Welcome to the TJR review of WWE WrestleMania 36, which is the most different and unique WrestleMania there’s ever been. I've reviewed every WrestleMania, many of them live and this is going to feel so weird to watch, but here we are. That’s because the world is sadly in a tough spot due to the ongoing health crisis. Before I begin, I have some thoughts on things going on in the world.
I don't love that WrestleMania has no fans, but it is what the world is dealing with right now. You can turn on the news or read about a story of people dying all the time. It's f**king depressing and I hate it. At least I can watch pro wrestling - a business I have loved for 30+ years that has become my career - and take my mind off the awful things that are on the news on a daily basis for who knows how long.
Should they even be doing the show? I don't have the right answer to that. If they didn't do it, I would understand. I can also understand wanting to do it. People are going to argue about that for years to come. The fact is that it's happening and it's going to be different, but at least it's something.
I think we should look at WrestleMania with less of a critical eye. I know the wrestlers will bust their asses, but so much of pro wrestling is playing off the crowd reactions and it's not as easy to perform when you're unable to do that. It's not about a four-star match or five-star match as much as it is giving the fans some happy moments to make them forget about the fact that the majority of us are forced to stay home. Think of WrestleMania or any pro wrestling going on right now as an escape. It's entertainment and a way to take your mind off of rising death totals you may see any time you turn on the news. Kudos to the superstars trying to entertain us.
Anyway, I'm sure there will be bitching and complaining too. There always is. I'm just saying maybe for two days, lighten up a bit. That's all. That goes for me too because even though my job is to write about these matches and review them, it’s hard to compare them to wrestling that we’re used to.
Please be smart, stay home as much as you can and we’ll get through this together. Be well, my friends. Thank you also for reading and supporting what I do here. I'm writing as much as ever because it's what I love to do and I'm grateful for your support. That’s all from me. Let’s get started.
Kickoff Show Match: Cesaro vs. Drew Gulak
Gulak with a boot to the face to block a corner charge, but then Cesaro came back with a backbreaker. Gulak went for an armbar only for Cesaro to counter it with a one-arm Powerbomb. Gulak was able to counter Cesaro into a Crossface submission for a two count. Gulak sent Cesaro over the top to the floor followed by Gulak hitting a clothesline off the apron onto Cesaro on the floor. Cesaro with a punch, then back in the ring where Gulak stretched the arm against the top rope. Gulak sent Cesaro over the top to the floor with a clothesline. Gulak with an arm drag on the floor and Gulak sent Cesaro right shoulder first into the steel steps two times. Cesaro was favoring the right arm. Gulak went up top, he jumped and Cesaro hit him with an uppercut for a two count. Gulak slapped on an armbar on the injured right arm of Cesaro. Gulak got a pin attempt for two. Cesaro countered a dragon sleeper attempt into a slam followed by a boot to the face for Cesaro. Cesaro with a lefty uppercut. Cesaro spun Gulak on his shoulders while putting his hands on his hips and slammed Gulak down for the pinfall win at 4:25.
Winner by pinfall: Cesaro
Analysis: **1/2 It was a hard-hitting match where they made the most of the time they were given. I would have liked to see them get more time than that, but I liked the story they told with what they were given. Gulak was relentless in working on the shoulder. Cesaro used his power to make the comeback and there was a unique finish too. Fun match.
Now let's go on to the main show.
WWE WrestleMania 36 (Night One)
From WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida (mostly)
April 4, 2020
The show began with Stephanie McMahon standing in a studio saying this will be the most different WrestleMania of them all. She said there won’t be 80,000 people screaming due to the current circumstances. She thanked us and welcomed us to WrestleMania.
There was a video package showing past performances of America the Beautiful at WrestleMania events over the last 35 years. That was cool.
The opening video package featured some of the footage of the WWE superstars in the pirate theme gear that was going to be part of the WrestleMania 36 pirate ship stadium in Tampa. They also showed highlights of the key superstars in the big matches. It was well done as usual.
The set at the WWE Performance Center looked familiar with the WrestleMania logo in the building.
Rob Gronkowski appeared as the WrestleMania host with the most with Gronk saying this year’s party is too big for just one night. Gronk had on a GronkMania jacket while saying he knows how to host a party. Gronk said we should forget what’s going on in the world right now and let WWE entertain you. Gronk called his good friend Mojo Rawley to join him on the podium in the PC. Gronk hit Rawley with four chops to the chest and they told us it starts right now.
Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross entered as the challengers. Asuka and Kairi Sane entered as the Women’s Tag Team Champions.
Michael Cole is calling the Smackdown matches and he’s got John Bradshaw Layfield as his broadcast partner instead of Corey Graves, who has not made the trip to the WWE PC since they started taping there.
Analysis: JBL has a lot of experience announcing and working with Cole, so they should be fine working together.
Women’s Tag Team Championships: Asuka and Kairi Sane vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
Sane knocked Bliss down, then Bliss with a slap and Bliss sent Sane down. Cross with a dropkick. Asuka tagged in with a kick to the back. Cross sent Asuka to the floor, Bliss made the tag and Cross kicked Sane out of the ring to the floor. Bliss hit a flip off the apron onto Asuka on the floor. Cross hit a cross body block off the apron onto Sane on the floor. Bliss got a two count on Asuka. Cross went up top with a double axe to the arm of Asuka, but then Asuka broke free and tagged in Sane. Cross sent Sane out of the ring. Sane worked over Cross with punches outside the ring and Asuka sent Bliss into the ring post. Sane with a headscissors on Cross and Asuka hit Cross with a kick to the head. The heels took control as Asuka worked over Cross with kicks. Asuka with a bulldog on Cross followed by Sane hitting a dropkick for a two count. Bliss got the tag, clothesline on Sane and a dropkick. Bliss missed a corner charge when Sane moved, Sane tripped up Bliss against the turnbuckle and Sane hit a double foot stomp on Bliss off the top for a two count. Sane with a sliding forearm on Bliss and Asuka tagged back in for her team. Asuka slapped on an armbar on Bliss followed by choking Bliss on the ropes and Sane got a cheap shot as well. Asuka with a running hip attack on Bliss. Bliss avoided a bulldog, but Asuka came back with a knee to the face. Bliss avoided a back elbow, punch by Bliss and Asuka with a kick. Cross got the hot tag against Sane with Cross hitting two forearms, a corner splash and a running bulldog. Bliss went up top and hit a cross body block for a two count with Sane barely getting her shoulder up. Sane did an eye gouge while Asuka distracted the referee. Cross sent Sane to the apron, Asuka was legal because she made the tag and Asuka with punches, but Cross hit a neckbreaker. Sane hit the Insane Elbow on Cross to break up the pin attempt. That was a good spot. Asuka avoided a pin attempt by Cross, Asuka went for the Asuka Lock and Bliss hit the Twisted Bliss splash to break it up. Sane with a Spear on Bliss to take her down as all four women were down on the mat. Sane tagged in, Asuka with a double knee attack to the face and Sane went up top, but Cross punched her to stop Sane. Asuka tagged back in as she held Cross on her shoulders and Sane jumped off the top with a double team clothesline into a Powerbomb for two. That was a great spot. Sane punched Bliss off the apron, Cross avoided an Asuka charge and Sane hit the neckbreaker on Sane. Bliss got the tag and Bliss went up top with the Twisted Bliss splash for the pinfall victory at 15:05. New champions.
Winners by pinfall AND NEW Women’s Tag Team Champions: Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
Analysis: ***1/4 It was a pretty good match that got a lot of time with the heels controlling most of it. Cross had a strong performance in terms of selling the beating, then making the hot tag and working hard to put on a good match. I like how they set up the finish. Asuka and Sane worked very well together as usual. The title change made sense since Asuka/Sane barely defended the titles and hopefully Bliss/Cross have a good second run with the titles.
Bliss and Cross celebrated with the titles. It’s their second time winning those titles together. The announcers put over Cross’s performance a lot.
The Artist Collective trio of Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro were interviewed by Kayla Braxton. Zayn talked about how they have always got a plan. Zayn said tonight he’ll do something that very men have ever done because he’s walking in as Intercontinental Champion and walking out as IC Champion.
There were commercials for WWE Shop and The Main Event movie on Netflix.
King Corbin made his entrance. They showed highlights of the silly bump that Elias took on Smackdown eight days earlier.
Corbin did a promo saying it felt good sending Elias off that balcony. Corbin said that it will feel good to get his second win at WrestleMania in a row, so he wanted the referee to count to ten because Elias is going to forfeit. Elias made his entrance, Corbin went after him, Elias avoided an attack and Elias hit Corbin in the back with his guitar. Elias sent Corbin into the ring post. Elias sent Corbin into the ring and the referee Jessika Carr asked if Corbin could start the match. Corbin said he could, so the bell rang.
