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    Sunday, April 7, 2019

    Ruthless Roundtable: WWE WrestleMania 35

    While comic book nerds complain about the measly 4-hour runtime of the upcoming Avengers movie, us wrestling fans are already prepping our bodies for the 7-hour wrestling marathon that is WrestleMania 35. And us here at the Smark Henry offices are more than ready to dish out our own thoughts and predictions for Monday’s (Manila Time) extravaganza.

    Joining our 
    WrestleMania panel this year are four of Smark Henry’s roundtable veterans: chauffeur extraordinaire Camus McCamuson, resident NXT expert The Migz, notorious SmackDown Live nitpicker Ricky Publico, and The Mad Tito himself, Enzo Tanos. As our old friend Brock Lesnar used to say, let’s do THIS?!

    Let’s start with the big one. What does the historic all-female WrestleMania main event mean to you as a wrestling fan?

    Camus: It means a lot. In a world where women are rising up, breaking glass ceilings in so many realms, this is one of those FIRST TIME EVERS that actually means something. Hell in a Cell, Elimination Chamber... that stuff is cool, but I’m happy we get to see something like this happen in our lifetimes.

    Migz: We’ve come so far from having Evening Gown matches to being left out of the card to 30-second matches. WrestleMania is the grandest stage of them all. And to have these three talented ladies headline the biggest show is a testament to how much talent the women’s division has to offer.

    Ricky: It’s about damn time the WWE recognizes the fact that the women can carry the biggest show of the year solely on their shoulders. What’s more promising is that they treated this storyline like a big deal and not just an obvious PR stunt. Remember when they barely promoted Evolution last year? This time, they finally learned their lesson as they’re now investing in their top stars, regardless of gender. Women’s wrestling is the future, you guys.

    Tito E: Yes indeed, women’s wrestling has come a long way since Diva Searches and the likes of Ashley Massaro getting a push. Despite some rough patches, WWE’s “women’s evolution” has been a success, and I’m glad to see Becky, Charlotte, and Ronda main event ‘Mania because they have the talent to do so and a hot, mostly well-written storyline leading to their match.

    But did the convoluted storytelling turned you off, even for a little bit?

    Camus: Yeaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh it got weird at some point. But if it ends with Becks winning, or Becks breaking Ronnie’s face, it would all have been worth it.

    Migz: Yeaaasssss. There so many things happening that it nearly destroyed my faith in the storytelling. Camus is right though, Becky winning will be worth it.

    Ricky: For me, it started with Becky Lynch’s unnecessary knee injury and from there, I’d say they overplayed their cards way too much. But somehow, the triple threat match still makes sense as a main event. Let’s just hope they don’t ruin it with a bunch of hokey finishes or outside interferences. Just have these three women beat each other up would be fine.

    Tito E: That’s why I said “mostly well-written.” There were some moments where things were threatening to go off the rails. But I agree with Camus and Migz. It’ll be worth it if The Man, Becky Lynch, walks out of ‘Mania as (double) champion.

    Aside from the main event, which match from the stacked card are you most excited to see?

    Camus: At this point, I’m very excited about Kofi and Daniel Bryan. It is almost hilarious how this feud has come together so perfectly. Kofi has one of the best “organic” style storylines of 2019. Daniel Bryan as an unhinged, but well-meaning heel has made me happy. This is the match that has the potential to make up (in some way) for all the b******* of Triple H v Booker T, for so many racist moments in WWE history. Kofi is coming for you, Bryan. I’m invested, and I need Kofi to win.

    Migz: Daniel Bryan versus Kofi Kingston is something I’m excited for. They almost went the Becky/Ronda route by overbooking, but I’m glad we’re getting this bout. It’s interesting how this feud has developed in such a short time seeing as Kofi literally came out of nowhere. I have a high feeling this is going to be match of the night with Kofi capturing his first WWE Championship.

    Ricky: KofiMania all the way, baybeeeee! I’m also hyped to see Seth Rollins finally take home the Big Red Gold to the WWE where Superstars can actually pine for it on a weekly basis. And it’s not like Brock Lesnar is a slouch or anything. Hate him all you want, but he’s so good at what he does, even if it’s just a bunch of German suplexes.

    Tito E: Likewise, Daniel Bryan vs. Kofi Kingston. I love Bryan’s vegan environmentalist heel character, probably even more so than the “Yes!”-shouting underdog that won it all at WrestleMania XXX and proved that he’s not just a B+ player. But neither is Kofi, and after over a decade in WWE, he deserves this upper-card push, and hopefully, the WWE Championship as well.

