Wrestlemania 21 was known as "Wrestlemania Goes Hollywood", and is probably remembered better now for some of its vignettes than some of its matches. However, it was a very historic Wrestlemania, in that it was the night several wrestlers became superstars. Before this PPV, John Cena, Batista, Edge, and others had never been at the top of the wrestling world. That would all change, starting tonight in California. Let's get to it.
WWE Wrestlemania 21 |
Posted by the Accelerator, September 8th, 2008
- The DVD box I have displays 8 wrestlers, in an interesting order. On the top, we have Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Batista, and Trish Stratus. On the bottom, we have Kurt Angle, John Cena, John Bradshaw Layfield, and the Undertaker. I understand the reasoning behind the picks for the cover, but it's still strange to not see Randy Orton or the Big Show on here. Oh well. - It's not easy to clarify the "Special Features" of this 3-disc DVD set, but I'll give it a shot:
Disc 1 has only matches on it, covering the first two-thirds of the PPV.
Disc 2 finishes off the PPV, then has a bunch of other "freebies", including all of the Wrestlemania Goes Hollywood Parody Trailers (I especially recommend the Basic Instinct and Taxi Driver parodies, myself). There are several match promotional spots, career highlight videos on Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, and the Undertaker, and various Wrestlemania Week activities.
Disc 3 is the entire 2005 WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. The inductees this year were "Cowboy" Bob Orton, Nikolai Volkoff, the Iron Sheik, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff, "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, and, of course, Hulk Hogan. Pretty good class, there.
One of the biggest bonuses is on the second disc, as we're shown the first "dark match" Wrestlemania Battle Royal. It was basically listed as Raw vs. Smackdown, with the respective general managers (Eric Bischoff and Teddy Long) leading their guys out. Here are the listing of the participants. For Raw: Rob Conway, Simon Dean, Sylvan Grenier, the Hurricane, Chris Masters, Maven, William Regal, Rhyno, Rosey, Gene Snitsky, Tajiri, Tyson Tomko, Val Venis, & Viscera.
For Smackdown: Akio, Danny Basham, Doug Basham, Booker T, Spike Dudley, Funaki, Charlie Haas, Heidenreich, Hardcore Holly, Mark Jindrak, Orlando Jordan, Billy Kidman, Paul London, Nunzio, Luther Reigns, and Scotty Too Hotty
(Hopefully, I didn't miss anyone. Since they didn't introduce them, I just had to pick them up as I saw them).
I won't get into too many details of this one, but it's a pretty fun battle royal, with so many guys involved. One of the great moments was the cruiserweights holding down Viscera to allow Scotty to hit the Worm. It backfired on the cruiserweights, though, as many of them were eliminated shortly thereafter by Masters. Akio took probably the worst elimination, getting thrown over the turnbuckle by Viscera and landed on the steel stairs head-first. As the numbers went down, we ended up with the final five of Masters, Snitsky, & Viscera for Raw, and Jindrak & Booker T for Smackdown (yeah, I know, it seems odd to have Jindrak in there so late, but oh well). Jindrak was able to launch Snitsky out of the ring, but was soon taken out from behind by Masters. Masters & Viscera then went after Booker T, but then, all of the sudden, Nunzio runs in!! The announcers remind us that Nunzio hadn't actually been eliminated. Of course, that didn't last, as Masters soon press-slammed Nunzio out of the ring. The two Raw superstars then worked over Booker T, trying to eliminate him. But Booker T came back, tricking Viscera into charging the ropes and sending him out! Masters tried to get rid of Booker T on his own, but Booker T was too strong, superkicking Masters out of the ring to get the victory. And that is your bonus match coverage for the night. Good battle royal.
- We begin the show with Lillian Garcia singing a beautiful rendition of "America The Beautiful". Sure, she's not a famous celebrity, but she still sings it pretty well, with the back-up singers adding to the number. I also liked the spliced-in clips of American soldiers, giving the song a whole new meaning. It finishes with a "USA" chant, but no "Hoooo's".
