Preview by Josh Nason
Due to circumstances caused by the coronavirus pandemic, WWE's 36th edition of WrestleMania will be its most unique yet.
Instead of Sunday in sunny Tampa, Florida, in front of 70,000 fans, we find ourselves at the doorstep of a two-night WrestleMania, filmed more than a week ago in front of a closed set at the Performance Center in Orlando, in addition to various other locations for gimmick matches.
WrestleMania 36 will air across tonight and tomorrow, with the pre-shows for both nights starting at 6 p.m. Eastern time and the main cards starting an hour later.
WWE hasn't confirmed what matches will be on what night. What we do know is that, either on Saturday or Sunday, WWE Champion Brock Lesnar will face Drew McIntyre, Universal Champion Goldberg will defend against Braun Strowman, Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch will defend against Shayna Baszler, Edge will battle Randy Orton in a last man standing match, The Undertaker will take on AJ Styles in a boneyard match, John Cena will return to action against The Fiend in a Firefly Fun House match, and NXT Women's Champion Rhea Ripley will face Charlotte Flair, among other matches.
WrestleMania, for better or worse, is an event like no other. That is indisputably the case this year.
Corey Graves and Pete Rosenberg opened up WrestleMania from the studio. Rosenberg noted the last few weeks have been tough for everyone. They briefly talked about the host Rob Gronkowski and ran down the card for tonight.
Tonight's line up features:
- Universal Champion Goldberg vs. Braun Strowman
- Undertaker vs. AJ Styles in a Boneyard Match
- Raw Women's Champion Beck Lynch vs. Shayna Bazer
- Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn vs. Daniel Bryan
- Ladder match: SmackDown Tag Team Champion John Morrison vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jimmy Uso
- King Corbin vs. Elias
- Women's Tag Team Champions The Kabuki Warriors vs. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
- Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens
Graves and Rosenberg looked at each match in tonight's line up. They discussed Goldberg vs. Braun Strowman and briefly talked about Roman Reigns. They didn't explain the change in the match.
Graves and Rosenberg also noted that The Miz is out of the ladder match, but it's still for the tag team title. They then aired a Miz and John Morrison rap video.
Cesaro defeated Drew Gulak
Gulak had the early advantage, but Cesaro took over with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Gulak recovered and worked over Cesaro's arm. Cesaro powered out and gave Gulak a powerbomb.
Gulak locked on the cross face, but Cesaro made the ropes. Gulak dumped Cesaro to the floor and hit a clothesline off the apron. Gulak continued to work over Cesaro's arm. Gulak tossed Cesaro into the ring steps shoulder-first. Gulak attempted a move off the top, but Cesaro rocked him with an uppercut for a near fall.
Gulak recovered and went back to the arm. He then rolled up Cesaro for a near fall. Cesaro fought back and pushed Gulak into the referee. Gulak stopped himself, but Cesaro hit another uppercut.
Cesaro couldn't do the neutralizer because of his injured arm. Instead, he placed Gulak on his shoulder's and gave him a no hands airplane spin for the win. They had a good match considering the situation.
Back in the studio, Corey Graves and Pete Rosenberg ran down the line up for tomorrow night.
Kayla Braxton interviewed King Corbin. Braxton noted Corbin takes on Elias tonight, but that match is in question. They recapped Corbin injuring Elias on SmackDown two weeks ago.
Corbin noted he ended Kurt Angle's career last year, and this year he ended Elias' career. Corbin pulled out a harmonica and sang a song about Elias.
Renee Young, Booker T and Mark Henry of WWE Backstage discussed Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler.
In the studio, Stephanie McMahon noted tonight and tomorrow's show would be different than past years. She pointed out that WrestleMania takes place without fans from the WWE Performance Center and other locations. She said they hope to offer a distraction from world events.
Stephanie then welcomed everyone to WrestleMania. They aired clips of celebs performing America The Beautiful at past WrestleMania including Aretha Franklin, John Legend, Boyz II Men, Ray Charles, Aloe Blacc, Little Richard, Gladys Knight, Nichole Scherzinger, and Willie Nelson.
WrestleMania host Rob Gronkowski welcomed everyone to the show. He said tonight he's The Gronk and introduced his good friend Mojo Rawley. Rawley's hyped up and demanded Gronk give him some chops.
The SmackDown commentators for tonight are Michael Cole and JBL. The Raw commentators are Tom Philips and Byron Saxton.
Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross defeated The Kabuki Warriors To Win The Women's Tag Team Championship
Asuka teased starting the match and mocked Bliss. Asuka tagged in Kariri Sane to start the match instead. Bliss had the early advantage and mocked Asuka.
The heels briefly took over, but Bliss made the blind tag. Bliss rocked Asuka with a sliding dropkick, and Cross leaped off the apron onto Sane. The Kabuki Warriors regained control and isolated Cross. Asuka hit a bulldog on Cross, and Sane followed up with a basement dropkick.
Bliss was briefly in control. She missed a charge in the corner and the heels trapped her in the tree of woe. Sane than hit a double foot stomp off the top for a close near fall. The heels isolated Bliss on their side of the ring and cut her off from Cross.
Asuka slowed the pace down and worked over Bliss's arm. Bliss tried to fight back, but Asuka rocked her with a knee to the face. Cross got the hot tag and ran wild. She hit a crossbody for a near fall. Asuka made the blind tag, but Cross fought back. Cross pinned Asuka, but Sane hit the insane elbow to break up the pin.
Cross rolled up Asuka, but Asuka reversed into the Asuka lock. Suddenly, Bliss hit Twisted Bliss to break the hold, but Sane caught Bliss with a spear. Asuka hit the codebreaker, and Sane set up for the insane elbow.
Cross recovered and fought with Sane and Asuka on the top. Asuka and Sane hit a powerbomb/clothesline combo on Cross for a near fall. Asuka missed a charge in the corner and went shoulder-first into the ring post.
Sane missed a spinning back fist, and Cross hit the neck breaker. Bliss then hit twisted Bliss to win the Women's Tag Team Championship.
In the back, Kayla Braxton interviewed Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Cesaro. Zayn bragged about having a plan and promised to walk out of WrestleMania as the Intercontinental Champion.
In the locker room, Shayna Baszler gets ready for her match against Becky Lynch later tonight.
Elias defeated King Corbin
Corbin grabbed the mic and noted he's at WrestleMania, but Elias isn't. They recapped Corbin, injuring Elias again. Corbin laughed about hurting Elias and demanded the referee raise his hand.
Elias came out and smashed his guitar over Corbin's back before the match started.
Elias jumped Corbin when the bell rang and scored a near fall. Elias was firmly in control until Corbin dumped him to the floor. Corbin took over and sent Elias shoulder-first into the ring post. Corbin rocked Elias with a series of elbows. Elias tried fighting back, but Corbin sent Elias into the ring post again.
Elias recovered and backed Corbin into the corner. Elias missed a top rope move, and Corbin hit deep six for a very close near fall. Elias fought back and rocked Corbin with a knee for another near fall.
Corbin caught Elias with a shot to the throat and rolled him up using the ropes. The referee caught Corbin, and they argued. Elias then rolled up Corbin with the tights to score the win. They would have had a tough time in front of fans, but it was even tougher without a crowd.
Raw Women's Champion Becky Lynch defeated Shayna Baszler To Retain The Title
Lynch arrived outside of the WWE Performance Center in her semi-trailer truck.
Lynch and Baszler got the special ring introductions for their match.
They traded hard strikes in the middle of the ring to start the match. Baszler got the kirifuda clutch, but Lynch broke free. They brawled around ringside, and Lynch gained control. She followed up with a missile dropkick.
Lynch backed Baszler in the corner and rocked her with a series of strikes. Baszler caught Lynch with a hard knee to take over. Lynch attempted the dis-arm-her, but Baszler reversed into the kirifuda clutch. Lynch rolled through for a near fall.
They fought on the apron trading hard strikes. Lynch hit a uranage on the apron for a near fall. Baszler took over and used an armbar. She transitioned into the dis-arm-her, but Lynch broke free. Baszler rocked Lynch with a knee for a near fall.
Baszler bashed Lynch into the side of the announce desk. Lynch attempted the dis-arm-her, but Baszler locked on the kirifuda clutch. Lynch rolled through and pinned Baszler to retain the title.
Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn (w/Shinsuke Nakamura & Cesaro) defeated Daniel Bryan (w/Drew Gulak) To Retain The Title
The Gronk and Mojo Rawley did the Yes chant from the perch as Bryan and Gulak entered.
Zayn stalled outside of the ring and refused to get in. Bryan chased Zayn around ringside, but Cesaro stepped in the way.
Zayn jumped in the ring, and Bryan chased him around ringside again, but Nakamura stepped in the way this time. Bryan almost got Zayn, but Cesaro and Nakamura both got in the way. Gulak leaped onto Cesaro and Nakamura. He beat them down and tossed them over the barricade.
