WrestleMania 34 in 2018 was headlined by a familiar match: Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns. It also featured the in-ring debut of MMA fighting legend Ronda Rousey and Daniel Bryan was back in action after nearly three years out of the ring.
I wrote this live review at home in 2018 and I’ve added updated 2022 thoughts in blue font as well.
The headline matches are Brock Lesnar defending the Universal Championship against Roman Reigns, AJ Styles defending the WWE Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura, Ronda Rousey teaming up with Kurt Angle against Stephanie McMahon & Triple H and Daniel Bryan’s return to the ring after three years as he teams up with Shane McMahon to take on Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens.
WWE WrestleMania 34
Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Louisiana
April 8, 2018
Here are my reviews of the Kickoff Show matches.
The announcers for the men’s battle royal at WrestleMania are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler and Byron Saxton.
Andre the Giant Men’s Battle Royal
There are 30 guys in the match with no surprise entrants. It was main roster guys from Raw and Smackdown. There were no guys from the cruiserweight division. No NXT talent either.
The ring was full of midcard talent. It’s the guys that are not in matches. Aiden English was the first man eliminated. Konnor of the Ascension was next out even though they didn’t really show it and Fandango dumped Curt Hawkins out. R-Truth did some dancing in front of Goldust and Goldust dumped his former partner out. Goldust did a dab celebration after it, which drew some laughs. Mike Kanellis dumped out Primo and then Kanellis was dumped out shortly after. Tyler Breeze landed on the apron to avoid elimination and Shelton Benjamin hit him with a knee to knock Breeze out. Viktor of the Ascension was dumped out. It was nice to see Scott Dawson and Dash Wilder working together like the great team they are. Ziggler missed a corner splash on Ryder and Ryder went for a Broski Boot, but Rawley with a Pounce attack that eliminated Ryder, who is his former partner. Karl Anderson was eliminated by Chad Gable and Luke Gallows was kicked out of the ring by Titus O’Neil.
A commercial aired promoting WrestleMania.
The Revival duo worked together to eliminate Apollo. Shelton Benjamin and Rhyno were both dumped. Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson were eliminated by Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel. Kane grabbed Dallas and Axel by the throat and Kane dumped them out. John Cena was shown in the crowd. Baron Corbin dumped Sin Cara out onto the other guys already on the floor. Kane punched Fandango to eliminate him. Corbin eliminated Heath Slater. Ziggler jumped off the ropes, O’Neil caught him, but Ziggler escaped and hit a superkick. Ziggler eliminated O’Neil with a clothesline. Goldust hit powerslams on Ziggler and Dillinger. Goldust nailed his Shattered Dreams kick on Dillinger and Ziggler eliminated Goldust with a back body drop. Matt Hardy had a face off with Dillinger doing the ten gestures and Hardy yelling “delete” at him. Hardy with a Twist of Fate and he dumped out Dillinger. Kane dumped Ziggler out. Corbin snuck up behind Kane and dumped him out.
The final three were Baron Corbin, Mojo Rawley and Matt Hardy, so it’s Hardy and two winners of this match previously. Rawley slammed Hardy to the mat. Bray Wyatt’s entrance graphic was shown, then the shot was back in the ring and Wyatt was standing in the ring. Wyatt tossed Rawley into Hardy and Hardy dumped Rawley out to eliminate him. Corbin hit the End of Days on Wyatt. Corbin went over to Hardy and Hardy dumped Corbin over the top to eliminate him. That was anticlimactic. The match went 15:45.
Winner: Matt Hardy
Analysis: *1/2 Boring match for most of it without a lot of memorable moments. I’ll give them credit for an interesting finish since Matt Hardy and Bray Wyatt had a rivalry, this was Wyatt’s return and it makes for an intriguing twist in their storyline. Sometimes this match is used to put over young er talent. Not this year. That’s okay because of the Hardy and Wyatt story.
(I definitely didn’t remember Matt Hardy won this.)
After the match, Hardy thanked Wyatt and the fans chanted “thank you Wyatt.” That led to Wyatt hugging Hardy and then Hardy posed with Wyatt in the ring. Hardy went over to the Andre trophy to celebrate with Hardy talking to it because he’s weird.
Analysis: It looks like this is the face turn of Bray Wyatt as most of us expected from this angle. That’s fine with me. Let’s see what he can do as a face.
The Cruiserweight Championship was vacant and here’s the crowning of a new champion at the end of a long tournament. The announcers for this match are the 205 Live announcers Vic Joseph and Nigel McGuinness. Drake Maverick, the GM of 205 Live, was at ringside seated by the title.
Cruiserweight Championship: Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali
They exchanged strikes early on. Alexander with a headscissors takedown followed by a dropkick. Ali was sent out of the ring. Alexander hit a somersault dive over the top to take out Ali on the floor. Alexander with a running uppercut against the turnbuckle and a back body drop for two. Ali got some offense going with two clotheslines, Ali with a kick to the face and a facebuster got a two count for Ali. Spin kick for Ali. The crowd was not into this match much at all. Alexander hit a Spanish Fly (a flipping Rock Bottom) and both guys were down. Great move that barely got a reaction. Alexander picked up Ali and placed him onto to the top rope to crotch him. They battled on the top rope with Ali hitting a Spanish Fly off the top rope. They really like that move. Ali went to the top rope, but Alexander was there to shove him off leading to Ali bumping to the floor and landing on his chest. A split screen WrestleMania promo aired while Ali was on the floor. Alexander brought Ali back into the ring and got a two count.
Alexander went for the Lumbar Check, but Ali got out of it and Ali hit a reverse hurricanrana to spike Alexander. Ali hit a Tornado DDT that Alexander sold great. Ali went up top and the 054 aka the Reverse 450 for a two count and you could tell he hooked the wrong leg immediately because Alexander got his left leg on the bottom rope to kick out. Ali went up for the 054 again, but Alexander moved. They were yelling about how they are the heart and the soul because that was the story going into the match. Alexander hit three back elbows to stun Ali. Alexander picked up Ali and hit the Lumbar Check for the pinfall win at 12:20.
Winner by pinfall and New Cruiserweight Champion: Cedric Alexander
Analysis: **3/4 The match was good with a nice effort from both guys. The crowd didn’t care that much because the cruiserweight division barely gets a reaction from the fans. There was one good nearfall spot with Ali hitting the 054 and Alexander getting his foot on the ropes. At least the Lumbar Check drew a reaction from Alexander. I think Alexander was the obvious choice as the winner.
(This was back when WWE was still trying to get the cruiserweight division going, but it never reached a point where I’d say it became a big deal. The guys worked hard and had good matches. It just wasn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things.)
After the match was over, Alexander hugged Ali around the head and was speaking to him. John Cena was shown in the crowd applauding the wrestlers for their effort. Alexander was presented the Cruiserweight Championship for the first time in his career. He got a hug from Drake Maverick. There were no replays of the match. They cut away quickly. Poor cruiserweights.
The announce team for the women’s battle royal is Michael Cole, Corey Graves, Beth Phoenix and Paige joined them. Lilian Garcia was the guest ring announcer for this match. Cole noted that Paige was injured and Paige said hopefully next year she can be part of it.
Becky Lynch made her entrance to her music. The other women in the battle royal walked down to the ring while Kid Rock’s “New Orleans” theme song played including several women from NXT. After the women made their entrance, Bayley got her full entrance. They aired a clip of the Paige movie again and then Sasha Banks got her televised entrance.
WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal
There are 20 women in this match. Carmella held up the Money in the Bank briefcase in the ring, so the other women worked together, picked up Carmella and they dumped her out with Sonya Deville kicking her followed by a push. Dana Brooke was alone in the middle of the group, she shoved Natalya, told her that’s not nice, they shoved eachother and Brooke was dumped out by Mandy Rose. The six NXT women in the match cleared the ring briefly and chanted “NXT.” Kavita Devi from India slammed Lynch, who was mad at her for wearing orange. Mandy Rose was dumped out by Dakota Kai and Bianca Belair. Belair went up top and hit a 450 Splash on Deville. That was impressive. The NXT women worked together to dump out Sonya Deville.
A commercial aired shilling some WWE toys.
There was a replay of Kairi Sane hitting her amazing elbow. Lana got eliminated by somebody that wasn’t shown. Sarah Logan eliminated Kavita Devi. Liv Morgan kicked Taynara Conti out of the ring. Belair used her ridiculously long hair as a weapon on Lynch and then Lynch came back with a kick to eliminate Belair. Dakota Kail with a running kick on Naomi. Kai went for a kick on Banks, who moved and Banks eliminated Kai. Becky Lynch was eliminated by Mickie James. James battled against the Riott Squad and Riott eliminated her with a forearm when Mickie went up top. Peyton Royce got in some offense, but the Riott Squad worked together and Riott/Morgan kicked Royce together to eliminate her. Natalya hit a double suplex on Logan and Riott at the same time. Bayley worked with Banks to eliminate Natalya and then they Bayley/Banks teamed up to eliminate Liv Morgan. Bayley, Sasha Banks, Sarah Logan and Ruby Riott were left in the ring. Bayley and Bunks dumped Riott out together. Logan tried to fight the girls off, but Banks and Bayley worked together.
Bayley and Sasha Banks had a face off in a moment where they thought they were the final two. Banks extended her hand, Bayley grabbed it and tossed her over the top to the floor to eliminate Banks. The crowd was cheering. Naomi went back into the ring while Bayley was celebrating. The referees told Bayley that Naomi was never eliminated. Naomi hit the Rear View and dumped Bayley out to win the match at 9:50.
Analysis: ** The match was okay and it was better booked than the men’s match in terms of building up to an exciting finish. It was a nice story with Banks working with Bayley to eliminate a bunch of people, but then Bayley turned on Banks to continue their rivalry. Naomi spent half the match on the floor, which is more of a heel move. Naomi is popular, so picking her to win is fine while Bayley and Banks can both be mad about not winning.
Naomi celebrated the win and posed by the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal trophy.
Here’s my review of the full main card that started at 7pm ET/6pm CT.
WrestleMania 34 Main Card
There was a shot of the large crowd. The duo known as Chloe and Halle sang America The Beautiful. They did well. I’ve never heard of them. Was Weird Al booked? Kidding. Maybe. Fans chanted “USA” when the girls were done singing.
The opening video package aired to welcome us to WrestleMania. It set up the key matches for the show.
Seth Rollins was the first man to appear with some flames shooting up for his “burn it down” entrance. Great response for Rollins, who was really fired up.
The Raw announce team of Michael Cole, Corey Graves and Jonathon Coachman welcomed us to the show.
The Miz made his entrance wearing a red jacket/robe outfit and headband. Miz had the Intercontinental Title in his hands. Miz told Bo Dallas to go to the back and he told Curtis Axel to go to the back. Miz told them he had to do it his way.
The Spanish and German commentary teams were shown at ringside with a plug for TJRWrestling.net, which is their favorite website. They may have said something I didn’t understand. I just like to tell you what they should have said.
Finn Balor made his entrance. Balor had rainbow colors on his gear and there were people on the stage with Cole noting they were from the LGBT club of New Orleans. Balor is no longer using the Demon entrance apparently. It was a cool visual to see Balor doing his poses on the turnbuckles with the huge crowd joining him. It is Balor’s first WrestleMania.
Intercontinental Championship: The Miz vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins
All three guys tried rollups early on. Rollins sent Miz out of the ring with a clothesline. Rollins with a kick to Balor, but Balor came back with a clothesline that sent Rollins to the floor. Balor with a sunset flip over the top onto the two guys on the floor. Back in the ring, Balor with a basement dropkick on Miz for two. Rollins got back into the match with a cross body block off the top on Balor. Miz whipped Rollins into the turnbuckle and kicked Balor. There was a shot of John Cena in the crowd watching the match. Rollins nailed a double blockbuster off the ropes onto both guys. Rollins with a running forearm on Miz and Miz came back with a knee on Rollins. Miz with a running clothesline on Balor against the turnbuckle. Miz up top and he hit a double axehandle on Rollins for two. Miz kicked Rollins in the ring and hit the backbreaker/neckbreaker on Balor for a two count. Balor got going on Miz with a double foot stomp and an overhead kick that sent Miz out of the ring. Rollins back in with a Slingblade takedown on Balor. Rollins with a suicide dive on one side of the ring and Rollins went back to give Miz a suicide dive on the other side of the ring. Balor with a Slingblade. Rollins with a superkick on Balor. Miz back in with a snap DDT on Rollins for a two count. Rollins kicked Miz into the turnbuckle and went for a springboard attack, but Miz kicked Rollins to the floor.
Miz wrenched on the left knee of Balor. Miz slapped on the Figure Four Leglock on Balor in the middle of the ring. Rollins was on the top rope and he hit a Frog Splash on Miz that was good enough for a two count. Fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. Rollins teased giving Balor Bomb into the barricade, but Rollins broke free with a Slingblade that took down Rollins. Balor with a dropkick that sent both guys into the barricade. Rollins and Balor battled in the ring with Rollins hitting an enziguri, Balor with an overhead kick and Balor nailed a slam for a two count. Balor up top, but Miz stopped him up there. Rollins got back up and sent Miz into the turnbuckle. Rollins with a superplex for two and went for a Falcon Arrow, but Balor countered with a cradle for two. Miz hit the Skull Crushing Finale on Rollins for a two count. That’s an awesome nearfall. Balor and Miz each got rollups. Balor with a leaping kick on Miz. Balor up top, but Miz tripped him up and crotched Balor. Rollins got back into the picture with a leaping kick on Balor. Miz hit Rollins with a bulldog off the top rope. Balor with another Slingblade followed by a dropkick that sent Miz into the turnbuckle. Balor off the top rope with the Coup de Gras double foot stomp on Miz. When Balor tried to cover, Rollins hit The Stomp on Balor. Rollins hit The Stomp on The Miz as well and Rollins covered for the pinfall win at 15:30.
Winner by pinfall and New Intercontinental Champion: Seth Rollins
Analysis: ****1/4 That was an excellent match with a fast pace and plenty of great nearfalls. It’s pretty rare to see guys kicking out of finishers in the opening match, but this is WrestleMania and that’s why Rollins got to kick out of the Skull Crushing Finale. The amount of time they were given was just right. The finish was well done because it was done in a way where anybody could get the win and happened to be Rollins in this instance. Miz took two finishers to lose the match, so that makes Miz look tough because it took a lot to beat him. I picked Balor to win the match because I thought he could use a title reign, but going with Rollins to give him the Grand Slam of titles (he has won them all) is a nice moment for him. The Miz did a good job as champion. While I enjoyed his most run as IC Champion, I want to see The Miz vs. Daniel Bryan in the near future more than any main roster feud. They can have a great rivalry again.
(Awesome match. Toss it in a pile with a few other opening matches in WrestleMania history that is a contender for second-best opener in WM history after Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart at WrestleMania 10 in 1994. They worked well together, it felt like a big match and had a result that made people happy.)
After the match was over, Seth Rollins celebrated with the IC Title with the crowd going crazy for him.
The commercial aired for the Andre the Giant documentary on HBO on Tuesday at 10pmET.
The Smackdown announce team of Tom Phillips, Corey Graves and Byron Saxton were shown.
