By DALE PLUMMER and NICK TYLWALK — Slam Wrestling
After a first night that started slow and reached a crescendo in the theatrical Boneyard Match between The Undertaker and AJ Styles, it was fair to think that WWE was going to overcome all the hurdles created by the COVID-19 outbreak and put on one of its best cards of all time. And even though the second night of pre-taped matches from the Performance Center didn’t soar to the same heights, WrestleMania 36 still ended up as a remarkable achievement under extremely difficult circumstances.
Arguably the biggest issue with the second half of the card was its main event, a brief and silly Universal Championship Match that reduced the art of professional wrestling to simply gawking at two great athletes kicking out of each other’s finishing moves. Both the champion, Brock Lesnar, and the challenger, Drew McIntyre, looked ready to fight, but after a quick start, Lesnar ate a Claymore and had to scramble to kick out.
Lesnar dodged a second Claymore and executed two German suplexes, then a third after McIntyre was unable to hold onto the ropes to prevent it. An F-5 followed, but McIntyre kicked out at one, leaving the champ incredulous. After a second F-5, McIntyre was a little slower but still kicked out.
Even after a third F-5, McIntyre kicked out, causing Paul Heyman to tell his client to keep on doing it all night long. The champ tried to do just that, but McIntyre escaped and smacked Lesnar with three straight Claymores to end it. McIntyre’s emotion was as real as any first-time champ on pro wrestling’s biggest night, but it was hard not to feel for him not being in front of a big crowd to finish off his journey.
The success of the Boneyard Match on Saturday left a lot of people in anticipation of the Firefly Fun House Match between John Cena and Bray Wyatt’s alter ego, The Fiend, which ended up as the penultimate bout of WrestleMania 36. That is if you could even call it a match, as most of it was an artfully shot and pointed parody of some of Cena’s career highlights, mixed with some psychological horror.
WWE leaned heavily into the conceit that Wyatt can disrupt the very fabric of its broadcasts by interrupting his ring entrance and transporting him to the Firefly Fun House set. After he followed Wyatt through the door, his troubles began, as he found himself in his ring attire from his “Ruthless Aggression” debut against Kurt Angle, with Wyatt taunting him about his failure to get over. That transitioned to an ‘80s-style gimmick as Johnny Large Muscles, where Cena lifted so many weights that he was unable to swing his arms, and then back to the ring in his Doctor of Thuganomics persona.
As a rapper, Cena was finally able to deliver at least a few verbal blows, but Wyatt was able to deflect them by suggesting that in that phase of his career, Cena was a bully who only became popular at the expense of others. The scene then shifted to the heyday of WCW Nitro, of all things, with Wyatt playing Eric Bischoff and Cena in the Hollywood Hogan role. The Devil Vince puppet loved it, saying “that’s such good s–t,” a reference to one of the more popular inside baseball stories in pro wrestling over the past year or so.
At long last, Cena finally found himself in the ring with a shot at delivering some blows to Wyatt. But the man he was fighting disappeared and was replaced by a puppet, and The Fiend at long last made his presence felt. His battle against Cena was short, hitting Sister Abigail and using the Mandible Claw before Wyatt made the three-count — essentially counting his own pinfall.
Reaction to the Firefly Fun House Match on social media was a bit more mixed than for the Boneyard Match, which was something of a microcosm of a WrestleMania that won’t soon be forgotten. If nothing else, it proved once again the incredible lengths WWE talent is willing to go to in the name of entertaining their fans, and that’s something always worth celebrating.
WrestleMania Night 2 Pre-Show results
Natalya vs. Liv Morgan
Liv offers her hand for a shake. Nattie grabs her and takes her down. The two feel each other out. Liv ducks a clothesline and nearly gets the pin with a roll-up. Morgan executes a hip attack, but misses a second attempt. Natalya slingshots her off the ropes and hits a low kick. Nattie connects with a big discus clothesline on the apron and locks in a surfboard in the middle of the ring. Natalya breaks the hold. Liv hits knees to the face, but Nattie kicks out. Liv eats a facebuster but still kicks out. Liv with a step up enzuigiri. The two trade near falls, countering each other. Liv gets leverage and is able to pin Natalya.
Winner via pinfall: Liv Morgan
WrestleMania 36 Night 2 – Main Card Results
Thanks for sticking with us for a second night. In keeping with tradition, Nick’s bits are in plain type and Dale’s thoughts are in italics.
