While the jury is still out on WWE turning WrestleMania into a two-night event — and may stay out for good considering the promotion has announced it will return to its traditional single-night iteration in 2022 — one aspect that naturally loomed as an issue was how Sunday could produce an encore if Saturday turned out to be incredible. Judging by reactions on social media, many fans viewed the 2021 edition of WrestleMania Saturday that way, meaning night two had its work cut out for it.
It also dug itself into immediately into a hole with the mind-boggling (in a bad way) encounter between Randy Orton and The Fiend, which somehow completely threw away any momentum Bray Wyatt’s alter ego could have built up and called into question whether WWE creative has simply run out of ideas for the character. Things improved steadily from there at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, with plenty of hard-hitting matchups and multiple title changes.
Still, the trend was toward shorter matches overall than on night one, leaving more time for the triple threat match for the WWE Universal Championship to close the show. It’s easy to do some eye-rolling toward WWE’s tendency to shoehorn an extra combatant into a bit WrestleMania bout (and it has happened many times over the years), but this one had a particularly logical storyline, with dominant heel champion Roman Reigns defending against two popular superstars, Daniel Bryan and Edge, motivated to grab what could be their final WrestleMania moment.
After Bryan headed down the ramp first, Edge made his long-awaited return to a WrestleMania with live fans sporting ring gear very similar in design to what Randy Orton wore to kick off the night, Defiant as ever, Reigns made his walk flanked by both Paul Heyman and Jey Uso.
Reigns immediately dropped Bryan but found himself under attack by both challengers. Bryan was sent out to the floor, where he ate a superkick from Uso — as Edge did a few seconds later. Reigns and Uso cleared off the announce table, but Jey finally got what was coming to him when Edge threw him into the steel steps. Edge turned his attention back to the champ, driving him repeatedly between the ring apron and the announce table.
Seeing a chance to take Uso out of the equation, Edge smashed the head of the self-described right-hand man onto the steps with an elevated DDT. Referees and officials came to take Uso to the back as Edge and Bryan finally got a chance to throw hands one-on-one in the ring. Bryan’s kicks got the best of the exchange, though Edge quickly scored a pair of near falls.
Reigns returned to the fight from the apron, but Bryan sent him back to the floor and delivered a missile dropkick to Edge. His momentum ended quickly when he was caught and suplexed by Reigns after a suicide dive, leaving the champ and the Rated R Superstar paired off between the ropes. The champ tried for a Superman punch only to find it reversed into a double-arm DDT. A second Superman punch found the target, yet Edge was able to get a sunset flip rollup for two, and both men ended up down after trying for simultaneous spears.
Seizing the opportunity, Bryan launched into flying headbutts on both his enemies, trying to pin Reigns and getting only two. Yes Kicks rained out in both directions, egged on by the fans, and Bryan got another two count on Reigns after a kick to the head. Bryan changed strategy and applied the Yes Lock, with Michael Cole reminding us that no rope break could stop it thanks to triple threat rules. Edge broke the hold but ended up in the same hold, forcing Reigns to return the favor and rain down shots on Bryan.
Lifting Bryan off the canvas, Reigns powerbombed him onto Edge and sat on the apron plotting his next move. Enthusiastic “Roman sucks” chants broke out, angering Reigns enough to smash Bryan through the announce table, but he didn’t see Edge flying at him for a spear off the steps. Edge grabbed several steel chairs to bring to the ring, and even after being disarmed, he locked the crossface in on Reigns, supplementing it with a piece of one of the chairs. Reigns’ hand was headed for the mat only to be stopped by a returning Bryan, who applied his own submission hold and launched into a flurry of headbutts and forearm shots to Edge.
“Got a bad back?” said Bryan before stomping repeatedly on Edge’s well-known weak point. He charged across the ring and was hit by a spear, as was Reigns. The ref counted to two but was dragged out of the ring by Bryan, bringing a crazed look to Edge’s face and setting him off in search of more chairs. He brought one down across Bryan’s back and rolled him into the ring where he could smack both Bryan and Reigns.
