History was made on Night 1 of WrestleMania 37.
Bianca Belair defeated Sasha Banks to become the “WWE SmackDown” women’s champion in an instant classic that featured, for the first time, two African-American women in the main event of WWE’s annual “Showcase of the Immortals.”
WrestleMania returned to an open outdoor venue a year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced WrestleMania 36 to take place on a closed set with no fans.
And it was only right that fans were in attendance to see a fantastic match that will be talked about for years to come.
MORE: The top 10 WrestleMania feuds of all time, ranked
But that wasn’t all.
Latin rap star Bad Bunny was stellar in his first pro wrestling match as he teamed up with Damian Preist to defeat The Miz and John Morrison.
There were significant highs and only a few lows on Night 1, which means that the bar is extraordinarily high for Night 2.
Here’s how it all went down.
MORE: How to watch WrestleMania on Peacock
WrestleMania 37 Night 1 match grades
Bobby Lashley (c) def. Drew McIntyre to retain the WWE championship
McIntyre has really bad luck.
Last year, the “Scottish Psychopath” won the title with no fans in attendance due to the pandemic. It felt as if this year would be McIntyre’s crowing moment. And then there was a 40-minute rain delay that caused the match to start late. And then Lashley defeated McIntyre clean in a solid, yet unspectacular, match.
It was your typical juggernaut slugfest between two Superstars who have been pretty well protected over the past six months. It plodded early and it wasn’t necessarily the kind of match with which to open WrestleMania. Things finally began to pick up in the final third when Lashley countered a Claymore Kick with a chokeslam but McIntyre sprung to his feet. A trio of Future Shock DDTs from McIntyre couldn’t keep Lashley down.
McIntyre set up for another Claymore Kick but Lashley rolled to the outside. This led to McIntyre taking to the skies and hitting a tope suicida. Lashley regained control and sought to sink in the Hurt Lock but McIntyre escaped and slapped in a kimura submission. Lashley would escape and McIntyre once again set up for his finisher. In what was a strange sight, MVP yelled and distracted McIntyre, which caused him to miss the Claymore. Lashley sank in the Hurt Lock and McIntyre tried to power out but succumbed to the power of the champion.
These two have given us more hard-hitting matches outside WWE and this one didn’t live up to the potential they showed in the past. It’s not necessarily a bad idea to have Lashley retain, though, because he keeps the title scene fresh.
Natalya & Tamina win the Tag Team Turmoil match
This match never really had a chance.
The women’s tag team division has been an absolute mess with singles wrestlers being thrown into tag teams with no rhyme or reason. And with Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax being pretty dominant, it would have been nice to see a team with a little momentum get the win so we could at least think they have a chance to upend the champions on Night 2.
Instead, we got the newly formed team of Natalya and Tamina, who have done next to nothing for the past year, picking up the victory.
It’s not as if the women didn’t work hard, but this match had nothing going for it. Naomi and Lana were inexplicably eliminated by the makeshift team of Billie Kay and Carmella. The Riott Squad, the only actual long-tenured tag team in the match, eliminated Billie Kay and Carmella. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke actually looked like a tag team with their matching gear but were also sent packing by a Liv Morgan rollup.
Natalya, who has seemingly tagged with every woman who has ever competed in WWE, was teamed with Tamina. They took control early and hit a Hart Attack followed by Tamina hitting a Superfly splash for the pin.
No drama and the match went a lot longer than it should have. These women deserved better.
Cesaro def. Seth Rollins
Look, nobody will disagree with you that it was stupid that the story of this match was Rollins being upset at being swung around by Cesaro. But these two are incredibly talented and Cesaro was long overdue for his first singles match at WrestleMania.
Nobody is going to remember the story but everyone should remember the match. It was given the time necessary to deliver and ended up being the excellent showdown that Cesaro deserved. Also, a ton of credit to Rollins, who has had more than his fair share of WrestleMania moments but made sure to give the fans a noteworthy performance.
