2020 WWE Wrestlemania 36 Review Night 1: Full Results As The Undertaker Takes AJ Styles To The Boneyard
It’s finally time. Wrestlemania 36 is here and, for the first time ever, it's taking place over two consecutive nights without the benefit of a live audience. Of course, that's not stopping WWE from pulling out all the stops for their biggest annual pay-per-view event.
At current, there are 16 matches scheduled for Wrestlemania 36, which likely means each night will get eight different matches. There's also the distinct possibility of an extra bout or two being added to the card, perhaps during the pre-show.
As for what to expect from the event, there are several high-profile bouts that will no doubt be looking to steal the show. From Edge's in-ring return against Randy Orton to John Cena facing “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt in a Firefly Funhouse match, whatever that is, this is going to be a very interesting pair of shows.
You're able to catch all of the action on the WWE Network beginning with the Wrestlemania 36 pre-show that kicks off at 6 PM ET/3 PM PT on Saturday, April 4. You can also keep tabs on everything that happens on the big show over both nights right here, as GameSpot's Wrestle Buddies Mat Elfring and Chris E. Hayner review every match as it happens.
Take a look at the card for the two-night event below and get ready for so much wrestling.
Wrestlemania 36 match card:
- Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley
- Elias vs. King Corbin
- Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler
- John Cena vs. The Fiend (Firefly Funhouse Match)
- The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles (Boneyard Match)
- Edge vs. Randy Orton (Last Man Standing)
- Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
- Street Profits (c) vs. Angel Garza & Austin Theory (Raw Tag Team Championship)
- The Miz & John Morrison (c) vs. The Usos vs. The New Day (Triple Thread Ladder Match for Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
- The Kabuki Warriors (c) vs. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross (Women's Tag Team Championships)
- Sami Zayn (c) vs. Daniel Bryan (Intercontinental Championship)
- Bayley (c) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Lacey Evans vs. Tamina vs. Naomi (5-Way Elimination Match for Smackdown Women's Championship)
- Becky Lynch (c) vs. Shayna Baszler (Raw Women's Championship)
- Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair (NXT Women's Championship)
- Goldberg (c) vs. TBD (Universal Championship)
- Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Drew McIntyre (WWE Championship)
1. Drew Gulak vs. Cesaro
Winner: Cesaro via pinfall
Mat: Let's kick this off with a wrestling match! Wait. The entire show is filled with those. It's so weird to see this take place at the PC--featuring a gigantic fan on the ceiling--with no audience. I know we're already a bit accustomed to it because of Raw and Smackdown, but it's still weird. Cesaro's no-hands airplane spin was a delight. It seemed like Cesaro screwed up his right forearm though, and that may be the reason why this match ended so abruptly. Building towards that end was fine. It was enjoyable, but it didn't blow me away. It's a bit of a weak start to the show. That match should have been a lot better.
Chris: There are already so many matches set for this show, I don't know that we needed yet another one. However, I'm never going to be upset about watching Cesaro and Drew Gulak wrestle because they're two of the best WWE has. Honestly, everything about this show is going to feel less than and that starts with this match. The stage configuration hasn't changed from Raw or Smackdown, and the lack of an audience is even more evident when it's Wrestlemania, as opposed to segments on Raw or Smackdown. Given that WWE has access to a ring surrounded by a green screen in the Performance Center, I'm disappointed they didn't get overly creative with their presentation here. That said, they're making the most with what they've got.
As for this match, it was a good quality bout, albeit a short one. Still, the lack of audience reaction and the extravagance that typically comes with a Wrestlemania seriously hurts this opener.
2. The Kabuki Warriors (c) vs. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross (Women's Tag Team Championships)
Winners: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross via pinfall
Mat: Right off the bat, these four wrestlers are already bringing a lot of energy to the match, compared to Gulak/Cesaro. Everyone is turned up to 11, and I love it. Yes, Asuka and Kairi, I love it when you both just start yelling at random moments. It works so well for matches like this.
While the Women's Tag Team Championships may be underutilized and at times, and often feel like they don't matter at all, it's undeniable that everyone in this match is performing at a top level. The back and forth between them all and the way these teams work together is what tag team wrestling is all about.
I have completely forgotten about the fact there is no audience, no chanting, no cheers or boos. This may be the first time for these empty arena shows where I am utterly engrossed with the in-ring action. Everyone gets a moment to shine, and this match from start to finish is a blast. And we got to see a title change to a duo that is more than worthy of holding the titles. I want this feud to continue because it works so well.
Chris: Not even a pandemic can make WWE stop using the weird giant CGI additions to ring entrances. Honestly, though, they help here. The massive Asuka masks hovering at ringside add a splash of weird fun to the Kabuki Warriors entrance. In situations like this, I'm all for WWE leaning into the strange.
Honestly, I'm not sure you could find a more entertaining quartet of wrestlers on WWE's roster at this point, and they're all very fun to watch together. Asuka and Kairi Sane have really found their sweet spot as incredibly loud feels, while the Bliss and Cross friendship is still engaging to me. What's more, they're all incredibly talented in the ring.
