I’m not exactly known for my positivity, so it surprises me that I’m looking forward to WrestleMania 32 as much as I am. Although the general consensus that I’ve been reading on Twitter tells me that the build to this event has been lackluster, I’m honestly looking forward to the show. In fact, I think I’m looking more forward to this particular WrestleMania than any other in recent history.
Let’s take a look at the card for WrestleMania 32 to figure out why, exactly, I’m looking forward to it. Fair warning, I’m going to start with the two matches I’m less invested in, so try to ignore the negativity that appears in the beginning. Also, I’m not going to talk about the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, nor the Uso’s v. the Dudleys, nor the rumored 6-8 woman tag team match. Based on what I’m hearing none of these matches will be on the actual WrestleMania card, instead likely happening on the pre- or the pre-pre-show.
That said, let’s get into the eight matches lined up for WrestleMania 32.
The League of Nations vs. New Day
My most serious issues with WrestleMania 32 are definitely in this match. Where to begin? First, the League of Nations have never seemed like a credible threat to me. These guys strike me as a slightly-more well-regarded version of the Social Outcasts (slightly). It seems to me as though WWE Creative has no idea what to do with the individual members of the League of Nations, so they simply lumped all of them together.
Further, New Day’s shtick is well beyond beginning to lose its appeal for me. While I appreciate that these three guys made their own niche on the roster, they come across as little more than incessantly shouting man-babies in their more-recent promos. Although the recent face-turn by the New Day ought to have reinvigorated my interest in them, I am dissatisfied by the fact that they act no differently as faces than they did as heels. Frankly, I never really bought into New Day as heels, as they were constantly acting in a manner designed to get over with the audience.
Still, if I’m looking for a silver lining, since this is apparently a 3 v. 4 handicap match, the possibility of an exciting cameo or return exists. That’s something, right?
WWE United States Championship – Kalisto v. Ryback
I don’t really care about Kalisto, but he is a talented, high flying performer. I just don’t need to see Rey Mysterio, Jr., Jr. run through the well-treaded small-man champion playbook literally verbatim. If I had to pick a silver lining here, it would have to be that Ryback has been delivering some of the best pieces of promo work that he has ever done. Although Ryback’s character has been veering more and more towards being an outright heel, I’ve been enjoying the new developments to his character. I finally feel like Ryback really could be a major mid-card player in the WWE once again.
WWE Intercontinental Championship 7-Person Ladder Match
Admittedly, the booking for this match largely came out of nowhere, and I am somewhat disappointed that we’re not going to see a straight one-on-one match with Owens defending his championship against Sami Zayn. However, the booking for this match last Monday Night on RAW was as close to phenomenal as you can get without involving AJ Styles. See what I did there?
The swerve triple threat booking for the number one contenders match on RAW was brilliantly delivered by Owens, and, as you can read about in my recent article on Zack Ryder, I’m quite pleased with the opportunity being given to some less-well featured members of the WWE main roster. The ladder match will see the following superstars competing: Kevin Owens (IC Champion); Sami Zayn; Dolph Ziggler; Mike “The Miz” Mizanin; Stardust; Sin Cara; and Zack Ryder. While I’m not anticipating a win from Stardust or Zack Ryder in this match, I’m thrilled that these guys are getting a chance to perform for and possibly win-over the 100,000+ members of the WrestleMania crowd. Even without a win, a good showing in a match on a stage this big could mean renewed focus on these performers in the months ahead. Honestly, this is reason enough for me to be excited about this match.
WWE Women’s Championship – Charlotte v. Becky Lynch v. Sasha Banks
I’ll admit it, I’m not enamored with the way that Ric Flair has inserted himself into the Women’s Championship scene. That said, I want to like Charlotte more than WWE Creative is currently allowing. Charlotte’s sheer athleticism is obvious despite her relative in-ring inexperience, and overall I think she has done admirably as the face of the reestablished Women’s division in WWE.
I certainly won’t disagree with you if you want to discuss the (mis)handling of Charlotte’s character these last few months, but the women’s wrestling division is far and away better off than it was a year ago. Lest I need to remind you, the Women’s Championship wasn’t even defended at WrestleMania last year. And although that might sound like a low bar, look at the match that they’ve lined up for us. Each of the competitors in this match are incredibly talented, and they’ve shown us numerous times before in NXT that together they are capable of putting on a main event quality match. I’m excited for this match if for no other reason than this is the first time in history that a Women’s title match at WrestleMania has the real potential to be the Match of the Night.
