Monday, March 31, 2008

Looking Forward to Wrestlemania XXV

Alright, now that Wrestlemania XXIV is over and done with, I'm going to take this chance to look forward to the silver anniversary of the Showcase of the Immortals. I just want to throw out that after last year's Wrestlemania I named four matches that I expected to happen at Wrestlemania XXIV, and they were: Cena -Triple H, Edge-Undertaker, a Ric Flair Retirement Match, and Batista-Lashley. Well I was dead on with Edge-Taker, and a Flair Retirement match, plus I wasn't too far off with Cena-Triple H, since they both competed in a triple threat match, along with Randy Orton. Also, I couldn't have foreseen Lashley's release, so Batista faced off against Lashley's opponent from Wrestlemania 23...needless to say I was pretty close on that one.

Well in order, to look back and brag in a years time, here is what I gauren-damn-tee* the card for Wrestlemania XXV will look like.

*Note: Guarantee not at all valid.

Money in the Bank: MVP vs. John Morrison vs. Kane vs. Finlay vs. Gregory Helms vs. JBL vs. Carlito vs. Cody Rhodes

The usual tradition of throwing six to eight guys in one match and having them go nuts. This is the best group of wrestlers that I couldn't put in another match. I put them in the order that I would have them win, with Gregory Helms being the surprise entrant, since he deserves a good spot on this card after missing so much time with his neck injury, plus I think that he could bust out some good spots.

Women's Title Match: Beth Phoenix (c) vs. Candice Michelle vs. Nattie Niedhart

I think that this could be a good Women's match since all of them do have some talent, and it would be a great way to either give Nattie her first run with the belt, or to add another chapter in the Beth-Candice rivalry, which I see going very much the same way as Trish-Victoria (i.e. a lot of freaking matches)

US Title Match: Shelton Benjamin (c) vs. Ron Killings

I know that this is a bit of a stretch, but I think that Shelton will get a shot at gold at some point this year, and a feud with the newly debuted Killings could be just what the doctor ordered for both guys. I think that they would be able to put on an entertaining match, that may just give the US Title some meaning.

Battle of the Big Men - Big Show vs. Umaga vs. Khali

I really just didn't want to put any of these guys in the Money in the Bank, and I think that there would be some sort of a perverse interest in watching all three of them in the same match. I thought about adding Kane to the mix to make it a tag match, but I think that these guys could put on a pretty entertaining triple threat match if you add enough plunder to keep things interesting.

Rey Mysterio vs. Chris Jericho

I think that Jericho moving to Smackdown is pretty much inevitable. He'll probably end up in a feud with MVP, which should be pretty entertaining, but I think that Jericho really should turn into the heel that he needs to be and put him into a feud with his former WCW Rival, Rey Mysterio. Since Wrestlemania XXV is in Houston, which has a large latino population, Rey would be crazy over.

ECW Title Match - Matt Hardy (c) vs. Jeff Hardy

I think that it's only a matter of time before Matt Hardy moves on from the US Title to the ECW one (since I have other plans for both other World Titles). This should lead to the inevitable program with Jeff. I would love to see these two try and relive the other famous brother vs. brother match from fifteen years prior. The set up for this match could be pretty simple, and I think that Matt would be the most logical choice to turn heel to set this match up.

Interpromotional Match - Triple H vs. Batista

I feel weird not putting Triple H in a World Title Match at Wrestlemania, but I think that this may be his time to take a bit of a breather from the main event scene. These two can easily rekindle their old feud at the Rumble or something, and Batista can play the whole "I have the best record against you" and they can easily play off of their past history.

Legends vs. Legend Killers - Shawn Michaels and Steve Austin vs. Randy Orton and Mr. Kennedy

This Mania is taking place in Texas, and could use a Texas sized main event, so why not put the two biggest stars from that state against two up and comers who want to create their own legacy? Austin hitting a stunner would probably blow the roof off of the stadium, plain and simple.

World Heavyweight Title Match - CM Punk (c) vs. Edge

These two have some history with one another and I think that they could really go if given the chance. I see Punk cashing in his money in the bank shot sometime in the winter of this year, and have an improbable run with the title. Have Edge win the Rumble, and challenge Punk, who he sees as an easy target, only for Punk to successfully defend the title against Edge in a strong, competitive match.

WWE Title Match - John Cena (c) vs. The Undertaker

Now this is a match that could sell out a stadium. John Cena has never defeated The Undertaker in several tries, and The Undertaker is well 16-0 at Wrestlemania, plus he has won a World Championship at the last two Wrestlemanias, so obviously he has a lot going for him. I think that John Cena would be the perfect guy to end the streak, and truly cement his legacy.

Daring? Bold? Stupid? Keep watching WWE programing to find out...

Until next time,


Achieved Predicted Cards

Eight Weeks in Advance
Two Months in Advance
Four Months in Advance
Six Months in Advance
One Year in Advance

Looking back at Wrestlemania XXIV

It's finally over, my nerdy Superbowl is in the books for one more year. It certainly was filled with some excellent moments from Flair's ovation, to a phenomenal Money in the Bank, to Orton shocking the world.

Battle Royal for #1 Contendership to the ECW Title

So I was running a little late, and I missed the Battle Royal. From all accounts though, I didn't miss much. When I was looking at my predictions I said that it all boiled down to either Tommy Dreamer or Kane to win. I guess I backed the wrong horse as Kane pulled this one out.

Glen's Prediction Record: 0-1

Belfast Brawl - Finlay vs. JBL

I thought that this was an interesting choice to open up the show, especially when they had the Money in the Bank match right afterwards. This match was pretty fun, especially when Finlay busted out a tope. The ending was pretty deflating, as JBL hit Finlay with a kendo stick, and then got a clean win (i.e. interference free). I thought that a Finlay victory was a sure thing here. I guess not...

Glen's Prediction Record: 0-2

Money in the Bank Ladder Match - Mr. Kennedy vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Carlito vs. MVP vs. Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk vs. John Morrison

I really didn't think that the WWE would put out both of their Hardcore style matches right next to another, it seemed counter productive. Card placements aside, this was a really, really great match. Every year I think that there is a different stand-out star, and this year it was definitely Morrison. He busted out some amazing moves, including his moonsault while holding the ladder, and I was especially impressed with the spot near the end where he was trying to climb a ladder that was being balanced by another ladder, it was just cool. Also, Shelton Benjamin should be dead, no questions asked. I went completely out on a limb and picked Matt Hardy running out and grabbing the brief case, and well I was half right, he ran out. He had the chance to grab it, I don't know why the fuck he didn't, it would have been so freakin' cool to match him do that. Ah well, I'm not going to complain one bit about Punk winning. I just hope that he doesn't fall victim to the Money in the Bank Curse, that has befallen every winner except Edge.

Glen's Prediction Record: 0-3

Battle of the Brands - Batista vs. Umaga

I had high hopes going into this match, as both guys have been putting on good shows on Pay-per-views over the last few months. Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed in the performances of these guys, as I really feel that they could have done better. That being said though, watching Batista fall backwards out of the Batista-bomb played into the psychology, even it probably wasn't intentional. I called a Batista win by DQ, or some other non-finish, since I would have taken the point if it was a double DQ, I guess I don't deserve the point here...

Glen's Prediction Record: 0-4

ECW Title Match - Chavo Guerrero (c) vs. Kane

This match took 10 seconds in total. It sucked. If I write anymore than this it will take you longer to read my thoughts than to watch it, and that's not fair what so ever.

Glen's Prediction Record: 1-4

Career Threatening Match - Ric Flair vs. Shawn Michaels

This match was simply spectacular and will be long remembered, no questions asked. No matter how old both men are, it is still special to see the two greatest of all time go at it on the big stage. Sure I *knew* that Flair was going to loose, but watching that match made me believe on more than one occasion, that maybe, just maybe, Flair would live to fight another day. The ending where Shawn looked Flair in the eyes and said "I'm sorry, I love you" before superkicking his career over was a great moment that should get its share of replays. The emotional ovation afterwards was fantastic. It's a strange feeling as a wrestling fan to know that I will never get to see the greatest ever wrestle again.

Glen's Prediction Record: 2-4

Bunnymania - Ashley and Maria vs. Melina and Beth Phoenix

This match was given the "death slot" on the card, as it had no hopes of following the raw emotion of the previous contest. This match really has little to say about it, other than I'm impressed that the ladies kept fighting after the lights went out, and that Santino Marella is amazing, plain and simple. The heels win, in a bit of a shocker.

