WWE WRESTLEMANIA GOES HOLLYWOOD SUNDAY
APRIL 2ND, 2023
Meet your reviewers
Suit Williams: The WWE correspondent for VOW is here for what could be the end of an era for the WWE. Not only with the significance of the main event World Title match, but with credible rumors swirling around the possibly completed sale of WWE from Vince McMahon to Endeavor. After 70 years and three generations of McMahon at the helm – Jess, Vince Sr., & Vince Jr. – this may be the final WWE show produced under the ownership of Vince McMahon. Historical significance is the name of the game, and we’re here to cover it at Voices of Wrestling. You can check out more of my work here on Voices of Wrestling, including my review of yesterday’s NXT Stand and Deliver and WrestleMania Saturday. You can also find me as the Ring of Honor correspondent for the Wrestling Observer website, and on Twitter @SuitWilliams.
Sean Sedor: Well, since yesterday’s review of the first night of WrestleMania 39, I watched a lengthy (and strange) Formula 1 race that went from 1:00 AM Eastern to about 3:45 AM, a thrilling IndyCar race in Texas, and a fun NASCAR Cup Series race in Richmond. Time to do this WrestleMania stuff all over again. You can find me on Twitter @SASedor2994. If you’re interested in some of my other escapades, you can watch me play the Formula 1 games on YouTube (just search my name), and you can also go to the Be The Booker forums if you’d like to check out my EWR Diary, where I play as WCW (started in 1998, currently in the Autumn of 2001).
Brady Trappett: After a long weekend of wrestling and a short break Sunday, I’m ready to finish off the weekend with WrestleMania Sunday. If you like my work you can catch more of it here on Voices of Wrestling, and if you want to see my opinion more, then you can follow me @BradyHasTakes.
BROCK LESNAR def. OMOS (W/MVP)
Suit: BORK SMASH ***
Sean: An interesting choice to start off the show. Lesnar tries to take down Omos, but Omos just tosses him to the side. Omos dominated Lesnar for the first few minutes until Brock finally found an opening and connected with a series of German Suplexes. An initial F5 attempt doesn’t work, but the second attempt was successful, and Brock is able to pick up the win. This was a very fascinating match as Lesnar basically worked as the underdog babyface before hitting just two moves on Omos (literally, the only moves Brock connected with in the match were the three German Suplexes and the F5) to put him away. The fact that this wasn’t very long either was certainly a plus. A perfectly fine match for what it was. ***
Brady: This was exactly what you would expect. A quick trip to Suplex City. I hear it’s lovely there this time of year. Brock was working as the plucky underdog here, which was interesting to see even if it was only for a short time. Brock wins with an impressive F5. If you listen closely, you can hear Brock counting his stack of money for an easy night’s work. ***
WRESTLEMANIA SHOWCASE FATAL FOUR WAY TAG TEAM MATCH
RONDA ROUSEY & SHAYNA BASZLER def. NATALYA & SHOTZI, CHELSEA GREEN & SONYA DEVILLE, LIV MORGAN & RAQUEL RODRIGUEZ
Suit: This was a fatal four way tag match that saw Ronda Rousey submit Shotzi after 11 minutes of heatless action. I couldn’t think of anything more to say if I wanted to. *1/2
Sean: So much like last night’s show, we’re getting the Four-Way Tag Team Match second on the card. Ronda and Shayna came out wearing white and red gi’s (I’m sure that’s a reference to Ryu and Ken from Street Fighter). The first big spot of the match saw Shayna eat a triple powerbomb. This would set up a series of dives that would culminate with Raquel sending her partner Liv onto the pile on the floor with a powerbomb. These women are doing spot after spot and most of the crowd just does not care at all. Eventually, Ronda and Shayna finally got involved, with the latter missing one of her shoes along with having a noticeable limp. Ronda then locks in a submission on Shotzi, who taps out. I guess the way to get around Ronda’s injury was just to have her get the winning submission without having her take a single solitary bump. This was not very good, and the majority of the crowd did not care. Not much else to say about this one. It stunk. *
Brady: In the interest of symmetry, we had another four team tag showcase for match two. Nothing much of note here. The structure was similar to the match last night, but to less success. Crowd didn’t care much for this one and barely got up for the high spots. Rousey submits Shotzi for the win. *1/2
WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE TRIPLE THREAT MATCH
GUNTHER (C) def. DREW MCINTYRE & SHEAMUS
Suit: Some people try really hard to innovate in pro wrestling. They try to re-invent the wheel and do something that has never been done before in an attempt to impress the audience. But some things in wrestling are timeless. One of those things is big men hitting each other really, really hard. That’s what was delivered here. This was an absolute war of attrition that drove this crowd wild. The sentimental favorite here was Sheamus, who has been fighting for this title since the classic match against Gunther at Clash at the Castle. There were two points where he had the title won, but the other man in the match broke up the pin. The second time was with a Gunther splash onto both McIntyre and Sheamus which allowed Gunther to things away with powerbombs onto both men. An absolute battle from start to finish, and one of the best matches of WrestleMania Weekend. ****1/4
Sean: Titus O’Neil is on commentary again….for some reason. Gunther tried to get Drew McIntyre and Sheamus to fight each other, but Drew kicked Gunther straight away. We got a brief exchange between Drew and Sheamus before Gunther took control by just chopping the crap out of both of them. The middle portion of the match just featured all three men absolutely bludgeoning each other’s chests, which rocked. Once the chops were done, we got a number of close nearfalls and submission attempts with all three men coming close to winning. Gunther disappeared for a bit and it became an absolute slugfest between Drew and Sheamus. It appeared that Sheamus had the match won with the Brogue Kick, but then Gunther came flying in from out of nowhere with a top rope splash. Powerbombed Sheamus onto Drew, then he powerbombed Drew, and that was it. Gunther retains in what was an awesome triple threat match. Having Titus O’Neil on commentary was a tad annoying at points, but the action in the match itself more than made up for it. These three just beat the crap out of each other, and the crowd loved it. For my money, this was comfortably better than anything on last night’s show. I guess the fact that Gunther pinned Drew here leaves the door open for Sheamus to wrestle Gunther again, and perhaps that will be the match where Sheamus finally gets that long-awaited Intercontinental Title win. This kicked a ton of ass, and if you didn’t watch either WrestleMania show, it’s a bout definitely worth seeking out. ****1/2
Brady: Hey look, another sponsorship. No clips of Gunther drinking Mike’s Harder Lemonade in the ad though, so much for the perks of being a champion. This is a triple threat match, so one of the participants had to exit the ring immediately. These guys got in there and just beat the hell out of each other with every strike you can think of. Everyone got their shine and got all their stuff in with a hot crowd loving every second. Even the triple threat spots that can come off contrived hit here. This approached the line of having too many kickouts for me, but just avoided crossing it. Gunther retains his Intercontinental title. Beautiful violence. ****3/4
WWE RAW WOMEN’S TITLE MATCH
BIANCA BELAIR (C) def. ASUKA
Suit: The finish for this match was excellent, with Bianca avoiding the poison mist and escaping the armbar to pull off the win. The rest of this match was well-worked, but it was missing something. The crowd was tired from the previous match, but this match wasn’t built very well to begin with. There was a juice missing from the first ten minutes of this one that kept this match from reaching great territory. Bianca retaining is a surprising result, as she’s been the Women’s Champion since last year’s WrestleMania and has beaten almost everyone of note in the company. I don’t know who’s next, but Bianca rules, so I’ll live with it. Also, Bianca’s entrance with the Divas of Compton dance troupe was adorable. ***1/2
Sean: Asuka’s entrance features a number of dancers dressed as her, while Bianca’s entrance featured a performance from a local group of young female dancers (missed the name of their group). The action started pretty quickly, and Bianca got an early nearfall with a spinebuster, which was followed by a submission attempt from Asuka. They spilled out onto the floor and Bianca just dropped Asuka with a sit-out powerbomb. Bianca continued to show off her power shortly thereafter with a deadlift superplex. There was a really nice sequence at the end of the match where Bianca avoided Asuka’s mist, and tried for the KOD, but Asuka countered and locked in an armbar. Bianca then powered out of it and successfully hit the KOD to retain her title. This was really good, though I wouldn’t call it great. Maybe it’s just me (or how it came off to me), but Bianca seemed to dominate this one. Asuka got her spots in and had her moments for sure. On the whole though, it just seemed as though Bianca was in firm control for the majority of the bout, and was just outright better than Asuka. Not a terrible story, especially if the idea was to put Bianca over strong. I guess I was just expecting something a little more competitive given who was involved. Again….not great….but still very solid. ***3/4
Brady: Both women worked hard here and with the tough task of following last night’s Women’s Championship match, they decided to work at a faster pace than the deliberate style at the start of last night’s match. Bianca was in control for most of this, hitting a sit out powerbomb to the floor outside. Good pace to this one and a good finishing sequence, but it didn’t feel like Asuka was close to winning this at any point which hurt it. ***3/4
SHANE MCMAHON VS. THE MIZ, SNOOP DOGG WINS
Suit: Like father, like son. As rumors swirl about the sale of WWE, the one-time heir apparent Shane McMahon got the call to get a nice WrestleMania moment and win a match at WrestleMania. And like the failson he is, he blew out his knee on a leapfrog 20 seconds into the impromptu match with the Miz. Snoop Dogg sees this, calls an audible, and knocks out the Miz with a punch. A People’s Elbow scored Snoop Dogg the win in a match he was not in. The funniest comedy segment I’ve ever seen at a Wrestlemania, and I don’t think this was meant to be comedy. I cried genuine tears at Snoop asking Shane, “you alright, cuz?” I’m lightheaded, oh my goodness.
Sean: So this whole thing was freaking weird. It started out as a replay of last night, where Snoop Dogg brings out someone to wrestle The Miz, who’s obviously not dressed to wrestle a match. The surprise turns out to be SHANE MCMAHON of all people. He cuts a brief promo, and the Shane McMahon/Miz match (a rematch from WrestleMania 35) gets underway. Shane tried for a leapfrog and immediately tore his knee. They then pivoted to Snoop Dogg vs. The Miz, with Snoop punching Miz a couple of times before hitting his own version of the People’s Elbow. I have to say….for this clearly being an on-the-fly deal with Shane getting hurt, Snoop Dogg did a VERY good job. A total pro. I guess Shane coming out and immediately tearing his knee up was a tribute to his father’s appearance at the 2005 Royal Rumble. Like father, like son I guess. N/R
Brady: This started as the Wrestlemania rematch that everyone has been asking for: Shane McMahon vs The Miz. Unfortunately just seconds after telling the crowd how much their reaction meant to him, Shane appeared to injure his knee on a leap frog. What followed was a tremendous audible. You can hear the referee telling Snoop to do a People’s Elbow, and while Miz is looking at Shane on the ground, Snoop knocks him to the ground with a punch. I’ll take a note from Jon in yesterday’s review and give this a rating of good for Snoop.
HELL IN A CELL MATCH
EDGE def. FINN BALOR
Suit: While I’m not a huge WWE fan, I feel like I’ve been a fair and honest critic of WWE’s events this weekend. So allow me to tell you that this match was everything I hate about this company. From the movie promotion bleeding into the product, to the re-writing of history to make the Brood into anything more than the jobber group they were, to the color coded weapons, to the blood stoppage in this blood feud Hell in a Cell match. Then, after they patched Balor up so we wouldn’t get any blood on the canvas, they just hit each other with shit. Balor missed a double stomp off of a conveniently placed platform in the middle of the cage. Edge won with a con-chair-to in what was genuinely the worst big-time match I’ve seen this year. There is absolutely no aspect of this match that I enjoyed in any way, shape, or form. DUD
Sean: So in some good news, the Hell In A Cell isn’t red anymore! A welcomed change to say the least. Before the two make their entrances, we get a Russell Crowe video hyping up the match (promoting his new movie called “The Pope’s Exorcist”). Edge came out to “South Of Heaven” by Slayer while wearing this cool mask. Michael Cole hyped up The Brood as being this (in his words) cutting edge group, and I just rolled my eyes. The revisionist history of The Brood has reached totally absurd levels. As for Finn Balor, he had his typical demon body paint on.
