With the entire world going through a state of shock by the COVID-19 outbreak, I for one want to thank WWE for what they did this past weekend. Many questioned and chastised the choice to move on with WrestleMania 36, as opposed to postponing it, myself included. But, as corny as it may sound, the words of Stephanie McMahon before the show really snapped me out of that mindset.
We’re all scared. We can act like we’re not, but we are. We’re afraid of the unknown, and right now we do not know what the full extent of this invisible threat. WWE could’ve done the easy thing and canceled their biggest show of the year, but they saw it as a challenge themselves. They attempted to put on a distraction for us, a way to forget about what’s going on outside of our doors, and boy oh boy did they succeed.
So with the two nights of great, empty crowded, weird wrestling in the books, let’s look at some ups and downs from the showcase of immortals!
👍 Off-Site Matches
Let’s start with the two obvious bright spots of WrestleMania. WrestleMania wouldn’t be what it is without The Undertaker, and when the match between him and AJ Styles was announced to be a Boneyard Match, I knew it would be something special. But then, after that Boneyard Match on Saturday night, I couldn’t wait for the Firefly Funhouse Match on Sunday.
The Boneyard Match was a breath of fresh air, for us wrestling fans. After a disappointing match against Goldberg at 2019’s Super LetDown…I mean ShowDown, people were worried about the deadman wrestling in singles action.
How did WWE silence the worries? Book him in a pre-taped, off-site production that felt like a movie fight scene and delivered tremendously. We saw the return of the American Badass Undertaker, complete with the motorcycle, the bandana headband and the leather. If anybody was to be booked to make the Undertaker look like a million bucks, AJ Styles was the man. And if any match was to be booked to make the Undertaker look like a million bucks, it was this match.
Then, we had the Firefly Funhouse Match between “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt and John Cena. At first, I was worried. John Cena’s music hit and we saw him walking out to the ring, and I thought “oh man they did a real match didn’t they?” Then, The Fiend kicked in, and what we saw was, in my opinion, the greatest thing WWE has ever done. No hyperbole, I truly believe that. We saw The Fiend take Cena through all of his failures. His failed debut against Kurt Angle, his failed marriage, the failed bodybuilder career, and the failed rap career. Then he gave him a chance to undo the failure at WrestleMania 6 years ago, but finally ending Bray Wyatt.
Cena is a good Hollywood actor, and he showed it here. The conflict on his face, the confusion about what was going on. Him being locked in a somewhat trance and trying to break free, it was all incredible and was only possible with Cena. We later learned that this all came about because of Bray Wyatt, Triple H and Bruce Prichard. We also learned that Cena made some changes in the segment and it was all for the better, and I’m almost positive Jeremy Borash was involved as he was a huge part in Matt Hardy’s “Broken” gimmick.
WWE didn’t only put on two great matches, but they may have set a standard for Undertaker. In my opinion, this is how all of Undertaker’s matches should be done from here on out. First off, it was awesome, and second off, it protects the deadman. Instead of getting that lackluster match against Goldberg, we got a believable, action-packed, captivating match that captured the attention of everybody. It. Was. Epic.
👎 Edge vs. Randy Orton
*Sigh*. I didn’t want to do this. I really didn’t. But I’m counting this match as a down for WrestleMania. Now the finish? I loved the finish. Edge and Orton battling on top of the trailer, countering RKOs and spears and chair shots. Then Edge, holding the chair, crying and coming to a sense of clarity before bashing Orton’s head in? Just magic.
But everything leading up to that was just….boring. This match went 36 minutes. 36 minutes! Only one other match on the card went over 20 minutes, and that was the Charlotte v. Rhea match which registered at just 20:30. The build to the match was phenomenal in every sense of the word. Edge’s return, Randy’s turn, Beth getting RKO’d to hell and Edge trying to get his hands on Randy, everything was perfect, except the match.
I just feel we saw two guys, exchanging moves with weapons and boxes, and a ref counting to 10 over…and over…and over again. Maybe the match suffered from not having a crowd, but I just feel we missed out. Not to mention, the fight took place backstage of the performance center, and I found myself looking at all the stuff in the background, more than the actual match.
I still hate to say it, but this match was just underwhelming for me. Plus, it was Edge’s return match! I know the crowd wasn’t there and that took away from the moment, but I just feel it could’ve been a lot more, and it wasn’t and it hurts.
👍 Title Changes
So yeah…I think all the titles changes that happened at WrestleMania 36 were ups. It started off on night 1 with Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross winning the Women’s Tag Team Championships from the Kabuki Warriors. I will admit, I wasn’t really on board with Cross and Bliss taking the belts, but after the match, I was actually happy about it. I like Kairi Sane I really like Asuka, but safe to say their title reign hasn’t been all that promising. I blame that totally on the booking of the team and the titles as a whole, but maybe a change is good for the belts.
