In 1993, wrestling fans criticized WWE for dropping the ball in a huge way when they failed to put the World Championship on Lex Luger at SummerSlam after pushing him to the moon and making everyone believe he was destined to win the title. On Sunday night, WWE repeated history when Cody Rhodes lost to Roman Reigns in the main event of WrestleMania Night Two, despite all signs pointing to him finishing his story with the win. Whether or not the fans will lose faith in Rhodes – like they did with Luger – remains to be seen. But for many fans, not having Rhodes’ big win come at the biggest show of the year will likely leave a bad taste in their mouths. Which is a shame, because the night was full of really strong matches – including that one other than maybe the last three seconds.
Country star Jimmy Allen started off the show with his rendition of “America the Beautiful.” He did a better job than Becky G from last night, I thought, but she is definitely prettier.
Then they aired another Kevin Hart pre-show cold open video. Look for him to end up in the Hall of Fame Celebrity Wing at some point.
The Miz and Snoop Dogg kicked off the show in the ring to hype up the crowd. I guess “Fire it up” is a Snoop thing? Or is it that Snizzle thizzle?
Match 1: Brock Lesnar vs. Omos (w/ MVP)
Early on, Omos dominated Brock, throwing him around when Brock went for a take-down and then easily slamming him and throwing him around like a child. Note – it’s not appropriate to slam and throw around children. Omos squeezed Brock in a bearhug and when Brock escaped, Omos chokeslammed him for a 2-count. Brock avoided a running charge and Omos hit the corner and got stunned. That left him vulnerable for a trip to Suplex City. After a few stops there, Brock hit the F-5 and got the pin. This was short, but good.
Winner: Brock Lesnar
Match 2: Liv Morgan & Racquel Rodriguez vs. Natalya & Shotzi vs. Chelsea Green & Sonya DeVille vs. Shayna Baszler & Ronda Rousey
During her entrance, Natalya had a helmet like Shotzi’s but with cat ears on it. Ronda didn’t have her normal leather jacket and kilt on, instead she came out wearing a gi.
This started off almost too quickly, and at times was a bit too frenetic. They did manage to tell a couple of stories, including Green trying to avoid being in the ring in any one-on-one situation. At one point, she leaped from the top turnbuckle to the floor to wipe everyone else out rather than take on Racquel. After that, Liv and Racquel teamed up so that Racquel heaved Liv over the top to pick up the spare. Shotzi and Natalya hit a modified Hart Foundation on Sonya, and then Natalya put a Sharpshooter on both Green and DeVille at the same time, but Liv Broke it up. Ronda and Shayna were conspicuous by their absence for much of the match. When the ring had pretty much cleared up, they surreptitiously tagged in and double-teamed Shotzi before Ronda locked in an Armbar and Shotzi tapped out.
This was far too busy, and as a result, didn’t really have a tight flow.
Winners: Shayna Baszler and Ronda Rousey
A Judgment Day hype video aired, and then they showed a recap of the Andre the Giant Battle Royal from Friday night’s Smackdown.
Bobby Lashley was introduced and he came to the stage with the Andre statue. He waved to the crowd and posed with the trophy.
Xavier Woods and some miscellaneous hangers-on in the Up Up Down Down lounge showed a WWE 2K23 simulation of the upcoming Intercontinental Championship match and said that Drew McIntrye was the video game’s favourite to win over the champ Gunther and Sheamus. Then they aired a video/commercial for Mike’s Harder Lemonade with Drew and Sheamus.
Match 3: Gunther (c) vs. Sheamus vs. Drew McIntrye – for the Intercontinental Championship
Titus O’Neil joined the commentary team for this one. There are apparently reports that Drew and WWE are negotiating his contract but apparently the two sides are far apart. They should have saved some of the money they used on pyro for Drew’s entrance – because they fired it up, as Snoop would say. Sheamus came out with Ridge Holland and Butch, but they didn’t come to the ring. Similarly, despite Ludwig Kaiser doing the introduction for Gunther, he and Imperium teammate Giovanni Vinci stayed in the back.
