Fighting

WrestleMania 34 is full of Flair, but Rousey, Nicholas steal the show

WWE announced that WrestleMania 34 on Sunday, April 8 broke the record for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s highest grossing entertainment event. WWE’s annual pop-culture extravaganza grossed $14.1 million, surpassing the venue’s previous record of $10.9 million set by WrestleMania 30 in 2014, as a sold-out crowd of 78,133 fans from all 50 states and 67 countries converged on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.
WWE announced that WrestleMania 34 on Sunday, April 8 broke the record for the Mercedes-Benz Superdome’s highest grossing entertainment event. WWE’s annual pop-culture extravaganza grossed $14.1 million, surpassing the venue’s previous record of $10.9 million set by WrestleMania 30 in 2014, as a sold-out crowd of 78,133 fans from all 50 states and 67 countries converged on the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Photo Courtesy WWE

UFC President Dana White wore a big smile on his face as it was a great night for former UFC champs and Nicholas during WWE’s WrestleMania 34 on Sunday from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans.

Happy is watching WWE’s scripted drama. Unhappy is dealing with Conor McGregor’s real-life type.

Before a sold-out crowd of more than 75,000 (including White), former UFC champ Rowdy Ronda Rousey made her WWE wrestling debut, teaming with the Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle against the husband and wife power couple Paul “Triple H” Levesque and Stephanie McMahon.

The crowd (and White) very much into this one.

Rousey, the baddest woman on the planet, proved her credibility and believability with her efforts in the ring. She took it to Stephanie McMahon and Triple H. Not since Chyna has a woman in WWE made this kind of impact against women and men. Fans buy into that she can handle herself against any male counterpart.

Rousey made Stephanie tap out to end the match. A little slow on a couple of the saves but Stephanie did a good job, working with two elite athletes.

It marked one of the best debuts by an established pro athlete or celebrity in pro wrestling history. In my mind, top two, along with former NFL running back DeAngelo Williams last year with Impact Wrestling. They looked like they belonged.

Rousey wasn’t the only one making a WWE match debut at the Super Bowl of sports entertainment/pro wrestling.

Nicholas, a 10-year-old, was selected from the Superdome audience by Braun Strowman to be his tag team partner. A lot of talk on social media about this one.

According to several reports, Nicholas is the son of WWE referee John Cone. Business is about to pick up at Donut King in Kansas City. Does this make Nicholas the Donut Prince of Kansas City?

Froman, I mean Strowman and Nicholas defeated Sheamus and Cesaro for the Raw tag team titles. Nicholas became the youngest WWE champion. Sorry Rene Dupree.

Nicholas is a good kid. Needs some work on his mic skills.

That’s where WWE Warrior Award recipient Jarrius JJ Robertson has an advantage.

Interesting, Cone was the referee for his son’s big tag match.

Did Scott Armstrong ever referee a Brad Armstrong or Road Dogg Jesse James match?

Sheamus and Cesaro should file a protest to the Louisiana State Athletic Commission based on nepotism.

In the main event, no nepotism concerns. Former UFC champ Brock Lesnar with The Advocate Paul Heyman successfully defended his WWE Universal Title by beating a bloody Roman Reigns.

With his contract expiring, does the victory mean Lesnar will remain with WWE, or will Lesnar leave the company as champion? Raw (8 p.m. USA Network) is always exciting the night after Mania, but the Lesnar situation makes it even better.

Heyman and White previously noted Lesnar will fight again for UFC. In Lesnar’s last fight for UFC, he was under contract with WWE, and they worked it out. Hey, White was at WrestleMania. Does this mean White is eligible for the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame?

It’s about time an actual WWE Hall of Fame facility is built, and the vacation capital Orlando would make a nice home.

The Queen of Today Charlotte Flair handed the Empress of Tomorrow Asuka her first loss. Flair is the right person for that job, getting Asuka to do her first job in WWE. A bloody-armed Flair, the WWE SmackDown Women’s champ, used the figure eight leglock to make Asuka submit.

After the match, Asuka congratulated Flair, and they hugged. Respect is nice, but I’d rather stay old school on this one. Thank U Shinsuke. I’ll get to that later.

An elaborate entrance for the Queen, flanked by her guards. Funny, how this works. WrestleMania 30 at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, Charlotte was an extra (undercover), helping lead Triple H to the ring. Her return to New Orleans, now she’s one of the top stars on the WrestleMania card.

Wonder which WWE developmental talent portrayed Charlotte’s guards for a WrestleMania moment as extras like Charlotte? Will they be on the card when WrestleMania returns to New Orleans in the future?

Charlotte wants to main event a WrestleMania. Book her against Ronda Rousey at WrestleMania 36, and she could very well get her wish.

