We are mere days away from the greatest wrestling show of the year – Wrestlemania!
To celebrate the big show, airing live this Sunday from MetLife Stadium in
East Rutherford, NJ New York City, let’s breakdown each match on the card and how they came to be.
WINNER TAKES ALL TRIPLE THREAT MAIN EVENT MATCH
RAW WOMEN’S CHAMPION RONDA ROUSEY vs SMACKDOWN WOMEN’S CHAMPION CHARLOTTE FLAIR vs BECKY LYNCH
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but this is the historic first time women have main evented Wrestlemania and it happened totally organically. Also, never forget that it all started with Stephanie McMahon tweeting #GiveDivasAChance.
All joking aside, these three women could main event any show in the world that wasn’t held in Saudi Arabia.
Here’s how we got there. Way back at Wrestlemania 31, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H were confronted by The Rock, who joined forces with his friend from the audience – UFC legend Ronda Rousey. Three years later, they finally followed up and had a match. The Rock wasn’t available, so they stuffed Kurt Angle in a singlet and threw him back in the ring.
Ronda signed a full time contract with WWE, which saw her work at least 5 matches between WM34 and Summerslam, where she won the Raw Women’s Title.
Meanwhile, Charlotte Flair was minding her own business, being taller than everyone else, and got hurt. In her absence, her friend Becky Lynch earned herself a shot at the Smackdown Women’s Title. The woman who held that title is not important. Charlotte, however, was fully healed and returned to stick her big Flair nose in the match and make it a three-way.
Becky got jealous of Charlotte taking her opportunity when Charlotte was already a 20-time Smackdown Women’s Champion. Becky got REAL PISSED when Charlotte won the match, and that prompted a Becky heel turn. The fans sort of sided with Becky, though, since Becky was mostly right.
Becky won the title from Charlotte and was then scheduled to take on Ronda Rousey in a Champion vs Champion match at Survivor Series. Instead, Becky got her face broken from a nasty punch by Nia Jax. There was no follow-up feud between Becky and Nia. Seeing blood on Becky’s face reminded fans of Stone Cold Steve Austin, so that kind of ended her brief heel run.
All rumors suggested that WWE was going to have Charlotte and Ronda square off at Wrestlemania, possibly in the main event. Instead, WWE booked that match for Survivor Series just 5 days before the event. In it, Charlotte herself turns heel and beats the piss out of Rousey with a kendo stick. The match is a no contest.
At TLC, Becky and Charlotte face each other in the first ever triple threat women’s TLC match for the Smackdown Women’s Title. The woman who won that match is not important. At Royal Rumble, Becky had a match for the SD Women’s Title, but she tapped out. The woman who defended the title is not important.
During the Women’s Royal Rumble match, Becky Lynch made a surprise appearance, beating up an already injured Lana and taking her #30 spot. Becky is still a face. Becky eliminated Charlotte to guarantee her a Women’s Title shot at Wrestlemania. Even though Becky was a Smackdown competitor, she chose to face Rousey for the Raw Women’s Title. A Twitter war ensued.
Believe it or not, here’s where things get really muddy. Becky hurt her leg and refused to go to the doctor, so she got suspended. Becky beat up Stephanie and Triple H and was told she’d be fired unless she apologized. So, just as Stone Cold would’ve done, she apologized. DAFUUQ?
Becky was unsuspended, even though she still walked with a pronounced limp. Becky was then RESUSPENDED by Mr. McMahon, who replaced her in the Wrestlemania Raw Women’s Title match with Charlotte.
Somewhere along the way, Ronda Rousey decided wrestling and its fans were beneath her, so she turned heel. Everybody got arrested (Becky twice) and I guess Becky’s leg is better or maybe it isn’t. WWE explicitly stated that this match would main event Wrestlemania – you know, like they always do.
