KELLER'S WWE WRESTLEMANIA REPORT
APRIL 5, 2009
LIVE ON PAY-PER-VIEW
A -- PRIMO & CARLITO beat MIZ & JOHN MORRISON to unify the World and WWE Tag Team Titles. Disappointing that this didn't air on the PPV show. This was my pick as a sleeper match of the night, but having the tag titles unified and not even air it on the main PPV card really shows where the tag titles fit in WWE's list of priorities.
-A really cool video montage opened the event with various wrestlers on the roster picking their favorite WrestleMania moment and match. Hogan-Andre, Michaels-Razor, Owen-Bret, and other obvious picks by a variety of wrestlers.
-After Nicole Scherzinger sang "America the Beautiful," Jim Ross introduced the show. Michael Cole then took over and spoke about the Money in the Bank ladder match. He introduced Jerry Lawler, rounding out what appears is going to be a three-man announce team. Not sure about this. If Ross and Cole trade off doing the play-by-play each match with the other offering supporting comments and questions, that's fine. If they try to share play-by-play all night, that could be messy.
1 -- C.M. PUNK vs. MARK HENRY (w/Tony Atlas) vs. M.V.P. vs. FINLAY (w/Hornswoggle) vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. KOFI KINGSTON vs. CHRISTIAN vs. KANE -- Money in the Bank Ladder match
The order of entry is reflected in the above line listing the competitors. The bell rang and everyone went at it, most of them ending up at ringside as Kane battled Mark Henry. As Shelton and Christian held onto a ladder, Kofi dropkicked it into both of them, then legdropped the ladder in a move that, with a basic understanding physics, was going to hurt Kofi much more than Christian and Shelton who were under it on either end. Finlay was about to climb the ladder when Kane kicked him in the face. Kane and Henry climbed the ladder. The rest of the wrestlers ran into the ring and yanked them down. Shelton, Punk, MVP, Kofi, and Finlay climbed two side-by-side ladders. Henry and Kane knocked them over. Kane then gave Henry a big boot, then threw one of the ladders out of the ring. When Kane climbed the ladder, Henry recovered and knocked the ladder over. Kane took a cautious bump onto the top rope. When Finlay entered the ring Henry threw the ladder at him. The ladder flew to ringside and almost hit the announcers. Finlay dove through the ropes onto Kane and Shelton. Christian then leaped from inside the ring onto both Kane and Finlay at ringside. I half expected a commercial break at this point.
MVP stood on the ring apron and played to the crowd, then flip dove onto Kane, Finlay, and Christian. Kofi and Punk squared off in the ring. They agreed to work together and hit the wrestlers on the floor with stereo shoulder tackles. Shelton climbed a ladder at ringside - the jumbo-sized one - and then flip dove onto the crowd of wrestlers on the floor. That prompted the first "holy sh--"! chant of the night. That was crazy looking. Henry then climbed the ropes. Before he could shock the world with a flip dive, Finlay hit him with a shillelagh. Hornswoggle used a small ladder to climb in the corner. Finlay then launched Hornswoggle off of the back of Henry onto the crowd of all other wrestlers on the floor. Finlay hit Henry with the step ladder. Finlay set up the ladder mid-ring. Kofi leaped into Finlay with a dropkick under the ladder, then knocked the ladder onto Finlay in the corner. Fans chanted "Kofi, Kofi." Finlay threw the step ladder into a flying Kofi. Punk re-entered the ring and went after Finlay. Finlay used a step ladder as a weapon to clear the ring and ring apron. He set up the taller ladder and began climbing it. Kofi knocked him down with a 360 degree roundhouse kick to the head.
Kofi climbed the ladder, but Henry tipped it over easily. Henry then set the ladder against the top rope, headbutted Kofi, and then set up the ladder. In a sweet spot, Kofi climbed the ladder before Henry could even set up it. He used Henry as the base for the ladder to hold it up. As he grasped toward the ladder, Henry shoved the ladder aside, caught Kofi and powerslammed him onto the lader. As Henry climbed the ladder, MVP hit him from behind with the ladder with a jab. MVP then stomped away at Henry and climbed the ladder. Shelton quickly stopped MVP. MVP went for a suplex on a ladder he bridged in the ring over the top rope. Shelton escaped and leaped off the ladder at MVP. MVP caught him and powerbombed him. The crowd chanted "MVP, MVP" as if it were Staples Center for a Laker game. Punk met MVP on the other side. Christian yanked MVP down. Punk kicked Christian away from him. Christian climbed the ladder behind Punk. Punk stood on the bridged ladder and set up a move. Christian escaped and gave Punk the Unprettier off the bridge. Christian sold it as much as Punk. It was a pretty awkward bump.
