With WrestleMania 36 out of the way, we are now into the new season of the wrestling world. That can make for some interesting changes, but it also means looking back at what was just finished to see what was working and what wasn’t. That includes WrestleMania itself, and that’s what we are going to be looking at today. Not the entire show (Or is it shows?) but rather one thing from the first night. I think you know what that thing is going to be.
As you might have guessed, WrestleMania is built around wrestling. By definition, wrestling is a physical sport and therefore you can only do so much before father time catches up with you. At some point you just can’t do it anymore, but in wrestling there are little ways around those physical limitations. Those ways were on display over the weekend, but that doesn’t mean they were the best methods available. Or then again they might have been, which is what we’re going to get into here.
The match which is receiving the most attention from the weekend is one of the two cinematic matches that went pretty far against the entire general nature of professional wrestling. This would be the Boneyard Match between the Undertaker and AJ Styles. It wasn’t your traditional match (to put it mildly) but it had something special to offer, mainly because they were done in the right way. That’s what we’re going to be looking at today in a variety of ways.
It’s kind of a stretch to call it that much of a match in the first place. The match did at least have a concrete beginning and ending, as opposed to the somewhat open ended structure of the Firefly Fun House….thing (I’m steering clear of that one as I hesitate to call it a match because the only wrestling was at the end and didn’t really even need to happen, but that’s another story for another time). Neither was your traditional match, but they both served a purpose and could be followed, though the Boneyard Match was a little bit easier than the others.
The Boneyard Match was the culmination of a personal feud. In short, Styles was tired of Undertaker being old and allegedly henpecked. Instead he wanted to face the old school Dead Man one more time and they even put it in the Undertaker’s kind of match (because that’s the kind of thing people have around here). That’s exactly what Styles got, as Undertaker turned the clock back one more time, even bringing out more of the American Bad*** to give Styles the beating he deserved.
It was a little wacky:
What we got was an amazing spectacle with a cross between the Undertaker and Biker Taker, who gave Styles exactly what he wanted: one heck of a beating from one side of a Boneyard to the other. Undertaker has given out a lot of beatings over the course of his career and while this may be one of the last of them, he certainly gave it his all in what might have been a big finale.
That part about the last one is where the cinematic aspects come in. Watching most of Undertaker’s most recent matches will make it pretty clear that he just can’t do these things any longer. At fifty five years old, Undertaker has been beaten up for a long time now and can’t just bounce back like he did before. It is rare to see him wrestle five time a year and that is probably for the best. That’s where WWE came up with a better plan and it’s what we got here.
At the end of the day, the Boneyard Match made it easier to get Undertaker on the show and get him through a match while still protecting him. The match was all over the place and insane, but those are the smoke and mirrors that he is going to need at this point. I know it might not be for everyone, but you have to do what you have to do and it was a MUCH better idea than letting Undertaker go out there an embarrass himself because he just can’t do it anymore.
In other words, it was a special occasion and something that had to be cone in this situation. That is the important thing to remember here: it isn’t something that can be done all the time, or even all that often. You need the right situation, but more than that, the right performers. If you do this with Heath Slater and Erick Rowan, the whole thing is going to be a mess (a fair case more often than not actually). You need the right kind of performers with the right kind of story in the right kind of setting.
If you need proof of either of these things, compare them to the original (or at least most famous) versions of the same thing: Final Deletion. I’ve grown to appreciate those things far more, but part of what made it work so well was a mixture of the talent involved, the story, and the novelty.
Not everyone can do this:
One of the biggest reasons that the Final Deletion worked was the pure insanity around the whole thing. Matt and Jeff Hardy, two incredibly talented performers in their own right, went out there and did everything they could to make you buy into the whole thing. It might not have been for everyone and there are things about it that are more ridiculous than anything else, but at the end of the day, the two of them went all in on the whole thing and you could get swept up in the entire presentation.
That was the case again on Saturday night. While there were all kinds of shenanigans and special effects, it felt like you were watching these people go out there and fighting each other instead of two people playing roles. That comes from a mixture of dedication and pure talent, as you have two people who know what they are doing and how to play the whole thing. This didn’t feel like a wrestling match because it wasn’t a wrestling match. Instead, this felt like a huge fight and the special effects and everything else that went around it made things feel right.
Finally, and perhaps more importantly, this is the kind of thing that does not need to happen every so often. It needs to be a very, very rare situation as the more you do something like this, the less impact it is going to have. The best part of something like this is how special it felt. We hadn’t seen something like this on a WWE presentation before and since their production department is second to none in wrestling, they can do almost whatever they want here and make it look that good. It was a blast to watch once and highly entertaining.
They even had interference:
But what happens when you try it again? Without Undertaker and Styles. Or with a weaker story. Or when you have this one as a comparison. The first one had nothing (at least in WWE) to compare it to and I’m almost scared to imagine what you are going to see in the next batch of them. It worked here, but the situation was as perfect as it could have been. The future will be different though and that’s what worries me.
I liked the Boneyard Match and I liked it quite a bit. The problem is that I’m not sure if it can be done again, as they set the bar high and may not allow them to do it nearly as well in the future. It worked well given the situation, but how often can you make that situation work? Maybe this will be a one off and dropped, so it really was a WrestleMania moment.
Thomas Hall has been a wrestling fan for over thirty years and has seen over 50,000 wrestling matches. He has also been a wrestling reviewer since 2009 with over 5,000 full shows covered. You can find his work at kbwrestlingreviews.com, or check out his- Amazon author page with 30 wrestling books. Get the latest and greatest in professional wrestling news by signing up for our daily email newsletter. Just look below for “GET EXCLUSIVE UPDATES” to sign up. Thank you for reading!