Wrestlemania — page 10
We’re back after a short holiday break. I hope whichever holiday you celebrate from Festivus to Hanukkah to Christmas to Boxing Day was everything you hoped it would be.
Roundtable looks back at Wrestlemania as this was taped right before Wrestlemania XXIV at The Citrus Bowl in Orlando. Gene Okerlund has replaced Jim Ross in the moderator’s chair and Mick Foley, Michael Hayes, Dusty Rhodes (YES!) and Pat Patterson join him.
Mick starts this off and says he was a college student at SUNY Cortland during the first Wrestlemania. He was unable to attend this card as he did with so many MSG cards in his younger days. He says he had already used his hitchhiking card up (which begs to wonder how hard it must have been to hitchhike from NYC back to Cortland because that area isn’t exactly on the way to any place else. Maybe Syracuse I suppose.). He had no access to closed circuit TV and he said it hurt him to miss that. Gene reminds the viewer that the first Wrestlemania was only available on closed circuit. Patterson talks about the arenas that had access to closed circuit and how they were all sold out.
Hayes says Vince and Linda completely rolled the dice for Wrestlemania. He says it was their his fault the Freebirds weren’t on the card and he was shocked of the success. He admits the celebrity involved worried him and he thought it would fail. Dusty brings up Starrcade and Hayes says that Vince stole the idea from him but Dusty disagreed. Dusty said at first he and the rest of the territory guys hoped it failed but its success made everything better. Hayes and Dusty have a great exchange here:
Hayes: Just admit he took your idea and made it better.
Dusty: I don’t know that he made it better!
Okerlund talks about riding from the hotel with Ventura and both of them wondering what the hell was going to happen. Mick brings up the plans of sabotaging Wrestlemania from the other promoters. Hayes says there was always talk from murdering Vince and throwing out a bomb scare at MSG, etc. (Funny thing I don’t think Hayes is wrong, they talked about it but I think most of the promoters just knew Vince was going to fail and they decided to just let nature take its course. Oops.). Okerlund talks about how the WWF melted with mainstream music but also had iconic figures like Muhammad Ali. Patterson talks about how Ali was supposed to be the main referee but his Parkison’s was beginning to show itself and he made the suggestion to make himself the ref and Ali the outside (And the guys chide him about getting the payday for being on-air talent too).
Patterson says that he also thought it was the best idea because he spent so much time with Mr. T on the promotional events that he wanted to make sure everything in the ring went without incident. And right away during the melee in the first minute of the match Ali is upset with the heels and really trying to take legit swings at Orndorff and Orton before Patterson could get his guys to get him to the outside.
(Clips of the Mr. T/Hogan vs. Piper/Orndorff tag match. Really underrated little match too. I think I gave around three stars.)
Patterson and Okerlund said that the atmosphere in the locker room was exciting. The boys were excited and they had a big party at the Rockefeller Center building with Dick Ebersol and the NBC execs. During the party Patterson talks about almost getting into a fight with a drunk Billy Martin at the party. Okerlund talks about doing his promotional piece with Billy Martin in California during the afternoon and Martin was smashed and wooing a flight attendant. They show clips of it and Okerlund is right, they made it work but it’s clear he was drunk off his ass. He calls the wrestlers ‘fat’ and ‘great movie actors’ but later retracts the fat part.
Okerlund skips Wrestlemania 2 (like the rest of the company as that event didn’t happen) and they talk about Wrestlemania III. Dusty said he was on vacation in Colorado and name drops Liza Minnelli. He says that seeing Wrestlemania III highlights on ESPN made him happy because he knew the business was never going to die. They talk about the Steamboat-Savage match. Hayes said the match really ushered in a new era of workers. He also says that Steamboat was exasperated by Savage’s need to go over the match for several hours a day (dude should be happy cell phones didn’t exist back then). Hayes then says how CNN, a Ted Turner-owned network, read off the results of Wrestlemania III and didn’t mention the card the NWA ran for free against it on one of his own networks. Dusty said that all the WWF guys were on Larry King and he didn’t understand it. But Turner even understood that Mania was a big deal.
Patterson talks about Wrestlemania 2 but they quickly jump back to III as Foley talked about Savage-Steamboat and he said that was the first time the matches were really starting to matter. He says the hype was crazy but the actual matches were starting to have an impact. Hayes said that up until that point the territory guys were still hopeful they could outlive the “circus show” but after Hollywood John Tatum told him that Savage-Steamboat was the greatest thing he had ever seen he knew they were doomed.
(Clips of Savage-Steamboat, yes it’s still five stars, yes it’s still awesome, yes it’s still a must see for any fan.)
Hayes talks about what Wrestlemania does for the host city and the money it brings in during the week. Okerlund says now cities are competitively bidding for Wrestlemania. Patterson says after Wrestlemania III he went to the airport the next day and it was packed with people from different countries and it seemed like everyone either had a Wrestlemania program or was wearing a piece of merchandise. Patterson talks about an exchange with a woman who just wanted take her son to Wrestlemania and she ended up becoming a fan. Dusty says (in his own special way) that Wrestlemania III was the day everyone went to the pay window. Patterson says Wrestlemania III was a bigger gamble than Wrestlemania I.
Hayes said that when he walked out on Ford Field last year before the crowd came in he just thought back to the armories and the smoky joints where the guys used to work and said that everyone on this panel in one way or another contributed to the success of this event by just helping the business get to the place where it could happen. Patterson relays a story about Savage and how protective he was of Elizabeth. Well at Wrestlemania V she’s in the neutral corner for the Hogan-Savage main event and has to walk to the ring alone. Well Savage was freaking out about something happening to her as she went to the ring (i.e. a fan grabbing at her) so Patterson suggests to Vince that he walk behind her (she was also surrounded by like 10 policemen) and naturally nothing happened…but had something happened Savage would have killed Patterson so he doesn’t understand why he suggested it to begin with.
They talk about the behind the scenes and dealing with the boys and getting them to the ring. Patterson says it’s the Super Bowl and it means a lot to the boys to be on the card. Patterson says one of his more fulfilling moments was suggesting the Ironman match and watching it from the crowd. Mick said most of the workers will try to watch some of the card from seats in the crowd just to feel the energy of the event. Dusty says that Vince treats the workers’ families so well for the event. He says that his Wrestlemania moment was Toronto and everyone wants that moment. Dusty said that Mick’s moment came two years ago in the street fight with Edge. He talked about his various great matches but he never felt like they happened at Wrestlemania. Going into the Edge match he was wondering if he would just be known as a ‘Backlash’ guy or a ‘Summerslam’ guy. Really honest stuff from Mick there that gives you a perspective of what went through his mind.
(Clips of the Edge-Foley street fight. Tremendous, brutal, bloody brawl with a super shock ending. Lita trying not to throw up is an awesome visual as well.)
Foley says while he’s laying there smelling his burning hair he’s thought ‘I finally got that moment.’ Patterson talks about wanting to see the end of Hogan-Warrior and wanting to feel the ending of that match. He and Vince watched the final sequence and started crying. Patterson said he caught up with Warrior in the dressing room and he was also emotional about his victory. Meanwhile Okerlund said he was in a limo ride with Hogan from Toronto to upstate New York and Hogan rode in total silence. Okerlund said the match exceeded all expectations.
They talk about the celebrities. Hayes said a lot of times they add a lot but they are a pain in the ass. Hayes said Mike Tyson, however, was easier to deal with than Shawn Michaels that year. Patterson remembers warning Burt Reynolds not to shake hands too hard because someone will grab his hair piece. Hayes said that Pamela Anderson had to be coddled out of the limo from Tommy Lee according to the scuttlebutt. Dusty said the celebrities are ducks out of water and they sometimes come into the wrestling cards thinking they are the show and they are just enhancement. Patterson said the parking lot atmosphere in the hours leading up to Wrestlemania is also tremendous.
They talk about Lawrence Taylor and Patterson booked himself as the ref in that match too. Patterson said Taylor was a natural and he trained him extensively. Foley said he likes to deal with the celebrities that want to be there. Foley said Tyson was like a kid in a candy store and he was a complete mark for all the workers and telling them his favorite memories of their work. They also mention how awesome Pete Rose was (and I will never forget…my favorite moment of Wrestlemania XIV was Rose shooting on the Boston audience. Kane actually gave him a nasty looking tombstone albeit perfectly safe and Rose sold it like a champ.) Hayes says for the most part the celebrities are bad because they aren’t used to doing live improv and the big audience overwhelms them. Dusty says that what the wrestlers do on the fly, the actors do over the course of several days with several takes.
Okerlund asks each panel member their favorite Wrestlemania moment. Foley skips at first. Hayes says the Undertaker victory over Batista because of the work in the match and the growth of Batista in that loss (and an awesome match too, recently saw it and upgraded it to ****1/2 stars.). Mick says all of Wrestlemania 17 because he was able to take it all in from a fan’s perspective. Foley adds that Bret Hart’s Hall of Fame induction was another moment. Dusty has three things, he said his favorite moment hasn’t happened yet and he hopes it’s when he sees Cody at his first Wrestlemania. He says his Hall induction was a favorite and Savage-Steamboat was the ultimate match. Patterson says Andre-Hogan, Shawn-Bret, Shawn-Cena, Taker-Batista and Rey Mysterio winning. As a wrestling man Patterson says Shawn-Bret trumps them all. Okerlund says his return for the gimmick battle royale with Heenan was his favorite moment. Hayes mentions the great Heenan line when he said that it would be Wrestlemania 37 by the time the Iron Sheik got to the ring. And they close it there.
The Bottom Line: It was fine. I’ll admit I was hoping for a little more Dusty but I think we’ll get that in the next show. Pat Patterson’s attempts to always work on the Wrestlemania card was also pretty funny.
Seems like there is an evolution when it comes to mania matches. The original plan, at least according to the Internet, was Cena vs Rock II and Brock vs. HHH. I would not spend my money on that. However, a Taker vs. Punk and Brock vs. Rock matches would make me spend my money. Despite your resistance to fantasy book, could you please give us a complete Wrestlemania card? And where would Cena best fit in?
Cena v. Rock is the biggest drawing match in the entire history of wrestling. THE HISTORY OF WRESTLING. What insane person wouldn't want to do a rematch and make another couple of hundred million dollars off it? Cena v. Rock, HHH v. Brock, Punk v. Undertaker, there you go. It might not get your money but it's already sold out an entire stadium without even announcing the card and it all makes sense from a storyline perspective. Good enough for me.
words, man. Within 5 years I’ll be at WrestleMania, watching the Hulkster come
down the aisle in the red and yellow.
absolutely no way in hell that will ever happen.
that I was going to a Wrestlemania. Not only that, but the card wasn’t a WM4,
or WM9 type of situation. This was going to be a solid event. So, my
friends and I get tickets, and they’re pretty decent. When you watch the show,
you see the floor, then the arena starts to go up in levels. We’re right
in the middle of the first level, and that’s just about perfect. Plus, my seat
is at the end of the aisle, which is pretty choice. Especially since my
buddy on the end had to sit next to a guy who was so fat that he was literally
oozing over the arm barrier. Across the aisle was a guy dressed head to toe
like Roddy Piper. Obviously he did it for the chicks, but it’s always cool to
see peeps do that.