This is the kind of action we should be getting weekly surrounding the Women's Tag Team Championships, but sadly we just don't. All four of these women got to shine with their signature offense, and without a crowd there, the charisma was turned up even more leading to a truly fun and exciting bout. Plus, Alexa and Nikki won the titles, which is a fun way to kick off the show. That said, the Kabuki Warriors are too awesome to split up now, so hopefully, they come for a rematch and we get to see this bout again, maybe even on a bigger stage next time.
I mean this sincerely: I wish the rest of the show luck in following this bout. These four knew exactly how to play within the confines they were given and make it seem even bigger and better.
3. Elias vs. King Corbin
Winner: Elias via pinfall
Mat: After seeing the over-produced, tele-novella-esque segments between these too, I was hoping for more of the same--on the same level as Lucha Underground's stuff in the past. However, it's not what we got at all, and I set my expectations too high. We got a sweet guitar shot before the match started but that's the only highlight. This is very much a wrestling match; nothing more, nothing less. I'm sure an audience reaction would have boosted the enjoyment of this, but it's fine. Elias wins due to a rollup in a bland finish for an overall bland match.
Chris: This feud, for my money, wasn't that entertaining even when there were people in the live audience. It's not that these men can't deliver. Instead, it's more that WWE hasn't given us a reason to take them seriously. Corbin is the fake king, Elias is the guy with the guitar--that's it. As for this match, honestly, it's a shame they're following the Women's Tag Team Championships match because there's no way they can match the excitement. There's really nothing fun about this bout, other than watching Corbin and the referee yell at each other. This watch drained the energy I'd built up from the opener and ended with a simple rollup. Given the circumstances we're in, they should have gotten creative here.
4. Becky Lynch (c) vs. Shayna Baszler (Raw Women's Championship)
Winner: Becky Lynch via pinfall
Mat: If there's one thing bad thing I'll say about this match, it's that the commentary team was lackluster during this. There were lots of awkward lulls. Anyway, as for the actual match, the women of WWE are killing it this year. This match was a brilliant continuation of the rivalry between the two. It was very much a greatest hits of the battles between the two. We saw the two trying to get the one-up on the other through various submissions, Baszler repeated some of her various, brutal maneuvers we saw at Elimination Chamber, and it was fists to bodies the entire time. This is what you want out of the match, considering the storyline.
The finish was a bit out of nowhere, and the match didn't even last nine minutes, but it was satisfying. I really hope this feud continues into Summerslam, so that both these wrestlers can put on a larger-scale, longer match in front of a full audience. Regardless, we got probably the best match we could have gotten considering the circumstances.
Chris: This is exactly the kind of match I wanted from these two: a totally brutal contest full of hard slams, unforgiving hits, and vicious submission moves. Becky and Shayna make you believe their characters hate each other and will do anything to hurt one another and walk out with the Raw Women's Championship.
Whereas the Women's Tag Team Championship match leaned into the absurdity of the situation, this is simply an all-out brawl and it completely works, with or without an audience at ringside. What's more, this being the first real match between Shayna and Becky makes them up their respective games. We haven't seen this kind of fire in Becky for some time, and the same goes for Shayna, who outgrew NXT some time ago.
I'm honestly shocked Becky walked away with the win here. That said, I love how it played out with her essentially using Shayna's own move against her. It gives room for Shayna to be determined to come back even stronger and more vicious, while giving Becky another victory to lord over the rest of the roster. Kudos on this booking.
5. Sami Zayn (c) vs. Daniel Bryan (Intercontinental Championship)
Winner: Samy Zayn via pinfall
Mat: Why do we have to hear Gronk and Mojo yell during this match? I don't want to hear that. Why are they there? This match doesn't need any hype men.
Sami begging Bryan not to hurt him is awesome. It's nice to get a good laugh in during this match, which has too many elements of ridiculous in the mix. I mean, it's pretty much already a Lumberjack Match considering how many people are on the outside of the ring. I love a good cowardly heel, and Sami is the perfect example of it right now.
I'm actually extremely surprised Zayn ended up retaining. He hasn't really been portrayed as a wrestler that can win on his own, and with his teammates out of action during the latter parts of the match, Zayn beating Bryan was unexpected. However, it was a nice way to make Zayn look like a legitimate champion. I'm really pleased with the match and the finish.
Chris: I agree with Mat. Gronk screaming things isn't great. That said, this is a pretty fun match. Zayn has really found himself as a heel, while Bryan is firing on all cylinders in his new old role. I'm not happy about the return of the "Yes movement," but Bryan seems to be having fun and, in doing so, is elevating Drew Gulak. So I'll take it.
Sami was endlessly entertaining here with his over-the-top trash talk and begging, while Bryan upped his own charisma for this crowd-less fight. All told, this was a short and entertaining match with the right person winning.
6. John Morrison (c) vs. Jimmy Uso vs. Kofi Kingston (Triple Threat Ladder Match for Smackdown Tag Team Championships)
Winner: John Morrison
Mat: Understandably, this is a weird situation. The Miz is out, but the match is still happening with just one member from each team. No, it doesn't make sense to have the tag titles defended by one person, but that's just where we are at.
