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WWE WrestleMania 21 Review

WWE WrestleMania 21

April 3rd 2005

The Staples Centre, Los Angeles, California

Attendance: 20,193

Announcers: Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler (RAW) Michael Cole & Tazz (Smackdown)

Buyrate: 1,085,000

 

WrestleMania goes Hollywood! That was the tagline for the 21st edition of WrestleMania. There were some movie trailer parodies hyping up this event with my favourite ones being Pulp Fiction (Featuring Eddie Guerrero & Booker T) and Basic Instinct (Starting Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Christian, Stacy Keibler, Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young). It was a changing of the guard by the time WrestleMania 21 came around. Austin had retired and Rock had moved away from wrestling completely. Guys like John Cena, Edge, Randy Orton and Batista were involved in high profile matches. The previous year they said that it all begins again yet this show shaped the WWE for years to come in many ways.

 

Lillian Garcia sings America the beautiful. Perfect as always. The opening video package is a compilation of all the movie trailer parodies with the WWE Superstars included. A Gladiator trailer debuts with Stone Cold playing the role of Russell Crow’s character from the movie. We are welcomed to the show by our announce teams as the camera overlooks the crowd.

 

Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio

Both men are crazy over with the LA crowd, and both men are co-holders of the WWE Tag Titles. This is a match based on the fact that Eddie wants to prove he can beat Rey. There were crazy expectations for this one because of what happened at Halloween Havoc in WCW years earlier. Rey uses his quickness early, but Eddie catches him with a deep arm drag to ground him. Ricky Steamboat would have proud of that arm drag. Eddie launches Rey over the top to the floor with a slingshot, and he tries to meet him on the floor, but Rey heads back into the ring. They do some nice work off a double knuckle lock, and Eddie gets a back heel trip into a key lock. Rey lands on his feet after a suplex attempt and monkey flips Eddie into the ropes. Eddie has had enough of this nice guy shit and calmly decks Rey with a right hand. That sends Rey to the floor and Eddie follows with a plancha. That gets a two count back in the ring. Eddie goes back to the ground game with a surfboard, but Rey fights to his feet, so Eddie drops him with a sweet belly to back suplex. Things stay on the ground as Eddie locks in a STF. Sound strategy so far from Eddie and the crowd appreciates what they are seeing. He releases the STF and opts for a hammerlock as Rey gets to his feet. An arm drag finally breaks and Eddie bails to the floor. He tries to stall, but a baseball slide from Rey stops that. Eddie staggers around and Rey goes airborne with a corkscrew plancha over the top to the floor. Damn! Eddie gets caught with a top rope seated plancha, but Rey can’t follow up and gets caught. The Three Amigos are next, but Rey escapes on the second attempt and gets a roll-up for two. Eddie remains in control however and hits a vicious backbreaker. The Three Amigos are attempted again, but Rey counters on the third one this time and head scissors Eddie into position for the 6-1-9. Eddie moves through and absolutely destroys Rey with one of the most vicious tilt-a-whirl backbreakers you will ever see.

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 last second. Rey goes for a rollup and Guerrero counters that for two of his own. Powerbomb attempt for Eddie, Rey ducks out and sets Guerrero up for the 619, which he hits. 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 West Coast Pop for the win. Guerrero shakes his hand after the match.

Winner: Rey Mysterio via pinfall

Rating: *** ½

If this went on a bit longer then it would have ended up being the best opening match ever since Bret & Owen at WM10. Their best match ever is the one they had at Halloween Havoc ’97 but this is also a great match too. Sadly, this would end up being Eddie Guerrero’s final WrestleMania appearance. He would die later in the year. RIP Eddie.

 

Backstage, JBL and his crew bumped into Triple H and Ric Flair. Because of the roster split, it was rare seeing the two major title holders together so this was a pretty cool moment. JBL guarantees that he’ll still remain the WWE Champion after the night is done. HUNTER 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 does a “woo” at Orlando Jordan.

 

Up next is the first ever Money in the Bank Ladder match. According to Chris Jericho, the original idea was to call the match “The Hollywood Dream” where the winner would get his wish come true. Sounds like a gay game show, right? The plan was to have Rob Van Dam win and his wish was to bring back ECW (which happened a year later). However, with RVD suffering an injury at the start of the year and Vince not liking the idea, the match was repackaged into the one we all know and love.