Hardy [C] – Crusierweight Title
Great opener. It’s no Pillman/Liger, or Bret/Owen,
but it does its job damn well. Basically a condensed version of most of
Rey’s matches. They were executing everything flawlessly, and it was pretty
exciting for what it was. A shame it didn’t last longer.
Matt rolls up Rey and holds the ropes for the pin
at 5:39 | ***
to bring out Undertaker. I actually paid to see Limp Bizkit during the Anger
Management Tour, and they were great.
Show & A-Train
We find out before the match that Nathan Jones was
jumped before the match, thus he won’t be able to complete. No, it had nothing
to do with his complete inability to wrestle. He was awesome in Tony
Jaa’s The Protector, though. On the way to the ring, A-Train disrespects
Undertaker by tilting the rear-view mirror on his bike. Will they escalate
the feud by having A-Train adjust Undertaker’s car seat and change his radio
American Bad Ass to be the worst main eventer of all time, I’m surprised this
match isn’t completely atrocious.
game, with no needless sleepers and other lame big-man spots. Good stuff.
A-Train with the Tombstone for the pin at 9:45 | **3/4
Crap. I thought it was stupid and pointless at age 19 and I still do. At least
a woman worth her salt is up next…
Victoria – Women’s Championship
doesn’t get more fanfare. She’s gorgeous, and more than capable of having a
good match. The PPV didn’t have a Woman’s Match graphic, which was fine because that meant I got to surf around Google looking at Trish pictures.
coming down to that song by the Russian pseudo-lesbians.
Jazz is Stevie Ray, but I’m working on it. There is plenty of proof that Trish
really is a talent, watching her shows just how bad the current crop of models
from the Claire Lynch School of Acting truly are. This match was hard hitting,
fast, botch free, and flat out exciting. One of the best women’s matches
I’ve ever seen. Wow, after seeing these lower card matches, and knowing what’s
coming up, this damn well could be the best WM ever.
Victoria with a Chick Kick for the pin & the title at 7:17 | ***
Rock mode, meaning he gives actual promos, and is at his strongest. He doesn’t
plan on losing to Stone Cold.
& Rhyno vs. Team Angle [C] – WWE Tag Team Championship
distaste for elimination matches. In any other federation, a Triple Threat is
elimination, same with multiple tag-team matches. But not here. I do like the aspect where
anyone can tag anyone. So if you’re stuck in a corner getting worked over, you
can tag whoever is there to take your place. It’s an absolute shame this match
didn’t get more time, because if it had, we would have had a sure-fire classic.
get a frantic, high impact, hard-hitting and fast paced match. It was
absolutely incredible. A damn shame they weren’t given more time.
pin on Chavo after Rhyno hits the Gore at 8:45 | ***1/4
girls argue over who started WrestleMania. You can tell they’re passionate
about it when one of ’em keeps insisting Hulk Hogaln started it. Indeed.
some of the ‘evenly matched chain-wrestling’ that some have grown to hate. I
don’t watch indy wrestling, so it’s still cool to me. Great spot that
soon follows is Jericho going for the bulldog, and Shawn launching him crotch
first into a turnbuckle. Later, Jericho works the back by applying The
Walls outside the ring, then smashing Shawn’s back into the ringpost twice
before discarding him like so much trash. Awesome. I absolutely love
it when Jericho kips up and does the Shawn-Flex, great taunt. There’s a million
great spots to mention here, but honestly I was just all sorts of sucked
in to the match. It’s incredible. Easily one of the best ‘new guy vs established
star’ matches ever. And Jericho kicking him in the junk afterwards is
the pin at 22:33 | ****3/4
We get the promo for Goldberg’s arrival. I
remember seeing that and screaming “NO! NO! Please God, NO!” However,
my pleas fell on deaf ears.
waste everybody’s time.
Booker T. I completely forgot this match was even on here, and it’s pissing me
off all over again. What the HELL was the point of Triple H winning
here? Can ANYONE explain it?
– World Heavyweight Championship
in the beginning, it’s a pretty basic Triple H match. He hits a sweet
spinebuster, and then soon follows it up with a clothesline to Booker
while he’s in the corner that’s easily the hardest one I’ve ever seen Triple H
give. I mean, Booker explodes forward with how hard Triple H hit him.
That’s soon followed by a great moment with Triple H leaping off the second
rope, only to meet Booker’s kick mid-air. Jerry and JR are in prime form
during this match, showing just how much of a bore The King is when he’s a face
announcer. Booker T is doing a Bret Hart style job of selling the knee, kudos. WHAT
THE HELL? I knew the ending was bullshit, but that was it? C’mon, that was an
EASY ‘he’s down, but OH! He’s up at the last second’ sorta thing. Booker
couldn’t get pinned right after the Pedigree? He had to wait for Triple H to
hit the Pedigree, go paint a house, order a pizza, decide he didn’t like
the color he painted the house so he paints it again, then comes and pins
could have been a classic, because as it is, it’s a damn fine match.
and scores the pin at 18:50 | ***3/4
video for Vince vs Hogan. Plus the whole ordeal with Vince signing Hogan’s name
in blood was fantastic.
McMahon – Street Fight
cared about since it was announced for the card. I didn’t dream of sitting
during this match either. I was finally going to see Hogan live. The guy
across from me, Roddy, was giving a mighty boo to both. They start off in the
ring, obviously, with Vince working the shoulder. Eventually it leads outside, as
each gets their own time with a chair. There’s a spot where Hogan swings
on Vince, but hits Hugo Savinovich instead, and he even blades. What a trooper.
Few bleed as well as Vince, as it just works so well with his face.
Point exactly when they get that awesome shot of him looking over the ring once
he gets the pipe. Now of course this is the moment where Roddy Piper
comes into the ring and the dude near me EXPLODES. If I didn’t know any better,
I’d think he was gonna go home with Piper or something. It was a cool
thing to see though, and one of the things that make wrestling so much
fun. I was losing my mind during the Hulk-Up as was everyone around me. Loved
every minute of it. You know, you’d think after seeing Hogan Hulk-Up about
30,000 times that Vince would know he couldn’t hurt him.
on Vince for the win at 20:48 | ***
Rock vs Austin. Basically, Austin returns after his whole ordeal with not
laying down for Brock, and The Rock challenges him for a third and final
showdown at WM19. One guy wants to get what he’s never had, the other wants to
protect his legacy.
people who are supposedly dating as the GM tries to make a scandal out of it,
but it’s the way to a match that I prefer.
Match starts off in Stone Cold’s favor, before The
Rock shifts the tide by zeroing in on Austin’s knees. Man alive, is there any
wrestler anywhere who does a move shittier than The Rock’s Sharpshooter?
It’s TERRIBLE. It looks more like a suggestion that a submission “gee,
would you mind tapping out? Are you too uncomfortable? My bad!” The
Rock puts on Austin’s vest, and he looks like when your younger brother would
edit the wrestlers in No Mercy, giving them odd clothes and such.
There’s a great spot where Rock goes for the People’s Elbow, and Austin moves
out of the way just as Rock brings the elbow down. Austin pops up, goes
for the Stunner, only for The Rock to push Austin into the ropes and hit him
with a spinebuster. It’s moments like that,
that make Austin and The Rock so fantastic. A great match with an awesome
ending when you see it in retrospect. Austin
knew it was his last, but just wouldn’t die, and even though he knew The Rock
had him, he still kept trying. Great match.
& final Rock Bottom for the pin & Stone Cold’s career at 17:53 | ****1/2
Lesnar. We see Brock win the 2003 Royal Rumble, then Team Angle beat the hell
out of Brock on Smackdown. Followed up by Angle pulling a switch on Lesnar during a
Smackdown match and getting the pin. If I recall, Angle was needing time off
for surgery, so they wanted to keep him fresh and avoid all chance of injury.
I’ve actually never seen the match, so I’m really looking forward to it.
Kurt Angle [C] vs Brock Lesnar – WWE Championship
They of course start the match with traditional
wrestling, with no complaints from anyone. Angle does a sweet suplex on Lesnar
that launches him back first into the turnbuckles, an awesome move that reminds
me of the powerbomb into the turnbuckles from No Mercy. Honestly, not too much
memorable happens until Brock just about kills himself. What a disappointing
match. Some wrestling, a REALLY long wrest hold, nothing else too
interesting or exciting, and then the Shooting Star.
Angle and grabs the pin & the title at 21:04 | ***1/2
friends and I left in the middle of the Title Match because we just didn’t
care. As we were almost out of our exit we hear the crowd give a collective
“OOOOH!”. As we walk back into the arena we hear someone say
“Brock snapped his neck! He’s dead!” If there’s anyone you can
trust for reliable info, it’s a wrestling fan. We saw everything was fine, and
once again headed for the exit. My friend glances over this rail down to
the floor and sees Arn Anderson. He’s a life-long wrestling fan and yells out
“Arn, you’re a legend!”, to which Arn turns around and waves.
absolutely hated The Horsemen at a young age and would never forgive himself
for not telling The Enforcer off, yells to him “Arn, you’re fucking
fat!”. He felt vengeance was his. All in all, it’s a great WM. I still
don’t feel it’s the best, as WM24 holds that title for me, but 19 is fantastic
and my favorite live show. The fact I got to see Hulk Hogan, in the red and
yellow, is one of my favorite memories. I find it funny the DVD included both Limp Bizkit performances, and
the Cat Fight Girls, but left out when John Cena came out to battle rap a card
board cut out of both Jay-Z & Fabolous.
Rules bandana that I got at the show, and wear it on occasion. Mostly at
black tie events.
kind, I figure I’ll reward with a recap of the following Backlash’s main event.
