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MetLife ‘Mania sends fans home happy after near-perfect night of booking

Metlife Stadium was home to the 35th anniversary of Wrestlemania. A show filled with 80,000 plus were on the edge of their seats for the majority of it.

If ever there were a night where WWE delivered on nearly every match result, tonight was that night.

This was one for the ages. The pacing was brilliant. The decisions that so many jaded fans expected to see, they didn’t, and for once, on a show that didn’t have NXT in front of it, the good folks got what they wanted with very few exceptions.

Starting with the pre-show, and hitting it very quickly because it’s late as heck as I type this out on behalf of the Scrum, we’ll hit those quickly.

Tony Nese defeated Buddy Murphy via pin fall with a knee strike to win the Cruiserweight Title.

I’m sure a great many of us fully expected Murphy to continue his winning ways to begin the broadcast.

After an early injury to his left eye, which Murphy looked to do to himself, these two former friends paced this out perfectly, hitting many of their signature spots.

Nese was able to escape after Murphy’s Law, and you got that sense of, can he, will he? Well, he did. Nese was able to get Murphy into the corner and after a knee strike, he covered him and we have a new Cruiserweight Champion.

Murphy had been a fine champion and he may very well be again, but Nese have worked his tail off since the show’s inception and he was rewarded as a result of such.

The crowd started to fill in, the look of the show as grandiose and gorgeous, the video wall had to be the highlight of the set design. it was massive and stood out, showcasing the entrances and the graphics for such perfectly.

We saw a hall of fame panel throughout the pre-show, featuring the likes of Booker T, Shawn Michaels, JBL, Jerry Lawler and others, along with the usual mainstays.

The women headed to the ring next, and we get several entrances, such as Asuka, Naomi and a smattering of others. Many expected a Lacey Evans victory here, but she wasn’t even in the match.

Carmella won the Women’s Battle Royale after eliminating Sarah Logan.

This was quite entertaining. We had several faces from NXT, including the “Pirate Princess” Kairi Sane, Candice Lerae and a returning Ember Moon. Several had good showings, but they really used this to highlight Sarah Logan of all people.

Logan had a great battle royale, eliminating many names, including Asuka. It looked as if she was going to be a new face in the title picture on Raw, but Carmella appeared from behind, having been hidden under the ring for a good portion of the match. She dumped Logan and we come away with a feel good face on top.

This was only one of the booking decisions that was questionable because she didn’t need it and it seemed like an opportunity to reward Asuka for recent abysmal booking or to develop a new star, such as Logan.

Either way, Carmella is over and it should elevate her back into the title picture, sooner, rather than later.

Shawn Michaels talks about the Batista/Triple H match and how Batista has been carrying a chip on his shoulder for some time, and it led to his attack on Ric Flair, which set their match in motion this evening.

The Raw tag team champions are up next, here we go.

Curt Hawkins and Zach Ryder defeat The Revival via pin fall after a Hawkins roll-up on Dawson to win the Raw tag team titles.

That was not a typo. After 270 or so losses, Curt Hawkins was the feel good story here. Many people were very pleasantly surprised by this, as Hawkins was the man to capture the pin fall, surprising Dawson with a rollup for the victory.

We not only have new tag team champions, as Ryder and Hawkins best “top guys”, but this was thrown together a little under a week ago. They could have gone with Black and Ricochet in this one, but they didn’t.

Did people love this? Sure. Was it the right call? You be the judge and jury in that equation. I think we’ll see The Revival heading on to greener pastures sooner, rather than later in this case, as not only were they booked on the pre-show, but they lost to a perennial jobber who is back on top of the world here.

Hawkins is a fine hand, Ryder is always entertaining, perhaps this is one off moment like when Ryder won the IC Title, I suppose we’ll find out on Raw in the coming weeks. The crowd loved it, so you have that.

The men begin to head down the ramp after some more conversation with the kickoff panel, including Booker T. There’s a Luke Harper sighting, which gets a good pop, and Michael Che and Colin Jost make their way down the ramp next.

Jost gets destroyed by the crowd, he’s rocking an Odell Beckham Jr. Browns jersey, that is great. Strowman is out last and he strips off the shirt, something we don’t see often, and the dude is jacked.

Braun Strowman wins the Andre The Giant Battle Royale after eliminating Che and Jost.

It’s quick and it’s a full on Strowman show as he tears through a majority of the udnercard and midcard roster in this one.

Che and Jost crawl under the ramp, surely hanging out with Hornswaggle as Braun has his way with the talent. It ultimately comes down to Matt and Jeff Hardy trying to dump Strowman as the SNL hosts head back into the ring to help.

