Wrestlemania Count-Up – #20: Cut Out 45 Minutes And It’s A Masterpiece

Wrestlemania 20
Date: March 14, 2004
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Attendance: 20,000
Commentators: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole, Tazz
Star Spangled Banner: Harlem Boys Choir

This just feels right. Wrestlemania is supposed to be at MSG. This show is considered to be the show where the new generation took control as Cena debuted, Eddie was defending a title, and Benoit challenged for a title. Sadly, two of them are gone now so those plans have been completely derailed.

This show is the first of the modern HOF induction shows as well as having the first smaller arena show in four years. I’m split on that actually. The smaller shows are better in the sense that it’s more personalized and there simply isn’t a place better than MSG, but the stadiums show off the spectacle more. Really depends on what you like. Anyway, let’s get to it.

The Harlem Boys Choir sings America the Beautiful and we go into the opening video. This is definitely the biggest show of all time with major matches and us at Madison Square Garden. The main event is Benoit vs. Shawn vs. HHH which has the problem of Shawn. There is zero point to having him in there but he’s there so that HHH doesn’t have to job to Benoit clean. Whatever I guess.

To end the video we see Vince, Shane and Vince’s grandson, which I believe is the first time Vince’s grandchildren have appeared on WWE programming.

US Title: John Cena vs. Big Show

Cena is the rapper at this point and hasn’t really gotten established at all at this point. He had been around a little under two years at this point and had turned mega face. You could see that he had what it took back then but he was being paced along very well. Show is champion coming into this. He was more or less worthless (yeah a stretch I know) as champion here so the ending wasn’t really in doubt.

John does his represent thing before the match starts. Dang you could see the star just trying to break out in him. He does a quick rap about Show and says Show is a gorilla. Cena’s hand is taped up so maybe he’s hurt or something. This isn’t really funny or anything but it gets the crowd going which is the point. Granted it’s a New York crowd so it’s not like it takes much work overall.

The title literally looks like a toy on Show’s shoulder. This is serious Show who has been motivated/focused lately which means he’ll lose a big match soon. Cena tries to get around the power to start which doesn’t really work at all. He gets sent to the floor and needs to rethink his strategy. Show allegedly retired Hogan in this building. Which retirement was that?

A cross body off the top by Cena of course fails as it always has against Show. Cena gets the powerslam that he deserves for being an idiot like that. He hammers away which gets him nowhere other than clotheslined down with ease. They have the picture of the current match on the opposite side from the cameras which is a cool thing to see.

Show suplexes Cena and he goes flying which makes John look like a toy. I know you hear that a lot but it’s true here. Headbutt puts Cena down and Show stands on his back. Cena hammers away but gets kicked in the face to end that. Show adds that standing legdrop that I think is called the Showstopper depending on who you listen to for two. The fans chant for Cena.

Cena tries a sleeper which is broken up rather quickly. This has more or less been all Show. Cobra Clutch by Show and Cena is in trouble. Naturally he just lets it go to put it right back on. Cena fights back with right hands and takes the knee out to send Show’s face into the buckle. FU gets two and Cena isn’t sure what to do now. Cena grabs the chain he brought with him but throws it down to distract the referee. The knuckles he carried with him also winds up going upside Show’s head and Cena has his first title.

Rating: C-. Basic big man vs. little man match here but at the same time, not much going on with it at all. Show dominated and Cena hit like three moves to take over and win the thing. That being said, the fans were into Cena which is the whole point. Not bad but kind of generic overall.

Coach is in the back and runs into some random people that aren’t important before saying hi to Teddy Long. He goes into Bischoff’s office to find he and Johnny Spade. Spade had just gotten a name change from Johnny Blaze. A few weeks later he was Johnny Nitro, and a few years later he was John Morrison. Didn’t realize he’d been there that long. Coach is told to go find the Undertaker, who was redebuting for the 58th time tonight.

Evolution minus HHH is in the back and Orton says he’s going to become a hardcore legend. As a former OVW Hardcore Champion, he’s well on his way. He never did that, but he got close a month later at Backlash. If you haven’t seen that match, go do so immediately. Well worth the 15 minutes it takes up. Anyway we see a clip of Orton hurting Foley back in June as this was almost a year long storyline. Oh and he’s IC Champion. The idea is that Foley is scared of Orton but has a backbone now. Oh and Rock is with him for a handicap match. That always helps.

