2022 WWE WrestleMania 38 results, Night 1 grades: Steve Austin wrestles surprise match, Cody Rhodes returns

An already wild Night 1 of WrestleMania hit an entirely new gear in the final segment of the show when Steve Austin’s appearance on Kevin Owens’ “KO Show” turned into an impromptu No Holds Barred match. The match was a fan-friendly capper for the packed crowd of more than 70,000 fans at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Austin and Owens brawled in and around the ring before heading through the crowd, taking advantage of the lack of rules and a physically limited Austin. The final payoff was a good one, with Austin putting Owens down for good with a stunner before celebrating what is likely his final match ever in front of his fellow Texans.

CBS Sports was with you the whole way through the event, providing updates and highlights as the action went down in the live blog below.

WWE WrestleMania 38 results, grades for Night 1

SmackDown Tag Team Championship — The Usos (c) vs. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs: Nakamura got things rolling to start the match but The Usos quickly turned the table and isolated the former intercontinental champion away from Boogs. Nakamura was able to get the hot tag to Boogs, who quickly took out both Jimmy and Jey before hitting a big delayed suplex on Jimmy Uso for the first real near fall of the match. Boogs attempted to put both Uses up in a fireman’s carry but his knee gave out. This gave The Usos momentum and Jimmy Uso nearly scored the win with a Uso Splash on Nakamura. Boogs never returned to the match, and WWE later announced Boogs had suffered a torn quad-patellar tendon The Usos soon scored the win after hitting their version of the 3D. Unfortunate stuff with the injury and it caused the end of the match to fall together oddly and in a rushed fashion. According to the announcement, Boogs will have surgery in the coming days to repair the injury. The Uses (c) def. Shinsuke Nakamura & Rick Boogs via pinfall to retain the titles. Grade: C-

Drew McIntyre vs. Happy Corbin: After a brief brawl segment to start the match, Corbin took over and hit McIntyre with a vertical suplex followed by a back suplex. McIntyre continued to eat punches from Corbin before Madcap Moss attempted to celebrate with Corbin, causing enough of an accidental distraction that McIntyre started his comeback with a spinebuster. Corbin was able to cut off the comeback fairly quickly when he scored a near fall off a Deep Six. Momentum continued to swing before McIntyre set up for the Claymore only for Moss to pull Corbin from the ring for the save. McIntyre would miss with a Claymore and fall right into End of Days but McIntyre kicked out at two. A shocked Corbin would eat a Claymore moments later, giving McIntyre the win. A fun midcard match with some solid momentum swings and a good false finish off the End of Days. The right kind of WrestleMania midcard action. After the match, McIntyre attempted to slash Moss with his sword but only managed to cut through the two top ropes. Drew McIntyre def. Happy Corbin via pinfall. Grade: B

The Mysteries vs. The Miz & Logan Paul: Paul showed off some impressive athleticism early on, leapfrogging Rey Mysterio multiple times before hitting a split mid-ring. That only served to get Paul kicked in the head, however, and he was forced to tag out to Miz. Paul continued to show off some impressive moves, including drilling Dominik Mysterio with a running powerslam and a blockbuster. While Miz and Paul used several cheap tactics to keep control, the Mysterios kept fighting back, using a variety of DDTs and speed-based moves to continue to fight back. In a moment of cheap heel heat, Paul hit Rey with the Three Amigos and a frog splash with an Eddie Guerrero shimmy. The Guerreros responded by hitting Paul with a tandem 619 but they missed a blind tag by the Miz, who was able to sneak into the ring and hit a Skull-Crushing Finale on Rey to get the win. After the match, Miz turned on Paul and hit him with a Skull-Crushing Finale. Unsurprisingly, a celebrity match at WrestleMania was a fun ride. Paul being a young, athletic performer certainly didn’t hurt anything. The Miz & Logan Paul def. The Mysteries via pinfall. Grade: B

Raw Women’s Championship — Becky Lynch (c) vs. Bianca Belaire: The Texas Southern University marching band performed ahead of Belair’s entrance, adding a big-match feel. Lynch hit the Manhandle Slam seconds into the match, calling back to her ultra-quick win from Ella at SummerSlam. Belair was able to kick out this time, however. The early sprint saw a lot of fast pin attempts before the match spilled to ringside and Lynch sent Belair into the ring steps. Lynch used this momentum to hit several big moves, including a guillotine legdrop as Belair was draped over the top rope. Belair came back after the early run for Lynch, hitting the double chicken wing slam and the rebound moonsault for a near fall. Belair placed Lynch on her shoulders in a fireman’s carry and took her to the second rope before dropping her on the top rope. That set up another near fall for Belair after hitting a second-rope 450 splash. Lynch hit her own big move, coming off the turnbuckle with a flipping kick to her face. Lynch countered the KOD by grabbing the top rope and shortly after hit Belair with a Manhandle Slam on the ring steps at ringside. That failed to get Lynch the win and she began to lose her composure from her. Lynch again went for the Manhandle Slam but Belair kicked off the turnbuckle into a backflip to escape before hitting the KOD to get the win. The crowd was absolutely mad for the finish and the match was fantastic. Belair already has a true legacy at WrestleMania. In a just world, she is the next wrestler to have an Undertaker-style “streak” at WrestleMania. Bianca Belair def. Becky Lynch (c) via pinfall to win the title. Grade: A+

