Wrestlemania Count-Up – XXXVIII Night Two (2023 Redo): They Had To Make A Sequel
Wrestlemania XXXVIII Night Two
Date: April 3, 2022
Location: AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas
Commentators: Michael Cole, Pat McAfee, Byron Saxton, Corey Graves, Jimmy Smith
America The Beautiful: Jesse James Decker
It’s the second half of the show and WWE has a lot to live up to after the first night. This half is built around the unification match for the WWE and Universal Titles as Brock Lesnar faces Roman Reigns in the BIGGEST WRESTLEMANIA MATCH EVER (THIS YEAR!). Other than that, Pat McAfee is facing Austin Theory in a match that has gotten a lot of TV time. Let’s get to it.
I was in the stadium for this show, sitting in the third deck with the stage on my right.
Jesse James Decker performs America The Beautiful.
Video on Night One.
Mark Walhberg talks about how the sequel is almost never quite as good as the original, but it might be tonight. This is going to be all about the emotions and it’s not edge of your seat, but out of your seat. Points for doing a separate video instead of the same one again.
Here is HHH to get things going. He gets his full entrance and poses on every corner…before being handed a pair of boots. With the boots in the ring, he thanks the fans and welcomes us to Wrestlemania as pyro goes off. HHH goes over to hug his family (including Stephanie McMahon, his children and others) and leaves to the side of the ramp. This would be his retirement due to his heart issues and you can probably imagine he was going to have at least one more big match.
Gable Steveson is here again.
Raw Tag Team Titles: RKBro vs. Alpha Academy vs. Street Profits
RKBro is defending and these teams have been fighting over the titles for weeks, with only the Profits not winning them at some point. Otis cleans house to start before all six get in for the big brawl. With the ring clearing out, Ford hits the big running flip dive to the floor, followed by Gable moonsaulting onto almost everyone. Back in and Otis splashes Riddle but slaps him around instead of covering.
Gable comes in to work on Riddle’s leg but Riddle fights up. Ford is back in and gets over to Dawkins for the tag so house can be cleaned. Otis splashes Dawkins and Riddle but misses a charge into the corner. Riddle Bro To Sleeps Dawkins and Orton comes in to clean house. The Academy is dropped onto the announcers’ table but Otis is back up to take out everyone else. Gable is back up with a Steiner Bulldog for two on Ford but Dawkins breaks up a Vader Bomb.
The Profits hit a Doomsday Blockbuster on Gable before knocking Riddle outside. Dawkins blocks the RKO and hits a spinebuster on Orton before flip diving onto Otis. Ford loads up a frog splash….but Riddle springboards to the top to RKO him back down in an awesome spot. Not to be outdone, Gable goes up but Orton pulls him out of the air into the RKO to retain at 11:32.
Rating: B-. This was the usual wild triple threat match that would have felt fine on a big time house show. Watching Riddle and Orton hit one RKO after another is always fun as they really did have it down to a science. While it was entertaining, I couldn’t have told you this opened the show to save my life as it had absolutely no staying power.
Post match the Profits and RKO are ready to share a drink. Hold on though as they want Gable Steveson to join them. Steveson gets in, but Gable knocks the cup out of his hand. Orton and Riddle look stunned (Orton’s face is hilarious) as Steveson takes his shirt off. Gable demands respect as the ring clears out. Gable even has some advice for Steveson: SHHHHHHHHHHUSH! That earns him an overhead belly to belly and now the toasting can ensue.
Bobby Lashley vs. Omos
No MVP here despite him being Lashley’s manager. Omos powers him down to start and then drives Lashley face first into a knee. Lashley tries to power out of a head vice but gets clotheslined down instead. Omos hits a charge in the corner (or close to it, as he somehow missed a running splash) but Lashley starts hammering away. The Hurt Lock is blocked though and Omos clotheslines him down.
Lashley manages to catch him on the ropes and goes up, only to be pulled out of the air for a fireman’s carry slam. Back up and Lashley charges into a bearhug, which is driven hard into the corner. The bearhug goes on again but Lashley fights out again and slugs away. Somehow Lashley manages a suplex (egads) and a spear to the back sets up the regular version to finish Omos at 6:36.
