PPV REPORTS 3/14 WWE WrestleMania XX PPV review (part two): Keller's ongoing "virtual time" analysis of event
Mar 14, 2004 - 10:38:00 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
WWE ROYAL RUMBLE PPV
MARCH 14, 2004
LIVE ON PPV FROM NEW YORK CITY AT MADISON SQUARE GARDEN
10 -- EDDIE GUERRERO vs. KURT ANGLE - WWE Hvt. Title match
Guerrero drove a bouncy red Cadillac pick-up to the ring. They went into a slow build in the opening minutes. Angle applied a side headlock at 2:00. A fun chant began where half the crowd chanted "Let's Go Angle" and that was immediately followed by the other half chanting "Angle Sucks," leading to a "Let's Go Angle, Angle Sucks, Let's Go Angle, Angle Sucks" chant. Tazz and Angle had a nice discussion about conditioning and strategy for the two wrestlers. At 3:45 Angle rolled out of the ring for a breather after he came out on the short end of a shoulder tackle. After some mat holds by Angle, Guerrero avoided an Angle slidekick. Angle then went for a back suplex off the ring apron, but Guerrero held onto the ropes. Eddie dropkicked Angle as he attempted to re-enter the ring. Angle worked over Guerrero with suplexes and scored some two counts. He grew frustrated with his inability to get a three count. At 13:00 Angle went for a top rope suplex, but Guerrero headbutted out of it and shoved Angle to the mat. Eddie the went for a sudden frog splash, but Angle moved out of the path. Angle finally began throwing punches. Guerrero got fired up and asked for some more. Angle punched him. Guerrero jumped up and asked for more. Guerrero then went on an offensive flurry against Angle to very little crowd heat. Guerrero then gave Angle a back suplex. Angle came back with consecutive suplexes. Guerrero countered into a roll up for a near fall. He followed up with a tilt-a-whirl head scissors. Guerrero then gave Angle his three consecutive vertical suplexes. Angle countered the third suplex into the Anklelock. Guerrero powered out seconds later. Nice sequence. Guerrero hit a charging Angle with a dropkick. Guerrero went to the top rope. Angle run up and him and suplexed him to the mat, then scored a very near fall at 17:45. An "Eddie, Eddie" chant barely started. Angle yanked down his strap and applied an Ankelock. Guerrero rolled through into another near fall. Angle hit a back suplex. This can't be good for his neck. Guerrero surprised Angle by countering his suplex into a DDT. Guerrero then hit the Frog Splash center ring for a big pop and scored a very near fall. Bigger pop from the crowd, which "oohed and ahhed." Angle applied an Anklelock out of nowhere. Guerrero reached for the ropes, but couldn't grasp them. He teased tapping several times, then managed to flip Angle out of the ring. A loud "Eddie, Eddie" chant began. Guerrero untied his boot and grabbed at his ankle in pain. Angle recovered at ringside and entered the ring. He put Guerrero in another Anklelock. Guerrero yanked his leg and the boot came off. Angle was surprised. Guerrero then rolled him up for the three count. Their feet were in the ropes, which may not have been intended, but can be used by Angle as a complaint on TV.
WINNER: Guerrero at 21:30 to retain the WWE Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING: ****1/4 -- Not a classic, but a very good match. It's not everyone's style due to the slow mat-based build early, but it climaxed well and the crowd was into the near falls in the final minutes. The finish was really clever, too.
-A video montage aired recapping the Undertaker-Kane feud.
