I’m still not over it: WrestleMania 38 reviewed

Just so you know this is not an unbiased review, this is in fact it’s supremely biased review.

I didn’t want to watch WrestleMania this year. I haven’t watched WWE tv regularly for two years, skipping the regular programming and picking a select number of pay-per-views a year instead. This is by far the best way to interact with WWE as a product, picking and choosing how much of it you allow yourself to endure, watching the cards that seem interesting to you. The card for WrestleMania this year was the definition of uninterested. Choked with celebrities and wrestling matches seemingly designed to make nobody happy, WrestleMania this year didn’t look just bad but it looked bad in a totally unreliable way. Trillions of words have been wasted trying to understand the uniquely malevolent force that is modern WWE. Usually with WWE tentpole pay-per-views even if they are horrible it still reveals something about the company work discussing. But this year’s Wrestlemania, almost nothing new could be gleaned from the show, all it is is just another example of their creative bankruptcy offering nothing interesting or worth comment. But I watched it anyway partly out of the lack of other things to do and partly because well, I’m a wrestling fan and WrestleMania is the biggest show of the year. Right? The most significant show of the year for all pro wrestling? It’s important? Right?

Let’s get this out of the way quickly. There were good matches and moments. There was one that you could even call great with Bianca Belair vs. Becky Lynch being another example of why Belair is maybe currently the best big match wrestler in the business right now. We also got a good Raw Tag Title triple threat. The Alpha Academy really are a great little tag team and Otis has adapted to working heel much better than I ever expected he could. Sami Zayn vs Johnny Knoxville was what it needed to be. It was really fun but not something I’ll ever go back to or felt the need to see in the first place. No shade, I had fun and everybody else around me had even more fun, there’s legitimately nothing to complain about.

There’s other stuff that will garner more praise elsewhere. Cody Rhodes has completed his completely unhinged journey back to the WWE by debuting as Seth Rollins mystery opponent. I don’t care about Seth Rollins, truthfully I will stop caring about Cody after I’m done writing this. But this match was good mostly because it was the only time the crowd seemed to be fully without irony engaged in the show. Charlotte and Rhonda had a much worse rendition of their Survivor Series 2019 match in a feud so uninteresting I’m forgetting who won already and I’m looking at the results right now. It wasn’t very good but at least it felt like both women were trying to make something that could possibly create joy which is more than I can say for most of the show. Brock Lesnar vs Roman Reigns was… well I really wanted to like it. I’ve mostly enjoyed the work from these two in the last few years. This felt like a really nice conclusion to their story and I’m always here for a crazy WWE super heavyweight bombfest. That was partially what I got, lots of good strikes and suplexes, a big atmosphere, with a shockingly anti-climactic ending that made me wonder if someone was injured and they had to rush to a finish fast.

There are other Wrestlemanias with less good matches than this, so why am I so overwhelmingly negative? It’s because this show feels so completely disinterested in anything other than the past. Insipid, pathetic nostalgia runs through every vein of this show. WrestleMania in 2022 was main evented by Stone Cold Steve Austin. That sucks. I’m sorry it just sucks. After Ronda Rousey vs Charlotte Flair finished WrestleMania 38, Night 1 was main-evented by the KO Show featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin. They talked about Texas being big or something and then they got into an “impromptu” brawl. Was it a decent brawl? Sure. Was the crowd there very happy? Sure. And is the crowd being happy with their main event being taken up by the just over 10 minute brawl where a phenomenal pro wrestler has to drag a nearly 60 year old man across an arena so for a second everyone can pretend that Bill Clinton is still in office a horrific condemnation of modern WWE and what fans expect from the biggest wrestling company in the world? Yes. I frankly do not care about Steve Austin and that’s not my fault. Most of the children WWE pretends to care about weren’t even alive when the man retired. However I am invested in the career of Kevin Owens, a fantastic professional wrestler and by all accounts a decent man. Someone who deserves markey moments in his history celebrated, someone who’s WrestleMania matches should be about him and his success instead of an outlet for someone to relive theirs. People tell me that Kevin Owens is probably happy about this because he got to be in the main event of Wrestlemania, paid well and working around with Stone Cold Steve Austin. If that’s the case, sincerely good for him, but also as a viewer and critic I don’t care if he’s happy because he got paid for doing something bad. Kevin Owens deserves to be in the main event of WrestleMania because he is a fantastic pro wrestler not because he’s a safe hand who can guide an aging podcaster through a walk and brawl. 

I mentioned Steve Austin’s retirement earlier so let’s talk about that for a second. Stone Cold Steve Austin’s last match before this year was against the Rock at WrestleMania 19 the third installment in one of the most important trilogies and wrestling of all time, perhaps the most important trilogy in all of American wrestling. At that point both men were already considered legends, wrestlers who had made their mark on the history of the sport and figures that would be among the GOAT debate for the rest of time. And yet they did not meet in the main event even though it would make complete sense for them too. The final match of the company’s biggest star ever, no one would have complained if they did and yet they didn’t. Because while the story was important and deserved to be finished it was the epilogue to something the fans had already been watching for years, in other words, the past. The main event of WrestleMania 19 was Brock Lesnar vs Kurt Angle, the crowning of Brock Lesnar as the future of the company. Something less instantly iconic, two people who had never main evented Wrestlemania, both with on the surface much less mainstream appeal, who worked a style different from your typical WWF main event at the time. But it worked, it ushered the company into a new era. It showed WWF thinking about its future and rewarding the stars who would eventually define it. WrestleMania 19 turns two decades-old next year and both Stone Cold Steve Austin and Brock Lesnar have a main event in its latest iteration of the show. One feeding on a star with infinitely more upside, the other losing to a performer at their peak who is planning on retiring in 3 years.

So come one come all watch Wrestlemania! Try to enjoy a wrestling match in between all the video packages showing you clips of RAW shows where the crowd is dead board because of finisher or an entrance isn’t currently happening in front of their eyes, or if you’re lucky they’ll show you some clips of WWE Hall of Famer and noted fan of white supremacist, The Undertaker I hear there’s a nice NFT you can buy of him. There was a Vince Mcmahon match at this year’s show. Oh yes after commentator Pat McAfee beat alleged creep Austin Theory he let one of the most privileged men in history pretend to beat him up. We all laughed and cheered for this octogenarian who has ruined more lives than we can even comprehend. But hey at least Austin came out and you got to see him do the same thing he’s been doing since before most of us were born. Congratulations everyone we got to see the worst Stone Cold stunner ever instead of you know watching a good wrestling match. 

People will tell you to look over this and just have fun as if it’s your fault you didn’t have fun watching a terrible show. I went into WrestleMania 38 trying to have as much fun as possible. I have tried my best to divorce myself from caring about booking in this company. I don’t expect great things from them when I sit down and watch a WWE pay-per-view. All I hope for is a decent few hours and some good matches. My expectations could not be more reasonable for the most successful wrestling company of all time. And yet they consistently find ways to ruin the good time I am desperately trying to have. More than anything when I was watching this show I was embarrassed. I felt embarrassed this was what I was doing with my weekend. Embarrassed I was letting this pathetic company once again steal my time and reward me with nothing. Embarrassed that for some reason I still cared. I like pro wrestling less now that I’ve seen the show and in a year as spiritually destroying as 2022 making me like something I love less is a damned near unforgivable sin. 

Fuck you WrestleMania make something fun before telling me to feel it.

Edge vs AJ Styles happened.

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