0 out of 5
As for the surprises, WWE WrestleMania 36 Night 1 delivered them with a shovel.
It was a wild WrestleMania from start to finish, one that managed to pause reality for a few hours and entertain the masses. Given the current circumstances, WWE has done its best to produce the best pay-per-view possible and it can be said that the company has accomplished this.
The event was highlighted by a unique Boneyard match with The Undertaker and AJ Styles where no one knew what to expect. Goldberg also defended his universal championship against Braun Strowman, who was announced at random as the replacement for Roman Reigns at the end of SmackDown on Friday. .
In so many words, WrestleMania 36 Part 1 could easily have gone both ways, but luckily it turned out to be an explosion. The setting of the empty arena was an obvious setback, but otherwise the quality of the match was top notch and there were enough moments for the show to be worth it.
Fans were concerned that the prerecorded nature of the event would spoil spoilers and ruin any remaining excitement they had for The Granddaddy of Them All, but that was not a problem in the end. Since most matches were unpredictable, no one knew what was going to happen next.
There’s still a lot of action to wait for when WrestleMania 36 showcases the rest of its stacked card on Sunday night, but until then, those five first half shocks should be enough to thrill fans.
1 of 5
You had to know that the 24/7 championship was going to be present on pay-per-view in one form or another.
WWE has expressed renewed interest in promoting the championship 24/7 as a more serious title before the start of shows in the empty arena. In recent weeks, the belt has been practically nonexistent on their programming, apart from R-Truth find the gold by Riddick Moss on a sidewalk in an undisclosed location.
Truth did resurface at WrestleMania 36 in a segment with event host Rob Gronkowski and Mojo Rawley, with whom Truth had already contested for the belt earlier this year. The only way it was going to end was that Truth lost the championship, but Gronk seemed to be a more likely option given his celebrity status.
Instead, Rawley pushed Gronk out of the truth and stole the victory for himself before rushing out. No word on what it means for the friendship between Gronk and Rawley, but it was certainly an interesting turn of events, if nothing else.
Rawley has never been booked to look strong as a 24/7 champion, so another race with the title for him doesn’t offer many exciting possibilities. Gronk as WWE champion would have been a sight to behold, but perhaps this moment of mainstream media is being saved.
Say, SummerSlam in Boston?
2 out of 5
When Sami Zayn beat Braun Strowman (albeit fuzzily) for the intercontinental championship in last month’s pay-per-view at the Elimination Chamber, he didn’t have to hold gold very long.
He had been a lifelong loser for most of his heel race since 2017, in addition to being placed as a sidekick for Shinsuke Nakamura until recently. He took center stage on SmackDown and turned out to be a fun foil for Daniel Bryan.
It was at WrestleMania five years ago that Bryan became an Intercontinental champion for the first time. He had to give up the title a month later due to an injury, so it made sense that he regained gold at the same event against a lower opponent five years later.
Bryan and Zayn had a nice encounter, but it was the interference of Nakamura and Cesaro that led Zayn to win and live to fight as an intercontinental champion for another day. His days with the title are certainly numbered, but at least he can say that he managed to defend his precious prize on the biggest stage of all.
He didn’t beat any ordinary schmuck either. Bryan entered WrestleMania last year as a WWE champion, so for The Great Liberator to be able to pretend to defeat him is huge for him and his career.
That said, a rematch is inevitable and Zayn had better watch his back.
3 of 5
WWE was put in a precarious position after Roman Reigns decided to withdraw from WrestleMania 36, it seems just before the show, by Ryan Satin of Professional wrestling record.
While his reason for doing so is completely justified, it left universal champion Goldberg with no opponents for WrestleMania and WWE little time to find a suitable replacement. That said, surely it would have taken more creativity to determine who would face Goldberg instead of announcing Braun Strowman for the place without any explanation.
Despite this, the match went exactly as planned with the two commercial finishers for two minutes. Strowman finally took the win and his first world title in WWE was surprising, if only because it was always intended to be Reigns’ WrestleMania time.
It wouldn’t have been ideal for Goldberg to have held the gold until Reigns returned, as there is no timetable for the length of his absence, but this is the reason why Goldberg defeated Bray. Wyatt for the belt in the first place.
If he was not going to lose the title against Reigns, then the reign of Goldberg can only be considered a waste of time. It doesn’t help that Strowman has suffered a ton of damage from a bad reservation over the years, so winning him gold out of nowhere makes no sense from a historical perspective.
To his credit, the monster among men, from not being on the WrestleMania card at all to the emergence of the event as the new universal champion, is an incredible turnaround.
4 out of 5
This weekend marks a year since Becky Lynch came out of the main WrestleMania 35 event as the first Raw and SmackDown Women champion. All signs indicated his historic reign as the female Raw champion ending almost exactly a year later at WrestleMania 36 against Shayna Baszler, but it was not supposed to be.
Lynch and Baszler have been on a collision course since Baszler arrived on Raw in February and immediately set his sights on The Man. The former NXT female champion then crossed the entire Raw female division with ease at Elimination Chamber and seemed like a shoe to win at WrestleMania.
As seen on Saturday, Lynch managed to outwit Baszler and pin his shoulders on the mat for a count of three.
Anyone who claims that Baszler was “buried” by Lynch must remember that Baszler did not win the NXT women’s championship when she first competed in early 2018. She lost to Ember Moon before reigning supreme in the rematch at NXT TakeOver: New Orleans a few months later.
It seems like this may be where WWE is headed with this story, but that didn’t make the outcome of their clash in Night 1 of WrestleMania 36 less shocking.
Lynch beat almost everyone to beat on Raw’s lineup, so it’s more a matter of timing, not whether Baszler will become champion. There’s always the possibility that Ronda Rousey will return soon to reignite her rivalry with Lynch, but either way, there’s no question The Man is right where she belongs at the top of the food chain after her last successful title defense .
5 out of 5
Let’s face it: Boneyard’s game between The Undertaker and AJ Styles had nothing to do with entertainment.
Undertaker hasn’t had many instant classics since his consecutive fights with Shawn Michaels at the Show of Shows, and AJ Styles hasn’t lit the burning world in the ring lately. Their feud had been fantastic en route to WrestleMania, but it was never explained what a Boneyard match was supposed to involve.
WWE has been wise to take full advantage of the fact that this is a pre-recorded pay-per-view by going the cinematic route with it. Based on reaction it is received on social networks so far, it is safe to say that their unique approach has paid off.
The game is bound to be loved by some and hated by others, but at the very least, the company should be commended for trying something different. Styles was remarkable for his role while Undertaker had without a doubt his best demonstration of WrestleMania in almost a decade.
Making it serve as the main event of ‘Mania was perfect, as it overshadowed almost the rest of the map. Let it be a lesson for WWE that trying something different can have its benefits, as it will be remembered with much more affection for any game they may have had in the ring.
Graham Mirmina, alias Graham “GSM” Matthews, is a former student of Endicott College and a budding journalist. Visit his website, Fight of the next eraand “like” his official Facebook page to continue the conversation on everything related to the fight.