This is a raw, opinionated editorial regarding the upcoming WWE event, WrestleMania 36.
Life is hard right now for almost everyone in the world. COVID-19 has filled their cities and towns, resulting in them being in fear and having to stay home. When it comes to professional wrestling, much of the same remains. As I sit here writing this as a pro wrestling fan who fell in love with the WWE at a young age because of an event like WrestleMania, it’s hard to find excitement right now. The last time I said that with WrestleMania less than a week away had to be before ever becoming a fan. And while sure, there is always interest, it will not be the same. WrestleMania 36 is a two-night special event. But the only question left asking is simple:
Where has the magic gone?
Simple Answer: COVID-19 Virus Shuts Down Everything
It’s not a real difficult answer when it comes to why this WrestleMania, unlike the 35 that have come before it. COVID-19 Virus has shut down everything, making it difficult for anyone to live their normal life any longer. Professional wrestling has shut down almost everywhere, with the only main companies staying around are WWE and AEW. AEW has gone on the road to anywhere they can find to hold their shows, while the WWE recorded plenty of shows to last them through this weekend and into this coming week. But after that, there may be nothing else for the WWE for the foreseeable future. It’s interesting to think about how this WrestleMania does. Numbers-wise, in-ring wise, entertainment-wise. But this is about the magic that usually fills the air as this weekend approaches. The WrestleMania charm is gone for more than the simple answer of COVID-19.
Complicated Answer: WWEs Decision Making
The magic that is WrestleMania is simple. It is by all accounts the biggest spectacle in the sport, with thousands of people coming from all around the world to attend the event. As we sit here right now, you can remember those fond memories as a wrestling fan of Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart going into sudden death after 60-minutes of action, The Rock and Hulk Hogan staring each other down as the electricity of the fans fill the air, or as recent as last year when Kofi Kingston had his moment and won the WWE Championship for the first time. These are memories. Moments that you relive with a smile on your face. Can WrestleMania 36 — a show that is recorded, has no audience, and much of the card has fallen apart — really give you those same moments? And that is why the magic may be gone.
WrestleMania is already recorded and in the bag. Think about that for a second. The live spectacle has had its specialty taken away and now, for the most part, we have no idea what is going to happen. The rumors have come and gone on what has happened and what hasn’t. But the thought that any WrestleMania surprise has already happened and new champions have been crowned before airing makes the magic feel non-existent. If you want to look at it with a good mindset, it’s entertainment inside a wrestling ring that we have never seen. We have to appreciate what these men and women did for us, but in the end, WrestleMania has been recorded and that live spectacle aspect is missing.
Eerie. That’s the word to describe what’s to come this weekend. A WrestleMania without fans is something people would have laughed at two months ago. But now, that idea is here and very much going to happen. The no crowd shows that the WWE has put on have been hit and miss, with a lot of the time being made up by past matches from the Royal Rumble and WrestleMania. WrestleMania 36, on the other hand, will be all action from start to end. Michael Cole and Tom Phillips deserve all the credit for calling these matches without fan reaction. The magic comes from the fans. As John Cena has said, the fans are why they do this. Doing the biggest show of the year with no guarantee to be on the week after, that is scary. The moment fans are allowed back at shows, it will be incredible.
But for now, we miss the magic of the matches speaking to the fans and telling that story. This will define the roster more than any event ever has.
Last Second Card Breakdown
The main event star of four of the past five WrestleMania’s will not be participating because of health reasons. That is, of course, Roman Reigns. If this wasn’t a sign of needing to change the show from this weekend and postpone it, I don’t know what else is. Losing the SmackDown title match and making it Goldberg vs. Braun Strowman is the definition of eliminating the Mania charm. Strowman should not be in that spot! Which is why that is no longer the SmackDown main event. That belongs to “The Fiend” and John Cena. Most would agree that this should have been it anyways, but that’s a conversation for another day. Add in the rumors of the tag team match being changed last second due to The Miz showing up sick and you have a mishmash of matches with no meaning.
It’s heartbreaking for those who had to make such a decision, but even more so for the wrestlers who have to experience the biggest stage in front of no one. Big matches having to change should be the sign more than any that the magic is missing. This isn’t WrestleMania 36! It should be like a mulligan. Take the number away. Change the name. Do something along those lines. Why? Because WrestleMania needs that magic. If you are a wrestling fan, you remember that excitement every year when this weekend was rolls around and the biggest event of the year goes down. Does that feeling remain for this year? No. Because that beautiful magic that flows through the air is gone.
Verdict: This Never Needed To Happen This Way
“The show must go on…” But really? Must it? No. A lot of these problems could have been avoided if the entire show was postponed. The magic could very well still be there if that was recognized. In the end, the problem with this show is that it is still going on as scheduled. And before continuing, let me clarify, I can’t imagine having to make a decision like that in the face of adversity with all your fans around the world depending on you. I can’t. But what I can imagine is Roman Reigns vs. Goldberg going down when the right time came. Again, though. How could the company keep the stories going for the event? That’s another question you have to ask yourself. A lot went into this decision, and placing WrestleMania around with no fans is an answer no one believed to be the right one.
The magic is gone because of a decision that was made at the very top of WWE. That’s something that is a plain fact. Even if you could not hold WrestleMania inside Raymond James Stadium in Tampa Bay, there were arenas full of people that you could have. Madison Square Garden rings a bell. You find an open date and put it there. The fans, the wrestlers, and almost everyone involved wanted this to be in front of a true audience. With that special WrestleMania magic in the air with the pyro and fans chanting “YES” and “What?” at the top of their lungs. Instead, we will watch (or not) WrestleMania without fans in attendance for the first time ever as wrestlers put their health at risk. Not the situation anyone would ever want to accept. But here we are.
In The End: It Will Still Go Down As WrestleMania 36
As a diehard wrestling fan and WWE fan since the age of eight years old, this hurts. I will be watching because it is officially WrestleMania. It may not feel the same. That magic may be missing. But in the world of uncertainty that we live in and a lot of entertainment being canceled, this is a way to lose yourself and enjoy something that you loved as a kid. Do your best to stay positive and try to enjoy it. This is a difficult situation and maybe that magic will come back for you when the matches begin.
Stay tuned to the Last Word on Pro Wrestling for more on this and other stories from around the world of wrestling, as they develop. You can always count on LWOPW to be on top of the major news in the wrestling world, as well as to provide you with analysis, previews, videos, interviews, and editorials on the wrestling world. WWE fan? You can check out WrestleMania 36 this Saturday and Sunday live on the WWE Network.