The coronavirus pandemic has affected WrestleMania 36 in ways that seemed inconceivable just a month ago, forcing it into the WWE Performance Center in front of an audience of none, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t best possible outcomes for each of the card’s 14 announced matches.
From championship encounters to high-profile grudge matches, the outcomes and how they come about are equally as important as the Superstar who emerges with their arm raised in victory.
With the immediate and long-term future of WWE hinging on what goes down on Saturday and Sunday, these are the outcomes that will best suit the performers involved and the sports-entertainment juggernaut as a whole.
Note: Several matches have undergone changes due to illness or injury. Those will be noted throughout the course of this piece, with information on replacements and updated plans. Please proceed with caution if you wish to avoid spoilers.
WWE WrestleMania 36 Results
Triple Threat Ladder Match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championship
Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com reported The Miz did not perform at the WrestleMania 36 tapings due to illness. Thus, the originally intended Triple Threat ladder match pitting him and SmackDown Tag Team Championship partner John Morrison against The New Day and The Usos will not go on as advertised.
The A-Lister’s unavailability should not deter the company from booking the match, though. What better way to get the champions over as heels but deserving champions than by having Morrison escape a five-man war with the title intact?
A high spot that sees New Day and The Usos disposed of late, allowing Morrison to sneak back into the ring and retrieve the titles, would be a great way to put over his resourcefulness while creating questions about whether he really would have retained the belts if the other two teams had not wiped each other out.
Intercontinental Championship Match: Daniel Bryan vs. Sami Zayn
Drew Gulak earned Daniel Bryan his Intercontinental Championship match against Sami Zayn, and so it is only fitting he costs the former WWE champion another WrestleMania title victory.
Gulak never tapped out to Bryan, thus never really losing to him at Elimination Chamber, but he has become The Yes Man’s apprentice, his own career growth taking a backseat to his championship aspirations.
That is not the Gulak we know, nor is it the one who existed in the WWE Universe prior to their PPV encounter.
So, late in the match with Zayn, a surging Bryan watches as Gulak wipes out Shinsuke Nakamura and Cesaro, seemingly clearing the way for a win. The alert champion distracts the referee, though, allowing Gulak to wipe Bryan out.
The opportunistic Zayn takes advantage and retains his title. Gulak and Bryan’s feud is reignited, and SmackDown has an even more passionate and personal rivalry in its midcard.
Elias vs. King Corbin
The match between Elias and King Corbin took on greater significance after the March 27 episode of SmackDown, during which the latter brutally assaulted WWE’s resident minstrel and sent him crashing to the floor from a platform several feet in the air.
Before that moment, common sense said Corbin would roll to victory in a match he would have been significantly above just a month or so ago. After that angle, though, it feels like the stage is set for Elias to overcome his injuries and earn the victory.
But that is not the right outcome, nor is it one that does the blue brand any favors.
Love or hate him, The Lone Wolf is a genuinely great heel who will benefit SmackDown in the long term. With Bray Wyatt as the top villain but one whose appearances are inconsistent to say the least, Corbin is relied upon to hold things down from week to week. He is a main event-level heel on a brand severely lacking them.
A relatively clean win, courtesy of the End of Days, should await Corbin at WrestleMania 36.
Aleister Black vs. Bobby Lashley
Aleister Black has a pay-per-view win over AJ Styles to his name, but Bobby Lashley has disappeared from WWE TV following a loss to R-Truth at Super ShowDown on February 27. One is trending upward, the other down.
The best outcome for this one is a short, six-minute match that sees The Dutch Destroyer drop The All Mighty with his Black Mass finisher and continue building his momentum.
Any other finish is a major booking misstep that will stunt Black’s growth.
Raw Tag Team Championship Match: The Street Profits vs. Angel Garza and Andrade
Due to a broken rib suffered in a tag team match with Angel Garza against Ricochet and Cedric Alexander, United States champion Andrade will not compete at WrestleMania, as reported by Mike Johnson of PWInsider.com.
John Pollock of Post Wrestling reported NXT’s Austin Theory replaced Andrade at the WrestleMania tapings.
The introduction of Theory is interesting in that he is still new to the NXT Universe but has more than impressed in his opportunities on TV. His egotistical and arrogant personality meshes well with Garza and should make for a fun heel team come showtime.
With that said, there is no way a makeshift team should defeat the red-hot Street Profits for the Raw titles.
Angelo Dawkins and Montez Ford have beaten Seth Rollins and Murphy on two separate occasions, and their connection with audiences is undeniable. They are charismatic, energetic and bring fun back to the WWE product any time they explode through the curtain.
Their time is not over yet.
An action-packed match that comes to a conclusion with the Sky High/Frog Splash combination to Theory for a successful title defense is how this one should wrap up. It preserves Garza’s heat and allows the champs to continue their roll.
Theory will rebound, and Garza and Andrade will also have a plausible argument for a rematch when the U.S. champion is healed up.
Kevin Owens vs. Seth Rollins
Seth Rollins and Kevin Owens have one of those feuds that has had an incredible amount of television time devoted to it but has been relegated to the midcard due to the influx of part-time talent at the top of the card.
