Los Angeles, CA
Approx 21,000 in attendance
Announce team: Jim Ross & Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler (RAW) / Michael Cole & Tazz (SmackDown!)
Champions going in
WWE Champion John Bradshaw Layfield
WWE United States Champion Orlando Jordan
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Paul London
WWE Tag Team Champions Eddie Guerrero & Rey Mysterio
World Heavyweight Champion Triple H
WWE Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjamin
WWE Women’s Champion Trish Stratus
World Tag Team Champions Tajiri & William Regal
Quick note: I’m changing the rating system from alphabetical grades to a score of 10. I find the ABCs to be more inconsistent than numbers. Easier to math out a proper overall grade for an event too.
I’m going to review some old Attitude Era PPVs and some WCW events soon too, probably after Night of Champions this weekend.
Lillian Garcia kicks us off with the National Anthem. I’m not American so this doesn’t really touch me in any real way. When I first started wrestling locally, the promoter I worked for insisted on having his overweight cousin come out and sing Advance Australia Fair. She had an awful singing voice and looked on the verge of tears while singing out the anthem out of tune, all I could picture was the promoter screaming at her in the back “you will go out there and sing the National Anthem! And it’ll be patriotic! And the crowd will pop big time!!!” I felt like everyone stood up and stayed quiet out of sympathy and not out of any kind of patriotic feelings. But anyway, I digress.
I really liked the ‘Wrestlemania Goes Hollywood’ theme, all the WWE parodies of popular movies were great. Kurt Angle’s Billy Crystal impression is excellent, and The Undertaker as Dirty Harry – gold. A short parodying Gladiator is premiered at the start of the show, with Stone Cold Steve Austin playing the role of Gladiator. It’s a cool clip and Austin’s line – “tonight, I unleash hell!” gets a nice pop out of the crowd. It would have been more effective if Austin actually had some kind of match on the card and not just a segment in Piper’s Pit. But eh, whatcha gonna do?
Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio
This was before the “I’m your papi” part of the feud. This match is more about seeing who the better wrestler is, and has nothing to do with custody of Dominick.
Eddie and Rey lock up. Eddie gets a side headlock takedown. Eddie moves to the arm with an arm wringer. Fireman’s carry takedown, but Rey lands on his feet and hits a jumping shoulder block. He runs the ropes and right into a fast arm drag. Rey comes back with a sunset flip over the shoulders, but Eddie rolls out and catapults Rey over the top rope. Eddie goes for a baseball slide, but Rey runs in the ring and goes for a 619 with Eddie near the apron, but he misses.
Back in the ring, test of strength, Rey hits a monkey flip. Eddie comes back with a top wrist lock. Rey fights out. Fast paced running the ropes. Rey leap frogs Eddie and gives him a monkey flip across the ring. Eddie back drops Rey over the apron and hits a plancha for a nice pop.
Eddie goes for a pin in the ring and gets two. He puts Eddie in a surfboard stretch. Rey gets to his feet but Eddie hits a back suplex for the one count.
Eddie locks in a beautiful Mexican Surfboard in the middle of the ring. Honestly, that’s such a brutal looking submission move, why don’t more guys try and use it in matches? Eddie’s shoulders are down on the mat and the ref starts counting so Eddie releases the hold. STF on Rey but Eddie’s non-committal and goes into a hammer lock instead.
Snapmare reversal, but Eddie lifts Rey who flips behind him and hits a cool arm drag. Eddie rolls out of the ring and Rey follows up with a corkscrew plancha. Back in the ring, Rey hits a springboard seated senton but runs into a back elbow. Three amigos time, but Rey counters the second one into a roll up for two.
Eddie hits a back suplex into a backbreaker for the near fall. Nice move. Three amigos, but Rey counters onto Eddie’s shoulders on the third attempt, stops to adjust his mask, then continues to counter with a headscissors setting Eddie up on the second rope. 619 misses and Rey runs into a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a near fall.
Three amigos on Rey finally work and Eddie goes up top, but he JUST misses the Frog Splash. Rey tries a La Magistral, but Eddie reverses into a pin of his own for a near fall. Rey hits a few kicks to the chest. Hurracanrana attempt, but Eddie shoves Rey off onto his feet. Drop toe hold and Rey nails the 619. West Coast Pop attempt, but Eddie counters into a big powerbomb for a near fall. Rey hits a back elbow to Eddie then hits a hurracanrana into a pin for the sudden three count.
After the bell rings, Eddie looks a bit peeved at the loss but still shakes Rey’s hand.
A very, very solid opener. Barring Bret versus Owen - this is about as good of a Wrestlemania opener as you can get. However, I had a few gripes. There were some uninspired slow spots. I love mat-based wrestling, when there’s a point to it, but Eddie just seemed to be going from one submission into another without any reason. Rey never seemed to actually power out of any and never seemed to be in danger of actually tapping, so it just seemed a bit sloppy to go from an STF into a hammerlock with no point. It wasn’t exactly Halloween Havoc, but it was still tight and enjoyable and it’s refreshing to see a match between two babyfaces who are aiming to just put on a good show.
JBL and his entourage are walking backstage, they bump into Triple H and Flair – the leftovers of Evolution. They exchange some salty words and mock each other. I don’t know why, but I loved the occasional pay-per-view run-ins between them both when they were champions. They’re both so hateable.
JR and the King talk about the “stars of Wrestlemania” as the camera zooms in on Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider. Ugh, this PPV just went down in value by showing Rob Schneider’s mug on TV.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Edge vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Kane vs. Christian with Tyson Tomko
Nice historical note here, this was the first ever Money in the Bank Ladder match. I wonder if they ever thought this would actually take off in the way it has been. Fast forward almost ten years later and Money in the Bank has its own pay-per-view and has become a long-term tradition.
I loved the effect with Kane’s entrance and all the ladders igniting. SO cool to see. Flashback to 15-year-old me watching this, I remember really pulling for Christian here. Captain Charisma deserved a push damn it!!!
On Kane’s way to the ring, everyone tries to take out Kane, using the “one at a time” method. Kane destroys everyone on the ramp. Benjamin and Benoit catch up and deliver a double vertical suplex to Kane at ringside.
Jericho slingshots a ladder in Christian’s face in the ring. Benjamin and Jericho go at it one on one in the ring. Jericho hits a running bulldog on Benjamin, then knocks Edge and Benoit off the apron with a springboard dropkick, before flattening Edge with a crossbody plancha. Christian hits a springboard crossbody on Benoit, Edge and Jericho at ringside. Benjamin runs in and does a somersault plancha on everyone at ringside. Kane leaps off the top rope and topples everyone at ringside, getting a well deserved “Holy Shit” chant.
Kane gets in the ring with a ladder and uses it as a weapon on Edge and Christian. Jericho comes off and hits a missile dropkick into the ladder into Kane.
Jericho’s in charge now and uses the ladder as a battering ram on Shelton Benjamin. Jericho knocks down Edge with the ladder. Benoit comes in and German suplexes Jericho, who tosses the ladder out of the ring.
Benoit tries to climb the ladder in the ring. Kane comes in and tries to Chokeslam Benoit off the ladder, but he reverses it into the Crossface. Edge knocks Benoit off, but Benoit locks Edge into the Crossface. Kane rams the ladder into Benoit’s face, releasing the hold, then sandwiches Benoit’s left arm inside the ladder. Edge hits a Spear on Kane!
Edge and Christian both have ladders and squash Kane in between them. Benjamin comes in with a springboard double clothesline on E & C.
My favourite spot in the match so far – Benjamin goes for a super kick on Edge, Edge spins him and Benjamin ends up dragon kicking a ladder into Christian’s face. So tight!
Edge sets a ladder up in the corner and whips Benjamin right into it. He sets him up for a Spear, but Benjamin flapjacks Edge into the ladder. Nice “Shelton” chant.
Shelton sets Edge up against the ladder and hits with a stinger splash into Edge and the ladder. Shelton Benjamin is to Money in the Bank as Kofi Kingston is to the Royal Rumble.
Benjamin climbs the ladder and has his hands on the briefcase, but Jericho climbs up and hammers away at him. Christian sets a ladder up next to him and climbs up, but Benoit fights him at the top. Edge sets up a third ladder and tries to sneak in the backdoor. Five men are all fighting at the tops of the ladders. Christian seems to hit an arm breaker off the ladder on Benoit. Jericho gets tossed off the top of the ladder. It’s only Benjamin and Edge left now. Benjamin hits with the T-Bone Suplex off the top of the ladder, so good!
Jericho drops a ladder over Edge and Benjamin. Jericho is the only man up now. He begins a slow climb, but Christian sets up a ladder, leaning against the ladder that is currently up in the ring. Jericho gets close to the top and has the briefcase in arms reach. Benjamin runs up the leaned ladder and hits a clothesline on Jericho at the top of the ladder. Seriously, they should call an audible and let Benjamin win because of that. New favourite spot.
Benjamin climbs up the top and has his hands on the briefcase, but Christian knocks him down with a ladder to the chest. Kane comes in and knocks down Christian. He Chokeslams Benjamin out of the ring but his foot gets caught in the ropes, nasty.
Tomko gets involved and boots Kane down and he starts helping Christian up the ladder, putting Captain Charisma on his shoulders. Kane interferes and clotheslines Tomko out of the ring. Kane shoves the ladder over and Christian lands on Tomko at ringside.
Kane gets to the top of the ladder and has the briefcase, but Jericho rushes in with right hands. The ladder topples over under their weight, Jericho bounces out of the ring and Kane falls back into the ring.
Benoit gets back in and I almost forgot he was in this match. Benoit props a ladder up in the corner, gets to the top of the ladder and hits Kane with a flying headbutt off the top! Benoit is busted wide open!
Benoit sets a ladder up in the middle of the ring amongst “Benoit” chants. Kane sits up and climbs the ladder with Benoit. They fight at the top of the ladder. Kane goes for a Chokeslam, but Benoit headbutts his way out of it. Kane falls off the ladder and Benoit’s going to go for the briefcase, but Edge comes in and nails Benoit in the arm with a steel chair. Edge retrieves the briefcase and makes history.
Holy shit what an amazing match, and it’s aged beautifully. Sure it was a spotfest, but it was an exciting as fuck spotfest that actually even had some psychology in it! Kane crushing Benoit’s arm with the ladder at the start of the match ended up impacting the finish, with Edge hitting the same arm with the chair. That kind of forward thinking and selling is almost unheard of in most of these kinds of matches. My criticism of MITB and TLC type matches is that’s its all spectacle and no substance. This had subtance. Absolutely fantastic and enjoyable performance, I would watch this non-stop and never get bored of it.
Eugene comes out to the ring, still recovering from his knee injury. He gets a bit of a mixed reaction. Eugene starts talking jibberish and seems to be getting some heat for himself and I don’t even know if it’s on purpose.
Out comes Muhammad Hassan and Daivari. Hassan’s shitty that he’s left off the Wrestlemania card, so he’s going to make a ‘Wrestlemania Moment’ for himself. He puts Eugene in the camel clutch while Daivari shouts foreign obscenities over the microphone.
‘Real American’ hits and outcomes Hulk Hogan, and the audience collectively creams themselves. Hogan comes in and clears house with big boots for Hassan and Daivari. The crowd pops massively for the Hulkster who does his thang in the ring.
Randy Orton vs. The Undertaker
I think this was essentially just a continuation of Orton’s Legend Killer gimmick. He’d “killed” the legend of Shawn Michaels, Mick Foley, Sgt. Slaughter, Jake Roberts, Jerry Lawler and a bunch of others. The Undertaker was on his hit list though. Undertaker is 12 – 0 here, so the streak is starting to get some real traction. I never quite understood the reason for bringing Bob Orton into this story though. He didn’t really add much cheap heat for Randy, if anything he kind of made Randy a bit less credible in the ring in my view. But that’s just me. And I guess I can see having him appear here since Bob was inducted in the ‘05 Hall of Fame.
The Undertaker’s entrance is quite cool and eerie. He has his druids around the ring with torches, and Taker seems to almost float to the ring, obviously on a wheel board of some kind.
Taker corners Orton, but Orton slips out and bitch slaps the Dead Man. Taker throws on a headlock. Orton comes back with a dropkick and a high back body drop. He leap frogs over Taker, but he puts the brakes on and belts Orton down. He hits him with the old soup bones in the corner. Undertaker rushes Orton in the corner, but he rolls him up with a sunset flip for two. Orton goes for an RKO, but Taker dumps him over the top rope.
Taker puts Orton on the apron and hits some ‘vintage Undertaker’ with a big leg drop over the head. Old School time, and it’s a bit botched as Orton just sort of crumbles in a heap. Taker goes for a running big boot, but Orton ducks Taker gets crotched on the top rope. Orton knocks him to ringside and Taker goes head first into the barricade.
Orton brings the Dead Man back in the ring and takes control with a European uppercut and some hard right hands. Clothesline gets two. Orton goes for the back body drop, but Undertaker comes back with the running DDT. Sloppy pin by Taker gets two. Big sidewalk slam by Taker for two. It’s been pretty back and forth so far, which is neat.
Taker with the splashes on Orton in the corner. Snake eyes! Taker goes for the running boot, but Orton hits him with a jumping back elbow for the two count. Orton starts nailing Taker with some forearms to the chest. Taker sits up and Orton goes at it with rights and lefts.
“Randy sucks” chant as Orton continues to brawl around the ring. Taker comes back with a big right hand. Undertaker runs the ropes and hits a clothesline, Orton also puts him arm out for a clothesline, but still sells Taker’s clothesline. Bit of a fuck up on Orton’s part there.
TCB time, Taker locks the Dragon Sleeper on Orton. Hebner starts dropping the arm but Orton keeps it up at three in babyface fashion. He reverses into a quick DDT for the near fall.
Classic Orton, he slaps a chin lock on, but Undertaker punches his way out. Orton comes back with a sleeper hold. Taker reverses with a back suplex. Orton runs into a big boot from Taker but Taker runs into a power slam for two.
Orton hits with a European uppercut in the corner and mounted punches. Taker comes out with the Last Ride attempt! But Orton lands behind Taker, Taker shoves Orton into the ref. Taker goes for the Last Ride again, this time it’s completely botched and Orton lands on his face somehow. Cowboy Bob runs out and nails Taker with the cast, Orton pins and gets a very near fall. Taker sits up and brawls with Randy. Cowboy Bob gets on the apron, and Randy sends Taker into him, but Taker knocks him off the apron with a big boot. Taker goes for the Chokeslam, but Orton counters in midair with an RKO! Pin gets a near fall and the crowd goes nuts.
Orton goes for a Tombstone Piledriver, but Taker reverses it into the real Tombstone for the three count.
Really good encounter and The Undertaker goes 13 – 0. Taker comes out looking good, and you know, even though Orton didn’t win - this still helped him. Especially after jobbing to Triple H for the last six months. His Undertaker feud got Orton back on track and was a return to form for him. This match wasn’t without its flaws, there were definitely some sloppy moments and bumps which can be attributed to Orton. But ultimately there was enough good here in the match.
WWE Women’s Championship
Trish Stratus © vs. Christy Hemme with Lita
Ugh, this is why injuries suck. This match should have been the epic conclusion to the amazing Trish and Lita feud. Lita busted her ACL at New Year’s Revolution which is why we’re stuck with a Diva Search contestant in a match.
Trish shoves Christy down. They go for the lock up and Trish just shoves her down again. Trish stomps her and for some reason she bounces out of the ring. Trish throws Christy into the ring steps. Trish just more or less plays around with Christy. Trish hits with knife edge chops on Christy. Trish goes for the Chick Kick, but Christy catches her leg and hits with a low blow, I don’t know how effective it is. Pin gets two.
Awkward “what do we do now moment?” on the ropes. Trish goes back to chopping her. Christy hits with an okay sunset flip from the corner for a near fall. Trish comes back with a Spear.
Trish kicks Christy out of the ring. Trish cheapshots Lita and shoves her into the barricade.
Lita distracts Trish in the ring and Christy gets a roll up for a near fall.
Christy with some sloppy leg sweeps and Trish wants mercy. Christy nails the reverse Twist of Fate for a near fall.
Christy delivers some of the worst punches you’ll ever see. Trish with a roll up, Christy reverses the roll up and almost gets three. Trish hits the Chick Kick for the three count.
Christy Hemme had no place trying to work an actual match. She is a great poster girl and example of the WWE’s obsession with hiring bimbos and women that look good over women who work hard and have in-ring ability. Sure - guys like seeing the good looking gals in skimpy clothes. But we’d much rather a girl that can wrestle and has some respect for the sport.
I know they had to go to Plan B since Lita wasn’t able to wrestle after the NYR injury. But did Plan B have to be a non-wrestler? They had Victoria and Molly Holly on the payroll. Sure, we’ve seen those matches plenty in the past, but it would have been much better than watching Trish treat Christy like a joke in the ring. On top of that - the story is bad and only served to damage and bury Christy anyway. JR frequently reminded us that “Christy is inexperienced” and that Trish is a six-time Women’s Champion. Trish treated Christy like a non-threat during the build up and basically toyed with her in the match, treating her like she didn’t belong in the ring. The end result? Christy’s vast weaknesses with exposed and proved that she didn’t belong in the ring. This whole feud was an incredibly redundant exercise. But just stop and think of the Trish versus Lita main event from Raw for a minute, and imagine that on a Wrestlemania card. The things that could have been.
Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels
JR says Michaels has the edge in experience, as though Kurt Angle’s 5+ years of pro wrestling experience and his gold medal mean nothing in comparison.
Slap to Angle starts the match and Angle gets an aggressive takedown. Some tight shoot wrestling around the mat and Michaels has to panic to grab the ropes. It’s nice to see Douchebag Michaels come out and supersede Reborn Michaels every now and then.
“You screwed Bret” chants at Michaels. Got him!
HBK gets a side headlock takedown and keeps the headlock cinched in. Angle occasionally tries to roll back into a pin but Michaels goes back into the headlock. Angle hits a back suplex, but Michaels doesn’t let go of the headlock. Michaels with a shoulder block and another headlock takedown. He rolls HBK back into a pin and the ref counts, even though one of his shoulders is clearly off the mat.
“Let’s go Angle” chants. That’s what you get for being Douchebag Michaels.
Angle forces Michaels into the corner and the ref breaks up the headlock.
Angle with a go behind, HBK counters and into a headlock takedown again. Angle gets a waist lock. Michaels reverses, and Angle hits a back elbow. He comes off the ropes and runs into a hip toss. Michaels goes straight into a short arm scissors on the left arm. Angle rolls through and pins Michaels but he kicks out and goes back into the submission. Angle lifts Michaels up, but he spins out with a sunset flip for two. Back slide gets two. Right back into the side headlock again.
Both men go to the corner and start slugging it out, but Michaels goes back into a headlock. Angle gets a handful of hair and decks Michaels in the back of the head before going into the Ankle Lock for a nice pop. HBK rolls through and clotheslines Angle over the top.
Michaels starts dismantling the SmackDown announce table. JR calls it “typical WWE style” and for some reason I find that funny.
Angle goes for a suplex into the announce table, but Shawn lands on his feet and hits some chops. Angle scoops him up into an Angle Slam but drills him back first into the turnbuckle post. Insane move!
HBK manages to get back in the ring and Angle puts him into a bodyscissors. HBK struggles out of it and starts punching back, but he runs into a pair of belly-to-belly suplexes. Camel clutch with a knee in the back. Both men get to their feet, slugfest in the ring. Shawn slaps the taste out of Kurt’s mouth. He explodes with a clothesline for a near fall.
Angle sets HBK up on the turnbuckle and goes for a belly-to-belly superplex, but HBK fights out and knocks Angle off. He goes for the elbow but misses! Angle goes for the Angle Slam, but HBK counters with an arm drag, then a big back body drop over the top rope.
HBK goes to the top rope and hits a big cross body to ringside. HBK gets on the apron. Angle gets on the apron behind him and tries to German suplex him from the apron and into the announce table! HBK hangs onto the ropes and elbows his way out of it, and hits an undetected low blow. Douchebag Michaels is in full force tonight. Michaels kicks Angle back, and he falls onto the announce table. HBK springboards off the middle rope and splashes Angle, but the table doesn’t break. Lawler comments that they’ve “reinforced these tables with steel”.
Both men manage to get back in the ring at 9. Angle is bleeding from the mouth pretty fiercely.
HBK blocks a right hand with a couple of knife edge chops. HBK comes off the ropes with a flying forearm and the kip up, to a pretty mixed reaction I might add. Inverted atomic drop to Angle and a clothesline knocks him down. Scoop slam and HBK goes up top. The elbow drop connects and he starts tuning up the band!
He goes for Sweet Chin Music, but Angle counters into the Ankle Lock! Crowd pops big time and it’s a great sight to see Angle with blood all over his mouth looking intense with the Ankle Lock on. HBK gets close to the ropes and finally gets the ropebreak. Angle calls for the Angle Slam. He counters into the sunset flip, but Angle rolls through and slaps on an Ankle Lock. HBK rolls through into a pin for a VERY near fall. Angle misses a clothesline, HBK goes for the Super Kick, Angle ducks and hits the Angle Slam for a near fall! Angle can’t believe it. He puts the straps back up, then takes them off! Aw shit, Angle’s up top looking for the Olympic moonsault! HBK rolls out of the way, but it actually looks a bit like Angle might’ve headbutted HBK on the way down.
Michaels gets back up and heads to the top rope, but Angle runs up and hits the Angle Slam from the top rope! He pins but gets a super near fall. Insane to the point of ridiculousness!
Angle gets in HBK’s face and screams “you’re done! Your days are done!” HBK hits Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere. HBK crawls into the pin, and of course Angle kicks out.
