WRESTLEMANIA 35 Review

WrestleMania 35 was an odd one. I think it tried so hard to be one of the best WrestleMania shows of all time and if you see the results of the show on paper you may look at it and consider it up there. And for sure it certainly had moments that were of the GOAT level, but there were a few things on this show that just left me with a tad sense of dissatisfaction. Kofi’s win felt huge watching, Seth’s big but the sheer insanity of it being FIRST on the main card I think caught us all off guard… which thinking back now not long after the show finished is a sad ironic thing to say when it comes to the main event. The moment that should have been one of the biggest in all of pro wrestling history was less of a grand finale and incredible moment, and more of a WTF moment. And for the main event of WrestleMania, particularly THIS of all years, to finish with a surprise winning moment did not feel right at all. It didn’t allow for us to explode as everyone wanted to. They dropped the ball on the finish but I guess at least we got the 3 main things I’d say the large majority of the watching fans wanted; Seth then Kofi then Becky ALL winning championships.

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The pre show had your usual mix of the panel talking about the upcoming main show matches, we had so many different people on this panel that changed personnel fairly regularly throughout as well as them cutting to various people around the stadium that talked up various aspects of the show. We also had FOUR matches as opposed to the advertised 3, although given which one the “bumped down” pre show match was it kind of made sense.

Tony Nese defeated Buddy Murphy to win the Cruserweight Championship

The general consensus with the people I was with was that Murphy had no challengers left as he’d beaten everyone else, yet none of us had Nese to win… it was a good match but way shorter than the 205 Live guys usually get, which on of all the shows was most disappointing. Murphy hit his finish but Nese got his leg on the ropes, and Nese won with the running knees to the corner.

***1/2

Carmella won the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal

This had basically everyone from the main roster of the women that wasn’t on the main card aside from Alicia Fox. We also had Kairi Sane and Candice LeRae from NXT. Kairi did have significant moments in the match but you easily could have missed that Candice was a part of it which was a little sad. There was no Lacey Evans in the match either, but there was the return of Ember Moon from injury. People we’re son angry in the arena when Lana of all people got rid of Ember. Dana Brooke also was very over. The finish saw a final 3 of Sonya Deville, Sarah Logan and pre-match favourite Asuka. Eventually and very surprisingly it was Logan who outlasted the others… only for (in what was essentially the repeat finish from last year with Bayley and Naomi) Carmella to reappear having never been eliminated. She eventually super kicked Logan to the floor below for the win. This was… a battle royal…but better than I thought which in all honesty my expectations were very low

**1/4

Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins defeated The Revival (Scott Dawson & Dash Wilder) to win the Raw Tag Team Championship

The match itself was fairly good in parts but as I called in my blog, as a result of them basically missing or forgetting to do the entire build to this match, the match as it was going on didn’t have half as much heat as it could and maybe should have had. The finish did get a decent pop with Hawkins finally ending his long losing streak with a roll up pin. I’d presume they’ll lose the titles fairly soon possibly right back to The Revival on Raw it maybe even a new team from NXT or a team that comes to Raw in the Superstar shake-up next week.

***

Braun Strowman won the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal

This was decent in ring but just showed how many people WWE have and yet they still can’t fit everyone on a show with a crazy number of matches. Strength in depth maybe? Lack of direction for most? You decide… anyway of course the two SNL guys hid from Braun pretty much right away and for the entire match almost. Until Braun was the last man standing so they both reappeared and tried to throw him out. After plenty of teases that the impossible was going to happen including it seeming to be down to just Braun and Matt and Jeff Hardy as Colin Jost and Michael Che hid, and also one of them introducing to the ring a guy which he claimed was his therapist (which was funny). Braun chucked them both out. I guess it was fairly sound logic the biggest name should win here, but by that logic why didn’t Asuka win the women’s? Good accolade for world-championship shy Braun I suppose…

**1/2

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The main show began with the anthem being sung, a pretty great WrestleMania video package being played before finally our host for the evening Alexa Bliss came out. She finished by saying she could have a WrestleMania moment at the click of her fingers… so she clicked her fingers and out came HULK HOGAN! I’m not a Hogan guy myself but seeing him at Mania again was kind of cool and the live crowd loved him. He made fun at himself for getting the stadium name famously wrong at Mania 30, and did his usual Hogan speech and then posed with Bliss.

As the two were posing out came Paul Heyman marching to the ring (I hear this was a very very very very late change as this next match was not planned to go first until literally the show began…hmm…). He got in and grabbed a mic and basically said if Lesnar wasn’t in the main event he wanted to be out of here fast, and to be able to go to Las Vegas where he is appreciated (Las Vegas is essentially the home of the UFC so I’m sure that wasn’t coincidental). So Lesnar came out followed by Rollins and we had the Universal Championship match IN THE OPENING MATCH of the WrestleMania 35 main show!

Seth Rollins defeated Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman to win the Universal Championship

If you could have booked this match however you wanted you probably couldn’t have done it better than this. Brock beat down Seth around the ringside area before the bell had even rung, tossed him in the ring then out again, did a few suplexes as the match properly got underway, the ref took a bump as Lesnar went for an F5, Rollins hit a low blow, a superkick, THREE Stomps and pinned Lesnar in about 2 1/2 minutes. Seth Rollins pinned Brock Lesnar to win the title in the first match on the card. Just let that sink in. Crowd loved all of this. ***** for the booking, but of course the match itself was only a few minutes.

**3/4

AJ Styles defeated Randy Orton

Jerry Lawler came out to join commentary for this one. Styles won clean with a Phenomenal Forearm. It was fine as a match but I was expecting a little better. Both did most their big moves, Orton even hit an RKO but it was not enough to win. Good for AJ to get a big win, be interested to see what both these do going forward. Could see this being the first in a series. This was deliberately wrestled at a slower pace it seemed which makes me think they’ll wrestle each other again.

***1/4

Lacey Evans came out. Then she left again… I don’t know anymore either…

The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) defeated Rusev with Lana & Shinsuke Nakamura, The Bar (Sheamus & Cesaro) and Ricochet & Aleister Black to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championship

This was pretty good and really fast paced. Was amazingly cool to see Black and Ricochet compete on this stage. Most memorable spot of the match was Cesaro doing his swing on Ricochet for an absurd amount of time whilst Sheamus was hitting everyone else with his forearm smashes he does. A close 2nd was everyone in a big tower of doom when they all were part of a duplex off the top yet Ricochet nearly landed on his feet and it was crazy how he even came close to landing on his feet. Finish came with basically everyone hitting their finish on one another before being thrown out, until finally the Usos did a double splash combo move on Sheamus.

****

They introduced the Hall of Fame class with DX coming out last. This was really cool.

Shane McMahon defeated The Miz in a Falls Count Anywhere Match

This was really what you’d expect for better or more so worse. They brawled for the whole match and went right into the crowd area as they did it. Miz’s Dad got in the ring and went at it with Shane at one stage which was… a sight… and also Shane went to do the elbow through the announce table to Miz but George Mizanin got in the way leading to their… erm… fight… The finish came when they were in the crowd area on top of a platform, Miz superplexed Shane off it and they both fell onto the floor (crash pad but shush it’s wrestling). Bizarrely it was Shane who put himself over Miz for the pin fall. Shane’s punches again where beyond belief bad. God knows what they’ll do with Miz or even Shane now…

**1/4

The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) defeated The Boss ‘N’ Hug Connection (Sasha Banks & Bayley) (C) , Nia Jax & Tamina and Natalya & Beth Phoenix to win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

Paige did guest commentary. This wasn’t of the level or even close to the men’s 4 way tag match. But this surprised me not one bit. Beth and Natalya came out dressed like the Hart Foundation and Bret even joined them on the stage which for a giant pop. Beth Phoenix looked decent in-ring considering, and the finish saw her hit the Glam Slam on Bayley off the turnbuckle before The IIconics threw her out and Billie Kay got the pin. They were both very emotional at the win. People watching seemed happy enough despite one of the heel teams winning. But this was not good.

**

Kofi Kingston with Big E & Xavier Woods defeated Daniel Bryan with Rowan to win the WWE Championship

Remember when I said Rollins vs Lesnar was everything we could have wanted in our dreams? This was the same. Kofi was a megastar to everyone watching, Bryan was hated. The match was really really good and by a mile match of the night. Everything has so much heat behind it as you’d expect. The finish was great too, with Kofi escaping from Bryan’s submission and beating him down before hitting Trouble in Paradise for the win. This got the reaction you’d expect… which was extremely loud. New Day unveiled the new title belt after… which was the old title belt before Bryan’s eco friendly one. Kofi had his kids in the ring as they, Big E and Woods celebrated. This really was everything we wanted. A really great match and a proper all-time amazing moment at the end. I don’t want to talk about this but it happened… basically Big E revealed some new t shirts to commemorate Kofi being champion… it turns out WWE were already advertising them online as the match was still going on. So to those who saw it WWE spoiled one of the biggest matches on their biggest show. I personally didn’t see it so if a Tree falls and nobody hears it, does it still make a sound? I’ll leave that with you… nonetheless… Kofi Kingston is the WWE Champion. What a time to be alive. The afters of this match honestly were incredible, and if you watched NXT Takeover you saw an all time great aftermath of a match with the Main event. This will go down in history amongst the best feel good Mania moments of all time. Daniel Bryan was exceptional as always in this match but this was all about Kofi. Superb stuff.

****3/4

The two SNL guys were backstage with Alexa Bliss. Suddenly Kevin Nash and Scott Hall appeared as doctors ready to give them a Prostate check. This was so weird.

