The 32nd WrestleMania took place at the home of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium in a newer facility where WWE was going to try to get 100,000 people in attendance to set a new record for the company.
Triple H went into WrestleMania 32 as the WWE Champion even though he wasn’t a regular in-ring competitor anymore. Triple H won the title at Royal Rumble 2016 after forcing Roman Reigns to defend the title in the Rumble match and that eventually led to Roman challenging Hunter at WrestleMania.
Part of the reason why Triple H was thrust into the spotlight was because of some major injuries in WWE. John Cena was out of action after major shoulder surgery in January 2016 while Seth Rollins tore his ACL (knee) in November 2015 while he was the WWE Champion. It’s certainly possible that WWE was going to go with Rollins vs. Reigns in the main event of this show, but it didn’t happen due to injuries.
Due to those injuries, WWE Chairman Vince McMahon called on his son Shane to come back to WWE for a match. Shane left the company in early 2010. Shane came back on Raw and his father put him in a match against The Undertaker, but it was not just any match, it was Hell in a Cell. For many fans, it was the most anticipated match on the show because they missed and because of the style of match they would have.
This event came at a time when WWE wasn’t doing the brand extension (Raw vs. Smackdown) stuff. In July of 2016 is when they went back to Raw vs. Smackdown because that’s when Smackdown became a live show on Tuesdays, so WWE decided to split the roster again.
This review was written in 2016 a few days after the show because I was there. I have added some updated thoughts (in blue font) as well. It was a very long show.
Here’s a view from my seat.
Great seats? No. We could see everything, though. The giant screens certainly help too. When you’re facing the ring and you only have to look up to see the screens, that’s a good thing. It was fine for $200 or so. I’m not going to spend over $1000 on WrestleMania tickets. That’s just not something I want to do. At least we didn’t have palm trees blocking our view like at WrestleMania 28 in Miami!
(The seats look really far away from that photo, but when you’re there in person it doesn’t seem as bad, Plus the screen above the ring is so huge that you can also just watch that too.)
The Kickoff show matches went like this:
* Kalisto defeated Ryback to retain the US Title
* Team Total Divas (Alicia Fox, Brie Bella, Eva Marie, Natalya, and Paige) defeated Team B.A.D. and Blonde (Emma, Lana, Naomi, Summer Rae, and Tamina)
* The Usos (Jey Uso and Jimmy Uso) defeated The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray Dudley and D-Von Dudley)
(I remember waiting outside for two hours to get in because the WiFi was down at the stadium, so they had a problem scanning tickets. I don’t think we got to our seats until the end of the women’s tag team match.)
WWE WrestleMania 32
AT&T Stadium in Dallas (Arlington), Texas
April 3, 2016
The five women singing group Fifth Harmony sang America The Beautiful to start things off.
There was a video package that highlighted the history of WrestleMania as well as the key feuds heading into this year’s event.
As Dolph Ziggler made his entrance, the announce team of Michael Cole, John Bradshaw Layfield and Byron Saxton welcomed us to the show. There are also announcers at ringside doing commentary in Spanish and German. They showed other announce teams seated around the arena as well including Funaki working on the Japanese broadcast.
Ladder Match For The Intercontinental Title: Kevin Owens vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz vs. Sami Zayn vs. Stardust vs. Sin Cara vs. Zack Ryder
Six guys went to the floor as Owens was alone in the ring. Zayn went face to face with Owens, which drew a huge ovation and then they exchanged blows. Big dropkick by Sin Cara with a dropkick on Owens as KO held a ladder. Ryder neckbreaker on Stardust on a ladder that was on the mat. The Miz tried to climb even though he didn’t set it up well. Zayn hit a Blue Thunder Bomb on Ziggler. The crowd supported Zayn a lot, which made me really happy. Owens with a back body drop on a ladder against the ropes and then Ryder nailed the Rough Ryder on Owens. Stardust knocked down Ziggler and Ryder when they went for a climb. A bunch of guys were outside the ring as Sin Cara sent Stardust to the floor. Zayn hit a somersault dive on a bunch of guys outside the ring (he jumped under the ladder to do it) and then an incredible DDT on Owens on the floor. Sin Cara was shoved off the ladder, landed on the top rope and did a flip dive on a bunch of guys on the floor. Sweet spot. Ziggler with a superkick on Zayn on the floor, then a superkick on Sin Cara in the ring and then a superkick on Ryder in the ring as well. Owens and Ziggler did superkicks on eachother at the same time. Stardust brought out a polka dot ladder in honor of his dad Dusty Rhodes. I liked Stardust’s polka dots on his outfit as well. Stardust cleaned house with the ladder until Miz dropped him with a Skull Crushing Finale on the ladder. Owens with a cradle kneebreaker on Stardust and then he tossed the polka dot ladder out of the ring.
Zayn went after Owens again, but Owens kicked him. Owens nailed a Frog Splash off the top rope that sent Zayn through a ladder. That looked awesome and painful at the same time. Fans chanting “this is awesome” for them. Owens with a Popup Powerbomb on Miz. Ryder knocked down Owens with a ladder shot and then Ryder hit a flying elbow drop on Miz from the top of the ladder. Ziggler nailed a facebuster on Ryder off the top of the ladder. Owens yanked Ziggler off the ladder and then hit a Popup Powerbomb on him. Stardust hit the Queen’s Crossbow neckbreaker on Owens. Sin Cara stunned Stardust with a kick that put Stardust on a ladder that was bridged from the apron to the barricade. Owens tipped the ladder that Sin Cara was on and that sent Cara onto Stardust through a ladder on the floor. Huge spot that drew a huge reaction.