Finally, Charlotte Flair defeated a woman who is not important for the Smackdown Women’s Title on an episode of Smackdown Live. This made four other women who are not important seriously butt hurt. Stephanie McMahon then announced that this match would be Winner Take All – presumably just so Ronda Rousey can show up on both USA and Fox come September.
I know this story sounds convoluted, but I do like a lot of history going into a big match.
#KOFIMANIA WWE TITLE MATCH
“THE NEW” DANIEL BRYAN (c) vs KOFI KINGSTON
You may remember Daniel Bryan as the lovable underdog who, against all odds, won the WWE World Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania XXX. Unfotunately, during his run with the title, he hurt his brain real bad.
Bryan would finally be cleared to return to the ring after nearly three years. His return was, to put it kindly, totally shitty. He had a midcard tag team Wrestlemania match, feuded with Big Cass of all people, and reunited Team Hell No but failed to win the tag titles. We FINALLY got the Bryan/Miz matches people have been salivating over for years, and even that was kind of meh.
What does a guy do when he can’t catch a break? Did you say “punch AJ Styles in the balls”? Why not, it worked for Nakamura! Well, it worked even better for Bryan – he won the WWE Title.
So Daniel Bryan became THE NEW Daniel Bryan. In case you’re wondering, The New Daniel Bryan is a LOT more eco-friendly and he hates you because you’re fat and wasteful. He also got him a big bodyguard, which is Heel 101. Then he threw away the WWE Title belt (also Heel 101), and had him a new one made of wood and hemp.
Who would save us from The New Daniel Bryan? Would it be Mustafa Ali, the Heart of 205 Live? Mustafa Ali, the plucky cruiserweight who finally got his shot at the main roster and scored a pinfall on Daniel Bryan? Nope!
Mustafa Ali was booked to face Bryan (along with 4 other guys) in the Elimination Chamber, but got hurt less than two weeks out. Instead, WWE called an audible and threw New Day veteran Kofi Kingston in the mix. Kofi Kingston, the guy who does handstands in the Royal Rumble and is always game to show up in a ladder match with 7 or 8 other guys.
Unpredictably, the WWE Universe realized that Kofi had been their low key hero for years. Kingston scored the win in an epic gauntlet match on Smackdown Live (lastly pinning Bryan), then came within a breath of winning the WWE Title in the Chamber.
With fans rallying around Kofi, WWE just decided to go full Daniel Bryan 2014 on him. Mr. McMahon began dangling the Wrestlemania title match in front of Kofi and his New Day brothers, but screwed him over at every turn. Daniel Bryan called him a B+ Player – that thing they called Daniel Bryan!! THAT HEEL!!
Finally, with the entire New Day threatening to quit and spend time with their families (a thing Mr. McMahon hates most of all!), Big E and Xavier Woods won a tag team gauntlet match that made KofiMania a reality.
It’s the classic underdog vs insane tree hugger match.
UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH
BROCK LESNAR (c) vs SETH ROLLINS
Wrestlemania XXX – No way Brock Lesnar will break The Undertaker’s streak. Brock Lesnar breaks the streak.
Wrestlemania 31 – Lesnar will definitely pass the torch to Roman Reigns because he’s leaving. Seth Rollins cashes in MITB and wins the WWE Title. Lesnar re-signs.
Wrestlemania 34 – Roman Reigns will definitely win the Universal Title because Lesnar is leaving. Lesnar wins.
Summerslam 2018 – Roman Reigns will definitely win the Universal Title because Lesnar is leaving. AND ROMAN DOES. The Lesnar returns and wins it back at Crown Jewel.
You can say what you want about Brock Lesnar, but the dude is unpredictable.
And here we sit on the eve of yet another match that seems like a sure thing. Brock Lesnar is done with WWE. Brock Lesnar is going back to UFC. Is he? Would you leave a job where you make millions of dollars to show up a few times a year and NOT get punched for real?
