Editor’s note: Full recaps of Night 1 of WrestleMania 38 can be found here.
Roman Reigns will now be acknowledged as the undisputed champion of WWE. Reigns unified his Universal title and Brock Lesnar’s WWE championship with a pinfall victory in the main event of the two-night WrestleMania 38 on Sunday night in Dallas. Reigns hasn’t lost a match since December 2019.
The finishing sequence began when Reigns delivered a spear on Lesnar, who reversed it into a Kimura Lock in a terrific exchange. With Reigns in trouble, Paul Heyman nudged the bottom rope to his client so he could grab it and force the referee to break the hold. The announcers claimed Reigns dislocated his shoulder due to the Lesnar’s submission attempt.
Heyman stood outside the ring, attempting to motivate his client by screaming, “Rise up my tribal chief, this is your moment!” Lesnar put Reigns up for his F-5 finisher, but Reigns reversed the move, pushing Lesnar into the ropes and delivering a final spear to earn the pin.
“I’m the greatest of all time! Look at him!”#WrestleMania @WWERomanReigns @BrockLesnar @HeymanHustle pic.twitter.com/sZOuneLz3C
— WWE (@WWE) April 4, 2022
By the end of the match, Lesnar was still selling the effects of some chicanery from Reigns. He speared Lesnar while the referee was standing between Brock and the turnbuckle. Reigns delivered a low blow and then hit Lesnar with the Universal title belt.
Lesnar and Reigns previously met at WrestleMania in 2015 and 2018, SummerSlam in 2017 and 2018, Greatest Royal Rumble in 2018 and Crown Jewel in 2021. They were scheduled to wrestle at the WWE’s Day 1 2022 until Reigns tested positive for COVID-19.
The WrestleMania main event was the culmination of a build that saw Lesnar take on a grinning ranch-hand persona. During one recent broadcast, he attacked a car containing Reigns and the Usos with a forklift.
What’s next: Will the ending of this match lead to another chapter in this feud? Lesnar can point to the shenanigans with the ref down or to Heyman helping Reigns break the Kimura Lock as justification for a rematch. No doubt there will be backlash from the fans about the finish, too. Hmm … if only there was an event that catered specifically to backlash stemming from WrestleMania.
WWE WrestleMania Backlash is scheduled for May 8 in Providence. Reigns has the titles, but this version of the feud isn’t over yet.
Pat McAfee def. Austin Theory
Mr. McMahon def. Pat McAfee; Stone Cold confronts McMahon
Stone Cold Steve Austin hits Mr. McMahon with a Stunner at WrestleMania 38. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
This match was a lot. The abridged version: It started with one Austin, and it ended with a very different Austin.
The setup for this one had Vince McMahon giving McAfee a match at ‘Mania during an interview on “The Pat McAfee Show” against McMahon’s hand-picked protégé, 24-year-old cowardly heel Austin Theory. To a roaring crowd, McMahon strutted out to “No Chance In Hell” and introduced Theory before taking a selfie with him in the ring.
McAfee, meanwhile, walked out to “Seven Nation Army” through a phalanx of Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders and punted a football into the audience, reminding us that one can be a winner even before the bell rings. The fans continued signing the chorus to that entrance music in between chants of “McAfee!” and derogatory ones aimed at Theory.
The match was a series of McAfee spots with Theory getting offense in the interim. Some of those spots were terrific, like when Theory pushed McAfee off the top rope but McAfee did a full flip to land on his feet. He then jumped from the canvas straight up to the top turnbuckle and landed a Superplex for a close two-count.
Theory regained control and set up for his finisher, but McAfee rolled him up for the three-count. The crowd went wild, singing “Seven Nation Army” as McAfee posed on the turnbuckles and McMahon consoled Theory.
McAfee jawed at McMahon, challenging him to enter the ring and for the first time since his 2010 “match” against Bret Hart, Mr. McMahon entered the WrestleMania ring for a match.
Mr. McMahon vs. Pat McAfee
McMahon removed his jacket, relented and then aggressively removed his jacket, tie and shirt to reveal a black tank top and a jacked, 76-year-old body as he entered the ring.
As McAfee and McMahon stared each other down, Theory attacked McAfee from behind. A referee signaled for the start of the match. McMahon delivered a clothesline and then rammed McAfee into the turnbuckle. Thanks to continued Theory interference, McMahon won his first WrestleMania match by pinning Theory.
The humiliation continued, with McMahon at one point punting a football into McAfee’s ribs. Theory’s music hit, which startled McMahon a bit more than it should have, which was an obvious clue as to what was coming next: The sound of glass breaking.
STUNNER! STUNNER! STUNNER!#WrestleMania @steveaustinBSR @austintheory1 pic.twitter.com/FAMEvH3jxr
— WWE (@WWE) April 4, 2022
“Stone Cold” Steve Austin made his way to the ring, fresh off his main-event win over Kevin Owens on Night 1 of WrestleMania. Theory attacked Austin, and Austin gave him a stunner that Theory sold with the emphasis of Shawn Michaels slipping on a banana peel. Austin called for beer and handed one to McMahon. They talked. They toasted. They drank. And then Austin delivered one of his most awkward and underwhelming stunners in WWE history, but that’s OK: It was Steve Austin vs. Vince McMahon in 2022. It’s the thought that counts.
