SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
KELLER’S WRESTLEMANIA 35 REPORT
APRIL 7, 2019
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. AT METLIFE STADIUM
STREAMED LIVE ON USA NETWORK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Renee Young
Today's our most popular VIP sign up day. Join the mad rush to be VIP in time for our WrestleMania Post-Show VIP-EXCLUSIVE Roundtable & my VIP-EXCLUSIVE Keller Hotline w/WM star ratings & Listener Mailbag, plus ad-free website coverage. VIP details… https://t.co/gOh5wg4HnE pic.twitter.com/30vauvb7ct
— Pro Wrestling Torch (@PWTorch) April 7, 2019
-Mike Rome introduced Yolanda Adams, who sang “America the Beautiful” on the stage. Then four helicopters flew over the stadium as some pyro blasted.
-A video aired on WrestleMania as “The Showcase of The Immortals.”
-Alexa Bliss came out and said she can make everybody cheer at the snap of her fingers. She snapped, and then Hulk Hogan’s music played.
Hogan did his bit on the stage. He joked about it being great to be “right here in the Silverdome.” Then he said, “Okay, okay, it’s awesome to be right here at the MetLife Center, brother. He talked about having a WrestleMania Moment and asked “Whatcha gonna do when Alexa Bliss and Hulkamania runs wild on you.” Graves exclaimed it was quite the way to kick off WrestleMania with the Goddess and the Immortal. Bliss posed with Hogan.
-Paul Heyman marched to the ring right past Hogan. He entered the ring and said if his client is not going on last, they want to get their business over so he and his client can jet to Vegas afterward. He introduced Lesnar.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like the idea of starting with this. They’re guaranteed a hot crowd for a big match. Having Heyman demand it makes more sense than scheduling it officially.)
(1) BROCK LESNAR (w/Paul Heyman) vs. SETH ROLLINS – WWE Universal Title match
As soon as Seth stepped onto the ring apron, Lesnar charged with a knee to knock him to the floor. Lesnar bashed him on the floor and tackled him into the ringside barricade.
Lesnar then gave Set an F5 at ringside. Lesnar stayed on Seth, throwing him hard into the side of the ring next. Graves noted the match hadn’t officially started yet. He threw him into the German announce table. Then he threw Seth into announce table. Lesnar threw Seth into the ring and the ref checked on him to see if he could start. Lesnar hovered over the ref, who told him to back away. Lesnar stepped in and threw Seth over the top rope to the floor and then into the German announcers again. Then he threw him into the tabletop that was leaning against the announce table. Cole wondered if Seth would be able to continue. Lesnar threw Seth into the ring again. The ref checked on Seth again.
The ref called for the match to start as Seth nodded yes. Lesnar charged with a knee to the ribs and then shoulder drove into his abdomen a few times. Then he delivered a German suplex and yelled out “Suplex City.” He set up an F5, but Seth slipped out and shoved Lesnar, who knocked the ref down. Seth then gave Lesnar a low blow. Cole said that’s just like Monday night on Raw. Seth superkicked Lesnar in the face, then delivered three Stomps in a row. He scored the pin – 1-2-3. Cole called it one of the most shocking moments in WrestleMania history. Heyman got bug-eyed in the background as the ref counted three. Seth swung the belt over his head on the stage in celebration. Lesnar sat up with Heyman next to him and looked up in shock.
WINNER: Seth Rollins in 2:30 to capture the Universal Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: Not much of a match at all, which is always disappointing. The story worked, though, in popping the crowd early. Fans were happy not so much with the match, but I think with the possible end of the Universal Title being around the waist of someone who they have been swayed to believe doesn’t want to be there. In the 2019 landscape, that’s not a productive type of heel heat.)
-Jerry Lawler joined the announcers at ringside.
(2) A.J. STYLES vs. RANDY ORTON
(Keller’s Analysis: This is a good follow-up for the Lesnar-Rollins match. No title, but a chance to have a good match with substance that will benefit from a still hot crowd to give it energy that sometimes Orton matches need. A late-evening Orton match in front of a tired crowd is something to avoid in situations like this. So far, smart match order.)
Orton swung and missed early. Styles chopped away at him in the corner. Orton thumbed Styles in the eye and then dropped him with a dropkick. He then stomped away at Styles’s ankle. Styles came back with a high dropkick. Orton rolled to the floor. Orton knocked Styles hard off the ring apron and Styles flew into the barricade. Fans chanted “A.J. Styles!” Orton scored a two count back in the ring, then settled into his obligatory mid-match chinlock. Lawler said Randy threatened to run away from home once and his parents told him to put it in writing. Styles came back and set up a piledriver. Orton escaped and went for an RKO. Styles blocked it, but Styles then hit a snap powerslam for a two count. Orton set up a DDT off the middle rope. Styles blocked it and rolled up Orton into a Calf Crusher. Orton reached the bottom rope. Styles teased a Phenomenal Forearm. Orton teased an RKO, but Styles held up and Orton landed hard. Styles then landed a springboard 450 for a near fall. Orton came back with a backbreaker a minute later to take over. Orton gave Styles an uppercut and knocked him to the ring apron.
