Pro Wrestling

10 Reasons Why WrestleMania 32 Was One Of The Worst Ever Source:

We’re not going to sugarcoat things here, WrestleMania 32 was an incredibly disappointing show. It featured good and occasionally great wrestling that was, in every instance, immediately undercut by questionable and often nonsensical booking decisions. It had a main event where the crowd reactions were so poor that WWE resorted to actual technical trickery to silence the audience’s opinion. And in the end, it set attendance records and made WWE a bunch of money, so they probably didn’t learn a single thing. If you thought Batman v Superman was bad, well, strap in, because it certainly seemed like WWE saw the fan backlash to that movie and said to themselves “I bet we can beat that.” But while the immediate response has been to declare this the worst WrestleMania of all time, we have to step back and ask ourselves, was it really? Was WrestleMania 32 the absolute bottom of the barrel of WWE? Well, let’s take a closer look before we come to a decision…

10. But First, The Good News

Listen, we were as shocked as everyone when Zack Ryder, who probably wouldn’t even have been in the match if not for a series of unfortunate injuries, ended up as Intercontinental Champion. But if you had to give us an option that wasn’t Sami Zayn or Kevin Owens, we probably would have backed Ryder the whole way. Sure, it doesn’t make any real sense because Zack has been a non-factor since roughly 2011, but if the reaction he go was any indication, he still has the support of the fans. No one can say Ryder hasn’t waded through waist-high garbage in the last few years, and to say this title win was both well-deserved and far overdue would be understating it. Even if he gets killed tonight on Raw and loses the title right back to Kevin Owens (hopefully that won’t happen, but you’ll forgive us if we’re not feeling generous towards WWE today), he still has an incredible WrestleMania moment with a stadium full of people cheering his victory while he hugged his father in the middle of the ring. Of such things are WrestleMania moments made. Congratulations, WWE, of all the bone-headed decisions you made at WrestleMania, you at least got this one right. Source:

9. Welcome To WWE, AJ Styles

We’re going to need someone from WWE itself to sit down with us and try and explain the line of thought that goes into AJ Styles losing to Chris Jericho at WrestleMania. Fandango beat Chris Jericho at WrestleMania, and later on in the evening we watched him be the first man eliminated in a comedy spot in the Andre The Giant Battle Royal. But AJ Styles is the guy that they paid a dump truck full of money to poach away from New Japan, who got a hero’s ovation when he entered the Royal Rumble, and has clearly positioned himself as capable of being one of WWE’s top faces going forward, with crowd reactions far better than…oh, wait, now I get it. Not that I’m suggesting there’s a huge conspiracy designed to neuter every single face in WWE in service of that guy in the main event who we’ll get to, but not only did AJ Styles lose, Chris Jericho kicked out of or countered every single one of his finishers, and pinned him cleanly. No shenanigans, no controversy, not even a handful of tights. AJ Styles went down in defeat in his WrestleMania debut, clean as a sheet, to a guy we spent the last three months making “Cool Dad” jokes about, whose only purpose is supposed to be giving up-and-coming stars a big win against an established, partially retired star from the Attitude Era. Because after WrestleMania, it’s clear that Jericho is the only star from that era who actually might do that once in a while. Source:

8. Still The Worst Plan Ever

Okay, we need to lay out the League of Nations’ plan here, again. They lost two consecutive title matches, lost almost every one-on-one match against The New Day, in order to secure a match at WrestleMania that was not for the tag team titles, and then even gave up their 4-on-3 advantage out of, what, sportsmanship? And then they somehow managed to win this match, which doesn’t really matter anyway, because like we said, no titles on the line. Sure, they’ll probably get another title shot now, but would you put money on them actually winning a match that mattered? In fact, likely the only reason they won was because the match was non-title and completely meaningless, which would be fine if this match happened at, say, Fastlane, but on the Grandest Stage of Them All? And then, because the Attitude Era will always be superior, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, and Steve Austin came out and beat the crap out of the League of Nations. We’re sure it’s a great honor for the League to sell for retired guys and for Xavier Woods to eat a Stunner, and all that crap that wrestlers say these days to explain why the new generation continues to look like incompetent goofs next to the badasses of the Attitude Era, but if you actually had someone get the upper hand on some of these old guys, you’d probably make the biggest star on the planet.

