Suprisingly, they actually made space for an entrance ramp instead of the usual short walkway to the ring in Madison Square Garden, which makes it look bigger than past Pay Per Views held there. All three announce teams are tabled at ringside.
Show kicked off with the Boys Choir of Harlem singing America The Beautiful as clips of WWE superstars visiting the US troops in Iraq was played. And ended with a wide screen shot of New York with all its landmarks and the hologram of the World Trade Centre.
Que a great opening clip recapping the history of Wrestle Mania as well as clips and sound bites from the participants of the main bouts on tonight’s card.
John Cena VS The Big Show – WWE US Title
Cena riles up the crowd with his pre-match rap and calls show a big ape. Cena has a cast on his right hand cleverly hidden as a wrist band. This was a basic David VS Goliath type match. Show continues to have good matches, using a modified Final Cut with a leg drop and going old-school clamping on a cobra clutch! Cena make the comeback and nails the FU on Show but only gets 2! Cena goes to use the chain, but tosses it away when the referee warns him not to use it. But as the referee goes to get the chain out of the ring, Cena than uses his knuckle ring to blast Show and nail a second FU to win the US Title! Good match! And did you ever think you’d hear anyone say Big Show was putting on a wrestling clinic?!? Match Rating: **3/4
Jonathan Coachman meets up with Eric Bischoff in his office and Bisch asks him to go look for the Undertaker to out-scoop Smack Down and confirm he’s there.
Randy Orton, accompanied by Batista and Ric Flair, cut a promo on his history with Mick Foley. He claims tonight it all begins again as he stakes his claim as the true hardcore legend.
La Resistance VS Jindrak & Cade VS The Dudley Boys VS RVD & Booker T – World Tag Team Title Sudden Death Fatal Four Way
The tag champs retain when RVD nailed the 5-Star Frogsplash on Conway after Booker hit the scissors kick. Jindrak and Cade barely had any ring time (I don’t think they were even tagged in) as the match went by rather quickly. Match Rating: **
Backstage, Coach thinks he’s found the Undertaker, but turns out to be Mean Gene and Bobby Heenan making out with Moolah and Mae Young! I actually didn’t recognize Heenan due to all the weight he’s lost.
Christian VS Chris Jericho
Good back and forth match, the main story being that Jericho is better and constanly out-wrestles Christian. Christian used a cool looking modified Texas clover-leaf submission hold, but couldn’t hold it for long. Y2J applied the Walls of Jericho out on the floor before bringing Christian back in the ring with a super double-arm suplex. Trish Stratus than runs down to ring side. She gets in Christian’s face and gets knocked down. Y2J goes to check on Trish, but gets back-elbowed by her as she didn’t know it was her, and Christian rolls him up for the 3-count. Post match, Trish tries to appologise to Y2J, and Christian comes back into the ring. Trish than slaps Y2J twice and Christian nails the Unprettier! Christian and Trish celebrate and Y2J gets up just in time to catch Trish nailing a lip-lock on Christian! Despite the ending, this was still one of the best bouts of the night. The Trish heel turn really seemed to surprise the crowd. Match Rating: ***1/2
Lilian tries to conduct a serious interview with Mick Foley, but gets interrupted by the Rock asking him to loosen up ‘cause it’s WRESTLEMANIA! He points out Hamburglar & Grimace (Hurricane & Rosey, Helms tried to hide a burger!) and then Superfly Jimmy Snuka and THE ROCK, Don Muraco! And even went into to audience to get Foley into the WrestleMania spirit. They than get out to business.
Randy Orton, Batista & Ric Flair VS Mick Foley & The Rock
Match starts as a wild brawl before the ring is cleared and Rock squares off with Flair. Good exchange before the match goes back out to the floor where Rock backdropped Flair on the floor and Foley nails the Cactus elbow off the apron on Flair!!! Back in the ring, Orton and Foley tag in and Orton doesn’t back down from Foley! He gets his ass kicked and hung in the tree of woe before Rock tags in and gives him a low blow. Evolution than take control on Rocky and the fans still love Flair and seem to boo Rock when the two hook up! Foley gets tagged in but gets overpowered by Batista. After some beat down, Rock gets tagged back in and cleans house till he gets spinbustered by Batista. Flair than tries a People’s Elbow! Rock counteres and Spinebusters Flair before nailin his People’s Elbow, but Flair kicks out! Rock than counters the RKO to a Rock Bottom! Batista comes in and powerbombs Rock! Rock kicks out when Orton covers! Foley tags in and unleashes on Orton. Foley goes for Socko, but Orton counters the Mandible Claw into the RKO and gets the upset three count! Great match! Interesting that the crowd cheered for Flair and booed the Rock whenever the two hooked up. Match Rating: ***1/2
We get a recap of the WWE Hall of Fame Banquet
and its inductees. Triple H inducting ‘Superstar’ Billy Graham, Mick Foley inducting ‘Magnificent’ Don Muraco and Ric Flair inducting Harley Race were shown. Bobby Heenan had the most touching moment when he said the only thing missing from that night was fellow Hall of Famer, the late Gorilla Monsoon. I miss the big guy too. Other inductees were the late Big John Stud and the Junkyard Dog, Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine, Sgt. Slaughter and Tito Santana.
