Saturday 10 April 2021

WWE WrestleMania 37 Highlights 2021


WrestleMania 37 Night 1 PPV 4/10/21 April 10th 2021

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WWE WrestleMania 37 Results: Night 1 Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights

Sana Ejaz Khan

    After months of buildup and anticipation, several weeks of dedicated storytelling and multiple days of pro wrestling from every promotion able to run a show, WrestleMania 37 has finally arrived.

    This is the single-most important pay-per-view of the year for WWE and its Superstars. It's the event with the most press coverage and the biggest worldwide audience, which means everyone is looking to make a lasting impression with their performance.

    This year's PPV is the company's first attempt at a return to normalcy. After a year without fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is the first time the WWE Universe was able to attend the show live and see the men and women of WWE do what they do best. 

    It will still be some time before the company returns to touring, but for now, we get to experience pro wrestling with reactions from a real crowd again. It's the way this wacky form of entertainment was meant to be enjoyed. 

    Saturday's show opened with the WWE title match between Drew McIntyre and Bobby Lashley and closed with Bianca Belair challenging Sasha Banks for the SmackDown Women's Championship. 

    Let's take a look at every bout from the first night of WrestleMania 37 and see if WWE was able to live up to our lofty expectations. 

Bobby Lashley vs. Drew McIntyre (WWE Championship)

1 OF 7

    Vince McMahon and the entire roster were on the stage as the show opened. The Chairman said they have missed the WWE Universe and he thanked everyone for coming to WrestleMania. Bebe Rexha sang "American the Beautiful."

    Then...the weather stepped in. A rain and lightning delay forced WWE to think on its feet a bit. We got a lot of improvised promos that were entertaining and clearly unscripted. It was reminiscent of classic PPVs before they used video packages to push feuds and did quick pre-match interviews. It was surprisingly entertaining and helped make the rain delay more bearable. 

    After over 30 minutes of delays, Titus O'Neil and Hulk Hogan came out to kick things off as the hosts of the show. They hyped all of the matches set to take place to the best of their ability. Drew McIntyre made his way to the ring at the 40-minute mark to battle Bobby Lashley.

    They locked up and the crowd popped immediately. They came to a stalemate and locked up again. The All Mighty scored the first takedown, but McIntyre popped right back up to his feet. The Scottish Warrior hit a belly-to-belly suplex and Lashley got right back to his feet, too. 

    They traded a few insults before both men started throwing punches. The champ took control when they took the fight to the ringside area. McIntyre went for an armbar but Lashley countered and unloaded on him with forearm strikes. 

    McIntyre hit a nice northern lights suplex for a two-count. The All Mighty hit a nasty spinebuster but still couldn't get the pinfall. The Scottish Warrior hit a reverse Alabama slam, but the WWE champion kicked out at two. Neither competitor could get the upper hand for long.

    Lashley countered a Claymore with a spinebuster, but it didn't keep McIntyre down for long. He grabbed Lashley and hit three Future Shock DDTs for a close two-count. MVP pulled him out of the ring to avoid the Claymore, so McIntyre took both men down with a dive over the top rope. 

    The Scottish Warrior put him in a kimura lock but had to break when he reached the bottom rope. MVP distracted McIntyre to prevent the Claymore and allow Lashley to put him in the Hurt Lock. After a long struggle, McIntyre passed out and the ref was forced to call for the bell. 

    Grade: A-



    WWE did an excellent job improvising during the rain delay. The Superstars gave great promos and it felt like everyone was on top of things while they waited for the all-clear. 

    When it comes to the match, this is the kind of powerhouse vs. powerhouse bout that defines pro wrestling. It was just two big dudes beating the life out of each other.

    They started a little slow but as time went on, they hit bigger and bigger moves. Both men did things we have never seen from them before to make this special.

    They also left themselves room to grow in future encounters. They didn't throw everything and the kitchen sink into this bout to make sure they could top it down the line. This was a great way to open the PPV and set the tone for the rest of the show. 

