Before all focus turns to WrestleMania 39, WWE is putting a spotlight on last year’s event.
WrestleMania 38 at AT&T Stadium, the home of the Cowboys, continued the modern tradition of holding the event over two nights, and a plethora of highlights carried the show. Those included the surprise return of Cody Rhodes, Pat McAfee wrestling Vince McMahon, and the first in-ring match in nearly two decades for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. A snapshot of the highs and lows were covered in detail with the WWE 24: WrestleMania 38 docudrama.
Directed by Steve Conoscenti, WWE 24: WrestleMania 38 made its streaming debut Monday on Peacock, taking an in-depth look at a significant chapter in the history of the company’s signature event. Particular attention is paid to Kevin Owens’s match against Austin, which closed out the first night of the show. Owens shares his admiration and affinity for Austin, and there are moments shared on screen—including Drew McIntyre revealing he would have loved the match against Austin, as well as Ronda Rousey cheering ringside during Austin’s entrance rehearsal—that show how many of the current talent were starstruck by the moment. (For what it’s worth, interviews with the number of wrestlers who wanted Austin’s main-event spot were not shown.) The WWE 24 team could do a special on the WrestleMania rehearsal and captivate viewers, and there was some fascinating footage shown here.
The high of Austin-Owens was balanced by the WrestleMania 38 story of Rick Boogs. Pieces of his backstory were shared that detailed his love for pro wrestling, and it was interesting to learn that Boogs got his start with the company per a recommendation from Gerald Brisco.
The night ended in devastating fashion when Boogs, teaming with Shinsuke Nakamura against The Usos, blew out his right knee during the match. He was visibly distraught over the injury, which removed him from WWE programming for nearly a year. There is also time spent on his background and recovery, which gives a better overall sense of his character he portrays on screen.
Not every moment of WrestleMania 39 was covered in detail. Viewers will be disappointed that Sasha Banks and Naomi were briefly shown (blink and you may miss it), yet never mentioned by name. Despite the fact that they are no longer with WWE, this would have been a unique opportunity to highlight their roles in the event, which were significant—Banks, a former WrestleMania headliner, teamed with Naomi to win the women’s tag titles.
A lot of attention was given to Becky Lynch. This was her first WrestleMania since giving birth to her daughter, and she worked an exceptional match against Bianca Belair. Highlights include seeing Lynch’s reaction during rehearsals to her special entrance while standing beside Jason Jordan (again, the footage from rehearsal is outstanding), and there is an interesting backstage conversation between Lynch and The Undertaker. Lynch also touches on why she enjoyed the story in her feud with Belair, which reached its peak during this match.
The backstage, after-the-match footage is also compelling. There is an emotional postmatch interview with Cody Rhodes, and plenty of interesting insight from Sami Zayn on Johnny Knoxville’s WrestleMania debut. WrestleMania has a long history with celebrities, and Knoxville did his part in putting in the work. Zayn flourished in that match, showing his versatility. A year later, he became WWE’s hottest babyface right up until ’Mania.
As a whole, I preferred watching the prematch footage. We are rarely privy to it, and it is largely out of character. That includes a prematch interview and haircut from Roman Reigns, where he speaks about his main event, as well as considerable time with Pat McAfee, who shared the ring with Austin Theory before having a moment in the ring with McMahon and Austin. The familiar intensity of Austin was a refreshing reminder of what made him so special as a performer, and, though he was guarded, there were also some nice shots of him backstage with his guard down.
Worthy of viewers’ time, WWE 24 captures the significance of WrestleMania 38.
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.