Later that night we saw Braun Strowman beat Goldberg to become the new Universal Champion. Now obviously, this spot was originally destined for Roman Reigns until he had to pull out for health reasons, but even if Roman was the one to win, it would still be an up. Goldberg has no business holding gold in WWE anymore, and he damn sure shouldn’t have beaten The Fiend. This moment for Braun was great. Granted, it should’ve happened two years ago, but here we are. Braun will for all intents and purposes hold the title until Roman is in a position to take it, but even if that takes 1 month or 3, it’s nice seeing the monster among men finally win a major title in WWE.
The second night began with Charlotte challenging Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women’s Championship. I’ll be honest, before the match, I swore up and down that if Charlotte won the title I would be totally upset for the rest of the night. Then, Charlotte and Rhea put on one hell of an opening match for us. Still, I was kind of upset about the result, but when you think about it, it’s not that bad. First off, if there was ever a “looked good in defeat”, it was here with Ripley. She gave Charlotte one hell of a fight and sold like a female Ricky Morton. Now, with Charlotte holding the title, it sets up great matches with the likes of Io Shirai, Dakota Kai, Mia Yim, and Shotzi Blackheart. Plus, in this “ratings war” with AEW, I’m sure Charlotte Flair being a regular on NXT will only help.
The main event of the night was the moment we were all waiting for. Drew McIntyre went up against the Beast Incarnate Brock Lesnar. It was a normal Brock Lesnar match where they just spammed the finisher button, but the moment when Drew won was incredible. Granted, if it was in front of 80,000 fans it would’ve been better, but we got what we got and it was still great. Drew finally got his moment, and I for one can’t wait to see what he does. Everybody loves him, and even if and when he turns heel, he will be a great heel as we’ve seen. The title changes on WrestleMania were definitely an up.
👎 Elias vs. King Corbin
I was kind of excited when they announced this match. Even though people tend to not like Corbin, I’ve liked him since his time in NXT and think he gets a lot of unnecessary heat. Then there’s Elias. First off, why is Elias a face right now? I know he was a heel before he got injured, and he turned when he came back, but Elias could be a top heel in WWE for a long time.
Remember that time in Seattle? When Elias had the crowd booing for a solid 15 minutes? Man, why turn him to a face? This match on paper could’ve been great, and even with a crowd, I think this match would’ve been underwhelming. The match went 9 minutes and I really couldn’t get into it at all. Not to mention, didn’t we just see Elias fall from the crow’s nest on SmackDown? They seemed to play that up like he wouldn’t be able to compete. Then he just shows up at WrestleMania with Kinesio tape on his shoulder? It just seemed weird to me.
It’s good that both guys were able to get a Mania payday, especially in these times. But the match just seemed to be out of place and never really got off the ground.
👍 SmackDown Tag Team Title Ladder Match
The SmackDown Tag titles were on the line in a triple threat ladder match. Originally it was supposed to be a triple threat tag match with the champions Miz and Morrison against The Usos and The New Day, but The Miz ended up getting sick before the tapings and was sent home. The match may have been better with all 6 guys involved, but what we got was a great match, with a solid finish.
The Prince of Parkour shined here, hitting Jimmy Uso with a beautiful twisting splash, while Uso was laying on top of a ladder that was bridged on to middle rope. Then, with Kofi Kingston on one top turnbuckle and Morrison on the other, he tightrope walked to Kofi, and hit him with an avalanche spanish fly. Morrison looked incredible here and even though the match could’ve been so much better with all teams, it was still a wonderful triple threat ladder match.
The finish was a high spot for me as well. All three men on top of the ladder fighting for the belts. Then the entire hook comes off and Morrison falls off of the ladder, but so do the tag titles and Morrison retains. Miz and Morrison have been pretty good with the titles, and as much as I love The Usos and New Day, I’m kind of sick of the whole New Day and Usos exchanging the belts. Miz and Morrison have the titles, and now with Otis beating Dolph and getting Mandy, maybe Heavy Machinery can finally get what they deserve. Tag team gold.
👎 Becky Lynch Defeated Shayna Baszler
So…it happened. I think we all had a feeling it would happen and it happened. But it didn’t even happen in a way that I would be ok with. We first see Shayna go all Walking Dead on Becky and bite her in the neck. Then, Shayna goes into the Elimination Chamber match and destroys everybody. But Becky Lynch wins with a lucky roll up?
WWE has a problem. They make baby faces look stupid! And now they just made Shayna look stupid. Remember Baszler in NXT? She could reverse anything into the Kirifuda Clutch and put people to sleep. But she doesn’t see Becky flipping back to pin her? I’m sorry I just think it made her look stupid and ruined her push. I know, typical wrestling fan, seeing someone get beat and automatically think they’re buried, but…it kind of happened.
Seth Rollins lost, and it won’t really affect him because he can afford to lose. Rhea lost but she lost in a way that made it okay. She looked terrific in defeat. Shayna did not look terrific in defeat. We’ll see what happens after with Becky and Shayna, but I truly believe they did more bad than good in the way Shayna lost.
So there you have ups and downs from the two night WrestleMania show! Agree with our list? What did you love about WrestleMania? More importantly, what didn’t you love about ‘Mania? Let us know!
Featured Photo: Mike Rosa – GCSN
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