Then there’s Seth Rollins, who won the Royal Rumble match to earn his shot at Lesnar. Rollins says Lesnar has had trouble with smaller, faster guys like AJ Styles, Finn Balor, and Daniel Bryan. Rollins says it’s his time to recapture the Universal Title and it’s Lesnar’s time to leave because everyone hates him.
Is it? I tend to think so, but I wouldn’t put money on it.
NO HOLDS BARRED MATCH – IF TRIPLE H LOSES, HE RETIRES
TRIPLE H vs BATISTA
So way back in 2000-whatever, Triple H started this group called Evolution. They were basically his Four Horsemen. You had the greatest of wrestling’s past (Ric Flair), wrestling’s present (Triple H), and wrestling’s future (Randy Orton and Batista).
Well, bad guy stables are gonna do what bad guy stables do, and it didn’t take long for the future to seek their shot at the present. First you had Randy Orton, who was kicked out of the group when he became World Heavyweight Champion. That just doesn’t fly with H, man.
Batista would go on to win the 2005 Royal Rumble match and score a Wrestlemania main event shot. He chose to face Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title. Do you think that sat well with Triple H? No it did not. Evolution was over.
Batista would go on to win the World Heavyweight Title at Wrestlemania 21, kicking off a hugely successful singles career. Batista and Triple H would clash many times over the years, all the way until Batista left to pursue an acting career.
The Animal was pretty successful in the acting world. Have you ever heard of James Bond? The Avengers? Star Wars? OK, not that last one, but he’s been in some big ones.
Batista returned to WWE in 2014, but unfortunately, nobody wanted to see him. And nobody especially wanted to see him in blue trunks. This forced an unplanned heel turn and the reunion of Evolution.
In Batista’s absence, Triple H had gained a great deal of power in WWE, which could be either advantageous or disadvantageous for The Animal. When H denied Batista a WWE Title opportunity, Dave packed up and went back to Hollywood.
Well, he’s back. And with an array of colored lenses!
After a tense Evolution reunion at Smackdown 1000, Batista made a surprise appearance during Ric Flair’s 70th Birthday Celebration on Raw earlier this year. And when I say surprise appearance, I mean he beat a 70-year old man to a pulp backstage. Surprise!
Batista would explain his actions by screaming “GIVE ME WHAT I WANT! GIVE ME WHAT I WANT!” at Triple H. Triple H relented to one last match with the Animal, on the stipulation that it would be No Holds Barred. Piledrivers for everyone!!!
Batista said no holds barred is great, but if Triple H loses, he has to quit wrestling for good. Triple H said that was just fine and dandy. Batista said to kiss his ass.
FALLS COUNT ANYWHERE MATCH
SHANE McMAHON vs THE MIZ
Oh, this crap.
At Crown Jewel, a farce of a tournament was held to crown “The Best In The World”. The tourney came down to The Miz (from Smackdown) and Dolph Ziggler (from Raw). The Miz ended up injured, so Smackdown Commissioner Shane McMahon stepped in to sub. Shane was able to defeat Ziggler, thus winning a dumb looking trophy and becoming the Best In The World.
Rather than feel annoyed by Shane stealing his thunder, Miz turned face and begged to form a tag team with his “co-Bestie”. After some pushback, Shane finally agreed. The duo would go on to win the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. The Miz told Shane that it was the first time The Miz’s dad (who has been portrayed as nothing but a loving father and supporter on the WWE shows “Total Divas” and “Miz & Mrs”) had ever told him he was proud of him.
Unfortunately, the Co-Besties didn’t hold the titles for long. After their loss to the Usos at WWE Fastlane, Shane turned heel and attacked both The Miz and his dad. FYI, his dad is a really ugly guy, so no one was sad he got beat up except The Miz.
Shane explained that he was tired of people using him to get ahead, and that he was going to use his authority to force The Miz into a match at Wrestlemania. Shane would later make the match Falls Count Anywhere. Because a Shane McMahon match without a stipulation is like a, well, a really bad match.
