March 28, 2016
From the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY
Your hosts are Byron Saxton, JBL, and Michael Cole.
The show starts with the Undertaker coming out to the ring. He got a great reaction. Four minutes later, he speaks and tells us this WrestleMania will not be his last and that the blood of Shane will be on Vince’s hands. He also says that Vince’s blood will be on his own hands before putting over how Shane will keep fighting until he dies. However, WrestleMania is his yard and Hell in a Cell is his house and Shane will rest in peace. After that, Shane McMahon comes out and dances on the stage. He tells the Undertaker that they will rip each other apart and will control their own personal destiny. Shane said the difference is that he is fighting to win while the Undertaker is fighting not to lose. Shane stresses how the WWE needs change and promises to crawl what is left of himself into the ring the following night as he will be in control of “Monday Night RAW.” Undertaker told Shane to watch his mouth and how he does not get to talk about his legacy. Shane heads to the ring, to talk about legacy, and this draws a “holy shit” chant from the crowd. Shane tells the Undertaker his legacy died two years ago at WrestleMania (At WM XXX when he was defeated by Brock Lesnar) as the crowd starts a mild “suplex city” chant. Undertaker tells Shane he is just like his dad as he has been his daddy’s bitch since the day he was born. Shane then attacks the Undertaker and fires away in the corner. Undertaker then tosses Shane over the top rope and follows him outside and roughs him up. Undertaker clears off the table as we get a “this is awesome” chant. Shane manages to escape from the Last Ride, then hammers away. He reaches underneath the ring and grabs a monitor, which Cole refers to as the “equalizer” as he laid out the Undertaker. Shane then climbs up top as the Undertaker is across the table and flies off with an elbow drop, which destroys the table. The crowd chants “you still got it” as Shane staggers to his feet. We are also shown the Undertaker sitting up as he was bleeding from the eye.
I thought this was a good segment. Despite the fact the storylines leading into this match have been convoluted, we actually got to see a reason to want to see these two fight at WrestleMania. Sure, Shane’s strikes look pathetic but here he did a big spot, crashing through a table, showing he will do whatever it takes to win and get control of RAW. They should be able to use a lot of smoke-and-mirrors to make it an enjoyable match. I thought the Undertaker did a fine job as well.
Zack Ryder vs. Chris Jericho
We are shown what took place on the RAW Pre-Show, with Jericho putting down Ryder for not having what it takes to be a champion while saying he will not give AJ his match at WrestleMania. AJ Styles then interrupts and asks Jericho why he is not giving him a match at WrestleMania. The crowd is chanting for AJ, who tells Jericho he is not leaving until getting the match he wants at WrestleMania as he sits ringside. The bell rings as Ryder almost rolls up Jericho for the win. Jericho dumps Ryder then slaps him around while yelling at AJ. Back inside, Ryder comes back with a kick but Jericho cuts off the rest of his comeback. Jericho eats a double knee on a charge then Ryder hits a missile dropkick. Ryder tries the Broski Boot but Jericho blocks that and puts on the Walls of Jericho. AJ distracts Jericho with his “Y2 Jackass” chant as Jericho breaks the hold then stares down AJ as Ryder rolls him up for the win (1:55) 1/2*. After the match, Jericho hits Ryder with a Codebreaker then throws a tantrum outside of the ring. He then calls AJ “stupid” for embarrassing him in front of all of these morons. Jericho tells him he just kicked a hornets nest and that he will have his match at WrestleMania. Jericho tells AJ this will be his 12th WrestleMania as he calls AJ a “rookie” then guarantees this will be the last WrestleMania for AJ.
Thoughts: The match was just a backdrop for the Jericho/AJ feud. All of the distraction losses for these two have been a bit much. However, Jericho has been doing some great heel work here as he is letting AJ’s crowd reactions almost drive him to the point of insanity. AJ is getting over in his matches too and that dynamic of their feud is working well. There match at WrestleMania should be a good one.
Becky Lynch vs. Charlotte
Sasha is sitting ringside. They start off shoving each other until Becky hits an armdrag. Charlotte takes control as we head to break. The action returns with Charlotte working a headlock. Becky fights out and hits a clothesline. She his a leg lariat then gets two with an exploder. She kicks Charlotte off of the apron as Sasha approaches. Becky chases Charlotte around the ring but Flair grabs Becky by the leg as she re-entered, allowing Charlotte to attack then hit the Natural Selection for the win (6:35) *1/2.
Thoughts: The match was alright for what it was but here they showcased how Flair is his daughter’s equalizer in the triple-threat match. That match has potential to steal the show at WrestleMania.
Backstage, Renee Young is with Vince McMahon, who is gloating over what he saw from the Undertaker tonight and believes that Shane will end up getting destroyed as a result. Shane then walks in to tells his dad that he is not some kind of all-powerful god. He also said that he will do whatever it takes to win at WrestleMania and gain control of RAW. Also, he tells Vince while he stole the company from his dad, he is going to take it from his.