Owens climbed up, but there’s Zayn to stop him. Owens knocked him down after gouging him in the eye. Zayn nailed Owens with a Dragon Suplex onto a ladder that was in the ring. That was brutal looking. Zayn climbed up, but Miz was there to shove the ladder to knock him down. I thought that was it for Zayn. Miz climbed up the ladder, reached the top, look down at all the fallen opponents and was cocky as he tried to grab the ladder. Ryder showed up on the back side, shoved Miz off and Ryder yanked down the IC Title to win the gold after 15:23 of action.
Winner: Zack Ryder
Post match, Ryder’s dad was in the ring to celebrate with his son. Ryder celebrated with the title as the crowd cheered him on. Cool moment for him.
Analysis: **** A four star match that was an excellent choice for a PPV opener. Ryder getting the win was a big surprise because he’s barely been on television for a few years. I don’t mind him as a performer, so I’m happy he was able to get his WrestleMania moment. It didn’t last long since he dropped the title to Miz the next day. There were some cool spots in the match with Zayn’s dive under the ladder, Sin Cara’s splash onto Stardust on the ladder and Owens with that Frog Splash on Zayn on the ladder too. Ziggler didn’t have enough spots where he stood out, which was a bit of a surprise to me. Other than that, it was even in terms of giving each man a chance to shine. Since we are so used to seeing multi-man ladder matches, they never disappoint since they have a formula in place for what works. This was an above average match that got the crowd into the show from the beginning.
(This is one of the better openers at a WrestleMania. There have been several good ones in the opening spot including the previous two WrestleManias, but none of them are as good Bret vs. Owen Hart at WM10 in 1994. They’re all experienced wrestlers that worked hard and set up the big spots. I thought Zayn and Owens were the stars of this match. Ryder’s win was a surprise because he wasn’t doing much in WWE at the time. As I mentioned above, Ryder lost the title to The Miz the next day on Raw so it was short-lived title reign.)
A commercial aired for Tapout gear. Get ready because WWE invested a lot of money in Tapout and will be shilling it heavily going forward.
A video package aired to set up Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles.
Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles
Good reactions for both guys for their entrances. Styles sent Jericho out of the ring with a clothesline over the top. Things were even after that until Styles nailed a springboard dropkick that Jericho usually does. Jericho was able to take control with a dropkick to counter a Styles attack on the floor. Jericho did his cocky pin with the “c’mon baby” yell. Then the “ask him” chinlock. Styles came back with a running forearm. Jericho with a Walls of Jericho, but Styles got to the ropes. Styles with a moonsault into a reverse DDT that didn’t look perfect although it got the job done. Styles shoved Jericho into the second turnbuckle followed by Styles hitting a front suplex off the top rope. Pele Kick by Styles was caught by Jericho leading to the Walls of Jericho – great counter right there. Jericho has always been one of the best in terms of countering holds. After Styles broke free, he applied his Calf Crusher submission, but Jericho fought out of it. Styles went for a Styles Clash, Jericho got out of it and then Styles went for a springboard attack. He jumped off the ropes, Jericho moved and Jericho hit the Codebreaker. Jericho made a slow cover, so Styles managed to kick out. Styles came back with a suplex into a face first slam for two. I should note that towards the end of this match, we could see the giant Booty O’s cereal being put on the stage. Styles with a hurricanrana. He went for a Styles Clash, he hit it and Jericho kicked out at two. I thought that was the finish. So did the crowd. Styles got his knees up to counter a Lionsault. Styles connected with a Springboard 450 that was good for only two. Styles hit a brainbuster. Styles was frustrated. He went for a springboard forearm, Jericho shoved the ref and then Jericho hit the Codebreaker for the win after 17:10 of action.
Winner by pinfall: Chris Jericho
Analysis: ***1/4 That was a surprising finish because I figured Styles was going to get the win at his first WrestleMania. They probably went the Jericho route just to surprise people by making it less predictable. When Jericho hit that Codebreaker and Styles kicked out, I figured for sure Styles would win. Why spend all that money to bring him in and try to make him a big deal right away? A win would have made sense. Nope. In terms of quality, I was expecting a better match. I don’t think I’m being too harsh in saying that. They just didn’t get to that next gear in terms of intensity and nearfalls, but it was still really good for the most part.
(This match was good, but not great. I don’t know if it was a chemistry issue or just the way they structured the match. Styles went on to have an amazing 2016 and was the WWE wrestler of the year easily, I thought. This was one of his worst PPV matches of the year. Jericho would go on to have a pretty good 2016 as well although a lot of that was due to promo work as well. Anyway, I enjoyed this for the most part even though both guys have had a lot better matches in their careers.)
A commercial aired for Total Divas.
They showed celebrities at ringside: Stephen Amell, Bill Simmons and Maria Menounos, who did an interview backstage. That’s it? Usually they have more celebrities.
Ryder was interviewed by Menounos, who wore a Shane McMahon shirt. Ryder called it the greatest moment of his life. He spoke about seeing Razor Ramon winning the IC Title at WrestleMania 10 and then the story of getting a pic with Razor. He said if he retired today, he’d be a happy man because he lived his dream.
The New Day made their entrance with the huge Booty O’s cereal box. They were actually in the box with some of the cereal. Xavier Woods mentioned they just entered out of a 20-foot box of Booty O’s cereal. Big E said New Day rocks. Kingston didn’t say much.
(This was when New Day turned face, so I guess you could say making an entrance from a cereal box is the kind of thing that could make fans like you. They were heels before this.)