As expected, this was a slobberknocker of a match, with all three delivering hard hits throughout. The crowd really seemed to love Gunther hitting his opponents with his signature chops, and really fired up when Drew threw several back on him. A fun moment saw Sheamus hitting Gunther with the Ten Beats, but he and Drew would alternate between a Beat and a Chop by Drew. The crowd stood on their feet when Sheamus hit 29 beats on Drew. Gunther hit Sheamus with a big lariat for 2-and-three-quarters. Later, Drew knocked Gunther down into the corner and then Suplexed Sheamus onto Gunther. Gunther ducked a Claymore attempt and then hit Drew with a Powerbomb for a very close fall. Sheamus caught Gunther going up top and hit White Noise from the second turnbuckle, and then the Celtic Cross for 2. Sheamus hit Gunther with the Brogue Kick, but from the outside, Drew pulled Sheamus off of Gunther to break up the sure pinfall. Drew and Sheamus then went at it, with Drew hitting him with a huge Somersault Dive over the top rope to the floor. Drew went for the Claymore, but Sheamus was quicker on the draw and hit Drew with a Brogue Kick for two. They exchanged more big shots, with Drew hitting a Claymore, but this time, Sheamus was the one to kick out. Sheamus and Drew exchanged punches in the middle of the ring. Sheamus hit Drew with another Brogue Kick, but Gunther broke it up with a Splash off the top rope. Gunther then Powerbombed Sheamus on top of Drew, then Powerbombed Drew and covered him for the 1-2-3.
This was a great fight that had all of them wearing battle scars afterwards. The crowd were electric for this one, and it deserved that reaction. This was really, really good.
Winner, and still Intercontinental Champion: Gunther
Match 4: Asuka vs. Bianca Belair (c) – for the RAW Women’s Championship
Asuka’s entrance saw her come out with four masked doppelgangers. Asuka came out last wearing a different mask to distinguish herself from the other Queen Amidalas. Bianca’s entrance saw the Divas of Compton dance troupe do a routine on the stage, each of them wearing her signature ponytail. The last featured dancer was a little girl who looked to be about five years old.
Bianca used her power effectively early on, taking Asuka out of her game. But then Asuka used a burst of speed to hit a series of strikes and kicks that grounded the champ. In a neat movei, Bianca went for a Springboard Moonsault, but Asuka shifted and caught Bianca in a submission move on the landing, forcing Bianca to scramble out to the floor. They jockeyed for the advantage on the floor, with Bianca taking it, Powerbombing Asuka onto the floor. But, back in the ring, Asuka’s quickness came into play, as she dodged a corner charge and Bianca rammed the post shoulder-first. Bad camera work missed a shot where Asuka countered another move by locking on a submission. Asuka hit a series of kicks, including a dropkick on the apron that sent Bianca crashing into the post. But Bianca recovered and sent Asuka into the post. Bianca then muscled up, climbing up to the middle rope, then lifting Asuka up from the apron and over into a Superplex. They picked up the pace and exchanged big strikes and pinfall attempts. Bianca hit a modified Glam Slam that smashed Asuka’s face into the turnbuckle. She tried to follow up with the KOD but Asuka grabbed the top rope and pushed free, sending Bianca nearly colliding into the referee. When Bianca turned back to Asuka, she nearly got misted in the face, but ducked the spray. She then picked up Asuka for the KOD, but Asuka escaped and locked on the Armbar. Bianca went into her power reserves, shifted around underneath Asuka, deadlifted her, and then hit the KOD to get the pin and retain the title.
This was a really good match with lots of twists and turns. The last third of the match was really strong, and it felt as if it could have gone either way, with the crowd supporting both women.
Winner, and still RAW Women’s Champion: Bianca Belair
George Kittle, the San Francisco 49er who helped Pat McAfee beat The Miz last night was shown in the crowd, as was legendary football announcer Al Michaels whose greatest call ever was to reveal to Peter Jennings that he had fallen victim to a farcical call, lest anyone think it was real. And Baba Booey to y’all.
The Miz and Snoop Dogg announced the official attendance was 81,395. I wonder if that includes the Asuka lookalikes.
Miz griped to Snoop about putting him in a match with Pat McAfee last night. Snoop asked Miz if he wanted a rematch, but Miz declined, much to the crowd’s dismay. Snoop was unapologetic. And in some convoluted way to not apologize, he pointed to the ramp, and Shane McMahon’s music hit. Shane-o-Mac hit the ring, grabbed a mic, and thanked the crowd for a warm welcome back. Snoop called for a ref, and the impromptu match was on.
Match 5: The Miz vs. Shane McMahon
Shane used some fast fist-work to stun Miz early on. But when he threw Miz to the rope, Shane landed wrong after a Leapfrog and his leg gave out, sending him stumbling and falling to the mat. As the trainer checked on him, Miz was going in for the kill, but Snoop climbed back in the ring and punched Miz. The trainer and the ref rolled Shane out of the ring, and Snoop cold-cocked Miz with another punch, and then hit Miz with the People’s Elbow. He covered Miz and the ref counted the fall.
This was a disaster but the crowd had fun with it. Shane is now officially the B-otchi-est in the World.
