You’re either going to be super-pumped to read this or wonder why the hell I’ve spent so much time thinking about it. There’s no middle ground. If you have never watched wrestling, or used to and no longer do, or if you simply don’t understand the draw of the preeminent male soap opera, go right ahead and skip this entry.
Here are some of my thoughts and questions on the main Wrestlemania 32 card. Spoilers abound.
Intercontinental Title Ladder Match. Winner: Zack Ryder.
Highlights: A super kick party that must have had the Young Bucks seething all the way in Japan; Zayn destroying Owens with the DDT into the ladder; Sin Cara folding Stardust (and the ladder beneath him); the Miz’s arrogance costing him the title.
Comments: If anyone bet on Ryder last night, they probably made a nice little Wrestlemania bonus for themselves. When Ryder pushed the Miz off the ladder, I kept waiting for someone else to pop into the ring to push him off, but that never happened.
Questions: Did Ryder have to agree to change his look into a poor man’s Randy Savage to win the belt? Did WWE give us this largely unexpected moment at the top of the show to balance out the totally unexpected moment at the end of the show? Is Ryder going to get a legitimate run or is he going to drop the belt tonight on Raw?
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles. Winner: Chris Jericho (WTF)
Highlights: Styles’ springboard 450.
Comments: I felt like the match was sloppy, but that’s what happens when you have the same guys in the same match 15 times in four weeks. Also, they looked gassed. I hate that AJ missed the moonsault-into-reverse DDT, I look forward to that, the phenomenal forearm, and the 450 in every Styles match.
Questions: Why did Jericho go over? In recent years, Jericho has returned to the ring to put new talent over, and I thought that’s what he was going to do here. Instead, they scripted Y2J to win in AJ Styles’ first Wrestlemania. How does that help either guy? Are they going to fight again tonight on Raw? Also, where did Styles park his dirt bike before the match?
The New Day vs. The League of Nations. Winner: The League of Nations
Comments: I probably would have been more into the New Day entrance if I was a Dragon Ball Z fan. The WWE quietly removed the “for the tag team championship” stipulation before Wrestlemania, and a few of the wrestling sites I follow were curious as to why. The build-up instead shifted to something about the supremacy in the tag team ranks. Because, you know, that’s not what the belts signify. My biased and excited conspiracy theory was that something bigger than the match itself was going to happen during or after the match. I thought (hoped) Finn Balor and the erstwhile Bullet Club would appear to challenge for this supposed “supremacy”. After the match when Barrett got on the mic and said there wasn’t a three-man group who could step to them, my anticipation boiled. I immediately thought of Balor, Anderson, and Gallows. I even shouted at Lynnette, “THEY’RE COMING, BABE!” But then HBK’s music hit and this is the first time I was disappointed to hear it.
This emotion was mitigated slightly when I noticed HBK had his gear on. Then, when Foley showed up I realized it was this year’s NWO/DX nostalgia segment. When the glass broke, though, I immediately forgave the WWE. Would Stone Cold actually get physical, though? Yes. After the trio made quick work of the League, the New Day reemerged to lead the Hall of Famers in dancing. Stone Cold resisted. I have to be honest, this was the most suspenseful moment of the night. “He can’t dance!” I screamed. “Does he suck at dancing?” Lynnette asked. “No, I mean he can’t dance, that’s not who he is! He has to hit him with a stunner!” You can tell by all of these exclamation marks that there was some real urgency here. Austin hit a few dance moves, but then kicked Woods in the mid-section and dropped him. All was right in the world.
Questions: My friend Chris tweeted out following the segment: “I wonder how much they had to pay HBK and Austin just to do that.” The answer is: all the money.
Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose (street fight). Winner: Brock Lesnar
Highlights: It was a pretty straightforward match. They weren’t going to put Lesnar in harm’s way. Meh.
Comments: During the build to this match, I thought it was a misuse of both wrestlers. It went exactly as I expected, but without any kind of signature spot. More than any of the other matches on the card, I thought this was the most symbolic of the night. The injuries to the roster were too much to recover from and the result was a slew of lackluster bouts like this one.
Questions: Does anyone else feel like it’s crazy when Brock is out of the title picture? I know Ambrose is over with the fans, but this seems horrible beneath him. In a way, this match was in service to the Roman Reigns force feeding. No one can beat Brock straight up.
Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks. Winner: Charlotte
Highlights: the new belt is gorgeous; Charlotte’s moonsault from the top rope to the outside.
Comments: I know WWE has marketed Charlotte as a physical specimen, as “genetically superior” but good Lord, her moonsault to the outside last night was one of my favorite spots of the night. It was perfect.
Questions: Why did it need the Ric Flair interference finish? Charlotte’s already one of the most over heels in the company. We know the Flair’s cheat. Did they just want to keep the belt on Charlotte? Did they want to irk fans even more? They want to prolong the feud(s)?Well, missions accomplished, I guess.
Shane McMahon vs. Undertaker (Hell in a Cell). Winner: Undertaker
Highlights: see photo on left.
Comments: Like nearly everyone else, I thought Shane’s return was a function of the injuries to the roster. The match itself was pretty unremarkable and built on the insane spot captured here. Though seeing Shane hit the Coast-to-Coast was pretty maj. When Shane came out with his sons, I figured this might be a one-and-done for him; it would likely be their one chance to walk out during a Wrestlemania. That said, it blows my mind that they were ringside for that spot. I don’t know if I could have watched my dad – or anyone I love – do something so crazy.
Questions: One of my students asked why didn’t Shane win. Well, I think that’s pretty obvious. They two outcomes of this match were tied to two distinct consequences. If Shane won, he’d get control of Raw and the Undertaker would never work in a Wrestlemania again. They can do a brand split of invasion angle without Shane. But there’s no way ‘Taker’s last match at WM would be against Shane.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. Winner: Baron Corbin
Full disclosure: I was driving home from Lynnette’s aunt’s house during the better part of this match so I only caught the last five minutes. I got home just in time to see the Social Outcasts take a victory lap before being unceremoniously ousted. Bo Dallas gets extra points for wearing a singlet that featured navy blue and silver stars and the word “Dallas” on the back of it. Nice work.
Question: Will there ever be a time when I will come to care about this match?
The Rock comes out and talks for a long time. Loser: Bray Wyatt.
Highlights: OH MY GAWD! THAT’S JOHN CENA’S MUSIC!
Comments: My friend Bryan simply tweeted “LOL” when Cena showed up. Fair response. Wyatt took another L.
Questions: Why did WWE set Wyatt up to lose again? Rock’s initial words to Wyatt pointed out the general frustration with his booking: he appears to have everything required to be a breakout star – he’s over – but he “does nothing with it”. But that’s not his fault, right? That’s on the creative team. Is this the start of Wyatt’s rebranding or reboot?
HHH vs. Roman Reigns. Winner: Roman Reigns
Comments: It was as inevitable because it wasn’t working. My friend Matt put it best when he said that this win means now we can all move on from this tire fire of a story line.
Questions: Reigns already mentioned Cena by name on the Today Show this morning. Is that the next feud? Does this mean HHH and the Authority will fade into the the background?