Hello everyone and welcome to the Wrestlemania 35 review edition of Planet Kayfabe. For this piece, I am bringing back the old "THE GOOD/THE BAD" format where I simply run down the highlights and low-lights of the show and then sum it up at the end with a final grade using my highly scientific and world-renowned Goth Babe scale. If this is your first time here, I'm happy to have you. It was a long... long... f***ing long show so there's a lot to get into. Let's start with the good news. Live from MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, this was Wrestlemania 35.
"The New" Daniel Bryan vs Kofi Kingston:
Including the pre-show, this was the 10th match overall on the card and where the show peaked. Kofi Kingston defeated Daniel Bryan to win the WWE Championship. The match got just under 24 minutes, making it the 2nd longest match on the show behind Triple H and Batista that was one minute longer.
If I were to rate this match I'd go 5/5 Goth Babes. In my opinion, this was clearly the best match on the show. There were plenty of other good matches, but this was a truly great match and unlike a certain match on this show (which I will get to later) the right guy won and was also put over the correct way.
I can't take anything away from the winner, Kofi Kingston, but Daniel Bryan was unreal here. I don't mean this as a shot, but Kofi Kingston is a B+ worker which is still very good. Daniel Bryan, however, is still an A worker and can elevate any capable worker from looking beyond 'very good' to excellent. The more I watch him the more I forget he even retired and the more I'm glad he recovered enough to be cleared by WWE. Bryan worked hard to come back and he hasn't missed a step and because he understands how wrestling works he actually put over Kofi the right way. Giving us a memorable match with a great finish and making the guy going over look like a worthy champion.
When people say matches don't matter and its all about the characters I point to moments like this. They both matter. Its a case of one hand washing the other. Great characters can sometimes make up for bad matches but eventually, the people are going to want more sizzle on their steak. On the opposite side a great worker can sometimes make up for their lack of character but they rarely have stories with any heat because their personalities don't capture the mass audience. Here we have a case where both are a great character and like I said before Daniel Bryan is one of the best workers in the world and Kofi Kingston is one of the top workers in WWE.
This wasn't just a special moment for Kofi but for the fans as well. We saw a truly great match and it has been a while since I've seen a true match-of-the-year candidate at Wrestlemania. Remember last year when the best match was Hunter and his wife vs Ronda and Kurt Angle? The fans were invested in the entire contest and got swept in for the ride. In the end, Bryan stuck a final LeBell lock on Kofi after a few very well done near-finishes. The fans got behind Kofi chanting "New-Day-Rocks" as Kofi began to power out, make his comeback and finish with the Trouble In Paradise for the win. After the match, the New Day ditched Bryan's custom title and brought back the old leather and gold WWE Championship that already had Kofi's custom plates on it. The New Day celebrated as Kofi's kids also joined in while they passed around championship shirts. It was as perfect a pure babyface finish as you're going to get in this era. A great match that was well paced, wasn't too short, wasn't too long, the heel got great heat, the babyface got the fans behind him, the hero won clean -- you can't ask for much more than that. I stand by that 5 Goth Babe rating.
Seth Rollins slays "The Beast":
The match officially went 2 and a half minutes but there was a lot of brawling before the bell officially rang. The show began with Alexa Bliss, who was our host of the evening (I guess?) and she introduced Hulk Hogan to hype up the fans for yet another Wrestlemania. He did his usual shtick for about a minute until Paul Heyman came out while Hogan was posing to his music to say that if Brock isn't going to be in the main event then he is just going to get his match out of way right now to start the show.
It was like a lot of Brock matches where he tossed around the smaller guy. It was not a classic match by any means. There was a ref bump and Seth hit a low blow on Brock, a call-back to Raw, with the ref distracted. Some babyface. He hit 3 Curb Stomps and won and the crowd popped huge for this opener. In my preview, I picked Brock to win, but it was clear from the start that this was designed to make Seth shine even though they still kind of protected Brock by having Seth hit an illegal shot to the dick. The people like Seth and maybe with the Universal Championship on TV every week people will finally start to care about this belt. In its short lifespan it has been mostly held by Brock Lesnar who in his two combined runs has held it for 660 days. The belt itself hasn't even been around for 3 years yet. The longest full-time worker to hold it is Kevin Owens who held the title for 188 days in 2016 to lose it to Goldberg who then lost it to Lesnar to start his first run that would last for 504 days.
