The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 38 Saturday – 04.02.22

The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 38 Saturday – 04.02.22

Live from Dallas, TX and brought to you by WWE2K22.  But do you think they actually put the game on sale to celebrate?  NOPE.

Your hosts are Michael Cole and the rest of them.

Thankfully I’m watching on a delay so I can already skip through America the Beautiful and the cheerleaders.

Smackdown tag team titles:  The Usos v. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogz

I don’t really get how this is a Wrestlemania-caliber match.  Nakamura hits Jimmy with a running knee to start, but the Usos double-team him and Jimmy chokes him on the ropes.  Enzuigiri gets two.  Jimmy goes to a chinlock and Nakamura fights out and makes the hot tag to Boogz.  He runs wild on Jimmy and catches Jey in a bearhug before powering him into a delayed suplex for two.  Rick tries the spot where he puts both Usos on his back for a fireman’s carry, but his knee gives out and that goes badly.  So Nakamura comes in and beats on Jey in the corner while Boogz recovers on the floor.  Jey superkicks him and Jimmy hits the flying splash for two.  Usos with the 1D for the pin at 6:54.  I’m assuming the knee injury completely screwed up the match but there was absolutely nothing to this one.  *1/2

Happy Corbin v. Drew McIntyre

Your lie of the night:  Apparently Happy Corbin is undefeated since changing his name, which I guess is technically true if we narrow it down to only singles matches on television.  They slug it out to start and Drew wins that and then clotheslines him to the floor.  Corbin sends him into the post to hurt the shoulder and then gets into another slugfest with him before whipping him into the corner for one.  Corbin with a suplex for two and he does some running punches before Moss jumps up on the apron for some reason and Corbin has to send him back down.  So Drew fights back with a spinebuster and hits a neckbreaker, but he walks into the Deep Six for two.  Corbin backdrops him to the apron, but Drew comes back in with a clubbing forearm and sets up the big kick, and Corbin bails to the floor.  So Drew hits them with a dive and back in for another kick, which misses.  Corbin with the End of Days for two.  Drew with the Future Shock and he finishes with the Claymore Kick at 8:34.  Just a normal TV match.  **  And then Drew uses his sword to slice the ring ropes because apparently he’s really mad about winning.  Hopefully this means Drew can move on and feud with ANYONE ELSE now.

Rey & Dominik Mysterio v. The Miz & Logan Paul

Miz quickly traps Rey in the corner and stomps him down, and Logan comes in and works the body while the camera cuts 8 MILLION TIMES.  Logan does a pair of leapfrogs and the splits to evade Rey, but he gets kicked in the head and Dom comes in as the Mysterios double-team Miz for two.  Dom with a moonsault for two and he chases the heels to the floor and follows with a dive on Miz.  Back in, Logan gets a cheapshot on Dom behind the ref’s back and they take over on him.  Paul with a powerslam for two.  Miz and Paul do kicks for two, but Dom gets a backslide on Miz for two.  Logan cuts him off and hits a blockbuster for two, and the heels choke him out in the corner.  Dom fights back with a tornado DDT on Miz and makes the hot tag to Rey, who rolls up Miz for two.  Moonsault gets two.  Miz tries a suplex and Dom superkicks him to put Rey on top for two.  Rey with a tornado DDT for two.  Rey with the Three Amigos, but Miz runs him into the post and Logan boots Rey down and does his own Three Amigos to troll the crowd.  Ironically Paul is a bit of a dead ringer for Art Barr.  And he goes up with a frog splash for two.  Dom tricks Logan into chasing him, however, and the Mysterios hit a double 619 on him and follow with a pair of frog splashes.  And then Miz hits Rey with the Skull Crushing Finale and pins him at 11:20.  Gotta get the HEAT I guess.  But then Miz turns on Paul afterwards after winning the match.  I don’t get this booking at all.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to have the heels lose if they were going to break up right afterwards?  Crowd was hot, match was average, and the finish made no sense outside of their usual obsession with beating Rey every chance they get.  **1/2  Logan Paul looked fine in his limited time but this was no Bad Bunny.  At least I know who Logan is, I suppose, so that’s something.

