Happy Wednesday Everyone!
We enter the Two Night Mania Era this week, including two matches in front of zero fans that I’m absolutely dreading, but we’ll get through it. Both of these shows happened after I’d long since given up on following the WWE product on a week to week basis, so if there’s any relevant storyline stuff I miss out on then please feel free to note it in the comments section.
WrestleMania 2020 Night One
WWE Women’s Tag Titles
Champs: The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane) Vs Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
Asuka and Sane had a decent run with the belts that started with them defeating their opponents for this match, so now we’ve got the long awaited blow off between the two teams. At least I assume it was long awaited by those who were watching every week. It’s actually a decent match to start, with the challengers shining on the Champs, with both of them doing dives off the apron.
The Champs get serious and grab hold of the match after a certain point, with Asuka sending Bliss into the ring post and Sane getting a head scissors on the floor on Cross for the cut off. Cross sells well in the heat, although this sort of stuff loses something when there aren’t fans in the building to get behind Cross and cheer for her to make the hot tag.
Bliss gets the hot tag after a brief heat segment and runs wild, which is always kind of humorous to me as she’s so small but Heels sell for her like she’s Terry Gordy or something. They soon swarm Bliss and cut her off as well though, meaning we look to be having the old RnR Express double heat spot. I’m not sure this match needed a double heat segment to be honest, but Bliss sells it well enough and The Champs are very good at working heat.
Cross gets a hot tag segment as well and looks good, showing impressive fire and personality. Nikki Cross is just really good and I long for the day they just let her be “Best in the Galaxy” Nikki Storm again. The finishing stretch is nicely done, with both teams getting some chances to win it and some of the last minute saves being executed well. Eventually Cross gets a neck breaker on Sane and Bliss comes off the top with a Twisted Bliss splash for three.
WINNERS AND NEW CHAMPIONS: BLISS-CROSS
They maybe went a little bit too long, but aside from that this was a good match and in front of a crowd I think it would have got some decent reactions. Kairi Sane left WWE not too soon after this I think, whilst Asuka got a run in the singles division again with a lengthy Title reign. Bliss would end up becoming a crazed fangirl of Bray Wyatt, complete with magical powers, which led to her team with Cross coming to an end.
WrestleMania 2020 Night Two
NXT Women’s Title
Champ: Rhea Ripley Vs Charlotte Flair
Charlotte won the Rumble and then answered Ripley’s goading to set up an NXT Title match here. I think they wanted to give NXT a big star for a bit in order to help them in the Wednesday Night War as well, so having Flair in the NXT Title mix made sense in that regard. They talk a lot of smack to one another in this one, which is a good way to make up for there being no fans.
This is a very good match, with some good intensity being shown by both wrestlers and the work itself being to a good standard as well. Charlotte does sell quite a bit for Ripley as well, which helps with making Ripley look like a genuine star rather than just someone who is here to do a job on the big show for the established wrestler.
It’s a very assured performance from Ripley in general here, as she looks the part and wrestles the part, whilst Charlotte almost always delivers in the ring when she’s focused and in there with someone who she’s willing to work with and make look competitive. Ripley actually gets a decent chunk of offence in during the early stages of the match, but she gets her leg caught up in the ropes and that leads to Charlotte cutting her off and working over the body part in classic Flair style.
Ripley does an excellent job selling the leg and Charlotte’s offence looks suitably vicious, with both wrestlers continuing to be vocal throughout the contest in order to make up for the fact that there aren’t any fans in the building to react to the action. Some of Charlotte’s chops in particular just echo throughout the building and sound brutal, as do some of Ripley’s kicks. It works far better in an empty building than other matches would.
Ripley eventually makes the comeback, continuing to sell her leg in the process, which leads us into the closing stretch. Both wrestlers have chances to win it, with Ripley busting out the big WrestleMania Missile Dropkick at one stage for a near fall. That looked fantastic. Charlotte mostly gets submission teases, including a Walls of Jericho at one stage on Ripley (Although they just call it a Boston Crab on commentary). Both wrestlers manage to survive, but eventually Charlotte catches Ripley in the Figure Eight and that’s enough for the submission win.
WINNER AND NEW CHAMPION: CHARLOTTE FLAIR
This was an excellent match, with both women working hard and doing a better job than most of making it up for the lack of fans in the building by just upping the intensity of the match itself whilst remaining vocal throughout so that the silence was always filled and wasn’t as noticeable. Charlotte winning here wasn’t such a bad idea as it was the first match and you could always build to Ripley getting the belt back and thus getting a rub from beating the established star in the process. However, Flair did not drop the belt back to Ripley and instead Io Shirai would win it in a triple threat match, meaning Ripley got very little out of the feud and WWE doesn’t even count this win towards Charlotte’s total of World Titles either, so she didn’t really get much out of it either. Still, we got a great match out of it, so there’s that at least.
WrestleMania 2021 Night One
Champ: Bobby Lashley w/ MVP Vs Drew McIntyre
Drew had the misfortune of being the empty arena Champion, as fans were never there to see him with the belt. He ended up losing the belt when Miz cashed in Money in the Bank on him, which mostly happened thanks to Lashley first putting a beating on Drew. Before Drew could get some revenge on Miz though, Lashley ended up crushing the new Champ to win the belt himself. Thus Drew is not only looking to win the belt in front of fans but he also wants revenge on Lashley for the beat down that cost him the belt in the first place.