Raw Tag Titles: Rob Van Dam/Booker T vs. Garrison Cade/Mark Jindrak vs. La Resistance vs. Dudley Boys

Wow. You can see the division dying as we speak. The Dudleyz would more or less be gone in four months, save for the One Night Stand main event. We then have the one decent tag team on the brand at the time, and then two generic guys packaged as a “team”. RVD and Booker are your odd combination tag team. This is one fall to a finish. The remix of RVD and Booker’s songs was really quite bad.

Dupree vs. Van Dam to start us off here. Booker comes in quickly and gets a superkick to Renee for two. Bubba is tagged in. Why would you tag out here if it’s one fall to a finish? The Dudleys are faces for this week. The fans already want tables. At least they’re patient as they waited a full minute before starting that chant here.

Ross thinks Booker is a young man. That’s rather amusing. Bubba tries to do the suck on this deal and gets kicked in the face for his efforts. This is more or less RVD/Booker vs. the Dudleys with two other teams in the background. Jindrak gets two on Booker. It’s Garrison Cade at this point too. Who thought that would be a good name? I mean dude, Garrison Cade? Really?

Dupree comes in and La Resistance takes over for a bit. It’s Dupree/Conway in this form of La Resistance as that team changed every few months. No real reason given for why these teams are in here but does it really matter? The fans chant for USA while Conway, the American, is in there. Conway gets an elbow for two, which JR says was opportunistic. How? Isn’t that like doing his job?

Conway uses a bow and arrow hold for awhile to kill some time. Spinebuster gets Booker out of trouble. Wow Van Dam was in a good amount of worthless tag teams. RVD comes in and cleans house. The Five Star is blocked as D-Von shoves him off the top. Everything breaks down and it’s Booker (illegal) vs. D-Von (also illegal). 3D is broken up by Cade and then an axe kick sets up the Five Star on Conway for the champions to retain.

Rating: D. Totally boring match here that should have been on Raw. The division if you want to call it that was completely dead by this point and nothing was going to save it. The titles needed to be unified back then but wouldn’t be until 2010. Weak match that had no need to be on Mania in the slightest.

In the basement, the Coach hears noises coming from behind a door and opens it to find Gene Okerlund trying to get dressed. He tries to explain why he’s there and Bobby Heenan stumbles out half dressed as well. Coach says it’s not what you think. There was a poker game according to Heenan. Moolah and Mae pop out and drag the guys back in where frightening sounds are heard. One of my all time favorite segments.

We recap Christian vs. Jericho which was a great storyline. This started with Jericho and Christian betting a Canadian Dollar that Jericho could sleep with Trish before Christian could sleep with Lita. Trish found out about the bet and got all ticked off. Jericho fell for Trish and Christian tried to get his head back on straight. This led to Christian vs. Trish with Christian hurting Trish. Tonight is the grudge match. This was a great buildup and the video has me wanting to see the match years later. That’s a really good sign.

Christian vs. Chris Jericho

 

I guess Lita was just dropped from this after awhile for reasons unknown. They lock up for a bit and then Jericho is like screw it and takes Christian down with right hands. Clothesline takes him down again. Christian sends him to the apron but gets backdropped to the floor. All Jericho in the opening few minutes and we get a big Y2J chant.

Jericho hits that springboard cross body to the floor and then sends Christian into the barricade. Back in and Christian’s sunset flip attempt is countered into the Walls. They’re not applied though and Christian is able to get a thumb to the eye and then dump Jericho to the floor. Christian chokes away and talks trash to Jericho at the same time. He’s multi-tasking I guess.

Knee to the ribs by Christian as the fans are surprisingly quiet here. They don’t seem bored though and are instantly back into it when Christian hits a chinlock. I guess they’re interested here. Christian pulls some of Jericho’s hair out which gets him two. Ah the old hair attack. Haven’t seen that in years. Back to the chinlock but Jericho tries for the Walls again and again they don’t work.

Christian chokes away but Jericho fights back. Off to a neck crank for a second but Jericho is taken down by the hair as he tries to escape. Hey here’s another chinlock. Walls are attempted again and again fails. Spinwheel kick gets two on Jericho. Jericho gets a forearm and a knee to the back as he’s starting a comeback. Running enziguri gets two.

Rollup by both guys gets two and Christian’s had a handful of ropes. Northern Lights Suplex by Jericho gets two. Lionsault attempt winds up eating knees but the Unprettier can’t hit either. Reverse tornado DDT out of the corner gets two for Christian. They’re moving a lot more out there now. Backbreaker by Christian and he goes up. Jericho is slammed off and Christian hits a cross body which is rolled through for two by Jericho.