Good segment that further highlighted how much Shane is willing to sacrifice in order to control RAW.
WrestleMania moment from XXIV when Shawn Michaels defeated Ric Flair in his final match.
The camera shows the trophy for the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal. The Social Outcasts are sitting on the ring apron when the Big Show and Kane come out for their match.
Bo Dallas & Curtis Axel vs. Big Show & Kane
Match starts with Kane beating on Axel. Kane misses a charge as Axel starts to laugh then as Kane backs him down, the rest of the Outcasts hit the ring and attack Kane for the DQ (0:31) NR. After that, the rest of the competitors run out and brawl until Big Show and Kane hit Mark Henry with a double chokeslam. They then chokeslam the Social Outcasts as Show’s music hits while he and Kane stare each other down.
Thoughts: Your token, uninspired segment to hype up the battle royal.
We are shown a replay of Roman Reigns dragging HHH out of the car and beating him down last week on RAW as Cole then tells us HHH is on his way to the ring.
After RAW on the WWE Network, you can watch the Thank You special for Daniel Bryan.
HHH and Stephanie McMahon come out to the ring. Stephanie first tells the crowd to get on their feet then on their knees in the presence of the WWE World Champion. HHH tells us that this coming Sunday, at WrestleMania, millions of people around the world will watch for one reason and one reason only, which is for the WWE World Championship. HHH said its the most important thing in the industry then talks about while not wanting to take anything away from everyone else on the show, the WWE Championship is the dream for everyone. He talks about the dream of standing in the ring at WrestleMania, holding the title above your head, will never happen for anyone of us. He then talks about how good Reigns is, as the crowd boos, and that he was the WWE World Champion for five minutes and fifteen seconds. He then talks about this being is 20th WrestleMania and the 9th time in a World Title match, which is the most out of anyone else on the planet. HHH then said that the reason for that he due to his obsession with the belt. That same obsession, HHH tells us, is the reason why he is a 14-time Champion. HHH talks about thinking how this obsession had went away until four months ago, Reigns re-lit the fire of his obsession after powerbombing him through a table. HHH then said is obsession means the end of his dream and ensures no matter what, he will walk out of WrestleMania as the champion. Stephanie tells us this Sunday is not about anything else that makes up the spectacle of WrestleMania but rather her husband. Roman Reigns his the ring to a chorus of boos. They go back-and forth for a bit until HHH bails. Stephanie is alone with Reigns and she scurries out as the segment ends.
They went all out in trying to make HHH the mega-heel and for Reigns to get cheered but its all moot at this point. The fans are not going to cheer for Reigns at WrestleMania. The company can blame themselves for that predicament. HHH did a fine job with the actual promo, even if he twice mentioned how nothing else mattered at the show other than the World Title match, which comes across as unnecessary. Live reports on Twitter also said that the crowd chanted Reigns sucked at the end of the segment.
The New Day come out to the ring. We are shown the attack they suffered two weeks ago on RAW at the hands of the League of Nations. After that, the New Day tells us how Booty O’s are the official cereal of WrestleMania. Kofi tells us that the League of Nations will never have their own cereal and they make fun of them for that for a minute until the League of Nations come out for the scheduled match.
A fun, short segment that did not wear out its welcome. This was good and the crowd loved the New Day.
Kofi Kingston w/ New Day vs. Alberto Del Rio w/ League of Nations
Kofi dodges a kick as Del Rio dumps outside. Xavier plays “La Cucaracha” on the trombone for the distraction as Kofi takes him out. That was hilarious and the crowd went nuts. Back inside, Del Rio cuts off Kofi on the top rope then takes him off with a suplex right before the break. We return with Del Rio working a chinlock. He then places Kofi in the tree-of-woe but misses the double stomp. Kofi comes back with a forearm smash from the top. He follows with a dropkick as Xavier yells “it must be the shoes.” Del Rio hits a backstabber but runs into a double stomp as both men are down. Del Rio avoids a corner splash then blocks a kick and takes Kofi down with a double stomp. He then sets up for the cross armbreaker but Kofi counters that with a rollup and gets the win (7:35) **. After the match, Jonathan Coachman comes out and tells the New Day they are his favorite. He then talks about ESPN SportsCenter coming live to WrestleMania this Sunday. He then pulls out a box of Booty O’s and dances with the New Day.
Thoughts: An okay match. The New Day have won almost every match against the League of Nations leading up to WrestleMania, which makes you wonder if the LoN will win on Sunday. The Coachman cameo was fine and really just designed to promote SportsCenter’s involvement at WrestleMania. Xavier was great here, spouting off all sorts of stuff standing ringside.
Cole lets us know that Brock Lesnar is here as the camera shows us his locker room door.
