WWE WrestleMania XXXII (4/3/2016)- Dallas, TX
WWE UNITED STATES TITLE MATCH: Kalisto(c) vs. Ryback- 6.5/10
They did a great job of incorporating the story of the feud into the story of the match.
Of course we had to have a commercial in the middle of it to advertise the Taker vs. Shane match. You know… because someone who ALREADY HAS THE WWE NETWORK AND IS ALREADY WATCHING THE KICK-OFF SHOW somehow might not be sure if they should stick around for the main card. The pre-show is TWO HOURS LONG, during which I’m sure we will see this same video package many more times. Did they really need to show it in the middle of this match? This company is so infuriating.
Jerry Lawler made fun of Hayabusa’s name. Has it even been a month since he passed away?
Apparently devaluing the term “WrestleMania moment” isn’t confined to regular WWE commentators because Lita did it, too, declaring this win for Kalisto, which felt no different than any other win, to be a “WrestleMania moment.”
There is a guy walking around with a sign that said “What has Roman ever done for us?” Python for the win!
THE PRE-SHOW PANEL SPECULATES ABOUT HOW THE ROCK MIGHT “MAKE HISTORY” TONIGHT- yeah… I don’t need this sh*t. Fifty bucks says Dwayne will try to take credit for somehow helping draw tonight’s “biggest crowd in WWE history.”
TEAM TOTAL DIVAS (Brie Bella, Alicia Fox, Natalya, Paige, & Eva Marie) vs. TEAM B.A.D. & BLONDE (Naomi, Tamina, Summer Rae, Emma, & Lana)- 3.75/10
There was a Total Divas commercial in the middle of this match, in case anyone who is watching the pre-show of WrestleMania doesn’t know about Total Divas yet.
Eva didn’t look terrible in there. The fans still didn’t like her. The match was exactly what you’d expect. It was fine in some spots and rough in others. Brie gets the win with the Yes Lock to make the crowd happy, although if they really wanted to do this right they would have had her make Lana tap instead of Naomi. Nikki comes out to celebrate with Brie. Lawler tells us that this is totally a WrestleMania moment here on the pre-show with a bunch of empty seats in a match no one cared about because after years of sh*t not working WWE still hasn’t learned that you can’t force these things (and the more you try to force it, the harder it becomes.
LITA UNVEILS THE WOMEN’S TITLE- yeah… I hated this for a few reasons:
1. Her promo felt so phony. It was a combination of corporate buzzwords, words she clearly didn’t write, and her talking about an experience that, even if it was real, felt phony in context. I mean… does anyone really believe that Lita first became a wrestling fan after watching Cyndi Lauper and Wendy Richter at WrestleMania I? I certainly didn’t believe it, so I did some checking and it turns out that in many other places she has said that she first became a wrestling fan after watching Rey Mysterio Jr. wrestle on Nitro.
2. The reason that she had to say all of that is that Lita is a woman, and as we all know, only women can be fans of other women, only women can inspire other women, and only women can talk about other women. So she gives this phony-sounding speech name dropping a million different women who have been inspirations because as we all know, no woman has ever been inspired by a man before or visa-versa.
This sort of attitude, while WWE thinks they are being inclusive by having a woman come out and talk about women is actually counter-productive because it subtly splits things along gender lines (or more specifically, it tells young boys that this is “girl stuff” and they shouldn’t care about it. There really isn't an analogous situation the other way because there isn’t really enough of a female presence on the show for young girls to stick around and be fans at all if they aren’t into some of the men’s wrestling). The fact that WWE sees women’s wrestling as something whose interest is split along gender lines shows that they have once again completely missed the point on why the women’s division got over on NXT and why their “Divas Revolution” failed. The NXT women’s division got over specifically because it wasn’t promoted along gender lines. It wasn’t portrayed as “women’s wrestling.” It was just wrestling with female competitors and it was pushed as being just as important as the wrestling with male competitors. To call special attention to it being “women’s wrestling”- even if your intent is to make it special- marginalizes it.
3. If you’re going to have a new belt that replaces that hideous butterfly thing and we’re scraping the atrocious “Divas” Title moniker because everyone hates it, why wouldn’t you have one of the babyfaces win the belt tonight and then have her come out on Raw tomorrow night and say she doesn’t want this butterfly toy bullsh*t belt. She wants a real “women’s” title like The Fabulous Moolah and Alundra Blazye Trish Stratus and Lita had! Imagine the pop that would get, especially from the WrestleMania weekend crowd. Why just randomly unveil this belt when you know it will get an even bigger pop and be more beneficial to your new top babyface to have her demand a new belt instead?
Sorry for the rant. Now back to the show.
THE USOS vs. THE DUDLEY BOYS- 4/10
Okay. Now back to the ranting:
These guys got f*cked SOOO badly on time. It’s a f*cking six-hour show and they can’t give these guys more than five minutes? COME ON! After the match, the Dudleys jump the Usos and try to put them through tables but the Usos put the Dudleys through tables instead. Yeah. That was totally worth the seven weeks’ worth of build. Sh*t like this is why this company is in the shape it’s in. They don’t give a sh*t about the undercard so they give them a bunch of five minute segments to build up to a five minute match even though they had more than enough time to give them the fifteen minutes they could have made this great in.
