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WWF WrestleMania X-8 review

WWF WrestleMania X-8

March 17th 2002

Skydome, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Attendance: 68,237

Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler

Buyrate: 880,000

The eighteenth WrestleMania made its return to the Skydome in Canada for the first time since WrestleMania 6 in 1990. WrestleMania 18 also marked the return of Hulk Hogan who would be facing The Rock in what was build an “Icon vs. Icon” match. It would be no surprise that the match had everybody talking just like his match against the Warrior 12 years ago.

More familiar names were returning like Kevin Nash, Scott Hall and Ric Flair. All of them had competed in past WrestleManias and with WCW no longer around they found employment with Vince McMahon once again. The death of WCW also meant debuts for Booker T, Diamond Dallas Page and Rob Van Dam. In many ways, the WWF was changing.

This marked the final WrestleMania under the World Wrestling Federation name. They changed their name a few months later. This was also the year where the brand extension began with the rosters being split between Raw and Smackdown due to the large roster they had. In many ways this show marked an end of an era but also the start of an new era was we embark on the “Ruthless Aggression” era.

 

To begin the show, Saliva sang the main WrestleMania theme “Superstar”. Always puzzles me why they didn’t do the Canadian national anthem.

 

There was a video with a lot of the Superstars on the show talking about how much it means to compete at WrestleMania. A very well done video package as usual. The announcers welcome us to the show. Jerry Lawler was still in heel mode which is a role that he was best at.

 

WWF Intercontinental Championship

Rob Van Dam vs. William Regal ©

Van Dam was the one true member of the alliance (not a WWE retread) that the fans bought into, and he was given a WWF Title match on PPV, but after the Invasion ended, he went down the card to Intercontinental title level. Regal, who was the heel champion, is opening up WrestleMania in an IC Title match for the second straight year. RVD gets off to a fast start with his unorthodox offense. William counters a charge with a back elbow and looks for the brass knuckles in his tights. RVD kicks them out of his hand, and Regal begs off because his equalizer is gone. RVD heads up top, but the 5 star frog splash misses. Regal gets numerous 2 counts as he tries to get out of here early. RVD ducks a clothesline and gets his own near fall off a cross body. They do some reversals before Regal grounds RVD with a drop toe hold. He gets another near fall off a standing vertical suplex. RVD flips out of a backdrop attempt, but gets killed with a sweet neckbreaker. As seems normal for a Regal match, he gets a bloody mouth from a RVD boot. Rolling Thunder from RVD hits nothing but knees from Regal. It appears Regal was looking for a pedigree of all things, but RVD drives him back into the corner. Van Dam fires off some of his patented offensive moves, but he gets too cute, and Regal folds him in half with a half nelson belly to back suplex. That looked painful, and the crowd enjoyed it. RVD sold it great by rolling out of the ring. Regal rolled him back in and the referee prevented him from using the brass knucks. RVD nailed him with a kick to the face. RVD went up for the Five Star Frog Splash and connected for the win at 6:19 to a big reaction from the crowd.

Winner and NEW WWF Intercontinental Champion: Rob Van Dam via pinfall

Rating: ** 1/2

A solid opener which could have benefited from more time. Van Dam was awesome here. Sometimes he isn’t always sharp in the ring because he’s a notorious pot smoker but he was on top form here. Regal was great as always.

 

Backstage, Christian cuts a heel promo on his former mentor, Diamond Dallas Page and on his hometown too.  Long before he was helping Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Scott Hall with their addictions, DDP was helping Christian to overcome a losing streak and throwing tantrums.

 

WWF European Championship

Christian vs. Diamond Dallas Page ©

Christian was on a losing streak and throwing temper tantrums after each loss. He received guidance from motivational speaker DDP, and it helped him turn things around. Christian quickly dumped DDP when he got that elusive win, and thus we have a match. In a weird twist, DDP was making his WrestleMania in-ring debut, but he was at WrestleMania 6 driving Honky Tonk Man to the ring. Same building too. Crazy. Christian jumps DDP as he slides into the ring, and then celebrates with the title. DDP ducks a clothesline and fires away with some rights. He follows with a gutwrench bomb onto his knee, and they brawl on the floor. Back in the ring Christian tries to create distance, but he gets cornered. DDP starts firing away, but a well timed low blow by Christian drops DDP. They head back to the floor, but soon head right back into the ring. Okay then. Christian fires away to very little response, and mocks the Diamond Cutter symbol to get some reaction from the crowd. Christian gets posted crotch first into the post, but DDP gets yanked head first into the same post. Christian resorts to using an abdominal stretch, but gives up on the hold as the crowd is fading on them. A blind charge from DDP misses, and Christian heads up top. He gets caught however, and gets slammed to the canvas. That leaves both men down as the ref starts his ten count. The discus punch from Page gets him the advantage, and a powerbomb gets a near fall. Christian flips out of a suplex and looks for the unprettier, but DDP tries for the Cutter, but Christian is able to counter with a scorpion death drop. That only gets two though, and Christian calms himself from having a temper tantrum. It does him no good though as DDP is able snap off the Diamond Cutter for the victory. After the match, DDP rubbed it in and congratulated Christian on not losing his temper, even though he lost in front of 67,000 people! Christian threw a tantrum.

Winner and STILL WWF European Champion: Diamond Dallas Page via pinfall

Rating: **

Yet another solid match. Nothing too great but nothing too bad either. It served its purpose well.

 

Backstage Jonathan Coachman interviews The Rock. The Rock did an incredible job of hyping up the match. The Rock made Coach say his prayers. Coach started off with “Whattup G”, that was funny. Eventually, Rocky kicked him out of view. Rock finished off the promo with his usual “smell what the Rock is cookin’” catchphrase whiles ripping his shirt off Hulk Hogan style.

 

WWF Hardcore Championship

Goldust vs. Maven ©

It was the 24/7 rule for the Hardcore Title. Maven won the first Tough Enough prior to this, so he was making his WrestleMania debut. You may recall when he eliminated Undertaker from the 2002 Royal Rumble. Maven gets blitzed before he can even get in the ring, and he takes a sweet bump into the security wall. The plunder gets used early and often with Goldust wearing out Maven with a cookie sheet. They badly blow some spots with a garbage can, but things settle down after Goldust hits a reverse neckbreaker. Goldust breaks out a golden shovel, and Maven gets caught in the throat with it. The slaughter continues as Maven gets whipped into a trashcan. Both men get leveled with dueling trashcan lid shots. Spike Dudley sprints to the ring and gets the pin on Maven. Crash Holly ran down and chased him through the crowd.

Winner and NEW WWF Hardcore Champion: Spike Dudley via pinfall

Rating: NR

Unsure how to rate this match. The Hardcore title was a comedy title which possessed little value.

 

Drowning Pool played their song “tear away” as video screens above them told the story of the Triple H/ Chris Jericho feud.

 

Backstage, more Hardcore title craziness as Al Snow tried to run over Crash & Spike in a golf buggy, but they moved out of the way just in time. Spike threw Crash into a garage door. All of a sudden, The Hurricane showed up flying on a rope, kicked Spike and then he pinned him so The Hurricane is now the new Hardcore Champion.

 

Kurt Angle walked out for his match against Kane. He still had his hair but would lose it a few months later against Edge at Judgement Day. He referenced the Canadian figure skaters that won their gold medals due to a controversial judge saying that he didn’t win his gold medal that way. He would rather “shoot himself in the frikken head!” Kane’s pyro hit as Angle was still talking.

 

Kurt Angle vs. Kane

There wasn’t that much of a story here. It was more about two upper midcard guys having a match because there was nothing else for them to do. Kurt blasts Kane with the ring bell before we ever get the opening bell, and thus has the early advantage. The story coming in is that Kane is suffering from head trauma (caused by Angle) coming into this match. Kurt continues working the head by dumping Kane with a German suplex. Kane gets the pissed kicked out of him, but regains his composure enough to fire off shots to stagger Angle. A two handed choke leads to a slam, and a hard right hand leaves Angle on the canvas. Kane charges, but Angle ducks and snaps over a beautiful overhead belly to belly suplex. The two men exchange blows in the center of the ring before Angle gets the advantage with a belly to back suplex this time. Seeing Angle suplex the shit out of people is nothing new, but seeing him do it to Kane is pretty damn impressive. Kane powers out of a front facelock by casually tossing Angle halfway across the ring. Angle runs right into a sidewalk slam, but Kurt counters a suplex attempt into the Triple Germans. Kurt Angle was just sickeningly awesome at this point in his career. He heads up top and comes off with a sweet clothesline, and even the crowd is getting behind the awesomeness of Angle. Kurt’s a little full of himself and tries the same move, but Kane stops him on the way down. That leaves both men down for the count, and once they get to their feet the start exchanging blows again. The pace quickens and that actually favors Kane as he pounds away. He catches Kurt out of the corner with another sidewalk slam, but turns it into a powerslam instead. Nice! The chokeslam looks to finish, but Kurt’s able to grab the bottom rope to break the count. Angle counters the tombstone by ripping at the mask, and that leads to an Angle Slam for a two count. The straps come down and the ankle lock gets applied. Kane fights out and even breaks, but Kurt is relentless with the hold. Kane uses the ropes to gets back to vertical base, and breaks the ankle lock with an enzuigiri. He heads to the top rope, but Kurt hits up the running pop-up suplex to send Kane flying across the ring. Another Angle Slam is countered to another chokeslam, but that gets countered to a roll-up and Angle uses the ropes for added leverage to get the win.

Winner: Kurt Angle via pinfall

Rating: ***

It was good but not great. It’s amazing how good Angle was in just his 3rd year as a wrestler. Massive respect to Kane for showing just how athletic he was, of course this was largely down to being in the ring with Kurt Angle who was the best wrestler in the company.

 

More Hardcore Title action as The Hurricane was hiding in the locker room when the Godfather’s Hoes entered. They were changing in the locker room when they realised Hurricane was behind a partition, so they started screaming. They had no problem with the camera guy though right? Godfather ran in, Hurricane left his with title and off we went to the next match.

 

They aired a video package of the Undertaker/ Ric Flair feud. Undertaker was in his “American Bad Ass” heel role and doing an excellent job of playing the bully. Flair was the co-owner of the WWF at the time. Flair got involved in an Undertaker match because he was trying to cheat. Undertaker wanted to have a match with him at WrestleMania. Flair said no. Undertaker beat up Flair’s best friend Arn Anderson and his son David Flair. The Board of Directors ended up removing Flair as a co-owner because he was having this match with Undertaker, so Vince McMahon had full control again. Vince made the Undertaker match a No DQ match. Ric Flair was making his first WrestleMania appearance in 10 years. It’s also worth noting that this is the first WrestleMania where Undertaker’s winning streak was mentioned. He was 9-0 at the time.

 

No Disqualification Match

The Undertaker vs. Ric Flair

Flair sprints to the ring and a big ass brawl starts. They head to the floor and brawl over the announce table. Flair gains the early advantage and just fires off punch after punch in front of the Toronto Raptors sitting in the front row. The action heads back to the ring, and it’s still nothing but Flair punching away. Taker bails to the floor and Flair jumps after him, but gets caught and rammed back first into the ring post. He gets tossed into the steps as some fan lets us know “damn that’s to hurt.” Thanks for that sir. Back in the ring Flair fires off a chop, but gets caught with a right hand in mid Woo. Taker fires Flair into the corner for the Flair flip, but he can’t get over the top, and they have to repeat the spot. This time Flair gets over to run the apron, but he runs flush into a boot. Taker lets us know it’s time to go to school as they brawl again on the floor. The boot and some subsequent right hands bust Flair open. JR lets everyone know that Flair isn’t in the prime of his career, and that he is knocking on 60.

The blood is really starting to flow now and that seems to fire Flair up as he rips off some chops. They only stun Taker though and a stiff clothesline sends Flair back to the mat. In a awesome visual the one camera actually has some of Flair’s blood on the lens. Flair gets set up on the top rope, and a superplex brings both men crashing down to the mat. That gets a two count only because Taker pulls Flair up to continue the ass kicking. Lawler has been great on commentary here as he still had some heel tendencies at this point. Things have kind of slowed as Taker continues to just beat the holy hell out of Flair and pull him up at every count of two. Taker has a pretty nice gash on the side of his face as well, but nothing near the level of blood flow from Flair. Lawler point blank asks JR what a booger red is, but we don’t get an answer. It’s time to go to school, old school style, but Flair yanks Taker down, and starts fight back with chops. It doesn’t last long though as Taker drops him with a sidewalk slam. This time Flair kicks out, and Taker is getting frustrated now. The brawl heads back to the floor and Flair grabs a lead pipe off Taker’s motorcycle. Taker takes some abuse from the pipe and that’s get the blood pouring from his skull. In today’s PG WWE, it’s nice to see some double juice. Flair struts right into a goozle, but the dirtiest player in the game hits a kick to the balls to stop that. The figure four follows but Taker uses his long reach to the break the hold with a chokeslam. That only gets a two count, and Taker is pissed. He punches away, but still can only get a count of two. Taker has had enough and takes out the ref. He grabs the pipe, but Flair whipped him in the ropes and all of a sudden Arn Anderson showed up with a spinebuster. Best spinebuster in the history of wrestling. Flair covered for two. Undertaker attacked Arn. Arn bladed too, after just two punches to the head. Undertaker choked Arn out and then Flair attacked Undertaker with three shots to the back with the chair. Undertaker came back with a boot to the face. Undertaker went for the Last Ride. For whatever reason, Flair didn’t get up for it. He gave him a Tombstone instead. Undertaker covered for the win. Undertaker was 10-0 at WrestleMania

Winner: The Undertaker via pinfall

Rating: ***

I really enjoyed that brawl. It was old school in a lot of ways with the blood and the intensity. Undertaker was so damn good as the bully and Flair showed heart by coming back after taking such a beating. Undertaker is now 10-0 at WrestleMania.

 

Backstage, Michael Cole was interviewing Booker T who was doing a dumb heel gimmick as he looks on to take on Edge.

 

Booker T vs. Edge

The infamous “Japanese shampoo commercial” feud. Booker was the heel. Edge was the babyface that was getting a push. He was also in his hometown of Toronto where he was in attendance at WrestleMania 6. I wish they had an Edge vs. Christian match here even though they feuded in late 2001. Seeing them have a classic in Toronto would have been great. Edge gets a big pop from his hometown crowd. A sign in the front row lets us know they are fighting over a shampoo commercial and even JR seems amazed at how this started. Lawler is running with the story though. Booker hits a stun gun to gain the advantage and a sidekick gets a two count. A clothesline sends Edge to the floor, and Booker follows with an axe handle from the ring apron. A sweet missile dropkick gets another two count for Booker. To complete the surreal nature of this match, Teddy Long is your referee. A flapjack gets another count of two as this match has been all Booker. He heads back up, but Edge shakes the ropes to send Booker crashing down onto his little booker’s. Edge actually breaks out a top rope hurricanrana and that nets him a near fall. The scissors kick is missed by Booker, and Edge gets another near fall off a spinning heel kick of the top rope. They down a reversal sequence and it ends with Booker getting catapulted into the corner. The spear comes next, but Booker leaps over and Edge crashes into the corner. The spin-a-rooni gets a massive pop, but the axe kick only gets a two count. Edge finally gets a spear, but it only gets him a two count. Edge breaks out the Edge-a-rooni, and the Edgecution finishes things.

Winner: Edge via pinfall

Rating: * ½

An okay match. It should have had a better story for its build up rather than having them fight it out over Shampoo! Edge went on to feud with Kurt Angle after this, which was a good feud for him at this stage in his career.

 

More Hardcore title comedy as Coach catches up with Hurricane. “Mighty” Molly wacked him with a frying pan and covered him for the title.

 

A video package highlights the Stone Cold/ Scott Hall feud. The nWo cost Steve Austin his chance to win back the World Title at No Way Out. Austin was back to being a babyface after turning towards the end of 2001. The “WHAT?” phase had begun too. Hall challenged him to a match at WrestleMania because he wanted Austin to prove to him that he was the toughest SOB (son of a bitch) in the company.

 

Stone Cold Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall /w/ Kevin Nash

Austin got a big pop. Not as big as the year earlier, though. It was weird seeing him in a match so early in the show. Hall came out to the NWO theme song with Kevin Nash at his side. Austin wastes no time and starts stomping a mud hole as the crowd chants “What” with each boot. That really did get old fast, and thankfully, it has almost been wiped out of the minds of today’s fans. Hall continues to get his ass kicked, and he has to bail. Austin gives chase and lands the first blow on Nash, which Lawler helpfully points out. Nash loosens the pad in one of the corners to expose the buckle. Hall and Austin brawl in the opposite corner, and it’s Austin who gets sent back first into the exposed steel. Nash finally gives Austin a receipt for the earlier shot, and Lawler tries to explain that to JR. That doesn’t go well for Lawler as JR gets a little cranky. Hall controls back in the ring with a fall-away slam to a good pop. A stiff clothesline sends Austin back to the mat, but he is able to kick out at two. The ref gets distracted once again, and Nash buries another forearm into Austin’s head. The crowd starts a Razor chant, and Nash gives Austin another shot. Hall makes the mistake of charging into a spinebuster, and that’s gives Austin a chance to catch his breath. Some beautiful right hands from Hall keep Austin down, but he ends up walking right into a Stunner. Nash saves by pulling out the ref and blasting him. Now Nash gets in the ring and Austin gets hammered with some elbows. Hall grabs a chair, but Austin is able to fight off both members of the nWo and lay both out with stunners. Austin gets a second visual pin on Hall, but the actual pin doesn’t occur thanks to Nash. Hall goes for the Razor’s Edge, but he eats a backdrop to the floor instead. A gang of refs toss Nash from the ringside area and the crowd is none too pleased with that decision. Hall hit a Stunner on Austin. Original ref Tim White recovered to make the count for two. Austin hit a Stunner on Hall, who was still vertical from it and then Austin hit his fourth Stone Cold Stunner on Hall that led to the pinfall win. The crowd was very loud for the finish.

Winner: Stone Cold Steve Austin via pinfall

Rating: ** ½

This match was just okay. Hall was still a decent worker at this point but not like what he was back in the day. Austin’s injuries were starting to mount up. I doubt he wasn’t too thrilled about being in the mid card after being on top for so long. He would end up having a falling out with the WWE not long after this show but ended up returning in early 2003.

 

Clips of the fan Axxess are shown. It’s funny that Hulk Hogan was there to “destroy” the WWF yet here he was meeting fans. The nWo could have been handled much better.

 

WWF Tag Team Championships

The Dudley Boys (Bubba Ray & D-Von) /w/ Stacey Keibler vs. APA (Faarooq & Bradshaw) vs. The Hardy Boys (Matt & Jeff) vs. Billy & Chuck ©

The tag division was hurting a bit here. B&C were the heel champs. The rules were that two guys wrestled, everybody else was on the outside and if you got pinned your team was eliminated. I always thought that Keibler being with the Dudleys was an odd mix, but they tried to add her sex appeal to prevent them from being stale. The APA decides to jump Chuck before the match and so those teams start this thing. It settles down to Bradshaw and Chuck, and Bradshaw overpowers both tag champs. A nasty belly to back suplex leaves Chuck on his back, and the tag is made to Faarooq. A blind charge from Faarooq meets a stiff clothesline from Chuck. He makes the tag to Billy and JR informs us that these guys love to double team. They even gets a rise out of Lawler. Please read that last line without the innuendo though. Billy starts taking a beating and opts to tag D-Von. The Dudleys brawl with Team 3D and Billy and Chuck tries to pick the bones. The clothesline from Hell kills Billy, but Bradshaw walks right into a 3D to eliminate the APA. The Hardys get involved to the shrieks of the females in the crowd. On the floor the Dudley boys get some tables ready. Billy and Chuck are an after thought as we get Dudleys vs. Hardys for the thousandth time. Jeff hits the Whisper in the Wind, but Stacey shakes her ass on the apron to distract him. She even pulls up the shorts to show off her ass. Always a plus! Lawler offers to put salve on her ass. The champs are more than content standing on the apron watching these 2 rival teams beat the hell out of each other. Good strategy there. D-Von gets the tag and mows down Jeff with a clothesline. Jeff is your pasty Carolinian in peril as the crowd seems a little distracted. D-Von hits a jumping back elbow and asks the crowd who the man is, and it’s a little sad when only three people in the front row say “you are.” Jeff finally makes the lukewarm tag to Matt, and he hits everyone including the tag champs standing on the apron. D-Von misses the backsplash from the middle rope, but rebounds to set Jeff up for the “what’s up” drop. Billy shoves D-Von off the top rope and he crashes through the tables that were set up earlier. That leaves Bubba distracted and he eats a Twist of Fate/Swanton combo to eliminate the Dudleys. The Hardys get the early advantage and run through their standard offense. Matt hit the Twist of Fate on Chuck and then Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb. The ref told Matt to leave the ring so Billy hit the Fameasser on Jeff. Matt clotheslined Billy out. Chuck covered. Jeff kicked out at two. Very good nearfall there. Billy ran into the ring and hit Jeff with a belt shot to the head because Chuck was distracting the ref. Chuck covered for the win.

Winners and STILL WWF Tag Team Champions: Billy & Chuck via pinfall

Rating: *

Boring match, I guess everyone was under pressure to deliver from the two ladder matches in previous WrestleManias.

 

Backstage, Scott Hall and Kevin Nash are unhappy about losing to Austin and vowed to take it out on The Rock. Hulk Hogan appears says that he wants to go out there on his own and prove that he could still go at it on his own. The crowd went crazy when Hogan appeared. A sign of things to come.

 

Backstage, Molly Holly is running down a corridor and then she ran into a door. Christian slammed the door on her. He covered her for the Hardcore title.

 

A video package started playing highlighting the Hogan/ Rock feud. Hollywood Hogan made his WrestleMania entrance for the first time in 9 years. The fans go crazy. The Rock made his entrance to an enormous pop too but not as loud as Hogan’s.

 

Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock

The opening moments with both men staring at each other and then at the crowd is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in wrestling. The bell sounds and the crowd erupts. Seriously, how often do you see that happen? Hogan powers Rock down and poses to a MONSTER reaction. Hogan seems to be having the time of his life, though he said he was scared to death by the crowd’s reaction in his book. Hogan grabs a headlock as the Rocky Sucks chants begin. The Rock gets steamrolled and Hogan poses some more to a huge reaction. Hogan hits a knee and starts pounding away as he talks some trash. A nice running clothesline sends the Rock flying as he sells everything to the highest degree. The Rock finally gets some offense and the crowd is pissed. He tells Hogan to bring it, and he responds with a shove. Rock answers with some fists and sends Hogan to the floor. They head back inside, and the Rock drops Hogan with a hard clothesline. He prepares for the Rock Bottom, but Hogan elbows out and delivers a right hand. The axe-bomber sends the Rock to the mat, and Hogan follows with several elbows. Rock gets tossed into the corner, and Hogan follows with the running clothesline. JR notes Hogan lost his lone WrestleMania match in the SkyDome. Rock gets some offense to some boos, but Hogan gets a suplex to a huge pop. Lawler is all but gushing over Hogan, while JR struggles to give any praise. Hogan rakes the back, and Rock’s oversell is truly amazing. Rock fires back and the crowd is irate with that. This is almost like HHH vs. Cena with the fans booing and cheering depending on who is on the offensive. Hogan uses his wrist tape to choke Rock. Rock tries to lay the smack down, but gets tossed to the floor. Hogan rams him into the steps and drops him throat first on the security rail. He preps the announce table, but nothing comes from that. Rock says hell with the table and grabs a chair, but the ref stops him. That gives Hogan the chance to hit another clothesline. The ref gets creamed when Hogan tosses the Rock across the ring.

Rock gets a spinebuster to leave both men down. He applies the sharpshooter which doesn’t go over very well for the Rock with the Canadian crowd. Hogan makes the ropes, but there is no ref, so the Rock drags him back to the middle of the ring. Hogan taps, but the ref is nowhere to be found. Loud Rocky sucks chant as he starts to go heel mid-match. Hogan gets a ball shot and hits his version of the ROCK BOTTOM to a ridiculous reaction from the crowd. That gets a hot near fall. Pretty odd seeing Hogan perform a Rock Bottom. The weight belt gets used by Hogan, but a timely DDT gives the Rock a chance to use the belt. Some fans start to cheer the Rock now that he is heel. Crazy! A Rock Bottom gets a 2 count, and we get the Hulk-up to one of the loudest reactions you will ever hear. Any true wrestling fan has to see the reaction Hogan gets as everything from here on out is just insanely over with the crowd. The legdrop gets a 2 count, and the crowd is ready to riot. This is just a fantastically fun match to watch. Me and my mates were marking out like crazy. We were all massive Hulkamanics back in the day. A second legdrop misses, and Hogan eats a second Rock Bottom. He doesn’t cover and opts to give Hogan a 3rd Rock Bottom. The People’s Elbow follows and that is enough to get the win. After the match, Hogan extended his hand. Rock shook it. Rock’s music played as Hogan told him to pose for the fans. Rock left. Hall & Nash came out. Hall threw a toothpick in Hogan’s face and then Nash hit him with a sucker punch. They double teamed Hogan. Rock came back. He clotheslined Nash out of the ring and Hogan threw Hall out of the ring. Hall & Nash retreated. They played Rock’s music again. I would have loved it if they played Hogan’s “Real American” music there. Hogan was going to leave Rock told him to stay to do his poses. Hogan did his ear cupping and his other poses. Rock encouraged more poses in which he did. The camera got a shot of The Rock smiling. It was a small moment where it looked like he was Dwayne Johnson and was overwhelmed with what was going on. Ross and Lawler did a great job of putting this over as an iconic moment.

Winner: The Rock via pinfall

Rating: ****

I gave it four stars and I’m sticking it at that. I guess if you watched it on mute you’d have a different feeling regarding the match but that’s not realistic, though. The crowd played such a big part in the match. The plan for this match was to turn Hogan face by the end. That plan worked way before the match even ended. Hogan, who was 49 years old, worked incredibly hard and won the crowd over with his performance. Rock was also tremendous.  This really should have closed the show because nothing was going to follow it without dying the death of a 1000 deaths.

 

The attendance was announced as 67, 237. Wow.

 

WWF Women’s Championship

Jazz © vs. Lita vs. Trish Stratus

These poor women have to follow Rock/Hogan. Even Trish all decked out in the Maple Leaf can barely get a pop from the crowd. Lita and Jazz start brawling as Trish makes her way to the ring. The two faces work over the champ, but that doesn’t last long as Jazz puts Trish in a half crab. Lita gets put in the double arm chicken wing as Jazz just overpowers both women. The arena is dead, and all you can really hear are a few wolf whistles directed at the women. Trish hits a stiff kick on Lita, but Jazz breaks the count. Jazz gets a fisherman’s suplex, but Lita breaks that pin attempt. A scorpion death drop gets a two count for Trish as Lita breaks that count. Lita and Trish square off as the crowd starts to show some life. They both a backdrop, and a sloppy twist of fate follow. Lita tries to hit a moonsault on both women, but Trish brings up the knees to block. Trish fires off some Flair chops and the crowd chants for puppies. Jazz gets elevated over the top by Lita, and Trish gets sent crotch first into the turnbuckle in a rather painful spot. Jazz capitalizes by killing Lita with a top rope fisherman’s suplex for the win.

Winner and STILL WWF Women’s Champion: Jazz via pinfall

Rating; *

They went out there and had a decent match to very little crowd heat because of what they had to follow. I’m still surprised Trish didn’t win in her hometown. Obviously she was the focus of the women’s division for the next four years, though.

 

Christian celebrates as he makes his was out of the area with the title to a waiting car. Sadly, Maven sneaks up from behind and gets a roll-up to regain the Hardcore Title. Asshole even steals Christian’s cab.

 

Up next is the World Title match. Jericho was the heel champion managed by Stephanie McMahon. Hunter returned at the start of the year having missed most of 2001 with a torn quad. Going into this match, Jericho wasn’t booked strong enough as champion. In his own words, he was booked as “the World champion as played by Lloyd Christmas”. That was so true. There was even a point where Jericho had to take care of Stephanie’s dog. A lot of people joked that the match was really Hunter vs. Stephanie, who were going through an on screen divorce at around this point.

 

WWF Undisputed World Heavyweight Championship

Triple H vs. Chris Jericho © /w/ Stephanie McMahon

Hunter had his left leg taped up. He hit his running high knee early and then sold the idea that his left leg was hurting. Jericho dumped him over the top to the floor. Jericho went up top, Hunter got onto the apron and threw Jericho into the security wall. Hunter preps the announce table, but it’s doesn’t get used as Jericho starts kicking at the quad. They head back in the ring, and HHH starts working on the quad of Jericho. A knee breaker continues the damage on the knee, and HHH’s locks in the figure four. Stephanie rakes the eyes of HHH to break that. She celebrates, but HHH pulls her up to the apron by the hair. Jericho tries to spear HHH, but he moves and Stephanie takes the spear. HHH goes for the Pedigree on Steph, but Jericho saves her with a missile dropkick. The quad takes some abuse on the ring post, and Steph makes sure to get in a cheap shot. Jericho grounds HHH and takes great pleasure in twisting the leg in as many directions as possible. Stephanie slaps the taste out of HHH’s mouth and Jericho locks in the ring post assisted figure four. That’s a sure fire way to get on the good side of a Canadian crowd. Speaking of that crowd, they seemed a little burnt out. Hunter is selling the hell out of that leg, and he makes sure to sell the leg even when he hits an offensive move. He snaps off a spinebuster, but can’t really capitalize and ends up flying over the turnbuckle to the floor. A small “Y2J” chant starts, but it doesn’t last long. Jericho preps the other announce table and looks to apply the Walls of Jericho. HHH kicks off, and looks for the Pedigree on the table. Jericho counters with a backdrop and HHH gets sent from one announce table through the other. Nice! Back in the ring a lionsault gets a two count as JR bemoans this may very well be the last match we ever see from HHH. The Walls get locked in to the loudest pop of the match so far. HHH crawls for the ropes, but gets pulled back to the centre of the ring to another sizeable pop. Things go old school as Hebner checks on HHH’s arm, but it only drops two times. Jericho thinks the match is over and realizes the hold to celebrate. He gets a little pissed and heads to the floor to grab a chair. He heads for HHH, but the chair gets kicked back in his face, and a DDT on the chair gets a two count. Barely a reaction again. Stephanie went into the ring. Hebner took the chair. She shoved Earl. Hunter grabbed her by the hair and put her between her legs. Not in that way, you freaks. In the Pedigree way I meant. He hit the Pedigree on Stephanie. That drew the biggest pop of the match. Hebner rolled her out of the ring. Hunter turned around and Jericho hit Hunter in the head for two. This ref can’t hear either. Jericho went for a Pedigree, Hunter gave him a slingshot into the corner. Jericho jumped towards Hunter, who gave him the Pedigree for the win

Winner and NEW WWF Undisputed Champion: Triple H via pinfall

Rating: ***

Good ending to WrestleMania but the crowd cared too much about Rock/Hogan. They were completely burned out here. Triple H showed a lot of heart by withstanding Jericho’s attack, Stephanie’s interference and overcoming his knee injury. Jericho tried hard to deliver. He seemed under pressure after such a shit build up to the match. He looked clearly frustrated throughout. If you want to see the best Hunter/Jericho match I’d recommend Fully Loaded 2000. It was one of the best Last Man Standing matches you will ever see.