Glen's Prediction Record: 2-5

WWE Title Match - Randy Orton (c) vs. Triple H vs. John Cena

I must say, the biggest surprise of the night was that this match did not go on last. The placement on the card really should have tipped me off that something fishy was going to go down. To be honest, I found this match kind of boring with a few highlights, namely: Cena's amazing entrance, Triple H busting out the crossface, and the faces taking turns bitching out Randy Orton. The ending really was a shock, as Triple H landed the Pedigree on Cena, went for the pin, only to get concussion-kicked by Orton, and then Orton pins Cena for three. I really didn't see that one coming at all.

Glen's Prediction Record: 2-6

The Biggest vs. The Best - Big Show vs. Floyd "Money" Mayweather

I legitimately thought that this match sucked, plain and simply. Big Show can put on good matches with the right opponents, and well an untrained wrestler is certainly not the right opponent. I'm glad that they made this an "anything goes" type match, as it really hid the flaws of both men. I did like the part when Mayweather's posse tried to run off saying "you can't do that", only to have the shit kicked out of all of them by the Big Show. I really didn't like the ending, as Show should not have been KO'd, even after chairs and brass knuckles, it really makes him less of a monster.

Glen's Prediction Record: 3-6

World Title Match - Edge (c) vs. The Undertaker

If this match had have not gone on last, I would have thought that maybe, just maybe, the streak would have been over. However, after so many heel wins (yeah I'm counting Mayweather as a heel) they had to give the closing win to The Dead Man. That being said though, Edge really had me believing near the end that he could get it done. I was impressed with how much offense Taker allowed Edge to have, as the Rated R Superstar really appeared to be dominant throughout the match. The highlight of the match for me was watching Taker chokeslam one of Edge's cronies onto the other (I can't tell the difference). I also really liked the finish as Taker countered a spear into a googoplata for the submission victory. Nice touch, as there has been a submission victory at every Wrestlemania since XX (after there not being one for 8 years prior). I would have loved to have seen Taker and Kane celebrate at the end of the show with their belts in a Guerrero-Benoit-esque moment, but I guess you can't have everything.

Glen's Prediction Record: 4-6

All in all, I would say that this was a good show, as it featured three excellent matches in the Money in the Bank, Flair-HBK, and Edge-Taker. The big problem though, is that the rest of the card pretty much sucked, and had a lot of curious booking choices as to the winners. As far as ranking this Wrestlemania with the others, it's a little early to say, but I would probably put it somewhere in the 11-15 range along with V, VII, 2000, and X8. I guess you'll have to tune back next year to see where it goes...

Until next time,


Friday, March 28, 2008

Predicting the Mania

Today I present my (nearly) last blog post on the events slated for this coming Sunday, as I present my predicted results for the evening. Last year I finished an even 4-4 on the night, needless to say I hope to improve on these results.

I have decided that I am going to post the results in order that I think the matches should happen.

24 Man Battle Royal for a shot at the ECW Championship reports that the following competitors are appearing in the battle royal:

Big Daddy V, Brian Kendrick, Chuck Palumbo, WWE World Tag Team Champion Cody Rhodes, Deuce, Domino, Elijah Burke, Festus, Great Khali, WWE World Tag Team Champion Hardcore Holly, Jamie Noble, Jesse, Jim Duggan, Jimmy Wang Yang, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Lance Cade, Mark Henry, WWE Tag Team Champion Miz, Shannon Moore, Snitsky, Tommy Dreamer, Trevor Murdoch, and Val Venis

When it boils down to it, I think that the two favoured wrestlers to win the battle royal (which is shown early on at 6:30 by the way) are Kane and Tommy Dreamer. The Big Red Machine will be appearing in his 11th consecutive Wrestlemania, one shy of Bret Hart's record, while Dreamer would only be appearing in his second event. I think that the WWE is going to go for the nostalgic feel good moment in order to appease former ECW fans.

Glen's Prediction for Winner: Tommy Dreamer

Money in the Bank Ladder Match

Mr. Kennedy vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Carlito vs. MVP vs. Chris Jericho vs. CM Punk vs. John Morrison

This was originally announced as an 8 man ladder match (keeping with last years theme) however, Jeff Hardy was suspended, removed from the match and not replaced. Also the WWE supposedly had plans of having Matt Hardy return and challenge US Champion, MVP at Wrestlemania, however only MVP has been added to the match. I'm going to go out on a huge limb here, and say that before this match starts Teddy Long will announce a "surprise" 8th entrant who will go on to win the match.

Glen's Prediction for Winner: Matt Hardy

Battle of the Brands - Umaga vs. Batista

This match has had virtually no build up, but I think that it's going to be a really good power match up. These two have never fought, and should provide an interesting dynamic against one another. I think that this match will have some sort of a screwy ending. Apparently the plan is to move Umaga to the blue brand and have this feud continue, and I bet that Regal and Vickie are going to place a bet on the match where the brand of the winning wrestler gets the contract of the losing wrestler.

Glen's Prediction for Winner: Batista via DQ, or some other non-finish

Big Show vs. Floyd "Money" Mayweather

Now here's an interesting match. The WWE has been putting a lot of hype into this one, and I'm sure that the company will pull out all of the stop to hide the weaknesses of both men in the ring. I expect this to be some sort of a huge screwjob ending where a lot of people run around and get involved in the match. That being said, I don't think that a boxer with a perfect record is going to take a loss here, no matter how much money they're paying him.

Glen's Prediction for Winner: Floyd "Money" Mayweather

Belfast Brawl - Finlay vs. JBL

Thank the lord neither Vince McMahon nor Hornswoggle are competing here! I fully expect these two men to go completely nuts on one another here, and one of them will more than likely end up legitimately injured. I wouldn't be surprised if either Vince or the former Little Bastard get physically involved. I just don't see this being one of those time where the bad guy wins.

Glen's Prediction for Winner: Finlay

World Title Match - Edge (c) vs. The Undertaker

When I looked back at my review of last year, I noted that I correctly predicted this match occurring at the end of Wrestlemania 23, ain't I great? Every time I've predicted this card I've been sold on the fact that Taker is going to walk away with the big gold belt yet again, and I have no reason to change my mind.

Glen's Prediction for Winner: The Undertaker

ECW Title Match - Chavo Guerrero (c) vs. Battle Royal Winner

I'm putting this match here in order to "bring the crowd down" after Taker's big win, just like what happened with the New Breed vs. ECW Originals match from last year. I just don't see Chavo cutting it as champion.

Glen's Prediction for Winner: Battle Royal Winner

Career Threating Match - Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair

This is one of the few times I will ever say this, but the WWE Title Match has no right going on last. These guys should close out the show, as I doubt anyone will be able to top the raw emotion generated from this match. This will be a classic, plain and simply, however, it ends this Sunday.

Glen's Prediction for Winner: Shawn Michaels

Bunnymania - Ashley and Maria vs. Beth Phoenix and Maria

As usual they will put the women's match in the "death slot" on the card, as they need to give the fans a break after the epically long standing ovation they will put on. I'm sure that Santino will try to interfere only to have Snoop Dogg get in his way, leading to victory for the faces.

Glen's Prediction for Winner: Ashley and Maria

WWE Title Match - Randy Orton (c) vs. Triple H vs. John Cena

Even though I don't think that this match should close out the show, I still think that it will be a very good match. All three wrestlers really have been on their game, and to be honest this is a hard one to predict. No matter what happens I think that Orton is going to be losing the title here, but the real question is to who. I'm going to go with what should happen, no matter how much a growing part of me thinks that it won't.

Glen's Predition for Winner: John Cena

And that concludes the event, be sure to tune in on Sunday to see just how right I am!

Until next time,


Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ranking the Wrestlemanias

Greetings one and all, after exhaustingly chronicling the history of the great event known as Wrestlemania, it is time for me to be a little less objective. Today, in order to stay hyped for the event, I have decided to take the time to rank every Wrestlemania from 1 (being the best) all the way down to 23 (that being the worst, which should surprise nobody). I have also included a list of three things to love and loathe about each card. For some events it was hard to fill either one of them, and for some it was hard to limit myself to just three. Also, I have included my feelings on the best match for each event.....enjoy.....

#23. Wrestlemania IX:

Three things to Love:

- Watching Bobby Heenan ride a camel
- The only Wrestlemania appearance by Evil Doink.
- The end

Three things to Loathe:

- Hogan winning the Title despite not being in the match
- Seeing one of the companies best performers reduced to a commentator
- Wrestlemania IX

Match of the Night:

Intercontinental Title Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Tatanka

The opening match with a count out ending is the best and it features Tatanka, and people wonder why this is the worst ever.

