Ken Hoffman reports from WrestleMania's rowdy and record-breaking bash
Defending champions were an endangered species on April 7, as only two of 10 title-holders escaped WrestleMania 35 with gold belts still around their waist. When the dust cleared well into Monday, April 8 morning at sold-out MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, Kofi Kingston was the new Universal champion, Seth Rollins was WWE champ, the “Demon” Finn Balor was Inter-Continental champ, and Braun Stroman practically launched Saturday Night Live players Colin Jost and Michael Che into orbit to win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.
A beer-drinking, villain-boo-ing, souvenir-buying crowd of 82,265 fans saw “The Man” Becky Lynch become the first undisputed Raw and Smackdown women’s champ in a controversial finish to her match against “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey and “The Queen” Charlotte Flair. It sure looked like Rousey’s shoulders were off the mat when the referee counted 1-2-3. This one could be headed to the Supreme Court — right behind the Democrats’ effort to get President Trump’s tax records. Good luck on both.
MetLife Stadium, home to the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets, was rockin’ and ‘cringin’ during a brutal “No Holds Barred” match between “King of Kings” Triple H and “The Animal” Batista. Triple H grabbed pliers and ripped a ring from Batista’s pierced nose. Yeeoww! Triple H ultimately triumphed when “Nature Boy” Ric Flair tossed a sledgehammer into the ring and Trips used it to dispatch Batista. Pliers, hammers … Chip Gaines on Fixxer Upper doesn’t have this many DIY tools.
The “Greatest Stage of All” grossed $16.9 million, a MetLife Stadium record.
The press box was jammed with hard-hitting journalists from 68 countries, who dined on All-American hot dogs, barbecue brisket, Philly cheesesteaks, and chocolate chip cookies. If anybody believes that media is the enemy of the people, let me set you straight. After the matches, the line for the train to Manhattan was backed up to Snooki's place on the Jersey Shore, and there weren’t nearly enough Uber drivers to go around. Drenched in a pelting rain, I bummed a ride from a Newsweek writer and got back to my hotel at 2:30 am.
I didn’t know that Newsweek was still around.
The biggest pop during the “Showcase of the Immortals” celebrated Kofi Kingston’s long-time-coming victory over arrogant, pedantic WWE champion “The New” Daniel Bryan. It was Kingston’s first singles title in his 11-year career.
Carmella won the Women’s Battle Royal and later celebrated with a “7-Second Dance Break,” which I’m pretty sure lasted at least a minute. But who’s counting? Nobody likes a clock-watcher.
In other matches, Roman Reigns whupped the “Scottish Psychopath” Drew McIntire (awesome nickname), the Iconics won the Raw Women’s Tag-Team title, “The Phenomenal” A.J. Styles pinned “The Viper” Randy Orton, and Shane McMahon demolished The Miz in a “Falls Count Anywhere” match. Joan Jett and the Blackhearts escorted Rousey to the ring with a live performance of Bad Reputation.
Next year’s WrestleMania will be held April 5 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida. Ticket information will be announced later, so hold your horses.