WWE WrestleMania 36 will reportedly feature some “zany” matches on what is shaping up to be the most … [+]
WWE typically describes WrestleMania as its biggest pay-per-view of the year, but there are other adjectives that are much more fitting for WrestleMania 36, like odd, strange, unique and—well, quite frankly—bizarre.
While most of the sports world has completely shut down its games and events due to the coronavirus pandemic, WWE is moving forward with its shows the only way it knows how. The company moved WrestleMania 36, which was originally set to emanate from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, to its most unique location ever, releasing a statement on WWE.com announcing that the show would now be a two-day event airing from both the Performance Center but also “multiple locations over two nights” and, of course, with no fans in attendance. WWE has tried to work out the kinks of producing audience-less shows over the past couple of weeks on Raw and SmackDown, and suffice it to say that both shows—which thrive on the connection between fans and wrestlers—simply haven’t been the same.
WWE, however, is attempting to make the best out of a bad and unfortunate situation. Also for the first time ever, WWE will tape WrestleMania in advance, doing so this Wednesday and Thursday in a sensible move but one that could be problematic in today’s world where spoilers seem to leak for just about everything. The widespread belief is that WWE will film two endings to its WrestleMania matches to prevent that from happening, which would just be the latest in a long line of unconventional booking methods for a pay-per-view that is shaping up to be anything but normal. Perhaps the weirdest match that’s been all but confirmed for the flagship PPV is The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles, who are likely going to face off in a “Bone Yard” match—whatever that it is—that is WWE’s way of bringing out all the bells and whistles for what is shaping up to be a wacky WrestleMania.
The decision to book a never-before-seen bout seems to be a broader plan of WWE booking some peculiarly-styled matches, likely to alleviate the obvious concerns about hosting an entire show of traditional wrestling bouts without the roar of the crowd echoing through the rafters. PWInsider’s Mike Johnson (h/t What Culture) reported on Tuesday that WWE is going to add “random” and “zany” matches to the show:
“I was told to expect more matches to WrestleMania, believe it or not. I was told to expect some random sorta zany matches announced. That’s what I was told earlier today.”
Another marquee match at WrestleMania 36 that is expected to receive special treatment is John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt. According to Gorilla Position (h/t Cageside Seats), the match between “The Champ” and “The Fiend” is going to be vastly different from the typical match you see on WWE programming, especially on the grand stage of WrestleMania:
“John Cena vs. The Fiend at WrestleMania 36 ‘will get a full blown movie treatment with a unique look & feel’, according to Gorilla Position. It’ll be shot in a warehouse, like the Randy Orton/Bray Wyatt House of Horrors match at Payback in 2017.”
That match between Wyatt and Randy Orton was universally panned and was even voted as the worst match of the year in 2017, but let’s be honest: If ever there was a year when it’s totally understandable for WWE try to think outside of the box and do something wildly unlikely anything we’ve ever seen before, this is it. Many of WWE’s WrestleMania plans have been thrown into complete disarray, after all. It was recently revealed that a number of WWE superstars were “not willing to come” to Orlando for WWE’s TV tapings while at least two WrestleMania matches have been changed because some stars are unable to make it to WrestleMania, according to Wrestling Observer Radio’s Dave Meltzer (h/t Wrestling Inc): “WWE Superstars Dana Brooke and Rey Mysterio are currently in quarantine due to the coronavirus pandemic.”
Brooke will no longer be in the six-pack challenge for the SmackDown Women’s Championship while Mysterio’s expected US title match against Andrade was scrapped. That resulted in WWE revealing two quite random matches for WrestleMania 36 earlier this week: Andrade vs. Bobby Lashley and The Street Profits vs. Andrade and Angel Garza for the Raw Tag Team Championship. This is a situation in which WWE, which will reportedly be utilizing a skeleton crew of backstage producers this week, will also be doing the same with its rosters of all superstars. In essence, WWE has had to figure out who’s available and how they can be slotted onto the WrestleMania card to give fans two nights of quality entertainment.
All of these circumstances have led to a WrestleMania pay-per-view that is so out of the ordinary, there will never be another like it.
You’ve got Edge returning from a nine-year hiatus to wrestle his first singles bout in a Last Man Standing match with absolutely no fans in attendance. You’ve got two big babyfaces in Drew McIntyre and Roman Reigns who are expected to defeat two loathed part-timers in Brock Lesnar and Goldberg without what was sure to be a raucous reaction to both of those “WrestleMania moments.” Becky Lynch’s year-long Raw Women’s title reign may very well come to an end in front of zero people. Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens is reaching its climax with no AOP around. Rob Gronkowski is hosting a show that really doesn’t need a host. Meanwhile, some marquee stars, like Braun Strowman, probably won’t be on the pay-per-view at all. There will be no battle royals and probably no pyrotechnics, either.
But Vince McMahon is moving forward with this show, despite the massive financial hit the company will take by doing so. That’s a bold move that—whether for better or worse—will lead to an atypical WrestleMania pay-per-view that will never be duplicated and, in all likelihood, will never be imitated, either.