The New Day – Xavier Woods, Big E & Kofi Kingston vs. League of Nations – Sheamus, Rusev & Alberto Del Rio (w/King Barrett)
This is not for the Tag Team Titles. It was advertised as a 4 on 3 match, but WWE changes things all the time. New Day did the “unicorn stampede” spot early on to pop the crowd. The heels worked over Woods with Del Rio hitting a DDT on him for two. More quick tags by the heels as they worked on Woods with Sheamus hitting some forearm shots to the chest while chanting “New Day sucks.” Nice flip into a splash by Rusev. Woods with a back body drop on Del Rio sent him to the floor. Rusev nailed a superkick on Big E outside the ring. Woods with a spinning DDT on Sheamus. Kingston gets the hot tag from Woods. Dropkicks for Kingston, then the double foot attack and a boom drop on both guys. Sheamus caught Kingston when he tried for Trouble in Paradise. Ref was distracted by Barrett, so Rusev kicked Kingston leading to a two count for Sheamus. Big E tagged in, belly to belly to Sheamus and then he gave one to Rusev as well. Big E hit a running shoulder tackle/spear to take out Sheamus, Rusev and Barrett. That was cool in theory, but didn’t hit perfectly. Woods hit a double foot stomp off the top on Sheamus for two. Del Rio with a backstabber to Woods. Del Rio with a double foot stomp on Kingston on the apron sending Kingston down hard into the floor outside the ring. Woods got a rollup on Sheamus, that led to Sheamus kicking out, Barrett nailed the Bull Hammer Elbow on Woods and then Sheamus hit the Brogue Kick on Woods for the pinfall win after 10:03.
Winners by pinfall: Sheamus, Rusev & Alberto Del Rio
Analysis: ** It was okay. A basic tag match. No surprise to see New Day lose a match where the tag titles aren’t on the line. I picked the League of Nations to win because I figured they needed the victory more to get them some much-needed momentum. Barrett factoring into the finish also works because that’s the numbers advantage that the LON has in this match. Might as well factor that into the finish.
(The League of Nations group was a short-term thing, but they really didn’t have a big impact. New Day has gone on to be one of the best groups in WWE history. The match was just average. Considering Wade Barrett wasn’t booked in the match, it’s easy to see why he would leave WWE and from WWE’s perspective, they likely did it that way since Barrett didn’t want to sign a new contract. Barrett was gone from WWE as a wrestler in May 2016.)
Barrett did a promo saying The Lads have won. He said there are no three men in history that could ever go toe to toe with this unit. He said they’re three of the meanest, toughest, baddest…and here’s the interruption.
Here’s Shawn Michaels! Huge ovation for HBK. He had his wrestling gear on and he looked to be in great shape. Then Mick Foley’s music hit. Huge cheers for him too as he was wearing some Cactus Jack gear. Stone Cold! Stone Cold! The loudest ovation of them all was for Steve Austin. The crowd went wild as they heard the glass break for his music. The “Dallas 3:16” shirt made him very popular too. They walked down to the ring together.
The three legends got into the ring. The New Day yanked Barrett out of the ring. Foley unleashed on Sheamus with some fists, then the running knee and he slapped on the Mandible Claw with Mr. Socko on Sheamus. Michaels followed with a Sweet Chin Music superkick on Del Rio. Austin hit the Stone Cold Stunner on Rusev too. Barrett was in the ring, so he took Sweet Chin Music, Mr. Socko and a Stone Cold Stunner for him too.
The New Day were in the ring with the legends. They started doing their dance. Kingston got Michaels to dance with him. Foley did some hip gyrating with Big E as well. Woods tried to get Austin to dance. JBL was saying he’s never seen Stone Cold dance. Austin was smiling, then he did some finger snapping, but that didn’t last long as he kicked Woods in the stomach and hit a Stone Cold Stunner on Woods. Austin celebrated with beers for himself and his buddies. Huge crowd reactions for all of this. Austin drank the most beer out of everybody of course while Michaels and Foley had a few too.
Analysis: That was my favorite segment on the whole show. The pop for Austin was one of the loudest I’ve ever heard. It’s one thing to hear in a regular arena, but when you’re in there with 100,000 people it’s one of those special things you won’t soon forget. I know some fans will probably complain about how these legends hurt the League of Nations group by beating them up so easily, but I don’t really mind it. It’s a way to pop the crowd in the stadium, to give us a big moment we won’t soon forget and to cater to the casual fans as well. This segment worked really well in my opinion. That reaction for Austin was a special moment. I’m glad he was a part of the show.
(It was a great cameo appearance for three legends – Austin, Michaels and Foley. The pop for Austin was huge. I remember the visual of Austin dancing with Woods before hitting the Stunner and that drew a lot of laughs. WrestleMania is all about the moments as WWE likes to say, so that’s what this was.)
There was a commercial for WWE Network programming.
The video package aired to set up Ambrose vs. Lesnar.
Brock Lesnar entered first. Paul Heyman did the big in-ring intro for his client. That was cool. Nice ovation for Dean Ambrose. I think the level of cheers was about the same for both guys.
