The build-up to this year’s WrestleMania is tame compared to what happened last year. In a time of uncertainty, and quite frankly terror, WWE put on a show that was actually great. We didn’t know what was going to happen with the COVID-19 Pandemic at the time, and those performers still went out and gave us some wrestling. This year, we know a lot more about the Pandemic than we did last year. People are being vaccinated, we’re (hopefully) winning the battle against the virus, which means we can finally have fans for a Mania. Emanating from Tampa, Florida, WrestleMania is split into two nights once again.
This is the review for the first night, so if you haven’t watched, you might want to go back and watch, there will be spoilers for the whole show ahead.
For now, let’s get to some Wrestling and the biggest show of the year!
WWE Championship Match: Bobby Lashley (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
Holy crap, that was refreshing.
Imagine this, you have a title match at WrestleMania between two heavyweights, and it goes longer than 5 minutes, and has psychology.
This match delivered on that and then some. Bobby Lashley is on top of the WWE world with this win. For the first time in his long wrestling career, he’s been absolutely dominant. The “Hurt Lock” was billed as a horrific submission that can bring any man to their knees if locked in. It delivered with that here.
Don’t forget about Drew McIntyre though. He was also absolutely fantastic in this match. The intensity was on full display, the brutality of a strictly singles match was all there. These two beat the crap out of each other and it had that big-fight feel.
I’ll say it right now, every Brock Lesnar WrestleMania match over the past 4 years, should have been like this. They weren’t, but hopefully Bobby Lashley is given a dominant run with the title. He deserves it, and really, the title deserves it. Someone outside of Brock Lesnar can be dominant, why not Bobby Lashley?
Bobby Lashley Retains The WWE Championship Via Submission
It was worth the weather delay and more, this match was a hell of a way to start the show on Night One.
#1 Contender Tag Team Turmoil Match: Carmella and Billie Kay vs. Lana and Naomi vs. Tamina Snuka and Natalya vs. Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott vs. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke
Right off the bat, it’s great to see Naomi’s entrance in front of fans. Also, it was incredibly surprising that they eliminated Naomi/Lana almost immediately.
Billie Kay/Carmella Eliminate Lana/Naomi Via Pinfall
Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott entered the match right away.
Ruby Riott/Liv Morgan Eliminate Billy Kay/Carmella Via Pinfall
Also a huge surprise to eliminate Kay and Mella there.
Enter Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose.
Liv Morgan/Ruby Riott Eliminate Mandy Rose/Dana Brooke Via Pinfall
Enter Natalya and Tamina.
Tamina and Natty are the power team in this match, it looks like Morgan and Ruby are the surprise makers. So far, they’ve gotten some impressive action in.
For this section of the match, Natty and Tamina thoroughly dominated, just when you think that Morgan and Riott can overcome, they don’t.
Natty/Tamina Win Via Pinfall Over Liv Morgan/Ruby Riott
No one wants to see Nia Jax/Shayna Baszler go at it with Natty and Tamina, right? Who does a heel/heel match at WrestleMania? They had so many different choices for this match, and they went with the absolute worst one. I get it, Natty and Tamina need a moment, but this just screams “we don’t care about our Women’s Tag-Team division”.
The story that they could have told with ANY of the other teams was better than this. Morgan and Riott pair incredibly well against the size and power of Baszler and Jax. Lana has a story to finish with Jax. Billie Kay has all the momentum in the world. Too bad, we’re getting the worst option tomorrow.
Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins
This was all about Cesaro. After so long of getting a raw deal when it comes to WrestleMania, Cesaro finally got his singles match at Mania. He also got his first win. Doing it against Seth Rollins is just the icing on the cake. While this was a pretty simple match when it comes to action, this was a showcase for how amazing Cesaro can be in a wrestling ring. If you’ve seen his pre-WWE work, you know that though. For more casual people, Cesaro might be someone that gets lost in the shuffle.
Cesaro deserves the world for the time that he’s put in for the WWE. He consistently puts out great work in the ring. It’s a point that almost every IWC journalist has put forth. Just strap the rocket to Cesaro and see what happens.
Cesaro Wins Via Pinfall Over Seth Rollins
Rollins did the job for him, and made him look like a Greek God. This was as good as expected and then some. Rollins was great as the cocky heel, as he usually is. I’m looking forward to where this leads Cesaro to. Hopefully it’s a bigger push, he could put on a HELL of a show with Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship, but that would need a brand change. Perhaps he goes after whoever wins the Universal Title tomorrow.
Seth Rollins’s future is also in flux here, with no clear opponent for him going forward. If Edge doesn’t win tomorrow, Rollins could be a great opponent for him.
RAW Tag Team Championship Match: Omos and AJ Styles vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods)
This was a tale of two matches. The wrestling match with AJ Styles, and the sports entertainment match with Omos. It was a spectacle. Was is a good wrestling match? Probably not. Was it a showcase for Omos? Yes, very much so.
Omos is, obviously gargantuan. He’s very green looking in the ring, but holy hell is he impressive. WWE presented him like the monster he is here. AJ Styles is going to benefit greatly with his partnership. The New Day bumped around for Omos better than most could have. The first half of the match was a great showing for the New Day and their tag-team ability. It also gave us the looks at how they could be as “heels” again.