    What about the match that will most likely be a sleeper hit?

    Camus: My money is on Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre. I have high hopes for this because 1. They will give Roman ample time. 2. Drew is an ideal foil for the recently full strength Roman. 3. Both men can beat the ever living bejeezus out of each other. This should be mindless violence done exquisitely.

    Migz: I originally wanted to say Samoa Joe versus Rey Mysterio, but after reading about Rey’s injury, I’m going with AJ Styles versus Randy Orton instead. AJ has always brought his A-game in everything he’s involved in and while I believe AJ is winning, I’m going to bet there’s a sweet RKO spot in the match.

    Ricky: It has to be AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton. I’m guessing they’ll probably kickstart the show and it will end with another innovative RKO framsjdfasnawer like Orton did with Seth Rollins at WrestleMania 31. And why not, let’s throw in Triple H vs. Batista’s Spice Girls-fueled rivalry in the potential sleeper hit category.

    Tito E: The Miz vs. Shane McMahon. Sure, it’s the secondary feud to Bryan vs. Kofi on SmackDown Live, but they’re finally doing things right with Miz as a babyface -- he’s surprisingly solid as a traditional good guy, as opposed to the smug “Really? Really?” guy from late 2012-2013 who retained his heel mannerisms despite being booked as a face. That said, I’m definitely not expecting a five-star match here, but it has the potential to entertain.

    Any matchup that you’re not really feeling? C’mon, be honest.

    Camus: The Women’s Tag Match feels a tad overbooked. That’s my main gripe. The new titles could have/should have been given a proper feud in their first Mania outing, and I would have enjoyed a more concise Boss n’ Hug vs. (pick any of the 3 contenders) feud rather than this.

    Migz: Shane vs. The Miz just doesn’t cut it for me. It’s the natural progression of things. I get it. I just don’t think this is a WrestleMania-worthy feud. I wish they did this at Fastlane because the card is seriously overbooked.

    Ricky: All the tag team title matches feel flat to me and I don’t think I’m that invested in either of their storylines. Sure, Beth Phoenix is making a comeback and Rico-Black will be in action, but I can’t help but see their matches as fodders to an already stacked Mania card.

    Tito E: The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Annual Midcard Battle Royal is more like it. Wonder whose potential they’re going to waste this year by giving him the ARMBAR win and not doing anything with him in the following months?

    Becky Lynch. Kofi Kingston. Seth Rollins. Only one of them can win their respective main events. Who’s your pick?

    Camus: Seth needs to take the Universal title back. It has been held hostage by Brock *~FOR SO LONG~* that this all needs to end. This is bigger than it seems, but this match is too important. SAVE US SETH. 

    Migz: Becky wins or we riot.

    Ricky: What Migz said. Becky Lynch all the way. I’m just going with my gut since I equally want these three to win it all. So yeah, I’m choosing The Man over the others. I feel terrible.

    Tito E: If I really have to choose, I’ll go with Seth Rollins. There’s a very simple reason why Brock isn’t a draw anymore -- he hardly ever defends that damn Universal Title of his. Give Seth the win or my WWE Network subscription is remaining canceled.

    Is Triple H vs. Batista still a Mania-worthy match in 2019?

    Camus: Avengers: Endgame is coming out a little after Mania. So yes.

    Migz: Yes. Honestly, This should’ve happened last year but it’s still relevant to me.

    Ricky: Of course it is! This is WrestleMania 21 all over again. That PPV is one of the shows that got me hooked on wrestling so Triple H and Batista will always have a special place in my heart. I could watch them go at it regardless of what year we’re at.

    Tito E: Even if both men are almost a combined 100-years-old, HHH vs. Batista still matters as this year’s token battle of the part-time legends. Win or lose, this should give Big Dave the closure he needs as he wraps up his pro wrestling career on a positive note.

    So it’s Kurt Angle’s last match in the WWE… against Baron Corbin. Thoughts?

    Camus: I wish this was Kurt vs. Gable, or Kurt vs. Shelton, but who else would you have him elevate in 2019? I’ve softened on the Corbin hate, but I can live with this.

    Migz: I wish it was Shane or Shelton or even Brock. It is what it is. Baron’s getting the rub. Although, the voices in my head tell me to not hold off on expecting a John Cena or even a Shawn Michaels appearance.

    Ricky: At this point, who even cares. Kurt Angle’s farewell tour should’ve spelled it out for you: he’s not the same wrestling machine we knew and loved. I’m sure Creative knew this that’s why they went with the most underwhelming choice there is. Hopefully, Baron Corbin can use this to revive his stale heel character. Maybe start investing on a real wrestling gear again?