No Holds Barred Street Fight: Brock Lesnar (w/Paul Heyman) vs. Dean Ambrose
Lesnar hit a German Suplex early on and there’s a second one. I should point out that on the giant video screens above the ring, they had a counter up to show the number of suplexes that Lesnar did. Lesnar hit a third German Suplex leading to Ambrose rolling out to the floor. Ambrose attacked Lesnar with a kendo stick with several shots to the body. Lesnar came back with knee lifts followed by two more German Suplexes, which were the 4th and 5th of the match. There were “Let’s go Ambrose/Suplex City” chants from the crowd. Lesnar broke a kendo stick instead of using it. Lesnar hit his 6th German Suplex. Lesnar with a vertical suplex, so that’s his 7th suplex of the match. Lesnar stepped on a kendo stick to prevent Ambrose from getting it. Lesnar hit German Suplex #8. Ambrose tried to come back, but Lesnar nailed him with the 9th suplex – another German one. Ambrose hit a low blow to cheers from the crowd. Ambrose destroyed Lesnar with the kendo stick followed by a suicide dive outside the ring. Ambrose grabbed a chainsaw from under the ring. He couldn’t start it. Lesnar gave Ambrose a belly to belly suplex on the floor, so that’s #10. Ambrose hit Lesnar in the head with a laptop. Chair to the back by Ambrose sent Lesnar into the ring. When Ambrose was on the top rope, Lesnar hit a popup superplex to take him down. That’s what Kurt Angle always used to do – Lesnar is certainly capable of that. Ambrose sprayed a fire extinguisher in Lesnar’s face followed by about eight body shots with a chair. Dropkick into the chair by Ambrose. Ambrose jumped off the top with a chair and connected with it, so that’s a nearfall for Ambrose.
Ambrose tossed several chairs into the ring. Lesnar gave Ambrose a German Suplex that sent Ambrose over the chairs while Lesnar’s back actually hit the chairs. Ambrose countered a F5 into a DDT onto a chair for two. Good nearfall. Ambrose did a Lesnar like flex. Ambrose got the barbed wire bat from under the ring. It looked like he was kissing it. Lesnar got back to his feet avoided the attack and hit a German Suplex onto the chairs, which was #13. Lesnar hit a F5 on the chairs. Lesnar covered the win at the 12:49 mark.
Winner by pinfall: Brock Lesnar
Analysis: **1/2 It was just an average match that was underwhelming because I had such high expectations for it. I felt like it was doing to be this 17-25 minute brutal battle that ends up being a classic as Ambrose keeps kicking out and never gives up. Instead, Lesnar won pretty easily because of his overwhelming power advantage. I kept waiting for Ambrose to find a way to get some believable nearfalls. They just never got to that point. As much as I like Lesnar and as good as he is, he’s doing too many suplexes now and it’s not allowing him to tell a story in the match the way he’s capable of. Maybe it’s my fault for getting my expectations up too high. I just thought they had great chemistry in the Fastlane main event in February. It just didn’t match that level of intensity even though you would think that would happen at WrestleMania. It was still a good effort from both guys, but it was a bit disappointing.
(I think I liked this match more than most people, but it was still disappointing. I know some people hated it. I’m pretty sure Ambrose hated it. The match was disappointing because there were high expectations for it. As we found out a few years later when Ambrose left WWE, Lesnar really wasn’t willing to do much with him and that hurt the match. I thought they could have an entertaining brawl, but that’s not what this was. Lesnar winning was the obvious outcome.)
They did a Snickers commercial spot with Ric Flair, Zack Ryder, Dolph Ziggler and then Ryder turned into Charlotte after he ate a Snickers.
A video package aired for the Hall of Fame.
The Hall of Fame class appeared on the stage with Sting getting the biggest spotlight.
A clip aired of Lita earlier in the ring when they announced the new WWE Women’s Title that will replace the Divas Title.
Analysis: The Divas Title looked awful. The Women’s Title looks a lot better. I’m all for the change. Plus, getting rid of the term “diva” is a positive as well.
(It was a good change by WWE. While I don’t think labeling women’s superstars “divas” was necessarily a bad thing, this change told the fans .)
A video package aired about the Divas Revolution leading up to this match.
(Sometimes it was an evolution and other times it was a revolution. It was hard to keep track at times.)
Lita was in the ring holding the new WWE Women’s Title. Becky Lynch entered first. Sasha Banks had a really cool entrance with her cousin Snoop Dogg rapping for her along with a woman named Raven Felix singing the lyrics of Sasha’s song. I loved this because I think Sasha’s got one of the best songs in WWE. Also, I loved that Sasha was wearing Eddie Guerrero-like pants and boots for this match. That was her hero, so it’s a great tribute to him. Charlotte’s entrance was also awesome because she had a robe like her father Ric Flair and apparently part of this robe was from Flair’s outfit in his last WWE match at WrestleMania 24.
Analysis: I’m just glad that their entrances were treated like a big deal. The build up to this match has been great and they made it seem important with these entrances as well.
WWE Women’s Title (Divas Title): Charlotte (w/Ric Flair) vs. Sasha Banks vs. Becky Lynch
There were some pinfall sequences early on. Nice to hear Cole calling them “superstars” instead of “divas” because they are dropping the divas term. Banks did a headscissors takedown followed by an Eddie-like shake. They went for a sunset flip spot by Banks, but she didn’t connect with Lynch – they were able to make up for it. Charlotte picked up Banks outside the ring and sent her back first into the ropes. Lynch took out Charlotte with a forearm. Reverse DDT by Lynch on Charlotte gets two. Charlotte came back with a backbreaker on Lynch for two. Banks tried getting back into it, but Lynch sent her over the top to the floor. Lynch applied an armbar on Charlotte only for Banks to break it up, but then Banks got sent out of the ring. Charlotte applied a Figure Four on Lynch and Banks capitalized on that with an Eddie Guerrero-like Frog Splash on Charlotte for two. That was a really cool spot Lynch with a German Suplex on Banks. Lynch with a pumphandle in a slam for a two count that was broken up by Banks. Banks with a double knee attack to Lynch and then she hit a dive on Charlotte through the ropes. It looks like she hit her feet on the ropes, but she was still able to land safely. Lynch did a dive for Banks that ended up nailing Flair. Crowd cheered loudly for that. Lynch and Banks were on the floor. Charlotte went to the top rope and hit a moonsault on both women that connected perfectly. What a great move! Wow! That’s so impressive. She’s such an incredible athlete that has no problem showing off in a way that nobody else can.
