Braun Strowman vs Jake Paul: No Disqualification Match (10 min)
I know this sounds random and bizarre, but I’m promising you this match up has WrestleMania written all over it. Think of a modern day Big Show vs Floyd Wayweather. National boxing star vs one of WWE’s top giants in a fight on the grandest stage. We get Jake’s first WWE match alongside his brother Logan against The Usos at Elimination Chamber, but they fall short. Come WrestleMania, Logan had some other business to take care of (which will be addressed on Night Two). On an episode of SmackDown on the road to ‘Mania, "The Monster Of All Monsters" hits the ring to make his claim for WrestleMania. He expresses how he was forced to miss WrestleMania 38 by his former boss, and he’s never letting that happen again; therefore Strowman is extending an open challenge to the locker room to meet him in Los Angeles. And that’s when he is met by the infamous Jake Paul; he wants those hands.
This sets up the perfect match up for two reasons. The mainstream appeal here cannot be ignored. And along with that, if you want to get Strowman over as a babyface, who better to face than the infamously hated Jake Paul? Modern day Show/Mayweather.
Towards the end of this bout, Strowman takes Paul for a ride on the outside after running him over with the Strowman Express twice and the crowd is along for the ride. He tosses the boxer back in the ring, and when he re-enters himself, the giant actually gestures to the crowd as if he is going to do the very thing he’s always hated: he’s going to do a flip. Strowman starts climbing to the top and looking like he’s setting up for a moonsault, the LA crowd is going ballistic for the ‘Mania moment they’re about to witness. But Paul recovers and kills the moment with a low blow, sending Strowman tumbling off the ropes. He makes it to his feet dazed and confused, Paul cracks him with his "wicked" right hand to the jaw and Strowman goes down. He goes down, but he kicks out at TWO! The smug Paul is stunned and enraged. He begins disrespectfully smacking the head of Strowman and talking down to him, when the monster Hulks up and strikes Paul with a right hand of his own that lays the fighter out.
A fired up Strowman lifts him for the Monster Bomb right through a table that was set up earlier on in the match. Jake Paul certainly never felt a bump like that in boxing. And Braun Strowman pins him for the three count. Huge ovation for the former Universal Champion, and just a feel good moment to kick off a huge weekend in SoFi Stadium.
Dominik Mysterio vs Rey Mysterio: Retirement Match (15 min)
Now the build for this one has been well underway for three months now and I personally have been absolutely loving it. Trading Rey to SmackDown was the perfect way to prolong this inevitable showdown until April, and the angle on Thanksgiving was just such a beautiful way to keep this story alive while Rey is out injured. Now is where I come in. The 2023 Men’s Royal Rumble starts off with none other than the beloved (wink) Dominik Mysterio. And to his huge dismay, at his father’s lucky number two, Rey Mysterio himself returns to the WWE; and in doing so, eliminates his son to a massive pop almost immediately. Rey thinks this settles everything between the two, but the following SmackDown we see Judgment Day practically invade the brand and absolutely decimate Dom’s father. The following PPV at Elimination Chamber, Judgment Day finds their way into the Chamber mid-match to screw Rey out of the Universal Title as well.
This all leads to Rey’s breaking point the following night on Raw where he says he’ll do whatever it takes to end this war with Dominik at WrestleMania, and Dominik says what it will take is putting his career on the line. And here we go.
After a quick paced lucha filled match, it is safe to say Rey carries Dominik to the best well crafted match of his career here. Because that’s what the damn GOAT does. Dominik doesn’t have Judgment Day with him here as they have their own problems to deal with (we’ll talk about that later as well). Deep into the contest, Dom has his father downed and is just laying into him with trash talk, like he’s playing with a child. Finally he says, "You were never as good as Eddie and you never will be", and this is what flips the switch. Rey finally smacks the absolute taste out of his son’s mouth. He begins just absolutely teeing off on Dominik and LA is on it’s feet; this beating is long overdue. This series of punches sends Dom tumbling into the middle rope, in prime position for an ever so beautiful 619. This sends Dominik stumbling around on his feet, when Rey flies with a springboard missile dropkick sending Dominik into the opposite middle rope.
Rey proceeds to strike with a second 619 straight to the face. This time Rey doesn’t fly however. He gets back in the ring and lifts up Dom’s face. He looks at his son and says, "I love you son, you did this to us", and he then tosses him into position for a third 619, and he connects. Rey signals for the top and does the signature Eddie Guerrero shimmy and he’s got the crowd on his side. He takes too much time to soak in the sun at the top, and when he goes to fly for the Frog Splash, Dominik manages to roll out of the way which sends him crashing to the mat. It takes Dom a moment to realize the opening he’s created, and he smugly struggles to get back to his feet to a chorus of boos. He lays his dad out with the Three Amigos to all the heat in the world, and now he climbs to the top as slow as can be, but with the smuggest smile on his face. He flies for a Frog Splash of his own, but Rey manages to get his knees up and rolls Dom into the cover for a three count.
His career isn’t going anywhere, and the Mysterio son still has a lot to learn before he can ever challenge the "Greatest Mask Of All Time" ever again.
Drew McIntyre vs Gunther(c) w/Imperium vs Sheamus w/The Brawling Brutes: Last Chance Match: Intercontinental Championship (20 min)
The build to this match is as simple as it seems. A lot of unfinished business between all three men in this battle, and three men in desperate need for a big fight victory at this year’s WrestleMania. The SmackDown after Elimination Chamber, Gunther successfully retains his title in yet another TV title defense, when he is met by "The Scottish Warrior" Drew McIntyre. McIntyre references that the only man that has ever pinned Gunther on the main roster was McIntyre himself at Survivor Series back in 2019. If anybody deserves a shot at "The Ring General" it’s him. And the champion accepts. The next week during a contract signing, they are interrupted by none other than Sheamus himself. He references his history with McIntyre and references the fact that the last time he fought for the Intercontinental Title against Gunther, the champion had to cheat to beat him.
He reminds the audience that this is the last title he needs to complete the Grand Slam, and if they allow him into this match up, he will never challenge for the IC Title again if he fails. His old buddy McIntyre is game for the fight and he accepts the addition to the match, and to Gunther’s dismay, Adam Pearce agrees as well. The triple threat is on.
This will probably be the hardest hitting and stiff match of the entire weekend, so these three men will beat absolute hell out of each other for minutes on end. At this point of the match up, both factions have been ejected from ringside, and McIntyre is laid out on the outside as he was powerbombed through the Spanish announce table by Gunther. This leaves us with a one on one showdown between the old rivals and the crowd is buzzing. The two hosses begin trading chops and brutal right hands, it’s a slugfest. Gunther begins chopping Sheamus repeatedly, rocking him down to his knees. Gunther rears back and charges looking for the same lariat he’s used to defeat him the past two times, when Sheamus catches him with a stiff pump knee to the jaw. Sheamus takes this opening to lift up the champion and plant him with the High Cross. The crowd is on it’s feet as "The Red Dragon" goes for the pinfall, but Gunther kicks out at two.
Sheamus now retreats to the corner and starts pounding his chest, signaling for the Brogue. Sheamus lays out Gunther with a beautiful Brogue Kick, and Gunther yet again just barely kicks out at two. He wastes no time, he drags Gunther into the center and locks him into a tight Cloverleaf and the stadium is rumbling. Gunther is on the verge of tapping, when McIntyre breaks the hold with a Claymore straight across the face of Sheamus. McIntyre now goes to the corner for his famous countdown, signaling for one more Claymore, on the champion this time around. He charges for the Claymore, but Gunther chops him right in the chest out of midair. Gunther waits for him to rebound to his feet, and clocks him with a devastating lariat. This strike sends McIntyre rolling out of the ring, and a desperate Gunther turns around into yet another Brogue Kick out of nowhere from Sheamus.
"Red Dragon" gets the pinfall and the three count and we have a brand new Intercontinental Champion. The big fella just hit a Grand Slam.
Damage CTRL(c) vs The Golden Role Models: Women’s Tag Team Championship (15 min)
Now I know the chance of this match going down all depends on WWE offering up enough money to lure "The Boss" back to the company. But if I am the WWE, I’d be a large damn fool to not do just that. Sasha Banks is one of the biggest stars in wrestling today, and letting her go off in the wild (probably AEW), with one of your biggest WrestleManias of all time looming would be a massive mistake. So cough up the money in time for Banks to make her long awaited return to the WWE at the number thirty spot in the women’s Royal Rumble match. In the end of said Rumble with only a few women left in the ring, she finds herself standing across the ring from her former best friend Bayley, when Damage CTRL onslaughts her from behind and eventually dumps her to the outside for the elimination. Bayley never lays a finger on her. These attacks on Banks continue over the weeks and you see the hesitation on Bayley’s face every time.
This hesitation eventually goes against her, when her own Damage CTRL protegees turn on her as well. If Bayley can’t decide whose side she’s on, then she’s only holding them back in the first place. This leads to an eventual Golden Role Models reunion we’ve all been waiting for, and the title match is on.
I want you to look at the four names involved in this match. Dakota Kai, Iyo Skye, Bayley, & Sasha Banks. This is going to be a tag team banger no matter which way you spin it. Just let these four women go out there and tear the house down and it’ll all be worth it. Towards the end of the battle, Damage CTRL has Bayley cornered and are beating the hell out of their former leader. Kai lays out Bayley with her Running Kiwi Kick in the corner, but Bayley has enough fight in her to kick out at two. A shocked Kai, drags Bayley back to her corner and tags in Skye to finish the job. Skye drags Bayley to the top and impresses with a beautiful Spanish Fly off the top, but Bayley STILL kicks out at two; they can’t keep her down. Skye feels almost insulted and proceeds to climb to the top. She flies for her Joshi Moonsault, and Bayley rolls out of the way.
She finally makes the hot tag to Banks and LA erupts. Banks rushes the ring and cracks Skye with a shining wizard which sends her out of the ring, and another running knee knocking Kai off the apron. She’s on a roll now, she flies for a suicide dive onto Kai, and then gets back in the ring and flies with a somersault plancha to wipe out Skye as well. "The Boss" takes this moment to get back in the ring and soak in the WrestleMania love she’s missed so much. But Skye breaks up the love fest with a springboard missile drop kick. She once more climbs to the top looking for her Joshi Moonsault, but this one is countered when Banks catches her out of midair right into the Bank Statement. Kai rushes the ring to attempt to break the hold, but is met with a Bayley to Belly from a re-emerging Bayley and the crowd goes crazy as Skye finally taps in the middle of the ring. The Golden Role Models are back and once again at the top of the women’s tag team division.
Beth Phoenix & Edge vs Judgment Day w/Damian Priest: Mixed Tag Team Match (20 min)
This story goes all the way back to Extreme Rules. Judgment Day wiped out both Beth Phoenix and Edge in one foul swoop. They’ve been running roughshod over WWE ever since, with the Hall Of Fame couple at home healing ever since. Now unfortunately for "The Nightmare" Rhea Ripley, she draws entry number two in the women’s Royal Rumble match. She fights her way all the way towards the end, when "The Glamazon" Beth Phoenix makes her WWE return at entry number twenty-nine. Phoenix charges the ring like a raging bull and eliminates Ripley in a flurry. This is not over. The next night on Raw, Ripley charges down to the ring with her Judgment Day boys in tow, and demands the Hall Of Famer face her at the Elimination Chamber PPV. Phoenix hits the stage and promises the faction that she did not come back alone, and that is where we get the return of the icon Edge, and the married couple storms the ring and clears house.
Ripley goes on to defeat Phoenix at the PPV, but after a cheap shot from Balor to Edge after the match, that all leads to this mixed tag showdown at WrestleMania
This whole match is just a big personal battle between the two teams. Think Angle & Rousey vs McMahon & HHH from ‘Mania 34, but even more chaotic than that. I really believe that this match on paper has the making to be a really underrated banger on this WrestleMania card. Later into the bout, Edge spears Balor through the barricade. We are left with a showdown between Phoenix and Ripley alone in the ring. They start trading pretty hefty blows, beating the hell out of each other. Ripley cracks her with a headbutt and attempts to connect with a Riptide, but Phoenix maneuvers out of it and manages to counter it into a thunderous Glam Slam. But at the count of two, the vile Damian Priest at ringside pulls the referee out of the ring. An enraged Phoenix challenges Priest to meet her in the ring, and smugly, he obliges. He enters the ring, practically laughing in her face, when "The Glamazon" literally military presses this man over her head and sends him crashing to the mat; this is a damn ‘Mania moment.