    Tito E: There’s no way this match doesn’t turn into Angle vs. Cena once everything’s said and done. Coming full circle is the best... and only way for Angle’s in-ring career to end. Otherwise, if we still get Angle vs. Corbin, you know where to find me, and it won’t be on the second floor of Skinny Mike’s.

    What death-defying stunt will Shane McMahon pull off now?


    Migz: If they do a glass panel-breaking spot, I will mark out. Otherwise, I don’t really expect a Shane-O-Mac spot.

    Ricky: Here’s a crazy idea: he does absolutely nothing. That’s the twist. Besides, he’s a heel now, apparently. He will definitely avoid the tropes that made the crowd love him.

    Tito E: At this point, what hasn’t he done to prove that he gives zero fucks about any sort of risks? But if I have to choose, I’ll go with any spot involving an announce table.

    Roman Reigns will enter his first WrestleMania as the beloved babyface he was meant to be. Thoughts?

    Camus: I’m just happy for him to be back. It shouldn’t have taken leukemia to get him to this level, but here we are. In this case, Roman can punch up against Drew, and it will be convincing. If he fights as more of an underdog, I think we’ll see him fulfill that destiny.

    Migz: I’m happy for Roman. I do hope that they stop booking Roman as a superhuman as he’s more relatable this way. I think that’s the reason it’s easy for fans to accept him now, he faced adversity and has come back after a life-threatening scare.

    Ricky: At this point, I’m just glad he’s alive. Reigns being healthy enough to wrestle again is just a bonus. Hopefully this time, Creative takes advantage of this unique opportunity and not make him the same corporate superhero they’ve been pushing for so long. I can’t imagine the backlash they will receive if they keep repeating the tired formula.

    Tito E: It’s sad that it took a real-life battle with a deadly disease for fans to soften their stance on Roman. But while I wouldn’t mind seeing Roman go over Drew in this match, I agree that he shouldn’t be booked like a Hulk/Cena type who (almost) always finds a way to win. This is one match where it’s important that both men be booked to look as strong as possible.

    Who needs the win more: Finn Balor or Samoa Joe?

    Camus: Finn. He’s been damaged goods for a while now, more so than Joe. I need Finn to be the star that WWE signed. He can still be such a star, but WWE needs to move faster while he’s in good shape.

    Migz: Samoa Joe. Joe’s been floating around for a while so I want to see him mean something in the main roster. A lengthy title run could help build Joe as a killer even after all the losses he’s taken from everybody.

    Ricky: Is it okay to say that I don’t really care about Finn Balor anymore? Is that a bad thing to say? Samoa Joe obviously needs the win more. Despite winning the United States Championship, Joe has found himself at the end of a roll-up pinfall in every match he’s been in lately. Let him win in his first WrestleMania, at least.

    Tito E: This is a tough one. Both titles have lost quite a bit of luster—the IC title since Miz last held it, the US title since...considerably farther back. But I think I’ll be going with Joe, because the US Championship is a bigger reclamation project as a largely irrelevant midcard title that shouldn’t be.

    All things considered, should Asuka win the Women’s Battle Royale?

    Camus: Yes. Bloody murderer Asuka needs to become a thing in this Battle Royal, and I for one am all for it.

    Migz: Yes please. Asuka has to snap and start throwing people. Heck, maybe she should win the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal.

    Tito E: Why the hell not. Asuka’s SmackDown Women’s Championship run was essentially the equivalent of a participation trophy. ‘Mania 34 set her back big-time in the long run, so ‘Mania 35 should be WWE’s chance to build her back up while she isn’t that old yet.

    Ricky: What they all said. C’mon, who else is there anyway?

    Speaking of battle royales, Colin Jost and Michael Che as ARMBAR participants. Yay or Nay?

    Camus: Yeah. If it’s happening in the ARMBAR for the lulz, I’ll take it.

    Migz: Nah. Although, it’d be interesting to see them interact with people like EC3 and Heavy Machinery.

    Ricky: I like Weekend Update but I’m not sure what they can offer to the WWE. It’s so random how Jost and Che got involved in this match in the first place. Who knows, they probably cooked up something good this year.

    Tito E: Are these guys really WWE fans? The only time celebrity cameos are worth it is if they’re actual fans, like Stephen Amell, Ronda Rousey at ‘Mania 31, or even Shaq. For now, hard pass.

    WrestleMania 35’s closing image. Go!

    Camus: Four Horsewomen, standing tall, with Spice Girls’ "Viva Forever blasting.

    Migz: Seth and Kofi on the side. Becky in front. Titles up high.

