Inside Pulse 12

Metalhead’s Riff: Dissecting WWE WrestleMania 32 (Warning, This Won’t Be Pretty)

Lots to write about today so, let’s skip the intro for once and get right down to business:

WWE US Title Match: Champion Kalisto defeated The Ryback in 8:58 via pinfall:

Before talking about the match, I have a question. WrestleMania played on the WWE Network, right? So, of course, since its their Network, they can do whatever they want, right? Why then are they still going for meaningless commercial breaks during the pre-show matches? Anybody? No? OK never mind then.

This was the expected big guy/small guy thing with Ryback playing the role of brick wall while Kalisto basically bounced all around it. I felt they had an hard time (especially Ryback) finding the right pacing during the first half of the match although things did seem to go a little smoother towards the end. Ryback may look the part and does show intensity at the right moments but he remains very limited as a wrestler. Meanwhile, Kalista did his Lucha stuff and worked very hard  to make his moves believable despite the size difference. Overall this was a solid opener that was actually better than I expected. The not entirely clean finish suggest we’ll see more of those two in the coming weeks.

Natalya, Paige, Alicia Fox, Eva Marie and Brie Bella defeated Lana, Tamina, Naomi, Emma and Summer Rae in 11:25 via submission:

I must admit I expected a complete mess here, but, fair is fair, it wasn’t. Everybody involved worked to their strengths and even Eva Marie managed to pull off a couple of moves without injuring herself (or anyone else). It was also mildly amusing to see that, even if she didn’t actually do much, Emma easily outshone everyone else whenever she was in the ring. I know that a lot of you guys like Lana, but, I honestly hope they aren’t seriously considering making her a wrestler, because she might actually be worse than Eva Marie. She was fine as interference runner though (@WWE: hint, hint). Brie got the win for her team with a very good-looking transition into the YES-lock. Judging by the post-match celebration, this might indeed have been Brie’s  WWE swan song, so you have to wonder why they didn’t make more out of this. Aside from that, this was another good little match. These pre-show matches are really exceeding my expectations until now.

The Usos defeated The Dudley Boyz in 5:20 via pinfall:

Ah, I knew it couldn’t last. This was a nothing-match. Short, meaningless, lifeless you have to wonder why they even bothered with it. The finish was also a blunder by WWE bookers who apparently haven’t noticed that the heels got more cheers than the faces in recent weeks. So, predictably,  having the Usos turn over the Dudley’s patented table spot went down like a lead balloon with the Dallas crowd. This would have struggled as a time-filler on RAW. Utterly forgettable.

WWE Intercontinental Title Ladder Match: Zack Ryder defeated Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Sin Cara and Stardust to win the IC Title in 15:30:

A spot-fest was expected and that’s exactly what it got. But what made this ladder match a bit better than you usual bodies-flying-everywhere affair was the fact they smartly used the Owens vs Zayn feud as the core. Indeed, usually we have two or three random guys in the ring with the others taking a nap at ring-side, and, well, it was still the case here, but the Owens/Zayn rivalry kept things interesting enough to make us forget about all those napping. Some great-looking spots here, courtesy of Zayn doing a fantastic dive through the ladder spot, followed by a through the rope DDT on Owens, Sin Cara performing a picture-perfect senton unto a pile of bodies (more or less), Owens doing a crazy frog-splash unto Zayn (and a ladder) and Sin Cara being thrown off a ladder by Owens only to crash into Stardust (and yet another ladder). I must say the Polka-dots ladder also got a laugh out of me. Finish was wild thanks to Owens taking a sick bump after a Zayn half and half suplex unto a ladder. I don’t care who you are (and let’s face it, Owens is a great seller), but THAT GOTTA HURT. Miz got nuclear heat after stopping Zayn from snatching the belt and Ryder ended up being the surprising winner.

I’m not sure what to feel about the ending yet. The fact that the match was more about Owens/Zayn than anything else was fine by me, and those two probably doon’t really need a title to work a great feud. So the story here is Ryder finally getting his big opportunity and WM moment. Nothing wrong with that, but, more could have been done to present this match as one Ryder NEEDED to win then. The structure of the match also reflected that. When you think about it, Ryder actually didn’t do much, he got his big elbow-drop off the ladder, and… Well that was it actually. After spending most of the match napping at ring-side, he suddenly woke up to climb up the ladder. Not exactly the stuff of legends. Don’t get me wrong, I certainly don’t begrudge Ryder his moment in the spotlight, but if this is simply about getting the belt on Ryder and then job him out again, then what’s the point? That would be my only issue with a match that did entertain me from start to finish.

