It’s kind of strange that an event WWE hyped up to be the biggest thing they’d ever do is now an event they won’t even discuss completely. Yes, WrestleMania XX took place in the same venue as the first and tenth WrestleMania’s and was marketed with the tag line “Where It All Begins Again”. Because I guess after 20 years, a reset button is essential to survival. Technically, there was no reset, unless you want to count the fact that some new stars got to effectively breakout while some hard working talent was finally recognized. So yeah, it was kind of a time for change in the ‘E, and they would celebrate with a packed card of 14 matches in the World’s Most Famous Arena. I got a ton to cover, so let’s get on with the only WrestleMania that had no main event…..I’m probably not the first person to make that joke.
John Cena vs. The Big Show
The show kicks off with something WWE would NEVER consider doing nowadays; John Cena in the opening match. This was back in his rapper days, so before the match, he spat a few rhymes on his opponent, United States Champion the Big Show. As you can imagine, it was mostly fat jokes becaue of course they were. He could have ended better than “Big Show Sucks!”, but he came to WrestleMania to win a title, dammit, and that’s exactly what he did. It’s an alright opening contest and Cena had to resort to using a weapon to win, but all’ fair when trying to topple a 500-pound giant. Besides, he would go on to win future bigger championships in much more fair ways (in some cases) so this was still John Cena with his training wheels on basically.
Coach Seeks Undertaker, Part 1
Don’t worry, this is gonna be nothing like Hardcore Mayhem or the Adventure of the Miller Lite Catfight Girls. Those segments went on all night; this was only two segments long and immediately went nowhere. Eric Bischoff demands Coach find the Undertaker, likely to sign him away from Smackdown, that slimy rat.
Legend Killer Recap
Randy Orton (with Batista and Ric Flair in tow) cuts a promo backstage, recalling the history that unfolded between him and Mick Foley that past year. From Orton kicking the Hardcore Legend down a flight of stairs to him spitting in Foley’s face to the uncomfortable beatdown Evolution administered on him weeks prior to when The People’s Champion made a return to save his Rock N Sock partner. This was Randy Orton in the prime of his promo-cutting abilities. When it comes to cutting promos, I’ll take Legend Killer Orton over Viper Orton anyway.
World Tag Team Championship
So like WrestleMania two years prior, the Tag Team Titles (both sets of them) would be defended in Fatal 4-Way action. Unlike the X8 match, though, neither featured elimination rules; they were both one fall to a finish. These matches were so unimportant, they were left out of the recap video at the end of the night. They’re not even included in the WrestleMania XX gallery on WWE.com, so I don’t even have pictures to post for them (too lazy to screencap). But I’m gonna cover them anyway because that’s what I’m doing his for. I’m a huge fan of both Rob Van Dam and Booker T, but even I have to admit they were a makeshift tag team with a transitional reign. But back then, I didn’t care; I was hyped to see how they’d do as a tag team because their styles seemed perfect for a tag team. They defeat three actual teams in Jindrak & Cade, The Dudley Boyz, and La Resistance. I was lit for the victory, even if the match was mostly forgettable.
Coach Seeks Undertaker, Part 2
In his pursuit of the returning Deadman, Coach walks in on Mae Young and The Fabulous Moolah making out with Mean Gene Okerlund and Bobby Heenan. Old people making out is usually not that funny to me, but I can’t hate on comedy involving Mae & Moolah…..unless it involves the birth of a hand, and even that can be redeemed after some years have passed.
Chris Jericho vs. Christian
A feud that started on a misogynistic bet to see who could have sex with a desired Diva first soon turned into a love story right off of a Taylor Swift album. You ever heard her song “I Know Places”? You should, it’s one of my favorite songs on 1989. Anyway, that’s kind of what the story turned into here in that Jericho, after only using Trish Stratus for a bet, developed real feelings for the Canadian hottie while Christian was trying to tell him that he’s out of his mind. Jericho didn’t care; he’d run away with Trish to start life anew if he could, away from hunters like Christian. So Christian took matters into his own hands and administered what he calls “tough love” on Trish. Jericho wasn’t happy about it and we got this fine match out of it.
