Thursday, April 4, 2024

Ramblemania Rewind 38 - WWE Wrestlemania 38 (2022)

Date: April 2–3, 2022
Venue: AT&T Stadium - Arlington, Texas
Attendance
Night 1: 65,719
Night 2: 65,653
Combined: 131,372

A lesson to be learned: just because you call something stupendous doesn't necessarily make it so.

Yes, I used that opening line in the original Ramblemania post. Yes, it's still valid.

Anyway, this is Wrestlemania 38. Another two-night affair that I recall taking me several days to get through because it was so damned long. The good news is that I was able to watch this show in two nights, meaning I sat through each night without interruption. Unfortunately, each night of Wrestlemania 38 were witnessed days apart and if I'm going to be honest, that was the only way that I would even consider giving this thing a shot. My main complaint with this show was that it was too damned long - each night was roughly four hours a night and a lot of these shows felt considerably bloated.

What helped this time around was a lot of fast forwarding, skipping through the non-wrestling bits and extraneous commercials. Even with a wonky Network interface, this helped in making these shows more tolerable than usual. 



NIGHT ONE
April 2nd, 2022

Smackdown Tag-Team Champions THE USOs retain the titles over Shinsuke Nakaruma and Rick Boogs in a short match. At some point, Boogs tore his quad and that left Shin alone to fend off both Usos in a short-lived handicap match. Rick Boos would be on the shelf for quite a while and eventually released from WWE... well, that's a bit of a shame and certainly puts a damper on this here opening match.

Drew McIntyre defeated Happy Corbin in a short but fun little match that saw Drew kick out of Corbin's End Of Days finisher, which didn't get kicked out of often (if at all) because Corbin believed in protecting one's finisher so that it'd mean more when it hits. After the match, Drew cut one of the ring ropes with his sword and that gives us an excuse to witness more video packages and commercials. And while I would applaud some of these packages for bringing me up to speed on stuff I barely remember, these always felt more like padding for the sake of padding rather than true recaps.

So after skipping the latest batch of videos, we get the Miz and Logan Paul beat the Mysterios... it's almost odd seeing Dominick pre-HARD TIMES IN COUNTY JAIL Mysterio team up with his fake dad Rey. Logan Paul was the celebrity brought in that was booked as a babyface, but nobody liked Logan Paul and so when Miz (who is a heel) turned on Logan Paul, people cheered... so clearly, the smart decision was made (eventually) to turn Paul into an unlikable prick on TV. This was a fine match with three quality talents... and Miz was there, too, I guess. (Kidding.)

Stephanie McMahon comes out and introduces that gold medal winner Gabe Steveson to the crowd. In the original rant, I described him as someone who "comes across as the most lifeless, passionless looking person in the universe. A mailbox has more life that Gabe does." For what it's worth, Gabe got a couple matches on NXT television and... well, yeah... the less said, the better.

Bianca Belair defeated RAW Women's Champion Becky Lynch to win the title. So Bianca lost the title to Becky back in Summerslam in a match that lasted a minute or so... and it took us this long for Bianca to get her win and title back, all for the sake of the "Wrestlemania Moment" that loses all meaning with each passing year. The match was fine, the right woman won in the end, but I wasn't really feeling this one.

In his return match, The American Nightmare Cody Rhodes defeated Seth Rollins... and yes, it felt like a big deal. He got to keep the name, he got to keep the gear, he got to keep the song - which is one of the better wrestling songs that I've heard in that it fits Cody like a glove - and yes, I even made a quip about his tattoo. But yeah, looking back, there was no doubt that Cody was over huge with the crowd. And yes, even though he and Seth had this great match, there were understandable doubts about whether Cody's run was going to be worthwhile. He left WWE of his own accord, found success outside the system, and is even a founding father of All Elite Wrestling. This match was a good start, but hardly indicative of the run going forward.

Well, it's been a couple years and yes, there has been some bumps along the way, but I think it's safe to say that Cody's current run in WWE has been has exceeded expectations. Whether he ends up finishing the story or not is another story in and of itself - no pun intended - but no doubt that Cody has cemented himself as one of WWE's top headliners and merch movers... and it all started with a solid match against Seth Rollins... no, I am not calling him "Freakin'" anything unless it's followed by "idiot."

Smackdown Champion Charlotte Flair defeated Ronda Rousey via shenanigans to retain the title in a rather boring match. Nuff said. Next.

In our main event angle, we have the KO Show in which Kevin Owens interviews Stone Cold Steve Austin. After a few words were traded, Kevin challenges Austin to a no-holds-barred match, which Austin accepts (after getting a HELL YEAH from the audience) and that brings us to our impromptu main event that saw Stone Cold Steve Austin, in his first official WWE match since 2003, defeat Kevin Owens in a no-holds-barred match that saw both men fight on the outside, in the crowd, and eventually some Stunners were traded before Austin got the win. And I recall being somewhat resistent in the idea of Austin doing any sort of match due to his bad neck. Go back to the original Ramblemania post and you can read this entire diatribe I had regarding this match... but then I actually went and saw it... and it was a Steve Austin match from the ol' Attitude era days.

Yes, I cringed when he took that back bump in the crowd... but I think that woke him up a bit and all of a sudden, there were hints of the old Stone Cold magic... perhaps a little slower, but still just as intense. And Kevin Owens was more than the perfect foil for Austin, giving the Rattlesnake a happier note to end his career on... unless they decide we need to book Austin vs. Punk somewhere down the line; nearly a decade after it would've mattered.

For the third year in a row, Night One is a banger. How does Night Two fare?

Note to self: don't ever use the word 'banger' ever again. You sound like an asshole.

