History of Wrestlemania with KB – Wrestlemania 18 – Should have been Hogan vs. Austin

Wrestlemania 18
Date: March 17, 2002
Location: Skydome, Toronto, Canada
Attendance: 68,237
Commentators: Jerry Lawler, Jim Ross
America the Beautiful: N/A

Now this is a very interesting case. WWE had completely bombed the previous year with the Alliance and the Invasion. Those angles had to be pushed forward because HHH was injured about two months after Wrestlemania X7. Since then we had two world titles running around meaning two champions. At Vengeance, they were unified into the Undisputed Championship. That’s the night Jericho references once every 8.3 minutes.

Anyway, your main idea here is that after Shane and Stephanie lost in the Winner Take All Match, they sold their shares to none other than Ric Flair. He and Vince owned half of the company, but Vince couldn’t handle this. He says that if Flair doesn’t sell the shares back to him, he’ll poison the company by bringing in the NWO. Of course this winds up happening and it’s nowhere near as effective as it was 6 years ago in WCW.

They cost Austin the title so he’s mad at Hall and they have a match tonight. Rock challenges Hogan for the super match WHICH SHOULD HAVE BEEN AUSTIN. Seriously, if WWE wants to kid themselves and try to believe that Rock was at Austin’s level, go ahead. That belongs in the same book that says Attitude was a completely original idea. So instead we get Rock vs. Hogan. There’s one big issue that this causes: no one cares about HHH vs. Jericho now.

People weren’t buying into his title reign in the first place as there’s a common rumor going around that says the Undisputed Title was supposed to go to HHH but he wasn’t healthy yet. I would completely buy that if someone told me it was true. This is the last WM before the brand split made an attempt to kill the company.  Let’s get to it.

Here’s your first clue that this show is going to be bad: Saliva plays Superstar to kick it off. Not O Canada? Seriously, we get this to start the show? Anyone else kind of disappointed? Don’t get me wrong, Saliva is a sweet band (their concerts completely suck though. Save your money and just listen to the CDs. They’re miles better).

The fans aren’t even into it at all as it’s just completely out of place. The standard “This is our Super Bowl” video follows.  That is used a lot but there’s a reason: it’s the truth.  The four guys in the main events tonight get to talk about what Mania means tonight.  They did a good job of making it feel epic if nothing else.  Pretty cool video of people talking about how important Mania is, and 8 minutes after the show started we hear JR. Lawler is back this year and it’s very nice to hear. Those two just belong at Wrestlemania.

Intercontinental Title: William Regal vs. Rob Van Dam

Ladies and Gentlemen (notice the Saliva pun?) we have proof once and for all that Vince hates RVD and anything he didn’t create. If you remember the fall before this, Van Dam was main eventing a pay per view and getting great pops everywhere the show went. He was incredibly over and it’s not like his in ring stuff is terrible. Sure he’s no Lou Thesz but it’s not like he does nothing out there.

Wouldn’t you think a guy that gets pops like he does is worth more than the opening spot? Just shows me that no matter what he did, RVD was never going to get a fair shake. He gets caught with drugs once and he’s gone. Jeff gets caught how many times and still gets a title run.  (Ironically enough I’m rewriting this the morning after Victory Road 2011).  Seriously, there’s something completely not right about that.

Regal is perhaps the most bland heel I’ve ever seen at this point. He was just completely boring. The crowd is chanting for RVD less than 20 seconds in.  Standing moonsault gets no cover by Van Dam as he starts off very quickly.  Regal grabs the brass knuckles very quickly but RVD kicks them out of his hand.  Spin kick misses but Van Dam hits the jump kick to set up the Five Star.

That misses and it’s Regal with a cover for two.  Suplex gets two.  RVD fights back a bit but the Regal Cutter (neckbreaker) puts him right back down.  Off to the chinlock and Regal is bleeding from the mouth.  Rolling Thunder eats knees and a butterfly powerbomb gets two.  Regal Stretch doesn’t work either.

Monkey flip puts Regal down but Rob walks into a SICK half nelson suplex to send him to the floor.  Regal goes out to get Van Dam and finds the knuckles which the referee knocks away.  Regal pulls out more but Van Dam kicks him in the face and the Five Star starts Van Dam’s Mania unbeaten streak.

Rating: C. This isn’t much at all. It’s the second year in a row Regal was in the IC match in the opening, but this is far worse than last year as it was just kind of there. There’s no story, no psychology that’s noticeable, and it’s mainly Van Dam just using his signature moves. It’s not a terrible match, but there was nothing great about it at all.

