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WWE Wrestlemania 38 (Night 1 )
by Scrooge McSuck
Live from the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX. Remember the last WrestleMania in Dallas? It sucked. We immediately waste time by having the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders do a little routine at the top of the ramp. As a life-long New York Giants fan, I don't care.
Smackdown Tag Team Championship Match:
The Usos (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs:
Shinsuke held the Intercontinental Title for most of 2021 and did f*ck-all with the belt for almost the entire run. No matter how much I grow frustrated with the WWE product, the Shinsuke theme will always slap hard. At least Shinsuke and Boogs are color-coordinated and the Uso's are still down since Day 1 is H. Shinsuke lights up Jimmy with kicks coming out of the gate. Running knee into the midsection for the first pin attempt. Jey with the blind tag, which seems pointless since they pull off a double-team move without the surprise coming into play. Why does Michael Cole's play-by-play sound like some generic lines from a 2K game? Shinsuke teases a comeback, but Jimmy connects with a spinning enzuigiri for two. Shinsuke returns fire and tags in Boogs. He clubs people with axe-handles and catches Jey in a bear-hug. He transitions into a delayed vertical suplex for a near-fall. Boogs tries holding up both of the Uso's with a fireman's carry, but the knee buckles. Shinsuke tags in, which feels like a wasted opportunity for good heat on the guy with an injury, unless it's legit (afterwards, he's being tended to and doesn't factor in the rest of the match). Shinsuke hits both men with a plancha and works over Jey with his signature strikes. Jey cuts off the Kinshasa with a Super-Kick and Jimmy hits a splash from the top rope for a two-count. Jimmy tattles Shinsuke with another Super-Kick and they hit him with a 3-D for three at 6:54. Boogs ended up with a torn quadriceps, so yeah, awful injury for the guy on the biggest show. Match was fine until the abrupt finish. **
Drew McIntyre vs. Happy Corbin (w/ Madcap Moss):
I kind of wish that Corbin's "down on his luck" character lasted a little longer and led to a babyface run, but nope, this is the same old Corbin, but making corny jokes. Speaking of corny jokes, Madcap Moss won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on WrestleMania Smackdown. McIntyre attacks with right hands. Whip to the corner and McIntyre with a clothesline. Corbin fights off the ropes, only to get clotheslined over the top rope. McIntyre follows, ramming him into the barricade. Corbin cuts him off going through the ropes and rams him into the post. Back inside, Corbin with a back suplex for two. Why is the referee allowing Moss to hang out on the apron? The distraction is at Corbin's expense, allowing McIntyre to plant Happy with a spine-buster. McIntyre with a pair of clotheslines and an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. McIntyre with a neck breaker but Corbin blocks the DDT and hits Deep Six for a near-fall. McIntyre counters the chokeslam and dives off the top rope with a clothesline. He signals for the Claymore, but Corbin bails out with a little help from Moss. McIntyre follows, hitting both men with a tope con hilo. Moss takes an overhead belly-to-belly on the floor, because that's a spot we should do after what happened to Big E. Back inside, McIntyre swings through End of Days. Corbin ducks the Claymore and hits End of Days for a near-fall. McIntyre with the DDT out of nowhere, and the Claymore finishes at 8:39. Post-match, McIntyre attempts to murder Moss, but only ends up slicing up the ropes with the sword. I hope that comes out of his winnings. This was better than I expected, probably because it didn't overstay its welcome. **½
Random note: 17 years ago, at WrestleMania X-Seven, Bobby Heenan quipped that by the time the Iron Sheik gets to the ring (for the Gimmick Battle Royal), it'll be time for WrestleMania 38. Well, here we are. The joke has officially become dated. RIP Heenan. Still one of the best to ever do it.