ROMAN REIGNS vs DREW McINTYRE
Roman Reigns was the WWE’s chosen successor to John Cena. It didn’t matter that over half of the fanbase didn’t want to see him – WWE doggedly forced Reigns into main event after main event. He beat Brock, he beat Triple H, he even beat The Undertaker at Wrestlemania.
Then he got leukemia. Is it bad that leukemia finally turned him face? What does that say about the audience? At any rate, Reigns was forced to relinquish the Universal Title in October in order to leave the WWE and fight his disease. No one knew how long he’d be gone. What if he died? You can’t boo a man if he might’ve died!
Miraculously, Roman Reigns returned in February cancer free! The leukemia was totally real and now it’s totally fine!! I mean it, I’m not suggesting anything.
And the fans went nuts. NUTS! No more Roman Sucks. No more boos. Roman Reigns is finally over.
With Seth Rollins already set to take on Brock Lesnar for the Universal Title in the main event of Wrestlemania – the title Reigns never lost in the event he’s main evented for the last 4 years – WWE didn’t have much of a choice.
They put him in a mid-card match with Drew McIntyre.
You know, Drew McIntyre, the Scottish psycopath? The guy who was #2 or #3 in Braun Strowman’s short lived Dogs of War group? You know, former NXT Champ Drew McIntyre, who dropped the title suddenly to Andrade “Cien” Almas and then was out for months due to injury? You know, former TNA/Impact star Drew McIntyre?
So Drew has attacked Roman and his Shield brothers a bunch over the last several weeks. Now Roman seeks revenge. In this mid-card match. At a time when he couldn’t have been more over.
WWE WOMEN’S TAG TEAM TITLE FATAL FOURWAY MATCH
The Boss & Hug Connection vs Natalya/Beth Phoenix vs Nia Jax/Tamina vs The IIconics
With so much of WWE TV focused on the three female main eventers, you can’t just stick the rest of the women in a battle royal. Can you? No, you definitely can’t. Good thing we have these new belts!
The WWE Women’s Tag Titles are brand new as of 2019. Sasha Banks and Bayley became the first champions in a great Elimination Chamber match and have since vowed to take on all comers.
“All comers?”, Natalya asked. Making her long unawaited return to the ring is WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix. I shouldn’t be too hard on Beth, since her in the ring is a thousand times better than her behind the announcers booth. Beth will team with longtime friend Nattie to try to recapture championship gold.
Instead of focusing on the champs and a returning hall of famer, WWE decided to dilute the match with two other tag teams. One’s big and nasty and one is annoying, and now they’re all feuding for the titles.
AJ STYLES vs RANDY ORTON
Randy Orton is a third generation WWE superstar. He’s been in the company since before he graduated middle school.
AJ Styles made a name for himself outside the WWE in places like Ring Of Honor, TNA, and New Japan. Since he debuted in WWE, he’s been calling Smackdown the house that AJ Styles built.
Randy Orton doesn’t like it when other people build his houses. Randy Orton really hates people who worked hard outside the WWE.
This match is basically RKO vs The Independents and workrate fans are salivating over it. Their promos, where AJ and Randy have been taking some great shots at each other’s careers, have been highlights on Smackdown Live. This match could steal the show.
UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH
SAMOA JOE (c) vs REY MYSTERIO
Samoa Joe won the US Title in a Fatal Fourway US Open Challenge match on Smackdown Live last month. Rey was also in that match.
Later, Rey got the pin on Joe in a tag team match.
That’s the only reason we’re having this match. If they have it at all. Rumor is Rey Mysterio’s ankle is hurt.
I can think of a lot of better opponents for Joe, but I’m really glad he gets to face a legend in a singles match at Wrestlemania.
KURT ANGLE’S FAREWELL MATCH
KURT ANGLE vs BARON CORBIN
Kurt Angle made his return to WWE as Raw GM the night after he was inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame. Unfortunately, being the Raw GM is a really terrible job, especially when you’re reporting to Stephanie McMahon.
