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WWE Wrestlemania 38 (Night 2, Sunday)
by Scrooge McSuck
Live from the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, TX for the second night of WrestleMania 38. Tonight, we've got the BIGGEST MATCH IN WWE HISTORY as Roman and Brock fight to unify the WWE and Universal Championships. Also, the Raw Tag Team Championship and Women's Tag Team Championship will be defended, but when you have THE BIGGEST MATCH IN WWE HISTORY, who cares?
Triple H joins us for one last time, having announced his retirement from in-ring competition following a serious health scare several months ago. The crowd FINALLY gives him that "thank you for everything" reaction he's taken a shot at before and leaves his boots in the ring as the camera fades to black.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match:
Rated RK-Bro (c) vs. Alpha Academy vs. The Street Profits:
The world is anxiously waiting for Randy Orton to turn on Riddle, but don't worry, that won't happen tonight. For those lapsed fans, Alpha Academy is another attempt to repackage Chad Gable as a tag team wrestler, this time with Otis, and they're the heels of the match. Gable's good at being obnoxious, but Otis seemed like a babyface lifer. HA. What an idiot I was to assume they'd never turn him heel. Riddle, Ford, and Gable start. Gable with a big "SHOOOOOSH" and gets nailed for it. Gable takes advantage of Riddle and Ford fighting and hits a bridging German suplex for two. People get dumped like it's a Battle Royal, with Otis the last man standing. Sorry, THE TREE TRUNK OTIS. Heck breaks loose with all six men brawling until Ford leaps over Gable and the turnbuckle to hit the pile with a somersault senton. Gable wants in on the fun too and hits a big moonsault. Back inside, Oris and Gable lay out Riddle with a combo clothesline and German suplex. Otis with more clotheslines and a TREE TRUNK SPLASH. Surprisingly, he doesn't go for a cover. Gable with a Northern Lights for two. Ford does a full rotation taking a monkey-flip out of the corner. He flips out of a suplex and tags in Dawkins. He comes off the ropes with an elbow on Gable and hits a pair of exploders. The Tree Trunk Otis cuts him off with a splash and goes back to punishing Riddle. Riddle escapes an Ankle Lock, hits a GTS to Dawkins, and finally tags in Orton. He runs wild on Ford with clotheslines and a snap powerslam. Orton and Riddle with synchronized DDTs on the Street Profits. Alpha Academy clear the Champions out and hit the old Steiner Brothers flying bulldog on Ford for a near-fall. Street Profits with a Doomsday Blockbuster on Gable for two. Orton comes back to life, only to get planted with a spine-buster. Ford goes high risk, but Riddle shows up out of nowhere with a springboard RKO! Gable eats an RKO (out of nowhere) and the Champs retain at 11:33. Post-match, the babyfaces bring in Gable Steveson. Chad Gable picks a fight with him and gets thrown around for his troubles. Solid opener with no down time and some great spots. ***½
Bobby Lashley vs. Omos:
Lashley has missed in-ring action for several months and is tasked with getting something watchable out of Raw's resident COLOSSUS. Not much of a story here, just Omos being overconfident and Lashley wanting to take him down. Omos catches a boot from Lashley and puts him on his knees with a clothesline. Lashley ducks a boot and foolishly attempts a suplex. Omos easily blocks and grabs the CLAW. Lashley uses his brute strength to break the grip, but Omos remains in control, clubbing Lashley across the chest. Lashley pops up and slaps Omos across the face. Omos responds with another boot and clotheslines in the corner. They botch a spot where Omos was supposed to miss a charge and REPEAT THE SPOT. Lashley goes for the Hurt Lock, but Omos blocks. Omos with another claw grip (the least popular boss in Super Mario Bros. 2) to send Lashley over the top rope. Lashley won't back down, bringing the fight back in the ring. Omos catches a flying body press, transitions to a fireman's carry, and sends Lashley crashing to the canvas. Lashley gets his head smacked against the post when being rammed into the corner. OUCH. Lashley fights out of a bear-hug and takes Omos over with a suplex! Lashley with a spear to the back, then one more spear facing Omos for the three-count at 6:34. This was a simple hoss fight. Perfectly fine as a pallet cleanser after a hot tag team opener. *½
Anything Goes Match: Johnny Knoxville vs. Sami Zayn:
To my surprise, this match has received quite a bit of hype, including Knoxville publicly revealing Sami's phone number, cause his notifications to blow up from the WWE Universe. "Anything Goes" is tonight's way of saying this will be a smoke and mirrors weapons match. Full disclosure: I was never a fan of Jackass, and don't care much for Knoxville, but I'm entering this with an open mind. Zayn hits the Helluva Kick as soon as the bell sounds. He sends Knoxville to the floor so he can jaw at the Jackass crew in the front row. The distraction allows Knoxville to recover and blast Sami in the face with a fire extinguisher. They bring plunder in the ring, with Sami joyfully whacking Knoxville with a baking sheet and crutch. Michael Cole makes a FRED SANFORD reference for all the 55+ year old's that make up the key WWE demographic (that's the character played by Redd Foxx on the 70's sitcom "Sanford and Son"). Zayn reaches under the ring and discovers a table covered in mousetraps. Knoxville rattles Sami's brains, using trash can lids as a pair of cymbals. He positions a table in the corner and Sami throws him through it with an exploder suplex. Knoxville counters the Helluva Kick with an airhorn. Suddenly, one of the Jackass guys (Pontius) hops in and dances in a thong speedo. Zayn lays him out with a Helluva Kick to make him my favorite wrestler of the weekend. Cole calls it Naked Mideon 2.0, I'm thinking more of Big Dick Johnson. Now it's Wee-Man's turn to run interference. He chases Sami into the ring and gives him AN EPIC BODYSLAM. Seriously, that spot was hilarious and a highlight of the night, and I say that without irony. Knoxville comes back to life to hit a Tornado DDT for a near-fall. Wee-Man pulls out a mechanical punter (what else can I call it?!) and gets laid out with a Helluva Kick. Sami goes to the top rope, but Knoxville sets off pyro, shooting it up Sami's rear and causing him to straddle the turnbuckle. Knoxville brings out a bowling ball for the 7-10 split. He pulls off the punt to the groin and whips out a taser. He chases Sami to the floor, with Sami running into A GIANT HAND. Good to see Mark Henry and Mae Young's lovechild getting work in 2022. Sami climbs the ropes again, checking for more booby-traps like he's a Wet Bandit. Knoxville with tongs to the junk and slams Sami off the top rope to the floor, crashing through the mousetrap table on the way there. Knoxville and the Jackass crew whip out a giant mousetrap. Knoxville with the taser and he uses the mousetrap to pin Sami at 14:26. This was entertaining crap, and no way am I watching it again, otherwise the rating will be much lower. ***
Women's Tag Team Championship Match:
Queen Zelina & Carmella (c) vs. Sasha Banks & Naomi vs. Rhea Ripley & Liv Morgan vs. Natalya & Shayna Baszler:
Maybe it's time to retire this Championship. Feels like every year we get a 4-corner tag with random teams of wacky partners who won't be together a year from now. Good to see Ripley and Nikki A.S.H. were split for the sake of Nikki being left off both cards. Zelina and Carmella won the belts way back in November and I'm sure have done little of note since. Zelina teases starting, then tags out to Carmella, who then tags out to Banks. Ripley offers a test-of-strength and easily sends Banks to the canvas. Banks springboards into a side arm bar but can't hit the Back Stabber. Morgan tags in as we get a bunch of video game action on the floor. Morgan and Banks pause to hit a pair of tope suicidas before engaging in combat themselves. Natalya with the blind tag to take control on Morgan. Baszler with a knee to the face and stomp across the ankle. JOINT MANIPULATION BABY. Carmella tags herself in, barking at Shayna to leave the ring. Zelina with Code Red but Ripley saves. Everyone gets their sh*t in sooner than I expected. Carmella takes Ripley off the top with a hurricanrana and Zelina follows with a moonsault to the floor. We get not one but two Towers of Doom from opposite corners. Naomi with a cradle on Morgan for two. Riptide into a back stabber but Banks saves. Shayna runs wild for a bit. Zelina cuts off the Hart Attack, pulling Natalya to the floor. Carmella with a Super-Kick on Naomi for two. Naomi with the leg sweep of doom and Sasha with the Frog Splash. Bank Statement applied but Zelina saves. Sasha with the Meteora to take out Zelina. Back inside, combo sit-out face-buster finishes with Banks and Naomi taking the titles at 10:50. For those keeping track, this is Sasha's FIRST WIN AT WRESTLEMANIA. How is that possible?! This was stuff happening for the sake of getting the women on the card, with only the final two minutes worth anything. **
A.J. Styles vs. Edge:
In the weeks leading up to the show, Edge turned heel, wanting to focus more on reclaiming his former glory rather than satisfy the fans by just being part of the show, calling out Styles specifically. Why is Styles bleeding on the side of his head? OH MY GOD, THEY GOT RID OF THE METALINGUS THEME SONG?! DAMN YOU WWE! I know this guarantees a lower chance of babyface reaction, but damn that song slapped hard. Bell sounds and Edge hides in the ropes. Lockup into the corner and Edge arrogantly avoids a right hand. Styles isn't amused and lands a kick to the leg. Crisscross and Styles connects with a dropkick. He takes Edge over with a pair of arm drags and goes back to the leg. Edge rolls out of a side headlock and back-slide. He teases a Spear but puts on the brakes with Styles side-stepping away. Styles lures Edge to the floor and hits a sliding knee from the apron. Back inside, Edge brings up the knees to counter a springboard 450. Edge punishes the midsection with a series of knees. Styles fires off a series of strikes but Edge cuts him off, countering a hip toss with an abdominal stretch. Styles escapes and takes Edge down with a dragon screw leg whip. The comeback is short-lived, with Edge hitting a shoulder breaker. There has not been much urgency so far. Styles pops up and meets the turnbuckle on a wild charge into the corner.
