The Best and Worst of WrestleMania
The Third Best WrestleMania Is…
WrestleMania XXI – Staples Center – Los Angeles, California, 2005
The show began with Lilian Garcia singing America The Beautiful and I will take her rendition over just about any other. She also has some badass backup singers here.
Then we get a video that is a composite of a lot of the classic videos that WWE made with their Superstars paying tribute to a bunch of classic movies, which are some of the very best work the company has ever done to promote a show. They then finish it off with the unveiling of a video starring Stone Cold Steve Austin paying tribute to Gladiator.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio
These two are the tag team champions on Smackdown at the time, and this is built as a respect match of a type. This was the beginning of their long feud that would take place most of the rest of the year. The crowd in LA was very pro Eddie. They start off wrestling on the mat to begin the match. Rey hits a Flying Forearm for a quick two, but Eddie comes back for a quick two count. Rey is having trouble keeping his mask on here. They went to a double knuckle lock and did some great work from there, culminating in Eddie catapulting him over the top to the floor. Eddie missed a baseball slide, but Rey missed a 619, and they stood off. They went back to the double knuckle lock, jockeying for position, into Rey broke out and hit a shoulder block, they traded positions until Rey sent Eddie flying with a reverse monkey flip. Rey tried to land on his feet on a backdrop, but Eddie nailed him with a right hand to send to the floor, and then hit a pescado. Eddie covered for a two count. He worked the arm for a bit, and then hit the best back suplex you will ever see for a two count, then lifted him in an Inverted Surfboard. But Eddie’s shoulders went down for a two count.
Eddie then switched into a STF, then into a side armbar and a hammerlock, but Rey finally hit an armdrag from a crazy angle to send him to the floor. Rey then flew at him with a corkscrew pescado. Rey tossed him back in the ring and hit a springboard senton, but Eddie cut him off with a back elbow. Eddie hit the First Amigo, but Rey countered the second one into a rollup for a two count. Eddie cut him off again and hit an atomic backbreaker for a two count. Eddie then hits Two Amigos, but Rey tries to counter the third and ends up in an Alabama Slam position, but Rey hits a headscissors that puts Eddie in position for a 619, but Eddie moves and catches Rey in tilt a whirl backbreaker for a near fall.
Eddie finally hit all three Amigos, but missed the Frog Splash! Rey went for La Magistral, but Eddie blocked it and got a two count. Eddie charged into a pair of boots to the gut, and went for an over the shoulder sunset flip, but Eddie blocked it, only to have Rey come back with a drop toe hold hotshot and the 619! Rey went for the West Coast Pop, but Eddie caught him with a stack powerbomb for an awesome near fall. Eddie charged into an elbow, but when he went to catch him in a tilt a whirl, but Rey turned into a hurricanrana for the pin!
Winner: Rey via pinfall, 12:36
After the match, it was all hugs and handshakes between the partners.
In the back, WWE Champ JBL in came in with his assistant, US Champ Orlando Jordan. John was talking about making John Cena worship at his feet when they ran into World Champ Triple H with Ric Flair. H made fun of JBL’s Wrestling God nickname. JBL then reminded him that he had never lost his title, where H had many times. H told him if he told himself he was good, someone would someday believe him. Each promised to dominate their opponent and then said they would see who the better champion is. Flair ended the segment by Woooing in Jordan’s face.
Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs Christian vs. Edge vs Shelton Benjamin vs. Kane in the First Ever Money In The Bank Ladder Match
There is going to be too much action to call here. Everyone decided to attack Kane in the aisleway before the match formally began. A dive series ended Kane taking out five guys with a big plancha! Kane was the first to grab a ladder and did damage with it until Jericho missile dropkicked it into him. Jericho ruled until Benoit German suplexed him with ladder in hand. Kane took out Benoit and crushed his arm with a ladder several times. Christian and Edge worked together, hitting a ladder conchairto on Kane, but Benjamin took them both out. Edge tried to spear him into a ladder, but Benjamin caught him a flapjack on the ladder, then gave him a Stinger splash into the ladder. He was the first to try to climb a ladder but then he had five guys on three ladders going for the belt. Christian, Jericho, and Benoit took huge bumps off the ladder, and Benjamin hit Edge with a T-Bone off the ladder! Jericho went up and got close to the brief case but Benjamin climbed the ladder and clotheslined Jericho off in one of the craziest spots ever. Kane finally came back and hit Christian for a ladder and went to choke slam Benjamin off the top, but his leg got caught in the rope.