Lillian is with Christian and we see a clip of him turning on his mentor DDP who helped him get over Christian’s losing streak.  Christian doesn’t need Page or Toronto anymore.  That’s a bad thing for Page apparently.

European Title: Christian vs. DDP

Christian’s At Last You Are On Your Own entrance is just great. He’s announced as being from Tampa, Florida, which is a very nice little heel touch that could be done more often. DDP was the guy that drove the Pink Cadillac at WM 6 in the same building. Page is so ridiculously charismatic it’s unreal. He might even rival Hogan in that category.

Christian jumps him as we get into the ring and it’s on early.  DDP gets a nice gutwrench powerbomb into a gutbuster.  Cactus Clothesline by Page takes us to the floor.  Back in and Page tries the ten punches in the corner but Christian pops Page in the balls to break that up.  Page is knocked to the floor as this isn’t interesting at all.

An attempted crotch shot to the post by Page is blocked.  Nothing of note is going on here.  Back in the ring and we get an abdominal stretch.  Discus lariat misses and it’s back to Christian’s control.  Page gets something close to a powerslam off the top and both guys are down.  There’s the discus lariat and down goes Christian.

Modified spiral bomb by Page gets two again.  Neither the Unprettier or the Diamond Cutter works and Christian gets two off a reversed DDT.  Christian avoids having a temper tantrum which was this stupid thing he was doing at the time.  Diamond Cutter ends it clean and Page retains.  He never got over in WWE at all.  Page makes fun of Christian post match.

Rating: D+. Just like the previous match, this was next to nothing. These matches simply don’t feel like Wrestlemania matches to put it as basically as I can. They’re PPV quality I suppose, but not WM quality. Again, not bad, but nothing special at all.  Like I said, Page just never clicked at all in this company.

Christian has a fit post match.

Coach is with Rock in the back and the fans chant for Hogan.  Rock asks Coach is he said his prayers this morning but Coach says he got busy and forgot. Rock makes him say his prayers, which Coach starts off with by saying “What’s up G?” Rock freaks and throws him out. Coachman getting harassed by Rock simply never got old. Rock rips his t-shirt as he says Hogan will smell what he’s cooking. Good grief he was amazing.

Hardcore Title: Goldust vs. Maven

Yes, Eyebrows Huffman is back and somehow he has a title. This match is happening for the sole reason of having a hardcore title match. Remember 24/7 is still in effect. Maven gets his teeth kicked in beyond belief on the floor, more or less being a crash dummy.  A golden shovel goes into Maven’s ribs.  He then lands the only move he ever really mastered: a standing dropkick. He really was great at that.

Other than that, Maven is beaten inside and out here as this is little more than a squash at this point. They hit each other with trash can lids but Spike Dudley runs out with a referee and pins Maven to win the title?  Yes this clearly needed to be on the PPV as we’re now almost 40 minutes into the show and the highlight is a TV match for the IC Title and Maven’s theme music.

Crash Holly runs down and chases Spike, Goldust chases Spike and Maven chases Goldust. Oh this isn’t going to end with just the match is it?

Drowning Pool performs Tear Away to “tell the story” of the Undisputed Title. Instead of, I don’t know, maybe just telling us? This is overkill at this point and the fans really aren’t that interested. This goes on WAY too long as even I’m fast forwarding. You can barely see the video that the song is supposed to be accompanying. This is a waste of time.

In that back, Crash and Spike are fighting but Al Snow drives a golf cart through a wall of boxes (good thing they were there isn’t it?) but Spike gets away. As he’s about to leave, Hurricane swings in on a cable and kicks Spike to win the title as Al gives chase. Oh this is going to be a long night.

Don’t try this at home.

After a 30 second spot to say don’t try this at home, we get a recap of what we just saw with Hurricane doing stuff that you could do at your own home. I know we have short attention spans but be serious people.

Kurt Angle vs. Kane

I’m trying to think of why this match happened and I’m drawing a blank. Apparently Kurt blames him for not being in the main event tonight so I’m guessing Royal Rumble. You figure it out.  Anyway there’s no video for it or anything like that so how am I supposed to know?  Pre match Angle references the scandal with the Canadian Olympic skating team.  He’s the big red, white and blue machine.  Kane’s pyro cuts him off.  He’ll have to be subject to the blue and white machine aspects of Kurt I guess.

