Episode 407: A Deep Look at WWE Wrestlemania 37: Day 1

Hiya!

I’m really glad the WWE finally made Wrestlemania into a 2-day extravaganza! They did it last year but I thought it was mostly for convenience as they did tape a lot of the matches then. This year, they did it again and spread the card over the weekend, which also makes it much, much, much easier to watch as you don’t have to spend a total of something like 5 to 6 hours on a singular wrestling show, thus proving the adage “too much of a good thing” true.

Even if I am just going to talk about Wrestlemania 37’s first day, I still have a lot of ground to cover for it. So let’s stop dilly-dallying and let’s talk about what happened during the first day of the Showcase of the Immortals.

Let’s go start Day 1 of Wrestlemania 37 by talking about how it didn’t start! The instant the show proper started, it started to rain and they had to postpone the first match until it let up. As this year’s Wrestlemania took place in an open air stadium, there was a possibility for it to be called off because of rain. This was the first time I do recall it happening, which is amazing considering how many times Wrestlemania took place in stadiums without a roof!

It was smart for the WWE to get some of the competitors to talk during the rain delay as they had some time to fill. It was much better than simply using the time to air some pre-taped packages of how the feuds have developed to show why they have a match at The Show of Shows in the first place. However, some of the interviews, like the Bobby Lashley and Drew McIntyre did feel off as they confronted each other and, considering it’s supposed to be a heated rivalry and for the WWE Heavyweight championship, it looked like both were just puffing out their chests. Lots of fluster and bluster.

Speaking of Drew McIntyre vs. Bobby Lashley, this was the first match after the rain delay. I bet the live crowd was a bit antsy after being kicked out of their seat, only to return a half hour later. Thankfully, the match for the WWE Heavyweight Championship was well worth the wait. There was definitely a feel of two large musclebound athletes pounding at each other but without the slowness of guys usually of their size. There were a few high flying moves like Drew taking on Undertaker’s usual spot of jumping over the top rope to the outside. Most of the action, though, were mostly on power moves.

The finish was surprising, considering my prediction on who was going to win this match. After escaping the Hurt Lock, McIntyre locked in the kimura lock on the All Mighty but Lashley managed to get to the ropes to break it. McIntyre manages to stun Lashley with a big boot and sends him to the corner with a Glassgow Kiss headbutt. The Scottish Warrior went for a Claymore kick but got distracted by MVP’s yelling, allowing Lashley to avoid the running kick. Lashley took advantage and locked in the Hurt Lock on McIntyre. McIntyre eventually passes out, allowing Lashley to retain his WWE Heavyweight Championship.

I was totally expecting McIntyre to win this match so he would get his Wrestlemania moment in front of a live audience but I guess the WWE just wanted to do something different. I didn’t like the finish all that much but not because of my prediction. My issue is with the distraction as you didn’t really see MVP do anything except yell something. I don’t get why McIntyre would be distracted by a manager at ringside yelling. If he got on the ring apron or something, I would be okay with it. Still, this was a very good match and an excellent way to open up Wrestlemania.

The next match of the night was the Women’s Tag Team Turmoil match, with the winner facing the Women’s Tag Team Champions, Shayna Bazler and Nia Jax. At least this wasn’t a glorified battle royale so you can feature all of the other female Superstars who didn’t have a match the night. There were a few clever moments, like how Carmella added some leverage on Billie Kay’s pinfall on Naomi and there were a few tag team moves from the Riott Squad. All in all, though, the action was just good, never great.

The final two teams were The Riott Squad, who had to beat two other teams to get to the finals, against a very fresh Natalya and Tamina. Tamina took out Liv Morgan with a superkick, allowing Tamina and Natalya to connect with a Hart Attack to Ruby Riott. To add insult to injury, Tamina finished off Ruby Riott with a Superfly Splash to get the pinfall victory and book her and Natalya’s ticket to face Shayna Bazler and Nia Jax the next day for the Women’s Tag Team Championship. While not a bad match, this wasn’t something to write home either. A lot of the team, especially Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose, didn’t really make much of an impact, unless you count Mandy Rose slipping on the ramp during their entrance.

The next match was the match I was looking forward to: Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins. I love Cesaro and, despite his matches being overly long at times, Seth Rollins is an excellent in-ring performer and pairing him with the Swiss Cyborg can only produce good things… which this match did. The match was a little bit more methodical than I was expecting as I was hoping for a much faster paced match. There were still some fantastic moments, though. Rollins did his greatest hits, like the superplex into the falcon arrow and Cesaro did a modified airplane spin without using his arms, which looked really cool and silly all at the same time.

The finish came after the aforementioned airplane spin. Cesaro got Rollins into a giant swing and spun him around 23 times without stopping! One Neutralizer later and Cesaro gets his arms raised in victory after the pinfall victory. While not the best match I’ve seen the two in, this was, for the most part, the most gratifying. There’s always been this sense the WWE has been taking Cesaro for granted and seeing the crowd cheer his win at Wrestlemania does feel like it’s earned.

