WrestleMania 36 Day 1 Review and Match Ratings

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Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross def. The Kabuki Warriors (C) – WWE Women’s Tag Team Championships

Can we all just pour one out for Kairi Sane, whose pirate gimmick at a pirate-themed WrestleMania will be shown in front of no one?

I was expecting this match to be on the kickoff show, and it was an interesting choice to open WrestleMania. I’m actually pretty sure this is the first time that WrestleMania has ever opened with a women’s match. If I’m wrong, someone correct me.

Anyway, this ended up actually being way better than I thought it was going to be. It was hard-hitting, physical and had some close near-falls at the end. These four kind of wrestled as though they had a chip on their shoulder, and I sensed some urgency here. Being the first match of WrestleMania is huge in setting a proper tone for the rest of the night.

I believe this was a great way to do so. Good work from all four, and the right call was made on putting it on the people that made the titles feel somewhat important. ***1/4


Elias def. King Corbin

I wasn’t really interested in this match to begin with, as I’m not really invested into either person’s character as such.


The match was okay, I suppose. The good thing is that they kept it relatively brief and it didn’t overstay its welcome. Elias got to get a win that somewhat protects Corbin and grants him a victory. Kind of dull, but nothing horrible or anything. **

Becky Lynch (C) def. Shayna Baszler – RAW Women’s Championship

Shayna lost to Kairi Sane when Sane reversed the Clutch into a pinfall. Ember Moon did the same thing. You’d think Shayna would have a reversal for that by now.

Anyways, I’m legitimately surprised that they had Becky retain here after all the trouble they went through of putting over Shayna as an unstoppable threat.


This seemed like the perfect venue to get the title off of Becky and move in a different direction. I guess I’m not opposed to the decision because Shayna isn’t the strongest character, but it does make me question who will be the one to end her reign? Perhaps Ronda in the future? I don’t know.


Anyway, this match was…alright. The opening tag team match felt like it was way longer than this and the finish kind of came out of nowhere. It didn’t really feel like some tremendous triumph for Becky. It just felt like any other victory. It wasn’t even because there was no crowd. The finish was just..hollow.

I also thought they got the result wrong here. I can only think of a returning Ronda Rousey being the one to win the championship. If not Shayna now, who? NATAYLA? ***

Sami Zayn (C) def. Daniel Bryan – Intercontinental Championship

This was exactly everything that I feared it would be. Not a technical exhibition featuring two of WWE’s greatest baby faces at the peak of their powers.

Instead, this match just focused on Sami being a coward and buying time for Nakamura and Cesaro to interfere for the finish. This was basically any old match you could find on SmackDown. How disappointing. **1/4

John Morrison (C) def. Jimmy Uso and Kofi Kingston – SmackDown Tag Team Championships (Ladder Match)

Having a triple threat singles ladder match for tag team titles in an empty arena sounds something straight out of WCW in the late 90’s.


Regardless of how weird it was to see this in front of no one, I’d like to commend all three of these superstars for the tremendous effort in this match.

I think they want to emphasize how athletic all three of these guys are, and boy did they accomplish that in spades.

Seeing John Morrison in ladder matches is always a treat and Kofi and Jimmy just like flying all over the place. So many innovative spots, so much creativity, so much fun!


I also thought the finish was pretty neat as well. I thought they were really going to do the “everyone has a title” trope, but instead, you have Morrison escape by the teeth of his skin to win the match. Pretty ingenious actually.

I’m just happy that these three fought at the same intensity they would have if they were doing this in front of 80,000 people in a football arena. Greatly paced, great energy and a finish that makes sense. Awesome job. ****

Kevin Owens def. Seth Rollins – No Disqualification

This was the only match on the card that made most use of the fact that there is no crowd, which means we can hear everything they are saying loudly and clearly. This introduced a great element to the match that really picked up after the initial red herring finish.


Overall, there was a great contrast of styles and characters here, as Rollins was consistently trash talking the entire match and Owens was being consistently dominated and mocked for his inferiority.

And holy crap, I’m not sure how Rollins’ abdomen didn’t pop out of his body when Owens took that dive, but that’s about as great a WrestleMania moment is going to get for him.

My only gripe is that they should have just announced a No DQ match from the get-go if that was always the plan. Doing the false finish and re-starting it kind of ruined the flow and rhythm they were getting into. Kind of reminds me of when The Rock came out to re-start a WrestleMania main event with no DQ just so he can legally get involved in the finish.

Otherwise, this ended up being a fun match after the little interlude, and it had just the right intensity to give it the closure needed. Rollins got his comeuppance, Owens got his moment, and the feud ends….until we start it again this Monday. ***3/4

Braun Strowman def. Goldberg (C) – Universal Championship 

For a match with no backstory other than, “Roman Reigns is concerned for his health in real life so we’ll just throw someone else in at the last moment without explaining why”, this was, well..a Goldberg match.

Finisher, no-sell. Finisher, no-sell. Finisher, no-sell. That’s pretty much every Goldberg match since he first came back to the ring in 2016. Whatever. The good thing is that the title is odd someone who shouldn’t be holding any titles this year.

As for Braun, while I didn’t think this would be the way he’d come away with the championship that’s eluded him seemingly forever, better late than never I guess. WWE dropped the ball majorly with Strowman back in 2017, and he really should have gone over Lesnar. But I guess Goldberg is the next best thing.

The match sucked, because of course it did, but thankfully it didn’t offend me in the way Goldberg’s matches with The Fiend and Undertaker did. Those matches were basically unsafe and just bad. This was bad, but not the bad that makes me turn off the television in frustration.

And God bless them for not having Goldberg entertain performing the Jackhammer. His arms would collapse into himself. *

Undertaker def. AJ Styles – Boneyard Match

Um, wow. I don’t even know what I’m supposed to say after that. I can’t tell you what I was expecting. When the match was first announced, I thought they’d just edit out a part of the arena to have the match.

Then, when I read it was going to be filmed at an undisclosed location, I then thought they’d just have a prolonged brawl on the outside and get right to the finish.

What I was not expecting was a cinematic extravaganza filled with special effects, specialized lighting, specific camera angles and everything in between.

If you ask me, this everything that dreaded House of Horrors match wishes it was. I think the best part about this match is that I didn’t fully understand what I watched. But since it was so visually stimulating, I didn’t care.

For a match that I was actually dreading going into tonight, WWE made lemonade out of lemons by producing a great spectacle. If Undertaker is going to keep doing this periodically, they need to be in this format. At least this was able to greatly hide his physical deficiencies.

My favorite parts were the portions where they were just talking to each other. You’re not going to get that kind of character interaction from them in a standard match in the ring. You had Undertaker showing emotion outside of “Rest In Peace”. I mean, the dude flipped him off! AJ was phenomenal in his role as well.

We all didn’t know what to expect, but I believe on some level it did deliver. If this is what WWE had in store for tonight, I’m half excited, half scared for what they are going to do with Cena and The Fiend tomorrow.

This won’t get a match rating cause it was more like a sci-fi film than an actual match, but just know I enjoyed it. Theoretically, I’d give it anything on a scale of 1 to Ultimate Deletion.

The only thing that would have made this better is if Undertaker came out to Limp Bizkit’s “Rollin” like the good old days. But Metallica is a good substitute.

Conclusion:

I’ll give my full thoughts after Day 2 tomorrow, but there was some really good stuff here. Definitely a weird experience, but it hasn’t been a disaster.

In fact, if you get past the deafening silence and just put attention to what was happening, this was an overall solid first night. But I won’t fully recommend (or not recommend) the show, until I see everything. See y’all tomorrow for Day 2.

 

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