Kendo Stick multiple times. At the show (Lynch also had a backstage segment where she got one back on Nia by dropping her after Jax had lost her match on the show) the match went on last, as it should have as it was by far the most hyped match going in, and it was excellent. These 3 women tore the house down and brutalized eachother. It reached a krushendo when Lynch and Flair were both a-top a ladder, and then Ronda Rousey (whom of course had beef with them both with Flair’s attack on her following their Survivor Series match and Lynch who had her in the Dis-Arm-her during the Raw invasion) ran out and pushed the ladder down knocking both women off. This then allowed for Asuka to grab the title and become the new Smackdown Women’s Champion, ending Lynch’s 2nd reign at 91 days. Lynch closed the year with a segment on the next Smackdown where she was angry Ronda cost her her title, and then the next week she teamed with John Cena winning against Andrade and Zelina Vega, with Lynch getting one up over Cena in probably the highest pedestal you could get. despite ending the year without a title Becky Lynch probably had her bust full year in WWE so far…

Becky began 2019 by winning a triple threat match against Charlotte and Carmella to earn her re-match against Asuka. This was odd as the match was confirmed previously, but they played it off storyline-wise by having former GM Paige say she tried to make the match before she left her position but it was turned down. In reality it was down to a communication era between different departments in the WWE, nonetheless the match was made and happened anyway. Lynch also tapped out Peyton Royce heading towards the Royal Rumble PPV… And then… the 2019 Royal Rumble happened… Asuka as champion defending against Lynch opened the main show of the PPV. I thought it was a really good match, with the crowd cheering Becky hugely. But in the end Lynch tapped out… in a PPV opener where she was the most popular person on the card, Becky Lynch lost clean in the first match of the show.¬†

But… BECKY’S NIGHT WAS NOT OVER YET!!!

During the Women’s Royal Rumble Match Lana entered at number 28… but she didn’t. On the kick off show Lana had been hurt during her Husband Rusev’s match and when she came out here she was really hobbling and looked very upset due to the pain. Medics and officials saw to her as the match went on, and then the crowd suddenly exploded… Becky Lynch came marching out demanding to WWE official, and fellow Irishman, Fit Finlay that she be allowed to enter the match as a replacement for the injured Lana. After a back-and-forth Finlay eventually agreed and let Lynch enter as the crowd went crazy. THE MAN was in the Royal Rumble Match! After match had very much… struggled… up to that point Lynch seemed to breathe new life into it as the crowd were near non-stop invested and cheering for Becky. In the end Lynch through out her rival Nia Jax and lastly her former best friend Charlotte Flair to win the 2nd Women’s Royal Rumble Match. WWE finally did it, their fans wanted something to happen and they did it. THE MAN was going to WrestleMANia!!!

Well… she was going, then she wasn’t, now she is again. It was Becky Lynch Vs Ronda Rousey, then it was Charlotte Flair Vs Ronda Rousey, and then now we finally have the match (the match that was always the plan all along by the way regardless of what was happening on TV); THE MAN Becky Lynch Vs The Queen Charlotte Flair Vs the Raw Women’s Champion Rowdy Ronda Rousey, in what will be the main event. The road to WrestleMANia has been… interesting if not weird at times. In fact it appears only the two top matches were planned to be on the card any significant time in advance. Yes in 2019 we have the incredible set of circumstances that has seen WRESTLEMANIA be pretty much thrown together you could say. But lets just rejoice that THE MAN is in the match we all wanted… well some people are pissed that Charlotte is involved but not me. Ronda is probably leaving afterwards right? So really it benefits WWE two-fold to be able to say they have TWO women who ere in the first female main event of Wrestlemanai that one right? And you can’t tell me CHARLOTTE FLAIR is going to take down the match’s quality AT ALL, the best female performer in WWE history in my opinion. Of course it’s all good me saying this and that it’ll all be fine, but I hope WWE have learnt form the past how much damage could be done here. We’re at the point now where I think to the live crowd in MetLife Stadium and to everyone watching around the world just waiting to tweet all their hate to WWE; if Becky Lynch doesn’t end Wrestlemania as the Raw Women’s Champion A LOT and probably a huge majority of people will be furious!!! Come one WWE, you buried Becky enough in her first few years in the company up until last summer. Now she’s on the best run any female in your company may ever have had, DO NOT fuck this up now when she is on the verge of immortality. You can only do something for the first time once, so lets make sure the first time is done RIGHT!

WWE; you have been warned! Becky Lynch MUST win the Raw Women’s Championship at WrestleMANia.

Josh.

