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Jack Likes Wrestlemania: Wrestlemania 26

March 25, 2015 | Posted by Jack Stevenson
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Jack Likes Wrestlemania: Wrestlemania 26  



The Big Show’s monopoly over the tag team championships from 2009-2010 did quite a lot to restore some credibility to the belts, and he seems determined to retain the gold here. He drags Miz out of the ring as Morrison is about to hit him with Starship Pain, sending the Shaman crashing to an empty mat. His signature KO punch puts Morrison down as he retains his championships in just three minutes. It was a nice, energetic match while it lasted. * ¾.


Rhodes and DiBiase were Orton’s understudies in the Legacy until, like all factions in wrestling, everyone fell out and wanted to punch each other.

Orton is wildly popular with the crowd, and indulges their wishes by beating up both his former students at the get go. Cody and Ted stay on the same page long enough to start a numbers game and overwhelm the Viper, but eventually they turn on each other and start to brawl. Randy pounces on their disunity, simultaneously dropping them both with his DDT off the middle rope. If the purpose of this match was merely to solidify Orton’s face turn no matter the cost to the other competitors, they couldn’t have picked a much better move to do it. Orton looks so dominant standing over his two prostrate foes, cradling their heads in his arms, while Ted and Cody look utterly vulnerable. Rhodes takes a punt to the head, and DiBiase is put down with the RKO to conclude. * ¼. A strange match. I wonder if it would make more sense in the context of their rivalry, which I don’t recall the intimate details of. Watching it back now it looks like two up and comers making a brief gasp for respectability in a not very interesting way before Orton ruthlessly puts them down. Ultimately DiBiase would underwhelm for the rest of his stint in WWE, while Rhodes went through a succession of great gimmicks that all seemed best suited for the upper midcard, so it’s not like WWE inadvertently killed off two main eventers here. A pity the lengthy Legacy angle just fizzled out, though.


You can see the desperation to keep this version of the Ladder match fresh, as they shoehorn ten men in this year to see if the sheer amount of people competing will force the invention of some new stunts. Really, they just needed to ensure Kofi was in there. Shelton and M.V.P pin Kane in the corner with a ladder, and Kofi charges up it to hit the Big Red Monster with a koronco buster. Unfortunately for Kofi he stumbles on his way up, and then Kane powerbombs him hard on the ladder! Jack Swagger gets trapped underneath a standing ladder, and Hardy and Christian slide other horizontal ones through the gaps, sending them smashing into Swagger’s chest! Evan Bourne flies onto Christian with Air Bourne off a ladder. Kane tries to climb, but Ziggler scrambles over him! Doesn’t work though, and the monster is so livid with him he lies him on top of one half of the ladder, and then smashes the other half on top of him, so hard and incessantly breaks off its hinges! Kofi is undeterred by the fact that this ladder now obviously cannot be used, and uses the two separate pieces at stilts! He makes an admirable fist of getting near the briefcase before McUntyre inevitably denies him. The field thins out until it’s Christian and Swagger alone on top of the ladder- Swagger bounces the briefcase into Christian, sending him flying to the mat, and then snares it for himself to win the match! *** ¼. Good fun as ever, although the rare moments of genuine originality were kind of forced and silly. Otherwise, it was mostly slight variations on spots that have been seen before. I’m not convinced the best way to enjoy these matches is to watch six of them essentially back to back like I have. Swagger’s resulting won with the World Heavyyweight Championship would be short and forgettable, and do little for his career long term. In hindsight it would have been nice to see one of the veterans like Christian or Matt Hardy get the opportunity.


Sheamus’ rise to the top was positively meteoric- plucked from midcard obscurity to beat John Cena for the WWE Championship in an astonishing upset at TLC 2009, he now faces off against Triple H in his Wrestlemania debut!

Sheamus proclaims he is the future to Hunter at the beginning of the match, which the veteran doesn’t seem to appreciate, responding as he does with a slap across the face. The Irishman takes him to the floor and throws him into the ring steps and barricade. Advantage: Sheamus. ‘The King of Kings’ borrows much of his early offense from his 1980s heroes- a figure four leg lock, a Harley Race knee, a DDT. In comparsion, Sheamus struggles to get any of his signatures, with HHH avoiding the High Cross and the Brogue Kick. However, Sheamus then blocks the Pedigree, and does get the Brogue Kick for a near fall. Hunter roars back with his AA Spinebuster. Sheamus lands another Brogue Kick from the apron, and seems to have HHH in real trouble, Unfortunately for him, he shows his inexperience and doesn’t go for the cover. Instead, he drags ‘the Game’ to his feet, where Hunter gets a flash Pedigree and secures the pinfall! ** ¾. This was extremely slow paced, which is a shame because it was only just over ten minutes long. It was technically sound though, and some of the near falls were quite good.


If Mysterio loses, he has to join Punk’s Straight Edge Society! Sinister cult leader CM Punk was maybe the best CM Punk of all the CM Punks. He made this feud personal by gatecrashing an in ring birthday celebration for Mysterio’s daughter and making her cry by slapping her Dad and calling him a coward. So despicable!