Rating: C-. This was the spectacle match of the show and it was only so good. There are only so many things that Omos can do in the ring and Lashley made it work as well as it could. Not a good match but they did keep it short and it didn’t get too insane. The suplex worked as a big spot too so it could have been worse, as weak as it was.
We recap Johnny Knoxville vs. Sami Zayn. Knoxville was in the Royal Rumble to do publicity for his new Jackass movie and Zayn freaked out, sending him into an obsessive feud to destroy Knoxville once and for all. Then Knoxville fought back by having Zayn’s phone number flown on a banner above Los Angeles, resulting in Zayn receiving 60,000+ texts. The solution: an anything goes match.
Sami Zayn vs. Johnny Knoxville
Anything goes and Zayn kicks him in the face at the bell to start fast. They head outside with Zayn sending him into the barricade right in front of the Jackass crew. The crew goes after him, allowing Knoxville to come up with a fire extinguisher blast for a breather. Back in and Zayn busts out the cookie sheet to take over before switching over to a crutch. With that broken over Knoxville’s back, it’s time to bring in a table (of course).
Zayn goes for another table….and gets his hand caught in a mouse trap. It seems that there is a table covered in them (because reasons of Knoxville) and the delay lets Knoxville bang some trashcan lids around Zayn’s head. Knoxville sets up the table in the corner but gets suplexed through it instead. The helluva Kick is loaded up but Knoxville whips out an airhorn to cut it off.
Cue part of the Jackass crew, with a guy described as a party boy dancing and stripping (Cole: “It’s Naked Mideon 2.0!”). Zayn takes him out and Knoxville uses the distraction to grab a rollup for two. With the party boy kicked underneath the ring, Wee Man (he’s short) pops out and beats Zayn up, including a slam back inside (the place goes NUTS for that). Knoxville’s tornado DDT gets two as commentary is losing it over this whole thing.
Wee Man pulls out a machine with a boot attached and designed to kick someone low. Instead Zayn kicks him in the face and sends him outside before going up top. That’s fine with Knoxville, who whips out a remote control to spray pyro from the corner Zayn is standing on. With Zayn down in the corner, there’s a bowling ball between the legs and then the boot machine kicks him low again.
Knoxville whips out a tazer (sure) so Zayn runs….right into a giant hand that slaps him in the face. Back in and Zayn grabs a suplex before going up again. This time, Knoxville tongs him low and sends Zayn flying through the mousetrap table. Now the Jackass crew pulls out a giant mousetrap (just go with it) and Knoxville tazes Zayn onto it, with the trap springing for the pin (ignore Zayn’s shoulders being on the trap and not the mat) at 14:33.
Rating: B-. This is the definition of “it wasn’t for me”, but the stadium was going NUTS for the whole thing and they embraced everything insane about the whole thing. It was a total stunt show instead of a match (which is what it needed to be) and Zayn got wrecked by one stunt after another. I never need to see it again, but for a one off, it was goofy fun. Less than three weeks later, Zayn would need something to make him feel better after all this, so he started talking to the Bloodline. Not bad for a next step.
Here’s part of Drew McIntyre beating Happy Corbin last night and then cutting the ring ropes.
Women’s Tag Team Titles: Sasha Banks/Naomi vs. Carmella/Queen Zelina vs. Liv Morgan/Rhea Ripley vs. Natalya/Shayna Baszler
One fall and Carmella/Vega are defending. Banks and Naomi ride out in a rather expensive looking car while Liv and Rhea have something of a Catwoman/Donnie Darko theme. Ripley starts and no one wants to fight her until Banks comes in for the staredown. Banks gets powered down but comes back up with an armbar that doesn’t last long. Riptide is blocked and Banks realizes she needs to think twice here.
Naomi comes in but everything breaks down with most of the, going outside. Banks and Morgan both hit dives before going back inside for a staredown. Back to back Codebreakers rock Morgan and Oblivion makes it worse, only to have Natalya take Morgan down. Baszler comes in and stomps on Morgan’s leg as things slow back down. The leg cranking ensues before Carmella comes in to send Morgan into the corner.
