We’re hear dear reader, our long journey on the road to WrestleMania 32 is at it’s conclusion, but before I get on to talking about the Showcase of the Immortals if you haven’t yet read the previous three posts in this series you should click the following links to get all caught up (part 1, part 2, part 3).
All caught up? Good! Sunday April 3rd was just wow, it was such an event of a day. Like my son, this was my first WrestleMania and I was super stoked. So stoked mind you that in spite of going to be fairly late I was up and at’em at 8:00 AM bright eyed and bushy tailed and ready to take on the day. Shoot, even my very difficult to wake up son was up and at’em when I jostled him a little.
We caught a charter bus from the hotel at 1:30 PM in route to the AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. The bus was buzzing with all of the fans excited for Mania and many of them, like Shawn and I, were at their very first WrestleMania. Much of the talk revolved around how great NXT Takeover Dallas and how much fun Axxess was.
We got to the Stadium really really early, it was maybe 2:30 when we got there and I figured with the pre-show starting at 5:30 PM Dallas time that they’d probably start letting us all in at say 4:00 PM, yeah an hour and a half to wait to get in but hey there would be sites around the stadium so killing 90 minutes wouldn’t be too bad, boy was I wrong though. Well I wasn’t wrong about the sites, there were fans all over the parking lot tailgating, in fact some were reenacting WrestleMania moments, it was fun to watch and Shawn and I enjoyed seeing it. However, getting in by 4:00 PM would be a joke as to there was a kerfuffle with security at the gates. At first the excuse given was the wifi at the stadium went down so the ticket scanners weren’t working, but security was also telling people that they were being extra cautious with bags. Either way it sucked, no one was happy and chants of “Let us in!” broke out all over the stadium. It wasn’t the best experience and it caused us to miss the opening kick-off match of Ryback vs Kalisto which really disappointed Shawn because he loves the high-flying action of Kalisto, but I’ll be honest with you, WrestleMania 32 was so great (at least in person) that by the opening of the show I had totally forgotten about it taking forever to get in to the stadium.
The other two kick-off matches, that we actually got to see, were Total Divas vs Team Bad which basically served to give something for the remaining women on the roster to do while the top three Women, Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, and Charlotte faced off for the new Women’s Title, and it also served as a farewell to Brie Bella who was retiring following the match (which by the way, was a terribly kept secret) and there was also the Dudleys vs The Esos, but more on that in a second.
The 10 woman tag match was handle very well, it wasn’t too long and each woman in the match got a chance to shine with Brie getting the longest moment at the end of the match doing her best impression of her husband Daniel Brian (aka Brian Danielson) and picking up the win for her team. As her theme played a surprise visit from sister Niki (who left as a heel but I guess is now a Face?) came down the the ring as the rest of the Total Divas had hoisted Brie up on their shoulders. Again, it wasn’t officially announced that Brie would be retiring (that would come the next night) but damn, this was definitely a Hollywood moment of the veteran in their final game being carried off victoriously into the sunset. It was a great moment for the Bellas, who in spite of getting a lot of criticism from a lot of wrestling fans have improved in their skill set greatly over their time wrestling. Many, many Divas before them just got by and put over based on their looks and never really tried to get better, the Bellas, though not on par with the three women who would fight later in the night (and it was a fight), still did the damnedest to get better at their craft and I’ll always respect them for that.
After an emotional “thank you Brie” chant (about time you cynical fans) it was time for the Dudleys vs the Esos in what should have been a tables match, but wasn’t for some reason. The match was a standard fare with nothing to write home about. The Usos won which I thought was going to signal the end of this feud but then the Dudleys got the upper hand and did what the crowd wanted and got the tables which then had me rethinking whether or not the feud was over. However the Usos quickly turned the tables and the Dudleys got put through the tables instead, so I guess that does end the feud.