In the ring MVP climbed the ladder. Shelton climbed a ladder leaning against the ring at ringside, then moved to the bridged lader, and then went for a sunset flip on MVP off the ladder. That didn't go as expected as MVP held on too long and they fell backwards awkwardly. They were thankfully okay, and a "You f---ed up!" chant rang out from jerks in the crowd. Shelton then lifted MVP powerbomb style and tossed him onto several wrestlers at ringside. Finlay and Shelton climbed opposite sides of a ladder. Shelton knocked Finlay off the ladder and he bumped onto the bridged ladder. Christian yanked Shelton down and then unbridged the ladder and set it up next to another ladder for no logical reason strategically. Christian climbed the ladder that was set up. Shelton climbed the other. They battled on one ladder and it tipped over. Shelton fell to the floor as Christian landed on the top rope with hit foot, then pushed the ladder back upright. Cool spot. Punk leaped onto the ladder to try to stop Christian. Christian knocked him backwards and Punk hung from his ankle. Kane climbed a ladder and battled Christian. Kane sorta chokeslammed Christian off the ladder. He more so put his arm on his neck and Christian leaped off the ladder. Punk righted himself and grabbed the briefcase. Kane grabbed Punk's throat. Punk kicked himself free with a series of roundkicks, sending Kane to the floor. Punk then unfastened the briefcase to win it again!
WINNER: Punk in 14:00.
STAR RATING: ****1/4 -- Non-stop creative action with what could be considered a surprise outcome. Punk makes history as the first two-time winner. The crowd was in it all the way. The wrestlers really came through by making it new again with some creative spots. Not every spot was smooth, but I never hold that against wrestlers in a match where they're obviously being creative, as even if it were "real" mistakes would happen in the midst of exchanges between wrestlers. If it's too smooth, it looks more choreographed. That said, you don't want too many botched spots. In this case, they pulled off most of them, with good teases of the finish thrown in.
-They showed two minutes of highlights of the WWE Fan Axxess in Houston over the weekend.
-Kid Rock performed live on the entrance stage. He performed a medley of songs including "All Summer Long" which samples "Sweet Home Alabama" and Warren Zevon's "Werewolves of London." It was a big hit. He's enough of a showman and they had a cool set-up on stage that it was actually all right for a wrestling PPV. These usually bomb badly, but the crowd didn't overwhelm him with boos. Mostly cheers, in fact. Lawler said: "My favorite rock group is Mount Rushmore."
2 -- TWENTY-FIVE DIVA BATTLE ROYAL
They went right from Kid Rock to the bell ringing for this match. All of the women were already in the ring. Mae Young was the guest time keeper at ringside, with Candice Michelle sitting next to her. Rosa Mendez was the first eliminated. Women are eliminated if their feet hit the floor, whether or not they went over the top rope or through the ropes. Regarding May, Lawler said, "She remembers back when she was a beautiful diva. Then the meteor hit and the dinosaurs died." Molly Holly and Sunny were among the early eliminations. They flew to Houston for that? Santino was dressed in drag in the ring just avoiding any contact. The final five were Santino, Michelle McCool, Beth Phoenix, Mickie James, and Melina. McCool and Mickie tumbled to the floor next. Santino then knocked Phoenix and Melina to the floor to win. The crowd chanted "San-tin-o!" afterward. The announcers were instructed to play dumb, as they pretended they didn't know who it was.
WINNER: Santino Marella in 6:00.
STAR RATING: n/a -- Afterward, Santino claimed he was Santina Marella, Santino's twin sister from Italy. He cried as Candice put the Diva Crown on his head. Beth Phoenix was upset that he stole her moment. Santino did a full fledged celebration dance including the splits in the ring. Cole did his fake forced laugh, while people the crowd seemed to getting a kick out of it, although a few seemed disgusted and almost distraught at what they were watching.
-A video package aired on the Jericho-Mickey Rourke storyline. Lilian Garcia then introduced Rourke at ringside. He seemed a little overwhelmed or uncomfortable as fans around him yelled at the top of their lungs near him and mugged for the camera.
3 -- CHRIS JERICHO vs. RICKY STEAMBOAT & JIMMY SNUKA & RODDY PIPER (w/Ric Flair)
Steamboat was in solid shape. Piper spit his gum at Jericho, then tackled him at the bell in a really awkward looking move. He clotheslined him over the top rope to the floor. Piper got his arm caught in the ropes briefly. The ref helped him break free. He went after Jericho on the floor, throwing him into the announce table. Piper hit a sunset flip for a near fall. That would have been hilarious if that was the finish. Piper even hit a dropkick, or something resembling such a move. Piper's t-shirt said "Old School is Cool." Ross talked about Piper and Snuka at WrestleMania 1. Snuka tagged in, headbutting Jericho at the start. He moved around like Mae Young and now has pretty much the same body shape. It was kind of uncanny, actually. He threw his signature chop, then tagged in Steamboat. Steamboat leaped off the top rope with a chop, then two armdrags. He applied an armbar and some knees to the ribs. The crowd chanted "Steamboat." Snuka tagged back in and headbutted Jericho.
