WWE WrestleMania 32 has come and gone, and the card, just like any other before it, had its high points and low points. More so than just about any previous WrestleMania in memory, however, many of the outcomes left fans scratching their head and wondering what the creative team was thinking. Here are the worst booking decisions from WrestleMania 32 in chronological order:
The Usos vs The Dudley Boyz
This match was given a very small amount of time, which was to be expected for a rivalry which has been ice cold in terms of fan reaction. The Usos have been the same stagnant team for about three years now, playing generic babyfaces with no character depth. The Dudleys’ crowd reception has waned every week since their return, and even their much-needed heel turn hasn’t resulted in much.
In a match with no real heat or consequences on the pre-show, it should have been an opportunity to give the fans what they wanted. And what they wanted was for the Dudleys to 3D someone through a table. While this was teased for the fans, it was not followed though. Instead, The Usos performed a double splash off the top rope on the Dudleys through the tables the Dudleys brought into the ring. As soon as the crowd realized there would be no 3Ds, they immediately started booing and did not even react positively to the table spot since it involved The Usos getting their “WrestleMania moment” at the expense of The Dudley Boyz.
Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match
This match, fantastically worked by everyone involved and better in just about every way compared to last year’s version, ended with Zack Ryder celebrating his first WrestleMania match and winning his first Intercontinental Championship. While this was a nice surprise for many people, it was a curious decision since the focus of the title match from the beginning had been Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn. Dolph Ziggler and The Miz were also in the mix, but the main driving point was Owens and Zayn thanks to their long history.
Seemingly at random, Ryder, Stardust, and Sin Cara were added to the match if for no other reason to mirror the seven man match that occurred a last year’s WrestleMania. Their addition seemed very hollow, and none of those three men were expected to walk away with the title. Specifically, the only two men who anyone cared about in the match were Owens and Zayn. Rightfully so, much of the match focused on the two, and the longtime rivals were allowed time to duke it out with each other.
Everyone was able to get their spots in, and the crowd would have been happy with either an Owens or Zayn victory. However, Ryder was the one to walk away with the championship, in a shocking surprise for surprise’s sake. Fans typically enjoy being swerved, if there is a good reason for it. A man who was thrown into the title match at random capturing the gold not only devalues the Intercontinental Championship, but also throws off the current storyline. The focus will now shift to Ryder, a man who just a month ago was floundering in an NXT tag team with Mojo Rawley and had not been relevant on the main roster in several years.
AJ Styles vs Chris Jericho
The rivalry between Styles and Jericho had been building up for weeks now, and the story line had one of the best buildups coming into WrestleMania. The match was very well worked, and the crowd reacted accordingly. The result, however, was unfortunate.
AJ Styles debuted at the Royal Rumble to a huge ovation, and he has not disappointed in the least bit since he’s been in the WWE. So why the need to give Jericho a WrestleMania win over one of the hottest new stars in the company? Jericho’s role over the last few years has been to put over newer or rising stars, as Jericho has long been entrenched as an all-time great and the loses don’t do much if anything to damage his reputation.
Styles, however, was at his first WrestleMania, and many fans are new to his work. While Styles is by no means a rookie, he is still a man in his first year in the WWE and will likely be around longer than Jericho going forward. What good will this victory do for Chris Jericho? He will likely be going on his usual sabbatical soon, while Styles will still be around and now in need of momentum after losing cleanly in his first WrestleMania match. Even though he will likely win the final match in the rivalry at next month’s Payback, the lasting image will be Styles taking the loss at the Showcase of the Immortals.
The New Day vs The League of Nations
For the last several months, The New Day has easily been one of the best acts in the WWE week in and week out. Whether as heels or faces, the crowd reacts to the trio unlike most other Superstars. The opposite is true for The League of Nations. As heels, the lack of crowd reaction they elicit, even boos, speaks loudly to how little the crowd cares about them.
When this match was set up, it looked to be a slam-dunk victory for The New Day, much in the way The Shield’s two WrestleMania matches were sure-fire victories before the bell even rung. Forgone conclusions are not always a bad thing in wrestling, and as stated before, a surprise for the sake of a surprise is not always a good thing. The League of Nations defeated The New Day clean, as if only to set up the post-match antics involving Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, and Steve Austin. The very same scenario could have happened while still giving The New Day the victory they deserved.
Perhaps even damaging than their loss, The New Day was easily discarded by Austin, Foley, and Michaels after the trio from the Attitude Era took out The League of Nations. Instead of elevating The New Day even after a loss, the legends pushed aside the company’s hottest act like they meant nothing.
Women’s Championship Triple Threat
The newly-minted WWE Women’s Championship was on the line when current Diva’s Champion took on former NXT rivals Becky Lynch and Sasha Banks. The action was terrific as was expected, but the outcome made the coronation of a new championship belt less powerful than it should have been. Given that Sasha Banks made her entrance alongside new WWE Hall of Famer Snoop Dogg, her tremendous connection with the crowd, and her ode to Eddie Guerrero, putting the Women’s Championship around her waist would have been by far the biggest moment.
Instead, that moment went to Charlotte, a heel who the crowd doesn’t react as strongly to as Banks. The likely championship ceremony on RAW and the impending debut of former NXT Women’s Champion Bayley will probably take even more focus off of Banks, the woman who should have ushered in the new era of women’s wrestling by walking away with the championship.
The Rock’s interaction with The Wyatt Family
The Rock was electrifying as always, but this segment came at the expense of The Wyatt Family, who never seem to win or look important when it actually matters. A more meaningful use of the Superstars involved would have been to allow Bray to get the upper hand on The Rock, even if only momentarily to have John Cena run down and make the save. Instead, The Wyatt Family was again made to look like cannon fodder to more-established Superstars who don’t need the added rub of beating someone who should be booked as the next Undertaker but has instead been booked as a dog with all bark and no bite.
Triple H vs Roman Reigns for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
While the outcome was to be expected, something, anything, needed to happen besides a clean Roman Reigns victory over Triple H. The arena was largely against Reigns, despite all the work WWE has done to try and get the crowd behind him. Triple H walked into the match as the de facto babyface even though he and Stephanie McMahon have done so much to degrade the very fans that chanted his name as he made a bloody mess of Reigns’ face last month.
A full heel turn probably was too much to ask for, and Reigns’ spear to McMahon drew the largest pop he has received in quite some time, but the expected clean pin of Triple H was a major letdown for many fans. Photos from the event even showed people within the crowd leaving before the match even ended, as they already knew what was going to happen, and were not happy about it.
While WrestleMania 32 was overall successful from a technical standpoint, tweaks in the booking could have gone a long way in making far more enjoyable for the fans.