WrestleMania 39: Biggest Winners, Losers From WWE’s Hollywood Weekend

The post-Mania direction isn't very clear -- in and outside the ring


Apr 3, 2023

WWE’s WrestleMania weekend in Los Angeles will go down as one of the biggest in the history of the pro wrestling company.

The two-night extravaganza was an absolute goldmine for WWE with fans jam-packing SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., on both Saturday and Sunday night. That’s expected to give way to an announcement Monday of a WWE sale to Endeavor, the same company that owns UFC. The result, in addition to a massive payday for Vince McMahon and company, is a combat sports conglomerate between the two iconic brands.

But before we look ahead, let’s look back on WrestleMania weekend and highlight some winners and losers from the two-night event.

Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley
There were plenty of contenders for the match of the weekend, but this history-making showdown takes the cake. These two beat the hell out of each other in the best possible way. Ripley is the company’s next superstar, and Flair’s performance reflected as much. The latter bumped her face off to make Ripley look incredible. It almost felt like the duo was trying to put on an even better show after not getting the main-event spot on Night 1.

Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn
The incredible storytelling involving these two and the Bloodline came to an incredible crescendo Saturday night. The payoff was fantastic with a memorable match among four elite performers. Owens and especially Zayn are the most over stars on the entire roster now. It will be fascinating to see what’s next for them, whether they firmly break off into the tag division or whether they remain somehow tied to The Bloodline saga.

The Mysterio family
What a weekend for Rey Mysterio, huh? On Friday night, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. One night later, he got to have a legitimately fantastic WrestleMania match with his son, Dominik Mysterio, before celebrating in the ring with his wife and daughter.

The Miz
There wasn’t much in the way of value added from The Miz, but this is a general bit of appreciation for a guy who apparently never says no to anything he’s asked in that company. From hosting to commercials to actually performing in-ring, his versatility is an asset.

Michael Cole
The ringside announcer not only screamed his face off for four or five hours straight each night, his storytelling and emotion added to the biggest moments of the weekend.

Finn Balor
His Hell in a Cell match with Edge was really good, but Balor deserves praise for finishing the match after taking a ladder to the head, an injury that required him to get staples in the top of his head during the match. That’s definitely going to leave a mark.

Austin Theory
Technically, Theory will get to tout in promos the fact that he beat John Cena at WrestleMania. But there was literally nothing memorable about his curtain-jerking win on Night 1 over the 16-time world champion. The build was forgettable, too, with the only notable moment of the entire feud being Cena running down Theory in accepting the match. Theory, despite what the company tries to portray, remains tough to believe as a legitimate star and this did him no favors in that regard.

John Cena
It’s easy to understand how and why Cena was involved. Filling two cards is no easy task, and having your most famous wrestler on to open a two-night extravaganza makes sense. But again, there was nothing noteworthy about the legend’s most recent return. Cena appeared just once in the lead-up, and this match was “meh” at best. He did put over a young performer, but this just felt like John Cena for John Cena’s sake. (His entrance was, however, fantastic.)

Shane McMahon
After getting a hero’s welcome in a surprise return for an impromptu match with The Miz, Shane O’Mac promptly tore his quad, leaving Miz and Snoop Dogg to improvise on the fly (what a strange sentence). Anyway, at least the younger McMahon can lean on his father and brother-in-law for tips on the recovery process.

The draw of Omos is … he’s a huge human being? Thirty years ago, that would be a lot cooler, but that doesn’t mean quite as much these days, especially if you’re an average worker at best. He did, however, perform his role — someone to facilitate Brock Lesnar’s feats of strength — pretty well.

The women’s tag division
The women’s tag belts weren’t even defended this weekend with hot-shot champions, Becky Lynch and Lita, participating in the six-women match with Trish Stratus and Damage CTRL. That match was just fine. The showcase tag match on Sunday night emphasized the lack of depth in this division. For all of Paul Levesque’s wins since taking over creative, the women’s tag division trails behind.

Change at the top
No, we’re not talking about the sale. We’re talking about the main event of Sunday night. Everyone thought Cody Rhodes was walking out of SoFi with the title belts; even the betting markets had it wrong. Everyone except for those making the decision, of course. In the end, Levesque and the rest of the creative team apparently think there’s more story to tell with Roman Reigns holding the straps. They certainly know more than us when it comes to these sorts of things, but what a letdown. Rhodes winning that match seemed like the perfect story, in a lot of ways similar to how Zayn winning in Montreal at Elimination Chamber seemed like the perfect story. Instead, two red-hot crowds go home feeling a bit let down because the night ended the same way it has for three years with Reigns victorious. Perhaps they like the idea of Reigns having a 1,000-day reign, and maybe this does work out in the end. But it’s hard to believe, at least in the immediate aftermath, that there’s going to be a better spot to flip the title down the road.

Thumbnail photo via Joe Camporeale/USA TODAY Sports Images
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