Rey & Dominik Mysterio vs. The Miz & Logan Paul:
The Miz seems a bit upset that the Mysterio's keep getting moments to shine, so LET'S HAVE A MATCH. Throw in Logan Paul for celebrity relevance and you have a recipe for a WRESTLEMANIA MOMENT. I want to say the Mysterio's ring gear looks familiar, but I can't put my finger on it. I've never seen two more people I'd like to punch than Miz and Logan Paul, so they're doing their jobs. Rey and Miz start. Rey falls for a distraction from the apron, allowing Miz to get the jump. Logan Paul tags in, peppering Rey with rights and lefts to the body. Crisscross and Mysterio lands a kick to the head as Paul does a split. Double leg-sweep from the Mysterio's, followed by a combo sunset splash. Dominik with a springboard moonsault on Miz, followed by a combo arm drag and head-scissors to clear the ring. Dominik isn't done, hitting Miz (mostly) with a springboard corkscrew plancha. More distractions allow Miz to take control on Dominik. Logan Paul with a running powerslam for two. Miz and Paul take turns throwing Miz-Kicks. Dominik fights out of a chin-lock and takes Miz over with a back-slide for two. Logan Paul hits a blockbuster for two. Dominik continues taking a beating in the corner. He fights free, pushing off Paul to plant Miz with a tornado DDT. Rey with the hot tag, taking Miz over with a flying head-scissors. Rey rolls through a sunset flip and hits a kick to the face for two. Dominik saves Papa from a double suplex, allowing Rey to cradle Miz for a near-fall. Drop toe hold into the ropes. Miz pops up to avoid the 6-1-9 but eats another tornado DDT for two. Rey with the Three Amigos. Miz blocks the third suplex, sending Rey into the post. Logan Paul with a straight boot to the face, followed by his own set of the Three Amigos. HE DOES THEM BETTER, TOO! He hits the Frog Splash, but Dominik saves. He dumps Paul and nails Miz with a tope suicida. Paul gets sent into the ropes with a head-scissors and we get a pair of 6-1-9's. Dominik and Rey with Frog Splashes, but Miz made the blind tag, disposes of Dominik, and finishes Rey with the Skull Crushing Finale at 11:16. Post-match, Miz hits Paul with a Skull Crushing Finale to bask in the glory by himself. Good action and a strong performance on the celebrity scale for Logan Paul. ***¼
Stephanie McMahon introduces the WWE Universe to Gable Steveson, Olympic Medalist and NCAA Champion. I must say, the pacing (so far) has been stellar. I'm afraid this won't last, so I'm enjoying it while I can.
Raw Women's Championship Match:
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Bianca Belair:
We recap the rivalry, with Lynch returning from a 16-month hiatus by immediately turning heel and squashing Belair in 26-seconds at SummerSlam. We're constantly reminded in the Kickoff how these two are the only women to win in Main Event(s) of WrestleMania, so clearly, they're the best to ever do this. I'm surprised this is so early in the show. Becky has a new look thanks to Belair butchering her hair on the go-home episode of Raw. Belair gets a marching band entrance, so law of averages points at her losing tonight. Belair offers a handshake and gets slapped. They counter each other's stuff until Lynch hits the Man-Handle Slam for a near-fall. She goes for the disarmer, but Belair is already in the ropes. Lynch repeatedly goes for the cover but can't keep Belair down. She tries using the ropes, but the referee sees it. Belair tries getting fancy with a delayed suplex, allowing Lynch to counter. Belair avoids a moonsault and applies the disarmer herself. We get two-count after two-count with various cradles and roll-ups. Lynch drags Belair to the floor by the hair and sends her into the steps. Back inside, Becky with a release fisherman suplex for two. Belair is left out to dry and hit with a guillotine leg drop for two. She fights out of a chin-lock but has the leg swept out from under her. Lynch with a double-hook suplex into an arm bar, but Belair fights to her feet and breaks the hold by dumping Lynch over the top rope, taking herself to the floor along for the ride. Belair springboards off the ropes and plants Lynch on the floor with a suplex.
Back inside, Belair with right forearms and shoulders to the midsection. Tilt-o-whirl stomach buster gets two. Whip is reversed, Lynch avoids a handspring and counters a powerbomb with a victory roll for two. Belair with a double-hook face-buster, followed by a handspring moonsault for two. Lynch pops up to prevent Belair from diving off the top rope. They fight for position until Belair lifts Lynch into a fireman's carry and drops down with her body crashing across the top turnbuckle. Belair goes to the ropes again, hitting a 450 splash from the middle rope for a near-fall. Becky rolls to the apron, snapping Belair across the top rope. She lands a pair of boots to the throat and back of the head and comes off the top with a somersault heel kick for two. OUCH on that instant replay. Belair catches Becky off the ropes with a spine-buster, but another moonsault attempt meets knees. Disarmer is countered with a roll-up for two. They do another series of pinning combination counters. Lynch hangs on to the ropes to avoid the KOD and gets dumped over the top rope instead. Lynch grabs the hair, ramming Belair's head into the post. Man-Handle Slam onto the steps, but Belair beats the count. Becky greets her immediately with a cradle for two. Belair flips through a Man-Handle Slam and connects with the KOD to regain the gold at 19:08. Heck of a match to pay off Belair climbing the mountain again. Hard to find much to complain about. ****½
Seth Rollins vs. An Opponent of Mr. McMahon's Choosing:
I can't stress enough this weird modern-day booking of "I NEED A WRESTLEMANIA MOMENT" and there being "no clear path" for a main event player to compete on the show. The graphic honestly reads "Seth Freakin' Rollins". I guess that's his official name now. Can you imagine the nightmare it must be for a dashing man like Rollins to not have a match at WrestleMania? It's an uglier thought than an obnoxious neck-tattoo. Remember when I said The Miz and Logan Paul were two people that you want to punch? Seth might have both beat. Rollins' opponent is, of course, the returning Cody Rhodes
, in what is the worst-kept secret of the modern era, and no, it isn't a WWE-version of his music, it's what he's used outside the company. Lockup and stalemate. Crisscross and Cody with a deep arm drag. He does a cartwheel and does an old gesture that was him "shedding the skin of the past" (a.k.a. the stupid Stardust gimmick that drove him away from WWE in the first place). Rollins grabs a side headlock and shoulder block. They block each other's hip toss attempts and Cody drops down to connect with a right hand on the chin. Seth is fed up with sportsmanship and throws a right hand. They counter each other's big shots and fight for a suplex until they go backwards over the top rope. Cody rams Rollins into the post and works the arm. Cody with a questionably low kick between the legs. He sweeps Rollins off the ropes, but Rollins lands on his feet and connects with a jumping roundhouse. Cody quickly cuts him off, twisting the arm and slamming him to the canvas.
