This past weekend, WWE had their annual WrestleMania event. It what looked to a great event in Tampa Bay (where the Buccaneers play to be exact), the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to have their event at the Performance Center in Orlando, Florida with no fans. On top of that, to limit the number of superstars in one arena, the […]
This past weekend, WWE had their annual WrestleMania event. It what looked to a great event in Tampa Bay (where the Buccaneers play to be exact), the COVID-19 pandemic forced the company to have their event at the Performance Center in Orlando, Florida with no fans. On top of that, to limit the number of superstars in one arena, the event was separated into two nights. 18 matches in total took place on the card with a majority of the titles on the line.
Here are my grades and thoughts on each match, starting with Night 1
Cesaro def. Drew Gulak (pre-show)
While it was a short match (just about five minutes), this was a solid way to kick off the pre-show. It was what you expect here with a lot of technical wrestling between these two. It was one of those matches where I wish it was a little longer, given that it looked like these guys have in-ring chemistry together.
It was odd to not see the likes of Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn or Shinsuke Nakamura be at ringside at some point here, given that they are involved in an angle. Still, an enjoyable start to WM 36.
Women’s Tag Team Championship – Alexa Bliss and Nikkie Cross def. The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane) (c)
The likes of Cross and The Kabuki Warriors were playing to a non-crowd which was slightly odd but this was still an enjoyable tag match to start off the main card of Night 1. The heels of Asuka and Sane did a great trying to get an advantage but the right team won here. We hope that this could be the start of taking the women’s tag division seriously.
Elias def. King Corbin
Probably one of the least interesting feuds heading into WrestleMania and one of those matches I had no interest in. Still, Elias hitting Corbin with a guitar right away to make it fun from the start. Corbin has seemingly been buried since winning King of the Ring so it’ll be interesting to see what the plans are for him now.
Raw Women’s Championship – Becky Lynch (c) def. Shayna Baszler
This was a fine match for the Raw Women’s Championship but it did feel a little slow and awkward at times. Still, this was a solid match between two submission specialists but one would expect this match to be a little better. It was shocking to see Lynch retain here given the push Baszler has received since her call-up. Will probably see these two continue their feud for the next couple of months.
Intercontinental Championship – Sami Zayn (c) def. Daniel Bryan
Zayn did excellent heelwork and as expected, Bryan can work with just about anyone. Combine those two and you got one of the better matches on Night 1 of WrestleMania 36. I did like the fact that you heard but superstars talking to each other due to no crowd, which only made the match.
Zayn retaining here makes sense as I think they can continue their feud a little longer. Adding the likes of Drew Gulak, Cesaro, and Shinsuke Nakamura will make the feud more interesting.
SmackDown Tag Team Championship – John Morrison def. Jimmy Uso and Kofi Kingston in a Ladder match
A unique triple threat match as the tag titles on the line despite only having one member of the teams in this Ladder match. All three members really put on a showing here with everyone taking high spots that would have gotten the crowd invested if there was one. The ending where Uso and Kingston holding onto the belts only for Morrison to pull them down added more to the heelwork here.
What a performance in this one.
Kevin Owens def. Seth Rollins in a No Disqualification match
Both Owens and Rollins had really great chemistry here. Despite no crowd, Owens and Rollins talking smack to each other made the match a lot better in a case where we sometimes would not have heard that. The addition of restarting the match so Owens could get a legit victory was a nice touch. On top of that, Owens jumping from the WrestleMania sign was one of the best spots of the night.
Back to back A grades here.
Universal Championship – Braun Strowman def. Goldberg (c)
It was a short match (which we would expect given it is Goldberg) but it was the right call to get the belt off the part-timer. Just under five minutes, we saw spear after spear until Strowman hit Goldberg with a Running Powerslam for the victory.
Strowman SHOULD HAVE won the Universal Championship two years prior (specifically against Brock Lesar at No Mercy 2017) but fans should be more than satisfied with the outcome.
This came at the expense of Roman Reigns pulling himself out of the match due to concerns of COVID-19, so it’ll be interesting to see what the plans are for The Monster Among Men. Hopefully, we can see a longer run with this title than he had with the Intercontinental Championship.
The Undertaker def. AJ Styles in a Boneyard match
Not going to lie, I was hesitant about this match but bravo on WWE’s part. This was simply incredible. The Boneyard match was a unique one and it reminded me of Matt Hardy’s “Final Deletion”. Rather than a traditional match, WWE turned this into a film with a lot of production behind it. With ‘Taker age, it was a good way to use him without showcasing his disadvantages.
Simply put, this was amazing and definitely worth a re-watch. Not a bad way to conclude Night 1 of WM 36.