Sliding chairs under the heads of both opponents, Edge executed the Con-chair-to on Bryan, but was interrupted by the return of Uso, who bought enough time for Reigns to recover. The Tribal Chief gave Edge a taste of his own Con-chair-to medicine, covered both men and pinned them to retain his title. To say it was an unpopular ending to WrestleMania is a bit of an understatement, but after years of mixed crowd reactions when Reigns was meant to be a face, this was at least the intended reaction.
The next WWE pay-per-view is WrestleMania Backlash on May 16, 2021.
WrestleMania 37 Night Two Full Results
It’s impossible not to get a feeling of deja vu during the cold open, considering it’s the exact same one we saw the first night — and in turn was largely the same as last year’s, at least in terms of the graphics and video. But for anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, enjoy. The fireworks and lights to kick off the show in earnest are definitely impressive. Hosting WrestleMania is a sweet gig since all you need to do now is come out and talk at the beginning of the show. Titus O’Neil and Hulk Hogan are in full pirate getups tonight, quickly running through every pirate cliche in existence.
Randy Orton vs. The Fiend (w/ Alexa Bliss)
Orton is sporting white trunks tonight, which grabs the attention of wrestling Twitter. Interestingly, he is out in the ring while the hype video is shown, suggesting an elaborate entrance for The Fiend. A video makes it appear he has been healed from his burns, but we have to wait for the man himself as Alexa gets her own entrance first. She takes her place at the crank of a giant Jack in the Box, which of course turns out to be a Fiend in the Box. Orton’s facial expressions sell a “WTF” mindset as The Fiend launches himself into a clothesline from atop the box. He also gets to no-sell a bunch of stuff while Michael Cole keeps a straight face while saying the phrase “box-like structure.” It’s a box, Michael. You can just call it that. As The Fiend looks for Sister Abigail, flames shoot up from the ringposts a la Kane, and Alexa appears on the box with a bleeding crown or tiara of some sort, stopping the monster in his tracks. An RKO somehow puts him down for three. The lights go out, Fiend and Alexa are both gone when they come back on, and people are booing. Welp. It’s pretty amazing WWE doesn’t seem to be able to figure out how to book The Fiend and only ends up detracting from how over the character is in its own right.
Winner: Randy Orton by pinfall
Bayley is still on her quest from the first night, trying to weasel her way into being the third co-host. She doesn’t seem too thrilled with Eric Bischoff gushing over Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks, and soon is left alone as everyone else takes off to see Hogan’s boat.
Natalya and Tamina (challengers) vs. Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler (champions) – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship Match
Natalya and Tamina won the right to challenge for the belts by emerging victorious from the Tag Team Turmoil bout on night one. The matchup works well since there are natural pairings between Nattie and Shyana and Nia and Tamina, and they do end up squaring off in those combinations for a majority of the match. There are some stiff shots being exchanged, particularly a knee shot by Baszler to Natalya. It takes several times, but Tamina manages to body slam Jax, a feat that gets a two count and a chant from the fans on hand in Tampa. Natalya flips Jax into the Sharpshooter, but Baszler grabs her from behind and locks on the Kirifuda Clutch until Nattie is out cold.
Winners … and still WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions: Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler
Sami Zayn (w/ Logan Paul) vs. Kevin Owens
Paul has millions of fans, but let’s just say his reception isn’t as universally positive as the pop Bad Bunny got on Saturday. Owens makes his way down the ramp like he’s heading out on an indie card or a house show, and that’s meant as a compliment. It’s funny hearing Corey Graves go to bat for Sami’s conspiracy theory gimmick, though nothing is humorous about the bumps these two are taking. KO prevails after a Stunner. After just sitting and watching during the match, Paul goes to congratulate Owens, which leads to Zayn getting in his face and getting a shove for his trouble. Paul raises Owens’ arm in victory, but you know what the people want, and KO obliges, dropping him with a Stunner.
Winner: Kevin Owens by pinfall
Cruising around on his scooter backstage, Riddle runs into Great Khali and tries to convince him to open a store selling giant scooters. RVD shows up to play translator and show off his branding prowess courtesy of RVD rolling papers. Fun seeing those on WWE programming.
