Triple Z discusses WWE's TV deal for SmackDown Live which is $205 million for five years. WWE's stock price currently sits at $56.87 a share.
Bidding for streaming rights are at an all time high. Especially ones connected to live sports. Not to mention we are currently in a era of content. Networks and different media giants are battling for viewers. WWE has a gigantic audience and it has been regulated to networks like TNN (Spike) and USA. SmackDown has bounced around quite a bit. Now SmackDown Live will be making the transition to broadcast TV.
WWE's contract with NBCUniversal is set to expire in 2019. The two brands of RAW and SmackDown are going to be split once again. USA Network is planning to keep WWE RAW, one of its flagship shows. They will be paying WWE "three times the current value." SmackDown ended up making out like gangbusters. Especially for being consider the B show.
FOX has been interested in WWE for a long time. There name has popped up multiple times while discussing WWE's television deal. So they finally were able to pull off a deal for SmackDown. Fox is planning to promote SmackDown between their NFL and MLB coverage. Right now SmackDown is averaging 2.5 million viewers this year. RAW is averaging 3 million viewers. Those ratings are good for television standards especially in a increasingly digital world. The ratings for SmackDown should translate to Friday nights on FOX. Although Fridays are typically the graveyard for television shows. Putting live wrestling on Friday nights is smart for Fox. It fills the 8-10pm slot all year. That slot is usually terrible for scripted dramas or comedies. It's still a billion dollar gamble so Fox will have to promote it heavily. SmackDown boasts the sixth biggest audience on cable. Something that WWE brought up in negotiations.
SmackDown will have the legitimate chance to top RAW. Both in quality and in value. Later this year SmackDown will be celebrating 1,000 episodes. A truly historic feat that RAW reached earlier. The brand rivalry would only intensify. Now the question will be if WWE moves valuable stars like Brock Lesnar and Ronda Rousey to SmackDown at the request of Fox. Bigger network with deeper pockets will change the typical WWE routine.
Other questions to consider while looking at this deal.
Vince McMahon is continuing his quest to do what's best for business. He still has sights on the rebirth of the XFL. Is he trying to raise the value of WWE for a potential sale? Doubtful but anything is possible.
The SmackDown to Fox deal is a game changer both for the fans and for the ones in suits. It solidifies pro wrestling in 2018. Not to mention does the unthinkable with WWE being on broadcast TV. Something that hasn't been done since Tribute to the Troops or Saturday Night's Main Event. It also could signal the happy relationship between WWE and NBCUniversal. Although RAW will still air on USA. You have to believe that NBCUniversal is upset the expensive SmackDown got away. SmackDown will be a fun follow for the rest of 2018. In 2019, Friday Night SmackDown will return. The blue brand may ascend to the top of WWE once again. Resurrecting the glory days. Now go buy some WWE stock (or don't it might've peaked).
Triple Z does a running diary of WWE's Greatest Royal Rumble.
Make Running Diaries Cool Again
Welcome to the running diary. I will be giving my thoughts throughout WWE's Greatest Royal Rumble event which is held in King Abdullah Sports City Stadium. A WrestleMania level of event. I'll be writing this as I watch in real time.
12:00PM EST- Super strange for me to be watching a WWE pay-per-view at Noon on a Friday but I honestly I don't mind it.
12:02- United States of America's National Anthem is playing. I have a feeling the crowd won't be chanting USA.
12:06- So if this is the Greatest Royal Rumble will there ever be a greater Royal Rumble?
12:07- Time to play The Game. 60,000 seat stadium provides an interesting look for the event. It's crazy we are witnessing a WrestleMania like event especially post-Mania.
12:13- It is warm in Saudi Arabia. Michael Cole makes it a point to mention the temperature.
12: 17- Crowd is electric at King Abdullah.
12:21- This is some nice back and forth. Triple H did a DX version of the "Five Knuckle Shuffle." Cena/HHH isn't really talked about as a match that most fans want but this is delivering. This is a real treat.
12:23- Uh I think Cena just botched. Looked like he was going for a top rope hurricanrana but Triple H hits him with a modified power bomb. Either way still cool.
12: 26- That was a two and half count if I've ever seen one. Triple H and Cena are putting on a show.
12:29- Cena and HHH brought it. That final sequence was incredible. Slingshot into AA was so smooth. John Cena defeats Triple H in a thrilling opener. Triple H has had two great matches already in 2018. First at WrestleMania and now at Greatest Royal Rumble.
12: 32- I absolutely cringe at this WWE lip sync, dancing promotion video that is hyping co-branded events.
12: 36- Haven't followed 205 Live. I'm assuming Drake Maverick is taking it in the right direction. Cedric Alexander VS Kalisto now.
12: 37- Kota Ibushi name drop. The one that got away from WWE.
12:47- Cedric Alexander retains. Crowd was quiet but it is hard to follow HHH/Cena.
12: 49- This is such a bizarre sequel to WrestleMania 34. Most events that take place after Mania aren't in 60,000 seat stadiums in a foreign land.
1:02- Cole calling Hardy a "nutjob" still makes me laugh. Elevated "Twist of Fate" leads The Woken Duo to victory. Very slow so far since the greatness which was Cena/HHH.
1:03- Please give us something good now.
1:04- Jeff Hardy taking on Jinder Mahal has potential. Hardy is on SmackDown now. Whoever wins this match could lead to a potential spoiler in the IC match.
1:06- Wait they just gave Jeff Hardy pyro?
1:07- SmackDown still destroyed RAW in the shake-up. SmackDown literally committed highway robbery.
1:15- Hardy Wins. Meaning we get a RAW IC Champ.
1:18- The Kickoff panel has returned featuring Byron Saxton, Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and Booker T.
1:19- WWE is heavily promoting Saudi Arabia. I wonder how much they paid WWE.
1:22- Backstage interview with Chris Jericho. Mike Rome just made the list. The camera guy made the list. The sound guy made the list. The crowd is dead. Are the fans not allowed to cheer?
1:26- Rusev VS Taker, IC Ladder Match, Styles VS Nakamura, Reigns VS Lesnar, and the 50 man Royal Rumble is left.
1:27- Also Bludgeon Brothers VS Uso's... ugh.
1:28- Okay so that long break was their Prayer Time. This is truly crazy to watch.
1:31- Taking a quick break....
1:44- Excited for this ladder match. It will be the last time we see Samoa Joe and The Miz fight Seth Rollins and Finn Balor for a while.
WWE is really trying to promote Saudi Arabia. Although this is an excellent business move. Will WWE be able to carry the baggage that comes from this event?
1:46- Finn Balor is not wearing his "Balor Club is for Everyone" shirt. Which is a shock to absolutely no one.
1:48- Give us just Cole & Graves on commentary every week for RAW. It seems like they really understand each other. No need for the third extra voice when you got a solid duo. If this happens just send Coach to SmackDown and they can continue the three man booth. No need to stretch Corey Graves thin. He is one of WWE's best voices.
1:50- Wow, this set has some cool features. The four poles that hold up the tarp over the ring also have TV's on them. So the crowd could watch on the screen if their view is disrupted or blocked.
1:54- While watching this match. I realized Backlash is coming up fast with it being held on May 6. That's some crazy timing right there
Seth and Finn are on top of the ladder. Clobbering each other at the top. Joe and Miz push them off the ladder.
1:56- Samoa Joe is absolutely dominating this match right now. The crowd is finally waking up.
1:57- OH THE HUMANITY.
1:58- "Look at the impact. Look at the impact!"- Michael Cole (2018)
The Miz hit the "Skull Crushing Finale" on Samoa Joe onto a ladder. No way, The Miz is winning this match.
2:00- Lights almost went out. Production crew in Saudi Arabia screwing up big time. Thought we were getting The Undertaker for a second.
OFF THE ARABIC ANNOUNCERS TABLE.
2:04- What a finish. Rollins literally rips the title out of Finn Balor's hands. Seth Rollins pulls it off. Finn Balor still hasn't had his crowning moment yet.
2:08- Four WWE prospects from Saudi Arabia. Nassar is the first one. Oh gotta change his name for the American crowds. Second is Hussein. Monsoour is the third one. Fisal is the fourth prospect from Jedha.
2:09- Let's bring back Breaking Ground but let's do it with these guys.
2:10- Woah the Daivari brothers are now coming out. Shawn Daivari is waving the Iranian flag.
