SPOTLIGHTED PODCAST ALERT (YOUR ARTICLE BEGINS A FEW INCHES DOWN)...
WrestleMania 32 PPV Report
April 3, 2016
Arlington, Tex. at AT&T Stadium
Report by James Caldwell, PWTorch assistant editor
Advertised Pre-Show Card
- U.S. Title match: Kalisto vs. Ryback
- The Dudleys vs. The Usos
- 10-Divas tag match
20-man Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal
– Two hours before the start of WrestleMania, the pre-show started with a look outside AT&T Stadium for tons of people standing in line trying to get in the building. Inside the stadium, there was hardly anyone inside.
– The pre-show panel inside AT&T Stadium was Renee Young, Lita, and Booker T.
– Outside the building, Corey Graves was inside the giant sea of people trying to get in the building.
– At the social media lounge, Tom Phillips was not alone this time. New hire Cathy Kelley from Afterbuzz joined Phillips to hype social media and tweeting and such. They advertised Paul Heyman answering tweets later in the pre-show.
– Backstage, Jo-Jo brought in IC champion Kevin Owens to discuss his seven-way IC Title ladder match. Did you think this through wanting a high-profile title match at Mania? Owens said he wanted a high-profile match, but he didn’t ask for this. But, he still has a good shot because of his opponents. Dolph Ziggler – an unfunny comedian always in the wrong place at the wrong time, Sin Cara – no chance, Stardust – trying to build a spaceship out of the ladders, The Miz – he’s The Miz, and then there’s Zack Ryder – he was going to buy tickets to WM32 a few weeks ago, now he’s in his match. What about Sami Zayn? Owens no-sold. He said he doesn’t care about the past, but tonight – KOMania.
– 15 minutes into the pre-show, the stadium was still pretty empty since people were not being let in yet.
– At the central stadium panel, Lita said she has a special announcement to make in the second hour. Booker acted offended that the ladies kept this secret from him.
– 30 minutes into the pre-show, the stadium was still pretty empty since people could not get into the stadium with WiFi ticket-taking down.
– At the social media lounge, Heyman insulted everyone, then hyped Brock Lesnar vs. Dean Ambrose. Kathy wanted to know how many times Brock will suplex Dean. Heyman said that is up to Brock to decide during the match. What if Dean conquers The Beast? Heyman laughed uproariously to himself at the thought of that. Heyman said he will not validate that question, then went legal verbiage mode.
– Back to Graves at the WrestleMania stage to show the vantage point when wrestlers come out on-stage before walking down the long ramp.
– 45 minutes into the pre-show, the stadium still looked pretty empty. More people than earlier for sure, but very sparse.
– WWE ran a Hall of Fame recap video, highlighting Sting announcing his retirement.
– Down at ringside, Mauro Ranallo, Jerry Lawler, and Byron Saxton were in tuxedos to call the pre-show matches.
Kalisto was introduced to the ring defending the U.S. Title in a comic book-like costume. The arena looked so empty as Kalisto made his entrance. Ryback was then introduced as Kalisto’s opponent. Eden Stiles handled formal ring introductions trying to stretch this out. Her formal ring intro bounced off the walls of the stadium since there were so few people in the building.
A — U.S. champion KALISTO vs. RYBACK — United States Title match
Early “Goldberg” chant for Ryback. Kalisto and Ryback did the David vs. Goliath match as people in the building tried to engage. Kalisto sent Ryback to the floor, but Ryback turned it around on the floor. Ryback stood tall in the ring before WWE faded to a “Network break.”
[WM32 Hype Video]
Back from break, Ryback scored a nearfall. Meanwhile, fans facing the hard camera entertained themselves with this weird setting of empty chairs everywhere as the opening match unfolded. Ryback eventually tried to play to the crowd, then he delivered a running Michinoku Driver for a two count. Lawler said it’s only a matter of time until Ryback finishes the champ.
Ryback took Kalisto to the top turnbuckle and said this is his WrestleMania Moment. Ryback hoisted him in the air for an extended-length delayed superplex, but Kalisto turned it around in mid-air. Ryback shook him off, but walked right into a DDT. Kalisto snapped off a running huracanrana for a two count. Then a corkscrew elbow smash for a nearfall. Ranallo said Kalisto is tributing Hyabusa tonight, then Ryback smashed him to the mat.
Ryback taunted Kalisto, telling the little guy to get up. Kalisto ended up ripping away the middle turnbuckle before Ryback tried a powerbomb. Kalisto landed on his feet, though, and shoved Ryback into the exposed steel. Kalisto then jumped off the ropes into a springboard Salida del Sol on Ryback for the pin and the win. The match conveniently ended right before the top of the hour when USA picks up their pre-show coverage.
WINNER: Kalisto at 8:58 to retain the U.S. Title. As expected, Kalisto retained and Ryback had an “out” taking the exposed steel before losing. Mid-card action in front of a crowd slowly filing into the building. (**)
Pre-Show Second Hour
– WWE did a hard close into the joint USA Network/WWE Network broadcast. Renee Young reset the show from the studio panel as the stadium still looked pretty empty in the wide shots. Renee was now joined by Corey Graves with Lita and Booker T. Renee hyped The Rock being part of the show tonight. They speculated on how Rock will electrify tonight.
– Down at ringside, Ranallo, Lawler, and Saxton set up the first pre-show match of the joint show – the 10-Divas tag match.