Phoenix, distracted, turns right into a Riptide from Ripley, but at the count of two she manages to get the rope break. This sends Ripley over the edge (no pun intended), she exits the ring to retrieve two steel chairs, clearly not caring about the potential disqualification. She sets Phoenix in position for another con-chair-to, when Edge strikes out of nowhere with a Spear straight through Ripley herself. What a moment. Edge drags his wife to the corner and tags himself back in; this forces Balor to be the legal man for Judgment Day. Balor stumbles into the ring and gets cut in half by a Spear from Phoenix this time. Edge with a smile from ear to ear, scoops him back up and plants him with a Glam Slam of his own. One, two, three, and the married pair of HOFers finally get their vengeance. A feel good victory in LA.
Bobby Lashley vs Brock Lesnar: Hell in a Cell Match (20 min)
Another match that’s got a beautiful long story already playing out. One of the absolute best parts of Triple H’s regime over WWE has been his ability to tell drawn out stories that are clearly building to the big stage. Something that I think should be acknowledged and praised. And the story of Lashley/Lesnar is one of them. At the Royal Rumble PPV, we get Austin Theory defending his United States Title against "The Beast", when Bobby Lashley emerges from the back to screw his rival out of winning this title for the first time. Lesnar then interferes in the Royal Rumble match as not even a legal competitor, just to humiliate and eliminate Lashley. Both men enter the Chamber match for the Universal Title, and they eliminate each other in that match as well. No matter where they try to turn, they always come back to this rivalry. The only way to end this thing is at WrestleMania, inside Hell in a Cell.
The first Cell match at WrestleMania in six years, and who better to step inside than "The All Mighty" and "The Beast".
We are DEEP into this war and both men are showing the marks of combat. If we’re going to blade in any match, this is the one. F-ck it. Both men are bloodied. Lesnar’s on his last legs when Lashley Spears him straight through a table in the corner, but Lesnar just barely kicks out at two. Lashley does not hesitate to lock in the Hurt Lock on "The Beast". Much like Crown Jewel, Lesnar uses the corner to force his weight onto Lashley and push him into pinning position, but Lashley was prepared this time around and releases the hold to break the pin. An exhausted Lashley takes a moment to regroup, but walks right into a quick F5 from Lesnar. But this time, Lashley kicks out at two. Lesnar rolls out of the ring in disbelief, but before he can even take a breath, Lashley spears him straight through the wall of the Cell. The two men spill over to the outside, and Lesnar eventually powers up Lashley for an F5 through the announce table.
He drags "The All Mighty" back into the ring, but it takes him a long damn time to transport the heavyweight all that way. When Lesnar finally gets back in the ring, he walks into a surprising F5 from Lashley this time around, right onto the steel steps. "The Beast" refuses to stay down out of pure instinct, as he rises on spaghetti legs, and is set right back down with a Spear. Lashley doesn’t even go for the pinfall, but locks the downed beast into a Hurt Lock once more. After mere seconds, the referee declares Lesnar unconscious, and Bobby Lashley finally wins the war once and for all. Let's go. A WrestleMania classic if you ask me.
The Rock vs Roman Reigns(c) w/Paul Heyman: Universal Championship (25 min)
Holy SH-T! We’re finally doing this. A dream match speculated over for almost a decade at this point. It finally comes to light. Now there is a number of things to explain here. Firstly, why this match isn’t the main event of either night. Secondly, why is it only the Universal Title on the line, rather than both of Reigns’ titles? To answer the first question, now that ‘Mania is a two night affair, and now that there are two Royal Rumble winners every year, those two winners should be the two main events of WrestleMania every year. When that isn’t the case, it almost defeats the entire purpose of the Rumble for me. So that is exactly what is happening here. And let’s be honest, in 2023, The Rock winning the Rumble just feels plain wrong when you’ve got an entire full time roster of talent waiting right there. So the actual winner of the men’s Rumble (we’ll get there on Night Two), makes the decision that he’s only interested in winning the WWE Title at WrestleMania for personal reasons I’ll explain when we get to that match.
