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Booking The Finish: WrestleMania 32’s Puzzle of Perplexing Finishes

WrestleMania 32 will go down as one of the more controversial WrestleMania’s of all time due to the highly debated finishes that transpired throughout the night. For decades, WrestleMania has been memorable due to the emotional investment that the fans put into the storylines that culminate favorably at the biggest show of the year.

Think of the betrayal. Andre The Giant turned on Hulk Hogan and challenged The Hulkster for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania 3. How about that time Daniel Bryan became WWE World Heavyweight Champion by defeating Triple HBatistaRandy Orton in the same night?

Or even the complete shock of Seth Rollins cashing in his Money in the Bank Briefcase to become the champion at WrestleMania 31! The examples are literally endless.

At WrestleMania 32, we witnessed some perplexing finishes to major matches. It felt like WWE was strictly catering to the casual viewer and pushing the diehards to the side. Maybe that was their intention?

It wasn’t all doom & gloom. There were some fantastic moments & matches on the card. But while most WrestleMania’s are memorable for the incredible storyline culminations & match results that keep the viewer emotionally invested, WrestleMania 32 will go down as a show full of “what if’s?” for me.

In the following article, I am going to attempt to point out some glaring issues with the WrestleMania 32 match finishes. I’ll also point out the positives…and even play “Devil’s Advocate” & give you an idea of why I think WWE took the direction that they took; especially after knowing what we now know after #RawAfterMania.

Hell in a Cell
Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker

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To start, I want to make a brief statement on Shane McMahon vs. The Undertaker. This was the only match that really needed the extra curricular activities involved to help maintain the excitement.

The entire match worked to Shane McMahon’s incredible top of the cell dive, but it was an extremely painful journey to get to that point.

Why Vince McMahon wasn’t at ringside or ran in baffles my mind. We didn’t even see Vince once and he was a major part of this storyline.

Also, they could have used any wrestler in a situation to attack either Shane or The Undertaker and that wrestler would have received a serious rub for being involved in this match.

Anyway, WWE did book themselves into a bit of a corner with this & the Shane McMahon storyline seems to be over…or so we think. Rumors are sprouting about a possible brand split; even if just a temporary idea. My idea didn’t come to fruition, but I didn’t know that Sting would retire. There are more questions than answers left after this match.

Is The Undertaker finished? Will we be seeing more of Shane McMahon?

The Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match

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Quite frankly, I had no issues with Zack Ryder winning this match in the moment. It was a pleasant surprise. A multi-man ladder match is the perfect scenario for someone unexpected to win out of nowhere. I’m not sure if that’s what they were shooting for, or if they just wanted to give a “WrestleMania Moment” to one of their most loyal wrestlers on the roster.

That’s the thing about Zack Ryder. No matter what he does within the confines of WWE, he puts 100% into it. He literally paved the way for a majority of the social media tactics that WWE uses to this day.

My problem with Zack Ryder winning was his lack of involvement in the storyline. He had zero momentum & was a last second fill-in for the injured Neville.

Also, he lost the title the next night on Raw to The Miz. He will be right back in NXT teaming with Mojo Rawley as one half of The Hype Bro’s.

The only storyline that WWE had going into this match was the Kevin Owens Sami Zayn. Both men were competing in their first WrestleMania and every time they were involved in a major spot during the match, the 100,000 strong would go crazy. They were easily your two most OVER competitors in this match, while both competing in their very first WrestleMania.

One of those two should have won this match. Period. How many wrestlers win their first WrestleMania match while perched atop a ladder in front of 100,000 people as the Intercontinental Champion? This could have been a lasting image for wrestling fans that WWE is serious about their future.

The Intercontinental Championship needs to continue to be as prestigious as possible & a long, prosperous feud between Owens & Zayn for that title would be refreshing. Some would say that their feud doesn’t “need” the title. While that is true, fighting over a championship ALWAYS helps.

Instead, we have The Miz as Intercontinental Champion. Again. I feel like they want to swiftly move the Intercontinental Championship to Apollo Crews and The Miz will be the one to transition it.

New Day vs. The League of Nations

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This finish to this match & the shenanigans that transpired afterwards was a complete slap in the face to one of your most OVER acts in the entire company. While New Day has become popular because of their hi-jinx & hilarious ways, they shouldn’t be treated like a complete joke on the biggest stage in the entire industry.

First of all, there was absolutely no reason for them to lose to The League of Nations. If WWE’s reasoning was so HBKMick FoleyStone Cold Steve Austin could come out and beat their asses….

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Shame! Shame on WWE for making New Day look like a bunch of fools. Instead of showcasing them on The Grandest Stage, they’re embarrassed in defeat by The League of Nations, which has been a monumental flop, and then are buried by a trio of 50 year old WWE legends!

There is no doubt in my mind that New Day should have been victorious and had a huge celebration. Remember how viral their SummerSlam celebration went? Yeah, missed opportunity. Instead, New Day defeats The League of Nations the next night on Raw…and then The League gets destroyed by The Wyatt Family. So much for the momentum coming out of WrestleMania.

Really bad booking.

