WrestleMania 38 Night 2 kicked off with an unexpected appearance by Triple H, who came to the ring, did his classic water spit, and left his wrestling boots in the middle of the ring, signifying his retirement from the squared circle. While H officially two weeks ago, it was on ESPN +. It was fitting for him to have one more meaningful appearance in front of a contemporary WWE crowd that he helped cultivate.
Three wrestlers at a time made for a more action-packed affair. RK-Bro defeated The Street Profits and Alpha Academy to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship in a fun opening contest. It was nice to see them deviate from the typical WWE Triple Threat Match formula of two wrestlers in the ring while the third wrestler is removed until it’s time to switch.
The double RKO finish, Matt Riddle with the springboard RKO on Montez Ford, followed by Randy Orton catching Chad Gable in for the perfect RKO out of nowhere was the exclamation point on a great opening match.
Chad Gable’s night was not done yet as he interrupted an RK-BRO/Street Profits post-match celebration with WWE’s newest project, Olympic Gold medalist Gable Steveson. Chad slapped the drink out of Steveson’s hand, and he received a big belly-to-belly suplex for his troubles. Before the altercation, I said Chad Gable would be a great first program for Steveson when he’s ready for television…Great minds!
In an unexpected outcome, Bobby Lashley defeated the seven-foot-three Omos. Lashley was in the unfamiliar role of underdog to his larger opponent. Omos debuted at last year’s WrestleMania, and was booked strong all year, which is why it was surprising to see him take the L. Honestly, Omos hasn’t improved much as a wrestler. Perhaps, WWE has given up on the prospect of a main event Omos and went with the proven commodity in Lashley.
A theater of the absurd arrives in the form of Johnny Knoxville of Jackass fame, defeating Sami Zayn in an Anything Goes Match. This match was essentially an episode of Jackass, which is why it worked so well. Otherwise, it would have been an absolute mess. Some wrestling purists hated this match, but the overwhelming reaction from the crowd reaction produced a different opinion.
This match was a blast from start to finish. Wee Man making a surprise appearance and body slamming Zayn might have garnered the biggest pop of the night. The mousetrap finish, yes, you read that right, the giant ACME-looking mouse trap pinned down Zayn for the 1-2-3 in a hilarious moment that proves you don’t always have to take sports entertainment so seriously. And this is coming from someone who loves good wrestling.
Naomi and Sasha Banks won the Women’s Tag Team Championship in a Fatal Four Way in a match that was just there. Some decent moments but nothing that stood out on any level. In one of the most anticipated matches for diehard fans,
Edge pinned AJ Styles after a distraction from Damien Priest, who appears to be a new ally for the Hall of Famer. Both wrestlers sold more than usual, and their different in-ring styles complemented each other. It felt like a gritty fight where they were in a lot of pain but exuded the will not to lose.
Sheamus and Ridge Holland beat Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods in a match that lasted less than two minutes. Honestly, this was the most inconsequential match of the entire event, and after being cut from Night 1 and given so little time on Night 2, WWE felt the same. At least all of the wrestlers involved will get a WrestleMania payday.
Pat McAfee pinned Austin Theory in the best match of Night 2. Yep, I said it. This match had everything one could ask for and more. I was curious if McAfee could pull out another star performance since he was in the ring with Austin Theory, who is good, but he’s no Adam Cole. Theory didn’t miss a beat, and McAfee was the second most over wrestler of the night. His Swanton bomb was an aerial delight, the likes of which we’ve never seen before. McAfee has the tools to be a top guy if he wants to wrestle full time.
McAfee wasn’t done, as he was challenged by and wrestled a 77-year-old Vince McMahon in an impromptu match. It was cool seeing Vince throw his corporate weight around, but this was awful. The man can’t move and, after assistance from Theory, kicked a football in McAfee’s ribs to score the pin.
Yep, he beat a football player with a football.
Vince’s night wasn’t done as Steve Austin came out, giving Theory the best stunner to give Vince the worst stunner of all time. Again, Vince can’t move to such a degree that I don’t know what he was thinking. It was so bad that even Austin broke character and laughed before he finally delivered the poorly taken stunner.
Beer bash, DTA, a stunner for McAfee, and more beer made everyone happy.
It was a good idea to have Austin appear on Night 2 for those who didn’t attend Night 1. The only bummer about the segment was that Vince practically gave away Austin’s surprise appearance when he reacted in a frightened to Austin Theory’s music, which played before the iconic sound of breaking glass echoed throughout AT&T Stadium. Between his severe physical limitations and his reported hearing loss, Vince needs to stay out of the ring.
Now it’s time for the main event. Winner takes all. WWE Champion vs. Universal Champion. The biggest match in WrestleMania history. Honestly, no match could live up to such billing, and this one certainly did not. Roman Reigns defeated Brock Lesnar to walk out of WrestleMania as the unified champion. The match ended abruptly in 12 minutes when Reigns speared Lesnar for the win after escaping a kimura lock. Both men legitimately got hurt, especially Reigns, which could explain the sudden finish.
Lesnar might have hurt his hip when he got speared through the ringside barricade, and images online show Reigns’ shoulder popped out, which the champ popped back in after the match. WWE’s mum’s the word on wrestler injuries and will probably do the same with Reigns since he’s the top guy in the company.
Besides the injuries possibly hindering the match, it was an uninspired outing. They hit their finishing moves a bunch of times before the end. Most Reigns/Lesnar matches go their big moves early on, but the quickness and habitual reliance on their signature maneuvers made the match feel as if that’s all they had to offer as far as an in-ring story. Reigns/Lesnar is officially in the Cena/Orton category. We’ve seen it enough and please don’t give it to us again.
WrestleMania Night 2 was a mixed bag. Some good. Some bad. Some great. While it failed to live up to the high bar set by Night 1, overall, it was entertaining. There was A LOT of wrestling this past weekend with many great shows and matches. However, in the end, WrestleMania 38 cemented that despite the rising tide of various promotions, WWE is still the number one game in town.
Pro Wrestling is about more than the bell to bell machinations; it always has. We’re two days removed, and I’m still thinking about WrestleMania 38, which hasn’t happened in almost a decade. Between the excellence of Night and the hits and misses of Night 2, I’d say mission accomplished!