A video package aired to set up the Smackdown Women’s Championship match. Asuka won the first ever Women’s Royal Rumble match and chose to challenge Charlotte Flair at WrestleMania, so that’s how they got here. There wasn’t much of a storyline.
Charlotte Flair, the Smackdown Women’s Champion, had a spectacular entrance in gold attire. Her father Ric Flair’s music played. Charlotte emerged on the stage on a throne with a few guys by her side as he guards It was fitting for her since she’s nicknamed The Queen as she likes to remind us. It was like Triple H’s entrance at WrestleMania 30 when Charlotte served as an extra. Ric’s music stopped, Charlotte’s music started and she posed on the ramp as the pyro hit and her guards took her robe.
Analysis: That was a great entrance that was perfect for Charlotte’s character as The Queen and the daughter of Ric Flair.
Asuka made her entrance to a good ovation. They used graphics with lasers and replicas of her mask. That was unique.
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Charlotte Flair vs. Asuka
Asuka worked over Charlotte with kicks and Charlotte did a strut at her. Asuka got out of a Figure Four attempt and hit a running knee attack for two. There was a shot of John Cena sitting in the crowd. Running hip attack by Asuka. When she went for it again, Charlotte grabbed her and Asuka got a rollup for two. Charlotte did a Flair bump in the corner landing on the apron, but Asuka nailed a kick and a hip attack sent Charlotte crashing into the barricade. Back in the ring, Asuka grounded Charlotte with an armbar. Charlotte with a backbreaker and then she slammed Asuka down. Asuka jumped on Charlotte’s back, so Charlotte ran across the ring and fell to her butt to knock Asuka down. Charlotte with a knee to the back of the head of Asuka two times in a row. Charlotte went up top for a moonsault, she jumped off, Asuka avoided it and slapped on an armbar submission. Charlotte turned it into a Boston Crab submission, Asuka countered for a two count and Charlotte got a two count of her own. Asuka pulled Charlotte’s left shoulder into the bottom rope. Asuka went for kicks, Charlotte grabbed her leg and shoved Asuka down. Asuka went for a running hip attack, Charlotte avoided it and kicked Asuka to knock her down.
They battled on the apron. Asuka hit a suplex off the apron onto the floor. That was a rough landing for both women. Charlotte was talking to the ref about something, most likely the next spot or to say that she was okay. They went back into the ring with Asuka utilizing strikes to knock Charlotte down. They went to the top rope and Charlotte did a flipping moonsault into a Rock Bottom aka the Spanish Fly on Asuka. Wow that was amazing and it only got a two count. Charlotte hit the Natural Selection, but Asuka flipped over into a submission where she was pulling back on Charlotte’s arm. Charlotte tried the Figure Four, but Asuka blocked it and Asuka was relentless going for the Asuka Lock. Charlotte rolled through for a two count. Asuka with a kick to the head. Asuka ran the ropes, but Charlotte stopped her with a huge Spear for a two count. Charlotte went for the Figure Four, Asuka kicked her, but Charlotte was relentless in going for the hold. Charlotte slapped on the Figure Eight submission although she couldn’t put her left arm down. Great selling. Asuka tried to fight it, but she couldn’t and Asuka tapped out. Wow. The streak of Asuka is over. It went 13:05.
Winner by submission: Charlotte Flair
Analysis: **** Great match. The psychology in the match was good with Asuka working on Charlotte’s left arm most of the match and it played a part in the finish with Charlotte not using the left arm at the end of the match. I liked some of the unique spots they did with the suplex off the apron onto the floor and the Spanish Fly by Charlotte off the apron. It didn’t go as long as I thought and maybe if they got a few more minutes they could have gone to another level of greatness, but it was still very good for the time given. It’s not like I am saying it was a short match. It was similar to the Charlotte/Banks/Lynch match from WrestleMania two years ago in terms of the match quality. The result of the match was a surprise because I thought Asuka’s undefeated streak would continue. The good thing about the streak ending is they can book Asuka like a normal wrestler now instead of having to book her in a way that protects the streak all the time. It’s not a bad thing for Asuka to lose a match. It also shows how much WWE values Charlotte.
(I remember thinking that it was the perfect amount of time for a match like this. You don’t always need to go 20 minutes. They worked well together, there were moments where Asuka looked like she might win and then Charlotte found a way to get the W. I think some fans were mad that Asuka’s undefeated streak was over. It didn’t really bother me. Something like that can’t last forever.)
The finish drew a huge reaction from the crowd with a lot of cheers. They showed replays and then highlights of fans in the crowd that were shocked by the finish.
Charlotte held up the Smackdown Women’s Title and was given a big ovation from the crowd. Asuka got back to her feet. Asuka grabbed the microphone. Asuka: “Charlotte was ready for Asuka. Congratulations.” The crowd cheered and they hugged.
Analysis: That was a cool moment with Asuka putting over Charlotte in a big way. I’m looking forward to their next match.
There was a referee (Dan Engler) that ran down to ringside and went over to John Cena in the crowd. The ref told Cena that The Undertaker was there, so Cena jumped the barricade and ran up the ramp while Charlotte’s music was playing.
A commercial aired for WWE Shop followed by a commercial for Rocket League.
Bobby Roode made his entrance to his Glorious song. There was nothing special for the entrance, which is a bit of a surprise. They gave him special entrances in his NXT days.
Aiden English appeared on the stage. He shaved his head after the battle royal, which was a good idea because he was losing his hair. It’s okay. He makes it look good. English talked about his buddy, the lion of Bulgaria and how it is Rusev Day. Rusev entered to a good ovation with “Rusev Day” chants for him.
Jinder Mahal made his entrance with Sunil Singh doing the promo to welcome Mahal. The international announcers were shown in the stadium: Portuguese, Russian, Japanese (hey Funaki), Hindi (they’re marking out for Jinder), French, Italian and the Mandarin team.
Randy Orton, the United States Champion, was up next. Good response for The Viper like usual.
United States Championship: Randy Orton vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev (w/Aiden English)
The crowd was hot for Rusev early on of course. Rusev hit a running dive onto Mahal and Orton outside the ring. Roode with boots to the face followed by the Blockbuster on Rusev for a two count. Orton dumped Mahal out of the ring. Roode with chops on Orton and Orton came back with a snap powerslam on Roode. Orton with a superplex on Roode for two as Rusev and Mahal got back in the ring to break up the pin. There was a “Happy Maharaja Day” sign in the crowd. Rusev stomped away on Mahal in the corner. Spinning back suplex by Rusev on Mahal for two. The action went to the floor with Orton sending Rusev back first into the barricade. Mahal kicked Orton to stun him. Back in the ring, Roode hit a spinebuster on Mahal for a two count. Mahal powered out of a DDT attempt, Roode got a pinfall for two as Orton broke up the pin. Orton sent Roode shoulder first into the steel ring post. Rusev avoided the Orton DDT, he hit Orton with two kicks, splash in the corner and Orton ducked a Rusev kick attempt followed by the Orton DDT off the ropes. English went into the ring and Orton hit a RKO on English. RKO connected on Rusev. RKO by Orton on Mahal and Roode went back in to break up the pin. That’s three RKOs in a row by Orton. Roode dumped Rusev out of the ring. Roode avoided a RKO and hit a Glorious DDT for a two count as Mahal broke it up. Rusev with a leaping kick to Roode’s head. Mahal got a rollup on Rusev for two. Rusev nailed a roundhouse kick to Mahal’s head. The fans were mostly quiet for this match, but they fired up chanting “Rusev Day” for him. Rusev set up the Accolade on Mahal, but Mahal got out of it and Sunil Singh jumped on the apron. Rusev kicked Sunil Singh off the apron when Mahal moved. Mahal hit The Khallas on Rusev and pinned him to win at 8:15.