Chris Jericho defeated AJ Styles in 17:10 via pinfall:

Before the evnt, I wrote the Jericho heel-turn might at least give us a different dynamic for this match, but, as it turned out, I was wrong. This was like every Jericho/Styles match we’ve had until now, meaning it certainly wasn’t bad, but, for  most of the match, they never really seemed on exactly the same page. For me, the problem lies with Jericho who still wants to wrestle like it(‘s 2000. Problem is we’re in 2016 now and, whether he wants to admit it or not, he HAS lost a step or two. Better to adapt your style and pacing to something you can handle than to try and keep up with someone who’s younger and faster than you are then. Things did got together for the finishing stretch though, with both countering the other wrestler’s signature moves before Y2J used the ref to distract Styles and then countered a springboard forearm into the Code-Breaker. Finish was certainly anti-climatic and some might wonder why they booked it, but, the answer to that is fairly simple. This is WWE and the 50/50 booking is the rule remember? Styles was 2-1 in front so of course Jericho had to win this one (at least in WWE’s mind). The fact this robbed fans of watching AJ get his long-awaited WM moment is irrelevant. This is about what WWE wants, not about what you want, never forget that. Not a bad match, but the need to get this feud over with and steer Styles in the direction of Zayn/Owens/Ziggler and all those guys. And Jericho needs to realize it’s about time to call it a career and hang up his boots before he becomes a complete joke.

The League of Nations defeated New Day in 10:07 via pinfall:

This match was about three things, one WWE found very important, one they found mildly important and one that was an afterthought. The mildly important thing was having the New Day fallout off a giant BootyO box in Saiyan outfits (for those who don’t know what a Saiyan is, watch Dragon ball Z and please don’t ask me how come I know so much about these things). The very important thing was what happened afterwards and the afterthought was the fact New Day and LoN are now in an all-out war for the tag team titles. but who cares about that, right?

Attentive readers might have noticed that I’m slipping into sarcastic-Metalhead mode here, and for good reason since this was the first time WM32 really infuriated me. So, you have you tag team champions lose to the LoN, who thus become the number 1 contender obviously, and then you have Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Steve Austin come out and treat everyone in the ring as jobbers. Incidentally I was discussing things on the Inside Pulse Slack page when things happen, and some of my fellow writers on IP told me that I shouldn’t take this seriously, that this was Mania, that this was fun, that the veterans got a huge pop, etc.

You know what, I’m sorry, but I still disagree with all of that. It doesn’t matter if people don’t care about LoN, that’s not the issue. The thi g is, if you’re gonna book the match like they did it, by having the heels win, then the LAST thing you should do is sacrifice both teams (and their feud and the tag team belts) for the sake of what was essentially a cheap pop. Yes, I’ll repeat myself, as fun as this was for some, this was the very definition of a cheap pop. Couldn’t have they used Michaels, Foley and Austin in a different manner? Wasn’t it possible to do a Rock/Hogan/Austin like segment to get them involved? Of course they could have, but then WWE wouldn’t have been able to highlight how much more important their retired stars are compared to their current roster. What really worries me is that many fans actually agree with this. Well to those I say, fine, maybe I AM taking this too seriously, but, if you really think that this segment was the right way to go, then don’t come complaining in a few days about how stale WWE has become, how boring their programming is and whatever, because, by saying it’s OK to job out the regular roster to retired wrestlers you’re only asking for more of the same. You want change? Stop boo-ing Reigns and start boo-ing the veterans every-time WWE pulls a stunt like this. That’s how you gonna get change.

And don’t give me the, yeah, but New Day got the superstar rub-excuse either, because they really didn’t. Superstar-rubs happen when legends put over younger wrestlers/talent. That’s NOT what happened here. What happened here is that WWE told us New Day are nothing more than a comedy act and LoN are a bunch of jobbers-to-the-only-real-WWE-stars. And people wonder why nothing change. Hey maybe if you all ask nicely, Vince will hand out millions to Michaels, Foley and Austin to job everybody out each week from now on, cause that ‘ll change the product right?

Simply mind-boggling.

No Holds Barred Street Fight: Brock Lesnar defeated Dean Ambrose in 13:00 via pinfall:

And it continues with the next match. For weeks we were told this was gonna be a war, a carnage, a blood-bath. They did these segments were hard-core legends passed the torch, where Ambrose was basically gathering every object he could lay his hands on, and the result was a 13-minute squash match. To paraphrase an analogy my CRA friends Chris and Joel used once, this was like inflating a balloon, then releasing it and watch it fly around aimlessly trough the room before it fizzled out. Brock smashed, Ambrose used some kendo-sticks and chairs, teased bringing in chainsaws and barbed baseball bats that were never utilized because this isn’t CZW after all (but you do wonder why they brought them up in the first place then), Brock smashed some more and Ambrose lost. And that, as they say was that. To add insult to injury, the camera’s didn’t even linger on Ambrose as they almost immediately cut to a Snickers commercial. That’s how important this match was in WWE’s eyes.

