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WWE Wrestlemania 37 (Night 1 )
by Scrooge McSuck
LIVE from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, a year late, but you know the old saying, better late than never. Fun Tidbit: It's raining where I am (Sarasota County FL) and my power dropped out for literally 1-second, causing a 10-minute delay for my internet to connection. When did this happen? 6:55 pm. I'm freaking out and then realize there's a Kickoff Show, and the main show doesn't start until 8 pm ET. I ended up watching the Kickoff Show, and I'm glad I did to catch up on the storylines before the event, but MY GOD, the banter among the panel was worse than early 90's Prime Time Wrestling (the Vince roundtable format).
Vince McMahon makes an appearance, along with many of the WWE Superstars, to address the crowd and welcome them to WRESTLEMANIA. Literally before this I did the old Vince growl saying the show's name to get excited. I'm a mark, sometimes.
Bebe Rexha performs America the Beautiful. Is Peter Rosenberg going to act like the hippest guy in the room because I have NO CLUE who she is, and I'm 15 years YOUNGER than the average age of a WWE fan.
AND WE PAUSE WITH A WEATHER DELAY. BECAUSE FLORIDA SUCKS. PEOPLE, TRUST ME, I LIVE HERE YEAR-ROUND, WHERE THE PEOPLE ARE IGNORANT AND THE WEATHER IS ALWAYS ANNOYING.
After a half-hour of promos, we fill more time by introducing the co-hosts of WrestleMania Weekend, Warrior Award recipient Titus O'Neil and multi-time Hall of Famer, Hulk Hogan. I think Titus got the better pop of the two, but I may be wrong.
WWE Championship Match:
Bobby Lashley (c) (w/ MVP) vs. Drew McIntyre:
To catch everyone up, Drew lost the title to the Miz following the Money in the Bank cash-in, and then Lashley destroyed Miz a few weeks later to get to where we are now. Finally, at 8:40 pm ET, we get the entrances for the opening match. Lockup into the ropes and we get a stalemate. They do some chain until Lashley comes off the ropes with a shoulder tackle. McIntyre pops right up and grabs a side headlock. Push-off to the ropes and McIntyre tosses Lashley across the ring before giving him a rude gesture. They trade blows, with Lashley backing McIntyre into the corner. McIntyre turns it around, throwing boots and forearms. Lashley cuts him off with a shot to the throat and throws forearms of his own. Whip is reversed and McIntyre sends Lashley over the top rope with a clothesline. Drew follows and gets rammed into the barricade for his efforts. Back inside, Lashley charges into the corner with a shoulder to the midsection and takes McIntyre down with a swinging neck breaker for our first pin attempt of the night. Lashley misses another charge into the corner, smacking his arm on the post. McIntyre with a code breaker to the arm to set up a cross arm bar, but Lashley blocks and stacks him up to get in position for some ground ‘n' pound. Lashley with a slap to the face and more shoulders into the abdomen. He sends Drew across the ring, with Drew popping out with a clothesline. Whip is reversed and McIntyre with an over-head belly-to-belly suplex. Drew tosses him again and follows with a neck breaker. Lashley blocks the Future Shock, ramming McIntyre into the corner. Lashley meets an elbow charging in and gets caught with a Northern Lights Suplex for a near-fall. Lashley regains control and hits a modified Dominator for two. McIntyre escapes a suplex attempt but walks into a spine-buster for another two-count.
McIntyre blocks the Hurt-Lock (Full Nelson) and unloads with elbows and forearms in the corner. Inverted Alabama Slam for two. Lashley avoids the Super-Plex, straddling McIntyre across the top turnbuckle. Drew audibles, hooking a kimura, but Lashley knocks it loose with short rights. McIntyre pulls himself out of the tree of woe, tossing Lashley off the top rope. He sets up for the Claymore and gets caught with a second spine-buster. Drew nips up as Lashley plays to the crowd too much and tells him to bring it. The slugfest is on, with Lashley backing McIntyre into the ropes. Whip is countered with a belly-to-belly suplex. Drew with a trio of the Future Shock DDT's for two. Drew sets in the corner counting it down for the Claymore, but Lashley bails out. Drew isn't having any of that and hits Lashley and MVP with a tope con hilo! Back inside, Lashley catches McIntyre coming off the top rope and throws him fisherman style. Lashley plants McIntyre face-first and goes for the Hurt Lock, but Drew fights it off, sending Lashley into the turnbuckle. McIntyre with a body-scissors takedown into the kimura but Lashley survives and gets to the ropes. Lashley wins another exchange of blows, using knees to the midsection. He meets a boot in the corner and gets backed up with the Glasgow Kiss. Drew sets up again but MVP distracts him long enough for Lashley to avoid the Claymore. Lashley has the Hurt Lock applied, this time with the fingers locked. Drew kicks off the turnbuckle but Lashley rolls through with him, hold still applied, and Drew is DONE at 18:20. I really thought McIntyre was leaving Champion, but Lashley needed the win to avoid devaluing the title. Great opener, just a hard-hitting Heavyweight fight. ****
Titus O'Neil is backstage with the New World Order, including a costume change from Hulk Hogan. Bayley interrupts, hamming it up for the camera, because WWE couldn't find a spot for her on the card.