Edge's efforts to move in for the kill are thwarted, being thrown into the turnbuckles with a suplex. Styles with ground ‘n' pound, and suddenly Edge cuts him off with double knees into the extended arm. Each man takes turns avoiding the other's big shots until Edge applies a Cross-Face. Styles avoids a Spear through the ropes and spikes Edge with a slingshot DDT. Edge cuts off Styles climbing the ropes but is hit with a spin-out powerbomb for two. Edge fights off the shoulders on the second try and connects with his signature DDT for a near-fall. Neither man having extended periods of offense is kind of annoying me. It seems like no matter the circumstance, neither is hitting more than one big move before the other cuts him off. They trade blows from their knees, battling to their feet. Styles lays in a series of headbutts and the Phenomenal Blitz. Edge blocks the clothesline, but the Pele connects, and Styles applies the Calf-Crusher, but Edge counters THAT and reapplies the Cross-Face. Edge with the inverted DDT for two. Slingshot Powerbomb gets two. Styles fights out of the corner and hits a super-plex across the apron. THAT'S THE HARDEST PART OF THE RING. Back inside, Styles hits the springboard 450 for a near-fall. Edge avoids the Forearm, Styles avoids the Spear, and the Styles Clash connects for two. Styles sets up for the Phenomenal Forearm again, but here's Damian Priest for a distraction. It stalls Styles long enough that when he does attempt the move, Edge meets him in mid-air with the Spear, and that's good for three at 24:27. This feels like they were trying to have an epic match, but it went too long and there really wasn't much of a story to it other than "I hit a move, you hit a move." I understand it's to give off the impression both men are so evenly matched, but I like something that resembles a heat segment. It's a technically solid match but feels like a disappointment at the same time, and doing a finish like that for a match that went nearly 25-minutes? Pass. ***½
The New Day vs. Sheamus & Ridge Holland (w/ Butch):
After getting cut from Night 1 due to time restrictions (HA!), they're rescheduled here. Yay. Who's Butch? It's the repackaged Pete Dunne. Don't ask me, I don't know either. He's basically doing the under-sized goon gimmick. WWE continues to replay the video of Big E's injury, which seems like a disgusting, inexcusable thing to do. I don't care what story they want to tell, it's a gruesome clip that doesn't need to be seen again. Kofi and Woods come out in Big E style singlets, using the design he wore the night he won the WWE Championship. They're jobbing, aren't they? Sheamus and Holland attack New Day as they're entering the ring and DISRESPECT THE GEAR HONORING BIG E. Woods and Kofi battle back until it's Kofi and Holland in the ring. Kofi with Trouble in Paradise but Sheamus saves. Butch distracts his own friend long enough for Woods to hit a wrecking ball dropkick. Back inside, Woods removes the straps and bounces off the ropes with a sliding face-buster. Meanwhile, Sheamus KO's Kofi on the floor with the Brogue Kick. Sheamus with a Brogue Kick to Woods, and Holland finishes with the high-angle slam (think Al Snow's Snowplow) at 1:45. They couldn't squeeze this onto the Saturday card? ½*
Pat McAfee vs. Austin Theory (w/ Mr. McMahon):
So, to clear this up as quickly as possible, McAfee had McMahon on his show for an interview, which led to McMahon offering McAfee the opportunity to wrestle at WrestleMania. Since then, McMahon's protégé, Austin Theory, has done his best to troll McAfee. McAfee gets the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders for his entrance. For the record, McAfee spent his entire NFL career with the Indianapolis Colts, but FOOTBALL SO WHO CARES. Theory misses a charge into the corner, allowing McAfee to land a series of right hands. Theory hides in the corner and knocks McAfee to the canvas with a double thrust to the throat. McAfee cuts him off and connects with a spinning elbow. MCAFEE WITH A HURRICANRANA FOR TWO. Theory quickly regains control, connecting with a back breaker and snap suplex. Theory with another suplex, showboating along the way. McAfee counters a third suplex with one of his own. Theory rolls to the apron and gets sent crashing into the announcer's table. McAfee follows, puts on the headset, and throws a cold beverage on Theory as payback for an earlier incident. Back inside, McAfee misses a Swanton bomb. Theory with a spin-out back suplex for two. Theory takes too long climbing the ropes, allowing McAfee to recover. McAfee lands on his feet after being pushed off the top, leaps up and hits Theory with a super-plex for two. Theory avoids the punt and takes the knees out with a basement dropkick. McAfee avoids the TKO (or whatever Theory calls it) and rolls him up for three at 9:37. McAfee had a few excellent spots, otherwise a basic formula match. **½
Now we get to the uncomfortable portion of the show. After the match, McAfee has words for Mr. McMahon, who is hanging around ringside to have a conference with Theory. McAfee challenges McMahon to get into the ring, so McMahon starts teasing taking off his jacket. Sorry, the jacket is off. OK, now he's teasing the tie and collar shirt. OH GOD, HE TOOK THEM BOTH OFF, AND HE'S WEARING A TANK TOP UNDERNEATH. McMAHON IS DRESSED TO FIGHT. OH MY GOD, THERE'S A REFEREE. Suddenly, Theory attacks McAfee from behind and... the bell rings.