However, we will give The New Day all of the accolades for dressing up as Dragonball Z characters and getting Michael Cole to refer to “Vegeta” as if he had any clue who that was. Actually, maybe he does. Maybe Michael Cole really likes anime. We’d almost have to like him if that turned out to be true. Almost. Source:

7. We Knew He Couldn’t Win, But…

So, we knew going in that Dean Ambrose was going to lose this match when Brock randomly decided to stop selling and just end things. The whole point, we thought, was that Dean was going to fight with everything he had and make people believe at some point that he just might get lucky. Well, Ambrose certainly tried to give it all he had, but it sure seemed like he never really got that one moment where anyone thought he might actually win. Or if he did, it lasted less time than an eyeblink. What we saw was Brock Lesnar destroy Ambrose with suplexes, shrug off every weapon Dean used against him, get hit in the crotch one time to give Dean a momentary advantage, and then suplexed Ambrose a bunch more times and won the match. For an entire feud that was built on the hope of “But what if he did?” it certainly seemed like Ambrose never reached a point where anyone believed that he might. Given how much time other parts of this show got, it seems ridiculous that this match seemed like an abbreviated version of the story we really wanted them to tell. In the end, they’ll sell it as a gutsy performance by Ambrose, which they have to, because he’s working tonight on Raw and Brock probably won’t be, but even when John Cena was getting absolutely mauled by Lesnar at SummerSlam, at least it was John Cena and we knew that there was always a chance he could win. Ambrose got no such latitude, and as such, didn’t really get the star-making performance we were hoping for. Source:

6. Equality, Pro Wrestling Style

We want to start by saying that everything WWE did in relation to replacing the Divas Championship with the Women’s Championship was absolutely correct and well done, including removing the term “Divas” from their vocabulary and referring to all wrestlers, male and female, as “Superstars” (before you make the same joke that absolutely everyone has already made, we assume Total Divas will remain unchanged). Sure, it took until 2016 for WWE to truly recognize their female wrestlers as legitimate athletes, but in a business that’s five to ten years behind everything, this counts as serious progress. The match that followed absolutely lived up to its potential as the best Women’s match in WrestleMania history, and then some. It was everything those of us who watched Charlotte, Becky Lynch, and Sasha Banks evolve on NXT have come to expect from three incredible wrestling talents. And then Charlotte won the match with assistance from Ric Flair, and everything went to hell. You will see some people claim that because Ric Flair helped Charlotte by keeping Sasha from breaking up the pin, it sent the message that even if the women are now “equal” in status to the men, the Champion still required the help of a man to win. We’re not going to dismiss those complaints, because we understand that some people have a legitimate perspective that we don’t necessarily get to have. However, that’s not why we did like the finish. We’re upset because this finish is the exact same way Charlotte has won all of her title matches since becoming Champion, and if there was a time for that finish to backfire and create a new Champion, it would have been at WrestleMania. Honestly, we would have been fine with any of those three women walking out as Champion (admittedly, we wanted Sasha to win, because she’s awesome), we just hated the manner in which Charlotte ended up actually winning the match. Source:

5. All Hail The Status Quo!

Follow along with our train of thought, if you will. Six weeks ago, WWE brought back Shane McMahon to a hero’s welcome, as a character who, for the first time in years, actually had believable power to dethrone the Authority that had been running roughshod over WWE. Shane then spent several weeks talking about how WWE has been bad lately, with falling ratings, poor Creative decisions, and rising fan apathy towards the product. He addressed legitimate issues that wrestling fans have had with the current WWE product, and then declared that he wanted to take control and make real changes to the product. And we poor, deluded wrestling fans, desperate for a sign of hope, believed that this might actually be true. However, because WWE is somehow still beholden to a 51-year-old wrestler who lost the only thing that still mattered about his rare appearances two years ago and yet somehow still won’t stop coming back and getting his victories, at WrestleMania, Shane McMahon dove off the top of Hell in a Cell, crashed and burned, and lost the match. Remember all that stuff where Shane talked about a brighter future? All those plans which suggested things might change for the better? Yeah, it turns out WWE just needed a marquee Undertaker match for WrestleMania and had no actual interest in changing anything. Hope you enjoy even more adventures of Vince McMahon and The Authority cutting the balls off the entire roster and wondering why nobody gets over! Source:

4. None Of This Matters

And then we had the Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal, to cool off a crowd that had just been told, flat out, “none of those things you wanted are going to happen”. So, 90% of the participants enter the match in a group, just so you know none of them are important, including, somehow, former WWE Superstar Tatanka, making a return that absolutely nobody knew about. Also, Baron Corbin, apparently now an NXT graduate, was among the masses, which means that for his WWE debut, he didn’t even get an entrance of his own. Yes, he won the match, but when the match contained a whole bunch of losers and two or three top stars (and we’re being generous by calling Kane a top star), maybe give him his own entrance so the crowd knows he’s supposed to be someone to watch? At any rate, the big surprise was that Shaquille O’Neal was a surprise entrant, resuming a feud with The Big Show from a few years ago that barely anyone remembered. And then he and Show were eliminated by the field and that was the end of it. Apparently Shaq wants an actual one-on-one match with Big Show, which would be terrible, but also we would absolutely want to see it happen? What can we say, we’re enigmatic that way. Anyway, with Shaq out of the match, and the Texas native Mark Henry summarily tossed by Kane in what may be his last WrestleMania, the crowd had no interest in who won, and it did end up being Corbin, who has the look and the potential to be a decent big man in WWE, but who is definitely not there yet. We wish him the best, as we do all NXT graduates, but we also would have liked about fifteen different Superstars to get this win instead of him. Source:

