Photo from WWE.com
With the uncertainty, tension, and overall fear that the COVID-19 outbreak has caused throughout the world, one of the very few sports organizations still keeping people entertained showcased their biggest annual event in front of no fans with the two-night WrestleMania 36.
Was it awkward without tens of thousands of passionate fans? Yes.
Was WWE still able to deliver an entertaining event? Absolutely.
Many people feared the worst when they found out that WrestleMania would go on as planned at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, but a majority of the talent stepped up to the plate and delivered some epic moments that will be remembered for years down the line.
WrestleMania kicked off with Cesaro continually being buried by WWE creative in a short match with Drew Gulak. Cesaro came out victorious, but the man deserves better than this.
Kairi Sane was robbed of an epic pirate-themed entrance to go along with her pirate gimmick, and subsequently, she and her Kabuki Warrior teammate Asuka, lost the women’s tag team titles to Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. While I am fine with the chemistry of both duos, the match was a snoozefest and we didn’t need to see the titles change hands.
Becky Lynch continued to prove that she is only good on the mic. Going from headlining last year’s Wrestlemania to being one of the opening matches the following year is not a good sign for “The Man”. Maybe, it’s not just the fans that are getting a little bit sick of Lynch. NXT has once again built up a potential future star in Shayna Baszler just for WWE to bring her back down to earth in a fairly quick win for Lynch to retain the Raw Women’s Championship.
My favorite match of the entire two-night event was the triple threat ladder match for the SmackDown Tag Team titles. Jimmy Uso, Kofi Kingston and John Morrison all delivered some brutal spots that would’ve been received very well. While the end of the match felt like overkill, the entire match delivered moments that all three men(who are not young) should be proud of.
It feels like Kevin Owens can do no wrong, and he continued to prove that with THE moment of this WrestleMania: death-defying leap from the WrestleMania sign onto Seth Rollins to put them both through a table. Owens is ready for another big push, but the “Monday Night Messiah” may need to ditch the gimmick and go back to burning it down.
Braun Strowman stepped in on short notice for Roman Reigns to take on Goldberg and it was the worst thing to happen this WrestleMania. We all hate Goldberg and a major title for Strowman feels two to three years too late. The title change was as abrupt as the two-minute, 10 second match. Let’s just forget this ever happened.
However, Night 1 was not lost as we saw a rare cinematic match between The Undertaker and AJ Styles. It was interesting to see The Undertaker blend his “American Badass” and “Deadman” gimmicks as we needed to find a way to be invested in another match for the 55-year-old. Somehow, WWE was able to add to Taker’s persona and legacy in the match, but it still doesn’t feel like a storybook end to Undertaker’s pro wrestling career. We will see him again.
Night 2 started off disappointingly as Charlotte Flair won her 7,000th WWE title, claiming the NXT Championship over Rhea Ripley. Hopefully, this means that Flair heads to NXT’s Wednesday show to build up the next female superstar(Bianca Belair or Io Shirai PLEASE). I am curious to see where Ripley goes from here. Whether Triple H still wants her as a part of the NXT brand or if she will go after Becky Lynch next.
Otis is truly for the people as he had the most satisfying match at WrestleMania. Not only did he defeat Dolph Ziggler, but he got his girl, Mandy Rose as well. They sealed the win with the kiss and Otis carried his love off into the sunset, otherwise known as backstage.
It was pure nostalgia seeing Edge in singles competition, and while both he and Randy Orton tried their best, it just didn’t deliver enough. The Last Man Standing match was mostly both men throwing each other into objects around them. There never was a standout moment across the near 40-minute affair. However, I’ll accept the Edge win under the circumstances. He’s back.
Montez Ford is must-see entertainment. That is all.
I’m so tired of the Bayley/Sasha Banks best friends storyline. These two have been written at each other’s sides for over half a decade, and it is time for a change. I really thought we were going to see Banks turn on Bayley, and then lose to Lacey Evans, alas, WWE creative isn’t that risky….
To cap off the event, Drew McIntyre, after all the adversity faced in the previous decade, finally has reached the top of the ladder to become WWE Championship. However, this was the worst possible scenario for it to happen. Fans loved McIntyre and he would have received a major celebration at Raymond James Stadium, but it didn’t happen. Hopefully, whenever this pandemic passes, he will officially get his rightful championship celebration.
Oh my goodness, Bray Wyatt officially owns the most entertaining gimmick in all of the WWE. The Firefly Funhouse match with John Cena was a glorious dive into nostalgia, and how a talent can keep reinventing the wheel. This was another cinematic match, similar to Undertaker/Styles, but it took so many twists and turns that saw throwbacks to WCW, Cena’s debut against Kurt Angle, and even Cena being a member of nWo. In puppet Vince McMahon’s own words, “this is such good s**t”.
I originally hated the idea of a pre-recorded, two-night WrestleMania event, but for the most part, it delivered and provided the entertainment millions of folks need to get through these times. In my opinion, it was one of the better Manias of the last five years.