The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 37 – Night One
Live from Tampa Bay, FL
Your hosts are Michael Cole and Tom Philips and Samoa Joe and Corey Graves
Vince McMahon and all the wrestlers join us on the stage to start, welcoming everyone back with one more “WRESTLEMANIA!”. And then Bebe Rexha does America the Beautiful in a leather outfit with boobs from sea to shining sea. Really brings a tear to your eye.
BUT FIRST! Even God almighty thinks having 25,000 people in a stadium is a bad idea and we get the first ever Wrestlemania WEATHER DELAY. So this gives us the amazing visual of Michael Cole and Samoa Joe in PONCHOS and improvised interviews in the back for the first 30 minutes. And with a couple of exceptions, they’re pretty good! Why don’t they do that shit for pre-game shows instead of having to listen to JBL and whatever podcasters for an hour?
Titus O’Neil and his best friend Hulk Hogan join us to host the show and stall for a bit more time to wait out the rain. This was pretty brutal. But on the bright side, Hulk has now solved racism.
WWE title: Bobby Lashley v. Drew McIntyre
Drew seems really excited to have fans again, as I’m sure they all are. I’m not sure why this is opening when I can’t see fans being particularly invested in the half-assed Sasha-Bianca “main event” but maybe they’re setting up a Becky return or something. They trade lockups and Drew throws him down, which prompts a slugfest before Lashley bails to the floor and they brawl out there. Back in, Lashley takes over with a neckbreaker out of the corner for two and pounds away on the mat. Lashley misses a blind charge and Drew takes him down with a cross armbreaker, only for Lashley to escape with the POUND AND GROUND. But then Drew comes back with some suplexes and his own neckbreaker to make the comeback. Northern lights suplex gets two. Lashley hits him with a Dominator for two, but Drew fights back, so Lashley chokeslams for two. This sets up the full nelson, but Drew takes him to the corner and we get FOURTEEN MILLION CAMERA CUTS from that one simple move. Alabama Slam gets two for Drew. They fight to the top rope and Drew slips while trying for the superplex and gets hung in the Tree of Woe, but he sits up and pulls Lashley down, only to walk into another chokeslam. But then Drew pops up and hits Lashley with a suplex and a pair of Future Shock DDTs and a third one for two. He tries the Claymore and Lashley runs away to escape, so Drew hits him with a somersault tope that is more about enthusiasm than execution. Back in, Lashley hits him with a Flatliner to set up the full nelson, but Drew runs him into the corner to break and then rolls him into a kimura on the mat. Lashley makes the ropes and they slug it out, but Drew headbutts him into the corner and sets up the Claymore again, only for MVP to distract him this time. This allows Lashley to get the full nelson, but Drew powers out of it and pushes himself off the ropes, only to succumb at 18:21. THE FUCK? Way to shit on the fans in the very first match. This was a good power match that built well to the end, but then Drew lost so I’m confused. ***3/4
Meanwhile, Bayley annoys the nWo and Scott Hall’s grandma.
TAG TEAM TURMOIL
Lana & Naomi v. Carmella & Billie Kay
We’ll see how forgiving the crowd is tonight, I guess. Naomi boots Carmella down to start and Lana comes in with a bulldog but gets caught in the corner for 10 seconds of heat before making a hot tag to Naomi. Naomi hits Kay with a springboard kick and THEY’RE HAVING FUN MAGGLE as a double facejam gets two. But then Kay rolls up Lana for the pin at 2:45 to move on.
Billie Kay & Carmella v. Liv Morgan & Ruby Riott
The Squad double-teams Kay and Ruby rolls her up for one, but Kay fights them off SINGLE-HANDEDLY and it’s back to Carmella for a broncobuster on Morgan and a superkick from Kay for two. Kay tries another rollup finish on Morgan but that only gets two this time, and the Riott Squad double-teams her for the pin at 4:58 to advance.
Liv Morgan & Ruby Riott v. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke
Sadly, Mandy pulls a Joe Biden and slips on the way to the ring. Also, there are streetwalkers who would say that the outfits are a bit much. They immediately double-team Ruby and Dana gets a blockbuster for two. They double-team Ruby in the corner with stuff but she makes a hot tag to Liv, who gets a double stomp on Mandy’s back for two. Stereo kicks from the Riott Squad get two and Liv trades small packages with one of the blondes and gets the pin at 9:45, which the ring announcer calls for the wrong team and then corrects himself.
