By Jason Powell, ProWrestling.net Editor (@prowrestlingnet)
WrestleMania 37 Night Two Hits
Roman Reigns vs. Edge vs. Daniel Bryan in a Triple Threat for the WWE Universal Championship: A great Triple Threat with tremendous work from all three men. Unfortunately, the finish was not WrestleMania main event worthy. I had no problem with Jey Uso getting involved early, especially once he was taken to the back fairly quickly. But that really should have been the end of Uso’s involvement. Instead, he returned at the end to save Reigns and then ultimately helped him win the match. Fans expect and deserve clean finishes from WrestleMania main events. Failing to deliver a clean finish puts more heat the company than the Reigns character. Daniel Bryan put over Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura, and others before his sudden push back into the title picture, which is proof that he’s teflon. There’s no reason why Reigns couldn’t have beaten him clean in a more satisfying finish. But while the finish did not feel WrestleMania worthy, the hard work of the wrestlers was more than enough to put this match in the Hit section.
Riddle vs. Sheamus for the U.S. Championship: A good, physical match with the right guy going over. Riddle’s bad comedy stoner character remains one of the worst on WWE television, which is a shame because he’s very good once the bell rings. Sheamus was rejuvenated through his feud with Drew McIntyre. He always works hard and this title win felt like a well-earned reward for his efforts. Here’s hoping that the plan is for Keith Lee to return soon to go after the U.S. Championship.
Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn: They had less than ten minutes of match time, but they made it count with a spirited outing. While it’s disappointing when you think about some of the great matches they’ve had over the years, this match was still a lot of fun. The use of Logan Paul was fine, though it felt like they could have gotten more out of the YouTube star. And perhaps they will. It was hard to tell whether Owens’ latest homage to “Stone Cold” Steve Austin after the match was the end of Paul in WWE or just the beginning.
Big E vs. Apollo Crews in a Nigerian Drum Fight for the Intercontinental Championship: An in the middle match rather than a true Hit or Miss. The Drum Fight gimmick felt uninspired. While Big E and Crews worked hard, they were given less time than they would probably get for a television match. Say what you will about the finish with Dabba-Kato showing up in military garb, Crews desperately needed this win. Big E will be just fine without the Intercontinental Title, but another loss for Crews would have been severely damaging to his new character.
Overall Show: A minor HIt. Night One was the better of the two shows and I actually wish they would have flip flopped the nights. Night Two closing with Bianca Belair’s big win would have been a great way to end the weekend. Ultimately, this WrestleMania should be remembered as the year that WWE finally took a step into the now. There were no legends matches with Undertaker, Triple H, Goldberg, or John Cena. The emphasis was placed on the stars of today. I’m sure there are fans who missed “the stars come home” feel that WrestleMania typically offers, but I view this move as long overdue. Is there a place for another Triple H or John Cena match at some point? Of course, but it was refreshing to see the company finally treat the wrestlers of today as the big stars rather than sending the message that they pale in comparison to the stars from company’s glory years. Finally, it was so nice to have fans in attendance again. But now that we’ve had a taste of the old normal, it’s going to create a bad hangover effect when the company returns to ThunderDome life starting with tonight’s Raw.
WrestleMania 37 Night Two Misses
Randy Orton vs. The Fiend: After months of madness that included The Fiend being burned alive, they had just a six-minute wrestling match at WrestleMania. The stunt with Alexa Bliss pulling a Rudy Giuliani and it somehow distracting The Fiend rather than Orton was baffling. I guess we’re supposed to be wondering what comes next, but I could not care less. The fans blasted them with boos once Fiend and Bliss magically disappeared and rightfully so. I despise the hocus pocus silliness and dreaded this match going in, and yet even I felt letdown by this match.
Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler vs. Natalya and Tamina for the WWE Women’s Tag Titles: Why in the world was this the second longest match of the night? The effort was there from all four wrestlers, but this match simply overstayed its welcome. With the hosts doing terrible comedy while dressed in pirate garb, the awfulness of Orton and Fiend, and then this match, the first hour of WrestleMania 37 Night Two has to rank among the worst first hours in WrestleMania history.
Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley for the Raw Women’s Championship: The creative build to this match was awful and had an adverse effect on the way the live crowd reacted to it. The build consisted of Ripley debuting on Raw and immediately challenging Asuka to a title match, and then attacking her when they had one tag team match together. Think of all those weeks they wasted by showing us vignettes telling us that Ripley was coming soon to Raw when they could have been building her up. The ring work was solid and I’m happy that they put the title on Ripley, but this should have felt so much bigger than it did.
Michael Cole: It was a rough weekend for Cole, who had to be corrected numerous times. To his credit, he showed a sense of humor about it when he referenced having a bad night one after he was corrected early in night two. Cole plays a valuable role as the VP of Announcing. Perhaps the time has come for him to work behind the scenes and continue to produce the active broadcast team members. And, no, not because he had one rough weekend. Cole has been a voice of the company since 1998. With WrestleMania shifting to focusing on new and current stars rather than names from the past, this seems like the right time to make a change. It’s not happening, as Cole is still listed as the play-by-play voice of Smackdown despite the shakeup on Raw, but I’d actually prefer to have Tom Phillips in that role.
Hulk Hogan as host: Don’t take my word for it, listen to the fans who booed whenever Hogan started to speak last night. I’m not sure what good WWE officials thought would come from spotlighting Hogan as the co-host of WrestleMania. And I won’t pretend to know with any certainty why Hogan was paired with Titus O’Neil, but I think we all have our suspicions and they run deeper than both being Tampa natives. This was a tone deaf move by a company that claims to listen to its fans.