Monday, April 4, 2016

4/3/16 WrestleMania 32

Whoa, three years since my last blog post here? That's what happens when I barely have any time for pro wrestling these days. I've done my best to keep up with as many storylines as possible. Ratings here are for the PPV only (no pre-show stuff).

Zack Ryder vs. Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Sami Zayn vs. Sin Cara vs. Stardust vs. The Miz (Ladder; Intercontinental Title): No surprise this match started the PPV. The usual big spots we've come to expect in a ladder match at WM. As expected, Owens and Zayn impressed. Even with Ryder basically being all vocal to get on the show, then getting his chance, I still personally didn't expect Ryder to come away with the title. Crowd loved it, though. A great match with a very good ending. ***3/4

Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles: Never thought I'd be writing on this blog that AJ Styles is now a member of WWE. Styles has shown good stuff, and while his arsenal is much safer than what it used to be, it's still great to see. A very good move to pair him with Jericho first. Several near falls here. Loved the Styles counter out of the Walls into the Calf Crusher. I didn't agree with the finish; Styles should have gone over here. ***1/2

League of Nations (Sheamus, Alberto Del Rio, & Rusev) vs. The New Day (Kofi Kingston, Xavier Woods, & Big E): Wade Barrett was at ringside for LoN and predictably had a hand in the finish. I'll remember this match more for the giant box of Booty-O's on the stage. Otherwise, a typical tag match here. **

Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose (No Holds Barred): I like booking Lesnar strong. I can understand booking Ambrose as some lunatic who apparently loves pain or doesn't know when to stop. Here, I simply couldn't get into the match as much as I would have wanted. Lesnar is mostly a one-trick asskicker with suplexes and hard-hitting stuff. Because Lesnar is booked so strong, Ambrose had to resort to a nutshot and weapons for his offense. At least a dozen suplexes later and a few weapon shots, it was over after about 13 minutes. **

Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks (Women's Title): Before the Diva Revolution last year, we would have probably just had some Battle Royal or a 10-diva tag match like on the pre-show (and yes, I really feel bad for Paige and Natalya being stuck in that pre-show match). There was no legitimacy left in this division (even Natalya had been relegated to occasional matches or a valet role), and no reason to take any of the women seriously anymore. It was more than symbolic when Lita basically brought back the Women's Championship, saying good riddance to the butterfly belt and a huge "hello" to what may hopefully be a new age of women inspiring subsequent generations to become professional wrestlers. Three of the "Four Horsewomen" delivered huge here on the biggest stage with several counters and high-risk moves. Charlotte's moonsault reminded me so much of Kurt Angle's version, just majestic while suspended in air. I was hoping Becky would get the nod here, as she was the only one of the three yet to hold any gold yet in the company. Perhaps it was a sign that Becky got her usual entrance, while Sasha got Snoop Dogg (her real-life cousin and 2016 WWE HOF inductee) and Charlotte got her father (Ric Flair) and Ric's old robe. To me, Becky stood to lose the most here if she didn't win, while the others seemingly did not have that much further to fall. Luckily, all three had their moments to win. This would have sounded absurd a couple years ago, but I'm looking forward to future matches for this division. ***3/4

The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon (Hell in a Cell): If Shane won, he got control of RAW. If Taker lost, it would be his last Mania. Had this match taken place while The Streak remained intact (Lesnar broke it two years ago), it was an easy Undertaker prediction. However, given the situation, it at least seemed like not a bad idea to have Shane win, albeit with interference. It would have allowed a potentially fresher product while allowing Taker to step aside to let the next crop of stars head the show. Instead, the predictable carnage of weapons, escaping the cage, and the insane Shane bump unfolded. Everything was a setup to that insane Shane bump. No interference, no twists. This match may not have had the most potential, but I thought it could have been better. **3/4

20-Man Battle Royal (Andre the Giant Memorial): No way to take this seriously when Shaquille O'Neal is an entrant. Shook my head at the opening sequence between the big guys. Baron Corbin winning was a nice surprise and saved this from a worse rating. 1/2*

The Rock vs. Erick Rowan: Bray Wyatt is a master on the mic. The match was done in a blink of an eye. Then Super Cena "saved" the day. N/A

Roman Reigns vs. Triple H (WWE World Heavyweight Title): Vince keeps trying to get us to cheer Reigns, but that basically will only happen if he keeps hitting spears on Stephanie McMahon. HHH had his usual grand entrance. As much as the WWE Title should be defended on the last match of the show, I think HIAC could have also been worthy of the final slot. Again, this was a match that I just could not completely get into. You won't get a technical masterpiece from Reigns, and this was basically set up in the traditional "let's have the heel cheat to win or gain the advantage" formula. Since it's Mania, chances are the face (or in this case, the person Vince wanted as the face) triumphs in the end. It wasn't horrible, but again, just not a main event I'd consider worthy of the grandest stage. **

Final Thoughts: Unfortunately, in my eye, not as good of a Mania as prior years. Yes, the announced attendance (likely number of tickets sold) was over 101,000, but reports state that the event still legitimately broke the WM III inflated mark of 93,173. The most pleasant surprise may have been the Women's Title match, and I hope that sparks what that title picture will be like for years to come. The injury bug bit WWE pretty hard this year, with no Orton, no Neville, no Luke Harper, and a less-muscular Cena (still needs time to bulk back up after his injury). I hope that AJ Styles becomes a bigger part of the title picture by next year's Mania. In short, NXT Takeover: Dallas was a much better show. **1/2

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