The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 32 – 04.03.16
For those who are tracking minutia like this, I’m watching on the Network on the PS3 because I find it’s the most stable connection and the interface is easiest to deal with. (Well, PS4 these days, although I don’t have any Network-capable game systems in my man cave for the marathon Wrestlemania sessions, so it’s just good old Roku now.)
Live from Dallas, TX
Your hosts are Michael Cole, Bryon Saxton & JBL. Is that seriously considered the “A” announce team?
Intercontinental title, ladder match: Kevin Owens v. Dolph Ziggler v. The Miz v. Sami Zayn v. Stardust v. Sin Cara v. Zack Ryder
Kevin Owens is clearly the favorite with this crowd. Zack Ryder appears to be turning into Eric Young before our eyes. (And then the real thing debuted in NXT later on!) We get the requisite Zayn-Owens throwdown to start and the spots start flying. In addition to the ones on Stardust’s gear. Miz gets the first climb and gets brought down by Zayn & Ziggler, but Sami gets backdropped onto a ladder by Owens. A whole bunch of geeks get dumped onto the floor and Sami does a nice dive through a ladder, and then flows right into the corner DDT on Owens on the other side of the ring. Sin Cara climbs, but he gets pushed off and springboards off the top and onto the geek pile outside in a nice spot. Back in the ring, Ziggler superkicks a bunch of guys, but Stardust finds a polka dot ladder to get his shit in. Owens is so disgusted with this that he tosses it out of the ring rather than use it to climb. Instead, he puts Zayn on a ladder and frog splashes him. Zack Ryder drops an elbow on Miz off the top of a ladder. The next big spot sees Sin Cara putting Stardust on a ladder between the apron and the railing, then splash him through it to take both of them out. This leaves KO alone with Sami Zayn on top of the ladder for a slugfest, but Owens uses the thumb to the eye to bring him down. Zayn gives him a sick suplex onto a ladder, leaving him ragdolled in the rungs, but the Miz pushes Zayn over, waits too long, and ZACK RYDER wins the title at 15:36. I don’t see that one lasting long. Like, tomorrow night. (Can I call ‘em or what?) Typical opening match spotfest with the dumbest possible choice for a winner. Like, he’s literally a jobber, why waste a title on him? ***1/2 (More importantly, who would have thought that Stardust would escape this purgatory and become the hottest guy on the indy scene?)
AJ Styles v. Chris Jericho
The crowd is actually pretty split here. Jericho quickly gets sent to the floor for a tantrum, and back in AJ controls with armdrags, and we get a clever sequence where Styles leapfrogs him to counter the springboard dropkick and hits his own. He follows with a dive, but Jericho dropkicks him on the way down and necksnaps him to take over. Bryon Saxton and JBL squabbling on commentary is REALLY annoying and distracting. Like for example, Byron does some stupid thing about how AJ innovates offense, and JBL snaps at him that sometimes you just hit a guy really hard and that’s effective too. But that’s not Jericho’s deal at all! Like who is JBL arguing for? Jericho goes to the chinlock and a facelock, but Styles escapes and slugs him down to come back. They trade rollup attempts and Jericho gets the Walls, but Styles quickly makes the ropes. Jericho misses a charge and they fight on top for a superplex, but Styles blocks with an awkward front suplex instead that didn’t really work. Jericho catches the Pele Kick and hooks the Walls, but Styles powers out and reverses to the Calf Crusher. Jericho teases tapping again, but rolls him over for two instead. Jericho tries a rana and AJ nearly turns it into a Styles Clash, but Jericho dumps him instead. Styles misses the springboard forearm and lands on a codebreaker, which gets two. Jericho goes for his own Clash, but AJ reverses out into a facebuster for two. They do a nice reversal sequence and the Styles Clash gets two. You’d think after all that buildup it would be the finish. AJ wins a slugfest, but runs into a boot and Jericho follows with a Lionsault, which hits knee. AJ with a springboard 450 for two. Brainbuster sets up the springboard forearm again, but he lands in another codebreaker and Jericho gets the pin at 17:25. What the hell is the point of Styles losing? And then they just go right to a Total Divas commercial like AJ is nothing. This is some really weird booking so far. Usual match from these two, and it never really got into gear. *** (Thankfully AJ recovered OK.)
