McIntyre used four of his Claymore kick finishers to take out Lesnar in the main event of WrestleMania 36 on Sunday night at the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. McIntyre won the WWE Heavyweight title with the victory. The finish came just four minutes into a bout that was taped at the facility in front of no fans due to the coronavirus pandemic.
WrestleMania 36 was initially planned for Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida, but moved to a closed set because of the outbreak. McIntyre's win didn't come in front of more than 60,000 people, but it was still quite a moment for someone who battled back to WWE the way he did. Pro wrestling is obviously scripted, but McIntyre's emotion afterward -- he was nearly in tears -- was likely not. This was a culmination of many years of hard work on his craft in what can be an unforgiving industry. WWE doesn't give just anyone a title win in the main event of its historically big annual show. It's a sign that execs have faith in McIntyre, 34, as a future face of the company.
The match itself became a finisher-fest very early. McIntyre hit a Claymore on Lesnar immediately and then set up for a second. Lesnar evaded the kick, and a Suplex City commenced. Lesnar hit McIntyre with three straight German suplexes and seemed to be set up for an easy road to victory.
Lesnar picked up the Scotsman on his shoulders and hit his F-5 finisher. McIntyre kicked out at one. Lesnar hit another F-5. McIntyre kicked at two. Then another F-5. McIntyre kicked out again.
Lesnar started laughing and almost toying with McIntyre. He said, "All night long, dude" before picking McIntyre up again on his shoulders to attempt another F-5. McIntyre slid off, shoved Lesnar into the ropes and landed a Claymore as Lesnar ricocheted back.
McIntyre then set up in the corner and landed another Claymore. And then another -- four in total -- as Lesnar got onto one knee. McIntyre covered "The Beast" and got the three count for the victory.
This was a short match with almost all big moves, almost like a UFC heavyweight title that ends in the first round. That was probably always how this one would go, whether it was in front of a crowd or not. It wasn't necessarily good or bad. But it surely didn't overstay its welcome, and it got the right result.
This was McIntyre's second WWE singles title. He won the Intercontinental belt in December 2009 and held it until May 2010. McIntyre was once in a comedy group called 3 Man Band, a midcarder at best. He was cut by WWE in 2014 and took a long road back via independent promotions and TNA Impact.
McIntyre got bigger, stronger and improved in every aspect as a performer during his time away. In 2017, McIntyre was re-signed by WWE and was quickly pushed into a role as champion of NXT, the promotion's pseudo-developmental brand. He has been on an upward trajectory ever since.
Lesnar is, of course, one of the most decorated champions in WWE history, not to mention a former UFC heavyweight champion. Lesnar had been WWE champion since Oct. 4, 2019, the SmackDown premiere on Fox, when he defeated Kofi Kingston in a matter of seconds.
This was Lesnar's fifth reign as WWE champ and he has held the title for a combined 763 days. That mark is sixth overall in history, per ESPN Stats & Information research. He won his first WWE title in 2002. Lesnar is also a three-time WWE Universal champion.
What's next: McIntyre will start his title reign on Raw. Before the coronavirus pandemic and the absence of crowds, he was really starting to get over with the crowds. He definitely deserves this push, as someone who was released by WWE years ago, worked his butt off and then came back after a stint in Impact and on the indies better than ever. Once nicknamed the "Chosen One" during his first WWE run, McIntyre has come full circle as the champ. There are several interesting challenges for him on Raw moving forward.
As for Lesnar, it will probably be a bit before he comes back. Maybe SummerSlam or the next Saudi Arabia show? If and when he does return, Lesnar will certainly play into a top-of-the-card storyline.
Gronk wins 24/7 championship
Rob Gronkowski, the host of WrestleMania, decided that being a host simply wasn't enough.
Gronk jumped off a balcony in between matches at WrestleMania 36 and landed on a group of superstars, including the 24/7 champion --- and Gronk's friend -- Mojo Rawley. Gronk got up off the pack, pinned Rawley and became the latest WWE titleholder.