Women's Tag Team Turmoil Match:
Winning team faces Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax tomorrow night, because we needed PADDING for this show, I guess. Naomi and Lana
(complete with tandem dance entrance) and Billie Kay and Carmella
start. I picked Naomi and Lana to win, so naturally I'm wrong about that one immediately. Who saw BILLIE KAY making the show and not Peyton Royce? Bless Billie for trying to play along with Carmella's entrance to make it seem like they're a real team. Naomi and Carmella start. Naomi immediately annoys me with the jumping in place kicks, followed by a dropkick. Lana in with a head-scissors and kick to the crown. She comes out of the corner with a bulldog and comes (slowly) off the ropes with knees to the back. Carmella cuts her off and I feel like none of these women have improved since the 2016 brand split (Naomi and Carmella, that is). BIllie tags in and gets taken down with a NOT-REALLY-RUSSIAN leg sweep from Lana. Naomi tags in and rubs BIllie's face into her butt. Lana completely whiffs on a roundhouse kick. Double X-Factor but Carmella saves. God, help me. Billie Kay rolls Naomi up and steals the pin at 2:21 (with a slight assist from Carmella).
Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott in next. How many Harley Quinn cosplays do we need? Liv nearly whiffs a shotgun dropkick on Billie Kay. Drop toe hold into the ropes and a cradle for two. Riott gets dumped over the top as Billie fights her way to her corner. Carmella back in with kicks to the midsection, followed by the seated corner splash. Kay with a suplex and Carmella with a short Super-Kick for two. Riott gets taken out again. The referee catches the sunset flip assisted cover, saving Morgan from being pinned. Liv with double knees and Riott with a flying senton for three at 4:56 to send Kay and Carmella home. Carmella isn't happy and nails Liv with a Super-Kick. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke in next, and Mandy slips and falls on her ass on the way to the ring in tribute to Ultimo Dragon. JESUS CHRIST. Mandy hits Riott with the high knee. Dana with a (kind of) Block Buster but Liv saves. Why is Mandy wearing that awful wig? The short hair look is perfectly fine, unless it's for team synergy or some other nonsense. Brooke with a spinning neck breaker for two. Riott fights out of the corner and nobody cares. TWO MATCHES IN AND THE FIRST LIVE CROWD IS ON THEIR HANDS. Liv with the hot tag, hitting Mandy with a step-up enzuigiri and driving her face-first to the canvas for a two-count. Riott Kick connects (I think) but Brooke saves. Even Michael Cole can't be bothered to know which one is Dana and which is Mandy. Now it's Liv's turn to fight out of the corner, but it backfires, and they hit a combo Super-Plex and Senton... and then Liv reverses the pin with a cradle for three at 9:16. And then the announcer says the Riott Squad was eliminated. OH MY GOD.