A match I’ve never seen, and a decision I’m sure I’ll regret
Backlash 2003, April 27, 2003
match after Goldberg shoves him down following a tie-up by saying “Oh, you
are in trouble now!”. However, he then ends up making this match
far more boring that I could imagine. Honest to God, in TEN MINUTES we’ve seen
two lock-ups, a slap, a shoulder block, and a clothesline. He’s stalling
beyond belief. On the plus side, I will say that Goldberg delivers a far more
impressive Rock Bottom than the Rock ever has. Following that, Rock
slaps Goldberg in The Polite Suggestion [Which is what I’ve dubbed his
Sharpshooter. Because it’s far from a submission, it’s more like he’s politely
suggesting that said person give up]. Rock hits Goldberg with a spear, and pops
right up for a pose, yet when Goldberg speared The Rock he was down for
just about as long as Rocky. I mean, how on Earth is this supposed to make
Goldberg look powerful? This whole match The Rock has made him look like
a GD chump, and it’s as if Goldberg is barely able to escape with his life.
Which leaves me with no surprise as the arena fills with “Goldberg
Sucks” chants. I will say when The Rock gets speared, he gets
speared. Certainly not a good debut, and it wasn’t going to get any better as
the montHHHs rolled along.
after hitting The Rock with the Jackhammer at 13:03 | **
Hope you guys dug it. I appreciate the requests for good shows, you’ve all been kind. What would you guys like to see next?
Thanks to Steven Ferrari for taking the time to check this article and allow me to look professional.
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– Caliber Winfield
Let's say Daniel Bryan wins the Royal Rumble and beats Dolph Ziggler for the World Title at WrestleMania. The Rock beats CM Punk for the WWE title, but loses to John Cena at WrestleMania. Cena uses the help of Wade Barrett and whoever else to get the title from Rock, because – like Austin with Vince – he doesn't think he can do it on his own. Could Daniel Bryan, Sheamus, and Ryback carry the company as the top faces if Cena turned heel? There was a time where turning Hogan heel sounded crazy, but it ended up making WCW a gazillion dollars.
This is an obvious topic, but I'm interested in you and the blog's opinion, especially after the recent direction of his character-who do you think Punk will/should face at Wrestlemania? They have hinted at a Punk/Rock match for the title, but I just don't see them letting Punk be in the main event of a show that can have Rock, Lesnar, Taker, HHH, and Cena at the top. Since they're clearly pushing him to be the top heel, do you see him facing one of those guys(and probably laying down), or do you see him dropping the title before then and facing somebody like Sheamus or Daniel Bryan to push them further up the card? I'm sure most fans would like to see him face the Rock because we'd be guaranteed a good match and probably a better story leading up to it than Punk/Jericho and Rock/Cena from last year, but the fact that they don't trust Punk to main event B shows makes that seem pretty unlikely(although still more likely than an Austin return as some have suggested). Just wondering what you think.
this is Todd Pettengill’s last time doing the WrestleMania preview show. This
is also the last year that the original WrestleMania logo was used.
Ross, and Jerry “the King” Lawler are in the booth and they are live from
All: Billy Gunn pins Flash Funk (w/the
Funkettes) after a tornado DDT at 7:06:
superstars at the top of the card in 1997, you also had stuff like this
lingering in the midcard. As you might
expect, Funk works a quick pace at the beginning, but Billy really slows things
down in the middle. Funk pulls out a
victory roll off the top rope, which looks nasty and I’m surprised Billy agreed
to take it considering his neck issues. The tornado DDT should’ve been Billy’s
finisher, since the name already tied into his gimmick as a Texas cowboy and
you would think it would be more reliable than a flying leg drop. For those that aren’t fans of Billy Gunn,
keep in mind that this was the first attempt at giving him a decent singles
push. There would be two more attempts
after this one failed. Overall, this was
a good opener that had a hot finishing sequence after the dry middle
portion. Rating: **½
spare time, you should YouTube the opening video package for this show. It’s a perfect representation of the early
the New Blackjacks, who cut a quick generic promo about how they are the best
before heading to the ring.
Elimination, Number One Contender Contest:
The Headbangers defeat The Godwinns (w/Hillbilly Jim), Doug Furnas &
Philip LaFon & The New Blackjacks at 10:40:
Elimination: The New Blackjacks and
Furnas & LaFon are disqualified for brawling on the floor at 4:47; The
Headbangers eliminate the Godwinns when Mosh pins Phineas following a Stage
Dive at 10:40
a tag team encounter. The winner of this
gets a tag team title shot the next night on Raw. The Headbangers are both tagged in to fight
each other, but they lightly slap each other and do a small dance instead. You would think with the promo that they just
cut that the Blackjacks would fare better in this match. The same can be said of Furnas and LaFon, who
had just feuded with the tag team champions.
Instead, we get the Godwinns, who were more than stale at this point and
the younger Headbangers, who had done little to distinguish themselves in the tag
team division, as the final two teams. Despite this somewhat
lackluster matchup, both teams put together a good match, with the Headbangers
using a diverse and unique series of double teams to maintain the advantage
until Thrasher misses a moonsault.
Phineas tries to finish Thrasher with a Slop Drop, but Mosh breaks it up
and the Headbangers emerge victorious after all hell breaks loose. For their part, the Chicago crowd approves. I enjoy elimination matches, but if they were
going to get rid of the New Blackjacks and Furnas & LaFon so quickly, they
might as well have just booked the Godwinns and the Headbangers in a number one
contenders match and called it a day.
That silly booking aside, the Godwinns-Headbangers encounter saved this
from being a disaster. Rating:
comes out to do guest commentary.
Captain Lou Albano and Tony Atlas are shown in the audience.
Championship Match: “The Rock” Rocky
Maivia (Champion) pins The Sultan (w/The Iron Sheik & Bob Backlund) with a
schoolboy at 9:44:
since he showed clips of the original Blackjacks before the opening match and
goes through some early 1980s WWF history when talking about Maivia’s
roots. It’s puzzling that when Marc Mero
went down that the WWF’s backup plan was to use the Sultan, but in retrospect they really didn’t have anyone else to turn to in the singles ranks since most
of the midcard talent and above was already involved in other feuds. Honky screams a lot during this
match about Maivia’s mistakes and then goes on a small rant about Maivia’s
relationship with Cindy Margolis. Maivia
must’ve watched some Tatanka footage prior to this show, since he uses parts of
Tatanka’s war dance when making his comeback and no selling the Sultan’s
blows. The Sheik prevents Maivia from
winning with a flying body press by distracting the referee, but Maivia
survives a piledriver and catches the Sultan off guard to retain the
title. They couldn’t have given Maivia a
stronger victory than that at WrestleMania?
A questionable way to treat a guy you see as the future of the
company. After the match, the heel crew
lays out Maivia, the Sheik humbles him with a camel clutch, and they do the
same to Rocky Johnson who tries to make the save. However, father and son rally and stand tall
at the end. Some people call this the
worst Intercontinental title match in WrestleMania history, but that’s really
unfair. It’s not a terrible and
is less ridiculous than the WrestleMania II affair between Randy Savage and
George Steele. Rating: **
interviews Ken Shamrock, who says that he was just trying to teach Billy Gunn a
lesson on Raw. He says he won’t be
intimidated by Bret Hart or Steve Austin in tonight’s submission match.
interviews Hunter Hearst Helmsley and Chyna.
Helmsley awkwardly starts his promo like a face, saying WrestleMania is
an awesome stage and he’s glad to be in CHICAGO, but quickly reverts back to
form in warning Marlena to keep clear when he faces Goldust in the next match.
Helmsley (w/Chyna) beats Goldust (w/Marlena) with a Pedigree at 13:10:
feud for Hemsley since it began the process of establishing him as a credible
midcard talent. Sometimes people don’t
appreciate what this feud did for Helmsley, especially when it comes to introducing
Chyna, because of the more memorable feud Helmsley had with Mankind after
this. The match really goes downhill
after the three minute mark, as Helmsley’s offense does little to capture the
imagination or sustain interest. Goldust
goes to nail Helmsley with the Curtain Call, but is distracted by Chyna
threatening Marlena. Goldust pulls
Marlena onto the apron, but that enables Helmsley to knee him in the back and
give us a great visual for the finish whereby Chyna catches Marlena and shakes
her like a ragdoll and Helmsley Pedigrees Goldust for his first WrestleMania
victory. You would think these two could
put together at least one good match, but they failed to do it again here. If not for the finishing sequence, this
would’ve been rated much lower. Rating:
interviews WWF Tag Team Champions The British Bulldog & Owen Hart on their
way to the ring and asks them who the captain of their team is. Owen insists that it is him and Ross needs to
quit stirring up trouble.
Match: The British Bulldog & Owen
Hart (Champions) wrestle Vader & Mankind (w/Paul Bearer) to a double count
out at 15:51:
Owen and the Bulldog had their problems coming into this one and Vader and
Mankind didn’t function effectively as a team when they wrestled together prior
to this show. The challengers dominate
much of the match, with Owen being on the receiving end of a powerbomb at the
hands of Vader and the Bulldog getting nailed in the head with the urn behind
the referee’s back. Owen has a nice
little comeback sequence against Vader, giving us a glimpse of what the 1997
version of babyface Owen Hart would look like, but he soon runs into Vader,
which is like running into a brick wall.
Stu and Helen Hart are sitting at ringside and Mankind mauls Owen in
front of them. Helen looks concerned,
but Stu just stoically sits there, which is a nice reflection of his
personality. It’s like he’s telling Owen
to take his punishment like a man.
Mankind puts the Bulldog in the Mandible Claw to avoid a running
powerslam and Lawler promises that Owen will think of a solution. Owen proceeds to get nailed by Vader, though,
but he bumps into Mankind and the Bulldog, who fall to the floor, where Mankind
reapplies the Mandible Claw and gets them counted out. This match was more of a wild brawl, since
there were very few near-falls, and the finish was very disappointing, since
all signs were pointing to Vader and Mankind winning the titles here. In fact, that was booked to happen until Bret
Hart convinced the booking team to change its mind for the upcoming Hart
Foundation angle. I like the Bulldog and
Owen so that’s not so bad, but it likely robbed us of a fun Legion of
Doom-Vader & Mankind feud. Rating:
aired for the Bret Hart-Steve Austin submission match.
with Ken Shamrock as Guest Referee: Bret
“the Hitman” Hart defeats “Stone Cold” Steve Austin after Austin passes out to
the Sharpshooter at 21:54:
one-on-one encounter at the Survivor Series, Bret and Austin face each other
once again in a submission match, a forum that would seem to favor Bret since Austin’s character was not exactly renowned as a submission
specialist. This is actually Bret’s
second submission match in the last three WrestleMania’s since he faced Bob
Backlund in an “I Quit” match at WrestleMania XI. The crowd is completely into this one, as
both men quickly take their battle into the crowd. While there, some idiot has some obsession
with rubbing every combatant, including Shamrock on the head. I’m surprised Shamrock just didn’t knock him out. He fails to rub
Austin’s head, so I suppose he didn’t win the lottery the next week. This match is simply timeless as you can
watch it fifteen years later and it still generates the same emotions the first
time you watched it. This is also a
contest where the smaller arena setting works best because it creates a more
intimate and grittier feel, something today’s stadium crowds can’t
replicate. Everyone also plays their
role well here, with Bret acting as someone who wants to extract maximum
punishment to get his revenge, Austin flips off Shamrock when he’s asked if he
wants to give up, and Shamrock does a great job staying out of the way and only
getting close when it’s called for. I
know I’ve railed against the ring post figure-four spot before, but it’s
appropriate for this match since it’s no disqualification and the crowd pops
big for it. Austin opens up a huge cut
after brawling on the floor and he gushes all over the ring. Bret eventually overwhelms Austin by blasting
him with the timekeepers bell to avoid getting choked out with some microphone
cables and then applying a Sharpshooter, but Austin honors his word by
refusing to submit and when his attempt to power out of the Sharpshooter fails,
he passes out. After the match, Bret
continues the attack and Shamrock has to give him a waistlock suplex to keep
him from applying another Sharpshooter.
