The SmarK Rant for Wrestlemania 38 Sunday – 04.03.22
IT’S A WRESTLEMANIA MIRACLE! Remember how I had ordered an SNES Classic around Christmas time and it never showed up due to what I thought were porch pirates? Well, this afternoon my neighbor was cleaning out her yard after the damn snow finally melted here in what we laughingly call Spring, and guess what was sitting in a snow pile after being delivered to the wrong address four months ago? Suffice it to say that the shipping box was…yucky…and the product box was also destroyed, but everything inside had been wrapped in plastic and works perfectly. Time for some Donkey Kong Country, baby.
Live from Dallas, TX
Your hosts are Michael Cole and a bunch of people who suck at their job.
HHH joins us to start, hopefully not inspired to come out of retirement after watching Steve Austin last night. Probably won’t work out well for him. Well unless Booker T is his opponent, in which case he’d probably hit him with one punch and Booker would lay there for 2 minutes selling it and then get pinned. Unfortunately the entrance goes so long that they had to bump New Day from next year’s show as well. Anyway, robbed of his chance to have a real farewell match, he leaves his boots in the ring here.
RAW World tag team title: RK-Bro v. Street Profits v. Alpha Academy
One of the idiot announcers note that this is “the record 18th Wrestlemania match” for Randy Orton. Um, what’s the record? Most Randy Orton matches at Wrestlemania? Riddle kicks Gable out of the ring right away, but Montez hits Riddle with a clothesline before Gable regroups with a german suplex on Montez for two. Otis clears the ring and we get a PIER SIX BRAWL, which leads to Ford diving over the ringpost to hit the pile. And then Gable goes up and moonsaults everyone as well. Back in the ring, Gable and Otis hit a double-team german suplex on Riddle and Otis hits the big splash and goes to a chinlock. Gable with a northern lights suplex for two. Montez returns from the floor and takes out Gable with a dropkick, but Gable monkey flips him for two. Dawkins comes in and throws Gable and Riddle around with suplexes, but Otis splashes him as well. Gable cuts off Riddle’s hot tag with an anklelock, but Riddle kicks out of that and then hits Dawkins with Bro 2 Sleep. Randy Orton as the hyped up hot tag guy on the apron is amazing. Orton gets the hot hand and does his stuff before suplexing Ford on the announce table, and then Gable for good measure. Back in the ring, we get stereo draping DDTs for the giant pop, but the Alphas break that up. Steiner bulldog on Ford gets two. Otis goes up for the Vader bomb, but Dawkins breaks that up and the Profits double-team Gable now with a Street Sweeper for two. Riddle tries to fight them off and gets tossed by Dawkins, and then Orton gets double-teamed by the Profits as well, leading to Montez going up to finish. But then Riddle intercepts with an RKO from the top rope to put Ford on the floor, and Gable dives off the top rope and lands in another RKO, which finishes for Orton to retain at 11:39. A fun opener that was all action. ***1/4 So then all the babyfaces decide to celebrate with solo cups in the ring and invite Gable Steveson in to join them, but Chad Gable interrupts and gets suplexed.
