WWE WrestleMania 36 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Day 2

Erik Beaston@@ErikBeastonFeatured ColumnistApril 5, 2020

WWE WrestleMania 36 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Day 2

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    Credit: WWE.com

    After an explosive first night, WrestleMania 36 returns Sunday for the second half of this year's Showcase of the Immortals, with a match card featuring the top stars in WWE.

    • WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Brock Lesnar
    • Firefly Fun House Match: John Cena vs. "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt
    • Last Man Standing Match: Edge vs. Randy Orton
    • NXT Women's Championship Match: Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair
    • Raw Tag Team Championship Match: The Street Profits vs. Angel Garza and Austin Theory
    • Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match for the SmackDown Women's Championship: Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Tamina vs. Naomi vs. Lacey Evans
    • Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler
    • Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley
    • Kickoff Show Match: Liv Morgan vs. Natalya

    The coronavirus pandemic has forced this year's extravaganza out of a stadium for the first time in 13 years and into the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.

    Would the likes of Cena, Lesnar, Edge and Flair provide an equally magnificent followup to Saturday's blockbuster?

    Find out with this recap of Sunday's WWE Network and pay-per-view telecast.

Kickoff Show Match: Natalya vs. Liv Morgan

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Celebrating a decade of WrestleManias, Natalya battled the woman who may well celebrate the next 10 years on the grand stage, Liv Morgan, in the night's opening match.

    The Queen of Harts toyed with her less experienced opponent early but found out quickly that the former Riott Squad member was fully capable of matching up against her.

    Natalya continued to show off the renewed aggression that has been a staple of her work of late, stretching Morgan in a classic surfboard and demanding the official "ask her" while the underdog babyface screamed in agony.

    Morgan finally created separation with a modified Codebreaker but could only keep her third-generation opponent down for a count of two. She followed up with a dropkick to the back but found herself planted face-first in the center of the ring.

    Natalya attempted the Sharpshooter, but Morgan countered into a small package for two. A step-up enzuigiri followed, stunning Nattie. A series of roll-ups ensued and Morgan kept the former women’s champion down for the three-count and upset victory.

             

    Result

    Morgan defeated Natalya

             

    Grade

    C

               

    Analysis

    This was fine for what it was. As Corey Graves put it on commentary, it was an appetizer for the main course and it gave the competitors involved the opportunity to compete on the show.

    Morgan sold really well, screaming in pain when she had to and really bringing her vocals to the match. She also never looked out of place or overmatched by Natalya, who can have a tendency to wrestle circles around lesser talented workers.

    The win was a solid one for Morgan, but it would have made more impact if she was actively involved in something meaningful.

NXT Women's Championship Match: Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair

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    Credit: WWE.com

    The Queen of WrestleMania, arguably the greatest female competitor in the history of The Show of Shows, Charlotte Flair kicked off the evening's main card, challenging Rhea Ripley for the NXT Women's Championship.

    A brash, arrogant Flair started quick, targeting the previously injured left knee of Ripley. The Australian responded, delivering the Riptide from out of nowhere and scoring a near-fall. The Queen rolled to the sanctuary of the floor.

    The fight continued there as Ripley delivered a somersault senton off the ring steps to maintain control of the bout. The champion's early dominance came to an end when Flair again targeted the injured knee, hanging it up on the left leg. She stomped away at it as Ripley screamed in agony.

    Flair punished the limb and wrapped it around the ring post, then followed up with an ugly chop block that would make the dirtiest of NFL players envious. 

    The Nightmare finally recovered and slammed her challenger face-first into the mat, creating some separation. She followed with a barrage of knees to the face and followed with a basement dropkick. She cut off a moonsault attempt and scored another near-fall as the toll taken by the physicality set in on both competitors.

    A missile dropkick downed Flair but did more damage to the champion's knee. She shook off the pain and applied her own submission, only for The Queen to escape the cloverleaf and again target her opponent's knee.

    A hobbled Nightmare continued to fight, hoisting Flair onto the top rope. The challenger countered, dropping Ripley face-first to the mat below. The Queen tried for a moonsault but caught a foot to the face. She recovered just in time to deliver a Spear that obliterated Ripley.