The Universal Championship's rarity has not made it feel more special. I wasn't against the idea of a part-time champion coming in as an attraction, but WWE has been cheap and they weren't booking Brock enough to keep people interested. Seth should get a good run. There were a few times here and during the pre-show where he was referred to as an "up-and-comer". He's not. He's going to 33 next month. These are Seth's prime years where he should be world champion. It makes no sense to treat him like some spunky rookie. They should talk about him like he is an equal to the other top guys especially since he's already been a world champion. They shouldn't talk about him like he's some firey kid full of steam looking to make a name for himself. He has arrived. Present him like fans are actually watching someone at their best hanging with the best in the business. Not like some kid on a hot streak.
The Doctor of Thuganomics Returns:
Elias, who declared himself to be the musical entertainment of the night, created his own one-man-band. As he went into his "WWE stands for..." bit a video packaged aired showing Babe Ruth calling his shot (they are in "the shadow of New York" after all) and hitting a home run. A little side note I'm sure many of you won't care about, but baseball fans will know that if someone called their shot today they'd be heckled and bashed on Twitter for being "classless" and not playing the sport "the right way". That is just funny to me.
John Cena came out to his old "Basic Thuganomics" song from those old Ruthless Aggression days. Cena came out dressed in a Yankees throwback with his hat on backward and his old chain. I guess you really can leave the street but the street never leaves you. Cena rhymed about turning heel (INSIDER TERM POP!!!!) It was as close to a non-PG Cena rap as you're going to get calling Elias a "little piece of Shih Tzu" because you can't say "shit" but you can say a word that partly sounds like it. In the end, Cena said he had no AA for Elias but he had an F-U (same move, just in its previous TV-14 name). Cena took out Elias to close hitting his spots and posing for the crowd.
It was a nice surprise, but I also felt old seeing John Cena dressed like this in a nostalgic role on Wrestlemania where he really should have had a match and you know which one I'm talking about. It was a lot of fun though.
Batista gets a star's sendoff:
Unlike Kurt Angle (which I will get to) Batista went out at Wrestlemania like a star against a star in Triple H. I have mixed feelings about the match. I am a fan of both. I respect them for working hard. However, they are both too old and in Batista's case too rusty to really give us a special match. The crowd was pretty dead for it. This felt like it was more for Dave Bautista than it was for the actual fans live and watching at home. It was the longest match of the night when it had no business at all taking up a half hour of this show. Both guys got cool entrances, but again, this wasn't the main event. Why was so much time dedicated to this? I mean, I know why, but it doesn't make sense.
The match itself was better than I expected, but I expected a less than 2-star match and I'd probably give this 2.5 stars. Triple H looked as good or better than I expected coming off his torn pec just this past November so good on him for training hard to make this match even possible. No one can question his toughness. Batista said in his promo on Raw a few weeks back that this would be his last match, but the announcers never played it up, so maybe he wasn't supposed to say that. Today, Batista announced his official retirement. He is 50 years old and has a successful career in film going for him right now, so good for him. This is how he should go out at the biggest show against a big star wearing actual gear and not a Staples manager uniform.
Aside from the slow work and all the smoke and mirror cliches, the only thing I can really nitpick is the finish. Ric Flair came out of nowhere to give Triple H his sledgehammer which is Ric's revenge on Dave for taking him out on his birthday. It is good storytelling, but I would have had something cheap happen prior to this in the actual match. Maybe have fellow former Evolution member, Randy Orton, come out and his Triple H with an RKO and put Batista over him for a near-fall. Then a double assault ensues and while HHH starts to come back, Ric appears to give Hunter the hammer to help him lay out both Randy and Dave. Whatever, though. It's not like the finish was that bad. It just could have been better. Congratulations on a great career and your retirement, Batista.