Orton then delivered a superplex. He crawled over and scored a one count. Orton then delivered a DDT off the middle rope. He looked to the crowd and raised his arms. He got a nice pop from a lot of fans. He circled the ring called for the RKO. Then he turned and stomped the mat, but Styles recovered and took Orton down with an enzuigiri. Styles rolled up Orton for a two count, but Orton popped up and hit the RKO for a near fall. Lawler said, “It’s over” just before the kickout. Orton set up a superplex next again. He shifted into position for an RKO off the middle rope. Styles dropped down and landed an enzuigiri. Orton fell to the floor. Styles then landed a flying Phenomenal Forearm off the top rope. He threw Orton back into the ring and went for a Phenomenal Forearm, but Orton blocked it. Styles knocked Orton throat-first over the top rope and then landed the Phenomenal Forearm for the win.
WINNER: Styles in 16:00. (***)
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. Of course, three stars. Orton, the B- Player, landed right at three stars here with Styles. It was fine.)
(3) THE USOS vs. THE BAR (Sheamus & Cesaro) vs. RICOCHET & ALEISTER BLACK vs. SHINSUKE NAKAMURA & RUSEV (w/Lana) – WWE Smackdown Tag Team Title match
A couple minutes in Ricochet popped the crowd with a surge of offense, but Cesaro knocked him down quickly and then did the Cesaro Swing. It went on and on and on as Sheamus battered Black to prevent him from making the save. Cesaro then applied a sharpshooter mid-ring. Eventually Jimmy Uso broke it up. Jey clotheslined Sheamus over the top rope. Rusev tagged Cesaro’s back and entered the ring. Black also tagged in.
Black rallied and scored a two count, broken up by Shinsuke Nakamura. Ricochet tagged in and went after Rusev, but Rusev caught him and slammed him hard for a two count. Eventually they set up a big tower spot with everyone, with Ricochet on the top. He ended up landing on his feet. Ricochet leaped off the top rope with a 630 on Sheamus. Cesaro, Rusev, and Nakamura all broke up the cover. Jey Uso tagged himself in but Cesaro caught him mid-air with an uppercut Jimmy superkicked Cesaro. Rusev kicked him. Black kicked him. Nakamura kicked Black. Sheamus then hit a Brogue Kick and yelled to the crowd. When he turned, Jey went for a superkick. Sheamus blocked it. Both Usos stereo superkicked him. They positioned Sheamus mid-ring and then perched on opposite turnbuckles and landed stereo splashes for the three count.
WINNERS: Usos in 10:00 to retain the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Titles. (***)
(Keller’s Analysis: Lots of action. As usual with this many wrestlers, it’s more about the spots than telling a usual story. The feel-good evening continues with a third babyface victory in a row on the main card.)
-A Hall of Fame video package aired. Then the new Hall of Famers gathered on the stage.
-A video package aired on the Shane McMahon-Miz storyline.
(4) SHANE MCMAHON vs. THE MIZ – Falls Count Anywhere
Shane came out first. Then Miz came out without any family members. As soon as the bell rang, Shane bailed out to ringside. He ran from Miz, then jumped him as soon as he entered the ring. When Shane ran again, Miz chased him. Shane punched him out of mid-air as he was leaping toward him over the barricade. Shane threw Miz back into the ring. He threw him shoulder-first into the ringpost. Graves said Shane has been a step ahead the whole way. Shane rammed Miz with a monitor, then climbed to the top rope. Miz’s dad stepped between them to protect his son. Graves said the guy’s nuts.
Shane dropped down from the top rope. Miz’s dad followed Shane into the ring and put up his fists. Shane showed him proper positioning of the fists. Then Shane attacked him with a flying knee and some kicks. Miz charged into the ring like Davey Boy Smith Jr. last night and pounded away at Shane. Miz aggressively went at Shane at ringside, throwing him over the barricade into the crowd. Then he checked on his dad and called for medical help. Miz turned and charged and leaped onto Shane in the crowd. They brawled deeper into the crowd.
