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LECLAIR’S WWE WRESTLEMANIA 37 NIGHT 2 REPORT
APRIL 11, 2021
TAMPA, FL AT RAYMOND JAMES STADIUM
AIRED LIVE ON PEACOCK
Announcers: Michael Cole, Byron Saxton, Samoa Joe, Corey Graves (various teams)
-After the standard show opening, Mike Rome introduced country artist Ashland Craft to perform “America the Beautiful.” The broadcast cut back to footage of the roster standing on the stage from last night’s show. A military flyover proceeded a fireworks display from the entrance.
-An opening video package aired containing footage from night one, then gave way to a repeat of last night’s cold open with footage previewing tonight’s card.
-Pyro shot from above, below, and behind the stage and all around Raymond James Stadium as the crowd roared. Mike Rome welcomed the co-hosts of WrestleMania, Titus O’Neil and Hulk Hogan.
Hogan and O’Neil walked onto the stage in admittedly ridiculous pirate costumes. Titus said he thinks they look “damn good.” Hogan agreed, but said it’s a little hot. They welcomed the audience to WrestleMania Sunday. Hogan said last night was unbelievable and tonight will be no different. Titus said they have seven spectacular matches, and Hogan said five of them are title matches.
They engaged in horribly forced pirate talk. Hogan asked O’Neil if he planned on making him walk the plank. They said their first match is a “tale of terror.”
-Michael Cole, Byron Saxton and Samoa Joe welcomed the audience to WrestleMania night 2. Cole said the skies have cleared. Byron said he hopes his microphone survives the night.
-Randy Orton’s music hit and he sauntered onto the stage, sporting brand new white trunks. Cole said Orton is “in a mood”, being in the strangest rivalry of his career. Orton wiped his boots on the mats near ringside before taking stock of the audience and stepping into the ring slowly. Orton took his time pacing around the ring and posing on the turnbuckle. His arm taunt garnered a strong pop from the crowd. Fireworks filled the space behind him.
Michael Cole tossed to a video package highlighting Orton and The Fiend’s rivalry.
The Fiend was shown at the end of a long, dimly lit hallway. As we walked toward the camera, bad special effects covered his body and healed his charred face and body. The original Fiend emerged from the CGI. Back in front of the crowd, “Let Me In” displayed in lights above the pirate ship entrance. The Firefly Funhouse music played and Alexa Bliss skipped onto the stage, waving to the crowd.
The camera panned around Bliss to reveal a giant Jack in the Box positioned at ringside. Bliss stood by the handle, taunting Orton. She spun the handle. “Pop Goes the Weasel” played. When it completed, The Fiend’s music played and he rose slowly from the box. The entire stadium was bathed in red. Orton looked on in utter shock and confusion. The Fiend paced around the box, then dove into the ring, dropping Randy Orton with a flying clothesline.
(1) RANDY ORTON vs. “THE FIEND” BRAY WYATT (w/ Alexa Bliss)
The referee called for the bell immediately. The Fiend twisted Orton’s neck. The camera zoomed in on his face. Wyatt shook with rage, screaming. Cole said that he’s been “restored.” The Fiend played to the crowd, headed to the corner and hung upside down. He waited for Orton to stand, stalking him. Wyatt charged, but Orton slid to the outside. The crowd booed.
The Fiend left the ring to meet Orton. Randy surprised him with a backdrop onto the table, but The Fiend shot up and grabbed the Mandible Claw. Orton managed to slide into the ring to break the count and the claw. Orton caught Wyatt on the apron and hit the hangman’s DDT. The Fiend shot up again. Orton went for the RKO, but Wyatt shoved him away. Orton tossed Wyatt face first into the box at ringside. He set up and hit second hangman’s DDT.
Wyatt rose to his knees. Orton punched him several times, but The Fiend just shook it off. He threw his body at Orton and fired off a series of elbows. Wyatt went for a senton, but Orton moved. He tossed Wyatt to the outside again. Wyatt quickly returned to the apron. Orton hit a third hangman’s DDT. The Fiend stayed down this time. Orton pounded the mat for the RKO. He went for it, but Wyatt grabbed the Mandible Claw. Orton collapsed to his knees. Wyatt let him go and kissed Orton’s forehead, putting him in position for Sister Abigail.
Flames exploded from the turnbuckles. Alexa Bliss appeared atop the box, spouting black goo from her head. She stared blankly at The Fiend. The Fiend looked on at Bliss and reached out to her. Orton spun Fiend around and hit the RKO and covered him for a three count.
