5 Reasons I’m excited for WM36

This is Phil Gordon….the voice of Magnificent Championship Wrestling and the host of the MCW Magazine show exclusively seen on Youtube…

This blog is a place where fans of all types of wrestling can rejoice and revel in this great sport…within MCW on a temporary hiatus I will be taking the opportunity to look at certain aspects of the wrestling industry as a whole…not just the independent scene…

Of course I unfortunately have to mention that I will not be providing this written forum to you every week. A decision was made (more like manipulated) on behalf of MCW management that “Too Magnificent” Nicky Martin do his own blog posting on alternate weeks. My stomach churns as to what this poor excuse of a human being will offer up when I am absent from this keyboard. In the meantime I want to write about a hot-button topic amongst wrestlers and fans alike and that is this year’s edition of Wrestlemania.

Sure, the critics feel like it shouldn’t take place or that it just won’t be a good show in an empty arena but I would like to share a different approach. While I am growing tired of watching most of the empty-arena weekly television shows being produced in the Performance Center it has dawned on me that I am actually really excited for this year’s edition of Mania and here is the meat of this week’s post:

5 Reasons I am excited to watch Wrestlemania 36….

  1. Seeing who will rise to the occasion:

This year’s Wrestlemania will be unlike any other. Being moved from a 70,000 plus seat football stadium to a small empty arena with some matches being likely filmed on a sound stage or somewhere within Full Sail University. Everyone working this show will likely have the most challenging match of their career. MCW is known for tightly packing smaller venues but the roar of those intimate crowds are amazing. While I am filming at ringside I only get a small taste as to how that roar must energize the wrestlers and dictates what approach they will take next while inside of the ring.

My gut is telling me that the best match on the two-night event is likely to be the clash between Daniel Bryan and Sami Zayn. Not to take anything away from the other performers but these two are so naturally gifted and seasoned that they just might put together a performance to surprise all of us…audience or not.

The challenge doesn’t only fall upon the shoulders of the wrestlers but the bookers, agents, and of course the television crew. Even though this event has been pre-taped and I have avoided spoilers I do know some performers did not make the show due to COVID-19 concerns, most notably Roman Reigns. So more pressure will be added to certain wrestlers’ shoulders as the opponents they have prepared for are no longer around. I am very curious to see who will get the most creative and innovative in order to pop a television audience instead of one physically present. It should be fun.

2) Edge / Orton

Sure, this is not how he envisioned making his return to Mania after being forced into retirement nearly a decade ago but I have a feeling his Last Man Standing match with Randy Orton could make serious waves and steal the show.

One of the things that has me so excited for this is Adam Copeland’s positive attitude towards the entire situation. After reading some interviews with the man we call Edge he provided a tremendous outlook considering the setbacks and obstacles that have gotten in the way of his Wrestlemania comeback.

I’m paraphrasing here but he has gone on to say that with his mind and Orton’s talent that he believes they could have a match that people will continue to talk about for a long time. Don’t take this with a grain of salt as while Edge is known as a master of the ladder and helping invent the TLC match he has excelled in a lot of heated brawls like this one (looking at your street fight against Mick Foley at ‘22). I love how he promised to reinvent using an empty arena like when Funk and Lawler did it for the first time back in Memphis. Even though this match would be a thousand times better with a heated crowd (and Edge and Orton masterfully playing the baby face and heel) I think they are poised to hit a home run amid the crazy circumstances with their talent, brains and ability to follow through on a solid storyline. Btw what a promo he cut on the final RAW before Wrestlemania!

3) Drew finally gets his due

You can’t help but feel for Drew McIntyre. He’s had a bit of a rough ride the last few years and finally reached the pinnacle back at the Royal Rumble when he decimated Lesnar in a surprise elimination and won the whole thing. He was headed for the promised land….a main event title shot at Mania against The Beast. The downfall of ‘The Chosen One’ and 3MB were all in the rearview mirror. This man who had relied on enormous potential and came back from getting fired was about to realize his dream.