2:12- I don't think the crowd is going to chant USA.
2:13- The prospects fight back. Come on give me Breaking Ground: Saudi Arabia. It would be such a fun series to see the first four Saudi Arabian superstars and how they start their journeys to WWE in NXT.
2:16- Cole and Graves have even traveled together. Come on WWE do the right thing. Give them a two man booth. The chemistry is there.
2:17- Although it is still awhile away. I wonder if Reigns will be booed? If so maybe he changes the minds in the crowd. Similar to Rocky IV.
2:19- I am so ready for the Nakamura remix.
2:20- I was so worried about Nak's heel turn. Now he has proven he can still be charismatic, and being a heel hasn't hurt him at all. I think he may upset Styles tonight. Gotta have a title change somewhere. This is too big of an event not to have one.
2:22- EXCLUSIVE: Meeting between Vince McMahon and Mohammad bin Salman
VINCE: It's a pleasure to do business with your great nation.
MOHAMMAD: Just make sure you use some money on pyro. We love pyro.
2:25- Nakamura VS Styles is now up. We still have the 50 man Rumble, Rusev/Taker, and Lesnar/Reigns.
2:39- Wow, this ends in a double count out. They are really saving themselves up for their big time match. If it will ever come. This match was faster pace than Mania's but still.
2:43- The Undertaker VS Rusev up next. This should be super short. Although it is a Casket Match. This should be quick.
2:46- The Undertaker's entrance has started.
2: 52- The Undertaker has finished his entrance.
2:54- The Undertaker still looks good. Taker hits "Old School" which is always a good sign.
2:57- Leg drop on Rusev. Taker's new hip must be great. Aiden English tries to interfere. Delaying Rusev's ultimate fate.
3:00- Rusev is trying to lock in The Accolade on Taker. The Deadman sits up.
3:01- This is going longer than most expected. Taker delivers a chokeslam. That has to be it. Taker then chokeslams Aiden English and delivers a Tombstone piledriver. Both men go into the casket. Match is over. The Undertaker wins the Casket Match.
3:10- The WWE Universal Championship match is up now. Lesnar VS Reigns inside a steel cage.
3:17- Brock needs to find his next slogan. "Suplex City" is legendary but still he needs another new thing. Especially after all this time.
3:19- Reigns with a flurry of superman punches. Reigns is now scaling the cage. Lesnar is trying to pull Reigns back into the ring. Lesnar is now trying to escape the cage.
3:22- How many spears?
3:26- REIGNS SPEARED BROCK THROUGH THE CAGE.
3:28- I'm not surprised Brock won. There was no way Reigns was going to win. Lashley VS Lesnar is already planned for SummerSlam.
3:31- Still can't believe that Daniel Bryan returned and now he is going to face Big Cass.
3:37- Speaking of Daniel Bryan, he is starting off first in the Greatest Royal Rumble match. Dolph Ziggler follows at two.
3:43- Mark Henry who is a WWE Hall of Famer enters at 5. Wonder what he is going to do.
3:45- Poor Mike Kanellis.
3:46- Hiroki Sumi has entered the match. How will anyone get him over the top rope?
3:47- Wow Mark Henry eliminates Sumi. Before being eliminated himself.
3:50- Tony Nese has entered the Greatest Royal Rumble. I'm amazed that 205 Live guys are going to be given a shot.
3:52- Hornswoggle enters the match. Well that is a insane sentence.
3:57- The New Day once again did a fun spot.
3:59- Kurt Angle enters the fray. Eliminating Bo Dallas, Primo Colon, and Dolph Ziggler.
4:04- Michael Cole is super thrilled to see that Elias is at the Greatest Royal Rumble.
4:05- Elias just eliminated everyone.
4:06- We are getting to witness Kurt Angle VS Daniel Bryan. Although it is done in a really odd way. Still such a treat to see this.
4:07- Elias eliminates Kurt Angle...
4:10- Heavy Machinery's Tucker Knight enters the match.
4:15- Rey Mysterio comes out at 28. Hasn't lost a step in the ring. Kinda hoping he returns part-time at this rate.
4:18- Tyler Breeze enters at 30. We have 20 more to go.
4:23- Roderick Strong enters the match. I think Roderick Strong just destroyed Rey Mysterio. That backbreaker looked terrible. Quite a nice spot to be in for the NXT star despite the fact it looks like he almost injured Rey Mysterio.
4:26- UPDATE: Daniel Bryan is still in the match after entering at number one.
4:31- Michael Cole is now laughing over Titus O'Neil's stumble. Also can the sheiks please stop moving around in the background. Please sit down and enjoy the lavish show. Okay thanks...
4:34- WWE Network streaming feed is acting all messed up. BRAUN is coming down to the ring.
4:40- Bobby Lashley is about to make this match wild. He can't wait to see Brock Lesnar at SummerSlam.
4:42- Daniel Bryan is still going hard. The Great Khali is up next. Can't wait to see him and Braun now.
4:43- "Lumbering" is the perfect word for Khali.
4:44- The Great Khali has been eliminated. Well that was quick.
4:46- Shane McMahon entering the Greatest Royal Rumble is slightly weird but this whole entire match and event has been weird.
4:47- Kevin Owens is getting beaten by Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan. Shelton Benjamin comes out at number 48.
4:50- Big Cass is now in the match, and he went straight after Daniel Bryan. Shane McMahon just went "Coast to Coast" on Braun Strowman.
4:51- Number 50 is Chris Jericho.
4:52- "Go back to Japan."- Kevin Owens
4:54- Braun just tosses Shane McMahon through the announcer's table. Only throwing him with one hand. Braun goes on to eliminate Lashley, Jericho, and Kevin Owens.
4:56- Big Cass eliminates Daniel Bryan. WHAT A WASTE.
4:57- Braun Strowman wins the Greatest Royal Rumble. Can't believe Daniel Bryan once again loses a Royal Rumble. This time because of BIG CASS.... Yes, one half of Enzo & Cass.
5:00- Perfectly fine with Braun Strowman winning. Braun wins the title and trophy. Fireworks surround the stadium.
5:01- That was one wild WWE Network special. It had its ups and downs but for the most part it was really unique to watch.
5:02- I think after this blog I'm probably going to be blackballed from Saudi Arabia but this is worth it.
The word to describe this entire event was unique. I don't think we are going to get another Noon start WWE event on a Friday for quite some time. It was fun to experience another WWE stadium event on the network, and I have feeling it was successful. Can't wait to see the fallout of this event. The fallout that happens in front of the camera and backstage.
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WWE didn't explain why certain superstars ended up on which brand. Probably for status reasons. What if the General Managers (Kurt Angle and Paige) actually made trades for the superstars? What would they be?
What if the General Managers actually had to make the trades. Well I try to justify what the trades would've looked like during the Superstar Shake-Up.
SmackDown trades Jinder Mahal for RAW's Samoa Joe
If they were trying to make actual deals this one would logically make sense. A former WWE and United States champion for a former NXT champion and future beast.
SmackDown trades Riott Squad for RAW's Absolution
Ironically, both groups copied each other now they are swapped on separate brands. GM Paige was the original leader of the group Absolution so them ending up on SmackDown makes sense. The Riott Squad never truly stood out so they were sent to RAW.
SmackDown trades Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn for RAW's The Bar
Although Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn weren't technically on SmackDown. This was probably the wager Kurt Angle would have to give up in order to acquire Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. SmackDown gains Cesaro who could potentially become a great singles star for them.
SmackDown trades Zack Ryder and Breezango for RAW's R-Truth
One of the very few "trades" or pickups RAW won that night. Getting Breezango gives RAW the potential to have Fashion Files each week. So that should be some good comedy. Zack Ryder is still popular just remember the reaction at WrestleMania 32?
SmackDown trades Natalya for RAW's Asuka
Most of you probably thought I would dog this fictional trade. Actually I'm quite optimistic about Natalya's run on RAW. Especially now that she gets to be a partner with Ronda Rousey. SmackDown also wins because they pick up an extraordinary talent. How would GM Kurt Angle justify this trade. Really just says he needs another veteran in the locker room, and that there is only room for one dangerous woman (Ronda Rousey).