King Corbin vs. Elias
Elias was in control with punches and kicks followed by a neckbreaker. Corbin got some offense as he sent Elias into the ropes leading to Elias bumping to the floor. When Elias got back in the ring, Corbin sent Elias shoulder first into the ring post. Corbin sent Elias into the turnbuckle, Corbin did his slide out of the ring and back in spot with a punch to the face. Corbin worked over the right shoulder of Elias with elbow strikes since Elias had his right shoulder taped up a bit. Elias tried to fight back, but Corbin came back with another hard whip that sent Elias’ left shoulder into the ring post. Corbin yelled at the referee and she told him it was a two count. Corbin with more elbow strikes to the shoulder. Corbin took his turn going into the turnbuckle, so they were both dealing with shoulder injuries. Elias with a mule kick out of the corner followed by punches and kicks against the turnbuckle. Elias hit a spinning neckbreaker for a two count. Elias went up top, he jumped off with nothing, Corbin moved and Corbin hit the Deep Six Slam that usually gets him a two count. Corbin did his slide out of the ring spot, but this time Elias hit him with a jumping knee. Corbin got an uppercut punch followed by a pin with his feet on the ropes, but the referee saw it. Elias rolled up Corbin with the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! with tights for the pinfall win. It went 9:02.
Winner by pinfall: Elias
Analysis: *1/4 This was a boring match. If there was a crowd they would likely be dead quiet for it too. I had low expectations going in and they really didn’t do that much to entertain me. Corbin tried to cheat to win, he failed and Elias successfully cheated to win even though he’s the face in the match. I’m so tired of the ROLLUP OF DEATH~! finish, but WWE loves it and that’s why it won a match at WrestleMania. This feud didn’t interest me much. I picked Corbin to win, but I get the Elias win since he got payback for Corbin's attack on him on Smackdown two weeks ago.
A commercial aired for the WWE Supercard game. There were commercials for Papa John’s pizza and Cricket Wireless featuring The Miz.
A video package aired to set up Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler for the Raw Women’s Title. They had a pretty good story to set this up over the last couple of months.
The Raw announce team is Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton with no Jerry Lawler. They took over for this match.
Becky Lynch drove her truck that had “The Man” on it that we have seen for the last few weeks. It was very dark out when Lynch arrived, which is not normal for 7:50pm, so you can tell it was a pretape moment. Lynch had the Raw Women’s Title on her and her gear was on too. Shayna Baszler made her entrance as the challenger. Becky Lynch was up next as the champion looking confident as usual. Lynch has held the title for one year after winning at WrestleMania 35 last year.
Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler
The action spilled to the floor quickly with Lynch avoided a move and she hit a headscissors. Lynch sent Baszler into the announce table followed by Lynch sending Baszler into the steel steps. They went back in the ring where Lynch went up top and hit a missile dropkick. Lynch stomped away on Baszler, the referee John Cone made her back off and Lynch continued to strike. Lynch tried a kick, Baszler blocked and hit a knee to the face. Lynch tried a pin, Baszler powered out and hit a spinebuster like slam. Baszler with a double underhook suplex for a two count. Baszler went for a knee strike, Lynch moved, Lynch with a kick as they battled on the apron with Lynch hitting a uranage slam on the apron. Lynch got a two count out of that. Baszler got back into it with a sitout slam into an armbar on the left arm of Lynch. Lynch rolled out of it as Baszler slapped on a variation of Lynch’s own submission, Lynch got out and Baszler hit a knee to the face for two. It sounded loud due to the leg slap, which is even louder when there’s no fans in the building. Baszler went for the Kirifuda Clutch while Lynch was against the apron, Lynch managed to get out of it and Lynch went to the floor. Baszler swung Lynch into the side of the announce table two times. Back in the ring, Baszler slapped on the Kirifuda Clutch, but Lynch rolled through and covered while Baszler held onto the hold. Lynch won by pinfall at 8:30.
