WrestleMania 37 Review
The first WWE event with live spectators in over a year took place over two nights last weekend, providing fans with some incredible matches. Struan Garvie gives his thoughts.
WrestleMania 37 was the first WWE event in over a year that featured a live audience. The event was held in Tampa Bay, Florida and featured a pirate ship on the stage. This was probably one of the most distinctive and creative stages in WWE’s history.
What was always going to be a special two-night event soon became even more special, as the show was delayed due to weather conditions, which built up audience anticipation. This was the first time that a WrestleMania had to be delayed due to the weather.
The show itself was held on April 10th and 11th, with each night featuring a variety of matches. These are my thoughts on this year’s remarkable and rainy WrestleMania.
These are just my opinions, however, so feel free to completely disagree with them.
WWE Championship Match – Bobby Lashley (Champion) w/ MVP vs Drew McIntyre
After a temporary delay – caused by the weather – and some great impromptu interviews, WrestleMania Night One began with the WWE Championship on the line. It was the champion, Bobby Lashley, defending against Scotland’s own Drew McIntyre. This match started 45 minutes later than it was scheduled, however, this did not throw either competitor off as they put on a great opening contest.
There were some good spots in this match including a dive over the top rope from McIntyre onto Lashley and MVP. It is always great to see a wrestler of McIntyre’s stature perform moves like this. McIntyre would also hit Lashley with three Future Shock DDTs, making Lashley look incredibly strong as he kicked out of a pinfall attempt. The two powerhouses spent much of the match inside the ring trying to gain the upper hand. Both superstars came into this match incredibly strong, meaning neither was seen as an underdog per se.
The hard-hitting contest came to a close as McIntyre looked to hit Lashley with a Claymore but was distracted by MVP. This allowed Lashley to take advantage and secure the Hurt-Lock on McIntyre. McIntyre had previously escaped the hold and countered into a Kimura during the match. This time, however, there was no escape and McIntyre passed out in the middle of the ring meaning Lashley retained his title.
This was a very enjoyable and surprising end to a match that made both superstars look very strong. It was interesting to see the heel Lashley pick up the victory in the opening match, as many believed McIntyre was going to get his big ‘pop’ instead. It was nice to see Lashley retain, however, as he is arguably in the best run of his career.
This was the first match in over a year with live fans and they certainly played their part cheering the whole way through.
Women’s Tag Team Turmoil Match – Naomi and Lana vs Carmella and Billie Kay vs The Riott Squad vs Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke vs Natalya and Tamina
The importance of this match was that the winning team would go on to face the Women’s Tag Team Champions (Shayna Bayzler and Nia Jax) on Night Two of WrestleMania.
The match started with Naomi and Lana vs Carmella and Billie Kay. The first elimination occurred quickly as Kay was able to roll up Lana for an early pinfall, thanks to an illegal intervention from Carmella.
Up next, The Riott squad came in and displayed some good tandem offence – which is fitting given they were the only proper tag team in the match. Carmella and Kay attempted the same illegal pinfall, this time on Liv Morgan of The Riott Squad. Fortunately, the referee saw and intervened. The Riott Squad then used a nice team move which saw Ruby Riott perform a Senton off the top rope onto Kay, who was lying across Morgan’s knees. Riott would then pin Kay and eliminate the team.
Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke came next. One of the funnier moments of the night came here, as Rose slipped on the entrance ramp on her way to the ring – we’ll blame the rain for that one. This was another quick elimination as Brooke hit a Swanton onto Morgan. However, Morgan was able to reverse Brooke’s pinfall with a roll-up.
Finally, it was Natalya and Tamina, meaning we were down to the final two teams. There were two very touching moments in this part of the match. First was Natalya and Tamina hitting Riott with the Heart Attack, paying homage to Natalya’s father (Jim “The Anvil” Neidhart). The second was Tamina paying homage to her father (Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka) by hitting a Superfly Splash onto Morgan to pick up the pinfall and win the Tag Team Turmoil match. This meant that Natalya and Tamina would face Nia Jax and Shayna Bayzler on Night Two of WrestleMania for the Women’s Tag Team titles.