After the kickoff ended it was time for the main course, WRESTLEMANIA 32! The show started with the Intercontinental Championship ladder match. This match had a lot of high points in it and really the only boos that came were for the Miz. The Miz catches a lot of shit from a lot of different people, but damn is he not a great heel. He’s a good worker and does a lot for the company and through all of it he plays the role of the smarmy asshole to perfection. There were some cool spots to this match including Sami Zayn diving through the ropes, Zayn and Kevin Owens brawling at the top of the ladder, Dolph Ziggler handing out Super Kicks like candy on Halloween and Star Dust a.k.a Cody Rhodes busting out a polka dot ladder in honor of his late father the great Dusty Rhodes, which elicited a huge cheer from the crowd.
However, the best moment was saved for the end when it looked like the smug ass Miz was about to win after pushing Sami Zayn from the ladder but the Miz was too smug and Zack Ryder sprinted up the ladder and shoved him down. Ryder, probably the least likely person to win this match not named Sin Carra, reached up and pulled down the IC Title to a huge “WOO WOO WOO!” chant from the crowd. Zack Ryder, a man who hasn’t had a significant WWE win in about 5 years just had a WrestleMania moment and when he climbed down the ladder his father was waiting right there for him and gave him the biggest hug. I’m not going to lie to you, that moment got to me. Being at my first WrestleMania with my son and seeing this great father and son moment was the cherry on top of the sundae and we were just beginning.
Next up on the card was the highly anticipated The Phenomenal One AJ Styles making his WrestleMania debut against Y2J Chris Jericho in a match that was well, phenomenal. Jericho and Styles are two fantastic veterans who know how to call a match in the ring. They did a great job telling a story. They started the match of hot and exciting with a lot of fast paced moves and reversals. Then they slowed the pace down and then sped it back up again. Both hitting their finishers and both kicking out. The match was very back and forth and very entertaining. One thing I’ve learned about watching these two over the years is that they’re almost incapable of having a bad match, and them together on the grandest stage of them all couldn’t possibly disappoint and it didn’t. Through out neither man could gain lasting momentum, when it seemed like one had control the other quickly took it away, that is until the end. Styles looked to be overcoming Jericho and was setting up for the Phenomenal Forearm but as he spring boarded off the top rope Y2J regained his composure and hit Styles with a Codebuster and scored the 1-2-3 victory.
Before we could catch our breaths from two great matches a giant box of Booty-O’s was wheeled out on stage and of course New Day’s music hit and the box toppled over as Xavier Woods, Kofi Kingston, and Big-E came out and not dressed in their normal attire but all three were dressed in Sayian Armor from Dragon Ball Z, and Woods even had his fro styled very similar to a Sayian. The New Day fan in me was super psyched to see the giant box of Booty-O’s while the nerd in me nerded out over the site of Dragon Ball Z crossing over with the WWE. The trio were to face the three members of the League of Nations, Alberto Del Rio, Rusev, and Shaemus with King Barrett escorting them to the ring. The match was fine, nothing too spectacular with LoN winning thanks to interference by Barrett.
Once the Match was over Barret got on the mic and berated the crowd as well as the WWE locker room asking if there were three men manly enough in the back to take them on. Notice he didn’t say four, even though there are four members of the League, guess they don’t want a fair fight. Anyways, as soon as he finished speaking The Heartbreak Kid’s music hit and Shawn Michaels was there to answer the call, not in jeans and a shirt mind you, but his wrestling gear, HBK was here to fight. Then after that Mick Foley’s music hit and before we could put two and two together the class broke the Rattle Snake Stone Cold Steve Austin walked out and the three of them taking a moment to soak in the crowd who’s cheers nearly drowned out Austin’s music, began walking down to the ring.
It didn’t take long for these legends to take out the LoN as Shaemus got the mandible claw (with sock-o) from Foley, Michaels delivered some Sweet Chin Music to Del Rio, Rusev caught the Stunner, and then Barrett got the worst of it taking a beating from all three. The Hall of Famers cleared the ring and began celebrating with some Stone Cold brewed beer, Austin’s own Broken Skull Ranch IPA. It was then The New Day got back in the ring and started their dancing and pelvic thrusting. Kofi got Shawn to dance and Big-E got Foley on board, so it was up to Woods to do the impossible, get the Rattle Snake to dance.
At first it looked as if he was successful. Austin started snapping his fingers and moving side to side, but none of us were fooled. Austin might be smiling but we know Stone Cold doesn’t dance and the snaps turned to middle fingers and the hip movement turned to a kick to Woods’s stomach followed by a Stunner. New Day was taken back the legends continued drinking their beers, with Austin doing most of the drinking.
This was a WrestleMania moment, the show could have ended right here and I would have been fine. It had been years since I’d seen Michaels and Austin in the ring live and my son had never seen them live and in person in the ring so this moment was awesome and through out the whole thing he was going crazy, especially when HBK and Stone Cold hit their finishers. If there is one thing Vince McMahon can still pull off, it’s a spectacle the this was spectacular.
Next up was Brock Lesnar vs Dean Ambrose in a No Holds Bard Street Fight. This match had a lot going for it going in. Sure Lesnar handed out a bunch of suplexes to Ambrose (13 to be exact) and Ambrose used a bunch of chairs against Lesnar, with the exception of the barbed wire bat and chainsaw, which were given to him by Mick Foley and Terry Funk respectfully. The match was okay but I think everyone expected more from it. It never really left the ring, a lot of times Street Fights will spill over into the crowd or go back stage, or at the very least destroy an announce table, but this did none of that. Everything stayed at ringside with really the only outside the ring stuff was Dean getting a weapon. Also the ending was a let down. Dean had beaten Brock with chairs and Kendo sticks and even hit Brock with his finisher the Dirty Deeds and Brock kicked out. Lesnar would later land an F-5 on Dean and everyone thought Dean would kick out, but he didn’t. Much like Lesnar’s brawl with the Undertaker two years ago the match just ended. It was a fine match but I feel it could have been more and I felt the finish made Dean look weak. He didn’t have to win, but having him kick out of one F-5 would have made him look strong and he could have moved on from this feud looking good.
Following the Street Fight was what a lot of folks consider the best match of the night, I would say it was either the second best match or 1B to the Ladder Match’s 1A, but I’m talking about the triple threat match for the New Women’s Title between The Irish Lass-Kicker Becky Lynch, The Boss Sasha Banks, and Charlotte Flair. Unfortunately I missed the cool intros because Shawn had to use the restroom, so I missed my one true love Becky Lynch coming out, I missed Sasha being escorted by her cousins newly enshrined Hall of Famer Snoop Dogg, but I did catch Charlotte coming down to the ring.
The match was indeed great, it was last Summer when Lynch, Flair, and Banks were brought up from NXT and promised a revolution in the Divas division, and boy did they deliver on that promise on Sunday. A little backstory for you, up until a couple of years ago, the Divas division was made up of very pretty women who kind of wrestled, they were mostly eye candy who would compete in lingerie matches and goofy things like that. Wrestling fans treated the Divas’ matches as a bathroom break (don’t worry, the irony of my son having to use the restroom as their match was about to start is not lost on me). The Match was a lot of fun with each woman hitting a few high spots each, including Sasha paying homage to her hero Eddie Gurrero with a frog splash. In the end though Charlotte maintained her title by getting Becky to tap out to the figure 8 with an assist from dear old dad Ric “RICKY THE” Flair who held Sasha back from breaking up the pin.
Immediately following Charlotte’s win ominous music began to play the Hell in the Cell was lowered. I had never seen a Cell match live so this was another first for me this weekend (there were a lot, shoot), then “Here Comes the Money” blared through the stadium speakers and 101,000 fans stood up and cheered Shane McMahon as he came out and did his shuffle, then we went back behind the curtain only to appear again with his three sons. Man, this Mania was filled with fatherly moments, from Zack and his dad, to Flair cheating for his daughter, to now Shane bringing his boys out with him. As they walked to the ring money fell from the ceiling, special WrestleMania 32 dollars (sadly I was unable to get any as none fell over us) and then the lights went out and the bell tolled, who did it toll for? Shane of course.
I had seen the Undertaker live a few times before but Shawn never had and even though he’d seen him a thousand times on tv and knew what to expect he had a look of dread on his face as the Deadman walked to the ring. With introductions over the fight was on, and it was a fight. These two didn’t come to wrestle they came to fight. I think the only wrestling moves I saw was two tombstones from Taker and a last ride. Everything else looked like a cross between a boxing match and UFC fight. In spite of taking the loss Shane had some great moments (like Shane does whenever he’s in the ring). First up he hit his coast to coast drop kick after pinning a chair to Taker’s face. Then of course after Taker speared Shane through the cage, Shane found his way to the top while Taker laid motionless on the announce table. Shane did the sign of the cross before jumping off the cage to deliver an elbow to Taker, except Taker moved. Shane crashed through the table in a moment that had the fans chanting “HOLY SHIT, HOLY SHIT!” Shawn was about to join in and then realized he was sitting with his dad a looked at me, I said, “you can do it just this once, but don’t let me ever catch you saying it again.” He smiled, those around us giggled, and then both father and son chanted “HOLY SHIT” with 100,000 others.
After the elbow it basically over. Taker dragged Shane’s nearly lifeless body to the ring, delivered one more tombstone and then covered him with the 1-2-3. The bell rang and even though Taker won, he looked like he had gone through hell to do so, and Shane, well he just laid motionless until the trainers brought out the kart to wheel him away on a board. As they got up the ramp Shane gave the crowd a thumbs up to a monstrous roar. Taker won the match, but Shane stole the show.
Now for anyone familiar with wrestling you never have your main event immediately follow a big match or moment so we were treated to The Rock coming out to announce that we had broken the attendance record set by WrestleMania III with the new record sitting at 101,763. It was cool to see the Rock in person, but then the Wyatts came down to the ring and Bray cut a great promo with the Rock. We probably won’t ever see them spare with words again but man would I love to see it. This led to a match, yes a match, between The Rock and Rowan, with the Rock shedding his clothes to reveal his wrestling trunks, pads, and boots, and he put boots to asses beating Rowan in 6 seconds with a Rock Bottom.
This then lead to the Wyatts cornering The Rock in what looked like a three on one, and then the trumpets hit and down runs John Cena of all people to save the day. I’m used to hearing about 50/50 cheers and boos for Cena when he appears but being away for so long and that he was helping the Rock I’d say the cheers were 70% to 30% boos. Both men beat the Wyatts with their respective signatures (People’s Elbow and 5 Knuckle Shuffle) and respective finishers (Rock Bottom and Attitude Adjustment). They walked up the ramp victorious to 101,763 people cheering their heads off.
The cool down match was the Andre the Giant memorial battle royal, that really only had three memorable things happen. First was the return of Diamond Dallas Paige (BANG!), then Shaq came out, which was weird, and finally former NXT badass Baron Corbin won the whole thing. It was a nice moment for the young star and hopefully he carries through for a while, the main roster needs some good heels.
Last we had the main event of the night, which I covered in part one, so I won’t bore you with it again, other than no matter what the WWE Network tried to do, the building booed Roman Reigns out of there. of the over 101,000 people in attendance, I’d say a goo 95,000 were booing.
So that dear reader was Shawn’s and my experience at WrestleMania weekend. We had a blast and I have to give it up to the WWE for throwing this weekend long party in the city of Dallas. There wasn’t a moment I can point to where Shawn and I weren’t smiling (after the iPad fiasco of course) and where this seemed to be a once in a lifetime trip for the two us could very well happen again next year in Orlando, only time will really tell but it was so much fun I definitely want to do it again. Thank you WWE for the experience of a lifetime and thank you dear reader for reading these recaps.