Monday, 18 July 2016

WrestleMania 32

Image Source: Amazon
Written By: Mark Armstrong

Running Time: 533 Minutes
Certificate: 15
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Fremantle Home Entertainment
Released: June 6 2016

(To read a full event review of WWE WrestleMania 32, click here.)

For the thirty-second time, WWE presented WrestleMania on April 3 2016 from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and this would be the most attended WWE show of all-time with an announced attendance of 101,763. In the ring, though, the reaction to WrestleMania ranged from mixed to only slightly positive, with some crapping all over the event in general. At the time, I thought the action was pretty good but that the creative decisions were questionable, and whilst there were some strong outings, there were no true classic WrestleMania matches. So, how does the event hold up on DVD a few months down the line? As it turns out, little has changed.

The opening seven-man Ladder match for the Intercontinental Title remains a thrilling attraction, although Zack Ryder's shock win loses impact knowing that his reign would ultimately last 24 hours. AJ Styles vs. Chris Jericho is another very good match between the two veterans, which would have seemed better had the crowd reaction been stronger. Jericho's win seemed odd at the time, and seemed even stranger when Styles became number one contender to the WWE Title the following night on Raw by pinning Y2J himself. It seems this result was a way of Vince McMahon once again proving that those who made their names outside of WWE are "inferior" to his talent, in the same way that Sting lost to Triple H at WrestleMania 31.

The New Day vs. The League Of Nations was clearly a set-up for the post-match fracas involving Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley and Steve Austin. That perhaps explains why the LON won, but giving New Day different opposition and letting Sheamus and friends just have that angle to themselves with Austin and pals might have been better; despite the Booty-O's cereal entrance, the entire segment felt a bit pointless, especially without the Tag Team Titles at stake. The three-legend cameo is fun, although it's easy to understand why people weren't happy at several current names being easily dropped by former icons. Either way, the LON winning was silly (one fan's head went into his hands), especially since it marked New Day's only PPV defeat since their Tag Team Title reign began at SummerSlam 2015.

The much-anticipated No Holds Barred Street Fight between Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose was considered a big disappointment at the time. On second viewing, the match itself is not that bad, but the ending is abrupt; it feels like the last five minutes are suddenly taken away with the drop of an F5 onto several chairs. Yes, the bout was a let-down, but had it been given sufficient time (and bear in mind how long this card lasted), it probably would have been fondly remembered. On the other hand, the three-way between Charlotte, Sasha Banks and Becky Lynch remains a great match, possibly the strongest of the evening, and ushered in a new era for women's wrestling on the main WWE roster, along with the re-introduction of the WWE Women's Championship. Charlotte winning remains a let-down, though, and fans are still waiting for Sasha's big moment (will it come at SummerSlam?).

The Undertaker vs. Shane McMahon inside Hell In A Cell is much better when watching it again, perhaps because the slow pace is to be expected, meaning that the big spots (of which there are plenty) have a bigger impact, none more than Shane's death-defying elbow drop off the top of the cage. It did culminate the most poorly-written major storyline in WWE, perhaps ever, and the fact that Shane has been in some measure of control ever since despite losing has never been properly explained. By the way, how ironic is it that Shane's whole purpose for returning in storyline terms was to run Raw, and now ultimately he's ended up with SmackDown, meaning that in the long run, nothing changed?

The Andre The Giant Memorial Battle Royal has its moments but lasts a bit too long, and the majority of its content and entrants are filler. The segment between The Rock, The Wyatt Family and John Cena is entertaining, but again lasts a little too long. I don't have the same feeling of anger that others do about the Wyatts being "buried" here, but one can certainly understand why fans would feel that way after watching this angle. Finally, Triple H vs. Roman Reigns for the WWE Title is actually not as bad as people would have you think; the crowd are definitely into it, the majority are just not into supporting the babyface Roman Reigns. That being said, it is the least exciting main event at Mania since The Miz vs. John Cena from WM XXVII, meaning that this Mania has an average conclusion, rather than the feeling of excitement after watching Daniel Bryan and Seth Rollins capture WWE's top prize at the previous two Manias.

