By Sean Thomas
Wrestlemania has come and gone, and the fallout from the The Grand Daddy of Them All (screw you Vince, I’m calling it that), is starting to sit in across wrestling circles. Going in, the event had a lot to overcome.The biggest obstacle being the transparent match card. The Undertaker’s career vs. Control of Raw. Kevin Owens vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. A bunch of jobbers, AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho’s feelings, Dean Ambrose v. Part-time Brock, and Roman Reigns v. fucking everybody headlined the show in this writer’s mind.
If any event could highlight the weakness of the current WWE product, it this year’s Wrestlemania. An event which would normally feature a packed card of A1 match-ups, crawled to the finish line with a line-up of half-built feuds, and inconsequential title matches.
I’m happy to report, in front of a record-breaking Dallas crowd, the WWE produced a product better than what I expected. However, considering I expected Wrestlemania 9 on steroids, that isn’t giving what we just witnessed at Wrestlemania 32 any kind of real bankable credit.
Sorry for the late review, but real life comes a knocking every once in while. Below’s my match by match breakdown of Wrestlemania 32, and make sure to follow us on twitter @In_Kayfabe.
Kalisto v. Ryback
Kalisto defended his title against Ryback, or Golberg, for as much as the fans are concerned at this point. The match kicked off during the whole Jerry’s World wi-fi debacle, keeping the arena pretty empty for the entirety of the match. For a title match, the contest was far too basic to bear. Kalisto played the smaller victim to Ryback’s big guy shtick before getting caught in a drop toe hold into the turnbuckle. Kalisto capitalized and hit the Salina del Sol for the win, to retain his title.
The U.S Title has experienced an extreme nosedive since John Cena’s open challenge run, and this match was a prime example of just how far its fallen. Kalisto, who will be a big star one day, defended the title in-front of a half-filled stadium in a match with almost no momentum or steam. Worse yet, the title wasn’t even featured on the main card. The WWE has to stop treating the pre-show as a place for championship matches if they want the audience to invest any kind of energy in the match in question.
Result: Kalisto wins by Pinfall to retain the US title
Team Total Divas v. Team Bad and Team Blonde?
Gotta provide fuel for that reality show. The thrown together nature of this match was apparent as soon as their segment on raw concluded last week, and it was just as apparent during their eight man tag team match.
Eva did her best to show how much she’s improved in the ring to shed some early heat but it didn’t work, and was essentially sacrificed by way of booing by the Dallas crowd. The match broke into a string of finishing maneuvers with Brie getting the win for Team Total Divas by submission. After the match Nikki Bella came down to the ring, neck brace and all, to celebrate with her sister Brie.
These type of thrown together matches are the worst type of filler, and have become a constant crutch for WWE creative. The match’s purpose was to get as many women exposure as possible at the year’s biggest event, but sadly, everyone involved loses a bit here due to the complacency placed on the match. When you’re in the middle match of string of pre-show matches, you know your match means nothing.
Result: Team Total Diva’s win by submission.
The Usos v. The Dudley Boys
Next up was the match everyone cared the least about- The Usos v. The Dudleys. It’s not their fault that this match carried so little heat. Neither team received much to work with leading up to their match, and their place on the card didn’t help matters. The Uso’s took the pin fall win after a super kick connected off D-Von’s glorious dome.
After the match the Dudley Boys blindsided The Usos. That plan backfired however, as the Usos regained control, and gave the Dudleys a taste of their own medicine by splashing them through a pair of tables.
Wasn’t expecting much with this match-up, didn’t get much. Hopefully this is the end to this inconsequential squabbling, and I can finally get a WWE version of Bully Ray…please?
Result: Uso’s win by pinfall
Intercontinental Title Match: Kevin Owens (c) v. Sami Zayn v. Dolph Ziggler v. The Miz v Stardust v. Sin Cara v. Zack Ryder
Now to the actual event. The Intercontinental title match kicked off Wrestlemania 32, which was the right choice. These kinds of matches are an easy way to get the crowd fired up early. Makes you think they should just scrap the Money in the Bank PPV and bring the match back to Wrestlemania 33.