Natalya and Tamina are the last team. PLEASE BE SHORT. Natalya goes for the Sharpshooter but Morgan cradles her for two. Neidhart blocks a victory roll, slamming Liv across the top rope. Tamina in with right hands to the side of the head. Liger-Bomb from Natalya but Riott saves. Natalya keeps screaming to make up for the dead crowd. Riott gets the hot tag, and they nearly botch a tandem spot. Surprised? They do the double knees and senton on Tamina, but it only gets two. GOTTA PROTECT THAT UP-AND-COMER! Tamina nails Liv with a Super-Kick. Natalya back in, taking eight years to hit the Hart Attack. She teases the Sharpshooter but tags in Tamina to come off the top with the Superfly Splash, and that gets three at 14:05. I thought they were going to get by without using their family legacies. AND TAMINA GETS THE BIG SHINE? Sure, if it keeps Nikki and Brie away. This was the worst WrestleMania match I've seen in years. Almost every major spot was botched or executed in slow motion. ZERO STARS
Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins:
Thank God, even these two on their worst day will be lightyears ahead of that last disaster. This is Cesaro's 1st singles match at WrestleMania after 10 years with the company. At least he's usually on the show, even if it was often in multi-tag team cluster matches. Cesaro charges at Rollins and hits him with a forearm uppercut. Dragon screw but Seth avoids the swing, pulling himself out of the ring. He flips in and gets nailed with a corkscrew springboard uppercut. Seth bails again and gets nailed leaning in with a knee lift. Cesaro reaches over and Seth hangs the arm across the top rope. Seth climbs but Cesaro unsteadies him with a dropkick. Cesaro climbs up, hooking Rollins around the waist, but Seth counters into a sunset flip and Buckle Bomb for two. Rollins cuts off the comeback attempt, dumping Cesaro to the apron and hitting the Super-Plex Falcon Arrow combo for a near-fall. Cesaro counters a hangman's neck breaker with a back-slide for two. Cesaro with more uppercuts, backing Seth into the corner for more punishment. He sends Rollins from corner to corner and comes off the ropes with a discus clothesline for two. I'll never stop loving the discus clothesline spot. Rollins counters the swing with a cradle for two. Cesaro picks the legs again but Seth pulls himself to his feet and connects with an enzuigiri. Cesaro finally catches Seth with the swing and gives him 10 rotations before hooking the Sharpshooter. Rollins counters the Neutralizer and avoids a charging uppercut. Seth with a springboard high knee and sling-blade. Rollins climbs and hits a corkscrew splash for two. You don't see that every day. Cesaro with the Neutralizer out of nowhere for two. Rollins counters another attempt and hits a Pedigree for two. SPAM THOSE FINISHERS! Seth wastes time, proclaiming himself a God. He pops Cesaro on the back of the neck with a forearm, followed by a heel kick. Cesaro counters the Stomp with the uppercut and gives Rollins the AIRPLANE SPIN, doing many rotations without his arms. Cesaro takes Rollins around for another swing and finishes with the Neutralizer at 11:28. Sometimes a good sprint is better than dragging things out trying to be epic. ***½
Highlights of Smackdown's Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, won by Jey Uso, last eliminating Shinsuke Nakamura. Also on the show, Ziggler and Roode retained the Smackdown Tag Team Titles in a Four-Way over the Street Profits, Dominik and Rey Mysterio, and Gable and Otis. Why couldn't either of those be squeezed into a spot on this show and keep that Turmoil Turd off the PPV?
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match:
The New Day (c) vs. A.J. Styles & Omos:
This is the in-ring debut of Omos, the 7'3" giant that has been Styles' muscle for the last few months. Big E gives the big introduction to his former New Day brothers, who are sporting Tampa Bay Buccaneers gear for the occasion. Omos teases starting, but better heads prevail. Kofi and Styles trade counters early, including failed attempts at an SOS and Calf crusher. Styles grabs a side headlock, but Kofi flips him overhead for a face-plant landing. Anyone know how many Francesca's there has been over the years? Woods picks the ankle following a blind tag and a tandem spot nets them a near-fall. Woods trash talks about cutting the ring in half and A.J. not being a tag team wrestler. The New Day with the Unicorn Stampede for old time's sake. Yes, at this point, the New Day are becoming retro. Styles fights to his corner but Omos is short-arming his own partner for some reason. Just a little lean over the rope and you're there, dude. Bulldog on A.J. for two. New Day are legitimately 11-TIME CHAMPIONS?! That better not include trading belts (literally) with the Street Profits when the teams switched shows. Styles tries to run around the ring to get to his corner but Woods cuts him off. Kofi with a flying double stomp for two. Springboard frog splash for two. Styles finally fights out of the corner and tags in Omos, and THAT'S A BABYFACE POP. Woods throws kicks that Omos ignores. A shotgun dropkick barely budges the giant. Omos blocks whatever Kofi was going for and flicks him across the ring. He nails Woods and Kofi in opposite corners with avalanche crashes and holds Woods across the knee with a back breaker. Styles dives off Omos' shoulders with the Phenomenal Forearm and Omos finishes with a sky-high spine-buster at 9:47. And the fans loved it. Omos and Styles are the heels, by the way. Decent story, not so much to speak of otherwise. **
Steel Cage Match:
Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon:
