WWE WrestleMania 21
Los Angeles, California
April 3, 2005
Lillian Garcia sang America the Beautiful.
They showed a montage of the WrestleMania 21 clips showing the funniest lines mostly.
A new video aired, this one with Stone Cold Steve Austin as Gladiator. "My name is Stone Cold Steve Austin and tonight I unleash hell." Then it ended. Pretty good, but not that long.
The announcers introduced the show. They're all at ringside, including the Raw guys. The aisle is red, which is a nice nod to Hollywood.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio
My Pick: Eddie Guerrero
Guerrero comes out first to a huge pop. The California crowd is a hot spot for Eddie, that's for sure. Mysterio comes out next wearing a funky outfit that's got the US flag on it. Then he takes that off and wears this other outfit that has a top on it. They're each wearing their tag belts. Bell rings and they go.
Side headlock for Eddie. Rey hits a shoulderblock for two, but Eddie comes back with an arm drag. Mysterio with a sunset flip. Eddie counters that, slingshots him over the top, slide to the floor and Mysterio moves. 619 avoided, and the crowd applauds the way they are able to avoid eachother's tricks. Monkey flip for Mysterio, wrist lock for Guerrero, they do some rope running and Mysterio flips Rey onto his back in another monkey flip type bump. Guerrero over the top with a plancha, rolls Rey in and gets two. Back suplex for Guerrero. Tazz picks Guerrero to win, which probably means a loss. Guerrero sticks him in the surfboard submission hold. STF for Guerrero for about twenty seconds, Rey fights back onto his shoulder and I guess Guerrero was going for a powerslam, but it slipped. He picks him up in a powerbomb spot and Mysterio whips him into an drag, which was probably the previous spot. Mysterio dropkicks Eddie on the floor, then he comes off with a corkscrew plancha over the top to the floor. Back in, seated senton for Rey and Guerrero comes back with a back elbow. Suplex for Eddie, Rey counters the next one with a rollup for two. Sick backbreaker for Eddie gets two. He's frustrated now. Guerrero's facial expressions rule.
Now Eddie hits the three vertical suplexes, but no, on the third one Rey counters it into a headscissors. 619 ducked by Guerrero, then he hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for two. Guerrero is very frustrated now. Three verticals hit now, that's six total for Guerrero. Frog splash, but Rey moves at the very last second. Rey goes for a rollup and Guerrero counters that for two of his own. Powerbomb attempt for Eddie, Rey ducks out sets Guerrero up for the 619, he hits that now. Rey's bleeding from the mouth. West Coast Pop countered into a STIFF powerbomb for Eddie, he stacks him up and it only gets two. Guerrero's stunned. Lots of "Eddie" chants for the crowd. Tilt-a-whirl attempt for Eddie, but Rey counters into a headscissors rollup for two. Guerrero shakes his hand after the match. Match was 13 minutes.
Winner: Rey Mysterio
Analysis: ***1/2 Great way to start the show. The focus of the match was Guerrero working on Mysterio's back and being frustrated because he couldn't put him away. Then Mysterio was able to pin him after one of his first attempts.
Backstage, JBL and crew meet up with HHH and crew. JBL guarantees a win in his match. HHH says we'll have to wait until the end of the night to see who's the better man, to see who is still a champion. Flair WOO's at OJ.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Edge vs. Kane
My Pick: Edge
As we know, the winner of this match gets a title match in the future. There are ladders in the entry way. When Kane comes out, they are all on fire. All the guys attack Kane when he comes out. Benjamin and Benoit suplex Kane on the floor. There are ladders all around the floor. I missed around 30 seconds, coming back to see Christian hit a springboard plancha on the guys on the floor. Then Benjamin does a no hands plancha over the top. Now Kane goes up and hits everybody with something off the top. Tomko's out there with Christian, so he gets knocked down too. Kane's the only one standing, he sets up a ladder and drills Edge with it, then Christian. Jericho dropkicks the ladder into Kane's face. He then drills Benjamin with it in the head, then he hits Edge in the ribs with it. Benoit comes in with a German Suplex, taking out the ladder also. Benoit's right eye is still hurting from the shot from Raw. Benoit climbs up, Kane goes to chokeslam him and Benoit counters with a Crossface. Edge gets up, he eats a Crossface. Kane spears him with the ladder while he's got Edge in the Crossface. Kane puts the arm of Benoit in the ladder and rams it several times. Edge spears Kane. Christian brings in a ladder. They sandwich Kane with a ladder. Benjamin in the ring with a springboard clothesline. Benjamin goes to kick Edge, but he blocks it and Benjamin dragon whips Christian into the ladder. Edge whips Benjamin spine first into a vertical ladder. Spear attempt countered into a flapjack into the propped up ladder. Benjamin gives Edge a Stinger Splash onto the ladder. He climbs but can't reach, so Jericho gets up and fights him. Christian sets one up. Benoit with one arm climbs. Edge sets up another one. Everybody up except Kane. They chop the shit out of eachother. Benoit and Christian go down, then Jericho on the back of his head. Edge and Benjamin up top. T-Bone off the top of the ladder! Damn. That's gotta hurt.
Everybody's pretty much dead. Jericho goes to climb, but Christian stops him. Jericho kicks Christian's back of the head into the ladder. He does the slow climb and can't reach it. WOW! Benjamin climbs a ladder that was set up diagonally and clotheslines Jericho off the top. Wow, Benjamin's athleticism is sick. Kane comes in, goes to chokeslam Benjamin to the floor, but Benjamin's foot is caught in the ropes. Damn, that can't be good. Tomko decks Kane. He sets up a ladder and helps Christian climb. Kane takes Tomko out to the floor. Christian's at the top, Kane shoves of him off and he lands on Tomko. Kane climbs, he's at the top, Jericho gets there quick and he pulls Kane off with Jericho going over the top to the floor while Kane got stuck on the top rope and went back in the ring. Benoit, selling that left arm still, comes in. He doesn't even use the left arm. He sets up the ladder by the ropes. The crowd goes nuts, headbutt time! He climbs, crowd is standing, throat slash and HEADBUTT! Damn. Wow. They show a wide shot of it and it's just amazing. Benoit climbs, Kane goes up with him. Benoit headbutts him off the ladder. Benoit's all alone up top. He can only use arm. Edge gets up with a chair and drills Benoit on the arm. Edge climbs up and wins it. Match was 16 minutes.
Analysis: ****1/2 Wow. This was awesome. They had the crowd in the palms of their hands from the moment the match started right until the end. The bumps were sick. The spots, especially Benjamin's, were innovative. Benoit's selling was awesome throughout the match. This was outstanding. Simply fantastic. Props to all men involved and the booking was perfect. Edge won, but it came off as cheap, so it works.
Eugene came out. He has a knee brace on, but otherwise looked normal. He talks about his Mania memories, saying "midgets are awesome." It's the greatest night of his life. Then Muhammad Hassan's music hits. Hassan asks Eugene why he's angry. Eugene says it's because he doesn't like midgets. Hassan hates being excluded. He does his usual spiel, then Daivari does his usual foreign language speak. Hassan says he was going to do create a WM moment of his own. He decks Eugene. He does the throat slash on Eugene (so much for that drawing heat) and puts him in the camel clutch. "Real American" strikes up and Hulk Hogan comes out in the red and yellow. Crowd is going bonkers. He slides in, they double team on Hogan. He rams their heads. He clotheslines Hassan, then hits the big boot. He chucks Hassan over the top to the floor. Daivari cracks him with the chair. Hogan does the point, the punches, hits a big boot, does the ear cup and chucks Daivari to the floor. The crowd is going crazy. Awesome stuff here. He rips the shirt, does the usual posing and the crowd eats it up with a big spoon. Does this mean he'll come back for another match, possibly against Hassan? Not sure, but I'm sure the rumors will be there. They showed his family at ringside, and former WCW champion David Arquette is at ringside too. It's still funny calling him a former champ. This was fun. Perfect way to use Hogan.
Undertaker vs. Randy Orton
My Pick: Undertaker
Long video package to start. Undertaker comes out first with the druids and the ominous music. For those wondering, Cole & Tazz are announcing this match. Undertaker doesn't walk to the ring. He glides down the aisle. It's like he's from the Jetsons. Cole compares Undertaker's streak of a team going 12-0 in Super Bowls. What, so you're telling me Undertaker vs. Giant Gonzalez was a Super Bowl now? Total time of entrance: 3 minutes, 20 seconds. Seems longer, doesn't it? Orton is out next. Mostly boos.
Orton dodges him to start. He slaps him, then Taker gets him in a headlock. Into the ropes, leapfrog and dropkick for Orton gets one. Backdrop doesn't keep him down long. Undertaker knocks him down with one punch. Back elbow in the corner, whip in, splash countered into a school boy. Orton goes for the RKO, but Undertaker dumps him over the top in a cool counter. Undertaker hits his patented legdrop on the apron. He gets an arm wringer and hits the old school top rope clothesline/punch on Orton's shoulder. He sets Orton up in the corner, goes for a kick but misses and goes over the top on the apron, then Orton knocks him to the ground. He beats on him on the floor, then they go back in and Orton hits a stiff clothesline for two. Into the ropes, Orton ducks and Undertaker hits the running DDT for two. Sidewalk slam gets two for Undertaker. Taker whips him in and hits two body splashes in the corner. Snake eyes in the corner, but Orton is able to cut Undertaker off by hitting him in the ribs with an elbow for two. Undertaker hits him with forearms in the chest a dozen times or so, then gets booed huge as Undertaker sits up. "Randy Sucks" chants as they throw punches, Orton went to clothesline him and Undertaker ran into him, knocking him down in a weird spot. Think they got their signals crossed there.
Undertaker locks in the dragon sleeper. Think of it as a reverse DDT, except you are holding the guy up during it while his back is bent. Orton's arm down twice, then up the third time and he counters into a hard DDT that gets two. Really good, crisp counter there. Orton sinks in a sleeper that gets countered into a back suplex for Undertaker. Orton charges in, eats boot, Undertaker charges and Orton hits him with a quick powerslam for two. Orton goes for the punches in the corner, which is the obvious setup for Undertaker's Last Ride powerbomb. Orton slips out, RKO countered with a shove into the ref. Last Ride by Undertaker, Orton slips out. Bob Orton comes in with the cast on his left hand and drills Undertaker. For those who don't know, Bob was famous for having the cast on his arm for years. He puts Randy on top. The ref comes to, that gets the long two in a nice non-finish. Undertaker up, Bob's on the apron and Undertaker kicks him in the face to the floor. Chokeslam for Undertaker, but Orton turns it into the RKO! Damn! Incredible spot! It's over, Cole says. Nope, Undertaker up at two. Another great nearfall. Orton goes for the Tombstone, but of course Undertaker counters it into one of his own. He lays the arms across for the one…two…three. 13-0 at Mania for Undertaker. Match was 14 minutes.
Analysis: ***1/2 This match was a lot better than I'm sure some expected. It had the perfect pace with Undertaker using his power, but Orton being able to counter everything he did. The RKO counter of a chokeslam was an incredible spot, I must say. The finish was fun with Undertaker kicking out of the RKO, but the finish was really strong with Undertaker winning clean with the Tombstone. Good stuff. There's still some gas left in the tank of Undertaker and Orton showed he's going to be really good as a performer if he isn't there already.
Women's Title: Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme
My Pick: Trish Stratus
We get the video package. Christy is out first with Lita. My girl Trish is next. Trish is spring a lovely new outfit with white on top, suspenders and some nice pants too. I heart this woman.
Trish mocks Christy to start in some fun spots. She boots Christy to the floor, then throws her back in. She whips Christy in to the corner, hitting a few chops. Trish does a Christy mock! Trish goes for a kick, Christy catches it, Lita on the apron and Christy kicks her in the…uh…groin. She covers for two. Trish comes backs with chops, then taunts Lita. She charges in, Christy leaps over and hits a sunset flip for two, then Trish tackles her. She pats herself on the back, then kicks her to the floor. Trish shoves Lita away from Christy, then in the ring Lita distracts her and Christy gets a rollup for two. She kicks Trish in the knee three times, then in the gut and rams her headfirst into the turnbuckle many times. She whips her down hair first. Twist of Fate for Christy gets two. Christy throws punches now. Hey, she's not bad. Trish rolls her up, Christy counters that for a nearfall. Trish kicks her in the head with a Chick Kick and the win after 5 minutes.
Winner: Trish Stratus
Analysis: * Quick match as expected. Christy certainly didn't make a fool of herself, so that's good. She looked pretty good. I'm sure this isn't over yet.
Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle
My Pick: Shawn Michaels
This is the match I'm most looking forward to. Long video package to start. Usual greatness. Michaels is out first. Angle is next. I'm so excited for this, man. I love it. Two of my all-time favorites. Ross & Lawler announcing. Smackdown's Brian Hebner refereeing.
Michaels slaps him at the start. Angle waistlocks him all over, so Michaels grabs ropes. Headlock for Michaels on the mat. To their knees now, Angle hits a suplex, but Michaels holds on to it. Michaels has him in the headlock for a good two minutes with Angle trying to fight out. Some small Angle chants start up. To their feet now, Angle breaks it in the corner. Waistlock for Angle, Michaels takes him down with a side headlock again. Back elbow for Angle, shoulder takedown and Michaels gets him with a hip toss, then a short arm scissors on Angle's left arm. Angle fights out, Michaels with a cradle for two, then a backslide for two and other side headlock to the mat. Five minutes in, they're going at a slow pace, so it's probably going to be a thirty minute match or so. In the corner, Michaels slugs away, Angle grabs his hair, punches him in the back and goes for the ankle lock. Michaels kicks out of that, then clotheslines Angle over the top to the floor. He starts clearing the Smackdown announce table. He rolls in to break the count, so Angle clubs him with forearms when he comes out. Vertical suplex for Angle countered by Michaels, then Angle sets him up for the Angle Slam and puts Michaels back first into the ringpost. Damn. Never seen that before. Sick spot.
Back in the ring, Angle hits a suplex for two. Time to work on the back. Leg scissors on the body for Angle. Michaels gets up chopping Angle into the corner. He whips him in, Michaels flips over and does his back bump, then walks right into an overhead belly to belly suplex from Angle, then a second one for two. Angle digs his right knee in the back, then pulls up on Michaels' chin in a familiar hold. Michaels fights back some more with chops, so Angle punches him and after a Michaels slap he gets decked by a hard Angle clothesline. Angle props Michaels up on the top rope, goes for a top rope belly to belly, but Michaels shoves him off. He climbs to the top, elbow drop misses everything. Angle pulls down the straps. Angle slam countered into an armdrag, which is always a nice spot. Angle charges in and Michaels backdrops him over the top to the floor as Angle lands on his knees, which is a smart way to take that bump. Michaels to the top, he hits a crossbody onto Angle on the floor and his knee ends up hitting Angle right in the mouth. Angle gets up, goes to suplex Michaels German suplex style through the table. Michaels hangs on to the ropes. Low blow from Michaels, the ref couldn't see it because he was looking at their faces. We're 15 minutes into the match now.
Michaels kicks Angle onto the table. With Angle laying on it, Michaels hits a springboard moonsault onto Angle. The table did not break. Lawler mentioned that the tables have been reinforced because of all the tables that get broken at shows. Either that or they just didn't get the momentum to break it. Still a really cool spot. They both crawl into the ring on opposite sides at the nine count, which of course was really slow. They meet in the center on their knees with both guys bleeding from the mouth. Michaels with punches, chops and the flying forearm, then the kip up. Right hands, atomic drop, clothesline and the bodyslam in the center. To the top, the elbow drop hits in this time. He stumbles into the corner, warming up for the superkick. The superkick attempt is caught by Angle in the Ankle Lock. Crowd is going nuts. Michaels rolls through, but Angle holds on to it. Thirty seconds in, Michaels reaches ropes. Some of the crowd boos.
Angle wants him up, Angle Slam is countered into a rollup, but now Angle rolls through for an Ankle Lock. Michaels roll up, Angle kicks out, superkick caught into an Angle Slam this time. He delays a second, then covers for two. He puts the straps up, then down again and goes for his moonsault. He gets huge height on it, but Michaels rolls out of it. He nearly hit him with the top of his head. So close. Now Michaels to the top and Angle hits the running Angle Slam off the top! One…two…no! Wow. I thought that was it. So did the crowd. Amazing. He picks him up by the hair, talked a lot of trash ("tap out Shawn!") and Michaels separates, then hits a sweet superkick, but he's out too. They're both out. Michaels crawls over about 20 seconds after the move, drapes an arm across and that gets 2.99999 as Angle got his shoulder up. So damn close. Lawler and Ross question the speed of the Smackdown referee's count. Michaels is stumbling, Angle is playing possum and slaps in the ankle lock again out of nowhere on Shawn's left leg. Michaels tries to fight out with kicks not once but twice and Angle holds on. He pulls him the center. He's been in the hold for a good minute now. Now Angle goes down on the heel hook position. Michaels is going for ropes, fighting it and yelling at the top of his lungs. He's close to the ropes, almost taps out. But no. Then he taps after what had to be like two minutes. Wow. Match was 27 minutes.
Winner: Kurt Angle
Post match, the crowd gives them a standing ovation, and HBK gets one of his own at the end.
Analysis: ***** OH HELL YEAH! Wow. This was amazing. This did live up to the hype. This did meet all expectations. This did deliver the goods the way we all hoped it would. My God. The amount of counter holds seen in this match were unreal. It was wrestling at its absolute best. Amazing stuff here. I can't say it enough. The drama in this match was unreal. You didn't know when it was going to end. There was incredible spot after incredible spot here. Finishers kicked out of, drama at the end, and everything you want in a match. The match time was great, the pacing was really good because it built up to the end and the last ten minutes were as good a finish to a match that you can have. Thank you Shawn. Thank you Kurt. That was an epic.
They show the Basic Instinct commercial because Stacy won best female. Moolah and Young are in the crowd.
Piper's Pit with Steve Austin
The bagpipes play and here comes Roddy Piper. He said thanks for the Hall of Fame, then went into talking about why he wanted Austin for this. He calls him a rebel and other such things. He said "bullshit" when it came to Austin being the biggest rebel, that he had to see it for himself. Austin comes down wearing an "Unleash Hell" shirt to a huge pop. He grabs a microphone as the Austin chants begin. "Welcome to Piper's Pit" and then Austin gets slapped. He's not happy that Austin gets all this talk about being so tough. "Thanks a lot for having me you little son of a bitch" says Austin, then he slaps him. Piper says he likes him and he respects. WHAT? "Are you deaf?" He doesn't like the WHAT? Chant. He talks fast about Vince, then he tells the crowd to keep up with him on the WHAT? chants. Ha, classic. WHAT? "If you shut up and listen, I'll tell ya." Piper says he was pissing Vince McMahon off when the red on Austin's neck was "diaper rash, baby." He says a rebel Austin has nothing on him. Austin calls him a melee mouth bastard, then says he doesn't trust anybody, much less Piper. He goes over Piper's outfit to lead to the WHAT? chants after every one. He's not scared. Piper says they have a problem communicating.
Carlito Cool comes out! WOO! He says neither of them is cool. He says nobody wants to see them, everybody wants to see Carlito, so they invite him in. Piper asks him who he is. He says Cool likes Alfalfa. Carlito says he's taking charge and that's cool. He would appreciate it if they would just walk to the back. If they got a problem with that, then he bounces the apple and Piper bites his apple, then spits it in his face after many bites. Cool attacks Piper with some fists. Austin is smiling for a second, then he whips Carlito in the turnbuckle, stomping that mudhole of his. Piper with the eye poke, then a Stunner on Carlito. Piper chucks him over the top. Austin gets the beers and shares some with Piper. They share a couple of beers. More like several couple. Piper is stumbling around, looking hammered and predictably takes a Stunner from Austin. Fun segment. Like the Hogan thing, it was nice to see because it has a place at WrestleMania considering all they've done in the past.
Favorite trailer as voted by you is Taxi Driver and we see that.
