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WWE WRESTLEMANIA 39 – NIGHT 2 REPORT
APRIL 2, 2023
INGLEWOOD, CALIF. AT SOFI STADIUM
AIRED LIVE ON PEACOCK
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
Ring Announcers: Mike Rome, Samantha Irvin
Tonight after the PPV, join PWTorch columnist Greg Parks live reviewing the event with live callers and emails.
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-Mike Rome introduced Jimmie Allen to sing “America the Beautiful.”
-Michael Cole touted yesterday’s event as evidence that WWE has become “the ultimate pop culture extravaganza, the greatest live event, and the showcase of the immortals” as the camera panned the impressive crowd in the impressive stadium.
-The Miz stood mid-ring with Snoop Dogg. They talked about big happenings the previous night.
(1) OMOS (w/MVP) vs. BROCK LESNAR
Omos came out first. Brock came out with a smile on his face. When Lesnar went to tackle Omos, Omos stuffed him and threw hiom to the mat. Lesnar collided with him and then set up a German suplex. Omos elbowed out of it and then bodyslammed Lesnar. (PWTorch contributor Frank Peteani in attendance and sent this note: “People are actually into this match so, good call on WWE’s part especially starting with it.“) Omos lifted Lesnar into a bear hug. Omos elbowed Lesnar in the back and they replayed it in slo-mo, showing Lesnar’s skin just shaking as the wind was knocked out of him. Omos lifted Lesnar into another bear hug. Graves called it a brilliant strategy. Graves said we could be watching the demise of Lesnar.
Lesnar tried to fight back, but again Omos countered with a chokeslam for a two count. Omos threw Lesnar into the corner. Lesnar came back and executed a German suplex. Fans popped. Graves said, “Uh oh!” Lesnar delivered another, but clutched his back in pain. Omos stood. Lesnar delivered a third German suplex. Lesnar stood and let out a big roar. Lesnar lifted Omos for an F5, but his back and legs gave out. Lesnar yelled in pain. Omos went for his headvice slam, but Lesnar slipped free and delivered an F5 for the win.
WINNER: Lesnar in 5:00. (3/4*)
(Keller’s Analysis: They pulled this off pretty well. Lesnar’s selling for Omos in the match made his win feel more substantial. In the end, Omos didn’t lose much because he was able to toss Lesnar around and it’s not like Omos started as a future centerpiece act, but Lesnar also didn’t lose anything because he pulled off an impressive F5. It was a special attraction novelty match of a different kind than, say, Johnny Knoxville, but it was a match that felt different than usual and added to the WrestleMania aura for a certain slice of the fanbase. For the rest, little or no harm done, because it’s not like Lesnar had a great opponent ready to go otherwise.) [c]
(2) RONDA ROUSEY & SHAYNA BASZLER vs. LIV MORGAN & RAQUEL RODRIGUES vs. SHOTZI & NATALYA vs. SONYA DEVILLE & CHELSEA GREEN – WrestleMania Showcast women’s four-way tag
As Rousey and Baszler made their way to the ring, Cole said Wade Barrett said earlier on the Kickoff Show, you don’t need to qualify for these events but rather you just become a part of WrestleMania. Graves said that has made Rousey and Baszler arguably the most targeted team in this match. Cole noted Lesnar is the no. 1 trend on Twitter worldwide. Graves told Cole that Green told him earlier that Cole better only say flattering things about her or else she’ll tell management. When Shotzi tagged in, Cole said it was her first WrestleMania action. Several women lined up and challenged Rousey to get in the ring, but Rousey held her ground at ringside. Shotzi dove through the ropes and tackled some wrestlers at ringside. Green leaped off the top rope onto a crowd at ringside.
Morgan and Raquel squared off. Raquel threw Morgan over the top rope onto everyone else at ringside. Back in the ring, Sonya attacked Raquel to stop her attack on Green. Green landed a running boot to knock Raquel to the floor. A minute later, Natalya applied a sharpshooter on both Raquel and Green. Morgan broke it up with a top rope knee. Morgan hit Shotzi with a Code Breaker and an Oblivion. Rousey tagged herself in and eyed Shotzi on the mat. Lots of boos. Rousey then set up a her armbar, laughed, and then locked it on Shotzi for the immediate tapout win.