The fifth gen graphics they put over the entrances now are NO BUYS. Honestly I think Soul Edge on the PSX looks better. Drew and Lashley are on the small list of guys in WWE who aren’t treated like chumps most of the time, so this match is actually interesting to watch as a result, because two stars wrestling one another is COOL and we used to get it all the time before WWE turned most of the roster into the equivalent of wrestling mulch.
This match is two big lads throwing bombs at each other, and it’s an entertaining example of that genre of pro wrestling. It’s fought at a pretty quick clip when you consider the size of both men, but they’re not only big but also freak athletes who are in great shape, so you’re not going to a get a Warlord Vs Hercules type match here. It’s worked in quite a back and forth nature too, with the crowd getting into watching the big lads fling one another around.
The finishing stretch is executed well, with both wrestlers getting some near falls and the crowd continued to be invested in the action. Some of these power moves are just absolutely unreal as well, including Drew heaving Lashley over with a reverse Alabama Slam at one stage. We also get the tease of the Big Boy Superplex, which is always a guaranteed easy pop, but Lashley manages to fight it off like the big ol’ party pooper he is.
Drew does bust out the big WrestleMania TOPE CON HILO at one stage though, which gets the expected big reaction from the crowd and looked great also. Lashley replies with a series of big moves back inside the ring though and preps for the Full Nelson, but Drew does his best British Bulldog at WrestleMania VII impression and manages to get out of the hold before going to a Kimura for the submission tease, which leads to Lashley having to make the ropes.
Sadly the finish doesn’t quite work, as Drew is supposed to be distracted by MVP so that it gives Lashley a chance to dodge the Claymore Kick, but they don’t quite get the execution right and the spot ends up feeling flat as a result. Lashley goes to the Full Nelson following that and that leads to the ref stoppage finish, as WWE welcomes fans back to arenas with HEAT.
WINNER AND STILL CHAMPION: BOBBY LASHLEY
This was all kinds of fun, as both men were working really hard and the action was hard hitting nd exciting. It’s a shame the finish didn’t go as well as it could have done, but aside from that this was a darned good slice of pro wrestling. It was probably too early to take the belt off Lashley here, but it sure sucked for Drew that he had to fail right when crowds were welcomed back to buildings. I do wonder why they decided to open with this, as they could have easily put it on later in the show and instead opened with a match where the babyfaces won to set the show off on the right foot.
WrestleMania 2021 Night Two
Randy Orton Vs The Fiend w/ Alexa Bliss
This one came about after Randy Orton burnt The Fiend TO A CRISP in one of their matches, leading to Bliss feuding with Orton for a bit as she’d become The Fiend’s ally. The Fiend eventually came back looking like an unused design for one of the monsters in the Resident Evil and battered Orton so that Bliss could pin him in a suggestive manner to set up this one. This is one of those feuds that makes me thankful that I don’t watch the show anymore to be honest, as every clip from it that I saw made it make Hogan Vs The Dungeon of DOOM feud from WCW look like Austin Vs McMahon.
I’m still not entirely sure who the babyface was supposed to be in this feud, as all three of them are exceedingly unlikeable. They do at least have The Fiend morph back to his non burned form here, so we don’t have to watch Orton try and wrestle Nemesis on pay per view. There is a big jack in the box at ringside for this one, which will become important later on. Sadly I mean an actual jack in the box and not a fast food restaurant. Fiend of course comes out of that to a big pop.
So after this bizarre feud where people have been burned and have vomited up scary black goo, we now just get two fellers having a match at WrestleMania, and not a particularly good one at that. Fiend does leap off the box onto Orton to start us out, as it looks like he’s the babyface here, which leads to them heading outside where Fiend no sells getting suplexed on the announce table. I didn’t hate The Fiend as much as others did, but this character was not conducive to good wrestling matches outside of rare exceptions involving Daniel Bryan.
Cole actually calls the jack in the box a “box-like structure” at one stage, as I just can’t even with this WWE speak anymore. I honestly thought that one was a joke that Scott Keith used to make; I didn’t actually think it was something people on this show actually said. The match is pretty much just Orton trying to hurt The Fiend and having no luck with it. So essentially every Undertaker match prior to Mankind showing up, which not coincidentally is when Undertaker matches started getting good.
The finish is an all-time stinker as well, as Bliss shows up on top of the box-like structure with black goo bleeding from her head, which distracts Fiend long enough for Orton to hit an RKO for the win. So Orton tried everything to try and hurt The Fiend in their feud, including BURNING HIM TO A CRISP, and just spent having a match with him where not a single offensive manoeuvre even left a dent, but then one RKO was enough for the three count?!?! They can’t even get their wacky internal logic straight on stuff like this!
WINNER: RANDY ORTON
Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh boy was this awful. It just made no sense that after everything that happened in this feud the blow off would just be two guys having a regular match at Mania with a weak distraction finish. If Bliss was going to turn on Fiend to cost him the match then shouldn’t she have done more than just distract him with black goo?
That last match was awful, but everything else was good.
Thanks for joining me on this journey. We might try it again with SummerSlam later in the year if everyone enjoyed this. I’m not sure what I’ll be reviewing next week but I’ll find something.