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World Wrestling Entertainment’s version of the Super Bowl, Wrestlemania, delivered more than it didn’t over the two-night event at AT& Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The 38th edition of “the granddaddy of them all” brought plenty of memorable moments, matches and nostalgia to the over reportedly 150,000 total in attendance over two nights and the millions watching at home.  I’ll go over the highs, the lows and some of my favorite moments and where the company goes from here.  We’ll start out with Night 1, which took place Saturday night.

Night 1 Highlights: Cody Rhodes Returns, The Women Thrill & One Last Ride With Stone Cold

Night 1 of Wrestlemania started off on a rough note as Rick Boogs suffered a legit injury during the tag team opener and the match had to wrap up quicker than expected.  Drew McIntyre’s win over Happy Corbin was decent but predictable and Logan Paul impressed in the ring before being double-crossed by his partner The Miz.  (Dear WWE, fans are not going to cheer for Logan Paul ever.)

It was a fine start, but the show kicked up several notches when Becky Lynch took on Bianca Belair for the Raw Women’s Championship.  Both women are at the top of their game and already have great Wrestlemania matches on their respective resumes but their bout Saturday night was an all-time classic.  They both went all out, diving deep into their arsenal and a ton of hard-hitting moments (not to mention Belair’s very real swollen eye after catching the heel of Lynch’s foot after a top rope maneuver).  Belair would get the win and end Lynch’s title reign.  This was not only the match of the night but quite possibly the match of the Wrestlemania weekend.  I’m not sure what’s next for either women but I hope we get another bout between the two because they have fantastic in-ring chemistry.

Following Lynch and Belair we got Lynch’s beau, Seth Rollins to come out and face his mystery opponent.  The identity of Rollins’ opponent was possibly one of the worst kept secrets in professional wrestling but nevertheless the roof blew off AT&T Stadium when Cody Rhodes, who left WWE in 2016 and was most recently one of the faces of All Elite Wrestling, made his return to the company. Rhodes’ “Kingdom” theme song echoed through the arena as he rose from the stage and made his entrance and it appears the American Nightmare persona that he developed outside of WWE is making the return with him. Rhodes, who was buried in the mid-card the last time he was in WWE, bet on himself when he asked for his release from the company in 2016 and returned Saturday night as a legit main eventer.  He and Rollins got off to a slow start but really picked up the pace and put on a really great match.  I’d be shocked if Rhodes isn’t in the main title picture by Summerslam.  Rollins was a fantastic first opponent and I’m looking forward to see how WWE uses Rhodes as we move forward.

The main event of Night 1 was not an advertised match at all but Kevin Owens confronting Stone Cold Steve Austin on his KO Show in-ring segment.  No one to this day gets a louder crowd reaction than Stone Cold Steve Austin. The now 57-year old Austin still looked great and remains one of the best on the microphone.  The segment took a big swerve when Ownes said he lied in getting Austin to sit down with him because he really wanted to challenge him to a no-holds-barred match that night.  The crowd erupted in approval and I immediately was 15 years old again when Austin was raising hell during the Attitude Era.  The match was much more than anyone bargained for as Austin took actual big time bumps, including being suplexed on concrete.  The two fought all over the arena for almost 20 minutes, which seems insane considering Austin hadn’t had a wrestling match in 19 years until then.  The match reached it’s conclusion when Owens swung a chair and it hit the top rope, hitting himself in the head and Austin followed up with a Stone Cold Stunner for the pin. It was absolutely outstanding and something Austin and Owens should both be proud of.  Night 1 went off the air with the Texas Rattlesnake drinking multiple beers with his iconic entrance music blasting through the stadium.

 

Night 2 Highlights: Two Legends Clash, Jackasses & Pat McAfee Is Living His Best Life

Sunday night got started with a very solid triple threat tag team match between RK-Bro, Alpha Academy and the Street Profits.  We got a mercifully short match featuring Omos that saw Bobby Lashley come out on top and then the fun really began! Sami Zayn vs. Jackass star Johnny Knoxville in an Anything Goes Match.  The build for this match had been great but I wasn’t sure how it was going to translate in the ring but it was fantastic.  This match featured a ton of props and stunts and cameos from the likes of fellow Jackass stars Chris Pontius and Wee-Man.  Zayn was more than game to take the brunt of the stunts from getting thrown through a table covered in mouse traps, being slapped by a gigantic hand, taking a bowling ball in the unmentionables and finally being literally trapped and pinned in a gigantic mouse trap as Knoxville picked up the win.  It was fun, it was funny, it was absolutely absurd, it was pro wrestling at it’s finest and something that WWE had stayed away from in the past but it was such a breath of fresh air.  I also don’t think this rivalry is over yet.

