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Women to close out WrestleMania for first time

For the first time in the 35-year history of WrestleMania, WWE's biggest annual pay-per-view, a women's match will close out the show as the main event.

WWE

Flair: WrestleMania to be 'pinnacle of the women's evolution'

Charlotte Flair explains what it means to be the main event at WrestleMania, noting that it was seen as impossible just a couple years ago.

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Monday Night Raw

The Shield is no more, and the three former members of that faction each clearly went their own way on Raw. When Drew McIntyre invoked Roman Reigns’ cancer battle and Reigns’ family not needing to go through another trauma, Reigns accepted McIntyre’s WrestleMania challenge -- and Drew got the upper hand of the ensuing scuffle with a Claymore kick. Dean Ambrose, still somehow standing after an attack a few weeks ago saw Ambrose get his head kicked between a metal banister on a staircase, then picked a fight with McIntyre and promptly lost a 15-minute Last Man Standing match to close out the show. Seth Rollins gathered the support of the WWE fandom and promptly faced a Paul Heyman response, as the longtime Brock Lesnar advocate invoked this generation’s insistence of “thoughts and prayers”. Given the slightest threat of physical violence, Heyman crumpled into a heap at the top of the ramp as Rollins stood over him and claimed he was the answer to the prayers of fans. The final piece of the puzzle, outside of Elias’ adventures in busking in New York City, which predictably went awry, was a Triple H promo that changed the stakes for his WrestleMania match against Batista. After congratulating Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey for the main event, and dropping in a Spice Girls reference to boot, Triple H agreed to put his career on the line if he should lose to Batista on April 7.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com14h ago

The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal has never become much more than a spectacle for spectacle’s sake, and it became clearer that trend wouldn’t be changing this year on Monday night. With Braun Strowman already in the match, a series of unfortunate events on Alexa Bliss’ “Moment of Bliss” talk show locked Saturday Night Live Weekend Update hosts and writers Michael Che and Colin Jost into participating in that match as well. There was a lot of misdirection on Raw, with Finn Balor earning a WrestleMania Intercontinental championship match against Bobby Lashley by pinning Jinder Mahal in a handicap match. Kurt Angle beat SmackDown star and United States champion Samoa Joe in a Raw ring, while Angle’s final opponent to be, Baron Corbin, took care of business against Apollo Crews. For the second time since debuting on Raw, Aleister Black and Ricochet defeated Raw tag team champions The Revival in a non-title match.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com14h ago

With news of the Raw women’s championship triple threat match eing locked in as the main event of WrestleMania 35, it remained to be seen as to what we’d get from Charlotte Flair, Ronda Rousey and Becky Lynch. The answer, revealed in the opening moments of Raw Monday night, was a beat the clock challenge against the three members of the Riott Squad. While this style of match is typically attached to a prize of some kind, this time around it was all about bragging rights. All three matches lasted less than 90 seconds, with Rousey defeating Sarah Logan by submission, Flair failing to defeat Ruby Riott fast enough and Becky Lynch winning the contest by pinning Liv Morgan in the quickest match. Later in the night, the WWE women’s tag team championship match for WrestleMania was all but locked in, when a strong match between Sasha Banks and Natalya ended via interference from Nia Jax and Tamina. Beth Phoenix got involved and cleared out the ring with a glam slam to Tamina. Banks and Bayley all but confirmed they’ll defend their titles against Raw’s Jax and Tamina, SmackDown’s IIconics and the legendary pairing of Phoenix and Natalya.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com14h ago

Hall of Fame

The Hart Foundation tag team combination of Bret Hart and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart is the latest addition to the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2019. The two-time WWE tag team champions, who held those titles for more than 480 collective days, were innovators in the tag team division and helped shape the course of WWE history from their formation in 1985 through the early 1990s. For most of their run as a tag team, they were accompanied by the bombastic (yet unrelated) manager Jimmy Hart.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com21h ago