Miz bashed Shane across his back with a chair. Then Miz threw him onto an announce desk. The beating continued with a slam through a table and a near fall on the floor. Miz bashed Shane with a monitor and sent him bumping over a railing and onto the roof of a golf cart and then slipped to the floor about eight feet down. Miz scored a near fall. The beating continued onto a tech area platform. Miz delivered a Skull Crushing Finale. That was good for a near fall. Miz then knocked Shane over the barricade onto another platform. Shane bashed Miz with a metal case and then climbed the scaffolding. Miz grabbed at his leg, but Shane kicked him off. Shane made it to the top of the camera platform. Miz met him up there and gave him a death stare. Shane apologized and said he was so sorry. He kneeled and kept apologizing. Miz milked the moment, then punched away at Shane. Miz tried to throw Shane off the top. Graves said that was going too far. Miz set up a superplex and then delivered it. They landed on a landing platform below which gave in upon landing. Fans chanted “Holy sh–!” Shane landed on Miz and the ref made the three count. The announcers said Miz’s emotions got the best of him. They replayed the superplex in slo-mo from several angles. Graves said Shane can still claim to be the Best in the World.
WINNER: Shane in 15:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: That delivered. Shane with an early advantage from being sneaky, then Miz with sustained offense leading to a big spot and a fluke win for Shane. A good payoff match at WrestleMania that gives Shane bragging rights, as absurd as the merits of the bragging will be.)
-A commercial aired for the May 19 “Money in the Bank” PPV event.
(5) BAYLEY & SASHA BANKS vs. NIA JAX & TAMINA vs. THE IICONICS (Billy Kaye & Peyton Royce) vs. BETH PHOENIX & NATALYA (w/Bret Hart) – WWE Women’s Tag Team Title match
Paige joined Cole and Renee at ringside. Cole asked about the Women’s Tag Match, but Paige talked about the main event later and said she hopes Becky Lynch wins. Then Cole asked her about this match. She picked Nia Jax to win. Cole noted the (absolutely ridiculous) no-DQ rules (or lack thereof) in effect for this Fatal Four-way. Renee noted the (absolutely ridiculous) fact that the champs don’t need to be involved in the finish to lose their titles.
A few minutes in Phoenix tagged in and battled Bayley. Natalya tagged in and hit the Hart Attack clothesline on Royce. Bayley made the save. Then Royce crawled over to the corner where Sasha tagged herself in. Bayley saved Sasha from a double-team. Natalya put Sasha and Bayley in a double sharpshooter mid-ring. Tamina ran back into the ring and superkicked Natalya in the side of the head. Phoenix ran in to go after Tamina. Jax showed up and helped take down Phoenix. Jax headbutted Phoenix and threw her to the floor. The IIconics went after Tamina and Jax, but they caught them and gave them Samoan Drops. Then they shifted back after Sasha and Bayley. They dropped them both in opposite corners and then set up stereo splashes off the top rope. Phoenix shoved Jax off the top to the floor. Tamina went after Phoenix at ringside, but Natalya and Phoenix knocked them down. Bayley and Sasha then hit Phoenix with a sequence of moves including a frog splash by Sasha for a near fall.
Phoenix delivered a Glam Slam off the top rope on Bayley, but Billie Kaye knocked her out of the ring and stole the pin.
WINNERS: The IIconics in 11:00 to capture the WWE Women’s Tag Team Titles. (**1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: It was fine for what it was, with some big spots and noteworthy title change finish. That said, a fatal four-way format doesn’t lend itself to telling a cohesive story in the ring as it turns into a bit of a spotfest, or has the forced stretches of time where several wrestlers are resting at ringside. This had all of that, too.)
-They showed the helicopters flying over the stadium earlier. Then they showed the pilots who flew them earlier. They were at ringside. They are from the Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 773.
-A video package aired on Daniel Bryan and Kofi Kingston. Their images were shown projected on the Empire State Building.
-A long video package aired on the Kingston-Bryan saga.
(6) DANIEL BRYAN (w/Erick Rowan) vs. KOFI KINGSTON (w/Big E, Xavier Woods) – WWE Title match
New Day came to the ring together. Xavier threw a single handful of pancakes to the crowd. Big E arrived and gyrated for the hard camera. Xavier played the trombone. Saxton and Graves sung the praises of Kofi for being a great person and really helpful and gracious behind the scenes. Big E showed Kofi a blue box with ribbons on it. He said it was a gift for him after the match. (The metal and leather title belt?) Daniel Bryan then came out with Erick Rowan. Graves said Bryan likes to use his WWE Title reign to get a pulpit to spread his message. Saxton said he likes to tell people how to live their lives. Graves complimented the organic title belt Bryan had commissioned.
Fans were alive for this one, chanting “KofiMania!” as the match began. The match began 2:20 into the main show and 4:20 since the Kickoff Show began. Kofi dropkicked Bryan out of the ring a minute in, then leaped over the top rope onto Bryan on the floor. Bryan regrouped with Rowan at ringside. Back in the ring Bryan caught Kofi in mid-air on a leapfrog attempt and then set up a submission on the mat.
