WWE WrestleMania 32 Reaction

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

By Nicholas Jason Lopez

 

Branded as a “seven-hour spectacle” that actually went a half hour longer, this WrestleMania definitely provided the entertainment factor coming from AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas with several noteworthy moments – a broken WWE event attendance record, both Shane McMahon and The Rock’s return, Shaquille O’Neal, the rebirth of the WWE Women’s Championship (retirement of the Divas Championship) to name some.

As it goes with most Manias, some stars were created, but other matches gave us unspectacular finishes and questionable booking decisions.

More on that below.

 

 

 

 

 

(Aired 4/3/16)

The Breakdown

– The pre-show WWE United States Championship match between Champion Kalisto and Ryback was the expected “Big Guy Vs. Little Guy” dynamic, but didn’t overstay its welcome. Kalisto has been widely recognized for his athleticism ever since that Salida Del Sol off the ladder at TLC and while his run as United States Champion hasn’t been all it could be, it’s not to say it can’t improve and this was a step in the right direction. The match suffered from an essentially empty arena of fans still filing in, but Mauro Ranallo’s commentary gave it some TV credibility. The storyline headed in was meh, based off Ryback’s confusing tweener character, but the action made up for it with a good story and psychology.

– As much progress as women’s wrestling made on the show, it took about 18 steps back by personifying everything wrong with women’s wrestling with the second pre-show 10-Diva Tag match between Team Total Divas (Eva Marie, Brie Bella, Alicia Fox, Paige, Natalya) and Team Bad And Blonde (Naomi, Tamina, Lana, Emma, Summer Rae). You had terrible storylines, bad wrestling and catty personalities. Lana’s in-ring debut consisted of two stomps and Eva Marie pulled off a successful huracanrana. Who knew? If only “Evil Emma” wasn’t saddled with this crap. Fancy filler with head-shaking moments that ended with Naomi tapping out to the Yes Lock, following with Nikki Bella coming down to celebrate with the Total Divas, ridiculous neck brace/ring gear combination and all.

– Despite following that atrocious match, the announcement/unveiling of the new WWE Women’s Championship by Lita was handled in a classy way. Essentially, the belt’s a more red version of the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, but it gives the Women’s Division some instant credibility and thankfully puts to rest that godawful “Divas” branding. Where it leaves shows like “Total Divas” is still a question mark, but it was good to see necessary progress made in the world of women’s wrestling. Glad they grew up.

– The pre-show main event between The Usos and The Dudley Boyz was ultimately short and anticlimactic. The Usos were booed by association with being Roman Reigns’ cousins. The Dudleyz played the heels well, but still pulled out tables and predictably ended up through them via stereo Samoan splashes. This was to set up the Usos getting their “family” revenge, but that was most likely the reason they were booed. The feud didn’t have much life and in essence, the fun was limited.

– The opening video chronicled the falling Madison Square Garden microphone from WrestleMania I where Vince McMahon first introduced everyone. It transitioned into legends being transcended through the years, previewing the show as fights between legacy and a phenomenon, a king and an empire and the rise of a great one.

– The opening WWE Intercontinental Championship Ladder match (like the year prior) between Dolph Ziggler, Champion Kevin Owens, The Miz, Sami Zayn, Stardust, Zack Ryder and Sin Cara was your decorated spot-fest but entertaining. Also liked Stardust’s tribute to Dusty with the polka dot ladder, as well as Zayn’s golden plancha under a ladder and Sin Cara falling off a ladder onto Stardust on a ladder below. Ryder winning wasn’t a bad moment per se. The moment with him embracing this father was pure emotion, but perhaps it should’ve been booked differently, long-term storyline in mind. Zayn hadn’t developed on the main roster per se, but via his connection with Owens, it would’ve been an easier and much more emotionally investable story to tell if he would’ve won, creating a scenario where the long-winded rivals have something more to fight over.

