WrestleMania 36 forges ahead as COVID-19 fails to pin WWE

Wrestlemania 36

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Hulk Hogan picking up all 500 pounds of Andre the Giant and body-slamming him for the win at WrestleMania III. The ‘Hulkster’ and The Ultimate Warrior’s epic showdown at WrestleMania VI. Or maybe Bret ‘The Hitman’ Hart’s pivotal, polarising win over ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin at WrestleMania XIII. Maybe it’s a more recent earth-shattering event, like Shawn Michaels’s emotional retirement after losing to The Undertaker at WrestleMania XVI, or the end of The Undertaker’s 21-match unbeaten WrestleMania reign in the 30th edition.

Every fan of the squared circle – old-school or new, casual or hardcore – has a favourite WrestleMania moment.

WrestleMania 36 may not produce any bouts destined to go down in the annals of WWE folklore, but there’s no question this weekend’s showcase will be like no other before it. For the first time, WrestleMania – described as the Super Bowl of sports entertainment and ranked as the sixth-most valuable sports brand by Forbes – will unfold in an empty stadium due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But the high-flying action and histrionics are set to provide nectar for the soul of sports-starved fans tuning in. Sportsbet are featuring three WrestleMania 36 match-ups in their WWE odds: John Cena v Bray Wyatt, Rhea Ripley v Charlotte Flair and Becky Lynch v Shayna Baszler.

‘The Fiend’ or foe? John Cena accepts Wyatt challenge

Despite a burgeoning comedy acting career and an upcoming 43rd birthday, John Cena still isn’t ready to hang up his wrestling trunks. The 16-time world champion – tied for the most ever in WWE history with Ric Flair – is a WrestleMania legend, headlining the event five times.

Cena completes his return from a semi-hiatus by resuming his long and storied feud with Bray Wyatt, the former WWE Championship holder who unveiled a spooky alter-ego, ‘The Fiend’, to wrestling audiences last year.

‘The Fiend’s’ Firefly Fun House segments have become a quite frankly disturbing addition to WWE broadcasts – and dubbing this encounter ‘The Firefly Fun House Match’ ensures the showdown will be as bizarre as it is compelling.

Here’s the history between the pair. After a long and weird feud that included Cena’s win at WrestleMania XXX, Cena defeated Wyatt in a ‘Last Man Standing’ match at Payback, which won Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s award for 2014 Match of the Year. Wyatt claimed the WWE Championship in 2017 by winning an ‘Elimination Chamber’ match against four wrestlers, including Cena.

Following his Universal Championship loss to Goldberg in February, The Fiend challenged a returning Cena to a WrestleMania 36 showdown.

Wyatt heads in as the red-hot favourite. But expect the unexpected – and consider the value in Cena in what would be yet another fairytale moment in a glittering career.

Belt on the line in Lynch–Baszler blood feud

Becky Lynch puts up her Raw Women’s Championship against Shayna Baszler at WrestleMania 36 – but there’s more than a belt on the line here. These two have beef.

The feud began in earnest following Baszler’s win over Lynch and Bayley in a non-title triple-threat match at last year’s Survivor Series. Lynch attacked Baszler post-match, putting her through the announcer’s table.

Lynch had a score to settle after being brutally blindsided after a bout on WWE program Raw, with bloodthirsty brawler Baszler biting Ireland’s finest on the back of the neck.

Baszler received a liberal dose of her own medicine when Lynch attacked her with a steel chair while conducting an interview, before Baszler returned the favour with another sneak attack.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Fans are frothing to see these superstars of women’s wrestling finally go head to head, one on one, in the confines of the ring.

The ultra-athletic Lynch is the longest-reigning Raw Women’s Champion, overtaking Ronda Rousey’s record. She came in at number 1 in Pro Wrestling Illustrated’s end-of-year list of the top 100 women’s wrestlers. But the brooding Baszler rolled in at number 4 and is primed for a career-defining victory.

Baszler is the favourite to lift the title and it seems her time at the top of the pile is now.

Aussie Ripley defends title against wrestling royalty

She may not get much coverage in her homeland, but Rhea Ripley is a fair dinkum Australian, born and raised in Adelaide before making her way to Florida to find wrestling fame.

The tyro cemented her status as one of the WWE’s brightest talents by winning an eight-woman tournament to become the inaugural NXT UK Champion in 2018, and she also won the US version of the title in December by upsetting Shayna Baszler. Ripley backed that up in January with a victory over Toni Storm, who had unseated her for the NXT UK Championship.

The Adelaide Crows fan’s WrestleMania debut – in a fan-less stadium in Orlando – may not quite be what she had envisioned. But taking on the challenge of veteran Charlotte Flair, the daughter of ‘Nature Boy’ Ric Flair, is another step in her meteoric rise.

Flair won the NXT Championship in 2014 during the title’s early days – holding it for almost nine months – and has never been far from the WWE’s forefront since. The scene for a bitter and ferocious clash has been set by a string of ‘extracurricular’ meetings over the past month.

But with all things being equal at WrestleMania 36, expect the younger competitor, seemingly being groomed for superstardom, to salute as the favourite.

Wrestling diehards and sports fans desperate for something other than a classic match re-run are lining up for WrestleMania 36 with feverish anticipation. Don’t miss all of the customary WWE twists and turns at an event certain to live long in the memory.

Sportsbet has WWE odds and betting options available for WrestleMania 36. Bet now.

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