Best and Worst Booking Decisions of WWE WrestleMania 38 Match Card Results

Anthony Mango@@ToeKneeManGoFeatured ColumnistApril 4, 2022

Best and Worst Booking Decisions of WWE WrestleMania 38 Match Card Results

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    The biggest weekend of the year is over with the epic conclusion of WrestleMania 38.

    Some moments become iconic and couldn't have happened any other way, with the logical finale to bitter rivalries playing out the way everyone hoped. Other decisions have fans questioning what WWE Creative was thinking when the writers and producers thought of the garbage they put out.

    For better or worse, let's look back on this two-night extravaganza and pinpoint the best and worst booking decisions that were most worthy of immense applause and boos so loud it would make a crowd lose its voice.

Full Results for Both Nights

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    WrestleMania Saturday Results

    • The Usos defeated Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs by pinfall to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championship
    • Drew McIntyre defeated Happy Corbin by pinfall.
    • The Miz and Logan Paul defeated Dominik Mysterio and Rey Mysterio by pinfall.
    • Bianca Belair defeated Becky Lynch by pinfall to win the Raw Women's Championship.
    • Cody Rhodes defeated Seth Rollins by pinfall.
    • Charlotte Flair defeated Ronda Rousey by pinfall to retain the SmackDown Women's Championship.
    • No Holds Barred match: "Stone Cold" Steve Austin defeated Kevin Owens by pinfall.


    WrestleMania Sunday Results

    • RK-Bro defeated The Street Profits and Alpha Academy by pinfall to retain the Raw Tag Team Championship.
    • Bobby Lashley defeated Omos by pinfall.
    • Anything Goes Match: Johnny Knoxville defeated Sami Zayn by pinfall.
    • Fatal 4-Way Match: Sasha Banks and Naomi defeated Queen Zelina and Carmella (c), Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan, and Natalya and Shayna Baszler by pinfall to win the Women's Tag Team Championship.
    • Edge defeated AJ Styles by pinfall.
    • Sheamus and Ridge Holland defeated The New Day by pinfall.
    • Pat McAfee defeated Austin Theory by pinfall.
    • Vince McMahon defeated Pat McAfee by pinfall.
    • Winner Take All Championship Unification Match: Universal champion Roman Reigns defeated WWE champion Brock Lesnar by pinfall.

Honorable Mentions

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    Thankfully, WWE had more positives than negatives over this weekend. Not everything can make the list, but here are a few other good decisions that are worth briefly giving credit to.

    • Drew McIntyre absolutely needed to beat Happy Corbin, and it was fun to see him slice through the ropes with his sword.
    • Teaming Damian Priest with Edge could be great for both Superstars, and his distraction helps AJ Styles justify a rematch.
    • While it does nothing for Omos, who may be dead in the water now that his unstoppable illusion has been shattered, it was smart to give Bobby Lashley the win. Now, The All Mighty is an even more credible contender for Roman Reigns in the future.
    • Johnny Knoxville's win over Sami Zayn was pure fun. It doesn't hurt Zayn at all to lose in this silly match.
    • It was nice to see some time dedicated to Triple H leaving his boots in the ring for his retirement.

Best: Cody Rhodes Beats Seth Rollins

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    Imagine the riots that would have broken out if anything else would have happened other than Cody Rhodes beating Seth Rollins.

    Had it been a different challenger or if The Messiah had come out on top, fans would have been furious.

    WrestleMania—and WWE as a whole—is at its best when the big moments deliver on the expectation or exceed them. If the buzz is about something as monumental as The American Nightmare jumping ship from AEW and then WWE had just gone with Goldberg, the segment would have been a chorus of boos.

    WWE is also tempted at times to swerve the crowd, go with the disappointing outcome and point and laugh with a "gotcha" attitude. All that does is rub people the wrong way, rather than build more intrigue for a rematch. It would have made Rhodes look like he made a bad decision and pulled the rug out from under him.

    The smart move was going with the predictable but overwhelmingly more joyous outcome. Rhodes scored a big win in more ways than one, and hearing him talk on Raw and seeing what's next for him will be a major draw made even better now that he has momentum on his side.

