For this version, we have Ben Guest, Steph Maxwell-Kavanagh and Cayden Parkhurst discussing the build-up to WrestleMania 32 in Dallas this coming April 3rd.
To many fans, the build to WrestleMania 32 and the card itself has been lackluster to say the least. With injuries and what most consider to be bad or at least confusing booking, that is not far off. So that leads to our question today..
Is WrestleMania being plagued by injuries, bad booking, or both?
Overall, I wouldn't say this isn't a bad card. Most of the matches have a reason for happening, the street fight and Hell in a Cell matches are exciting and could main event any show. Even Triple H V Roman Reigns has had a good build, even if no one seems to care about the result. Chris Jericho V AJ Styles will be a great match—it's just a shame we've already seen it three times and the divas title match could be the best women's match in WrestleMania history. The Tag Title match is interesting and something different. Even the Battle Royal and divas tag match are reasonable as long as both end up on the pre-show.
The only things I would really change with the card we have would be to make the US Title match a multi-man ladder match and have Kevin Owens V Sami Zayn for the Intercontinental Championship. The Dudley Boyz V The Usos is the only match that is really pointless though. But when you consider that we could have had matches like John Cena V Roman Reigns, Seth Rollins V Triple H and who knows where Randy Orton, Cesaro and many others could have fit in.
As for bad booking, I think all of the matches vaguely make sense, other than why is The Undertaker defending Vince? And why are the other 5 men in the ladder match? This card has been booked quite well, in that all of the matches have some reason to happen, even if they should have happened at a smaller event or on the pre-show. This WrestleMania probably won't top last years, but I think that when you look at the card we have, the talent missing through injury and the talent that could come up from NXT in the next year, WrestleMania 33 could be the best ever.
I've been posed a difficult question here, because while the answer is 'both', it's a little more complicated than that. Let's start with the easier one to pinpoint:
The women. There are, according to Wikipedia, 16 women on the diva's roster. That 16 includes Rosa Mendes and Cameron—the first out on maternity leave and the second is never seen—along with Stephanie McMahon. With Nikki Bella out injured, the women are missing a strong player, but it's not injuries that are letting down the divas' side.
The main event for the women is booked well enough – Charlotte vs. old NXT buddies Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. But any secondary matches have no storyline too them, instead being over-dramatized slap-fests. Time that could be spent setting up for legitimate WrestleMania moments is taken up with Total Divas segments, or Snickers adverts, and so what we're starting to think will happen is a Lana vs. Brie Bella match. Team Lana is Naomi, Tamina, Summer Rae and Emma, whereas team Brie is low on numbers with just Alicia Fox, Paige and Natalya. They may have to bring Cameron in to even up the numbers – or possibly someone will debut from NXT. I truly hope it isn't Bayley. She deserves better than a walk on part in a ten-woman tag team match.
A ten-woman match isn't what the women deserve, it isn't good storytelling, and it isn't going to be entertaining to watch. I understand wanting to put as much of your roster through to WrestleMania as possible, but with only one belt to contend for, and no special matches, to push all of them into one match is ludicrous. Far better would be to get some of the leer-used divas together and put them in a match on the pre-show – hell, use Lana or Paige in the pre-show, as they're both not active, but well-received – and then have a second women's match introducing new talent, or bringing Emma back up properly, before the main event where three of the Four Horsewomen will be competing as the biggest draw. So as much as Nikki being injured is a blow to the women's roster, it's only 6% of them missing. What's a much harder pill to swallow is the terrible booking being allowed to ruin any credibility the divas might have, and setting up boring toilet break matches because that's how they've always been seen. Someone could still pull a good two matches out for WrestleMania, but looking at the history? I doubt it.
So, to the men. Again, a quick glance at Wikipedia tells us that there are 62 men on the active roster right now. First, let's get rid of people we never see – Hornswoggle, Fernando, Diego, El Torito, Darren Young, Damien Sandow - and people who wouldn't be considered as main eventers, e.g. those in the tag team division and some lower mid-carders. I've removed people I like – Social Outcasts, Tyler Breeze – as well as people I don't think are lending anything to the shows – Big Show, Zack Ryder – to make it a fair standing. Anyone who hasn't been getting main events at televised shows in the past couple of months, unless they're out injured, has been removed.
