7 Match Star Ratings From WWE WrestleMania 40 Night 1

GUNTHER is the real Final Boss - but the Rock got there in the end.


The build to WrestleMania was incredibly strong at the top. 

The Killers In The Jungle act was too good for its own good, in that the Rock vastly overshadowed Roman Reigns and even referred to himself as the Final Boss when Cody Rhodes has to literally get through him to get to Roman Reigns. The Rock swearing his head off and being the most charismatic overlord in modern wrestling history and doing blood angles just because he goddamn can: in WWE, it gets no better than that. 

Elsewhere on Night 1, before the last week of build felt far too contrived, WWE did a commendable job of making Rhea Ripley Vs. Becky Lynch feel like a huge changing of the guard. Both women felt like major stars, and Ripley, through the storyline, stood a great chance of getting herself over as the biggest female in WWE history - result and performance depending. 

GUNTHER Vs. Sami Zayn was clearly not the original plan and sadly felt that way on the eve of the show. WWE, by foreshadowing the Chad Gable heel turn and having GUNTHER run a distraction, produced lightweight television and failed to create the all-important sense of doubt. 

Jey Uso Vs. Jimmy Uso was the biggest doubt. That storyline bombed, and since Jimmy was cast as a clown half the time, never once felt like a true blood feud. Did it bomb? 

And did the Rock's muscles remain intact...?

7. Rhea Ripley Vs. Becky Lynch - Women's World Championship

The Rock three stars

Rhea Ripley went over Becky Lynch in a match that felt a touch weird, for the first few minutes, since the crowd were firmly on the side of the heel. 

They wanted their "mami" and, writing from the perspective of somebody who sat in the crowd, it was disturbing to hear live. The fans weren't into Becky's struggle and weren't impressed by Becky's genuinely creative attempts to transition into the Disarm her. The stadium setting and wonky dynamic meant those sequences felt flat in the opening third. The match did at times descend into factory settings WWE - finisher, near-fall, shocked kick-out face - but it progressed into something distinctly and wonderfully violent by the final third. 

In an awesome spot that allowed the finish to set itself apart, Rhea, having failed minutes earlier, unleashed a wicked Riptide variation by thrashing Becky against the middle turnbuckle before putting her away with the original version. 

This wasn't quite as great as Rhea's sweat-drenched war against Charlotte Flair last year, but was at its best when it managed to harness the energy and the struggle of that modern classic.

Star Rating: ★★★¾


Michael Sidgwick is an editor, writer and podcaster for WhatCulture Wrestling. With over seven years of experience in wrestling analysis, Michael was published in the influential institution that was Power Slam magazine, and specialises in providing insights into All Elite Wrestling - so much so that he wrote a book about the subject. You can order Becoming All Elite: The Rise Of AEW on Amazon. Possessing a deep knowledge also of WWE, WCW, ECW and New Japan Pro Wrestling, Michael’s work has been publicly praised by former AEW World Champions Kenny Omega and MJF, and current Undisputed WWE Champion Cody Rhodes. When he isn’t putting your finger on why things are the way they are in the endlessly fascinating world of professional wrestling, Michael wraps his own around a hand grinder to explore the world of specialty coffee. Follow Michael on X (formerly known as Twitter) @MSidgwick for more!