Joel: This WrestleMania needs to be subtitled the “Stay the Course” Wrestlemania. After two years of changing the Main Event, last minute to appease the fans, this was the year that WWE decided to stick to their guys and have the main event play out the way that they wanted it to play out. Come hell or high water, Roman Reigns was going to end the show holding the title over a defeated Triple H. I won’t say that it was impossible to have a scenario where this ending felt satisfying, but this wasn’t it, and in many ways it feels like WWE didn’t even try. Other than a half hearted attempt of Stephanie coming out with a “Please boo this man” segment before Triple H’s entrance, the whole thing was tedious. Even the match itself was less than what Triple H and Reigns should have been capable of. It was as if the two people in the ring felt like the match was going to get booed anyway, so there was no real point in even trying to make this one a WrestleMania classic.
The bigger problem though, lies in the fact that not only was the main event a lackluster affair, there wasn’t anything really exciting in the card leading up to it. The segments designed to hype up the crowd really did the exact opposite. The Rock’s flamethrower segment, the cheerleaders, all of this just felt like unnecessary bloat on an overly long wrestling event. Watching this show again, one year removed, I realized that as the matches went by, I wasn’t looking forward to anything.
The League of Nations Defeated The New Day in a match that forces you to remember that The League of Nations was a thing. Brock Lesnar’s match with Dean Ambrose had every right to be match of the night, but in actual practice, the whole thing felt muted and frustratingly tame. Shane McMahon’s jump off of the top of the cage was still an impressive stunt watching it again, but knowing that’s the whole reason for the match makes the rest of it feel like a grueling exercise in patience as these two take up almost thirty minutes on the card just to pull off that one moment. The one true highlight of the show was actually way back at the very beginning, the ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship. It’s the most entertaining match on the card, but even that match is tainted on a rewatch because we now know that Ryder will only hold the title for twenty-four hours.
All in all this is a WrestleMania that was overblown to the point of destroying itself. In its aim to be the biggest WrestleMania of all time (biggest crowd, biggest card, biggest deal) it ends up feeling like too much. The extremely long runtime (even longer if you watch the pre show matches before the main card) causes you to dread the whole thing even more. This rewatch has been an exercise in patience that I don’t have and that WrestleMania 32 doesn’t deserve
Kue: Rewatching Mania 32, I didn’t remember it being so lackluster. Though, I think watching it live with the Clashy gang definitely compensated. Objectively, this is one of the most forgettable Manias in history save one match: the Women’s title triple threat. It felt like the headliner and, for all intents and purposes, should have been the main event. It was the only match that really felt like the culmination of a long term storyline (the rebranding and re-validation of the women’s division) culminating in the three best women wrestlers on the main roster fighting for the newly christened and aptly prestigious Women’s Championship.
The rest of the card was, as stated, pretty much a throwaway. Styles V Jericho was fine, but mediocre compared to their previous encounters in the previous two months. The IC Title ladder match was good, but still not up to the expectations set by the wrestlers involved (though, Ryder winning was definitely an…interesting, if not wasted, booking decision). And the car crashthat was Reigns V Trips wasn’t even close to the entertaining car crash that Orton V Batista at Mania 30 potentially could have been.
Personally, 32 was a great experience. Objectively, the show was all sorts of meh.
Sanders: Before rewatching this Wrestlemania, I had remind myself that this was a card held together by duct tape almost to the levels of UFC 200. The rumor for the longest time that the main event was suppose to have been a championship triple threat with the former members of The Shield but obviously that was scrapped once Seth was injured. Then what followed was a slew of injuries to seemingly everyone WWE was interested in for Wrestlemania plans (John Cena). All of that on-top of WWE not really wanting to foot the insurance bill for Rock to be involved in a match around the time of him filming movies. What we ended up with was a massive venue and a card that definitely had the potential to match up with said massive venue but it certainly wasn’t the card WWE originally wanted.
The preshow was quite forgettable and I mean that in every sense of the word because I literally forgot about every match that took place on the preshow. The only thing I remembered about it was Lita unveiled the new Women’s Championship and I remembered how elated I was with WWE doing away with the ‘Diva’ moniker and how impressed I was with the new belt, not knowing how it would later become the template for just about every title redesign months later.
