WWE Wrestlemania 32 (Cert 15)
3 Discs DVD/ 2 Discs Blu-ray (Distributor: Fremantle Media) Running Time: 291 minutes approx.
Sometimes dogged determination pays off while other times it is futile, especially when it ends up spiting your audience. After two years of acquiescing to the fickle whims of his fanbase, Vince McMahon decided that Wrestlemania 32 WOULD be the coronation of Roman Reigns as the next face of the company whether the fans wanted it or not.
One would think that surely they would be on side this time round – after all Reigns is battling the heinous son-in-law and untouchable COO of the WWE Triple H in the main event of the biggest show of the year for the coveted WWE World Heavyweight Title. As the figurehead of the corrupt Authority Reigns has to be the hero of the hour, right?
Actually it would be almost 7 hours as WWE decided to really eke out Wrestlemania this year, presumably hoping the crowd would be too tired to boo Reigns after such a long night. But that’s the thing about modern wrestling fans – they don’t do the Pavlovian response anymore and react how THEY want to and not how WWE wants them to.
On April 3rd a reported 101, 763 fans (the true figure was 97, 769 which is still a record breaker but you know, wrestling) packed the AT&T Stadium in Dallas, Texas to make history and witness history as the 32nd instalment of the legendary Wrestlemania concept took place. And history was made early on when a huge SNAFU at the venue entrance stopped fans from getting in so the first pre-show match of Kalisto defending the US title against Ryback took place in front of a near empty stadium!
The crowd rebellion first reared its head during the second pre-show match, a 10 women tag match, in which Eva Marie was brought out on the babyface team only to be roundly booed by the rapidly increasing crowd (possibly explaining why the entrances were edited off this release). And the Usos fared little better against The Dudleys in the final pre-show match.
By the time the main show started two hours had already passed so kudos to the fans for their continued energy and enthusiasm. Your commentators for the main show are Michael Cole, JBL and Byron Saxton and the ring announcing is shared between Lillian Garcia and Eden Stiles. As usual, no results or spoilers in the match discussion but loads of opinion.
WWE IC Title Ladder Match – Kevin Owens (c) vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Stardust vs. Sin Cara vs. Zack Ryder vs. The Miz
Neville was due to be the seventh man in this match but he fractured his ankle during a match with Chris Jericho on RAW so Zack Ryder got the spot instead. You have to feel for poor Ziggler as he was in this exact same match in this exact same spot at last year’s Wrestlemania! Meanwhile just 48 hours before this show Sami Zayn had a Match Of The Year contender against former New Japan legend Shinsuke Nakamura at NXT Take Over, so even if he lost here he was still had an awesome weekend.
You know what to expect from ladder matches and this was no different – an insane car crash of big moves and big bumps. The winner was a shock but WWE likes to create their “special moments”; unfortunately for our new champ, a moment was exactly what he got. Good opener though.
AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho
After Jericho finally turned on AJ to end their very brief tag team Y2AJ, this fourth match was set up to put this feud to bed. Good match as expected but it never quite reached the big match stage it could have been. Jericho can still go with the right opponent but Styles is in a different league and exposed Jericho’s slowing down. It is often true to say that the finish can make the difference to a match and this was the first example of that on this show.
The New Day vs. The League Of Nations
The New Day has joined that illustrious group of obnoxious heels who end up being so entertaining that the fans start to cheer them, resulting in a phantom face turn. Considering a year earlier they couldn’t get heat if they were burned alive, the positive fan reaction is remarkable. They arrived in a giant box of Booty-Os cereal dressed in Saiyan warrior garb from Dragonball Z! What was originally a four on three handicap tag title match was not just a non-title six-man tag with the soon to be departing Wade Barrett sitting out this match.
Again the booking was baffling to say the least which some would argue was justified by the post match surprise featuring three WWE Hall Of Famers, but if you ignore the feel good frippery of the scenario, three fifty year olds taking on three current young lions does nothing the ones who will still be on TV the next night!
No Holds Barred Street Fight – Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose
You see, Dean Ambrose is a lunatic so of course he would challenge a monster like Brock Lesnar to a street fight after Lesnar got mad at Ambrose for costing him the triple threat match at Fastlane. This was an odd match psychologically wise with Ambrose hitting Lesnar with everything but the kitchen sink yet Brock is able to counter with suplexes. A hard hitting affair as you might expect with Ambrose taking some sick punishment but compared to other Lesnar matches this didn’t have the same big time feel to it.
The Hall Of Fame Class of 2016 is introduced next. For some reason they’ve change the order of the inductions on the DVD presentation than the one on the night.
WWE Women’s Title Triple Threat Match – Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks
During the ten hour pre-show Lita unveiled the new Woman’s title belt to finally replace that hideous Divas vagina belt, and the winner of this match would be the “first ever” Women’s Champion – clearly forgetting that she herself is a multi-time former Women’s champion!
