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Wednesday, June 3, 2020

WWE WrestleMania 36 results, recap, notes: huge title changes, epic special matches on a unique show in 2020

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The unique, unforeseen and uncertain circumstances of WrestleMania 36 prerecorded from the empty WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, left fans with no idea what to expect from the event, as it started on Saturday night and continued until Sunday. As WWE decides to move forward after moving the show from Raymond James Stadium to Tampa amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s fair to say that WWE’s biggest show of the year exceeded all reasonable expectations with a mix of high-quality ring action and two of the most bizarre – but entertaining – games in WWE history.

The last game of the two nights was marked by a major change of guard for the promotion, Drew McIntyre winning a categorical victory over Brock Lesnar after four Claymores to win the WWE Championship. McIntyre joined Braun Strowman as men to leave the weekend with the company’s biggest titles after Strowman quickly worked Goldberg the first night to win the world championship.

But the two games that will likely define the legacy of WrestleMania 36 were cinematic experiences unlike anything that has been done in WWE history. The first night, The Undertaker met AJ Styles in a Boneyard match, which took place as the defining piece of an action move in a distant cemetery. Night 2 took things a notch with “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt winning a Firefly FunHouse match against John Cena in what was more a dream of artistic fever than a professional wrestling contest. The matches took full advantage of the bizarre circumstances in which WWE had to organize the show, operating outside the standard WWE “universe” and taking things in directions never used before.

Check out the full WrestleMania 36 results below with the matches segmented by the night they took place. This story will be updated shortly with the highlights from the Orlando weekend games.

WWE WrestleMania 36 results

Night 1 (Saturday)

Cesaro vs. Drew Gulak (Kickoff Show): The two had a solid but short game. Gulak came out flaming and went on the offensive at Cesaro before throwing him twice in the ring steps. An attempt to get fresh air was countered by a European Cesaro uppercut who turned the tide, eventually leading to the finish, a bare-handed plane shot in slam by Cesaro. Too short to be good, too well executed to be bad. Cesaro beats. Gulak via pinfall – Grade: C

Women’s Tag Team Championship – The Kabuki Warriors (c) vs. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross: A surprisingly hard-hitting match between the four contestants opened the show with a few big points throughout. Cross had to make his way through a late double team that included Asuka and Kairi Sane hitting a combination of powerbomb and diving forearm before getting the tag for Bliss. From there, Bliss hit his second Twisted Bliss of the match, pinning Sane and winning the titles in the process. This is the second time that the duo has held the titles. Bliss & Cross def. Kabuki Warriors via pinfall to win the titles – Grade: B-

King Corbin against Elias: Corbin was first in the ring, demanding that he be forfeited after his assault on Elias eight days ago. Elias went to the ring, shocking Corbin before exploding him with his guitar. Corbin rallied to hit Elias while demanding that Michael Cole and JBL comment on how well he did. Corbin attempted to use the ropes to take advantage of a late spindle, being caught by the referee during the process. While protesting, Elias scored a roll-up while holding on the tights to secure victory in a game that seemed a bit too long for the mix of styles. Elias def. Corbin via pinfall – Grade: C-

Gross Women’s Championship – Becky Lynch (c) against Shayna Baszler: Lynch and Baszler organized a match heavy with strikes and submission attempts, giving the feeling more of a fight than a wrestling match. It was for the best when it came to Baszler’s best attributes, as she spent a large part of the match strongly offending the champion. Lynch was forced to repeatedly counter Baszler’s attempts to lock the Kirifuda clutch. In the end, it was one of those counters that won the Lynch victory. Bringing back a classic Bret Hart finish against Roddy Piper at WrestleMania XIII, Lynch backed down to pin Baszler’s shoulders to the mat for the final victory. Lynch came out of the game with a solid appearance, but Baszler, losing his first title shot, must give anyone who thinks he was a surefire star off the main list a break. Lynch def. Baszler via pinfall to keep the title – Grade: B-

Intercontinental Championship – Sami Zayn (c) against Daniel Bryan: The story of the match was almost entirely Zayn begging Drew Gulak to let him go, avoiding contact at all costs. Bryan finally managed to trap Zayn in a wrestling match, which he almost completely dominated. Zayn begged Bryan to stop before Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro caused a distraction. After Bryan hit Nakamura and Cesaro with a suicide plunge, he went to the top rope but was caught by a Helluva kick from Zayn, leading to final victory and a successful title defense. The match told a very good story online with the last few weeks of action, but there is a certain sense of disappointment that Zayn and Bryan couldn’t get out and play the match they are capable of with their skill elite. Zayn def. Bryan via pinfall to keep the title – Grade: B

SmackDown Tag Team Championship – John Morrison (c) against Kofi Kingston against Jimmy Uso (ladder match): It was the match that stole the show for night 1. Without a crowd to help create great moments, there was a good chance of disappointment in the fight, but the three men fought at a breakneck pace in the match in single for tag titles. The expected large bumps were exposed, the men being thrown from the ladders, on the ladders and outwards. Morrison in particular struck an impressive parkour movement from the top of the post on Uso, who was on a raised ladder between the turnbuckles. The end of the match came when the three men held the title rigging while Uso picked him up from the cable hanging him from the ceiling. While competing for the belts, Morrison was knocked down from the top of the ladder, pulling the belts with him to win and keep the championships for his team. Morrison beats. Kingston and Uso to retain titles – Grade: B +

