Wrestlemania XXXIX Night One: They’re Telling Stories
Wrestlemania XXXIX Night One
Date: April 1, 2023
Location: SoFi Stadium, Inglewood, California
Commentators: Michael Cole, Corey Graves
America The Beautiful: Becky G
Dang it feels good to get to write that again. It’s the first night of the show and the card is pretty stacked. This time around, we have the Usos defending the Tag Team Titles against Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens, John Cena challenging Austin Theory for the US Title and Charlotte defending the Smackdown Women’s Title against Rhea Ripley. Let’s get to it.
Becky G. sings America The Beautiful.
The opening video features a voiceover talking about how only one man could host this cold open and that is…..Kevin Hart! He talks about how this is the greatest show in the world and it is taking over Tinseltown. Everyone is going Hollywood tonight, which sends us to some of the Wrestlemania trailers.
The set is designed like the Academy Awards stage and looks GREAT. WWE knows their production stuff and they’re showing it again here.
Here is Wrestlemania Host the Miz with….Snoop Dogg. Miz compares their resumes and says they’re the same person. He declares them both to be champions, with Snoop saying the real champions are the ones in the audience. Miz runs down the card and says it’s time to go, so let’s do that.
US Title: Austin Theory vs. John Cena
Cena is challenging but first we look at Cena’s record setting Make-A-Wish numbers. There are a bunch of Make-A-Wish kids on stage as Cena makes his entrance (with a new GI Joe themed shirt). Cena runs him over with the shoulder to start and powers Theory into the corner without much trouble. Back up and Theory seems to bite Cena’s ear, allowing him to take Cena down for a change.
Cena gets in a few right hands but Theory is back with a rolling Blockbuster for two. A quick STF is broken for Cena and Theory stomps him down as the cockiness continues. Theory slips out of the AA and knocks him into the corner again but Cena comes out swinging. The sleeper cuts him off but Cena powers out and initiates the finishing sequence. The referee gets bumped so there is no one to see Theory tapping out to the STF. A low blow sets up A Town Down to retain the title at 11:18.
Rating: C. This was in the very basic mode but what matters is Theory pinned him in the middle of the ring. That is the only way this should have ended and the cheating doesn’t matter. Cena can lose every match he’s in for the rest of time and still be an all time legend, so the loss means nothing. You can tell Cena has lost a few steps, but he was perfectly fine out there all things considered. It should be a big one for Theory though and that’s what matters.
Braun Strowman/Ricochet vs. Street Profits vs. Viking Raiders vs. Alpha Academy
Titus O’Neil is on commentary and Valhalla is here with the Raiders. Gable ankle locks Ricochet rather quickly to start before Otis comes in to run Ricochet over. Everything breaks down though (Titus approves) and the Vikings clear the ring. Ragnarok plants Ford but the Raiders stop to pose, allowing Strowman to run them both over.
Gable is back in and….somehow he manages rolling Chaos Theory to Strowman. The fans REALLY like that one but Dawkins breaks that up. Ivar drops Dawkins and goes up, only to miss a moonsault. Strowman comes off the top with a splash of his own to Ivar (dang) but a bunch of people make a save.
We get a Tower Of Doom, but this time it’s Otis and Ivar holding up Dawkins and Gable with Ford above THEM, allowing Ricochet to hit a high crossbody to break it up. Now the Strowman Express gets going until Dawkins shoulders him down for a big surprise. Ricochet springboard shooting stars down onto Erik and Dawkins but the shooting star inside hits knees. Ford adds the frog splash to pin Ricochet at 8:23.
Rating: B. This feels like eight people were told to go out there and have fun with one big spot after another. You got to see the talented stars showing off (almost showcasing themselves) and it worked well. There were no stakes and it doesn’t mean anything for now, but this was a lot of fun.
The UpUpDownDown team previews Seth Rollins vs. Logan Paul via video games.
We recap Paul vs. Rollins. Basically Rollins isn’t happy that Paul is getting this much attention without actually being a wrestler. Paul eliminating him from the Royal Rumble and costing him the Elimination Chamber didn’t help either. Since then, Paul has knocked Rollins out a few times (the steel plate in the hand helps), setting up the match.
Logan Paul vs. Seth Rollins
Paul comes down on a zipline (and yes he’d mic’d up) and is accompanied by a dancing bottle of his Prime energy drink. On the other hand, Rollins has a conductor from the Los Angeles Symphony (or something close to it) conducting the crowd as they sing his entrance song. Eh point to Rollins. They circle each other a bit to start with Rollins taking him down without much effort. The Stomp misses but Paul pops back up and sends him outside.