WINNER: Randy Orton in 6:00
Orton left ringside in a hurry. Bliss continued to stare down The Fiend, who returned to his feet to meet her gaze. The lights shut off. When they returned, Bliss and The Fiend were gone. The crowd booed.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Well, this was about as bad as you probably expected. At least it was quick. Very quick. There was too little of a match to judge the merits of the in-ring content. Instead, we have to laugh at the fact that The Fiend was suddenly “healed” in the long hallway he walked through before the match. I’m not sure what the motivation was there – I thought they were going for a new, more sinister look for the charred Fiend. Instead, they inexplicably healed him in a comically bad scene of CGI. The Fiend can’t possibly be taken seriously if all he ever does is lose. Bliss’ senseless “turn” just means we’ve got to see this angle go on even longer.)
-Bayley approached Titus O’Neil, Hulk Hogan, and Eric Bischoff backstage. She wondered they they ignored her texts and calls last night. Bayley invited Bischoff to come on her show. Eric said he’s more of a book guy, but he’d love to have Bianca Belair on his show. Bayley called them the flavors of the month, and said they’re not the consistent role model she is. Bischoff and Hogan made up an excuse about about a boat and wandered off. Titus followed.
-Natalya and Tamina headed to the ring for their Women’s Tag Team title match. Michael Cole welcomed Corey Graves to the commentary table. They talked about Nattie and Tamina’s win last night. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler headed to the ring.
(2) NIA JAX & SHAYNA BASZLER (c) vs. NATALYA & TAMINA – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
Natalya began the match with Shayna Baszler. They locked up in the center. Natalya took Baszler to the mat, but Shayna quickly kipped to her feet. Baszler executed a side headlock takedown of her own. The two women wrestled back to their feet. Shayna caught Nattie with a quick shoulder takedown. Nattie popped up, took Baszler down, and went for the Sharpshooter early. Shayna quickly pulled herself to the ropes and tagged in Nia Jax.
Nia Jax locked up with Natalya and shoved her to the mat. She challenged Nattie to tag in Tamina. Nattie obliged. Tamina stepped in the ring slowly. The crowd gave her a respectful chant. She and Nia traded quick headbutts. Nia told Tamina to “lay it in.” They traded punches. Tamina tagged in Nattie. Nia elbowed both of them in the face and tagged in Baszler.
Nattie and Tamina managed to double team suplex Jax. They tossed Baszler on top of her. Nattie covered Shayna for a two count, then tagged in Tamina. Tamina dropped Baszler with a quick clothesline, then tagged out again. Natalya catapulted Baszler right into a super kick from Tamina. Nattie covered for a near fall.
Nattie went for a body slam, but Baszler slid out of it. She caught Natalya square in the jaw with a knee. On the outside, Nia Jax gave Tamina a bodyslam. In the ring, Baszler covered Natalya for a two count. Baszler grabbed a knee bar, then began torquing the ankle and foot. Nattie used her free leg to kick out of it, but Shayna stomped on Nattie’s ankle and tagged in Jax.
Nia continued to work on Nattie’s leg while the crowd booed her heavily. Jax covered for a two count. Nattie tried to fight back with punches, but Jax shrugged them off and tagged in Baszler. Jax lifted Nattie and set her up for anther kick to the face from Baszler. Shayna continued punishing Nattie’s leg.
Baszler tagged in Jax, who hit a quick slam. Nattie retreated to the corner. Jax charged, but Nattie moved, sending Nia shoulder first into the ring post. Nattie took her down with a clothesline and covered for a two count. Nattie asked for support from the crowd. Jax gave Nattie a power bomb and covered her, but Tamina broke up the count just in time. Jax tagged in Baszler, Nattie tagged in Tamina.
Tamina dropped Baszler with a dragon screw. She tried to kick Shayna in the face, but Shayna caught her ankle and twisted it. Baszler went for the clutch, but Tamina countered into a Samoan Drop for a near fall. Tamina climbed to the top rope, but Baszler caught her with a kick and tagged in Nia Jax. Jax went to grab Tamina from the top, but Nattie stopped her. Tamina fought Jax off the top. Jax hit a cross body on both Nattie and Tamina, covering for a near fall.
Jax talked trash to Tamina. “You ain’t shit!” she declared. The censor missed it. “I’m King Kong, bitch!” she continued. Tamina punched Nia in the face and gave her a bodyslam. She hooked the leg, but Nia kicked out at two. Another “Tamina” chant broke out. Tamina climbed to the top rope and went for the Superfly Splash, but Nia rolled out of the way. Both women crawled to their feet. Tamina tagged in Natalya. Jax reached Baszler, but Natalya didn’t see it. Natalya applied the Sharpshooter to Jax. Shayna emerged and grabbed the Kirifuda Clutch on Nattie. Natalya passed out quickly and the ref called for the bell.