Strowman fights them off and dumps the Hardy Boyz before Michael Che is pushed out. Jost is then hoisted over the head of the “Monster Among Men” before he is pressed out onto the floor. The bell sounds and Strowman wins.

That does it for the pre-show and the main show starts with Yolanda Adams performing “America The Beautiful”. There is a flyover at the end and the crowd reacts nicely for that. It was very well done.

Alexa Bliss is the host of Wrestlemania and she comes out and talks about hosting this evening. She states that if she snaps her fingers, she can produce a Wrestlemania moment, and she does just that, bringing out the controversial Hall of Famer, “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan.

it’s hard to gauge the reaction, but Hogan does Hogan things and when that’s all said and done, Paul Heyman, “The Advocate” for the “Beast” Brock Lesnar, pushes his way past all this and he heads to the ring, getting a mic.

We sat there watching this, a great many of us and stated that surely they wouldn’t be starting out with this, well they did, and the booking and pacing only got better from there.

Heyman stated that if his client wasn’t going on last in the main event this evening, he’d rather get things over with, and move on to more “ultimate” concerns. Lesnar heads to the ring with the Universal Title, and we then get “The Beast Slayer” Seth Rollins, out next with a wicked graphic featuring a sword piercing the beast’s skull. The crowd marks out.

Seth Rollins defeats Brock Lesnar via pin fall with the Blackout Stomp to become the new Universal Champion.

Lesnar beat the brakes off Rollins before the bell even sounded. Rollins was manhandled and thrown pillar to post outside the ring by Lesnar, and all signs pointed to this being a glorified squash before he even get rolling.

Well, it sort of was, just not in the manner many of us expected.

Once the champion and challenger were back in the ring, Rollins ate several german suplexes, but he quickly got things rolling himself after a ref bump. He nailed Lesnar with a low blow and then he nailed a superkick and three Blackout stomps in quick succession. He covered Lesnar and before we knew it, there was a newly crowned Universal Champion.

Rollins celebrated and the crowd went bananas as Lesnar and Heyman hightailed it out of Metlife. Rollins celebrated and held the belt up, and once atop the ramp, he proceeded to sling it around like he used too. We now have a champion who will be on the live broadcast each and every week. That is certainly refreshing.

After the “Beast Slayer” has his moment, we keep the action going as the “Face That Runs The Place”, AJ Styles, is out next to compete against “The Viper” Randy Orton on the big stage.

AJ Styles defeats Randy Orton via pin fall with the Phenomenal Forearm.

This was a surprise. I’m pretty sure that everyone and their brother had pegged Orton to come away with the victory here for the sake of needed momentum, but the grizzled veteran did “the favors” for another veteran presence in this high stakes matchup.

Orton gets fair criticism on occasion for his slow and methodical style, but with how they paced out ‘Mania this evening, this was well done. Was it a five star match? No, it probably wasn’t, but they delivered and entertained fans in the process.

The aspect of realism that both men added to this feud made it must see, and after eating the dreaded RKO on Smackdown, Styles made Orton bite on a fake and ultimately, he nailed his finish and came away with a three count as he more than likely heads to Raw, perhaps with Orton, in the upcoming Superstar Shakeup. Kudos to both men for an enjoyable match here.

Lacey Evans, who didn’t even think it was worthwhile to enter the Women’s battle royale earlier during the pre-show, came out and did her “Sassy Southern Belle” thing. Boy, have they botched these initial NXT call-ups, or what?

Now that that’s over, it’s time for the Smackdown tag team title match and we’re down since, day one-ish, and the Usos come out with some fantastic ring gear, bright white for the bright lights.

The Usos defeat Ricochet/Aleister Black, Nakamura/Rusev and The Bar via pin fall after a double splash by the Usos on Sheamus to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Titles.

This was great. Everyone got in some amazing spots, including a segment where everyone hit their finishers in succession. After a Brogue Kick from Sheamus cleared Nakamura from the ring, a superkick sandwich and a double splash ended the night for the “Celtic Warrior”, but they had the best spot in the match, in my opinion.

There was a duel Big Swing/Beats of the Bowery from Sheamus and Cesaro on Black and Ricochet and that went on forever. It was athleticism and power on display and the crowd loved it.

Ricochet looked to have it locked down after a 630 splash, but it wasn’t to be after the pin was broken up. Hopefully Black and Ricochet find a home on Raw, because the tag division needs all the help, especially young help, that it can get right now.