Sheamus (challenger) vs. Riddle (champion) – WWE United States Championship Match
If you like to see straightforward striking mixed with some higher impact spots, this is the bout for you. Riddle pulls off an impressive overhead belly-to-belly suplex off the top rope that looks like it could have been disastrous if he didn’t get his head the whole way through the rotation before hitting the canvas. The slow-mo replay is pretty breathtaking, as is the impact on Sheamus’ high knee a few minutes later. Riddle falls back on his submission game as the near falls continue to pile up, and Sheamus makes the best of a bad situation by delivering White Noise after slipping off the top turnbuckle looking for the super version of the same move. The end comes suddenly as Riddle gets smashed with a Brogue Kick while doing a backflip off the ropes, and ends up both pinned and bloodied.
Winner … and new United States Champion: Sheamus by pinfall
Was just thinking that this WrestleMania didn’t have much in the way of musical guest performances as is tradition (even with Bad Bunny competing on Saturday), but Wale comes out to do Big E’s entrance music in person. Tradition remains undefeated.
Apollo Crews (challenger) vs. Big E (champion) – WWE Intercontinental Championship Nigerian Drum Fight
Despite all the mystery over the stipulation, this is essentially a no holds barred/hardcore/whatever your favorite term for it is match, albeit with real drums among the implements of pain outside the ring. These gentlemen waste no time taking it too each other, with Big E launching Crews to the floor early on and Crews attempting to sandwich the champ between two sets of steel ring steps. Crews tries for a frog splash through a table only to see his foe move, and Big E follows quickly with the Big Ending. Alas, he is quickly laid out in turn by Dabba-Kato (from the infamous Raw Underground segments, though we’ll see if he gets repackaged now), and Crews gladly accepts the help and covers to take the gold. Uh, also the drums
Winner … and new WWE Intercontinental Champion: Apollo Crews
The WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2021 gets its time in the spotlight, just like the 2020 class did on Saturday. And Rhea is also getting played in by a live band, so yeah, all good. Lots of yelling in this theme song.
Rhea Ripley (challenger) vs. Asuka (champion) – WWE Raw Women’s Championship Match
The big question here is whether they are going to go with the belts on the new generation on both brands. Both Bianca Belair and Ripley are fully deserving, but selfishly I’d love to see Asuka hold onto her title just because she’s a personal favorite. It’s definitely fun watching these two warriors throw each other around, and as has been the case all night, there are plenty of stiff blows and hard bumps on display. Right as I type that, Ripley takes a DDT to the floor. Whoa. The announcers do a nice job selling the building narrative that Ripley’s power will be the difference, and she punctuates that idea with a Riptide to claim the gold. Not on the same level as last night’s main event, but still quite good.
Winner … and new WWE Raw Women’s Champion: Rhea Ripley
Bob Odenkirk introduces a look at his new movie Nobody. Cool but maybe not during the biggest PPV of the year please. I blame the Peacock deal for this and the commercials. As long as I’m making fully justified complaints about some segments of the show, the Fiend-Orton thing is shown again. Hey WWE? We’ve all been watching since the beginning, and Peacock doesn’t let you fast-forward or pause. We’ve seen this. After that, Bayley comes out to harass O’Neil and Hogan again. The Bella Twins come out to handle this particular issue, smacking Bayley around and throwing her down the ramp.
Daniel Bryan (challenger) vs. Edge (challenger) vs. Roman Reigns (champion) – WWE Universal Championship Match
Winner … and still WWE Universal Champion: Roman Reigns by pinfall
WWE WrestleMania 37 Night 2 (2021) 04/11/21
Raymond James Stadium, Tampa, Florida
Is it fair to be compared to what would be part of the same show if WrestleMania was all on one night? Maybe not, but considering how hyped the wrestling world got over the Sasha Banks-Bianca Belair closer on Saturday, this was always destined to be an uphill battle. There was plenty of admirable work and a compelling main event, but ultimately this just didn’t produce the same kind of goosebumps the best WrestleManias do. That said, it was great to have it back in front of fans, providing a feeling that’s been missing for far too long.