WWE

We're 18 days out from WrestleMania 35, and early weather projections for the outdoor WWE show at MetLife Stadium are promising. AccuWeather projects that April 7 in East Rutherford, NJ will be a sunny, 61-degree Fahrenheit day (with a low of 41). The projections can obviously shift wildly over the course of almost three weeks, especially with rain projected for the preceding two days, but the possibility of a late-season snowfall seems slim at this point. (Image courtesy accuweather.com)

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com6d ago

WWE

NXT TV kicked off with Triple H addressing the state of the NXT championship, which was vacated by Tommaso Ciampa due to injury. He announced that at TakeOver: New York, Johnny Gargano would take on the winner of tonight's fatal 5-way main event featuring Adam Cole, Ricochet, Aleister Black, Velveteen Dream and Matt Riddle. Cole won tonight's match, a brilliant effort by all five superstars, and will battle Gargano for the title at TakeOver in a two-out-of-three falls match. On next week's show, Ricochet and Black will square off with the Forgotten Sons in the final match of the Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic. The winner of that match will challenge the War Raiders for the NXT tag team championships at TakeOver.

Sean Coyle, ESPN6d ago

SmackDown

Can Kofi Kingston catch a break? He defied all odds Tuesday, sweeping a slew of superstars -- five of them, Sheamus, Cesaro, Rowan, Samoa Joe and Randy Orton -- in a gauntlet match to earn a shot at Daniel Bryan’s WWE championship come WrestleMania. It was an insane effort, but Kofi's celebration was cut short as Mr. McMahon emerged from the backstage to extol Kofi's effort, but ... also announce he has to beat one more opponent -- Bryan himself -- if he wants that title shot. An exhausted, beaten-down Kofi had little left in the tank, falling to Bryan after the champ connected with a running knee to head. And just like that Kofi lost his opportunity. Now the question is: What does he need to do to get it back?

Matt Wilansky, ESPN.com7d ago

Looks like Samoa Joe has his WrestleMania opponent. In a backstage interview, Rey Mysterio, standing next to his much taller son, announced that after pinning Joe last week, he’s going for the United States gold. AJ Styles also had some words for his WrestleMania foe, explaining why even if he is “a walk-on” as opposed to Orton, “a first-round pick,” a big-time underdog, it doesn’t matter because he’s will show the Viper why he's ... phenomenal.

Matt Wilansky, ESPN.com7d ago

Emotions ran high Tuesday on SmackDown Live. First, The Miz opened the show lamenting the betrayal of Shane McMahon, calling him “a vile, conniving, disgusting human being” followed by “you’re rotten to the core just like your father.” Safe to say Miz is ready for his WrestleMania showdown, as is Becky Lynch, who abruptly ended the Kevin Owens Show by attacking Charlotte Flair, leading to an all-out melee. Not even a herd of security could slow down these bitter enemies, who in a few weeks will not only have to face each other, but contend with Ronda Rousey as well. While the storyline did not take any notable steps forward, the dynamic between three women who undoubtedly loathe each other is going to make this not just a great match, but a full-blown brawl.

Matt Wilansky, ESPN.com7d ago

Monday Night Raw

Kurt Angle announced on Monday Night Raw that his final match will come against Baron Corbin at WrestleMania 35. Speculation about who Angle would face varied wildly, from John Cena, who debuted opposite Angle in 2002, to former Team Angle member Shelton Benjamin, and beyond. But in the end, the link with Corbin over the last few months of WWE TV led to this particular match. If the crowd reaction in Chicago was any indication, that decision did not go over well with fans.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com8d ago

Monday Night Raw started and ended strong, but the two-plus hours in between was all over the map. There were great moments, like Beth Phoenix coming out of retirement to challenge for the women’s tag team titles, and a dream match of sorts between Kurt Angle and Chad Gable. Braun Strowman and Finn Balor picked up a win over Bobby Lashley and Lio Rush, with Lashley leaving Rush hanging out to dry in the closing moments. But in a week in which there were no tag team matches and champions The Revival were reduced to a jokey backstage cameo with Baron Corbin, Raw tried to pick up the strands of long-forgotten stories involving Mojo Rawley and No Way Jose. Jinder Mahal also came in cold to face off with Ricochet, with no allusion to Ricochet and Aleister Black’s potential challenge for the Raw tag team titles, and Apollo Crews picked up a fluky win over Corbin despite Corbin being hand-picked as Angle’s last opponent.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com8d ago

