WrestleMania 36 is happening under unprecedented circumstances. No fans will be in the stands due to the coronavirus pandemic, most of the matches were filmed inside the WWE Performance Center in Orlando, Florida, and the action is spread out over two nights.
But the show goes on. All four top singles titles will be defended, Edge makes his return to action after nine years, and at least two matches will take place in an even more unusual setting: Bray Wyatt and John Cena facing off in a “Firefly Funhouse” match, and AJ Styles walking into The Undertaker’s playground in a “Boneyard” match.
Marc Raimondi and Tim Fiorvanti are breaking down the action as it happens, with ESPN Stats & Information’s Sean Coyle rating each match on his customized scale of 0-5.
Intercontinental championship: Sami Zayn (c) def. Daniel Bryan
After a dominant match by Daniel Bryan, Sami Zayn hit Bryan with a Helluva Kick after Bryan jumped off the top rope. Full recap to come.
Raw women’s championship: Becky Lynch (c) def. Shayna Baszler
With the Kirifuda Clutch locked in, Becky Lynch flipped over Baszler and secured the pin. Full recap to come.
Wait. @QoSBaszler is rattled?
— WWE Universe (@WWEUniverse) April 5, 2020
Elias def. King Corbin
At first it appeared like there would not be a match. Corbin entered and demanded that his hand be raised, because Elias was absent (and presumably injured) following Corbin throwing him off a high balcony last week on SmackDown.
But, of course, Elias was there. His music hit, then he hit Corbin across the back with his guitar. The match commenced.
Elias won with a flash rollup – with a handful of tights – after reversing Corbin’s attempt at a pinfall with his feet on the ropes.
The match was fine for what it was. Both guys worked hard, but it dragged a bit late. They also went to the well too many times with the through-the-turnbuckle-to-the-post spot. After Elias’ initial offense at the beginning, Corbin spent an extended time getting heat on him. Elias’ comeback was halted by some Corbin chicanery and then the dirty pin attempt, which led into the finish.
What’s next: This was kind of filler, which would be fine on most other shows. With this being WrestleMania, the expectations should be higher. On the other hand, WWE has been dealt plenty of unforeseen circumstances. Corbin will likely ascend back to his role as one of the top heels on SmackDown. Elias could use a refresh. He’s better as a heel that people embrace rather than a babyface.
— WWE (@WWE) April 4, 2020
Women’s tag-team championships: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross def. Kabuki Warriors (c)
Asuka, Kairi Sane, Nikki Cross and Alexa Bliss brought a well-paced, high-energy effort that serves as a big reminder of why the women’s tag team championships shouldn’t have been almost entirely cast aside thus far in 2020.
Bliss and Cross walked out of WrestleMania 36 as the new champs, but all four women took full advantage of the showcase opportunity to open the show. From all manner of moves from the top ropes and apron, including somersaults and spinning headscissors, to big combinations, nothing was left on the table.
The longest stretch of the match saw Asuka and Sane isolate Bliss and show off some impressive tag team synergy. That’s even more impressive considering they haven’t defended the women’s tag team championships on TV since December, and have had only had two tag team title defenses on live events in 2020.
Everything picked up as the match wound down to a close. Once Cross got back into the match, and landed a swinging neckbreaker on Asuka, Sane had to run to the top rope and land an In-Sane elbow to break the count. Asuka quickly grabbed the advantage, but as got Cross into the Asuka Lock, Bliss broke up the effort with a Twisted Bliss.
Asuka eventually tagged herself in and set up a slick-looking powerbomb/top rope flying forearm combination to Cross, but only got a two-count. In the ensuing scramble, Asuka was sent out of the ring, Cross hit another swinging neckbreaker on Sane, and Bliss hit a second Twisted Bliss and the match was won.
What’s next: Hopefully more women’s tag team title matches. Asuka and Sane are among the most talented in-ring performers on the roster, and whether they run it back for the belts or go their own way, they proved on Saturday night why they’re such valuable assets. Bliss and Cross proved that they can really hang when given the time to tell a great story, and the possibilities for potential challengers on all three brands are almost endless.
— WWE (@WWE) April 4, 2020
Cesaro def. Drew Gulak
Ahead of Saturday night’s Intercontinental championship match between Daniel Bryan and Sami Zayn, Bryan ally Drew Gulak and Artist Collective member Cesaro began the action at WrestleMania 36.
The two in-ring technicians kicked things off at full speed as Cesaro illustrated his strength advantage with an impressive tilt-a-whirl backbreaker and a powerbomb. Neither was enough to put Gulak down, though, and Gulak continually worked Cesaro’s arm.
Cesaro fought through the pain, however, and despite not being able to execute his Neutralizer finisher (because of the injured arm), he improvised and hit an armless airplane spin maneuver to pick up the win.
This was Cesaro’s first victory at WrestleMania since WrestleMania 31 in 2015.
What’s next? We likely haven’t seen the last of these two Saturday night as there’s a good chance they’ll both appear during the Intercontinental championship match later on.
— WWE on FOX (@WWEonFOX) April 4, 2020
Still to come on Saturday night:
Scheduled for Sunday night:
NXT women’s championship: Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair
Last man standing: Edge vs. Randy Orton
Raw tag-team championships: The Street Profits (c) vs. Angel Garza & Austin Theory