    The figure-four leglock followed but Ripley refused to quit despite the pain shooting down her knee. Flair bridged over into the Figure Eight and picked up the win and title via submission.

          

    Result

    Flair defeated Ripley to win the NXT women's title

          

    Grade

    A

        

    Analysis

    Yes, Flair's win opens her up to working with an immensely talented women's roster in NXT. It adds star power to Wednesday nights as the brand attempts to knock off All Elite Wrestling in Wednesday night's wrestling war.

    It also provides the opportunity for rematches and given the quality of this one, they are more than welcome.

    One has to wonder whether it was too early to dethrone Ripley, though, after so much work went into building her credibility and putting her over the previously unbeatable Shayna Baszler.

    While time will tell if the decision was the right one, there is no denying how fantastic this was.

    It was physical, intense, hard-hitting and captured the spirit of two women with a dislike for one another fighting not only for the title but also for the soul of the women's division in NXT.

    The drama was high late but in the end, the most decorated and celebrated woman in the history of the event earned another milestone victory.

    Ripley is a star and this match proved it. The title will be hers again, regardless of whether she should have lost it here.

Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley

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    Credit: WWE.com

    In the night's second bout, Aleister Black battled Bobby Lashley in a match with no build but two stars seeking a fight on wrestling's grandest stage.

    An aggressive Black took the fight to Lashley early but a missed moonsault on the arena floor allowed The All Mighty to deliver an overhead suplex to drive the air out of his opponent and create a much-needed breather. He followed up, dropping Black on the barricade.

    Back in the squared circle, Lashley delivered a big neckbreaker as he attempted to wear the former NXT champion down. Black fought back with a kick to the chest but his opponent answered with a snap powerslam for two.

    Black finally delivered the springboard moonsault on the floor and appeared to have momentum on his side but Lashley cut him off with a crossbody for another near-fall. Lashley set up for the Dominator but Lana hopped on the apron and demanded he opted for the Spear instead.

    A confident Lashley set up and rushed toward Black, only to run right into Black Mass. Three seconds later, Black had his first victory on the 'Mania stage.

           

    Result

    Black defeated Lashley

             

    Grade

    C+

            

    Analysis

    Ideally, Black would have been involved in something more meaningful but he scored a WrestleMania win and that was exactly what the match called for.

    From a quality perspective, this was a typical TV match. It was solid, if unspectacular, and even managed to set the stage for an eventual divorce storyline involving the increasingly frustrated Lashley and his loudmouthed wife, Lana.

    In all, it was harmless fun that hopefully propels Black into a higher-profile position on the Raw roster post-WrestleMania.

Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Sonya Deville accompanied Dolph Ziggler for his much-anticipated grudge match with Otis, a fight rooted in an innocent-crush-turned-sordid and manipulative romance.

    A determined and vengeful Otis attacked from the opening bell, overwhelming The Showoff with his size and strength. A superkick cut him off and Ziggler seized control of the bout, talking trash as he took the fight to his much larger opponent. A dropkick earned-him a two-count.

    Otis finally turned the tides, launching Ziggler into the corner. "Oh no!" he exclaimed as he pumped up, shaking off his opponent's offense and answering with a wicked clothesline. A big bodyslam followed before Otis stepped on his opponent's spine, with all of his 330 pounds punishing him.

    Deville watched on in disbelief from ringside as the relentless babyface avenged months of emotional torment at the hands of his opponent. Back inside, Otis delivered a big splash and set up for the caterpillar.

    Deville hopped up on the apron and provided a distraction that allowed Ziggler to deliver a deliberate and blatant low blow.

    Having seen enough, Mandy Rose made her way to ringside and slapped Deville before delivering a low blow of her own to Ziggler. Otis capitalized, delivered the caterpillar and scored the win.

    After the match, Rose embraced the victor and stood by his side during a post-match celebration. Otis scooped her up and the two shared a big kiss to close out the festivities. "Otis gets the win and Otis gets the girl," commentator Michael Cole said.

            

    Result

    Otis defeated Ziggler

         

    Grade

    A

              

    Analysis

    This was the over-the-top soap-opera finale this storyline deserved.