In the moments Raw focused on the task at hand -- WrestleMania 35 -- it was highly effective. While Paul Heyman ostensibly opened the show to run down Seth Rollins and everyone who has challenged Brock Lesnar over the last couple of years, Heyman worked his verbal magic and got everything from Rollins, to Lesnar, to the Universal championship match and even Drew McIntyre over in a huge way. In the show’s closing moments McIntyre got an even bigger moment when he beat Rollins clean in the middle of the ring, despite taking more than 15 chair shots to the back earlier in the night, with a slight assist from Heyman and Lesnar. On the women’s side, although we didn’t see Charlotte Flair or Becky Lynch in person, Ronda Rousey further extended her disregard for anyone outside of her family and her own goals throughout the night. After entering the arena with husband Travis Browne, Rousey knocked challenger Dana Brooke silly with a running knee and then locked in an armbar -- and wouldn’t let go for more than 30 seconds, even after earning the submission win. Rousey and Browne each took out multiple officials post-match, and WWE is hitting all the right notes to make sure Rousey will be as hated as possible come WrestleMania time.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com8d ago

WWE

AJ Styles announced Monday on social media that he has signed a new contract with WWE, although length and terms were not released. Styles elected not to reveal that news in a big or splashy way, like a TV special or a press release, but instead by burying that message in a Tweet that also announced his family had just added a new puppy to the mix.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com8d ago

WWE

Tony Nese picked up an emotional win over Cedric Alexander in the finale of an eight-man tournament to give him a Cruiserweight Title shot at WrestleMania against former training partner Buddy Murphy. I say former, because Murphy gave Nese a pump knee after the match after originally congratulating him on the victory. Also on 205 Live, Mike Kanellis snapped his losing streak after involvement from Maria in a win over Akira Tozawa. (Photo from @WWE)

Matt Willis, ESPN Staff Writer7d ago

Boxing

WWE and Boxing met on St. Patrick's Day on Sunday. Finn Bálor of Ireland, made it to Madison Square Garden in New York to root for Northern Ireland's Michael Conlan, who's fighting in the main event of a Top Rank card on ESPN+. (Photo by Mikey Williams/Top Rank)

Andres Ferrari, ESPN Editor9d ago

SmackDown

Those who tuned into SmackDown to hear from fan favorites Becky Lynch and Kofi Kingston were not left disappointed. Lynch symbolically tossed away her crutch that had also become a storyline clutch while walking down the rampway. Lynch then celebrated her mental victory over Ronda Rousey, told Charlotte Flair that she had little to show from four years of having the women's division under her thumb and dropped the mic. New Day closed out the show opposite Vince McMahon, and all three members of the team produced an instantly memorable promo. Big E and Xavier Woods started by listing everything they do for WWE without question and without complaint, and then Kofi Kingston delivered a must-watch promo and made it clear he wasn't looking for a handout. Vince finally offered Kofi a path to a WrestleMania WWE title match, and it's a doozy -- he'll have to defeat Randy Orton, Samoa Joe, Cesaro, Sheamus and Rowan in a gauntlet match next week on SmackDown to win his way in. Something tells me this won't be the last curveball Kofi Kingston will have to handle.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com14d ago

With less than four weeks until WrestleMania 35, the push to fill out the card for the biggest show of the year went into overdrive Tuesday night. Two matches we saw coming after the events of Fastlane were locked in on SmackDown. Shane McMahon promised to continue to embarrass The Miz after beating Miz up in front of his dad in his hometown on Sunday, as McMahon insulted everyone from the crowd in attendance in Dayton to every employee of WWE looking for a handout. Later in the night, AJ Styles was positioned as the "voice of the indies" opposite WWE lifer Randy Orton, who not so casually namedropped former TNA boss Dixie Carter and Ring of Honor's pre-match handshakes.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com14d ago