WINNERS: Nia Jax & Shayna Baszler in 14:00 to retain the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships
(LeClair’s Analysis: This wasn’t a great match by any stretch, but these women did what they could with a feud that was largely created on Friday’s Smackdown. Nattie and Tamina have been the only women’s tag team with any momentum, so it made sense to put them in this spot, despite both teams being heels. The crowd was into Tamina, especially, which is surprising given the lack of interest in her character throughout her career. This may have gone a little longer than it needed to, given its relative position on the card, but everything outside of the slow few minutes in the middle were passable enough.)
-Following the teaser for WWE 2K22, Michael Cole and Corey Graves reset at ringside, turning their focus to Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn. Cole tossed to a video package covering their rivalry.
Cole and Graves welcomed JBL to the commentary booth. Sami Zayn headed to the ring. The fans sang along with his theme. Sami Zayn welcomed Logan Paul, who received a mixed reaction. Kevin Owens headed to the ring to a huge response from the crowd. Owens was clearly fired up. Owens posed for the crowd on the turnbuckles and got in Sami’s face. Logan Paul took a seat at ringside.
(3) SAMI ZAYN (w/ Logan Paul) vs. KEVIN OWENS
Sami Zayn charged at Kevin Owens, who caught him with a Pop-Up Powerbomb right out of the gate. Zayn rolled to the outside. Owens followed up and went for an apron Powerbomb, but Zayn elbowed free and returned to the ring. KO stayed in pursuit, suplexing Sami onto the ropes.
Zayn stumbled around the ring. Owens clotheslined him into the corner and hit a cannonball. Owens climbed to the top rope, but Sami escaped to the apron. Owens climbed down and got caught with a boot to the face from Zayn. Zayn gave Owens a brainbuster on the apron. Sami crawled back in the ring while Jessika Carr counted Owens. KO eventually broke the count, but Zayn continued to beat him down. Paul watched on from ringside. The crowd booed him each time he was shown. Sami hit KO with a quick driver for a two count.
Sami hoisted Owens onto the top turnbuckle and attempted a superplex, but KO blocked it. He and Sami traded punches. Owens eventually knocked Sami to the mat with a pair of headbutts. He followed with a frog splash for a near fall. Owens went for a second Pop Up Powerbomb, but Zayn countered out. Owens instead caught Zayn with a Fisherman Buster. He set up for the package piledriver, but Zayn fought out of it and hit KO with an exploder suplex into the corner. Zayn went for a Helluva Kick, but Owens ducked it. Zayn stayed on the offensive, catching Owens with the Blue Thunder Bomb for a near fall.
Owens pulled himself to his feet. Sami hit him with another exploder suplex into the corner, then a brainbuster for a close near fall. Zayn tossed Owens into the corner and slapped him across the face repeatedly. Sami lifted Owens to the top and elbowed him in the chest. Zayn went for a superplex, but Owens blocked it and hit a top rope Fisherman suplex. Both men struggled to their feet. Owens tossed Zayn to the corner and hit a running clothesline. He turned his back to run for a second, but Zayn followed him out and nailed the Helluva Kick. Zayn positioned Owens for a second, but KO caught him with a super kick out of the corner.
KO hit a second super kick, then dragged Sami to his feet and gave him a stunner. Owens covered him for a three count.
WINNER: Kevin Owens in 9:00
Logan Paul checked on Sami Zayn while Kevin Owens celebrated. Paul approached Owens and offered him a handshake. Sami shoved Paul and called Owens the enemy. Paul shoved Sami to the mat. The crowd booed. Sami left. Logan Paul raised KO’s arm. The crowd booed louder. Owens looked disgusted. KO looked around at the crowd and laughed. They laughed with him. Owens gave Logan Paul a stunner. The crowd exploded.
(LeClair’s Analysis: It seems like this entire angle was built around Logan Paul eating a stunner from Kevin Owens. You knew it was going to happen from the moment it got announced, and evidently, so did the crowd. The match was good, just as you’d expect from KO and Sami Zayn. It wasn’t their best encounter, but it didn’t have time to be that. It was a well-structured, quick affair that accomplished what it needed to within the context of this show. Unlike Bad Bunny, I disagreed with involving Logan Paul here – especially given his recent controversies. I’m curious as to whether or not there winds up being reports of any metrics impacted positively by his presence, but I get the sense that the audience was not at all thrilled to see him tonight.)