Back in the ring, Charlotte hit a double Natural Selection on both women at the same time. She got nearfalls after that. Charlotte had Banks on her shoulders, so Lynch jumped off the top with a missile dropkick for two. Lynch applied the Disarmer submission on Charlotte. Banks broke it up. Banks applied the Banks Statement submission on Lynch that was broken up by Charlotte, who put the Figure Eight on Banks. Lynch pulled on Sasha’s arms to break it up. All three women were down selling fatigue followed by a spot where they exchanged chops and forearm smashes. Charlotte nailed Banks with a Spear. They battled on the turnbuckle with Lynch hitting a superplex on Charlotte. Banks with the Banks Statement on Lynch. Charlotte tossed Lynch out of the ring. Charlotte put Lynch in Figure Eight submission. Banks tried to break it up, but Ric held onto her to prevent her from interfering. The referee didn’t see that. Even if he did, there’s no disqualification in a triple threat. Lynch tapped out to give Charlotte the win at the 16:01 mark.
Winner by submission: Charlotte
Post match, Charlotte posed with the WWE Women’s Title as fireworks went off in the stadium as well as outside of AT&T Stadium.
Analysis: **** That was an awesome match that I rated at four stars out of five. Great nearfalls throughout, a lot of awesome submission holds and some big spots as well like Charlotte’s moonsault to the floor. The crowd bought into the nearfalls as well as the submission spots too. Sometimes the crowd doesn’t care when a match is booked this evenly, but in this case they were into it in a major way. I think it’s arguably the best women’s match in the history of WWE’s main roster. There have been better on NXT, but for main roster it’s right at the time. I’m a little surprised by the outcome because they did the “Flair helps Charlotte” finish so many times that I figured this would be the night where it doesn’t work and there’s a new champion. Instead, they are keeping the title on Charlotte. I don’t have anything against her because I think she’s a tremendous talent. I just thought it was going to be a night where Banks left with the title. Give them credit for having the best match on the show. No group of women could ever say that at a WrestleMania, so it was a history making night.
(This was a great match that featured a creative finish with Flair grabbing Banks to prevent her from breaking up the submission. Flair and Banks would go on to have six title changes between them before the end of the year, so they had a very long feud. Lynch had a lot of success as one of the top women on Smackdown later in 2016 and then a few years later she became an even bigger star. I liked this match a lot.)
The Hell in a Cell structure was lowered. A video package aired to set up The Undertaker’s match with Shane McMahon.
Shane McMahon made his entrance first. There were dollar bills with Shane’s face on them. I didn’t get one. He brought out his three sons to dance on the stage and walk down to the ring with him. Shane left the boys with his wife and mom at ringside. The Undertaker made his entrance. Nothing special about it, but it’s always cool to see him walk that long WrestleMania aisle. It usually takes him about four minutes to get into the ring.
(Shane’s return was a huge difference-maker for WWE. Ticket sales were slow, some big names like Seth Rollins and John Cena weren’t wrestling due to injuries and then when Shane returned to WWE in February 2016, there was a noticeable jump in ticket sales. I know some people may not be huge Shane fans, but in 2016 the return of Shane was a big deal.)
Hell in a Cell: The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon
There was a slow start to the match with Undertaker using his power advantage to dominate early on. Taker dropped Shane face first on the turnbuckle, but Shane came back with a back elbow. JBL was doing a good job of putting over Undertaker’s greatness in big matches. Taker threw Shane into the side of the cell. Taker did his leg drop on the apron. Taker connected with the Last Ride powerbomb for a two count. Undertaker brought part of the bottom part of the stacked steel steps into the ring. Shane had Undertaker in a triangle choke for about a minute, but Undertaker broke free after Shane let go when his own shoulders were down. Taker came back with a Chokeslam on the steps for a two count. Undertaker missed an elbow drop on the steps, so he was in pain. Shane signaled Undertaker to bring it and then Shane nailed a DDT onto the steps for a two count. Shane with an elbow drop for two. Undertaker applied the Hell’s Gate submission move. Shane was able to fight out of it and applied a Sharpshooter although it didn’t look that great. Shane pounded on Taker with fists in the corner as a way to weaken him. Undertaker was in the spot for a familiar Shane move with Shane bringing out a trash can. Shane put the trash can in front of Undertaker, climbed the ropes on the opposite side of the ring and nailed the Coast to Coast dropkick into the trash can. That’s still a really cool move that is always going to pop the crowd like it did here. That earned a two count for Shane.
Shane had bolt cutters as he tried to cut open a part of the cell. Undertaker picked up Shane and then drove Shane into the cell to break it open where Shane had cut some of it open already. That was a predictable spot, but it worked. Undertaker cleared off some of the English announce table as well as the Spanish announce table. Shane applied a sleeper hold on Undertaker by this staging area near the announce table. Undertaker drove Shane through the Spanish announce table. Shane found a tool box that he used to hit Undertaker in the head with. Another tool box shot to the head by Shane. He looked up to the top of the cell. Shane with a TV monitor shot to the head of Taker.