Stephanie McMahon joins us to introduce Gable Steveson.

RAW Women’s title:  Becky Lynch v. Bianca Belair

Bianca offers a handshake and Becky punches her and escapes a KOD attempt to hit a Manhandle slam for two.  Becky goes for the armbar and Bianca makes the ropes, so Becky beats her down and gets two.  Becky with a suplex for two, but she misses a moonsault and Bianca does her own disarmer until Becky makes the ropes.  Bianca tries to power her up into something but Becky kind of falls over and they do an awkward series of rollups for two off that before heading to the floor.  Becky runs her into the stairs to take over.  Back in for a Bexploder that gets two, and Becky puts her on the top rope for the guillotine, which gets two.  Becky stomps her down and goes to the chinlock, and a butterfly suplex sets up a cross armbreaker.  Bianca powers out of that and they tumble to the floor again, where Bianca gets a suplex on the floor.  Back in the ring, Bianca slugs away in the corner and gets a backbreaker for two.  Bianca with a glam slam and handspring moonsault for two.  They fight to the top, where Bianca looks like she’s going to do a death valley driver off the top or something crazy, but then just drops Becky on the top turnbuckle instead.  450 gets two off that.  Becky bails to the apron and necks Bianca to escape, and she goes up with a somersault senton, kicking poor Bianca right in the face in the process, and that gets two.  Bianca comes back with another moonsault, but she hits the knees.  Glam Slam is reversed by Becky into a rollup, but she goes up and Bianca brings her down and tries a KOD, which Becky escapes by bailing to the floor.  And she runs Bianca into the post and slams her on the stairs, but Bianca beats the count.  Becky rolls her up for two and Bianca goes dead weight and then recovers with the KOD to win the title at 19:04.  Felt a bit long but they worked hard despite some notable rough patches, and the crowd was super hot for all of it.  ***1/2

Seth Rollins v. Vince McMahon’s Hand-Picked Mystery Opponent

And after a big wait and lots of buildup, it’s of course Cody Rhodes, complete with his song.  And thankfully he gets a huge reaction.  Cody grabs a headlock and takes him down with an armdrag before doing some showboating.  Rollins tries a headlock and Cody slugs him with the sliding punch as the announcers note that Seth had no time to prepare for the surprise of Cody Rhodes.  Yeah it was such a huge shock!  They trade finisher attempts and fight over a suplex, which results in both guys hitting the floor.  Cody runs the arm into the post, and back in for an armbar as Cody works on that.  Short arm scissors, but Seth rolls out of that and comes off the ropes with the enzuigiri.  Cody goes up for a bodypress, but Seth boots him on the way down and goes to work on the ribs with a bearhug.  Cody slugs out of that and comes back with the powerslam before clotheslining him to the floor and following with a dive as Seth takes a bump over the announce table.  Back in the ring, Cody with a moonsault press that misses badly, but still gets two.  Back to the floor, where Cody tries a rana off the stairs and Seth catches him and powerbombs him into the railing.  Back in, Seth hits the springboard knee and falcon arrow for two.  Cody counters the stomp with a rollup, but Seth rolls him up for two.  Crossroads gets two for Cody.  Cody goes up and Seth cuts him off with a reverse suplex into a falcon arrow for two.  Seth tries the Phoenix splash, but that misses, and Cody teases a Pedigree before Seth counters into a rollup for two.  Cody with a powerbomb this time, and the Cody Cutter gets two.  Seth with a Pedigree for two.  They slug it out and Seth wins that one and puts Cody down with an elbow to the back of the neck.  But Cody fights back with Crossroads twice and then the Dusty comeback for good measure.  And a third Crossroads finishes at 21:34.  This turned into an excellent match, although I don’t know if it’ll position Cody as a top guy coming out of it.  ****1/2

Tonight’s fake attendance:  77,899!  Bet they’ll break their own fake record tomorrow!

