WWE definitely wasn’t hoping for a rain delay when it booked WrestleMania 37 outdoors at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, but the weather didn’t cooperate, forcing the stacked in-ring card to start later than expected. In theory, that sounds like a frustrating mess, but despite a few minor technical issues, the rain delay actually proved to be great television. Quite a few wrestlers unexpectedly got time on the mic to help build their characters and hype matches, and we also got an all-time stupid joke from announcer Michael Cole.
Let’s start with the joke that I’m still groaning about half a day later. Michael Cole, Samoa Joe and Byron Saxton were killing some time at the announcer’s table waiting for some promos to get set up when Cole refereed to the event as Wrestle-rain-ia. It was one of those jokes that you could tell he knew was horrible but also couldn’t not say. Here’s the text below...
Well, The New Day is ready for tonight, and guys, I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. With everything we’ve been through over the last year, we might as well have the first rain delay in the history of, well, we can call this WrestleRain-ia.
Samoa Joe responded immediately and said he’s not co-signing that joke, and Byron Sexton referred to it as terrible. Of course WWE fans, who seem to always have thoughts about Michael Cole, turned the term into a trending hashtag and some even continued to refer to the event as Wrestle-rain-ia throughout the night. Terrible joke or not, it's strangely fitting and I find myself hating it a less every time I think about it.
Beyond the stupid joke, however, the WrestleMania rain delay actually allowed a ton of WWE wrestlers to get some unscripted time on the mic, which I loved (as did some other fans). WWE is a really smooth and polished product, but sometimes it’s nice to give wrestlers a bit more microphone time to work off the cuff and build their characters. In the twenty minutes or so of unscheduled time, fans got to see promos from quite a few stars from WWE's ridiculously deep roster including New Day, Kevin Owens, Bianca Belair, Drew McIntyre, Bobby Lashley, Seth Rollins, Braun Strowman, Shane McMahon and Miz & Morrison.
There were sone random times in which people stumbled over their words or meandered a bit, but it felt more human and relatable than usual. I honestly thought everyone performed at at least a solid level, and not surprisingly, I was particularly impressed by Seth Rollins and Miz & Morrison (though New Day was very strong too). I was disappointed by WWE’s decision to bring back Rollins as a heel, but I think he’s done a lot of great work recently and allowing him to be a bit more comedic and stupidly unaware works better than the deranged and dark guy we got last year. And of course Miz & Morrison are always great. They play off each other so well, and as soon as the show started trying to fill time, I knew we would see them sooner rather than later.
Like Saturday Night Live, wrestling is often the most interesting and exciting when it unexpectedly veers off script. It was nice to see everyone role with the punches last night, and it was nice to see how engaged the crowd stayed despite the early problems. Here’s to hoping WWE can deliver again during the second evening of WrestleMania, which streams tonight on Peacock Network.