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From the Bowery: WrestleMania XX

October 24, 2009 | Posted by Robert Leighty Jr.
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From the Bowery: WrestleMania XX  

From the Bowery: WrestleMania XX
-March 14, 2004
-Madison Square Garden, NY, NY

Announce Team: JR and Jerry Lawler (RAW); Michael Cole and Tazz (SmackDown)

-The Boys Choir of Harlem open the show with America the Beautiful. Good stuff here!

-Great opening video package starting with Vince alone and ending with Vince, Shane, and Shane’s newborn son standing together. Everyone puts over the magnitude of the event and how special it is to work at MSG.

United States Title: The Big Show © vs. John Cena

-It’s pretty weird seeing Cena being openly embraced by the New York City crowd, but this was just after his face turn and the fans loved the guy. He was still in his white rapper phase and sucks up to the crowd here by wearing a Patrick Ewing throwback. This would also be his in ring WrestleMania debut. A massive and I mean a massive Cena chant from the MSG crowd, and it still leaves me baffled how things changed in only 18 months. Cena tries to brawl with Show and that doesn’t end well for him. Cena gains the advantage by dropping Show over the top rope, but tries a crossbody off the top and Show casually catches him. He parades around with Cena and drops him. Cena eats a few chops in the corner, but fights back before running into a clothesline. This crowd is super jacked, and while stadium shows make for a great visual, arena shows always feature a crowd that comes off better on television. Show continues to dominate with his slow offense as he meticulously beats the hell out of Cena. He goes old school like Andre did to Hogan, and walks across the back of Cena. Again, Cena starts to fight back, but runs into a boot. Show gets a two count of his falling leg drop, and the crowd starts a “Lets Go Cena” chant. Crazy! Cena jumps on to lock in a sleeper, but Show rams him into the corner to break the hold. Show breaks out a cobra clutch to keeps things at a slow pace, but the crowd hangs with them as they try to rally Cena. He is able to force Show to break for a second, but immediately the cobra clutch is applied. Again, Cena fights out of the hold and gets his feet up to stop a charging Show. Cena casually hits the F-U in an impressive spot, but Show is able to kick out at two. Cena doesn’t know what to do, but after some deliberation he goes for his chain. The ref takes it of him, so Cena grabs the brass knux and uses them behind the refs back. The leaves Show staggering and he eats another F-U for the pin at 9:12.

Winner and New United States Champion: John Cena via pin at 9:12
-Not a very good opener as it was a rather slow match with Cena just taking a beating until the finish. The crowd appreciated it so they had that going for them. *1/2

-Bischoff and Coach talk backstage and Coach gets put on assignment to find The Undertaker.

-Randy Orton (with Flair and Batista) talks shit on Mick Foley as we cover the history between the two men.

World Tag Team Championship: RVD © and Booker T © vs. Mark Jindrak and Garrison Cade vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. La Resistance

-The first team to get the pin-fall wins the match. No elimination rules here. Dupree starts things with RVD, and Rob makes sure to get a monkey flip in before making the tag to Booker. Dupree gets dropped with a flying forearm, and Conway comes in to get him a piece of Booker, but he gets tossed to the floor. Dupree tags out to Bubba as the crowd chants for Tables. Booker misses a back kick, and Bubba follows that with a back suplex. Booker starts to chop away, but a blind charge hits elbow. D-Von gets in illegally and hits Booker from behind so RVD jumps back in to send D-Von to the floor. Things get kind of disjointed as nobody seems sure who is supposed to be in the ring. Things get settled to Cade and Booker. As soon as I type that Dupree tags in and forces Booker back into their corner. Conway gets the tag as Booker is your future Legends Champion in peril. A nice back elbow gets a two count, and Conway goes to work on Booker’s back with a bow and arrow. Booker gets to his feet and breaks the hold. He hits a sweet spinebuster to give him a breather. He rolls towards his corner and makes the tag to RVD. He fights off both La Resistance and Cade/Jindrak. He goes for the 5 star frog splash, but D-Von shoves him off the top rope to the barrier on the floor. All hell breaks loose now as the Dudleys prepare to hit Booker with 3D. Cade breaks that up though and Conway lays out D-Von with the DDT. Booker hits him with the axe kick and RVD comes off the top with the frog splash to end things at 7:51.

Winners and Still World Tag Champions: RVD/Booker T via RVD pin on Conway at 7:51
-Just a match to get as many of the boys on the card as possible. Way too short to mean anything and nobody really got any chance shine here. *1/2

-Coach’s search for Taker leads him to a supply room where Okerlund and Heenan are making out with Moolah and Mae Young. Heenan is pretty funny here!

-Recap of the awesome Jericho/Christian storyline. It all started with Jericho betting he could score with Trish before Christian could score with Lita. Eventually Lita got dropped from the storyline and it focused on Jericho’s blooming romance with Trish and Christian’s jealousy of losing his best friend to a woman. Good stuff here!