The early story of the match was Cesaro trying to wear down Rollins for the Giant Swing but Rollins seeking to work over Cesaro’s arm to prevent it. Cesaro eventually swung Rollins but needed to stop because of the injured arm.
Rollins pulled off an incredible 360-degree corkscrew frog splash and that’s when this match really picked up.
Cesaro reversed a ripcord knee and hit the Neutralizer for a near fall. Rollins countered a second Neutralizer for a Pedigree but couldn’t keep Cesaro down. Cesaro countered a Curb Stomp with an uppercut and completed an armless airplane spin and put Rollins in the spin cycle with a Giant Swing that had 23 rotations.
One last Neutralizer and Cesaro picked up the win. It had been a long time coming for Cesaro, who wore his emotion all over his face. Here’s hoping this is a sign of things to come as Cesaro is one of the best pound-for-pound talents in WWE.
AJ Styles & Omos def. The New Day for the ‘WWE Raw’ tag team championships
This match was about two things: Omos having his in-ring debut and Styles becoming a Grand Slam champion.
That’s it. And that’s fine because it was fun.
Omos wearing a vest, dress shoes and slacks for his ring gear was a sight to see. Even more interesting was the decision to have Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston play as the heels by keeping Styles from tagging in his giant. The New Day played it well by teasing and mocking their opponents until Woods made a critical error that allowed Styles to get the tag to his gigantic bodyguard/partner.
Omos, all of 7-3, simply obliterated Woods and Kingston in the most entertaining way imaginable.
Styles jumped off Omos’ shoulders for a Phenomenal Forearm that took out Woods, and then Omos finished the job with a two-handed chokeslam on Kingston. Omos used one foot to pin Kingston, and we had new tag team champions.
The New Day knew what the assignment was and handled it well to get the big guy over. I have no idea what WWE should do with Styles and Omos moving forward but this was a fun way to introduce the giant.
Braun Strowman def. Shane McMahon in a steel cage match
Any WrestleMania match with Shane McMahon is simply an excuse for him to jump or fall off something tall. As a spectacle, it works. As a match, it has reached the point of exhaustion and become totally unnecessary. To make matters worse, the narrative behind this steel cage match was that Strowman was upset because McMahon called him stupid.
Yup. That’s the story. Straight out of third grade.
But we’re not grading stories, we are grading matches. And this match was just OK. Strowman was absolutely ripped and it was almost insulting to even consider that McMahon had a chance. But, for whatever reason, Shane-O-Mac is always booked as some kind of world-beater who can overcome any opponent. Elias and Jaxson Ryker tried to help Shane by attacking Strowman but that went nowhere. Shane got the upper hand with his usual assortment of terrible punches and a coast-to-coast.
McMahon got in some more offense and attempted to make his escape. But Strowman reached through the cage and pulled Shane back in. That was actually kind of cool.
Strowman tossed Shane off the top of the cage, hit the running power slam and picked up the victory. It wasn’t terribly offensive and was simply built for the highlight reel. One can only hope this is the last time we see Shane McMahon get prime real estate at WrestleMania.
Bad Bunny & Damian Priest def. The Miz & John Morrison
This match was much better than it had any business being, but it was also a testament to Bad Bunny’s commitment to pro wrestling.
Of course, the music superstar received an incredible entrance, coming in atop an 18-wheeler and amid a ridiculous amount of pyro. But there was still a match to be had and Bad Bunny proved to the world that he was ready for the moment.
The “I Like It” rapper showed off impressive grappling in the early going, which suggests that he wasn’t here to collect a check. He hit a beautifully executed flying head scissors. Even his punches looked better than those of other pro wrestlers. But it also has to be said that The Miz and Morrison helped get Bad Bunny over by selling every single bit of offense.
After some extensive time in the ring, Bunny got the hot tag to Priest, who cleaned house. But that wasn’t the last we’d see of Bad Bunny, who was immediately tagged back in as he and Priest hit stereo falcon arrows and Bunny nailed a dive on his opponents outside the ring.