Yes, I just said it was a fine match and I mean it. Would you expect anything less from Christian and Chris Jericho, two guys who have delivered in the ring time and time again? The former tag team partners put on a rather underrated match where the ending totally stole the spotlight. Trish double crosses Chris Jericho and hooks up with both Christian and a heel turn. If you don’t think this is one of the all-time best heel turns in Divas history, then I don’t know what to say. And turns out based on evidence like this, this, this, and this, heel Trish (despite having to work with some slut-shaming material because WWE has always had major flaws writing for women) is just as entertaining as face Trish was based on her natural charisma alone; I didn’t see that coming. And the best part about it is that Alexa Bliss is basically becoming Heel Trish Jr. in NXT; as far as I’m concerned that’s a great thing.
Evolution vs. Rock N Sock
Before the match, Lilian Garcia interviews Mick Foley and The Rock, competing in his first match in almost a year, brings the electricity we always expect from him. You should totally watch it for Dwayne’s infectious energy. Following that is the 2-on-3 Handicap match. This is one of my personal favorite matches on the show; I used to watch it all the time. How could I not, when The Rock’s Ric Flair mocking was so amusing? And even though Foley felt kind of let down by it, I still enjoy this match. My one nitpick with it is that the Foley/Orton match from the following month at Backlash probably would have been a better fit. But they had to fit superstar-wrestler-turn-promising-movie-star Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson on this milestone show somehow, and I guess this was their best idea.
Hall of Fame Segment
This was the first time in years WWE even bothered with the Hall of Fame. They inducted a ton of people, from Harley Race to “Superstar” Billy Graham to Bobby Heenan to even Kane‘s good buddy Pete Rose in the celebrity wing. From then on, the Hall of Fame would become a yearly WrestleMania weekend tradition that has always been kind of polarizing. We’ve seen a ton of worthy people be inducted and some not-so-much, but we’ll cover then when we get there.
Torrie & Sable vs. Jackie & Stacy
Interpromotional Match #1 and the T&A match of the night. The Playboy covergirls of Smackdown, Torrie Wilson and Sable, took on two other gorgeous blondes from RAW, Stacy Keibler and Miss Jackie. The match was billed to be a Playboy Evening Gown match, but thank God the girls didn’t wrestle in their evening gowns after all. I never got the appeal of this kind of match; wouldn’t they trip over the tail of their dresses pretty easily? And how can they even move fluidly in them? I think this about every match where the Divas have to wrestle in dresses, something I remember WWE also doing in 2009 and 2010. It just doesn’t seem possible. Anyway, they strip down to their underwear, wrestle that way throughout, and Torrie and Sable win the match. The ladies looked lovely as always (especially Torrie) and it was at least more entertaining than the Miller Lite thing from the year prior, but you’re not missing anything if you don’t watch it. It’s not even the best or most by-comparison creative Divas T&A WrestleMania match in WrestleMania history. That would come at a later WrestleMania and I will get to it.
Benoit & Guerrero Backstage
Eddie Guerrero finds a wolverine backstage and tries to hype him up for his main event match. It does get him hyped, but we have to stay tuned to see if he wins his match.
OK, well this match certainly had its moments. Right off the bat, there was Ultimo Dragon tripping. And there was also…..Ultimo Dragon tripping. Oh, and did I mention Ultimo Dragon tripping?! I mean, I like the guy, but how could you not laugh at that? I like to pretend he accidentally placed a pox on Sin Cara just by doing that; cue the Sin Cara song! Anyway, as far as the match goes, we got some fine, mostly heatless, and at times funny (LOL at Nunzio’s elimination) Cruiserweight action that saw Chavo Guerrero cheat to defeat Rey Mysterio (dressed as The Flash). Chavo gave a hilarious post-match interview, which I sadly can’t find online but does appear on my DVD copy. Akio didn’t get into the match after Tajiri accidentally misted him, but I guess that’s what he gets for taking a spot that clearly belonged to Brian Kendrick. Really, how has Kendrick never had a WrestleMania match?
