On the whole, I'd call WrestleMania 35 a solid C+: some really-high highs (Kofi Kingston's big moment), some really-low lows (Batista demonstrating the coordination and stamina of a recently-unthawed iceman), a lot of stuff we won't remember in three days, but some pretty good matches otherwise. I'd say that in this era of eternal WrestleManias, 35 edges out 33 and obliterates 32, but I'd say 34 tops it on overall match quality and fun. Sunday night's show cruised along well enough for a while, but when it hit that wall, it hit that wall with a crunch.
As always, I learned a thing or two (or 10, thanks for reminding me, headline) as a result of watching WrestleMania 35, and while I continue to fight sleep, I may as well bleed my thoughts out.
10. Even Brock Lesnar's Had Enough Of These Endless Broadcasts
Lesnar's time as an absentee champion indicates that he'd rather do anything (go hunting, spend time with family, breakdance on a pile of Legos) than spend more time inside a WWE ring than his generous contract requires him to. When he and Seth Rollins were suddenly the opening match of the PPV card, that meant that either Rollins was going over in a shocking moment, or Vince just wanted to see if 80,000 people could hold a grudge for five straight hours.
I take it to mean that Brock's just sick of sitting there where the parade-o-epix plays itself out. There are only so many outdoorsman magazine articles one can read in one sitting ("How To Kill A Polar Bear With Just A Simple Household Pair Of Brass Knuckles") before one loses their mind like Wilford Brimley in The Thing. And as I groggily write these words at 2:30 in the morning local time, I'm with the Beast Incarnate.
9. Cesaro Is To Spinning What Andre Is To Drinking
We're used to Cesaro impressing us with his Cesaro Swing, going to the trouble of sometimes adding more revolutions than normal in order to astound us with his capacity to keep the dizzies away. His Cesaro Swing on Ricochet, however, set a new standard that may never be topped, as he spun and spun and spun and spun Prince Puma to where you almost expected the poor guy to projectile vomit like Linda Blair.
When the move finally ended (about five minutes into Angle/Corbin), Cesaro simply gave an exaggerated head shake, and continued onward, as though he didn't just spend an inordinate amount of time spinning in a circle. One assumes that's how Andre the Giant shook off the effects of 116 beers, with a slightly-vigorous face-quaker. Us mere mortals could never understand either.
8. George Mizanin Is A National Treasure
I don't think I could properly put into words just how adorable I think The Miz's father is. There's just something so magical about a non-wrestler (particularly a well-meaning relative of a wrestler) getting placed out of their element in some physical wrestling storyline, because something ends up looking amiss, and often comically so.
George Mizanin did not, DID NOT, disappoint. His physical altercation with Shane McMahon had me all giddy, and when it came to playing dead after Shane's punch barrage, he made sure to lay there as motionless as a high school gym mat. I half expected him to still be lying there in the following match, and eventually become a ring customization option on the WWE 2K games (APRON ACCESSORIES: regular apron skirt, LED board, inanimate body of George Mizanin).
7. Nothing Wrong With The Minimalist Approach
At first, when Kofi Kingston polished off Daniel Bryan with Trouble in Paradise to reconcile the dream, I was a bit off put. Not because Kingston won (even at his most candy-stealing sadistic, Vince wasn't giving us anything except Kofi's finest hour on Sunday), but because of how simple it felt. There were the usual near falls you'd get in a dramatic nailbiter, but not the volume we've gotten over recent years. When Kofi stomped Bryan's face into mush before landing one solitary spin kick, that was it.
And I liked it. Forty-eight hours after Johnny Gargano and Adam Cole kicked out of everything (finishers, aneurysms, boulders falling of them), it's good to see kill shots count. Sure, Kofi did kick out of one charging knee, but as the hero, he needed a bit of gut-check resilience. They found the groove here, and it capped off what was easily the best match of the night.
6. Rey's Injury Might Just Be A Happy Accident
I had high hopes that Samoa Joe and Rey Mysterio, easily two of the best 40+ year olds in the business today, could have the sleeper match of the night, but it instead *ended* in a sleeper after approximately one minute. Apparently, Mysterio's leg was still too damaged to go long, so the truncated length is understandable.