Winner by pinfall: Becky Lynch
Analysis: *** The match was good and it went shorter than I thought it would go. I think it’s hard to do longer singles matches with no fans, so that's probably why. Baszler was booked strong as the challenger with a lot of offense, but Lynch kept on coming back. The finish is something we have seen many times in wrestling where somebody holds onto a submission too long and the other wrestler counters into a pin to win. I can remember Bret Hart beating Roddy Piper and Steve Austin using a similar type of finish. By losing like that, Baszler doesn't look that weak because it's a counter finisher rather than a submission move for Lynch that would be a more decisive win. I don't think management (mainly Vince McMahon) believes that strongly in Baszler and that's why she didn't win, but they might have more matches later. Anyway, Lynch’s one year reign continues with Becky running through the entire division. I don't know who is next, but maybe Nia Jax can fill that role when she returns. I picked Lynch to win, so the result is fine with me.
Lynch celebrated while Baszler left looking frustrated. There was no post match attack.
There was a Hyundai commercial narrated by Roman Reigns.
There’s a Limited Series Event about The Undertaker coming to WWE Network soon. It’s about Undertaker’s Last Ride, so it’s about him retiring soon while showing him at home with his family and talking about injuries. It looks cool.
The IC Title match is next with Daniel Bryan entering with Drew Gulak. The IC Champion Sami Zayn was joined by Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro. Gronk and Mojo were standing on the balcony in the PC.
Intercontinental Championship: Sami Zayn (w/Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro) vs. Daniel Bryan (w/Drew Gulak)
Zayn ran out of the ring constantly in the first few minutes of the match. Cesaro and Nakamura got in Bryan’s way when Bryan was chasing after Zayn. Zayn stumbled out of the ring, Bryan got his hands on him, Cesaro/Nakamura got in Bryan’s way, so Gulak dove on Cesaro and Nakamura to take them out. Gulak gave Cesaro a back drop over the barricade. Gulak sent Nakamura over the barricade as well. Zayn tried to leave for a countout loss, so Bryan chased after him and punched Zayn. After about four minutes, Bryan threw Zayn into the ring. Bryan tripped up Zayn, then Bryan worked over Zayn with punches and knee strikes to the ribs. Bryan worked over Zayn with kicks to the leg and back followed by more punches. Zayn rolled out of the ring, so Bryan hit a suicide dive. Bryan sent Zayn back into the ring leading to Bryan hitting a missile dropkick. Bryan worked over Zayn with forearm strikes. Bryan slapped Zayn twice followed by a corner dropkick. Cole wondered if Zayn was crying. Zayn finally got some offense with an elbow to the mouth followed by a running clothesline. Zayn worked over Bryan with punches, then some chops and Bryan ran the ropes leading to a clothesline. Bryan worked over Zayn with the Yes Kicks to the chest followed by a roundhouse kick to the head. Bryan held the arms followed by repeated stomps to the head. Cesaro and Nakamura attacked Gulak and sent him into the steel steps. Bryan hit a suicide dive on Cesaro and Nakamura. Bryan went up top, he jumped off and Zayn hit a Helluva Kick on Bryan for the pinfall win at 9:20.
Winner by pinfall: Sami Zayn
Analysis: **1/2 This was about the story more than the work in the ring with Zayn running away as much as he could while Bryan was aggressive the whole way. Zayn didn’t get a lot of offense, but he managed to get the win after Bryan was occupied with taking out Cesaro and Nakamura on the floor. I did like the finish a lot with Zayn hitting the Helluva Kick to counter a diving attack from Bryan. If you were hoping for a classic match between two elite in-ring performers, this wasn't that. Zayn's out there to be the chickenshit heel that runs away a lot, so it's hard to have a great match.
There was a commercial for the WWE 24 documentary about Edge’s return to the ring. It will air on Sunday after WrestleMania on WWE Network. That should be great.
The Smackdown Tag Team Title match is next. They said that Miz (not on the show, but on social media to set up the match) had an injury even though the real reason is because he was sick when they taped this. That means they are now having a triple threat singles match for the Smackdown Tag Team Titles. It’s Kofi Kingston entering first, then Jimmy Uso for his team and John Morrison for the champions. No Big E or Jey Uso to support their partners.
