It’s here. WrestleMania 36 Weekend! I hear it’s an event too big for one night!
So, no, not exactly the WrestleMania that we all envisioned a few months ago, but then again, our lives are very different now than they were a few months ago with the emergence of the on-going coronavirus pandemic.
Instead of a capacity crowd of nearly 70,000 fans in Tampa, we’ll now get a two-night WrestleMania based out of the Performance Center in Orlando in front of no fans and hosted by former Patriots and now WWE Superstar Rob Gronkowski.
With the card already reportedly taped, it’ll be interesting to see how the WWE lays it out over the two nights. With a pre-show staring at 6pm each night on the WWE Network, FS1 and various social platforms, the main card is expected to run anywhere from 7pm – 10:30pm according to the programming schedule on WWE Network. This year, fans will also be able to order the event on Fox Sports PPV and App due to this week’s deal with FOX.
We’ll get into our predictions for the event in a bit, but first, a quick look at how we got there this week with RAW, NXT and SmackDown.
- Aleister Black defeated Jason Cade
- Kevin Owens & The Street Profits defeated Seth Rollins, Angel Garza & Austin Theory
- Asuka defeated Kayden Carter
- WrestleMania 35 – Becky Lynch wins RAW/Smackdown Titles over Ronda Rousey & Charlotte Flair
- Survivor Series 2019 – Brock Lesnar defeated Rey Mysterio, Jr.
What stood out most of all on Monday night’s RAW was this – the promos, the storyline, the emotion. Finally, we got to really feel and hear WHY The Undertaker wanted to take out AJ Styles. It was more of the American Bad Ass than the Dead Man himself with some colorful language (i.e. “ass clowns”) when referring to The OC! Loved it!
Also, Edge and Paul Heyman, as per usual, knocked it out of the park when setting up their respective matches with Randy Orton and Drew McIntyre. These are two matches in particular that really will get hurt by no fan interaction. The reaction to what we think will happen would’ve been HUGE!
Austin Theory replaces Andrade in the tag team title match due to Andrade’s “rib injury.” Nice spot for the kids in WrestleMania debuts for all involved in the RAW Tag Team Title match with The Street Profits.
Becky Lynch got attacked by Shayna Baszler to send one last message before WrestleMania and also to serve as a receipt for last week’s chair shot by The Man. It’s a good way to even things up headed into the PPV.
Finally, I wonder if, by replaying the Winner Take All match from Becky Lynch, Charlotte Flair and Ronda Rousey that they may be teasing a potential Rousey return by reminding us of that shaky 3-count pin by Lynch. Things that make you go hmmmmm…
RAW was the stand out show this week!
- The Velveteen Dream defeated Bobby Fish
- Dexter Lumis defeated Jake Atlas
- 2nd Chance Gauntlet Match for NXT Women’s Championship #1 Contender’s Ladder Match: Dakota Kai defeated Deonna Purrazzo, Xia Li, Kayden Carter, Aliyah and Shotzi Blackheart
- Kushida defeated Joaquin Wilde
- NXT North American Championship Match: Keith Lee defeated Dominik Dijakovic and Damian Priest to retain title
Overall, a solid show but nothing really standing out this week from NXT. It seems like they are just biding their time with NXT these days. The matches were fine with Shotzi Blackheart being the star of the night, almost going the full gauntlet before being taken out by Dakota Kai and shooting down her chance to win an NXT Women’s Championship Match against Rhea Ripley in the future.
We got follow-ups on Ciampa vs. Gargano and Malcolm Bivens new tag team plus the re-emergence of Dexter Lumis. Both were nice touches to keep the program moving.
But, to me, there wasn’t anything to really sink your teeth into. Again, we are in unprecedented times and now is the time to think out of the box and not stick to the norms. I would’ve thought NXT would be leading the way in WWE on this, but it just really hasn’t been there the past few weeks.
We did get another “kidnapping” though as the masked men captured Joaquin Wilde. Is this NXT’s version of The Dark Order?
Having said that, I can’t wait for Ciampa vs. Gargano. I hope it delivers next week! And yes, Killer Kross is still coming! Tick. Tock. Apocalypse.
BTW: Can this be the last time that Sam Roberts does commentary, please! Just not a big fan.
Speaking of not being a big fan, not overly thrilled at Keith Lee’s booking lately. He was such a big factor in the rise of NXT through the final few months of 2019 and then at the Royal Rumble. Not, it’s like he’s an afterthought in this feud with Damian Priest and Dominik Dijakovic. I just think they’ve missed an opportunity to capitalize on that momentum from the mainstream audience.
OK, my NXT rant is over.
- Triple Threat Match: Tamina defeated Lacey Evans and Naomi
- Otis defeated Dolph Ziggler (DQ)
- Daniel Bryan defeated Shinsuke Nakamura (DQ)
- WrestleMania 24 – Shawn Michaels defeated Ric Flair to end his WWE career (LOVE THIS MATCH!!! Amazing storytelling!)
