Welcome to The WrestleMania Reaction where I offer up my thoughts on the Saturday portion of WrestleMania. As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth review here.
The preshow matches were held on Friday’s WrestleMania Smackdown so the preshow was just a rundown of Night One’s matches. We kick off WrestleMania old school style with Vince McMahon welcoming us to WrestleMania with all of the talent out on the stage with him and fans in the crowd. America the Beautiful was performed by Bebe Rexha, with everyone remaining on the stage during the performance. After her performance, we go to the WrestleMania opener pack that seemed to be a blend of this year’s plus what would have been last year’s opener. It was very well done as expected.
Our first match or the night was an epic clash between WrestleMania and Mother Nature. Mother Nature hit a quick Thunderstorm finisher and WrestleMania goes down to the weather delay. The risks of doing the show in an open air stadium, Folks.
We go backstage for Improv Night at WrestleMania, hosted by Sarah Schreiber. Shane McMahon was up first and rambled on about Braun Strowman. Bobby Lashley and MVP show up so Shane left. MVP cut a fantastic promo on Drew McIntyre, leading to his arrival. Drew said he was ready to fight so let’s go right now backstage. Jamie Noble and Jessika Carr broke up the small scuffle, making Lashley and MVP leave. Drew talks about how great it is to have the fans back and the year he has had. See, when you let them just talk, it sounds 1000% better than reading some script.
The New Day was up next on Improv Night and hyped up their match with AJ Styles and Omos. Big E would show up and they would do their usual three man hype. Braun Strowman was up next and talked about his match with Shane and how he was doing this for everyone who has ever been called stupid in their life. Be a Star, Shane. Kevin Owens shows up and just takes over Improv Night. He talked about his friendship with Sami Zayn and how they’ve wrestled all over the world together. He said that they were told they’d never make it here, but tomorrow night, they will have their match together at WrestleMania. These unscripted promos have been fantastic. Just let them speak!
Rain ponchoed Michael Cole and Samoa Joe appear telling us that they are about to get the show going.
Improv Night continues with Bianca Belair talking about how she’s feeling going into her main event match tonight. Seth Rollins is up next to talk about Cesaro, calling him Zazarow, disrespecting him and how he will triumph once again at WrestleMania. John Morrison and The Miz close out Improv Night talking about Bad Bunny and Damien Priest. I think this showed if you let the talent talk about their match, they can do a fantastic job at selling it on their own without a script.
We get the video hype package for the opening WWE Title match. Before we can get to our opening bout, the co-hosts of WrestleMania, Titus O’Neil and Hulk Hogan, come out to hype up the fans. They do a great job and here we go.
Drew McIntyre is out first and you could tell he was loving having the fans back. Bobby Lashley is out next with MVP. The live event version of Lashley’s new entrance was pretty good. The match itself was fantastic. I think they had a basic idea of what they wanted to do but followed the flow of the fan’s energy to carry through with. The match came out as a hard hitting affair and it didn’t disappoint. It went back and forth proving either man could win but, in the end, Bobby Lashley came out with the surprising win making Drew pass out to the Hurt Lock. This was the right choice for the opening match and they did not disappoint. I thought Drew would pick up the win here in front of fans, but maybe they are holding off to get a more fuller house for SummerSlam.
Bayley appeared backstage with nothing to really do but talk to the nWo and Titus O’Neil. They blow her off and leave.
Tag Team Turmoil is up next for the right to compete tomorrow night for the WWE Women’s Tag Team titles. Naomi and Lana start off against the team of Carmella and Billie Kay. If we were just going to throw a team together, why not reform The Iiconics for just one night? We would know that they’d have no chance but it would have been fun. Anyway, Lana whiffed a kick on Billie Kay and Carmella broke up the pin before helping Billie Kay pin Naomi behind the ref’s back.
The Riott Squad were up next and quickly dispatched Carmella and Billie Kay.
The team of Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke come out in matching pink ring gear. In a sign of things to come, Mandy slipped on a wet spot on the ramp and falls flat on her butt. Once in the ring, they try to put together a semi-decent match. Dana mounted some good offense but wound up falling out of her top. The match was decent with a great ending sequence. Mandy superplexed Liv and Dana followed up with a Senton Bomb for a two count before Liv rolled it up into a small package for the three count as Mandy was sliding back into the ring and out of her top to break up the fall. I like the matching ring gear idea for Mandy and Dana, but I don’t think this gear would be a good idea going forward. Ring announcer Greg Hamilton botched the call and said that The Riott Squad had been eliminated before correcting himself.