Winner by pinfall and New United States Champion: Jinder Mahal
Analysis: **3/4 It was a solid match with plenty of believable nearfalls and everybody got a chance to shine. They really didn’t get to that next level in terms of being a great match and the crowd was dead a bit for some of it probably because of the highs of the previous match. Mahal winning was a surprise and seeing him pin Rusev was disappointing, but that’s probably done to set them up for a US Title feud. I assume that’s where it is headed at least. I thought Rusev would win, which is why he was added to the match, but I can see why WWE wanted to try to get Mahal over with another title reign – this time with a midcard title.
(I really didn’t remember this match at all. It’s a shorter match and a way to book a title change without having the champion Orton getting pinned and putting the title on Mahal.)
Post match, Mahal celebrated with the US Title. It’s his first time winning the US Title. Replays were shown of the finish.
There was a Fashion Files segment with Fandango and Tyler Breeze with Mick Foley in their “office” with Fandango saying his wardrobe makes him sick. Breeze said he likes his style. It ended up being a Snickers commercial.
The video package aired for Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle vs. Stephanie McMahon and Triple H.
Triple H and Stephanie’s entrance saw a bunch of people driving motorbikes to the ring. Stephanie and Triple H had their own that they drove down to the ring. When they got to the ring, Triple H and Stephanie did the water spit. There was a cool green lighting display for them as they got into the ring. The announcers sucked up about how cool the entrance was. They shared a kiss in the middle of the ring.
Kurt Angle made his entrance in a singlet like he has worn for most of his career. Fans greeted him with “you suck” chants and there was pyro for his entrance. That’s a nice flashback.
Ronda Rousey entered to the “Bad Reputation” song. She had on a black leather jacket and a kilt in tribute to Roddy Piper. She was wearing a white top that had “ROWDY” in yellow letters on it. Rousey was wrestling in black shorts.
Triple H and Stephanie McMahon vs. Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
There were “Ronda Rousey” chants as the match was set to begin. Stephanie shoved Rousey in the face before the match officially began and Stephanie pulled Rousey down by the hair.
Angle with a clothesline on Triple H early on followed by a back body drop. Angle slapped on an armbar. Triple H put his hand over his mouth because he was talking to Angle and the ref. The heels distracted the ref and Triple H whipped Angle over the top to the floor. Triple H whipped Angle into the steel steps. Hunter with a suplex that brought Angle back into a ring. Stephanie grabbed Angle’s head against the ropes when the ref wasn’t looking. I could hear Triple H say spinebuster and there was the spinebuster. Hunter grabbed a front facelock, Angle whipped into the ropes and Angle with a boot to the face. Stephanie grabbed Angle, Hunter tried a punch, Angle moved and Hunter almost hit Stephanie by accident. Angle with a belly to back suplex. Angle nearly tagged in Rousey, but Stephanie pulled Rousey off the apron. That’s a classic tag team move. Angle sent Hunter out of the ring and Rousey finally got the tag, which meant Stephanie had to go in the ring. Rousey with a running clothesline followed by a forward roll and a side suplex by Rousey. Rousey worked over Stephanie with punches with Stephanie trying to block the punches. Rousey tossed Stephanie across the ring as the crowd chanted “yes” repeatedly for it. Rousey with an overhead suplex that sent Stephanie across the ring. Rousey flipped Stephanie over and set up for the armbar on the left arm. Rousey slapped on the armbar, but Stephanie held her hands together to prevent Rousey from locking it in. Stephanie broke free by gouging the eyes of Rousey. Stephanie tried to tag out, but Triple H was still on the floor. Stephanie took Rousey down and got a two count. Stephanie kicked Rousey in the back. Stephanie pulled back on Rousey’s arms to weaken her. Stephanie mocked Rousey, but Rousey stopped her with a hand across the throat and Rosey nailed a spinning slam for a two count as Triple H pulled the referee Drake Weurtz out of the ring. Triple H tripped up Rousey and pulled her out of the ring. Angle went over to Triple H and sent him into the announce table. Angle teased a German Suplex on a table, but Triple H countered by tossing Angle onto the Spanish announce table. It didn’t break.
Triple H went back in the ring to check on Stephanie, who rolled to the floor. Rousey squared up with Triple H. The fans were going wild for this. Triple H put the ref in the corner. Rousey worked over Triple H with a flurry of punches and she tripped Triple H over. Rousey rolled through, put Triple H on her shoulders and Stephanie went back in with a hard slap to Rousey’s face. They left the ring with Rousey chasing Stephanie. Rousey whipped Stephanie into the barricade. Stephanie managed to shove Rousey face first into the ring post. Angle got back into the ring with Triple H with Angle hitting two belly to belly suplexes. Triple H with a facebuster, but Angle came back with three rolling German Suplexes. Angle Slam avoided by Hunter and Pedigree blocked. Angle with a slingshot that sent Triple H into the top turnbuckle and he hit an Angle Slam for a two count. They were not the legal guys in the match, but this match hasn’t followed traditional rules. Stephanie got back in the ring, yelled at Angle and when she tried a kick, Angle caught her foot. Fans chanted “yes” as Angle thought about it. Angle put the Ankle Lock on Stephanie briefly, but Hunter went back in with a Pedigree. That got a two count because Rousey made the save. Triple H tried a Pedigree, but Rousey hit a hurricanrana on him. Rousey slapped on the armbar on Triple H’s right arm. Stephanie got back into it with a rear naked choke on Rousey. That was countered by Rousey, who slammed Stephanie and Rousey slapped on the armbar on Stephanie’s left arm. Angle had the Ankle Lock on Triple H. Triple H sent Angle crashing into Rousey. I thought that was going to be it with the double tap out, but the match is continuing.
Hunter and Steph were in control again as they sent Rousey and Angle into the steel post back to back. Angle with a back body drop to Hunter to get out of a Pedigree. Stephanie tried a Pedigree, Rousey rolled through it and flipped into an armbar on the left arm. Stephanie was yelling “please” at her and Rousey finally got the arm free to lock on the armbar. Stephanie tapped out immediately for the Rousey victory at 20:40.
Winners by submission: Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle
Analysis: **** That was a lot of fun that exceeded expectations. It was better than I thought it was going to be. Rousey looked like she had been wrestling for years and there were no noticeable mistakes from her, which is so impressive in a nearly 20-minute match. Stephanie did a great job the entire match getting some offense on usually in cheap fashion and she sold everything Rousey did pretty well too. I liked everything that Angle and Triple H did. There were some fun moments with Rousey going after Triple H too, which showed she was not going to back down. They probably planned this match in detail for weeks and the hard work paid off because they really put on a memorable showing that is going to help Rousey in her career as a regular in WWE. The finish was no surprise with Rousey getting the win.
(I think it’s fair to say people had low expectations going into this match, but it ended up being f’n awesome by the end. The crowd was super hot for it, the guys looked like they hadn’t missed a beat and Ronda Rousey was very impressive in her first match. Even a non-wrestler like Stephanie did an excellent job for her role. Fun match that I recommend to anyone want to see how you do a mixed tag the right way.)
There was a shot of UFC President Dana White in the crowd applauding the win for his friend Rousey.
Rousey and Angle celebrated the win while the replays aired of the match. There were doctors and EMTs that checked on Stephanie at ringside as Rousey and Angle celebrated some more.
A commercial aired for Cricket Wireless followed by a commercial for Tapout.
The New Day made their entrance for the Smackdown Tag Team Title match. There were virtual pancakes and unicorns on the stage for them. There were also little people that walked out with trays of pancakes. That’s pretty unique.
The Usos are the Smackdown Tag Team Champions and they were up next. They did not get a special entrance.
The Bludgeon Brothers duo of Harper and Rowan were up next. They showed highlights of Fastlane last month when the Bludgeon Brothers viciously beat up The New Day and The Usos during their title match to set up this match.