Not quite the home run, go-home show to make me want to and yes, need-to watch WrestleMania this weekend.
Braun Strowman taking the place of Roman Reigns was just kind of thrown out there. No rhyme. No reason. Nothing. It was just thrown out there by Michael Cole after an Elias injury update and then hit social media. No mention as to why Roman Reigns is out. There wasn’t even an explanation on the WWE website during Friday Night SmackDown. Why can’t the WWE just be honest with us during this pandemic. Just face the reality with the audience. We can take it! Announce Reigns is out because he doesn’t want to compromise his body and the loved ones around him. It’s a story that people would relate to, yet the WWE just runs from it. I don’t get it at all! I just shake my head!
Despite that, there were a few good things. John Cena’s promo that seemed more about the coronavirus pandemic – with its fear and panic – than about The Fiend was very good. Cool twist at the end too with the Firefly Firehouse friends surround the ring, The Fiend in the balcony and Bray Wyatt behind Cena.
Sonya Deville being the one behind Mandy Rose stiffing Otis on their Valentine’s Day date is a good plot twist. I wish they would use more of “The Truth Will Be Heard” than they do, especially in these crowdless days. They could really get creative as to the identity of the mysterious hacker. Let’s hope it doesn’t go down the road of the “anonymous RAW GM.”
I could’ve done without the DQ finishes in the Tucker vs. Dolph Ziggler and Daniel Bryan vs. Shinsuke Nakamura matches, but the story really was told more after the matches with the Deville unveiling and the beatdown of Bryan. So, it’s ok.
With reports that The Miz didn’t take part in the WrestleMania tapings, you have to wonder how that will play out in the tag team title match. Who knows, maybe the WWE won’t even acknowledge him much like the Reigns story. At least we got a small brawl with ladders Friday night between the six competitors (The New Day, The Usos and The Miz & John Morrison).
Sorry to be a downer, but I’m really disappointed in the showing on SmackDown. A huge missed opportunity to grab a huge audience this weekend is out the window. Don’t get me wrong, people will watch WrestleMania, but there was a chance to make it more interesting and thus, a bigger crowd watching from home.
And now, for those promised predictions you’ve been waiting for…
Updated WrestleMania Card (as of 4/4/20):
- WWE Championship: Brock Lesnar vs. Drew McIntyre
- Universal Championship: Goldberg vs. Braun Strowman
- Boneyard Match: The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles
- Firefly Funhouse Match: John Cena vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
- RAW Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler
- NXT Women’s Championship: Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair
- SmackDown Women’s Championship – WrestleMania Fatal Five-Way Challenge Elimination Match: Bayley vs. Sasha Banks vs. Lacey Evans vs. Tamina vs. Naomi
- Last Man Standing Match: Edge vs. Randy Orton
- Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
- RAW Tag Team Championship: The Street Profits vs. Angel Garza & Austin Theory
- Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley
- Elias vs. King Corbin
- Intercontinental Championship: Sami Zayn vs. Daniel Bryan
- Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler
- SmackDown Tag Team Championship Triple Threat Ladder Match: The Miz & John Morrison vs. The New Day vs. The Usos
- Women’s Tag Team Championship Match – Kabuki Warriors (Asuka & Kairi Sane) vs. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross
- Drew McIntyre wins WWE Championship beating Brock Lesnar
- Goldberg retains Universal Championship over Braun Strowman
- The Undertaker wins Boneyard Match as the American Badass over AJ Styles
- The Fiend gets his revenge on John Cena in the Firefly Funhouse Match
- Shayna Baszler beats Becky Lynch to win RAW Women’s Championship
- Sasha Banks wins Smackdown Women’s Championship
- Rhea Ripley retains NXT Women’s Championship over Charlotte Flair
- Edge wins Last Man Standing Match over Randy Orton
- Seth Rollins defeats Kevin Owens
- The Street Profits retain RAW Tag Team Championship
- Aleister Black beats Bobby Lashley
- King Corbin defeats Elias
- Sami Zayn gets disputed win to keep I-C Title over Daniel Bryan
- Before SmackDown’s “The Truth Will Be Heard” segment, I thought Dolph Ziggler cheats to beat Otis keeping the feud alive. But now, I think they fast track Otis to the win.
- The Miz & John Morrison retain SmackDown Tag Team Championship (will The Miz be there with his reported illness?)
- Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross beat Kabuki Warriors to win Women’s Tag Team Championship
Enjoy WrestleMania for what it is this year folks. It’s history for all the wrong reasons, but at least we can have a distraction for a few hours from the harsh reality that we are all going through as a Nation and as a World.
Stay safe and healthy my friends!
Thanks for letting us share our thoughts! Shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear your comments and suggestions! You can also check out my blog, The Crowe’s Nest as we delve into more pro wrestling, sports entertainment and the World of Sports. My apologies ahead of time – I AM a Patriots (yes, even without Tom Brady!) and Red Sox fan! If you’re not down with that, I’ve got TWO WORDS for you… NEW ENGLAND!