In 28 days WWE will hold Wrestlemania 32, the Superbowl of professional wrestling/sports entertainment but this year will be a little light on stars. A lot of fuss has been made about certain fighters missing the upcoming UFC 200 supercard but their problems pale in comparison to WWE’s.
Just to highlight how bad it is – every single person who walked out of last year’s event as a champion is injured and in fact most of the participants from Wrestlemania 31 are on the shelf.
Wrestlemania 31’s matches were as follows with their current status in brackets:
1. King Barrett (injured) lost his Intercontinental Title to Daniel Bryan (injured) in a ladder match also involving Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth, Luke Harper, Stardust and Dean Ambrose.
2. Seth Rollins (injured) v Randy Orton (injured).
3. Sting (injured) v Triple H
4. Nikki Bella (injured) and Brie Bella v Paige (recently returned from injury) and AJ Lee (retired)
5. Rusev lost his US Championship title to John Cena (injured)
6. Bray Wyatt v The Undertaker
7. Brock Lesnar v Roman Reigns saw Seth Rollins cash in his title shot and win The World Heavyweight Championship.
With a number of stars out WWE had hired Alberto Del Rio along with AJ Styles and the rest of Bullet Club to try and fill some gaps but unfortunately Del Rio got injured by Brock Lesnar and may be out of Wrestlemania.
With Del Rio, John Cena, Seth Rollins, Sting, Cesaro, Randy Orton, Daniel Bryan, Nikki Bella and Tyson Kidd all injured, Sheamus and Sin Cara both injured but still appearing and then Sasha Banks and Paige only just returning from injuries, that’s a lot of people to book around. So much so that the current WWE World Heavyweight Champion is semi retired wrestler and WWE head honcho in training, 46 year old Triple H.
WWE has reached out to numerous former stars and Hall of Fame inductees including The Rock and Dave Bautista to secure appearances though even that has a somewhat dark cloud as Bautista has apparently said no and Hall of Famer Bret ‘Hitman’ Hart has just announced that he has prostate cancer. As Hart’s late brother, Owen, was expected to be inducted to the Hall of Fame this year by Bret, it’s unclear now what the plans are.
It’s not all bad news though.
While WWE’s roster is lacking star power some of the injured are making good progress with their recoveries and so Wrestlemania 32 may see at least one return. Also the lack of stars means that some talents lower on the card have a great opportunity to elevate their status.
Right now WWE has a roster of 54 wrestlers, not including the injured ones, so that’s a lot of talent who normally have to fight for screen time. Wrestlemania 32 could be a big day for Kevin Owens, Dolph Ziggler, New Day, Braun Strowman, Kalisto, Neville and others who would not ordinarily be considered for a upper echelon match at Wrestlemania.
There’s also one other man who could make Wrestlemania 32 a must watch…
AJ Styles was one of the hottest talents in wrestling last year and now he’s landed in WWE at a time when they can’t afford to do the usual routine of breaking down a talent who isn’t home grown and then rebuilding them. Styles has reportedly signed for a massive amount of money; quoted as being a $450,000 or $500,000 per year downside guarantee. At 38, Styles is also one of the oldest men on the roster so presumably WWE will be looking to get a good return very quickly for their investment
AJ Styles is someone who lives up to his ‘Phenomenal’ nickname and is certainly capable of 5 star matches, so with all eyes on him it’ll be up to him to prove he’s worth the money and steal the show.
WWE has a history of pulling a win out of the worst situations and with a roster full of hungry talent looking to get noticed, Wrestlemania 32 may actually end up being one of the best.