10:58. That’s the hours and minutes since I switched off the WWE app and dragged my sorry carcass of an “athlete’s” body off to bed. 10 Hours and 58 Minutes. And I’ve been able to mull over how I feel about the greatest event in Sports Entertainment. The record breaking 101,000 attendance were promised the biggest and the best Wrestlemania in history. Instead what we got was a billion pound earning, merchandise selling, AT&T filling Montreal Screwjob. That’s the only way I can describe it- I can now put my hand on my heart and say that “I know how Bret Hart feels” after that fateful night in Montreal.
I will do my best to tackle this post in some sort of logical order but with my brain becoming a muddle of sleep deprived caffeinated mess you will just have to bear with me. So here’s my opinion salvo and if you my closing summary in one fell swoop: First half GREAT! Second Half SHOCKING!
Rather than breaking down the event match by match, I thought I would provide more of a holistic overview of how I thought the event went. As I said above, I thought that the first half of the night was actually pretty entertaining and the first 60-90 minutes flew by.
The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royale has the potential of launching the “push” of the next star on the main roster so it was no surprise to see Baron Corbin take the win and announce his arrival onto the main roster. Now I know that Wrestlemania not only cements the future of WWE superstars but also acknowledges those of the past- but including DDP and Tatanka?! Really?! Current and past stars aside, we were also provided with what can only be described as an awkward appearance for none other than Shaquille O’Neal. NBA superstar and MVP winning Shaq came charging out to the ring to confront the Big Show. Now I may not be the most hardcore of WWE fans but perhaps I missed what was going on here. Either way- WHY?! I know Vince has an affinity for large gentleman but really?!
Shaq. In WWE. Squaring off against the Big Show in a stare down. Anyway…..
Moving on to the ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship it
looked like the card was going to bubble along quite nicely! The match itself did not disappoint with some nice high spots and some intricate technical pieces by all of those involved. You had the predictable breaking of the ladder but I particularly liked the Kevin Owen’s dive onto a prone Sami Zayn who was laying on the ladder resting on the bottom rope. Moment of the match goes to Mr. Woo Woo Woo himself with Zack Ryder taking the win! Could WWE be listening to their fans?!
Next up it were the company’s biggest entertainers in New Day taking on the League of Nations in a Handicap match. I love New Day. I think they are born out a true fan movement with Creative pushing them to be hated heels but the fans deciding otherwise. Their “gimmick” is great and you can tell that they really enjoy what they are doing; I do worry however that some new material may be required to just freshen things up a little bit. I don’t want to see them run the theme in to the ground. Following the culmination of the match we had a bit of a standoff which signalled the return of some Legends. HBK, Foley and a belated Steve Austin entrance sent 101,000 people in to chaos. I’m not going to lie, even though I was expecting an Austin appearance, the sound of the glass breaking sent me across my living room. The legends have their segment the beers are flowing. The build-up is coming!
The Women’s Championship was introduced earlier in the night by Lita and it was the triple threat of Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks who would be battling it out to be the “First” champion of the division. Perhaps everybody was meant to forget that we had just inducted Jacqueline into the Hall of Fame….But that’s none of my business.
The match itself was immense with some great technical work by all performers and the flow/momentum of the match really added to the atmosphere. Match of the night right here. It’s a shame that they went with Charlotte again for the win (bonus for being a Flair?!) but this could be turned into an intricate storyline post Mania. But when you pitch the sentence: “The first Women’s Division Champion is a Flair” as a historical statement there was only really going to be one winner.
Momentum- Check. Atmosphere – Check. Build-up to the top of the card- Ready!
And then…Y2J vs AJ Styles. Don’t get me wrong- these guys are masters at their crafts but this marked the end of Mania for me. From here it was a downward turn. Now granted they still wrestled a solid match, it still felt a bit laboured and the transitions seemed woefully slow. The “reversing of a reverse” so obviously telegraphed it really took me out of the moment. There were even times whereby you could hear Y2J calling for moves which is nothing new in WWE but when you package it all together it felt like a bit of a cold dish to be served at the grandest table of them all.
Now I’m not going to dwell too much on Ambrose vs Lesnar on the basis of the following statements. No Holds Barred Match. 2 Kendo Sticks and some steel chairs. Oh and a fire extinguisher. Very hardcore WWE. Way to go!
