Big Dog Eats Last: WrestleMania 37 Night 2 Recap and Review

Not your father's red-light demon match.

WrestleMania Sunday was at a disadvantage going in; Saturday had given us Banks and Belair tearing the house down, Bad Bunny hitting a Canadian Destroyer, and we’d already seen the giant skeleton. Not to mention the weather was clear enough for Samoa Joe to stop rocking his poncho, so that’s another L for us at home. Still, Sunday had it’s moments: Kevin and Sami delivered, as always, while the main event was stellar work from all men involved. It unfortunately also gave us Alexa Bliss sitting atop a “box-like structure” with oil on her face. But, hey, at least we got The Great Khali and The Bella Twins!

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Randy Orton def. The Fiend Bray Wyatt

Randy debuted some white trunks for the occasion, but his entrance was sadly lacking the spermy snake that followed him down the ramp in previous years. I miss her. The Fiend used some generic ABC fantasy show magic to restore his old costume on the way to the ring, and then popped out of a jack in the box. Sorry, “box-like structure,” according to Cole. The red lighting made a return, disorienting Randy so much that Wyatt got the jump on him from the bell.

The Fiend got the Mandible Claw on the outside, but Randy barely wiggled free in the ring. Randy hit some offense, but it seemed to have little effect. Orton finally got Wyatt on the mat with some strikes, and tried to go for his fist pounding motivation, but The Fiend countered the RKO with the Claw again. Just as Wyatt was gonna go for Sister Abigail, Alexa appeared atop the so called box covered in black oil with some wild tiara/vest combo going on. She reached for The Fiend, distracting him long enough to let Randy hit an RKO and win. One RKO keeps down the man who previously had to be burned alive before he would quit. The lights went out, Alexa and The Fiend both dipped, and the crowd rightfully booed. This was terrible; giving Alexa more to do than clap for The Fiend is great, but this was a wildly flat opener that didn’t do anything for Orton or Wyatt. Why they made this the very first match is beyond me. Why they didn’t just go for the cinematic style when the storyline clearly lent itself to that is a question for the ages.

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Women’s Tag Team Championships: Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax (c) def. Tamina and Natalya

Nattie and Shayna kicked things off, easily countering each other on the mat. Baszler tagged in Jax, so Natalya brought in Tamina, who got a nice chant from the crowd. Tamina tried for a slam, but couldn’t get Nia up. She and Natalya double teamed for a back body drop, then tossed Shayna into her partner. Shades of Maverick and Dane! I’d be down for a longer singles match between Baszler and Natalya- their back and forth with submissions was great. Shayna delivered a huge chop to Natalya’s throat, while Jax dropped Tamina on the outside. Jax tagged in and stomped on Natalya’s ankle, and she and Baszler continued to beat on her. Nattie sidestepped Jax charging in the corner, landing the discus clothesline, but Tamina was nowhere to be found. A huge powerbomb almost scored the champs the win, but Tamina just ran in and broke it up. A hot tag and Tamina dropped Baszler, then took out Nia on the apron. Shayna went for the Kirifuda Clutch, but Tamina powered out and hit a Samoan Drop for a 2 count. A double crossbody from Jax got a near fall; Jax dragged Tamina to her feet and slapped her around while Peacock failed to beep the audio until after the word shit, which was pretty funny. A slam from Tamina got another close count, and she went up top to try for the splash, but Nia rolled away. Natalya tagged in and went for a Sharpshooter on Nia, even though Shayna was legal. Baszler came in with the Kirifuda Clutch and knocked Nattie out, retaining the titles.

Barring one or two awkward spots, this was very solid and about what I expected, although it would have been nice to see Tamina win her first title after a decade at Mania. Tamina and Natalya are a good team together, and I hope they last longer than Nattie’s previous team-ups. Baszler and Jax on the other hand still don’t seem to gel as a unit, and it feels like their time should be up soon.

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Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn (featuring Logan Paul)

Arguably the match that should have kicked things off; it got the most crowd noise we’d heard since Hogan’s boos. Sami introduced Logan Paul like it was the day he’d waited for all his life. The man can sell absolutely anything. The match started with Sami running right into a pop-up powerbomb, while Logan looked on sadly. Owens bounced Zayn off the rope and wanted the splash, but Sami rolled to the apron. He suplexed Kevin neck first onto the apron (hardest part of the ring, you may remember), but still KO beat the count. Sami hit a Michinoku Driver for a two count, and both guys climbed to the top turnbuckle. They exchanged strikes until Owens got the better of Sami and landed a splash for another near fall. Logan Paul continued to pull faces beside the commentary table; somebody give this man a Daytime Emmy.

A superplex wiped out Sami, but Kevin couldn’t capitalize. He landed two elbows in the corner, but Sami caught him with a Helluva kick. He wanted a second and ran right into two super kicks instead. A stunner and KO picked up the win to a standing ovation from Logan Paul, and other attendees. Paul came in to help his new friend and applaud Kevin, much to Sami’s disgust. Zayn tried to remind Logan who brought him to the dance, and Paul shoved him over. He then congratulated Owens and raised his hand, but Kevin was around in 2014 and wasn’t impressed. He hit Logan with a stunner, so that’ll probably happen at SummerSlam now. Owens vs YouTube sensation Logan Paul. The tickets sell themselves.

It’s hard to imagine that this could have ever been bad, but it was definitely helped by a lack of interference from Paul. Kevin and Sami continue to do no wrong in the ring together.

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United States Championship: Sheamus def. Riddle (c)

This was preceded by a backstage segment involving Riddle, RVD, and Great Khali. So that went about how you’re imagining. Buy RVD rolling papes on shop.wwe.com! Anyway, Sheamus was hot right away, going after Riddle’s arm. He needs that to ride his scooter backstage like a small, abandoned child who’s been left at the mall too long. Sheamus caught a crossbody attempt and hit a slam for a two count. Riddle fired back into the corner, but Sheamus caught his foot. Ten Beats of the Bodhrán wiped out Riddle momentarily, but he came back to hit a belly to belly from the top turnbuckle. Another suplex got him a two count, and Riddle was peeved. A pump knee and a slam almost got the Celtic Warrior a victory, but Riddle wouldn’t stay down. Sheamus wanted White Noise off the top but slipped off the ropes; he adjusted like an improv pro and hit the move again, following up with a diving knee for yet another near fall. Riddle tried for a moonsault off the middle rope but got caught with a Brogue Kick, and Sheamus became a champion of the people. This match wasn’t that great, which is a shame, because Sheamus had a fantastic series with McIntyre last month. Let’s think about that instead.

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Intercontinental Championship: Apollo Crews def. Big E (c) (Nigerian Drum Fight)

Walé sang Big E to the ring, where the hometown boy got a huge ovation. The ringside was lined with drums for this one, despite Michael Cole assuring us it involved no actual percussion. Both guys went for kendo sticks straight away and just slammed into each other. Crews backed off and E gave chase, cracking the stick across his chest. Big E removed the gong, only for Crews kicked it out of his hands. Apollo went swinging with the kendo, but E dove through the ropes and sent him flying to the outside. He set up steel steps alongside the ring but Crews dropped him on the apron. Apollo charged and got caught in a suplex onto the steps, wiping him out. Big E set up a table to save us all from a wrestling crowd’s second favorite chant, but Apollo caught him with a kick. He set E up on the table and tried for a splash, until the champ got out of the way. E landed the Big Ending and went into the cover, but Babatunde came out to prevent it. He chokeslammed Big E and pulled Crews into the cover to win, while Michael Cole and Corey Graves pretended they had no idea who this man was, like Raw Underground wasn’t the topic of discussion for at least three weeks last year.

Crews finally gaining the title after months of pursuit is the right ending here, and if he gets a stable of followers that could really work for his new character. E should be fine; he’s been on a great run as a singles star so far.

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Raw Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley def. Asuka (c)

Ripley was also accompanied to the ring by Ash Costello performing “Brutality.” I admittedly don’t know a lot about metal at all, but this just didn’t land for me. Maybe it was technical issues (the mic didn’t seem to be working perfectly) but something was really off. Luckily, Rhea was wearing enough leather to still look like a badass strutting down and hitting her little foot stomp. Asuka had some fantastic glitter makeup and hair going on; I might have to steal that look for my first club night out in five years.

Asuka came out of the gate going after Ripley, dropkicking her into the corner. Ripley tried to gain her bearings on the outside but The Empress landed a knee strike and rolled her back into the ring. Ripley made a comeback with some punches and laid into the champ on the mat, getting her in a body scissors. Asuka escaped, only to get hit with a drop kick and some trash talk. Asuka countered into a submission, but Ripley powered through and hit a slam for a near fall. They fought on the turnbuckle for a moment before Asuka landed a missile dropkick. A hip attack and some kicks dropped the Aussie, but Asuka still only got a two count. Ripley bounced her face first off the apron on the outside, so Asuka fired back with a DDT onto the floor. Both women made it back into the ring and traded submissions, from the inverted Cloverleaf into the arm bar. Ripley tossed Asuka into the corner to break it up, then hit a suplex and earned another two count. Asuka came back with a series of kicks to the chest, while Ripley waved her on for more. She caught Asuka’s foot and countered into the Rip Tide to get the win. This was a lot of fun and had some really fantastic spots. Both these women are great; I would have preferred to see Asuka retain, but Ripley has a very bright future as champ.

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Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) def. Edge and Daniel Bryan (Triple Threat Match)

It was ten years to the day that Edge was forced to retire, which feels like a suggestion that that there is a higher being, and they like big men slapping meat as much as we do. Reigns went after Bryan right away, but was picked off by Edge. Bryan was sent to the outside, where Jey Uso knocked him into the steel steps. A superkick to Edge tried to seal the deal, but Bryan caught Reigns with a dive, allowing Edge to come back by running Uso into the barricade. Edge bounced Roman between the ring and the barricade like a ping pong ball, then dropped Uso on the steps.

Edge and Bryan faced off in the ring with Reigns down on the outside; Bryan laid in with the Yes Kicks, but Edge rolled through the huricanrana for a pinning attempt. Bryan landed a missile dropkick off the top, but got caught on a dive by Reigns. Edge countered the Superman Punch into a DDT, but couldn’t block the second one. Both men went for a spear and slammed into each other; Bryan tried to take advantage, but couldn’t get the three count. He landed Yes Kicks to both guys, then wiped out Edge with a knee and Roman with a kick to the head, but the champ kicked out. Edge broke up the Yes Lock on Reigns, so Bryan locked it in on him instead. Roman pulled Daniel off this time and laid into him with punches. Bryan rolled to the outside and Reigns casually set him up on the steel steps before getting distracted by the “Roman sucks” chants. He proved all those neckbeards wrong by sending Bryan clear through the table, just before Edge hit a huge spear to send them into the barricade. The Rated-R Superstar tossed Roman in the ring and went for his trusty sidekick: two to three steel chairs.

Edge locked in a crossface with a chair leg in Roman’s mouth, which sounds horrible for those beautiful teeth. Bryan came in to get the Yes Lock, and Roman looked to be in horrific pain. Bryan and Edge head butted each other off, with Daniel getting the better of the situation. He stomped on Edge’s neck and wanted the running knee, but ran right into a spear. Roman got the same treatment, and Charles Robinson counted to two before Bryan yanked him from the ring. An outraged Edge went for the chair again, absolutely walloping both men. He set up Bryan and Reigns on the chairs, then tried for double Con-Chair-Tos, but before he could hit Reigns, Jey stepped in. Edge scared him off with several chair shots to the back, but Roman caught him with a spear. A Con-Chair-To from Reigns finished the job, and the Head of the Table pinned both men to retain. Fantastic match here, with the right result—Reigns should hold the title for a long time. I still can’t get over how incredible it is to see Edge wrestle at Mania again. (We’re not going to talk about last year.)

7.3

There was Asuka and Rhea! There was Kevin and Sami! There was also Hulk Hogan in a pirate suit saying "Har, har, har."

PROS
  • Sami and Kevin have some of the best chemistry in all of wrestling and they always will.
  • Sheamus as US Champ is exciting! And he gave Riddle a bloody lip! Double exciting!
  • Apollo and Babatunde vs AJ and Omos at Survivor Series is gonna be great, genuinely.
  • I would not mind an Asuka/Rhea rematch tomorrow at all
  • It's wild to think about Reigns, Bryan, and Edge all making it back to Mania after everything. We're very lucky to have witnessed this match at all.
CONS
  • The opener was just plain bad. I get that they want to build Alexa, but nothing here really seemed to work. Not the tone you want to set for the night.
  • Tamina and Natalya probably should have won. The moment was right, and it feels like Baszler and Jax‘s time is up.
  • All celebrities from here on out are gonna be compared to Bad Bunny, so Logan Paul better start hitting the PC
  • There just seemed to be a lot more space tonight- transitions felt awkward, the constant recaps from last night and the same stuff I just watched an hour ago was unnecessary. I won't say a word against Bayley and the Bellas, though.
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