We got four matches on SmackDown, and as other parts of the WrestleMania 35 card got clearer, most of these results leave the fate of multiple WWE superstars a little bit fuzzier. An eight-man tag team match featuring The Hardy Boyz, Aleister Black, Ricochet, The Bar, Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev ended as a no contest when New Day aired out their frustrations by destroying everyone in the ring. Asuka defeated Sonya Deville, as animosity grew between Deville and Mandy Rose, who cost Deville a match Tuesday night in similar fashion to the way Deville short-circuited Rose's title shot at Fastlane Sunday. Still no clear sign as to what awaits Asuka at WrestleMania. Rey Mysterio pinned United States champion Samoa Joe in a tag team match, but whether that means a title match in the coming weeks on SmackDown or perhaps something bigger at WrestleMania is unclear. Finally, Rowan picked up a win for himself and Daniel Bryan over Kevin Owens and Mustafa Ali by hitting an Iron Claw on Ali.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com14d ago

Week in review

In Dusty Rhodes Tag Team Classic semifinal action, the Forgotten Sons defeated Moustache Mountain and the duo of Aleister Black and Ricochet beat #DIY in a fantastic main event. Post-match, Johnny Gargano, who feigned an injury towards the end of the match, attacked Tommaso Ciampa as Ciampa appeared poised to deliver an attack of his own. Also on the show, in a match intended to determine a number one contender to Shayna Baszler's NXT women's championship, Io Shirai and Bianca Belair battled to a double disqualification. The DQ occurred when Baszler, who was on commentary, ambushed both superstars as well as Kairi Sane, who attempted to make the save. As a result, Baszler will defend her title against all three superstars in a Fatal 4-Way match at TakeOver: New York.

Sean Coyle, ESPN13d ago

In the two tournament semifinal matches to determine a new number one contender to Buddy Murphy’s Cruiserweight championship, Tony Nese defeated Drew Gulak and former champion Cedric Alexander defeated NXT’s Oney Lorcan. The winner of next week’s match between Nese and Alexander will challenge Murphy for the title at WrestleMania.

Sean Coyle, ESPN13d ago

NXT

How NXT moves forward without injured Tommaso Ciampa

Tomasso Ciampa will be sidelined for at least six months after undergoing neck surgery. That leaves Johnny Gargano and many other NXT stars with an undetermined path just weeks before NXT TakeOver: New York.

NXT champion Tommaso Ciampa will undergo neck surgery on Thursday. A release from WWE confirmed that Ciampa is scheduled for an anterior cervical fusion procedure, but additional details about everything from a timetable for return to storyline ramifications remain unclear.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com20d ago

Fastlane

WWE Fastlane results: The Shield wins its final match and Becky Lynch is heading to WrestleMania

Becky Lynch got some help from Ronda Rousey to earn her spot at WrestleMania and, in what was billed as their final match, The Shield left Fastlane with a win.

For perhaps the final time -- or at least the last time for a long while -- Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose stood together in the ring as The Shield in celebration of a victory. They soaked in the moment for several minutes after the Fastlane pay-per-view went off the air, and thanked many fans as they slowly made their exit.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com16d ago

Monday Night Raw

A couple of longtime stars officially booked their spots in WrestleMania, as Batista challenged Triple H (with Triple H not only accepting, but announcing it would be a No Holds Barred battle), while Kurt Angle said this year’s event will be his farewell match. While we don’t know Angle’s opponent yet, Batista, who brought an army of security down the ramp “for protection” Monday, and Triple H have a long, storied history. “That’s all I wanted,” Batista said as he addressed Triple H. “One last match to end my career on my terms. And one last match to end your career on my terms.”

