Good ol’ “Cowboy” Bob has long been a proponent of the women’s revolution in WWE. Sure, it’s half-PR bullshit. But “Cowboy” grew up in the Attitude Era. He lived through Torrie Wilson and The Kat title reigns. The Bob routinely watched Raw in a world where Evening Gown matches were a perfectly normal match stipulation. Was I complaining? Of course not. “Oh no! Bikini models getting their clothes ripped off! Somebody wake me from this nightmare!”
But then feminists came along and, like everything in life, ruined that for us. So we had to settle for shitty bikini models and former football cheerleaders rolling around the mat for shitty finishes.
Trish Stratus and Lita then had a nice run at the top. So as far as actual workrate, both would probably be in the middle of the pack as far as today’s roster. Still, Trish Stratus is Hall of Fame Hottie Royalty.
Eventually, Paige came along and showed us that a gorgeous woman could work a real wrestling match. She was way ahead of her time, as she still had to deal with the “Divas” era of wrestlers who were never quite on her level (though I defend Nikki Bella to the death and contend she was building a fun, strong-style of wrestling until her career-ending injury).
Then came Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Bayley and Becky Lynch.
The term “revolution” was not hyperbole. These women truly did change the entire game of female wrestling from mere eye candy to elite performances.
While “Cowboy” Bob makes no bones about mentioning how hot the women are, he also respects these performers sincerely. Although I do love the idea that you have a woman like Charlotte Flair, a gorgeous female in peak physical condition heading to the ring in skimpy spandex, doing a split in the ring and lowering her neck to show off her heaving cleavage and you’re suddenly an abusive husband in the 1950’s if you admire the view. If you’re a heterosexual man and don’t find this attractive, maybe reassess your own sexuality before attacking good ol’ red-blooded American “Cowboy” instead.
While Charlotte and Sasha especially redefined what a women’s match should be, there was something missing. Something that wasn’t quite there to put them over the top.
Even in 2016, at the peak of the excitement (“Holy fuck these women can WRESTLE”), the idea of women headlining Wrestlemania was laughable.
In steps Ronda Rousey.
Fresh off getting the ever-loving shit beaten out of her by Amanda Nunes in UFC, Ronda said “fuck this noise” and transitioned to fake fighting. In her first match, at Wrestlemania 34, tagging with Kurt Angle in an expertly-worked tag match against Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, it was immediately apparent. She was a goldmine.
Some people just take to this instantly. The Kurt Angle comparisons are a cliche, but perfect. Just a natural athlete who is able to tell a story with their body in the ring.
As Wrestlemania 35 approached, with good ol’ “Cowboy” Bob himself in attendance at Metlife Stadium, this main event felt right. It wasn’t a PR stunt. It wasn’t mUh WoMyNz RiGhTzZz bullshit. I would have been the first person jumping up and down saying that this was virtue-signalling crap. It wasn’t.
This was the best match on the card. It had the two best women on the roster (Ronda and Charlotte) with Becky put in there because she worked the internet crowd. Hey, good for her. The woman goes from Mania 34 pre-show to Mania 35 main event. Very impressive. Becky absolutely deserved the spot.
I had no doubts that this was going to be an epic Wrestlemania main event. The right performers, the right stars, the right moment.
Much like that time in Atlantic City when I won a poker tournament and thought it would be a good idea to buy a Roboraptor, “Cowboy” Bob was wrong.
“Cowboy” Bob Re-watches Ronda Rousey (c) vs Charlotte Flair (c) vs Becky Lynch at Wrestlemania XXXV – Winner Takes All
Going into this, I have stated before that the main problem here is this entire thing peaked back in December. We were all, “Cowboy” Bob included, rabid for a Ronda vs Becky face-off.
