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Random Network Reviews: WWE WrestleMania XXVI

July 2, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
Shawn Michaels Undertaker WWE WrestleMania Image Credit: WWE
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Random Network Reviews: WWE WrestleMania XXVI  

WWE WrestleMania XXVI
March 28th, 2010 | University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona | Attendance: 72,219

I love when WrestleMania goes somewhere new. Instead of New York or California, this one was in Phoenix, which is different. This year’s edition centered around the Streak vs. Career stipulation for the rematch between The Undertaker and Shawn Michaels. Their match at Mania XXV is one of the greatest ever and they found an excellent way to up the ante for the rematch. I haven’t seen this show since watching live with a big group of friends, so it’ll be interesting to see how I feel about this time around.

Fantasia sings “America the Beautiful” to open the festivities. This is followed by your typical WrestleMania opening promo about moments, legends, etc. Commentary is Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker.

WWE Unified Tag Team Championship: Big Show and The Miz (c) def. John Morrison and R-Truth in 3:21
Big Show and Miz’s mashed up theme is strange. The visual of Miz with three titles (two tag and the United States) is awesome, pun intended. Big Show handles most of the work for his team, tossing around Truth and Morrison. Morrison kicks Show off the second rope and he nearly lands on Truth’s head. That would have been horrible. Morrison gets in some offense on his former partner until Show blind tags in and knocks Morrison out. He covers and wins in quick fashion. Too short for anything to get going. 

We get a recap of things that went down at Axxess.

Randy Orton def. Cody Rhodes and Ted Dibiase in 9:01
I mostly enjoyed all three guys then but the stable never clicked for me. I ended up only caring about Cody by the following year. This has a weird setup because it was clear the company only cared about Orton and Dibiase around this time. Rhodes and Dibiase are still buddies, so they work together and double team Orton. We get the obvious implosion because only one of them can win. That allows Orton to fire up and go into his FIVE MOVES OF DOOM. Orton hits them with the double rope hung DDT and is left with Rhodes. Instead of hitting the RKO, he punts him. Dibiase nearly steals it but eats the RKO and that’s all. Worse than I remembered. Rhodes and Dibiase looked completely inferior, so this didn’t help them at all. **

Vickie Guerrero and her partners in the Divas clusterfuck match later get interviewed. Vickie gets massive heat on her promo. She brought in Jillian Hall to do a horrible rendition of “Simply The Best.” When the team left, Santino entered the picture and snapped into a Slim Jim. When he did, Jillian magically turned into “Mae No So Young.” She kissed Santino, who bit again and got Gene Mean in a dress. Another snap led to Melina, who got a pop since she was out with a torn ACL.

Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Jack Swagger def. Christian, Dolph Ziggler, WWE Intercontinental Champion Drew McIntyre, Evan Bourne, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Matt Hardy, MVP and Shelton Benjamin in 13:38
Striker messes up by saying Benjamin has been in every MITB match, but he missed 2007. The first MITB featured six men but it has now grown to include ten. Big scramble starts things with everyone brawling. Swagger and Hardy get knocked off the ladder by Kofi after Kane chokeslams Bourne to the outside. Dolph gets the next big spot with a Zig Zag off a ladder on Christian. Bourne whiffs on a Meteora spot. In a cool moment, Swagger stands under an open ladder and has two others driven into his ribs, sandwiching him. They’re moving from spot to spot quickly. Bourne hits an SSP off a ladder and it costs him since he had the chance to win. He then nearly dies when Matt hip tosses him off one. Kane beats the hell out of Dolph for a bit since everyone seems to have gone to sleep outside. He breaks a ladder, leading to Kofi using the two sides of the ladder as stilts. It’s a cool idea but looks dumb since there are plenty of sturdy ladders around. McIntyre stops him and is left alone. After a few others come close, Swagger surprises everyone by pulling down the briefcase. It was one of those things where the WWE gives a guy zero push, then gives him something big and it fails. He would cash in two days later and have a flop of a title reign. The match itself is in the running for worst MITB matches ever. Nothing of real note happened and having ten guys in made it too crowded. ***¼

The Hall of Fame is recapped and the inductees come to the stage. The Hart Family is there for Stu, Wendi Richter, Mad Dog Vachon, Antonio Inoki, Bob Uecker, the former wife of Gorgeous George and Ted Dibiase are there.