The next match saw The New Day, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, defend their RAW Tag Team Championships against the team of AJ Styles and Omos. I just think the booking for this match was rather strange. While I get the gameplan of isolating AJ Styles and prevent Omos from getting involved in the match, the way the New Day did it made them come off as the heels as they consistently taunted the big Omos while beating down on the Phenomenal One. The match was also oddly one sided for the New Day during the early portion of the match considering the caliber of AJ Styles. You would think Styles would get some better offense but I guess they did this for the benefit of showing what a monster Omos is during the closing moments.

The finish basically came after AJ Styles managed to tag to Omos. Omos just wrecked the New Day and no sold any of the offense done to him. After some time, Styles did a Phenomenal Forearm off the shoulders of Omos to take out Woods. Omos then flattened Kingston with something like a mix of a spinebuster and a powerbomb. Omos then drapes his foot over Kingston to get the pinfall victory, making AJ Style and himself the NEW RAW Tag Team Champions.

The match itself was just okay but having AJ Styles and Omos become the RAW Tag Team Champs wasn’t the purpose for the bout anyways. This was, more than anything, a storytelling match and the story they wanted to tell was how unstoppable Omos is. What better way to do that than making him beat a veteran tag team single-handedly? I can appreciate that but I will say Omos looks a little rough around the edges as some of the moves looked really rough. I do hope he improves much more and doesn’t become this generations Great Khali.

The next match was a Steel Cage match involving Braun Strowman and Shane McMahon. I will say I didn’t like the buildup to this match as the backstory is just insane. Basically, Shane McMahon is bullying the bigger Strowman by calling him dumb. What is this? Third grade? There was some smart booking as the match started with Elias and Jaxson Ryker going after Strowman’s leg, making it plausible for the small Shane to actually win it. Even with the “injury,” this was still a dominant showing for The Monster Among Men. The highlight was, of course, Strowman ripping open the steel cage to drag Shane, who was already halfway down the cage wall, back inside and tossing the Son of the Chairman of the WWE off the top of the cage!

After that, it was academic. Strowman gave a weird speech about how this is for all the bullied people before driving Shane into the mat with a running powerslam for the pinfall victory. It’s kind of hard for me to like this match because of how dissonant the storyline is for me. Additionally, it’s not like Elias and Jaxson Ryker got their comeuppance during the match as well, leaving that loose thread dangling. It’s a ho-hum match and not even Strowman ripping open the cage and dumping Shane from the top can save if from being forgettable.

Miz and Morrison vs. Bad Bunny and Damian Priest was up next. This was the match I was dreading as I wasn’t expecting Bad Bunny to do much and just rely on Damien Priest to do all of the heavy lifting. Well, color me surprised because the opposite happened! If I didn’t know Bad Bunny was a music producer and wasn’t an actual wrestler, I might want him to go for something like the Cruiserweight Championship or something like that! He looked really good but I will have to give kudos to Miz and Morrison for selling at all the right moments.

The finish came after The Miz reversed Priest’s Reckoning finisher into a Skull Crushing Finale. It looked like The Miz was going to get the 3-count but Bad Bunny makes the save at the last second! Morrison tried to take out Bad Bunny but Bunny connects with a Canadian Destroyer on the outside! Priest and Bunny double team The Miz with an electric chair-flying crossbody, allowing Bad Bunny to get the pinfall victory.

This match was much better than it had to be. Bad Bunny did a fantastic job both in offense and actually selling the moves. The Miz and Morrison did great jobs at selling the offense. Oddly enough, it was Damian Priest who didn’t look all that great as most of the attention was on Bad Bunny. Still, it was a really surprisingly good match. Definitely worth a watch.

The final match of Day 1 of Wrestlemania 37 had Sasha Banks defending her Smackdown Women’s Championship against this year’s Women’s Royal Rumble winner, Bianca Belair. I expected this match to be great but I was wrong. This match was awesome! Lots of really good back and forth here, with both Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair switching who would be the dominant person often. There were also a lot of neat storytelling here, like Sasha Banks grabbing onto Bianca Belair long braid and using them in submission attempts. Bianca Belair was awarded the time to show off both her strength and athletic ability as well.

The finish came after The Boss kicked out of Belair’s 450 splash. The EST of the WWE went for her KOD finisher but Banks grabbed the braid again and landed on her feet. Belair wrestles her braid from Banks and nails her with it with a very loud whip-like crack across The Boss’ midsection! Belair went for another KOD but Banks got out of it and went for a backstabber but the move was blocked. Belair managed to get the KOD on Banks to get the 3-count and become your NEW Smackdown Women’s Champion!

This was, for me anyway, the match of the night. A fantastic showing from both Sasha Banks and Bianca Belair. The wrestling was almost perfect; some spots looked really rehearsed but most of them looked fantastic. The finish, with the very audible crack of the braid across Banks’ rib area must have really hurt like hell! You can even see the welt appear on Banks after the match! Great match to close out the show!

It’s easy to recommend Day 1 of Wrestlemania 37. The weakest match was the Steel Cage match with Braun Strowman and Shane McMahon but it wasn’t terrible. Besides, the other matches make up for it wholeheartedly.

Byee!

Have you seen Wrestlemania 37’s Day 1? What did you think of it? Let me know in the comments section below!

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