WrestleMania 35 is in the books, and WWE put on a good show at MetLife Stadium — one that spilled into Monday morning.
It surpassed WrestleMania 29 both in content, attendance and value. WrestleMania 35’s announced crowd of 82,265 was the third largest crowd in the event’s history, and its gross of 16.9 million surpassed the $12.3 million made in New York/New Jersey in 2013.
So with another WrestleMania behind us, here are five takeaways from WWE’s signature event:
1. WWE got so much right about the first women’s match to main-event WrestleMania: the entrances, the match style and the winner. But, the finish, botched or not, will always leave fans with a weird taste in their mouths. Becky Lynch just isn’t allowed to have nice things.
Charlotte Flair’s entrance included her flying in on a helicopter, having a red carpet rolled out for her and a robe placed on her outside MetLife Stadium. It was a nice touch considering her father, Ric’s, jet-flying past and Charlotte being considered The Chosen One in WWE.
As they waited for Flair, Ronda Rousey walked to the ring with the legendary Joan Jett playing her song “Bad Reputation” live. Flair came next and Lynch — perfect for her character — had no special entrance.
The match, while maybe not better than Flair-Asuka last year, had the pace and physicality it needed. All three women wasted no time trying to win it with some gnarly looking submissions and plenty of pin attempts after big moves.
After Flair got tossed into the table in the corner, you got the sense WWE was going to let Lynch and Rousey finish it together, like they were supposed to. Then “pin” and the controversy started and left plenty of stunned faces.
The crowd was hanging on every Disarm Her, and the actual finish came out of nowhere. But if you watch the replay, Lynch makes an extra attempt to get Rousey’s shoulder’s down, Ronda flips out and doesn’t really kick and there was no hesitation in the referee’s count. If it was botched, then mistakes happen, but what an awful spot for one. If it was meant to happen that way, then WWE just continued to overthink what was the simplest of stories.
Either way, this story can move forward in a positive way. Lynch will still be fighting the doubters and haters who said she didn’t win. Rousey can say she has still not been truly defeated and continue to beat down the pro wrestling business. Flair can claim she wasn’t beaten either and immediately continue this feud with Lynch.
2. While eight title changes feels like almost a total reset of the WWE Universe, it did give the sense WWE was listening. Kofi Kingston, Seth Rollins, Lynch, the IIconics and Finn Balor all won championships and got the fitting pops from the crowd when they did. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder and fellow Long Islander Tony Nese winning belts was also a nice touch so close to home. We will see how long some of these runs last, but for now the product will have a fresh feel when “Monday Night Raw” starts at Barclays Center this evening.
3. Raw and SmackDown both have babyface top champions again in Rollins and Kingston. SmackDown will be perfectly fine with the amazing heel Daniel Bryan also at the top, but who is there to challenge Rollins?
The Universal title needed to be back on TV full time, and hopefully Brock Lesnar returns to special attraction matches and maybe a UFC fight. But there is a lack of opponents for Rollins, thanks to some shaky booking. Roman Reigns took care of Drew McIntyre at WrestleMania, Braun Strowman is a babyface, and we aren’t ready for Reigns-Rollins just yet. Maybe we get a returning Sami Zayn or Bray Wyatt as a heel to fill the gap for now.
4. WWE used its legends really well. No one wants to see a two-minute John Cena match, and by bringing him back as his Thug Life version, you put a new/old coat of paint on him. While his appearance will overshadow a fun Elias performance, where he played guitars, drums and piano and talked to video versions of himself, the fans ate up Cena’s raps. It was a needed changeup that late in the show. The Babe Ruth jersey and video package only further showed WWE pushing Cena as the greatest of all time.
We also saw two other Mount Rushmore talents. Hulk Hogan opened the show and botched the name of MetLife Stadium, and Ric Flair came out and messed up Batista’s attempt to end Triple H’s career. Ron Simmons, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash were seen in fun backstage segments. Also, Bret Hart appeared on stage with Natalya and Beth Phoenix for the entrance.
We even got Jerry “The King” Lawler, JBL, Booker T, Paige and Shawn Michaels as guest commentators. Michaels being so awkward on commentary may have been the best part of the Batista-Triple H match.
5. WrestleMania is still too long, at seven-plus hours from kickoff show to final fall — the women’s main event started at midnight. WWE’s match order didn’t help, as you could feel the audience fatigue start to set in after Kofi Kingston beat Daniel Bryan.
A way-too-long Triple H-Batista clash, a very quick Kurt Angle match that saw him lose and another fast Finn Balor win as The Demon were the lead-in to the main event. WWE even tried a seven-second dance break to wake up the crowd before Flair, Lynch and Rousey went on.
Also, the WrestleMania stage, like too many things with WWE, lacked a certain unique quality. It looked like an oversized TV set. There was even a blinding yellow light for some fans at MetLife Stadium during the Randy Orton and AJ Styles match that The Viper ended up apologizing for on Twitter.
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