The crowd wants to see Bret-Shamrock, but Bret walks away to a chorus of
boos. Austin, meanwhile, refuses
assistance, gives a referee a Stunner, and walks out to chants of his name,
thereby completing the planned double turn and sending the rest of 1997 down a
different course than what was anticipated in January. When ranking the most important WWF matches
of all time, this one has to be considered as either number one or number two,
depending on where you place Andre-Hogan from WrestleMania III. It officially made THE star of the late 1990s
and laid the foundation for the WWF to overtake WCW within the next thirteen
months. I think the rating of this match
speaks for itself. Rating: *****
over Steve Austin’s effort in the last match.
Fight: Ahmed Johnson & The Legion of
Doom defeat Faarooq, Crush & Savio Vega (w/the Nation of Domination) when Animal
pins Crush after Crush is clotheslined by a 2×4 at 10:45:
evening and comes out with his own spiked shoulder pads. Someone on the booking team had a funny bone,
as the faces bring a kitchen sink with them to the ring. The Nation tries to use D-Lo Brown, PG-13,
and Clarence Mason to weaken their opponents, but they are easily
decimated. Animal goes to piledrive
Faarooq through a table in what would’ve been a cool spot, but he loses his
balance and they fall off. The crowd is
disappointed, but credit to Animal for just bailing out there. I cringe each time Ahmed hits someone with
something since you know he’s going all out and those blows have to hurt. Somehow a hangman’s noose gets introduced and
placed around Ahmed’s neck, as D-Lo and Clarence try to hang him. I can assure you that you will never see that
done in today’s WWE for obvious reasons. After
some mindless brawling that kills much of the crowd, Crush is put away with a
Doomsday Device and a triple team with a 2×4.
After the match, PG-13 are killed with a cool double Doomsday
Device. One might think this would end
the Nation-Ahmed feud, but it kept going after this show. This was a fun brawl, but everyone got gassed
at the end and ran out of things to do so that really hurts it. Faarooq would probably disagree with me,
though, since he suffered a punctured lung and a separated shoulder from this
match. Rating: **¾
comes out to do commentary for the WWF title match, giving the Kliq’s symbol
and using it to high five some fans that are doing it.
says he’s not scared of the darkness or the Undertaker because he’s the master
and ruler of the world.
Disqualification Match for the WWF Championship: The Undertaker pins Sid (Champion) with a
Tombstone to win the title at 21:23
but McMahon informs us that the participants agreed earlier in the day to make
that stipulation for this match. The
Undertaker is wearing the attire he wore the last time he won the title, with
his old school black outfit and grey gloves.
This is the last time that he would ever wear that attire as well. Ross puts over the Undertaker’s undefeated
streak on commentary, although the WWF wouldn’t use that to sell WrestleMania
until the next decade. Bret Hart comes
out to stop the beginning of the match and he runs down Michaels quasi-injury
and lost smile, says that he’s no longer a friend of the Undertaker after the
last Raw, and tells Sid that the WWF title belongs to him. Sid doesn’t take kindly to that and gives
Bret a powerbomb, which is a great spot, but that still doesn’t make him the
face in this title match. Like
WrestleMania XVIII, the crowd is completely out of it, having wasted its energy
on Austin-Bret and some of the Chicago street fight. There’s also very little investment by the
crowd because they can sense that the Undertaker will win, so they are just
waiting for that to happen. Both guys
don’t really help matters by slowly working through their offense and using a
bevy of rest holds. You just will not
hear a crowd as quiet for a WrestleMania main event as they are for this
one. After what feels like ten
lifetimes, Bret comes back out and smacks Sid in the back with a chair and then
later stun guns him into the Undertaker’s Tombstone to cost him the title. So after five years of fighting fat men and a
deranged opponent with one ear, the Undertaker has finally regained the WWF
title. For Sid, softball season soon
beckoned and this was his last WrestleMania appearance, which might’ve been for
the better as it saved the fans coma-inducing gems like this one. Without question the worst WrestleMania main
event of all time. Rating: ½*
of “worst” WrestleMania’s and saved from being THE worst by the Bret-Austin
submission match. The undercard
won’t put you to sleep, but most of its matches either leave you disappointed
(the tag title match) or wondering why they couldn’t have been better
(Helmsley-Goldust). For an In Your
House, this show might’ve garnered a neutral or even a thumbs up rating from
me, but with WrestleMania you expect a whole lot more. You should just watch Bret-Austin and look
for the Chicago street fight and then leave the rest of the show alone, unless
you are just compelled to watch the whole thing as part of a desire to see all
of the WrestleMania’s or watch them all prior to WrestleMania each year. In terms of buyrate, this is the worst WrestleMania,
so if you ordered the show back in 1997 you were among a small minority of
fans. As a point of comparison,
WrestleMania XIV more than tripled the buys that this show
received. This was the WWF hitting rock bottom after a poor 1995 and 1996, but sometimes you have
to go into the deepest valley to start moving back towards the top and the WWF
would use the momentum of the Bret-Austin feud to right the ship. Among my readers, I’m wondering whether you
think they should’ve booked Austin-Bret to go on last or whether it was
appropriate to end with Sid-Undertaker.
It’s something that I’ve always wondered about this show and I’d like to
hear your thoughts.
Any early predictions for Wrestlemania 29? People seem to be kicking around the idea of Brock vs. Undertaker. Perhaps a Rock-Cena rematch, but where is the suspense in that? Maybe they could unify the titles with Cena vs. Punk in an IronMan match? Rock vs. HHH promoted as "Icon vs. Icon"? Or do you stick a title on Lesnar and use him to put over Sheamus? Do you think we'll see Steve Austin in the ring this time around?
I'm pretty sure we're getting Lesnar-UT, Rock-Cena II and maybe Punk-Austin now that he's a whiny heel again. I do think that Brock-Sheamus is a cool dynamic that would probably be a hell of a match, but there's not really space in Brock's run for Sheamus The Giant Killer to kill that particular giant.
Hey Scott long time reader and owner of all your books. Just wondering if you plug my EBAY sell, the wife is making me shed my collection a little. Thanks if you can. Keep up the great writing.
End time: Jun 14, 2012 5:36:26 PM MST
WWF – WrestleMania X-Seven (DVD, 2001, 2-Disc Set)
If you’re wrestling history buff scour YouTube you can find original Wrestlemania downloads up. The super old school broadcast.
In hindsight it’s pretty rough as Lord Alfred Hayes looked really uncomfortable in his role as a…whatever the hell they used him for. I love how everyone called Gorilla Monsoon “Gino” as well since that was probably what they all called him off air.
If you’ve never seen the original, full-of-kinks broadcast it’s worth the two hours to see WWF in its mega-event infacy.
Now for the important stuff, it time for the Princess to prove that she runs the Castle.
As loving as my family is we’re equally competitive and somehow the heir to the throne has convinced himself that he can beat my time this year in one of the triathlons we are competing in. Silly youth.
And naturally Mr. Princess wants in as well (and will quickly get left as he can’t swim as well and swimming 9/10th of a mile in open water is very tough).
Anyway I wanted to do some different music for my training. I wanted to do about 90 minutes of WWF entrance music. I have a few that I want on there like “The Game” and “I Walk Alone” and “Metalingus” and of course the Ultimate Warrior theme. But otherwise I’m open and looking for suggestions. Help me!
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvcRxwOp_tQ Yay Joe Gagne reviews! In some ways WM2000 was better than No Mercy, like the speed of the game itself. Still, No Mercy remains the alpha and omega of the AKI series for me.
Long time fan, first time write-in.
Would McMahon be better off splitting WrestleMania into a two day event?
They'd have a vehicle to split all these big-time main events down the middle; they'd make twice the revenue in tickets and pay-per-view buys (offering a discount to anyone who bought both days); be able to feature the entire roster plus guest/returning stars without cramming twelve guys into a tag match; and fans would have a "moment" to catch their breath and energy between major bouts.
Fantasy booking WM 29, WWE could feature Daniel Bryan vs. Jericho for the World Heavyweight Championship and John Cena vs. the Undertaker on Night One, and CM Punk vs. Steve Austin and Rock vs. Brock for the WWE Championship on Night Two. The show just keeps growing and it seems unwieldy to cram everything into a single event.
accidentally deleted my earlier tweet. Rock and Brock each sign 1 year deals. WM28 did 1.9M buys. WWE was targeting 1.5M
— Gus Ramsey (@GusRamsey) April 3, 2012
I would be incredibly skeptical of that number. To say the least. Not to mention it generally takes at least a few weeks to get prelim numbers.
Still, if so, go Rock.
Edited to add: Dave made a quick comment on the WON board that Ramsey probably misheard 1.09 million, which would be a much more reasonable number.
Interesting e-mail here, so I thought I’d just present it as is and let everyone discuss. Scott,
Pack a lunch and hear me out…
The three-venue concept of ‘Wrestlemania II’ is typically regarded as a bad idea. While it may not have worked well in execution, I do not think the idea is bad on its own merit. In fact, I think one could argue that it would make a bit more sense in the current WWE Universe than it did in 1986. Since the WWE monopoly began in 2001 and the multi-brand presentation of the roster, the talent depth lends itself to putting on three shows, at least in theory. There could be benefits to revisiting this tri-venue presentation in terms of gate, roster morale, and the scale of the event.
For years, WWE has presented Wrestlemania in the epic football stadium venues and has drawn a massive house. Snap judgment says breaking from the stadium setting would cost the show gate money, as well as the scope and grandeur that signifies the modern era’s Wrestlemania brand. However, I believe the multi-venue approach could work today particularly because Wrestlemania sells as a brand first, not entirely because of the card. My point is that running a coordinated Wrestlemania in three separate cities could conceivably sell out multiple venues (even if they use normal arenas rather than stadiums) and draw a larger cumulative gate. The idea of running a ‘coast-to-coast’ Wrestlemania could allow the company to really promote the ‘WWE Universe’ transcendence they seek. In short, Vince can buy into his ‘spanning the globe’ mentality and find yet another unit of measure for his manhood.