The true main event of the evening should have been Shane and Taker. It had the most on the line with Shane’s challenge for the company. Perhaps Vince was afraid that Taker’s entrance would lose too much momentum as a main event? Or perhaps they were concerned that Taker’s entrance wouldn’t end before this Year’s Summerslam. Taker- I have loved and feared you in equal measure for what’s been nearly 20 years of me watching wrestling but I think it’s time to hang up the hat. I don’t know whether he was over selling but The Deadman looked, well Dead! I want to remember Taker in all the awe and majesty which that single gong signifies but I feel like the time has come. As for Shane-O-Mac, if he was really brought back just for THAT bump then Creative really must be struggling with booking ideas. I know he isn’t a wrestler so it was never going to be a technically strong bout, (although it did have some nice spots within it) but is this is? Is Shane gone now? This “wind of change” which he was riding on the coat tails of many of the WWE Universe opinions that change is wanted has just evaporated. No double heel turn. No alignment with Vince. Where does this fit in the story arch? Or was Vince just flipping us the bird?
Before I get to THAT match and THAT ending – The Rock turned up. Usually a good thing right? But when did the most electrifying man turn into the attendance announcer. “Hi guys arguably one of the greatest WWE wrestlers of all time is here, to tell you how many tickets (and money) Vince has just made out of this billion dollar screw job. So this is the part that makes no sense. The Wyatt’s come down to the ring with Bray “choosing” The Rock. So erm… Mr Creative- why would you put ol’ ginger beard in the ring to face him? And then be done in 6 seconds? Oh right I forgot you are trying to out do UFC- because this “match” obviously did that right. Fast forward 30 seconds and the most loved to be hated man in sports entertainment makes his return. A nice bit of closure for The Rock and Cena as they cleared the ring and embraced in the centre of the ring but if anybody could elaborate as to why that 30 minute segment was there- hit me up on twitter @MeteCritic.
Just as an aside- could we go for a Roman Reigns vs John Cena feud- I’m intrigued to see who would get booed more!
So we made it to that match. By this point I’m pretty much annoyed at what I’ve seen. A night with such promise had had a serious wobble and was teetering on the edge of a precipice from what could have been to what should never have been. That’s ok. It’s the main event. This is the match that will set up the main event story post Mania into Summerslam. A Rollin’s return maybe? RKO out of nowhere? The Rock Interference? A Reigns heel turn? NOTHING.
Reigns wins clean and is the new Champion in what was a pretty dull and boring match. I was genuinely bored and I wanted it over. The event I had been waiting for months. I just wanted it over. Oh we got to see Reign’s spear Stephanie- big deal right? Now I know that the WWE Universe is divided over John Cena but the reaction that Roman Empire receives is just on another level. There was a huge crowd of boo’s in the stadium when the bell rung but admittedly there were also some cheers. I love a good conspiracy but I’m definitely convinced that a bit of audio editing was used to drown out some of the negative reaction of the crowd. Unfortunately for all the backstage wizardry, the WWE can’t edit some of the hand gestures that were spotted at ring side.
So as the final bell rang on Wrestlemania (32) I felt that my excitement and love for Wrestlemania had turned to more disappointment and resentment. Granted none of my wild and wacky theories came to fruition (e.g. a Rollin’s return or a Shane-O-Mac win and rehiring Taker) but I can take that. It’s all a part of the experience; double guessing the storyline. But I don’t mind being wrong I really don’t. What I do mind is that Mania is meant to be the culmination of months of both physical and on mic story progression. In the same breadth it is meant to signal a sea of change, a changing of the old guard as a new set of creative directions are brought to the fore as we start on the road to Summerslam. But where was that?
WWE is an emotional product. Whether you love it or hate it stirs in your soul and for those of us who have been around long enough, an emotional attachment will probably never go away. And all of this build up could be the set up for a great double turn in storyline with Post-Mania Raw being as eagerly anticipated as the show itself. But what if this is actually the direction WWE Creative are heading for the next 3 months? It will sure as hell make it difficult to stick with it when this is what is being churned out from behind the scenes as being “Best for Business”.
Agree? Disagree? Hit me up on @MeteCritic and show some love to the other blogs on the Outoflives.net website!