3. RIP Bray Wyatt

After weeks of speculation as to what his role might be, The Rock came out to announce the (wholly made up) record-breaking attendance figure of over 100,000 (the real number is reportedly around 85,000, which would actually still break the real WrestleMania record, if they hadn’t spent so many years already lying about 93,000 people attending WrestleMania III), and we should note that at this point, the show, already six hours long including the two hour pre-show is clearly going to go long past the expected 11 PM end time. But apparently, it was very important to send The Rock out there to toss a few more shovelfuls of dirt on the formerly promising career of Bray Wyatt, initially talking about how Wyatt had all the tools to be a big star and then mocking him, followed up by Rock defeating Erick Rowan in a “match” that lasted six seconds. Then John Cena made his return to help The Rock, who we should remind you just effortless defeated one member, fight off The Wyatt Family. If John Cena is truly ready to be back in WWE at this point, why the hell wasn’t he already in a match at WrestleMania? And if he isn’t, and that was just a one-off moment that will be followed by him going back to rehab for a few months, then what was the point, other than to bury the Wyatt Family further into the ground? Source:

2. WWE Requests The Cone Of Silence

So, the entire night of questionable booking decisions and strange finishes, where the only person with a full-time job on the WWE roster who really got to have a feel-good moment that made the fans happy was Zack Ryder way back at the start of the show, was all building up a main event featuring the guy who WWE wants to be their biggest babyface star so badly that they literally suppressed the crowd audio to cover the fact that the audience was booing him out of the building. No, we’re serious, they weren’t even subtle about it. At one point, a large portion of the audience was actively doing the Fandango dance, yet somehow the audio sounded like it was coming from somewhere very far away. Listen, we’re not trying to tell WWE how to do their jobs (actually, we totally are, because they’re clearly bad at it), but if you have to go to these sort of lengths to pretend that the crowd isn’t actively defecating on your alleged #1 top good guy (and nearly every “victory” picture of Reigns on makes sure to cut the crowd out of the shot), then maybe you should have come up with a different plan for him.

In addition, we have both reports from people at the show and our own visual confirmation that fans were actually leaving the arena during this match, which lasted a ridiculous 27 minutes and didn’t even start until fifteen minutes after the Pay Per View was supposed to end! Given that everyone in the entire wrestling world knew what the outcome was going to be, and clearly a large portion were not going to be happy about it, what purpose did it serve to have the match take absolutely forever on a night where nearly every match up to this point had been an emotional gut punch for the fans? In the end, WWE got the result they’d been building to for two years, but at this point, how much has it cost them already, and how much will it do so in the future? Source:

1. How Is This The Same Company?

What really makes us sad, angry, and disappointed in WWE is that not only do we know that they can do better, but the company literally showed that they could not 48 hours earlier at their NXT TakeOver: Dallas event. On that show, the worst match of the evening was still better than many of the matches at WrestleMania. The good guys didn’t all win, in fact, the biggest babyfaces in NXT (well, up to now), both lost their matches, and yet the fans left the event happy and satisfied. NXT showed off a tag team match that was an absolute clinic and featured real emotion from the winners that was shared by the fans. They put Baron Corbin in the ring with indie darling Austin Aries and while it wasn’t a great match, it showed off exactly how much Corbin has improved since his NXT debut. Bayley lost the NXT Women’s title to her most deserving opponent in Asuka, in a match that on any other night probably would have been the best match of the evening. In the main event, we finally got to see the Samoa Joe that tore up independent wrestling a few years ago and was legitimately one of the most intimidating wrestlers on the planet, even if he didn’t beat Finn Balor in the end.

And then we had the debut of Shinsuke Nakamura, who, five seconds into his entrance, showed more charisma than Roman Reigns has shown since becoming a singles competitor. Nakamura and Sami Zayn absolutely tore down the house in a match that was without a doubt, the Match of the Night, of WrestleMania Weekend, and potentially the Year (and the only reason we’re not being definitive is because it’s only April and Nakamura will presumably wrestle a few more times before 2016 is over). It was, in every respect, as close to perfect as a Pay Per View could be, and the fact that WWE went out two days later, at what is supposed to be their biggest show of the year, and gave the fans what amounted to a nearly seven hour-long wet fart, is inexplicable, inexcusable, and indefensible. In the end, thanks to some great wrestling from the usual sources, it was not the worst WrestleMania of all time (seriously, people, WrestleMania IX was still far worse than this). But that’s the nicest thing we’re able to say about it. Source:

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle

Stephen Randle is an avid wrestling and film fan. He's been writing about WWE, movies, and video games for Goliath since 2015.