- The curtain rises on the big screen, showing off clips from the Hollywood Parody movies. Hilarious. We then get the 'newest' clip that no one's seen: a parody of Gladiator with "Stone Cold" Steve Austin as the lead. Austin gives a great speech, that I have to place here:
Steve Austin: I am the master of the middle finger! Chief ass-whooper of sorry sons of bitches! Beer drinker among beer drinkers! Truster of no one! And I will stomp a mud-hole in your ass and walk it dry! *reveals himself* My name is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, and tonight, I unleash hell!!
Great, just simply great. I remember how big a moment it was, at the time, as everyone loved it starting out with one of the biggest WWE stars of the past.
- Raw and Smackdown present Wrestlemania 21. No ECW on the scene just yet. "JR" Jim Ross & Jerry "The King" Lawler are in for Raw, while Carlos Cabrera & Hugo Savinovich are the Spanish announcers. Michael Cole & Tazz are in for Smackdown.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio:
At the time in the feud, both Eddie and Rey were still faces, having a 'friendly' competition. After several losses to Rey, Eddie asked his tag-team partner for this match at Wrestlemania. To add some intrigue, Eddie & Rey are the WWE Smackdown World Tag-Team Champions, having held the belt the last few months, managing to keep the gold despite the issues slowly building between them. Mysterio has on an 'open' mask tonight, showing off the back of his head.
This was a tremendously exciting match, as the crowd was cheering almost every move. It was a stale-mate early on, with a bunch of back-and-forth action. Every move that Eddie makes has the fans expecting him to turn, yet cheering for him anyway. Mysterio, meanwhile, kept using his speed game the entire game, including an incredible Corkscrew Plancha over the ropes to the outside, on top of Guerrero. Every near-fall, be it a roll-up or a pin after a backbreaker, caused the crowd to leap to their feet. Near the end, after the Three Amigos suplexes, Eddie goes for the Frog Splash, but Mysterio dodges by an inch (seriously, it was that close). A bloody-lipped Mysterio then nearly rolls Guerrero up, but Guerrero reverses it to his own near fall. A frustrated Guerrero gets himself reversed, allowing Mysterio to hit the 619! Mysterio then goes for the West Coast Pop, but gets powerbombed! Mysterio kicks out at 2 9/10ths, and Eddie can't believe it. The crowd starts chanting for Eddie, as he gets himself back together. He and Rey fight in the corner, with Mysterio knocking Eddie backwards and charging him. Eddie looks to try another backbreaker, but Mysterio reverses it into a Hurricanrana pin, and that's it! Mysterio beats his partner again. Afterwards, Mysterio and Guerrero shake hands, despite Eddie's obvious frustration.
Winner: Rey Mysterio
Ace Thoughts: Damn good opening match, although the ending did seem to come out of nowhere. I know that's the storyline they had going, but I still would have liked more of a build-up towards it. Still, I enjoyed this match immensely, as it was helped so much by a hot audience. After this match, Eddie did eventually turn on Rey, costing them the tag-team titles. The Eddie/Rey storyline would continue for much of the rest of the year (longer than many liked), including some forgettable bits as Eddie claiming to be the real father of Rey's son. Sadly, this would also be Eddie's final Wrestlemania, as he would pass away later on in the year in shocking fashion. Mysterio, meanwhile, would eventually go on to bigger things, winning the '06 Royal Rumble (dedicated to Eddie) and becoming the World Champion at Wrestlemania 22.
- In the back, the WWE Champion, John Bradshaw Layfield, and his allies (the US Champion Orlando Jordan & the Bashams) meet up in the hallway with the World Champion, Triple H, & Ric Flair. Triple H teases JBL about being a "wrestling god". JBL points out that the Game has to worry about Batista and losing his belt for the 10th time. Triple H says that we'll have to see who's still champion at the end of the night. Flair gets in a "Woooo" that gets the crowd cheering.
- In the audience, we've got Adam Sandler & Rob Schneider applauding the interview segment. Lawler comments on the star power at ringside. I'll give him a partial on Sandler (I was a fan of the Longest Yard).