Omos v. Bobby Lashley
Well this should be noteworthy if nothing else. Omos slugs him down immediately and goes to what appears to be an Iron Claw, but Lashley powers out of it. So Omos uses the CLUBBING FOREARM to put him down and beats on him with elbows in the corner while grunting like Monica Seles. Lashley uses his own clubbing forearms, but his clubbing forearms are no match for the clubbing forearms of Omos, who uses his clubbing forearms to put Bobby on the floor. Could even God make a clubbing forearm that would be powerful enough to put Omos down with a clubbing forearm? Maybe we’ll know someday. Back in the ring, Omos slams him and goes to a bearhug, which you’ll recall was set up by all the clubbing forearms on the back. Lashley tries to escape, but his back is too completely clubbed by the clubbing forearms and Omos goes back to the bearhug again. “When an intimidator fails to intimidate, they become intimidated!” notes one of the announcers. But how much wood COULD a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? Lashley comes back with a suplex and spears him twice for the pin at 6:36. This match was like a clubbing forearm to my soul. DUD
Sami Zayn v. Johnny Knoxville
Sami immediately puts Knoxville down with the Helluva kick and runs him into the railing in front of his Jackass friends. So Johnny uses the fire extinguisher and grabs a stop sign, but Sami uses the cookie sheet to take over. Come on, where’s the kendo sticks? I was told this was a No Holds Barred match. “Sami playing a little Fred Sanford here for those of you from the 70s” notes Cole. That’s the NXT audience, I thought? Sami bounces a garbage can off Johnny’s head and brings a table into the ring, but then finds another table that’s covered in mouse traps, as you often find laying around. So Knoxville hits him with the garbage can lid and sets up a table, but Sami suplexes him through the table for two. Knoxville comes back by blowing an air horn and then another Jackass idiot comes in the ring to dance and provide distraction, allowing Knoxville to get a rollup for two. And then Wee Man attacks and Knoxville gets a tornado DDT for two. Thankfully Sami gives him the booting he deserves and goes up, but Knoxville sets off pyro to knock him down and gives him the bowling ball to the crotch. Next up, Sami runs away from a tazer and runs into a giant hand, then goes up and gets slammed through the mouse trap table. And then for the finale, the Jackass crew pulls a giant mousetrap out of the ring and springs it on Sami for the pin at 14:29. This was barely even a “match”, it was more like a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I don’t mind some silliness in a hardcore match but this was too much. I like Jackass, but if I want Jackass I’ll watch Jackass. -*
Women’s tag team title: Carmella & Zelina Vega v. Sasha Banks & Naomi v. Liv Morgan & Rhea Ripley v. Natalya & Shayna Baszler
We start with Rhea and Sasha after some wackiness from the champions, and they exchange finisher attempts before Rhea throws her off. Liv comes in and hits a pair of double knees on Sasha, but Nattie tags herself in and Liv gets double-teamed. Question, since I don’t watch the weekly shows: Has anyone taken the 2 seconds to make the Queen of Harts / Queen of Spades connection between Shayna and Natalya yet? Liv fights back with an enzuigiri on Shayna, which allows Carmella to tag herself in, and Zelina gets a code red on Liv for two. Naomi comes in with She Calls It The Rear View, but Shayna takes her out and Sasha gets a backstabber. Liv is left alone and Sasha and Naomi double-team her, which leads to a whole big wacky thing with a double Tower of Doom spot and everyone is out. Then Shayna and Nattie double-team Naomi with some stuff, but Carmella superkicks Naomi for two as this just manages to get worse and worse somehow. Naomi kicks Carmella down and Sasha gets the frog splash for two before going to the Bank Statement, but Vega saves. But then Naomi and Sasha do some wacky double-team thing on Carmella and pin her to win the titles at 11:08. This was AWFUL, with 8 people stumbling around the ring for 10 minutes and nothing making any sense. Like it felt like I lost track of who was doing what every time they switched camera angles. And they do that a LOT. ½* Like, was everyone else in the match literally dead on the floor for the last 2 minutes? What even was the basic storyline of the match supposed to be?
AJ Styles v. Edge
Edge has a new evil theme song to go along with heel turn, and I’m not digging it. They fight over the lockup to start and AJ gets the dropkick and controls with armdrags before Edge backs off. They trade backslide attempts and Edge tries a spear, but AJ evades that one. They do a chase on the floor and AJ sends Edge into the stairs with a knee from the apron. Back in, AJ tries the springboard 450 and hits the knees, which allows Edge to take over with knees to the ribs. He runs AJ into the corner, but AJ fights back, so Edge goes to an abdominal stretch before AJ fights out of it. There’s not much going on so they cut to the big screens to remind us who’s in the match, and Edge beats on the ribs before AJ slugs him down again. But then AJ charges and hits the corner and both guys are out again. AJ comes back with a suplex into the turnbuckles and slugs away on the mat. And then Edge takes out the arm again and goes to a surfboard. Edge tries the Pele and misses, allowing Edge to reverse to an STF, but AJ makes the ropes. He fights back with a slingshot into a DDT, but both guys are out for the millionth time in the match. AJ goes up and Edge cuts him off, so AJ brings him down with the torture rack into the powerbomb for two. Edge with the Impaler for two. And they’re both out again after a german suplex. They slug it out and AJ hits the Pele to win that before rolling him into the calf crusher, but Edge reverses to a crossface and AJ makes the ropes. Edge-o-Matic gets two. Slingshot powerbomb gets two. They fight to the top and AJ suplexes him on the apron, THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING, and both guys are out yet again, but on the floor this time. Back in the ring, AJ gets the 450 this time, and that gets two. Edge misses the spear and AJ hits him with the Styles Clash, but that gets two. And then Damian Priest shows up and distracts AJ, which allows Edge to spear him for the pin at 24:30. This was so slow and ran so long that they had time to reschedule the New Day match for tonight and then had to cancel it again because the match went so long. **1/2
Meanwhile, in a stunning development that no one could have predicted, they managed to break last night’s attendance figure by another 1000 people! Last night was sold out but now it’s EVEN MORE SOLD OUT.