McAfee entered the ring for a two-fisted beer celebration with Austin … who promptly kick-boom-Stunner’d McAfee, absolutely redeeming the segment.
With Austin’s music playing, McAfee was flat on his back pouring beer into his gaping maw like an elixir. He’s lived a charmed life — from All-Pro NFL punter to sports talk radio star to NXT grappler to SmackDown announcer — but it’s still delightful to watch him achieve his WrestleMania dream.
Sheamus and Ridge Holland def. The New Day (King Woods and Kofi Kingston)
Woods and Kingston wore ring gear inspired by the outfit their injured teammate Big E wore when he won the WWE championship, which was bittersweet.
We imagine many New Day fans will be bitter that this match was short and sweet. The finish saw Sheamus deliver a Brogue Kick to Woods with Kingston out of the ring, giving the legal man Holland the edge and, after a Northern Grit, the pin. The whole match lasted less than three minutes.
What’s next: Butch, whom you may remember as Pete Dunne, continued the attack on Woods after the match despite being pulled away by Sheamus and Holland. That should be enough to extend this feud beyond ‘Mania.
Edge def. AJ Styles
Edge and Damian Priest stand together after Edge’s victory over AJ Styles at WrestleMania 38. @WWE
Edge gets the win over Styles, thanks to an outside distraction that created a new storyline, but really just took away from a marathon match.
The entrances were notable in this one, but for different reasons. Styles entered the ring wearing Carolina blue and already bleeding. None of the announcers acknowledged this, which was weird. Edge’s arrival, meanwhile, was like if Triple H joined The Brood, complete with a rising throne and pulsating flames.
The story of the match was built around a separated shoulder injury to Styles, which didn’t hinder him from delivering a torture rack bomb that was good enough for a two count.
This was a solid match between two veterans that built to a brutal finish. The nastiest spot saw Styles Superplex Edge onto the ring apron. The best sequence had Styles missing a Phenomenal Forearm, Edge missing a spear into the ropes and Styles hitting the Styles Clash for the first time after two failed attempts, only to have Edge kick out very late.
The Phenomenal @AJStylesOrg busts out some vintage offense against @EdgeRatedR in their #WrestleMania showdown. pic.twitter.com/CFbjTPy5d8
— WWE (@WWE) April 4, 2022
Styles went for another Phenomenal Forearm, but the sudden appearance of Damian Priest briefly distracted Styles. Styles launched himself right into an aerial spear from Edge that earned the three count.
What’s next: After the match, Priest entered the ring. Edge started at him initially, and then both started laughing maniacally. They raised their hands aloft and a new partnership was forged, as Priest apparently doesn’t care about that United States title loss to Finn Balor. We look forward to much goth leather and flame entrances in their future.
Women’s tag-team championship: Naomi & Sasha Banks def. Carmella & Queen Zelina (c), Liv Morgan & Rhea Ripley and Natalya & Shayna Baszler
Naomi and Sasha Banks became women’s tag team champions at WrestleMania 38. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Sasha Banks pinned Carmella and her glittery mask to give The Boss and Naomi the women’s tag-team titles. The finisher was unique as Naomi held Carmella aloft as Banks came off the ropes, did a somersault and landed a Codebreaker on Carmella. This is the third time Banks has held the tag titles.
This was what we typically see in a four-way tag match. There wasn’t really a through line to the finish, but there were some fun spots along the way. Of note: Morgan and Ripley delivering power bombs from opposite corners as the six other competitors were on the turnbuckles.
Also a shoutout to Ripley’s eye makeup, which made her look like she was possessed by Dormammu of the Dark Dimension.
What’s next: The Queen and Carmella will get a return match for the belts, but this could be the start of a productive reign for Naomi and Sasha.
Anything Goes Match — Johnny Knoxville def. Sami Zayn
Johnny Knoxville used a handful of unique weapons during his Anything Goes match against Sami Zayn at WrestleMania 38. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
If you’re going to have the star of “Jackass Forever” perform at WrestleMania, it is best to make it as absolutely absurd as possible. Mission accomplished, as Knoxville defeated Zayn in a match whose preposterousness piled up as fast as Knoxville’s career injuries.
Knoxville, aka “The South Knoxville Strong Guy,” arrived in a red and white superhero costume complete with protective goggles — which we immediately realized were to protect him from the fire extinguisher blast that happened in the first two minutes of the match.
There was a stop sign, garbage can, garbage can lids, a crutch, a cookie sheet, a table broken by an Exploder suplex by Zayn, an air horn used by Knoxville to stop a Helluva Kick, Chris “Party Boy” Pontius in a thong, Wee Man appearing from under the ring before body slamming Zayn and then taking a kick straight to the face, a bowling ball delivered to Zayn’s groin followed by a prosthetic leg with a boot arriving at the same place, a taser and a giant slapping hand that was, as Pat McAfee said, “the size of Wee Man.”
