Wrestlemania XXXVI Night One

Wrestlemania XXXVI Part 1
Date: April 4, 2020
Location: WWE Performance Center, Orlando, Florida
Commentators: Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield
Host: Rob Gronkowski

Sweet goodness that does not feel right. I’m not sure what to expect tonight because WWE didn’t feel the need to tell us what was going to be taking place on either night. This show is going to have about a hundred asterisks in the history books and that’s perfectly fine, but it doesn’t make things any less disappointing (not that it’s WWE’s fault). Let’s get to it.

Kickoff Show: Cesaro vs. Drew Gulak

Gulak takes him down by the arm to start but Cesaro powers up with a backbreaker to get out of trouble. That earns him a LeBell Lock (which Cole calls a Crossface, missing the point of the move almost entirely) to send Cesaro outside so Gulak dives on him for a bonus. Back in and Cesaro’s arm gets snapped across the top rope and a clothesline puts him on the floor again. Cesaro gets sent into the steps but he’s able to uppercut Gulak out of the air back inside for two. The Neutralizer can’t work but Cesaro uses the left arm uppercut and goes with a (no hands) spinning torture rack slam for the pin at 4:05.

Rating: C. Just a match here and it did well enough with the warmup stuff, though my goodness it’s going to be a rough couple of nights. The lack of crowd reaction is going to hurt things a lot but that was always going to be the case. They were a little more energized than usual, but Cole on his own and nothing else as far as noise is going to make for some tough going.

Stephanie McMahon welcomes us to the show to explain that we are on a closed set with no audience. Tonight, they are going to be making people happy, because this is Wrestlemania. There’s your first WWE pat on the back of the night.

Instead of an original version of America the Beautiful, we get a montage of versions of the song played at previous Wrestlemanias. That’s a good one at least.

The opening video goes into the full pirate theme but the narrator says hang on a second because this is too cliched. Instead, he walks us through everything included, such as shots of heroes and catchphrases. It turns into a regular trailer, complete with the same narrator telling us to forget everything we know coming into tonight. Fate leads the way and fate has a funny way of surprising us. We go into For Those About To Rock for a better intro. I love pirate movies so this worked well for me.

Rob Gronkowski welcomes us to the show and says he’s the right man for the job because he knows how to start a thirty hour party. Mojo Rawley comes in to take some chops and it’s time to go to the ring.

Women’s Tag Team Titles: Kabuki Warriors vs. Alexa Bliss/Nikki Cross

The Warriors are defending for the first time since mid December. Asuka laughs at Bliss to start and it’s off to Sane before anything happens. Kairi knocks Bliss down and messes with her bow so it’s a slap to the face, allowing Bliss to mess with Kairi’s hair for a change. It’s off to Cross for a running basement dropkick but Sane powers her into the corner. Asuka comes in and gets forearmed in the chest as everything breaks down.

Nikki dives off the apron to take out Sane, meaning it’s time for a hug back inside. Back in and Nikki sends Sane to the floor, only to have her dropkick through the ropes cut off. Cross gets taken into the corner but manages a sunset flip for two, setting up the tag to Bliss. That’s fine for Sane, who hits an Alberto top rope double stomp for her own two. Asuka works on an armbar but her bulldog is broken up.

Not that it matters as a kick to the face drops Bliss for two more. Bliss gets up and avoids a charge, allowing the hot tag to Cross to pick up the pace. Sane rakes her eyes but Asuka walks into the Purge. The Insane Elbow breaks up the cover though and they’re both down again. Cross goes for a rollup but gets pulled into the Asuka Lock.

That’s broken up with Twisted Bliss but Sane Intercepts Bliss to put everyone down. Cross catches Sane on top but gets caught in a powerbomb/top rope forearm combination for a rather near fall. Back up and Cross hits the Purge to drop Sane, setting up Twisted Bliss for the pin and the titles at 15:03.

Rating: C. This could have been worse but it went on a good bit too long. The title change was supposed to be a feel good moment but when the titles have never meant anything beyond their first few weeks, the impact isn’t really there. Cross was pushed as the star of the match and it was fine enough, though I have no faith in the futures of the titles.

The Artist Collective have a plan for Daniel Bryan.

Elias vs. King Corbin

Hold on though as Corbin shows us a clip of his attempted murder of Elias last week so Corbin demands a forfeit. Cue Elias to break the guitar over Corbin’s back and a good posting so we can get started. Elias elbows him down for one and a swinging neckbreaker gets the same. Corbin gets in a toss to the floor though and Elias is sent shoulder first into the post. Some elbows to the shoulder keep Elias down as Cole tries to make this story sound intense.

