The lapsed fan's guide to WrestleMania 35

Charlotte Flair explains what it means to be the main event at WrestleMania, noting that it was seen as impossible just a couple years ago.

As a service to fans who have a general interest in the WWE but might not have watched a match since WrestleMania last year, we're happy to provide this FAQ as a guide to WrestleMania 35.

Q. Why are they back at MetLife Stadium for WrestleMania?

From a "claimed attendance" standpoint, WrestleMania 29 in East Rutherford in 2013 had the third-largest gate in the history of the event, behind the legendary WrestleMania III (93,173) at the Silverdome in 1987 and WrestleMania 32 at Jerry World in Dallas in 2016. That latter event claimed a WWE record of 101,763 in attendance, but Vince McMahon later admitted that the number included "ushers and ticket-takers and all of that." And having seen that stadium, they might have 10,000 ushers ...

Also, WrestleMania prides itself on unpredictability, so obviously the stadium that just saw Odell Beckham Jr. traded to Cleveland was a natural flex.

Q. Is this the first all-female main event in WrestleMania history?

Yes. After 34 years in which the main event featured an NFL player, an actor, King Kong Bundy and Roman Reigns three times, the WWE is finally showcasing women competing at the top of its signature event: RAW women's champion "Rowdy" Ronda Rousey versus SmackDown women's champion Charlotte Flair versus champion of the people and discerning fans everywhere, Becky Lynch.

Q. What's the storyline here?

Remember "Stone Cold" Steve Austin? What if he was a 5-foot-6 woman from Limerick, Ireland? That's Becky Lynch, or at least how the WWE has chosen to book Becky Lynch.

Stop us if you've heard this before: There's a rule-breaking, charismatic heel that's so completely over with the fans that it basically turns them face, to the point where the WWE starts selling black T-shirts with white lettering featuring their catchphrase. They win the Royal Rumble to earn a championship match, but are then suspended when -- and again, stop us if any of this sounds remotely familiar -- they have a physical altercation with a member of the McMahon family (Stephanie, in Lynch's case) who wasn't allowing them to wrestle due to injury. Yet they still showed up at the arena while suspended and had to be "arrested" by "police" for again going after a McMahon. The only thing missing was Becky Lynch driving a tanker truck full of Guinness to the ring.

Anyway, Flair was elevated to the WrestleMania match during Lynch's suspension, and then Lynch was added back to make it a triple threat after Rousey attacked her in a match against Flair at Fastlane last month. The winner of this match will win both titles.

Q. Is this Rousey's last match?

There's heavy speculation that she's planning to take time off after this match. The news has been divisive for the fans. Some have been critical of her mat and mic skills, others have lauded the heat she generates for the women's division. If this is the end, for a bit, we just hope Becky keeps tweeting at her, because that social media feud has been hotter than 99 percent of the ones in the WWE:

Q. Are there other women's matches at WrestleMania?

Yes. WWE women's tag team champions Sasha Banks and Bayley, aka the Boss 'N' Hug Connection ...

Q. So they're not even trying with these nicknames anymore?

Considering that Beth Phoenix and Natalya are called "The Divas of Doom," no, they're not. That's the second team in this four-way tag team match, along with Nia Jax and Tamina and The IIconics, Billy Kay and Peyton Royce, who are snarky and fun and Australian and the team that seemed to be the inspiration for the invention of these titles last December.

They also just announced a second-ever women's battle royal at WrestleMania, so Asuka has something to do. Hey, those plastic "Empress of Tomorrow" masks aren't going to sell themselves.

Q. Who's in the men's battle royal?

That's the sixth annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal to you, buster.

It's a rather eclectic group this year, featuring several midcard tag teams, older stars (The Hardy Boys), former NXT favorites (EC3, No Way Jose), cruiserweights (Ali, who was Mustafa Ali until last week) and Braun Strowman, who really should have a match elsewhere on this card, but then the WWE could never be accused of knowing how to book Braun Strowman.

Oh, and of course, there's Colin Jost and Michael Che.

Q. Sorry, what?

Look, there's a long legacy of celebrities being involved in WrestleMania, from Mr. T wrestling in the first one to Rob Gronkowski interfering in the WrestleMania 33 battle royal to Pete Rose getting Tombstoned by Kane while dressed as the San Diego Chicken (don't ask). Jost and Che have a beef with Braun, who called them out to appear in this match. And so the "Saturday Night Live" Weekend Update guys will be stepping inside the squared circle, hopefully with Jost wrestling in a three-piece suit.

Q. Is this going to be a disaster?

No, as long as there's a run-in by either Stefon or Kate McKinnon dressed as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Or, sparing that, Strowman throws Jost into the sun.

Q. Speaking of ending things, this card features Kurt Angle's final match, right?

That's correct. The 1996 Olympic gold medalist is ending his in-ring career against Baron Corbin, who has gone from a feral biker type with a penchant for wolf T-shirts to what appears to be a guy pouring craft cocktails at a Brooklyn speakeasy. There are some scores to settle here, after which Angle will hang up his singlet until his next comeback. Anyway, win or lose, he'll have his tearful WrestleMania Moment™ goodbye in front of an appreciative crowd chanting about how much he sucks.

Q. Are there any other 50-year-olds who shouldn't be wrestling on the card?

Hey, Shane McMahon is only 49! But Shane-O-Mac is back at it again, wrestling in a grudge match against his former tag team partner, The Miz, having turned on him at Fastlane by attacking his father (!) at ringside. It's also a "falls count anywhere" match, which really opens up the number of opportunities for Shane to climb something tall, jump and/or fall off of it and, since he's the villain here, completely miss, leading to a pinfall defeat.