Lawler said the shorter the match the better for the legends since they have only so much in the tank. Jericho put Snuka in the Walls of Jericho for the submission. Jericho didn't release it, so Piper and Steambaot entered the ring. Jericho knocked Steamboat out of the ring from behind with a forearm to the back. Piper kneed Jericho and began shouting obscenities, getting bleeped out. Piper poked Jericho in the eyes and then applied his sleeper. Jericho escaped by sending Piper into the top rope throat-first. He followed up with an enzuigiri for the pin. That left Steamboat, who surprised Jericho with a top rope crossbody block for a two count. Jericho fired back with a sudden clothesline. They showed Flair at ringside looking on with concern. Jericho kicked Steamboat in the face, then played to the crowd. Then he settled into a chinlock. Jericho tossed Steamboat over the top rope. Steamboat skinned the cat back into the ring. Flair hopped onto the ring apron. Jericho knocked him to the floor.
Steamboat backdropped a charging Jericho over the top rope to the floor. Steamboat slingshot himself over the top rope onto Jericho on the floor. Ross said: "Oh my God! We turned back the hands of time! How amazing was that move!" Steamboat climbed to the top rope and hit Jericho with a flying chop to the forehead. Jericho charged at Steamboat, but was taken down with chops to the chest. Steamboat rolled up Jericho for a near fall. Jericho came back with a bulldog. Steamboat fired back with a powerslam for a near fall. The crowd was totally into the match. Jericho went for the Walls of Jericho. He locked it on, but Steamboat twisted out of it and small packaged Jericho for a near fall. Steamboat flipped out of a suplex attempt, but Jericho caught him right away with a Code Breaker for the win.
WINNER: Jericho in 9:00.
STAR RATING: **1/4 -- Steamboat made it a special match by performing pretty well, if not very well. Snuka and Piper were very limited, but they worked around that. The crowd ate up everything, especially once it came down to Steamboat-Jericho.
-An enraged Flair entered the ring afterward and went after Jericho. Jericho backdropped Flair and then gave him a Code Breaker. Jericho shoved Flair out of the ring. Cole said Jericho had a smug smile. Jericho asked for a mic and was handed one. Jericho said he is the best in the world at what he does. He said he did what he said he was going to do - eliminate the "legend Hall of Fame washouts forever." He said he had one more piece of business. He pointed at Rourke at ringside. Frank Shamrock was sitting next to Rourke. Jericho demanded he apologize for what he said. He asked if he was a liar and hypocrite. Jericho told him if he didn't get in the ring, he'd jump the rail and slap him in his face. The camera showed a lot of Shamrock (Ken's brother). Rourke stood up and made his way to the ring. The crowd cheered as he took off his jacket and made his way into the ring. He took his time and shadow boxed a little bit in the corner.
Ross noted that Rourke was a pro boxer at one time. Lawler said for a number of years he boxed. They circled mid-ring. Rourke threw a few rapid-fire jabs at him. Jericho looked surprised and the crowd cheers got louder. Rourke landed a punch and Jericho collapsed to the mat faster than you can say Bart Gunn. Flair raised Rourke's arm in victory as Flair's music played. With all of Rourke's wrestling training, it'd have been cool to see him do a wrestling exchange for Jericho, but even his getting in the ring was more than most expected going into this. Flair had a nice WrestleMania 25 moment by being in the spotlight with Rourke.
-A commercial aired for the National Guard.
-They showed Ross, Lawler, and Cole at ringside. Ross commented on the previous segment, then threw to Lawler for analysis of the Hardys match. A lot video package aired on the Hardys.
4 -- MATT HARDY vs. JEFF HARDY -- Extreme Rules match
Matt wore actual long wrestling tights instead of those pants. Jeff smacked Matt after some trash talking mid-ring. Matt rolled out of the ring. Jeff hit Matt with a framed WrestleMania poster he found under the ring. Lawler: "Matt finally got his face on a WrestleMania poster." Funny line, actually. Ross said, "Matt can say he was framed at WrestleMania." Matt dominated for a few minutes, wrapping Jeff around the ringpost at 4:00. Matt struggled to pull a table out from under the ring, then set it up at ringside. Jeff kicked Matt into the ringside steps. Jeff hit Matt with a kendo stick and crutches, then kicked a trash can over his head. Ross talked about brother vs. brother matches at WrestleMania - Owen vs. Bret and Undertaker vs. Kane. It's annoying that Kane and Taker is talked about as a "legit" brother vs. brother match. I'd rather ignore that "fact" than actually say it. Matt surprised Jeff with a Twist of Fate at 7:00.
