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Wrestlemania 32 Event Review




After much speculation, a record-setting crowd and perhaps a record number of network subscribers witnessed WrestleMania 32 at Cowboy Stadium in Dallas, Texas. While the show has received mixed reviews on social media, that seems to always be the case with some of the internet wrestling fans, but the event certainly had its share of ups and downs during the course of the nearly five-hour spectacular. The followed up on Raw provides some indication of the direction of the product, but was the biggest show of the year a success?

In the name of simplicity, I will group the matches on the kickoff show together here and say that general speaking, they were all solid, and you can’t exactly expect a match of the year on the kickoff show when over four hours of content are to follow it. A few specifics, it’s good to see Kalisto retain the US title, mostly because he wasn’t used to “feed,” no pun intended the stereotypical WWE wrestler. That being said, there is only one Rey Mysterio, but Kalisto, who made a name for himself as Samurai Del Sol on the independent scene before he signed a WWE deal, has the skills to be the next one for the “Mysterio spot” so to speak. It won’t happen in a month and will undoubtedly take a building process, and the WWE machine behind him, but Kalisto is a tremendous aerial performer that could identify with the same demographic that Rey did during his WWE run. Along with being a great high flyer, another key is Kalisto speaks English, which is extremely important for booking storylines. Another point from the matches prior to the main show, The Dudleyz and The Usos seemed to work well together and I would guess they could have a great series of matches to further boost the tag division if given a main platform, possibly upcoming pay-per-view shows with a major match at Summer Slam.

The actual show opened with the usual Wrestlemania video package to review the history of the showcase of the immortals and as always, it was well done. As much flak as the writers get, the WWE continues to have one of the best production staff of any entertainment genre. The opening match was the IC title ladder match and the competitors deserve a lot of credit for the risk they took here. The finish was done extremely well as it looked as though The Miz was going to take the championship, when he was stopped by Zack Ryder and the underdog retrieved the title for the surprise victory. It was a nice surprise to see Ryder, who wasn’t even booked for the contest until Neville was injured, get a WrestleMania moment. Considering he wasn’t scheduled for it, I don’t think anyone expected Ryder to get the win and hopefully the WWE builds upon the popularity he’s somehow maintained despite essentially being written off by management when his original push was derailed a few years ago. Ryder dropped the title to The Miz on Raw, which is either the start of a feud or the WM win was just for the moment and Ryder will be wrestling on Superstars again.

AJ Styles/Chris Jericho was next and considering they’ve already wrestled three times, this match just didn’t have the same anticipation behind it. It was a solid bell-to-bell performance, but the finish was puzzling. Jericho, still a part-timer and well established in his status, defeated AJ Styles. The skeptics will jump to WWE brass is making AJ look secondary to their talent because of his time in TNA, but I don’t think it’s quite that sinister. If anything, it’s well-known that Styles signed a very lucrative deal to trade the great money he made in New Japan and the flexible independent work for the grueling WWE schedule so it wouldn’t exactly make sense for the booking team to sabotage the company investment. That being said, I have no idea why AJ didn’t get the win to truly establish himself as a star in the WWE because what does a victory do for Jericho? Y2J has virtually reached legendary status and has proven himself to be able to adapt to the current product so how would doing the job hurt his status? Interestingly, AJ won the number one contender spot on Raw and will challenge Roman Reigns for the belt, but it’s possible he’s just being used to set up an opponent for Reign’s post-WM title defense.

The League of Nations vs. The New Day was scheduled to be a 4-on-3 match, but Barrett didn’t seem to be an official participant in it and was booted from the stable the next night so it appears that the reports of him opting to leave the WWE when his contract expires are accurate. With as popular as The New Day is, it’s a little illogical for them to lose at WrestleMania, especially because the League of Nations have bounced around a lot on WWE TV without much direction. It’s possible their win was used to set up the Foley/Michaels/Austin appearance, which worked well and was done in a timely manner. The segment got to the point, the legends preformed their signature moves, and it was a good conclusion.

I was surprised that the street fight was only the fourth match on the card, but with a nearly five-hour event, maybe it was placed there to help with the pace of the show. Ambrose and Lesnar had a solid match with Brock looking like a monster. Since Lesnar wasn’t at Raw, it would be a safe bet he’s going to take another hiatus from TV and return in a few months to build toward a Summer Slam feud. With Lesnar back at home on his farm for the foreseeable future, Dean Ambrose is left in somewhat of a predicament because he still hasn’t gotten a major win to validate his status as a potential main evener and the way he has been booked hasn’t helped either. Keep in mind, prior to the start of the feud with Brock, Ambrose was used as a glorified jobber to help get other over, but he has the skills to be much more of an asset to the company if he’s given an opportunity. Similar to Jericho, Brock is in the position that he’s over to the point that doing the job won’t affect his status and he was pinned several times during his current WWE run so wouldn’t a win for Ambrose have done more to establish his career? Maybe I’m being too critical here, but I don’t know how management expects to make Ambrose a bigger star if his profile isn’t elevated on a major stage. Ambrose did the job to Triple H at Road Block and was pinned at WrestleMania so where does he go from here?