    Ricky: Just Becky Lynch holding the titles up is the ideal closing image for me.

    Tito E: Becky and Charlotte hugging it out, Ronda struggling to get up, Bayley and Sasha joining their fellow WWE Horsewomen to celebrate. I’ll gladly replace “Viva Forever” with Becky’s ring music, though.

    WrestleMania 35 Predictions in 280 Characters or Less

    Undisputed Women’s Championship Match: Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ronda Rousey (c)

    Camus: Ronnie gets rekt.

    Migz: Becky wins. Ronda and Charlotte tap out to double Dis-Arm-Her. (I don’t know how a double Dis-Arm-Her would work but that’s my take.)

    Ricky: Becky Lynch becomes the first Undisputed Women’s Champion in WWE.

    Tito E: Kofi wins, Seth wins, Becky wins, faith in WWE booking restored. (For now.)

    WWE Championship Match: Kofi Kingston vs. Daniel Bryan (c)

    Camus: KofiMania running wild.

    Migz: KofiMania runs wild and wins. Harper returns. New Day versus the Bryan Family for the next few weeks could grow from this.

    Ricky: Kofi Kingston said it best. We all know how these stories end.

    Tito E: KofiMania for the win, bring back Harper so that New Day can feud with D-Bry’s stable of clean-living bearded hipsters.

    WWE Universal Championship: Seth Rollins vs. Brock Lesnar (c)


    Migz: I can imagine Seth Curb Stomping Brock between 3 to 5 times for the win. It’s an image I’ve been playing in my head as I type this. Dean and Roman come out for one last photo op after the victory.

    Ricky: It’s time for the Universal Championship to come home to RAW. Go get it, Rollins!

    Tito E: I’ll be honest. Part of me feels that WWE will inexplicably give Brock the win. But the Universal Championship needs to be held by a full-timer, so I’m definitely pulling for Seth.

    WWE Intercontinental Championship: Finn Balor vs. Bobby Lashley (c)

    Camus: The Demon Ascendant.

    Migz: Demon Finn takes the win. I’m excited to see what form this Demon version takes.

    Ricky: So Finn’s Demon won’t come out for the Universal Championship but is eager to show up for the Intercontinental Title? The devil works hard, but the demon, not so much.

    Tito E: Demon Finn wins and makes the IC title mean something again.

    WWE United States Championship Match: Rey Mysterio vs. Samoa Joe (c)

    Camus: El Rey de Misterio parece mil pesos, pero José de Samoa ganará.

    Migz: Samoa Joe destroys Rey Mysterio in front of Dominic but I think this won’t be the end of this face-off.

    Ricky: Samoa Joe wins but carefully sets up a rivalry with the all grown up Dominick.

    Tito E: Samoa Joe retains convincingly and moves on to his next feud. Sorry, Dominick.

    No Holds Barred Match with Triple H's Career On The Line: Triple H vs. Batista

    Camus: If we don’t get Drax gear, we riot.

    Migz: I second what Camus said. If not Drax gear, then make Batista wrestler in skinny jeans. Anyway, in unexpected fashion, Batista wins this so Triple H can officially retire.

    Ricky: Batista is definitely my pick. It’s not like Triple H is going to retire anyway, even if he lost.

    Tito E: Batista wins and retires on a positive note, Triple H retires per stipulation and focuses on undoing the booking damage wrought by his 73-year-old father-in-law. Everybody wins.

    Retirement Match: Kurt Angle vs. Baron Corbin

    Camus: Elder Statesman elevates Balding Wolf to new heights in physical match.

    Migz: Kurt Angle taps Baron Corbin in less than 1 minute. A second Angle match happens right after with somebody unexpected.

    Ricky: I’ll be that guy and say Baron Corbin will win this one, just for the lulz.

    Tito E: I can see what Migz is predicting, but I can’t see the guy Angle will be facing after he’s done humiliating Boring Corbin.

    Falls Count Anywhere Match: Shane McMahon vs. The Miz

    Camus: Heir to worldwide empire loses mind, match to equally insane Cleveland Man.

    Migz: Miz beats Shane. Miz and his dad celebrate. Vince could come out to scold Shane-O-Mac.

    Ricky: The Miz will probably pin Shane McMahon on top of something.

    Tito E: Miz wins as we prepare for Mike and George Mizanin vs. Shane and Vince McMahon at the next PPV. If this happens, you read it here first.

    AJ Styles vs. Randy Orton

    Camus: Two older men potentially steal show, are still deceptively athletic.

    Migz: Styles beats Orton and earns his respect. RKO out of nowhere afterwards.

