WrestleMania 37 Postscript

What was up with Alexa Bliss at WrestleMania?

The WWE delivered in a big way over the two-night showing of WrestleMania 37. It was dealt a tough hand with a storm in Tampa which forced a 40-minute rain delay at the beginning of Saturday’s show. Once the rains subsided enough for the show to start, the first live crowd the WWE has hosted in over a year was clearly excited for action.

Most critics tended to agree that both shows were exciting from start to finish and exceeded expectations. What makes that interesting is that this was more of a transitional WrestleMania than it may have appeared to be. Consider that this was the first time since WrestleMania XVI in 2000 that there was no involvement from The Undertaker or John Cena. Also consider that the WWE did not reach into the past to bring back a relic like Goldberg or a part-timer like Brock Lesnar to generate interest in the show. It mainly ran with the regular talent roster and one big outside celebrity. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned there.

I have been a constant critic of both Roman Reigns and the WWE Women’s division. Roman Reigns returned after an absence in 2020 to reinvent his character and put on a masterful performance in the main event of night two. Aside from the Women’s tag team matches that laid an egg both nights, even I must admit that Sacha Banks and Bianca Belair put on the match of their lives and that certainly bolstered the division.

There were some great moments along the way, along with some inconsistencies and some odd creative decisions. Out of it all emerged a clear list of winners and losers, with the winners far out numbering the losers.

Losers:

The Fiend: Here’s Bray Wyatt’s career arc: Gets built up, fans buy in, loses in a peculiar fashion, reinvents himself, repeat. That loss to Randy Orton did not help either competitor, the finish with Alexa Bliss made no sense at all.

Big E: Lost the Intercontinental Championship in his home city.

Mandy Rose: Through no fault of her own, she slipped on the wet ramp during her ring entrance. This will haunt her on the Internet for the rest of her life.

Bayley: Her championship run in 2020 was not enough to earn her an actual match at WrestleMania 37. Instead, she was stuck with a comedy bit that did not work and got tossed aside by the Bella Twins. The crowd had the wrong reaction to the episode anyway!

Hulk Hogan: Worked babyface, got booed. His magical aura is clearly a thing of the past.

Winners:

Bobby Lashley: Opened the show with a surprise win over Drew McIntyre. This was his biggest WrestleMania moment since “The Battle of The Billionaires”.

Cesaro: In his first ever singles match at WrestleMania, he picked up a signature win over Seth Rollins.

Omos: Looked like a killer in his debut. Hopefully he is always booked that way.

Shane McMahon: Even though it is entirely predictable that he is going to take an insane bump, he still makes it entertaining. His in-ring career is one car crash after the next.

Braun Strowman: Looked great in his match. He is a physical specimen that can cut a skilled promo and tell a story in the ring.

Bad Bunny: Far exceeded any expectations with his in-ring ability. Granted, the other guys helped make him look good, but he still carried himself like a pro.

Bianca Belair: Put on probably the best women’s match the WWE has ever seen in her WrestleMania debut. Hopefully, the rest of the division follows her lead and steps up their game.

Sheamus: Hit some great moves in his win over Riddle and walked out with a singles title.

Apollo Crews: It was a very round-about way to become a singles champion, but if becoming an ethnic heel is what it took, good for him.

Daniel Bryan and Edge: Both were forced to retire due to injury but ended up in the main event of WrestleMania anyway. The losses did not hurt them at all, they looked good in defeat.

Roman Reigns: Against all odds, turned his career around and is now the clear face of the WWE. Unlike in the past where he ruined every WrestleMania main event he was in, he turned in a commanding performance this time.

The WWE added WrestleMania branding to the Backlash pay per view for the first time ever. With any luck, they can continue some of the momentum they now have from a strong WrestleMania weekend into that show.

WrestleMania 37 Night 1 Analysis and Predictions

After a year of not having fans in attendance, the WWE is “back in business” with a live crowd at WrestleMania 37 in Tampa. The WWE product has been downright bizarre to watch without real fans in attendance this past year and having a crowd for the performers to work off will be a welcome change.

Splitting WrestleMania into two nights leaves a lot less clutter on the WrestleMania card than in a normal year where they over-book many matches to get as many people on the card as possible. There are lot more singles matches than we would have seen in years past.

The WWE has also seemingly admitted that the “Women’s Revolution” in the WWE has been an abject failure. Just two years ago, the WrestleMania event was a triple-threat between Charlotte Flair, Becky Lynch, and Ronda Rousey. This year, none of the three are even on the card. Something is clearly wrong with the creative process that has left most of the women in the WWE out of a prominent spot at WrestleMania.