Corbin shouts at commentary a lot and then sends Elias shoulder first into the post again. Elias manages to reverse a whip to send Corbin’s shoulder into the post though and it’s time for a breather. Some clubberin in the corner puts Corbin down but he grabs Deep Six for two. Elias knees him in the face for two more but Corbin rolls away before the top rope elbow launches. An uppercut lets Corbin put his feet on the ropes for two so Elias grabs a rollup with tights for the pin at 8:53.

Rating: D. Raw style match here and that’s not the best thing in the world. It was fine for a revenge match as Elias was aggressive but pinning Corbin is more damaging to him than pin. That being said, Elias being launched off a ten foot high balcony is just an eight day injury now? Come on already.

We recap Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler. Lynch has been Raw Women’s Champion for a year now and has beaten everyone there is to beat but Baszler won a triple threat match, also including Bayley, at Survivor Series. Baszler was unstoppable in NXT and bit Becky’s neck to draw a lot of blood. Then she ran through the Elimination Chamber to earn the title shot in the most obvious result in years. Becky has been trying to play mind games but Baszler is such a killer that she doesn’t seem too bothered.

Raw Women’s Title: Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler

Becky is defending and drives her semi truck to the arena for her big entrance. Baszler wastes no time in going for the Kirifuda Clutch but Becky is outside in a hurry. Baszler follows but Becky sends her into the steps a few times and Baszler is banged up early. Back in and Becky hits her missile dropkick, setting up a beating in the corner. It’s too early for the Disarm-Her though and Becky has to get out of the Kirifuda Clutch.

A spinebuster into a double underhook spinning faceplant gets two and Becky is sent to the apron. They slug it out until a Rock Bottom onto the apron plants Baszler. A powerbomb into the cross armbreaker has Becky in trouble until she stacks Baszler up for two. That’s reversed into the Disarm-Her on Becky, followed by a knee to the face for another near fall.

Becky goes to the apron and gets in a Stunner over the ropes, setting up a quickly broken Disarm-Her over the ropes. Baszler reverses that into an even more quickly broken Kirifuda Clutch to send Becky outside. This time Baszler follows her out and swings Becky head first into the announcers’ table like she did on Raw. Back in and the standing version of the Clutch goes on but Becky flips backwards into a cradle to retain at 8:42.

Rating: B-. Uh….ok then. I have no idea why they need to keep the title on Becky at the moment as she has literally held the title for a year and is getting close to the modern record. I’m not sure what the point is in keeping it on her here as the only thing left is a submission match with Baszler or a one on one match with Rousey, which doesn’t seem likely. Good match, but pretty confusing result.

Undertaker is getting a limited series on the WWE Network. Makes sense given the upcoming 30 year mark.

Intercontinental Title: Sami Zayn vs. Daniel Bryan

Zayn is defending with Cesaro, Shinsuke Nakamura and Drew Gulak all at ringside. Sami hits the very long pause button to start and Bryan finally gives chase, allowing Cesaro to cut Bryan off. They do the same thing again but this time it’s Nakamura playing Cesaro’s role. Gulak and Cesaro get into a fight on the floor until Gulak sends Nakamura over the barricade. Gulak nearly gets in a fight with Sami for the DQ but Bryan finally chases Sami down on the ramp.

Bryan starts in on the leg as Sami loudly begs off, only to be sent outside. That means a heck of a suicide dive, followed by a running dropkick in the corner for a bonus. Some knees to the face have Sami rocked but he scores with some forearms to slow Bryan down. Bryan fights back up but Cesaro and Nakamura jump Gulak. That earns them a double suicide dive, allowing Sami to kick Bryan out of the air for the surprise pin at 9:20.

Rating: C+. Nice match here with another surprising finish. Sami is a rather good choice for the cocky champion who keeps surviving and after everything he’s done over the years, I like the idea of letting him have the title for a bit. Throw in the issue of Bryan possibly self quarantining and there was little reason to switch the title here. Well other than the idea of Bryan facing a challenger of the week in one great match after another.