– Ever since Chris Jericho turned on AJ Styles, we’d been expecting a set-up for another Styles-Jericho encounter on the big stage. Of course, it got dragged out a bit, but the one fresh twist was Jericho’s great heel character. The match was pretty good, but a notch below other matches and the finish was simply confusing. If the goal was to give newcomer Styles a “WrestleMania moment,” why have Jericho go over? Especially since Jericho has put over past talent at Mania (Fandango, CM Punk, etc.), it just made little sense here on Mania, where it’s supposed to be a “payoff.” That said, the finish (Phenomenal Forearm countered into a Codebreaker) was well-done, but again, we disagreed with the result. At this point, the theme of the night was becoming “expect people you wouldn’t expect to win” night.

– Ryder’s backstage promo milked up his victory earlier and proclaimed it his career highlight (hard to disagree) and his explanation of simply being grateful to hear his music played at Mania to winning the whole match, also cleverly comparing it to when he took a picture with Razor Ramon at WrestleMania X, keeping the genuine emotion flowing. It mirrored Daniel Bryan’s backstage moment last year when he was embraced by legends.

– The WWE World Tag Team Champions New Day and The League Of Nations also had their own battle. Of course, New Day’s entrance overshadowed everything, as they paid homage to DragonBall Z while coming out of a life-sized box of Booty-O’s. The match consisted of New Day against Rusev/Sheamus/Alberto Del Rio. It was action-heavy while it lasted, but the Bull Hammer Elbow/Brogue Kick combo was too much to overcome. Odd booking not to put New Day over, since it led to legends Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Mick Foley beating up LON, before Stone Cold eventually stunned Xavier Woods after they tried to get him to boogie down. New Day still could’ve gone over, with LON doing a post-match beatdown (like a recent Raw) and you still would’ve gotten the same effect. It didn’t exactly help New Day or LON and told you that 1998 was still bigger and better than the current product and that’s the wrong message to send.

– The no-holds barred street fight between Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar had one of the better storylines headed in. Ambrose, a lunatic, was crazy enough to take on a juggernaut on the big stage by evening the odds with weapons. Despite Lesnar’s 13 suplexes, it wasn’t much of a hardcore bout as Ambrose only used chairs, barbed wire bat and others. Main noteworthy spot was Lesnar’s top rope belly-to-belly and F5 on the chairs. The match was starting to warm up, but then ended abruptly. Yup. No Mania moments here. Ambrose should’ve gone over, since he’s a guy on the brink of “breaking through” as WWE’s top genuine star and could’ve used the win as a notch on his belt.

– From the moment WWE Divas Champion Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch were discovered on NXT with several clinics, we thought a dream match would be some kind of three-way or four-way (including Bayley) on the big stage, to help everyone get over. Low and behold, that’s what went down. With the earlier nod of the retirement of the Divas Championship, this was the perfect platform for the ladies to impress and it got the proper Mania treatment with amplified entrances for Charlotte (donning parts of her father’s WrestleMania 25 robe) and Banks (coming out with cousin Snoop Dogg and a fellow MC, as she paid homage to Eddie Guerrero’s No Way Out 2004 ring attire – the match that made her want to wrestle). The action was rampant from the opening bell and they went all out (a throwback to NXT), many awesome spots galore with outside dives and Charlotte’s top rope moonsault. We were practically on the edge of our seats, before staying close to the finish where Charlotte made Lynch tap out to the Figure Eight as Ric Flair held Banks down. Charlotte made sense to go over here, since Banks and Lynch weren’t credible enough on the main roster to be carrying the division.

– The Hell In A Cell match for WWE control between Shane McMahon and The Undertaker was arguably the marquee affair headed in from the moment Shane returned to TV, but much of the storyline (what little of it made sense anyway) was family-driven and there were no run-ins from Vince McMahon or anyone else. This was Taker’s home crowd and Shane representing much-needed creative change on the main roster, so they were painted in a corner with no one to cheer. The storyline was basically the company admitting their current product sucks and the stipulations felt largely unnecessary by the end of it all. It started out slow, with both guys trying to out-MMA each other, overshadowed by Shane’s memorable spot where he jumped off the cage through the table, but it was more scary than entertaining. It looked like it broke on its side. They didn’t go with the cooler option of Shane winning, which meant that the storyline was utterly pointless. Maybe there was a missing link in all of this. This match being on at this point of the show also meant that we were doomed for a Reigns-Triple H main event. Oh gosh.

