With no big stadium, and no crowd to cheer, the entrance gear and ring gear at WrestleMania 36 felt even more important than usual in making the show feel special. With that in mind, I decided to return to a format I haven’t done in a long time, and take a look at some of that gear, judging it by my own personal tastes (which, yes, means you might disagree).
I left out the Goldbergs and Brauns and KOs, and all those people who just wore pretty much what they always wear. I don’t blame them for not dressing up for this particular Mania, but I wanted to keep this to the looks that stood out, for better or worse. So let’s start with the worst, and work our way up to the best:
19. Mojo Rawley and Gronk, Tiger Style
Rob Gronkowski recently finished a run on The Masked Singer as “White Tiger” so he showed up at WrestleMania as the Cyan Tiger, apparently. I realize a little bit of clownishness is part of Gronk’s appeal (or at least I assume it is?) but with those big ugly sunglasses, the whole thing’s just not a good look. Not to be outdone in the tackiness department, Gronk’s best buddy Mojo Rawley turned up in a white sports coat with tiger-print lapels. Anybody looking forward to these New Hype Bros winning the Tag Team Titles when Gronk joins the roster full time?
18. Lacey Evans Wearing a Chip Bowl on her Head
I mean, what can you say? That’s not a hat that people wear. It’s certainly not the kind of cute little sailor hat that would make sense with Lacey’s already questionable outfit. When she first came out I thought she was wearing a sombrero, which raised its own set of problems, but no. It’s just a big bowl, on her head. When Lacey was a heel, it almost kind of (but not really) worked that her entire character was about good taste when the woman clearly has no taste at all. Now that she’s a face, she just looks ridiculous for no reason.
17. Drew McIntyre’s M-Jacket
Drew’s long vest has a big “M” on it now, because his last name’s McIntyre. It actually looks pretty cool, and I like how the bottom is cut. But at the end of the day, he just put a big “M” on his jacket. Actually two, because there’s also one on the back.
16. Shayna Baszler’s Red Gear
Traditionally Shayna has worn red, black, and gold. For this gear, she’s gotten rid of the black, so it’s just red and gold. That makes her actually look less defined than before, and in the simplest terms, maybe less threatening? It’s not a great choice. If she wanted to do something different, she should have added more black, or kept the black and gold and changed the red to a different bold color.
15. Rhea Ripley as Sexy Vegeta
I get it — dressing like your favorite Dragonball Z character is basically a WrestleMania tradition at this point. And it’s fun to see Rhea in colors besides black and “steel.” When she has her entrance vest on, I like this gear a lot more. It’s that top, though. The white just makes the “support” aspect of the garment a little too prominent, and it looks like something a college girl would wear to a club. Rhea’s always badass and sexy, but that top leans too far away from badass and toward sexy. Plus, you know, Vegeta wears a whole blue shirt under his.
14. Edge’s Edgy Coat
It’s not really breaking any powerful new ground, but that is a really great coat. He looks like Edge, but he doesn’t look like a throwback to nine years ago. He just looks powerful and dangerous. Like he should. It’s great having him back, and I look forward to more cool coats in the future.
13. Charlotte Flair’s Royal Aesthetic
I almost disqualified this under the “what they always wear” rule, but there are some great subtle choices going on here. The purple and gold ring gear makes Charlotte look like actual literal wrestling royalty, and the touches of that same purple on this version of her black “witch queen” robe keep the whole thing cohesive while making her look as evil as she ever has. It’s peak Charlotte, in a good way. I can already see her black-swanning around Full Sail with that belt.
12. Seth Rollins’ Christlike Vestments
Somewhere along the way, “Monday Night Messiah” stopped being a joke and became literal. Rollins is Wrestling Jesus now, and this is exactly what Jesus would wear to the ring. If Seth Rollins gets any more Christ-like, Hulk Hogan is going to start claiming he can cure coronavirus.
11. Becky Lynch’s Jacket
Becky’s gear, on the whole, is pretty much what she always wears, but that jacket looks incredible on her. If you asked me in the abstract, I wouldn’t recommend a gold jacket to somebody with bright orange hair, but she’s making it work. The asymmetry makes it an even stronger look. Now don’t ask me about the semi truck. I have no idea why that’s supposed to be cool. Did Vince get it for her because it’s the most manly vehicle he can think of and she’s The Man? But I’m not here today to rank vehicles, and once she got out of it, she looked amazing.
10. Naomi’s Glowing Colors
Not many people could pull off wearing concentric circles on their breasts, but as part of her intentionally busy “Glow” aesthetic, Naomi absolutely does. I’m not sure whether to say this is two pieces with a zipper connecting them, or a one-piece with a cut-out that goes all the way around, but either way it’s a very daring look, which also extends to the color scheme. Naomi knows exactly how good she looks, how talented she is, and what she can pull off.
