WWE WrestleMania 36 Results: Winners, Grades, Reaction and Highlights from Day 1
After months of buildup, weeks of uncertainty and several changes, WrestleMania 36 has finally arrived. Saturday was Night 1 of the two-day event from the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida.
With everything going on in the world right now, some pro wrestling might provide us with a little break from thinking about serious matters.
This year's show has undergone several amendments in recent weeks: Roman Reigns pulled out of the event, matches have been added and changed on a daily basis, and for the first time, there would be no crowd in attendance.
Let's take a look at each match from the first night of WrestleMania 36. Here is the lineup for Night 1:
- AJ Styles vs. Undertaker
- Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler
- Daniel Bryan vs. Sami Zayn
- Kofi Kingston vs. John Morrison vs. Jimmy Uso
- Elias vs. King Corbin
- Kabuki Warriors vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
- Goldberg vs. Braun Strowman
- Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
Drew Gulak vs. Cesaro
The pre-show featured a singles bout between Drew Gulak and Cesaro.
The former cruiserweight champion came out of the gate hot, but the powerful Cesaro was quick to turn the tables.
These are two men who are known for their technical prowess, so there were plenty of holds, takedowns and counters throughout the fight.
Gulak focused most of his offense on Cesaro's right arm. Despite an onslaught of moves from Gulak, The Swiss Superman picked up the win with a unique airplane spin.
These guys took five minutes and gave us a fun match with a lot of technical offense. Gulak and Cesaro had great chemistry, and it would be great if this feud developed.
It would have been nice to see Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn or Shinsuke Nakamura at ringside to support their respective allies, but this was an enjoyable segment that did not overstay its welcome. If anything, it left us wanting more.
The Kabuki Warriors vs. Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross
After the pre-show was over, Stephanie McMahon gave a special introduction to explain how this year's WrestleMania will be different. She never said the word "coronavirus" but she did acknowledge the situation.
After a pirate-themed intro video package, Rob Gronkowski welcomed us to the show and the team of Alexa Bliss and Nikki Cross made their way out for the first official match of the show. JBL joined Michael Cole to call the action.
Asuka and Bliss started for their teams. The Empress quickly tagged out to Kairi Sane in an attempt to play some mind games. The Goddess did not let it get to her and took down The Pirate Princess.
The champions controlled the majority of the action, but the challengers kept themselves in the fight with bursts of offense.
The final sequence was cleverly edited together from multiple takes to create a feeling of mayhem. Cross and Bliss each hit their finisher on Sane to score the pin and win the women's tag titles.
Cross, Sane and Asuka still did a lot of things they would normally do to get the crowd fired up, which sometimes made for awkward moments during the match. Bliss seemed to adjust the best to performing without a crowd.
Other than that, this was a solid tag team match. Both teams used a lot of double-team tactics and there was a lot of action at ringside.
Asuka and Sane played great heels using dirty tricks to get an advantage. You could tell where WWE made certain edits but it never took us out of the match.
This was better than expected and gave hope that WWE could pull off a good show under the circumstances.
King Corbin vs. Elias
King Corbin tried to claim victory by forfeit after what he did to Elias eight days ago on SmackDown. The singer ended up making his way to the ring and broke his guitar on his opponent's back.
He beat Corbin all around the squared circle before the ref could even call for the bell. Once they got into the ring, Elias continued his onslaught.
The King eventually turned the tide in his favor and slowed the pace down. He talked a lot of trash, which was more audible than usual without fans to drown him out.
They went back and forth, trading counters, power moves and near-falls. Elias ended up getting the victory with a roll-up, much to Corbin's chagrin.
This was one of the least interesting feuds heading into WrestleMania. There were no stakes and their storyline hadn't been going for long.
That being said, Corbin and Elias did a good job. Elias coming out and hitting Corbin with his guitar right away was a smart move to make this feel competitive immediately.
For the third match in a row, WWE has managed to exceed expectations. This could have been a boring disaster but Elias and The King managed to make it competitive.
Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler
By the end of the first hour, Becky Lynch made her way to the ring for her Raw Women's Championship match against Shayna Baszler.
The titleholder arrived in her custom truck while The Queen of Spades had a slightly remixed entrance. The challenger had a confident smile on her face as the champion walked down the ramp.
Instead of locking up, they started throwing lefts and rights immediately. As expected, the MMA expert took control and the fight spilled out of the ring.
They worked a stiff style so all of their strikes landed with a thud. After both women came close to winning several times, Lynch countered Baszler's finisher to get the pin.
Lynch and Baszler started strong and never slowed down. Their early exchange of punches was a surprising start and the intensity did not wane from there.
In a real fight, The Queen of Spades would destroy Lynch. However, they did a good job making this a competitive bout, especially in the first few minutes.
They made plenty of noise but there were a few awkward moments of silence. Other than that, this was a solid performance from the two submission specialists.
A lot of people will be upset Baszler didn't win, but the quality of the match is more important, and this was a good one.
Daniel Bryan vs. Sami Zayn
Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura accompanied Sami Zayn to the ring while Drew Gulak was there to support Daniel Bryan from his corner as he challenged for the intercontinental title.
Zayn kept rolling in and out of the ring to avoid Bryan until The Yes Man tried to chase him. Cesaro and Nakamura kept running interference before Gulak took them out from the apron.
The titleholder was going to let himself be counted out but Bryan chased him down and dragged him back to the ring. He took control and beat The Great Liberator into the mat.