Back in and Rollins sends him into the corner, where Paul snaps Rollins’ throat across the top. The Maverick (Buckshot) Lariat connects and Paul stomps away at the ribs. A standing moonsault gives Paul two and it’s off to an Octopus hold on the mat. With that broken up, Paul jumps from the mat to the top but misses the moonsault, allowing Rollins to throw him over the top.
Three straight suicide dives connect for Rollins and he stomps Paul’s hand on the steps. Back in and they trade rollups for two each before Paul hits the loaded right hand….but he can’t cover because of the stomp. The very delayed cover gets two so Rollins loads up another stomp, only to have the Prime mascot pull Rollins out of the way. It’s…..KSI, Paul’s business partner (and a YouTuber/boxer), which allows Paul to knock him onto the announcers’ table.
The big splash is loaded up but Paul hits KSI as Rollins pulls him in the way. Back in and the Pedigree gets two but the stomp is countered into a fireman’s carry gutbuster (or GTS according to commentary). A frog splash gives Paul two so he tries to go Coast To Coast, only to get superkicked out of the air. The Stomp gives Rollins the pin at 16:11.
Rating: B+. As has been the case, Paul continues to be scary good at this stuff. There were some great near falls in there and Rollins was the right choice to help walk Paul through the match on such a hue stage. Sometimes it’s ok to just let the guys go out there and hit one high spot after another, though they even had the hand injury and Rollins going for the Stomp over and over to tie it together. Paul as a special attraction still works well and it will be great to have him around for the future if he wants to.
We recap Trish Stratus/Lita/Becky Lynch vs. Damage Ctrl. Becky needed some help with the numbers game so Lita showed up for the save. Then they won the titles and Trish Stratus showed up to help as well. Now it’s a six woman tag, with Trish slightly miffed at the suggestion that she is Becky’s backup.
Trish Stratus/Lita/Becky Lynch vs. Damage Ctrl
Trish and company get a comic book themed video and come to the ring in black and white with CGI rain. Well that’s different. The brawl is on before the bell and Becky can’t get the Manhandle Slam. An assisted double neckbreaker drops Becky and Sky hits a running boot in the corner. Becky kicks her way out of trouble but Kai breaks up the tag attempt. The second attempt works though and it’s Lita coming back in to clean house (while looking rather slow and hesitant at times).
A cheap shot puts Damage Ctrl back in, uh, control and the beating is on. Lita suplexes her way out of trouble though and it’s Trish coming in to fire off on Kai in the corner. A neckbreaker gets two on Kai but the Stratusphere is broken up. Instead, Trish sends Kai down onto the other two in a big crash. Back in and Becky’s top rope legdrop sets up the legdrop but the Disarm-Her is broken up.
The Manhandle Slam is broken up and Sky gets in a cheap shot, allowing Bayley to hit the Rose Plant for two, with Lita making the save. Everything breaks down and Stratus hits Kai with Stratusfaction. Becky rolls Bayley up for two and everyone but Sky falls to the floor. Sky moonsaults onto the pile and everyone heads back inside for a slugout. Lita hits the Twist of Fate and Trish hits the Chick Kick, setting up the Litasault. Becky adds a super Manhandle Slam to finish Bayley at 14:37.
Rating: C-. This could have been a lot worse. It wasn’t exactly great but this was more about having Trish and Lita on the big stage again. They are still legends and of course they’re nowhere near what they once were. Neither of them has wrestled a regular schedule and they’re shells of their former selves. The big thing though is they’re still some of the biggest names ever in women’s wrestling and wrestling legends period. Becky got the pin so it isn’t like one of the legends beat a modern star. It wasn’t very good, but it was also far from some disaster.
We recap Rey Mysterio vs. Dominik Mysterio. Rey has tried to be the best father he can to Dominik but wasn’t always there because of wrestling. Eventually Dominik got sick of living in his shadow and joined Judgment Day, who he says is his real family. Then Dominik got arrested for invading Rey’s house on Christmas Eve, earning him a jail sentence of…a few hours. Then earlier this month, Dominik insulted his mom and that was enough to get Rey to FINALLY agree to fight him.
We see Dominik being taken from his cell and being put in the back of a police van…which is then backed into the arena. Dominik, still cuffed and in a lucha mask (looks like Rey’s from Halloween Havoc 1997), is taken to the ring by armed guards. Because of course he does.
Rey Mysterio vs. Dominik Mysterio
Rey on the other hand comes to the ring in a low rider, as driven by Snoop Dogg, complete with the VIVA LA RAZA start to Eddie Guerrero’s theme. After Rey greets Bad Bunny (on Spanish commentary), we’re ready to go. Dominik shoves him around a bit and poses but Rey sends him outside to even things up a bit. Back in and Rey snaps off a running hurricanrana before sending him into the corner for a spanking with a belt.