Y2J Chris Jericho v. AJ Styles
A best of four series is not something that I was clamoring for in this particular rivalry. I was honestly hoping that AJ Styles would be able to feud with Kevin Owens at WrestleMania, but then I was also hoping that Kevin Owens would be free to feud with Sami Zayn. Or the Undertaker. Or, really, whoever. Man, I love Kevin Owens.
What was I talking about?
Oh, right. Jericho v. AJ Styles. Look, we’ve seen it before, but at the very least I have to acknowledge that there has been a multi-month build to this match; WWE Creative cannot be accused of failing to provide an adequate build as the storyline has been evolving since Styles’ debut at the 2016 Royal Rumble. For a while, I thought that we would see Y2AJ taking on New Day for the tag titles at Roadblock or WrestleMania, but that just wasn’t in the cards. So, I’m not exactly excited to see these two battle once more, but even still this is sure to be a quality wrestling match from bell to bell.
No Holds Barred Street Fight – Dean Ambrose v. Brock Lesnar
The build to this match has been one of the strongest in recent memory. This is the greatest build to a hardcore-style match since Edge v. Foley at WrestleMania 22, and has been punctuated by the perfect, brief use of hardcore legends. Further, this match represents what I hope is a reawakening for one of WWE’s most underutilized talents, Dean Ambrose. This guy has so much charisma and talent, that he deserves to be at the top of the main roster. As for the build to this match, week after week Dean simply threw his body at Brock Lesnar, demonstrating his fortitude and will to win. Then, the street gith stipulation was introduced, and now we finally have a setup to match where it feels like the unstoppable monster, Brock Lesnar, could conceivably lose! Honestly, the build to this match could not have been written any better than it was. This is my most anticipated match of WrestleMania 32.
Hell in a Cell Match – Shane McMahon v. The Undertaker
I’ll admit up front that I still have no idea why the Undertaker is involved in this match, and that this is definitely the worst storyline build issue I have with WrestleMania 32. Despite this, I cannot help but feel excited for the return of Shane McMahon to the squared circle. This is a man that has no fear and, frankly, had no business performing any of the numerous high flying stunts for which his in-ring performances are remembered. This all bodes well for a memorable, if spot-heavy, match on Sunday night. The stipulation for this match also has my mind abuzz with the endless possibilities. Could we really be so close to the end of the Authority’s rule over Monday Night RAW? The formula which Stephanie McMahon and Triple H have used for the past several years is well-worn at this point, and I am desperate for a new dynamic on WWE’s flagship television programming.
That said, the logical part of my brain tells me that Shane winning and sticking around as an on-air personality is unlikely at best. Could we have a situation where Shane institutes a new General Manager to lead in his place? The answer, of course, is unknown, which means I just keep thinking about the many possible outcomes from this match. This, to me, is the hallmark of an effectively built match. Do I agree with all of the plot points? No, but I really cannot stop thinking about how this match will potentially change the WWE. Honestly, the only mistake WWE Creative can make here is reinforcing the status quo; even if the Undertaker wins on Sunday, I’m expecting new, exciting developments come Monday night.
WWE World Heavyweight Championship – Triple H v. Roman Reigns
The culmination of 18 months of WWE storytelling, finally we will see Roman Reigns come face-to-face with the head of the Authority, Triple H. Whether you like Roman Reigns or not, WWE Creative has been building this storyline for a very long time and I am not anticipating any sort of deviation from the long-expected outcome: Roman Reigns will be crowned the three-time WWE World Heavyweight Champion.
That said, as I talked about on episode 23 of the DDT Wrestling podcast, there are possibilities abound should WWE Creative decide to change direction (they won’t). Imagine a world where Shane McMahon wins control of RAW and Triple H retains his title. The dynamic would be incredible, with the newly instated Shane McMahon dismissing Triple H as an authority figure whilst simultaneously having to deal with Triple H as the champion and face of the RAW brand. Admittedly, my fascination with the possibilities over this match have nothing to do with the Roman Reigns story that WWE is telling, but, in terms of spent-brain power, the WWE has succeeded in creating a compelling, thought-provoking scenario that I just can’t stop thinking about.
But, really, 100% chance that Roman Reigns wins. And when that happens, we can finally being to move the main event scene forward from the 18-month saga that has been the Roman Reigns redemption storyline.
Anyone else out there excited? Or maybe you think I’m way off the mark and you want to destroy my good-feelings for WrestleMania32 (you monster)? Either way, leave a comment below.