After a fairly successful Night 1, WrestleMania 36 returns for Night 2 on Sunday.
Due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, WrestleMania 36 was forced to move from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. Instead, the event was pre-taped last week, mostly at the WWE Performance Center, the company’s Orlando training facility. Other matches were filmed on location, like AJ Styles vs. The Undertaker in a “boneyard match.” It will air over two nights, a WWE first, and will be hosted by Rob Gronkowski.
WWE’s decision to proceed with the event, even behind closed doors, was a controversial one. The company says it took steps to ensure the safety of everyone involved but an epidemiologist told Sports Illustrated that those measures were insufficient.
Here is the full match card for Night 2:
- Pre-show match: Natalya vs. Liv Morgan
- Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler (with Mandy Rose)
- Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley (with Lana)
- WWE SmackDown Women’s Championship: Bayley (c) vs. Lacey Evans vs. Naomi vs. Sasha Banks vs. Tamina (Fatal 5-Way elimination match)
- Firefly Funhouse match: “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt vs. John Cena
- Last Man Standing match: Edge vs. Randy Orton
- WWE Raw Tag Team Championship match: The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) (c) vs. Austin Theory and Angel Garza (with Zelina Vega)
- NXT Women’s Championship match: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
- WWE Championship match: Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Drew McIntyre
Stay tuned for live updates as the show gets started at 7 p.m. ET.
Match 1: Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley
We’re kicking things off with the NXT Women’s Championship match.
While most people have been wearing fairly standard ring gear, Ripley is departing from her usual black leather look.
Ripley hits her signature Riptide finishing move early in the match, but Charlotte kicks out. It really looked for a second like Ripley would prevail in a squash.
But that would have been a shame. These women went back and forth for more than 20 minutes, opening the night with a barn burner. And in the end Charlotte forced Ripley to tap. Ripley worked a knee injury all match long and eventually tapped to Flair’s figure four.
The implications of Charlotte’s victory are enormous. If she becomes a fixture on NXT on Wednesday nights, that could go a long way toward helping WWE defeat AEW in the ratings battle.
Match 2: Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley
Black was one of the coolest NXT Champions in history. He deserves better than this, but it’s better than being left off the card.
Nothing to write home about in this match. Black makes reasonably quick work of Lashley. Hopefully this leads to bigger things for him.
Match 3: Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler
Otis is a delight. His story with Mandy Rose and Dolph is classic hokey wrestling stuff, and Otis has played his part beautifully.
Otis is the true star of Heavy Machinery and it’s great to see him get a singles match here. Ziggler has the ability to get a good match out of anyone on the roster (see: Goldberg, SummerSlam 2019) so Otis could be the breakout star of the evening.
Otis deals out plenty of punishment to Ziggler, but Dolph turns the tables with a low blow while the ref is distracted. Out comes Mandy Rose, who beats down Sonya Deville and hits Ziggler with a low blow, allowing Otis to hit his Caterpillar finisher. 1-2-3, victory.
It’s a happy ending for Otis and Mandy.
Match 4: Edge vs. Randy Orton
The build to this one has been phenomenal. You didn’t need much of a build to make Edge’s first match in nine years special, but his and Randy’s promos have been outstanding. The Last Man Standing stipulation gives this a ton of potential.
Orton emerges by surprise as his entrance music plays, disguised as a cameraman in all black, setting the tone with an RKO.
This is the first match to take advantage of the Performance Center setting. While all the matches last night (aside from the “boneyard match”) took place in the ring, Edge and Orton have moved to the adjacent gym area.
Now they’ve gone back through the ring area and into a hallway leading to a conference room. We’re getting quite the tour of the PC.
Edge uses the office space like a jungle gym and hits Orton with an innovative elbow drop.
Next stop: storage facility.
Changes of scenery aside, the match is starting to get repetitive. There are only so many ways for these guys to throw strikes and pant before it gets dull. The commentary team of Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton isn’t doing much to add to the excitement, either.
It seemed like it was going to be over when Edge drove Orton through a table.
But the match goes on. Now they’re battling it out on top of a pickup truck.
It went on too long but the finish was great. Edge choked out Orton, told the referee not to count, then destroyed Orton with a con-chair-to.
Interlude: Gronk wins the 24/7 title
Match 5: The Street Profits vs. Austin Theory and Angel Garza
Not much of a story here but these are four electric performers.
Not much of a match, either. The guys got their spots in and The Street Profits retained their titles with ease.
An interesting moment post-match, though. Bianca Belair (Montez Ford’s wife) comes to the rescue and beats down Zelina Vega.
Does that mean we’ll be seeing Bianca on Raw going forward?
Match 6: 5-way SmackDown women’s title match
Remember: This is an elimination match.
The thing to watch here will be the interplay between the champ, Bayley, and her former partner Sasha Banks.
The most interesting way for this match to go would have been for Bayley and Banks to be the last two standing. Instead, Bayley accidentally knocks out Banks in the corner and Sasha is eliminated by Lacey Evans.
We’re down to Lacey and Bayley as the final two.
Bayley retains, with a little help from Sasha, who helps take out Evans. But there’s a look on Sasha’s face that makes you think she wasn’t being entirely charitable.
Match 7: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
Unlike last night, the cinematic match will not go on last. That makes perfect sense, as long as McIntyre-Lesnar doesn’t end in a squash like Goldberg-Strowman.
While we knew what to expect (in general) from the “boneyard match,” this one is a total mystery. What does “Firefly Funhouse match” mean? We’re going to find out.
To attempt to summarize what we just saw would be insane. It was everything we could have dreamed of and more. It was absurd in the best way possible and produced flawlessly. It was the most coherent bit of storytelling WWE has had in years.
On a practical note, it was a brilliant way to get John Cena involved in an incredibly entertaining performance without taking a bump and risking an injury that could jeopardize his movie contracts.
Match 8: Drew McIntyre vs. Brock Lesnar
It was a classic Brock Lesnar match: short and brutal. He hit McIntyre with plenty of F5’s but that wasn’t enough to put away McIntyre. He defeats Lesnar to become the WWE Champion and that’s it for the two-night WrestleMania.
All things considered, not a terrible WrestleMania. Night 1 was stronger than Night 2 but the second night would have been even more exhausting if it had been tacked onto the end of the first night. Will WWE consider making WrestleMania a two-night affair going forward? We’ll see.