WrestleMania 25, the silver anniversary of Vince’s greatest gamble. WrestleMania, the show that almost everyone thought would fail, had been around for a quarter century. It featured what looks to be a stacked card, including a dream match between Undertaker and Shawn Michaels, two legends of WrestleMania. It sounds amazing.
So, imagine my surprise when doing my research, when I discovered that this WrestleMania got mixed to negative reviews. Seriously? Does WrestleMania 25 really deserve this reaction? Let’s find out!
We start with a montage of WrestleMania moments and Vince talking about people asking him about the greatest WrestleMania moment ever. Then we get various superstars saying what their favorite WrestleMania moment was.
Finkel welcomes us to WrestleMania, as only Fink can. Nicole Scherzinger (Pussycat Dolls) sings ‘America, the Beautiful’. We get an old school tribute to America video. She sounds amazing.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: CM Punk vs Christan vs Finlay (with Hornswoggle) vs Kane vs Kofi Kingston vs Mark Henry (with Tony Atlas) vs MVP vs Shelton Benjamin
Punk, MVP, Finlay, Kofi, and Christian all get great pops. Henry, Benjamin, and Kane, either got very quiet pops or outright boos. This was a great match, but there were a couple of botches involving Shelton Benjamin that were really scary and poorly thought out.
Winner: CM Punk making him the only person to win multiple MitB matches.
Highlights: Shelton Benjamin’s dive into the competitors and nearly not getting caught. Hornswoggle’s Tadpole Splash off of Mark Henry and everyone selling it.
Comments: Botches aside, this was a great match.
We get a video about Axxess, and it looks like a gang of fun.
Miss WrestleMania Battle Royal
The Divas came out during the concert and didn’t get individual introductions, so we start right off. This wasn’t bad for a battle royal, to be honest.
Winner: Santina Marella (yes, seriously)
Handicap Elimination Match: Chris Jericho vs Jimmy Snuka, Rick Steamboat, Roddy Piper (with Ric Flair)
Mickey Rourke from ‘The Wrestler’ is there, supporting the legends. Jericho gets a round of boos. The Legends get a pretty good pop. Piper and Flair get the best pop of the four.
This was an okay match. All three of the Legends were really game, but of the four Legends, Flair was the only one who had wrestled in the recent past and none of them were really performing like I think everyone wanted them to (including them).
Winner: Chris Jericho. Flair is livid and jumps in the ring to fight with Jericho and ends up taking a Code Breaker. Jericho starts trash talking Mickey Rourke and ends up getting punched by the celebrity.
Comments: They couldn’t find someone younger for Jericho to go up against and have that guy be backed by the Legends?
Extreme Rules Match: Matt Hardy vs Jeff Hardy
Matt comes out to a round of boos. Jeff gets a great pop. This match was really good, but something about it didn’t click for me, which is disappointing because the Extreme Rules stipulation seemed to promise a really great match. Both guys did a great job, but it just felt off to me and I’m upset by that fact.
Winner: Matt Hardy by pinfall.
Comments: I wish I liked this match more than I do. It was good, had a decent story, though the thing about the dog gave me the creeps, but I just wasn’t into it.
Intercontinental Championship Match: John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield vs Rey Mysterio
JBL is out first to a round of boos, despite being from Texas. He runs his mouth but says absolutely nothing of interest. Rey Mysterio comes out dressed as the Joker from The Dark Knight Returns (I think that’s the one with Heath Ledger’s Joker). There’s not much to say about this match because it was about 00:20 from start to finish, which is disappointing.
Winner: Rey Mysterio by pinfall. Afterwards, JBL is so shocked by not only losing in his home state, but losing in such an embarrassingly short amount of time, he quits and storms out.
Comments: I believe this is when JBL had to retire from wrestling because of injuries, which might explain why the match was so short and JBL’s face just before he quit. He didn’t look shocked or angry, he actually looked very sad and I can understand why, that not how you want your career to end.