Most of these multi-men ladder matches end up devolving into a mess of spots and false finishes, but something about this match, which suffered the same fate, felt warranted in its chaos. The match was full of inventive spots, my person favorite being the poka-dot patterned ladder Cody pulled out to honor Dusty Rhodes. Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn got to highlight their feud early on, while providing a lot of the matches best moments. That frog splash onto Zayn will be on quite a few top spots lists, and showed just how valuable a performer Owens and Zayn are becoming for the company.
This biggest news of course, is Zack Ryder tossing Miz off the top of the ladder to shock everyone and take home the IC belt. During the follow-up to the match, I joked that Zack Ryder was there simply to tease a win, and get tossed off for Owens or Ziggler to grab the belt, but the WWE pulled the only true swerve of the night when Ryder grabbed the belt, effectively shutting me the hell up. I’m excited to see where Ryder goes from here. He has to have a lot of good karma with the company after traveling to NXT for the better part of 2015 to team with Mojo Rawley. If anything, it made for a nice Wrestlemania moment, and a great way to kick off the show.
Results: Zack Ryder grabs the belt to become the New Intercontinental Champion.
Chris Jericho v. Aj Styles
Aj Styles and Chris Jericho had the job of following up a truly surprising title change, and they put on as good a match as I could have hoped for. Both wrestlers traded moments of control, before locking in their signature submission manuevers. It was clear Styles and Jericho were trying to defy their age and steal the show with this one. Their energy was high throughout the match, and the crowd was at least partly into the match, but the fight just didn’t carry that big match feeling.
Jericho countered a phenomenal elbow (terrible name for a finishing move) into a code breaker for the win. The second surprise booking decision of the night. The match was adequate enough, Styles and Jericho gave us a good match, full of one-upsmanship.
The booking needs some explaining. Jericho jobbed at Wrestlemania to Fandango, but couldn’t be expected to put over an infinitely more popular AJ Styles. The booking was surprising to say the least, and kicked off a string of questionable match finishes for the rest of the night.
Result: Chris Jericho by Pinfall
The New Day v. The League of Nation
The New Day jumped out of a literal giant box of booty-o’s cereal dressed in some kind of a weird Power Rangers/Sayian armor amalgamation for their big Wrestlemania entrance. I would have preferred giant unicorns, but to each their own. The WWE’s hottest trio got a little mic time before strutting to the ring. The league of Nations, who have to be one of the most disappointing stables of supposed “big time players” the WWE have ever thrown together followed to meet The New Day in the ring.
The champs controlled the match from the onset, using their numbers to keep Sheamus grounded. Didn’t last long however, as the League of Nations got a hold of Xavier Woods and tossed him into their corner of the ring. The rest of the match carried out in standard fashion without any major bumps. Big E dove between the ropes at one point to clear out the League and took what seemed to be a nasty fall on his head outside the ring. The League used dirty tactics to win, which was expected, and softens the blow for The New Day.
The best part of this segment was the post match interaction between Foley, Austin, Michaels, and the newly crowned League of Champions. The Lads proceeded to get their backsides handed to them by the legends before they cleared the ring and celebrated under a chorus of cheers. The New Day attempted to get the legends to shake their derrieres, but Austin was having none of it and hit Woods with a stunner, who sold it like 1999 Rocky.
Result: The League of Nations
Brock Lesnar v. Dean Ambrose
Brock has been so good as the unconquerable Beast since coming backing to the WWE after his UFC career ended on a sour note. Ambrose has been equally as entertaining as the underdog, “Lunatic Fringe,” but at Wrestlemania, something has to give, and of course, WWE chose Dean to take the fall in this match. The match was a deserving climax to arguably the best booked storyline leading up to WM32. Dean used everything he could get his hands on to try to fall The Beast, in a losing effort. Stiff strikes from all kinds of weapons, combined with a flurry of german suplex’s from Brock, highlighted an excellent blow off match.
It’s easy to feel a little bad for Dead Ambrose at this point. His connection to the crowd is undeniable and the fans were fame for the Lesnar/Ambrose feud from jump street. A win for Ambrose would have been incredible, and in retrospect would probably have gone down as the moment of the night. Instead, The Conqueror conquers once again. Where everything goes from here will hopefully be unwrapped at the Post-Wrestlemania Raw, later tonight.