Mean Gene than comes out to the entrance-way and introduces the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2004 to the live MSG crowd and lists their accomplishments. Everyone got a good pop except Pete Rose who got booed. This was a great nostalgia trip for me as I remember watching most of these guys while I was just a kid years ago.
First Ever WrestleMania Inter-Promotional Evening Gown Match
Sable & Torrie Wilson VS Ms. Jackie & Stacy Kiebler
Despite the theme, the rules are that you win by pinfall or submission in this one. Sable request they wrestle with their gowns-off since it was restricting their movement! Jackie refused to take off her gown, so Sable drags her in and with Torrie rips off her dress. Thankfully, this was short and Torrie worked most of the match. Torrie pinned Jackie with a roll-up that made everyone happy. Match Rating: DUD
Backstage, Eddie Guerrero confronts Benoit in his locker. Eddie almost goes heel telling Benoit he doesn’t have a chance, but was actually just trying to fire him up. Eddie ends by saying he's a believer that Benoit can pull it off tonight.
WWE Cruiserweight Open
Chavo Guerrero is automatically the last entrant as he’s the defending champion. This is basically a gauntlet. Ultimo Dragon and Shannon Moore start off. Dragon lost some face during his entrance when he slipped on the entrance way and slipped again when he did his 2nd rope pose. Dragon made quick work of Moore, putting him away with the Dragon DDT in about a minute! Jamie Noble is next in. He quickly counters the Dragon DDT into a neck-breaker and followed with a front neck crank for the submission in under a minute! Funaki is next and comes in with a flying cross body off the top, but Noble rolls through for the record pin in seconds! Next up is Nunzio. They take it outside where Noble hits a cool senton off the top to the outside! Nunzio than gets counted out! Next is Billy Kidman. Nunzio trips and pulls Noble out of the ring and Kidman nails both of them with a springboard Shooting Star Press! Back in the ring, Noble crotches Kidman on the top rope, but Kidman nails a BK Bomb off the top to eliminate Noble. Rey Mysterio is next! Last year, Mysterio dressed as Dare Devil. This year, he’s The Flash. Good exchange by the former WCW tag champs, Mysterio nails a flipping powerbomb off the top to eliminate Kidman. Tajiri is next and he clamps on the Tarantula. Rey nails the 619, but Akio gets involved and holds Mysterio only to accidently get sprayed with mist by Tajiri! Rey rolls up Tajiri for the pin! Akio can’t continue due to being ‘blinded’ by the mist. Tajiri head kicks Rey as revenge. Chavo is last in by default. Rey takes out Chavo Sr. with a leapfrog senton over the referee out of the ring, but Chavo Jr. steals a pin on Rey with help from Chavo Sr. This match was a dissapointment cause it went by WAY TO FAST. Match Rating: **1/2
Brock Lesnar VS Bill Goldberg – Special Referee Stone Cold Steve Austin
Looking at Brock as he made his entrance, you could already tell he’d rather be somewhere else. HUGE ‘You Sold Out’ chant for Lesnar. Fans than chant the ‘Good-bye’ song! And JR acknowledges the rumours of Brock leaving WWE! We than get a huge Austin chant. All this and the two big men STILL haven’t locked up! They finally get it on and Goldberg spikes Lesnar with a gorilla press into a spine buster! Lesnar dodges the spear and Goldberg hits the corner and falls out of the ring. Now we get a ‘Goldberg Sucks’ chant! Brock takes control back in the ring. Goldberg comes back and nails a modified neck breaker followed by the spear, but Lesnar kicks out! Brock nails the F5! Goldberg kicks out! Lesnar misses a spear, Goldberg nails the spear! Jackhammer! Goldberg wins! The crowd could care less as they stay silent. The crowd again chants the goodbye song for Lesner and Lesnar fingers the crowd and then Austin and gets stunned for it! Goldberg comes back and shares beers with Austin. Austin than stuns him! Goldberg sold the Stunner better than Lesnar as Brock just wanted to get out of there. This match should have been A LOT better, and the fans let them know it. All the heat this match garnered were for the wrong reasons. Match Rating*1/2
It’s announced that WrestleMania 21 will be hosted next year at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles. Vince McMahon then comes out and publicly thanks the fans on behalf of WWE stars past and present for making WWE and WrestleMania what it is today.