Christian vs. Chris Jericho

-The bell sounds and Christian takes his time getting back in the ring. The two meet at center ring and we get some good trash talking before they lock-up. They jockey for position in the corner, and Jericho slaps Christian before following up with some right hands. A belly to back suplex drops Christina’s head off the canvas, and a clothesline sends him right back to the mat. Jericho gets tossed to the apron, but stays on his feet and baits Christian into charging. That ends badly for Christian as he gets back dropped to the floor. Jericho follows with the springboard plancha and sends Christian back in the ring. They do a small reversal sequence which ends with Christian locked in the Walls for a few seconds. A thumb to the eye turns the tide and Jericho takes a sick bump as he gets belly to back suplexed over the top rope to the floor. Sweet! Christian shows some good fire as he pounds away with right hands. He follows up by burying a knee in the midsection and goes to work on Jericho’s neck. He tries to break, but Christian casually pulls him down by the hair to keep control. The neck work continues as Christian goes to a reverse chinlock and buries a knee in the back for added pressure. A small botch leads to a sloppy sequence where Jericho goes for the Walls, but Christian kicks off and follows with a spin wheel kick. Jericho gets fired into the buckles, but as he springs back out both men collide heads to leave them both out. The two men exchange blows in the center of the ring, and Jericho baits Christian in once again. The running enziguiri gets a long two count for Jericho. The pace has gotten a lot quicker, and they do a reversal sequence that ends with Christian getting a rope assisted two count. Jericho hits a sweet northern lights suplex for two and follows that with a bulldog. The lionsault misses however, and Christian looks for the un-prettier, but Jericho pushes off to break. Christian charges, but Jericho takes him down with a hooking lariat. The advantage doesn’t last long as Christian heads to the top rope. Jericho meets him up there for a superplex, but Christian is having none of that and drops Jericho face first. Christian comes off with a crossbody, but Jericho rolls through to get a two count. Christian stays on top of Jericho though and actually breaks out the Texas Clover Leaf to a nice pop from the crowd. Jericho reverses that to the Walls, but Christian is next to the ropes. Jericho won’t let go and they actually fall to the floor with Jericho still keeping the Walls locked in. Nice! They fight back up top and Christian gets brought down with a double arm suplex. This is some damn fine wrestling right here. Trish, who is smoking hot tonight, makes her way to ringside. The Impaler DDT kills Jericho, but he is able to kick out. Christian is highly pissed and looks to head up top, but Trish distracts him. He shoves her down to major boos from the crowd. Jericho hits him from behind to send him to the floor and he goes to check on Trish. She “accidentally” hits Jericho and Christian rushes back in to get the roll-up for the 3 count at 14:40. After the match Trish apologizes before slapping the taste out of Jericho’s mouth to a huge pop. Christian returns to hit the un-prettier, and he leaves with Trish. It must be said again: Evil Trish is Hot! Christian and Trish make out at the top of the ramp in front of a pissed off Jericho.

Winner: Christian via pin at 14:40
-Strong match here as Christian brought the goods in his first major single’s match at WrestleMania and Jericho was well….Jericho. The ending was kind of weak, but everything before was high quality stuff, and the combination of Trish/Christian worked well after this show. ***1/2

-Foley gives his thoughts about the match tonight, but the Rock interrupts to get everyone fired up with a great promo. I miss the Rock.