This was a fairly average match in my opinion. It seemed as though it was thrown together with little thought going into it. The match itself also felt quite rushed. It was nice to see Natalya and Tamina use their father’s moves though. And although they did not win, The Riott Squad came out of the match looking quite strong.
Cesaro vs Seth Rollins
From a wrestling standpoint, this was probably the match I was most excited about. It was Rollins (the man who has done it all in WWE) versus Cesaro (the man who has never had a singles match at WrestleMania in his career or held a world title in WWE). For Rollins, it was just another big match. For Cesaro, however, it was the biggest match of his career.
The two put on a great display and showed some incredible ability throughout. The two worked very well together and this fast-paced match proved it. We saw some great spots such as Rollins pulling out a Pedigree – which we have not seen in a few years – while Cesaro performed a no-hands Aeroplane Spin and delivered over 20 Cesaro Swings to Rollins. Cesaro also countered Rollins’ Stomp into a very nice-looking uppercut.
Cesaro won the match via pinfall after hitting Rollins with the Neutralizer. This loss did not hurt Rollins in the slightest, but the victory for Cesaro was massive. As perhaps the most under-used superstar in WWE’s recent history, it was great to see Cesaro finally pick up a huge victory. This was certainly a contender for the match of the weekend.
WWE Raw Tag Team Championship Match – The New Day (Champions) vs AJ Styles and Omos
This match was the long-awaited in-ring debut of Omos – the giant who has acted as Styles’ bodyguard over these last few months.
Before I say anything about the wrestling in the match, I need to praise Xavier Woods of the New Day. His running commentary throughout the match was phenomenal.
As for the actual wrestling, the majority of the match saw Kofi Kingston and Woods from the New Day making some quick tags as they tried to keep Styles in the ring and away from Omos on the apron. After some near falls by the New Day, Styles was eventually able to tag in Omos, and well… game over.
Omos looked like a monster here as he man-handled both Kingston and Woods with ease. He also shrugged off any offence that Kingston or Woods attempted. There was a nice team move from Styles and Omos, as Styles performed the Phenomenal Forearm onto Woods by jumping off of Omos’ shoulders. Omos would then slam Kingston to the ground and to add insult to injury, pinned him using only one foot.
This was the first title change of WrestleMania, and the match itself was pretty good. Omos came away looking unbelievably strong and it also meant that Styles was now a WWE Grand Slam Champion.
Braun Strowman vs Shane McMahon – Steel Cage Match
It would not be a Shane McMahon match without some kind of structure for him to either jump off or be thrown off. And yes, he was thrown off the cage. I have not been THAT much of a fan of this rivalry, given most of the time, it was just McMahon calling Braun Strowman stupid. The match itself was ok though.
Early on, McMahon had some help from Elias and Jaxon Ryker, but it was to no avail as Strowman dealt with them easily. There was quite a special moment in the match as it appeared that McMahon was going to escape the cage and win. However, he got overly confident and reached inside the cage to wave at Strowman. Of course, by doing this, he was caught by Strowman. Strowman would then rip the cage open and bring McMahon back inside. This felt unique as I cannot remember anyone ever ripping a steel cage open in the way Strowman did. The two then made their way to the top of the cage where Strowman would throw McMahon off and down onto the ring. Strowman then went on to hit a Running Powerslam onto McMahon and pick up the win.
This was quite a predictable match, but it is always nice to see Shane McMahon do his big falling spots. It was also another victory for Strowman at WrestleMania, meaning he is still undefeated at the event. Cc: The Undertaker.
Bad Bunny and Damian Priest vs The Miz and John Morrison
This match was incredible. I will admit I did not know what to expect, but it was simply fantastic. Often the celebrity matches at WrestleMania can be quite boring and uneventful. Not this one though, this was excellent.