Whereas Wrestlemania 2 featured only a few televised matches from each venue, the WWE would have to deliver a relatively full card at each city in order to justify the attendance. This is less of an issue today because the WWE controls such a deep roster. For example, the tag team champions are not even on this year’s card, the secondary titles are virtually defunct, and there are multiple workers not involved in the show. (Naturally, this would mean giving some exposure and direction to more talent, but that is another tangent). In terms of the end PPV product, half of each individual city’s card would be ‘dark matches’. Each city would receive a 7-8 match card, but only the 3-4 matches intended for the PPV would appear in the purchased PPV product. (Aside: the ‘dark’ matches could be included on the later DVD release as ‘bonus’ or ‘easter eggs’).
In essence, the three cards could be composed of the one high profile match, an upper card feud, and one or two undercard matches that would result in a 9-12 match PPV end product to which we are accustomed. Modern technology makes this far more feasible from a logistics standpoint as well. Coordinating the live broadcast across three venues into a seemless program would not present anywhere near the challenge it did 25 years ago. Also, the WWE has enough capable figureheads to disperse to each city (say, Stephanie, HHH, and Vince each in a city ‘producing’ the show).
Specifically, I think the three-venue concept could be an interesting fit for Wrestlemania 30. As a matter of tradition, it would make sense for the 30th anniversary show to be held at Madison Square Garden (as with numbers 1, 10, & 20). However, this would be a step back from the now-standard stadium-size gate and scale of Wrestlemania. The three-venue idea allows the show to ‘return where it all began’ (MSG) without compromising the ‘Wrestlemania feel’ of a larger-than-normal PPV. Have one-third on the west coast (L.A.?), one in the midwest (Chicago?) or Canada (for the multinational feel), and the concluding third at MSG (N.Y.). WWE already has multiple separate production crews for their various programming and ‘separate brands’, so they will not be spread-thin logistically.
The current roster structure allows for this: have a WWE/World Title match at Venue #1, the other World Title at Venue #2, and the annual ‘special attraction main event’ at Venue #3 (ala Rock-Cena, Taker-HHH, Rock-Hogan, etc). In fact, this year’s installment has exactly this sort of stature, with Rock-Cena, a pair of World title matches, and HHH-Undertaker all carrying ‘main event’ status on most cards.
Example televised ‘Wrestlemania’ Broadcast, sans ‘dark matches’:
Venue #1 (West Coast)
– WWE Championship
– Intercontinental Championship
– mid-card match
– mid-card match
Venue #2 (Midwest/Canada)
– World Championship
– United States Championship
– mid-card match
– mid-card match
Venue #3 (Madison Square Garden)
– ‘Main Event/Special Attraction’ (ala Rock-Cena)
– Tag Team Championship
– Divas Title
– mid-card match
In summary, you get more gate revenue (approx. 40k in attendance at each = 120k total); an expanded feel (Wrestlemania ‘Coast-to-Coast’); three individual main events in which the participants actually get to ‘main event’ their own venue (unlike a WWE Title match opening the show this year); a way to end Wrestlemania XXX at MSG without compromising gate or scale of the show; nation-wide appeal instead of focused single-city attention for the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’, ‘Axxess’, and all the local attention the show draws. As a bonus, you get essentially the whole roster involved on some level. Sure, the NXT guys, some random divas, and a handful of mid-carders might not actually air on the PPV presentation itself, but their ‘dark matches’ will be in front of a Wrestlemania crowd and included on later packages (WWE Network, DVD release, etc). You can let guys go out and make the ‘dark’ portion of the show special for the live crowd–if a match ends up being blow-away great and isn’t on the PPV, you can always air it on ‘Raw’ or on WWE Network to reward the workers. WWE could also do their celebrity appearances and concert bits as part of the ‘dark’ part of each venue, rather than another instance of Kid Rock (or token flavor of the week) taking up PPV time from the wrestlers. Everyone gets a Wrestlemania payday, every city gets a full card, but only the top guys air on the actual show.
I think the three-venue idea has merit financially, logistically, and for the simple ‘cool factor’. I especially think it is do-able for Wrestlemania XXX. Personally, I think the Wrestlemania 2 idea was fine in theory, it just did not work in practice 25 years ago. Whereas that show was closed-circuit and only the second attempt at a Wrestlemania ‘super show’, the Wrestlemania brand is a major event today, with pay-per-view, large venues, and mainstream media attention. I think the most significant impedements to Wrestlemania 2’s success are virtual non-factors in the modern market. Readers, feel free to expand upon, amend, or flat-out pan this idea as you see fit. Just throwing it out there….
Two quick questions about your rating of last night’s Hell In A Cell match between Undertaker and Triple H: (1.) Would that match have been ***** without Shawn Michaels as the special referee? and, (2.) If so, was HBK’s performance the most influential of any referee in history? No disrespect to Taker or HHH, but it seemed like HBK was nearly as important to the match as the two combatants because of the emotion he displayed.
Well last year there was no Shawn and it was ****1/2, but I don’t tend to rate matches based on the referreeing job anyway. So for question, I’d say yes. As for the second question, I’d say Earl Hebner probably will hold the record for a while yet.
The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania XXVIII Live from Miami, FL Your hosts are Michael Cole & Jerry Lawler Opening match, World title: Daniel Bryan v. Sheamus Well we knew that one of the World titles would be opening the show. Kind of a heel reaction for Sheamus for some reason. And then he hits Bryan with the Brogue Kick and pins him to win the title at 0:15. What the FUCK? The crowd is not terribly pleased about that. I was looking forward to seeing that match. Why even bother having it on the show? Unless they think that this was Bryan’s Honky Tonk Man moment where the heel finally gets his comeuppance, but people LIKE Bryan. Meanwhile, Team Johnny and their dorky t-shirts rally around Johnny Ace, in his Col Robert Parker suit. Kane v. Randy Orton Orton hammers away in the corner, but Kane EMBRACES THE HATE and fires back. Orton stomps him down and tries the draping DDT, but Kane drops him on the top rope and boots him down to take over. Seated dropkick gets two. Chinlock, but Orton slugs out until Kane boots him down for two. Sideslam gets two and Kane goes back to the chinlock. Orton with a neckbreaker for two and the crowd is dead silent. Can’t blame them. Delayed suplex gets two. And it’s ANOTHER chinlock. They couldn’t have made this one the 15 second win by the babyface? Orton flips out of the chinlock and gets the backbreaker, and the powerslam. Draping DDT (which Cole calls a bulldog, faceplant and DDT in succession) sets up the RKO, but Kane counters with a boot for two. Kane to the top, but Orton catches him with a dropkick coming down. Kane dodges the punt and chokeslams him for two. Kane gets upset and pounds away in the corner, but Orton dropkicks the knee and they fight to the top. Kane brings him down with a chokeslam and pins him at 11:00. Seriously? What is the point of Kane going over here? So that we’re gonna have to watch this shitty match AGAIN, but with stipulations? I mean, I’m no Randy Orton booster, but he’s been doing WAY too many jobs. This was slow and plodding and just never got going, and Randy didn’t even get to do the RKO so you KNOW they have to have a million rematches until he does. *1/2 And Kane has been on a rampage of sucky matches since his return. EMBRACE THE CRAP! Meanwhile, Santino and Mick Foley help plug the Deadliest Catch and eat crab. Shouldn’t Santino be getting ready for his match? Intercontinental title: Cody Rhodes v. Big Show Cody runs away to start and tries a dive, but Show catches him and tosses him back in. Show pounds away and gives him a stinkface in the corner, but Cody dropkicks the knee and elbows him down for two. Cody goes to work on the knee, but Show swats him down and makes the comeback. Cody goes up to escape and Show sends him to the floor, but Cody comes back in with the disaster kick. Another one is countered with a badly timed spear, and Show knocks him out and pins him at 5:18 to win the title. Another nothing match. ** Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos v. Beth Phoenix & Eve Kelly gets a rana on Eve for two, but a handspring elbow hits knee. Eve goes up and Kelly brings her down, giving us a double stinkface from the babyfaces. Maria’s makeup actually rubs off on Maria’s white pants, which prompts my wife to exclaim “What the hell is that on her ass?” and thus I have to stop and explain the mechanics of the stinkface to someone who doesn’t watch wrestling. That whole conversation is much more interesting than the match, as Maria plays celebrity-in-peril through a series of bearhugs by the heels, but Maria kicks Eve out of the ring to block the rumpshaking moonsault. Yeah, I can’t believe what I’m forced to type some days either. Kelly gets the hot tag and does her spinning headscissors on Beth, into a somersault senton for two. Huh. Beth comes back with the Glam Slam, but Kelly reverses it into a bulldog. Maria tags in again despite her injuries, and Beth collides with Eve and gets pinned at 6:50. Best match of the show thus far. Not really a compliment to the show, but whatever. **1/4 Hell In A Cell: Undertaker v. HHH Rather subdued entrance for COOHHH tonight, although the cell gets its own entrance music. Seriously. I’m surprised Undertaker’s new Mohawk didn’t get its own entrance, too. By the way, despite the pictures circulating before the show that made it look like a big black cage or something, it’s just the standard mesh cell. JR joins us for commentary, thank god. They throw hands in the corner and head to the floor, and HHH meets the stairs as Michael Cole brings up Jimmy Snuka as the first victim of the streak. Well, since he brought it up, how can I not mention that Snuka has a daughter named Tamina Snuka? They slug it out on the floor as the announcers keep talking about how it’s the END OF AN ERA, an era that we’ll never return to. What are they talking about? Anyway, back in the ring, Taker works the arm and goes old school. Back to the floor, and the stairs get pulled apart, leading to the guillotine on the apron by UT. HHH responds with a DDT and rams Undertaker into the stairs a few times, but can’t get a Pedigree on them, as Taker backdrops him off. HHH comes back with a spinebuster onto the stairs, and THAT had to hurt. He stupidly comes in blind, though, and Taker catches him in the gogoplata again. HHH quickly counters out with a slam for two. And now the chairs get involved, as HHH pummels him with one and runs him into the stairs. HHH lays in another beating with the chair, just destroying the back until even Shawn is offended. The crowd gets pretty uncomfortable as HHH just keeps pounding him with the chair, but of course Undertaker won’t quit. Finally HHH covers and gets two. More from the chair and Undertaker still won’t stay down, so HHH retrieves his trusty sledgehammer while he tells Shawn to stop the match or else. Undertaker won’t quit, so HHH levels him with the hammer for two. He goes to BASH UNDERTAKER’S SKULL IN, but