The 24/7 championship is defended at all times in all places. Gronk relinquished his hosting duties and left the event immediately after winning the title.
"The Fiend" Bray Wyatt def. John Cena
McIntyre becomes WWE champion, The Fiend gets rid of John Cena
Drew McIntyre makes quick work of Brock Lesnar to become the new WWE champion, The Fiend defeats John Cena and Edge pins Randy Orton all in Night 2 of WrestleMania 36.
While Saturday night's Boneyard match felt like a heavily produced short film of a fight in a graveyard, Sunday night's counterpoint -- the "Firefly Funhouse" match between John Cena and Bray Wyatt -- felt like a fever dream of a match that never really felt like an actual match at all until its final moments.
When Cena entered the Performance Center arena and started walking down the ramp, there was a measure of confusion as to how this bout might play out. That quickly changed, as the moment Cena said, "Welcome to WrestleMania," a highlight reel of Vince McMahon and Gene Okerlund saying the same thing played out in a skipping loop.
Wyatt popped onto the screen inside the Funhouse, promising Cena, "You're about to face your most difficult opponent -- yourself."
Once Wyatt walked out the front door, Cena teleported into frame in the Funhouse, surrounded by puppets. Cena soon followed out of the door, into an unlit space. Wyatt's Vince McMahon puppet popped up, asked Cena if he had enough "Ruthless Aggression," and then said, "Show me, or you're fired."
From there, it was off to the races.
Non-Fiend Wyatt stood in the ring, intercut with footage of a promo of Kurt Angle on the night Cena debuted on SmackDown. Cena walked past the infamous SmackDown metal fist wearing the same gear he did that night, but try as he might, he ended up getting embarrassed by Wyatt, as he couldn't break the spell or stop saying "Ruthless Aggression," living out his biggest failure, as Wyatt said.
That scene fed into a Saturday Night's Main Event scene with the puppets of Mercy the Buzzard and Vince McMahon on commentary. Cena, playing the role of "Macho Man" Randy Savage (or "Johnny Largemeat," as Wyatt suggested) and Wyatt taking on the Hogan role. Cena didn't notice it was Wyatt, as he kept endlessly pumping a pair of barbells he had in each hand.
By the time he realized it was Wyatt, Cena's arms were too tired. The scene faded out, and Cena was transformed again -- into his rapper persona -- and walked past the SmackDown fist again.
Cena was fully under Wyatt's spell and could talk only in rhymes. He made a Husky Harris joke about Wyatt's original WWE persona. He mixed in a fair dose of dirty language, but Wyatt took the moment to properly chastise Cena for his approach to his WWE career.
"How dare you talk to me about chances, John Cena."
Wyatt talked about having to earn everything while Cena was the golden goose from the start with unlimited chances. From that perspective Cena was a bully and not a hero, someone who takes weaknesses of others and turns them into jokes. And he finished it with a hammer that Cena would do anything for fame.
Wyatt channeled The Undertaker's teleporting powers, punched Cena with his chain, and then Wyatt had a callback to his swamp persona. That brought everything full circle back to Wyatt and Cena's first WrestleMania clash, at WrestleMania 30.
After recreating several key spots from that match, Wyatt handed Cena a chair, as he did at WrestleMania 30. This time a frustrated Cena swung, but Wyatt once again disappeared.
A puzzling interlude with Wyatt portraying Eric Bischoff and Cena in the Hollywood Hogan role followed, and that's when Cena snapped. He pummeled what he thought was Wyatt, only for him to look down to see Huskus, the pig puppet, in Wyatt's place.
The Fiend popped up behind Cena, locked in the Mandible Claw and followed it with a Sister Abigail's kiss.
Cena's words from a pre-WrestleMania promo played over Wyatt's attack, framing Cena as "the most overhyped, overrated superstar the WWE has ever seen" played over a fading Cena, and as "The Fiend" went for the cover, non-Fiend Wyatt counted the pinfall.