The last team out was Tamina and Natalya. We get another good effort from the two teams. The ending sequence paid tribute to the fathers of Natalya and Tamina with a Hart Attack double team clothesline followed up with Tamina pinning Ruby after the Superfly Splash. I would have preferred The Riott Squad winning, since they’ve been an actual team for a long time, but the story had been set for the Natalya/Tamina win. We’ll see if this leads to a tag title win for them, since Shayna Baszler needs something far better to do than tag with Nia.
Up next is Seth Rollins taking on Cesaro. We get a shorter match than they deserved to get, but the match was excellent as expected. The match was a back and forth affair with each man hitting some unique moves. Rollins hit a corkscrew frog splash that looked amazing. Hopefully, he adds that to his usual moveset for every so often. Cesaro broke out the UFO swing to swing Rollins around before the Cesaro Swing and 23 revolutions. How does he not get dizzy from that? One more Neutralizer later and Cesaro picks up the win. This was an excellent match and Rollins made Cesaro look fantastic. Hopefully this leads to a better push than the usual start-stop pushes Cesaro has received in the past. I’d like to see a rematch and give it more time!
The Raw Tag Team Titles were defended next with The New Day taking on AJ Styles and Omos. Big E did the usual New Day intro for Kingston and Woods. The New Day did their best to keep Styles away from Omos to retain their titles. Omos eventually got tagged in and he totally destroyed The New Day, pinning Kingston with one foot to capture the titles. The story was great but since the tag team division on Raw is nearly non-existent, what will this lead too?
Up next is the match nobody really wanted to see, Braun Strowman and Shane McMahon in a steel cage. Elias and Jaxson Ryker start the match with the expected interference to help Shane look like he has a chance in the match. We get standard steel cage fare until Strowman rips the side of the cage open to drag Shane back inside. That was an impressive looking visual. Strowman drags Shane back to the top of the cage so he can fall from the high place (top of the cage) after Strowman heaves him into the ring. A running powerslam later and Strowman is your winner. I don’t think this did much for Strowman but we’ll see what comes of it. He should be getting built up for a title match with Bobby Lashley, I would suspect.
We get what I would assume as the show opening pyro display before the Hall of Fame class of 2020 is introduced to the live audience. Titus O’Neil has gotten more screen time tonight than most of the last year on Raw and Bailey tonight.
The ring gets invaded by bunnies for The Miz and John Morrison entrance to their awful song, Hey Hey Hop Hop. A video package runs down the feud before Damien Priest makes his entrance and WrestleMania debut. Bad Bunny gets a special entrance on a truck with pyro. The match itself was surprisingly very good. Bad Bunny was able to hold his own and hang with Miz and Morrison. Priest finally gets the hot tag and cleans house. The closing sequence has Bad Bunny wipe out Morrison with a Bunny (Canadian) Destroyer on the floor before pinning Miz after a cross body block on Miz while Miz was on Priest’s shoulders. The match was far better than anyone would have expected and Bad Bunny put in one of the best celebrity WrestleMania performances. I could get into a small run for Bad Bunny.
Main event time has Sasha Banks defending the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Bianca Belair. Michael Cole points out that this is the first time two black women have main evented WrestleMania. They soak up the emotion of the crowd and the history they are making. The match was excellent as expected. Sasha utilized Bianca’s long braid multiple times throughout the match. Bianca showed off her amazing athleticism and strength. Bianca’s braid came into play for the finish after a hard shot with it to Sasha’s ribs led to the KOD slam and that was enough for Bianca to pick up the win. This was an amazing performance and a well deserved win for Bianca. I can see her carrying the title into next year’s WrestleMania. Smackdown’s Women’s Division is quite strong right now and can provide Bianca with several opponents throughout the year.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows
Bianca Belair and Cesaro pick up well-deserved wins at WrestleMania. I would call both of their performances star making. Bianca should get the push but the question is will Cesaro?
Bad Bunny surprised everyone with his in-ring performance. The match was way better than I would have expected and I would like to see another match or two out of him.
The Tag Team Turmoil match was not that great. The Riott Squad tried their best to make it good, but there was only so much they could do.
That’s all I’ve got. I’ll be back tomorrow with Night 2!