SmackDown trades Dolph Ziggler, rights to Drew McIntyre, and The Ascension for RAW's Gallows & Anderson
Am I overvaluing Gallows & Anderson? Absolutely not. SmackDown had to do everything in their power to get them on the same brand as AJ Styles. Especially since Styles is currently tangled in a feud with Shinsuke Nakamura. Plus future matches with Sanity and The New Day will be worth it. RAW gets to see if they can reinvent Dolph Ziggler and somehow make Drew McIntyre entertaining. The Ascension is just a throw in. SmackDown actually wins this trade. Just wait and see.
SmackDown trades Baron Corbin and Chad Gable for RAW's The Miz
Let me start off by saying The Miz is worth more than this. Although looking at the haul Angle got back I would not be surprised to see "him" make a deal like this because it seems like his character. To be clueless yet passionate for the show.
Corbin will just be boring on RAW. The real win here is getting Gable. So the American Alpha reunion could potentially happen or a continuation of the Jordan/Gable mini feud that started at Survivor Series last year when SmackDown invaded RAW. SmackDown getting The Miz is a gigantic move. He was the one that originally put the New Era SmackDown Live on the spot. Now we get to enjoy his feud with Daniel Bryan.
SmackDown trades Bobby Roode for RAW's Jeff Hardy
WWE is keeping Brother Nero (Jeff Hardy) away from WOKEN Matt Hardy and his newfound friend Bray Wyatt. We now get to experience a Jeff Hardy singles run. Many dream matches can now take place. Bobby Roode may finally get to shine on RAW. After being jacked around on SmackDown.
SmackDown trades Mojo Rawley and Mike Kanellis for RAW's Big Cass
In the NFL world this is the equivalent of two teams trading 2024 4th round picks and being like "Will see who got the better end of this trade in 2025!" RAW gains Mike Kanellis who has been criminally underutilized. Plus his wife Maria will come back into the picture. It may elevate him to stardom on Monday nights. SmackDown gets Big Cass, who is still living in the shadow of a certain Certified G, and Bonafide Stud. WWE finally got their monster Big Cass but will it even work? I don't think so.
SmackDown additionally signs Andrade "Cien" Almas, Zelina Vega, and Sanity's Eric Young, Alexander Wolfe, and Killian Dain.
RAW signs Bobby Lashley, Ember Moon, Authors of Pain, and No Way Jose.
I tried my best to make the most fair trades as possible but all I could picture in my head is Paige just absolutely committing highway robbery with each trade and Kurt Angle believing he got someone really good with each deal.
My final thoughts are that although this is a shakeup SmackDown's entire roster got a facelift and was rebuilt to be a freaking dynasty. SmackDown has the potential to be the better show... by far. They have everything going for them. The most over guy (Daniel Bryan), a Women's division (Carmella, Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, Asuka, and The Iconic Duo plus more), new incredible pick ups (Hardy, Almas and Vega, Sanity, The Miz, Gallows & Anderson, and Samoa Joe), and WHILE keeping Shinsuke Nakamura, AJ Styles, and The New Day.
I have been a religious RAW watcher for years but looking at the current rosters. SmackDown may be a more tempting watch. It's a whole hour less too. Still RAW kept some key guys but they really took on some of SmackDown's "bad contracts." It seems RAW will build around the core of Bobby Lashley, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Seth Rollins and Finn Balor. Plus Brock Lesnar whenever he is there. The shakeup really changed the landscape and it will be fascinating to see what else happens. But for now SmackDown got the better end of the second Shake-Up.
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ZWrestleTalk writer Dom Bouchard gives his dream WWE roster picks for Raw, 205 Live, and Smackdown.
Champion: Cedric Alexander- He is the perfect athlete to bring 205 Live to new heights. He has the in ring skills, the charisma, and fans love him.
Johnny Gargano- The most beloved NXT superstar ever. He is a future WWE world champion, but a few years on 205 Live could help him and the brand.
Tommaso Ciampa- Same as Gargano, the best heel in the business and a wonderful wrestler. A 205 Live stint before the main roster.
Buddy Murphy- The best kept secret is not a secret anymore. What an amazing competitor, and he has the look and swagger to be a main roster mega star.
TJP- He has everything that superstar needs. Charisma, speed, high flying skills, and mat prowess. In my opinion he's a top five wrestler in the WWE.
Champion Finn Balor- Imagine all the dream matches with Finn on Smackdown. AJ Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Bobby Roode to name a few. This is the most underrated wrestler in the WWE. He is also over big time.
AJ Styles- AJ should still remain a top guy on SmackDown Live and get a few more title runs. He is still going strong at 40 years old.
Braun Strowman- Braun wouldn't be in Reign's shadow anymore.He could remain one of the most dominating guys on the roster and a title run here is conceivable.
Samoa Joe- A very skilled, big warrior that can have great matches with anyone.
Shinsuke Nakamura- As a heel sky is the limit for him. He is a very ordinary wrestler but has so much charisma that it makes up for the lack of skills.
Andrade "Cien" Almas- In my opinion the best wrestler in the company. With Zelina Vega by his side it is only a matter of time until he is world champion.
Bray Wyatt- Leading Sanity that is made up of Killian Dain, Eric Young, and Alexander Wolfe. Talk about a great heel stable.
The New Day- The heart and soul of the WWE. A feud with Bray and Sanity and The Revival would be great. Plus another tag title run.
The Revival- That would be a great change for them to be in a loaded tag team scene. The Top Guys can finally break out in a top division.
TM61- They would be a great addition to a strong division.
Bludgeon Brothers- Harper and Rowan deserve a long run with the the titles. They are incredibly underrated.
Elias- A very great character and a SmackDown Live stint would keep him fresh.
Tye Dillinger- A renewed push for the Perfect 10.
Shelton Benjamin- A veteran to help round up the roster.
Round up with Curt Hawkins, Heath Slater, Apollo, Gallows and Anderson, Heavy Machinery, and No Way Jose.
Champion Seth Rollins- No doubt the second best wrestler in the WWE he is Mr. Monday Night and he is miles ahead of Roman Reigns as a talent.
Daniel Bryan- A slow and steady climb and an eventual showdown with Rollins are what we could witness.
Dean Ambrose- As a heel attacking Seth Rollins, and being a real lunatic fringe. So much potential could finally be unlocked.
Roman Reigns- A little bit in the background for a while and hopefully he adds more moves to his repertoire. Fans would be fine to see him in the mid-card for awhile.
Aleister Black- In about six months he would be a perfect call up and a welcome addition to the best RAW roster ever.
Drew McIntyre- Sky is the limit for the Scottish powerhouse. An Intercontinental title reign to begin with, and then a feud with Roman Reigns with McIntyre telling him, "Once upon a time I was the chosen one too."
The Miz- Enough said. Best heel in the company and a feud with Daniel Bryan will be amazing.
Kevin Owens- KO is a guy that fits in any situation.
Sami Zayn- Sami Zayn is another guy who fits any roster. Zayn is one the top five wrestlers in the company. Maybe a tag team title run with Kevin Owens while he stays on RAW.
Rusev- A strong run on RAW and maybe a title run.
The Bar- Cesaro and Sheamus are awesome together and a few more title runs are on their way.
The Usos- A run as RAW tag team champions is what's next for those awesome twins. Best team in the world.
American Alpha- No more stupid stuff with Kurt Angle. Let the two kids finally shine. WWE is so stacked with singles stars. Gable and Jordan wouldn't be able to compete in the mix. If wrestlers like Cesaro and Sheamus can't get successful singles runs. What makes you think the American Alpha split would be any different? The reunion is necessary in order for RAW's tag team division to stay strong.
Authors of Pain- They will be the most dominating tag team for the next ten years.
WAR Raiders- Again in about 1 year they will give the tag division a big boost.
Tozawa and Itami
Gone from my roster.
John Cena (part timer)
Randy Orton (part timer)
Thanks for reading.
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ZWrestleTalk's Triple Z discusses WrestleMania 34 and all of its shocking, underwhelming, and exciting moments.
The elegant, expensive set was the centerpiece in the crowded Mercedes-Benz Superdome. It was the beginning of what would become a lengthy night in New Orleans. The first match which kicked off the entire night was the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. It set the tone.
Woken Matt Hardy would continue his legendary saga with a win on the grandest stage of them all. With the help of Bray Wyatt he would become the victor of the battle royal. The next contest was for WWE's purple brand. General Manager Drake Maverick was sitting ringside. It is still weird to see Drake Maverick formerly known as Rockstar Spud in the WWE. It has been strange to witness this TNA takeover between the main roster and NXT.