The New Day v. Sheamus & Ridge Holland
Holy crap the match is actually happening! I’m almost disappointed because I thought it was going to be the modern version of Bulldog v. Berzerker and be a meme in my heart forever. Big brawl to start while Butch runs around like a midget sidekick, and Kofi gets Trouble In Paradise on Ridge right away for two. Xavier superkicks Ridge to take over, but Sheamus hits Woods with a Brogue Kick and Ridge slams him for the pin at 1:43. They seriously couldn’t have fit that in last night? *
Pat McAfee v. Austin Theory
I don’t really even understand what the stakes are supposed to be here. Vince McMahon, looking like his own wax statue from Madame Tousseau’s museum, introduces Theory and hangs out at ringside. McAfee attacks to start and slugs Theory down, but Austin beats on him in the corner. McAfee with a rana for two, but Theory beats him down again and hits a snap suplex. Pat with his own suplex, and Theory retreats to the apron, so McAfee bumps him off and into the table. Back in, Pat goes up and misses a swanton, and Theory gets a backdrop suplex for two. Theory goes to the top and Pat cuts him off and pops up for a superplex, which gets two. McAfee misses a punt and Theory takes out the knee and slugs away, but McAfee rolls him up for the pin at 9:42. Just a very basic match, although the crowd was molten for McAfee. **1/4 So then Vince decides to take matters into his own hands and teases a match, before Theory attacks McAfee from behind.
Pat McAfee v. Vince McMahon
Oh man, Vince is looking rough. The guns are out of ammo. Vince gets a pair of clotheslines, but McAfee is all fired up, so Theory trips him up and posts him. So while McAfee sells on the mat, Vince gets a football from Theory and teases throwing it out to the crowd before kicking it into McAfee and pinning him at 3:45. What the f--- was the point of this? -*** But then after more celebration from the heels, Steve Austin comes down for an encore, stuns Theory out of the ring, and then offers Vince a beer before giving him what is hopefully one final stunner as well. And poor Vince can barely even take the bump, stumbling backwards and nearly falling out of the ring off the kick and then awkwardly falling down. And then McAfee gets stunned as well. This was all pretty terrible, and very sad watching them relive 1997 for the millionth time, 25 years later. And they couldn’t have found a way to have Austin come out and stun more people without the pretense of a “match” with Vince McMahon? And why didn’t they advertise the Vince match in advance if they were so desperate to sell tickets?
Unification match: Brock Lesnar v. Roman Reigns
Brock beats on him in the corner and hits the first suplex with three belly to bellies before clotheslining him to the floor. Brock decides to go confront Heyman, who sucks up for his life and allows Roman to spear Brock through the barricade, as per contractual mandate for these two. Brock beats the count, but Roman spears him for two. Roman with the superman punch, but Lesnar laughs it off and starts suplexing him again. Jolly Brock is terrifying. We go to Suplex City with five german suplexes, but Roman escapes the F5 and hits another superman punch. Spear is reversed into the F5 by Brock, and that gets two. Another F5, but Roman escapes and the ref is bumped, which allows Roman to go low. Belt to the head gets two. Roman gets a weird spear to the back and that gets two. He was running the ropes like Ultimate Warrior there. Another spear, but Brock catches him in the kimura, but Heyman helps Roman to the ropes for the break. Heyman’s inspirational peptalk to Roman is amazing stuff, but Brock tries another F5, so Roman uses another spear and pins him to unify the belts at 12:25. We’ll see how long that lasts. I give it a month. This was suitably epic and thankfully had a clean finish, but anyone who thought Brock was walking out with those belts hasn’t been paying attention. ***1/2
Yesterday was a lot of fun. This was hot garbage for the most part and felt like a waste of my four hours with a predictable main event finish. But it sure was STUPENDOUS I guess.