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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