I’m torn on how they proceeded. I see both sides. On one hand, I believe Ronda Rousey vs Becky Lynch one-on-one was the appropriate, definitive resolution we all needed. On the other hand, this is fucking Wrestlemania. 80,000 people in Metlife Stadium. You have a rookie in Ronda Rousey, arguably the best rookie in company history, but still a rookie, facing a very capable performer in Becky Lynch, but still a woman who hasn’t been thrusted into this spotlight before the past 6 months.
I understand adding Charlotte Flair into the match. First of all, she is the star of the show. She should be in this match. But second of all, if you want to be extra, extra, super-duper sure of somebody saving a match in case there’s a major botch or somebody totally freezes up, you might as well have your best performer in there. It couldn’t hurt.
Also, this is the first time I am properly watching this match. I watched from the stands of Metlife Stadium after sitting through the fucking North Korean gulag which is 8 hours of wrestling outdoors, and didn’t get the commentary or the proper camera angles. So let’s see how I feel on second viewing.
- So we start off with the super fucking cool, mysterious intro video of Charlotte Flair in the helicopter, headed to Metlife Stadium.
- You know what the problem with this is? As somebody there live, everybody was excited, wondering if she was actually in a helicopter and would land on that roof above the ring. When she didn’t, it was already a big disappointment before the match even started.
- It really should be stated how incredible Joan Jett sounds live here performing “Bad Reputation” for Ronda. I was expecting something slightly on the scale of cringe. Woman is 60 years old and sounded fantastic. Good for her.
- Normally I’d say it’s blasphemy for the champ to enter first, but here it made sense. You need Ronda and Charlotte to have over-the-top, elaborate entrances to show how they are the “company women” and Becky to have a fairly modest entrance to show she was the “people’s choice”. It’s very clever.
- If you show a person with no WWE knowledge this match, I guarantee you they would instantly know Charlotte Flair is the star. WWE is not stupid. You would say the same thing about Roman Reigns for the men.
- One element against the women is the absurdly ridiculous slog that these events are now. Look. I love pizza. But if you gave me a slice of pizza every hour for 8 hours I’d want to kill myself by hour 8 as I forced myself to guzzle down that 8th delicious slice.
- I really believe the “split Wrestlemania between two days” idea thrown around is a good one. For example, this year, you could’ve ended “Day 1” with Kofi vs Daniel Bryan, then you get a fresh crowd for the women on Day 2.
- Rough botch right off the bat with Ronda’s kicks. Though “super stiff UFC bitch” Ronda is best Ronda.
- Awesome Piper’s Pit to Charlotte on the floor.
- Credit where it’s due, great stiff sequence outside the ring to start.
- BRUTAL fucking moment as Ronda is hanging over the ropes and Becky kicks her, leaving her to fall almost right on her head to the floor. I love the idea of going balls-out for Mania, but that was dangerous. I respect it.
- Becky catches the gorgeous Charlotte moonsault and goes for the Disarm-Her, as Rousey jumps in and tries her own armbar.
- Double Natural Selection looked a bit botchy.
- I still have no idea how we didn’t get the work of art that is the Charlotte corkscrew off the top turnbuckle in this. This is Wrestlemania, for Christ’s sake!
- Ronda asking for more chops from Charlotte is a fun little sequence. “You chop like a bitch!” Some say Ronda talks too much in matches, and sometimes it’s true, but it can also work.
- Botchy kick from Ronda after.
- Top rope Bex-sploder is nicely done.
- This match is definitely so far better than it was at hour 8 in the New Jersey swamp air live.
- Charlotte and Becky with a triple powerbomb that for some reason doesn’t come off as well as it should. They are clearly exhausted and struggled lifting her 3 times. But “Cowboy” Bob loves unlikely partnerships in triple threats!
- Big pop for Disarm-Her in the middle of the ring. It’s almost like the crowd wanted a definitive finish to the Wrestlemania main event.
- Man that Charlotte Spanish Fly is fucking beautiful. All hail The Queen.
- Hanging figure 4 on the post. Always a winner.
- Charlotte bridges for the Figure Eight, which is built as one of the most protected finishers in our entire legitimate sport, and Becky thankfully hits her top rope legdrop fast enough to keep it protected.