LADDER MATCH FOR THE WWE INTERCONTINENTAL TITLE: Kevin Owens(c) vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. The Miz vs. Sin Cara vs. Zack Ryder vs. Sami Zayn- 8/10
The biggest pops were for Owens and Zayn, and every time they came near each other, the place went nuts. Stardust had a black and yellow polka-dotted ladder in honor of Dusty. This was pretty much standard ladder match fare with the usual big bumps and ladder spots.
Owens took a disturbingly scary bump from a half-nelson suplex onto a ladder and didn’t seem to be moving much afterwards. I hope he’s okay. The finish was a well-executed multi-layered rug-pulling and certainly made for a both surprising and memorable moment, but to be honest I don’t see what the point of it was. I’m not disputing that Ryder has worked so hard for so many years and that he definitely deserved something like this, but having it come at the expense of Zayn and Owens seemed like a big mistake to me. I guess we’ll see what they do with it going forward.
AJ STYLES vs. CHRIS JERICHO- 8.75/10
Amazing match! Everything built perfectly and they had some completely crazy false finishes simply because there was stuff you’d think there was no way in hell they were kicking out of. This is certainly a night unexpected things happening. I expect this result to me the most hotly-debated for years to come.
ZACK RYDER PROMO- awesome.
NEW DAY PROMO- their entrance was coming out of a big box of Booty-O’s. It was horrible. Even worse was their Saiyan armor. They looked like cosplayers, not pro wrestling superstars. Cole said that Xavier Woods was “obviously” Vegeta. How much do you want to bet that Michael Cole had never even heard of Vegeta until sometime today?
THE NEW DAY vs. THE LEAGUE OF NATIONS (w/Wade Barrett)- 6.75/10
Wasn’t this supposed to be a handicap match? Ah, who cares? We finally got a result that I wanted (although it does keep up the streak of unexpected results on the main card). They had your standard tag team match.
COUNTER-PRODUCTIVE POST-MATCH SEGMENT- Wade starts to cut a promo about how great the League of Nations is when Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, and Stone Cold show up (big pops for all, but especially Austin) and walk down to the ring (or, in Foley’s case, limp). Then New Day pulled one of the heels out of the ring and the three old men then beat up the three current stars because that’s definitely productive. You want to make Heath Slater look like a punk? Fine. Don’t do it to the guys who are theoretically your number two full-time heels (behind Owens). Once again WWE buries current at the expense of guys who will never wrestle again in an attempt to manufacture another “WrestleMania moment.”
Then they all danced. Then Austin attacked Xavier Woods for no reason. Then the legends all had a beer bash. Between Byron, Cole, and JBL, they must have said the words “WrestleMania moment” or “unforgettable” “incredible moment” or the like at least five times during this.
WWE NETWORK COMMERICAL- this might have gone longer than the entire Usos vs. Dudleys match.
STREET FIGHT: Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman)- 7.5/10
The stuff they did in the beginning was all very good. Then Dean Ambrose pulled out a chainsaw, presumably in an attempt to murder Brock. Aside from the obvious moral problem here, this created a second problem, which was that every time Dean was wasting time looking for random sh*t under the ring, I couldn’t help but ask why he didn’t just go get the chainsaw. Overall, a good weapons match, but nothing particularly crazy or spectacular or WrestleMania-ish, either.
WWE DIVAS TITLE MATCH (which is also for the newly-established WWE Women’s Title): Charlotte(c) (w/Ric Flair) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks- 8.5/10
Sasha got a live musical entrance that included Snoop Dogg improvising lyrics for the verses while the actual singer of her entrance theme did the chorus. That right there justified Snoop’s place in the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. This was the sort of thing that makes a show feel bigger.
Becky’s gear looked hideous, and that feather in her hair looked ridiculous once the match got underway. It looked like she had a piece of metal sticking out of her skull.
This was an awesome three-way with tons of great three-way spots. They told your standard three-way story, but that story never fails. They also had a series of awesome dives, including one where Becky took Flair out which got a HUGE pop. Unfortunately, this didn’t take Ric out of the finish, which was the only real misstep in this match in my opinion (aside from that one botch earlier on where Sasha WAY overshot). The finish saw Charlotte make Becky tap to the Figure Eight while Ric grabbed Sasha’s ankle to prevent her from breaking it up. I feel like we’ve seen that finish WAY too often in this feud and Charlotte retaining the title over Becky because of Ric Flair made it feel like nothing has advanced in months.
During and especially after the match, the announcers were careful to refer to what we saw as “women’s wrestling” between “Superstars” (not “Divas”). So are they now going to be calling the women’s matches “women’s wrestling” but still try to avoid the term “wrestling” for men’s matches?