NIGHT TWO
April 3rd, 2022

Night Two begins with HHH coming out, thanking the crowd, welcoming everyone to Wrestlemania, and finally laid his boots in the middle of the ring to confirm that yes, he is retired for good. Trying to wrestle with a defibulator in your chest is probably not the wisest course of action at this point. Sadly, they took the boots out of the ring, so there wasn't this odd visual of everyone working their match while the boots stayed in the ring. Hopefully, somebody put them back there so they could stay in the middle of the ring while they tore the set down.

RAW Tag-Team Champions RK-Bro (Randy Orton & Matt Riddle) defeated the Street Profits and Alpha Academy in a three-way to retain the titles in a perfectly acceptable tag-team three-way. Then one of the Alpha guys got it on with Gabe Steveson, who shows off his natural charisma hole of color. Yes, I used that line before. It remains a good line.

Bobby Lashley defeated Omos in a thing that happened. This is a step up from the last time I watched this match because I actually know the tall guy's name, but the match itself is... eh. At least they got paid.

Johnny Knoxville defeated Sami Zayn in another thing that happened - a thing that saw  Johnny countering Sami's offense with tricks, traps, and assists from the other Jackass people. I enjoyed this one more than I probably should have because it's such a goofy spectacle of stupidity that there's almost an absurdist appeal in watching a match of total nonsense play out before your eyes. And yeah, I kinda wished that Sami had been in a better position than being stuck in the comedy match, but a year later, he'd be main-eventing Night 1 of Mania 39 to win the tag titles with Kevin Owens, so he turned out just fine.

Sasha Banks and Glow Girl win the Women's Tag Titles over three other teams of hastily put together women in a match where they had a bunch of women in there and no actual tag teams, which made it difficult to ascertain who's teaming with who. Sadly, two years later, and it doesn't seem like things had changed much in this regard and a few months later, Sasha and Glow Girl would leave WWE due to alleged creative disputes. Glow Girl has since made her return to WWE while Sasha (now Mercedes) is slumming it in the AEW catacombs. Oh, by the way, this match was the drizzling shits.

Edge (who I referred to as Edge's Granddad) defeated AJ Styles, who started off bloodied out of nowhere, which is odd... oh and Damien Priest provided a distraction for AJ to get speared by old man Edge after twenty-five minutes of slow motion action. I will go out of my way to say that Edge's early-2020s WWE return hasn't been the rousing success as some suggested. We got a bunch of long matches that felt long for the sake of being long and this was certainly the case. The only takeaway I got from this is was that this match reminded me of the fact that TEH JUDGMENT DAY began with Edge before he got kicked out and... well, yeah... this was a thing. Not a great thing or anything... but I do see more clearly.

It would seem that I may have a new cure of insomnia. The 20-minute HHH promo can rest easy, for I have this match to put me out like a light. Good lord, this was deathly dull.

Sheamus and Ridge Holland beat the New Day in less than two minutes. People made a big stink about this match not happening at the show or at all... and this was what they got. This had to be some top-tier trolling on the part of creative for them to give people what they want and somehow piss them off even more... but I digress.

So I skipped the next match and its aftermath because I just didn't feel like watching in light of... certain things. However, for the sake of completion, I've copied-and-pasted the bit from the old Ramblemania discussing this action. This was written two years ago, by the way.

"Pat McAfee (the former football guy turned part-time Adam Cole foil turned Smackdown announcer) defeated Austin Theory (Vince McMahon's next chosen star who is allegedly the next John Cena) in a thing that happened. Hey, I'll give credit; the people were super into McAfee and the bit where he was talking on the headset while beating up Theory on the table gave me a good laugh, because that was the sort of thing guys like Rock or Stone Cold would do back in the day. If you wanted a good strong showing for McAfee on the grandest stage, I'd say this counts in spades.

"And then McAfee challenged McMahon to a fight, who responded by taking off his shirt. Theory got a couple sneak attacks in before McMahon tossed a football into Pat's ribs, allowing Vince to score the pinfall... and then Steve Austin comes out, stuns Austin Theory (who sells it beautifully with a very nice high bounce) and shares a drink with Vince before "stunning" him... by which I mean, Vince falls before poor Austin manages to grab on to the bastard and do the stunner. The poor fucker couldn't sell the thing in his 40s.

"Oh, and McAfee also gets stunned... he sells it pretty good too."

Copying and pasting the main event bit, too... because I still don't care.

"Universal (Blue Belt) champion Roman Reigns defeated WWE World Champion Brock Lesnar to win both belts in the WINNER TAKES ALL, THIS TIME FOR SURE PAL, match. Roman would carry both belts for another year before he'd eventually trade it in for that Undisputed title. They say the third time is a charm and this... was also something that put me to sleep. Because no matter how much you try to make this a big deal, the fact is that I've already seen this Wrestlemania event twice before. They sucked then and this sucks now. Different dynamic with Tribal Chief Roman and Farmer Brock? Sure, but it's the same fucking match that I've already seen. I was bored with it then and this was no fucking different. And on top of that, Brock gets beat and Roman holds two belts, leaving many to wonder how anybody is going to give a shit about what happens now when we're all waiting for next year to roll around so we can (maybe) have that Rock vs. Roman match they always wanted. Thanks but no thanks. I'll pass."

Wrestlemania 38 would've been fine had they kept Night One and ditched Night Two. Where do you book everything on Night Two? How about another show that isn't Wrestlemania? Night One was one of the best cards that they had put out in recent memory, despite a couple sour points here and there, but Night Two was just a lot of nothing happening, nothing caring, why am I watching this crap? I could've skipped the second night entirely and I would've missed nothing. Hell, in hindsight, I probably should have skipped Night Two entirely, but we've got to be complete with this stuff.

Oh, well... one more left to go.

Time to finish the story...

Or not...

Dunno...

Later...

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