Welcome to the TJR WWE WrestleMania 37 review for night one. There was no Kickoff show this year. I wrote this live on my site TJRWrestling on Saturday night and will have Night 2 live on there tonight too.
As a reminder, I have a listing of every WWE PPV that I have reviewed in order by year. Thank you for supporting us at TJRWrestling all year long. We appreciate you. Let’s get to the show.
There was a Kickoff Show hosted by Kayla Braxton with Booker T, Jerry Lawler, John Bradshaw Layfield and Peter Rosenberg. As I said there were no matches, so they just ran down all of the matches while airing video packages. I don’t really pay attention to the Kickoff Show. There’s enough to cover on the main show.
WWE WrestleMania 37 – Night 1
From Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida
Saturday, April 10, 2021
The show began with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon on the stage with the majority of the roster on the stage standing behind him. Vince said that for the past year they have been performing without something important and that would be you, the fans. Vince said thank you to the fans and welcomed us to WrestleMania in that classic Vince "welcome to WrestleMania" yell. Some of the wrestlers on the stage were people in matches on Sunday too, so it wasn’t just the talent on tonight’s show. The fans popped big for it.
Analysis: Great way to start the show. I love hearing Vince McMahon’s classic “welcome to WrestleMania” line that we have heard so many times over the last 37 years. We missed seeing the fans, but I guarantee you Vince and the wrestlers missed the crowds more than us. They feed off those reactions.
Bebe Rexha was in the ring singing America The Beautiful with a guitarist beside her. The WWE talent remained on the stage for it. I don't know much about this Bebe Rexha woman that sang America the Beautiful but based on her outfit she probably earned some new fans.
They had a cold open video package hyping up WrestleMania. Good stuff as usual. There were pirate ship references and stuff like that since it is home to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. That's fine. They even had two different voiceover guys, so it was pretty creative.
The show was about to begin and Michael Cole was at ringside letting us know there was going to be a weather delay. It wasn't raining, but there's a threat of storms coming again, so there's a delay. That’s a first. Cole said that they had to settle things down for just a little bit. Cole didn’t specify how long the delay would be and said it would be a “few moments” which isn’t very specific. Cole said that they would have interviews with some superstars.
Shane McMahon was interviewed by Sarah Schreiber in the backstage area. Shane did his usual talk about how stupid Braun Strowman is.
Bobby Lashley, the WWE Champion, and MVP showed up, so Shane left. MVP said that he told Drew it’s all over at WrestleMania. MVP said that he told Drew he would lose dignity, consciousness and he’ll lose the match. Drew McIntyre walked into the picture and MVP was standing between them. Drew said that nothing was going to stop him. The two men were separated by WWE Official Jamie Noble and referee Jessika Carr. Drew said he was on the stage finally seeing fans for the first time in a year, he was a bit emotional and composed himself. Drew talked about how it was amazing to win the WWE Title at the Performance Center and the ThunderDome, but he was so happy to be in front of the fans again. Drew said he didn’t care if they had to fight backstage because they are having this match.
They went to Kayla Braxton, John Bradshaw Layfield and Peter Rosenberg on the set where they were for the Kickoff Show.
The New Day’s Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods are the Raw Tag Team Champions that were interviewed by Kevin Patrick. Kofi said that they like to fight the best while wondering if AJ Styles & Omos are an actual team. Woods said that they are not scared of a guy that’s huge like Omos because they signed up for this. While Woods was talking, Big E showed up behind them to join his New Day buddies. Big E defends the Intercontinental Title on Night 2 against Apollo Crews.
When it was back to Cole, Saxton and Joe at ringside, there were no fans behind them. They were all cleared out. Earlier when they were on camera, the fans were there. The delay continued.
Braun Strowman was interviewed backstage by Sarah Schreiber. It was the usual Braun promo talking about how he was going to beat Shane McMahon and do it for everybody that was ever called “stupid” the way that Shane calls Braun “stupid.” Strowman kept on talking about how he was doing this for the people that have ever been called stupid in their lives.
Kevin Owens was about to be interviewed by Kevin Patrick. Owens took the microphone talking about how he first met Sami Zayn in December 2002 and they got along so well. Owens said that they once wrestled in front of 23 people in his hometown of Marieville and they have wrestled all over the world in places of New York. Owens said that they have wrestled hundreds of times. Owens said that they were both told that they could never make it to a place like this, but tomorrow night they will get to do this match at WrestleMania. Owens said that he will stun some sense right back into Sami Zayn and if Logan Paul wants to try something, KO will be in the ring.
Michael Cole and Samoa Joe were in rain jackets with Cole saying that they were told that in about five minutes, they will be ready to begin.
Bianca Belair was interviewed backstage by Sarah Schreiber. Belair said that she is nervous, but she is not scared and she stays ready. Belair said that Sasha Banks calls herself the best, but Bianca is going to prove that she is the B-E-S-T. Bianca said that the best part is that they have the fans back, this is more about them and it’s all about the fans.
Seth Rollins was interviewed by Kevin Patrick with Rollins saying he loved the chaos. Rollins kept calling the interviewer “Mike” and didn’t like that he kept on bringing up Cesaro. Rollins said that “Zazarow” was disrespecting him time after time. Rollins said what will happen when the storm clears, the stars will shine down on Rollins because he is the new Mr. WrestleMania and he’ll prove it once again when he trounces “Zazarow” at WrestleMania.
