By Will Pruett, ProWrestling.net Co-Senior Staffer (@itswilltime)
WrestleMania 39 Night Two
Inglewood, California at SoFi Stadium
Streamed April 2, 2023 on Peacock and pay-per-view
It’s surreal to be sitting here tonight at what will likely be the last McMahon family owned WrestleMania. I’ve watched for my entire life and written about it for the last 14 years. This isn’t a day I ever thought I’d see in wrestling and it coinciding with WrestleMania is wild. We’ll have so much more to say about it, and there’s a whole ass wrestling show to talk about in the meantime. Let’s have some fun tonight, friends!
“America The Beautiful” is easily the best song about America. Both easier to sing and shorter than the actual National Anthem. It’s a great one.
This rendition of “America The Beautiful” however was really odd. WWE can’t get an actual orchestral backing track? We’ve got more 1980’s synth sounds than an elementary school production of Andrew Lloyd Webbers’ Cats here. While McCavity is still an absolute bop, we need to rethink this WrestleMania opening backing track.
WWE has graphics going on the big screen here tonight, which they didn’t have screen-wide last night. Neato. pic.twitter.com/rqdndOLSJ1
— Will! (@itswilltime) April 3, 2023
Brock Lesnar vs. Omos: This was a very fun match between these two. Brock Lesnar played the underdog hero pretty well, even believable asking the fans to clap to encourage him to break out of a bear hug.
Three German Suplexes and one F5 later and the match is over. Brock Lesnar gets on his plane and awaits some of that sweet Endeavor money.
With Vince McMahon back in control, Omos will be dancing by SummerSlam.
Liv Morgan and Raquel Rodriguez vs. Shotzi and Natalya vs. Sonya Deville and Chelsea Green vs. Shayna Baszler and Ronda Rousey: This men’s version of this match was a surprising value add to last night’s show. Let’s see if the women’s version will hold up to it. I don’t mind short “get everyone on the card” tag matches like this as a part of WrestleMania.
The women worked hard, particularly Liv Morgan and Raquel, but this match lacked both action and purpose. It didn’t have the quick pace of last night’s effort to make up for its shortcomings.
Ronda Rousey tagging in and quickly applying an armbar to win does seem to certify that she’s dealing with an injury. Sadly that injury does not make her eye makeup in this match make sense. Someone let Ronda have logical eye makeup please.
Under the Paul Levesque creative direction, women have suffered. WWE needs to get this entire division back on track and soon.
We did a whole two nights of WrestleMania in Los Angeles and Candice LaRae couldn’t get a match? This feels wrong. She’s every bit the Reseda, California hero Kevin and Sami were. She deserved some love.
Bobby Lashley won a mediocre Battle Royal on Friday and got to carry a heavy statue about 20 feet on Sunday. The poor guy deserved a little more at WrestleMania, but at least he didn’t have to have a weird Bray Wyatt match in the daylight. There are worse things to do than nothing.
Gunther vs. Sheamus vs. Drew McIntyre for the Intercontinental Championship: It’s time for some big European men to start slappin’ meat here.
Gunther’s entrance was absolutely perfect. It’s already theatrical on WWE’s normal stage, but on the WrestleMania stage, it jumps to another level.
CHOP CHOP CHOP CHOP every single chop in this match is so brutal and wild. These three men will all have some intense chest welts for the next week.
You love to see fans counting every single strike Sheamus could land on McIntyre’s chest. People were standing in the upper decks cheering for the brutality until Drew fell to the floor.
The near fall after the Celtic Cross from Sheamus absolutely got me. Gunther, McIntyre, and Sheamus have this crowd hanging on every near fall.
This match is officially bonkers. Sheamus has the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. McIntyre is throwing Claymore Kicks and anything that moves. The sequence between the two of them was absurd.
Gunther needed just two more seconds to get up to the top rope for his splash, but he moved as fast as he could. That was an intense last few minutes.
Drew McIntyre was a solid table for powerbombing Sheamus onto.
Gunther is an all time great Intercontinental Champion. He may be the biggest beneficiary in WWE of the unified world championship situation. What a title reign. What a night for him. What a fun match.