Christian throws on a Texas Cloverleaf and Jericho is in trouble. This is the first time they’ve had a bit of a break in a good while. Jericho breaks that and tries the Walls for the fourth time which doesn’t work either. He finally gets them on the fifth try but on the floor. As Christian tries to get back in he gets caught in a double underhook suplex off the top for two.

And here comes Trish. I’m pretty sure you know how this is going to end but she looks great in a tied off shirt so I can’t complain. Edgecution by Christian gets a long two. Christian drags Trish in and shoves her down. Trish “accidentally” nails Jericho and Christian gets a rollup and the win with it.

Rating: B. Decent match but it could have been a lot more. This was a match where the buildup was better than the match. The feud would continue for a good while though and it continued to be rather solid. Fun stuff here and pure popcorn soap opera stuff which is usually a good combination.

Post match Trish slaps Jericho, turning heel and leaves with Christian. The crowd is PISSED. Trish and Christian kiss to a big reaction as they leave.

Now we get to one of the more entertaining part of the show. Foley is talking about being nervous about having his first match in four years but Rock pops up and cuts him off. He talks about how there’s no reason to be nervous because everyone knows what’s coming. Hurricane and Rosey know it. Don Muraco and Jimmy Snuka know it.

But most importantly the people know it. Make sure you get a shot of the people. Rock says let’s go take care of Evolution, if you smell what the Rock (Foley: and Sock) IS COOKING! Funny promo.

Evolution vs. The Rock/Mick Foley

Now this has an interesting backstory to it. Back in December, Orton was on his Legend Killer gimmick and called out Foley. Foley got ready to fight him but at the last minute bailed out, allowing Orton to spit on him and walk out of the arena, branding him as a coward. At the Royal Rumble, Orton had made a long run but Foley entered at #21 and beat the crap out of Orton.

The problem with this was that when you go after Orton, you get all of Evolution. Except HHH who had more important things to do than fight two first ballot Hall of Famers. This made it 3-1, so Foley needed help. Rock returns to help his friend, and we get this as the end result. If you ever want to see the match that almost single handedly got Batista and Orton over, this is it. It was them being in there with the big boys and we could see what they can do.

I love the old school vs. new school dynamic here. The Rock N Sock Connection hit the ring and the fight is on. Rock vs. Batista is really weird to see. How weird is it that Rock retired younger than Foley? Rock vs. Flair is something that is just awesome to look at and it officially starts us off here. Rock does Flair’s strut and they lock up.

Out to the floor and Flair slips a thumb into the eye. That gets him nowhere as he gets slammed on the floor and Foley adds an elbow off the apron. Off to Orton now and Foley wants in. Orton bails but Foley somehow catches him and the beating is on. Back in with Foley in control. Rock comes in and punches Orton in the balls and then Flair smacks him in the back of the head.

Rock fights off Evolution but gets caught by Batista on the floor with the power game. Off to Orton vs. Rock in the ring now with Orton hammering away. Make that Batista. He’s not as big as he would get but still gets two off an elbow drop. Flair comes in now and throws chops in the corner. He tries to strut and gets his head taken off by a running clothesline. Well why mess with the basics?

Like an idiot, Flair goes up and gets slammed down. Why is anyone surprised at that? Off to Batista who hammers away. The crowd being all attentive is weird. Rock gets a clothesline to Batista and it’s off to Foley now. Double arm DDT is blocked and it’s a slug out. Running knee in the corner is stopped by a clothesline though. That’s a popular move in this match isn’t it?

On the floor Foley grabs the Claw on Orton out of nowhere. This is a good match so it’s hard to make jokes here. For the 1000th time in his career Foley’s knees slam into the steps with a LOUD bang. Orton in now who hammers away even more. Make that Flair who chops Foley down and then they slug it out. Foley takes him down but Orton comes in for a chinlock/face pull to stop Foley.

Batista comes in as Evolution keeps up that fast tagging. He starts the ground and pound on Foley but Mick slips a hand up and grabs the Claw to break it up. Orton comes in for the save and they keep tagging in and out very quickly. Swinging neckbreaker to Batista buys Foley some time and a double clothesline buys him even more time.

