KELLER & POWELL FLAGSHIP (12/5)
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WrestleMania 32 Live Reports
Report by Tony Petzold of Austin, Texas
I’ve been to several Texas Longhorns football games. For reference, the Longhorns stadium seats just over 100,000 fans – so their events are completely comparable in scope of attendance to WrestleMania at AT&T Stadium. My wife, son, and I arrived at 3:40 p.m. and were immediately met with a line that measured perhaps half a mile. Now we had been told previously that they were going to open the doors at 4:00 p.m., yet as the day continued and the line grew ever longer, there was no movement.
As others attested, there was an ambulance there to presumably deal with people who sustained heat exhaustion. Fans became restless, even after the line began to move incrementally forward. It appeared that there was only a few people that were taking tickets, as the line condensed into a huge crowd and began chanting, “Let us in!”
Finally someone at the front altered policy and began using more ticket-takers, because suddenly the crowd began to surge forward. At 5:40, we made it inside of the stadium and headed for our seats with the pre-game show nearly complete.
Ladder Match – We missed this because we had not had a chance to get concessions or some souvenirs. While my family watched the match, I purchased some t-shirts, a box of Booty-Os, and a program, then scampered back to my seat. Along my trip I passed a dedicated Randy Savage fan, who was wearing a robe, tights, and nothing else. The AT&T workers had a mixture of amazement and horror as Macho 2.0 sauntered by.
Styles vs. Jericho – This was a great match, but as I sat down with a tray of concessions I realized for the first time just how big the stadium was, and how diminutive the wrestlers were. That said, the giant replay screen made it just like watching the Network at home, but without the buffering.
New Day vs. League of Nations – The New Day received a huge ovation, with many fans and at least one stadium worker dancing along. The reaction for the match became muted, and it was here that the WWE began doing stadium queues. “New Day Rocks” began appearing on the giant replay screen in an effort to get the fans to chant along, which worked. After League of Nations won, the place erupted for the return of Shawn Michaels. When Mick Foley came out there was a build of anticipation, as we all seemed to know who was next. Finally Stone Cold appeared, and he received the biggest ovation of the night.
Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar – Not much to say that has not already been said, but here the replay screen began counting Lesnar’s suplexes.
Women’s Championship match – Sasha Banks received the largest cheers of the three. I was in the minority rooting for Charlotte, to the chagrin of my family. This was the match of the night, and Charlotte’s flip off of the top rope received a huge ovation from the live crowd. Strangely, the stadium replay screen showed queues for Charlotte, even though she was the heel. Also, something funny happened briefly with the crowd noise – more on that in the next match.
Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon – The crowd was 60/40 in favor of Shane. Both men received huge reactions, but at times the fans response during the match became quiet. At one point, a dueling “Undertaker/Shane-o-Mac” chant began, seemingly near what would be the endzone…and then instantaneously that chant was resounding loudly throughout the building. Then I realized it – WWE was either piping in canned noise, or they were using a directional mic on that section and than pumping out the chant as loud as possible through the speakers. This was the third time that night that the production team was noticeably sweetening the crowd audio in the building.
When Shane ascended the side of the steel cage a quick chant of, “Please don’t die!” began. There was a huge pop for Shane’s bump from the top of the cage, and after the match ended a fan next to me pointed out WWE personnel rolling up the crash pad that was hidden beneath the announcer’s desk.
Andre the Giant Battle Royal – We had no idea that Baron Corbin or Tatanka were tucked away amongst the unannounced wrestlers making their way to the ring. There was a great reaction to Dallas Page showing up, and a huge cheer for the Shaq, surprisingly. Tatanka looked great after being going for some time. Some – including me – were hoping that Mark Henry would win the battle royal as a retirement award in Texas, but alas it was not to be. There was a decent reaction for the unannounced Corbin winning the match.
The Rock Segment – The live reaction to the Rock appearing was second only to Steve Austin. At first I thought he was going to shoot t-shirts with his weapon, but we were surprised to see it used as a flame-thrower. The same astute fan sitting next to me pointed out that The Rock was wearing his wrestling boots. The fans were happy when The Rock announced the attendance record, and then the Wyatts got a nice reaction when they appeared. Unfortunately for me that squelched the hope that The Rock would challenge the winner of the Reigns-Hunter match, using his never utilized rematch clause from WrestleMania 29. The stadium went crazy when John Cena appeared. There were anti-Cena chants as his music played, but they were happy chants. People were pleased to see him back.