For better or worse, this match had everything.
Knoxville got the win, and the finish was like a “Jackass Forever” deleted scene. Early in the match, Zayn found a table under the ring that had a few dozen mouse traps glued to it. This became “Chekhov’s table full of mousetraps,” as it factored into his eventual demise. Zayn tentatively climbed to the top rope, as Knoxville had previously triggered ring post pyro to spook him. Knoxville arrived with a pair of BBQ tongs to Sami’s most sensitive of areas, and hurled Sami onto the aforementioned mouse trap table.
WEE-MANIA!!!!!!@iamweeman just lifted @SamiZayn up for a body slam at #WrestleMania!@jackassworld pic.twitter.com/yS6tFamh6g
— WWE (@WWE) April 4, 2022
With the help of the Jackass crew, Knoxville brought a giant mouse trap into the ring. He tasered Zayn, who dropped down “where the cheese goes,” according to McAfee. Knoxville had some difficulty triggering the gimmick trap, but eventually sprung it across Sami’s chest for the utterly hilarious pin.
What’s next: Hopefully Knoxville as champion of a revitalized and comedy-centric WWE hardcore division, but probably not. As for Zayn, it’ll be hard to top these comedic heights — how about something a little more serious and a challenge to regain the intercontinental title?
Bobby Lashley def. Omos
Bobby Lashley defeated Omos at WrestleMania 38. @WWE
This match had the weakest build of anything on the two-night card and delivered as such, perhaps in an even more confusing manner than anticipated.
Lashley played the underdog in the match, as Omos was put over as the physically superior competitor. Which, again, would make for a compelling story if it wasn’t for the fact that the sentient bicep standing across from him nicknamed “The Almighty” is anything but a physical underdog.
After a plodding few minutes, Lashley recovered from a bear hug to deliver a no-margin-for-error suplex on the 7-foot-3 Omos, and then delivered a spear and eventually the pin.
What’s next: Bobby Lashley leaves the match looking really strong and powerful, which we already knew about Bobby Lashley. Omos gets absolutely no benefit from this loss, which makes the result even more curious. Why not let Lashley get some power spots in to keep his reputation intact but get Omos the win to build his momentum? Unless there’s no momentum to build, that is?
Raw tag-team championships: RK-Bro (Matt Riddle & Randy Orton) (c) def. The Street Profits and Alpha Academy
Randy Orton catches Chad Gable mid-air and hits an RKO for the win at WrestleMania 38. Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
The opening match on Night 2 whipped the Dallas crowd into a “This is awesome!” chanting frenzy, as a wild no-DQ, no-countout match reached an incredible crescendo.
With Orton down and the ring cleared, Montez Ford prepared for a top-rope finisher. Riddle returned from the outside, jumped up the turnbuckle and delivered a top-rope RKO on Ford, who bounced out of the ring after impact. With Riddle down after the maneuver, Chad Gable of Alpha Academy climbed the ropes to finish Riddle off only to get caught midflight by Orton for an RKO. Orton pinned Gable to end the match and keep the titles with RK-Bro.
SPRINGBOARD RKO FROM THE TOP ROPE!!! 🤯#WrestleMania @SuperKingofBros pic.twitter.com/UYD170YgX6
— WWE (@WWE) April 4, 2022
This was just a really fun, wild, spot-fest between three teams with unique chemistry. Riddle and Orton pulled off a synchronized ropes-assisted DDT. The Profits pulled off a sky-high Blockbuster on Gable. But my favorite “wrestling logic” spot in the match was when Dawkins had Riddle pinned and Otis broke up the pin by body splashing onto Dawkins’ back. Angelo, my dude: You just had 330 pounds added to your pin! Just stay there!
After the match, The Profits returned to the ring for a red solo cup celebration with RK-Bro, inviting 21-year-old WWE rookie Gable Steveson to the ring to join them. However …
What’s next: … Chad Gable returned to the ring and slapped the cup out of Steveson’s hand. Chad told him to “Shoosh!” Steveson suplexed him. And now we have a first feud, between two former Olympians. As for RK-Bro, they could use a fresh feud after this three-way dance.
Triple H Opens The Show
#WrestleMania @TripleH pic.twitter.com/9SeJ9kyhZR
— WWE (@WWE) April 4, 2022
Former WWE star Triple H opened the show with the traditional “Welcome … to WrestleMania!” growling holler, but his surprise appearance to open Night 2 was more poignant than that. After soaking in the cheers from an appreciative crowd — chanting “Thank you, Hunter” — the man known as “The Game” placed his boots in the middle of the ring, signifying the end of his in-ring career.
Triple H first made the announcement to Stephen A. Smith on ESPN’s First Take. The 52-year-old, 14-time world champion previously made an appearance on WrestleMania weekend at NXT Stand & Deliver on Saturday, joining Tommaso Ciampa on stage after his loss to Tony D’Angelo, which is expected to be Ciampa’s final NXT match.