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WrestleMania XL night one report

Arena: Lincoln Financial Field

City: Philadelphia, PA

So I was really hoping this could be pages and pages of Colin’s itinerary updates: ‘Finally got to the arena with some help from an Albanian hooker, man these bathroom lines are long.’

But he declined.  Guess we’ll just review WrestleMania instead.

*****

Michael Cole introduced the show as we saw an aerial of the stadium and the four main eventers arriving.  Mix of cheers and boos for Mr Maivia.  It all looked very impressive.

Then to an official intro video hosted by Philly rapper Meek Mill and again featuring the four guys in the tag.  No chance anyone could miss what the big match is here.

‘It’s about to be legendary,’ said Meek before one his songs kicked in.  And they showed all of the wrestlers competing tonight.

Back to the stadium, they showed Rhea warming up backstage.  To a huge cheer.  And she’ll need to – Cole noted it’s ‘chilly’ in PA.  Becky was then shown – mostly boos.

Coco Jones then sang the anthem.  Lot better than Fergie anyway.

And HHH’s music booted in to a big roar.  Still one of the best ever themes.  He closed his eyes and just took the noise in before heading to the ring.  Cole said ‘this era should be known as the HHH era here in WWE.’

He’s with McAfee and Graves.  And dressed like the lights didn’t work in his hotel room.

HHH took the mic and welcomed us to ‘a new time… a new era… welcome to WrestleMania.’  Then left.

They played a Becky package including – presumably – excerpts from her new book.  Pushing her as someone who came from being ‘average’ to being ‘the Man.’  Lynch looked very serious, focused, as she took in the crowd.  Cole said she’s been sick all week and it shows, looks very pale.

A live band then played Rhea to the ring.  Cool entrance, theme’s a banger.

RHEA RIPLEY vs BECKY LYNCH (WOMEN’S WORLD TITLE)

Backstory: Lynch won Elimination Chamber to earn her shot here & has recently flipped out over Rhea mentioning her daughter

Crowd Response: Rhea was definitely very over, crowd were quiet for much of the match though, might be being outside, we’ll see

Match quality:  So I’m not going to say a bad word about anybody doing anything near this exerting with strep throat.  And I enjoyed this, nice back and forth, plenty of counters and hints at finishes

Boos as Becky was introduced.  Not so for Ripley.  This ring announcer’s hilarious – proper OTT.  Cole said Becky has strep throat and had a 102 degree fever.

Lockup, Lynch flung straight back to the corner.  McAfee wondered if being sick would help when it’s cold…

Lynch went to work on Rhea’s arm, shotgun off the top, baseball slide blocked, onto Rhea’s shoulders outside, escaping to the apron and launching off, again at Rhea’s left arm.  Back inside, Lynch ducked a couple shots but was taken down then hit with northern lights.  For two.

Becky tried to fight back, Rhea beat her down, Becky countered a delayed vertical into a roll up; Rhea popped up to nail the suplex for a near fall, Rhea cocky; Lynch down.

Fighting to her feet, Rhea hit back with a dropkick then brushed some dirt of her shoulder – still cocky.  Lynch went back after the arm with a drag off the top, working toward the Disarmher.  She launched a flurry; Rhea again shook it off but couldn’t block a tornado ddt off the ropes as Lynch got barely two.

Crowd still solidly behind the champ.  Lynch played to the crowd before seeking a Manhandle, Rhea fought out but took a legdrop off the top as she was propped on the middle rope, then a Bexploder against the barricade.

Another legdrop off the top.  For two.

Before Lynch continued the assault on the arm, Rhea shoving free of a Disarmher, catching Becky leaping off the top and dumping her down, big knee to the face, very near fall.

Ripley then repeatedly smashed Becky against the mat before seeking Riptide, Becky countered into an armbar, Rhea moved away from the ropes for some reason until powering up into a powerbomb.  Back up into a second.  And a third.

Becky just kicking out.

Back to their feet, Rhea nailed a big boot for another two.  Frustrated, she wailed away at Lynch, who fought up, slaps back and forth now, each retreating until Rhea launched a spear but missed, crashing her injured arm into the buckle, right into a Disarmher using the buckle to a count of four.