    From Ziggler and Deville nearly manipulating their way to victory to Rose making the save and kissing Otis, everything that needed to happen to justify the storyline did. It was executed perfectly, and so what if the match wasn't a mat classic, it still delivered the crowd-pleasing outcome it needed to.

    Otis and Mandy's union after the bell was this generation's Macho Man and Elizabeth.

    OK, maybe not quite that iconic but there will be a whole crop of young fans who will rightly remember that moment. It is a testament to the writing team and the performers involved that it meant so much, captivated many and made for a WrestleMania moment as it did.

    Kudos to all involved for a hell of a lot of fun from start to finish...at least until the writing team books the inevitable mixed tag team match.

Last Man Standing Match: Edge vs. Randy Orton

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Edge's nine-year journey back to WWE culminated with his return to WrestleMania in a Last Man Standing match against Randy Orton.

    Any potential win was in jeopardy early as The Viper posed as a cameraman, then came from out of nowhere to attack The Rated-R Superstar with consecutive RKOs.

    Orton beat Edge into the stands and then backstage, pummeling his former tag team partner into the gym area of the Performance Center. He hung the babyface up in gym equipment and forced him to the floor, demanding the official start a count. The momentary distraction allowed Edge to use the equipment to hoist himself up and deliver a kick to The Viper.

    Edge unloaded a few right hands as he fought to get his bearings about him. The 2012 Hall of Famer creatively used the surrounding equipment to fuel his attack until Orton recovered just enough to send his opponent into a wall.

    The fight spilled into the production area, where they exchanged clubbing forearms. Orton with an uppercut, to which Edge responded by sending his third-generation opponent into a steel garage door. Back in the arena, Orton regained control, sending his rival neck-and-throat-first into a barricade.

    The fight again spilled elsewhere, this time into the office era of the Performance Center. Orton slammed Edge face-first into a steel meeting table and The Rated-R Superstar responded by sending him into a wall. From there, the match transitioned into a storage area, where The Viper continued to target the neck of his opponent, all while nursing his left elbow.

    Edge wiggled his hand, trying to get some feeling back in his extremities, all while continuing to combat the onslaught of The Viper. He then drove Orton through a table, with his elbow catching the ribs of his opponent on the way down.

    The never-ending match ended up on top of a pickup truck, where Orton delivered a draping DDT onto the covered bed. His body beaten and battered, The Viper watched in amusement while Edge retreated to the top of a production truck.

    The Viper joined his rival there and set up for the punt. Edge popped up, though, and delivered a Spear that left Orton wailing in pain. He went for another Spear but this one proved ill-advised as Orton caught him with an RKO.

    It took Orton roughly five hours to tease, then set up a con-chair-to, only for Edge to grab hold of his new submission hold. The commentary team sold the rib injury and Orton's struggles to breathe late in the match. 

    A tearful Edge stood over the unconscious body of his opponent and blasted him with a con-chair-to. The referee counted to 10 and awarded Edge the win.

    A regretful Edge placed his head on his opponent's almost apologetically.

          

    Result

    Edge defeated Orton

        

    Grade

    B-

        

    Analysis

    If this thing trimmed off 10 hours, it still would have been too long. 

    There was too much fighting all over the building and too much unnecessary punching and kicking. An entire portion, particularly in the office, could have been removed and still achieved everything it did. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case and the match missed the epic feel it was going for.

    With that said, the last 10 minutes were fantastic.

    The storytelling of Orton ramping up the violence, only to succumb to the rib injury and breathing complications that came with it, was superb. Edge's reaction to his actions was even better, conveying that behind the hatred that had developed for his opponent, there was still a love for a man with whom he had shared many memorable moments.

    It is a shame that Edge's return match was forced into these confines and hurt by a mismanagement of time, though.

Raw Tag Team Title Match: The Street Profits vs. Austin Theory and Angel Garza

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Raw tag team champions The Street Profits started hot in Sunday's defense against Angel Garza and Austin Theory, leaving the challengers reeling early.

    A superkick from Garza to Angelo Dawkins allowed the heels to take control. They isolated the big man, cutting him off from partner Montez Ford while Zelina Vega watched on approvingly from ringside.