Cody goes high risk and is met in mid-air with a dropkick. Rollins with knees to the body, followed by a gut-buster for a one-count. Whip to the corner and Rollins grabs a bear-hug to further punish the ribs. Cody rips at the arm again, so Rollins goes to the body with an elbow. Rollins misses a charge to the corner and gets planted with a snap powerslam. Cody with a head of steam, sending Rollins over the top rope with a clothesline. Cody follows with a tope suicida, knocking Rollins backwards across the table. Back inside, Cody hits a sloppy standing moonsault for two. Rollins lures Cody to the floor and gives him a Buckle Bomb against the barricade. Back inside, Seth hits the springboard knee, super-kick, and falcon arrow for a near-fall. Cody avoids the Stomp and hits Cross Rhodes out of nowhere for two. Cody climbs again and gets hung out to dry. They fight for position until Seth hits a reverse Super-Plex and Curtain Call for two. CODY'S DETERMINATION IS UNDENIABLE. Rollins goes high risk, but Cody avoids the Phoenix Splash. Cody counters the Pedigree but is caught with a cradle for two. Cody with a double under-hook powerbomb and Cody Cutter for two. Rollins with a Pedigree for two. They trade right hands and kicks. Rollins with a forearm to the back of the head. Cody pops up to hit a Cross Rhodes. He holds on with the grip and hits it again. Cody pulls him up, unloads with left jabs, and lands the bionic elbow. One more Cross Rhodes, and Rollins is done at 21:34. This was "putting on a great match for the sake of a great match" with no meat to the story of why this match is happening, and there's nothing wrong with that. Cody's back and had a strong effort in a showcase against one of the best in WWE. ****
The 2022 Hall of Fame Class included Warrior Award Recipient Shad Gaspard (I'm man enough to admit this still makes me cry), Rick and Scott Steiner, Vader, Queen Sharmell, and The Undertaker. Scratch the Steiner Brothers off my list of "we'll never see them on WWE television ever again", mostly because of Scott.
The official attendance is announced at 77,899. Didn't this building hold 100,000 at WrestleMania 32?
Smackdown Women's Championship Match:
Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ronda Rousey:
Ronda returned at the Royal Rumble and immediately gave life back to a division that was seriously lacking on star power. Is there a more naturally unlikable woman than Ronda Rousey? Other than Gina Carano, of course. Lockup to the ropes and Rousey catches Charlotte throwing a right hand. They're playing dirty early on. Rousey with a body scissors trying to transition to the Ankle Lock, but Charlotte escapes. Rousey counters a Figure-Four but can't hook a Triangle. Charlotte escapes to the apron and lands a boot to the face. Rousey cuts her off climbing the ropes and hooks a head-scissors while tied up in the ropes. Charlotte escapes the Ankle Lock again, sending Rousey to the arena floor. Back inside, Charlotte slows things down with a front face-lock. Charlotte cuts off a comeback with a snap mare and clothesline for a two-count. Rousey with a Judo throw and knee to the face for two. Charlotte counters a charge to the corner, sending Rousey into the turnbuckle. Rousey avoids leg work in the ropes and hits a sloppy face-buster for two. Rousey blocks the chop and lands a high roundhouse. She ragdolls Charlotte but showboats and gets hit with a Spear for two.