Dominik rolls outside to throw a drink at his sister Aliyah, drawing her over the barricade. Rey isn’t having that and helps get her back over, allowing Dominik to get in a cheap shot. A Falcon Arrow drops Rey again and Dominik goes outside to yell at his mom. She slaps the heck out of him (oh yeah there’s a reaction) and Rey makes the save, while throwing in a kiss. Dominik gets in a cheap shot back inside as the rest of Judgment Day is here.
Dominik loads up a powerbomb and sends Rey backwards, face first into the buckle (that looked NASTY). Three Amigos are broken up and Rey fights back up but the Judgment Day distraction lets Dominik get in a cheap shot. Cue the LWO (took them long enough) to go after Judgment Day but the distraction lets Dominik hit a 619 into the frog splash for two. With nothing else working, Dominik whips out a chain but Bad Bunny takes it away. The 619 and a frog splash connect to finish Dominik at 14:28.
Rating: A-. This was GREAT and I had a blast with the whole thing. The main thing here is the fans were into it the whole way and carried it so much further. The key to the whole story is that it is something you can relate to. How many parents have had a kid who thought way too much of themselves and ran their mouth to the point where you wanted to (emphasis on those words) smack them? The action was awesome and I wasn’t sure who was winning until the ending, so well done all around. Quite likely Rey’s best Wrestlemania match ever too.
We recap Charlotte vs. Rhea Ripley. They have met before at Wrestlemania and Charlotte beat her, which has Charlotte believing that she can do it again. This is a different Ripley though and she is ready to prove that she is the best.
Smackdown Women’s Title: Charlotte vs. Rhea Ripley
Ripley is challenging. They hit shoulders to start with Charlotte going down, allowing Rhea to tell her to suck it. Back in and they slug it out, with Ripley knocking her into the corner. Ripley bodyscissors her, followed by a German suplex to cut off the comeback. Charlotte gets in a shot and goes after the knee, as is her custom, but Ripley isn’t having that. Riptide is blocked and they trade big boots to leave them both down.
They slug it out until Charlotte snaps off a fall away slam and goes up top. That takes too long though and Ripley catches her with a release German superplex for two, leaving Ripley stunned. Charlotte goes to the knee again and Natural Selection gets two. They go outside with Charlotte missing a charge into the steps, allowing Ripley to hit a belly to back faceplant for two.
Charlotte rolls some German suplexes but Ripley gets one of her own (with Charlotte almost landing on her head). Charlotte is fine enough to hit a big boot and Ripley is sent outside, where the moonsault connects. The Figure Four is blocked and Charlotte almost runs into the referee, leaving Ripley to hit Riptide for…two (yeah you knew Charlotte would get to kick out of that at least once).
The stunned Ripley gets small packaged for two and the Prism Trap goes on instead. Charlotte makes the ropes and the referee is almost bumped, meaning a spear can give Charlotte two. They slug it out until Charlotte hits another big boot into the Figure Four but Ripley is right next to the ropes. Ripley goes to the apron and they both go up, with Charlotte being dropped face first onto the post. Charlotte is out and the super Riptide gives Ripley the pin and the title at 23:32.
Rating: B+. This started slowly but once they got into the big falls they had me wondering where it was going. While it would have been hard to imagine Ripley losing, there is always that chance with Charlotte in there. What matters is Ripley gets the win that matters and becomes the new star. Charlotte needs to go away from Ripley for a bit (it feels like she hasn’t been on Raw in a long time) and let her be the big deal. For now they, I’ll take Ripley getting the title that she has earned and getting it by pinning Charlotte at Wrestlemania.
Austin Theory brags about his win and asks if you believe in Theory now.
Miz and Snoop Dogg announce the attendance: 80,497. Dogg says the only thing better than those numbers would be if Miz had a match. As it turns out, Miz has put out an open challenge for a Wrestlemania match (even on MySpace) and no one answered. Cue Pat McAfee to say he didn’t see an open challenge but he’s in his Wrestlemania tank top.
Miz says he would love to but just because he is the Wrestlemania host doesn’t mean he can make matches. That’s good for a TINY BALLS chant and McAfee asks who can make a match. Snoop decides he can and the match is on. Miz yells at him but Snoop says “I don’t do this. I rap.” And we’re off.
Miz vs. Pat McAfee
Miz is in street clothes and walks into a spinebuster. McAfee puts him on top and backflips off, allowing Miz to dive into a superkick to send him outside. Miz yells at San Francisco 49 (and wrestling fanatic) George Kittle, who jumps the barricade and clotheslines him, allowing McAfee to flip dive off the pose to take Miz out. Back in and the punt finishes Miz at 3:31.
Rating: C. It was quick, it was funny, they had the celebrity stuff includes and Miz losing is hardly anything new. This was a nice way to give the fans something easy between the Women’s Title match and the main event. Throw in Graves losing his mind over all things McAfee and this was a quick side trip that didn’t hurt anything.