Zayn tried to leave, but Gulak stopped him. Bryan told Gulak to let Zayn go, but he chased him up the ramp. Bryan threw Zayn in the ring and rocked him with kicks. Bryan followed up with a suicide dive. He then hit the Yes kicks and a missile dropkick. Bryan rocked Zayn with hard slaps in the corner and a series of knees.
Zayn recovered and hit a huge clothesline to take over. Bryan fired up and rocked Zayn with the Yes kicks again. Nakamura and Cesaro recovered and attacked Gulak at ringside. Bryan then took out Nakamura and Cesaro with a suicide dive.
Bryan leaped off the top turnbuckle, but Zayn caught Bryan with the helluva kick to retain the title.
Ladder Match: SmackDown Tag Team Champion John Morrison defeated Kofi Kingston and Jimmy Uso To Retain The Titles
The winner of this match wins the titles for their respective team.
Uso hit a monkey flip on Kingston, but he landed on his feet. Kingston then gave Morrison a monkey flip, but he landed on his feet.
All three jumped out of the ring, and each brought in a ladder.
Morrison's ladder was shorter than the other two. All three fought on the top of the ladders. Morrison pushed Uso off the ladder, and he crashed hard on the mat. Uso had a bad landing and seemed to hurt his leg. Kingston hit a crossbody onto Uso.
Kingston and Uso climbed to the top. Kingston pushed Uso down, but Morrison cut him off. Morrison and Uso traded strikes in the middle of the ring. Kingston springboarded through the ladder, but Morrison and Uso caught him. They tossed Kingston out of the ring.
Morrison took down all the ladders and wedged one in the corner. Morrison attacked Usos leg with the ladder.
Morrison placed Uso on the ladder, wedged in the corner, and hit a twisting senton. Morrison slowly climbed up the ladder, but Kingston caught him with a springboard hurricanrana off the ladder. Kingston then hit a dive over the top rope to the floor.
Uso ran along the top of the barricade, but Kingston tossed a ladder at him. Kingston wedged a ladder between the apron and barricade. Kingston placed Uso on the ladder, but Morrison climbed to the top turnbuckle. Kingston cut him off and climbed to the opposite turnbuckle. In a crazy spot, Morrison did a tight rope walk to Kingston's corner and hit a Spanish fly into the ring. Uso followed up with a splash.
Uso tried climbing up the ladder, but Kingston climbed up inside the ladder and knocked him off. Kingston and Morrison fought on the top of the ladder, but Kingston knocked him off. Kingston hit a standing double foot stomp off the ladder on to Morrison.
They wedged a ladder between a ladder in the ring and the ropes. Morrison leaped off the ladder, but Uso rocked him with a superkick. Uso set up a second ladder and climbed to the top, but Morrison shoved him off the ladder to the floor.
Morrison climbed to the top and seemed to have the watch won, but Kingston cut him off. Kingston and Morrison fought on the top of the ladder. Uso recovered and brought in a second ladder.
All three fought on the top of the ladders. They all pulled down the titles, but Morrison fell and pulled the titles down with him to retain. They had a good ladder match, considering the situation. It featured a lot of spectacular and innovative spots, but having no crowd hurt the match.
Kevin Owens defeated Seth Rollins
Owens and Rollins brawled around ringside to start the match. Owens hit a hard clothesline and senton. Owens followed up with a second senton and attempted the cannonball, but Rollins rolled out of the ring.
Owens threw Rollins into the barricade at ringside. Owens attempted a piledriver on the apron, but Rollins countered with a backdrop. Rollins then hit a falcon arrow on the apron. He followed up with two suicide dives. Rollins attempted a third suicide dive, but Owens caught him with a right hand.
Rollins fought back and hit the sling blade. He went for the stomp, but Owens rolled him up. Rollins attempted the stomp again, but Owens hit a DDT. Owens hit a superkick and followed up with the cannonball in the corner. Owens hit a senton for a very close near fall.
Rollins avoided a stunner and hit a kick to the head. Owens bounced off the ropes and rocked Rollins with a clothesline. Owens attempted a superplex, but Rollins poked him in the eyes.
Rollins hit a buckle bomb and followed up with two superkicks. Rollins attempted the stomp, but Owens countered into a pop-up powerbomb for a close near fall. Rollins ran outside to get away from Owens. Rollins grabbed the ring bell and hit Owens for the disqualification.
