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PPV REPORTS
CALDWELL'S WWE WRESTLEMANIA 26 PPV REPORT 3/28: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of Michaels vs. Undertaker, Hart vs. McMahon

Mar 28, 2010 - 11:00:18 PM
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WWE WrestleMania 26 PPV Results & Report
March 28, 2010
Glendale/Phoenix, Ariz. at University of Phoenix Stadium
Report by James Caldwell, Torch assistant editor


Monday through Friday, join Wade Keller and a guest co-host for the PWTorch Livecast, featuring live callers, live chat room questions, and conversation on the latest breaking news in pro wrestling from WWE, TNA, and other organizations. The show launched in late-December and is already one of the top sports talk shows at the Blog Talk Radio network.

WrestleMania Post-Game show: Join our live PWTorch Livecast post-game show at 11:30 p.m. EST breaking down the entire PPV from top to bottom and taking your calls on the event. To access the PWTorch Livecast, CLICK HERE.


***

The WWE PPV started cold with a shot of Univ. of Phoenix Stadium and the packed house. Justin Roberts welcomed us to WrestleMania before they cut to a shot of three planes approaching the stadium for a fly-over. It just kind of happened. Weak sauce compared to the fly-over at the Rose Bowl for the National Title game.

America the Beautiful: Fantasia opened the proceedings with a rendition of America the Beautiful. Oh goodness, she really belted out some of the verses. My ears are still ringing.

WrestleMania opening: Welcome to WrestleMania. They showed a video package featuring an unknown wrestler slowly entering the ring before the voice-over man said it's time to pursue a WrestleMania Moment. They showed various clips of the top stars through the years at WrestleMania. The place is here. The moment is now. Welcome to WrestleMania - with Undertaker's voice finishing off "WrestleMania."

Arena: Michael Cole welcomed us to the grandeur of WrestleMania while they showed video of the giant production pod set up over the ring. More wide shots of the arena and building capturing the size and depth of the event.

In-ring: R-Truth came out first to start the PPV and he danced out to the ring doing his rap. John Morrison's music hit and they showed the trio of announcers ringside - Cole, Jerry Lawler (in a tuxedo), and Matt Striker. Seth Green was on the front row behind the announcers. Cue up Big Show and Miz's re-mix to bring out Big Show and The Miz, who was sporting a big heavy jacket to accessorize his look tonight. Show had a big grin on his face as the champs marched to the ring. They had the Spanish announce table back on the PPV broadcast, which means someone's going through the table tonight.

1 -- Unified tag champions BIG SHOW & THE MIZ vs. R-TRUTH & JOHN MORRISON -- Unified tag title match

Cole announced 70,000 in attendance. Morrison and Miz started things off with Morrison landing a dropkick. The event has a very red feel to it, befitting of the Arizona Cardinals team colors. Big Show tagged in and landed a big fallaway slam on Truth that wowed the crowd. Show then wanted a Vader Bomb on Truth, but Morrison nailed him with an enziguiri kick to knock Show off the turnbuckles. Morrison and Miz then tagged in and battled with a nice exchange of moves and holds. Morrison then teased Starship Pain, but show yanked Miz out of the way. Truth then tried to launch himself onto Show on the floor, but Show tossed him into the ringpost. Back in the ring, Miz scored a nearfall. Show then blind-tagged into the match and landed the big KO Punch on Morrison to score the pin and the win.

WINNERS: Miz & Show at 3:22 to retain the Unified tag titles. Quick finish to a quick match. First sign they have a ton of action to pack into a four-hour broadcast and some things are going to be going short tonight. Okay opener, but not enough time to really build some momentum. (*1/4)

WM Week: They rolled a video package on all of the events in Phoenix during WrestleMania Week, including the Art Show, Axxess, the Golf tournament, Hall of Fame, and all of the mainstream appearances.

In-ring: Ted DiBiase's music hit to bring out DiBiase as Cole plugged his father's Hall of Fame induction last night. Cody Rhodes came out sporting some new white boots that gave him a little different look. He stopped half-way down the long entrance ramp around the 25-yardline and stared into the crowd to get some focus. Cue up Randy Orton's theme music to a loud pop. Orton slowly walked out to a loud ovation and began a methodical march to the ring as Cody and Ted were shown talking in the ring. Now, the roof has been closed and the stadium has a very dark feel to it. Could use some more house lighting here, but it should look better later when the sun goes down.

2 -- RANDY ORTON vs. CODY RHODES vs. TED DIBIASE, JR.

Cody and Ted basically double-teamed Orton early on here. Cody looking sharp with the white boots. DiBiase then gloated to the crowd as they continued to work over Orton. Orton teased a comeback around the point where the tag title match ended, but Cody and Ted cut him off. Suddenly, Cody went for a moonsault, only to see DiBiase going for the pin behind his back. Cody then jumped down and asked Ted what he was doing before dumping him to the floor. Cody with a tribute to former tag partner Hardcore Holly with the Alabama Slam, but DiBiase broke up the subsequent pin and the pupils exploded on each other.