The Total Divas theme played to bring out Brie Bella followed by Paige, Natalya, Alicia Fox, and Eva Marie. Mauro played up a tenuous relationship on Team Total Divas. Naomi’s music then brought out Lana, Summer Rae, Emma, Tamina, and Naomi. Lilian Garcia handled the ring introductions and Ranallo noted this is Lana’s in-ring wrestling debut.
B — TEAM TOTAL DIVAS (BRIE BELLA & ALICIA FOX & NATALYA & EVA MARIE & PAIGE) vs. TEAM BAD & BLONDE (NAOMI & TAMINA & LANA & EMMA & SUMMER RAE) — 10-Divas tag match
The match broke down into a 10-Divas stand-off and WWE cut to an early “Network break.”
[Total Divas plug]
Back from break, Eva Marie was in the ring drawing boos from the fans in the building. Eva then played up not getting along with her teammates and slap-tagged Natalya into the match. The heels isolated Natalya until Paige hot-tagged into the match. Wrestlers came in and out trying to get in their big moves until Lana tagged in making her in-ring debut. Russian bicycle kick to Paige, then she taunted Brie. She left on a high note, bringing in Tamina.
The match built to a Tower of Doom spot with Paige trying to wipe out the heels. Eventually, she just dove onto heels down at ringside, drawing applause from her teammates. Paige then tagged in Brie, who teed off on Total Divas escapee Naomi with Yes! kicks. Eva then brought the match to a screeching halt and took a kick to the face from Summer Rae. Chaos ensued with Divas in and out of the ring. It came down to Brie and Naomi, who walked into an armbar into the Yes! Lock. Naomi fought, but tapped out, giving Brie her pre-retirement send-off.
Post-match, Nikki Bella walked down the ramp to the ring in wrestling gear while sporting a neckbrace. Nikki hugged everyone in the ring, then the Total Divas did a curtain call. Brie was hoisted into the air.
WINNERS: Team Total Divas at 11:25. The match built, then kind of fell off at the end when they tried to get everyone in the ring for chaos. Fine farewell for Brie. (*3/4)
– At the studio panel, Renee noted there are so many people trying to get into the building. She said she would not want to be in that line right now.
– Video Package on Shane McMahon wanting control of Raw from Vince McMahon. The lockbox has disappeared. Meanwhile, the stadium was about 60 percent full.
– Down on the stadium floor, Lita was in the ring for her special announcement. The crowd woke up for Lita’s arrival. She was standing next to a table with an item covered by red tablecloth to deliver a promo about the history of women’s wrestling. Lita said these women paved the way for a whole new division and spotlight in WWE. She said she was part of the group that ushered in the Divas division.
Lita previewed the Divas Title match later tonight – Charlotte (boos), Becky Lynch (cheers), and Sasha Banks (loud cheers). She said they are so much more than Divas. Lita said tonight the winner of the match will be the recipient of the first-ever WWE Women’s Title. (First-ever?) Lita unveiled a brand-new WWE Title belt for the women’s division that the crowd popped for. It was a white belt with the same WWE Title design like a Super Bowl ring. The crowd cheered and applauded the shift for the women’s division.
At the studio panel, Renee talked about “getting rid” of the Divas moniker and being excited about this change. WWE spent years propping up that “Divas” marketing and now they’re trashing it. Notable for the booking is Charlotte apparently losing her “champions advantage” of not defending a title anymore. But, the triple threat format in WWE somewhat removes the “champions advantage” anyways.
In-ring: The Usos were introduced for the next pre-show match. The crowd was somewhat mixed. Fireworks then brought out the Dudleys. WWE went to a wideshot of the stadium that looked about 75 percent full by now.
3 — THE USOS (JIMMY & JEY USO) vs. THE DUDLEYS (BUBBA RAY & DEVON)
WWE cut to a USA break about 30 seconds in, but the Network feed stayed with the match. The Dudleys took control of the match, wearing down Jimmy. Bubba talked a lot of trash, which was audibly mic’ed for added effect. He said he was going to beat him up like he did his daddy Rikishi.
Bubba wanted to tribute Stan Hansen with a lariat, but Jimmy finally escaped to tag in Jey, who unfortunately walked into a top-rope diving headbutt combo from Devon to Uso’s crotch. Bubba and Devon teased getting the tables, going against their heel statement of never using tables again, but Jimmy superkicked them. The crowd booed, of course. The Dudleys wanted a 3D, but Jey superkicked Devon in the mouth after Jimmy cleared Bubba from the ring. Jey then covered Devon for the pin and the win.
WINNERS: Usos at 5:18. A basic Raw TV match that the crowd didn’t really engage in since they’re not into the over-exposed and under-developed Usos and fans wanted the Dudleys in a bigger match. (**)
Post-match, the crowd booed the outcome until Bubba returned to the ring to knock down the Usos. The crowd popped for the Dudleys teasing tables usage, which Ranallo said was hypocritical. Bubba and Devon set up tables in the ring, but The Usos cut them off to boos. The Usos put Devon and Bubba on the tables, then hit stereo splashes through the tables. Well, at the least the Dudleys got to do a Hall of Fame induction last night.
– At the studio, Renee hyped WWE trying to break the 100,000 mark in the attendance department. They were pushing up against the top of the hour, so apparently the Andre Battle Royal has been bumped up to the main PPV. WWE just never could figure out the card for this year’s event with matches bouncing back and forth for two weeks.
Michael Cole and JBL were introduced in the background as Renee signed off for the pre-show.
[ READER REAX: If you watch WM32, we’re looking for your Reax, 0-10 Score, and Best/Worst match sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. ]