Wrestlemania 32 is divisive Mania to say the least. Several of WWE’s biggest stars had been struck down with injuries and this would be the beginning of their insistence on cramming as many people as they could onto the card.
But is it really as bad as people make it out to be? Is it just because it’s still recent? Let’s take a look.
There were 3 matches on the kick off show.
The first big question that should be raised was whose idea it was to have Kalisto defend the US title against Ryback when the arena was only half full? I get having the US title on the show and it was clearly to give Kalisto, who they were trying to make the next Rey Mysterio, a big Mania moment. Usually I like the big man vs the smaller man matches but this was not one of those times. Ryback had one foot out the door at this point.
The one saving grace about the 10 women’s tag is that we had the triple threat to come later. A few years prior this would have been the only women’s match on the card. Even then it wouldn’t have lasted as long as this did.
The Dudley Boys being on the kick off showed how far they’d fallen in the 8 months since their return. This should have been a great moment for the Uso’s by establishing them as top tag team beating these legends. Instead it felt like a RAW match added to an already full card.
This should have been a table match to play into the Dudleys refusal to use the tables again. It would have also made the post-match make sense.
Intercontinetal Championship Ladder match
The line up was strange at the time, but it looks even stranger now considering where most of these men are now. We had Kevin Owens defending against Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler, The Miz, Stardust, Sin Cara and Zack Ryder. The one that stands out most is Cody, who has gone from being trapped in a gimmick he hated to starting up his own promotion. The Polka dots on his gear was a nice touch.
It’s fitting that we recently did a show on the best Mania openers as this has to be up there with the best of them. While there wasn’t a story, it did what an opening match should do in terms of hyping up the crowd. I put it over the previous years ladder match in terms of the spots.
I still remember me and my brother Ross watching this with a group of mostly casual fans and being the only ones happy when Zack won. We were fans Long Island Iced Z since 2011 so for us, it was a feel-good moment and you expect those at WrestleMania. Sadly it would turn out to be bitter sweet considering it would only last 24 hours. It’s funny how the idea of Miz winning seemed awful back now and now he’s one of best IC champions of all time.
Chris Jericho vs AJ Styles
A result a lot of people hated at the time but it didn’t really matter, considering how much AJ has done in WWE since then and Jericho would have the best run of his career that year alongside Kevin Owens.
They’d had a few matches in the months prior to this but I think here is where they really found their grove and had the most chemistry.
League of Nations vs New Day
Why this wasn’t for the tag team titles I’ll never understand. It was nice that Woods got more of a showing than he usually would as he is often the man on the outside.
League of Nations with a bit of effort could have been something. It’s clear that Sheamus and Rusev are trying to make it work to little avail. The fact that they won only to be beat up by a team of legends afterwards and lose a tag title match the next night makes no sense. Especially given how over New Day were and still are.
Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose: Street Fight
If Ambrose is leaving after this year’s Mania, then this is made even sadder. This was Ambrose’s only one on one watch on the main Mania card – his match the next year would be moved to the Kick off – and it failed to live up to the build.
They teased in the weeks prior abot all these weapon spots that never happened. The first five minutes followed the typical format of a Brock Lesnar match with nothing but suplexs. If they’d just gone a bit more all out, they could have made Ambrose look defiant in defeat. He was made to look so weak at a time when his popularity as a singles star was at its peak.
Charlotte Flair vs Sasha Banks vs Becky Lynch for the WWE Women’s Championship
For me this was match of the night. It’s interesting that two of these women, after stealing the show here, will be main eventing this year’s Mania.
This was the first time a women’s title match on the main roster was made to feel like a big deal. They gave them the time to show why. It was weird to see Ric Flair bump when Becky dived on him. I’d have been happy with any of them winning but I think Sasha should have won. Her and Charlotte was the main rivalry in the women’s division at the time and having her first Women’s championship win come at Mania would have felt more appropriate than doing it on a Raw which they did several times that year.
The Undertaker vs Shane McMahon – Hell in a Cell Match
The biggest indication of how the injuries affected the card. Shane’s return was exciting but there was no believable way he was going to beat Taker.
It went way longer than it should have and both men were gassed early on. The cell added nothing except to give Shane something high to jump off. This is not a match that benefits from a second viewing.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
The only reason this was on the main show was to have the showdown between Shaq and Big Show with the intention of setting up a match that never happened. It was nice to see Corbin make his main roster debut at Mania and win the battle royal. Shame he didn’t do much in the months following.
I won’t lie, part of me wanted Kane to win.
The Rock vs Erick Rowan
Don’t get me wrong, I like seeing the Rock as much as the next guy. However, if you want the Rock on the show, actually give him something to do. This felt like filler on a show that was already going too long.
Whilst the Wyatt Family had been harmed by booking before this, this didn’t do them any favours whatsoever.
Roman Reigns vs Triple H for the WWE Championship
It’s not fair to compare Roman to Cena but they booked him similar to how Cena was booked here, taking a lot of punishment before making his heroic comeback. They should have gone right after each other at the start of this instead starting with headlocks.
It’s a shame to see the main event of the biggest show of the year showered with boos. As great as the Rollins cash in was the year prior, they could have avoided this if they gave Roman the belt at that point.
Apart from the ladder match and the triple threat this was one of the weaker WrestleMania’s. While it had the spectacle, there were too many poor booking decisions. It’s only been three years, but time has not been kind on this show. Let’s see if our panel can book it any better.
See here how just how our panel would rebook Wrestlemania 32.
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