Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, children of all ages, SiriusXM proudly brings to you the WrestleMania preview champion of the worlddd! Well, not really.
This is actually my first foray into long-form pro wrestling writing. I’m sure you’ve enjoyed my short blurbs in our While You Were Sleeping recaps, but it’s clear I’m no Doug Mortman or Dave LaGreca. Still, the guys at Busted Open Radio were kind enough to let me handle the preview duties for WrestleMania 32, and I’ll even have some help from Doug! We’ll skip the matches that’ll take place on the pre-show and dive right into the main card.
In the words of the immortal Sting: “It’s Showtime, folks!”
United States Championship: Kalisto (c) vs. Ryback
Doric Sam: I’ll be honest: I have no idea why this match is happening. Kalisto and Ryback have demonstrated absolutely zero chemistry in the ring, and the storyline leading up to WrestleMania 32 has no steam. I’ve always felt that Ryback has been booked wrongly; I would’ve liked to see him as a heel from the get-go, billed as some unstoppable juggernaut that brutally destroys everything in his path. Instead, the WWE allowed him to lose matches to lesser opponents and “The Big Guy” lost all credibility.
Kalisto is a unique talent. I’m partial to high-flyers, so I’m always entertained when he’s bouncing around the ring with his innovative set of signature moves. There was the potential for some very entertaining title defenses against other superstars, but the WWE chose to keep Kalisto stuck in the mud with his bookings. This title defense, despite being on the grandest stage of them all, will be no different.
Doug Mortman: This is gonna be a common theme to WrestleMania 32: the setup’s non-existent. As far as I’m concerned, Kalisto is not a singles’ wrestler. Kalisto is part of a great tag team, the Lucha Dragons were fun to watch. But he’s now your U.S. champion and you have a title match that I don’t think many people are gonna really care about. At the end of the day, I would say Ryback walks out of WrestleMania as you U.S. champion.
Tag Team Championship: The New Day (c) vs. The League of Nations (4-on-3 Handicap Match)
DS: The tag team division is incredibly weak right now. The New Day is the most entertaining act the WWE has going right now, but they’ve been unable to find a viable rival to pair them with as of late. The marriage of Big E, Kofi Kingston and Xavier Woods has been spectacular as they’ve formed a stable you love to hate. Now as the underdogs who’ll be undermanned in this match and who likely won’t be able to use dirty tactics to win, part of their appeal is lost.
As for the League of Nations, the talent of the individuals is undeniable but the performance as a team is questionable. Wade Barrett, Alberto Del Rio, Sheamus and Rusev all could be competing for singles titles but instead they’re lumped together in a stable that just isn’t as convincing as it should be. The reason for that is the WWE waited way too long to present the team as a force in the tag team division.
DM: You definitely have a weak tag team division, there’s no doubt about it. What they needed to do I guess was solidify New Day as the complete opposite of League of Nations. But back to the original point: no one cares. The League of Nations have jobbed out to everybody in the company, so who’s gonna take them seriously? I would like to see a title change, but it’s not going to happen.
Intercontinental Championship: Kevin Owens (c) vs. Sami Zayn vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. The Miz vs. Sin Cara vs. Zack Ryder vs. Stardust (7-man Ladder Match)
DS: A seven-man ladder match for the Intercontinental Championship sounds cool in theory, but when you throw in names like Zack Ryder and Stardust it greatly diminishes the prestige this match should carry. How did Zack Ryder end up in this match anyway? Zack Ryder? Zack Ryder who hasn’t been on Raw in I-don’t-know-how-long? Really? And didn’t Ziggler lose a match to Triple H a couple weeks ago where the stipulation was he won’t compete at WrestleMania 32 if he didn’t win? At this point, it feels like the WWE is saying random things on a whim and thinking we’re not paying attention.
Hopefully, this likely will be a very good match with a lot of memorable moments. The setup to this match was just egregiously inconsistent. It’s also kind of sad because a one-on-one match between Owens and Zayn would’ve been exciting enough; the two have a bitter rivalry going back to their days in NXT and the storyline would’ve written itself. Instead, Owens isn’t really the featured attraction in this match, and the Intercontinental title is almost an afterthought.
DM: Dolph Ziggler should not be in any sort of match, let alone a championship match. It’s crazy to think that he’s in a championship match because it’s basically the WWE saying, ‘We don’t care about what we show to the fans. There’s no logic to what we do.’ It’s a slap in the fans’ face. You have, what should be a singles’ match in Owens vs. Zayn. I think one of the two of them walks away with the title. Let’s say Kevin Owens retains, but if Sami Zayn wins, the crowd’s gonna pop.
A.J. Styles vs. Chris Jericho
DS: I’m a huge fan of both A.J. Styles and Chris Jericho. Sadly, this match doesn’t make sense to me because we’ve seen it three times already, twice in the buildup to the Fastlane pay-per-view and then at Fastlane. Why are we seeing it again at WrestleMania?
In my opinion, Jericho and Styles should be in the seven-man ladder match and Styles in particular needs to be in the title picture after having two incredible matches with Owens. But the WWE decided to juice this rivalry for all its worth, and we’re probably going to see another great match by two of the best workers in the company. I just think this rivalry is stale and they’d be better-served if they were participating in a match with bigger stakes.