AJ Styles vs Randy Orton:
I thought this match had the potential to steal the show, but instead, it was just a very good match. In the end, it was a good match with the babyface going over. The only complaint was that I was expecting something of a 4-star level. This was not, but I have no problem with these two continuing their feud going forward. It was good, just not great. The match would probably get a 3.5 from me. This was still probably my second favorite match on the show, but it is hard to say since the main event was also very good and I'd probably give the same 3.5 rating.
Now for the bad news
The Show Is Too Long:
Let's get the obvious out of the way first. Including the pre-show (which it appeared the vast majority of fans live actually attended, which is important here) the show was 7 and a half hours long. The officially run-time on the WWE Network for the main show is 5 hours, 24 minutes, 19 seconds. That is ridiculous. Officially there were 16 matches. 4 on the pre-show and 12 on the main card. It's simple. The show was too long. We got to see a 5-star world title match, that was the 10th match of the night... IN THE MIDDLE OF THE SHOW! That's where the fans pretty much died and I don't blame them. They reacted well enough to everything before that but after that great match, they pretty much saved their energy for the main event that really didn't have as much heat as it would have if the show was longer.
Local time, the show started at 5 PM Sunday and ended at 12:24 AM on Monday. There is no reason for the shows to be so long. It just ground down these fans to nothing. I'm not in favor of Wrestlemania being a 2-day event. Actually, any time I hear that come up I always think that will be the day I tap out if indeed WWE makes Wrestlemania a weekend event because I know exactly what would happen. We wouldn't get two 3 hour shows. We would get two 4 hour shows and in 5 years they'd be 6-hour shows. No. Just take the one show you have and cut the fat. This was otherwise a very good show.
The Pre-show was pointless:
This may not come as a shock but if Wrestlemania 36 is as long as Wrestlemania 35 I don't expect there to be as many fans attending the pre-show live as there were here and just save their energy for the shit that matters. The pre-show was not particularly good or eventful at all. We had a Cruiserweight title change, but it was just a match. Nothing special. Carmella won the Women's Battle Royal and it was every WWE battle royal ever with someone hiding and the finish being a heel thinking they won, but at the end, some supposed babyface who spent the entire match outside the ring comes in as a surprise and throws out the heel to win. f***ing lame.
Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins won the Raw tag titles. Curt was dressed like a member of the New York Jets of the National Football League which is perfect for someone working the gimmick of a loser. I guess I'm happy for them getting their moment but once again title prestige was sacrificed in the "you deserve it" era just to give someone a participation trophy and a gold star. This didn't kill the titles. The f***ing B-Team won these same belts last year and The Rival lost a bunch of matches as champions. In the end, the B-Team II won and I wouldn't be shocked if they lost tonight on Raw. Enjoy the moment, though. Curt Hawkins made all those legendary New York Jets like Neil O'Donnell, Browning Nagle and Mark Sanchez proud on one night.
Braun Strowman won the Andre Battle Royal. Again, it was every battle royal ever. Which means it sucked. As usual, nothing that happened in the pre-show will influence my final grade but the fact remains that this was just another 2 hours added to a show that didn't need it at all.
The IIconics win the Women's Tag Team Championships:
Remember when I said you're going to hate the idea of women's tag titles when they become EVERY other tag title in WWE? Well, here ya go. As I've said numerous times, I would have had Sasha and Bayley hold these titles for a year and really establish them. Instead... They lost to the IIconics. A team that just won their 2nd match since last October, so they are pretty much the B-Team/Hawkins and Ryder of the women.
Sasha and Bayley's run as the inaugural champions didn't even last 2 months. 49 days officially and they lost to a team that cheated to win what wasn't even a contender's match. They were just inserted into the match and that's it. They IIconics are your new champions. It's going to sound like I'm burying them, but I'm not. The IIconics do NOT deserve it. I get they were crying in the ring like a couple of emo saps and it was a nice moment for them at Wrestlemania but it really does nothing for these titles that are supposed to mean something and don't now that they are on a couple of losers who also suck in the ring.
