Wrestling Review: WWE Wrestlemania 36 (Night 1) (2020)

For the first time ever, WWE’s flagship show of the year, Wrestlemania 36, is too big for just one night. Emanating from WWE’s Performance Centre in Orlando Florida in front of no live audience, this promises to be the most unique Wrestlemania of all time. In the main event, the animosity between The Undertaker and AJ Styles come to a head as the two men face off in the first ever Boneyard Match, where each man will look to bury their opponent alive.The Universal Championship will be determined as Goldberg faces off against the surprise replacement for Roman Reigns, the monstrous Braun Strowman, in a titanic main event. Raw Women’s Champion, Becky Lynch, will finally get her hands on Shayna Baszler, who literally took a bite out of the champion upon Basler’s debut.

Also on the card, Kevin Owens will finally get his hands on Seth Rollins; The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka and Kairi Sane) will defend the women’s Tag Team Championships against the friendship pairing of Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. And finally, the SmackDown Tag Team Championships will be on the line in, for the first time ever, a triple threat ladder match where current champion John Morrison (on behalf of himself and The Miz), Jimmy Uso (on behalf of his brother Jey, as well) and Kofi KIngston (on behalf of the New Day; Big E and Xavier Woods) in a three man ladder match for both championships belts. All of this and more on night one of the only ever Wrestlemania too big for one night.

+ AJ Styles vs The Undertaker (Boneyard Match): I loved this like you would not believe. How fitting that Broken Matt Hardy leaves WWE and not a month later they put an exact replica of the Broken Universe style in the main event of Wrestlemania. This had Jeremy Borash’s fingerprints all over it, and it was different, it was unique and it was a lot of fun to watch
+ Kevin Owens vs Seth Rollins: this was the first match where the lack of a crowd meant the fighters could cut proper wrestling promos on each other as they fought, and these two worked really hard to make the match whatever it would have been on the original show. You have to admire what they are willing to go through for no live crowd
+ John Morrison(c) vs Jimmy Uso vs Kofi Kingston (Triple Threat Ladder Match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships): this started really strong bit did slow down as it went, which is entirely understandable. John Morrison is very easily one of the most athletic men on the planet, but all three competitor put themselves through hell, with an ending you most likely saw coming but was still a refreshing change from the norm
+ Sami Zayn (c) (Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro) vs Daniel Bryan (w/ Drew Gulak) (Intercontinental Championship): god almighty, Bryan was going a million miles an hour, with shades of the old American Dragon coming out to just destroy Zayn, the latter of whom is such a phenomenal character and wrestler. In a seemingly running trend, this had to end just as it was getting to its peak, and there is no reason this could not have gone another ten minutes
+ Becky Lynch (c) vs Shayna Baszler (Raw Women’s Championship): I’ve had a few issues with the story leading to this match, but thankfully the match itself was pretty good. The lack of crowd noise meant you could hear the ‘thwacks’ from several strikes, but it is clear that lack of crowd noise made a few moments fall flat, too. Overall, I liked this

Goldberg (c) vs Braun Strowman (Universal Championship): this was garbage, but of course it would be. Thankfully it was short
King Corbin vs Elias: holy smokes, this was bad, on a night where everything was already likely to not be very good. The fact this went nearly three times longer than Gulak/Cesaro did on the kickoff show is a testament to how little WWE care about actual wrestling
The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) (c) vs BlissCrosss Applesauce (Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross) (WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships): this had the unenviable task of opening the main show, and it was ‘okay’ at best. It was clearly very edited to make up for some timing issues, but overall it just never seemed to flow
Drew Gulak vs Cesaro: special and unique circumstances aside, can you believe Drew Gulak is facing Cesaro at Wrestlemania? Mike Quackenbush must be thrilled. Not that it mattered, because this was given no time at all anyway. Would it really be so bad to give these two fifteen minutes
– even though the show was pre-taped and edited so obviously, there were still obvious botches, numerous missed moves and replays of moves that obviously did not connect properly. Kevin Dunn, if he is still the man doing the producing, is garbage and the sooner he is not in this role any more, the better

> Seth Rollins has had one of the most roller coaster rides of a year as I can imagine; defeating Lesnar last year and being the most beloved good guy, which slowly turned to storyline resentment, before real-world twitter feuds made him unbearable. He turned to be a bad guy, but unfortunately, so it seemed, as antoher faux-Shield leader, but once that finally came into its own, and his Joseph Seed style messiah complex has really made him into a great character

Should you watch this event: This was always going to be a struggle, as the live crowd is one of the best parts of a Wrestlemania show and this was, of course, not going to be that. That said, good matches will always be good, with or without a response, and the way WWE is finally embracing some pre-tapes, such as tonight’s Boneyard match is a welcome change. The ladder match, Owens/Rollins and the Boneyard main event were all good or great, and worth your time.


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