The fight moved to the floor, then back into the ring as Striker suggested it could be a future WM main event. Orton was standing at this point and he dumped Cody out of the ring before clotheslining DiBiase. After an exchange, Orton smashed Cody with the fallaway backbreaker as the crowd came to life with a loud RKO chant. The sequence ended with Orton remaining in the ring before Orton grappled DiBiase, then Cody as they tried to re-enter the ring. Orton then executed an awesome double spike DDT off the middle ropes, which popped the crowd.

Orton teased the RKO on Cody, who remained out cold on the mat. Orton then slowly raised himself up as Cody continued to sell on the mat. Orton stared around the building, which drew more applause as Cody slowly got to his knees. Orton then went to the corner for The Punt and he connected, but the camera inexplicably cut to a shot of DiBiase. Apparently TNA took over for a second. Orton stared down at his work, but DiBiase came in behind with an attempted Dream Street. Orton shook him off, then nailed the RKO to a big pop. Orton with the pin on DiBiase for the win. Post-match: they had an awesome video screen lower down from the ceiling with a flashing "RKO" sign as Orton posed in the corner. Orton continued to pose in the ring as they rolled a highlight video on the match. Torch reader Efren checks in that medics escorted Cody out of the ring afterward to sell The Punt.

WINNER: Orton at 9:01. Hopefully this is the end of the messy Legacy situation with Orton now positioned as a potential top heel on Raw going forward. Cody taking The Punt suggests he could be off TV going forward, although it wasn't a huge Punt and he could be back soon. DiBiase - it's anyone's guess where they take him from here. (**1/4)

Backstage: Josh Mathews brought in Vickie Guerrero with the heel divas. Jillian Hall then interrupted to sing horribly. The heels and Vickie left, then Jillian Hall stepped in to plug Slim Jim's. He snapped into one and Mae Young was suddenly standing where Jillian Hall was. Another snap and Mean Gene Okerlund was in a strapless dress. Another snap and Melina was back. Creative silly backstage skit, I suppose.

In-ring: Money in the Bank is up next. Kofi Kingston, then MVP, then Evan Bourne came out first as the announcers talked up the match. Jack Swagger was out third sporting a little Kurt Angle get-up with a red, white, and blue singlet and an Angle-like ring jacket. Shelton Benjamin then came out fifth as Striker talked him up as a MITB regular. Matt Hardy was out next to a loud pop. Hardy was sporting a little different look with the blue and black color combo. Dolph Ziggler was out next before they cut to a wide shot of the stadium. IC champion Drew McIntyre came out third-to-last as the announcers talked about him being the least-liked in the match. Kane was out next-to-last sporting a big shiner over his right eye. His red & black ring entrance looked good on the videotron. Christian came out last and Jerry Lawler picked him as his favorite. Well, that confirms he isn't winning.

3 -- MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH -- EVAN BOURNE vs. MATT HARDY vs. JACK SWAGGER vs. MATT HARDY vs. KANE vs. CHRISTIAN vs. DREW MCINTYRE vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. DOLPH ZIGGLER vs. KOFI KINGSTON

The match looked like a giant battle royal to start, then Jerry Lawler said just as much. McIntyre got some early shine dropping Kane with a big boot before wrestlers started scattering away. Mac tried to climb, but Hardy casually dropped him and Bourne smashed Mac with a high knee. Hardy then hit Twist of Fate and MVP smashed Mac with a running Chono Boot to send Mac to the floor. The action picked up with all kinds of crazy spots. Cole said it was non-stop excitement. That was close to saying total non-stop action. Christian set up a ladder and took his sweet time before Dolph yanked him down with a leaping Zig-Zag. Nice. Dolph started climbing the ladder, but MVP cut him off. MVP looking good with an updated athletic-gear outfit. Ladders started flying before Kofi, MVP, and Shelton rammed a ladder into Kane's gut in the corner. Shelton then dropkicked a ladder into Drew. Shelton was alone in the ring and he set up a ladder center-ring before climbing, only to have Swagger knock him down. Swagger cleared everyone with a ladder before Bourne flew onto Swagger with a double knee smash.

At 5:00, Christian and Hardy trapped Swagger in a sort of triangular sandwich. Sick spot with Hardy, Christian, and Bourne climbing on top of three ladders before Swagger shoved out out and Hardy ate the mat. Bourne and Christian battled before Bourne knocked Christian to the mat. He then nailed a sick Air Bourne off the ladder. He followed by trying to climb the ladder for the briefcase, but Hardy climbed up and flung Bourne to the ground. Hardy was within inches of the case, but Swagger followed him up and straight chucked Hardy off the ladder onto another ladder for a big thud. So, now they reset with Shelton and MVP battling up the ladder. MVP then tried a powerbomb off the ladder, but Shelton turned it into a huracanrana over the top rope to the floor. Suddenly, Kane was there with a ladder to run over a bunch of wrestlers on the floor.