The Miz and John Morrison were interviewed by Sarah Schreiber. Morrison had on some “drip drip” sunglasses. Morrison ripped on Priest and Bad Bunny while Miz said that they were the greatest team of the 21st century.
The trio of Kayla, Peter and JBL let us know that they made the announcement in the stadium that the show is ready to go.
That led to a video package for Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre as the opening match for the WWE Championship.
The announce team of Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and Samoa Joe were back at ringside with the fans getting back to their seats. The weather threat has passed and the show is ready to begin.
It’s 8:34pm ET as the show began with the co-hosts of WrestleMania being introduced – Titus O’Neil and Hulk Hogan.
Titus O’Neil welcomed us to Raymond James Stadium and his city of Tampa Bay. The fans were loud popping for the words. O’Neil said that rain, sleet or snow, it doesn’t matter because the WWE Universe has that energy. Titus said for one year, one month and one day, they are back in business live. Hogan said he didn’t think they hurt Titus, so Titus did it again and he had a lot of energy. Hogan said that they are going to make history tonight and tomorrow night. O’Neil said they won’t kick it off with any match, they are kicking it off with the WWE Championship on the line. Hogan did one of his promos talking about Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre. Hogan did his “Whatcha gonna do” line and they mentioned the Hulkamaniacs running wild as usual.
Analysis: That was fine. There were some boos for Hogan in there I think, but not that loud although it was definitely there for a few seconds. I’m just saying some people don’t like the guy.
Drew McIntyre made his entrance as the challenger of the WWE Championship match. Drew had his store that he planted onto the stage and the pyro went off. Big pop for Drew as the first superstar to enter the ring in front of a WWE crowd in over one year. God damn it sounds great to hear the fans again. Drew got more pyro when he got in the ring. Drew had a big smile on his face in the ring. You can tell how much he loved being in there with a crowd again.
Bobby Lashley made his entrance as the WWE Champion with Montel Vontavious Porter joining him in a suit. Lashley got some pyro when he got into the ring. Ring announcer Mike Rome was in the ring to do the championship introductions.
The announcers for the match were Michael Cole replacing Tom Phillips along with Raw’s Samoa Joe and Byron Saxton. Phillips apparently is missing because of COVID-related protocols.
The bell rang for the first match at 8:45pm ET. That’s about 35 minutes later than they likely wanted it to be.
WWE Championship: Bobby Lashley (w/Montel Vontavious Porter) vs. Drew McIntyre
They locked up with a tight headlock early on with Lashley breaking free and hitting a shoulder tackle. McIntyre did a belly-to-belly suplex across the ring followed by a bit of a hand gesture. The announce team was standing up at ringside instead of sitting in their chairs. Lashley with a double fist thrust to the throat and then McIntyre delivered a clothesline that sent Lashley over the top to the floor. Some familiar WWE fans were around ringside including green shirt guy and the fans were wearing masks. Lashley was able to get control by tossing McIntyre into the barricade two times. Back in the ring, Lashley with a shoulder tackle and then a neckbreaker for just a one count. Lashley shoved McIntyre back first into the turnbuckle, then Lashley charged, Drew moved and Lashley went shoulder first into the turnbuckle. McIntyre with a jumping knee attack into the left arm and then an armbar on the left arm, but Lashley came back with punches to break free. Lashley with repeated shoulder tackles to the ribs while up against the turnbuckle. McIntyre came back with two clotheslines, then Drew ducked a clothesline and a belly-to-belly suplex across the ring. McIntyre with another overhead belly to belly suplex followed by a neckbreaker with the fans popping when McIntyre got back up with a kip-up. Lashley blocked a DDT by shoving McIntyre to the turnbuckle. McIntyre with an elbow to the face and then a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Lashley took control with a suplex, then Bobby had McIntyre on his shoulders and a spinning slam to the mat. McIntyre with a headbutt, but Lashley came back with a huge spinebuster for two. Lashley went for the Hurt Lock submission, McIntyre fought out of that and they exchanged elbows. McIntyre had Lashley on his back and flipped him over with a reverse Alabama Slam for a two count. McIntyre set up Lashley on the turnbuckle and Lashley was able to block a superplex attempt, so McIntyre slapped on a wrist lock. Lashley punched his way out of it, McIntyre was upside down and Drew popped up to slam Bobby down. Drew has done that many times before. McIntyre charged right into a spinebuster from Lashley. The fans were booing the heel WWE Champion Lashley. McIntyre kipped up again and said “bring it, bitch.”
