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WrestleMania 39 recap & reactions (Night two): Roman Reigns is inevitable

WWE’s Thanos shocks the world, Edge splits The Demon’s wig, and Bianca Belair & Asuka do what they do best during a stunning WrestleMania Night two.

The Fighter

I thought this story was about Roman Reigns seeing his kingdom crumble before his eyes. Or Cody Rhodes achieving something his legendary father never accomplished. I figured WWE penned a tale with both plot points co-existing, along with The Bloodline seeing its fortunes change over the course of two days in the City of Angels.

Everything set up for that. The ref ejected Solo Sikoa after the Street Champ tried his usual tricks one too many times and got caught. Jimmy & Jey Uso no showed leaving Roman all alone. Cody kicked out of a Superman Punch, a Spear, and broke the Guillotine! No one gets out of the Guillotine but Cody found a way out where others failed. That felt like a microcosm for a larger story and a Cody W.

Then we a ref bump, followed by the Usos coming out of hiding and helping their cousin one more time until Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens stopped their shenanigans. WWE even sweetened the story when KO hit Reigns with a Stunner and Sami delivered a well-deserved and so necessary Helluva Kick. Everything I know about wrestling and everything I know about storytelling pointed in one giant direction.

But that’s nothing compared to what happened after all that: Cody hit Dusty Rhodes’ patented Bionic Elbow, complete with Dusty’s shimmy. I mean, what more do we need? Cody, realizing one Cross Rhodes won’t cut it after Roman kicked out from that earlier in the match, went for the hat trick. He finished one with fury on his face and fire in his eyes. He went for the second and everything seemed academic. Then he went for the third and backed into the corner as Paul Heyman distracted the ref. At this moment, I smelt something funny. And then it hit me—not as hard as it hit Cody—SOLO!

I forgot about Solo just like Cody did because of all the emotion. I bathed myself in the moment, much like Cody, and ignored the fact that the youngest Uce still ran free. Solo crept to the ring in all black, delivered a Samoan Spike, and Roman finished it off with another Spear.

Against all odds, logic, and momentum, Roman Reigns left Cali with both titles in hand. Heyman didn’t turn in his Wiseman card for an Advocate hat, Solo enforced like he always does, and everyone went home stunned.

While I’m sure these comment sections and others like it will roar for days about this decision. They positioned two babyfaces with enough heat and credibility who might finally burn everything on the Island of Relevancy. Sami walked so Cody could run but no one saw him running into a brick wall. They built Cody as Roman’s equal, and this match’s finish doesn’t refute that one bit. They made him Roman’s antithesis and the one person with enough power to not only stand nose to nose with the Tribal Chief, but bloody that nose and end this reign of terror. And yet, here we are. The status quo remains mostly unchanged and Roman’s dominance remains the story.

Now, while those pianos played during Roman’s intro, I told anyone within earshot that I kinda don’t want him to lose. While Reigns isn’t my favorite wrestler at the moment, he’s definitely in my top five. And there’s something special about his matches and every moment surrounding him. There’s an aura he has that no one else on the roster comes close to right now. But when the bell went ding ding and reality hit, I felt shocked. Like I said, everything pointed in one direction and then it didn’t happen. Roman billed this match as “the wrestler vs. the fighter” and the wrestler looked like the next champion. In fact, I give WWE props for finally building up someone not named Brock Lesnar as a credible challenger to Roman’s throne.

That said, this one feels weird. I’m not saying it’s the wrong decision but I’m not saying it’s the right one either. Even with all that storytelling during the match, WWE put a lot into The Bloodline. Destroying them in one weekend does feel hasty when we now have a Bloodline with Jimmy & Jey failing not once but twice in consecutive days. Solo proved his worth while his brothers dropped the ball. There’s a story there.

Cody didn’t get the job done. What happens now? I spent so much brain power processing Cody as champ that I never wondered how he handles not only his first loss but a very big one at that. There’s a ton of story there. And his eventual path back to the championship comes with its own twists and turns as well.

The Bloodline won’t last forever and neither will Reigns’ run. While I talked myself into one side of the “right or wrong” equation, I still believe watching it play out makes the most sense. There’s enough goodwill and thoughtfulness with this entire saga that everyone involved earned my benefit of the doubt.

The fighter one and defied expectations once again. The fact that I, like many wrestling fans, reacted so emotionally to this match says so much about everyone involved. We care and that’s the most important part of making this whole wrestling thing work.


Speed Racer

The build for Bianca Belair vs. Asuka didn’t exactly set the world on fire. For weeks, I said both women deserved a whole lot better because they’re two of the best. Why not give their championship match all the pomp and circumstance we know WWE loses in couch cushions.

But everything that came before didn’t stop Bianca and Asuka from absolutely killing it. They wrestled stiff and got into a fight. Not as much of a fight as the Intercontinental triple threat, but still a very worthy successor. They told the story of Asuka’s speed vs. Bianca’s raw power. Bianca used that power almost immediately and tried ending the match very early. Almost like she worried the longer the match went, the more dangerous Asuka became.

