I’ve really got to come up with something clever to name these Raw Reviews and such. I’ll also need a banner of some kind. Anyone handy with Photoshop, or any ideas on catchy titles?
WWE WrestleMania 26
The 26th installment of WrestleMania comes to you live from Glendale, Arizona.
Nice opening package to start the show. Good job setting the mood. The set looks incredible – it’s like a pyramid of screens. The ramp is very long, which led to awesome zoom-ins of the guys as they made their way to the ring. The announcers are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker. Jim Ross is in attendance, but not commentating on the show. If he’s already there, why not throw him a mic?
Unified Tag Titles: (C) Showmiz d. John Morrison & R-Truth (*)
They note that the tag titles hadn’t changed hands at WrestleMania in nine years, and tonight wasn’t any different. Decent crowd early on, but with the open roof, it’s difficult to tell since the sound just escapes through the ceiling. Big Show made the blind tag and then KO’d Morrison as JoMo was going for the Flying Chuck kick. Match time was only 4 minutes. Why so short?
They showed a video package showcasing WM events. That was about half as long as the previous match.
Randy Orton d. Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase (*3/4)
What a fall for RKO – he went from main eventing ‘Mania to the second match. Yikes. Big pop for him, though. Cody out in flesh-coloured trunks. Gross. Funny how they talk about how Legacy treated Orton poorly as if Orton didn’t use them while they were together. As expected, Legacy double-teams Orton for the early portion of the match before they started breaking up each others’ pinfall attempts before fighting each other. So predictable. Orton made his comeback and gave them a dueling DDT off the middle rope, huge crowd pop and a nice spot. Huge “RKO” chants for Orton as he was staring at Rhodes in the ring. Instead of the RKO, Orton went into the corner to punt Rhodes, but the cameraman muffs the angle and misses the kick, only to see an over-the-shoulder of DiBiase on the floor. DiBiase came back in the ring, went for Dream Street and it was countered into a RKO for Orton. Average match, but there was never really any doubt that RKO wasn’t going to win. The crowd was hot when Orton made his comeback, which spells good news for his now-face run. Match length was about 9 minutes.
Vickie Guerrero and heel divas cut a promo that included Jillian Hall singing. Santino showed up, plugged Slim Jims, spawning appearances from Mae Young, Gene Okerlund and Melina. Stupid segment.
Money in the Bank Match: Jack Swagger d. Kofi Kingston, Matt Hardy, Drew McIntyre, Kane, Shelton Benjamin, Dolph Ziggler, Evan Bourne, MVP and Christian (***1/2*)
Early on the babyfaces teamed up on Drew McIntyre. Matt Hardy was the first guy to touch the briefcase. Quite a few spots here – Bourne’s SSP on Christian off a scaffold, Ziggler’s ZigZag on Christian off the ladder, Hardy taking a back bump off the top of the ladder onto a ladder that was used a scaffold, Kane beating Ziggler with the ladder so badly that it snaps in half, Kofi using the broken ladder as stilts, Christian’s reverse DDT off the ladder on Hardy, etc. Swagger climbed up, hit Christian in the head with the briefacase and after 15 seconds of struggling he was able to pull it down. Good MITB match, but some botched spots spoiled it. 10 guys is far too many, but the match was still decent nonetheless. Not sure on Swagger winning – he’s been scarce the past five months, and now he wins MITB? Match went 14 minutes.
They showed clips from the Hall of Fame. Stu Hart’s induction not being on TV is an absolute farce. Bob Uecker was a laugh. Ted DiBiase had a great speech as well. That money was real, by the way – $100s and $5s.
They showed the Hall of Fame class on the stage. Mad Dog Vachon’s facial reactions were hilarious. Altogether, not a good induction class by any stretch of the imagination.
