I’m so glad the WWE split Wrestlemania to have it happen on consecutive days instead of cramming everything into a single, solitary night. Not only do you make The Show of Shows feel much more bigger as one day can’t contain how much wrestling you’re going to get, I don’t feel obliged to spend half of my day on my butt watching it and feeling all exhausted because of how long it is. It also makes it much easier to write about it as I can break down my thoughts about it in individual posts!
There’s still no time to lollygag as, even though I’m just talking about Night One of this year’s Wrestlemania, there’s still a lot to go through. So let’s go talk about what happened at Wrestlemania 38: Night One!
Night One starts off with the Usos defending their Smackdown Tag Team Championships against the team of Shinusuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs. This was a fairly standard match but I don’t think it was supposed to be for reasons which will become apparent later. Nakamura started the match strong but got overwhelmed by the Usos’ offense. Nakamura does manage to get the hot tag to Rick Boogs and he goes on the offensive and displaying some impressive power moves like performing a lunge while holding a suplex. However, this did seem to be his undoing as there was a spot when it looks like he was supposed to carry both Usos on his shoulders but his knee gave out. This basically took Boogs out of the match and Nakamura had to go it alone.
The finish had Nakamura managing to kick out of a big splash. Jey then tried a German suplex but Nakamura blocked it. Jey then pushed Nakamura into his corner and blind tagging his brother. Jimmy then trapped Nakamura by holding onto The Artist’s hair, enabling Jey to nail his foe with a superkick. The Usos then connect with their 1D finisher to retain the Smackdown Tag Team belts.
This might have been a good match but, because of Boogs getting legitimately injured during one of the bigger spots, we’ll never know. You can kind of feel it should’ve went on a little longer as the finish looked rushed. Still, it wasn’t a bad match in the grand scheme of things.
The next match had Drew McIntyre take on Happy Corbin. I honestly wasn’t really looking forward to this match as the feud kinda lost its luster a while back. Anyway, there’s really not much to talk about until we get to the end. There was a spot where Madcap Moss accidentally distracted Happy Corbin, leading to McIntyre regaining the offensive position. Maybe they’ll do something with that on Smackdown? There was also the spot where Drew jumped over the top rope to crash into Happy Corbin and Madcap Moss. That was cool but not really something we haven’t seen before.
Like I said, the most notable thing from this match was the finish. Corbin ducks underneath the Claymore kick and manages to hit the Scottish Warrior with his End of Days finisher… but Drew kicks out! It may not seem like it but Baron Corbin’s End of Days has generally been well-protected and this is the first time anyone’s kicked out of the move!
McIntyre recovers enough to nail Corbin with a Futureshock DDT and then with a Claymore kick to get the pinfall victory. While Drew is celebrating and posing with his sword, Madcap Moss tries to sneak in to blindside the Scottish Warrior. McIntyre spots him and tries to slice him with the sword, Moss dodges the blow but this has McIntyre slicing through the top and middle ropes of the ring with the sword.
The match itself did feel rather inconsequential. However, the ramifications of the finish may have some bearing in the future. Maybe someone kicking out of the End of Days may send Corbin back into a downward spiral? This was a decent match overall but it did feel more like it was setting up for something in the future.
The next match had the Mysterios taking on the team of The Miz and Logan Paul. I really didn’t have high hopes for this as, well, it’s a celebrity match. However, I will say I have been surprised by some of the caliber work celebrities like Bad Bunny have been putting in. There was some creative offense from Dominic, taking out The Miz and Logan Paul with an arm drag-reverse headscissocs combination and a middle rope plancha to the Miz. Logan Paul pulled some impressive heel heat by imitating Eddie Guerrero and performing the Three Amigos suplex and frog splash to Rey. He did get his just desserts as he ate a 619 in stereo.
This did lead to the finish as, while the Mysterios were bouncing off the ropes on the opposite side of the ring, The Miz tagged himself in. The Mysterios then his frog splashes on Logan Paul but, when Rey went for the cover on Logan Paul, The Miz, who was the legal man for his team, slammed Dominik on top of him. One Skull Crushing Finale later on Rey and The Miz and and Logan Paul get their hands raised in victory. It wasn’t exactly over, though, as The Miz backstabbed Logan Paul with a Skull Crushing Finale, leaving Paul confused as to why The A-Lister did that.
As celebrity matches go, this was a fun one. A lot of it does have to do with Logan Paul. While not a stellar wrestler, he definitely pulled his weight, performing some really good looking pro wrestler moves. Like Logan Paul, I’m also confused as to why The Miz would attack him after the match. It’s probably going to lead into the RAW after Wrestlemania but I could’ve done away with it.
The next match had Becky Lynch defending the RAW Women’s Championship against Bianca Belair. Honestly, this was the match I was looking forward to the most this Wrestlemania. This had an appropriate big match feel and, I’m happy to say, I wasn’t disappointed. Lots of really good back and forth as well as great in-ring action and storytelling featuring their history with one another. I could’ve done away with the big Wrestlemania entrances as they did fall flat. Besides the janky start, the action was all good.
The finish came after Lynch ate a KOD on the outside and Belair rolling her into the ring. Big Time Becks rolls to the outside once again with the EST chasing after her. Lynch then drags Belair to the outside by her braid and performs a Manhandle Slam onto the steel steps. Belair manages to get back in the ring at the count of 9 and Lynch goes ballistic. Lynch then goes for another Manhandle Slam but Belair using the turnbuckles to flip out of the move and connect with a KOD in the middle of the ring to get the pinfall, becoming the NEW RAW Women’s Champion!
