wrestling / Video Reviews

Kevin’s RetrospectiveMania Series: WrestleMania XX

November 11, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
WrestleMania XX Eddie Guerrero Kurt ANgle WrestleMania 20
WWE WrestleMania XX
March 14th, 2004 | Madison Square Garden in New York, New York | Attendance: 18,500

Like WrestleMania 1 and 10, WWE returned to Madison Square Garden for the 20th edition. The company seemed to be in something of a transitional period. Brock Lesnar was in line to be the top guy but was now on his way out. Goldberg was on the verge of lasting less than a year. Steve Austin was gone. The Rock was no longer a full time wrestler. Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit were getting pushes, while a new trio of potential future stars were making their Mania debuts.

• Match quality – Self-explanatory. Will always be the longest section.
• Memorability – How memorable is the show?
• Historical significance – The impact the show had on wrestling
• Booking decisions – Did the event have logical booking decisions for the stories they told
• Presentation – Things like stage setup, video packages, commentary, etc.
• Pacing/Flow – How well is the show laid out? Does it drag or move along smoothly?
• Entertainment – The non-wrestling elements like promos, celebrity interaction, concerts, etc.



Match Quality

WWE United States Championship: Big Show [c] vs. John Cena ~ The first Mania match for John Cena. He sported a Patrick Ewing throwback jersey and delivered one of his raps before the bell. Big Show entered as a dominant champion so it made sense that he overpowered Cena at every turn. While his offense wasn’t all that interesting, the crowd was red hot for Cena and remained invested. I liked Show busting out a Cobra Clutch, especially when you consider he used a variation of it during his ECW run. Cena rallied and hit the FU to a huge pop but it was only good for a near fall. Kicking out of a finisher in the opener is not something I like though it made sense with how Show was booked. Cena snuck in a brass knux shot and hit a second FU to capture his first championship in 9:14. Weird choice to open as it wasn’t exactly a hot start. Still, it accomplished its goal and had a hot crowd. [**]

World Tag Team Championship: Booker T & Rob Van Dam [c] vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Garrison Cade & Mark Jindrak vs. La Resistance ~ This got introduced as being a “sudden death” match. I like that. That RVD/Booker mashup theme is absurd. I love it. What I didn’t love was this match. It felt like complete filler. Nobody in the crowd cared about anything done unless it was by the champs. Even the Dudley Boyz didn’t get a great response. This meandered on with nothing of note happening until Booker hit the Scissors Kick. RVD immediately followed with the Five Star Frog Splash, leading the team to retain in 7:51. An inoffensive match that didn’t go too long. But it also didn’t really belong on this card. [*¾]

Chris Jericho vs. Christian ~ I loved this angle. I feel like it’s one of the more underrated ones in WWE history. There was a lot of animosity here and they played it up. Jericho came out with a level of aggression that we didn’t often see from him in this era. Feelings for Trish Stratus will do that to you. I really appreciated how even these guys looked. Jericho was a much bigger star at this point but made sure that Christian came out looking great. The highlight was Jericho countering a Texas Cloverleaf into the Walls of Jericho. Christian reached the ropes and crawled outside but Jericho was so pissed that he refused to break the hold. That’s such a great combination of quality wrestling, storytelling, and character work. Trish came to ringside and Christian threw her down. Jericho checked on her but took an accidental elbow from her. Christian rolled Jericho up to steal it in 14:52. A little bit of everything in this. An overlooked Mania gem. [****]

Evolution vs. The Rock n’ Sock Connection ~ Mick Foley’s first match in four years. This started hot with Rock and Foley hitting the ring and cleaning house. It calmed down into a more traditional tag soon after. Foley became your face in peril. That’s interesting since the storyline was built around him but he does make way more sense in that role than Rock. The eventual hot tag was fun. The real treat was watching Flair and Rock interact. Two of the greats who I wish had a feud at some point. Flair doing a strutting version of the People’s Elbow was classic. This went back around into a brawl near the end with Foley and Orton as the legal men. Foley pulled out Mr. Socko only to walk right into the RKO and the loss after 17:03. That was a lot of fun. It was paced well, everything moved along briskly, everyone got a chance to shine, and it ended at the right time. [***½]

Playboy Evening Gown Match: Miss Jackie and Stacy Keibler vs. Sable and Torrie Wilson ~ The start of a trend where women got on the WrestleMania card because of their Playboy spread. The story was that Sable and Torrie appeared in Playboy and the other ladies were jealous. Before the bell, Sable decided they should all drop the evening gowns and wrestle in underwear. They all oblige except Miss Jackie, making her the biggest heel of the night. She got stripped anyway. This was barely wrestling but it didn’t waste much time and the crowd was into it. Plus, Torrie actually busted out a flying cross body. Torrie rolled up Jackie to win in 2:33. They got in, did their spots and got out. Fine enough. [½*]

WWE Cruiserweight Championship Open Invitational ~ Participants included Cruiserweight Champion Chavo Guerrero, Nunzio, Jamie Noble, Tajiri, Akio, Funaki, Shannon Moore, Ultimo Dragon, Billy Kidman, and Rey Mysterio. Rey dressed like Flash. Ultimo tripped during his entrance but it was cut from this version. This worked like a gauntlet match. Two men started while the rest waited around the ring. When someone got eliminated, another entered. There were plenty of moving parts in this and they did so quickly. I’m not going to recap it all. Just know that things kept moving fast enough to engage me throughout. It came down to Rey Mysterio and Chavo Guerrero. Chavo Classic got involved, holding Rey’s legs down on a pin attempt. That allowed Chavo to retain in 10:48. Moving fast was both good and bad. It allowed this to be entertaining but also made it so it was hard to care about anything. Solid enough though. [**½]

Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg ~ Stone Cold Steve Austin was the guest referee. This should have been a massive deal. We’ll eventually get to their banger at WrestleMania 33 but both guys were over a decade younger and closer to their primes here. The crowd knew both men were leaving the company and proceeded to take a huge dump on this match. Chants ranged from “boring” to “this match sucks” to flat out singing goodbye to both of them. Goldberg and Brock Lesnar didn’t help things by putting in as little effort as possible. If you think Brock doesn’t try in some of his recent matches, he looks like the hardest working man in wrestling compared to this. They did some finisher kickouts and Goldberg won with the Jackhammer in 13:42. Complete garbage. The only thing that keeps this from negative stars was the crowd because it is entertaining to hear that reaction. [DUD]

WWE Tag Team Championship: Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty [c] vs. APA vs. Basham Brothers vs. The World’s Greatest Tag Team ~ Feels like more of the same from earlier. And that’s basically what it was. Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin were the highlights. The Bashams did a lot of nothing. Bradshaw threw some vicious clotheslines ahead of his singles push. Rikishi and Scott 2 Hotty were the guys the crowd cared about. Bradshaw hit a Basham with the Clothesline from Hell before Rikishi dumped him out and sat on the Basham to retain in 6:01. They kept this short and to the point but none of it felt like it mattered. [*¾]

WWE Women’s Championship: Victoria [c] vs. Molly Holly ~ As the famous story goes, Molly Holly offered to get shaved bald so there could be a Women’s Title match on this card. That’s the stipulation here. The issue here was that both women are capable of more yet there was seemingly no plan to let them shine. It felt like something I’d see on Raw. The back and forth was ultimately fine but Jerry Lawler dragged it down by focusing on Molly’s granny panties and everything but the match. Molly made the mistake of trying Victoria’s Widow’s Peak but the master of the move countered into a backslide and won at 4:53. A disappointment. [**]

WWE Championship: Eddie Guerrero [c] vs. Kurt Angle ~ I’ll preface this by pointing out that this is a favorite of mine. Kurt Angle looked to keep the pace slow while Eddie wanted to quicken it. Such a simple story to build a match around yet it works masterfully. Angle put the focus on Eddie’s ribs. Belly to belly suplexes were handy in this case. I loved how Eddie nearly hit the Frog Splash in the opening minutes after getting dominated. It was as if he could get his ass kicked but he’d be okay because he had that in his arsenal. Angle got frustrated because he was in control yet Eddie kept finding openings. The champion gained confidence with each of his hope spots. Then it was Eddie’s turn to get thwarted as Angle had a counter ready for his signature offense. Since there weren’t false finishes in each match back in 2004, the fans totally bit on the Frog Splash near fall. It got one of the best reactions of the night. Then, we got one of the most clever finishes ever. Eddie escaped the Ankle Lock and loosened his boot to ease the pressure on the damage. Angle pounced and put the hold back on, only for Eddie to slip out of the boot. A stunned Angle then got pulled into an inside cradle to lose in 21:32. And Eddie used the ropes for leverage. And his ankle wasn’t really hurt. A perfect ending for the story the rivalry was telling. Eddie was the kind of champion who cheated and he celebrated that fact. Everything leading up to it was also tremendous. Stellar pro wrestling. [****½]

Kane vs. The Undertaker ~ A WrestleMania XIV rematch. I feel like your enjoyment level on this is based on your feelings about the Undertaker. If you love his whole gimmick, you’ll probably dig this. I have never been a huge Undertaker fan, though I love bits of his career. 2004 wasn’t one of those times. They played the hits with a few changes like Kane pulling Undertaker off the top during Old School. It made you think that maybe this Deadman wasn’t as good as the original. But he still hit a Tombstone to win in 7:45. It took three to beat Kane in 1998. Lame match but a really cool moment. [*¼]

World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H [c] vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels ~ The first Triple Threat match for a World Title at WrestleMania. A lot of the early stuff here was Michaels and Benoit taking turns going after Triple H after weeks of frustration. That eventually backfired as they started fighting each other. From there, it became a match where the guys were constantly trading offense. You never felt like one man gained a clear upper hand over. And when they got close, the third guy who interrupt and swing the momentum. There were a bunch of great little moments thrown in. For example, Benoit going for the Sharpshooter on Shawn got a great pop. And it led to Shawn being busted wide open, making him even more vulnerable when Benoit attempted the Crippler Crossface. Benoit got taken out by a DX double suplex through a table, giving us another installment of HBK vs. HHH. They went at it for a while before Benoit returned. He had to get rid of Shawn before finally trapping HHH in the Crippler Crossface. When HHH got close to the ropes, he rolled him to the middle of the rig and Triple H tapped out at the 24:47 mark. One of the greatest triple threat matches in history. It had non-stop action, told a compelling tale, and featured an emotional crowd that hung on every moment. Incredible. To this point, the best main event in Mania history. [****¾]

I’ve heard several people call this one of the greatest WrestleManias from an in-ring standpoint. I can see where that logic comes from. It features two all-time classics. I also think Jericho/Christian is underrated by most and a hell of a Mania outing. Throw in a fun Evolution/Rock n’ Sock tag and you’ve got four really good pieces. The issue is that the show features 12 matches. The other eight are largely forgettable. That doesn’t bode well for the score here but the high quality stuff is way high quality so it’ll pass.

SCORE: 6.5





The final image of this event should be iconic. Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit, two friends who were always told they couldn’t make it to the top, standing tall as the top champions in the biggest company in the world. Unfortunately, it has been tarnished by Benoit’s legacy. Still, there are some other memorable moments here. The return of the Undertaker as the Deadman is a big one. The crowd reaction for the Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar debacle is also remembered by most. Even smaller things like Molly Holly getting her head shaved and Trish Stratus turning heel are often recalled by many.

SCORE: 8.0



Historical Significance


Considering this show featured the first WrestleMania matches for John Cena, Randy Orton, and Batista, you can call it historic. Those are three massive stars in big situations. This also was the show where Cena won the first of his many championships. Throw in the return of the Undertaker and the first Triple Threat main event in Mania history and this is a pretty noteworthy event.

SCORE: 7.5



Booking Decisions


This was a show that got a vast majority of the booking decisions right. As far as I could tell, the right person went over in each match. The most notable were John Cena, Chris Benoit, Eddie Guerrero, Evolution, and the Undertaker. I also thought that Christian winning was a great move and an underrated one. It helped solidify him moving forward as a guy who could reasonably be a major player. I do think there were a few too many matches booked in the first place, especially when some were simply filler. That keeps this from a perfect score but this is a Mania that mostly nailed this section.

SCORE: 9.0





I love Madison Square Garden. I mentioned it during my writeups for both WrestleMania I and X. Here, I was disappointed that they opted to go against the usual MSG entrance but I still love the look of the arena. There’s just something about it that feels special. Commentary on the Smackdown side was fine though Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler were worse than they’ve ever been on this one. I assume that will only get worse over time. The video packages were all well done though the intro of the show ended on the strangest image of Vince, Shane, and a baby. It just felt off.

SCORE: 7.5





I know people like to harp on the most recent Manias for their length. I get it. But the runtime here is easily this show’s biggest problem. It is the longest Mania to this point and you can definitely feel it. For example, the little section where they introduce the Hall of Fame inductees took forever. The matches were also paced weird. I think it would’ve worked better to slip the Evolution tag a bit lower as the gap between that and Eddie/Angle features a bunch of lackluster matches.

SCORE: 5.0





Part of the reason this show goes on so long is because of the non-wrestling segments. Some of it was good. I enjoyed Evolution’s promo in the staircase that Orton threw Foley down. I loved Trish’s heel turn and even had fun with a segment involving Bobby Heenan, Mean Gene, Mae Young, and Fabulous Moolah. On the flip side, there was a bit involving Donald Trump and Jesse Ventura that served no purpose. I also found the decently long Rock promo to be kind of a waste of time. It wasn’t us to his usual standards. I’d say this section was a mixed bag but mostly solid.

SCORE: 6.5





A show that exceeded my expectations. It has some clear pacing issues and a few of the matches don’t really have any business on a WrestleMania card. However, the highs are way high. You’ve got some great matches in there, some historic happenings, big stars, and a memorable close to the show. I really enjoyed this one.

TOTAL: 50/70


WrestleMania Rankings
1. WrestleMania XIX – 62/70
2. WrestleMania X-Seven – 61/70
3. WrestleMania III – 55/70
4. WrestleMania X – 52/70
5. WrestleMania VIII – 50.5/70
6. WrestleMania XX – 50/70
7. WrestleMania I – 50/70
8. WrestleMania XII – 48.5/70
9. WrestleMania VII – 46/70
10. WrestleMania XIV – 46/70
11. WrestleMania VI – 44/70
12. WrestleMania X8 – 43.5/70
13. WrestleMania 2000 – 39.5/70
14. WrestleMania V – 39/70
15. WrestleMania 13 – 37/70
16. WrestleMania XV – 35/70
17. WrestleMania IV – 32/70
18. WrestleMania XI – 31.5/70
19. WrestleMania IX – 31.5/70
20. WrestleMania II – 29/70

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WrestleMania XX, Kevin Pantoja