It’s styled as the grandest stage of them all and the showcase of immortals.
And millions of wrestling fans around the world will be tuning in this weekend as the 35th WrestleMania takes place in New Jersey’s Met-Life Stadium.
On Sunday night, WWE’s top stars will battle it out in the annual wrestling extravaganza and there’s plenty of thrills, shocks and sports entertainment to bask in.
Here’s all you need to know…
When’s it on?
For UK fans, it’s going to be an all-nighter. The pre-show is slated to start at 10pm on the WWE Network, with the main show staring at 12pm.
Those who have a day off on Monday have the right idea, with the finish time likely to be around 5 – 5:30am.
But with a great line-up of matches, it’s looking like it’s well worth it, and many pubs and bars across the country will be holding their own watchalong parties.
Whet your appetite
As ever for the big five WWE pay-per-views, a tasty warm-up is in store with Friday night’s NXT Takeover.
On most occasions, the developmental brand steals the show with stunning matches between sports entertainment’s rising stars. If you want bouts rich in technical skill and storytelling, you won’t find many better places than this.
Takeover New York’s highlights include a tag team championship match between the War Raiders and thrown together team of high-flyer Ricochet and Dutch destroyer Aleister Black.
Top talents from around the world snapped up by WWE including Japanese star Io Sharai and ex-MMA fighters Shayna Baszler and Matt Riddle will also be on show.
The NXT UK title match will see Birmingham’s Pete Dunne take on his toughest opponent yet in Austrian giant WALTER.
And the main event, which is bound to be a good one, sees Johnny Gargano (who never has a bad match) take on Undisputed Era leader Adam Cole for the NXT title, vacated by Gargano’s friend turned bitter rival Tomasso Ciampa.
Kicking things off on Sunday
On Sunday it’s on to WrestleMania itself. As well as pre-show thoughts from legends, pundits and competing superstars as they warm up, there are several matches planned to warm the crowd up as they filter into the stadium.
The women of Smackdown are right to feel aggrieved that they’ve been relegated to the pre-show battle royale after Charlotte’s shock title win last week, but these are always fun affairs.
Asuka, the victim of the surprise title change last week, is likely to have a strong showing and look out for some NXT stars making the step up.
The men’s version, the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale, could be an interesting watch as well, with everyone who’s not doing anything else chucked into the path of Braun Strowman, plus two Saturday Night Live stars (for some reason). Maybe John Oliver will be thrown into the mix too following his expose of WWE earlier this week.
The cruiserweight title will also be on the line between Buddy Murphy and Tony Nese. These two can tear the house down with their in-ring talent but probably won’t get too long to mix it up. It’s bound to be full of flips, counters, jaw-dropping moves and things that make you go “wow”.
Tag team titles are on the line too for both Raw and SmackDown and at least one of these matches is likely to be on the kick-off show.
The Revival, one of the best tag teams around, are finally getting to show what they can do as Raw’s champs but the division has been something of an afterthought for several months.
Facing them are Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins, the latter of which is on a losing streak of over 200 matches. His last victory was, in fact, in a SmackDown episode taped in Glasgow. Will he finally put that to an end? For the dignity of The Revival, you’d hope not, but it would be a nice moment.
On the blue brand, The Usos put their titles on the line against The Bar, Rusev & Shinsuke Nakamura and Ricochet and Aleister Black (who could be NXT tag champs at this point). With all the talent involved (and could the Hardys be added?), this should be good, with twins Jimmy and Jey likely to retain.
A Scot takes on a Roman
For those watching on these shores, the main card features some pretty big Scottish involvement.
In what should be a bruising encounter, Ayr’s own Drew McIntyre faces a returning Roman Reigns.
McIntyre has been in top form as Raw’s top bad guy but it’s likely that Reigns, who is returning after time out recovering from leukaemia, will pick up the win.
Whatever the result, it’s bound to be a hard-hitting affair – the two men are specialists in those and it’s gotten rather personal. Drew’s recent line “you might be able to beat leukaemia but you can’t beat me” was a doozy.
Will legends fall?
Kurt Angle will face Baron Corbin in his final WWE match. Retirement is probably the best idea for the veteran – he may have won a Olympic gold medal with a broken freakin’ neck, but his injuries over the years appear to be catching up on him.
There could still be a swerve – John Cena’s presence is suspiciously lacking at this year’s event – but Angle will either go out in a blaze of glory or put over the relative newcomer with his back on the canvas.
Triple H’s career could well also end at WrestleMania. He takes on Batista in a no holds barred match, with the stipulation that he retires if he loses.
Chairs, tables and maybe even sledgehammers are all totally find to use on each other so it should be fun.
Rumours are that Dave will be kicking around past WrestleMania before returning to his fellow Guardians of the Galaxy, but it’s hard to see The Game calling it quits and taking the loss here.