What's next: After a big moment for Wyatt and redemption following his previous match against Cena, Wyatt could well return his focus to the Universal championship and Braun Strowman after the events of night one of WrestleMania 36. Then again, the way Wyatt's match with Goldberg played out, perhaps keep him away from top titles for a while. As for Cena, it could be a long, long time before we see him again on WWE TV.
Five-way match for the SmackDown women's championship: Bayley (c) def. Lacey Evans vs. Naomi vs. Sasha Banks vs. Tamina
This match told a really good story the whole way through. There were a few rough moments, but it was entertaining. There was even a very brief Team BAD reunion with Banks, Naomi and Tamina.
The finish came when the defending champion Bayley defeated the only other person left in the elimination match, Evans, after Banks interfered on Bayley's behalf.
The main thread here involved Bayley and Banks, the two best friends and tag partners who have some tension between them and a long history. They worked together for most of the match until things turned a bit.
Banks was holding Evans in the corner for a Bayley attack. Evans ducked out of the way, and Bayley landed a knee on Banks, knocking her out of the ring. Moments later, Bayley and Banks had a confrontation in the ring. Evans attacked, and Bayley shoved Banks out of the way. But after a getting tangled with Bayley, Evans was pushed back toward Banks and she landed her Women's Right finisher and pinned Banks to eliminate her.
That left Bayley and Evans as the only two left. Evans was in control and hit her double jump moonsault to Bayley for a two count. Banks came back into the ring, hit a Backstabber on Evans. Bayley followed up with a face-buster-like move for the pin and finish.
Afterward, Banks put the belt on Bayley and raised her hand. There didn't seem to be any tension, but this will surely continue.
What's next: The Bayley-Banks saga continues. And that's a good thing. SmackDown has another compelling story to go along with the ongoing romance between Otis and Mandy Rose. Inevitably, this will all lead to a match between the two of them -- perhaps at SummerSlam? That would fit so well given the original classic between Bayley and Banks happened at NXT Takeover Brooklyn on SummerSlam weekend in 2015.
Raw tag team championships: The Street Profits (c) def. Angel Garza & Austin Theory
It was a match altered several times in the weeks leading up to WrestleMania 36, and it felt more like a Monday Night Raw match in both atmosphere and in how it played out. The Raw tag team championship match between the Street Profits and Angel Garza & Austin Theory was more about what happened after the match than during it.
The Street Profits ultimately persevered and left WrestleMania with their Raw tag team titles intact, but the biggest story of the match came in the form of Bianca Belair inserting herself into the equation when a postmatch sneak attack from the unsuccessful challengers pushed everything out of balance.
For a short match, Theory and Garza each got a chance to flash their deep well of potential and charisma as both a team and as individuals at various points in the contest.
Montez Ford helped kick the match into second gear with an effortless-looking standing moonsault, and then landed a big tope over the top rope. Ford got major distance, and while he nailed Theory, he also took out his partner, Angelo Dawkins. That allowed Garza to get up to the top rope and hit a top moonsault to the outside on both Street Profits.
Theory hit a big TKO on Dawkins, but in a breath of fresh air, Ford didn't wait until deep into the referee's count to interject himself, hitting a frog splash on Theory's back to break it up. Dawkins had enough ring awareness to drape an arm over Theory to get the pinfall in an underwhelming finish.
Theory and Garza attacked both men postmatch and set Zelina Vega up for a stiff superkick to Ford. But Bianca Belair came out for the surprising save, in what might be her moment of elevation to the main roster.
What's next: Belair teaming up with the Street Profits could be good news for all involved. And it seems like the conflict with Vega and her growing stable of wrestlers likely isn't over.
Last man standing: Edge def. Randy Orton
Orton, dressed as a cameraman, ambushed Edge with an RKO before the match started. When the bell rang, Orton landed another RKO and it seemed like, with two finishers already used, this wouldn't be too long of a match. That was very much not the case.
