For the first time since 2005, WWE and WrestleMania went Hollywood! Not only that, but this is also the first WrestleMania without Vince McMahon in power. The inaugural WrestleMania under Triple H has the most story going into it in years. Almost every match had a purpose and some form of long-term storytelling, whether it was months or even years in the making. Fans had high expectations for Triple H, and he certainly did not disappoint. In one of the biggest WrestleManias of all time, the two-night extravaganza kicked off with a plethora of exciting matches.
Austin Theory vs. John Cena for the United States Championship:
Cena’s first WrestleMania was the opening match for the U.S title and now, nineteen years later, in possibly his last WrestleMania, he opened for the U.S. title once again. In a battle of past vs. future, the returning G.O.A.T, John Cena, took on the current United States Champion Austin Theory. Going into this match, Cena had nothing to lose, but Theory was in a must-win situation. Theory did not understand why everyone was talking about John Cena when he is the “Now” and a current champion. Theory challenged the face of WWE to earn respect, but did he bite off more than he can chew?
Theory took that saying a little too literally and bit Cena twice throughout the match. The match began with the leader of the Cenation taking advantage of the cocky up-and-comer Theory. Theory showed off his athleticism throughout with a running blockbuster neckbreaker and a rolling dropkick. Cena hit all of his classics until he went for his finisher, the Attitude Adjustment. While attempting this, he knocked into the ref, taking the ref down. Cena locked in the STF submission and forced Theory to tap out, but the ref didn’t see it. Theory took advantage and hit Cena below the belt, then hit his finish, A-Town Down, to put Cena away.
This was a good standard match. Nothing overly flashy or new but it hit all the basics a good match needs. They played on the story of the veteran taking on the disrespectful young wrestler. The crowd was entirely supporting Cena and there was not one person cheering for Austin Theory. It may have been a disappointing ending for the fans, especially since Austin Theory had to cheat to win, but this legitimizes that Theory will be a big star in the near future.
Rating: 3.5 out of 5
WrestleMania Men’s Showcase: Ricochet and Braun Strowman vs. Alpha Academy vs. Street Profits vs. Viking Raiders:
All eight men have worked extremely hard this past year and it is great to see that they are being rewarded with a showcase match. The story behind this match was all four teams wanted to prove themselves and get a mania win. The fans did not know what to expect out of this match, but they definitely did not expect it to deliver on the way it did.
This was a very fast-paced, fun match. All eight superstars showed out and gave a performance of a lifetime. Notable highlights included the 5-foot-8-inch, 203-pound Chad Gable lifting up the 6-foot-8-inch, 344-pound Braun Strowman for a German suplex, Strowman landing a splash from the top rope on Ivar, Angelo Dawkins of the Street Profits intercepting Strowman like an NFL defender and Montez Ford hitting a beautiful From the Heavens frog splash to secure the win for his team.
This match exceeded all expectations. All eight superstars had great chemistry with each other. There might not have been a lot of story behind this match, but it honestly did not need it. This match was an unseen classic and was picture perfect. It would have been nice to see this get more time, but, nonetheless, it was one of the funniest matches of the night.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Seth Rollins vs. Logan Paul:
This all began three months ago at the Royal Rumble when Logan Paul eliminated Seth Rollins from the Royal Rumble match. Paul wasn’t done there and continued to antagonize Rollins when Paul cost him the United States title at Elimination Chamber. Rollins’ disdain for Paul has reached an all-time high and he is ready to silence the problem child. Paul was out to prove to everyone that he belongs in WWE and that he is better than Rollins.
Paul had possibly the best entrance of the night by zip-lining high in the air down to the ring. Not only that, but he was accompanied to the ring by someone dressed as a Prime energy drink (his drink brand). Not to be outdone, Seth Rollins came to the ring with the conductor of the Los Angeles orchestra, who conducted the audience singing Rollins’s theme song.
Both men had some big spots in an incredibly fast-paced and fun match. An important note is that Paul has a 40-millimeter screw in his right hand that he uses as a knockout punch. At one point, Rollins stomped this hand on the steel steps. The climax of the match was when the Prime energy drink person was revealed to be YouTuber KSI! He helped Paul put Rollins on the announce table. Paul went for a frog splash, but Rollins rolled out of the way and pulled KSI in, causing Paul to put KSI through the table. Back in the ring, Rollins hit the stomp for the win.
It really is annoying how good Logan Paul is at professional wrestling. He is a natural in the ring and looks like he has been doing this for years when this is just his first year. He gets better and better every time. Rollins is also one of the best wrestlers in the world, so these two were bound to have a great match. This marks Rollins’ first WrestleMania win in four years — his first win since WrestleMania 35. This was a great match and the right person won. It will be interesting to see if the rivalry ends here and what the two men do after this.