Kofi came back and landed the Boom Drop. Kofi slidekicked Bryan to the floor. When he leaped at Bryan, Bryan moved and Kofi landed on the desk. Back in the ring Bryan began sustained offense against Bryan. They cut to the locker room where wrestlers had gathered and were applauding for Kofi. After several more minutes of Bryan in control, Bryan went for a back suplex off the top rope. Kofi elbowed out of it and then leaped with a splash to back of Bryan. He scored a two count. They showed wrestlers backstage reacting.
Fans started a “New… Day Rocks!” chant. Kofi leaped at Bryan off the middle rope, but Bryan rolled through. He shifted into a LeBell lock. Kofi escaped and charged at Bryan, but Bryan lifted his knees. Bryan smiled and kneeled. He began a Yes Chant with a taunting facial expression. When he went for it, Kofi ducked and leveraged Bryan’s shoulders down. Bryan escaped at a two. Bryan then countered an S.O.S. with a LeBell Lock. Bryan elbowed Kofi’s ribs a few times, then reapplied the hold. Graves said there is no escape. Kofi put his toe on the bottom rope to force a break. Bryan fired back with Yes Kicks to Kofi’s chest. Kofi no-sold it and stood up and then kicked back at Bryan. They exchanged kicks. The crowd erupted with cheers as Kofi countered a kick and rolled Bryan into an inverted face-plant suplex for a near fall. Bryan rolled to the floor.
Kofi pursued Bryan at ringside. Rowan got in his path. Xavier leaped at Rowan, but Rowan clawed his head and threw him into the announce table. Rowan then fended off Big E. Kofi gave Rowan a Trouble in Paradise kick. Big E then lifted Rowen and Kofi delivered a Midnight Hour on the floor. Bryan dove through the ropes, but Kofi intercepted him with a forearm. The crowd stood and cheered as Kofi went for a Trouble in Paradise, but Bryan ducked and then landed his flying knee for a believable near fall. They showed the gathering of wrestlers backstage reacting. Bryan sat up in disbelief. Bryan then methodically applied another LeBell Lock mid-ring. Kofi refused to tap. Bryan crossface forearmed him and locked it on again. Kofi powered out and then went after Bryan, but Bryan applied an armlock. They wrestled for position. Kofi mounted Bryan and punched away at him. Then he stood over him and stomped on his head over and over. He let out a yell and showed fire. Big E and Xavier pounded the ring to lead a “New… Day Rocks!” chant. Kofi landed Trouble in Paradise for the three count. The crowd was elated. Xavier and Big E joined Kofi in celebrating.
WINNER: Kingston in 24:00 to capture the WWE Title. (****)
(Keller’s Analysis: A really good match. Straight forward, with the heel getting a sustained beatdown and eventually the babyface scoring a clean win with a finishing move. WWE is doing the right thing with finishes tonight, and yes in some cases there just is a “right thing” when it comes to finishes.)
-Afterward, Xavier and Big E looked at the wooden WWE Title belt and said no way. They set it aside and then revealed the leather and metal one. Xavier presented it to Kofi who held it up mid-ring. Saxton said this is a symbol of accomplishing your goals and achieving your dreams if you believe and persist. Fireworks blasted as Kofi celebrated on the second turnbuckle. He said there isn’t a more deserving individual. His young sons came in and celebrated with them. One of them held the belt up, although he was so young, he needed help. Big E then brought the gift box into the ring. The kids eagerly helped him open it. Inside were t-shirts with Kofi as WWE Champion. The kids stood on the second turnbuckles and showed off the shirts.
(Keller’s Analysis: Those shirts alone will probably pay for both of those kids’ college educations. Those t-shirts, unfortunately, were released online before the match ended, giving away the finish to some who were hoping to be left in suspense.)
-They aired a clip of the finish of the Andre Battle Royal.
-Backstage Bliss said she is sorry about what happened, but assured them that Braun is really a nice guy and she tried working things out between them. Jost told Che it’s his fault. Che told him he should have kept his mouth shut. Bliss said they’re in excellent hands. Behind them Scott Hall and Kevin Nash approached in doctor’s outfits. Nash put on rubber gloves and gave them a sinister look as Hall patted them on the shoulders.
(7) SAMOA JOE vs. REY MYSTERIO JR. – U.S. Title match
Booker T was out to do guest commentary for the next match. Phillips noted that this was Joe’s first WrestleMania match. Joe gave Rey a running kick to the head and then some headbutts. Rey went for a springboard head scissors and landed a 619. Rey climbed to the top rope and leaped at Joe, but Joe avoided him and applied a Coquina Clutch. Rey’s arm dropped and he called for the bell. Booker said Rey wasn’t 100 percent, but he wrestled to represent his country. (The United States?)