Shelton Benjamin vs. Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho vs. Christian w/Tyson Tomko vs. Edge vs. Kane, Money In The Bank Ladder Match:
This was the first-ever Money In The Bank Ladder Match, with Jericho being credited with the idea of the match. Basically, the object of this one is to climb the ladder and retrieve the briefcase hanging above the ring. If you get the briefcase, you get a Heavyweight Title shot somewhere in the next year. Kane gets the best entrance of the group, as his pyro sets all of the ladders around the entryway on fire (that's just cool).Everyone else seems jealous, though, as they all attack Kane on the aisleway. Smart move.
This is a match that you just have to see to believe, as we had "memorable moments" throughout. I'll just name a few:
- Jericho racing around the ring to catapult a ladder into Christian's face;
- Benjamin flying over the ropes onto almost everyone, then KANE following with his own turnbuckle leap that elicts a "Holy S%$t!" chant from the crowd;
- Edge and Christian working together to crush Kane between two ladders;
- Benjamin's T-Bone Suplex on Edge from the top of the ladder;
- Benjamin running up a diagonal ladder to clothesline Jericho off the standing ladder (unbelievable agility);
- Benoit's Flying Headbutt off a ladder onto Kane (causing his stitches to open up in a bloody mess);
In the end, Benoit fights off Kane with a series of headbutts, then reaches out to the briefcase. But Edge came in from nowhere to hammer Benoit with a chairshot to Benoit's already-injured arm. With Benoit screaming in pain, Edge climbs quickly up and gets the briefcase, earning the title shot. Edge quickly leaves after the victory with the briefcase, as medics come out to check on the other wrestlers.
Ace Thoughts: Yep, it was a spot-fest all over the place, but sometimes you just feel like a match like that. This victory would lead Edge to eventually make his way to the WWE Title, cashing in the Money In The Bank Briefcase at New Year's Revolution '06 by beating an already-battered John Cena for the gold. Shelton Benjamin also got a minor boost from this match, thanks to his athletic maneuvers, but he would never really capitalize on it past his IC Title run.
- A $1,000,000 Tough Enough DVD commercial plays. If you look close, you can see Mike "The Miz" Mizanin, Justice Smith (from American Gladiators), and the winner, Daniel Puder. Realistically, though, this was a commercial failure for the WWE, so they're just trying to get their money back with this DVD.
- Eugene comes to the ring, happy just to be involved in Wrestlemania (he was out with a knee injury). As he proclaims his love for the event, though, he's interrupted by Muhammad Hassan & Daivari, with Hassan complaining about the bigotry of keeping him off the card. Hassan says that, since he wasn't given a Wrestlemania moment, he was going to make his own, with the two attacking Eugene. Hassan applies the Camel Clutch, choking out Eugene, with Daivari shouting at Eugene in his own language. To the surprise of few, Hulk Hogan comes out to his "Real American" music, fresh off of his Hall of Fame Induction. He walks to the ring and fights off both men, eventually giving Hassan the Big Boot and tossing him out of the ring. Daivari tries to come in with a steel chair, but the chair shot doesn't faze Hogan. He takes out Daivari with another Big Boot and throws Daivari out, clearing the ring. Hogan poses for the cheering crowds to his theme music, adding another memorable moment to this Wrestlemania (a moment that lasts several minutes, as it takes a while for Hogan to leave).
- Cole & Tazz take over the announcing duties from JR & the King, as it's time for their matches.
- We get a promo about Randy Orton, Man of Destiny and Legend Killer. It's a great black-and-white promo, talking about Orton's desire to end the Undertaker's winning streak at Wrestlemania. The Undertaker's many victories at Wrestlemania are also referenced, with the Undertaker talking about how Orton has sealed his own destiny. Orton is shown taking out his girl-friend, Stacey Keibler, with an RKO. Orton's dad, "Cowboy" Bob Orton, begs for mercy for his son, but it's a set-up, as Randy comes in to give the Dead Man an RKO, showing that Orton could indeed put the Undertaker down.
Randy Orton vs. the Undertaker, Legend vs. Legend Killer Match:
We have the Acolytes around the ring with burning torches to start out the Undertaker's epic entrance, complete with him standing on a hidden moving platform (making it look like he's gliding on the smoke). Orton comes out with a focused look on his face. He also gets a nice push from Michael Cole, which you don't hear very often for the heels.