Jeff came back with a superplex. Jeff hit Matt with an unprotected chairshot to the side of his head. Jeff put Matt on a table at ringside and then set a chair on him. Then he grabbed another table from under the ring and set it up on top of the table that Matt was on. Hardy then played to the crowd and leaped of the table with a splash through both tables, with Matt in the middle. They replayed it a couple times. Jeff pulled two ladders out from under the ring. It took a while, but Hardy leaped off of one ladder in the ring over an even taller ladder and went for a big legdrop. Matt moved and Jeff landed hard on his ass. Matt slowly got up and put Jeff's head in the chair and then gave him a Twist of Fate while in the chair for the win. Ross wondered if Jeff took once big chance too many. Lawler said the answer is yes.
WINNER: Matt Hardy in 13:00.
STAR RATING: ***1/2 -- Some big spots and a memorable finish.
-A commercial aired for the the Legends of WrestleMania videogame.
-They went backstage to Randy Orton getting ready for his match. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase were sitting off to the side. Lawler said he appeared very ready for tonight as the camera zoomed in on an intense expression on his face.
5 -- JBL vs. REY MYSTERIO -- IC Title match
JBL walked out, mic in hand, and said this is "the greatest day in JBL's great life." He said just as Julius Caesar returned to Rome the conquering hero, he would return to Texas champion. He held the IC Title belt in the air. He said Texas has no champions and no real men. "You sit around, you drink your little lattes, you do your pilates, lookin' through the Houston Chronicle looking for a job. At this point in life you need hope and along comes your hero, JBL." Rey Mysterio's ring intro them took place. He looked like he was wearing a Joker mask blended with a typical Rey mask. As the ref began instructions to the fighters, JBL surprised Rey with a big boot to the face. The ref yelled at JBL and insisted he respect his authority. He did a nice job telling JBL to back off as he checked on Rey. Usually when a heel jump-starts a match illegally, the ref rewards him by having him ring the bell right away. Rey said he was fine. He ducked a JBL clothesline and hit an enzuigiri. He then hit a sudden 619 and a top rope splash for the win. Lawler had to ask if the match even officially started. Cole said JBL predicted the most dominant win in WrestleMania history. He got that right, but the winner wrong. JBL weeped while sitting center ring.
WINNER: Rey in 0:21 to capture the Intercontinental Title.
STAR RATING: * -- The overall way everything played out was well done. Obviously, not much of a match as just 21 seconds, but satisfying for fans given JBL's cocky pre-match speech and cheapshot at the start.
-JBL stood up and looked around in shock. He said he had something to say. Lawler said he couldn't wait his excuse. Lawler suggested a camera flash got in his eyes. Ross suggested perhaps "Open Mouth Disease." JBL milked the boos and then yelled, "I quit!" He then even seemed shocked at his declaration. He dropped the mic. Ross wondered if we were seeing him leave the ring for the final time. JBL yelled at the booing crowd: "You will regret this! You will never get over this!"
-They showed the Houston skyline. Cole said it's the fourth largest city in the country. Lawler then plugged the National Guard. They showed Carl Edwards, a NASCAR driver, at ringside. Cole said he's a big fan of John Cena.
6 -- UNDERTAKER vs. SHAWN MICHAELS
Ross said this is the most anticipated main event in many years. Michaels came out to different music on a crane type lift with fog shooting out of it. Once it lowered to the ground, his regular intro music kicked in and he danced his way to the ring. He prayed half way to the ring. Undertaker then made his grand entrance. Just over half way into the four hour show, the bell rang to start this match. Michaels threw some early chops in the corner. Taker swung at Michaels, but Michaels ducked and pounded away at Taker's head in the corner. Taker caught another Michaels swing mid-ring and tossed him into the corner. Michaels climbed to the second rope, crotch chopped Taker, and leaped at him. He pretended to have a knee or hamstring injury, but then dove at Taker as soon as his guard was slightly down. Taker again tossed Michaels into the corner and punched away at him. He applied an armbar mid-ring and slowed things down.
He climbed to the top rope and walked the top rope and came off with a forearm, smashing Michaels to the mat. He charged at Michaels in the corner, but Michaels moved. Michaels gave Taker a single leg atomic drop and then clipped him from behind. They're pacing this like a long match. They've got plenty of time to work with. Michaels applied a figure-four leglock. Taker powered out after a minute or so. Taker hit snake eyes, a running boot, and legdrop for a near fall at 8:00. Cole called the near fall. Taker signaled for a chokeslam. Michaels surprised Taker with a crossface with Taker's free arm locked between his legs. Taker rolled Michaels back into a near fall. Michaels kicked back into his leverage advantage, not letting go of his grip during the attempted pin.