That should not stop them from tearing it up and delivering one of the night’s best matches, though. With KO pointing out the significance of the Performance Center to their rivalry, the setting will be perfect.
A week ago, it appeared Rollins would win and continue evolving his Monday Night Messiah heel persona. That is until he cut the promo in which he pointed out Owens’ numerous failures at The Showcase of the Immortals.
Like Cody Rhodes did to Big Show ahead of their battle at WrestleMania XXVIII, Rollins vowed to add another disappointment to the list because when the lights are brightest, he becomes a god.
That superb promo added greater gravity to the match, but it also not-so-subtly hints at the finish.
The best outcome for this one is for Owens to silence his rival with a Stone Cold Stunner and pick up a rare win on The Grandest Stage of Them All.
Rollins can regain his heat the next night with a single promo if need be, but Owens desperately needs the win in order to retain credibility. Otherwise, the heel was right and he’s a big-time loser.
NXT Women’s Championship Match: Rhea Ripley vs. Charlotte Flair
Charlotte Flair won the women’s Royal Rumble match in January, but rather than challenging for the Raw and SmackDown titles she has become synonymous with, she set her sights on the NXT Women’s Championship she has not held since her time with the black and yellow brand over half a decade ago.
Standing in her way of regaining the title that launched her to superstardom is Rhea Ripley, the badass Australian who did the unthinkable by dethroning Shayna Baszler.
Unfazed by The Queen’s reputation, Ripley stepped up and issued the challenge to her for a WrestleMania showdown and has not hesitated to get in her opponent’s face since then.
While some might suggest a Flair win would result in an intriguing return to NXT, so much effort went into building Ripley to beat Baszler that all of it would go out the window if The Queen beats her at WrestleMania.
Thus, the best outcome is for Ripley to defeat Flair clean, thus building legitimacy. Indirectly, The Queen’s legacy as a star big enough and credible enough to create other stars would also be established.
Any other outcome is detrimental to everything that came before and sets an incredibly talented NXT women’s division back because heels such as Io Shirai and Dakota Kai would be forced further down the card by the presence of an all-timer on the NXT roster.
Five-Way Elimination Match for the SmackDown Women’s Championship
Bayley enters WrestleMania 36 as a fairly dominant SmackDown women’s champion. She has beaten Lacey Evans and Naomi in recent pay-per-view matches, and Tamina has not been relevant or legitimate in years.
Of the four women set to challenge The Role Model for gold, the greatest threat is her best friend and partner in crime, Sasha Banks. And therein lies the key to the best outcome for the blue brand’s title bout.
The Boss has already hinted she will not roll over for Bayley at WrestleMania, particularly in the way she appeared to take exception to the champion insisting they were better off together than apart. She is clearly the next big feud for the titleholder, and theirs is a program that can carry the brand for several months.
What better place to jump-start it than at The Granddaddy of Them All?
An elimination match as described by Michael Cole on SmackDown, the most appropriate outcome would see Bayley watch as Banks eliminated her greatest threat, presumably Evans, and then take advantage of her focus being elsewhere by rolling The Boss up for the last elimination and a successful title defense.
This will create an irreparable crack in the foundation of their friendship, while the weeks and months that follow the match set up a much-anticipated main roster showdown between them, presumably at SummerSlam on August 23.
Raw Women’s Championship Match: Becky Lynch vs. Shayna Baszler
From the moment Becky Lynch attacked Shayna Baszler in the closing moments of the Survivor Series pay-per-view, it was apparent the two dominant competitors were on a collision course for a WrestleMania showdown.
The Queen of Spades’ subsequent debut on Raw and attack on The Man, followed by her incredible dismantling of the opposition en route to a win at Elimination Chamber, only fanned the flames. Now that the match is official, it feels like the most predictable on the entire card.
If there was ever a moment more tailor-made for Baszler to cement herself as the new top dog in the women’s division, this is it. She should make like she did at Elimination Chamber and put Lynch asleep with her Kirifuda Clutch and signal the start of a new reign on Raw.
It is a match that writes itself based on everything that has come before it.
Of course, that probably means WWE will try to swerve its fans, book Lynch to win and then wonder why it struggles so badly to make new stars.
Last Man Standing Match: Edge vs. Randy Orton
Edge vs. Randy Orton is the most intensely personal match of the entire card.
Expertly built through incredible promo work, especially from The Viper, the contest is one of the most eagerly anticipated on the show and with good reason.
The story is there, the excitement for Edge’s first real match in nine years is palpable and the potential for another all-time great bout in the WrestleMania annals is significant.
In order for the right payoff, the company must come through with a satisfying conclusion. There is one question that must be answered, though: Is this the conclusion of this program or is it intended to continue?
If it is meant to last beyond WrestleMania, Orton should win in a finish ripped right out of 2000 and Triple H’s Last Man Standing match with Chris Jericho. Then, The Game narrowly made it to his feet for one second before the referee’s count of 10. It was a cheap win but a win nonetheless.
