To be utterly honest, this year’s WrestleMania card simply flattered to deceive, especially compared to the last two years. For what was being billed as the biggest WrestleMania of all time, the matches we got were far from worthy of that honor.
Of course, that isn’t the WWE’s fault entirely, with a huge injury bug spreading throughout the roster that has crippled many top superstars in what has become a recurring trend since November of last year. From Seth Rollins to Randy Orton to John Cena to Cesaro, it’s a huge blow for the WWE to be missing these superstars on the grandest stage of them all. But assuming most of these superstars were fit, what matches were supposed to happen at Wrestlemania 32? Here are some of WWE’s originally planned matches according to various, fairly reliable sources.
10. Bray Wyatt vs Brock Lesnar
The Face of Fear vs The Beast Incarnate was pretty clearly intended to happen as late as the 2016 Royal Rumble, when the entire Wyatt Family attacked Lesnar during the match and managed to eliminate him via shenanigans and an overwhelming numbers advantage. Revenge from Lesnar was pretty much assured, but suddenly, and without any real explanation, the angle with the Wyatts was dropped and Lesnar was transitioned into a feud with Dean Ambrose instead. The most likely explanation was that Ambrose’s rising popularity earned him a higher profile WrestleMania match, after he rode massive fan support into a WWE World Heavyweight Title feud with Triple H in the weeks prior to Mania and acquitted himself well, leaving Wyatt out in the cold as a result.
9. Roman Reigns vs Brock Lesnar
Reigns getting a re-match against Lesnar and beating him cleanly, possibly for the WWE World Heavyweight Title, was almost certainly in place seconds after the surprise finish to WrestleMania 31 was enacted. After all, the entire plan had always been to have Lesnar put over Reigns and cement him as a big star capable of defeating the unstoppable Beast, and just because WWE decided to completely change plans and delay Reigns’ ascension for another year didn’t mean they ever fully dropped the idea of Reigns facing off against Lesnar. But, as with all matches booked a year in advance (except for Cena-Rock, that was engraved in diamond the second it was announced), the direction of WWE veered off wildly over the course of the next twelve months, and when the time came to actually start the build for WrestleMania, the injury situation (most notably Seth Rollins’ knee, which caused a completely different WrestleMania match, which we’ll get to, to be canned) led to Reigns and Lesnar never really crossing paths again.
8. Braun Strowman vs The Undertaker
Ah yes, Braun Strowman (or any number of playful nicknames he’s been assigned) was indeed at one point a potential WrestleMania opponent for The Undertaker, due to possessing that unique and desired quality of being really, really big. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your perspective), Strowman showed about as much wrestling ability as a bag of rocks, and somehow, somebody managed to talk Vince McMahon down from what was presumably a dream match inside his head. It’s actually likely that WWE’s injury situation played a part in this match getting scrapped, as well, because with so many high-profile Superstars going down with injury, The Undertaker’s WrestleMania match became more and more important to selling the show, and needed a far more marquee opponent than the biggest member of the Wyatt Family if it was going to be a main event-level match.
7. Brock Lesnar vs The Undertaker
This match was reportedly set all the way back after SummerSlam, when Undertaker beat Brock in revenge for ending The Streak by kicking him repeatedly in the crotch. At the time, the plan was to have the rubber match take place at WrestleMania, possibly inside Hell in a Cell, and it’s actually fairly likely that Brock would have emerged victorious. So what happened? Well, ratings started tanking after SummerSlam, John Cena took a vacation, and Seth Rollins’ feud with Corporate Kane wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire (pun entirely intended), so WWE panicked and booked Taker-Lesnar III for the Hell in a Cell PPV instead, in an attempt to prop up ratings and maintain subscriber numbers during what was looking like a pretty grim financial quarter.
6. Kevin Owens vs The Undertaker
When injuries felled most of WWE’s top stars, including John Cena, it became apparent as WrestleMania approached that The Undertaker did not have many options for a WrestleMania opponent who would be credible enough to be a threat to the Dead Man. However, there were reports that Kevin Owens, who had blossomed into one of WWE’s best heels since debuting nearly a year earlier and immediately feuding with John Cena, was campaigning heavily for the honor of facing The Undertaker at WrestleMania. It’s unclear how seriously this match was considered, but given the plight WWE was in, and the fact that it would have been a completely fresh and interesting matchup, one has to imagine it was at least given some serious thought. In the end, WWE went with the Shane McMahon match instead, with Owens defending (and losing) the Intercontinental Title in a 7-man ladder match on the show.
5. Roman Reigns vs John Cena
This was a big opportunity missed. While we’ll probably get this match in the coming years, the original plan was for Roman Reigns to beat Seth Rollins at Survivor Series last year and then, go on to face John Cena at WrestleMania 32. The current face of the company against the future face of the company, this match would definitely be a symbolic passing of the torch.
However, Seth Rollins’ injury meant that a tournament was instead decided upon. Roman ended up winning the title at the pay-per-view only to lose it to Sheamus, who cashed in his Money in the Bank briefcase. With the way Roman’s booking was going since then, it seemed the plan for a Reigns vs Cena match was postponed.
4. Triple H vs The Rock
Following their confrontation at WrestleMania 31, which featured Ronda Rousey, the plan for this Mania was to have a match between Triple H and The Rock in Dallas. It might have been a couple of years too late, considering we never got to see these two duke it out at a WrestleMania during the Attitude Era, but it still would have been a huge draw.
However, for many reasons, this match didn’t end up happening. One of the rumored reasons is because of an insurance issue where it would be risky for The Rock to take part in a match while he was filming Baywatch. And so, Triple H’s WrestleMania opponent was changed, which leads to our next match.
3. Seth Rollins vs Triple H
As mentioned earlier, the plan was for Roman Reigns to beat Seth Rollins at Survivor Series last year. Rollins would have probably gotten a rematch due to the rematch clause but fail to win it back, causing Triple H to lose faith in him. This would lead to The Game turning on the future of the company, turning Rollins into a babyface and culminating into a match at WrestleMania—mentor vs prodigy. Sadly, this couldn’t happen because of the injury Rollins suffered at a house show, causing WWE to completely revamp their plans for WrestleMania.
2. Undertaker vs Brock Lesnar
The ending of the streak was one of the most unpredictable, shocking and surreal moments in WWE history. Beating Undertaker at WrestleMania elevated Brock Lesnar to further heights, and it was only a matter of time before the Deadman came back looking for revenge.
The series was tied at 1-1 after the Phenom got a lucky win over Lesnar at Summerslam last year, which led everyone to believe that a final match at WrestleMania 32 would settle the score, even potentially being Undertaker’s last match. However, for reasons unknown, it never came to fruition. This was further highlighted when a third match between the duo was abruptly announced for Hell in a Cell without any buildup whatsoever. In fairness, that match was probably the pick of the bunch.
1. Undertaker vs John Cena
Lastly, one match which fans have wanted to see full stop, let alone at WrestleMania, was Undertaker vs John Cena. A dream match which would have certainly been a lot more interesting had the Streak been intact, it still would have been huge nonetheless, almost Batman vs Superman-esque.
After Cena’s mini hiatus following Hell in a Cell, it was very much in WWE’s plans to have him fight the Undertaker, possibly retiring the Deadman. Who else but the good guy face of the company? However, Cena’s shoulder rotator cuff injury meant yet another disruption to WWE’s plans, ultimately causing them to call back Shane McMahon.