But hey, its the "you deserve it" era. Everyone gets a run. Every shitty wrestler who loses a lot and suddenly wins a belt gets a pop because the perception is because they lose they are being "held down" by WWE. I get that their win got a pop, but don't let that fool you. Every title win, especially on a big PPV like Wrestlemania gets a f***ing pop. A pop doesn't mean someone is over. I could go out there and be booked to win a title as a surprise and get a pop. That doesn't mean when I come out on TV a week later that people are suddenly going to give a shit about me. The IIconics are probably going to be what they've always been and that's a couple of losing heels who are going to lose a bunch of non-title matches and win their title defenses in the cheapest fashion. Pretty much a tag-team champion version of Carmella during her title run last year and look what it did for that title. This just goes to show how little the belts mean in 2019. They have this new title and instead of establishing it as something special it is already just another toy to parade around. I'm also not looking forward to the IIconics being on both shows. Again, if you like them... good for you. They seem like sweet girls and I can tell they're having a lot of fun living their dream. Fantastic. There's a bunch of people having fun living their dream on that roster that I don't think should be anywhere near a title belt. It's the YOU DESERVE IT era though. Everyone gets a belt and therefore winning a belt isn't really that special anymore aside from a few very rare occasions like Kofi Kingston's win which almost reminded me of when Mick Foley won his first WWF Championship and it felt like a real moment to the fans. This was just a pop because the fans saw a title change. It doesn't mean shit other than these tag titles are just going to be bounced around on anyone with no direction or reason like all the other belts.
Kurt Angle's farewell:
After all of Kurt's contributions to the WWE and the wrestling business, this was his send-off. It was pretty underwhelming. Kurt having to wrestle a total non-talent joke that nobody cares about and isn't a star at all. This was just sad and not for the reasons that it should have been. I don't mind Kurt doing the job at all on the way out, but if he isn't going to wrestle someone the caliber of a John Cena in terms of star-power he should have won and if he just had to lose he should have lost to someone he's never faced before instead of rehashing this stale feud and giving the heel the last laugh.
I did enjoy the final spot. Kurt pretty much waved goodbye to the fans as they stood up and he went to the top rope to attempt a moonsault. I believe this was his first moonsault attempt since returning to WWE, but I'm not sure. He missed. Baron hit his move and won clean. That's your finish to Kurt Angle's career. I find it weird how all the other legends they portray as "never looking better" but with Kurt ever since he returned to the ring they put him out there with scrub talents, taking clean jobs and even commentary saying he's too old to hang with the younger talents. Again, it's fine having the older guy put over the younger guys, but at least do it in a meaningful program.
Some people said Baron should get the "rub". There's no rub to be had here because Kurt was never booked strong since returning to the ring. It wasn't that long ago when he was straight up SQUASHED by Drew McIntyre in the main event of Raw. Baron Corbin isn't going to become a bigger heel for beating Kurt Angle (AGAIN) in what was already announced as his retirement match anyway. Look at the reaction of the fans. They didn't react like Corbin is a dick for beating the guy. They reacted like "I can't believe they booked Kurt to lose to this guy on his way out". Remember when Corbin was General Manager and he got all those promo segments and backstage segments AND main evented all those Raws and the shows sucked and the ratings tanked? There's your future if you have some sort of big plan for Corbin, WWE.
As for Kurt, he's obviously one of the best ever and he deserved better. The fans wanted Cena. He was there. WWE still went through with this. They even did a poll on social media before Kurt announced Corbin as his opponent asking who he should pick and the people chose Cena. It's funny, WWE always boasts about their billions of social media follows. It would be nice if they listened to them once. Anyway, thanks for all the great memories, Kurt. I'm glad your life is back on track.
The finish of the main event:
Like I said earlier the Women's Championship main event was possibly my 2nd favorite match of the night but it is close between this and Orton and AJ's match. It was a fun match and all three women worked hard, Charlotte especially, and put on a very good match.
The finish, however -- was hot shit.
