WrestleMania 38 – Saturday
April 2, 2022
MEET OUR REVIEWERS
Jeri Evagood: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a wrestling reviewer in possession with torturing themselves must be in want of reviewing WrestleMania 38 Night 1.” Okay, that’s not how the line actually goes, but for the magic writing girl that’s how she feels. She doesn’t have high hopes for this card, but is hoping for something to surprise her and leap over her low bar of expectations. She can be found on twitter at @TheJerriest_Jer giving lukewarm takes, bad BDSM jokes, being cute, and in general just being a nuisance. Trans Rights Are Human Rights.
Steve Case: This reviewer hasn’t missed a WrestleMania live since XIV. He’s not about you now! Regardless of how unwatchable this company can be, he’ll always turn up early in the spring for what once was known as the “Showcase of the Immortals.” Follow Steve on Twitter @Coachcase44 for reasons no one can really understand.
Joey O’Doherty: Regardless of how bad WWE gets, and boy has it been bad lately, Joey never misses a Mania. Joey is the host of Wild Thing – The Jon Moxley career review podcast (Which can be found at @MoxPodcast on Twitter) and shall be watching the most stupendous Mania ever with his young daughter.
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Championship
The Usos (Jimmy & Jey Uso) © def. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs
Jeri: Rick Boogs unfortunately seemed to get injured during a double fireman’s carry spot. Which is a shame cause he was in an otherwise decent hot tag up until that moment. Makes it hard for me to properly rate this match as things were going alright and according to plan up until that moment. There was motivation and solid if not special work throughout. I’m going to be nice though and not give a full rating due to the unfortunate injury to Boogs. What an unfortunate moment for him. The Usos continue to work well as a tag team, and Nakamura had a little more fire in him than usual, which isn’t saying much these days. An ominous start to two days of this “STUPENDOUS” Mania. N/R
Steve: This was a RAW match that went sideways when Boogs tried to Samoan Drop both Usos until his knee gave out. It looked really bad. You have to feel for the for who I once new as Bugenhagen. He did get to play guitar in front of half as many people as his less juiced doppelganger Freddie Mercury did at Live Aid, but who knows how this injury might derail his “character who might not even get a credit in a movie” position in the company. The Usos won, stole Biff’s gimmick, and Nakamura was sad for his lead guitarist. **
Joey: After a lame video package that pales in comparison to those of 2 decades ago and a cheer routine that had me speculating if a Tony Stark run-in was on the cards, we get this heatless tag match. Michael Cole mentions it’s his 26th Mania and I die a little inside. Pat McAfee’s performance during Nakamura’s entrance is enough for my daughter to roll her eyes. She is 7. The match was not bad, but nothing worth bragging about either. Not sure if Boogs got legitimately injured or if it was a planned spot, but it killed the momentum of the match. **
Drew McIntyre def. Happy Corbin (w/ Madcap Moss)
Jeri: Drew comes out with his sword Angela and Corbin comes out with Madcap Moss. Madcap Moss has jokes, but Angela usually has a point. . . . you’re right. . . My jokes aren’t any better. This match sucked hard enough to force an entire Cookout Milkshake through the flimsiest of straws without the assistance of a spoon. Has a Happy Corbin performance ever made anyone Happy? Drew should’ve run roughshod over him and be done with it. Nothing worthwhile, fun, important, significant, interesting, entertaining can I point out in this match. McIntyre knocked the ring ropes off with his sword at the end of the match to scare Moss and….. That was…. Sure was something that happened. Who cares? *3/4
Steve: Not only does his look remind me of Wayne Knight in Jurassic Park, but Baron Corbin’s movement is so unnatural. It’s like his arms can’t move away from his sides. I once thought Drew was THE guy. If he was what he is now back when he had his first run, when this was still somewhat of a pro wrestling company still, he’d probably be up there with the upper echelon guys. Now he’s in a content machine carrying a sword. This had a little bit of build but was ultimately another RAW match. Drew worked hard, but the ceiling for Corbin matches is quite low. Drew hit a Claymore for the win, then cut the ropes to make this bloated show more bloated. **½
Joey: Has anyone ever looked forward to a match involving Happy Corbin? I enjoyed Corbin’s shirt and that’s it. This match had a house show feel to it and it was a waste of everyone’s time. *¼
The Miz & Logan Paul def. The Mysterios (Rey & Dominik Mysterio)