Triple H vs. Roman Reigns – Very loud boos for Roman Reigns. I’d say the crowd was 80/20 against him, and the majority not cheering for him were not necessarily siding with Hunter, either. After what was a great event live, this was a big letdown. I saw one or two fans from my section leave, although I looked around and did not see anyone else leaving early. When Roman won, his music was turned up to a very, very high level and drowned out the booing. We decided to leave, and as we entered the stadium concourse his music died down and you could hear thunderous boos.
Overall, this was a really fun show to attend live, outside of a truly disastrous effort to get fans expeditiously into the event. The main event was the only poor match, but the previous four hours more than made up for it. Biggest Ovations (in order): Steve Austin, The Rock, John Cena.
Report By VIP member Ken Arnold
Score (6.0): Best: Women’s Title match and Styles-Jericho. Worst: Roman-Hunter and HIAC match. This was my second straight WrestleMania in-person and I enjoyed the experience and was amazed by the set-up, lighting, the whole nine yards. The spectacle itself was amazing and unforgettable in many respects. It was five hours long, seven if you add the pre-show and I definitely felt burned out by the end, but it was fun and I’d do it again. The short and long term problems with WWE were all over the show and how two of the big four matches (HIAC, World Title) hurt this show bringing my score from a possible 7 to a 6.
Let me say first, that the biggest highlight for me was seeing Steve Austin live for the first time in many, many years and I nearly lost my voice watching and cheering him on as he delivered multiple Stone Cold Stunners. The crowd exploding when he came out and him receiving that rock star reaction that he got during his heyday in the late-’90s into the 2000s was tremendous. It was louder and longer than The Rock’s.
I enjoyed seeing Rock, but him having a ridiculously short match didn’t do much for me. Though he and the returning John Cena cleaning house on the Wyatt family was nice, though, given Bray’s injury. I felt that Rock should have skipped this year and waited until Orlando to do something and instead let Austin be the guy to announce the attendance and interact with the Wyatts instead.
In-ring wise, I enjoyed the women’s match tremendously and while I would have preferred to see Sasha win the title for that feel good moment and, if not her, than Becky would have been a great consolation. I understood that Charlotte winning made sense and actually think that Sasha and Becky chasing her with perhaps Bayley getting involved eventually can lead to some solid women’s matches. And that moonsault to the outside by Charlotte was amazing to see live. Holy smokes is she a freak athletically.
I’m glad A.J. Styles had his moment to shine with Chris Jericho and am totally fine with the result. The battle royal was dull even with DDP and Shaq. Baron Corbin doesn’t do anything for me. The New Day stuff is still funny at times, but it’s getting stale faster than I thought it would and being babyfaces will only accelerate that. The ladder match was good. Kevin Owens got one of the loudest pops of the night behind Austin, Rock, and Cena. Zack Ryder? Well, it wasn’t the Miz, so there’s that. (And then it was Miz on Monday.)
I give Brock Lesnar credit. He did what he was paid to do and that’s destroy someone – in this case, Dean Ambrose. But, you could tell Brock should have had a different opponent and he didn’t look all that happy overall with how things went this Mania season for him either. Hopefully next year will be far better. Ambrose? Where the heck does he go from here? I can’t take him seriously when he loses every single big match he’s ever in. Whether he turns heel or stays face, he’s just this big loser. And there’s something wrong with that.
Watching Undertaker and Shane was rough and I felt for both guys. If this was 10 years ago then this might have worked (might have), and we did get the spectacle of the night out of this match. I give Shane credit for taking that risk leaping off the top of the Cell, but I still wouldn’t have done it. Hopefully, Taker gets that Cena match next year and he goes out on a much higher note. I noticed the crowd turn on Taker during the match and thought of how awkward it was to hear at times. But, Shane made himself the sympathetic character, so it made sense giving the thoughtless booking of this match.
Triple H and Roman Reigns – the boos were loud in-person and the match was awful. The crowd stated entertaining themselves with chants and trying to do the wave. Worst Mania main event in years. I just don’t see it with Reigns and I don’t think the Hunter from 15 years ago could have gotten something out of this guy.
I also got the sense as Hunter and Stephanie left the ring after the match and show ended they were doing a curtain call in-ring and on-stage hugging and kissing family at ringside. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but it came across like his last match based on the facial expression and body language.
Overall, a fun show to be part of in-person with lots of memories. It’s just hard to look past the booking issues and roster depth problems even with the injuries. WWE can’t afford to have another WrestleMania with this type of bad booking and match-up if they want to keep the brand and mystique strong.