WWE WrestleMania 2022: Will Sunday's Matches Be Able to Top Saturday's Card?
WrestleMania 38 is once again a two-night affair, and Saturday's action set a pretty high bar for Night 2.
While the opening night wasn't flawless, and some of the early matches could be considered throwaways, the quality ramped up with the Raw Women's Championship match between Bianca Belair and Becky Lynch.
Belair and Lynch put on a clinic of momentum shifts, false finishes and in-ring storytelling. Lynch looked to finish the match early with a flurry of offense, but the stronger Belair managed to outlast and eventually defeat the champion. It was a tremendous match that kick-started a strong finish to Saturday night.
The (perhaps not-so) surprising WWE return of Cody Rhodes brought a ton of energy to the AT&T Stadium crowd. His match with Seth Rollins lived up to the hype too, with both men feeding off the crowd, trading big moves and looking very evenly matched. Rhodes got the win and appears poised for a big push moving forward.
The SmackDown Women's Championship match between Ronda Rousey and Charlotte Flair brought the energy down a little, but it was a solid mix of physical fighting and technical wrestling. The finish—before Flair won, she tapped to Rousey's armbar, but the ref was down and unaware—left plenty unsettled in this ongoing feud.
Then, we got the return of "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in what was supposed to be an appearance on The KO Show, but it turned into a no-holds-barred street fight with Kevin Owens. It wasn't a technical masterpiece, but it was a fun brawl and a welcome return after 19 years for Austin. It was a fantastic finish to Night 1 and left plenty for Sunday to live up to.
It's hard to imagine Sunday's card being more impressive, but these three highly anticipated matches could help put it on par with Saturday.
Fatal 4-Way for the Women's Tag Team Championship
When done well, tag matches carry a rhythm and artistic flow that can't be replicated by singles competition. Saturday's SmackDown Tag Team Championship match between The Usos and the team of Shinsuke Nakamura and Rick Boogs was a great example of teammates working well together—though it was ended prematurely when Boogs suffered a knee injury that very well could be legitimate.
Fans will get another dose of tag action Sunday in a four-way women's match. Queen Zelina and Carmella will defend their titles against the teams of Naomi and Sasha Banks, Natalya and Shayna Baszler, and Rhea Ripley and Liv Morgan.
Four-way matches can be gimmicky—at least one team is usually knocked out of the action for an extended period—but there's a ton of talent in this one. If all eight women are afforded time to shine, this could make for an incredible display.
This could also make for a memorable moment for Banks, who has yet to win in six WrestleMania matches. There's no guarantee that Banks and Naomi will come out on top, but it's a logical direction for WWE to take.
Banks lost in last year's WrestleMania Saturday main event to Belair, and she was reportedly pushed to the side by Rousey's return to the company.
"It was Charlotte Flair, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and Bianca Belair as the big programs, but then Ronda Rousey came back, so she kinda got that Sasha Banks spot," Dave Meltzer said on Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Gunjan Nath of RingsideNews).
At the very least, fans should be invested in this one.
AJ Styles vs. Edge
Sunday's battle between AJ Styles and Edge has legitimate "match of the night" potential, as both are incredible workers capable of carrying various styles in a match (no pun intended).
Styles is an industry icon who shined in virtually every other big promotion before signing the WWE in 2016. While he joined the company late in his career, Styles still has plenty left in the tank and tends to wow crowds on a regular basis.
At 44 years old, though, Styles is nearing the end of his prime.
"You know, the ability to put on great matches is getting a little bit harder. So, I don't want to embarrass myself at the same time; I want to get out while I can and still have somewhat of a legacy," Styles told TalkSPORT's Alex McCarthy (h/t James Holder of Inside the Ropes).
Don't expect Styles to hold anything back under the bright lights of WrestleMania.
The 48-year-old Edge is in a second career of sorts, following his 2011 retirement because of neck injuries. However, the 2021 Royal Rumble champion is still a solid performer and seems reinvigorated by his recent heel turn.
Fans should expect a fair bit of high-flying action coupled with hard hits and good storytelling when these two legends enter the ring.
WWE and Universal Championship Unification Match
As far as stakes go, Sunday's main event match between Brock Lesnar and Roman Reigns tops everything on the card. The long-running feud between these two brings plenty to the bout, but the WWE also plans to unify its two biggest titles.
Reigns currently holds the Universal Championship, while Lesnar holds the WWE Championship. Sunday's match is a winner-take-all bout that will put both belts on the victor.
While the Styles vs. Edge match should feature plenty of high-flying spots and technical savvy, this match should have neither. It's going to be a brutal battle between two very large men beating the heck out of one another—and that's OK.
The physicality and star power of Lesnar and Reigns should help carry a match that could have its fair of twists and turns.
At the Royal Rumble, manager Paul Heyman betrayed Lesnar and aligned himself with Reigns, adding fuel to the growing rivalry. We may see Heyman interfere once again, and we may see Lesnar get his revenge on his former ally. We could also see interference from The Usos who, with Reigns, form The Bloodline.
Ideally, this match wouldn't be a drawn-out affair akin to the Lesnar-Goldberg snoozefest at WrestleMania XX. A fast-paced, concise match would serve these two best. However, if they can pack enough hard-hitting highlights and ringside twists in a short time, Lesnar and Reigns can provide a strong finish to what is shaping up to be a memorable WrestleMania.
Don't expect Sunday to outshine what we saw Saturday, but it shouldn't be an anticlimactic event either.