24/7 Championship: As Rob Gronkowski and Mojo Rawley celebrated at the top of the pole in the middle of the show, R-Truth jumped into the frame. Gronk tried to hit and pin Truth, but Rawley pulled the former Patriots star out and got the 1-2-3. Rawley def. R-Truth and Gronkowski to win the title

Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins: Rollins took control of the first game with a cheap shot before the two fought back and forth with tons of counters and rollovers that would have thrilled the crowd if one were there. Rollins, seeking the easy way out, used the bell to strike Owens, leading the referee to cancel the match and award the victory to Owens by disqualification. Owens then called Rollins, saying that he couldn’t have ended things so easily and demanding that they continue without disqualification. Rollins nodded, returning to continue the attack on Owens, taunting, “Did you say you wanted your WrestleMania moment ?!” Owens finally used the same ring to resume the game before diving from the WrestleMania panel and driving Rollins across the announcement table with a sentry. After that, it only took Owens a moment to train Rollins in the ring, hit a stunner and take the win. The absence of a crowd added a bit to this match with the two men constantly talking to each other and this added wickedness to the fight that he might have missed otherwise. Owens def. Rollins via pinfall – Grade: B +

Universal Championship – Goldberg (c) against Braun Strowman: A quick match, as expected, and which could very well have used a reaction from the crowd. Goldberg hit four spears, but his big hammer attempt on the big man was thwarted in a powerslam. Strowman would hit three more powers before scoring the pin to become a universal champion in a very flat sprint. Strowman def. Goldberg via pinfall to win the title – Grade: D +

The Undertaker vs AJ Styles (Match Boneyard): It was, as expected, a WWE “cinematic experience”. An elaborate hearse entry to the cemetery was a deviation with styles revealed as in a coffin at the back. Undertaker arrived for the “match” on a motorcycle with Metallica playing on video. The match turned into a brawl from the cemetery to a barn-top barn with Taker battling Styles, Karl Anderson and Luke Gallows – as well as hooded “druids”. At one point, Styles had Taker in an open grave before Taker somehow materialized behind him. From that moment on, everything was Undertaker, as he brutalized Styles before throwing him out of the barn roof. Styles tried to apologize and begged Taker not to bury him. Taker said he wouldn’t do it because of the fight Styles fought before hitting him in the grave and using a tractor to fill the grave, winning the first WWE boneyard match. The experience was campy, cheesy and incredibly entertaining. It wasn’t a wrestling match in a traditional sense, but it was as well done as anything that involved Undertaker could be in 2020 and on entertainment alone it was a success. Undertaker def. Styles via burial – Grade: A

Night 2 (Sunday)

Liv Morgan vs. Natalya (Kickoff Show): Natalya is a firm hand in the ring, and Morgan was more than capable of holding out. Natalya’s attempt to lock the sniper was countered by a pin attempt. That moment unleashed a chain of reversals, ending when Morgan scored the cross-legged roll-up for victory. The match was a little more substantial than the early evening match between Cesaro and Drew Gulak. Liv Morgan beats. Natalya via pinfall – Grade: C +

NXT Women’s Championship – Rhea Ripley (c) against Charlotte Flair: The first game of the second night delivered a big performance. The women struggled for nearly 30 minutes with convincing near falls for both. Ripley hit Riptide very early in the game but couldn’t make it 1-2-3, allowing Flair to go back with an all-out attack on the champion’s leg. Ripley fought Flair’s figure eight, figure eight, several times during the fight, returning again and again. Ripley also locked Flair in his inverted Cloverleaf standing bid, but was unable to remove the valve. Finally, the accumulated damage to Ripley’s leg caught up with her and Flair was able to lock in the submission, fully relieving the additional pressure to force Ripley to take advantage and win the title. The two women deserve tremendous credit for hosting a dramatic game at a perfect pace to overcome the obvious obstacle of lack of crowds. It was one of the most significant fights of the weekend. Flair def. Ripley via submission to win the title – Grade: A-

Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley: The match was unlucky enough to follow Flair against Ripley, but the two men went to great lengths. Black struggled with Lashley’s power early, taking a belly-to-belly suplex outside. Black finally took over with his striking game. After Lana convinced Lashley to stop trying to tire Blacks out and finish him off, Lashley ran for a spear that Black countered with a kick from Black Mass to score the victory. These are precious matches for Black, who has shown an ability to hang on with a “big man” on the main list. Def. Black Lashley via pinfall – Grade: B-

