WrestleMania 37

WrestleMania 37 was the 37th annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view and WWE Network event produced by WWE for their Raw and SmackDown brand divisions—unlike WrestleMania 36, it did not feature the NXT brand. It took place as a two-night event on April 10 and 11, 2021 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Following the merger of the WWE Network with Peacock in the United States, WrestleMania 37 was the first major WWE event for which U.S. subscribers could only stream the event via Peacock's WWE Network channel.

WrestleMania 37
WrestleMania 37 new Poster.jpg
Promotional poster featuring Bobby Lashley, Drew McIntyre, Sasha Banks, Roman Reigns, Bad Bunny, and Seth Rollins (in skull's eye)
PromotionWWE
Brand(s)Raw
SmackDown
DateApril 10–11, 2021
CityTampa, Florida
VenueRaymond James Stadium
AttendanceNight 1: 25,675[a][2]
Night 2: 25,675[a][3]
Combined: 51,350[a] (disputed)[4]
Tagline(s)Back in Business![5][6]
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The event was originally scheduled to take place on March 28, 2021, at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California; however, due to COVID-19 restrictions in California, WWE rescheduled and moved the event to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, which was the originally planned venue for WrestleMania 36 before the pandemic forced it to be relocated and held behind closed doors at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida—in August 2020, Florida loosened its COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, it marked the first time WWE had ticketed fans in attendance for an event during the COVID-19 pandemic, though to a limited capacity; the last WWE event to have ticketed fans was NXT on March 11, 2020, just before pandemic-related restrictions took effect. With a limited capacity, WWE claimed that the event sold out of all available tickets and that they had an attendance of 25,675 spectators each night, totaling 51,350 combined; however, this number has been disputed. According to records from the Tampa Sports Authority, which maintains the stadium, the first night sold 20,172 tickets while the second night sold 20,634 for a total of 40,806 tickets sold, both to fans and scalpers, with the actual attendance being 17,946 for Night 1 and 18,501 for Night 2, totaling 36,447 spectators.

The card comprised fourteen matches that were evenly divided between the two nights and unlike previous years, there were no matches contested on either night's Kickoff pre-show. In the main event for Night 1, Bianca Belair defeated Sasha Banks to win the SmackDown Women's Championship. This was the first time two African Americans headlined WrestleMania, as well as the second time women headlined the event after WrestleMania 35. Other prominent matches saw Bad Bunny and Damian Priest defeat The Miz and John Morrison, Braun Strowman defeated Shane McMahon in a Steel Cage match, A.J. Styles and Omos defeated The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) to win the Raw Tag Team Championship, which was Omos' in-ring debut and also made Styles WWE's 32nd Triple Crown Champion and 22nd Grand Slam Champion, and in the opening bout, Bobby Lashley defeated Drew McIntyre by technical submission to retain the WWE Championship. In the main event for Night 2, Roman Reigns defeated Daniel Bryan and Edge in a triple threat match to retain the Universal Championship. In other prominent matches, Apollo Crews defeated Big E in a Nigerian Drum Fight to win the Intercontinental Championship, Sheamus defeated Riddle to win the United States Championship, Rhea Ripley defeated Asuka to win the Raw Women's Championship, and in the opening bout, Randy Orton defeated The Fiend.

This was the first WrestleMania since 2003 to not feature John Cena in any capacity and the first since 2012 not to feature Brock Lesnar. This was also the first WrestleMania since 1988 to not feature at least one of the following as an in-ring competitor: Shawn Michaels, The Undertaker, and Triple H, though the latter appeared on the stage at the beginning of Night 1 to welcome fans back. The event was also the first WrestleMania since 2010 to have an on-screen appearance by WWE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Vince McMahon, who opened the event to welcome fans back to WrestleMania as well as welcoming them back to a WWE event for the first time in over a year.

Production

Background

WrestleMania is considered WWE's flagship event, having first been held in 1985. It is the longest-running professional wrestling event in history and is held annually between mid-March to mid-April.[7] It was the first of WWE's original four pay-per-views, which includes Royal Rumble, SummerSlam, and Survivor Series, dubbed the "Big Four" as they are the promotion's biggest shows of the year produced quarterly.[8] WrestleMania is ranked the sixth most valuable sports brand in the world by Forbes,[9] and has been described as the Super Bowl of sports entertainment.[10] It featured wrestlers from the Raw and SmackDown brand divisions—unlike WrestleMania 36, it did not feature the NXT brand.[11] "Save Your Tears" by The Weeknd, "Head Up High" by Fitz, and "All The Gold" by def rebel were the official theme songs for the event.[12][13][14] WWE Hall of Famers Hulk Hogan and Titus O'Neil served as the hosts of WrestleMania 37.[15]

WrestleMania 37 was originally to be held in the city of Inglewood, California at SoFi Stadium on March 28, 2021, marketed as WrestleMania Hollywood. It would have been the first since WrestleMania 21 to be held in Greater Los Angeles, and the seventh held in the state of California (after 2, VII, XII, 2000, 21, and 31).[16][17] However, on January 16, WWE officially confirmed that WrestleMania 37 would be held at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida—the originally planned venue for WrestleMania 36—as a two-night event on April 10 and 11, 2021. It was the fifth WrestleMania to be held in the state of Florida (after XXIV, XXVIII, 33, and 36). WrestleMania 37 adopted much of the pirate-themed marketing originally used for WrestleMania 36, including having a similar logo. It was also the first WWE event to have ticketed fans in attendance during the COVID-19 pandemic.[18] Tickets were originally to go on sale on March 16, but were delayed.[19] Pre-sale tickets were then available on March 18 before tickets went on sale the following day.[20] Individual tickets for each night, as well as two-night bundle packages, were made available, with a maximum capacity of around 25,000 spectators for each night.[1]

Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, WWE suspended its touring arena shows in mid-March 2020, and moved its weekly broadcasts for the Raw and SmackDown brands, as well as pay-per-views, to their WWE Performance Center training facility in Orlando, Florida, with no outside spectators and only essential staff present. This included WrestleMania 36, which was the first pay-per-view to be affected by the pandemic. NXT continued to broadcast from Full Sail University in Winter Park, Florida, but with similar limitations.[21] In late August, WWE moved its programming for Raw and SmackDown to Orlando's Amway Center, using a new arena production billed as the "WWE ThunderDome" to display a virtual audience on LED displays around the ring, but still without outside spectators.[22][23] In October, NXT moved to the Performance Center in a similar setup dubbed the Capitol Wrestling Center (which includes a small live audience),[24] while in December, the ThunderDome relocated to Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida.[25][26]

In October 2020, it was reported by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter that WWE was relocating WrestleMania 37 to Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida as present health orders and the state of the pandemic in California made it unlikely that the event could be held with in-person spectators on the originally scheduled date.[27] By contrast, Florida officially removed capacity limits for sporting events in late August, but local sports organizations have continued to voluntarily limit their capacity in accordance with CDC guidance.[28] Rival promotion All Elite Wrestling (AEW) has held tapings with spectators at Jacksonville's Daily's Place since late August 2020, at 15% of the venue's capacity.[29] The Tampa Bay Buccaneers of the National Football League (NFL) began admitting fans to their games at Raymond James Stadium in October, with a maximum capacity of 25%,[30] while Super Bowl LV was hosted by the stadium on February 7, 2021 with an official attendance of 24,835 spectators.[31]

 
Raymond James Stadium prior to Super Bowl LV, with cardboard cut-outs placed in seats not available to spectators.

On January 16, 2021, WWE announced that WrestleMania 37 would take place at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, and like WrestleMania 36, would be a two-night event, held on April 10 and 11, 2021. WWE also confirmed that SoFi Stadium would instead host WrestleMania 39 in 2023, as 2022's WrestleMania 38 was scheduled for AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Mayor of Tampa Jane Castor stated that the event would be "in true WWE fashion, the perfect comeback story and marks a clear indication that our beautiful city is poised to bounce back stronger than ever." Mayor of Inglewood James T. Butts Jr. welcomed WWE's decision to allow Tampa to "have their rightful WrestleMania moment".[32][33] In an interview with TMZ Sports on January 19, WWE's Chief Brand Officer Stephanie McMahon affirmed WWE's plan to have live fans in attendance at WrestleMania 37, stating that "hopefully, this will be the first opportunity for us to have our fans back in attendance". She also said that they would be watching how the NFL handled hosting the Super Bowl to learn logistically what does and does not work.[34]

In February, the Wrestling Observer Newsletter reported that WWE were planning to cap attendance at 30,000 spectators for each night,[35] but later reported that the promotion were hoping for 45,000, if it could be approved by the city of Tampa.[36] On March 17, the Tampa Bay Times confirmed that the capacity for each night would be around 25,000 spectators and that attendees would be separated by pods with physical distancing in place. They also confirmed that the stadium would administer temperature checks and wellness screenings, that masks would be required and they would have free masks available, and any transactions would be paperless.[1]

The pandemic also resulted in the absence of John Cena, who although has focused heavily on his acting career the past few years, he had wrestled or appeared at every WrestleMania since the pre-show of WrestleMania XIX in 2003. Cena had been reported to wrestle or at least appear at WrestleMania 37, but due to his filming schedule for the HBO Max series Peacemaker, which was shooting in Canada, it made it logistically impossible for him to travel to Florida, as upon his return to Canada, he would have had to quarantine for two weeks, which would have shut down production on the series.[37] Two other big names that were absent at the event were Brock Lesnar and Goldberg. Lesnar last appeared at WrestleMania 36 and his contract expired in August 2020, and while it was believed that WWE would try to negotiate a new deal for Lesnar, there were no plans for him to appear at WrestleMania 37 by February 2021. Goldberg, who still had one more match on his contract for the year, had been briefly discussed to wrestle at the event, but by February, he was ultimately left out of any plans.[38]

Broadcast outlets

WrestleMania 37 was available on traditional pay-per-view.[39] Additionally, on January 25, 2021, WWE announced that the streaming service Peacock would become the exclusive distributor of the WWE Network in the United States as part of a new agreement with NBCUniversal, which airs Monday Night Raw and NXT on the USA Network. On March 18, the WWE Network became a premium channel on Peacock, with premium subscribers to the service receiving access to the WWE Network at no additional cost. WrestleMania 37 was the first WrestleMania produced under this new agreement.[40][41] After a brief transitional period, the standalone version of the WWE Network in the U.S. shut down on April 4, with future events only available via Peacock's WWE Network channel. These changes did not impact the WWE Network outside of the U.S., which maintain the standalone service distributed by WWE and its existing partners.[42] Following the event, WWE stated that WrestleMania 37 was Peacock's most-viewed live event to date, although they did not specify exact numbers.[43]