Seth Rollins vs. Cody Rhodes: Rollins reacted with surprise but not a complete meltdown as Rhodes was revealed as his mystery opponent. The crowd was also hot for the return and the two men mixed it up with some back-and-forth work as Rhodes stayed a step ahead early. After both men spilled to the outside after a suplex over the top rope, things slowed a bit as Rhodes started to work on Rollins’ arm. Rollins was able to get back in control of the match, taunting Rhodes along the way by telling him, “Welcome back to the big leagues.” Rhodes stormed back with a suicide dive on Rollins to the outside. The two continued to brawl before Rollins got rolling back in the ring, eventually hitting a falcon arrow for a near fall. Rhodes countered the stomp multiple times before finally hitting Cross Rhodes only for Rollins to kick out. The match became a war of convincing near falls, with Rollins hitting a pedigree and having Rhodes kick out before screaming that Rhodes was in his house and his company. Rhodes would respond by hitting Cross Rhodes twice before a bionic elbow and one final Cross Rhodes to pick up the win. The match got a bit sloppy, especially down the stretch but as a moment, it served its purpose quite well. It will be interesting to see how WWE handles Rhodes being back beyond this night. Cody Rhodes def. Seth Rollins via pinfall. Grade: B+

SmackDown Women’s Championship — Charlotte Flair (c) vs. Ronda Rousey: Rousey tried to flurry with strikes early but Flair used a ref break to get a cheap shot in and take over momentum. Rousey came back with fire, going at Flair with a big judo throw and then locking up a reverse triangle choke in the ropes before Flair was able to take over with an attack on the ring apron. Flair blasted Rousey with a right forearm to the side of the head and locked in a variation of a dragon sleeper before an arm throw by Rousey and a knee to Flair’s face for a near fall. Flair picked up a near fall with a spear on a celebrating Rousey. As both women kept throwing big moves at each other, Rousey hit an armdrag from the ropes before Piper’s Pit but Flair avoided the follow-up attempt at an armbar.

Rousey finally locked in the ankle lock but Flair was able to escape the hold and nearly score a pin before Rousey countered with an armbar and pulled Flair face-first into the bottom turnbuckle. Rousey again went for an armbar, setting up a scramble of reversals before Rousey was able to lock in the ankle lock again. Flair fought out with a series of kicks to the face. Another scramble of submissions led to Flair locking in the Figure-Eight, which Rousey rolled through to break by falling from the ring. Rousey hit another Piper’s Pit and Flair was able to get her foot from her on the bottom rope. As Rousey complained, Flair hit Natural Selection for a near fall. As Flair set up the Figure-Eight again, Rousey kicked her off into the referee, who then missed Flair tapping to an armbar. As Rousey attempted to revive the referee, Flair hit her with a big boot to pick up the win. The match was a bit sloppy and structured oddly, going for more drama than it delivered but was not bad in any way either. Charlotte Flair (c) def. Ronda Rousey via pinfall to retain the title. Grade: B-

Steve Austin vs. Kevin Owens: Owens came to the ring and cut a promo before the planned “KO Show” segment, saying maybe he went too far with his anti-Texas trash talk. He then said he was sorry for “telling the absolute God’s honest truth” about the state and that Texas is even worse than he remembered. Austin’s music hit and cut Owens off, drawing an enormous pop from the Texas faithful. After soaking in the reaction on the stage, Austin left and returned on an ATV, circling the ring before entering and going corner to corner celebrating.

Austin took his seat on the KO Show set and ran down Owens for his “stupid haircut” and trash talk about Texas, calling Owens a “stupid son of a b—h.” After some back and forth trash talk, Owens said that, in reality, he tricked Austin and didn’t want to talk. Instead, Owens said, he was looking for a fight. Owens challenged Austin to a match, saying that Austin had no reason to turn down a No Holds Barred match on the spot. After Owens continued trash-talking Austin, Austin called for a referee and the match began.
The two men started off trading punches before Austin stomped a mudhole in Owens while he was down in the corner. Austin continued bringing the fight, tossing Owens from the ring and repeatedly calling for mid-match beers. The brawl continued outside the ring, with Owens getting the better of the brawl briefly before they went into the crowd, with Austin’s punches and chops wearing Owens down. Owens put Austin down on the outside with a suplex on the concrete. Austin wouldn’t be kept down, however and stormed back, dumping Owens on the announce table and forcing him to retreat to Austin’s ATV. Austin gave Owens a ride up the stage and punished him on the entrance stage, hitting multiple suplexes.

The action returned to the ring where Owens hit a stunner out of nowhere after Austin chugged a few beers but Austin managed to kick out. Owens left the ring to grab a steel chair but missed Austin, hitting himself in the face as the chair rebounded off the top rope. Austin hit a stunner, scoring the pinfall to win the match. As a pure wrestling match, this wasn’t anywhere near the best of either man’s career. As a purely “special moment” that played to the fans and the “big moments” of WrestleMania, it was fantastic. Given Austin’s physical limitations — the impact of a long history of knee injuries was particularly clear throughout — you can’t ask for a much better “walk and brawl” style match. Steve Austin defends Kevin Owens via pinfall. Grade: A


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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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