WrestleMania goes Hollywood! AKA some of the wrestlers parody movies for the adverts.
Match 1 – Eddie Guerrero Vs Rey Mysterio – On paper this should have been awesome. Instead it wasn’t. In fact it’s my least favourite match from either guy ever. Just horrible. A massive blip on their incredible 2005 series. Eddie just doesn’t look “on” and Rey is constantly pissing about with his mask. Takes me out of the match and seems to take them out of the match too. Gets worse with every watch and this is no different. Thankfully they go on to do MUCH better. MUCH BETTER. But it still confuses and saddens me that this is what they manage to pull out at WRESTLEMANIA. *.
Match 2 – Chris Jericho Vs Christian Vs Chris Benoit Vs Kane Vs Shelton Benjamin Vs Edge – The first ever Money in the Bank Ladder Match! Whoever climbs the ladder and successfully retrieves the briefcase will be able to cash it in at any time within the next year for a title match! Damn, look at all that CANADIAN talent! Kane’s entrance is awesome. Last year they had graphics of a New York skyline on fire. This year they set fire to a bunch of ladders at the top of the stage! Everyone tries to jump him on his way down to the ring, but he steamrolls over them all and charges down to the ring to try and get a ladder before everyone catches up with him and he gets a double suplex on the floor. Everyone starts flying over the ropes to take as many people out as possible, but Kane is the one left standing in the end when he takes to the ropes and dives on everyone on the floor! Always impressive to see someone the size of Kane do that. Shelton was great too with his dive, similar to how Undertaker does it, only he flipped over at the end. One of many Shelton spots that would help him cement his name as a MITB MVP during his time with WWE. The Ladder pulls its weight here too, taking a nice bump off a German suplex lol. Benoit starts going crazy (uhhh… yeah) and tries to put as many people as he can in the Crossface, so Kane smashes a ladder onto one of his arms to show him the pain everyone else has been feeling. And thus begins the incredible selling of Benoit’s arm that would become a big part of this match, and a big part of it being great. One of the other big parts is of course Shelton’s great spots, and he keeps them coming. Always great when you can have a ladder match where a lot of the spots actually make sense and shit. Shelton’s numerous risks makes sense for his character in that he’s young and still relatively new to the singles scene (as of the draft the previous year), and being his first singles match at WM and with such high rewards on the line, he is determined to make an impact and do whatever he can to win. Then you have Benoit who keeps taking big bumps, all of which focus on his arm, giving him more and more reason to really sell it and give us the story of Benoit being injured and trying to fight through the pain to win the contract. Benoit is such an awesome seller, he continues to sell the arm WEEKS after WM. And while those two are the big parts of the match, everyone else had something going for them too. Kane is the big powerhouse who can take out everyone in a split second when he needs to, changing the whole match. Christian is the sneaky little heel with Tomko on the outside trying to help him at any given chance. Edge is beginning his ultimate opportunist gimmick and the finish is really where he shines in that sense. Honestly though, Jericho actually seems out of place lol, which is funny considering kayfabe wise he’s the guy who invented this match, so you’d think he’d have a bigger part. So yeah, in the end Edge comes in from out of nowhere, smacks Benoit in his bad arm with a chair and steals the win! Just an incredible match, and definitely the best MITB match ever. Doubt any of the others will beat it. ****1/2.
Eugene randomly shows up returning from injury or something. His music doesn’t play until he’s half way to the ring which kills any kind of pop he might have gotten lol. Muhammad Hassan and Davari show up to talk shit, then HULK HOGAN comes down to a massive, massive pop to make the save. He was inducted into the HOF the day before, hence his appearance.
