WrestleWatch- WrestleMania 38 (Night 2)
By Mick Robson
Welcome back to WrestleMania! It's STUPENDOUS, it's over two nights, it's in Dallas. Not going to waste a lot of time with preamble. If you missed my review of Night 1 and the bit of context I wrote on the event at the start, here you go: https://www.thearenamedia.net/single-post/wrestlewatch-wrestlemania-38-night-1
Let's do this!
Again, the show opens with a 2 hour pre-show with no matches. Just... why...
Just as we did on the first night, we get America The Beautiful sang by some country music star and an opening video package narrated by Mark Wahlberg.
In the stadium, the music of Triple H hits! The WWE executive and former 14 time world champion makes his entrance to a massive ovation. He soaks it in, going through the whole routine, giving kisses to his daughters at ringside and hugs new WWE recruit, Olympic gold medallist Gable Steveson. He waits for the pop to die down, before thanking the fans and welcoming them to WrestleMania. He sets his wrestling boots down in the ring with the microphone. It all took about 15 minutes, but with the recent news of Triple H's in-ring retirement, he deserved the big stage one more time. Very cool moment.
Match 1: Raw Tag Team Championship- RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Riddle) (c) def. Street Profits (Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins) & Alpha Academy (Chad Gable & Otis) (at 11:30)
Thoughts: This was balls to the wall, a lot of fun. Far superior to the Smackdown tag title match that opened Night 1. We had some big high spots early, with Montez doing a flip dive over the ring post, and Gable hitting a moonsault to the outside. The triple threat format meant the action never let up throughout, and the finishing sequence saw Riddle hit a super RKO on Montez, and Orton caught Gable in mid-air with an RKO as well. Excellent start to the show! (***1/2)
Post-match, RK-Bro and Street Profits squash the beef. They agree to have drinks together in the ring from the red cups, then invite Gable Steveson into the ring. An irate Chad Gable smacks the drink out of Steveson's hand, and earns a big belly-to-belly suplex for his troubles. Byron Saxton says he can't wait to see Steveson on Raw in the coming months. I wonder how far away we are from that?
Match 2: Bobby Lashley def. Omos (at 6:35)
Thoughts: Cool look for Lashley, with a new attire and entrance. He played David to Omos' Goliath, which was a unique situation for the Almighty to be in. He finally managed to suplex the 400 pounder, followed by a couple of Spears for the win. It was most definitely a spectacle while it lasted. (**1/4)
Match 3: Anything Goes- Johnny Knoxville def. Sami Zayn (at 14:25)
Thoughts: This was genuinely a blast, one of my highlights of the show. Knoxville didn't show any sign of wrestling acumen really, like Logan Paul yesterday or Bad Bunny last year, but it was a committed celeb performance with the Jackass star staying in his wheelhouse, largely getting his ass kicked by the trained wrestler, before members of Jackass like Chris Pontius and Wee Man got involved. Lots of Jackass-style props being used, such as a prosthetic boot on a mechanism, a giant hand, a table full of mouse traps, and finally one giant mouse trap to help pin Sami and get the win. Tremendous! Or stupendous? (Take a shot) (****)
Match 4: Women's Tag Team Championship- Sasha Banks & Naomi def. Carmella & Queen Zelina, Natalya & Shayna Baszler, & Rhea Ripley & Liv Morgan (at 10:50)
Thoughts: Another multi-team tag match that was way more fun that it had any business being. Everyone showed out with fancy entrances and attires. Sasha & Naomi came out in a cool sports car (having the flashiest entrance did telegraph the title change a little) and Rhea & Liv came out in leather outfits and whips, which made me feel...things. As for the match action, they made the most of having so many people out there, with big spots, constant movement, and stereo Tower of Doom spots. Glad to see Sasha and Naomi win, mostly so Sasha can have a Mania win on her resume, she's been on the losing end of Mania matches so many times. I was sports-entertained here. (***1/2)
Match 5: Edge def. AJ Styles (at 24:05)
Thoughts: Two of the best wrestlers ever, this was the match I was most looking forward to on Mania weekend. I would say that it just met my (very high) expectations. Didn't exceed them though. Slower-paced at times, but with smart gameplans on both sides, Edge and Styles acclerated the pace at certain times, but also kept it fundamental in working body parts. Damian Priest getting involved in the finish was interesting, because I feel like an Edge/Priest alliance can really work, but his involvement did cheapen the finish/win a bit, indicating perhaps more to come for the Edge/Styles feud. Excellent quality for sure though. (****)
Match 6: Sheamus & Ridge Holland def. The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) (at 1:40)
Thoughts: First it got bumped from the Night 1 card, then it gets next to no time here. Kofi and Woods wore singlets in tribute to the injured Big E, and made the most of their minute and change match time with a break-neck pace, but this was a disappointment to be sure. And "Butch" not understanding match rules and trying to fight New Day mid-match with cartoon villain mannerisms... ugh. (*)
We're asked to give it up again for the 2022 class of the Hall of Fame, and just like yesterday, Undertaker makes his entrance. Is this a by-product of the two night Mania set-up? Making sure that the people that only bought one ticket are guaranteed to see Taker? Because this was absolutely pointless legitimately repeating a segment from the night before. I love the Undertaker. But he stood on stage for longer than the whole New Day match. Ridiculous.
