Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Kevin Owens in a No Holds Barred match, and Cody Rhodes returned to the WWE.
Night 1 of WrestleMania 38 was a wild one. The topline news is that Stone Cold Steve Austin returned not just for the Kevin Owens Show, but had a full-fledged No Holds Barred match with Kevin Owens in the main event of the show. It's 2022 and let me tell you, no one is over like Stone Cold Steve Austin.
It was one of two very pleasant surprises on the show, following the return of Cody Rhodes. Rhodes faced Seth Rollins in the best match of the night in hopefully won't be the last time these two wrestle. Speaking of rematches, Charlotte Flair beat Ronda Rousey to retain her SmackDown Women's Championship, but did so in a way that almost guarantees a rematch,
A new champion was crowned on the show when Bianca Belair defeated Becky Lynch for the Raw Women's Championship. Another highlight was, surprisingly, the appearance of Logan Paul. You may hate him, and that's the point: He's a natural performer. He came off terrific in his winning effort teaming with The Miz against Rey and Dominik Mysterio.
Night 2 of WrestleMania promises more fun to come, including a possible classic match between AJ Styles and Edge. Of course, the big match of the weekend is Roman Reigns versus Brock Lesnar for both the WWE Championship and the Universal Championship.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was advertised to appear on the Kevin Owens Show, but this has turned into much more. Kevin Owens came out and trashed atalked Texas, which led to Steve Austin coming out to an insane pop. This isn't the Steve Austin of old -- he's in jean shorts and a T-shirt rather than a leather vest and tights -- but he's still loved.
They have an exchange in the ring where Owens challenges Steve Austin to a No-Holds Barred match, and Austin accepted.
The No Holds Barred match amounted to a hectic brawl all around AT&T Stadium. Steve Austin is 58 years young and has an infamously bad neck, but he gve a lot here, taking bumps all over the place. At one point, Owens suplexed Austin onto the concrete floor. Ouch.
It bgan with Austin stomping a mudhole into Owens in the corner as the crowd counted along with the boots, then spilled to the outside where Owens threw Austin into the turnbuckle post. Owens set up a table and tried to send Austin through it, but Austin reversed the move and Owens crashed through.
They then brawled into the crowd, where Austin ate a suplex on the unforgiving ground. When they came back into the ringside area, Austin threw Owens from the barricade onto the table. Owens then tried to ride Austin's buggy up the ramp, but Austin stopped him, jumped aboard and drive them both up to the stage. Austin gave Owens a suplex on both sides of the stage.
When they came into the ring, Owens hit Austin with a Stunner for a two count. Owens then got a chair and took a swing at Austin, but missed. The chair hit the ropes then rebounded into Owens' face, dazing him. Austin then hit him with a Stunner of his own for the win.
Rating: Who cares, it was a Stone Cold Steve Austin match.
Ronda Rousey has lost at WrestleMania for the second time. After an intense match, Charlotte hit a Big Boot on Ronda Rousey to get the win.
The story is that Rousey technically beat Charlotte twice beforehand. First, she landed a Piper's Pit and the ref counted to 3, but rescinded the call after he noticed Charlotte had her foot on the ropes. Later, Charlotte had inadvertently speared the referee and, with the ref down, Rousey locked Charlotte in an armbar and got the tap.
The referee didn't see it, and Rousey broke the hold to go wake the ref up. While she was distracted, Charlotte surprised her with the Big Boot for the win.
I really enjoyed the action here. Rousey looked sloppy when she returned at the Royal Rumble, but she did great tonight. Her slams and Judo throws are convincing -- as you'd expect from a Judo champion -- and she just has a physical charisma that few others can match. Aside from one botched Moonsault spot, which you can see below, everything flowed well.
One of the consistent highlights was the submission exchanges, with Rousey repeatedly going for the Ankle Lock. She secured it at one point for a great false finish, as Flair did a fantastic job selling like she was about to tap. Flair then got the Figure Eight but Rousey was able to get out. Cole said Ronda is the first person to get out of the Figure Eight, which is almost definitely not true.
The issue was the crowd didn't seem to know how to react. They liked Ronda, but not enough to get behind her en masse. (Ronda is a natural heel, as everyone keeps saying.) They don't like Charlotte, but not enough to vociferously boo her. The action was strong, but the crowd responses didn't match. This obviously sets up a rematch, with Rousey "beating Flair twice" before losing, so hopefully the crowd clicks more next time.
Rating: 3.75 stars. A very good match that will hopefully setup a great rematch.
Seth Rollins mystery WrestleMania opponent was none other than Cody Rhodes, who returned using his AEW theme song and American Nightmare moniker. Cody's return was a legitimate goosebump moment, a great WrestleMania scene.
At the beginning of the match Cody caught Rollins with an armdrag, then did his old Stardust cartwheel taunt, a great nod to Rhodes' previous WWE character.
The first three quarters of the match were good. Back and forth action with little psychology, but totally fine. The last quarter was outstanding. This essentially became a war of attrition, as Rhodes and Rollins both kicked out of big move after big move, it became a matter of who could hit the biggest possible move to put the other away.
Things picked up when, on the outside, Cody went for a Disaster Kick but Rollins caught him in air and powerbombed Rhodes into the barricade. That was gnarly. In the ring, Rhodes managed to hit a Cross Rhodes for the first false finish.
From then, it was a series of increasingly impressive big moves. Seth did a reverse Falcon Arrow spot: An inverted suplex from the top rope into a dragon sleeper into another reverse suplex. We've seen it before, but it's incredible. Cody hit a Cody Cutter, jumping off the top rope and hitting a Stunner on Rollins on the way down for a two count. Rollins got a Pedigree on Rhodes for another false finish.