Rousey counters Natural Selection but is caught by surprise with a back suplex. Charlotte lands on her feet as Rousey avoids the moonsault, then misses the standing moonsault in an ugly blown spot. Rousey with a hip throw into a cover for two. Charlotte traps Rousey in a tree of woe and unloads with boots to the midsection. They do some goofy spot in the ropes that looks like a REALLY BAD Boston Crab. Probably sounded good on paper. Rousey sits up in the corner and hits a flying arm drag for two. She connects with the "Piper's Pit" but can't get the arm bar. Figure-Four is countered again, and Rousey hits another hip throw into a cover. Ankle Lock in the middle of the ring, but Charlotte counters with her own. Charlotte with a spine-buster and jackknife cover for two. More counters and more Ankle Locks. Charlotte gets the Figure-Eight with the highest bridge imaginable, but Rousey somehow rolls through and gets to the ropes. They take it to the floor, with Rousey almost dumped on her head with a clumsy exploder suplex. Back inside, Charlotte with some trash talk. Rousey hits a lazy Samoan drop and covers for three, but the referee sees a foot on the rope and waves it off. Charlotte surprises Rousey with Natural Selection for two. Poor Charles Robinson gets bumped. Rousey makes Charlotte tap to the arm bar, but the referee is still down. Charlotte hits Rousey with the running boot and covers for three at 18:22. WHY GIVE UP THE HOLD IN THE FIRST PLACE? Sloppy and all over the place. They probably had enough to go 10 and went way too long. **¼
The KO Show is the MAIN EVENT, making this the first time a MATCH isn't the advertised Main Event of a WrestleMania card. SERIOUSLY. I wish I was making that up. Kevin Owens doubles down on all the trash talking he's done lately, running down not only Austin, but the state of Texas and the people who proudly identify as Texans. This brings out Austin, and yeah, the glass shatter pop will NEVER get old. He poses, leaves, and returns on his ATV. Owens beats around the bush until he admits this was all a set-up. He didn't want to talk, he wanted Austin here for a fight... and Austin ACCEPTS. WE'RE GETTING A NO HOLDS BARRED MATCH RIGHT NOW.
No Holds Barred Match: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin vs. Kevin Owens:
SWERVE! THIS is the REAL Main Event. I'm typing this in 2022 and I'm not doing some weird fantasy booking. The bell sounds, making this Austin's first match since WrestleMania XIX
. WrestleMania has DOUBLED IN AGE SINCE AUSTIN LAST WORKED A MATCH. We get the traditional slugfest, which Austin wins easily. He works Owens over in the corner, stomping a mudhole in him and walking it dry. This entire time, the camera cuts at least 98 times, and I'm getting a headache. I wish I was making that up, but literally every punch and kick gets AT LEAST one cut, sometimes more. Whip across the ring, with Owen flipping upside down for a crash landing. Austin opens the first of about 11 Steveweiser's and another can of whoop-ass. To the outside, Owens sends Austin into the barricade, but Austin bounces off and turns him inside-out with a clothesline. Owens finally turns things around, sending Austin face-first into the post. He whacks Austin with a tripod and unloads with mounted right hands. Owens whips out a table, propping it against the barricade. They pay it off immediately with Owens going through the lumber. They brawl into the crowd, with Owens giving Austin A SUPLEX ON THE CONCRETE. They slug it out again until Owens buries a knee into the midsection. They return to ringside, with Austin slamming Owens from the barricade and onto the nearby announcer's table. Back in the ring, Owens hangs Austin across the top and tries to run away on Austin's ATV, but Austin cuts him off, drives them both to the top of the ramp, and gives Owens a suplex on the stage. The adrenaline must be pumping full force, as Austin adds a second suplex for the opposite side of the crowd to get a view. Owen takes a log roll down the ramp as the action returns to the ring. Owens with the KICK-WHAM-STUNNER out of nowhere for a near-fall. Owens grabs a chair, bouncing it off the ropes and hitting himself. It's Kick-Wham-Stunner and Austin gets three at 13:56. Post-match, Austin celebrates with a beer bash, another Stunner to Owens, more beer, a Stunner to Byron Saxton with comically over-sold bump, and we're out. This was fun and what you'd expect from a man who retired 20 years ago and was already hindered by a pile of injuries. With that all said, I give this all the stars in the universe.
Final Thoughts: As a lapsed fan, I mostly entertained by this half of WrestleMania 38. The surprise return of Cody was not only a great moment but produced a great match as well. Belair and Becky tore the house down to pay off a storyline that pissed off so many people in the Summer. STONE COLD came back for one last fight and didn't look too bad for a man pushing 60 that hasn't worked a match in almost 20-years. As far as negatives go, it stinks the New Day vs Sheamus and Holland was cut for time when there was at least 45 minutes of hype videos for not just tonight's matches, but promoting WrestleMania Sunday as well, and the less said about Charlotte vs Rousey, the better.
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