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.

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