Date: March 24, 2023
Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena, Las Vegas, Nevada
Commentators: Michael Cole, Wade Barrett
We are eight days away from Wrestlemania and there isn’t much left to get ready for the show. The big things remaining is finding out who will be in the women’s showcase tag match, as there are three spots remaining. Other than that, expect a lot of hard pushes towards what is already announced. Let’s get to it.
We open with a recap of last week’s Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens reunion which set up the Tag Team Title match at Wrestlemania.
Cody Rhodes vs. Ludvig Kaiser
Giovanni Vinci is here with Kaiser, who doesn’t get an entrance. Cody suplexes Kaiser to start as Paul Heyman comes out to watch. A running knee sends Kaiser outside and we take an early break. Back with Rhodes hammering away against the announcers’ table but the Cody Cutter is broken up back inside. Cody fights out of a chinlock but gets the rope kicked into his arm to put him back down.
A Disaster Kick gets Cody out of trouble as Solo Sikoa comes out as well. That’s enough for Kaiser to take out Cody’s knee and send him into the steps as we take a break. Back with Cody fighting up as Heyman and Sikoa aren’t pleased. Cody powerslams him for two but gets hit in the face. Kaiser gets pulled out of the air but Cross Rhodes is blocked. Instead the Cody Cutter connects and Cross Rhodes finishes at 16:28.
Rating: C+. The well done builds continue as Cody racks up another win despite the Bloodline’s presence. That’s exactly what it needed to be as Cody broke a sweat and beat someone associated with Gunther, who he will likely be seeing later. This might not have been some classic, but it did what it was supposed to do without any problem.
Post match Sikoa gets on the apron but Heyman holds him back. Heyman owes Cody an apology and handles the proper ring announcement for the win. Cody is STILL the challenger for the REIGNING, DEFENDING champion Roman Reigns but he has a big obstacle in his way on Raw when he faces Sikoa. After that, all roads lead to Roman Reigns, who will be live on Smackdown last week for the final face to face showdown with Cody.
That’s fine with Cody, who says he beat Seth Rollins with one arm and promises to show Sikoa that he isn’t ready. At Wrestlemania, Reigns is going to find out that he isn’t ready either. That has Heyman glaring as Cody throws the mic down. They’ve done almost everything right so far and now it’s all about sticking the landing at Wrestlemania. If they do that, it’s a home run.
The opening match of Wrestlemania Night One: John Cena vs. Austin Theory. That’s one way to start it.
Here is Charlotte for a chat. She is a 14 time champion and that isn’t because of insecurity or nepotism. Wrestling wasn’t built on fear but rather respect, which is what she has for Rhea Ripley. She respected Nikki and Brie, the Four Horsewomen and almost every other woman of the modern era. She gets annoyed at the WHATing so the fans switch to WOOing. Charlotte loves her dad and diamonds are forever, just like her. This has been Charlotte Is Awesome theater for the week.
Rey Mysterio vs. LA Knight
Rey’s family is at ringside and he hammers away in the corner to start. Knight takes him down and stomps away before hitting the jumping neckbreaker. A headscissors sends Knight outside though and Rey dropkicks him through the ropes. Back in and Rey goes up but cue Dominik Mysterio for a distraction, allowing Knight to crotch him down.
We come back with Knight kicking Rey in the face but missing the big elbow. Rey grabs a DDT but the 619 is pulled out of the air. Another headscissors takes Knight down again so Dominik offers a distraction to break up another 619 attempt, allowing Knight to get the rollup pin at 11:01.
Rating: C. The finish wasn’t a clean one (and it shouldn’t have been) but I’ll take Knight getting a win that might matter a bit for a change. The ending also probably sets up the post match shenanigans to get the Mysterios to Wrestlemania as they continue to take the right steps. Rey isn’t hurt by losing this way and Knight gets a bit of a boost so well done all around.
Post match Dominik gets in the ring to challenge Rey again but Rey rolls away. Dominik asks his mom what it’s like to have such a coward for a husband. He calls his mom a deadbeat too and says his sister is too stupid to understand. His mom (Angie) pulls the mic away but Dominik tells her to shut up. That’s too far for Rey, who FINALLY punches Dominik out. As Dominik looks terrified, Rey says you don’t disrespect your mother like that and the match is on for Wrestlemania.
Andy Kaufman is going into the Hall Of Fame.
