WWE WrestleMania 35: Reactions & Review

Here’s my final thoughts on Raw and SmackDown Live’s WWE WrestleMania 35!

Buddy Murphy (c) vs. Tony Nese (WWE Cruiserweight Championship)

Reactions: Although this was a Kickoff Match, it truly started WrestleMania 35 on a high note. As a fellow New Yorker, it was awesome getting to witness a Long Islander get such a massive victory. And what made that victory even sweeter was the great match that preceded it.

Murphy and Nese struck each other down with some vicious blows and high-flying antics that pulled the crowd in the more it went on. The near-falls definitely sucked me in, too – I figured Murphy was going to hold onto his title a bit longer and continue to go on a Pete Dunne-esque championship run. The fast pace, unique offense, and shocking ending all combined to make this bout an early ‘Mania 35 highlight.

Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars

WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal (Battle Royal for the WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal Trophy)

Reactions: Carmella, huh? At least they didn’t go with the random, non-sensical Sarah Logan win. But yeah, I was pulling for Nikki Cross the whole time…and she ended up getting eliminated super early on. Afterwards, I cheered up a bit as Kairi Sane and Ember Moon provided some fun moments throughout this battle royal. Asuka ended up being my next pick to win as she was another entrant who got some time to show off her best stuff. Then she sadly got flipped over the ring, too. Overall, this was just a passable time waster. The winner really didn’t do anything for me, but I honestly wasn’t mad at the match as a whole.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

The Revival (Dash Wilder and Scott Dawson) (c) vs. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship)

Reactions: QUEENS, NY FTW! Hawkins finally broke his epic losing streak alongside the same man he once held the tag team titles with back in 2008. The Revival put together a decidedly old-school tag team affair that built to a fever pitch by its conclusion. Watching Ryder get torn to shreds went on a little too long, but at least it built up to a hot Hawkins tag sequence that the live crowd ate up. Everything post-Hakwins’ hot tag was pretty damn exciting (that Brainbuster on the outside was sick!). Even though it hurt to see The Revival essentially drop the straps to a low-tier duo, it was still cool witnessing Ryder and Hawkins claim a huge victory in front of a proud tri-state crowd.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (Battle Royal for the André the Giant Memorial Trophy)

Reactions: First off, I have to mention just how brutal that Strowman, Harper, and Ali moment was. Ali practically ate a super painful looking brainbuster from inside the ring straight to the outside! God bless Harper and Ali for agreeing to such a brutal spot.

This year’s André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal had a few bright spots – Andrade’s interactions with Kalisto and Chad Gable, Otis’ hilarious elbow dropping hijinks, and The Hardy Boyz’s hope spits happened to be the best ones. Strowman was the horrifying powerhouse we all knew he’d be here, too. I just wish the SNL guys were excluded from this match altogether. Their “comedy” spot was just as cringe and unfunny as the show they belong to. Strowman winning was fine, though.

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) (c) vs. Seth Rollins (WWE Universal Championship)

Reactions: So ‘Mania 35 officially got underway with a Universal Championship Match. This was more along the lines of the car crash spectacle we got from Goldberg vs. Lesnar at ‘Mania 33. Everything that was put on display here came to a close in a shockingly short time span. I was very much looking forward to a match akin to the ones we’ve all seen from Lesnar vs. AJ Styles and Daniel Bryan. Lesnar always has his best bouts against smaller men, so it looked as if we’d be getting something just as good as their aforementioned matches here with Rollins.

But I get it – ‘Mania 35 had to start with an insane moment that would pop the crowd and Rollins winning did the job (well, Lesnar did the “job” but you get what I’m saying). The match as a whole served its purpose, but it was much too short for my tastes. Having Rollins go for a low-blow on the champ even though he’s supposed to be a conquering babyface took away from his win a little bit, too. I wanted more from this one…

