WWE WrestleMania 38 Review: Ranking the Matches From Night 2
Following a highly successful first night at AT&T Stadium on Saturday, WWE was back at it on Sunday for Night 2 of WrestleMania 38. But the second night just couldn’t live up to the first. For one, there simply weren’t as many high-profile matches on the card. And secondly, as I kind of expected would happen, the main event of the evening featuring Roman Reigns and Brock Lesnar simply couldn’t live up to the hype.
But the night wasn’t without its bright spots. Again, there just weren’t as many as there were on Saturday, and I wouldn’t put any match from Night 2 in the “great” category. But let’s get to our ranking of WrestleMania Sunday anyway.
8. Sheamus & Ridge Holland def. The New Day
This tag match featuring The New Day squaring off with Sheamus & Ridge Holland was cut from Night 1 and might as well have been cut from Night 2. These four literally got about two minutes to work, which is about half the time The Undertaker just stood there on stage for a second straight night. This served no purpose.
7. Johnny Knoxville def. Sami Zayn (Anything Goes Match)
Go ahead and call me a wrestling snob if you like, but this match has no place at WrestleMania. Yes, I understand the mainstream attention it brings. I really do. But do this at a lesser PPV that needs attention. Not at The Showcase of the Immortals. Not on a card that doesn’t have Ricochet defending the Intercontinental Championship or Finn Balor defending the United States Championship.
Were parts of this match fun? Sure. And I give credit to Knoxville for stepping into a WWE ring. But, again, do this somewhere else. Just imagine the conversation between Sami Zayn and his real-life bestie Kevin Owens when comparing WrestleMania 38 stories.
You know, because KO closed out Night 1 with Stone Cold Steve Austin, and Zayn was pinned by Johnny Knoxville under a human-sized mousetrap.
6. Bobby Lashley def. Omos
Honestly, I expected this matchup between Bobby Lashley and Omos to be the worst match of Night 2 of WrestleMania 38. And it’s not as if this was any kind of instant classic, but it was better than I thought.
Omos looked about as good as he possibly can, given his size and limited mobility. And Lashley made the big man look good, taking some nice bumps and feeding into the classic monster heel psychology. Again, this won’t go down as a technical classic, but it at least served a purpose.
5. Roman Reigns def. Brock Lesnar to become Undisputed WWE Universal Champion
That’s right. Roman Reigns defeating Brock Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania 38 to become the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion (at least that’s what WWE.com is calling him now — not the WWE Champion) doesn’t even make the top half of the Sunday night rankings. The match simply didn’t deserve it.
As we’ve seen this Reigns-Lesnar bout several times before, I was just hoping we’d get something new out of these two. But we didn’t. Suplexes. Spears. Superman Punches. F-5s. Yeah, I know those are their big things, but it all felt so bland and uneventful. The false finishes lacked any kind of drama, and the actual finish — surprise, a spear — was rushed.
And for those keeping track, the title unification match — the so-called biggest main event in WrestleMania history — was more than two minutes shorter than Johnny Knoxville vs. Sami Zayn.
4. Pat McAfee def. Austin Theory, Vince McMahon def. Pat McAfee
So I’m just going to go ahead and wrap this whole Pat McAfee-Austin Theory-Vince McMahon thing into one spot. But if I were to rank the McMahon-McAfee match on its own, it would be last as it was completely unnecessary and took away from McAfee’s performance against Theory, which was quite impressive.
I knew McAfee was a good athlete, but I don’t think I knew just how good. The jump from the mat to the top rope was incredible. The superplex was solid. And I’m always a sucker for a schoolboy pin. He’d been waiting for this WrestleMania moment his whole life, and he was ready for it. And so was the live crowd at AT&T Stadium. Man, they were hot for this bout, weren’t they?
Again, the McAfee-McMahon match that followed wasn’t necessary. I understand they were trying to get to the Austin-McMahon moment, but a simple beatdown, not an actual bout, would’ve sufficed. Now, as for that Stone Cold-Vince moment, it was incredible and a great throwback on a weekend featuring Austin’s last match. But that Stunner to McMahon, if we can even call it that, was tough to watch.
But I can’t say the same for the one Theory took a few minutes earlier, as that was freaking glorious.
That’s a Rock-level sell right there. It’ll be interesting to see where things go with Theory from here. The kid’s obviously got a ton of talent, but he’s had the luxury of standing alongside Vince for the build to WrestleMania. Now we might have to see how he fares on his own.
3. Sasha Banks & Naomi def. Carmella & Queen Zelina, Natalya & Shayna Baszler, and Rhea Ripley & Liv Morgan to become WWE Women’s Tag Team Champions
I still haven’t quite figured out why WWE decided to put both women’s world title matches on Saturday night, but that’s obviously not my choice to make. Thus, we got just one women’s match on Sunday, and it was another good one.
These eight women got about 11 minutes to work, and they took advantage of every single one of them. We saw plenty of fun spots throughout, highlighted by the simultaneous Towers of Doom from Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan, who’ve proven themselves to be a much more fun team than I could have imagined. And that moonsault from Queen Zelina to Ripley on the outside was also excellent.
In the end, it was Sasha Banks & Naomi taking home the gold after a fun finisher that combined their signature maneuvers. This bout had great structure and kept the crowd engaged the whole way through.
2. RK-Bro def. The Street Profits and Alpha Academy to retain the RAW Tag Team Championship
This Triple Threat bout for the RAW tag titles was the perfect way to open the second night of WrestleMania 38. Given the six incredible athletes in the match, we knew the pace would be frantic and that we’d see several fantastic spots. And that’s exactly what happened.
The rules were a little confusing to start as it really wasn’t explained that it was a tornado-style match, but the rules went out the window anyway, so it didn’t even matter. All six men looked great, but the finish was really never in doubt as it was expected Randy Orton and Riddle would retain, which they did following a great double-RKO spot.
And then we got a little bonus with Gable Steveson tossing Chad Gable around a little bit.
One has to wonder how quickly WWE’s newest gold medalist will be brought along.
1. Edge def. AJ Styles
Okay, so the finish to the highly anticipated Edge-AJ Styles clash (yep, pun intended) at WrestleMania 38 left a bit to be desired. But the 25 minutes getting there were pretty solid. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t put this into the “great” category, which pains me as I genuinely thought this would be an all-time classic, but it was still a good match and the best of the night. At least in my humble opinion.
Things got off to a bit of a weird start as Styles was already bleeding during his entrance. As it turns out, he clipped his face on the WrestleMania sign, so that was the reason for that.
This was a good back-and-forth bout with both legends telling a great story. Styles sold the injured shoulder very well, and it played nicely into the psychology of the match. There were some excellent spots here, specifically the suplex onto the apron, which can go horribly wrong if you botch it even a little bit. But as one would expect from these two, it went off without a hitch.
And how about Edge, a guy who missed nine years of his career with a neck injury, taking this bump?
Again, this one never quite got to the level I think we were all hoping and expecting it would. And Damian Priest distracting Styles to allow Edge to pick up the victory wasn’t ideal. But as Edge is starting a new stable involving Priest, it makes sense.