Liam Hoofe reviews Day 2 of WWE WrestleMania 36…
The WWE’s first-ever two night WrestleMania is done and dusted and what a wild ride it has been. Given the circumstances, the WWE has managed to pull off what is arguably the most creative WrestleMania in the company’s history. Let’s take a look at what was a night that wrestling fans are not going to be forgetting anytime soon.
Charlotte Flair defeated Rhea Ripley
Now, this is how you open a show. Charlotte Flair and Rhea Ripley put on a technical delight here that showcased the tremendous talent of both women. Charlotte is one of the company’s most consistent and reliable performers and these two put on a considerably better match than what Shayna Baszler and Becky Lynch did on night one.
The two women told the story of the match perfectly. Charlotte picking apart Ripley’s knee and slowly breaking her down fitted her character perfectly. Ripley’s resilience also made her look strong and this defeat shouldn’t prove to be too damaging. Charlotte in NXT provides plenty of interesting options and Rhea Ripley could even move up to the main roster now and pursue one of the two titles. This was great stuff all around and it has set the bar high for the rest of night two.
Aleister Black defeated Bobby Lashley
I’m still not really sure why this match happened. The whole thing was thrown together for no reason and the WWE couldn’t even be bothered to book a segment to explain it – all they had to do was have Lashley knock on Black’s door or whatever he’s doing these days. Either way, it’s nice to see Black get the win at Mania and Black Mass is still one of the best and most protected finishers in the WWE. Hopefully, the WWE can find something meaningful to do with Black soon because he is one hell of a talent.
Otis defeated Dolph Ziggler
Well, this went down exactly as expected. I can’t say I’m a fan of Otis but he has managed to get himself incredibly over and this match was designed to be a crowd-pleaser. Ziggler sold like hell and made Otis look good here and the finish had all of the expected shenanigans as well as the guy getting the girl moment at the end.
Rating: ** 1/4
Edge defeated Randy Orton
Okay, so first things first, it is awesome to see Edge wrestling again. He looks as though he hasn’t lost a step and he still carries himself like a top star should. That being said, this match went on far too long and as a result, lost my attention as it went on.
Having Orton attack from out of nowhere at the start was a great way to start the match. It didn’t take long until they left the ring and the WWE obviously tried to use the stipulation to provide a bit of a break with this match. It would have worked nicely had it been a little bit shorter as there was some nice spots here and Edge looked great. One of the most damaging things here was the poor, subdued commentary. They spoke as though they were watching a game of chess instead of the best build and most personal match on the Mania card.
These two have told an incredible story over the last couple of months though and the finish reflected that. It was a great way of wrapping up the match and it definitely saved it somewhat. One other bonus is that this also saves Edge’s first real singles match for a real audience. This was far from bad, it just went too long.
Rating: *** 1/4
The Street Profits defeated Angel Garza and Austin Theory
After such a long match, this was exactly what was needed to liven things up again. These four guys are all extremely energetic and athletic performers and they put on an enjoyable encounter here. There were some nice spots throughout and all four men got a moment to shine. The WWE finally seems to be getting the tag-team division back on track and The Street Profits could be the perfect focal point.
The post-match stuff was also excellent, with Montez Ford’s real-life wife, Bianca Belair saving the Street Profits from an attack and aligning herself with them. If this is going to be a permanent thing, then that is a brilliant move for everyone involved.
Bayley defeated Lacey Evans, Sasha Banks, Naomi and Tamina Snuka
This was one of the night’s most unpredictable outings and it turned out to be a fun encounter on the night. The booking of Tamina was painfully obvious but once she was gone, the other four women put on a solid match and told a good story. Fans have wanted to see Bayley vs Sasha for years now and the ending of this match set the wheels in motion for later in the year, hopefully at SummerSlam.
Lacey Evans also deserves a lot of credit for her work here in the closing stretch. She has come along leaps and bounds in the last 12 months and while it was the right decision not to put the title on her here, she is beginning to look as though she is going to be capable of holding the belt at one point in the future.
Bray Wyatt defeated John Cena
Wow. After the Boneyard match on Saturday night, fans were desperate to see what the WWE would have in store for us with the Firefly Funhouse match, and boy, they didn’t disappoint.
This was one of the boldest things the WWE has ever done at WrestleMania and it seriously paid off. This was a twisted love-letter to the history of the industry as well as a dissection of John Cena’s entire WWE career, with plenty of comedy thrown in to the mix as well. Cena and Wyatt were both perfect here and Wyatt has firmly established himself as the best story-teller in the industry, as well as the most creative performer working today.
It’s not possible to rate this as a match. This was more of an experience than anything else and it was one of the most unique things the WWE has ever produced. Serious kudos to everyone involved. This was brilliant.
Rating: **** 1/4
Drew McIntyre defeated Brock Lesnar
It’s a shame the WWE decided to go down the lazy route with this match after the spectacle that came before it but frankly, who cares? Drew McIntyre is the WWE Champion and there are few superstars who are quite as deserving as he is. It sucks that he didn’t get to do it in front of a live audience and the match itself was just a series of finishers but when all is said and done, this is the ending that we all wanted to see at WrestleMania so congrats to Drew.
Verdict: Against all odds, WrestleMania 36 delivered. The show will go down in history due to the unfortunate circumstances that forced it to be held behind closed doors but the WWE made the best of a bad situation and provided us with one of the most unique and memorable WrestleManias of all time. The Boneyard match and the Firefly Funhouse are two of the craziest ‘matches’ in the history of the event and several of the in-ring matches really delivered.
Whether people agree with the WWE’s decision to go ahead with this event, the superstars and everyone involved deserve some serious credit for putting on an incredibly entertaining show at a time when that’s exactly what everybody needed. Great work all around.