Wrestlemania 32 Thoughts

Big SurRight, so I’ve just watched Wrestlemania 32. All 27 hours of it. I was going to tweet stuff, but I ended up writing so much that I figured it would be easier to post it all here in chronological order – and that way anyone who’s not seen the show yet won’t get spoiled by a tweet.

That arena is vast. VAST. I can’t even comprehend being in somewhere that HUGE with so many people in it. Just a sea of humanity. And props to WWE, because it looks top class too. The star stage with animated floor, the constructions above and around the ring, the lot. Fantastic. This is a spectacle. The shows of shows. I’m excited. 

The intercontinental title ladder match is out first. I’ve got mixed feelings about it. On one hand, it’s a guaranteed way to start the show with a bang – who doesn’t enjoy, at least on a superficial level, a match like this? Loads of dudes throwing themselves around with ladders. On the other hand, it’s lazy: the annual “we cba to write anything for these guys so stick them in a ladder match” scenario. Most of them are great workers, and most of them deserve better.

That said, I did like the match. It told a decent story and didn’t feel too cluttered or botchy – it was almost “less is more”, with a solid flow and several good spots, rather than a big mess of people.

I particularly enjoyed Sami diving through the ladder, Cara coming off the ropes and then diving onto Stardust through a ladder, and the multiple teased winners at the end. Zayn slamming Owens headfirst onto a ladder near the end was *brutal*.

I actually found several moments here quite emotional. It’s the look on people’s faces when they come onto the stage and see the crowd. When they properly see Wrestlemania. Zayn, Owens and Ryder all looked incredible as they made their way to the ring. Sasha did it later on. So did Becky. You can see on their faces that dreams are being fulfilled right in front of us. And then there’s Cody, with his polka dot gear and his polka dot ladder. You can see how much tonight meant to him, which is just… well. It’s a special moment. (Thanks Chris!)

FUCKING RYDER WON IT!!!!! That was my pick before the match, but I would have put money on it not happening. The guy deserves it. I felt quite emotional about him winning, knowing how hard he’s worked to get to this point. An unexpected conclusion, sure, but entirely satisfying.

Woo Woo Woo

Styles v Jericho was decent and ramped up to a solid, well-paced conclusion, but I hope in the future Styles has a match against someone who can keep up. I love Jericho, but he’s getting on and can’t perform like he did a decade ago.

I’m not sure how Jericho winning helps either man really, either. Jericho doesn’t need to be built up for a title challenge and Styles isn’t helped by losing his Mania debut and rubber match against a guy who only really comes back to job to younger talent.

Ryder interview after his win, awwwww

Omg everything about the New Day entrance! The giant box of Booty-Os! It’s actually got cereal in it! IT’S GOT THE NEW DAY IN IT! LOOK AT THEIR OUTFITS!

The match was alright. Typical New Day v League of Nations, to be honest. Like the ladder match, far too much talent is being wasted on a multi-man match that wouldn’t look out of place on Raw.

I popped for HBK, Mick Foley and Stone Cold, because why wouldn’t you? Those nostalgic moments are part of every Wrestlemania and this was a good ‘un.

The Beast Incarnate. Sometimes.

I really liked the top-down view of the trippy square pattern for Dean Ambrose’s entrance, and then how the camera panned down to him. It’s a bit like his standard Raw entrance on steroids.

The ease with with Lesnar just launches people is always, always impressive.

But, despite his impressive physical feats, it remains the case that Lesnar is a professional. He turns up, he earns his money, he goes home. Everyone knows that, and it’s worked into his character, but that has a downside. His feuds take on similar flavours and lack the emotional hook that proves really engaging. He’s a special attraction but I think the luster is beginning to wear off.

On the other hand, Heyman is just incredible. From his “omg” on the mic when he was first taking in the crowd to his shocked look when Ambrose pulled out the chainsaw to screaming “how can that be legal!?” when Dean used a fire extinguisher. He’s top class. I wish he’d manage some more talents – and I wish it was done properly – so he could be on TV every week.

Because Lesnar’s lack of real passion for the business meant his match with Ambrose was underwhelming. A streetfight thrives on a passionate, personal blood feud, and this wasn’t it. I didn’t feel much fire. The match itself was typical WWE street fight stuff, too – kendo sticks, chairs, and that’s about it. More extreme things were teased and didn’t happen. There’s only so much you can do when a bloke is only there for a payday and won’t take many risks.

Like a Boss

It was only fitting that the women’s match made every fighter feel like a star after the WWE introduced the new women’s title belt. Becky’s arena full of smoke, Snoop Dogg rapping Sasha to the ring amid confetti, Charlotte coming down with Ric and with fireworks and an incredible robe.

They all look like stars, and they all look like different kinds of starts. Becky is quirky, Sasha is modern, and Charlotte looks like an old-school star from an older era. They all looked incredible.

I was taken off-guard by Charlotte winning – I was expecting Sasha – but it gives Sasha an incredible goal to chase and the finish was proper heel. I wouldn’t be surprised if they held off for her first title win until next year’s Mania. It’ll be deserved and hugely emotional.

I thought the match was great. I enjoyed the mix of one-on-one fighting and triple-person spots. Too often in a triple-threat you’ll get mostly one-on-one action with people taken out of the ring for too long with a crap excuse.

So many victory fireworks! This is a BIG DEAL!

Please Don’t Die

Time for Hell in a Cell. I’ve not been too enthusiastic about this feud. Partly because it doesn’t make much sense, but mostly because I’m worried about Shane. He does crazy, crazy things.

The match is quiet. Quiet and tense. There are some cool spots. But it feels like people are waiting to see what’s going to happen rather than fully buying into what’s happening at the time.

He went off the cell. HE WENT OFF THE DAMN CELL. The cell they made taller so people wouldn’t go off it after Foley.

For the first time in a long time while watching wrestling I just.. I didn’t like that. I didn’t mark. I sat there with my hands over my face and barely watched. There was clearly some sort of padding under the table, and it’s clearly all planned to make it as safe as possible, but god, what was that? Thirty feet? Fort? But just… yeah. It made me uncomfortable. I watched him on top of the cell and I was hoping for a swerve or a run-in or *something* to stop him doing it.

WWE is pushing Wrestlemania Moments like a big branded corporate thing. Everyone talks about it too much. It diminishes its value when it’s manufactured and not organic, but WWE has done that so often for shorter-term gains when things get popular.

Get Everyone On The Card Battle Royale

Looks like the ARMBAR is now the breather match, not the women’s title. That’s great.

Oh hey there’s Baron Corbin

DDP!

I hope big Mark Henry wins in Texas. He’s been with the WWE for so long and deserves it more than most, especially as he’s had to put up with a load of rubbish over the years.

Fucking SHAQ?

Also Tatanka is in there and no one mentioned it? What?

Henry just dumped out like that? Really disappointing tbh.

And then Corbin won. Surprising! I wanted Mark, sure, but if it’s not going to be him then at least it’s a new guy who could use the kudos. Hopefully they don’t waste it. They’ll probably call him up in six months and mention it twice and that’ll be it.

Poor Bray 🙁

Rock’s just come out. I’ve lost track of how long this show is. And it’s not like Rock is brief with his promos these days.

Rock has a huge flamethrower? and he’s set his name on fire. That is kickass

Isn’t it weird how a wrestling ring is a stage? It’s a tiny stage, in the grand scheme of things, but on nights like this it’s the grandest stage of them all. Wrestlemania!

Will that be my thinking if the show ends with Roman standing tall? Maybe he’ll turn heel? Swerve? Something?

101,763 fireflies. That’s one hell of a sight.