The IC ladder match has been a great opener the last two Wrestlemanias and again featured full-time wrestlers that would’ve otherwise fallen through the cracks of WM build-up and pretty much each participant got a quick showcase with Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn taking on most of the workload. In the end, Zack Ryder winning was a great surprise and felt like this was Vince saying “here, smarks, take that and be happy and don’t crap on my main event.” But 5 hours is a long time to remember such a gift…
I would never said that Jericho/AJ was a disappointment but it definitely wasn’t what the match could’ve been. AJ hadn’t quite hit his stride within WWE (although he found said stride the next month against Roman at the next PPV) and Jericho just wasn’t in the shape he’s use to, something that seemed to finally be solved around the time Jericho finished his next feud against Dean Ambrose. The feud itself had run out of gas about a month prior so the only real excitement I had at the time was surrounding watching AJ’s first Wrestlemania. In the end, AJ lost in a way that almost felt like Sting losing to HHH the year before. This was the “we’re so glad you have you in WWE but how dare you compete against us for so many years, you’re losing your first Wrestlemania match and we’ll make sure your finisher gets a kick-out” treatment. Luckily AJ has skyrocketed since and deserves to be in the main event at Wrestlemania 33. That’s gonna happen, right?
The New Day being defeated by the League of Nations felt like a little bit of a slap in the face to all the progress New Day had made in the year previous but at least the championship wasn’t on the line. The match really just felt like an excuse to get New Day out there with Stone Cold, HBK and Foley. Also it gave me of my favorite moments where Big E lowkey scooped up one of Stone Cold’s beers and starting sneaking a few sips…in front of 100,000 people.
The biggest disappointment was definitely Brock/Dean because was the epitome of the result not coming close to expectations. First of all, it was super short and lacked any offense from Dean Ambrose. We now know that was all due to Brock trying to stay healthy for a one-off return to UFC a few months later. However, if that was the end result then it shouldn’t have been billed as a street fight because it’s a stipulation that evens the playing field for Ambrose. WWE also made it a point of Dean getting the endorsement of several WWE legends as well as showcasing several weapons, each of which would make an appearance (the weapons) in the match but none would be used.
In a world where WWE is so quick to do “first ever” things, you would think they would’ve made the women’s championship the main event as it well deserved to be. It was the only match of the night that lived up to the hype and then some. The only thing that would’ve made the match perfect would be tweaking the finish. I’m not even talking about Sasha winning instead (although it felt like it was the right time to pull that trigger), I’m speaking mostly to having the win be clean and not involve Ric Flair. However, I do understand that if you’re gonna have Flair out there, you’d better use Flair (interesting how they didn’t follow that same rule with weapons Ambrose brought out in the match before).
Aside from the cage dive, Shane/Undertaker was a snoozefest and that was the moment where I really, fully noticed just how duct-taped this card was. Yes, it was good to see Shane doing Shane things once again but Shane is always at his best when he’s going up against someone that can carry the match and Undertaker is at an age where he just can’t do that anymore. The spot was incredible and definitely worth doing but it was the thing we were all waiting for and they took forever to get there and took too long to end the match after the fact.
The Andre was another indicator of all the injuries as the battle royal was reduced to 20 men and featured appearances like Tatanka (a true sign of scrapping the bottom of the barrel). Ultimately, it was good to see someone use the Andre win as a career builder for more than a couple months. When Cesaro won, WWE brushed it to the back on their minds as soon as they could and Big Show posed alongside the trophy a couple times but that was it. With Baron Corbin, it’s been almost a year and it’s still being brought up when he shows up on Smackdown. Granted, Corbin wasn’t really booked well until the brand split but it’s good that some weight actually came with winning the match this time around.
They just finished talking about how women will be treated the same as men in WWE and how the strides WWE has made in women’s wrestling was celebrated and that was followed up by the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders! Granted I’m sure this was probably part of some deal Jerry Jones made with Vince. And there has never been someone that has wasted as much time during Wrestlemania as The Rock. It was long, ridiculous, meaningless and masturbatory (specifically that damn flame thrower and that giant “Rock” sign). I will say this, Cena making the surprise save did actually get a pop out of me as I was legit surprised. Other than that, what a waste but it’s still not as bad as Rock’s pep rally to start Wrestlemania 27.
