It had been over a year since fans were in attendance (in person) for a WWE event.
And it was only fitting that they returned on “The Grandest Stage of Them All”… WrestleMania.
A crowd of over 25,000 packed (well, figuratively speaking) Raymond James Stadium for the 37th annual WrestleMania.
For the second year in a row, WrestleMania was split into two nights, yet another innovative move by the head honcho himself… Vince McMahon. It was just too much intensity and excitement for one night to contain, and night one definitely lived up to the expectations. And in comes cases, exceeded them.
Bobby Lashley defended his WWE Title against Drew McIntyre to kick off the main show, which was delayed because of storms in the Tampa Bay area. In a battle against two of the strongest wrestlers in WWE, both men received their fair share of cheers and jeers from the crowd. McIntyre performed three Future Shock DDT for a near-fall on Lashley,. As McIntyre went for the Claymore Kick, his finishing move, MVP (who was at ringside) distracted him and Lashley was able to take advantage to counter and applied his finisher, the Hurt Lock in McIntyre. After attempting to escape multiple times, Lashley still held on. McIntyre passed out, and thus Lashley retained the title.
The second match of the evening was the tag team turmoil match, where the winners would face Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship on Night 2 on Sunday. Naomi and Lana started off against Carmella and Billie Kay. The Riott Squad (Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan) entered the match next, followed by Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke. The Riott Squad eliminated Brooke and Rose with Morgan eliminating Brooke with an inside cradle. The final team to enter was Natalya and Tamina Snuka, who ended up winning following Tamina pinning Liv after a Superfly Splash to earn the tag title match the following night.
The third match of the night was Seth Rollins going up against Cesaro, who up until this year had never had a singles match at WrestleMania. As Rollins went for The Stomp, Cesaro countered with the Cesaro Swing and locked in The Sharpshooter, however, Rollins countered. Cesaro attempted another Neutralizer, but Rollins countered into the Pedigree, a move he had used years ago, for a nearfall. As Rollins went for The Stomp a second time, Cesaro caught Rollins in mid-air with an uppercut. Cesaro then spun Rollins with the UFO and the Cesaro Swing before performing a second Neutralizer on Rollins to win the match.
Three matches in, and the crowd was heavily invested into “wrestling’s Super Bowl”.
In the fourth match, The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) defended the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship against AJ Styles and his partner/bodyguard Omos. This match marked Omos‘ in-ring debut. In the end, Styles performed the Phenomenal Forearm on Woods and Omos performed a Powerbomb on Kingston and pinned him with one foot to win the WWE Raw Tag Team Titles. Omos was nothing short of dominant throughout the entire duration of the match.
Next, Braun Strowman faced Shane McMahon in a Steel Cage match. In perhaps the most memorable spot in the match, and one of the most memorable spots of the first night, Strowman threw McMahon off the top of the Steel Cage. Strowman then performed the Running Powerslam on McMahon to win the match.
In the penultimate match, rapper Bad Bunny teamed up with Damian Priest faced The Miz and John Morrison. Miz and Bunny went back and forth for most of the match, especially early on. Bunny eventually tagged in Priest and he took control. Priest and Bunny hit Miz and Morrison with the Falcon Arrow simultaneously. Bunny broke up the pin when Miz almost pinned Priest to win the match. Bunny then hit a Canadian Destroyer on Morrison outside the ring. Bunny and Priest hit an Electric Chair Drop/Crossbody combination on Miz and Bunny pinned Miz to win the match.
And finally, we have the main event. It was the match of the night, featuring two of the top stars in WWE and two of the best in women’s wrestling in the entire world. 2021 Royal Rumble winner Bianca Belair took on WWE Smackdown Women’s Champion Sasha Banks. This match had fans at the edge of their seats from start to finish. Belair had gone up for a 450 Splash, but Banks countered by putting her knees up. In the closing moments of the match, Belair went for the 450 Splash, but Banks got the knees up. Banks locked in the Banks Statement, but Belair got to the ropes. She then lashed Banks with her ponytail (which not only sent shockwaves through the stadium and those watching at home, but left a large mark on Banks’ side), before hitting Banks with the KOD to win the SmackDown Women’s Championship.
It was a near-perfect way to end a thrilling night, and the main event sent chills down the spines of fans as the Women’s Evolution in WWE continued. It was the second time in three years a women’s match main evented WrestleMania, and Belair is one of the brightest up-and-coming stars, while Banks is already solidified as a top star.
The first night of WrestleMania 37 was exciting from start to finish, and tomorrow night will undoubtedly be just as exciting.
Maybe even more…