But I can’t take Bray Wyatt seriously. I want to, because I love the character and the potential, but I can’t. He seems to be wheeled out every time there’s something involving a legend – mostly because they’ve not got him booked for anything else – and every time he cuts a vague promo and gets beaten down. Rock will make some wisecracks and will stand tall.

Whoa whoa whoa Rock is wrestling??? Jesus!!!

But it’s Rowan 🙁 is that because Wyatt is still hurt? Or so Rowan can take the loss? Oh. There’s a Rock Bottom and that’s it. Record for shortest match. Six seconds. Eh. Hyped up as a sudden match and it’s over, just like that. A cheap trick for a cheap pop.

CENA

CENA

CENA

I’m so glad he’s back. Him and The Rock together is an electric atmosphere and Cena’s presence makes Wrestlemania feel like A Big Deal. But it still makes Wyatts look like chumps. I know there’s a rub to be gained for young guys who work with Hall of Fame talent but it’s still no good if they only ever lose.

Sigh.

Main event time. I’m expecting big change and shenanigans. There’s an incredibly cheesy hype video for Roman that makes him look like a super babyface. He’s got to be turning or SOMETHING has to be happening.

Prediction right now: either Roman turns and joins with the authority and Rollins comes back as a face, or at the end of the match BULLET/BALOR CLUB.

This Triple H entrance is the most OTT thing I have ever seen. Stephanie as dystopian Viking corporate anger goth queen with clones and the like. It’s OTT, sure, but it’s wrestling! And pure heel. Too heel?

There’s immediate boos when Triple H’s music fades away, and then the boos are even louder for Roman. Until WWE has to turn the microphones down to make it seem like he’s not getting booed out of the biggest building I’ve ever seen.

Cool earthquake fireworks entrance, I guess.

As soon as Roman does anything it’s immediate, overwhelming booing. Immediate. WWE can’t go ahead with him as the top guy. How can they be so oblivious?

The sluggish pace and lack of excitement and a storyline that hasn’t really connected reminds me of Triple H v Randy Orton from WM 25.

I’m half-way through the match and it’s so quiet. It’s not the quiet tension of Shane v Undertaker, it’s the quiet of a bored crowd that doesn’t want to see this.

There are NXT chants.

Nakamura chants.

Jordan and Gable chanting.

Olé chants.

Now they’re chanting for Bayley.

Stephanie took a spear. Predictable as soon as she got in the ring and Triple H and the referee were awkwardly in the way. At least it temporarily woke the crowd up.

Sledgehammer. Predictable. But it wasn’t used. Two Superman punches and a spear and it’s over. Yawn.

Surely there’s going to be a swerve. I just looked at the clock and there are six or seven minutes left.

That’s a lot of fireworks. Commentators are selling the ending of the Authority’s rule and the new era of the Roman Empire and the huge celebrations happening in the stadium but they sound bored. And there’s no sound in the stadium at all, because WWE has clearly just turned the microphones right down to drown out the overwhelmingly negative reaction.

And…and that’s how it’s ending? How underwhelming. and disappointing. I’m hoping and expecting for something big on Raw to shake up the main event.

That main event sucked, and I felt like the rest of the show was inconsistent. The Rock went on and his segment with Bray was of limited use, and the Undertaker/Shane match was a build for a huge stunt that made me feel uncomfortable.

I enjoyed the ladder match and loved Zack winning. Y2J/AJ was OK. New Day vs League was OK and helped by the New Day’s entrance and the legends afterwards. Lesnar v Ambrose was a main event from a Network Special house show. The women’s triple threat was great, the ARMBAR was reasonable.

So, yeah. An inconsistent show. I think WWE did better than many expect considering big names like Cena, Rollins, Orton, Sting and Daniel Bryan are out of action alongside midcarders like Cesaro, Harper, Neville and Tyson Kidd. Fair play.

The Raw after Mania is traditionally stellar and traditionally a game-changer. Your move, WWE.

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