Another legdrop from the top; Rhea popped up seeking a prism trap, Becky dragged right back middle but crawling on her hands to the ropes, dragged back middle again as Rhea sat down into the hold, all to cheers.

Until rolling toward the ropes, ending up in a pin to bag two, forcing Rhea to break.  Champ popping up thought seeking Riptide; Becky countered into Manhandle, Rhea kicked out.  Big roars at the counter and kickout there.

Rhea blocked a backslide, ducked a big kick, into Riptide, another near fall.

Rhea getting desperate now, heading upstairs, crotched.  Becky climbing to meet her, firing rights, seeking a superplex, hitting, floating over into Disarmher, dead center, Rhea again powering up with Becky on her shoulders, Lynch dragging both outside via headscissors.  While remaining atop Rhea’s shoulders and being dumped at ringside via electric chair.

Then flung back in, Rhea to the top, frog splash, Becky out again.  TiA from some of the crowd as Rhea yelled at Becky to give up.  Seeking to suplex Lynch in off the apron, Becky fought it off, Rea landed on her fet to block a manhandle from the top, Riptide to the buckle, another to the mat, for the win.

Big cheer.  Rhea smiled maniacally then posed atop the buckle as Becky slumped in the corner.

Go get yourself a hot drink and a bed Ms Lynch.

WINNER: RHEA RIPLEY

Did not expect to still be hearing ‘Wassup’ in the year 2024.  All got shortened entrances.  That New Day video of them as Super Mario’s cute.

Damian Priest & Finn Balor vs DIY vs New Day vs Awesome Truth vs A-Town Down Under vs New Catch Republic (6-Pack Ladder Match, Undisputed Tag Titles)

Stips: Both sets of belts will be hanging from the rafters, up for grabs

Backstory: Your standard spot-fest

Crowd Response: Really into Truth – who was very entertaining; quiet for a lot of the rest outside of big spots

Match quality: Went a little long despite some cool spots

Cue mass brawling, all spilling quickly outside.  A-Town (we’ll go with that for brevity) quickly tried to grab ladders and snatch the belts.  Cue all now rushing in trying to win quickly.  Like that – too many ladder matches feature guys not actually trying to win.

A third ladder now, all twelve on ladders, a lot of very choreographed-looking bumps into the ropes.  Judgment Day were left with Bate who avoided a splash against a propped ladder then hooked Balor and a ladder onto his shoulders before taking him for a spin aboard the airplane.

All now brawling outside again until New Catch launched stereo moonsaults off the ladder to all the other guys outside.  But were then taken out by Priest, who was intercepted by Miz as he tried to climb, Priest fought off a Skull Krushing Finale and Judgment Day setup a ladder in the corner.

Truth then stood on the apron asking for a tag, and took a hot tag, to a massive pop.  He ran wild a la Cena, all into the five-knuckle, FU onto the ladder, Truth counted himself to a very popular pinfall.  Miz tried to explain they couldn’t win that way and they went to work against Priest.

Truth then asked Gargano to tune up the band, thinking he was HBK since he was dressed like him.  He hit a superkick then Ciampa hit a pedigree to the heels.  The four faces then agreed to go after a set of belts each.  Until A-Town returned to spoil the fun.

Then grab the Smackdown titles.

Grayson Waller was then powerbombed over the ropes onto a ladder bridge by New Catch.  Gargano hit a gamengiri then a cannonball to take out several guys, Ciampa took care of the rest, they then went after tables, for which the crowd had been chanting.  An ‘EC-dub’ chant began.

McAfee acknowledged there were loads last night.  It’s refreshing the announcers are now able to talk about stuff like that.

DIY sought a suplex out onto two stacked tables, New Day fought them off and set Ciampa on a ladder bridge inside the ring.  Woods went up top, limit break elbow through the ladder.

Crowd chanting for New Day as they tried to make the climb, fighting off everybody, until Kingston launched himself backwards onto almost all the guys, except Theory, who flung Woods off the ladder, heavy boos as he made the climb, Catch Republic intercepted and hit a double burning hammer.

