WWE’s biggest Wrestlemania, and even biggest PPV, of all time had a subdued build that might have made some cautiously optimistic. Neither WM 30 or 31 looked like they would amount to much on paper, but thanks to some fantastic swerves and fan service, they ended up being two of the most memorable Wrestlemanias ever.
With a steady, bubbling level of excitement preceding the show, could WWE again surprise many this year? After sitting through 5 hours (not counting the kick-off show here, they don’t seem to treat it as “canon” so I can’t be arsed to either) of great matches with some woefully booked outcomes, it’s yet another entry into the pantheon of missed opportunities for the company.
In years to come, fans probably won’t look back on Wrestlemania 32 too kindly, seeing it as a two-fingered salute to the hardcore section. Heels dominated on the night with Roman Reigns’ coronation effectively making him one in the eyes of those who had hoped a surprise entrant would finally halt his sluggish, inevitable rise to the top of the company.
If you don’t have five hours to invest into watching the show, here’s our quick recap of what went down, followed by our grades.
WRESTLEMANIA 32 RESULTS
(winners in italics)
Seven-Man Ladder Match – Kevin Owens (c) vs Sami Zayn vs Dolph Ziggler vs Zack Ryder vs Sin Cara vs The Miz vs Stardust
Credit where credit’s due, WWE sure know how to put on a ladder match on the grandest stage of them all. The opener to the show was electric, filled with enough spots to make even the most cynical of fans feel warm downstairs. What really elevated the match to the next level, and a microcosm of what should be one of the best storylines of the year, was Zayn and Owens coming to blows in the preliminary stages of Feud of the Year.
Elsewhere, Sin Cara, the stylised Stevie Wonder, didn’t botch once, Ziggler was as solid as ever, Stardust paid homage to Dusty and The Miz threatened to somehow win a title again. It wasn’t to be for the one time future of the company as Zack Ryder knocked him off from his gloating perch atop the ladder for the win. His reign might not last long, but his Wrestlemania Moment™ is one of the sweetest yet.
AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho
The match on the undercard that threatened to steal the show, AJ vs. Y2J IV came oh so close to doing just that. Two of the greatest workers in wrestling history would have benefitted from five more minutes, but with it now being 2-2 in the rivalry, don’t be surprised when they announce a 30-minute Iron Man match at Payback (a man can dream).
This may have been Styles’ first Wrestlemania and you may cry that it was a middle finger to TNA (which is like swearing at a puppy with polio and one eye at this point) to have him lose, but it could be one of Jericho’s last ever Manias. There will be time for him to properly put over new talent before he eventually winds down, probably at the age of 50 judging by how well he can still go, but for now, he deserved to come out on top. There’s always Wrestlemania 33 for AJ.
The New Day (c) vs The League of Nations
It became really obvious really quickly why the Tag Team titles were taken off the line for this one as soon as a certain sexy boy’s music hit. A match that was never going to threaten to climb above “meh” was sacrificed so that some Legends could receive some filthy pops, and that they did.
The match was flat, following the template of League of Nations dominance with Woods as the whipping boy that we’ve seen a lot lately. It was unspectacular at the best of times, just plain boring at others. Wade Barrett, one of the most underused talents in recent memory, had his final Wrestlemania win before being embarrassed during the return of Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Stone Cold. Young talent being buried for the sake of the older generation sadly turned into the theme of the night.
Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar – Street Fight
This once could have run away with the headlines, the match that finally pushed Dean Ambrose to where he deserved to be after a string of high-profile losses. It wasn’t to be as the part-time performer overcame Ambrose in a match that felt far too rushed and oddly muted. Aren’t Street Fights supposed to happen, like, outside of the ring?
After being booked as the man who just won’t stay down, Ambrose was dispatched all too quickly, going down to an F5 through a pile of chairs. The match always looked like it needed to push itself that one step above, but it never quite managed it, mostly down to how the “extreme” nature of the match boiled down to Lesnar stepping on kendo sticks as Ambrose picked up loads of toys before they were thrown out of the pram.
Special mention has to go to the guy with the mop responsible for cleaning up Lesnar’s sweat – the guy could solve Africa’s water crisis if he just went jogging for an hour.
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