Angle hits Kane with the bell during the pyro to give him the advantage.  Apparently Kane got attacked by Angle a few weeks ago and his head is messed up because of it.  German puts Kane down.  Kane comes back with right hands but walks into an overhead belly to belly and a clothesline.  We keep hearing about Angle not being in the main event because of Kane which I guess could have been due to a Jericho/Angle title match which I don’t remember either.

Another suplex sends Kane down again for two.  Off to a front facelock but Kane is like screw that and tosses him off.  Better than tossing his salad I guess.  Angle busts out a top rope clothesline and the fans boo the heck out of him, which is odd as that was a solid clothesline.  The second attempt at it is caught and down go both men.

Here’s Kane’s comeback with a back drop and powerslam.  Chokeslam gets two and Kane gives us a throat slit.  Tombstone is reversed and there’s the Angle Slam for two as well.  There’s the ankle lock but it gets reversed.  Never mind as it’s right back on again.  Kane gets an enziguri to take down Angle again.  On the bad leg Kane goes up only to get suplexed off the top which never gets old.  Chokeslam is reversed into an incredibly sloppy rollup with Kane’s shoulder up to end it.

Rating: C+. Decent match and by far the best match of the night so far, but that ending really hurts it.  Also, why did this match exist again?  It’s very odd to see WWE give us a match like this with absolutely no explanation.  Nothing too bad here, but dang there was limited chemistry.

Hurricane is trying to hide but winds up in Godfather’s locker room with his ladies. They see him and Godfather chases him off. Point?

We recap Taker vs. Flair.  Taker was eliminated by Maven at the Rumble in a big surprise. Rock made fun of him for it so they have a match at No Way Out. Taker tries to use a pipe on Rock but for no reason at all Flair comes out to stop him. Taker challenges him for Mania but Flair says no.

Taker starts beating up his loved ones such as Arn Anderson and his son David. He threatens to beat up his daughter and that’s enough to get Flair to say yes. Part of the deal with this is that during a fight on Smackdown, Flair hit a “fan”. This gets him arrested and thrown off the Board of Directors (Flair being demoded. Holy crap.) Tough guy Taker with the ability to talk is freaking awesome. This is no DQ also.

Undertaker vs. Ric Flair

Flair still looks human here.  He hammers away to start as Taker is knocked backwards quickly.  They go out onto the table with Flair mauling the dead man.  Back into the ring and Flair hammers away.  All Flair so far at about two minutes into this.  Flair jumps off the apron at Taker but gets caught and rammed into the post.  This of course gives us time to talk about the plane crash.

Taker sends Flair into the steps, prompting a fan to say that had to hurt which makes me laugh.  Back in the ring and they hammer away even more.  Flair goes into the middle buckle and somehow isn’t bleeding yet.  Back to the floor again via a Flair Flip and a big boot as Taker pounds Flair into a chair.  Flair is, say it with me, busted open.

Back into the ring now and Flair is getting hammered down.  BIG chop out of the corner by Flair and here he comes.  Ross is into this too as you would expect.  Taker’s face is cut a bit as he hits a superplex to kill Flair dead.  That of course gets two as Taker hammers away while pulling Flair up every time.  Taker goes up for Old School and wastes enough time to have it countered.

We hit the floor again and Flair finds a lead pipe on Taker’s bike, popping him in the head with it.  That doesn’t put Taker down of course and we fight up the aisle with Taker bleeding but in control.  Flair finds a metal sign to get some shots in as we head back into the ring.  Big kick to the balls breaks up a chokeslam attempt and it’s time for the leg.

There’s the Figure Four and Taker is in trouble.  Taker grabs the throat ala Big Show back in 96 and chokeslams Flair for two.  To be fair it was a pretty weak chokeslam.  Does goes the referee and according to Taker it’s pipe time.  Arn Anderson pops up out of nowhere and DRILLS Taker with a spinebuster to a huge pop and a two count.

Taker brings in another weapon, this time a chair, but according to Law #8 of wrestling, Flair gets it and pops Taker with it a few times.  A big boot stops that and it’s time for the Last Ride.  For some reason Flair dead weights him so instead it’s a Tombstone (BIG pop for that) to end it as that looked great.  Flair is victim #10.

Rating: B. Leave it to the old guys to come out there and have one of the better matches of the show.  I don’t think anyone thought Flair would win but it was fun to see him go out there and just be Flair one more time.  After this it was more or less nothing but Evolution and HHH for Flair so it didn’t mean much.  Flair would be a heel very soon and Taker would be world champion in a few months.  Good match.