The 2019 Hall Of Fame class was presented next and it was fun. Torrie Wilson was radiant as always, it was great to see Brutus Beefcake, Honky Tonk Man, Harlem Heat, The Hart Foundation and this year’s Warrior Award Recipient, Sue Atchinson, but it was DX who really had some fun. Seeing Billy Gunn there after he signed with AEW was fun, and this was a solid class of inductees. Torrie Wilson had a great speech the night before. Go check that out if you haven’t seen it yet.

A package highlighting the outstanding feud between Shane McMahon and The Miz leads us to our next match. This could be fun.

Shane McMahon defeats The Miz via pin fall in a Falls Count Anywhere match after landing on the Miz after a high spot.

This was so well done. I don’t know if any moment brought this Scrum writer more joy then watching George Mizanin take a good old fashioned butt whippin’ at the hands of the younger McMahon.

Mizanin puts up his dukes and got a thorough pummeling which set the Miz off. Miz controlled much of this match and he bounced Shane-O-Mac on every pillar and every post. Miz dumped Shane over a guard rail at one point, where Shane bounced to the floor and it looked like it hurt.

The finish came with a breathtaking spot, and while Miz gets a lot of heat for always working smart and safe and not taking high risk chances, he did the damnedest thing tonight.

He executed a suplex off the top of a scaffold on McMahon through a stage about fifteen feet below. That takes a great deal of trust. The visual was great and McMahon won the match simply because the landing had him atop the Miz. This feud will surely continue and the Miz has to come away with a crucial victory.

We all questioned whether the Miz as a face would work, but everyone is surely sympathetic to him after McMahon beat the brakes off “dear old Dad” this evening. Fantastic fun here.

The Iiconics defeated Bayley/Sasha Banks, Tamina/Nia Jax and Beth Phoenix/Natalya to become the new Women’s tag team champions.

This is the match that is going to get all the heat and it already has.

Bayley and Sasha Banks were fantastic in this match. Nia Jax had the coolest look easily as everyone made their entrance. Beth Phoenix showed that even as a Hall Of Famer, she can still go better then half the roster, which is somewhat sad.

Peyton Royce and Billy Kay took advantage of a Glam Slam from Phoenix on Bayley and they dumped the Hall of Famer to the outside where Billie Kay scored the pin fall for the shocking upset.

The crowd and many watching worldwide love the duo, but they aren’t exactly Steve Austin or Bret Hart in the ring. Can they get better? Sure. Will they get better? Probably. If anything, this was probably a reward for always being entertaining and being the true definition of a tag team, as they are always together inside and outside the ring.

Nobody ever really talks about keeping the “business” alive on the road and on social media, but they do it perfectly. Congratulations to Kay and Royce, they might hold the titles for a cup of coffee and this was indeed a polarizing decision, but it was a “feel good moment” of sorts at the same time.

Here we go! We get a magnificent presentation of the “accidental tourist” in the main event scene and if you ever wondered how you capitalize on being given a chance, look up Kofi Kingston’s road to Wrestlemania, it’s the textbook design on how to do so.

It’s no secret that I have been a fan of his since his debut in the fed years back, including the time when he bested Chris Jericho for the IC Title on Taboo Tuesday. Yeah, go find that footage for a laugh.

Kofi Kingston defeated Daniel Bryan via pin fall with Trouble In Paradise to become the new Smackdown World Champion.

The New Day had a grand entrance and Kingston was in there against a true ring general.

Think about this, the crowd was actually cheering for Kingston to beat one of the greatest wrestlers of all time, a man who reinvented himself after coming back from something he shouldn’t have returned from.

Bryan was methodical and calculating. He had a sadistic grin set upon his face as he placed Kingston in the Labell Lock. The road looked as if it were going to end for Kofi several times.

The New Day was able to remove Rowan from the equation on the outside after the big man ran roughshod through them seconds before. Big E. and Xavier Woods hit the Midnight Hour and after Kingston countered the Labell Lock and the savage stomp package, he hit several well-placed stomps of his own before hitting Trouble In Paradise.

Kingston covered Bryan and the improbable dream came true. I, as well as a multitude of others, were truly and legitimately happy to see him hoisting the title high. Kingston had his children in the ring with him. Members of the New Day were genuinely excited for this great moment.

The New Day presented Kofi with a classic world title with his nameplates set upon it already and even if he’s champ for a cup of coffee, he darn sure deserved this and as one of the most beloved members of the roster, everyone backstage was cheering him on. Congratulations to Kingston and to Bryan, this was easily the match of the night.

Alexa Bliss walks into a trainer’s room labeled “mortuary” to have words with Michael Che and Colin Jost. Che says his coccyx hurts and Bliss takes her leave, letting two doctors work on the host. It was Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. Hall had the toothpick in his mouth under the mask and Nash was very excited to get to the prostate exam. I chuckled.