But how beneficial is that for Joe, a man who should be presented as the ruthless killer that we all know he can be? Taking a legend like Mysterio and cutting him down in accelerated time is a nice look for someone who up until a few months ago had been criminally overlooked (jobbing in seconds at Survivor Series comes to mind). Arrive, destroy, leave, that's an MO that Joe looks good carrying out. A good match would've been fun, but this works too.
5. There's An Obvious Pinpoint To The Energy Wall
I remember a year ago, when it felt like I was one of the nine people on the planet who gave WrestleMania 34 a thumbs up (the other eight being Nicholas Cone's classmates), people were commenting on how the crowd died in the second half of the show. Specifically, some critics noted that during the seventh PPV bout (pitting Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn), the air went out of the Superdome.
There's a parallel to this year, as right around the time Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre (the eighth match, which followed a minute-long seventh match), the spark just fizzled out. There were still two hours to go, and while the crowd did get up for certain instances, there was no denying where the car went off the cliff.
4. John Cena's A Worthwhile Nostalgia Act
Yes, he was booed into oblivion for over a decade, but with the benefit of hindsight it all seems so silly. I do concede that day-glo-shirted, happy namby-pampy Cena appealed to my senses the same way a Spotify playlist of accordion music does, but his energy and showmanship made up for the fact that his character didn't appeal to me. Doctor of Thuganomics Cena? Different story.
When Cena growled out the junior high-level insults in his Babe Ruth jersey to a poor, dumbstruck Elias, you could feel the vibe in the room go from "How long have we been awake?" to "Ooooh, this is spicy." in no time at all. It also made me realize how much I do miss having Cena around on a weekly basis. I'd take him back today, even the squeaky-clean version. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I guess.
3. Triple H Had No Fear Of His Career Ending
Think of the stakes here. If Triple H were to lose to Batista, he would be unable to wrestle the three or four matches a year that he currently performs in, which as you can imagine would've drastically left an unfathomable void in his life. Talk about a life and death scenario here, with so much riding on one much.
So of course, three hours before the FIGHT FOR HIS CAREER, there's Triple H hanging with his DX buddies, throwing glowsticks around with care-free whimsy. You'd think a man called "The Cerebral Assassin" would be more focused on the task at hand with his part-time wrestler status hanging in the balance. Of course, given how sluggish the match was, and how rough Batista was going to look out there, guess he had no reason to worry. The middle rope almost won the match for him, anyway.
2. Balor Fears Lashley (And Corbin) More Than Lesnar
This has been pointed out by others already, but it bears repeating here. When Finn Balor challenged Brock Lesnar (the scariest, most frighteningest bear-like cyborg this side of an animatronic Andre the Giant that's possessed by the devil) for the Universal title at the Royal Rumble, he opted not to apply his superpower-inducing Demon war paint. He lost that match, which again was for the brand's top prize.
But he busts the magical paint out for an IC title match against Lashley? And a nothing match against Caillou the GM Assistant at SummerSlam last year? Talk about having your priorities screwed up. Maybe Lesnar told him that he has a body paint allergy, and Balor wanted to be sportsmanlike? If so, the joke's on him.
1. Main Eventing WrestleMania Ain't All It's Cracked Up To Be
Reactions to the women's triple threat seem to vary, with some praising it as everything they hoped it'd be, and others feeling it didn't live up to the high expectations. I kinda straddle the fence here, agreeing that it was a bit clunky in spots, but ultimately there was enough good stuff there for me to see it as the second best match of the night.
It's a landmark moment for three talented women such as Ronda Rousey, Charlotte Flair, and Becky Lynch to main event WrestleMania, and they all deserve that moment. But in these circumstances, where the bell sounded around midnight seven hours after a lot of these fans first found their seats, what good is main eventing when you're partially behind the eight-ball? Rollins had it better when he stomped Lesnar down at 7:15 PM EST, as did Kofi when he realized his dream at quarter to 10. The big fight feel just wasn't there for the triple threat, and it did diminish it a tad. They deserved better, as do everyone that's gone on in Mania's final hour in these last four years.