Charlotte Flair (challenger) vs. Rhea Ripley (champion) – NXT Women’s Championship Match
Charlotte takes Rhea down with a single leg early. The two lock up. Charlotte chops away at the champion. Rhea whips her into the corner and kicks her in the face. Ripley hits the Riptide and covers. Charlotte kicks out and rolls to the floor. The two fight on the outside. Rhea launches herself into Flair from the steps. Ripley hits a suplex in the ring and locks in a body scissors. Charlotte breaks free and gets Rhea’s leg caught in the top rope after dodging a kick. Flair focuses on Ripley’s knees with a series of kicks and then slams her legs into the ring post. Flair follows with a chop block. Ripley slams face first into the mat, but can’t capitalize with an injured knee. Rhea connects with a dropkick to the face and then follows with a short-armed clothesline. Flair kicks out the knee of Ripley, sending her to the floor. Flair gets caught on the top turnbuckle and Ripley drops her with a facebuster. Ripley goes up top, connecting with a missile dropkick. Flair with another chop block on the injured knee. Ripley counters a Figure Four into a standing cloverleaf. Flair is able to break free and lock in a Boston crab. Ripley with a Nightmare boot out of nowhere and nearly gets a pin. Flair fights Ripley off the top turnbuckle, slamming her to the floor. Flair with a moonsault that gets blocked. Flair locks in a Figure Four. She bridges into the Figure Eight and Riley taps out.
Winner via submission … and new NXT Women’s Champion: Charlotte Flair
Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley w/Lana
Why is Bobby wearing pants? Might he have skipped leg day? And why allow Lana to accompany him to the ring in this current environment? So many questions for this one. Black is used to squash matches as of late, so this is already going longer than he’s wrestled in recent weeks. Lashley gets in a long run of uninterrupted offense, but a stiff knee to the face swings the momentum in Black’s favor. Getting caught coming in proves to be Lashley’s ultimate undoing as well, taking a Black Mass and staying down for three.
Winner via pinfall: Aleister Black
Smackdown Women’s champ Bayley tells Kayla Braxton that her match tonight is unfair, since she has to defend the belt against four other women at the same time. Sasha Banks tells her that nothing can tear them apart, but once Bayley leaves, Banks tells Kayla everyone will have to wait and see what happens.
Charly Caruso asks Gronk for his thoughts on Mojo Rawley swiping a chance at the 24/7 title away from him last night. He says he wants that belt, meaning Mojo better have his head on a swivel.
Dolph Ziggler w/Sonya Deville vs. Otis
Ziggler tries to use his quickness to stay away from Otis, but the big man catches him in the corner. Dolph connects with a superkick that sends Otis to the floor. Ziggler drives him into the ringpost before rolling him back into the ring. Ziggler dropkicks Otis into the ropes and rakes his eyes. Otis catapults Ziggler into the turnbuckle. Otis hits a head butt and a clothesline. He slams Dolph to the mat and whips him into the corner. The fight spills to the floor, as Otis slams Ziggler into the security barrier and ringpost. Otis with a modified compactor in the ring. Otis goes for the caterpillar, but Sonya leaps to the apron to stop him. When the ref intervenes, Ziggler kicks Otis with a low blow. Mandy Rose runs down and smacks her former friend across the face. Rose rolls into the ring, hitting Ziggler with a low blow. Otis connects with the caterpillar and covers for the win.
Winner via pinfall: Otis
After the bell, Mandy Rose celebrates with Otis in the ring, planting a kiss on him.
Just like we all predicted ages ago, it was going to be a guy from Heavy Machinery that finally drove the wedge between Mandy and Sonya. Wait … what?
Edge vs. Randy Orton – Last Man Standing Match
Even in an empty arena, it’s apparently possible to do an RKO outta nowhere, because Orton was hiding as one of the cameramen. After telling the ref he’s good to go, Edge swings wildly after the bell rings and takes another RKO. That’s what we call a sub-optimal start. It doesn’t get any better for Edge as they battle back to the gym, at least until he’s able to kick a weight plate back into Orton. The gym has signage indicating it’s closed, but it’s open for pain for both men. They brawl back into the arena, where Edge gets tossed off a low stage. The action then moves to an office area, which features one of the highest conference tables ever seen. That’s still not enough, because they end up in some kind of storage area, then over by the set for backstage interviews, where Orton refreshes himself with a bottle of water.
Over to a table they go, but not for long as Edge leaps off a high shelf and smashes Orton through it. When that isn’t enough to end it, Orton fires back with a DDT onto the bed of a pickup truck. An exchange of finishers on top of the NXT trailer leaves both men down, but after Orton grabs a pair of chairs, Edge locks him in a submission until he’s essentially out. But after telling the ref not to count, a tearful Edge hits the Con-chair-to and finally brings this brutal confrontation to a close.
