February 15, 2008
Wrestlemania 21, April 3, 2005, Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Announcers: The teams of: Jim Ross & Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Michael Cole & Tazz
A short trip now, back to 2005 for the year that Wrestlemania goes Hollywood. To that end, the buildup for the show featured the wrestlers in parody movie trailers which were some of the best things to ever come out of the WWE writers room, but I guess that’s what happens when you hire people who don’t know wrestling to write the shows. We get a cool montage of the previous ones to open the show, and then we get one more new one featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin in Gladiator before the show gets underway for real. Great stuff.
Opening Match: Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr.
These guys hold the WWE Tag Team Titles at this point, but were also engaging a friendly rivalry of sorts. The idea was that Eddie had been slipping a bit as a singles wrestler since his WWE Title run came to an end so he and Rey faced off. Rey beat him a couple of times as they planted the seeds for a turn, but nothing has come of it thus far. Eddie starts out with a side headlock takedown for 1, then switches to a wristlock and then to an armbar. Rey gets to his feet, so Eddie uses a fireman’s carry, buy Rey lands on his feet and comes off the ropes with a shoulderblock for 1. Irish whip is reversed and Eddie gets an armdrag to an armbar. He holds Rey down for a few 1 counts off of that before Rey gets out with a sunset flip, but Eddie counters that and slingshots Rey to the floor. He goes for a baseball slide, but Rey gets back in to avoid it. Rey comes off the ropes and fakes Eddie out on a dive. Eddie cautiously gets back in and they go to a test of strength. Rey monkey flips out, but Eddie takes him back down with a keylock. Rey is back up, so Eddie tries a northern lights suplex, but Rey lands on his feet and nails a shoulderblock. He comes off again, Eddie leapfrogs him and comes off the ropes himself, but takes another monkey flip. Rey charges, but gets backdropped to the apron and Eddie then connects with a big punch to knock Rey to the floor. Eddie’s pescado hits but only gets 1 when he gets Rey back in. He then gets a back suplex for 1 and goes to a surfboard, but breaks it when he nearly pins himself. Eddie with another medley of holds now, going from an STF to an armbar to a hammerlock. Rey tries to flip out of it, but gets dropped. Eddie tries a powerbomb, but Rey counters to an armdrag that sends Eddie to the floor. Baseball slide hits, as does a corkscrew plancha. Back in, he gets the springboard vertical press, but then comes off the ropes and runs into an elbow. Eddie goes for the Three Amigos, but Rey counters the second one to a rollup for 2. Backbreaker by Eddie gets 2 for him and he tries the Amigos again. This time he gets two of them before Rey counters to a rana that sets Eddie up for the 619, but Eddie avoids it and comes back with a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for 2. He goes for the Three Amigos again, this time hitting all three successfully. He goes up for the frog splash, but Rey moves. Rey with a rollup, but Eddie counters to his own for 2. Rey tries another rana which he can’t get, but he does drop toe Eddie into the 619 position. The move hits, but the West Coast Pop is blocked to a powerbomb for a close 2.5. Eddie charges at him, but runs into an elbow. Rey gets the rana this time, hooks the leg and holds Eddie down for 3 at 12:40. They may have hoped to steal the show, but age and accumulated injuries were working against them. This was good, but certainly not blowaway like some of the matches they had prior to this. **3/4
Backstage, WWE Champion JBL and World Heavyweight Champion HHH run into each other and engage in a spirited debate over who is the better champion. The only thing they agree on is that the results of tonight’s Title matches will tell the tale.