#22. Wrestlemania IV:

Three things to Love:

- Watching Randy Savage’s greatest moment
- Seeing Hogan get disqualified in a shocking moment
- Bad News Brown screwing Bret Hart over

Three things to Loathe:

- The high amount of short, boring matches
- The fact that this was the closest Dibiase ever got to the title
- The missed opportunity for Savage-Steamboat II in the tournament

Best Match:

Tournament Final: Randy Savage vs. Ted Dibiase

After the long boring first three rounds of the tournament, the final was genuinely exciting. It really was great to see Savage get a victory of this magnitude.

#21. Wrestlemania XI

Three things to Love:

- The greatest wrestler vs. celebrity match of all time
- Watching Shawn Michaels emerge as a major player
- Owen Hart’s first title win

Three things to Loathe:

- Bret Hart, mid-carder.
- The World Title match not going on last
- The Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy: Epic Borefest

Best Match:

WWF Title Match: Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels

These two had an amazing chemistry, and put on one hell of a show in a middle of a pretty terrible card. It is also the first time that HBK started to get cheered, despite his heel status.

Wrestlemania 2

Three things to Love:

- NFL Battle Royal
- Dynamite Kids head: Great Foreign object, or greatest foreign object?
- Roddy Piper throwing a stool at Mr. T

Three things to Loathe:

- The confusing nature of having three venues.
- George “The Animal” Steele kicking out of a Macho Elbow.
- Hogan vs. Bundy: Cage of LAME

Best Match:

WWF Tag Title Match: The Dream Team vs. The British Bulldogs

This is simply a great fun match that saw one of the greatest tag teams of all time pull off a huge win. Plus, using The Dynamite Kid’s head as a weapon is all kinds of awesome.

#19. Wrestlemania 13

Three things to Love:

- Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin, greatest match ever.
- The irony that this show was subtitled “Heat”, and most of the card would resemble that future C-show.
- Trying to find the moment when Psycho Sid supposedly takes a shit during the middle of the main event.

Three things to Loathe:

- Worst. Main. Event. Ever.
- Watching The Rock when he still sucked.
- Everything that wasn’t Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin

Best Match:

Submission Match: Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin

Not only is this the match of the night, it is my pick for best WWF/E match ever, it is simply amazing. If it wasn’t for this match this show would have been worse than Wrestlemania IX…seriously…

Wrestlemania VI

Three things to Love:

- Hogan vs. Warrior, better than it had any right to be.
- The electric Canadian crowd
- Watching the Hart Foundation destroy the Russians in 19 seconds.

Three things to Loathe:

- Only having Bret Hart wrestle for 19 seconds
- Roddy Piper painting himself half black
- That God awful mixed tag match

Best Match:

Title vs. Title: Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior

Neither of these guys have ever been the greatest in ring technicians, but yet they go ahead and have an absolute classic match. I think that the WWF put so much effort into hyping and planning this match that they forgot about the rest of the card until the last minute, and we were stuck with the rest of that crap.

Wrestlemania I

Three things to Love:

- The fact that a Woman’s match actually got focus
- Liberace dancing with the Rockettes
- Pittyin’ the fools that step in the ring with Mr. T

Three things to Loathe:

- Simple Fact: Most of the matches on this show sucked
- 23 seconds meaning 9 seconds in wrestling land
- No World Title Match

Best Match:

Hulk Hogan and Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff
This really was a fun Main Event Tag team match. All four guys played their roles to a tee, and the ending was fun and had enough drama. This really is a good thing, because if this match hadn’t have delivered then there would have been some major problems for the company then.

#16. Wrestlemania XV

Three things to Love:

- Austin vs. The Rock, epic main event.
- The Triple H and Chyna turn(s).
- Pete Rose dressed as the San Diego chicken for revenge

Three things to Loathe:

- Undertaker vs. Big Boss Man: How to have a bad Hell in a Cell Match
- The New Age Outlaws switching matches with no build up a week before
- The fact that X-Pac was in the second best match of the night…think about that…

Best Match:

WWF Championship Match: The Rock vs. Steve Austin

This was the first of three fantastic Wrestlemania matches between these two. These two gave it their all and then some, and the match just feels so damned epic. Too bad the rest of the show feels like it needs its ridilin in order to gain some focus.

#15. Wrestlemania XII

Three things to Love:

- Bret and Shawn go old school
- Shawn’s entrance and celebration
- The Ultimate Warrior squashing Triple H

Three things to Loathe:

- Bret and Shawn going an hour with no pinfalls
- The Hollywood Backlot Brawl
- Knowing that Shawn would flake out on returning the loss to Bret Hart

Best Match:

Iron Man Match for the WWF Championship: Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels

First off I want to say that this is a fantastic match, as both men proved their doubters wrong by lasting the entire 60 minutes. Secondly, I want to say that this is perhaps the most overrated match ever. While it is great, it is not in the same stratosphere that it seems to rest in WWE Cannon, where is listed as the “greatest ever”, it really could have used a pin or two before the excellent ending.

#14. Wrestlemania X8

Three things to Love:

- Icon vs. Icon, Hogan vs. Rock
- Arn Anderson running in to try and help Flair
- Booker T saying “Of course I’m smart, I got glasses don’t I?”

Three things to Loathe:

- Triple H vs. Stephanie McMahon for the Undisputed Championship…maybe someone else was involved…
- Edge vs. Booker in a feud over shampoo
- Steve Austin vs. Scott Hall – Raw Main Event, and not Wrestlemania moment

Best Match:

Hogan vs. The Rock

Sure this wasn’t the most technically sound of matches, but that didn’t matter to everyone in attendance that day. The fans totally made this match what it was, going crazy for Hogan, and booing The Rock. The end of the match got really exciting, as you started to believe that Hogan had a chance. Why they didn’t put this on last still boggles my mind, and I hope someone in the company got a stern talking to over that at least.

#13. Wrestlemania 2000

Three Things to Love:

- Jericho, Benoit, and Angle giving us two falls of goodness
- Edge and Christian climbing the ladder of success
- Pete Rose vs. Kane, round three

Three Things to Loathe:

- A Heel leaving Wrestlemania the champion
- No straight one-on-one matches
- Eddie Guerrero getting pinned by Chyna

Best Match:

Triangle Ladder Match for the WWF Tag Team Titles: Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Edge and Christian

This was a tossup between this one and the two fall, two title match. This match took the innovation of the Hardyz vs. E&C Match from No Mercy of 1999, and took it to a whole new level that really hadn’t been seen before. These six men made stars out of one another on that night, and the most amazing thing is that they would be able to top this on two separate occasions.

#12. Wrestlemania VII Three things to Love:

- Savage working his magic with The Warrior
- Virgil finally defeating Ted Dibiase
- The crowd’s response to Hogan and Slaughter

Three things to Loathe:

- The blindfold match
- A Disqualification ending in the Intercontinental Title Match
- The incredibly insulting “Iraqi Sympathizer” storyline

Best Match:

Retirement Match: Randy Savage vs. The Ultimate Warrior

These guys put together a classic, plain and simple. From Warrior walking down to the ring to save energy, to Savage hugging Elizabeth at the end, this match was drama plain and simple. For the duration of this match you fully believed the hatred each man felt for the one another, and the desperation that they each felt as they strived for victory.

#11. Wrestlemania V

Three Things to Love:

- The Mega-Powers, and their explosive nature
- Brainbusters vs. Strike Force: Tag Team Awesomeness
- Seeing Red Rooster AND The Blue Blazer in high profile matches

Three Things to Loathe:

- Ted Dibiase being forced to slum it with Brutus Beefcake
- Morton Downey Jr. , that guy was just a jackass
- Knowing that the Warrior was still on his way up, despite the loss

Best Match:

WWF Championship Match: Randy Savage vs. Hulk Hogan

This is pretty much the WWF greatest main event match of the 1980s. These two had an amazing story that had over a year of build to it and they really delivered when it counted.

#10. Wrestlemania XIV Three Things to Love:

- Austin and Shawn putting on the manliest performance ever.
- The Undertaker vs. Kane actually being good.
- The debut of “Do you smell what the Rock is cooking?”

Three Things to Loathe:

- L.O.D. 2000 and everything that they stood for
- Slaughter’s handcuffs distracting everyone from a good Owen vs. Triple H match
- The Rock’s disqualification victory

Best Match:

WWF Championship Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Steve Austin

This match is a super heated brawl with a hot crowd. They gave it their all for the entire match, and put on a great performance. As impressive as this is, it’s made to appear even greater when you take into account just how injured both men were, simply amazing.

#9. Wrestlemania 23
Three things to Love:
- Batista’s swank running powerslam through an announce table.
- Cean and Michaels delivering and then some
- Green Bay Plunge on a midget and Hardy kills Edge: Memories of Money in the Bank

Three things to Loathe:

- ECW, 8 men, 1 match, 6 minutes.
- Ashley Massaro being given a match at Wrestlemania
- The Great Khali vs. Kane…everything about it.