WINNER: Joe in 1:00 to retain the U.S. Title.
(Keller’s Analysis: I like Joe getting a dominant fast win. If Rey was too injured to go long, this is a good way to get something out of that – which is a strong win for Joe.)
-A commercial aired for Batista’s next movie.
-A video package aired on Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns.
(8) ROMAN REIGNS vs. DREW MCINTYRE
Drew came out first. The announcers talked him up. Then Reigns came out. Hard to tell on TV what the response was. Cole talked up Reigns and said he was a near unstoppable force since returning to WWE. He got an elaborate fireworks show rivaling Kofi’s for his WWE Title win. Kofi and Drew faced off. Drew slapped Drew hard before Drew could land his first punch.
After several methodical minutes of Drew on offense, Reigns fought back by knocking a trash-talking Drew off balance on the top rope. Reigns headbutted Drew upside down. Drew sat up and overhead tossed Reigns to the mat. Drew sat up. Renee said that’s a place where Roman needed to capitalize, but he failed. Drew went back to trash-talking Roman, saying he gave him an opportunity to get out of this match, but he refused to quit. Drew set up a butterfly suplex suplex and yelled “This one is for Ambrose!” Reigns blocked it, but Drew slapped him. Reigns shook off the snap and began huffing and puffing a bit. He adjusted his jaw and then nailed Drew with a hard clothesline. Drew rolled to ringside, then yanked Reigns to ringside. Reigns gave him a Samoan drop on the floor. Back in the ring Reigns delivered a flying clothesline and then signaled for the Superman Punch. Drew avoided it and headbutted Reigns. Reigns then landed a Superman Punch. Not much response. Reigns looked up and then yelled for the spear. He speared Drew for the win.
WINNER: Reigns in 9:00. (*3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Ehh. The response to Reigns was at best just sort of there. Some cheers, some boos, and it seemed a lot of indifference. The match was paced in a way that reenforced that indifference, although it seemed designed in Vince McMahon’s fantasy as a relentless heel beat down with a chance for the crowd to explode when Roman went into his comeback routine. It didn’t happen. It was a match that did nothing to get fans who weren’t really excited about Roman any more excited that this is some new chapter for him. For Drew, it defined him down a notch, although losing to Vince’s favorite top act shouldn’t be seen that way, I suppose. I think what we learned is both Roman and Drew are better facing wrestlers more different than each other, not this similar. It was just bland. I guess I should be happy there were so few Superman Punches at least.)
-A Money in the Bank PPV ad aired.
-Elias played piano on the big screen. Then he was shown in an optical illusion playing drums too next to the piano. And then the spotlight shifted to the ring where he was playing guitar. He told fans he was about to do something that has never been done before. He played guitar as a video aired of him playing piano and drums on the stage. “Wow!” said Renee. Elias said he’s very impressive. He complimented the big screen versions of himself. He asked the other two versions to stand up and take a bow. He then talked on and on leading to “WWE stands for…” and the crowd responded. He then said he was ready for his first song. Wait, didn’t he just play his first song as a trio?
A video then played on Babe Ruth. Elias was then interrupted by John Cena’s “Thugonomics” song. Old school Cena came out. He thankfully had the baseball cap on backwards to cover up that awful JBL haircut. “Yo yo yo yo, kill the beat, kill the beat, kill the beat,” he said. Fans chanted “Cena! Cena!” He said: “The Doctor of Thugonomcis is back and Elias got the worst deal because John Cena’s about to turn heel.” He added, “I feel like I’m watching one of my movies because this whole damn thing sucks.” Cena said he’s not feeling “Walk with Elias.” he said without the guitar, what it really means is Wasted Wrestling Experiment. He said his style is pitfall, whereas Elias isn’t even half a dog, he’s a little piece of shih-tzu. A picture of Elias’s head on a small dog showed up on the big screen. He said he’d ask him to do a duet, but he showed he likes to play with himself. Cena said they call him the golden shovel, “so I’m about to bury you push.” HE closed with: “Your face looks like my nuts, but except you got a harrier bush.” Elias took off his jacket. Cena said it’s about time for him to leave, so there will be no AA today, but he’s about to get the FU. He punched Elias in the head with the mic and posed. Then he waved his hand in front of his face and landed the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Elias stood, and Cena gave him the FU. “Word Life” played again and he strutted to the back.
(Keller’s Analysis: It’s no coincidence that Triple H vs. Batista got booked after a 30 minute span since the last match ended and a segment of comedy. If anyone has the pull to have a refreshed crowd, it’s these two.)
(9) TRIPLE H vs. BATISTA – No Holds Barred
Shawn Michaels came out on commentary. A black SUV drove onto the stage. Men in a black suits and sunglasses lined up on the stage and Batista popped out of the back and walked to the ring. He spit and turned around, showing off the tattoos on his back. He let out a couple yells and entered the ring, catching his leg on the middle rope as he entered on all fours like an animal. He recovered nicely. Batista walked over to the announce desk and mouthed off to Michaels. Michaels said this has nothing to do with him. The costar of Batista’s movie coming out this summer was standing in the front row behind the announcers wearing a shirt with a giant picture of Batista’s face on it. He re-entered the ring, gingerly this time, without a stumble. He smiled. He stood on the second rope and looked back at the stage. Michaels said there is nothing harder than coming back after a long time off because “the only way to do this stuff is repetition.”
Triple H’s ring entrance then took place, with an elaborate video that was a play on the “Mad Max” movies. Then he was driven out in a vehicle with skulls and torches and chains. His regular entrance theme then played once he got out of the vehicle at ringside. Cole talked about Batista beating Triple H in their three PPV matches. Michaels is one of the most intimidating men you’ll ever see, but Triple H is the biggest of big-time players. Graves said there is no shortcut that Triple H won’t use to beat The Animal tonight. Cole said Triple H hasn’t been in the ring since tearing his pec while Batista has been training for months for this match.
The bell rang and Batista charged at Hunter and drove him into the corner a few times. Batista threw Hunter into the announce table on the floor. Triple H dove off the table and tackled Batista into the side of the ring. Michaels gasped as Batista hit the side of the ring hard. Batista looked already blown up. Hunter nailed Batista with a toolbox from the time keeper’s area. Batista went down, wincing in pain. Hunter whipped Batista into the ringside steps next. Cole said Triple H wants to maim The Animal. Michaels said he’s known Hunter so long, he forgot how mean he is. Hunter grabbed channel locks (pliers) and then isolated his hand and signaled he was going to snap off his fingers. He put his fingers in it, twisted his arm back, and stomped on the fingers on the base of the steps.
Hunter then picked up a chair. He pulled out a needle-nose pliers. Then he bashed Batista across his back with a chair. Hunter set a chair over his throat and sat on the chair, then yanked out his nose ring. Michaels said this is a lesson to kids that they shouldn’t get piercings. Hunter held up a nose ring to show it off. Hunter then leaped off the steps with a fist wrapped in a chain, but Batista side-stepped him and then slammed him on the announce table.
They replayed the nose ring being yanked out and Cole said it was sick. Batista beat up Triple H at ringside, then scored a two count in the ring. Hunter avoided a charging Batista, so Batista went shoulder-first into the ringpost. Hunter then set up a Pedigree, but Batista powered out and slammed Hunter backwards for a two count. Batista put the top of the ringside steps on the Spanish announce table, then cleared the English table. He then lifted Hunter onto the steps. He set up the Batista Bomb, but Hunter backdropped out of it. Batista landed on the other table with a thud. Triple H then speared Batista off of one table and onto the German table. They rolled around on the floor to catch their breath for a long time. Hunter then pulled out a sledgehammer. He entered the ring, but was met by a Batista spear for a near fall.
Batista then picked up the spear, but Hunter kicked it out of his hands. As Hunter charged, Batista delivered a spinebuster. He gave Hunter a Batista Bomb next. Hunter kicked out. Batista brought the base of the ring steps into the ring. Batista then placed Hunter on the top rope. Hunter punched back, but Batista mounted him in the corner and got the better of their exchanges. Hunter slipped down, though, and then powerbombed Batista on the base of the steps. He stood right away and ate a Pedigree for a near fall. That’s a crazy kickout given the impact of the powerbomb and Hunter’s finisher. Hunter charged at Batista with the sledgehammer, but Batista avoided it and managed to DDT Hunter onto the steps. Hunter flipped over onto the mat on the other side of the steps. Graves said neither of these wrestlers will be the same after this. Ric Flair then came to ringside and handed Hunter another sledgehammer. Hunter then leaped off the steps with a sledgehammer and hit Batista in the head. Then he delivered a Pedigree for the win.
WINNER: Triple H in 25:00. (**1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: I was ready to really dislike this as it went longer and it just dragged in the final third – and at times in the first two-thirds it moved at such a slow speed – but some of the bigger spots in the final stanza looked good and were dramatic and had the crowd gasping. The finish with Flair paying back Batista was a good full-circle justice finish. I wouldn’t blame someone for disliking this for being bloated and plodding and self-indulgent, but I could also see someone thinking I underrated it at under three stars. I wasn’t a fan of the tools, but I think a lot of people will actually love that part of it. Michaels was good on commentary and added to the match.)
-Backstage Alexa Bliss showed off the t-shirts that Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel were waring that were made with 100 percent confidence Bryan would retain his title tonight. It said, “Daniel Bryan: Still the Planet’s Champion” with the WrestleMania logo on it. When Bo and Curtis danced and sang, Ron Simmons walked in and said “Damn!”