-Riddle was shown scooting down a hallway backstage. He happened upon The Great Khali. He asked to see Khali’s ring, and said his hand is the size of his own head. Riddle suggested Khali open up his own store with giant products, especially giant scooters. Khali just looked on, dumbfounded and smiling. Riddle asked for a translator. RVD wandered into frame. Van Dam said they’re going to need some creative products. He suggested his own rolling papers. Riddle was excited about that. Van Dam wished Riddle luck against Sheamus. Riddle thanked him and gave he and Khali a fist bump.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Let’s be honest, failing to put Riddle and RVD on screen together when you had them under the same roof would’ve been quite the missed opportunity, so, kudos, I guess.)
-Sheamus headed to the ring for his United States Championship match. Cole tossed to a quick set of clips highlighting this recently established rivalry. Riddle headed to the ring to a modest reaction. Doves wearing pirate hates flew from his feet as he kicked off his sandals.
(4) RIDDLE (c) vs. SHEAMUS – WWE United States Championship Match
Sheamus took down Riddle right out of the gate and went to work on his leg. Riddle wrestled his way out of it and began elbowing Sheamus into the corner. Sheamus tagged Riddle with a hard shot to the stomach. Sheamus went for a bodyslam, but Riddle slid down the back and grabbed a mounted sleeper hold. Sheamus dumped Riddle into the corner to break it up.
Riddle and Sheamus traded more elbows. Sheamus got the better of the champion with spin-out side slam. He followed it up with the Irish Curse backbreaker for a two count. Riddle fought to his feet and fired off more elbows, cornering the challenger. Sheamus turned the tide, but Riddle managed to hook Sheamus over the ropes with his legs, applying an arm stretch until the referee forced a break.
Sheamus managed to catch Riddle on the apron and turned him around for the Ten Beats of the Bodhran. Riddle fell back into the ring and kicked out of a pin attempt at two. Sheamus climbed to the top rope, but Riddle leapt up to meet him. Riddle hit an overhead belly to belly, flipping himself in the process. Riddle and Sheamus rose to their feet slowly, trading punches again.Riddle caught Sheamus with a running elbow in the corner, then a senton. He looked around at the crowd and hooked Sheamus for a suplex, but Sheamus dead-weighted him. Riddle reset and finally hit a Jackhammer, covering for a two count.
Riddle set up for Bro-Derek, but Sheamus fought out of it and dumped Riddle onto the apron. Riddle connected with a kick and flipped back in the ring, directly in to the waiting knee of Sheamus. Sheamus covered for a near fall. Sheamus followed it up with an Alabama Slam for another two count. Riddle fell out to the apron. Sheamus set him up for White Noise out there, but Riddle slid out of it and drove Sheamus into the ring post. Sheamus fell to the floor. Riddle connected with a springboard moonsault off the middle rope to Sheamus on the outside.
Back in the ring, Riddle hit the Floating Bro for a near fall. He grabbed a reverse arm bar in the center of the ring. Sheamus powered to his feet, deadlifted Riddle into the air, and broke the hold with a massive Powerbomb. Sheamus covered, but Riddle kicked out and immediately grabbed a sleeper hold. Sheamus was close enough to immediately reach and grab the ropes.
Sheamus scooped Riddle up for White Noise, but smiled and climbed to the top rope with him. Riddle slid out of it, but collapsed to the mat. Sheamus got himself turned around. Riddle shot to the top to meet him. Sheamus grabbed Riddle for White Noise again, but both men slipped. Sheamus held his grip and hit a normal White Noise. He climbed to the top rope and hit a diving knee to chest, covering Riddle for a near fall.
Riddle rolled around the mat while Sheamus called for the Brogue Kick. He pumped, but Riddle ducked it and went for a springboard moonsault. Sheamus caught him with a Brogue Kick, upside down in mid-air and covered him for a three count.
WINNER: Sheamus in 11:00
Sheamus laughed in Riddle’s face after the match. Riddle was bleeding badly from the mouth.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Really good match, even with the awkward looking White Noise botch near the end. The finish was expertly timed and looked brutal. These two beat the hell out of each other, as one would expect. Riddle’s character has been an complete and total mess since coming to the main roster, and it’s never for a second felt like he was being taken seriously. With that in mind, I don’t think it’s a bad move to move the title onto a more serious act like Sheamus, who continues to have impressive matches on a regular basis. It’s time to take a hard look at the Riddle character and decide what, if anything, they hope to do with him.)
-Triple H was featured in a commercial for Bad Bunny’s 2022 tour. H met Bunny on the road and handed him a silver skull microphone. Bunny accepted the gift and climbed onto the tractor trailer he used last night. They flashed the dates on the screen at the end of the ad.
-Michael Cole and Corey Graves tossed to a video package covering the feud between Big E and Apollo Crews.
Greg Hamilton welcomed Wale to perform Big E’s entrance theme. Big E emerged from the back and shared a moment with Wale as he performed. The crowd gave him an strong reception as he held up the Intercontinental title in the ring. Graves said E has home field advantage tonight. Apollo Crews followed. Graves said Crews wants to spoil things for Big E, Wale, and the entire WWE Universe.