They exchanged punches with McIntyre coming back with another belly-to-belly suplex and a Future Shock DDT. McIntyre hit a second Future Shock DDT and McIntyre picked up Lashley again with a third Future Shock DDT that was only good for a two count. That is not Drew’s finisher, but three big secondary moves in a row looked pretty good. The fans chanted “this is awesome” for them. McIntyre set up for the Claymore Kick, but Lashley fell to the mat with MVP pulling him out of the ring. McIntyre followed up with a somersault dive over the top onto Lashley/MVP on the floor! Huge pop for that move. Cole called Drew a “265-pound airbus taking flight” which is a good call. The fans loved that. Back in the ring, McIntyre jumped off the top and Lashley caught him with a suplex across the ring followed by a flatliner. Lashley called for McIntyre to get up as the fans booed Bobby and Lashley went for the Hurt Lock, but McIntyre flexed his way out of it and sent Lashley into the top turnbuckle. McIntyre charged and he countered a spinebuster attempt into a kimura lock submission on the left arm. The fans were wanting Lashley to tap, but Lashley was able to crawl to the bottom rope to force the break. Lashley and McIntyre got into a slugfest with Lashley sending McIntyre into the turnbuckle. McIntyre with a kick to the face followed by a headbutt. MVP was screaming at McIntyre to cause a distraction and Lashley managed to avoid a Claymore Kick attempt. Lashley slapped on the Hurt Lock submission with Drew going down to one knee and then Drew got back and kicked off the ropes, but Lashley did not let go of the Hurt Lock submission. McIntyre was fading on the mat and Lashley held onto the Hurt Lock. The referee called for the bell, so Lashley retains the WWE Championship! It went 18:20. The fans were booing Lashley’s win because they wanted a McIntyre win.
Winner by submission: Bobby Lashley
Analysis: **** This was a strong opener. I thought this was a great match between two heavyweights that move around the ring so well for guys their size. They worked their asses off, built up to the big moments well and the crowd was into everything. McIntyre sold everything very well including the final move. I thought McIntyre was going to win because they kept on building to him hitting the Claymore Kick and it never happened due in part to MVP distracting McIntyre enough that Lashley was able to capitalize. Lashley’s reign continues, which is cool because he can be a dominant heel champion that WWE can build around on Raw. I'm not sure what's next for Drew and that's okay, but I think he'll be fine whether he's in the title picture or not.
Bobby Lashley celebrated with MVP while the announcers talked about how tough it will be to beat Lashley for the title.
Bayley appeared backstage to talk to Hulk Hogan with NWO members Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman along with Titus O’Neil. I was writing about the previous match, so I didn’t catch it all. I think the idea was Bayley wanted to help Hulk and Titus out as the hosts.
There were commercials for a few minutes. I’m not recapping commercials.
The women’s tag team turmoil match is up next. Corey Graves joined Michael Cole for commentary for this match. It’s the team of Naomi & Lana vs. Carmella & Billie Kay up first. That’s bad for Naomi & Lana prediction, I think. Cole and Graves were seated at the commentary table, so that’s good after Cole had to stand up for the last match.
Women’s Tag Team Turmoil Match #1: Naomi & Lana vs. Carmella & Billie Kay
Lana with double knees to the back of Carmella and then Carmella did a head whip into the mat. Kay tagged in and Lana took her down with a legsweep. Naomi tagged in, she kicked Kay down and Naomi jumped off the ropes with a kick to the head. Lana completely missed a kick with Kay still selling it and the announcers tried to cover for it. Double team head whip into the mat by Naomi and Lana. Carmella broke up a pin attempt. Kay got a rollup on Naomi and Carmella had her feet on the back of Kay for support, so that was enough to win. I’ll have a rating for the end of the match.
Naomi & Lana were eliminated.
Women’s Tag Team Turmoil Match #2: Carmella & Billie Kay vs. Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan
Morgan was aggressive with a running dropkick as soon as she got into the ring. The heels took over with Carmella hitting a superkick leading to Kay getting a two count. Kay kicked Riott off the apron. Kay got a rollup on Morgan with Carmella trying to cheat again, but the referee saw it and stopped it. Morgan with double knees to Kay and then Riott hit a senton splash onto Kay (who was on Morgan’s knees) for the pinfall win. After losing the match, Carmella kicked Morgan with a cheap shot.
Carmella & Billie Kay were eliminated.
Women’s Tag Team Turmoil Match #3: Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan vs. Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose
Mandy Rose slipped on the ramp on her way to the ring because there was some water on there. Oops. She was okay when she got to the ring. Brooke with a running knee on Riott and Brooke hit a Blockbuster neckbreaker for a two count. Brooke hit a spinning neckbreaker on Riott for a two count. Riott came back with a nearfall on Rose. Morgan tagged in with a step up enziguri on Rose and Morgan jumped onto Mandy’s back for a two count. Riott back, Morgan with a double knee and Riott hit a Riott Kick for a pin with Brooke breaking it up. Morgan was back in with Rose sending her into the turnbuckle and hitting a shoulder tackle. Morgan with an overhead slam on Riott. Morgan to the turnbuckle, Rose went after her, Brooke tagged in and Rose hit a superplex off the middle ropes. Brooke jumped off the top with a Senton Bomb on Morgan for two and then Morgan turned it into an inside cradle for the pinfall. Ring announcer Greg Hamilton said Riott Squad was eliminated and then he did a correction.
Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke were eliminated.
Women’s Tag Team Turmoil Match #4: Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan vs. Natalya & Tamina
This is the last match in Tag Team Turmoil. The heel team of Natalya & Tamia were dominant right away with Natalya hitting a Powerbomb on Morgan for a two count, but Riott managed to save Morgan. Tamina with repeated knees to Morgan and then Morgan fought back with punches. Riott got the tag with Morgan sending Riott into Tamina and Riott hit a shoulder tackle. Morgan with a double knee attack on Riott and Riott hit another senton splash off the top with Liv getting a two count on Tamina. Tamina delivered a superkick to Morgan and she kicked Riott down. Natalya was back in with a Hart Attack double team clothesline made famous by the Hart Foundation. Natalya teased a Sharpshooter and then told Tamina to tag in, so Tamina got the tag. Tamina jumped up off the top with a Superfly Splash and Tamina pinned Riott to get the pinfall win. That’s it for Tag Team Turmoil after 14:15.
Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan were eliminated.
Winners: Natalya & Tamina
Analysis: *3/4 The match was below average. They got through it although in terms of fan reaction, the crowd was dead quiet for a lot of it. The heel duo of Natalya & Tamina getting the win thanks to countering the babyface energy of Ruby Riott & Liv Morgan. The crowd wasn’t that interested in the match that much, but they clearly wanted Ruby and Liv to win. Some of the earlier teams barely got any reaction from the crowd. Part of that is because the match wasn’t built up that well, so it was tough to get into it. They might have Natalya & Tamina win the titles since Tamina hasn't won a title in her WWE career, so it would be a way to get a title on her after being in WWE for over a decade. I know fans don't like Tamina that much, but she is well respected by her peers.
The win means that Natalya & Tamina will challenge Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax for the Women’s Tag Team Titles. They showed Shayna and Nia watching on a TV backstage.
There were some commercials for a few minutes.
Seth Rollins made his entrance for the third match of the night. They showed a video that aired on Smackdown that was Rollins doing a political ad-style video trashing Cesaro. There was a pretty good ovation for Cesaro, which is good to hear since he turned face a few months ago and you don’t know how the crowd is going to react. There was a replay from two months ago when Cesaro gave Rollins the Cesaro Swing 22 times in the ring.
Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro
Cesaro was the aggressor early on until Rollins pulled Cesaro’s arm against the top rope. Cesaro with a dropkick while Rollins was on the top rope. Rollins came back with a Buckle Bomb for two. Cesaro with uppercuts, Rollins managed to block and sent Cesaro to the apron. Rollins went up top and hit a superplex off the top into a Falcon Arrow slam for two. Cesaro with a backslide for two, then Cesaro with repeated uppercuts and Graves talked about how they are friends that traveled together for so many years. Cesaro with a running uppercut on Rollins against both turnbuckles. Cesaro hit a discus clothesline likely as a tribute to Luke Harper/Brodie Lee and that got a two count. Cesaro teased going for the Cesaro Swing, but Rollins was able to get to the ropes and Rollins hit a step up enziguri. Cesaro managed to get a hold of Rollins leading to the Cesaro Swing. There were nine swings by Cesaro, who was selling the right arm injury and then Cesaro went for the Sharpshooter, but Rollins managed to get to the bottom rope to break the hold. The fans chanted “one more time” wanted the swing again. Rollins with a back drop out of the Neutralizer, Rollins moved and Cesaro’s uppercut hit the turnbuckle so Cesaro hurt his right arm again. Rollins with a springboard knee to the face followed by a Slingblade neckbreaker. Rollins jumped off the top and hit a Corkscrew Frog Splash for a two count! That was impressive. The replay made it look even better. Rollins went for a move, Cesaro flipped out of it and Cesaro hit a Neutralizer for just a two count. That is Cesaro’s finisher, so Cesaro was shocked that it didn’t win the match. Cesaro went for the Neutralizer again, but Rollins flipped out of that and Rollins hit a Pedigree (his finishing move in the past) for a two count. The fans were really getting into the match now after those two nearfalls.
Rollins trash-talked Cesaro saying he survived the Neutralizer and The Swing, so Rollins said he was a God. Rollins with a forearm to the back of the head. Rollins went for a running knee, Cesaro ducked and Rollins kicked him to knock Cesaro down. Rollins set up for The Stomp, but Cesaro went up with an uppercut. Cesaro spun Rollins around on his shoulders in a move he calls the UFO. Cesaro applied the Cesaro Swing with the crowd chanting along for every spin as Cesaro spun Rollins around for 23 swings. Cesaro hit the Neutralizer in the middle of the ring and got the pinfall win at 11:40. Big pop from the crowd for the win.
Winner by pinfall: Cesaro
Analysis: ****1/4 This was an excellent match for the time given with Cesaro picking up the win just as he should have done. The story made sense to have Cesaro pick up the win since it was his first singles match at a WrestleMania. I like how Cesaro was favoring the right arm injury early on, he kept on fighting through it and selling it the whole way. They did some smart nearfalls with Cesaro getting a two count with a Neutralizer and then Rollins got a two count with a Pedigree. Rollins never managed to hit The Stomp during the match, but I really liked that spot with Cesaro countering it leading to an uppercut. From there, Cesaro took over and a second Neutralizer got him the win. I would have liked to see them get more than 12 minutes, but I am happy that they had a fast-paced match and it was full of action. I just think if they got another five minutes it could have been a more classic match. The advantage of going "only" 12 minutes is that they didn't do a lot of rest holds and there was a lot of action. I enjoyed it a lot.
Cesaro celebrated the win in a big way with the crowd popping big for him. Cesaro was pointing to all four sides of the ring and the fans were cheering them loudly. Graves correctly said that the fans were cheering for Cesaro and he’s sure the locker room was as well because everybody respects Cesaro so much.
Analysis: That reaction for Cesaro was tremendous. As I said earlier, I didn’t know how the fans were going to react to him, but I’m glad they showed him a lot of love.