Samoa Joe defeated Rey Mysterio to retain the United States Championship

Joe won a complete squash after Rey hit a 619 but Joe caught him off the Senton with the Coquina Clutch and eventually the ref checked Mysterio and called it off. Just under 1 minute. I’d presume Rey wasn’t fully healed after all then? There was nothing to do with Dominic Rey’s son who had appeared on tv recently. Massive boost for Joe mind you given it was his Mania debut. Booker T was guest commentator.

N/A

Roman Reigns defeated Drew McIntyre

This was very underwhelming. McIntyre was played out by a band and Roman had so much fireworks as he came out it was crazy. Drew looked like a monster in the match, Roman didn’t look as good in the ring as he did with The Shield at Fastlane. Drew battered Roman at various points. Roman won after a Superman Punch and a Spear. Crowd was kind of flat and clearly still worn out emotionally from the Kofi stuff. Reigns hid his face after the win and was very emotional. When you think about it this HAD to be the result of this match. Amazing that during a WrestleMania match nobody really cared good or bad for Roman, so much so a Mexican Wave was going on in the upper decks. It wasn’t Roman being booed it was people boing the end of the wave. Christ.

**3/4

Then came one of the best parts of the show. And If I began by saying it was the Elias segment you will be shocked right? So Elias does this thing where he appears on the big screen playing drums, then a second one of him playing base, then he was in the ring for real doing his usual thing. Suddenly a film on Babe Ruth played… he’s the GOAT in baseball so we really if you listened closely to his most recent run you should have known who was coming out… out comes John Cena… with The Doctor of Thuganomics gimmick!!! He was wearing a Number 3 Yankees jersey, which was Babe Ruth’s number. This got probably the biggest reaction he has got in years and certainly the first Universally positive one on this stage for a while. I know where I was we all went absolutely crazy for it. Cena then, as he did all the time in this gimmick, absolutely ripped Elias apart on the mic. He said he felt like he was watching his movies because this whole thing sucks, called Elias a wasted wrestling experiment, said he’s not half a dog but a little piece of shitsu, your face looks like my nuts but you’ve got a hairier bush and finished with saying ‘no AA, but you’re going to get the FU’ and then he hit him with the mic, the 5 knuckle shuffle and then the FU/AA. This was… brilliant!!! Whoever came up with this isn’t paid enough.

Triple H defeated Batista in a No Holds Barred Match with Triple H’s in-ring career on the line

I enjoyed this. Some didn’t as much. It was very long and late in the show and slow paced. But I personally had fun watching. It was a weapons based fight rather than a wrestling match which it should have been so that was good. Both guys particularly Triple H looked in INSANELY good shape. Batista tripped on the ropes as he came into the ring, that was not so good. Triple H had a cool ‘Mad Max’ (shout out to Dan as I’m not cool enough to watch films like that so didn’t get the reference) entrance. One big spot was HHH removing Batista’s nose ring with pliers. Very babyface of him… HHH also speared Batista through an announce table which was a good looking spot. Triple H of course bought a sledgehammer in to it… leading to a finish where Batista had it, only for Ric Flair to come down and hand Triple H a second sledgehammer. Triple H used the steel steps that were in the ring as almost a boost and jumped off then to hit Batista with the sledgehammer. He then hit a Pedigree for the win. Triple H kicked out of the spinebuster, Spear and Batista Bomb. Batista kicked out of the first Pedigree. This earlier on in the show would’ve been so much better received imo. Batista announced his retirement on social media after the show.

***

Baron Corbin defeated Kurt Angle in Kurt Angle’s farewell match

JBL did guest commentary. Yes the match happened. No interference, no funny business. Corbin pinned him clean and then Kurt took in the applause one last time. Crowd was deathly silent when ref counted the 3. Corbin got the win with the End of Days after Angle missed a moonsault. It was what you’d think. Kurt thanked the fans and asked for a “You suck” chants one last time. I think they might put Corbin against Rollins. This was not a fun watch aside from being able to pay tribute to Kurt before and after. In one of the more poetic moments of the show there was a sign in the crowd you could see when Kurt told people to do the You Suck chants. The sign read “you never sucked Kurt”. He was correct, Kurt Angle has never and will never suck.

**

Demon Finn Balor defeated Bobby Lashley with Lio Rush to win the Intercontinental Championship

Again pretty much what you’d expect. The demon entrance was cool, and he won in less than 5 minutes with a powerbomb (yes, Finn Balor did that to Bobby Lashley) and then the Coupe de Grace. Lashley earlier hit a crazy spear through the ropes to the outside and also the spear in the ring that Finn kicked out of. Exactly what it should have been, particularly given how late it was and it was just before the main event.

**1/4

Alexa came out again in her umpteenth different outfit of the show. She announced the absolutely factual attendance of 82,265. Eventually she bought out R Truth and Carmella who did a dance break.

Becky Lynch defeated Ronda Rousey (C) and Charlotte Flair (C) in a winner takes all match to become the new Raw Women’s Champion and the new Smackdown Women’s Champion

Yes they botched the finish or at least aspects of it. Yes it spoilt the match and the moment. Charlotte came to the arena in a helicopter in homage to a previous entrance of her Dad’s. Ronda was played out by Joan Jett which was cool. Becky was cheered by the crowd but I think they were all so exhausted. They were not alone let me tell you. The match itself was actually pretty good. Charlotte has blood coming from her right arm, apparently from when she had Rousey in the Figure 8 and Becky came off the top with a leg drop. Lots of nearfalls and submissions being broken up throughout. Flair screamed at Ronda for calling wrestling fake and slammed her head into a table that had been set up in the corner multiple times (ILY Charlotte). Becky and Ronda teamed up to throw Charlotte into the table in the corner, then they traded strikes, eventually she went for the Piper’s Pit but Lynch rolled her over for the backslide and the pin. Everyone was caught off guard by this so it didn’t get nearly the pop you’d expect. Ronda’s shoulders were definitely not down fully for the whole 3 count. Worked or botched … regardless the finish to me sucked. Ronda was pissed afterwards and left the ring sharpish and appeared to head in the direction of her husband who was in the crowd. The match was good and the crowd were more alive for it than anything since Kofi winning the title. Becky held both belts up to close the show. Ronda broke her hand during the match. And she IS leaving I hear. She COULD be back but as of now she’s done. Why this didn’t end in a submission if there’s no guarantee she’s coming back and it’s the main event of WrestleMania I don’t know? I heard it was originally going to be a submission but they switched it. I don’t know there reason and I don’t get their logic either.

***

I missed out but there was a backstage thing with Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel and Alexa Bliss and Ron Simmons came in and ofc he said DAMN (apologies for missing a minute long backstage segment in a 7.5 hour show). Oh and just an FYI: no Undertaker, no Ambrose, no Kevin Owens. As I said before I liked the show, but it was way too long and there were way too many matches. It was once again a WWE PPV more of moments than great matches. It’ll be historic for sure, 8 titles changing hands will do that for sure. Raw will set up Seth’s next opponent and a Ronda promo where she says she quits. And SD we get Bryan and Kofi setting up their next one. Of course we have the superstar shake up next week too so it could all change again. But this was a very long show with amazing moments with a bizzare finish to the main event. But we got our big 3 babyfaces winning. So at least we have that.

And just to clarify… that finish in the main event was supposed to happen. What wasn’t meant to happen was Ronda’s shoulder coming up part way through it. Commentary and the replays after point it out was odd with that in mind. Ronda didn’t shoot. She’s leaving so everyone chill. Thanks.

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 – 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 – MetLife 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 – Mercedes-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 – AT&T Stadium – Arlington, 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 – Camping 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 – Mercedes-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.

Batista @ Wrestlemania: Reviewed

So THE ANIMAL is back!!! And whilst Dave Bautista is indeed somewhat of a legend in WWE and a worldwide known name now given his Hollywood exploits guarding the galaxy and trying to stop James Bond he has had a surprisingly low number of previous matches on the grandest stage of them all. He missed out on Wrestlemania’s 19,22 & 25 due to injury and not long after the biggest WWE shows in 2010 and 2014 he left the company. But in just six Wrestlemania matches Batista came up against some of the biggest names in WWE history: The Rock, Mick Foley, Triple H, The Undertaker, John Cena, Daniel Bryan, Randy Orton… and Umaga… So to get you in the mood for Batista’s dream match with Triple H at Wrestlemania 35 this year I will now look back and review at the previous Wrestlemania outings of THE ANIMAL!!!

