Becky Lynch Retaining Was Right Call and Hot Takes of WWE WrestleMania 36 Day 1
Becky Lynch retaining the Raw Women's Championship over Shayna Baszler was bout the most surprising outcome of the first night of WWE WrestleMania 36. It was also the right call.
That is just one hot take from the explosive WWE Network broadcast that saw a massive title change, a cinematic achievement and the last stand of a Monday Night Wars icon.
Dive deeper into each of them with this recap of the first half of this year's Showcase of the Immortals.
Becky Lynch Retaining Was the Right Call
All signs pointed to Shayna Baszler defeating Becky Lynch, ending her yearlong run as Raw women's champion and taking her place atop the red brand ahead of the third match of this year's WrestleMania. That is why The Man's successful title defense, achieved cleanly and in the center of the ring, took so many off guard.
It is also part of the reason it was the right call.
We live in a world where wrestling fans quickly lash out at the predictable. They take to keyboards and express their pent-up frustration, lashing out at WWE officials because they knew so-and-so was winning. So when the company flips the script and goes with the unexpected, it should be commended.
Especially when there is a valid reason or two for decision.
First, with uncertainty surrounding WWE's ability to continue producing shows given the current coronavirus pandemic, it makes sense that management would keep the title on an established star rather than switch it to someone like The Queen of Spades with no guarantee it will have an opportunity to build her up in the immediate aftermath of the match.
Secondly, Lynch winning the title plants the seeds for the impending return of Ronda Rousey, which has been reported by Tom Colohue of Sportskeeda.
No disrespect to Baszler and what she has accomplished over the course of her three years with the company but the money match is Lynch-Rousey, particularly after The Man became the first competitor to pin Rousey in a WWE ring.
To get there, and beyond, it makes sense that the often braggadocios Lynch would knock off one of Rowdy's closest friends.
As for Baszler's credibility and badassery, both are retained, even in defeat.
Just like in a real, competitive fight, she got caught. Lynch turned her momentum about her and, for three seconds, proved to be the better wrestler. Had they wrestled that match 50 more times, the challenger may have won all of them.
But for that one split second, Lynch pulled a page from the playbook of Kairi Sane, one of Baszler's greatest foes, and beat her.
Shayna will recover, Lynch will continue to roll and both will be better off for having told the story they did Saturday night.
Boneyard Match Exceeds Expectations, Gives Look at What Wrestling Can Be
To say the idea of a cinematic wrestling match emanating from a graveyard was one that was not at all appealing to fans would be an understatement. With that said, the main event of Saturday's Night 1 of WrestleMania was a brilliant bit of artistry that allowed Undertaker to mask his physical weaknesses while showcasing the creativity that has been a staple of his character since his debut 30 years ago.
Furthermore, it presented a match in an entirely different way than fans are used to.
Much like Broken Matt Hardy introduced the idea of taking wrestling from the squared circle and wholly embracing its theatricality, the Boneyard Match accepted that Undertaker's character is one who transcends the squared circle. It is showmanship and performance art as much as it is pro wrestling physicality, and it went above and beyond to present those features in an absolutely bonkers main event.
The question now is whether or not WWE reads the positive feedback the match garnered across social media and attempts a similar bout sooner than later.
As long as the right creative minds are in the room when it is dreamed up there is no reason, especially in the current climate with the coronavirus pandemic gripping the world, that we cannot see more action step out of the Performance Center and into unique settings and venues that lean heavily on the story, character and performance art of sports entertainment.
Braun Strowman's Universal Championship Win Is a Letdown
The worst match of the first night of WrestleMania 36 was Braun Strowman's two-minute win over Goldberg for the Universal Championship. Not because of the length or the lack of offense outside of spears and powerslams but because Strowman won at all.
The Monster Among Men has done nothing of late to earn the title match. He was last seen losing his Intercontinental Championship to Sami Zayn at Elimination Chamber and, truth be told, has not been a credible option to capture that particular championship in well over a year.
The fill-in for Roman Reigns, his victory was a massive letdown for fans who appreciate the chase and the journey to championship gold. For Strowman, there was none. Plucked from a pile of afterthoughts and threatening to miss out on main card WrestleMania match for the second consecutive year, he lucked out and captured the gold.
His recent comments about indie wrestlers, their work and financial situations affected by the coronavirus pandemic did him no favors and made him even less sympathetic as the show approached.
For Strowman personally, it cannot be how he saw himself finally getting over the hurdle and capturing the title. After three years of singles competition, battling top stars in hard-hitting matches, his moment should have meant more.
Instead, he captured the Universal Championship because there were no better options.
Not exactly the ringing endorsement one would hope for from their magical, career-defining moment.
Goldberg's Aura Diminished After Latest Loss
Goldberg is a character whose entire aura is centered around his sparkling win-loss record. He made a name for himself by riding a wave of 174 consecutive victories in WCW and, even after his first loss to Kevin Nash in December 1998, rarely lost.
Since returning in 2016 for shots here and there, the Hall of Famer has lost to Brock Lesnar, Undertaker and Braun Strowman.
There is no shame in losing a match to Lesnar or The Deadman. Hell, there would have been nothing wrong with him eating a spear and taking that "L" against Roman Reigns in the regularly scheduled match. But when you have an icon the caliber of Goldberg walk to the ring and lose in such definitive fashion to a guy who has spent part of 2020 dancing with New Day and another losing a feud to Sami Zayn, it chips away at the aura that has made him a household name for the last 23 years.
Goldberg is one of those massive stars who still shows interest in returning to WWE and doing business with the company. Why even threaten to harm his credibility or adversely alter his character for a championship switch that was never in the plans and essentially happened on a last-minute whim.
1st Half Suggests 2-Night WrestleMania Could Be Best for Event's Future
The first half of the first-ever two-night WrestleMania did what we expected: It cut down on the ungodly long runtime of shows from the past 10 years and allowed the audience a much-needed breather.
Too often over the last decade, the Show of Shows has dragged on far too long, hurting the attention span of the audience and leaving the viewers at home dumbfounded by the unimaginable length of the entire presentation.
It has long needed to be split into a multiday presentation, and last year's monstrous spectacle, which saw Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey take to the squared circle after midnight for the main event, was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back.
Sure, this year's format was concocted almost certainly to give fans a break from having 18 matches held in front of no fans at the Performance Center, but at least in the case of night one, it worked.
The question now is how WWE pulls off such a thing in a huge stadium setting. Considering the number of multiple-day concert festivals, it is possible. Whether Vince McMahon revisits the possibility in time for next year's spectacle in Los Angeles remains to be seen.
One thing is for certain: His fans, already exhausted by the sheer amount of professional wrestling available for their consumption over the course of WrestleMania weekend, would appreciate it.