Obviously, the right person went over. It was botched a little with Ronda's shoulders not even down for the count for either the 1 or 1 and 2 counts, but even without the botch, this was a bad finish for the main event for Wrestlemania. This wasn't a Wrestlemania main event finish. It felt like a television non-title finish to set up a PPV match. It's simple. Someone has to do the job and someone has to get over. You can't always put over EVERYONE. This finish felt like it was designed more to protect Ronda than it was to put over Becky. A loss isn't the end of the world. I would have preferred Becky making Ronda tap out because it would have been huge. In all of Becky's promos, she said she was going to make Ronda tap so its not like there was no build to a submission. It was in all of our minds. Instead, Becky counters Ronda's Piper's Pit slam, hooks her arms and gets a count for what felt like a flukey win.
If they were going to do a pinfall instead of having Ronda tap they should have built to the finish and had Becky win clean as a sheet like Kofi did against Bryan. THAT is how you put someone over. If you try and protect everyone then no one really gets over. Ronda should have been laid out, pinned and looking up at the lights. Instead, she was hooked in a glorified roll-up, pinned for the 3 count and then got up to argue with the ref, so it's not even like Ronda was truly beaten. She was just down for 3 seconds and Becky lucked into a win. It felt pretty weak for what was supposed to be a great moment. On top of that, there is the botch where Ronda's shoulders weren't even down. Corey Graves even pointed this out but I'm not sure if he was supposed to. It was obvious, though.
Becky has survived a lot of booking gaffes in 2019 and I hope she survives this. Tapping to Asuka. Having to sell that knee for 3 months. Backdooring into this match with help from Ronda by getting DQ'ed and laughing and accepting that as the finish instead of demanding the match be re-started. Its almost as if they've been testing the fans to see if they really like Becky instead of really booking her like a star. It was simple. Ronda makes everyone tap. Becky's finish is a submission. You're putting Becky over. Make Ronda tap. Instead, the main event ends out of nowhere on a pinfall counter. The right person went over and the people cheered but I do wonder how this finish will affect how crowds react in the future especially if they mention Ronda's shoulders being up on TV tonight. It just goes to show you have to stick the landing. This wouldn't be the first good match that I've seen get a little rotten because of a weak finish. The rumors were that Ronda would be taking time off after Wrestlemania and even if you don't believe the rumors the reports are that Ronda broke her hand in the match so she won't be around to dispute the finish anyway. Becky should have just won clean and decisively.
Thanks for reading everyone. My final grade for Wrestlemania 35 is 7/10 Goth Babes. It was a mostly good show but the length really hurt it. Most of the matches were good. It was really the run time that killed this crowd. If the pre-show was an hour and you shaved an hour and a half off the main card this show would have been so much better. I know they want to give everyone their "moment" but this show is just too long. Not everyone needs to be at Wrestlemania. Not everyone deserves to be, either. You don't deserve it, random, faceless jobbers. The fans deserve a show that starts and ends at a decent hour and doesn't feel like an uncomfortable chore. This is why kids don't watch WWE anymore. The shows and the PPV's are too damn long.
Kofi Kingston's title win, as I said before, kind of felt like Mick Foley's WWF Championship victory on Raw against The Rock. It felt like something special that all the people really wanted to see, got to see, and were thrilled in the end. That's the great thing about pro-wrestling. If you think babyfaces and heels don't matter anymore, you're wrong and this match is another example why. This was simply a good guy vs a bad guy match and it got the biggest reaction of the night. These stories still matter and they are good stories. The more shades of gray you have the more fans get confused and pick their own side. That works sometimes, but more of the time it hurts the heat of an angle because they are usually poorly told stories and the fans have no idea who they should cheer or boo so you get silence. Here you knew who the good guy and the bad guy was and the good guy won and the fans celebrated with him. That's classic pro-wrestling right there. This was the highlight of the night and the best match of the night.
Thanks again for reading. I hope you enjoyed this review of Wrestlemania 35. I hope you enjoy Raw tonight. I'm glad this week is over. Here's to a new year on the WWE calendar. Follow me on Twitter @PlanetKayfabe. God bless and take care.