Money In The Bank Ladder Match: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian (w/Tyson Tomko) vs. Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjamin vs. Edge vs. Kane
It’s now become an annual tradition, but this was the first one. Only difference here was that it was a Raw exclusive match and the winner could therefore only challenge the Raw champion. Everyone starts out with a brawl in the aisle, which Kane dominates. Once he takes everyone out, he grabs the first ladder, but gets stopped. Benoit and Shelton get him with a double suplex on the floor. Christian grabs a ladder, but Jericho teeter totters it in his face off the ropes. Shelton attacks Jericho, but falls victim to the bulldog. Jericho then gets the springboard dropkick to knock Edge and Benoit to the floor and the follows up but diving on Edge. We then go into the trainwreck spot as Christian, Shelton, and then finally Kane all take their turn jumping into the pile. Kane is left standing, so he pulls out a ladder and gets it in nailing Edge and Christian in the process. Jericho dropkicks him off the top, and then he grabs the ladder and nails Shelton and Edge. Benoit comes from behind with a German suplex on Jericho as he’s holding the ladder which was cool. Benoit climbs and Kane looks to stop him with a chokeslam, but Benoit counters it to the Crossface. Edge breaks it up, so Benoit responds by putting him in it as well. Now Kane returns the favour, breaking it by nailing Benoit with a ladder. He then sets Benoit’s arm between the ladder and slams it on the arm repeatedly. Edge spears Kane and then he and Christian both grab ladders and sandwich Kane between them. Shelton comes out of nowhere with a springboard double clothesline on both of them. He then spin kicks a ladder into Christian. Edge sets one up in the corner and whips Shelton into it. He sets up a spear, but Shelton gets him with a flapjack onto the ladder. Stinger Splash hits against the ladder and now Shelton climbs. Jericho climbs as well and they fight. Christian joins them on another ladder and he’s soon accompanied by Benoit. Edge recovers and climbs a third ladder putting everyone but Kane up there now. Benoit and Christian take each other down, and Jericho gets knocked down soon after. Shelton and Edge continue going at it until Shelton ends it with a T-Bone Suplex off the ladder. Jericho climbs, but gets taken back down by Christian. In the process, a ladder gets setup against a standing ladder like a sort of ramp. Jericho fights off Christian and climbs again, but Shelton runs up the ramp-like ladder and clotheslines Jericho down in what was probably the best and coolest spot of the match. Now Shelton climbs, but Christian takes him back down. Kane is back with a big boot on Christian and a choke slam for Shelton that manages to end with Shelton getting his foot hooked in the ropes. Tomko gets involved at this point, taking Kane out with a ladder and attempting to hoist Christian up to victory. Kane recovers though and clotheslines Tomko out to the floor. He then dumps Christian’s ladder over and sends him flying down onto his problem solver. Kane and Jericho both climb now, and both soon take each other down. Jericho falls to the floor, but Kane lies prone in the ring, so Benoit drops a headbutt on him from the top of another ladder. Benoit climbs, but Kane sits up and gets up there with him. He headbutts Kane down and appears to have it won, but Edge come back and takes him down with a chair shot. This leaves Edge all alone and he climbs up and grabs the case to become the first Mr. Money In The Bank at 15:19. The original still stands as the best of the four, and by a pretty good margin too. ****1/2 Great choice to win, great action, some cool and innovative spots, minimal slow climbing spots and great effort all around.
Here comes Eugene to talk about how much he loved the midgets at Wrestlemania III. That makes one fan of them I guess. Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari interrupt to protest Hassan’s lack of a spot on the card which of course leads to an attack. Real American hits and here comes Hulk Hogan to clean house on the evil foreigners. Pretty fun segment and a good use of Hogan here.
