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WrestleMania 37 live match grades, results, highlights from WWE’s Night 1

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WrestleMania 37 live match grades, results, highlights from WWE's Night 1

The WWE’s annual “Showcase of the Immortals” returns to an open outdoor venue a year after the COVID-19 pandemic forced WrestleMania 36 to take place on a closed set with no fans. 

With social distancing protocols in place, WrestleMania 37 is taking place in front of a limited amount of ticketed fans at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. Once again, the event will take place over the course of two nights.

MORE: The top 10 WrestleMania feuds of all time, ranked

History will be made in the main event as Sasha Banks defends her WWE “SmackDown” women’s championship against 2021 Royal Rumble winner Bianca Belair. The match marks the first time WrestleMania will be headlined by two African American women and will certainly serve as an emotional affair regardless of the winner. 

Bobby Lashley will kick the show off by defending the WWE championship against former titleholder Drew McIntyre. Lashley will look to turn back the challenge of the man who held the title for much of the pandemic. Will McIntyre get his opportunity to have his moment in front of fans?

The event also finds Latin music superstar Bad Bunny teaming up with Damian Priest against The Miz and John Morrison, while Shane McMahon makes his annual return to WrestleMania against Braun Strowman in a steel cage match. 

It’s a seven-match card for the first night of WrestleMania and Sporting News will keep you up to speed on all the action.

MORE: How to watch WrestleMania on Peacock

WrestleMania 37 match grades

Bobby Lashley (c) def. Drew McIntyre to retain the WWE championship

Drew McIntyre has really bad luck. 

Last year, the Scottish Psychopath won the title with no fans in attendance due to the pandemic. It felt like this would be McIntyre’s crowing moment. And then there was a 40-minute rain delay that caused the match to start late. And then Lashley defeated McIntyre clean in a solid, yet unspectacular match. 

It was your typical juggernaut slugfest between two Superstars who have been pretty well protected over the past six months. It plodded a bit early and it’s not necessarily the kind of match you want to open WrestleMania with. However, things began to pick up in the final third when Lashley countered a Claymore Kick with a chokeslam but McIntyre sprung to his feet. A trio of Future Shock DDTs from McIntyre couldn’t keep Lashley down.

McIntyre set up for another Claymore Kick but Lashley rolled to the outside. This led to McIntyre taking to the skies and hitting a tope suicida. Lashley regained control and sought to sink in the Hurt Lock but McIntyre escaped and slapped in a kimura submission. Lashley would escape and McIntyre once again set up for his finisher. In what was a strange sight, MVP yelled and distracted McIntyre, which caused him to miss the Claymore. Lashley sank in the Hurt Lock and McIntyre tried to power out but succumbed to the power of the champion.

These two have given us more hard-hitting matches outside of the WWE and it didn’t live up to the potential that they have shown in the past. It’s not necessarily a bad idea to have Lashley retain because he keeps the title scene fresh. 

Grade: C+

Natalya & Tamina win the Tag Team Turmoil match

This match never really had a chance.

The women’s tag team division has been an absolute mess with singles wrestlers being thrown into tag teams with no real rhyme or reason. And with Shayna Baszler and Nia Jax being pretty dominant, it would have been nice to see a team with a little momentum get the win so we could at least think they have a chance to upend the champions on Night 2.

Instead, we got the newly formed team of Natalya and Tamina, who have done next to nothing for the past year, picking up the victory.

It’s not like the women didn’t work hard but it had nothing going for it. Naomi and Lana were inexplicably eliminated by the makeshift team of Billie Kay and Carmella. The Riott Squad, the only actual long-tenured tag team in the match, would eliminate Billie Kay and Carmella. Mandy Rose and Dana Brooke actually looked like a tag team with their matching gear but were also sent packing by a Liv Morgan rollup. 

Natalya, who has seemingly tagged with every woman who has ever competed in the WWE, was out next with Tamina. They took control early and hit a Hart Attack followed by Tamina hitting a Superfly splash for the pin.

No drama and went a lot longer than it should have. These women deserved better.

Grade: D

Cesaro def. Seth Rollins

Look, nobody will disagree with you that the story of this match being that Rollins is upset at being swung around by Cesaro is stupid. But these two are incredibly talented and Cesaro was long overdue for what would be his first singles match at WrestleMania. 

Nobody is going to remember the story but everyone should remember this match. It was given the time necessary to deliver and ended up being the excellent showdown that Cesaro deserved. Also, a ton of credit to Rollins who has had more than his fair share of WrestleMania moments but made sure to give the fans a noteworthy performance. 

The early story of the match was Cesaro trying to wear down Rollins for the Giant Swing. But Rollins sought to work over Cesaro’s arm to prevent it. Cesaro eventually swung Rollins but needed to stop due to the injured arm. 

Rollins pulled off an incredible 360-degree corkscrew frog splash and that’s when this match really picked up.

Cesaro reversed a ripcord knee and hit the Neutralizer for a near fall. Rollins countered a second Neutralizer for a Pedigree but couldn’t keep Cesaro down. Cesaro countered a Curb Stomp with an uppercut and completed an armless airplane spin and put Rollins in the spin cycle with a Giant Swing that had 23 rotations.