Night 1 Overall
Night 1 was solid with a string of excellent grade A matches towards the end of the card. Despite no fans, this was a great card to watch from top to bottom, even if some moments would have been better with a crowd cheer here and there. Now, onto Night 2
Liv Morgan def. Natalya (pre-show)
Not a bad way to kick-off Sunday night. A solid win for Morgan against the veteran in Natalya. It was hard to invest in the match at times, due to no real storyline between the two. Still, it was a good win for the young star in her first singles WrestleMania match.
NXT Women’s Championship – Charlotte Flair def. Rhea Ripley (c)
While fans were not happy with the outcome, this was match was very good from beginning to end. Ripley showed here that she is a star in the making with going up against a star like Flair. This opens up the chance for the best female wrestler to go up against the talent pool down on the yellow brand. With AEW’s Dynamite running the same time as NXT, it is a way for them to have a slight advantage in their Wednesday Night War.
It might have been too early to dethrone Ripley, given that she was built so strong since Survivor Series, will more than likely see a rematch between the two down the line. On top of that, Flair going up against the likes of Bianca Belair, Io Shirai, and Dakota Kai (just to name a few) to something that should be interesting to look forward to.
Aleister Black def. Bobby Lashley
This was an okay match to showcase Black on the biggest WWE pay-per-view of the year. This felt like more of a T.V. match, however, but it was still a solid watch. It’ll be interesting to see what the plans are for both Black and Lashley down the line.
Otis def. Dolph Ziggler
A match where you wish the crowd was there so there can be a huge pop from the crowd. Still, this was a great grudge match where the hero in Otis won with the help of his now lady Mandy Rose. In times of hard-hitting matches with plenty of spots, this was one of those soap-opera style matches that had a great storyline ending.
Will probably see Otis and Rose together for the near future but it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the fallout between Rose and former friend in Sonya Deville, who tried to work with Ziggler to stop the Otis/Rose partnership.
Edge def. Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing match
Another match where you wish the crowd was there, especially with Edge having his first singles match in nine years. The Last Man Standing stipulation is something you’d expect, hard-hitting action and fighting throughout the arena. From Orton doing whatever he can to take out Edge to Edge using a squat rank to take out Orton.
It is great to see Edge back in the ring and after seeing this, I want more of Edge and hopefully, we can see him in another feud sooner rather than later.
Raw Tag Team Championship – The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) (c) def. Austin Theory and Angel Garza
This was a solid tag match where everyone had a chance to shine here and side note, Ford’s Frog Splash is simply AMAZING. With the addition of Bianca Belair (the real-life wife of Ford), it seems that this feud will continue for the near future. That being said, it makes you wonder that the plans are for other tag teams like A.O.P. or Viking Raiders.
SmackDown Women’s Championship – Bayley (c) last eliminated Lacey Evans in a Fatal 5-Way Elimination match
This, in my opinion, was Bayley’s best title defense in her second reign as SmackDown Women’s Championship. While some multi-person matches can get messy, this was a lot cleaner than expected.
Sasha Banks helping out Bayley to eliminate Evans and retain the title suggests that the friendship will still continue for a little while longer. As the weeks move on, maybe we will start to see the Bayley/Banks friendship start to deteriorate.
“The Fiend” Bray Wyatt def. John Cena in a Firefly Fun House match
As the great Vince McMahon (in puppet form) said during this match, “THIS IS SUCH GOOD S**T!”
No seriously, this was incredible much like the Boneyard match (and in my opinion actually better). This film “match” showcased Cena throughout the years, from his debut match to his rap career, Wyatt used the mind games to his advantage.
If you have the network or can find it on the web, watch this. A combination of odd to straight-up hilarious, this really showed that with a little backing up from production, Wyatt’s “Fiend” persona is amazing.
Should this be replicated for Wyatt’s future opponents, maybe. That mainly depends on who he would go up against (imagine if they had this against Goldberg for Super ShowDown?)
WWE Championship – Drew McIntyre def. Brock Lesnar (c)
A great story to show how far McIntyre has come since his original WWE debut many years ago. Lesnar put over The Scottish Psychopath here, getting clearly frustrated when McIntyre was kicking out of his F-5 finisher.
That being said, WWE needs McIntyre to have fresh feuds in a new era in WWE. Much like Strowman with the Universal Championship, there is an enormous amount of opponents he can have for the WWE Championship. The last thing fans want to see is Lesnar beating McIntyre with ease and not be seen on WWE with the belt. Bravo ending to cap off Night 2
Night 2 Overall
Much like Night 1, Night 2 was also a great event. In scary and uncertain times, this was a solid two-night showing for fans alike to get their minds away from what is going on in the world. Great stuff and hats off to WWE for putting on this excellent showing despite unpredictable circumstances.