Bad Bunny spent most of the match against The Miz and John Morrison in the ring away from his partner Damian Priest. Despite being the celebrity of the match, Bad Bunny was able to hold his own. Priest was very good at giving Bad Bunny advice throughout the match. Bad Bunny and Priest’s double Falcon Arrow onto Miz and Morrison was one of the best spots of the match. This was soon followed by a crossbody from Bad Bunny onto both Miz and Morrison on the outside. This was soon topped when Bad Bunny hit Morrison with a Canadian Destroyer on the outside. Yes, the celebrity pulled off a Canadian Destroyer. The Miz’s shocked face at the time said it all.
Bad Bunny and Priest would then hit the Miz with an Electric Chair and Cross Body combination to pick up the victory.
The build-up to this match was good, the wrestling in this match was very good and the Canadian Destroyer – or Bunny Destroyer – was excellent. Overall, this was a very enjoyable match and massive credit to Bad Bunny.
Night One Main Event: Smackdown Women’s Championship Match – Sasha Banks (Champion) vs Bianca Belair
For the Main Event of Night One, it was Bianca Belair – the winner of the 2021 Women’s Royal Rumble – challenging Sasha Banks for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. The storyline and build-up to this match were excellent, and so too was the quality of wrestling.
All the way through this match, it was very tough to see who was going to win. There were so many near-falls throughout that kept everyone on the edge of their seat. My favourite spot of this match was when Belair walked up the ring steps carrying Banks over her head, before throwing her back into the ring. Another nice spot was when Banks hit Belair with a Frogsplash – given that one of Banks’ idols was Eddie Guerrero, this was a nice moment. The match came to a finish with a vicious hair whip from Belair – that could be heard in Scotland – followed up by the KOD (Kiss of Death) onto Banks. Belair would then pin Banks and secure the victory… despite Michael Cole saying Banks kicked out on commentary.
A thoroughly deserved win for Belair. Even Banks – the heel – couldn’t help but let out a smile at the end. It is always nice to see the face win the Main Event of WrestleMania, especially when the match and storytelling were as good as this one.
Overall, I thought Night One was excellent. There was some incredible wrestling, some great storytelling, and a Canadian Destroyer from Bad Bunny. It was also great to hear real fans once again. What made the whole night even more impressive was how well everyone coped with the delay at the start of the show, which likely threw a few people off. A first-rate opening night.
Night One Rating: 8.5/10
Following such an enjoyable Night One, it was going to be no easy task for Night Two to match the standards.
Things looked bright initially though, as there were no weather delays.
The Fiend w/ Alexa Bliss vs Randy Orton
Night Two opened with perhaps the strangest rivalry in WWE.
Having been burned alive by Randy Orton a few months ago, The Fiend made his return to the ring as he looked for revenge.
The Fiend had a very interesting entrance that saw him recover from his burns and arise from a jack-in-the-box that was opened by Alexa Bliss. Very strange, but very cool.
Not only was this match the return of The Fiend, but it was also the return of the red lighting during his matches. For me, it made the match far less enjoyable and, in a way, distracting.
The wrestling itself was ok, with The Fiend dominating the majority of it. Despite taking three DDTs from the ropes, a back body drop onto the announcer’s table, and being thrown headfirst into the jack-in-the-box by Orton, The Fiend showed little to no pain at all. In fact, it looked as though he barely felt anything. It seemed all but certain that The Fiend was going to defeat Orton until he was distracted by Bliss, who appeared with black goo running down her face. This distraction allowed Orton to capitalise and hit The Fiend with an RKO before pinning him to earn the victory.
This was a very disappointing result I felt. Despite making The Fiend look so strong, he fell easily. This was not only his comeback but also his first match in months. All of that, just to lose via distraction.