Jeri: The biggest question I had going into this was, who would have the better performance? Dominik or Logan Paul? The answer was clearly Logan Paul. Say what you want about Logan (AND YOU CAN SAY A LOT, A LOT) he clearly understood the assignment, took it seriously, and came off great. This match was actually mostly entertaining, and Dominik didn’t drag it down nearly as much as I was worried. Rey and Miz anchored things, and you know what, I actually liked this. Screw it, I had a lot of fun with this match and think it came off as well as it possibly could. Miz would Skull Crushing Finale Logan Paul after the match because… he’s a heel I guess? Be that as it may, this was the first thing from this Mania I didn’t hate. That’s a victory. Logan Paul’s three amigos heel spot was absolutely awesome by the way. ***1/4
Steve: If Dominik’s name was Frank Jones and his father was a carpet cleaner from Queens, he would have a hard time getting good indy bookings. He looks low effort, he moves in slow motion, and he’s very clunky in the ring. I know nothing of the boxing Paul brothers, let alone the difference between the two. But Logan at least looks like a pro wrestler and has a star presence. Thank God Rey can still bring energy to matches and Miz does well in these celebrity matches being reliable and holding things together. After Miz and Rey injected life back into this, Logan Paul looked better than Dominik and 90% of NXT 2.0 getting terrific heat doing the three amigos and hitting a very good frog splash. Once they got Dominik out of the way, this got rather fun. Miz and Paul won, but then Miz turned on Paul? I’m sure I’ll hear about the brilliant storytelling later (I won’t listen). ***1/4
Joey: While Rey states that wrestling with his oaf of a son is a dream come through, it’s sadly a nightmare for anyone watching WWE programming. Maybe it was the low expectations, or maybe the fact that the previous match sucked so bad that anything was an improvement, but this match wasn’t bad at all. Karate Kid’s Johnny Lawrence, I mean Logan Paul was brilliant. He is a natural heel and he played his part to perfection. From his 3 amigos to his frog splash, this guy was set up to succeed. Even young Dom was unusually competent. I liked this. ***¼
WWE RAW Women’s Championship
Bianca Belair def. Becky Lynch ©
Jeri: This was excellent, a legit WrestleMania big time match and perhaps Bekcy Lynch’s best match in a long while with a great performance only matched if not surpassed by the performance of Bianca Belair who one again proves she’s an absolute star and blew the rest of the show so far out of the water. This ruled. It was intense, they wrestled as if there were high stakes (because they was) and they legitimately were able to build drama and tension throughout the match. Both competitors should be applauded for the efforts put forth in this match. There were some rough bits here and there but even those gave way and are nearly forgotten due to the excellent work put forth. The end of Bianca flipping out of the manhandle Slam and transitioning to her finisher was fantastic. I am so glad I watched this. This makes me glad I turned in tonight, this was incredible. Watch this, watch ALL…OF….THIS. Please don’t screw up Belair’s reign a second time. ****1/2
Steve: The opening sequence with the callback to the SummerSlam match was terrific in match storytelling and really set the tone for the first match that actually felt like a WrestleMania match! There were a couple moments where it looked like it could fall apart, but they held the match together. There were a lot of stiff moments, including Becky trying to play Morishima to Bianca’s Danielson, and there was some real drama down the stretch. We got the correct result with Bianca pinning Becky with the KOD in the middle. Becky was rock solid here, but this was the Bianca show. When she’s on a roll, there might not be a brighter star. But can they keep that star bright, and not fizzle it out like before? I will give it until June. ****
Joey: The first match that isn’t completely meaningless sees the woefully miscast Becky Lynch takes on perhaps WWE’s most natural star, Bianca Belair. WWE ruined Bianca’s entrance by having commentary unnecessarily explain it. Fuck off WWE! But what a match. Bianca is an undeniable star and probably the best women’s wrestler in North America today. Becky, despite a slow start, played her part as both women worked their asses off. Both women worked with an intensity and believability that very few women have shown in modern times. Their strikes looked legitimate, their tempo was high and the set pieces looked smooth for most part. Any sloppiness can easily be overlooked as this was an excellent bout bell to bell. Becky and Bianca’s best matches to date. ****½.
