WrestleMania 38 Postscript

After a 19 year absence, Stone Cold Steve Austin returned to the ring at WrestleMania 38 against Kevin Owens

I must move past my complaints about the WrestleMania two-night paradigm because it appears to be permanent. But when WrestleMania spans two nights for a total of 16 matches, there is a lot to unpack. First and foremost, as a whole WrestleMania was very enjoyable. Most of the matches were exciting and there were many unexpected moments.

In isolation, however, Saturday night was the better of the two. In fact, if WrestleMania 38 was just what was given to us on Saturday night, I would have been perfectly satisfied. It was full of great matches that were capped by a surprise main event match featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin that re-wrote the history of his career and legacy.

Sunday night was a good show, even if things were a little strange at times. The Gable Steveson segment was a bit awkward and made him look very green. The New Day match was unusually short. The Pat McAfee bonus match with Mr. McMahon was another awkward segment that did not do either one of them any favors. The main event between Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar ran a little short for a champion versus champion match.

These are minor criticisms. A show this large would be impossible to make perfect. Not every wrestler is the best and not every match can draw five stars from the critics.

To look at it through a different lens, I offer a list of WrestleMania winners and losers every year. This year, there are far more winners than there are losers.

Losers

  • Rick Boogs: The show got off to a rough start when Boogs suffered a devastating leg injury in the first match. Things were looking good for the upstart wrestler, but now he is facing surgery and a lengthy rehab.
  • Otis: The big man has a lot of potential but got lost in the shuffle in his six-man tag team match.
  • Omos: Having him lose at WrestleMania is not a great way to build a monster heel of his size.
  • The New Day: As I mentioned, their match was so short it was a throw-away. Time to move on from this gimmick.
  • Mr. McMahon: He should know how to sell a Stunner by now!

Winners

  • The Usos: Their career began with them constantly being overlooked at WrestleMania. Now they are the top tag team in the WWE and made a strong statement by winning the opening match.
  • Drew McIntyre: He got to cut the ring ropes with a sword. Cool!
  • Logan Paul: I had no expectations for his wrestling ability given that as far as I could tell, he had never worked a match in front of a crowd. I was blown away with how well he performed. He carried himself like a veteran. He was smooth, paced himself well, and his mechanics were solid. He should sign a full-time contract.
  • Cody Rhodes: Jim Ross always says that when a wrestler leaves a promotion, it is usually because of one of “the two c’s: cash or creative”. Rhodes left the WWE for AEW for the latter but returned for the former. And while he was cashing in, he orchestrated himself a great WrestleMania moment with his win over Seth Rollins.
  • Kevin Owens: The big man from Marieville, Quebec was in a WrestleMania main event match against Stone Cold Steve Austin. Enough said!
  • Stone Cold Steve Austin: He looked a little slow, but it did not matter. His connection to the audience is as strong as it has ever been. He often said he did not want to return because he did not think he was physically capable of performing at a high level. But he proved himself wrong and found a way to make his match work.
  • Steve Austin Fans: If you ever chanted “ONE MORE MATCH” at Steve over the last 19 years, you finally got your wish!
  • Triple H: He got the send-off he deserves with one last WrestleMania moment.
  • Gable Steveson: The Olympic gold medalist and NCAA champion was spotlighted two nights in a row. I only hope for his sake that this sake he doesn’t get slapped with the “he’s being forced down our throats” label.
  • Randy Orton: What a pop for that hot tag!
  • Pat McAfee: He might not look like a wrestler, but he can sure work like one. He even got to call his own match on commentary. He should be on cloud nine all week after the weekend he had.
  • Austin Theory: Hey Mr. McMahon, you can learn a thing or two from your protégé about how to sell a Stunner!
  • Roman Reigns: I started this blog primarily so I could rant about how much I could not stand to see Reigns in the WrestleMania main event year after year. But since he took WrestleMania 36 off and returned as The Tribal Chief, he has been the top performer in the world. I have done a complete about-face about Roman. It is about time I finally say it: I acknowledge Roman Reigns!

Raw is beginning as I am finishing this post. I look forward to seeing where things go from here. Hey look, Veer is going to make his Raw debut tonight…

WrestleMania 38 Sunday: Analysis and Predictions

If WrestleMania 38 was just the Saturday card, it would have left everyone satisfied. Every performer on the Sunday show is going to have a hard time following the matches that took place on Saturday. It was a near-flawless show that exemplified professional wrestling at its finest.