Smackdown Tag Team Titles Ladder Match: John Morrison vs. Jimmy Uso vs. Kofi Kingston
There were ladders all around the ringside area. All three men brought ladders into the ring. They climbed up the ladders, nobody got the titles and Kingston hit a cross body block off a ladder. Morrison worked over Kingston with a kick to the ribs. Morrison with kicks on Jimmy. Kingston and Morrison missed with kick attempts, Jimmy climbed the ladder and Kingston stopped him with punches. Kingston with a headbutt to knock Jimmy off a ladder. Morrison knocked Kingston down a ladder with punches. Jimmy grabbed Morrison down the ladder followed by an uppercut punch by Jimmy. Morrison with kicks on Jimmy, Kingston tried an attack, but the two other guys caught him and dumped Kingston the floor. Morrison with an eye poke on Jimmy followed by Morrison shoving a ladder onto Jimmy to knock him down. Jimmy tried a suplex on Morrison on the turnbuckle, but Morrison tripped up Jimmy on a ladder and Morrison hit a twisting splash onto Jimmy to take him down. That looked great in slow motion. Morrison set up a ladder with a slow climb to allow Kingston to get back into it and Kingston hit a springboard hurricanrana to take down Morrison. That was impressive. Kingston sent Jimmy over the apron followed by a punch. Kingston jumped over the top onto Morrison on the floor while Morrison was holding a ladder. Jimmy ran the barricade, but Kofi was ready for him as he tossed a ladder at Jimmy. Kingston set up a ladder bridge from the apron to the barricade. Kingston set up Jimmy on the ladder, Morrison went up top, Kingston tripped him up and JBL talked about how these guys were beating the hell out of eachother. Kingston climbed up top while Morrison walked across the top across the ring to Kingston and Morrison hit a Spanish Fly on Kingston into the ring. Jimmy hit an Uso Splash on Morrison and all three guys were down selling.
Jimmy tried a slow climb, Kingston went after him and Jimmy managed to punch him down. Kingston climbed up the inside of the ladder for some reason, then he knocked Jimmy down with punches and Kofi was near the top of the ladder. Morrison was there with punches to slow down Kingston, but Kofi managed to knock him down. Kingston jumped off the ladder near the top of it and he hit a double foot stomp to the upper chest of Morrison. That was an impressive spot. Jimmy brought another ladder into the ring, it was bridged to the ropes and the other ladder and Jimmy sent Kofi face first into the ladder. Jimmy trash talked Kofi saying he flattened his face like a pancake. Morrison jumped off a ladder right into a superkick by Uso. Jimmy was on top of a ladder, Morrison shoved it and Jimmy bumped over the top all the way to the floor. They didn’t show Jimmy’s landing, but Jimmy was out on the floor. There may have been a crash pad or something and then they could edit it out. I don't know if they did that, but it's possible. Morrison was all alone in the ring as he slowly climbed up where the ladder bridge was. Morrison was near the top, he held onto the base that the ladders were on, but he couldn’t reach because Kingston stopped Morrison’s climb. Jimmy got back into it with a second ladder side by side. All three guys were holding the apparatus and all three guys held the hanger that was holding the two titles. Jimmy and Kingston each headbutted Morrison and Morrison took both titles down, so Morrison wins the match at 18:30.
Winner: John Morrison (Morrison and Miz remain Smackdown Tag Team Champions)
Analysis: ****1/4 This was a great match with plenty of fantastic spots and it was exciting the whole way. They did some unique stuff in there while wrestling at a fast pace as well. Morrison’s win came off as a cheap victory because he took a bump while he won, but I don’t mind it because it shows how close it was. Kingston was incredible with some of the high spots he did, Jimmy showed us he could be an awesome singles wrestler if given the chance (I like him in a team) and Morrison may have had the best performance of the three. I really liked the match a lot. If there were fans it would probably be better, but it was still a lot of fun to watch. Nice job by all three guys. It’s still weird that a triple threat singles match was for the Tag Team Titles, but they made the best of a tough situation.
Morrison was down on the mat selling the beating while holding the two titles. There was a replay of the finish. Kingston and Jimmy were frustrated in the ring.
A WWE Network commercial aired.
There was a video package to set up Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens, which is up next. This has had a long build on the Raw brand.
Seth Rollins entered first for his match in all white gear. I saw him in an interview once saying Vince McMahon didn’t like him in white gear, so maybe he got to do it here to be different since it’s WrestleMania. I can remember Rollins in white gear at SummerSlam in the past. Anyway, Kevin Owens was up next as the babyface in his KO-Mania IV shirt.