Baron Corbin began undermining Angle’s authority to Stephanie, eventually getting Angle put on leave and then fired. Baron tried to get himself promoted to Raw GM, but the best he could get was Raw Constable.
Everyone hates Baron Corbin. He’s literally human garbage. Even though he no longer has an authority position, he still wrestles in dress pants and a vest. He’s the worst.
Angle would return as a wrestler last year. Even though he’d lost a step (or three), it was nice seeing him back in the ring. Until he turned purple and looked like he was gonna die, which was about 5 minutes into any match.
Since he doesn’t want to die, Angle announced he’d be retiring after one last match at Wrestlemania. Who would step into the ring with a living legend, truly one of the greatest to wear a pair of boots? John Cena – who made his debut against Angle? Samoa Joe or AJ Styles, who had history with him? Sting? The Undertaker? Brock Lesnar?
Because WWE hates us, they named Baron Corbin as his final opponent.
INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE MATCH
BOBBY LASHLEY (c) vs “THE DEMON” FINN BALOR
Lashley and Finn Balor have faced each other roughly 756 times in the past year alone. 0 of those matches have been notable. Nobody wants to see Lashley vs Balor again. So of course we get Lashley/Balor at Wrestlemania.
Oh wait, Balor is going to dress as The Demon? I’m all in.
SMACKDOWN TAG TEAM TITLE FATAL FOURWAY MATCH
THE USOS (c) vs RICOCHET/ALEISTER BLACK vs THE BAR vs RUSEV/SHINSUKE NAKAMURA
This match is so important, they announced it just yesterday.
Remember back when I was talking about The New Day having that gauntlet match to get Kofi in the WWE Title match? Well, The Usos were part of that gauntlet and, out of respect for The New Day, they forfeited.
On Smackdown Live, Wrestlemania host Alexa Bliss announced that, as punishment, The Usos would have to defend their titles in a Fatal Fourway.
Wait, as punishment they get to wrestle on the main show?
Couldn’t we have put the Hardys and a ladder in there and made this something good?
As a side note, Aleister Black & Ricochet are technically still in NXT. They’ll fight at NXT Takeover: New York for the NXT Tag Team Titles, then at Wrestlemania for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Could be a heck of a weekend for this strangely thrown together tag team.
WWE CRUISERWEIGHT TITLE KICK-OFF MATCH
BUDDY MURPHY (c) vs TONY NESE
Tony Nese won a cruiserweight tournament over on 205 Live to score a Wrestlemania title shot at Murphy.
I’d crap on how this was a kick-off show match, but I always watch the Wrestlemania Kick-Off and I never watch 205 Live, so this has to be seen as a big spot for these dudes.
ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYAL – KICK-OFF MATCH
Thus far, 29 men are announced for this battle royal, which you could also call the “get everybody in a match battle royal” or “The Braun Strowman Show”.
Braun Strowman was the first entrant into this battle royal. He said he wanted to be able to beat up 29 other guys. Well, ok then.
Saturday Night Live’s Colin Jost and Michael Che were then forced to enter this battle royal because they were feuding with Braun. I think because Jost said wrestling was fake and Braun choked him on Raw? And then they sent Braun a car, but Braun hates cars?
Anyway, don’t look for anyone but Braun Strowman to win this match. I kind of hope the SNL guys die.
WRESTLEMANIA WOMEN’S BATTLE ROYAL – KICK-OFF MATCH
OK, so you’re not good enough to be in the main event. You’re not Alexa Bliss. You’re not even quite good enough to be in the Tag Team Fatal Fourway match. That means WWE just flushes you down to the Women’s Battle Royal, live on the illustrious kickoff show.
I hope nobody bought new gear just for this.
Because they dumped extra teams into the tag title match, WWE will be scrambling to find NXT girls to fill this out to 20.
That’s all! I can’t wait for Sunday!!