Kane was alone entering the ring, but Dolph cut him off and climbed over Kane to get his hand on the case. Kane then shoved Dolph off the ladder and Dolph sold amazingly like Mr. Perfect taking a bump onto the top rope. Kane then grabbed Dolph for a chokeslam and connected onto the ladder. Suddenly, Kofi had two ladders to try to walk across the ring like stilts. Unique spot. Drew interrupted, though, and knocked down Kofi. He was alone in the ring and he retrieved a ladder. Drew started climbing, the fans started booing, and then Hardy made the big save while selling his back. Drew and Matt traded blows on top of the ladder before Mac knocked him down. Hardy recovered, though, and crotched Mac by knocking him clear off the ladder. Kane re-entered and tried to knock down Matt, who got to the top of the ladder and had to pretend like he couldn't get the briefcase unhooked while Christian and Kane set up some sort of save spot. Kane then grabbed both men, but Christian and Hardy dropkicked him off the ladder. Hardy and Christian battled like TLC at WM17, then Hardy nailed Christian with a Twist of Fate straight to the mat below.

Christian recovered at 13:00 and started climbing, but Swagger cut him off. They slugged it out before Swagger smashed the case into Christian's face. Swagger was alone as the case swung and swung before he reached up and tried to unhook the case. He couldn't unhook the case as the camera focused on him forever and ever. Finally, Swagger unhooked the case and he is your Money in the Bank winner. Another TV screen lowered with a big Money in the Bank sign flashing overhead as Swagger celebrated on top of the ladder.

WINNER: Swagger at 13:40. Wow. That was a surprise. Imagine that - the guy who vowed to win on Raw this past Monday actually won. Apparently it's time for Swagger to get his big push unless it's another false start. Very good MITB match, by the way. Evan Bourne had a standout performance, so did Matt Hardy. Kofi Kingston had a unique spot. Mac was the teased winner to draw heel heat. Shelton Benjamin came up short yet again. WWE effectively booked this to balance out the ten wrestlers in the match and set up some good, well-paced spots throughout the match ina match that everyone looks forward to annually. (***1/2)

Video packages: Extreme Rules next month and the Hall of Fame induction ceremony last night.

In-ring: The Fink made his 26th WrestleMania in the ring to introduce the entire Hall of Fame class. Out came the parade of legends and to stand on stage and receive their moment in the spotlight.

HOUR TWO

Video package: They focused on the Triple H vs. Sheamus feud as they entered the second hour of the PPV. Yep, this is about where I had the match slotted on my match line-up predictions. I'm surprised it's lower on the card compared to Rey Mysterio vs. C.M. Punk, though.

In-ring: Sheamus came out first for his first WrestleMania match and there were folks facing the hard camera holding up the flag of Ireland for Sheamus. After a pause, Triple H's music hit to bring out Hunter with a simple ring entrance as big green lights flashed on the giant stack of video screens. Nice look. Cole hyped Hunter as one of the biggest stars ever at WrestleMania, saying it's his 14th career Mania. The overhead TV screen was lowered again for Hunter's logo to be in the background as he completed his ring entrance. The roof was opened again for fireworks to shoot off as Hunter posed in the ring.

4 -- TRIPLE H vs. SHEAMUS

The bell sounded and Sheamus shoved Hunter into the corner to tell him he's the future. Heavily-tanned Hunter (using juxtaposition to his advantage vs. pale Sheamus), then shoved Sheamus to the corner and slapped him across the face. Hunter teased the Pedigree, but Sheamus escaped. Hunter then dropped a knee out of the corner for a one count. Sheamus bailed from the ring, then returned and Hunter slapped on the figure four. Cole referenced Ric Flair mentoring Hunter, then Sheamus escaped and bailed to the floor again. Hunter gave chase this time and Sheamus rammed him into the ring steps. Sheamus then rolled Hunter back into the ring and landed a forearm smash. Sheamus then went on the attack methodically taking apart Hunter. Sheamus slapped on a chinlock, but Hunter took them to their feet and back-dropped Sheamus to the mat to escape. Hunter followed with a boot strike out of the corner before nailing a Jake Roberts style DDT. Hunter followed with a big Harley Race knee and followed with a facebuster (as one fan in the crowd easily called the spot). Hunter then teased the Pedigree, but Sheamus blocked, only to walk into a neckbreaker.

At 9:00, Hunter and Sheamus paused before Hunter took Sheamus to the top turnbuckle. Sheamus slipped underneath Hunter and nailed forearms to the back before teasing the running Razor's Edge, but Hunter slipped out. Sheamus then tried the Bicycle Kick, but Hunter ducked. Hutner then teased the Pedigree, but Sheamus blocked and hit the Bicycle Kick for a close two count. Great sequence. They paused for the audience to react and soak in the sequence, then Sheamus went back to the Edge, only to have Hunter block and hit the Double A spinebuster for a two count. Things slowed down and each man traded control before Hunter suddenly busted out the Pedigree and connected center ring. Hunter rolled over Sheamus and made the pin for the win. Post-match: Cole made sure to note Sheamus belonged in the main event despite taking the loss. Hunter then celebrated the victory as his logo played on the overhead TV screen. Striker then dropped a line in here: "What's next for Triple H?" That hung in the air as Hunter was shown doing a victory lap to close the segment.