Pat McAfee vs. Mr. McMahon:
Dear Lord, save my soul for watching this abomination. McAfee runs into the world's worst clothesline, then gets side-stepped and sent face-first into the turnbuckle. People make fun of wrestlers selling for blow-up dolls, but embrace THIS? A man pushing 80 embarrassing a legitimate athlete in his mid 30's? The crowd chants YOU STILL GOT IT. Hopefully ironically. McMahon sends McAfee into the turnbuckle again. Theory posts McAfee in clear view of the referee. He hands McMahon a Cowboys football. McMahon teases kicking it to the crowd, but instead gently kicks it into McAfee's stomach AND PINS HIM FOR THREE AT 3:45. Several former World Champions couldn't get 2-minutes, by the way. Post-match, Steve Austin
interrupts the celebration. AUSTIN STUNS AUSTIN. McMahon accepts the beer and OH MY GOD, WE GET THE WORST STUNNER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD. WORSE THAN TRUMP AT 23. Austin drinks with McAfee and stuns him too. Wow. I swear to God, I felt like I was watching something like a little kid fantasy booking on the fly with his action figures. "So Pat McAfee pins Austin Theory, but then Mr. McMahon shows up and uses this nerf ball to get the win, but then Steve Austin shows up and stuns him, but then the Stunner looked bad on McMahon, so we'll have him stun McAfee too!" Minus one star for every match to take place on a WrestleMania card, including pre-show matches, because this being bell-to-bell an official match makes it the worst match in the history of WrestleMania as of April 2022.
WWE Championship and Universal Championship Unification Match:
Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns (w/ Paul Heyman):
This is advertised as the biggest match in WWE history. You don't need me making a smart-ass remark about the inaccuracy of that, but promoters must promote. All I expect is the same old match between them, but with Brock in the babyface role and Roman as the heel. Heyman (for Reigns) and Brock do their own introductions. Who needs legitimacy in sports entertainment for the biggest match in company history? Brock doesn't hesitate to remove his gloves. Lesnar throws forearms and knees to start. Reigns fights out of the corner, but Lesnar cuts him off, burying shoulders into the midsection. Roman escapes a German, only to get thrown with an overhead belly-to-belly suplex. Lesnar throws him two more times and sends Roman over the top with a clothesline. Heyman with a distraction, buying Roman time to recover and Spear Lesnar through the timekeeper's barrier. Back inside, Roman with a second Spear for a near-fall. Reigns with a pair of Superman punches. Lesnar counters the third with a German suplex. Lesnar throws Roman four more times. Roman avoids the F-5 and hits another Superman punch. Lesnar counters the Spear with an F-5 for two. Roman claws the face to escape the F-5 and Spears Lesnar into the referee. Roman sees the opportunity in front of himself and hits Brock with a Greco-Roman low blow. Roman nails Brock with the Universal Championship and covers for two. Roman with a Spear from behind for two. Brock counters a Spear with the Kimura but Roman gets to the ropes. Roman avoids the F-5 again and finishes with the Spear at 12:18. BIGGEST MATCH IN HISTORY. In the end, we got the same old match between the two. Spamming finishers and little else. **½
Final Thoughts: As individual nights go, Saturday's show delivered the two best matches, and had a more memorable Main Event. Despite my criticisms (ignoring the abomination involving McMahon), most of the matches on the Sunday night card was fine. There's stuff that doesn't work if you're a work-rate snob, but nothing involving talent under the age of 76 was atrocious. The three celebrity performances were at worst decent efforts, and nothing went too long for the sake of going long, with Styles vs. Edge being the longest at just under 25-minutes, and very few matches going more than 15. I'd give both shows a solid recommendation, but for the love of God, fast forward the one segment I know you're tired of me bitching about.
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