I watched WrestleMania with a couple of friends last night to split the bill, so I may have wound up missing some of the smaller details I appreciate so much in wrestling, but overall I thought it was a very good show that provided us with a few classic "WrestleMania Moments."
The opening video packages were great as always. WWE does such a good job at putting those together and making it feel like such a big show.
The opener was way better than I expected. I love Finlay's work, but JBL has been such a slug since he came back that I was worried they wouldn't be able to deliver. He turned it up a notch though and kept up with Finlay. I didn't really care for JBL constantly going after Hornswaggle, it just didn't seem to fit (until Horny caned him). Finlay's suicide dive and the stiff table spot were a couple of the highlights for me, and just thinking about taking a kendo stick to the shins makes me cringe. I was really shocked that JBL won, but I guess I shouldn't be since the Vin-man has such a man-crush on him.
Kennedy's promo before MITB was good stuff, but Kim Kardashian was terrible. Her giggling the whole time he was yelling in her face sucked. I'm not sure why they brought her in, or what she's famous for. Oh well, it could have been worse, they could have gotten Paris Hilton.
The Money In The Bank was outstanding as always. Those guys went out there and busted their asses. I was really surprised they didn't add Matt Hardy in as the final entrant, but it wound up working out well. Shelton Benjamin is so freakishly athletic, he does something incredible every time I see him. There were too many amazing spots to count in this match, and it all flowed together really well. After Jeff Hardy's suspension that left this match up for grabs, and they did a great job making it seem like anyone could win. There was four or five times me and my friends though the match would end, and that made it really dramatic. After Matt took out MVP, I couldn't help but wonder why he didn't just go up and get the briefcase himself. Granted he wasn't a participant, but wouldn't the match be over if he got it anyway? I was a little shocked that Punk got the win, considering he's lost to Chavo approximately 112 times in a row, but hopefully this means he's working his way back up the ladder (no pun intended). Everyone in this match was great. Just great stuff, all around.
The introductions of the Hall of Famers was nice, as always, but it didn't seem as well done or well received as in year's past.
The bit with Snoop Dogg, Festus, Santino, and Mick was fun. Mick looked like he just woke up on the street though. Someone needs to buy him a hair brush.
I didn't have very high expectations for the Smackdown/Raw challenge, but I did think that it would be a fun brawl. Instead we got ten minutes of garbage. That match was pure trash. It was Goldberg vs. Lesnar bad. It's sad to see Batista and Umaga dog it so bad, because they can really have good matches when they put their minds to it. After Batista's great series with the Undertaker and his recent matches with MVP he was getting rid of the notion that he doesn't work hard, but that changed last night. When you're worse in the ring than Maria and Ashley that says all you need to know.
The ECW title match was fine to me. My friends thought it was worthless to do a 10 second squash at 'Mania, but I don't know what they were expecting. Two guys got there 'Mania bonuses, the crowd got a title change, and no one thought Chavo stood a chance anyway. Besides, they didn't have much to follow.
The Flair-Michaels match was perfect. It was heart-wrenching storytelling at it's finest. This was all about Naitch, but HBK made it all possible. Flair wrestled like "The Man", and Michaels went out of his way to make Flair's last match a great one. The first moonsault was sick, but the amazing thing was that he did another one moments later. It reminded me of WrestleMania XIV the way Shawn played through the pain. The final moments of the match were so perfect that my word's can't do them justice. The ovation Flair got as he left was well deserved, but I'm left feeling it wasn't enough. This was the emotional moment of the night.
Edge's promo just didn't seem right to me. Maybe I missed something. I'll have to re-watch it later.
I had pretty low expectations for Bunnymania, and this was way better than I feared it would be. Maria, Melina, Good Lord! When the lights went out, I was afraid that someone might get hurt, considering the experience and talent levels of those involved, but it was handled well. Maria had the match of her life (I know, it's not saying much) and the top rope bulldog was great. Santino is so funny, and he is a trooper. He sold Snoop's Road Warrior-esque clothesline like a million bucks. That Dogg is one lucky man.
As soon as they announced the WWE Title match was next part of me knew that Orton would be retaining, but they had a great match anyway. Cena's entrance was cool (this is the only one of his "special" WrestleMania entrances I've liked) but it took me a while to realize the band was playing his song. I'm glad that Orton wasn't too involved in the big moments of the match, because to me it just seems like his work has been regressing ever since he broke off from Evolution. These three busted there butts, and told a great story. I loved the way it came down to Cena and Triple H, which is what everyone wanted, with Orton swooping in for the cheap victory. That's what heel champions are supposed to do. This was a great match, but a little short, but it did provide the unexpected moment of the night when Orton won out.