They showed a clip from Smackdown with Jey Uso winning the Andre the Battle Royal. Shinsuke Nakamura was the runner up. Also, Dolph Ziggler & Robert Roode retained the Smackdown Tag Team Titles in a Fatal 4-Way match.
Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode were interviewed backstage by Kayla Braxton. They had their Smackdown Tag Team Titles. Ziggler and Roode bragged about how good they look with their titles. They were asked about New Day’s match vs. AJ Styles/Omos and they gave some heel answers in reply.
Big E was on the stage to do the New Day introduction for his buddies Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods as the Raw Tag Team Champions. Big E was wearing the Intercontinental Title.
AJ Styles entered with Omos, who was dressed in a dress shirt and black pants rather than any kind of wrestling gear. Omos is 7’3” and a legit giant that has been under WWE contract for a few years, so now we get to see his in-ring debut in WWE.
Raw Tag Team Championships: The New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston) vs. AJ Styles & Omos
AJ Styles started with Kofi Kingston with AJ doing a headscissors. Omos was wrestling in a tight tank top rather than being shirtless. Styles and Kofi did an exchange of moves with Styles grabbing a headlock. After Kingston broke free, he brought in Woods and Woods slapped on a headlock while telling us that they were cutting the ring in half. New Day did their unicorn stampede repeated kicks on Styles. Woods controlled Styles with a headlock for about one minute with Omos nearly tagging in. Kingston was back in for a double team bulldog. Styles tried to tag out, Kingston was blocking him from doing it and Styles ran around the ring. Woods got the tag and knocked Styles out of the ring again. Woods dropkicked Styles into the barricade. Kingston was back in with a double foot stomp to the chest for two. Styles nearly tagged in, legal man Woods stopped him repeatedly and Styles kicked Woods into the corner. Kingston was back in with a Frog Splash off the top rope onto AJ’s back for a two count. New Day kept on taunting Omos while they isolated Styles. Woods tagged in, Styles knocked Kofi out of the ring and Omos got the tag against Woods. The crowd popped for Omos because there was such a long build for this as Woods faced off with Omos. Woods with kicks to the legs and a dropkick with Omos no selling it. Kingston tagged in, he jumped off the top and Omos blocked a clothesline. Omos tossed Kingston down by the arm. New Day were stunned as they stared up at Omos, who tossed Kingston into the turnbuckle. Omos with a running back elbow smashes on both guys against the turnbuckle. Omos did a backbreaker across the knee and then the claw on the face of Woods. Omos got a hold of Kingston and gave him a backbreaker. Styles jumped off the shoulders of Omos and hit a Phenomenal Forearm on Woods. That was a cool spot. Omos picked up Kingston and gave him a two-handed Chokeslam. Styles told Omos to pin with one foot, so Omos put his foot on Kingston to cover for the pinfall win. The match went 9:45.
Winners by pinfall AND NEW Raw Tag Team Champions: AJ Styles & Omos
Analysis: **1/2 It was just an average match and that’s okay because it was about the story. I liked what they did with Styles isolated from his partner, then Styles finally got the tag and Omos had a dominant “rookie” performance by destroying both New Day guys easily because he’s such a big guy. I liked the Phenomenal Forearm spot by Styles off the shoulders of Omos. The finish worked too with Omos hitting a huge move followed by a pin with one foot. I like how it was booked although the heel team being cheered a bit isn't what WWE likely wanted, but that was the smart way to do it.
Post match, Styles and Omos celebrated with the titles. Omos put AJ on his shoulders and AJ had the titles with him.
There were several commercials that aired including the WWE 2K22 video game coming soon.
Sasha Banks was shown backstage getting ready for the main event.
The Steel Cage was being lowered above the ring. That led to the Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman video package. That led to my bathroom break.
Shane McMahon made his entrance first. Braun Strowman was next and he got a pretty good reaction from the crowd. They popped for the big guy. As Strowman nearly got into the cage, Shane held onto the door for a bit. That led to Elias and Jaxson Ryker attacking Strowman from behind with chair shots. Elias and Ryker attacked Strowman with chair shots to the left leg, so Strowman was dealing with a knee injury.
Steel Cage Match: Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon
The ways to win a WWE Steel Cage Match are pinfall, submission, climb over the top to the floor or walk out the door. Jerry Lawler joined the commentary team for this match.
Shane kept Strowman down with repeated chair shots to the back and the left knee. Strowman managed to block a chair shot. When Shane tried to leave, Strowman stopped him. Shane delivered some punches, but Strowman got a hold of him and tossed him across the ring. Shane climbed up the side of the ring and grabbed a piece of sheet metal that was on the cage. Shane hit Strowman with the sheet metal to the back and to the head, but Strowman kicked out of a pin attempt. Shane tried to get out the door, Strowman stopped him and whipped Shane into the cage two times. Strowman with an uppercut punch to the face. Strowman hit a running splash on Shane against the steel cage. Strowman with a powerful punch to the chest to knock Shane down. Strowman lifted Shane up, then Strowman went back to selling the injured left leg and Shane shoved Strowman into the cage three times. Shane jumped up and hit a leaping DDT. Shane went up top and hit the Coast to Coast dropkick on Strowman for a two count. That was impressive by Shane at 51 years old. Shane climbed up the side of the cage with Ryker and Elias there to help him out, but Strowman countered that by doing a shoulder tackle into the cage to knock everybody down. That was a clever spot. Shane was back up to the top of the cage and Shane managed to grab a toolbox that was in some bag that was on top of the cage. Shane hit Strowman in the head with Braun bumping back into the ring. Shane was on the outside of the cage and he was halfway down. Shane was waving at Strowman, who got back up and grabbed Shane by the head. Strowman ripped off part of the cage and got a hold of Shane in the ring. Strowman beat up Shane with punches to the body. The fans were cheering for Strowman. Strowman lifted Shane up to the top of the cage with Braun going to the top of the cage with him. Strowman picked up Shane so that they were standing on the cage. Braun: “WHO’S STUPID NOW?” Braun tossed Shane off the cage into the ring. That was a huge bump by Shane in the ring. Strowman could have climbed down the cage to win the match, but he went back into the ring. Strowman said this is for every person that has ever been called stupid. Strowman picked up Shane and walked him around the ring leading to a Running Powerslam for the pinfall win at 12:02.