Gotta admit, that's an impressive list, as long as you don't think about how old most of those guys are compared to Orton. Actually, in my mind, you can only count Foley, Flair, RVD, & the Rock, since he only sneak-attacked the rest of them (ok, he brawled with the Snake first).
This one was, pretty simply, strength against speed. Orton tried to move quickly around the ring, out of the Undertaker's reach, while trying to get under his skin. The Undertaker, meanwhile, stuck to his usual power game, trying to take out the youngster with everything from leg drops to Old School. It was a back-and-forth contest, with several near falls. As the match continued, the Undertaker shoved free of an RKO attempt, only to have Orton take out the referee (Earl Hebner). With the ref down, the wrestlers continued to fight, but "Cowboy" Bob Orton soon came running in, knocking out the Undertaker with a cask shot! Just as it seemed to be over, the Undertaker kicked free of the pin, then sat up, getting his second wind. Randy tried to send the Undertaker back into Cowboy Bob's cast, but the Dead Man took out Bob with a big boot, then, seemingly full in control, went for the Chokeslam. But Randy somehow counters in mid-air, hitting the RKO!! The crowd is on their feet, in shock, as Orton made the pin, but the Undertaker again kicked out. A pumped-up Randy calls for the Undertaker's own move, the Tombstone Piledriver! But as he goes for it, the Undertaker reverses it, landing his own Tombstone and getting the pin to go 13-0!
Winner: The Undertaker
Ace Thoughts: A lot of people came into this match thinking that Randy Orton was going to end the Undertaker's Wrestlemania winning streak. So when Orton hit that RKO out of the Chokeslam, I think the audience really thought it might be over. The kick-out signaled that it wouldn't happen, which made the reversal of the Tombstone even more dramatic. While part of me would have liked to see Orton manage the win, looking back on it, I'm glad that the Dead Man's still got the streak going to this day. It certainly didn't hurt Orton very much, as he and his dad, Cowboy Bob, continued to feud with the Undertaker for months, including Randy putting the Undertaker into a coffin and lighting it on fire. The Undertaker would, of course, eventually return for revenge at the '05 Survivor Series, leading to even more matches that helped cement Randy as a true main eventer in the WWE.
- JR & the King are back in charge of the announcing.
- We get a promo video explaining the feud between Christy Hemme and the WWE Women's Champion, Trish Stratus. It explains it pretty well: the only reason Hemme's in the title match at Wrestlemania is because she posed nude in Playboy. Stratus mocked Hemme's act, leading to the feud between the champion and the Diva Contest winner. At one point, Stratus painted "slut" on Hemme's unconscious back. Hemme made the challenge, which was accepted by Stratus. It was soon revealed that Hemme had gotten herself a trainer to fight the champ: Stratus' long-time foe, Lita. This gives Hemme a new weapon, the Twist of Fate, which makes Hemme that much more of a threat to Stratus.
Christy Hemme w/Lita vs. Trish Stratus(c), WWE Women's Title Match:
Stratus dominated early on, cockily kicking at Hemme and throwing her around. Hemme only seemed to get in offense when Lita distracted Stratus, allowing Hemme to get it back together and get a couple of close roll-ups. Hemme finally got some momentum going, with her landing her version of the Twist of Fate for a 2 count. Shortly thereafter, the two engaged in a roll-up combination, with Hemme seeming to hold Stratus down for a 3 count (the ref hesitated, since he knew who was supposed to win). Stratus kicked free, then landed a sloppy-looking Chick Kick (sloppy due to Hemme), which mercifully ended this one.
Winner And Still Women's Champion: Trish Stratus
Ace Thoughts: Ok, this one was pretty painful to watch again. All respect to Trish, but Hemme was not the one who should have gotten a Women's Title Shot at Wrestlemania. No one believed she could win, even with the addition of Lita, so compared to the rest of the card so far, this was a pretty lousy bout. Of course, they put it on after Undertaker/Orton, so they knew it was just a way to give the crowd a break. Hemme would go on to feud with other divas, like Victoria and Melina, before eventually leaving WWE and going to her current position in TNA, the manager of the Rock 'n' Rave Connection. Stratus would be injured a few months later, suffering a herniated disc, but she continued to wear the Women's Title for the next year, until she was eventually beaten at Wrestlemania 22 by Mickie James.
