WWE WRESTLEMANIA XXXVI [Night 1, Face-Off Review]: The Phenom-enal One.

Shawn Puff

“Pastor” SHAWN PUFF: It’s here!! The Show of Shows!! The Grand-Daddy of Them All!! The spectacle that is too big for one night, WrestleMania XXXVI!!! … OK. So it’s not really all that exciting. It’s in the Performance Center and there isn’t a crowd, but on the other side of it, there can’t be any botches since they had this one wrapped over a week ago right? This should be the greatest produced Mania in history.

“Monsignor” Travis Moody

“Monsignor” TRAVIS MOODY: Raymond James Stadium’s new pigskin-tossing papa aside, Rob Gronkowski is my favorite football player of all time. As the host of Mania this year, I can already see that they gonna make me hate him. SO HYPE.


Drew Gulak v Cesaro

SHAWN: I’m glad they decided to open with this match. Not even joking. If you’re going to relegate these two to the pre-show, you have them kick this damn thing off and set the tone for the entire weekend! Cesaro showed off his strength with an airplane spin that he straight went no hands on. Why isn’t this guy in the main event picture again? This wasn’t the show-stealer that I thought it would be. Definitely too short of a match for these two. They should have given them fifteen minutes, but it was still a good way to kick off Mania.. – 2.5/5

MOODY: It was a squash, bro. Looking at these two on paper, it looks like a quality Ring of Honor TV main event. At worst. Like, you know ’cause of their status in the WWE Universe that they ain’t gettin’ the time to have a solid match; but they’re both so fucking good that they should anyway. They did their best, but it was quicker than my pissbreak will be during Strowman and Goldberg. This was like meeting a hot girl on Tinder only to have her immediately call an Uber since you forgot to throw on that Old Spice. Shit. – 2.5/5


Women’s Tag Team Championship: Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross v the Kabuki Warriors

SHAWN: Well, I was trying to be positive. But since you opened the floodgates, I won’t hold back with my real thoughts. Some people hate Alexa but I think she is pretty damn skilled. Add in Asuka, Kairi and Nikki and this should be an easy four star match. Aaaaaand it wasn’t that at all. What a disappointing ending to that one. I’m not sure if it’s the empty arena or just the lack of storytelling in the matches so far but.. I’m not too impressed with anything going on with this Mania at all. Also, what in God’s name was Gronk wearing? Someone please answer that for me? Moody, come get your boy. – 2.25/5

MOODY: I’ve only been posting photos and other cute shit about this match lately since Kairi and Asuka are former waifus of mine. No, Moody isn’t on any “white girl kick”. I got one white girl and she’s all I need (unless she wants to invite Asian women to the bedroom, I won’t say no…). But getting back on target, I was def looking forward to seeing this match. Why? Because I haven’t watched Raw in, what, 6, 8 months? I’ve yet to even see a Kabuki Warriors tag match. Seeing two of my favorite performers in the ‘E tag it up is exciting enough for me, and it wound up fine. Def didn’t have the big win Mania feel without the crowd, of course, but everyone worked hard. It had a few sloppy moments, yet I enjoyed the Heel Kairi and Asuka tandem. Nikki is always a solid hand. So, despite the “whatever” finish, this was a fairly good enough opener for me. – 2.75/5

Elias v King Corbin

SHAWN: This match should have been on the Kick-off Show… But I guess I get why it wasn’t. This isn’t bringing in PPV buys. Am I the only one who just cannot get into anything involving Corbin? This was just another match that had no business being on the Mania card at all. I expected to see a guitar shot. I expected the King to eat the pin. Isn’t that the point of crowning someone as the king? You can job them out for the next year? Let’s just be glad this thing didn’t go too long. If ever there was a time to get a drink, this was it. I mean, so far. Not the best, but not the worst. If there were a crowd here, it would have went, meh. – 1/5

MOODY: Yes. King Corbin is HERE to save WrestleMania 36!!! (Quick Side-note; I wish Mania had a few wrestlers in the crowd making noise (or even some backstage reaction), as it makes a huge difference in the overall feel of the empty-arena product. I understand not wanting to copy AEW Dynamite, but it works. You know?) Back to the match and — really! — it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. The King and The Drifter actually started off with a Double J type bang, there was a fun flying knee from the World’s Greatest Singer and a pull of the ol’ tights. While absolutely not a Mania level match at all, it coulda went on for 12+ minutes instead of 4 or 5 and killed our brain cells in the process. I’m alright with it. – 1.5/5

Raw Women’s Championship: Becky Lynch v Shayna Baszler

SHAWN: So far, I haven’t cared about a single Mania match. This one is no exception. I just want this The Man gimmick to be put to bed. On the positive side, this one had some good psychology and great back and forth. On the negative side, the rest of it. Did people really pay $60 for this load of crap?? This is literally worse than not social distancing right now. – 2/5

