Monday, April 12, 2021

WWE WrestleMania 37, Night 2: The Bad Guys Win Everything

WrestleMania 37, Night 2 was a pretty good show overall, by my estimation a small step down from Night 1, but with plenty to enjoy, including another stellar main event.  I will say it was refreshing to have two WrestleMania shows where the main event outshined everything else - that doesn't happen often; it's been six years since the last time.  Maybe the weirdest thing about Night 2 was the fact that of the seven matches, six were won by heels.  What a downer.

WWE got the worst crap out of the way early, with Randy Orton vs. The Fiend as the opening match.  There was a bunch of stupid visual effects-related stuff leading to Bray Wyatt's entrance, including his morphing from the burnt Friday the 13th Part 6 version of The Fiend back to the regular one.  He emerged from a giant jack-in-the-box and hit Orton with a diving clothesline, and we were off (complete with the headache-inducing red lighting that by all rights should've long ago lost someone their job).  These two did a competently worked five-minute match that ended with Wyatt about to hit Sister Abigail on Orton, only to be distracted by Alexa Bliss leaking black ooze all over her face.  Orton took advantage to hit Wyatt with the RKO for the pin, the lights went out, and when they came back up everyone was gone.  Ummm, what?  So Orton burned this guy alive, he disappeared for three months, returned at Fastlane to set up his great revenge at WrestleMania, and lost in five minutes?  Seriously, kill this character off.  He sucks.  Go back to swamp-dwelling Bray Wyatt with the whole world in his hands.  This Fiend shit is early-90s WWF terrible.  Fuck this feud.  *

The second-worst match of the night was next as Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax defended against Tag Team Turmoil winners Natalya and Tamina, and while clunky and sloppy in spots, this was decent.  Shayna and Nattie worked well together, Nia and Tamina did big power moves on each other.  Shayna at one point hit a knee lift that apparently caused Nattie to bite right through her lip - sweet jeezus that had to hurt.  The finish came at 14 minutes when Nattie locked Nia in a sharpshooter, unaware that Nia had blind-tagged Shayna in.  Shayna came up from behind and locked in the kirafuda clutch, causing Nattie to pass out.  This was pretty good but insanely got more time than anything except the main event.  That's fucking mental.  **
Finally things picked up with Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn.  These two, no strangers to each other or great matches, packed 15 minutes of material into a nine-minute sprint, hitting every big move they could think of, including loads of suplexes, a Zayn brainbuster on the apron, an Owens frog splash, a Zayn Michinoku driver, culminating in Zayn missing a Helluva Kick and running into a pair of superkicks followed by the Stunner to give Owens the win.  This deserved five more minutes (which could easily have been taken from the tag match), but this was one of the best nine-minute matches you'll ever see.  Logan Paul, in Zayn's corner, congratulated Owens on his win, drawing Zayn's ire.  Paul shoved Zayn to the mat and raised Owens' hand.  Owens thanked Paul by stunning him, much to the overwhelming delight of the crowd.  A good old-fashioned Stone Cold moment to follow up a damn good little match.  ****

Another really good but fairly short match followed as Matt Riddle defended the US Title against Sheamus.  This absolutely had the wrong result, but these two beat the shit out of each other and it was delightful.  I'll say this - if Vince hasn't taken notice of Riddle after this, he's even more tone-deaf than I thought.  Riddle is awesome.  The big spots included Riddle hitting a belly-to-belly superplex where he basically rode Sheamus's body all the way down, a jackhammer (Goldberg must hate that Riddle does it better than him now), Sheamus countering a lariat with a jumping knee, followed by an Alabama slam, and Sheamus going for White Noise off the top rope, only to slip to the mat.  To his credit though, he held onto the move and simply delivered it on the ground.  But what a shame; that move would've been a huge moment.  After hitting White Noise, Sheamus did a King Kong knee drop for a nearfall.  Riddle made a brief comeback and went for an Asai moonsault, but Sheamus countered by Brogue Kicking him midair right in the mouth (which split Riddle's lip open), to win the match and the US Title.  Why the 43-year-old Sheamus needs the US Title at this point is beyond me, but this match was pretty great.  Make this a multi-match feud and give Riddle the win back.  ***3/4