Women's Tag Team Championship No. 1 Contender's Match

2 OF 7

    Lana and Naomi started this gauntlet match against the new pairing of Billie Kay and Carmella. After Mella took control of Lana, Kay tagged in. Lana hit a leg sweep and brought in Naomi to take control.

    Thanks to an illegal assist from Carmella, Kay pinned Naomi to get the first win. Ruby Riott and Liv Morgan were out next. The Riott Squad came in hot but ended up on defense after Kay backdropped Riott out of the ring.

    The ref caught Mella trying to help Kay get the pin again, allowing Riott and Morgan to recover and hit a double-team finisher for the pin. Mella gave Morgan a quick superkick before leaving.

    Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose were the fourth team to enter the match and almost won right away when Brooke hit Riott with a blockbuster for a near-fall. They went back and forth for a few minutes with quick tags and two-counts. 

    Brooke hit a superplex on Morgan and Rose followed up with a senton bomb. Morgan was able to roll her up for the pin. The announcer incorrectly stated The Riott Squad had been eliminated before correcting himself. Natalya and Tamina were the last team to enter the match. 

    Morgan almost pinned Nattie right away with a rollup. The two second-generation Superstars asserted their dominance early and often. Natalya and Tamina hit a Hart Attack clothesline on Riott. Tamina hit a Superfly Splash to get the win. 

    Grade: C-



    Kay was channeling Damien Mizdow by trying to mimic Carmella's mannerisms during their entrance. It was funny but also a reminder of how far Kay has fallen since The IIconics split.

    Unfortunately, this bout suffered from the problem a lot of gauntlet matches face. Every match felt a little rushed, so the whole thing was a series of pinfalls that weren't convincing.

    It did have some highlights, though. Morgan and Riott had some fun spots against all three of the teams they faced. It just wasn't enough to keep this from being kind of a mess. 

    The finish was predictable, especially once it was clear who would enter the match last. Natalya and Tamina are convincing as a dominant duo, so hopefully, they have a good match with Nia Jax and Tamina on Sunday. 

Cesaro vs. Seth Rollins

3 OF 7

    As soon as the bell rang, Cesaro hit a huge uppercut and tried to grab Seth Rollins for the big swing. The Messiah avoided it but he couldn't avoid the corkscrew springboard uppercut. 

    The Swiss Cyborg hit a beautiful dropkick to Rollins on the top rope. Rollins countered a gutwrench superplex and hit a bucklebomb for a two-count. He started to focus on Cesaro's arm to limit his uppercuts. He jumped up to the top rope and hit Cesaro with a superplex into a falcon arrow for another near-fall. 

    Cesaro cornered him for a flurry of uppercuts before he turned Rollins inside out with a clothesline for a two-count. The Messiah countered the swing twice before The Swiss Superman finally grabbed him. He got in nine revolutions before his arm gave out and he had to stop. Rollins broke the Sharpshooter by reaching the bottom rope. 

    The former WWE champion hit a springboard knee and a sling blade as he started to build momentum. He hit a corkscrew splash for another two-count. Cesaro countered the ripcord knee with a Neutralizer, but Rollins kicked out at the last possible second. 

    The Messiah hit a Pedigree for yet another near-fall. He talked some trash and declared himself a god. He nailed Cesaro with a forearm and a kick to the back of the head. The Swiss Cyborg countered the Stomp with an uppercut. He swung Rollins around on his shoulders with no hands for a moment before he called for the Cesaro Swing one more time. 

    Rollins was swung 23 times before Cesaro hit the Neutralizer for the victory. 

    Grade: A



    The problem with a match like this is we build it up in our heads so much before it happens that it is almost impossible to live up to our expectations. Luckily, these two were up to the challenge.

    Surprisingly, they kept the risky spots to a minimum and focused more on innovative counters and storytelling. They did a good job making Cesaro into the underdog even though he is physically equal or above Rollins in almost every way. 