Wrestlemania 20: ‘Evolution’ (Batista & Ric Flair & Randy Orton) defeated ‘The Rock ‘N’ Sock Connection’ (The Rock & Mick Foley) in a 3 on 2 Handicap Match 

Batista’s debut on the grandest stage of them all saw him team with Evolution running buddies Ric Flair and Randy Orton against two of the biggest names in WWE history. But somehow it was in the middle of the card and just one of the under-card offerings. The match itself was fine without it being great. Orton got the pin after an RKO on Foley as we were just months away from the Legend Killer leaving the group after being rejected for winning ‘Triple H’s’ World Heavyweight Championship. At this stage Batista was just the muscle of the group and had ended 2003 with a few short runs as tag champion with Flair as well as costing Stone Cold Steve Austin his position as Raw Co-GM. At this point Batista was pushed as a monster heel, and he was protected (you could say he was in the Drew McIntyre spot if you were to compare him then to someone now position wise) but it this match Batista really was a 5th wheel as Rock and Flair worked well together and Foley and Orton had a real blood feud going on at the time so in what was a fine enough match The Animal was kind of left out in the cold. He was not yet close to the main event… although 12 months later…

***

Wrestlemania 21: Batista defeated Triple H (C) with Ric Flair to win the World Heavyweight Championship

Remember around maybe 10 seconds ago when you read me saying that Batista was not close to the main event at the time of Wrestlemania 20? Well erm… that was just a tad different by the time Wrestlemania 21 in the Staples Center. An event that was billed as ‘Wrestlemania goes Hollywood’ the main event was the end of a story that was at least as good as any epic summer blockbuster. As many who will know from the time the now infamous ‘reign of terror’ of one Hunter Hearst Helmsley over the WWE as World Champion was full of help and interventions from his Evolution stablemates, and mainly his muscle man Batista. But towards the end of 2004 it started to become clear that Batista was beginning to come up in terms of popularity and all-round star power, to the point he (in somewhat infamous circumstances) won the 2004 Royal Rumble Match. But as Batista pointed out himself it was still all about Triple H… The Evolution leader even heavily pushed the idea that Batista would use his championship opportunity to challenge WWE Champion JBL instead of The Game and that Evolution could rule WWE… but as I’m sure you’ve all seen when it came to decision time Batista did what absolutely everybody watching dreamed of and Batista Bombed Triple H through the table and the Mania match was set. Triple H was played out by Motorhead, but that seemed to pail in comparison to the sheer sight of Batista. And for as much as the 2002-2005 domination of Triple H is rightly criticized, the match where it ended couldn’t have happened on a bigger stage. It was a pretty even match until Triple H was busted wide open, Batista hit a spinebuster but then HHH responded with a low blow. He went for the Pedigree but Batista was able to block it and eventually powered up, hit the Batista Bomb and got the pin. A new top star was born. Jim Ross’ commentary of the moment is particularly great. As was the moment after where Batista roared whilst holding the big gold belt as a fallen Triple H looked on absolutely caked in blood. A great story, an OK match, an amazing finishing moment. And I should add for those who don’t know that Triple H (in the months leading up to this) had to apparently beg Vince not to blow the fued off any earlier, not to let Batista get that big win until Wrestlemania for maximum effect. So for those who say HHH buries people, he certainly went out of his way to put Big Dave over here, in the main event of Wrestlemania for the title nonetheless!

***1/2

Wrestlemania 23: The Undertaker defeated Batista (C) to win the World Heavyweight Championship

This was a bit good… The Undertaker was very arguably at his best, Batista was about to reach the point of his career where he’d be solidified by this very feud as a main eventer, and in Ford Field these two put on the first of what would be a series of seven consecutive Wrestlemania classics. Taker had finally won the Royal Rumble Match and chose the Smackdown title holder as his championship opponent. The two then had a tremendously thrilling build up to their epic encounter that even included them both TWICE taking on fellow Wrestlemania championship opponents John Cena and Shawn Michaels in tag team matches. Those who watched Smackdown at the time (me included) would’ve argued this match should have gone on last that year over Cena – HBK but nonetheless these two, who definitely had their doubters going in by all accounts in terms of their in-ring chemistry, put on a match that saw both men get all their signature offences in, and as became customary in the years to follow ‘The Streak’ looked very much in jeopardy. Batista even hit a Batista Bomb that got a very close pinfall attempt, but in the end The Animal succumbed to a Tombstone Piledriver and The Deadman would win the big gold belt for the very first time to thunderous reaction. Unfortunately Taker would not hold the belt for all that long, but this was the first in what across 2007 became a historically-renowned series of matches between the two which really was (much like former Evolution stablemate Randy Orton some years before him) another showing of Taker getting somebody to that next level. Wrestlemania 23 may not have ended as well as Mania 21 for Batista, but in terms of his long term WWE career and his standing it was arguably as important.

****

Wrestlemania 24: Batista (SMACKDOWN) defeated Umaga (RAW) in an “inter-promotional brand vs brand match” (whatever the fuck that is)

Oh boy… Wrestlemania 23 1 year prior: both Batista and Umaga are in possibly the top 2 or at worst 2 of the top 3 featured matches of the show (Batista vs Undertaker and Umaga representing Vince against Trump)… at this point these two suffered what many top stars do and are a victim of not having their top runs co-inside with Mania. Batista was pretty much in every World Heavyweight Championship match for 2007 as was one of the final four in the Royal Rumble 2008 and the final man eliminated in the Elimination Chamber match to decide who would challenge Edge for the world title at this Mania. That phrase about being the Bridesmaid and not the Bride comes to mind… as for Umaga I think he’s looked at unfairly. He had really great character aspects and got a big push, if anything his character limited his ability in-ring. His match with Cena at Royal Rumble 2007 is testament to how good Umaga could be given the chance. But at this stage after a 2007 spent facing Cena and then being Vince McMahon’s hired gun he was now off the back of a losing feud to Triple H and was not far away from being drafted to Smackdown (it should also be noted it was Batista who eliminated Umaga from the 2008 Royal Rumble Match). So he certainly wasn’t as big a star as he was. The match itself was pretty much what you’d expect, 2 guys probably a bit bummed with where they found their-selves on the biggest show of the year, it was…OK… but was your typical middle of the show match between two big guys. It went just over 7 minutes, they went 50/50 for the majority and it ended with Batista countering an attempted Samoan Spike with a Spinebuster and then a Batista Bomb for the win. This was… a match…

**

Wrestlemania 26: John Cena defeated Batista (C) to win the WWE Championship 

So we finally got a big singles match on a big show between two of the biggest stars of that decade. We got to that point with Batista (now on Raw and a heel; probably because he was pissed off at being dropped from the main event scene after his injury some time before that meant he just missed Mania 25) being hand picked by Vince McMahon to take the WWE Championship from John Cena and this was his rematch. Vince’s beef with Cena stemmed from Cena siding with Bret Hart in his feud with McMahon heading in to their (abomination of a) match after Batista attacked Hart after he went after Vince. At the previous PPV Cena had won the WWE Championship in the opening match, but was soon interrupted during his celebrations by Vince who immediately ordered Cena to defend the title against Batista (for absolute no reason it seemed other than Vince liked Batista and didn’t like Cena). Batista beat him of course and eventually Cena got his rematch. As I said this is a pretty huge match star-power mind, but if it’s possible to be in a tough spot as the WWE title match between two massive names at Wrestlemanai this match was… as it came just before the Taker vs HBK; Streak vs Career match so people were kind of just waiting for that. Cena won the title of course, the match was fine (slightly less good I’d say than their Summerslam 2008 match). Cena, after getting the big Mania entrance coming out, was dominated in the early part, got back into it with a Suplex and later hit a Five Knuckle Shuffle off the top rope. The two then traded finishers and nearfalls before Cena finally reversed a Batista Bomb into an STF for the win.

***1/2

Wrestlemania 30: Daniel Bryan defeated Randy Orton (C) & Batista to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship 

Here we go, the one you’ve all waited for!!! I’m sure you know the story here but as this blog is about The Animal I’ll tell you it from his point of view; so Batista, after years away from WWE breaking into Hollywood, returned ahead of the 2014 Royal Rumble Match and as heavy favourite going in he would win the match to a chorus of boos (simply because he wasn’t Daniel Bryan). Eventually WWE saw this and turned Batista and gave the people what they wanted; Daniel Bryan. So EVENTUALLY WWE realized their fantasy of Batista vs Orton in the main event just couldn’t happen and Bryan was in. And a lot of people speak about the Wrestlemania 20 triple threat was better, I disagree. This match was fucking incredible. Maybe the best match of Orton or Batista’s career. Of course it had much to do with the 3rd, bearded element in this match but regardless the story that was told, and the amazing finish all came together to produce a classic Wrestlemania main event. And to be fair both Orton and Batista played their roles very very well. The spot where Orton and Batista came together to deliver a Batista Bomb-RKO/kneckbreaker combo to put Bryan through an announce table was excellent. The finish of the match was exquisitely played out; with Bryan out of action Batista set Orton up for a Batista Bomb to the fury of the New Orleans crowd, and suddenly after hitting the move and going for the pin Bryan came flying from out of shot with a running knee as the crowd roared in relief and delight. Bryan then put The Animal in the Yes Lock and Batista TAPPED OUT! Daniel Bryan had performed “a Miracle on Bourbon Street” as Michael Cole called it (should mention that this was Michael Cole’s best performance as an announcer, he really made the moment seem as big as it was). The crowd exploded it happiness, Daniel Bryan was on top of the world. Everyone was happy. And to be fair to Batista he told WWE he should be made a heel from his return, and that Bryan was the guy, and it took WWE time but they got it in the end. Batista wouldn’t stick around for many months after but credit to him for having the foresight to see what the people wanted, and to be willing to tap out in the main event of Wrestlemania to a guy maybe half your size, and your a Hollywood movie star, that takes plenty of humility. So credit where credit is due. But yes this was Batista’s best Wrestlemania match by along way and it’s not even close. An all-time great match.

*****

So there you have it; as you can see Batista has had a mixed bag in terms of match quality, but always seems to be up against some huge names. And of course in his return this year it is no different with his blood rivalry match against old mentor Triple H. I think with them both getting on so well irl, and I presume they will practice the fuck out of it, I expect it to be a good match. I think Triple H will win as I don’t see Batista sticking around too long (he’s a legit Hollywood star now so he’s not going to be short of work) but as I say I think it’ll be a good match. If anything it’ll just be cool to hear Batista’s absolute BANGER of an entrance theme music again on a big stage.

Josh.

 

 

 

 

 

Top 10 Charlotte Flair matches

I think Charlotte Flair is the greatest female performer in WWE history. In-ring ability, promo skills, character playing, she’s the all round package. And, let’s be honest about it; she looks like a star. And right now of course she’s playing the bad guy in the main story going in to WrestleMANia, but she’s exhibiting her best work as a result. She’s great as a babyface, as a heel she’s absolutely unparalleled. When she’s on top form and she’s against somebody else who can really go, she’s really capable of putting on a classic. So in this blog as we head towards the biggest match of her career I look back and rundown her best ten matches from what has already been an incredible, Hall of Fame worthy career in WWE having only debuted just under 6 years ago on TV.