Rating: 4.25 out of 5
Becky Lynch, Lita, Trish Stratus vs. Damage CTRL:
This was the first match of the weekend that was truly months in the making. Lynch has been fighting Damage CTRL since August and it all came to a head. From War Games, steel cages and now WrestleMania. Damage CTRL has run roughshod over the women’s division and has been close to unstoppable. So much so that Lynch had to call in reinforcements in hall of famers Trish Stratus and Lita. Stratus came out of retirement for her first WrestleMania match since 2011 and Lita’s first WrestleMania appearance since 2016. All three members of Damage CTRL used to look up to Stratus and Lita, but now they wanted to put an end to them.
This match was special given that Lita and Stratus, two women who paved the way for women’s wrestling, came out of retirement. Damage CTRL didn’t hold anything back, though. They were relentless as ever and never let up. Lita pulled off a fantastic looking hurricanrana as well as a double DDT. There was a very cool spot when Lita and Lynch asisstied Stratus with a Stratusphere, sending Dakota Kai into the rest of Damage CTRL on the outside. IYO SKY lived up to her name as the genius of the sky and had two beautiful over the moonsaults. Lynch even kicked of Bayley’s finisher: the rose plant. The match ended with Stratus landing a chick kick, Lita hitting a Litasault and Lynch slamming Bayley with a manhandle slam from the top rope.
It is really incredible that Lita and Stratus, who are both 47, are able to move so fluidly in the ring. They certainly haven’t lost a step and were able to turn back the clock to their prime. It was also great to see SKY and Kai, who were even in WWE last year, have a WrestleMania match against three of the best to ever do it. SKY also definitely has the best moonsault in wrestling. Bayley is great in her role as the group’s leader, but now that Damage CTRL has lost, what’s next? Will SKY and Kai leave Bayley on her own? Is this the end of Damage CTRL? Regardless, the biggest takeaway from this match is that Trish Stratus and Lita still got it.
Rating: 3.75 out of 5
Father vs. Son: Dominik Mysterio of The Judgment Day vs. Rey Mysterio:
This was years in the making. Ever since Dominik joined WWE, fans have wanted to see this match. And that desire was only exacerbated when Dom betrayed his father and joined The Judgment Day. It seemed like this match never would’ve happened, but when Dom disrespected his own mother, Rey reached his breaking point. Now it was time for the 2023 Hall of Fame inductee Rey Mysterio to beat some sense into his son. From being the first father-son tag team champions, to betraying Rey, to Dom going to jail, to yelling at his own mother, it has all led to this match.
Dom came to the ring disrespecting his father yet again by wearing his mask and coming in a police car. Rey paid homage to the late great Eddie Guerrero by coming out to his theme song and in his low rider, which was driven by the one and only Snoop Dogg. It was a highly anticipated match everyone wanted to watch. Rey’s wife and daughter, Dom’s mother and sister, were watching ringside and even Bad Bunny was on Spanish commentary. Dom continued being a punk kid and disrespected his family the entire match. In the beginning, he threw a drink at his own sister and mouthed off to his mother who proceeded to slap the taste out of his mouth.
Rey took a crazy bump when Dom hit an alley-oop facebuster face first into the turnbuckle. Finn Bálor and Damian Priest came out to help Dom cheat, but then the new Latino World Order, Legado Del Fantasma, came out to even the odds and take out Priest and Balor. Dom even hit Rey’s famous move — the 619 — on him. Dom attempted to cheat by hitting Rey with a chain, but Bad Bunny grabbed it away from him, allowing Rey to hit the 619 and frog splash. This earned the win for the greatest luchador ever.
Dominik is quite possibly the most hated superstar in WWE right now. The boos from the crowd were defining and they were overjoyed to finally see Rey beat him up. The story of the match was told excellently. It would have been a really big win for Dom and could have set his future up well, but after months of tormenting his family he finally got his comeuppance.
Rating: 3.75 out 5
Rhea Ripley of The Judgment Day vs. Charlotte Flair (C) for the Smackdown Women’s Championship:
In a rematch from WrestleMania 36, Ripley looked to rewrite history and finally defeat The Queen Charlotte Flair. Only this time, the roles are reversed: Ripley is the royal rumble winner and Flair is the champion. Ripley has beaten everyone who has stepped in front of her and is even more unstoppable alongside Judgment Day, but Flair seems to be her kryptonite. Could Ripley’s new mean streak finally give her the edge over the 14-time women’s champion?
Ripley came to the ring with no one from The Judgment Day and with a new look of black face paint dripping down her forehead. You could tell she was ready and that this was not the same person who Flair beat three years ago. This is also the first-ever WrestleMania match consisting of all women: two woman competitors, a female referee and a female ring announcer. Ripley showed that she might be the women’s version of Brock Lesnar when it comes to German suplexes because she delivered some nasty looking ones, including one off the top rope. Flair had an amazing counter to the riptide turning it into a DDT mid move. Both women kicked out of each other’s finishing moves, but Ripley also gave Flair a brutal headbutt to the back of her head. The match came to a close with Ripley smacking Flair’s head against the top of the ringpost and then hitting an avalanche riptide off the top rope to dethrone the Queen.