Matt Wilansky, ESPN.com15d ago

Just like that, Bobby Lashley regained his intercontinental title as he (with a big-time assist to Lio Rush) beat Finn Balor three weeks after initially dropping it at Elimination Chamber. Since the end of 2017, that championship has changed hands nine times, with only Seth Rollins holding it for more than 100 days. In other action, Ronda Rousey delivered a scathing promo, saying she “got Charlotte disqualified [at Fastlane] so she could expose [Charlotte and Becky Lynch] as the con artists they are.” Rousey then beat the lights out of Dana Brooke before their match ever officially began, while decking a referee just to add insult to injury. Beth Phoenix interfered in a one-on-one matchup between Natalya and Nia Jax, so she could get her hands on the latter, while Alexa Bliss announced she would be the host of this year’s WrestleMania.

Matt Wilansky, ESPN.com15d ago

Drew McIntyre beat, brutalized and bludgeoned two-thirds of The Shield on Monday Night Raw. First, he blindsided Roman Reigns before the Big Dog's scheduled match against Baron Corbin, landing two Claiborne Kicks with enough force that Reigns needed Seth Rollins’ help back to the locker room. Soon after, an irate Dean Ambrose wanted retribution and was granted a falls-count-anywhere match against McIntyre, which was, in retrospect, not the wisest move. After clobbering each other in the concession stands and as far up as the mezzanine in the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh, McIntyre leveled Ambrose with a low blow, then heinously stabbed his face with a pencil before tossing him like a ragdoll into the LED boards. Then with Ambrose caught in a guardrail, McIntyre leveled his helpless foe with a Claiborne Kick, and that was all she wrote.

Matt Wilansky, ESPN.com15d ago

WWE

Harlem Heat, 10-time WCW tag team champions, are the latest addition to the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2019. As first reported by USA Today, Booker T and Stevie Ray (real life brothers Booker and Lash Huffman) will be recognized as part of the WrestleMania week festivities on Saturday, April 6 at the Barclays Center. Harlem Heat won the WCW titles seven times from 1993 to 1997 as one of the most dominant tag teams of the era, and reunited in 1999 and won tag team gold three times before breaking up again. This will be Booker T's second time being honored in the WWE Hall of Fame, as he was recognized in 2013 as an individual performer.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com14d ago

WWE

WWE announced three new signees who reported to the WWE Performance Center this week: former UCF tight end Cal Bloom, independent wrestling veteran and former Amazing Race finalist Robbie E (Robert Strauss) and manager Stokely Hathaway.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com15d ago

The WWE had a surprise introductory host for its WrestleMania 36 press conference. Hulk Hogan, who grew up in the Tampa area and got his start in the business in the Bay area, opened the press conference.

KC Joyner, ESPN Staff Writer19d ago

King Kong Bundy

Pro wrestler King Kong Bundy dies at age 61

Professional wrestler King Kong Bundy has died at age 61.

This Is SportsCenter: Wrestlers

Wrestlers stand up for themselves.

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SmackDown Live

It took a lot longer than expected, but Samoa Joe finally won his first WWE title on the main roster, choke-slamming and pinning Andrade in a Fatal 4-way (which also included Rey Mysterio and former champ R-Truth) to claim the United States championship. The timing of the title change -- a go-home show ahead of Sunday’s Fastlane pay-per-view -- comes as a surprise, but the reality is Joe, perhaps more than anyone else on either show, has been long overdue for a slice of gold. “For all you SmackDown superstars who [want a shot at this title,] don’t worry, I’ll be here to make you all go night-night soon enough,” Joe said backstage immediately afterward.

Matt Wilansky, ESPN.com21d ago

Sure, she’s got a bum knee, but her heart has made up for any physical ailments. As SmackDown Live’s go-home show came to a close, Charlotte Flair attacked Becky Lynch (a night after Ronda Rousey beat the stuffing out of her). But despite the pummeling, Becky was able to muster the energy to put her longtime foe in a Dis-Arm-Her, showing Charlotte nothing is going to stop her from winning the Raw women’s championship this coming Sunday and Fastlane and, as importantly, insert her name back into the WrestleMania card.

