We covered WrestleMania 35 from start to finish. Read the live recap below.
Becky Lynch wins Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championships in confusing finish
That Lynch would be standing tall at the end of WrestleMania had seemed preordained for months. It seemed guaranteed when WWE announced that the triple threat pitting her against Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey would close the show, marking the first time a women’s match would main event WrestleMania.
Fans got the result they wanted, with Lynch hoisting both titles, having completed her months long odyssey to he top.
But the ending, which saw Lynch reverse Rousey on her back, stealing a close win, felt anticlimactic. It was Rousey’s first time being pinned in WWE, yes, but it was hardly a definitive pin. WWE commentator Corey Graves remarked he would’ve liked to see a less controversial ending to the biggest show of the year.
Ronda Rousey played to the ring by Joan Jett
Jett, a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, played her 1980s hit for Rousey, the Raw Women’s Champion. Rousey smirked as she appeared on the ramp, ready for the first women’s main event in WrestleMania history.
Charlotte Flair arrives for main event in helicopter
WrestleMania is known for its pomp. In that regard, it'd be hard to outdo Flair's entrance for the main event triple threat match.
Flair, who recently won the Smackdown Women’s Championship, arrived to MetLife Stadium in a helicopter. Escorted out of the chopper, she then spread her arms as a pair of handlers outfitted her in a robe.
‘The Demon’ Finn Balor defeats Bobby Lashley, wins second WWE Intercontinental Championship
Balor channels his alter-ego for big events, and WrestleMania is exactly that. With his face and body painted, Balor crawled to the ring and proceeded to overpower the 6-foot-3-, 273-pound Lashley with a powerbob. Balor claimed the victory and the title with a coup de gras from the top rope.
Kurt Angle loses farewell match to Baron Corbin, crowd falls silent
Fans expressed outrage when it was announced Corbin would be Angle’s opponent for his final match; many had hoped it would be John Cena.
Alas, WWE’s writing staff stuck with its instincts. And in Angle’s final match, the 50-year-old brought it. Borrowing from the past, Angle climbed to the top room and performed a moonsault, but Corbin sneaked out of the way and hit Angle with his End of Days finisher for the pin.
The crowd didn’t boo the result. It fell silent.
Angle made sure he left the ring for the final time on his terms. He grabbed the microphone and addressed the crowd, urging them to serenade him with the retro chant that defined the early portion of his career as a bad guy: “You suck!”
Triple H defeats Batista in brutal match
The combined age of the two veteran performers was 99 years old, but it hardly showed. In a personal match, Triple H (WWE’s real-life executive vice president of talent, live events and creative), pulled out Batista’s nose ring, speared him through an announce table and power bombed him on top of steel ring steps.
But Batista — who was found success as an actor in the Guardians of the Galaxy movie series — would not give up.
Finally, Triple H got the win after Ric Flair handed him a sledgehammer. It was poetic, given the beef started when Batista beat up Flair on the legend’s 70th birthday. Triple H hit Batista with the hammer, then finished him with a pedigree for the victory.
Returning John Cena interrupts Elias’s musical performance
Elias, WWE’s resident faux musician, was in the middle of an entertaining performance, strutting with his guitar in the ring — as pretaped recordings of him playing he piano and drums appeared on the big screen concurrently. Then, a promotional video of New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth appeared on the screen. Elias didn’t know what to think.
Then John Cena’s music hit.
Cena hadn’t appeared on WWE television in months, having taken time off to film movies. But on Sunday, he reverted back to one of his early-career personas: “The Doctor of Thuganomics.”
Wearing a Ruth jersey and a backwards Yankees cap, Cena proceeded to run down Elias on the microphone, cracking jokes at his expense, before leaving him in the middle of the ring with his Attitude Adjustment finishing move.
Roman Reigns defeats Drew McIntyre in first singles match since returning from Leukemia diagnosis
Reigns took a beating from McIntyre, who warned Reigns not to accept the match — for his own health. In story line, there was some question over whether Reigns was fully healed from the cancer.
Reigns proved well enough, however, beating the “Scottish Psychopath” with a spear.