On their feet at 10:00 they had a rapid-fire exchange including Michaels chops drawing "woos!" from the crowd. Michaels hit a flying forearm and both men were down on their backs. Michaels nipped up after a few seconds. Michaels hit two inverted atomic drops and then climbed to the top rope. Lawler said, "We have to face it; Shawn Michaels has the Undertaker's number." As Michaels flew off the top rope, Taker caught him by his throat and set up a chokeslam. Michaels escaped and went for a superkick. Taker dropped down to avoid the kick and then applied his Hell's Gate submission hold for a believable near finish. Michaels draped his legs on the bottom rope to force a break. The crowd oohed and ahhed that spot. Taker smashed Michaels head-first into the ringside steps. Then Taker went for a guillotine legdrop off the ring apron. Michaels moved. Michaels slidekicked Taker, then climbed to the top rope. When he leaped at Taker, Taker sidestepped and swatted him hard to the floor. As the ref checked on Michaels, Cole said the match may be over. Taker sat up on the ring apron just as Michaels showed signs of life on the floor with the ref at 15:00.
Taker staggered to his feet, then ran the ropes and dove over the top rope at Michaels. Michaels yanked the cameraman into Taker's way. Taker almost broke his neck. That was one of the scarier moments I've seen in a wrestling match. He literially looked like he was about to land on his head, but he tucked at the last possible second. Taker's eyes went wide afterward, as if he was relieved and mad all at once. Taker's attempt to tuck was blocked a bit by the cameraman's arm trying to protect himself. Cole quietly asked, "Did you see how the Undertaker hit the floor?" Michaels crawled into the ring, then after a few seconds crawled back out of the ring to check with the ref on why he wasn't counting Taker out. He rolled back into the ring. Taker didn't move more than just his fingers for a full minbutes or two after the dive. They replayed the dive again and Lawler said it was hard to watch and scary. Michaels tried to get the groggy ref to count Taker out. Michaels began his own count and then the refere e oined in. Taker was still in the same position where he had landed three minutes earlier. The crowd began to boo, not wanting to see the match end by countout. Taker began to get up. Michaels practically begged for the ref to get to ten, but Taker managed to drag himself up to the ring apron at nine. Taker dramatically rolled in just before ten. Cole and Ross each said, "The streak is alive!" Michaels regrouped.
Michaels set up Sweet Chin Music. He went for it, but Taker side-stepped him and chokeslammed him. The announcers touted what an impressive chokeslam it was, Michaels kicked out and the crowd popped. Taker staggered around the ring and then lifted Michaels for a Tombstone. Michaels escaped it. Michaels went for a superkick. Taker ducked it. Michaels escaped Taker's chokeslam attempt and then hit a sudden Sweet Chin Music. Michaels crawled over and draped an arm over Taker's chest. The crowd counted along and popped when Taker kicked out. As Steamboat said during his Hall of Fame speech, these two get to say under their breath to one another when this ends, "We got 'em," as they had the crowd all the way.
Michaels nipped up and bent over to grab Taker. Taker reached up and grabbed him by his throat. Taker then set up Michaels for a Last Ride. Michaels rolled through into a sunset flip attempt. Taker blocked that and set up another Last Ride. This one he hit. Michaels landed hard and Taker scored what seemed like an inevitable pin. Michaels, though, kicked out. "In the name of all that's decent, how did Michaels kick out of this!" exclaimed Ross. Taker showed frustration as the crowd popped and stood and cheered. Taker climbed to the top rope and went for a flying elbow. Michaels moved. The crowd went silent. Lawler wondered what would happen if neither man could beat the other. Michaels charged at Taker. Taker sidestepped him and threw him over the top rope. Michaels tried to skin the cat in. Taker grabbed him in Tombstone position and went for the pin. Michaels amazingly kicked out. The camera zoomed in at a shocked Taker. "I just had an out of body experience!" said Ross. Cole said that should have been it. The crowd continued to eat it up. This should have been last on the card because this is an impossible to act to follow. Taker dropped his straps and signaled to the crowd the throat-slashing gesture. At 25:00 he then grabbed a KO'd Michaels's limp body. He set up another Tombstone. Michaels countered with an unexpected DDT; the crowd was sure this was it. The DDT was awkward, as Taker's head landed on Michaels's hip in a turning motion, but it still look like it jammed up Taker's neck. Both men lay on the mat again as the crowd sat on their edges of their seats.