There's also the endless repeating of video packages on this show as well, which I haven't mentioned to this point because I didn't want to waste your time like it did mine.
Match 7: Pat McAfee def. Austin Theory (w/ Vince McMahon) (at 9:40)
Thoughts: Man, Pat was over! He came out with Dallas cheerleaders to the Seven Nation Army song, and looked to be having the time of his life. He busted out an early rana to show off his athleticism, and hit the leaping superplex for a great near fall. He went for the big Swanton too but crashed and burned. Theory went for the ATL, but McAfee countered into a roll up for the win! Also, Michael Cole was great in this as McAfee's cheerleader. Not up to the standard of the NXT Takeover matches that McAfee had, but still fun for what it was. (***1/4)
Post-match, McAfee talks trash to Theory and McMahon. Next minute, Vince is taking off his jacket to reveal his trademark black singlet, and gets in the ring! Oh my god! We have a referee! Theory attacks McAfee from behind to give Vince an advantage, and the bell sounds!
Match 8: Vince McMahon (with Austin Theory) def. Pat McAfee (at 3:45)
Thoughts: This is technically bad, but surreal to see McMahon back in the ring. Vince hits a couple of ugly clotheslines. McAfee gets to his feet and stares down the boss, but Theory grabs his legs from the outside and crotches him on the ring post. The ref sees it, but he's not going to DQ his boss. Vince gets a football, punts it into Pat's side, and covers him for the 3 count! The 76 year old billionaire beats the 34 year old former NFL great without taking a single bump. Yep. (N/A)
Theory and McMahon gloat and celebrate, but the music of Stone Cold hits! The Rattlesnake is back for Night 2 in Dallas. He drops Theory with a Stunner (great sell), hits Vince with one (objectively the worst Stunner in the history of ever), and finally McAfee (who sells well while gargling the beer he was given by Austin). This was a weird, wild ride, but ultimately we got a final Austin/McMahon moment, and like the Taker thing earlier, the people that bought one Mania ticket also got to see Stone Cold live as well.
I'm still a little bitter that after years of Austin and Rock making appearances at WrestleMania, the one I got to attend was the first in about 7 years where neither man was there. Hopefully next year in Hollywood...
Match 9: Winner Take All- Universal Champion Roman Reigns (w/ Paul Heyman) def. WWE Champion Brock Lesnar (at 12:15)
Thoughts: This seemed to end really abruptly. Pretty good while it lasted, as Reigns and Lesnar have familiarity with each other, and used the tried-and-tested formula of monsters landing kill shots. Roman did heel things, as he hit a low blow after a ref bump. Brock was able to lock in the Kimura, but Reigns got to the ropes after a little assist from Heyman. The Wise Man pleaded for the Tribal Chief to "rise up" and moments later, he countered a F5 into the Spear for the win. Seemed like it wasn't supposed to end there, just weirdly timed. Not sure if there was an actual arm injury or if Roman was just selling the Kimura. Anyway, this wasn't bad, but certainly didn't live up to the "Biggest WrestleMania Match Ever" billing. (***1/4)
This show took a little downhill slide after Edge vs. AJ Styles. Was hoping for more from both McAfee vs. Theory and Lesnar vs. Reigns. The involvement of Vince McMahon was certainly interesting... I'm not saying it was terrible but it was an interesting way to get to shoe-horn a second Austin appearance on WrestleMania. I am, however, saying that we saw the worst Stunner in the history of Stunners. In addition to Edge vs. Styles being the clear wrestling highlight, both the men's and women's tag matches delivered here, and Knoxville vs. Zayn was an unexpected delight. As an overall package, this was the best WrestleMania in many years, but Night 1 does have the advantage over Night 2.
Overall Score: 7.5/10
Until next time, take care.