Best Match:

World Title Match: Batista vs. The Undertaker

Tough call between both top matches, but I’ll side with the Smackdown one. Batista gave an interview before the event saying that these two would steal the show and I for one laughed. Turns out the big man was right, as these two used everything at their disposal to put on a damn great match.

Wrestlemania 22

Three things to Love:

- Edge spearing Foley face first through fire.
- Triple H tapping out for the second time in a main event.
- Trish and Mickie putting on the greatest women’s match in WWE history

Three things to Loathe:
- Watching Booker T loose to The Boogey Man
- Vince McMahon’s match getting twice as much time as Rey Mysterio’s
- Carlito being embarrassed…once more.

Best Match:

Hardcore Match: Edge vs. Mick Foley

These two went out and had perhaps the goriest match in the history of Wrestlemania. They used tacks, barbed wire, and most importantly, Edge spreared Foley face first through FIRE. That's just so damned manly, you'll have to shave after watching it.

Wrestlemania XIX

Three things to Love:

- Jericho vs. Michaels or how to make me giddy like a school girl
- FINALLY….The Rock has defeated Steve Austin!
- Lesnar and Angle pulling out all of the stops

Three things to Loathe:

- Kane, RVD, Storm and Morley getting bumped to Heat so there was more time for the Miller Light Cat Fight Girls.
- Being concerned for the lives of both Angle and Lesnar after the Main Event Match
- Triple H: Proving that Racists win in the end.

Best Match:

Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho

The main reason this event ranks so highly in my eyes is because all Top Five matches on this card really were excellent, even Triple H vs. Booker T. However, at the end of the day I have to give the nod to the first confrontation between two of my all time favourites. I was so excited for this match, and my hopes were not dashed in any way shape or form, as these guys put on a classic. Sure, I still think that Jericho should have won (especially after the Ali Shuffle Super Kick) but this match really is a reason why I am a fan of this pseudo-sport, plain and simply.

Wrestlemania III

Three things to Love:

- Hogan slamming Andre: THE Moment in Wrestling history
- Savage and Steamboat putting on a classic.
- King Kong Bundy’s refusal to pick on someone his own size.

Three things to Loathe:

- Watching a legitimate bad ass in Harley Race parade around in a cape and gown
- Knowing that Steamboat’s moment of glory would not last long in the WWF
- The fact that Piper just wouldn’t stay retired!

Best Match:

Intercontinental Title Match: Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat

This was an easy choice as these two went out there and put on one of the best matches in the history of the WWF. On the grandest of all grand stage these two showed what small, fast guys could do, which helped influence a great deal of future lightweights like Michaels, Jericho and Guerrero.

Wrestlemania VIII

Three things to Love:

- Roddy Piper’s crisis of conscience
- Flair and Savage delivering all kinds of awesomeness
- Watching the crowd go ape shit when Warrior’s music starts playing

Three things to Loathe:

- Hogan and Sid going last
- Money Inc. taking an intentional count-out on a major PPV
- The 8 Man Tag Match that belonged on an episode of Superstars

Best Match:

WWF World Title Match: Ric Flair vs. Randy Savage

This was a complete toss-up between this match and the Intercontinental Title contest. I feel that this match had perhaps the greatest side story of “She was mine before she was yours” going into it. These two went out and put on one of the greatest, and most severely underrated performances in the history of Wrestlemania.

#4. Wrestlemania XX
Three things to Love:

- The Main Event, from the first punch to the last hug
- The crowd turning on Lesnar and Goldberg
- Flair, Foley and The Rock being in the same match

Three things to Loathe:

- Watching Ultimo Dragon, one of the all-time greatest get bitched out.
- The rushed and boring tag title matches
- Knowing that nobody celebrating in the ring at the end of the show would live another three and a half years.

Best Match:

World Title Match: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit

My most vivid memory of following this pseudo-sport was watching this match with my friends and literally screaming “Tap you son of a bitch”. This match captured everything that I love about wrestling, as they had technical mastery, high spots, and an amazing story. While events of last summer soured the memory of this moment, it is still a fantastic match that deserves all of the praise in the world.

#3. Wrestlemania 21
Things to Love:

- Angle vs. Michaels, everything about Angle vs. Michaels.
- Cena and Batista making the Big Time
- Edge being Mr. Money in the Bank

Things to Loathe:

- The lukewarm setup and reaction and set up given to Cena vs. JBL
- The Sumo Snorefest
- Watching Rey fiddle with that stupid mask of his

Best Match:

Angle vs. Michaels

This is an easy choice, as two of the greatest wrestlers of our generation met for the first time at this amazing event. They gave it their all for the entire match, and seeing Angle win cleanly really was a shocking moment.

#2. Wrestlemania X
Things to Love:

- Bret Hart getting redeemed for the crap that happened to him the year before
- The Ladder Match
- Owen Hart in the shadow of his big brother

Things to Loathe:

- Lex Luger and Yokozuna taking 14 minutes of my life that I will never get back
- Watching Adam Bomb get squashed…scratch that, watching Adam Bomb at all
- Seeing the boring face Doink

Best Match:

Tie: Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart AND Intercontinental Title Ladder Match: Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels

I know, I know, I’m sitting on the fence here in one of the most debated topics in wrestling history, which was the best match at Wrestlemania X? Truth is, it totally depends on your preference and mood, if you want to see something classic and old school, go for the Harts, and if you want to see something that was innovative and groundbreaking, but still holds up today, check the ladder match. Either way, you won’t be disappointed!

Wrestlemania X-Seven

Three things to Love:

- Austin vs. Rock II, the Main Event of all Main Events
- Watching Jeff Hardy get speared from the top of the giant ladder
- Everything else about this card

Three things to Loathe:

- The damn X-Seven name when they should have stuck with XVII
- Chyna claiming to be a woman
- Knowing that it will be a long time until we see a card that is this amazing

Best Match:

No Disqualification WWF Title Match: The Rock vs. Steve Austin

Not only is it one of the most historically significant matches in the history of the company, it is also one of the greatest. Austin and Rock took their amazing chemistry and turned it all the way to 11. The sheer desperation that both of these guys gave makes the match feel monumental, and the ending and aftermath make it even more monumental. If you haven’t seen it, you need to watch this match, plain and simple.

Well that concludes the rankings. We shall have to wait until this Sunday to see where Wrestlemania 24 fits in on this ranking system...lord knows I'm intrigued...

Until next time,


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Wrestlemania Story: Part V - Lightning Strikes Twice

We last off with two seasoned veterans standing in a ring, finally achieving their lifelong dreams of victory on the grandest stage of them all. While Wrestlemania XX was about the veterans, Wrestlemania 21 (the company switched to Arabic numerals), from the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California, would be about the young stars.

Over the course of 2004 three men, all of whom had competed in their first Wrestlemania's that year, rose to prominence in the WWE. John Cena, Randy Orton, and Batista had all separated themselves from the pack, and had proven to be capable of some very big things, with Randy Orton even having a brief run as World Champion that year. As 2005 started, Batista shocked the world by winning the Royal Rumble, John Cena won an eight man tournament to earn a title shot at Wrestlemania, and Randy Orton, true to the "Legend Killer" persona he had developed that year, decided to try to do something that nobody had ever done.

The first match of the evening saw one of the heroes from the Wrestlemania XX take on the man that would be a hero at Wrestlemania 22, as Rey Mysterio defeated his good friend Eddie Guerrero. This event marked the first of what has become and annual tradition, as there was a six-man ladder match featuring Edge, Christian, Chris Jericho, Kane, Shelton Benjamin, and Chris Benoit, titled the "Money in the Bank Match", won by Edge, by the pre-match stipulations, he earned the opportunity to wrestle for either top title at any point over the next year. Also, there was a massive dream match as two of the greatest wrestlers of the generation, Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle went one-on-one for the first time. Kurt Angle, proved the better on that day, as he forced Shawn Michaels to submit to his patented Ankle Lock.

Randy Orton had issued the challenge to the man with the most identifiable, and impressive record at Wrestlemania, The Undertaker. Orton fought long and hard, and with the help of his father, Cowboy Bob Orton, was nearly able to achieve victory on multiple occasions. However, in the end, The Undertaker was able to land a Tombstone and claim victory one more time. The Undertaker's Wrestlemania record stood at 13-0.

In the top billed Smackdown match, John Cena challenged the current WWE Champion, John "Bradshaw" Layfield. After eleven-and-a-half minutes, Cena was able to lift up JBL and deliver his patented F-U. While the previous year, Cena was able to win his first title of any sorts, this year he was able to win his first World Championship, as he was ascending to new heights.