- For the record, I think besides Figure Eight and Ronda Armbar, weirdly Baron Corbin’s End of Days is the most protected finisher in WWE.
- Table is introduced, which is very dangerous in women’s matches. I feel like they aren’t sure how much to pre-cut the tables. There was a truly embarrassing botch, I think at Hell In a Cell in 2016, where Charlotte broke one just by stepping on it. And half the time the women’s weight isn’t enough to break them.
- Oh man. Ronda: “You guys want tables? Yeah?” Flips over the tables. “Tables are for bitches! That’s why you want tables!” Now that’s a fucking heel. Bravo.
- Charlotte charges Becky and Ronda, who double hiptoss her into the table. Which barely dents in an unbelievable disappointment. If this was truly the only table moment in the match, I wish they prepared beforehand to try another spot. I sat here, again, for 8 fucking hours. I want to see somebody go through a table.
- With Charlotte taken out, Ronda and Becky slowly circle each other. You can hear the crowd start to buzz. The match we all wanted since November. They both should’ve milked it more, playing to the crowd until they roared.
- Then, only about 60 seconds later, Ronda struggles to get Becky up for the Piper’s Pit, as Becky rolls her up for the lame, botched pin.
- Ronda’s shoulders clearly go up, and the dumbass ref counted anyway. There were rumors that the ref got fined for this, and I can’t blame WWE. The whole thing comes off as unbelievably fake if you just simply count 3 for the obvious planned finish when it clearly was not legitimate.
- You know it’s a fucked up finish when WWE has to acknowledge the shoulders were not down.
- So instead of commentary celebrating Becky’s historic win, you need to have these guys debate what we just saw. What an awful, terrible, inconclusive finish to your flagship show.
A Good Match That Should’ve Been Great
I recently watched Once Upon a Time in Hollywood. Now, admittedly, I am an enormous Quentin Tarantino mark. It was a very good film the whole way. However, it is very deliberately slow-paced, to the point that you wondered where the fuck this was going. The final twenty minutes are an absolute masterclass. You leave the theater with a delicious taste in your mouth. A great ending goes a very, very long way.
This match was the opposite.
It’s a good match. Don’t get me wrong. These women put their asses on the line and put on a brutal, hard-hitting contest. It’s not Hogan vs King Kong Bundy at Wrestlemania II here. But this “good” match should’ve been a 4.5-5.00 Bobs all-out classic. And the most frustrating part is that it easily could get there. You take the exact match we just saw, but add in these elements:
- Throw in a Charlotte off the top turnbuckle corkscrew moonsault to the outside. This is the first ever women’s main event in Wrestlemania history. What the fuck are you holding this back for?
- Come up with a better, more epic way to get Charlotte out of the way at the end. A monstrous announce table spot to make her definitively knocked out. Then, both Becky and Ronda roll into the ring and we finally, after all this waiting, have the epic fucking clash we wanted at Survivor Series. Give these two about 10-15 minutes to absolutely tear up the place by themselves.
- The match ends with Becky tapping out Ronda clean as can fucking be in the middle of the ring. Again, this is Wrestlemania, motherfuckers. Ronda Rousey is leaving for a year or more to get preggo. What are you protecting her for??? Have your new star tap her out. Get all the prestige from it. And then in a year or so, reap in the benefits when “Bad Reputation” hits and a pissed off Ronda Ronda is back to re-claim her title. This isn’t hard. Many times when Vince books something that seems incredibly dumb, I can see the logic, at the least. I see no logic whatsoever in booking this finish. Let’s say it got pulled off without a hitch and the ref doesn’t fuck up the count, it’s still a flukey roll-up to win the most important women’s match in the history of professional wrestling. That’s absurd.
It’s a real shame. The performers were game. The timing was right. And it just wasn’t allowed to happen.
The referee wasn’t the only dope who botched at Metlife Stadium that night. The bookers did as well.