-JBL joined Cole and Graves at ringside as his music played.
(10) KURT ANGLE vs. BARON CORBIN – Angle’s retirement match
Angle got in some early offense. Cole talked with JBL about knowing when you can’t do it anymore and when it’s time to retire. JBL said Angle is at that point, and he talked with him about it earlier in the day. Angle applied an ankle lock. Corbin powered out. Corbin gave Angle a sudden Deep Six for a near fall. Angle came back with an Angle Slam for a near fall. Angle dropped his straps and applied an ankle lock. Corbin yelled out in pain. Fans made a tapping motion in the crowd. Cole said this would be so humiliating and embarrassing for Corbin after all the trash-talking he’s done. Corbin rolled out of it and sent Angle face-first into the corner turnbuckle. Corbin waved his hand in front of his face and said, “Kurt, you can’t see me!” Corbin said that’s because Corbin knows how many people wants Cena to be Angle’s final opponent. Angle gave back with a series of three unreleased German suplexes. Angle then climbed to the top rope and went for a moonsault. Fans stood and cheered. Corbin moved. Corbin then gave Angle his End of Days and scored the three count. Fans looked stunned.
WINNER: Corbin in 6:00. (*1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Solid six minute match all things considered. Fans were stunned, but the way WWE gave Angle some feel-good wins on TV leading up to this, and given the curious positioning of Corbin in this match in the first place given how much of a fan Vince is of Corbin, this finish makes sense. Vince wants Corbin to have bragging rights for years to come that he retired Angle.)
-Angle gave a brief speech. He said he had the time of his life the last 20 years. He thanked the fans and said he wanted to hear those two words. His music played. Fans chanted “You suck!” The director showed a fan in the front row holding a sign that said, “You Never Sucked.”
(11) BOBBY LASHLEY (w/Lio Rush) vs. “THE DEMON” FINN BALOR – Intercontinental Title match
Lashley came out first. Then Balor did his elaborate Demon ring entrance. Balor got in early offense and threw Lashley to the floor. He flip dove onto Lashley on the floor. Rush backed away. Balor threw Lashley back into the ring. Lashley took over and knocked Balor hard off the ring apron with a running clothesline. He rammed Balor hard into the ringside barricade. Balor fired back with a sling blade at ringside. He growled and then dropkicked Lashley into the barricade. Lashley leaped through the ropes and speared Balor off the ring apron hard to the floor. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” yelled Cole, who was losing his voice by this point. Back in the ring Balor hit another spear and Cole declared, “The legend of The Demon is over.” Balor kicked out. Balor countered a Lashley powerbomnb attempt with a powerbomb of his own. Then he climbed to the top rope and landed his Coup de Gras for the win.
WINNER: Balor in 4:00 to capture the IC Title. (*3/4)
-Bliss walked onto the stage and announced attendance of 82,265. More fireworks. Bliss said now it’s time for a dance break.
-A WrestleMania 36 commercial aired for Tampa, Fla. with a pirate theme. A commercial also aired for “Miz & Mrs.”
-A long video package previewed the main event.
(12) CHARLOTTE vs. RONDA ROUSEY vs. BECKY LYNCH – Raw and Smackdown Titles at stake
Charlotte flew into the parking area of Met Life Stadium in a helicopter. She stepped out, had help putting her robe and feather headpiece on, and strutted into the arena. Mike Rome then began announcements for the “Winner Takes All Triple Threat Match.” His mic faded mid announcement. Even the speakers got tired and went home. Joan Jett & The Blackhearts performed Rousey’s theme live on the stage. Rousey then made her way to the ring looking very serious. It’s 5 minutes before the END OF SUNDAY in New York at this point. Charlotte then came out to her music. Graves talked about how Then Becky made her entrance without any special fanfare other than her entrance theme. It’s all that was needed. Cole talked about the small ripple that became a ground swell and now has “overtaken the world.” Rome did the ring introductions and his mic was back working.
The bell rang Monday morning at 12:01 a.m. Becky went after Ronda at the start and tired a disarm her as Charlotte watched. Ronda fired back with punches and a kick. Becky rolled to the floor, then caught a charging Charlotte with some round kicks. Charlotte rolled to the floor. Rousey lifted and drove Becky hard into the ringside barricade. Then Ronda gave Charlotte her Piper’s Pit on the floor. Becky shoved Rousey into the ringpost. Charlotte gave Rousey an overhead slam into the ringside barricade.