Booker talks about how smart he is.  He mentions knowing about Einstein’s theory of relatives.  This was about one of the most creative backstories I’ve heard in awhile.  Booker was allegedly trying to get an endorsement deal for a Japanese shampoo commercial, but before he signed the contract the company found Edge instead. This match is the result of that. You have to say, that’s creative if nothing else.

Booker T vs. Edge

 

So Edge is awesome and it’s his hometown.  Who do you think is going to win here?  JR wants a cheeseburger from the Hard Rock Café.  Funny sign: They Are Fighting Over Shampoo.  Truer words have never been spoken.  Ton of Edge signs and he gets a great reaction.  Basic stuff to start with Booker landing a hot shot to take Edge down.

Out to the floor for just a bit and a missile dropkick gets two.  All Booker so far.  Edge fires back with a big chop but Booker takes him down on the back of his head with an Alabama Slam for two.  Edge botches a top rope rana as Booker lands on Edge’s back which has to freaking hurt.  Spinwheel kick by Edge for two and here he comes (to save the day!).

Scissors Kick is reversed into the Edge-O-Matic for two.  A top rope spinwheel kick (love that move) gets two for the Canadian.  Twisting sunset flip out of the corner is countered into a slingshot by Edge but the spear misses.  Spinarooni sets up the axe kick for two.  Edge gets an arm drag and the spear for a close two.  And there’s the Edgecution to end things.  That came out of nowhere.
Rating: C. While this was really just an excuse to get the hometown boy on the show, the pop he got makes up for it. While not bad, this isn’t the best match for either of them but it’s certainly good. Edge’s super push continues, but would get knocked off the tracks by neck surgery just 10 months later as he was cracking into the main event.

In the back, Hurricane is interviewed by Coach about being Hardcore Champion. His sidekick, Mighty Molly appears and says that they need to leave. She then hits him in the head with a frying pan to win the title. Ok, I get that this is supposed to be silly, but there is no reason why there’s a freaking frying pan there. What’s that for, in case Big Show wants a fried roast? Seriously, at least use a chair or something.

All right ladies and gentlemen, pay attention, because you’re about to see the worst idea in Wrestlemania history.

We recap Austin vs. Hall.  In short it was Austin vs. the NOW and the first person he went after was Hall.  That’s about all there is to it.  However, the first thing I want to know is what the heck? Austin is main eventing the show one year ago and is now the midcard special? No wait that would be Rock and Hogan. Austin is now doing the Angle/Benoit match from last year.

This should have been Rock or someone else, leaving Austin vs. Hogan, end of discussion. Your story here is that the NWO took out Austin at No Way Out and cost him the title. Austin kidnapped Hall and tortured him, leading to the NWO attacking Austin and breaking a cinder block over his knee. In a move that was never explained, Austin’s OTHER knee is bandaged the next week. Anyway, let’s get on with this.

Scott Hall vs. Steve Austin
As soon as the bell rings we see your basic problem: Austin is viewed as a superstar, Hall is viewed as a joke. Hall is good enough in the ring to hang with Austin, but no one is buying this. Nash is out with him and helping Hall so at least it’s Austin vs. the Outsiders, but this just feels weak all over.

Austin would soon go on hiatus for several months (I saw his last match before he did this, or at least one of them) and I can’t say I blame him. His character was dead and buried at this point and he would only hang around for about another year.  Anyway let’s get to this.  Austin pounds away to start and it’s about what you would expect.

Thesz Press and the middle finger elbow connect before Hall can even get the vest off.  Hall takes a ton of shots into the buckle and it’s off to the floor now.  Austin pops Nash and heads back into the ring only to take a clothesline for two.  They slug it out even more as Hall is shall we say limited at this point.  Hall sends him to the floor and Nash hammers away.

Back in goes Austin and it’s more basic offense by Hall.  WORST FALL AWAY SLAM EVER gets no cover.  The fans chant Razor as he gets a clothesline for two.  Nash adds in some shots to try to make the inevitable ending a bit less annoying.  Austin grabs a weak spinebuster for no cover.  Hall fires more punches as that’s about all he can do here.

Hall hits the ropes but runs into a Stunner out of nowhere so Nash pulls the referee out and drills him.  The double beating begins but Austin fights them off and it’s a Stunner for both with no referee.  Nash takes out the replacement referee as well so Austin backdrops Hall to the floor.  The fans all look at something and it’s a bunch of referees to get rid of Nash.  Hall hits a Stunner for two and then Austin gets a Stunner as well to end this for good.