HBK gets up to his feet, and Angle gets up out of nowhere and latches on the Ankle Lock! HBK tries to kick out, but Angle hangs onto the ankle no matter what. He gets close to the ropes, but misses by inches. Angle gets the grapevine of the leg. Shawn’s in the middle of the ring, miles away from the ropes. After some serious selling from Michaels, he finally taps and Angle gets the win.
Phenomenal match that stands up alongside the likes of Savage and Steamboat and Stone Cold and Bret Hart. Absolutely amazing. Psychology, performance, story, suspense, drama. Can’t really say anything else.
Mae Young and The Fabulous Moolah are in the audience.
It’s Piper’s Pit time. Piper gets a good pop from the crowd. Austin gets the usual enormous pop from the crowd. Piper welcomes Austin to Piper’s Pit with a slap to the face. Austin thanks him with an even harder slap. Piper’s reaction to the “What” chants is pretty hilarious. Carlito Caribbean Cool comes out, armed with what appears to be a Granny Smith apple. After some back and forth, Piper takes his apple and spits it in Carlito’s face. Carlito decks Piper and beats on him. Austin gets involved and stomps a mudhole in Carlito. Piper with a thumb to the eye and Austin hits a Stunner on Carlito, followed by a Stunner to Piper. I mean, it’s Austin.
Something about this whole segment… it’s like watching an oldies act between a couple of guys that don’t realise that they’re an oldies act. Maybe some people will disagree with me there. I mean, I like an Austin segment as much as the next guy, but this was hyped up so much. I think Austin’s more effective when he comes out unexpected, raises hell, then leaves. There’s not going to be any payoff between Piper and Austin – not that anyone would want to see that in the 21st century anyway – but why should we get invested in this moment?
Time for some more history making Wrestlemania moments.
Akebono vs. The Big Show
Hey we’ve got a sumo wrestler who’s willing to work a show for us, and we’ve got a big fat guy who’s not above wearing a sumo thong and making an idiot of himself. Let’s do it.
The Sumo ‘ring’ is just the WWE ring with the ropes taken off. No one pops for Akebono and Show doesn’t even really get much of a pop. Tony Chimmel says he’s 493 lbs. I’m pretty sure at the Royal Rumble he was billed as 470 lbs. Show’s put on some weight then. Although he is looking pretty trim these days.
Show at least seems to have a sense of humour about himself here, coming out with the sumo gown.
I’m sorry, I can’t take this seriously. It’s not that I have anything against sumo wrestling. But professional wrestling and sumo wrestling are two different things. I think the fans want chant boring, but they’re still perplexed at the same time. I’m just concerned because there seems to be very little stopping Big Show’s junk from jumping out. Big Show signals for the Chokeslam, that would be great if he actually did it. After some shoving, Akebono tosses Show out of the ring. I’m not going to grade this.
John Bradshaw Layfield © vs. John Cena
JBL comes to the ring in his limo with a police escort. Seems silly to me, but some people might like it. JBL bucks falls from the roof – got to admit – that’s a cool touch and suits his character nicely.
The audience is very pro-Cena. Lock up starts the match and JBL powers him into the corner. Side headlock on Cena, JBL hits a big shoulder block. Cena leap frogs over, ducks a clothesline and hits a flying shoulder block. He charges into the corner, but JBL hits a big boot to the face. Cena goes for a back body drop, but JBL hits with a forearm to the back. Pair of swinging neckbreakers gets JBL a two count. JBL chokes Cena on the ropes, then slingshots him under the second rope. Slugfest in the middle of the ring. JBL reverses Cena into the corner, but he reverses with a kick to the face before running into a spinebuster for the two count.
Straitjacket neckbreaker on Cena for two. You don’t see that move too often, I like it. JBL boots Cena around the ring. Some absolute stiff rights to Cena, you can hear the skin connecting. Big clothesline in the corner. Short arm clothesline, and Cena has to get a ropebreak in the pin.
JBL with a snapmare, he forearms Cena in the back. “Boring” chants, I concur. A sleeper hold by JBL won’t get these fans out of their seats. Not after HBK and Angle.
Cena fights out of the sleeper and nails a back suplex. Cena and JBL clothesline each other. Both men get up at the same time. Cena slugs away but JBL dumps him out of the ring. Swinging neckbreaker on the outside of the ring. JBL dumps Cena back in the ring and gets a near fall. JBL props Cena up on the second rope and nails a superplex. Pin gets two.
