wrestling / Columns

A Hollow WrestleMania

April 5, 2016 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja

What the fuck?

If I had to describe my reaction to WrestleMania 32 in one phrase, that would be it. I’ve never felt this way after a show. I’m not even sure how to explain it. Dejected? Maybe. Disappointed? Sure. Upset? A bit. Hell, maybe I even feel a little numb. Instead of doing a traditional review, I’m going to try and dissect my thoughts on the show.

Starting with the Kickoff Show, I actually came away pleasantly surprised with this section. I thought that Ryback and Kalisto had a pretty good David vs. Goliath match and got things off to a good start despite the lack of a full crowd in attendance. I had no issues with that. The Total Divas tag team match proved to be better than expected as well. They weren’t given too much time that it overstayed its welcome, everyone got a chance to shine and I’d say that Emma was damn near the MVP. Lana’s ass would be her competition. Brie Bella winning with a fantastic Yes Lock was very fitting and again, I enjoyed this for the most part. Even the Dudley Boyz vs. The Usos was about what I expected though I felt the Dudley Boyz should have won since they’ve taken plenty of losses since they came back. Perfectly acceptable Kickoff show.

Then the main card started. The Intercontinental Title Ladder match reminded me on last year’s. Lots of guys involved, tons of chaos and some huge spots. I liked that they put some emphasis on the Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens feud. Stardust and Sin Cara did the big ladder spot and Stardust’s polka dot ladder was a nice touch. My issue with the match was the ending. Zack Ryder won. Look, I’m happy for the guy. He deserved something nice after he got ruined in early 2012. However, this screamed “we’re gonna do something shocking for the sake of doing something shocking.” The man makes the belt, not the other way around. You can’t book a guy to be completely irrelevant for four year, give him two weeks of “build” and then put the title on him and expect it to work. I expect him to drop the title on Raw to someone debuting. It was just so strange, which turned out to be a theme for the night.

One of the things I looked forward to most coming into WrestleMania was AJ Styles making his Mania debut. He had new attire and the match got off to a really good start. It was missing something though. It felt like they tried to have an epic match but it fell rather flat. Don’t get me wrong, it was still good, but like most of their matches, it missed something to make it great. Also, bad booking reared its ugly head again. Jericho won. Why? Someone find me a good reason for this. They go to 2-2, so maybe we get a fifth, tiebreaking match but I don’t want that. The feud fizzled out weeks ago. Even if they want to make Jericho the top contender for the World Title coming out of this, he could still win a shot on Raw. AJ Styles came in as a big deal and is reportedly moving merchandise well. If you look at the top merch movers, they don’t suffer from the awful 50/50 booking that plagues most of the WWE. With recent losses to Owens and Jericho, I could AJ going that route. Jericho gained nothing from this and again, I sat here baffled.

I don’t have much to say about the New Day vs. League of Nations. New Day’s entrance was fun and the match was lackluster. The post match stuff with Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Steve Austin felt like a desperate plea to get legends on the show. It also could have been accomplished with a New Day win, which I think should have happened to reward them for their great year. Moving on, Dean Ambrose and Brock Lesnar produced a disappointment. Their match was solid but fell way short of what it needed to be. I’m totally okay with Lesnar winning. I fully expect his next clean loss to come at the hands of Roman Reigns. However, this should have been a star making performance for Dean. He talked about being “unbreakable” so he should have taken everything Brock had and then some. He could have lost in a valiant effort and been made in a similar fashion to Steve Austin at WrestleMania 13. Instead, he never brought “Barbie” into play and lost to one F5 on steel chairs. It was anti-climactic and did nothing for Ambrose. He came off looking like he wasn’t anywhere the level of guys like Reigns, Cena and HHH, who took more of a beating from Brock.