    A hot tag to Ford sparked a babyface comeback that saw him wipe out both Theory and his own partner, Dawkins, at ringside. Garza followed with a moonsault from the top rope to the floor, as the heels regained the upper hand.

    Back inside the ring, Garza delivered a springboard moonsault for a two-count. 

    The action broke down, and Theory delivered a TKO to Dawkins. Ford soared through the air, connecting with the frog splash to the back of the newcomer. Dawkins rolled over and made the pin to pick up the win.

    After the match, the heels attacked until Bianca Belair hit the ring to make the save, laying Vega out. She celebrated with her husband, Ford, and Dawkins to close things out.

           

    Result

    The Street Profits defeated Theory and Garza

          

    Grade

    C+

        

    Analysis

    The match was too rushed to reach its full potential, but everyone was showcased and Ford's huge frog splash is always worth watching.

    The real meat of this entire ordeal was what appeared to be the official call-up of Bianca Belair.

    The EST has been noticeably absent from NXT of late, and with the focus turning to new faces and rivalries, it makes sense that she would make her presence felt on the main roster, especially with Ford having the success he has on Raw.

    Introducing her to a rivalry that feels like it may only be getting started, and positioning her against Vega, is an appropriate way to kick things off for her on Monday nights, at least until a path to the Raw women's title presents itself.

Fatal 5-Way Elimination Match for the SmackDown Women's Championship

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    Credit: WWE.com

    SmackDown women's champion Bayley, Sasha Banks, Lacey Evans and Naomi wasted no time singling out Tamina and working her over in an attempt to eliminate the match's greatest threat. It backfired as she shrugged them off.

    A chop block to the back of the knee downed Tamina, who rolled to the floor to regroup.

    After staving off elimination and bailing to the floor, Bayley and Banks watched as Tamina bowled over Evans and Naomi. The champion and her best friend re-entered the ring and suffered similar fates.

    The action broke down and Banks, Naomi and Tamina—originally known as Team B.A.D.—momentarily reunited. That ended with a superkick from Tamina to The Legit Boss.

    With a sense of urgency setting in, the competition uncorked signature moves on the second-generation competitor, eliminating her from the match. Tamina eliminated.

    A relentlessly aggressive Bayley took the fight to Naomi, stomping away at her in the corner while Banks and Evans recovered on the floor. The Boss joined the champion in targeting Naomi, punishing her with a double-team arsenal. 

    Bayley caught Naomi in a Rear View attempt, but the challenger delivered a Stunner. She caught Banks with the finisher and tried for a submission, but the champion exploded from nowhere with a knee to the back of the head. Seconds later, The Boss scored the elimination. Naomi eliminated.

    Faced with a numbers disadvantage, Evans entered the ring, unafraid of the challenge confronting her. Banks and Bayley double-teamed The Sassy Southern Belle in the corner, then dropped her with a double backbreaker. They scored a two-count, much to their disdain.

    Bayley taunted Evans, who moved out the way as the champion crashed into her friend with a knee. Banks returned to the ring and took exception to what just happened. A brief disagreement gave way to Evans blasting The Boss with the Woman's Right for the pinfall. Banks eliminated.

    Frustrated that her numbers advantage had dissipated, Bayley unleashed a ruthless assault on Evans, targeting the right arm of her challenger in an attempt to take away her devastating finisher. The Lady recovered and delivered a springboard moonsault from the top rope but could only keep the champion down for two.

    Moments later, Banks re-entered the ring and delivered the Backstabber to Evans. Bayley capitalized and picked up the win.

          

    Result

    Bayley defeated Banks, Evans, Naomi and Tamina to retain

         

    Grade

    B

        

    Analysis

    While messy early, this match settled down and told a number of a stories.

    First, there was the dominance of Tamina. Then, Banks and Bayley's friendship nearly fractured before our eyes following a miscommunication and mid-match confrontation.

    From there, Bayley and Evans wrote the latest chapter in their rivalry until The Boss returned to show Bayley their friendship is still intact.

    Or is it?

    The Boss' post-match body language and facial suggestions suggested she may be keeping her friend close but her enemy closer in her quest to win the women's title.

    The action was infinitely better than anyone could have expected, the stories fueled it and the result was Bayley's first really good title defense not involving Charlotte Flair.