That finish would preserve Edge’s heat in that he just barely lost, while Orton would build more momentum as the detestable heel who still hasn’t fully gotten his just deserts.
Given the extraordinary quality of Orton’s heel work to date and how much more valuable a great villain is than an inspirational babyface, this is the best scenario for the match.
Firefly Fun House Match: John Cena vs. the Fiend
At WrestleMania XXX, John Cena defeated Bray Wyatt, beginning a long descent for a character who was once praised as one of WWE’s greatest creations.
Wyatt wallowed in midcard mediocrity for the five years that followed the defeat and though he had some success, failure quickly followed.
Now reborn with an alter ego seemingly unbeatable by anyone whose best days came after 1999, he is ready to make up for his greatest loss in a Firefly Fun House match. Exactly what that entails remains to be seen, but one could easily see it taking place on the colorful set of Wyatt’s twisted kids’ show.
Given the fact WrestleMania 36 represents Cena’s return to the grand stage in an actual match, his first singles bout since the 2015 win over Rusev, all signs would point to the company’s resident superman vanquishing the masked horror movie villain.
But this is not the WWE Cena championed for over a decade and this isn’t his redemption story. This story belongs to Wyatt and the being that resulted from his loss to The Cenation Leader, The Fiend.
At WrestleMania, the only acceptable outcome is The Fiend defeating Cena inside the Firefly Fun House and earning Wyatt his most significant victory to date.
Yes, even more significant than his WWE and Universal Championship victories.
Boneyard Match: The Undertaker vs. AJ Styles
The Undertaker squares off with AJ Styles in a match that would have been perfectly acceptable inside the squared circle but instead will take place in a “Boneyard.”
Not a graveyard or under Buried Alive rules, at the risk of appearing insensitive during the coronavirus pandemic, but a Boneyard because that is somehow less…icky.
On his official Mixer account, Styles confirmed the match is essentially a street fight held in a graveyard setting. Because THAT makes it better.
As much as The Phenomenal One would benefit from beating The Deadman and adding that to his own impressive legacy, there’s no chance of it happening.
Undertaker has two WrestleMania losses to his name: one to Brock Lesnar and one to Roman Reigns. WWE does not see Styles on that level and nor should it.
Despite interference from Luke Gallows and Karl Anderson, Undertaker dispatches Styles in the graveyard and picks up a WrestleMania victory after being left off of last year’s card.
Or at least that’s how it should go down.
Universal Championship Match: Roman Reigns vs. Goldberg
Pro Wrestling Sheet’s Ryan Satin reported Roman Reigns has opted out of WrestleMania 36 over concerns that his treatment for leukemia has left him immunocompromised amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Dave Meltzer of Wrestling Observer Radio (h/t Raj Giri for Wrestling Inc) reported Braun Strowman will replace The Big Dog in the Universal Championship match against Goldberg.
The announcement was another bombshell for this WrestleMania season. Goldberg defeated The Fiend at Super ShowDown specifically to set up this match with Reigns. It was to be a box-office clash between two juggernauts of different eras squaring off for the top prize on SmackDown.
Now, though, it will go down in the history books as a “what if.”
Strowman has been ice-cold and is coming off an intercontinental title loss to Sami Zayn at Elimination Chamber. How or why WWE would think he is a suitable opponent over The Fiend or someone like King Corbin who could benefit from it is a mystery.
Accepting things as they are, though, the best outcome is for Goldberg to spear and jackhammer his way to a successful title defense. Yes, there will be those who argue such a loss would demolish any credibility Strowman has left.
In reality, The Monster Among Men’s credibility was shattered the minute he won tag titles with a 10-year-old rather than tearing stuff up two years ago at WrestleMania 34 in New Orleans. It was further diminished a year later when he was left off the main card entirely.
Strowman will likely win and get a big celebration, but if WWE is absolutely sold on The Big Dog vs. Goldberg, it would behoove the company to keep the veteran around for another month or so and give fans the Reigns coronation it intended for this year’s Show of Shows.
WWE Championship Match: Drew McIntyre vs. Brock Lesnar
The main event of WrestleMania 36 is a colossal clash between WWE champion Brock Lesnar and 2020 men’s Royal Rumble winner Drew McIntyre.
The Scottish Psychopath has gotten the best of The Beast Incarnate throughout the build to the match, including a Claymore Kick that eliminated Lesnar from the Rumble and another that dropped him on the Raw entrance ramp a few weeks later.
Since that last encounter, they have not appeared on screen together, which is for the best. The feud has been allowed to breathe, with Lesnar and Paul Heyman cutting menacing promos about McIntyre and his first date with destiny at WrestleMania.
Lesnar will make it quick but painful, Heyman insists.
And he absolutely should…not.
This is all about crowning McIntyre, and Lesnar has been as willing to sell and put his opponent over as he has ever been throughout the process. He has bumped, sold and even instructed McIntyre on what to do next to emphasize the on-screen time.
A series of Claymore kicks should put The Beast down and lead to a new era on Raw, one led by McIntyre in which complacency earns you a one-way trip to an ass-whooping.