Smackdown Women’s title:  Charlotte Flair v. Ronda Rousey

They slug it out in the corner and Ronda takes her down and tries for the anklelock, but Charlotte escapes.  Ronda runs her into the corner for a Flair Flip and gets a triangle in the corner before Charlotte takes her to the apron for a slam on the HARDEST PART OF THE RING.  Ronda tries another anklelock and Charlotte takes her to the floor to break and runs her into the post, and back in for two.  Charlotte with a cravat and she slugs Ronda down for two and goes to a dragon sleeper.  Ronda puts her down with a knee for two off that, which Cole declares is SUDDEN IMPACT.  I prefer Magnum Force if we’re just naming Dirty Harry movies. Ronda with a DDT for two.  Ronda takes her down with armdrags, but Charlotte spears her for two.  She tries the Natural Selection, but Ronda catches her arm and Charlotte escapes with a suplex for the double down.  Charlotte goes up for the double moonsault, but Ronda is nowhere near position and Charlotte just covers her for two anyway.  That was bad.  Ronda suplexes her for two.  Charlotte hangs her in the Tree of Woe and Ronda sits up, and then pops back up with an armdrag off the top for two.  Ronda with her slam thing and she goes for the armbar, but Charlotte boots her down as they’re just flailing around out there and the crowd is being incredibly nice to them.  Ronda with a powerslam for two, but Charlotte tries a rollup and Ronda reverses to the anklelock.  So Charlotte reverses to her own and Ronda runs her into the corner to break.  Ronda jumps on her back and tries for an armbar, but Charlotte slams out of it for two.  Charlotte tries the figure-four and Ronda reverses to another anklelock and sinks it in, and Charlotte kicks her in the head to escape.  Because of course she does.  Charlotte with the figure-four this time and turns it into the figure-eight, but Ronda reverses it, and they roll to the ropes and head to the floor.  Charlotte catches her with an exploder into the railing and they head back in.  Ronda catches her with the slam for an apparent pin, but Charlotte is in the ropes and the ref immediately waves off his own count.  Charlotte with Natural Selection for two.  Ref is bumped and Ronda gets the armbar, but Ronda revives the ref and Charlotte boots her for the pin at 18:18 to retain.  Because of course she does.  That being said, Ronda looked pretty out of shape and unmotivated, and the match was mostly a mess of blown spots but not terrible or anything.  **

Tomorrow night:  Another four hours of video packages and ads!  Maybe some matches. 

The KO Show with Kevin Owens and special guest Steve Austin

Owens of course takes his time insulting Texas and Steve Austin because we’re only four hours into this thing and the night is still young.  Like seriously, even starting 90 minutes into the show and fast-forwarding through the videos and entrances and ads and recaps, it’s still feeling like the show that never ends.  Austin gets the expected monster pop for his entrance and then goes back and does a second entrance on an ATV.  KO has more insults for Texas and then challenges Austin to a No Holds Barred match right now.  And if Austin doesn’t want to accept, he can take his golf cart and go back to his ranch.  So Austin polls the crowd and calls for a ref, and we’re on.

Steve Austin v. Kevin Owens

Feels like they should have actually promoted a match if they were going to have one.  Austin slugs away in the corner while the camera cuts 87 MILLION TIMES and stomps a mudhole, then stops for a beer and stomps a mudhole in the other corner.  They head to the floor and Austin gingerly hits him with a clothesline from the railing, but Owens sets up a table and ends up going through it.  They fight into the crowd and back to ringside, where Austin beats on him while enjoying more beer.  Back in the ring, KO tries to hijack the ATV, but Austin drives him up to the entrance and suplexes him there.  Kevin bumps down the ramp and they back into the ring again for more beer, but Owens catches him with a stunner for two.  KO grabs a chair, but hits the top rope and knocks himself out, and KICK WHAM STUNNER finishes at 13:54 to send the crowd home happy.  Well Kevin was messing with Texas, and I’ve heard you shouldn’t do that.  This was exactly what it needed to be and Kevin did a great job in his role.  ***

Definitely a show that was generally enjoyable all the way through and an easy thumbs up, with Cody Rhodes having the clear match of the night for me.  I thought they could have hacked off an hour easily, though.  But with nothing bad and everything mostly pretty good or better here, this bodes well for tomorrow night’s stronger card.