11 -- UNDERTAKER (w/Paul Bearer) vs. KANE
Kane came out first. The cool New York set on the entrance stage appeared to go up in flames as Kane walked out. Then "Ohhh yeahh!" blared through the sound system in the voice of Paul Bearer. Bearer walked out with an urn followed by several druids holding torches. The Undertaker "gong" went off. The crowd popped. Old School Undertaker then walked out to a remix of his old entrance music. Kane freaked out as Taker made his slow and steady walk to the ring. Lawler said, "Kane was wrong, Undertaker isn't dead." Kane began crying. "I killed you!" he screamed. "You are not real!" Fans chanted "Under-taker, Undertaker-taker." Kane reached out to touch Taker to see if he was real, but Taker just pummelled him with a barrage of punches. When the ref got in his face, Taker scared him to ringside. Kane then also bailed out to ringside. When Taker went after Kane at ringside, Kane took brief control. Taker then took control and threw Kane back into the ring at 1:00. Ross and Lawler called this interpromotional match, so they were given the two bigger matches of the three that were up for grabs. Kane lifted Taker in the air and Taker took a nasty off-balance fall because he was halfway between deciding a backdrop bump or a face-first bump. The ref checked on him, then Kane threw some punches at Taker. Taker rolled on top and threw punches at Kane. Kane came back with a sideslam. Kane went to the top rope and came off with a flying clothesline that connected. At 4:15 Taker climbed to the top rope and walked a few steps and came off with a forearm. The crowd popped for the rope walk. Kane countered with a vice grib on Taker's neck. Taker returned the favor. Kane, though, won the battle and scored with a chokeslam. He was slow to make the cover. He began laughing. Taker, though, sat up. The crowd popped again. Taker ducked a Kane clothesline and few at Kane with a clothesline of his own. Taker then slammed Kane to the mat at 6:15. The fans chanted "Tombstone, Tombstone." They got their wish, as Taker gave Kane a Tombstone piledriver for the three count.
WINNER: Undertaker at 6:56.
STAR RATING: ** -- Nice spectacle match, but I'd say overall actually a bit of letdown. Taker just didn't show enough vulnerability, so there wasn't a ton of drama where you ever felt Taker was in jeopardy of losing. His pinfall win didn't get the type of pop you'd expect given all the build up as a result of that "inevitable feeling" that was there all along. Ross reminded viewers of his undefeated record at WrestleMania. Ross talked about this being Michaels's sixth WrestleMania main event. He said he debuted at WM5 as a member of The Rockers.
12 -- TRIPLE H vs. SHAWN MICHAELS vs. CHRIS BENOIT
Michaels came out first, then Benoit, and then Triple H. Benoit and Michaels knocked Hunter out of the ring and then went after each other with hard chop exchanges. They went into the bridge into a backslide attempt sequence. Michaels cradled Benoit for a two count at 1:00. Boy, would that have been letdown if that were the finish! Hunter re-entered the ring and went to work on both Michaels and Benoit. Michaels threw Benoit over the top rope to the floor, then went to work Hunter with a backdrop and chops at 2:00. As Hunter and Benoit fought at ringside, Guerrero slidekicked them both. Michaels then flipped off the top rope onto both Benoit and Hunter at ringside. At 5:30 Hunter whipped Michaels into Benoit, who he had hung upside down in a corner. Michaels was favoring his shoulder at this point. Michaels reversed Hunter into Benoit, who caught Hunter with a boot. Michaels then scored a near fall. Lawler complained about Michaels and Benoit working together against Hunter. Michaels nipped up. Benoit nailed Michaels with a hard clothesline, sending him over the top rope. Benoit then began a series of suplexes, but Hunter blocked the second attempt. Benoit, though, fought through it and hit the second and third suplexes. When Benoit went to the top rope, Michaels knocked him off balance. Hunter ducked a superkick attempt by Michaels, then went after Benoit. Hunter climbed the ropes and exchanged punches with Benoit. Hunter hit a superplex and scored a two count at 8:30. Hunter and Benoit began exchanging punches mid-ring. Benoit slipped Hunter into a Crossface. Michaels broke it up at 9:45. Michaels went for a back suplex series