The champion found himself on the receiving end of almost all of Bryan's signature moves until Cesaro and Nakamura returned to take out Gulak. Zayn took advantage of the situation and scored the win to retain his title.
The heel work from Zayn and his cronies was perfect. Bryan and Gulak are a great combination and their chemistry was on full display in and out of the ring.
This was the best-case scenario for this match. Zayn retained his title, Bryan looked like the strong competitor he always is, and the three men around the ring contributed in a big way.
Being able to hear everything they were saying to each other enhanced the experience instead of taking away from it.
Kofi Kingston vs. Jimmy Uso vs. John Morrison
This was a unique Triple Threat as each team had one competitor fighting for the tag titles in a ladder match. It was a first for WWE and everyone involved.
Nobody could get a real advantage until ladders were brought into the ring. Even after John Morrison took control, nobody had the upper hand for long.
These are three men who are all used to competing in matches like this, but they usually have their partners in there with them, especially Jimmy Uso.
All three men took big falls at different points, making the outcome more unpredictable as the match progressed.
Morrison, Uso and Kofi Kingston wound up pulling down the belts at the same time, but The Shaman of Sexy fell off the ladder with the belts in his hand to win for him and the absent Miz.
We have seen almost everything there is to do with a ladder at this point, but these three guys found a few unique spots.
Morrison and Kingston hit a few impressive high-flying moves that would have gotten huge reactions from a live crowd. JoMo's tightrope walk into a Spanish Fly was amazing.
The spot when Uso was pushed off a ladder to the floor was framed so we couldn't see the crash pad he likely landed on and was only obvious if you were looking for it. This was another great performance.
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins entered in some unique ring gear for his showdown with Kevin Owens. He took his Messiah nickname seriously when he chose his white robe.
The early minutes of this match were a brawl. They weren't going for headlock and suplexes, they were trying to hit each other as hard as possible.
This was a good back-and-forth contest that saw Rollins hit KO with the ring bell to get himself disqualified. Owens grabbed a mic and said The Monday Night Messiah had taken the easy way out and challenged him to keep fighting under no-disqualification rules.
Rollins obliged and hit a running knee as soon as he got back to the ring. He used the steel steps and a chair as weapons before KO hit him with the ring bell.
Owens then climbed to the top of the WrestleMania sign and put Rollins through the announce table. He brought him back into the ring for the three-count.
This was a great match, but the pacing was a bit off at times. It may have suffered from a little overediting by the production team.
Still, Owens and Rollins are two of the best and had an enthusiastic exchange. It just didn't feel like it was any different than what we would have seen had this match taken place on Raw until it restarted.
This is another bout that would have benefited from having a few people at ringside to make some noise. KO and Rollins helped by talking trash, and the sound of the bell hitting Owens in the head was kind of funny.
It picked up as it went on and became another good match on an unpredictable show.
Goldberg vs. Braun Strowman
Goldberg countered Braun Strowman's powerslam and hit three Spears in a row for the first near-fall of the match.
As JBL said so eloquently on commentary, these two don't work by the hour.
A fourth Spear set the champion up for the Jackhammer, but The Monster Among Men reversed it and hit three of his trademark powerslams without going for a pin.
However, he hit one final powerslam to get the win and become the new universal champion.
Goldberg is the kind of wrestler who thrives on the crowd, so it was a little strange seeing him in this setting for the first time.
If you expected this match to be anything more than three minutes of finishing moves, that is on you. It was what it was, and Strowman is now the universal champion—two years later than he should have been.
Goldberg did the job for his opponent just like Bray Wyatt had done for him at Super ShowDown for his title win. It all comes full circle.
The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles
After the obligatory video package, we cut to a graveyard to hear The Undertaker's entrance music. A hearse pulled in through the gate and two cloaked individuals pulled a casket out of the back with AJ Styles inside.
He sat up and laughed about having fooled everyone. He called for The Deadman to appear and fight him like a man. That was when Taker rolled up on a motorcycle to reveal he was back as The American Badass.
The Phenomenal One tried to grab a rock as a weapon, but Taker hit him before he had a chance to use it. He dominated the fight for a long time before Styles got in any offense.
Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows showed up with a group of cloaked followers to surround The Deadman. He told them to bring it and took them out one by one until The O.C. ganged up on him.
Styles came out of nowhere to smash a tombstone into Taker's head. As he taunted the veteran, sad music began to play in the background. The Phenomenal One broke a shovel over The Undertaker's back to knock him into an open grave.
As Styles prepared to push a mound of dirt over him from a digger, The Deadman magically appeared behind him. He used some of his supernatural powers to summon a fire before he fighting off The O.C. in its entirety.
Styles tried to apologize to stop the attack and begged The Undertaker not to bury him. The Phenom told him he respected him for fighting his butt off and commended him on giving him such a tough fight before turning around and kicking him into the open grave.
The Deadman ended the match by dumping a pile of dirt onto Styles.
Grade: A+ with extra credit
Not having commentary was the right choice as hearing Michael Cole and JBL call this match would have taken us out of the moment.
This was easily the most unique bout we have seen in a long time: Everything from the presentation to the way they were fighting was different.
This was more like an experimental film than a wrestling match and that worked in its favor. WWE took a lot of inspiration from Matt Hardy's Ultimate Deletion and used it to create something special.
This was the best possible outcome for The Undertaker at this point in his career. WWE did a great job putting this together in a way that made him look better than he has in years.