The ringside area was littered with tables, drums, gongs, and kendo sticks. Cole and Graves explained the match, which essentially equates to a no holds barred match.
(5) BIG E (c) vs. APOLLO CREWS – Nigerian Drum Fight for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Both Big E and Apollo Crews immediately rolled to the outside of the ring to retrieve weapons. Both men came back with kendo sticks. They teed off on each other, trading shots back and forth with the sticks before Apollo Crews eventually left the ring to regroup. Big E followed him, continuing to crack the stick over Crews’ chest and back.
Big E retrieved a gong. Crews kicked it out of his hand and dropped E with a kendo stick. They slid back in the ring. Big E tossed Crews to the apron and speared him through the middle rope all the way to the floor. E quickly tossed Crews back in the ring and covered him for a two count. The crowd broke into a “let’s go Big E” chant.
E retrieved the steel steps from ringside. He set them up near the apron and went to get Crews, who sprang to life and gave E a Death Valley Driver on the ring apron. Crews rolled the champion into the ring and covered him for a two count. Apollo grabbed the second half of the steel steps and began positioning it to his liking on the outside. He tossed Big E on the bottom half of the steps, then tried to drop the top half on top of him. Big E rolled out of the way. Crews still managed to kick E in the face. He went for a second, but E caught Crews and gave him an Uranagi onto the steel steps.
“You’re gonna get everything you asked for!” Big E exclaimed as he slid a table into the ring. Crews struggled to compose himself at ringside. E set up the table near the corner the ring then went outside to fetch Apollo. Once inside, Crews caught E with an enziguri. He grabbed a kendo stick and cracked it over Big E’s back in rapid-fire fashion. Crews tossed Big E onto the table and climbed to the top rope. Crews went for a splash, but Big E rolled off the table. Crews crashed through the table.
Big E grabbed Crews and hit the Big Ending. Suddenly, E was attacked from behind by a massive, unnamed assailant (Dabba Kato.) He gave Big E a choke slam and dragged Crews on top of E for a three count.
WINNER: Apollo Crews in 7:00 to win the WWE Intercontinental Championship
(LeClair’s Analysis: I really hoped, after a several match series consisting of shorter-than-average matches, we’d get a long send off tonight with a big victory for Big E. Instead, we got the exact opposite. A short match with a tainted victory for Crews that will undoubtedly further this rivalry. I understand that there’s value in the chase, and I appreciate the rejuvenation bestowed upon Crews in recent months, but I just think a big victory at WrestleMania for Big E was too important to pass up. Disappointed with this one all around.)
-Cole tossed to a video package recounting highlights from night one of WrestleMania.
-After the Steve Austin-narrated WrestleMania 38 announcement video, Cole and Graves reset the stage before tossing to a rundown of the Hall of Fame Class of 2021. The Hall of Famers were introduced one by one on stage.
-Cole and Graves tossed to a video package hyping Asuka vs. Rhea Ripley.
Mike Rome introduced Ash Costello of the band New Year’s Day to perform Rhea Ripley’s entrance music. She sang over the recorded version of the theme and seemed to struggle to keep the beat, leading to a bit of a jarring performance. Rhea received a positive reaction from the crowd.
Cole was rejoined by Saxton and Joe to discuss Rhea’s “brutal” offensive style before Asuka made her entrance. The champion danced onto the stage to a subdued reaction. Ripley looked on, focused in the ring. Mike Rome provided standard Championship match introductions. Asuka received a much stronger reaction upon official introduction.
(6) ASUKA (c) vs. RHEA RIPLEY – Raw Women’s Championship Match
Asuka and Rhea Ripley circled the ring, talking trash at one another. Asuka caught Ripley with a quick dropkick, but Rhea only stumbled. Asuka rolled her up quickly but didn’t even manage a one count. Asuka went for a backslide, but Ripley rolled through it immediately. Asuka missed wildly with a spin kick and got caught with a slap. Asuka shrugged it off and tripped Ripley into the turnbuckle. Dualing chants began.
Rhea Ripley left the ring to regroup. Asuka slid outside to meet her and caught her with a knee to the face. Ripley stumbled back into the ring. Asuka kicked her in the back repeatedly, preventing Rhea from recovering. Rhea ducked a final kick and sent Asuka flying into the ropes before planting her on the mat face first and covering her for a two count.
Ripley mounted Asuka and delivered slow, methodical punches. She grabbed a leg scissor as the crowd picked up the dueling chant again. Ripley rolled Asuka onto her stomach and slapped her across the back of her head. The crowd began to boo. Ripley rolled back into the leg scissor. Asuka leveraged out of it, but Rhea caught her with a dropkick.
