A Bloated, Self-indulgent Mess


A bloated, self-indulgent mess…that was Wrestlemania 32.

First, if you had fun, great. Hanging out with people is usually the best part of wrestling, no matter what. Doesn’t matter if the show is a Wrestling Observer card of the year or what we saw last night. Having fun doesn’t require ***** matches. Trust me…I’ve had fun at cards whose wrestlers I could barely remember a week later. But last night was simply everything wrong about WWE.

Wrestlemania 32 really came off to me like a bloated, self-indulgent mess.

Was it really necessary to have the show go on until 11:45 pm EDT…because you can? Seriously? When you can’t wait for an event to be over so you can get some sleep…and it’s the signature show of the year…this is not good. That’s how I felt.

Imagine the kids (WWE’s future) who get all excited to see Wrestlemania, only to have parents tell them to go to bed, even the ones willing to let them stay up until the usual 11:00 pm “just this once”, because Monday is a school night; not to mention those who had to cut out because they have early classes or an early meeting at work on Monday.

Fans who watched the entire presentation watched from 5:00 pm EDT to 11:45 pm EDT. SIX AND ONE HALF HOURS.

Even with some of the Ring of Honor shows during Gabe Sapolsky’s tenure…which sometimes approached 5 hours, and featured multiple **** or higher matches as a matter of course…there’s a mental and physical limit to fan endurance.

Then there’s the show itself.

The wrestlers who are going to be WWE’s future, and their acts that are the most over with even the mass fan base…the wrestlers Wrestlemania 32 could and should have been used to elevate…Kevin Owens (yes, I expected him to lose…but this shows a pattern), Becky Lynch, Sasha Banks, Dean Ambrose (not by itself shocking given he was paired with Brock Lesnar), AJ Styles, The New Day…all lost last night. Every single one of them.

Even if Kevin Owens was to lose, the chance to elevate Sami Zayn by having him somehow involved in the finish to build Owens-Zayn down the road (which you saw last night was what the match that fans really want to see)…even if to give a Lifetime Achievement Award of sorts to Zack Ryder..made no sense at all.

Yes, I get the purpose is to build the chase…and that the chase is what attracts fans. But the chase has to eventually result in a catch…and bookers coming up with the next chase.

I didn’t mention Roman Reigns winning the Heavyweight Title, because everyone assumed he was winning…and it doesn’t bother me a bit. So this will be one column or blog that doesn’t bitch about Roman Reigns. But I do wish if last night was going to be used to elevate future stars…Roman Reigns wasn’t going to be the only one. OK…OK…Baron Corbin winning the Andre the Giant Battle Royal too counts. But how much does the Battle Royal really do to build someone versus storyline matches?

The failure to use the opportunity to use Shane McMahon as a storyline prop by having him go over to “controlling RAW” and “bringing in” new talent such as Balor Club, and others from NXT that will inevitably debut in the next few months seemed to make no sense to me, either.

Yes, the ladder match was great until the finish (and scary in places). Yes, the women’s match (until Ric Flair‘s interference) was great, as is the new WOMEN’S belt. It shows a certain generation of fans (those who haven’t watched NXT over the last year plus) that women can WRESTLE (older ones remember classic All Japan Women’s matches that were better than men’s…which many thought were at their peak then, too).

Yes, the story of the Hell in A Cell was great…until the finish. Michael Cole actually did a helluva job post-match at getting that over.

For those who keep saying wins and losses don’t matter (including Chris Jericho, who seems to unfairly be taking the brunt of a lot of fan heat on Twitter), and that it’s a dramatic presentation… WWE has all too choked off fan reaction for a new talent by the way they’ve done 50-50 booking and on and off pushes. They run the risk of that here. The idea is to get fans interested in characters…the chase…and the storyline to conclusion.

Then….it was OK to have Tatanka, Shaquille O’Neil, and everyone short of the guy who pours coffee at the WWE Stamford offices in that battle royal…but Vince couldn’t relent, and let Titus O’Neil get a Wrestlemania payday? Seriously?

Then there’s the fake crowd figure. The real one WAS a legit record for WWE paid attendance at an event. No question. By itself, that’s something for WWE to publicize. Dave Meltzer reported the legitimate crowd at just under 94,000. The $17.3 million gate figure from press releases is apparently legitimate. That is a TREMENDOUS achievement if true. It blows away their previous legitimate paid crowd at SummerSlam in 1992 at Wembley Stadium with 79,127 tickets sold….by far. But it wasn’t 101,763.

I’m hardly a lawyer, but I wonder if WWE stockholders (no, I’m not one of those either) can demand the real figure, and question why a publicly held company can inflate the total in press releases (which can’t be said to be “part of the dramatic presentation”). It’s a wrestling tradition…I get it. But 99.99999% of those wrestling companies with the exception of Ring of Honor (owned by Sinclair) and TNA (at the moment owned by Panda Energy) aren’t publicly owned, and don’t have stockholders or the SEC to explain things to.

Speaking of explaining…Jerry Jones has a lot of it to do. There were major problems with fans being kept outside AT&T Stadium for two hours because the WiFI in the building wasn’t working…thus preventing fans from having their tickets scanned. It’s not like AT&T Stadium hasn’t held events of this size. The venue record is a 2014 George Strait concert with 104,793 paid attending. They hosted a Super Bowl in 2011.

WWE also has a lot to explain to those with WWE Network. There were repeated issues with buffering and streams dropping last night, on all types of devices. It isn’t just Wrestlemania 32. Buffering and inability to log in at all is a continuing issue, and keeps WWE Network numbers from growing to the level WWE projected when they first created the WWE Network.

Until next time…

— Bob Magee


AS I SEE IT:A Bloated, Self-indulgent Mess
Bob Magee
Pro Wrestling: Between the Sheets