Best: Bianca Belair Beats Becky Lynch for the Raw Women's Championship

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    After WWE decided to have Becky Lynch dethrone Bianca Belair in short fashion at SummerSlam 2021, a dark cloud hovered over those two. When would WWE right that wrong, give Belair the title back and allow her to get revenge on Big Time Becks?

    Several failed attempts to regain her championship and all the passing weeks made this fester to a point where Belair absolutely had to win this match, or it could have killed her career going forward. She would have been viewed as peaking at the level just below The Four Horsewomen, rather than their equal.

    Now that she's beaten both Lynch and Sasha Banks, The EST of WWE's star is shining brighter than ever before.

    Babyfaces winning titles at WrestleMania is almost always a good thing outright, but that's made even better when the belt goes to someone as deserving as Belair. She just checks all the boxes of what a WWE Superstar should be so well that the company should never get in the way of her success ever again.

    Let this be the start of an even better run than the last time. Give her more opponents to work with instead of just two feuds with Bayley and Carmella stretched out over months and let her continue to ride this wave.

Best: No Holds Barred Match with Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Kevin Owens

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    WWE never advertised Kevin Owens and Steve Austin as having a match. If this had just been a KO Show segment, it technically wouldn't have been a lie, but fans who got their hopes up for something more would have been beyond disappointed.

    Enough teases were given to justify the hype for a potential match, and WWE was smart enough not to try to milk this for another time. All too often, WWE gives fans close to what they want in the hopes of returning to it later for the full experience later and splitting the difference and watering things down so there are two mediocre segments or matches, rather than one good one.

    Here, the talking was kept short and it led straight into a No Holds Barred match. This covered Stone Cold's inability to wrestle a match as if he were an NXT rookie and allowed him to play to his strengths, brawling around the arena with one of the best and most trustworthy talents on the roster.

    Owens losing was the right decision, as was having him take the pin after a chair shot and a Stunner. He didn't look weak at all, and the fans got everything they could have asked for.

Best: Everything with Pat McAfee

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    Following up from Austin's main event of WrestleMania Saturday, WWE hit every nail on the head with the Pat McAfee vs. Austin Theory block of Night 2.

    McAfee yet again proved himself a natural athlete and wowed audiences with his performance. While you can argue it's a shame Theory had to lose, he's still a main roster rookie and this won't ruin his push. He'll bounce back just fine.

    Giving the win to McAfee allowed Vince McMahon to get involved to make up for Theory's loss. That impromptu match was far from the best in the ring but the spectacle of it was huge, and it delivered on the hearsay and speculation leading up to WrestleMania that the chairman would wrestle.

    McMahon winning makes sense. He's the company's top heel of all time. McAfee had just wrestled and only beat Theory with a roll-up, so he was already spent and McMahon just took advantage of his weakened state.

    Even better, it helped set up the comeuppance. You have to send the crowd home happy and there was no better way than to rekindle the Austin and McMahon feud, since the Attitude Era was the biggest time in this company's history.

    This played into the Austin and Austin dynamic to cross that off the list, giving Theory another moment to be proud of and kept in true nature to Stone Cold's rivalry with the boss. Of course he was going to give him a Stunner. He had to. And now, we have McMahon's awful selling of the Stunner as an unintentional most hilarious moment of the year, too.

    As the cherry on top, Austin has proved you can never trust him, so to see him lay out McAfee to end the segment was perfect.

Best: Roman Reigns Beats Brock Lesnar

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    To say Roman Reigns needed to beat Brock Lesnar would be to repeat something that has been said numerous times over the years, but now, it was even more necessary than ever before.

    Not only would The Beast Incarnate make no sense as a unified champion for both brands going forward just as far as his part-time schedule would allow, it would also mean all the good will and effort put into building The Tribal Chief would have been for nothing but servicing the guy who already is one of the most protected, decorated and longest-running champions of all time who ended The Undertaker's WrestleMania streak.

    Lesnar didn't need this whatsoever for his body of work to be unparalleled. But Reigns couldn't afford to lose and work his way back to this level. This was the true test of whether he's the guy or still teetering slightly below that level.

    Now, even though he won with some shenanigans involved, he is in the record books as beating an absolute juggernaut to unify the titles. He's shattering records left and right and has become undeniable.