Other WrestleMania Week events

As part of the WrestleMania festivities during the week of the event, WWE held a number of events throughout the week. WrestleMania 37 Week began with the April 5 episode of Raw.[44] The 2021 WWE Hall of Fame ceremony then aired the following night on April 6.[45] WWE's NXT brand held their major event, TakeOver: Stand & Deliver, on April 7 and 8,[46] while a special episode of NXT UK called "Prelude" also aired midday on April 8.[47] On April 9, the night before WrestleMania 37 Night 1, WWE aired a special "WrestleMania Edition" of SmackDown. The episode featured the André the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, which was won by Jey Uso and was previously held at WrestleMania itself (with the exception of WrestleMania 36, in which the match was canceled due to concerns over the pandemic).[48] The SmackDown Tag Team Championship was also defended on the episode in a fatal four-way match where Dolph Ziggler and Robert Roode retained.[49] Early on April 11, WWE Network premiered a new episode of Stone Cold Steve Austin's Broken Skull Sessions podcast, which featured AEW's Chris Jericho for the first time on WWE programming in nearly three years. The week was capped off by the Raw after WrestleMania on Monday April 12, and then finally, NXT began airing in its new Tuesday night slot.[44]

Celebrity involvement

As is tradition at WrestleMania, celebrities from the entertainment field took part in the event in various capacities. Pop singer Bebe Rexha performed "America the Beautiful" prior to the show on Night 1,[50] while country singer Ashland Craft did the same for Night 2.[51][52] Two celebrities were directly involved in matches at the event. Rapper Bad Bunny wrestled in a tag team match, teaming with Damian Priest against The Miz and John Morrison on Night 1,[53] while YouTube personality, actor, and boxer Logan Paul was the guest cornerman for Sami Zayn in his match against Kevin Owens on Night 2.[54] Additionally, two musical artists performed the entrance themes for wrestlers' entrances live on Night 2. Singer Ash Costello from the rock band New Year's Day played Rhea Ripley's entrance theme, "This Is My Brutality," for Ripley's entrance for her Raw Women's Championship match against defending champion Asuka,[55] while rapper Wale did the same for Big E and his entrance theme "Feel The Power" for his Intercontinental Championship defense against Apollo Crews.[56]

Storylines

The event included fourteen matches that were evenly divided between the two nights. The matches resulted from scripted storylines, where wrestlers portrayed heroes, villains, or less distinguishable characters in scripted events that built tension and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches. Results were predetermined by WWE's writers on the Raw and SmackDown brands,[57][58] while storylines were produced on WWE's weekly television shows, Monday Night Raw and Friday Night SmackDown.[59]

Main event matches

Immediately following WrestleMania XXVII in April 2011, Edge, who at the time held the now-defunct World Heavyweight Championship, was forced to retire and relinquish his title due to a severe neck injury;[60][61] Edge was then inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame in 2012.[62] After nine years and two neck surgeries, Edge made his return as a surprise entrant at the 2020 Royal Rumble, making it to the final three.[63] The following year, Edge declared his participation for the 2021 Royal Rumble, vowing to win the men's Royal Rumble match so he could go to WrestleMania 37 and become a world champion again, as he had never lost his world title.[64] At the event on January 31, Edge entered the match at number one and went on to win as a Raw wrestler and earned himself a world championship match of his choice at WrestleMania 37.[65] Over the next week, Edge appeared on Raw, NXT, and SmackDown, confronting each brand's world champion,[66][67][68] but stated he would wait until after Elimination Chamber to make his decision.[69] After SmackDown's Universal Champion Roman Reigns retained his title against Daniel Bryan at the event, Edge appeared and performed a Spear on Reigns. He then pointed to the WrestleMania sign, indicating that Edge had chosen to challenge Reigns for the Universal Championship, which was later confirmed.[70] This came after Reigns demanded Edge to choose him,[68] and after Reigns attacked Edge with a Spear on the February 19 episode of SmackDown.[71] However, Bryan also pursued Reigns for another championship match, mocking Reigns for defending the title against him immediately after Bryan had won SmackDown's Elimination Chamber match.[72][73] At Fastlane, Bryan faced Reigns for the championship once again, with Edge acting as the special guest enforcer; Reigns won the match after Edge attacked both men with a steel chair.[74] On the March 26 episode of SmackDown, WWE official Adam Pearce scheduled Reigns to defend the Universal Championship against Bryan and Edge in a triple threat match at WrestleMania.[75]

At the Royal Rumble, SmackDown's Bianca Belair won the women's Royal Rumble match to earn herself a women's world championship match of her choice at WrestleMania 37.[65] Belair discussed facing the three brands' champions over the next few weeks,[76][69][77] but had primarily gotten involved in segments with SmackDown Women's Champion Sasha Banks. Although Banks complimented Belair, she claimed that Belair was not the best as she did not have the SmackDown Women's Championship, playing off Belair's "EST" gimmick.[68] On the February 26 episode of SmackDown, Belair decided that she would challenge Banks for the SmackDown Women's Championship at WrestleMania 37.[72]