JBL goes to the top rope, strangely enough. He dives to Cena he counters with a nice powerslam! Cena starts building up momentum with clotheslines and a back body drop. Big hip toss by Cena and a spinning back suplex. Cena with the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena runs into a big boot. JBL goes for the Clothesline from Hell, but Cena ducks and hits the FU for the win and his first of several thousand WWE Championship wins.
This match was start stop the whole way. Every time it started to go somewhere, it stopped. Offense was 90% JBL, and that made it quite dull. The ending was out of nowhere. There were no false finishes or big near falls. It was literally five moves of doom – finish. I know not to expect much more from a Cena match, but I still expected a bit more for a WWE Championship Wrestlemania match. I expected Cena to kick out of the Clothesline from Hell, or JBL to avoid the FU at least once or something. But it was just dull moves for the entirety right up to the finish.
Mean Gene comes out to announce the Hall of Fame Class of 2005. Piper and Hogan get the biggest pops of the class, unless you count Torrie Wilson.
World Heavyweight Championship
Triple H © with Ric Flair vs. Batista
Jesus fucking Christ did Motorhead even practice this song at all? It’s a cool entrance for Triple H with the pyro and being elevated into the stage around Motorhead. He looks like a kid being showered in his favourite toys and candy, on stage at Wrestlemania with the World Heavyweight Championship, surrounded by his favourite band. I never like WWE concerts, something about the way the WWE sound guys set it up, it just doesn’t sound right.
Then Batista comes out to the stock Jim Johnston “Generic Hard Rock Track #429” and it really puts into perspective which guy’s banging the boss’s daughter. Batista’s entrance also looks a bit laughable when he does his ‘machine gun’ thing on the ramp without pyro. It looks like he’s doing a terrible Too Cool impression. Both of Triple H’s knees are taped up here too. So, you know, this’ll be a fast paced match for sure.
Mike Chioda checks Batista and Triple H for weapons, old school style. The bell rings and we get a lock up. Batista has the strength advantage. Lock up again, Triple H forces Batista in the corner and we get a strong break. Lock up and a headlock by Batista. Triple H runs into a shoulder block.
Triple H gets a headlock and runs the ropes. Batista misses a clothesline and takes a running shoulder block from Trips. Trips goes for an early Pedigree, but Batista powers out of it and almost completely botches a press slam but manages to hit it for a nice pop.
Trips hits a stiff shot on Batista followed by a back elbow. Batista hammers away at Trips in the corner with elbows and punches. Batista hits a high back body drop but doesn’t really capitalise much. Batista misses a clothesline and Trips hits a high knee that sends Batista to ringside.
Trips rams Batista head first into the ring steps. Batista tries to climb back in the ring, but Trips hits an elbow to the back of the head from the second rope. Classic Flair strangles Batista with his jacket while Triple H has a nice chat with the ref.
At ringside, Triple H rams Batista into the ring barricade and the apron. Triple H hits a few elbow drops in the ring and starts working over the back.
Knees and stomps to the lower back of Batista. Triple H hits a vertical suplex and follows up with a two count. Triple H continues to work over the back with a backbreaker. “Boring” chants. Triple H goes back to chatting with the ref while Flair chokes Batista.
Batista is on the apron and gets stun gunned over the top rope.
Slugfest in the corner. Batista comes out and gets reversed into the ropes. Triple H hits a AA spinebuster and Trips cheers like he just broke his high score on 2048. Several pins but Batista kicks out of all of them.
Delayed neckbreaker for another two. Triple H goes for the Pedigree, but Batista counters with a back body drop. He goes for another back body drop but Trips hits with a facebuster for two. Triple H goes on top, strangely enough. What’s with the world champs going up top tonight?
He dives but Batista hits a clothesline as a counter. Big sidewalk slam by Batista gets a near fall. Triple H boots Batista down in the corner. Batista comes back and whips Triple H over the top rope and to ringside. At ringside, Triple H comes back and whips Batista into the steel ringsteps. Triple H sets up Batista on the big steps for a Pedigree, but he counters with a catapult into the turnbuckle post. Nice blade job by Trips. Batista takes control now and pounds Triple H into the ring steps over and over. Back in the ring, Batista seems to have control and pounds away at The Game. Flair looks genuinely concerned. Batista hits the clotheslines in the corner. Big clothesline drops Triple H. Batista hits a powerslam. The fight goes ringside and Triple H grabs a chair. He goes to nail Batista but the ref snatches the chair. Back in the ring, Flair runs at Batista with the title belt but Batista catches him with a spinebuster. While the ref drags Flair out of the ring, Triple H nails Batista with the belt and gets a very near fall.
