By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
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WrestleMania 37 Night One Hits
Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair for the Smackdown Women’s Championship: An outstanding match. The build was so lousy that I never looked at it as a possible main event until word started to come out that it was going to be the final match of night one. It’s a shame that this didn’t get the right storyline support because the match was terrific. Belair getting emotional when the bell rang instantly made the match, the title, and WrestleMania itself feel even more significant. Banks came through with yet another strong big match outing. As much as we often grumble about WWE not creating new stars, they used this moment to make Belair. I loved the match and the genuine emotion that Belair showed before and after. And credit to WWE for acknowledging that it was the first time that two black women headlined WrestleMania while not attempting to make it about how great the company is for doing it (see the women’s evolution).
Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship: A strong title match that left me guessing about the outcome until the moment that McIntyre passed out in the Hurt Lock. I was actually waiting for him to power out of the hold, so it legitimately surprised me when the referee called for the bell. Lashley extending his championship reign works for me. McIntyre has proven himself as the top babyface and he’ll either take the title back at some point or perhaps become the top contender to Roman Reigns if there’s a roster shakeup. It will be very interesting to hear McIntyre’s next promo in terms of how he responds to losing this high profile match.
Bad Bunny and Damian Priest vs. The Miz and John Morrison: The celebrity came through with a fun performance. Miz and Morrison deserve a lot of credit for making Bad Bunny look as good as he did. Unfortunately, Priest just felt like he was along for the ride. He certainly gained something by being associated with Bunny, but I was hoping that he would have bigger and more memorable moments during the actual match. Even so, this match came off better than anyone could have realistically expected.
Seth Rollins vs. Cesaro: It’s great to see Cesaro finally getting some semblance of a singles push after famously being labeled as “too Swiss” by Vince McMahon several years ago. He’s one of the best workers on the roster and one can only hope that the best is yet to come for him. The Rollins character continues to be a hot mess. Rollins is fine as an upper mid-card act, but that’s the problem. Rollins is a main event player who is stuck in a creative rut. I hope he finds his way out of this and back into the main event picture where he belongs, but nothing about his current persona feels main event worthy.
Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman in a steel cage match: The build to this match was atrocious, but the effort was there from both men once the bell rang. Shane still throws embarrassing punches and would actually benefit from asking Bad Bunny for punch pointers, but he worked hard and the match ended up being fine for what it was. Strowman is in an interesting place. Company officials seem to view him as a top of the card player, but he’s felt ice cold for some time now and this feud with Shane did more harm than good.
Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods vs. AJ Styles and Omos for the Raw Tag Titles: A soft Hit for the Omos debut. Omos seemed very limited. The match was wisely built around him performing the big man spots that he’s capable of, but he didn’t do anything beyond that to indicate that he’s ready for more. The Raw men’s tag team division is in a bad place. They had a good thing going with Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin before they were seemingly demoted by dropping the titles and being booted out of The Hurt Business. Here’s hoping that something changes and the company starts placing more of an emphasis on building quality tag teams on Raw and Smackdown while also taking better care of the good teams that come up from NXT.
Rain Delay promos: Seth Rollins and Shane McMahon struggled, but the rest of the wrestlers did a nice job with their impromptu promos. Maybe, just maybe, most wrestlers are capable of delivering strong unscripted promos? Nah, that’s just crazy.
Overall show: The Vince McMahon opening was a nice touch. While we can only hope for the safety of those in attendance, there’s no denying that it was great to have fans back. It is setting up for a big hangover when things go back to the pandemic normal on Monday when Raw and Smackdown move ThunderDome to an empty Yuengling Center, so enjoy the weekend while it lasts. Night One was a good show with a great main event that really put it over the top.
WrestleMania 37 Night One Misses
Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke vs. Natalya and Tamina vs. Naomi and Lana vs. Carmella and Billie Kay in a tag team turmoil match for a shot at the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: The match had train wreck written all over it when it was announced and unfortunately it met to those expectations. This match really should have taken place on the pre-taped Smackdown while the four-way Smackdown Tag Title match belonged on the WrestleMania card. There were some very deserving veterans in the four-way that should have had a spot on WrestleMania, and their four-way match was so much better than the lousy turmoil match.
Join me tonight for my live review of WrestleMania 37 Night Two.