- A 'movie-clip' style promo talks about the feud between Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels. We start with the '05 Royal Rumble, with Michaels kicking Angle out of the ring to eliminate him. Angle, furious, came back into the ring and eliminated Michaels, then put him in the Ankle Lock on the stairs, with blood running down Michaels' face. Angle later explained his feud, stating that when he won the gold medal in '96, all he heard about was Michaels coming from the rafters at Wrestlemania XII. This one's all about who's greater, Angle or Michaels. Tremendous promo; I'm psyched up for this one.
- Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top and Marg Helgenberger from CSI: Crime Scene Investigation are in the audience as well. Yay.
Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels:
Over the past month, Angle has been preparing for Michaels by going through his former accomplishments, such as beating Marty Jannetty (Shawn's former tag-team partner) and taking out Sensational Sherri (Michaels' former manager). The two invaded each other's shows at various occassions, including Michaels disguising himself as a cameraman to get in an assault.
This one starts with a slap from Michaels, and just gets better from there. The storyline of this match is just great, as we start with a lot of technical wrestling, then build to more and more power displays. An Angle Slam into the ring post on the outside changed up the match, as Michaels' injured back became the focus. The fighting continued both in and out of the ring, with Angle threatening to German Suplex Michaels off the ring apron. Michaels hung on (with help of a low blow), then knocked Angle onto the announce table. He then sprang off the ropes and nailed Angle with a Moonsault! The table won out that encounter, as it was still standing, while both wrestlers were down. Thw two hurting stars went back into the ring and continued to go at it on weary legs, punching and chopping away.
Near the end, Michaels landed his Flying Elbow, then began calling for Sweet Chin Music. He tried for the boot, but Angle catches his leg and puts him into the Ankle Lock!! Michaels eventually made it to the ropes, but Angle soon had it locked on again, with Michaels escaping with a roll-up. Another exchange had Angle again blocking Sweet Chin Music and landing the Angle Slam, but Michaels kicked out at 2. A bloody-mouthed Angle put the straps back up, then brought them right back down, before trying for a Moonsault from the top rope. He missed, but it was still impressive. Michaels headed to the top, but Angle catches him with an Angle Slam off the top rope!! Michaels again kicks out, and the crowd is on its feet! A furious Angle picked Michaels up, screaming at him, but Michaels used the opportunity to land the Sweet Chin Music!! Both men are down, with blood running down Angle's mouth. Michaels crawls to the pin, but Angle barely gets a shoulder up (the ref had to hesitate on it). Michaels slowly staggers to his feet, but this leaves his foot open, and Angle puts on the Ankle Lock again!! Michaels can't get free, no matter what he tries, as Angle grapevines the leg, adding more pressure! Michaels fights it for a little longer, but the pain is too great, as he finally taps out!
Winner: Kurt Angle
Ace Thoughts: Spectacular match, and pretty much my match of the night. There were so many close calls in this one, you never really knew who was going to win out. When Angle came back to life to apply the Ankle Lock for the final time, the crowd exploded, and no one seemed that surprised that Michaels tapped out. This one has to be on your "Must Watch" list if you've never seen it. Heck, if you've seen it, you might want to see it again! Damn fine match.
- Post-match, the crowd gives Michaels a standing ovation, cheering his efforts as he limps to the back. JR & the King give the match its props.
- We're shown the "Basic Instinct" spoof (which apparently won "Best Punchline" and "Best Female" in a WWE poll), with Miss Stacey Keibler in the lead role, while Christian (Cage), Chris Benoit, and Chris Jericho play the investigators. It's still hilarious to this day, as long as you put the Benoit stuff behind you. Christian's "How about sadomasachistic activity? Just asking." line still gets me, as well as his "I love you" near the end. Of course, I could do without the Mae Young bit, but it's still funny.
- Mae Young & the Fabulous Moolah are shown in the audience. Gotta love 'em, whether you want to or not.
- "Rowdy" Roddy Piper comes out for his segment on the PPV, after having been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the day before.
