Independent Shows Dominate Wrestlemania 32 Weekend in Dallas
My favorite weekend of the year is Wrestlemania weekend. This year the destination was Dallas and, like every year, it was worth every penny.
No matter what your interest is, there is something very special about gathering with people who have the same interest. The experience of taking over one city and everyone enjoying many events is something that I can't put into words. That is the pull towards wanting to go every single year.
The Dallas area was chalked full of pro wrestling fans. When I mean full, I'm talking completely full. Almost every event, independent or WWE, was sold out. The demand for this Wrestlemania is unlike any other that I have been to.
This year I attended EVOLVE 58 (Friday), ROH Supercard of Honor Night 1 (Friday), ROH Supercard of Honor Night 2 (Saturday), Wrestlecon Supershow (Saturday), Wrestlemania (Sunday), and Monday Night Raw. While the main draw is Wrestlemania, the independent shows this year took over.
EVOLVE 58 featured the best match that I saw live this weekend with Zack Sabre Jr vs. Will Ospreay. This match needs to be seen to be believed, and what I would consider a five star classic. It is also tied for the best match of the weekend. NXT featured Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn, which was as good as advertised (went back and watched it later on the WWE Network). ROH put on two very strong shows in front of a sold out house. Finally, the Wrestlecon Super Show was the most entertaining (stress entertaining, not necessarily wrestling. It was overly fun) show of the weekend.
Here is my breakdown from the weekend. This is only from what I was able to see. I still need to watch EVOLVE 59 and the WWN Super Show.
Top Five Matches:
1A - Zack Sabre Jr vs. Will Ospreay - EVOLVE 58
1B - Shinsuke Nakamura vs. Sami Zayn - NXT Takeover: Dallas
3 - Marty Scrull vs. Will Ospreay - Wrestlecon Super Show
4 - Adam Cole vs. Kyle O'Reilly - ROH Supercard of Honor X Night 2
5 - The Young Bucks vs. Motor City Machine Guns - ROH Supercard of Honor X Night 1
101,763. Think about that number and try to imagine the amount of people that really is. That is the official number that was announced on hand at Wrestlemania 32. There really was no place to turn and not see somebody.
The show itself was decent. It won't go down as the best Wrestlemania of all-time (not even close) but it certainly isn't even close to being one of the worst. The highlights of the show included the IC Title ladder match, Jericho/Styles, Banks/Lynch/Charlotte, and the returns of Shawn Michaels/Steve Austin/Mick Foley.
I was overly disappointed with the Dean Ambrose/Brock Lesnar match. Thought they might have been shortened on time, but it didn't do enough to make Ambrose look great. The main event with Triple H and Roman Reigns was beyond boring. Nobody in the building cared for the main event, and many people even opted to head to the exits to beat traffic than to stay and watch.
One of the biggest problems the show faced was the length. Five hours for the main show and a two hour pre-show made the event a marathon to try and get through. The main event didn't do it any favors though either.
The true winners this weekend was EVOLVE, ROH, and Wrestlecon. Anybody that attended any of their shows came out happy. I have recently started getting into Gabe Sapolsky's EVOLVE promotion and EVOLVE 58 made me wishing that I could have made it work to go the next day to EVOLVE 59. Most of the positive reviews I've seen this weekend have been towards Sapolsky's WWN Live Experience (EVOLVE, CZW, Kaiju Big Battel, and WWN Super Show) and they have won many fans over this past weekend.
Ring of Honor once again gave a wonderful alternative to NXT on Friday night. A lot of people weren't able to get NXT tickets (the secondary market started at $350/ticket) and ROH gave those fans more than they bargained for. Both shows that they put on proved why ROH is one of the main promotions in the country.
Finally, Wrestlecon benefitted from a much better venue this year. I was very impressed with the set up for the convention, super show, brunch, and party bus to Wrestlemania. Highspots has done a fantastic job creating a great event. Everyone that went to the Wrestlecon Super Show left with a smile on their face. That show offered everything for fans.
If you ever have the chance to go to a Wrestlemania weekend make sure you take advantage of it. There is no experience like it. Destination Orlando? See you there April 2, 2017.