Smackdown Tag Team Titles: The Usos (Jimmy & Jey) vs. The New Day (Big E & Kofi Kingston) w/Xavier Woods vs. The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper & Rowan)
Harper and Rowan were dominant early on as they destroyed Big E and Jimmy Uso outside the ring. Harper and Rowan hit a double team Powerbomb that sent Woods back first into the ring post. Back in the ring, Rowan hit a running splash on Jey and Kofi at the same time. Harper tagged in with Rowan dumping Jey to the floor. Rowan knocked Big E off the apron. Jimmy tagged himself in with two superkicks to Harper, Jey tagged in and they hit a double team kick on Harper to knock him down. Jey with a kick on Harper and Jimmy jumped off the top with a Superfly Splash on Harper. Rowan pulled Jimmy off the apron. Jey hit a leaping kick on Harper. Rowan ate a superkick from an Uso and both Usos went for dives on Rowan, but Rowan caught them. The Usos hit a double team suplex on Rowan on the floor. Big E picked up Harper, Kingston tagged in and Harper hit a spinning slam on him to put Kingston down. Harper was on the top rope, the Usos got back in and hit a double team superkick on Harper. The Usos set up for a double team superplex, Big E went over there and Rowan knocked everybody down except Harper. Kingston kicked Rowan out of the ring. Rowan back in with a Powerbomb on Kingston. Harper hit a sitout Powerbomb off the middle ropes for the pinfall win after about eight minutes.
Winners by pinfall and New Smackdown Tag Team Champions: The Bludgeon Brothers
Analysis: ** It was a dominant win by the Bludgeon Brothers to put them over as the new champs on Smackdown. I thought The Usos and New Day might get more offense than they did, but this was all about making the Bludgeon Brothers look like a great team that can’t be stopped as the Smackdown Tag Team Champions. I picked The Usos because I thought maybe they’d find a way to retain, but most people probably thought the Bludgeon Brothers would win and it makes sense to give them this big win on the WrestleMania stage. The crowd wasn’t into the match that much due to the match that went on before.
(A dominant win to really put over The Bludgeon Brothers. These teams could have had a much better match with more time, but sometimes you have to book a shorter match to put over new champions in a dominant way. Rest in peace, Luke Harper. You are missed, big man.)
Harper and Rowan were handed the titles. There were no replays. It was on to the next thing quickly.
A video aired about all the new content coming to WWE Network. It ran about four minutes and aired for the first time at the Hall of Fame on Friday.
John Cena made his entrance in his wrestling gear. A referee was in the ring when he got there. Cena stood in the ring motioning for somebody to come down to the ring. Another referee, Ryan Tran, went into the ring. Cena wasn’t happy with what he said. Cena left the ring and then the lights went out in the arena. The fans cheered, but instead of The Undertaker it was a guitar.
Elias walked down to the ring with his guitar telling the fans to shut their mouths. Elias asked if they were expecting somebody else, which led to him ripping on that somebody else (The Undertaker) saying that the somebody else doesn’t have the talent that he does. Elias said if John thinks this will be another walk in the park, it won’t be with him. Elias got in the ring. Elias told Cena to back up because he will take it from here. Cena left the ring and went into the crowd again.
Elias sang about how it’s WrestleMania and John wants a fight, he’s not what Cena expected, but guess what because it’s Elias’ night. Elias said Cena sucks because he’s like the fans. Cena went back into the ring. Cena with two shoulder tackles and a spinning slam. Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle followed by the Attitude Adjustment. Elias left the ring. Fans chanted “Undertaker” again. Cena’s music played to end it.
Cena walked up the aisle and then his music stopped. The lights went out again. There was a shot of The Undertaker’s black hat, jacket and gloves in the ring. A lightning bolt graphic zapped that attire and then it was removed from the ring.
The Undertaker’s famous gong sounding music started and the fire lit up the staging area. The Undertaker was shown in his traditional Deadman Taker attire looking ready for a fight. The crowd was going wild for him. Cole: “The Deadman has risen.” The Undertaker made his slow walk down to the ring.
The Undertaker slowly entered the ring and the referee Dan Engler was in there with John Cena, so the match is on. The announcers kept talking about which Undertaker we were going to see in terms of his focus.
The Undertaker took off his hat and jacket and the match was on.
Analysis: The match was planned for months and in my opinion it should have been announced several weeks ago to build it up properly. Instead, we get an impromptu match.
(I didn’t like the build for this at all. If they had Undertaker appear on TV to build this up a bit, it would have been a much bigger match. You’re doing the match anyway, so why not try to make it a bigger deal? I just think they could have built it up a lot better.)
The Undertaker vs. John Cena
The Undertaker hit a leaping clothesline followed by an armbar. The Undertaker walked the top rope and hit the old school punch to the back to take down Cena. Running splash in the corner by Undertaker followed by another one. Taker sent Cena face first into the top rope, big boot (Cena blocked it) and Taker hit the leg drop. The announcers are really putting over how healthy Undertaker looks. Cena avoided a Chokeslam and hit a back suplex. The fans were mostly booing Cena. When Cena ran the ropes, Taker sat back up. Taker hit a Chokeslam. Taker hit a Tombstone and covered Cena for the pinfall for the win at 2:45.
Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker
Analysis: * That was quick. The Undertaker dominated that match, Cena barely got any offense and Undertaker won in less than time than his entrance took. It was like watching The Undertaker beating a loser on WWF Superstars in 1995.
The announcers pushed the story that The Undertaker looked great and vindicated his loss from last year.
The Undertaker did his signature pose in the ring as his music played. The Undertaker walked up the ramp with Cole putting over The Undertaker huge as he should. The Undertaker reached the top of the ramp and he stared back at the crowd that was cheering him loudly. The Undertaker held his right arm up in the air as he has done so many times.
The announcers talked about it with Cole saying they were the two greatest of all time. Cena losing in three minutes sure doesn’t make him look great! Coachman said that was one of the greatest WrestleMania moments they have ever seen. They were really putting it on heavy. I get it, but what Coach said really wasn’t true.
Analysis: It feels like this is going to lead to another Undertaker match against Cena with a lot of build up and Cena being more prepared for him. That could be at SummerSlam in August or maybe next year’s WrestleMania. It just feels like a rematch is coming at some point in the next year.
(Nope. No rematch. I was way wrong on that. I just thought they booked this as a dominant win to make Taker look good, but they never did it again. They should have had a 15-20 minute match with a proper build. That’s what The Undertaker wanted too. Instead, it was like we got a 1995 Superstars special. Weak.)
A video package aired about the Hall of Fame on Friday, which I wrote about here.
The 2018 WWE Hall of Fame class were introduced on the stage: Jeff Jarrett, Mark Henry, Hillbilly Jim, Ivory, Jarrius “JJ” Robertson (the Warrior Award winner), The Dudley Boyz and Bill Goldberg was last with his music and the fans chanting “Goldberg” for him. Goldberg stood on the stage as the sparks flew on him like in his traditional entrance. No celebrity inductee Kid Rock because I assume he left town.
The video package aired for Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. It’s a great video about this rivalry and Bryan’s comeback after three years on the shelf due to concussion problems. The video is nearly five minutes long.
Shane McMahon made his entrance first wearing a Shane O Mac jersey with 34 on it for WrestleMania and it said YE$ as well. Shane greeted his wife and three sons at ringside. How did they get those seats? Kidding. Graves said Shane was in pain and was wincing even when Pat Patterson hugged him.
There were clips showed of various people around the world doing the “YES” chants of Daniel Bryan. The arena was full of YES chants for Bryan. They also gave fans facing the hard camera some “YES” signs that they held up for the entrance. Fans chanted “Daniel Bryan” for him.
Kevin Owens’ music hit as KO and Sami Zayn attacked Bryan and McMahon from behind before the bell rang. Zayn tossed McMahon over the barricade in front of Shane’s kids. Owens sent Bryan into the barricade. Zayn hit Bryan with a Helluva Kick outside the ring. Owens picked up Bryan and hit a Powerbomb on the apron. There were referees and doctors checking on Bryan at ringside. Zayn and Owens yelled at Shane that he made them do that. Shane got in the ring and called for the bell.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn vs. Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan
(If Owens and Zayn lose they remain fired, but if they win they get their jobs back on Smackdown Live.)
Shane was on fire early on going after Owens and Shane hit a DDT on Zayn as well. Owens came back by kicking Shane in the ribs, which led to Graves noting the hernia issue that Shane had. Zayn hit Shane with a knee to the ribs. Meanwhile, Daniel Bryan was getting helped at ringside. Owens stomped on the stomach of Shane while Owens mocked Bryan. Owens stomped on Shane’s head while talking trash at him. Zayn hit an Exploder Suplex on Shane for a two count. Shane fought out of the corner with punches, but Owens got in a cheap superkick and Zayn hit a Blue Thunder Bomb for a two count. Zayn missed a Helluva Kick because Shane moved. Shane had Zayn hung up upside down against the turnbuckle. Shane sent Owens out of the ring. Shane went up top and hit a Coast to Coast dropkick across the ring on Zayn that connected. Slow cover by Shane got two as Owens hit a senton splash to break up the pin. Owens tagged in and hit a Frog Splash off the top for a two count as Bryan went back into the ring to break up the pin. Bryan went to the apron as Owens missed the cannonball when Shane moved. Zayn tagged in to prevent Shane from tagging out with a headlock and Shane countered with belly to back suplex. Bryan got the hot tag against Zayn and the fans were going crazy for him.
Bryan punched Zayn, he punched Owens and Bryan nailed a running clothesline on Zayn. Bryan with a baseball slide dropkick that knocked down Owens. Bryan with a running knee that took down Owens on the floor. Bryan up top and he hit a missile dropkick on Zayn. Bryan grabbed his head momentarily to sell the earlier attack and then he kipped up. Bryan hit a suplex on Owens. Bryan with corner dropkicks for Zayn and Owens on opposite sides of the ring. Bryan with another running dropkick on Zayn. Bryan set up Zayn up top and connected with a top rope hurricanrana. Owens grabbed Bryan’s foot leading to Zayn hitting a Helluva Kick for two as Bryan got his right shoulder up. Good nearfall. Owens tagged in with a superkick that sent Shane into the barricade. Owens hit a Popup Powerbomb for a two count, so Bryan kicked out of both finishers. Shane took out Owens on the floor. Zayn tagged back in with punches on Bryan yelling “how could you?” about Bryan firing Zayn and Owens. Bryan attacked Zayn with strikes, Bryan hit the Yes Kicks to Zayn’s chest repeatedly with the crowd chanting “Yes” for it and Bryan hit a roundhouse kick to knock Zayn down. Bryan got the crowd chanting “Yes” and Bryan hit the running knee to the face of Zayn. Bryan slapped the Yes Lock on Zayn, which led to Zayn tapping out at 15:25.
Winners by submission: Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a solid match with the faces getting the win. It was so great to see Bryan back in action again looking like he hadn’t lost a step. Everything was well done. That was the feel good story with Bryan getting taken out for about ten minutes and then coming back to get the win. That was similar to when Bryan was taken out at WrestleMania 30 in the same building and came back to win the WWE Title. In this case, it was just a tag match. I thought there was going to be a heel turn by Shane to try to surprise the audience, but that didn’t happen. What does this mean for Owens and Zayn? The assumption by most people is that they may just get signed by Raw. There could be a twist with them getting back on Smackdown. I don’t know exactly, but hopefully it’s something that is interesting.
(I liked this match a lot. The main reason was that Daniel Bryan was back in the ring. I missed that guy a lot. I’m so glad he was able to continue his career and he didn’t miss a beat. This is a great tag team match to watch with best friends Sami/Kevin working well together while Shane held up just fine with the others.)
After the match was over, Bryan got a post match hug and kiss from his wife Brie Bella. Bryan celebrated with Shane in the ring. Shane and Bryan greeted Shane’s kids at ringside as well.
The sneak peek video aired of Paige’s movie “Fighting With My Family” and the scene with The Rock. They aired the same clip during the Hall of Fame and NXT Takeover.
The announced attendance was: 78,133. That number is usually inflated by WWE and it’s higher than the number they used for New Orleans in 2014.
The Raw Women’s Championship match is up next and the video package aired for it. They were former best friends, Bliss made fun of Jax, which Jax saw on the screen and that led to this match. Jax didn’t even win a match to set up this match. She just got the title shot because she was made fun of by Bliss and her buddy Mickie James. It could have been built up better.
Alexa Bliss, the Raw Women’s Champion, made her entrance. She was on a pedestal that was above the ramp and it was lowered onto the stage. Bliss was joined by her buddy, the lovely Mickie James.
Nia Jax made her entrance walking with a purpose because…she’s not like most girls. It’s a catchy song. The women stood in the ring for ring announcer Jojo to do the introductions.
Jax ran towards James and hit a forearm to knock her out of the ring. Jax sent James into the apron Jax tossed James onto the floor. Jax whipped James into the barricade repeatedly. Bliss hit Jax with a forearm to the back. Jax hit a Samoan Drop on Mickie on the floor.
Analysis: That wasn’t fun to watch as a friend of Mickie, but it fit the storyline.
(I remember Mickie telling me that was a painful bump. She liked Nia and wasn’t complaining about her doing it hard. I just remember her saying it’s just one of those brutal bumps that you have to take that’s part of the story of the match.)
Raw Women’s Championship: Alexa Bliss vs. Nia Jax
Bliss slapped her, Jax screamed and Bliss screamed back out of fear. Jax tossed Bliss across the ring three times. Jax with a splash against the turnbuckle. Jax picked up Bliss and tossed her across the ring. Bliss landed on her feet as she landed awkwardly. Bliss left the ring. Jax followed her and hit a clothesline to knock her down. Back in the ring, the ref held Jax back and Bliss gouged her in the eyes. Bliss worked on the left knee of Jax by using her two knees and hitting the back of Jax’s knee. Bliss with a dropkick followed by a stomp to the back of Jax. Bliss worked on the left knee of some more, but Jax game back with a forearm to the chest. Bliss tried a headlock, but Jax with a back body drop to create space. Jax charged, Bliss moved and Jax went shoulder first into the ring post. Jax was standing on the floor, Bliss went up top and hit the Twisted Bliss splash to take out Jax. Back in the ring, Bliss with a dropkick to the back that sent Jax into the middle turnbuckle. The crowd was dead for this. Bliss hit a DDT for a two count, so Bliss threw a fit in the ring. Bliss slapped Jax in the first, she said Jax is nothing without Bliss and Jax told her to shut the hell up. Jax with a body slam, clothesline, splash in the corner, toss across the ring and splash in the corner. Jax with a clothesline on Bliss. Bliss kicked the knee of Jax, Bliss jumped off the top, Jax caught her and Jax sent Bliss back first into the turnbuckle. Bliss pulled the ring apron, the ref fixed it and Bliss did an eye gouge again. Jax had Bliss on her back, she sent her into the turnbuckle and Jax hit an Alabama Slam. Jax had Bliss on her shoulders, Jax climbed the ropes and jumped off the middle rope with a Samoan Drop. Jax covered for the pinfall win at 10:15.
