Saturday, April 4, 2020

Wrestlemania 36 - Part One

By Steve Ward

In a time devoid of the vast majority of professional sports, the WWE (and AEW) have continued to satiate the desire for entertainment to their loyal fan bases as they have consistently aired all of their weekly programs absent of any fans. The “Showcase of the Immortals” began this evening with part one of Wrestlemania 36 from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida. This year’s event has been billed “Too Big For One Night” and hence the reason it has been divided into two evenings making it one of the most unique Wrestlemanias since Wrestlemania 2 - when some of you may recall the event emanated from The Nassau Veteran’s Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, NY, The Rosemont Horizon in Rosemont, IL, and The Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles, CA with each venue having it’s very own main event.

One could deduce that this year’s show had been divided into two evenings because there is no NXT Takeover event being held and to limit the amount of personnel in the Performance Center but leave it to WWE and their publicity team to put a positive spin on the event. While I would not expect the superstars to put any less effort forward from a physical standpoint, the biggest question would be how they would react to the dynamic of no fans in attendance. Sure, many of the wrestlers have likely performed in a high school gymnasium in front of 15 people in the early stages of their careers, but to be someone who feeds of off crowd reaction and uses it drive their performance this could certainly be disconcerting - if not eerie.

Nonetheless, I still feel like a kid again when this weekend comes around each year and look forward to two great nights of live entertainment because I can only watch so many classic ballgames on MLB Network.

Kickoff Show

Cesaro vs. Drew Gulak
Winner: Cesaro via pinfall

Cesaro disposed of Daniel Bryan’s newfound running mate Drew Gulak as he executed a no-hands airplane spin to seal the pinfall victory.

Main Card

WWE Women’s Tag Team Championship
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross vs. The Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) (c)
Winners: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross via pinfall

Bliss and Cross appeared to be in dire straits for the majority of this bout. Bliss was disposed of at ringside for a significant portion of the match allowing the Kabuki Warriors to have their way with her - even executing a modification of The Doomsday Device. Cross was able to stave off defeat long enough to turn the tides as late in the match she executed a spinning neck breaker on Sane as Bliss conveniently made her way back to the ring apron. Cross tagged Bliss back in as she scaled to the top turnbuckle and landed the Twisted Bliss to crown new champs.

King Corbin vs. Elias
Winner: Elias via pinfall

There was a great deal of speculation as to whether Elias would even participate in this match after Corbin had launched him off of a balcony one week ago on Friday Night Smackdown. Not only did he show up but rode the momentum of a Jeff Jarrett-esque guitar shot to Corbin’s head prior to the start of the match.

RAW Women’s Championship
Becky Lynch (c) vs. Shayna Baszler
Winner: Becky Lynch via pinfall

Following an absolutely dominant performance where she defeated five other women to become the number one contender at last month’s Elimination Chamber pay per view, the Queen of Spades went toe to toe this evening with The Man for her title. This was an extremely physical contest with an abundance of strikes thrown by each superstar. It appeared Baszler was about the fulfill the prediction of many and win the title as she cinched in the Kirifuda Clutch, however, Becky rolled over while Shayna’s shoulders were still pinned down and miraculously stole a pinfall to retain her title.

WWE Intercontinental Championship
Daniel Bryan w/ Drew Gulak vs. Sami Zayn (c) w/ Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura
Winner: Sami Zayn via pinfall

Cesaro and Nakamura proved to be the difference in this contest. Late in the bout, the two of them laid waste to Drew Gulak which prompted Daniel Bryan to take them out with a suicide dive. With Zayn still seemingly down for the count in the ring, Bryan climbed to the top turnbuckle but as he dove at Zayn he was unceremoniously met with a version of the Helluva Kick allowing Sami to retain his title.

Triple Threat Ladder Match for the Smackdown Tag Team Championship
Kofi Kingston vs. Jimmy Uso vs. John Morrison
Winner: John Morrison 

Yes, you read that correctly. This bout was for the tag team championship, however, only one member of each team participated after The Miz fell ill, and obviously with the current global climate, was not able to compete. As the closing moments of the match approached, all three competitors found themselves at the top of two ladders propped below the titles hanging in the balance. All three men had their hands on the titles as they were detached and as they struggled for possession, Morrison fell down onto another ladder that was propped up by the ring ropes and one of the ladders in the ring. By dumb luck, he fell with the titles in tow solidifying a successful defense.

Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
Winner: Kevin Owens via pinfall

Following his open defiance of Seth Rollins and his collective of AOP and Buddy Murphy for several weeks, Kevin Owens finally earned his shot at redemption and his Wrestlemania Moment tonight. Rollins dominated the bout early but wasn’t able to put Owens away. Owens then caught Rollins with the Pop-Up Powerbomb but The Monday Night Messiah escaped the pinfall and rolled out of the ring. Rollins then made his way to the timekeeper’s area with Owens in tow, grabbed the ring bell, and struck KO with it leading to a disqualification. This outcome wasn’t acceptable to Owens who proceeded to call Rollins a bitch and challenged him to a no disqualification match which he readily accepted. This second match didn’t last long as Owens laid Rollins out across the announce table and ascended to the top of the Wrestlemania sign just behind it. Owens then jumped from the top of the sign and put Rollins through the table. The two then returned to the ring where Owens dropped Rollins again with the Stunner to earn the pinfall.

WWE Universal Championship
Goldberg (c) vs. Braun Strowman
Winner: Braun Strowman via pinfall

Following weeks of buildup of a title clash between Roman Reigns and Goldberg, The Big Dog was removed from the card due to health concerns stemming from his recent bout with leukemia. In stepped a formidable foe in “The Monster Among Men” Braun Strowman - a man who previously had no match scheduled on the card to much surprise. Goldberg slipped out of an early power slam attempt by Strowman and executed four spears in a row, however, when he attempted The Jackhammer, Braun reversed it with a power slam. Braun then executed two more power slams and finished things off with a running power slam to quite frankly provide the shock of the night as he pinned the Hall of Famer to earn his first ever Universal Championship.

Boneyard Match
The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles
Winner: The Undertaker

Following The Undertaker’s surprise appearance at WWE Crown Jewel in February where he cost Styles his victory in a gauntlet match, The Phenomenal One has made it a point to call out the Deadman time and time again until tonight’s match came to fruition. This match did not take place inside of the Performance Center, but rather at an undisclosed outdoor location made up to look like a graveyard. AJ Styles arrived in a hearse whereas The Undertaker tapped into his old American Badass persona from the early 2000s and rode in on a motorcycle. After Undertaker had dumped Styles into an open grave, Gallows and Anderson made their presence known as they arrived with several “druids.”

The Undertaker laid waste to all of the robed individuals and as he was gaining the upper hand on Gallows and Anderson, Styles reemerged to crack what appeared to be a piece of concrete over The Phenom’s head. Styles proceeded to verbally belittle The Undertaker for several minutes until he cracked a shovel over his back and threw him into the open grave. As AJ boarded a John Deere in order to bury him, a rejuvenated Undertaker emerged behind Styles and proceeded to lay waste to both him and his OC cohorts. Moments later, Styles also became the recipient of a vicious choke slam off the top of a shed/barn-like structure. Styles proceeded to beg for forgiveness until The Undertaker kicked him into the open grave and used the John Deere to bury him. Apparently this was a buried alive match (I say apparently because no stipulations were established beforehand) so with Styles put away, the Deadman jumped back on his motorcycle and rode off into the night to bring night number one to a close.

official WrestleMania 36 poster : SquaredCircle

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