Here are my final thoughts on Raw and SmackDown’s first evening of WrestleMania 37 action!
Bobby Lashley (c) (with MVP) vs. Drew McIntyre (WWE Championship)
Reactions: As the first match for the return of the fans and this year’s WrestleMania, Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre had to show and prove in the best way possible here. In my humble opinion, however, this opening WWE Championship bout kinda fell below my high expectations for it. It wasn’t bad by any means – it just didn’t do anything out of the ordinary as far as these guys’ previous matches are concerned.
The hard-hitting offense was all here and accounted for as expected, but there wasn’t anything added to the whole equation to put it a level above Bobby and Drew’s last PPV singles meeting. There were a few moments of noticeable miscommunication to boot, plus the way Drew got distracted at the end was pretty lame. This was solid at best, but I was hoping it would ascend to a quality level higher than that one. Bobby retained though, so all is still right in the world in that regard.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Lana and Naomi vs. Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose vs. The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott) vs. Natalya and Tamina vs. Billie Kay and Carmella (Tag Team Turmoil Match; Winners Face Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship on Night 2)
Reactions: So they really gave it to Natalya and Tamina, huh? I was all geared up for a big win by The Riott Squad, but them’s the breaks I guess. So this match was mostly a time filler that was used to get a lot of WWE’s main roster women onto the show. It wasn’t good, it wasn’t bad – it was just there for me.
The sloppiness at the start of this bout definitely made me cringe a few times (whatever the hell Lana was going for with that awkward kick of her’s sure was…something). But as the match wore on and new teams entered, the action got a tad bit smoother. It was hard to care about this match considering the weak build leading into it and its participants, but at least it had a few shining moments here and there.
Rating: 2 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins
Reactions: Leave it to these two modern-day greats to finally add some life to this show! Not only did Cesaro and Seth Rollins bring the usual awesomeness that fans are used to seeing from their past encounters, but they also broke out some brand new stuff that’s WrestleMania worthy. We got unique counters, the return of maneuvers that we haven’t seen in a good while, and some flashy maneuvers that proved Cesaro and Seth Rollins were willing to go above and beyond their usual performances.
I popped extra hard for Rollins’ Spinning Frog Splash and his Pedigree, plus I definitely flipped my lid when Cesaro countered Rollins’ Stomp with an Uppercut and broke out the old UFO for good measure. This was a great match that got the runtime it needed, plus it gave Cesaro his first-ever singles WrestleMania win. Job well done here, fellas. Here’s hoping this big win pushes Cesaro to a Universal Championship opportunity in the near future.
Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) (c) vs. AJ Styles and Omos (WWE Raw Tag Team Championship)
Reactions: Omos didn’t do much, but he really didn’t have to. He got in, towered over Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods, and tore them both apart with ease. It may have taken forever and a day for him to get in the ring, but I was entertained by his dominant showing once he finally went to work. The match as a whole wasn’t anything special, honestly. And that’s exactly what I expected it to be.
The first part focused on AJ Styles getting walloped by The New Day, while the second half was pretty much a showcase for Omos. The two moments that stood out to me here were Kingston’s sick splash to the back of AJ and AJ leaping off of Omos’ shoulders to land a Phenomenal Elbow on Kingston. Omon got to shine and that was the point of this tag team affair. And we got a title change to boot, so there you go.
Rating: 2 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon (Steel Cage Match)
Reactions: I went into this match with super low expectations since I didn’t care about the feud between these dudes. But color me surprised! This ended up being a bit better than I figured it would be. The opening moments that saw Elias, Jaxson Ryker, and Shane O’Mac assault Braun Strowman with steel chairs were just…whatever. But once Strowman got a second wind and went full beast mode, this Steel Cage match got kicked up a notch. Shane tried anything and everything he could to overcome the big brute. But Strowman made his night a living hell as he cut off Shane’s escape attempts with sheer strength and brutality.
Watching Strowman break open a piece of the cage to bring Shane back into the ring was a definite jaw-dropper. And witnessing Shane take a massive back bump right off the top of the cage was wild as well. Strowman ended Shane with a single Running Powerslam to bring this surprisingly solid Steel Cage encounter to a close. I actually enjoyed this, which is something I didn’t think I’d say coming into this match.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Bad Bunny and Damian Priest vs. The Miz and John Morrison
Reactions: And worst WrestleMania entrance of all time goes to…THE MIZ AND JOHN MORRISON! Fire whoever thought it was a good idea to send out a whole bunch of people dressed as bunny rabbits down the ramp and into the ring to jam to their cringe-worthy performance. Now make sure to give a promotion to whoever cooked up that fire entrance for Bad Bunny, though. That was some damned good work right there! So I wasn’t all that thrilled with this match at first – Bad Bunny hit a few solid moves, but then we were treated to a pretty boring beatdown from Miz & Morrison that dragged on forever.
But as soon as Damian Priest got the hot tag, business picked up in a major way (shout out to Good Ol’ JR!). Damian broke out all of his dope signature moves, went sky high to crash onto Miz & Morrison outside the ring, and Bunny followed that right up with a daredevil splash of his own. I grew even more interested in this whole ordeal once Bad Bunny delivered a Canadian Destroyer out of nowhere to Morrison. The cherry on top came once Bunny and Damian’s tandem finisher took down The Miz, which brought this fun tag team match to a close.
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
Sasha Banks (c) vs. Bianca Belair (WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship)
Reactions: Queen Belair really showed out with her WrestleMania attire, didn’t she? WE WILL FOREVER STAN YOU, SIS! Shout out to “The Boss” for her new look, too. Hope she runs with that for the remainder of the year from this point forward. This was a damn good main event! Both ladies made history and put on an amazing display of in-ring “Black Girl Magic.” Sasha Banks used everything in her repertoire to ground her taller and stronger opponent, plus she went a level above her usual level of brutality.
Bianca Belair made sure to match the wily veteran’s game plan with pure power and sheer determination. This match got a deservedly lengthy run time, which allowed it to crescendo to a level of quality that satisfied me greatly. The counters were dope, the back & forth struggles had me on the edge of my seat, and the near-falls were incredible nail biters. Kudos to both women for producing the type of match that met the same level of awesomeness that many of the best WrestleMania main events delivered in the past. Bianca’s victory capped off a great women’s title match that easily stole the show on Night 1 of WrestleMania 37!
Rating: 4 & a Half out of 5 Stars
Match of the Night
Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair!
Mother Nature and her rain showers didn’t put a huge damper on WrestleMania 37 after all. Night 1 kicked a whole lot of ass and then some. There were only two matches on this show that were pretty lackluster, while the rest of the card was full of good to near-perfect matches. Cesaro/Rollins and Banks/Belair easily earned Match of the Night honors with their awe-inspiring performances. Lashley/McIntyre was decent, but it just didn’t meet the high expectations I had for it. Plus I wasn’t all that amazed by the women’s Tag Team Turmoil match and Omos’ main roster in-ring debut.
Meanwhile, Bad Bunny went out there and looked like a natural alongside Damian Priest against The Miz and John Morrison. Plus the Steel Cage Match I couldn’t care less about going into this show turned out a bit better than I expected. Thanks to a combination of two amazing matches and a collection of bouts that were solid overall, the first night of WrestleMania 37 largely delivered as a stadium-worthy wrestling show.
Final Score: 4 out of 5 Stars