Top 10 Wrestlemania Openers

So it seems obvious but you would think WWE or any other wrestling company would want to start their biggest show off with a bang. And whilst the early Mania opening matches may not have set the world on fire, more so in recent years the 1st match of the Wrestlemania main cards have been pretty good. So I hope in this blog I will make sure you don’t use the first match of the show for your bathroom break, because chances are you could miss a classic, so in this blog I’ll be counting down the top 10 Wrestlemania (main card) opening matches EVER!!!

10. Wrestlemania 27: World Heavyweight Championship = Edge (C) defeated Alberto Del Rio to retain

Everyone who knows me and is also a wrestling fan knows of my pure disdain for Alberto. But he was in there with one of my all time favorites, and he was probably at the peak of his career having just won the Royal Rumble a few months previous, but this match was fine, yes, but it will forever be remembered as being the final match in a Hall of Fame career of the former Rated R Superstar. Due to his health problems and with the threat of a life in a wheelchair a very real possibility should he continue to compete, Edge announced his relinquishment of his world title and his immediate retirement some days later. So if you’re going to watch this back whilst the match itself was just OK, feel good in that one of the all time greats went out on top; he had his final match ever successfully defending the world title in the opening match of Wrestlemania. Lovely.

***

9. Wrestlemania 9: Intercontinental Championship = Tatanka defeated Shawn Michaels (C) by Count-out

Another match that whilst as a standalone is just fine, this was the opening match famous for… opening what was widely recognized as THE WORST Wrestlemania of all time (DO NOT WATCH THE REST OF THIS SHOW AT ALL)! So going in here Tatanka had an undefeated streak going and had pinned HBK twice leading up to their big Mania title match. They also had the personal aspect with Sensational Sherri (Michaels’ former manager) was now in Tatanka’s corner, and as such Michaels was accompanied to the ring for this match by Luna Vachon instead to counteract her. Admittedly the finish here was a bit screwy, but I guess they wanted to keep everything as it was (HBK as IC Champion and Tatanka unbeaten). Nonetheless it was an entertaining enough contest to open a… well, frankly an abysmal show.

***

8. Wrestlemania 25: Money In The Bank Ladder Match = CM Punk defeated Christian & Kofi Kingston & Kane & MVP & Mark Henry with Tony Atlas & Shelton Benjamin & Finlay with Hornswoggle

This maybe wasn’t the best MITB ladder match, or even the best ladder match on this list, but it was very very fun to watch. Action packed as you would expect and without being as star studded as other MITB matches the story of a now heel CM Punk winning for the 2nd year in a row was a fun one to see unfold. I vaguely recall at the time thinking Punk would win but hoping either Kingston or Christian would. But when you look at the line up here there’s a number of very dependable WWE names and for Punk to be put over those guys was perhaps a prelude for what was to come for him in WWE.

***1/2

7. Wrestlemania 21: WWE Tag Team Champion Rey Mysterio defeated WWE Tag Team Champion Eddie Guerrero

Right OK BEFORE you go crazy at me let me state that this was not the best Rey vs Eddie match ever, it was not in a spot where it could be. The story was Eddie wanted to prove he was better than his fellow tag team champion, but he couldn’t. It falls right in the middle of Eddie’s two main event runs, and sadly of course it would be his last Mania match… but then at least he finished with a match against his good friend. Rey of course was twelve months away from super-stardom but as a pure wrestling match this was tremendous. it went pretty much 12 minutes and ended with a hand shake, but for as long as this was going on this was wrestling at its finest… shocking I know that EDDIE GUERERRO and Rey Mysterio had a good match… Had it not been on the same show as Angle vs Michaels (maybe THE best Mania match of all time) and maiden world title wins for Cena and Batista perhaps people would talk about this more…

***3/4

6. Wrestlemania 33: AJ Styles defeated Shane McMahon

YES I have indeed put a SHANE MCMAHON match higher on this list than Eddie vs Rey… but look at who was in there with him… it makes sense now right? People groaned so much that after one of the best debut years in WWE history AJ Styles payoff was a Mania match with SHANE MCMAHON… but here we saw the brilliance of AJ Styles. He got Shane to a GREAT Wrestlemania match, SOMEHOW! I remember even the crowd watching on getting more and more into it, seemingly out of shock at how good this match was. AJ won, he had to win, he always was going to, but this was so much better than it had any right to be. The mutual respect this match made the two of them feel for one another after led to a Styles face turn and eventually to his record breaking WWE Title run, but nothing in WWE should show how brilliant AJ Styles is than the fact he dragged SHANE MCMAHON to a GREAT match on the grandest stage of them all.

****

5. Wrestlemania 34: Intercontinental Championship = Seth Rollins defeated The Miz (C) & Finn Balor to become the new Intercontinental Champion

Last year’s show opener was great. Admittedly Miz took it down a tad compared to the Balor vs Rollins singles matches that happened around this time but it was still really good. This marked the 6th time an Intercontinental Championship match had opened Mania and it was amongst the very best. Balor and Rollins were great in ring, Miz did his bit too, but the winner of this match more than deserved it as Rollins produced a typical display for his 2018 (aka exceptionally good) to win the IC Title and complete his own WWE Grand Slam. Super fun to watch, and a great babyface pop to open the biggest show of the year, great stuff.