Shane climbed up the side of the cell by the announce tables. The crowd was going crazy for this while the announcers were freaking out. That cell is a legit 20 feet high if not more – probably closer to 25 feet. Shane stood up at the top of the cell as he looked down on Undertaker laying on the table. Shane jumped off, Undertaker moved and Shane went crashing through the table! Wow! What a crazy bump. One of the biggest bumps in the history of wrestling. It looked silly as he was laying there while Cole was reading his comments off a sheet: “For the love of mankind, Shane just exploded through our table.” They replayed it a couple of times. What a bump. That’s crazy that he would do something like that. Undertaker brought Shane back into the ring. Undertaker hit a Tombstone and covered for the win at 30:05.
Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker
Analysis: **1/4 It was a really long match that probably went 10-15 minutes longer than it needed to be, but it’s no surprise that they hit the 30-minute mark. Obviously it was memorable just for the big spot by Shane crashing through that table. People can say what they want about the table being padded or whatever, but it’s pretty impressive to see a guy jump down 25 feet just for the sake of entertaining us. I’m glad that Undertaker moved out of the way of it because that would have been a painful bump. I’m also happy that they did the pin right after that because there was no reason for Shane to wrestle much longer after a move like that. They were smart to end it soon after. This was the definition of a match that’s a lot more fun when you see it live compared to the television broadcast. The crowd was so ready for this match and it felt like it should have been the main event because the interest in the match was so high. I get why it didn’t go on last, but it should have. I picked Shane to win because I felt like that Authority angle had to end and if Shane won this match they could have done that. They had him run Raw, but I don’t think that’s going to last long. The stipulations could have been better. At least it was a memorable match thanks to that crazy bump by Shane.
Post match, Undertaker slowly left the ring. Shane was carted off on a stretcher to sell the beating that he took. He gave a thumbs up as he went away.
(The huge bump by Shane is what people will always remember because it was a crazy leap from him. The match was just average and went way too long. On a show that was already way too long, they should have had a shorter match. I hated Cole reading “For the love of mankind” off a sheet because it didn’t feel authentic. Undertaker winning was the obvious finish.)
They showed a party deck area where people were standing as they watched the show. It was section 220, which is near where I was seated. I didn’t make it.
The PPV Kickoff Panel of Renee Young, Booker T, Lita and Corey Graves talked about the show.
Third Annual Andre The Giant Battle Royal
There were 20 men in this match with two surprises at the end: Diamond Dallas Page and Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq and Big Show did a double Chokeslam on Kane. Henry hit a KO Punch on Henry. A lot of guys went to the floor, then Fandango danced in front of Show and Shaq, so Show dumped Fandango. Damien Sandow stood up to them, got a big ovation and Shaq tossed Fandango out. Big staredown from Show and Shaq. The crowd was into it. They choked eachother, so the other guys in the match capitalized on that by dumping both guys over the top to the floor. DDP hit a Diamond Cutter on Viktor and then dumped him out. Konnor eliminated DDP shortly after that. Goldust and R-Truth did a double clothesline to get rid of Konnor. Tatanka was in the match, so he did his warpath spot against Adam Rose with a bunch of chops. It barely got a reaction. Corbin tossed out Tatanka.
Kane with a back body drop on Swagger. Truth nailed a jumping side kick on Curtis Axel, but then he was eliminated by Slater and Dallas. Axel and Dallas eliminated Goldust. The Social Outcasts foursome did a celebratory victory lap in the ring. Kane dumped Axel, Corbin sent Rose out and then Kane gave Corbin a Chokeslam. Henry was back in there after being on the floor for most of the match. Henry dumped Slater out and then a Gorilla Press Slam by Henry eliminated Breeze. Kane dumped Henry with an assist from Darren Young. Kane dumped out Young and Dallas at the same time. Corbin snuck up behind Kane to eliminate him, which gave Corbin the win after 9:41 of action.
Winner: Baron Corbin
Analysis: *3/4 It was an average battle royal designed to put over a newcomer in NXT star Corbin, which is fine with me. My feeling going into this was that Braun Strowman was going to win, but he wasn’t even in the match. You might as well use this match to put over somebody new instead of some older guy. I liked seeing Shaq out there. He’s always been a guy that I thought would fit in well with WWE. After WM, he said he’s going to face Show at next year’s WM. That’s not a lock, but it makes sense to do it. The match was fine. Nothing special about it.
(I don’t have much to add except that it was smart of Corbin to shave his head. The look he had with the hair and that gear was not good for him. I enjoyed seeing Shaq in the match too.)
A video showed that WrestleMania 33 will take place in Orlando on April 2, 2017.
The world famous Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders danced on the stage. They were interrupted by some guy that’s kind of a big deal…The Rock.
The Rock Makes His WrestleMania Appearance
Huge ovation for The Rock as there was some giant “ROCK” lettering on the stage that he lit on fire with a blowtorch of some kind. I guess it was a way to give him an electrifying entrance. It worked well.
The Rock did his usual “finally” line about coming back to Dallas. He put over the huge crowd saying there were a lot of smiling faces out there while saying there would be a lot of WrestleMania babies out there. The Rock announced the attendance for the show: 101,763.
Analysis: The actual number was reportedly 97,769 according to Dave Meltzer of the Wrestling Observer while Fightful reported it was 80,709 people who went through the turnstiles, which is very official since they learned it from the Arlington, TX police department. The 97k number would represent the total number of people in the building. WWE announcing 101,763 is typical for them since they have always inflated attendance numbers. That’s part of the show, of course.
(What I can tell you from being there is I believe the 97k number. I heard from others that there were thousands of fans that were in the building that didn’t even have a seat, but they could watch on monitors or see the ring from a long distance. I don’t know how many people were actually in seats. I’m just saying from being there live, you can tell there was more people than in a 70,000 seat NFL stadium, which many of them are. This place was significantly bigger.)