Triple H d. Sheamus (**1/2)
They mention Ric Flair when HHH breaks out the figure four – that’s probably the most promotion TNA has ever gotten. Striker calls HHH the “Ace of Spades” which is stupid, since that’s a Motorhead song. And he’s already got like a half-dozen nicknames. HHH looks extra tanned for this one. Crowd was dead for Sheamus’ offence, but came alive when HHH started mounting comebacks. With Sheamus on offense the crowd was pretty dead, but they are a good crowd that woke up when HHH had his minor comebacks. Pretty slow paced. We got a video package for it. They even had clips of Ultimate Warrior at WM12 in 1996. The 14th WrestleMania for HHH. The only one he missed since starting in WWE was WM23 when he had the torn quad (the second one). Time flies. The table is in disbelief after Sheamus kicked out of the Spinebuster, despite HHH never pinning anyone with that move. Sheamus with a nice pump kick on the apron. Sheamus picked him up, HHH looked like dead weight and then hit the Pedigree for the pinfall. The Pedigree actually did come out of nowhere, so props to Cole on that. He’s what, like 3/150 now? They built it up where the first guy to hit their finisher was going to win and it ended up being HHH. The ovation for HHH was awesome, I have to say.12 minute match.
Great video package for Punk/Mysterio.
Rey Mysterio d. CM Punk (**)
Punk cuts a promo saying there are 70,000 people throwing their life away with drugs and alcohol. So nobody’s Straight Edge there? “I choose to be drug free. I choose to be better than each and every single one of you…One Nation under Punk indivisible with integrity and sobriety for all.” Great promo, as always. Mysterio is wearing an Avatar-like costume. If Rey loses he has to join the Straight Edge Society, but I don’t see him losing. This is the beginning of this feud rather than the end. Can’t wait to see more of it. That ponytail was stuck on his mask, it looked so stupid. Match was full of counter moves. Mysterio with an Eddie Guerrero like frogsplash, but misses. SES interferes, but Punk’s GTS is countered into a head scissors knocking Gallows off the apron. 619, springboard splash for the pinfall. Way too short. This match had show-stealer written all over it. Match was only 8 minutes. Hopefully the feud does continue because I want to see these guys in a 15-20 minute match on PPV.
Good Vince vs. Bret video package.
No Holds Barred: Bret Hart d. Vince McMahon (*)
Hart’s pop was very good. He’s wearing a Hart t-shirt and jean shorts. An idiot in the first few rows has a sign that reads “Brett Beat Vince.” Fail. Vince came out to cut a promo saying there’ll be lumberjacks as well as a special referee. The lumberjacks are the Hart Dynasty as well as other members of the Hart family. The guest referee is Bruce Hart, who is wearing a referee shirt as well as shades. Bret cuts a promo saying he can’t believe they all agreed to this. He asked them if they got paid up front, they all nodded yes. He said there’s one thing he learned from Montreal is that there’s nothing sweeter than a double cross. They told him what they were trying to do, but they’re united. “Tonight, WrestleMania, it’s going to be forever remembered as the night that Bret Screwed Vince.” Bruce hugged Bret and they’re all with Bret now. Basically, it was a swerve on top of the swerve. Natalya beat up on VKM on the outside, leading to Striker wishing her the best in her future endeavors – nice. David Hart Smith held him up and Tyson Kidd came off the top rope with the Hart Attack clothesline for the nice spot. Bret teased the sharpshooter a few times before beating him with a crowbar and a chair about 15 times. No crowd reaction except for the first sharpshooter tease – Vince didn’t land a single blow, it was just Hart beating him the whole time. After the chair beating, the Hart Family started beating on the ring and the crowd went nuts as Bret put on the Sharpshooter. Vince tapped right away. Squash match at its finest. Did anyone think it was going to be close? 11 minute match.
They aired the promo for the Georgia Dome in Atlanta hosting WrestleMania 27 on April 3, 2011.
Announced attendance at this show: 72,219. Very impressive.