Rating: 2 & a Half out of 5 Stars

AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton

Reactions: Maybe I expected too much from this marquee encounter. It wasn’t bad, it was just solid at best. Orton seems to exert a bit more energy whenever he’s in heel mode. And when pitted against someone as talented as AJ Styles, this one could have delivered a sleeper hit. But Orton slowed down the match to the point where the crowd chose to have their own fun instead of focusing on the match itself. The counters shared between both men were cool callbacks to their previous meetings, but that was the only thing that gave this match a little bit of life. Orton’s methodical pace was just a bit too much to endure here. But at least AJ won.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) (c) vs. Aleister Black and Ricochet vs. The Bar (Cesaro and Sheamus) vs. Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura (Fatal 4-Way Match for the WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship)

Reactions: This Fatal 4-Way tag team title match brought some much needed energy back into the building. And that was pretty much a given considering the lineup of teams that got to go full speed here. Every duo got to pop the crowd huge here – The Bar’s big swing/chest pounding session, that 8-man Tower of Doom spot, Ricochet’s airborne magic, and The Usos finishing sequence were all amazing moments. I gotta hand it to Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev for pulling out some slick tag team maneuvers, too (those guys are pretty underrated as a duo, don’t you think?) . While a step below the Fatal 4-Way tag team title match we got at Fastlane, this affair still provided a fun sprint to liven up the early portion of the show.

Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars

Shane McMahon vs. The Miz (Falls Count Anywhere Match)

Reactions: I always love a good garbage brawl. While this FallS Count Anywhere match wasn’t as crazy as past hardcore skirmishes, it still delivered a solid dose of wild action. The start of it was a bit boring when Shane was on the offensive, though. And Miz’s father needs to get off my TV screen ASAP! The constant deadpan look on his face takes away all the seriousness of any storyline he’s slotted into.

Once The Miz got the upper hand on Shane, the fun truly began. Shane bumped all over the place like a madman for Miz’s offense. And all of it looked good. That final superplex descent right into the crowd was a definite jaw dropper, too! The first half was a snoozefest, but thank God the second half saved it from being a total wash.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Bayley and Sasha Banks (c) vs. Beth Phoenix and Natalya vs. The IIconics (Billie Kay and Peyton Royce) vs. Nia Jax and Tamina (Fatal 4-Way Match for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship)

Reactions: Color me surprised! The return of Beth Phoenix, the Hall of Fame induction for the Hart Foundation, and Natalya’s presence during this bout looked as if it was leading to a win for Beth and her chosen “Hart” ally. That result looked like it was close to happening until The IIconics slipped in at the last second and stole the winning pin.

As for the match itself, it was serviceable. The crowd was a bit dead for it and so was I during parts of it. The last stretch of this match featured a few moments here and there that got me back into the whole affair. But this match certainly paled in comparison to the other Fatal 4-Way tag team match we got at this event. The IIconics winning the big one was a nice way to close this one out, though.

Rating: 2 & a Half out of 5 Stars

“The New” Daniel Bryan (with Rowan) vs. Kofi Kingston (with Xavier Woods and Big E) (WWE Championship)

Reactions: This one was an emotional roller coaster that had me and the crowd biting our nails out of pure nervousness. Daniel Bryan was on the cusp of retaining the WWE Championship at several intervals, which got everyone’s heart rate going a bit faster. Kofi’s will to survive was starting to slip away as Daniel brutalized him with some of the stiffest strikes I’ve ever seen. But Kofi’s comeback moments added so much to the match as a whole and had the crowd on its feet.

The back and forth struggles, outside mayhem between The New Day and Rowan, and the nerve-wracking final moments provided us with one of the best bouts of the entire evening. Congrats to Daniel for wrestling like the workhorse we know him to be. And most of all, shouts out to KOFIMANIA FTW! This is the type of match that always makes for a great title change to a deserving Superstar.

Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars

Samoa Joe (c) vs. Rey Mysterio (WWE United States Championship)

Reactions: Samoa Joe is a beast. That is all.

Rating: SQUASH!

Drew McIntyre vs. Roman Reigns

Reactions: After the incredible high of the WWE Championship match and the sudden squash that was the US Championship match, this grudge match was a simple palette cleanser. It didn’t go above the level of decent, which is disappointing considering that this is Roman’s big WrestleMania return bout. It was a pretty by-the-standards encounter that we’re all used to seeing as the main event of a random episode of Raw. Both men looked good out there still. It’s just a shame that they ultimately produced a lackluster matchup with no extra flair or crowd excitement behind it.