Liv Morgan & Ruby Riott v. Natalya & Tamina
This has been quite the assortment of shitty random teams. Nattie and Tamina double-team Liv as Cole informs us that their name is “Statement Makers, Bone Breakers and Title Takers”, which I’m thinking won’t fit easily on a t-shirt. Ruby gets a tag somehow and they double-team Tamina in their corner and hit their double knees into senton combo, but it only gets two. But then Ruby gets double-teamed with a Hart Attack into Nattie’s Sharpshooter, but then she changes her mind and Tamina goes up with the superfly splash instead to win at 14:03. So apparently we get to watch these two in a title match on tomorrow’s show. Thanks for the warning. This entire thing was like -* total and probably one of the worst matches in Wrestlemania history, and I hope no one bitches about AEW’s women’s division for a while after watching these makeshift teams blow spots for 10 minutes straight.
Meanwhile, WWE superstars tell us to go get vaccinated. I’d love to, someone should let our incompetent prime minister know.
Cesaro v. Seth Rollins
OK, Seth’s new theme might be terrible, but the political burial ad before Cesaro’s entrance was pretty funny. Cesaro goes for the swing immediately and gets foiled, but then takes Seth down again and gets foiled again. So he hits an uppercut and chases Seth to the apron. He tries to bring him back in with a gutwrench, but Seth escapes and hits the buckle bomb for two. They slug it out and head to the top, where Seth brings him down with the superplex into the falcon arrow for two. Cesaro with a backslide for two and they slug it out in the corner, which is won by Cesaro. He hits the running uppercuts and a lariat for two off that. This sets up the swing, but Seth reverses to a rollup for two. He tries the stomp, but Cesaro counters with the Giant Swing this time, but has to stop at 9 and switch to the Sharpshooter instead. Seth makes the ropes and dodges a charge, then hits the flying knee and sling blade. Rollins goes up with a corkscrew splash for two for our first SHOCKED TWO COUNT FACE of the night. I mean, it wasn’t THAT shocking. Cesaro fires off the Neutralizer out of nowhere for two, and he also is shocked at the two count that results. So he tries another one, but Seth reverses him to a Pedigree for two and he too is SHOCKED at not winning with that. So he hits Cesaro with an elbow to the neck to put him down, but Cesaro counters the stomp with an uppercut and then does an airplane spin torture rack with NO HANDS, which is damn impressive. This sets up the Giant Swing 2.0 and he gets 23 rotations this time, and then finishes with the Neutralizer at 11:23. This was a good TV match but they were fighting an uphill battle after the last match. ***1/2 Good for Cesaro to get his moment.
Meanwhile, Jey Uso wins the ARMBAR on Smackdown and RooDolph retain the tag titles. Frankly I didn’t even know they were the champions.
RAW World tag team titles: The New Day v. AJ Styles & Omos
Kofi and AJ trade rollups to start and AJ grabs a headlock, but AJ flips him onto his face to break. Xavier serenades AJ with the trombone to celebrate, and Kofi does some dancing before Woods gets a splash for two. Cute bit as Xavier makes sure to yell over to the desk that they’re “EFFECTIVELY CUTTING THE RING IN HALF” to help out Michael Cole while they hold AJ in the corner, and then he adds “AJ THIS IS WHY YOU ARE NOT A TAG TEAM WRESTLER!” for some extra shit talking. The New Day switches off with mudhole stomps for two. Xavier holds a headlock on the mat to keep AJ from tagging, and a double bulldog gets two. They toss AJ and send him into the railing, and back in for two. AJ fights off Woods like he’s a babyface, but Kofi cuts off his hot tag attempt with a splash for two. Finally AJ fights off the big bad New Day and makes the hot tag to Omos for his in-ring debut. So he literally stands there while the New Day bounces off him and cowers in fear. He hits Xavier with a backbreaker, as well as Kofi, and AJ springs off his shoulders with a forearm on Woods to take him out of the ring. Omos hits Kofi with a tree slam and pins him with one foot to win the titles at 9:50. Well as long as they don’t need Omos to bend at the waist ever, I guess he’ll be fine. This was a very oddly structured match and a complete waste of AJ, who got his ass kicked for the entire match by the supposed babyface champions. *1/2
Cage match: Braun Strowman v. Shane McMahon
Shane gets a chair from Elias and beats on Braun to start, but he calls for the door and can’t get away yet. Shane boxes him with some body shots and tries to run out of the cage, and then pulls a piece of metal off the cage and beats on Braun with that. He goes for the door again, but Braun hauls him back in and throws him around while Shane appears to be on the verge of a heart attack. Shane escapes the powerslam and gets his flopping fish DDT and coast to coast dropkick for two. Shane tries to climb out with the help of his cronies, but Braun hauls him down and they’re both out, probably because Shane had another heart attack. So they fight to the top again and this time Shane finds a toolbox at the top of the cage and knocks Braun down with that, but takes too long climbing out and gets caught by Braun. Braun rips the cage open and brings Shane back in for a neat visual. Back to the top of the cage and Braun tosses him back into the ring for the obligatory Shane Bump, and the powerslam finishes at 11:25. This was OK. **
Meanwhile, we get the Hall of Fame video package that probably could have been cut out to make up for the rain delay. Like, come on, they split the fucking show into TWO NIGHTS and they still can’t keep it under three hours? Poor Scott Hall looks like he can barely stand upright out there, although X-Pac looks like he wants to campaign for one more match. I heard AEW is still hiring.
