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The second night of WrestleMania 36 came off a first night that probably overachieved. Most of the matches were solid and entertaining, and the final segment was one of the most popular WWE matches of the last several years. Perhaps that raised the bar for the second night of WrestleMania, after expectations were reasonably tempered heading into the weekend, a strong first night got fans excited for night two, which on paper looked like a superior show.
Instead, the second night greatly underachieved. While the opening match was very good, and the storytelling was effective in some of the undercard matches, the major matches of the show were largely failures, including a very disappointing Edge vs Orton match, and a lazy main event. The Firefly Fun House match was certainly interesting...it wasn't boring and people will be talking about it more than anything else on the show.
Obviously, the show was going to be under some difficult restrictions to succeed. However, we saw plenty of instances this weekend where men and women did have really good matches, and did put out an entertaining product. It wasn't impossible for this show to be good, at times it was very entertaining. Through some weird choices on how to present the product during tonight's show, WWE handicapped the talent and the result was a poor second night.
Brock Lesnar vs Drew McIntyre: *1/2
This wasn't any good. The major problem was that this was exactly the same match as Goldberg vs Strowman from the night before. Lesnar hit a few F5's in the beginning (Goldberg hit some spears) and Drew kept kicking out. Then Drew hit a few Claymore Kicks (Strowman hit his powerslams) and then pinned Lesnar for the title. It was exactly the same match; and I'm sorry, that is lazy match design. Fans deserve something a little bit more creative in the main event of WrestleMania.
Lesnar and McIntyre are better than Goldberg and Strowman, so the execution was slightly better than the previous night. However, these guys could have had a really entertaining big-guy fight where they beat each other up for 5-10 minutes. Instead we got a replay of last night, just with different wrestlers in the role. I'm not hating on Drew because he has a ton of talent, but I just really expected a lot more out of this match.
Edge vs Randy Orton: 1/2*
If you were to tell me that this match was going to be worse than Elias vs Baron Corbin, I would have thought you were crazy. Yet WWE delivered a melodramatic, excruciatingly long backstage brawl that greatly undersold how good of an angle that WWE had produced up until this point.
If this match was just a simple, No Disqualification match with maybe a little bit of backstage brawling, it would have been much better. Kevin Owens and Seth Rollins proved that you could have a good match like that last night. Instead WWE leaned into a strange brawl where the guys hated each other so much...they went out of their way to do a lot of wacky stunts involving workout equipment, ceiling decorations and pick-up trucks. The solmen, golf tournament commentary from the announce team didn't help. I understand that they had to call an audible due to the circumstances, but they didn't do this kind of match. We saw this weekend it was very possible to have a great, intense match with real stakes. WWE chose to do this wacky match, and it really did these guys a disservice.
The good news is that the angle and storyline for this match was so good, they should still have enough juice to have a really good match when WWE is eventually able to run proper shows once again. The feud can still be great even if this match was a dud, and Edge and Orton did try really hard, the format here just didn't work.
The Fiend vs John Cena:No Rating
Haha, I'm not putting a rating on this thing. I'm sure there are people out there that really liked this, thought it was brilliant and super-entertaining. I thought that it was pretty funny at parts, especially with a lot of the spoofs and call-backs. However, I don't think anyone who doesn't regularly follow WWE (and that is a large portion of the WrestleMania audience) would really be turned off, or at least very confused, by this segment since it is so unusual and only makes a tiny amount of sense to the regular viewer due to how wacky The Fiend character has been over the last ten months.
I am disappointed because John Cena is the biggest star in the company, and WWE doesn't have him at their disposal all the time. He should be saved for major matches and angles, and it feels like a waste to use him in this sort of campy, comedy segment at WrestleMania. Due to his history in WWE, his role in the company as the last major star the promotion created, his talent on the microphone and his ability to work with new guys and make them matter, he brings a lot to the table and I saw this program as kind of a waste, because at the end of the day, does Bray feel like a bigger star?
Charlotte vs Rhea Ripley: ***½
This was a really strong opening match. The women were really loud in the match; which helps a lot with the empty-arena setting and it sells the contest as a real struggle. Charlotte's greatest strength has been her presence in the ring and how she carries herself as a star, and that was in full effect in this match, with her doing a lot of talking and really dragging the best out of Ripley.
I don't have a problem with Charlotte winning. I didn't think it was wise for Becky Lynch to beat Shayna Baszler, but that situation is very different. In the case of Ripley, she is very young and still in NXT, she can take a loss to Charlotte and actually gain something from it. Baszler is nearly 40, and has already been pushed on the main roster as a real killer. A loss for her has a much stronger negative impact, because WWE had already committed to pushing her on the main roster, and her shelf life is not going to be as long as Ripley's.
This was long and boring. Match started with an obvious formula, with both Tamina and Naomi doing the patented "Do a bunch of offense and then immediately get eliminated" that happens in every WWE multi-man elimination matches. Then you had the faux-breakup moment between the two heels, only for them to work together and win the match. There just wasn't a lot here and it was pretty late in the show for this kind of match. It is a shame that WWE did a lot to build Lynch/Baszler and Charlotte/Ripley, and just kind of tossed this match together to get some people on the show. Bayley (and Banks) deserve more focus than that.
Aleister Black vs Bobby Lashley: *½
This was just typical bad WWE writing. I have no idea why these guys are wrestling, the match had almost no story, which was a big contrast to the previous women's match that was really strong in the storytelling department. The finish was just terrible WWE schtick, with Lana randomly demanding that Lashley stop going for the dominator and instead try to spear Black, with Black killing him with the Black Mass. This wasn't a good way to get Black over, and it made Lashley and Lana look ridiculous.
Otis vs Dolph Ziggler: **
The match was nothing special, but this was all about the storyline and that delivered. Really, this would have been a much better match in front of the live crowd, because I think Otis would have been really over with the audience and would have popped big for all of the stuff at the end. The video package before the match was very good as well; I wonder if they will ever reveal who the omnipotent security camera hacker was?
The Street Profits vs Angel Garza and Austin Theory: **
Quick match that was no different than what you would see on RAW each week. The energy both teams brought was a nice pick-me-up from the solemn tone of the Last Man Standing match that preceded it. Not much else to say about this one.