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KELLER’S WWE WRESTLEMANIA 37 REPORT
APRIL 11, 2021
TAMPA, FLA. AT RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM
AIRED LIVE ON PEACOCK NETWORK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Samoa Joe, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves
Ring Announcers: Mike Rome for Raw, Greg Hamilton for Smackdown
-Ashland Craft played guitar mid-ring and sang “America the Beautiful.” The wrestlers gathered on the stage.
-An introductory video package aired.
-More pyro blasted in the stadium. Then they showed fans cheering.
-Mike Rome introduced “Tampa’s own” Titus O’Neil and Hulk Hogan. They walked out in pirate outfits. They did some pirate talk and welcomed fans. They previewed the card with more pirate puns and terminology.
(Keller’s Analysis: There were audible cheers for Titus and contrasting boos for Hogan when they were speaking.)
-They went to Cole, Saxton, and Joe at ringside who briefly introduced themselves.
(1) RANDY ORTON vs. THE FIEND (w/Alexa Bliss)
Orton came out first. They showed Fiend at the start of a long tunnel. As he walked, he healed and lost the burns and charred remains and became “normal” again. Then Bliss danced to the ring. A gigantic Jack in the Box was rolled to ringside. Bliss cranked the handle and out popped Fiend, no longer burned to a crisp. Orton looked up at him and breathed deeply over and over in anticipation. Fiend took a running leap off the Jack in the Box onto Orton in the ring. He hit a uranage, then leaned upside down in the corner, then charged after 20 seconds. Orton rolled to the floor to regroup. Fiend went right after him. Orton dropped Fiend back-first on the announce desk, but Fiend popped up and applied a Mandible Claw. Orton pulled himself free as he rolled back into the ring. The ring was lit in red throughout
Fiend stared down at Orton, but Orton took control. He upkicked Fiend and then delivered a draping DDT. He stomped on Fiend’s hands, then punched away at him. Fiend no-sold it and stood and made grunting growling noises. He clotheslined Orton and then landed a running crossbody. Fiend went for a senton, but Orton moved. Orton threw front kicks and delivered another draping DDT. He pounded the mat and set up an RKO, but Fiend countered with another Mandible Claw. Orton dropped to his knees. Fiend set up Sister Abigail, but suddenly fire blasted from the turnbuckles. Bliss on the Jack in the Box began profusely leaking or sweating black liquid. Some fans chanted “Holy shit!” That distraction led to Orton hitting an RKO for the three count. Fiend and Orton looked over at Bliss. The lights went out, then back on, and everyone was gone.
WINNER: Orton in 6:00. (*1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: That was pretty flat and anticlimactic. No wonder they didn’t bother producing much hype for it this past week on Raw and Smackdown. For those who hated this whole thing, there’s relief that it’s over early. The in-ring payoff to this was so insubstantial, it’s going to work against anyone investing the Fiend character going forward, I think. I suppose on the bright side, in the interest of keeping the show of reasonable length, and given that anymore more added to the match might be seen as belaboring the point which was getting to that weird finish, I’m not sure I ultimately would have voted for it to go longer.)
-Hogan, Titus, and Eric Bischoff were chatting backstage about Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks. Bayley walked in and told Bischoff she’s a real fan of his podcast, but she invited him to be on her “Ding Dong Hello” show. Bischoff pitched having Bianca Belair on his podcast. Bayley said, “Bianca, Sasha, blah blah blah, they’re the flavor of the month.” She said they don’t have the length of title reign she had, they weren’t part of both nights of WrestleMania, and they don’t have their own show. Bischoff and Hogan excused themselves to go see Hogan’s “new boat.” Titus said he wanted to ride in the boat, too. He gave Bayley his pirate hat. She threw it down.
(2) NIA JAX & SHAYNA BASZLER vs. NATALYA & TAMINA – WWE Women’s Tag Team Title match
Natalya & Tamina came out first. The announcers commented on clips of Natalya & Tamina winning the Gauntlet Match the previous night. Baszler and Natalya opened against each other. They exchanged brief mat holds. Natalya leapfrogged Baszler and then went for an early sharpshooter. Baszler reached the bottom rope to force a break, then tagged out to Jax.