- Piper immediately thanks the crowd for the honor of the Hall of Fame, which gets some cheers. He then talks about Wrestlemania 21 and the baddest man in the WWE, which he hears is "Stone Cold" Steve Austin. He goes through several questions towards the fans, ending with "Who is the biggest rebel in the history of the WWE?" When the fans say "Stone Cold", he says "Bulls&$t!". Piper then calls for Austin, and the infamous music hits. Austin comes out to the roar of the crowd, doing his usual moves. Piper immediately throws the stools out of the ring and stares down Austin, with the two meeting in the middle of the ring.
Austin: *shakes off slap* "Thank you very much for having me, you little son of a bitch!" *slaps Piper back*
Piper: *shakes it off and looks to the crowd* "I kinda liked it."
Austin: "Would you like another?"
With that out of the way, Piper talks about his respect for Austin, as the crowd chants "What?" Piper has a lot of fun with the chants, using it against the crowd, as he talks about Austin's relationship with Vince McMahon. He then goes into a great tirade about why he's the true greatest rebel in the WWE.
Austin: "Well, now, first of all, you mealy-mouthed b$%tard, you ought to know I don't trust one single son of a bitch, much less you! You come out here talking your trash in your little black jacket, your little white shirt, your little red dress, your little furry gimmicks, your little messed-up boots, your little goatee, looks like your cat run off. Am I supposed to be impressed by you? Are you supposed to intimidate me? Am I supposed to be scared? Because there's something going on here that I'm just not understanding, because for some reason, you don't scare me one single bit. Do I make myself clear? No, no, think about it a little longer."
Piper: "What we have here is failure to communicate!"
Just as things are getting heated, Carlito Carribean Cool comes out, interrupting both men. Carlito is quick to mention that neither man in the ring is cool. He then has the stupid notion to head down to the ring, since the crowd "wants to see Carlito". Piper doesn't even know who he is, calling him 'Alfalfa'. Carlito says he's taking charge, and would appreciate it if the two guys would leave. Carlito's also got his apple, but as he's preparing it, Piper grabs it from him, eats it, and spits it into Carlito's face! An angry Carlito attacks Piper, with Austin standing back to watch at first with a smile on his face. But that soon changes, as Austin stomps a mudhole into Carlito!! He throws Carlito to Piper, who gives him the eyepoke, which is quickly followed by the Stone Cold Stunner! Piper throws Carlito out of the ring, and the two men start to celebrate with a beer bash. Of course, that's not how it usually ends with Austin, and he makes sure to catch a drunk Piper with a Stunner before he leaves. Pretty good segment, if only for the back-and-forth of two of the best mic workers in wrestling history.
- We're shown the clip that was apparently voted "Best Trailer" (I disagree, it was definitely "Basic Instinct"), the "Taxi Driver" auditions. You have everyone from Batista to the Big Show to Michael Cole portraying themselves as Robert DeNiro, saying "Are you talking to me?" It's not bad, mind you, and there are some pretty funny moments, but it wasn't the best.
Akebono vs. the Big Show, Sumo Match:
This all started when Akebono made the challenge to the Big Show. The ring ropes are down, with a circle now placed in the middle to create the ambiance of the match. The fans cheer slightly when the two take off their robes, showing off their, uh, gear. Cole & Tazz mention that this is the first time that the Big Show has been out-weighed in a match in WWE. After a lot of stalling (which is thought of as 'ceremony'), the two men finally lock up with a lot of slapping and hitting. The Big Show tries to shove Akebono out, with Akebono turning him towards the edge (if he goes out of the circle, he loses the match). After a few attempts, the Big Show powers himself up with a hand and a scream, then locks up again, lifting Akebono up and putting him near the edge of the circle. But Akebono then used the Big Show's momentum against him, throwing him out of the circle (and the ring), winning the match. The two men show their respect for each other afterwards.
Ace Thoughts: If you like sumo matches, then more power to you. For me? Ehh, it was a definite bathroom break moment, especially since the guy staying in the WWE lost pretty easily. Sure, the Big Show lifted Akebono up a few inches, but that was about it. Still, at least the last two segments helped relax the crowd after the epic Angle/Michaels match, which was a definite necessity to make the title matches seem that much more important.
