WrestleMania is the WWE’s equivalent of the Super Bowl. It’s the one time every year where wrestling fans all over the world come together to celebrate their passion. Moments that last forever are made, and this year was no different. During the span of the weekend, the WWE provided the ends and beginnings to compelling stories, big debuts, emotional returns and an overall spectacle in New Orleans for each and every fan. Here are the top 10 news stories coming out of wrestling’s biggest three days of the year.
1. NXT Takeover: New Orleans steals weekend
In most of the sports world, to say a developmental team outperformed the main team goes against common sense. In the WWE, that’s exactly what happened this past weekend. NXT is WWE’s developmental brand, where young and/or newly signed talent go to get incorporated into the WWE’s system. Before every big pay-per-view, NXT has its own event the night before, which in this case was NXT Takeover: New Orleans. With only five matches on the card, each stole the show in its own way. New champions in Adam Cole, Shayna Baszler and Aleister Black were crowned in hotly contested bouts. The highlight of the night, though, goes to a grudge match between former friends Johnny Gargano and Tomasso Ciampa. The two battled for 37 minutes in easily the best match of the weekend. The storytelling of Ciampa’s ruthlessness and Gargano’s near-forgiveness of him mid-match for his actions was on point. Gargano came out on top, but people will talk about the effort of the two for years to come.
2. The heel turns
In wrestling, a heel turn is the phrase for when a good guy turns into a bad guy. That happened twice this weekend, once at Takeover and once at Wrestlemania. Roderick Strong betrayed his tag team partner Pete Dunne to help the Undisputed Era retain their NXT tag team titles, and then he joined the group post-match. After failing to capture the WWE championship from A.J. Styles, Shinsuke Nakamura presented the belt to his opponent after the match and then gave him a low blow and several stomps to the head.
3. Rousey shows well in debut match
The highly touted debut of “Rowdy” Ronda Rousey finally happened, and despite having only a few months of professional wrestling training, she showed well. Rousey and Kurt Angle took on Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, and the match turned out better than what many expected. Rousey had many back-and-forth duels with McMahon and Triple H and ultimately made the former tap out to a nasty arm bar. It was a great start to a new career for Rousey.
4. Bryan and the ‘Yes!’ movement return
After three long years of being out of the ring due to concussions, former world champion Daniel Bryan got the green light from doctors and made his return to action. The time and place were fitting, as Wrestlemania is the biggest event of the year. The last time it was at New Orleans, Bryan stood tall. This Wrestlemania was no different, as he teamed with Shane McMahon to defeat Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, banishing the latter two from Smackdown forever, per rules of the match.
5. Asuka’s streak broken
The last time Wrestlemania was at New Orleans, the Undertaker lost his undefeated ‘Mania match streak. This time around, another streak was broken. Since entering the WWE in 2015, Asuka had never lost a match. The streak of 914 days was broken at Wrestlemania, as the “Empress of Tomorrow” tapped out to SmackDown women’s champion Charlotte Flair. The crowd of more than 77,000 in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome sat in shock after the match, and time will only tell what is next for Asuka.
6. The Undertaker returns to battle Cena
In the weeks leading up to ‘Mania, John Cena repeatedly called out the Undertaker despite his supposed retirement at last year’s WrestleMania. Cena got no answer, but he once again went out to the ring on Sunday waiting on the Undertaker. Elias interrupted him and disposed of him quickly. Disappointed that Undertaker wouldn’t show up, Cena headed to the back, but then the familiar gong sound echoed across the arena to bring out “The Phenom.” The two had their dream match, and Undertaker dominated Cena in just a few minutes.
7. The 2018 hall of fame class
WrestleMania weekend is also the time to honor those who have contributed great things to the squared circle. This year’s WWE hall of fame class included Goldberg, the Dudley Boyz, Ivory, Hillbilly Jim, Jeff Jarrett and Mark Henry, among others. Each gave their acceptance speeches Friday and looked back on their illustrious careers.
8. The title changes
To go along with three new champions in NXT, six titles changed hands at the “Grandest Stage of Them All.” Seth Rollins topped Finn Balor and the Miz for the Intercontinental championship in the opening match of the main show. Cedric Alexander won the Cruiserweight championship tournament after topping Mustafa Ali. Nia Jax topped Alexa Bliss for her first championship in WWE. Jinder Mahal, the Bludgeon Brothers and Braun Strowman and a kid he picked out of the crowd (yes, you read that right) also captured gold Sunday.
9. The main event
Despite the high points of the show, WrestleMania was not all sunshine and roses. The main event of any wrestling show is typically reserved for the match fans want to see the most. The main event of WrestleMania 34 between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar for the WWE Universal championship was anything but that. At the tail end of a seven-hour show, fans were restless. Adding in that the most vocal part of the WWE audience hates the supposed good guy Roman Reigns makes it that much worse. The match was flooded with “Boring!” and “This is awful!” chants. When Lesnar finally pinned Reigns to retain the title, the crowd cheered that it was over. It was not an ideal situation for WWE to end its biggest show of the year.
10. Another Wrestlemania in the books
Wrestlemania and the events of its weekend come around only once a year, and the 34th edition of it is in the books. Over the course of a year, storylines and characters will change. Fans will forget many things about this past weekend, but the highlights will remain in their minds. People will remember the weekend of WrestleMania 34 for the nine points above, along with the spectacles of the superstar entrances, live music performances and the way one thing or another created a memory for those in attendance or watching at home.