 

Money in the Bank Ladder match

Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Edge vs. Kane

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. 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 that I guess we can call a cross body attack. 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 and then Christian. Jericho dropkicks the ladder into Kane’s face. He then drills Benjamin with it in the head and then he hits Edge in the ribs with it. Benoit comes in with a German Suplex, taking out the ladder also. Benoit climbs up, Kane goes to chokeslam him and Benoit counters with a Crossface. Slick counter. Edge gets up, but he is met with a Crossface too. 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. Vicious yet smart. Edge spears Kane. Christian brings in a ladder. They sandwich Kane with a ladder but Benjamin takes both of them out with a springboard clothesline. This is just non-stop mayhem, and it’s great. Benjamin gets whipped into a ladder that was propped in the corner, and Edge looks for the spear. Instead he gets flap jacked into the ladder by Benjamin. A “Shelton” chant erupts and he pleases the crowd by hitting Edge with a Stinger Splash against the ladder.

Now Shelton begins to climb and touches the case, but Jericho returns to fight with him on top. Christian sets up his own ladder and he starts to climb. Edge and Benoit get on another ladder and now we have 5 men battling on top for the briefcase. Benoit and Christian are the first ones to come crashing down (and it hurts inside) and Jericho soon follows. Benjamin brings Edge down with a T-Bone suplex from the ladder. Insane! The crowd loved that one. Jericho is the best of the bunch and he starts to climb, but Christian stops him and in the chaos a ladder gets wedged between the standing ladder. Jericho starts to climb, but Benjamin runs up the slanted ladder and knocks Chris off with a clothesline. That’s fucking crazy right there. Benjamin starts to climb as he is becoming the star of this match, but Kane returns and tries to chokeslam him to the floor, but Benjamin gets caught in the ropes. Tomko cuts off Kane and tries to give Christian an assist up the ladder, but Kane returns in time, and he knocks him off the ladder. That sends Christian flying out of the ring onto Tomko. Jericho and Kane do battle on the ladder, and it falls over sending Kane onto the top rope and sending Jericho to the floor. Benoit, selling the hell out of the arm injury, sets up the ladder in the corner and the crowd is one step ahead. He comes flying off the ladder with the headbutt to Kane and that opens the sutures in Benoit’s head. That’s a cool visual actually and puts over how much these men want this match. Benoit starts to climb, but Kane does the zombie sit up and he meets Benoit on top of the ladder. Benoit fires off machinegun headbutts to send Kane flying off the ladder, and it seems Benoit is ready to win this thing. Edge comes out of nowhere and blasts Benoit’s arm with a chair. That leaves Edge all alone and he climbs the ladder to claim the briefcase.

Winner: Edge

Rating: **** ½

That was awesome! If this was a Football match (or Soccer to my American readers) then Shelton Benjamin would be man of the match (MVP). His athleticism was first class. Chris Benoit and Edge were also outstanding too. Benoit’s selling of his arm injury was so convincing it made you think that he actually did injure his arm. Major props to everyone else involved. Edge won, but it came off as cheap and opportunistic, so it works. There have been many MITB matches over the years but this one has to be one of the best. Fantastic match.

 

Eugene came out and he talked about his WrestleMania moments. “Midgets are awesome” they sure are! Then Muhammad Hassan’s music hits. Hassan 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” hits on the PA system and out comes Hulk Hogan decked in his red & yellow attire. The crowd were going apeshit crazy at this point. Hogan slides in and throws Hassan out of the ring. Daivari cracks a chair across Hogan’s back which he completely no-sells. Hogan does the point, the punches, hits a big boot, does the ear cup and chucks Daivari to the floor. Hogan does his pose down routine before leaving. A great way to use the Hulkster.

 

We get a video package for Undertaker vs. Randy Orton. Orton turn face in the summer of 2004 but it wasn’t working out so they turned him back into his Legend Killer gimmick and put him up against one of the biggest legends in the company, The Undertaker. It was around this time where they started making a big deal about Undertaker’s WrestleMania winning streak.