This is where I lost all hope for the show. Lita introduced a new Women’s Championship on the Kickoff show to usher in a new era. The Triple Threat match was treated like a big deal. Charlotte wore a robe made from her dad’s WrestleMania 24 while Sasha had Eddie Guerrero inspired gear and had Snoop Dogg play her to the ring. They had a few slip ups during the match but ultimately stole the show. My heart was pounding as I desperately wanted Sasha to win. Hell, before the match started I said “the only bad decision would be Charlotte retaining and judging by the show so far, she probably will”. And guess what happened? She retained. This was the absolute dumbest fucking move I could imagine. You’ve built Charlotte as a heel champion, that’s fine. You’ve protected Sasha to the point where she’s never been pinned on the main roster. Becky has come close several times. This should have been where either Becky or Sasha beats Charlotte and leads the way for the future of the division. Instead, Charlotte made Becky tap out while Ric held Sasha back. This was such a horrible decision. I can’t stress that enough. It actually took me out of the show. I spent the rest of the night shaking my head and face palming more than I ever have at a wrestling show. How could you let such a golden opportunity go to waste?

Shane McMahon and the Undertaker had their Hell in a Cell match. It was there. It felt like a cool down after the women’s match, which nobody expected. It was slow, plodding and did nothing for me. I’ll admit that it picked up down the stretch and of course, we got the massive Shane elbow from the top of the cell. However, it felt like they were killing time to get to that point. They just did stuff until we got to the massive spot and then Undertaker won. So Shane was only brought in to hype the show. Cool, we get another Undertaker Mania match that I won’t care about and the Authority gets to continue to open Raw with long winded promos. Oh joy. They did the Andre the Giant Battle Royal next. The Shaq surprise was fun and the right guy won in Baron Corbin. He’s been nailing his gimmick as of late and hopefully he gets some shine coming out of this. I was fine with that even though the match was blah.

Then we got the awful Rock segment. Oh my god, this was so bad on so many levels. He wasted a ton of time, with the show already nearing 11PM. His entrance was longer than the Undertaker’s. Think about that. He took long to simply announce that they broke their own attendance record (though not the actual indoor record set by the NBA a few years back). Then the Wyatts interrupted and I let out a loud groan. Bray isn’t taken seriously anymore. Rock shit on them and showed that he was in gear. He challenged them to a match and beat Erick Rowan in six seconds. I promise I’m not making this up. Then the Wyatts decided to surround the ring and attack, leading to John Cena’s return. Rock and Cena sent the Wyatts packing because they are a useless stable. They might as well repackage Bray. He nails his character but nothing he does matters and he can’t do anything against major stars.

Finally, it was time for the main event. Stephanie McMahon looked hot as she talked shit to the audience to try and get them to cheer Reigns. It didn’t work. The crowd reaction might have been worse this year than last year. Also, Reigns/Brock last year was great. Reigns/HHH this time was bad. After trying to kill each other weeks ago, they went out and had a match that had little to no animosity. Also, whoever booked it to go 27 minutes is an idiot. The show already ran long and the outcome was inevitable. Reigns speared Stephanie and the crowd popped but went back to booing when he kicked out of the Pedigree. He finally ended this shit match and won. It was the culminating moment they’d been building towards. You know, if we forget that he won the belt in November. And again in January.

In the end, this felt like such a hollow WrestleMania. The workers tried for the most part. I saw serious effort in a lot of the matches but the booking decisions were baffling. Outside of the lackluster Hell in a Cell and main event, nothing felt resolved. This show was hollow. They were more interested in “WrestleMania Moments” (legends vs. LON, Shane’s spot, Rock & Cena), than booking a competent wrestling show. I’m gonna watch Raw tonight and that’s it. If it doesn’t hook me, I’m gonna take a break from the product. I’ll also leave you with my star ratings if you all care.

Kalisto/Ryback – **3/4
Total Divas tag – **1/2
Dudleys/Usos – **
Ladder match – ****
Styles/Jericho – ***1/4
New Day/LON – **1/4
Brock/Dean – ***
Women’s match – ****
Shane/Taker – **1/2
Battle Royal – *
Reigns/HHH – *3/4

article topics :

WrestleMania, WWE, Kevin Pantoja