Otis against Dolph Ziggler: The match suffered somewhat from the impression that it was punctuated by a live audience. A spot of Chinlock Ziggler felt like it had dragged because there was no crowd to lead the rally. Sonya Deville was in the corner of Ziggler after the duo was revealed to be responsible for the ruin of Otis’ Valentine’s date with Mandy Rose. Deville’s late interference – she distracted the referee and allowed Ziggler to strike a low blow on Otis – was countered when Rose’s music struck and she ran to slap Deville and hit him low to Ziggler. With Ziggler on the ground, Otis hit the Caterpillar on behalf of three. While celebrating with Rose after his victory, Otis had the ultimate WrestleMania moment, lifting Rose in his arms and kissing her while carrying her on the back. Otis def. Ziggler via pinfall – Grade: C +

Edge vs. Randy Orton (Last Man Standing): Edge and Orton crawled all over the PC throughout the match. However, Orton attacked Edge with an RKO before the game and seconds after the opening bell before the two engaged in an extremely long fight through the building. The match revolved mainly around punches and kicks, the two men being thrown in various equipment in the sports hall, the office and a storage area. An Edge signature spot was an elbow hanging from the ceiling of the conference room. When Edge continued to rise from Orton’s attacks, the two found themselves at the top of a semi-final. Orton was ready to strike a counter president, recalling his attack on the Raw after the Royal Rumble. Edge sidestepped the chair, enclosing Orton in an arm-triangle choke, apparently winning. However, he prevented the arbitrator from counting down before giving himself up to the co-chair. An emotional advantage claimed victory in his first singles match since returning ten seconds later. The match did not have the level of violence it needed until the very end and was far too ambitious in terms of scope and duration to keep what was promised, resulting in a high level of disappointment. Edge def. Orton via 10 units – Grade: C-

Between games, Mojo Rawley fled behind the scenes, trying to escape the championship opponents 24/7. It was then that Rob Gronkowski jumped on the crowd of wrestlers from the Perch. After the dive, Gronkowski beats. Rawley via Pinfall to win the 24/7 championship

Raw Tag Team Championship – The Street Profits (c) against Angel Garza & Austin Theory: The match was fairly short, as expected after Orton’s duration against Edge. The theory had Angelo Dawkins down after a TKO and was looking for the spit when Mount Ford came out of the top rope with a frog splash, allowing Dawkins to roll and mark the fall. Theory and Garza attacked the champions after the match with Zelina Vega joining the shots. At that point, Bianca Belair made a shocking run to make the save, hitting Vega in the process. It was pretty solid for a short title match, but Belair’s involvement is making things more interesting in the weeks to come. Def Street Profits Garza & Theory via pinfall to keep the titles – Grade: C +

SmackDown Women’s Championship – Bayley (c) against Sasha Banks against Lacey Evans against Tamina against Naomi: At the start of the match, the four women attempted to defeat Tamina, seeking to eliminate the power plant. Despite Tamina’s significant efforts, the women finally piled on top of her to score the first elimination in the match. Naomi was the next woman out when the numbers game from Bayley and Banks caught up to her. With Evans’ last three, Bayley and Banks, Evans managed to fight the double team’s efforts to eliminate Banks with a female right while bickering with the champion. The banks still help his friend at the end, returning in the game to hit the Backstabber and set Evans up for the pin, allowing Bayley to keep his title. The match was as good as one would expect from the pool and its placement on the map between the most high profile matches on the map. Bayley def. Evans via pinfall to keep the title – Grade: B-

John Cena vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt (Firefly FunHouse Match): The match is impossible to do justice in writing. Rather than any kind of wrestling contest – even in the context of Boneyard’s night game – it was a waking nightmare for Cena, who, according to Wyatt, would face himself. The two have crossed various points in the history of wrestling and the eras of Cena’s career. After Wyatt made his point about Cena – that legend had been a privileged bully who had endless career opportunities when Wyatt had to work for everything he had accomplished – “The Fiend” appeared behind Cena, enclosing her in a Claw mandible. The demon led Cena to the mat with the take and the other Wyatt character counted all three for the win. As stated earlier, there is no fair way to write about this match in a small presentation, but it was a bizarre and effective way to do something very unique in the history of professional wrestling. and bordered by real art more than anything WWE has ever achieved. . The Fiend def. Cena via pinfall counted by Wyatt – Grade: A +

WWE Championship – Brock Lesnar (c) against Drew McIntyre: The match was as short and impactful as expected. McIntyre struck a Claymore early for a near fall before Lesnar returned with an F5. McIntyre came out of the first F5 to one. After a second F5, it came out at two o’clock. And again, after a third F5, Lesnar only got a count of two. His lawyer, Paul Heyman, implored Lesnar to keep hitting the ball, saying, “He can’t keep kicking.” Lesnar raised McIntyre again. The challenger slipped from Lesnar’s shoulders and lambasted the champion with a Claymore. After two more, Lesnar was knocked down, allowing McIntyre to drop dead and become the new WWE Champion. The moment missed the punch of a triumph in front of tens of thousands of fans, but whenever Lesnar goes down clean feels like a significant piece of the history of modern wrestling and McIntyre now has the opportunity to be “the man” after a long journey upwards. McIntyre beats. Brock Lesnar (c) via pinfall to win the title – Grade: B

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