WrestleMania 37 was the first WWE show in front of a live crowd in over a year. Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL saw 13 matches, 5 new champions, 2 heels retain their titles and one main historical event.
It’s going to be tough to judge this year’s WrestleMania without comparing the two nights. Night One, even with the rain delay, started off with a bang and got better and better as the show went on. Night 2 opened with a bad match and an even worse finish. The second match did little to expel the bad taste in people’s mouths. The rest of the show was solid until the main event, where things finally went into fifth gear.
Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair was the best match of WrestleMania. The entire affair provided a hallmark moment where years from now, people will remember where they were when two Black women put on a stellar main event. There is a video circulating where a fan at ringside recorded Banks having such a hard time selling her loss because she was overcome by the moment’s enormity. Her reaction honestly said it all.
The hair whip spot with the Belair’s long braid was perfect. Banks pulled on the braid throughout the match. In a live by the sword, die by the sword moment, Belair had enough and whipped Banks with one hard shot that echoed throughout the stadium before hitting KOD for the win.
Undertaker/Kurt Angle/The Rock at Vengeance 2002 was my Triple Threat GOAT until last night. The Universal Championship Match with Roman Reigns, Daniel Bryan, and Edge told a remarkable story. Reigns’ title run is special, and he shouldn’t lose until WWE can make the right up-and-coming babyface talent into a star. Maybe Big E? This marks the third time WrestleMania has ended with the heel on top.
Roman Reigns is more compelling as a heel than he ever was as a babyface. Out of the three stories WWE could have told, they decided to cement Reigns’ dominance by having him pin both Bryan and Edge at the same time. This move reminded everyone that Reigns is the top guy in WWE, and now that he’s a heel; who’s going to stop him?
Bad Bunny & Damien Priest toppling The Miz & John Morrison was the surprise hit of the show. The match was better than it had any business being. Diehard fans roll their eyes at celebrity matches. The were rumors Bad Bunny trained hard for this match, and he delivered tenfold. Miz and Morrison perfectly portrayed the heels you love to hate, and seeing them lose was the icing on the cake. Bad Bunny gets the award for best celebrity performance at a WrestleMania.
Sheamus and Riddle kept their streak of great matches intact. Some will call attention to Sheamus slipping off the top rope while attempting White Noise. He didn’t slip. Sheamus had Riddle in the move, but his footing wasn’t right, and White Noise is hard to do off the top rope. Like I did, Sheamus realized the chance of hitting the move safely without hurting Riddle was slim, so he “botched” the move and hit it in the ring. I’m never going to criticize a wrestler for choosing safety over spectacle.
Cesaro finally got his big win by pinning Seth Rollins. I honestly didn’t think WWE would pull the trigger on Cesaro, but they did. It was a fun match that had everyone engaged from bell to bell. I just hope they follow up by doing something significant with Cesaro.
Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn was fun while it lasted. The match played more like a greatest hits collection of moves from their Ring of Honor days than anything else. At first, I was surprised it wasn’t given more time. However, once Logan Paul entered the ring, it was clear this match was all about one thing. Kevin Owens giving the YouTube star a Stunner, which is what the crowd wanted.
Apollo Crews winning the Intercontinental Title from Big E was a tale of two cities. Apollo got a much-needed win while it appears Big E is moving on to bigger and better things. Their match was relatively short, and the interference finish came out of nowhere in a non-compelling way. It’s exciting to see what’s next for Big E, and it’s great to see such a talented performer in Crews finally find his rhythm in WWE.
The steel cage match between Shane McMahon and Bruan Strowman was better than anyone expected. Strowman using his power to rip through the cage and pull McMahon back into the ring was fantastic. Shane’s customary WrestleMania stunt didn’t disappoint as he did a flip bump off the top of the cage and to the ring with no table to pad his landing. Fun outing between the two, and hopefully, this feud is over.
Rhea Ripley beating Auska for the Raw Women’s Championship failed to garner the desired result. It reminded me of AJ Styles vs. Shinsuke Nakamura from WrestleMania 34. It was good but never came close to reaching dream match standards. Ripley and Auska worked hard, but the crowd never got into it. It’s a shame since many felt Ripley should have won the title last year, and now that she has, it was a non-event.
Despite some flashes of fun, the matches involving the women’s tag team titles were not good. The Fiend vs. Randy Orton, which opened Night 2, was short (thank goodness), creatively poor, and was a nothing match inside the ring. The finish saw The Fiend get distracted by Alexa Bliss, who was oozing the same black goo that Orton has been coughing up for weeks. The feud suffered from too much hocus pocus, and it showed as the crowd booed the finish, which got the show off to a horrible start.
WWE deserves a lot of credit for putting on this year’s WrestleMania. Despite returning fans, COVID protocols, and weather delays for the first time in 13 stadium-filled WrestleMania’s, the show was handled exceptionally well, and I want to thank WWE for putting on a fun event.
So, where does WrestleMania 37 rank among its predecessors?
Night 1 felt like WrestleMania, while Night 2 came off as an inflated Raw episode with a stellar main event. Traditionally, main events are supposed to be the best match of the show, and the last match on both nights will go down as classics. Some are disappointed, so many heels went over. That is not the norm for WrestleMania, but WWE deserves a pass here. WrestleMania is usually the culmination of feuds and the beginning of new storylines.
However, this year, WWE took a divergent path.
Instead of happily ever after, they reset the board by establishing who the leading players are going forward. Instead of caving to tradition, they recognized that Bobby Lashley and Roman Reigns are too hot to drop their respective world titles right now. Yes, they’re both heels, but WWE doesn’t have a compelling challenger waiting in the wings, and fans are still very much praising “The All-Mighty” and enjoying their time at the “Head of the Table.” If anything,
WrestleMania 37 will be remembered for going against the grain near what is hopefully the end of challenging times. Night 1 was an absolute blast, and Night 2 delivered a stellar Triple Threat Match. No star ratings or numerical rankings need apply.
–Night One Results:
Bobby Lashley w/MVP defeated Drew McIntyre via technical submission to retain the WWE Championship.
Natalya & Tamina won the Tag Team Turmoil Match to earn a tag team title match on night two.
AJ Styles & Omos defeated The New Day to become the new Raw Tag Team Champions when Omos pinned Xavier Woods with one foot.
Bruan Strowman pinned Shane McMahon in a Steel Cage Match.
Bad Bunny & Damien Priest defeated The Miz & John Morrison when Bunny pinned Miz.
Bianca Belair defeated Sasha Banks to become the new SmackDown Women’s Champion.
-Night Two Results:
Randy Orton pinned The Fiend after hitting the RKO: Alexa Bliss seemingly turned on The Fiend, causing the distraction that allowed Orton to deliver the RKO.
Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler defeated Natalya & Tamina to retain the Women’s Tag Team Championship when Baszler choked out Natalya with the Kirifuda Clutch.
Kevin Owens pinned Sami Zayn w/ Logan Paul after hitting a Stunner. Owens hit Logan Paul with a Stunner after the match.
Sheamus defeated Riddle to become the new United States Champion after drilling Riddle with a Brogue Kick coming off a moonsault.
Apollo Crews defeated Big E in a Nigerian Drum Fight to become the new Intercontinental Champion. Dabba-Kato interfered in the closing moments of the match costing Big E the title.
Rhea Ripley defeated Auska with Riptide to become the new Raw Women’s Champion.
Roman Reigns defeated Edge and Daniel Bryan in a Triple Threat Match to retain the Universal Championship.