Hey guys! So, we are about a little under four weeks away from the biggest show of the year, and if there is any show that always gets the nostalgia flowing, it is WrestleMania. So, I figured I started doing some retro WrestleMania reviews.
I completely do these at random, and there are no orders, and up first is WrestleMania 21 in 2005 from Hollywood, California. If you guys want a specific WrestleMaina reviewed, let me know and I’d be glad to share my thoughts! Let’s get it started!
Rey Mysterio def. Eddie Guererro
Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guererro were two stalwarts of Smackdown’s heyday back in the early to mid-2000s. It’s kind of fitting that Eddie’s last WrestleMania match came against one of his closest friends. This was an uber-solid opener, as this was the correct match to get the crowd pumped up for the rest of the night.
The dynamic here was also interesting because they were both the WWE Tag Team Champions, and I only remember John Cena and Shawn Michaels being the only other active tag team champions to face each other in singles competition at WrestleMania.
We had all of the typical lucha-style spots here, and they took some of their playbooks right from their days working in WCW. It’s also kind of amazing how Rey hasn’t really lost a step from nearly 14 years ago. Looking at him last night and at WrestleMania, I could hardly tell the difference.
I also loved Eddie Guererro’s 2005 character, because he was always having an internal conflict as to whether or not he should cheat to win or play fairly. The finish was also clever, as they did a call-back to a previous spot in the match where Rey reversed a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker into a pinfall for the victory.
While they had some better performances, this was extremely solid to begin the night’s festivities. ***1/2
This will remain one of my favorite WrestleMania matches ever, primarily because this was the perfect match to introduce a core concept in today’s modern WWE. But anyone who remembers this match knows that Shelton Benjamin was this match’s MVP.
This match was able to take advantage of his incredible athleticism. Some of the spots in this match were absolutely insane, thus proving that these kinds of matches are built for athletic types like him. This match also did a good job of highlighting each person’s strengths.
Benoit and Jericho utilized the ladders to their advantage and utilized their signature submissions to decapacitate the competition. Christian utilized the fact that he was paired with Tyson Tomko to let him do the heavy lifting so that Christian could reap the rewards.
Kane was dominant and often required combined attacks from others to take him out and Edge, ever the opportunist, took advantage of situations where the competitors were weakened. This was the case when Benoit just went through a grueling battle with Kane and Edge finished him off.
This win by Edge would, of course, go on to start a legendary career and set the standard for Money In The Bank cash-ins. This was balls-to-the-wall tremendous action from the get-go and kept the crowd entertained from start to finish.
This was an ingenious match and is something that I can watch over and over again without ever getting bored. ****3/4
The Undertaker def. Randy Orton
It was highly rumored that Randy Orton was actually going to be the first one to end The Undertaker’s undefeated streak. And boy, with that chokeslam to RKO reversal, you would have me believing just that. I truly believe this was a star-making performance from Randy Orton.
The match started out brilliantly, as Orton got Undertaker frustrated and seemed to be getting inside Undertaker’s head before Taker just decided to start beating his ass. The pace was solid throughout and worked to both men’s strengths.
Some might say that the spots were a little too telegraphed, but I thought they found just the right balance. The involvement of Bob Orton also made sense as he was a central part of their feud. The near-falls towards the end were fantastic, and the finishing reversal was great.
Obviously, this wasn’t nearly one of Undertaker’s greatest WrestleMania performances, but he did an excellent job of making Orton look legit here, and this was the kind of match Randy needed to solidify himself as a future main eventer. Save for some rest holds and dead spots in the middle, a solid outing here. ***1/4
Trish Stratus (C) def. Christy Hemme – Women’s Championship
I loved Trish as a heel, but boy were some of these matches back in the day all kinds of bad. The concept of Christy as Lita’s protege here is something that only worked for me in theory.
The execution just did not work for me, and it’s unfortunate that Lita’s knee happened to be injured here. This match had little to no structure and was kind of cringe-worthy to watch actually.
I’m not going to totally harp on Christy here, because placing WrestleMania-caliber expectations on her in her very first match ever against an established legend is kind of unfair.
At the end of the day, however, I can only grade what I see, and the match stank. It just did not come anywhere near the level of intensity of the matches that came before them. I’d give it a DUD, but again, unfair expectations were placed upon Christy here. So I won’t go all the way down here. But yeah, this was pretty bad. 1/4*
Kurt Angle def. Shawn Michaels
Presenting what I consider to be the greatest WrestleMania match of all time, this was pretty much perfect in every single facet. Everything from the nearfalls to the story of Shawn not wanting to tap out at WrestleMania was absolutely perfect here.
You’ll be hard-pressed to find two guys that developed more chemistry on a WrestleMania platform. Then again, you could argue that Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker were better. Whatever your decision, you really cannot go wrong. This was just freaking outstanding.
It’s sad to see where Angle is at now in his career as his retirement is reportedly imminent. In his prime, I don’t think there was a better pure wrestler on the entire roster.
An underrated portion of this match was the spot where Angle as about to German Suplex Michaels to the floor, but out of sheer desperation, Michaels, the face, had to resort to a low-blow just to escape. It was at that point where he realized that he was going to be in for the fight of his life and had to resort to desperate measures just to escape.