2004 has got to be some of the most boring times of being a wrestling fan because Chris Benoit’s World title reign should have been longer, JBL’s WWE title went too long, Smackdown (once was WWE’s best show) became a dull show, and Triple H continues to bury more talents, except for Evolution. The brand extension became very boring as both Smackdown and Raw just didn’t tell at all a good story and had a miss opportunity to make even more new stars besides Randy Orton, John Cena, and Batista. 2005 wasn’t a different year anyway, but Wrestlemania 21 was headed to Hollywood of all places. This is the place where movies are made and stars are located. It’s wonderful to have a high classy setting for the whole show that really riches the props. The marketing for this show was insane by having commercials of the Wrestlers parodying classic movies just to promote the show set in Hollywood! Even better was the night before Wrestlemania, they’ve had Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, Jimmy Hart, Cowboy Bob Orton, Rowdy Roddy Piper, and Hulk Hogan rewarded for the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2005; making it the best Hall of Fame class that the WWE has ever had. But as we all know that just because you have all great quality setting, build-up, and nice props, doesn’t mean that the matches are going to be better. So let’s take a look at what this Wrestlemania has in store for us.
Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero – How long has it been since we had a great opening match? Well, over a decade ago with Owen vs. Bret in Wrestlemania X and I still say that that opening match is still superior over Mysterio and Guerrero, but it was nice to see it come as a close second. Both of these guys were WWE Tag Team Champions (Smackdown’s tag champs) and they had no grudges, no story, and no build up towards this opening card, but they certainly surprised the hell out of me by delivering lucha libre technical wrestling that we don’t see anymore. Of course the only thing I find a flaw with this match was that Rey Mysterio kept fixing his mask almost throughout the match whenever he moved around too much but at least it didn’t fall off. We were offered with a lot of flips, flying moves, amazing submissions (like the Surf Board submission), suplexes, hurricanerattas, roll-ups, slams, power bombs, plenty of reversals and almost everything that was a clean wrestling move. I remember when Eddie was about to apply the Frog Splash, Rey moved out of the way in a split second which was fastest speed I’ve ever seen in Wrestling. The best part of this kind of match is that you know that the match was going to end in a quick roll-up and Rey won this match out of a hurricaneratta. It was a surprise to see Rey won this match because it looked like Eddie deserved the win, but it was certainly nice to see a babyface vs. babyface match like this one and ended with a surprise. Certainly one of the most underrated Wrestlemania matches of all time and it’s a memorable moment for Eddie’s last Wrestlemania appearance.
Match Score: 5/5
Edge vs. Chris Jericho vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian (with Tyson Tomko) vs. Kane – Money In The Bank Ladder Match – This is the first Money in the Bank Ladder Match (not the first Ladder Match) and for some odd reason, I still find this one of the best MITB matches ever. For those who don’t know Money in the Bank, this is where six men would fight over a contract inside a steel briefcase hung high above the ring. All of these six men gave some of the best efforts that I’ve seen in a Ladder match since Wrestlemania X7’s TLC 2. Hell even the entrances were fucking awesome before the match even started when Kane came in and all of the Ladders of the Ramp was casted on fire and had to start the fight without hesitation. All of Raw’s talented mid-carders gave us the best of the best. Everyone used the Ladder in the most creative way in order to take each other out. This is what all Ladder matches needs to do and the first ever MITB had to be some of the best Ladder matches offered from the WWE. One of my highlights of this match was when Christian and Edge (former partners) are reunited and worked together to take out guys like Kane. It was a nostalgic feeling that many of us really miss today. Kane may not have been climbing the ladder as much as everyone else in this match, but he helped catch plenty of people as they dove off the top of one. Shelton Benjamin was certainly the most talented in the match where he was the most agile and the most daring out of the six men in this match. I think the one thing that was a bit too hard to watch this match was when Chris Benoit had to climb on top of the ladder just to apply a diving headbutt to Kane. It was a nasty sight to see his stitches open and broke his nose. What’s even harder to watch that moment was that it’s one of the many stunts that damaged Benoit’s brain and… I’m not going to what later happened to his personal life. The match ended with a Chairshot to Benoit’s arm and Edge added yet another accolade to his history-making career by having the honor of winning the first Money in the Bank match. Certainly this is the match that made the beginning of Wrestlemania 21 great as it is.
Match Score: 5/5
Well this is one of those Wrestlemanias where the segments where very part of the show as the matches and… sigh… Eugene had to come in an have him with a mic and talk about past Wrestlemanias. Then he had to be interrupted with Muhammad Hassan and Daivari interrupted him with Hassan expressing his outrage for not being included in a match for the event. Hassan concluded that since he wasn’t scheduled to compete at the event and was therefore denied the opportunity to experience his own WrestleMania “moment”, he would have to create a “moment” of his own. Following this remark, Hassan and Daivari began to assault Eugene. With Eugene placed into a Camel clutch hold while Daivari verbally attacked him, Hulk Hogan came down to the ring to save Eugene from the assault, knocking Hassan and Daivari out of the ring. Hogan celebrated posing in the ring for the crowd. Having Hogan came in this segment was some of the most surprising moment of the entire show, even though he earned that Hall of Fame 2005 the night before.