The Wyatt Family trio of Bray Wyatt, Erick Rowan & Braun Strowman entered to confront The Rock. No Luke Harper since he tore his ACL and was out for about eight months. It was so cool to see all the lights in the stadium as they made their entrance.
Wyatt introduced himself to The Rock. He got in the ring with Strowman and Rowan while Wyatt told Rock that he represents a lie. He put over The Rock as the People’s Champion, but it’s not Rock’s moment – he said it is his (Bray’s) moment. He made more threats as Rock looked a bit nervous.
The Rock responded to Wyatt by saying that instead of Wyatt being nice to him, he said he’s there to eviscerate his soul and then have some waffles at Cracker Barrel. Rock said that Wyatt was talking like he was hitting the bong after eight days. Rock said that clearly Rowan’s parents are related and Strowman looks like he’s been breastfed since he was 26 years old. Both jokes drew laughs. Rock put over Wyatt saying he’s got it all – the ability, the charisma, he’s a revolutionary and talked about how 100,000 people had their phones out for him. Rock told Bray that he’s knocking on a door he doesn’t want to enter. Rock said that Bray thinks he’s the eater of worlds, but Rock thinks he’s the eater of Hot Pockets.
Wyatt said he’s there to kick down a door and that Rock has no idea who he is fooling with. Rock took off his shirt saying they’re not going to have a fight – they’re going to have a match. A referee showed up. Rock said he’s going to face Bray or one of the “inbred Duck Dynasty bitches” right now. Rock tossed off his pants to show he had his Rock tights and boots on. Rowan stepped up.
The Rock vs. Erick Rowan
The bell rang, Rock hit the Rock Bottom and Rock won the match after about six seconds.
Winner by pinfall: The Rock
Analysis: There’s a record for Rock with the fastest win at a WrestleMania. Match of the year! Okay so maybe not.
(This was The Rock’s last “match” perhaps ever. I don’t want to say that he’s done forever because you never know in the wrestling business, but I feel like he has moved on from being in the ring. With that said, wrestling in Los Angeles at WrestleMania 37 could be enticing to him. It’s up to him.)
John Cena’s music hit as The Wyatt Family surrounded the ring. Another huge reaction for a surprise return. The crowd serenaded him with “John Cena suuucks” while he seemed okay with it. He ran down to the ring.
Rock and Cena fought side by side. Rock dropped Strowman with a Rock Bottom. Cena hit a spinning slam on Rowan followed by a Five Knuckle Shuffle and the Attitude Adjustment. Wyatt wanted Sister Abigail on Cena, but Cena shoved him off. Rock hit punches on Wyatt, then the spinebuster and the People’s Elbow. Rock said “Welcome back” to Cena and ended it with “if you smell what The Rock is cooking.”
After the in-ring action, Rock went over to greet his daughter and his mom at ringside. Cena went up the ramp first. Rock followed him. They posed on the ramp to end it.
Analysis: That was fun. There were no bumps by Rock or Cena. It was just an ass kicking by them as they cleaned house on the Wyatt Family. The negative thing about something like this is that it made the Wyatt Family look bad. Rock did put over Bray a bit on the microphone, but he was easily able to get rid of the Wyatt Family along with Cena. It’s not like I expected Rock to get beat up. I just think that WWE has done such a poor job of booking The Wyatt Family strong in the last couple of years. As for Cena, he’s not cleared for action yet. It might be another two months until he’s back in the ring. Good to see him, though.
(The Rock appearance was expected. I didn’t know if Cena would be cleared to return from his injury, but he was able to do enough to get back in the mix. This was another fun non-wrestling segment on this show. I know Rock had a match technically, but really it was more about the moment. By the way, Cena had shoulder surgery in January and was back in the ring on May 30, which was a few months earlier than expected because Cena works so hard to get back.)
The video package aired for the main event: Triple H vs. Roman Reigns.
Stephanie McMahon did some promo on the stage while wearing some leather outfit as she talked on a throne. She called the people blind sheep and that they own us. She spoke for a few minutes before Triple H made his entrance. No fancy entrance for him this year. He let his wife do it.
There were a lot of boos for Roman Reigns on his entrance. There was some pyro for him as he put his fist on the ground by the stage.
(I remember the boos so well. It’s not even like people were chanting for Triple H. They just didn’t care about Roman at all.)
WWE World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H (w/Stephanie McMahon) vs. Roman Reigns
I think Triple H fell asleep in a tanning bed or had too much spray tan on. Hunter dumped Roman to the floor with a hip toss over the top. Reigns mocked Triple H with a bit of a DX chop. JBL said that Roman isn’t a bad guy, he’s not a good guy – he just wants to be a good guy. Reigns said those same words on Raw and Smackdown, so that seems to be a line fed to JBL by Vince. Triple H knocked down Reigns a couple of times with forearm shots to the back. Reigns came back with a couple of clotheslines followed by his Drive By dropkick for a two count. More clotheslines for Reigns. Stephanie distracted the ref, so Triple H kicked Roman in the balls. Hunter punched him a lot followed by a spinebuster. Hunter slammed Roman head first into an announce table at ringside and then Roman did it to him. It was well over ten seconds by this point, but I guess the ref wasn’t counting. JBL just covered for it saying the ref was giving them a lot of leeway for a championship match. Hunter gave Reigns a neckbreaker off the announce table on the floor. Knee to the back by Hunter off the middle rope got a two count, he went for it again and Reigns nailed him with an uppercut. Reigns nailed a Samoan Drop for two.