World Heavyweight Title: (C) Chris Jericho vs. Edge (****)
Great video package. Two of my favorites currently and all-time. I’ve been watching these guys for more than a decade, and it’s about damn time that two Canadians are in a huge title match. They mentioned that combined they’ve held 55 titles. Each guy started in WWE over a decade ago. Edge gets a “Sexton Hardcastle” indie reference from Striker. 10 minutes in, Edge “Spear” chants. He charges, but Jericho counters with a rollup leading into a Walls of Jericho. Crowd is going nuts as Edge got a nearfall cradle for two. A few close falls on signature moves. Edge charges in and Jericho hits the Codebreaker. Slow cover means a two count. The announcers are really putting over all the counters and nearfalls. The ref got bumped inadvertently by Edge, Jericho got the belt and hit Edge without the ref seeing but gets a two. Codebreaker by Jericho finishes him. Post match, Jericho went for a beating, but Edge was able to fight him off. He set him up on the announce table, Edge charged in and he speared Jericho through the black barricade wall into the ring bell area. This gives Edge his momentum back and also sets up a rematch next month at Extreme Rules. Jericho getting medical attention to his head – expect to see more of this soon. Great match overall. They did a great job of using counters, nearfalls and submissions to tease the finish. Slow start, then fast-paced with a huge finish. Very pleased with this one. I’m calling Edge to take the WHC at Extreme Rules. Match was 16 minutes.
They showed clips of the pre-show battle royal won by Yoshi Tatsu.
Diva Tag Match: Michelle, Vickie, Maryse, Alicia & Layla d. Beth, Mickie, Kelly, Gail & Eve (1/2*)
The face divas all took turns beating on Vickie in the corner. They start exchanging finishers about a minute into the match, about 8 in a row. Mickie’s DDT on Michelle was great while Eve missed her senton splash. Beth ended it by hitting Alicia with her glam slam. Dead crowd. Michelle tossed Beth out of the ring and helped Vickie to the top rope and she hit a “Hog Splash” as Cole called it. Vickie points to the sky at Eddie. Kelly’s shoulder went up on the pin, so the ref had her do it again and Vickie pinned Kelly in what was a blown pinfall. Match was 4 minutes.
WWE Title: John Cena d. (C) Batista (***)
Long video package to start. Batista gets the pyro and then the spotlight entrance. Cena gets his extended entrance with the US Air Force there. Cena lands a top rope Five Knuckle Shuffle. Batista Bomb and Cena kicks out at the 11 minute mark. They get back up and Cena hits the AA but Batista kicks out. Cena goes up top, he leaps and Batista counters into Spinebuster just like SummerSlam 2008. Batista goes for the Batista Bomb again, but Cena counters into a rollup and STF. Batista’s near the ropes, but he eventually taps out. The crowd was really into it and the last five minutes were pretty exciting. Batista won the belt at No Way Out, defended it successfully zero times and now it’s on Cena again. Why does everyone always have a short title run? A fan had a “Batista likes fish sticks” sign from South Park (Do you like fish sticks? (Yes). Do you like fish sticks in your mouth? (Yes) You’re a gay fish. Great episode with Kanye West.) 15 minute match.
The Streak vs. The Career: The Undertaker d. Shawn Michaels (*****)
Cole mentioned that Undertaker’s defeated 10 former World Champions in his streak. And Kool-Aid Man Mark Henry!