Shawn finally grabs it from Hunter to save. Shawn is once again tempted to ring the bell, but Undertaker grabs him and puts him out with the gogoplata to prevent it. Well that’s one way. HHH breaks it up with the sledgehammer, but Undertaker kicks him in the nuts and locks in the gogoplata. HHH grabs the hammer like last year, but Taker chokes him out completely with Shawn Michaels also out cold. This brings Charles Robinson running out like a madman, because Shawn is ONE OF HIS PEOPLE now, and the chokeslam gets two. It’s ingrained into referees to run down whenever another striped shirt is in jeopardy. Taker takes out his problems on Robinson, chokeslamming him, but Shawn superkicks Undertaker, and KICK WHAM PEDIGREE gets two. THE SECRET PLAN! What an awesome near fall. The crowd agrees and chants about how awesome it is. HHH gets rid of Shawn again, but Undertaker sits up and he’s FUCKING PISSED. He beats the shit out of HHH and hits Snake Eyes and the big boot and legdrop, but the tombstone only gets two. Also an awesome near-fall. Shawn is nearly rocking in the corner like an emotional wreck. You have to love that. They slug it out from the mat and just keep firing away, but HHH gets another Pedigree for two. Undertaker recovers first while HHH crawls for the hammer, but Undertaker gets the chair. And steps on the hammer. Uh oh. HHH gets MAULED by the chair until Shawn finally steps in as the voice of reason, but Undertaker gives HHH one more shot and gets two. Well the chair was broken anyway. HHH gets the hammer again but he’s not really in much condition to use it, and now Undertaker is the one telling him to stay down. HHH takes one last swing, and Undertaker shrugs him off and takes the hammer like it’s a toy. HHH crotch chops him in response, so Undertaker lays him out with the hammer, pulls him up, and the tombstone finishes at 30:45. And there’s your second ***** match for the weekend. Just an amazing performance from both, as they just beat the shit out of each other and let it all hang out. I literally don’t think they could have produced a more perfect match given the guys involved, unless there had been blood or something. Shawn and Undertaker mend their fences afterwards, and everyone goes out together, because they’re real men who settled their differences like men, and now they respect each other again. That is what wrestling is supposed to be. Just fantastic. The Hall of Fame group is introduced, and yeah, Ric Flair is there. Edge with short hair is just wrong. Meanwhile, Heath Slater bugs Flo Rida and gets beat up as a result. Team Johnny (The Miz, Mark Henry, Drew McIntyre, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, David Otunga) v. Team Teddy (Kofi Kingston, The Great Khali, R-Truth, Zack Ryder, Booker T, Santino) As feared, everyone is wearing t-shirts and they don’t even get separate entrances, as each side uses the theme song of the GM. It just makes everyone look like such nerds. Kofi with a crossbody on Dolph for two, and Truth comes in for the double-team for two. Drew is in and he gets dominated by the faces and chopped down by Khali. Booker chops him in the corner and gets a sideslam for two, and he goes after the heels on the apron and gets laid out as a result. Swagger (who has new, non-American themed tights) comes in with a chinlock, and clotheslines Booker for two. Over to Henry, who pounds Booker down as the crowd is DEAD. Miz continues the beating to dead silence and Dolph drops an elbow for two. Miz comes in with his own chinlock as it just gets deader and deader and the crowd is literally silent. Finally Khali comes in with the big chop and they start randomly doing the wacky finisher spots, leading up to the babyfaces doing a triple dive onto the heels. The chicks get into a random catfight and we’ve got Santino and Miz left in the ring. Flying headbutt sets up the Cobra for two. Over to Zack and Dolph takes a crazy bump off a monkey flip. And of course Eve comes in and screws him over, allowing Miz to hit the stroke at 10:44 to give Johnny Ace both shows. Really, eleven minutes for that finish? Ryder’s getting pinned by Miz now, he might as well hang up his tights. And Eve turns on him formally afterwards and kicks him in the junk, as I guess we’re supposed to be shocked that heel Eve would do something bad to Zack. What a boring load of shit this whole thing was. You’d think it would be a bunch of comedy spots or crazy brawling or something, but no, just a super-dull tag match with the heat on Booker the whole time. DUD So yeah, to recap, Zack gets no revenge, gets pinned by Miz to lose the match, and Eve kicks him in the nuts to dump him. Great night for him. Meanwhile, Big Johnny waives the DQ rule in the WWE title match, just to mess with CM Punk. WWE title: CM Punk v. Chris Jericho They’ve certainly got a lot of time to save this show. They take it to the mat to start and Punk hits him with crossfaces and stomps him in the corner. They’re basically wearing matching outfits tonight, which is either a fashion faux pas or Jericho trying to play mindgames. Punk keeps pounding him in the corner and flirting with a DQ, so Jericho eggs him on with a comment about his dad and Punk pounds him with elbows. To the top, but Jericho rolls out to escape, so Punk hits him with a flying clothesline to the floor instead. Jericho: “How’s your SISTER?” So Punk grabs a chair and Jericho flings insults, hoping for the DQ, but Punk just spinkicks him instead, and Jericho regroups with a dropkick to take over. They head to the apron and Jericho clotheslines him back into the ring and then suplexes him to the floor. Now there’s a spot you don’t see often, for good reason. Back in, Jericho gets two. Backbreaker gets two. We hit the chinlock, and another backbreaker gets two. Senton gets two. Punk fights back and goes up, but Jericho yanks him down hard on the back of his head and gets two. Jericho goes to the surfboard and Punk escapes with the mule kick. This thing just isn’t clicking at all and the crowd, as usual tonight, is dead silent. Punk comes back with the leg lariat and neckbreaker for two. Jericho blocks the bulldog and tries the Lionsault, but Punk gets the knees up, so Jericho goes for the Walls, and Punk escapes that. High kick gets two. Punk goes up with the flying elbow, but he takes forever and Jericho gets his knees up and then hits the Codebreaker. Punk flies out of the ring on the sell, but he waits for Jericho to throw him back in and then hits a GTS out of nowhere. That gets two. Punk comes back with a powerslam for two. They trade back elbows and Jericho suplexes Punk onto the top rope and hits the Lionsault for two. “Not often you see someone kick out of the Lionsault” notes Cole. Except for every opponent of Chris Jericho, ever. They head up and Punk tries a rana, but Jericho hangs on and gets the Walls off that. Cool spot there. Punk quickly makes the ropes, and dumps a charging Jericho. This leads to Punk hitting a high knee that rams Jericho’s head into the post, and they head back in…where Punk springboards right into a Codebreaker. That gets two. Jericho stops to talk some trash and Punk tries the GTS, but Jericho elbows out and goes to the top, so Punk brings him down with a GTS…that Jericho counters into the Walls. Or rather, the Liontamer, but Punk fights out and cradles for two. Jericho reverses for two, so Punk turns THAT into the Anaconda Vice. Jericho rolls him over for two, but Punk hangs on until Jericho knees him in the head repeatedly to break. Back to the Walls, but Punk kicks him in the face and hooks the Vice again, moves out of the way of the knees, and Jericho taps at 22:18. Man, they took their sweet time getting into gear, but it ended up a near-classic with crazy drama and submission reversals. Unfortunately that beginning just dragged it down too far to fully recover from. ***1/2 Brodus Clay comes out and calls his mama. This leads to a big group dance number with dancers dressed as Brodus Clay’s mama. And this leads to nothing, as I guess they had too much time to use up and just needed the stupidest fucking thing possible. John Cena v. The Rock And after all those weeks of trying for the 50/50 reaction, John Cena gets booed out of the building. Team Edward and Team Jacob indeed. Although Twilight is so 2 years ago; kids killing each other in dystopian arenas is what all the pre-teens are into these days. Even with MGK doing his pre-entrance musical interlude. My god, who would boo Machine Gun Kelly? No friend of mine, that’s who. The Rock is looking JACKED tonight. Cena wins the epic lockup battle to start, but Rock wins the second try. Rock with the headlock and armdrags, into the majastral cradle for two. No ring rust there. Cena gets his own headlock, but Rock slugs him down and tries the Sharpshooter, so Cena bails. Back in, Cena hits a shoulderblock in the corner and lays Rock out with a clothesline, but it only gets one. Rock slugs away, but Cena dumps him and sends him into the table. Back in, Cena gets two and starts to wrestle quite heelish, stomping the ribs to set up a belly to belly suplex for two. Cena with the bearhug, but Rock slugs out of it and gets the DDT for two. Cena pounds the ribs in the corner, but Rock comes back with a clothesline and spinebuster…but Cena breaks up the People’s Elbow with an STF attempt. Rock escapes, so Cena gets the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM, with a smile on his face during the Five Knuckle Shuffle. FU is escaped and they clothesline each other, but Rock is up first and it’s the slugfest. Rock stops to talk the trash, and Cena hits the FU for two. Rock pops up with Rock Bottom for two. Rock lays the smackdown in the corner, but Cena gets a sideslam for two. He goes up and gets the guillotine for two, as Rock took forever getting into position. Another FU is blocked, and Rock takes him down with the Scorpion King Deathlock, and he still can’t do it properly. Cena makes the ropes regardless, so Rock pulls him back and applies it again, and Cena gets the ropes again and bails to the apron. They brawl on the floor and Cena meets the stairs. Back in, Cena suddenly gets the STF and pulls Rock into the center to thunderous boos. Rock is the most awesome actor in the world because he actually makes it look like the move is painful and causing him to block out. That’s Oscar-caliber right there. And we go OLD SCHOOL, as the ref checks the arm, but Rock is up on the third drop. And he makes the ropes. Cena charges and walks into a samoan drop, and it’s the double KO spot. Rock is up first and slugs away, but Cena fires back into the ribs…and it’s SPINEBUSTER AND PEOPLE’S ELBOW. For two. Cena with a small package for two. The crowd goes crazy with duelling chants and Cena catapults Rock into the corner for two. Cena puts him on the top, but Rock sends him down again and goes AERIAL with the high cross, but Cena rolls through with the FU for two. Cena’s at a loss now and does a People’s Elbow for the hell of it, and ROCK BOTTOM finishes his ass at 30:38. Thank god they changed the finish. ****1/2 Rock was a bit gassed, but he just went 30 minutes after being retired for years, can you blame him? Other than that, tremendously epic stuff that delivered exactly what was promised. The Pulse I’m pretty sure 90% of the people buying this show were doing it for Rock/Cena and HHH/Undertaker, and both matches delivered tremendously, so that’s a thumbs up show from me. I just wish that something else had turned into a show-stealing classic to really elevate this thing to the upper tier of Wrestlemanias, but sadly nothing did and in fact a couple were really horrible from a quality and booking standpoint. Still, HHH v. Undertaker is well worth your $65 and I left happy that I bought the show.