And on top of that, Steve Austin should have been utilized better. He should have been in that ‘way too long’ segment with The Rock & John Cena, hitting Bray Wyatt with a Stunner.

AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho

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I’m less perplexed about this one than the previous just based on that fact that Chris Jericho hadn’t won a match at WrestleMania since he defeated Edge at WrestleMania 26.

But when you’re poising AJ Styles for a run at the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, it is important for him to pick up some significant wins.

This is a consistent problem with WWE booking.

They refuse to allow any wrestler right now (aside from Roman Reigns) to pick up a series of victories to gain momentum. It’s the dreaded 50/50 booking that WWE has been accustomed to over the past couple of years. It makes no sense and holds everyone down.

This match was pretty solid & showcased both men, but I’m confident that it would have made MORE sense for AJ Styles to pick up the victory here considering where we are headed with him. You only have your first WrestleMania match once…and he lost his.

The Women’s Championship
Charlotte vs. Becky Lynch vs. Sasha Banks

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In the most puzzling finish of the night for me, Charlotte became the recipient of the new incarnation of the WWE Women’s Championship. This was a huge night for the females in WWE & they arguably stole the show. Fantastic match; horrendous finish.

However, the build-up for this match revolved around one young woman living her lifelong dream at WrestleMania: Sasha Banks. Not only is she the best wrestler out of the three women involved, but she is the most OVER. Are you seeing a pattern here? The superstar who is OVER should be rewarded with a WrestleMania victory. They go out there, they execute and get over.

Sasha Banks has not been defeated in singles action since moving up to the main roster, she was the common denominator in all of the classic NXT Women’s Matches from 2015 & her WrestleMania week was even chronicled in a daily video diary on WWE.com. It’s crazy to me when you build up an emotional moment for the fans to get invested in & you do NOT capitalize on it.

This was your story for the match. This was an opportunity for WWE to create a moment that fans would remember in a positive light.

But instead, we are back to the 50/50 booking.

Remember when Sasha Banks won the NXT Women’s Championship? She did it in a Fatal Four-Way match where she pinned Charlotte. Even though Sasha didn’t take the fall here, this was an obvious attempt for Charlotte to get her win back in a title match with Sasha.

WWE really dropped the ball and could have had a fresh, new champion with a brand new title that fans could be invested in.

Instead, the following night on Raw, Charlotte is showcased in front of a hostile crowd who is chanting repeatedly for NXT Superstar Bayley. It made the entire situation awkward & forgettable. A moment that should live in history as epic, quickly turned into something that will be remembered for the bored look on Paige’s face…

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And Paige has a point here. I think we were all bored. Instead of Sasha Banks being furious over Ric Flair’s involvement in the title match at WrestleMania, she didn’t even have an opportunity to bring it up. Instead, we are getting another brief title shot push for Nattie.

While fans on Twitter will suggest that Sasha’s time will come in the future, possibly SummerSlam, it will be nothing compared to the moment that Charlotte was able to enjoy in front of 100,000 people at the biggest possible stage.

It is a complete miscarriage of justice that Sasha Banks has to wait her turn while being the most over, best wrestler & most popular current WWE Women’s Superstar. She had the following to say on Twitter after not working the Smackdown tapings this week. We’ll see what path Sasha takes.

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WWE World Heavyweight Championship
Triple H vs. Roman Reigns

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As I spoke about in the past, this match needed some bells & whistles to mask the obvious issue of Roman Reigns not being over with diehard fans. This was the plan that WWE decided to run with the minute that Seth Rollins tore up his knee. Reigns getting the title from Triple H and achieving his WrestleMania moment.

While I agree with Roman Reigns defeating Triple H for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, I don’t think an “over the top” babyface victory was the way to go. WWE should have used this moment, in front of their largest combined WrestleMania audience ever, to take a chance. They should have moved forward with a double-turn for Roman & Trips. This would have freshened up everyone involved, including Stephanie McMahon. Reigns is now the heel; Triple H & Stephanie are now babyfaces. It would be different and spark excitement.

There were many ways they could have gone about doing this and it would have been epic & memorable. Instead, we witnessed a classic babyface triumph at the end of WrestleMania without the backing of the WWE Universe. When WWE has to turn the audio down on the live attendance to cover the boos, there is an obvious problem.

Again, I agree with the result; HATED the finish. Zero excitement. No sense of urgency. WWE took the easy way out and didn’t take any chances.

I applaud Triple H. That guy did everything he could possibly do to get people to hate him and to gain babyface sympathy for Roman Reigns. It didn’t work, but major props to The Game. He still has it & is still scary good in the ring.

Roman Reigns is a victim of poor booking. The guy was pushed to the moon way too fast & he has never fully recovered from it. He’s being shoved down the fans collective throats as a babyface that we just don’t want. The only remedy is a heel turn & the seeds seem to be planted now that he goes into his first title defense against AJ Styles at Payback.

THANKS FOR READING.
Be on the lookout for the debut of the “Booking The Finish Podcast” coming soon. 

Jay Alletto

About Jay Alletto

Jay Alletto is the owner of PWPNation.com!

He’s interviewed many notable names in pro wrestling including: ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham, Lex Luger, Diamond Dallas Page, Maria Kanellis & more.