Samoa Joe chokes out Rey Mysterio, retains United States Championship
In a match that seemed over almost as soon as it began, Joe choked out the 44-year-old Mysterio with the Coquina Clutch to retain his championship. It was the first WrestleMania match for Joe, who, similar to Styles, built his reputation in smaller domestic companies before coming to WWE late in his career.
Mysterio is a future Hall of Famer, and his quick defeat Sunday shouldn’t be a stain on his résumé. But on a long night of wrestling, some matches need to be quick — though not painless.
Kofi Kingston makes history, becomes second black man to hold the WWE Championship
Eleven years into his WWE career, Kingston finally reached the mountain top, defeating Daniel Bryan to claim Smackdown’s top men’s championship.
It wasn’t without drama. Kingston kicked out of Bryan’s finisher, the Running Knee, then hit Bryan with the Trouble in Paradise for the victory. Fans at MetLife Stadium exploded, bouncing up and down in their seats, as Big E and Xavier Woods, Kingston’s partners in the New Day, stormed the ring to celebrate.
The postmatch celebration provided a lighthearted moment. Kingston’s two children joined him in the ring, and one even got to raise the title.
#KofiMania is running wild
It's time. Kofi Kingston's unexpected run to the top of the card has captivated the pro wrestling world in recent months, and tonight, Kingston gets his chance at WWE Champion Daniel Bryan.
The Empire State Building, in nearby New York, is lit up with Kingston and Bryan’s faces.
The narrative surrounding Kingston’s rise has been a nod to the company’s racial skeletons. Can he make history tonight by becoming the second black man to hold the WWE Championship?
IIconics pick up stunning victory, earn WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships
The IIconics (Peyton Royce and Billie Kay) seemed to be a throw-in to this championship match, which included defending champs Sasha Banks and Bayley, Nia Jax and Tamina, and Natalya and Beth Phoenix.
The duo is more known for their charisma and personality than their wrestling ability.
But after Phoenix appeared to have the match won, having slammed Bayley off the top rope, Royce pulled Phoenix out of the way, and Kay scurried on top of Bayley for the pin and victory.
The Miz suplexes Shane McMahon off 15-feet camera platform, but McMahon gets pin
McMahon always takes a big fall at WrestleMania, and this Sunday was no different. But instead of jumping off a tall structure, McMahon flew through the air on the back of Miz, who suplexed him from the top of a camera platform into what appeared to be a padded landing spot.
It was a shocking moment, one made for highlight reels. Fans in MetLife Stadium expressed stunned by the spot, which finished with McMahon landing on top of Miz. The referee made the count.
The feud was built on McMahon betraying Miz, who initially wanted to team with McMahon to earn his father’s approval. When Miz and McMahon lost the Smackdown Tag Team Championships, McMahon turned on Miz and taunted Miz’s father, who got physically involved during Sunday’s match.
Shane McMahon demands to be announced as the ‘Best in the world’ ... three times
McMahon’s heel turn last month was a long time coming. The son of WWE CEO Vince McMahon, he has leaned into his family history and bullied nemesis The Miz.
As McMahon walked to the ring Sunday, he forced the ring announcer to proclaim him as the “Best in the world” three times, a nod to the tournament McMahon won in November, replacing Miz, who was injured in the story line.
McMahon raised his hands for the third announcement, prompting the announcer to draw out the word “world” for quite some time. It was great fun.
The Usos retain WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championships, but Ricochet steals show
Jimmy and Jey Uso outlasted The Bar (Cesaro and Sheamus), Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev, and Aleister Black and Ricochet to retain their titles.
But in wrestling, wins and losses don’t hold as much weight as moments, and on Sunday, Ricochet provided an array of jaw-dropping moves in the short match. Including this:
AJ Styles kicks out of RKO, beats Randy Orton
In a true clash of wrestling personalities, Styles and Orton delivered an entertaining match that was slow early but picked up as the action wore on. One noteworthy moment saw Styles deliver a 450-splash.
The defining moment was Styles kicking out Orton’s RKO, a rarity in modern-day WWE. Memes of Orton performing the RKO have slipped into popular culture, and WWE has always presented the move as virtually impossible to kick out of.