Orton and Edge brawled over almost every inch of the WWE Performance Center for more than a half-hour. Some parts were highly compelling; others dragged. The finish came when Edge hit a con-chair to a prone Orton -- the same move Orton used against Edge the night after the Royal Rumble.
After the two initial RKOs, the rest of the match played out in every corner of the PC. The exercise area was first, with Orton using equipment to tie up Edge's head. Edge got a hope spot here when he landed a double kick using the equipment and then a Thesza press, launching himself off what appeared to be a pull-up bar.
Edge exclaimed, "Nine years, Randy!" That's how long it has been since his last singles match, following a long layoff due to a major neck injury. It was a pretty impressive performance from him given the likely rust, especially from an endurance standpoint.
The brawling backstage was a lot of punching, kicking and throwing each other into walls and doors and the like. There were some cool spots. In a conference room, Edge laid Orton out on a huge table, jumped up to some fencing on the ceiling and dropped down onto Orton with an elbow drop.
Minutes later, he jumped off an equipment cage and put Orton through a table with another elbow drop.
The match culminated in a loading dock. Orton hit a draping DDT on Edge onto a covered cargo bed of a pickup truck. Orton told the referee, "You don't need to count, I'll tell you when to count." That was foreshadowing for later.
Both men ended up on top of a Mack truck trailer. Edge countered an Orton punt with a Spear. Then, Orton countered another Spear with an RKO. Orton brought chairs onto the top of the truck and put Edge's head on one of them, telling him he can "go back to your girls," meaning his daughters and wife.
Edge then suddenly popped up and choked Orton out with a standing arm triangle. Orton fell headfirst onto the chair. The referee started to count, and Edge told him to stop. Edge, brought to tears by the moment, grabbed a chair and slammed it against Orton's head. Then, the referee counted to 10 for the finish.
What's next: Edge worked his butt off in this match. Both men did. But given how long it has been since Edge worked a match, this was an outstanding performance. And it got across the story they were trying to tell. Now, Edge will likely move on to another program, perhaps with someone like Seth Rollins, whom he also has history with. There are still many more threads for Edge to follow during this comeback. As for Orton, he'll always be at or near the top of the card. This was a solid performance from him, as well, even if Edge was the one who took the bigger bumps.
Otis def. Dolph Ziggler
While most would agree Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler isn't a marquee match on a show as big as WrestleMania, it's hard to argue against the quality of its build as compared to some of the higher-profile matches on the card. The love-triangle story, featuring Mandy Rose, reached a boiling point this past week on SmackDown. It was revealed that Rose's best friend, Sonya Deville, worked with Ziggler to sabotage a Valentine's Day date Otis had with Rose a couple of months back. Would Otis get revenge on the grand stage of WrestleMania?
Ziggler was accompanied to the ring by Deville while an aggressive Otis stormed the ring by himself. That aggression cost him early on.
As he attempted a running splash onto Ziggler in the corner, Ziggler shifted out of the way and caught him with a super kick. Ziggler continued to utilize his feet as he connected with a picture-perfect dropkick a few sequences later.
Otis valiantly fought back. He began to pump himself up and shrugged off a couple of Ziggler strikes before tossing Ziggler from pillar to post -- quite literally. He continued that trend on the outside of the ring, as well. Once the two were back inside, as Otis was looking to execute his caterpillar elbow drop, Deville distracted the referee, which allowed Ziggler to hit Otis with a low blow.
Cue Mandy Rose who emerged, immediately went after Deville and slapped her before delivering a low blow of her own to Ziggler while the referee's back was turned. Otis followed that up with the caterpillar elbow drop and picked up the first WrestleMania (and WWE pay-per-view) victory of his career.
After the match, Otis and Rose celebrated with a kiss.
What's next? While there could be more to come on the Rose-Deville front, perhaps Rose will begin accompanying Heavy Machinery to their matches. That would add another fun element to an already entertaining tag team.
Trouble in paradise? Lana might have cost her loving husband a WrestleMania victory.
