Well folks, I wrote about WrestleMania in 2020 when we were all stuck inside and I had more time on my hands; I then neglected to do so for the next two years. Maybe I’ll find the time to go back and write them up, putting in a historical date, pretending they were there all along.
Back then, the idea of the two-night WrestleMania was to compensate the fans for their not being able to attend during COVID19. But even in 2022 and this year, when excited fans and their generic tattoos are filling Super Bowl-sized stadia, the trend persists. Rather than featuring on the “grandaddy of them all” being a point of prestige, WWE is now featuring storylines about the most hapless wrestlers not having a match on the show. Witness Seth Rollins last year, when he ended up getting the returning Cody Rhodes as a mystery opponent. Or the quite awful “Baron Corbin” this year, and his perpetual boom and bust cycle of storyline wealth and luck.
Anyway, night 1 of the show was very decent, excellent in places and massively overlong.
The main event saw perennial scrappy underdogs Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn become undisputed world tag team champs, unseating the Usos, who had reigned for nearly three years. It was a great match, full of drama, some barely believable kick outs, and lots of emotion. The win was not just the end of an epochal reign, but a milestone for these longtime friends who fought up from the indies together, as well as catharsis for Zayn, who was once aligned with the Usos as part of “the Bloodline” before going through a violent and emotionally draining rivalry with them.
The other big winner was Rhea Ripley, who won a rematch of her WM36 contest with Charlotte Flair. Another excellent, lengthy match, this was pretty brutal (some of it, like the German suplex that saw Charlotte land face first, I couldn’t even tell if it was planned or accident). Nice mix of both teasing their submission holds and very high impact moves. Rhea has come a long way since debuting incredibly nervously on the main roster: her time as part of the Judgement Day group has done wonders for her confidence on the big stage.
A less impressive title match saw John Cena fail to prise the US title from Austin Theory. The story was all about how Theory is unconvincing as a potential main event wrestler, and that he is not ready for a veteran like Cena. That’s a good story, but they did it wrong. There was a spot in which Cena has Theory on his shoulders for his special move, and they accidentally KO the ref. Cena hits the move, and puts Theory in his submission hold, the STF. Theory taps, Cena lets go, but the ref is out, so he didn’t see!
But if Cena is such a crafty veteran, surely he just keeps the hold on until the ref wakes up, and Theory’s spine is completely effed up. In the end, Theory hits Cena with a low blow, hits his own move and gets the win. Not only does Cena not teach him a lesson, but because he had to cheat to win, Theory remains unconvincing.
The other highlight was a four-way tag match, which should have been messy, but produced some of the biggest “holy shit” moments I have seen in ages. The Street Profits won it (Angelo Dawkins halting the Brawn Strowman express with a body check was a killer moment) over Strowman and Ricochet (springboard shooting star press out of the ring), the Viking Raiders and Alpha Academy.
This post is starting to feel as long as Night 1 itself, so I’ll gloss over Seth Rollins beating Logan Paul (surprisingly good), Rey Misterio beating his son (meh match, but good end to the storyline) and Trish Stratus/Lita/Becky Lynch beating Damage CTRL (decent nostalgia trip for the oldies I guess, but a waste of Io and Dakota Kai).