Regardless, you couldn't ask for three better people to have in a ladder match. All three can work exclusively as high-flyers, which is needed in a bout like this. Secondly, you have an Uso working with someone from the New Day, and these guys work exceptionally well together and know how to put on an entertaining match. However, a big part of ladder matches is hearing the crowd's anticipation and build towards wild spots. We don't get that, so there are weird lulls where someone climbs a ladder or turnbuckle and there is nothing but silence. It really took me out of the match.
This match was a circus. There were tons of great spots--again, they all felt a tad awkward. The finish was… well… not great. A part of me wanted Kofi and Jimmy to get them, where they'd have to become tag champs together--outside of their normal groups. Instead, we got a weird spot where everyone had the belts, then Morrison accidentally got them both. Just a straight up lousy finish for a good match.
Chris: I might use my entire review for this match to talk about how much I miss heels using the thumb to the eye to take out their opponents. Morrison pulled that trick out of his bag in this match, and it was the right amount of old school heel to include.
As far as this ladder match goes, something is definitely lost in translation when there's not an audience reacting to the major spots. Instead of being awe-inspiring, they're rather underwhelming. What's more, it's eerily quiet when the wrestlers take a well-deserved breather. Ultimately, this match was filled with some pretty incredible moves that likely will not be remembered because they played to an audience of none. There's also the fact that there are no tag teams in this Tag Team Championship match.
Now let's talk about that finish. It was terrible. The very least they could have done is give someone a decisive victory, as opposed to just having Morrison won because he fell down at the right time.
7. Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
Winner: Kevin Owens via pinfall
Mat: Seth Rollins, for me, is a guy who works best as a heel, so he's currently in a spot where I'm pretty invested in what's going on with him. Kevin Owens, on the other hand, always works, no matter what situation he's placed in with his character.
The original DQ finish was actually fine for me, personally. It felt a bit anticlimactic, but whatever. Where I found this match to be disappointing is the fact it was restarted as a no DQ match afterwards. Why couldn't have it been that way from the start? It would have made perfect sense from the getgo considering the the feud between the two men. Regardless, the match had a lot of great moments, and it will continue this rivalry, which I've been enjoying.
Chris: What an odd match. Had this match ended in the disqualification like it almost did, it would have been the moment Night 1 jumped the shark for me. There's arguably no longer build-up to anything on this show than Rollins vs. Owens. That wasn't the end, though. Instead, Owens then demanded the match be restarted as a no DQ match. Why not just book it as such from the beginning?
These two worked insanely hard and it showed. And neither of them were afraid to pull out all the stops once the no DQ rule took effect, including Owens taking a massive dive off of the Wrestlemania sign (That's a first), to put Rolling through a table. He followed it with the stunner and a pin to finally get his Wrestlemania moment. Kudos to both of these guys.
8. Goldberg (c) vs. Braun Strowman (Universal Championship)
Winner: Braun Strowman via pinfall
Mat: Hey, at least a full-timer has the belt again… Did we actually really expect an excellent match based on the competitors? Goldberg doesn't put on long, exciting matches. I have nothing else to say about this.
Chris: I just...I get that WWE had to scramble once Roman Reigns pulled out of the match, but there were exactly two moves in this match--the spear and the powerslam. What a disappointment of a title match that has no place on a Wrestlemania card. Congrats Braun, I guess.
9. The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles (Boneyard Match)
Winner: The Undertaker via burying AJ Styles
Mat: What is a Boneyard match? I asked AJ Styles earlier this week, and got a non-definitive answer. It kicked off with Styles popping out of a casket, and that was unintentionally hilarious. This whole event is bonkers, and I love it. Unlike past matches that tried to do this (Wyatt Family Compound and the House of Horrors), it seems like WWE took notes from the Wyatt/Hardy Ultimate Deletion match. This is wonderfully over-produced, silly, epic, and exactly what I wanted.
This was better than I expected it to be. It's exceptionally over-dramatic, and felt like I was watching a segment from Lucha Underground. While the two didn't use wrestling holds and moves to tell the story, they did so with dialogue and overcoming odds. I almost don't want to explain to much to this match. It's great storytelling, and it is a must watch for WWE fans. I do really want to thank Matt Hardy for introducing this kind of storytelling in wrestling with Final Deletion because without that, I don't think this insanity would have been possible.
Chris: Underbiker rides again and literally nothing else matters. Honestly, I would have loved more bouts like this for Wrestlemania, given the circumstances. It played like a movie, down to the creepy score and extensive fight choreography.
This is the kind of stuff WWE can put together in a pinch, and it shows just how impressive those involved are in putting it together. This isn't a well-wrestled technical bout of a classic in-ring showdown. It's a bloody brawl that looks unlike anything else you've seen in WWE for years and it deserves to be the headlining match of Night 1. I will note, though, that the cut on Taker's arm was a scary one, whether it was real or not.
The Boneyard Match, I thought, was going to be silly. Instead, it learned from Lucha Underground and "Broken" Matt Hardy's extravagant matches to create something new and special. It gives me hope for the Firefly Funhouse Match and makes me excited about The Undertaker again--something I haven't been in a few years. I hope he continues showing up on a motorcycle when Metallica music plays.