on Benoit. The crowd booed at Michaels for stealing Benoit's move. Benoit escaped and gave Michaels a quick one-two-three German suplex series. The crowd cheered as Benoit went to the top rope. Benoit hit his top rope headbutt to Michaels's shoulder. Michaels kicked out at two. Michaels came back with a desperation flying forearm at 11:00. He nipped up and then worked over Hunter. He gave Hunter a top rope elbow, then played to the crowd to a mixed reaction. He stomped the mat several times. The crowd clapped along. Michaels nailed Hunter with the Sweet Chin Music. Benoit yanked Hunter out of the before three. Benoit catapulted Michaels over the top turnbuckle and into the corner ringpost. He came up bleeding heavily from the forehead. Benoit then went for a Crossface. Michaels struggled, but Benoit got it locked on. Michaels hinted at a tap, but Hunter grabbed his arm and wouldn't let him tap. There's a twist. Hunter then punched at both Michaels and Benoit. Hunter and Benoit fought at ringside at 15:00. Hunter whipped Benoit into the ring barrier. As he caught his breath, Hunter began dismantling the Smackdown announcers' table. Benoit recovered enough to ram Hunter into the Spanish announcers' table. Benoit set up a back suplex of Hunter off of the Spanish table and onto the Raw announcers' table. Hunter blocked it and set up a Pedigree on the Spanish table. They didn't remove the monitors on those tables, so you knew nobody was bumping on them. A very bloody Michaels met Hunter and Benoit on the table. He paused and looked at Hunter. The two then decided to work together in suplexing Benoit onto the Smackdown table, which collapseed underneath Benoit when he landed. They had removed the monitors from that table. Michaels then entered the ring and called for Hunter to enter the ring. "It's you and me!" shouted Michaels. Michaels's face was completely red and blood had dripped onto his chest. When Hunter entered the ring, Michaels threw him over the top rope to the floor where he bumped into the cameraman. Ross called for medical help at ringside for Benoit. Lawler said, "And for the cameraman." Michaels threw Hunter into the ringpost. Fans began an "HBK, HBK" chant. Hunter gave Michaels a Pedigree, but was slow to make the cover. Benoit made the save to prevent the three count. Hunter was a bloody mess at this point, too. Hunter went for another Pedigree, this time on Benoit, but Benoit escaped and applied the Sharpshooter at 21:15. Hunter screamed Flair-style in agony. The crowd went nuts. Hunter lifted himself and tried to power our as he continued to scream. Hunter crawled to the bottom rope and touched it, but then Benoit yanked him back to center ring. Michaels then re-entered the ring to stop Benoit from winning by giving him a superkick. That was a very dramatic near tapout. Michaels draped his arm over Benoit for a near fall. The crowd chanted "Benoit, Benoit, Benoit." Michaels stomped the mat several times and the crowd booed, clearly having sided with Benoit. Benoit ducked Michaels's superkick and backdropped him over the top rope. Hunter then kicked Benoit in the belly and went for the Pedigree. Benoit reversed it into a Crossface at 23:15 and the fans popped huge. Hunter reached for the bottom rope, but couldn't reach it. He began fading. He managed to reverse out of it, but Benoit immediately reapplied it. Hunter then tapped out. The crowd popped huge. The ref handed Benoit the belt. He began crying. He stood and held the belt in the air. Eddie Guerrero came out and congratulated him. They hugged. Eddie began crying, too. Confetti dropped from the ceiling as Guerrero held Benoit's arm in the air. They both held their titles in the air.
WINNER: Benoit at 24:07 to capture the World Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING: ***** -- That was a really, really good Triple Threat match. The finishing sequence was as dramatic as I can remember in any match. The crowd reaction helped take it to five stars, as did Benoit's emotional reaction to the win. Ross's voice-losing announcing didn't hurt at all, either. A great post-match celebration with Benoit and Guerrero capped it off. What an amazing symbolic finish of the change in WWE style in the past couple of years.
-The show closed with the usual outstanding music video review of the entire show.
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