The build-up, the excitement and the extravagant entrances were all part of the biggest day on the WWE calendar – Wrestlemania. The event emanated from the sold-out Superdome, in New Orleans, Louisiana. This year, the event showcased two dream matches, the in-ring debut of a former UFC star and a major surprise. The focus of the first match was the WWE Intercontinental Championship.

The Miz put his title on the line against Finn Balor and Seth Rollins. What a match it was. Fans were engaged throughout. A meaningful moment occurred during Balor’s entrance. I thought, and am sure most did as well, that he was going to arrive in his demon persona, but he did not. He arrived with some individuals who represented the LGBTQ community of New Orleans. That was a cool thing for the company and for Finn himself to include them as part of his entrance. The action spoke volumes about inclusivity and acceptance.

The champion attempted to pin Seth after a top rope bulldog, but Finn connected with his Coup de Grace finisher to barely break it up. He later performed the same move on the champion, but Rollins disrupted the cover. The end occurred when Seth hit the Curbstomp for the pin on the Miz to attain his first Intercontinental title. The crowd was very enthusiastic with the result. In my opinion, Seth deserved this because of all the hard work he put in over the years, especially coming back from a severe injury a couple years ago. I hope he has a lengthy reign as champion.

The Smackdown Women’s Championship was another tense battle as Charlotte battled the undefeated Asuka. The challenger focused most of her attack on the champion’s arm. The end came with Charlotte applied her Figure Eight submission. Asuka had no alternative but to tap out. The crowd was stunned – everyone expected Asuka to win the title. In a show of respect, Asuka took the microphone, and said “Charlotte was ready for Asuka. Congratulations!” The two shared an emotional embrace. As the champion was walking up the ramp, a referee rushed to ringside to notify John Cena (who was in the crowd as a fan, because he was not “scheduled” for a match) something, which caused him to run to the back in excitement – what could that message have been?

In a match that was highly anticipated, Triple H and Stephanie McMahon battled Kurt Angle and Ronda Rousey. Ronda received a tremendous ovation as her music played. She walked down the aisle and had a permanent smile on her face – I think she was legitimately surprised by the reaction, and was able to realize her dream by performing in the WWE. The men started the match and wrestled as well as you would expect from two legends. But fans wanted to see Ronda, and when she was tagged in, the Superdome erupted. As a result of Rousey entering, Stephanie was forced to come in. Ronda performed a lot of the moves she was known for in the UFC. She even got into it with Triple H. Using a flurry of punches and a single leg takedown, the crowd became unglued with what they were witnessing. She even displayed her power by lifting Triple H, before Stephanie re-entered, and slapped her. The conclusion came once Ronda applied an arm bar submission on Stephanie to make her tap out.

What an amazing debut for Ronda Rousey. She adapted really well to the professional wrestling world. It also helped that she had three individuals with experience to help her through her first match. I think that if she is willing to learn, listen to those with more experience, and continues to show a positive disposition, she will do well in the WWE.

Later in the night, John Cena came to the ring for an expected match with the Undertaker While there, another referee entered to tell him that Taker was not in attendance. Then, the lights went out. When they came back on….Elias was on stage, to a plethora of boos. After performing a song, he entered the ring and was quickly demolished by Cena. The lights went out again, and again, excitement and suspense permeated throughout the Dome. In the ring, was Taker’s hat and trenchcoat folded neatly. The lights went out again, this time the Undertaker appeared and slowly made his way to the ring. Cena stood in the ring, frozen. As soon as he entered, he went after John. Cena had a tiny bit of offense, but he was completely decimated by Taker. He hit his Tombstone piledriver for the win. I was surprised at how easy that was for the Undertaker. The match was over in about three minutes, and Taker looked great. Hopefully, these two will have a proper one-on-one match in the near future.

The second “dream match” featured AJ Styles, the World Heavyweight Champion, defending against Shinsuke Nakamura. These two have come face-to-face before in Japan, so they were familiar with each other’s moves. Nakamura’s entrance was a sight to behold as Nita Strauss, who is an electric guitar player for rock legend Alice Copper, provided the musical accompaniment. She was supported by a few back up violinists and guitar players. It was very well done and spectacular. It was dramatic, well-executed, and one of my favorite moments of the night.

The action was fast paced and entertaining. Nakamura utilized his vast arsenal of kicks. Both men applied various submission moves, but neither capitulated. The end came when the champion countered the challenger’s Kinshasa knee strike, into the Styles Clash for the win. With the victory, AJ Styles remained the World Champion. So, that was it…Nothing else transpired. Well, a major occurrence took place afterwards that no one saw coming.

Nakamura entered the ring and grabbed the belt from the referee. He fell to his knees and presented the title to AJ. It was great moment. Then, the challenger gave the champion a low blow, to the shock of the audience. He kept viciously attacking Styles, and left to an eruption of boos. The question now is…WHY? Nakamura has officially turned heel, and it will be interesting to see what transpires out of this turn, and what it means for the Nakamura/Styles rivalry.

The main event featured Roman Reigns attempting to wrest the Universal title from the grasp of Brock Lesnar. The match was filled with numerous German Suplexes, a few F5’s, and Reigns suffering through much adversity. The fans turned on the match quickly. The end came when Brock removed his gloves and continually pounded Reigns. It was so brutal that the challenger’s head was gushing blood. With Roman helpless, Lesnar hit a sixth F5 to retain the title. The crowd cheered in the end when they saw what the result was. The perception heading into this match was that Roman Reigns would win the title and have his “crowning moment” on the biggest show of the year. If that would have happened, Reigns, who was always supposed to be the fan-favourite, at least according to Vince McMahon, would have been booed out of the building. I guess Vince changed his mind on the result at some point prior to the event. Another possibility could be that Brock Lesnar signed a new contract, which may have led to the decision to have Brock retain the title. Either way, it was a surprising result to conclude an extraordinary Wrestlemania event.

The one minor problem I had with the event was a potential match that never occurred. For weeks the WWE had been building towards a Sasha Banks vs Bayley match. I am hopeful that a tussle with these two will transpire down the road at a major event. I know that recently on Raw, one of the two turned. I am sure the company wanted this rivalry to fester and percolate longer, and I understand that – but the least they could have done, is give us an in-ring promo between the two. But, as I said, that is minor.

Fans witnessed Ronda Rousey perform exceedingly well in her debut match. Asuka’s undefeated streak came to a shocking conclusion. Daniel Bryan, for the first time in three years, returned to the ring, teaming with Shane McMahon against Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, and looked really good, like he hadn’t missed a step. Finally, I am sure the audience was taken aback by the Nakamura surprise heel turn. Also, three championships changed hands as the Bludgeon Brothers won the Smackdown tag titles, Jinder Mahal claimed the United States Championship in a four way match and Nia Jax defeated Alexa Bliss to attain the Raw Women’s title.

Wrestlemania 34 provided exciting action and a few surprises. The company created a new rivalry between AJ Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura, which should mean some great matches between them in the future. Ronda Rousey should have another rivalry on the horizon in the near future, or maybe a one-on-one match with Stephanie McMahon. What I am sure of is that the WWE will continue to build for the future of the company. They should be really proud with how this event was presented and the performances of all its superstars.

I think my favourite moment of the night occurred in the first match. I applaud the company’s move to showcase acceptance for differences during Finn Balor’s entrance. As the late poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou once said,

“It is time for parents to teach young people early on that in diversity there is beauty and there is strength.”

I am proud that in one of my favourite sports, Vince McMahon chose to use a platform like Wrestlemania to convey such a profound lesson.

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