Well, here we are. This might just be the weirdest WrestleMania to ever happen, brought about by unfortunate circumstances. Also, now a two-night affair, this second night would see Bayley defend the SmackDown Women’s Title against several other women, Rhea Ripley taking on Charlotte, John Cena taking on The Fiend (which I hoped would be similar to last night’s Boneyard match), Edge’s first Mania match in years and of course, Drew McIntyre taking on Brock Lesnar. Would it live up to the standards set by night 1? Would Gronk wear another outlandish outfit? And would any of us care by the end of the night? Let’s find out now.
Pre-Show Pass 2.0
So, much like last night, the pre-show match was pretty good. This one saw Natalya take on Liv Morgan. Now we know the pair have history but this did just feel like a last minute, screw it, they’re here let’s add it type of match. What we got though was short, sweet and a little brutal at times. We got a lot of trash talking, submission work and Liv picking up a sneaky little win. It was fine for what it was and that’s all it needed to be.
Rhea and Charlotte Take it Away
The NXT Women’s Title match was absolutely brilliant. It was a well-paced, physical and loud bout where both women tore each other apart. Charlotte worked the leg and Rhea worked everything since she had the power advantage. Every time Charlotte thought she was safe, Rhea would come back with something, usually nearly KO’ing her in the process. In the end, Charlotte won with the Figure 8 which sucks for me since I love Rhea Ripley but there’s no denying she had to fight for the win. This match was an amazing opener and deserves all the love it’s going to get. Ripley killed it in her first proper Mania match and Charlotte brought her A game as always. The future of the NXT Women’s Title just got very interesting.
This was such a random match to be added to the card. Black vs Lashley had all the potential to be a sleeper hit of the night and in some ways it really was. It was a simple enough bout which saw Black get the win with a Black Mass because Lana instructed Bobby to go for a Spear instead of just finishing Black with the Yokosuka Cutter. It was pretty straight forward but well executed for a thrown together match. It was nice to see Black pick up the win and Bobby be involved in something that wasn’t ruining his image.
Last Audience Member Standing
I’m torn on where to put this. The Last Man Standing match between Edge and Orton was long. Like seriously long and not all the sections of it needed to be there. It was physical, funny at times and for a lot of it, brutal. But that does not make up for the several long, drawn out segments of walking around and lightly bumping into things. I love Edge. I wanted this to be special and in a way, it was but at the same time it really didn’t need to go on as long as it did. People are going to remember it more for its overstuffed run time than they will for the fact Edge killed Randy Orton to win the match.
Trapped in the Firefly Funhouse
This was so damn beautiful. Bray Wyatt and the Fiend dragged John Cena into his own personal hell. Instead of fighting in a match, Bray Wyatt teleported John Cena to the Funhouse and subjected him to a hell chronicling the demons of John Cena. We had time travel to Saturday Night Main Event, NOW/WCW Monday Nitro, WrestleMania 30 and so much more. Old incarnations of both Cena and Bray appeared and did battle but, in the end, Cena tried to snap out of it, only to find himself beating down a poor defenceless Huskus the pig. The Fiend eventually appeared and put Cena out of his misery. Choking him out with the Mandible Claw and leaving him in the middle of a phantom ring in the Firefly Funhouse. Whereas we know for now, he still resides. This sequence was ended perfectly by having the camera cut back to the new host, Titus O’Neil who was just as taken aback as the rest of us watching. WrestleMania has been at it’s best when it’s been at it’s most absurd. This just further cements that.
Get in there Drew McIntyre
Drew McIntyre is the first WWE champion from the UK. It was won in sad circumstances but you know what, I am happy for the man. Drew fought and clawed his way back to wrestling. He went out there and made a name for himself, came back, won the Royal Rumble after languishing for a bit and finally beat the Beast to claim a title he deserved. The match was fine for what it was and seeing Drew pull out the effort to kick out of multiple F5’s then KO Brock in front of a heartbroken Paul Heyman. I wanted to see this and I got it. The perfect cherry atop a pretty sweet WrestleMania.
Waste of Time
What was the point of that RAW Tag title match? It lasted no time at all, did very little and ended abruptly. You bring Austin Theory into Mania as a last-minute replacement then do nothing with him. It all felt pointless. Garza and Theory attacked after the match so Bianca Belair could come out and flatten Zelina Vega because… nope no idea. This was pointless and it made no real attempt to be anything else. I feel sorry for the people involved, this did none of them any good.
I would have put the SmackDown Women’s title match in this bit too but it was redeemed by the storyline going on and the will they/won’t they conflict between Sasha Banks and Bayley. I can’t fully call that match a waste of time; it just wasn’t for me.
Otis’ Happy Ending
I don’t know how to describe this one properly. Otis and Dolph had a match because Dolph tried to steal Mandy Rose at the urging of Sonya Deville. That last part was revealed by a mysterious hacker. You following me? So Dolph gets destroyed, Sonya causes a distraction, Otis gets kicked in the taint then it gets even more random. Mandy Rose comes out, batters Sonya, hits Dolph in the balls and Otis gets the win. We get our fairy tale ending that is sealed with a kiss between our champion and his girl. It was so odd that it belongs nowhere but the weird column.
Well that’s it. WrestleMania 36 is in the books as the weirdest WrestleMania on record and the only to span two nights. It wasn’t perfect by any means but with all things considered, this was far and away better than expected. It took the circumstances and used it to try new things, play with concepts and bring to life matches we’d never expect. Every performer went out there and gave it everything despite the lack of fanfare and scepticism over the product. Night 2 may have been the weaker night but it still offered a hell of a lot of fun. I enjoyed this, which is way better than I expected going in. Let this creativity stick around and when the world has rid itself of this virus, let WWE carry on this energy. They’ve seen that creativity gets people abuzz. Keep using it.