Cody Rhodes def. Seth Rollins
Jeri: The moment of Cody Rhodes coming down with his full entrance gear, over the top pyro was all well done and excellent. It felt like a big deal and the crowd responded and treated it as such. Kudos all around to that. The match didn’t work out in the first moments, but as it went on it got better, more in sync, and clicked more and I found it transforming into something that was enjoyable once it was all finished. In fact, I thought they were able to mold it into something great. I have no clue how Cody Rhodes is going to work out in WWE, but this was as good of a start as he could be promised. Seth Rollins seemed motivated, and while it took a bit for the match to get going, he ended up holding his end of the bargain quite well, even if I still find his character infuriatingly channel changing obnoxious. The past several matches (and Cody Rhodes return in general) has really helped this Mania out big time. Cody Rhodes has cashed in his chips, time will tell, time will tell. ****1/4
Steve: Cody did what HHH and Shane couldn’t, branch out on his own and have success out from under father’s arm. That was a helluva re-introduction and reaction for Cody Rhodes. It’s surreal to see, and you either have to think it’s funny that he’s eating his words from the last 6-7 years, or you admire this WORKER.
After the pomp and circumstance settled, a professional wrestling match broke out, and wouldn’t you know? It was really good! I can’t stand WWE either, but this came off great and made Cody look like a major player, at least for tonight. This had some great back and forth action, had a really good pace, and was the most professional wrestling you’ll see on most WWE shows. Cody looked incredibly excited, and except for the few times he opened his annoying mouth, Seth was great here as well. Cody caught fire at the end, spamming his Crossroads finish, while mixing in his father’s bionic elbow. A memorable WrestleMania moment and a terrific match. What comes next? I may not be watching, but I’ll be paying attention, at least for a little while. ****1/4
Joey: Seeing Cody come down the aisle to his Downstait theme was surreal and sure was a cool moment. Cody looked every bit of a star he did in AEW. But then the bell rang. The match was clunky, awkward and both men just didn’t click for me. The match wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it certainly didn’t live up to the hype. Both Seth and Cody have had much better matches and while this was a cool moment for Cody, overall the match is nothing to seek out despite the hot crowd. ***¼.
WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship
Charlotte Flair © def. Ronda Rousey
Jeri: Screw everything about this match. Screw the Charlotte accidentally spears Robinson spot that leads to Ronda not being able to tap Charlotte out which in turn leads to Charlotte getting the pin, screw that they are both unlikable, uninteresting, and unlikable. (Unlikable is said twice because they are really unlikable) Did they work hard? Yes, I’ll give them that, but it leads nowhere and accomplishes nothing. It got to the point it felt like things were just taking time, going long for the sake of long, and started to slog along at times. Crowd for the most part seemed nowhere near as hyped for this as you would’ve wanted. Nothing about this made me think this match had any merit or worthwhile moments. It was just a bad match. A match where both competitors worked hard, but still a bad match. Nothing clicked, nothing inspired, nothing succeeded in getting you into the match as it went along. They just couldn’t help but give Charlotte the big ONE ON ONE victory over Rousey (even with shenanigans) because Charlotte gets EVER…FUCKING…ACCOLADE. This was awful, and brought things down after Mania had been on quite the successful streak of good/great matches the previous few outings. Just a flat out failure. *1/4
Steve: This was a very weird match. It started very awkwardly, as these two looked lost and don’t have good chemistry at all. The middle they were working hard enough to begin to make it interesting. But the end it fell off a cliff. Lil’ Naitch messing up the count was really bad. Then we got a ref bump so Ronda could get the visual tap. But Charlotte still puts a boot to Rhonda’s face to pin her twice in one match. Would have loved to hear the pre-match politicking in this one. I can’t imagine Rhonda is happy with how this went down. I don’t hate Charlotte like many do. In fact, I think she’s quite good. This match wasn’t a good representation of that. **1/4
Joey: An utterly boring match despite both women working hard. WWE gave me no reason to really care and I’m not invested in either Flair or Rousey in the slightest. Both presented as totally unlikeable humans and judging by the crowd, I wasn’t alone in my opinion. At one point I was starting to finally get into the match a little, then came a convoluted ref bump and an even worse finish. In short, this was a sloppy, uninteresting match with a woeful ending. *¾.
The New Day (Kofi Kingston & Xavier Woods) vs. Sheamus & Ridge Holland (w/ Butch) ended in a cut for time limit draw
JerI: Time Restraints gets a big win at WrestleMania. Good for them. ***1/4
Steve: BUTCH *******
Joey: Was this cut? Fucking WWE and their million ads and video packages. If you didn’t know it already, WWE don’t view The New Day as stars. Remember Kofi Mania? Creative doesn’t. That said, it’s probably best that this show doesn’t suffer watching Ridge Holland fumble around a ring like the second coming of Mason Ryan.