The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton
In the midst of his “legend killer” gimmick, Orton ended up facing off with the biggest active legend in the company at the show where he has never been defeated. At the time there was legitimate belief among the fanbase that they would give Orton the win here Even once it was known that Orton would be taking months off after the show for shoulder surgery there was still denial that the result was obvious. In retrospect, since Orton has become a huge star anyways, it’s probably for the best that they didn’t put him over here. Orton starts out by avoiding Taker and waiting out the chance to slap him. Taker backs him to the corner, but Orton gets away again. Now Taker gets him with a side headlock, from which he gets fired off and Orton nails a dropkick for 1. Irish whip leads to a backdrop. Another one sees Orton leapfrog, but Taker nails him after. Taker gets some shots in the corner and a corner whip. Orton avoids the charge and gets a rollup for 2. He tries the RKO, but gets dumped out to the floor. Taker follows and sets Orton on the apron, and then drops a leg. Back in, the ropewalk hits and Taker sets him in the corner, but misses a big boot. Orton dropkicks him off the apron into the barrier. Back in, Orton works him over a bit. Taker fights back, but Orton comes off the ropes with a clothesline for 2. Irish whip, but he puts the head down and takes a DDT from which Taker gets 2. Corner whip leads to a side slam for another 2. Another corner whip sets up a body block, and then Taker does the same thing back to the other corner. Fourth corner whip leads to snake eyes, and then Taker comes back at him off the ropes, but runs into an elbow. Orton gets 2 from that and follows up with some forearms to the chest. Taker sits up and it breaks down into a slugfest. Taker’s whip is reversed, but he gets a clothesline anyways for 2. He hooks a dragon sleeper and the arm drops twice, but Orton then comes back and counters to a DDT for 2. To a side headlock, from which Taker punches out. Irish whip is reversed and Orton now goes to a sleeper. Taker hits a back suplex to escape. Orton charges, but Taker gets the boot up. Taker comes off the ropes, but Orton catches him with a powerslam for 2. He mounts Taker for punches in the corner, but gets cocky and that opens the door for Taker try the Last Ride. Orton slips out anyways and tries the RKO, but gets shoved off and bumps the ref in the process. Taker goes for the Last Ride again, but they just kinda fall backwards in what may have been a botched spot. New Hall of Fame inductee Cowboy Bob Orton runs in now to help his son out and is even sporting the infamous cast on his arm. He nails Taker with it, drags Randy on top and revives the ref, but it still only gets a close 2 count. Taker fights back and knocks Cowboy Bob off the apron with a big boot. Choke slam on Orton is countered to the RKO, but after a delayed cover, Taker still kicks out at a long 2. Orton mocks Taker and decides to try the Tombstone, but Taker reverses it around, and hits it himself. That gets the 3 count to keep the streak intact at 14:15. This would be one of Taker’s better Mania matches, perhaps only topped by his matches with Batista and Edge. ***
WWE Women’s Championship Match: Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme (w/Lita)
Christy, who was the first and the reigning Diva Search winner, became number one contender by posing in Playboy. She wasn’t much of a wrestler to say the least, so they ran the gimmick that Trish’s enemy Lita, who was on the shelf with a torn ACL, had been training her. Trish was the heel here by the way in case no one remembers, and played that role really well too, showing why she should be considered one of the top women wresters of all time. Trish just mocks Christy to start things off, then shoves her down and boots her out of the ring. She sends her to the stairs while JR is nice enough to at least subtly acknowledge that Christy has no business being in this match. Back in, Christy blocks a kick and gets her own shot in. She drags Trish off the ropes, stomps her and rolls her up for 2. After some confusion about what’s next, Trish gets her with a chop and the taunts Lita. She charges at Christy in the corner, but Christy leaps over and comes back down with a rollup for 2. Christy charges, but gets taken down with a spear. Trish then kicks he back to the floor again. She follows Christy out and even shoves Lita to the barrier for good measure. Back in the ring, she continues mocking Lita, but that lets Christy get another rollup for 2. There has been no heat for any of Christy’s near falls as the crowd seemingly couldn’t care less about her. She hits a Twist of Fate, the big move taught to her by her mentor, but Trish kicks out at 2. That one got a small reaction. Trish rolls her up for 2, which Christy rolls through to another 2 of her own which looked bad because the kickout came a half second too late and the ref had to holdup the count. Chick Kick hits immediately afterwards and finishes Christy off at 4:42. I feel sorry for Trish having to get stuck in there with Miss Amateur Night on the biggest show of the year because I know she can bring it in the ring, but Christy was just awful here. -*
Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle
The setup for this match began at the Royal Rumble when Shawn eliminated Angle. Angle then returned, attacked Shawn, and returned the favour. Shawn threw out the challenge for the match, and Angle accepted. This lead to Angle’s revelation that he’s hated Shawn dating back to 1996. That year he won his gold medal at the Olympics, but all he kept hearing about was the WWF Champion at the time, Shawn Michaels, and how great he was. Angle set out to prove that he was the better man and could do anything that Shawn could, which included winning a ladder match (against a jobber) and even facing, and defeating Shawn’s former partner Marty Jannetty on Smackdown. Going in, this was expected to be the best match of the night as both guys are the type who would leave nothing behind on the biggest show of the year. They start with a staredown, and then Shawn slaps him. This pisses Angle off, so he charges and takes Shawn down, controlling him with a waistlock until Shawn makes the ropes to break. Shawn gets a side headlock takedown, but angle rolls him up for 2. To their feet, where Angle can’t fire him off the ropes. Angle tries a suplex, which hits, but Shawn still holds on. Again to their feet and this time Angle sends Shawn off the ropes, but Shawn gets a shoulderblock and goes right back to the hold. Angle rolls him over again for 2, and then they get up, but Shawn blocks another attempt to break. Finally the make the ropes and Angle gets free. Angle gets a waistlock, but Shawn reverses and goes back to the side headlock again. Angle makes his feet and this time just elbows his way out. He hits a shoulderblock and then comes off the ropes, but Shawn gets him with a hiptoss. Shawn hooks a short arm scissors, which would make Gorilla Monsoon proud as that was a move he felt the inclusion of which was a difference between a match that was a good technical match and one that wasn’t. Angle rolls him over and gets 2, which Shawn then reverses for 2 of his own. Angle rolls him back for a 1 count, and all the while Shawn maintains the hold. Angle actually picks him right up out of it, but Shawn slips off and gets a sunset flip for 2, followed by a backslide for 2. Once more to the side headlock takedown for Shawn. Angle gets to his feet and makes the corner for a break, then nails Shawn with a cheapshot. Shawn punches him back and they keep trading positions in the corner until the ref gets between them to break it. He gets Shawn back, but Angle takes advantage and comes out of the corner with a clothesline. He then hooks the ankle lock, but Shawn quickly rolls over to counter it and comes up with a clothesline that sends them both to the floor. Shawn preps the announce table for use, but Angle catches him with an uppercut before anything comes of it. Angle tries a suplex on the floor, but Shawn slips out. He hits Angle with chops, but then falls victim to the Angle Slam right into the ring post. Back in the ring, Angle starts hammering the back. Suplex gets two 2 counts and then Angle goes to a bodyscissors. He adds a chinlock to it, but Shawn then fires back and escapes. His corner whip is reversed though and he does his flipjob in the corner. Angle hits an overhead belly to belly suplex, and then a second one for a 2 count. He hooks a rear chinlock while driving the knee to the back. Shawn punches his way out and they end up trading shots on their feet. Angle hits a clothesline for 2 and then sets Shawn on the top rope. He tries a belly to belly from there, but Shawn blocks and knocks Angle back off. He goes for the top rope elbow, but Angle moves. Angle drops the straps, but the Angle Slam is countered to an armdrag. Angle charges back at him, but gets backdropped to the floor. Shawn goes up and comes down on him with a bodypress. He slowly gets back to the apron, but then Angle pops up and looks to German suplex Shawn from there through the previously prepped announce table. Shawn keeps holding on to the ropes, and then catches Angle with some elbows and a back kick low blow to end the threat. Angle lands on the table, so Shawn follows up with a springboard splash with a twist onto the table, which doesn’t break. They sell there for a bit while the ref starts the count, but both manage to crawl in the ring by 9. Angle is bleeding pretty good from the mouth by now. Shawn controls, but his Irish whip is reversed. He comes back off, hits the flying forearm, and then kips up. Inverted atomic drop leads to a clothesline. Bodyslam sets up the top rope elbow, which hits. He tunes up the band, but Angle catches the Superkick and maneuvers right into the ankle lock. Shawn tries the same counter from earlier in the match, but Angle has it blocked this time. He is able to make the ropes for a break however. Angle Slam is countered to a sunset flip, which is countered back to the ankle lock, which is countered to a cradle for 2. Shawn tries the Superkick again, but Angle blocks it and connects with the Angle Slam. Shawn kicks out at 2 though, so now Angle looks to get serious. He puts the straps back up, just so he can pull them back down again. He goes up top for a moonsault, but Shawn gets out of the way in time. Shawn goes up, but Angle pounces right up there with him and gets another Angle Slam from there for a long 2. Angle trash talks him, but that gives Shawn the chance to connect with the Superkick out of nowhere, although Shawn is out of it too. Delayed cover only gets Shawn a close 2.5 count. Shawn gets to his feet, but Angle grabs the leg and hooks the ankle lock again. He blocks the rope break by continually dragging Shawn back to the middle. Shawn tries to kick him off, but Angle holds on. After about a minute, Angle gets the leg scissors right in the middle. Shawn has nowhere to go, but keeps fighting it for another minute before he finally has no choice but to tap out at 27:27. Now that was a great match. Everything the buildup suggested it would be and then some. I can’t think of a reason to deduct anything so the match gets the magic ***** rating.
