Over 80,000 fans packed MetLife Stadium, in East Rutherford, New Jersey to witness the WWE’s annual mega-event, Wrestlemania. In previous years, the show was filled with excitement, a couple of surprises, and hard-hitting action. This year, the company included a history making main event. The first bout of the night was for a championship.

The Universal champion, Brock Lesnar was challenged by Seth Rollins. The match began outside the ring, before the bell even sounded. Lesnar brutally attacked the challenger, threw him over an announcer’s table twice, and whipped him hard into a barricade. The beatdown continued for a while until Brock tossed his opponent into the ring. With both wrestlers now in the ring, the referee called for the bell to officially begin the match. Brock showed his remarkable strength by performing two German suplexes. So, it seemed like all was lost for Rollins.

But, with the fans behind him, Seth displayed great fortitude in bouncing back. He found a second wind. When Brock attempted the F5, Seth slid behind him, and shoved the champion into the referee. Rollins took advantage of the situation, connecting with a low blow and three Curbstomps. The final Stomp led to Seth pinning Brock for the three count. Fans in MetLife Stadium erupted in loud cheers when Seth Rollins was crowned the new Universal Champion. I think the change was long overdue. At least with a new champion, fans who watch Raw know they are going to get a champion who shows up on a weekly basis ready to compete.

In an intense, wild and crazy Falls Count Anywhere match Shane McMahon battled the Miz. This match had everything, even involvement from the latter’s real life father, George, which occurred as the Miz was recuperating from an attack outside the ring. When he recovered and realized what was transpiring in the ring with Shane and George, he angrily stormed into the squared circle and attacked McMahon relentlessly. The Miz threw his opponent outside of the ring, and demanded help for his father.

The two combatants went into the crowd and continued their fight. Everything from chairs, tables, television monitors and stairs were utilized. The tables used by the International row of announcers (located on the right side of the entrance ramp), and the Mania set structure, were destroyed by the two wrestlers. The end came when both climbed to the top of a camera platform. The Miz went for it all and suplexed Shane from the top of the platform to the ground below (it was padded for protection, but it was still a sight to behold.) With both wrestlers down, McMahon placed a hand across his opponent’s chest for the pin. Shane McMahon won a brutal and insane match. Both wrestlers deserve credit for putting their bodies on the line like they did. It still amazes me that Shane McMahon, who is nearing fifty, is willing to do all those crazy moves in a big match environment.

The WWE Women’s tag team titles were decided in a Four Way match among the champions, Sasha Banks and Bayley, the Iconics, Beth Phoenix and Natalya and Nia Jax and Tamina. The end came when Natalya performed a powerbomb on Sasha while Beth applied a Glam Slam from the top rope to Bayley. In all that confusion, Billie Kay tagged herself in and pinned Bayley to win the Women’s tag team titles. It was tough to follow at times. I was sad to see Sasha and Bayley lose. But, it was good for Billie Kay and Peyton Royce, because the win provided them with a Mania moment. The new champions displayed some emotion when they won, and that’s always great for fans to witness.

The second main event was for the WWE Championship as Kofi Kingston challenged Daniel Bryan. Fans were really invested in this one. This was Kofi’s first match for the WWE title in his eleven year run with the company. There were many close calls in this match, and even times when Kofi could have capitulated to many of Daniel’s submissions. But the challenger’s New Day teammates and friends (Big E. and Xavier Woods) would not let him, and kept shouting words of encouragement from the outside of the ring.

The end came when Bryan attempted to apply the Lebell Lock, but Kofi escaped, and the crowd grew really loud. Kofi then hit his Trouble in Paradise finisher. Daniel was down. Kofi pinned him for the three. The crowd became euphoric as Kofi Kingston became the new WWE Champion. Big E and Xavier entered the ring and celebrated with their friend. Xavier even brought in Kofi’s kids to join the celebration. What a great moment for Kofi. It demonstrated that if you work hard and fight through the obstacles in your path, you can achieve. Kofi Kingston also made some history. He is now the first African born wrestler to hold the WWE Championship!

Before I proceed to another one of the anticipated matches of the night, I would like to provide a little background. When Monday Night Raw began on October 22, Roman Reigns stepped into the arena – not the character, but the man, whose real name is Joe Anoa’i. When he entered the ring, he made a shocking real life revelation that he was re-diagnosed with leukemia, and he had to forfeit the Universal title. Fans were in shock and very emotional. But, he promised to be back. He returned in February with the good news that his leukemia was in remission to a jubilant crowd reaction. He also said that he felt a hundred percent. With that news, the company had to find a suitable opponent for Wrestlemania. The build began for Reigns against Drew McIntyre.

The match itself was not too long. Drew got a lot of offense on Reigns. Drew ducked a Superman Punch attempt from Reigns. But, Roman hit a devastating Spear to end the match. Roman Reigns was victorious in his first singles match since his diagnosis. The crowd was very thrilled. I am sure the purpose of the match was to give Roman a singles victory. I am sure Joe Anoa’i worked very hard to reach where he is.

A fun moment occurred in the next segment. Elias (a current wrestler) was supposed to be the night’s musical entertainer. As he was starting his performance, a video played of New York Yankees legend Babe Ruth “calling his own shot” in the 1932 World Series. While the video confused the MetLife Stadium crowd, they cheered it because it was a great moment in Yankees history. That led to “Basic Thuganomics” blasting over the speakers. John Cena, dressed in the attire he wore in 2004, entered the arena to loud cheers. He began spitting rhymes dissing Elias. He even included a line about fans wanting him to turn heel. After Elias attacked him, John picked him up and dropped him with an Attitude Adjustment. It was great to see John Cena revert to his old school persona. I am interested where the company will take this. I think there will be a match or two, depending on Cena’s movie schedule. The other question is, will the company decide to finally turn John Cena heel?

The WWE made history with this show. It was the first time women main evented Mania. Ronda Rousey faced off against Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch for both the Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championships. What a great match it was. The intensity was apparent from the beginning, and the crowd was solidly behind Becky.

Both Charlotte and Lynch were able to counter Becky’s finisher, the Disarmer on a few occasions. During the match, Becky tried for the Disarmer on Ronda. With both of her opponents still standing, Charlotte performed a brutal looking Spear. She covered Becky, but became flustered when her opponent kicked out.

The conclusion of the match saw Becky and Ronda face off. Ronda kicked her in the face and got Lynch in position for her finisher, Piper’s Pit. But, Becky countered into a crucifix for the pin. The crowd erupted as Becky Lynch was announced the new Raw and Smackdown Women’s Champions. While fans were thrilled for Becky, viewers saw how much it took out of the other two. We saw how exhausted all three women were, and how much it meant to them to headline Wrestlemania. The WWE should be applauded for taking this huge step in their Women’s Evolution.

Over its thirty-five years history, Wrestlemania has seen awe inspiring and sometimes meaningful moments. This year was no exception. Fans witnessed Kofi Kingston become the first African born WWE Champion, Roman Reigns winning his first singles match since returning from his real-life leukemia battle, and the biggest one, the women main eventing the company’s biggest show. These moments demonstrate that if you work hard and have the desire to achieve your dreams, anything can be accomplished.

Azeem Kayum

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