The pandemic has forced the world to adjust. At times, the imposed restrictions have been drastic, but necessary. Things seem to be getting back to some sense of normalcy, but I do wonder what type of “normal� it will be. The WWE has allowed its fans to view their weekly television shows virtually for the past year. However, the company decided to hold their marquee event, WrestleMania, over a two-day span, with a reduced capacity of a little over 25,000 fans each night at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa (under normal circumstances, the stadium can hold over 75,000). The fans witnessed thrilling nights of action, which included some history. The first night began the only way it could have – with a big welcome to the audience.

The entire roster, along with Stephanie McMahon, Triple H, Shane McMahon and the owner, Vince McMahon, were on stage – every one was six feet apart. Vince spoke about how difficult a year it was during the pandemic, with the wrestlers performing without a live audience. Then he said “the most important part of the show has been missing until now – the fans.� With that, the crowd in attendance went crazy. The wrestlers were emotional and excited to perform in front of a live crowd again. Unfortunately, after the speech and a performance of “America the Beautiful� inclement weather caused the show to be delayed for a long while. The company filled time through backstage interviews. Once the weather improved and the “all clear� was given, the crowd returned to their seats and the action began.

The opening match for the WWE championship between the champion, Bobby Lashley and challenger, Drew McIntyre was a hard-hitting one. The end saw Drew pass out after the champion applied the Hurt Lock (full nelson) finisher. In my mind, the company could have given McIntyre the title here before the crowd. At last year’s event, he defeated Brock Lesnar to win his first WWE championship without the presence of a live audience. With the fans in attendance this year, he would have heard the cheers and adulation. But it was not meant to be.

For the first time in his WWE tenure, Cesaro participated in a singles match at the big event. His opponent was Seth Rollins and what an exciting and fast paced match it was. Both men utilized moves fans would expect them to, and added a couple of new ones as well. Seth went to the top rope and performed a corkscrew splash onto a fallen Cesaro. Fans were shocked since he never did that move before. Later in the match, Cesaro performed an airplane spin with no hands. Once he recovered, he applied the Cesaro Swing, rotating his opponent 22 times. He had to have been extremely dizzy afterwards. Cesaro ended the contest after performing the Neutralizer to emerge victorious in his first single match at Mania.

In the main event of the first night, history was made. For the first time, two black women faced off in a singles match at Wrestlemania. Sasha Banks put the Smackdown Women’s title at stake against 2021 Women’s Royal Rumble winner, Bianca Belair. When the two women were being introduced in the ring, they were emotional because of what it meant to them to create that moment. At one point in the match, Belair utilized her extremely long ponytail and loudly whipped Sasha in the ribs with it – that must have been really painful. It literally left a bruise on her ribs. The end came when the champion attempted to climb onto her opponent, but Bianca turned the attempt into her KOD finisher for the win. Bianca Belair emerged as the new Smackdown Women’s Champion. She was ecstatic and became emotional. I am sure that while Sasha lay on the mat recovering from her defeat, she was happy to help make a new star and to be part of history. Knowing this match meant so much, the two should have broken character and embraced in the ring with fireworks exploding.

With the excitement of fans in attendance on night one, and some great moments and memories, everyone awaited the second night. Would there be any title changes? What kind of drama awaited? One of the top matches was for the Raw Women’s title.

It was a hard-fought battle between the champion, Asuka, and her challenger, Rhea Ripley that demonstrated the toughness of both women. Asuka tried to perform a running kick to end the match, but the challenger ducked. Rhea then grabbed the champion and applied her Riptide finisher for the three. Rhea Ripley became the new Raw women’s champion and fans were extremely thrilled with the victory. Last year was her first appearance at WrestleMania. She was the NXT women’s champion going in and lost to Charlotte Flair. Rhea made her Wrestlemania debut in an empty arena because Covid was in its infancy stages. This year, she achieved her win in front of a live audience and became emotional. I felt happy that she received a legitimate WrestleMania moment.

The main event of the night was for the Universal title. The three-way match saw the champion Roman Reigns go against Daniel Bryan, and 2021 Men’s Royal Rumble Match winner, Edge. There were moments in the match when either of the two challengers could have emerged as the new champion, but Roman made sure that was not the case. The match ended with Daniel laying “unconscious� after numerous chair shots from Edge. So, with Bryan out, it was down to Reigns and Edge. The champion took Edge down with a spear. Roman then aggressively attacked his opponent with repeated chair shots. He dragged Edge on top of Daniel, and pinned them both to retain the title in an amazing, and brutal match. So, now the question is who will be the one to dethrone Roman? Maybe Edge gets a one-on-one match in the future. Or maybe someone else steps up in the weeks ahead.

WrestleMania 37 was a tremendous show. It was great to see fans at the event. New champions were crowned. History was made and new champions were crowned. I hope that the WWE will soon be back to working in front of a live, non-virtual audience. The one thing that is key to that – vaccines. So, please when it is your turn, go and get vaccinated. It will help get our lives back to normal and maybe viewers will see full arenas and stadiums in North America again in the not too distant future.

While we wait for the return to attending live events again, we should follow the rules – wear masks, socially distance and wash our hands. I know mask wearing is uncomfortable. Trust me, with my complex respiratory issues, it is very difficult to wear one, but I do so to keep others as well as myself healthy. Please stay safe!

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