WWE fans get what they want

Seth Rollins, Kofi Kingston and Becky Lynch all crowned new champs at WrestleMania

Tyler Job, Sports Editor

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With a crowd of 82,265 packed into MetLife Stadium just outside of New York City, the majority of the WWE Universe got what it wanted at WrestleMania 35 April 7.

Seth Rollins, Kofi Kingston and Becky Lynch all claimed the company’s top championships at “The Grandest Stage of Them All,” thus changing WWE’s direction in a much different way.

“I am usually very excited for big wrestling shows and especially WrestleMania, but this one felt different,” First Round KO podcast host Kyle Olson said. “It was hard not to be excited.”

Rollins, Kingston and Lynch are currently all of WWE’s top babyfaces [heroes], and all three were cheered when they won their respective championships.

Going into WrestleMania, Rollins was so adamant about taking the Universal Championship [Monday Night Raw’s world title] from Brock Lesnar that he started calling himself the “Beastslayer.” Lesnar for the past couple of years has not been well-liked by the fans due to his lack of TV appearances as Universal Champion.

That all changed when Rollins in the opening match used three of his curb stomp finishers to finally dethrone Lesnar and officially become the “Beastslayer.” For the first time since November of last year, Monday Night Raw will see a full-time world champ.

“I’m obviously jacked that Seth is champion but I’d say I’m happier that Brock isn’t champ anymore because I saw it as more of a formality that Seth would get back on top again eventually,” senior journalism student and WWE fan Eric Bauer said.

Arguably the best written story heading into WrestleMania was Kofi Kingston’s journey to earning a WWE Championship match. Kingston has been performing full-time for WWE since 2008 and never received a WWE title opportunity until the day of “The Show of Shows.”

Kingston originally was a fill-in spot for Mustafa Ali at the Elimination Chamber pay-per-view in February, but the WWE Universe suddenly got behind him. Kingston lost in that match, but the crowd’s support for him increased week by week.

“The way the crowd got behind him over the last two months was nothing short of amazing,” Olson said.

Kingston busted his tail off every week to try and get a shot, but Chairman Vince McMahon constantly refused to put him in such a high-profile match. He eventually got his shot after his partners from The New Day, Big E and Xavier Woods, won a tag-team gauntlet match – The New Day beat five other tag teams in a row – two weeks prior to WrestleMania.

The WWE Universe went wild after seeing Kingston finally capture his first-ever WWE Championship over Daniel Bryan, and in the process became the first-ever African-American WWE Champion.

This year’s WrestleMania was the first time ever women headlined the show, and it featured Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey competing in a Winner Take All triple threat match for the Raw and SmackDown Women’s Championships. Rousey headlined as the Raw Women’s Champion, while Flair headlined as the SmackDown Women’s Champion.

The lead-up to this match was brewing since November when Lynch, who was originally supposed to face Rousey in a Champion vs. Champion match at the Survivor Series event, suffered a concussion. Lynch was replaced by Flair, and Flair turned heel [villain] in her match against Rousey.

The fans were heavily behind Lynch before she got hurt, and they did not shy away when she was healthy to perform again.

Lynch eventually dropped the SmackDown women’s title but won the women’s Royal Rumble match in January to earn a shot at Rousey despite getting her left knee “injured” by Flair.

Then, the McMahons got involved by “suspending” Lynch for 60 days and replacing her with Flair [Lynch never actually got suspended].

Lynch eventually fought her way back into the title picture by defeating Flair by disqualification at the Fastlane event last month, thus setting up the triple threat.

The ending of the triple threat itself saw Lynch counter Rousey’s “Piper’s Pit” signature move into a modified roll-up for the three count, handing Rousey her first-ever loss in WWE. The crowd, which was already at MetLife Stadium for seven hours, did not erupt as loud for Lynch compared to Rollins’ and Kingston’s wins earlier.

“They got the winner right with Becky Lynch winning both titles,” Olson said. “But the finish to the match was very flat and in no way should have been the finish to a WrestleMania main event…All they had to do was simply have Becky pin Ronda after a big spot.”

In addition to three new top champions, Roman Reigns performed in his first singles match since being re-diagnosed with leukemia in October by defeating Drew McIntyre. Reigns, who is the face of the company, has been receiving more cheers than ever since coming back despite being very polarizing for most of his career.

“I do think he is a great wrestler and him coming back after a second fight with leukemia is an incredible story,” Olson said. “I really want to like the character now and I hope WWE does it right this time.”

WWE’s former face and current actor John Cena returned for a one-off appearance in his Doctor of Thuganomics persona by spoiling Elias’ WrestleMania concert segment and laying him out with his Attitude Adjustment finisher. Before becoming the company’s biggest star for a decade, Cena from about 2003-2005 rose to the top as a rapper, and frequently trash-talked and battle rapped his opponents in his promos.

“I definitely enjoyed it,” Bauer said. “Every time he’s brought back the Doctor of Thuganomics it’s made me laugh just because he’s changed so much since that was his normal gimmick. Seeing him do it is kind of goofy but I think he killed it…Overall is was a big surprise for me.”

With all of the new champions crowned and a few more WrestleMania moments added to an already stacked list, WrestleMania 35 is now history. With fans in attendance and those watching globally to a seven-hour long show, it’s safe to say they were satisfied with the outcomes.