Winner by pinfall and the New Raw Women’s Champion: Nia Jax
Analysis: **1/4 It was a predictable match with Jax getting the win after Bliss got some offense working on the knee. Bliss also used the eye gouge a few times to stay in control for some of the match too. Jax came back to get the win as most of us expected. I liked the Samoan Drop off the middle rope because that was Jax taking it to the next level on the biggest show of the year. That’s a good thing.
(The story was the big thing here with Jax getting revenge against her former friend Bliss, who was mean to her when she turned on Jax. Fans wanted to see Jax get revenge and that’s what they got. Simple enough.)
Post match, Jax was in tears as she was handed the Raw Women’s Championship, which is her first title in WWE. Jax hugged The Rock’s mom Ata, who is Jax’s aunt and Jax also hugged The Rock’s oldest daughter at ringside. Jax walked away with the title while Bliss looked sad in the ring.
There was a plug for Backlash on WWE Network on May 6.
The video package aired for the dream match between WWE Champion AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. It has happened elsewhere, but not in WWE until now.
Shinsuke Nakamura made a spectacular entrance with Nita Strauss (guitarist for Alice Cooper) playing the electric guitar for his song along with violinists and drummers on the stage playing the song. The crowd was humming along to the song like usual.
Analysis: That was my favorite Nakamura entrance ever and he had some great ones in the NXT days as well. It had a special feel to it. I like how they brought Strauss there to add a different sound to it with the electric guitar.
AJ Styles, the WWE Champion, made his entrance to a huge ovation like usual. It would have been nice if they did something more spectacular for his entrance. It was basic, but that’s fine. I just think they should have done more for him as the WWE Champion. The two men stood in the ring as ring announcer did the introductions for this championship match.
WWE Championship: AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
They locked up with neither man getting the advantage while the fans chanted “AJ Styles/Nakamura” for them. Nakamura did his taunt where he put his head on Styles’ chest, so Styles punched him. Nakamura hit a kick for two. Styles fought out of the corner and hit Nakamura with a knee to the nose. Styles hit a backbreaker on Nakamura to continue the offense. Styles slapped on a headlock. There was a slow pace to this match for the first few minutes. Nakamura got back to his feet, he ran the ropes and Styles nailed a dropkick. Styles was on the apron, Nakamura kicked him and Styles landed on his face in a rough landing. Styles caught the left leg of Nakamura and Nakamura nailed an enziguri kick. Nakamura went to the middle rope and connected with a kick to take down Styles. Nakamura did his “come on” taunt to a big ovation, kick to the back of the head and a running splash in the corner for Nakamura. Running knee lift by Nakamura on Styles against the turnbuckle was good for a two count. Nakamura with a front suplex. Styles came back with a move where he picked up Nakamura and slammed him face first. Styles with a forearm against the turnbuckle followed by another running forearm. Styles with a Gutbuster on Nakamura for a two count. Styles with a punch while he was on the apron, he went for the Forearm and Nakamura with a Landslide as Graves called it. That got a two count. They battled on the top rope, Styles slipped out of a superplex attempt and Nakamura punched his way out of the corner. Styles came back with a kick to the inside of Nakamura’s left knee.
Nakamura went for a suplex, but Styles rolled through and slapped on the Calf Crusher submission. When Nakamura tried to get to the ropes, Styles flipped over and slapped on the Calf Crusher again. Nakamura turned it into a triangle choke. Styles powered out of it and hit something that looked like brainbuster. Ouch. They got back to their feet, Nakamura missed the first kick and hit a spin kick to the head. Nakamura did well to sell the left knee. Nakamura missed the left knee attack against the turnbuckle. Styles hit the Phenomenal Forearm, but Nakamura kicked out by getting his left shoulder up. Styles went up top and he missed the 450 Splash because Nakamura got his knees up to block it. Styles and Nakamura exchanged strikes. Nakamura hit a big forearm to the face and Styles nailed a Pele Kick for two. Nakamura came back with a knee to the back of the head for a two count. Nakamura worked over Styles with knees to the ribs. Nakamura hit the reverse Exploder Suplex. Nakamura set up for the Kinshasa knee attack, but Styles avoided it and Styles hit the Styles Clash for the pinfall win at 20:20.
Winner by pinfall: AJ Styles
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a good match that did not live up to the incredible hype with the crowd cheering for some of it, but there were plenty of quiet moments as well. Calling it a Dream Match gave this match so much pressure and they just couldn’t get the crowd behind them like you would think. Perhaps if this was on earlier in the show it would have helped. I liked the story of the match with Styles working on the left knee of Nakamura for most of the match, Nakamura sells injuries so well and it ended up slowing down Nakamura enough that Styles managed to get the win. I thought Nakamura would win as the Royal Rumble winner. Instead, the reign of Styles continues and that’s no issue with me because he’s the best wrestler in the company.
After the match was over, Styles helped up Nakamura and they hugged in the center of the ring. Nakamura had the WWE Championship. He got down on one knee in front of Styles out of respect and presented the title to Styles. Nakamura with a low blow punch! Nakamura kicked Styles repeatedly in the face. The fans booed as Styles was kicked out of the ring. Nakamura kicked Styles a few more times while he was on the floor. The fans booed Nakamura for his actions. Nakamura hit the running Kinshasa kick on Styles outside the ring. Nakamura left.
Analysis: I didn’t see that one coming with Nakamura turning heel. WrestleMania always has heel turns and I expected one or two here, but this wasn’t one of those moments that I expected to see. This should lead to a rematch that will hopefully be a better match with Nakamura as a heel.
(This match had a lot of hype as a “dream match” even though we had seen before it Japan. I think there were high expectations for it because of how good their match was in Japan in the past, so people expected another five-star level match. This wasn’t that. Their matches in WWE were always pretty good, but really just around the three-star level rather than match of the year contenders. It was also the second match on the show where the Royal Rumble Nakamura failed to win the title he was going for…just like Asuka earlier in the show.)
A commercial aired for the WWE 2K18 video game.
There was a commercial for WWE’s Greatest Royal Rumble event in Saudi Arabia on April 27. Cole mentioned that he’ll be there with Corey Graves.
There were images shown of what happened earlier on the Kickoff Show.
The Bar duo of Sheamus and Cesaro entered on a Mardi Gras float. The float stopped when they got to the staging area. Their music played and that’s when the Raw Tag Team Champions Sheamus and Cesaro made their way down to the ring.
Braun Strowman made his entrance to a good ovation. Braun scared the Mardi Gras characters that were on the float. Strowman shoved the float off the staging area and off the side of the ramp.
Strowman was in the ring alone as Jojo announced the men in the ring. Strowman grabbed the microphone saying he knows everybody wants to know who his partner is. Strowman said it’s not one person in the back or the locker room. Strowman said it’s one of you pointing to the fans. Strowman asked the fans who wants to be his WrestleMania tag partner. Strowman walked into the crowd looking for a partner. There were fans that walked up to him wanting to be his partner and Strowman picked a kid in the crowd.
Strowman brought the kid into the ring. Strowman asked the kid his name: Nicholas. Strowman told the kid to stand on the apron and he’ll do the rest. Cole: “This is really happening.” Yes it is. The kid is about 10 years old if I had to guess.
Raw Tag Team Championship: Braun Strowman and Nicholas vs. Sheamus and Cesaro
Strowman with a clothesline that sent Sheamus over the top to the floor. Fans chanted that they want Nicholas. Cesaro tagged in and Strowman dropped him with a Chokeslam, but Sheamus broke up the pin attempt. Strowman chased after Sheamus. Cesaro with a dropkick to Strowman’s knee. Double suplex by Sheamus and Cesaro on Strowman. Sheamus with a knee drop. Cesaro with a senton splash off Sheamus’ shoulders for a two count. Strowman with a cross body block that took down both tag team champions. Strowman with a back body drop that sent Sheamus over the top to the floor. Strowman teased tagging in the kid and the fans cheered. Nicholas tagged into the match to a huge ovation. Nicholas tagged back out, Cesaro did a springboard attack at Strowman, who caught Cesaro, and Strowman hit a Running Powerslam on Cesaro for the pinfall win. It went about five minutes.