Everything breaks down again with Carmella hurricanranaing Ripley off the top. Naomi and Banks hit double Eat Defeat on Morgan and go up, only to have it broken up. That means stereo Towers of Doom, with Morgan and Ripley handling the powerbombs. Everyone is down for a bit until Riptide into a backstabber gives Ripley two on Naomi.
Morgan breaks up Baszler’s cover on Naomi and gets faceplanted for her efforts. A Hart Attack is broken up and Carmella takes Naomi down for some near falls. Banks is back in with a frog splash to Carmella but Vega breaks up the Crossface. The Meteora from the apron hits Vega and Naomi kicks Carmella in the head. A wheelbarrow slam/Codebreaker combination hits Carmella to give Banks the pin and the titles at 10:50.
Rating: C. It wasn’t exactly great and as usual, there were so many people here that it might as well have been a free for all. The wrestling was only so good and the titles feeling so completely unimportant doesn’t help. These feel like thrown together teams fighting over the titles and that doesn’t quite make it feel Wrestlemania worthy. If these titles are supposed to mean something, stop having makeshift teams fighting over them. At least you now have a steady pair of hands in Naomi and Banks to hold them, as they should be fine for a long time to come.
We look back at Miz and Logan Paul beating the Mysterios and then breaking up because Paul wanted to leave as a good guy.
We recap Edge vs. AJ Styles. Edge wanted a special opponent so Styles accepted, only for Edge to go full villain and Conchairto him. Now Styles is back and wanting revenge.
AJ Styles vs. Edge
Styles is bleeding from the side of his face, apparently having hit himself on the set on the way in. Since it’s Wrestlemania, Edge rises up onto a throne surrounded by fire. They stare at each other to start until Styles starts knocking him away. The dropkick looks to set up the Calf Crusher but Edge is straight over to the ropes. Back up and Edge is sent outside, with Styles ramming him head first into the steps to make things more violent.
The springboard 450 hits raised knees back inside, with Edge holding his knee in something that rarely happens off of that counter. Edge’s knee is fine enough for the posing before he kicks away at Styles. The abdominal stretch goes on but Styles goes after the knee to break it up. A shoulder breaker cuts Styles down again though and they’re down long enough that we can look at some of the giant graphics for the match around the stadium.
Back up and Styles misses a hard charge into the corner and they’re both down again. Edge hits a Codebreaker onto the bad arm and it’s time to crank on both arms at once. Styles can’t Pele his way out of trouble as Edge pulls him into an STF, which he switches into a Crossface (sounds like a Samoa Joe fan). That’s broken up with a quick rope break and we slow down again.
Edge misses a spear and Styles grabs a slingshot DDT for the double knockdown (again). Styles goes up top but gets caught by Edge. That doesn’t work either, as Styles slips out and kicks the bad knee, setting up a torture rack spun into a powerbomb for two more. Edge is back up but charges into a German suplex to put them both down again. They slug it out until Styles manages a Pele Kick but the Calf Crusher is blocked again.
The Crossface has Styles in big trouble until he rolls his way to freedom. The Edge-O-Matic gives Edge two and a slingshot powerbomb gets the same. They both take their time getting up and head to the corner, where Styles superplexes him down onto the apron (ouch). Back in and the springboard 450 hits Edge’s back for two. The Phenomenal Forearm and spear both miss so Styles hits the Styles Clash for a rather near fall. Styles loads up the Phenomenal Forearm….but Damien Priest (US Champion at the time) is here to offer him a distraction. The delay lets Edge spear Styles out of the air for the pin at 24:26.
Rating: B. This was a good, hard hitting match that felt like it belonged on the big stage, but the double downs got a bit repetitive as they probably burned off five minutes of just laying on the mat. The distraction finish was a bit annoying as well as it just cut everything else off, but it certainly seemed to set up something for the future. Either way, best match of the night so far.
Tonight’s attendance: 78,354.
Byron Saxton replaces Pat McAfee, who has to get ready for his match with Austin Theory.