There are some terrific, crisp sequences in this. For all of Punk’s many strengths he was prone to moments of awkward sloppiness in the ring at times, but he meshes with Rey’s lucha stylings perfectly. It’s a small moment, but I like the way Punk counters Mysterio’s crossbody with a powerslam. It’s one, fluid motion, properly impressive. Mysterio attempts to 619 Punk, but loyal Straight Edge disciple Serena hops onto the ring apron to stop.him. Fellow S.E.S member Luke Gallows appears on the opposite apron, so Mysterio huracanranas Punk into him, sending him down to the floor. Rey capitalises to hit Punk with the 619, and a Springboard Splash gets the win. ** ¾. This was far too short, but as you’d expect they made the best of their limited time and packed a ton of action into it. They’d get better opportunities at upcoming PPVs.


Bret’s first chance of physical revenge on Vince McMahon for the Montreal Incident seems to be derailed when ‘the Boss’ reveals he has paid off the entire Hart Family to act as lumberjacks for the match and screw Bret again! Things look bleak for our hero, but it turns out that the Harts knew this would happen, and decided to cash Vince’s cheques then turn their backs on him! So it’s now a Lumberjack match where all the lumberjacks hate McMahon, and Bruce Hart is the special guest referee and he hates McMahon, and Bret Hart isn’t mad keen on him either. As such, this is less a match than a 10 minute beating. Tyson Kidd and D.H Smith combine to give him a Hart Attack on the floor. Bret goes to down with a crowbar and pulverises the grapefruits with some stomping. Next, he grabs a steel chair, and hits Vince with it so many times that it becomes a bit uncomfortable really. Once he’s done with that, he slaps on the Sharpshooter to end the slaughter. *. This turned out to be monotonous and hard to enjoy, but with Bret’s massive physical limitations there was very little they could do. It would have been better to use Kidd and Smith as Bret’s avatars against Vince McMahon’s Showmiz or JeriShow or something, and within that match Bret could have got some decent shots in on his nemesis. In the end, this just felt like a bit of a sad farewell for both men.


Edge and Chris Jericho were tag team champions together until the Rated-R Superstar suffered a serious injury that kept him out for a while. In his absence, Jericho retained the tag championships with the Big Show and spoke of his delight that his former partner was put on the injury list. A fuming Edge returned to win the Royal Rumble, Jericho won the World Heavyweight Championship inside the Elimination Chamber, and now we’re here.

Edge had been making Jericho fear the Spear in the build up to the match, and he tries to use the move early. Y2J wisely ducks to the floor though. Back in the ring, Jericho tries to secure the Walls, but the challenger pushes himself free. Next, Jericho tries the Codebreaker, but Edge blocks and tries the Spear again. This time Jericho leapfrogs him and wraps him up in the Walls of Jericho! Which is especially perilous for Edge because it was an Achilles tendon injury that ruled him out for so long, and now Jericho’s torturing and tearing at it! He eventually battles free, then avoids a Lionsault and hits the Edge-o-Matic for a close near fall. Jericho dazes him with a forearm to the head, and tries for a Spear of his own! Edge’s expertise with the move means he’s got an ingenious counter in mind though- a boot to the face. Now it’s Edge trying the Spear, but he charges into the Codebreaker! Jericho finally makes up his mind that he should target the Achilles, and this spate of viciousness culminates in the Walls of Jericho! Edge suffers for slightly longer than is believable, and in the end inches over to the bottom rope. A frustrated Jericho charges with a Cactus Clothesline which sends both men tumbling out. Running out of ideas, the champion snatches his title belt, and having first taken out the referee accidentally on purpose, slams it into Edge. It’s still only enough for two, but Jericho follows the kick-out with a Codebreaker, and that’s enough for him to keep the World Heavyweight Championship. *** ½. The earlier stages of the match were quite slow considering the talent involved, which is a shame because they had a good idea with both men obsessing over the Spear. It was hard to really get invested in it when they were moving at such a languid pace. The near falls were superb though, and the Codebreaker was an exciting, sharp, sudden finish. They pay off the Spear storyline quite nicely in a post match angle as well, as Edge, livid that his nemesis has stolen a win from him, gets vengeance by Spearing him off the announce table and through the guardrail!


Everyone hits their finishers in a row because they’ve only got three minutes to cram all the ladies into the match. Vickie Guerrero pays tribute to Eddie by turning one of his moves into a cruel joke about her weight, as she hits a ‘Hog Splash’ and gets the pin. ¾ *. It’s not my place to complain about the way Vickie was portrayed on screen I suppose, but I do wonder how she could possibly handle all the weight jibes. She was an impressive enough heel just doing her “excuse me!” catchphrase, all the other mockery was just unnecessary.


John Cena was the WWE Champion until he crossed Vince McMahon, who forced him to defend his belt against Batista having just competed in a gruelling Elimination Chamber. Predictably, he came up short. The rematch was set for Wrestlemania, and the debate leading up to the match was why Batista had never become the face of WWE in the same way Cena had. Batista felt he’d been mistreated, Cena believed it was because he didn’t work hard enough.

Say what you will about these guys, they know how to do a good near fall. Batista cinches a rear chinlock in on Cena suspiciously early, and it turns out it’s because they’re saving all their energy to just go hell for leather with big moves and big kick-outs for about two thirds of this thirteen minute match. A slugfest allows the crowd to do the booing and the yaying, and ensures they’re paying attention to what’s about to come. Cena tries to hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Batista cuts him off with a spinebuster! The challenger beats the champion in a test of strength on the top rope, which is a nice little twist on that familiar old trope. Cena hits a Super Five Knuckle Shuffle! Batista Bomb from, uh, Batista! One, two, not quite three! He tries again, but Cena reverses into the Attitude Adjustment for another close two count. Cena decides to head up top again and tries his guillotine leg drop, but the Animal catches him mid dive with a Spinebuster, which actually broke Cena’s neck when it was used at Summerslam 2008! No time to dwell on that though, as the Batista Bomb is countered yet again, and Cena wraps the champ up in the STF to get the tap out and regain what is essentially his property! *** ¾. A blockbuster action movie of a match! All style and no substance, but man, there was a lot of style. It hasn’t and won’t go down in history as an all time great Wrestlemania title fight, but Cena and Batista went out with a game plan and stuck to it, and I’m so pleased they did it that way instead of trying to do a 25 minute epic. That might have been moderately disastrous.


I think this is very good but a step down from Wrestlemania 25. It does have some advantages over its predecessor- it’s smoother and more consistently entertaining, with the earlier stages being noticeably livelier than at Wrestlemania 25. Even before the near falls kick in there are some properly exciting moments- ‘Taker teases a plancha only for Shawn to scurry back into the ring before he can take to the skies, which is a neat little callback to years gone by; HBK locks in a figure four that mostly serves to make the Deadman all angry and fired up; and most dramatically of all, an Asai Moonsault is countered with a Tombstone Piledriver on the floor! As far as opening stretches go it’s not instantly captivating like the classics, although really Taker and Shawn already had everyone’s attention and could have kept it with a 15 minute series of hammerlock reversals. But, it’s good viewing, and more interesting than last year’s. The main problem it suffers is heightened expectations. Going into Wrestlemania 25 fans didn’t know entirely what to expect, and what they received was huge, thrilling near falls that had everyone going absolutely bananas. Going into Wrestlemania 26, fans knew what to expect- huge, thrilling near falls. They get them and they get them in spades, but because everyone’s anticipating them the reaction to them isn’t quite as genuine and stirring as at 25. That’s a shame, because there are some incredible moments in this, and yet they can’t help but feel slightly underwhelming. I think also perhaps Shawn brings out Sweet Chin Music a bit too early, he’s already hit two and failed to put ‘Taker away with a fair chunk of the match still to go. It’s an unnecessary signpost that the Deadman is winning, because if Shawn hits his finisher twice and it doesn’t get the win, where can he go from there? Outside of a Young Bucks style Superkick party any conceivable finish would seem a bit anti-climactic. It’s still a great near fall stretch though, it’s harder to suspend your disbelief but you can still enjoy the sound and the fury. Undertaker tries to send Shawn for the Last Ride through the announce table, but Michaels drops out the back door and catches him with Sweet Chin Music. From there, he ascends to the top turnbuckle, and drives both himself and Taker through the table with a moonsault! An outstanding stunt! The finish is so utterly Shawn Michaels- he’s completely exhausted, pulling himself back to his feet by Taker’s clothes. He delivers one, last, defiant slap to Undertaker, and gets dropped with a Tombstoned and his career finished. It’s silly and melodramatic, but that was kind of Shawn’s charm. I don’t think this was as good as the Wrestlemania 25 match. It’s very similar but the most important part is slightly weaker, through no real fault of their own. But it’s a worthy send off for Shawn, it’s attention grabbing and slightly overblown but really, really good. ****. Post match, Taker gruffly brings Shawn to his feet, allowing the Showstopper to walk to the match to the silence of the announcers and the adoration of the crowd in a moment that remains properly touching. Jerry Lawler signs off the broadcast with “Goodbye. We’ll miss you.” Which is such a fabulous call, simple and heartfelt in a business that often doesn’t do simple and heartfelt.

The final score: review Good
The 411
This is essentially Bret Hart's dream show- he gets to pulverise Vince McMahon for ten minutes, and Shawn Michaels retires! Anyway, this is a good Wrestlemania- the undercard is largely unspectacular but it breezes by inoffensively, and the three biggest matches all deliver to a certain degree. Taker-Michaels is not just an excellent match but marks what appears to genuinely be Shawn Michaels' last match, so it has a lot of historical and sentimental value as well. It's not quite as good as the stacked looking card would suggest, but it's a definite rebound from Wrestlemania 25.

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Wrestlemania 26, Jack Stevenson