The New Day v. The League of Nations
This is now 3-on-3 with Wade Barrett sitting out, after being advertised as 4-on-3. The New Day triple-teams Sheamus in the corner while Xavier trombones, but the League takes over on him while the camera zooms and shakes. And then JBL has the balls to compare the League to the Four Horsemen, while the New Day are apparently the Freebirds. So, REALLY, what we’re seeing is the Four Horsemen against the Freebirds and not a bunch of midcard scrubs. Del Rio with a backbreaker on Woods to take over and the League gets the dull heat segment on him. Woods finally backdrops Del Rio out, but Sheamus cuts off the tag. No one cares. He gets the hot tag to Kofi anyway and Kofi runs reasonably wild, but he gets cut off right away. So Big E tags himself in and dumps the League to the apron, then spears them off as this match continues to die in front of “100,000” people. Back in the ring, Woods gets a double stomp on Sheamus for two. Del Rio returns and does his own double stomp on Kofi on the apron, and the Brogue Kick finishes Xavier at 10:16. So they lose two title matches to set up the non-title match, which they win? Nothing match. *1/2 So Wade cuts a promo afterwards about how no three people could ever challenge them, and that brings out Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Steve Austin to beat them up and clear the ring. And they dance with the New Day before Austin turns on them and stuns Xavier as well. So basically everyone is a bunch of geeks who get beat up by the retired Hall of Famers. Tremendous. Like shouldn’t you ADVERTISE this? Or put heat on the League if you’re going to have them get destroyed by Austin? (Oh man, the League of Nations…that was pretty much the final death knell of the Wade Barrett character.)
Street Fight: Dean Ambrose v. Brock Lesnar
Brock quickly takes him to Suplex City, but Ambrose grabs the kendo stick, so Brock punishes him for his insolence with two more suplexes. Brock grabs his own kendo stick, then destroys it to prove he doesn’t need it and suplexes Dean instead. Some guy in the front row has a series of number signs to count suplexes, so I hope he brought lots. Dean fights back and gets suplexed again, so Brock gives him a chance to get the kendo stick…and Dean hits him in the nuts. I really wouldn’t do that if I was Dean. That just seems like a bad idea on every level. Ambrose gets the chainsaw, but sadly it won’t start and Brock suplexes him on the floor now. Dean keeps fighting with a laptop and a chair, but this time Brock suplexes him off the top rope for variety. Dean sprays him with a fire extinguisher this time and beats on him with a chair as the camera zooms and shakes, and the flying chairdrop gets two. We get a giant pile of chairs in the ring, but Brock recovers and suplexes him again. F5 is countered into the Dirty Deeds, which gets two. So the next gimmick is the barbed wire baseball bat, but Brock suplexes him to block and finishes with the F5 at 13:10. This was basically exactly what we expected – Ambrose uses a bunch of gimmicks to hang in there, but jobs cleanly to the F5. Really nothing special and Ambrose wasn’t booked like any kind of a threat to Brock. *** (I’d go even lower in retrospect. Total failure on every level.)
Meanwhile, Snoop Dogg gets inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. Sure, why not.
WWE Women’s title: Charlotte v. Becky Lynch v. Sasha Banks
This is for the first ever WWE Women’s championship, as opposed to all the other versions of the WWE Women’s championship which no longer exist I guess. (And then the title was split up again a little while after this.) Nice three-way rollup battle to start and Sasha does an Eddie Guerrero tribute with a ropewalk rana on Charlotte, but Becky gets rid of Charlotte and works on Sasha’s arm. Charlotte pulls Sasha out of the ring and Becky hits them both with a dive and brings Charlotte back in for a slop drop that gets two. Charlotte comes back with a neckbreaker out of the corner for two. Sasha heads back in and tries a double headscissors takedown, but Becky dumps her again and goes back to Charlotte’s arm. Becky with an armbar, but Flair distracts her and Sasha saves. Poor Sasha gets tossed out AGAIN and this time Charlotte gets the figure four on Becky, but Sasha comes in with a frog splash on Charlotte for two. Becky kills her with a german suplex and Sasha disappears again, allowing Becky to get a pumphandle slam on Charlotte for two. Sasha and Becky trade rollups and Sasha pauses to dive onto Charlotte outside, and then Becky takes out Flair with her own dive. Charlotte hits both women with a moonsault to the floor, and back in with Natural Selection on Becky for two. She tries a powerbomb on Sasha, but Becky dropkicks them over and gets two on Charlotte. Disarmer on Charlotte, but Sasha breaks it up with the Bank Statement, and Charlotte breaks THAT up with the figure-four. Becky saves and they have a three-way slugfest on the mat, but Charlotte spears Sasha to get rid of her and fights with Becky on the top rope. Becky gets a top rope Perfectplex and goes after Sasha, but another Bank Statement follows, and Charlotte breaks it up and finishes with the figure-eight at 16:09 to retain the title and/or win the new one. What is with all the damn heels going over tonight? That one really choked the crowd up, especially with the whole Eddie Guerrero tribute thing from Sasha. This was the right time for Sasha to win, and they just didn’t. Best match of the night so far, though. ***3/4 (So the deal was that Charlotte had that PPV winning streak that they never mentioned until later, and they were trying to protect it, and then they suddenly ended it against Bayley on that one show and that was it.)