HELL IN A CELL MATCH IN WHICH IF SHANE WINS HE GETS CONTROL OF RAW AND UNDERTAKER CAN NEVER WRESTLE AT WRESTLEMANIA AGAIN: Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker- 8.75/10
Shane’s kids coming out as part of his entrance was really cute. The problem is that “cute” is the not the mood you want to set for a Hell in a Cell match with pretty much everything at stake.
They started it off with some fighting inside the cell, but once they got out of the cell it was a fantastically-paced build-up of escalating big spots until the big finish. Basically, it was everything you expected.
ANDRE THE GIANT MEMORIAL BATTLE ROYALE- 5.25/10
First we got the jobber entrance (did I see Baron Corbin there?). Mark Henry gets his own entrance because we’re in Texas. Kane gets his own entrance because he’s awesome. DDP got his own entrance because he was their big surprise. Big Show got his own entrance because he’s the Big Show.
OH F*CK IT’S SHAQ! WE’RE FINALLY GETTING BIG SHOW VS. SHAQ!
Who is the guy with the blue face-paint? Is that… Tatanka?
So once we got the Big Show vs. Shaq thing out of the way by having everyone eventually gang up on them and eliminate them, the match started in earnest. The match was really fun. They teased the Social Outcasts doing well, but that was quickly corrected. The final two were Kane and Corbin and Corbin won by sneaking up behind Kane and eliminating him right after Kane had eliminated some other people.
A PERFORMANCE BY THE DALLAS COWBOYS CHEERLEADERS- yes really. On the same show that WWE pats themselves on the back for how they are taking women’s wrestling seriously now, they also bring out the cheerleaders for a completely pointless dance routine.
THE ROCK SHOWS UP- he brought a flamethrower for some reason. Oh. It’s to set this pointless flammable “ROCK” gimmick on fire. That was a waste of money.
THE ROCK PROMO- you know… when the rest of us pleasure ourselves, we have the courtesy to do it in private. Not Dwayne, though. He’s got to do it in front of everyone, with an army of cheerleaders to watch him. He announced the attendance record, which I accurately predicted would be the “history” he would claim to help make.
Then the Wyatts showed up. It’s been almost two years since the last time I was happy to see the Wyatt Family, but if they beat the sh*t out of this obnoxious, arrogant egomaniacal douchebag, they will be my new favorite act on the roster. Even Braun Strowman.
Bray cuts a promo saying he’ll beat Rock up. Then Rock gets to make fun of the Wyatts for five minutes. Then Bray gets one line in response. Then The Rock challenged one of the Wyatts to a MATCH, right here, right now. Like an actual match. And what a lucky break that he just so happened to have his gear on under his clothes… including his elbow pads and kneepads.
So WWE had THE ROCK set up for a WrestleMania match… and they didn’t promote it in any way? That seems like the opposite of what is “best for business.”
THE ROCK vs. ERICK ROWAN (w/the Wyatt Family)- DUD!
Dwayne hit Rowan with a Rock Bottom and pinned him in six seconds. Way to bury the talent. Then the Wyatts were menacing Dwayne so John Cena showed up to make the save and they easily beat up the Wyatts. Between the three Wyatts, they got to hit a combined total of zero offensive moves. If you’re going to bury someone this way, why not use jobbers like the Social Outcasts instead of an act that actually somewhat matters like the Wyatts? I hope everyone remembers this segment when WWE tries build up to Wyatt vs. Lesnar.
This whole thing was a gigantic waste of time that appears to have been done completely to stroke Dwayne’s gigantic ego. Cena could have returned to save anyone.
WWE WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT TITLE MATCH: Triple H(c) (w/Stephanie McMahon) vs. Roman Reigns- 7/10
Hunter’s entrance started off with this speech by Steph that so over the top that it was completely laughter-inducing. Then Hunter made his entrance, which was him and Steph flanked by a bunch of… albino Red Skulls, all carrying replica title belts. Also, I think Steph might have stolen Tamina’s clothes.
Massive boos for Roman, as expected. More than for anyone else on the show. Even Eva Marie. Hunter worked the arm, but that got forgotten towards the end for a story of Steph and Hunter trying to cheat (and the ref completely failing to do anything about it, no matter how blatant it was). As things went on, a significant part of the crowd devolved into dead heat chants, singing the Ole! song, chanting for Nakamura, and singing that Bayley song that the British fans sing. Steph accidentally ate a spear, which got almost as big a pop as Becky wiping out Flair. The people seemed to warm up to Roman right at the end of the match. Either that or WWE was piping in cheers. This wasn’t embarrassingly bad or anything- in fact, it was quite great- but after everything we had seen before, it felt quite underwhelming.
Despite the several baffling finishes, I think that inside the ring, this will go down as one of the better WrestleManias (especially if you exclude the pre-show)- almost certainly in the top ten, if not the top five. That being said, I do feel the need to point out that the in-ring success of this show does not refute any of the criticisms that most fans had going into the show. Creative did not help this show succeed; this show succeeded despite Creative. This WrestleMania succeeded solely because of the wrestlers.