Now, knowing WWE it’s obvious that there was now way they were going to give Ambrose a chance to upstage Shane McMahon and his big stunts, but, in the process, they did make their most popular face look like a bumbling idiot. Ambrose had no chance in hell, and WWE went out of its way to make that painfully obvious. Absolutely nothing was gained here, not for Lesnar, not for Ambrose, not for WWE, not for anyone. Another afterthought and that’s a shame given who was involved.

WWE Women’s Title Match: Champion Charlotte defeated Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch in 16:07 via submission:

Finally, another good match have been waiting for this since the ladder-match. Beforehand there was quite a bit of speculation about if those three were gonna be able, or more importantly, if they were gonna be given the time to steal the show. And, well, they did. It’s a close race with the afore-mentioned ladder match for match of the night honors, but I feel like the girls deserve to take this one away. Lots of good stuff here with Charlotte showing off her athleticism, Becky providing the glue that held this match together and Sasha outshining every male performer that came before or after when it come to charisma and star-magnetism.

In typical WWE fashion, the only issue with this match is the finish. I don’t really mind Charlotte winning that much, although this obviously should have been Sasha’s night, but I do mind the way it happened. Here is the thing, you go to the trouble of unveiling a new belt, renaming the Divas division into the Women’s Division, promising a new era, and then… You have old doddering Ric Flair intervening so Charlotte could win. How is that change in any way? If you’re still not convinced, consider this, the first “new era” women’s champion couldn’t win on her own and needed a man (her father in this case) to get the job done. It’s a shame really, because, other than that, this was a really good match. But, it’s also a missed opportunity (another one).

Hell in the Cell Match: Undertaker defeated Shane McMahon in 30:10 via pinfall:

So, let me get this straight, this was the most hyped match on the card, also the one that received the most time, and all of that just so Shane could do his crazy stunt? Yeah, you know what, I’m gonna pass on this one, have other things to do than to comment on 30 minutes of boredom and uninteresting ego-trips.

OK, just one thing, remember when Shane said he was gonna win this and bring change because RAW sucked? Not that I thought that it was gonna happen even if he won, but still, since he lost, the message they’re basically sending us is, hey guys, Shane lost so RAW is gonna continue to suck. Aren’t you glad?

I really don’t have words any more at this point…

Baron Corbin won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal in 9:47:

Well at least a young guy won, even if it’s Baron Corbin. One the other hand, I thought Strowman was gonna win here, so that probably partly explains why I don’t mind Corbin that much. This once. One thing though, it seems they’re gonna book Corbin as a babyface and that would be yet another mistake. The only reason the Corbin character worked (somewhat) in NXT, was because he was a heel. So it didn’t matter if he got X-Pac heat at some points, at least the boo’s corresponded with the character, that’s something anyway. Corbin as a face would be another Reigns-like disaster simply because Corbin doesn’t have the necessary charisma to carry such a character. The silent but dastardly Lone Wold could work to an extend (Ok it probably won’t but that’s another story).

Oh yeah and in-between all of that The Rock came out, The Wyatts came out, there was a six-second match, the menace of a 4-on-1 beat-down, Cena returned, Wyatts looked like fools, and hey, that’s completely normal, gotta keep young, promising  stars like Cena and Rock strong, right?

And yes, that was another round of Metalhead-sarcasm.

WWE Title Match: Roman Reigns defeated Champion Triple H in 27:05 via pinfall:

Well Vince wanted it, he got it. One boring main event with a new champ that saw a big part of the crowd leave WHILE he was still celebrating. Again, not gonna say too much here, simply not interested enough. Triple H tried to work his epic main event formula that hasn’t worked in ages (if ever). Reigns got dominated by the heel for long periods of time to absolutely no response,. His comebacks didn’t elicit much more from the crowd which basically killed whatever it was they were trying to do. As a match this was OK (barely), as a big show main event this was lacking on ALL levels. No intensity, no drama, uninteresting story, wrestlers who tried but are simply too limited to deliver. This was your Wrestlemania 32 Main Event. ‘Nuff said.

 

Conclusion: Out of eleven matches there are only two matches (Women’s and ladder match) I can put forward as ones to  watch. 2 out of eleven. That’s about 30 minutes of a 6 hours show. And even those two had some booking issues. And that’s about the best thing I can say about WrestleMania 32. This was basically the WrestleMania Vince wanted. It’s the show Vince wants, it’s the wrestling (or Sports Entertainment) Vince wants. And the most saddening thing is, they did break that attendance record apparently, so, Vince can now say: see? I was right.

But I’m gonna be brutally honest here. If all mania is about nowadays is cheap pops like the Michaels/Austin/Foley segment or the Rock/Cena thing or the Shane stunt, then I say: fuck WrestleMania. If all WWE is about nowadays is part-timers, retired wrestlers and non-workers being presented as superior to the whole locker-room than I say: Fuck WWE. Next week is NJPW’s Invasion Attack. Want a wrestling show? Watch that.

 

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