Lashley was in control of this match, going for a big gut-wrench suplex when Lana jumped up on the apron and shouted for Lashley to go for a Spear. Lashley listened.
He put Black down, walked to the corner, stalked Black -- and then got countered by Black's Black Mass finisher. Afterward, Lashley glared at Lana as Black left the ring.
The finish came at a shade over seven minutes, and the match was fine for what it was. Black is extremely talented, and the two worked solidly together. Both have backgrounds in legitimate combat sports -- Black in kickboxing, and Lashley in amateur wrestling and MMA.
What's next: Hopefully, a push for Black into prominent a spot. Before things got shaken up, Black didn't really have a natural spot at WrestleMania. Although this was forgettable, it worked out in Black's favor. On the other side, it looks like WWE might be teasing some dissension between Lashley and Lana. Presumably, that will continue to be built over the ensuing weeks.
NXT women's championship: Charlotte Flair def. Rhea Ripley (c)
More than five years removed from her first NXT women's championship reign, Charlotte Flair opened up the second night of WrestleMania 36 by winning that title back, outlasting Rhea Ripley in an lengthy, intense match that set a high bar for the rest of the night's matches to follow.
This battle between two generations of NXT standouts was physical from the opening bell. Flair held nothing back on her chops, and Ripley's kicks from all angles and directions landed flush, time after time. The action spilled in and out of the ring, but Ripley largely controlled the action early on and even hit a Riptide in the first few moments, although it got her only a two-count.
The story and tone for the rest of the match was set when Ripley attempted a big boot to Flair as she stood on the apron, only to miss. Flair targeted the knee and brought it down over the top rope. She would attack that left knee for the rest of the match, stomping it, chop blocking it, wrapping it around the ringpost and generally doing whatever she could to inflict damage.
Ripley fought back and hit some innovative slams and kicks, including a smooth missile dropkick from the top rope, but every time it looked like she was gaining control, Flair took out the knee again. After fighting her way back to her feet, and stomping the hell out of Flair's torso, Ripley briefly locked in her Prism Trap submission, but it wasn't enough.
Flair finally tried to lock in the figure eight, but Ripley kicked her way out. Flair changed strategy and eventually locked in a Boston crab instead, but Ripley wouldn't give. Ripley missed a superplex, but was able to get her foot up to kick Flair as she attempted a moonsault.
After a scramble of pinning attempts, Flair finally locked in the Figure Four and pushed herself up. Ripley hit Flair's legs and did everything short of reaching for the ropes to get out. But Flair ultimately bridged up into the Figure Eight and earned the submission victory.
Flair became only the second woman to win the NXT women's championship a second time (only Shayna Baszler had previously done it) and her 12th career title in WWE.
What's next: There are a few ways this move makes sense. Ripley, who has been on an unstoppable run, could run the gauntlet on her way to redemption, or perhaps even move to Raw or SmackDown. Having Flair back in NXT offers an opportunity to pair her up with a growingly impressive crop of women on their roster.
Kickoff show: Liv Morgan def. Natalya
Night 2 of WrestleMania began with a kickoff show match that had no build and really, no heat. Natalya took advantage of an offered handshake by Morgan to start things off and utilized her strong mat-game advantage in the opening sequences. Natalya continued to bring the aggression with a discus clothesline that sent Morgan onto the ring apron. She then locked in a surfboard stretch for a good minute, but Morgan refused to tap. Ultimately, Natalya released the hold and opened the door for a comeback.
Morgan worked in some offense which included her version of the codebreaker and a nice-looking, step-up enziguri. However, it was a less flashy move that made the most impact, as Morgan reversed a series of roll-ups into a pinning combination and picked up the biggest win of her career.
This was Morgan's first WWE PPV win. She was 0-9 entering tonight's match.
What's next: Perhaps this builds a bit of momentum for Morgan in the coming weeks and we'll get a resolution to the rivalry between all three former Riott Squad members that was seemingly put on hold. As for Natalya, it's anyone's guess, but she has the ability to continue to help build stars as she did tonight.