They were then taken out by DIY via Ciampa air raid crash off the ladder (just mental) and Gargano put Dunne through a table via ddt.  Crazy moves.

Truth left alone now, loud cheers and chants as he prepared to climb, intercepted by JD McDonough.  Know it’s no rules but that’s pretty dumb.

McDonough basically pulled Balor up the ladder.  New Day returned just as it seemed Balor was about to grab the belts.  They took him out with a chair, McDonough left stranded on the ladder and sent up and over through the double tables at ringside.

Priest returning to take out New Day, Razor’s Edge onto a chair to Kofi.  Priest now ready to climb, he stalled a while waiting for Miz to return, Priest went for South of Heaven but basically just loosely goozled Miz off.

Then replaced the ladder which was clearly broken.  Handed to him by New Day, which Cole acknowledged.

R-Truth finally returned, hauling him off and FU-ing him up and over the ropes.  He took his time setting the ladder, no-one anywhere near him, he grabbed the belts, finally unhooking them.

WINNER: Smackdown – A-Town Down Under; Raw – Awesome Truth

REY MYSTERIO & ANDRADE vs DOMINIK MYSTERIO & SANTOS ESCOBAR

Backstory: Escobar turned on Rey a while back; Dom’s been developing new friendships Rhea’s not too happy with; they kind of threw it all together and put him back against his father a couple weeks back; Dragon Lee was replaced by Andrade on last night’s Smackdown after the former was left laying

Crowd Response: Fairly into it

Match quality: Decent but nothing special, lots of quick tags and big moves, Andrade stood out in his brief moments, all the guys at ringside getting involved and it being fine was a little silly

Loud boos for Dom as he came out.

Rey and Santos to start, latter losing out, sent quickly to his own corner, tag to Dom.  Who went to work on his dad until the latter slipped behind to tag Andrade.  Who unloaded with big chops until catching a kick to the gut.  But hit right back with his killer back elbow then double teamed Escobar with Rey, the heels sent out via headscissors before Rey climbed Andrade’s shoulders atop the buckle, both leaping off for a double cross body down to ringside.

Very cool.  Crowd loved it.

Rey now sending Dom to the post, ass showing, Rey’s belt off; Dom fought free to send Rey to the apron, knock him off then do the same to Andrade.  Before tagging Santos.  Who teed off on Rey outside.  Then flung him in, out-to-in legdrop through the ropes, shots from the mount, tilt-a-whirl backbreaker, Rey out at two.

Santos then held Rey in place as Dom vaulted in to a senton/backbreaker combo.  Again for two.  Man, he looks like Eddie hitting that move.

Rey briefly fought back but took a back elbow.  For another two count.  Heels both in for double dropkicks to the back of the neck.  Yet another dos.  Escobar now sitting Rey atop the buckle, looking to unmask him to the crowd then hauling him down into the tree of woe.  And aiming a punt.

Then hooking something like an abdominal stretch on the mat, Andrade’s arm out for the tag, Rey trying to fight back, finally slipping off Santos’ shoulders into a code red, both down.

Tag made, Andrade in, dragon screws for all, leaping forearm and kip-up a la Shawn, wicked double knees to Dom in the corner, double-jump for a near fall.  Dom ducked a lariat to hit a neckbreaker, both made tags, Rey in off the top, headscissors into the ropes, 619 coming, Dom sent outside trying to intercept, 619 hit, Andrade taking out Dom at ringside via moonsault off the top.

Rey then intercepted up top by Umberto, leading to a Santos rana with both stood atop the buckle.  Rey kicking out again.  Lopez hit the apron and was hauled off by Zelina, who hit a moonsault.  All of the guys at ringside started taking each other out until Wild was slingshotted off the middle rope by Carlito and the other guy, onto all the heels.

Guys in masks then intervened to stop Dom grabbing a chair, flung him back in, Rey hit a 619, Andrade hit El Idolo, Rey hit a splash to Escobar: 1, 2, 3.  Andrade put Rey on his shoulders as the guys in masks hit the ring.  The masked guys unmasked to reveal Philadelphia Eagles players.

