This year, I went into Wrestlemania pretty cold. I haven’t watched WWE programming regularly for quite some time. I keep up with what’s going on through Twitter and tune in for the occasional Pay Per View. Going in with such low expectations was a bit of a freeing experience for me. As opposed to being overly critical, I found myself having a lot of fun and really enjoyed most of what I saw. Let’s take a look at some of the stand out performances from this weekend.
Cody Rhodes vs Seth Rollins
As a huge AEW Fan, it was bittersweet to see the rumours of Cody Rhodes return/defection confirmed as Seth Rollins mystery opponent on Night One of Wrestlemania. “From undesirable, to undeniable” was a phrase that Cody used in describing the journey he was on for the past six years. After leaving WWE, Cody Tweeted out a list of potential opponents and goals he had laid out for himself. Over the course of accomplishing those goals and working his dream matches, the list evolved. The goals got bigger. He helped launch AEW and was integral to its success. Now we find ourselves at the next evolution of the list, one that takes him back to WWE to try and prove he truly is “undeniable”.
Cody debuted to one of the biggest pops of the night, with an entrance very reminiscent of what he was doing in AEW. The music. The graphics. It was a Cody Rhodes production through and through. I was happy to see The American Nightmare as opposed to Stardust or some lazy repackage. The match itself was solid. Good crisp work from both Cody and Seth. Anytime we get a Dusty Rhodes Bionic Elbow spot, I’m happy. Cody picked up the win and had an emotional post-match celebration. I’m eager to see where we go from here. I hope that Cody gets what he needs out of this next chapter of his career.
Sami Zayn vs Johnny Knoxville
One of the reasons I love wrestling so much is because of the variety. I can appreciate a mat classic just as much as a strong style slugfest. While I’m not exactly a Death Match guy, I don’t mind you putting some humour in my wrestling. The Sami Zayn vs Johnny Knoxville match was exactly what you would have imagined. A spot fest with Jackass stunts and cameos mixed in. If you can’t appreciate a man getting hit in the groin with a bowling ball, then this match was probably a good opportunity for you to hit the restroom. If, on the other hand, you don’t take this shit too seriously you would have been treated to the absurdity of Wee Man body slamming Sami Zayn in a callback to Hogan slamming Andre at Wrestlemania III. It was everything you didn’t know you needed and more. Johnny Knoxville and his crew put on an entertaining performance and we all need to recognize that Sami Zayn is a gift to wrestling fans.
Bianca Belair vs Becky Lynch
Bianca Belair won the Smackdown Women’s Championship one year ago at Wrestlemania by defeating Sasha Banks. This year she went out and stole the show by capturing the Raw Women’s Championship from Becky Lynch. The only logical place to go from here is to defeat Charlotte Flair in a unification match at next year’s Wrestlemania.
Bianca and Becky went out and had the best match of Wrestlemania. It was everything that Becky Lynch said it was going to be. If Mattel is taking requests, I’ll take a Becky in this entrance gear, please. This match showed what fans were robbed of when we got the twenty-seven second Summerslam squash. Hopefully Bianca will have a run that erases that mistake from my memory.
The KO Show with Steve Austin
The build up for this match was a bit odd. Everyone strongly indicated that there was going to be a match, but they never came out and actually announced a match. Regardless of the build, we got exactly what we wanted to see: Austin with a live mic drinking beers and giving stunners. If you were ever at a live event when Austin was on top during the Attitude Era, you probably experienced something similar after the show went off the air. It’s a party in the ring while Steve does stuff to pop himself or the boys in the back and I enjoyed every minute of it. Deep down, I’ll bet Kevin Owens did too.
Pat McAfee vs Austin Theory
This was one of the best storylines coming into ‘Mania. Pat McAfee was a kid who had a dream to be on The Grandest Stage of Them All. They told that story to perfection, complete with an “Seven Nation Army” soundtrack to get you fired up properly. Austin Theory has a very punchable face. The fact he’s Mr. McMahon’s protégé is icing on the cake. Both men delivered, with McAfee exceeding expectations on his way to victory.
After the match McAfee would challenge the 76-year-old McMahon to an impromptu match. Shenanigans would ensue, bringing out Stone Cold Steve Austin for a second night of stunners and beers. Austin Theory gets a gold star for taking an excellent stunner. It was up there with the late great Scott Hall and The Rock in terms of quality. Mr McMahon, on the other hand, failed miserably. Steve Austin has said on many occasions that the worst Stunner he ever delivered was the first one he ever gave Vince who reacted by flopping around in the ring like he was a fish out of water. This Stunner made that one look good. I think we can all agree this should be the last time we ever see Mr McMahon in a ring getting physical. McAfee also got a stunner. Something I’m sure he requested the moment he knew he’d be in the same ring as Austin. To his credit, he made the most of it by taking it like a champ. The beer spray was really next level.
Also worth noting:
Triple H kicking off Night 2 by ceremoniously laying down his boots was a nice tribute. If he’s not the headliner for next year’s Hall of Fame, then what’s the point?
Speaking of the Hall of Fame: Undertaker. Respect. Thank you.
Logan Paul looked really good in his debut. I know that people primarily root for him to fail, but I have to respect the fact that whatever ridiculous situation he finds himself in, he puts the work in to be successful. With The Miz turning on him during their post-match victory celebration, it seems that we haven’t seen the last of Logan Paul in a WWE ring.
Putting the tag straps on Sasha and Naomi was an awesome moment. Those are two women that can carry the belts for a long time and make those titles mean something.
Roman and Brock was exactly what you would have expected. Big sweaty men slapping meat.