The Day Wrestlemania Stood Still: A Review of Wrestlemania 36
by Kyle Harper
The coronavirus pandemic has led many sports institutions, such as the NBA and the NHL, to decide to end or postpone their regularly scheduled sporting events. On the other hand, the WWE has still been putting out their weekly televised programs of Monday Night Raw, NXT, and SmackDown. While these events still occur, the company uses a limited roster and performs at their performance center in Orlando, FL in front of an empty arena.
It was questioned for quite some time what would happen to Wrestlemania, WWE’s biggest event of the year. The event was initially scheduled to take place on Sunday, April 5 in Tampa, FL, but many believed it would be cancelled.
The biggest wrestling show of the year ended up being moved to the performance center. In addition to this, Wrestlemania began to be advertised as “Too Big For One Night,” and it was announced that the show would take place on both Saturday, April 4 and Sunday, April 5.
The show had many interesting ideas and matches integrated into it. This Wrestlemania, in particular, was set to be an emotionally invested show.
New champions were crowned as Drew McIntyre defeated Brock Lesnar to become the first ever British WWE champion, and Braun Stroman defeated Goldberg to become the Universal Champion.
In addition, Charlotte Flair defeated Rhea Ripley to become the new NXT Women’s Champion, which was a shock to many viewers.
While some new champions were crowned, others retained their belts, such as Becky Lynch and Bayley, who both successfully defended their respective women’s titles.
There were some matches that benefitted from having no crowd. Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens had developed a growing feud over the past couple months, and during their match, being able to hear them trash-talking one another really added to their rivalry and made viewers believe that they hated each other. But other matches suffered from this and really showed how some wrestlers needed to work on their talking skills and not let their match dissolve into a fit of screams and slaps.
There were some matches and moments that were emotionally charged, such as the Last Man Standing match between Randy Orton and Edge. Prior to this match, Edge returned to the ring after sustaining a career threatening injury in 2011. This match was personal and gut-wrenching, as you could see the emotion these two superstars poured into their performance.
Other moments were a little corny, even for fellow wrestling fans. Former New England Patriot Rob Gronkowski recently signed a contract with WWE and became the host of Wrestlemania. By the end of the show, he left with the 24/7 Championship. This was a weird moment and left fans wondering why this happened.
Many young superstars such as Aleister Black, Angel Garza, and Austin Theory had the opportunity to show what they were made of in the ring, as the two nights gave opportunities for more matches to take place.
Others such as Roman Reigns, The Miz, Rey Mysterio, and Dana Brooke had their Wrestlemania moments taken from them as they either a) are quarantined from potential exposure to COVID-19, or b) are immunocompromised and didn’t want to take the risk.
One of the biggest highlights of the show was the introduction of cinematic matches. These were shot more like a movie and had some supernatural elements to them.
The first cinematic match featured The Undertaker taking on AJ Styles in a newly-introduced Boneyard Match. The match took place in a cemetery, and you won by burying your opponent in the ground. This match really showcased the legend of The Undertaker in the WWE and was awesome to fans of this seasoned wrestling veteran.
The second cinematic match took John Cena into the world of “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, as they battled in a Firefly Funhouse match. The match delved into the career of John Cena and showed just how “The Fiend” can get into the mind of his opponents. It’s a really hard match to explain, but it was ingenious and you have to watch it to believe it.
In total, Wrestlemania hosted 18 matches over the span of these two nights. Regardless of your opinion on WWE or professional wrestling, you have to commend the performers who risked a lot to give people at home a show they could remember.
This Wrestlemania will go down history as the most historic of its kind and it is definitely worth checking out some of the great matches it has to offer.
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