WINNER: REY MYSTERIO & ANDRADE

Lil Wayne then hit the ramp, it seemed like he was lip-synching.  That ended quickly as Jey Uso’s music hit and Wayne hyped him to the ring.  Crowd very up for this, lots of energy, hard not to with this theme.  Loud boos too for his bro.

JEY USO vs JIMMY USO

Backstory: It’s brother vs brother after Jimmy cost Jay his title match with Roman last year to ‘save him from becoming Roman’ (or something)

Crowd Response: Very into the overall story and the key moments, quiet for a lot of the in-between…

Match quality: …Understandably, because this was story-focused and very slow with lots of long stoppages, guessing they figured they were leaving gaps for the drama to sink it, it didn’t quite come off

Jey flew at Jimmy before he reached the ring, beating him around ringside as the crowd yeeted.  Heading inside for the bell to ring, Jey clotheslined his bro right back out, following via tope then flinging him right back in.

Gamengiri from the apron, cross body from the top, near fall.

Jey pausing now before launching himself – seemed like Jimmy was supposed to counter into a Samoan drop.  Didn’t quite come off.  Jimmy following via hip attack in the corner.  Taunting his brother now in between nailing superkicks, lots of them, asking him to get up only to knock him right back down.

Crowd pretty quiet after starting hot.  Brief ‘Jimmy sucks’ chant as he aimed another superkick.  But missing off the top and taking a superkick from his brother, turnabout and all that.

Both to their feet, catching eyes, rushing into an exchange of rights – yeet/no – Jimmy fought free off Jey’s shoulders, Jey hit back via superkick, each hit enziguris, both down.

Slow so far.

They talked a little trash then got right back to sluggin, Jimmy fought off Jey’s shoulders again and hit another superkick; Jey hit one right back.  Then more in the corner, talking smack as he nailed him repeatedly.  Another long pause as he sized up a leaping one.

Jimmy down.  The announcers insisting on ‘Main Event Jey’ is getting annoying.

Jey now talked smack as he lined up another superkick, Jimmy cowered and covered up, Jey pulled back on the kick.  Jimmy said he was ‘Sorry… for everything.’  And offered his hand.  Crowd loud now as Jey looked conflicted.

He took his brother’s hand, helped him up… and took another superkick.  Jimmy to the top, splash, very near fall.  More long stalling/waiting.  As Jimmy lined up a spear but was intercepted by one of Jey’s own.  For the popular win.

McAfee joined in the yeeting.  Vividly.  Graves understandably asking why his hips were so aggressive.

WINNER: JEY USO

Damage CTRL got a big entrance with geisha girls throwing flowers.  Dope theme.  Dakota looking very nice as Cole said she was brave to be in an outfit like that in this weather and he wouldn’t wear anything like it.  The other announcers were appalled at the idea of Cole in that outfit.

The faces all came in together too, lowered down off a platform, posing like statues.  They then stepped off the platform to their individual themes. Interested to see if Jade’s improved.  Was not a fan in AEW.  Bianca’s theme’s still a belter, luh those horns.

Even Asuka was dancing.

BIANCA BELAIR, JADE CARGILL & NAOMI vs ASUKA, KAIRI SANE & DAKOTA KAI

Backstory: Belair finally has backup in her feud with Damage CTRL after Cargill’s full debut

Crowd Response: Very into Jade… quiet for a lot of the rest

Match quality: …Which was somewhat the point as the whole match built to the tag; the action good, particularly from Bianca who looked great here

So apparently the babyfaces here are being referred to by some as the ‘PowerBuff Girls…’

Naomi and Asuka to start, Kairi entered and the heels took a double dropkick.  Another to Kairi in the corner, Naomi on top until the other heels interfered.  Leading to Kairi leaping out onto Naomi via elbow strike and seemingly crashing right into her face.

Then flinging her back in to bag two.  And taking Naomi to the heel corner, Asuka in, the Warriors hit a series of kicks into a pinfall for two.  Asuka continuing to work over Naomi who got a boot up in the corner, snapped the other heels against the top rope then nailed a kick to Asuka.