Evolution (Orton, Flair, and Batista) vs. The Rock and Mick Foley

-Hell yeah, “Line in the Sand.” Orton and Batista are making their WrestleMania debuts here, and Orton is also the current IC champion. The issue here is between Orton and Foley. After weeks of getting his ass kicked Foley went and got help from the Rock and thus we get this handicap match. Big brawl to start as the Rock n Sock clear the ring of Evolution. The Rock and Flair start the match in what must be a thrill for both men. The Rock immediately starts strutting and Flair gives him a Woo. This is going to be great. Flair gets tossed into the corner and gets back dropped as he comes back out. The Rock gives chase on the floor as Flair bails, and gets a thumb in his eye for his trouble. The Rock comes back though by dropping Flair on the floor and Foley comes off the apron with the Cactus elbow. The tag is made to Orton, so the Rock tags Foley and Randy bails. Foley gives chases and they brawl on the floor by the announce table. Back inside the ring, Orton gets tied into the Tree of Woe and the tag is made to the Rock. He tells the ref to check on Batista and then punches Orton flush in the balls while he is tied upside down. God Bless the Rock. Flair makes sure to get in a cheap shot as he slaps the Rock in the back of the head, so the Rock punches him after a Woo! The Rock gets tossed to the floor and Batista drops him on the barrier. Back in the ring Batista uses his power to dominate the Rock and he makes the tag to Flair. He chops the hell out of the Rock as he sells them like a champ. Flair struts and eats a clothesline because of it. Flair is to his feet first and goes up top, but even Lawler knows that a bad idea. Sure enough the Rock tosses him to the mat. Flair is smart enough to make the tag to Batista and he continues to dominate The Rock. Finally, Batista gets dropped with a clothesline and the tag is made to Foley. He drops Batista and goes after Orton, but he drops off the apron to avoid any contact. Foley has a little success with Batista, but a sweet clothesline turns the tide. He tosses Foley to the floor so Orton can get a shot in, but Foley is waiting. He can’t get his hands on Orton though as Flair comes to his aid. Foley takes his patented bump into the steps as he kills his kneecaps. Flair drops Foley with a chop as Mick is your New York Times Best-Selling Author in peril. Foley tries to fight back and looks for the tag, but Flair grapevines the leg and makes the tag to Orton. As with most Orton matches to follow things slow down with a chinlock. Foley is able to get to his feet and he tries to break, but Orton makes the tag to Batista as Flair gives us another Woo. Batista mounts Foley and goes to so ground and pound, but Foley does a good job of covering. He is able to get the mandible claw on Batista, but Orton breaks. The tag is made to Flair and he keeps Foley in their corner before making the tag back to Batista. Foley gets a swinging neckbreaker out of desperation and crawls towards the Rock. Both men get to their feet and they clothesline each other. Batista is the fresher of the two and makes the tag to Flair. Finally Foley gets the hot tag to the Rock and he takes on every member of Evolution. The numbers catch up though and Batista kills him with a spinebuster. Flair gets the bright idea to try the People’s Elbow and the crowd is thrilled. He takes too long however, and the Rock kips up to kill all the fun. That actually pissed off the crowd. They forgive the Rock though as he gives Flair a spinebuster and then the People’s Elbow with a strut thrown in for good measure. That only gets two however, and Flair gives Rock a thumb to the eyes before making the tag to Orton. Randy eats a Rock Bottom however, but Flair pulls the ref out to prevent the count. Flair grabs a chair to distract the ref so Batista can come back in to give the Rock the Batista Bomb. Orton can’t keep the advantage however, and the tag is made to Foley. He drops Orton with the double arm DDT and pulls out Mr. Socko. Orton snaps off the RKO before Foley can get Mr. Socko locked in and that’s enough for the pin at 17:01.

Winners: Evolution via Orton pin on Foley
-Fantastic match that was a shit load of fun and never once boring. The Rock and Flair had the time of their lives out there against each other, and the Foley/Orton stuff was great. Batista played the enforcer role well, and it all equals a tremendously entertaining match. Sadly, this is currently the last match in the Rock’s career. ****

-We get a video package recapping the Hall of Fame ceremony from the previous night. This was the first year of the revival of the Hall of Fame and has been a WrestleMania weekend tradition ever since. This was also the only time the Hall of Fame Ceremony was a solo DVD release and not included as a feature with the WrestleMania DVD.

-Okerlund comes out to introduce us to the Hall of Fame: Class of 2004. For those wondering: Bobby Heenan, Tito Santana, the late Big John Studd, Harley Race, Pete Rose (to major boos then a mixed response), Don Muraco, Greg Valentine, the late Junkyard Dog, “Superstar” Billy Graham, Sgt Slaughter, and Jesse “The Body” Ventura.

Playboy Evening Gown Match: Sable and Torrie Wilson vs. Miss Jackie and Stacey Keibler

-Well it was supposed to be an evening gown match, but all 4 women strip down to their bra and panties before the match begins. Not that I’m complaining. Well, Miss Jackie balked at stripping and tried to leave the ring, but Sable and Torrie cut her off and remove her gown. Now we’re set to go I guess. Miss Jackie would be one of the co-winners of the 2nd season of Tough Enough. Torrie comes off the top with a crossbody, so Jackie bails and makes the tag to Stacy. In a great moment Stacy makes sure to enter the ring twice so we get an extra shot of her ass. I thank her for that. Stacy uses her long legs to choke Torrie in the corner and the two ladies go through their reversal sequence. Jackie gets the tag and we get the spot where the ref gets steamrolled by the two ladies. Things ends rather quickly as Torrie gets a quick roll-up of Jackie for the pin at 2:31.

Winners: Torrie Wilson and Sable via Torrie pin on Jackie @ 2:31
-It’s women wrestling in their bra and panties. Stacy looked great and the crossbody was nice. 1/2*

-Eddie meets Benoit in his dressing room and tries to get him fired up for his World Title match, and it works. Eddie’s “Scarface” shirt is still pretty damn awesome!

Cruiserweight Open: Chavo Guerrero © vs. Nunzio vs. Jamie Noble vs. Tajiri vs. Akio vs. Funaki vs. Shannon Moore vs. Ultimo Dragon vs. Billy Kidman vs. Rey Mysterio (dressed as The Flash)

-Everything here is 1 vs. 1 with someone else entering the match after someone is eliminated. Chavo has the edge as the Champion as he will enter the match last. Dragon and Shannon start things and do some chain wrestling before the pace starts to quicken. Moore has had enough of the chain wrestling and hits a back suplex. Dragon quickly finishes things for Moore at 1:18 with a leaping reverse DDT. Noble quickly jumps in and ends up eating a moonsault. Noble counters a hold to a choke and Dragon taps at 2:20. Funaki comes off the top rope with a crossbody, but Noble rolls through to get the pin at 2:25. Nunzio enters next and he ends up getting bounced to the floor. Noble comes off the top with a sweet senton to the floor. They fight to get back in the ring, but Noble gets counted out to end his chances at 4:20. Kidman comes in, but Nunzio hasn’t had enough of Noble and pulls him to the floor. Kidman comes off the top rope with a Shooting Star Press to the floor on both men. Holy Hell! Back inside the ring Kidman tries a powerbomb, but you can’t powerbomb Noble and he counters to the choke that ended Dragon’s night. Kidman is able escape and both men fight on top. Kidman finishes Noble at 6:12 with a BK Bomb from the top rope. Rey springs in with a seated Senton and this should be fun with these two. Kidman hits a beautiful dropkick, but Rey hits a seated dropkick to send Billy to the floor. Chavo distracts the ref so that Akio can get a shot in on Rey. Kidman sets Rey up on the top rope, but Rey counters with a sunset flip powerbomb from up there to eliminate Kidman via pin at 7:30. Tajiri enters next and quickly locks Rey in the Tarantula. Rey blocks the handspring and hits the 6-1-9, but he can’t drop the dime. Tajiri goes for the mist, but it hits Akio and Rey gets a roll-up at 8:40. Akio doesn’t even get in the match as he is ruled out due to the mist. Chavo enters as the final man and he goes for a quick pin, but Rey kicks out at two. Rey comes off the top with a head scissors and then tags out Chavo Classic with a Senton over the ref and the top rope to the floor. Chavo sits out on a Rey sunset flip attempt and gets an assist from Chavo Classic to get the pin at 10:30.

Winner and Still WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Chavo Guerrero via pin at 10:30
-This certainly wasn’t boring, but nobody got any time to really do anything here. The WWE just never knew what to do with the CW division and it showed here. Pick two of the guys in this match and let them have the 10:30 to do a proper match and we probably get *** easy depending on what two. Instead we get a couple high spots and some quick eliminations that didn’t help anyone. Even the ending was screwy. **

Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
-Steve Austin is the Special Ref for this match. The build to this was actually pretty good as they teased this match 4 months earlier. Things got better when Brock cost Goldberg his chances in the Royal Rumble. Austin gave Goldberg a ticket to No Way Out and he helped Guerrero defeat Lesnar for the WWE Title. Things then got crazy as we neared WrestleMania. Goldberg’s deal was ending and he wasn’t resigning so everyone figured Brock goes over strong. Because Goldberg’s deal was coming to an end he only had so many shows to appear on so Austin and Lesnar became the focal point of the feud leading to Mania and most wanted to see that match instead. Then Lesnar dropped a bomb on everyone when he asked to be released so he could chase his dream of playing in the NFL. Now we had a match where both men were on their way out of the WWE and the smart crowd in New York was waiting for them. This is also the second RAW vs. SmackDown match of the night with Goldberg representing RAW and Lesnar with SmackDown. The crowd seems to be a little more behind Goldberg probably because he was leaving in a better fashion. As soon as the bell sounds the crowd hits Lesnar with a massive “You Sold Out” chant. Very slow start as we are a minute in with no contact and that may been booked on purpose to let the crowd tear into both men. The crowd serenades both men with “Hey, hey, hey Goodbye,” and even JR has to acknowledge the Lesnar to the NFL rumors. Over two minutes in and still no contact, so the crowd starts an “Austin” chant. That brings a smile to Steve’s face as he probably loves all of this. Finally we got a lock up and that’s lasts for a while as neither man can get an advantage. The crowd is not impressed by this and boos the stalemate. We have passed the 4 minute mark and still nothing more than a lock-up to this point. The crowd is growing more and more agitated and start a “boring” chant. Again, neither man can get an advantage during the lock-up. “This match sucks,” chants the MSG crowd. Finally at near the 6 minute mark both men get knocked down after colliding in the center of the ring. Brock gets the first measurable advantage, but he gets caught quickly and Goldberg military presses Lesnar into a spear/slam in a pretty fucking awesome spot. Goldberg goes for the spear, but Lesnar moves and Goldberg hits the post with his shoulder. They brawl on the floor as a “Goldberg Sucks” chant breaks out at MSG. This crowd is great. Lesnar takes Goldberg back in the ring and hits a suplex for a two count. Another suplex and Lesnar follows that with a side headlock. That’s the last thing this match needs. Next the crowd starts a loud “Hogan” chant. That would be one hell of a 4 corners match actually: Hogan vs. Austin vs. Goldberg vs. Lesnar. Sure, it may not be great from a work rate standpoint, but that’s some major star power. Lesnar gets a stiff clothesline for another two count. The crowd goes back to the “this match sucks chant” as they aren’t giving these two any chance. Goldberg makes his comeback and hits a swinging neckbreaker. Another “Hogan” chant is stopped when Goldberg spears Lesnar for two. Goldberg argues the count and ends up getting caught with the F5. That also only gets two and now Lesnar argues with Austin. Lesnar tries for a spear, but he eats post and that leads to Goldberg getting another spear. The jackhammer finishes at 13:42. Goldberg leaves Lesnar to soak in the hatred from the crowd. They serenade him once again, so he flips off the crowd and then flips off Austin. One stunner later, and as JR called it, “Austin just stunned Lesnar out of the WWE….ring.” The slight pause lets you know what JR was really saying. Austin and Goldberg share a few beers before Austin sends him packing with a stunner as well. Austin is the conquering hero, but the funny thing is that he would be gone shortly after as he took his ball and went home for a second time.

Winner: Goldberg via pin at 13:42
-A bad match, but who really cares. The crowd made this entertaining. In a case where both men are leaving put the babyface over I guess. Lesnar looked like a joke for leaving when his NFL aspirations didn’t pan out, but as we all know things worked out pretty well for him. Goldberg it seems it at least on working terms with the WWE judging by his appearance in the Rise and Fall of WCW documentary. As for the match it’s definitely worth a look in that car wreck sort of way. **

-Vince comes out to put over WrestleMania returning to MSG and to thank the fans. Classy move actually.

Scotty 2 Hotty © and Rikishi © vs. The Bashams vs. The APA vs. The World’s Greatest Tag Team

-Same rules as the earlier match with the first team to score a decision winning the match. Shelton starts off with Bradshaw and he has the balls to slap the Texan. That pisses Bradshaw off as one would expect and he wins a brawl with Benjamin. Doug Basham tags Bradshaw from behind and he picks the bones of Shelton. He keeps him isolated in their corner and makes the tag to Danny. He hits the ropes, but Haas buries a knee in his back and gets the tag from Shelton. Scotty 2 Hotty makes the tag behind Basham’s back and he has a go with Haas. Scotty skins the cat, but ends up in prime position for the leap frog spot that the Midnight Express made famous. You know the one. Scotty rolls Haas up, but a tag was made during the exchange and Basham kills Scotty with a boot. The Bashams double team Scotty and hit a nice double suplex. The cover is broken up by Shelton Benjamin. Scotty is your worm in peril as there is no heat at all to this match. Finally Scotty makes the lukewarm tag to Rikishi and the big man dominates everyone in the match. Danny gets planted with a DDT, but Faarooq breaks up the pin attempt. Things break loose and in the chaos Haas eats a stinkface. A Basham tries a crossbody, but Bradshaw catches him and fires him over the top on to Shelton and Haas with the fall away slam. The other Basham gets killed with the Clothesline from Hell, and Bradshaw tries to give one to Rikishi, but gets caught with a Samoan Drop instead. Rikishi casually sits on Basham and that gets the pin at 6:01. Rikishi and Scotty dance after the match, and it doesn’t get nearly the pop it did 4 years earlier.

Winners and Still WWE Tag Champions: Scotty 2 Hotty and Rikishi via Rikishi pin on a Basham
-I actually enjoyed this more than the other tag title match for the simple fact it was shorter, and featured more non-stop action. It was still just an excuse to get as many people on the show as possible, but it kept me entertained well enough. **

-A video hypes the return of Edge from his latest injury.

-To kill some time Jesse Ventura interviews Donald Trump.

WWE Women’s Title: Victoria © vs. Molly Holly

-This is Title vs. Hair here, as Molly is putting her locks on the line. Lawler asks if this would be the first time Molly’s been shaved. Leave it Lawler to make that joke. Victoria is in her run as a face and because less interesting as a result. Same thing happened with Mickie James two years later. The ladies lock up to start and Molly buries a knee to the midsection. She fires Victoria into the corner and uses her ass to her advantage with a splash. Victoria gets a shot in and Molly bails to the floor to regroup. Molly pulls Victoria to the floor and drops her with a pretty vicious clothesline. Cool! They head back in the ring and Molly gets a two count off a snap suplex. Molly continues the onslaught with a seated dropkick to get another two count. The crowd tries to rally Victoria as Molly goes to work with a neck vice. Victoria rolls out of the way of an elbow and gets a right hand to drop Molly. A nice powerslam gets a two count as the crowd is slowly starting to buy into what these two women are selling. They fight on top and Victoria tries a superplex, but Molly counters with a sloppy sunset flip powerbomb for two. Molly goes for the Widow’s Peak to rub things in, but Victoria gets a backslide for the pin at 4:54. Molly decks Victoria and sits her in the barber chair to shave her head, but Victoria uses some hairspray. That’s enough to blind Molly and she gets strapped into the chair. Victoria takes pleasure in shaving Molly bald. Yes, I am aware how that reads. Credit to Molly though as she takes one for the team and gets her head shaved.

Winner and Still Women’s Champion: Victoria via pin at 4:54
-Much like some other matches on this card, this had no time and made for a rushed match. The crowd started to appreciate the work of the two, but it ended abruptly. *1/2

-The show the video recap for Angle/Guerrero. Its funny hearing Kurt mention how horrible it is for a champion to be arrested and drug through the mud considering what he went through recently. This was a money feud and the angle where Kurt beat the piss out of a handcuffed Eddie is still pretty awesome.

-After the video package we get one final look at the hair cut, and the crowd lets out a gasp when they see that Molly has indeed been shaved virtually bald.

WWE Title: Eddie Guerrero © vs. Kurt Angle

-Slow start to begin as Angle powers Eddie into a corner and they goes to a facelock. Eddie tries to out mat wrestle Angle and has a bit of success, but Kurt takes him down rather easily. The crowd appreciates what they are seeing. Another mat wrestling sequence and Kurt ends up in control with a side headlock. The crowd starts a dueling chant of “Lets Go Angle,” and “Angle Sucks.” Nice! Eddie gets a headlock of his own and after Angle pushes off, Eddie runs him down on three different occasions with a shoulder block. Angle grows frustrated and hits the floor to stop Eddie’s momentum. The mat game continues and Angle gains control again with a front face lock. I got to point on how great Tazz has been on commentary. You can tell the man loves some great mat wrestling as he is explaining each and every move and their effects perfectly. Eddie counters into a back suplex and uses an arm drag to set up a key lock. Angle is able to get back to his feet and tries to reverse the hold, but Eddie switches to an overhead arm lock, but Angle finally breaks and buries a knee to the midsection. He follows that up with an abdominal stretch, but Eddie is able to grab and leg and reverse to a suplex. He goes for the Three Amigos, but Kurt counters to a German suplex. Eddie ends up on the apron and Angle does his spot where he teases a German suplex from there. Eddie fights off though and Kurt ends up on the floor. He comes off the top, but Kurt walks away and Eddie crashes and burns on the guardrail. Angle smells blood and fires Eddie back into the ring. He starts targeting the injured ribs and buries some shoulders in the corner. He locks in a body scissors to continue the damage. In a nice touch Kurt controls the head to make the hold a little more devastating. Eddie is able to roll and break, but Kurt drops his ribs first over the top rope for a two count. Kurt is starting to get frustrated and takes it out on Eddie by suplexing the piss out of him. A belly to belly gets another two count, and Kurt goes back to the ribs with a reverse bearhug. The crowd starts to rally behind Eddie and he is able to break the hold, but he walks right into another belly to belly. That also only gets two and Angle grows more frustrated. Angle places Eddie on the top rope, but Eddie pushes off, and Kurt goes to the pop up suplex. Eddie pushes off again and goes for the frog splash, but Kurt rolls out of the way. Nice spot! Cole gets indignant over the fact that Angle would use a right hand in a wrestling match. Eddie starts to get fired up and he keeps asking Angle to hit him again. He baits Kurt in though and hits a sweet belly to back suplex for two. He goes for a suplex, but Angle slips out and looks for the Triple Germans, but Eddie gets a victory roll on the second attempt. Kurt beats Eddie to his feet and flattens him with a stiff clothesline. Angle goes for the Angle Slam, but Eddie counters with an arm drag. A head scissors sends Angle to the mat and Eddie goes for the Three Amigos. Angle counters on the third attempt to an ankle lock, but Eddie is able to kick off to escape. This time Eddie beats Kurt to his feet and hits a swank dropkick. Eddie heads up top and this time Kurt does get the pop up suplex for a two count. The straps come down as it’s go time for Angle. He gets the ankle lock, but Eddie rolls through to get a roll-up for a two count. Kurt is still the fresher of the two and goes for the Angle Slam again, but again, Eddie counters to a DDT. Sweet! Eddie gets the frog splash to a huge pop, but Kurt kicks out at two. The crowd was totally buying that one as the finish. Kurt appears to be dead weight, but he was only playing possum and suckers Eddie into an ankle lock. Eddie counters again by kicking Kurt over the top rope. Now Eddie sells the shit out of his injured ankle and unties his boot to relieve the pressure. Kurt sees that Eddie is screwed and goes for the kill with another ankle lock, but the boot slips off and Eddie gets a small package on a stunned Kurt Angle to retain the title at 21:33 with his feet on the bottom ropes. Cheat to Win! Eddie rubs it in by walking away showing no ill effects from the ankle lock. Eddie becomes the 5th man to successfully defend the WWE Title at a WrestleMania: Hogan (twice), Yokozuna, Diesel, and HHH.

Winner and Still WWE Champion: Eddie Guerrero via pin at 21:33
-Fantastic match with a creative finish to boot (see what I did there). These two were made to wrestle each other and they showed why here. The constant game of reversing what the other was doing lead to both men trying to find something new to use to finish the match. Eddie was the first one to adjust and outsmarted the over aggressive Angle in the end. ****1/2

The Undertaker (w/ Paul Bearer) vs. Kane

-At Survivor Series, Undertaker lost a buried alive match to Vince McMahon thanks to Kane. Kane thought Taker was dead and gone, but really only his American Badass Character was gone. Weeks leading to WM XX there were hints that Zombie Taker was returning and everyone was jacked to see the character once again after a 4 plus year absence. Kane’s entrance is pretty badass as the NYC skyline set at the top of the ramp catches fire. I thought a big deal may be made about that, but thankfully people had better things to do. The lights dim to a huge pop, and Paul Bearer makes his return to the WWE with the urn. Druids carry torches line the ramp and Paul warms by heart by yelling at Kane, “You’re no son of mine.” I love continuity like that. The Gong gets a massive pop and Taker shows up in the look he is still sporting to this day (minus the Sara tattoo on his throat). Now that the entrance is over the crowd realizes that this is Kane vs. Undertaker for the 6000th time and it’s probably going to suck. Taker is 11-0 heading into this match with Kane being a previous victim at WrestleMania XIV. Kane is in disbelief and Taker just stares a hole through him for the last 50 seconds of the match. Finally, Taker explodes and pounds away on Kane. He looks for the chokeslam, but Kane bails to the floor. Taker gives chase and eats a right hand. They brawl on the floor and Kane gets sent back first into the ring apron. Taker busts out the legdrop on the ring apron, and methodically stalks Kane back into the ring. This is really a combination of American Badass Taker and the Original Taker. This version moves a little faster and shows more emotion. Kane catches Taker with a stungun on the top rope, and mounts him to deliver some ground and pound. A sidewalk slam drops Taker and Kane heads up top. The flying clothesline only gets a two count however. They exchange heavy hands in the center of the ring. Kane misses a blind charge and Taker drops him with a boot to the face. We go Old School, but Kane catches him on the way down with a goozle. Taker gets a goozle of his own, and Taker wins that battle, but Kane elbows out of the chokeslam and is able to get one of his own. Kane talks shit to Paul Bearer, but Taker does a zombie sit-up to a nice pop. Take begins no selling everything and hits the leaping clothesline. Now Kane gets dropped with a chokeslam, and the crowd chants for a tombstone. Taker gives them what they want and finishes things at 7:45 with a single tombstone. Damn, Kane’s lost a little since 98 when it took three of those to beat him.

Winner: The Undertaker via pin at 7:45
-This moves Taker to 12-0 and at no point did it seem like he was in any danger of losing. They would get better at building drama in his WrestleMania matches in the following years. Thankfully they kept this match short, and let the two hit each other with high impact moves to keep things moving. *3/4

World Heavyweight Title: HHH © vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit

-Benoit finally got his big push and won the Rumble as the #1 entrant to earn a title match. He became the first person to use a loophole to get a title shot at the belt of his choosing. He opted to move from SmackDown to RAW and go after HHH’s World Title. Small problem was that Shawn was feuding with HHH and he wasn’t finished. After leading everyone to believe it would be HHH vs. Benoit, Shawn was thrown into the match and most assumed this was done to screw Benoit or to let Shawn take the fall instead of HHH. Others think it was because the WWE had no faith in Benoit to bring in the numbers as headliner at WrestleMania. No matter the reason for the decision it made for a far better match. The crowd is solidly behind Benoit and is primed to see him finally get a World Title run. JR is all about the history tonight as he goes all the way back to the first World Title in May 1905 and how is was defended in the 1st Madison Square Garden. HHH is sporting some white boots here and they do look kind of weird on him after years of being conditioned to see him with black boots. Nice old school touch as the ref checks each man before the match. Michaels and HHH try to continue their war, but Benoit is having none of it and takes Shawn down with the crossface. Michaels escapes quickly, but gets his chest lit up with some chops for his trouble. HHH takes a powder and watches as Benoit and Shawn have a fine wrestling sequence in the ring. Benoit gets a two count off a northern light suplex, but gets dropped with a clothesline as he gets back to his feet. HHH returns to mow down with Shawn and send him packing, but he skins the cat back in the ring. Benoit is the one who ends up getting tossed and Shawn and HHH have a go in the ring. A small “You Screwed Bret” chant comes from the crowd, but it never really caught on with the rest of MSG. Things would be different a month later in Edmonton. HHH gets pulled to the floor by Benoit and they brawl. Shawn drops both of them with a baseball slide and then comes off the top on both men with a moonsault. Damn! Michaels wants HHH and tosses him back in the ring. He sets too early though and eats a facebuster. HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Benoit comes back to stop that with a clothesline. Shawn gets his shoulder posted and is left hung up in the corner while Benoit chops the piss out of HHH. Benoit gets crotched on the top rope and gets hung in the Tree of Woe. Shawn gets whipped from one corner into the upside down Benoit in a nice spot. Michaels tries to do the same thing to HHH, but Benoit defends himself by getting a boot to HHH’s face. Shawn is still the fresher of the tree and hits the flying forearm. He kips up, but Benoit is waiting and sends him over the top with a clothesline. Benoit fights to get the Triple Germans and the crowd loves it. He heads up top for the headbutt, but Shawn returns to stop that. He looks for Sweet Chin Music, but HHH ducks and drops Shawn with a DDT. HHH turns his attention to Benoit and they fight on top. Benoit gets brought down with a superplex and that gets two. The crowd starts chanting for Benoit and he responds with some chops. HHH retains the advantage and goes for the Pedigree, but Benoit turns it into the crossface. Shawn makes his timely return to break the hold before any tapping can be done. Shawn tries for the Triple Germans to many boos from the crowd (HA!), but Benoit counters and gets three of his own. He heads up top and hits the flying headbutt, but Shawn is able to kick out at two. Benoit tries the cover again, but Shawn is still able to get out at two. Shawn gets tossed into the ropes, ducks a clothesline, and sends Benoit to the floor with the flying forearm. Another kip up and this team he learned his lesson as he ducks a HHH clothesline. He heads up top and hits HHH with the flying elbow. The band gets tuned up and Sweet Chin Music is delivered. The ref counts two, but Benoit rips HHH out of the ring to save his chances at the title. Shawn is a little pissed and takes out his frustration on Benoit with some chops of his own. Benoit reverses a whip and Shawn takes his crazy ass bump into the corner. Shawn fights off a sharpshooter, so Benoit opts for a catapult and that sends Shawn into the post. A bloody Shawn stumbles into a crossface and looks ready to tap, but HHH grabs his hand to keep that from happening. Nice touch. Benoit brawls with HHH on the floor, but ends up getting set back first into the ring steps. HHH preps the SmackDown announce table as Shawn bleeds all over the ring. Benoit says hell with the SmackDown announce table and goes old school with the Spanish Announce Table. Benoit looks to suplex HHH onto the RAW announce table, but HHH fights off and looks for a Pedigree on the table. Shawn joins them and he and HHH decide to double suplex Benoit from the Spanish Announce Table to the SmackDown Announce Table. Holy Shit that was awesome. Benoit is out of the match and that gives HHH and Shawn a chance to settle their beef. They brawl in the ring and HHH gets his chest fired up with some chops. Now HHH takes his patented bump into the corner to the floor and they brawl continues there. Shawn is wearing the crimson mask now and he sends HHH head first into the steps. Now HHH is bleeding, but he is able to get a Pedigree to leave both men out in the middle of the ring. The crowd starts a massive “Benoit” chant and he jumps back into the picture to keep HHH from getting the pin. HHH is trying is best to catch Shawn in the blood loss category as he is bleeding all over the place as well. HHH sets Benoit for the Pedigree, but it gets reversed to a sharpshooter and the building explodes. The crowd openly starts chanting for HHH to tap, but Shawn becomes the biggest heel in the building as he drops Benoit with Sweet Chin Music. Shawn crawls over and gets an arm on Benoit, but he is able to kick out at two. Another massive “Benoit” chance as Shawn tunes up the band too many boos from the crowd. Benoit ducks and sends Michaels to the floor. A great camera shot shows HHH stalking Benoit and the crowd groans as they fear the worst. HHH looks for the Pedigree, but Benoit counters to the crossface to a massive pop. The crowd counts each time HHH’s arm drops, but he has life left and tries to roll through, but Benoit keeps the hold and HHH is now screwed as he is dead center of the ring. He has nowhere to go and taps clean at 24:48 and the building erupts. The tears immediately start flowing from Benoit and JR goes nuts putting over the moment. Eddie Guerrero with WWE Title in hand comes down to applaud Benoit and they embrace in the middle of the ring with tears in their eyes. The confetti falls as they celebrate with their World Titles in what should have been an iconic and emotional moment for all the right reasons. Instead, well, you know.

Winner and New World Champion: Chris Benoit by submission via HHH tapping @ 24:48
-The Greatest Three Way Match in wrestling history. Everything was perfect about this match including the finish. Some were worried HHH wouldn’t do the right thing especially with Shawn being viewed as the fall guy for Benoit, but HHH will usually do what’s right for the business and he did so here by tapping clean in the middle of the ring. An all time classic that, understandably, is being forgotten in WWE lore. *****

Top 5 WrestleMania Matches (To this Point):

1) IC Title: Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat *****
2) Submission Match: Bret Hart vs Steve Austin *****
3) World Title: HHH vs Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit *****
4) WWF Title: The Rock vs Steve Austin II *****
5) The Rock vs Hulk Hogan *****

The 411: This is a very long show with a lot of filler to get as many people as possible involved, but the Main Matches all delivered in some way. The 2 Main Title matches were fantastic, and the handicap match was a blast. You throw in a strong Jericho/Christian match and the unique crowd response of Goldberg/Lesnar and you have a strong WrestleMania. Not the greatest ever thanks to a mediocre run in the middle, but a good show that could have been better.
Final Score:  7.3   [ Good ]  legend

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Robert Leighty Jr.

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