10. NXT Women’s Championship: Charlotte (with Ric Flair) V Natalya (with Bret Hart) – NXT Takeover; 29/5/2014 = ****1/4 

This match is seen by many as a huge turning point in what became the current boom we are experiencing for women’s wrestling. It came about after the title was vacated from former champion Paige after she ascended to the main roster as the then Divas Champion. And so a tournament was set up to crown the new champion that culminated at the first NXT Takeover event. The finals of which would pit two descendants of a couple of the most famous families in wrestling as Natalya Neidhart (a veteran even at this point) took on Charlotte Flair (who was only into her 2nd year as an active wrestler). The match itself was excellent and was the first time we really saw the natural ability Charlotte possessed and alongside Natalya showed this in abundance. Natalya, who despite some tedious tendencies as a character is about as solid an in-ring performer as there is on the women’s side, will no doubt have helped Charlotte get to this point in her career that she can put on a great match, but it takes two to tango after all. and Charlotte met Natalya at every stage in this epic. The story they told was compelling and the counters and the counters to a counter that each woman did from Sharpshooter to Figure 8 submission moves was really impressive. Eventually it would see a Flair get one over a Hart once again as one Natural Selection later and Charlotte Flair was the 2nd ever NXT Women’s Champion and her honor-laden career had begun. The two embraced afterwards maybe out of respect but surely knowing they had changed women’s wrestling in one match. Or at least they certainly got the ball well and truly rolling.

9. Raw Women’s Championship: Bayley V Charlotte (C) – Raw; 13/2/2017 = ****1/4 

My thoughts watching this at the time were that indeed it was a good match, indeed the pop for Bayley winning the title and the feel-good moment itself was special, heck even Michael Cole, Corey and Byron’s calls were really well timed. But just IMAGINE this exact thing happening at that years Wrestlemania… Nonetheless this was Bayley’s moment and she had a match with someone she has faced for many years in Charlotte, and it was really good. Not often you’ll see a women’s TV match be this good (I say that knowing full well there are 2 more TV matches to come on this list but I digress…). We had just come out of the now famous series between Charlotte as heel champion/challenger against Bayley’s best friend Sasha Banks and so the Hugger was set up as the next challenger. The booking time wise was odd given they kept parading this undefeated singles PPV record Charlotte had going for her, and she had beaten Bayley at the royal Rumble a few weeks before, but they put the title on Bayley here, and then she beat her  at the PPV as well so Charlotte’s PPV ‘record’ was over, and then Bayley kept the title at Mania too… so why they couldn’t have kept the record and run of Charlotte as champion going and crown Bayley to an even bigger pop, and an even greater moment at Mania that year I still don’t know. This would prove to be historical as it would mark the last time Charlotte Flair was RAW Women’s Champion* (she not only was the first but record holder for number of reigns too), as she made the move over to Smackdown not long after Wrestlemania…

* subject to change at WrestleMANia… maybe…

8. NXT Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks V Becky Lynch V Bayley V Charlotte (C) – NXT Takeover: Rival; 11/2/2015 = ****1/4

People who have wanted any form of Horsewoman match may not be aware they actually did the 4 way previously in NXT. And I’m sure you wont be shocked to know it was pretty good. We were still at this point 6 months away from the first Takeover outside of Full sail, so that tells you were NXT was at at that time, but this was where the NXT women’s Championship era of THE LEGIT BOSS began. It also marked the end of Charlotte’s 258 day reign as the leading lady of NXT. It was a shame the match only got around 12 minutes, and it was sandwiched on the card between Finn Balor V Neville and Kevin Owens V Sami Zayn for the NXT title, but nonetheless it was pretty good.  Becky and Bayley both on separate occasions in the match came close to pinning Charlotte but in the end it was Sasha Banks who got the better of the then champion with a crucifix move that gave her the win to dethrone the former champion and win the title. It’s incredible to think in hindsight that we had all 4 of these women in NXT at the same time, so do go back and watch this one as a little taster for the ultimate Women’s match for WWE in the future…???…

7. Raw Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks v Charlotte Flair (C) – Falls Count Anywhere Match – Raw; 28/11/2016 = ****1/4

So Charlotte had beaten Sasha for the title in the Hell in a Cell match in Sasha’s hometown, so going in to this match that took place in Charlotte, North Carolina the result was almost inevitable. But as gimmick matches on regular weekly TV go this was actually pretty good. They brawled all over the arena and in the middle of a now legendary series between the two, and in Charlotte’s hometown, it was Sasha who got the win with a really creative spot. As both women were in the stands near the fans Sasha had Charlotte in somewhat of a Banks Statement, but Sasha had used one of the arena rails to pull Charlotte against and it looked brutal with Flair’s back being pulled by Banks against the railing. Sasha still got the babyface reaction despite being in Flair country, and amazingly enough Charlotte’s father Ric came out after to give his approval to Sasha to really put her over as the babyface. As became the theme of the feud Charlotte got the title back soon after but in the series they had this was amongst the matches I enjoyed the most. The match also got me both twitter recognition from Ms Flair herself, and… shall we say… stick… from plenty of Sasha Banks’ fans the next day which was…. great…

6. WWE Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks V Charlotte Flair (C) – Raw; 25/7/2016 = ****1/2 

I LOVED this match. On the same Raw that Finn Balor, on his first night on Raw, pinned Roman Reigns CLEAN in the main event the ‘new era’ on Monday Night Raw was continued with Sasha Banks finally getting her big moment by overcoming the seemingly unbeatable Queen. The match was really well thought out, Charlotte played the cocky, defiant heel so well and Sasha fought her ass off to get the crowd on her side, and the Backstabber into the Banks Statement finish got a huge reaction from the crowd and Michael Cole, to his credit, called it so well. The finish was awesome and Sasha crying and giving the big babyface interview in the ring after was so great. About as good a women’s TV match as you’ll see.

5. Smackdown’s Charlotte Flair V Raw Women’s Champion Ronda Rousey – Survivor Series 2018; 18/11/2018 = ****1/2 

Considering this was supposed to be Becky vs Ronda, and they had DAYS to practice it, this match was remarkably good. I’m still baffled how they had this good a match all things considered. They told a great story of a really personal feud which has only escalated in the months that have followed, and sure you could say they had this exact match planned for Becky, but the end result with Charlotte was great. And if you think about it now, if Becky has this match here I don’t know if they do the Mania match, so we probably got the best scenario in the end. Of course as good as the match was it was all about the post match beatdown where Charlotte annihilated Rousey with a kendo stick and then the spot where she stomped the chair around Ronda’s neck. This was all tremendously fun to watch.

4. Smackdown Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch (C) V Asuka V Charlotte Flair – TLC Match – TLC 2018; 17/12/2018 = ****3/4

I thought this match was really great. Hardly a shock with those involved but nonetheless in the main event of what was an…. interesting…. PPV… this was by far one of the show highlights. Of course everyone talks about the finish where Ronda Rousey comes out and pushes the ladder with Becky & Charlotte on it over, allowing for Asuka to climb and grab the title. It was obvious why it happened and where we were heading even that far back, and whilst some people complained Ronda’s actions made Asuka’s big title win feel cheap I’d say it really din’t matter. Asuka was the champion and she should have been at this time and it was the right result of a good match. So I see little to complain about. But this was a really good TLC match men or women.

3. WWE Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch V Sasha Banks V Charlotte with Ric Flair – Wrestlemania 32; 3/4/2018 = ****3/4

Historic for 2 reasons; the women had the best match of the show in front of the largest crowd in Wrestlemanai history, and this match marked the death of that god-awful butterfly belt. Sasha Banks came out as a megastar with her cousin Snoop Dogg playing her to the ring, Becky was over too, and Charlotte Flair came out looking like a huge star too. And this match was FANTASTIC! Probably the first time since the women in NXT really got the division going that we got to see a women’s match of this caliber on the main roster. And they did it at WRESTLEMANIA! Everyone wanted Banks to win, but in the end it was the former Divas Champion that got the win to begin the new era of women’s wrestling in WWE.

2. Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair (C) V Asuka – Wrestlemania 34; 8/4/2018 = ****3/4 

As I’ve said before I’m not sure I realized at the time quite how good this match was, I think I was too emotionally invested in the time to be able to look at the match. Even after when my friends consoled me after Asuka had lost her undefeated streak by telling me it was cool that Charlotte had a huge moment and that the match was really good I didn’t take it in. But the next day I watched it back, and this match was great. Shouldn’t have been a shock but arguably the two most talented in-ring female performers in a huge match on the biggest show, we really shouldn’t have expected anything less that a good match. But Charlotte ended the streak of Asuka here, and then dropped her title 2 days later anyway, but nonetheless this was finally Charlotte’s moment to have a classic singles match on a PPV, and had it not been for a certain Rowdy One putting on an unbelievable debut performance Charlotte would’ve once again had the best match of WWE’s biggest show.

1, Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair V Becky Lynch (C) – Last Woman Standing Match – Evolution; 28/10/2018 = ****3/4 

There was a high demand for this match to close the first WWE all-female PPV, and after the match itself was over the argument was only greater that this absolutely brilliant match should’ve concluded what was a pretty good show overall. Becky was in the middle of her heel-face-who on earth knows phase of being THE MAN, which in turn led to Charlotte being by default the biggest heel on the show, and after somewhat of an underwhelming match in Australia a few weeks prior this was anything but that. Tonnes of weapon spots but they weren’t over-done as so many gimmick matches are nowadays. This match told a great story as the people just lapped up everything Lynch (who was at this stage supposed to be the heel) did. The highlight being a crazy spot where Becky did a leg drop on to Charlotte off a ladder to put Flair through an announce table, and then powerbombed her off the top rope through a table for the win. An epic match and maybe the best main roster females match of all time. For now… maybe…

Josh.