Matt Wilansky, ESPN.com21d ago

Tensions rose and tempers soared Tuesday on a fast-paced edition of SmackDown Live. Aleister Black and Ricochet beat The Bar, and afterward they were attacked by Rusev and Shinsuke Nakamura before the Hardy Boyz came in for the rescue. Black and Ricochet were then given a shot at the Raw tag-team gold at Fastlane, where they will take on Bobby Roode & Chad Gable and current champs The Revival in a triple-threat battle. Kevin Owens also received an unlikely assist after he was beaten down by Rowan and Daniel Bryan, when Mustafa Ali returned from a concussion to quell the champ and his intellectual equal. But something says Owens won’t have such luck come Sunday’s showdown for the title.

Matt Wilansky, ESPN.com21d ago

Monday Night Raw

It took a winding, sometimes confusing and, at times, truly frustrating path, but the road to a WrestleMania 35 triple threat main event for the Raw women's championship finally seems clear. After teasing that the Raw women's title had been vacated earlier in the night, a contract signing to close out Monday Night Raw and put Becky Lynch back into action predictably went awry. Upon Ronda Rousey's march to the ring, Stephanie McMahon handed her back the Raw women's championship, and the match at Fastlane on Sunday between Lynch and Charlotte Flair was changed; Lynch can now win her way back into the WrestleMania main event by defeating Flair. Rousey dropped her facade and she swore off everyone -- Lynch, Flair, McMahon and the fans alike -- before dropping a hobbled Lynch with strikes and several vicious-looking armbars. If history is any indicator, the Flair-Lynch match should be a fun one, but boy, did this story get more complicated and convoluted than it needed to be.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com22d ago

Triple H addressed Batista's attack on Ric Flair by making the confrontation personal and digging into the real life personal moments that had bonded Triple H and Flair. Topics ranged from Flair's son dying to his health scare and near-death experiences, and Triple H made sure to position Batista as a sick person for what he did. Batista used his Instagram to crap on Philly and position himself as the undeniable villain -- but we'll have to see what happens the first time "I Walk Alone" hits inside an arena. We'll find out next week, as Triple H and Batista will meet face-to-face on Raw.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com22d ago

Roman Reigns started the night on Raw with one goal in mind, but it wasn't to put himself between Seth Rollins, WrestleMania and the Universal championship -- it was to reunite The Shield for one more match. Rollins was quickly convinced, but it took a three-on-two attack for Dean Ambrose to enter the fray -- setting up a six-man tag team match at Fastlane against Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre and Baron Corbin. Earlier in the night, that same villainous team defeated Braun Strowman, Finn Balor and Kurt Angle and laid waste to Balor and Angle post-match. In other action, Aleister Black & Ricochet's Raw tag title chance was ended by DQ when Chad Gable & Bobby Roode attacked The Revival; Natalya defeated Ruby Riott by roll-up, and went face-to-face with Lacey Evans after the match; Heavy Machinery defeated The B-Team, Ascension and Curt Hawkins & Zack Ryder in a gauntlet match; Tamina defeated Sasha Banks one-on-one ahead of Sunday's tag team title match; and Elias scored a clean victory over Ambrose, after hitting Ambrose with a guitar early in the night.

Tim Fiorvanti, ESPN.com22d ago

Ric Flair

The robes of Ric Flair

All eyes were on Ric Flair, and his robes, every time he stepped into the ring. Here are the stories of some of his most memorable robes and the matches in which he wore them.

Flair emotional at surprise 70th birthday party

0:56

Roman Reigns

WWE's Reigns to return, says cancer in remission

After stepping away from the WWE in October to focus on his health, Roman Reigns announced Monday night that his leukemia is in remission and he plans to return to ring action.

Reigns: 'Amazing' to be back in WWE ring

WWE superstar Roman Reigns reacts to his return to the ring to announce that he is in remission from his battle with leukemia.

1:01

Roman Reigns announces he's in remission

0:45

WWE

Paige 'blown away' when she first was told by The Rock about her new movie

1:37

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