What's the story?
WrestleMania 32, WWE’s flagship event of the 2016 calendar year and the show with the largest crowd in WWE history, was voted ‘Worst Major Show’ by the Wrestling Observer Newsletter. The event won the dubious award due to a series of problems ranging from overall show length to questionable booking decisions.
In case you didn't know...
The Wrestling Observer Newsletter’s annual awards are voted on by the Observer’s viewership, with fans casting votes for a wide range of topics for a given year. Readers and listeners can vote on which wrestlers they think are the best, which shows they did and did not like, among other topics.
For many years, there has been a strong perception of bias towards Japanese wrestling in the WON awards, especially for the awards for ‘Wrestler of the Year’, ‘Match of the Year’ and ‘Promotion of the Year’.
More often than not, WWE has won some of the ‘bad’ awards, such as ‘Worst Gimmick’, ‘Most Disgusting Promotional Tactic’, and ‘Worst Weekly Show’, due to Meltzer and his readers being more critical of WWE (and to a lesser extent, TNA) than they are of NJPW and other Japanese promotions.
The heart of the matter
WrestleMania 32 was the standout winner for this award, garnering almost triple the amount of votes the runner-up, TNA Bound For Glory 2016, received. The full results are listed as follows, courtesy of cagesideseats.com:
1. WRESTLEMANIA 32 4/3 DALLAS 274
2. TNA Bound for Glory 10/2 Orlando 92
3. Bellator: Gracie vs. Shamrock 2/19 Houston 69
4. AAA TripleMania 25 8/26 Mexico City 47
5. WWE Clash of Champions 9/25 Indianapolis 45
6. TNA One Night Only 1/8 Orlando 37
7. WWE Fast Lane 2/21 Cleveland 31
8. TNA Knockouts Knockdown 3/17 (taping date) Orlando 27
9. ROH Best in the World 6/24 Concord, NC 21
10. UFC 200 7/8 Las Vegas 19
The next edition of WrestleMania, WrestleMania 33, is exactly one month away from today, and so far only one match has been confirmed, and that is Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg. However, we still don't know with 100% certainty whether or not it will be for the WWE Universal Championship.
The pressure is on, however, for WWE to put on a really good show especially after last year’s event having such an overwhelmingly negative fan response. One can only hope WWE manages to fill that card with many matches that’ll leave the fans much happier than last year. That said, rumours are still circulating that Vince McMahon wants Roman Reigns, one of the most disliked babyfaces in years, to win a marquee match at ‘Mania.
The dominant rumour is that it will be Reigns, not John Cena, that’ll be facing the Undertaker at the Grandest Stage Of Them All. If that’s true, Reigns risks being booed more heavily than ever before, as the Undertaker will always be cheered above anyone else.
It does not surprise me whatsoever that WrestleMania 32 won this award. I watched the event on the WWE Network, and it was downright awful in so many ways. The entire thing lasted over six hours in length, which is FAR longer than any event of this calibre should ever go. It even featured the Rock walking side to side with a flamethrower for around five minutes, seemingly stalling for time on an already lengthy show.
The match booking did nothing to satisfy an already disgruntled audience. Zack Ryder won the Intercontinental Championship Ladder Match in what was supposed to be a feel-good moment, only for that to be snatched away from him 24 hours later. No one wanted to see this outcome, especially since both Kevin Owens and Sami Zayn were in the match.
Chris Jericho defeated A.J. Styles in what should’ve been a big win for the newcomer Styles. The match was good, but from a booking standpoint, it didn’t make sense to have Jericho win. While Styles would eventually go on to become WWE Champion and Wrestling Observer’s Wrestler of the Year, this decision didn’t make any sense at all.
The tag team match between The New Day and the League of Nations (LoN) was below average, with the LoN winning despite abysmal booking leading up to the event and no major follow-up whatsoever. It also didn’t help that both the LoN and Xavier Woods were made to look weak by guest legends Steve Austin, Shawn Michaels and mick Foley.
Brock Lesnar’s match with Dean Ambrose was a monumental disappointment. Lesnar was dominant throughout most of the match, while Ambrose barely made a dent in the Beast Incarnate. This was a perfect opportunity for WWE to try and make Ambrose into a bigger star, but he ended up being fed to the Beast in a match that could’ve been much bigger.
The best match on the show by far was the Women’s Triple Threat Match, but even that felt like a subdued version of the matches Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch had with one another back in NXT. It also didn’t help that Ric Flair’s involvement ruined the ending, as the audience watching live were clamouring for Sasha Banks to win at WrestleMania.
Shane McMahon lost to the Undertaker in a Hell in a Cell match that went way too long and was booked in horrible fashion. 46-year-old Shane was made to look like an equal opposite the Undertaker, even though both men did very little throughout the match. This was a contest that was begging for some outside interference to make it more dramatic, but none came. This match will only be remembered for Shane’s crazy jump off the top of the Cell, which he didn’t even sell the following night.
Bray Wyatt and Eric Rowan were both made to look like complete jabronis at the hands of the Rock and a still-not-fully-recovered John Cena. The fact that now Bray will be defending the WWE Championship at WrestleMania is a testament to how devoted he is to his character and putting on a good show. If he wasn’t, he would’ve floundered indefinitely following this.
Then we had the main-event between Roman Reigns and Triple H. This was one of the most boring WrestleMania events in history, partly because the end was a foregone conclusion. Most people watching knew Reigns was winning, and because he already had a negative perception about him going into the match, they did not care. They chanted for various other wrestlers throughout the contest, including Bayley and Shinsuke Nakamura.
When Reigns won, the fans attending live were angry. I have never seen a WrestleMania close with an audience so dissatisfied with the conclusion that Triple H and Stephanie McMahon, the heels in the match, had to try to placate the audience. This event left many fans, myself included, with a foul taste in our mouths. If felt like Vince McMahon and the show’s other bookers went out of their way to spite everyone who wasn’t them with this show, and only wanted to amuse themselves at our expense.
There’s no question about it: WrestleMania 32 deserves to be called the Worst Major Show of 2016.