 

23/4/2018 – What’s on my mind: WWE

(listen to Jim Ross’ podcast as that’s where I got the idea for this type of blog from, the title is literally taken from him anyway).

Last night I began watching the best Hell in a Cell matches of all time (ahead of a future blog I am going to write), I tend to watch the Mankind vs Undertaker one (where Mick Foley attempts to self destruct) as one of my many “comfort viewings” when I am emotionally distressed or bored (tends to be more the first one and hardly ever the later these days). Watching the first ever Hell in a Cell match last night made me look at some statistics, and I noticed that there were 16 HIAC matches in the first 11 years or so since the concept was created. Compare that to the 22 in the past 9 or so years, mainly due to the inception of the specific Hell in a Cell ppv, in which there are 2 or 3 each show. Hell in a Cell used to be something that would be called upon when a rivalry had reached the point where they could no longer be contained in a regular match.

Nowadays with the fact there is a PPV each year for the match it is simply whatever rivalry is happening at the time is thrown into a cell and they have a match (Kevin Owens and Shane McMahon for example were still at odds by the time Wrestlemania came about some 6 months later). Before Hell in a Cell was the be all and end all of a rivalry, now it’s just another part. It kind of takes away the magic and allure of the match to me. Less is certainly more with Hell in a Cell matches, having them less often (and only when necessary and the story calls for it) will retain their magic more rather than having a ppv when you are forced to have multiple HIAC matches.

Speaking of less being more, that brings me nicely towards the man who will be making an appearance on Raw this Monday ahead of his Universal Championship defense at the Greatest Royal Rumble on Friday; “BRRRRRROOOCCCKKKKKKK LLLLLEEEESSSSSSNNNNAAAAARRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!” (Heyman, 2012). The debate will rage on and on as to if it is ethically right that the world champion of WWE only appears on TV every now and then, or any performer for that matter. So here’s what I think: with regards to part-time Brock being a world champion, lets think about this: I like the idea of Brock Lesnar being champion because if this was all ‘real’ and legitimate then I am in no doubt that former UFC (Mixed Martial Arts) Heavyweight Champion and NCAA (college wrestling) Heavyweight Champion Brock Lesnar would still be holding the championship.

Whenever WWE appears to be close to ‘real’ then it’s so much better because it’s more believable so Lesnar being Universal Champion in that sense is fine with me. The next issue is with him being a “part timer” that is paid per appearance at an extremely high rate for limited dates, despite him being one of the company’s top superstars he only appears a dozen or so times a year and competes even fewer times. Would I like the Universal Champion to be on TV every week, as is WWE Champion AJ Styles, and to defend the title at every ppv rather than a few? Obviously I would. Do I want to see Brock Lesnar on TV every week? Despite his talents and characteristics as a WWE superstar (and Paul Heyman’s amazing promos), in actual fact I’d rather him appear as few times as he does.

Why? Well ‘less is more’ once again; Brock Lesnar (like The Undertaker and even John Cena more and more these days) is a special attraction act. Someone who fans at arenas and watching at home will go out of their way to see. And given the vast array of talent in WWE these days, special attractions acts are a lot tougher to come by. So lets keep Brock as a special attraction act, lets keep his aura and make sure every time he appears it is still a huge deal. Brock instantly elevates anything or anybody he interacts with on TV, and this is down to both his star power and the fact that as he doesn’t appear all that often we know when he does it’s important and it’s for a big purpose.

I absolutely get why people are unhappy with Lesnar’s contract, lack of appearances and the fact him as Universal Champion hardly ever defends the belt of even appears on TV. But honestly I prefer Lesnar in this role as opposed to being on TV every week, he brings with him a lot of eyes and appeal for a big money match with a Roman Reigns or a Braun Strowman for example and he continues to get very, very rich in the process. We get a big star, he gets lots of money, I think overall we get a good deal. And for those who don’t like it I am confident that his reign of part-time terror wont be lasting too much longer…

And another seamless link brings me nicely to the Greatest Royal Rumble event in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia this Friday. Where indeed an incredibly stacked card will include the aforementioned Brock Lesnar defending his Universal Championship against Roman Reigns in a steel cage match. Now no explanation is need with regards to the questionable morality of WWE holding a huge event in a country where women on their own aren’t allowed to buy tickets for the event, and one where men on their own are only allocated seats in the far back area of the arena. You’re incredibly naive if you don’t get why this is happening.

Why have WWE signed a multi year deal with Saudi Arabia to form a promotional partnership? Why did they hold tryouts for Saudi based athletes this past week? Why is this event as stacked as it is? Put it this way, Brock Lesnar earns a lot of it…. I get that it’s their country and they can obviously make their own rules, and I understand that they are slowly trying to change their public perception, and obviously I’ll still be watching the event and the talent performing will make it terrific I’m sure, but it’s incredibly two-faced to me.

Did someone say ‘Women’s revolution’? Just remind me how many women are on the card for this event? And was it only THIS YEAR that women in Saudi Arabia were allowed to drive or even be in sports stadiums? … It’s good business, and it’s highly beneficial financially for the WWE sure, and maybe I’m part of the problem in that I’ll still pay my 9.99 a month for the network and I’ll watch the event still, but nonetheless it’s questionable to say the least…. But hey not much we can do to stop it happening, the event will be star-studded and greatly entertaining I’m sure but just bare that in mind.

I’ll try and end on a positive note after all that has kind of hampered my mood right now, and the best way for me to do that I feel is to talk about someone I really like. So allow me to speak briefly about somebody I indeed really like; Samoa Joe. He was, in my opinion, the biggest acquisition of the entire Superstar Shake-up last week. Last year it was undoubtedly Charlotte Flair who took that mantle for Smackdown, and she did rather well in the ensuing 12 months didn’t she? But back to Samoa Joe, this guy is one of the most legitimate and believable heel characters in the entire company, his in-ring work is outstanding (a great move set and more than able to tell a tremendous story along with any form of opponent), and his entire demeanor and character is so well executed that I legitimately believe (despite having seen him in numerous podcasts and TV specials come across as a terrifically engaging and intelligent man) he is an absolute bad-ass MONSTER!

Above all else though, in my humble opinion, Samoa Joe is the best heel promo guy on the active roster. He can shout and scream at a Roman Reigns or a Brock Lesnar or he can softly and deliberately speak one on one to a quavering Paul Heyman. I was left in no doubt of his wonderful mic skills after the previous few weeks that have seen him brutally bury a moaning Roman Reigns for two weeks in a row, and then after a typically well-executed squash match win against Sin Cara on Smackdown he grabbed a microphone and was somehow able to promote 1 huge live event, 1 pay per view, 2 matches, state his claim for 2 separate championships and then run down a handful of potential future opponents, all whilst maintaining his intimidating and fearsome character… all in one promo. This guy is an absolute genius of his craft, and if he has to go through AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura or even Daniel Bryan or even Seth Rollins, The Miz or Finn Balor OR EVEN Brock Lesnar or Roman Reigns…. This guy NEEDS to and imo WILL be a champion. And the sooner Samoa Joe wears championship gold once again the better.

Anyway I’ll wrap up now. Sorry to ramble on at the end but wanted to finish on a positive, and with this being just me saying what I want and what comes to mind WWE related at the time I write this, it might come across at times as a bit random and all over the place. But it helps me get my built up WWE stuff off my chest so I can think about more pressing issues (not that ANYTHING is more important than WWE…. obviously…). So yes enjoy the Greatest Royal Rumble, try and put to the back of your mind the laws of the country it is being held in for the duration of the event, and sit back and watch what is arguably a bigger event (match wise) than even Wrestlemania!

Josh.

PS; Happy Birthday to John Cena! He’s done ok for himself hasn’t he? …

Wrestlemania 34 Preview & Predictions

So it is almost upon us. With arguably the most STACKED card in wrestling history, Wrestlemania 34 in New Orleans looks like it could be an absolutely incredible show. So many different stories in all of the matches, matches we seem to have built to over, some matches we don’t know who is going to be in them yet, and the amazing fact that the (potential) biggest match of them all isn’t officially happening as of this moment!!!

Now predicting sport and things that aren’t pre-determined is difficult, but trying to predict the results before a big WWE show where the fate of an entire storyline and it’s blow-off could be absolutely changed beyond belief if desired, all on the say so of one Vincent Kennedy McMahon, is very hard indeed. But i’ll give it a go here. Also featuring in this blog will be my good friend and one of the people I shall be taking in the festivities in with; Dan (aka the only person I could find willing to help me out) who will also be offering his thoughts and predictions going in to each match. Enjoy OUR preview and predictions write up and enjoy Wrestlemania, I know we will!

Cruserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander vs Mustafa Ali

This will be an awesome wrestling match, that I’m in no doubt of. You only need to watch 1 previous match of either of these 2 guys to know that, but for sure this will be the match of the whole card that the least amount of the watching audience in the arena and at home will know anything about. And that’s the problem with 205 Live. For those of you who don’t watch the Cruiserweight specific show, it’s been A LOT better since that twat Enzo was dismissed. That has coincided with Triple H apparently taking over the running of the show, and since then it has been less about over-the-top characters and more about the amazing talent that these guys possess. They’ve picked the best 2 guys on the main 205 Live roster in my opinion for this showcase match, so I hope for the sake of the 205 Live show and the entire Cruiserweight division I hope these 2 absolutely kill it! Being on the pre-show isn’t ideal, yes it’ll get the crowd warmed up well but if you look at last year’s Cruiserweight Title match between Austin Aries and Neville, the match was great but the stadium was less than half empty to the lack of atmosphere took the life out of that one and limited any potential it had to be great. So let’s all hope it’s a classic, my prediction for who will win is Cedric. He was supposed to dethrone Enzo at the Royal Rumble but even if Ali wins I won’t be too upset.