Match 3 – The Undertaker Vs Randy Orton – The Undertaker was a Legend. Randy Orton was a Legend Killer. He had taken out (aka RKO’d lol) numerous wrestling legends up until this point, and after a mediocre face turn and disappointing WHC run, Orton was looking to redeem himself by defeating one of the biggest Legends of all time at WrestleMania; making him the first and only person to do so. However, The Undertaker is unlike any other Legend that Orton has faced so far, and would not give up so easily… I remember all the internet rumours around this time, all claiming that Orton was indeed going to win, and finally put an end to the Streak. While I have been caught up in The Undertaker’s last 3 WrestleMania matches (23, 24 and 25), this is the one match where I went into it believing that The Undertaker was going to lose. It made the whole situation even more interesting that it already was! ‘Taker gets perhaps his lamest WrestleMania entrance to date, as they try to have him “float” to the ring (aka stand on a moving platform that is hidden by all the smoke :p ). Just looks… lame. Orton’s entrance is more noteworthy at this WrestleMania, even though it is absolutely nothing special. He basically moved down to the ring pretty fast, not running, but not taking his time either. He spent no time in getting into the ring, and was showing no fear. A great way to get Orton over IMO, as simple as it was. Orton gets put over a little more from the very start of the match, as he wins a couple of exchanges against The Undertaker, which frustrates the Dead Man, and causes him to begin to throw those big soup bones. However, Orton keeps himself in the game, nearly hitting an RKO! Nice spot with ‘Taker countering the RKO, throwing Orton out of the ring and into the side of the announcer’s table (which DIDN’T injure Orton’s shoulder, so that’s a big achievement in itself 😛 ). ‘Taker takes his fair share of bumps too though, missing a big boot in the corner and getting caught up in the turnbuckle, then getting dropkicked off the apron into the guardrail. The Undertaker keeps coming back, as we basically expect from his these days in his Dead Man gimmick, but Orton stayed on his level, took punishment from The Undertaker, and constantly put a stop to any momentum the Phenom was building. I can’t even begin to imagine how much bigger this match would have been if Orton didn’t have the face turn in 2004, because he was already getting some major heat in this match, but a lot of people couldn’t forget about that relatively awful face turn that slowed down his growth as a major star. I loved how Orton reversed the Last Ride attempt out of the corner, something that a lot of people are sick of. It showed us that Orton had really done his homework, and came to WrestleMania fully prepared to win. Bob Orton Jr (Randy’s Dad)’s involvement was a nice addition too. Speaking of nice… the Chokeslam reversed into the RKO is one of the most awesome things to happen in an Undertaker WrestleMania match. Watching live, I truly believed that the match was over right there, but somehow the Dead Man kicked out! Orton signals for a Tombstone, since his own finisher didn’t work. The Undertaker reversed it into a Tombstone of his own, and is able to pick up the win in his hardest fought victory since his WrestleMania 14 match with Kane! 13-0 now, and this is his best WrestleMania match so far. A great back and forth contest for the most part, with Orton looking better than ever during the whole thing. This was also the best The Undertaker had looked for a couple of years too, and I’m not sure if he could have looked as good as he did if he was in there with that many people, but Randy was one of those guys. Looking back on the match, if Orton had won and ended the Streak, I would have been fine with it. Orton looked like gold, and at the time he was pretty great both in the ring and as a character, unlike now where he bores me to death :P. ****1/4.
Match 4 – Trish Stratus Vs Christy Hemme – NO.
Match 5 – Shawn Michaels Vs Kurt Angle – Man, just look at this WM. 5 matches, and we’ve had the awesome MITB ladder match, Undertaker Vs Orton and now this? If only Eddie/Rey delivered, this would be one awesome start to a show. Hell it still is an awesome start to a show lol, but could have been even better. Ok, so I’m not the biggest fan of Kurt Angle. He does far too much shit that annoys me more than anything when I watch him wrestle. But even I call this a dream match. I wanted it to happen just as much as anyone else. And while I don’t (could change as I watch it here) consider it to be the greatest match of all time or anything, I do really love it, so I am absolutely looking forward to watching this! HBK starts things off with a slap to Angle’s face, and all this does is piss Angle off who starts to mat wrestle HBK and show him up. So HBK responds by taking the match to the mat too, locking in a headlock that seems to take Angle off his game a little as it’s not the kind of thing you’d expect HBK to do, especially against a guy like Kurt. A lot of people have a problem with this, and well, I do kinda get it in the sense that they do the headlock stuff for a little too long. Ok, so HBK locks in a headlock and takes Angle off his game because he isn’t expecting this approach. But then once Angle settled down and shit, being the Olympic Gold Medallist and shit, shouldn’t he have just been able to tear HBK apart and escape something as simple as a headlock? Once they get passed the headlock part though, things definitely get better. Shawn continues to surprise Kurt by having more of a mat based game, this time applying different holds to keep Angle at bay, all the while Angle is still able to provide counters and reversals to show us that he IS the better mat based wrestler. With HBK frustrating Angle, Angle decides