    The fans gave him a great reaction when he won. If WWE is smart, it will follow through on this push and put him into the hunt for a title of some kind.

    Like Lashley and McIntyre, Cesaro and Rollins left themselves room to improve in a future encounter. This was great from top to bottom. 

The New Day vs. AJ Styles and Omos (Raw Tag Team Championships)

4 OF 7

    Big E introduced Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods for their match against AJ Styles and Omos for the Raw Tag Team Championships. Omos came out wearing his usual attire instead of traditional wrestling gear. 

    Styles and Kingston started for their teams. The Phenomenal One hit the first takedown with a headscissor, but Kingston stayed on him as they exchanged counters. The former WWE champion dropped Styles on his face and smiled right at Omos as Woods played the trombone to taunt them.

    As Woods vocally pointed out, The New Day effectively cut the ring in half to keep Styles isolated. He prevented the tag multiple times as Styles tried to reach Omos. 

    When he finally reached the colossus, Woods looked like he knew he was screwed. He tried to hit a few kicks that had no impact on Omos whatsoever. He stared down at both members of The New Day before he started destroying them.

    Styles jumped from the shoulders of Omos to hit a Phenomenal Forearm. Omos hit Kingston with a huge slam and pinned him with one foot to win the titles. 

    Grade: B



    This was all about making Omos look like one of the most physically dominant Superstars on the entire roster. In that regard, it succeeded.

    Was this a spot fest or technical showcase? No, but it didn't need to be. Omos came in and almost singlehandedly destroyed one of the greatest tag teams of the modern era. Few have looked as unstoppable in their debut match.

    From a storyline perspective, this was exactly what it needed to be. The New Day's cockiness finally backfired and now, Kingston and Woods have to regroup while Styles and Omos rule the tag team division with an iron fist. 

Shane McMahon vs. Braun Strowman (Steel Cage)

5 OF 7

    Shane McMahon was out first and he held the door closed so Braun Strowman couldn't get in. This led to Elias and Jaxson Ryker attacking him with chairs at ringside. They threw one in the ring so McMahon could use it as the match began.

    He beat down The Monster Among Men with several shots to the back and legs. Strowman stopped him from escaping through the door, so he tried to climb the cage. Shane-o-Mac tried to keep his distance but once he was forced to engage, he used his quickness to avoid the powerhouse and hit a series of strikes.

    He somehow tore a piece of sheet metal from the top of the cage and hit Strowman a few times for a two-count. He hit the coast-to-coast dropkick, but Strowman kicked out at two. Elias and Ryker tried to help him climb out of the ring until Strowman hit the cage wall to send them crashing to the floor. 

    McMahon hit The Monster Among Men with a toolbox before he climbed over the top of the cage. He was about to win when Strowman trapped one of his hands against the cage. He ripped the cage wall down and pulled McMahon back into the ring. 

    They ended up standing on top of the cage and Strowman threw Shane all the way down to the mat. He climbed down and hit a powerslam for the win. 

    Grade: C+



    The buildup for this match was atrocious, so expectations were low. That being said, Strowman and McMahon overachieved and ended up having a decent match.

    The big fall from McMahon was brutal, and Strowman peeling open the cage was a cool spot. Everything else was exactly what we expected this match to be. McMahon tried to outsmart his opponent but ultimately failed.

    Being better than expected help keep this match from killing the pace of the show, which was a serious concern when it started. Let's hope this is the end of this storyline because Strowman needs to use this win to pivot back into the title picture. 

The Miz and John Morrison vs. Damian Priest and Bad Bunny

6 OF 7

    The Miz and John Morrison were accompanied to the ring by a couple of dozen guys in bunny suits. They were so cheap that ears were falling off of the bunny masks left and right. 

    Bad Bunny arrived riding on top of a big rig after Damian Priest made his entrance. The A-Lister didn't want to fight Priest and demanded Bad Bunny start for his team. 