Prediction: Cedric Alexander.

Dan: Don’t really know anything about this as I don’t really follow the cruiserweight stuff so pure and simple guess, Cedric Alexander.

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

Hey, everyone gets a Wrestlemania spot! Who on earth knows who will win this, they’ve shown with ZERO of the four previous winners of this match that it matters at all, but Battle Royals are always good fun to watch. I know they’ve announced a load of mid-carders for this one but I hope they use it as a chance to showcase and give a Mania moment to an upcoming NXT star. They did so with Baron Corbin a few years back and I hope they follow suit here; Killian Dain, Lars Sullivan… someone like that ideally. But they’ll probably give it to someone who they will push… for about 3 weeks… like they always do… I hope I’m wrong but I’m sceptical. Who wins? God knows…

Prediction: Lars Sullivan (PLEASE).

Dan: Can’t really pick for the guys one tbh. I’m trying to see noobs or upper carders who could take it but I’m struggling so I’ll just say dolph because I’m here to show the world 😂

The Wrestlemania Women’s Battle Royal

Although in similar sense to the men’s in that this is just for everyone who can’t get on the Mania card elsewhere, I feel the women’s Battle Royal in terms of strength in depth could be a lot better. Particularly as it has been eluded to that for sure there will be NXT competitors in this match. I hope one of the actually wins it but more likely it’ll go to a bigger name such as Becky Lynch or Sasha Banks or Bayley in conjunction with Banks and Bayley and their personal storyline. I’m still not over the fact Bayley vs Sasha isn’t a singles match on the card but can’t complain at this Mania card.

Prediction: Ember Moon (hopefully).

Dan: women’s maybe Mandy or Sonya to cement them a bit more? I think Carmella goes out early, has a hissy fit then cashes in after asuka/Charlotte and becomes champion?

AND NOW THE WRESTLEMANIA MAIN CARD!!!

Raw Tag Team Championship: ‘The Bar’ ( C ) V Braun Strowman & a mystery partner

So the fate of this match really does all rest on who Braun’s partner is. Elias? Big Show? Bray Wyatt? Who on earth knows… but they’re keeping it a secret until the show which I absolutely love, it makes a-near-certainty that whoever comes out will get a decent pop. As for the match I trust it to be good, I think it’ll be fairly short but we shall see. This story for me HAS to end with Braun and his partner winning or at least setting up a story, I think Braun should be in the Universal Championship match personally but it’s something at least.

Prediction: Braun and his partner win the titles.

Dan: I think Braun will win and have the titles to himself. But I’m intrigued to see who any partner would be, could be some odd couple type deal though. Although the whatculture madness idea of Alexa as his partner is mad enough to be possible, or perhaps Elias, I don’t think they know what do do with Braun and Elias now so they could be teamed up. So Braun to win this.

United States Championship: Randy Orton ( C ) V Bobby Roode V Jinder Mahal with Sunil Singh V Rusev with Aiden English

IT’S RUSEV DAY, AND IT’S RUSEVMANIA BECAUSE WRESTLEMANIA IS ON RUSEV DAY!!!

This was the match I was looking at as my potential ‘bathroom break’ as despite the fact I like all 3 guys in this one beforehand, the feud and build to it had been so dull it’s absurd. And then… it ALL changed when RUSEV was entered into it!!! AND NOW I CARE… BECAUSE IT’S RUSEV DAY!!! Previously I had Jinder as an absolute lock to win this one, but fuck Jinder because IT’S RUSEV DAY!!!

Prediction: RUSEV. BECAUSE IT’S RUSEV DAY, AND IT’S RUSEVMANIA!!!

Dan: I really think rusev needs pushing again but then roode getting it back would be great! And orton can do whatever and be good and I’m sure jinder will too maybe another feud with orton? I’ll say roode wins and then maybe that leads to a feud with rusev or something down the line. Roode to win.

Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss ( C ) V Nia Jax

The match itself I’m absolutely fine with. The story that has led us here? Not so much. I get that it’s a good thing to talk about in 2018 and showing a real-life issue, but ffs really? Could do WWE not think of another way to build to this match than have Alexa Bliss simply repeatedly imply that her former best friend Nia Jax is FAT!??! Like I said I get hey they’ve built to it this way but it strikes me as awfully cheap. If you didn’t know they’re actually best friends in real life so chemistry shouldn’t be an issue. I’m sure therefore the match will be fine, better than the build anyway. Who wins? Really hard to call this one for me as I can see many reasons for both winning, and DO NOT rule out a certain briefcase holder playing a part too…

Prediction: Alexa Bliss retains. Just.

Dan: I think this is a typical case of face beating heel at mania. Nia clearly got moral high ground going in and Alexa with all the heat. )My goddess is gunna lose here I think 😞 😂 ) so I’ll say Nia to win this one.

Daniel Bryan & Shane McMahon V Kevin Owens & Sami Zayn

Imagine saying a month ago that DANIEL BRYAN will be in a match at Wrestlemania? It really has seemed like a dream, but he’s back and we will finally get the conclusion to this story we had all hoped for. In the same venue where he won the world title at Wrestlemania 4 years ago I just cannot see Bryan coming back and losing, it’d be a disaster for me if WWE went that way. What will happen with Zayn and Owens, with the stipulation of their jobs at Smackdown Live being on the line, I don’t know… I expect they’ll just end up on Raw shortly after Mania but whatever happens they will be fine I’m sure. Their heel work (particularly Sami having been an ultra babyface before) has been superb, and I hope this match is as good as well hope it will be… YES, YES, YES!!!

Prediction: Daniel Bryan gets a submission win.

Dan: Yes! And here comes the money vs Team Canadian besties: I think it’s nicely set up for Bryan’s come back and Shane’s revenge if they win. Then KO and Sami get drafted to raw I think after a short break. DB and Shane to win.

Intercontinental Championship: The Miz ( C ) V Seth Rollins V Finn Balor

Again, this too could be a fantastic contest. Who will win? I really don’t know for sure. The lack of suggestion that we will see Finn come to Mania as ‘The Demon’ leads me to believe he won’t be winning, as for Seth I’d imagine he’s being kept for a feud with a soon to return Dean Ambrose. And whilst that would be a good IC title feud they have been playing on The Miz being days away from being the longest reigning Intercontinental Champion (in terms of combined days) of all time an awful lot recently. So by default I say the new father retains.

Prediction: The Miz

Dan: Another I’m not sure about on the face though, Miz is a great intercontinental champ but I think they’ll go new directions with him after mania. Then both Rollins and Balor could do with the boost but I’ll say Balor because dean will probably be back and do something with Rollins like challenge whoever ends up dominantly as rag champs when dean comes back. So Balor on this one to win.

WWE Championship: AJ Styles ( C ) V Shinsuke Nakamura

WOW, what needs to be said to build anymore to this one? A match for the ages, an all-time Wrestlemania classic. Already monikers like that are being labelled on this dream match, and indeed it should and will be brilliant. I see Nakamura getting his crowning moment here, but a loss for either men doesn’t hurt them if the match is a good or even close to their match in New Japan a couple of years ago.

Prediction: Shinsuke Nakamura

Dan: Really not sure yet on this one, I feel like they might give makamura the big one but it is wwe so I think they’ll kill some dreams and AJ will win.

Smackdown Tag Team Championship: The Usos ( C ) V The New Day V Bludgeon Brothers

This match could be the one that surprises people with how good and how much fun to watch it is. All of the participants are, whilst great together as a team, supremely underrated in the ring. The result of the match seems to be the obvious and inevitable coronation of Harper & Rowan, but that isn’t a massively bad thing for me. Whoever wins this I’ll be happy for them.

Prediction: Bludgeon Brothers

Dan: I’d like to say bludgeon brothers with an upset to change up the game but my head says new day as baby face ish and super popular, plus it’ll change things up and they’ve got the credibility to beat the Isis at mania. So New day to win.

Ronda Rousey & Kurt Angle V Stephanie McMahon & Triple H

The blockbuster match of the show, designed primarily to bring mainstream eyes on the WWE product. I don’t see this going long, I don’t want it too either to be honest, but seeing Ronda make Stephanie tap to the Armbar will be something that will bring me a lot of joy. And the added involvement of two veterans (and of course this is Angle’s first Wrestlemania match for 12 YEARS) will make it be sound in-ring. Let’s hope Ronda and Stephanie can play fair parts too.

Prediction: Ronda makes Stephanie tap

Dan: Olympians vs authority: Authority love to look good at their annual mania match but obviously Ronda needs a good boost to give her momentum starting in WWE so 3 experiences people with her I think she’s in good company and her and kurt win. Ronda and kurt to win

Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair ( C ) V Asuka

If AJ vs Nakamura is being billed as a dream match, then this one is MY dream match! Potential to be one of the best women’s matches of all time sees 2 of the all-time great in-ring female performers square off. My heart will be all over the place during this one for sure, it should be F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S … (don’t forget about that briefcase…)…

Prediction: Asuka

Dan: If anyone will beat the streak it’s Charlotte but I’m not super confident they’re ready to end it. But they can reinvent her character and redeem her if she loses at mania. So it pains me but I think asuka is gunna lose. Charlotte to win this one.

John Cena V The Undertaker… maybe… ???