Result: Brock wins by pinfall
Women’s Championship: Charlotte (c) v. Sasha Banks v. Becky Lynch
I’ve used the word epic to describe anything involving the female wrestlers in the WWE over the last 10 a grand total of twice. Once, I used epic to describe the Bayley v. Sasha Banks match-up at NXT: Respect, the other was watching Bayley, Charlotte, and Banks debut to kick off the “Diva’s Revolution.” The fact that both of those instances involved the Four Horsewomen, is by no surprise, and shows just how important these talent women are for the future of women’s wrestling in the the WWE.
This match was one of the best triple threat matches the WWE has put on at the grand daddy of them all. Aided by some tremendous atmosphere built up by the Dallas crowd, and the possibility of crowing the first holder of the sorely needed Women’s Championship. Banks, Lynch and Charlotte threw together a match that had a little bit of everything for the different kinds of wrestling fans out there. Fan of high spots? Check out Charlotte’s moonsault to the take out Banks and Lynch. Like mat work? all three are accomplished mat workers, who employ submission holds as their finishers. Like chain wrestling? The entire match was fight to get the upper hand.
The finish was less than thrilling, and it can be argued that the Sasha Banks was the clear choice to go over on Sunday, but the finish didn’t take away from the overall high quality of the match. Plus, admit it, Charlotte is going to look damn good with that new belt handing around her genetically superior waist.
Result: Charlotte wins by submission
Andre the Giant Battle Royal
Battle Royals aren’t supposed to be very difficult to book. Take a bunch of guys, throw them in a ring, and let them go at while the crowd jockies over who will be the last man in the ring. Thow in some guest appearances and the pretences of some kind of stakes (maybe a #1 contender shot, or a spot in a match later on), and you have yourself a high functioning battle royal- simple.
How the WWE messed that up so badly with this battle royal is beyond me. first of all, the match didn’t feature a single, full-time main roster wrestler of note except (god dammit…), The Big Show. Every other competitor was either a retired star, a celebrity, jobbers, or Baron Corbin (who we’ll touch on briefly later). Shaq’s inclusion felt forced; yes he’s big, and his inclusion was made only to set up a miniature segment with The Big Show, but at least that was memorable in some way. The two big men were eliminated early, clearing some space for the other guys. It was also nice to see DDP, after all he’s done to get some of wrestling biggest legends back on their feet, he deserves some applause.
At this point, what is the point of the Andre the Giant Battle royal? Winning the award has done virtually nothing for the two previous winners. Cesaro was dead in the water almost from jump street after winning the event, and The Big’s shows win last year felt like more of a pat on the back, than anything else.
Baron Corbin was a good choice to win, after losing to Aries a few days prior. He could use the bump in steam, but whether it results in a main roster call-up remains to be seen. Considering the group of nobodies he defeated, I doubt this match will feature as his crowning achievement by the time his career is over.
Result: Baron Corbin takes the trophy
WWE Championship: Roman Reigns v. Triple H
Here it is. After nearly 7 hours of wrestling the main event was upon us, and boy was it “meh”. The best thing about the entire match was the entrance. Holy Shit. Stephanie McMahon, dressed like the Acid Queen from Beyond the Thunder gave a bone chilling monologue, really playing up the whole Authority angle, before introducing Triple H who noticeably wasnt wearing any kind of special entrance gear. He came out to a great response, which im going to chalk to 50% hate for Roman Reigns, 25% love for Triple H, and 25% fear of Stephanie McMahon.
Roman followed with the world’s biggest superman punch, too bad the effects went off a tad too late. The boos were noticeable, as he made his way down the seemingly endless ramp to meet Triple H in the ring.
The match was exactly what you’d think a Roman Reigns/Triple H match would be like at this point in both their careers. The two went at it with reckless abandonment, fighting all over the ring and the outside. A spear to Stephanie McMahon, and a screw distracted referee finish later, and Roman was our new WWE Champion.
No heel turn, no drama, just a title change. I wasn’t surprised however, as a heel turn at this point just wasnt going to happen.
The WWE booked themselves into a corner here. They were just in too deep to be able to pull the self-destruct switch. A heel turn at this point was illogical. How could Roman turn heel without it being a ridiculous cop-out. They had to go through with it, and try to ride the Roman ship for the foreseeable future.
I fear this might go down as one of the worst Wrestlemania main events the WWE have put together.The lack of any real drama or investment hurt this one, and the WWE’s clear insistence on powering through to a Roman Reigns led WWE is drew the eyre of way to many of the Dallas crowd for this match to really hit home.
Result: Roman Reigns wins via pinfall