Jax called for Tamina to enter. They battled mid-ring. Tamina went for a bodyslam, but Jax resisted. Jax took control. Natalya entered and together they backdropped Jax. Baszler, meanwhile, blind-tagged in and kicked Natalya in the head. Natalya and Tamina dropped Baszler onto Jax. Baszler caught Natalya with an inside cradle. Baszler and Jax beat up Natalya for several minutes until Natalya avoided a charging Jax, who went shoulder-first into the ringpost. Natalya took Jax down with a discus clothesline. Jax came back and slammed Natalya for a near fall. Tamina was late with the save, so Natalya just lifted her shoulder.
Baszler controlled Tamina until Tamina came back with a Samoan drop for a near fall. Tamina climbed to the top rope, but Baszler got up and tagged in Jax. Jax then set up a top rope Samoan drop on Tamina. Natalya broke that up. Jax leaped off the top rope onto both Natalya and Tamina, who had to cartoonishly stand there and make faces and wait for her to leap.
Jax and Tamina battled next. Jax said, “I’m King Kong, bitch. What’ve you got?” Tamina then bodyslammed Jax for a two count. The crowd popped. Tamina went for a top rope Superfly Splash, but Jax moved and Tamina crashed on the mat. Both were slow to get up. Tamina crawled over and tagged in Natalya. Jax stood and tagged in Baszler. Natalya knocked Baszler to the floor and went for a sharpshooter on Jax. Cole said Baszler is legal. Natalya applied it mid-ring. Since Jax wasn’t legal, Baszler entered and put Natalya in a Kirafuda Clutch. Natalya’s arm went limp. Graves praised the “respectable performance” of Natalya & Tamina.
WINNERS: Jax & Baszler in 14:00 to retain the Women’s Tag Team Titles. (**1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Pretty good tag match, actually. The length was ambitious at best, but the crowd was into the match, seemingly more for the spectacle than having a favorite team.)
-A video package aired on the Sami Zayn-Kevin Owens feud with Logan Paul.
(3) SAMI ZAYN (w/Logan Paul) vs. KEVIN OWENS
JBL joined the announcers on commentary. Sami made his ring entrance and enthusiastically introduced Logan Paul. Graves said finally someone understands Sami. Cole brought up how Sami trying to visit Logan at his boxing gym didn’t go well. Logan hugged Sami when he entered the ring. KO made his ring entrance and went right after Sami. Graves said Sami wasn’t ready for that. Sami briefly fought back at ringside, but KO took over again. He landed a cannonball and climbed to the top rope, but Sami rolled to ringside. Sami set up a move on the ring apron, but KO elbowed out of it and then suplexed KO on the ring apron. They showed Paul gasping at ringside. Graves said the ref should call off the match because nobody’s getting up from that.
They battled back and forth for several minutes, hitting signature spots and scoring two counts. Sami gave KO an exploder suplex into the corner. KO avoided a Helluva kick, but Sami landed a quick Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall. Sami landed another exploder into the corner. He landed a brainbuster for a two count. Fans chanted “This is awesome!” KO countered Sami on the top rope and landed a fisherman suplex onto the mat. They showed Logan looking deflated at ringside. KO ran at Sami in the corner, but Sami landed a Helluva Kick. KO caught a charging Sami with a superkick, then another. Owens had some final words for Sami, and landed a Stunner for the win. Logan shook his head at ringside. Graves asked, “How will the world ever know the truth now?”
WINNER: Owens in 10:00. (***)
(Keller’s Analysis: These two are good for three stars almost no matter what. They didn’t get enough time to have a truly special match, but everything they did was good. Given their history, it’s cool and fitting they got to have this match in this setting.)
-After the match, Logan offered a handshake to Owens. Sami protested and said he’s his guest of honor and he shouldn’t be doing that. Logan didn’t like Sami yelling at him and he shoved Sami. Sami stormed off. Logan then raised KO’s arm. The crowd booed Logan. Owens looked at his arm and didn’t look at all pleased. The crowd began cheering as they realized what KO was thinking. Then they chanted “Yes! Yes!” KO gave him a Stunner. Logan took a big bump for it. KO celebrated again as his music played. Cole said, “Hashtag Down Goes Logan.” Graves told Cole to stay off social media forever. They showed Logan being helped out of the ring.
