Tuesday, April 5, 2016

WrestleMania 32 Thoughts

I wasn't able to watch WrestleMania 32 live on Sunday night, so I avoided all social media and spent nearly five hours on Monday morning and afternoon watching on the WWE Network. This was literally the biggest WrestleMania ever. Held in the Dallas Cowboys stadium, WWE broke their all-time attendance record that was previously set at WrestleMania III. In 1987, Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant brought in 93,173. On April 3, 2016, WWE brought in 101,763 fans from around the world.

I don't know how I feel about the event. I'm sure there are people who like the idea of Roman Reigns being "the man" in WWE. Very few of them were among the 101 thousand in the arena. Like I told a friend when he texted me asking my thoughts, "As long as Vince McMahon is happy, I guess that's all that matters."

Being WrestleMania, there were a lot of legends there for the show. Shawn Michaels, Steve Austin, and Mick Foley drank beer in the ring with tag team champions - and current hottest act in the company - The New Day. That beer, by the way, was Steve Austin's own "Broken Skull IPA." In addition to hosting a podcast and two reality shows on CMT, he's also in the beer business.

The Rock showed up, which wasn't a surprise since he told us months in advance. What was a surprise was quickly ruined for me. He came out wearing a tank top and sweat pants, as he often does. Except, I noticed he was wearing wrestling boots and I saw the outlines of his knee pads under his pants at one point. 

So, the whole time Rock was standing in the ring hyping the attendance record, and then having a verbal confrontation with Bray Wyatt, I was just waiting for him to rip off the sweat pants and get to the reveal of his wrestling trunks.

He eventually did, wrestling a 6-second match against Bray's lackey, Eric Rowan. After a 3-on-1 mismatch, the returning hero John Cena came out to make the save. And, we had a "WrestleMania Moment" of two of the biggest stars ever in the ring together.

With the benefit of hindsight, I would have changed this up a little bit. Cena isn't quite ready to return from his shoulder injury, which is why he didn't wrestle on the show. Not having a match broke his streak of 11 consecutive matches at the biggest event of the year. We had a 6-second match; why couldn't that have been with Cena? Maybe a quick tag match? 

I was beyond disappointed with Dean Ambrose vs Brock Lesnar. I was hoping with my highest hopes that Ambrose would pull out the victory and become the top star that everybody except the WWE higher-ups see him as being. I know in their defense they're going to point to WrestleMania 13 and how Steve Austin lost his match but became a bigger star. There are some key differences: Steve Austin fought for half an hour and didn't get pinned or submit; he passed out due to blood loss. Austin also won matches before and after that - he won the Royal Rumble match two months before WM13! Ambrose was thrown around for 10 minutes and pinned easily, and he hasn't won a pay-per-view match in months.

Perception often becomes reality. We can see that Ambrose talks a tough game but doesn't get the job done. That's who he is now. That would be okay if he were a bad guy, but he's the hero.

AJ Styles lost to Chris Jericho. That was a disappointing blow. As soon as it happened, my thought was "This has to be one story in a bigger picture." As we saw from Monday Night Raw, he is now the new number one contender to the WWE Title. So, he's doing okay. And, if he becomes the champ, he has a ready-made feud with Jericho: "You're the champ, but I beat you in front of the biggest crowd in history."

I still will never comprehend why WWE had Jericho kick out of the Styles Clash on two different occasions. At least he finally got to beat him with it on Raw.

I have no clue why WWE feels like "I'm big, your little" feuds work. That was the impetus between Ryback challenging Kalisto for the US Title. It was forced and lame. The IC Title became a 6-man ladder match. Those should have been reversed. Let Kalisto, the small high flyer, do crazy things on a ladder and play to his strengths. Kevin Owens had a WrestleMania-worthy match and feud in place with Sami Zayn. Click here for background.

Roman Reigns vs Triple H... Hmmmm... Ummmm... I was actually pulling for Triple H to retain. That's how much I am not a fan of the "Roman Empire." I'm tired of him being pushed because he's tall, athletic, and a decent wrestler. There are other tall, athletic, GREAT wrestlers that WWE could put in that position that the crowd wouldn't shit all over.

With Undertaker vs Shane McMahon, I went into the match expecting a decent match with Shane jumping off the 20-foot Hell in a Cell structure. That's exactly what we got. In amateur wrestling, when somebody retires, the custom is to leave your boots in the middle of the ring. Some wrestlers have played with that idea, including Kurt Angle and Mark Henry during his amazing fake retirement speech. As I saw Undertaker sit on the edge of the ring and take his gloves off and throw them into the middle of the ring before leaving, I wondered if there was something to that. I've since read reports that some backstage WWE people are wondering the same thing as well. Undertaker was backstage at Raw the next night, but did not make an appearance.

A lot has been said about WWE pushing and relying too much on older, part-time talent. There will always be a place for a "nostalgia pop," especially on the biggest night of the year. But, it has been the case for several years now that those older stars are pushed at the expense of the young guys. I could go on about this, and maybe will at some point, but for now check out what Dave Sherer of PWInsider wrote about WWE's over-reliance on older talents. A preview: 
As those guys continue to get older, this generation has very few talents that ten years from now will be able to be put in the spots that The Rock, Steve Austin, Mick Foley, Shawn Michaels and even Chris Jericho were in last night.
That's all for now. Comments or questions about the biggest show in WWE history, feel free to leave them.

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