Winner by pinfall: Braun Strowman
Analysis: **3/4 It was a dominant win for Strowman in a match that went longer than most of us probably didn’t see coming. I thought the story worked pretty well with the cheap attack before the match to weaken Strowman by giving him a knee injury and then Strowman was able to make the big comeback. We all knew Shane was going to take a big bump and that’s what happened when he took that slam off the top rope and landed hard into the ring. I thought they would find a way to incorporate a table into the match so that Strowman could throw Shane through a table in a big spot. Anyway, what they did worked and the fans were solidly behind Strowman, so that’s what matters. This was probably the most predictable match on the entire WrestleMania card. Strowman winning was the right call.
Strowman left triumphantly and the fans popped for the big man. Shane was getting helped by referees in the ring.
Analysis: I can see Strowman going after Bobby Lashley for the WWE Title after this. It makes sense to me since it’s a fresh feud.
There were some commercials.
There was an incredible pyro display to pop the crowd some more.
Michael Cole and the announce team were about to introduce the Hall of Fame class. Bayley showed up saying that Hulk Hogan and Titus O’Neil didn’t want her help, so she thought she would help the announcers. Bayley cued up the video.
There were highlights shown from the 2020 Hall of Fame class. The broadcast aired this past Tuesday.
The 2020 Hall of Fame class was on the stage: John Bradshaw Layfield, William Shatner (not there so they showed a picture), The Bella Twins - Nikki & Brie Bella, Jushin Thunder Liger (not there so they showed a picture), Warrior Award recipient Titus O’Neil and The British Bulldog (represented by wife Diana Hart Smith, son Harry Smith and daughter Georgia Smith). Lastly, it was the New World Order group with Hulk Hogan, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Sean Waltman. All four of those guys are two-time Hall of Famers now. I assume we’ll get to see the 2021 Hall of Fame class on Sunday night.
Analysis: The fans cheered for everybody in the Hall of Fame class. That’s always a cool moment at WrestleMania.
There were some commercials.
A commercial aired for WrestleMania 38 next year with Steve Austin narrating a video about it since Austin is a native Texan. Next year’s WrestleMania will be at AT&T Stadium in Dallas. It said April 2022 as the date rather than just listing the Sunday date. It’s the same venue as WrestleMania 32 in 2016.
Analysis: I wonder if they go with a two-night WrestleMania next year too. You can get more matches on the show, you can sell more tickets for two straight nights and I think it's fair to say fans will be used to it after this year. I'm all for two-night WrestleMania events. I enjoy it much more than watching a six or seven-hour show.
Booker T joined commentary for the next match.
There were about 20 or more guys in bunny costumes that hopped down to the ring. Booker T said that we should back and watch to see what happens. All of these people in the bunny costumes went into the ring. That led to The Miz and John Morrison singing their terrible “rap” song “Hey Hey Hop Hop” and it wasn’t very good, but that’s to be expected since heels are supposed to be bad.
A video package aired to set up Damian Priest & Bad Bunny vs. The Miz & John Morrison. It started at Royal Rumble and it led to this.
Damian Priest made his entrance to a solid reaction for Priest’s WrestleMania debut. Bad Bunny was up next and he was shown on the road on top of a black truck. Bad Bunny was driven into the back part of the stadium and he was on a truck as the pyro went off behind him. There was a pretty big reaction for Bad Bunny, who walked down to the ring with a lot of confidence.
Analysis: The combined time for the entrances and video packages must have been around 15 minutes although I didn’t time it.
Damian Priest & Bad Bunny vs. The Miz & John Morrison
Priest was going to start the match, but Miz wanted Bunny to start the match and Bunny tagged in with the fans popping for that. Bunny rocked Miz with a right hand with Morrison telling Miz that was lucky. Miz with a waistlock leading to Bunny elbowing Miz in the face. Bunny with punches, then Miz took over and put his forearm against the face of Bunny. There was a takedown by Bunny leading to punches, but Miz was able to take over with punches. Bunny did a nice job of hitting an armdrag takedown that led to Miz rolling out of the ring. Miz was stunned by that. Back in the ring, Bunny with a drop toehold and Bunny did La Magistral cradle for a two count. That was impressive. Miz came back with a knee to the ribs and then he tossed Bunny into the ropes. Bunny was on the apron, shoulder to the ribs and Bunny ran the ropes leading to a headscissors! That was pretty good. Morrison tagged in with Bunny hitting a headbutt and Bunny followed up with a jumping elbow smash on Morrison. When Bunny went for it again, Morrison hit an elbow and Miz punched Bunny to knock him down. The heels took over with Morrison hitting a knee to the face. Miz was back in with a chinlock along with some more punches and kicks. I think I heard Miz say “go outside” to Bunny as he kicked Bunny to the floor so that Morrison could send Bunny into the announce table. Morrison did a Spinarooni to taunt Booker T as well. Miz with a punch to the ribs of Bunny. Miz punched Priest on the apron, so that led to Miz/Morrison stomping on Bunny repeatedly. Miz had Bunny set up against the turnbuckle, Miz charged right into a kick by Bunny and Bunny hit a nice DDT out of the corner.
