Rushonrock’s King of the Ring Andy Spoors is back on home soil replete with exclusive interviews and memories to last a lifetime. And he’s finally had time to reflect on a Wrestlemania written in the stars…
The Wrestlemania dust has finally settled after a record-breaking seven hour extravaganza of wrestling saw new champions crowned, careers end and legends return.
Now in its 35th incantation, Mania has always been more than just a wrestling pay per view. The first handful of events attracted huge celebrity and cultural names such as Muhammed Ali, Mr T, Andy Warhol, Cyndi Lauper and Danny Devito.
Whether it be the bright lights, the fireworks or sheer noise the event brings, it is difficult to pinpoint exactly how Wrestlemania produces the scale of pageantry it is able to muster. Simply put, there is no other event like it.
Increased ticket costs that come with hosting events in the New York area did not put off 80,000 plus fans from attending this year’s show. Neither did the potential of ‘wrestling fatigue’. It is worth mentioning that Wrestlemania has now spawned into an almost week-long event in whichever city plays host.
Independent and other mainstream wrestling promotions capitilise on hardcore fans being in one place at the same time by running events in the days running up to Mania. In addition, WWE itself also hosts its annual Hall of Fame ceremony, a five-day fan convention named Axxess, an NXT Takeover PPV, as well as its weekly shows Raw and Smackdown Live. All that within six days in the same city.
Including a two-hour pre show, the idea of seven hours in a relatively uncomfortable stadium seat whilst enduring extortionate stadium-priced refreshments would seem daunting to most. Such was the entertainment on offer and the fast-paced nature of the card, in reality the time flew by.
The running time has bloated from three or four hours into its current length over the years and many fans have complained. The counter argument can easily be made for getting more action for the price of admission.
This year was technically the first Wrestlemania to span two days – the main event finishing well after midnight and subsequently wreaking havoc with fans using public transport (blame being debated between both WWE and New Jersey Transit).
On to the event itself, with two titles changing hands on the Kickoff Show effectively all bets were off for the rest of the night. Curt Hawkins defied the odds with his tag team partner to beat a record-breaking streak of losses and claim the Raw Tag Team Championships, as well as Tony Nese besting Buddy Murphy in a vicious Cruiserweight Championship match to begin his first reign as champion.
A couple of entertaining over the top rope Battle Royals – including two Saturday Night Live hosts, Colin Jost and Michael Che – did little for those in attendance. The infamous New York heckles could unfortunately be heard throughout the night in some sections.
The official start to the show was marked in truly American style, a full choir rendition of America the Beautiful with a stadium flyover by military helicopters. It may be over the top patriotism to some, but it gives a sense of grandeur that some of the biggest sporting events in the world struggle to replicate.
In terms of Mania openings, there are very few that have delivered as quickly as this year’s effort. A surprise appearance by Hulk Hogan, preceded one of the headline bouts of the night. In true heel persona, Brock Lesnar decided if he wouldn’t be the main event then he and his advocate, Paul Heyman, would conclude their business at the top of the show. A typically brutal beat down of Seth Rollins, threatened to become the formulaic squash matches fans have become accustomed to. Thankfully, Rollins recovered to win the WWE Universal Championship and finally deliver a champion that will appear on weekly episodes of Raw. Lesnar may not be everyone’s cup of tea but his matches never fail to get the WWE Universe talking. Even in defeat, this was no exception.
With outdoor events, certain elements are beyond the organisation that goes into each year. As dusk begun to fall, one human consideration had apparently not been factored in. In an effort to add colour and ‘warm up’ the huge audience for television production, bright orange and blue stage lights were projected straight in to the crowd. This may look impressive watching at home, but the effects on the live crowd were hellishly frustrating. The entire AJ Styles vs Randy Orton match was subsequently marred by huge sections of the audience chanting for the lights to be turned off and stadium officials receiving a barrage of abuse all across MetLife Stadium.
A break from staring at blinding lights just above the ring was mercifully granted in the shape of the Falls Count Anywhere match between Shane McMahon and The Miz. Fans have long lamented Shane’s constant matches on the grandest stage of them all, but give the devil his due, the amount of ‘Wrestlemania moments’ created over the last few years is simply incredible for a part time talent. Though the result of the match may not have been what the babyfaced Miz was hoping for, his suplex from a lofty camera rig to the area below will be played in hype videos for the company each and every year. Winning matches is enough for some, but immortalisation is the true goal for any performer in this industry.
Although The Iconics and Finn Balor managed to capture gold and the night would see final WWE matches for a returning Batista and Kurt Angle, the night would truly belong to two Championship matches.
Although the women’s match closed the night out, fans around the stadium had been chanting one man’s name throughout. T-shirts adorned with Kofi Kingston’s face were by far the most popular all weekend in New York. The 11-year veteran of the company finally got his big moment and the noise from the crowd was huge. An emotional moment that took quite a few by surprise, as WWE isn’t scared of making decisions that leave the crowd unhappy. From the very start of his title challenge, the storyline has been perfect. From a comical tag team to a legitimate contender, both Kingston and Bryan, created a memorable feud that fans could genuinely invest in. Kudos to all involved.
Short matches between Reigns and McIntyre, as well as Samoa Joe and Rey Mysterio, ensured the already mammoth run time, did not continue to swell.
The main event of the night, oddly enough had the unenviable task of rousing the crowd. As midnight hit, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts played Ronda Rousey to the ring with a rendition of Bad Reputation. Compared to some of the music acts used at Mania in the last few years (Pitbull, Machine Gun Kelly and Flo Rida) the reception for Jett was pretty impressive.
An arrival in a helicopter for Charlotte stirred memories of her father Ric Flair at Great American Bash a few decades ago and was a nice touch to further press the legitimacy of this main event. Similarly to Kofi, the night would, however, belong to Becky Lynch. With two underdogs already capturing championships, doubt crept in around the stadium in what turned out to be a quite brutal match up. Each Superstar told their own story, with Ronda dominant and willing to take some pretty nasty looking bumps throughout.
If Ronda is indeed now taking some time away from the company, she has certainly left the women’s division better than she found it. Everyone has stepped up their game no more so than the night’s victor, Becky Lynch.
As is always the question after Wrestlemania, what now? Can Becky deliver now she has the Championships she has been pushing for? Will Raw pick up now we have a full-time champion? Is this proof WWE is actively listening to its fans? How can they top this year’s effort in Tampa next year?
A highly enjoyable event for both casual and hardcore fans of WWE programming, Wrestlemania 35 should live long in the memory and high on the lists of all time Manias. There is enough evidence here to suggest any challengers to WWE will have their work cut out for them. When it really matters, on the grandest stage of them all, Vince McMahon knows how to deliver.
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