Rating: D. I hate this match. It’s almost filler and for Austin, that’s a slap in his face. Put simply, he deserves much better than this. Hall and Nash just aren’t a legitimate challenge for the guy that was the world champion most of the previous year. Hall is ok to feed to someone like Edge or Benoit, but putting him in there with Austin? In no way, shape or form is that acceptable. I’m actually ticked off about this now. This is flat out stupid.

We see a video on Access. That really is a cool idea. It’s like a convention where you can meet wrestlers, call matches, etc.

Tag Titles: Billy/Chuck vs. Dudley Boys vs. APA vs. Hardys Boys
Saliva plays the Dudleyz theme and Stacy looks insanely hot dancing with them. That’s your match highlight. This has elimination rules. The APA are purely here to fill a spot as they would be split up a month later. Lita is in a match later so she’s not here either.  Still just one set of titles at this point.  You Look So Good To Me is freaking catchy.

This is under elimination rules by the way.  The APA jumps the champions as they come in.  Bradshaw and Chuck start us off and some double teaming puts Bradshaw down.  Crowd is dead here as you would expect them to be.  The APA and the champions (Billy and Chuck if I didn’t mention that earlier) have done the whole of the match so far.

Farrooq hits a spinebuster on Billy and then it’s off to Bradshaw.  D-Von finally comes in and gets beaten down also.  Total mess so far and we’re only about two minutes in.  Farrooq hits a spinebuster on Chuck outside and the Clothesline ends Billy.  Before Bradshaw can cover though a 3D puts the APA out.  The Hardys come in to fight their old rivals.

The key word there is old, as neither of them meant anything anymore and both would go their separate ways very soon.  Double DDT on Chuck clearly doesn’t hit the mat but who cares?  The Dudleys set up a table on the floor which is for later I’d assume.  Whisper in the Wind takes down Bubba but Stacy gets on the apron and pulls her shorts up into a thong.  Jeff spanks her and shoves her down.

Bubba Bomb takes down Jeff who is a very pale man.  Bubba hammers on him for awhile as we couldn’t be going through the motions more if our lives depended on it.  We hit the chinlock as this is just boring.  D-Von comes in to change a few things.  Jeff gets caught in the Tree of Woe and Bubba steps on Jeff’s balls.  Edge and Christian did that to Matt last year.

Matt comes in to send Bubba to the floor, knowing what Jeff’s balls feel like.  Jeff gets a reverse DDT to bring in Matt.  D-Von brings in Bubba and I’d rather watch some old 95 Raw than this.  It’s that boring.  Bubba misses his big back splash which has never hit once, likely for the sake of people’s lives.  Billy saves Matt from What’s Up by shoving D-Von through the tables.

Twist of Fate and the Swanton put the Dudleys out.  Chuck kicks Matt’s head off immediately after and we’re down to two teams here.  Matt grabs a Side Effect on Billy as the crowd is more or less silent here.  Poetry in Motion to Billy and the double finisher to Chuck.  Billy gets a Fameasser to Jeff for two but then a belt shot to Jeff ends it.

Rating: F. How in the freaking world do you go from TLC 2 to this in just a year?  The tag division was completely dead at this point so they split the belts.  Well of course they did because that’s the dumbest thing they ever could have done.  This was awful and everyone knew it.  Boring all around with only Stacy being at her hottest to be worth anything.

Outsiders say they’re going to help Hogan. Hogan says don’t do it.

Molly runs into a door and Christian pins him. Tell me it’s over. I need to hear that it’s over.

Now it’s time for the REAL main event of Wrestlemania 18: The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan.  This all starts with a tale as old as time: Rock wants to know who the better man is. In this case, that’s all this feud needed.  Anyway, Hogan pins Rock with the leg drop in a 6 man on Raw, so we already have a reason to believe Hogan can win. Seriously, that should be enough right?

The scene with Rock and Hogan standing toe to toe in the ring on Raw in Chicago to start up the feud is incredible.  Rock: “You talk about headlining Wrestlemania after Wrestlemania after Wrestlemania.  Well how do you feel about headlining one more Wrestlemania with THE ROCK?”  Game on.

Now we get to the really idiotic part as Hogan hit Rock in the back of the head with a hammer.  When he was loaded into the ambulance, Hogan commandeered a semi truck and plowed into it.  Rock was of course back on Raw the following week because that’s how he rolls I guess.  Vince thought that two of the biggest names of all time facing each other wasn’t enough so he threw in a pointless story. That was just a waste to me and always will be.
The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan

Hogan’s pop is insane as the fans show that Hulkamania will indeed live forever.  When Hogan is in the ring a HUGE Hogan chant starts up.  Rock’s pop is clearly smaller, but it’s there.  Ross tries to call this a mixed reaction which is just laughable.  The staredown is indeed awesome.  The guys seem really confused about the crowd.  They pop for the bell.  When do you ever hear that?