Maybe the match that got the most criminally shortchanged was Big E vs. Apollo Crews.  After all the buildup surrounding the Nigerian Drum Fight (which incidentally didn't involve any drums being used as weapons aside from a gong), these two got a whopping seven minutes.  Can WWE for Chrissakes cut some of the video packages on these shows so the matches themselves can get more time?  Anyway, both guys worked hard here, whacking each other with kendo sticks at the outset.  Big E speared Apollo out of the ring, Apollo tried to crush Big E with the ring steps, Big E hit a uranagi from the apron to the steps, Crews splashed himself through a table, and Big E hit the Big Ending, but before he could make the cover, Apollo's new heater showed up, the near-seven-foot Dabba-Kato, who chokeslammed Big E allowing Apollo to get the win and the title.  Give this five more minutes and it could've felt pretty special.  As it was, they did everything they could with what little time they got.  **3/4

The semi-main slot (One nice thing about these shows was the lack of a "death spot match") went to Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley, and while not the instant classic I was hoping for, these two worked hard and had a pretty good match.  Rhea controlled much of the first half, grounding Asuka but sometimes falling into submission traps and powering out.  The second half picked up, with Ripley wheelbarrowing Asuka face-first into the apron and Asuka later hitting a DDT off the apron to the floor.  Asuka tried several submission attempts but Ripley kept breaking free.  Ripley eventually countered a kick attempt with the Riptide for the three-count, earning a well-deserved, one-year-overdue win at WrestleMania.  I hope we'll see more of this match as I know they have a better one in them, but I was very glad to see Ripley finally get the push she should've gotten last year.  This woman is straight-up money, and at 24 years old could be a women's division centerpiece for the next decade or more.  Don't fuck this up, WWE.  The match as I said could've been better but I liked it pretty well.  ***1/4

The Triple Threat main event was, upon the first viewing, my favorite match of either night.  I'll have to rewatch both shows to see if that opinion holds, but I pretty much loved this match initially.  Roman, Edge and Bryan worked their asses off and put together a near-classic.  Jey Uso tried to interfere early on, superkicking both Bryan and Edge, but Edge dispatched him with an Implant DDT on the ring stairs, and he was taken away by the medical personnel.  From there the action was fast and furious, with the three guys taking turns pairing off with each other.  Bryan snared both opponents in the Yes Lock but each time it was broken up by the other opponent.  Reigns powerbombed Bryan onto Edge and then took him outside and powerbombed him through the announce table (shades of the WM20 and WM30 main events).  Edge speared Reigns off the ring steps, threw him into the ring, and locked in a crossface, assisted with a piece of a chair Roman had broken.  Suddenly Bryan dove in to stop Roman from tapping, and applied the Yes Lock to Reigns' other side.  Bryan and Edge argued, each trying to get the other to break the hold, and eventually took turns headbutting each other.  This was my favorite moment in the match.  Edge countered Bryan's running knee with a spear, then speared Roman, but Bryan pulled the referee out.  Edge gave Bryan a conchairto, knocking him out, and went to do the same to Roman, but Jey Uso reappeared.  Edge took out Uso but ran into a Roman spear, followed by a conchairto of his own.  Roman dragged Edge on top of Bryan and pinned them both to retain the belt.  So yeah, a downer of an ending, but honestly at this point I'd rather see Roman keep the title than the 47-year-old Edge win it.  The question now is, who is left for Roman to fight?  A Cesaro push would be nice, and they could have a great match.  But Bryan or Edge challenging him at this point wouldn't make sense given how decisively he dispatched both guys.  Regardless, a helluva main event, and either the best or second-best match of the entire WrestleMania.  ****1/4

So yeah, Night 1 was overall the better night, but Night 2 had some pretty swell stuff too, even if the booking didn't make a whole lot of sense.  Six out of seven matches going to the heels, including all five title matches?  Huh?  Legit, Bianca Belair is the only babyface champion on the main roster currently.  Is the company signing Superman to save everyone?

Best Match: Reigns vs. Edge vs. Bryan
Worst Match: Orton vs. The Fiend
What I'd Change: Give Owens-Zayn more time, give Big E-Crews more time, give the tag match less time, give Orton-Fiend a reason to even exist, and give Riddle a real run as US Champion.
Most Disappointing Match: I guess I was mildly underwhelmed by Asuka vs. Ripley but it was still good.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Riddle vs. Sheamus
Overall Rating: 7.5/10

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