And my final piece for this Wrestlemania season. The Princess Rant on The True Story of Wrestlemania (Sort of) For those interested the matches included in this set are:
Wrestlemania: Hogan & Mr. T vs. Piper & Orndorff Wrestlemania III: Savage vs. Steamboat Wrestlemania III: Hogan vs. Andre Wrestlemania VII: Savage vs. Warrior Wresltemania X: Ladder Match: Razor vs. HBK Wrestlemania XIV: HBK vs. Austin Wrestlemania 2000: Tag Team Triangle Ladder Match Wrestlemania X-Seven: Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon
Wrestlemania X-8: The Rock vs. Hogan Wrestlemania XIX: Angle vs. Brock Wrestlemania 22: Cena vs. Triple H Every match includes the full lead-ins so pre-match interviews, ring introductions, Liberace dancing, you name it. We see a nice highlight montage of Wrestlemania moments from the beginning to the end. Edge, Triple H, Rey Mysterio, Steve Austin and Hulk Hogan all talk about the electricity and the legend of Wrestlemania. Vince talks about it being the biggest night of the year in the business.
Gene Okerlund said Wrestlemania took the sport that used to be in the national guard armories and turned it on its ear.
Wow Stu Saks got some speaking time on this one. I wasn’t sure if he was a real guy.
We go into a few clips and words about Vince building the organization from being a territorial base to a national one. Hulk Hogan said that Wrestlemania was something he didn’t understand and it was a little concerning because he was afraid it would ruin his territorial career.
Howard Finkel and Okerlund talk about how cable television helped the WWF reach out to celebrities and help the organization become a part of pop culture. They go into the Rock & Wrestling connection and the relationship the WWF had with MTV including the “War to Settle the Score”, which was the lead-in to Wrestlemania. Okerlund interviewing Andy Warhol about a wrestling card is one of those things that you wouldn’t believe unless you saw it.
Vince said the Wrestlemania idea sort of came from brainstorming during a vacation. Okerlund and Finkel add in their thoughts and said that the event was going to be a hybrid or wrestling and entertainment. Finkel takes credit for the name ‘Wrestlemania’ as he took it from ‘Beatlemania’, when The Beatles came to America. Hogan said Vince completely stacked the deck with celebrities for the first show with Liberace, Muhammad Ali, Billy Martin, The Rockettes, Cyndi Lauper, etc.
Saks said that the general consensus from the rest of the wrestling world was that they hoped it would fail because the company will go under. Gerry Brisco confirms that pretty much all the company’s funds were invested in this card. Vince says it was a huge gamble to do it with closed-circuit TV and they secured over 200 venues nationally and each had their own marketing and ticketing plans.
Hogan said Vince Sr. would have rolled over in his grave if he knew what his son was up to. Once he saw how it went down and what it accomplished, however, he would have been proud.
Highlights of the first Wrestlemania. I’ve mistakenly called this a super beefed-up house show in the past, but it wasn’t, it was a hell of an event.
Lawler said while wrestling purists might have turned their nose at the event anytime a wrestler could be put on the same level of a movie star it’s a good thing.
Vince said the numbers along the east coast were great and there were lot of parties that night. Had it not been successful he wouldn’t be doing this DVD right now. Claims over a million people watched this on closed-circuit. Vince said the success of the first Wrestlemania gave him the belief that anything was possible. Finkel said he knew this wasn’t going to be a one time thing.
We move to Wrestlemania 2 and Okerlund and Dick Ebersol both said the plan of having it at three locations wasn’t desirable. Ebersol says it was going to be tough to pull off without Vince at each sight.
(I want to note there is a lot of Ted Arcidi in the early footage. Some of him was lifting weights, some of him training Hulk Hogan. Just wanted to point that out.)
Basil DeVito, WWE’s senior advisor of business strategies, explains that each venue had a one-hour show and watched the other two hours on large screens.
(Is there a “full” version of Wrestlemania 2 that exists? Like full with interviews and full matches and everything? Because the only version I’ve ever seen is the Coliseum video and it’s awfully hacked)
William Perry talks about his experience and they show footage of his interview with Gene Okerlund and Okerlund cracking up the minute they cut the camera.
Chris Jericho says he watched his first Wrestlemania, which was Wrestlemania 2, on closed circuit in Winnipeg. The main concerns about closed circuit were if a satellite feed was lost. It happened around Pittsburgh and for that reason they showed the full card on Tuesday for free on an independent TV station. Devito said it was the first and last time. Ebersol said the whole production and execution were not up to Vince’s standards.
Onto Wrestlemania III and Vince’s big idea to break all attendance records. He wanted the biggest venue and the biggest crowd. He chose the Silverdome to make this happen and when approached DeVito admitted he was scared to death. To demand that sort of attendance you couldn’t just do it with celebrities along. There had to be a major attraction. Enter Andre vs. Hogan. DeVito said the celebrities were put off to the side a little because the match was going to be the selling point. DeVito says on camera that the week before the card they sold out 93,173 tickets so screw you Meltzer! DeVito was worried about the fan experience because 93,173 tickets are nice but if they can’t see anything what the fuck? So they put up massive projection screens to make sure that even the bad seats were good seats.
Brisco and Finkel talked about how much fun the fans were having before the ticket booths open with all the tailgating and things that were normally reserved for football games.
And for my favorite part of this documentary as Vince gets legitimately emotional (I think, never know with that guy) talking about his dad and feeling his dad’s presence as he walked to the ring to kick off the start of Wrestlemania III (with Aretha Franklin singing “America the Beautiful” in the background). It’s a feeling that he’ll never forget and still thinks about today. (Personally I’ve always thought there was way too much time spent on trying to confirm a 93,173 number and not enough time spent on celebrating the accomplishment that was. That’s why this part is my favorite, not just Vince getting emotional, but the fact that the focus was where it should have been – Wrestlemania III was a landmark day for this business.) Cena says Hogan vs. Andre was the biggest match ever. Okerlund said the match had to happen and this was, in many ways, Andre’s swan song. Vince said Andre wanted everyone to watch the match and see what he was about to do. And Hogan was naturally scared, at least according to him. Vince’s evil smile when he talks about Hogan’s fears is pretty funny. Everyone talks about the match as the highlights run. They still treat the bodyslam like it was some exclusive moment but we all know Hogan slammed him in every match they had from like 1979 to 1981.
Vince said Andre was so proud of what he had done. Triple H said it was Hogan’s moments but it was just as much Andre’s moment. Brisco said Andre had officially passed the torch. Of course they fought 3 or 4 more times after that but whatever.
Jericho and Saks said the Steamboat-Savage match stole the show. Jericho said he watched the match so much he memorized it and used to simulate it with his friend. Rey Mysterio and finally the man himself, Ricky Steamboat, add their thoughts. Steamboat says the pop of 93,000 people was amazing. Jericho said that match was the watermark in terms of what he thought a wrestling match should be. Brisco said it’s proof that a match didn’t need to be the main event to steal the show and the fact that the match is still widely regarded 25 years later shows how greatness can stand the test of time.
They jump to Wrestlemania 23 just to spotlight their return to Detroit. This time they had 80,000+ at Ford Field and Aretha Franklin sang again.
Donald Trump talks about Vince approaching him with Hair vs. Hair match. Vince talks about his friendship with Trump. Trump says Vince’s level of detail is amazing and he’s not only a great promoter but a great businessman. Vince says that the real Trump is a very nice, humble man. Clips of Vince getting his hair cut is tremendous. Vince can be so entertaining he wants. Trump says Wrestlemania 23 had the highest buyrates and he reminds Vince of it often.
Now we jump back to Wrestlemania IV and V to talk about the early years of the Vince-Trump relationship. Trump says he had a ton of Mike Tyson fights in Atlantic City and thought Wrestlemania was as good, if not a little better, and he wanted a piece of the action at his casino. DeVito wasn’t sure if the casino crowd was a good fit so Trump suggested making a weekend event out of it. And that was how Wrestlemania’s fan fest and now called Fan Axxess began.
And onto the nuts and bolts of Wrestlemania IV – the tournament – and it’s just as boring hearing them talk about it today. The narrator says Wrestlemania IV was more of a financial success than Wrestlemania III and of course they doubled up and did Wrestlemania V there.
Time to move on and move out of the states. WWE/F always had a great presence in Canada and especially Toronto. With a fairly new, beautiful domed stadium in Toronto they had a natural fit.
Edge talks about attending Wrestlemania VI and the atmosphere surrounding Hogan-Warrior and the split crowd. Pat Patterson said Warrior cried like a baby after the match and was so humble.
Skip to Wrestlemania X-8 where Hogan stole the show again, this time with The Rock. Jericho and Triple H argued that Hogan-Rock should have been the Main Event and they didn’t want to go on last. Jericho said 26 (now 27) matches have went on last but some weren’t the Main Event. They talk about Hogan a little bit and Vince says that Hogan is the iconic figure of Wrestlemania. Triple H said Vince is the mastermind but Hogan was the figurehead. Jericho said Hogan built Wrestlemania and if not for him it wouldn’t exist now. Okerlund agrees and simply says Hogan was box office. Hogan, of course, pats himself on the back and talks about how awesome he is. But he also says that Wrestlemania is the foundation of his career. Saks says Hogan, Wrestlemania and McMahon wouldn’t exist or have the success they have had without each other.
Sgt. Slaughter relays a story that he told Vince how great Wrestlemania VI was and Vince talked about needed a new villain to headline Wrestlemania VII and Hogan didn’t want to work with no one else. They go into the Slaughter character of being an Iraqi sympathizer and it was heavy stuff. Slaughter explains all the death threats that were received and it was serious stuff as Vince had to get security to Slaughter’s house for his wife’s protection.
They talk about wanting to hold the card at the Los Angeles Coliseum and they looked at the security the NFL had for Super Bowl XXV because of the Gulf War. DeVito admits they had sold about 17,000 tickets at the time and with security being a huge concern (and expense) they made the quick decision to move to the L.A. Sports Arena. Kerwin Siflies said it was the right move, especially because it was a cold, rainy night in L.A.
On to Wrestlemania VIII and the hopes of the dream match between Ric Flair and Hulk Hogan and the big switcheroo. Saks wonders how they didn’t make that match. Brisco explains that the Hogan-Flair matches in the house shows didn’t have a good run and Ric Flair wasn’t accepted into the WWF/E like they expected. Okerlund says he would have still loved to see it. Okerlund says the components were there for greatness but things didn’t come together and it was a so-so-Wrestlemania (I totally disagree but whatever).