He’s not interested in being the man on Friday nights, he wants to hold the main prize he’s been hunting his whole career and holding down the flagship show on Monday nights. This leaves Reigns thinking his historic reign as Universal Champion will get a free pass at ‘Mania, until Adam Pearce comes into play. He announces that Reigns will be defending his title in the Elimination Chamber so there will be a high chance that we have two world champions going into the grandest stage. Reigns however retains again against five other men, but isn’t left with much time to celebrate when The Rock finally makes his return in Montreal to a thunderous reaction as he lays Reigns out with a Rock Bottom. Now we will be getting two world title matches at WrestleMania, but "The Tribal Chief" is simply going to have to pull double duty. And the rule is set that The Bloodline will be banned from ringside for BOTH of his championship defenses.
The story is that if Reigns wants to continue to hold both brands hostage, then he has to truly earn it.
This is the kind of WrestleMania match that will go down in history with the likes of big fights like Andre/Hogan, Hogan/Rock, and Cena/Rock. The kind of feel that they always wanted Lesnar/Reigns to have at WrestleMania, but it was just lacking something. This has it all. The talent, the story, the fan interest. Let’s go. And telling a story in the ring is exactly what these two do. In the end, Reigns has his cousin down while he perches in the corner and lets out his signature roar. He charges for the Spear, but Rock catches him with a quick penalty kick and plants him with a snap DDT. It looks for a brief moment that Rock will be setting up for the People’s Elbow, when we see a bit of a lightbulb go off. He retreats to the corner, and mocks Reigns as only The Rock can, and lets out a roar of his own. As a former player of the CFL, he charges for his own Spear, but runs right into the Tribal Guillotine from Reigns and the crowd is electric for this back and forth.
Reigns really seems to be wearing the legend down with this hold as he seems to be going limp. Rock goes down to a knee, and then another, and it seems that the end is imminent. Until it isn’t. He begins to power up, he slowly gets back to his feet while Reigns still has the hold locked in, Rock is carrying him with him. Rock manages to break the hold with his Electrifying Spinebuster and LA comes unglued. This always sets up The Rock for only one possible move; the most electrifying move in all of Sports Entertainment. The elbow pad comes off, and "The People’s Champion" connects with the People’s Elbow and the crowd is absolutely rumbling as he goes for the pinfall, but the champion manages to kick out at two. Rock wastes no time however as he immediately gets back up and lays in wait for his next strike. Reigns wobbles to his feet and turns directly into a picture perfect Rock Bottom.
Rock knows the importance of this match however and he lifts Reigns up once more for a second Rock Bottom. He goes for the cover, but he can sense where it’s going, and at the count of one Rock actually breaks the pin himself. We see a sort of fire and derange in his eyes that we’ve never seen before. He lifts Reigns once again, and sets him right back down with a third and final Rock Bottom. The challenger goes for the cover, and at the count of two for the first time in Reigns’ entire title reign, Paul Heyman enters the ring and dives onto the referee to break the pin to a thunderous reaction of boos. He immediately regrets his decision as he stares into the eyes of The Rock, who gets up and grabs Heyman by the throat and just punches the daylights out of him. Rock begins teeing off on Heyman and once he’s off his feet, stomping the hell out of him as well.
He kicks Heyman out of the ring, and goes back to Reigns to finish the job. He takes off his second elbow pad, throws it into the crowd, and runs the ropes to attempt one more People’s Elbow, but runs right into Reigns’ own version of the Rock Bottom (shades of Cena/Rock I). An exhausted and desperate Reigns retreats to the corner staring bullets through Rock. He skips his usual roar and waits for his cousin to get back on his feet and then runs right through him with a Spear. And just like that, he gets the three count. Not even one of the greatest of all time could end the era of "The Tribal Chief", as he now walks into Night Two STILL a double champion. You can see that Reigns is visibly shaken however as he is not comfortable with how close to defeat he just came. A defeated Rock pulls himself to his feet and the two cousins share an emotional staredown as the music dies down.
They share an emotional hug to a standing ovation, when Reigns shatters this family moment by dropping to a knee and punching DJ directly in the balls. He locks him in the Tribal Guillotine yet again and this time doesn’t let go until his cousin is knocked out. The champion does not let go until several referees and officials have to literally tear him off the fallen legend. The longest reigning Universal Champion of all time marches up the ramp with fire in his eyes as Heyman follows suit with pure fear in his. A damn family soap opera in a wrestling ring.