– The 20-man Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale featured a nice surprise by the end and a random-ass appearance by Shaquille O’Neal for spots with The Big Show and Kane. We almost thought Shaq was Cryme Tyme’s Shaq. Baron Corbin came out with the other jobbers (among Diamond Dallas Page and Tatanka) and didn’t receive his own entrance, but gave us a logical finish with Corbin eliminating Kane. This was a good moment of the future actually being recognized, so this made us wonder if a call-up to the main roster was imminent, since the big award was always brandished on the main roster.

– The Rock-Erick Rowan match was the product of an endless in-ring segment where Rock came out with a fake flamethrower, Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders and lit-up flaming letters (too much like the WCW Monday Nitro intro) was his expected cameo appearance. The Wyatt Family appearance sans Luke Harper set them up just to be the butt of Rock’s jokes and gave us a Rock-Rowan six-second bout and a run-in with the returning John Cena that didn’t exactly put The Wyatts over. This felt like it wasn’t ending and it was coming up to 11 P.M. eastern time, which was the time that we thought the show was ending. Long story short – Rock some out, stalls time, we get a random match, Cena returns and once-rivals were now working together. Whoopie-doo.

– The WWE World Heavyweight Championship match between Champion Triple H and Reigns gave us a cheesy Games Of Thrones-esque entrance from Hunter, while Reigns came onto the stage to rousing boos. This was everything we feared, with Vince McMahon so stubborn on his decision to push Reigns as a top babyface that even the crowd rejecting it wasn’t enough to deter him. Definitely towards the bottom of Mania’s main event list, with nobody buying the action. It had a startling comparison to WrestleMania 22’s Cena-Triple H main event where Cena was the unaccepted babyface while Hunter was getting cheered as a top heel. We still disagreed with the anticlimactic result since Reigns seems more fit as a heel, but maybe it’ll lead to something long-term. Either way, terribly tame and predictable.

 

 

 

 

 

Results

– Pre-Show- 

  • WWE United States Championship – Kalisto (Champion) def. Ryback via pinfall
  • 10-Diva Tag – Team Total Divas (Paige, Natalya, Eva Marie, Brie Bella, Alicia Fox) def. Team Bad And Blonde (Emma, Summer Rae, Naomi, Tamina, Lana) via pinfall
  • The Usos def. The Dudley Boyz via pinfall

– Regular Show – 

  • WWE Intercontinental Championship – Ladder – Zack Ryder def. Kevin Owens (Champion), Sami Zayn, Stardust, Sin Cara, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz to become new Champion
  • Chris Jericho def. AJ Styles via pinfall
  • Six-Man Tag – Sheamus/Alberto Del Rio/Rusev (w/King Barrett) def. The New Day via pinfall
  • No-Holds Barred Street Fight – Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) def. Dean Ambrose via pinfall
  • WWE Women’s Championship – Triple-Threat – Charlotte (Champion) (w/Ric Flair) def. Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch via pinfall
  • If Shane McMahon Wins, He Gets WWE Control – Hell In A Cell – The Undertaker def. Shane McMahon via pinfall
  • 20-Man Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale – Baron Corbin eliminates Kane to win 
  • The Rock def. Erick Rowan (w/Bray Wyatt, Braun Strowman) via pinfall
  • WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Roman Reigns def. Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon) via pinfall to become new Champion 
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About Nicholas Jason Lopez

Just a 25 year-old Brooklynite. Nothing more, nothing less. Currently Freelancing for The Bensonhurst Bean website in Brooklyn, he has also been published on sites such as Review Fix, College University of New York Athletic Conference, Dying Scene, Brooklyn News Service, All Media NY, BrooklynFans.com and Yahoo Voices. He has also interned for The Home Reporter/Brooklyn Spectator based out of Brooklyn, NY.

Posted on April 10, 2016, in WWE and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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