Winners, Live Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Night 1

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Welcome to Bleacher Report’s live coverage of the first night of WrestleMania 40 in Philadelphia.

The event is the culmination of over a year of storytelling. Most of the feud has built up in recent months, but Cody Rhodes and Roman Reigns have been feuding intermittently since The American Nightmare won the 2023 men’s Royal Rumble match.

He was unsuccessful last year but managed to win the Rumble for the second time in January and earn another chance at the Undisputed WWE Universal Championship.

Before Rhodes faced The Tribal Chief on Sunday, he took part in a tag team match with Seth Rollins against Reigns and The Rock.

Here’s a look at the full card from Saturday’s show:

  • Rhea Ripley vs. Becky Lynch (Women’s World Championship)
  • Gunther vs. Sami Zayn (Intercontinental Championship)
  • The Judgment Day vs. DIY vs. The Awesome Truth vs. New Catch Republic vs. The New Day vs. A-Town Down Under (Tag Team Championship)
  • jey uso vs jimmy uso
  • Bianca Belair, Jade Cargill and Naomi vs. Asuka, Kairi Sane and Dakota Kai
  • Rey Mysterio and Andrade vs. Santos Escobar and Dominic Mysterio
  • The Rock and Roman Reigns vs. Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins

Let’s take a look at everything that happened during the first night of WrestleMania 40.

After Coco Jones sang the national anthem, Triple H came out to welcome us to the 40th WrestleMania. Lynch made a special entrance reciting selected quotes from his book. Replays were played in the ring by the band Motionless in White.

After the bell they went to work and The Man scored the first big takedown with a flying dropkick that sent the champion out of the ring. The Eradicator took control and began beating Lynch in the corner, but it never seemed like either woman had the upper hand for very long.

These two are known for wanting to have physical matches that push past their limits, so it shouldn’t surprise anyone that they made it feel like a highly competitive fight.

We saw many great individual moves and sequences. Lynch focused all her attention on the arm that Ripley had kept in a cast until Friday to prepare for her finisher, but Ripley locked in her signature reverse cloverleaf before Lynch could apply her trademark armbar.

This was the perfect match to put in a starting spot if it wasn’t going to be in the main event. Both superstars did an excellent job of counting every fall and selling every big move.

After countering a manhandle slam from the middle rope, The Eradicator drove Riptide into the turnbuckle before hitting another in the middle of the ring to pick up the win and retain his title. Mamie would continue her year-long dominance after an excellent match with Lynch. Well done to both women.

Result: Ripley defeated Lynch

Category: A-

Notable moments and observations

  • The two-hour pre-show with zero matches is unnecessary, but they had some good videos to fill the time.
  • Both women had incredible entrances and amazing equipment. For the new look, Ripley also added long extensions to her hair.
  • The way the camera was showing everyone during the entry was interesting. This might have been an 8K camera.
  • Ripley hit a very nice Northern Lights Suplex followed by a great sequence with Lynch countering a suplex into an inside cradle only for Ripley to somehow power her up for a suplex.

Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, R-Truth and The Miz, Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate, Austin Theory and Grayson Waller, and Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods challenged Finn Balor and Damian Priest for the tag titles in a ladder match.

Ladder matches are already chaotic in most cases, but when you have 12 men fighting for two sets of belts. You are about to have something that may be a little difficult to follow but will also be a lot of fun.

Truth had some great comedy spots, including the moment when he thought he won by pinfall. Theory and Waller captured the SmackDown Tag Titles and won them back shortly after the match, but other teams stopped them before they could take the Raw belts.

We can debate until the cows come home whether the right teams won, but the important thing is that the titles are eventually divided and each brand will again have its own set of championships.

We saw some fun spots and moments, but this one won’t add to the long list of ladder matches in WWE. It was a lot of fun and the crowd was getting vocal, but it was mostly a series of big spots that only told a little story.

After being a likable goofball for years, R-Truth finally got his chance at WrestleMania when he won the Raw Tag Team Championship to end an entertaining ladder match.

The Miz climbed the ladder and hugged him to celebrate his victory, while the crowd cheered.

Result: A-Town Down Under wins the SmackDown Tag Titles, Awesome Truth wins the Raw Tag Titles

Category: b

Notable moments and observations

  • Gargano had Shawn Michaels inspired gear and Ciampa looked somewhat like Triple H. He was spending his days with his gear somewhat like Consequences Creed. Priest and Balor had nice masks for their entrances.
  • Michael Cole blaming the entrance video for Dunn and Bate was kind of funny.
  • With the belts hung apart it became almost clear how this would end.
  • Priest brutally takes out Dunn and Bate by using Bate as a missile to send Dunn down a ladder.
  • Waller took a powerbomb out of the ring and through the ladder which looked great.
  • McDonagh took a big hit from the ladder through some tables outside the ring.

Angel, Berto and Elektra Lopez may not have been competing, but they all had new gear and some great looks to accompany Escobar and Dom in the ring. Rey, Andrade and LWO also dressed up in special costumes.

As expected, this was a fast-paced and exciting match. Rey Andrade and Escobar are renowned veterans, and Dom has made major improvements since joining the main roster. All four men wanted to mix some classic Lucha style with WWE’s signature style of wrestling.