Off the air, as commercials were running, Sheamus and McIntyre hugged in the ring and headed up the ramp. So, they’re friends again. Hooray for friendship!
Bianca Belair vs. Asuka for the Raw Women’s Championship: I am still bothered by the Women’s Championships being named after shows and not echoing the “WWE and Universal” naming constructs of the major men’s titles. Calling someone the Raw Women’s Champion sounds nowhere near as cool as Universal Women’s Champion or Women’s Universal Champion.
Asuka should have had tiny child Asukas dancing for her entrance. And adult ones. More Asukas! All of the Asukas!
Bianca Belair’s entrance was another WrestleMania great one from her. The children dancing were excellent, particularly the last one before Bianca entered. It’s special to see the thought Bianca puts into each of these big stage entrances.
These two women have a tough act to follow after the brutal (and GREAT) Rhea Ripley and Charlotte match last night. They’re technically there for the challenge, but the passion of the crowd hasn’t quite been there.
The finishing sequence from Asuka going for the mist into Bianca transitioning from Asuka’s submission hold to the KOD was awesome. I loved seeing people buy into every moment of that one. This match was not as great as it could have been with the storytelling going in not supporting it, but it was good.
Bianca Belair continues to build up her WrestleMania legend. She is unstoppable on the big stage and WWE can use that to their advantage in future years. Now they need to build an opponent capable of breaking Bianca of her sing-song approach and bringing out the real person that is super dynamic and fun.
Al Michaels should dispassionately call a WrestleMania match tonight like he dispassionately called the Jaguars and Chargers playoff game in January.
Shane McMahon and/or Snoop Dogg vs. The Miz: Shane McMahon getting a surprise WrestleMania entrance as he watches the family business leave his family is actually a little hilarious.
Okay, now it’s actually quite sad as noted non-athlete Shane McMahon got blown up going down the ramp and seemed to seriously injure his knee (it looked like NFL ACL tear injuries often look). This is just sad.
Snoop Dogg for WrestleMania MVP for apparently improving the end of that segment and sequence. That was quite a weird moment and weird sequence of events. WWE got lucky Snoop could quickly move on and punch The Miz, as Shane McMahon looks seriously hurt (and like maybe he shouldn’t be involved in wrestling ever again).
“Brood” Edge vs. “The Demon” Finn Balor: These entrances are a show unto themselves in the best way. Mirrorball Brood Vampire Edge! Demon Dance Crowd Finn! These are just as cool as folks knew they would be at WrestleMania.
Seriously, from the moment Finn first performed “The Demon” gimmick in WWE, folks wanted to see it at WrestleMania. Now we get to. That’s cool.
Red Chair! Purple Kendo Stick! These are the tradeoffs we make for an actual see-thru Hell in a Cell structure. Thank you WWE for bringing back the logically colored Cell.
Edge is out here referencing one of the great Hell in a Cell matches (Usos vs. New Day) with the Kendo Stick corner trap.
Is this another Demon Finn Balor match on WrestleMania weekend weirdly stopped because Finn started bleeding. This has shades of Samoa Joe and Balor from NXT Takeover Dallas in 2016. Hopefully there is only the one layoff to clean blood and not 3-4 like that match.
That was as brutal a sprint as a Hell in a Cell match could be after the injury layoff. It was almost like a restart for the match itself, as both men were suddenly determined to do everything they could to help the fans forget the pause.
Finn Balor using one of the Cell’s robo-camera platforms to launch himself through a table was a fun creative spot we’ve never seen before. Those cameras were just added to the Cell in 2020 (I think) though.
Edge winning this Hell in a Cell match actually surprises me, but with the heat machine Dominik Mysterio can be and potentially entering a feud with Bad Bunny, I think Finn will be fine.
After being at Friday Night’s Hall of Fame ceremony, I do see just how cool this is for the honorees to be brought out on stage. Especially now that WWE doesn’t have a separate evening for the HOF, they need to do everything they can to make these inductions still feel as special as they can. I’m particularly happy about Rey Mysterio getting his HOF induction while he’s still active. The man belongs on any wrestling Mount Rushmore.
I’m curious to see if this weird delay going into the main event hurts crowd investment. I have no idea why I just watched a video of Seth Rollins’ WrestleMania entrance. I didn’t want to watch it. I want to get to Cody Rhodes’ building-crumbling pyro.