Omos and AJ Styles Win Via Pinfall Over The New Day
Overall, this wasn’t anything special, but it wasn’t a trainwreck. Which I guess is what you want out of a match featuring a really new superstar in Omos. Hopefully he goes the way of Braun Strowman and makes huge strides towards actually being a good in-ring worker.
As for the RAW Tag-Team division, AJ and Omos likely run through the division until these two break-up. Look to Shawn Michaels and Diesel for the blueprint. It’ll be interesting to see who knocks these two off, but for now, let’s just enjoy the fun.
Steel Cage Match: Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman
Now this was looking like just a standard, boring steel cage match. Up until the latter stages, it was pretty easy going. Once Shane McMahon got to the top of the cage, it was headed that way. It took a bit long for Shane to “get to the spot”, but once Braun ripped open the cage, this match stepped into another gear. It wasn’t enough to make it a classic match. And no spot is going to top Shane O’Mac jumping off the Hell In A Cell structure. Him getting thrown off the top of a cage was pretty brutal though. Landing on the ring with no crash pad is still gnarly for anyone.
Braun getting the win over Shane is the right choice. For someone who was so strong at the point last year, he’s been kind of lost in the shuffle. This should be a reset that Braun needs. Getting a win over Shane O’Mac in a gimmick match still means something these days. Even if it doesn’t give us a moment that we’ll never forget, this did the job for being thrown together so fast.
Braun Strowman Wins Via Pinfall Over Shane McMahon
The one thing I can really nitpick is someone winning a cage match via pinfall. You should always have to escape a cage, not win via normal means. This was fun, although safe and thrown together. That fall from Shane looked really mean on the landing, especially in slow motion.
The Miz and John Morrison vs. Bad Bunny and Damian Priest
This was the best celebrity match in WWE history. Bad Bunny was absolutely fantastic, he blew away any and all expectations of him. Whatever training he did at the Performance Center paid off. It just goes to show the other talent in the match having tons of talent as well. It takes a Miz and Morrison to make Bad Bunny look this good. But it was also a showcase for Bad Bunny being able to do everything that a pro wrestler needs to do. He sold well, his strikes looked strong, and the flashy moves he did were crisp.
The Bunny Destroyer, Cross-Bunny (my new name), and the Cross Body off the top to the outside were all fantastic. They’ll be part of WrestleMania packages for years to come. Bad Bunny has a future in WWE if he wants to, and this was a fantastic match, no matter if it had a celebrity in it or not.
These types of matches are the most fun at Mania, because whatever you think, they just meet the expectations and then some. it’s refreshing to see a celebrity give WWE it’s proper respect and actually put the work in.
Bad Bunny/Damian Priest Win Via Pinfall Over Miz/John Morrison
Damian Priest also looked super strong coming out of this match. He was the heavy that the match needed. He gave it that extra oomph. This is sure to be a big spot for his career and one that’ll catapult him higher. Priest just looks like a cool guy to hang out with in general, I hope he succeeds.
We can only hope that the…Logan Paul… interaction tomorrow is half as good as this was.
Bravo Bad Bunny.
Main Event: SmackDown Women’s Championship Match: Bianca Belair vs. Sasha Banks (c)
Holy hell. Those two women just tore the house down. That was one of the best Main Event’s that we’ve seen in recent memory. Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks had huge stakes, huge expectations, and they did it all and then some. In a traditional WrestleMania main event, there are multiple kickouts and false finishes. We got plenty of those in this match, but it wasn’t the strict finisher-fest that we normally get.
That might be the best women’s match we’ve had on the main roster in WWE. Sasha Banks has been part of the best matches that we’ve seen in WWE. This adds to that resume and then some. The arrival of the EST of WWE is here.
From the in-ring psychology, to the moves done, all the way to the finish, this was perfection across the board. If you didn’t mark out for this match, what’s going to make you fan out?
Bianca Belair Wins The Smackdown Women’s Championship Via Pinfall Over Sasha Banks
If they have these two ladies go at it again for another two matches, I won’t have any problem with it. This was just absolute perfection. I’d hate to be on WrestleMania tomorrow night because this is a hell of a match to follow-up. Thankfully WWE gave them the time and the spot that they needed for this match. If it was anything other than the main event, it would still be great, but it wouldn’t be given the spotlight that it needs.
Bianca Belair has been made, and Sasha Banks is surely in the top 3 wrestlers in the world.
The Full Rating For WrestleMania Night One
WrestleMania is always a spectacle. This was no different. It was WWE’s first event in more than a year with fans in attendance, and you could tell that all the performers felt that. One a night with plenty of big matches, there was only really one dud. It ranged from okay for some of them, good for one match, great for a couple, and true perfection for the Main Event.
Grading an event like this is hard, but this was an enjoyable night of wrestling for all involved. Bad Bunny is a star. Cesaro got his big win. Bianca Belair got made. It was a night of firsts, great wrestling, and we only had one rain delay. If tonight was any indication, we should be in for some more great matches tomorrow night. Let’s hope it’s half as good, because Night One blew every expectation out of the water.
People on the internet wanted this to be a horrible show. It always seems to happen with WWE and AEW, people look for the bad in things before they even happen. If you watched that show and weren’t entertained for most of it, get a different hobby. Night One of Mania was amazing.
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