Undercard matches

At Elimination Chamber, Drew McIntyre won Raw's Elimination Chamber match to retain the WWE Championship. Following the match, however, McIntyre was brutally attacked by Bobby Lashley, allowing The Miz to cash in his Money in the Bank contract and win the title.[70] As part of an agreement that Miz made with Lashley's Hurt Business manager MVP, Miz was scheduled to defend the championship against Lashley, who defeated Miz in a Lumberjack match to win the title on the March 1 episode of Raw.[78] On the March 15 episode, Lashley claimed that he destroyed McIntyre at Elimination Chamber and would do it again at WrestleMania 37, confirming that Lashley would defend the title against McIntyre at the event. McIntyre came out and congratulated Lashley on becoming champion, noting how they both had a long road to winning the WWE Championship—16 years for Lashley and 17 years for McIntyre. However, McIntyre mocked Lashley, as McIntyre first won the championship at WrestleMania 36 by defeating Brock Lesnar, whereas Lashley won the championship by making an underhanded deal and defeating Miz on an episode of Raw. McIntyre then declared that he would win back the championship at WrestleMania.[79] The following week, McIntyre defeated The Hurt Business' Cedric Alexander and Shelton Benjamin in a handicap match, barring Alexander and Benjamin from ringside during the WWE Championship match at WrestleMania.[80]

Incensed at being left out of Raw's Elimination Chamber match, Braun Strowman took issue with WWE officials Shane McMahon and Adam Pearce. After a failed attempt to rectify things with Strowman,[78] Shane then began to insult Strowman's intelligence.[78] Strowman then challenged Shane to a match on the March 15 episode of Raw. The match, however, never officially started and the two instead brawled with Shane calling Strowman stupid. This led to a match being scheduled between the two at Fastlane.[79] This match also did not take place due to Shane injuring his knee while training; he selected Elias as his replacement to face Strowman, who defeated Elias.[74] The following night on Raw, Shane, along with Elias and Jaxson Ryker, continued to taunt Strowman, who came out and defeated Elias in a rematch. Following the match, Shane attacked Strowman with his crutch, revealing that Shane had feigned his injury. Shane then retreated, after which, Strowman challenged Shane to a match at WrestleMania 37 and Shane accepted.[80] The following week, Strowman chose a Steel Cage match as the stipulation.[81]

At the Royal Rumble, The Miz attempted to persuade rapper Bad Bunny, who had performed his song "Booker T" at the event, to a deal to become a WWE superstar under his tutelage; however, Bad Bunny rejected the offer. Later during the Royal Rumble match, as Miz made his entrance, he destroyed Bad Bunny's DJ equipment. An irate Bad Bunny came out and distracted Miz, allowing Damian Priest to eliminate him.[65] The following night on Raw, Bad Bunny was a guest on "Miz TV." Miz apologized for his actions and Bad Bunny accepted the apology but did not apologize for his own actions. Bad Bunny then stated that one of his dreams was to become a WWE wrestler, which Miz again claimed he could help him with, but was again rejected. Bad Bunny then stated the only reason he was there was for his friend Priest, who made his Raw debut and defeated Miz in a match.[82] Over the next few weeks, Miz and his tag team partner John Morrison continued to constantly taunt Bad Bunny. On the March 23 episode of Raw, Miz challenged Bad Bunny to a match at WrestleMania 37. Following Miz's match, Bad Bunny attacked Miz and accepted.[80] However, after Miz and Morrison vandalized Bad Bunny's US$3 million Bugatti and attacked Bad Bunny on the April 5 episode, the stipulation of the match was changed as Priest and Bad Bunny challenged Miz and Morrison to a tag team match that Miz and Morrison accepted.[53]

At TLC: Tables, Ladders & Chairs in December 2020, Randy Orton defeated "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt in a Firefly Inferno match. After the match, Orton doused The Fiend's lifeless body in gasoline and set him on fire.[83] Following this incident, Alexa Bliss, who had aligned with The Fiend months earlier, began to haunt Orton on a weekly basis, including causing him to lose multiple matches. On the March 15 episode of Raw, Bliss challenged Orton to an intergender match at Fastlane, and Orton accepted in the hopes of ridding Bliss of his life.[79] At Fastlane, Bliss defeated Orton, thanks to the return of The Fiend, who appeared very grotesque with charred skin.[74] The following night on Raw, Orton attempted to summon The Fiend. Bliss appeared on the stage holding a jack-in-the-box signaling the return of The Fiend, after which, the lights went out. When they returned, The Fiend was standing in the ring. Orton performed an RKO on The Fiend, after which, Bliss walked to the ring to taunt Orton. The Fiend then rose to his feet and attacked Orton with a Sister Abigail. Bliss then pointed to the WrestleMania sign, signaling a challenge, which was later confirmed.[80]

After failing to defeat Big E for the Intercontinental Championship in January, Apollo Crews turned heel and began to embrace his royal Nigerian roots, including speaking with a Nigerian accent.[84][85] On the February 19 episode of SmackDown, after Crews' loss against Shinsuke Nakamura where Big E was on commentary, Crews attacked Nakamura after the match. Big E aided Nakamura, however, Crews attacked Big E with the steel steps, taking him out of action for a couple of weeks.[71] At Fastlane, Big E defeated Crews to retain the title once again, after which, Crews viciously attacked Big E.[74] On the March 26 episode of SmackDown, Crews pinned Big E in a six-man tag team match. Another match between the two for the title was subsequently set for WrestleMania 37.[75] The following week, Crews changed the stipulation of the match to a Nigerian Drum Fight.[86]