Winners by Pinfall and New Raw Tag Team Champions: Braun Strowman and Nicholas
Analysis: *1/2 Easy win for Strowman with a kid as a partner that showed he didn’t need any help to beat the champs. It makes the entire tag team division on Raw look bad, but it was a funny moment with a young kid involved. This is Strowman’s first title win in WWE.
Analysis x2: The kid is the son of WWE referee John Cone, so it was a plant in case you are wondering. Of course it was.
(We didn’t know it at the time obviously. John Cone is a WWE referee and also in WWE’s talent relations department. I guess somebody thought the kid as a partner was clever. People will remember it at least.)
Strowman celebrated the win with his new tag team partner Nicholas and they left as the Raw Tag Team Champions.
A commercial aired for WrestleMania 35 next year. They kept calling it New York City even though it’s at Met Life Stadium in New Jersey. Close enough, I guess. The date is April 7, 2019 for next year’s WrestleMania.
Video package for the main event: Lesnar vs. Reigns for the Universal Championship. It took about five minutes.
Roman Reigns made his entrance. There was a mixed reaction for him like usual. Fans like to boo him, but there are cheers too.
Brock Lesnar made his entrance with the great Paul Heyman by his side. Lesnar is the Universal Champion. When Lesnar did his pose on the ring apron, some fireworks went off.
The ring announcer Jojo introduced Reigns and Heyman grabbed the microphone before she could introduce Lesnar and Heyman introduced Lesnar.
Universal Championship: Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Roman Reigns
Lesnar started off on fire with two German Suplexes. Lesnar hit a third German Suplex. Reigns came back with a Superman Punch followed by another Superman Punch that knocked Lesnar out of the ring. Reigns chased after Lesnar with a Superman Punch outside the ring. Reigns with a clothesline that sent Lesnar over the top to the floor. Reigns went for another punch, but Lesnar caught him and hit an overhead belly to belly suplex. Lesnar hit another belly to belly suplex. I think the fans are chanting “CM Punk” at them or at least some of the fans are. Lesnar cleared off the top of an announce table. Lesnar launched Reigns belly to belly style into the top of the English announce table. Back in the ring, Lesnar hit a release German Suplex. Lesnar: “Suplex City, bitch.” Lesnar hit another German Suplex. Lesnar with another belly to belly overhead suplex that sent Reigns out of the ring. Lesnar cleared off the monitors on the German announce table. Lesnar talked to Reigns and whipped him back first into the barricade. Reigns avoided an attack by shoving Lesnar into the steel ring post. Reigns charged at Lesnar and picked him up onto the English announce table, which didn’t break. They went back into the ring with Reigns hitting a Superman Punch. Reigns hit a Spear. Lesnar got back up, so Reigns hit a second Spear and Lesnar got his left shoulder up. Reigns got back to his feet, he set up in the corner, he charged and Lesnar hit a knee to the face for a two count as Reigns got his left shoulder up. Lesnar hit a F5. He covered and Reigns got his left shoulder up to kick out. Lesnar hit another F5 and Reigns kicked out at two. The crowd didn’t react to it that much.
Lesnar let out a loud yell. Lesnar hit a third F5, he covered and Reigns kicked out of it. Lesnar: “Motherfucker.” It got muted when he said it. They went out of the ring again. Lesnar gave Reigns a F5 onto the German announce table to break the table. The crowd is still not reacting to the match. Lesnar dragged Reigns back into the ring. The fans were booing in the crowd. Lesnar hit a German Suplex. Lesnar hit a fifth F5 and Reigns kicked out. Lesnar took off this gloves. Lesnar punched Reigns repeatedly and hit him with an elbow, which led to Reigns bleeding. The fans chanted “this is awful” at them. Reigns avoided another F5 and hit a Spear. Reigns hit a second Spear. Reigns covered and that got a two count. Reigns ran the ropes again, Lesnar caught him and Lesnar hit another F5 on Reigns and covered to win the match. Lesnar retains the Universal Championship. Really? Yes. It happened. The match went 17 minutes.
Winner by pinfall: Brock Lesnar
Analysis: ** They worked hard and did a match with a bunch of kickouts all match long, but the crowd had no interest in the match because they thought they knew what the outcome would be especially with Reigns kicking out of the F5 so many times. The outcome they thought was Reigns winning and that didn’t happen. I think the fans are sick of Lesnar as well as the style of his matches because the matches are repetitive with the amount of suplexes that Lesnar does. When Reigns kept kicking out of the F5s and then was a bloody mess after the Lesnar elbow, I thought that Reigns winning was a lock. Instead, Lesnar found a way to get the win and I think that result was the most surprising of the night. Based on the work in the match what they did was probably better than the star rating, but it’s tough to rate a match like that when the crowd shit on nearly everything they did.
Lesnar left with the Universal Championship and his advocate Paul Heyman by his side. Reigns was being looked at by doctors in the ring.
Analysis: I’m not sure what’s next because Lesnar’s future in WWE is in doubt and putting the Universal Championship on Reigns was what most of us thought would happen, so it definitely puts a question mark on things. What is Lesnar’s future and when might he wrestle again? As I write this I have no idea, so I’m intrigued to see what’s next.
There were videos that aired showing highlights of the show for a few minutes.
Roman Reigns was shown in the arena. He greeted his wife at ringside. Reigns slowly walked around the ringside area with doctors nearby. They stopped the bleeding on his face. The announcers didn’t say anything as Reigns made his way to the ramp. Reigns stumbled his way to the back with his music playing.
Analysis: The main event should have been Braun Strowman winning the Universal Title from Brock Lesnar. Instead, we got this.
(It was a disappointing main event. The match was below average and the result was a surprise because people thought Reigns
This event had a run time of 5:03:35 on the WWE Network.
Five Stars of the Show
- Ronda Rousey/Kurt Angle
- Stephanie McMahon/Triple H
- Seth Rollins
- Finn Balor
- The Miz
I changed my order around after watching the mixed tag team match for a second time. It was really well done.
I wanted to include Daniel Bryan for his first match back, but I wanted to honor these two matches instead because I enjoyed them more.
It gets a 7 out of 10 from me.
It was a very good show for most of the night, but the last few matches didn’t live up to expectations.
The best matches were the IC Title match (Rollins beating Balor & Miz), the mixed tag team match (Rousey & Angle beating Stephanie & Triple H) and Charlotte beating Asuka to keep her title. All of those matches were around the four-star level out of five. I enjoyed the Daniel Bryan tag match quite a bit as he teamed with Shane to beat Owens/Zayn just because of how much fun it was to see Bryan back in the ring.
If you would have told me that AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura would have had a slightly above average match with Nakamura not winning the title and Nakamura turning heel I would have told you that you were crazy. I didn’t see that coming at all. I also didn’t expect Undertaker to beat Cena in under three minutes. That should have been an epic, bigger match and instead felt like nothing important at all.
There were some booking surprises as well. I didn’t think Brock Lesnar was going to win his match, especially after how the last year was booked with nobody kicking out of the F5, yet Reigns kicked out of it four times and failed to win the title. They sure fooled me. Also, Asuka and Nakamura both coming up short as Royal Rumble winners was surprising as well.
The reason I went 7 is that the match quality felt like it was down a bit aside from a few matches. I think the show length hurts a bit because of how tired the crowd was by the end of the night. They lost interest.
(I’ll stick with the 7 out of 10 rating. I think I explained it well and I stand by what I wrote.)
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here.
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