This was match of the night for me, hands down. Lots of really neat and crazy spots were on display here. The finish was also very dramatic and, while seemingly coming from out of nowhere, it still made sense thanks to how well the in-ring story was being told. Having Belair win for the 2nd consecutive Wrestlemania title win was a good call this time around.
The next match had Seth Rollins take on a mystery opponent… even though the mystery was already out of the bag early on. Everyone knew it was going to be Cody Rhodes as all signs pointed to him. I will have to say I do like the WWE’s commitment on trying to keep this well-known secret under wraps. Even though we all knew who it was going to be, it didn’t deter from the reaction Cody Rhodes got as he ascended that elevator and into Wrestlemania.
The match itself was great but, oddly enough, nothing as fantastic as the previous match. The action started out a little too slow for me as Cody Rhodes kept on using rest holds while he was dominating over Seth Rollins. Things did pick up during the middle as this was when we started getting the more exciting looking spots. I loved how Seth Rollins actually targeted Cody Rhodes midsection and focused on it throughout. Seth Rollins also hit a wicked reverse superplex into reverse falcon arrow. That looked wicked cool!
The finish came after Cody Rhodes kicked out of a Pedigree. The two then slug it out and the Visionary get the upper hand against the American Nightmare with a brutal elbow to the back of Cody’s neck. Rollins set up for the Curb Stomp but Rhodes snatched him before he could run and nailed a couple of Cross Rhodes neckbreakers. Cody then set up for a third but stopped and decided to pay homage to his old man with some stiff jabs and a bionic elbow. Cody then nailed one more Cross Rhodes to get the pinfall victory.
Like I said, this was good but took some time to get going. There were a couple of botches as Cody could not get enough lift to get into a bridging position. However, these feel like nitpicks but I don’t think I would’ve noticed them if I were more into the match. Not exactly a 5-star match but close enough.
The last official match of the night had Charlotte Flair defending the Smackdown Women’s Championship against Ronda Rousey. Although this is for a championship, I simply wasn’t all that excited for this because, well, I just don’t like the paring of the two. I’m fine with Charlotte playing the heel but I just don’t but Rousey as a face. She might be a decent person in real life but her in-ring wrestling persona doesn’t come off as a good person. Maybe that’s why I just couldn’t get into the match itself. It was hard hitting and action packed, sure. However, it did feel somewhat lifeless and, well, like professional wrestling. You could tell some of the moves were fake, once again taking me out of the moment. This is especially true for Ronda’s strikes. They don’t look like their making any contact to Charlotte!
The finish was like the last time Ronda Rousey made it to Wrestlemania: a screwjob. Charlotte went for a Figure Eight but Rousey kicked The Queen into the official, knocking him out. Rousey then locked in an armbar and Charlotte started tapping out but, since referee was out of commission, the submission wasn’t called. Rousey then revived the official only for Charlotte to cream her with a big boot. Charlotte goes for the pin to retain her Smackdown Women’s Championship.
Honestly, I’m glad Rousey didn’t win and Charlotte retained as it was a surprise to me. Even with that, though, I just couldn’t get into what was happening in the ring because of my personal bias against the competitors. It was good match on paper but I could tell I was more critical over the flubs here.
We then get to the weirdest Wrestlemania main event ever: a supposed talk show. Yes, the WWE decided to close out Night One of Wrestlemania 38 with the Kevin Owens Show. Then again, they did have good reasons to do so as the person being interviewed was one “Stone Cold” Steve Austin from Texas and… it wasn’t completely just an interview portion. Eventually, Kevin Owens challenged “Stone Cold” Steve Austin to a No Holds Barred match and Austin obliged! Kevin Owens took most of the nasty bumps, like getting thrown through a table and eating a couple of suplexed on the top of the ramp. Owens did get some stunning offense (pun intended) as he actually suplexed Steve Austin onto the concrete floor while they were brawling outside!
The finish came after “Stone Cold” Steve Austin tried picking up Owens but KO countered with a stunner of his own! Austin managed to kick out so Owens went for a chair and swung at “Stone Cold” Steve Austin’s head. Austin ducks the move and the chair bounces off the top rope and smacking Owens in the head. One Stone Cold Stunner from Austin later and we have the Texas Rattlesnake’s hard raised for this impromptu No Holds Barred match. We get the usual Steve Austin antics, such as delivering another Stone Cold Stunner to KO just for the heck of it. Byron Saxton then climbs into the ring to get a brewsky with Austin. He does but he also gets a healthy helping of Stone Cold Stunner to chase it down.
This was not an excellent match by any stretch of the imagination. Austin just couldn’t do his more intense moves like the double bird elbow drop or the Lou Thesz Press so making it a No Holds Barred made it possible to his to keep up the offense. While not the best wrestling match out there, it made up for it through pure fun and nostalgia. It was great seeing “Stone Cold” beating up and stunning people again like it was 20 years ago. Great way to close out Night One.
I will say Wrestlemania 38’s Night One really surprised me. I was expecting some matches, like the Drew McIntyre vs. Happy Corbin match and the Mysterios vs. The Miz and Logan Paul to be slogs. They were decent and fun matches, to my surprise. I also was surprised to see “Stone Cold” in a match long after his retirement. We all knew Cody Rhodes was going to be Seth Rollin’s surprise opponent but it was still great to see him in the WWE again. I hope they can maintain the momentum going into Night Two.
What did you think of Wrestlemania 38’s Night One? Let me know in the comments section below.