Monday, April 12, 2021

WWE WrestleMania 37 Night Two

By Steve Ward

WWE returned to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida this evening for night number two of Wrestlemania 37. This also marked the second WWE pay per view exclusively offered on the Peacock streaming service and, while I’m a bit disgruntled by some of the edits they’ve made to classic content and the fact that the entire library is not yet available, I can say it was nice to watch an entire show without a pause for buffering (not as a result of my internet provider). This evening’s card arguably brought a greater level of star power with seven matches, five of which were contested for titles, and was headlined by the triple threat match for Roman Reigns’ Universal Championship.

Randy Orton vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt w/ Alexa Bliss

Winner: Randy Orton via pinfall

Randy Orton believed he had finally put The Fiend to rest several months ago after he “set him on fire” only to find himself tormented by Alexa Bliss until last month’s Fastlane pay per view where a charred Wyatt made his return by busting through the bottom of the ring to attack Orton. That leads us to tonight where Orton sought once again to finally rid himself of The Fiend. I’ll be honest, I just didn’t care for this match at all. After Wyatt made his entrance out of a giant jack in the box at ringside, the ring was illuminated in red lights for the duration of the match in quite annoying fashion. This bout arrived at it’s merciful conclusion after Wyatt was distracted by Bliss sitting atop the jack in the box allowing Randy Orton the window of opportunity he needed to hit the RKO for the win.

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

Tamina & Natalya vs. Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax (c)

Winners: Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax via submission

After their win in the women’s tag team turmoil match last night, Tamina and Natalya earned their shot at the tag team titles this evening. This match quickly restored the momentum of the show as Tamina and Natalya put forth a spirited effort in their quest for tag team gold but sadly came up a little short. The closing moments saw Nia Jax in dire straits as Natalya seemed to have victory within reach, however, she did not see a blind tag by Baszler before Neidhart knocked her off the ring apron. Neidhart proceeded to lock in the Sharpshooter on Jax, however, unbeknownst to her, Baszler climbed back into the ring behind her and cinched in the Kirafuda Clutch. Natalya had nowhere to go and passed out crowning your winners, and still tag team champions, Baszler and Jax.

Sami Zayn w/ Logan Paul vs. Kevin Owens

Winner: Kevin Owens via pinfall

Sami Zayn has believed for several months now to be the victim of a conspiracy which prompted him to invite Logan Paul as his special guest to observe the said conspiracy unfold from ringside as he battled his former best friend Kevin Owens. Sami Zayn put forth a solid effort as he showcased the Michinoku Driver, Blue Thunder Bomb, and the Helluva Kick but these weren’t enough. Zayn saw the tide turn late as Owens reversed a top rope superplex attempt into a Fisherman’s Suplex which opened the door for the Stunner moments later. Following the match, Paul tried to congratulate Owens only to find himself also at the receiving end of a Stunner.

United States Championship

Riddle (c) vs. Sheamus

Winner: Sheamus via pinfall

This was a truly hard hitting affair that saw former UFC competitor Matt Riddle’s striking ability matched by the veteran Sheamus. The closing moments of the match saw Riddle attempt a middle rope moonsault only to be met with a Brogue Kick in mid flight. This allowed Sheamus to secure the pinfall as blood poured from Riddle’s mouth.

WWE Intercontinental Championship Nigerian Drum Fight

Big E (c) vs. Apollo Crews

Winner: Apollo Crews via pinfall

Apollo has continued to challenge Big E for the Intercontinental Title for several months and has continued to fail. In seemingly his final attempt at the title, Crews challenged Big E to a Nigerian Drum Fight. No one had a clue what this would entail until this evening when we discovered it was simply a hardcore match with kendo sticks, drums, a gong, and tables surrounding the ring. Big E was in control for the majority of this match and seemed poised to retain his title after Crews put himself through a table on a failed frog splash attempt foiled by Big E rolling out of harms way. Big E followed up with the Big Ending, however, a monstrous man emerged from nowhere to take him out allowing Crews to cover him for the pinfall crowning a new champion.

WWE RAW Women’s Championship

Asuka (c) vs. Rhea Ripley

Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall

Asuka’s continued quest for competition saw her challenge for this evening answered by “The Nightmare” Rhea Ripley - a woman who steamrolled the competition on NXT and made her Wrestlemania debut last year against Charlotte Flair. This was another fairly entertaining match as both competitors used a full array of strikes and submission holds, however, it had a rather anti-climatic conclusion. Asuka was poised to deliver the Asuka Kick only to be intercepted by Ripley who delivered the Riptide for a quick pinfall.

WWE Universal Championship                                                                                    

Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Heyman & Jey Uso vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan

Winner: Roman Reigns via pinfall

This was originally supposed to be a one-on-one affair between Reigns and Edge after The Rated-R Superstar’s triumphant win at the Royal Rumble, however, Daniel Bryan worked his way into the match after feeling slighted following his losses at the Elimination Chamber and again at Fastlane. This match essentially began as a tag team affair as Jey Uso quickly interjected himself into the fray until Edge restored order and executed a DDT to him planting his skull into the steel ring steps. In the closing moments, Edge seemed poised to become Universal Champion as he brutalized both of his opponents with a steel chair. This wasn’t enough for Edge as he then set up both men for a Conchairto. After Edge delivered the first to Daniel Bryan, Jey Uso reemerged to supply a distraction just long enough to allow Reigns to deliver a spear to Edge. Reigns then dragged Edge’s limp body and draped him over Daniel Bryan. Reigns covered both men simultaneously for the decisive pinfall to retain his title.

