Last night, WWE held their 32nd “Showcase of the Immortals” as WrestleMania emanated from just outside Dallas, Texas at AT&T Stadium. Did the event headlined by Roman Reigns vs. Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship live up to the name “WrestleMania”? Well, join me as I breakdown and react to last night’s big event to find out.
I’ll quickly go over the Kickoff Show before we get into the meat and potatoes of WrestleMania.
Kalisto pinned Ryback to retain the United States Championship (**). The match was solid for the time they were given. I wouldn’t mind seeing a longer title match on RAW or SmackDown between these two since I liked the dynamic that was going on between Ryback’s power and Kalisto’s speed. Kalisto won after Ryback smacked his head on the exposed turnbuckle and Kalisto hit Salida Del Sol.
Team Total Divas beat Team BAD and Blonde (*3/4). The match was better than I thought it would be. It was nice to see the “other” Divas in WWE get a decent amount of time at WrestleMania. It was cool to see Brie Bella pay tribute to her husband Daniel Bryan by using the YES Lock to score the win.
The Usos beat The Dudley Boyz (No Rating). The match was too short to mean anything. They came back from commercial and it was over. The Dudleys brought out the tables but ended up getting double Superfly Splashed through them. This just should’ve been a tables match.
The most notable thing from the kickoff was the announcement that the winner of the Divas Championship Triple Threat would now be known as the WWE Women’s Champion with a new title belt. The belt is just like the WWE World Heavyweight Championship only the strap is white. It’s pretty cool if you ask me.
Now onto the main card of WrestleMania.
Zack Ryder won the Intercontinental Championship in a 7 Man Ladder Match (***3/4)
Just like the WrestleMania before it, this was one hell of a way to start the show. I know it was a big shock that Ryder won but betting sites had him listed as the favorite Sunday afternoon so someone was talking. Everyone got a decent amount of time to shine but the crowd really wanted Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Owens is a freaky athlete. He may not look like it but he can do some amazing things in the ring. That frog splash he hit on Zayn while Zayn was on the ladder was crazy. I thought he was dead after Sami suplexed him onto the ladder at the end of the match.
With everyone else out, The Miz thought he was all alone to grab the title and took his sweet time grabbing it and it cost him as Ryder wasn’t done and knocked him off the ladder and grabbed the title to win. Like I said earlier, it’s a shock that Zack won but it makes for a nice story. The man busted his butt to get over in a really unique and creative way only to be buried for the better part of the last five years. It was really cool to see him hug his dad after the match in the ring. What is even cooler is the picture he shared on Twitter after the match. He was at WrestleMania X and took a photo with Razor Ramon after he won the Intercontinental Championship and he posted it side by side with a picture with Ramon after he had just won the title. Talk about coming full circle.
Chris Jericho pinned AJ Styles (***3/4)
I liked that these two tried to do some different things in this match to make it different from their previous three. They were off in a couple of spots but overall a really good match that Jericho won after he caught Styles midair with a Codebreaker.
I thought AJ was a lock to win the match, given he’s the guy that needed to be pushed as Jericho was the veteran, but I guess WWE wants to go to round five with these two. I hope they add a stipulation to their (hopefully) finale in this rivalry. I know this was a match that a lot of people complained about but AJ Styles had one of the best matches of the night against a legend at WrestleMania. There’s nothing to be ashamed of and he’ll win the feud and move onto other things.
The League of Nations beat The New Day (**1/4)
The match ended up being three on three so they could’ve put the titles on the line but since they wanted the LON to win, I get why they didn’t. The New Day coming out of a giant box of cereal was beyond awesome. Sheamus pinned Xavier Woods to score the win for The League. Wade Barrett then got on the mike to say no three men could take down the league and out came Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Stone Cold Steve Austin for your dose of WrestleMania nostalgia.
I heard a lot of complaining that WWE used “three old guys” to bury seven wrestlers but come on people, this is WrestleMania. We always get our returning legends beating up some current guys segment. It’s for the nostalgia pop. I for one loved it and HBK looks like he can come back to wrestle tonight. If you can’t enjoy three legends come back and hit their big moves for a few minutes then you don’t really understand the point of WrestleMania.
Brock Lesnar pinned Dean Ambrose in a Street Fight (***1/2)
This is the match I was the most excited for and it let me down in a big way. It went all of 13 minutes when it should’ve gone closer to 20. I thought this was the biggest disappointment of the night. Ambrose never once looked like he was on Lesnar’s level in the build to this match and he never looked like he was on Lesnar’s level in the match either. I was hoping this would be a career defining win or at least performance for the Lunatic Fringe but it was nothing more than a glorified squash match. Every single time Ambrose steps out of the midcard he loses and WrestleMania was the worse of them all because he was booked to look like he didn’t belong.
Charlotte defeated Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks to win the WWE Women’s Championship (***3/4)
This was weird because did Charlotte retain a title or win one? It’s semantics really. This match was the best women’s match on the main roster in WWE history. They got 16 minutes to tell a great story. It was positioned in a top spot at the top of the 9pm hour so WWE took it very seriously and it showed in the work these wrestlers did in the ring. They were given the chance to shine and they did. Charlotte got Becky to tap to the Figure 8 to score the win. Sasha Banks was being held out of the ring by Ric Flair so she couldn’t break up the submission.