Hogan sends Rock flying off the lockup and the place erupts.  I’ve always liked Hogan talking trash in the most basic of moves.  In a headlock for example “Ask him ref or I’ll rip his head off!”  Hogan shoves him away again and says just bring it.  Hogan hammers away, saying “You ain’t nothing meatball”, which is a line from Rocky III.

Rock gets the big jumping clothesline/forearm and is booed out of the building.  Rock hammers away and almost goes over the top but instead hits the floor under the ropes.  An attempted Rock Bottom is blocked and Hogan “hits” an elbow to the top of the head and pounds away at Rock on the mat.  Rock spears him and pounds away as the crowd is all over him.

Hogan gets a belly to back suplex to calm the riot.  He throws on an abdominal stretch and rolls Rock up for two.  Let the back raking begin.  Time for some punches in the corner and Hogan can do no wrong more or less.  Rock comes back with chops but Hogan gets what looked like a chokeslam of all things but I think was supposed to be a clothesline.

The wrist tape comes off and Hogan chokes away but Rock fires off some punches, only to be sent to the floor.  Almost all Hogan so far as Rock can barely get anything going.  Hogan starts setting up the (English) announce table but Rock rams him into the table to save himself.  Rock tries a chair shot as more or less he’s turned heel mid match.  The referee stops it though and we head back in.

Down goes the referee and it’s a spinebuster by Rock to set up the Sharpshooter.  Rock might as well be eating a bowl of puppy and rainbow stew at this point.  Hogan taps but there’s no referee.  See, why in the world would Rock let Hogan go to wake up the referee?  He’s going to get up on his own and Hogan is more or less dead.  LOUD Rocky Sucks chant starts up which hasn’t been heard in years.

Rock takes a low blow and walks into his own Rock Bottom for two.  The weightlifting belt comes off but Rock gets a DDT and more booing.  Rock whips Hogan just like Hogan whipped him as the referee is down again.  There’s a Rock Bottom to Hogan for two as the Hulking Up begins.  The usual finishing sequence including the legdrop blows the roof off the place but only gets two, blowing what’s left of the roof off the place.

A second big boot hits but the leg drop misses.  Rock Bottom plants Hogan but Rock isn’t done yet.  He adds a second Rock Bottom to more or less kill Hogan.  He nips up and it’s the People’s Elbow to get something close to a pop and send Hogan into vibrating fish mode.  That’s enough to get the pin finally.

Rating: C+. There’s good and bad here. The crowd was electric the whole night and the nostalgia levels were off the charts. There’s one simple problem though: Hogan didn’t have it anymore. He was old and bad at this point, and his stuff simply wasn’t credible. While it’s fun, it’s not that good. The crowd and the atmosphere is all of the grade here.  They had a great story of having Rock be the younger and in better shape guy that outlasted Hogan in the end.  Well done and it worked very well by the end.  Good story, good crowd, weak execution though.

Hogan offers Rock a handshake post match and we get it to a big pop.  Rock leaves and the Outsiders come down, all pissed off about the handshake.  They beat him down until Rock comes back for the save.  Hogan tries to leave but Rock wants him to pose, and you don’t have to ask Hogan twice to do that.  That eats up a few minutes and Hogan raises Rock’s hand as they leave together.
Big Show is at WWF New York as we have a new attendance record.

Women’s Title: Jazz vs. Lita vs. Trish Stratus

I’ve been watching wrestling over 20 years and I have never heard a more dead reaction for a champion than Jazz gets here. Literally, not a sound. No booing, no anything at all. It is complete silence. Lita gets a nice pop as I remember how completely awesome she was as a face. The song is perfect for her and her gyrations could give Melina a run for her money.

Trish of course gets the mega pop as the hometown girl. The problem here is simple: this match is following The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan. No one cared and I don’t care now.  Well I do care about Trish in the tiny white shorts with the maple leaf on her trunks.  Lita and Jazz go at it before Trish gets there.  The two that people actually care about go at it on Jazz which doesn’t really work.

Half crab goes on Trish and now she’s in trouble.  Double chicken wing to Lita as it’s all Jazz.  Crowd is dead and you can clearly see a lot of people walking around and heading to the concession stand.  This is one of those matches where nothing that happens actually matters so I’m not really going to bother with telling you what’s going on.