Roman Reigns vs. “The American Nightmare” Cody Rhodes for the WWE Undisputed Universal Championship: This is it. This is the big one and it’s been built up so well. Let’s go.
Cody Rhodes’ pyro did not crumble the building but it did shake. The entrance, the hug with his daughter, and presenting the belt to Brodie Lee Jr and absolutely wrecked me. Cody is so many things, but he’s always oddly sincere, often to a fault. This entrance had me shedding a tear or two.
As a human who works professionally in classical music and has been a part of piano moves before, great work from the WWE crew and the performers on getting those pianos in place for Roman’s entrance and performing so well. That’s not easy in a stadium.
Roman Reigns and Cody Rhodes have yet to touch on WWE TV, which is a wonderful move. This is a special match with a true WrestleMania main event feeling to it.
The bell rings. The fans roar. This kind of atmosphere is not common. It does not happen every year. WWE caught lightweight in a bottle in so many ways with this main event.
I’m not sure if Cody was going for a Disaster Kick or a Cody-canrana there, but the catch into the powerbomb from Reigns sure was pretty. This slow start is indicating a longer match building up to a crescendo.
Last night’s main event was more frenetic from the opening to the very end. Energy flowed from the match and fans, back and forth, in waves. This one has a more traditional build with Cody and Roman deliberately drawing fans in, asking them for patience, and hopefully delivering on a promise of more later. Last year, Roman and Brock Lesnar had a short frenetic main event that disappointed. I don’t blame Roman for building something better this year.
The Cody Rhodes hope spots into the Cody-Cutter near fall were electric inside the building. Add in the “you’re outta’ here” spot with Solo getting ejected from ringside and the fans are on their feet and ready at this point. They’ve got the crowd with this one.
Cody kicks out of the Rock Bottom. Roman kicks out of the Pedigree. Shades of WrestleMania 2000, which should have solely been main evented by The Rock and Triple H. Sorry Mick Foley and Big Show. You were not necessary. The same is true of Linda McMahon.
It’s such a wild thing to hear “Boo Yay” punches have the reactions WWE wishes for them to. These punches started as an odd response to people’s disdain for John Cena at WrestleMania 22 in 2006 (when Chicago, of all cities, collectively adored Triple H). 17 years later and we’re seeing these punches used effectively to tell the story WWE wants to tell.
The ref bump, followed by the Usos run in and the save from Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn was really well done. This story is about relationships and melodrama. They gave us the full summary in about 4 minutes of referee rest time. Also I will happily count this as another WrestleMania main event for Kevin Owens.
That match went into a wild sequence of finishers, with Cody Rhodes seeming about to fully realize his dream. 70,000 fans were standing and cheering. It seemed like the moment, but Solo returned to ringside, took out Cody with the Samoan Spike, and Roman hit a spear to win. Fans are stunned and rushing for the exits. People are genuinely amazed that WWE (classically a babyface driven promotion) did not go all the way with Cody. This is wild.
This is the most shocking match ending I’ve seen in a long time.
There are so many reasons WWE could be choosing to go with Roman, perhaps chief among them an upcoming sale and wanting their franchise player on an unbelievable run in the top spot as that sale happens. Roman is close to quite a few landmark numbers in this reign that we haven’t seen in decades.
Cody Rhodes is still in the ring as fans file out. This run for him has been unfathomable years ago, but we have to wonder if he hits these heights again. Even Friday night, Cody leaned him some of his worst tendencies rapping California Love when no one asked him to. Do fans keep buying in when he’s now another victim of Roman Reigns’ long title reign? Cody is taking in the moment and now being applauded as he makes it to his feet.
Rhodes’ music is playing and, while he can walk away and feel great about an amazing run and performance, it must feel hollow.
WWE tonight made a safe choice and honestly put on an unremarkable second night of WrestleMania. I understand the safe choice to end it, but this card did not deliver the way we all hoped it would. The contrast between this and night one is not just in the ending, but the entire show. WWE wasted like a half hour of the show after Hell in a Cell. They delivered some good matches, but nothing hit the way multiple matches did last night. It was a weak show with a shocking end.