Flair comes in to break up the tag but a shot to the head is enough to bring in Rock who cleans house. DDTs and right hands all around but a Batista spinebuster takes him down. And now Flair wants to do the People’s Elbow. Rock nips up while Flair struts and drills him. There’s a spinebuster for Flair and it’s the REAL People’s Elbow, complete with Rock’s 8th strut of the match.

RKO doesn’t work but the Rock Bottom does. Flair makes a last second save and then SPRINTS around the ring to grab a chair. Batista Bomb to Rock which gets two for Orton. Rock manages to bring in Foley and he finally gets his hands on Orton. Foley loads up Socko but takes too long and Orton grabs a quick RKO for the pin. Foley sits up afterwards which I like as it makes it look like Foley got stunned but not knocked out. And that my friends, is how you put people over.

Rating: A. This wasn’t so much a great match but rather a work of art out there. They knew what they were doing and the two old masters made stars out of young guys. This is what you’re supposed to do out there as the old guys look great as well and like I said, it was a quick win rather than a dominating one. The key thing there though was that it was a win. Great stuff and worth seeing for what it means to put someone over.

Rock and Foley get a standing ovation as they deserve.

This year’s HOF class is honored. No big name here except Jesse Ventura. Next year it really picks up though. Heenan breaking up over wishing Monsoon was there with him is a very touching moment. Harley Race and Tito Santana go in too. teases running for President in 2008.

They bring them out into the arena to have Mean Gene do the presentations to the crowd. The full list is Bobby Heenan (can barely talk due to throat cancer. The fans chant weasel and Heenan’s reaction is of course hilarious), Tito Santana (one of the most underrated guys ever despite being considered great), Big John Studd (dead, his son is here), Harley Race (one of the best heels ever), Pete Rose (deserves to be in due to what he did at Mania. He was said to be incredibly gracious about being in so I can live with this).

Back to the wrestlers with Don Muraco (took the Snuka Splash that apparently every wrestler ever was inspired by), Great Valentine (gets one of the biggest pops surprisingly enough. Looks JUST like he did in the ring and still does to this day as far as I know), Junkyard Dog (Also dead, his daughter is here for him. It was her high school graduation that he died on the way home from), Billy Graham (perhaps the most influential heel of all time), Sgt. Slaughter (go watch the Alley Fight with Pat Patterson. Incredible fight), and Jesse Ventura (do I need to explain this one?

What’s the best way to follow that up? With this of course:

Sable/Torrie Wilson vs. Miss Jackie/Stacy Keibler

Instead of the traditional rules, this is pinfall. Blast it. This is happening because Torrie/Sable are in Playboy. Sable was doing a weird lesbian kind of thing at the time with Torrie, which is odd because Torrie had just come off a lesbian angle with Dawn, which ended apparently in her screwing Dawn.

Sable requests they all start in their underwear. Taz and Cole are cracking up over a joke Taz makes. It actually was funny and tells me these guys are funny in real life. I’m trying not to pay attention here as this is depressing. Torrie and Sable win.

Rating: F. I hate these things. They’re a total waste of time, we’ve seen the girls like this before, and it’s nothing special at all. Total waste of about 9 minutes.

We get some clips from Axxess.

Eddie comes in to talk to Benoit who is very nervous to say the least. He says that win or lose, he’ll be proud of Chris. Benoit says he won’t lose. Eddie says no one really expects Benoit to win, more or less sealing his title win. Benoit says he’s proud of Eddie for winning the WWE Title and Eddie starts laughing. He wants Benoit to get fired up and Benoit is. Tonight they both walk out world champions.

Cruiserweight Title: Cruiserweight Open

This is a ten man gauntlet match. Think Tag Team Turmoil with the champion, Chavo Jr., going tenth. Everyone stands at ringside so I’ll just list them off as they go in. Rey comes out last and is the Flash this year. Ultimo Dragon vs. Shannon Moore to start and they’re moving out there, getting three two counts in maybe 40 seconds. Back suplex by Shannon gets two. Whisper in the Wind by Moore misses and Dragon hits the Asai DDT (sets for a Stunner but backflips over Shannon to slam the back of his head into the mat. Looks great) for the pin. I hope this isn’t a pattern.

Jamie Noble is in third and he jumps Dragon to take an early advantage. Dragon unleashes the kicks but misses a moonsault. A neckbreaker by Noble sets up a guillotine choke by Noble to get rid of Dragon.

Funaki comes in and is rolled up and pinned in 4 seconds. I hate these kind of matches for stupid stuff like these last two eliminations. This would never happen in a regular match and makes Funaki and Dragon look like blundering morons.

Nunzio comes in next and begs off instead of charging, which I think is logical here. They trade some holds and Nunzio gets a victory roll for two. Big kick gets two for Nunzio. He tries an O’Connor Roll but Noble ducks to send him to the floor. Noble dives on him with a front flip to put both guys down and Nunzio is counted out.

Billy Kidman is in now and Nunzio trips Noble. Kidman climbs the ropes and throws a Shooting Star Press but underrotates and lands ON TOP OF HIS HEAD! That gets two in the ring and Noble grabs that guillotine again. It’s easily reversed and Kidman adds a running enziguri. He tries the Shooting Star again but Noble runs up to block it. Short powerbomb off the middle ropes gets rid of Noble though as that might have been the longest fall at just under two minutes.

Rey comes in and gets half killed by a dropkick. He gets whipped in and baseball slides between Kidman’s legs while on his back. Kind of awesome. Kidman takes over after some interference from Tajiri’s friend Akio for no apparent reason. They go to the corner and Mysterio gets a sunset bomb to end Kidman.

Tajiri in next and he grabs the Tarantula very quickly. Handspring elbow is blocked by a dropkick and there’s the 619. Akio interferes again and winds up taking the mist to the face. Rey grabs a rollup to end Tajiri.

Akio can’t fight because of the mist. Whatever.

Tajiri kicks Rey in the head and it’s down to Chavo and Mysterio. Rey avoids a charge and gets a rana to take over. Down goes Chavo Senior via a baseball slide. The referee won’t let Rey dive on him though. Dang it give us our injured senior citizens! Ok he’s in his mid 50s here but he looks about 80. Rey is like screw it and dives over the referee to crush Chavo Senior. He tries a sunset flip but Chavo grabs the hand of his son to get the pin to retain. So Chavo pinned Rey in about 1:50? Got it.

Rating: D+. That’s overall. The problem here is simple: they went through it WAY too fast and it was impossible to get into any of the matches. These things need like 30 minutes to work which is why you never see them. This would have been WAY better as a fatal fourway but since both tag titles are in that format we had this. Not a fan of these at all because they make the guys in them look far too beatable.

We recap Goldberg vs. Brock. Goldberg was #30 in the Rumble and was being interviewed prior to the match. Lesnar got annoyed that he wasn’t being interviewed since he was WWE Champion at the time. He came in and beat up Goldberg in the Rumble so that Angle could eliminate him after Goldberg was dominating. Austin gave Goldberg a ticket to No Way Out and said don’t do anything he wouldn’t do. Goldberg speared Brock and Eddie won the title because of it (great match if you’ve never seen it).

Austin was named guest referee and then Lesnar popped up and gave Austin an F5. This basically turned into Austin vs. Lesnar instead with Goldberg being on the side. Lesnar stole Austin’s four wheeler and ticking Austin off. Austin beat Lesnar up and took it back, which totally took the spotlight off of Goldberg to eventually set up Brock vs. Austin.

However, this was Lesnar’s last WWE match s he went to the NFL and then the UFC, which made Austin more or less pointless here. Oh and it’s Goldberg’s last match too. Think they’re going to give it that old college try and work as hard as they can? If so, you’re not that smart.

Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar

Let the chanting begin! The shorts on Goldberg never looked right. They stand around for about 20 seconds and we get to the far more interesting part of this match: the crowd. Almost immediately we get a YOU SOLD OUT chant directed at Lesnar. It’s one of the loudest you’ll ever hear outside of Philly and it shakes the guys up it seems. The announcers actually acknowledge it which is saying a lot.

Make that a minute of standing around. There’s the Goodbye Song as they’ve literally stood there staring at each other for a minute and a half. Ross tells us Lesnar is gone and they shout F Bombs at each other. Two minutes with zero contact at all. Now the fans chant for Austin, likely wanting him to Stun them both and just end it at that. Two and a half minutes now. This is all considered part of the match mind you.

At 2:45 they lock up. Amusingly enough Goldberg is called a mixed martial arts aficionado. They go down to their knees in a lockup. That eats up literally 45 seconds and it’s back to staring at each other. We’re four minutes into a thirteen and a half minute match and the total amount of contact is 45 seconds, literally all of which is on a lockup. Think about paying a ticket to see this, one of the feature matches, and getting this. They deserve the crowd reaction they’re getting.