Event

Night 1: WrestleMania Saturday

Other on-screen personnel – Night 1
Role Name
Hosts Hulk Hogan
Titus O'Neil
English Commentators Michael Cole (all matches)
Corey Graves (SmackDown)
Samoa Joe (Raw)
Byron Saxton (Raw)
Jerry Lawler (Steel cage match)
Booker T (Bunny & Priest vs. Miz & Morrison)
Spanish commentators Carlos Cabrera
Marcelo Rodriguez
Ring announcers Greg Hamilton (SmackDown)
Mike Rome (Raw)
Referees Danilo Anfibio
Shawn Bennett
John Cone
Dan Engler
Eddie Orengo
Chad Patton
Ryan Tran
Interviewers Kayla Braxton
Sarah Schreiber
Kevin Patrick
Pre-show panel Kayla Braxton
John "Bradshaw" Layfield
Peter Rosenberg
Sonya Deville

Preliminary matches

The actual pay-per-view opened with WWE Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Vince McMahon welcoming the fans in attendance back to WrestleMania, and back to a WWE event in over a year. This was then followed by Bebe Rexha performing "America the Beautiful."[87] Shortly after, the event was put on hold for over 30 minutes due to inclement weather, marking the first-ever weather delay in WrestleMania history.[88] During this time, various wrestlers were interviewed about their respective matches.[89] The event eventually resumed with hosts Hulk Hogan and Titus O'Neil coming out to hype up the crowd.[87]

The first match saw Bobby Lashley (accompanied by MVP) defend the WWE Championship against Drew McIntyre. In the closing moments, McIntyre performed three Future Shock DDTs on Lashley for a near fall. As McIntyre attempted for the Claymore Kick, MVP distracted McIntyre and Lashley took advantage to counter McIntyre and apply the Hurt Lock. McIntyre was able to momentarily ease up the maneuver, however, Lashley locked it in securely on McIntyre, who passed out, thus Lashley retained the title by technical submission.[87]

Next, a Tag Team Turmoil match was contested where the winners would face Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship on Night 2. The team of Lana and Naomi and the team of Billie Kay and Carmella started the match. Kay and Carmella worked together and eliminated Lana and Naomi with an assisted pinfall on Lana. The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott) entered next. They quickly eliminated Kay and Carmella with a gutbuster/back stomp combination on Kay. Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose entered next. Brooke and Rose were eliminated after Morgan pinned Brooke with an inside cradle. The final team to enter was Natalya and Tamina. In the end, Tamina performed a Superfly Splash on Morgan to win the match and secure the championship match for her and Natalya on Night 2.[87]

After that, Cesaro faced Seth Rollins. As Rollins went for The Stomp, Cesaro countered with the Cesaro Swing and locked in The Sharpshooter, however, Rollins countered. Cesaro performed a Neutralizer on Rollins for a near fall. As Cesaro attempted another Neutralizer, Rollins countered into the Pedigree for a near fall. As Rollins went for another Stomp, Cesaro caught Rollins in mid-air with an uppercut. Cesaro then spun Rollins with the UFO and the Cesaro Swing before performing a second Neutralizer on Rollins to win the match.[87]

In the fourth match, The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods), who were introduced by former stablemate Big E, defended the Raw Tag Team Championship against AJ Styles and Omos, which was Omos' in-ring debut after having served as Styles' bodyguard for several months. Early on in the match, Kingston and Woods neutralized Styles to prevent him from tagging in Omos. Styles eventually tagged in Omos, who dominated Kingston and Woods. In the end, Styles performed the Phenomenal Forearm on Woods, and Omos performed a Powerbomb on Kingston and pinned him with one foot to win the title. This win made Styles WWE's 32nd Triple Crown Champion and 22nd Grand Slam Champion, as well as the only wrestler to win the Grand Slam in WWE and Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (now known as Impact Wrestling).[87]

Next, Braun Strowman faced Shane McMahon in a Steel Cage match. Before Strowman could enter the cage, Elias and Jaxson Ryker attacked Strowman's leg with steel chairs. McMahon obtained the steel chair and constantly attacked Strowman with it as the match started. McMahon performed the Coast to Coast on Strowman for a near fall. Elias and Ryker tried to interfere once again, however, Strowman knocked them off the cage. McMahon obtained a toolbox and struck Strowman with it. As McMahon was climbing out of the cage, Strowman caught him, pulled apart a side of the cage, and pulled McMahon back inside the cage. Strowman then threw McMahon off the top of the cage. In the end, Strowman performed the Running Powerslam on McMahon to win the match.[87]

In the penultimate match, Bad Bunny and Damian Priest faced The Miz and John Morrison. Miz dominated Bad Bunny to prevent him from tagging in Priest. Bad Bunny eventually tagged in Priest. Bad Bunny and Priest performed a Falcon Arrow on Miz and Morrison simultaneously. Outside the ring, Bad Bunny performed a Crossbody on Miz and Morrison. Miz performed the Skull Crushing Finale on Priest only for Bad Bunny to break up the pin attempt. Outside the ring, Bad Bunny performed a Canadian Destroyer on Morrison. In the end, Bad Bunny and Priest performed an Electric Chair Drop/Crossbody combination on Miz, and Bad Bunny pinned Miz to win the match.[87]