The Streak: Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels
HBK descends from the rafters, dressed in white, with a heavenly chorus. He gets an amazing pop. For the first time since the Streak was officially acknowledged, a good portion of the crowd seems to think that Undertaker’s opponent will beat him.
The Deadman Cometh. Undertaker, ascends from the floor, seemingly from the bowels of hell, in contrast to HBK’s seeming descent from the heavenly kingdom.
There is nothing I can think of to describe this match that would do it justice. If you have never seen it, make a point to watch it. Get a WWE Network Subscription, it’s included in the ‘Shawn Michaels: Mr. WrestleMania’ collection, buy it on DVD, watch this match and see for yourself why this match is considered one of the greatest matches of all time.
Winner: Undertaker by pinfall. The Streak is 17-0
Comments: Triple H said later that he watched this match, turned to Randy Orton, and said ‘Dude, we’re f**ked’. That about sums it up.
Note: This is the first time since 1998’s Casket Match at the Royal Rumble that Undertaker and HBK have gone one-on-one without it being a Royal Rumble match.
Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship: Edge vs Big Show vs John Cena
Chavo Guerrero takes Vickie to the ring. Edge comes out first to a good pop. Big Show gets a small pop. John Cena gets a good pop and has an entrance ripped off from Eminem’s entrance at the MTV Music Awards.
This was a really great match. It easily could’ve gone for anyone. I can’t say I was all that impressed with the story. Cena extorting anything from someone just gives me the spooks and the love triangle between Edge/Vickie/Big Show was just…no.
Winner: John Cena by pinfall after FUing Edge onto Big Show and pinning Big Show.
Highlights: John Cena lifting Big Show and Edge up in an FU and Edge getting down before he was squashed.
Comments: This was a good match, the story was a little ‘Uh…’ but the match was good.
Hall of Fame time. Our inductees are: The Funk Brothers, Koko B. Ware, The Von Erich Family (owner/promoters of World Class Championship Wrestling in Dallas), ‘Cowboy’ Bill Watts (owner/promoter of Mid-South Wrestling), Howard Finkel, Ricky Steamboat, and Stone Cold Steve Austin.
During the reveal, Austin comes out along with the other inductees, but then goes backstage and roars out on his ATV for a Hall of Fame beer bash with the fans, including JR, much to Cole and Lawler’s amusement.
After all that fun, we find Triple H walking towards the Gorilla position when he runs into Vince and Shane. No words are said or needed, they all know what Triple H needs to do after what Randy Orton has done to them. Triple H nods and walks to the ring, while Shane and Vince look on.
WWE Championship Match: Triple H vs Randy Orton. If Triple H gets disqualified or counted out, he loses the title.
Orton comes out to boos. Triple H gets a great pop. This was a really good match. Both guys really work well together. This was a solid match that brought out the best in both guys because you WANTED to see Triple H beat the living hell out of Orton for what he did to the McMahons (which is when Triple H and Stephanie’s RL relationship was officially acknowledged on WWE TV).
Winner: Triple H by pinfall.
Comments: I think the reason this match didn’t get much respect is because A. It had to top Undertaker/Michaels, the Triple Threat Match, and a Hall of Fame Ceremony featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin. B. While Triple H bent the rules when the ref was out, there was no outside interference on either side, which is how you want a championship match to be, but after all that, a solid wrestling match wasn’t going to stand out as much as it would have otherwise.
So, does WrestleMania 25 deserve the mixed reviews and lackluster reputation it seems to have garnered? Overall, I’d say no. Okay, some of the matches weren’t as good as they sounded on paper, but this was not a bad show. I think Undertaker/Michaels really sucked the life out of the two title matches, nothing was going to top it and really should’ve been THE main event. However, both title matches were great on their own merits and shouldn’t be discounted.
Snoozers: Matt Hardy vs Jeff Hardy. I really wanted to like this match, but I just didn’t.
Stinkers: Miss WrestleMania Battle Royal simply because of Santina winning.
