I just realized something about what happens when you split a show like Wrestlemania into two parts. You can’t help but think one is better than the other. It’s inevitable and various thoughts do race into your mind as to why the WWE would partition the matches this way when they can clearly see one show would come off as good and the other would be bad based on the matches they have.
Well, for me anyway, Wrestlemania 36’s Part 1 was better than Part 2. Not by a whole lot but still clearly better. Let’s go start with the bouts that were actually good first before I start wailing to the terrible ones, shall we?
Wrestlemania 36’s second night started off really well with Rhea Ripley defending her NXT Women’s Championship against Charlotte. Personally, I don’t really get why, after winning the Royal Rumble, Charlotte would go after the NXT championship but, hey! We did get a good match from the decision. I’m not a big fan of Rhea’s work and I do get her appeal, but she just doesn’t do it for me. She is a hard worker, though, and it shows because she can match up with Charlotte in terms of intensity.
The finish was messy. Charlotte tried a moonsault but Ripley got both her feet up and The Queen’s face smashed right into them. Ripley tried to make a comeback but Charlotte connected with a spear… right after getting her face wrecked! Charlotte went for a pin buy Ripley kicked out. The Queen then went for a Figure Four but Ripley rolled her up for the count of 2. So Charlotte tried it again and succeeded. She then bridged it into the Figure Eight for the submission victory and to become the NEW NXT Women’s Champion.
The action was really good but it did drag on for a little too long. They could’ve trimmed it down by a good 5-10 minutes and it would’ve been tighter. It was still a heck of an entertaining opener.
Another highlight for Part 2 was the 5-Women Elimination Match for the Smackdown Women’s Championship. This saw Bayley, Sasha Banks, Lacey Evans, Naomi and Tamina go against each other to see who will be the last one to be eliminated. The action here was really good with everyone getting to show off their strengths. Some really smart storytelling here as well as they advanced the entire Bayley and Sasha Banks pairing if they’ll break up or not. I loved how they teased the breakup when Bayley accidentally hit Banks only for the Role Model to try to save The Boss, in vain, from Evan’s Women’s Right. Of course, we didn’t see Bayley try to save her best friend from being eliminated. Sadly, as there were Superstars like Tamina and Naomi in the match, it was rather predictable that they’d be the first to go. I mean, I don’t think they had a chance of winning, to be honest.
The match came down to Lacey Evans and Bayley. Evans was going to go for the Women’s Right but Banks, who was eliminated by the Sassy Souther Belle earlier, rush in with a Backstabber. Bayley took the opportunity to nail her foe with a Rose Planet to retain her Smackdown Women’s Championship. We then got a shot of Sasha Banks teasing that she wants the belt for herself before hugging Bayley.
While I’m disappointed they didn’t have the breakup happen at Wrestlemania, I am glad they’re not forgetting it and hinting at one of them eventually stabbing the other in the back for the title. The match was also really good so this gets a thumbs up from me.
We then have to discuss the Firefly Funhouse match involving Bray Wyatt/The Field and John Cena. This was a mixed bag for me. There were definitely some really fun and creative moments here but there were some choices I disagree with. For one thing, this was called a Firefly Funhouse match. Note the last word: match. This wasn’t a “match” but more like a surreal look at John Cena’s career from his “ruthless aggression” beginnings all the way up to now. However, you can clearly see that John Cena and Bray Wyatt are having a blast hamming it up and just winking at how the world of “sports entertainment” has changed over the years.
It was also a blast to see Bray Wyatt do some impressive impressions of the likes of Hulk Hogan. Unfortunately, I feel the WWE over-produced this segment as they kept on showing us flashbacks of the very people Wyatt was impersonating. It would’ve been fun to just watch and guess who he was supposed to be without the obvious clues. The finish, if you can call it that, had Cena beating up a pig puppet (no, really) then The Fiend appears behind him to apply the Mandible Claw then a Sister Abigail. John Cena loses consciousness from another Mandible Claw and Bray Wyatt counts the pin? John Cena then blinks out of existence (no, really!).
I will say I was impressed the WWE went along with this insanity. Having John Cena re-enact the key moments in his career was really creative but it also makes me wish they acknowledged Bray Wyatt’s roots by showing us Husky Harris instead of just mentioning it. If they’re going to break the fourth wall, they should go all the way. The Firefly Funhouse “match” was creative enough to hold my attention but it just fails to match up with the Boneyard Match from Part 1.
We now have to talk about the matches that… were just there. These are the matches that just don’t belong in something that’s as big as Wrestlemania or they suffered because there wasn’t a live audience to react to it. The Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler match is one of the latter. The in-ring action just felt like a RAW or Smackdown show with nothing really special happening. Also, for some odd reason, Sonya Deville was with Dolph Ziggler. Why? I don’t really get her goal with Mandy Rose not going out with Otis in the first place! They just didn’t explain things all that well.
Anyway, the finish came with Sonya distracting the referee, allowing Ziggler to nail a low blow to Otis. Mandy Rose then arrives (why didn’t she go out with Otis since she knew the truth, by the way?), beats up on Deville and then nails Ziggler down below. One Otis Caterpillar later and the Heavy Machinery member wins and finally gets his kiss from Mandy Rose.