The real finish came when Rollins turned his back to Rhodes to run into the ropes, but Rhodes snatched him and got a Cross Rhodes, then held his grip and blitzed him with another. In a touching moment, Rhodes then did Dusty Rhodes' old punching combination, ending with an Atomic Elbow for a huge pop, roared the crowd and then hit a final Cross Rhodes for the win.
Rating: 4.25 stars.
After losing her championship to Becky Lynch at SummerSlam, Bianca Belair won it back at WrestleMania when she pinned Lynch to win the Raw Women's Championship.
Both Lynch and Belair got big entrances -- Belair even got her own marching band. The bout started with a callback to their SummerSlam bout, with Lynch immediately going for the Manhandle Slam. Belair countered and tried a KOD, but Lynch slipped out of that and managed to land a Manhandle Slam for a two count.
There was a nasty spot where Becky went for a flipping senton off the second rope but instead heel kicked Belair square in the face. They even showed a proper slow-motion replay of the blow. Thankfully it doesn't appear that Belair was concussed by it -- or at least, she didn't wrestle like she was concussed.
Belair attempted a KOD but Lynch hung onto the ropes, so Belair flung her over the top rope. Belair threw Lynch into the ring, but Becky rolled out to the other side. As Belair followed her out, Lynch grabbed her hair and pulled her inot the turnbuckle, then planted her with a Manhandle Slam onto the outside steps. Lynch tried for a countout win, but Belair made it in at the last second.
Lynch pulled Belair to the turnbuckle and tried another Manhandle Slam. Belair countered by jumping onto the second turnbuckle, doing a backflip and hitting Lynch with the KOD for the win.
Rating: 3.5 stars. A solid main-event style match, but not must see.
Say what you will about WWE, they don't let celebrities fail at WrestleMania. And say what you want about Logan Paul, but he gets pro wrestling. Logan Paul did fantastic here. He and Miz defeated Rey and Dominik Mysterio when Miz pinned Rey Mysterio.
After the match, Miz turned on Logan Paul by surprising him with a Skull Crushing Finale.
It was a good tag team match, thanks in large part to Rey Mysterio who acted as the glue that kept everything together. But the star was Logan Paul, who had incredible heat with the crowd. Any time he did anything, the crowd would shower boos on him unlike anyone else in WWE.
Logan Paul was protected in that he only came in for brief periods, hit a flashy move and then would tag back out. He planted Dominik with a powerslam in one spot, and later landed a top-rope "Blockbuster" flying neckbreaker on him.
The highlight, though, was when Paul was in the ring with Rey and landed the Three Amigos suplexes on Rey. The crowd hated it, and booed the hell out of Paul. Paul then climbed the turnbuckles and mimicked Eddie Guerrero's "Latina Heat" shoulder rolling, and the crowd booed Paul literally harder than I can remember anyone else getting booed in recent memory. He landed a Frog Splash on Rey for a two count.
After that, Dominik hit a Suicide Dive on The Miz outside. Paul started chasing Dominik around and into the ring, where Rey caught him and Hurricanrana'd him into the ropes. The Mysterios hit stereo 619s on Paul. Rey went for the pin, but Miz bodyslammed Dominik onto Rey to breakup the pin. Miz then landed a Skull Crushing Finale on Rey for the win.
Rating: 3.75 stars. This was a lot of fun, mostly because of Logan Paul (and Rey Mysterio, who's always great). The crowd was super into the match thanks because of Paul, who's a natural at using mannerisms rather than big moves to excite the crowd. It may be crazy to say, but I hope Logan Paul sticks around.
WWE was billing Corbin as undefeated since he assumed the Happy Corbin gimmick. There's no better place to get your first L: McIntyre pinned Corbin with the Claymore for the win.
For 85% of this, the match was just there. Happy Corbin is a strong midcard comedy character, but it's hard to see him as legitimate competition for McIntyre -- whose last two WrestleMania opponents were Bobby Lashley and Brock Lesnar.
The final three or four minutes were very good, however. McIntyre lined up a Claymore Kick, counting down 3-2-1 with the crowd, but Corbin bailed outside. McIntyre shrugged and hit a huge over-the-top-rope dive on both Corbin and Madcap Moss, and then a belly-to-belly on Moss to keep him out of the ring.
Back on the inside, McIntyre attempted a Claymore but Corbin ducked and planted McIntyre with the End of Days. You could see the crowd standing up, totally believing that could be the end, but it was a very nice false finish. Michael Cole claimed no one had ever kicked out of Corbin's End of Days, which feels like a lie. Corbin picked up McIntyre, but McIntyre hit him with the Futureshock DDT and then a Claymore for a win.
After the match, Corbin tried to literally kill Madcap Moss by swinging his sword Angela at him. Moss jumped off the apron, and instead McIntyre sliced through the ring ropes.
Rating: 2.5 stars. Time for McIntyre to move on to better things.
After a performance from the Dallas Cowboys' cheerleaders, the SmackDown Tag Team Championship match opened WrestleMania 38. Boogs played Nakamura into the ring on the electronic guitar which, alongside the lighting effects AT&T Stadium, absolutely ruled.
It was a nice, simple match to kick off the show, improved by the fact that the crowd was into Rick Boogs -- it's hard not to be. Nakamura started the match off with a flying kick to Jey Uso, and then the two went back and forth. Eventually Boogs tagged in and ran wild, hitting a very impressive delayed vertical suplex.
Boogs tried to hoist up both Usos on his shoulders, but his knee buckled under their weight. Boogs was out for the rest of the match, so Nakamura was forced to tag in and take on both Usos. Nakamura tried to hit a Kinshasa, but caught a superkick and then ate an Uso splash for a two count. Both Usos then hit the 1D -- their version of the Dudley's 3D -- for the win.
Rating: 2.5 stars. Great entrance, fine match.