There is no lack of star power lined up for WrestleMania Sunday, and there is a good mix of grudge matches and title matches. It is going to be capped with a title unification match between the two top stars in the WWE. If WrestleMania must be two nights, at least there is a lot to look forward to tonight.

The New Day (Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston) vs. Sheamus and Ridge Holland (with Butch)

This match is behind the eight-ball to begin with because Big E will not be able to compete in it, having suffered a broken neck on Smackdown in an accidental botched spot with Ridge Holland. Big E would have been the biggest star of the bunch, and it cost Butch his opportunity to be in the match. Instead, he will be the heater on the outside.

The New Day gimmick certainly has staying power and is still over with WWE fans. Sheamus and Ridge Holland are a much newer pairing, and Holland is in a good spot here with a chance to show that he can hang with this veteran group. Butch is the odd man out but should at least get a spot to draw some heat for himself.

Prediction: Winners, Sheamus and Ridge Holland

Queen Zelina and Carmella (c) vs. Sasha Banks and Naomi vs. Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan vs. Natalya and Shayna Baszler in a fatal four-way tag team match for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship

Try to say that one fast. This is the lone overbooked “let’s get everybody on the WrestleMania card” match of the weekend. These matches are always confusing and help nobody look good. This will give me an opportunity to catch up on my DVR queue while the show is still on.

Prediction: This match is going to suck

Johnny Knoxville vs. Sami Zayn in an Anything Goes match

Logan Paul crushed it on WrestleMania Saturday. Can Johnny Knoxville do the same? The Anything Goes stipulation opens a creative channel to introduce multiple Jackass-type stunts into the match. It also protects Knoxville if he can not wrestle at a competent level.

Prediction: Winner, Sami Zayn

Pat McAfee vs. Austin Theory

I caught Pat McAfee wrestling in a War Games match on NXT and was very impressed with how he carried himself. He does not have too many matches on his professional resume, but he has shown he can rise to the occasion. Austin Theory is among the youngest competitors at WrestleMania 38.  He is going to want to prove he has long-term potential to be a WrestleMania star.

McAfee has a great deal of name recognition outside the WWE as a sportscaster to begin with. This is an obvious spot for the WWE to give him a few highlight-worthy spots and a victory to draw some mainstream recognition.

Prediction: Winner, Pat McAfee

RK-Bro (Randy Orton and Riddle) (c) vs. The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) vs. Alpha Academy (Chad Gable and Otis) in a triple threat tag team match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship

SHOOOSH!!! This one is not quite as bad as the women’s fatal four-way championship match, but there is going to be a lot going on that will distract from the individual talents. These are three very capable tag teams, and you must hope that their performances do not get lost in the shuffle.

Randy Orton is a former WrestleMania main-eventer who has slid down the card as a babyface tag-team wrestler. It seems logical that at some point he is going to backstab Riddle and turn heel. What better time and place than WrestleMania?

Prediction: Winners and new WWE Raw Tag Team Champions, Alpha Academy.

Edge vs. AJ Styles

A grudge match between two veterans with nothing titles or stipulations on the line? Yes, please! Edge working heel for the first time since his surprise return to the WWE? Yes, please! This one has match of the night potential.

Prediction: Winner, Edge

Bobby Lashley vs. Omos

It is good that Bobby Lashley made the WrestleMania card after it looked like he was suffering from some sort of injury that limited his participation at Elimination Chamber and saw him surrender the championship. Unfortunately, there was not much of a build for this match. But Bobby is one of the top stars in WWE today and it should be fun to watch these ridiculously large human beings do battle.

Prediction: Winner, Bobby Lashley

Brock Lesnar (WWE Champion) vs. Roman Reigns (Universal Champion) (with Paul Heyman) in a Winner Takes All match to unify the WWE Championship and WWE Universal Championship

This is the third time we have seen this exact same WrestleMania main event. But it is the first time that Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar have been positioned properly. Roman Reigns is finally the arrogant heel that the fans wanted him to be, and Brock is the “cowboy with a strange mohawk and ponytail” that is somehow working out very well for him.

There is a clear good guy versus bad guy dynamic in this match, and there is a title unification on the line. What more could you really ask for in a WrestleMania main event?

Prediction: Winner and Unified Champion, Roman Reigns