WINNERS: Rousey & Baszler in 8:00. (*1/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: Rousey had some sort of a brace or wrap on her injured arm, which explains why she did almost nothing in the match and wasn’t in a bigger showcase match as was originally planned. The match was what you’d expect here, with a lot of dives and chaos with so many involved.) [c]
-A video package recapped the Bobby Lashey victory on Smackdown in the Andre the Giant Battle Royal. He came onto the stage to show off his trophy.
-Xavier Woods played the new WWE video game with Tegan Nox, Hit Row, Tyler Breeze, Nikki Cross, and Madcap Moss. They simulated the IC Title match and showed clips.
-A video package aired previewing the next match.
(3) GUNTHER vs. DREW MCINTYRE vs. SHEAMUS – Intercontinental Title match
Titus O’Neal joined in on commentary for this match. As Gunther walked to the ring, Cole explained the ridiculously stupid rules in Triple Threat matches in WWE where a champion can lose without being involved in the finish, and there are no DQs and no countouts. (Hopefully the new WWE owners will change these rules!!) Gunther invited Sheamus and McIntyre to attack each other, but Drew dropkicked him instead. McIntyre and Sheamus then did happily go after each other with Gunther at ringside.
Gunther entered the ring, threw some chops, and then yanked McIntyre into the ringpost. Gunther turned back to Sheamus and threw more chops. Sheamus punched back. Gunther locked Sheamus in a Boston Crab. McIntyre broke it up. Gunther and McIntyre exchanged heavy chops to the chest. After all three chopped each other a dozen or more more times, Cole laughed and then apologized for laughing but said it was just incredible. Sheamus pounded away at McIntyre’s chest when he had him bent over the top rope. Fans counted along to 28 before McIntyre just fell to the apron. Fans stood and applauded Sheamus.
McIntyre rejoined the action and overhead tossed Sheamus into Gunther. Gunther came back with a powerbomb McIntyre for a two count. Sheamus took contor with a White Noise off the ropes on Gunther and then delivered the Celtic Cross for a near fall. The crowd popped. Sheamus applied a clover leaf next, but Gunther grabbing the rope didn’t force a break. McIntyre came up behind Sheamus and applied a chinlock. Sheamus elbowed out of it and then rallied against both Gunther and McIntyre.
Sheamus played to the crowd as Gunther extended his arms to sell the idea he was knocked out. Sheamus waited for Gunther to stand, then delivered a running boot. McIntyre yanked Sheamus off of Gunther before the ref hit three. Graves said Sheamus must be feeling a bit of betrayal. Sheamus turned to McIntyre. McIntyre knocked him to the floor and then landed a running flip dive onto Sheamus at ringside. The fans went bonkers. Titus went even more bonkers. McIntyre set up a Brogue Kick, but Sheamus caught McIntyre with a Brogue Kick first to score a near fall. Cole said, “Fight all night!” Both Sheamus and McIntyre were down and slow to get up. Gunther was still out at ringside.
McIntyre and Sheamus exchanged blows mid-ring. Graves said they were tapping into the reserves at this point. Sheamus caught McIntyre with a boot, then crawled over and covered him. Gunther broke up the cover with a splash. Gunther powerbombed Sheamus onto McIntyre’s back. Gunther then powerbombed McIntyre for the three count to retain. Cole said that was the most incredible fight he’s ever witnessed, stressing the word “fight.”
WINNER: Gunther in 17:00 to retain the Intercontinental Title. (****)
(Keller’s Analysis: Well, that was fun to watch. It was a different kind of match built around punishment to each others’ chests more than anything else, but a blast to watch and the crowd was totally into it the whole way. Credit to WWE for not using the three-way match format to sneak the title off of Gunther without having involved in the finish. I’m all for Gunther holding onto the IC Title longer. It’s noteworthy McIntyre took the fall instead of Sheamus. It seems McIntyre isn’t a high priority for WWE right now – perhaps because his contract is coming up for renewal soon and there’s no guarantee he stays – but it also could be a sign that he’ll be turned heel later in which case it won’t matter much he lost here as much as it’ll be remembered as a brutally stiff fight and his loss might’ve triggered a chance in attitude from him. Gunther’s celebration afterward made the title seem so important.) [c]
-A video package aired on the next match.
(4) BIANCA BELAIR vs. ASUKA – Raw Title match
As Asuka came out, Cole talked about her goal being to end Belair’s one-year reign. Asuka wore a cool mask and danced past four others in Asuka-like outfits on the stage. Cole wondered if she has played enough psychological games to get an advantage over Belair in this match. For Belair’s entrance, there were a lot of kids dancing o9n the stage including a little girl twirling her braid. Belair joined her and danced with her. Formal ring introductions took place. These two have a hard act to follow after last night’s Charlotte vs. Rhea Ripley match.
