The biggest event of wrestle-fans’ year, Wrestlemania, has come and gone. We made quite a few predictions on our most recent episode of Women Wrestling Friends Podcast. Surprisingly, we were mostly correct, though not always for the right reasons.
Longtime fans of WWE know that Vince McMahon has a habit of “swerving” fans at the last minute, seemingly just to be unpredictable. So while it may seem like a no-brainer that so many fans got what they wanted this year, considering the show is scripted, you might be surprised to learn how often the company poo-poos on our hopes, wishes, and dreams.
Instead of running down a seven-hour show (I actually have no idea how long it was, it felt like a million years), I’m just going to talk about a few high points and low points of the show.
Kofi Kingston is a black man with amazing athletic ability who has been wrestling for eleven years, and yet for all intents and purposes appeared to be constantly underrated by the people at WWE. Despite being able to fly through the air and entertain crowds with the greatest of ease, he seemed relegated to being the funny friend in a group of funny friends for the rest of his wrestling career. So when he was put in as a last-minute replacement for an injured Mustafa Ali, fans screamed with all their might to make their voices heard: give Kofi a chance! What followed was several weeks of seemingly insurmountable odds that Kofi and his teammates, The New Day, competed through to get Kofi the chance to wrestle for the most important championship in the company on the most important show of the company. It was kind of a big deal.
His victory brought everyone at the party we were at (and judging from reaction videos, parties all over the world) to their feet. I had to look away when he held up his sons because I was definitely going to cry in front of everyone. It was a wonderful, positive representation of a black man in wrestling, surrounded by his loving friends and his family. I hope we get to see it even more.
There were so many swerve-alicious possibilities for the three-way women’s match to determine the Raw and Smackdown women’s champions. Charlotte has always received the biggest push at the company, in part because of her name (Charlotte Flair is the daughter of Ric Flair, one of the wrestling greats) but also due to her solid work and great charisma. Ronda is there because she is a name that non-WWE fans know and she has done surprisingly well for someone so new, though her real-life personality makes it difficult to actually “like” her. There was even a rumor swirling around that she refused to be submitted by Becky because of their supposed real-life heat (animosity).
Fans were anxious to see if the WWE really trusted Becky (the fan favorite) to defeat the company favorite and the mega-star. When Becky won with a roll-up pin in which Ronda’s shoulder was up, it added even more confusion to the mix. Did the referee mess up? Did Ronda instinctively lift her shoulders on accident? Did the WWE purposefully swerve RONDA into thinking she would not have to lose to Becky, thereby leaving her defenseless when the betrayal occurred? The possibilities are endless.
But at the end of the day, regardless of how it happened, Tamara and I were overjoyed to see The Man get the victory. She is a true people’s champ, fighting her way through WWE’s love of blondes and big names to win our hearts and her two belts.
John Cena Thuggin’
My deepest wish is that someone had filmed Tamara and I’s reaction to this segment. It was surprising, funny, painful, embarrassing, horrible, and wonderful all at the same time. No one wants to see a middle-aged white man come out appropriating thug black culture, in a jersey for a city he should vehemently hate, as a former rising star is jobbed out to him. It was just all so horrifying and yet strangely, as I groaned and hid my face and cried out “why God why,” I couldn’t help but chuckle at his jokes and wonder if this was Vince’s blood price for Kofi getting to win the title.
Are we witnessing the most glorious mid-life crisis of all time? Or returning to the old tired-but-true trope that white wrestling fans absolutely love white wrestlers appropriating black culture (ie, Enzo, Carmella, etc) to seem cool? I don’t have the answers, I’m just here in the crazy boat with all of the rest of you.
Things I loved:
- Beth Phoenix and Nattie having matching gear was so awesome!
- Lashley’s yellow contacts somehow ACTUALLY added more character to his facial expressions and I love it.
- Batista getting his nose ring ripped out was some old school carny stuff that I am here for.
- Brock Lesnar losing.
Things I hated:
- They probably did it because he was injured, but I hated seeing Rey Mysterio get squashed like that.
- Kurt having to wrestle Corbin, period, was strange and lackluster. I understand the retiring wrestler losing, but nobody likes or cares about Corbin — why do they keep circling back to this Applebee’s manager looking dude?
- The Women’s Rumble was terrible in my opinion and they need to re-think having eliminations be over the top rope if that lazy, clearly self-propelled hop over is going to be the way they do it. Maybe lower the ropes? Cuz that was just a garbage fire.
- Raw and Smackdown Women’s Championship — Becky
- Universal Championship — Seth Rollins
- WWE Championship — Kofi Kingston
- Intercontinental Championship — Finn Balor
- United States Championship — Samoa Joe
Women’s Tag Team Championship — Sasha Banks & Bayley Cruiserweight Championship — Buddy Murphy
- Roman Reigns
- AJ Styles
- Usos retain