Asuka struggled to stand as Ripley taunted her with slaps and chops. She pulled Asuka to her feet and gave her a pair of short arm clotheslines. Rhea went for a kick, but Asuka picked her ankle and grabbed a knee bar. Rhea managed to roll her body, grab a waist lock and German suplex her way out of the hold. Ripley began favoring the ankle Asuka went to work on. She bounced Asuka’s head off the turnbuckle repeatedly, then drove her shoulder into Asuka’s kidney for several moments. Ripley lifted Asuka onto the top turnbuckle, but Asuka elbowed Ripley to create separation. Asuka connected with a missile dropkick.
Both women regained their composure. Asuka hit a release German suplex, then a hip check into the corner. She hit Rhea with a pair of spinning back elbows, followed by a quick kick to the head. Rhea dropped to a knee. Asuka connected with another hip attack and covered Rhea for a near fall. Asuka climbed to the top rope, but Rhea dropkicked her to the floor. Asuka quickly rolled back in the ring before the referee began to count.
Ripley managed to slide to the outside and catch Asuka in the electric chair position. She tossed Asuka face first onto the edge of the ring. Asuka rolled back to the outside. Both women struggled to their feet, and back onto the apron. Asuka grabbed Ripley and delivered a DDT off the apron to the floor below. The referee began to count. Asuka answered the count at five, Rhea returned at seven. Asuka caught Ripley with a quick running knee and covered her for a two count at the 10:00 mark.
Asuka kicked Rhea in the face repeatedly, then went for a sliding knee. Rhea caught her and delivered rapid fire stomps. Ripley locked in the Inverted Cloverleaf, but Asuka quickly escaped by rolling into an armbar. Ripley reached the ropes. Asuka retreated to the apron, but Ripley suplexed her back into the ring. Asuka fought back to her feet. Rhea went for a German suplex, but Asuka blocked it, rolled Rhea to the mat, and locked in am armbar. Rhea powered out and into a cover for a quick two. Asuka grabbed the Asuka Lock, but Ripley wrestled free.
Rhea rose to her knees. Asuka caught her with a series of kicks. Ripley caught the final one, hoisted Asuka into the air and connected with Riptide, covering Asuka for a three count.
WINNER: Rhea Ripley in 13:00
(LeClair’s Analysis: Good match, but rather slow to get going. Banks and Belair set an impossibly high bar last night, and while I don’t think Asuka and Ripley were really asked to meet or surpass it, I do think that comparisons will be made. In that regard, you could certainly consider this a little disappointing. Ripley came off as a heel in the early going, but in the latter stages of the match, this turned into two talented acts trading their best shots – it feels like they lost a bit of the story along the way. The right woman won, and I’m curious to see where things go for Ripley from here, as this served as a bit of a make-good for last year’s disappointing loss. Still, it continues a string of disappointments for night two.)
-Michael Cole recapped the opening match between Randy Orton and The Fiend.
-Titus O’Neil and Hulk Hogan returned to the stage, wearing their own clothes again. Hogan said it’s been an incredible two nights. O’Neil thanked the fans at home and in the stadium. Bayley’s music interrupted him. Bayley said she’s had enough of both of them. She said they forgot to thank her. “As a matter of fact, where’s my pyro? Hit my pyro!” Pyro shot from the cannons at the base of the stage.
Bayley said she’s had to carry the hosting duties for two nights. She said it’s her time to shine. The Bella Twins’ music hit. Brie and Nikki walked out. Bayley cut them off. “I don’t know if you heard, but John Cena isn’t here tonight!” Nikki slapped Bayley across the face. Brie slapped her too. The Bellas tossed Bayley down the stage. Bayley rolled down the ramp comically. The fans booed. The Bellas danced with Titus and Hogan.
(LeClair’s Analysis: Yikes. O’Neil and Hogan were laughably bad both nights. Everything they did felt awkward, forced, and loaded with cringe. Bayley tried her best to make something out of this situation, and the crowd seemed to appreciate her for it. The Bellas appearance didn’t seem to sit particularly well with a crowd who really only seemed to be interested in Bayley. WWE has had a full year to more or less do whatever they want at any time with no audible fan backlash, but they’ve received it various times in the last couple of nights at rather inopportune times.)
-Michael Cole and Corey Graves talked up WWE’s next Pay-Per-View offering – Backlash, slated for May 16th. They then tossed to a video package for the main event.
“Yes” filled the screens straight out of the video package. Daniel Bryan walked onto the stage and led the crowd in a large chant on his way down the ramp. Edge entered next, receiving a thunderous reaction far louder than Bryan’s. Bryan looked on with a smile as Edge hit all his poses in the ring.