Triple H def. Sheamus in 12:06
Triple H pinned Sheamus in the Elimination Chamber to end his first WWE Title reign. He says that if Sheamus wins, his career skyrockets, but if he loses, it goes downhill. That plays right into things as the story sees HHH always one step ahead of the newcomer. Once Sheamus takes over, he wears down Triple H’s back. I don’t if it’s just because he’s wrestling Sheamus, but Triple H looks extra tan here. HHH avoids the razor’s edge and Brogue Kick, while Sheamus counters the Pedigree twice. He hits the Brogue Kick and Triple H becomes the first man to kick out of it. HHH looks out of it but might have been playing possum because he hits the Pedigree from out of nowhere to win. Some solid storytelling but the match just wasn’t interesting enough to be as good as it could have been. **½

Rey Mysterio def. CM Punk w/ The Straight Edge Society in 6:28
I loved the build to this. Punk calling out Rey in front of his family and singing “Happy Birthday” to Rey’s daughter was incredible. Punk is sporting G.I. Joe inspired trunks because he’s awesome, while Rey pays tribute to the popular Avatar film. The SES play mind games by faking jumping into the ring and distracting Rey. Rey tries a wheelbarrow move off the apron but gets caught and Punk drops him face first on the steel steps. Rey’s comeback inside is thwarted when Punk catches his springboard cross body into a powerslam for two. They flub a Rey backflip DDT spot that leads to a near fall. They go into a great series of countering the 619 and GTS before Rey misses a frog splash. The finish is smart, with Serena stepping in the way of the 619. Punk goes for the GTS but Rey counters with a rana that knocks Gallows off the apron. He hits the 619 and splash to win. A tidy match that left me wanting more, which I would get at the next two PPVs. ***¼

No Holds Barred: Bret Hart def. Vince McMahon in 11:09
Vince comes out and says he paid off some lumberjacks, who turn out to be the Hart Family. This whole thing is stupid because nobody believed the Harts turned on Bret and it wasn’t needed. Bruce Hart reveals himself as the referee. Bret gets on the mic to say that the Harts got paid up front, proving it was all a ruse. They’re still with Bret and basically robbed Vince. Bret and the rest of the Harts take their time kicking Vince’s ass. I know people wanted to see Vince get his but this goes on for far too long. Bret uses a chair to destroy Vince from head to toe. He finally wins with the Sharpshooter. I’d have switched the length of this with Punk/Rey. Too long to be any good. At least Bret got televised revenge. ½*

World Heavyweight Championship: Chris Jericho (c) def. Edge in 15:46
These two formed a team, but Edge got hurt, so Jericho ran him down for it. Edge made an early return, winning the Rumble and Jericho won the World Title a month later. Since the feud was built on Edge’s Spear, he wisely attempts it early but misses. From there, Jericho takes over. Regardless of who has control, they showcase that both guys know each other well. Jericho counters the Spear into the Walls of Jericho but Edge survives. The crowd loved that spot. Edge avoids the Lionsault and Jericho goes for a Spear of his own. Edge blocks with a boot only to have his next Spear countered into an awesome Codebreaker! Jericho took aim at Edge’s recently repaid Achilles tendon, including a great half crab. Or is it the Maple Leaf since he’s Canadian? Jericho hits Edge with the title for a near fall before winning with a second Codebreaker. The finish felt anti-climactic. Other than that though, this was a smartly worked match that built to intriguing drama. The stuff made sense and they sold well but I admit I was hoping for more from them. ***½

Jericho attempts to assault Edge some more but it backfires when he gets speared through the ringside barricade.

The pre-show battle royal gets recapped, which was won by Yoshi Tatsu for unknown reasons.

Alicia Fox, Layla, WWE Divas Champion Maryse, WWE Women’s Champion Michelle McCool and Vickie Guerrero def. Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres, Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly and Mickie James in 3:20
I’m a sucker for LayCool. Vickie bullies Gail to start but Beth gets tagged and Vickie’s reaction is perfect. McCool has the highlight by pulling Kelly off a pin into the Faith Breaker. That sets up the finisher barrage from everyone involved, with some of them looking incredibly bad (Maryse’s DDT and Gail’s Eat Defeat mainly). Kelly ends up on the mat and the heels help Vickie to the top for the Bullfrog splash. Vickie pins Kelly so poorly that she pulls her shoulders off the mat and has to pancake her down into another pin. Vickie’s antics and that McCool spot kept this from being a DUD. ¼*

WWE Championship: John Cena def. Batista (c) in 13:38
Batista had a legitimate beef in this feud. He and Cena had almost mirror image rises to the top, but Cena was made into “the man” and not him. Things are heated from the start and Batista wallops Cena with a clothesline. Batista counters an early AA attempt into a rough looking DDT. Cena might be hurt, so Batista moves to a chinlock. Cena powers out but again finds himself in trouble against the one man he just can’t beat. The Five Knuckle Shuffle is avoided with a big spinebuster. Batista survives the STF but gets hit with a super Five Knuckle Shuffle. They both kick out of each other’s finishers after a great series of reversals. They repeat the spot that broke Cena’s neck two years earlier, but with a spinebuster instead of the Batista Bomb. He goes for the powerbomb but Cena slips free and slaps on the STF, making Batista. I enjoyed the hell out of that. It had the heavyweight title fight feeling that a lot of matches lack. In the end, they threw their best offense at one another and it was Cena who proved he could beat Batista. A simple story to tell and these guys delivered. ****

Career vs. Streak: The Undertaker def. Shawn Michaels in 23:59
Their match a year prior is one of the greatest I’ve ever seen. They go face to face and Shawn does the throat cut taunt, angering Undertaker. Shawn comes in obsessed with this match, but gets overwhelmed and eats Old School. Taker seems to tweak his knee, who Shawn goes to it to counter a chokeslam. Taker looks for the dive that nearly killed him last year, but Shawn stops it with another attack on the knee. After Taker hits the guillotine leg drop, Shawn comes back with a figure four. Shortly after, Shawn kips up right into a chokeslam for two. Taker gets angrier each time Shawn kicks out. Outside, Shawn tries an Asai moonsault but gets caught and TOMBSTONED ON THE OUTSIDE! HE’S DEAD! Both men are down, so Shawn is able to kick out once finally pinned. Shawn either counters the Last Ride or Taker’s leg gives out, leading to a near fall. Taker gets his knees up on the big elbow and Shawn counters Hell’s Gates into a pin for two. Sweet Chin Music hits from out of nowhere for two. The next one is blocked and Shawn kicks out of the WEDGIEBOMB (Last Ride). Trying to kill Shawn, Taker goes for a Last Ride through the announce table. Shawn flips free and nails SCM. With Taker on the table, Shawn comes off the top with a moonsault! He’s pulling out all the stops. Once back inside, he hits SCM and somehow only gets two. Taker sidesteps another SCM and nails a chokeslam and tombstone, yet Shawn manages to get a shoulder up. Taker is beside himself. He stops in the middle of the throat slash taunt as Shawn struggles to his knees. Taker yells for him to stay down. It’s a rare moment of mercy from him. Defiant until the end, Shawn does the throat clash gesture and slaps Undertaker. Taker responds with a goddamn jumping Tombstone that finishes HBK. They had a ton to live up to and didn’t disappoint. A fantastic story told by two of the best ever. They built to bigger things as the match went on, with Shawn doing everything he possibly could to desperately save his career. They worked a brilliant match with the right amount of psychology and emotion throughout. Nearly flawless. ****¾

Shawn shakes Undertaker’s hand before getting a standing ovation from fans and commentators on his way out.

The final score: review Good
The 411
This show features some great things, but also some bad things. To get that bad out of the way, I found the women’s tag, opener and Bret/Vince matches to be dire at times, while the Legacy triple threat was kind of just there. HHH/Sheamus was solid and though the Money in the Bank match was one of the worst ever, it was still an enjoyable match. The show stands out because of the rest of the card. Punk/Mysterio is one of the better six minute matches I’ve seen, while Jericho and Edge delivered a strong title match. The last two matches shine brightest though. Batista/Cena blew away expectations and Shawn/Taker was nearly as great as their first all-time classic. Epic matches in the big stadium help this be a thumbs up.