Sumo Match: Big Show vs. Akebono
My Pick: Akebono
Rules are you can win by either pushing the person out of the ring or knocking them off their feet. Akebono is out first. Show is next, sporting a sumo style robe. The crowd isn't that excited. There's a circle in the ring, and the ropes have been removed. They wear the traditional sumo garb, due the regular sumo poses and the match is ready to go. They then go to their corners to toss salt in the ring, which is tradition. More stalling as they do a stare down. Crowd doesn't know how to react.
They start shoving early on, then separate, they're close to the line, grabbing eachother by the waist, shoulder blocks and they both stop. Show does the chokeslam sign, Show lifts him, but Akebono shoves him out of the ring to the floor.
Match was about a minute. Can't really give it a star rating. It was fine. Nothing special. How can you rate a sumo match, you know? Show shakes his hand after the match. Some people wonder if it was work or shoot. Definitely a work. You can tell.
WWE Championship: JBL vs. John Cena
My Pick: John Cena
We get the long video package to start, as expected. JBL is first and he gets a police escort. Money comes from the ceiling and it's got JBL's face on it. Try using it, see what happens. He sends Orlando to the back in the limo, so he's out there alone. They talk about JBL's big wins as champion as if nobody paid to see them. I'll leave the joke there for you. Cena is out next to a massive pop. Broomers (aka people with brooms) clean out the ring of the bills in there.
Lockup to start. They run into the ropes, Cena gets a shoulder knockdown, JBL with a boot and shoulder tackle. Cena into the corner. JBL kicks him around a bit, then hits a swinging neckbreaker and another one for two. JBL chokes him in the ropes, then slingshots him neck first into the middle rope. Cena boots him in the face, then charges in and takes a hard Spinebuster in the middle from JBL that gets two. Another neckbreaker for JBL gets two, then he boots Cena in the face. Corner whip, then a big clothesline in the corner. I guess that clothesline did not come from hell. Short arm clothesline gets two as Cena gets ropes. Snapmare, then he forearms Cena in the spine, working over that back some more. Sleeper hold. The crowd is quiet by this point and this isn't helping. Back suplex for Cena leads to a five count double knockout spot, then a double clothesline puts them down some more. We're only seven minutes in and they're already doing double knockout spots? Why the rush, there's still an hour to go.
Out on the floor, JBL hits his fourth neckbreaker of the match. That gets two. Cole theorisizes that it's to weaken Cena for the Clothesline from Hell, which makes sense. JBL sets him on the top, then hits him with punches and nails a nice superplex off the top for two. Crowd either didn't buy that nearfall, or they're just not into this match. JBL goes to the top rope, which of course leads to nothing but good things as Cena catches him and powerslams him. Clotheslines from Cena and here comes the crowd with him. Back bodydrop, shoulder tackle, hip toss and spinning sideslam from Cena. Five knuckle shuffle time for Cena. He charges in, JBL gets the boot up. Clothesline from Hell, Cena ducks and hits the FU for the one…two…three. Match was ten minutes. Cena is the new WWE Champion.
Winner: John Cena
Post match, Cena celebrates with the fans.
Analysis: *1/4 Very underwhelming match. I was shocked by how short it was. I mean, come on, this was a major title match and they barely got ten minutes? That's not right. I don't understand why it was rushed so much. That's part of the reason why the crowd was pretty quiet. There weren't many nearfalls here. I'm shocked at how short this was. It came off like a TV match, even a short one.
We then see clips of last night's Hall of Fame ceremony. Then they bring out the Hall of Famers to stand at the ramp. Some of the WWE Divas who are doing nothing at the show are the ones that accompany them onto the stage. Not surprisingly, Hogan gets the loudest ovation.
They showed a video package for next year's WrestleMania, which will be on April 2nd in Chicago.
It's now 10:15pm as we go to the video package for the HHH vs. Batista match, which will be the last match of the night.
World Heavyweight Title: Triple H vs. Batista
My Pick: Batista
We got the video package. JR and Lawler talked about the match, hyping it up as you'd expect. Motorhead started playing HHH's song as HHH came out from under the stage, popping up right beside the lead singer. That was cool. I guess champions coming out last isn't the trend anymore, huh? Flair was in the ring when the song was done. Batista came out to a really good pop, as expected. They did a staredown to start.