- We get a promo talking about JBL's championship reign, including the different tactics that he has used to retain his gold. JBL thinks that Cena has disgraced the US Title by making it into a 'spinner' title, and he helped his ally, Orlando Jordan, steal away the gold (and eventually burn it). Cena, meanwhile, is sick and tired of JBL, wanting revenge on him. We're shown Cena's rage getting the best of him, with Cena taking out Smackdown GM Teddy Long with an FU. In retaliation, Long made it so that Cena couldn't lay a hand on JBL until Wrestlemania. If he did, Cena would be stripped of his title shot. If JBL, though, attacked first, Cena would be allowed to fight back. JBL tried to goad Cena into attacking him with taunts, while Cena messed with JBL's limo, trying to get JBL to throw the first punch. He also spray-painted JBL's back with yellow paint. But JBL turned it on Cena, getting him arrested for vandalizing his limo, while also getting in a cheap shot when Cena was handcuffed.
- JBL comes to the ring in his limo, complete with a police escort (and the US Champ, Orlando Jordan). Money falls from the sky, but it's fake, as JBL's face is on it. Surprisingly, JBL sends OJ to the back, apparently ready to battle on his own. Cena, meanwhile, comes out without much fanfare. Ironically, that would come in later Wrestlemania appearances. Here, though, he didn't need it to get the crowd on his side.
John Bradshaw Layfield(c) vs. John Cena, WWE Championship Match:
Surprisingly, considering all the animosity between these two, we start with the usual lock-ups and head locks. We eventually start getting to the fisticuffs as this one goes along, with JBL in charge a lot as the match continued. In all honesty, he might have been in charge a little too much, as the crowd had trouble getting behind Cena the more the match went on. JBL had several near-falls, at one point with Cena having to put his foot on the ropes to survive. Every time Cena started to gain some momentum, JBL found a way to turn Cena's momentum against him. Cena finally got a great-looking Powerslam on JBL when the champ decided to try coming off the top rope, which enabled Cena to get full control. But by then, the crowd wasn't into it, barely giving Cena his due. I heard some boos even now, early in Cena's career. With all the momentum, Cena ran head-long into a boot in the corner from JBL, who then tried to get the Clothesline From Hell. But Cena ducked it, then got the FU, suddenly winning the match! Cena celebrates afterwards, but the crowd doesn't seem that energized, even with Cena going into the crowd.
Winner, and NEW WWE Champion: John Cena
Ace Thoughts: It was the end of an epic run by JBL and the true start of John Cena as a main-event superstar. Sad it didn't seem as special at the time, but I think that was mostly the fault of the way the match was arranged. I understand that JBL deserved to get in a lot of offense, after carrying the title for so long. But I think they truly did over-do it. By the time Cena started his comeback, I guess the crowd was expecting a possible run-in by Orlando Jordan or the Bashams. They didn't bite on the FU as much as could have been hoped for, which led to an almost anticlimactic ending to the match. Still, you have to appreciate the signifigance of Cena's first major championship victory. For the next few years, Cena would be THE face of WWE. JBL, meanwhile, would slowly fade out of the title picture, eventually becoming the Smackdown announcer (due to knee problems). Right now (as in 2008), JBL has made a comeback of sorts to the ring. But it's doubtful he'll ever reach the heights he did through this Wrestlemania.
- We go over the WWE Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, showing all the guys who spoke at the event: "Cowboy" Bob Orton (introduced by his son, Randy), Nikolai Volkoff, the Iron Sheik, "Mr. Wonderful" Paul Orndorff (introduced by Bobby "The Brain" Heenan), "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper (introduced by Ric Flair), and "The Immortal" Hulk Hogan (introduced by Sylvester Stallone).
- We go back live, where "Mean Gene" Okerlund introduces the class of '05. Various divas lead out the hall of famers to the stage. Hogan, as expected, comes out last (and gets Stacey Keibler on his arm, the lucky guy). The Hulkster's family is shown in the audience. Ahh, happier times, long before tv shows and nasty divorces.
- A commercial runs, promoting Wrestlemania 22 in Chicago the next year. Gotta love the advertising.