This whole feud is based on Shane calling Braun stupid. The same guy who went on Twitter during the pandemic, shaming Indy wrestlers for their lack of cash flow because they should've gotten better paying jobs. You know, maybe Shane is the babyface here. Who knows anymore? We'll see the over/under clock at 2:00 before Elias and the MAGA endorsing pr*ck interfere. Lawler joins the table for this one, making his 26th appearance at a WrestleMania. Pin, Submission, and Escape gets the Dub. Shane clings onto the door for dear life to keep Braun out. IT'S A TRAP, as Shane's Goons attack with chairs. The bell rings and Shane whacks at Braun with the chair, having to avoid head shots otherwise it would shorten the match significantly. Braun blocks a headshot, but it hits him anyway. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy. Shane goes for the door but Braun blocks. "There's nowhere to run" except all four sides of the ring without a roof. Moron. Shane pulls a piece of "sheet metal" off the top of the cage and whacks Braun with that next. Braun kicks out of a pin attempt, with Shane doing a tribute to Shawn from SummerSlam ‘05 with the over-sell. Braun sends Shane into the cage and unloads with right hands. Shane escapes the Powerslam, sending Braun into the steel and taking him down with a DDT. Shane with a PG version of a Coast-for-Coast, complete with awful camera angle to hide in case he missed it. Shane's cronies try to pull him up and out, but Braun tackles the cage to knock everyone down. Shane conveniently lands inside the ring instead of the momentum sending him over the top like physics would suggest. Shane whips out a toolbox stashed on top of the cage and smacks Braun with it. Shane climbs out and reaches into the cage to mockingly wave goodbye, and you know the deal. Braun SOMEHOW RIPS THE CAGE APART TO PULL SHANE BACK IN THE RING. At least he didn't magically pull him over. Braun throws Shane from the top of the cage into the ring with a sickening thud. Strowman continues to fight for anyone ever called stupid and hits the powerslam for three at 11:28. I'm giving it a bonus point for the creative way of getting Shane in the ring again. ¼*
Bayley shows up at ringside to interrupt Michael Cole as he's introducing the Hall of Fame Class of 2020. The inductees include the New World Order (Hogan, Hall, Nash and Syxx), John "Bradshaw" Layfield, Nikki and Brie Bella, Jushin "Thunder" Liger, "The British Bulldog" Davey Boy Smith, William Shatner (for the celebrity wing), and Titus O'Neil (the Warrior Award recipient). Can we somehow shoehorn another Hogan appearance where he uses American Made or Voodoo Child?
WrestleMania (38) comes to Dallas. Can't be worse than the /wrestling/flashback_reviews/wwe/wrestlemania/wrestlemania"plast time it was in Dallas (32).
Damian Priest & Bad Bunny vs. The Miz & John Morrison:
The hype video covers the fact this is a bit of a head-scratching feud. Credit to WWE getting a relevant celebrity, even if I'm an old nerd who doesn't follow the music scene anymore. This was originally penciled in as Miz vs. Bad Bunny, but thank goodness, someone thought better of that and added Priest and Morrison to make it somewhat watchable. Someone must've found the stock of left-over Bunny outfits from the Adam Rose days, as we get a bunch of hopping geeks. Miz immediately hides in the corner, demanding Bunny to get in the ring. Bunny obliges, with Miz showing zero respect. Bunny lands a right hand, making Miz rethink his strategy. Miz blocks a waist-lock but can't avoid getting popped on the jaw again. Miz tosses him in the corner but Bunny fires back, picking the legs and throwing mounted rights. Bunny flips through a hip toss, sending Miz out of the ring with an arm drag. Back inside, Bunny with a drop toe hold and magistral cradle for two. Morrison offers some sage advice for Miz to get his head into the game. Miz with a boot to the midsection and Bunny wipes himself out getting tossed out of the ring. He comes back in through the legs and comes off the ropes with a spinning head-scissors. Morrison tags in and gets rocked with a headbutt. Morrison catches him charging into the corner with an elbow and Miz adds a cheap shot from the apron. Miz controls, taunting Priest while having Bunny trapped in a chin-lock. Bunny fights out of the corner but Miz cuts off the tag attempt. Miz with a boot to the face and short DDT. This feels like the match was laid out as a singles that was switched to a tag at the last minute. Morrison comes in and does a spin-a-rooni with Booker T sitting in on commentary. Miz takes a shot at Priest on the apron, distracting the referee for some double-team stomping. Bunny with another comeback, taking Miz out of the corner with a tornado DDT. Priest with the hot tag, running wild with right hands and kicks. A suplex on Miz also wipes out Morrison. Chokeslam on Miz for two. Bunny in and we get synchronized Falcon Arrows for a near-fall. Priest takes Miz and Morrison out with a tope and the Bunny joins in on the fun with a dive from the top rope, smacking the floor face-first on the way down. Back inside, Miz hits Priest with the Skull Crushing Finale but Bunny saves. Bunny with a CANDIAN BUNNY DESTROYER to Morrison on the floor. Priest boots Miz down and they finish him with a crossbody doomsday device at 15:03. This is on the higher end of the celebrity performance chart, but the match went a little too long for my taste. **½
Rundown of WrestleMania Night #2: Randy Orton vs. The Fiend (with Alexa Bliss)! Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley! Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn (with Logan Paul!) Big E vs. Apollo Crews in a Nigerian Drum Fight! Riddle vs. Sheamus! Shayna and Nia vs Natalya and Tamina! Roman Reigns vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan! HOSTED BY TITUS AND HULK!
