The Rock claims WrestleMania after 11-year absence, Aussies Grayson Waller, Rhea Ripley also win

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The Rock has made his long-awaited return to pro wrestling, helping cousin Roman Reigns prevail over Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins in the night one main event of WrestleMania XL (40).

Involved in his first true match since WrestleMania 29 some 11 years ago, the 51-year-old was in incredible physical condition as expected, though fittingly his in-ring return also featured a return to the style of matches in the Attitude Era – which were typically much slower and heavily featured brawling in and out of the ring.

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The open-air stadium – Philadelphia’s Lincoln Financial Field, home of the NFL’s Eagles – as always impacted the crowd noise and atmosphere. The match lasted some 40 minutes.

The Rock pinned Rhodes after a shot from a weight belt, a spear by Reigns, and then a Rock Bottom and People’s Elbow.

With the win, the odds have been stacked further against Rhodes, who will fight Reigns for the world title on Monday morning (AEST) under ‘Bloodline Rules’ – ie, no disqualifications, meaning run-ins from the heel group will occur.

The tag match was also effectively a no DQ match because The Rock was threatening to fire the referee if he ruled against him.

While the part-timer pinning the top babyface in the company is somewhat jarring, the result was as expected.

It both sets up a future match between Rhodes and Rock, as has been heavily built towards over the past two months, and ensures Rhodes must overcome the greatest odds to finally stop Reigns and win the title. Rhodes would therefore ‘get his win back’ on night two.

Earlier in the show, Sydney’s Grayson Waller capped off a fantastic 24 hours for Australian wrestlers by claiming the Smackdown tag team championship with partner Austin Theory.

Both sets of tag titles were on the line in a six-way ladder match and Waller brought down the Smackdown belts, with The Miz and R-Truth winning the Raw titles.

It followed Rhea Ripley’s successful defence of the women’s world championship against Becky Lynch, along with Adelaide’s Bronson Reed winning the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal on the pre-WrestleMania edition of Smackdown.

Reed looks in line to challenge new Intercontinental champion Sami Zayn for the belt Zayn won from Gunther in the semi-main event of Sunday’s (AEST) show.

The show displayed the new era of WWE in terms of a heavy dosage of mid-match advertising.

An energy drink was printed on the ring mat and turnbuckle pads, with bottles of the drink featured during matches including the main event itself, while other brands were showcased on the electronic boards surrounding the ring and with adverts popping up on screen.

The enormous amount of advertising has been sparked by the merger between UFC and WWE, creating the company TKO, with the pro wrestling brand now borrowing heavily from the mixed martial arts leader’s strategy of heavy brand integration.

WRESTLEMANIA 40 NIGHT ONE RESULTS

Women’s World Championship: Rhea Ripley (c) pinned Becky Lynch

WWE Tag Team Titles: Austin Theory and Grayson Waller (new Smackdown champions) and The Miz and R-Truth (new Raw champions) def Finn Balor and Damian Priest (c), Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods, Pete Dunne and Tyler Bate in a six-pack ladder match

Rey Mysterio and Andrade pinned Santos Escobar and Dom Mysterio

Jey Uso pinned Jimmy Uso

Bianca Belair, Jade Cargill and Naomi def Dakota Kai, Asuka and Kairi Sane when Cargill pinned Kai

Intercontinental Championship: Sami Zayn pinned Gunther (c)

The Rock and Roman Reigns def Cody Rhodes and Seth Rollins when Rock pinned Rhodes

WRESTLEMANIA 40 NIGHT TWO CARD

Sunday April 7 US time – Monday April 8 from 9am AEDT

Undisputed WWE Universal Championship: Roman Reigns (c) vs Cody Rhodes

WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Seth Rollins (c) vs Drew McIntyre

WWE Women’s Championship: Iyo Sky (c) vs Bayley

WWE United States Championship: Logan Paul (c) vs Kevin Owens vs Randy Orton

LA Knight vs AJ Styles

Bobby Lashley, Montez Ford & Angelo Dawkins vs Karrion Kross, Akam & Rezar (Philadelphia Street Fight)

Originally published as The Rock wins WrestleMania after 11-year absence amid Aussie glory

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