The biggest event on the WWE calendar turned out to be nail-biting, superb and nothing short of exciting. This year, the spectacle and grandeur of Wrestlemania took place in front of 97,000 fans at AT&T Stadium, in Dallas, Texas. The WWE made history at this event. It broke its own attendance record set at Wrestlemania 3. That event had over 93,000 fans. Titles were at stake, new champions crowned and the entrances extravagant and memorable. The night began with a Ladder Match for the Intercontinental title.
The Champion, Kevin Owens faced off against Stardust, Dolph Ziggler, Sami Zayn, Zack Ryder, the Miz, and Sin Cara. Stardust’s ring attire was decorated with yellow polka-dots, to honor his father, the late Dusty Rhodes. He even used a polka-dot decorated ladder during the match. This was a tremendous tribute, and received a great reaction from the crowd. Good for the WWE to allow that to happen. The crowd enjoyed the continuation of the Sami Zayn/Kevin Owens rivalry, which began in NXT. I am sure they will have a spectacular one-on-one match down the line.
The closing sequence saw the Miz climb the ladder. As he reached the top, instead of unhooking the belt, he took the time to gloat, as all the other wrestlers were either out of the ring, or lying motionless on the canvas. As the Miz was about the retrieve the title, Zack Ryder climbed the structure, and battled his opponent. With the Miz down, Ryder reached up, and unhooked the belt. Zack Ryder, to the surprise of everyone, became the new Intercontinental Champion.
This was tremendous viewing. All the superstars involved should be commended for putting their bodies on the line in this brutal match. The crowd was invested in every move. But, nobody expected Ryder to win. He was not relevant in the Raw and Smackdown storylines for years, and was only entered because of an unfortunate injury to Adrian Neville. But, the company gave Ryder a chance, and he took advantage of it. I feel happy that Zack got his Wrestlemania moment.
A six man tag occurred between the New Day and the League of Nations. The New Day’s entrance was memorable. A box of “Booty O’s” cereal was placed on the entrance ramp, and the group “poured” out of the box. What a creative visual. The odd man out for the League of Nations was Wade Barrett, who accompanied his team to the ring. The ending came after Sheamus kicked out of a roll-up. He kicked out with so much force that it launched Xavier Woods into the ropes. With the referee distracted, Barrett hit Woods with the Bullhammer elbow. Sheamus then used his Brogue Kick to finish off Xavier for the win. But, the real drama happened after the match.
Barrett took the microphone and bragged that no three men could beat them. Shawn Michaels entered the arena, to a loud ovation. Then, Mick Foley entered. The sound of glass breaking echoed over the PA system, and when the crowd heard that, they knew who was about to make his entrance. Stone Cold Steve Austin appeared and received a thunderous ovation. The New Day and the three legends cleared the ring of the League. Austin, Foley and Shawn performed their finishers on Sheamus’ group. The New Day and the legends danced in the ring to the pleasure of the crowd. Even Austin participated, but then he did what everyone expected him to do – he hit Xavier Woods with the Stone Cold Stunner. What a spectacular moment! Fans enjoyed that segment, and I am sure those watching at home did as well. It was great seeing these legends, and I do think that Shawn Michaels, if he ever chooses to come out of retirement, can still display his in-ring skills, and have the fans’ support at the same time.
The No Holds Barred Street Fight between Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose was brutal, but short. Ambrose used a barbed-wire baseball bat, previously given to him by Mick Foley. He also teased using a chainsaw, given to him by Terry Funk. Chairs, a fire extinguisher and other weapons were used by both wrestlers. The crowd enjoyed this. The end came when Lesnar performed his F-5 finisher on Ambrose, on fifteen chairs that were tossed into the ring during the match, for the win. While the match was fun to watch, I felt it could have gone longer. Also, I think Ambrose should have won, as he is a full-time WWE superstar, while Brock is not. On the other hand, I think the bodies of these wrestlers must have been battered, so while the matches are supposed to be entertaining, consideration and respect must be given to the participants.