Q. What are the other non-title matches on the card?

AJ Styles and Randy Orton face each other in a match to see [checks notes] who can rightfully claim to have built the SmackDown brand, which is both the most strained premise and delightfully old-school motivation of this year's WrestleMania.

Roman Reigns, who returned from leukemia treatment in February, takes on "The Scottish Terminator" and/or "Psychopath" Drew McIntyre. They've thrown everything at the wall to see what makes this feud stick: McIntyre attacking Reigns physically; McIntyre attacking Reigns verbally, basically begging him not to take this match for the sake of his wife and kids; and McIntyre attacking Reigns' friends Dean Ambrose and Seth Rollins, which probably would have been more consequential had The Shield not defeated McIntyre & Co. at Fastlane in their farewell match as a faction.

Q. So no Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar again?

No, the honor of facing Brock goes to Roman's Shield buddy Seth Rollins, who is considered the best worker in the entire company at the moment. He won the Royal Rumble to earn his shot at Lesnar's Universal championship. Please recall that at WrestleMania 31 (aka "The One with Sting"), Rollins cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase during Lesnar's match against Reigns, pinning Roman for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.

The buildup for this match has been similar to other Lesnar WrestleMania matches -- the champ not appearing on television, leaving Paul Heyman to sell the thing like he's on QVC -- but this one feels like it should be a passing of the torch ... especially with the ever-present "Brock back to UFC" chatter.

WWE

The WWE championship match between Daniel Bryan, left, and Kofi Kingston could potentially steal the show at WrestleMania 35.

Q. What's the WWE championship match?

Potentially the best one on the card: "The New" Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston.

Now, this was a buildup. In summary: Kofi put on incredible performances in a gauntlet match and in the Elimination Chamber, and was given a title match against Bryan at Fastlane. But then Mr. McMahon Thanos-snapped him out of that match, replacing him with Kevin Owens. An outraged New Day asked for a title shot for Kofi, and he was given another gauntlet match -- beating Samoa Joe, The Bar, Randy Orton and Rowan, before McMahon made Bryan the last competitor and he got the win.

So then McMahon put it on the New Day: If Xavier Woods and Big E won a tag team gauntlet match, Kofi would get his title shot. And that they did on SmackDown, defeating Bryan and Rowan in the last match to spark an emotional celebration.

Which of course means they'll turn on him for some dumb reason and break all of our hearts ...

By the way, for the uninformed: The formerly beloved Daniel Bryan has been working as a monster heel since last November, using his veganism and environmentalism as the crux of his villainy. That included throwing away the title belt because it was made of leather and creating a new one ... out of hemp. Dastardly!

Q. What about the Intercontinental championship?

Bobby Lashley is the IC champion, and his laborious feud with Finn Balor may finally come to end at WrestleMania.

Balor was in last year's rather terrific IC match with The Miz and Seth Rollins, and there have been more than a few matches for this strap that have stolen the show. Needless to say, it would be a surprise were that the case with these two mismatched foes. But the promotional materials seem to indicate that Balor's "Demon King" alter ego might make an appearance at 'Mania. So we'll have that ring entrance, which is nice.

Q. And the U.S. championship?

Rey Mysterio -- yes, he's back -- is being fed to champ Samoa Joe like a chum salmon to an orca.

Also, before you ask: The WWE cruiserweight title is also on the line, as champ Buddy Murphy is minus-500 on the money line against his former training partner Tony Nese, in case you were wondering how emphatically Murphy will win this match.

Q. There seem to be some big names missing here from recent WrestleMania history. Is The Undertaker scheduled to be there?

While his face still adorns the side of WWE production trucks, and while he's appeared in a record 24 of these, The Dead Man isn't expected at this 'Mania.

Q. The Rock?

Not likely, considering "Hobbs & Shaw" doesn't come out until August.

Courtesy of WWE

Will John Cena show up to WrestleMania 35?

Q. John Cena?

There are several reports that he's expected to be in New York and have a role on the show. Some believe he'll be a surprise replacement for Corbin against Angle. But it probably involves Elias like last year, with a smashed guitar.

Q. Hulk Hogan?

Please recall that the WWE reinstated Hogan last summer after having terminated his contract, following published audio of him using racist language. He also made an appearance at the WrestleMania 36 news conference in Tampa just a month ago. Hogan is also expected to support this year's Hall of Fame class which includes Degeneration X, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, Harlem Heat, Torrie Wilson, The Hart Foundation and, most importantly, The Honky Tonk Man, baby.

Q, Triple H?

Does he still draw breath on this mortal coil? Then yes, he'll be there. And wrestling.

Q. Wrestling who?

Drax The Destroyer himself, Dave Bautista! Once in a while, wrestling does that magic thing where you're watching at home and you're stunned by a plot twist and you just mark out. Such was the moment when Ric Flair was supposed to come to the ring for a birthday celebration, no-showed, and the cameras cut to the back to find Bautista beating the snot out of him to get Triple H's attention. (Please recall all three were in the "Evolution" faction 15 years ago.)

And so we get a WrestleMania 21 rematch, with a classic setup: Bautista wanting one more match to prove he's better than Triple H, and Trips putting his "career on the line" against his former friend, despite being 49 years old and having this other career where he, like, runs a wrestling federation.

Q. So is this worth watching?

Of course. WrestleManias are like that proverb about a slice of pizza: There's no such thing as a horrible slice of pizza, because at the end of the day, it's still pizza.

Even the worst events -- we see you, WrestleMania XI -- have their virtues. And in fact, this card boasts more than a few changes for four-star matches and a main event -- the women's triple threat -- that has the potential to be one of the best in 35 years of this nonsense, because it could go one of three ways: a surprising Rousey defense, a crowd-pleasing Lynch victory, or Flair walking out with double gold. But probably "The Man" gets her WrestleMania moment and everyone goes home happy.

Related Content