When WWE puts on its Showcase of the Immortals on Sunday night at WrestleMania 35, they’ll be doing so with the highest expectations of the year. This is the case every year as WrestleMania is the WWE’s equivalent to the NFL’s Super Bowl or to FIFA’s World Cup. People don’t even need to be a fan of WWE to be interested in what’s going on with WrestleMania because of the level it’s grown to over the last three-plus decades.
Still, when the Superstars of WWE take to the ring this time around, they’ll have some added pressure to live up to the hype.
Not only did Ring of Honor and New Japan Pro Wrestling put on their G1 Supercard event the day prior which drew the attention of many in the wrestling world looking for their fix this weekend leading up to ‘Mania, but they were also treated to a potential worked shoot as Enzo Amore and Big Cass reunited in an invasion of the show which blew up all over social media.
This alone would certainly provide some pressure on WWE to ensure they put on a show that promises to impress millions around the world. Interestingly enough, though, the G1 Supercard isn’t even the reason this feature is being written.
Instead, WWE has created their own internal pressure through their ever-entertaining NXT Brand that’s consistently outperformed WWE’s product month after month, year after year.
NXT TakeOver New York Stole the Weekend
The show was originally set to feature Tommaso Ciampa and Johnny Gargano facing off against each other in the ultimate showdown between the former tag-team partners turned bitter rivals turned tag team partners once again with the NXT Championship on the line.
This wouldn’t happen as Ciampa would suffer a legitimate injury that would threaten his long-term health with fear that he could even have been paralyzed had he been hit hard in the head prior to his surgery.
Triple H, the man behind NXT’s brilliant product, would have to figure out a new idea for the show’s main event with time winding down. Fortunately, NXT is so filled with talented performers that the solution came easier than anyone could have possibly expected.
In what will probably be rated a five-star match, NXT’s TakeOver New York concluded with a barn burner between Gargano and Adam Cole in a two-out-of-three falls match. Gargano would win the match while demonstrating super-human heroics after both superstars left it all in the ring.
The show would conclude with Ciampa coming out with a neck brace on, embracing Gargano and his wife, fellow NXT Superstar Candice LeRae, as the show cut to black.
This match by itself ensured that WWE would have to step up their product on Sunday if they wouldn’t want to be considered second-fiddle on their biggest card of the year. What’s most impressive about NXT TakeOver New York, however, is the fact that the Main Event wasn’t the only match that could have laid claim for match of the weekend.
In short, NXT TakeOver was a five-card super show that also featured the NXT Tag Team Championships being retained by the War Raiders, the NXT North American Championship being retained by The Velveteen Dream, The NXT United Kingdom Championship being won by Walter and the NXT Women’s Championship being retained in a fatal four-way by Shayna Baszler.
WrestleMania Forced to Step Up
WrestleMania 35 is set to feature 16 matches over their seven hours of broadcasting through the pre-show and the main card. There will be ample opportunity for the main roster to steal the weekend and claim their place on top of the wrestling world. Despite this, it doesn’t seem likely that any match will even come close to the emotional storytelling or ring-work that was displayed Friday night at the Barclay’s Center in Brooklyn.
While there will undoubtedly be unforgettable moments, WrestleMania and the Superstars of Raw and SmackDown Live have their work cut out for them once again.
Related: WrestleMania 35 Match Predictions
This should be possible with fans firmly behind Becky Lynch, Seth Rollins, Kofi Kingston as well as major matches set such as Batista vs. Triple H, Kurt Angle’s farewell match against Baron Corbin, Drew McIntyre against Roman Reigns and many more.
In the end, Vince McMahon will likely be happy knowing that the only show over the weekend that could beat his juggernaut in WrestleMania would be a fellow WWE product in NXT TakeOver. That is, of course, assuming McMahon would be able to admit to himself that WrestleMania wasn’t a masterpiece should it fail to live up to the hype.
Only time will tell if WrestleMania 35 will end up being the show of the year.