Sunday, 3 April 2005

WWE Wrestlemania 21 - TV Review

Well, it's that time of year again. The granddaddy of them all, Wrestlemania 21, came at us from the Staples Centre deep in the heart of Hollywood, and seeing as how everyone else is writing a review of the show.....

After all the usual American back-patting, including Lillian Garcia singing America the Beautiful, it was down to business as WWE Tag-Team Champions Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio started the show. I couldn't help but feel a little disappointed for Guerrero. A year ago he was in the co-main event, and now he's in the opening match.

A good enough way to open the show, which saw Guerrero tease us with a possible heel turn several times before Mysterio eventually pinned him. Guerrero's apparent jinx continues.

Then we see a backstage meeting of the minds as it were as The Cabinet meets what's left of Evolution. The two champs play a game of one-upmanship,, and Orlando Jordan's face when he gets the trademark "whooo" from Ric Flair was the best piece of the segment.

Next up, the Money In The Bank match, and I was surprised that this was the second bout of the show. All I can say about this one is WOW! Some great stuff from all six guys here, and I was marking out like hell as my main man Chris Benoit nearly won. Damn you Edge! Damn you all to hell!

More marking out as my boy Eugene makes his first appearance in a WWE ring since his knee injury in January. Eugene begins to remember back to Wrestlemania III, and tells us how much he liked the midgets. This brings out Mohammed Hassan and Daivari, still annoyed that they aren't on the show. They proceed to whine and bitch before laying the smackdown on Eugene. This brings out the World's most famous wrestler, and now Hall of Famer, Hulk Hogan. Despite having a very dodgy knee and a plastic hip, the old boy sends Iron Sheik-lite and his cohort flying, then begins to pose for the congregation. For some reason, Eugene vanishes. It would have been nice if Hogan had given Eugene the rub the way that the Rock and others did last year.

Then it was inter-promotional time#1 as Randy Orton sought to end the Undertaker's Wrestlemania winning streak. I was surprised at how good this match was. These two certainly complimented each other very well, and Orton showed no sign of the serious shoulder injury he is apparently carrying, and while it looked like Orton might be the man to end the streak, the Dead Man came out on top after reversing Orton's Tombstone attempt and hitting one of his own to make it thirteen in a row.

Next up we saw Women's champ Trish Stratus defend the title against Playboy babe Christy Hemme. The less said about this the better. Trish won a thankfully short match. Move along, nothing to see here.

After that last debacle, it was on to a classic as Kurt Angle faced Shawn Michaels, and when I say classic, I mean classic. This will go down as one of the greatest bouts in Wrestlemania history, perhaps even rivaling a certain bout from Wrestlemania III, it was that good. After the Undertaker won the other inter-promotional match, I was a little surprised that Angle made Michaels tap to the ankle lock. But then again, when a wrestling match is this good, it doesn't matter who wins.

More marking out followed as Piper's Pit made it's return, and Roddy Piper and Steve Austin traded slaps and verbal jabs with each other. Hot Rod gets the crowd in the palm of his hands with his response to the "What?!" chants, and everything was going okay until Carlito came in and spoiled everything, but it was great to see Piper and Austin double-team the guy. But a word of warning - never take a drink from Austin if you're in a wrestling ring with him. You would have thought that these people would have learned by now.

Sumo time next as the Big Show took on sumo legend Akebono. I used to watch sumo with great interest a few years back, back when the Hawaiian Dump Truck was making a name for himself. As a spectacle, this was okay, and it wasn't surprising when Akebono got the win, but this didn't seem to belong on a show like this.

Then it was the first of the co-main events as JBL, complete with motorcade and fake money showing his likeness falling from the rafters, defended the WWE title against John Cena. Bradshaw's done a hell of a lot to add a little prestige to the WWE title during his eight month reign, and Cena certainly was a worthy contender, but this match just seemed to lack a hell of a lot. For the most part it was well executed, but it lacked spark, it lacked the passion that the story line surrounding this match should have provided. When Cena won the match, and title, after he FU'ed Bradshaw, it just didn't seem to mean that much. Hopefully the Smackdown creatives will make more of this in the upcoming weeks and months.

Then it's old timer time, and time for some more marking out as Mean Gene introduces the 2005 Hall of Fame class. It was great to see some of the stars of yesteryear get the tributes they deserved, and nice to see that Piper had recovered from his attack earlier in the show.

Main event time arrived as Triple H defended the Triple H title against his former Evolution running buddy Batista. There had been many question marks from certain areas regarding Batista's ability to handle a big match like this, and his ability to go more than ten minutes, but he must have proved some of the doubters wrong with his performance. With the help of Triple H, they put on a bout worthy of it's buildup and worthy of it's main event status. Triple H once again bled for the cause, and it seemed right when Batista took the game down with a Batista bomb to win the match and become the new Triple H Champion.

Overall conclusion - a good show, even though I was disappointed by the lack of any tag-team matches and the lack of any secondary title defences, but for the most part, Wrestlemania 21 delivered, and special mention must go to the film parody trailers. It makes you wonder just what they're going to do to promote next year's show in Chicago.