Segment Score: 4/5
The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (with Bob Orton) – Admittedly, I am not a fan of Randy Orton, but he was the first Evolution member the broke apart of the group and became the big star that he is know known today. Somehow he became a heel once again and wanted to challenge the Undertaker. This was a Raw star vs. Smackdown star moment of the Brand extension, but the stipulation was Legend vs. Legend Killer (I miss that gimmick). The build up for this match was going really good where Randy started attacking as many WWE Legends as he could to prove a statement, RKO’d Stacy Kiebler, and even had Bob Orton coming back to help his son’s hype for the match. For a guy who was a little smaller than the Undertaker, Orton really delivered by giving really smart tactics, surprising reversals, and even had Bob Orton coming down the ring to save his son by hitting ‘Taker with a casket. It’s been a while since we’ve seen Undertaker feel like he’s about to lose the streak but all of the ruse that Orton had, ‘Taker survived and does his best to backfire. I can really say that we haven’t seen a good Wrestlemania match since his match against Kane in Wrestlemania 14, NOT Wrestlemania 20. The best part of the match was when Undertaker kicked Bob Orton with a big boot and tried for a chokeslam on Randy, Randy reversed it to an RKO. That was some o the most surprising reversals of the whole show that almost look like the streak was going to end, but thankfully the match ended with Undertaker hitting Orton with a Tombstone and kept the streak alive.
Match Score: 5/5
Trish Stratus (c) vs. Christy Hemme (with Lita) – Women’s Championship – Sigh, after 3 really fantastic match, we had to reach the inevitable by having a really bad match, and this certainly was a stinker. Why in the world is Christiy Hemme had to be number one contender for the Women’s Championship?… Oh, because she posed for Playboy… I wished Lita fully recovered from that neck injury during this match because if Wrestlemania really needed a great woman’s match, it had to be Lita vs. Trish. But we only had that later in 2005 after Lita fully recovered. Christy Hemme was simply pathetic! She couldn’t even fight or take a pinch. That post where she’s posing like a boxer was embarrassing to watch. Obviously this should have been a one sided match, but cringe each time Trish had to oversell Hemme’s moves (like she ever was that powerful). Trish’s dance partner was not even a “wrestler” just an overrated pretty face that won Raw Diva Search contest in 2005, posed for Playboy, and was pushed a lot faster than any female rookie in the history of Wrestling, it never delivered any good matches with her. Hemme couldn’t even handle a simple Chick Kick that let Trish retain her title. This is another Wrestlemania where it explains why Women’s matches is at the shape that it is today!
Match Score: 1/5
Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels – This match’s story was really well-told and the build up was insane! Angle is facing his least favorite wrestler. He was angered at the fact that Shawn eliminated him at the Royal Rumble 2005 match and made it personal. The build up got really personal when he claims that on the day that Kurt Angle won his Olympic Gold Metal in 1996, everybody was talking about Shawn beating Bret in Wrestlemania 12 instead of his victory. Shawn Michaels versus Kurt Angle was nothing more than a fantasy match-up for a number of years. This match is the best match on the card! It began with a pure mat-wrestling, which was a surprise because HBK never done this before, but he kept up Angle’s pace perfectly! Then the two start to show their grudges against each other by making this match more physical and violent. A slow build to fiery end as the two technicians give fans everything, and that’s what storytelling really means in the wrestling world. I still remember Kurt tried so desperately to German Suplex Shawn to the announcer’s table, but after HBK knock back Kurt to lie on the table, Shawn applied a moonsault from the apron to the table. That was one of the most insane moments of the entire match. From submission holds to high-flying action to an breathtaking ending that saw both men receive standing ovations. Angle hits the Angle Slam off the top rope, HBK hits Sweet Chin Music, then after kicking out at two, nothing could put either man down. That is until, Angle applied his final the ankle lock, that really damaged HBK’s leg. After a fierce fight, Michaels taps. This is Shawn Michael’s third best Wrestlemania match and it is hands down Kurt Angle’s best Wrestelmania match ever! This was a Dream Match that had been discussed for years amongst hardcore wrestling fans. Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels were at their best and the fans began demanding to see this great match. The build, the anticipation, and the payoff couldn’t have been better.
Match Score: 6/5
Piper’s Pit – How long has it been since we seen a Piper’s Pit in Wrestlemania and it made me happy to see Rowdy Roddy Piper earn his WWE Hall of Fame 2005 the night before and came back with Stone Cold Steve Austin as his special guest. These two really were their equals as they were the rebels of their time. It was amazing to see them slapping and talking smack at each other, it was magic! It’s a shame that these two are not in a good shape to wrestle each other, for what we have, it was wonderful to see them on screen doing what they do best (especially when Piper mocked the fans who said “What?”)… then Carlito had come in and interrupted and began to insult them. This resulted in Carlito receiving a Stone Cold Stunner from Austin and Piper throwing him out of the ring. Both ended the segment celebrating with beer until Austin gave Piper a Stone Cold Stunner as well. I don’t know if the segment would be betters with or without Carlito but it was fun to see Stone Cold & Piper going at it in this show. I can’t recall if there are any better Piper’s Pit but this sure was a fun moment of the show.
Segment Score: 4/5
Akebono vs. Big Show – Sumo Match – Well, after a great match, we had to start catching our breaths from a wonderful match with a mid-card match… but we didn’t ask for anything this ridiculous!! This match isn’t just bad (not as bad as the Lesnar-Goldberg match) but it was offensive. It offends me that anyone think that a Sumo match is a joke, it isn’t! It’s Japan’s most traditional, physical, and most important sport that lasted for over a century. Americans doesn’t even know the importance of Sumo but I’ll give WWE credit, they’ve tried to introduce the North American audience what Sumo wrestling is by featuring the greatest Yokozuna (Sumo Champion) Akebono. It’s too bad that no American knows who Akebono is because he was the best at his time and the first American that won the Yokozuna title. But was it Sumo is, it’s a real physical sport and this match was phony baloney! If this was actually real, then we would have had these men toss out within seconds. It was too slow and all it did was test my patience to just have Big Show to be toss off of the ring for Akebono to win. What a disgrace to the Sumo sport!
Match Score: 0/5
John Cena vs. John “Bradshaw” Layfield (c) – WWE Championship – Of course, this match was to have Cena win the title because we all grew sick of JBL holding the WWE championship for almost a year which is the reason why Smackdown in 2004 sucked! You can certainly see this kind of match in an episode of Smackdown! The main problem with this match, is that it was almost too high up on the card. You had an Undertaker vs. Randy Orton match that was pretty special—given the whole “Legend Killer” hype Orton had. Even a stunning Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels match was below Cena’s attempt in 2005. Like many of both of Cena’s and JBL’s matches that are so tiresome to watch because of the a lack of technical superiority combined with poor placing on the card send this one toward the bottom. Obvious Cena had to win to become a big name that he is today, but for him to become a big name because of this match show why Cena’s a mediocre wrestler.
Match Score: 2/5
Batista vs. Triple H (c) (with Ric Flair) – World Heavyweight Championship – The build up for this match was really well told for the sake that not only Randy Orton got kicked out of Evolution, but Evolution’s muscle is against the leader. Ever since he won the Royal Rumble 2005, and he had doubts of Triple H’s loyalty to the team. Instantly, he chose to compete against HHH instead of JBL, and it was great to see them go at it together. I’ll admit that Batista is no Brock Lesnar, but he sure had enough steroids to take the Game down. The match definitely was no wrestling classic because there were no memorable moments except for the part where Batista catapult Triple H to the ring post and he started bleeding like a stuffed Pig. Triple H basically dominated the first half of the match with Batista dominating the second. The only thing that mattered was to have Batista kick out of the Pedigree and win it with a Batista-bomb. At least in the end the animal was unleashed and Batista finally left the World Heavyweight Champion!
Match Score: 3/5
Wrestlemania 21 was one of the most important Wrestlemania’s in WWE history. It saw the rise to success of Edge, Batista and John Cena (for better or for worse). Though two main events were average at best, the beginning and middle of the show was what I really want to see in a Wrestlemania! The match that certainly stole the show was the Angle-Michaels match that was perfectly performed (despite the fact that the announcer’s table didn’t break) that it became the best WWE match of 2005 (The AJ Style-Samoa Joe-Christopher Daniels match in TNA is the best match of 2005). Sure there was a lot of drawback like the Women’s match, the Sumo Match, and the average main events, but it was historic to have our first ever Money in the Bank Ladder Match, a solid opener since Bret vs. Owen, an Undertaker match that wasn’t this well performed since Wrestlemania 14, and dream match between Angle and Michaels. Hell, even the segments were just as good as the show having Hulk Hogan return pose to the crowd like in the Hogan-era and a memorable Piper’s Pit! “WrestleMania Goes Hollywood” fit the part of a huge entertainment gala, as the show was preceded by entertaining parodies of classic films, starring the roster. Wrestlemania 21 was a spectacle that offered the highest of qualities that WWE is capable of!