Smackdown Women's Championship Match:
Sasha Banks (c) vs. Bianca Belair:
Main Event of Night #1, though the build has been uninspiring. Belair won the Women's Royal Rumble Match, so it's nice they honor the stipulation of "Main Eventing WrestleMania" by giving them the final spot on the show, and not somewhere in the middle as "one of the Main Events." Lockup into the ropes and a clean break. Lockup and Banks sends Belair to the canvas. Belair nips up, unimpressed with Sasha's attempts to show her up. Crisscross and a series of counters leads to some taunting from Belair. Banks goes for the Bank Statement but Belair blocks. She goes for the TKO, also unsuccessful. Banks counters a double chicken-wing, sending Belair to the floor. She backs Belair up with a baseball slide and sends her into the post. Sasha with a tope suicida, but Belair rolls through with it, picks Banks into a press slam, WALKS UP THE STAIRS AND DUMPS HER BACK IN THE RING. Sasha catches Belair on the chin with a dropkick but only gets a two-count. Belair continues to show her strength, but a handspring is countered as Banks grabs the ponytail and hits a running knee for two. Snap mare out of the corner into a chin-lock. We cut to a wide shot to sell the Snickers sponsorship. WOW, THAT'S LAME. Whip to the corner, Belair counters the double knees with a brutal spine-buster. Banks bails out, holding onto the ponytail. Belair pulls her into the steps then avoids the double knees, causing Sasha to crash into the guardrail. Back inside, Belair with a delayed suplex despite Sasha's best attempts at countering. Banks keeps going for the hair, but it backfires again, with Belair running through her with shoulder tackles and a dropkick. Belair with a running SSP and a double chicken-wing into a face-plant. She makes the trip to the top rope and meets knees going for a 450 splash.
Both women back to their feet, with Belair quickly going for a roll-up for two. Banks with a back-slide for two. She nails Belair with a knee to the face but a head-scissors is countered with a Powerbomb. Belair pulls her up and hits a second Powerbomb before stacking Sasha up for a two-count. She tries a third but Banks counters with a face-buster. Banks with a Tornado DDT for two. Frog Splash for two. Cole called it a Meteora, so either he had a brain fart, or they were supposed to do something else. Banks takes the action to the floor, sending Belair into the steps. Back inside, Bank ties Belair up with her braid before applying the Bank Statement. Banks pushes off the ropes to get better position but Belair rolls through to get to the ropes for the break. Sasha with more trash talk, triggering an offensive explosion from Belair. She straddles Banks across the top turnbuckle, but Sasha fights her down. Belair gets caught in the tree of woe but is able to avoid the double knees. Belair escapes her prison, climbs the ropes and hits the 450 splash for two. Belair visibly looked like she was second-guessing herself. Banks avoids the TKO again and goes for the hair, but Belair shakes her loose and whips her hard across the chest. They go through another sequence of counters until Belair hits the TKO (KOD) for three and the Championship at 17:19. That almost felt a little rushed. I could nitpick a few things, but this was a really good match to close the show, and hopefully they don't waste Belair's potential. ***¾
Final Thoughts: They opened and closed the show with quality matches, peppered with a fun banger between Cesaro and Rollins as well as an excellent performance from Bad Bunny. The Turmoil was awful, and I didn't need to see more than 5-seconds of Braun and Shane, but those two matches weren't enough to drag down the rest of the card. Fun night overall, looking forward to Night #2 which has a more promising lineup.
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