Big lockup in the middle that lasts a while, so the crowd chants "WOO" because I guess they were tired of it. Another lockup, but this time Batista shoves HHH off. Whip into the ropes, Batista knocks him over with a shoulder block. They do some rope running, but it ends with Batista giving HHH a gorilla press. Batista whips him in, HHH with a back elbow, Batista catches him and pounds the hell out of him in the corner. Into the ropes, back bodydrop by Batista. Another whip, clothesline is ducked and HHH hits the high knee on him, sending Batista to the floor. Ref counts him out on the floor. Chioda stops Flair from interfering, but then HHH whips him into the steps. Now HHH gets the advantage, Flair chokes him with his jacket and HHH rams him rib first into the barrier at ringside. HHH knees him in the back some more. Suplex gets two. More choking from Flair, then HHH drops him neck first on the top rope. In the corner, Batista comes back with forearms and goes into the ropes, but HHH hits him with a huge Spinebuster that gets a two count three times. Neckbreaker gets two. Batista fights back, HHH goes for a Pedigree, but Batista backdrops him out. Whip in, Batista ducks and HHH hits the facebuster for two as Batista kicks him out all the way to the floor. HHH to the top, goes for something that I guess was a clothesline, but Batista clotheslines him down. Into the ropes, sidewalk slam gets two. With HHH in the corner, Batista charges and eats another boot. Batista counters a whip by holding onto the corner, then whips HHH into the corner and HHH takes his usual bump over the top over the floor.
On the floor, HHH whips Batista into the ring steps shoulder first. He goes in the ring to break the ten count. Pedigree on the steps countered into the slingshot into the ring post, leading to HHH bleeding. Not the first time we've seen those series of spots, but it works, you know? As always with HHH, it's a nice cut. Batista whips him face first into the steps several times. Into the ring, Batista hits some clubbing forearms right on HHH's head, then he boots him hard in the head. In the corner, he hits a couple of clotheslines, then a shoulderblock. Another charge into the corner and a big clothesline sends HHH down this time. Powerslam for Batista gets two, but it was weak because he didn't hit the move that well. Flair's on the floor going after Batista, but he takes care of him. HHH goes to chair Batista, but the ref takes it from him. Ref is now down. Mike Chioda seemed to have hurt his knee legit out on the floor Flair comes in with the title and eats a Spinebuster for his troubles. HHH gets the belt and drills Batista in the head as the ref throws Flair out of the ring. That gets two in a good nearfall. HHH charges in, Batista hits a Spinebuster. Batista Bomb time countered by a low blow, but the ref doesn't see it because he's still hurting in the corner. Pedigree for HH, but he can't lift him, he breaks the hands and reverses it with a version of a sideslam. Thumbs down time for Batista. Batista Bomb hits for the one…two…three. Clean finish. Match was 22 minutes. New world champion.
Analysis: *** I liked the booking of this match a lot because it really made Batista strong. HHH had some offense early on, but once Batista starting getting the momentum there was very little in the way of comebacks from HHH. Good match. Not great, but it was above average and that's always nice to see at the end of the show.
Video package highlighting the night ended the show.
FINAL THOUGHTS AND ANALYSIS
Best Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle - *****
Worst Match: Big Show vs. Akebono - No rating for sumo matches.
The highlight of this night was undoubtedly the Angle/Michaels match. I believe it's a match you can look at as a reason to point out why you are a fan of this business. It wasn't a match that relied on high spots or crazy bumps to sink you in. It was a match that told a story. You saw Michaels try to ground Angle early on, slowing the pace down and keeping himself from being caught up in Angle's arsenal of moves. Then the pace picked up with Angle hitting Michaels with everything he had. They kicked out of finishers, they did some counter wrestling that was flawless and they built to a finish that, especially for the last ten minutes, was as good as any finish I could ever remember. Wrestling doesn't have to be about guys killing themselves going into tables and whatnot. Yeah, they did that one in this match, but it wasn't the story. The story was that neither guy would quit and the only reason Michaels quit at the end was because the pain was excruciating. I loved that match. As I said earlier, it did live up to the hype.