WINNER: Triple H at 12:08. Really good singles match with good false finishes and good teases of the respective finishers in play here. Sheamus looked good in the spotlight and Hunter had one of his better singles matches in a while. Well done. Efren checked in: "80 minutes in, Hunter got the crowd going. The vibe has finally changed to WM-level in the arena." (***)

Video package: They focused on the build-up to Rey Mysterio vs. C.M. Punk, focusing mainly on the Happy Birthday party gone wrong. Punk very much presented like a cult-leader in the video. Great way to establish the issue heading into this match.

In-ring: C.M. Punk's music hit and out came Punk, Luke Gallows, and Serena. Punk had a mic in hand. Only natural after he cut promos during the Royal Rumble match and during his Elimination Chamber match earlier this year. Punk's music stopped and said he's surrounded by people who think they can pop a pill and make their problems go away or think Rey Mysterio is a superhero. Punk said he is a savior and he can save Rey to a better place. He said he will beat Rey tonight and force Rey to join the Straight Edge Society. He said it will be one nation under Punk with sobriety for all. Striker and Lawler said it's scary. Punk took off his shirt and his chest was extra-ordinarily hairy tonight. Cue up Rey Mysterio's theme music. No sign of Rey Rey. They paused for a while. Cole suggested Rey could be playing mind games. Rey then suddenly appeared on the stage and fireworks shot off. Rey was sporting an all-blue outfit. He had a faux ponytail hanging down his mask. He looked like Hayabusa here. Cole said he's paying homage to Avatar.

5 -- C.M. PUNK (w/Luke & Serena) vs. REY MYSTERIO -- Rey joins SES if he loses

Luke and Serena played games on the outside early on to distract Rey and allow Punk to get the early advantage. Punk hung Rey upside down in the corner, then distracted the ref and allowed Serena to sneak in some work from the floor. Punk then tried a charging attack, but Rey did a sit-up to avoid Punk. Punk rolled to the floor, but recovered and chucked Rey into the ring steps. The ref reached a nine count and just made it back into the ring. Punk then capitalized with a flurry of right hands before slapping on a chinlock. He then nailed a step-up enziguiri kick and made a cover for a two count. Punk made five straight pin attempts, before Rey kicked out and locked hands with Punk to flip himself off the top rope with a splash onto Punk's back. Looked like a blown spot, but the effect looked good with Rey smashing Punk.

Rey then teased the 619, but Punk blocked. Rey tried another moonsault, but Punk grabbed him on his shoulders. Rey blocked the G2S before going up top and doing a tribute to Eddie Guerrero. He then airballed a frog splash when Punk casually sat up. Punk with a cover for a two count only, though. Punk re-took the advantage and nailed a high knee in the corner. Rey then blocked a kick and put Punk on the middle rope for the 619. Serena blocked by grabbing Punk, then Rey almost ran into Luke on the ring apron. Punk tried the G2S in the confusion, but Rey countered into a huracanrana to send Punk flying into Luke for a bumbling heel spot. Punk ended up on the middle rope and Rey hit the 619 to a loud pop. Rey followed with a springboard splash for the pin and the win.

WINNER: Rey Mysterio at 6:30. Surprisingly short match, but really good for under seven minutes. Good feel-good moment for fans of the top babyfaces with Rey winning and the heel getting his comeuppance after putting Rey through heck. Definitely not the show-stealer Punk advertised, but they didn't have enough time. Good story to the match, though. (**1/4)

Up next: It's time for Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon. They rolled the long-form video package on the build-up to Hart vs. McMahon dating back to Survivor Series 1997 and detailing the feud on 2010.

In-ring: Justin Roberts set up the match as No Holds Barredd before the classic Hart theme hit. Biggest pop of the night for Bret Hart's music playing. The camera slowly walked up the entrance ramp before Hart walked out dressed like he was on Raw with the jean shorts, t-shirt, leather jacket, and Aviator shades. Lawler said Hart isn't dressed in wrestling gear tonight because he's ready for a fight tonight. Fireworks then shot off hardcore as Hart completed his ring entrance with a big "Hitman" logo on the TV screen above the ring. They went to a nice wide shot of the building as Lawler plugged Slim Jim as the official sponsor. Cole went back to WrestleMania 13 vs. Steve Austin for the last time Hart had a WrestleMania match.