Still in the wrong corner, she made the crawl, fought free of Dakota, Bianca in, series of shots, dropkicks and backbreakers.  Delayed vertical on Kairi, kip up, shoulder charge in the corner to both Warriors, ten in the corner too, flipping out to avoid a rushing Dakoda, tilt-a-whirl gutbuster, spinebuster to Asuka, before pressing Kairi onto both.

Man she’s a great athlete.  Might be the best performer I’ve seen so far.  Handspring moonsault onto all three.  For two.

Jade asked for the tag, to loud cheers, Dakota cut it off.  The heels now taking over: Asuka running knee after a flurry.  Bianca out at two.  Crowd chanting for Jade as Bianca was crushed in the heel corner.

Dakoda and Asuka went for a suplex, Bianca slipped out, landing on her feet and finally tagging Jade.  Who aimed rights and boots at both, chokeslam to Asuka.  Crowd loud as Kairi went upstairs but was caught into a backbreaker.

Dakoda back bodied after attacking from behind.  Sloppily.  As she landed badly on her hip.  Jade hit a Michinoku Driver, the other heels saved the pin.  Asuka accidentally blew mist at Kairi, Bianca hit a whip to Asuka that sounded like a damn gunshot then hit KOD.

Jade hit Jaded on Dakota to win.

Guessing she hasn’t improved all that much since they kept her input to a minimum.  But has much stronger opponents to help her here than she did in AEW.  And feels like a much bigger star.  I fully expect the same to happen with Mariah May in a few years.

The faces posed before the crowd.

WINNER: BIANCA BELAIR, JADE CARGILL & NAOMI

Sami was shown getting ready backstage.  His wife and son came up to offer support, Sami was still doubting himself until his kid said he could do it.

Nice work adding to the story and playing into what happened with Gable.

Gable then refused to accompany Zayn and said, ‘You got this on your own, you always did.’  But then heelishly noted Sami owed him a favor.  We then followed Sami to the entrance as he fired himself up.

Until right before he went out, Kevin Owens was waiting to offer a hug and pump him up.  All of which got a pop.

This is really nicely built.  Don’t know that it’ll convince many Sami’s winning.  But they’ve done the best job they could with what they’re working with.

The announcement of Gunther was phenomenal.  This lady’s hilarious.  Dude really has an aura too.

GUNTHER vs SAMI ZAYN (INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE)

Backstory: A low on confidence Zayn is being trained – perhaps overtrained? – by Chad Gable heading into his clash with the Immovable Object

Crowd Response: Quiet at first before really coming alive late

Match quality: A credit to both performers as they sculpted a hell of a match building brilliantly to an excellent babyface comeback for which the crowd went wild

Cole openly compared this to Rocky IV.  Graves noted this wasn’t a movie.

Getting started with Sami trying to stay light on his feet but quickly forced to the corner, he cowered against a chop but fired up and fought out, shots to the head, chops to the chest until trying a springboard… and being dumped on his head via German.

Big chop now as Gunther went to work.  Boot to the face, scoop slam, Zayn struggling already.  Another big chop knocking Sami back on his ass.  And again.  European uppercut now as a dueling chant played.

Gunther lariat in the corner; stinging, wince-inducing chop atop the buckle before choking the challenger with his boot.  Then stopping to pose and smile.  Before continuing to beat and batter Sami: club to the back, big uppercut, Zayn crumbling to the mat.

Zayn’s wife was front row offering encouragement, Gunther jawed briefly with her.

A chop battle broke out, Zayn holding his own, big running lariat, both down.  Sami to his feet first, taking more huge hits but absorbing them and firing right back, rights and lefts, big boot, half and half, another, but Gunther popped up to smash him down with a lariat.

And was up first, more big shots, Zayn blocking a powerbomb, series of shots, springboard tornado, Zayn sizing up a halluva kick, Gunther countering behind, blocking blue thunder too, Zayn firing crossfaces until Gunther slipped behind beautifully into a sleeper, dead center.  That was smooth as hell.

