Wrestlemania 38 Night One Review

Wrestlemania 38 kicked off with night one in Dallas, Texas and while the results of night two will be the ultimate determination, it certainly seemed on paper ahead of the pay-per-view that night one was the “B-show” of the weekend. Granted, the entire promotion is built around either Roman Reigns or Brock Lesnar so by nature anything else, including night one, will be secondary, but there might be a much closer comparison between the two nights.

I’m not sure who the country fellows were that sang the national anthem and following their performance, I doubt I will ever want to listen to another of their songs, but thankfully, Kid Rock wasn’t on stage.

The broadcast itself kicked off with a very well-done video package and while it’s become a staple of major shows, it can’t be understated of important these state-of-the-art productions are to the overall presentation of the event. On the other end of the spectrum, I get why the Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders would be there because of the venue, but when there’s roughly six hours of wrestling for this event, can we skip the unnecessary cameos?

The opening match was the Smackdown tag title match, and it was more or less what you’d expect from this contest. It was a solid match that doesn’t matter in the grand scheme or things and will be forgotten by the time night two goes off the air. Rick Boggs has a gimmick that you have to walk a fine line between entertaining or cringe worthy, but he makes it work. Shinsuke Nakamura still seems somewhat out of place in a mid-card tag team sometimes, considering there was the potential for him to have a much bigger role a few years ago, but when it was clear that management wasn’t going to run with him, it made sense for him to settle into the role and make good money for it. Boggs looked to have suffered a legitimate knee injury mid-match and it definitely didn’t look good so maybe that’s why the match only went six minutes. Micheal Cole confirmed later in the show that Boggs suffered a torn quad so he will be on the sidelines for several months. Either way, WWE management has told the audience for so long that tag team wrestling doesn’t matter so the vast majority of tag matches are cannon fodder. The Usos are a stellar team, but as mentioned the push for the tag division is minimal so it’s almost a big fish in a small pond type of scenario.

Drew McIntyre beat Happy Corbin in roughly eight minutes, and despite a solid performance from everyone involved, this is another bout that will be forgotten by the team night two goes off the air. Don’t get me wrong, Drew is an excellent professional wrestler, but as The Undertaker said during his extended motivational speech at the Hall of Fame, perception is reality. When a wrestler is in the second match on the card against a comedy heel, the perception is that he’s a mid-carder, which doesn’t accurately describe McIntyre’s ability, but makes a statement about his current status within the company. It’s still puzzling how Drew went from the main event picture to a mid-card comedy feud.

I’m not going to discuss any Wrestlemania match that involves Logan Paul. Next.

This is where the card started to pick up, particularly with the elaborate entrance that actually enhanced the presentation of the contest, instead of a fancy introduction just because the name of the show is Wrestlemania. Bianca and Becky worked this match like a main event and the crowd was invested in the back and fourth action as the narrative unfolded. These two female competitors are legitimate stars and performances like this solidify it. Bianca won the title and has a fresh chance to make it to the next level in the company. Unfortunately, considering the flat stint that Bianca had with the championship last year, I don’t have much faith that the writing team will do a better job with her reign this time around until it’s proven otherwise. Thankfully, Bianca has all the skills to be a major asset to the company, she just has to be put in the right scenarios to capitalize on it.

The return of Cody Rhodes was absolutely brilliant and it was undoubtedly a Wrestlemania moment, specially with the entrance that presented him as a major star. The match delivered and was further proof that despite the silly booking during the past few years, Seth Rollins is one of the best performers in the company. There was a back and fourth drama that had the audience following the action, and it had a big time atmosphere around it. Cody getting the win was really the only logical finish and it creates an intrigue going forward about what he will do next in the organization. This is another example of why competition is so important to the industry because the option of All Elite is what made Cody a much bigger star for his return to the WWE.

Charlotte Flair vs. Ronda Rousey was okay at best, and the lack of reaction to the former UFC fighter was a combination of its place on the card and the fact that she’s not nearly as big of a star now as she was when she originally debuted in the company. The match had its sloppy moments and considering that Rousey had a previous tenure in the ring, inexperience can’t necessarily be given as the excuse for it. Ronda was brought in to take a top spot on the card again, despite that she criticized the fan base after her prior stint so it’s possible the fans base soured on her. The ref bump was designed to protect Rousey when she was pinned, but all things considered, I’m not sure there’s a lot of demand for more Ronda Rousey storylines in the company.

I said earlier that Cody returned to the WWE as a bigger star because of the existence of AEW, and that might also be the reason that Stone Cold working an actual match against Kevin Owens was kept a surprise. All Elite Wrestling has booked several surprises in recent months, including the debuts of some major WWE stars so as somewhat of a response, WWE brass booked the surprise of the biggest star in the history of the business with a comeback match. To be honest, when the segment started and a match was mentioned, I assumed that it would be a two-minute brawl with a stunner and the bell ringing would be the only aspect that made it a match. However, you have to give credit to Stone Cold Steve Austin, he looked in great shape and he worked a match nearly two decades after he hung up the boots. Yes, there were times that Austin showed his age with some of the movement, but quite frankly, it didn’t matter because Kevin Owens made him look like a million dollars and the entertainment value was there. The audience didn’t get a prime Stone Cold, but they got enough of the authentic performance that it was a very successful performance that had to exceed what anyone would’ve expected when rumors of the match surfaced online a few months ago. The suplex on the concrete was brutal and it was proof that Austin wasn’t going to mail-in a match just to say he did an official retirement bout. Kevin Owens might’ve been lost in the shuffle at various points in his WWE stint, but this contest shows why he’s a top-notch competitor and why management paid him big money to re-sign with the promotion a few months ago. I have to be honest, I didn’t expect much for this show, mostly because the past few years of Wrestlemania have been rather underwhelming and I’m still not a fan of the two-night format, but this was a very entertaining pay-per-view.

What do you think? Comment below with your thoughts, opinions, feedback and anything else that was raised.

Until next week
-Jim LaMotta

E mail drwrestlingallpro@yahoo.com | You can follow me on Twitter @jimlamotta