World’s Greatest Tag Team VS The APA VS The Basham Brothers VS Scotty 2 Hotty & Rikishi – WWE Tag Team Title Sudden Death Fatal Four Way
The tag champs are the only team to come out to no crowd heat! Another quick match. Haas gets a mouthful of Stink Face. Bradshaw tosses Danny Basham out of the ring with a Last Call on Haas & Benjamin, than nails Doug Basham with the Clothesline From Hell. He tries one on Rikishi but it gets countered into a Samoan drop. Rikishi than sits on the fallen Basham for the pin to retain the titles. The crowd could care less and there was barely any heat for the tag champs, even for the W.O.R.M and after match dance celebration! Match Rating: *1/2
An Edge promo ad is shown. Jesse Ventura than came out and interviewed Donald Trump at ringside. Just a quick spot to get over the fact the Ventura is looking to run for US presidency in 2008.
Molly Holly VS Victoria – WWE Women’s Title, if Molly does not win the title, she gets her head shaved
This was OK but short again. King totally kills any credibility this match has as he drags JR into a debate about women’s underwear! Just cause he didn’t get to call the evening gown match, couldn’t King act like a grown up even for a WrestleMania women’s match?!? Molly tries the finish Victoria with her own Widow’s Peak, but Victoria rolls through for the pin! Molly runs for it and Victoria catches her but Molly takes down Vic and tries to shave her head! But she can’t get the shaver to work! Victoria recovers and smacks Molly into the barbers table and straps her to the chair and shaves Molly’s head! It’s the FULL AUSTIN TREATMENT! Match Rating: **
Kurt Angle VS Eddie Guerrero – WWE Championship
Angle makes his entrance as Molly is STILL getting her head shaved! Great mat exchange to start this one off, followed by a lot of ground and rest work. But the crowd is very patient and respectful. But as expected, when they get in gear, things really heat up! Eddie escapes the Angle Slam and the Ankle Lock twice. Eddie hits the Frog Splash, but Angle kicks out! Another Ankle Lock and Guerrero again escapes and flips Angle out of the ring! Eddie unties his boot laces as his ankle is hurting. Angle smells blood and quickly rushes in for another Ankle Lock! But Guerrero kicks his boot off! Surprised. Angle rushes in and gets rolled up by Eddie for the win! Guerrero stole it by outsmarting Angle! He even had his feet hooking the ropes on the pin! Match Rating: ****
Kane VS The Undertaker
As expected, Undertaker gets a grand entrance, and Paul Bearer is back! Bearer also gained back all the weight he lost last time I remember seeing him. Taker’s entrance is nothing off the charts, just the druids holding torches as he enters. His look is also nothing new, wearing his usual biker gear, but with the black coat and hat, his hair isn’t even shoulder length. But he did do the rolling eye thingy! Kane doesn’t believe it’s really him and tries to touch him which sets off the Undertaker’s wrath. Kane catches Taker out of Old School with a throat grab and Taker chokes him back! Kane scores a chokeslam, but the Taker does the dead man rise up! Taker scores a chokeslam of his own and signals the finish! TOMBSTONE! Cross-arm pin and the ‘Taker is 12 -0 for WrestleMania! The only complaint I have with the match is that the monster Kane was more or less squashed here. Match Rating**
Backlash is announced for April 18th in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. Doesn’t that make things a bit predictable?
Shawn Michaels VS Chris Benoit VS Triple H – World Heavyweight Championship
This match kept a good pace, with the third man playing a factor breaking every pinfall. Cool spot where Benoit was hung in the tree of woe and HHH whipped HBK into him, HBK than did the same to HHH. Benoit recovers and takes out HBK before nailing the triple-German on HHH. HHH grabs HBK’s hand to stop him from tapping to the Crossface. Outside the ring, HHH & HBK double suplex Benoit off the Spanish announced table through the SmackDown announce table! HHH scores the Pedigree on HBK back in the ring, but Benoit comes out of nowhere to break the count! Benoit counters a Pedigree into a Sharpshooter. HBK Superkicks Benoit out of it! Cover! Benoit kicks out! Benoit ducks a second Sweet Chin Music and launches HBK out of the ring! Benoit counters the Pedigree into the Crippler Crossface! After several near escapes, HHH TAPS OUT! BENOIT IS THE NEW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION!!!
Eddie Guerrero joins Benoit and both champions are in tears as they celebrate!!! Now THIS is a true Wrestle Mania moment! Match Rating: ****
Show ends with a great recap video of the whole event.
One could probably argue the biggest problem with the show was that most matches just seem to fly by, save for good time given to the main bouts, which were the only matches that were really hyped anyway. Still, this was a good show going over four and a half hours long. RAW tomorrow night should be interesting to see how things follow up. My PPV predictions are even at 6-6, bringing the overall record to 16-7-2. Show Rating: ***1/4