They lock up again and that eats up almost 30 more seconds. The crowd chants THIS MATCH SUCKS and they’re right. The first offensive move of the match comes five minutes in (and yes I’m counting via a counter on the video) with a headlock by Lesnar that goes nowhere. They exchange shoulder blocks and then knock each other down with them. We’re 6:30 into this now and the move list in its entirety is: tie up, tie up, head lock, Goldberg shoulder block, Lesnar shoulder block, double shoulder block.

FINALLY things pick up a bit as Lesnar kicks away. Goldberg is like screw that and press slams him, bringing him down with a half spear/half spinebuster. The regular spear misses though and Goldberg goes chest first into the post. We hit the floor for some Lesnar dominance. I guess that was all the offense Goldberg had in him. The fans aren’t that impressed and tell Goldberg that he sucks.

Back in now and Lesnar really upgrades his offense with a suplex. Into a headlock with an arm trap. This is terrible. This eats up about a minute until Goldberg flips him to ZERO pop. Oh hey let’s go right back to the hold again because it worked so well the first time. Then they ram into each other again and are both down. The fans are pissed here by the way.

Ross calls the match pedestrian. No Ross, taking a walk would be way more interesting than this. The fans boo the heck out of it as Goldberg makes his comeback. The crowd is chanting for Hogan. In 2004. Wow. Spinning neckbreaker sets up the spear for two. Yeah back then they wanted to drop the Jackhammer because the company was really stupid. F5 hits out of nowhere for two as well. Lesnar misses the spear and then the spear and Jackhammer ends it to make Goldberg 1-0!

Rating: F. This was a disgrace. I don’t care if you’re leaving or not, you don’t do it that way. No excuse for this whatsoever.

Austin, who did NOTHING in the match, stuns both guys post match to try and keep the fans from storming the ring to kill the guys in the match.

WM 21 is in LA.

Vince comes out and says there’s someone that should be thanked for Mania making it to #20. He then amazes even me, perhaps the most jaded wrestling fan there is and he thanks the fans. This amazed me to no end when I saw it and it still does today. Love him or hate him, this was pure class right here.

Smackdown Tag Titles: Rikishi/Scotty 2 Hotty vs. APA vs. World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. Basham Brothers

More filler here before we get to the real main events. This is one fall to a finish again. The APA was more or less worthless by this point. I didn’t even know they were still together in 04. Bradshaw would be world champion in the summer. Rikishi and Scotty have the titles coming in here. Bradshaw vs. Benjamin to start us off here.

After JBL takes Shelton down for awhile, Doug Basham tags himself in and I just do not care at this point. Absolutely nothing of note is going on here. Haas vs. Scotty at the moment. Crowd simply does not care either and it’s obvious. Bearhug to Scotty but a Basham comes in for the…save? Scotty is the face in peril I guess. He gets an enziguri but kicks Doug into Danny to keep Scotty from making the tag again.

Off to Rikishi who cleans house. I think he was supposed to be the grizzled veteran that could beat up just about anyone in the match. They pushed him like that for awhile and it didn’t work incredibly well. German attempt by Benjamin but the power of fat sends him to the floor. Haas gets a Stinkface for not funny comedy. Bradshaw comes in to clean house but walks into a Samoan Drop and then Rikishi drops down onto Danny to retain.
Rating: D. Pointless filler. These teams were worthless by this point anyway as they were all on the verge of breaking up. Shelton was in the IC title hunt within a year, JBL debuted that Summer, the Bashams were fired soon thereafter and no one ever cared about Rikishi and Scotty anyway. Total waste of time.

Edge is coming back.

Jesse Ventura is with Donald Trump at ringside. This was when the Apprentice was still a hot show so Trump was a celebrity here. I don’t like him but you have to admit, the guy apparently likes wrestling as this was the 4th show he was a part of. Jesse implies he’ll run for President someday, getting a big pop.

Women’s Title: Victoria vs. Molly Holly

This is belt vs. hair with Victoria as champion. Victoria got hotter every time I saw her. The crowd is already more into this than they were for the entire previous match. Molly works the arm to control but gets rolled up for two. Suplex gets two for Molly. Molly is a virgin and wears big underwear which is the focal point of the match. She uses really basic stuff and it’s rather boring. Sunset Bomb gets two and then Molly tries the Widow’s Peak. That doesn’t work and Victoria gets a backslide to retain.