What can I say about the Show-Mayweather match that everyone didn't know going in? There was no way that Show would win, and there was no way the fans would accept "Money." Show tows the company line so well, and I'm not sure he'll ever get the credit he deserves for what he does in the ring. That said, I feel that they actually pulled off this match really well, and Show was well protected in his loss. He dominated the little man like he should, manhandled his entire posse, and eventually succumbed to some pretty nasty shots to the head. It wasn't great, but it was pretty good, and now at least we won't see Floyd Mayweather on WWE tv anymore.
Undertaker vs. Edge was another excellent match. I am really glad that this match closed the show, because these two have been having awesome exchanges for weeks. Every year Undertaker's entrance gets better and better, and this year was no exception. The Dead Man looked like the embodiment of evil, and the visual of his eyes wide open while he raised his arms surrounded by fire was amazing. Edge looked determined to have the match of his life, and I think they delivered. I loved how this match started slow and built and built until the end, and the crowd was with them all the way. The Tombstone spot was great, and what made it even better was the fact that Charles Robinson was running his ass off and it still took him forever to make it all the way down that huge entrance way. The Chokeslam spot with Hawkins and Ryder was awesome, and Edge's first spear was great. The second one looked a little weak, but that works out perfectly, because it protects the move when 'Taker locked in the gogoplata. This was an awesome finish, and that move has really grown on me in recent weeks. It really works well when he uses it as a surprise counter. This was a great way to end the show, because it left us feeling as though justice was served.
All in all this was a great show. Visually, it was astounding. The crowd seemed hot, but I thought they came off kind of quiet, possibly because of the outdoor setting. The commentary was good (what I heard of it anyway, there was a lot of talking going on) and I got what I wanted as a wrestling fan, which was a great four hour show.
The Pre-PPV battle royal was damn short, i am thinking about 6-7 minutes. A few good things, they focused on Festus going nuts as the bell rang good stuff i love Festus, Noble had a fun spot using the backs of his opponents that where already eliminated to get back in. Almost as expected it came down to Kane and Henry, nothing spectacular.
I thought it was a big mistake to make JBL-Finlay a garbage match, and have it open the show, they would be better off with a brawl without weapons. A few fun spots in the match, Finlay doing a dive to the outside getting smacked in the face with a trash can lid, which basically got followed with JBL brutally throwing a trash can after Hornswoggle, not sure that was planned or JBL just being an ass. Decent fun match, but i think it could has been better as a bloody brawl.
The Money in the Bank was loads of fun, and the only match that actually had some interesting for the future coming out of it. Morrison was basically this years Benjamin jumping around with all sorts of crazy spots, Benjamin took a sick bump through a ladder on the outside pretty damn sick, fun thing was Carlito was staring at him with open mouth looking shocked, pretty priceless. This wasn't a match of the year candidate, but i would say match of the night, fun trainwreck. Matt Hardy's run-in was done greatly, but i feel it should have come closer to the finish, but i did call right on the spot. I had a feeling Punk could be winning it, but i marked out for it, always a bit of a surprise anyways.
Howard Finkel rocks, he deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame
Loved the segment backstage with Festus, Snoop and Santino, Festus is priceless entertainment, and for once in a few years, I actually enjoyed a Mick Foley cameo.
Could Batista-Umaga seem more like a filler, just like the JBL-Finlay match this should have been a brawl, instead it was just a catch-as-catch can match, which didn't work well for either one. I did enjoy the crowd cheering for Umaga, Umaga is amazing, the crowd came off pretty dead during most of the event, which really didn't help. Batista might look big and strong, but damn he cant pull off a good powerbomb against anybody over 230.
I said 5 seconds to my brother and friend, when Kane didn't come down the aisle for the ECW title match, and i have a feeling that was pretty close to the match time. So get this Kane jobs basically each week, the money in the bank winner couldn't beat Chavo in 142 tries, yet Kane beats him in five seconds. I hope they just make ECW the brand of monsters, and keep them there.
I think the Flair-Shawn match was good up till the ending, but how weird is it that Flair has more offense against Shawn than Vince, I really didn't want too see Flair retire here, which could have hurt the rest of the show for me. It had a slow build, which eventually really made it a good match, but I don't like too see the greatest of all time losing in his final battle, and especially against a guy, who could retire in the next couple of years. Good match, but the aftermath was dead, man I wished they at least had a big goodbye for him, I was disappointed, but not surprised.
Very nice Edge promo following this, but it was pretty much lost on me, probably also many others, due to the Flair deal.
I marked for the Snoop mobile, that was plain awesome, and except from the lights going out during the match was basically the only highlight. Why is Ashley not fired yet? She got absolutely nothing, and she is not even hot, i guess Vince likes crack whores. I did like Beth and Melina winning this, I wasn't expecting that at all.
The WWE title triple threat match bored me big time, I had no interest in the match in the first place, but I thought they would make it work somehow, too much setting up for a lot of the spots in the match. As much as I really hate Orton, I did like seeing him retain, which I thought there was a good chance for, as this wasn't the main event. I like Cena and Trips, but I really don't want to see any of them with the gold right now. The finish was pretty cool, nice spot, yet it didn't save the match.