When Reigns set up for a Superman Punch, Hunter rolled out of the ring to avoid it. Reigns nailed him with a leaping clothesline off the steps. Hunter tossed Reigns into the steps. Then Hunter tossed Reigns over the announce table. Reigns came back with a huge Spear through the barricade at ringside. That was a big spot. Reigns was favoring his left arm. It actually looked bad when it happened, but he got through the match fine, so he was just selling. The ref finally started to count as Reigns brought Hunter back in to break the count. Hunter applied an armbar on the injured left arm of Reigns. That lasted for over a minute until Reigns powered out with a Powerbomb style slam for a two count. Reigns took off the glove on his left arm as Hunter applied another armbar. Reigns powered out again as the crowd booed him some more. Hunter wanted a Pedigree, but Roman powered out with a back body drop. Triple H nailed a forearm to counter a Roman attack. Roman hit a Spear. Stephanie pulled the ref Chad Patton out of the ring. Then the ref went back in to count and Hunter had enough time to kick out.
Stephanie went into the ring to argue with the ref. It was pretty obvious what was going to happen here. Hunter got up, Reigns charged in, Hunter and the ref left, so Reigns hit a huge Spear on Stephanie. That led to the biggest ovation of the match. Hunter capitalized with a Pedigree for the one…two…no. Great nearfall. Reigns came back with a Superman Punch as he started to get some momentum until Triple H came back with the running high knee. That gets a two count for Hunter. Stephanie gave Hunter the sledgehammer as Cole said that if Hunter is disqualified he retains the title. That could be the worst finish in WrestleMania history. Reigns nailed a Superman Punch and then another one. More boos. Reigns ducked a sledgehammer shot, ran the ropes and hit a Spear for the victory after 27:11 of action. This is the third WWE Title reign for Reigns.
Winner by pinfall and new WWE Champion: Roman Reigns
Analysis: **1/2 It was an average match that went too long with a finish that was very predictable. Hunter did well as the veteran heel that tried to wear down Reigns, but it just kept on going. The crowd was sitting there for over five hours by this point if you count the pre-show. Going a half hour in a match where the crowd doesn’t like the guy that’s supposed to be the face was a bad idea. We were tired sitting there for so long. The only thing that really popped the crowd was when Reigns hit that Spear on Stephanie by accident. It was obvious they were setting it up, but it still worked. To have a match at such a slow pace was dumb. They should have made this a No DQ type match with weapons because if they did that then the crowd would get into it. I assume they didn’t go that route because of the Lesnar/Ambrose match earlier. I just thought they would have had a better match if they made it more of a brawl. Reigns has proven to be better in those situations, so why not do it for the main event on the biggest show? I think it’s a case of them hurting themselves with the booking.
(I thought they went way too long and wrestled at a slow pace that didn’t help them. As I wrote in the analysis, if it was more of a brawl that went around the stadium it would have been a lot more interesting. Another thing that hurt the match is it was so obvious that Reigns was winning that there wasn’t much drama to the match. Stephanie’s bump was the most memorable part of the match to me.)
Reigns celebrated with the WWE Title after the match while fireworks went off. JBL was saying there was a celebration all over the world for Reigns even though he was getting booed in the arena. It’s amazing how WWE wants to ignore the crowd.
A video package aired showing highlights of the event to end the broadcast.
This event had a run time of 4:51:57 on WWE Network.
(There have been other shows around the five-hour mark too, but not that many. I think four hours should be the max.)
Five Stars of the Show
- Sasha Banks
- Becky Lynch
- Sami Zayn – He didn’t win, but he was the standout performer in the ladder match.
- Shane McMahon – He deserves recognition for that bump.
It gets a 6 out of 10 from me. If I wasn’t at the show maybe that score would be lower. When I watched it back on WWE Network there were things that didn’t seem as cool the second time around.
(I think a 6 is a fair score. It means the show was good in parts, but not really great at all.)
I think going five hours is too much. If you count the pre-show it was over six hours. I understand wanting to give matches time while also getting a lot of talent on the show in different multi-person matches, but it’s tough to ask a crowd to stay interested for that long.
The best matches were the Women’s Title triple threat and the IC Title ladder match. I expected both of them to be really good going into it. While neither should be considered a match of the year contender (I think Nakamura vs. Zayn is the leader in that category), they were both excellent matches. After that, I liked Jericho/Styles and Lesnar/Ambrose although both matches could have been better.
In terms of the most memorable moment, that was definitely Shane’s leap from the top of the cell through the table at ringside. It was a risky move that didn’t pay off in terms of helping him with the match, but it worked in terms of giving us those “WrestleMania moments” they always talk about. That match was too long just like the main event.
The show should be considered a success because of the attendance and the money they made. However, in terms of in-ring content and great matches, there have definitely been better WrestleMania events. In WWE’s defense, a number of injuries to key performers definitely played a factor in the quality of the show. It’s hard to fill in the gaps when you lose so much talent due to injuries.
I also think there will be better PPVs later in the year because once they get the likes of Seth Rollins, John Cena, Cesaro and others back in action that will happen. Add in some key names going to the main roster from NXT at some point and they could have some incredible shows this year.
In closing, I have nothing against that Flo Rida song “My House.” I just heard it 1,403 times in the last month and if I never hear it again that would be wonderful.
(When I look back on it now, the one thing I’ll always remember is being a part of a massive crowd of about 100,000 people and that appears to be a legit number too. I’m glad I was there.)
I also reviewed the WWE 24 special on WrestleMania 32 that you can read RIGHT HERE as well.
That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here.
Thanks for reading. My contact info is below.