Brawling Brutes vs. New Day
Butch is here with the Brutes. New Day has Big E. inspired gear, even down to the singlets, for a nice touch. Butch loses his mind on the floor before the bell and the brawl is on inside. The bell rings and Kofi hits Trouble In Paradise on Holland. Sheamus pulls Kofi outside though, leaving Woods to make a save. Back in and Kofi seems to leave a top rope shot to the face a bit short as Woods takes the straps down.
A running Downward Spiral hits Holland but Sheamus Brogue Kicks Kofi on the floor. Back in and Woods superkicks Holland (he’s taking a beating here)…but Sheamus Brogue Kicks Woods silly. Northern Grit finishes Woods at 1:42. So Big E.’s career might have been ended and his team loses in less than two minutes at Wrestlemania. This place isn’t nice to New Day (as they lost to the League Of Nations here in 2016 as well).
We look back at Cody Rhodes returning and facing Seth Rollins. These recaps might as well have a big sign saying FILLER. Or PEACOCK COMMERCIALS.
The Hall of Fame class is honored again, with only Undertaker coming out in person. Undertaker comes out, waves, and that’s it. I’m not sure why this needed to happen two nights in a row and the way it happened again made me think it was going to be an angle but…yeah nothing, even after it goes on for a good while.
We recap Pat McAfee vs. Austin Theory. McAfee talks about everything he has accomplished from the NFL to his talk show, but he has always been a fan who wanted to wrestle. He even trained to wrestle with Rip Rogers before he came to WWE so he has a background. Vince McMahon was a guest on the Pat McAfee Show and offered McAfee a chance for a match. This wound up being against Theory, who has tormented him ever since, with McAfee chasing after him and annoying McMahon in the process.
Austin Theory vs. Pat McAfee
Vince McMahon personally introduces Theory (as a future Universal Champion). McAfee on the other hand has the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders with him in an appropriate entrance. Some right hands have Theory in trouble early but he goes to McAfee’s throat to cut him down. A jumping back elbow has Theory down again as the fans are rather into McAfee. There’s a hurricanrana for two but Theory plants him and smiles down at Vince.
McAfee manages a quick suplex for a breather and Theory heads out to the apron. They head outside and McAfee grabs a headset to say hi to his parents before pouring ice over Theory. Back in and a heck of a Swanton misses for McAfee so Theory grabs a belly to back slam for two.
Theory goes up but McAfee catches him on top, only to be shoved off. That’s fine with McAfee, who does a pretty sweet moonsault to land on his feet. A jump up to the top (that was cool) sets up a top rope superplex (McAfee shouldn’t be this good this soon) for a delayed two on Theory. Back up and Theory gets in a shot and tries A Town Down, which is countered into a rollup to give McAfee the pin at 9:43.
Rating: B. This was a heck of a celebrity match as McAfee got to show off his athleticism (that jump to the top into the superplex was very good). McAfee is one of those guys who seems to just “get” wrestling and that is one of the most valuable things anyone can have. McAfee had to win after the build to the match and it was good stuff, as McAfee can talk and actually back it up.
Post match McAfee celebrates and Vince is ticked. Vince is so ticked….that he takes his jacket off (the place is VERY interested). The shirt comes off and Vince gets in the ring (Cole: “WHY IS THERE A REFEREE IN THE RING???”). It seems that we’re doing this but Theory jumps McAfee from behind. Let’s ring that bell.
Vince McMahon vs. Pat McAfee
McMahon clotheslines him at the bell and then does it again, earning a YOU STILL GOT IT chant. The stall is on but McAfee Colts Up but McMahon distracts the referee, allowing Theory to crotch McAfee against the post. With McAfee down, McMahon gets a Dallas Cowboys football and punts it into McAfee’s stomach for the pin at 3:44.
Rating: D-. So that’s how the crowd gets killed after being on fire from the McAfee match. One might think it would have been a better idea to put Theory over if they wanted to go this way, but seeing McMahon in the ring for (probably) one last time is a special moment. That being said, this wasn’t a match for the most part and the ending was awful, but what else were you expecting?