After a pause, they cued up Vince McMahon's "No Chance" music to bring out McMahon in the classic black tank top and black jeans. McMahon then did a classic wrestler pose ala Stu Hart on the entrance stage. Uh-oh, McMahon had a mic in hand. McMahon said Hart's in his ring on his greatest creation, WrestleMania. McMahon said Hart deserves a WrestleMania sized screwing, so he shelled out a ton of money to buy himself a whole lot of lumberjacks. One of them is going to be a guest referee. "Just remember this - Bret screwed Bret." McMahon added, "Vince screwed Bret." McMahon then said, "And now your entire family screwed Bret." Out came the Hart Dynasty, followed by the Hart Family. D.H. Smith, Natalya, and Tyson Kidd strutted out behind McMahon while the Hart Family followed out from behind. Bruce Hart one last heel role. Cole gave a hatchet job recap of Survivor Series as Striker called this genius on McMahon's part. Hart sold disdain as Cole ripped on McMahon as the babyface announcer. Of course, Bruce Hart entered the ring and took off his jacket to reveal a ref t-shirt. Bret took the mic and said he can't believe this. Bret said what's done is done and he knows they all got paid in advance and their checks are already cashed. Bret said there's nothing better than a good old fashioned double Screwjob. He said they all told him ahead of time what McMahon's trick was going to be. McMahon said it's going to be forever remembered as the night Bret Screwed Vince.

THIRD HOUR

6 -- BRET HART vs. VINCE MCMAHON -- No Holds Barred match -- Bruce Hart special referee

The bell sounded and McMahon tried a punch, but Hart blocked and landed a right hand. He followed with more right hands and McMahon clumsily fell to the corner for Hart to land a boot to the throat. Not as much heat for this as would be expected since the story was set up awkwardly. McMahon ended up on the outside and he bumped around for the Hart Dynasty, including a slap from Natalya. Striker dropped a line about wishing Natalya well in her future endeavors. Smith and Kidd then set up a top rope Hart Attack on the outside. McMahon then fought the entire Hart Family before he went under the ring and retrieved a weapon. The Harts scattered before McMahon re-entered the ring and Bret knocked him down to the mat. Hart then stole the gimmick and pounded on McMahon. McMahon slowly got back to his knees and Hart dragged him to his feet to land a gimmicked shot underneath the chin. The Harts randomly started pounding the mat, which made for an awful sound.

Hart walked over to McMahon and teased the Sharpshooter, which finally got the crowd to life. Hart decided he wasn't done torturing McMahon, so he grabbed the gimmick again and slammed it into McMahon. Hart then went back over to McMahon and teased the Sharpshooter again. Instead, he kicked McMahon between the legs twice. McMahon started to beg as this sequence dragged on forever. Smith then slid Hart a chair and Hart sat down on the chair looking for a time-out while McMahon sold the effects. McMahon finally made it to his feet and Hart cracked him across the back with multiple chair shots. Hart landed another chair shot to the stomach, then another. McMahon took a beating here. Striker suggested it was 13 chair shots for 13 years of frustration. They passed the 13 chair shot mark as McMahon continued to do his classic gasp. Diana Hart was in McMahon's face as McMahon begged for mercy. Hart then dragged McMahon to center ring and finally stepped through before slapping on the Sharpshooter. McMahon immediately tapped out and Hart kept the hold locked in for a while.

Post-match: Hart celebrated in one corner, then walked across McMahon's back to celebrate in the other corner. Bruce followed suit and ref Chioda told Bruce to lay off. The refs rolled McMahon out of the ring before the Harts got their curtain call with Natalya directing traffic.

WINNER: Hart at 11:10. We all expected a different type of match, but this was just off. The audience seemed to be expecting something different and the pre-match contrived "Double screwjob" cast an odd tone on the match. McMahon is highly uncoordinated in the ring and Hart didn't quite have his timing here. It ended with Hart slapping on the Sharpshooter, which everyone wanted, but it wasn't quite the "13 years of comeuppance" Hart's fans were looking for. (n/a)

Announcers: Not much of a shine before they went to the announcers to talk about WrestleMania Week. They followed by officially announcing the Georgia Dome in Atlanta will host WrestleMania 27 next year.

In-ring: Justin Roberts announced the "official" attendance of 72,219 people at the event. They proceeded to roll a video on the build-up to Chris Jericho vs. Edge setting up their World Hvt. Title match.

In-ring: World Hvt. champion Chris Jericho came out first, then the camera zoomed in down the long entrance ramp for Edge to come out with a cool ring entrance as he marched out and fireworks shot off. Intense tone from Edge as the video screen came down to show a big "EDGE" sign. The TV screen the "lifted off" like a rocket taking off from launch as Edge completed his ring entrance. We now enter the time when it's time to save this show. Tony Chimel handled the formal ring intros with Chimel's voice cracking on "Superstar." Poor Chimel's going to be ribbed like mad now.

7 -- World Hvt. champion CHRIS JERICHO vs. EDGE -- World Hvt. Title match

Jericho took control early on before they ran the ropes and ducked each other. Edge then teased the Spear, but Jericho rolled to the floor. Edge followed out and Jericho rammed him into the announce table. Back in the ring, Jericho took control as Striker recapped both men's respective journeys to WWE. They battled back and forth until Jericho teased the codebreaker, only to have Edge block. Edge then teased the Spear, but Jericho grabbed Edge's leg and rolled through into the Walls of Jericho. He applied the finisher in full before Edge countered into a small package for a two count to bring the crowd to life. Jericho missed with a Lionsault, then Edge hit an inverted slam for a two count. Jericho came back and scored a two count, then suddenly went to the corner and squatted down to hit the Spear, but Edge absolutely creamed Jericho with a boot to the head as Jericho ran toward him. Edge then went to the opposite corner and measured Jericho, who slowly crawled to his feet. Jericho blocked the Spear with an amazing Codebreaker that got flashbulbs popping. Both men collapsed to the mat before Jericho crawled over to Edge and made a cover for a two count only.