Tyson Tomko, Christian’s Problem Solver, came in and hit a big boot on Kane, then set up a ladder. He put Christian on his shoulders and began climbing the ladder. Kane took him out, but Christian was almost there. Kane pushed off the ladder and Christian fell off into Tomko. Kane went to climb, but Jericho came off and tried to stop him. The ladder tipped over from the weight and both men crashed. Benoit then set up a ladder and hit a Flying Headbutt of the ladder on Kane. Benoit tried to climb, but his arm was destroyed. Kane went up to stop him and Benoit went and hit him with a series of headbutts and knocked him off. Benoit was in arm’s length of the briefcase when Edge hit him in the shoulder with a chair. He took a big bump off and Edge climbed and grabbed the briefcase for the biggest win of his career so far.
Winner: Edge via pinfall, 15:17
Immediate speculation began to as when Edge would cash in the briefcase. Then out of nowhere, Eugene came out, which is crazy to remember how over that character was at one time. He came out and talked about how much he loved WrestleMania and brought up the King Kong Bundy-little people incident from WrestleMania III. Then Muhammad Hassan and Daviri came out. Another crazy ass gimmick that had a ton of heat at that time. Hassan talked how he had been excluded from WrestleMania and brought up LA’s racist history. He said he was still unbeaten, but had to take a backseat, which was a bigger disgrace then Eugene was. He said if he wasn’t given a WrestleMania moment, he would take one. Hassan then stomped Eugene’s injured knee and locked him in the camel clutch while Daviri trashed talked in Farsi. But then “Real American” hit and Hulk Hogan came out to a huge pop, having being inducted into the HOF last night. Hogan charged the ring and they tried to cut him off, but he knocked their heads together. Hogan then lit up Daviri with a series of rights and a boot to the face, then threw over the top. Daviri hit him in the back with a chair, but Hogan pointed the finger and nailed him with a boot and threw him over the top to. The crowd ate it up, and Hulk Must Pose.
Then we get a hype video for The Undertaker vs Randy Orton, who had done everything he could to try to provoke Taker, even using his father, Bob Orton Jr. This may have been the year where breaking the Streak was something that someone sought to do.
The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton
Taker made his classic entrance, riding something to the ring that made it look like he was gliding. These entrances were much shorter with the arena shows and point a current problem with Wrestlemania entrances, they take too damn long. This is prime “Burn In My Light” Orton. For money, one of the best entrance songs ever. Orton tried to play keep away from Taker, further provoking him by slapping Taker in the face. Taker responded by locking in a headlock. Orton broke out and hit a dropkick and a backdrop, but Taker came back by decking him with a right hand. Taker worked him over in a corner, but Orton countered a shoulder block into a schoolboy for a two count and went for the RKO, but Taker dumped him over the top to the floor. Taker followed him out and worked him over, then hit his trademark leg drop on the apron, followed by the Old School axhandle. Taker missed a Yakuza Kick in the corner however, and Orton dropkicked him off the apron into the guard rail.
Orton brought him back in the ring and hey traded shots until Orton nailed him with a clothesline for a two count, but Taker came back with a running DDT, then a sidewalk slam for near falls. Taker whipped Orton from corner to corner and hit the snake eyes, but Orton cut him off with a back elbow. Orton began throwing hard elbows to the neck of Taker. But Taker sat up. They started trading strikes, but Taker nailed him with a clothesline for a two count. Taker locked in a Dragon Sleeper. Orton’s arm falls twice, but he manages to counter into a DDT for a two count. Orton tried to lock in a headlock, but Taker punches his way to his feet, but Orton caught him a sleeperhold. Taker countered into a back suplex. Taker caught Orton charging into a boot and went for a Flying Clothesline, but Orton caught him in a powerslam for a two count.