After the break, we are shown the clip on the “Today Show” where John Cena tells us that Joan Lunden will be this year’s recipient of the “Warrior Award.”
We get a replay of the opening segment between the Undertaker and Shane McMahon.
Backstage, Renee Young is with Roman Reigns, who once again is booed loudly by the crowd. Bubba Ray Dudley is yelling at Reigns from the side. He gets Reigns attention then D-Von comes over but Reigns takes them out. However, HHH attacks Reigns from behind then hunches over Reigns, holding the belt in his face, and tells him he will never get it before smashing Reigns’s face off of the belt. This was okay I guess but nothing memorable or anything. Also, live reports stated that HHH received a standing ovation from the live crowd after this segment.
After Smackdown this Thursday, Mick Foley will be the on the Stone Cold Steve Austin podcast, which will be shown on the WWE Network.
We get a replay of the backstage attack on Reigns.
Konnor w/ Viktor vs. Kalisto
These two had a decent match on the past episode of “Superstars.” Konnor grounds Kalisto and works a side headlock. Kalisto dodges a charge in the corner then comes back with a springboard seated senton. He hits a corkscrew splash but Konnor blocks a hurricarana attempt. Kalisto then boots Viktor as he tried to interfere before putting Konnor away with the Salida Del Sol (1:50) 1/2*. After the match, Ryback comes out and stares down Kalisto before yelling “feed me more.” Ryback then walks off as Kalisto tries to start his lucha chant.
Thoughts: They gave Kalisto a win over a bigger opponent here to show he can hang with someone the size of Ryback. However, the Ryback/Kalisto match is ice-cold heading into WrestleMania with Ryback in some weird babyface-loner role and Kalisto has not been featured much as the U.S. Champion.
Backstage, Paul Heyman lets his “beast” know that the public awaits right before the commercial break.
Brock Lesnar and Paul Heyman head out to the ring. We are also shown a replay of Lesnar destroying Ambrose on Smackdown. The crowd chants “Suplex City” for a minute until Heyman speaks. He tells us we get the chance to see a “once ever” fighter and athlete who can perform at a level that no one in the locker room can achieve in his client, Brock Lesnar. He then talks about there always being that one lunatic who believes he has what it takes to take the fight to Lesnar and be the one who can conquer him and that is Dean Ambrose. Heyman gives Ambrose credit for being smarter than we think despite the fact he is crazy. However, Lesnar is prepared to give Ambrose the WrestleMania moment of a lifetime when “Dr. Brock Lesnar” takes all of those weapons and performs an impromptu colonoscopy in the middle of the ring. Heyman talks for another minute until Dean Ambrose interrupts, wheeling down a wagon to the ring. He reaches underneath the ring and fills up the wagon with all sorts of weapons, such as the barbed-wire covered baseball bat and the chainsaw before leaving as the segment ends.
Heyman’s promo was more or less the same one he has been cutting for the past few weeks. The main goal here was to show how far Ambrose is willing to go in their match at WrestleMania as he plans to bring in an arsenal of weapons. Its a bit similar to Shane/Undertaker match in that regard. They’ve done enough hype for this match, which has been built up well, and is something I am looking forward to seeing on Sunday. Also, there was really no reason for Lesnar to appear tonight as all he did was stand in the ring behind Heyman.
A replay of the Reigns/HHH in-ring confrontation in the ring.
Backstage, Alicia Fox, Brie Bella, Natalya, and Paige are laughing and talking backstage as Paige vs. Emma is coming up next.
Paige w/ The Total Divas vs. Emma w/ B.A.D. & Blond
Cole notes how the Total Divas need to find another partner. Emma yanks Paige down and uses a lot of hair-pulling and kicks. The Total Divas attempt to rally the crowd behind Paige as Emma hits her with a diving forearm in the corner. Paige fights back and takes Emma down with a thrust kick. She hits a running knee strike for two. Paige then hits a fallaway slam but Tamina provides a disraction on the apron as the ref is tied up with that. Back in the ring, Emma hits a jawbreaker then Lana comes in for a kick as Emma covers for the win (2:55) 3/4*. After the match, a brawl breaks out then Eva Marie comes out to boos. She yanks Lana down by the hair then starts to celebrate with her other Divas, who do not seem to pleased to see her.
Thoughts: We got the answer to who will be the 5th Total Diva and that is Eva Marie. She was not really portrayed as a face but rather as someone who seems insincere with the other divas and more about themselves. That’s a fine character for her on the main roster. Just an observation: as the other divas where at ringside watching this match, Summer Rae was the only one who seemed to be reacting to the actual match and seemed invested. She is very underutilized by the company. The post-match brawl looked terrible.