MOODY: Man, I’m sorry you feel that depressed but that was pretty damned solid. Becky is an underrated worker. That said, this empty arena Mania drove me to drink. I’ve barely touched any liquor during my entire quarantine, yet just had a shot of bourbon with lemon and now I’m drinking a Saporo (thanks, Kabuki!). As you mentioned, the in-ring psychology was real solid and Shayna/Becky had some solid chain/counter wrestling. I’m imagining this match on normal NXT TV and really loving it. While not the Endgame conclusion for this newfound rivalry, I don’t have too much bad to say about it. Way to go, Bex. – 3.25/5

Intercontinental Championship: Daniel Bryan w/ Drew Gulak v Sami Zayn {c} w/ Cesaro & Shinsuke Nakamura

SHAWN: Well, that’s not a bad idea actually. Strawberry moonshine and lemonade… Sami Zayn and Daniel Bryan is another match that looks great on paper. This wasn’t bad. Probably my favorite match so far tonight and it’s not just the moonshine talking. Zayn is so underrated and underutilized in the WWE. I’m glad they finally gave him a title run especially since they teamed him with another pair of underappreciated, underutilized superstars. I feel like this match was better than I’m going to give it credit for. It has to be the lack of fans in the arena. It just takes so much away from the show, nevermind from the idea of Mania. This just doesn’t seem like a spectacle at all. They let these two do their thing even though shenanigans decided the outcome. I’m looking forward to seeing these two lock up again under normal conditions. Easily the best match so far. – 2.75/5

MOODY: No doubt, Pastor Shawn. Another enjoyable, quick match. The last 10-12 Manias have certainly had their slew of rushed matches due to how many wrestlers they try to fit on one show, but, man: Bryan Danielson vs. El Generico should have been more than that. Again, everyone tonight is working hard. These two guys were busting their ass. Daniel took a hell of a bump tope-ing Sami’s cronies outside. The end result just felt so abrupt. I def need to see them do it again, and double the time, and in front of folks. I know everyone knows I’m an AEW homer (and this is why I practically begged the other Apostles to review this for me) but how come a match like Trent vs. Omega felt like a 3.75-4ish match in front of no folks, yet this — with suitably talented guys — just didn’t? That went 20 minutes in front of no one and was exciting a shit and had zero build. This one had a story leading in and was.. Maybe 7 minutes? 8 minutes? And felt like almost nothing. IDK. Must be the WWE system. – 2.75/5

Smackdown Tag Team Championship – Triple Threat Ladder Match: Jimmy Uso vs. John Morrison vs. Kofi Kingston

SHAWN: OK. First let me start with the fact that Kofi Kingston looked like the Trix rabbit had an orgasm on his head. The best thing about COVID-19 is Kofi isn’t tossing pancakes while he skips to the ring. But in all seriousness, I’m not surprised by this match at all. I knew this was going to be the match of the night even before they made it just a triple threat. Wow. It finally feels like Mania. The moonshine even made me not hate Kofi as much as normally would. This was great, which is par for the course when you have the Usos and the New Day, but you take Kofi, Morrison & Jimmy?? Holy spot fest. Moody, this was right up your alley and an immediate Match of the Night contender. – 4/5

MOODY: Ahh. Ha ha! Just when I bitched they went and had an “AEW” match. That triple threat “tag team” match was brilliant! Sure, they risked their bodies in front of no people; but that’s a Vince problem, but a talent problem. All three guys busted their tail, hit all their spots (most were safe, thankfully) and it was as exciting a triple threat is gonna be under these circumstances. I’m pretty sure the powers that be just let those guys go out there and book their own shit. So many good spots; everyone was utilized perfectly; and John Morrison got the “rub”, looking fabulous without having to share the spotlight with a huge superstar like Miz and came away with those straps ever so ingeniously! If you were to take Nick Jackson, Scorpio Sky and, say, Marc Quen from Private Party, that’s more or less the match they would have. Dope shit. – 4/5

Kevin Owens v Seth Rollins

SHAWN: HOLY SHIT. … You know I loathe Seth Rollins, right? By default I should have hated this match. I didn’t. This was sick. This was everything I should expect from Seth & Kevin. Two matches in a row that tore the roof off without a fan in the building. These two went out there and told a great story and beat the crap out of each other and then restarted and went NO DQ. Moody, that spot when Owens jumped off the Mania sign, Shane-O-Mac style? Wow. Watch this match. That’s all I can say about it. – 4/5

MOODY: Well, Shawn, it’s official: this is far from the worst WrestleMania of all time many had been fearing. In fact, it’s not even close. So far there are as many great matches tonight as Mania from last year. Sure, it got off to a tepid start.. And had a 7-star classic between Elias and Corbin (L-O-Fucking-L), but, dude… Just when I was ready to bitch about the finish between our second Ring of Honor rematch of the night, Seth and Kevin restarted a solid match and made it a very, very good one. The No DQ rules were a nice surprise and the story told was super. Maybe Kevin wanted that long rivalry with Shane because he admired him? – 3.75/5

24/7 Championship

SHAWN: Dude, I love R-Truth and I knew there had to be a spot where he came out tonight. The weekend isn’t done yet. Mojo is the champion now. I expect Truth to get it back and Gronk to hold it at least once if not ending the weekend as the 24/7 European, I-95 North and South Champion.