Match of the Night: Undertaker vs Michaels. I can’t say it enough, find a way to watch this match if you’ve never seen it.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I enjoyed this show. It was a good anniversary show.
What I Watched #10b: All IN 2018
Harry decided to abridge his All In write up and bring us the blast from the past while he’s on vacation! With only a few weeks until All Out, reminiscing could be fun!
Greetings, salutations and what nots. At the time you are reading this, I will be away from home on vacation with my amazing girlfriend. In the interest of not want to lose everyone’s attention in the downtime, I decided to go back to one of my earlier reviews and reformat it to match the current style while giving people who may have not been interested due to the length of the previous review a chance to see what they may have missed as well as share my thoughts on a show that had quite the buzz when it happened.
I mention in my review of AAW’s Destination Chicago 2018 (full review available in my archive by clicking my name at the top of this review) that everyone was in Chicago for this particular show. Obviously, though it was presented as part of a deal with ROH (and to some extent New Japan), this ends up being what many consider the launching point for AEW. So join me once again as the WayBack Machine takes us to suburban Chicago on September 1st 2018 and we revisit ‘All In’ here on ‘What I Watched’.
What I Watched #10-B
ROH/NJPW/Friends ‘All In’ 2018
Sears Center in Hoffman Estates, IL
Runtime: 4:45:24 (45:27 on YouTube for the preshow, 3:57:57 on Fite.TV/HonorClub/NJPW World/traditional PPV for the main show)
Commentary By: Excalibur (PBP), Don Callis (Color), Ian Riccaboni (PBP/Color)
- Match #1: Zero Hour- Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky def. Jay/Mark Briscoe, Kazarian pins Mark with a powerslam counter to the Doomsday Device @ 12:35
- Match #2: Zero Hour- Flip Gordon wins the ‘Over the Budget Battle Royal’ @ 17:11, last eliminating Bully Ray
- Match #3: Matt Cross pins Maxwell Jacob Friedman, Shooting Star Press @ 10:07
- Match #4: Christopher Daniels pins Stephen Amell, Best Moonsault Ever @ 11:45
- Match #5: Tessa Blanchard wins four way, pinning Chelsea Green with the Buzzsaw DDT @ 12:43 of a match that also involved Britt Baker and Madison Rayne
- Match #6: NWA World Heavyweight Title- Cody Rhodes pins Nick Aldis ©, sitdown on sunset flip attempt @ 22:03
- Match #7: Adam Page pins Joey Janela, Rite of Passage off a ladder through a table @ 20:09
- Match #8: ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © pins Flip Gordon, Lethal Injection @ 14:25
- Match #9: Kenny Omega pins Pentagon Jr., One Winged Angel @ 17:48
- Match #10: Kazuchika Okada pins Marty Scurll, Rainmaker #2 @ 26:06
- Match #11: Kota Ibushi/Matt Jackson/Nick Jackson def. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio Jr., Matt pins Bandido after the Meltzer Driver @ 11:44
Zero Hour- SCU (Frankie Kazarian/Scorpio Sky) vs. The Briscoes (Jay/Mark)
*Hell of a way to kick things off and the exact kind of match that you want to put out to people in order to get those on the fence to order the show. I don’t know about the $50 price tag that the PPV had, but this would have been enough for me to sign up for Honor Club for $10 to watch the show at least. I’m curious if ROH ever followed up on SCU pinning the ROH tag champions here. I’d imagine so even though the end is near for Kazarian, Scorpio and Daniels in ROH with AEW looming on the horizon. (***½)
Over the Budget Battle Royal
*It was fun for what it was. Maybe a little overcrowded, but there are several people who have got to make a name for themselves off this match. Marko Stunt is all over Game Changer Wrestling (and got a run in AEW as part of Jurassic Express) and Jordynne Grace, who got herself a deal with Impact, being two to spring immediately. I don’t rate battle royals but it was entertaining, which is all you can ask for sometimes. (X)
Maxwell Jacob Friedman (MJF) vs. Matt Cross
*Good little opener here for the main show. My misgivings on the rope hanging piledriver aside (MJF calls it the Heatseeker), they worked together well without throwing too much against the wall and burning out the crowd for later. I had hoped Cross would get a chance with AEW but we know that doesn’t happen, unfortunately. MJF does become one of the biggest creations AEW has up until this point, but no-one is really sure where his status lies with the company at present. Strong start to open the show and really happy for a genuinely good dude in Matt Cross to have gotten this opportunity. (***)
Christopher Daniels vs. Stephen Amell (special guest referee: Jerry Lynn)
*When this show first happened, I heard a myriad of opinions on this match. Some thought it was really good, others thought it stunk. I fall somewhere in the middle here. Amell, for an actor, put in a pretty good performance here. I’m not saying he should do this full time or anything, but it’s not like he embarrassed himself either. Daniels had his own hiccups here as well though. So the blame doesn’t fall solely on Stephen. Overall, I’d call it above average given who Daniels’ opponent was. But I know first hand that Daniels is capable of much, much more. (**½)
Britt Baker (bay bay) vs. Madison Rayne vs. Chelsea Green vs. Tessa Blanchard
*Not sure if it was just me but the finish looks a little suspect. Tessa getting the win did make sense though at the time (I’d imagine this result changes with benefit of hindsight). As for the match, they worked hard and it by and large came together well. It definitely lost its way a bit towards the end, so I have to dock it a bit for that. All in all, I’d say good effort from the ladies involved and I’d even put it just slightly above the Daniels and Amell match it just followed. (***)
NWA World Heavyweight Title- Nick Aldis © vs. Cody (Don’t Call Him Rhodes)
*A very good match but a couple of little things keep it from the next level for me. First, the blatantly missed superkick. I’m not really as upset about that one as some people may be because I get it, shit happens in the moment. The blade job however, I can’t forgive. It was terribly obvious. I get the intent behind it to help Cody fight from underneath. I have no issues with blood in general (hell, I watch death matches). But if you can’t do the blade job more realistically there, it shouldn’t have been done. It doesn’t really factor into the match in the grand scheme of things. Also while I personally don’t mind the methodical pace, I do know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. I dug the match as a whole though. And props to Brandi for eating it on that flying elbow drop. (****)
‘Chicago Street Fight’- Adam Page vs. Joey Janela
*This match won’t be for everyone. Some people like the old school ECW brawl and some people don’t. I do when it’s well executed but there seemed to be quite a bit of downtime in this one. Honestly, to me…Penelope Ford came out of this match looking like the biggest star of the three. All in all, I’d say good for what it was but nothing I’d probably want to go back and re-watch either. The finish was dope though. Janela is a crazy person for taking it. (***)
ROH Heavyweight Title- Jay Lethal © vs. Flip Gordon
*Let’s not kid ourselves. There was no way that they were going to change the ROH title on a non-ROH show. As much as they enjoyed having the belt defended, this defense was a lock for Lethal regardless of the opponent. Flip getting the match itself is the story here and his performance justifies it. I’d call it good but again, it’s nothing that you’ll want to re-watch again, despite the impressive agility of Gordon and the sheer nostalgia of Lethal busting out the ‘Black Machismo’ shtick again. (***½)
Kenny Omega vs. Pentagon Jr.
*Your mileage may vary for sure on this one. Everyone heaped a ton of praise on it and while it is very good, it does not raise to the level of excellence for me. The ridiculously spotty selling and the absolute disrespect to some of the most protected moves in wrestling cause me to take an issue. I do think they worked really well together and the styles meshed a lot better than I thought they might. But there was nowhere near the emotion here that came through clear as day on the Cody and Aldis match earlier. From a pure work rate aspect, it’s the best on the show so far. But personally, I prefer Cody and Aldis to Omega and Pentagon Jr. (****)
Kazuchika Okada vs. Marty Scurll
*A little long. But they told a pretty strong story throughout.At the time of this writing, I had made it no secret that I was not sold on Kazuchika Okada as a draw in the US. Clearly, I was wrong. He had the entire crowd in the palm of his and Scurll’s hands for basically the entirety of this contest and it was one that I think both raised Scurll’s standing in the world of wrestling and confirmed what many people already feel about Okada. That being said, it’s a better match if you chop off five to eight minutes from it. (***½)
Young Bucks/Kota Ibushi vs. Bandido/Fenix/Rey Mysterio
*Clearly much shorter than it was probably supposed to be, they packed a ton of action into these almost twelve minutes. I’d have been curious to see what was possible with a full run time but with Rey already gone (he had just resigned with the WWE), there would be no chance to run this back. I think it was a good way to send everyone home happy and get all the marquee moments in, but overall it just ends up being a spotfest fluff match rather than anything that’ll be strongly remembered as standing out down the road. (***½)
THE FINAL REACTION
There is a lot to get through here. As you guys saw above, the totality of both Zero Hour and All In run almost five hours. While not all of that is well spent, there is more than enough to sink your teeth into here, even if you wouldn’t classify yourself as a traditional ‘Independent Wrestling’ fan. There are a couple of real good spotfests if you liked the ECW/WCW luchador/cruiserweight style. There’s a tremendous call-back to the old NWA days with how Nick Aldis vs. Cody plays out. There is a interesting take on the old ‘hardcore’ styles that both ECW and the WWF used to enjoy presenting in Janela vs the ‘Hangman’. You even get the chance to see the celebrities that get trotted out for the big shows in places like the WWE and Impact Wrestling. Does it all work? No. But a good majority of it does. As I said, it’s almost five hours. But by and large, it’s five hours well spent. Call it an 8.5 and while there is room for improvement (as with everything), a very strong start for Cody and the Bucks as promoters.
Best Match/Moment: I’ll go moment here and go with the obvious of Cody getting to hold the same NWA title his father did in what was an NWA stronghold town. It’s cool to see the torch passed like this.
Worst Match/Moment: The fact that the main event with arguably six of the best wrestlers in the world at the time ends up getting the second shortest amount of time.
Overall Show Score: 8.5/10
MVP: I’m going to give this one to Cody, both for the role he played as a producer/agent for the show as well as the performance in the match with Aldis as well. A good night for young Mr. Runnels.
And that wraps up the first of the ‘retro’ look backs at previous ‘What I Watched’ reviews. When I return, I will be coming back with ECW’s Guilty as Charged 1999, the first pay-per-view of the last year of the 1900s. Following that, I know the WWF’s Royal Rumble 1999 is on the list. I’d imagine I’ll get to WCW’s Souled Out 1999 and when I do return to the Indies, promotions like IWA-MS, CHIKARA, Freelance, BEYOND, WWR and so many others are within my potentially planned scope. Hope to see you down the road and may you all enjoy quality time with those you care. See you next time and thanks for reading, everyone.
Attitude Of Aggression #275- The Big Four Project Chapter 3: Royal Rumble ’88 & WrestleMania IV
The Attitude Of Aggression returns for Chapter 3 of The Big Four Project, a chronological analysis, review, and discussion about WWE’s Big Four PPVs/ Premium Live Events. On this Episode, Dave welcomes back the one and only PC Tunney to discuss two more immensely important events in pro wrestling history, the inaugural Royal Rumble and WrestleMania IV. The 1988 Royal Rumble was different than any other Rumble in history and not just because it was the first. Dave and Tunney break down the fascinating history of the first installment of an event that would evolve into an annual favorite for many in the WWE Universe. From there, the guys recap the surreal events that led to the end of Hulk Hogan’s 4-year reign as WWF Champion and set the stage for, arguably, the most important tournament in WWE History at WrestleMania IV. Macho Madness reached new heights that night. But was Savage the first choice of Vince McMahon to emerge from Atlantic City with the gold that night? We have the whole story for you here on Chapter 3 of The Big Four Project!
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