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Sunday, April 11, 2021

WWE WrestleMania 37 Night One

By Steve Ward

WWE finally welcomed fans back as the “Showcase of the Immortals” emanated from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, Florida for the first evening of WrestleMania. While AEW has welcomed fans for several months in nearby Jacksonville, one must assume Vince McMahon simply couldn’t resist the opportunity to generate some additional income - especially after selling the U.S. portion of his WWE Network streaming service to Peacock. Nonetheless, Night One featured a relatively stacked card featuring seven matches and three titles contested with Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair battling for the Smackdown Women‘s Championship to close the show.

WWE Championship
Bobby Lashley (c) w/ MVP vs. Drew McIntyre
Winner: Bobby Lashley via submission

Following a 30+ minute weather delay, WrestleMania finally kicked off with the WWE Championship on the line. This evening McIntyre sought to regain the title he lost to The Miz who cashed in his Money In The Bank briefcase at Elimination Chamber with the help of Lashley. As compensation for his assistance, Lashley received a title shot from a reluctant Miz on RAW and did not waste the opportunity as he attained his first WWE Championship. Fast forward to this evening where an enraged McIntyre was out for revenge and to regain his championship. The two combatants wasted no time coming to blows following the opening bell and showed zero respect for one another. Lashley withstood a trifecta of Future Shock DDTs from McInyre and avoided a Claymore Kick with the assistance of MVP late in the match. This opened the door for Lashley to cinch in the Hurt Lock which caused McIntyre to pass out solidifying the victory.

Women’s Tag Team Turmoil Match
Lana & Naomi vs. Carmella & Billie Kay vs. Riott Squad vs. Mandy Rose & Dana Brooke vs. Natalya & Tamina
Winners: Natalya & Tamina

The stakes were high for this bout as the winners would earn a shot against Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler on Night Two of WrestleMania for the Women’s Tag Team Championship. This was essentially a gauntlet match as the teams of Lana & Naomi and Carmella & Billie Kay kicked things off with Carmella and Billie Kay making short work of their opponents. The next team to make their way to the ring was the Riott Squad (Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan). Ruby Riott secured another quick pinfall on Billie Kay which opened the way for the third team, Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke, to enter the match. The Riott Squad earned another quick elimination as Liv Morgan rolled up Dana Brooke for the pinfall. The final entrants were the formidable team of Natalya and Tamina. In the conclusion of a rather uneventful match, Tamina Snuka hit the Superfly Splash to secure the pinfall and book a title shot for Natalya and herself on WrestleMania Night Two.

Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro
Winner: Cesaro via pinfall

This match pit two main event caliber wrestlers without a main event spot against each other - Seth Rollins who has been reestablishing himself following paternity leave and Cesaro who finally has earned a WrestleMania singles match for the very first time in his 10-year run with WWE. Cesaro achieved arguably the biggest victory of his career as he executed the Cesaro Swing for an impressive 23 rotations before he put away Rollins with The Neutralizer for the 1-2-3.

RAW Tag Team Championships
The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) (c) vs. A.J. Styles & Omos
Winners: A.J. Styles & Omos via pinfall

A.J. Styles had the opportunity to add some WWE tag team gold to his illustrious resume as he teamed with his bodyguard, the towering Omos, who made his in-ring debut. A.J. Styles kicked off the bout and the New Day made their ultimate goal to keep Omos out of the match using a plethora of two-on-one tactics. This strategy was successful for a while but as soon as Omos finally entered the contest, it was all over. The seven foot three, 400 pound giant absolutely decimated the New Day and concluded the match by simply standing on the chest of Xavier Woods to score the pinfall.

Steel Cage Match
Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman
Winner: Braun Strowman via pinfall

Following weeks of ridicule from Shane McMahon, Braun Strowman finally got him cornered him this evening in a steel cage. In an attempt to even the odds, McMahon recruited the aid of Jaxson Ryker and Elias who ambushed Strowman while wielding steel chairs before he made his way into the cage. This appeared to work…for a couple minutes. Shane did have a few flashes of offense throughout the match, including his patented Coast to Coast, however, it was not nearly enough. Shane attempted to escape the cage late but instead was thrown back down to the ring from the top of the ominous steel structure. Strowman then finished McMahon off with the running powerslam for the victory.

John Morrison & The Miz vs. Damian Priest & Bad Bunny
Winners: Bad Bunny & Damian Priest via pinfall

After Bad Bunny declined The Miz’ offer to collaborate with him at the Royal Rumble, he appeared that he would be outmanned as the target of Miz and his cohort John Morrison until the recording artist recruited the assistance of Damian Priest. Miz and Morrison controlled the tempo of this match until Damian Priest finally made his entry and suddenly halted all of their momentum. This match reached it’s conclusion after Priest hoisted The Miz up on his shoulders allowing Bad Bunny to hit a Doomsday Device inspired cross-body splash and secure the pinfall victory.

Smackdown Women’s Championship
Sasha Banks (c) vs. Bianca Belair
Winner: Bianca Belair via pinfall

Bianca Belair found herself in the main event of Wrestlemania, following her victory in the women’s Royal Rumble match, against the Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks - someone who had never tasted victory in a Wrestlemania match. Bianca Belair’s power was on full display for the duration of this match as she had her way with The Boss and even withstood The Bank Statement. The match reached it’s conclusion as Belair executed the KOD to secure the pinfall.

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