Belair landed two dropkicks at the start. Asuka made a comeback and took control for a while. Graves said all of the disconcerting looks would be enough to break a lot of opponents. They fought to ringside a couple minutes in. Belair gut-wrench powerbombed Asuka on the mat at ringside. Asuka took control back in the ring and applied an anklelock. Belair twisted out of it, so Asuka attacked her with a dropkick off the middle rope leading to a near fall.
They battled on the ring apron next where Asuka roundkicked Belair in the chest and then knocked her into the ringpost. The fought back and forth for a few minutes. Belair took over and landed a running blockbuster and a springboard moonsault for a near fall. Belair drove Asuka face-first into the top turnbuckle. She waited for Asuka to stand, and then went for a K.O.D. Asuka held onto the top rope, the sprayed blue mist at Belair. Belair ducked and went for a K.O.D. Asuka flipped out of it and applied her signature armbar. Cole declared that Belair was going to tap and Asuka was going to win the gold, which meant she wasn’t going to win at that point. Belair stood with Asuka attached to her and delivered a K.O.D. for the win.
WINNER: Belair in 16:00 to retain the Raw Title. (***1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: Really good match. It never really had the build that would lead to fans being heavily invested in a certain outcome. Frank Peteani on site wrote: “I sensed the crowd just wanted a moment in that match. If Asuka won, they’d of been into it. They were into Bianca reversing the Asuka lock into the K.O.D. No true investment either way.“) [c]
-Miz and Snoop Dogg were back in the ring. Miz touted attendance of 81,395 for a two night total of 161,892. Miz told Snoop he wanted to get something off his chest. He took issue with Snoop putting him in a match against Pat McAfee while he was wearing a $10,000 suit. Snoop asked, “So you want me to do it again?” Miz said no. Fans cheered. Miz said he caught him off guard and he wasn’t ready, and then George Kittle made it basically a two-on-one match. He said he tried to embarrass him. Snoop said, “My bad.” Miz said this is his city and his ring and his WrestleMania. Snoop said he’s got that all wrong because it’s “our city, our WrestleMania.” Fans cheered. Snoop then pointed at the entrance stage. “Shane-o-Mac is back!” Shane danced to the ring. “I’m happy to see Shane, but poor Miz!” said Graves. Snoop said, “Uh oh, you in trouble!”
Shane thanked the fans and he said that warm reception meant so much to him. He was welled up with tears and his voice cracked. Snoop asked Shane to take care of Miz. A ref entered. Miz said his current suit is more expensive than last night’s suit.
(5) THE MIZ vs. SHANE MCMAHON
Shane punched away at Miz in the corner. He then whipped him into the ropes, dropped down, and then leapfrogged Miz. Shane collapsed and clutched his knee, which he appeared to blow out. The ref checked on him. The ref called for a medic to check. Snoop then punched Miz in the mouth. Snoop asked Shane if he was okay. The ref said something to him. When Miz stood, he punched him again. Miz was out on his back. Snoop then set up a People’s Elbow routine. Graves said it appears the match was still on and Snoop would finish it. Snoop did a slo-mo run of the ropes and Snoop Elbow for the pin.
WINNER: Snoop Dog in 2:00.
(Keller’s Analysis: Well, that’s a bummer for Shane. He seemed so emotionally moved by being back after a falling out and absence, and then he apparently blows out his knee. It might’ve happened on the actual leapfrog, but his knee clearly gave out awkwardly when he tried to stand and it gave out, so that might have made it even worse. It was kind of tone deaf of Snoop ask Shane if he was okay when he was clearly in serious pain and unable to stand, but he improvised well from there. I imagine Shane had an even bigger spot planned than a leapfrog, too. Sneakers aren’t probably the most stabilizing foot gear to be wearing when leaping at age 53 high in the air and landing on a padded mat with give.)
-A video package aired on the next match.
(6) “THE DEMON” FINN BALOR vs. EDGE – Hell in a Cell
All the stadium lights went out, and then the Brood entrance theme played. Edge came out to Slayer’s “South of Heaven” and then “Brood Edge” appeared on the big screens. When “Demon” Balor came out, the augmented reality team really put together cool effects. Edge sat in the corner of the ring and just watched Balor in full Demon mode. He had cool Demon body art covering his entire back.
