Welcome to the WWE WrestleMania 38 Night One Reaction, where I offer my take on the first night of WrestleMania action.
As always, you can check out John’s full in-depth review here.
We open the show to a rather ho-hum rendition of America the Beautiful before the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders finally have something to cheer about in AT&T Stadium.
Our opening contest has The Usos defending the Smackdown Tag Team Championship against Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs. This would have been a really great opener, as the Usos can have great opening matches. The match started to get rolling when Boogs went down after trying to do something with the Usos doubled up. The ref throws the dreaded “X” and we come to a quick close with the Usos retaining the tag titles. I’m really bummed out for Boogs blowing his knee out at his first WrestleMania. We would find out later in the show that he has a torn quadriceps and torn patella in his knee. He’s likely done for the year. Let’s hope they can find something for Nakamura to do in the meantime.
Up next, Drew McIntyre takes on Happy Corbin. The match was pretty good for a Corbin match. Corbin was able to keep up with McIntyre so that was a good sign. The most notable thing that took place during the match was McIntyre was the first person to kick out of The End of Days. McIntyre picked up the win and after the match, McIntyre swung the sword at Madcap Moss and it cut through the top and middle ropes. That was an impressive visual.
Tag team action is up next with The Mysterios taking on the team of The Miz and Logan Paul. It was nice to see the Mysterios do Rey’s old pop up through the stage entrance. Paul definitely has the WWE heel role pinned down. The match was pretty good and you could tell Paul put the work in to show that he did belong here. Miz picked up the win for his team by pinning Rey. After the match, Miz attacked Paul and dropped him with a Skull Crushing Finale. Does this mean they will be feuding now? I guess we’ll see.
After Stephanie McMahon introduced Gable Steveson to the audience, Becky Lynch was up to defend her Raw Women’s Championship against Bianca Belair. Belair got played to the ring by the Texas Southern University marching band. That was pretty cool. Lynch started off by trying to relive the SummerSlam “match” but Belair kicked out. The match kicked into the next gear and was great. Belair pulled off a perfect 450 splash off the second rope instead of the usual top rope. The crowd got into the match and that was really good to see. In the end, Belair countered Lynch’s Manhandle Slam attempt into a KOD to capture the title. The crowd exploded for that. It was another well-deserved win for Belair and it was the right time for Lynch to drop the title. Belair was made into a huge star tonight.
Seth Rollins comes out next to find out who his WrestleMania opponent is going to be. After some pyro running the length of the ringside and ramp/stage area, “Kingdom” hits and “The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes rises up though the stage. The crowd went nuts. It was great to see him back in WWE. The match was just incredible to see. I had not been following AEW, so it was nice to see how well Rhodes can work a match. It was just great and hard to put into words. If you watch only one match from the first night, this should be the match. They went on for seemingly forever, but it didn’t matter because you got sucked right into it. Cody picked up a hard-fought win and celebrated afterward. I would not be opposed to a rematch between these two or many rematches for that matter.
The Hall of Fame recap was next. I really liked the ceremony and you must see Undertaker’s speech if you missed it. It was so good. Taker came out last to salute the fans perhaps for one final time.
Mike Rome announced tonight’s attendance as 77,899. If you’re going to fake the number, couldn’t you at least make it a round number?
Charlotte Flair defends the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Ronda Rousey next. Thank God this was not the main event. Rousey’s matches need to be kept at 10 minutes or less. Anything more and you exceed what Rousey can do in a match. The match started getting sloppy and they had lost the crowd. We saw a Dusty Finish and ref bump in the same match. It’s just not needed. When I finally stopped caring, Flair mercifully won the match. I’m not quite sure what the whole point of bringing Rousey back was now.
The New Day v. Sheamus/Ridge Holland match got cut. That’s a shame but it’s not really WrestleMania worthy. Maybe they’ll put it on the Night 2 pre-show.
Our final segment is the KO Show with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Kevin Owens comes out first to run down Austin before Austin makes his entrance. The place went INSANE when the glass shattered and Stone Cold stepped out onto the stage. Austin came down on his ATV before posing the corners. It was a great sight to see for sure. Owens said he didn’t want to interview Austin, but fight him in a no holds barred match. Austin said his first match took place in Dallas, Texas and his last match might as well. A ref shows up and the bell rings.
This was a nice little brawl around the arena with Austin mostly keeping the upper hand before Owens bounced back. Owens hit Austin with the Stunner, which Austin kicked out of. Austin returned the Stunner and got the three count. It was a good way to send off the Texas Rattlesnake. The after match beer bash had Austin toast his brother and referee Rod Zapata, who I’m sure was loving the moment. Austin invited Byron Saxton in to eat a Stunner before celebrating some more to close us out.
Let’s look at tonight’s highs and lows.
There were so many great moments. The Austin match and celebration was a great moment and so fitting for WrestleMania. It was a true WrestleMania moment. It was the perfect way to cap off Night One.
There were a lot of solid matches tonight. The specific ones to point out would have been Cody/Seth and Becky/Bianca. They were probably the best two matches of the night.
It’s a shame that Boogs blew his knee out in his first appearance on the Grandest Stage of Them All. You just have to feel bad for him.
The Flair/Rousey match just did not work for me. I’m not quite sure what they were trying to accomplish and it was a good thing it did not go on last. That’s not how you would have wanted to close out a WrestleMania.
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That’s all I’ve got, until next time.