Trish is apparently hurt so of course Lawler offers to give her mouth to mouth.  Trish rolls through a top rope cross body by Lita to get two on the redhead.  Bulldog gets two as Jazz saves.  Lawler lists off various countries that the show is airing in because they don’t want to call the match which I completely understand.  I don’t want to either.

Lita and Trish go at it before this was a huge rivalry and before they had fought a dozen times on PPV.  They slug it out with Lita mostly getting the better of it.  Jazz interrupts the Twist of Fate and then stops to let Lita hit her.  Lita takes her top off and tries a moonsault on both of them but winds up hitting Trish’s knees.

The two attractive ones hit heads and Jazz beats on them.  Trish’s bulldog is blocked by Lita but Lita gets crotched on the top.  Trish is knocked to the floor and a fisherman’s suplex off the top keeps the belt on Jazz.  Yes, Jazz beat Trish in a title match in Toronto.  Let that sink in for a minute.
Rating: F+. This is all based on how hot Trish and Lita look. The booking here is ridiculous to say the least. Trish gets the huge pop, comes out third, and doesn’t win? No. In no way, shape or form is this logical.

Christian tries to get a cab and escape as champion but Maven runs up on him and rolls him up to leave Mania with the title.  At least it’s over.

WWF Undisputed World Heavyweight Title: HHH vs. Chris Jericho

It’s main event time and Drowning Pool plays HHH to the ring.  Since there’s no backstory, here I am for the rescue.  HHH and Stephanie are divorcing so Jericho teamed up with Stephanie so he’d have an advantage. HHH is back from the quad tear and won the Rumble to earn this shot.  People are leaving the arena early as they know the ending already.  What does that say about the main event of Wrestlemania?  It’s that obvious that HHH gets the title back tonight.

Jericho has both belts because the Undisputed Title was supposed to go to HHH so he gets the big unified belt.  Stephanie looks great in the skin tight leather body suit but the hair isn’t working at all.  The crowd of course is confused because Jericho is Canadian but HHH is rather awesome at this point.  Jericho has the bright green tights here to (not really) match Stephanie.

The champion wisely goes after the leg to start us off.  Jericho chops away but HHH gets the jumping knee, only to limp away afterwards.  HHH gets sent to the floor although he manages to send Jericho out as well, landing ribs first on the railing.  We set up the Spanish announce table but Jericho gets a kick to the knee to stop HHH again.

Back in the ring and a spear by HHH takes Jericho down for a bit.  We’re only a few minutes into this and they’re having some issues really getting going so far.  HHH goes after the knee of Jericho to be funny I guess.  Ironic maybe?  Whatever.  A Flair knee crusher sets up a Figure Four.  Stephanie gouges his eyes to break that up though and the stalking is on.

That was another thing: everyone knew that HHH would get the Pedigree on Stephanie at some point tonight.  Jericho charges at HHH but takes Stephanie down instead.  Pedigree attempt to Stephanie but Jericho gets a missile dropkick to break it up and take over.  The bad leg goes around the post a few times and Stephanie kicks it as well.

Jericho works on the knee some more in the ring and the Canadian is in control.  Back to the post again as Stephanie adds a leg wrap in also.  There’s the Canadian favorite of the figure four around the post.  Back in and HHH tries to fight but gets taken down by a drop toehold.  Jericho cranks on the leg as we’re steadily into the formula here.

Spinning toehold goes on by Jericho as the fans chant for Hogan.  Well of course they are.  HHH sends Jericho shoulder first into the post to break the momentum and adds a neckbreaker which Jericho is up from first somehow.  Clothesline gets two for HHH.  Facebuster hits but HHH can barely move after it.  His offense is so knee based it’s unreal.

Spinebuster, perhaps his only non knee based move, gets two.  Jericho reverses to send HHH out to the floor and therefore end the momentum that HHH had going for him.  Jericho sets up the table again but can’t get the Walls of Jericho on there.  Pedigree is broken up also and it’s a backdrop through the table.  That and the Lionsault both gets two in the ring.

HHH gets back up but again can’t get the Pedigree.  Jericho gets a shot to the knee and there are the Walls.  After wasting some time with Jericho pulling HHH back to the middle he gets the ropes as we all knew he would.  This is why heels not named Kurt Angle shouldn’t use submissions: they never work.  HHH gets the rope of course.

