It’s that time of year again. WrestleMania is nearly upon us, with days away before the big event. While we’ll occupy our time this weekend with NXT TakeOver: Dallas and the esteemed Hall of Fame, what everyone’s really looking forward to is the big show (no, not that Big Show): WrestleMania 32… except maybe not this year. Raw ratings are dropping ever lower as viewers disappear in large numbers from week to week. The Raw take-home show did rate better than most, but considering that those three hours are supposed to get you hyped for the biggest wrestling show of the year, you would hope more people would tune in.
What is it that’s turning so many people off from WWE? Is the lackadaisical writing, the endless brainwash campaign to turn fans on to Roman Reigns, the vanishing of your favorite Superstars as they succumb to injuries? It’s a little bit of all that and more. As we approach what will probably be a dismal WrestleMania 32, opinions are mixed. If you wanted to turn off your TV (or smartphone or tablet or computer) and do something else with your Sunday night, no one would blame you. Here are five reasons why you might want to consider skipping WrestleMania.
5. Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens Aren’t Wrestling One-on-One
This has been said a hundred times already, but if you don’t watch NXT, you should. The Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens feud had the potential to be one of the biggest in the modern era of wrestling. There was no need for the creative department to grasp at straws when a reason for the bad blood already existed: for years, Zayn and Owens wrestled as a team in the indies, and Zayn was called up to NXT first. Boom, done.
The feud raged on in NXT for a few months before Owens was ironically brought up to WWE TV ahead of Zayn. The former El Generico was also out for almost a year on injury. Now that he’s nearly fully transitioned to the main roster (he will appear at NXT TakeOver: Dallas to do battle with the debuting Shinsuke Nakamura), Zayn and Owens could have the match they truly deserve on the WrestleMania stage… except they’ll be sharing that stage with Stardust, the Miz, Sin Cara, Zack Ryder, and Dolph Ziggler in a pointless attempt to give as many Superstars screen time as possible.
4. No John Cena
Most regular WWE viewers were getting mighty sick of John Cena. It was frustrating watching fans react like he was a heel without the writers giving him a chance to play the bad guy. Also, his self-righteous, “good must always prevail,” constant victory shtick was getting old. There was also the way that he’d always support faces that were over to get pops himself and how he’d sometimes talk down to Superstars like a teacher to a child. Then he disappeared.
It’s weird to admit, but he’s left a considerable gap in the WWE World Heavyweight title scene that the company hasn’t replaced. It doesn’t help that they’ve lost Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins, that Brock Lesnar and Triple H only wrestle sometimes, that Roman Reigns still isn’t getting over, and that they won’t give Dean Ambrose the shot he deserves. A WrestleMania without John Cena is like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich without the peanut butter: passable, but missing something.
3. Shane McMahon and the Undertaker Are Both Too Old
Okay, personally, this writer marked out when Shane McMahon returned. Before that night, Shane being on WWE TV seemed impossible. After all, he had made it loud and clear that he wanted to go his own way and not live in the shadow of his father. That’s fair. He hadn’t been involved in WWE for nearly 10 years (how time flies), so when he came back, it was a shock. Even better, the moment was a pure one that wasn’t spoiled ahead of time by the Internet.
His match against the Undertaker would have been badass 10 years ago, but now? It somehow feels like it’s going to end up looking like a nursing home brawl. Shane’s letting his gray hair show, and well, Undertaker doesn’t exactly have much hair left to claim as his own. Although no one can speculate about Shane O’ Mac’s level of athleticism, Taker can barely get around the ring anymore. Just watching him crawl down the entrance ramp is laborious. This match may be one of the slowest-paced on the card. It’s no wonder it’s not the main event.
2. The Thin Roster
John Cena is far from the only injured one. As already mentioned, Seth Rollins’ knee damage was severe enough to require surgery and force him to give up his WWE World Heavyweight Championship. He should return sometime later this spring or summer. Sting is done for good, Bryan is done for good, and Randy Orton (remember him?) is likely done for good too.
What about the mid-card? This is where you’ll notice the biggest gap. The Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal is typically a 30-man affair, but this year it’s just 20 Superstars battling it out. Who’s missing? Tyson Kidd, who may never come back; Cesaro, whose return date is a mystery; Luke Harper, who very recently hurt his knee; Bray Wyatt, who’s dealing with back pains; and Neville, who damaged his ankle.
We can’t forget the Divas, as Nikki Bella may never be able to return to a regular schedule of in-ring action again after hurting her neck. Brie is reportedly retiring right after WrestleMania to care for Daniel Bryan, who seems to be having even more health troubles.