So we don’t even know if this match is happening… officially anyway… but surely they wouldn’t tease this much for nothing??? So let’s act as if it is happening, somehow… I imagine Taker will come back absolutely livid and beat down Cena. Then I see possibly a year build to rematch and a retirement match NEXT YEAR at Wrestlemania, where Taker will return the favours. Lots of if, buts and maybes there but everything with this one is up in the air at the moment. I cannot wait to see what unfolds… If it happens I see TAKER winning. Purely because I can’t see him showing up after all this time, to then go and lose… surely not???

Prediction: The Undertaker

Dan: Cena vs taker would be a good match and I don’t think they’d get undertaker to lose to cena. I think it’d be a way to see undertaker go out with some grave by showing he still has it and can topple the guy at the top of the company (arguably). I think it gives cena chance to go off and do films and other stuff a while. Then make a come back a bit more loved again. But he’ll obv be be back to big match John status in no time and not go away at all 😂 undertaker to win if it happens.

Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar ( C ) with Paul Heyman V Roman Reigns

We all know whose winning this, right? The build-up I’ve really enjoyed, and at times it has worked to the desired outcome of getting Roman cheered. It seems more and more likely now that Brock is returning to the UFC, and that only increases the inevitability of the finish. In terms of the match itself; they have been building for pretty much a full year the strength of the F5. Nobody kicks out of the F5… until Sunday… and it has been notable tome that during all their encounters, Roman is yet to hit Brock with the Spear… until Sunday…

Prediction: Roman Reigns

Dan: I think roman is going over here, typical heel loses at mania plus it’s about time and don’t think brick would lose anywhere but mania.

Josh… and Dan.

PS. I’m taking a week off from blogging now. I want to enjoy the incredible week that we have of wrestling ahead of us to the fullest. And I don’t want to be sat with a notepad and pen during the events. So I’ll be back in some form of blog refreshed and ready to go and write some more about WWE. And by then who on earth knows what the landscape will look like! I’d like to finish by saying just how much I’v enjoyed writing and analyzing the WWE product in the last few months, I’ve long needed an outlet for me to “spew the bullshit” (as a certain Texas Rattlesnake has been known to say on his podcast from time to time) about pro-wrestling and this has been a much needed hobby of mine. To everyone who has commented and read my blogs, and liked my tweets on Twitter I’d like to thank you all too as it means an awful lot to me. See you in a couple of weeks!

Ranking The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania matches

25 matches. 23-2. The most incredible record in Wrestlemania history. And whilst The Streak may be behind us, we can still look back on an array of matches and memories that The Phenom has produced on the grandest stage of them all. So here is my personal rankings and reviews of all of The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania matches, ranked from worst to best. Enjoy!

25. Big Boss Man (Hell in a Cell match); Wrestlemania 15 (1999) = 0* (ZERO STARS)

‘Things can only get better’ as the phrase goes (trust me they do… eventually…) but we start off with a real DUD! So this match saw The Undertaker, representing his Ministry of Darkness faction, facing the Big Boss Man, of Vince McMahon’s Corporation, in a Hell in a Cell match. All sounds good right? Wrong! The match itself was sub-standard to say the least, but nobody remembers that as the aftermath was something that made me feel physically sick watching it. After Taker had won the match The Brood (Gangrel, Edge and Christian) ascended from the rafters of the arena and landed on top of the Cell, they then broke the roof of the cell and slid a NOOSE through the gap they had made, and then The Undertaker proceeded to HANG Big Boss Man as Taker’s manager Paul Bearer pressed a nearby button that raised the cell from the ground. So yes indeed, at WRESTLEMANIA a man was left hanging from a noose like something from some vile historical image. It was absolutely horrific and how it was even remotely acceptable even nearly 20 years ago is beyond me. Sickening.

24. Giant Gonzalez; Wrestlemania 9 (1993) = ¼*

Wrestlemania 9 is widely acknowledged as the worst Wrestlemania in history. So that should tell you all you need to know about a match between THE UNDERTAKER and an 8 foot tall man in a full muscle-ridden, fur-covered body suit. The Undertaker has down the years been lumped with a number of ‘monsters’ that WWE have wanted to push as big stars by having them take on their top guy soon after arrival, but Giant Gonzalez may be the most unbelievable and ridiculous of them all. The finish came when Gonzalez covered Undertaker’s face with a chloroform-covered cloth, and the referee waved off the match awarding the win to Taker by disqualification. 7 minutes and 33 seconds of misery.

23. King Kong Bundy; Wrestlemania 11 (1995) = 1 ½*

A match is never going to be good when it is the secondary focus to another story that is being told. And this match was all about the prized possession of The Undertaker; The Urn. The manager of King Kong Bundy, The Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, had taken possession of the Urn from Paul Bearer previously only for Taker to take it back during the match and return it to Bearer. That was until Kama (aka The Godfather) came and took it back. Anyway Bundy was on top for most of the match, until the finish came with Taker hitting a scoop slam on the giant Bundy, before a flying Clothesline was enough to get the win.

22. Jimmy Snuka; Wrestlemania 7 (1991) = 1 ½*

The first match of The Undertaker’s incredible Wrestlemania career was also the win that saw him take ‘The Phenom’ moniker from his ‘Superfly’ opponent. Taker punished Snuka en-route to a dominant win in less than 5 minutes in what would prove to be the first of many on the grandest stage.

21. Mark Henry (Casket Match); Wrestlemania 22 (2006) = 1 ½*

This was the zenith of what would be the peak years of both men’s career. A month prior ‘The World’s Strongest Man’ had cost Undertaker the World Heavyweight Championship, this eventually led to the first and currently only Casket Match on the grand stage of Wrestlemania. Henry demonstrated his power early on, Taker responded with a plethora of typically-hard strikes, and he would win the match by following up an amazing dive over the ropes to Henry on the outside (something which would be a re-occurring high spot for The Deadman in his Wrestlemania matches down the years) by rolling him into the ring, Tombstone Piledriver and then Taker rolled Henry into the casket before shutting the lid and extending his record to an impressive 14-0 at Wrestlemania.

20. Jake Roberts; Wrestlemania 8 (1992) = 1 ¾*

The ahead-of-his-time Roberts was the lamb to the slaughter here, designed to get the relatively new to the WWE scene Undertaker over by having him beat a big name on the biggest stage. And he did just that; Roberts would hit his finishing DDT (back when a ddt was a legitimate finisher) for the second time in the match before going to the outside to go after Taker’s manager Paul Bearer. However he would suffer a Tombstone Piledriver on the outside of the ring, eventually allowing The Undertaker to claim his second Wrestlemania victory in convincing fashion.

19. Sycho Sid (No Disqualifications Match for the WWE Championship); Wrestlemania 13 (1997) = 1 ¾*

A match that is more remembered for the fact the main event of Wrestlemania 13 was supposed to be a rematch of the previous year’s classic between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels saw The Undertaker take on the WWE Champion Sycho Sid (I don’t know how he was champion either) whilst the ‘injured’ former champion Shawn Michaels sat ringside at the commentary table. Bret Hart came out before the match and cut a promo on all 3 men (he was in-hindsight so clearly legitimately pissed off with HBK’s ‘injury’) and he was involved in the finish to as he distracted Sid long enough to allow The Undertaker to hit the Tombstone Piledriver to get the win. This match was awful because Sycho Sid was one of the worst main eventers of all time, and had it not been for the fact The Undertaker won the WWE Championship in the main event of Wrestlemania this match would be even further down the list for sure.

18. A-Train & Big Show (Handicap Match); Wrestlemania 19 (2003) = 2 ½*

This was supposed to see Taker team up with the physically impressive Nathan Jones in a tag team match, but Jones was unable to take part after an attack earlier in the show by both Big Show & A-Train (the real life reason is apparently Jones was taken out of the match due to concerns about how inexperienced he was in the ring still and not wanting to put him in such a big match so early in his career). A Limp Bizkit live performance of Undertaker’s entrance was one of many highlights of what was a great Wrestlemania. Although not one of the best matches on the show it still saw Taker hold his own against 2 huge opponents. The aforementioned Nathan Jones would though make an appearance, as a Spinkick in the crowd on the Big Show and then on A-Train (how this didn’t result in a DQ I don’t know but oh well) would allow for Taker to Tombstone A-Train back in the ring for the win.

17. Kane 1; Wrestlemania 14 (1998) = 2 1/2*

One of the longest running (still being used 20 years later) stories in WWE history had its opening contest in the unholy showdown between The Deadman and his newly-arrived brother. A few months in and Kane was already one of the most interesting and dominant characters we had ever seen. He would continue his dominance in this match before FINALLY succumbing to a 3rd Tombstone Piledriver from Taker for the win. Although Kane kicked out at 3 and beatdown his brother after the match, it was The Phenom who picked up the victory.

16. Diesel; Wrestlemania 12 (1996) = 2 1/2*

2 very powerful and very aggressive strikers did battle in an even contest. The cocky Diesel thinking he had the match in the bag, before being beaten after a Chokeslam followed by a Tombstone. Nice of Diesel to do the job shortly before he went to chase the coin in WCW. We didn’t hear much of him after that………..

