WrestleMania 37 last weekend saw the first WWE event with fans back in the arena since the lead up to last year’s WrestleMania. The show opened with Vince McMahon and the WWE roster involved in both nights of the show welcoming fans back for the first time in a year.
On the latest episode of WWE After the Bell, WWE commentator Corey Graves spoke about WrestleMania 37 and the differences from Saturday’s show to Sunday’s. Graves said being on commentary and experiencing Night One live was something different because of the first show with fans in over a year, but admitted that Night Two felt more like a traditional WrestleMania.
“Night one was so significant and emotional because it was the first,” Graves said. “You never replicate your first, it was the first time in a year, a month and a day that we got to have fans that are the lifeblood of what we do. They weren’t cheering for Vic Joseph, they weren’t cheering for Corey Graves, they weren’t even cheering for Randy Orton or Carmella or whoever else, they were cheering for WWE and for normalcy and for WrestleMania. That to me was bigger than the biggest spectacle in live entertainment, that to me was on a human being level significant. I had genuine emotion, I had a lump in my throat, I was choking back tears, chewing on my cheeks standing on the stage just going man, we’re back. That to me was why night one was more significant.
“From an objective perspective, night two to me felt more like WrestleMania. Night two to me start to finish felt like okay this is what I’ve become accustomed to, this is what I grew up watching. A great three hour exciting spectacle, the pyro, the fireworks, all the bells and whistles. Everything went to perfection on Sunday night and it felt cleaner and better but I don’t think anyone is going to forget night one for a litany of reasons.”
On the first night of WrestleMania, Bianca Belair defeated Sasha Banks in the main event to become the SmackDown Women’s Champion. Graves talked about the significance of the match and how proud and happy he was for both Banks and Belair.
“It was significant even beyond the halls of WrestleMania and WWE,” Graves admitted. “Two black women main eventing WrestleMania for the first time in history, culturally very significant, very exciting for us who know these two women as colleagues and as friends.
“To see Bianca get that moment and hats off to Sasha Banks. She came up short so obviously everybody is talking about Belair, but I say it week after week after week, I challenge you to find a better in-ring competitor definitely in the women’s division, maybe men included, that Sasha Banks is firing on all cylinders right now. Those two women did not disappoint, an unbelievable feeling.”
During the main event of night one, commentator Michael Cole thought the finish of the match wasn’t the end, assuming Sasha Banks kicked out Bianca’s finisher. This led to immediate criticism online of Cole, saying he ruined the finish of the match and Belair’s moment by saying that Banks kicked out. Graves talked about Cole’s botch, saying it was an honest mistake because he thought the match wasn’t over.
“If there’s anybody that’s truly unshakable, it’s [Michael] Cole,” Graves said. “Cole felt bad, he felt terrible but I can relate. I almost thought the same thing, from our vantage point, it was not crystal clear. I’m not making excuses cause it was what it is, it didn’t take anything away from the amazing moment, it was reality. It was a very genuine real reaction, take into consideration, yes we have the monitor, yes we have audio in our headphones, but we’re also in a stadium full of 20,000 people.
“Any wrestler’s book that you have ever read says being in a stadium is very different than an arena because it takes a second, the sound has to leave and come back before anybody can truly register. I myself, wasn’t sure. Hey, it’s the main event of WrestleMania, people have kicked out of each others finishers 35 times already tonight, why wouldn’t this be any different? It was a genuine shock after that so everyone, leave Michael Cole alone.”
If you use any of the quotes in this article, please credit WWE After the Bell with a h/t to Wrestling Inc. for the transcription.