Smackdown Tag Team Titles: Jimmy Uso vs. Kofi Kingston vs. John Morrison

Morrison is defending for his team in a ladder match. Some monkey flips don’t work to start so everyone goes to the floor to grab a ladder each. Jimmy gets knocked down first and comes up holding his leg. Morrison stomps both of them down on the mat but has to fight off the SOS onto the ladder. Trouble in Paradise misses as well and it’s Kofi vs. Jimmy slugging it out on top.

That goes nowhere so Morrison takes Kofi’s place, leaving Kofi to springboard through the ladder…and then get caught and dumped to the floor. Morrison puts a ladder over the middle rope and climbs to the top of the post for a corkscrew Swanton onto Jimmy onto the ladder. The climb takes too long though and it’s Kofi springboarding in for a hurricanrana to take Morrison down in a unique spot.

A running dive over the top takes down Morrison and the ladder and they’re all down on the floor. Back in and Morrison hits the super Spanish Fly on Kofi, followed by the Superfly Splash from Jimmy. Kofi headbutts Morrison off the top of the ladder before diving off the top with the double stomp to Morrison’s chest. Jimmy slides in another ladder and wedges it inside the standing ladder.

A HARD whip sends Kofi face first into the bridged ladder and Morrison gets superkicked out of the air. Jimmy goes up but Morrison shoves the ladder over, sending Jimmy down for the big crash (it was such a drop that he changed directions after landing). Kofi catches Morrison on top for the slugout but here’s Jimmy with another ladder to put all three up at once. They all pull the title hook down at once and it’s a triple headbutt to knock Morrison down with the titles to retain at 18:36.

Rating: B. This felt like a good ladder match that would have made it into a great one had it been in front of a crowd. What we got was good enough though and the dives and landings were rather awesome. I liked this more than almost anything else but my goodness it’s hard to watch them land like this with no one being there to watch. Good match, but sad in its way.

We recap Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins. Seth has turned into the Monday Night Messiah but Owens doesn’t think much of him. They both had teams built up but the AOP is sidelined due to Rezar’s injury and Samoa Joe is suspended. Therefore, it’s one on one with the idea that Owens has never had a Wrestlemania moment. That’s not quite how history works, but it’s what we’re getting.

Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens

Rollins is in white but the glove has been some king of Tiger King referenced. Owens slugs away to start and hits a backsplash to put Rollins on the floor in a hurry. A backdrop onto the apron has Owens in trouble and a Falcon Arrow onto the apron makes it even worse. The suicide dive is broken up with a right hand but Rollins is fine enough to hit the Sling Blade.

Owens hits a DDT to get a breather and the Swanton connects for two. The Pop Up Powerbomb misses and so does the Stunner, allowing Rollins to hit an enziguri. Owens blasts him with a clothesline though and it’s a double knockdown. Rollins is up first and hits some superkicks to set up the Stomp, only to get reversed into the Pop Up sitout Powerbomb for two. They head outside with Rollins hitting him with the bell….and that’s a DQ at 10:09.

Hold on though as Owens says Rollins isn’t much of a god if that’s the best he can do. Owens wants to continue it No DQ so Rollins is back in to knee him in the head as the bell rings. Rollins throws him to the floor and the steps bounce off of Owens’ head, followed by a chair to the back. Owens bells him in the head a few times (it rings even if you hit someone with the board underneath it) and then climbs the sign for a huge backsplash to send Rollins through the announcers’ table. They stagger back inside for the Stunner to finish Rollins at 17:26 (counting the break in the middle).

Rating: C. I wasn’t big on this match in the first place and the whole Owens has never had a Wrestlemania Moment deal is still stupid but at least they didn’t stick with the DQ. This feud has lost almost all of the steam that it had in the first place so hopefully it’s done here. Granted when you don’t have much of a TV show to lord over, you’re not going to be the best messiah in the world.

Mojo and Gronk talk about how great the show is when R-Truth comes up to complain about how hard everything is. Gronk knocks him down and Mojo gets the title back. Notice the completely fine announcers’ table in the background.

Paul Heyman scares Charly Caruso but says Drew McIntyre is the one who should be afraid. In 24 hours, McIntyre is being exposed as a fraud and he can crawl out of the ring, victimized and conquered.

We preview tomorrow’s matches.

Smackdown World Title: Braun Strowman vs. Goldberg

Goldberg is defending. Strowman can’t get the powerslam and it’s a pair of spears to drop him in the first minute. Make it three straight for two and then a fourth cuts Strowman down again. Strowman counters the Jackhammer into the powerslam and then another one and then a third and then a big running fourth for the pin and the title at 2:13. You could have gone either way but it’s better to have someone actually active instead of Goldberg. Strowman as champion is about two years overdue, but I can’t imagine this lasts very long.