I know there were some people upset that Sasha didn’t win here. I was, but they had a great match and the match ended in a way that certainly guarantees Banks another crack at the title where she can win it in a one-on-one match.
The Undertaker pinned Shane McMahon in a Hell in a Cell Match (***1/4)
This Hell in a Cell Match was long as hell. It went about 30 minutes. They could’ve chopped off ten and given that to Lesnar and Ambrose. Shane McMahon did what we all expected him to do and that was jump off the Cell. He went for a flying elbow on The Undertaker on the announce table but Taker moved and he just crashed and burned. Honestly, it was a little more scary than entertaining. Undertaker carried him back in the ring and hit a Tombstone to end Shane’s hopes of running RAW.
It really surprised me that there was no sort of outside interference at all given the stakes of this match. Vince McMahon was as much a part of the build to the match as either of these two and we didn’t even see him. To me, the no interference hurt the drama of the match because you (at least I did) thought someone (Vince or Shane) would have a backup plan in place in case things weren’t going their way, given that the fate of WWE was at stake.
Baron Corbin won the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal (**)
I didn’t even know Corbin was in the Battle Royal until I just happened to spot him in a group of guys trying to toss out The Big Show. You shouldn’t debut one of the top NXT guys in the mass walkout to save time. I was mad at that but they made up for it by having Corbin win. Hopefully he does something with it. I don’t think he’s as bad as some people make him out to be. He’s got a unique look and it pretty solid in the ring. WWE needs top heels so they can’t afford to screw this up. Oh, and seeing Shaq was pretty cool.
The Rock pinned Erick Rowan (AWESOME)
The Rock came out and lit his name on fire for no other reason than he is The Rock and he can. He then came to the ring and announced the new WrestleMania attendance record. It seemed like that was going to be all for The Rock but you knew there had to be more than that. I spy wrestling boots…Out came The Wyatt Family and they wanted to bring down the Hollywood star. The Rock put over The Wyatts, Bray specifically but said if they wanted to throw down he was ready and willing. He challenged one of them to a match and ripped off his pants and he had his tights on underneath and was ready to go. Rowan stepped up and it took all of one Rock Bottom and six seconds for The Rock to win so we had another WrestleMania record on our hands.
The Wyatt Family regrouped and wanted to take down The Rock with their numbers advantage until John Cena of all people made the save. Rock and Cena cleaned house and created another WrestleMania moment.
After all of this happened, The Internet said that The Rock buried Bray Wyatt. No, WWE buried Bray Wyatt with the way they booked him and the fact that he, like Dean Ambrose, never wins a big match. This was meant to be fun and see The Rock at WrestleMania, and John Cena make his return to WWE freakishly early once again. I loved this whole segment. The Rock can come on WWE TV anytime he wants in my opinion.
Roman Reigns defeated Triple H to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship (**3/4)
Triple H’s WrestleMania entrances are so cool and I’ll go ahead and say it, Stephanie was looking sexy last night.
The match went on way too late and went on way too long for me to really care about it. They worked hard and the match was good enough but at this point in the night, I had been watching WrestleMania for six and a half hours and I just wanted my pillow and blanky. The crowd was so apathetic to the whole thing that we didn’t even get the obligatory “Holy Shit” chant when Reigns Speared Hunter through the barricade. The match ended when Triple H wanted to use the Sledgehammer but Roman ducked and hit a Spear for the win.
It was a lock that Roman was going to win the title but it suffered from what I knew it would suffer from, the fact that no one would care and it was worsened by the fact the match went around 27 minutes and closed out a nearly seven hour show. I don’t hate Roman Reigns like most of the Internet seems to. I just think they needed to go another route than put the title on him for a third time since November and treat it like a big deal when a lot of the fan base isn’t interested in seeing him as the top guy.
I’m going to give WrestleMania 32 a 7/10 and here’s why. Up until the Main Event I was entertained the whole night. I wouldn’t even say it was Roman Reigns’ and Triple H’s fault either. It was a really long night and I was tired at that point.
You got to see all of the big stars of the past and while there weren’t any match of the year candidates five of the main card matches I had rated over three stars with three of those just coming in under four stars. Those are all really quality matches.
WrestleMania isn’t always about having the best match ever even though it does happen. NXT is for pure wrestling. Other PPVs during the year are for match quality. WrestleMania is about the grandeur, spectacle and entertainment of what WWE does. It’s about the nostalgia pops and a celebration of the business. People get caught up in bad booking and “who got buried” instead of sitting back and just being a fan. WrestleMania is supposed to bring you back to the magic of being a kid and loving wrestling for the larger than life spectacle it is and the way you felt about it before you knew what the Internet was. And for the most part, WrestleMania accomplished that last night.
As I wrap this up I want to make an announcement. This is my last column on TJR. I’ve significantly cut back on my writing over the years and that’s because free time has been harder and harder to come by. I am getting married in 12 days and it’s time to move onto the next chapter in my life. It doesn’t mean I’ll be gone from the Internet forever as I still plan on being active on Twitter and YouTube, it just means I’m stepping away from writing about wrestling.
I can’t thank you guys enough for supporting me here on TJR since I started covering the first season of NXT and everything I’ve done since then. I’d like to thank John Canton the head honcho of this site for allowing me the opportunity to write for him and make some really cool friends along the way. You all are awesome, even the ones who have ripped me mercilessly. Thank you, it’s been fun.
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**All photos are courtesy of WWE.com.**