In the Main Event of the evening, Batista challenged his former friend, mentor, and stable mate, Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title. For the first time in the history of Wrestlemania, bot the World Heavyweight and the WWE Titles changes hands, as Batista was able to hit a Batista Bomb on Triple H and claim victory.

In the spring following this Wrestlemania, there was a special "draft", where wrestlers were randomly selected to switch rosters. Many big names such as Big Show, Rob Van Dam, and Christian were drafted, however there were no bigger changes than John Cena and Batista, who switched shows. While this was indeed a big move, it was made monumental since both wrestlers were champions at the time, so for the first time ever the WWE Championship became property of the RAW brand, and the World Heavyweight Championship moved to Smackdown.

November 13, 2005, proved to be one of the darkest days in the history of the company. Former WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero was found dead in his hotel room from an apparent heart attack.

Eddie's long time friend, and Wrestlemania opponent the year before, Rey Mysterio, dedicated his performance at the 2006 Royal Rumble to his deceased friend. Rey not only went on to become the smallest wrestler ever to ever win the Rumble Match, but he set the record for longest time he match. He would go on to challenge World Heavyweight Champion, Kurt Angle, who won the title after Batista was forced to vacate the title due to injury. After defeating Mysterio in a match to become the #1 Contender, Randy Orton was added to the title match. Meanwhile, on the RAW side of things, Triple H won an 8 man tournament to challenge the WWE Champion John Cena.

The evening Rob Van Dam became Mr. Money in the Bank, by defeating Shelton Benjamin, Matt Hardy, Finlay, Bobby Lashley, and Ric Flair in the annual ladder match. John Bradshaw Layfield won the United States Championhsip in a battle of former World Champions, by defeating Chris Benoit. Edge faced off with the legendary Mick Foley in a Hardcore Rules Match, that ended when Edge speared Foley through a table that had been set on fire. Also, Shawn Michaels proved to be Mr. Wrestlemania once more by defeating WWE Chairman, Vince McMahon in a No Holds Barred Match.

The Undertaker was yet again met with a challenge at Wrestlemania, this time in one of his signature matches, as Mark Henry faced off with the Dead Man in a Casket Match. During the Match, The Undertaker had a legendary performance by diving over the casket onto his opponent and Tombstoning the 400 pound man, before rolling him into the casket to achieve victory. The Undertaker's Wrestlemania record stood at 14-0.

Rey Mysterio certainly was the underdog heading into his title match against Angle and Orton. However, in a fast and frantic match, Rey was able to score a pinfall victory on Randy Orton to become the most improbable of world champions.

In the last match of the evening, Triple H challenged WWE Champion John Cena. Each man had an elaborate entrance in an attempt to psych the other one out, but neither man seemed phased. The crowd became throughly split during this match, with many people even siding with Triple H, the hated villain. In the end though, for the second time in three years, Triple H tapped out in the Main Event of Wrestlemania, giving the victory to Cena.

That brings us to last year's event, which like two years before was centred on two men, John Cena and Batista. This time though they would enter Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan, as champions, only to be challenged by two of the biggest, most established names in the business.

In the first match of the evening, Mr. Kennedy...Kennedy became Mr. Money in the Bank...Bank as well, by defeating Edge, Randy Orton, Jeff Hardy, Matt Hardy, King Booker, Finlay and CM Punk, in a special "Super Sized" version of the match. In his last Wrestlemania Match, Chris Benoit successfully defending his United States title against young upstart Montel Vontavious Porter (MVP). Also, to settle a dispute between Vince McMahon and Donald Trump, Bobby Lashley (representing Trump) defeated Umaga (represented by McMahon), in a match refereed by Steve Austin. As per the match stipulations, this meant that Vince McMahon's head would be shaved.

In the first of two world title matches, Batista was challenged by the 2007 Royal Rumble winner, the legendary Undertaker. The two fought hard all over the arena, with Batista even powerslamming The Undertaker through an announce table. However, just as had happened several times before, The Undertaker lifted his rival up for the Tombstone piledriver and secured victory. The Undertaker's Wrestlemania record stands at 15-0.

In the Main Event of the evening, John Cena was once more challenged by one of the biggest names of the past decade, as Shawn Michaels stepped up to the plate. While Michaels gave Cena his all, it would not be enough that night, as Cena was able to lock in his trademarked STFU and make Shawn Michaels submit to claim victory.

(To read my more detailed thoughts on the entire card, click here)

That concludes this (very long) series. However, the next chapter will be written this Sunday, as Edge tries to end The Undertaker's streak at 15, Cena and Triple H both try to once again reclaim glory from Randy Orton, and the legendary Ric Flair looks to extend his career for one more match against Shawn Michaels. You'll have to tune in to watch the history books get updated again.

Until next time,


Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Wrestlemania Story - Part IV: Dream Matches and Dream Moments

We last left off with the end of an era, as both the McMahon-Austin feud, and the Monday Night Wars came to a close. In the months that followed Wrestlemania X-7 featured an Invasion as WCW, owned by Shane McMahon, and ECW, owned by Stephanie McMahon, united to challenge the WWF. In the end Vince's company was able to vanquish the forces at the 2001 Survivor Series. The very next night, it was revealed that in order for Shane and Stephanie to afford their purchases of WCW and ECW, they sold their stocks in WWF, which were purchased by none other than the legendary Ric Flair, who was revealed as Vince's part owner.

Another historic event occurred the next month as the WWF and WCW World Titles were unified, in a special one night only tournament featuring Steve Austin, The Rock, Kurt Angle, and Chris Jericho. In an unprecedented moment in history, Chris Jericho won the tournament by defeating The Rock and Steve Austin in the same night in the same night to become the first ever Undisputed Champion. Jericho would head into Wrestlemania X-8, in Toronto, Ontario, to face Triple H, who had returned from an extended quad injury to win the Royal Rumble.

Also around this point, the villainous faction from the height of WCW, the New World Order, consisting of Kevin Nash (the former Diesel), Scott Hall (the former Razor Roman), and Hulk Hogan began their invasion of the WWF, after being brought in by Vince McMahon. These three would immediately come to conflict with the two biggest stars in the WWF, Steve Austin and The Rock.

The undercard of the evening included two short marches involving four big names in the business. Kurt Angle continued his three year, four match streak of never taking a fall at a Wrestlemania with a victory over Kane. Also, Edge, having broken away from his partner and brother Christian the previous summer, saw his first solo action as he defeated Booker T in front of his hometown crowd.

In the first of two historic "Dream Matches", WWF Owner, Ric Flair faced the legendary Undertaker, in a No Disqualification Match. The two fought long and hard, and Flair's long time ally, Arn Anderson, ran down to attack the Undertaker. While Flair gave it his all, the Tombstone Piledriver proved to be too much as The Nature Boy went down for the count. The Undertaker's Wrestlemania streak stood at 10-0 (To read Travis's thoughts on this match featuring two of his all time favourites, click here).

A year after joining sides with Vince McMahon, Steve Austin once more found himself on opposing sides with the Chairman, as he did battle with nWo member, Scott Hall at Wrestlemania. After hitting Hall with two Stunners, Austin was able to achieve victory. It did not appear to be a good night for the nWo.

While it was not the last match of the night, all of the focus for the evening was on the special dream match between The Rock and Hulk Hogan. Hogan having returned to the WWF for the first time in 9 years, returned to the one site where he had suffered the one blemish on his Wrestlemania record, the Skydome. Despite the fact that Hogan had repeatedly ambushed The Rock, and resorted to all sorts of heelish tactics throughout the match, the Toronto fans did something strange and unexpected. They cheered. No matter what happened, the 68,000 fans in attendance screamed constantly for Hogan and booed the Rock. However, the cheers could not push Hogan over the top as he fell victim to two Rock Bottoms, and a People's Elbow, as the Rock stood tall to close out the match. Afterwards, Hall and Nash came down to berate Hogan over his loss, but The Rock ran down to make the save. Hogan and The Rock did all of Hogan's classic posses together in a truly surreal moment (To read McNutt's thoughts on that match, click here).

In the Main Event of the evening Triple H continued his unrelenting quest for redemption, as he challenged Chris Jericho for the Undisputed Title. By this point, Stephanie McMahon and Triple H had divorced, and so she ended up accompanying Jericho to the ring for the title match. The two fought all over the ring, as Jericho attempted to re-injure The Game's quadriceps, however Triple H fought back, and ended up landing a Pedigree, and was able to claim the Undisputed Title to close out the show.

