WrestleMania 36: Predictions for Day 1 of the pay-per-view event
The year 2020 will be remembered by the presence of the coronavirus global pandemic. The pandemic led to WrestleMania 36 taking place without any fans in attendance. And while all major sporting events have suspended operations, WWE looks to capitalize on this opportunity by broadcasting Wrestlemania on back-to-back nights.
Emanating from the spectacular Performance Center in Orlando, Fla., WrestleMania will go back to its old-school method of being for sale via pay-per-view on cable and satellite providers. The event will also be available on the WWE Network. For the first time, WWE will have WrestleMania as a two-night event, spreading things out to avoid the 8-hour event like last year.
WWE took some inspiration from New Japan Pro Wrestling, which held their major show, Wrestle Kingdom, on two separate days. WrestleMania week includes the Hall of Fame Ceremony, NXT Takeover PPV, Wrestlemania on Sunday, followed by Raw after Mania.
Here is how I would book WrestleMania 36. Since this show is “too big for one night,” My prediction of WrestleMania will be based on match placement for night one and two based on a 5-star system.
(Disclaimer-This is fantasy booking, in no way do I know the actual outcome of this event. The order of the matches are solely for prediction purposes.)
1st Match – Sami Zayn (c) (with Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura) vs. Daniel Bryan (with Drew Gulak) for the Intercontinental Championship
Wrestlemania has had a history of strong opening matches — you want the home audience to be intrigued from the start. There is no better way to open up WrestleMania 36 than to have a championship match to start the pay-per-viw. These two former “Indy Darlings” will make a buzz since they know how to work with one another. This will be a nice 10-12 minute match from the start of the bell, with good strong-style wrestling and storytelling. Drew Gulak is the wild card in this match. Gulak has been training Daniel Bryan by taking him back to basics. I hope Drew Gulak gets some nice offense outside the ring as Cesaro and Shinsuke Nakamura are involved in a match.
Winner: Sami Zayn 3.5 Stars (Daniel Bryan has stated that he longer wants to wrestle full-time. Plus the birth of his second child is imminent, Daniel Bryan will look to mentor Drew Gulak before his paternity leave. Possible Intercontinental championship match for Drew Gulak in the near future. )
2nd Match – Elias vs. King Corbin??
With Rob Gronkowski hosting both nights, he will no doubt be involved in this match since he made the match official. Having Gronk host WrestleMania will garner mainstream press from all major sport outlets. He may be on commentary during this match, or cause a distraction with his hype bro, Mojo Rawley. This match will be the entertainment value portion of the show with only 8-10 minutes of mediocre wrestling.
Update – This match may not happen as they may write Elias off with a backstage assault, setting up Mojo Rawley or Gronk getting involved. We’ll see how they write Elias off this weekend.
Winner: Elias if he wrestles = 2 Stars or Mojo or Gronk 2 Stars (Elias needs a big win over the most consistent heel in the business. If Rob Gronkowski has truly signed with the WWE, this match may start his program with Baron Corbin. We’ll find out.)
3rd Match – Possible FS1 pre-show – The Street Profits (Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford) (c) vs. Austin Theory and Angel Garza (with Zelina Vega) for the RAW Tag Team Championship
Showcasing some NXT talent at WrestleMania has Triple H written all over it. He is the Executive VP of Talent and Strategy and the creator of NXT. It is no surprise that he wants the future to be showcased, and this has the makings of being the most athletic match on the first night. Montez Ford took a nasty bump on the RAW go-home show by doing a Sunset Front Flip over the top rope and landing on his back. We’ll see how he recovers. Angel Garza has the look and charisma to be the next great Latin star the WWE desperately needs. Rey Mysterio is down to his last two years in the company, and WWE needs to establish the next great Latin star that brings international appeal (think Eddie Guerrero and Alberto Del Rio). Bringing in Austin Theory was a nice surprise. A former Evolve Heavyweight Champion and the newest NXT star, this is Austin Theory’s time to showcase why he is the future of the WWE. If given time, this match might steal the show on Saturday.