Orton hit a 10 punch in the corner, but Taker came out of the corner looking for a huge Last Ride, but Orton came out of the back and went for the RKO, but Taker threw him into the ref. Taker went for the Last Ride again, but Orton fell on top. Taker slipped out and he was up, but Cowboy Bob Orton came in and nailed Taker with his cast. Orton crawled over just as the ref was up, but Taker kicked out! Taker sat up again. Taker came at Orton with a series of rights, then put Cowboy Bob down with a boot. Taker then went for a chokeslam on Orton, but he somehow turned it into a RKO! Orton got an arm on, but Taker kicked out! Orton called for the end and actually went for a Tombstone, but Taker reversed it and drilled him with a Tombstone Piledriver for the win. The Streak goes to 13-0.
Winner: Undertaker via pinfall, 14:14
We then get a Women’s title preview. Christy Hemme, who won the first Diva Search, made her way into Playboy, which called her champion, which pissed off Trish, the current champion. Christy had enlisted Trish’s rival, the then injured Lita to train her. Still a very different era.
Trish Stratus (C) vs. Christy Hemme (with Lita) for the WWE Women’s Title
Trish feigned laying down for Hemme. She mocked her, then tossed her to the floor, then threw her into the steps, then nailed her with a few chops. They got back in the ring and Trish went for her Chick Kick, but Christy blocked and Lita jumped on the apron so Christy could kick Trish in the crotch. Christy double legged her and stomped her in the gut, then got a clumsy pin with her legs for a two count. Trish cut her off and went to work with some chops. Trish took some to mock Lita, then charged, but Christy did a split leading to a sunset flip for a two count, but Trish cut her off with a spear. Trish kicked her out of the ring to the floor, then followed her to kick her in the ribs. Trish broke the count, then shoved Lita when she got too close. They got back in the ring and Lita distracted Trish and Christy rolled her up for a two count, Christy launched the best offense she could, hitting Trish wirh series of weak leg kicks, then slamming her head ten time sinto the buckle. Christy threw her down by the hair, then hit a okay neckbreaker for a near fall. They traded rollup for near falls , but then Trish landed the Chick Kick and that’s all she wrote.
Winner: Trish via pinfall, 4:14
Then we get a Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels Hype Video, as if we needed one. But they did a lot of cool things, tieing in what they both did in 1996, and Kurt bringing in Marty Janetty and Sherri Martel for segments. This was also the first time that Michaels referred to himself as Mr. WrestleMania.
Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels
They had a long stare down to start the match, until Shawn slapped him in the face. Angle took him down with a double leg and rode his back for a while until Shawn got the ropes. We are still in the “You Screwed Bret” years here. They lock up, and Shawn actually takes Angle over, but Angle rolls him up for a two count. Shawn keeps his headlock on, even through an Angle back suplex. Angle tossed him and Shawn hit a shoulder block and took him back down with a headlock. Angle tried to toss him in, but Shawn blocked it and slid back to the mat. Angle finally broke the hold and knocked Shawn down with a shoulder block, but Shawn came back with a hip toss into a shortarm scissors. Angle worked his way to his feet and lifted Shawn up off the mat, but Shawn countered with a sunset flip and a backslide for near falls, then went back to the damn headlock. Angle managed to stand up and finally get him in the corner and they started traded blows. The ref physically had to separate them, but Angle nailed him from behind and locked in the Ankle Lock! Shawn rolled out and then hit a Cactus clothesline that took them both over the top to the floor. Shawn then stripped the Spanish announce table, but Angle cut him off with a European Uppercut. Angle feigned suplexing him on the table, but Shawn fought out, only to have Kurt Angle Slam him into the ringpost. Angle then went after the back.