The Cruiserweight Championship was a battle between Cedric Alexander and Mustafa Ali. Alexander, a fan favorite since WWE's Cruiserweight Classic, won the terrific battle. Although the match delivered the future of 205 Live is still in jeopardy. It will be quite engaging to see how they turn it around.
The third and final match that took place on the Kickoff show was another battle royal but this time for the Women's division. NXT was well represented in the battle royal. Featuring Mae Young Classic winner Kairi Sane, Peyton Royce, Bianca Belair, Taynara Conti, Dakota Kai, and Kavita Devi. The match featured Bayley and Sasha Banks among others but that was the main story. In classic fashion, Naomi wins the battle royal making Bayley once again look terrible. Her and Sasha Banks constantly lose. Not everything has to always go to SmackDown. Yet once again this battle royal finished in favor of SmackDown. The actual contest itself was poorly executed but it served its purpose. It was a "Kickoff" match.
The first match of the main card was the triple threat for the Intercontinental Championship. The Miz would defend his title against Seth Rollins and Finn Balor. It was a thrilling contest to start the night. Resulting in Seth Rollins becoming a WWE Grand Slam Champion. A prestigious honor only a few superstars can reach during their career.
Asuka and Charlotte Flair were next. Having a solid match which ended with a unpredictable result. The unthinkable happened. Charlotte Flair defeated Asuka. Ending the long streak of Asuka ever since her start down in NXT. Did WWE always plan to end the streak in New Orleans? The place where streaks go to die. Where does Asuka go from here? There is a few routes they can take. Asuka is still one of the most striking talents on the roster. It is clear that WWE wants Charlotte Flair taking on Ronda Rousey next year. Some speculate that it may be the main event. Depending on the value of the rivalry it may be. Asuka could of easily been in that spot to face Rousey but obviously WWE is going in a different direction. Still it looks like we will see more from Asuka/Charlotte Flair down the line.
The fatal four way match for the United States Championship was highlighted by the phenomenon known as "Rusev Day." Yet WWE's most pushed star of the last year Jinder Mahal picked up the win. Which honestly I'm fine with. Mahal worked hard and he became a force within SmackDown. Rusev's time may never come which is a shame but we so often see that in the world of WWE.
The match of the night was Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle taking on Triple H and Stephanie McMahon. Rousey sure impressed the crowd. Coming out in gear inspired by her hero "Rowdy" Roddy Piper. Rousey proved she will be WWE's Woman for years to come. The supporting cast also deserves quite a bit of credit. Kurt Angle still can go. It can be debated if him and Triple H could of had a singles match with the pace they were going at. Stephanie McMahon always finds a way to impress. On Twitter I said that I couldn't wait until Stephanie McMahon and Triple H faced Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae. Especially now that WWE is fine with intergender wrestling. All in all the match solidifies Rousey and is one of the most memorable parts of the show.
The next match had a lot to live up to. Sadly The New Day, The Uso's and Bludgeon Brothers only got five minutes. Resulting in a "Meh" match. Nothing really memorable but nothing to pick on. The New Day is a charismatic trio but they can only do so much. At least The New Day blessed us with this.
Oh then the moment finally came. The Undertaker finally answered John Cena's challenge. After the little encounter with Elias I thought we were going to get a no-show from Taker. Glad, I was totally wrong about that. The Undertaker came out and delivered his best interaction since WrestleMania 31. Yeah the match was only two minutes but it doesn't really matter. What did you expect out of a 50 year old star? Goldberg/Lesnar had an amazing five minute match at WrestleMania 33. Yes, Taker completely dominated but even if the contest was longer that's how it was going to go. Cena made Taker look marvelous again. This wasn't The Undertaker of the past two years. His hair looked normal and he looked strong. A lot of people were touting that he had a new hip. Yet no one mentioned the possible usage of steroids. Quite strange... especially for WWE fans. Especially that because he is a part-time talent he doesn't get tested for steroids.
Right when The Undertaker hit "Old School" I knew he was a lot different from previous years. Like I said in my BreakDownZ piece. Taker has been resurrected and he will live to fight another day. It's time to enjoy Taker for what it is. There is no need for him to lose anymore. If that was indeed his last match then I am good with it. He looked like how we always remembered him.
Anyways this was my favorite segment of that match. Taker sits up, and Cena freaks out.
After that we witnessed the return of Daniel Bryan. The occasion should of been more momentous then it was. Still Daniel Bryan proved that he's still WWE's most over star. The Yes movement is still going strong. Despite being thrown into this last minute. Bryan still put on a fantastic sequence with Sami Zayn. I am very optimistic about the return of Daniel Bryan. I truly hope to see him once again main event WrestleMania.
I don't think anyone really cared about the stakes of the tag team match other then hardcore SmackDown fans. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn lost and they will continue to drift on the mid-card until something changes. Shane McMahon's presence was unnecessary in this match although he started this rivalry. Ironic to say that just after how fresh he was during WrestleMania 32.
Nia Jax and Alexa Bliss almost had the same amount of time as Charlotte Flair and Asuka. It was fine and the result was predictable. It was going to be a uphill battle either way. Even with Mickie James at ringside it didn't do anything to help better the match. Not too much could of gone differently unless Carmella decided to cash in Money in the Bank. Nia Jax is now the champion on RAW. Who's going to stop her? It should be pretty easy because she has been stopped many times before. I wouldn't be surprised if she lost the title the next night.
Our next long match was AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura. Nakamura got to have his fancy, live music entrance at WrestleMania. The match wasn't the best either had to offer. It was still decent. The ending sequence consisted of Nakamura screwing up and getting hit by a Styles Clash. The post-match respect session lead to the most shocking twist of the night. The lovable Shinsuke Nakamura turned HEEL.
HEEL TURN. It was outrageous and random but now at least in the rematch we will have true heel and face fighting. Usually the best matches have a clear babyface and a true heel. The classic hero taking on the villain. So Nakamura-Styles on WrestleMania 34 is a set up for the future showdown that promises to be a much better affair.
Sidenote: Not to mention the crowd was still cheering especially after being there for hours before.
Right when I thought WrestleMania would be done with the plot twists. It continued to surprise me. Braun Strowman needed a tag team partner for his tag team championship match against The Bar. There was big hype surrounding around who Braun would choose. Would he go in alone or would a legend emerge?
Braun decided to pick ten year old Nicholas from the "crowd."
Honestly it was a extremely cool moment. WWE went in a direction no one predicted and it was entertaining. After all this is entertainment. I am excited to see how this continues on RAW tonight of course. This just makes "The Monster Among Men" more over than he already is. I really hope WWE decides to milk the Nicholas thing. Send out a press release saying "WWE wishes him his best in his future endeavors." Especially if they ever decide to wrap it up. Just keep trolling it works.
The swerve didn't stop there.
Lesnar and Reigns got to fight in front of a dead crowd. The crowd was non responsive to anything that was going on in the contest. The beach balls were flying, different chants were started, and fans were leaving. Reigns didn't bring out everything in his arsenal. That's mostly due to Lesnar. The "Finisher Face-off" match wasn't well received. The match got me thinking maybe it is time to depart from the same main event scene that gets booed out of the house every time? Maybe it would happen to anyone because the show is just too rich. There is too much to truly enjoy. The event is going til midnight now. Meaning WrestleMania starts on Sunday and ends on Monday. People in other timezones struggle to stay awake due to the awkward timing. People in the correct timezones struggle to stay awake due to the awkward timing. Yet WWE can't go back now.
Similar to RAW being at three hours. You can't just cut back to two. Once the show became seven hours it will stay seven hours. Now back to the bloody mess of a match. Literally a bloody mess of a match.
I mean look at this. This is at Ric Flair levels of bleeding. Brock Lesnar is known for busting opponents right open a la Randy Orton at SummerSlam last year. Despite the back and forth, spears and F5's were everywhere. Brock Lesnar shocked the world and retained the title. The dead crowd was still confused at what was going on. I think WWE was as well. As they ended WrestleMania without the traditional fireworks or good night. Maybe everyone was a bit tired?