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
Owens was aggressive with punches and kicks. Rollins had “Monday Night Messiah” on his tights. Owens with a clothesline followed by two senton splashes so Rollins bailed to the floor. Owens with a chop followed by a whip into the barricade two times. They battled on the apron with Owens countering a powerbomb attempt with a back body drop on the apron, which is the hardest and a Falcon Arrow slam on the apron. Rollins hit a suicide dive on Owens into the barricade. Owens got a punch to knock down Rollins briefly in the ring, but Rollins came back with the Slingblade neckbreaker. Rollins worked over Owens with kicks to the back. Rollins trash talked Owens saying that KO things he was the one to burn it down at WrestleMania and Rollins hit a kick to the gut. Owens avoided The Stomp two times and hit a kick to the gut followed by a DDT. Rollins missed a corner splash because KO moved, Owens with a superkick and a cannonball attack against the turnbuckle. Owens went up top with a Senton Bomb for a two count. They each reversed some signature moves, Rollins hit an enziguri and Owens bounced off the ropes with a clothesline. Owens set up Rollins for a superplex, Rollins gouged the eyes and Rollins hit a Buckle Bomb into the turnbuckle. Rollins with two superkicks, Rollins into the ropes and Owens hit a Popup Powerbomb into a pin attempt for a two count because it’s not his finisher anymore. They left the ring, Rollins hit Owens with the ring bell and Owens was announced as the winner by disqualification after about 10 minutes.
Winner by disqualification: Kevin Owens…but wait there’s more
Owens grabbed the microphone and said that those weren’t the actions of a God, they were the actions of a little bitch. Owens wanted Rollins to finish this once – he said no disqualification and no rules.
The match restarted with Rollins hitting Owens with a knee. Rollins sent Owens into the barricade. Rollins hit Owens with the top half of the steel steps. Rollins grabbed a steel chair at ringside and he hit Owens in the body three times. Rollins told the referee he can do whatever he wants. The chair shots were very loud in the empty arena. Owen came back with the ring bell in the head two times. Rollins was laying down on the announce table. Owens climbed up the WrestleMania sign that was above the announce table and he jumped onto Rollins with an elbow drop/senton splash that drove Rollins through the table. That was an impressive leap! When Owens climbed up he said: “How’s this for a WrestleMania moment?” That was awesome. They were down selling the big spot as you would expect. Owens sent Rollins back into the ring and Owens hit the Stunner with Rollins selling it down by collapsing. Owens covered Rollins for the pinfall win at 17:20 after the match began.
Winner by pinfall: Kevin Owens
Analysis: ***3/4 This was a very good match with the big spot by Owens really standing out as a big moment in the match. They set it up well with Rollins getting disqualified on purpose, Owens wanting to keep fighting and finding a way to win makes him the kind of likable babyface that you want to root for. I picked Owens to win because it just made sense in the storyline to have Owens get the victory that he needs to give him momentum as a babyface. They worked so well together.
— WWE (@WWE) April 5, 2020
Rob Gronkowski and Mojo Rawley were on the balcony. R-Truth showed up with the 24/7 Title saying that this thing has been giving him problems. Truth said he can’t go to picnics, church or cookouts. Truth asked if he can chill there for a little bit. Gronk knocked Truth down, but then Mojo shoved Gronk away and Mojo pinned Truth to win the 24/7 Title again.
Paul Heyman was interviewed by Charly Caruso in the backstage area. Heyman said that Drew McIntyre is 24 hours away from being a wannabe that can’t beat Lesnar. Heyman said for 20 years, he has accurately conveyed to the world just how unique Lesnar truly is and how once-ever Lesnar truly is. Heyman said that Lesnar is a super being, he’s not even our species and McIntyre is going to learn that in 24 hours. Heyman uttered some of his favorite phrases describing Lesnar while saying that Brock was the greatest title holder that has graced a WWE ring with his mere presence and he let us know his name is Brock Lesnar.
The announcers plugged night two WrestleMania matches: Lesnar vs. McIntyre for the WWE Title, Edge vs. Orton, Otis vs. Ziggler, Black vs. Lashley, Bayley vs. Banks vs. Tamina vs. Evans vs. Naomi for the Smackdown Women’s Championship, Ripley vs. Charlotte for the NXT Women’s Championship, Street Profits vs. Garza/Theory for the Raw Tag Team Titles and The Fiend vs. John Cena in a Firefly Funhouse Match. I assume Lesnar vs. McIntyre goes on last.
