Re: Official DVD/Match/Show Discussion Thread
WWE WrestleMania 21
Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero - ***1/4
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Edge vs. Kane vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin - ****
The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton - ***1/2
Women's Championship: Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme - *1/2
Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle - ****
Sumo Match: Big Show vs. Akebono - DUD
WWE Championship: JBL vs. John Cena - **1/4
World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H vs. Batista - ***1/4
I remember the first time I watched this show live back in 2005. I had disliked WWE from the 2004-2005 season (WM XX - WM 21), and wasn't really looking forward to it.
It didn't help that I had gotten the flu and couldn't invite my friends over because I didn't want to get them sick, so I ended up watching WrestleMania 21 by myself.
All my concerns were to put to rest pretty much as soon as the show began.
Guerrero/Mysterio is not their best match and one of the two lesser ones (the other being the cage match), but it's still got some very innovative stuff, feels special, and gets enough time. The mask stuff didn't bother me because I think it was edited a lot on the DVD, but this one of the better recent openers for a WM.
I have a newfound appreciation for MITB. For a ladder match to still be good after 7 years is amazing, considering that they're usually topped by the next one is amazing. On paper, the level of talent is amazing. FOUR Canadian work-horses, Shelton Benjamin, and Kane. The match is nonstop excitement, not a mindless goofy spotfest, everyone shines, and it's genuinely suspensful. Benoit was either legitimately injured, or that's some of the best selling ever. So many classic moments in this one.
UT/Orton is a BLAST. Even more amazing is that apparentely both were injured at the time. Orton looked like a star on the rise, the action was great, and the chokeslam into the RKO was a classic, one of the most suspensful moments in WWE history. UT winning was a great feel good moment. At the time, I really thought Orton might win. This match is so much fun, and the show is three for three.
The segment involving Eugene, Muhammad Hassan, Daivari, and Hulk Hogan is not a classic, but the biggest I ever marked out. I had gotten back into wrestling in late 2003, just as Hogan was leaving, and didn't expect him to return. The segment itself started so well. Eugene was hilarious, and his response to Hassan was classic. Hassan: "Do you know why I'm out here?" Eugene: "You don't like midgets?"
Hogan returning was a great feel good moment to me, awesome to see him at WM twenty years later, and just a great segment, one of my favorites of all time. THIS is how you do a segment on PPV.
Trish/Hemme is awful, yes, but Trish is a great heel nonetheless. The one thing I like about this match is how pretty much pulls the winning kick out of nowhere, as if to say "enough of this shit." She was a little surprised by Hemme at first, but overall the veteran was just too good to beat.
Back in 2005, Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle was THE dream match for me. Angle was my favorite wrestler, HBK was another one of my favorites, and the fact that these two had never had a one-on-one match before was so intriuging, especially given that it had the potential to be a classic.
And to me, back in 2005, it was a classic. Even up until maybe 2008 or so I thought it was a classic, at LEAST ****1/4
But for some reason, I just didn;t LOVE it like I used to. Even when it started, the sight of Michaels and Angle in the ring at the same time didn't give me chills, like so many dream matches still do. I think part of the problem is that, for me, I've seen Angle become less and less important in TNA, and while I realize he was huge in 2005, he's probably the only '95-on HBK WM opponent whose stock has lowered for me. In TNA, he's just another name, his matches are really all the same, and I just don't care for him anymore.
I also think the action hasn't aged terribly well. I still love the 3-act structure: HBK outwrestling Angle because Angle wasn't expecting it, Angle taking control in the middle, and the big table spot leading to the big finish. This is still a very good match, but having felt more emotionally attached to the triple-threat at XX, the INSANE action of the UT match at XXV, this just didn't hit me the same way it used to, which is kind of upsetting.
Still, a very good match, very nicely paced and full of great action, just not the classic it used to be. Anyone else encounter something like that?
The sumo match was a dud, plain and simple.
I didn't care about Piper's Pit back in '05 just because I didn't have the same appreciation for Piper that I do today. By that point in the show, I was pooped. Four great matches and one great segment was almost too much for me. But watching it today, I realize it's a dream segment. The biggest rebel character of the 1980s verbally jousting against the biggest rebel of the 1990s, in a classic segment format in the 2000s. The slaps were classic, the discussion was never boring, and I loved Carlito interrupting. Awesome segment, Piper vs. Austin was another dream "match" here.
JBL/Cena is well, a mixed bag. On one hand, it is historic for being the the first WWE Title win for John Cena, and the official "arrival" of the biggest wrestling star since Stone Cold.
However, the match is incredibly weak. It's not BAD, it's just sooooo mediocre. It could have been the second match on an episode of RAW in October. There is nothing special about it. This match is 11 1/2 minutes long. For 11 minutes, JBL dominates Cena. For 30 seconds, Cena makes a comeback and wins. The comeback is so blatant, so out of nowhere, it's ridiculous. This was the SECOND SuperCena WM, an unfortunate formula began at XX, that just feels anticlimactic.
The lonest reigning WWE champion in years, one of the most hated men in wrestling being, one of the biggest up-and-comers in the business, this match should have been tremendous for being not only the end of JBL's epic, epic reign, but for Cena winning his first WWE Title. This should have had the same feel as HHH/Goldberg at Unforgiven. It doesn't. But historically speaking, it's important. And think about this: imagine how bad it would come off if JBL won?
IMO, HHH/Batista had the greatest buildup for a WM EVER. They spent six months building up Batista's face turn, HHH becoming more and more paranoid, it all unfolded week by week, so carefully, so deliberately, but also logically. They made us want to see it so badly. By the time Batista powerbombed HHH, I just about screamed, not because I was surpised, but because I had wanted to see it for so long.
The match itself does what it needed to. The problem is that less than a year before was one of the greatest WM main events ever. The jump in quality is noticeable. But WWE was moving in a different direction. It gets a little quiet in the middle, but I love HHH trying to match Batista's power, HHH getting busted open and realizing he may have bitten off more than he could chew, the belt shot, and the counter from the pedigree into the bb. The theatricality of Batista countering the pedigree is perfect, too, showing just how strong he is.
The best moment comes after the match, when, uncharacteristically, the face victor gloats. He stands over HHH holding the title as if to say "look who did this this to you...your own guy," and it helped establish more than just another title change, it helped to show that Batista was the new force of the WWE.
All in all, this is one of my favorite WMs ever, up there with X7, XIX, and XXIV. As many critics have pointed out, the show is the opposite of XX in that the undercard is stacked but the world title matches are lacking in work-rate and feel somewhat anticlimactic, unlike WM XX which was crap in the middle, and then capped off with two great title matches.
I prefer this show to XX, though. It's much tighter, more colorful, more entertaining, faster paced, and I agree that it gets a little shaky at the end (the Sumo match, JBL/Cena), but it still ends in historic significance and with a pretty solid main event. I could see why WWE began the formula of only having 8 matches or show per WM. Great show.
Favorite Matches of All Time
1. Triple-Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit - WrestleMania XX
2. Career Threatening Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Ric Flair - WrestleMania XXIV
3. WWE Championship: John Cena vs. CM Punk - Money in the Bank 2011
4. No Holds Barred Match: The Undertaker vs. Triple H - WrestleMania XXVII
5. WWF Championship: Hulk Hogan vs. The Ultimate Warrior - WrestleMania VI