Winner: Snoop Dogg (as proxy for Shane McMahon?)
A strong video package aired for the next match, telling the Edge-Balor saga like an epic tale. This was even better than Picard telling the story of Gilgamesh and Enkidu. Then they aired a trailer for the new movie The Pope’s Exorcist. As the Hell in a Cell made its descent from the rafters, they interspersed that video with clips from Russell Crowe, who stars in the movie, talking about how to beat a demon.
Match 6: Edge vs. “The Demon” Finn Balor
Edge did a Brood entrance, rising up from below the stage into a circle of fire. He wore a bat-winged robe and a silver mask that looked like a cross between a disco ball and the Gimp from Pulp Fiction. The music changed to his normal song and he dropped the mask and wings. Balor came out as the Demon with his old music and costume though his head covering included a mohawk of spikes, and his makeup was purple-themed to reflect the Judgment Day colours. They added a slow-motion effect and he carried purple smoke sticks as he made his way down the ramp. It was a bit weird, since that theme song and his movements when the lights turn on are more-suited for a babyface reaction. But either way it was still pretty cool to see it again.
Within seconds, they had both gotten weapons. The Demon’s power allowed him to take control and Edge’s back was soon covered in welts after Balor walloped him with a Singapore cane. Edge came back, and trapped Balor with canes against the cage, and then hit him with a Running Dropkick off the apron. But the Demon seemed relatively unfazed – again, the magic powers. Edge propped up a table in the corner of the cage, but by this time Balor had freed himself and powered up. He whipped Edge into the ring steps and then blasted him with strikes and chops. The Demon absorbed an Impaler DDT and then dropkicked Edge off the apron and into the wall of the cage. He then dropkicked Edge through the table that had been propped up, and then whipped some chairs at Edge’s face and head. Edge battled back and in the ring, hit Balor with an Unprettier and an Edgematic, but the Demon easily kicked out every time, to Edge’s shock.
Edge went under the ring and grabbed a ladder which he threw right into the Demon’s face. Ouch! The ref called the doctor into the ring because Balor was busted open, and blood was spilling all over the ring. As the doctor checked on Balor, Edge went under the ring and got more weapons and set up the ladder for more potential for destruction.
Balor got cleared and went right after Edge who tried for a Spear, but ended up hitting the ladder when Balor moved. Balor then hit a Running Dropkick and a huge Coup de Grace, but Edge kicked out. The Demon tried to climb up the ladder, but Edge caught him and blasted him with a Singapore cane. Edge then hit an Edgecution off the ladder, which looked good – but the Demon kicked out!
Edge set up a table, but this gave the Demon the chance to recover and he pummeled Edge with a cane and some chairs. He laid Edge on the table, and then climbed halfway up the cell wall. The Demon went to Coup de Grace Edge through the table, but Edge moved, and the Demon stomped right through the table. Edge hit a Spear, and it was 1-2- NO! The Demon kicked out!
Edge, looking to end it, went to town on Balor with a chair, and after Balor was down and unresponsive, Edge finished him off with the Conchairto for the pin.
This was a really good fight, though the break in momentum for the doctor to check on Balor took away from it. It’s Hell in a Cell, and in that kind of stipulation, let the blood flow. If this is Edge’s swan song, it was a decent way to end things. Certainly this should be the end of his feud with Judgment Day.
Kayla Braxton interviewed Bianca Belair who was thrilled with retaining her title. The Divas of Compton joined her and chanted “EST.”
They showed highlights from the Hall of Fame induction ceremony, and then brought out the inductees for the live crowd.
Match 7: Roman Reigns (c) (w/ Paul Heyman and Solo Sikoa) vs. Cody Rhodes – for the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship
They repurposed Edge’s elevator for Cody’s entrance, bringing him up from under the rap – though they didn’t “Fire it up” (TM Snoop Dogg). During his entrance, Cody went up to his family – his wife Brandi, mother, sister, and baby, and he hugged and kissed them. Also beside them was Jon Huber Jr., the son of Brodie Lee, aka -1 in AEW, and Cody gave him his weight belt. The commentators acknowledged him by name and mentioned him as the son of Luke Harper, the name Huber used in WWE.
They had a group of pianists on the stage who played Roman’s theme song before he made his entrance. After the in-ring introductions, Roman took the mic and told the WrestleMania crowd to acknowledge him. And then it was on.
Roman played overconfident in the early moments, almost as if he was amused by Cody thinking he had a chance of beating him. But he got more serious when Cody embarrassed him in their opening exchange, and then Roman turned up the aggression with some big smashes. Cody came back with a Dropkick and then grabbed a Wristlock to work over Roman’s arm. But when he went for an early Disaster Kick, Roman caught him and Powerbombed him for two.