Post match Vince and Theory hug and Vince seems a big scared by Theory’s music playing. Then the glass shatters and Vince has a better reason to be afraid. Steve Austin comes out, beats up Theory, gives McMahon the all time worst Stunner (as Vince falls down both before and after) and drinks beer (good thing it was ready in case he made a surprise appearance) with McAfee. Then he Stuns McAfee, who probably could not be more thrilled.
We look at Bianca Belair’s marching band entrance before she won the Raw Women’s Title.
Wrestlemania XXXIX is in Los Angeles.
We recap Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns in a World Title unification match. Reigns has been Universal Champion for a year and a Lesnar has held the title for about five minutes. Now they’re unifying them because Reigns vs. Lesnar must headline at least one major event every year until the end of time.
Universal Title/WWE Title: Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
Winner take all and Paul Heyman is here with Reigns (the Usos come to the ring with him but head to the back before the match). Heyman and Lesnar handle the intros (Lesnar has done that a time or two) before the latter takes off his gloves to start the match. Reigns hammers away and drives him into the corner a few times without much trouble. Three straight suplexes have Reigns in trouble and a clothesline puts him on the floor. Heyman offers a distraction though (Heyman: “I’ve always loved you. It was Roman’s idea!”) and Reigns hits a spear through the barricade.
Back in and Reigns hits another spear for two and a pair of Superman Punches drop Lesnar again. Lesnar is right back up with five German suplexes but the F5 is countered into a Superman Punch. Another spear is countered into the F5 to give Lesnar two of his own as they’re firmly in their signature formula here. Another F5 is countered and Reigns drives Lesnar into the referee in the corner.
A low blow and belt shot give Reigns two and Reigns spears him from behind (ala Lashley about two and a half hours ago, which commentary does note) for the same. Reigns tries another spear but lands in the Kimura, sending Reigns to the ropes this time. Reigns can be heard telling Heyman that his shoulder is “out”, only to spear Lesnar down for the pin at 12:17 (Heyman looked stunned on the pin).
Rating: C+. Yes the action was probably better than that but I’m so completely done with caring about these two having their same match over and over. WWE treated these two as the biggest stars in the company for so long that this is the only way they can finish Wrestlemania. That doesn’t make it interesting though, as Lesnar didn’t feel like a threat and they did the same match they have done almost every time after their first. But hey, at least the ultra dominant Reigns is now even more ultra dominant right? To be fair that wound up working, but finding a better way there would have been appreciated.
Reigns celebrates and a lot of pyro ends the show.
Overall Rating: B-. This was a weird one as there are good things about the show, but a lot of it feels like they were trying to fill in time. Too many of the matches came off as things that they needed to do rather than things they wanted to do and it made things a lot less interesting than the previous night. The good stuff is good and it had some moments (one more time for Austin and McMahon, the Knoxville/Zayn stuff and the title unification) but it felt like a pale comparison to Night One, which isn’t something to brag about whatsoever. Not a bad show at all, but you might want to pick and choose.
Overall Overall Rating: B. The show overall is good, but more of the good comes from Night One, which had the action to go with the moments. If they wanted to balance it out a lot more, moving Cody’s return to the other night would have helped, as outside of the main event, the second night didn’t have the deepest lineup. It’s a rather good Wrestlemania overall, but man it feels like an eternity has passed in the last year. Night One is definitely worth a watch though, as it feels like a Wrestlemania. Balance it out a bit and cut down on Night Two (or give us one really long night) and it’s that much better, but this did work.
RKBro vs. Street Profits vs. Alpha Academy
Omos vs. Bobby Lashley
Johnny Knoxville vs. Sami Zayn
Sasha Banks/Naomi vs. Natalya/Shayna Baszler vs. Carmella/Queen Zelina vs. Liv Morgan/Rhea Ripley
AJ Styles vs. Edge
New Day vs. Brawling Brutes
Pat McAfee vs. Austin Theory
Vince McMahon vs. Pat McAfee
Roman Reigns vs. Brock Lesnar
Overall Overall Rating
So the second night was mostly better across the board and then the overall overall rating is barely up? That’s a weird one, but this show was a better sit after a year away so maybe it does have some staying power.