It was indeed a magical and unbelievably historic night at AT&T Stadium in Dallas on Sunday night. WWE brought the glitz and glamour of WrestleMania to the heart of Cowboys country and the response was beyond description. New champions were crowned, a new title was revealed, and plenty of surprises were to be had as the worldwide leader in sports entertainment outdid everybody’s expectations.
In addition to being available on the WWE Network, the special kickoff show was also aired on the USA Network. Fans were able to see three matches prior to the actual WrestleMania event. The first of which saw Kalisto defend the United States Championship against Ryback. In what seemed like an impossible mountain to climb, Kalisto pinned Ryback and retained the gold.
The second was a 10-Diva tag team match, that saw the stars of E’s “Total Divas” collide. Team Total Divas (comprised of Bri Bella, Eva Marie, Natalya, Alicia Fox, and Paige) faced off against Team B.A.D. and Blonde (Lana, Tamina, Summer, Emma, and Naomi). Eva Marie may have been the most unloved Diva of the night, even though she was siding with the fan favorites, however she was able to help her team pick up the victory. Her in-ring skills have improved after being under the direction of former WWE star Brian “Spanky” Kendrick.
WWE Hall of Famer Lita was in attendance for the preshow, and was proud to make a blockbuster announcement. In what was a long-awaited move, the WWE Divas Championship has officially been scrapped. She introduced a new title, following the lineage of the WWE Women’s Championship, which it will be named. Lita noted that the winner of the triple threat match later in the evening would be declared the brand new WWE Women’s Champion.
Finally it was time for the third and final preshow match, as Jimmy and Jey Uso took on the decorated duo of The Dudley Boyz. It was a solid way to get fans ready for the big night, as the Usos picked up the win. After the match, they got a measure of revenge stemming from several weeks back, and drove both Dudley members through their own tables.
From there, it was on to the grandest stage of them all…WrestleMania. And kicking things off was a seven-man ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. Kevin Owens brought his title to Dallas and put it up against the likes of Dolph Ziggler, Stardust, former friend Sami Zayn, Zack Rdyer, Sin Cara, and The Miz. Stardust got a huge reception when he came out, as his gear was designed to be similar to that of his legendary father “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes. He even had his own ladder under the ring, that bore the signature yellow polks dots that his dad sported on his ring gear during his illustrious career. But the night would belong to that of the surprising Zack Ryder, who was able to survive the other six, and walk away with the WWE Intercontinental Championship.
Chris Jericho and AJ Styles took the stage next. This had been brewing since AJ’s shocking debut in January at the Royal Rumble. After feuding back and forth, and even teaming for a short time, their friendship quickly dissolved into a heated rivalry. These two had a tremendous match, that ended with Jericho scoring the Codebreaker onto Styles, who was attempting a springboard move from the ropes. Jericho picks up a big win and spoiled Styles’ WrestleMania debut.
The first of what would be several surprises took place at this point. WrestleMania is often known for over-the-top entrances, and The New Day would set the bar first. Entering the arena through a giant box of their own “Booty-O’s” cereal, the unicorn horn-wearing trio made their way to the ring to face off against The League of Nations (Wade Barrett, Sheamus, and Rusev). The league of Nations picked up the win, but magic happened AFTER the match.
Wade Barrett grabbed the microphone and bragged on his teammates getting the win. He then went onto say that there isn’t a better three-man trio that is better than them. They were about to find out how wrong they were. Dallas erupted when the theme of Texas legend “The Heartbreak Kid” Shawn Michaels blasted through the AT&T Center. Michaels came out…and dressed to compete! He was followed by Mick Foley and fellow Texas legend “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, which brought the crowd to a near riot of excitement. The three stormed the ring and went to war with Barrett’s crew. Michaels and company quickly ejected the League from the ring, and celebrated with The New Day.
Up next was a No-Holds-Barred streetfight between Brock Lesnar, and Dean Ambrose. It was going to be anything BUT a technical classic, and it delivered. The two battered each other with everything from chairs to fire extinguishers, and even a barbed wire baseball bat came into play late in the match. But Lesnar scored with a barrage of German suplexes, and followed up by delivering a thunderous F-5 through a pile of chairs. He would pin Ambrose and escape with a brutal victory.
From there, the ladies were set to battle for that new WWE Women’s Championship that Lita mentioned earlier in the night. Charlotte, flanked by her father “Nature Boy” Ric Flair, came to the ring to face off against Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch. Sasha was brought to the ring courtesy of a live performance from her her uncle, Snoop Dogg, who was inducted on Saturday night into the WWE Hall of Fame. These three may have had the match of the night. After laying everything out for an incredible match, Charlotte would lock in her Figure Eight submission on Becky to pick up the win. With that, the Divas Championship is retired and Charlotte is now officially recognized as the WWE Women’s Champion.
The next match was all about control and a potential career-saving match. Shane McMahon and The Undertaker stepped inside the unforgiving confines of Hell In A Cell. If Shane won, he would take control of “Monday Night Raw,” and The Undertaker would be out of the WWE. The two went back and forth throughout the match. At one point, Shane brought out a bair of bolt cutters from under the ring. He used them to disassmble one section of the cage, which The Undertaker would drive him through just moments later. But Shane would be responsible for a death-defying “WrestleMania moment,” when he fought back and made his way to the very top of the dangerous structure. With The Undertaker lying flat on an announce table, Shane took flight from over 20 feet above, but disaster struck. The Undertaker was able to roll off the table and avoid impact. Shane crashed through the table, as it essentially imploded from under him. It was the moment that The Undertaker desperately needed. He would drag Shane back into the ring and deliver a Tombstone piledriver to pick up the victory. Shane would have to be carted out of the arena on a stretcher, having sustained multiple injuries as a result of his efforts during the match. He did give a thumbs up to the crowd, assuring them he would make a recovery.
It seemed almost impossible to follow that performance, but up next was the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Multiple WWE superstars would compete in an over-the-top battle royal, with the winner being awarded a giant trophy that bears the likeness of Andre. There were several surprise entries, including Diamond Dallas Paige and even the Native American, Tatanka. But the biggest…literal…surprise came in the form of multi-time NBA All-Star Shaquille O’Neal. He would go face-to-face with The Big Show and attempt to floor him with his own chokeslam finisher. But the other participants ganged up on the huge duo and eliminated them from the ring. In the end, it would be NXT standout Baron Corbin that shocked the crowd to eliminate Kane and claim victory in this year’s battle royal.
The fans in Dallas were then treated to a special performance from the cheerleaders for their hometown Dallas Cowboys. The iconic Dallas Cowgirls gave the AT&T Stadium spectators a few moves and then paved the way for The Rock to make his way to the ring. He would make the special announcement that this year’s WrestleMania had just shattered the all-time WrestleMania attendance record. He broke the news that the night’s official attendance was 101,763 fans. But as quick as the celebration started, he was interrupted by The Wyatt family.
Bray Wyatt came to the ring surrounded by Erick Rowan and Braun Strowman. Bray spoke of how he would eviscerate Rock, which the former WWE Champion responded by challenging them to a match. He shedded his street clothes to reveal that he actually was wearing his classic ring gear and was dressed to compete. A referee hit the ring and suddenly fans were treated to an impromptu match. But as quickly as the bell rang, Rowan would be the subject of a Rock Bottom and a pin. The match lasted just three seconds, an event record, and Rock had picked up a win. But the Wyatts were quick to recover and go after The Rock. Then it happened. The familiar music hit the arena, and to the absolute shock of the 101,000-plus crowd, JOHN CENA stormed the ring and backed up The Rock. The two fought off the Wyatts and stood victorious, as the fans erupted. Cena had been out of action for several months, and was still rumored to be out for another seven or eight months. But word broke over the weekend that he may have already been medically cleared, and if so, he could be back in action sooner than later.
After all of that, a nearly SEVEN-HOUR afternoon of events came down to the main event. It was the WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between the champion Triple H and Roman Reigns. Stephanie McMahon brought Triple H to the ring in a special entrance, where she cut a promo from a platform above the entrance area. These two simply tore each other apart for over a half hour. It spawned from months of the two feuding and even seeing Reigns miss time due to a broken nose and facial injuries. Triple thought he had won the match after a scored with a Pedigree, but Reigns kicked out. Moments later, Stephanie found herself in the ring. But that turned out to be a bad move. Reigns went to spear the champion, but Triple H moved and Reigns went full-impact into Stephanie. The collision drove her out of the ring. However she was able to recover just enough to find her husband’s trademark sledge hammer and slide it to him. Triple H went to attack Reigns with it, but the challenger ducked and hit another spear on him to pin him and regain the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.
It was, in reality, a mixed reaction for Reigns. He is now a two-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion, and the reign of The Authority has come to an end. WrestleMania closed out the biggest night of the year for the company, as well of a week stacked full of activities in the Dallas area. Now the questions begin. Where does Reigns go from here, now that he has regained the gold? Will The Authority have anything to say on Monday when “Raw” goes live? Historically, it’s kind of like Monday will be New Year’s Day around WWE, and it will be very interesting to see what the company’s landscape will look like from here.