One last Neutralizer and Cesaro picked up the win. It’s been a long time coming for Cesaro, who wore his emotion all over his face. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come as Cesaro is one of the best pound-for-pound talents in the WWE.

Grade: A-

AJ Styles & Omos def. The New Day for the WWE Raw Tag Team Championships

This match was about two things: Omos having his in-ring debut and AJ Styles becoming a grand slam champion.

That’s it. And that’s fine because it was fun

Omos wearing a vest, dress shoes and slacks for his ring gear was a sight to see. Even more interesting was the decision to have Xavier Woods and Kofi Kingston play as the heels by keeping AJ Styles from tagging in his giant. The New Day played it well by teasing and mocking their opponents until Woods made a critical error that allowed Styles to get the tag to his gigantic bodyguard/partner. 

All seven feet and three inches of Omos simply obliterated Woods and Kofi in the most entertaining way imaginable. 

Styles jumped off of Omos’ shoulders for a Phenomenal Forearm that took Woods out and Omos finished the job with a two-handed chokeslam on Kofi Kingston. Omos used one foot to pin Kingston and we had new tag team champions. 

The New Day knew what the assignment was and handled it well to get the big guy over. I have no idea what you do with Styles and Omos moving forward but this was a fun way to introduce the giant. 

Grade: B

 

How to watch WrestleMania 37

One of the latest streaming services to hit the market, Peacock, is an NBC-driven vehicle. In January, WWE Network and its library were sold to Peacock, which is now home to WWE streamed content.

Peacock has three separate pricing tiers: the free tier, the Premium tier and the Premium Plus tier. In order to watch WWE Network and WrestleMania 37, you’ll have to subscribe to the Premium tier, at $4.99 per month. This will also grant you unlimited access to the WWE Network library available on Peacock, as more content is uploaded to Peacock over the coming months.

Peacock is available on gaming consoles, Roku, Chromecast, Android TV and Apple TV. After logging in, there is a WWE category across the top bar — navigate over to it, and away you go.

WrestleMania 37 Night 1 match card results

  • Bobby Lashley (c) def. Drew McIntyre to retain the WWE championship
  • Bad Bunny & Damian Priest vs. The Miz & John Morrison
  • Natalya & Tamina def. Lana & Naomi, Dana Brooke & Mandy Rose, The Riott Squad and Billie Kay & Carmella in a Tag Team Turmoil match
  • Cesaro def. Seth Rollins
  • The New Day (c) vs. AJ Styles & Omos for the “WWE Raw” tag team championship
  • Braun Strowman vs. Shane McMahon in a steel cage match
  • Sasha Banks (c) vs. Bianca Belair for the “WWE SmackDown” women’s championship

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Why did the Rangers fire John Davidson and Jeff Gorton? Production may be reason behind shocking move

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Why did the Rangers fire John Davidson and Jeff Gorton? Production may be reason behind shocking move

Ladies and gentlemen: JD and the Straight Fired. 

The Rangers have fired general manager Jeff Gorton and team president John Davidson, per reports, in a shocking move that no one in the NHL saw coming.

Gorton had been employed by the Rangers since 2015, acting as the team’s GM in that span. During that time, the team acquired Artemi Panarin and navigated a rebuild on the fly, developing a core of young, talented players in the process.

MORE: NHL seeding scenarios, breakdown for final 2021 playoff spots

Davidson, though, is the more surprising firing: The long-time Ranger fan favorite and front-office exec got the ax, as well, despite being in the role for less than two years. He was hired on May 17, 2019.

Chris Drury, former Ranger, gets the nod to assume both GM and president roles:

The Rangers are coming off a disappointing 26-21-6 season, missing out on the Stanley Cup playoffs again under head coach David Quinn.

Here’s why both Gorton and Davidson got the ax.

Why did the Rangers fire Jeff Gorton and John Davidson?

There are conflicting reports on the exact reason why both front office executives are heading to the unemployment line.

The predominant reports indicate that team owner James Dolan was simply unhappy with the team’s production in 2020-21, missing out on the Stanley Cup playoffs with just three games left.

Others say that Davidson and Gorton distancing themselves from the Rangers’ controversial statement on Tuesday, calling for the head of NHL Player Safety George Parros’ resignation, ultimately led to the firing.

Some reports have said that the firing is purely coincidental. 

Still, the Rangers seem to be ahead of the timeline they set for themselves a few years ago, when a letter to fans addressed the team’s intentions to undergo a rebuild. 

Since then, the team has drafted Kaapo Kakko, Alexis Lafreniere, Filip Chytil and K’Andre Miller, who have made their marks as members of the core. They’ve also acquired Adam Fox, Jacob Trouba and Artemi Panerin either via trade or free agency.

Chris Drury will assume GM and president duties. 