Angle hit a vertical suplex for a two count, then locked in a bodyscissors. Shawn managed to fight his way out with a series of chops, but Angle reversed a whip and hit an overhead Belly to Belly suplex. Angle hit another one for a two count. Kurt his knee for a camel clutch. Shawn fought the hold and got to his feet, and they trading blows, and Shawn slapped Kurt again! Kurt then nailed him with a clothesline for a two count. Angle went for a top rope Belly to Belly, but Michaels fought him off and went for the top rope elbow, but Angle moved out of the way and pulled down the straps. Angle went for the Olympic Slam, but Shawn arm dragged out and backdropped him to the floor. Shawn hit a somewhat clumsy Flying Bodypress to the floor. Shawn tried to get back in the ring, but Angle went up and tried to German him on the table, but Shawn did everything he could to fight it off, until he threw a low blow that the ref didn’t see.
HBK then put Angle on the table and hit a sky twister press on him, but the table didn’t break! Both men barely beat the count to get back in. They came out swinging, but Shawn hit the Flying Forearm and nipped up. He made his standard comeback, leading to the top rope elbow drop. Shawn went for the superkick, but Kurt caught it and slapped on the Ankle Lock! Shawn tried to roll through, but Angle held on to the leg. Shawn made a titanic struggle to the ropes. Angle went for the Olympic Slam, but Shawn tried to turn into a sunset flip, but Angle rolled through and grabbed the Ankle Lock, but Shawn rolled him up for a two count. Angle missed a clothesline but Shawn missed a Superkick and Kurt hit the Angle Slam, but Shawn kicked out! Kurt then missed a big moonsault. Michaels went up top, but Kurt caught him with a running Angle Slam, but he somehow kicked out! The crowd is beside themselves.
Angle was trash talking Shawn, but Shawn superkicked him out of nowhere! Shawn crawled over and got an arm on top, but Angle kicked out! Shawn tried very hard to stand, but somehow Angle came alive and grabbed the Ankle Lock! Shawn did everything he could to fight the move. Angle twice pulled him into the center of the ring, and soon Angle added a kneebar to the hold. Shawn fought the move for as long as he could before finally taping out. Goodness gracious.
Winner: Angle via submission, 27:32
Then we get Piper’s Pit with Stone Cold Steve Austin. The crowd was still loud despite what they had just seen. They greeted each other by slapping each other in the face. Piper said he kinda liked him now Piper said he had a lot of respect for Steve. The crowd was ‘What” every damn sentence. Roddy seemed annoyed, but ran with it. Roddy claimed he was the biggest rebel in WWE and said he was his here when WrestleMania didn’t have a number. Austin did this thing and wondered if he was supposed to be scared. In the middle of the fun, Carlito (remember him) came out. He talked his game, but Piper stole his apple and spit it at him. Carlito then jumped him until Austin pulled him and stomped a mud hole in him, then tossed him up, Piper hit an eye poke,and Austin hit the stunner. Austin and Piper had a few beers, but then Austin caught him with a stunner!
Akebeno vs. Big Show in a Sumo Match
Show tried to push him, but Akebeno tossed him out of the ring. Yeah…
Winner: Akebeno via toss, 1:02
We then get a JBL/John Cena video.
JBL vs. John Cena for the WWE Championship
JBL came out in his white limo, with a police escort bringing him in. Fake Money with JBL’s face on it came down from the ceiling. JBL sent Orlando Jordan to the back in the limo. He was set to go it alone. This was actually the first time John Cena had debuted “My Time Is Now” as his entrance song, having debuted it the previous week on Smackdown. They locked up to the begin the match. JBL slapped on a headlock and hit a shoulderblock, but Cena came back with a leapfrog and a shoulderblock. But Cena charged into a boot, and JBL ran over Cena with a shoulderblock. JBL started working Cena in the corner then nailed him with a pair of spinning neckbreakers for a two count. They traded rights, and Cena catches with him with his boot, but JBL catches him with a spinebuster for a two count.
You forget how huge JBL was. JBL hit a neckbreaker for a near fall. The fans started getting behind Cena, but JBL kept on cutting him off. JBL hit a clothesline in the corner, then a short arm clothesline for a near fall. JBL then went to the sleeper hold, but he managed to back suplex out. They collided on a clothesline, but Cena came up throwing rights hands, but JBL tossed him to the floor, then hit a spinning neckbreaker on the floor. JBL crotched him on the top and hit some chops and then he hit a superplex on Cena. He was slow to make a cover and Cena kicked out. JBL then went for a Flying Bodypress, but Cena caught him with a powerslam. Cena then finally made rhe real comeback- a pair of clotheslines, a backdrop, a shoulder tackle, and a hip toss. He hit the Protoplex, then the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena charged into a boot, and JBL went for the clothesline from Hell, but Cena ducked it and hit the FU for the three count to win his first WWE Title! But there’s no way he’ll wins as many titles as Ric Flar! Oh wait…
Winner: Cena via pinfall, 11:26
Cena jumped in the middle of a bunch of fans to celebrate. New era dawning yo.