Rawley is on the run and pursued by a crowd of wrestlers, raising serious social distancing questions. Seeing his opportunity, Gronk leaps off the observation platform and flattens everyone, then covers his pal for three to win the 24/7 championship. What a surprise … sorry, the opposite of that.
Angel Garza and Austin Theory w/Zelina Vega (challengers) vs. The Street Profits (champions) – RAW Tag Team Championship Match
Zelina gets in a cheap shot early. Ford takes down Garza with a clothesline and hits a standing moonsault. He hits a DDT. Theory and Dawkins jump in and take each other out. Ford flies over the ropes, taking out Theory and his own partner. Garza with a huge moonsault to the floor, taking out everyone. Back in the ring, Garza hits a springboard moonsault, but Ford kicks out. Dawkins gets the tag but eats a superkick from Theory, who follows with the TKO. Ford breaks up the pin with a huge frog splash. Dawkins throws an arm over Theory and gets the three count.
Winner via pinfall … and still RAW Tag Team Champions: The Street Profits
After the bell, Garza and Theory beat down the Street Profits. Zelina Vega gets a shot in on Ford. Bianca Belair runs down, hitting Vega with the KOD.
Sasha Banks (challenger) vs. Lacey Evans (challenger) vs. Naomi (challenger) vs. Tamina (challenger) vs. Bayley (champion) – Smackdown Women’s Title Elimination Match
Tamina immediately gets ganged up on, but she takes the fight to the other four women. A chop block from Evans takes Tamina down to one knee; a basement dropkick from Banks sends her to the floor. Bayley covers Evans, with Banks helping on the pin. Lacey still kicks out. Naomi and Evans team up, taking down Bayley and Banks with dropkicks. Tamina takes out Banks and Bayley on the apron. Bayley and Evans are knocked out of the ring. Tamina offers an olive branch, only to superkick Sasha. Naomi counters Tamina with a stunner. Evans with a standing moonsault, but both Evans and Naomi can’t get the pin. Bayley drops the elbow from up top and Banks follows with a frog splash. Evans with a moonsault and Naomi follows with the split legged moonsault. All four women cover and get the three count.
Eliminated by pinfall: Tamina
Banks and Bayley retreat to the floor. Evans and Naomi fly over the ropes to take them out. The champ whips Evans into the ring steps. Naomi gets doubled teamed in the corner, but Banks misses on the double knees. Naomi with a sunset flip and nearly gets a double pin. She hits the Rear View on Banks and a spin kick to Bayley. Banks kicks out of the pin, but is immediately put in a submission. A kick from Bayley breaks the hold. Sasha locks in the Banks Statement and Naomi taps.
Eliminated by submission: Naomi
Evans limps into the ring and is bum rushed in the corner. She gets slammed in the middle of the ring, but kicks out of the dual pin. Sasha holds Evans in the corner, who is able to break free, causing Bayley to knee her friend in the head. Banks falls to the floor. Banks pulls Bayley off of Evans, demanding to know what happened. Bayley pushes Banks out of the way, but then turns Evans toward Sasha, who knocks her out with the Woman’s Right. Evans covers as Bayley looks on.
Eliminated by pinfall: Sasha Banks
Evans explodes out of the corner with a clothesline. Bayley knocks her to the apron and drives her shoulder first into the ringpost. Bayley ties Evans up in the corner with the tag rope and goes to work on her. Lacey connects with a boot to the face and is able to untie herself. The champ is floored with a shot to the back of the neck. Evans stomps away at Bayley in the corner. She climbs the turnbuckle and hits the moonsault. Bayley kicks out at two. Sasha returns to the ring, hitting Evans with a backstabber. Bayley covers to get the win.
Winner via pinfall … and still Smackdown Women’s Champion: Bayley
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena – Firefly Fun House Match
Winner via pinfall: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
Drew McIntyre (challenger) vs. Brock Lesnar w/Paul Heyman (champion – WWE Championship Match
Winner via pinfall … and new WWE Champion: Drew McIntyre
A surreal night 1 of WrestleMania 36 leans into that feeling in superb Boneyard Match
Nick Tylwalk and Dale Plummer connected via Skype to recap WrestleMania 36, a sign that we can still get together to enjoy the things we love even though we can’t gather in one place for the time being. They hope everyone stays safe and takes care of themselves and their loved ones in these trying times, and look forward to the time when wrestling fans can cheer on the action in person again.