Three days. We are three days away from WrestleMania 36 and it really just doesn’t feel like it. Instead of being ready for the biggest show of the year and the show that can change any and everything about wrestling, it feels like we are just coming and going like it is any other show of the year (if even that). No matter what WWE does or how well they hype it up, there is no way around the fact that this year’s show does not feel like it should. At the same time though, there is one thing that nothing can shake: it’s WrestleMania week, and that’s a big deal.
I was going to be in Tampa this week for WrestleMania. I bought tickets for nearly a dozen wrestling shows from WrestleMania all the way down to some independent stuff, plus tickets to Axxess and WrestleCon. The plane and hotel were booked and I was starting to map out my trip to figure out how I was going to see how to get around a city I’ve never been to before. The hype was starting up and then everything got canceled. Instead of going down to Florida, I’ll be sitting at home and watching it on the WWE Network, which is what brought me back to WrestleMania mode.
Earlier this week, I threw on Survivor Series 1987 for some background noise. Early in the show, Bobby Heenan talks about how Andre the Giant was cheated at WrestleMania 3 and it was time for him to get his revenge on Hulk Hogan. This was eight months after WrestleMania 3 took place and it was the first time that Andre the Giant had wrestled since the legendary loss to Hogan.
Then this week on Monday Night Raw, Becky Lynch tied her WrestleMania 36 Raw Women’s Title defense against Shayna Baszler back into her title win at last year’s WrestleMania 35 against Ronda Rousey and Charlotte. That match was nearly a year ago and yet Lynch is still easily able to tie it in together. We are over thirty years removed from WrestleMania 3 and Survivor Series 1987 but the same truth still remains: WrestleMania is the most important night of the year and can change everything all at once.
That’s right. There’s no secret to the fact that this year’s WrestleMania is going to be as low key as any edition the show has ever had. It is going to take place in front of no fans, over two nights and will have a lot of crowd silence to get around. Almost none of that is good but it is what we are stuck with this year. I know that seems like a major negative and yeah it is going to be a problem. There’s one thing to remember though: WrestleMania is happening and it’s going to mean a lot.
Maybe it’s something like this:
Look at the (very long) WrestleMania 36 card. How many title changes are you expecting? Three or four maybe? How many times a year does something like that happen? WrestleMania is the night that can give you something you never see otherwise in WWE and that is a night that shakes things up. WWE loves little more than to wait all year and blow off everything they have on that one (ok two this time) night. Why should we believe that this year’s show is going to be any different?
Big crowd, little crowd or no crowd, this year’s card is STACKED. There are World Title matches, gimmick matches, grudge matches and more. You’re even getting some first time ever matches and even first time ever WrestleMania appearances because there are so many people who have to be replaced, meaning it is a chance to make a debut on the biggest stage of them all.
Consider Austin Theory. He was the Evolve Champion all the way into November 2019. Theory debuted with NXT on Christmas night 2019 and now he could leave WrestleMania as with a WWE title. Has anyone ever done that before? It’s the kind of thing that you hear people talk about doing but Theory has managed to do it. Yes it’s because of an injury and he’s a replacement, but with everyone available from NXT, Theory is the one who got the call. That’s quite the nod to his career and something that almost no one, if anyone for that matter, is ever going to get to say again. It’s a WrestleMania Moment before WrestleMania happens.
Something like this is always worth a look:
In addition to all of that, this is the kind of wrestling show that so many fans have wanted. WWE prides itself on having all the hype and all the pageantry around WrestleMania but this year it’s the stripped down version. This year you are going to have an announcer, a referee, the wrestlers in the ring and a production team. It’s a case where everything else is taken away and we get to see what WWE has.
In other words, this is WWE’s chance to show what they can do. They don’t have a huge set (dang I’m going to miss that) or a bunch of pyro to distract the fans and make them all go ooo. Instead, this year is going to be about putting people in the middle of the ring and telling them to entertain the millions of people watching around the world. It’s the textbook example of the lights are on bright so let’s see what you can do. You always hear about WWE having all this talent that can do things no one else can. Well now we get to find out if they can live up to the hype, and that is the kind of thing that sounds amazing.
How many fans have wanted to see something like this? A lot of the complaints about WWE is that it is too produced or too big for what they are trying to do. That’s a fair criticism in a lot of ways as they do stuff that comes off as ridiculous a lot of the time and there is little that can be done about it. Now though, it’s back to basics with little more than a ring and some wrestlers in it. We haven’t seen that in a very long time and now, it is something we get to see again.
In a way, this show is as old school as you can get. Think back to the first WrestleMania in Madison Square Garden on March 31, 1985. Yes there was a ton of hype and yes the celebrity involvement was a big deal, but it was a lot more simple than that. The first WrestleMania took place with no special effects, no big set, and not even the best lighting in the world. It was the dimly lit Garden with the focus on the wrestling and nothing more. The people involved had to go out there and sell their stories in the ring and on the microphone. That’s what we’re looking at here and it’s a pretty cool thing to see again.
Or maybe history will be made:
There is no secret to the fact that this year’s WrestleMania is not what it has been before, or likely ever will be again. WrestleMania is a special show and the kind of thing that can only come once a year (read as don’t make this two night thing a regular deal). It’s not going to be like it usually is this year, but that doesn’t mean it has to be just another weekend. WrestleMania can still be special and all you have to do is get sucked into the magic.
A lot of wrestling fans, myself included, can get really jaded with wrestling. Today it’s so easy to see a big wrestling show with a click of a button. That’s a great thing a lot of the time, but it can also numb you to how special some of this stuff can be. We’re in a situation right now where there is almost nothing going on in the world of sports. Well that changes a little bit this weekend, as we have the biggest night of the wrestling year. In three days, the eyes of the wrestling world turn to Tampa and the WWE for what they care about more than anything. Let yourself be swept up in WrestleMania season, because it’s here again.
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!