Samoa Joe defeated Rey Mysterio via submission with the Coquina Clutch to retain the US Title.

This is how you book a dominant champion, and how you bring the US title back to prominence.

Mysterio was fighting through an ankle injury that he suffered Monday Night and he came to the ring dressed as “Mysterio” from Spiderman. How they’ve never done that before, I’ll never know, but Joe came down without fanfare and after a brief offensive flurry from Mysterio, he caught him in the Clutch and tapped him out.

It sucks that Mysterio couldn’t perform longer, but this was booked perfectly and makes Joe look like the monster he should be booked as. Fantastic, this was short and sweet.

The road to recovery brings us to our next match and after weeks of beating bested and beat-down by the “Scottish Psychopath” Drew McIntyre, the “Big Dog” Roman Reigns make his return to Wrestlemania.

Roman Reigns defeats Drew McIntyre via pin fall with the spear.

Sadly, the night was getting long and with several matches to go, this one feel victim to time constraints and they didn’t have the opportunity to really get things going.

I would have enjoyed a false finish here to keep this story going, but McIntyre was in charge of this early before Reigns made the comeback, hitting a samoan drop outside of the ring after a drive by. A superman punch set things up, and a spear finished it.

A loss here doesn’t really hurt either guy, but the crowd was thoroughly behind Reigns, especially with the fact that months ago, we’d have never expected him to be on the card, let alone winning a hard fought match.

Give me this one again next month at Money In The Bank and give them more time.

Holy cow, if there was a segment that breathed life back into a weary crowd, it was us “walking with Elias”.

Elias had a segment where he was backstage on piano, backstage on the drums and in the ring with the guitar. He literally performed with two versions of himself as the set pieces, it was hilarious.

He is ultimately interrupted by a montage of Babe Ruth and sweet merciful heavens, leave Hall and Nash in the back, because the real “doctor”, the “Doctor Of Thuganomics”, John Cena, clad in Yankees gray, makes his return to Metlife.

Cena was in rare form on the mic, teasing a heel turn, referencing the FU, before ultimately throwing pistachio nuts as Elias before hitting him with a five knuckl shuffle and the FU itself.

He stated he was going to kill Elias’ push with his “golden shovel” and he talked about Elias playing with himself. There were about ten of us watching the broadcast and we were in stitches. This was marvelous. Go check it out.

“The Animal” and “The Game” are up next. We see the history of this feud, including the attack on Ric Flair, the tease at the Smackdown show and some uncanny entrances, leading to the No Holds Barred match itself.

Triple H came out with a vehicle and entrance that something right out of Mad Max: Fury Road and Batista was flanked by his own personal security and he arrived in a true celebrity fashion. He had red trunks on, no Blue-tista tonight, folks.

Triple H defeats Batista via pin fall in a No Holds Barred match after a pedigree.

For two wily, old veterans, one who hasn’t performed in five years, and one who just came off a torn pectoral muscle, this was sensational.

Triple H was a damn savage. He used a pair of pliers to tease that he was breaking Batista’s fingers. He choked him with a chain in a great visual and in one of the most vicious moments in years, he literally took a pair of needle nosed pliers and “tore” the ring out of Batista’s nose!

Batista was bleeding from the nose and he did make the comeback, beating the holy heck out of Helmsley for a smattering of time on the outside.

Batista was backdropped through a table earlier in the match, and Batista hit a low blow and a magnificent DDT on the steel ring steps that Hunter sold perfectly after making the comeback. Helmsley kicked out at two after a Batista Bomb, and he kept fending off Hunter’s attempts to use a sledgehammer on the outside.

“The Animal” took the sledgehammer himself, but it was the return of “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair, that saw the legend hand Triple H a second sledgehammer that he used to strike true, nailing Batista before executing a second pedigree for the win.

Batista did announce hiw own retirement later in the evening on social media, but he thanked the WWE Universe for letting him have one more go of things. Thank you Batista, this was a very entertaining match for him to go out on. He bumped his rear end off too. We’ll miss “The Animal” for sure. Hall Of Fame next year, perhaps?

Alexa Bliss has an awkward spot backstage with members of the B-Team who are wearing Daniel Bryan shirts that he had made for his apparent title retention tonight. Ron Simmons shows up and says “Damn”.

Baron Corbin defeats Kurt Angle via pin fall with the End Of Days in Angle’s Retirement match.

Similar to when the Undertaker lost to Brock Lesnar, Corbin has something to hang his hat on moving forward. Corbin gets a great deal of heat for his ring work, but he carried this match tonight, selling like a dead man for Angle.