Michaels crawled over to the corner. Ross said Shawn Michaels is "special" and "extraordinary." He climbed to the top rope. Lawler said his body appears to be on auto-pilot. Michaels hit a top rope elbow on target. He was slow to be able to make the cover. He crawled over to the top rope to prop himself on his feet. He leaned in the corner and tried to gather enough energy to execute Sweet Chin Music. He stomped the match and the crowd counted along. Taker slowly rose to his feet, using the ropes for leverage. Michaels connected with the kick. Nice looking kick, which Taker sold perfectly. Michaels made the cover and got a super-close three count. Taker was great as he didn't even hint at a kickout until the last possible credible second. "Good God almighty, the match continues. Can you believe, ladies and gentleman, what we are witnessing here together tonight! The world is watching a classic." said Ross.
They finally rose, hanging on each other as they leveraged their way to their respective feet. They exchanged punches and chops, while seeming unsure on their feet. The crowd oohed and ahhed each blow. They're going to give these two a standing ovation like Ric Flair received last year after this is over. They should just each retire after this ends as there's nowhere else to go. Taker surprised Michaels with a kick to the face after a dozen mid-ring back-and-forth exchanges leading up to it. At 30:00 Taker lifted Michaels. Michaels elbowed out of it and chopped Taker four times. He whipped Taker into the corner and charged. Michaels caught him with a boot to the face. Michaels climbed to the top rope. He flipped at Taker. Taker caught him and Tombstoned him and covered him for the three count. "Seventeen and ohhh!" said Ross. Both men lay on the mat on their backs as the crowd stood and cheered. Ross said as a "fan of a sports entertainment," he was honored to sit at ringside and watch that. It's sad he has to say "sports entertainment" and can't say "pro wrestling" consider this is show with "Wrestle" in the title. Ross said: "I feel like we've just seen Heaven. What a match. As a wrestling fan, who could ask for anything more." Good for him for slipping in the term "wrestling match." I hope he's not fined, but if so, who cares. Cole said, "Goosebumps."
WINNER: Undertaker in 31:00.
STAR RATING: ***** -- Five-stars, goes without say. Michaels did it two years in a row. Two five-star matches two years in a row. Those matches are created from two decades of experience, two decades of history that is built up well into this type of climax, and a lot of planning ahead and excellent execution between the ropes. Michaels just leapfrogged whoever was above him on anyone's list of the greatest ever if anyone had him outside of their top two or three.
-A plug aired for the three-hour Raw special in eight days featuring the WWE Draft.
-Back at ringside Lawler said he was exhausted. Cole said he hopes he's not too exhausted, as the three-way world title match is up next. Lawler said he just got refreshed and let out a "woo-hoo!"
-A video package aired on the Edge-Show-Cena-Vickie storyline.
7 -- EDGE vs. THE BIG SHOW vs. JOHN CENA
Chavo Guerrero wheeled Vickie Guerrero to the ring. Edge came out first, then Big Show. The crowd booed in anticipation of Cena coming to the ring. An army of John Cena look-alikes walked to the ring. I mean, an army of maybe 200+ Cena look-alikes as Cena's old "Thug-o-Nomics" song played. The Cenas all waved hands in front of their faces and then the real Cena walked out to his usual entrance song. That was pretty awesome, actually. He saluted and then ran to the ring between two rows of the Cena look-alikes. Cole acknowledged the boos by saying no one draws as much emotion out of WWE fans as John Cena.
With just 70 minutes max left in the show, the bell rang to start the first of two world title matches. Cena went after Edge with a bulldog, and then dove at Show. Show shoulder-tackled Cena to the mat. Ross said Show had the momentum coming into the match with knockout victories over Edge and Cena. Edge held his arm up for a high-five. Show slapped his hand, then clenched his hand and lifted Edge and dropped him crotch-first over the top rope. He shook the top rope a few times and then dropped him to the mat. He chopped him and whipped him into Cena. Cena lifted Edge, but Show kicked Cena. Both Cena and Edge went down. Show punched Cena a few times in the corner. Chavo wheeled Vickie over to get a closer look. Show crotched himself on the top rope at 2:00. Cena dumped him over the top rope to the floor. Edge dropkicked the steps into SHow's knees. Cena then hit a legdrop to the back of Show's neck at ringside. Edge then attacked Cena at ringside, re-entering the match. He dominated Cena in the ring. Cena went for a sudden Attitude Adjustment, but Edge countered with a DDT for a two count at 4:00.