-Riddle scootered up to Great Khali and Ranjin Singh. He congratulated Khali for the Hall of Fame and asked to see his ring. Riddle was amazed at the size of his hand. He said he should open a store and sell giant things including giant scooters. Khali stood and stared. Riddle asked for a translator. RVD said for the store to work, they’d need creative marketing such a RVD rolling papers. RVD wished Riddle luck against Sheamus.
(Keller’s Analysis: If Riddle and RVD are in the same building with TV cameras, they need to do a skit with them together.)
(4) RIDDLE vs. SHEAMUS – U.S. Title match
Riddle threw early chops and then applied an early sleeper. Sheamus back Riddle into the corner to break free. Sheamus caught a leaping Riddle and slammed him hard to the mat for an early soft two count. A minute later Sheamus climbed to the top rope. Riddle quickly met him up there and gave him a belly-to-belly to the mat. Both were slow to get up. Riddle landed a Bro-ton a minute later, then landed a brute-force power suplex for a near fall.
Riddle threw some kicks to Sheamus’s head, but when Riddle went for a handspring move, Sheamus landed a knee to Riddle’s head and scored a two count. Sheamus landed an Alabama Slam next. They fought on the ring apron where Riddle shoved Sheamus into the ringpost. Riddle suplexed Sheamus onto the ring apron. He landed a running knee to Sheamus’s chin, then flip dove onto Sheamus on the floor. Riddle landed a twisting splash off the top rope onto Sheamus for a near fall. He shifted to a headlock and armbar combo on the mat. Sheamus lifted Riddle and slammed him to break the hold. Riddle applied a quick sleeper. Sheamus reached the bottom rope, then pounded away at Riddle.
Sheamus looked around like he was enjoying himself. He lifted Riddle onto his shoulders and climbed to the second rope. Riddle broke free and set up a move, but Sheamus blocked it and lifted Riddle back onto his shoulders. Sheamus landed White Noise, followed by a flying knee for a near fall at 10:00. Sheamus then kicked Riddle out of mid-air after a second rope springboard flip dive and scored a three count. Cole said it was creative offense by the now three-time U.S. Champion. Riddle sat up a bloodied mouth as Sheamus smiled down at him with the belt.
WINNER: Sheamus in 11:00 to capture the U.S. Title. (***1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: Once these two landed on the same brand, this was a match I said I was looking forward to seeing. It didn’t let me down. They both like physical fights. Sheamus has always welcomed hard-hitting matches and sometimes delivered unwelcome stiff offense. Riddle comes from MMA and is used to getting hit and dishing it out. This was real looking a lot of the time.)
-A commercial aired with Triple H and Bad Bunny advertising his 2022 tour February 9 through April 1 next year.
-A video package aired on the Big E-Crews feud.
(5) BIG E vs. APOLLO CREWS – Nigerian Drum match for the Intercontinental Title
Wale performed Big E’s entrance theme live. Apollo then came out with a giant stick weapon of some sort. There were drums and cymbals at ringside. Cole said this is no holds barred. They each hit each other with kendo sticks to start. Big E dove through the ropes and speared Crews off the ring apron hard to the mat at ringside. He scored a two count back in the ring.
Big E set up the base of the steps at ringside. Crews recovered and gave Big E a Death Valley Driver on the ring apron. He scored a two count. Crews grabbed the top of the ringside steps and brought them onto the ring apron. He threw Big E onto the base of the steps, then lifted the top part and threw them down at Big E, but Big E moved out of the way. Big E then gave Crews a uranage suplex off the ring apron onto the base of the steps.
Big E set up a table in the corner of the ring. Crews returned to the ring and kicked Big E in the face, then battered him with a kendo stick. He went for a top rope splash, but Big E moved and Crews crashed through the table. Big E gave Crews a Big Ending. A big mystery wrestler entered the ring and beat up Big E. He chokeslammed him and put Crews over Big E. The ref counted to three.