Quibble aside this was awesome! Not just a defining moment for women’s wrestling in WWE but these ladies also stole the show – even the misogynist readers of the Wrestling Observer newsletter voted it the best match! We could question the result but the effort put in by these women is undeniable and they crowd was fully invested in it too. Just a wonderful highlight of the show.
Hell In A Cell Match – Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker
Oh boy, where to start with this mess. The original match was to be Cena vs. Taker but Cena’s mutant healing powers didn’t work as quickly as they usual do so a hasty replacement was formulated. Shane O’Mac returned to WWE after seven years to accuse Vince and The Authority of killing the company so Vince booked him in this match with the control of RAW at stake. To add further confusion Taker never confirmed he was working for Vince but accepted the match anyway because…um… Then Vince said if Taker lost it would be his last match in WWE.
By the time the match arrived all of this stipulations had been forgotten, Vince was nowhere to be seen to reinforce what was at stake so Shane and Taker were apparently fighting for no reason, which made the follow up on RAW the next night even more baffling. The match itself was a 30 minute snooze fest save for Shane taking a stupid high risk bump for a near 50 year-old non-wrestler just to get a cheap pop. An impressive visual for sure but reckless nonetheless.
20-Man Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale
The annual “best way to get everyone on the card” match had a few surprise entrants this year including a basketball player called Shaquille O’Neal, who exposed the “World’s Largest Athlete” myth of Big Show by standing a good few inches taller than him! Oops. Nice to see a surprise winner but the introduction of said victor was understated to say the least.
The Rock comes out for a promo following an introductory dance by the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders, with AC/DC’s Thunderstruck removed and replaced by a generic rock track buried deep in the mix. After announcing the (false) record breaking attendance figure, the Wyatt Family (sans an injured Luke Harper) came out which led to…
The Rock vs. Erick Rowan
Instant 5 star classic matches are rare these days – but this wasn’t one of them, lasting as it did just SIX SECONDS! Cue Wyatt beat down and a save from familiar face.
WWE World Heavyweight Title Match – Triple H (c) vs. Roman Reigns
This match is on the second Blu-ray disc of this set. In keeping with the tradition of risible and goofy entrances for Triple H, this one begins with a borderline crypto-fascist video piece denoting a dystopian world ruled over by the Authority before cutting back to the stadium where a scary looking creature wearing a mask cut a screechy promo about something or other, followed by the WWE Champ being escorted to the ring by NXT wrestlers dressed up as faceless drones.
Roman Reigns came out to huge boos so his transition to the role as the new Cena is now complete. The WWE tried to mute the crowd every time they booed or chanted something not related to the match (Nakamura, Sami Zayn, Bayley, etc) which shows us just how affected Vince is by this defiant rejection of his new anointed one. Match was okay but with the psychology all screwed up it became another farce, especially after five plus very long hours of action for one day. You can figure out how this one ends.
I’m sure Vince McSenile must dread Wrestlemania each year ever since the international make up of fans have decided to reject what he puts before them, but when he doesn’t listen to what his audience wants, well it’s simply a case of self inflicted cause and effect. The problem is that ten years ago at Wrestlemania 22 when fans were booing Cena, Vince turned to Triple H in the hope this would reverse this trend – and it failed. So to try again – and fail again – with Reigns is indicative of Vince’s stubbornness and disdain for his freethinking fanbase.
Elsewhere the show was mired by some baffling booking with the wrong people going over in their matches, buttressed by the direction taken on RAW the next night. Another Vince foible is his reliance on older stars for that nostalgia pop which comes at the expense of the current stars upon whom the company relies to make money for them TODAY! Not to mention the new idea of creating a “Wrestlemania Moment” which is immediately nullified on RAW twenty-four hours later, basically rendering it worthless.
On the plus side everyone made an effort and we did get the breakout women’s match on the main roster which was worth the wait, but whether this momentum can be sustained, well….
In conclusion a hard worked and largely entertaining show hampered by vexatious counterproductive booking, but as far as this Blu-ray release goes, it’s another top notch presentation from WWE Home Video with plenty of content to keep you occupied for a while.
Best match – Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks
Wrestlemania Pre-Show – US Title Match – Kalisto (c) vs. Ryback
Wrestlemania Pre-Show – 10 Women’s Tag Match – Total Divas vs BAD & Blonde
Wrestlemania Pre-Show – The Usos vs. Dudley Boyz
Complete WWE Hall Of Fame 2016 Ceremony featuring:
Legacy Hall Of Fame 2016
Big Boss Man
Warrior Award – Joan Lunden
Fighting For A Legacy
WWE WRESTLEMANIA 32 – ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION
Individually Numbered And Strictly Limited To 1,000 COPIES
Wrestlemania 32 – 3 Disc DVD Set
Exclusive Hall Of Fame 2016 Art Card Hand Signed by STING
Actual Shane McMahon $1,000,000 Bill Used During His Wrestlemania 32 Entrance
Actual Piece Of Ring Canvas From Wrestlemania 32
Rating – **** ½
Man In Black