The only interest I had in the Mayweather-Show fight was how they were going to do it, its hard too find a good way too book it, they didn't really find it here in my opinion, cant say I am disappointed, I counted on crap and I got it.
The a big positive was Edge and Taker actually got the main event as they should, it was a good match, but I really thought it was missing something, one thing was the feel, the crowd would give it, it might have been different at the stadium, but it seemed like the crowd this night only popped for the big spots, the finish of the match seemed a little weak and a little out of nowhere, I do think I could have been a little distracted from the Flair thing still, but it just didn't seem as big as it should be.
End of the day, I am hyped for the returning Hardy-MVP feud (my feud of the year last year) and CM Punk winning the Bank, which was the only thing that really came over in the end. Mania was as i had expected, but not hoped, looked weak in the build up and on paper, and they didn't deliver more than that. It had too end sometime, but Flair had deserved way more than this, Flair got screwed and the fans got screwed in my book, thanks Vince.
The online ECW battle royal was fine. I was OK with Kane winning, and even thought at one point that Mark Henry had a shot. Oh, by the way, what happened to Festus after he was eliminated?
I may be in the minority here, but I thought JBL vs. Finlay was a poor choice to start the show. I never really cared for this match, as it was built on a truly horrible angle. I also thought that they didn't need to have Hornswoggle around for the entire match, let alone get him physically involved, since what happened to him on Raw during the buildup was very disturbing. Also, I never wanted JBL to ever get back in the ring. He really looked winded mid-match.
Kim K's backstage interviewing skills left a lot to be desired. hey, maybe WWE can hire her for the job!
The action really picked up with the MITB match. The spots I popped for the most were Morrison's moonsault while carrying the ladder, Benjamin crashing and burning onto the ladder bridge and breaking the ladder, and of course, Matt Hardy's return. But no pop was as big as CM Punk winning the match! I really thought they were going to put MVP over, but Punk was a wonderful surprise. Now, the best thing to do is have Punk go after one of the REAL world titles, not the "ECW" title. That being said, MITB is a great tradition, and I hope it NEVER gets old!
I enjoyed the HOF presentation. Even popped for Mae Young putting the moves on the family member of a Famer, whoever he was. And popping for something like that is a rare thing, folks!
The Snoop Dogg/Festus/Santino/Foley promo was pretty funny. So apparently, Festus was calmed down because Foley has a bell backstage. Have a nice dizzle! Foley is priceless!
Baststa vs. Umaga was, for me, the better brawl. This was right on par with Batista's matches with Taker in the past. I expected him to get the win, and he did. These two behemoths has a good outing, and was Umaga's best effort since last year's Royal Rumble.
The ECW title match was an absolute joke. Kane winning in less than ten seconds and giving no respect to Chavo was just stupid. And that says a lot about the state of WWE's third brand.
Then, came the most wonderful, most memorable part of the show. I knew going into the show that this would be Flair's night, and it was! This bout between Flair and Michaels was a truly spectacular no-nonsense match, and both competitors gave it their all and then some. At times, I thought that Flair was going to win, but I didn't want him to, for storyline purposes. That aside when Michaels got the win, and Flair was officially retired, what happened afterward nearly moved me to tears. I just stared at my TV in awe as Flair slowly hugged his family, and shook hands with fans at ringside, and walked up the ramp for the final time. Just a brilliant spectacle! Godspeed, Ric Flair!
I expected Bunnymania to be the worst part of the show, and surprisingly is wasn't. Yes, it was bad, but it was typical Diva stuff, and I was able to stay attentive. It did drag quite a bit, though. I also thought the outfits were really bizarre, especially the Diva of the Moment, Maria. That wasn't a good as what she normally wears. And yes, the blackout was the best part of the segment. But then, Snoop and Santino were fine in their roles, and in the future, I'll be able to look back on this and laugh.
I wasn't really thrilled with the three way match for the WWE title, and fortunately, is wasn't the closing match. I really didn't know who to root for, because HHH didn't need the title, neither did Cena, and Orton has always been a dull champion. Definitely one of the weaker title matches in recent Mania history.
Show vs. Mayweather made me embarrassed to be a fan. I could barely watch that monkeycrap. I hope for Floyd that is was really worth the so called 20 million!
Kim K returns to announce the record setting attendance. She seemed really enthusiastic about it, didn't she?
With the horrible match before it, it took me awhile to get into the main event. But I did, and it was good. At times, I really thought that Edge had a chance, and that's how great of a worker he is. But as we all found out, WWE, like the fans, cherishes the "undefeated at Wrestlemania" part of Taker's career, and he got the win in great fashion. And as he held the title up high, the fireworks display was a sight to behold. Great way to end a mixed-bag show.
RATING: Between AVERAGE and GOOD