Edge climbed to the top rope. Show returned to the ring and side-slammed Cena for a near fall. Ross pointed out that if Show pinned Cena, he wins Edge's title. Cena began a comeback against Show with a barrage of punches. Chavo, though, yanked Cena to ringside. Cena gave him an Attitude Adjuster. Cena ran back into the ring and shoulder tackled Show into the ropes, where his arms got tied up. Cena then shoulder-tackled Edge and went into his finishing sequence. Cena smiled at Show and played to the crowd. HWaved his hand in front of his face and then dropped a fist on Edge's forehead. Vickie stood on the ring apron. Cena lifted Edge. Cena let go of Edge and moved toward Vickie. Edge charged at Cena. Cena moved. Edge knocked Vickie off the ring apron into Chavo's arms at ringside. Cena schoolboyed Edge for a near fall. Then they collided mid-ring as Show asked the ref help him get free from the ropes. Show got back into the mix, headbutting Cena and Edge. He clotheslined Cena in the corner, then chopped him hard and loud. He splashed Edge in the other corner and chopped him hard. He then threw Edge into Cena in the corner and splashed them both. He set up a chokeslam on Edge. When Cena moved in, he grabbed Cena, too. Show chokeslammed Edge as Cena escaped. Cena went for an Attitude Adjuster. Show escaped and Show punched him in the chin, knocking him to the floor. Show then went after Edge at ringside.
Edge DDT'd Show on the floor to turn momentum at 8:00. Edge leaped off the ring steps and speared Show through the barricades into the crowd. The fans roared with approval in that area. Edge couldn't move Show, who was KO'd on the floor, so he went back at Cena in the ring. He set up a spear, waiting for Cena to stand. Cena sidestepped Edge and applied the STF. Edge struggled toward the bottom rope. Cena yanked him back to center-ring and reapplied it. Edge reached toward the ropes. Show pulled Edge toward the bottom rope by his hand, not to save Edge so much as to get Cena within his reach. He grabbed Cena by his throat and yanked him to the floor. Then he set up a swing splash in the corner, but Edge moved.
Cena got up and went for a suplex on Show. Show didn't budge. Edge joined in and together they suplexed Show. Cena and Edge looked at each other like two people who shared an unexpected kiss and liked it! They looked at Show and charged at him with a double clothesline, knocking him to the floor. Edge then kicked Cena in the face first chance he got and scored a near fall. Cole said, "That was a quick divorce." Cena climbed to the top rope a minute later. Show shoved him off the top rope. Edge speared Cena out of mid-air. Cena rolled to the ring apron's edge. Edge dragged him back to the ring and went for a cover. Show yanked Edge out of the ring by his leg and chopped him in the chest. Back in the ring, Show charged at Edge. Edge lifted his boot and then leaped onto Show's back with a sleeper. Show backed into the corner. Edge held on. Cena then lifted both for an Attitude Adjuster. Edge bailed out, but Cena executed it. He then gave Edge an Attitude Adjuster onto Show and scored the pin. That was a cool finishing sequence. Cena's lifting Show was quite the feat. Wow. No matter how you leverage that, it's impressive.
WINNER: Cena in 14:00 to win the World Heavyweight Title.
STAR RATING: ***1/2 -- That was good, actually very good. It's surprisingly how they totally bailed out on the love triangle aspect as a factor in the match. Cena celebrated in the crowd with fans who were holding Cena signs. He knows friendly territory. It made for a good picture.
-They announced that Wrestlemania 26 will be in Arizona at Reliant Stadium on March 28, 2010. That's actually the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania I, by the way.
-They plugged the "Legends of WrestleMania" videogame again.
-The Hall of Fame inductees were given acknowledgements on the stage. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin rode a four-wheeler ATV to the ring at a high-speed, and then around the ring at a high-speed, and then back up the ramp. I'd say he's probably driven that before! He then went into reverse and zipped back to the ring. Then he entered the ring and saluted the crowd, accepting their cheers and some beers. A huge "Hell yeah" banner was held up in the crowd. He went to ringside and handed Ross a beer. Ross sipped from the can. Lawler said, "This is going to make the rest of the broadcast interesting." Austin threw the cooler with the rest of the beer into the ring. He waved to the fans and then rode the four-wheeler up the ramp. He saluted the crowd one final time. He even seemed to be a little choked up as the camera zoomed in on him right before he turned to leave the stage.
-A commercial aired for Backlash. Anyone else betting on Vince & Shane McMahon & Triple H vs. Legacy? It's only three weeks away.
-Lilian Garcia announced the attendance at 72,744 - a sellout. Lawler thanked "AC/DC" for the theme song for WM25.
-A long video package aired recapping the Triple H vs. Randy Orton feud.
-Backstage, Triple H approached Vince and Shane in the hallway. He patted Vince on the shoulder and then walked toward the ring. No words were said. Everyone seemed to be treating the match as having a lot of gravity.