We follow that up with Rowdy Roddy Piper coming out to host Piper’s Pit with guest Stone Cold Steve Austin. As big as Austin was, and still is, I’ll never forgive him for starting that “What?” crap that was cute maybe the first time or two we heard it, but very quickly got to the point where I want to smack the hell out of each and every person in the crowd who participates in it. I hope that the t-shirt royalties were worth it considering how many interview segments ended up ruined. Clearly Piper feels the same way given his reaction here to the idiots who are doing it. Anyways, they trade slaps before getting into a discussion over who really is the biggest rebel in WWE history. Carlito soon joins them with accusations against both of not being cool, so Piper grabs the apple and spits it in his face. Carlito attacks him, which Austin is at first happy to stand by and watch, but then he decided to make the save. Piper gets in the eyepoke, followed by Austin nailing the Stunner and Carlito gets sent home. Austin shares a few beers with Piper before nailing him with the Stunner as well to close out the segment.
Sumo Match: Akebono vs. The Big Show
I still don’t understand what the point of this was. It’s not like more than a handful of North American wrestling fans would know who Akebono is, and even for those that do, why would they care about seeing him in a worked sumo match? They go though all the traditional pre-match rituals before finally going at it. They struggle for about a minute before Akebono gets Show out of the ring to win it. No rating as it is not a pro wrestling match.
WWE Championship Match: John “Bradshaw” Layfield vs. John Cena
Why can’t they bring back this version of the belt? It at least looks way better than that thing Edge is carrying around these days. After having been last guy eliminated in the Royal Rumble, Cena rebounded and won a number one contender tournament on Smackdown to earn the Title shot here beating Angle in the finals. JBL starts with a side headlock. He gets fired off, but comes back with a shoulderblock. He comes off again, but this time Cena leapfrogs and gets him with a shoulderblock of his own. He charges, but JBL gets the boot up and comes back with another shoulderblock. Irish whip is reversed, but Cena puts the head down and gets nailed. A couple of swinging neckbreakers by JBL get 2 and then he chokes Cena on the ropes. They trade shots, and then Cena’s corner whip is reversed. Cena gets the sneakers up and charges out at JBL, but gets caught with a spinebuster for 2. Neckbreaker gets another 2, and then JBL keeps working him over. Short clothesline gets 2 as Cena just makes the ropes. JBL hooks a sleeper, but Cena suplexes out. He follows with a couple of clotheslines, but just as the momentum is building JBL pulls the shorts and sends Cena to the floor where he then hits another swinging neckbreaker. Back in the ring, that gets 2. He sets Cena on the top rope and nails a superplex for another 2. He goes up top, but Cena catches him coming down with a powerslam. Cena gets two more clotheslines, followed by a backdrop and a shoulderblock. Irish whip sets up a hiptoss, and that’s followed by the Protobomb. Five Knuckle Shuffle hits, but when he charges at JBL in the corner he runs into a boot. JBL comes off for the Clothesline From Hell, but Cena ducks, connects with the FU, and gets the 3 count to win the WWE Title at 11:29. Watching this match here today gives me a lot of respect for how much Cena has improved in the four years since. He’s not really an elite level worker today, but compared to what he was in 2005 the difference is amazing. *1/2
Hall Of Fame Roll Call: Nikolai Volkoff, Iron Sheik, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Cowboy Bob Orton, Jimmy Hart, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and Hulk Hogan.