The Fatal Four Way match for the Women’s Tag Team Championships were fun and I’m really happy Sasha Banks and Naomi won the belts.  My hope is WWE actually does something with these titles now as they seem to have been very misused since their inception.  Sasha Banks and Naomi add instant credibility to them and now they just need to have regular competition to build their value.

Edge vs. AJ Styles is a dream match I don’t think anyone thought they’d see, especially in 2022 but that’s exactly what we got.  Edge embracing his new dark side has been fun to watch.  Edge is one of the best heels of all-time so I’m glad we get to see him embrace his inner bad guy once again.  The match was solid and the finish came when Styles looked to be about to finish the Rated R Superstar off with a Phenomenal Forearm when Damien Priest emerged outside the ring.  This brief distraction was enough for Edge to hit jumping Styles out of mid-air with a spear and secure the win.  Edge and Priest embraced after the match and it looks like we could have a new version of The Brood faction potentially coming to fruition.

The match of Night 2 came from none other than former Colts punter and current WWE Smackdown commentator Pat McAfee and Austin Theory.  I did not expect for the crowd to be as into this match as they were but from the moment The White Stripes “Seven Nation Army” kicked in over the arena sound system Pat McAfee had the crowd in the palm of his hand.  This was not his first venture in the wrestling ring as he had a match against Adam Cole at NXT Takeover 30 but this was his first match in front of such a massive crowd and he and Theory delivered on every level.  I’m not sure McAfee wants to do wrestling matches every week but I sure as hell don’t think this was his last Wrestlemania match.

The Lows: The New Day Gets Jobbed, An Unnecessary Vince McMahon match, An Underwhelming Main Event

There weren’t a ton of lows over the two night event but there were some real headscratchers.  The New Day are one of the most over factions in WWE history and yet over the course of two nights you would think they were on the verge of being released by the company.  Originally, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods were supposed to take on Sheamus and Ridge Holland on Saturday night’s card but reported time constraints forced the match to get pushed to Sunday.  Fast-forward to Sunday and Kingston and Woods were manhandled by Sheamus and Holland in under two minutes.  That was it.  They barely got any offense in and were made to look like jobbers.  I know they are hamstrung at the moment with the legitimate broken neck that Big E is dealing with but you can’t tell me those guys deserved what they got.

Another downer was following the electric match between Pat McAfee and Austin Theory was the incredibly unnecessary match between McAfee and Vince McMahon.  I have no idea what the point was or who thought McAfee getting absolutely destroyed by a 76-year old man following his match was a good idea but it was awful.  The saving grace was one last appearance by Stone Cold Steve Austin and a final showdown with Vince.  Sure, we got the Stunner (an ugly one at that) and a ton of beer (including an epic GIF of McAfee) but it seemed like a totally unnecessary route to get to a rather simple conclusion.

Finally, the main event with Roman Reigns taking on Brock Lesnar with the winner unifying the Universal Championship and WWE Heavyweight Championship.  Billed as the Biggest Wrestlemania Math of All-Time is tough for any match to actually live up to.  The match wasn’t bad.  It was fine.  But it was all stuff we’d seen before between Lesnar and Reigns.  Multiple German Suplexes, a ton of spears and F5’s and Superman Punches.  It didn’t feel any different than their previous meetings.  It was hardly a barn burner.  It was good, it just wasn’t anything we weren’t already expecting.  Reigns was victorious and his lengthy title reign will continue for the foreseeable future.

Will he actually be on both Raw and Smackdown and defending both titles regularly?  And who can actually knock him off at some point?  We’ll have to wait and see but overall Wrestlemania 38 was a very fun and entertaining show and I’m looking forward to see all the fallout that comes from it.