At 12:00, Jericho went to the previously injured ankle and he shouted, "Stay down!" Jericho landed successive stomps to the ankle before missing with a third stomp. Jericho then sat down on the Walls of Jericho as the announcers sold Edge being in trouble. Edge was inches away from the bottom rope for a break before Jericho pulled Edge back to center ring and turned the WOJ into a half-crab. Edge tried to roll to the other side of the ring for a rope break and he grabbed the bottom rope. Edge then immediately tried a small package, but Jericho kicked out. Suddenly, Edge clotheslined Jericho and himself to the floor. On the floor, Jericho grabbed the title belt and Edge hit him with a right hand. Edge, Jericho, and the belt entered the ring with the ref taking a bump after trying to get rid of the belt. Jericho then smashed Edge with the belt and made a cover with the ref coming back around to count a close two count that the audience popped for. Jericho then hit the Codebreaker, but not in full. It was enough and Jericho made the cover for the win. Again, Cole covered for the losing participant after the finish.

Post-match: Jericho got his arm raised in victory, then he tried to inflict post-damage by wrapping Edge's ankle around the ringpost, but Edge kicked him away. Edge then put Jericho on the Spanish announce table and Edge started doing the big eyes of doom. Edge then hobbled onto the regular announce table and measured Jericho to spear him clear off the Spanish announce table through a gimmicked portion of the guardrail. Not much heat for the spot, unfortunately. Edge then re-entered the ring and stood tall to moderate applause. They showed Jericho getting checked on by medics after Jericho's back and head bounced off the guardrail during the Spear spot.

WINNER: Jericho at 15:48. Good, but not great World title match. Just not a whole lot to say about this one. The crowd was dead early on, but came to life for the first teased spear by Jericho. The finish was fine to keep heat on Jericho before Edge stood tall at the end. Edge is mis-cast as a babyface, though. (**3/4)

Announcers: Cole, Striker, and Lawler narrated clips of the 26-man Battle Royal that opened the PPV for the live audience. They showed Yoshi Tatsu eliminating Zack Ryder to win.

8 -- VICKIE GUERRERO & Women's champion MICHELLE MCCOOL & Divas champion MARYSE & LAYLA & ALICIA FOX vs. MICKIE JAMES & BETH PHOENIX & KELLY KELLY & EVE & GAIL KIM

The babyface Divas stormed the ring as a unit to try to intimidate Vickie Guerrero. After the match started, the focus was on Eve trying to go after Vickie who was caught in the corner until the heels made the save and began working her over. Vickie then hit a frog splash on Kelly and there was a miscommunication or some sort of mess up with the finish. Vickie did another splash and scored the pin. She did a little dance and celebration to conclude the segment.

WINNERS: Team Vickie at 3:05. Wasn't Vickie supposed to get the ultimate comeuppance here? It was a nice pat on the back for the all the crap she's had to do on WWE TV, but apparently she's the star of both women's wrestling rosters now. Match wasn't good. (n/a)

Video package: They rolled footage on the build-up to John Cena vs. Batista for the WWE Title tonight. ... Batista's music hit first for the main event and the crowd was loud with both boos and cheers. WWE champion Batista stomped out to the ring looking tough and having a single spotlight follow him down the entranceramp to the ring. Batista stopped to share some words for Sign Guy with a mini-heel promo. He then posed in the ring with the title belt as he stared down the fans in the front rows.

After a pause, there were boos - either for Batista or the anticipation of John Cena's music. Suddenly, there was a military arrangement on the stage. The crowd was quiet as the servicemen did a routine with their guns. After the routine was over, John Cena's music hit and Cena simply walked out through the servicemen and ran 40 yards clear down to the ring. Justin Roberts handled the formal ring intros here with Cena getting the usual smattering of boos from the hardcore fans. The buzz was back for this match.

9 -- WWE champion BATISTA vs. JOHN CENA -- WWE Title match

Cole recapped the big points in play with Cena and Batista both winning their first major titles at WrestleMania 21 and Batista previously injuring Cena's neck and back in their only other big match-up. Batista quickly went to work on Cena and focused on the neck before driving him down to the corner. Batista with a facewash ala Samoa Joe. Nice. Cena then came back with a running bulldog and scored a one count. Cena teased the Attitude Adjustment, which no one bought, and Batista slipped out and hit a DDT center ring. Batista made a cover and Cena kinda rolled out of the pin. The ref got in close to talk to Cena, who was either selling beautifully or legit injured from the DDT. Batista then locked in a rear naked choke ala Samoa Joe. He didn't lock it in convincingly, though. It seemed to be a resthold to allow Cena to catch his breath.