The hall of famer almost had the victory several times with the ankle lock, but Corbin fought through it. Angle escaped a deep six, and the end came when Angle went up top for a moonsault that he missed and the End of Days was just that for Angle.

Angle gave a beautiful speech after the match, thanking the fans for years of support. Corbin had taken his leave at this point and they focused on several fans who shed tears for the “Olympic Gold Medalist”.

Angle is one of the best ever, but it was time to call it a day and he got to perform once more on the grandest stage of them all. We’ll certainly miss the great veteran and hopefully he can transition backstage to an agent, a producer or into talent relations. He’d be a great asset there for sure.

“The Demon” Finn Balor defeats Bobby Lashley via pin fall with Coup De Grace to become the new IC Champ.

Lashley had the coolest pair of contacts in, Lio Rush was decked out in some fantastic ring gear and we near the show’s conclusion.

This was perfectly placed on the card as were many of the matches, because what a great way to bring the crowd back to life then by presenting them with Balor’s alter ego?

“The Demon” made his entrance as he descended from a platform. It was awe-inspiring.

He hits the ring, the body-paint perfect as always and we thought this would be a squash, it really wasn’t. The match was short, but Lashley got some spots in, and it looked as if he might actually beat Balor after nailing a spear inside the ring.

Balor kicked out and was able to execute a powerbomb on Lashley, a great spot. He headed up to the “Dropzone” after scaring off Lio Rush and he hit the Coup De Grace to win back the title.

A change of scenery might do wonders for either Lashley or Balor, it just depends on how they want to handle booking Smackdown on Fox. Both men are assets to the brands they represent, but both should be involved in the world title chase on whatever show they end up on.

After a dance break from R-Truth and Carmella to give the crowd needed breathing room, and the attendance announcement, we see a chopper over the arena arriving and landing, with the Smackdown Women’s champion, the “Queen” Charlotte Flair, arriving in style.

The magnicifent Joan Jett plays the Raw Women’s champion, “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey, out for her entrance and for being sixty years old, Jett killed it out there. Rousey enters to a chorus of boos, but she squares up, ready to culminate the evening with a title match.

Charlotte heads to the ring next after her own spectacular entrance and she too, is unmercifully booed.

Without pomp and circumstance, here comes the favorite, “The Man” Becky Lynch, looking sensational with a tremendous hairstyle, makes her way to the ring and it’s time for the main event of the evening.

Becky Lynch defeats Ronda Rousey and Charlotte via pin fall with a crucifix pin on Rousey to become the Raw and Smackdown Women’s champion.

It’s going to be hard to do this one justice. This didn’t have as much time as one would have expected, especially with such an exemplary buildup of this feud, but everyone got some great offense in.

Rousey was especially sadistic, having the fans in the palm of her hands as she dumped over a table that Lynch brought in at one point saying that tables are for synonyms for a female dog. She hit the rising knee strikes on everyone and employed a double armbar on both Lynch and Flair at one point.

Rousey took a hard bump as she had an armbar applied on Flair with the ropes aiding her before Lynch dropkicked her and she spilled to the floor.

Rumor is that Rousey actually broke her hand during the match and she still finished it out. Wow.

Flair had her spots, seeing the moonsault and some brilliant offense as well, having locked the figure eight on Rousey before Lynch broke it up.

Rousey threw Charlotte into a table in the corner later in the match, but it didn’t break and Lynch slammed Rousey’s face into it several times in a great spot.

The finish was literally out of nowhere as Rousey had Lynch setup for Piper’s Pit, but Lynch countered with a crucifix pin and that was the three count and the title change.

Where the fans were distracted was in the fact that Rousey got her shoulder up early and nobody seemed to know if it was a botch or deliberate to keep the story going for a singles match down the line.

It’s been rumored that Rousey is taking some time off to start a family, but even if that isn’t the cas, she’ll have the heal up from the broken hand.

Lynch ended the show, holding both titles up high and the crowd ate it up after nearly eight hours of action. After a marvelous NXT show Friday Night and a G1 supercard that had some sizzle and not a lot of steak, some weren’t sure if Wrestlemania would “live up to the hype” after disappointing us for the past few years.

This was a remarkably well booked show and it sent the fans home happy, it’s all you can ask for, especially for those paying top dollar to be there live. You have the opportunity to continue stories or to start new ones on this week’s Raw and Smackdown which are always magnificent after ‘Mania weekend.

Give us Kairi Sane, Pete Dunne and The Undisputed Era on top of the weekend you just presented us with and we’ll be roaring to go as we move towards Money In The Bank. A job well done WWE, a job well done indeed.


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