to try and turn this into a brawl and they begin to exchange rights and lefts in the corner and from here the match goes to another level. ANGLE SLAM INTO THE RINGPOST. Was supposed to go back first into it, but was more of his leg than anything else, but the story of the match is the back stuff so we know what they wanted to do, not worth hating on the match because it wasn’t executed perfectly lol. The back work works well on a couple of levels, as HBK has the history of back problems thus “weakening” his back, and a great deal of Angle’s offence involves suplexes which target the back, and of course Angle’s finisher, the Angle Slam, targets the back too. So we have Angle having a REASON to hit so many suplexes, and HBK being able to sell his back and show his pain etc which he is great at… until he kips up lol. No matter what Angle does to HBK, this is WrestleMania and the self proclaimed Mr WrestleMania has even more will to win and resilience at this event than any other. He begins to make his big comeback following a huge moonsault on the outside. He does his 5 moves of doom sequence, tunes up the band… only for Angle to catch him in the Ankle Lock! Fuck me, I’ve actually heard people complain about this too. Oh he didn’t go after the leg/ankle before this point so why is he trying to win with the submission now? Uhhh… maybe because it was the best way to counter the superkick? What should he have done, grabbed the leg of Shawn, then let go of it to attempt an Angle Slam that Shawn could have countered far easier than he could have potentially countered the Ankle Lock? Morons. The Ankle Lock doesn’t work as Shawn makes it to the ropes, so what does Angle do? Attempts an Angle Slam this time! And what happens? Shawn counters. Another Ankle Lock attempt as it was more effective before, but Shawn is able to see it coming this time and counters, only to be hit with the Angle Slam! All of this sequence actually makes sense to me in a kind of “realistic” way with Angle simply going for what is easiest to do in that situation, then when it doesn’t work he goes for something else. Speaking of, HBK kicks out of the Angle Slam, so Kurt has to resort to drastic measures with a moonsault of his own! HBK moves, Angle crashes and burns. And now something in the match that does kinda bug me. Angle hits an Angle Slam off the ropes. His finishing move. From the ropes. A SUPER Angle Slam. Which sends HBK crashing down back first. His injured back. And it doesn’t end the match. That’s where things go into “overkill” territory for me. But things are made up for when Angle just grabs Shawn and starts talking trash because he had the audacity to kick out, and Shawn responds with Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere! My favourite part of the match haha. HBK is far too hurt to make a cover straight away, so when he does Angle can kick out. Both men are hurting bad and stay on the mat for a little while before Angle gains almost a second wind as quick as a flash locks in another Ankle Lock! Shawn refuses to tap out at WM, but Angle applies a grapevine with the Ankle Lock, and Shawn can’t do a damn thing, and eventually has to give up and tap out. Wow, I actually liked this more than my last watch. First time I saw it I thought it was incredible and ****3/4. Then I watched it again and it went to ****1/4 which is still a superb rating, but I didn’t think it was THAT great. Watched it again a while back for a top 100 matches poll and while I kept my rating, I liked it more. This time around I actually liked it even more. Not as much as the first time, but certainly enough to up my rating! ****1/2.
Piper’s Pit time! He went into the HOF the night before. His guest? Steve Austin. Love them slapping each other rather than shaking hands. Perfect given who they are. Then Carlito shows up to ruin it. Bah.
Match 6 – The Big Show Vs Akebono – A sumo match. NO.
Match 7 – John Bradshaw Layfield Vs John Cena – WWE Title time. JBL has held the belt for 10 months now. The longest reigning WWE title run since Diesel in 1995. And here comes the up and coming, hugely popular John Cena to try and end the 10 month reign. This match in a few words: JBL dominates, Cena makes a very short superman comeback and wins out of nowhere. And that’s the end of this historic 10 month title reign. Yey. Bullshit. DUD.
Match 8 – Triple H Vs Batista – Oh man was the build up to this match awesome or what? We have the whole Evolution stuff, then Orton being kicked out and from there we had a ton of tension in the background between HHH and Batista that was played up on brilliantly. They did a nice slow burn face turn for Batista, and when he finally Powerbombed HHH through the table and announced he was facing HHH at WM, the crowd fucking erupted and he became one of the most popular wrestlers in the world. Once again, despite being the heel, HHH gets his theme music played live to the ring lol. Always feels weird to me when the heel gets that treatment. But who am I to complain? It’s fucking MOTORHEAD so it’s all good. Not the shite we’ve had in recent years (WM 28 being a huge and terribly shitty example of some of the worst live music from some god awful “singers” to ever be performed at a wrestling event). So the slow burn build up for this match was incredible… and then it all goes downhill for the match lol. The main problem with this match is time. It just seems to last FOREVER. 21 minutes for a Batista match should not happen lol. Make it around 12 minutes long and this probably could have been really good, but all the good stuff (and there IS a lot of good here) is overshadowed by the overly long parts that really bore the shit out of me. Not exactly what a WM main event should be imo. Batista was far too green still to work a match this long. Still, better than the WWE title match lol. **1/2.