Thanks to Dan Yanofsky for this live report from WWE’s show in Manhattan last night (Fri., Mar. 16)!
After announcing their return to the NY/NJ area for WrestleMania 35, WWE continued their momentum with a Road to WrestleMania tour at Madison Square Garden on Friday night. While the show wasn’t entirely sold out, the place was rocking.
Before the actual wrestling began, fans were asked to participate in a poll to see what classic WrestleMania match they would want to watch highlights of. Shawn Michaels v. Kurt Angle from WrestleMania 21 won over The Ultimate Warrior v. “Macho Man” Randy Savage at WrestleMania 7 and Sasha Banks v. Becky Lynch v. Charlotte at WrestleMania 32.
A.J. Styles and Shinsuke Nakamura v. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn officially started the night. As Owens’ music hit, he and Zayn attacked the champion and the men’s Royal Rumble winner from behind. They injured A.J. enough for him to be sent to the back. The match turned into a singles bout between Owens and Nakamura that ended via DQ when Sami interfered. A.J. returned from the back to save Nakamura. The two stared each other down before going backstage.
The next match was what may be a preview of the Cruiserweight Championship Tournament final in Drew Gulak v. Cedric Alexander. The two were able to get their stuff in before Alexander won with a Lumbar Check.
Asuka v. Mandy Rose (who was only accompanied by Paige) was next. Asuka was the most over person at The Garden. At one point, Asuka gave Mandy the stinkface. The Empress won via submission.
Bray Wyatt defeated Matt Hardy with Sister Abigail. It was a small preview for their encounter at The Hardy Compound. If you’ve seen one Hardy/Wyatt match, you’ve seen them all.
The Bar retained the Raw Tag Team Titles in a Fatal Four-Way against Gallows and Anderson, Titus Worldwide and The New Day. New Day had a giant box of Booty O’s appear on stage during their entrance. The Bar retained after hitting their White Noise/diving neckbreaker move on Kofi. After, The Club called New Day nerds before the latter wiped out The Good Brothers.
Before intermission, the Universal Title was on the line, as Brock Lesnar defended against Braun Strowman and Kane. Strowman dominated the contest, hitting multiple running powerslams. Lesnar introduced a chair into the match to take out Strowman. Kane chokeslammed Lesnar, but as he was looking for the Tombstone, Lesnar countered into an F5 for the win.
After the match, The Bar attacked Strowman. The two attempted to put him through a table, but Braun fought back by himself and ended up putting Cesaro through it.
After a brief intermission, Alexa Bliss (accompanied by Mickie James) defended the Raw Women’s Title against Bayley and Sasha Banks. Tension increased between Bayley and Banks, as the two were yelling and shoving one another around throughout the contest. At one point, Sasha hit Bayley with a 619. Bliss ended up winning the match via rollup. After, Nia Jax came out to confront her. Alexa tried to avoid a confrontation, blaming Mickie at one point. When she asked for a hug, Nia first agreed, before trapping the champion with a bear hug.
Next up was Elias, accompanied by Sonya Deville. She ended up replacing Bayley in the match. After a brief concert, John Cena and Nikki Bella came out. Sonya had an impressive outing, and at one point knocked Cena out with a punch. Her strong MMA background was heavily utilized here. Cena and Nikki ended up winning after performing duel Five Knuckle Shuffles, followed by an AA to Elias and a Rack Attack 2.0 to Sonya.
Before the main event, WWE announced that they would return to MSG on July 7. It will be the Road to SummerSlam tour. They stated Ronda Rousey would appear and actually wrestle at the event.
The main event featured The Miz and The Miztourage v. Finn Balor, Seth Rollins and Roman Reigns.
In honor of the date (3/16), Rollins performed a few classic “Stone Cold” Steve Austin moves when facing Bo. The faces controlled the first half before the heels took over. Balor played the face in peril before hitting the hot tag to Seth. Before long, Rollins would play the same role before making the tag to Roman.
The match and the night ended when Roman avoided an attempted Shield Bomb by The Miztourage. Seth hit the Curb Stop, Finn hit the Coup de Grace and Roman hit the Spear on Bo to get the win.
Overall, a solid show leading up to WrestleMania 34.
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