Bad Bunny & Damian Priest v. Miz & John Morrison
We get the ring filled with people in bunny costumes and Miz & Morrison rapping their way to the ring, so I think we’re already starting in the negative stars. And then we get an ENDLESS video package and giant elaborate entrance for the babyfaces, complete with Bad Bunny riding in on top of Optimus Prime and I’m like JUST GET ON WITH IT ALREADY.
Exactly. Also I still don’t know who Bad Bunny is, sorry. I do know that there’s a bunny that hangs out in my local park and he’s kind of a jerk who baits my idiot dog into barking at him while we’re out for walks, but I’m assuming they’re not related. Bad Bunny starts with Miz and punches him in the face to start for your ESPN highlight of the night, or NBC Sports highlight or whatever. Bunny takes Miz down with an armdrag and chases him out of the ring, and back in for a rollup that gets two. So Johnny Drip-Drip gives Miz a peptalk and Miz tosses Bunny, with Bunny kind of flailing down and clotheslining himself on the ropes, but he recovers with a spinning headscissors on Miz before running into an elbow from JoMo. The heels double-team him and Miz goes to a chinlock, but Bunny gets a sunset flip for two. Morrison cuts him off again and runs him into the announce table on the floor, and they double-team Bunny. Look, he clearly loves and respects wrestling and is welcome at the wrestling fan picnics now, but he’s been in there for 10 minutes, it’s time to bring Priest in because this is boring. Bunny fights back with a DDT out of the corner as Booker notes that you can call him the Energizer Bunny now. I’m pretty sure that Energizer would sue them into the stone age if they tried that. Finally it’s hot tag Priest and he runs wild after standing on the apron for 12 minutes and chokeslams Miz for two. Everyone slugs it out and we get stereo falcon arrows from the babyfaces for two and the heels bail. So Priest dives onto them and so does Bunny, but Miz hits Priest with the Skull Crushing Finale for two and Bunny makes the save. And then he fights with Morrison on the floor and pulls out a Canadian Destroyer out there, and back in for a Rockerplex on Miz to finish at 15:08. Hell of a job from Bunny, who obviously put in the work at the Performance Center, although the match was a bit of a drag until the hot tag and then got really fun. ***1/2 Also kudos to Miz for being a pro and keeping Bunny tightly on track with everything.
Smackdown Women’s title: Sasha Banks v. Bianca Belair
We get some gymnastics and trash talk to start and Bianca almost gets the KOD right away, but Sasha reverses her to the floor and follows with a baseball slide. Back in, Sasha runs her into the turnbuckle on the apron and follows with a dive, but Bianca rolls through and powers Sasha up into a press slam up the stairs and into the ring for an amazing power spot. Bianca gets a slam and tries a handspring splash, but Sasha grabs the ponytail and puts her down with a knee for two. She beats on Belair in the corner and goes to a chinlock, but Bianca fights out before missing a charge. Sasha goes for the double knees in the corner, but Belair whiplashes her down to block. They fight to the floor and Sasha misses a charge and hits the railing, but they both beat the count. Bianca gets a delayed suplex, holding her for a long time, and both of them are out. Sasha tries the ropewalk and Belair blocks her and makes the comeback with dropkicks and a standing shooting star, but she goes up and a 450 hits knees. They trade near-falls off that and Bianca continues her crazy power spots, with a double powerbomb for two, but Banks counters a third one into a facejam. Sasha goes up with a swinging DDT for two, which gives us WRESTLEMANIA MAIN EVENT SHOCKED TWO COUNT FACE, and Sasha goes up with a frog splash for two. They fight over the Bank Statement and Sasha wraps her up with her own ponytail, but Bianca makes the ropes. So Sasha gets all bitchy about it and Bianca fires back, which is the kind of fire that the feud has been lacking all along, and they fight to the top, but Sasha charges and hits the turnbuckles. Bianca hits the 450 this time and gets two, and she has WRESTLEMANIA MAIN EVENT CRYING SHOCKED TWO COUNT FACE. They play tug of war with Bianca’s hair and that goes BADLY for Sasha, and Bianca hits the KOD to win the title at 17:20. Not a GREAT match or anything, but it was a real star-making performance for Belair as Sasha was determined to put her over huge. ***1/2
Not a bad show at all, and the biggest compliment I can pay it is that it didn’t feel long even though it did run long. The main event delivered exactly what it needed to, and so did the celebrity match, so that’s good for a thumbs up from here. I think it was especially helpful to have a real crowd again with a real atmosphere instead of the fake piped in crap. And speaking of the atmosphere, we’ll see you tomorrow night where hopefully there’s no further storms.