Wrestlemania XL is in Philadelphia.
We recap Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn vs. the Usos. Zayn was at his lowest point just after Wrestlemania last year and needed help. He tried to join the Bloodline and finally got them to say yes, though Jey Uso didn’t trust him. During his attempts to get the team to trust him, Zayn attacked on/off again friend Kevin Owens. Then Roman Reigns changed his mind on Zayn, who turned on Reigns to leave the Bloodline. Jey, who had finally embraced him, walked away as Zayn tried to get Owens on his side. Zayn finally begged enough and got Owens to join him again to fight the Bloodline, including the title match here.
Lil Uzi Vert (a rapper from Philadelphia) performs before the Usos’ entrance and then poses with them.
Tag Team Titles: Usos vs. Kevin Owens/Sami Zayn
Owens and Zayn are challenging and it’s pretty amazing that they have made it here. Zayn starts with Jimmy but let’s make it Jey instead. Jey takes over and sends Zayn outside for a clothesline and posting. Back in and the champs start taking turns on Zayn, who gets to stagger around like he’s barely hanging in there as he does so well. Zayn finally gets away though and hands it off to Owens who comes in and goes nuts.
A Swanton off the top to the floor takes out both Usos and a bullfrog splash gets two back inside. The Swanton only hits Jimmy’s knees though and Jey adds the Superfly Splash for two. Owens pops back up though and kicks Jimmy into the corner for the Cannonball. Zayn brainbusters Jey into the apron and the Swanton gives Owens two on Jimmy in a near fall. Zayn’s Superfly Splash gets two on Jimmy and there’s the Blue Thunder Bomb but Jey comes in off a blue tag.
A jumping superkick hits Zayn for two and even more superkicks get two more, with Owens making the save. Double basement superkicks get two more on Zayn, who won’t give up. Owens breaks up the 1D though and sends Jimmy into the announcers’ table over and over. Jey makes the save though and it’s a double chokeslam to send Owens through the table. Now the 1D connects on Zayn for two and Jey is livid.
Jey unloads on Zayn in the corner and Zayn of course looks like he’s dead on his feet (or incredibly drunk), with a Helluva Kick from Jey making it worse. The trash talk is on but Zayn hits an exploder into the corner. Owens is back up for the tag and it’s a Helluva Kick to Jimmy and a Stunner to Jey….for two in a heck of a false finish (they got me there). They both stand up (Owens: “LET’S END IT”!) and it’s time for the barrage of superkicks.
Owens gets dropped and Zayn is kicked on the floor, setting up the double Superfly Splash for the very near fall. More superkicks drop Owens but he reverses a superplex into the swinging superplex, allowing the big tag to Zayn. The Helluva Kick in the corner hits Jey and, after Zayn whispers something to him, another Helluva Kick knocks him silly. Owens Stuns Jimmy and the third Helluva Kick finishes Jey and ends the title reign at 24:07.
Rating: A-. This was all about the moment and it was a smash hit. They had set this story up months ago and now they got the chance to pay the whole thing off. The last few minutes were the kind of situation where you could feel the big moment coming but they made you wait for it anyway. It was a heck of a match (cut out the superkick spamming and it’s even better) and the best way to close out a pretty awesome night.
Owens and Zayn celebrate in an emotional moment.
The big highlight package wraps us up.
Overall Rating: B+. This was a heck of a show with only a little bit that wasn’t very good or better. Wrestling aside though, this was built around one important thing: stories that had been set up months in advance and are being paid off. Theory vs. Cena, Rey vs. Dominik, Ripley vs. Charlotte and the main event were all set up a good while ago and we got to see how it went to get us to the payoffs. That made them all the sweeter and it was a much more emotional moment as a result.
As for the show itself, you had a series of strong matches, with Rey vs. Dominik, the Women’s Title and the main event all being awesome, plus a very good showcase match. The six woman tag wasn’t very good and the opener was just ok, but the rest of the show worked well. I had a blast with this show and it felt special, which is the point of Wrestlemania. Nicely done and Night Two has its work cut out.
Austin Theory b. John Cena – A Town Down
Street Profits b. Braun Strowman/Ricochet, Alpha Academy and Viking Raiders – Frog splash to Ricochet
Seth Rollins b. Logan Paul – Stomp
Trish Stratus/Lita/Becky Lynch b. Damage Ctrl – Super Manhandle Slam to Bayley
Rey Mysterio b. Dominik Mysterio – Frog splash
Rhea Ripley b. Charlotte – Super Riptide
Pat McAfee b. Miz – Punt
Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens b. Usos – Helluva Kick to Jey
Remember to follow me on Twitter @kbreviews and head over to my Amazon author page with 30 different cheap wrestling books at: