WrestleMania surpasses record but fails to deliver

By Xavier Johnson, Assistant Sports Editor

WrestleMania 32 drew a record crowd of 97,769 people to AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Sunday. The show was more of a showcase for past stars and overall spectacle rather than strictly in-ring action.

The leaning on old legends Stone Cold Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and The Rock for drawing power was the temporary stop of the youth movement theme within World Wrestling Entertainment.

With injuries to wrestlers who were reported to have a key spot at WrestleMania, WWE needed to bring back big stars to energize the crowd at its biggest show of the year.

This year WrestleMania was a decent show, but for fans of pure wrestling action it was underwhelming. Matches like Chris Jericho vs. AJ Styles were expected to be “match of the night” candidates. That is not a standard they would live up to.

As a spectacle, it was a fun time. Appearances by old legends, especially Stone Cold, were an exciting and welcoming.

The standout match of the show was the Women’s Title triple-threat match. The three women involved, Sasha Banks, Becky Lynch and incoming champion Charlotte stole the show with a well-worked match. The match was full of action with multiple three person sequences. 

It was one of the better worked triple-threat matches of the past few years.

This year women are being taken more seriously in the WWE, so it was fitting that the women would have the standout match at WrestleMania.

The undercard event lacked in blow-away wrestling, but made up for by showcasing characters that the crowd loved.

A highlight of the undercard was WWE Tag Team Champions “New Day,” entering the ring dawned in battle armor inspired by the anime series Dragon Ball Z.

Zack Ryder opened the show by winning the Intercontinental Title in a ladder match. The improbable victory sparked an electric reaction by the record setting crowd.

The Styles and Jericho match was solid, but failed to exceed the quality of their previous two encounters.

The three featured contests had people entering the event with high expectations, but failed to match the audiences’ fervor. The intensity and work rate of the matches left a lot to be desired.

The main event of the show ended what would have been a positively received event on a sour note. In terms of quality, Roman Reigns vs. WWE Champion Triple H wasn’t a main event worthy of WrestleMania. It was just a match that went last.

Reigns vs. Triple H was a lethargic wrestling match that dragged on for 27 minutes. It was not as bad as Triple H’s WrestleMania 25 main event against Randy Orton, but it was darn close.

Reigns won the championship in front of an apathetic crowd.

In another featured contest, Dean Ambrose faced Brock Lesnar in a no-holds-barred match. This was a potential match of the night contender by many fans, but like the other main events it did not deliver.

The match lacked the intensity and brutality that Lesnar and Ambrose are known to exhibit. Ambrose lost to Lesnar in about 13 minutes.

The theme of the night was fan favorites losing. The crowd was ready to explode for the potential wins of Ambrose, Banks and Styles but they all lost.

WWE missed opportunities to have the crowd give a historic reaction for one of their current budding stars. 

They failed to give key wins that could have propelled Ambrose, Banks, or Styles further into the main event scene.

The co-main event was a “Hell in the Cell” match between a 51-year-old Undertaker and Shane McMahon, a 46-year-old corporate executive who hasn’t wrestled in years. Yeah, they leaned on old talent.

The stakes prior to the match were fueled coming into the event. If McMahon won, he’d be in control of the flagship television show Monday Night Raw and promised to revolutionize WWE. If Undertaker lost, however, he would be forced to retire on the spot at WrestleMania.

Over the unnecessarily long 30-minute match, the stakes were lessened as the crowd lost interest. The match was simply a long build up to one moment, McMahon diving off the 20-foot cage structure. That moment was extraordinary and woke the crowd up, but McMahon ultimately lost at the hands of the Undertaker.

WrestleMania 32 will be remembered for women taking center stage and acting as the jumping off point for the continued rise of the women’s division.

It will also be remembered as an event where the pre-event hype, and main matches, did not meet expectations that young wrestlers would defeat their heroes.