Watching it repeatedly over time afterwards though? It feels like a WWE style version of a Puro/Dream match formula. There's a few sloppy moments (not something I'd critique terribly, but in comparison to WM26 there are far more 'that wasn't pretty' moments) and generally overall I don't find the story delves much further from two iconic legends locking up, aside from the final few minutes where Michaels looks to be the most resilient challenger to the streak yet.
The awful DDT reversal is the only thing that strikes me as the only sloppy thing in the match. Other than that it really felt the type of epic that WWE try to force down our throat and normally don't succeed at. I don't know why you'd consider the bold part a knock. Two iconic legends trading nearfalls in a really well done manner sounds pretty great on paper. I haven't watched it probably since 2010, but I sort of remember it being a poor man's Atlantis v Villano III (which is a good thing). WM26 was just a bunch of neat stuff happening and none of it is terribly memorable. I watched it paying close attention less than a week ago and remember almost nothing about it.
WM26? Well the spot where Taker's leg supposedly buckles and tweaks his knee always comes off as a super smart angle injected into the match and is really timed and executed in the most believeable fashion. The subsequent leg selling by Taker is better than anything I can recall in the 25 match minus the tombstone kickout and immediate Taker facial expression, and the way Michaels fakes out Taker to see if the injury is legitn as a callback spot to the year before where Michaels resorted to mind-game tactics to sneak an advantage really impressed me. Then the callback spots to Taker/Angle NWO 2006 and Michaels/Flair with HBK utilising the hells gate floatover counter and the inverted figure four submission he hadn't used since 2008..everything just advanced and progressed the story and Michaels put in arguably one of his stronger main event performances post comeback, although Taker was the clear better performer in my eyes.
The call-backs were good stuff, yeah. And that's something and I can remember know that you mentioned it. Didn't really feel great to me, though, as opposed to just "hey this is cool." A call-back is fine, but if I'm finding what they're doing kinda boring then it'll mean almost nothing to me.
I agree Taker was better, and I'd say he was also clearly better at WM25.
The nearfalls weren't as dramatic early on, since people were conditioned to what it would reasonably take to end the match, but that's a minor quibble and honestly I didn't buy the first couple of finishers in the WM25 match. Aside from it being a staple of the WWE Main Event style, Taker's streak matches had had those big nearfalls since the Batista match at WM23. Even in the finishing stretch of 26 however, you've got Michaels becoming a near equivalent of what Flair had become 2 years prior: an aging wrestler slowly realising the certainty of his defeat but ultimately bowing down to a superior opponent rather than continue to wrestle a hopeless match. Even the closest thing to a botch in the match actually advances the story of Taker's injury, namely the moonsault through the table.
I don't think I remember a single nearfall in the match. Michaels grasping onto Taker near the end is the kind of WWE-ish stuff I don't really care about. It's nice, but.....eh. At least Michaels' acting wasn't as hammy as it usually was post-injury.
I'd say Taker 'botching' (in 's b/c I don't think it counts as a botch) the dive to the outside advanced the WM25 way more than the moonsault advance WM26. Suicide dive means you're diving toward (metaphorical) suicide, and the risk doesn't always pay off. Taker landed HARD and was almost counted out.
Did Michaels follow up with the leg work at all at WM26? IDR. Seems like it was kind of thrown out.
I'm not even sure if WM25 would really hold up, but I can't imagine it not being as good as WM26. Needs a re-watch. OK no bullshit. I will watch both
matches tomorrow and write long paragraphs about each. Dead serious.