1. Roman Reigns’ Obvious Victory
If you boo for Roman Reigns and feel like your voice is never heard, it could be because WWE cranks up the entrance theme music while turning down the crowd audio, or it could be that your jeers are edited out and replaced with cheers. WWE has done it before when the audience gets too rowdy or their applause (or lack thereof) doesn’t fit with the company’s narrative. However, all the camera and audio tricks in the world can’t change that Triple H, the heel, has been continuously cheered for weeks now for beating the snot out of Reigns.
As soon as Triple H won the Royal Rumble and thus the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, the trajectory was clear: he’d hang onto the title through WrestleMania and then drop it to Reigns. It won’t be a surprise. It won’t be a shock. It’ll be the WrestleMania moment for Reigns the company was (rightfully) too afraid to pull off last year. The writers really think that Reigns is enough of an established fan favorite to become the face of the company. They’ll see soon enough that it’s not true, unless of course the crowd audio is muted.
Okay, so that was bad. However, watching WWE sometimes is like rubbernecking in a car accident: it’s brutal, it’s painful, but you just can’t look away. Is your curiosity piqued for Sunday? Here’s five reasons why you may want to stick around for WrestleMania 32.
5. The Rock May Have a Segment with The New Day
Just like last year, the Rock has been announced to make an appearance at WrestleMania 32. His involvement will likely be in a non-wrestling capacity, so just what might he do? Last April, he brought Ronda Rousey with him and killed nearly 30 minutes of time bickering with and later attacking the Authority. It was mildly entertaining, but it did indeed feel like WWE was trying to kill time and wait for darkness to arrive to make Bray Wyatt and the Undertaker’s entrances look cooler.
This year, many rumors abound about the Rock’s involvement at ‘Mania. Will he help Roman Reigns and try to get him over again? One popular hypothesis is that Rock and New Day will cross paths. Some believe that he may be the fourth man that helps take down the League of Nations. Even if Rock has a verbal sparring with Xavier Woods, Big E, and Kofi Kingston, that would arguably be the most entertaining segment that WrestleMania 32 has to offer.
4. Triple H Is on Fire Lately
Believe it or not, Triple H is going to be 47 years old this July, but you would never guess it. He’s in arguably the best shape of his career, and he can still put on killer matches. Trips has always been a ring general through and through, and by preserving his body by only wrestling sometimes, he’s not stale and seems more youthful in the ring than the likes of Big Show, Kane, and other Attitude Era brethren.
He’s also become a huge involuntary face every time he’s attacked Reigns since their match firmed up for WrestleMania. While yes, Triple H is undoubtedly going to lose the WWE World Heavyweight Championship this Sunday, since this bout is in the main event slot, watching the Cerebral Assassin slowly tear down Reigns should be a treat regardless of the outcome.
3. Chris Jericho vs AJ Styles
Speaking of part-timers, Chris Jericho is another Attitude Era Superstar who knows how to not overstay his welcome. He’s typically appeared for a few months, put over another wrestler who needs it, and then disappeared to work with Fozzy or get involved in another project. However, he’s stuck around for much of 2016, enough so to start an entertaining feud with WWE newcomer AJ Styles.
The level of talent and skill between these two men is unreal. They’re both long-time veterans who, although they possess different wrestling styles, know how to get a crowd to its feet. We’ve seen Jericho and Styles as friends, we’ve seen them as enemies, and this Sunday, we’re going to get to see the culmination of the disdain they have for one another. If Styles can really let loose like he’s done in NJPW, this should be a match for the ages.
2. Shane McMahon Is Wrestling Again
Shane hadn’t wrestled since 2009, which is quite a lengthy absence. Above, we mentioned how the match between him and the Undertaker at ‘Mania has the potential to be underwhelming at best. After all, Shane is 46 years old and Taker just turned 51. If you grew up watching the Attitude Era though and saw the insane stunts Shane would pull off in and out of the ring, you can’t help but feel a flicker of excitement at the prospect of seeing him wrestle again.
Will it probably be a bit of a bummer because he’s older, he’s a father, and he probably won’t take those kinds of bumps anymore? Yes. However, we have a feeling that there might be one really good spot where Undertaker just dishes out some insane damage to Shane. For storyline purposes, the only real benefit his victory would serve is if he was really allowed to take over WWE.
1. The Divas’ Triple Threat Match
Last August, Sasha Banks and Bayley stole the show at NXT TakeOver: Brooklyn. The two went head-to-head in what many called the best match of 2016, the best women’s match ever, and one of the best matches of all time period. The battles between Sasha and Charlotte are the stuff of legends. Add in another of the Four Horsewomen in Becky Lynch and you have a match that can truly be the best on the WrestleMania 32 card.
Of course, for the fight to really shine, WWE writers have to…ahem, give Divas a chance. If the women get a solid 15 to 20 minutes, Ric Flair doesn’t get involved, and the commentary team focuses more on the wrestling than chattering about the failed Divas Revolution, this match could make you forget all about Ambrose and Lesnar or Triple H and Reigns.