Night 1 of WrestleMania was always going to be the easy lay-up. Even if there was a 40-minute delay, the crowd simply wanted to be happy and therefore would be. While the Night 2 crowd was also more forgiving than they would be in normal year, this second night tested their patience a bit. The genuine nature of live crowds became both a blessing and a boon.
With hard-hitting matches, surprise returns, multiple title switches, and a main event for the ages, Night 2 of WrestleMania still had the skeleton of a great show, but was it excellent in execution? Let’s talk about it.
Randy Orton def. the Fiend
After an opening segment where Titus O’Neil and Hulk Hogan cut promos in pirate gear (during which the crowd booing Hogan was a lot more apparent), the show kicked off with Randy Orton entering the ring in white and red gear, a very unusual look for the Viper.
Backstage, the Crispy Fiend turned back into Fiend Classic as he walked down a tunnel, but on stage, Funhouse Alexa Bliss arrived and skipped down the ramp. She stopped when she reached a giant Jack-in-the-box beside the ring, turned its handle, and out popped the Fiend, covered in his sea of red light.
The atmosphere was chilling, and when he jumped off the box and onto Orton, the match was really hot. After Bray yelled “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah!” in memory of Brodie/Luke, the pair brawled to the outside, where Orton back dropped Fiend onto the announce table, only for the Fiend to pop up and lock in the Mandible Claw.
The Fiend dominated with claws, neck snaps, and the works for a while, but right when he started to go for the Sister Abigail, Alexa appeared at the top of the Jack-in-the-box wearing a crown of thorns and oozing black blood. This distracted the Fiend long enough for Orton to put him away with exactly one (1) RKO.
The crowd booed, and from my couch, I did too.
Baszler & Jax def. Natalya & Tamina for the Women’s Tag Team Championships
Much like the women’s tag match from the previous night, this match saw the crowd try hard to get into it and rally behind the second- and third-generation wrestlers, but it’s Tamina and Natalya. They had moments of fire throughout as Tamina and Jax faced off outside the ring and Natalya grappled with Baszler, but they’re not the most beloved pair of wrestlers WWE has.
After Natalya’s hand missed a hot tag to Tamina and Tamina hit an ugly body slam on Jax, the finale saw Baszler choke Natalya while Miss Neidhart had the Sharpshooter locked in on Jax. The crowd booed again but this time because the winners were heels. The general vibe all around was apathy.
Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn
Here we go! Big match time! It felt kind of short.
But we got some great things packed into the time they did have, as the first move of the match saw Zayn go for an immediate Helluva Kick (shades of Extreme Rules 2016) only to take a pop-up powerbomb. What followed was a series of brainbusters both in the ring and on the apron, stiff punches from both parties, and a bunch of smart reversals that showcased how well they knew each other — all while Logan Paul reacted at ringside.
Paul was the weird X-factor for this match, as the crowd did boo him during his entrance. Still, as he sat by the announce desk, he didn’t really do too much to get in the way, and Zayn lost to a really good Stunner after maybe 10 minutes of action. We even got the return of Cole calling the Michinoku Driver a Blue Thunder Bomb!
After the match, Logan Paul entered the ring to congratulate Owens, much to Zayn’s dismay. The two argued until Paul shoved Zayn down, and as Zayn fled, Paul held Owens’ arm up similar to the Rock holding up Reigns’ hand at Royal Rumble 2015. The crowd booed both men, and noticing how things were going, Owens smiled at the crowd and delivered a stunner to the internet celebrity reminiscent of Stone Cold doing the same to Donald Trump at WrestleMania 23.
It was a solid — if not great — match in a vacuum, though it left a lot to be desired when compared to Battleground 2016 or any of their NXT or pre-WWE encounters since it couldn’t be THE focus of the night.
Sheamus def. Riddle to become United States Champion
If I told you that Riddle attempted a Buckshot Lariat and got hit with a V-Trigger from Sheamus, you wouldn’t believe me. But while Riddle’s arm didn’t shoot out and Sheamus didn’t pump the knees, that’s kind of what happened.
Here we have a NEVER Openweight Championship match in the middle of a WWE card. To rephrase that in a way that’s less insular to hardcore fans: Sheamus and Riddle beat the snot out of each other, and it felt like Riddle was back in the UFC with how hard he was getting hit.
Highlights from this one include Riddle hitting a springboard Flying Bro to the outside on Sheamus, then rolling him back in and hitting a standard one; Riddle going for a reverse armbar; and the aforementioned flip into a knee.
The match fell apart a little when Sheamus attempted a top rope White Noise, slipped from the top, and just hit a spinning one, but they quickly picked up the pieces with their closing sequence as Sheamus Brogue Kicked Riddle in the middle of a springboard moonsault, drawing blood and the win.
The crowd was into it if not crazy hot, though I had a lot of fun with it.
Apollo Crews def. Big E to become Intercontinental Champion
This match had a big fight feel the moment Wale came out to personally rap (and then totally-not-lip-sync) Big E’s theme, and once the bell rang, that continued as both men left the ring and grabbed kendo sticks.
