Sunday, April 7, 2024

WWE WrestleMania 40 - Night Two

By Steve Ward

WWE once again emanated from Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, PA for Night Two of WrestleMania 40. This evening proved to be a more entertaining spectacle with the increase in star power and championship bouts as Night One felt like more of a glorified kick off show with the exception of a stellar main event. Tonight’s card featured seven matches with five titles contested leading up to Cody Rhodes getting another opportunity to “finish his story” in an attempt to take the Universal Championship from Roman Reigns under Bloodline Rules.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Seth Rollins (c) vs. Drew McIntyre

Winner: Drew McIntyre via pinfall

McIntyre earned his shot at Rollins’ championship as a result of his victory in the Elimination Chamber. Seth “Freakin” Rollins would face an uphill battle after the punishment he undertook on Night One in the main event, and it showed as he entered the match covered in Kinesio tape. Seth Rollins demonstrated impressive resiliency throughout the match as he withstood several Claymore Kicks until the final two were simply too much for him to withstand.

Following the match, McIntyre decided to gloat in the face of CM Punk who was the guest commentator for the match. Punk took exception and swiped Drew’s feet out from under him as he stood on the announce table over him. Punk then removed the brace from his arm and beat McIntyre down as the music of The Judgement Day echoed throughout the stadium. Damian Priest sprinted to the ring with his Money In The Bank briefcase and leveled McIntyre with it before telling the referee that he would be cashing in his title opportunity.

WWE World Heavyweight Championship

Drew McIntyre (c) vs. Damian Priest

Winner: Damian Priest via pinfall

Damian Priest promptly executed the South of Heaven to steal the World Heavyweight Championship from McIntyre.

Philadelphia Street Fight

The Final Testament (Karrion Kross & Authors of Pain) w/ Scarlett & Paul Ellering vs. Bobby Lashley & The Street Profits w/ B-Fab

Special Guest Referee: Bubba Ray Dudley

Winners: Bobby Lashley & The Street Profits

Following the destruction of several kendo sticks, chairs, and tables, this match saw its conclusion as Lashley and The Street Profits isolated Kross and laid him out across yet another table. Montez Ford then climbed to the top turnbuckle and leapt onto Kross putting him through the table and cinching the victory for his team.

AJ Styles vs. LA Knight\

Winner: LA Knight via pinfall

AJ Styles blamed LA Knight for costing him the Universal Heavyweight Championship when they were engaged in a triple threat match with Roman Reigns several months back. Tempers finally boiled over in the Elimination Chamber match as Styles assaulted Knight with a steel chair leading them into a bitter rivalry that culminated tonight on the Showcase of the Immortals. AJ Styles appeared to have LA Knight in dire straits for much of the match, however, his attempts at a springboard 450, Phenomenal Forearm, and Styles Clash were all denied before Knight finally countered with the BFT (Blunt Force Trauma) to seal his first WrestleMania victory.

United States Championship Match

Logan Paul (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Kevin Owens

Winner: Logan Paul via pinfall

Orton and Owens initially stood unified against Paul until he had been thoroughly beaten down and the match devolved into chaos. In the final moments of the match, Orton hit the RKO on Kevin Owens as a counter to the Pop-Up Powerbomb. Paul then got the jump on Orton and tossed him out of the ring allowing him to capitalize on a downed Owens with an impressive frog splash to put the final exclamation on his successful title defense.

WWE Women’s Championship

Iyo Sky (c) vs. Bayley

Winner: Bayley via pinfall

After Bayley won the Women’s Royal Rumble match back in January, her Damage Ctrl stablemates unceremoniously ousted her from the group with a vicious beat down setting up tonight’s showdown of former best friends. Bayley was limited the entire match by what appeared to be a legitimate knee injury but still prevailed in the end with a massive top rope elbow drop followed by the Rose Plant to crown her as the new WWE Women’s Champion.

WWE Undisputed Universal Championship

Roman Reigns (c) w/ Paul Heyman vs. Cody Rhodes

Winner: Cody Rhodes via pinfall

Tonight’s match was contested under Bloodline Rules (meaning there would be no disqualifications, no count outs, etc.) as a result of Rhodes and Rollins losing the main event of WrestleMania Night One to Roman Reigns and The Rock. The big question tonight would be whether Cody Rhodes, the cover Superstar for the WWE 2K24 video game, would “finish his story” as predicted or would Roman Reigns continue his historic title reign. The match initially got off to an uneventful start, but business began to pick up as Jimmy Uso came to Reigns’ aid at the first sign of peril, but he was neutralized by his twin brother Jey. Next, Solo Sikoa helped Roman take down Rhodes again. This time John Cena came to Rhodes rescue only to have his momentum disrupted promptly by The Rock who delivered the Rock Bottom to the 16-time world champion.

Then the music of The Shield shocked the WWE Universe as a broken Seth Rollins entered the ring in his old Shield attire only to be the recipient of a brutal chair shot to the back. Next, the shocker of the match occurred as the lights went out and the unmistakable bell tolled throughout Lincoln Financial Field. As the lights returned, The Rock found himself face to face with The Undertaker who choke slammed “The Final Boss” before the lights once again went out. As the lights came back up, The Undertaker was gone, and The Rock was incapacitated on the floor outside of the ring. Shortly thereafter, Rhodes delivered three consecutive Cross Rhodes to conquer The Tribal Chief and finish his story on the grandest stage of them all.