Jericho hits the floor and grabs a chair.  HHH grabs a DDT onto it and no one cares.  Just get to the ending already.  Stephanie gets in the ring and shoves the referee down.  There’s a Pedigree for your efforts woman.  Jericho gets a chair shot to the head for two and freaks out as only he can.  Jericho tries a Pedigree and it naturally gets reversed.  He tries to come off the middle rope and the real Pedigree finally ends it.

Rating: C+. It’s ok, but that’s it. The crowd was so dead it’s not even funny and it hurt the match really badly. Had this match gone on during the middle of the show or even just switched places with Rock/Hogan, it goes up in value at least 3x. The finish was anti-climactic and while it wasn’t one of the worst WM main events of all time as it’s certainly not a bad match by any means, it’s certainly not a good main event.

Massive posing takes us out.  HHH would lose the title the next month to Hogan.

Overall Rating: C. I picked C because a C is average, which is what this show is. While it’s not terrible, it’s also not great and it falls somewhere in the middle. However, there’s too much filler which would become a problem with many of the Manias to come.

The problem here is simple: a lot of these matches either need to lose 5-10 minutes each, or be on Raw/Smackdown. Angle, Kane, Booker T and Edge all should be on WM, but their matches had next to no story to them. This is a situation in which the MITB match was a GREAT idea. All those pointless matches with wrestlers that certainly should have been on the card got thrown into a match that fit their level on the roster but also had a point to it.

Instead of getting these random one on one matches that are ok but tiring, we get one big exciting match instead. Overall the biggest issue with this show is obvious: the main event wasn’t the last match of the show and it killed the ending. If you want to make this Mania much better, don’t watch it in order and skip some of the boring stuff that no one cares about. Not bad but not great, watch it if it’s raining outside and you’re out of alcohol.

19 comments

  1. WWTNA says:

    Why was Big Show at WWF New York instead of being on the card? Was it punishment or something? BTW, good review KB.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    There was always someone there. I don’t remember him doing anything around that time anyway so probably just nothing to do otherwise.

    FunKay Reply:

    Interesting fact: Undertaker was on some sports show the day before Mania and was talking about how Show was disappointing him and that he thought that was reflected in him not being on the card.

  2. Great review as usual, KB. The HHH/Jericho main event was weak. I also hated Hall VS Austin. It was just a waste of space on a Wrestlemania card. That type of match could’ve taken place on Raw.

    Also, I thought Hogan and Austin couldn’t agree on a finish for a match, so that’s why it never took place. I think I remember reading something like this a while ago, but I’m not entirely sure if it’s true or not.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    I’d believe that, but that’s where Vince needs to step in and pay whatever either guy asks to lay down. The money for Hogan vs. Austin is too much to turn down.

  3. Hoppy says:

    So if Hogan was willing to lose to Rock, then why wouldn’t he lose to Austin? Simple, Hogan knew Rock wouldn’t overshadow him. Hogan knew that if Austin won, everything would be about Austin, not Hogan. That is my view on it.

  4. fg76 says:

    Rock vs. Hogan was better than a C. Hogan still had it, and while Rocky did carry him to a **** match; Hogan still had some great offense. He tried to do the same match with Chono the next year, and it was about **3/4 – so don’t give me that Hogan didn’t have it anymore.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    And I’d bet pretty hard that the Chono match sucked if it was the same thing.

  5. Excellent information.. Thanks for writing.

  6. dudeddude says:

    KB why on earth was this whole thing not better when you have the NWO around?

    klunderbunker Reply:

    The same reason DDP didn’t work: you can’t just throw a team or a person out there and give them the same effect as someone grown in your own company. The NWO was like three years away from its glory days at this point and almost six away from the time of just those three. Throwing them out there is like trying to balance a brick on a popsickle stick. It doesn’t hold up because there’s no support for it, despite how awesome the stuff on top may be.

    dudeddude Reply:

    So does that mean to say that given the right storylines/time/ideas they (and DDP) COULD have worked? Or was it a lost cause from the start

    klunderbunker Reply:

    I doubt it. Once Hogan turned, the whole thing was over.

  7. M.R. says:

    Why wasn’t it Austin/Hogan? Aren’t the rumors something along the lines that neither would job?

    klunderbunker Reply:

    Basically that and Austin knew that Hogan would get that kind of a reaction and didn’t want to get booed.

  8. BSE says:

    C+ for Rock vs. Hogan. Good grief man. That’s one of the best matches ever.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    No, no it’s really not.

    Jerichoholic94 Reply:

    The crowd made it a million times better than it already was. Definitely not an instant classic. Moment wise it was huge though.

    klunderbunker Reply:

    I can go with that of course.