Sami to his feet, Gunther on his back, Zayn nearly had the ropes but was hauled back via German.  But Gunther ran into an exploder, halluva coming but met with a tyrannosaurus dropkick, powerbomb, stack, Zayn out at 2.9.

A wobbly Zayn struggling to his feet in the corner, smashed via running boot but following Gunther into the opposite corner via halluva, very near fall, crowd liked that, they’ve been very quiet otherwise.

Announcers said that was Zayn’s big shot and it didn’t get it done.

A second halluva countered via lariat, a pissed Gunther not messing around, pair of powerbombs.  Sami out again!  Crowd reacted big to that.

Gunther now stopped to talk smack to Zayn’s wife before turning to aim more chops at her husband, lariats too, Zayn struggling to get any further than his knees.  Gunther continuing to mock Sami’s wife, asking if she wanted to come help him up.

Another brutal powerbomb.  Before staring again at Zayn’s wife.  Cole now yelling at the ref to stop the match.  Regardless of what Zayn might say.

Gunther to the top, big splash, no attempt to cover.  He headed right back up for another.  Again, no cover.  Again, stopping to jaw with Zayn’s wife from the apron.

As Sami fired up inside, crowd really behind him now, Gunther heading up top and being met via halluva, superplex coming, scratch that – brainbuster against the top buckle!  My god that was brutal.  Gunther staggering to the opposite corner, another halluva, Zayn readying another, hitting, Gunther dropping, crowd frothing, ref counting, 1, 2, 3.

Wow.  Did not expect that.

Zayn grabbed his belt, went to celebrate with his wife who was tearing up.  Very cool.  First thing tonight that’s really felt like a ‘moment.’  Excellent storytelling both in and out of ring.

WINNER: SAMI ZAYN

Nick Aldis and Adam Pearce out to thank fans for watching.

Very long package highlighting each guy’s path to this match.

Big pop as Cody came out.  Still a trip to see him come out to his exact AEW entrance.  Crowd singing along to his theme.  He really took his time going around ringside, stopping to hug his mom.  And presenting his father-in-law, who is battling cancer, with his belt.  Really hope they don’t go cheap heat with that.

Seth out looking like a drunken rainbow as usual.  With a coat trailing behind him by a good couple of feet.  And a hat pinned to his shoulder.  That theme is awful.  Redundant AF.

Rock got a big entrance, lightning flashes and a cool display across the entrance.  And a flaming brahma bull in front of the ‘XL’ letters.  Back to the old ‘Hollywood Rock’ theme I see.  Maybe my favorite version of him – ‘Easy big fella.’

Cole noted he hasn’t had a true match in over a decade.  Cody stared him down as his music stopped.

And Roman’s very mundane theme kicked in.  Cool start; flat afterwards.  He came out with Heyman of course.  They set off a ton of fireworks as he held the belt up.  This feels really big.  Bit slow but hell of a presentation job.

Cole noted he equals Hulk Hogan for Mania main events tonight.  And takes the lead tomorrow.

Reigns reached the ring and they set off more pyro as he again held the belt up.

Wow, lots of boos for Cody as Samantha announced him.  Seemed like the same for Seth, though they transitioned into briefly singing his theme again.  Rock got lots of cheers, slightly mixed with boos, into ‘Rocky’ chants.  Samantha’s amazing, man – what an intro for Roman.

THE ROCK & ROMAN REIGNS vs CODY RHODES & SETH ROLLINS

Stips: If the Bloodline wins, tomorrow’s title match is Bloodline Rules; if the faces do, the Bloodline will be banned from ringside

Backstory: After things grew heated between Rock & Cody, the latter challenged Rock, who countered by offering this match, which’ll decide who has the advantage going into tomorrow’s title match as Cody looks to complete his story

Crowd Response: Very mixed for all kinds of reasons, there were Cody fans, Seth fans, Rock fans, Cody was definitely cheered vs Roman but not against Rock, the crowd were understandably flat for a slow match which went far too long, but were into the big moments

Match quality: See the bottom

All four hit the center of the ring, crowd up as this came close to starting.  All four stood and stared for a long time.  A loooooong time.  The heels discussed who’d start and went with Roman.  Seth for the good guys.