Rating: 2 & a Half out of 5 Stars

Triple H vs. Batista (No Holds Barred Match; Triple H’s Career is on the Line)

Reactions: Man…this one moved at a snail’s pace. Triple H should definitely hang it up sometime soon considering the speed he was moving at throughout this bout. Batista’s trip up while he was entering the ring was a bad sign, wasn’t it? Anyways, both men clobbered each other for a little too long.

And the fact that it took forever to transition to the next big hardcore spot put a further damper on an average contest. The involvement of steel chairs, sledgehammers, steel stairs, and even pliers provided the smoke and mirrors needed to make this match a tad bit more interesting. But it still wasn’t enough to make this return Batista match worth a damn. The appearance of Ric Flair at the end was a nice touch, though.

Rating: 2 & a Half out of 5 Stars

Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin (Kurt Angle’s Farewell Match)

Reactions: Sigh…what is happening right now? Baron Corbin RETIRED KURT FREAKIN’ ANGLE? In a blah match to boot? This can’t be life. WWE managed to call in “Thuganomics” John Cena to make an impromptu appearance during an Elias concert, but couldn’t swap Cena in for a nice surprise farewell match against Angle? This one was on par with both men’s lame series of previous bouts. I don’t want to talk about this one anymore…

Rating: 2 out of 5 Stars

Bobby Lashley (with Lio Rush) (c) vs. “The Demon” Finn Bálor (WWE Intercontinental Championship)

Reactions: While this title bout didn’t have a long runtime, it was still a fun contest overall. The action never slowed down as Bobby Lashley did a good job of keeping pace with “Demon” Bálor. They got in, pulled off their best moves, and got out while ending things on a high note. Finn finally threw some unique moves into his Demon moveset, which was a nice touch (I’m sure Booker T loved watching Finn pull off that slick Scissors Kick). And that Powerbomb from Finn to Lashley? Cool. As. Hell! This was good. Simple and efficient.

Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars

Ronda Rousey (WWE Raw Women’s Champion) vs. Charlotte (WWE SmackDown Women’s Champion) vs. Becky Lynch (Triple Threat, Winner Takes All Match for the WWE Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships)

Reactions: Shout out to Charlotte for pulling off that epic helicopter entrance like her Pops used to do. Much props to Joan Jett & the Blackhearts for rocking out on the WrestleMania stage. And extra brownie points goes out to Becky Lynch for her WrestleMania hairdo and new double champion status! This Winner Takes All Triple Threat Match made history as the first women’s ‘Mania main event. And the women involved put each other through hell during a hotly contested contest.

Ronda Rousey took a severe beating as she added an extra bit of intensity to this matchup. Charlotte and Becky proved to be the perfect opponents for Ronda to battle with at the very same time. The double move spots, submission holds, and table crash all made for some cool highlights from this bout. The ending was pretty flat, however. Becky would have been much better off nabbing the submission victory instead of getting a fluke win. This still managed to be an entertaining main event. But the out of nowhere finish definitely knocked it down a peg.

Rating: 3 & a Half out of 5 Stars

Match of the Night

Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston!

Final Verdict

WrestleMania 35 was a slight letdown. Angle’s farewell match and unexpected loss was downright terrible. HHH vs. Batista looked as if both men were wrestling underwater. Reigns vs. McIntyre belonged on a random episode of Raw. And the women’s tag team championship match truly offered nothing of substance.

The Cruiserweight Championship match, the Fatal 4-Way tag team title match, the WWE Championship match, the IC Championship bout, and the women’s main event were clear highlights. But the US Championship squash match and the rest of the card didn’t do enough to push this show over to a level of great or even slightly amazing. It was certainly better than the last ‘Mania that took place at MetLife Stadium. But ‘Mania 35 will definitely be remembered as one of the lower ranked WrestleMania’s after all is said and done.

Final Score: 3 out of 5 Stars

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