I guess this means Bliss has betrayed The Fiend. Or possibly something else is going? To be honest, I am not entirely sure. All I know is that Bray Wyatt lost another big match.
Women’s Tag Team Championship – Nia Jax and Shayna Bayzler (Champions) vs Natalya and Tamina
As we learned from Night One, it would be Natalya and Tamina who got a shot at the Women’s Tag Team Titles.
Despite there not being much of a storyline here, I enjoyed this match. There were a few big moments throughout, one of which was a nasty-looking knee from Bayzler that caught Natalya in the mouth. There was also a nice hot tag from Tamina which made her look very strong, even overpowering Bayzler’s Kirifuda Clutch at one point. It was quite clear that the fans were loving Tamina during the match. Another big spot was Jax’s crossbody from the top rope onto both Natalya and Tamina.
At the closing of the match, Natalya was able to secure the Sharpshooter onto Jax, however, she did not notice that Bayzler was the legal competitor. Bayzler was able to use this confusion and sneak into the ring to lock in the Kirifuda Clutch on Natalya, who was forced to tap out.
Although this match was good and the champions deserved to retain their titles, it did make the Tag Team Turmoil match seem a little meaningless. It merely felt like a way of throwing superstars onto the card. It would have been nicer to see a good build-up involving Natalya and Tamina.
A final note on this match – there was no Reginald, I guess that is good.
Kevin Owens vs Sami Zayn w/ Logan Paul
Following an average start to Night Two, this match was seen almost as a saving grace. Two superstars who have known each other for years, have great chemistry in and out of the ring, and can both deliver a great match. This was a feud that fans always expected to see at WrestleMania. Although, I am not sure people expected Logan Paul to be involved.
The match itself was very enjoyable, the two’s chemistry in the ring was apparent. Even in terms of history, we saw call-backs to their old NXT rivalry, with Sami Zayn going for a Helluva kick, only to be countered by a Super Kick from Kevin Owens. We also saw hints of their rivalry outside of WWE as Owens attempted to perform a Package Piledriver on Zayn before being countered.
In the end, it was Owens who secured up the victory by hitting Zayn with a Stunner and picking up the pinfall. This certainly will not be the last time we see these two compete against one another, but it was very nice to see them do it at WrestleMania.
Oh, and Owens hit Logan Paul with a Stunner that produced a good sell by the YouTube star.
United States Championship Match – Riddle (Champion) vs Sheamus
Just before this match, we saw Riddle, The Great Khali, and Rob Van Dam (RVD) all talking backstage. I highly doubted we would ever see these three together, but it was very enjoyable.
As for the match itself, it was pretty good. Both of these superstars are very good in the ring and have shown excellent work in recent months. Similar to the Tag Team Turmoil match, there was not too much of a storyline/ build-up here as the match itself was only announced two weeks ago.
Nonetheless, this was easily forgotten due to the high quality of wrestling/chemistry the two shared in the ring. There were some great spots throughout the match, one of which saw Riddle hit Sheamus with a Jackhammer. The best spot, however, was Sheamus countering Riddle’s springboard Moonsault with a Brogue Kick. Sheamus would then pick up the pinfall that meant the Irishman became the United States Champion.
I enjoyed this match – the two had great chemistry in the ring and put on a great display for the fans.
Intercontinental Championship Nigerian Drum Fight – Big E (Champion) vs Apollo Crews
This was the first-ever Nigerian Drum Fight in the history of WWE and it did not disappoint. Given how well both superstars have performed in recent weeks, it was very difficult to predict who was going to win. It really could have gone either way.