One of the matches I was looking forward to was the Women’s title match between Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. This contest showcased the vast improvement of the Women’s division. Sasha paid tribute to the late Eddie Guerrero, by performing a move that he was known for – the Frog Splash. And the crowed respectfully chanted Eddie’s name. Becky performed a spectacular top-rope suplex. Sasha applied her Banks Statement submission to Charlotte. I truly wished she tapped out so Banks could have her Wrestlemania moment. But, it was not meant to be. When Sasha was tossed out of the ring, the controversy began.
Charlotte had Becky in the Figure-Four leglock. Becky was screaming in pain, though she did try to hang on as long as she could. Sasha tried to save the match for herself, but Ric Flair (Charlotte’s father) stopped that from happening, holding Banks back. Becky was forced to tap out. Charlotte won the Women’s Championship. Good for her for getting her Mania moment, and winning her first match at the big event, even though it was in a very underhanded manner. These three should be proud of the match they staged. Sasha Banks was truly robbed. I wanted her to have her Mania moment. But, hopefully, she will defeat Charlotte in the future, and win the title that I believe she so truly deserves.
The Undertaker battled Shane McMahon inside Hell in A Cell. Shane entered the arena with his sons, which was a really cool moment, and something those boys will remember for a long time – they got to walk down the ramp at Wrestlemania! The match itself was relatively entertaining, considering the ages of both men. Shane was still able to dance around the ring and hit the quick punches. But, for all the guys did in the match, it will only be remembered for one thing.
There were points during the match where Shane kept looking up. When the combatants were outside of the cell, Shane smashed Taker with a toolbox. Once he positioned his larger opponent on an announcer’s table, McMahon did something to Taker that had not been done since the 1998 King of the Ring event. Shane scaled the 20 foot high Cell structure, jumped off and landed an elbowdrop on Taker. One problem – the Undertaker rolled out of the way, and Shane crashed through the table. Taker sat up, near the barrier, winded, and seemed legitimately concerned for Shane. Taker eventually won the match. But, not a lot of people will remember the match for who won. Instead, they will remember the crazy, death-defying stunt Shane did to make the match memorable.
The main event was for the WWE Championship, as the Champion, Triple H took on Roman Reigns. The match was average and the lack of crowd support did not really help things. Fans knew the end result before the match even began, which is never a good sign. The highlight for me occurred prior to the match. Stephanie McMahon was seated on a throne on top of a Videotron above the entrance. She talked about being the “Queen of Queens” and that everyone is a follower of authority.. She then introduced her husband, Triple H. This was a beautiful promo. It was very similar to something you would hear and see on Game of Thrones.
Triple H did what he could to make Reigns look credible. But, the crowd booed a lot, especially when Roman was on offense. The end came when Stephanie pulled the referee out of the ring, as it looked like a new champion would be crowned. She distracted the ref, and followed him back into the ring. An argument ensued. Reigns speared her and she fell onto the arena floor. Later, Steph handed the champion a sledgehammer, but before it could have been used, Roman hit two Superman punches on Triple H, then used a spear to finish off the match. Roman Reigns became the new WWE Champion. The fans were not impressed, although there was a smattering of cheers. This was a blatant example of the WWE not listening to the fans. The company is portraying Reigns as the “next face of the company” despite the fans objections. I think the crowd would have cheered Triple H if he had retained the title, despite the fact that he is viewed as a heel. But, we will see where this goes. If the fans do not react the way the WWE wants them to towards Reigns, they may have to do a title change sooner than they expect. I mean he has held the belt three times already in six months.
Wrestlemania 32 was an interesting show. A few of the matches were tremendous – the IC title Ladder Match and the Women’s title match come to mind. The fact that some key stars like John Cena, Seth Rollins, and Randy Orton could not compete due to injury may have hurt Mania a bit this year. Based on the fact that the “future of the company” was at stake, I thought the Hell in a Cell match would have ended things, but I guess Triple H vetoed that idea. Hopefully, next year’s edition in Orlando should prove to be better.