Cena vs. Wyatt's Masterpiece and Hot Takes of WWE WrestleMania 36 Day 2 Results
Following a newsworthy Night 1 of WrestleMania 36 weekend, there was no telling how Night 2 of WWE's April extravaganza would measure up. We're mere hours removed from the event and it's safe to say it lived up to the hype.
WWE went into WrestleMania with the goal of putting smiles on people's faces during these trying times, and on the whole, they delivered despite the unfortunate circumstances.
Night 2 was headlined by Brock Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship and the bizarre yet brilliant Firefly Fun House match between Bray Wyatt and John Cena. At the very least, both bouts will have fans talking for a while to come.
The rest of the card was equally entertaining but far from perfect. For every exciting moment, there was a questionable booking decision or an uneventful matchup to go along with it.
All in all, WWE did what they could with WrestleMania to ensure it was as special as possible. Several of the outcomes provided viewers with reasons to want to tune in and see what happens next, assuming the company can find ways to continue taping TV for the foreseeable future.
WrestleMania wasn't well received by everyone and is bound to go down as one of the most polarizing installments in recent memory. The following five takes will tackle the night's hottest topics and and delve into the top takeaways from the historic pay-per-view.
We Need More of the Cinematic Style in WWE
Coming off the spectacles that were the Boneyard match from Night 1 and the Firefly Fun House match from Night 2, it's apparent WWE needs to take the cinematic approach more often to some of their segments.
It's understandable why they wouldn't have already considering an arena full of people likely wouldn't be thrilled with watching something up on the Titantron for an extended period of time. Given the current circumstances, however, this is the perfect way to work around holding matches in an empty arena.
Storytelling in wrestling is key, and the Firefly Fun House matchup in particular had that in spades.
From Bray Wyatt taking John Cena for a trip down memory lane to The Fiend finishing off his foe in a darkened ring, this encapsulated everything that makes Wyatt a creative genius. His matches aren't ordinarily exciting, but in this type of environment, he thrives.
The callbacks to their checkered past and Cena's early beginnings were incredibly well done and should have been rewarding for viewers who have been along for the entire journey. More of that is needed for matches to feel like they actually have a purpose and that everything actually matters.
The closest WWE came to doing something similar to the Firefly Fun House affair was when Wyatt met Randy Orton inside a "House of Horrors" in 2017 and it was a complete dud. What we saw on Sunday night was a vast improvement and may have been a preview of what to expect in the coming months if WWE is for some reason unable to continue taping television from the Performance Center.
WrestleMania Would Benefit from Being a Two-Day Event Permanently
WWE almost had no choice but to break WrestleMania up into two nights this year for the first time ever due to the extenuating circumstances. Hosting a seven-hour pay-per-view with over a dozen matches from an empty arena would have been a complete disaster.
All things considered, the experiment paid off.
Hopefully by next year, everything will be back to normal and WWE can go about booking WrestleMania the way they normally would. If they remain insistent on packing these shows with as many matches as possible, extending it to two days permanently wouldn't be such a bad idea.
It's unknown how practical making 'Mania a two-day event would be if it were to happen, but one thing is for sure: Fans or no fans, it made this year's installment infinitely more bearable and no matchups suffered from the event running longer than it should have.
There's a strong possibility that the Boneyard and Firely Fun House matches would not have been as well-received as they were if fans were forced to sit through six hours of action first. A three hour pay-per-view from WWE is refreshing and everyone involved benefits.
All that said, let's just keep the obnoxious "Too Big For Just Night" tagline exclusive to this year.
Charlotte Flair Doesn't Need the NXT Women's Championship
From a pure wrestling standpoint, Charlotte Flair vs. Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women's Championship was the best bout of Night 2 and arguably all of WrestleMania weekend.
Regardless of how fans feel about Flair, there is no denying that she rises to the occasion when the lights are on bright and is capable of contesting classics. Ripley also proved she belongs in the same conversation as The Queen and that she is indeed the next big thing in WWE's women's division.
Despite all that, Flair besting Ripley for the black-and-gold brand's women's title was the wrong call.
Ripley has been on a roll since arriving in NXT back in August. In that time, she has won WarGames, ended Shayna Baszler's record-setting reign as champion, and beat the best females Raw and SmackDown had to offer at Survivor Series.
There was zero reason for her hot momentum to be interrupted by Flair, who has nothing to gain from holding the NXT Women's Championship again.
It would be one thing if NXT's women's division needed the boost, but they already have the most well-rounded women's division of any brand in WWE. That's in addition to how Ripley is not ready to be called up to the Raw roster permanently just yet. She was barely scratching the surface as champion before dropping the belt to Flair.
Ripley can make up for the loss by regaining the gold soon enough, but WrestleMania was her time to shine and she fell short when it mattered most.
WWE Must Go All in on Drew McIntyre
WWE could have booked whatever outcomes they wanted at WrestleMania 36 given that there was no live audience. The only backlash they would have gotten would have been from the frustrated fans online as opposed to the arena.
Thankfully, the company stayed the course with Drew McIntyre and booked him to beat Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship in the main event of Night 2. This follows McIntyre's huge Royal Rumble victory back in January where he received a massive ovation from those in attendance.
Several Superstars have won their first world titles at WrestleMania before, but McIntyre's moment was extra special because of how decisive his defeat of Lesnar was. Needless to say, WWE would be foolish to not go all in on him coming out of the event.
He has all the tools to be the top face the flagship show has desperately needed on the male side for some time now. Even without a crowd for the foreseeable future, McIntyre has a ton of momentum that should not be wasted with a forgettable title reign.
From Randy Orton to AJ Styles to Seth Rollins, Raw has a slew of credible heels McIntyre can work with going forward. This can't be one of those runs where WWE loses faith in him halfway through. He's the real deal and the only way his WrestleMania win will mean anything is if the aftermath is equally strong.
Edge vs. Randy Orton Failed to Meet Fans' Lofty Expectations
After such a spectacular build, Edge vs. Randy Orton was destined to steal the show at Night 2 of WrestleMania 36. Unfortunately, a lackluster layout combined with subpar commentary prevented it from being an all-time classic.
Last Man Standing matches are typically tricky as they can be either incredibly exhilarating or brutally boring. Edge vs. Orton just so happened to fall in the latter category due to it dragging on and never offering anything overly special until the finish.
Of course, the lack of live crowd played a factor in the match falling flat, but it was up to them to get creative with some of the spots and keep viewers engaged. Instead, the formula felt repetitive, especially since Johnny Gargano and Tommaso Ciampa's brawl around the Performance Center was far more exciting.
While not all bad, Edge vs. Orton definitely missed the mark with how hyped fans were for it going into the pay-per-view. On the bright side, Edge looked like he hadn't missed a beat despite being out of action for over nine years.
For their sake, here's hoping the rivalry isn't over yet and they'll have the chance to redeem themselves with a much better bout on another big stage sooner rather than later.
Graham Mirmina, aka Graham "GSM" Matthews, is an Endicott College alumnus and aspiring journalist. Visit his website, Next Era Wrestling, and "like" his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on all things wrestling.