Lacey Evans/Xia Li vs. Natalya/Shotzi
The winners go on to the Wrestlemania showcase match and Liv Morgan/Raquel Rodriguez are at ringside. Lacey takes Shotzi down to start and Li does the same. It’s back to Lacey or a handstand Bronco Buster in the corner and a clothesline gets two on Shotzi. Everything breaks down and Lacey punches Shotzi out by mistake. Natalya kicks Lacey to the floor so Shotzi can hit a suicide dive, leaving Li to get hart Attacked. The Sharpshooter makes Li tap at 3:31.
Rating: C-. Yeah fine sure whatever. This match is already feeling like the least important thing on Wrestlemania in a very long time and having Evans/Li as a team trying to make Wrestlemania doesn’t make it better. Natalya being there is no surprise as she is always around, but my goodness it is almost impossible to care when they’re basically saying “there’s no story here and we’re just doing this to have people in the ring”.
Post match Shayna Baszler and Ronda Rousey are here to mock the two teams who have already qualified. They’re in the Wrestlemania match too, just because.
It’s time for the contract signing for the Wrestlemania Intercontinental Title match. Drew McIntyre is here when Adam Pearce starts the introductions. Cue Sheamus and the Brawling Brutes to interrupt with Sheamus talking about how much he has done for McIntyre over the years. Sheamus is ready to beat McIntyre up but McIntyre cuts him off for whining too much. They used to beat each other up and Sheamus can’t tell the difference between business and personal these days. McIntyre knows he can beat Sheamus and Gunther, the latter of which Sheamus can’t do.
Pearce tries to calm things down and gets them both to sign (with McIntyre throwing the pen to a fan because he knows how to be popular). Cue Imperium, with Gunther saying he wants to know why he is being treated to this. He signs, but says whatever he does at Wrestlemania will be justified. He’ll beat Sheamus and McIntyre and the rest of the Brutes if he has to, so Butch jumps him. Gunther DEMANDS a match with Butch right now (and absolutely launches the table over the top in a really impressive display) and here we go.
Gunther vs. Butch
Non-title. Joined in progress with Gunther kicking him in the face and hitting a hard slam. A butterfly suplex (and a good one) drops Butch again before Gunther starts with the chops. Butch tries a choke but gets chopped back down. Some enziguris work a bit better for Butch but Gunther suplexes him into the corner.
The boot choke in the corner makes it worse and we take a break. Back with Butch working on the arm, only to get pulled into the sleeper. With that broken up, Gunther takes it outside for a staredown with Sheamus and McIntyre. The brawl between everyone not in the match is on, with Gunther hitting the Last Symphony to finish Butch at 9:33.
Rating: B-. Ok so it wasn’t Butch vs. Walter but for an impromptu match that didn’t have a lot of time, this was probably the best action on the show. They beat each other up for a bit and Butch was acting rather Pete Dunne like (as he has been for his more recent appearances). Gunther gets to remind people that he’s a monster and that should make the Wrestlemania match all the better.
Post match the staredown is on with McIntyre Claymoring Gunther down.
The Street Profits are fired up but Ricochet and Braun Strowman come in to request the smoke.
It’s time for the KO Show with Kevin Owens bringing out Sami Zayn. They talk about whether they should have come out together or apart, with Owens thinking Sami just wanted his own pop. That’s ok though because Owens gets it. It’s time to talk about Wrestlemania, where they have the chance to make history. Owens has a present for Sami though, because a few months ago, he said Sami needed a new shirt. That means we see the new KO Mania shirt, which says WrestleZAYNia. Sami puts it on and goes for a hug, but Owens says one a year. They do hug but here are the Usos to jump them and run off to end the show.
Overall Rating: C+. This was a good example of a show where they weren’t trying to do anything too drastic or make anything major (save for maybe finally making Rey vs. Dominik) and just hold things in place for Wrestlemania. There are two major shows left before then and there isn’t much of a reason to believe that anything huge is coming. Sometimes you just need to keep things where they are and WWE has reached that point with Wrestlemania. Don’t do anything stupid next Monday and Friday and they can roll into SoFi ready to nail it.
Cody Rhodes b. Ludvig Kaiser – Cross Rhodes
LA Knight b. Rey Mysterio – Rollup
Natalya/Shotzi b. Lacey Evans/Xia Li – Sharpshooter to Li
Gunther b. Butch – Last Symphony
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