Saturday, April 6, 2024

WWE WrestleMania 40 - Night One

By Steve Ward

The 40th installment of the Showcase of the Immortals, WWE WrestleMania, emanated from the home of the Philadelphia Eagles, Lincoln Financial Field, in Philadelphia, PA. As has become the norm for the past few years, WWE again elected for a two night event in order to capitalize on their ability to produce to sellout gates with two mediocre cards padded with unnecessary vignettes and advertisements between every bout. This evening’s card featured seven matches with three titles contested and was headlined by Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins teaming up against The Rock and Roman Reigns to determine the stipulation for night two’s Universal Championship match.

Women’s World Championship

Becky Lynch vs. Rhea Ripley (c)

Winner: Rhea Ripley via pinfall

The opening bout of the weekend would have the potential to set the bar high as Becky Lynch, winner of the Women’s Elimination Chamber, earned her shot at the dominant Rhea Ripley’s RAW Women’s Championship. Becky Lynch gave a commendable effort but was clearly slowed as she battled strep throat. In the closing moments, Ripley was simply too much for The Man as she delivered a Riptide into the turnbuckle and immediately followed it up with yet another Riptide to successfully defend her title.

Six Pack Challenge for the Undisputed Tag Team Championship Ladder Match

DIY (Tommasso Ciampa & Johnny Gargano) vs. Awesome Truth (R-Truth & The Miz) vs. New Catch Republic (Tyler Bate & Pete Dunne) vs. A-Town Down Under (Austin Theory & Grayson Waller) vs. The New Day (Xavier Woods & Kofi Kingston) vs. The Judgement Day (Finn Balor & Damian Priest) (c)

Winners: Smackdown Tag Team Championship - Grayson Waller & Austin Theory; RAW Tag Team Championship - R-Truth & The Miz

Although this match was for the Undisputed Tag Team Championship, both the RAW and Smackdown Tag Team titles were suspended above the ring separately and the match would continue until both sets were retrieved. The first set of titles removed from their suspension above the ring were the Smackdown titles by Grayson Waller and Austin Theory. In the closing moments, R-Truth dumped Damian Priest out of the ring with an Attitude Adjustment and scaled the ladder to retrieve the RAW Tag Team Championship.

Rey Mysterio & Andrade vs. Dominik Mysterio & Santos Escobar

Winners: Rey Mysterio & Andrade via pinfall

The leader of the LWO, Rey Mysterio, recently returned from injury and dove right back into his bitter rivalry with former stablemate Santos Escobar (who has since reformed Legado del Fantasma). Dominik Mysterio then decided to insert himself back into Rey’s business making tonight’s affair a tag team match. Rey was set to team with Dragon Lee initially, however, he was taken out on Smackdown last night leaving the door open for Andrade to step in after he decided he didn’t agree with Escobar’s tactics. The match reached its conclusion shortly after Dominik Mysterio attempted to get a chair from ringside to use on his father. Before he was able to crack Rey’s skull with the steel chair, a pair of men donning luchador masks emerged from the crowd to thwart his efforts. This left Escobar vulnerable to the Tadpole Splash from Rey Mysterio which secured the pinfall.

Jimmy Uso vs. Jey Uso

Winner: Jey Uso via pinfall

Following his departure from The Bloodline, Jey Uso left Smackdown for RAW in search of a new start - his brother Jimmy, however, would not allow this as he has continued to insert himself in his brother’s business time and time again which brought us to, tonight. The conclusion of the match saw Jey Uso deliver a spear and subsequent splash from the top rope to solidify the victory.

Damage Ctrl (Kairi Sane, Asuka, & Dakota Kai) vs. Bianca Belair, Naomi, & Jade Cargill

Winners: Bianca Belair, Naomi, & Jade Cargill via pinfall

Interestingly enough, WWE decided to book the Women’s Tag Team Champions, The Kabuki Warriors, in a six-woman tag team match instead of a title bout. The Kabuki Warriors teamed with fellow Damage Ctrl member Dakota Kai as Bianca Belair recruited Naomi and Jade Cargill who returned/debuted at the Royal Rumble. In the closing moments of a rather brief bout, Jade Cargill was left alone with Dakota Kai who she dispatched with Jaded.

WWE Intercontinental Championship

Gunther (c) vs. Sami Zayn

Winner: Sami Zayn via pinfall

Gunther put his record-setting Intercontinental Championship reign on the line this evening against the resilient Sami Zayn. “The Ring General” Gunther dominated the entire match and seemed to have an impressive victory at hand after delivering a barrage of power bombs and splashes. After Zayn kicked out of a late pinfall attempt, Gunther scaled the turnbuckles only to be intercepted with a Helluva Kick. Zayn then delivered a brain buster in the corner and immediately followed with another Helluva Kick to shock the WWE Universe and end the record championship reign of Gunther.

The Rock & Roman Reigns w/ Paul Heyman vs. Cody Rhodes & Seth Rollins

Winners: The Rock & Roman Reigns via pinfall

The main event of Night One had significant implications for the stipulation of Cody Rhodes match with Roman Reigns on Night Two with the Universal Championship hanging in the balance. If Rhodes and Rollins were victorious, the Bloodline would be banned from ringside, however, if The Rock and Roman Reigns prevailed, then the Universal Championship would be contested under Bloodline Rules. This carnage-filled encounter showed that The Rock didn’t lose a step in his near decade away from the ring. With broken tables and broken bodies galore, the final moments of the match saw Seth Rollins incapacitated by Roman Reigns after being speared through the ringside barricade. This left The Rock and Rhodes in the ring alone. The Brahma Bull executed The Rock Bottom and immediately proceeded to hit the most electrifying move in sports entertainment, The People’s Elbow, to put away The American Nightmare and set up Bloodline Rules for Night Two’s main event.