Roman then continued his assault with stomps and smashes, and had an answer for everything Cody did to try to fight back. At one point, Roman thwarted a Cody attack on the floor with a big Bodyslam on the entrance ramp. But Cody continued to dig deep and he returned the favour before smashing Reigns’ head off the apron.
When the ref was dealing with Roman, Solo hit Cody with a perfectly-timed chair shot, but Cody kicked out of the pinfall attempt. As the crowd chanted his name, Cody continued to mount a comeback, though some more interference by Solo on the floor kept letting Roman regain the advantage.
Roman cleared off the announce tables and then set Cody up on one of them. He looked to Piledrive Cody through one, but Cody blocked it and Back Body Dropped Roman through the other one.
Back in the ring, and Cody hit a Powerslam and a Springboard Cody Cutter for a very close 2.99. Fired up (thanks, Snoop), Cody hit Roman with a big Suicide Dive that flattened Roman against the ringside barrier. Solo grabbed the weight belt from Brodie’s kid and whipped Cody in the back with it. The ref didn’t see it, but heard the shot, and seeing the belt on the floor beside Solo, he deduced what happened and sent Solo to the back.
Roman grabbed the belt, but the ref stopped him from using it. As Roman argued with the ref, Cody hit him with a Superkick and then hit Cross Rhodes for 1-2-NO!! That had the crowd thinking it was over, but the match continued.
A frustrated Roman then got super-aggressive, blasting Rhodes with sweeping shots, and then hit a picture-perfect Rock Bottom for a two-count. Cody side-stepped a Superman Punch and hit a Pedigree for two, and by this time the crowd was completely unglued. And then they got even more blown away when Roman countered a Disaster Kick attempt with a Superman Punch – that looked stellar, but it couldn’t keep Cody down, kicking out just before the ref’s hand hit the mat for a third time.
Cody jumped over a Spear attempt for a rollup attempt, and then took down Roman and clamped on a Figure-Four Leglock in the centre of the ring. Roman turned him over, but Cody got to the ropes to force the break.
After side-stepping an aerial assault, Roman hit the Spear – but Cody kicked out! Completely angered now, Roman just climbed on Cody and ground-and-pounded him with huge forearm smashes and punches. Roman locked on a Guillotine and Cody looked helpless in his clutches. Roman pulled him down to the mat, and it looked like it was curtains for Cody.
But Cody dug deep and slipped his head out of the hold, and then it was his turn to ground-and-pound. Cody went for a big kick, but Roman moved and the ref took the hit and got knocked out of the ring. The two gladiators continued to fight and they were both knocked down to the mat.
Cody got up first and had Roman in position for Cross Rhodes, but then got Double Superkicked by the Usos who ran in while the ref was still down and out. They pummeled Cody and then put him down and rolled Roman’s arm on top of him. Before they could revive the ref, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens ran in and took out the Usos.
KO and Sami then turned their attention to Roman, hitting him with a Stunner and a Helluva Kick, respectively. Roman was out and Cody crawled over and covered him. The ref woke up and counted one, two, thr—no! Roman unbelievably kicked out one more time.
With everyone else having cleared out, Reigns and Rhodes went at it in the ring, exchanging big punches. Rhodes dodged a Superman Punch and then hit the Dusty Rhodes punches and a Bionic Elbow. Rhodes hit a pair of Cross Rhodes and was going for a third when Heyman distracted the referee, allowing Solo Sikoa to sneak in from the crowd, climb up onto the apron undetected and blast Cody with a Samoan Spike. Roman then ran the ropes, criss-crossed the ring, and flattened Rhodes with a giant Spear for the 1-2-3.
After the match, Roman, Heyman, and Sikoa celebrated while the So-Fi audience could only let sink in the miscarriage of justice that they had just witnessed.
Winner, and still Undisputed WWE Universal World Champion: Roman Reigns
Triple H’s influence is evident in an entertaining first night of WrestleMania
Wrestlemania 39 - Night Two
So-Fi Stadium - Hollywood CA
Overall, there was some tremendous wrestling action throughout the night. Brock-Omos on paper might have not worked, but it did. The women’s title match was very good. The Hell in a Cell match was also very strong. The IC match was one of the better brawls you’ll see. And the main event delivered on all counts in the ring.
If there was one arguable point, it’s whether the outcome of the main event was the right way to go. There’s bound to be debate on this, but this felt like a missed opportunity to create a truly special “WrestleMania moment.”