 

The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton

Orton dodges him to start. He slaps him, and then Taker gets him in a headlock. Into the ropes, leapfrog and dropkick for Orton. 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, and 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. Orton gets sent into the corner and as he stumbles back out, Taker drops him with a sidewalk slam. Back into the corner goes Orton and Taker crushes him with two splashes. Snake eyes follow next, but Orton bounces back with a elbow to get a two count. Nice! The crowd gets all over Orton as he pounds Taker down. He admires his work and Taker does his zombie sit-up to scare the piss out of Orton. Another sloppy spot as it appeared it was supposed to be a double clothesline, but only Orton sold the move. Taker gets a two count off that and seems frustrated, which you don’t normally see from Zombie Taker. The crowd goes quiet as Taker locks in a dragon sleeper. Taker tried using that as his submission finisher before settling for Hell’s Gates. Orton is able to escape and gets his patented chinlock to further kill the crowd. Thankfully, Taker punches out rather quickly, but Orton is tenacious and goes to a sleeper. That is quickly countered by Taker with a suplex to leave both men down in the centre of the ring. Orton charges into a big boot, but is able to snap off a powerslam to get a two count. Orton makes the same mistake as Triple H did at WM X-7 as he mounts Taker in the corner and that leads to Last Ride, but apparently Orton watched that match as he counters. He looks for the RKO, but Taker shoves him off and the ref gets creamed. Taker hits a sloppy Last Ride that really looked like bad. Cowboy Bob runs down to use his cast, but that only gets two as the ref comes too. Cowboy Bob eats a boot and Taker gets the goozle, but in an awesome counter, Orton hits an RKO to a massive pop. That only gets two though. The crowd was ready to buy that as the finisher. Now Orton gets stupid and goes for the Tombstone. Naturally, Taker reverses with ease and drills Orton with his own Tombstone to go 13-0

Winner: The Undertaker via pinfall

Rating: *** ½

It was a good match. 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. They timed it perfectly and I had totally forgotten about it. Orton proved to his doubters that he could hang with a solid, elite veteran like Undertaker whiles Undertaker proved that he still had a ton of gas left in the tank.

 

We get a video package for the Trish/ Christy match. Trish was the heel Women’s Champion whiles Christy had won the first ever Divas Search, so they made her wrestle even though she wasn’t ready for it yet. They added Lita into the storyline to train Hemme in order to give her some credibility.

 

WWE Women’s Championship

Christy Hemme /w/ Lita vs. Trish Stratus ©

Naturally, Trish is taking this match as the joke it is and offers to lay down in the opening moments. She’s just playing mind games however, and immediately pie faces Hemme. Trish takes Hemme to the floor and sends her into the ring steps much to the chagrin of JR. Trish continues to dominate as she chops away, and Lawler even asks if he can have one. In a great moment Trish does Christy’s dance and it gets a pop from the crowd. Christy grabs a leg and gets in her first offensive move: a kick to the vagina. The males groaned on that one out of reflex I think. Trish recovers rather quickly and goes back to dominating the match. She kicks Hemme out of the ring, and shoves Lita away from getting involved. Then once 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. She’s not that bad. Trish rolls her up, but Christy counters that for a nearfall. Trish says enough of this and kicks her in the head with a Chick Kick for the win

Winner and STILL WWE Women’s Champion: Trish Stratus via pinfall

Rating: *

It was a quick match as expected due to Christy’s lack of experience.  She was very limited in what she could do and it showed but she didn’t make a fool of herself so that was good. Trish was awesome as a heel. She’s great as a face also but she’s miles better as a heel.

 

It’s now time for Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle and at this stage I was beyond excited. This was the ultimate dream match in the business at the time. Shawn was the best guy on RAW whiles Angle was the best guy on Smackdown. It started at the Royal Rumble where Shawn eliminated Kurt from the match. Kurt came back in to eliminate Shawn. In the weeks leading up to ‘Mania, Kurt let everyone know when he won the Gold in 96 all anyone wanted to talk about was Shawn Michaels winning the WWF Title and putting on a wrestling clinic with Bret at WM XII. Kurt wanted to prove he could do everything Shawn did, so he beat up someone in a ladder match, sang Sexy Boy with Sherri  (that was hilarious! YouTube gold right there) and then tearing down the house with Marty on Smackdown. This match took place at a time where both guys were able to bring out the best in their opponents and Angle was clearly the best in the entire industry at the time so you could imagine the hype for this one. Did it leave up to it? Let’s find out….

 

Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle

Michaels is out first. Angle is next. Good reactions for both. Ross & Lawler were doing the announcing. Shawn starts things off proper by slipping the taste out of Angle’s mouth. Sweet! Pissed off Angle is always a plus, and he immediately goes to the mat game. Shawn gets to the ropes to break as a “You screwed Bret” chant starts. Shawn is able to get a headlock, and Angle tries to break with a suplex, but Shawn maintains the hold. Angle is finally able to break, but he immediately gets taken down again with the hold. A dueling chant starts as Angle continues to struggle with the headlock. He finally gets a break as he backs Michaels into the corner. They start over again, and once again, Angle gets dropped with a side headlock. Now Angle escapes with ease and he runs over Shawn with a shoulder block. Shawn gets a hiptoss and keeps Angle grounded with a short arm scissors. Angle is able to roll Shawn over into a pin, but Shawn rolls back to break the count. Angle then does the Bob Backlund spot as he lifts Shawn off the mat. Shawn has seen that before in his series of matches with the Bulldog, and counters into a victory roll for two. Shawn goes back to the headlock, but Angle has seen that move one too many times and breaks easily in the corner. Now things start to get more aggressive as they start trading blows in the corner. Kurt gets the best of that and rabbit punches Shawn to drop him and then locks in the ankle lock. Shawn kicks off and sends Angle to the floor. Shawn is now good and pissed and he clears the announce table. He heads back in the ring to break the count, but that gives Kurt a chance to regroup. Kurt tries a suplex onto the table, but Shawn lands on his feet and starts chopping. Kurt ducks a third chop and gives Shawn an Angle Slam into the ring post. Sick! Back inside the ring Angle fires off some suplexes for a few near falls and goes to a body scissor to continue the work on the back. Shawn is able to fight to his feet and pushes Kurt into the corner where he eats some chops. Kurt regains the advantage and whips Shawn into the corner where he takes his patented bump. As Shawn bounces back, Kurt tosses him around the ring with an overhead belly to belly suplex. We get a replay off the Angle Slam into the post and it shows that Shawn took most of the blow to his legs and not his back. They start trading blows and Shawn gets cocky once again as he slaps Kurt in the face. Again, that just serves to piss off Angle and he takes off Shawn’s head with a clothesline. Damn! They fight up top and Kurt looks for a superplex, but Shawn is able to push off. He looks for the flying elbow, but Kurt moves. A backdrop sends Kurt over the top and to the floor. Shawn comes flying off the top rope with a crossbody to the floor to leave both men out. They fight to the apron and Kurt tries to kill Shawn with a German Suplex from there through the announce table. Shawn is able to elbow out and a timely low blow sends Angle back to the floor.

That actually drew a noticeable boo from the crowd. Angle ends up on the announce table and Shawn hits a springboard splash onto Kurt which doesn’t break the table. JR and Lawler note that the tables were reinforced. Both men crawl back into the ring and Kurt is legit bleeding from the mouth. I believe it happened when Shawn’s knee caught him with the crossbody from the top rope. Shawn starts firing off chops and hits the flying forearm. Shawn gets to his feet and slams Kurt to set up the flying elbow. This time is does hit and the band starts tuning, but Kurt says hell with that and calmly catches the foot to hook in the ankle lock. Now the crowd is losing their collective minds as Shawn starts flopping around like a fish. Shawn tries to break, but Kurt maintains the hold. He is finally able to get to the ropes and Kurt has no choice but to release the hold. Kurt looks for the Angle Slam, but Shawn reverses to a roll-up. However, Kurt rolls through that to get the ankle lock. Shawn counters that with another roll-up, and looks for Sweet Chin Music. Again Kurt catches the boot and hits the Angle Slam for two. The strap comes down and Kurt heads up for the moonsault. The move misses as usual, and Shawn decides he wants to head up top. He takes way too long though and Angle pops up to give Shawn a Super Angle Slam for a hot near fall. Damn! The crowd was ready to buy that as the finish. Kurt is super pissed now and picks up a lifeless Shawn to talk some shit to him. Big mistake there as Shawn calmly pushes him away and delivers Sweet Chin Music. That was so damn awesome! Shawn crawls and gets an arm draped over Kurt, but it only gets two. So damn close. One of the better nearfalls you will ever see. 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 to the centre. He’s been in the hold for a good minute now. Now Angle goes down in 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 about two minutes. Wow. Angle wins via submission. Post match, the crowd gives them a standing ovation and HBK gets one of his own too.

Winner: Kurt Angle via submission

Rating: *****

Did it leave up to the hype? It fucking smashed the hype! It went above any beyond my expectations. The amount of counter holds was unreal. The drama was off the charts. You never knew when it was going to end. It was one incredible spot after another. Finishers kicked out of, drama at the end, and everything you want in a match. The time allocated was perfect, 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. Wrestling doesn’t have to be about two guys destroying each other with chairs or putting one another through tables. Yeah there was a table used in this match but it wasn’t the story. The story was all about two guys refusing to quit and the only reason Shawn quit was because the pain was excruciating. It’s sad that Kurt has had a few problems with alcohol (he was man enough to admit it and to check himself into rehab) but that change my opinion of him. He is one of the greatest wrestlers ever and this match is the reason why that is. I’ll never get tired of watching it. It’s one of the best matches ever.

 

They showed the Basic Instinct commercial staring Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Christian, Stacy Keibler, Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young.

 

Piper’s Pit with Stone Cold

The bagpipes play and here comes Roddy Piper. He said thanks for the Hall of Fame and 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 and 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 and then he slaps him. Piper has fun with the “What” chants and does better with them than most other wrestlers have over the years. Piper claims he was pissing off McMahon and raising hell when the red on Austin’s neck was diaper rash. Before things can get too interesting Carlito comes out to spoil things. Carlito tells them that everyone wants to see him and it gets a decent pop. Piper doesn’t know who he is and invites him in the ring if he wants to fight. Carlito asks them to leave the ring, and that goes as well as you would expect. Carlito teases spitting the apple, but Piper steals the apple and spits it at him instead. Carlito attacks Piper and Austin just stands back to watch. Eventually Austin gets involved and stops a mud hole in Carlito. Piper gives him an eye poke and Austin stuns him for good measure. Piper and Austin shares some beers before Piper also ends up eating a Stunner. Seeing Piper and Austin got at it verbally was pretty fun even if there was no point other than giving the crowd a chance to cool down after Angle/Michaels.

 

The favourite trailer as voted by the fans is Taxi Driver and we see the clip of that.

 

Sumo Match

Akebono vs. Big Show

The crowd doesn’t know what to make of Akebono. Cole and Tazz explain everything pretty well for those who have no clue about the traditions and customs of a Sumo Match. 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 ropes have been removed. They wear the traditional sumo garb, do 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. To their credit the crowd is actually intrigued by the match, but start to grow tired of the stalling. It’s basically a slap fight to start and it’s a stalemate. They start colliding into each other, but neither man can gain an advantage. Show gets some leverage and uses the sumo belt to lift Akebono, but that leaves him off balance and he gets shoved out of the circle to end things. They shake hands afterwards.

Winner: Akebono

Rating: -**

At least it was short. Seeing Big Show in a Sumo thong was a visual that I really didn’t need to see!

 

The WWE title match is up next. JBL had a really long run as champion. Cena was the runner up in the Royal Rumble. He was a babyface on the rise so it was the right call to put him in a title match here. JBL gets a police escort for his entrance. Money is falling from the ceiling with JBL’s face on it. Cena is out to a massive pop. Pretty weird hearing him receives those sorts of reactions when you consider the mixed reactions he gets nowadays.

 

WWE Championship

John Bradshaw Layfield © vs. John Cena

For the second straight year the WWE Title match plays under the World Title, and in this case it was definitely a good call. JBL gets dropped with a shoulder, but catches Cena coming in a second time and drops him with his own shoulder block. Cena sets too early on a backdrop attempt and catches a forearm to his back. The crowd is absolutely dead as JBL controls with his brawling offense. That offense mainly consists of some punching and choking. Cena starts to fire back and is able to gain some momentum, but JBL kills that noise with a variation of a spinebuster. Not exactly Arn Anderson quality, but the thought was there. JBL fires off a neckbreaker for a two count. He toys with Cena by booting him around the ring, and gets another two count off a nice short arm clothesline. Things screech down even more as JBL works in a sleeper hold. A select few in the crowd try to rally Cena, but it’s kind of sad actually. Cena is able to break the hold with a belly to back suplex. Both men struggle to their feet and they clothesline each other. Again, both men struggle to their feet and JBL stays one step ahead as he sends Cena to the floor by pulling on his shorts. Out on the floor JBL fires off his third neckbreaker of the match and gets another two count when the action returns to the ring. Cena gets placed on the top rope and JBL brings him down with a superplex. I like that JBL keeps working on the neck and back. 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 three. Match was eleven minutes. Cena is the new WWE Champion.  Post-match, Cena celebrates with the fans. He did a really good job of celebrating the win by showing emotion that was very genuine. Shortly after he’d moved to Raw where’s he’s been the face of the company for the past nine years. Has it been that long? Yes.

Winner and NEW WWE Champion: John Cena via pinfall

Rating: **

Very underwhelming match. It didn’t feel like a WrestleMania match of such prime importance. It just felt like another TV match. If you love clotheslines then this is the match for you. This was the first World/WWE title match Cena was involved in at WrestleMania. He would be involved in a major title match for the next 7 WrestleManias. Thankfully, these two would redeem themselves at Judgment Day with in a violent I Quit Match.

 

A video package covers the Hall of Fame ceremony the night before, and Okerlund introduces the members to the Staples Centre crowd. The Class of 2005 went as follows: Nikolai Volkoff, The Iron Sheik, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Jimmy Hart, Roddy Piper, and Hulk Hogan. Not surprisingly, Hulk Hogan gets the loudest reaction of them all.

 

It was announced at this time that the 22nd WrestleMania will take place in Illinois.

 

It World title time as Triple H defends his title against Batista.  The idea was that Hunter was acting like a jerk, overlooking Batista and we would soon realise that Batista was smarter than he appeared. Batista won the Rumble. There was a question of what title he would go after. He went after Hunter. The crowd really got behind Batista, who was very popular as a babyface. His improvement over the previous year was pretty amazing. At WM20 you would have thought that Orton would have been in the main event of WM21. I guess that was the plan but Orton’s face run just wasn’t working hence why Batista got the nod.

 

The band Motorhead preformed Triple H’s entrance theme. Ric Flair accompanied Hunter to the ring. Batista made his entrance. He had his old entrance theme here which I preferred because it sounded so damn sinister. He got a huge reception from the crowd. In his autobiography, Batista mentioned that he got emotional during his entrance and it showed. He wiped away a tear during his entrance.

 

World Heavyweight Championship

Triple H © /w/ Ric Flair vs. Batista

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 body drop 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.

Things start to pick up a little on the floor as Batista gets sent into the steps. HHH starts rearranging the steps and looks for a pedigree, but Batista counters into a catapult. That sends HHH into the post and we have blood. It’s a good one to as the blood starts flowing over the face and chest of Hunter. Once back inside the ring Batista goes crazy with forearms and rights as he looks to open the cut. A sick boot to the head does the trick, and the mat starts to get stained with HHH’s blood. Cool! Batista dominates with his power game and you almost feel sorry for Hunter as he gets his ass kicked all over the ring. Almost. A stiff running corner clothesline damn near kills Hunter and even the crowd groaned with that one. That gets a two count, and HHH has had enough as he bails to the floor. Flair tries to get involved and he eats a right hand. Triple H tries to use a chair to save his title, but the ref stops that. Hunter begs off in the ring and Flair looks to use the title, but he runs into a spinebuster. The ref rolls Flair out of the ring and that gives Hunter a chance to use the title. The crowd does not approve, but Batista is able to kick out at two. Now HHH doesn’t know what to do and he gets caught with a spinebuster. Batista looks to finish with, but HHH counters a Batista Bomb. Hunter has the pedigree hooked, but there’s too much power from Batista and he breaks in a rather impressive fashion with a wheelbarrow slam. Batista goes Warrior on everyone by shaking the ropes, gives us a thumbs down, and ends Triple H’s reign with a Batista Bomb.

Winner and NEW World Heavyweight Champion: Batista via pinfall

Rating: ***

I liked the booking of this match a lot because it really made Batista strong. It was a dominant win. Hunter had some offense early on, but once Batista started getting the momentum there was very little in the way of comebacks from Hunter. It was booked smartly. They would go on have a great Hell in a Cell match a couple of months after this which was an outstanding match. I really liked the Batista/HHH feud. The intensity of both guys really helped. You could tell Batista really wanted to kick his ass while Hunter was good at being cowardly once in a while since he was the smaller of the two guys. When a feud is so good that it benefits both guys that’s when you know it’s a winner. After the feud with Hunter was over, Batista moved to Smackdown to be the top guy on that show while Cena moved over to Raw.

 

Batista celebrates with the title as the show ends with a video package recapping the show’s highlights.

 

*Random Thoughts*

 

  • The coronations of Batista & John Cena were done to perfection. You could tell by their faces just how much it meant to them. You knew they’d win their respected matches. I remember thinking at the time that they should have ended the show with Cena & Batista celebrating together much like what Benoit & Guerrero did the previous year. While Cena & Batista weren’t billed as friends, it would have been a cool visual to see these two new champions posing to end the show.
  • The highlight of the show was the HBK/ Kurt Angle match. A lot of matches have a lot of hype which they fail to live up to but this one surpassed the hype.
  • What can I say about the Money in the Bank match? There were some crazy spots but nothing as outrageous as TLC matches in terms of really big bumps or blows to the head. Each guy worked their arses off and that’s no surprise when you consider the level of talent involved in the match.
  • I was sad watching Eddie Guerrero here because it was his final WrestleMania. His feud with Rey was hit and miss at times but you could tell Eddie was enjoying it after all the stress he was under the previous year when he was the WWE Champion.
  • Did the camera guys really need to zoom in on Big Show’s arse? That was disturbing!
  • The way they used Hulk Hogan was a ton of fun. The crowd was shit hot for the Hulkster. At the time of writing, this was Hogan’s last appearance at WrestleMania and it’s looking likely that it would be his last too. Love him or hate him, you can’t deny the impact Hulk Hogan has made on the business. He carried the company for so long in the early days.

 

Best match: Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle – Tremendous match between two of the best ever.

Worst match: Akebono vs. Big Show – Never again should Big Show ever wear a Sumo thong.

WrestleMania Moment: HBK tapping out to the Ankle Lock – The drama leading towards the end was awesome. True edge of your seat stuff!

 

Top 5 Superstars

1. Kurt Angle- Was the best in the industry at the time. Showed a lot of aggression towards the end because he was getting frustrated that he couldn’t put Shawn away.

2. Shawn Michaels – Proved he could hang with the best and that he was one of the best even when he was one of the oldest guys on the roster.

3. Edge – He won in the second best match of the night. The way he won was so perfect for his character.

4. 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. I just wished he had gotten a bigger push out of this.

5. Chris Benoit – His selling of his arm injury was so convincing. The headbutt off the top of the ladder was a memorable spot too.

 

Updated rankings chart:

Shawn Michaels – 33pts

Hulk Hogan – 30pts

Macho Man Randy Savage – 29pts

Bret Hart – 25pts

Stone Cold – 24pts

The Rock – 17pts

Kurt Angle – 13pts

Ricky Steamboat– 10pts

Triple H – 9pts

Owen Hart – 8pts

Ultimate Warrior/ Roddy Piper– 7pts

Mick Foley/ Jeff Hardy/ Undertaker/ Chris Benoit– 6pts

Dynamite Kid/Rick Rude/ Ted Dibiase/Edge – 5pts

Terry Funk/ Bam Bam Bigelow/ Diesel/ Eddie Guerrero- 4pts

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

Greg Valentine/ Scott Steiner/ Razor Ramon/Shane McMahon/ Christian/Brock Lesnar/Shelton Benjamin-2pts

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

 

Overall Show Rating (Out of 10): 9

An excellent show that I would rate the 3rd after the first 21 WrestleManias. I remember a lot of people hating this show but I enjoyed it. Not as deep as WM 17 & 19 but it’s worth a look. The HBK/Angle and MITB matches are highlights.

 

WrestleMania Rankings so far:

WrestleMania 17 – 10

WrestleMania 19 – 9.5

WrestleMania 21 – 9

WrestleMania 14 – 8.5

WrestleMania 20 – 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 “big time” as we head into WrestleMania 22

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