Even if it's pre-taped, WrestleMania 36 is still shaping up to be a good one

Apr 4, 2020
PHOTO: @wwe | Instagram

WEIRD times, indeed: the biggest event in sports entertainment of the year will be held behind closed doors.

But it's going to be a welcome respite for wrestling fans as this year's WrestleMania finally comes this weekend.

This one truly lived up to the disclaimer of "card subject to change" as the global COVID-19 pandemic forced WWE's hands to make necessary changes — some even up to the last minute.

Originally slated at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, WrestleMania 36 has been relocated to the WWE Performance Center in Orlando and, for the first time, has been divided into two nights, on Sunday and Monday at 7 a.m. (Manila time) and can be seen on the WWE Network and on pay-per-view.

It's still isn't the same, though, without the fans, which leads to many speculating that this might also be one of the worst WrestleManias in history.

Also, reports say that WrestleMania was already pre-taped in late March due to the City of Orlando prohibiting indoor gatherings in the light of the health crisis.

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So far, no spoilers of the results has been leaked out (and it better stay that way), at least as of posting time.

Despite those concerns, there's a high chance that this WrestleMania could surprise us.

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They could take full advantage of some post-production editing — a luxury WWE normally does not have when it stages live events.

That's none more evident than in the Boneyard match between The Undertaker and AJ Styles and the Firefly Fun House match of John Cena and "The Fiend" Bray Wyatt. These two gimmick matches have been reportedly taped outside of the normal wrestling ring, adding further intrigue to the matches.

The Boneyard match is rumored to be a variation of the good old Buried Alive match and was held in a closed compound made to look like a cemetery. The Undertaker may be far from his heyday at age 55, but this set-up could only work in his favor, especially as he faces off against an opponent as good as Styles.

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The same can be said for Wyatt, whose kooky character "The Fiend" can benefit from post-production editing while also showing his mettle in this duel against Cena, a rematch of their WrestleMania XXX clash six years ago.

The unusual situation might also lead to star-making performances, with the fans' eyes glued to what's happening in the ring.

Drew McIntyre was on the cusp of superstardom after being released in 2014, but returned to the company three years later, and won the Men's Royal Rumble in January. Now, he's set for the match of his life as he challenges Brock Lesnar for the WWE Championship.

Same goes for Braun Strowman, who is the last minute replacement for Roman Reigns. Reigns requested to be removed from the match, as he was already immunocompromised (after previous struggles with leukemia) that puts him at an increased risk for COVID-19. As Reign's sub, "The Monster Among Men" can finally achieve his moment of glory as he tries to take the Universal Championship from Goldberg.

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NXT Women's Champion Rhea Ripley could also present herself as the top woman in the company as she defends her throne against Women's Royal Rumble winner and 10-time champion Charlotte Flair.

Former UFC fighter Shayna Baszler can also show that she can hang tough with the best the company has to offer when she challenges Becky Lynch for the Raw Women's Championship.

Also, count the collision between Intercontinental Champion Sami Zayn and challenger Daniel Bryan as our bet for this year's show stealer, with two of the best workers in the WWE today poised to put on a technical wrestling clinic.

Physical distancing reminders may have robbed fans from seeing the traditional batte royals held in the past WrestleManias, but the triple threat ladder match for the SmackDown Tag Team Championships between the defending titlists The Miz and John Morrison and challengers The Usos and Kofi Kingston and Big E of The New Day is the prime candidate to fill those cravings.

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But really, there's nothing that could rival the storytelling that the WWE has done for Edge, who is returning from a nine-year retirement after a neck injury. He takes on his former tag team partner Randy Orton in a Last Man Standing match after three months of buildup, with the match about to hit the emotional crescendo no less than at the Grandest Stage of Them All.

It's still a bummer that there won't be anyone in attendance for this year's WrestleMania, but as low expectations are, more often than not, those only lead to high hopes.

And that only makes us more excited for this weekend.

Card subject to change, of course.

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PHOTO: @wwe | Instagram
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