Talking about a waste of time, this main event is borderline unwatchable. The fans in the building gave up and I’m sure the fans that would’ve actually enjoyed that ending had already fallen asleep because either the match put them to sleep or it was beyond their bedtime. Sure, the ending was unexpected but by the time it happened, everyone had mentally tuned out and didn’t care. Even with the large group I watched the show with had most of the attendees leave halfway through the main event because they’re adults with real jobs and can’t justify watching wrestling until midnight.
WWE finally ended a Wrestlemania the way they wanted with Roman winning and they were met with boo’s and severe lack of interest which would cause most rational individuals to reassess the proverbial gameplan.
The true disheartening thing came the next night at the open of Raw with JBL looking right into the camera and telling the audience at home that the crowd isn’t going to respond the way they “should” but they only did that not because they dislike what they’re watching but because they’re “just having fun.” It’s becoming the topic of a lot of discussion lately that Wrestlemania isn’t “for us,” meaning the dedicated wrestling fans but rather the occasional fan or non-fan that just so happened to be watching Wrestlemania and that’s where WWE has it backwards because they’re playing almost exclusively to those watching at home and not those in the building. The lukewarm wrestling fans aren’t going to break the bank to attend Wrestlemania, it’s the dedicated that do so and WWE is knowingly ignoring them in an attempt to grab at fans that aren’t going to give two craps about WWE in a week or two.
And this isn’t an indictment of Roman Reigns and the massive amount of talent he possesses but rather WWE’s stubbornness to refuse to change course when their main event isn’t working the way they want even though they’re so quick to pull the plug on anything else that doesn’t seem to work out. Two things they’ve proven to “remain the course” on to their detriment: Roman being incorrectly booked every week and David Otunga on commentary.
BD: I actually went down to Greensboro to hang out with the Classy Ring Attire crew and my partner Kue. Being from Canada, I’d not been exposed to alternate flavours of Mountain Dew (let alone ones called “Voltage”) nor various other doses of sugar and slat not legal where I’m from.
It’s funny how much changed this year, for the better, looking at this show.
Kalisto (c) defeated Ryback
Ryback is a complete waste of time so I’m glad he lost this match. I was sure they’d feed Kalisto to this roided up immobile fuckface. I’m so glad Ryback is gone. Did you see that loser actually has a book out? I actually want to read it just to see how horrible it is.
And thinking about how horrible it is has completely killed my motivation to remember anything about this match, which isn’t worth remembering anyway because it had Ryback in it. Moving on.
Team Total Divas (Brie Bella, Paige, Natalya, Alicia Fox, and Eva Marie) defeated Team B.A.D. and Blonde (Lana, Naomi, Tamina, Emma, and Summer Rae) by submission
I also remember nothing about this other than Lana doing better than anyone thought, and the match as a whole not being as much of a clusterfuck as 10-people matches can obviously be. I also remember this dawning the realization that WWE has more talented women on the roster (other than the Bellas, obviously) than, like, ever.
The Usos (Jimmy Uso and Jey Uso) defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley)
People complained about the old guys coming back, but I don’t know, I thought The Dudleys could still go. I thought for sure they’d get a nostalgia run with the belts, but I liked both teams – that said, this was also before the Usos got more interesting this year. I remember this being decent.
Zack Ryder defeated Kevin Owens (c), Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, Stardust, The Miz, and Sin Cara
Ladder match for the WWE Intercontinental Championship
Ahahahahaha. I read this and thought they got the winner wrong, then I remembered that WWE hates Zack Ryder, and the only people they hate more than Zack Ryder are Zack Ryder fans. Especially since he lost it to Miz. Even losing to Cody would have had less shame.
Aside from that, I remember this being a LOT of fun, and the totally unexpected Ryder win only added to that.
Chris Jericho defeated AJ Styles
This was before Chris Jericho started doing the best work he’s done in 10 years, regardless this still made no sense given where AJ was at the time. Luckily, AJ still had the best first year of anyone ever not named Brock Lesnar in 2002, so it’s not like I can complain.
I remember this match being decent but certainly not up to the standard of what Styles can do, as anyone who saw him before or after this knows.