FOURTH HOUR

Cena countered the hold by lifting Batista up into the air and they proceeded to trade bombs with the boos/yeahs from the crowd. Batista won the exchange and went back to work on the neck. They went to a wide shot of the building as Batista settled into another mathold before Cena escaped and kicked Batista away. Cena then made his traditional comeback and hit the sit-out slam to boos from the vocal minority (majority in this case). Cena then wanted the Shuffle, but Batista popped up and speared Cena to a big pop. Batista did his Ultimate Warrior warm-up and wanted the Batistabomb, but Cena countered into the STF. Batista made it to the bottom rope and broke the hold, though. He then came to his feet and landed a spear. Not The Spear, though, as it was good for a two count only.

The match moved up top and Batista teased a superplex, but Cena locked hands with Batista and they had a test of strength on the top rope. Nice spot. Cena landed headbutts before knocking Batista off the top rope with a punch. Cena then stood on the top rope and did the You Can't See Me before landing a top rope Shuffle drop. Nice. Cena wanted the Attitude Adjustment, but Batista slipped out and nailed Cena with the Batistabomb center ring to a big pop. Batista made the cover, but Cena kicked out to another big pop. Batista sold shock that he didn't win right there. Cena then grabbed Batista by his feet and tried to pull himself up before Cena teased the AA again. Batista and Cena went back and forth teasing finishers, then Cena hit the AA and made the cover...but Batista kicked out. Awesome nearfall that popped the crowd. Cena then checked himself and went up top again. He measured Batista for a guillotine, but Batista countered in mid-air with a sit-out bomb. Batista then went to finish Cena with another Batistabomb, but Cena rolled through onto the mat with the STF center ring. Cole was on his game selling the moment with Batista locked in the hold. Batista fought and couldn't reach the ropes, then Batista quietly tapped out and Cena is your winner and new WWE champion.

Post-match: Cena celebrated in the ring as he became WWE champion yet again. He then left the ring and walked over to a group of haters on the front row to smile. He celebrated with a kid on the front row before standing on the entranceramp and holding up the WWE Title.

WINNER: Cena via submission at 13:30 to capture the WWE Title. Excellent, stand-out WWE Title match. Surprisingly short at under 15 minutes, but they packed in a very good title match on the semi-main event slot teasing finishers and re-involving the audience in the PPV. The crowd was hot and helped elevate the match to probably the best match thus far. (***1/2)

Extreme Rules PPV plug: Count-outs? Keep counting. DQs? Not even if you beg. It's anything goes.

Announcers: Cole, Lawler, and Striker hyped perhaps the most-anticipated match in WrestleMania history with the second installment of Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker. They rolled video on the seeds being planted last year at WrestleMania when they went five stars and Taker maintained The Streak. Awesome video intro.

In-ring: Shawn Michaels's music cued up perhaps one final time and Michaels danced out to the ring sporting a sharp black & white vest. Cole suggested the sun could be setting on Michaels's career. Michaels went down to both knees and prayed before the fireworks shot off behind him. Heavy focus on Michaels psyching himself up as Lawler said it could be Michaels's last walk to the ring. Michaels entered the ring and the big TV screen over the ring flashed "HBK" in red and white lights. Michaels took a deep breath and posed in the ring as the video screen pulled up to the ceiling. The bell tolled and off we went with a darkened arena and flames shooting out. Oh no. Let's try to avoid a pyro accident again. The entrance ramp was filled with a blue circle and a spectrum of blue light before Taker did Kurt Angle's entrance coming up through the stage. Taker then slowly walked out on stage with no pyro around him. Whew. Oh wait, there's pyro along the entranceramp with flames shooting up. At least it's to the sides and behind him. Taker slowly entered the ring and did his usual ring entrance and Michaels didn't act intimidated. They went nose to nose and Michaels did a throat-slash toward Taker, which sent Taker running back to his corner.

10 -- SHAWN MICHAELS vs. THE UNDERTAKER -- No Count-out, No DQ -- Michaels's Career vs. Taker's Streak

The bell sounded and Taker charged Michaels, who avoided and landed a chop. Taker then came back with a big boot that spun Michaels around like a top. Taker sold a leg injury and kicked it away to try to shake out some apparent pain. Michaels started kicking at the leg and began focusing his attack there. Taker then kicked Michaels away to the outside and teased a dive like last year, but Michaels ran back into the ring. Taker kicked him back to the floor again and followed to the outside to ram Michaels into the ringpost. Back in the ring, Michaels came back with the figure-four leglock center ring. Taker cried out to sell the effects before doing a big evil look toward Michaels, who didn't sell intimidation and continued to maintain the hold. Taker then countered the figure-four and reversed the pressure before the hold was unlocked. They went to another wide shot of the big stadium setting before focusing on Michaels and Taker having a slugfest center-ring. Michaels went for the leg before landing a round of chops. Michaels then hit a flying forearm and he kipped up, but Taker landed a chokeslam and scored a close two count for the first tease of the end for Michaels.