Balor used a kendo stick and Edge used a chair. Balor no-sold the chair to the back and then whipped Edge with the kendo stick. Back in the ring Edge threw a ladder at Balor, knocking him down. Balor was bleeding heavily, to the ref backed Edge away. There were drops of blood all over the canvas. It’s a Hell in a Cell match, and they pause it because it was too brutal? That’s not a great look. Balor reached up and grabbed the ref and seemed to be insisting he wanted to keep wrestling. Edge had to awkwardly look intense while waiting for the ref to decide how to proceed. They replayed the ladder shot in slow-mo and the ladder hit Balor in the head and he immediately began bleeding.
Edge went to the floor and began pulling out more weapons. They didn’t show Balor during this, but the ref did come over and tell Edge to stay away. Graves said it’s inevitable the match will continue and Edge is just preparing, but Cole said the match might be stopped because it’s at the discretion of the medical team. Balor was apparently cleared because he stood and went after Edge. He dropped him and stomped him. He went for a top rope stomp, but Edge moved. Edge went for a spear, but Balor leapfrogged him and rolled him up for a near fall. They clotheslined each other mid-ring. Both went down and were slow to get up. They went to a wide shot as Cole plugged a movie sponsor.
Balor got up first and landed Coup de Grace. Balor climbed to the top of a tall ladder in the corner. Edge bashed him with a kendo stick. Edge then took Balor off the top rope as he leaped off the ladder with an impaler DDT. Both were dow on their backs. Edge rolled to the floor looked around. He pulled chairs out and then grabbed a table. The table popped the crowd. Edge set up the table in the ring, but Balor recovered and bashed him with a kendo stick. Then he put him on the table and his him across the abdomen with a chair several times. Then he climbed to a platform half way up the Cell and leaped off toward Edge with a double stomp. Edge moved. Balor broke the table in half. Edge recovered and hit a spear for a near fall at 17:00.
Edge bashed Balor with a kendo stick and then a chair. Graves said Edge was motivated by the betrayal he suffered at the hands of his own creation and the suffering caused him and his family. Edge put Balor’s head on a chair on the mat and then bashed him across his shoulders and head with the chair. He rolled Balor over and scored a three count to win. “This was sick in the best possible way,” Graves said.
WINNER: Edge in 18:00. (***3/4)
(Keller’s Analysis: This was certainly intense and violent with a lot of bashing each other with kendo sticks and chairs and a few big stunt spots but nothing too crazy. The tone of the fight matched the backstory and build. The temporary stoppage could’ve been just because of blood, but it might’ve been concern for a concussion. If they wanted to slow down the bleeding so it wasn’t grotesque for a WWE audience that isn’t used to it, I get it with everything at stake these days with WWE and its sponsor partners. It was awkward, though, given how they hype HIAC matches as being so brutal. It’s pretty incongruent to the concept of the match to pause it like that.)
-Kayla Braxton interviewed Belair who spoke about her win and her one year reign as champion. She said Asuka took her to her limit and was an incredible fighter. “We’re going to keep doing this,” she said. She was all smiles. The girls then swarmed Belair and chanted “EST!”
-A commercial aired for Backlash in Puerto Rico centered around Bad Bunny hosting the event.
-They went to Cole and Graves at ringside. They talked about going from Hollywood to Puerto Rico. Graves said he’ll soak up ever last ray of sunshine. Cole then threw to highlights of the Hall of Fame ceremony on Friday night. It included Jerry Lawler sending a message from home inducting Andy Kaufman before Kaufman’s family accepted on his behalf. (Lawler suffered a stroke recently, so he couldn’t be there.)
-The Hall of Famers then walked onto the stage, starting with Stacy Keibler, then Kaufman’s family, Great Muta, Tim White’s brothers, and finally Rey Mysterio.
(Keller’s Analysis: I was so waiting for Dominik to walk out in place of Rey yucking it up with Rey’s mask on.)
-A commercial aired for WrestleMania in Philadelphia next year.
(7) ROMAN REIGNS vs. CODY RHODES – Undisputed WWE Universal Championship match
The ring entrances began 45 minutes into the second hour, so this night shouldn’t go nearly as long as last night’s overall unless they wrestle to a 60 minute draw. As Cody soaked up the moment on the entrance stage smiling, he turned and looked right at a fan holding up a huge “Overrated” sign. Cody greeted his family at ringside including his wife Brandi and his toddler daughter. He hugged his daughter. He gave Jon Huber’s son his belt who was with Cody’s family in the front row. When Cody’s music stopped, fans were booing. It seemed to throw him off and surprise him, but maybe they were booing in anticipation of Reigns’s entrance. Ring introductions should clarify.