The cheers turned to heavy boos as the crowd anticipated Roman Reigns’ entrance. Nearly a minute after Reigns’ music hit, the champion finally emerged from the back, flanked by Paul Heyman and Jey Uso. Reigns held up the title to a massive display of pyro. All three men wore Samoan leis. Reigns sauntered to the ring slowly while Bryan and Edge bounced with anticipation in the ring. Fireworks shot from the rafters of Raymond James Stadium once more as Reigns held up the title in the ring. Jey Uso barked at the challengers. Roman held up the title in the face of both Edge and Bryan.
Greg Hamilton provided customary Championship introductions as Jey and Paul exited to the apron.
(7) ROMAN REIGNS (c, w/ Paul Heyman & Jey Uso) vs. EDGE vs. DANIEL BRYAN – Triple Threat Match for the Universal Championship
Roman Reigns dropped Daniel Bryan as soon as the bell rang, then turned his attention to Edge. He drove Edge into the corner and drove his shoulder into the ribs. Reigns then tossed Daniel Bryan to the outside. Jey Uso immediately pounced, kicking Bryan in the face and tossing him into the steel steps. Reigns tossed Edge to the outside. Jey immediately caught Edge with a super kick.
Reigns leapt outside the ring to dismantle the top of the announcers table. Jey grabbed the fallen Edge. Daniel Bryan drove through the middle rope, taking out Reigns. Jey Uso caught Bryan with another super kick. Edge whipped Jey Uso into the steel steps. Edge tossed Reigns into the barricade, then into the LED board affixed to the ring, then back to the barricade, and so on. Edge ripped apart the steel steps at ringside and grabbed Jey Uso. Edge gave Uso an Edgecution onto the steel steps. Officials and medical personnel spilled from the back to tend to Jey.
Daniel Bryan climbed back in the ring. Edge slowly rose to his feet. Officials carried Uso away from ringside. In the ring, Bryan and Edge traded right hands. Bryan cornered Edge and unloaded a series of kicks on him. He hoisted Edge to the top rope and went for a top rope ‘rana, but Edge rolled through it into a roll up for a two count. Roman Reigns returned and delivered an elbow to the face of Edge from the apron. He tried to suplex Edge to the outside, but Edge blocked it. Bryan slid through the legs of both men and ripped Reigns to the floor. Bryan shot to the top rope and hit Edge with a missile dropkick.
The crowd erupted into a “yes” chant. Bryan flipped off the turnbuckle and ran at Edge. Edge ducked, but Bryan leapt through the middle rope, attempting to take out Roman. Roman caught Bryan and slammed him onto the announcers desk. Reigns returned to the ring and gave Edge a leaping clothesline. Roman looked around, allowing the crowd to shower him with boos. Roman set up for the Superman Punch. Edge caught him and turned it into the Edgecution. Edge slid to the corner and called for the Spear. He charged, but Reigns caught him with a Superman Punch. Reigns set up for his own spear. Edge jumped over him and into a sunset flip for a two count.
Both Edge and Reigns shot off opposing ropes and went for spears, but ran into each other’s shoulders. Daniel Bryan returned, leaping off the top rope and hitting Edge with a flying headbutt. He climbed the opposing turnbuckle and hit the same move on Reigns. Bryan covered Roman for a two count. Bryan allowed Edge and Reigns to rise to their knees. He peppered them with alternating Yes Kicks. Reigns ducked a roundhouse kick and pushed Bryan. Bryan ducked a clothesline from Edge, spun around and hit Edge with the running knee.
Reigns went for the Superman Punch on Bryan, but Bryan caught him with a knee to the gut. Bryan covered Roman for another two count. Edge rolled to the outside. Bryan grabbed Reigns’ arms and stomped on his chest. Bryan transitioned into the Yes Lock. Cole said Reigns has already tapped to it once. Bryan cranked back on it. Paul Heyman looked on in desperation. Edge threw his body into Bryan to break the hold at the 11:00 mark.
Bryan tripped Edge and locked in the Yes Lock. Edge ripped at Bryan’s clutched hands. Roman Reigns pounced into frame, breaking the hold and mounting Bryan with a flurry of elbows and punches. Reigns deadlifted Bryan and Powerbombed him onto Edge. Reigns kicked Bryan to the outside and took a seat on the apron to compose himself. The crowd launched a “Roman sucks” chant. Reigns became infuriated. He taunted them, then set up the base of the steel steps at the front of the announcers desk. He dragged Bryan up the steps by the hair. Reigns looked out at the crowd again, then Powerbombed Bryan through the announcers desk.