At 8:25, Taker picked up Michaels and teased a Tombstone, but Michaels countered into an Anklelock. Not much heat, as the audience won't be buying false finishes until later in the match. Taker kicked out of the Anklelock and both men rolled to the mat to recover. Michaels then clotheslined Taker to the floor and landed on the apron. Michaels attempted a moonsault, but Taker caught Michaels and gave Michaels a Tombstone Piledriver on the floor. Suddenly, they cut to a random shot of the entranceramp. Nothing happening there. They went back to Taker and Michaels on the floor with Michaels sprawled out on the floor. A medic then charged ringside and checked on Michaels before Taker threw him away and rolled Michaels back in the ring. Taker made a cover and Michaels kicked out with just enough of a split-second three count tease to make everyone's hearts skip a beat. Taker then wanted to give Michaels the Last Ride, but both men kinda fell down with the announcers covering that Taker's knee buckled. Michaels was on the advantage and he went up top for an elbow drop, but Taker got his knees up to block.

They reset and Taker suddenly slapped on Hell's Gate, but Michaels rolled through into a jackknife pin for a two count. Michaels and Taker came to from their knees and Michaels suddenly popped Taker with Sweet Chin Music out of nowhere. He made a cover, but Taker kicked out at two. Michaels then pulled himself together and tuned up the band in the corner. Taker blocked, then kicked Michaels in the gut and went for the Last Ride powerbomb with Michaels dropped straight on his back. Taker made the cover, but Michaels kicked out just barely. The crowd was on its feet as Taker reset by chucking Michaels over the top rope. Taker then cleared the announce table and set up Michaels for the Last Ride again. Michaels slipped out, though, and superkicked Taker onto the announce table. Nice. Taker was flat on the announce table and Michaels saw his opportunity. He crawled back into the ring and climbed the top rope. He went for a straight-up moonsault from the top rope onto Taker on the table and crashed through the table onto Taker's leg. Sick spot. Amazing athleticism from Michaels. After a pause for replays, Michaels rolled Taker into the ring and waited for Taker to pull himself up. Michaels then dropped Taker with Sweet Chin Music in the ring once again with Cole nuts saying the Streak is over. Taker kicked out, though, and Michaels nearly went into convulsions selling the nearfall.

At 20:25, Michaels tuned up the band once again. Taker got up and avoided the superkick to deliver a chokeslam center ring. Taker couldn't make a cover, though, selling the injured leg. Taker then hobbled over to Michaels and picked him up. He wanted the Tombstone and he connected center ring. Just like last year, Michaels kicked out of the Tombstone and Taker did the big eyes selling a nearfall. They went to a wide shot as the buzz picked up with no end apparently in sight. They cut back to a close-up of Taker's face as he pulled himself up. Taker hobbled over to Michaels, who was out cold on the mat. Taker then dropped the straps and started to do the cut-throat, but he stopped when he saw blood on his arm. Taker acted exasperated before yelling at Michaels to stay down. Michaels pulled himself up and did the throat-slash in Taker's face. He then slapped Taker across the face, which drew Taker's ire. Taker then scooped up Michaels and delivered a super Tombstone. One, two, and three. It's over. The look on ref Charles Robinson was great as he paused to realize he just counted a three count on Michaels's career. He's the common factor with Ric Flair's final WWE match two years ago. Taker fell on top of Michaels and they remained on the mat next to each other for a few moments before WWE replayed the finish with Michaels "defiant until the end."

WINNER: Undertaker at 23:59. Amazing match for different reasons than last year's. Everyone is going to compare last year's WrestleMania match to this year's, but to me, it's an apples to oranges comparison because there were two different stories. This was easily over four stars, but perhaps not quite at the near-five-stars level. It's splitting hairs, though, after just an amazing performance from both men. I thought they could have done even more with the "this match will never end" element with the finisher kick-outs and improbable non-finishes, but they didn't have enough time to go 30 minutes and have six more minutes of "will this ever end?" Amazing. (****1/2)

Post-match: Taker staggered around before dropping down to one knee and fireworks shot off. The screen read: 18-0. They went to an exterior shot of the stadium with fireworks shooting off. The screen read: 18-0 again. The ring was filled with blue smoke with Michaels still out cold on the mat not moving. Taker then leaned down and picked up Michaels as the lights came back on. Taker pulled Michaels to the corner and said some words to him. Michaels had a detached smile before Taker shook his hand and dropped out of the ring. Michaels then stood center-ring as the crowd applauded and chanted HBK. Michaels pointed out to the crowd and threw kisses into the crowd. Michaels had tears in his eyes before he dropped down to his knees and raised his arms to the ceiling. "Thank you, God," he said. The camera pulled out to show Michaels on the big screen overhead. "Thank you for everything," Michaels said. "It's been awesome." He then walked out of the ring and shook hands with fans along the aisleway. He made it halfway up the ramp and clapped to the audience before waving good-bye to some people in the audience. Michaels smiled and shook hands with someone. One final walk up to the top of the ramp. He went down to both knees on top of the stage and raised his arms one more time. "Shawn, it's over. Good-bye. We will miss you," Lawler said very quietly. He then walked through the curtain and fade out.

***

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