Second best match was undoubtedly the ladder match. Again, that lived up to the hype. They were able to put some spots in there that we haven't seen before in WWE ladder matches. I think the star there was undoubtedly Shelton Benjamin, who had four or five moments in the match that made you say "wow" because of how athletic he is. Benoit was also phenomenal with the way he sold that left arm. Good booking there too.
I had two matches at ***1/2, with Guerrero/Mysterio being a match that pretty much lived up to expectations. We thought that if they got more than twenty minutes that they could have stole the show, but since it was less than that it just came off as a really good midcard match. Still, it should be remembered as one of the better opening matches in WrestleMania history, although obviously not on the level of Hart/Hart at WM10.
Orton/Undertaker was pretty damn good, I have to say. I thought it would be around the three star level, but it turned out to be higher than that. This is the kind of match Undertaker needs to have more often. That stuff he did with JBL and Heidenreich was just garbage. Even if you like Undertaker, I don't think you could have liked that stuff. My point is, he doesn't always have to work with the big guys. He's at his best with the more athletic opponents, so they need to do that more with him. What I liked best about this match is that it was even throughout. They took turns with the advantage and they did some counter wrestling that worked. The crowd was into it. It just really worked. Good job by both men. And if you're one of those people that emails me complaining about how I'm unfair to Undertaker, know that I thought he was pretty damn good tonight. I just hate how they book him in general, that's all. I'm not doubting his talent so much, it's the gimmick that I feel is past its expiry date.
The world title match was exactly what it should have been. They put Batista over strong, which is how he has been booked for several months now. I'm interested in seeing where they go from here in terms of the title. Is HHH going to get a rematch, or do they go with Edge? Should be interesting to see how it goes. As I said in the analysis, it was a pretty good match. Not great, but not bad either.
I'm disappointed in how short the WWE title match was. It makes Smackdown look bush league, which is already an impression that most fans have of the show. They needed a longer match here. The line about them having limitations won't work. Should have let them brawl.
The use of the likes of Austin, Hogan and Piper was fun. I liked everything that those guys did. They had some fun moments that the crowd was into and it was easy to get into watching it at home too. It was also cool to see current stars like Hassan and Carlito get mixed in with the legends.
The women's title and sumo matches were pretty much what I expected. That's not a bad thing.
Six Stars of the Night
It was going to be five, but I put six just for the hell of it.
6. Undertaker - No disrespect to Orton, but since Undertaker is the veteran he likely called the match and did a great job of it. This was Undertaker's best match since he returned as the "man from the dark side" last year.
5. Triple H - He really did a good job in terms of making Batista look good. His bladejob was the usual awesome effort from him.
4. Chris Benoit - He was really great in the match simply based on the way he didn't use that arm of his. He came in with those stitches from Raw, yet he still did that sick headbutt off the ladder and took that sick shot in the arm from Edge's chairshot.
3. Shelton Benjamin - Phenomenal athleticism through the whole match. Even though he didn't win the match, he emerged from it looking the like the biggest star.
1b. Shawn Michaels - He said he'd do a classic with Kurt Angle and that's what he did. It did live up to the hype. I'm sure his haters are shocked that he tapped out clean, but it isn't the first time. He was great.
1a. Kurt Angle - Just like Shawn, he was great too. I'm hoping it wasn't his last match. I'm guessing it's not. How many times can I say it? I loved the match.
Overall, this was a great show. Look at the match ratings. I've got one five star match, which is as good as you can get. Then I've got a match over four stars and three other matches over three stars. That's five matches over three stars. That's damn good. This was a great show by any standard, not just WrestleMania matches. There was a little bit for everybody. The new champions deserve their belts, we saw a classic match featuring bonafide legends, it had a good opener, a nice veteran-youngster match in Undertaker/Orton and plenty of nostalgia with the likes of Hogan, Austin and Piper playing big roles. Great f'n show. How else can I say it? Money well spent.
9 out of 10. One of the five best WrestleMania's ever. Easy.
Thoughts? Comments? Reaction to WrestleMania? Let me know. I may do some sort of feedback column about it because I feel like writing more about Angle/Michaels anyway in the coming days. Send all feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and I will respond to you as soon as possible.
Thanks for reading. It was fun.