WrestleMania 36: Which Night Was Better?

WrestleMania 36: Which Night Was Better?

WWE presented its annual “Showcase Of The Immortals” this past weekend, delivering two nights of action for the first time. We all know why we had a two-night event, but let’s take a few moments to look at both nights in a way that I originally wanted to avoid, but is now pretty much unavoidable… in comparison!

WWE WrestleMania 36 The Fiend Bray Wyatt John Cena

For this exercise, we need to put each night on equal footing. So we need criteria for each night, and that criteria is unique to WrestleMania itself.

Here are the points of comparison I am using:

Opening Match
Women’s World Championship Showdown
Unique Setting Match
Men’s World Championship Showdown

Those will make sense as we explain. Now…shall we?

WrestleMania 36 Opening Match

Night 1 - Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross beat The Kabuki Warriors to win the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships
Night 2 - Charlotte Flair beat Rhea Ripley to win the Women’s NXT Championship

Vince McMahon has often stressed the importance of the opening match, and as a booker and a promoter, I follow that same formula. It’s one of the 3 most important matches on my card (along with the match before intermission and the last match of the night).

Alexa Bliss, Nikki Cross, Asuka, and Kairi Sane all did the best they could, served with the tough task of kicking off the entire event (not counting the—well… the Kickoff). They put on a good match, but struggled to keep me in the moment. That is a tall order with no crowd, and was the ongoing theme of the night.

Rhea Ripley and Charlotte Flair had an equally daunting task, and handled it masterfully. I was fully engaged throughout, and this easily a Top 5 match on the card, and in the running for my favorite in-ring match. I’d go so far as to say it’s one of the two best women’s matches in WrestleMania history (the other being WrestleMania 32’s Charlotte Flair vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks WWE Women’s Championship Match).

Advantage: Night 2

Women’s World Championship Showdown

Night 1 - Becky Lynch pinned Shayna Baszler to retain the Raw Women’s Championship
Night 2 - Charlotte Flair beat Rhea Ripley to win the Women’s NXT Championship

You’ll notice I didn’t include the Smackdown Women’s Championship Match. The build was nothing like the Women’s NXT Championship Match, and it felt more like an undercard match (much like the Women’s Tag Team Championship Match above).

I have seen plenty of people call Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler a disappointment, and when I compare my impression of the match to the hype around it, I have to agree. It wasn’t a bad match, but Becky Lynch’s character is build on the fans. Shayna Baszler, the anti-Becky Lynch, played her role well, but it was easy to turn off my engagement for this match. The recycled finish didn’t help matters much, either.

You can see my comments above and see how I felt about Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair. For that reason alone, you know my answer here.

Advantage: Night 2

The WrestleMania Undercard

Night 1
Alexa Bliss & Nkki Cross beat The Kabuki Warriors for the WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Elias pinned King Corbin
Sami Zayn beat Daniel Bryan to retain the Intercontinental Championship
John Morrison beat Kofi Kingston and Jimmy Uso to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championships in a Ladder Match
Kevin Owens pinned Seth Rollins

Night 2
Aleister Black pinned Bobby Lashley
Otis pinned Dolph Ziggler
Edge beat Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing Match
The Street Profits beat Angel Garza & Austin Theory
Bayley beat Lacey Evans, Sasha Banks, Tamina & Naomi to retain the Smackdown Women’s Championship

You have a lot of good choices here, as everyone worked hard to deliver a great performance. If I were to rank these matches, the Top 5 would include Zayn/Bryan, the Ladder Match, Edge/Orton, Profits vs. Garza/Theory, and Owens/Rollins. In no particular order, but three of those five came from Night 1. I feel like Night 1 had the slight advantage there, but again it’s slight.

Advantage: Night 1

Unique Setting Match

Night 1 - The Undertaker beat AJ Styles in a Boneyard Match
Night 2 - Bray Wyatt & The Fiend beat John Cena in a Firefly Funhouse Match

Many are calling these matches the perfect end-games for both The Undertaker and John Cena, but I don’t think it’s the end for either. However, both of these matches were outstanding, even if some can’t look at them as “a match.”

I absolutely loved the Boneyard Match. AJ Styles deserves an Oscar for his performance, and The Undertaker was made to look like a million bucks. The setting was perfect, the action was enjoyable, and the finish made sense. Even the “spooky” Undertaker elements like teleportation and controlling fire made sense, and each added to the match.

The Firefly Funhouse Match was a masterpiece in its own right as well. You can’t do this on any other WrestleMania but this one. It was entertaining from start to finish, it was fun, and I’ll definitely watch it again. It left people talking, had elements you’d never see otherwise, and to me felt satisfying in the end.

This is a tough call, but I have to give the (slight) nod to the Boneyard Match as it was tighter, made more sense, and told the better story. But I mean it when I say slight. That damn Firefly Funhouse Match was a thing of beauty.

Advantage: Night 1

Men’s World Championship Showdown

Night 1 - Braun Strowman pinned Goldberg to win his first world title, the WWE Universal Championshp
Night 2 - Drew McIntyre pinned Brock Lesnar to win his first world title, the WWE Championship

You know, I really enjoyed Night 1! I promise I did. But I don’t even hae to go into detail here. There is no comparison.

Goldberg vs. Braun Strowman was a serviceable match that was really a means to an end. It didn’t do much to generate a ton of excitement, and for me this was a foregone conclusion. Conversely, plenty of people were worried that Drew McIntyre wouldn’t win. WWE played that well, but in the end the right guy won. And Drew McIntyre won in what was the superior match, too.

Advantage: Night 2

Which WrestleMania Night Wins?

When you add it all up, you’re looking at a 3-2 win for Night 2. And that also “feels” about right. Both nights were amazing, and the escape we all needed before we could move on with our lives and stamp out this damn virus. To say WWE and their performers stepped up big time is an understatement, they delivered exactly what the world needed.

Night 2 might be the winner here, but everyone should be proud.

Forced to choose, which night of WrestleMania delivered over the other? It’s close for me, is it close for you? Let me know in the comments below!

Greg DeMarco is a life-long wrestling fan who has been providing analysis and perspective online since 2010. He's also worked for various wrestling promotions including the NWA and Ring Of Honor, and currently promotes IZW Wrestling in Arizona.

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