    Ricky: AJ Styles all the way. I was going to say he has never lost at Mania, but then I remembered how he lost his first one. Welp.

    Tito E: I’d normally go with Styles, but Orton might as well pick up the win so that he could be Kofi’s first challenger for the WWE Championship and kick off a feud that might not be as “STUPID!” as it sounds.

    Roman Reigns vs. Drew McIntyre

    Camus: Cancer lost. Samoan Joe might just lose to Irish Madman.

    Migz: A definite slobberknocker. Roman beats Drew for that feel-good moment.

    Tito E: Roman wins but gets brutally beaten down afterward by Drew.

    Ricky: Hey, don’t count out Drew McIntyre. It won’t hurt Roman if he lost one of these Mania matches, you know.

    Fatal Four Way Tag Team Match for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships: Natalya & Beth Phoenix vs. Nia Jax & Tamina vs. The IIconics vs. Sasha Banks & Bayley (c)

    Camus: All of these women could have been on the main show, but we don’t have time for any tag matches.

    Migz: The IIconics need to come close to winning. Sasha Banks and Bayley will retain so they can set up that Horsewomen versus Horsewomen thing they’ve been brewing for some time.

    Ricky: It’s time to make the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships “IICONIC!”

    Tito E: Really, anyone but Nia and Tamina would be okay with me. Heck, I wouldn’t mind the Titas of Doom winning. But logically, this match should go to the Boss & Hug Connection.

    Fatal Four Way Tag Team Match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships: Ricochet & Aleister Black vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rusev vs. The Bar vs. The Usos (c)

    Migz: What the hell have you done to Nakamura and Rusev? Damn. Black-ochet wins this hands down. What’s the build up for if they aren’t winning?

    Ricky: This is easily an Uso victory. None of these teams are close to being championship material, except maybe for The Bar.

    Tito E: Ricochet and Black win this. Also really sad about Nak and Rusev because one of them is likely taking the pin like they have on the last few SmackDown Live episodes.

    RAW Tag Team Championship Match: Zack Ryder & Curt Hawkins vs. The Revival (c)

    Migz: I've read rumors that Vince wants to split the Revival. Also, remember that feel-good moment involving Zack Ryder a few years back? This is part two. Zack Ryder and Curt Hawkins win to end the losing streak, but don't hold your breath because they're losing again the next night.

    Ricky: You see what I mean with these throwaway tag team matches? I pick the Revival, I guess.

    Tito E: 
    Wait, THIS is happening? Fine, let’s give Hawkins his WrestleMania moment and end his losing streak on the Grandest Stage of them All. FKA Major Brothers beat The Revival for the virtually worthless RAW Tag Titles, but, as Migz predicted, lose on RAW during the rematch.

    WWE Cruiserweight Championship Match: Tony Nese vs. Buddy Murphy (c)

    Migz: Tony Nese can finally have his first taste of gold. Murphy’s done a whole lot with the title and it deserves a new owner now.

    Ricky: Tony Nese, please. I remember how good Cedric Alexander vs. Mustafa Ali was last year. This match will surely deliver once again.

    Tito E: Haven’t been following 205 Live that much, but it’s about time the belt changed hands. Nese beats Mr. Alexa Bliss to become your new Cruiserweight Champion.

    Sixth Annual Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal

    Migz: Please don’t make Jost and Che win. Please. For the nth time, please have Bray Wyatt return and win this. That or have EC3 sneakily win.

    Ricky: Don’t listen to him. Let Jost and Che win this one. Again, just for the lulz.

    Tito E: Sleeper pick—EC3. However, WWE better not give him the Mojo Rawley treatment afterward if that’s the case.

    Second Annual WrestleMania Women’s Battle Royal

    Migz: Asuka. That’s my only response...

    Ricky: There’s literally no other choice than Asuka. She better win this one.

    Tito E: Asuka. Time to rebuild her as a threat, time for WWE to avoid making the same mistakes they made with the ARMBAR by giving the Women’s Battle Royal a credible winner and following through with her push.


    Want to catch WrestleMania 35 live? Join us at the official Smark Henry WrestleMania 35 Viewing Party on Monday, April 8 at Skinny Mike's Sports Bar in Bonifacio Global City! P320 gets you entrance and a free drink, as well as the closest thing to watching the Grandaddy of Them All live in the arena. It's next to a holiday, too, so we hope you already filed your precious leave for Monday. For more details, check out the Facebook event page here.
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    Item Reviewed: Ruthless Roundtable: WWE WrestleMania 35 Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Ricky Jay Publico
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