Main event

In the main event, Sasha Banks defended the SmackDown Women's Championship against Bianca Belair. This was also the first time two African-American wrestlers headlined a WrestleMania.[90][91][92] During the match, Belair attempted a 450 Splash on Banks; however, Banks raised her knees to block the maneuver. As Banks applied the Bank Statement, Belair reached the ropes to void the submission. Belair eventually performed the 450 Splash on Banks for a near fall. In the closing moments, Belair became more aggressive and whipped Banks with her ponytail before performing a Kiss of Death on Banks to win the title.[87]

Night 2: WrestleMania Sunday

Other on-screen personnel – Night 2
Role Name
Hosts Hulk Hogan
Titus O'Neil
English Commentators Michael Cole (all matches)
Corey Graves (SmackDown)
Samoa Joe (Raw)
Byron Saxton (Raw)
John "Bradshaw" Layfield (Owens vs. Zayn)
Spanish commentators Carlos Cabrera
Marcelo Rodriguez
Ring announcers Greg Hamilton (SmackDown)
Mike Rome (Raw)
Referees Jason Ayers
Shawn Bennett
Jessika Carr
John Cone
Darrick Moore
Charles Robinson
Rod Zapata
Pre-show panel Kayla Braxton
Peter Rosenberg
Booker T
Jerry Lawler
Sonya Deville

Preliminary matches

The actual pay-per-view opened with Ashland Craft performing "America the Beautiful." Hosts Hulk Hogan and Titus O'Neil came out in pirate outfits to hype the crowd.[93]

The first match saw Randy Orton face The Fiend. A short video was shown where The Fiend became healed and returned to his original unburnt Fiend attire, though with an altered top. Alexa Bliss then came out and turned the handle of a giant jack-in-the-box at ringside and The Fiend emerged from the box. The Fiend leaped off the box onto Orton and the match began. The Fiend applied the Mandible Claw twice on Orton, however, Orton escaped both times. As The Fiend attempted a Sister Abigail, pyro erupted from the turnbuckles and Bliss, who was perched atop the jack-in-the-box, distracted The Fiend with black liquid oozing down her face. This allowed Orton to perform the RKO on The Fiend to win the match. After the match, The Fiend stared at Bliss. The lights then went out and when they illuminated, The Fiend and Bliss were gone.[93]

Next, Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler defended the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship against Natalya and Tamina. Tamina performed a Samoan Drop on Baszler for a nearfall. Jax did a Crossbody onto Natalya and Tamina, but landed awkwardly on her knee. As Tamina went for the Superfly Splash, Jax moved out of the way. In the end, Baszler made the tag, but Natalya did not notice and attempted to apply the Sharpshooter submission on Jax. Baszler then grabbed a hold of and locked Natalya in the Kirifuda Clutch and Natalya passed out, thus Jax and Baszler retained the titles by technical submission.[93]

After that, Sami Zayn took on Kevin Owens with Logan Paul at ringside for Zayn. Owens immediately performed the Pop-Up Powerbomb on Zayn. Zayn performed a Brainbuster to Owens on the ring apron. Zayn performed the Blue Thunder Bomb on Owens for a nearfall. In the end, Owens performed a Fisherman's Suplex on Zayn off the second rope. Zayn performed the Helluva Kick on Owens, and as Zayn attempted another Helluva Kick, Owens countered and performed two Superkicks and a Stunner on Zayn to win the match. Following the match, Paul attempted to congratulate Owens on his victory which enraged Zayn. Zayn then got into an altercation with Paul, who then shoved him in the ring. Paul then raised Owens' hand in celebration, after which, Owens performed a Stunner on Paul.[93]

In the fourth match, Riddle defended the United States Championship against Sheamus. In the end, as Riddle was performing a moonsault, Sheamus caught him in midair with a Brogue Kick, which busted Riddle's mouth open, allowing Sheamus to pin Riddle and win the title.[93]

A pre-taped advertisement then aired showing Triple H confronting Bad Bunny. Triple H thanked Bad Bunny and congratulated him on his performance during Night 1. He then stated it was time for Bad Bunny to return to his music career, thus announcing Bad Bunny's 2022 concert tour.[93]

Next, Big E defended the Intercontinental Championship against Apollo Crews in the first-ever Nigerian Drum Fight, which was essentially a No Holds Barred match, however, African drums surrounded the ring that could also be used as weapons. Big E and Crews immediately retrieved kendo sticks and attacked each other with them. In the end, as Crews attempted a Frog Splash, Big E moved out of the way, sending Crews through a table. Big E performed the Big Ending on Crews, only for a mysterious large man (formerly known as Dabba Kato) to emerge from through the crowd and perform a Chokeslam on Big E, allowing Crews to pin him and win the title.[93]

In the penultimate match, Asuka defended the Raw Women's Championship against Rhea Ripley. In the end, Asuka performed a DDT on Ripley off the apron to the ringside floor. In the ring, Asuka applied the Asuka Lock on Ripley, however, Ripley was able to escape. Ripley performed the Riptide on Asuka to win the title.[93]

Hosts Hulk Hogan and Titus O'Neil then came out to thank the fans. They were interrupted by Bayley, who said she was tired of being disrespected by the legends. Recent WWE Hall of Fame inductees The Bella Twins (Brie Bella and Nikki Bella) then came out and attacked Bayley and sent her rolling down the ramp.[93]

Main event

In the main event, Roman Reigns (accompanied by Paul Heyman and Jey Uso) defended the Universal Championship against Edge and Daniel Bryan. Jey interfered and hit both Edge and Bryan with a Superkick. Edge hit Jey with the Edgeacution on the steel steps, taking Jey out for the majority of the match. Later, Bryan hit Edge with the Running Knee. Bryan locked Reigns in the Yes! Lock, but Edge broke the hold. Edge locked Reigns in the Crossface and Bryan simultaneously locked Reigns in the Yes! Lock. Both Edge and Bryan broke each other's submissions by headbutting each other. Edge performed a Spear on Reigns, but Bryan pulled the referee out of the ring. Edge then got steel chairs and hit the Con-Chair-To on Bryan. Jey returned and attacked Edge. Edge hit a Spear on Jey, but Reigns hit Edge with his own Spear. Reigns then performed the Con-Chair-To on Edge and then laid Edge's body across Bryan's and pinned both at the same time to retain the title.[93]

Reception

After The Fiend's loss against Randy Orton at WrestleMania 37, various personalities like UFC's Daniel Cormier,[94] John Cena Sr.,[95] Booker T,[96] Erik Rowan,[97] and Mark Madden[98] showed support to Bray Wyatt and criticized his booking treatment in WWE.

Aftermath

Raw

After being hosted at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Florida since December 11, 2020, the WWE ThunderDome was relocated to the Yuengling Center in Tampa. The following night's Raw was the first broadcast of WWE programming to be produced from the ThunderDome at the Yuengling Center. This relocation was due to the start of the Tampa Bay Rays' 2021 season, as Tropicana Field is their home venue.[99][100]

On the following night's Raw, MVP declared that no one could defeat Bobby Lashley for the WWE Championship. Drew McIntyre then interrupted and wanted another opportunity at Lashley, promising to take out Lashley with a Claymore Kick as he was unable to do it at WrestleMania due to a distraction from MVP. Braun Strowman and Randy Orton then interrupted and stated their respective cases to challenge for the title; Orton's for defeating The Fiend, putting that rivalry behind him and allowing him to focus on pursuing the WWE Championship, and Strowman's for defeating Shane McMahon in a Steel Cage match. WWE official Adam Pearce came out and scheduled a triple threat match between McIntyre, Strowman, and Orton with the winner facing Lashley for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania Backlash, which McIntyre won.[101]

Also on Raw, new Raw Women's Champion Rhea Ripley was scheduled to defend the title in a rematch against Asuka. The match ended in a no-contest after interference from a returning Charlotte Flair, who attacked Asuka. Prior to the match, Flair, who had been off TV for the past month, returned that night after missing her first WrestleMania; she first competed at WrestleMania 32 in April 2016 and had competed at the event every year since.[101] On the May 3 episode, another rematch between Ripley and Asuka for the Raw Women's Championship was scheduled for WrestleMania Backlash. Additionally, WWE official Sonya Deville gave Flair a chance to present a proposal. After hearing Flair's case, Deville added Flair to the championship match to make it a triple threat match.[102]

During a segment of Alexa's Playground, Alexa Bliss explained her actions at WrestleMania 37. Bliss stated that before meeting The Fiend, she had been lost and that The Fiend had nurtured her and taught her everything he knew, however, he then went away after Randy Orton burned him alive. After months of attempting to bring him back, she realized that she did not need him anymore. Bliss then introduced her new friend, a demonic looking doll named Lilly. Bray Wyatt's cheery normal-self also made his return in a Firefly Fun House segment. He stated it was good to be back with his true friends and he was looking forward to a new start.[101]

The Miz hosted a segment of Miz TV along with John Morrison, which also saw the return of Miz's wife Maryse to WWE programming, who last appeared in December 2019. Miz bragged and claimed that he turned Bad Bunny into a WWE superstar. Damian Priest interrupted and praised Bad Bunny and then challenged Miz and Morrison to a handicap match. Priest lost the match after Miz pinned him with a rollup and used the ropes as leverage while Maryse also assisted.[101]

Backstage, WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler were re-watching and laughing at Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose's entrance at WrestleMania 37 where Rose had slipped and fell. Jax and Baszler were confronted by Brooke and Rose. Jax handled the situation herself while Baszler departed, resulting in Rose slapping Jax and Brooke assisted Rose in shoving her to the ground. The two teams later competed in a non-title match. During the match, Jax slipped on the ring apron twice prompting Brooke and Rose to laugh at Jax. Brooke and Rose took a countout loss to not deal with Jax's anger.[101]

After new United States Champion Sheamus was absent on the Raw after WrestleMania, he appeared the following week. Sheamus declared that he was a fighting champion and he would issue an open challenge for the title every week, or whenever he felt like it. Humberto Carrillo then came out to answer the challenge, however, Sheamus attacked Carillo before the match could start.[103]

After taking a vacation to celebrate their win, new Raw Tag Team Champions AJ Styles and Omos made their first post-WrestleMania appearance on the May 3 episode of Raw. The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) received a rematch for the championship that night where Styles and Omos retained.[102]

