For the second year in a row, WWE split WrestleMania into 2 nights. While last year was the first major show of the pandemic era – in a completely empty WWE Performance Center – the second two-night Mania is the first to return fans to a stadium. It was nice to have fans back, but after a year of making due with empty arenas or wrestling in front of hundreds of Zoom calls, it was just as weird to have the fans back as it was without them.
The first night of WrestleMania 37 was all about the SmackDown! Women’s Championship match, which made history by being the first WrestleMania main event between two Black athletes.
After winning the ROYAL RUMBLE in January, Bianca Belair chose Sasha Banks as her WrestleMania opponent, and she continued to make 2021 the year of the EST with a phenomenal showing here. She has an impressive combination of strength and agility and she spent the main event showing off all of her abilities. Spot of the match was easily when she caught Sasha off a suicide dive, rolled through and picked her up, pressing Banks overhead and walking her back into the ring. Later, Belair pressed Banks up and down setting up a suplex. Back in the late-1980s, Jesse Ventura probably would have chastised her for expending too much energy needlessly in the match, but the visual was amazing.
Despite walking into the match as the champion, Banks felt like a complete afterthought in the match. Belair shined throughout, and now she gets to shine with the women’s championship around her waist.
Best Match: Cesaro defeated Seth Rollins – This may be a controversial choice, but I’ve been a fan of Cesaro since his first match in WWE and he’s been so criminally underutilized that he’s never had a one-on-one match at WrestleMania! I firmly believe he should have had at least one world championship reign under his belt. He and Rollins had a great match here and Cesaro continues to be wildly impressive in everything he does, including a modified reverse airplane spin where he didn’t even have to hold on to Rollins! Seriously, the man is amazing. Hopefully this win kicks off a hot period for the Swiss Superman, because he definitely deserves it.
Worst Match: Steel Cage Match: Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon – A close call for worst match on the show, but the meandering, often-boring steel cage match went on way too long. The 51-year-old Shane O’Mac needed a lot of gaga to make the match feel like a contest, but even with the steel chair, the sheet metal and the hidden tool box just felt like it was delaying the inevitable. Strowman ripping open the cage to drag Shane back in was an impressive sight, but it couldn’t save the match. Even the crowd didn’t seem to care about the match.
Not Yet – After waiting more than a year to see a WWE event with fans back in the stands, we all had to wait just a little bit longer. Rains in Tampa Bay caused a half-hour delay to the start of the show. Instead of kicking off the action, we got a series of impromptu interviews with Night 1 competitors, further hyping the show. And when the 34-minute rain delay ended, he had an introduction to the show from co-hosts Titus O’Neil and Hulk Hogan.
A Surprising Opening – The show proper opened with the WWE Championship match between champion Bobby Lashley and the man who walked out of NIGHT 2 of WrestleMania 36 as champion, Drew McIntyre. It was expected that Drew would get a coronation in front of fans to make up for last year’s show in an empty arena, but it wasn’t to be. McIntyre and Lashley had a pretty intense brawl, and this was probably my favorite Bobby Lashley match ever. In the end, Lashley’s manager, MVP, was the deciding factor, tripping up Drew and allowing Lashley to cinch in the Hurt Lock. Lashley has been a great character with MVP at his side, and he definitely deserves a nice, long title reign.
Role Reversal – Usually, in a tag team match, the heat segment is reserved for a member of the babyface team working on getting a tag as the heels beat him up. But in the Raw Tag Team Championship match between champions the New Day and AJ Styles and Omos, things were a little different. Styles started out for his team as Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods desperately tried to keep the 7’3” Omos out of the ring. And they were right to be wary of the giant, because once Styles’ bodyguard made it into the ring, the match was essentially over. After manhandling New Day for a little bit, Omos slammed down Kingston, put his foot on his chest and got an easy win.
Ranking WrestleMania 37 – Night 1
*DISCLAIMER* The rankings are for discussion purposes only and in no way reflect an official or authoritative list. It is simply my opinion. If you disagree, let me know in the comment.
1 – Cesaro defeated Seth Rollins
2 – SmackDown! Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair defeated Sasha Banks (c)
3 – WWE Championship Match: Bobby Lashley (c) defeated Drew McIntyre
4 – Bad Bunny and Damian Priest defeated Miz and John Morrison
5 – Raw Tag Team Championship Match: AJ Styles and Omos defeated Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods (c)
6 – Tag Team Turmoil No. 1 Contenders Match: Natalya and Tamina defeated the Riott Squad, Naomi and Lana, Billy Kay and Carmella and Naomi and Lana
7 – Steel Cage Match: Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon
The 2021 WWE Pea-Per-View Top 10
Night 1 gives us some new additions, which are marked in bold.
1 – Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Daniel Bryan w/ Edge as Special Enforcer – Fast Lane 2021
2 – Elimination Chamber No. 1 Contenders Match: Daniel Bryan defeated Jey Uso, Cesaro, Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn and Baron Corbin – Elimination Chamber 2021
3 – Universal Championship Last Man Standing Match: Roman Reigns (c) defeated Kevin Owens – Royal Rumble 2021
4 – No Holds Barred Match: Drew McIntyre defeated Sheamus – Fast Lane 2021
5 – Bianca Belair wins 30-woman Royal Rumble – Royal Rumble 2021
6 – Cesaro defeated Seth Rollins – WrestleMania 37 Night 1
7 – WWE Championship Elimination Chamber Match: Drew McIntyre (c) defeated AJ Styles, Sheamus, Jeff Hardy, Kofi Kingston and Randy Orton
8 – SmackDown! Women’s Championship: Bianca Belair defeated Sasha Banks (c) – WrestleMania 37 Night 1
9 – WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre (c) defeats Goldberg – Royal Rumble 2021
10 – Seth Rollins defeated Shinsuke Nakamura – Fast Lane 2021
We’ll be back tomorrow night with Night 2 of WrestleMania 37! Stay tuned!