There have been some creative missteps on the men’s side of things as well. The bizarre saga of Bobby Lashey as champion (more on that in a bit) has been a head-scratcher. For the life of me, I can not understand the appeal of Riddle. And the sudden emergence of Apollo Crews’ fake Nigerian accent almost makes me embarrassed for him.

But this is WrestleMania, and the card is stacked with talent who will have ample time to tell good stories. Without the involvement of John Cena or The Undertaker, the members of the current roster will look to cement their own WrestleMania legacies. Even if the lead-in to WrestleMania was weak, this two-night event could be professional wrestling at its best! On to the match predictions.

Bad Bunny and Damian Priest vs. The Miz and John Morrison

WrestleMania history is rife with celebrity guest appearances, many of whom actively participated in matches.  Mr. T. started the tradition when he teamed with Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania 1.  This year, Bad Bunny gets the nod as the token WrestleMania celebrity used to bring in viewers that are not part of the current fan base. 

The appeal of Bad Bunny is lost on me, I guess I am not in his target demographic. However, there are reports that his WWE merchandise is a huge seller right now, so this appears to be a good business decision for the WWE. He is not a trained wrestler so The Miz and Morrison are going to have to carry him in the match. The rookie Damian Priest will not be much help in covering Bunny’s weaknesses. I would not expect this match to be remembered as a WrestleMania classic.

Prediction: Winner, The Miz and Morrison

The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) (c) vs. AJ Styles and Omos in a Tag team match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship

This is an interesting spot for AJ Styles, having been assigned the task of getting NXT call-up Omos over as a main-roster competitor. I am not sure I like the creative direction this angle has taken, Omos seems to be lacking on the microphone, and attempts at the two of them being comedic have fallen flat. His appearance and skill set seem better suited to “monster heel” than comedic sidekick, but this is what we get so we will see how he does. For Omos, this is a great spot in which to make his debut in a championship match at WrestleMania.

The New Day continue to flounder as a duo, having lost their most charismatic member, Big E to a singles push. It is time for this team to break up, no better time or way to accomplish that than a WrestleMania swerve and a heel turn for one of them!

Prediction: Winners and new WWE Raw Tag Team Champions, AJ Styles and Omos

Lana and Naomi vs. Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose vs. The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott) vs. Natalya and Tamina in a Tag Team Turmoil match, winners receive a WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship match on Night 2

This is a late addition to the card to placate those who were upset there was not enough involvement from the Women’s division. There is not a single wrestler in this match who is worth watching.

Prediction: This match is going to suck

Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon in a Steel Cage match

It is WrestleMania! Time for Shane McMahon to jump off something high and attempt to mount credible offense against someone he has no business being in the ring with! Stop me if you have heard this one before.

Prediction: Winner, Braun Strowman

Sasha Banks (c) vs. Bianca Belair in a singles match for the WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship

The only bright side about this match is that it is the only women’s singles match on the card.

Prediction: This match is going to suck

Cesaro Vs. Seth Rollins

I have always felt that WrestleMania needs more matches like these on the card. No-gimmick singles matches that are based on a grudge and nothing else. It gives the competitors a chance to tell a unique story and showcase their skills.

Both superstars in this match are at an interesting crossroads in their individual careers. Cesaro has been a constant under-achiever as a singles competitor, and this is his first singles WrestleMania match. Seth Rollins was on a roll with his “Monday Night Messiah” gimmick, but that appears to have been taken away from him. He kept the look but not the personality which makes no sense at all. Even still, Rollins is one of the best in-ring competitors the WWE has on the roster today and he should be able to carry Cesaro in this match.

Prediction: Winner, Seth Rollins

Bobby Lashley (c) (with MVP) vs. Drew McIntyre in a singles match for the WWE Championship

This is an intriguing matchup of two superstars who took long and difficult trajectories to a championship match at WrestleMania.

Drew McIntyre had poor timing for his first WrestleMania moment as it took place in a taped match at the WWE Performance Center with no fans in attendance. He likely would have gotten a huge pop from a live crowd if there were fans in attendance. He spent most of the following calendar year as champion without performing in front of a live crowd. This match finally gives him a chance to reconnect with a live audience since his ascension to the top.

Bobby Lashley was the other feel-good story during the pandemic, having won his first ever major WWE championship at age 44 in March. The WWE is doing everything it can to muddy his creative waters since then. At the time of his win, he was presented as a vicious mauler who had to chase down a cowardly Miz and ragdoll him to win the championship. He was surrounded by a stable that supported his aura and was on top of the wrestling world.

In the ensuing weeks, he flipped to being a cowardly heel by putting out a “bounty” on Drew McIntyre, then his stable inexplicably broke up. I do not know how this helps build a WrestleMania match, but I believe that these two veterans will still step it up when the bell rings and bring the house down.

Prediction: Winner and still WWE Champion, Bobby Lashley