I’ve already written a mostly tongue-in-cheek article about the issues facing WrestleMania in 2016, but even after that, I wasn’t expecting this.
WrestleMania 32 featured some of the strangest booking choices ever experienced on a major WWE pay-per-view, and certainly on a WrestleMania card. But it wasn’t just the questionable outcome of some of the matches. This is pro wrestling, not UFC: most of the time, win/loss records are subservient to the overall story being told.
And the story being told here was that WWE have gone wonky in the brain. Swerves, we’re used to. To a certain extent, swerves are almost expected, especially for the biggest night of the industry’s calendar, and when the press for WrestleMania 32 leading up to the AT&T Stadium’s doors opening was almost uniformly listless or negative.
Because the build for the big night was so lacklustre, last minute and lazy, it was assumed by many that - as occurred at last year’s WrestleMania - there would be some radically unexpected storyline introduced to raise the stakes and the spirits of the audience at home and in Dallas.
No such luck. One of the weirdest things about WrestleMania 32 is exactly how predictable the marquee matches were, and how nonsensical the unexpected moments were. It’s almost as if the card was being booked by a tyrannical, out-of-touch septuagenarian carny with a god complex.
But let’s get into the nitty-gritty. Here’s the weirdest sh*t that went down at WrestleMania this year. Massive spoilers, if you’ve got seen it yet…
14. Woo Woo Woo - No One Knows It
I’ve already written about the weirdness in Zack Ryder even being included in the Intercontinental Championship ladder match in the first place.
After all, this is a man who’s been buried so deep that he can use toxic waste as a duvet. He’s been right at the bottom of the undercard for four years: his recent showings as the boring part of a nothing tag team on NXT has been the most noteworthy thing he’s done since 2012 that isn’t blonde or Australian.
And now, not only was he a featured part of the match for the Intercontinental Championship at WrestleMania, but he’s booked to win the damn thing. People were already worried that he got the match because he’s not well: now they’re convinced the man must be terminal, because this is Make A Wish territory, right here.
In a way, it makes a little sense: we now know why the company’s secondary title was being contested in a multi-man ladder match for the second year in a row. After all, no one’s going to buy Zack Ryder winning a singles match.
But I do wonder about those poor fans that may have only begun watching the product in the last three years or so - young people, or lapsed fans lured back in by the bargain price of the WWE Network - who have no idea who this ‘Ryder’ is, and who remain convinced that he’s a new signee getting a monster push on his debut.
“Is that the man from New Japan Pro Wrestling, daddy?”
“No, son. It’s the decayed corpse of a man who reached for Vince McMahon’s brass ring in 2011, only to find out that it was a doughnut.”