9. Mandy Rose’s Daring Outfit
You might think Mandy Rose and Otis don’t have much in common, but at the very least they’re united by a sense of comfort with showing off large amounts of torso. Mandy Rose wasn’t on the card, she just ran out to help her true love beat up her fake love, and slap her former best friend in the face along the way. That means this is just the outfit she was hanging out backstage at the Performance Center in. And the thing is? I fully believe that Mandy spends her free time casually hanging around in a sparkly gold leotard with the entire front cut out and a matching bra. That’s in character.
8. American Badass Undertaker
Every once in a while, WWE does give people what they’ve been begging for. In this case, the return of Biker Taker. But what makes it work is that Taker’s not just wearing whatever biker clothes he had in his closet (and you know he has plenty). This is a thought out, perfectly-fitted look that conveys that 20-year-old character without looking twenty years old. He actually does look like a badass, and frankly that’s something Taker hasn’t fully looked like in a long time.
7. Sasha Banks’s Gold-Festooned Jacket
The Boss makes “busy” work like few others can, and this is no exception. Does she have military medals on there? Grandma’s brooch collection? Hand-me-down bling that belonged to Snoop Dogg in the ’90s? I can’t really tell, but somehow it still looks great.
6. Sonya Deville’s Collection of Straps and Belts
Sonya Deville loses a lot of cool points for willingly hanging out with Dolph Ziggler, but she holds onto some for this fantastic outfit. The tight sleeveless black bodysuit with the baggy pants is already a classic “badass lesbian” aesthetic, but the cut-outs on the sides and the plethora of straps and buckles just make it even more of both those things. I worry about what this storyline is doing to Sonya’s character, but at least she looks amazing while it’s happening.
5. Zelina Vega’s Shoulder Skulls
This is the most Zelina Vega has ever looked like Mrs. Aleister Black. Her whole ensemble is great, including the sunburst crown she entered in, but those gold skulls on her shoulders are easily the best part. They’re extremely ostentatious, especially in gold, but that suits her character. And amazingly, they don’t look cheap, even in closeup. I’m certainly not saying they’re real gold (or real skulls), but they’re well put together and don’t show their seams in that way that really costumey stuff sometimes does. Zelina, Queen of the Dead, is something I’m very much here for.
4. Aleister Black’s Stag Beetle Realness
Meanwhile, Aleister comes to the ring with huge horns on his shoulder, like some kind of gender-swapped Queen Beryl. It’s a pretty amazing garment, with the hood and descending into tatters as it reaches his waist. Like Zelina’s (and maybe because the same person made them?) it’s over-the-top and apocalyptic without looking fake or ridiculous. Yes, it looks like something a necromancer would wear. But Aleister seems to be some kind of necromancer, so that’s actually appropriate.
3. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross’s Matching Gear
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross used to be wildly different in both their wrestling and their personal style. And what’s interesting is that they both still dress pretty much like they always have, except now they match each other. Nikki has added some neon colors to accent her black, and Alexa has upped the amount of black to tone down those same neon colors. They’ve gone from an oddly thrown together pair to a cohesive team who are also believably best friends. Their gear reflects that. I also love Nikki Cross entering in a vest, taking it off to reveal another vest, and then hulking up during the match and tearing open that vest to reveal her sports bra. There’s still a little bit of chaos monster in the popular girl’s bestie.
2. Bayley’s Mournful White
I know not everybody likes Heel Bayley, but I’m a fan. I love her sullenness and that palpable empty hole in her soul where her childlike happiness and enthusiasm for wrestling used to be. And nothing suits that more than replacing her loud, colorful gear with white. Ironically, she also wore white with gold and black accents to NXT Brooklyn for her history-making match against Sasha, but that was a whole different aesthetic. That was about ascending to new heights, this is about being empty. And that’s emphasized by the broken stars and X-ed out hugger. I don’t know how she’s made white represent the loss of innocence, but here it absolutely does.
1. Kairi Sane’s Fabulous Pirate Outfit
Alas, poor Kairi. The Pirate Princess was probably never going to get the full pirate entrance she deserved at WrestleMania 36 anyway, on account of being shuffled into a tag team to work in a usually-forgotten division, but once the show had to be moved from a stadium that literally has a huge pirate ship to the empty Performance Center, all hope was lost. Still, that didn’t stop Kairi from showing up in the best-looking pirate outfit she’s ever had. The shades of blue look great on her to begin with, and underneath the hat and cape she turns out to be wearing really cool ring gear, which is also surprisingly sexy, with built-in garters and laced-up cutouts. Her aesthetic is unmatched.