The two go for weapons immediately and we get….red and purple kendo sticks….for some reason. Edge used the kendo sticks to trap Balor against the wall of the cell, and hit a dropkick off the apron. We would get more colored weapons as Edge brought out a purple table, but he would end up going through it courtesy of Balor. At one point, Edge chucks a ladder right at Balor’s face, and this led to a pause in the action for what felt like an eternity as doctors tended to the cut on Balor’s head. Clearly it was a significant cut (as there was blood all over the mat), but damn, that absolutely killed the flow of the match. Balor did return, and they do some more spots before Edge hits a DDT off a ladder. It didn’t put Balor away, and that led to Balor trying for a double stomp through a table while jumping off a platform that was attached to the wall of the cell. Edge avoided it, and then just destroyed Balor with chairs before hitting the conchairto for the win.
These two worked hard, but there were so many aspects that were annoying. You had weapons that were different colors like they were trying to sell a new action figure playset. Edge is trying to kill this unstoppable Demon….but the match gets stopped for five minutes because Balor got a cut. There is a totally random platform that’s just attached to the side of the Hell In A Cell wall with no explanation, and it was never mentioned until Balor actually went for his spot. Then you had all the stuff in the beginning with Russell Crowe and all of that gibberish. Hey, if you’re into that sort of thing….good for you. Again, I’ll give credit to Balor and Edge in the sense that they tried to put on a solid match (and Balor deserves some credit after clearly getting a nasty cut), but this just did not work. **1/4
Brady: Out with the red cell and in with… red weapons? The entrances are typical of the participants. Edge channeling the group that he was only in for a year and Balor trying his best to be spooky in the broad daylight. Balor had some purple smoke bombs that he was waving around, but the ramp was so long that it started to look like a color guard routine. He didn’t throw them in the air though so he lost points. I was having a hard time buying into this as-is with the Demon and Edge going to That Place, but the color coded weapons took me out of it even more. The story of the match here was supposed to be Edge being unable to phase The Demon, no matter how many red weapons he used, but this was immediately undermined by a ref stoppage when a ladder busted Balor open. They took some rough bumps in this one, notably Balor trying his double stomp through a table from a conveniently placed platform , but the gimmicky nature of this was directly contrary to the violent match they were trying to have. Edge wins with the Conchairto. Although this Wrestlemania has not been littered with WWE’s worst tendencies, they’re still there. *1/2
WWE TITLE / WWE UNIVERSAL TITLE MATCH
ROMAN REIGNS (C) def. CODY RHODES
Suit: Cody tried being benevolent in AEW. He wrote himself out of the main event picture to avoid criticism and give shine to other stars in the company. But this guy was meant to be a TOP GUY. The hotdogging, the grandstanding. Shaking hands and kissing babies. All of it. He says he left AEW to win the big one. While I don’t think that’s the whole truth, I think he knew that he had what it took to be on this stage and carry a promotion as its #1 guy. And now he has his chance. Welp, that’s what I wrote before Solo Sikoa hit Cody with a Samoan Spike, setting up Roman to hit the spear and win.
The Roman Train don’t stop for anybody. Drew couldn’t win the title because he wasn’t the guy. Sami couldn’t win the title because the story had to end at Wrestlemania. And now we reach Wrestlemania and…Roman wins again. What is the endgame here? Who is left?
I love pro wrestling. I have since I was 11 years old, staying up past my bedtime to watch TNA Impact. I would love nothing more than to invest in the biggest promotion in the world, a promotion that’s also the easiest promotion in the world to watch. I want to like WWE. But every time I think about getting invested, every time I try to care, they rip the rug out from under me. I’m tired of leaving these big shows feeling deflated. I’m tired of them missing the peak. I’m sick of this shit. But who cares, because Endeavor is about to pay $9 billion to keep this content farm running. Nothing matters. Eat at Arby’s. ***1/2
if you expect a wrestlemania without a personalized fuck you in nice calligraphy from vince well I can't keep you from getting mugged https://t.co/XNeNJSoXWk
— BUM CHILLUPS AKA SPENCER HALL (@edsbs) April 3, 2023
Sean: Brandi Rhodes (with her and Cody’s daughter Liberty) along with Brodie Lee Jr. (aka Negative One) were at ringside for this one. Meanwhile, I timed Roman’s entire entrance, and it was just over seven minutes (longer than the entire Brock Lesnar vs. Omos match). The bout is off to a slow start as Cody works Roman over. Reigns would take control with a powerbomb, and he started tossing Cody around both inside the ring and on the ramp. Cody would fight back with a slam on the ramp of his own, but Solo Sikoa would use a chair behind the ref’s back to give the advantage back to Roman. A powerbomb attempt through the announce table by Reigns backfired, and Cody puts him through the announce table instead.
After a nearfall off a Cody Cutter, Solo Sikoa interferes one time too many and gets ejected by the referee. Another close nearfall as Cody hits Cross Rhodes after Reigns tried to use his weight belt. More nearfalls exchange. Uranagi…Kickout. Pedigree…Kickout. Superman Punch to block the Disaster Kick…Kickout. You get the idea by now (the crowd is into the nearfalls, to be fair). Roman went for the spear, but Cody kicked out of that too. Cody then manages to survive the guillotine….AND right on cue, we get the referee bump. The Usos get involved and attack Cody, but Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn chase them off before delivering a Stunner and a Helluva Kick to Roman. Some more back-and-forth, and Cody appears to be on the verge of winning with three straight Cross Rhodes….but then Solo Sikoa comes out. Samoan Spike, then Roman hits the spear….and that’s it. Roman Reigns beats Cody Rhodes. LOL. WWE’s gonna WWE.
In all seriousness, for the most part, this was an entertaining match that the crowd was clearly into. Even though I’m not invested in anything Bloodline related, the crowd in SoFi Stadium was living and dying with every single nearfall in the second half. Honestly, I had very few complaints about this match until the finish. It wasn’t Match Of The Year quality (like I’m sure some will try to claim), but it was really good, and it was working for that audience. Then the finish happened with Solo costing Cody the title. If this were AEW or ROH, I might give Tony Khan the benefit of the doubt, because he’s earned my trust (and the trust of many) as a booker. Mark Briscoe and Eddie Kingston lost title matches at the ROH PPV that most people thought they should’ve won, but Tony Khan’s track record means that we can give him leeway with stuff like this. WWE does not have that same leeway. WWE does not have that trust. Some people may be fooled by the Triple H regime (even though his main roster run as booker has been vastly overrated in addition to the fact that Vince McMahon is CLEARLY gaining influence again when it comes to the booking), but this is still the same WWE that’s been regularly pumping out bad booking decisions for two days. A wise man once said that you have to keep WWE at arm’s length, and tonight was another great example. I would’ve gone much higher on this main event (an easy notebook match for sure) had Cody won the title, because that was the right result on this night. Who can possibly beat Roman now? Cody could beat him down the line, sure….but it won’t mean nearly as much as it would’ve if he beat Roman tonight. Arm’s length, people….Arm’s length. ***1/4
Brady: Well, this is it. This match feels huge even from the entrances. Commentary did a great job putting over the Reigns title run to this point. Quick little pre-match promo from Reigns and we start with a staredown. Slow paced heat segment from Roman for a lot of the early portion of this match, Cody’s hope spot was stopped by Solo Sikoa interference. The match started to pick up after Reigns took a back drop through the announce table and the crowd was back in. This match had all the hallmarks of the WWE main event style. It was kickout heavy, there were dramatic faces after the kickouts, there was an announcer table spot, a ref ejection, a ref bump, and interference. The key to this style is crowd investment, which they had in spades. While this style might not work for me, this is the kind of Wrestlemania main event that WWE fans expect and want. After interference from the Usos and the team of Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, the previously ejected Solo Sikoa returned, hit the spike, and Roman Reigns wins with a spear. Everything was set up for WWE to cement a new star on this night, until it wasn’t. The hardest part of this task was already done, and that was keeping Cody special for a whole year. WWE is desperate for new top stars, and when the Rock and Stone Cold didn’t call back, they had no choice but to look at what they have in house. The solution was right there, and it was simple: make the easy decision. But once again, they just couldn’t stay out of their own way. Montreal was not the time for Sami, and apparently Wrestlemania was not the time for Cody. I’ll close my review by asking the same questions I did on the night of Elimination Chamber. If tonight wasn’t the time, then will there ever be a time? ***1/2