WrestleMania 36 will be the most unusual pay-per-view WWE has ever produced.
The event, which has already been taped, will come from WWE’s training facility in Orlando, be spread out over two nights, and take place in front of no fans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Despite the changes to ‘Mania this year, fans can still count on one familiar aspect to the show: there will be wrestling matches.
There are 16 matches scheduled for the two-night event. If you’re thinking about signing up for the WWE Network to watch ‘Mania but aren’t confident you’d know enough about the product to enjoy the show, we’re here to help you out.
Sportsnet has ranked each WrestleMania 36 match in an effort to better help you understand the story behind each bout.
We’ll start at No. 1.
1) Edge vs. Randy Orton (Last Man Standing Match)
This match has, by far and away, the most hype behind it.
Edge has returned to the ring following a nine-year retirement due to a severe neck injury. His homecoming in WWE has been so incredibly well received. Fans missed Edge, wrestlers missed Edge, we all missed Edge.
The Orangeville, Ont., native has jumped right back into the main event picture with an emotionally gripping storyline alongside Randy Orton, who has delivered some fantastic work on his side of the lead-up to this match.
Orton’s work includes dishing out conchairtos, RKOing Beth Phoenix (Edge’s wife), and more, all the while telling Edge he’s doing this because he “loves him.” Randy is apparently doing this to save Edge from further injuring himself, thus causing emotional damage to his wife and daughters.
The storyline is fantastic, the wrestlers are exceptional, and the match should be show-stealing.
Match Prediction: Edge wins
2) Brock Lesnar (C) vs. Drew McIntyre (WWE Championship)
It’s a shame there won’t be any fans in the building for ‘Mania, because there are so many wrestlers who deserve to get that “WrestleMania pop.”
Drew McIntyre is certainly one of those wrestlers. McIntyre’s ascent to a championship match at WrestleMania comes after a disappointing first run on the WWE roster that ended in 2014. McIntyre went on a redemption tour of sorts, wrestling across the world for various organizations before coming back to WWE in 2017.
McIntyre is now set to take on the most dominant champion in WWE over the past six years in Brock Lesnar. The build to this match has been stellar, kicking off at the Royal Rumble where McIntyre eliminated Lesnar in the Rumble match. McIntyre has been emotional, physical and relatable in the build-up to this match. The fans are thoroughly in his corner, which makes this fan-less WrestleMania all the more disappointing.
I think McIntyre wins, ushering in a new era of champions in WWE, but the win will lose quite a bit of its lustre without fans there to celebrate.
Prediction: Drew McIntyre wins
3) Rhea Ripley (C) vs. Charlotte Flair (NXT Women’s Championship)
4) Becky Lynch (C) vs. Shayna Baszler (Raw Women’s Championship)
I’m grouping these two matches together, based on the fact I think they’re both transition matches.
They feature two wrestlers who are primed to lead the women’s division into the future and two wrestlers who will need to use their veteran ability to help guide and push the less-experienced wrestlers into the next stratosphere of superstardom.
Shayna Baszler is still being introduced to the main roster audience after a hellacious run as NXT Women’s Champion, and she certainly has a lot of wrestling in front of her, but the spark isn’t quite there between her and Becky Lynch. Meanwhile, the Raw Women’s Champion, Lynch, has been missing a spark for several months now. She continues to cut interesting promos, but her intrigue isn’t anywhere close to where it was at this time last year.
Charlotte Flair continues to carry the torch in the women’s division with her superstar status and superb wrestling, and she’s got her work cut out for her at ‘Mania this year. Flair, the daughter of Ric Flair, is going up against a relative newcomer in Rhea Ripley, the NXT Women’s Champion. Ripley, just 23 years old, is unquestionably a star of the future for WWE, so it’s not out of the question to think that she’ll handle herself just fine, but it’s a different task at WrestleMania.
I think it makes sense to have the newer wrestlers go over here. Just as at WrestleMania 32 when Becky and Charlotte helped usher in a new era of women’s wrestling, they can help do the same here by putting the newer wrestlers over.
Prediction: Rhea Ripley wins
Prediction: Shayna Baszler wins
5) The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles (Boneyard Match)
File this one under the “matches I never thought I wanted to see” column.
When these two wrestlers first encountered each other at one of WWE’s Saudi Arabia shows, it didn’t feel like anything significant. All of a sudden, Styles is dragging ‘Taker’s wife in the storyline, Styles is using Undertaker’s real name in promos, all the while insinuating Undertaker, 55, should be long past retired.
Somehow this all culminates in a “Boneyard Match,” which I can only assume is a Vince McMahon term for a graveyard or cemetery match.