The was a hard-hitting match as both superstars went after one another. There was a varied use of weapons throughout the match such as kendo sticks, tables, and ring steps – no drums though unfortunately. At one point, Crews tried to sandwich Big E between two sets of ring steps on the outside of the ring. Fortunately, Big E moved and avoided this attack. Big E, in a way, got his revenge for this as he slammed Crews into the ring steps with a Uranage. Eventually, Crews attempted to close out the match by hitting a Splash onto Big E, who was lying on top of a table. As Crews leapt from the top rope, Big E moved, causing Crews to crash through the table. This allowed Big E to take advantage and hit the Big Ending. Just as it seemed like Big E was about to successfully retain his title, he was attacked by Dabba-Kato, who Choke Slammed Big E to the mat and moved Apollo on top of him to get the pinfall and secure the victory, thus becoming the new Intercontinental Champion.
This was a really good ending as it did not damage Big E’s reputation at all, whilst also rewarding Crews for his recent work both in and out of the ring. It also looks as though Dabba-Kato will be by Crews’ side from now on.
Raw Women’s Championship Match – Asuka (Champion) vs Rhea Ripley
What do these two competitors have in common? Well… they both lost to Charlotte at WrestleMania. More importantly, though, they are both fantastic wrestlers. And this match proved it.
The two gave it their all to walk out as Champion and pulled off some incredible moves along the way. A couple of nice spots included Rhea Ripley hitting Asuka with a nasty-looking reverse Alabama Slam onto the ring apron. Asuka soon got revenge for this by hitting Ripley with a DDT off the ring apron and onto the outside. It was clear how badly both superstars wanted the victory. Ripley – the cocky up-and-coming heel – played her part brilliantly throughout the match by not only delivering some great offensive moves but also by trash-talking Asuka during the match.
Ripley would ultimately come out on top by hitting Asuka with the Riptide and picking up the pinfall, consequently winning her first Raw Women’s Championship. A really good match and a well-deserved win for Ripley, I am sure this will be the start of a very good title run.
Night Two Main Event: WWE Universal Championship Triple Threat Match – Roman Reigns (Champion) vs Daniel Bryan vs Edge
This was one of the most unpredictable WrestleMania Main Events we have had in years. We were faced with three outcomes:
Would the champion, Roman Reigns, retain his title and continue his incredibly dominant run?
Would fan-favourite Daniel Bryan, who recovered from a career-ending injury a few years ago, win the title in what was perhaps his last chance?
Or would Edge, the 2021 Men’s Royal Rumble winner and the man who relinquished the World Heavyweight Championship a decade ago due to injury, return to the top of WWE?
This match was excellent in many ways. The wrestling was great, the build-up was great, and the storytelling was… yeah, great. The fact that both Bryan and Edge had retired due to injury and yet were able to recover and Main Event WrestleMania was truly inspiring.
The quality of wrestling was very high – as expected – and there were some excellent spots throughout. My personal favourite was when Bryan and Edge both had Reigns in a submission (Edge with a Crossface and Bryan with the Yes Lock) and then began to headbutt one another to gain the advantage – which is a little ironic given their previous injuries.
At the close of the match, Edge had set up a chair under both Bryan and Reigns’ heads. He delivered the Conchairto to Bryan – which looked devastating – but before he could do anything else, he was attacked by Jey Uso. This infuriated Edge, who soon delivered a Spear and a few chair shots to Uso. Reigns was able to pick himself up during this distraction and took advantage by hitting Edge with a Spear of his own and then a Conchairto. Reigns then pulled Edge on top of Bryan and pinned both men at once in what was an incredible ending to the match.
If someone told me a few years ago that we would see Reigns, Bryan and Edge wrestle in the Main Event of WrestleMania for a World Championship, I would have assumed it had taken place in a video game. Fortunately, it became a reality and the match itself was full of drama, excitement, and a lot of Spears.
Although Night Two was not as good as Night One, it was still very enjoyable and gave us some excellent wrestling. It was once again lovely to see fans back in the stadium who showed us what we have been missing these past 12 months. Interestingly, of the seven matches on Night Two, six of them were won by the heel(s). This was not a bad thing though by any means.
It was just a shame there was no Canadian Destroyer from Bad Bunny on Night Two.
Night Two Rating: 7.5/10