Wrestlemania XXXVII is in Los Angels.

We recap AJ Styles vs. Undertaker, which is all about AJ not being impressed by the modern Undertaker. He has called out Undertaker’s real life family and Undertaker has been acting more like BikerTaker than the Deadman as they head into a Boneyard match.

Undertaker vs. AJ Styles

They are in a graveyard for this one and there goes the gong as a hearse pulls up to the gate. The casket is pulled out by some druids and it’s AJ inside for a good surprise. Undertaker rides in on the motorcycle to Metallica and AJ talks about Michelle McCool digging the grave. Undertaker goes after him so AJ grabs a rock, only to get sent into an open casket. Undertaker punches through a window and cuts his arm open but throws AJ on top of the hearse anyway.

Some right hands knock him off the hearse and Undertaker has a seat while asking if AJ wants more. After Undertaker quotes Clubber Lang (“You want some more? I got a lot more.”), AJ throws some leaves in his face and gets in a low blow. Undertaker stands up after some right hands and knocks AJ down again, this time into a grave. Cue the OC as this has turned into a western.

A bunch of light comes out of a building and the walls come down to reveal a bunch of masked men. They surround Undertaker and do the eternally brilliant thing of attacking him one at a time. With that taken care of, Anderson and Gallows jump Undertaker but he isn’t about to be hit with a shovel. Instead Undertaker takes it back and beats them down, allowing AJ to break a tombstone over his back.

AJ hammers away and calls him an old man but breaks his fingers on Undertaker’s head. They fight through a wall and both lay on the ground sound like they’re dead. AJ says Undertaker is nothing but Undertaker flips him off and says come on. A shovel over the back puts Undertaker down in a grave and AJ goes to the machine with a barrel of dirt. Then a light shows up behind him and Undertaker pops up to beat on him some more. AJ climbs up a well placed ladder to get on the roof of the barn, so Undertaker makes flames come up to keep him in place.

Anderson and Gallows are up there too, with Gallows being thrown off. Anderson gets Tombstoned onto the metal roof and Undertaker chokeslams AJ off the roof. Undertaker climbs down and asks AJ what his wife’s name is now. They’re just getting started as Undertaker carries him over to the grave. AJ apologizes so Undertaker picks him up and says AJ put up a great fight. Undertaker hugs him and says most people wouldn’t have given him that kind of a fight. Undertaker turns to leave….and then knocks AJ into the grave. Undertaker gets in the machine and pours the dirt on AJ for the win at about 18:30.

Rating: A+. I don’t know what else you could have wanted from this match. This went so far beyond anything resembling sane or rational and went into complete insanity territory, making it one of the most entertaining things I can remember WWE doing in a LONG time. Of course it’s not good but that’s the point. This was entertaining, and that’s a lot more than you are going to get out of most Undertaker matches these days. Watch this and be prepared to laugh quite a bit, because it’s like Final Deletion but with production value.

AJ’s hand sticks out of the dirt as Undertaker gets on his bike. He throws up the fist so more fire comes up on the building and the Undertaker symbol lights up to end the show.

Overall Rating: C. I’m really not sure how to grade this one but I liked some parts of it well enough. The problem really is in the atmosphere, as the show feels so weak that there isn’t much that can be praised. The people were working hard and I feel so bad for them to not get their big Wrestlemania stadium experience. What we got was fun at points, but the lack of crowd energy or big show feeling made it more of a chore to watch at times. It definitely has its moments though, and I didn’t hate it by any means. Check out the main event for sure though, probably with some friends to watch with you, and have a good time.

Results

Alexa Bliss/Nikki Cross b. Kabuki Warriors – Twisted Bliss to Sane

Elias b. King Corbin – Rollup with tights

Becky Lynch b. Shayna Baszler – Rollup

Sami Zayn b. Daniel Bryan – Helluva Kick

John Morrison b. Kofi Kingston and Jimmy Uso – Morrison pulled down the titles

Kevin Owens b. Seth Rollins – Stunner

Braun Strowman b. Goldberg – Running powerslam

Undertaker b. AJ Styles – Undertaker buried Styles

Remember to check out my website at kbwrestlingreviews.com and pick up the paperback edition of KB’s Complete 2004 Monday Night Raw Reviews (also available as an e-book) from Amazon. Check out the information here:

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