A truly hair scratching moment. The crowd still hates Reigns. I would've been fine with him winning though. Reigns has been booked horrendously ever since WrestleMania 31. They rushed him up. He had the skills to put on big time matches yet they did it to fast. He developed a persona but then WWE hangs him out to dry every time. Now we have Lesnar VS Reigns III at the Greatest Royal Rumble in Saudi Arabia. A possible title change may happen. The main event of WrestleMania didn't live up to anyone's standards.
Maybe it's time for WWE to focus on a main event scene that doesn't have to constantly feature Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar. It doesn't make them any worse than the next guy if they don't "main event." Just look at Cena/Taker. Two legends and if they wanted to could of clearly convinced Vince McMahon to let them go on last. Yet they didn't out of respect. Maybe it is just time. WWE and its counterpart NXT is stacked with talent. Switching up the main event scene doesn't hurt. Especially when you have Daniel Bryan and Ronda Rousey at your disposal. Lesnar will forever be a draw. But, in order to stay a draw you have to stay impressive and dominant. Lesnar could be losing his edge, and that's good for no one.
WrestleMania 34 was a event filled with exciting and shocking moments. It rightfully fits in with WrestleMania lore. Historically, New Orleans has been home of two WrestleMania's both featuring Brock Lesnar, Daniel Bryan, The Undertaker, John Cena, and Triple H. New Orleans is a lucky wrestling town. Also fun fact Kid Rock did the same exact theme song for both events. Good effort WWE! Another tid bit WWE dropping roman numerals is a disappointment.
The next WrestleMania is in New York. Well technically it is New Jersey. If WWE keeps its loaded roster then the sky will be its limit but for now we get the current excitement about a possible Draft or Shake-Up. We have the two key shows after Mania which always deliver.
So the bottom line is that Ronda Rousey impressed the world at WrestleMania, Shinsuke Nakamura decided to turn heel and gets to play with everyone's emotion, and The Deadman is resurrected. The Deadman will retire on his own terms.
Feel free to comment below.
ZWrestleTalk's newest writer JD explains what's important at WrestleMania 34.
Much like the Super Bowl, NBA Finals, and World Series, WrestleMania is the culmination of a full, long year of action. Every April, 70,000+ people pile into one of the premiere football stadiums around the country to witness WrestleMania, and millions more around the world watch at home. Despite wrestling’s status as a niche interest to most people, WrestleMania is something everyone can enjoy, whether you haven’t watched wrestling since 2002 or have never watched in your life. The perfect combination of athletics, lights, fireworks, live music, and larger-than-life personalities, WrestleMania is undoubtedly the greatest live event in entertainment today. I’ll be ranking every match by importance to help anyone interested in watching the eye-popping spectacle this Sunday in New Orleans better understand the pageantry that is the 34th annual WrestleMania event.
14. Women's Battle Royal
What is it: There is one thing notable about this match, and that doesn’t even apply anymore. The original name of this match was the “Fabulous Moolah Memorial Battle Royal,” named after one of the earliest women’s wrestlers The Fabulous Moolah and intended to be the female counterpart to the all-male Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Doesn’t sound too bad, right? Well, it turns out that Fabulous Moolah might not have been worth commemorating, as reports over her mistreating trainees (including that she would pimp out students to make money) caused major uproar, eventually forcing WWE to change the name of the match. Hopefully this ends a little bit better than the last WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal, which was actually won by a man in 2009. Classic WWE.
Why it’s important: It isn’t. This match is for the women who weren’t good enough to get a real match on the real show. I’m probably not even going to watch this match.
My pick: Sasha Banks
13. Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
What is it: This is the 5th annual Andre Battle Royal, with the first one actually taking place in New Orleans as well, at WrestleMania 30. This is maybe the most inconsequential match in WrestleMania history. The winner receives no incentives besides a big trophy, and no Andre Winner has ever received a legitimate push (move up to the main event, holding championships, more TV time) after winning. This year’s match has a very lackluster lineup as well, with Baron Corbin, Dolph Ziggler, and Matt Hardy being the only notable names scheduled to participate.
Why it’s important: Once again, it isn’t. I promise I will get more positive from here on out. Until WWE commits to pushing the winner of this match, it won’t mean anything.
My pick: Some surprise return/debut. None of the guys who have announced they’ll be in the match are consistently booked well, so I have no reason to believe they’ll win.
12. Tournament Final for the Vacant Cruiserweight Championship – Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali
What is it: Although this match is taking place on the pre-show, there is a high probability it will be match of the night. WWE’s Cruiserweight division consists of young competitors less than 205 pounds, and high-flying, fast-paced action is the division’s specialty. After former champion Enzo Amore was released by the company in late January, a 16-man tournament was organized to crown a new champion, culminating at WrestleMania. These two men were the most impressive competitors in the tournament and deserve this match at Mania.
Why it’s important: These are two of the best professional wrestlers in the world, and they’ve worked their entire life to compete at WrestleMania. Both men are young, in top-shape, and look the part of a wrestling champion. This also features a battle of arguably the two best finishers in WWE today, Mustafa Ali’s Imploding 450 Degree Splash, and Cedric Alexander’s Lumbar Check.
My pick: Cedric Alexander
11. RAW Women’s Championship Match – Alexa Bliss (c) vs. Nia Jax
What is it: For the past year, other than a short 8-day reign over the summer from Sasha Banks, Alexa Bliss has been RAW Women’s Championship. Debuting at only 25 years old and standing at only 5 feet tall, Bliss was often overlooked in favor of stars like Charlotte Flair and Banks by fans, but since debuting on the main roster, Alexa Bliss has been the most successful woman in WWE. What Bliss may lack in size, she makes up for on the mic, as she is one of the best female talkers WWE has ever had. Her opponent, Nia Jax, stands at 6 feet tall and weighs over 270 pounds.
Why it’s important: I honestly am not that excited for this match. It’s important because it’s for the Women’s Championship and is the culmination of a long-term storyline between ex-best friends Jax and Bliss, with Bliss assuming the role of “high school mean girl” making fun of Jax’s weight. However, these women aren’t particularly good wrestlers, and the size difference is staggering. I expect this to be no longer than 5 minutes.
My pick: Nia Jax
10. Triple Threat Tag Team Match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships – The Usos (c) vs. The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston, and/or Xavier Woods) vs. The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan)
What is it: I’m expecting this match to be a showcase for The Usos, the best tag team on the planet. For years, The Usos were slaphappy, dancing, white meat babyfaces. They put on great matches, but couldn’t connect with the crowd. Frustration over lack of connection caused The Usos to become more aggressive and turn heel, attacking opponents after matches and cutting scathing promos. Since this attitude change, The Usos have gained the respect of fans worldwide, with much thanks to an insane 5-match series in 2017 vs. The New Day that ended inside Hell in a Cell.
Why it’s important: The Usos and New Day are all great wrestlers who have impeccable chemistry with one another. It’s impossible for them to have a bad match together. Throw in the 6’5”, 275-pound Harper and the 6’8”, 315-pound Rowan of the Bludgeon Brothers and you have combustible elements that should make for a fun match.
My pick: The Usos
9. Fatal 4-Way for the United States Championship – Randy Orton (c) vs. Bobby Roode vs. Jinder Mahal vs. Rusev
What is it: Ever since Dolph Ziggler vacated the title (for absolutely no reason at all, I may add) in December, the United States Championship picture has been cloudy. Roode defeated Mahal to win the vacant title in January, but lost to Orton, one of the greatest professional wrestlers of this century, last month. Mahal claimed he deserved a rematch with Roode before Orton got his opportunity, leading to a scheduled Triple Threat match at Mania. Hardly anyone cared about the match however, so fan-favorite and leading merchandise-seller Rusev was added.
Why it’s important: Before Rusev was added, this match was somewhat important for one reason and one reason only: Randy Orton. Orton has dominated WWE for over 16 years, and won the WWE Championship last year at Mania. He will always have a high-profile match at the event. However, Roode and Mahal have not inspired much hype. Roode is about as bland a character as there is in WWE right now, assuming a good-guy character that just doesn’t fit his personality. Mahal is one of the most scrutinized wrestlers in the world, with fans saying he “doesn’t deserve what WWE gives him,” although I think he’s hilarious (if he enters Mania on an elephant, I will die). Thanks to the Rusev addition, who is one of the hottest acts in the company due to a silly gimmick where he declares every day as Rusev Day, fans have warmed up to the match just a little bit.