The “Nigerian Drum Fight” turned out to be a hardcore match with drums, kendo sticks, and a gong at ringside, and it really ended up being more of a stairs match than anything, but both men did bring it. Big E battered Apollo with the kendo stick early on, but Apollo soon shot back with a flurry of kendo shots that hit so frantically that he broke the stick over E’s downed body.
Big E speared Apollo through the ring ropes and tried to use the lower section of the steel steps to his advantage (because you need the big stairs for a big man), but Apollo took advantage of him and almost squashed E between the two sets of steel steps.
The match started to wrap up as E put a combo together and finally hit the Big Ending on Apollo, but before he could get the pin, Dabba-Kato returned from Raw Underground and clobbered E before dragging Apollo onto him.
The crowd went mild.
We do have a new champion and a sustained push for Apollo, but at what cost?
Rhea Ripley def. Asuka to become Raw Women’s Champion
Third title change in a row as Rhea Ripley put together a star-making performance with Asuka, partially in thanks to Ash Costello and her band doing a live performance of Ripley’s theme. I have heard folks online say the actual performance itself wasn’t great, but just on visuals alone, I was sold.
Ripley and Asuka knocked each other around the ring with kicks, throws, hip attacks, and slippery submissions, and the whole thing looked pretty crisp. Asuka had bursts of dominance throughout, and it seemed like any step Rhea took would result in a submission from Asuka somehow.
In fact, Asuka was so in control that I was completely caught off guard by her running at Ripley and suddenly ending up in pumphandle position and eating a Riptide for a three-count.
Both women looked like stars and their offense looked incredible as well, so either winner would have been deserving on this night. But, after nearly a year as champion for Asuka (ignoring all of the weird Sasha booking) and a rough start to Ripley’s WrestleMania career last year, I think it was definitely the right call to have the new face grab the gold and transition the Raw women’s division into a new era.
Legends destroy Bayley and Crip walk over her body
Lots of promos and Hall of Fame stuff happened throughout these two shows that could mostly be ignored or mentioned in passing, but this one stands out because it was lengthy, came right before the climax of the show, and featured WWE’s MVP of 2020 (not counting Montel Vontavious Porter), Bayley.
Titus and Hogan came out to talk about God knows what but were interrupted by Bayley, who berated the pair of them, every Hall of Famer, and the crowd. The Bella Twins’ music hit to signal Bayley’s doom, but she ignored that signal and continued roasting the Bellas, not even letting them talk.
After Bayley mentioned John Cena, Nikki slapped the mic out of her hand, Brie got a shot in, and they shoved Bayley down the ramp, where she rolled approximately 8.7 miles away.
The four Hall of Famers (either counting Titus once or Hogan twice) did their best rendition of the Bella Twin Twirl as Bayley lay dormant beneath them, the current-day roster peon that she is.
For real, though, this was kind of ffun, and it was nice to see Bayley at least get pyro.
Roman Reigns def. Daniel Bryan and Edge to retain the Universal Championship
It’s not fair to say that this was a one-match show, but if Night 2 of WrestleMania began and ended with this match, it would probably be the peak version of it — the McMahon Cut, if you will.
None of the three had or needed a special entrance, though Edge did bust out some beautiful white tights. That aside, they all just walked to the ring as their typical selves and bundles bundles of charisma and star presence with them to the main event of WrestleMania.
Reigns decked Bryan as soon as the bell rang, and all three men were quickly busting out stiff offense on one another. As Edge and Bryan were sent to the outside, Jey Uso would bust in with a superkick, which continued to pester the pair until Edge hit him with a DDT onto the steel steps.
Bryan and Edge soon sent Reigns to the outside and fought each other alone, but as Bryan began performing his comeback, he dove to the outside of the ring at Reigns — only for Reigns to catch him and belly-to-belly suplex him on the floor.
Aside from that moment, though, a surprising bit of this match saw Bryan in control, as the story they’d been setting up continued: Bryan can beat Reigns — BOTH men, really — but Edge will use any means necessary to ensure that doesn’t happen.
Bryan got a lot of kicks in on both men and attempted Yes Locks on both with the odd man out breaking up each submission, but no submission attempt was more harrowing than Edge’s crossface with a steel pipe(?) in Reigns’ mouth. This move lasted ages, and it looked like Roman would HAVE to tap until Bryan came in to catch Reigns’ hand and lock in the Yes Lock himself, all while Edge still had the crossface in.
Edge eventually snapped, breaking both men down with chair shots and putting Bryan away with a Con-Chair-To before Jey came back to stop Edge from doing the same to Roman. Edge speared Jey, ate a spear from Reigns, and took a Con-Chair-To shot to his own head before Roman dragged Edge’s unconscious body onto Bryan’s and pinned them both.
WrestleMania closed with the crowd booing Reigns again, and this time, it was on purpose. What a match, and what a show.
Overall, WrestleMania 37 was the same as any modern WrestleMania but split into two nights. While Night 1 was incredible aside from one sloppy match, Night 2 was okay to pretty good aside from one beautiful match. If you put the whole thing together, it might feel really bad. But separated into two digestible parts and ending on such a stellar note twice over, I had a good time with these two shows. It’s so great to have genuine fan reactions again.
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