- Next up, JR and the King talk about tonight's "main event", leading to a video about Batista, Triple H, and their stable, Evolution. We go over how Triple H brought Batista into his stable, along with Ric Flair and Randy Orton. The video quickly covers Evolution's turn on Orton, leading to Orton's brief face run. Batista talks about how, even after he won the '05 Royal Rumble to earn a title shot, it was still all about Triple H (who was trying to convince Batista to go for a Smackdown Title shot, instead of challenging him for his World Title). Batista also overheard Triple H saying that sometimes Batista wasn't smart enough to know what was good for him. At the contract-signing ceremony, Batista seemed to choose the Smackdown contract, but when Flair & Triple H gave him thumbs up, Batista turned it to "Thumbs Down", parodying what happened when Triple H turned on Orton. Batista took out Flair & Triple H, then signed the Raw contract, leading to the two feuding.
- Motorhead is in attendance, playing the Game's music live as Triple H comes out, with Ric Flair at his side. It's kind of cool, but after such a long PPV, it's also tough not to fast-forward through it. Of course, I've grown used to fast-forwarding through Triple H intros. Batista comes out without much fanfare, but the crowd is HUGELY on his side for this one. You can tell this is the match they've been waiting for.
Triple H(c) vs. Batista, World Heavyweight Title Match:
This one seemed a lot more balanced than the Smackdown title match, straight from the opening bell. The champion tried to use his experience and skill, while Batista worked to use all his power to his advantage. And, of course, you had Ric Flair on the outside, using whatever he could to distract and take out his former tag-team partner, even choking Batista with his sports coat at one point to weaken the Animal. "The Flair Factor", as JR calls it, allowed Triple H to be in charge for a good portion of the match. But no matter what a frustrated Triple H did, Batista wouldn't go away. When Batista powered out of a pinfall attempt, Triple H showed his frustration, trying a top turnbuckle move, which led him to leap into a Batista clothesline. The two would keep going back-and-forth for a while, even going to the outside, where Triple H tried to use the Pedigree on a set of stairs. Batista countered it into a slingshot, sending Triple H head-first into the post and breaking him open. Soon after, the Game had a crimson mask going, showing how deep he was cut. Batista dominated after this, with Triple H in bad shape. The fight goes to the outside, where Flair gets involved. As Batista tangles with the Nature Boy, Triple H tried to use a chair to his advantage. The ref, though, sacrificed himself to stop the chairshot, keeping the match going. In the ring, Flair tried to attack, but Batista gave him the Spinebuster, taking him out. Unfortunately for Batista, Flair had slipped Triple H the World Title, and Triple H used it, smashing Batista in the head. But the weakened ref got there late for the count, with Batista kicking out. Batista came back with a Spinebuster on the Game, but Triple H used a low blow to get free. Triple H then went for the Pedigree, but Batista blocked it, slamming Triple H down instead and signaling the "Thumbs Down". A few secodns later, the Batista Bomb hit, and it was over.
Winner, and NEW World Champion: Batista
Ace Thoughts: This one was so much better than the Smackdown match, you have to wonder if Triple H used his power to make it that way. Batista had to fight through so much, including Flair's interference, that it made it that much more rewarding when he hit that final Batista Bomb for the victory. You also have to credit Triple H for being willing to gush blood, which made this one even better. This would cement Batista at the top of the card, joining him with Cena as the new stars of World Wrestling Entertainment. Of course, Triple H didn't go away, as he would continue to main event. Even now, as I write this, he's the WWE Champion for Smackdown. So you can't say this loss really hurt him. It was certainly a career-making match. The only negative thing I could say is that it was so well-hyped that, once Batista finally got the title, it was hard to keep the excitement up afterwards. Great match, well worth watching.
- Batista celebrates with the title after the match, with a bloody Triple H looking on in disappointment and shock. The fireworks go off, giving us another Wrestlemania moment: Batista holding the belt up with a yell on the turnbuckle.
- A video plays, showcasing everything that happened during the night. Cool video, making everything look exciting (even the sumo wrestling).
All-in-all, although it was a pretty long PPV experience, it was also pretty rewarding. There weren't too many matches on the two discs that were worth skipping over, and even those weren't terrible. They just weren't my cup of tea. It was one of those nights where you could see the new stars arriving, from Edge to Cena to Batista. If you haven't had the chance to see this one yet, well, you should go out there and find yourself a copy. It's worth it.