That takes us down to 33 men. So out of 62 men, I have 33 who are considered main event prospects, title holders or challengers, or important to the storyline of WrestleMania. Now to count out the injured – Seth Rollins, Sting, Cesaro, Neville, John Cena, Bray Wyatt, Luke Harper, Randy Orton, and I'm including Titus O'Neill here, because it's a similar time frame that he'll be out, and it's damaged possible WrestleMania prospects. That means NINE out of 33 top card superstars are out injured. That's 27%. That's why it feels so huge that these guys are out. Every singles title holder at WrestleMania 31 is out injured, and the men who could have challenged them have fallen too.
Bad booking can explain Roman Reigns being booed, to some extent, but how much of this bad booking is because they had a plan in place involving Seth Rollins to get Roman to the title more organically? Do we feel like we're being forced to like him again simply because they've run out of people we dislike more? Without a doubt, the injuries have led to improper storytelling and therefore bad matches that we don't care about. Having other antagonists besides Triple H and Sheamus to contend with would have given Roman a stronger footing, perhaps, than making it seem like he's being handed the title.
That being said, I do think WWE have had ample opportunity to turn this main event into something we want to watch. They've also had ample time and men to book the Intercontinental Title match as something other than a [expletive] ladder match yet again, which makes the belt feel cheap and unwanted. Roadblock could have given us Dean Ambrose vs. a heel Roman Reigns for the World Heavyweight Title, and the Intercontinental Title could have been a simple fatal four-way between Kevin Owens, Sami Zayn, Dolph Ziggler and The Miz. The United States Championship looks like it's going to be a weird one, with Kalisto taking on Ryback, in a match that no one really wants to see. It all feels a little bit like creative said "Well, the heavyweight title match is a bust, how about we ruin the other two singles titles as well?" and went ahead and did just that.
All in all, the title matches for WrestleMania have been hurt by injured superstars, sure – but it's the bad booking that's killing them.
This question is a little more in depth than it seems. Yes, the booking has been rather confusing. Why is The Undertaker just siding with Vince for seemingly no reason? Especially when Vince even called The Undertaker his "bitch", so this is another confusing storyline. The hell in a cell match itself has such large implications, and seeing Undertaker and Shane McMahon on the grandest stage of them all with a chance for Shane to take control of Raw helps you overlook the gaps in the story.
From a book standpoint, there are only a few more things I disagree with. Why did they have Y2J and AJ Styles wrestle three different times already if they were going to make it a marquee matchup at WrestleMania? Four fights in that short amount of time can really make a match stale. Luckily, I think AJ and Y2J can make this match a 5 star match because they truly are two of the best that this business has ever seen.
The last thing I'd call a mistake is the Intercontinental Championship ladder match. Why? I mean they had an IC Title ladder match at last year's WrestleMania, and they had a perfect opportunity to see Kevin Owens defend against Sami Zayn one on one which could headline any PPV. I would have even been okay with a fatal four way adding Dolph and Miz, but why in the name of everything Holy do you add three random guys? That makes no sense. If you wanted a ladder match you should have made it the United State Championship. KO vs. Sami is a 10x better match than Kalisto vs. Ryback.
Booking wise, that's all I can complain about. I'm excited for the street fight and certainly the hell in a cell match because it's Shane McMahon and The Undertaker. The Divas match has a chance to be an all-time great match if they are given ample time. Unfortunately, I could care less about the main event. It is pretty clear that Roman is walking out with the belt for his third championship in a matter of nearly six months. However, WrestleMania is still plagued by one thing and that's injuries.
Look at the names that are kept on the sidelines for what could be the biggest WrestleMania ever. John Cena, Randy Orton, Cesaro, Bray has a reported injury, Seth Rollins, and possibly Neville. John, Randy, Seth, and Cesaro are huge crowd favorites. Those guys in any match would draw money. Especially John which, like it or not, is the face of the company. If Seth wouldn't have gotten hurt we could have been watching a Shield triple threat match as the main event instead of Roman and Hunter. What about a potential Randy vs. Cesaro match? The possibilities of these guys, and anyone on the roster, are near endless opportunities we won't see which is tough considering they are trying to sell out to over 100,000 people.
Overall, injuries will be the story of WrestleMania 32. This could go down as the WrestleMania of "what if's".
What are your thoughts on WrestleMania? Let us know below!