DM: Why wouldn’t you go back to A.J. and Jericho? I think it’s one of the few smart things they’re doing with this card. They can create magic, this match is your WrestleMania show-stealer. This is the marquee match in terms of the wrestling fan and the critical eye just watching them do what they do best. This is going to be a great match that, if I’m a betting man, A.J.’s walking away the winner.
Divas Championship: Charlotte (c) vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks
DS: The next generation of WWE Divas has officially taken over as the Divas Championship match features all the NXT alums who were brought in to be part of the “Divas Revolution.” Charlotte, Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks were all brought up to the main brand to add more intrigue to the Divas division. This was probably the best booking option for the WWE to make, but it’s unfortunate that it comes at the expense of other talented Divas like Paige, Naomi and Natalya who’ll be relegated to the pre-show.
The best thing about this is that all three of these women are very familiar with each other as they were all embroiled in feuds with one another in NXT. This match has potential to be a show-stealer, and with this being the first WrestleMania for each of them, they will likely pull out all the stops to put on a great performance.
DM: It’s a very exciting match, this can be another marquee top match on the card. These three know each other very well. Sasha Banks and Charlotte’s feud in NXT was one of the great Divas feuds in the history of the WWE. If I’m booking, I have Charlotte retain, but I think they’re gonna go with Sasha. Sasha, to me, is the most talented and definitely the most popular so why not give her a run?
Dean Ambrose vs. Brock Lesnar (Street Fight)
DS: Brock Lesnar is probably the greatest pure athlete the WWE has ever seen. Dean Ambrose is an incredible performer with a knack for taking punishment. A No Holds Barred Street Fight is one of the most brutal gimmick matches ever. All these ingredients should make you very excited for this match. But other than the entertainment aspect that’s guaranteed to deliver, what else should we expect? You don’t really think Ambrose is going to beat Lesnar, do you?
If you do, you might not be too far off. Anything and everything is possible in this gimmick match. The Lesnar is “The Beast Incarnate” and Ambrose is “The Lunatic Fringe” caricatures/faces, along with this type of anything-goes contest favors the certifiably insane. Ambrose received a baseball bat wrapped with barbwire and a chainsaw from hardcore legends Mick Foley and Terry Funk. Ambrose probably won’t be slicing Lesnar in half, but it’s obvious that we’re in for some crazy stuff. I, for one, am hoping for the return of the thumbtacks.
DM: The nature of the match gives Ambrose a chance. Because of that, because of the ability for him to avoid “suplex city,” because he can use any weapon available to him, he can chop The Beast down. But do you make Ambrose go over at the expense of the most legit performer on the roster? Nobody has the credibility that Brock Lesnar does, in any way, shape or form. Brock is the real deal. Are you gonna push Ambrose and sacrifice Lesnar at this year’s WrestleMania? No. Brock Lesnar has to win this match.
Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker (Hell In A Cell)
DS: I could ramble on and on about the horrible booking decisions that led to this match. Instead, I’ll just let Doug tell you how absurd the notion is of having The Undertaker lose to Shane McMahon at the company’s marquee event.
DM: A few things have happened that have made me just beside myself. Number one is, where the hell has Stephanie McMahon been? She has the biggest beef with her dad and her brother, she’s getting screwed out of the company and out of her position of running the show. How do you build this storyline without Stephanie? Total miss right there.
Then, when you think about the Undertaker, you think about the greatest legacy in the history of pro-wrestling. Is Shane McMahon fun as hell to watch? Absolutely. Is he gonna do some crazy stuff that’s gonna have us going, ‘Oh, damn!’ at WrestleMania? Absolutely. Should Shane McMahon beat The Undertaker at WrestleMania in Hell In A Cell? Hell no! Myself being a devout Undertaker fan, I would be mortified if that were to happen. The legacy of the Undertaker is too great to have that huge black mark on his record.
World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H (c) vs. Roman Reigns
DS: For the second WrestleMania in a row, the WWE looks to be riding with Roman Reigns and setting itself up for the world heavyweight champion to be booed out of AT&T Stadium. Last year we had the swerve of Seth Rollins cashing in his Money In The Bank title shot, and that went over very well. This year it seems like there is no other option than to have Reigns leave as champion, and that won’t go over so well.
If you still have an issue with Reigns at this point the problem isn’t him, it’s you. I won’t say he’s the best worker or should be the face of the company, but I believe he’s very talented and can do very well if he adjusts his character a bit. Right now, he’s like the second coming of John Cena as the company’s ultra-babyface. That needs to change going forward for him the be accepted by the WWE Universe.
DM: I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world if Roman Reigns wins, because what’s the alternative? You have the guy in the suit who’s technically the COO and should be backstage; Triple H as WWE Champion is a waste, it’s a mistake, it’s a miss. So I’d rather see Roman Reigns leave WrestleMania as the champion, and you’re gonna see him leave WrestleMania 32 as champion. But we’ve seen this already. What are we gonna see that’s a game-changer? There’s only one thing: if Reigns turns heel. Will it happen at WrestleMania, probably not. If you’re gonna see it, you’ll see it on Monday Night Raw the night after.