Then they went to the stage where six grand pianos played the Bloodline theme. Then the actual theme played and Reigns walked out with Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa, but not the Usos (losers!). Cole said Cody has never main evented WrestleMania, whereas this is the seventh time Reigns has main evented. He said he’s the first champion to defend the same title for three straight WrestleManias. He said it’s the 15th time a member of the legendary Anoa’i family has main evented “the greatest spectacle in sports entertainment.” Cole said only Pedro Morales, Bob Backlund, Hulk Hogan, and Bruno Sammartino have longer reigns than Reigns. He said he walks among legends. Graves said he is in God mode and takes greatness to another level. Cole then listed the wrestlers Reigns has defeated in his title run, including “Bryan” and “Cesaro.” Graves said Reigns shot Cody “a dismissive look” which Cody noticed and which will motivate Cody.
Formal ring introductions took place next. Cody got a loud mixed reaction. Reigns got mostly booed. A loud “Cody!” chant broke out. Reigns signaled for the fans to quiet down. He lowered his hand. Fans booed. Reigns opened his hand and Heyman handed him the microphone. Reigns said, “WrestleMania, acknowledge me!” Fans roared with cheers and boos. He threw the mic down. Solo stood with his arms crossed, staring down Cody. Cody had a few words for Solo. When the bell rang two minutes into the fourth hour, fans cheered.
Reigns and Cody approached center-ring and stared at each other without a flinch. Reigns smiled and backed away and rubbed his hands together. Cole said there’s a big fight feel and a rumbling. Cole asked Graves how the Usos losing affected Reigns’s psyche. Graves said he’s not sure it did because Reigns remains the Tribal Chief. He said he does “big matches, big fights, big box office, big success.”
Cody put Reigns in a side headlock and then landed an uppercut. Reigns bailed out. Heyman told Reigns, “You’re not here. He’s here for you.” He said they all paid to see him, “so now smash him, my Tribal Chief!” Cole said, “Paul Heyman’s worth every penny.” Graves said even all-time greats can use a pep talk now and then. Reigns re-entered the ring and took control with two back elbows to the chest. Reigns circled the ring with his arm in the air. He bashed Cody across his neck with lariats in the corner. Graves said Cody will look for the crowd to energize him. Cody landed a high dropkick and went for the cover. He got a one count. Cole said Cody knew he wouldn’t win, but he wanted to send a little message.
Cody applied a wristlock. (Or was it a wristwatch?) Cody springboarded at Reigns with a Disaster Kick attempt, but Reigns caught him and then powerbombed him to the mat and scored a two count. Reigns tossed Cody across the ring and then waved down at Cody’s family in the front row. Reigns threw Cody out of the ring, but Cody held onto the top rope and pulled himself back in. (I won’t call it that gruesome name it’s usually described as.) Reigns tossed him right back to the floor and went on the attack, including a bodyslam on the ramp.
With the ref distracted by Reigns, Solo took a shot at Cody’s ribs with a chair. Fans booed. Reigns landed a slidekick at Cody and then threw Cody back into the ring and scored a two count. Reigns took over the match for a while as Cole. Graves said if Cody has a cracked rib, he might as well out of the ring and get counted out because you can’t beat Reigns at anything less than 100 percent. Reigns threw Cody to the floor and then cleared both announce desks at ringside. Cody countered Reigns and backdropped Reigns onto the announce desk, which collapsed. Cole declared, “Cody’s got a chance!” Cole yelled for Cody to get Roman into the ring.
In the ring Cody rallied, while still clutching his ribs. He landed his snap powerslam and then fired up and played to the crowd, who cheered. Graves said, “It feels we are on the precipice of history.” Cody landed a Cody Cutter and scored a dramatic near fall. “This was his chance!” exclaimed Cole. Graves said this might be Cody’s best chance in his life to finish the story. Cole said Reigns is in serious question. Cody stomped Reigns, who rolled ot the floor. Cody then dove through the ropes and knocked Reigns hard into the security barricade. Solo whipped Cody with a weight belt. The ref heard it and saw the belt and then ordered Solo to the back. The crowd roared with cheers. Solo threw a fit and smashed his hands on the ringside steps.