My pick: Rusev
8. RAW Tag Team Championship Match – Sheamus and Cesaro (c) vs. Braun Strowman and TBD
What is it: Ever since turning from bitter enemies into best friends in 2016, Sheamus and Cesaro have dominated the RAW Tag Team scene, having won the titles on four different occasions. Due to this dominance, Sheamus and Cesaro went on Raw, Twitter, and Instagram begging for better competition in the tag division. Who would answer the call? The 6’8”, 400-pound monster among men that is Braun Strowman. Strowman won a number one contender’s tag team match by himself, and was told he must find a partner in time for Mania.
Why it’s important: While Sheamus and Cesaro are wily veterans who are some of the best performers in the company, this match is all about Strowman. Over the past calendar year, Braun Strowman has been the hottest act in all of WWE, and many people argue that he should be in the main event of WrestleMania instead of this match. Over the past year, Strowman has tipped an ambulance, a semi-truck, broke the ring (twice), and beaten up a grown man with a cello. When Braun’s on the screen, your eyes are glued to it.
My pick: Braun Strowman and TBD
7. SmackDown Women’s Championship Match – Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Asuka
What is it: Since being signed to NXT in 2015, Asuka has been the single-most dominant person in wrestling history. The woman is being booked like prime Goldberg. Having never lost a match in NXT, Asuka was called up to Monday Night Raw in October and has still yet to lose a match, including the first-ever Women’s Royal Rumble match, guaranteeing her a title opportunity at Mania. Asuka chose to switch brands and challenge SmackDown Women’s Champion Charlotte Flair, daughter of wrestling legend Ric Flair. Charlotte is a 5-time Women’s Champion, and the most athletically gifted woman on the roster. Asuka has beaten almost everybody, but at WrestleMania, she’ll face Flair for the first time in her career.
Why it’s important: These are two of the most dominant stars in WWE today, and they should pull out all the stops in what could end up being one of the better matches of the night. Asuka works a strong, stiff style and Flair has a dominating presence and varied move-set. While I think Charlotte could be the right pick to break Asuka’s streak, it’s not a great idea for her as a babyface.
My pick: Asuka
6. Triple Threat Match for the Intercontinental Championship – The Miz (c) vs. Finn Balor vs. Seth Rollins
What is it: The Miz, an 8-time Intercontinental Champion, has always loved to claim that the Intercontinental Championship is the most prestigious championship in WWE. Being the holder of this prestigious title, he demanded a worthy challenger to face him at WrestleMania. He got 2 challengers: Seth Rollins and Finn Balor. Rollins, a genetic freak athlete in his prime, is a 2-time Heavyweight Champion and made history when he cashed in Money in the Bank at WrestleMania 31. The Irish Balor was one of the biggest stars in New Japan Pro Wrestling and is arguably the most charismatic star in WWE today. Both Balor and Rollins scored wins over The Miz, so this was made into a Triple Threat.
Why it’s important: Another match of the night contender, Rollins and Balor have already proven they are a great pair in the ring, including a thrilling match just this past Monday on Raw. The Miz is always entertaining, and while he can’t go in the ring quite like the other 2, he will definitely be a pivotal piece in this match. The entrances in this match should be a sight too, especially if Balor assumes his Demon alter ego. If so, we’re in for a treat.
My pick: Finn Balor
5. Mixed Tag Team Match – Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey vs. Triple H and Stephanie McMahon
What is it: Former UFC Champion and Olympian Ronda Rousey, one of WWE’s most prized signings ever, made her debut at the Royal Rumble, while signing her Raw Contract at Elimination Chamber with Raw General Manager Kurt Angle and WWE Executives Triple H and Stephanie McMahon present in the ring. Ronda signed the contract, Kurt Angle became the biggest snitch of all time and revealed the McMahons true intentions when signing Ronda, and next thing you know Ronda put Triple H through a freakin’ table. The beef only got worse, and Rousey used her contract to team up with Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle to face Stephanie and Triple H.
Why it’s important: Ronda Rousey is quite possibly the biggest name in WWE today. Her debut match is going to be very important, and is going to have a lot of close eyes on it. Rousey has been a mixed bag thus far in WWE, with flashes of serious badassery sprinkled in with awkward moments. This match could be a train wreck; it could have the hottest crowd reaction of the night, but no matter what it’s going to be fun to watch.
My pick: Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey
4. Tag Team Match (If Owens and Zayn win, they are rehired by WWE) – Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon vs. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
What is it: Ever since coming to SmackDown last April, Kevin Owens has had it out for SmackDown Commissioner Shane McMahon. Owens accused McMahon of costing him the United States Championship at SummerSlam, challenged him to a match inside Hell in a Cell, and enlisted the help of best-friend-turned-enemy-turned-best-friend-again Sami Zayn to defeat McMahon. Since that victory, Owens and Zayn have done everything they could do to get Shane McMahon off SmackDown, but they’ve met their match in the form of SmackDown General Manager and 4-time Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan, who is coming out of retirement for his first match in 3 years to team up with McMahon and stop the rebels once and for all.
Why it’s important: Daniel Bryan! Bryan is one of the most popular stars in WWE history, and him coming out of retirement has sent shockwaves throughout the wrestling world. Bryan will make his return in the same place he won the main event of WrestleMania 4 years ago. Any match with Bryan would be important, but the compelling long-term story between him, McMahon, Owens, and Zayn makes it even sweeter.
My pick: Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
3. WWE Championship Match – AJ Styles (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura
What is it: In 2016, the signings of AJ Styles and Shinusuke Nakamura, both former stars in Japan, changed the landscape of WWE. Styles was a rare immediate-call-up to the main roster and quickly became WWE Champion, while Nakamura became a 2-time NXT Champion before being called up one year ago. Since Nakamura got called up to SmackDown, fans have clamored for a match between him and Styles. The two faced off in the Tokyo Dome two years ago in a classic match, and the dream rematch became a reality when Nakamura won the Royal Rumble in January, cashing in his title shot against Styles at Mania.
Why it’s important: To the hardcore fans, this is the most anticipated match on the WrestleMania card. Styles and Nakamura have wrestled for every promotion around the world, gaining a steady following before signing to WWE and taking their star to the next level. Styles is the best all-around wrestler in WWE today, and Nakamura is a charismatic, mysterious, hard-hitting veteran who has been long been regarded as one of the best big match performers in the world. There are a lot of expectations for this match, and we’ll see Sunday if they live up to it.
My pick: AJ Styles
2. Universal Championship Match – Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Roman Reigns
What is it: The new top star and face of WWE, there has been no wrestler in history as controversial as Roman Reigns. The 6’3”, 265-pound Reigns was bred to be WWE’s next top guy, beginning with his WrestleMania main event match in 2015 vs. Brock Lesnar. The fans had different ideas, though. Reigns ascent as a heroic babyface was met with horrendous reaction from fans, and WWE had to book Seth Rollins to cash in Money in the Bank and steal the WWE Championship. 3 years later and despite all the haters, Reigns is the new top star of WWE, and after winning inside the Elimination Chamber, finally gets another crack at beating Brock Lesnar.
Why it’s important: This match has been rumored for well over a year, and has been presented by WWE as the top storyline heading into Mania. For all the hate he gets, Roman Reigns is WWE’s most consistent performer today, and has an aura around him that only top stars have. Brock Lesnar has long been one of WWE’s most dominant figures, but with a potential UFC return looming, this could very well be his last wrestling match. This won’t just be a match; it’ll be a fight.
My pick: Roman Reigns
1. John Cena vs. The Undertaker "not confirmed"
What is it: The unquestionable greatest performer in WrestleMania history is The Undertaker. Rattling off a never-to-be-duplicated 21 straight wins at WWE’s flagship show before losing to Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 30, The Undertaker once again suffered defeat at WrestleMania last year, losing to Roman Reigns in the main event. After his second WrestleMania loss, the aging left his hat, gloves, and jacket in the ring, presumably retiring. Undertaker was never heard from again, never even to confirm his retirement. After John Cena lost the Royal Rumble, Elimination Chamber, and WWE Championship Match at Fastlane last month, he needed to find a way to have a match at WrestleMania. So, he called out the Undertaker. Every week for the past month, and a half. The Undertaker has not responded yet, and Cena says he’ll be at Mania regardless of if Taker shows up or not.