As had been the trademark for most of the past half-decade or so, the next year featured a great deal of change for Vince's company. For starers, they were no longer called the WWF, having lost a law suit to the World Wildlife Fund, they renamed themselves World Wrestling Entertainment, or WWE for short. Second off, the dispute between Flair and Vince intensified so much that they decided to split the companies assets in two with Flair owning Raw and Vince owning Smackdown, and every wrestler being drafted to either roster. Later Vince would defeat Flair and gain full ownership of the company, but he would still keep the rosters separate, and would assign different General Managers for each brand, with Eric Bischoff in charge of Raw, and Stephanie McMahon in charge of Smackdown.

Also important was the arrival of "The Next Big Thing" the night after Wrestlemania X-8. Rookie sensation Brock Lesnar, a former NCAA Amateur Champion, debuted, and climbed the ranks of the company faster than anyone in recent memory, gaining victory, over victory, before winning the 2002 King of the Ring Tournament, and then eventually capturing the Undisputed Title from The Rock at Summerslam. The next day he became official property of Smackdown, and therefore the Undisputed Title became disputed, with Lesnar's, Smackdown, exclusive title being the WWE Title, and a new Raw exclusive title, the World Heavyweight Title was created, and awarded to Triple H. Also, the European, Hardcore, and Intercontinental Titles were retired, while a new Smackdown specific WWE Tag Team Title was create (the pre-existing World Tag Titles were Raw property), while the Women's Title and Cruiserweight Title remained specific property of Raw and Smackdown, respectively.

Lesnar ended up losing his WWE Title at the Survivor Series, but was able to win the 2003 Royal Rumble, to challenge the current WWE Champion, Kurt Angle. The Main Event for Wrestlemania XIX, from Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington, was a match that everyone had wanted to see since Lesnar's debut as he, a former amateur standout was set to face one of the greatest amateur wrestlers ever, an Olympic Gold Medalist at that, in a professional arena.

The evening started out simply enough with Cruiserweight Champion, Matt Hardy, defeating legendary WCW Cruiserweight Rey Mysterio, by using the ropes for leverage. The WWE Tag Titles featured the Wrestlemania returns of both Chris Benoit (who had been injured the previous year), and Eddie Guerrero (who had been fired, but the rehired), as they separately challenged for the titles in a triple threat match, Eddie teaming with his nephew Chavo to reform Los Guerreros, and Benoit who teamed with longtime friend, Rhyno. Both teams fought hard against the rookie team of Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin, known as Team Angle after their mentor, Kurt. The rookies were able to score a surprise victory. Both Benoit and Guerrero would leave Safeco Field empty handed, but that would change for them in a drastic way the following year.

The Undertaker faced yet another huge challenge this year. He was initially scheduled to team up with Nathan Jones to take on A-Train and the Big Show, however before the show, Jones was injured, and so The Undertaker was forced to go at it alone without a partner. Somehow, someway, The Undertaker was able to overcome the odds, and score a pinfall on A-Train. The Undertaker's Wrestlemania record stood at 11-0.

Earlier in the year, Shawn Michaels had shocked the world and returned from retirement to do battle with his old friend Triple H. Both former degenerates had moved on, and proved successful in their matches on this night. Shawn Michaels was able to defeat Chris Jericho, a man who had idolized Michaels growing up (To read my thoughts on this, my ultimate dream match, click here).

There had been a feud almost twenty years in the making culminate at Wrestlemania XIX, as Vince McMahon himself stepped in the ring with none other than Hulk Hogan, as they argued over who had created Wrestlemania. When it was all said and done, Hogan was standing tall.

While those two could argue over who had created the event, the two men who could lay the best claim for carrying it several years later, Steve Austin and The Rock did battle for the third time at a Wrestlemania. For the first of all three times, The Rock was able to claim victory, after three Rock Bottoms. This would prove to be Steve Austin's last professional wrestling match.

The Main Event was the great dream match taking place between two legitimate, very successful amateur wrestlers. Lesnar and Angle gave the other everything that they had, utilizing a variety of tools from their amateur background. When Lesnar had Angle down, he went for a move that would be certainly barred from the NCAA, a shooting star press. However, Lesnar over shot and landed directly on his face. Somehow, someway, he was able to recover and hit Angle with his patented F-5 to claim the victory and the title.

The next year Wrestlemania celebrated its 20th Anniversary, and once more returned to Madison Square Garden. The last time that Wrestlemania came from the Garden it played witness to two of the greatest matches ever, in Bret vs. Owen and Michaels vs. Ramon, this time they would add another legendary match to take place in those hallowed halls, and once more it would feature Shawn Michaels.

This event had so many incredibly important matches, however in the interest of time I will gloss over all but four of them now. John Cena captured his first championship at this event, after he was able to lift up the 500 pound Big Show to deliver an FU and claim the United States Championship. Two former friends, Christian and Chris Jericho collided, and in the end, Christian scored a surprise victory and Jericho's love interest Trish Stratus turned on Jericho for his opponent. The Great One himself, The Rock, made his long awaited return to the ring to team with his former tag team partner, Mick Foley, to reform the Rock 'n' Sock Connection, as they took on Evolution, consisting of the Legendary Ric Flair, and two future legends making their Wrestlemania Debut, Randy Orton and Batista, in a three on two handicap match. The numbers and youth of Evolution proved to be too much for the veterans as Randy Orton hit Mick Foley with an RKO and earned the victory for his team. Rey Mysterio's Wrestlemania record fell to 0-2 as he ended up being the last man eliminated in the Cruiserweight Invitational by champion Chavo Guerrero.

One of the most heavily hyped matches of the evening was a special inter-promotional match up between Smackdown's Brock Lesnar and Raw's Bill Goldberg, who had debuted in the company the year before after being famous in WCW's dying days. While many people became excited about this match, it was released a few days prior that neither competitor would stay with the WWE afterwards, as both had other ventures to pursue. As a result, the fans became upset at both performers and proceeded to boo, and taunt them both for the duration of the match in a really surreal moment. In the end, Bill Goldberg scored the victory, after the match special referee, Steve Austin, gave both men stunners on their way out of the company.

Another special inter-promotional match on the show featured The Undertaker returning for revenge, after literally being buried alive a few months prior, on his brother Kane. The Undertaker had not appeared on screen before this event, so in an exciting and nostalgic moment, he returned to his original Dead Man character, and defeated Kane, like he had done six years prior. The Undertaker's Wrestlemania record stood at 12-0.

In the top match on the Smackdown side of the company, newly crowned WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero, was set to defend his title against the man who had lost the main event the year before, Kurt Angle. Eddie became very popular with the fans for his infamous "Cheat to Win" mantra, as he was constantly breaking the rules in order to attain victory. During this match, Guerrero slipped his boot off, as a method of distracting Angle before rolling him up to retain the title.

On the Raw side, Triple H was set to defend the World Heavyweight Title against not one, but two men. For the first time in the event's history, Wrestlemania would feature a World Title match fought under triple threat rules, as both Shawn Michaels and Chris Benoit challenged for the title. Benoit had earned this opportunity by completely defying the odds and lasting over an hour to win the Royal Rumble, after entering first.

The match is widely regarded as one of the best matches to take place in the history of wrestling, and it is not hard to see why. All three men fought hard and fast, and it appeared like it was going to end at any minute. In the ending moments, Michaels and Triple H threw Benoit through the announce table, returned to the ring and prepared to settle their rivalry on the grandest stage of them all. Just as the match appeared to end, Benoit rushed into the run and came out full of fire. He was able to throw Michaels from the ring, however, Triple H kicked Benoit and looked prepared to deliver a Pedigree for a victory. Somehow, Benoit countered the attempted Pedigree into his trademark Crippler Crossface. After several minutes locked in the hold, Triple H tapped out, delivering the victory, and title to Chris Benoit (to read McNutt's thoughts on the match, which seem surreal now considering the most recent events by Benoit, click here).

As Benoit's music blared, and confetti fell from the ceiling, Benoit's longtime friend, Eddie Guerrero came to the ring with his WWE Title, and the two men and champions, embraced in one of the most powerful moments in sports-entertainment. Both men, had worked very long and very hard, and finally right there had attained everything that they had ever dreamed of.

While I had planned on doing Wrestlemanias 21-23 today as well, this entry is far too long as is, and this seems like an excellent cut off anyway. But be sure to come back tomorrow then, as we get a three year lesson in thuganomics.

Until next time,


Monday, March 24, 2008

The Wrestlemania Story - Part III: The Attitude

We last left off with Shawn Michaels proving to be professional wrestling's Iron Man, and the WWF appeared poised to enter a new era with Michaels as the new standard bearer. This could not have come at a more opportune moment, as the WWF's competition, WCW, had reached new heights and a "Talent War" broke out between the two companies as several wrestlers continuously made shifts between the two promotions (plus a third company, ECW), and to put it mildly, the WWF was on the losing end of this war, having seen several major stars go to the WWF. The two companies engaged in a bitter ratings battled dubbed the "Monday Night Wars" as WWF Raw went head-to-head with WCW Nitro every Monday night. The WWF was definitely losing this battle at this point, and in the months leading up to Wrestlemania XIII appeared like they may just be on their way out of business.