MOODY: LOL! Why not 495? Gronk redeemed himself, though. Not only did he and Mojo make some noise for D-Bray versus Sami, they worked a fun angle with R-Truth. No rating here, but this was the stuff that Mania is known for and it was a fun little skit. Finally, Gronkowski looked like the beast that linebackers feared and not some Jersey Snore. And, yes, Truth is and always has been the fucking truth. That was actually my first time seeing the 24/7 title get defended since I haven’t watched WWE in fa-evas.

Universal Championship: Marcus Fenix {c} v Braun Strowman

SHAWN: What did I just watch? Is this what the Universal Championship is turning into? A bunch of finishers in a row and a quick pin? This was just crap. I guess, it’s great that they’re finally letting Braun have his run after failing to capitalize on this guy time and time again; but, this was just as bad as the last match I reviewed that made me say I wasn’t going to review WWE matches for a long time. Guess it’s time to pour myself another drink before Taker v AJ happens. – (-1/ 5)

MOODY: 1.25/5

Boneyard Match: The Undertaker v AJ Styles

SHAWN: A Boneyard Match? Really? Booooooneyaaaaard!!! Yeah, I should have sent Vince a cease and desist. Contrary to popular belief, AJ Styles and Undertaker didn’t fight in my studio. I know. Disappointing. But wow. Just wow. I haven’t been this stuck to my seat intently invested into a wrestling match in the WWE since the days of Hulkamania. Wow. That started out really kind of what the hell am I watching and turned into the most intriguing piece of WWE television in over a decade. BRAVO! I guess the Universal Title match was the bring you down for the final match to leave you saying wow. I don’t even know what to say. I thought this was going to be a cheesy knock-off of the Hardy Compound matches or Bray’s House of Horrors match, but boy was I wrong. I don’t really know why they went the way they did for the finish because it doesn’t really leave you anywhere else to go, but man was that entertaining. I don’t even need Drew v Brock tomorrow night but I’ll tell you, if Cena and Wyatt are even half as good as this was this is going to go down as one of the best Manias ever instead of the worst. I’m looking forward to night two of Mania after that sign off. Amazing. Oh, Bible rating?? This was the fricking Ark of the Covenant of professional wrestling. Just give it all the bibles. (All. The. Bibles./5)

MOODY: So… “The Exalted One” isn’t Brodie Lee! It’s… AJ Styles! LMAO! But oh shit, this is amazing. So let’s get this straight: Vince and company don’t agree to do any of Matt Hardy’s “WONDERFULLLL” backstage ideas and they decide to rip-off his BRILLIANCE from Impact and the Hardy compound instead. This was amazingly directed, though. Allen and Mark are great in this, as cheesy as it may be for some. The mood, the cinematography, the score, the acting, the setting, the pacing, the action Just fuckin’ epic. And The Dark Order!! Awesome cameo. It’s as if Vince & his cronies just took a big fat dump on the mega AEW acquisitions from two Wednesdays ago and DELETED THEM in 15 minutes! (DELETE! DELETE! DELETE!) As for the talent here, AJ is forever The Pheno… THE EXALTED ONE!!! Oh, shit. I forgot what such a great heel he can be, seeing how I haven’t watched him as a heel on WWE TV in quite some time. And, wait a second.. This finish. Undertaker pulls a 2Pac and goes full-on holotaker. Baw Gawd, this was the best “Reality Show Match” ever. I mean, the American Bad-Ass Taker is pullin’ a better “Days Gone” than that shitty PS4 game, kickin’ the crud out of the OC and Virgil and Peter Avalon and Evil Uno and whoever tjhe fuck on top of this barnyard/boneyard roof thing. My goodness. I need this match replicated in the next 2K video game. Like.. now. I fucking loved this. A true WrestleMania Classic. No Michael Cole hyperbole here. – 10/5

Overall Night 1 Rating…

-SHAWN = 2.75-3/5 Bibles (Matches = 2.5; Entertainment = 3.25/5)

-MOODY = 3.25-3.5/5 Bibles (Matches = 3; Entertainment = 3.75/5)

Thanks for reading! The Apostles’ll catch y’all tomorrow for WrestleMania XXXVI Night 2 for yet another face-off, featuring the final word from our fellow cool clergysmarks, Destiny and Felipe!

-Shawn Puff & Travis Moody