The League of Nations (Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, and Rusev) (with King Barrett) defeated The New Day (Big E, Kofi Kingston, and Xavier Woods)
Ahahahaha. I legitimately forgot League Of Nations existed. It’s nice that Wade Barrett is gone, but I do miss current TNA World Champion Alberto Del Rio. That’s one guy that could actually make me give TNA a shot again. Plus Homicide is back. And now I’m just talking about TNA instead of this match, because the corpse of TNA is more interesting to me than trying to remember a match that only conjures up images of a giant box of Booty-O’s in my head.
Brock Lesnar (with Paul Heyman) defeated Dean Ambrose
I was legitimately more excited about this match than any other match on the card… keep in mind this was before they completely decimated Brock’s legitimacy by jobbing him out multiple times to a 50-something year old man who hadn’t wrestled in a decade and who’s matches weren’t even good back then. Dean had a ton of legitimacy going into this as well, coming off a hot run at the title.
Back when Brock was legitimate, I didn’t even think Dean had to beat him to look good. Brock just had to stomp his asshole in his sternum and Dean still had to manage to get close to look like a badass. Not an incredibly hard task. If Dean won, all the much better.
What we got was basically a really disappointing squash. Not disappointing because of either guy, just disappointing because the buildup of both guys and the buildup of the feud made it look like it was going to be so much more.
Fortunately everyone knew even at the time that we were going into an INCREDIBLY disappointing main event, so no one minded too much.
Triple threat match for the inaugural WWE Women’s Championship
Charlotte (with Ric Flair) defeated Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks
What they did with the women here really set the tone for what they’d do with them down the road. Many thought this was Sasha’s time and that not giving her the belt here was a mistake – myself included – but much like AJ, you can’t really complain about the treatment of Sasha or Charlotte following this.
Becky Lynch is still my favourite. Probably the best Women’s match they’ve ever done at Mania.
Hell in a Cell match
The Undertaker defeated Shane McMahon
This was dumb. Shane had zero chance of beating Undertaker, everyone knew it, and it made the incredibly obtuse stipulation and Hell In The Cell worthless other than everyone was waiting for the moment when Shane would kill himself.
And kill himself he did.
Which is fine, but 30 minutes and months of buildup is not worth it for a single spot. Not to mention, they ignored the incredibly obtuse stipulation (I refuse to look up specifically what it was) the very next night anyway. Thereby making Shane’s suicide meaningless.
20-man battle royal for the André the Giant Memorial Trophy
Baron Corbin won by last eliminating Kane
Since the tone had long been set for the winner of this having an incredibly disappointing year, it was no surprise that Corbin won this. He seems to be growing on some now, but I personally don’t see it. He’s not Miz or Shaemus levels of horrible or anything, but still.
Whoever is in this year’s should probably eliminate themselves right off the hop. Looking at you, Dillinger and Creed.
The Rock defeated Erick Rowan (with Bray Wyatt and Braun Strowman)
I like Wyatt’s and Rock is not bad to watch given what he’s there for, but what the fuck was this even?
This was the biggest waste of time at ANY WrestleMania I can remem…
Singles match for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
… and I withdraw my previous statement.
This was a fucking train wreck. Until the bell, I didn’t even know if they’d had the balls to go through with it and basically kill themselves on another pull of the trigger with Roman.
Kill themselves they did.
I really don’t know what to say about it that hasn’t already been said. It was horrible, all the way from them doing everything but having HHH come to the ring with ISIS to get Roman booed to going as long as the previous ice age. This match could be an entire WWE era unto itself. It’s like… the Hogan Era, the New Generation, Attitude, Ruthless Aggression, Modern, Roman / HHH at WM33, and the current era, Recovery From Roman / HHH at WM33.
Certainly one of the worst main events in WrestleMania history, rivalling Cena / Mia and Sid / Undertaker.
I think we can all agree WWE has gotten a LOT better in recent years, but oddly, as it does, WrestleMania itself seems to have gotten worse. Whether that’s because it’s the one thing Vince is still holding on to or because they still think it’s drawing in “casual fans” (it’s not) I don’t know.
If it makes you feel any better, this year they’ll be main eventing with Goldberg / Lesnar or ROMAN / UNDERTAKER. That has a chance of being MUCH worse.
Thank God I was down there with my boys for this, or I’d have almost no good memories of this show.
Tags: Brock Lesnar, clashy ring attire, dean ambrose, HHH, John Cena, Rock, Roman Reigns, Shane McMahon, undertaker, WrestleMania, Wyatt Family