What a way to open the main show, Seth Rollins pinned The Miz (in a three-way battle with Finn Bálor, too) to win the WWE Intercontinental Title. New dad Miz looked sharp in the red and gold. No make-up for Balor, but he did have a group with him for his entrance to promote inclusion.

Here we go. I loved how the A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura match ended with Nakamura shocking the WWE Universe.

Styles, the WWE champ, beat Nakamura in a stellar match. After the battle, they hugged (like Flair and Asuka). Then Nakamura knelt and presented the belt to Styles. Nakamura followed by delivering a low blow, and the crowd gasped. Great moment. Nakamura later kneed Styles outside the ring. This sets up a wild rematch for SmackDown Live or another pay-per-view.

Daniel Bryan returned with the “Yes” movement in finger-pointing mode while chanting loudly. Bryan and Shane McMahon teamed to defeat two of the best on the WWE roster, Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn, meaning Owens and Zayn are still unemployed. Boys, there’s always Ring of Honor.

Too much diverticulosis talk for me in this one. I’m not a doctor, nor play one on TV, but take some Pepto and don’t call me in the morning. Glad to see Bryan doing what he loves, but I just hope he doesn’t return to full-time action. Smartly pick your spots. He is a husband and a dad. He has others to think about.

John Cena, seated front row as a fan (like he said), ran to the back, when a WWE referee alerted him of something.

Cena appeared later, ready to wrestle. The lights dimmed...and then...Underta....No...Elias with his guitar.

Elias started singing and playing guitar, ripping Cena and the crowd. Cena destroyed Elias. The lights went out again. A spotlight in the middle of the ring displayed Undertaker’s hat and folded jacket (ala the ending to WrestleMania 33 Orlando). A lightning bolt struck, and the hat and jacket disappeared. Thank U WWE creative for acknowledging last year’s Undertaker’s exit.

Then Undertaker entered the stadium. The Deadman was alive with long black hair.

Undertaker went old school off the top rope. Cena impressed lifting dead weight. Good idea for a short match with Undertaker. He lost to Lesnar at WrestleMania 30 in this same building in New Orleans, and now he beat Cena at his WrestleMania New Orleans return. Undertaker looked good, better than last year. He dropped some weight and grew out his hair (the back portion). I know the feeling.

Nia Jax won the WWE Raw Women’s Title beating BFF Alexa Bliss with Mickie James. Great facials by Bliss. She took a beating. A force for sure, Jax is a WWE powerhouse. Who will stop her? Who can stop her?

The Bludgeon Brothers (Harper and Rowan) won the WWE SmackDown tag titles over the The Usos (Jey and Jimmy Uso) and The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods). Nice moment for the Bludgeons. Woods is a cosplayer, but the Bludgeons would be great at comic cons, too.

It was Jinder Day. India’s second favorite son, Jinder Mahal, won the U.S. title in a fourway with Randy Orton, Bobby Roode and Rusev.

In the second hour of the pre-show, Naomi won the inaugural WrestleMania Women's Battle Royal. Bayley was the runner-up. WWE talent Paige and WWE Hall of Famer Beth Phoenix joined the broadcast team for the historic battle royal. Carmella is also in the record books as the first eliminated, with Sonya Deville finishing the honors.

In an action packed battle, Cedric Alexander beat Mustafa Ali for the vacant WWE Cruiserweight Title during the second hour of the pre-show. Nigel McGuinness and Vic Joseph were on commentary, and 205 Live General Manager Drake Maverick (Impact Wrestling alum Rockstar Spusd) presented the belt to Alexander. Congrats Cedric and Aerial.

In the first hour of the pre-show, Woken Matt Hardy (with the surprise assist to Bray Wyatt) won the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The 2016 winner Baron Corbin was runner-up. Wyatt celebrated with Hardy afterward.

During the main show, The WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2018 -- featuring Bill Goldberg, The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von), Jeff Jarrett, Mark Henry, Ivory, Hillbilly Jim, Kid Rock (Celebrity) and Jarrius JJ Robertson (Warrior Award) -- stood atop the rampway in front of the TitanTron. Jarrett strutted. Love it. Plenty of smoke and sparklers for Goldberg, who showed off his WWE Hall of Fame ring. No Gilberg sighting.

Kudos to color commentator Corey Graves, who basically worked the entire show on mic, since he is a broadcaster for Raw and SmackDown. Speaking of color, nice dressed duds by Graves. Who ya wearing?

The pre-show started at 5 p.m. ET. The main show began at 7 p.m. ET and ended around Midnight.

Hats off to WWE for seven hours of sports entertainment/pro wrestling on the grandest stage of them all.

Plenty of popcorn, for sure.

WrestleMania Week

WrestleMania is a week-long celebration, which includes the 2018 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony; NXT TakeOver; Monday Night Raw (Monday); and SmackDown Live (Tuesday) all at Smoothie King Center in New Orleans.

Next year, WrestleMania 35 will be in New York/New Jersey.

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