Triple H runs at Batista but takes a spinebuster. Batista goes for the Batista Bomb, but Triple H counters with a low blow while the ref’s back is turned. Triple H goes for the Pedigree, but Batista won’t go down. He powers his way out of the underhook and hits an Emerald Fusion! JR calls it a “modified slam”.
Thumbs up and then down. Batista nails the Batista Bomb for three and becomes the World Heavyweight Champion. Triple H’s reign of terror is finally over.
While it was better than the SmackDown world title match, this was still a very average way to end such a big event. For one thing, it went far too long for the talent that was in the ring. And this is completely NOT how you book Batista. The guy is a freak of nature, he’s all muscle, and he looked so good in the build up. It’s not often that Triple H has a challenger that’s actually bigger and stronger than him – but for some reason (likely ego related) – they didn’t work the match with Batista being the clearly stronger man. Triple H controlled far too much of the match for my liking, and Batista was on the defence too much. I know an underdog babyface might work that way, but Batista is not an underdog and shouldn’t be booked in this style. Also, the length of the match really exposed Batista’s poor stamina in the ring. This should have been a ten-minute glorified squash match. It’s what the people wanted to see. If I were setting up this match, I’d cut it down to ten minutes. Batista comes out and kicks ass with big power moves (his side slam; press slam; big clothesline etc) and have Triple H just trying to survive. Trips retreats to ringside to avoid more punishment, which is where Flair would distract the ref while Trips hits Batista with a steel chair to get in SOME offence. Batista kicks out of a Pedigree in the ring, then does his whole power of the Pedigree into the Air Raid Siren (because that was admittedly effective to see), then the match ends with a Batista Bomb. Simple booking, but it would have worked and it wouldn’t have killed the crowd. Instead, Triple H seemed to half-heartedly put Batista over. Notice how with four Pedigree attempts, Triple H never actually hit his finisher? Meaning, Batista never kicked out of Triple H’s finisher. They could have done a much better job of putting over Batista than this. They would end up having better matches though.
If Wrestlemania 21 stopped after Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle, it would be the perfect pay-per-view, with the only complaints being the short running time and the diva match. Unfortunately, the two world title matches – THE MARQUEE MATCHES – completely weighed the pay-per-view down.
It would be different if these were the opening matches or somewhere earlier in the card. I can’t overstate the importance of having a great showstealer as the final match. Unfortunately neither Cena & JBL nor Batista & Triple H came to play. It was like another day at work for them. Cena and JBL never once felt like a special Wrestlemania match, despite how noteworthy it is in the career of John Cena, and in current history in general. There was no real drama or sense of urgency. There was no Clothesline from Hell and a pin that made us think “aw shit, JBL’s going to retain again”. It was straight up 10+ minutes of Cena getting beaten, only to bounce back with his five moves of doom and hit the win. This is the prototypical Super Cena match. Where all the IWC’s complaints about Cena’s ring work can be dated back to this match.
The Raw world title match was booked ALL wrong. I know it’s the main event, I know it’s Triple H, I know it’s Wrestlemania 21 and they’ve put a lot of hype and money into this. But after three years of being in the WWE, they should know how to book Batista by now. He needs short and sweet matches that accentuates his insane power. The guy just needs to come, show off his muscles, hit some big sick clotheslines, a bunch of slams, then hit the Batista Bomb and be done with it. In a match where Triple H should have been on the defensive throughout the duration, he instead dominated up until his blade job. I guess we shouldn’t complain because shit, he actually fucking put someone over. But still.
If you can overlook the last 90 minutes of the show, between the two world title matches and the sumo contest, this is actually a damn good Wrestlemania. Sure the Women’s title match sucked, but that’s on account of Lita’s injury and some idiot thinking that Christy Hemme is over enough to put on the Mania card. Regardless, Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio gave us a damn fine opening match.
Orton and Undertaker was a very solid contest, the first-ever Money in the Bank Ladder Match was a true spectacle that had fans on the edge of their seats and Shawn Michaels versus Kurt Angle embodies everything that a classic ‘Mania match needs. Not only was it a treat to see this ‘dream match’ actually happen – but both men lived up to and FAR exceeded expectations of the bout. Two really good matches and two amazing matches make Wrestlemania 21 a must see, even if you stop watching before the WWE Championship match comes on.
Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle
Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Undertaker vs. Orton
Eddie Guerrero vs. Mysterio
Triple H vs. Batista
JBL vs. Cena
Trish vs. Christy
Overall Grade: 6.2/10