Priest finally got the tag about ten minutes into the match. Priest with multiple kicks to Miz and a clothesline on Morrison. Priest lifted Miz for a suplex into a slam on Morrison. Priest with a sitout Chokeslam. Bunny was back in and Priest/Bunny hit a sitout Falcon Arrow slam onto each of Miz and Morrison. Priest ran the ropes, jumped off the middle ropes and landed onto Miz/Morrison on the floor. Bad Bunny went up top and he hit a cross body block onto Miz/Morrison. Priest went for his finisher, but Miz countered with a Skull Crushing Finale for two because Bunny made the save. The fans were really getting into it. There was a big spot on the floor with Bad Bunny hitting a version of a Canadian Destroyer that was incredible! Booker called it a Bunny Destroyer. The announcers were shocked by it while the fans loved it. Priest lifted up Miz on his shoulders and Bunny jumped off the top with the cross body block into a pin for the win at 15:05. The crowd popped big for it.
Winners by pinfall: Damian Priest & Bad Bunny
Analysis: ***3/4 This match was really good. Bad Bunny was so impressive in this match and I like how it was put together. You can tell that Bad Bunny put in a lot of work in terms of wrestling training. Some of Bunny's moves looked pretty good, his punches look decent and he sold everything pretty well when needed. The fans were completely invested in that Bad Bunny match as well. They popped for everything, they bought when Miz got that nearfall on Priest and Bunny made the save. Some of the moves by Bad Bunny were impressive like the headscissors, the DDT out of the corner and the Canadian Destroyer on the floor. I think the cross body block off the turnbuckle while Priest held Miz worked as a safe finishing move and also something that was believable to win the match. Give a lot of credit to Morrison and Miz for their performance here because they were in the right place at the right time throughout the match while Priest had a nice showing in his first WrestleMania match too.
Bad Bunny and Damian Priest celebrated the victory. The fans were really happy about it. You could hear a lot of screams from fans supporting Bad Bunny too. The guy is popular.
Analysis: I really think that was one of the best matches that a celebrity has had in a WWE ring. Making it a tag team match was the right move for sure, but Bunny could probably do pretty well in a singles match too.
The announcers talked about Bobby Lashley retaining the WWE Championship in the opening match against Drew McIntyre.
There was a rundown of the lineup for WrestleMania on Sunday night.
The announced attendance, which WWE sent out in a press release, was 25,675 fans and that was considered a sellout based on the number of tickets they were allowed to sell. That's cool. It would have been 70,000+ without the COVID-19 restrictions in place.
The video package aired for the Night 1 main even with Sasha Banks defending the Smackdown Women’s Title defending the gold against Royal Rumble 2021 winner Bianca Belair. This video was really well done and I liked the song choice too.
Bianca Belair made her entrance first as the challenger. Sasha Banks was up next as the Smackdown Women’s Champion. Both women got impressive pyro displays as part of their entrances, but they didn’t get anything that was extra special. Banks has blue hair with a green streak. The fans popped big as ring announcer Greg Hamilton said that this is for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. Cole talked about how they were making history with two black women main eventing WrestleMania together.
Analysis: The crowd was into this really well. That’s a great sign for the ladies when you’re over three hours into the show (thanks to the weather delay).
— WWE (@WWE) April 11, 2021
Smackdown Women’s Championship: Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair
Banks with a takedown followed by some trash talk and Belair got in Sasha’s face to talk shit to her. Belair avoided a Banks attack using her athleticism. Belair lifted up Banks, but Banks was able to get out of it. Belair got a hold of Banks, she went for a move and Banks sent Belair out of the ring. Banks with a baseball slide knocked down Belair on the floor. Banks sent Belair throat first into the top rope and into the ring post. Banks ran the ropes with a suicide dive on the floor, Belair caught Banks did a press slam. Belair brought Banks into the ring and slammed her. Banks was able to come back with a dropkick for two. Belair with a shoulder tackle followed by a body slam. Belair went for a moonsault, Banks grabbed the hair, Banks with repeated knee smashes and a running knee got a two count. Banks took over with a chinlock leading to Banks pulling back on the arms, which led to a plug for the sponsor Snickers. I cover it all. Banks with a knee to the jaw. Banks went for the double knee attack, but Belair did a slam. Banks grabbed the hair of Belair, who pulled back on her own hair and that led to Belair sending Banks into the steel steps. Banks charged on the floor, Belair moved and Banks hit the barricade. Belair used her power to hit a delayed vertical suplex. Banks went for an arm drag off the ropes, but Belair came back with a clothesline, shoulder tackle and a dropkick. Belair with a running Shooting Star Press followed by a shoulder tackle against the ropes. Belair hooked the arms of Banks leading to Belair slamming Banks face-first into the mat. Belair was on the top rope and Belair went for a 450 Splash, but Banks got both of her knees up to block. Good spot there with Banks blocking a big move to change the momentum in the match.