Why it’s important: Just look at those names. John Cena is quite possibly the greatest professional wrestler of all time, and The Undertaker has been a leading force in WWE for almost 30 years. A match between the two has been a pipe dream for wrestling fans for a long time. Undertaker’s match versus Roman Reigns was presumed to be his last, but the match was sloppy and left a melancholy feeling in fans’ hearts. Now, thanks to Cena carrying the feud with promos attacking Taker and provoking every week, fans are as eager to see The Undertaker as they’ve ever been. If this match happens, it will go down as one of the signature moments in WrestleMania history.
My pick: The Undertaker
I'm pumped to be writing for ZWrestleTalk. Readers, you can expect more content from me after WrestleMania. What's your thoughts on WrestleMania 34? Leave a comment below.
ZWrestleTalk's Dom Bouchard gives his quick takes on WrestleMania 34.
Women's Battle Royal
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
Winner: Big Cass
Mustafa Ali vs Cedric Alexander
I see this match as a potential best match of the night. I truly hope the crowd will show them the respect they deserve. Ali is a wonderful wrestler and very cool guy and so is Cedric. I expect a high flying and technical masterpiece.
Winner: Mustafa Ali
Raw Tag Team Championship
The Bar vs Braun Strowman and ?
Here comes James Ellsworth. Just kidding! I predict Big Show to be the surprise tag team partner. Cesaro and Sheamus will find a way to steal this one by pinning Big Show which will push Braun to destroy the three guys and create a new Braun destruction clip.
Winners: The Bar
SmackDown Tag Team Title Match
The Uso's vs The New Day vs Bludgeon Brothers
This is finally the first Uso's WrestleMania main card match. I see them dominating and proving without a doubt that they are the best team in the world. It will be a four star affair.
Winners: The Uso's
The Miz VS Finn Balor VS Seth Rollins
It will be the best match of the night. Seth is the best Raw wrestler by far, and he will keep his string of awesome matches going. Finn is also an amazing performer, and The Miz can follow them.
Winner: Seth Rollins
RAW Women's Title Match
Alexa Bliss VS Nia Jax
30 second squash match.
Winner: Nia Jax
SmackDown Women's Title Match
Charlotte Flair VS Asuka
I see Carmella trying to cash in similar to Seth Rollins but getting pinned by Asuka to protect the streak and Charlotte Flair.
Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle VS Stephanie McMahon and Triple H
What a waste of time! This will probably be a terrible match on a otherwise stacked card. This contest involves a stiff rookie whose ring skills we do not know about yet. Plus two old, "over the hill" guys, and a 45 year old woman who never wrestles. Disaster incoming for this.
Winners: Ronda Rousey and Kurt Angle
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn VS Shane McMahon and Daniel Bryan
To me this is the co-main event of the show. It will be a show stealer. Daniel Bryan will make the crowd go wild. He is the most over guy in the company by far. Kevin Owens is the most underrated wrestler in the world. Sami Zayn will do his part to create a magical WrestleMania moment.
Winners: Daniel Bryan and Shane McMahon
John Cena and The Undertaker segment
I expect Taker to come out and kick Cena's ass, and challenge him for a later date.
Although reports say The Rock isn't showing up. Let's hope he shows up for this.
United States Championsip
Randy Orton vs Jinder Mahal vs Rusev vs Bobby Roode
It might be a sleeper match. Roode and Rusev are both capable of going hard but I think Mahal will steal the match.
Winner: Jinder Mahal
WWE World Title Match
AJ Styles VS Shinsuke Nakamura
The true main event in my opinion. Nothing but a five star match is to be expected. Shinsuke is a shell of his former New Japan self but I think he still has one great match left and with AJ Styles it is the time to do it.
Winner: AJ Styles
Brock Lesnar VS Roman Reigns
This match will be a hard hitting affair. Reigns will prove once again he has three moves in his arsenal. So expect 33 german suplexes, 37 superman punches, 17 spears, and 12 F5's. Okay I am kidding I forgot punches and samoan drops. Damn. Still it will be a hard hitting match with Roman Reigns kicking out of an F5 and winning after his 12th spear.
Winner: Roman Reigns
ZWrestleTalk's Dom Bouchard gives his quick takes on the NXT TakeOver New Orleans event. Which will be a truly groundbreaking event for NXT.
What an amazing card we have. This is the wrestling fan's dream card.
Ember Moon vs Shayna Baszler
Baszler will win in a very tough battle. I expect Ember Moon to move to the main roster pretty soon.
Six-Man Ladder Match for North American Championship
Adam Cole vs Velveteen Dream vs Lars Sullivan vs Killian Dain vs EC3 vs Ricochet
The title has an old school feel to it. It truly fits the vibe NXT is trying to create.
I can't wait for this one. Two debuts in one match which is totally unheard of. Ricochet, is one of the most athletic and spectacular wrestlers in the world, and EC3 is one of the most charismatic. The Dream is the next big thing, and Dain is the next big monster. I am not sold yet on either Lars Sullivan nor Adam Cole. I think Cole is a very ordinary talent,and Sullivan still needs to keep improving but wow what a match. It might be the second best match of the weekend. I believe Dream will walk out with the championship.
The Undisputed Era VS Authors of Pain VS Pete Dunne and Rodereick Strong
This will be a wonderful all out brawl. Authors of Pain are on their way out. So I expect Fish and O'Reilly to keep their titles. Even though the best wrestler in the world Pete Dunne and Roderick Strong are to remain together which would surprise me. Dunne is so good on his own. Maybe NXT is keeping them a team until they build a stacked Tag Team division post-Mania draining.
Johnny Gargano VS Tommaso Ciampa
This is without a doubt the "Match of the Year" coming up. Nothing short of a six star match will be a disappointment. The only question is if Ciampa is 100 percent. Even at 80 percent he is still one of the best in the world. I think Johnny Wrestling takes round one of this thrilling feud.
Andrade "Cien" Almas VS Aleister Black
This will also be a possible show stealer. Almas is without a doubt a main event player and Black is the one of the future faces of the WWE. It will be violent and spectacular. I'm going with the upset of Almas winning.
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Triple Z was live at NXT Detroit. The show had an interesting mix. Overall the show delivered.
Lars Sullivan defeats Kassius Ohno
Before the show even started. WWE played the "Then. Now. Forever" clip they show before television events. One fan shouted "OH NO WE'RE STUCK WATCHING RAW?" The crowd erupted in laughter. The fans were on fire that night.
I'm not a Kassius Ohno fan. He seems super overrated. I don't think I've cared about him since his first run in NXT. Maybe even far enough back to when he fought CM Punk in that pull barn. Lars Sullivan has the skills. I wouldn't be surprised to see him rushed to the main roster soon. Vince loves his big guys. Overall the match was great and started off a good card.
Who's over more? Kassius Ohno
Most Main Roster Potential: Lars Sullivan
Dakota Kai defeats Lacey Evans
Kai and Evans can wrestle. Lacey Evans has a great character. Dakota Kai brought the intensity in this matchup. Terrific match, very surprising these two were on the road trip though.
Who's over more? Lacey Evans
Most Main Roster Potential: Lacey Evans
SIDENOTE: Last time NXT came to Detroit they brought all their top people. This time it felt like they experimented a bit. I mean how do you not bring Peyton Royce and Billie Kay, NXT Women's Champion Ember Moon, Sanity, Authors of Pain, and Roderick Strong on this road trip?
Angelo Dawkins defeats Cezar Bononi
This is what I was trying to get at with the sidenote above. NO ONE KNEW WHO CEZAR BONONI IS. Except for one guy in the crowd chanting that we would know him if we watched NXT. Okay yeah sure bud. I get it he showed up on NXT once or twice. Why is he on the tour? I get the point of NXT is to prepare and develop the superstars of tomorrow but shouldn't he be competing at the local NXT events first? NXT Detroit lost an opportunity to see someone else. Which is a shame. Bononi all in all was alright. Nothing that caught my eyes. Angelo Dawkins on the other hand. He had the look, the gimmick, the mic skills, and the in-ring knowledge to back it all up. The Street Profits have a bright future in NXT. Dawkins cut a promo where he shouted "Detroit" and the crowd would cheerfully respond with "Basketball." Dawkins couldn't of asked for a better scenario that night. Other then of course being in action with his tag partner.