Collar and elbow, grappling for control, Roman headlock, whipped off, shoulder block, Seth down.  Roman posed.

Back to it, Roman headlock, whipped off, Seth drop down/leapfrog, thrust kick.  Cody asked in and some boos started again.  Seems mixed since he was cheered upon actually entering.  Lockup, Cody working the arm, shots to the shoulder joint, Roman whipping him to the buckle, following with a big lariat.

Cody hit a knee to the gut as Roman came off the ropes, more boos as he went to work with rights, ducked a lariat, another pause as we got back to a lockup.  Man, this is slow.

Cody got a headlock, Seth blind tagging in, Roman saw he was 1 vs 2 and backed up.  To tag the Rock.  He and Seth now locking up until Rollins was launched backwards by the bigger man.  Seth then one-upped him and the crowd sang his theme again.

More stalling.

Lockup into the corner, Rock aimed a cheap kick after the break then went to work with rights.  Seth blocking a follow up, Rock to the buckle, rebounding out via lariat.  Then beckoning Cody to ‘Just Bring It’.  Crowd chanting for Cody now.  Seems there are just sections of very different fans here.

Cody tagged in, they went face to face, dueling Rocky/Cody chants.  Lockup to a break after a stalemate.  More stalling.  Crowd rising now.  More dueling chants.  Cody rights cut off by a single boot to the gut, Cody hit back via his drop down shot to the face, chop in the corner, stomps too, more big rights, tag to Seth as they went to work on the vet.

Double back-elbow, Roman in, Seth slingblade, heels down.

More stalling.

Ref trying to get back to 1:1.  The faces raced at the heels instead, knocking them outside, brawling round ringside, Roman/Cody, Seth/Rock.  The former heading up the ramp.  The ref started to count and Rock said he’d fire him: ‘I don’t fuck around.’  Which was not bleeped.

At least they tried explaining why there are no countouts anyway.  I’ll take it over, ‘The ref’s being lenient.’

Seth and Rock brawling into the crowd as the other two continued on the stage.  Roman seeking a suplex, Cody blocking into one of his own.  As Rock went to work with a trash can.  Then grabbed some water and spat it over Seth.  Cole resisting the temptation to say ‘Vintage!’  (He’s actually been quite good tonight tbf.)

Seth then beat him back over to ringside.  And into the ring.  The others nowhere to be seen.  Until Roman appeared from out of nowhere to hit Seth’s knee from behind as he re-entered.  Rollins spilling off the apron, selling his knee.

And Rock went to work back inside, whacking the joint against the ringpost.  Then tagging Roman.  The assault continuing on Seth’s knee.  Half crab in the middle as Seth tried to scramble for the ropes.  Finally kicking his way free after a long time, Roman immediately smashed him back down, knocking Cody off the apron but being knocked outside himself by Seth.

But Rollins followed and the heels doubled-up on him outside, Rock sending him twice into the steps.  Back inside, tags in and out by the heels as they worked over Seth.  This is really boring.

Roman hit a big boot then stared down Cody.  And posed.  Before motioning for the Superman.  Rollins countering into a neckbreaker, needing to tag, crowd waking a little, Rock in, cutting off the tag and dragging Seth back to the heel corner.

Then blatantly low blowing Seth in front of the ref.  Cole said the ref had apologized to Cody, saying he couldn’t do anything about it.  Seth started fighting back, exchange of rights, one of Rock’s absolutely nailing Seth until the latter hit an enziguri.

Both down.

Roman ran in and was sent out, hooking Cody off the apron right as Seth dove for the tag.  And Rock applied the sharpshooter.  Cody in to break it before retreating to the apron, Seth hitting a Curb Stomp but further injuring his knee, double tags, Roman/Cody in, crowd seemingly cheering Cody here as the action finally picked up.

Nice exchange into a snap powerslam from Cody, disaster kick, Cody cutter, cover, Roman out at two.  Rhodes posing now, CrossRhodes coming, countered, a second Cody cutter met via Superman Punch, Cody kicked out.