WINNER: Crews in 7:00 to capture the IC Title. (**1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: It was intense for a while, but ended with a finish that made the action preceding it seem more a formality. That said, in the interest of keeping WrestleMania around three total hours, I understand the decision to pack a lot of intense big spots int0 six minutes and then go to the angle with the new wrestler. The longer the night goes, and the more matches that clock in around 8-11 minutes, the more crazy the 14 minutes allotted to the Women’s Tag Team Title match seems, though.)
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-A lengthy video recap aired of Night 1 of WrestleMania 37.
-The Steve Austin commercial aired with him hyping WrestleMania 38 in Dallas, Tex.
-They went to Cole and Graves at ringside who threw to a Hall of Fame 2021 video package. The 2021 Class stood on the stage.
-A video package aired on the Asuka-Rhea Ripley match.
(6) ASUKA vs. RHEA RIPLEY – Raw Title match
Aah Costello of New Year’s Day performed Ripley’s entrance theme. A ton of pyro and fire shot up on the set for Ripey’s entrance. Ripley looked the part of a big star and the live performance and stage pyro added to her coming across as a big star. Asuka then made her ring entrance. Cole talked about Asuka having a mean streak a mile wide. Cole said Ripley wants to be a different kind of champion, someone who doesn’t fit in because she hates fitting in. Rome did formal ring introductions.
Asuka landed a dropkick seconds into the match. Ripley no-sold it. Asuka fired a barrage of kicks and then rolled up Ripley for a one count. Ripley avoided a charging Asuka and then charged at Asuka, but Asuka moved too. Ripley regrouped at ringside. Asuka kneed Ripley in the face at ringside, then kicked away at her in the ring. She went for a hip attack, but Ripley moved. Ripley took over and applied a body scissors.
A couple minutes later, Asuka countered with a leglock mid-ring. Ripley yelled in pain, but powered up and back suplexed Asuka for a two count. As Ripley methodically attacked Asuka, Cole said this is the pace Ripley wants. Joe said a slow agonizing grind is Ripley’s plan. Ripley dropped Asuka face-first over the edge of the ring apron. The pace here seemed intentionally designed to bring the crowd down before the main event. Asuka came back with a DDT off the ring apron. Ripley beat the count at seven.
Asuka went for a quick cover and got a two count. Asuka applied an armbar. Ripley slung Asuka into the corner to break the hold. Asuka applied it again a minute later, then shifted into an Asuka lock attempt. Ripley twisted Asuka’s shoulders down for a near fall. Asuka threw some kicks at a kneeling Ripley’s chest. Ripley encouraged more, then ducked Asuka’s running knee. She then hit a quick Rip Tide to get the three count.
WINNER: Ripley in 14:00 to capture the Raw Title. (***)
(Keller’s Analysis: Good match. I want to rate it higher, but the crowd was pretty tepid and the pace was pretty deliberate at times. I think it was slower by design to give the crowd a breather before the big main event. The finish came out of nowhere which sometimes works well, but given the suddenness of this match being booked and thus a lack of build, even Ripley winning felt less special than it could have. This WrestleMania might be remembered as the night when two long-term future pillars of the WWE Women’s Division were crowned champions, though. If Becky Lynch shows up to challenge Ripley, that could cement Ripley as a huge star, but it could also define her down as a transitional champions, too.)
-A commercial aired for Bob Odenkirk new movie, “Nobody,” streaming on Apr. 16. He’s best known as “Saul Goodman” from “Breaking Bad” and “Better Call Saul.”
-Titus and Hogan walked onto the stage and thanked everyone for watching. Bayley interrupted and complained that they forgot to thank her. She yelled, “Where’s my pyro?” Some pyro blasted. She smiled and laughed. She said she’d had to deal with idiots all weekend like Michael Cole walking all over her. She said this is her time to shine. The Bellas’ theme music interrupted and they walked out. Bayley told them not to talk because this is her time to shine. Bayley said John Cena is not here tonight. They slapped the mic out of her hands and beat her up, saying “Ding Dong, Good Bye.” The crowd booed the Bellas. Titus and Hogan raised the arms of the Bellas on the stage. More boos.
-A video package aired on the main event.