Owens grabbed the mic and demanded Rollins get back in the ring to finish it. Owens wanted no disqualification and no rules. Rollins agreed, and the referee ordered the match to restart.
The match restarted, and Rollins caught Owens with a knee. He threw Owens into the barricade and pointed out he can do whatever he wants. Rollins picked up the steps and nailed Owens in the head. Rollins grabbed a chair and beat down Owens.
Rollins cleared the announce table, but Owens rocked him with the ring bell. Owens then left the ringside area and climbed to the top of the WrestleMania sign. Owens leaped off the sign and landed on Rollins.
In the ring, Rollins begged off, but Owens hit the stunner for the win.
The Gronk and Mojo Rawley talked about WrestleMania when the 24/7 Champion R-Truth interrupted. He asked them to hide him. The Gronk and Rawley attacked Truth. Gronk tried to pin Truth, but Rawley pulled him off and pinned Truth to win the title.
In the back, Paul Heyman interrupted Kayla Braxton. She noted he scared her, but Heyman said the only person that should be scared is Drew McIntyre. Heyman promised that Brock Lesnar would defeat McIntyre tomorrow night.
Tom Phillips and Byron Saxton ran down the line up for night two tomorrow.
Braun Strowman defeated Goldberg To Win The Universal Championship
Goldberg and Strowman got the special ring introductions for their match.
Goldberg and Strowman had a staredown in the middle of the ring. Strowman attempted a power slam, but Goldberg hit the spear. He followed up with two more spears but only scored a near fall.
Goldberg hit a fourth spear and attempted the jackhammer, but Strowman countered into a power slam. He followed up with two more power slams. Strowman then hit a running power slam to win the Universal title.
Boneyard Match: The Undertaker defeated AJ Styles
The match took place at a graveyard without commentary. The match started interesting but went a bit long. It was similar to the old Broken Matt Hardy matches from TNA.
There were shots of various tombstones. The Undertaker's music played as a hearse pulled into the graveyard. Two druids pulled out a casket, but AJ Styles was in the casket. He was wearing jeans and a t-shirt. Styles called for The Undertaker to show up.
Undertaker drove into the graveyard on his motorcycle.
Styles tried to hit Undertaker with a rock, but Taker cut him off. Styles tried to get away as Undertaker called him Allen. Taker smashed Styles into the casket repeatedly.
Undertaker missed Styles, and his hand went through the window of the hearse. Styles fought back, but Taker recovered and dropped him on the windshield off the hearse.
Styles climbed to the top of the hearse, but Undertaker continued the beat down. He warned Styles never to mention his wife Michelle McCool again.
Styles threw dirt in Taker's eyes and took over. He followed up with a low blow.
They traded hard shots with Taker getting the better of Styles. He dropped Styles into the grave when Karl Anderson and Doc Gallows showed up.
Taker walked towards Gallows and Anderson when a bunch of druids appeared. The druids surrounded him, and he quickly fought them off. Anderson and Gallows jumped Taker and beat him down. Undertaker fought back and beat them down with a shovel.
Styles recovered and broke a headstone over Taker's back. Styles mounted Taker and rocked him with punches, but Styles broke his fingers. Styles charged at Taker, and they crashed threw a wall. Styles taunted Taker, so he flipped off Styles. Styles rocked him with another right hand.
Styles broke a shovel over Taker's back, and he fell into the grave. Styles got into the forklift to bury Taker, but he appeared behind Styles somehow. Undertaker took back over and beat down Styles.
Styles ran and climbed up a ladder to get to the top of a building. Taker raised his arms, and flames appeared. Taker beat down all three members of The O.C. He threw Gallows off the building and gave Anderson the Tombstone.
Styles tried fighting back, but Taker choke slammed him off the top of the building. Menacing music played as Taker approached a fallen Styles. He asked Styles if he remembered his wife's name or if he's too old. He told Styles to hold on because they're just getting started.
Undertaker picked up Styles and carried him to the grave. He noted Styles is a lot tougher than he thought. Styles tried apologizing and begged Taker not to bury him. Taker teased walking away, but he kicked Styles into the grave instead. Taker got in the forklift and buried Styles in the grave to win the match.
Undertaker walked pass the grave to reveal Styles headstone. Styles' hand was sticking out of the grave. Taker put his bandana back on and sat on his motorcycle. Taker raised his hand, and the flames appeared again. Taker then drove off on his bike to end night one of WrestleMania 36.