Years from now, wrestling fans will be debating whether or not the WWE did the right thing with pushing through with this year’s Wrestlemania. Because of the world’s current situation, The Grandest Stage of Them All was a small arena with no crowds to cheer the WWE Superstars on. It was definitely felt strange watching was is supposed to be the biggest show of professional wrestling reduced to something like this.
Still another radical change the WWE did with this year’s Wrestlemania was splitting the show into 2 nights! This was something I never expected them to do but they did it this year! So, with that, I just have to give my thoughts for Wrestlemania’s first night here! I’ll go talk about the good and the bad stuff.
The first match of the night had the Kabuki Warriors, Asuka and Kairi Sane, defend the Women’s Tag Team Championship against the team of Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross. This just felt like an okay match and nothing really good or bad about it. However, if push comes to shove and I had to choose if this was good or bad, I would put it in the good column. There was a lot of nice, clean wrestling but the empty arena did sap a lot of the energy from the match. There were some cool moves, like The Kabuki Warriors doing something like the Legion of Doom’s Doomsday Device. There were some strange moments for me because of the lack of a live audience. It just looked weird for Nikki Cross to be stomping on the ring steps to rally Alexa Bliss to her corner without a live audience to help her out.
I have to say that, even though this match goes into the “good” column, I didn’t like the finish all that much because it was too abrupt. Nikki simply avoids a backfist from Sane and connects with a swinging neckbreaker. One Twisted Bliss splash later and we have NEW Women Tag Team Champions. I think it’s kind of sad that a Smackdown title is essentially moving to the Raw side but I think it’s necessary as they desperately need to break up The Kabuki Warriors and make them singles competitors. Despite the rather quick ending, it was a decent match overall.
The same can’t be said for the match that came after that. King Corbin going against Elias was a slog, in my opinion. For the life of me, I cannot remember anything about what happened besides King Corbin demanding to get the forfeit victory and Elias smashing his foe with a guitar before the match began. Nothing really stuck out for me. The finish was equally dumb with King Corbin attempting to get the pin but trying to get leverage with the help of the ropes. The referee catches Corbin and the two argue. This allows Elias to roll up Corbin and get the pinfall victory with a handful of tights. Without any question, this match belongs in the bad column.
The next match had Becky Lynch defend her RAW Woman’s Championship against Shayna Bazzler. While I can say that this match did underwhelm me, there was enough fun stuff that happened here so it stays in the good column. Both Becky Lynch and Shayna Bazzler looked like they were really walloping each other and even The Man getting her head caved in a couple of time by The Queen of Spades by smashing her head into the announcer’s table.
My biggest issue with the match was the finish as, once again, it was very anticlimactic. Bazzler managed to lock in her kirafuda clutch on Lynch but Lynch managed to turn it into a pinning predicament, much like how The Man beat Ronda Rousey at last year’s Wrestlemania. This came off as really lazy and, what’s worse, it makes Becky Lynch come of as just lucky at Wrestlemania, not once but twice. Still, it was a good match overall.
Another good match was the one that had Sami Zayn, with Shinusuke Nakamura and Cesaro, defend his Intercontinental Championship against Daniel Bryan, who had Drew Gulak in his corner. I’m a sucker for the classic cocky but cowardly heel taking on the vengeful face type of match and this was one of them. Sami Zayn did a fantastic job of trying to avoid Bryan for as long as he did so the buildup of when he would get his comeuppance kept on getting higher. So when he finally did, it felt fantastic, even though there wasn’t a live crowd to cheer for the moment. The hits from both Zayn and Bryan also looked really real. Some of the slaps and the kicks looked like they really hurt!
I also loved the finish of the match as it was a classic heel win. Nakamura and Cesaro took out Drew Gulak by ramming him into the steel steps. Bryan got some revenge on them with a suicide dive. Bryan then climbed the top rope for a missile dropkick but Zayn recovered enough to counter with a helluva kick. The Great Liberator manages to get the pinfall victory and retain his Intercontinental Championship. Really fun match and, come to think of it, this is the only really good match I don’t have any issues with.