While it would have been nice for all of them to be in a big match at ringside, perhaps it was a better idea to keep it as a two-on-two contest so that these four superstars could shine.

The LWO and LDF eventually joined him at ringside and Wilde performed the same slingshot move he has done a few times before. The two masked men prevented Dom from using the chair and allowed Rey to score the 619 and subsequently give Escobar the victory.

The Eagles’ Jason Kelce and Lane Johnson were shown under the mask and celebrated with the victorious Papa Mysterio and El Idolo. It ended up being a little overbooked, but it was an entertaining match with some cameos to attract the local Philly fans.

Result: Rey and Andrade defeated Dom and Escobar

Category: b

Notable moments and observations

  • Escobar’s poncho was really nice. WWE needs to sell them to him, but it probably won’t be that extensive. That would be very expensive.
  • Andrade’s spinning elbow caught in the jaw of Dom Square. It looked really good and Dom sold it well.
  • Andrade and Rey’s double crossbody spot was amazing.
  • Andrade’s Dragon Screw had a little extra spice.
  • A moonsault that Vega attempted to hit on Lopez almost missed.

WrestleMania has previously hosted brother vs. brother matches with Bret vs. Owen Hart and Matt vs. Jeff Hardy, but this was the first time in history that two twins fought at WrestleMania. Nikki and Brie Bella fought on PPV, but never at ‘Mania.

Jey performed a suicide dive before Jimmy could reach the ring to get the action started early. It took a while for Jimmy to get back to his feet, but once he did, he hit some running hip strikes to help his father, Rikishi.

Much of this match was about telling a story, not about delivering the most exciting sequences. Within a few moments, it worked. In others, it seemed as if they were moving very slowly and the crowd seemed to be checking out.

Jey and Jimmy did a good job selling most of the emotional moments, and the crowd woke up quite a bit when Jimmy started begging Jey for forgiveness. Jey picked him up and hugged him, before Jimmy popped him with a superkick and hit the Uso Splash for a two-count.

Once Jey recovered, he hit his Uso Splash and got the pin. It was the right decision not to include Solo Sequoia. It was good, but not good enough for WrestleMania. On any other PPV, it might have had a better reception.

Result: Jay defeated Jimmy

Category: C+

Notable moments and observations

  • The video package of this match was incredible. The WWE production team rarely misses these videos.
  • Lil Wayne came out to play in the ring with Jay.
  • It seemed like a superkick from Jey was a little too much to plan, but Jimmy was fine.

Belair, Cargill and Naomi made great entrances for their match against Kai, Asuka and Sane. They had a special elevator and introductions.

Six-person tag matches usually follow a pattern designed to give all six competitors some time in the ring and at least a moment to shine, so there is usually a predictable flow.

However, none of that matters if the action is good, and with these six athletes, there was a lot to enjoy. Belair was as impressive as ever with her display of power and agility.

When Cargill finally got involved in the match, the crowd erupted and went after all the players on the opposing team. He easily caught Sen in mid-air and hit a backbreaker.

He won for his team in a match that was good, but in less time than expected. With a few more minutes, it would have been more memorable.

Cargill’s WrestleMania debut was a huge success for him. With competitors like these six women, the future of women’s wrestling in WWE looks very bright.

Result: Cargill, Naomi and Belair defeat Damage Ctrl

Category: B-

Notable moments and observations

  • Everyone’s gear, hair and paint looked incredible.
  • Belair hitting a moonsault on all three opponents was a fun spot.
  • Cargill’s backbreaker looked great for Sane. Sane sold it like a pro.

Kevin Owens was there to wish Zayn good luck before he came to the ring to challenge Gunther for the Intercontinental Championship.

Zayn took the first strike and landed several chops to take down The Ring General. He looked to surprise Gunther with his aggression, but a German suplex completely took away his momentum.

Zayn is a natural babyface, but against a monster heel like Gunther, he becomes even more of an underdog. A huge crowd followed him and raised slogans several times to show support.

They structured this match exactly as you would expect. The champion would dominate for a few minutes at a time, Zayn would make a comeback, and then Gunther would find a way to counter him and restart the cycle.

Both men were showing numerous bruises and bumps, but what was surprising was how much more Gunther’s chest was red than Zane’s as the Austrian is usually the one with the bruises. It was as physical as expected, and the inclusion of Zayn’s family heightened the emotions even further.

Zayn survived some of Gunther’s biggest moves, including a huge clothesline and two brutal powerbombs. The winner became more frustrated and started punishing Zain by talking trash to his wife. He was toying with his opponent, but Zayn started showing signs of life.

He knocked Gunther out with a Helluva Kick and then a Super Brainbuster. He defeated Gunther with two more Helluva Kicks to get the pin and the win. After a physical and emotional match, Zayn is our new Intercontinental Champion. Gunther’s epic reign was finally ended by The Underdog From The Underground.

Result: Zane defeated Gunther


Notable moments and observations

  • Zayn was shown backstage with his child and wife before heading to the ring. Chad Gable wished him good luck but said Zayn didn’t need him at ringside.
  • The announcers made several references rocky 4, Which was even funnier when Woods had gear that looked similar to Apollo Creed’s in those movies.
  • A small percentage of wrestlers bite so loudly that you can hear it, no matter how loud the crowd is. Gunther is one of those people.

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