Hell in a Cell: Shane McMahon v. The Undertaker
So just to clarify here, if Shane wins he gets controls of WWE and Undertaker retires. If Undertaker wins, then nothing changes and nothing results. Kind of makes the finish obvious, doesn’t it? Shane is looking buff and tan at least tonight. Taker hauls him outside and pounds away to start, then hits him with Snake Eyes and dodges a flying elbow from Shane. Or takes it and ignores it, I dunno. Back to the floor for more punishment and Shane bumps into the cage like a ragdoll. Back in, the Last Ride gets two. Taker goes to pick him up and Shane hooks him in a triangle that no one buys. An annoyed Undertaker chokeslams him on the stairs and only gets two. COME ON. How can Shane believably survive this? Apparently that triangle was so devastating that Undertaker can barely breathe and that’s the storyline here. Shane with a DDT onto the stairs for two, and he drops an elbow for two. Taker hooks him in the gogoplata, but SHANE MCMAHON powers out of it and into a Sharpshooter. COME ON. Shane grabs a garbage can and follows with the Van Terminator for two as this match gets increasingly silly. Shane finds a pair of bolt-cutters, which is usually a thing you find under a wrestling ring, and clips the Cell a little bit, allowing Taker to break through the cage and put both guys on the floor. There’s like 2 people in the front row chanting “This is awesome” at this glacially-paced cage match between two guys who have close to 100 years between them. So they fight onto a stage by the announce tables and Shane tries a sleeper up there, as you’d expect from someone with Gracie jiu jitsu training, so Taker falls down and through a table to break. Yeah, he was really in a tough spot there. Speaking of tough spots, Shane puts Taker on another table and climbs to the top of the cell in a really stupid spot, and then completely misses and goes through a table from the top of the cell. His Tommy Dreamer training really paid off there. So Shane is dead, and Undertaker just picks him up, throws him back in the ring, and puts him away with the tombstone at 30:10. So that’s it, no crazy run-ins and interference, just Taker beating him up for 30 minutes and putting him away. SO WHAT THE FUCK WAS THE POINT OF THIS ENTIRE STUPID STORYLINE? ** Thankfully, Super Shane Osborne gives us the thumbs up on the stretcher on the way out.
And we’re only 3.5 hours into this show, so it’s time for the WRESTLEMANIA PANEL to waste some time.
Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royale
Baron Corbin gets to make his WM debut with a jobber entrance and no music, thrown in there with a bunch of curtain jerking geeks. The actual contenders, Kane and Mark Henry, get real entrances. As does our first actual surprise on the night, DDP. And, uh, Shaq? What the actual fuck? Tatanka is also there, apparently. Show and Shaq do a staredown and all the geeks team up to throw them out at 2:15. DDP hits one of the Ascension with a Diamond Cutter and tosses him, but the other geek gets his revenge. Tatanka gets some stuff in, but the Lone Wolf throws out the Buffalo. More stupid shit happens and the Social Outcasts take a victory lap and then they all get thrown out. So we’ve got all the big guys left because Vince loves big guys, but Kane and Darren Young put out Mark Henry and Baron Corbin dumps Kane to win the thing in his first night at 9:45. Well hopefully he gets an entrance on RAW.