SmackDown

On the following SmackDown, Universal Champion Roman Reigns, along with Paul Heyman and Jey Uso, boasted about retaining his championship over Edge and Daniel Bryan. Reigns was then interrupted by Cesaro, who had a stare down with Reigns, and glanced at the Universal Championship. However, before Cesaro could speak, Reigns, Jey, and Heyman left the ring and departed backstage. Later backstage, Cesaro confronted Adam Pearce and Sonya Deville about facing Reigns that night, even as a non-title match. However, instead of Reigns, Cesaro faced Jey in the main event, which ended by disqualification when Seth Rollins interfered and attacked Cesaro, proclaiming that their rivalry was not over.[104] The following week, Reigns gave Bryan one final match for the title but with the stipulation that if Bryan lost, he would have to leave the SmackDown brand.[105] The match happened on the April 30 episode where Reigns retained.[106]

Also on the following episode of SmackDown, The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford, the latter of whom is Bianca Belair's real-life husband) threw Belair a victory party for winning the SmackDown Women's Championship. During the party, Belair thanked Sasha Banks for making history at the event. Backstage, a furious Banks was interviewed only to storm off the set. Later, Bayley declared that she would be Belair's next challenger,[104] which was scheduled for WrestleMania Backlash.[105]

Sami Zayn claimed that he lost to Kevin Owens at WrestleMania because he was distracted and wondered if Logan Paul was okay. Zayn then called out Owens for a rematch, which was accepted by Owens. Owens defeated Zayn by count-out after Zayn retreated from the ring. Following the match, Owens chased Zayn and brought him back to the ring, after which, Owens performed a Stunner on Zayn.[104]

New Intercontinental Champion Apollo Crews boasted about winning the championship. He introduced his new ally, Commander Azeez, who helped him win the title. Crews stated that Azeez was a former member of the Nigerian Elite Army and he would have given Big E a rematch for the title that night, however, Big E was absent.[104] Big E then received a rematch for the title on the April 30 episode, but the match ended by disqualification after Azeez interfered and attacked Big E.[106]

After Natalya and Tamina failed to defeat WWE Women's Tag Team Champions Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler, Natalya faced Baszler on SmackDown where Natalya was victorious. After the match, Jax attempted to attack Natalya, only for Tamina to attack Jax.[104] On the April 30 episode, Natalya and Tamina defeated the champions in a non-title match.[106]

Post-WrestleMania releases

The event marked the last WWE appearances for Samoa Joe, who was on commentary during WrestleMania 37, and Billie Kay, who competed in the Tag Team Turmoil match on Night 1. Both Joe and Kay, along with Peyton Royce, Mickie James, Chelsea Green, Tucker, Kalisto, Mojo Rawley, Bo Dallas, and Wesley Blake, were released from their contracts on April 15, 2021.[107][108]

Results

Night 1 (April 10)
No. Results Stipulations Times[87]
1 Bobby Lashley (c) (with MVP) defeated Drew McIntyre by technical submission Singles match for the WWE Championship[109] 18:20
2 Natalya and Tamina won by last eliminating The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott) Tag Team Turmoil match[110]
Winners received a WWE Women's Tag Team Championship match on Night 2
14:15
3 Cesaro defeated Seth Rollins Singles match[111] 11:35
4 A.J. Styles and Omos defeated The New Day (Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods) (c) Tag team match for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championship[112] 9:45
5 Braun Strowman defeated Shane McMahon Steel cage match[113] 11:25
6 Bad Bunny and Damian Priest defeated The Miz and John Morrison Tag team match[114] 15:05
7 Bianca Belair defeated Sasha Banks (c) Singles match for the WWE SmackDown Women's Championship[115] 17:15
  • (c) – refers to the champion(s) heading into the match
Night 2 (April 11)
No. Results Stipulations Times[93]
1 Randy Orton defeated The Fiend (with Alexa Bliss) Singles match[116] 5:50
2 Nia Jax and Shayna Baszler (c) defeated Natalya and Tamina by technical submission Tag team match for the WWE Women's Tag Team Championship[117] 14:20
3 Kevin Owens defeated Sami Zayn (with Logan Paul) Singles match[118] 9:20
4 Sheamus defeated Riddle (c) Singles match for the WWE United States Championship[119] 10:50
5 Apollo Crews defeated Big E (c) Nigerian Drum Fight for the WWE Intercontinental Championship[120] 6:50
6 Rhea Ripley defeated Asuka (c) Singles match for the WWE Raw Women's Championship[121] 13:30
7 Roman Reigns (c) (with Jey Uso and Paul Heyman) defeated Edge and Daniel Bryan Triple Threat match for the WWE Universal Championship[122] 22:40
  • (c) – refers to the champion(s) heading into the match

Tag Team Turmoil match

Eliminated Team Entered Eliminated by Method Time
1 Lana and Naomi 1 Billie Kay and Carmella Pinfall 2:20
2 Billie Kay and Carmella 2 The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott) Pinfall 4:55
3 Dana Brooke and Mandy Rose 4 The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott) Pinfall 9:20
4 The Riott Squad (Liv Morgan and Ruby Riott) 3 Natalya and Tamina Pinfall 14:15
Winner Natalya and Tamina 5 N/A

Notes

  1. ^ a b c The capacity for each night was capped at ~25,000 spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Attendees were separated by pods with physical distancing in place.[1]

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