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The first night of WrestleMania is in the books. The show featured a wide-diversity of matches, some of which use the term "match" liberally. Overall, the show had some really solid stuff, with talent working hard to make the best of the situation. The ladder match in particular, was a legitimately really good match, even without a crowd. Some of the other matches followed a more basic formula, but were solid nonetheless.
The final two matches were...interesting. That was definitely the strangest main event in WrestleMania history. Given the circumstances behind everything, it is hard to say this was a really bad show. They had some good matches and tried some outside the box ideas, some of which worked and others didn't. It wasn't a real WrestleMania, but as a viewing spectacle, it wasn't half-bad.
The Undertaker vs AJ Styles:**
I have no idea how to rate this match. For some fans it was probably extremely entertaining and a great match; to others it was unwatchable. It wasn't a typical wrestling match, so it is going to be a bit divisive.
The pros of the match to me, were the charachters of both men. I didn't like the build for this match, Styles mentioning Taker's wife felt cheap and repetitive. However, AJ really went for it and hammed it up a lot, and I can appreciate that kind of effort. I did like that Taker showed more attitude and personality, and felt like a real person and not some form of demonic ghoul. This wasn't the same old Undertaker doing the same old stuff.
The match kind of fell apart when the lights came out and all the random druids came out, and Taker took them out like a Kung Fu movie, but Taker throwing some bad-looking punches that reminded me of Robert De Niro beating up the grocer in The Irishman. Things got a little too goofy at that point, with Taker then using all sorts of magical powers to beat Styles. If they had kept this as a more basic, graveyard kind of brawl with some of the cool spots, like the tombstone on the roof of the shed, it would have resonated better with me. It just got a little too fake and mystical.
Braun Strowman vs Goldberg:*
This was about what everyone expected, although I was kind of surprised to see Strowman win. The match was fast with each guy hitting only their signature move, and kind of no-selling each one except for Strowman's final powerslam. With the win Strowman does become world champion, something that has alluded him for his entire career as a guy who had always lost the big matches in his career.
I'm not sure what to think of it. The build to the match was non-existent, with WWE building the match up for Reigns, only for Reigns to decide working the show during the pandemic was too much of a health risk, which is obviously understandable. WWE didn't announce Strowman for the match until 24 hours before WrestleMania, so it wasn't like this was the culmination of some major storyline. Strowman has a certain presence due to his size, and he can be entertaining at times, but I don't see him as a major star who can be the new face of the company, especially since his string of big-match failures cooled him off a bit. Everything about the match just felt like a placeholder for whatever WWE decides to do once the pandemic quiets down and they can get back on the road.
Becky Lynch vs Shayna Baszler: **½
The start of this match was very good, they worked a hard, physical style which was good. In this kind of setting, you need to have an intensity level that sucks the viewer into the idea that this is a serious contest and not performance art. They were a little stiff at times, which was okay and actually benefited the match.
The issue was the finish was flat and just a bad decision. Lynch gains nothing from winning, she has had the title for the year and cleaned out the division. Baszler was a new face and someone getting a big push; she needed a win here to become the next great rival for Becky. Obviously it looks like they are going to do a rematch, but you know what would be a better way to get to the rematch? Have Baszler actually go over and take the title from Lynch. This was a really poor decision.
Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins: ***½
This was pretty good. Rollins had a very strange last 365, but he delivered here big time, and his obvious trash talking during the match helped the empty arena match feel more lively. Owens going over was the right move and he hit that huge elbow drop which was a great moment and a pretty big risk. The false finish really worked because fans actually believe WWE would do a DQ situation in that situation.
Jimmy Uso vs Kofi Kingston vs John Morrison: ****
These guys worked incredibly hard and had a really good match. Even with no crowd, this was one of the better WrestleMania matches of the past few years. A lot of creative spots and crazy stuff happening; guys taking big risks and really putting out a huge effort for WrestleMania. Morrison was fantastic in this match; with the twisting senton off the post onto a ladder, and the rope-walk into a Spanish Fly being just two of the highlights. The finish was different, but still quite good. Very impressive match.
Sami Zayn vs Daniel Bryan: ***
This was a good match because they didn't wrestle it the same way that they would if a crowd was watching. It was physical and there were not a ton of big moves or eye-popping stuff, but basic stuff done with a lot of intensity. Sami Zayn physically, after a lot of injuries, probably isn't going to be quite the performer he once was, but he is smart and understands how to put on a match even with some physical limitations. The only negative I would say about this match is that it was too short; it could have easily gone longer and been a much better match.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross vs The Kabuki Warriors: **¼
This was an okay opening match. One benefit of the show being two nights is that matches could get more time; if this had been at a proper WrestleMania, it seems likely the match could have been rushed. The Kabuki Warriors were very good; both in their work and how hard they tried to make noise and present characters, which is vital in that kind of setting. The weakness of this match is that Bliss has some really weak looking offense, and the finish with her awkwardly landing on top of Sane's legs from the top was flat.
Elias vs Baron Corbin: *
This was bad. Not every match on the show felt like this, but this really felt like two guys doing a practice match at the WWE Performance Center. Not much of a story, neither guy is a real star, and they both work boring, robotic styles that are not going to go over well in front of an empty arena. At least Elias won, since he pretty much always loses his matches on PPV.