Rating: D+. Short and pretty dull. The real thing here was the shaved diva which doesn’t really do much as the stipulation was more or less just thrown on. Lack of an interesting match for the most part but at least Victoria looked good in those little white shorts.

Head shaving ensues.

We recap Eddie vs. Angle. The idea in short is Eddie is a former drug addict and Kurt says that means he shouldn’t represent Smackdown. The idea is that Eddie is in over his head and Heyman, the Smackdown GM, is against Eddie too for no apparent reason.

During the video package, Molly is still being shaved.
Smackdown Title: Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle

They lock up in the first minute, already far ahead of Lesnar vs. Goldberg as far as pacing goes. We start with some mat stuff where Eddie is talented but in over his head. Angle takes him down with a judo throw and grabs a headlock. Let’s go Angle/Angle Sucks chants begin dueling. Angle runs him over with a shoulder and it’s a standoff.

Eddie gets a set of shoulder blocks and Angle hits the floor to clear his head. Back in and Angle takes it back to the mat which is where he’s definitely in control for the most part. Front facelock goes on to drain some energy out of the champion. Eddie escapes and we go back to the mat again with Eddie controlling a keylock. This is well done stuff as they’re definitely keeping things interesting out there for this.

Knee to the ribs takes Eddie down and it’s off to an abdominal stretch. Eddie reverses and tries Three Amigos but can only get one as Kurt gets a German. Out to the apron and Angle of course can’t get the German to the floor because it would, you know, kill Eddie. Eddie knocks him to the floor and dives out at Angle but misses, hitting the barrier chest first. That gets two back in the ring.

Angle works on the ribs/midsection even more, eventually hot shotting Eddie onto the top rope for two. Belly to belly sends Eddie flying. Another gets two and it’s back to the ribs. Angle shifts it into a bearhug and then into a belly to belly for two. Middle rope belly to belly is blocked as is the running belly to belly. Frog Splash misses and Eddie’s momentum is gone just as fast as it arrived.

Kurt hammers away as Cole calls him a hypocrite for talking about how Eddie is a disgrace. Eddie shrugs it off and wants more shots. He fires back and gets a little momentum going. A charge in the corner misses and Eddie gets a belly to back suplex for two. Eddie still can’t get Three Amigos and it’s Rolling German time. The second is reversed into a rollup for two and then Angle drills Eddie to take him right back down again.

Angle Slam is countered and Eddie speeds things up a bit. Three Amigos are attempted again and again Kurt counters after a second one. Ankle Lock goes on for a bit but not that long. Dropkick puts Kurt down but as Eddie goes for the Frog Splash Angle gets the running belly to belly two. After a rollup gets two Eddie is caught in a German for two.

Another counter to the Angle Slam, this one in the form of a DDT sets up the Frog Splash for two. Has that ever happened before? Angle plays possum and picks the ankle out of nowhere into the ankle lock. Again he manages to send Kurt to the floor and Eddie is unlacing his boot. Angle doesn’t see this and comes right back with the ankle lock. Eddie kicks the hold off and the boot goes off with it. He grabs a small package on the confused Kurt (and wraps his feet around the ropes to cheat a bit) to retain in a brilliant ending.

Rating: A. Excellent stuff here. There’s definitely a story here with Eddie going move for move with Angle but in the end going back to his roots to pick up the upset. Also look at the intelligence that Eddie shows at the end by playing possum just like Kurt did seconds before to beat Angle as he goes just a step too far to retain the title. Go find this match and watch it. You’ll learn something.

We recap Taker vs. Kane. Kane had buried Taker yet again. This time it was over Taker turning into the American tough guy and ceasing to be a monster. I guess the tag title run they had together didn’t count? At the Rumble a Taker Gong went off to scare the heck out of Kane and the distraction let Booker put him out. This kept happening until it was announced his return would be here at Mania.

Undertaker vs. Kane

 

Yeah the build here isn’t quite as good as their first Mania match. Taker gets the full on Mania entrance, complete with darkness, chanting, fire, druids, and PAUL BEARER!!! Taker’s hair isn’t even to his shoulders here so the look is a bit off. Oh and he wears a cowboy hat now. Kane is all scared to death here and shouts that Taker isn’t real. He reaches out and touches Taker (there’s an old commercial in there somewhere) and Taker hammers away.

