Sooooo, Daniel Bryan is back. There’s that. In my continuing reviews of previous WrestleManias, here is WrestleMania 19 from Safeco Field in Seattle, Washington (which, coincidentally, happens to be near the birthplace of Daniel Bryan).
Matt Hardy (C) def. Rey Mysterio – Cruiserweight Championship
I’m sure both of these men were told that they were working with a time constraint, because this match had a very quick pace from start to finish, and I actually dug it. The Cruiserweights have greatly improved since the start of the tournament, but beforehand, they were basically smaller versions of the main roster. This is what I envision a cruiserweight match to be like, except Matt really isn’t much of a cruiserweight. Point remains. I don’t know what the actual time length of this was, but it sure felt like 6 minutes. However, I felt as though they occupied that 6 minutes very well. Mysterio dictated the pace of the match with his high-flying moves while Hardy tried to keep him grounded, especially with interference from Shannon Moore from the outside. With the loaded card, I can understand why this wasn’t given much time, but this was a perfect warm-up match for the crowd to get ready for the rest of the night. Solid start. I also dug the fact that Rey looked like a Power Ranger here. But I think the two probably should have gotten more than 5 minutes since this was a four-hour show, as they pretty much had the equivalent of a present-day RAW match before commercial. **
The Undertaker def. The Big Show and A-Train – 2 on 1 Handicap Match
When you look back, you’ll see that Undertaker had some underwhelming performances at WrestleMania from the early to mid-2000’s. That said, I was actually surprised that the pace of this match wasn’t nearly as slow and plodding as one would expect in a match featuring 1,100 lbs of weight between the three. And seeing the Undertaker now, it’s so unbelievable to see him running and jumping in the air, running across the place. Seems like a century ago. I know WWE doesn’t typically pay attention to rules, and all that, or maybe it’s me, but shouldn’t The Undertaker have been disqualified after Nathan Jones came running down and going RVD on Big Show? Nathan was originally supposed to be Undertaker’s tag team partner, but since he was out it was a set handicap match. So doesn’t somebody else attacking the two people justify a disqualification. Technicalities aside, I thought these three did about as well as they could do given the conditions. Undertaker dictated the pace of the match, The Big Show and A-Train got their power moves in, and the young Nathan Jones got his moment, I guess, to the end the match. Guess that’s about as good as this could have gotten. But ultimately, it was uneventful, kind of dull and one of Undertaker’s forgettable WrestleMania matches. *3/4
Trish Stratus def. Victoria (C) and Jazz – Women’s Championship
Jeez, the bar for women’s matches must have been close to the ground back in the Ruthless Aggression era. This year, they repeated the triple threat formula featuring two of the same three competitors from the year before. While they still followed the same sloppy format of just hitting moves without telling any sort of story to transition between them, I thought the pace of this match was far better than the women’s match of the year before, and that’s actually not saying much, because it was still kind of sloppy. The two on one dynamic that Victoria and Jazz were to have on Trish wasn’t played out well at all, Trish was doing a lot of the work, and the crowd really didn’t seem interested in the match at all. I wasn’t either, but the match wasn’t as horrible as I was expecting. Trish pretty much did much of the work, Jazz had a couple of power moves and Victoria was solid, but it was pretty much a quick sprint that really didn’t amount to much. **
Charlie Haas (C) and Shelton Benjamin (C) def. Chris Benoit/Rhyno and The Guerreros – WWE Tag Team Championship
Ultimately, there was too much for me to follow here to take it seriously, but for what we got, it was pretty decent. I felt like I was watching a series of rushed singles matches, and the finish had so little build-up to it, it just came out of nowhere. Aesthetically speaking, the match was fine, and while I was disappointed that Eddie and Chris couldn’t elevate the match to something more intense like the Smackdown tag team battles of 2002 used to be, it was still a hard-worked effort from all involved. But yeah, the match had little heat and there really wasn’t enough of a reason to care here, unfortunately. **1/4
Shawn Michaels def. Chris Jericho
RAW’s first contribution to WrestleMania 19 came in the form of what many believed to be the match of the night. What I can certainly say is I dug the old school vs. new school dynamic that they were playing here. Chris Jericho basically believed that Shawn’s time was over and that he was better than him, and I liked what Jericho was able to do here, which was trying to do Shawn Michaels better than HBK himself. Meanwhile, Shawn was relying on old-school tricks and ingenuity in order to stave off Jericho here. There’s always something about WrestleMania that raises Shawn’s game and he was certainly up to the task in putting Jericho over as a big deal and did so in a much better fashion than Triple H did the year before, when it was all about him and Stephanie.
There are a couple of things I didn’t like, however. For one, HBK’s selling of his back was widely inconsistent here. There would be some moments where he would hold is back when Jericho hit his submission, and there were other moments where he seemed to be doing just fine. I also didn’t like the fact that Jericho went away from working HBK’s back even though that’s what gave him the advantage in the match. Overall, however, the match was very well done, and while I didn’t think this was the vintage, instant classic people made it out to be, it was certainly a quality match and one of Jericho’s better performances. ****
Triple H (C) def. Booker T – World Heavyweight Championship
I was never Booker T’s biggest fan, but his feud with Triple H in 2003 made you want to have sympathy for him and give Triple H his comeuppance. While I didn’t think their feud was necessarily racist in its intent, it certainly had some undertones that were completely unnecessary and would lead people to believe otherwise. One would think after Triple H emasculating Booker T and unconsciously taking a shot at his ethnicity, one would think that Booker T would come away as the conquering hero and he would ride off into the sunset as World Champion, taking down the prick, Triple H. Nope. This is the time where Triple H ruled RAW with an iron fist and the World Heavyweight Championship in tow. I’m not saying Booker T winning here would make him like an instant legend or something, but this was one of the worst feuds ever and how WWE went about it, especially after that whole Katie Vick debacle with HHH fall prior with Kane was embarrassing.