Winner: Street Profits retain 3.75-4 stars (Garza and Theory will look great in a losing effort. No need to put the title on a fresh team with no chemistry. Let Garza and Theory team up more if Andrade is out for a long period of time. Had Andrade been medically cleared, Garza and Andrade would be my prediction to take the gold)
4th Match – Bayley (c) vs. Lacey Evans vs. Naomi vs. Sasha Banks vs. Tamina Fatal 5-Way for the Smackdown Women’s Championship
This women’s title match may be placed after the Raw tag-team match. I noticed there’s always a low expectation match before a big Mania match because you want the crowd invested in the bigger matches. Unfortunately for Bayley, she has been the victim of bad booking ever since she won the Smackdown title from Charlotte, late last year. The audience is not invested in Bayley’s new look, but she tries her best to be a heel champion. If she pulls off the victory here, then she might solidify for reign and start to gain momentum. This match is the most unpredictable, but I see Bayley and Sasha being the last superstars standing.
Winner: Sasha Banks 3 stars (I think it’s time to put the belt on Sasha. But I could also see Naomi or Bayley winning making this match. It will be interesting to see if Sasha wins, will she continue to not successfully defend the title. Sasha has a streak of losing the title at her first title defense).
5th Match – The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles Boneyard Match
This match will be at least 20 minutes of good wrestling shenanigans. After a great promo by the Deadman, we’ll see what the “Holy Trinity” brings. Since the Undertaker invited Gallows and Anderson to the Boneyard, maybe we will see an appearance by Kane or maybe a surprise member of the Ministry of Darkness? Bradshaw or Farooq? Who knows, but this should be a fun match to watch on PPV. I know on FS1, Mark Henry mentioned the use of a coffin, similar to Wrestlemania 22. Remember, Undertaker only has a few years left in his tank, so let’s enjoy the Deadman while we still can. The fact that the Undertaker personally chose AJ for a Mania match shows how much respect he has for the Phenomenal One. Fingers crossed that this match has a buried alive stipulation to make this gimmick match interesting.
Winner: Undertaker 3.5-4 stars (Should be the most entertaining match on Saturday since it will be filmed outside the PC. Lots of effects and editing will be used to make everyone look good.)
6th Match – Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
It’s a shame that this match will not have the international crowd behind Kevin Owens. He is a sentimental favorite and honestly, needs a win over Rollins. Seth has been on fire since WrestleMania 31. Who can forget the “Heist of the Century” at Levi’s Stadium. As the booker, I think it’s time for the Monday Night Messiah to bow down to the Kevin Owens Show. A strong match with multiple stunner will prevail at the very end.
Winner: Kevin Owens 4 stars (Multiple false finishes. A strong match for night one.)
7th Match – Rhea Ripley (c) vs. Charlotte Flair for the NXT Women’s Championship
I am so happy that an NXT Title will be defended at the grandest stage. Unfortunately, Adam Cole is not on the card, BayBay. Rhea Ripley had an amazing 2019 and looks to continue her 2020 campaign with a solid victory over Charlotte Flair. A victory over the Queen will solidify Rhea and a possible main roster promotion. Not one wrestler has skyrocketed through the ranks of NXT UK and NXT, and she’s only 23! The future is bright for Rhea and her brutality begins at WrestleMania.
Winner: Rhea Ripley 3.5 stars (15-20 minute match, there shouldn’t be any botches as these women can wrestle really well.)
8th Match – Brock Lesnar (c) vs. Drew McIntyre for the WWE Championship
The main event of the evening! As I stated earlier, it’s a shame that the international audience will not be in attendance. The UK crowd would have been on fire in Tampa, plus the possibility of Drew McIntyre’s old theme song would’ve brought back memories of the “Chosen One” gimmick. Drew has been training like Braveheart, and we know Brock Lesnar is a beast! I really hope this match is not short. Drew deserves this moment as he’s been portraying himself as a true superstar. If given time, this could be Lesnar’s best match since his battle with AJ Styles at Survivor Series 2017. A solid 10-15 minute match with multiple Claymore kicks to the head should be enough to conquer the beast. In a perfect world, this would be a 30-45 minute match. Knowing the way Brock has been wrestling lately, this match will not go over 20 minutes.
Winner: Drew McIntyre 3.75 stars (I can see Lesnar taking his usual time off after this match. Lesnar does not need the title to be a special attraction. He is the best draw in WWE, but with rumors circulating of a one month offseason, Brock does not need to be in the title picture. If Lesnar loses, he’ll take his usual hiatus until SummerSlam. But if Lesnar wins, the WWE will most likely have Drew chase the title for a few more months.
Esto Alvarado has been following wrestling for 25 years and is the commissioner of a fantasy wrestling league he created. You can follow him on Twitter @EstoAlvarado