This match was the epitome of wrestling. It was an amazing contest that will go down in history as a WrestleMania classic and one of the best women’s matches in WrestleMania history. The story was there and these women hit every beat. Ripley has changed the landscape of the women’s division and finally got the one win that has eluded her throughout her whole career. Now Ripley will make a transition from Raw to Smackdown and the thought of her there is mouthwatering for fans. Now she can have matches with the likes of Raquel Rodriguez and Ronda Rousey. It will also be interesting to see if The Judgment Day goes with her or if she separates from her stablemates. This win also makes Ripley a grand slam champion having won the smackdown, raw, NXT and tag team women’s championships.
Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Impromptu Match: Pat McAfee vs. The Miz:
The returning McAfee came out to accept an open challenge from The Miz and Snoop Dogg made it official. It was very quick with McAfee in control the whole time. The Miz tried to leave and on his way out, shoved NFL tight end George Kittle who then jumped the barricade and clotheslined his head off. McAfee hit the punt for the win.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5 (but was entertaining)
Main Event: The Usos of The Bloodline (C) vs. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens for Undisputed Tag Team Championship:
In a weekend full of personal matches, this one was the most personal of all of them. It was twin brothers against two people as close as brothers. Sami Zayn has had one of the wildest years of his career. He went from being the honorary Uso in the bloodline to having to prove himself week after week to finally being able to stand up for himself and reuniting with his best friend Kevin Owens after The Bloodline tore them even further apart. Zayn has promised to destroy The Bloodline and the only way he can do it is with his “brother” Kevin Owens. But it would take nothing less than a miracle to beat the Usos, the longest reigning tag team champions in history at 622 days. The Usos are in a must-win situation, especially with their leader, The Tribal Chief, and the Undisputed WWE Universal champion Roman Reigns watching them.
Lil Uzi Vert performed “I Just Wanna Rock’' before the Usos made their entrance. The crowd erupted when Zayn came out. The match started with Zayn against Jey Uso, the man who ended up treating Zayn like family while he was in The Bloodline. The match continued at a fast pace, leaving no room for a breather. Owens hit frog splashes, swanton bombs, cannon balls and super kicks on the Usos as well as kicking out of an Uso splash. Zayn hit a brain buster on the apron and went for Jimmy’s own move on him, the Uso splash. Jey tagged himself in when Zayn didn’t realize. Zayn hit a blue thunder bomb on Jimmy, but he wasn’t the legal man and Jey came in with a big super kick to Zayn’s head. The Usos then threw a superkick party, unleashing a relentless barrage of kicks on Zayn.
When Owens tried to intervene, the Usos brought him to the outside and slammed him through the announcer’s table. The Usos got back in and hit Zayn with their finisher, the one and done (1D), but he somehow kicked out of it. This made Zayn the first person to ever kick out of the 1D. Jey landed a helluva kick on Zayn, his own move against him. He yelled that Zayn should have never left The Bloodline, but Zayn hit an exploder suplex into the turnbuckle. Owens hit a pop up powerbomb on both Usos, Zayn hit a helluva kick on Jey and Owen hit a stunner on Jey, but still everyone kicked out. The Usos took back control and they both went to the top for a double Uso splash on Owens. After all the punishment Owens took so far, he somehow still kicked out. The Usos looked to hit an avalanche 1D, but Zayn and Owens prevented it. Zayn landed two helluva kicks on Jey, Jimmy tried to stop the third but ran into a stunner from Owens. Finally, Zayn landed the third and final helluva kick to win. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens dethroned the greatest tag team in WWE history for the Undisputed Tag Team Championships.
The match of the night will be the match of the weekend and the match of the year. This had everything. The match had story, drama, emotion and, most importantly, outstanding wrestling. The story was told exquisitely. There were years worth of storytelling in this match and it all culminated in the main event on the grandest stage of them all. Zayn used to treat the Usos like family, but they turned their back on him. His “brother” Kevin Owens didn’t though. Zayn and Owens started off their careers by teaming together in front of ten people and now they did it in front of 80,000 people. This win makes Kevin Owens a grand slam champion. Zayn is by far the most over person in wrestling today and when he won the titles it was the loudest crowd reaction of the night. The Usos’ 620-day championship reign is over but even in defeat, they cemented their legacy and claim as the greatest tag team in WWE history. It was also amazing to see a tag team match in the main event at WrestleMania. Tag team wrestling can be very underrated and underappreciated, but there was no better match to show why it deserves a main event spot.
Ranking: 5 out of 5
Overall the first night of WrestleMania 39, and the first night under the Triple H era, was a major success. The superstars performing on Night Two better get ready because they have a tough act to follow. We’ll have to see on Sunday April 2 at 5 p.m.