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Raiders declined trade-down offer in NFL Draft to avoid losing Alex Leatherwood

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Raiders declined trade-down offer in NFL Draft to avoid losing Alex Leatherwood

No team has been more criticized for its 2021 NFL Draft haul than the Raiders. And none of the Raiders’ picks was more scrutinized than their top overall pick: Alabama offensive tackle Alex Leatherwood at No. 17 overall.

Most mock drafts, including Sporting News’, considered Leatherwood a Day 2 selection. That Raiders GM Mike Mayock and coach Jon Gruden took him in the first round was considered a massive reach, especially when most assumed that he would be available in the second. That they took him over several, more highly rated offensive tackles — SN rated six available tackles higher, including four with first-round grades — only added to the controversy of the pick.

But Mayock has defended the choice, saying he, Gruden, offensive line coach Tom Cable and Raiders scouts all highly valued Leatherwood. Las Vegas was so enamored with the big-name tackle that it even declined an offer to trade down in the 2021 NFL Draft for risk of losing him.

MORE: Worst value picks in the 2021 NFL Draft

“Just when we got on the clock a team did call us and inquired about moving up, but they gave us a very poor trade offer and it was a team that needed a tackle,” Mayock said (via ESPN). “So the combination of the poor offer and their need kind of pushed us away from that.

“There’s a risk/reward scenario and, in this case, we didn’t feel that it was worth it.”

Ultimately, the Vikings were the only other team to draft a tackle in the first round, selecting Virginia Tech tackle Christian Darrisaw with the 23rd overall pick. Only two more offensive tackles went in Round 2 before the Raiders drafted again at 43: Oklahoma State’s Teven Jenkens to Chicago, at 39, and Notre Dame’s Liam Eichenberg to Miami, at 42.

This isn’t the first time Mayock’s draft choices have been scrutinized. His previous drafts have included an inordinate number of players from big-name schools, especially in the early rounds. Those include Clemson’s Clelin Ferrell, Alabama’s Josh Jacobs and Henry Ruggs III, Ohio State’s Damon Arnette and more.

That said, It’s a virtual certainty that NFL teams’ draft boards aren’t the same as outlets’ mock drafts. And if the Raiders saw something they liked in Leatherwood — enough to warrant their first-round pick — then that’s their prerogative.

Only time will tell whether he was worth the high selection.

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Aaron Rodgers’ attempt to throw insults at Packers GM Brian Gutekunst is mostly bull

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Packers-Aaron Rodgers divide grows, and 2021 NFL Draft won't narrow it

Of the 13 seasons Aaron Rodgers has spent as a starting quarterback in the NFL, nine ended in the Pro Bowl and three with him named the league’s Most Valuable Player. He’s so good that you could call him the “Michael Jordan of quarterbacks,” if you wished, and not be far off in your assessment.

Not far at all, it turns out.

Bob McGinn, a veteran journalist who has covered the Packers for four decades, reported in The Athletic that Rodgers’ relationship with general manager Brian Gutekunst has become so fractured that Rodgers referred to the GM as “Jerry Krause” in group chats with his teammates.

MORE: Where are Packers in SN’s latest NFL Power Rankings?

Rodgers is angry with Gutekunst about several personnel moves over the past few seasons, enough so that McGinn’s reporting confirmed the player’s intent not to return to the Packers as long as Gutekunst remains in charge of personnel.

Among Rodgers’ gripes is the obvious: the decision to trade for an earlier selection in the 2020 NFL Draft that was used to select a quarterback who presumably will be the successor at that position. Rodgers was embarrassed by the team’s decision to cut receiver Jake Kumerow — the day after Rodgers had said during a show he hosts on Sirius XM Radio that he thought Kumerow was a valuable member of the team.

If it seems petty for Rodgers to be so aggravated by his organization over a receiver who has caught 21 passes — combined — in three NFL seasons, well, that’s where the Jordan/Rodgers comparison truly coalesces.

Jordan spent much of his later years with the Bulls degrading himself with public insults aimed at Krause’s weight and stature, even though Krause, at the time, was earning a position in the Naismith Memorial Hall of Fame with his shrewd drafting, trading, hiring and management of the Bulls’ rosters that won six NBA championships in the 1990s.

Jordan was the centerpiece of those teams, and he was drafted before Krause was hired as Bulls GM, but every other essential member of the teams that won from 1991 to 1993 and from 1996 to 1998 was added by Krause, including Hall of Famers Scottie Pippen, Dennis Rodman and head coach Phil Jackson.

Gutekunst has done little to warrant the comparison to Krause.

He has been GM since 2018, and the Packers delivered 13-3 records in his second and third seasons but fell short of the Super Bowl each time. Their defenses allowed an average of 34 points in the 2019 and 2020 NFC Championship games.

Rodgers almost certainly drew his inspiration for the use of Krause as a front-office insult from “The Last Dance,” the ESPN documentary that chose to portray him as a villain despite that he’d built the championship team whose impending dissolution Jordan was lamenting. Rodgers should study basketball history better; there surely are GMs who would serve as a fitting standard of ineptitude.

Krause is not the guy. He won six championship rings in his position as Bulls GM.

Rodgers still has just the one, earned 11 seasons ago.

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