Kane hides on the floor and Taker starts his usual stuff. The ending is so obvious here it’s unreal. Some corner clotheslines put Kane down but the Last Ride is blocked. They mess up the reverse back body drop as they’re about three feet away from the ropes. Taker does some ground and pound but walks into a sidewalk slam. Top rope clothesline gets two.

They slug it out which of course Taker wins. Kane misses a charge in the corner and a running big boot puts Kane down. Old School is caught by a chokeslam and Kane stops to laugh. Taker sits up, Kane panics and I think you know what’s going to end the match.

Rating: D. This was pretty bad. Taker completely squashed Kane here, which to be fair is more or less Kane’s job. Not much of a match at all although that’s what the people wanted I think. Taker has been the same character since this point for the most part and this was the beginning of the modern Taker.

We recap the Raw World Title match. HHH is champion, Benoit won the Rumble and should get the one on one shot. However, at the Rumble Shawn and HHH tied in a Last Man Standing match so Shawn says he should get another shot. Always thought that was nonsense. Shawn had his chance, but he didn’t win. It shouldn’t be him again. Anyway he signed the contract anyway so Austin made it a triple threat. The video more or less shows Shawn as a heel because he just wouldn’t let Benoit have his moment.

Raw World Title: Chris Benoit vs. HHH vs. Shawn Michaels

 

Surprisingly normal entrance for HHH here although he’s wearing white boots. We even get a weapons check which you never see anymore. Everyone goes after everyone to start us off here with Shawn avoiding a Crossface. HHH to the floor and the others slug it out. He comes back in when he thinks it’s best as we’re in a slow build here.

DX explodes for a bit and the fans think someone screwed Bret. Leaping knee gets two. Some nice tandem stuff lets Shawn hit a moonsault off the top to the floor to take everyone out. HHH and Shawn go back to the ring now with Benoit out on the floor. Facebuster to Shawn but he can’t hit the Pedigree as Chris saves. Shawn’s shoulder goes into the post and Benoit hits a snap suplex on HHH.

With Benoit in the Tree of Woe HHH throws Shawn into him in a cool spot. Shawn nips up so Benoit knocks him to the floor. Benoit hits Rolling Germans on the Game Shawn stops the headbutt and HHH takes him down with a DDT. Superplex by HHH gets two on Benoit. Make that three twos. The fans like Benoit here. Pedigree is reversed into a bad Crossface which Shawn breaks up.

Rolling Germans by Shawn are booed and reversed into a set by Benoit. Headbutt to Shawn gets two. Forearm and nipup by Shawn but there’s no one else in the ring. HHH comes in and gets beaten on for a bit. Elbow hits and the Band is Tuned Up. The kick connects but Benoit saves. Shawn vs. Benoit now with Shawn being launched into the post to bust him open. Terrible Crossface to Shawn and HHH grabs his arm before he can tap.

Benoit and HHH hit the floor for some brawling while Shawn is down. HHH sends him into the steps and preps the announce table. Just the Smackdown one though, not the Spanish one. Benoit, ever the traditionalist, puts HHH on the Spanish one. German is blocked as it the Pedigree. Shawn pops up and DX suplexes/drops Benoit through the SD table in a cool visual.

Back in the ring now it’s Shawn vs. HHH. They slug it out with neither guy taking over. HHH is sent to the floor and a cameraman is taken out. Ross wants an EMT for Benoit. HHH gets posted (without spam) and is busted as well. Pedigree out of NOWHERE is the counter to some punches. Somehow Benoit makes the save and the crowd pops like a cherry.

Benoit chops away but HHH grabs a Pedigree attempt which is reversed into a long Sharpshooter in an eruption. Shawn kicks Chris’ head off though which somehow only gets two. Ross’ voice is almost gone here. Loud Benoit chant starts up as Shawn Tunes Up the Band. Benoit backdrops him to the floor and walks into another Pedigree attempt. Benoit counters that into a Crossface with HHH in agony. HHH rolls backwards but Benoit hangs on and HHH taps, giving Benoit the World Title in the main event of Wrestlemania.

Rating: A+. Great match, everything clicked, absolute classic. There’s nothing else I can say here.

Eddie comes out to celebrate with Benoit in a classic Wrestlemania moment.

Overall Rating: B. This is good but the length starts to get old after awhile. At 4 ½ hours long it needs about an hour cut off to be a classic. Still though with two great world title matches and some other good stuff in there it’s hard to argue. Also we get a legit Mania moment to end the show which is never a bad thing. Good show and worth seeing, but be ready to fast forward some stuff.

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