This year’s WrestleMania was one for the record books as the WWE was forced to adapt during the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Instead of taking place in Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, FL, WrestleMania 36 was moved to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando and turned into a two-night special event.
With the general public stuck in quarantine for weeks, multiple sporting events and leagues have been forced to go on hiatus. However, WWE marched on with pre-taped Raw and SmackDown shows in the big lead-up to WrestleMania 36. Airing”The Showcase of the Immortals” on Saturday and Sunday nights proved to be a success for the company, as fans hungry for entertainment tuned into the WWE Network, pay-per-view and the Fox Sports app to watch the return of the Rated-R Superstar Edge, the Firefly Funhouse match between John Cena and “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, Drew McIntyre defeat Brock Lesnar to win the WWE Championship, and the Boneyard Match that featured the return of the “American Badass” Undertaker.
Triple H was recently a guest on Corey Graves’ After the Bell podcast, where he talked about the revamped WrestleMania 36. SE Scoops has the details from the chat, and surprisingly, Triple H is in favor of the WWE’s biggest show of the year being spread out over two nights, saying “it started out as a concert that ended up being a festival.” As the WWE’s EVP of Global Talent Strategy & Development, Triple H’s opinion has major sway backstage, meaning this could become the norm for WrestleManias going forward.
Of course, there are pros and cons to a move of this magnitude, which has a ripple effect not only for the performers, but the fans tuning in from home as well. Let’s analyze the advantages and disadvantages of a multi-night WrestleMania.
One of the big successes of WrestleMania 36 was the cinematic Boneyard Match between the Undertaker and AJ Styles. Being able to pre-tape the match to add in suspenseful music and camera angles allowed AJ Styles and The O.C. (Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson) to get the at-home crowd eating out the palms of their hands. The online reaction to the Saturday night main event carried over through the Sunday presentation and Monday Night Raw.
For the big main event legends attracted back to WrestleMania like Undertaker, being able to craft a special pre-recorded match that can hide their weaknesses is an advantage that shouldn’t be overlooked. This came into play again in Sunday’s Firefly Funhouse Match between “The Fiend” and John Cena. The latter is now a full time Hollywood superstar, with one of his next roles coming in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad. Even though the Firefly Funhouse was less of a match and more of an experience down memory lane, it also benefited from not being overshadowed by other matches on the card Sunday.
As for fans, they no longer have to dedicate the majority of their Sunday to sitting in front of their TVs. Counting the WrestleMania pre-show, the entire program can run close to eight hours long — and that time is even worse for those who attend in person, who might be looking at an all-day event which ends close to midnight. Splitting WrestleMania into two nights allows for matches to be spread out evenly and grants fans the opportunity to be rested.
One of the many highlights of WrestleMania weekend is the Saturday night NXT TakeOver event. The third WWE brand quickly became known for providing “Match of the Year” candidates and nurturing a devoted fanbase. If WrestleMania moves to Saturday and Sunday nights going forward, then there won’t be any time left to give NXT the spotlight it deserves — unless WrestleMania starts adding NXT matches to its already stacked card.
The same can be said for the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony that also normally takes place over the weekend. This year we missed seeing Batista, the Bella Twins and the New World Order be inducted into the Hall of Fame, which means we also missed some potentially epic speeches.
However, these are small disadvantages in the grand scheme of transforming WrestleMania for a new era of sports entertainment fans. WrestleMania 36 proved WWE has struck gold with its two-night festivities, and now there is no point turning back to the past.
Triple H was a fan of how this year's WrestleMania 36 played out and is in favor of seeing future events follow in its footsteps.