Reigns bleeding, readying a spear out of the corner, which Cody avoided, tag to Seth during a Cody cutter, Seth in via splash, near fall.  Rollins readying a Stomp, Reigns countered via powerbomb, signalling the Spear again, Seth punted him, tag to Cody, pair of superkicks, double superkick, Curb Stomp, CrossRhodes, Rock pulled the ref out right before three.

They emphasized this is what Bloodline Rules would be like.

As Rock sent Seth to the barricade.  And Roman hit a low blow, Spear, Cody out at 2.9.  Huge cheer.  From a section of the fans at least.  Cody chants too.

Roman grabbed a guillotine choke, Cody fading, trying to fight out but being tripped down by Rock from the outside.  Seth came in to Stomp Roman to break the hold but again hurt his knee.  Rock bundled him outside.  And went to receive the tag.

Cole keeps complaining about the lack of rules and saying there are none.

They cut to Cody’s mom.  Rock grabbed the belt and said Cody’s blood was on it and her tears were next.  Then headed in to whip Cody, who countered with a kick to the gut, briefly got his belt but took a Rock right.

Before Cody snapped off Dusty jabs, bionic elbow, Rock down.  But recovering to nail a spinebuster.  Huge pop as he stood over Cody ahead of a People’s Elbow.  Pad into the crowd, Cody countered the move into a cutter.  That was not smart, people really wanted to see it and he was booed heavily.

Cody hooked CrossRhodes but took a Superman as Reigns entered, all three down or slumped, Roman holding himself up in the corner, Spear coming, Seth ran in to save Cody and Roman nailed Rock, huge pop.

The faces hit stereo pedigrees, the heels kicked out, crowd couldn’t believe it.

Cody and Seth helped each other up and hugged before splitting off after each heel.  Seth took out Roman with a cross body to the outside.  Rock gouged Cody’s eyes then cleared the Spanish announce table.  And spat more water.

He dumped Cody onto the desk then readied a Rock Bottom.  Seth tried to save Cody again, allowing Rhodes to nail a Rock Bottom from one desk through another, as Roman crushed Seth through the barricade with a Spear, ‘Holy Shit’ from the crowd.

Cody now trying to haul Rock back into the ring, nailed by Roman as he did, Reigns tagging in, firing rights to Cody who was on his knees.  But fought up – yay/boo – crowd definitely behind Rhodes here, who rebounded off the ropes, ducked a lariat, CrossRhodes, rolling through into a second, seeking a third, but exposing his back to the ropes, allowing Rock to absolutely smack him with the weightbelt, Roman Spear.

Rock asking for the tag, getting it, a little reluctantly on Roman’s part.  Rock Bottom, People’s Elbow coming, Rock making a throat slashing gesture first, Elbow hit, Rock wins.

So this was a poor match, but setup lots of stories.  Not least the one tomorrow.  Because the smartest outcome here was the heels winning.  It creates the most doubt about who’s winning going into tomorrow’s main event.  And creates an obvious Cody/Rock match in the future.  While also giving Seth an ‘out’ in his match with Drew, due to his dodgy knee.

Rock and Roman posed again as pyro went off once more.

WINNER: ROCK & ROMAN REIGNS

So as a usual AEW viewer, but one who feels the show is often too busy, this was a really nice change of pace.  Some might complain about the long breaks between matches for packages and such.

But it’s inarguable they allowed everything to have its own spotlight, to sink in, to highlight stars, for fans to breathe a little between matches.  They did lose the balance after the IC match, on what was until then an entertaining night of wrestling.  Building to what felt like a really massive main event which did not deliver in the ring.  It could’ve gone half as long and still told the same stories.

But does set the stage for tomorrow – both babyfaces have a lot to overcome.

GO OUT OF YOUR WAY TO WATCH…

  • Sami Zayn vs Gunther

Thanks for reading.  Enjoy night two.

Paul Hemming
Paul Hemminghttps://h00kedon.weebly.com/
Paul Hemming got into AEW during the pandemic, lives in Liverpool, England, and is a huge Liverpool fan, Playstation player and history lover.

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