If that all wasn’t enough so far, we’ll be treated to a falls count anywhere match between the Miz and the now dastardly villain Shane McMahon.
In a case of role-reversal we’re cheering on the A-Lister as he looks to avoid being landed on by one of Shane’s famous dives from great height.
With the fight likely to take place around the arena in various nooks and crannies, it’ll be watched with great anticipation about where the boss’ son will jump from this time around.
In another SmackDown match, we also finally get to see two veterans lock-up as WWE lifer Randy Orton takes on the indy scene journeyman AJ Styles.
They’ve been kept apart well since 2016’s brand split put them both on the blue brand and Styles, known as the Phenomenal One, will be hoping to avoid wrestling’s most-memed move, the devastating RKO.
More titles on the line
The US title will be on the line between Samoa Joe and Rey Mysterio.
In Joe’s first Wrestlemania match, he’ll be defending his honour against the legendary luchador.
The glimpses we’ve seen of the two in the ring together in recent weeks mean this match has plenty of promise.
We’ve seen a lot more of Intercontinental Champion Bobby Lashley and his opponent Finn Balor in the ring together, but Wrestlemania will be a little different.
This time, Irishman Balor is coming as the demon – and Lashley better beware. Expect a lick of facepaint to power Balor to victory.
Women’s tag titles on the line
WrestleMania includes a fatal four-way match between holders Sasha Banks and Bayley, Aussie duo the Iiconics, Nia Jax and Tamina and Natalya with hall of famer Beth Phoenix for the recently introduced women’s tag team titles.
The Boss & Hug Connection of Banks and Bayley will probably retain, and it’ll be fun to see Pheonix battle fellow powerhouses Nia and Tamina.
Plus, the Iiconics turn everything they’re in into gold, so this will be worth a watch.
Can Seth slay the beast?
Could this finally be the end of Brock Lesnar in WWE? A year ago, many put their house on Roman Reigns dethroning Lesnar as Universal champ. And many people lost their houses.
365-ish days later, and Lesnar’s spent most of them on his remote farm and not very many of them on Monday Night Raw.
Royal Rumble winner Seth Rollins, who famously took Lesnar’s WWE title at WrestleMania 31 after cashing in his Money in the Bank contract in the main event, will be hoping to cause the barely human fighting machine known as The Beast similar misery this time around.
With Lesnar’s UFC return constantly speculated and the garish red title belt rarely seen on TV, this is surely the time for Rollins to slay the beast and head to the top of the pile again.
Kofimania running wild
As part of the New Day, Kofi Kingston’s carried tag team gold for most of the past few years. But he’s never been a WWE title contender.
That was until he deputised for Mustafa Ali in the Elimination Chamber and the fans backed him in their droves.
A firm favourite with crowds, the Ghanaian-American veteran has been on fire in the past few weeks and has one of the best storylines going into WrestleMania.
He scratched and clawed for another opportunity at WWE Champion Daniel Bryan, being thrown into a gruelling gauntlet match by Vince McMahon who then changed the rules at the last minute to stop the so-called “B plus player” from sullying his big title match plans.
Then Kofi’s tag team pals Xavier Woods and Big E had to go through the same routine, tag team style, to earn him the opportunity.
As much as Bryan’s title reign since turning to the dark side has been brilliant – especially with his new eco-friendly title belt and alliance with the giant Rowan, the best ending is Kofi winning here.
But could there be an outside chance of one of Woods and E betraying him? Please, say it can’t happen…
The first even women’s main event
As Triple H said recently, this wasn’t given, it was earned.
Since Ronda Rousey’s first WWE match at WrestleMania last year, her presence has taken the women’s divisions to the next level.
But it’s hardly all down to her. All the female superstars have played their part, and especially Becky Lynch.
Perhaps the hottest star in the business right now, the Irish star took on the nickname of ‘The Man’ and has been central to everything good about WWE in the past few months.
The culmination is her taking on Charlotte Flair and former UFC star Rousey in a winner takes all triple threat for the Raw and SmackDown women’s titles in Sunday’s main event.
Having won the Royal Rumble back in January, Lynch chose to take on Rousey (the ‘little weirdo’ she’s antagonised for months) as her prize, but a series of setbacks and interference from management has seen Lynch’s best friend turned fierce foe Flair woo her way into the match.
While many had hoped to see a straight one-on-one fight between Rousey and Lynch, the addition of Charlotte, a big-match player with a mean moonsault, can give the match so many extra dimensions.
WWE would be daft not to capitalise on Lynch’s success in building her own popularity with the fans and give her both belts, but history-maker Charlotte is the company’s golden girl.
And let’s not forget Rousey is undefeated in singles competition and ‘the baddest women on the planet’.
Perhaps the heart says Becky, the head says Rousey and the boss says Charlotte?
Either way, this’ll be a main event that lives long in the memory.
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