Edge appeared out of nowhere, spearing Reigns off the steel steps and onto the floor. Cole said there is “absolute wreckage” at ringside. Graves wondered who wants the title the most. A “this is awesome” chant broke out. Edge dragged Roman back into the ring. He retrieved a pair of steel chairs. Reigns slid a chair inside, but Reigns stepped on it and quickly tossed it back outside. Edge guillotined Reigns on the top rope and applied a Crossface. Reigns choked and screamed. Edge grabbed a piece of the broken steel chair and stuck it in Reigns’ open mouth, using it to crank back.
Reigns appeared ready to tap out, but Daniel Bryan grabbed Roman’s hand. He applied the Yes Lock to Reigns’ other side. Edge and Bryan began head butting each other, trying to maintain position in the submission hold. Bryan got the better of Edge, mounting him and delivering a number of vicious shots to the head. Reigns laid dormant in the corner. Bryan stomped on Edge’s chest, shoulders, and neck while holding his arms up.
Bryan stumbled to the corner to set up for the running knee. Edge stood slowly. Bryan ran directly into a Spear from Edge. Reigns came out of nowhere for a Superman Punch, but Edge ducked it and speared him too. Edge hooked the leg, but Bryan pulled the referee out of the ring at the last possible moment for a believable near fall.
Edge turned his focus to Bryan on the outside. He grabbed two more steel chairs and placed them in the corner of the ring. He took a third chair and cracked it over Bryan’s back. Edge tossed Bryan into the ring and brought the third chair with him. Edge hit both Bryan and Reigns with the steel chair repeatedly. The crowd roared in approval. Edge dropped the chair and dragged Bryan’s head onto it. He placed a chair under Roman’s head as well. Edge completed the Con-Chair-To on Daniel Bryan. Jey Uso returned, attacking Edge. Edge fought him off and gave him a spear. Edge cracked Uso with the chair.
Roman Reigns gave Edge a spear out of nowhere, then picked up the steel chair. He placed it under Edge’s head and executed his own Con-Chair-To. Reigns dragged Edge on top of Bryan and pinned them both for a three count.
WINNER: Roman Reigns in 22:00 to retain the Universal Championship
(LeClair’s Analysis: A frantic, brutal, violent affair that had the crowd on the edge of its seat for nearly every moment. Quite frankly, a shocking finish. While it certainly seemed within the realm of possibility that Reigns would retain, I very much thought there was a significant change that either Edge or Bryan would walk away with the title to send the crowd home happy. Instead, not only did Reigns win, he did so in immensely convincing, dominant fashion. The double pin was a clear indication – Reigns, even as a heel, is the ultimate focal point of the company. The air was audibly sucked out of the stadium at the conclusion of the match. Make no mistake – Roman Reigns has not become a babyface by virtue of his excellent heel character. The live audience was still very much at odds with the company’s top man, it just so happens that that is now the reaction Vince wants.)
FINAL THOUGHTS: A tale of two nights, if I’ve ever seen one. I came into WrestleMania expecting a good show night one, with an opportunity for a great show on night two. Night one over-delivered, while night two grossly underperformed. Perhaps it was crowd fatigue, perhaps it was unsatisfactory results, or a combination of the two, but the momentum from last night did not carry over here. The night started with a complete and total dud in Orton vs. The Fiend, it struggled its way through an average women’s tag team title match, a forgettable encounter between Owens and Zayn, and a hugely disappointing Intercontinental title match between Big E and Apollo Crews. Sheamus and Riddle had a strong showing in a largely inconsequential match given the status of the U.S. Championship. The show stumbled its way into the Raw Women’s title match, marred by bad build, a cold champion, and a seemingly miscast challenger. While it was, by no means bad, it had the impossible task of coming on the heels of Belair and Banks’ stellar main event on last night’s show – and impossible standard.
The main event was fast, furious, frenetic, and hugely entertaining. It featured a crowd that hadn’t been quite that engaged since last night’s main event, who seemed rabid for not the darling babyface Daniel Bryan, but for the tweeter Edge, who wound up being far more over than I presume WWE anticipated he would be going into this match. While unquestionably enjoyable, Reigns’ emphatic dominance at the conclusion sucked the life out of the crowd. WWE was put in a tough spot here. I understand, and for the most part agree with Reigns retaining the title. With that being said, it’s hard to close a show on a note like that, and I think you saw that it left a sour taste in the fan’s mouths as they packed up and went home. Had the rest of the show knocked it out of the park, I think the audience may have been far more forgiving of the finish. As it stood, though, a lackluster night gave way to a lackluster conclusion. In hindsight, WWE may have been wise to headline night two with Banks and Belair instead of the triple threat.