15. Shane McMahon (Hell in a Cell Match); Wrestlemania 32 (2016) = 2 ½*

How do you try and save ‘the biggest Wrestlemania of all time’? You throw in your legend and put him in a giant cell against an authority figure we haven’t seen on TV in 6 years! Of course you do… In a match where Shane was fighting for control of Raw and The Undertaker was needing to win else he’d never compete at a Wrestlemania ever again. Going in to this match it was widely expected to be a one spot match, and indeed it certainly was. Shane climbed to the top of the cell and attempted to elbow drop Taker through the announce table, but Taker moved and Shane went through the table instead. He’d soon after suffer a Tombstone as Taker claimed the win. This was entertaining for sure, a technical masterclass it was not, and it was THIRTY MINUTES long. So you make your own mind up…

14. Roman Reigns (No Holds Barred Match); Wrestlemania 33 (2017) = 2 ½*

I have watched thousands of matches in my time as a pro wrestling fan, but this was the one I was most uncomfortable watching. My hero The Undertaker (whom it transpired was carrying an injury going into the match) was far from his peak, in the main event of my favourite Wrestlemania of all time against the man of the moment (who by stark contrast to his legendary opponent was in absolutely peak physical shape) Roman Reigns. And whilst this will be remembered for the lamented 2nd consecutive coronation with fireworks and all of the Big Dog at Wrestlemania and also the ceremonial laying in the ring of The Undertaker’s gear, the match itself was much less physically appeasing. Storytelling it was great, the old Lion fighting the younger Lion in a battle for supremacy, but just having to endure Undertaker (kayfabe or not) take an absolute beating for ¾s of this match was almost unbearable. A grand total of FIVE Spears later, along with a plethora of Superman Punches and chair shots later, notably prompting Roman to tell Taker to “stay down”, he eventually took mercy on The Deadman and rendered him just his second Wrestlemania loss that until very recently looked to be his last in-ring outing.

13. Kane 2, Wrestlemania 20 (2004) = 2 ¾*

The second match between the Brothers of Destruction on the grandest stage of them all saw The Undertaker return after a nearly 5 month absence (after losing a buried alive match at the previous Survivor series to Mr McMahon as a result of interference from Kane). This Undertaker though was different to the one we had seen before this, as with Paul Bearer by his side The American Badass gimmick was discarded and The Deadman returned instead at Madison Square Garden to take revenge on his brother. One of the all-time great Wrestlemania pre-match video packages and subsequent entrances proceeded a relatively short victory for The Undertaker after a Tombstone. And with that the greatest era of this legendary career had begun.

12. Bray Wyatt, Wrestlemania 31 (2015) = 2 ¾*

In his first appearance since losing his legendary Streak 12 months prior, The Undertaker returned to take on the self-proclaimed ‘new face of fear’ Bray Wyatt. Wyatt had for the entire 2 month build to this showdown been calling out The Deadman, questioning his power and mystique now that his streak had gone. In the end Taker proved it was still ‘his yard’ after winning the penultimate match of that years Mania in what was a wonderfully told story between a legend and a current-day superstar wanting trying to take his ‘lord of darkness’ title. A 2nd Tombstone Piledriver, after getting out of a potential Sister Abigail, was enough to take Taker’s record to 22-1.

11. Brock Lesnar; Wrestlemania 30 (2014) = 3*

The match that ended with the most famous moment in WWE of this past 20 years or so, one of the most famous moments in Wrestlemania, WWE and all of Pro-Wrestling history. The end of The Streak. “a 3rd F5 to The Undertaker… Brock Lesnar, into the cover, hooks the leg, The Streak… is over” called Michael Cole, as the crowd in the Mercedes-Benz Arena and everyone watching around the world was left absolutely stunned. The unthinkable had happened. The Beast Incarnate had delivered such a beating to Taker that the physically aggressive, shoot-looking style of offence had actually caused Taker to sustain a serious concussion during the early part of the match (albeit the actual moment was no such fault of Brock’s I should make that clear). It did though mean Lesnar had to take control of the large majority of the match, and that Taker was unable to fully take in the emotional and shocked reaction of the crowd after the match. The ovation he received became secondary to the concerns about his condition, as he stumbled out of the entrance-way and collapsed after the match once he got backstage. He was immediately rushed to hospital for check-ups and was accompanied by Vince McMahon himself. It was the first and only time Vince McMahon had left a Wrestlemania early, which just shows how high a regard Undertaker is held in. Always one to want to give back, this was the ultimate sacrifice. The most prized possession in all of pro-wrestling, The Streak, now belonged to Brock Lesnar.

10. Ric Flair (No Disqualifications Match): Wrestlemania 18 (2002) = 3*

This was the first Wrestlemania in which the former WCW stars were given the chance to shine on the Wrestlemania stage. It’s amazing to think that this match was half way down the card but this was a very unique event, as was this match. Flair bled almost from the start in typcially prefusive fashion, and the personal rivalry that had led to the match continued throughout this gruelling contest. But even with the interference of his best friend Arn Anderson (whom hit an exquisite Spinebuster to his opponent) to try and help him, Flair would eventually succumb to a Tombstone. And with that The Undertaker’s Wrestlemania winning streak was in to double figures.

9. Triple H 1: Wrestlemania 17 (2001) = 3*

This match featured a brawl through the crowd, a live performance by Motorhead, the debut of the American Badass Biker persona of Taker’s at Wrestlemania, a very peronal build up… there was a lot going on! Without being a technical masterclass (that’s still to come) this was an entertaining enough match, the finish saw the heel-ish Triple H be beaten by the Last Ride in the semi-main event of the most beloved Wrestlemania of all time. So not too bad I’d say.

8. Randy Orton: Wrestlemania 21 (2005) = 3 1/2*

It was highly appropriate that the first time ‘The Streak’ was specifically challenged, it was by none other than the ‘Legend Killer’. And Orton himself has since gone on to credit The Undertaker for helping him with this feud and elevating him to that next level. A very admirable match that included interference from Randy’s Hall of Fame Dad & a kick out at 2 after an RKO came to an end when Orton attempted a Tombstone Piledriver of his own… only for Taker to reverse it and hit the move himself for the win…… and we never heard much of Randy Orton again in WWE……

7. Batista (World Heavyweight Championship); Wrestlemania 23 (2007) = 4*

After The Undertaker had finally won his first Royal Rumble match, he went on to challenge Batista and so began one of the all time great series of matches across 2007. But the first is usually the best and this was the case here. It SHOULD have been the main event that year, instead this classic had to make do with the mid card spot. Crowd were enthralled throughout, eventually exploding with joy when Taker finally hit the Tombstone to win the big gold belt for the first time. Fabulous stuff all round.

6. CM Punk; Wrestlemania 29 = 4 1/2*

In a match that’s build up centred around the mocking of the recent passing of The Undertaker’s former manager Paul Bearer, one of the modern day greats carried one of the all time legends to a Wrestlemania classic. Punk (and most fans) would argue he should’ve been in the title match that year but nonetheless he made this match just as special. His mocking and imitations would eventually come back to haunt him as Taker would reverse a Tombstone attempt from Punk to hit his move himself for the win. The final match of the streak, and one of the best too.

5. Triple H 2 (No Holds Barred Match); Wrestlemania 27 (2011) = 4 1/2*

In the lead up to this one, Triple H vowed to do what his best friend (Shawn Michaels) could not; end The Streak. He could not. But in his attempt to he helped deliver an incredible match. Back and forth all the way through, chair shots, finishers hit and nearfalls for both, ended when Taker had the Hell’s Gate submission locked in. Triple H attempted to use his signature Sledgehammer to break the hold, but the pressure of the move was too much for Triple H to handle. After the match The Undertaker was so worn out he had to be carried out by paramedics. For the first time in his Wrestlemania career, The Undertaker failed to walk out the arena on his own two feet.

4. Edge (World Heavyweight Championship); Wrestlemania 24 (2008) = 4 1/2*

2 of the all time greats, in the main event of Wrestlemania, for the World Heavyweight Championship. Need I say more? This was simply excellent. Great storytelling, great wrestling, great drama. Finish was also great as Edge hit his Spear but was locked into the Hell’s Gate upon coming to the ground. The Rated R Superstar eventually succumbing to Taker’s new move, which eventually came to be a story in itself, and for the 2nd year in a row; Undertaker walked out of Wrestlemania with the big gold belt.

3. Shawn Michaels 2 (Streak vs Career); Wrestlemania 26 (2010) = 4 1/2*

Coming 12 months after their first Mania meeting, HBK’s one primary goal turned in to an obsession in the build up. As after Taker initially rejected his demand for a rematch, a failed attempt to win the Royal Rumble would leave a continually spiralling Michaels to cost The Undertaker the World Heavyweight Championship. This was indeed enough to persuade Taker to do a rematch, but only if Michaels put his career on the line. And so how do you follow a classic? With another one! A wonderfully told story had its conclusion when an exhausted yet defiant Michaels slapped Taker, and was punished with a huge, jumping Tombstone to keep the Streak alive, and to give Shawn Michaels the ending of his career that it warranted.

2. Triple H 3 (Hell in a Cell match with special guest referee Shawn Michaels); Wrestlemania 28 (2012) = 5*

‘The End of an Era’ was how this was billed. Indeed it was. 2 legends doing a match neither may ever come close to replicating ever again. This match had everything! Half an hour of sheer excellence. I cannot speak highly enough of it. Widely regarded as the best cell match ever, some even call it the best WWE match ever! The Tombstone would give Undertaker his 20th Mania win but this was more than just a match. The iconic image of Taker, Triple H and Michaels stood on the rampway after the match as they soak in the crowd admiration, and the sheer magnitude of what they just produced is something even your most emotionless WWE fan will surely begin to get teary eyed at. About as close to perfection as you could get in a WWE match… but not quite…

1. Shawn Michaels 1; Wrestlemania 25 (2009) = 5*

What can I say about this match? You knew this was going to be number 1 right? When I began to put together this list I was sure about only 1 thing, that this would be number 1. It’s my favourite WWE match of all time. It’s the best match in the history of Wrestlemania. It’s 2 of the best ever putting on an absolute masterclass. I could write 10000 words on this match and it wouldn’t be enough words to explain how perfect it was. Please watch this match asap. I loved it as a 13 year old, I absolutely adore it aged 22. Thank you for everything Undertaker. Thank you for being the most amazing performer in Wrestlemania history. And alongside ‘Mr Wrestlemania’ thank you for putting on my favourite ever match.

Josh.