The next match also gets a thumbs up, however, it’s one with a huge asterisk. The reason being is it’s a Ladder match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championships… being defended by only one person per team! It’s just weird. Thankfully, this allowed them to put in Kofi Kingston and John Morrison in the same ladder match. Oh, Jimmy Uso was also good but having Morrison and Kingston in a ladder match was just super smart. All 3 Superstars did swimmingly here. They also made use of the fact that this year’s Wrestlemania was taped. I can’t help but think there was some padding on the outside when Jimmy Uso was dumped to the outside from the top of a ladder.
The finish is strange because it’s something I both love and hate at the same time. Kofi Kingston, Jimmy Uso and John Morrison all climbed a ladder and reached up to get the Smackdown Tag Team belts and all 3 unhooked the thing that was holding the belts. Morrison, however, after eating a double headbutt from Kingston and Uso, fell off the top and into a ladder but managed to grab the belts before taking the plunge. This allowed Morrison to retain the Smackdown Tag Team Championships for his team. While creative on paper, it did look stupid as well. Even with the rather smart/dumb ending, this was a fantastic ladder match with some really sweet spots.
Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens was next and, sadly, this was a bad match from my point of view. There was nothing really wrong with the match itself and I would’ve given this one a pass but, man! I really hate the ending and it just soured me on everything about it. Basically, things got too hot for Rollins so he clocked Owens with a ring bell. This gave Kevin Owens the disqualification victory. So, why the heck would Owens then taunt Rollins to restart the match and make it a No Disqualification match? He already won! If his goal was to beat up on Rollins, he should’ve just taunted him enough so his rival would try to beat him up!
Anyway, after an extended beating, Owens rallied and hit Rollins with the ring bell as well. KO lays out the Monday Night Messiah on the announce table. KO climbs the Wrestlemania sign and splashes Rollins through the table. Both Superstars are brought into the ring and Owens nails a Stunner on Rollins for the pinfall victory… for a match he already won. Dumb.
Another match which gets the thumbs down for me was Goldberg vs. Braun Strowman for the RAW Universal Championship. There’s nothing all that much to say here, really. Goldberg spears Strowman a couple of times then goes for a Jackhammer. Braun Strowman reverses it into a powerslam. A couple more powerslams and Braun Strowman pins Goldberg cleanly for the 1-2-3 and to become the NEW RAW Universal Champion. It’s great that Braun finally won the big one but he should’ve won it a year or so ago. Also, that was a match for the coveted RAW Universal Championship? Yawn.
We then come to the final match of the Part 1 of Wrestlemania 36. That would be the Boneyard match with The Undertaker and AJ Styles. What’s a Boneyard match, you may ask? Well, it’s basically a Buried Alive match but set in a graveyard… or a dilapidated farm. Anyway, this was a super choreographed match much akin to Hardy vs. Hardy: The Final Deletion. While this match didn’t reach the heights of The Final Deletion, the Boneyard match did have some highlights to speak of, like the return of The American Badass version of The Undertaker, AJ Styles punching The Dead Man so hard he broke a finger and the OC summoning druids that The Undertaker punch so hard that they disappear in the next shot. I mean, they’re not sprawled on the floor or anything! They just vanished!
There were a few “false finishers” in this Boneyard match. My favorite would be when The Undertaker fell into a grave and AJ Styles got on a bulldozer to dump dirt into the hole. Then, all of a sudden, The Undetaker just appeared behind AJ Styles! There were other neat little stuff like The Dead Man summoning fire to frighten The Phenomenal One. The real finish was actually hilarious as, after The Undertaker buried his opponent, you could still see AJ Styles hand poking through the dirt! It was like watching a cheap sci-fi movie but with everyone trying their darndest to entertain. Since I was very entertained, I have to say this was a really good match.
Overall, Part 1 of Wrestlemania 36 managed to be mostly good than bad. I will have to say not having a live crowd does take a lot of the wind out of the sails from a good number of the matches. Even so, when the Superstars are trying their best, you can feel it through the television screen so, while it looked weird, there were some matches that did stick out.
See you tomorrow when I do a review of Part 2 of Wrestlemania 36!
What did you think of Wrestlemania 36: Part 1? Let me know in the comments section below!