(7) ROMAN REIGNS (w/Paul Heyman, Jey Uso) vs. EDGE vs. DANIEL BRYAN – WWE Universal Title match
Bryan came out first. Then Edge, who got a big pop. Before Reigns’s music, after Edge’s music stopped, there were boos. Then the music hit and there were boos and minimal cheers. Reigns walked onto the stage with Heyman and Jey. Reigns raised his title belt in the air and crazy pryo blasted for an intense five seconds. Greg Hamilton did formal ring introductions. Edge was introduced first to what sounded like a polite but not overwhelming reaction, although reports from in the building indicated Edge was the most cheered of the three. Bryan got a loud “Yes!” chant and cheers. Then Reigns, who was booed.
Reigns went after Bryan at the bell, surprising him with a running forearm. Edge went after Reigns, but Reigns drove his shoulder into him in the corner. Bryan fought back with some uppercuts against Reigns, but Reigns threw Bryan to the floor where Jey superkicked him. Reigns threw Edge to the floor where Jey superkicked him too. Reigns and Jey cleared the announce desk. Edge attacked Reigns at ringside. He threw him around ringside and into the ringpost. Edge huffed and puffed. Edge set up the base of the ringside steps and gave Jey a faceplant onto the steps. Medics checked on Jey, helping him to his feet.
With Reigns down at ringside, Bryan and Edge battled. Cole and Graves said this could end without Reigns involved. Edge got a near fall against Bryan. Reigns returned to the ring apron and battled with Edge. Bryan yanked Reigns off the ring apron, then returned to the ring and went after Edge, landing a top rope dropkick. He showed fire. Bryan dove through the ropes at Reigns, but Reigns caught him and gave him an overhead suplex at ringside.
Edge and Reigns battled in the ring. Reigns hit a clothesline. Reigns countered an Edge spear with a Superman punch. Reigns went for a spear, but Edge countered with a faceplant DDT. Edge and Reigns speared each other out of mid-air. Both were down. Bryan entered and landed a diving headbutt on Edge for a two count. Then he hit a diving headbutt on Reigns for a near fall. Everyone was down and slow to get up.
Bryan stood and threw Yes kicks at Edge and Reigns, back and forth. He scored a two count on Reigns. Bryan applied a Yes Lock on Reigns. Heyman looked worried at ringside. Heyman encouraged Edge to break it up. Edge broke it up. Bryan shifted to a Yes Lock on Edge. Edge teased tapping. Reigns broke it up. Reigns powerbombed Bryan onto Edge. At ringside, Reigns stood on the base of the steps and powerbombed Bryan through the table. As Reigns gloated, Edge speared him off the steps and onto the ringside mat.
Back in the ring, they battled over a chair, which fell apart. Edge threw Reigns throat-first into the top rope. Reigns gasped for breath as Edge applied a crossface mid-ring. Edge used the chair piece in Reign’s mouth. Reigns entered to block Reigns from tapping out. Bryan applied a Yes Lock as Edge was holding on. Edge and Bryan then headbutted each other. Reigns looked passed out as Bryan and Edge fought each other. A “This is awesome!” chant broke out. Bryan charged at Edge. Edge speared Reigns and had an apparent inevitable win, but Bryan yanked the ref out of the ring before he could hit three. The announcers stressed it was legal. Cole said Edge was about to lose it.
Edge bashed Bryan across the back with a chair. Edge had a crazed look. He entered the ring and bashed Reigns and Bryan with the chair over and over. Fans stood at ringside and enjoyed the brutality. “An unhinged Edge!” said Cole. Edge put Bryan’s head on a chair. Then he put Reigns’s head on a chair. The cheering crowd got more subdued. Edge bashed Bryan across the back of his head. Jey lunged into the ring and blocked Edge from hitting Reigns. Edge speared Jey and bashed him across the back. Reigns got up and speared Edge. Instead of going for the pin, he put a chair under Edge’s head. He then picked up the chair and bashed Edge’s head. He then dragged Edge onto Bryan and then covered both and got the three count. The finish came 17 minutes past the end of the third hour of the show.
WINNER: Reigns in 22:00 to retain the Universal Title. (****1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Edge technically had Bryan covered too. Hmmm. Really good match. This was the match the crowd was waiting for all night. Their reactions made that clear. Edge was mega-over. I think fans are going to want to see a one-on-one match with Edge challenging Reigns.)