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.
I recall Michaels' 'moonsault' to the floor which sets up the Taker suicide dive looking a little sloppy, to the point where it looked more like an inverted crossbody by the end. Like I mentioned, I'm not one to really get up in arms over the odd mistimed spot, but it was something I figured I'd mention as to why I generally prefer the ringwork here than in the 25 match.
@ the bold part: poor phrasing on my part. I enjoyed the actual story, I just meant that in comparison to WM 26, I think the 26 match still has that Taker/Michaels atmosphere (albeit not as grand compared to the year before), but the overall story, selling and callback spots add an extra dimension to the story. 25 to me as a match isn't as layered in story and selling, which was more my aim rather than knocking the actual story. 26 just feels like a more developed match on top of the Michaels/Taker dynamic. Like the better Misawa/Kawada matches in the early-mid 90s compared to some of their matches near the end of the decade, if you get what I mean.
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.
Fair enough, that's perfectly understandable. I guess maybe because I'd come to not expect such layered storytelling and 'smarter' work in the majority of Shawn's post comeback run, that maybe getting this sort of storytelling makes me appreicate it more? I dunno, but it sticks out to me as WWE nailing a better balance between overt storytelling without beating it into the viewer's heads to the point where it becomes a nuisance and detracts from the match: i.e Taker/HHH HIAC with the HHH/HBK monologue and Shawn's dire acting after the SCM-Pedigree kickout.
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.
Again, that's understandable and something I can easily buy as being a little too cute. To me I think the work before as well as Michaels not being as hammy makes it less irritable and melodramatic, though I can appreciate with how WWE and Michaels work these sort of matches, the risk of some hammy convulted ending to the story is always possible. I find the balance in terms of completing the in-ring story without being too over the top is better achieved than what we got at WM 28, but again these sorts of moments and visuals are always going to resonate differently from person to person.
The suicide dive spot really did add an extra dimension to the WM25 match, namely because Taker looked legit fucked on the landing and it wasn't clear how they were going to continue the match with him in a seemingly fragile condition. That being said, I don't think anyone expected Michaels to win at WM25 (not saying he was a favourite at 26 either, but at least the idea of a rematch may have worked a few people into thinking there was a slightly better chance), and without trying to be too harsh I do think that lessens the impact the suicide dive spot has on the match. Like, if you have the same spot at WM26, where people may be conditioned into giving Michaels a slightly better chance..then I think the drama increases a lot. Whereas with WM25 it always comes off as a spot which does admittedly add drama to the match, but the feeling that Michaels was never going to win just sort of handicaps the amount of drama it can evoke. This is probably another scenario of me and you seeing the sequence differently, although off memory once Taker sort of recuperates I don't recall him looking as 'troubled' in the finishing stretch. Admittedly post impact and for a minute or two afterwards there is a real sense of shock that he may be done, but I don't find that carries through to the end of the match (a rewatch might put this better in perspective though).
As for the leg-work, I thought Michaels went as far as he could with it. He exploited it and worked it over and targeted it with his best submission in the hopes of securing the win, but as it became obvious Taker wouldn't submit he resorted to the SCM which had always been his trump card. I felt they made it central to Taker looking vulnerable and giving Michaels the best chance yet to end the streak, but it always felt more like a means to controlling the match rather than how Michaels would ultimately win.