Belair got a sunset flip for two, Banks with a backslide pin for two and Belair caught a running Banks leading to a Powerbomb by Belair. Belair hit a second Powerbomb for two with Banks barely kicking out. Belair went for a third Powerbomb but Banks countered it by sending Belair face first with an X-Factor into the mat. Banks hit a spinning DDT off the middle ropes for two. Banks went up top, she jumped off and she hit a Frog Splash for a two count. Banks pulled on the left arm of Belair against the ropes and then Banks sent Belair into the steel steps. Banks asked Cole what time it is and then Cole said it was “Boss Time” as he likes to say. Banks was pulling on Belair’s long hair a bit and then Banks applied the Bank Statement submission. Belair rolled forward and got her hand on the bottom ropes to break it. Banks called Belair a “rookie” and Belair shoved Banks back first into the turnbuckle. They battled on the turnbuckle with punches, but then Banks trapped Belair upside down against the ropes. Banks was getting booed a bit as she talked trash. Banks jumped off the top, Belair moved and then Banks hit the turnbuckle when she went for a double knee attack. Belair went up top and hit a 450 Splash for one…two…and no. Belair was shocked by it was just a two count. Belair went for the KOD slam, Banks pulled on the hair and then Belair hit Banks in the ribs with the hair. That led to a loud “smack” sound. Belair went for the KOD and then Belair hit the Kiss of Death slam for the pinfall win. Cole for some reason thought that Banks kicked out, but there was no kick out. Cole corrected himself saying that Belair won and he was so shocked by it. Belair was the winner at 17:15. New champion!
Winner by pinfall AND NEW Smackdown Women’s Champion: Bianca Belair
Analysis: **** It was a very good match with Bianca Belair coming through with the biggest win of her career. The finishing sequence was really clever because Banks was pulling on Belair’s hair all match long, so to have Belair hit her in the ribs with the hair and then hit the KOD slam was the right way to end the match. I thought Banks was terrific in terms of being cocky throughout the match. What I thought the match was lacking was they didn’t have enough nearfalls and near submission moments. The best nearfall was Belair hitting the 450 Splash for a two count, but I felt like they could have had Banks coming close to winning multiple times. Instead, they didn’t tease enough near finishes. Belair winning was the obvious move, it was the right call and the fans wanted her to win, so obviously WWE made the right decision with Belair leaving with the title. (I liked it more on the second viewing and boosted the rating up to four stars out of five.)
They showed replays of the big spots including Belair’s family celebrating the win. Banks had a scar on her ribs from the hair whip spot.
Belair celebrated with the Smackdown Women’s Title and the sky was filled with fireworks. Belair celebrated some more as the pyro went off. That was it for the show.
Analysis: Belair will probably have a long reign as champion since she has been pushed a lot this year already with the Royal Rumble win and then WrestleMania. A feud with Bayley makes sense, but there are also other women she can feud with too. A Belair/Banks rematch would do well any time too.
This event had a runtime of 3:37:59 on WWE Network. If you take out the delay that was about 35 to 40 minutes then the run time is right around three hours.
Five Stars of the Show
2. Seth Rollins
3. Bianca Belair/Sasha Banks
4. Bad Bunny/Damian Priest/The Miz/John Morrison
5. Bobby Lashley/Drew McIntyre
I’m going with an 8 out of 10 for this show.
I enjoyed WrestleMania Night 1. It’s hard to pick my favorite match because there were a few really stood out to me, but if I have to pick one then probably Cesaro beating Rollins. With that said, I think they should have got more than 12 minutes for that match. I thought Lashley beating McIntyre was a terrific match between two big guys that are great athletes and told an interesting story. Bad Bunny was very impressive in his match and it was one of the better celebrity performances I’ve ever seen in a wrestling match. Credit Miz/Morrison and Priest for doing their parts well too. I thought Bianca Belair/Sasha Banks had a pretty good. I think they could have used more dramatic moments like nearfalls or near submissions to make it look like Sasha might win because it was just too obvious Bianca was going to win, which she did. It’s still a match and I’m proud of both women for getting the chance to main event.
There wasn’t anything that bad on the show either. The Women’s Tag Team Turmoil was lacking in terms of excitement and crowd reaction, but it was a way to get more people on the show. They booked the Omos in-ring debut in a way that made him look like a big star because of how New Day reacted to him and sold for him. It's a story that worked well. It's not always about putting on a classic match. I thought Braun Strowman’s win over Shane McMahon was actually booked well and ended with Shane taking a big bump as usual.
Going into this WrestleMania, I was most looking forward to hearing the crowd again and they were pretty good for most of the show. It helped a lot. Several great matches helped too. With a runtime right around three hours (after the delay for nearly 40 minutes), it didn't drag at all. I’m a big fan of the two-night WrestleMania idea. Plus, when you think about how cheap it is to watch this stuff whether it's Peacock or WWE Network, there's a pretty good value here. Bring on night two tomorrow!