Lucky for the WWF, their champion, Shawn Michaels, remained true to the company. However, unfortunately for them, he was injured a month before the show, and was forced to forfeit the title. The match was put up for grabs in a fatal-four way match, won by Bret Hart, who then lost the title the next day to Psycho Sid (the re-christened Sid Justice, from last time) thanks to interference from Hart's rival, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. After Sid won the rematch, it was decided that the top two matches for Wrestlemania XIII, from the Rosemont Horizon, in Chicago, Illinois would be The Undertaker challenging for the title, and Bret Hart would go one-on-one with Steve Austin in a Submission Match.

Two men who would engage in brutal rivalries, both with one another, and with Steve Austin, in the coming years, both achieved victories at this event. "The Rock" Rocky Maivia made his Wrestlemania debut by successfully defending his Intercontinental Title against The Sultan, while Triple H defeated rival Goldust.

Entering the evening, Bret Hart was the fan favoured "Good Guy", as he always followed the rules, and was able to repeatedly overcome the odds while Steve Austin was undeniably the "Bad Guy", since he routinely broke all of the rules, would swear and give the audience the middle finger on a frequent basis. The Submission Match between the two raged all over the arena as both men gave their all in an attempt to win. They used everything from fists to camera cables to the ring bell to try and best one another. As the match neared its conclusion, Bret had Austin locked in his trademark sharpshooter, as blood was pouring from Austin's forehead. Austin attempted to break the hold to no avail, but he refused to give The Hitman the satisfaction of giving up. After what must have felt like an eternity for Stone Cold, he ended up passing as a result of the extreme pain and blood loss, and Bret Hart was declared the winner of the match. Bret, not quite satisfied to merely defeat his opponent, kept Austin locked in the sharpshooter when something surreal happened. The fans turned on The Hitman and started to boo him, and cheer Steve Austin, a new era was dawning, one where the previous lines of good and bad would be blurred, an era known for it's Attitude (To read my thoughts on this match, which I may add is my favourite wrestling match of all time, plus more detail into the complicated Title scenario that lead to this match occurring, click here).

Bret Hart's night was not quite over then, as he repeatedly became involved in the Main Event, featuring Psycho Sid and The Undertaker, a match that he claimed that he should have been in. In the end, Bret attacked Sid, which allowed The Undertaker to hit his Tombstone Piledriver and claim his first WWF Championship in almost 6 years. The Undertaker's Wrestlemania record stood at 6-0.

Over the course of 1997, the wrestling landscape continued to change, as WCW continued to gain a solid fan base, and attract more established talent than the WWF. In the fall of 1997, the unthinkable happened, as WWF stalwart, Bret Hart, left the company for WCW after the infamous Montreal Screwjob. To make things appear even bleaker for the WWF, current Champion Shawn Michaels sustained a massive back injury at the 1998 Royal Rumble, but was still had plans to tough it out for another chance at glory in the Main Event.

This would be the first Wrestlemania to not feature either Hulk Hogan or Bret Hart, instead it relied on a new anti-hero, the same man who had lost to Bret Hart the year before, Steve Austin, who had won his second straight Royal Rumble in 1998, and was scheduled to face Shawn Michaels at Wrestlemania XIV, from the Fleet Center in Boston, Massachusetts. Famous boxer, Mike Tyson, was named the Special Guest Enforcer, and repeatedly got into verbal and physical altercations with Austin. Tyson would then shock the world and join Michaels's faction, D-Generation X. Coupled with the fact that owner Vince McMahon, had stated that he did not want to see Austin win the title, and the odds were firmly stacked against Stone Cold heading into the event.

Another member of Degeneration-X, Triple H was able to defend his European Championship (which had debuted in the winter of 1997) against Owen Hart. Triple H's future Wrestlemania opponent and rival, The Rock was also able to defend a title, as he retained the Intercontinental Title with a disqualification victory over Ken Shamrock on the same evening that he would debut his famous catch phrase "Do you smell what the Rock is cooking?".

In the fall of 1997, The Undertaker's half-brother Kane would debut and routinely attack The Deadman, even throwing him into a casket and setting it on fire. The Undertaker would return from certain death and challenge his brother to a match at Wrestlemania. The match between the two brothers would be very evenly matched, but in the end The Undertaker was able to hit Kane with three Tombstone Piledrivers, and secure victory. The Undertaker's Wrestlemania record stood at 7-0.

The fans met the main event with rabid zeal, as their beer guzzling renegade anti-hero, Steve Austin challenged a star from the previous era, Shawn Michaels for the WWF Championship. The match was the ultimate display of manliness, in addition to Michaels's back problems, Steve Austin had also suffered a severely debilitating neck injury in the summer of 1997 that was flaring up at the time. Despite their health problems, both men gave it their all in this match, and left it all in the ring. After the referee was knocked unconscious, Steve Austin was able to hit his trademark Stone Cold Stunner on Michaels. In a shocking move, Mike Tyson dove into the ring, and counted the three count, awarding the title to Austin (to read McNutt's thoughts on this match, click here).

Michaels, enraged, confronted Tyson, who proceeded to punch Shawn in the face, and rip off his D-Generation X shirt to reveal a Steve Austin shirt underneath. The show closed with Austin celebrating alongside Mike Tyson, as Shawn lay on his injured back in the middle of the ring. Shawn wound up retiring after this match, and would not return to the ring for another 4 years.

The WWF changed their logo and slogan to exemplified this new approach, as they no longer used the classic emblem and were now about "Attitude", and no longer about "The New Generation". This Attitude was of course best exemplified by Steve Austin, and his legendary rivalry with WWF owner Vince McMahon. Vince tried throwing every obstacle at Austin in attempt to ensure that he was not the Champion, and Austin was able to repeatedly overcome the odds. This struggle grew a great deal of interest from fans, who began tuning away from WCW, and back into the WWF in record numbers over the course of 1998. Finally in September of 1999, Vince was able to get his wish as Austin lost the WWF Title. After a few months with a vacant belt, Vince was able to crown a new "Corporate Champion", The Rock, who he felt better exemplified the values of the company.

In a surprising twist of fate, Vince McMahon himself was able to win the 1999 Royal Rumble by last eliminating Steve Austin, after interference from The Rock. McMahon and Austin would do battle inside a Steel Cage at the next Pay-Per-View, St. Valentine's Day Massacre, with the Wrestlemania Title shot on the line. Austin wound up winning the math, despite interference from the debuting Big Show (himself a member of The Corporation). So the match was set for Wrestlemania XV, from the First Union Center in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as Steve Austin would challenge The Rock for the WWF Title

The Main Event, was deemed so large that it needed a special guest referee, so a match took place at Wrestlemania between Mankind and Big Show, with the winner being declared the referee for title showdown. Big Show ended up getting disqualified after chokeslamming Mankind through two steel chairs, but Mankind would appear too injured to fulfill his refereeing duties.

Not only did The Corporation have problems with Steve Austin, but they also had issues with D-Generation X, headed by Triple H after Michaels's retirement. This boiled into a heated one-on-one showdown between Triple and Corporate Member, Kane. The match ended in a disqualification when Chyna, who had defected from D-X to the Corporation months prior, attacked Kane and reunited with Triple H. It appeared as if Chyna was going to rejoin D-X, but it would all be a rouse, as both Triple H and Chyna turned on fellow Degenerate X-Pac later on in the evening to reveal their allegiances to the Corporation, which now excluded Kane.

The Corporation was also involved in a third major battle heading into this time of the year, as they were at odds with yet another faction, The Ministry of Darkness. This lead to a Hell in a Cell match between the Corporation's Big Boss Man, and The leader of The Ministry, The Undertaker. The presence of the cell ensured that it would be a straight up one-on-one match with no interference. In the end, The Undertaker was able to score a victory with a Tombstone Piledriver. After the match, Ministry Members, The Brood, consisting of Edge, Christian, and Gangrel, repelled down from the ceiling and proceeded to hang The Big Boss Man from the Cell. The Undertaker's Wrestlemania record stood at 8-0.

The Main Event was truly an epic match, as Austin and The Rock gave it their all for the duration of the match. As each man appeared destined for victory, the referee was repeatedly rendered unconscious, and the match continued. This continued until Mankind hobbled his way to the ring in a referee's shirt and counted the pin for Steve Austin after he hit his trademark Stunner. In an interesting historical note, Steve Austin would officially become the first man to win the WWF Title at two consecutive Wrestlemanias.