The Women’s title match was a really good match and it was another example that if you put female competitors on the show that can actually wrestle then you can get a quality addition to the card. I’m still not totally sold on Charlotte because as I’ve said before, athleticism doesn’t always translate to in-ring maneuvers and her selling/timing can be awkward. She’s done well for only wrestling for a few years, but WWE is the main stage of the industry and some of her inexperience is exposed on TV. This isn’t to take anything away from her, but I would guess she got the spot as the inaugural Women’s champion because of her last name and the WWE always yielding to second generation competitors has yielded mixed results over the past several years. In my opinion, Sasha Banks would’ve been the better choice for the spot because she has all the skills to be a star and with Bayley dropping the title at the NXT show last week, the Sasha/Bayley feud on the main roster could elevate women’s wrestling even further on WWE TV.

The Undertaker/Shane McMahon match wasn’t anything great besides Shane’s insane leap from the top of the cell. As I wrote prior to the event, in a panic to boost the show, the WWE booked themselves into a corner with the stipulations because they risked disappointing the audience with either result. That was somewhat resolved when Shane was running Raw this past week and maybe he will be booked on TV continuously, which would make the entire WrestleMania match pointless, but could add a spark to the weekly programming. After the replays, you could see that the table that Shane crashed through had padding underneath it and was done as safely as possible, but he still deserves a lot of credit for taking the risk. The actual content of the match was lackluster, but from a historical prospective, it will be remembered for when Shane jumped off the cell. Again, maybe I’m being too critical here, but from a logistical stand point, Shane being able to taunt The Undertaker after the leap seems to take away from the impact of the dive. Another example of this is, Shane dove 30 feet at WrestleMania and was able to appear on Raw. Granted, he sold the effects of the match, but to get the most out of the dive, it would’ve made sense if he wasn’t on TV for a few weeks.

Baron Corbin won the Andre The Giant memorial battle royal and in theory, it should be a good start for him on the main roster, but the push for past Andre winners fizzled after a few weeks so it will be interesting to see if the booking team has long-term plans for him or if winning the battle royal win was just a surprise for WM 32, similar to the Zack Ryder win.

The Rock vs. Erick Rowan “match” was a complete waste of time and really halted the momentum of the show. The Rock showing up to announce the attendance record is fine and it’s a logic spot for him on the card, but everything else, including the John Cena run-in just made the show drag on after an already three-hour event. If Cena is ready to return to action, why not save it for the post-WM Raw? What’s the purpose of Cena and The Rock clearing the ring of the Wyatt? It’s not as though there’s going to be a tag match booked so why throw John Cena into the segment when he could’ve made a more meaningful return on Raw? Another point that has to be made here is, why did Bray Wyatt get made to look irrelevant at the expense of a part-timer? Again, The Rock isn’t going to be there to work a feud so where’s the pay off? Wyatt has basically only been used to help get others over the past few years, despite the potential to be a legitimate star for the company and he deserves credit for using his great mic skills to say relevant. This goes back to the WWE relying on too many nostalgia acts and they are doing so at the expense of the competitors that, in theory, should be pushed as the future of the company. This isn’t a jab at them, but wouldn’t the Social Outcasts have been a better chose for The Rock segment than the Wyatts? At this point, how is Bray supposed to be perceived as a credible heel?

The WWE World Heavyweight title match was an average match and the result was predictable. It was also predictable that the crowd would boo Roman Reign and if you listen back to it, you can tell the WWE production truck lowered the crowd audio when they booed Reigns. As I wrote a few weeks ago, there was a record number of tickets sold and if the crowd spent their hard earned money for expensive WrestleMania tickets, are they that disgusted that Roman was booked in the main event? On the surface, you have to wonder why the WWE continues to book Reigns as a baby face if the crowd will boo him, but unless it affects revenue, does it really matter? That being said, the crowd didn’t even give the match a chance and it’s disappointing that Roman is taking the heat that is directed at WWE management. Reigns was booed again on Raw and you have to wonder is there any amount of crowd hostility that will prompted management to turn him heel?

Overall, the show was decent and it was nothing great, but not terrible either. The event went too long at nearly five hours and the second half of the it was tedious when some of the segments that dragged on halted the momentum of the event. Some of the booking was questionable and the top baby face was booed at the conclusion of the show, but as mentioned, it was a record-setting show so does the criticism matter? There were some of the negative reviews, but from a business prospective, the event was successful.

-Jim LaMotta


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