Lack of blood, underwhelming main event headline WrestleMania criticism

Brock Lesnar, in black shorts, wrestles Dean Ambrose during WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, April 3, 2016. (Jae S. Lee/The Dallas Morning News via AP)
Brock Lesnar, in black shorts, wrestles Dean Ambrose during WrestleMania 32 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, April 3, 2016. (Jae S. Lee/The Dallas Morning News via AP)

WWE legend Jim Ross led a wave of criticism in the wake of WrestleMania 32, which failed to deliver two key ingredients.

The long-time broadcaster said the WWE's insistence on maintaining a "PG" level of programming prevented the highly-anticipated "Street Fight" between Brock Lesnar and Dean Ambrose from hitting any great heights.

"When you advertise a street fight, people expect blood," Ross told Sports Illustrated, while giving the overall show a B-minus.

"It is hard to have a bloodless street fight that creates angst and drama. I am not advocating that blood should return, but you put yourself in a corner when you book a match like this without including blood."

While the Lesnar-Ambrose rumble had its moments, the most savage rebukes came for a flat main event between Roman Reigns and Triple H for the Heavyweight Championship.

Ross wasn't as brutal as some - even indicating the WWE could salvage the situation by having Reigns turn heel - but believes the new champion was a victim of poor booking.

"The WWE kept believing their machine could make Roman Reigns a fan favourite by WrestleMania, and it didn't happen," said Ross. "That's a matter of how he was booked. WWE has cast Reigns as a hero, but viewers do not accept him in that role.

"People gravitate to attitude. Austin's attitude still holds up. Reigns became that defiant, anti-establishment guy, so people naturally compare him to the last anti-establishment guy, and that is Stone Cold. Those are awfully big shoes to fill ...

"Unless he's deaf, Reigns is aware that the fans do not respect him. So there is a very real and organic story to tell with WWE pulling the trigger on a heel turn."

'THERE'S NO WAY AROUND HOW TERRIBLE IT WAS'

As a former company man Ross is always measured in his critiques of the business. But other's weren't. Yahoo's Chris Wilson's recap of the event was titled "WrestleMania 32: Let Us Never Speak of That Main Event Again".

"There is no way around how terrible the main event was; it was an act of delusion and/or hubris you'll seldom see on a scale this big," Wilson wrote.

"Poor Roman Reigns was booed every time his face appeared over the course of the night - even for a split-second in a video game promo - and as soon as Triple H (who along with Stephanie McMahon had attempted but failed to reassert their heel credibility) settled in the ring and looked for his opponent, the jeers started to rain. Even worse, some people left, with more trickling out over the course of a slog of a match.

"In 2014, WWE was willing to turn the ship around by inserting Daniel Bryan into what was supposed to be a Batista/Randy Orton main event. Last year, as the crowd was sour on the build for Reigns vs Brock Lesnar, they were again able to adjust course with a Seth Rollins cash-in.

"This year they just let the ship run into the rocks, then cranked up Reigns' music in the building in an attempt to cover up as many of the boos as possible. It was awkward, uncomfortable and a pretty depressing way to end the night."

'WRESTLEMANIA FANS DEFINITELY FELT BETRAYED'

Rolling Stone's Aaron Oster, who was ringside, also took aim at the Reigns-Triple H flop. "Fair or not, a big show is always judged by its final moment, and in this case, WWE failed in most of the crowd's view," Oster wrote.

"It was a stubborn conclusion at best, tone-deaf at worst, and after two years of dream endings at WrestleMania, fans definitely felt betrayed."

CBS Sport's Adam Silverstein gave the event a C. "WrestleMania 32 absolutely had its moments," he wrote.

"The tremendous women's triple threat match and Shane McMahon's Van Terminator and dive off the cage definitely stand out, but really, a large part of the show seemed to be WWE trying too hard.

"WrestleMania 31 a year ago had a relatively weak build but over-delivered in a major way; in fact, you could argue it was an exceptional event.

"Similarly, WrestleMania 32 was not built as a strong show (in large part due to a rash of injuries), but the booking almost tried too hard to make up for that fact with Foley, Michaels, Austin, The Rock, John Cena and even Shaq involved in the ring. None of those moments stood out the way DeGeneration X and nWo hitting the ring last year did."

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