This is as close to sports as we’ll get for a few months. Hopefully I am not throwing away the next 3 hours of my life watching this. Read along to see if any of the matches are worth watching.
If you haven’t been watching any WWE programming in a long time, read this to catch up.
Show starts with a quick video of Stephanie McMahon discussing the “uniqueness” of this WrestleMania and how there aren’t any fans. I’m a little surprised they actually acknowledged it on tv instead of just commentary…. Speaking of commentary… Michael Cole is joined by JBL. This night is already off to a rough start for me.
Match 1: Tag Team Champions Kabuki Warriors (Asuka/Kairi Sane) vs Alexa Bliss/Nikki Cross
- Weird being able to hear everything the wrestlers are saying. Feels like they are being extra loud as to distract viewers from the empty arena. Without the crowd to play off of, Alexa’s shortcomings as an actual wrestler become more evident. Luckily, she can do enough to keep up with her opponents and not be a complete drag on the match.
- The match was… okay. It felt like a by the book tag team match that would be more at home during Raw or SmackDown. Bliss had a “Twisted Bliss” on Sane’s knees. Surprised they did not re-shoot that move since the match was pre-taped.
- Skip or Watch? I would watch if only for Asuka’s antics but if you’re on a time crunch, skip this.
Match 2: Corbin vs Elias
- Corbin had a pre-show beat down on Elias that did not get the job done so now we have to suffer through this match and suffer I did.
- Skip or Watch? 100% feel free to skip this match. The announcers seemed bored through this match and had several long pauses that did not help.
Match 3: Becky Lynch (Raw Women’s Champion) vs Shayna Baszler
- A little surprised this is going on already. I thought this had a chance of closing tonight’s show. Byron Sexton and Tom Phillips are on the call for this match. I’m looking forward to the documentary about this Mania to hear what kind of over the top entrances they had because this Lynch entrance was not it…
- The match itself was good…. minus the ending. It had a good pace with both women getting in plenty of damage. Neither had the upper hand for long. Since both women have submission finishers maybe they missed the mark by not having an “I quit” match? Of course after seeing how it ended, maybe it was better they avoided that stipulation for now. The ending was… not good. It felt like the ending to a match at a “B” PPV where they build towards a rematch at a big 4 PPV. I think having the match at the Performance Center was a reason for the swerve. If fans are allowed at SummerSlam, I expect a longer, more satisfying match there.
- Skip or Watch? Watch it but don’t expect a classic. Surprised there wasn’t a post-match beatdown after the pin.
Match 4: Samy Zayn (IC Champion) vs Daniel Bryan
- I forgot Zayn “won” the Intercontinental title at last month’s PPV in a handicap match versus Strowman. I like Sami but his current gimmick is getting old. Cole and JBL are back on the call.
- As expected, there was plenty of outside interference in this one with Gulak, Nakamura and Cesaro running around. There wasn’t much actual wrestling in this one. Another match that felt like a random TV match. Both deserve better than this.
- Skip or Watch? Skip. We know Bryan and Zayn can give us a 5 star classic but Zayn has mostly been a comedy act on the main roster. He hasn’t been given the leash to really show what he can do since being called up. The outside shenanigans pushes it to a skip for me.
Match 5: Ladder Match: John Morrison(SmackDown Tag Team Champions) vs Kofie Kingston vs Jimmy Usos
- Ladder matches and their high spots lend themselves to crowds going wild…. this match suffered with no crowd and only the ladder thuds as the soundtrack. Also, the match only featured one member of each team but the tag team titles were still on the line. I know injuries forced it but like most of this show, just a weird decision. However, was I sports entertained? Yes, very much so. It had very little down time and the action was kept at a steady pace. A full 6 man match should be in the cards soon.
- Skip or Watch? This has been the most entertaining match on the card so far, a Watch for me. Those guys put everything out there, circumstances be damned.
Match 6: Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins
- On paper, this should be a pretty good ‘Mania match as Rollins and Owens can go in the ring. Seth’s new “Monday Night Messiah” gimmick is much better than his weird quasi babyface that the fans had turned against. However, after the Lynch/Baszler match, my expectations have dropped for the rest of the night.
- The match started off well with Rollins getting in a lot of offense. Seth is a much better heel than babyface and I enjoyed him trash talking throughout the match. Owens can go for a big guy and kept up with Rollins, trading big move after big move. The mid-match swerve got me good as I thought it was going to another Lynch/Basler type of finish.
- Skip or Watch? It was going to be a big Skip for me but the second half of the match won me over. It was an enjoyable singles match that they can build off of or have the wrestlers move onto other feuds. A definite Watch.
Match 7: Universal Champion Goldberg vs Braun Strowman
- That Goldberg? Yes. That Goldberg. Going into this match, I expected a match less than 5 minutes long with smart money being on the entrances lasting longer than the in-ring work. Strowman is replacing Roman Reigns who was scheduled to fight Goldberg. I will be counting how many moves are done.
- Skip or Watch? Hard to suggest you skip this match when it barely goes over 2 minutes. On the bright side, Goldberg did not give himself a concussion before the match. Oh, and there were only 2 different types of moves completed in the match.
Match 8: Undertaker vs AJ Styles
- Props to WWE for taking advantage of not having a crowd and thinking outside the box. This match is taking place in a “graveyard.” It saves us from seeing the Undertaker’s long ass entrance in an empty venue and brought something different to the table.
- The match is unlike any other match I’ve ever seen. It was more of a brawl and featured Undertaker dressed more like his biker persona than what he has been wearing for the last couple of WrestleMania appearances. It felt like a really high quality short film. It had a very cinematic feel to it.
- Skip or Watch? Fans always want WWE to try new things and this is exactly that. It’s not a traditional match but a definite Watch for me. It was WWE making the best of the cards they were dealt.
Out of the 8 matches on night 1, only 3 matches got solid “Watch” ratings. If you only have time for 1 match, make it the Undertaker vs AJ Styles match. I don’t think any other WrestleMania match will top it this weekend.