So our belated and beleagured journey through Wrestlemania weekend comes to a conclusion with the big one…Wrestlemania 25.
We arrived at Reliant Stadium not knowing that the tag team unification match had been moved to a dark match. Just further proof as to how far tag team wrestling has fallen in the eye of the “E” since X7.
At that event, the Dudleys, Hardys and Edge & Christian fairly stole the show with their TLC match.
Here we had the Colon taking on Morrison and the Miz in a lumberjack match in which the ring was surrounded by a bunch of guys who wouldn’t have otherwise made the broadcast. The match was already underway when we arrived. I was rooting for Morrison and the Miz, since I still think Morrison is the next big thing. They lost the match, but all four guys put on a solid performance.
Then we had the obligatory introductions, countdowns and pyrotechnics.
Then we went straight into the action.
MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH (featuring Kane, Mark Henry, CM Punk, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Finlay and Christian)
They put it all on the line right out of the gate. This match has become a Wrestlemania tradition in recent years. This was the first one I’ve seen. Let me just say its not often that a match makes me nervous. This one did. From the use of several ladders as ad hoc scaffolding to a nasty looking Impaler off the ladder, this one had me fearing for the safety of all those involved. There were some impressive spots using the big men, especially when Mark Henry threatened a plancha. Speaking of which, just because Mark Henry is from Silsby, right outside the Houston metroplex, that doesn’t mean he needed to be in this match. I guess someone had to catch the little guys. CM Punk won the match for the second year in a row. I think the crowd would have been happier if Christian had won.
As the debris, human and aluminum, was removed from the ring, Kid Rock began to play a medley of his hits from the top of the stage, backed by the entire Brown Trucker Band. I’ve seen a lot of reports complaining about this, but the crowd seemed pretty into it from where I sat. When he got to “So Hott,” I told Stephe one of the divas (no I don’t know which) uses it for her entrance. He rightly deduced that this would bring the silicon sisters out. He was right. I have no idea if they were all introduced on television, but they just strutted their stuff out to the ring.
DIVA BATTLE ROYAL
This was originally our planned break. Turns out it was fairly entertaining in person. Why? One word…Santina. Stephe quickly deduced there was a drag queen in the midst of the divas. That he is able to quickly pick out a drag queen says something. What, I choose not ponder. Santino/a won the battle royal to the delight of the crowd. I’m not sure what that says about the crowd OR the current crop of divas, but the post match celebration was priceless.
CHRIS JERICHO v. RODDY PIPER, JIMMY SNUKA & RICKY STEAMBOAT(w/Ric Flair)
This one garnered the most mainstream press coverage thanks to the “will he/won’t he” of between Jericho and Mickey Rourke. In the end, Rourke was in attendance but didn’t participate in the match. When the end result became this handicap match, nearly all of my interest died. I like Piper, Snuka and Steamboat, but they are all WELL past their prime. Piper has a pair of artificial hips. Him hobbling to the ring was both brave and sad. Jericho rightfully dispatched Piper and Snuka in short order. Then, to the surprise of everyone in attendance, Steamboat got in the ring AND HE COULD STILL GO! That was cool. Jericho eventually pinned him and worked Flair over for good measure.
Then Jericho called Rourke out. Rourke stalled but eventually got into the ring. Jericho egged him on a bit more and then they squared off. Rourke, a former professional boxer, dropped into a boxing stance. Then he laid Jericho out with one punch. WHY? You’ve spent all this time building Jericho up, and then you have him laid out by a Hollywood actor? Was David Arquette busy? The WWE’s abuse of Jericho continues.
MATT HARDY v. JEFF HARDY
The brother versus brother match held absolutely no interest for us. I told Stephe that when this one started no hetereosexual male over the age of 12 would be left in the arena. Based on the length of the line in the batroom, I was right. We got some beers and some snacks and were still back in time to see the “evil” Matt Hardy win.
REY MISTERIO, JR. v. JBL (Intercontinental Title)
This one was over in 8 seconds. JBL got in an early cheap shot, but Rey rebounded and hit his 619 to grab the belt. The overwhelming sense was “what just happened?” The fact that Rey was dressed like Heath Ledger’s Joker made it even more surreal. The Wrestlemania I/C Title match between Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat is generally held to be the best match in Mania history. That the I/C title was involved in this one shows how little the WWE regards the secondary titles these days.
SHAWN MICHAELS v. THE UNDERTAKER
Mr. Wrestlemania versus the Streak. I maintain that the streak is more important to Wrestlemania than any single match or performer. It gives the WWE a built in marketing angle year after year. That being said…HOLY CRAP WHAT A MATCH! I think its the single best match I’ve ever seen live. These two, both in their 40s, went over a half an hour. They took each other’s finishers and kicked out. They took nasty bumps and got up. They had ever single person in the arena on the edge of their seat for the entire ride. The place was pretty evenly divided if you base it on the cheers, but I think, secretly, everyone wanted to see Taker win. He did and cemented himself as one of the all-time greats. I’m not a big Shawn Michaels guy. I don’t get the appeal, but I do have to admit that he was impressive from the opening bell to the 3 count in this one.
THE BIG SHOW v. JOHN CENA v. EDGE (World Heavyweight Title)
When this match was just Cena v. Edge it had a lot of promise. Then they tacked on Big Show and Vickie Guerrero. There was no need. I hate when the champion doesn’t come out last. I know Cena is the WWE cash cow, but seriously, give the champion his due. The fact that Cena came through a tunnel of his clones in true Eminem style pretty much tipped the hand on this one. I don’t care for Cena, but the fact that he got Big Show AND Edge on his shoulders showed some stones. Cena won and took the belt to the delight of every little kid in the place. Hustle.
RANDY ORTON v. TRIPLE H (WWE Title)
They did a great job of building this one up. I was actually pretty excited about it. Then the match started and it all went to hell. This one is memorable for all the wrong reasons. Once the entrances were over, it died on the vine. The crowd was worn out, but that’s no excuse. These two just didn’t do anything to engage the crowd. The match was slow. It plodded. Nothing unexpected happened. Nothing much happened at all. I’ve never been so glad to see a ref bump in my life. When it was finally over, Triple H stood in the middle of the ring with the Motorhead blaring, trying to figure out why half the crowd was already filing out rather than cheering for him.
The top of the card was arranged all wrong. Everyone knew Michaels/Taker was the money match. Frankly they should have switched it and the main event. Triple H and Orton could have could have followed the I/C match.
On the way up the ramp on our way out, the guy in front of me had his spinner belt slung backwards over his shoulder. I spun the thing all the way to the top as Stephe laughed behind me.
I’ve now been to two Wrestlemanias. X7 was far and away the better show. This one had good moments, but suffered on the whole.