Firefly Fun House Match: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Bray Wyatt introduced the audience to a world where gods, monsters, angels and demons are neighbors.

    "You're about to face your greatest opponent to date: yourself," he told John Cena before stepping out of the Firefly Fun House. When the camera panned out, Cena inexplicably had teleported in.

    At the urging Ramblin' Rabbit, Cena stepped through the same door as Wyatt and into darkness, where he was confronted by the Vince McMahon-looking puppet we have not seen in a few months. The puppet went on a McMahon-like rant and threatened to fire Cena.

    Meanwhile, cameras cut to Wyatt in the ring. He and Cena relieved the latter's debut ("Ruthless Aggression!"), which the heel labeled his foe's greatest failure. He added a dig about The Bella Twins before things segued into a 1989-era Saturday Night's main event.

    From there, the trip through Cena's career took things to 2003 SmackDown, as he spoke in rhyme as the Doctor of Thuganomics. He hurled insults at Wyatt, including a Husky Harris reference. "You're a slut for opportunity," he said.

    Wyatt called him a bully and we moved on to WrestleMania 30, where the antagonist rightfully claimed fans wanted him but "Man of the People" Cena denied them.

    From there, we moved onto the WCW Nitro, with Wyatt dressed in garb similar to Eric Bischoff. He introduced John Cena, a reference to the heel turn that never was.

    "This is such good s--t," the McMahon puppet said on commentary.

    The Fiend appeared, dropped Cena with Sister Abigail and applied the mandible claw as Cena's own words from SmackDown about the "most overvalued, overhyped and overprivileged Superstar in WWE" played over it.

    The Fiend stood tall to close out the segment while a quick cut to the arena showed replacement host Titus O'Neil left in disbelief.

          

    Result

    The Fiend def. Cena...I guess. Or did Cena beat Cena?

        

    Grade

    A+++++

        

    Analysis

    Give it 11,000 stars. And an Emmy. And an Oscar.

    This was genius storytelling.

    Wyatt, the master manipulator and mind-games specialist took Cena on a journey that contradicted everything he said. He showed WWE's most celebrated hero his own hypocrisy by having him relive some of his most memorable moments and gimmicks. It was brilliant. All of it.

    From Wyatt referring to Cena as a bully, then showing him the Doctor of Thuganomics, to using his own words against him just moments before putting him to sleep, this hit a dozen different ways. Some of this may be studied and looked into over countless viewings in the immediate and long-term future.

    And that is not hyperbole.

    This was high-concept art and masterful sports entertainment. Should it be replicated? Hell, no. It was brilliant as is and too many attempts to do similar will only result in failure while simultaneously diminishing it.

    With this and the Boneyard match Saturday night, the WWE production team proved itself the true MVPs of WrestleMania weekend. Their tireless efforts to make the most of a difficult situation by providing revolutionary "matches" helped make this year's Showcase of the Immortals an unforgettable viewing experience.

WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Brock Lesnar

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    Credit: WWE.com

    Despite early clubbing forearms by WWE champion Brock Lesnar at the opening bell, challenger Drew McIntyre exploded with a Claymore Kick but could not keep The Beast Incarnate down for three.

    The champion recovered and launched his opponent with a German suplex, then followed with consecutive F-5s, but he was unable to net the victory. A third finisher resulted in another defiant kickout by The Scottish Psychopath.

    McIntyre recovered, obliterated Lesnar with three more Claymore Kicks and captured the WWE Championship.

    He celebrated passionately as the show went off the air.

            

    Result

    McIntyre defeated Lesnar to win the title

           

    Grade

    A

            

    Analysis

    If you get Lesnar frustrated, he loses focus and leaves an opening for his opponents to take advantage. We saw it with Seth Rollins, we've seen it with Roman Reigns and we saw it with Drew McIntyre Sunday night.

    The Scot left him in disbelief, kicking out of the F-5 at one. From that point on and with every kick out, he further drove The Beast into anger and frustration. Then, he capitalized.

    It was beautiful storytelling, and even with only a few minutes of actual ring time, the competitors told the story they intended to, ending with the only acceptable result.

    Now, McIntyre enters Raw as the undisputed face of the brand, hopefully ushering in a new era in the process.