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The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Review: WrestleMania XL is WWE’s love letter to wrestling fans

Ethan Seaney

Fans of professional wrestling were treated to the sport’s absolute peak April 6 and 7 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as WrestleMania XL ushered in the start of a new era.

With WWE coming in hot off 14 consecutive sold out television events, 145,298 fans filed into Lincoln Financial Field to witness two wrestling cards stacked from top to bottom with stars.

Differing from WrestleMania events in the past, the 40th iteration of the event was built around one singular story — the story of Cody Rhodes’ life-long chase for the Undisputed WWE Championship.

In the main event of WrestleMania 39, Rhodes was defeated by champion Roman Reigns due to interference by Bloodline member and Reigns’ cousin, Solo Sikoa. After winning a shot at the championship through WWE’s Royal Rumble event, Rhodes’ path to the main event of WrestleMania XL was seemingly set, until Reigns’ cousin and WWE board of directors member Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson entered himself into the picture.

After a grueling build that saw Rhodes beaten and bruised by the Bloodline weekly, the main events for both nights of WrestleMania XL were scheduled to raise the stakes even further for the Rhodes versus Reigns rematch. The night one main event placed Rhodes and Seth Rollins against Reigns and Johnson, with the latter promising to stay clean for night two main event of Rhodes versus Reigns if they lost.

After an absolute barn burner to open the night, match two of night one was a six-pack ladder match for the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Championships, which saw six teams compete for a set of two different titles hung above the ring. The antics involving R-Truth doing the moves and poses of his “childhood hero” John Cena left me thoroughly entertained. Grayson Waller and Austin Theory won the SmackDown set of tag belts, and The Miz and R-Truth retrieved the Raw set.

The fourth match was the worst of the entire weekend. I was truly excited to watch two twin brothers, Jey and Jimmy Uso, fight it out on the grandest stage of them all. Though the match was only 11 minutes, it seemed to drag on for an eternity. With zero sense of urgency and 15 total superkicks between turns resting on the mat for 30 seconds, Jey Uso may have won, but those of us watching lost.

Night one’s sixth match was a highly anticipated showdown for the Intercontinental Championship. As Sami Zayn made his way to the ring to face dominant champion Gunther, the cameras followed him as he received words of encouragement from friends Chad Gable and Kevin Owens. This match was emotional and hard-hitting, and Zayn pinned Gunther to the mat to end the former champion’s 666 day reign.

The main event of night one was truly what we all had been waiting for. Rhodes and Rollins took to the ring to get even with Reigns and The Rock. A win for Reigns and The Rock would mean Bloodline rules, no disqualification, for the following night’s main event. This made the stakes higher than ever.

The match clocked in from start to finish at 44 minutes, making it the second longest WrestleMania main event across 40 years. The pace was slow, and in turn, breaths were short. After a hard-fought match, The Rock hit his trademark Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow finishing moves on Rhodes to win and secure Bloodline rules.

Night two’s card kicked off with Drew McIntyre defeating a broken-down Rollins to win the World Heavyweight Championship. After a post-match gloating session in the face of future hall of fame member CM Punk ended in McIntyre getting hit with Punk’s arm cast, Damian Priest cashed in his “Money in the Bank” championship opportunity contract to start an impromptu championship match and steal the belt away from McIntyre.

A bit later, Bayley defeated her partner turned rival Iyo Sky to win the WWE Women’s Championship, finally giving Bayley a heartwarming WrestleMania moment in front of the fans that have eluded her.

With night two nearing the end, it was time for the Bloodline rules’ main event.

Rhodes, complete with a floor-length cape and a skull mask, made his entrance down the aisle to bring home the first WWE Championship in the over-50 year history of wrestling’s Rhodes family. The fans in the building were ready, and so was I watching at home. It was finally time for Rhodes to finish his story.

The match that followed was the most over-the-top, overbooked scramble that told a fantastic story — and I loved every second of it.

The match saw interference from what felt like an entire roster, with Solo Sikoa, Jimmy Uso, The Rock, Jey Uso, John Cena, Seth Rollins and The Undertaker making an impact in this match.

With no members of the Bloodline left to bail him out, Rhodes hit three Cross Rhodes moves on Reigns to end his 1,316 day reign as the Undisputed WWE Champion and finish his story.

Professional wrestling is finally re-entering the mainstream thanks to WWE, and from top to bottom, WrestleMania XL was nothing short of a love letter to fans of wrestling.

About the Contributor
Joshua Britt
Joshua Britt, Former Editor-in-Chief
Joshua Britt served as Editor-in-Chief of The Reflector from 2023 to 2024. Joshua also served as the Online Editor from 2020 to 2023.
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