Becky Lynch vs Ronda Rousey(c): Last Woman Standing Match: SmackDown Women’s Championship (20 min)
Listen, I know you all hate Ronda Rousey. I absolutely understand it. She’s even losing me a little bit and I used to love this woman back in the day. But, come on now. Let’s be real here. If there is literally only one match to bring Ronda Rousey back for in the WWE, it’s in the main event of WrestleMania against Becky Lynch. That’s it. Not even sure there is much more for me to say. You can’t sit here and say this doesn’t still intrigue you in the slightest. This match is four years in the making. We were all fiending for it at WrestleMania 35, and I promise you, done right? We’ll be fiending for it again. Lynch enters the Rumble at number one and she wins the whole damn thing. Boom. "The Man" is back better than ever. She respects Bianca Belair too much to challenge her yet again, she wants to take down the woman she never got to fight one on one: "The Baddest Woman On The Planet".
There is also no Shayna Baszler involved in this match as they break up and fight for the title at Elimination Chamber, and Rousey defeats her soundly. Rousey’s whole gripe with Lynch is that in their triple threat match at ‘Mania 35, Rousey’s shoulder was up clear as day in that finishing pinfall. And that’s where the stipulation of Last Woman Standing comes into play. No pinfall, no submission, only one woman walks out of this match. This is a FIGHT. And a dream one at that. Let’s f-cking ride.
Now just imagine these two women beating the piss out of each other for twenty minutes. I want you to think about Lynch/Flair at Evolution ‘18 (one of the greatest matches of all time) and I want you to think about Flair/Rousey at Backlash ‘22 (a full f-cking banger), and now I want you to combine the brutality of both of them. That’s the kind of match we’re getting right here. The exact fight that we wanted four years ago. happening finally in SoFi Stadium. We’re deep into the brawl, let’s set the stage. Two tables set up side by side at ringside on the ramp side, a ladder bridge set up between the ring and the barricade on another side of the ring, and Lynch and Rousey are battling currently in the ring. Rousey has the challenger on her shoulders in position for the Piper’s Pit. Yet much like ‘Mania 35, Lynch counters the maneuver with a crucifix, knowing she can’t win by pinfall in this current bout, but only to play mindgames with the champ.
She holds her in the pin position for three seconds as the crowd counts along, and she lets her go and struts around the ring laughing. She humiliated Rousey yet again who doesn’t take too well to "The Man’s" games and she charges across the ring and lays her out with her step up high knee to the jaw. Rousey is ready to finish this thing now as she drags the challenger to the ring apron. She hoists her up to her shoulders yet again, and this time connects with the Piper’s Pit off the apron, straight through the ladder bridge down below in a brutal spot. The champion struggles to her feet and begins marching around the ring talking her usual sh-t as she thinks she has this in the bag. But at the count of nine, Lynch uses the barricade to pull her to her feet to break the count and immediately collapses back down. This straight insults Rousey. She stomps her way back to Lynch to finish this thing off, but when she gets there she gets surprised by Lynch who has pulled a sledgehammer from under the ring and cracks Rousey in the jaw which just knocks her ass out like a light.
A quick nod to Triple H, one of Rousey’s original WrestleMania opponents, and it has knocked this chick’s lights out. Lynch gets her bearings together and drags her rival onto the two tables at ringside, and just tees off on her with forearms for good measure. This isn’t extreme enough for her however. She retrieves yet another ladder from under the ring and sets it up inside. She climbs to the top of the ladder with the stadium buzzing, and she leaps from the ladder on the inside of the ring, to the outside onto Rousey, through two freaking tables. Both women are laid out as Los Angeles is losing it’s freaking mind. At the count of nine, Lynch fights her way out of the rubble onto her feet, but champion Rousey just can’t make that count of ten. "The Man" is once again back on top. Becky Lynch has finally saved the SmackDown women’s division. The classic match we’ve been waiting for, for years, and Ronda Rousey’s send off from the WWE.
Night One of WrestleMania 39 closes with pyro flying everywhere in SoFi Stadium and Lynch holding her title high at the top of a ladder. "The Man" is back in town.
Vote on the poll below!
Thank you so much for reading! Leave your thoughts in the comment section below and stay tuned for Night Two!