Then we get a HOF video. This class was Bob Orton Jr, Nikolai Volkoff, Iron Sheik (who stole the damn show, of course), Paul Orndorff, Jimmy Hart, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and the headliner, Hulk Hogan, who was introduced by Sylvester Stallone. Then we get the ceremony with Mean Gene, which rules.
Then we get a Batista-Triple H video, centering the famous thumbs up/thumbs down segment, where Batista feigned going to Smackdown to face JBL and instead powerbombed H through a table and signed to face him.
Triple H (C) (with Ric Flair) vs. Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship
Triple H has Motorhead playing him to the ring. RIP, Lemmy. Batista is everything they wish Roman Reigns could have been. They start out with your basic power match stuff, testing each other with shoulder blocks. H finally took Batista down with one, and went for a Pedigree, but getting out and hitting a gorilla press slam. H came back with a high knee that sent him out to the floor. Flair caused a distraction and H slammed his head into the steps. Hunter threw him in the ring and started working him with chokeholds, then distracted him so Flair could choke him with his coat. Hunter slammed him back first into the rail, then threw him back in the ring and went after his back. Hunter hit a backbreaker, then distracted the ref so Flair could use his coat again. Batista tried to rally with some right hands, but Hunter came back with a spinebuster for a trio of two counts. Hunter for a Pedigree, but Batista got out with a backdrop, but Hunter came back with a facebuster on the knee. Hunter for a top rope axhandle, but Batista caught with a clothesline.
Batista hit a sidewalk slam for a two count, but Hunter got a boot up on a charge. Hunter went for a whip, but Batista blocked and whipped him over the top to the floor. Hunter cut him off and tried to Pedigree him on the steps, but Batista tripped out and catapulted him into the ringpost, and Hunter was busted open. Batista then went on the attack, slamming his head into the steps. Batista hammered with forearms to the chest, then nailed him with a Yakuza kick. Batista hit a series of corner clotheslines, the last one which dropped Hunter hard. Batista hit a powerslam for a two count. Hunter tried to take a powder, but Batista gave chase. Flair tried to come from behind and got decked. Hunter tried to grab a chair, but Mike Choida dove off the freaking apron to stop from using it! Cool spot, but honestly what the hell? They went back in the ring, and Flair tried to come in with the belt, but Batista caught him with a spinebuster.
Choida came in to get Flair out, and Hunter nailed him with the belt. The fans booed, but Batista kicked out. Batista then caught Hunter with a spinebuster, and went for the Batista Bomb, but Hunter nailed with a low blow. Batista’s sell job here was awesome. Hunter then went for the Pedigree one more time and actually his hands hooked for the first time (JR had done a great job of noting this throughout the match), but Batista just blocked his power, broke the grip, and then lifted him and came down with the Air Raid Crash. Batista did the thumbs up…thumbs down, and hit the Batista Bomb for the three count. Batista wins his first World Title and Raw has its monster!
Winner: Batista via pinfall, 21:34
Then it was all pyro as the big man celebrated to end the show. And we get highlights.
Why This The Third Best: In ring wise, this was fantastic. I wouldn’t argue with you too hard if you called Angle vs Michaels the best WrestleMania match ever. Just fantastic. Eddie vs Rey is probably one of the better opening matches ever, Taker-Orton is great, as our MITB and the Main Event, and the segments with the HOF’ers are both great. But we do have two giant duds on this show-the Women’s Title and The Sumo Match, and that keeps this show from going even higher. But with Cena and Batista winning their first titles and the first MITB, I don’t think a show can get more changing of the guard then this. God, Michaels and Angle was good.