This match would’ve really benefited from a live crowd cheering on Mandy Rose running in and kissing Otis. As it stands, this came off as a very standard match without a big payoff. It’s not the fault of performers but more of the situation they were dealt.
Next match I want to talk about is Aleister Black going against Bobby Lashley with Lana. This was a match that totally didn’t belong in Wrestlemania. Am I missing the big feud between these two Superstars? Was there any buildup or reason for them to battle it out on The Grandest Stage of Them All? If there was, I didn’t see it. Maybe that’s part of the reason why I think the match was very ho-hum.
The finish was, at least interesting. Lashey was going to nail the Dominator on Black but Lana convinced him to use a Spear instead. When Lashey did try to Spear his opponent, Aleister Black nailed him with his Black Mass kick for the pinfall victory. No offense to the Superstars but I just couldn’t get into the match because there were no stakes involved.
There were stakes for the next match I want to talk about, which is the Street Profits taking on the team of Austin Theory and Angel Garza for the RAW Tag Team Championships. This was a perfectly functional match. The problem is Austin Theory and Angel Garza were just thrown together because Andrade couldn’t make it! The two teams did put on a fun show but, because there isn’t any real heat between them, it just didn’t work for me.
The finish and the aftermath didn’t make much sense to me. Austin Theory nails the TKO on Angelo Dawkins but Montez Ford breaks up the pin with a frog splash. Dawkins floats over Theory for the pinfall victory. After the match, the heels beat up on the Street Profits but Bianca BelAir runs in to make the save and she takes out Zelina Vega. Guess I know who’s coming to the main roster next week?
The action was fun but the lack of a crowd really hurt it. Like I said, this was an okay match but, without the heat to back it up, it did feel flat. Yes, the stakes are high as the RAW Tag Team Championships are on the line. However, without the two teams actually hating each other, there doesn’t seem like a reason to start a long feud, which is what is going to happen by the look of things.
Just because there are stakes, however, it doesn’t mean the match won’t be awful. Case-in-point, the Last Man Standing match between Edge and Randy Orton. This was supposed to be a brutal match where either Superstar would pummel their foe until they couldn’t get up. This should’ve been exciting and it might have been if there was a live crowd for them to fight through. However, this match dragged on for forever!
The Last Man Standing match started off okay but, as it dragged on and on and on and on, I just stopped caring who was going to win and I just wanted it to end! Spots took excruciatingly long to execute and they didn’t have that much impact. Edge swinging around on bars and wire roofs just looked goofy. Randy Orton wheezed in pain throughout the entire thing, which didn’t sound all that good as well.
The finish was well-written but, like I said, I just didn’t care by that point. The Viper signaled for a one-man con-chair-to but Edge got up and locked in a chokehold. Edge then laid Orton out on a chair and he looked very torn about what he was going to have to do to end the match. The Ultimate Opportunist did eventually use the one-man con-chair-to to win this Last Man Standing Match. As good as the ending was, this was just plain too long and it wore out its welcome.
The final match of the night was Brock Lesnar with Paul Heyman going against Drew MacIntyre for the RAW Universal Championship. Once again, the lack of a live crowd really hurt this. Brock Lesnar was in fine form this time around, tossing MacIntyre around with suplexes and even hitting a couple of F5s in the process.
However, I do have to question the decision to allow Drew MacIntyre to kick out after an F5 at the count of 1! That’s a bad move. I don’t care how tough the WWE is trying to make MacIntyre. All it does is make Lesnar’s F5 look less devastating than it’s supposed to be. Drew kicks out of a couple more F5s (at least have him drape his leg on the rope to break up the count!) before mounting a comeback. MacIntyre nails a trio of Claymore kicks and then goes for a pin. It works and we have a NEW RAW Universal Champion. The crowd goes wi… sorry, there’s no crowd for this big moment.
This should’ve been a huge pop from the crowd but all we got was dead silence. No Triple H coming out to congratulate Drew. No wrestlers in the back looking elated. Nothing. This should’ve been a big moment but it didn’t come off as such. I know it sounds like I’m putting down the show because there isn’t a cheering/booing audience. However, it wasn’t problem with Part 1. Part 2 really highlighted how much a crowd can elevate an okay match into a good one. I really felt it this time around when I didn’t care that much in the previous day’s Wrestlemania.
This is why I say Part 1 was a better day. Things felt more exciting, even without the cheers and the boos. Part 2 just didn’t get me hyped up for what was happening. I really hope the WWE can weather the storm in the future or, at the very least, come up with a backup plan to counter this issue. All-in-All, Wrestlemania 36, when you combine both days, was just okay. I will remember it for being the weirdest Wrestlemanias thanks to the Boneyard and Firefly Funhouse matches. When it comes to match highlights, I can’t really think of any.
What did you think of Wrestlemania 36’s Part 2? How does is stack up to Part 1? Let me know in the comments section below!