WWE WrestleMania 36 – Night 1, 04/04/2020
WWE SmackDown Tag Team Title Triple Threat Ladder Match:
John Morrison (c) vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Jimmy Uso
Man, this is going to be a weird one. I’ll just say first and foremost that I really appreciate that these three men risked their careers and lives in this match, in more ways than one. But this match should not have happened at all. If you’re reading this from beyond the thunderdome, and life as we knew it has collapsed due to the USA and UK governments failing to act properly, and the public choosing to ignore the warnings of scientists, and thus we are living in tiny huts and living off spam due to the massively depleted population, then this took place during the COVID-19 outbreak of March 2020.
So it’s emanating from an empty WWE Performance Centre, on a closed set. Though this match aired on a Saturday night, it was taped earlier that week. God knows what time of night this was filmed at. Imagine working a ladder match at 2am.
I also have to put it out there that I am not a fan of matches in front of no fans. Dead crowds in general are the worse, so this guarantees that same empty, dead atmosphere but with even more awkwardness.
To combat there having to be six men in this match during a pandemic, one member of each team is battling it out for the tag titles in this ladder match. Please read that sentence and tell me this was a better solution than the match just being scrapped and re-scheduled.
All three men battle to a stalemate before individually grabbing their own ladders and climbing, which results in another stalemate. Kofi and Morrison tease taking bumps onto a ladder and I cringe as that would just be the worst thing to do in this environment.
Uso climbs the ladder whilst those two are battling it out, and is taken down by Morrison. Morrison then tries to grab the belts and is stopped. They’re actively trying to win which is something lost in modern ladder matches. Fingers crossed the lads work logically with their highspots and don’t fuck themselves up.
Now, just a quick word on that. I’m not usually one to fanny about with how many people are in a building for a wrestling show, and I think that no matter how many fans are there the wrestlers should give 100%. If that means insane highspots and headrops in front of 50 people, then that’s great, as those fans deserve a great show regardless of how many people are there, and regardless of how much the wrestlers are getting paid (if at all). This situation though, is a totally different kettle of fish.
These men bumping off and onto ladders in front of no paying audience, to the sounds of silence and during a pandemic where any cut or laceration is a massive concern for all involved is the definition of “incredibly irresponsible”. Did this show have to take place? No. Did this match have to take place? No. Would it of made any difference if this match was postponed for later on? No.
Right, back to the action. Kofi tries a cool spot where he springboards through a ladder into a ‘rana but is caught and dumped safely to the outside. Uso gets laid on a ladder balanced in the corner and Morrison hits a flippy mcdippy off the post into Uso which looked good, and then Kofi tops that with a springboard ‘rana off the ropes to take Morrsion off the ladder!
In front of no one!
I’m having very mixed feelings about this. At least they aren’t bumping ON the ladders. The action is innovative and risky, but I can only imagine how well this would be playing out in front of an audience.
Kofi then dives onto Morrison, who’s conveniently standing for ages outside holding a ladder. Uso tries the Jeff Hardy rail run but Kofi chucks a ladder into his face. I’m glad it wasn’t as brutal as the infamous Jeff/Bubba spot from WM2000.
It’s pretty clear these guys are going all out in order to entertain the viewers at home. They could’ve phoned this is in, but they want to put in the extra effort to disguise the inherent awkwardness that these shows bring. It definitely isn’t escapsim though. I’ve seen that term pounded around a lot during this epidemic. “Escapism”. I’ll tell you something, watching three men duke it out in a ladder match in an empty warehouse only reinforces whats’s going on in the outside world. The WWE and it’s hardcore fans will have you believe that it’s “escapism”, but I’ll have you know that it’s actually bollocks.
Uso is placed onto a ladder bridge outside, and Kofi slowly makes his way up top only for Morrison to tightrope walk the length of the ring and Spanish Fly Kofi into the ring.
Amazing! I wonder how many takes that took? I have no idea if any of this is edited by the way, whether spots were retried and fuckups re-filmed or whatever. Uso follows with a splash and they all stay down for non-existent “This is awesome!” chants. Even with no one there, they have to follow WWE’s tacky production habits.
The lads have left the belts alone for awhile to have fun with all those highspots but now they’re back to climbing properly again. Morrison tries to drag Kofi down but Kofi fucks him up with a deadly double stomp. They conveniently get a ladder bridge inside the ring setup, as WWE likes to do. Uso violently drives Kofi into the bridge. Christ.
Morrison tries some parkour shit but gets superkicked for his troubles. Man I’ve missed Morrison. Dude should’ve been a world champ in the early 2010s. Show any non-wrestling fan/lapsed fan a picture of Miz and Morrison and ask them who they think the former world champion is. Miz being champion was, and is, a mind-boggling experiment that didn’t pay off. It took him until the late 2010’s to really come into his own, and even then it could’ve been done better. WWE in a nutshell.
Uso climbs a ladder in the corner and Morrison THROWS HIM OFF THE TOP TO THE OUTSIDE and out of camera shot. That must’ve been a 16ft drop to the floor….or a crash mat. There’s definitely some editing going on. While i’m thankful that Uso didn’t take a gigantic bump like that in front of no one, having editing and camera tricks in a pro wrestling match is still crap. ‘Taker chokeslammed HHH off a camera rig in front of live crowd at ‘Mania 17, and HHH landed safely on a crash mat obscured by technical equipment. Trickery like that is fine. If this was a live crowd, they could not have pulled that off and it takes me right out of the match.
Morrison tries to climb, and is met by Kofi and JIMMY FUCKING USO, back from the dead after that hellacious bump to the floor. “How is he even conscious?” JBL there, holding back his laughter on commentary. Morrison is sweating all over the place and it makes me feel ill given the current situation. It’s not on. Absolutely horrendous behaviour.
All three men bring down the copyright WWE coat hanger with the belts still attached, and they battle over it on top of the ladders. I already hate this finish, no matter where it goes. Kofi and Uso headbutt Morrsion off, and of course he takes a bump onto the ladder bridge, for fucks sake.
Kofi and Uso do a cringe comedy double take as they realise that the titles aren’t attached to the coat hanger anymore because Morrison fell whilst holding onto the straps. The ref realises this at the same time and the bell is rung, Morrison is the winner. Fuck off.
If this were in front of a crowd, I’d give this 4 stars. Hell, if the crowd was crazy into it, it would’ve been easily awarded more. The finish lets it down, but the rest of the match was tight and inventive.
But it should not have happened in the first place. All three men sweating all over each other in the middle of this pandemic. The blatant editing. The shit finish. No crowd or atmosphere. Morrison bumping onto a ladder for no fucking reason. Commend the men, Fuck the company.
Unrated. Sorry lads.