But that’s what Styles did. Styles, who debuted in the WWE in 2016, hit Orton with Phenomenal Forearms both inside and outside of the ring to defeat Orton, a nine-time WWE Champion.
Seth Rollins delivers three Curb Stomps to Brock Lesnar to claim first WWE Universal Championship
It wasn’t long ago that Rollins was scripted as a bad guy, resorting to underhanded tactics to win matches. Sunday, Rollins turned the momentum of the match by punching Lesnar in the groin. No one seemed to mind, given Lesnar’s widespread unpopularity. He then proceeded to hit Lesnar with three Curb Stomps, earning the most prestigious belt on Raw in an exhilarating start to WrestleMania.
It was a short match, one that might result in Lesnar taking a break from WWE. Rumors abound that he’ll return to UFC to fight Daniel Cormier, the company’s heavyweight and light heavyweight champion.
That wasn’t on the mind of the WWE fans Sunday, though. Rollins twirled the title belt above his head on the ramp after his win, calling back to his celebration after winning the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 31 after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract.
Hulk Hogan kicks off WrestleMania
Hogan was only recently reinstated to the company, after a three-year ban stemming from the release of an audio recording of Hogan making racist statements.
The 1980s megastar appears back in WWE’s good graces. WWE host Alexa Bliss introduced Hogan, who paraded out on the stage to a positive reaction. He stated his appreciation for being at the “MetLife Center.”
Hogan’s love fest was cut short by Paul Heyman, the self-described advocate of Lesnar. Heyman stormed down to the ring and declared that, if Lesnar wasn’t in the main event, he wanted to get his WWE Universal Championship match out of the way and head to Las Vegas, where he is “ultimately appreciated,” a nod to his UFC career.
Braun Strowman eliminates SNL's Colin Jost, wins Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
It wasn’t long ago that Strowman was a contender for the WWE Universal Championship, but on Sunday, the “Monster Among Men” found himself as the headliner in the preshow main event.
The battle royal, which featured Jeff and Matt Hardy, Chad Gable and Andrade, among others, came down to Strowman, Jost and Michael Che, Jost’s co-host on SNL’s Weekend Update. After a comedic struggle, Strowman threw both celebrities over the top rope and claimed the trophy.
Curt Hawkins breaks 269-match losing streak, pinning Scott Dawson to win Raw Tag Team Championships
Hawkins teamed up with his former partner — and fellow Long Island native — Zack Ryder to unseat The Revival. Hawkins’s losing steak had long been a point of comedy, but Sunday’s win provided a feelgood moment for the 13-year WWE veteran.
Carmella wins second annual Women’s Battle Royal
In the only women’s match on the preshow, Carmella came out victorious. Ember Moon made her return after several months on the shelf, Moon promptly eliminated Naomi but could not pull out the win. Asuka, who dropped the WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship right before WrestleMania to Charlotte Flair, was eliminated by Sarah Logan, who appeared to have won. But Carmella, who was biding her time on the outside, entered at the end and knocked Logan off the apron with a superkick.
Tony Nese claims WWE Cruiserweight Champion from Buddy Murphy
Murphy’s reign, which kicked off in October, came to an end at the hands of Nese, a who hit the champion with running knees for the win. The Long Island native celebrated with the New Jersey crowd.
WWE Raw Women’s Championship, WWE Smackdown Women’s Championship
Ronda Rousey vs. Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch
Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston
WWE Universal Championship
Brock Lesnar vs. Seth Rollins
WWE United States Championship
Samoa Joe vs. Rey Mysterio
WWE Intercontinental Championship
Bobby Lashley vs. “The Demon” Finn Balor
WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match
The Boss ‘n’ Hug Connection (Sasha Banks & Bayley) vs. Natalya & Beth Phoenix vs. The IIconics (Billie Kay & Peyton Royce) vs. Tamina and Nia Jax
WWE Smackdown Tag Team Championship match
The Usos (Jey and Jimmy Uso) vs. Ricochet & Aleister Black vs. The Bar (Cesaro & Sheamus) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship match
The Revival (Dash Wilder & Scott Dawson) vs. Curt Hawkins and Zack Ryder
Triple H vs. Batista
Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin
Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre
AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton
Shane McMahon vs. The Miz