Braun Strowman entered as the challenger for the Universal Championship as the replacement for Roman Reigns. Goldberg was next as the Universal Champion with his white beard.
Universal Championship: Bill Goldberg vs. Braun Strowman
Goldberg with a kick to the gut, Goldberg charged, Strowman moved and Goldberg hit the turnbuckle. Strowman went for the Powerslam, Goldberg got out of it and Goldberg hit a Spear. Goldberg hit two more Spears leading to a two count. Goldberg with a fourth Spear. Goldberg went for the Jackhammer, but Strowman countered into a Powerslam. Strowman hit a second Powerslam, then a third Powerslam and he wanted Goldberg to get up for more. Strowman hit a fourth Running Powerslam and Strowman pinned Goldberg to win the title at 2:10.
Winner by pinfall AND NEW Universal Champion: Braun Strowman
Analysis: * A quick match as expected whenever Goldberg is out there because WWE knows it’s for the best. They hit big moves, Strowman kicking out of the Spears was a good sign and Strowman hitting his finisher four times was the right way to put him over in a big way. Strowman won the Universal Championship after not even being booked in a match on this card and only because Roman Reigns was removed from the show. I don’t mind it because I’m so tired of Goldberg matches and Goldberg winning titles, so I’m all for a title change.
Braun Strowman celebrated with the Universal Championship. It is Braun’s first time winning a major title in WWE.
Analysis: I didn’t predict a Strowman win because I thought WWE might want to have Reigns beat Goldberg down the road, but I am certainly fine with Strowman winning.
A commercial aired for next year’s WrestleMania in Los Angeles at the new SoFi Stadium that will be the home of my LA Rams and the LA Chargers. Here’s hoping we can get back to “normal” by then with fans in attendance.
A video package aired for AJ Styles vs. The Undertaker, which is the main event of this first night of WrestleMania.
AJ Styles arrived in a hearse and got out of a casket as if it was no big deal. The Undertaker arrived on a motorcycle while Metallica’s song “Now That We’re Dead” played. It was pretty cool.
— Metallica (@Metallica) April 5, 2020
Boneyard Match: The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles
Styles trash talked Undertaker by calling him an old man and asking if Michelle McCool let Undertaker out this late. Undertaker whipped Styles into the back of the hearse and the casket. This was filmed in a cinematic way like a TV show or movie. Undertaker tried an attack by the car, but Styles moved and Undertaker hit his arm against the car window, so there was a cut on Undertaker’s arm. Undertaker tossed Styles onto the glass of the hearse. They brawled on the hearse with Undertaker beating him down with punches while telling Styles not to talk about Taker’s wife again. Styles got some momentum going with punches followed by a kick to the groin. Styles worked over Undertaker with punches by a grave that had a hole, but Undertaker came back with a punch of his own. Undertaker with a punch that led to Styles falling into a grave. That’s when Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson showed up to help Styles, so Undertaker walked over towards them. There were six guys dressed like druids that were there to support Gallows and Anderson as well, so Undertaker was outnumbered in a big way. Undertaker beat on those guys with punches and kicks, but Gallows/Anderson beat on Taker with punches and kicks. Undertaker managed to fight back with punches to take down Gallows and Anderson. Taker used a shovel handle to hit Anderson and he also hit Gallows. Styles showed up with some object that he used to hit Undertaker from behind to knock him down. Styles told Taker that Michelle never should have let him out. Styles worked on Taker with punches. Styles told him to give up or retire already. Styles charged at Taker and he tackled him through a wooden fence that was where they were. Undertaker was down groaning and selling the attack. Undertaker gave Styles the middle finger with Taker sounding like he was out of breath. Styles said he thought Taker was an American Badass, but now he looks like a broken down old bitch. Taker was groaning a lot as Styles got a shovel in his hands. Styles hit Undertaker in the back with a shovel and Undertaker fell into a grave. Styles: “Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.” Styles got into a tractor and he was about to dump something on him, but then there was The Undertaker standing behind him. The power of pre-tapes strikes again.
Undertaker chased after Styles, who climbed up a ladder to get onto the roof of some building at the cemetery. Taker lifted up his arms and there was fire behind Styles. When Styles charged at him, Taker decked him with a kick. Gallows and Anderson were back up so Undertaker punched them to knock them down. Taker threw Gallows off the roof onto the ground. Undertaker gave Anderson a Tombstone piledriver on top of the house. Styles wondered how he was coming back, Styles with punches that Undertaker didn’t sell and Undertaker gave Styles a Chokeslam off the roof onto some wooden pallet material below. Undertaker asked Styles what’s his wife’s name? Styles didn’t speak. Taker asked how old he is and asked Styles if he knows how old Taker is. Taker told him that they’re not done yet, they’re just getting started. Taker put Styles on his shoulders while saying that Styles is a lot tougher than he gave him credit for. Styles said he was sorry, so Taker asked what he was sorry for. Styles told him not to bury him. Taker told him to go out like a man. Taker told him he put up a hell of a fight and he gave Styles credit for fighting his ass off. Taker hugged him saying there’s a lot of people who can’t give him that fight. Taker looked like he was about to leave, but he turned back around and kicked Styles into the grave. Taker got into the tractor or whatever it is and he dumped the dirt onto Styles in the grave. Undertaker removed a cover on the headstone that said “AJ Styles 1977-2020” on it. They showed Styles in the grave with a glove on. This whole thing went about 19 minutes.
Winner: The Undertaker
Analysis: I don’t think I can rate this like a regular match. If I did maybe it would be around **** or so, but it's hard to rate like that. There was a lot to that Boneyard match. It was shot like a movie scene and you can't compare it to a regular match. I thought it looked pretty cool. The story saw Styles dominate some of it, Undertaker looked like he was done, then due to the magic of editing he was there to keep attacking Styles. That led to Taker beating up Gallows and Anderson as well. It was different than anything WWE has really done in the past and I don’t know if every WWE fan is going to like it. I liked it for the most part. It was creative, but it worked in terms of the story they were trying to tell. I just can’t sit here and say three stars or whatever because it’s unlike any pro wrestling “match” I’ve ever seen before. What I could criticize is that the world is dealing with a health crisis right now and a lot of deaths are being reported on a daily basis, so it’s not easy to watch a match where the idea is to bury somebody. It’s pro wrestling, though, so I’m not going to get too worked up about it. I really liked the presentation of this as a different kind of match.
The Undertaker put his bandana back on, he got back to his motorcycle and he left as the winner. Undertaker held his right hand up as some fire went off along with the Undertaker symbol. A Metallica song played as he drove away. That was the end of this part of WrestleMania.
Analysis: That final scene looked cool. The American Badass version of Undertaker showed up, kicked some ass and left triumphantly just as he walked in.
This first part of Wrestlemania had a run time of 2:58:57 on WWE Network.
Five Stars of the Show
- John Morrison/Kofi Kingston/Jimmy Uso
- The Undertaker
- Kevin Owens
- AJ Styles
- Seth Rollins
I’ll rate this part of WrestleMania a 7.25 out of 10.
I enjoyed the show with the ladder match standing out as the best match with Owens/Rollins right there beside it. I’m also happy for Braun Strowman winning the Universal Championship because I thought it was something he should have won three years ago, so to see it happen for him now is cool. The Undertaker/Styles Boneyard Match at the cemetery was like a cinematic fight sequence rather than a regular match, so I can’t compare it to a wrestling match. I thought it was very creative and well done.
The rest of the matches were just okay with the Women’s Tag Team Title match actually being a bit better than Lynch/Baszler or Zayn/Bryan. I didn’t expect that before the show, but it helped that the Women’s Tag Team Title match got more time.
Overall, I enjoyed the presentation of this first night of WrestleMania. It’s not easy without a crowd and I know some fans are going to hate it, but I think we have gotten used to it as fans. Is it better than a wrestling show with fans? Absolutely not. I’m just saying the wrestlers deserve credit for telling their stories in the ring in an entertaining way even with the fans not there.
If you're wondering what matches are coming on Sunday (night two), here they are although not necessarily in this order:
* Natalya vs. Liv Morgan (Kickoff Show)
* Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler
* Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley
* SD Women's Title: Bayley vs. Tamina vs. Sasha Banks vs. Lacey Evans vs. Naomi
* NXT Women's Title: Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair
* Raw Tag Team Titles: Street Profits vs. Angel Garza & Austin Theory
* Firefly Fun House Match: John Cena vs. Bray Wyatt
* Last Man Standing Match: Edge vs. Randy Orton
* WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre
I'll have that review up on TJRWrestling on Sunday night as WrestleMania happens.