So, the main card of WrestleMania 32 is definitely enjoyable to watch the second time around. Because it's on DVD, you almost have to break up your viewing sessions of the five-hour card, unlike the live version which was one long slog, and which came after a two-hour Kick-Off show, meaning that you're not exhausted and checking the time during the last few segments of the event. However, it is far from the best WrestleMania you'll ever see. The entertainment and the spectacle of the record-breaking crowd, along with the star-studded appearances, some very good matches and that elbow drop by Shane make it a worthwhile WrestleMania, but if you're ranking this alongside other Mania shows, the best you could probably hope for is to put it in the top ten; it will never unseat Mania X-Seven as the best WM of all-time.

The only noticeable edit on the main card is the overdubbing of Thunderstruck by AC/DC with a generic track during the brief Dallas Cheerleaders dance performance prior to The Rock's entrance. What have been brutally edited, though, are the three Kick-Off Show matches included on the DVD, as is the norm. Presumably due to Mania lasting five hours, of the three bonus bouts (Kalisto vs. Ryback, Team Total Divas vs. Team B.A.D. & Blonde and The Usos vs. The Dudley Boyz), Ryback is the only performer whose entrance is included here, and for his bout and the ten-women match, on the night a commercial break interrupted both encounters, but it feels like a couple of minutes have been chopped from the second part of each match, in order to squeeze them onto this set. For those involved in Kick-Off Show bouts, not only did they only compete at WM 32 on a technicality, but their matches have been edited to shreds on the home video release. No wonder Ryback was miffed, eh?

Fortunately, the WWE Hall Of Fame 2016 induction ceremony is here in full, although the inductions of Jacqueline and Stan Hansen are swopped around so that discs two and three each have the "correct" running time. I would recommend to WWE that WrestleMania is released on a four-disc DVD next year, because if the plan going forward is for Mania to last five hours each year, then the DVD will seem so edited down (as this one is) that fans would be better off just having the WWE Network and watching everything from Mania weekend on there (which incidentally has the two-hour Kick-Off Show in full). Also inducted were The Godfather, The Fabulous Freebirds (whose long induction is the highlight of the show and includes some great stories), Big Boss Man (posthumous induction), Snoop Dogg (celebrity inductee), Joan Lunden (Warrior Award recipient) and Sting, who announces his retirement at the end of his speech. This is an entertaining HOF ceremony though not quite the best that we've seen, although it is surreal to see Ric Flair, who is supposed to be inducting Sting, turn his speech into a mini-HOF induction for himself; at one point, it feels like he is inducting Ricky Steamboat rather than The Stinger.

Other minor notes: the menu music for this DVD is the same one that has been used since the WM XXVII DVD, which whilst representing some nice continuity, could suggest that it's time for a change (it's not like the theme is even used on television, meaning it is nowhere near as iconic as the classic WrestleMania themes used in the 1990s). The artwork is as good as you would expect, with many photographs from the card on the digipak; it should be noted that this underlines which matches mattered most to WWE, although oddly there is only one picture from Lesnar vs. Ambrose, and three from the (pre-show) Usos vs. Dudleyz clash. And there are no additional extras due to the run-time for both Mania and the Hall Of Fame, which is another reason why I hope for a four-disc release of WrestleMania on DVD next year.

So, should you buy this DVD? If you're a collector, then yes; if you haven't seen the Mania festivities from this year, absolutely; and if you buy wrestling DVDs simply based on whether they're entertaining, then you should find this to be a wise purchase. If you own the Network, though, then there is no exclusive content here that warrants a purchase (not to mention the edited-down Kick-off matches), and if the card left a bad taste in your mouth at the time, then it probably won't be that much better to watch the second time around, even though some bouts seem better than they did during the live presentation. Therefore, as the rating below indicates, this is an undeniably fun wrestling DVD set, but Network subscribers should have a think about whether this DVD is really worth buying.

Overall Rating: 8/10 - Very Good

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