****

4. Wrestlemania 23: Money In The Bank Ladder Match = Mr Kennedy defeated Jeff Hardy & Matt Hardy & Edge & Randy Orton & CM Punk & Finlay with Hornswoggle & King Booker with Queen Sharmell 

THIS MATCH RULED! Had just about everything you could possibly get in a ladder match, and looking at who was in it it was hardly a surprise it was so good. Sadly for the winner of this match Mr Kennedy will go down in history as the only MITB winner to never actually cash in, in what was somewhat of a reflection on his WWE career as a whole when you think about it. But yes this match was awesome. 4th is probably a tad harsh for this list and I was unsure of if to put it 3rd or 4th for a while but this was really fun to watch. Only minor negative and bit I didn’t enjoy revolve around Jeff Hardy; I recall watching at the time at home aged 11 really wanting Jeff to win… and he didn’t… and then his bump off the ladder to practically MURDER Edge was just as bad as I remember it being… so for those nit-picking points I rank it as the 4th best Mania opener…. which out of 34 isn’t all that bad really.

****1/4 

3. Wrestlemania 31: Intercontinental Championship =  Daniel Bryan defeated Bad News Barrett (C) & Dean Ambrose & Dolph Ziggler & Stardust & Luke Harper & R-Truth to become the new Intercontinental Champion

From watching this match live on my Mum’s tablet I recall two things: being really happy when Daniel Bryan won, and seeing Dean Ambrose kill himself almost at ringside (so much so he had to have his head STAPLED mid match). Watching it back I can confirm it was really really good and better than I remembered. Not to say I didn’t have fond memories of it I just recall it being… a match… but this was a great ladder match. You had guys of all different styles in here and it made for a really fun mix. And after ending Mania the year before Daniel Bryan was the curtain opener 12 months later (STILL the most popular guy on the show by the way, don’t even get me started on why he wasn’t in the main event again), but at least Bryan won and this made him a grand slam champion and everyone watching very happy; me included!

****1/4 

2. Wrestlemania 30: Winner enters the WWE World Heavyweight Championship Match = Daniel Bryan defeated Triple H with Stephanie McMahon 

I ADORE this match. I had assumed when I had the idea for this list that this match would be number one but… well more on that in a short while… anyway yes where do I start with this? Preceded by the now-legendary video package of Daniel Bryan to the Imagine Dragons song ‘Monster’, Triple H’s grand entrance featuring cameos from 3 NXT female superstars who would all go on to do pretty well for themselves, and then the match itself began… and it was excellent. Daniel Bryan as just the best babyface you could get and Triple H with help from Stephanie as just the best heel act for Bryan to play off against. Crowd of course completely bought in to it during what was a great match where both men got all their spots in, and Triple H may well have had his best Wrestlemania match against a man who wasn’t even supposed to face him nor be in the main event later that night. Watch this match as soon as you can, it kicked off what would go on to be one of the most historic Wrestlemania’s of all time and possibly the most famous night in the history of the WWE. And it all began with a genuine CLASSIC!

****3/4 

1- Wrestlemania 10: Owen Hart defeated Bret Hart 

Anyone who knows me and knows wrestling knows I’m not the biggest Bret Hart fan, but even I Have to admit the greatness of this match. I realise now that the top two matches on this list feature men who would go on to compete and win the Championship in the main event that same night, only this night the would-be WWE Champion lost. So in 1994 they did the double winner of the Royal Rumble so eventually both Bret and Lex Luger got a shot at champion Yokozuna’s title, but meanwhile Owen Hart’s jealousy of his brother had reached a boiling point and so Bret had two matches in one Mania. And this match was Exceptional. Just the best wrestling you’re going to see; it was pretty even early on as Owen bragged and Bret stood firm, they exchanged all their key moves until a Bret injury to his knee was capitalized on by Owen performing a figure four leg lock until Bret could recover and give his receipts. The finish as well was great as Owen locked in the Sharpshooter on Bret, and then that was reversed so Bret had the Sharpshooter locked in, Bret then tried a Victory Roll pinfall attempt but Owen counter that and got the pin himself for the win. In terms of pure mat and technical wrestling you’ll struggle to see many better matches that this. People always talk about Owen Hart being so great and to be honest I haven’t seen all that much of his work, but as good as Bret Hart is Owen stayed with him every step of the way in this match. It was really great.

****3/4 

So if this blog teaches you anything I hope it’s you don’t sleep on the Mania opener!!!

Josh.