    Reigns is indeed The Head of the Table. Acknowledge him.

Middle-of-the-Road Decisions

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    A few decisions may have been the best-case scenario or could be looked at in hindsight as mistakes, but that depends on what happens next. Within the bubble of these two nights in and of themselves, it is too hard to tell with the following.

    Did Ronda Rousey lose just to have a rematch at WrestleMania Backlash and stretch this out? That could be disappointing. Was it because Rousey will work a schedule that doesn't make sense for her to be champion? Did WWE lessen the impact of winning the Royal Rumble for a good reason, or did she take up that spot just to fail and have this all be for nothing?

    Were Rick Boogs and Shinsuke Nakamura going to win the SmackDown Tag Team Championship? If so, having The Usos retain on the fly was the right call, rather than go with Nakamura winning for his team and having to relinquish the titles right after. Or was this originally planned to be The Usos retaining and starting WrestleMania off with heels retaining in a bit of a downer?

    Why did The Miz and Logan Paul win, just for The Miz to turn on Paul? That's a downer that seemingly sets up a babyface turn for The Miz and a future match between those two. That could be great or terrible, and it remains to be seen if and how The Mysterios bounce back from this loss.

Worst: Leaving the US and Intercontinental Championships off the Card

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    If there is truly going to be one world champion going forward, the Intercontinental and United States Championships will have to matter more as the next best things, but they are in a terrible position right now.

    How was there room on the card for as many recaps and filler segments, but the best WWE could do for Ricochet was to lazily set him up for a match against Los Lotharios the week prior to SmackDown? How was Damian Priest not given a rematch for the United States Championship and he and Finn Balor just thrown into the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on Friday night?

    This diminishes the value of these titles drastically. The Intercontinental Championship had already not been defended a single time on a pay-per-view since last year's WrestleMania, and everyone can tell these are afterthoughts.

    WWE can't just ignore these belts and then tell fans they're prestigious on a whim and have everyone buy into it. Perception is reality. When WWE isn't interested enough in the people holding the titles and perpetually sidelines them, that means those Superstars and the championships mean less and less as time goes on.

    Either put the belts on people you care about so the titles are elevated, or give the belts to someone you want to elevate and don't expect merely holding it to be good enough.

    Just like wrestling on the kickoff doesn't hold the same weight as being on the main card and everyone knows it, no matter how WWE would like to spin it, the same goes for not being involved in WrestleMania. Wrestling on SmackDown just isn't the same and when fans aren't into Balor or Ricochet, WWE will think that's a reflection of those wrestlers failing, rather than its own fault in setting them up for failure and not giving them the tools to succeed.

    It was a bad decision to leave both titles off a two-night WrestleMania, and it won't age well over time for these championships to look back and have that in their history.

Worst: The New Day vs. Ridge Holland and Sheamus

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    With the amount of filler content on these two nights, how was The New Day vs. Ridge Holland and Sheamus given such little time?

    There were two hours of pre-show nonsense both nights when nothing at all happened. It was just video packages and interviews with football players and TikTok people running down the card.

    When you combine that with the same video packages airing prior to each match as well as all the recap footage airing in place of Peacock commercials (which makes you feel great to spend the extra money just to get WWE ads instead of Peacock ads, by the way), nearly five full hours of content was meaningless.

    Knowing that and seeing how this tag team match was cut from the first night for time constraints, then shortened to less than two minutes on Sunday means WWE just didn't care.

    Ideally, all this filler could have been cut out in favor of those two missing title matches and the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal as well as more time for this tag team match.

    As it played out, if WWE didn't want to carve out any time for it, it shouldn't have been on the lineup to begin with. Worse off, why did the heels win just to bum out the audience after Big E's neck injury, instead of at least giving The New Day a bittersweet victory in honor of their partner?

    What's sad is we know how this will play out. WWE will try to make up for this by running it back with more time on Raw or SmackDown, promote it as a "big-time WrestleMania rematch" and all the fans will roll their eyes, make fun of it on Twitter and not care whatsoever.


    Anthony Mango is the owner of the wrestling website Smark Out Moment and the host of the podcast show Smack Talk on YouTube, iTunes and Stitcher. You can follow him on Facebook and elsewhere for more.