Nice staredown to start. Michaels did the Undertaker throat slash. They’re working the story that Undertaker’s got a bad knee and had Michaels work on it with the figure four. Kip up by Michaels, Undertaker catches him, hits a chokeslam and it only gets two. Undertaker went for the Tombstone, Michaels fought out and put him in the Ankle Lock and grapevine. No crowd reaction, since this isn’t even close to the ending. On the outside, Undertaker hit a Tombstone on the mat to a huge pop. Took a minute to roll Michaels in where he kicked out. Undertaker went for the Last Ride and Michaels was able to counter with an X-Factor-like counter. Michaels goes for the elbow and Undertaker puts up the knees to counter it. Undertaker slaps on the Hell’s Gate only for Michaels to counter into a cover for two, a great spot. Michaels separates and hits Sweet Chin Music, but only a two count. Michaels went for another superkick, but Undertaker countered with a Last Ride. He hits it for two. They take the monitors off the Spanish announce table and Michaels hit the Sweet Chin Music on the floor. Undertaker is laying on the announce table and HBK hits a massive moonsault from the top rope that breaks the table. BANANAS. Michaels popped to his feet before falling down again. So sick. Back in the ring, Michaels lands another hard Sweet Chin Music, Undertaker kicks out at two. If there was a perfect superkick, that was it. Another Sweet Chin Music is countered to a chokeslam. Tombstone by Undertaker hits. Covers him with the hands on the chest, but HBK kicks out, similar to last year’s spot. Crowd is chanting “This is Awesome.” The Undertaker was about to do the cutthroat signal, but he stopped. He told Shawn to stay down, but HBK struggled to his feet as he crawled up the Undertaker. He gives the cutthroat signal to Undertaker and then slaps him. Another Tombstone by Undertaker for the pinfall. That’s the end of Shawn Michaels’ storied career.
Post match, after Undertaker posed in his purple light he picked Michaels up. They shook hands and hugged each other while trying to stay on their feet. The final shot of the night was Michaels in the ring getting a standing ovation for being one of the best ever. THE best ever for me. I’m actually getting a little bit watery-eyed.
This was a fantastic match just like last year. Maybe even better. These are two of the best ever on the biggest stage going all out. They built to the finish to perfection. The idea was that Michaels wanted Undertaker to really beat him to earn the win and that’s what happened. Early winner of Match of the Year.
You could read Shawn’s lips saying “Thank you for a wonderful life.” The show ended with Michaels walking up the ramp, applauding and waving goodbye.
Final Score: 7
* – Shawn Michaels. I don’t know if this really the end, but this was a great tribute to the greatest performer in the history of pro wrestling.
** – The Undertaker. Need I say anymore?
*** – Chris Jerichi/Edge. Has to be a tie.
Some of the midcard matches either weren’t as long or as good as I had hoped, but it was still alright. My already high expectations were not met. Jack Swagger winning MITB was a surprise. WWE has barely used him in the last 6 months, and now he’s likely to main event? It’s not bad, but it’s unexpected, sudden and random. Christian really needed to win this match. They’d better push him in a title picture and fast.
A fellow wrestling journalist pointed out that Mysterio doesn’t get a lot of time at WrestleMania. He was short against Eddie @ WM22, again when he won the title @ WM23, the poor match last year and now this year’s match was too short as well. The Bret/Vince match was what was expected – a VKM pounding with a sharpshooter submission. Nice to see Hart get some revenge after all these years.
Jericho/Edge was awesome. It was back and forth the whole time – spot, counter, nearfall. We’ll see how Extreme Rules does in terms of their program.
The Batista/Cena match was a strong second match from the top. Nothing memorable, but good considering neither guy has a reputation for being able to carry matches. Why Batista had a one-month run with zero title defences is beyond me. The title is meaningless if guys can’t defend it for extended periods of time.
Taker/HBK. Wow. This match lived up to the hype, big time. I thought there would be weapons or something with the No DQ stipulation, but I’m glad they didn’t go that route. Great spots as usual, namely the massive moonsault through the announce table. Crazy. It might have even topped last year’s match with all the kickouts they did. These two are among the best ever on the grandest stage of them all, and they’ve done nothing but mystify each others’ legacies. I’m sad to see HBK go, as he and Stone Cold are my 1-and-1A. HBK likely isn’t done forever, but his days as a full-timer are over. He will be back – hopefully. For how many more, and when? Who knows.
- Email – captaincharisma [at] hotmail.com
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