8 -- TRIPLE H vs. RANDY ORTON -- WWE Title match
Orton came out first, looking like a bronzed statue. Everyone tries to be at their peak look for WrestleMania, as it's the single appearance all year that by far will be seen by more generations to come than all other appearances all year combined. Three and a half hours into the show, the bell rang and Triple H tackled Orton and went on the aggressive offensive. The ref assigned to this match was Scott Armstrong, a nice honor for him. Orton hit an RKO at 1:00 out of nowhere. That's like an interception for a touchdown on first down in a football playoff game. Orton waited for Triple H to get up. Orton went for a punt kick, but Triple H moved and then hit a sudden Pedigree. Ross said each competitor has hit his most devastating maneuver in the early going. Orton begged off at 3:00. Triple H paused a split second, then jumped Orton. He slingshot him throat-first under the bottom rope.
Triple H gave Orton a neckbreaker in the ring at 5:00. Orton retreated to ringside. Triple H went after him. Orton reversed Triple H into the ringside steps. Then he whipped him ringside. A cameraman could be heard saying he landed on his cable and couldn't go anywhere, so stand by. That gave viewers a close-up of the action. Orton rolled back into the ring to start a potential countout win on Triple H, which given these match rules would have given him the world title. Triple H struggled to his feet and back into the ring to beat the count. After some more offense and a two count, Orton locked on a chinlock for a minute. Triple H battled back at 10:00 with some punches. Triple H then nailed Orton with a high knee as Orton rebounded off the ropes. He followed with a hard clothesline in the corner and then a facebuster to his knee. Orton solid it brilliantly with spaghetti legs. Orton, though, countered Triple H's Pedigree attempt with a catapult into the corner. Triple H followed with a flying clothesline and a two count. Orton dropped Triple H face-first over the top turnbuckle and then leaped at Triple H. Triple H extended his boot. Orton went for a leverage jackknife pin attempt. Triple H fired right back with a schoolboy for a two count. The crowd seemed exhausted still from Michaels-Undertaker. They were into the match, but not nearly as much as for Taker-Michaels. Triple H went for a Pedigree. Orton countered with an inverted backbreaker for a two count. Triple H came back and leaped off the top rope. Orton caught him with a dropkick to the face.
Orton milked the moment and got "that look." He went for the punt kick, but Triple H caught his boot and didn't let go. He stood up and flipped Orton over the top rope by his boot. Triple H grabbed a monitor and thought of hitting Orton with it. The ref said he'd get DQ'd and lose his title if he used it. Triple H wound up, but then thought better of it and dropped it. Triple H set Orton on the announce table in frint of Ross and Cole. Triple H set up a Pedigree, "seething and quivering with anger," said Ross. Orton backdropped out of it, sending Triple H onto the Spanish announce table. Orton stood first. He went after Triple H, but the ref told him he was in danger of being counted out. Orton grabbed Triple H by his hair and DDT'd him onto the floor just as he did to Stephanie. The announcers didn't acknowledge the parallel. Orton rolled back into the ring to beat the count. Cole said this anger has been brewing in Orton for five years, and this is his attempt to get revenue for a defining moment in his career. That is such a strange moment to focus on since Orton was the babyface in that situation when Evolution - including Triple H - turned on him. Triple H barely beat the ten count.
Orton stomped away at Triple H in the ring. Ross called him a "sick sociopath." Triple H showed signs of life with a punch out of the corner. Orton shoved Triple H into the ref, then gave Triple H an RKO. Orton slithered out of the ring Jake Roberts-like. He pulled a sledgehammer out from under the ring. As Orton walked into the ring with the sledgehammer in hand, Triple H surprised him with a symbolic punt kick. Orton's eyes rolled back. He got to his feet just as Tripel H did, but sledgehammer in hand. Triple H nailed Orton with a sledgehammer to the chin. The crowd looked to the stage as if anticipating interference. Triple H got to his feet again, then dropped onto Orton with punches. The ref came to and warned Triple H to wrestle not punch. Triple H set up a Pedigree. He hit it and covered Orton for the three count. Ross said Triple H reached into the soul of Randy Orton and extracted some retribution. "The Game plays on!" declared Ross as pyro blasted and Triple H celebrated his win.
WINNER: Triple H in 23:00.
STAR RATING: ***3/4 -- Triple H, after so many injuries and main event losses at WrestleManias, may have wanted a WrestleMania to go off the air with him celebrating a win for once, but the match that deserved to end this show was Taker-Michaels. His match would have been less anti-climactic had it come earlier. It was good, both well-plotted and well-executed, appropriate to the storyline and feud, but it just wasn't able to follow the classic two matches earlier.
-An excellent WrestleMania 26 recap video followed. The WWE video production crew always shines with this. I'm sure it's easier now than it used to be given advances in technology, but it's still quite a showcase for the staff to put this together so quickly after the event. They actually ran out of time as they went off the air right before they got to highlights of Triple H getting the win.
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