We are three days removed from the biggest WWE show of the year, WrestleMania 32! Over the course of the last two months, I have watched each WrestleMania, ranking the matches year-by-year and posting a constantly changing list of the best WrestleMania matches ever.
This isn’t about doing a play-by-play or a recap, just my thoughts on each show as I watch them.
Today’s recap is the final edition of the WrestleMania Top Thirty, at least until next April. And boy, was this show something else.
WrestleMania 32 – April 3, 2016
They say that everything is bigger in Texas and WWE went out of its way to prove that old adage true for WrestleMania weekend this year. With an extended NXT TakeOver show on Friday and a three-and-a-half hour Hall of Fame ceremony on Saturday, there was already a lot going on with this show. The WrestleMania 32 experience was already going to be long, with a two-hour preshow announced, but I don’t think anyone was expecting a main card that lasted close to five hours.
While I was most certainly exhausted by the show as it happened, upon second watch, WrestleMania 32 has a much better flow than I felt it did on first viewing. It is definitely not an all-time classic WrestleMania, but it is at least better than I originally thought it was. There are a few very good matches bogged down by too much filler. This same show presented in less than four hours would have given off a much better first impression.
Best Match: Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks – WWE Women’s Championship Triple Threat. I never thought I would see the day where a women’s title match would steal the show at WrestleMania. The Diva’s Revolution may be as dead and buried as the Divas Championship, but these three women certainly proved that it was possible for women’s wrestling to be taken seriously on a big stage. While the ending was a bit surprising, it leaves open potential for the future with all three women. If Charlotte, Sasha and Becky can begin to elevate the levels of the rest of the roster, we may be in the midst of the dawn of a new golden age for women in WWE. I do hope they can capitalize on this in the next few months and make the division a legitimate competitive part of the show and not just the traditional bathroom break spot.
Worst Match: Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose – Street Fight. Maybe this section should be renamed “Most Disappointing” match. The street fight wasn’t bad per se, but I think people were expecting more from The Beast and the most over face in the company. I’m not sure Lesnar and Ambrose ever really knew what the match was supposed to be. It was too controlled for a street fight, too many weapons for a normal match and too competitive to be a squash, but it seemed like it tried to be each of those things at a certain point. Maybe this is why WWE kept Lesnar from new opponents for so long…
For the record, while I am including The Rock vs. Erick Rowan in my compiled list of matches (and it is ranked significantly lower than the Street Fight), it was way too much of just an angle to be included here as “worst match.” Speaking of…
Finally? Maybe Not: By the time the Rock took the stage to announce the new attendance record, I was ready for the show to be over. It was already clear WrestleMania 32 was going longer than the usual and announced four hours. So Rock announces the 101,763 attendance figures, and he got to use a flame thrower and it’s all fun and everyone is cheering. Great. And then the Wyatts come out. It was possibly the first time I was not happy to hear their music. The unannounced “match” between Rock and Rowen, plus the return of John Cena, was just overkill. Too much going on at an already-packed show.
Speaking of Cena, WrestleMania 32 is the first since WrestleMania XIX without a match featuring either Cena or Randy Orton. Let’s see if both are back in action when WrestleMania hits Orlando next year.
For The Love of Mankind: The whole Shane McMahon-Undertaker feud was a head-scratcher right from the beginning, but going into the event, it made sense for a Hell in a Cell match between the two to be full of run-ins, extracurricular activities and looking nothing like a regular match. But instead, we got a one-on-one fight between a 46-year-old executive and a 51-year-old wrestler. A fairly competitive half-hour match between the two seemed ridiculous, but that’s what we got. Cutting the match down a bit, adding some run-ins and getting to the point with Shane’s leap of the top of the cage would have improved the flow of the match and of the whole card. Questionable booking was probably the phrase of the day, though.
Questionable Booking: Three matches in to the main card, I was scratching my head at the results. Jobber to the stars Zack Ryder wins the Intercontinental Title ladder match over guys with a future like Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. Chris Jericho beats newly-signed AJ Styles in a surprisingly mediocre match. Finally, the League of Nations, a collection of guys who should have been a lot better than they are, beats tag team champions New Day in a six-man match. The final result is the most surprising, because it was just a set-up for surprise appearances from “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels and Mick Foley, and the resulting breakdown could have just as easily been achieved with New Day going over.
The whole segment was proof of the problem with WWE right now, sacrificing current talent and potential future stars to guys who used to be important to the company. Sure, the segment was fun, but it felt unnecessary to make seven guys currently under contract look like goobers.
Is The King Dead: By the time the main event started, counting the pre-show, WrestleMania had been going on for more than six hours. The match needed to be something special to overcome some serious handicaps, including a main event babyface who can’t buy a cheer from the crowd. The match never really seemed to find a groove, being a classic Triple H WrestleMania match with a lot of laying around until the end. Roman got his moment after hitting Stephanie McMahon with a spear and finally pinning Triple H for the WWE Title. After two-plus years of Triple H screwing over the main babyface, the Reigns win needs to signal a change of direction for the company. Should Reigns be the guy to lead WWE through the next year? Probably not as a babyface, but it could propel someone else to the next level when that person beats Reigns.
The Top Thirty!
We hit our final ranking and only one match makes the cut this year.
*DISCLAIMER* The Top Thirty is (obviously) my opinion and meant only to spur on discussion. Leave any and all comments down below (Match winners are in italics).
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Submission Match (WrestleMania 13)
2 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
3 – The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – No DQ WWF Title Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
4 – Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit – World Heavyweight Title Triple Threat (WrestleMania XX)
5 – Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania XXVI)
6 – Triple H vs. Daniel Bryan (WrestleMania XXX)
7 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
8 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
9 – Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Title TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
10 – Brock Lesnar vs. Roman Reigns vs. Seth Rollins – WWE Title Match with Money in the Bank cash-in (WrestleMania 31)
11 – Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
12 – Undertaker vs. Triple H – Hell in a Cell (WrestleMania XXVIII)
13 – Edge vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 21)
14 – Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania 25)
15 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
16 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
17 – Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 21)
18 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
19 – Undertaker vs. Edge – World Heavyweight Title Match (WrestleMania XXIV)
20 – Eddy Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XX)
21 – Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair – Career Threatening Match (WrestleMania XXIV)
22 – Undertaker vs. CM Punk (WrestleMania NY/NJ)
23 – John Cena vs. The Rock (WrestleMania XXVIII)
24 – Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 21)
25 – Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XIX)
26 – Wade Barrett vs. Daniel Bryan vs. Stardust vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. R-Truth vs. Luke Harper vs. Dean Ambrose – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania 31)
27 – “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock (WrestleMania X8)
28 – John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels – WWE Title (WrestleMania 23)
29 – Randy Orton vs. Batista vs. Daniel Bryan – WWE Title Triple Threat match (WrestleMania XXX)
30 – Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks – WWE Women’s Title Triple Threat match (WrestleMania 32)
So, that’s all for the WrestleMania Top Thirty! Thanks to everyone who took part in the comments.