What’s up, folks? This comes in response to more requests that I had gotten to do on this site, and I was asked to maybe do some retro reviews of old PPV’s in the past. Since it’s WrestleMania season and we are about 30 days from the event, I’d figure, why not just review WrestleManias? Because the Ruthless Aggression Era was the era of choice for me to review, I’d figure I would start with WrestleMania 18 and do all of the WrestleManias up until last year before WrestleMania 34. Of course, since I have the WWE Network, I can also review the earlier WrestleManias afterward. So, with that said, here is my review of WrestleMania 18.
Rob Van Dam def. William Regal (C) – Intercontinental Championship
You know, Rob Van Dam was one of my favorite guys that got me interested into WWE in the first place, but the more I’ve watched him, the more I’ve come to learn how formulaic he could be at times. Seriously, I think I could telegraph an entire RVD match if I wanted to. Honestly, considering the caliber of guys in this match, I thought this should have been way better than it turned out. You have RVD in his prime and William freaking Regal. I shouldn’t be left saying “It was a match.” However, that’s all this was. They went out there, they had a match, and it wasn’t terrible. However, it felt like a lazy and dull effort. The signature brass knuckles of William didn’t really even figure into the end. All RVD did was kick him out of nowhere and the match was basically over afterward.
I guess this was the appropriate match to begin the card, and they were fortunate to have been in front of an electric Toronto crowd that would have gotten into anything that night, because this, honestly, was a snoozefest. The best way I could describe it is how Regal dropped RVD on that nasty looking Half-Nelson Suplex. Flat. **1/4
Diamond Dallas Page (C) def. Christian – European Championship
For one, I liked the pace of this match much more than the previous one. While RVD and Regal seemed to be going at maybe half-speed at best, this match had a little sense of urgency, especially with DDP dictating the pace of the match. It’s a shame that Christian’s singles run after his split with Edge didn’t amount to anything. The match was sloppy at times and they disconnected on a few spots, but at the same time, I did like the pacing of this much better than the first one. Obviously, with this being for the European Championship, which didn’t amount to anything big in the grand scheme of things, there was little heat for this match, but I didn’t hate it. Passable, I suppose. **1/4
Goodness, I used to hate these with a red-hot passion. The old 24/7 Hardcore Championship rules just made these matches meaningless, sloppy and cartoonish. I think there were more of these on the card, and I’m not even going to bother reviewing them. This was 4 minutes of bland in-ring action with some meaningless backstage brawling. Thankfully, the Hardcore championship would die later this year. DUD
Kurt Angle def. Kane
Angle had a red-hot 2001 campaign, topped by his summer feud with Stone Cold and the major role he played in The Alliance storyline (even though that ended up being a colossal failure). Which is why it was befuddling to me how he ended up getting saddled with Kane on what was basically the 3rd match of the show. At his peak, he could carry anybody to a great match, but Kane’s style doesn’t really correspond with his well. Kane never really had any great singles matches, and Angle tends to work better with high-flyers and submission specialists. Both men did work hard here and the match did pick up once they started to get into the near-fall sequences. However, everything before that was Angle just constantly knocking Kane down without much resistance.
Angle did do a great job of trying to dictate the pace of the match and was able to push the envelope with a big man in Kane. One specific thing I hated was how Kane pinned Angle when he was literally underneath the ropes. No, I’m being serious. Angle’s head is literally right by the ropes, and Kane thinks to pin him as if he can’t force a rope break. The finish was also kind of sloppy, as they were trying to get Angle close to the ropes for the pinfall, but it looked very awkward. The match would probably be a passable RAW match, but at WrestleMania, especially considering the men involved, this didn’t hit the mark for me. **1/4
The Undertaker def. Ric Flair – No Disqualification
I mean, you might as well have made this a regular match. How are you going to call this a No DQ match when Flair and Taker spent 15 or so minutes just punching each other? No, that’s literally they did for the first part of the match. All they did was trade punches. Slow punch after slow punch after slow punch. If they wanted to get to the point, they should have just started from outside, have Ric automatically get the pipe from Undertaker’s vehicle and start from there, because they were doing some lazy brawling to start this off. If you ask me, Undertaker’s heel turn in late 2001 led to some uninspired efforts if you ask me. This match, I suppose from you would expect from two men with a combined age of around 90 around this time, wasn’t horrible, but there was a whole lotta nothing here.
The interference from Arn Anderson and the near fall was good at least, and I’d guess iI would rate Flair’s bladejob a 7 out of 10 here. But when you combine the 2002-2008 version of Ric Flair with an Undertaker who isn’t going to go out there and bust his ass, you’re going to get an uninspiring performance. Taker didn’t even bother putting his head in between Ric’s legs for the Tombstone. It would have honestly been a much better match had they cut the first 60 percent of it out. Some people enjoyed it more than others, but I wasn’t a fan of the plodding pace. If you want to see what it would be like if two senior citizens in a retirement home were fighting for the last bowl of creamed spinach, this is for you. **3/4
Edge def. Booker T
Ah, so this was the legendary battle over the shampoo commercial endorsements correct? There really wasn’t much to this match, as it was pretty much a 7-minute sprint. I appreciate them getting right to the chase and not wasting any time with filler or any needless activity that didn’t add to the match. Sometimes, less is better. That said, there wasn’t anything that you couldn’t catch on an episode of RAW back then. It wasn’t horrible, per say, and the little reversal sequence to end the match was neat, but this was just a cool-down match from the supposed semi-main event of Undertaker and Flair. There was also the botched top rope hurricanrana that nearly had Booker T land on his neck. It’s like they were envisioning how the spot was going to go down before they actually did it and botched it. This was about as good as a match over shampoo was going to get. **
Stone Cold Steve Austin def. Scott Hall
Some quick trivia before I get into this one. Apparently, the plan for this WrestleMania was to have the 3 members of the nWo (Nash, Hogan, and Hall) take on The Rock, Stone Cold and Undertaker in separate singles matches at WrestleMania, but apparently, unreliability with Hall and the, you guessed it, quad injury for Kevin Nash had WWE change plans and we got Taker/Flair instead. Hall ended up going through with this match even though there was a lot of doubt from WWE’s higher-ups that he could make it to the show. Glad to see he was able too.