And maybe there’s something to that logic because Asuka countered a few of Bianca’s trademark moves with her speed and quickness. She turned Bianca’s spring backflip into a submission hold not once but twice. The fact Bianca went for the move a second time after Asuka countered on her first go round showed her stubbornness but also that desperation to finish this thing as soon as possible. That little moment signified the big difference between the two women: Bianca’s urgency next to Asuka’s relative calm.

I say relative because the third act saw them flip sides. Asuka maneuvered out of a KOD and her momentum pushed Bianca into the ref. Thankfully, no ref bump but the ref turned her back on the action for a bit. Asuka, now the desperate one, sprayed blue mist but Bianca ducked. Bianca went for another KOD but Asuka, using that quickness, countered into an arm bar. And then one of the most amazing things I’ve seen in a wrestling ring happened: Bianca squatted Asuka from her knees. If I’m not explaining it well, hopefully the video does the job but Bianca, from a kneeling position, hoisted another grown human being on her shoulders. One KOD later, the champ remains the champ.

Fantastic match! One of Bianca’s best title defenses and Asuka’s best match in WWE in a long time. Bianca needs new challengers on Raw though because there’s kinda no one else left. Hopefully we get some NXT call-ups or a surprise return or two.

Oh, and let me mention the Divas of Compton. Those young ladies showed up and showed out. I let out an audible “aww” watching them dance to Bianca’s theme and then dance with her when she hit the stage.


Surprisingly, I enjoyed Brock Lesnar vs. Omos. They kept it short enough that it never overstayed its welcome, and watching Omos manhandle Brock for most of the affair proved entertaining. Seriously, Brock sells beautifully and watching him vulnerable for that long made everything worthwhile. Plus? Brock F5’d Omos. I mean, that’s no easy feat. And it’s more impressive considering the context in which Omos worked on Brock’s back the entire match.

Consider me sports entertained.

Working Girl

Well, that was certainly a thing that happened. The Women’s Showcase between Ronda Rousey & Shayna Baszler, Liv Morgan & Raquel Rodriguez, Natalya & Shotzi, and last but certainly not least, Chelsea Green & Sonya Deville, actually worked really well for a while. It didn’t get the most time, but the women did their thing with the time they got. But that lack of time makes the ending leave the sourest taste in my mouth. Ronda came into the match injured, so she and Shayna basically did the least. And by the least, I mean kinda nothing. And yet...Ronda got the W for her team. Shayna’s footwear gave her an issue so maybe that played into the ending too, but Ronda did nothing, came into the ring, soaked up the boos, and submitted Shotzi.

That’s it. No thanks.

Three the Hard Way

No wrestling here. GUNTHER, Drew McIntyre, and Sheamus gave us a fight. This type of thing raises everyone’s profile, along with the Intercontinental championship. All three got their own moment: Sheamus almost went for 30 Beats of the Bodhran on Drew. Drew joined in Sheamus’ initial 10 Beats and showed his usual resilience. And GUNTHER? Well, GUNTHER Powerbomed Sheamus on top of Drew then Powerbombed Drew. All of that in rapid succession and in the blink of an eye.

This was Meaty Men Slapping All of the Meat. Brutal, unflinching, violence. And I loved every moment of a match not for the faint of heart.

If you missed it, watch it now.

The Exorcist III

Despite the hiccup around the midway point when Edge busted open The Demon with a ladder, this match really delivered. Grant it, the violence can only go but so far these days given the PG restrictions, and the fact a major studio film starring Russell Crowe sponsored the match. Stopping the match for Finn’s blood loss—and it was a lot of blood because blood splatters littered the ring—while weird, didn’t hurt the match. And that’s a testament to Edge and Finn Balor because two people with less experience probably don’t handle that situation as well.

Ultimately, Finn redeemed The Demon persona after whatever that was the last time we saw him. Edge got the necessary W, Finn actually looked tougher after the injury and the big moves he sustained from Edge. Fittingly, the move that ended Edge is the same move that put Beth Phoenix on the shelf: a concerto.

Plus, with Finn’s head injury, him not surviving that makes a lot of sense.

Old School

First off, I hope Shane McMahon is okay. We got Snoop Dogg and Miz again. This time, Snoop called out Shane for a match with Miz and then things took a turn. Shane went down like a ton of bricks on a non-contact injury. Which probably means that was the last time we see Shane in a wrestling ring. That it happens at what might be the last WrestleMania of the McMahon era owning WWE is tragically ironic.

But, on the plus side, Snoop and Miz called a perfect audible. Snoop took Shane’s place, decked Miz, hit the Doggfather Elbow, or the C-Walk Elbow, and walked out victorious and the one member in his family with a WrestleMania victory. That’s crazy right?

What a main event. Cody and Roman wrestled a match that history might deem one of the greatest of all time. I’m no historian so I won’t go that far but I will say it elevated a pretty good night into something great.

Grade: A

I know tensions are high on this one so my only ask, cagesiders, is that you keep it clean and respectful in the comments. I said my peace, now it’s time to say yours.

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