 

JR did a great job putting over how tough Triple H was by displaying so much heart on his way to victory. The show ends with a video package recapping the show.

 

**Random Thoughts**

 

  • Vince was so happy with the Hogan on him a month later which pretty much killed Hunter’s babyface run. Hogan’s title reign was very short as he dropped the belt to Undertaker at Judgement day. Triple H turned heel in the summer and entered a programme with the returning Shawn Michaels.
  • I get asked, why didn’t they go for Hogan/Austin? I guess there was friction there but I can’t say for sure. I think they picked Rocky because he had a brighter future and wanted to pass the torch to him. As much as I love Austin, Rock was the right opponent for Hogan. Austin was physically wearing out. Rock was able to work a fast pace and make Hogan look good.
  • The return of the NWO was poorly done. I don’t know what the long term plan was but it could have been a whole lot better. It would have been more impactful if Eric Bischoff was brought in as a member of the group.
  • Chris Jericho was clearly frustrated in his match with Hunter. You could see he was trying to get at least some sort of reaction from the crowd. If this wasn’t the main event, the fans would have cared a whole lot more. The build-up didn’t help either. Thankfully in his next reigns as World Champion, Jericho was booked like a true World Champion and not like a joke.
  • Speaking about the main event, this is the 4th WrestleMania to have a McMahon involved in the main event. I was fine with it at 15, especially at 17 but not so much at 16. That was overload. The main event was more about Triple H vs. Stephanie when it should have been about Jericho, who was the Undisputed Champion after all.

 

Best match: Hollywood Hogan vs. The Rock – Full of iconic, memorial moments which we will never forget.

Worst match: Maven vs. Goldust – Nothing else was that bad, really.

WrestleMania Moment: Hogan “passing the torch” to Rocky. After everything he experienced during his early “Rocky Maivia” days, I bet Dwayne Johnson would never have thought he’d wrestle (and beat) Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania! Such an awesome moment.

 

Top 5 Superstars

1. Hulk Hogan – Incredible return to WrestleMania. Had the crowd in the palm of his hand.

2. The Rock – Worked well with Hogan. He showed just how good he really is.

3. Undertaker – He played the role of the bully so damn well.

4. Triple H – Showed heart and got revenge on his “ex-wife”.

5. Kurt Angle – Should have been in a higher profile match. He was the best in the World here.

 

Updated rankings chart:

Hulk Hogan – 30pts

Macho Man Randy Savage – 29pts

Bret Hart – 25pts

Shawn Michaels – 24pts

Stone Cold – 20pts

The Rock – 17pts

Ricky Steamboat– 10pts

Owen Hart – 8pts

Ultimate Warrior/ Roddy Piper– 7pts

Mick Foley/ Jeff Hardy/ Undertaker/ Triple H– 6pts

Dynamite Kid/Rick Rude/ Ted Dibiase – 5pts

Terry Funk/ Bam Bam Bigelow/ Diesel- 4pts

Tito Santana/Andre the Giant/ Ric Flair/ Mr Perfect/ Lawrence Taylor/ X-Pac- 3pts

Greg Valentine/ Scott Steiner/ Razor Ramon/ Shane McMahon/ Christian/Edge/ Kurt Angle-2pts

Sgt Slaughter/ Gorilla Monsoon/ Bobby Heenan/ Jim Ross/ Bubba Ray Dudley– 1pt

 

Overall Show Rating (Out of 10): 6.5

A good show that lacked the kind of high quality matches that would have made it great. This show would be remembered for one match. The Main Event and a good showing from Taker/Flair add to the depth of the show, but everything else was hurt by a lack of time. The Rock/Hogan match was one of the most memorable matches in wrestling history, though, so that’s what people will always remember when they think of WrestleMania 18.

 

WrestleMania Rankings so far:

WrestleMania 17 – 10

WrestleMania 14 – 8.5

WrestleMania 10 – 8

WrestleMania 8 – 7

WrestleMania 3 – 7

WrestleMania 18 – 6.5

WrestleMania 7 – 6.5

WrestleMania 6 – 6

WrestleMania16 – 5.5

WrestleMania 12 – 5.5

WrestleMania 15 – 5

WrestleMania 1 – 4.5

WrestleMania 13 – 4

WrestleMania 5 – 4

WrestleMania 11 – 4

WrestleMania 4 – 3.5

WrestleMania 2 – 3

WrestleMania 9 – 0.5

 

Up Next: It’s the beginning of an new era as we “get the F out” in time for WrestleMania XIX

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