Both Cody and Reigns were down. Reigns grabbed Cody’s weight belt. The ref yanked it away from him. Cody kicked Reigns and then hit Crossroads for a near fall that popped the crowd. Reigns delivered a jaw breaker, a headbutt, and some clubbing blows to the back of Cody’s neck. Cole wondered if that was Cody’s only opportunity. Reigns threw Code over the top rope. Cody held on and pulled himself back in. Reigns grabbed him, though. Cody slipped free. Reigns came right back with a Rock Bottom for a near fall.
Reigns set up a Superman Punch and went for it, but Cody side-stepped it and hit a Pedigree for a near fall. “Oh my God, Roman did it again!” exclaimed Cole. Cody fired up and shook and played to the crowd, but also clutched his ribs. Reigns countered a Disaster Kick attempt with a Superman Punch and scored a believable near fall. Reigns reacted with dismay. Heyman sat in the corner as Heyman yelled, “He’s ready to be beat. He’s ready now!” Reigns yelled and went for a spear, but Cody leaped over him and sunset flipped him for a near fall. Cody then applied a figure-four leglock. Graves said that’s a move that won Dusty countless championships. Reigns’s shoulders were down for a one count on two occasions. Cole wondered how much Reigns had left.
They stood and exchanged punches that the crowd yelled along to with each blow. Cody yanked Reigns’s neck over the top rope. Cody leaped off the top rope, but Reigns speared him as he rebounded off the ropes. Cody kicked out. Fans gasped and stood and cheered. Reigns hung his head in his forearms. Reigns stood and pummeled Cody on the mat with a barrage of strikes. Cole said Cody might be out of gas. Reigns circled the ring while looking at the fans. Graves said he’s now angry.
Reigns then applied a guillotine mid-ring. Cody faded. The ref raised his arm. Cody held it up and stood. Reigns leaped and wrapped his legs around Cody’s body. “This is where the story ends,” said Graves. Cody pried his head out about 30 seconds later. Cole said he’s not sure anyone has broken that hold. Cody threw some punches. Cody kicked at Reigns, but he kicked the ref, who went down. (Now *that’s* a tribute to Cody’s father, Dusty). Cody clotheslined Reigns and stayed down. More than 30 seconds later, Cody stood, but he held his throat and gasped for air, selling the guillotine. The ref was still down.
Cody yelled for Reigns to stand. He then set up an inverted DDT, but the Usos attacked Cody. “Where the hell did they come from?” Cole said. “I’m not surprised at all.” The Usos gave Cody the 1D. The Usos dragged Reigns onto Cody. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens ran in and cleared the ring of the Usos. Reigns stood and couldn’t believe what he was seeing. KO gave Reigns a Stunner. Sami gave Reigns the Helluva Kick. “How sweet it is!” said Cole. The Usos brawled with KO and Sami at ringside and then into the crowd.
Cody draped his arm over Reigns’s chest. The ref came to and crawled over and made a slow count. Reigns kicked out just before the third hand slap. “And our main event continues,” said Cole. Fans chanted “Cody! Cody!” The anti-Cody fans either switched to pro-Cody or were overwhelmed by pro-Cody fans as this match progressed.
Cody and Reigns sat up and exchanged strikes. Cody countered a Superman Punch with a series of left jabs. He did the Bionic Elbow and then a Cody Cutter two times in a row. Heyman stood on the ring apron to yell at the ref. Solo then gave Cody a Samoan Spike. Reigns then speared Cody and scored a three count. Graves said just because they are in Hollywood does not guarantee a happy ending.
WINNER: Reigns in 35:00 to retain the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship. (****1/2)
(Keller’s Analysis: What a story the told, and they had the crowd every step of the way. Did they do too many shenanigans with ref bumps and interference? Perhaps. This could have been a great match without any of that. But I do have to say I’m not against Reigns remaining champion. I also wouldn’t have been against WWE betting on Cody and going with him here. I’m curious if they changed their mind along the way, but I always sensed the finish of this match might be in play as they closed in on WrestleMania and got a sense of ratings, Cody’s promo and match quality, ratings, crowd reactions, and other factors. They could think it wasn’t time for Cody, but that’s not necessarily a vote of no confidence since they could also see money in a rematch or two as “the chase” continues. The execution of the moves and the pace and the body language in between moves was stellar the entire way. It wasn’t fancy, but pro wrestling doesn’t need to be. The goal is to have fans reacting to near falls and the back and forth the way they did and care deeply about the finish. This match had all that going for it.)