Main Event, World Heavyweight Championship Match: Triple H (w/Ric Flair) vs. Dave Batista
Batista won the Royal Rumble to earn his shot here, but HHH and Flair spent a lot of effort on convincing him to go to Smackdown and challenge JBL instead. Once Batista realized that HHH only had his own interests in mind though he turned face for good and declared his intention to challenge HHH by powerbombing him through a table. The night gets off to a bad start of HHH as Lemmy mumbles his way through the entrance music, and the words we can understand don’t seem to be the right ones anyways. Batista shoves him off of a lockup to establish the power advantage. HHH tries a side headlock, but gets fired off and nailed with a shoulderblock. He tries the side headlock again, but this time nails his own shoulderblock when fired off. He goes for the Pedigree already, but Batista easily counters and nails him with a press slam. HHH tries a cheap shot, but Batista fires back. Corner whip by Batista, but HHH gets the elbow up on the charge. HHH walks out of the corner, right into a choke and Batista then elbows him in the corner. Irish whip leads to a backdrop, but on a second one HHH ducks and nails Batista with a high knee to send him to the floor. On the outside, Flair provides the distraction and HHH sends Batista to the stairs. HHH drops an elbow on Batista as he gets back in the ring and then ties up the ref so Flair can get in some choking from the floor. Outside again, where HHH runs him to the barrier and then to the apron. Back in he drops an elbow and some knees to the back. Suplex gets 2 and next he uses a backbreaker. He distracts the ref again so Flair can take another cheapshot. Batista starts a comeback, but HHH drops him on the ropes to stop that. Batista fires back again in the corner, but his Irish whip is reversed and he ends up taking a spinebuster. HHH goes for three covers off of that, getting 2 each time. Neckbreaker gets another 2 and then he sets up the Pedigree, but Batista backdrops out. Irish whip by Batista, but he puts the head down and gets hit with the facebuster for 2. HHH goes up top, but gets nailed coming down with a clothesline. Irish whip by Batista leads to a side slam for 2, but when he charges at HHH in the corner he eats boot. HHH’s corner whip is reversed though and he takes his usual bump over the top and out. Batista follows, but his attempt to send HHH to the stairs is reversed and he takes it instead. HHH wants to Pedigree Batista on the stairs, but Batista blocks and catapults HHH to the post which busts him open pretty good. He rams HHH to the stairs a few times and then gets him back in where he goes to work on the cut. Three consecutive corner clotheslines are followed by a powerslam for 2. HHH goes to the floor and Batista chases, getting in a shot on Flair in the process. HHH grabs a chair, but the ref prevents him from using it, although he hurts himself in the process. In the ring, Flair takes advantage of the ref being down to try and nail Batista with the belt, but he takes a spinebuster instead. The ref has made it, but while he works on getting Flair out of the ring, HHH has grabbed the belt and he nails Batista with it. The ref turns to count, but Batista kicks out at 2.5. HHH runs at him, but runs right into a spinebuster. He sets up the Batista Bomb, but HHH counters with a low blow. Pedigree is set up, but Batista breaks it and nails HHH with a modified Samoan drop. Thumbs down sign leads to the Batista Bomb, which hits this time and gets the 3 count to win the World Heavyweight Championship at 21:35. Good, but by no means great match closes the show here. Although it’s definitely disappointing as a Wrestlemania main event. **1/2
The ***** match rule is in effect here so that means that the show is an automatic thumbs up. Even besides Shawn/Angle, we also have the great MITB match and some solid support from Taker/Orton and the opener. Both championship matches are decent, but not really Wrestlemania caliber and the significance is kind of watered down when you have both guys winning their first World championships on the same night. Women’s match sucks, but at least it’s short and the same thing could be said about the sumo match. If those main events deliver better this show could be getting consideration as one of the best Manias of all time, but even though it’s not quite to that level, it’s still thumbs up and a pretty high recommendation.