I think this match should actually be pretty good and will be a welcomed break from standard wrestling matches inside the empty Performance Center. There’s also some speculation that ‘Taker will be reintroducing the audience to his old “American Bad Ass” character, which would almost assuredly score points with many viewers at home.
Prediction: The Undertaker wins
6) Goldberg (C) vs. Braun Strowman (Universal Championship)
Let’s start with this: Good for Roman Reigns, real name Joe Anoaʻi, for putting his health ahead of everything else and making the decision to step away from WrestleMania this year.
Reigns has battled leukemia on two separate occasions, most recently in late 2018, therefore making his immune system more susceptible to illness, so he will not be participating in WrestleMania due to COVID-19. WWE was reportedly receptive to Reigns concerns and have made alternative plans.
The aforementioned alternative plans have now been made and they include the most logical replacement. The manner in which WWE announced the change in opponent, though, was strange. In a short, 15-second segment on the last SmackDown before ‘Mania, Michael Cole simply announced Goldberg would now be facing Braun Strowman. This comes after Triple H, WWE’s EVP of creative, said WWE would come up with a unique storyline to introduce a new opponent for Goldberg.
In any form, this is great news for Strowman. The six-foot-eight, 300-plus-pound Strowman has long been a favourite of WWE audiences, and has long deserved a run with a top title belt. This is the time for that title run to happen.
I have no doubt that had Reigns still been in this match, he would have defeated Goldberg for the Universal title. I think Goldberg is in this match to garner interest from fans who may be watching for the first time in a long time. Therefore, Goldberg gets their attention, and then proceeds to help put over a newer, younger wrestler in an effort to keep the returning fan interested in continuing to watch the product.
Strowman is a great choice and, I think, an even better choice than Reigns. When WWE fans are allowed back in arenas, Strowman will receive a hero’s welcome with the Universal Championship around his waist.
Prediction: Braun Strowman wins
7) Seth Rollins vs. Kevin Owens
There is nothing on the line in this match other than pride.
However, that won’t stop it from being a possible show-stealer. Seth Rollins has touted his WrestleMania track record in the lead-up to this match, and rightfully so. Rollins seems to always bring it on WWE’s biggest day of the year, and 2020 should be no exception.
Meanwhile, Quebec native Kevin Owens has a chance to make his own moment with a performance that wrestling fans know he is capable of. Rollins is the perfect wrestler to help Owens achieve that moment. This one should be fun.
Prediction: Kevin Owens wins
8) John Cena vs. “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt
I’ll start with this: I don’t think The Fiend should have lost the Universal Championship.
Having said that, I’m happy with this match at ‘Mania. It’s a great opportunity for Wyatt to get a win back over Cena, avenging his loss from WrestleMania 30.
Their match from 2014 has carried the bulk of the storytelling leading into this year’s meeting, and with good reason. Fans were perplexed as to how Wyatt could have lost in their first ‘Mania encounter as it looked like Wyatt had all the momentum behind him, while Cena looked to be making his way towards being a part-time wrestler.
This is a great opportunity for The Fiend to right what he has perceived to be a wrong, and for Cena to continue to help pass the torch as his career winds down.
Prediction: The Fiend wins
9) The Miz & John Morrison (C) vs. The New Day vs. The Usos (SmackDown Tag Team Championships – Ladder Match)
The Miz will reportedly not be participating in this match due to illness. However, given the other wrestlers in this match, viewers are in store for a car crash. This match could be show-stealing calibre.
Prediction: The Miz and John Morrison win
10) Sami Zayn (C) vs. Daniel Bryan (Intercontinental Championship)
These are two of the finest wrestlers in the company, and if you like traditional mat wrestling, then these two can deliver. Montreal native Sami Zayn had, arguably, the best match of WrestleMania weekend at NXT TakeOver in 2016, and is capable of doing it again with the likes of Daniel Bryan. This one is another candidate for match of the weekend.
Prediction: Sami Zayn wins
Here’s how the rest of the card ranks…
11) Bayley (C) vs. Lacey Evans vs. Naomi vs. Tamina vs. Sasha Banks (SmackDown Women’s Championship)
Prediction: Sasha Banks wins
12) The Street Profits (C) vs. Angel Garza & Austin Theory (Raw Tag Team Championships)
Prediction: The Street Profits win
13) Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley
Prediction: Aleister Black wins
14) The Kabuki Warriors (C) vs. Alexa Bliss & Nikki Cross (Women’s Tag Team Championship)
Prediction: The Kabuki Warriors win
15) Elias vs. King Corbin
Prediction: King Corbin wins
16) Otis vs. Dolph Ziggler
Prediction: Otis wins