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
I usually try to watch my language and not use the strong profanities on the blog, but seriously, fuck this damn match. Goldberg and Lesnar was being hyped up like it was a Clash of the Titans; like King Kong vs. Godzilla, and you can bet I was actually hyped for it. And Steve Austin was the guest referee who both men crossed with a spear and vehicular theft leading into the bout; how could this not be the most exciting thing in the world?
Only it wasn’t. At all. This is probably the biggest anti-climax of my wrestling-watching lifetime. You know a match sucks when the best part about it was the referee. OK, so news broke that Goldberg and Lesnar were both leaving WWE after this match took place. Like when The Rock left for Hollywood, this didn’t sit well with the WWE Universe and they rained boos over the match from bell to bell. Personally, I wasn’t so much offended by the news of them leaving as much as I was by the fact that they DIDN’T EVEN TRY to go out on a good note! Do you see Roman Reigns giving half an effort just because the fans boo him out he building? No, he still actually tries. Even Eve Torres made sure her final match in WWE before leaving was one of the best she ever had; just look at the way she sold that damn spear from Kaitlyn. These two guys did NOT! They just stood around doing nothing for the longest, wasting the time of anyone watching this. Then when they collided, it was the opposite of intense. It was negative intensity. Eeyore moping about life was more exciting. It started with a whimper and just turned into less pleasant viewing than Best Friends Whenever. That’s right; I fucking. Went. There!
Luckily, Austin stunned both men after the match to a thunderous ovation, and while that was awesome to see, it doesn’t excuse the fact that this match is the first in a tri-force of post-2000 WrestleMania matches that legitimately piss me off! If anyone tells you they want you to watch this match, back away and save yourself the humiliation.
Vince Thanks Us
Not for actually sitting through that godawful Lesnar/Goldberg match, mind you. But for helping make WrestleMania such a success. Nice way to get the Chairman on the show.
Four Way Tag Team Championship Match
This is the World Tag Team Title match, but swapped with Smackdown teams: defending champions Rikishi & Scotty II Hotty, the APA, the Basham Brothers, and Benjamin & Haas. I actually like the action to this match more than the other one, particularly near the ending when Bradshaw just comes in like he’s on energizer batteries and starts murking fools. Rikishi & Scotty win, which I was happy about, and they proceeded to dance afterward.
Jesse Ventura Interviews The Donald
Newly inducted Hall of Famer Jesse “The Body” Ventura comes out and puts his announcers cap back on for an interview. Sadly, that interview turns out to be with possibly the biggest force of evil the United States is currently faced with, Donald Trump. The current Republican presidential candidate endorses Jesse Ventura running for president in the future, to which Ventura responds “I think we need a wrestler in the White House in 2008!” Well, we got Obama; probably a better choice no matter how you feel about him. Besides, could you ever imagine a wrestler in the White House? I mean, maybe The Rock cause he’s hard working and has great people skills. Or Mick Foley; sure, he doesn’t meet the dress code, but he has a big heart, has good people skills, and is highly charitable. Plus, Noelle would be easily the most lovable first daughter ever. Jesse Ventura, on the other hand, might end up hiring a conspiracy unit on day one.
Victoria vs. Molly Holly
Another match I’ve already talked in-depth about, but let me see what I can reiterate about it. Though the crowd was mostly dead until it was time to whip the clippers out, the action in the match was fine seeing as both Molly and Victoria are great and arguably underrated as far as skills go. I’d have loved to seen Lita in this match, but I won’t take away from either lady’s WrestleMania moment, especially given that Molly getting her head shaved is one of the all-time most memorable WrestleMania moments involving women. And it was a sacrifice Molly was willing to make just to give women’s wrestling it’s just due on the card. I admire that; I hope a Hall of Fame spot is reserved for Molly in the future. If someone like Sunny could make it in the Hall of Fame, Molly Holly sure as hell should be able to.
Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle
When Eddie Guerrero won the WWE Championship, it was one of the most genuine feel good moments in wrestling history as Eddie was able to get that moment in the sun, the redemption after his life went into a tailspin (as he explained in his autobiography). But with Brock Lesnar, the man he won the title from, preoccupied with his program with Goldberg, who would Guerrero defend the championship against on WrestleMania XX? How about an Olympic gold medalist who represents the fabric of Americana? And who is also a face, just like Eddie? Well, no problem. They just turn that Olympic gold medalist heel and address Eddie’s personal demons in front of the world. Yes, this was CM Punk vs. Jeff Hardy done a few years earlier. And if you ask me, the payoff was totally worth it because this was easily one of the best matches of the night. Kurt Angle was a technical master and Eddie was able to keep up without totally compromising his own style. He even got to cheat his way to victory using a loosened boot and the most sneaky ring-rope usage I’ve ever seen. This would thankfully not end their rivalry, but it was a great match to kick things off with.
Undertaker vs. Kane
During his Buried Alive Match with Vince McMahon at Survivor Series 2003, Michael Cole mentioned how Undertaker had been involved in every Buried Alive Match in WWE history. One thing WWE will probably never mention is the fact that he’s lost 3/5th of them. On that night, he lost to McMahon with the help of Kane, who went on to explain that he did it because he brother became a ‘fraud’ during his biker phase and was no longer a monster. Boy, would he go on to eat those words months later. Leading up to WrestleMania XX, Kane was being tormented by Undertaker presumably from beyond the grave. “The Dead Will Rise…Again” was the promise set for March 14th, and in the final match before the main event, Undertaker reemerged. He wasn’t riding a motorcycle, he wasn’t wearing a bandana, and he wasn’t coming down to “You’re Gonna Pay”, which in retrospect is an awesome song. No, he bought back Paul Bearer, the druids, the haunting graveyard music, the longer hair, and the slow deliberate walk for which he has essentially become a hilarious punchline. The original Deadman was back, and he’d make very quick work of Kane in his big comeback. The match was brief and not particularly good per see, but that was irrelevant because The O.G. Deadman was back and the legend of the Undertaker would continue to grow properly.
Well, what a show that was, huh? From top to bottom just a memora…..OK, I’m not affiliated with WWE, so I can talk about the main event. Let’s go!
Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels
You know, the Chris Benoit situation in 2007 never should have happened; it’s arguably wrestling’s all-time biggest controversy. As such, WWE never talks about the guy because glorifying the accomplishments of a murderer is not best for business. Sadly, this also means his matches and moments (and kick-ass theme song) have been scrubbed from history too…kinda. You can still watch them on the WWE Network as long as you don’t type his name in the search bar. One of those matches definitely worth a watch is this main event match. I’m gonna post a list of my favorite WrestleMania main events pretty soon and spoilers: this will be on it.
Benoit won the Royal Rumble, but Triple H‘s ultimate frenemie Shawn Michaels signed his name on the match contract so he could get one more crack at The Game after their Royal Rumble draw. So then GM Eric Bischoff decided that a Triple Threat match would take place to decide the World Heavyweight Champion, and because of that decision, we got a match that left two men a bloody mess, one announce table absolutely decimated, and one vicious wolverine walking away with the World Title. The post-match celebration with Eddie Guerrero is a moment that would still be played in Wrestlemania highlight reels had the tragedy never occurred. If you’re not able to sit through this match because of Benoit’s 2007 actions, I completely understand. But if you can watch the match for what it is, there’s no doubt this match is a beyond amazing way to close out a WrestleMania.
For Jim Ross’s money, this was the greatest WrestleMania of all time (actual quote from him at the end of the show). Only it wasn’t; according to most, X-Seven still reigns supreme. Now if you wanna call XX the most stacked WrestleMania of all-time, you’d probably be in the right ballpark. WrestleMania XX did not have a short card; I think they were literally trying to stuff as many people on the show as they could and the card kind of looked crowded. That said, with only a few exceptions (the insultingly terrible Lesnar/Goldberg encounter, for example), it was a mostly solid show that took place live from New York. But the next year, WrestleMania would touch down in another huge star-making city. And boy, did they make some stars. DO-DO-DO-DOOOOO!!!
Coming tomorrow: WrestleMania 21.
(All photos owned by WWE.)