Backstage, R-Truth tells Goldust that in the Andre the Giant Memorial Battle Royal, its every man for himself and as a result, will not have his back in the match. Goldust was fine with that, saying they are not even partners, as Truth said that is what makes it difficult before crying. He then took off after wiping his nose on Goldust’s shirt.
Its been about two months and we have got next to nothing in terms of storyline advancement. They need to come up with a conclusion soon as this all seems like a waste of time and at this point, the conclusion is not likely to get a good reaction.
We learn that Snoop Dogg will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame as part of the Celebrity Wing.
Stardust & The Miz & Kevin Owens vs. Sin Cara & Sami Zayn & Dolph Ziggler
Zayn gets some “ole” chant as he starts off with the Miz. They fight over the arm until Zayn catches Miz with a leg lariat. Owens asks to tag in and does but immediately tags Stardust then rolls outside as the crowd boos. Zayn works his arm before tagging out to Ziggler, who works a front facelock as the match is starting off at a really slow pace. Stardust stomps Ziggler in the corner but Ziggler fights back as Stardust ducks outside. Ziggler then takes Miz off of the apron with a super kick as the heels regroup outside right before the break. The match returns with Ziggler still in control. Sin Cara tags and hits an armdrag after a fast-paced Irish whip sequence. He catches Stardust coming off of the top with a dropkick for a nearfall but Stardust knocks him down. He looks for a tag but Owens leads him over to Miz, who is pissed after tagging in after he got hit with a super kick. Zayn is back in and the crowd chants ole as he stares down Owens but the Miz attacks him from behind. Stardust is back in and the crowd chants “Cody” at him. Zayn comes back with a suplex and tags out to Ziggler, who runs wild. He even gyrates before dropping an elbow for a nearfall as he is fully committing to is HBK-knockoff gimmick. Miz cheapshots Ziggler from the apron then tags in as he beats on Ziggler while the crowd is starting all sorts of chants to amuse themselves. Stardust hits a Side Effect for two then we head to another break. We come back and see Miz and Stardust work over Ziggler as Owens continues to avoid tagging into the match. The crowd even starts up a “This is Booty” chant as this match is dragging. Ziggler fights back and hits the Miz with a Famesasser as both men are down. Ziggler makes the tag to Zayn but the crowd barely cares about this match at this point. He runs wild then flies outside to take out Owens with a tope con hilo. In the ring, Stardust gets his knees up when Sin Cara tried a swanton. Now, they all trade finishers until Owens is the only one left standing. Owens tags himself in when Zayn is the last man down. He yells at Zayn then attempts the Pop-Up Powerbomb but Zayn counters that with a dropkick. Owens looks to tag out but his partners leave. He tries for a clothesline but Zayn ducks then hits a tornado DDT and follows that with a Helluva Kick for the win (21:21) *1/2.
Thoughts: The last few minutes picked up but my god was this match brutal. It had no heat at all besides a few “ole” chants for Zayn and the crowd even chanted that the match was “booty.” The match also had no flow and was far too slow and had no business lasting as long as it did. Since being called up to the main roster, Zayn has yet to appear comfortable and comes across awkward. I did like Owens’ heel act here. It was better than anything that took place in the match.
We are shown the Authority smiling and walking backstage as Saxton tells us they will finish up by telling us their message.
The WrestleMania 32 Kickoff show begins at 6pm EST on USA.
The Authority heads back out to the ring. Stephanie tells us all we can only hope to accomplish what they have, much like Roman Reigns. She then tells us that they are not going anywhere, much like the WWE World Championship. HHH then talks about how this is not a game and that millions of dollars are at stake until Reigns comes out. He meets him in the aisle as they start brawling. They spill over to the Timekeeper’s area as the crowd starts chanting but quickly muted. Stephanie motions her hand to wave people in as the League of Nations and Dudley Boys come out. However, the Usos, New Day, and Ziggler among several others also run out as they attempt to hold back the two. HHH walks up the ramp then run back down but is stopped. Reigns then runs and flies out with a plancha as he took out HHH along with several others. HHH retreats back up the ramp and holds the title as the show ends.
The plancha spot was awesome and the crowd liked that but they were dead for the rest of the segment. Reigns as a face did not work with this crowd and I cannot imagine that it will work with the crowd at WrestleMania. With all of the focus tonight, it seems like this match might be going on last.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I thought the first hour was good. However, the third hour once again stunk, making it a middle-of-the-road show. They gave attention to every WrestleMania match besides the Usos vs. Dudleys and a good effort at promoting the show. However, the problem heading into tonight was that they had done a poor job at hyping up the show. Overall, the show did not gain a whole lot of buzz after tonight but they sold Shane vs. Taker well at least.
Despite the product being ice cold in terms of compelling characters and feuds, they always put a lot of stock in making sure WrestleMania delivers and they have the talent to have good matches on the card. I think the show will be fine and the World Title match will be something else in terms of crowd reaction. I am still looking forward to WrestleMania.