Back in the ring Becky and Charlotte went after each other with an exchange of forearms and punches. Charlotte went after Becky’s arm, but Becky leveraged Charlotte’s shoulders down. Then she set up a figure-four, letting our a “wooo!” first. Charlotte kicked her off. Rousey rolled back into the ring and kicked Becky and Charlotte. She went back after Rousey. Charlotte kneed Rousey and then kicked her in the head. Charlotte and Becky lifted and then powerbombed Rousey over the top rope. Rousey held onto Charlotte’s arm, though. Becky kicked Rousey off of Charlotte and Rousey landed on the back of her shoulders and could’ve easily landed on the back of her head as her butt her the edge of the ring on the way down, changing her expected trajectory.
That freed up Charlotte and Becky to wrestle for a while one-on-one. Then Becky applied a disarm her, Rousey re-entered and broke it up. Rousey applied an armbar on Becky, but Charlotte broke it up quickly with a running knee. Fans began chanting “Becky! Becky!” Charlotte covered Rousey and got a two count. Charlotte chopped away at Rousey. Rousey got mouthy and said she “slaps like a bitch.” Charlotte gave her a backhand cross the face. Rousey leaped at Charlotte and went for an armbar. Charlotte leveraged Rousey into a camel clutch instead. Becky gave Charlotte a bulldog from behind to break that up. Becky set up an inverted DDT. Charlotte walked into her arms, so she gave Charlotte a regular DDT at the same time as a Rousey inverted DDT. She scored two counts on each.
Becky gave Charlotte a Bexploder suplex off the middle rope for a near fall. Rousey leaped onto both. They both lifted her and gave her a tandem powerbomb. They delivered a second tandem powerbomb. And then a third. They released Ronda and went after each other. Charlotte threw Becky out and then ran over and covered Rousey for a near fall. Becky knocked Charlotte not the floor and then applied a disarmher on Rousey. Rousey rolled around, but Becky held on. Rousey crawled over to the bottom rope and used it to lift Becky and escape. Becky applied the armbar while sitting on the top rope. Charlotte kicked Becky in the face.
Charlotte stood on the top rope and dove off with a Becky in her arms and they crashed hard to the mat with a Spanish fly. Charlotte scored a near fall. Rousey entered. Charlotte gave her a suplex. Becky broke up the cover and went for a disarm her. Charlotte rammed Becky’s face into the middle turnbuckle. Charlotte then wrapped Rousey’s leg around the ringpost and then applied a figure-four. Rousey cried out in pain. Becky broke it up with a kick. Charlotte threw Becky hard into the ringside barricade. Charlotte went for a figure-four, but Rousey rolled her up for a believable near fall. Charlotte then put Rousey in a figure-four. She bridged into a figure-eight. That got a rise out of the crowd, m but Becky leaped off the top rope with a leg drop to break it up.
Becky pulled a table out form under the ring. Fans cheered. She slid it into the ring. She set up the table as Rousey clutched her knee and Charlotte sold at ringside. Charlotte attacked Becky and put her on the table. Charlotte set up a superplex, but Rousey shoved her to the floor. Rousey tipped the table over and shouted, “Tables are for bitches!” Cole said, “Ronda said she doesn’t need a table.” Renee said, “That’s not quite what she said.” Becky countered Piper’s Pit, but Becky countered with an armbar attempt. Charlotte speared both of them and then scored a two count on Becky. She scored a two count on Rousey next. Charlotte leaned the table in the corner. She grabbed Charlotte and yelled out something about “fake” and then rammed her face into the table a few times. Becky went after Charlotte, but Charlotte speared her for another two count. Cole’s voice grew more hoarse with every near fall.
Charlotte charged at Becky and Rousey, but they worked together to throw Charlotte into the table. Rousey and Lynch then circled each other. They wildly threw punches at each other. Becky gave Becky a flying knee. Becky looked like she was out. Rousey lifted her with help of the ropes to stand. She gave Becky a Piper’s Pit, but Becky leveraged Rousey’s shoulders down and scored a three count. Rousey protested that her shoulders weren’t down. Fireworks blasted as Becky celebrated with both belts. A replay showed that Rousey’s shoulders were clearly not down at one, but they were down at two and three. Maybe the ref started counting too quickly and Rousey planned to left her shoulder a bit at three, but the third count never came because the ref started a bit early. The announcers quickly talked about it as if it was an angle they were anticipating. This gives off the impression this was supposed to be a controversy. What’s interesting is they went to two replays, and the second replay cut out the first count where Rousey’s shoulders were clearly not down and maybe it was too obvious. They went to a wide shot of the arena as her music played. Then they faded to black.
WINNER: Becky in 25:00 to become both Raw & Smackdown Champion. (****1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: That was non-stop drama. I’m not going to mark it down because it was so late in the night and everyone was tired. That was just a hell of a match. Great pacing throughout. Hard-hitting. It felt like all three desperately wanted to win.)
— Wade Keller (@thewadekeller) April 8, 2019