But The Miz sneaked in a Skullcrushing Finale and nearly had the pin until Bunny broke it up. There was a back-and-forth battle until Bunny shocked everyone with a Canadian Destroyer to Morrison on the outside, made his way to the top turnbuckle, where Priest had Miz up on his shoulders, and hit a flying crossbody destroyer for the pin.
This was fantastic and I wouldn’t mind seeing Bad Bunny back in a WWE ring. This was quite possibly the best non-athlete debut in WWE history.
Bianca Belair def. Sasha Banks for the ‘WWE SmackDown’ women’s championship
This was absolutely perfect and an instant classic.
A historic main event, two African-American headlining WrestleMania for the first time, delivered emotionally and physically and left us with a phenomenal moment.
It was obvious from the time they were being introduced that we were in for something special. Belair was overcome with emotion and nearly brought to tears. She shook that off and then put on a clinic with Banks as the seasoned veteran tried everything she could to overcome the ultra-talented powerhouse.
Everything had a counter and both women emptied their toolboxes of moves during the match, constantly leaving us in awe.
In a phenomenal sequence, Banks dove to the outside and Belair caught her, rolled with the motion, gorilla pressed Banks and walked her back into the ring. Banks sought to outsmart her opponent and used Belair’s ponytail against her and assaulted her with kicks and punches. Belair reversed a small package into a remarkable double-slingshot suplex and followed with a standing shooting star splash.
Again, just incredible. Banks found her mean streak and delivered hard-hitting offense by throwing her body into every single move. They wore the pain, awe and emotion on their faces well as they told a story of two remarkable athletes looking to prove that they are the best in the world.
But Belair’s athleticism was surreal. The EST of WWE attempted a 450 splash that Banks thwarted by getting her knees up. Belair cut off a Banks hurricarana with a double powerbomb. An attempt at a third powerbomb was reversed into an x-factor by Banks, who followed with an innovative double tornado DDT.
She then used Belair’s braid to wrap her into a Bank Statement. Belair got to the ropes and broke the hold. Banks wore the frustration on her face and may have let her rage get the best of her as Belair took over and hit the 450 splash she attempted earlier. Banks kicked out, leaving Belair incredulous. But the rookie pulled it together, nailed Banks with a snapping air whip and went for the KOD. Banks attempted to reverse to a backstabber but Belair was too strong, hit the KOD and finally won her first championship.
It doesn’t get any better than this. These two women knew the magnitude of the moment and exceeded expectations. You absolutely have to go out of your way to watch this match. This wasn’t just a great match; this was history.
How to watch WrestleMania 37
One of the latest streaming services to hit the market, Peacock, is an NBC-driven vehicle. In January, WWE Network and its library were sold to Peacock, which is now home to WWE streamed content.
Peacock has three separate pricing tiers: the free tier, the Premium tier and the Premium Plus tier. In order to watch WWE Network and WrestleMania 37, you’ll have to subscribe to the Premium tier, at $4.99 per month. This will also grant you unlimited access to the WWE Network library available on Peacock, as more content is uploaded to Peacock over the coming months.
Peacock is available on gaming consoles, Roku, Chromecast, Android TV and Apple TV. After logging in, there is a WWE category across the top bar — navigate over to it, and away you go.
WrestleMania 37 Night 1 match card results
- Bobby Lashley def. Drew McIntyre to retain the WWE championship
- Bad Bunny & Damian Priest def. The Miz & John Morrison
- Natalya & Tamina def. Lana & Naomi, Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose, The Riott Squad and Billie Kay & Carmella in a Tag Team Turmoil match
- Cesaro def. Seth Rollins
- AJ Styles & Omos def. The New Day for the “WWE Raw” tag team championship
- Braun Strowman def. Shane McMahon in a steel cage match
- Bianca Belair def. Sasha Banks for the “WWE SmackDown” women’s championship