Brock Lesnar defeated Roman Reigns in the main event at WrestleMania 34 in what proved to be a huge anti-climax to a night in which Ronda Rousey made her debut, The Undertaker returned to destroy John Cena in four minutes, Daniel Bryan once again captured the imagination of the WWE Universe and Shinsuke Nakamura performed one of the biggest heel turns in recent memory.
Three years after they first met at WrestleMania 31, Reigns and Lesnar would face-off again in the main event, this time without the threat of a Money in the Bank cash-in hanging over them as Seth Rollins did back in 2015.
But with rumours circulating that Lesnar is on his way back to the UFC – a claim made by their president Dana White this
WWE WrestleMania 34 – in pictures
Lesnar landed no fewer than eight German suplexes, six F5s and busted Reigns wide open when he removed his MMA gloves to bludgeon the head of his opponent, while Reigns hit Lesnar with four Superman punches and as many spears, only to catch a big knee to the face with a missed spear attempt. With blood pouring from the head of Reigns, Lesnar finally put Reigns away to maintain his 370-day reign as Universal champion, leaving the state of the division in limbo.
Is Lesnar really leaving the WWE, or was UFC chief White in on it all? The fact that White was ringside could easily be explained by Rousey’s debut, but it all seems a little coincidental in order to trigger a surprise finish to a fight that felt like it had already been seen three years ago.
But while the main event flattered to deceive, Rousey made a splash on her in-ring debut. Three years may not have been enough time for Lesnar and Reigns to form the chemistry they need to entertain, but Rousey certainly has that with Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, and with Raw General manager Kurt Angle by her side, the ingredients for a cracking mixed tag were there for all to see.
Rousey’s critics questioned whether she would really look like a professional wrestler in the ring, but they clearly forgot that the former UFC women’s bantamweight champion is no show pony, but a physical specimen. Not only did Rousey take the fight to McMahon in ways that left the fans stunned – a Hurricanrana and flip-through pin to lift her over her own head the main highlights – but she also hoisted Triple H up onto her shoulders in a show of strength that channelled the likes of the late Chyna and Beth Phoenix.
In the end it was Rousey who deservedly secured victory, forcing McMahon to tap-out to an armbar after Angle had seen off Triple H outside the ring.
In the other men’s title match, AJ Styles and faced off with Nakamura in a WWE Championship bout that had been billed as ‘the dream fight’, and it certainly proved an eye-catching affair as the pair knocked 10 bells out of each other. In the end, Styles had enough in the tank to avoid Nakamura’s Kinshasa attempt, roll him through and into the Styles Clash to pick up the win.
The pair had shown huge respect to each other since Nakamura won the Royal Rumble, and continued to do so after the bout as the Japanese knelt down and presented the victory with his title. But as Styles raised his belt aloft, Nakamura turned and struck Styles with a low blow, before assaulting him and landing the Kinshasa outside the ring in what was a stunning heel-turn.
Perhaps the most stunning event of the night came through John Cena and The Undertaker. That’s not to say that the return of the Deadman was a surprise, given Cena has spent the last month calling out the WrestleMania legend and, on occasion, insulting his legacy with the WWE. After Cena had to make do with the annoyance that is Elias, the lights went out, the famous gong sounded and ‘Taker’s hat, gloves and coat appeared in the ring, only to disappear when two bolts of lightning struck the ring.
Seconds later, The Phenom appeared, yet his walk to the ring nearly lasted as long as the match. Rolling out all of his classics – Old School, Snake Eyes, the Chokeslam and a final Tombstone – Undertaker despatched 16-time world champion Cena in just four minutes, leaving fans stunned, bemused and feeling shortchanged at what had occurred. Whether it is the start of a serious feud or not is uncertain, but given the emotional scenes after Undertaker’s supposed retirement at WrestleMania 33, the squash match is unlikely to be received well.
From the surreal to the sublime, Charlotte Flair once again cemented her status as the pound-for-pound Queen of the women’s division as she dealt Asuka her first defeat of her WWE career – a record that ran for more than 900 days. Putting her Smackdown Women’s Championship on the line, Charlotte, clinched victory when she managed to lock in the Figure Eight to force Asuka into submitting, and the two embraced afterwards in a warming show of respect following a WrestleMania classic.
In the other women’s title match, Alexa Bliss received her comeuppance for her unrepentant bullying of Nia Jax as the Irresistible Force tore through the Wicked Witch of the WWE. Having got rid of crony Mickie James before the match started, Jax threw former ‘friend’ Bliss around the ring like a ragdoll, and despite Bliss’ underhand efforts by repeatedly eye-gouging Jax, she clinched victory with a Samoan Drop from the second rope to win the Raw Women’s Championship for the first time.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn failed in their bid to regain their
In a brave yet foolish decision, McMahon looked to go it alone, but after eating a Hulluva Kick and a Frogsplash from Owens, Bryan rode to the rescue, trapped Zayn in the Yes Lock and forced the submission victory – leaving his and Owens’ future in serious jeopardy and triggering wild celebrations among the crowd.
The Miz attemped to defend his Intercontinental Championship admirably after sending Bo Dallas and Curtis Axel, the Miztourage, backstage in the hope that he could do it without them. Long story short, he couldn’t. But in what turned out to be a brilliant main show opener, he fought out a frantic match with Seth Rollins and Finn Balor and nearly retained the title with a Skull-Crushing Finale on the former.
But Balor would not go down without a fight, and after landing the Coup de Gras on Miz, he looked certain to snatch victory, only for his hesitation in pinning the champion allowing Rollins to hit him with a Curb Stomp to the back of Miz, before dishing out the same punishment to Miz and pinning him to claim the only remaining belt that The Architect had yet to win during his WWE career.
The Raw Tag Team titles changed hands in bizarre circumstances as The Bar were beaten by Braun Strowman and Nicholas, a 10-year-old boy picked out by the Monster Among Men before the match to be his partner. What this means for the future of the Tag Team titles is anyone’s guess.
In the other tag match, the Bludgeon Brothers walked through The Usos and The New Day to claim the Smackdown gold, while Randy Orton lost his United States Championship without being pinned as Jinder Mahal made the most of a distraction from companion Sunil Singh to pin the dominant Rusev.
On the pre-show, Cedric Alexander beat Mustafa Ali to win the Crusierweight Championship, Naomi eliminated Bayley to win the Women’s Battle Royal and Matt Hardy won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal with a helping hand from former rival Bray Wyatt.
Brock Lesnar beat Roman Reigns to retain the WWE Universal Championship
Braun Strowman and Nicholas beat The Bar to win the Raw Tag Team Titles
AJ Styles beat Shinsuke Nakamura to retain the WWE Championship
Nia Jax beat Alexa bliss to win the Raw Women’s Championship
Shane McMahon & Daniel Bryan beat Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
The Undertaker beat John Cena
The Bludgeon Brothers beat The Usos and The New Day to win the Smackdown Tag Team Titles
Ronda Rousey & Shane McMahon beat Triple H & Stephanie McMahon
Jinder Mahal beat Randy Orton, Rusev and Bobby Roode to win the United States Championship
Charlotte beat Asuka to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship
Seth Rollins beat The Miz and Finn Balor to win the Intercontinental Championship
Cedric Alexander beat Mustafa Ali to win the Cruiserweight Championship
Naomi won the 20-Woman Battle Royal
Matt Hardy won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal