wrestling / Columns

The 3 Rs: The Right, wRong and Ridiculous of WrestleMania 37 Night One and Night Two

April 14, 2021 | Posted by Tony Acero
Roman Reigns

FINALLY…..THE Rs HAVE COME BACK…..

To 4! 1! 1!

A common issue I have with doing the RAW Live Recap, and the subsequent RAW Report is that I have very little time to put my thoughts together into a cohesive thread, and often times leave quick quips and sudden bursts of eye-rolling instead of thought-provoking, and ample time spent to give you all a more thorough analysis. The question then bodes; will you get that here?

The answer is likely no. I kid. In all reality, I’ve wanted to bring The Rs back in some way or another for some time now for multiple reasons. One, I’d like to honor Larry the best I could, two, I actually do want to incorporate reader feedback and create an open forum for conversation that the RAW Report simply doesn’t have, and three; I feel at times that this website is waning, and although some would be quick to say that it’s all Acero’s fault, I think the biggest detriment was the death of weekly columns. This is my attempt to rectify said situation.

The format is simple; I pick a show, explain what I think is Right about it, wRong about it, Ridiculous about it, and for those odd spots where we may need a week or two to see them fully flesh out, or they simply weren’t all that bad, we have a little spot called puRgatory.

And what better way to start than with the official Chapter 1 of every wrestling season; Wrestlemania!

Bobby Lashley Defeated Drew McIntyre [***1/2]
Tamina and Natalya Defeated Lana and Naomi, Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose, and The Riott Squad [DUD]
Cesaro Defeated Seth Rollins [****]
AJ Styles and Omos Defeated The New Day [**]
Braun Strowman Defeated Shane McMahon [1/2*]
Bad Bunny and Damian Priest Defeated The Miz and John Morrison [***1/2]
Bianca Belair Defeated Sasha Banks [****3/4]


Man Meat Mountain: If you’ve paid attention to RAW over the past few months, you’ve noticed a hard hitting style that won’t let up, particularly when it comes to Sheamus, Drew, Lashley, and Riddle. I’d even toss Keith Lee into that before he went away for some reason. This came to a peak on both Mania nights, but most definitely started here with Lashley and Drew. They put it all on the line, and if you closed your eyes and heard the man to man smacking, you’d think Brokeback Mountain was on. In all seriousness, this was a great opener that had tons of energy and didn’t let up. We also had a bit of a surprise (at least to me) in a clean Lashley win that saw Drew pass out! They amplified the win with Lashley destroying Riddle the next night, but having Drew tap out was huge. Truly, the only thing I didn’t like was that all it took was MVP shouting at Drew to distract and cause the finish, but that’s minor considering they let Lashley keep the title and dominate Drew in a convincing fashion.

Unidentified Flying Opponent: I love Cesaro. Vanessa loves Cesaro. My neighbor loves Cesaro (probably). I’ve felt like Cesaro has been on the precipice of a push to the top for so long, but they never let go of the catapult. So the dude can’t talk – we’ve heard worse! He can Fuckin GO! And FUCKING GO, HE DID! Much love to Seth for taking the L, and even more so for helping Cesaro to look good. Cesaro showed his strength for those that may have forgotten, and proved he has a hell of a lot left in the tank. Seth proved he is an angel to work with when he’s not breaking necks, and these guys did everything they could to get Cesaro over.

Estamos Bein: Let’s all just sit the hell down for a second and pick our jaw up off the floor, because not a damned person thought Bad Bunny was going to do what he did come Mania. I will readily admit (and I hope to Sweet Baby HBK I don’t sound like Watry here) that I was more than ok with Bad Bunny’s presence from the start. His mainstream appeal is incredibly high, the dude is literally everywhere, and you could just tell the passion was there. You mix in a little legit training, and it’s no wonder he was able to do what he did. Everything was Right here, and Miz and Morrison losing didn’t hurt them in the slightest. Truly, the only real “loser” here would probably be Priest as he completely felt like an afterthought, but the focal point of this match was obvious and they played to that. Amazing Mania moment, for sure.

The Boss. The Blueprint. The Standard: This was beautiful. No, seriously, all gimmicked love for Sasha aside, this was – quite possibly – one of the best Mania main events in a long, long time. It had everything; drama, intrigue, two star players, amazing athleticism, and a legit main event feel. This is all true, but there was something else I loved about this match; and it was the willingness to put Bianca over fully and wholly. In just watching the match, you saw the tried and true story of the confident veteran, you also saw the wily rookie overcoming the odds, but what I loved – truly loved – was it felt so real. It felt like Bianca really spent a bulk of her time watching tapes, learning Sasha, engulfing her in the essence of Banks, because homegirl had an answer for EVERYTHING Sasha did. It was so…awesome. Not to mention her amazing press and walk up the steps, as well as that hair whip, and the various other times Bianca was able to show her strength. This match was magical as all hell, and maybe it was the numerous shots of peanut butter whiskey at this point in the evening, but I truly got goosebumps. Amazing.

WrestleRainia: Oh, Cole…how I wish murder wasn’t a crime. In a years long feud, God got one up on Mr. McMahon yet again, by raining on his parade, causing the WWE to scramble for ideas to stall time. While I won’t say that any of the promos they had talent cut were “bad,” they also weren’t all that great and some were pretty awkward. If we are ranking them, I’d say Big E’s passionate promo about his friends was the best, and everything else was a low, low second.

Omos DOES Count: Another nice surprise was that Omos was, at least, serviceable as a big man. He is certainly no Khali. I get the kick that everyone was explaining in allowing this to be the thing that got AJ into Grand Slam territory, but the win just feels like a linear transition. We certainly won’t be getting good wrestling out of it. Then again, the tag titles haven’t really meant all that much for a while, so letting AJ and his big friend hold them may give them a bit more shine than they’ve seen.

Choo-Choo: From the start of this program, there was nothing worth giving it any of our attention. The promo of Shane’s that was supposed to “confuse” Braun, the idea that someone like Braun needs to stand up for “all the losers,” or that he got bullied at all (even if he did), the inclusion of Elias for no reason. All of these things lead to a match that was simply there so Shane could bump. What used to be looked upon as a wonderful sacrifice for the fans has turned into a self-serving episode of fellatio for no reason other than to see Braun emulate a train.

Turmoil is Right: Holy shit, this was bad. I’m not even talking about Mandy slipping and falling. I’m not talking about the constant miscommunication between Liv and Ruby and everyone else. I’m not even talking about the decision to give Tamina and Natalya the win. I’m not talking about the sluggishness that is Tamina, or the poor poor methods that Billie Kay must use to get on TV. No, all of that would be good enough to get us into the Ridiculous section, but who and what I’m talking about specifically is Lana. Listen, yes, we can appreciate and love and laud her efforts for attempting to be a wrestler, but we’ve seen enough – she hasn’t improved, she’s sloppy, she’s inconsistent, her charcter is weak, flawed, one-note, and most of her promos, even when scripted don’t make sense. Her delivery is stilted, her wrestling is worse than that. Tonight proved it. Her and Nia, both of them, if gone, would not be missed at all by yours truly, not even one bit. There is no feel-good story here, there is no underdog. Lana is not an underdog, she is a bad wrestler with no upside. I just…don’t…get it.

Time for Night 2!

Hi everybody! It’s your favorite idiot Michael Ornelas, and I’m thrilled to be back with a regular column on 411! I’ll be handling the Rs for AEW Dynamite, and PPVs from both WWE and AEW. If you thought Tony Acero was on Tony Khan’s payroll, wait until you see what I have to say about the Elite squad. You’d think I’m Scrooge McDuck in a pool of all those Khan coins.

Randy Orton def. The Fiend [**]
WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions Shayna Baszler & Nia Jax def. Natalya & Tamina [**¼]
Kevin Owens def. Sami Zayn [***¼]
Sheamus def. United States Champion Matt Riddle [***½]
Apollo Crews def. Intercontinental Champion Big E in a Nigerian Drum Fight [***]
Rhea Ripley def. Raw Women’s Champion Asuka [**¾]
Universal Champion Roman Reigns def. Edge and Daniel Bryan [****½]


KOnspiracy-Mania:

It finally happened! Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn got to cement their perpetual rivalry with a chapter at WrestleMania. As a Pro Wrestling Guerrilla regular, this made me smile from ear to ear before the bell even rang. Sami’s character work has been legendary as of late, and Owens is Owens. They busted out a lot of the greatest hits from their indy days. The BUCKLEBUSTAH was teased, even if the crowd didn’t know it. So was the Packaged Piledriver, for that matter. Lots of winks and nods while having a good match to those not familiar with their pre-WWE days. Logan Paul was kept out of the spotlight, and these wrestlers were allowed to do their thing before the YouTuber ate a Stunner. Win/win as far as I’m concerned, and the first distinctly “Right” thing on the show.

Bro vs. Brogue:

These men just beat the crap out of one another for the better part of ten-ish minutes, and it was great. Sheamus was a total pro for turning his slip off the top rope with Riddle on his shoulders into a standard White Noise without derailing the match momentum. Everything else was crisp and the finish was brutal. Maybe that kick will keep Riddle off the mic for a few weeks.

Beating Each Other Like Drums

Opening the Nigerian Drum Fight between Big E and Apollo Crews with rhythmic Kendo Stick shots to one another was low-key brilliant. I love me a good plunder brawl, and this was a fun one. It reminded me of the Belfast Brawl between JBL and Finlay at WrestleMania 24. It didn’t overstay its welcome, and made the most of its time. The tease where Apollo was going to throw the top ring steps onto Big E below got me good. My big gripe with the execution of the gimmick was that the djembe drums went completely ignored, instead focusing on traditional WWE weaponry like tables, steel steps, and kendo sticks. Then there’s the finish, which didn’t vibe with me. Apollo had already lost so many times against Big E, it weakens him to need help the one time he manages to pull out the victory. It wasn’t enough for me to knock this out of the Right category, as (sadly) I’m used to WWE having weak heel champions, and the match itself was intense and fun. The follow-up may knock this to wRong in hindsight, but for now I feel it deserves the benefit of the doubt.

The Reign of Roman is Just Getting Started:

What a difference a heel turn can make, huh? Roman Reigns went from being the guy whose segments and matches I would skip past…to being the single most compelling character on WWE television. My favorite wrestler of all-time is Daniel Bryan, and one of my favorite characters of all-time is Edge. But going into this, I knew it was Roman’s time to shine. Not only did he have one of the most dominant visual wins in wrestling history by stacking two legends on top of one another and pinning them simultaneously…but he also had the best match of his career in the process. This match was oozing with creativity and unique visuals (the crossface with the crossbar of the chair with a simultaneous LeBell lock was the pinnacle in that regard), and everyone came out of this match elevated. Which is hard to do when you lose as decisively as Bryan and Edge did (though it was salvaged for the fact that Jey Uso contributed to Roman’s win). What a fantastic match that everyone involved should be proud of. The only match I enjoyed more this past weekend was the main event of the first night.

Titus and Hulk Walk the Plank:

A Right and a wRong paired together averages out to puRgatory. It was satisfying watching Hogan get booed whenever he tried to speak, but I’m thrilled a guy like Titus got the opportunity to be an important part of the WrestleMania weekend. The pirate jokes here were as corny as you can get.

Come Along and Throw Your Cares Away:

The opening contest was something I was dreading. The Fiend’s booking has been handled very questionably, and the angle with Orton and Bliss has taken some twists and turns that border on Ridiculous. But you know what? Their story at Mania, in a vacuum, I didn’t hate. Bray’s entrance was awesome, and Orton sold it perfectly. We got the hot start with the dive off the jack in the box. If it was just that, this would be in the Right. But the ending left more questions than it answered, so for now it’s puRgatory until we can see how it’s followed up. The Fiend has been treated as a worldbeater, so dying to one RKO bothered me. I give it the benefit of the doubt because the distraction with Bliss clearly had a profound effect on The Fiend, even if the special effects looked a bit cheesy. Oh yeah, and the Brodie Lee “Yeah Yeah Yeah!” brought me joy.

Bayley and Bischoff Walk the Plank as Well:

Bad backstage segments and WrestleMania go together like peanut butter and jelly. More of Titus and Hogan backstage, but now we add Eric Bischoff and Bayley into the mix. DING DONG. Bayley can do no wrong right now, and she saves this from wRong or Ridiculous. Her energy is so unique, leading to her promo segments feeling fresh amidst a lot of homogeneity in WWE.

The Pimp Slap Heard ‘round the World:

I wasn’t ready to think anything good of the Women’s Tag Team Championship match, but it was competent! Natalya and Tamina weren’t the duo I’d have gone with, but you know what? They stepped up. The crowd was actually behind Tamina! The story of the match was solid, and led up to a wicked backhanded slap from Tamina to Nia before she slammed her ass! Nia didn’t murder anybody. While the match wasn’t great, it surpassed my expectations enough to end up in puRgatory.

Ready for Asuka, But Not WrestleMania:

I like Rhea Ripley quite a bit, but I’ve watched this Raw Women’s Championship match twice now and I’ve concluded that I don’t think she was comfortable, and the match suffered as a result. I had lofty expectations that this would be the show-stealer, but with Ripley’s recent heel turn, I didn’t see her adapt to wrestling as an interesting heel in this match. There was a lot of bland heel aggression, but nothing special. She didn’t play to the crowd enough to garner much heat, and it felt noncommittal. On top of that, I didn’t feel a much chemistry between the two, so instead of a sleeper match of the night, we got a “fine” match with nothing glaringly wrong. But “fine” is a disappointment when you consider the talents involved. I hope Ripley grows into the heel role because she has a lot of upside, but this was slightly better than “boring.” And that makes me sad since Asuka is one of my favorite WWE wrestlers.

Bayley’s Pyro Walks the Plank:

A truly bad segment with Hogan, Titus, and The Bellas. But a golden contribution from Bayley. “Hit my pyro!!” manages to salvage this to puRgatory. It’s going to take a lot for me to put Bayley in the wRong. Ding Dong.

I’m Probably Just No Fun:

I clench up every time Matt Riddle speaks. He’s an exceptional athlete and an adequate in-ring storyteller, but man…his delivery in promos and backstage segments just reek of the kind of bad acting I’d see when making dumb shorts in college. Sure, they’re fun when taken at face value, but this is a multi-million dollar corporation with a legacy that spans more than half a century. So when Matt Riddle is bro-ing it up with Great Khali and suggesting he sell giant toilets, only for RVD to interrupt and shill his rolling papers, I start to question my tastes. It’s not like this dragged down the show, but I could’ve done without it.

That Was (My) Brutal(ity):

I’m usually in favor of wrestlers being played to the ring by the band that does their entrance song. But man. Rhea Ripley’s entrance was marred by what experts would enthusiastically agree was NOT music. It was yelling. I don’t mind the studio version of the song that Rhea normally comes out to, but wow. Bad. Really bad.

America the Recycled:

This is a verrrry soft “Ridiculous,” (and calling it “wRong” felt extreme as it’s largely inoffensive) but didn’t it just feel really silly to try and pass off the reactions of the wrestlers from the stage on Night One as though they were there again on Night Two? It made me laugh, and I just wanted to mention it.

Dunn’s Direction:

The camera work on WWE’s main roster shows are such a mixed bag. The positioning is perfect. Missing a spot or a moment on WWE programming is so rare. But then there are the cuts. They’re insane. There are SO many, and they are done to mask the “fakeness” of wrestling (aka wrestlers protecting one another). To a degree, I get it, but it undermines the performers. They know how to throw worked strikes as it’s their job. They’re paid large sums of money to do so. Just let them do their thing and stop cutting at every impact. What’s even worse is when the cuts are constant for non-impact moments. Look no further than Big E’s entrance. Wale plays him out, and then when Big E walks out, we cut back and forth multiple times to show the fireworks and pyro. Once is enough, and even then…why in the hell are we cutting away from the face of the champion?? I want to see Big E reacting to a big singles championship match at WrestleMania! I want to see the hometown hero soaking it all in! I want to see the emotion from one of the most charismatic and likable men currently wrestling in WWE. I don’t need to see fireworks that are only impressive to a live audience. Knock it off. #FireDunn

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Tony Acero