Then we all know the story….Wrestlemania almost didn’t happen, that same thunderous roar of the crowd back in Houston wouldn’t be felt this time around, Brock almost couldn’t make it into Florida because of COVID-19 lockdown procedures in Saskatchewan. It just seemed like the man was bound to be jinxed and wasn’t meant to grab the brass ring.

But now that the match is taking place I have a unique perspective on it. I think win, lose or draw Drew is going to be the big winner here. I have no doubt him and Brock can have one hell of a physical see-saw match. Great for Drew if he wins however if he loses I feel he can effectively chase Brock as a babyface and get his win back later in the year (hopefully at Summerslam in front of real people!). It was somewhat effective when they played out that scenario with Roman Reigns in 2018….this match still has my curiosity due to the number of possibilities and the talent involved to pull it off.

4) The return of one on one matches

Let’s face the cold harsh reality of Wrestlemania from the past few years. The grand event has turned into a participation trophy. There, I said it. Getting a spot at Wrestlemania really meant something for a long time. However as the show got longer and longer and the talent roster got bigger and bigger I feel in a lot of ways this hurt the show instead of helped it.

The Andre Memorial Battle Royal was good….for a little while. Then it reached a point where it became diluted and didn’t really mean a lot. Then the women go their own battle royal….it had a name too once, but we don’t want to get into that debacle. Then there are the countless titles, three-way, four-way, six way, bakers dozen way….whatever the hell numbers of talent have been stuffed into rushed matches on this card over the years it’s been done….so you get a spot on the biggest show of the year even if nobody has the time to notice you (Luke Harper was in Mania 35’s Andre Battle Royal? Don’t remember? Stop lying to me…I know you don’t!)

So because the WWE wants to follow the rules of social distancing the battle royals got scrapped and only certain members of the roster were able to compete on each night of taping we get back to a more traditional looking card…Thank God! I would much rather see one-on-one matches to settle grudges or compete for titles with the best of the best….not just wrestlers ‘filling’ spots on the card with no real connection to getting heat in a match. Yes, it may hurt some feelings if this trend continues over the years but I say do it. Sometimes on the biggest shows in wrestling, less is more. Save the battle royals for the arena crowd or the pre-show….it’s about time talent earn their spots on the grandest stage to shine in longer matches without being rushed to squeeze in ‘more’ performers

5) It’s here and it is actually happening….damnit!!!

“I’m Vince McMahon damn it…and I’ve never backed down from a fight!”

I remember this quote from the man himself being used in a promo for the WCW Invasion PPV back in 2001. It was true then and it’s true now. Like it or not Vince McMahon and his grandest creation are not going down without a fight.

I was a tad skeptical about still holding the show and the venue change in the midst of the pandemic. But with the cancellation of live entertainment as we know it I strongly feel somebody had to do something. Yes, people are rightly concerned about those who are working. Yes, they had to restructure the card (‘too big for one night’ is anybody really buying that line?) due to social distancing policy. Yes, they had to pre-tape the show to avoid being caught in violation of Florida lockwon. Yes, there is a widespread theory that the venue change and continuation of the show was made in order to get a massive insurance deposit returned from Raymond James Stadium in Tampa.

All that being said I couldn’t be more ecstatic that the show is continuing. This is what our corner of the world needs at this particular time. A small escape from the reminder of our current conditions. The fact that the company fought like hell just to have this show happen makes me think it’ll be worth it….even without the roar of the WWE Universe in attendance. Critics be damned I do believe that they are not taking things lightly as a company and are doing their best to keep business as usual. In my own life I am doing my best to keep things business as usual and my day job was deemed an essential business by the government so I have been able to do that, get groceries, supplies and alcohol when I need it. So maybe I’m a little biased because I have been able to go to work and take care of business and live my life as normally and safely as possible while keeping some level of normalcy in all this. Unlike Nicky Martin who completely folds under the slightest pressure the entire crew of WWE has remained strong in the face of adversity just like when they were the first live event to broadcast after 9/11. Whatever the true reasoning is for continuing the show in these trying times I think at the end of the day it is a necessity. One guarantee about this show is that for better or worse this may likely go down as the most memorable Wrestlemania of all time and I’m overjoyed to witness every single moment of it go down!

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