Who's more over? Angelo Dawkins
Most Main Roster Potential: Angelo Dawkins
Adam Cole defeats Christopher Dijak
Dijak competing was also fascinating. Most of us know him from Ring of Honor so it made sense he was on the tour. NXT has to take advantage of its natural wrestling talent. Especially the ones who are use to performing in front of a indy-like crowd. Dijak is a monster. Once he reaches main roster Vince will drop the "Christopher" and he will just be known as Dijak. It's cleaner and WWE loves single names.
Adam Cole is incredibly over. Very glad he was at the show. Dijak and Cole went on to have a fun match. Both competitors looked very good.
Who's more over? Adam Cole
Most Main Roster Potential: Christopher Dijak
(Surprised? Dijak is a monster. WWE loves their monsters.)
The Undisputed Era defeats Heavy Machinery
Heavy Machinery are over. The fun duo has a lot of potential to go far. The Undisputed Era still have it. Bobby Fish and Kyle O'Reilly received help from Adam Cole to win their match. This group should dominate NXT for a long time. I still fear their main roster potential though. We have seen a lot of NXT greats fall flat.
Otis Dozovic is a star. His worm was incredible. Dream match for Heavy Machinery would be The Revival. Two old school teams meet.
Who's more over? The Undisputed Era
Most Main Roster Potential: Heavy Machinery
Shayna Baszler defeats Kairi Sane by DQ
Let me start off by saying Shayna Baszler is so bad. Like this match was so boring. Poor Kairi Sane did her best to make it work. The crowd went in complete silence. How does a fired up Detroit crowd just die? Make Shayna Baszler compete. Then Dakota Kai saved us all as she came in and attacked Baszler due to a previous attack earlier in the night. Sane has SmackDown written all over her. Sane could also still have a prosperous career down in NXT. All depends on what they want to do with her. By far this was the worst match of the night. Which was a surprise due to the crowd being in love with Kairi Sane.
NXT needs to figure out Shayna Baszler though.
Who's more over? Kairi Sane
Main Roster Potential: Kairi Sane
Aleister Black defeats Velveteen Dream
This match makes up for the amount of NXT talent that didn't appear on the card. A rematch from NXT TakeOver War Games. Dream came out to a huge pop. So did Aleister Black. The two had a absolute stellar contest that resulted in Black coming out on top. Fun psychology and crazy moves made this another classic.
Velveteen also cut an amazing promo about Detroit sports prior to his match.
Who's more over? It was a tie.
Main Roster Potential: Tie
Johnny Gargano & Candice LeRae defeat Andrade Almas & Zelina Vega
Johnny Gargano may be WWE's second coming of Daniel Bryan. Gargano may be a even better version. Gargano has a innovative in-ring style. Charisma is also on his side. Candice LeRae is fantastic. She should be next in line to hold the NXT Women's Championship. Gargano and LeRae could easily become WWE's It couple. If WWE was truly forward thinking. They have to play the hot NXT act every year. WrestleMania 35 could be Roman Reigns (who has held the title for a full year) taking on underdog Johnny Gargano. Gargano wins, and a life time achievement is accomplished. A phenomenal celebration would ensue. Next night on RAW. Enter Tommaso Ciampa. You repeat a big NXT feud again. Although WWE has tons of talent. If they kept playing the hot talent from NXT fans wouldn't get bored.
Although I had high praise for Gargano/LeRae. It doesn't mean Almas and Vega aren't as impressive. Zelina Vega turned Almas around. The once joke of NXT became the rightful champion. Saving us from a boring reign of Drew McIntyre. THANK YOU ALMAS. The duo is ready for main roster but I have no problems having them dominate NXT. The actual match that night was everything you wanted in a Tag Team match. Great storytelling from all of them. Mixed Tag Matches are another thing NXT can do better than main roster. Facebook has to get involved in order to have mixed tag matches.
After the main event. Johnny Gargano and Candice LeRae shook people's hands and took pictures. True blue babyfaces. LeRae could be the most over Women's wrestler in 2019. Not to mention that she can go toe to toe with the men.
The future is bright for these four.
Who's more over? Johnny Gargano
Most Main Roster Potential: Candice LeRae
The event had all the action, emotion, and excitement you want out of a pro wrestling event. Despite some NXT stars not showing up, but the show still delivered. NXT realistically could tour the midwest every single year and they would sell out. WWE please take note.
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Triple Z recaps his favorite moments from last night's epic Royal Rumble event.
The first ever event to feature two Royal Rumble matches did not disappoint. The men's Royal Rumble went on early. The men's Rumble going on early is similar to when Undertaker does his entrance in the daylight it just doesn't feel right. Rusev is super over with the crowd. Funny how that happens when WWE least expects it. Finn Balor came out at number two. The beginnings of this match had Baron Corbin attacking everyone. Elias singing to the crowd before our first surprise entrant Adrien "Cien" Almas came out. Sami Zayn ended up stealing Tye Dillinger's spot at 10. The eventual winner Shinsuke Nakamura came out at 14. The New Day spot later in the match was great. Kofi Kingston having his foot be saved by Xavier Woods was hilarious. Then The New Day air lifted him back into the ring. Only to have Kofi quickly eliminated by Andrade "Cien" Almas.
I thought it was unnecessary to have Sheamus, Cesaro, and Seth Rollins in this match. We knew none of them had a shot because they had a match next. I'm glad WWE was aware that having Jason Jordan in the Royal Rumble would've been a bad idea. The final ten entrants in the match are a weird mix of characters. At 20 we have John Cena. Followed by another surprise with The Hurricane who I was convinced was going to eliminate a big name. Aiden English came out at 22. English only lasted two minutes in the match. Yet RUSEV DAY was still over with the crowds this even lasted to when Lana came out in her Royal Rumble match. Adam Cole who was banged up from NXT TakeOver on the previous night entered the match. The arena popped and he had a nice showing. Randy Orton, who was last year's winner, entered at 24 looking to make history and tie Stone Cold Steve Austin's three Rumble winner record. The next entries were Titus O'Neil and The Miz. Then boom another surprise. Rey Mysterio comes back and looks better then ever.
Now this was a moment. What a final six. The final three would become Cena, Reigns, and Nakamura. With Shinsuke Nakamura eliminating Reigns to win the Royal Rumble. I was convinced Reigns was going to win.
I feel if Roman Reigns ever wins another Royal Rumble match he will have to start off at number one to make it interesting. When Reigns came out at number 28 I thought it was over. So it was a nice surprise to see Nakamura pull it off. I'm excited for the possibility of seeing Rey Mysterio in WWE again. This was a Royal Rumble that had great moments, fun surprises, and a true surprise outcome. So overall this is one of the better Rumble's I've seen in years.
Shinsuke Nakamura will challenge AJ Styles for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania. Which has every intention to become match of the year. Speaking of WrestleMania we move onto Brock Lesnar VS Kane VS Braun Strowman. Nothing out of the ordinary. The match was typical Brock fare. Lesnar of course got the W. This most likely meaning we are getting Lesnar VS Reigns II at WrestleMania 34 unless something wild happens at Elimination Chamber.
The first ever Women's Royal Rumble relied on nostalgia, and it worked. I don't know how WWE will top it for next year. Hopefully they can get some of the former wrestlers back for it. Lita was pretty crazy almost killing herself on that moonsault. It's all for the fans am I right? Molly Holly looks like she could come back full time. I wouldn't put it past Kelly Kelly or Torrie Wilson to be surprises every so often. All of the free agents and Hall of Famers looked impressive. Trish Stratus especially was impressive. Give that woman a match at Mania. She could still go with Mickie James and or give her Sasha Banks. WrestleMania is a 7968 hour show anyways, so would adding another big match hurt?
Asuka was the right winner in the end. Despite how cool it would of been to see a free agent or Hall of Famer win. On top of a great match we got to see the debut of Ronda Rousey in the WWE. It will be interesting to see where she ends up at WrestleMania. I'm predicting Asuka will challenge Charlotte for the SmackDown Live Women's Championship. Just to make it a big match feel. WWE has been building towards that for awhile.
Both Royal Rumble matches could of been a lot worse. WWE got it right and now the excitement heading into Elimination Chamber and WrestleMania is at a high. Jonathan Coachman returns to RAW commentary tonight. Ronda Rousey is in the WWE. Rey Mysterio returns to WWE. All is right in the world of wrestling.
Creator of ZWrestleTalk. This page I give you my thoughts on the current state of the WWE product. I look back at the history of WWE. Sometimes even predict the future. If your lucky you get comedic articles too.