While Wrestlemania XV was all about Steve Austin's moment of glory, he would be foreced to watch the next years event from the sidelines, as a neck injury left him sidelined for almost a year. This left a large power-vacuum at the top of the WWF, and two men quickly tried to fill the void. The Rock, who had rejected the values of The Corporation, had replaced Austin in the fan's eyes, as they cheered relentlessly for "The People's Champion", and Triple H, newly married to Vince's daughter Stephanie, had replaced Austin as the WWF Champion for the end of 1999 and the beginning of 2000.

For the first time in Wrestlemania history, the WWF Title would not be contested in a straight up single's match. Through a complicated series of matches, and rulings, it was decided that the Main Event would be a Fatal Four-Way Elimination Match, with a member of the McMahon Family in every corner. Stephanie would support her husband, the WWF Champion, Triple H, Vince having been turned on by his own daughter months prior would side with his old ally, The Rock, Shane would be in the corner of his friend, The Big Show, and Linda McMahon allowed Mick Foley (aka Mankind, aka Dude Love, aka Cactus Jack) to return from retirement for one last match.

By this point the WWF was firmly ahead of WCW in the "Monday Night Wars". As a result, the period from August 1999 to January 2000 saw perhaps the greatest influx of talent to the WWF in the companies history, as Chris Jericho, The Dudley Boyz, Tazz, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and Perry Saturn, all defected from WCW. Add to the fact that amateur wrestler turned pro-Kurt Angle entered the WWF, and several of their younger talent that debuted a few years prior had been coming of age, and the scene was set for a memorable Wrestlemania 2000 (chronologically this was of course Wrestlemania XVI, but it was given the name to match the year, and garner some attention from all of the Millennium Hype of the time), coming from the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim, California.

This would mark the first time that all three of the Tag, Intercontinental, and European titles would be competed in matches that all involved competitors making their Wrestlemania debuts. The Tag Champion, Dudley Boys, would defend their titles against the two teams of The Hardy Boyz, and Edge and Christian in a Ladder Match. In a wild and innovative match, Edge and Christian were able to climb their way to success as they gained their first championship as a unit, however this would prove to be just the beginning in the year long rivalry between these three teams.

The newly debuted Kurt Angle, was able to quickly climb his way up the ranks, and win both the Intercontinental and European titles within three months of his debut. It was ruled that he would defend both of his titles against his two rivals, Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit, in a special Two-Fall Two Title Match, where the three would compete in two consecutive matches with the first being for the Intercontinental Title and the second being for the European Title. Benoit was able to pin Jericho in the first fall to earn the Intercontinental, and shortly thereafter, Jericho pinned Benoit to win the European Title. Kurt lost both of his prestigious titles without ever being pinned.

There was another, less glamourous, Wrestlemania debut of a future World Champion at this event, as Eddie Guerrero teamed with fellow members of The Radicalz, Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko, to face the object of Eddie's affection, Chyna, and her friends Too Cool, Brian Christopher and Scotty Too Hotty. Chyna was able to hit Eddie with a sleeper slam, and earn victory for her team. While Eddie's Wrestlemania debut did not go as he had planned, things would turn around for him four years later.

The Main Event for the evening was a wild and chaotic brawl, as all four men, and all four of their corner people were striking one another with everything that they had. Shane was the first one to have his hopes dashed, as The Rock pinned The Big Show. Fifteen minutes, and a Pedigree onto a steel chair later, Mick Foley's wrestling career was officially over (for the next four years at least). The Rock and Triple H battled tooth and nail for an opportunity to be called the best for the time being. Just as The Rock appeared destined for victory, Vince, his ally, stunningly turned on The People's Champion by striking him with a steel chair. This signaled the beginning of what would be called the McMahon-Helmsely Regime, which would dominate the company in the coming months. While Yokozuna became the first heel to win the WWF Title at a Wrestlemania seven years prior, Triple H became the first to leave Wrestlemania the Champion on this fateful night.

Perhaps the biggest change in the wrestling landscape in the history of the industry over the 12 months that followed Wrestlemania 2000. In January 2001, the #3 ranked promotion in world, ECW, a long source of talent for both WCW and WWF, folded, only to have its owner begin working as an announcer for the WWF. More importantly on March 23, 2001, eight days before Wrestlemania X-7, the most monumental deal in the history of professional wrestling was signed, Vince McMahon and the WWF had purchased WCW from Ted Turner. The era of the "Monday Night Wars" was officially over.

In the months before the event, Steve Austin returned with a vengeance from his neck injury, and went on to win his record setting fifth Royal Rumble. The Main Event was set for Wrestlemania X-7, The Rock, WWF Champion, would do battle with Steve Austin, the challenger for the second time in Wrestlemania history. This time both men would go in as fan favourites, in the first face vs. face match up in 5 years. However, this would take place in Houston, Texas, Austin's home state.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: I would like to point out one important thing, throughout this series I have tried to remain very objective and even keeled in my presentation of this story, however I am uncertain if that can be maintained for this event. I firmly believe that this is not only the greatest Wrestlemania of all time, but is a strong contender for the great wrestling event of all time. If any wrestling fans have not seen this event, I question if you can truly call yourself a fan, and if any non-wrestling fans out there are curious as to what all the hype is about, I encourage you to open up your mind and watch Wrestlemania X-7, and maybe you will understand. I apologize if I come across as too big of a proponent of this event during this section of the blog.)

The undercard of the evening featured two future world champions winning title matches for less prestigious single's titles, as Chris Jericho was able to successfully defend his Intercontinental Title against Commission William Regal, and Eddie Guerrero was able to capture the European Title with a win over Test. Two other men who would play a pivotal role in the event in three years did battle in a scientific classic as Chris Benoit and Kurt Angle had a technically classic one-on-one match. The ending of the match saw Kurt Angle hook Benoit's tights for an underhanded pin.

In the previous sixteen Wrestlemanias there had only been two matches to occur at seperate events, Hogan-Andre happened at Wrestlemanias III and IV, and Hart-Yokozuna, happened at the ninth and tenth installments of the event, however at this event there would be two Wrestlemania rematches. The Main Event, as previously mentioned, and also the Tag Title Match. The Dudley Boyz once more defended their Tag Team Titles against The Hardy Boyz, and Edge and Christian. While in the previous year the match had been a Ladder Match, this year the stakes were raised even higher as it was a Tables, Ladders, and Chairs (or TLC) Match, dubbed TLC II (the first was between these three teams, and took place at Summerslam 2000, and was won by Edge and Christian). In a wild match that legitimately needs to be seen to believed, Edge and Christian once more climbed their way to victory, this time with help from their friend Rhyno, to win their record seventh WWF Tag Team Title.

The Undertaker missed the previous Wrestlemania, due to a variety of injuries, but he returned in May of 2000, with a different persona and outlook. Instead of being "The Deadman" he was now "The American Badass", a biker. This persona would make it's first Wrestlemania appearance at this event as he did battle with Triple H. As The Game struck The Undertaker with a sledgehammer it appeared as if The Undertaker would finally lose at Wrestlemania, but The American Badass fought back and hit his new finishing move, The Last Ride, on Triple H to win the match. The Undertaker's Wrestlemania record stood at 9-0.

Immediately before the Main Event began, it was announced that it would be a No Disqualification Match, despite never having been announced before the match. The two men proceeded to give it their all throughout the contest, and proved willing to do whatever it took to win, including use foreign objects and one another's finishing moves. Late into the match Vince McMahon (who had lost in a Street Fight to his son Shane earlier in the show) came down and sat at ringside. In a sudden, and shocking turn of events, Vince began to help Steve Austin. The crowd looked on confused, as they were unsure as to what was happening. Not to be denied, The Rock mustered up all of the strength he could and repeatedly kicked out of any pinning attempts made by Austin. Finally, after approximately twenty chair shots, The Rock was down, Austin won the title, and shared a beer with his long time rival, Vince McMahon in celebration (To read my talk in far greater detail about this match, click here).

This match, coupled with the purchase of WCW, marked the end of the Attitude Era. When describing the importance of this match last year in the entry linked above I said "The important story of that entire era of the WWF was Steve Austin in his great fight against the evil boss. This match marked the last chapter of this story. In the end, Austin, the rebel, gave into the boss. He tried to stick it to The Man, but The Man stuck it to him in the end. He loved Big Brother."

In four short years, we witness the dynamic rise of Steve Austin to the ranks of the greatest of all time, and then a sudden and dramatic turn and fall. Tune back tomorrow as we look at a dream match, a massive botch, a dream come true, lightning striking twice, a trial by fire, and old meeting new times two, in the final installment of the Wrestlemania story.

Until next time,