As we continue down the road to the biggest show of the year, I’ve been going through each event to prepare for the big day.
Instead of doing recaps for every WrestleMania (other people here do that much better), I’ve been putting together a Top Ten list of WrestleMania matches and have been updating it after each show.
WrestleMania 21 – April 3, 2005
WWE made sure that WrestleMania XX was a true transition year. The two world champions who celebrated together in the middle of the ring that year were relegated to opening up the show this year. And WrestleMania 21 gave rise to the new top dogs of sports entertainment.
This year’s show has to have the best promotional materials in the history of the event, as the WWE recorded a series of movie trailer spoofs for the “Goes Hollywood” tagline. I’ll have more on that in the Bonus Lists! section.
Overall, WrestleMania 21 continues the trend from the last few years of bringing the goods with the big matches. The two main events here may not have been as good as the last few years, but big time performances from the guys underneath really help to elevate this show and give it a clear thumbs up.
Best Match: Edge vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money In The Bank Ladder Match. Perhaps the most important thing to debut at WrestleMania 21 was a new concept: the Money in the Bank ladder match, which guaranteed the winner a World Title shot for up to one year. Featuring only Raw superstars, this first iteration of the match featured 6 men – four Canadians, a Libertarian and a human highlight reel. Yes, it was a spotfest, but it also had great psychology that controlled the flow of the match. Edge was the perfect choice to win this match, and it gave him the last piece of the puzzle to finally get him to the main event level that he had been hovering under for a while.
Worst Match: Big Show vs. Akebono – Sumo Match. AHHHHHH! MY EYES! What a terrible thing to do to your fans. In all honesty, I’m sure it was a perfectly acceptable Sumo squash match for Saturday Morning Sumo Superstars, but it sucked to watch on a WrestleMania. If you want to be stricter with your “worst match” settings, it goes to Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme for the women’s title. Hemme was not ready for a WrestleMania match and was only there to promote a Playboy appearance.
Defining a Generation: The Ruthless Aggression era begins here, as John Cena and Batista took their places at the top of their respective mountains here. While Batista was the one in the main event, the reported pet project for Triple H, it would be Cena that ended up being the indispensable one out of the pair. After beating JBL for the WWE Title, Cena was later traded to Raw from SmackDown! and would spend the next 10 years as the company’s standard bearer, while Batista fought more with injuries than he did other superstars.
Legend In The Making: Evolution exploded in the main event, but the fourth member of the group made a name for himself in his match against the Undertaker. Randy Orton may already be a former World Heavyweight Champion by this time, but he needed to completely rebuild his character after a terrible face turn. Orton gave Undertaker his best WrestleMania match ever, and when he hit Taker with the RKO, a lot of people thought the match was over. There was clearly a lot of promise with Orton and he cemented his spot as part of the future of the company with this match.
Leave The Mask Alone: The opening match between Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio – who at the time were co-holders of the tag team titles – could have been and maybe should have been a WrestleMania classic. But Rey’s constant adjusting of his mask was a distraction to everyone involved, even the fans. Sadly, this would be Guerrero’s last WrestleMania match.
Hogan’s Hall: The 2005 WWE Hall of Fame class was a who’s who of the Hulkamania era. Other than headliner Hulk Hogan, the class included “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, “Cowboy” Bob Orton, Iron Shiek, Nikolai Volkoff, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff and Jimmy Hart. Obviously, this class seems more deserving than the 2004 class, but Hogan was persona non grata for a little while, and it probably delayed his induction. Hogan, of course, would come out to defend Eugene from Muhammad Hassan earlier in the show to huge pop and Piper would host a Piper’s Pit with Steve Austin where after a half a sip of beer he started stumbling around like an idiot until Austin hit him with the Stunner.
Another Clinic: Coming so close to taking the Best Match spot this year was Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels. A great wrestling match that built to a crescendo on more than one occasion, it could have gone either way at various points. Some sweet chin music here, a super Olympic Slam there. Easily my second favorite match of the night, helping to cement Michaels’ status as Mr. WrestleMania, as he gains yet another match in the Top 20.
The Top 20!
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Submission Match (WrestleMania 13)
2 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
3 – The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – No DQ WWF Title Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
4 – Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit – World Heavyweight Title Triple Threat (WrestleMania XX)
5 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
6 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
7 – Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Title TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
8 – Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
9 – Edge vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 21)
10 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
11 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
12 – Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 21)
13 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
14 – Eddy Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XX)
15 – Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 21)
16 – Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XIX)
17 – “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock (WrestleMania X8)
18 – Triple H vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania X-Seven)
19 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
20 – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania VIII)
My Favorite WrestleMania 21 Movie Trailers
In 2005, WrestleMania Went Hollywood and they promoted the show with a series of movie trailer spoofs, putting WWE superstars in the role of famous movie characters. The movie spoofs were, for the most part, a lot of fun and I looked forward to new ones every week. How would I rank the trailers? I’m glad you asked:
Basic Instinct – starring Stacy Keibler, Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Christian, Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young. “How about sado-masochistic activity? Just asking.”
Pulp Fiction – Eddie Guerrero and Booker T.
A Few Good Men – JBL, John Cena and Coach.
Braveheart – Triple H and Ric Flair.
Forrest Gump – Eugene and William Regal.
When Harry Met Sally – Christy Hemme and Kurt Angle.
Taxi Driver – huge ensemble cast of characters I don’t feel like typing out.
Dirty Harry – The Undertaker.
Gladiator – Steve Austin.