And Wrestlemania IX and turning some plain bleachers at Ceasar’s Palace into a Roman Coliseum (to this date it’s the best set they’ve ever done in my opinion, with the Orlando set for Wrestlemania XXIV being a super close second). They documented much of the progress of this event which allows us to see cool footage of Vince explaining to Shawn Michaels how the sound travels in an outdoor facility and Vince working with Lex Luger on his ring entrance. Yokozuna walking with his kid, Hulk Hogan and the Giant Gonzalez hanging out, Bret Hart asking where the girls were, and a whiteboard of the match card being displayed. All incredibly cool backstage stuff. Silfies talks about how much fun the show was. They acknowledge the double title switch at Wrestlemania IX and how it could have been political but the surprise factor outweighed everything.
Wrestlemania X at MSG and they talk about how MSG was the perfect venue to celebrate the 10th anniversary because it’s where it all started. Vince says Madison Square Garden says it all and it’s a special place for the WWE. It was only natural to go there for Wrestlemania XX and let’s completely ignore that Benoit stuff because it didn’t happen. Instead they focus on Cena’s first Wrestlemania and winning the U.S. Title and The Rock returning to Wrestlemania. Saks says Wrestlemania at MSG is a perfect fit because it’s the media capital. Although I don’t see Wrestlemania XXX being held there, I hope it is. Chris Jericho agrees on camera and says every 10th Wrestlemania should be held at the Garden.
Finkel talks about the expansion of the fan fest and how it started at Wrestlemania 10 and how they have tried to make it the ultimate fan experience. Triple H says Wrestlemania is now a week-long fan experience much like the Super Bowl and it makes sense because Wrestlemania is the Super Bowl of the industry. It gives the superstars a chance to meet the fans, extend the brand, do a ton of charity events and give the whole event for of a vacation feel.
Jericho talks about Hall of Fame adding even more to the overall experience. Finkel says having the Hall of Fame during the Wrestlemania weekend is very prestigious. It’s another great thing for the fans and the legends that have a chance to talk about their experiences in the industry. Silfies explains that it has become the most memorable experience of the weekend.
Moving on to Lawrence Taylor stepping in the ring. And I have to admit LT really earned his half million dollars because he didn’t suck in the ring and he was EVERYWHERE for the promotional stuff. Vince gives credit to the late Bam Bam for helping make that match what it was and taking advantage of the opportunity to headline the card. Saks says that Taylor took it seriously and his efforts were a big reason why they pulled it off.
Wrestlemania XII and the Iron Man match. Patterson says that Hart and Michaels were the only two guys in this era that could go 60 minutes and he was happy that they pulled off the match he expected.
Wrestlemania 13 and the WWF/E was reeling as WCW was dominating the ratings. The organization needed a major spark of energy. Enter “Stone Cold” Steve Austin. Brisco says the Hart-Austin match was completely different than anything they had done before at Wrestlemania. It was a perfect mixture of hardcore and old school and the new generation. Edge said that the match with Hart started the Austin phenomenon and the image of Austin fighting out of the sharpshooter with the blood streaming from his face was the start of the new era. Austin led Wrestlemania and the WWF/E into a new place. Triple H said Stone Cold helped Wrestlemania get a second life. He became was Hogan was in the beginning as the face of Wrestlemania. Lawler says that Austin surpassed what Hogan was at Wrestlemania (Hmmm I don’t know about that one). Jericho said Austin rescued Wrestlemania (I agree with that) and Saks adds that Mike Tyson was a huge part of that. DeVito says the investment is Tyson was enormous (I’ve heard close to $2 million). Devito thought Tyson was a bad idea and it was too much money but Vince explained simply “how can we explain this business to grow if more people don’t see it and [Tyson] was a way for more people to it.”
(And Vince was right, Tyson boosted TV ratings and much like LT, Tyson was everywhere and willing to do everything to help promotion.)
Vince said the publicity was great for the brand and if it accomplished nothing else that was a success. Jericho said Tyson’s appearance alone created a buzz even though he was going to be in a non-physical role. Saks said Tyson’s aura of invincibility wasn’t quite broken yet so he drew a ton of attention. HHH agrees with that sentiment and he was still one of the more recognizable guys in sports. Watching Tyson do crop chops (horribly) is still hilarious.
Jericho said the Austin-Michaels match was the kick start the WWE needed (and the beginning of the end for WCW). Saks said it changed the direction of the promotion.
The talking heads talk about celebrities a bit. Jesse Ventura even chimes in and says it’s like going to a Los Angeles Lakers game and it gives the fans a feeling like they are at a major event that only a few people can get into. And we get some clips of the various celebrities and their involvement. Mike Tyson attempts to speak English with limited success. Lawler talks about Pete Rose’s involvement and his reoccurring appearances. They agree that celebrities will always be a part of Wrestlemania because that’s how things got started. And we get into the first encounter of the Rock-Austin and then the tag team ladder matches at Wrestlemania 2000 and Wrestlemania X-Seven. Edge admits that they raised the bar too high and just says that everyone wants the steal the show at Wrestlemania because people never forget it.
By 2001 the WWE bought out WCW and had taken in many assets from ECW as well. Edge said him spearing Jeff Hardy from a ladder was the snapshot of his career. They actually acknowledge the HHH-Undertaker match at Wrestlemania X-Seven. They talk about Wrestlemania XIX in Seattle and Austin said that the OMR on his jacket stood for “One More Round” and if he got through that match he was done. And he was. They add in some great footage of Austin limping out of the arena with his in-ring career now behind him.
Jericho talks about his match with HBK and Jericho says it’s the one night where you can him a timeless match. He says you can have the greatest match at a house show and it’s great for those thousand people. You can have the greatest match at RAW and it lasts a little longer, but Wrestlemania is where the classics happen.
HBK talks about Wrestlemania and it’s everything good about life and the business. It is very much known as his show and he credits the guys he’s been in the ring with to help him. He spotlights the ladder match and the iron man match as the two that are the most special to him. Jericho says Michaels’ ideas and the chances he takes are part of his genetic code and he was born to be the star of Wrestlemania. Triple H says you put an HBK match at any spot on the Wrestlemania card and he will steal the show. Cena says his match with Michaels at Wrestlemania 23 was a special moment. Randy Orton says HBK is the “match of the year” man and most times that match is at Wrestlemania.
They talk about Wrestlemania’s rotation of New York, L.A. and Chicago but the day after Wrestlemania in the Staples Center Vince said he wanted to go to stadiums after their Wrestlemania XXII run in Chicago. Big Show, Jericho, Ted DiBiase Sr., Edge and Sheamus all agree that Wrestlemania should be on the biggest stage possible. Cena, however, disagrees and likes the smaller venues and says the crowd in Chicago for Wrestlemania XXII seemed 10x louder than the following year in Detroit at Ford Field. HHH says it’s a challenge for performers to understand how sound travels and guys couldn’t feed off the crowd energy the same. Edge agrees and said it affected his psyche at Wrestlemania X-Seven. Jericho says whatever problems the performers have are outweighed by the fact that 70,000 people are coming to a wrestling event and it’s about them and their desires.
They flip back to Wrestlemania 21 and the Hollywood stuff. Jericho says he and Brian Gerwitz created the Money in the Bank ladder match and it worked out because it allowed more guys on the show. Jericho says everyone deserves to be on the show and they do everything possible from Battle Royales to 12-man tag matches to get everyone on the card.
Jericho talks about his Wrestlemania moment – him closing the show with Triple H. Orton says his moment was Wrestlemania XX because that’s where his father helped start things 20 years before at Madison Square Garden. Edge mentions Wrestlemania 2000 and winning the titles with his great friend Christian.
And they talk about Cena and they put him in the same room with Hogan and Austin in terms of being a crucial part of Wrestlemania.
Vince talks about his choice of using America the Beautiful over the National Anthem because he thinks it’s a more beautiful song (I agree).
And they get into the music. Motorhead, P.O.D, Saliva, etc. etc. (I’m wearing down guys). We get into Wrestlemania XXIV and how it was moved from the uber small Amway Arena to the Florida Citrus Bowl. Vince didn’t know how they could go from an 80K venue in Detroit to a 14K venue in Orlando. Good point. Problem with the stadium is that it’s a dump (it still is, a total POS facility). Jericho agreed. Silfies said that Jason Robinson and his crew put MILLIONS into building sets and decorating the place. (I remember seeing in that Wednesday and I was flabbergasted, it was so cool). Robinson admits that might have lost money but the value they brought to the city is worth 10x the box office.
They go into the Floyd Mayweather-Big Show match. Moving on (I stop to see Bert Sugar’s commentary here and I pause to say Rest in Peace to the boxing historian).
25th Anniversary and Edge says he struggled following Shawn-Undertaker because the fans were burned out. Jericho says the best match of all time in Shawn-Undertaker I and 75% of that was the match and 25% was because it was at Wrestlemania. Jericho says the buildup was worthy of the match because one guy always steals the show and the other guy never loses. Orton said Wrestlemania and Undertaker goes hand in hand. Edge says everyone has a part at Wrestlemania and being the main event has changed because there are 4 or 5 great matches but Undertaker’s streak will always dominate the conversation. Jericho says he doesn’t believe Undertaker wants to end his career without losing. Vince says he doesn’t if the streak will ever be broken.
Wrestlemania XXVI saw the event crack the 1 million mark in total live fans. They talk about the impact the event makes on local communities. Vince said he doesn’t look back and after Wrestlemania happens he just wants to focus on the next one. Dick Ebersol says it’s the rare event that has been created in the last 30 years that sticks. Everyone gives their final thoughts.
Bottom Line: It’s basically a 2-hour marketing piece for advertisers but you know, fuck it, I love Wrestlemania. I LOVE WRESTLEMANIA. And if anything deserves two hours of blow job treatment it’s Wrestlemania. It’s the reason many of us are fans. There’s nothing wrong or markish about loving Wrestlemania and looking forward to Wrestlemania every year. It’s a beautiful thing and after 28 years these guys deserve to pat each other on the back because they continue to try to make it better each year and give us a reason to invest.
With the scheduled performances this year, there has probably been enough musical performances at Wrestlemania to fill out an entire concert, even leaving out the “America the Beautiful” singing. Does anything stand out for you as the Savage/Steamboat (or perhaps more appropriately, the Taylor/Bigelow) of music? I’m guessing either Motorhead at X-Seven or Limp Bizkit at XIX.
Oh dude, don’t even give them any more stupid DVD ideas.
That being said, I’d have to go with the D-X house band at Wrestlemania XIV as far as memorable performances go. They were terrible, but it was so clearly the start of a new era for the promotion and fit perfectly with the impending takeover of the show by D-X.