And now, finally, the Rock has come back to Dallas with the Cowboy cheerleaders and a flamethrower. (Oh my GOD I was so over this show by this point.) At least someone on this show gets some heat on them. There’s TWENTY MINUTES left in the damn show and this is what we’re using time for? So Rock is here to announce the new (fake) attendance record of 101,763. This is of course, as Vince would say, merely part of the entertainment portion of the show. (Later on, they got completely roasted for essentially inflating the crowd by 30,000 people. This was ridiculous even by their low standards of nonsense.) And then we’re not running long enough, I guess, after four hours and a two-hour pregame show, so now the Wyatt Family is out to read poetry. And after some verbal tete-a-tete, Rock beats Rowan in six seconds with the Rock Bottom. And after dispatching a guy in less than 10 seconds, Rock is supposed to be threatened by the Wyatts, so John Cena makes his surprise return and makes the save and they team up to beat on the Wyatts together. END THIS FUCKING SHOW ALREADY.
WWF World title: HHH v. Roman Reigns
I actually had to move upstairs because my damn laptop was about to die after four hours and 10 minutes on battery. (I have since switched to a laptop with a bigger battery and put a charger downstairs for just such an emergency.) Roman, of course, is booed out of the stadium. HHH hiptosses him over the top to a big pop. Serious question: Is Roman Reigns trying to make his gear look like a Mortal Kombat character? HHH clobbers him down a couple of times, but Reigns makes the comeback to thunderous boos. He gets the apron dropkick for two and pounds away in the corner, but HHH goes low to take over. A pair of atomic drops gets two. The announcers are just totally ignoring the crowd reaction for Roman and it’s part of the problem. HHH works on the nose and gets a spinebuster for two. The announcers note that his strategy to wear him down, punish him and beat him down. Kind of like this show! They head to the floor and Reigns makes a comeback and the crowd is so bored that they barely even boo it. HHH takes him off the announce table with a neckbreaker. Back in, a middle rope kneedrop gets two. Anyone else getting a HHH-Jericho ’02 vibe from this? Roman makes another clothesliney comeback and gets a samoan drop for two and the crowd is just dead. And then the Network feed crashes for a bit and I have to reload. Back with Roman and HHH brawling on the floor and the crowd is still bored. HHH tosses him on a table and Reigns spears through the railing and still no one cares. Steph is begging the ref to start the count. So am I. Count them both out, end the fucking show. Back in, Roman has now apparently hurt his arm, so look for him to go to the back for 30 minutes while everyone else does the work. HHH goes to work on the arm now, because that’s what this fucking disaster needed, HHH working the arm 20 minutes in. Also, HHH has a piece of confetti stuck to his forehead and that’s just distracting. Reigns finally escapes with a slam and then HHH goes BACK TO IT. My wife’s reaction: “This match is legitimately never going to end. We’re going to die sitting here waiting for it.” Roman sets up for the spear, but HHH blocks with a Pedigree attempt and Reigns backdrops him over the top. And now the bored crowd is singing stuff. Back in, Reigns gets the spear and Steph pulls out the ref, but it still only gets two. And then Steph just gets into the ring and yells at the ref, which leads to Reigns spearing her. (Boy, she sure knows how to get her comeuppence, doesn’t she? What a trooper.) This FINALLY wakes up the crowd, but KICK WHAM PEDIGREE gets two. Superman Punch off the slugfest, but HHH blocks the spear with a high knee for two as this match just won’t ever end. HHH gets the sledgehammer, but it’s another superman punch and the spear to finally end it at 27:00. Thank god. So yeah, Reigns is now a three-time champion, because FUCK YOU, that’s why. This just went on and on and on. I dunno, **? Maybe *1/2? It’s really up there with some of the worst WM mains I’ve ever seen, that’s for sure. (But this year…THIS YEAR…the push will take. Really, they should have just kept the belt on Roman after he got super-hot during the Sheamus feud instead of overbooking things with the HHH title reign. Having Roman fail yet again at the Rumble completely cooled off the character.)
I feel like NXT was better. This had a shot of redemption after the women’s title match, but the Cell match and main event just completely destroyed the show, not to mention running nearly FIVE HOURS was inexcusable time management. With weird booking all night that only seemed there to say “fuck you” to the fanbase and two main matches that did not deliver anything promised, this is nothing but a thumbs down from me.