    The Grammy winner came in and decked The Miz in the face, catching him off guard a bit. The Miz focused and took control. He put Bunny in the corner and raked his eyes against the top rope. Bunny countered a hip toss and hit an arm drag to send The A-Lister out of the ring. 

    He almost pinned The Miz with a rollup before he regrouped with Morrison in the corner. He threw Bad Bunny against the ring ropes hard but was met with a shoulder thrust from the apron. The Miz helped Bunny hit a swinging headscissor takedown.

    JoMo tagged in and hit a back elbow as Bunny tried to hit a corner splash. Bunny kept finding ways to surprise them, but he also took a lot of punishment. He hit The Miz with a DDT out of nowhere to give himself a chance to tag Priest. 

    The Archer of Infamy came in and ran through The Miz and Morrison like a bulldozer. He and Bunny hit simultaneous falcon arrows for a two-count. Bunny hit Morrison with a Canadian destroyer at ringside before he helped Priest finish off The Miz with a double-team move for the win. 

    Grade: B+



    Celebrity matches are never going to be clinics, but on their own terms, they can be highly entertaining. Bad Bunny clearly put in the effort to make sure he didn't embarrass himself or the company. 

    Some celebrity performers come in and do a few moves. Bunny actually worked the majority of this match without any help from Priest. Other than Stephen Amell, it's hard to think of a celeb who put in this much work. 

    Since expectations are always low for celebrity matches, Bunny came out of this looking great. He took it seriously, put in maximum effort and looked better than anyone could have hoped. He had a lot of help from The Miz and Morrison, who deserve a lot of credit for making him look credible. 

    This match had to be graded on a bit of a curve but all four men deserve to be praised for their performance. 

Sasha Banks vs. Bianca Belair (SmackDown Women's Championship)

7 OF 7

    Bianca Belair and Sasha Banks made history Saturday by being the first two black women to work the main event of WrestleMania. Both women looked like they were on the verge of tears as the crowd began to cheer. They collected themselves and locked up. 

    They got into a shoving match before they started running the ropes and trading counters. The Boss hit the first strikes of the match to amp things up a bit. She sent The EST out of the ring and hung her up on the top rope. 

    Belair caught Banks to counter a crossbody and pressed her above her head. She walked up the stairs and threw her in the ring. The Boss fired off a dropkick for a quick two-count. 

    Banks tried to use Belair's braid against her but it backfired when The EST yanked her into the ring post. She powered The Boss up into a vertical suplex and bounced her off the top rope a couple of times. She struggled to keep her up before bringing her down in an impressive show of power. 

    The challenger started building up a head of steam and hit a standing shooting star press. She hit Banks with a glam slam and climbed to the top rope. Banks countered a 450 by putting her knees up. 

    The EST hit two powerbombs before Banks countered a third. Belair kicked out after a frog splash, so Banks began to focus on her arm. She shoved Belair into the steel steps to soften her up for the Bank Statement. She used the braid to lock in the hold but it wasn't enough to stop The EST from reaching the ropes. 

    Belair avoided a meteora in the corner and hit a 450 splash. When Banks kicked out, Belair couldn't believe it. She nailed The Boss with her braid before hitting the KOD for the pin and the win. Tears of joy streamed down her face as she held up the title in celebration. 

    Grade: A



    The emotion at the start of this match helped make it feel like the true main event of WrestleMania, and the crowd helped reinforce that feeling with its reaction. 

    As the match unfolded, both women used every trick in their playbooks. It's hard to think of anything else they could have done to make this any better.

    Sure, there were a few small mistakes here and there, but the match as a whole was fantastic. They sold for each other, took risks and made every move count. When Belair was declared the winner, the crowd went nuts.

    The first night of WrestleMania was enjoyable and set the stage for night two to be even better. Just about every outcome was the right booking decision and every match had something to enjoy. 

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