No Holds Barred Match: Steve Austin def. Kevin Owens
Jeri: The KO Show was nothing more than a cover as Kevin Owens wanted a match with Austin, and you damn believe we got the match. Holy hell, Austin is main eventing WrestleMania one final time. I didn’t believe it until the bell actually rang. Needless to say Austin has lost a step or two, or three, or four, but the crowd is all for him so it doesn’t matter, and Owens bumps like a mad man for him. Kevin Owens isn’t the star of this match but he’s the unsung hero, doing all he can to make Austin come off as the Steve Austin of old, he deserves a shit ton of credit for that. This ends up being fun. It’s not a great match from a workrate standpoint, but it’s a match made good by the crowd lifting it up, and the heavy heavy lifting of Kevin Owens. There’s a lot of complaints I can be making about this match when it comes to relying on nostalgia too heavily, and the legend going over, but on this night I”ll leave it be. This was as successful as it could be. A surprise to be sure, but a worthwhile surprise that ended up being a worthwhile ending to night 1 of WrestleMania. ***½
Steve: Look, I enjoy Kevin Owens. He’s probably stoked about main-eventing WrestleMania with Steve Austin. But I have always and always will HATE talk show segments in wrestling. Even the good one’s people loved, I’ve dispised. I’ve always hated the idea of a talk show on a wrestling show. Just cut a promo or, I don’t know, have a match. Hearing a rule honest to goodness mega pop was nice for a change. They talked for what seemed like forever, then they both agreed to a match. As soon as the bell rang, my six-month-old son shit his pants. That’s about as big a whoa as there can be.
As for the match, it was a basic walk and brawl, which is about what you should expect from Austin. But with a few Steveweisers and Owens working and bumping his ass off, it worked. Roughly 70,000 fans eating it all up definitely helped. This was very much like Rock vs. Hogan at WrestleMania X8 with the crowd lifting the match higher than the work can. I don’t think it was quite as good as that was, plus the legend went over the young “star.” Overall, this was a fun bit of nostalgia. ***1/2
Joey: Nothing says modern day WWE more than having a Monday Night Raw talk show segment go on last at the biggest show of the year. While Austin certainly got an amazing reaction, one that he thoroughly deserves, it’s pretty sad that 1998’s main event star is being dug up for a main event spot in 2022. The kayfabe eyerolls of Owens really matched my feelings. Listen, I’m sure Owens and Austin had a blast and both got paid handsomely, so I won’t knock them, but it’s a sorry state of affairs. AEW routinely gets asked what will happen when they run out of debut pops, but what will WWE do when they run out of Attitude era legends?
The impromptu match that followed the predictable KO Show was better than expected. Owens bumped like a boss for Austin, while Stone Cold surprisingly took a few bumps. Austin played his greatest hits (drink beer, crowd brawling and mudhole stomping) and ate a stunner before nailing KO with an original stunner of his own. Owens made 57 year old Stone Cold look like a million bucks and deserves all the credit here. It didn’t feel like a worthy main event but it was fine for what it was. A fun nostalgia match. ***
Jeri: I had way more fun than I expected I would. My low bar was surpassed. Strong matches by Belair/Lynch, Cody/Rollins and a fun end of the night with Owen/Austins made this a success to me, at least more than I thought it would be.
Steve: I hate on WWE as much as the rest of non-pilled fans, but this was a pretty fun show. Becky/Bianca and Cody/Seth, with all the anticipation and crowd reaction surrounding Cody’s return really carried this through the usual mid-show lull. Austin returning for one last (hopefully) match was about the only way you could end this show. If you weren’t smiling through that whole main event match and post-match, I don’t know why you watch this stuff. This show did nothing to flip my opinion on the product, but with Cody in the mix now, I will have to at least pay attention. This show set a high bar for the Sunday Electric Boogaloo show to clear. I have my doubts it will, but I’m willing to be surprised.
Joey: A show that overdelivered on my extremely low expectations. High points included Becky v Bianca and Cody’s return, as well as the nostalgia heavy main event. Cody v Seth was fine and Logan Paul excelled in his role as dirtbag heel. Ronda v Charlotte was a wet fart, as was Drew and Happy Corbin. Overall it was enjoyable but typically WWE.