Wrestlemania’s 21 and 22

 

 

 

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Wrestlemania 21 was a terrific show from start to finish. When a show begins with a match featuring Rey Mysterio vs. Eddie Guerrero (in what would be his last Wrestlemania before his untimely passing), which was simply amazing, you know it will be a good night for wrestling.

We also had the first Money in the Bank ladder match, which Edge won, which was an incredible match for something we were seeing for the first time. The other participants were Chris Jericho, Christian, Chris Benoit, Edge, Shelton Benjamin, and Kane who all did a great job with Shelton really standing out. He is an amazing athlete that I wish was still part of the WWE today.

Other notable matches were John Cena winning the WWE Title over JBL and Batista winning the World Heavyweight Championship from Triple H. A nice passing of the torch from these two legends to the young guys who would become legends in their own rights.

The best match of the night was Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels. Holy s@$t was this a great match! Two of the best performers in the history of professional wrestling who had an amazing chenistry in the ring and turned in a classic. If you are a wrestling fan or wonder how could someone be a wrestling fan, then watch this match and you will understand.

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Wrestlemania 22 the following year was another great show.

Edge beat Mick Foley in a hardcore match which ended with a spectacular finish of Edge spearing Foley through a burning table. This is a match that is not for the faint of heart with a lot of extreme violence and blood which is a stark contrast from the WWE today.

A surprisingly good match was Mickie James defeating Trish Stratus fro the Women’s Championship. Both women worked hard and put on a very solid match.

The second MITB ladder match was won by Rob Van Dam and was amazing just like the year before.

The highlight though was Vince McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels in a no-holds-barred match. There is a reason Michaels was known as ‘Mr. Wrestlemania’ since he had a tendency to steal the show with his incredible athleticism. McMahon always amazes me due to the fact that he will put his body on the line and make himself look as bad as needed to entertain the fans. The abuse he took during this match was crazy and the final spot with Michaels jumping down on McMahon, who was lying prone on a table with a garbage can over his head and upper body, from a large ladder was mind blowing.

Overall, another great show that makes me anticipate the 31st installment this Sunday even more!

Wrestlemania’s 19 and 20

I was a little off my schedule the past week so I have just 2 Wrestlemania’s to discuss, 19 and 20. As always, there will be some spoilers.

Rarely is there a ‘bad’ Wrestlemania. There are some that were definitely less memorable than others, but usually the WWE puts everything they have into making it the best show of the year.

Wrestlemania 19 was a solid show, but despite the fact I have watched it more than once I never seem to remember the card much before I start watching the 19th installment of the longest running PPV. Overall, it is a good show, but the only match that really stands out in my memory is Stone Cold vs. The Rock. This was a top notch match where The Rock finally got a Wrestlemania victory after losing to Stone Cold in Wrestlemania main events the past two times they met. This was Stone Cold’s last Wrestlemania main event since his injuries forced him to retire from full time wrestling. It was a great way to go out and if you watch this match you can see that The Rock is truly appreciative of Austin doing the job for him and subtly thanks him after the final pinfall.

Another match of note is Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon in a street fight. Way better than it had any right to be and both men busted their asses to put on the best show possible. Several high spots, a lot of blood shed by both men, and classic Hogan moments make this an entertaining match with Hogan winning.

Chris Jericho going against Shawn Michaels was another major highlight. Seeing these two legendary and very athletically gifted performers going head to head was a match made in heaven. They have similar styles yet are very unique in their move sets. Both guys were clearly trying to be the match of the night and they did a great job doing so.

The final match of the night was Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesner. An incredible match that had a ton of buildup with a nice payoff of Lesnar winning the WWE title. With both men having legendary amateur wrestling careers seeing them go to head to head in the WWE was a dream match and it did not disappoint.

Wrestlemania 20 was an okay show. Not bad, but not great. The low light of the night was Goldberg’s final match in the WWE against Brock Lesnar. The fans in attendance had no interest in the match and both wrestlers did not gel at all. It was awkward and unfortunate for both men.

Highlights were Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle (both all time great performers), the Cuiserweight Open for the WWE Cruiserweight Title (featuring Rey Misterio, Billy Kidman, Tajiri, and others), and the tag match between The Rock and Mick Foley vs. Ric Flair/Batista/Randy Orton in a 3 on 2 handicapped match.

Overall, a good show, but definitely flawed in the fact that there was just too much going on. At this time the WWE had an over abundance of talent and did not always seem to know what to do with them.

Still, this was a historic Wrestlemania being the 20th installment and still worth a few hours of your time.

10 more to go before this year’s Wrestlemania!

Wrestlemania’s 2000 – X8

Per last week’s post I am beginning my snap shot reviews of what I consider the modern Wrestlemania’s (from 2000 on) in preparation for this year’s Wrestlemania 31:

Wrestlemania 2000 – This was an overall solid show that kicked off the 2000’s quite well. One of the things I notice when watching shows from this period of time is how over every single wrestler was. From the lowest spot on the card to the main event, the crowds are in to everything and it seemed as though every match had a storyline of some sort which the WWE really needs to get back to.

One of the key matches was the first every triangle ladder match for the tag titles featuring Edge/Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz. Simply WOW. This was very early in the long running rivalry between these three teams and this match was simply amazing. High spot after high spot and not a move seemed wasted. Edge and Christian left with the titles and us fans saw the beginning of an industry changing rivalry.

The main event was a four way for the WWF title with a McMahon in every corner. Triple H with Stephanie, Mick Foley with Linda, Big Show with Shane, and The Rock with Vince. The McMahon gimmick was definitely a bit overboard and unnecessary and four way matches can be disasters, but with four good workers this match came off very well. Triple H retained the title and the match was well paced and the wrestlers themselves did a great job making this a worthwhile main event.

Wrestlemania X-Seven – Possibly the best, or at least close to the top, of all the Wrestlemania’s. Edge/Christian vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. The Hardy Boyz in a TLC match somehow managed to surpass their match from a year back and ended with Edge/Christian winning the tag titles again. With interference from Lita, Rhyno, and Spike Dudley this match never slowed down and was simply amazing.

The main event with Stone Cold Steve Austin beating The Rock for the WWF title was well worked even though most people did not like him turning heel at the end of the match and working with Vince McMahon. Even the Vince vs. Shane McMahon street fight was solid with a lot of great moments. Overall, an amazing show with the WWE being at a high point creatively and talent wise.

Wrestlemania X8 – Notable since this is the last ‘WWF’ labeled Wrestlemania and the first one after the WCW buyout by Vince McMahon the year prior. The Undertaker and Ric Flair had a brutal and bloody match that was a hell of a lot of fun to watch. Stone Cold and Scott Hall had a match that has been lambasted for many years but watching it again it was much more solid than people give it credit for. Triple H won the Undisputed Championship in the main event which was a very well worked match.

The highlight though is Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock. This match was well paced and worked to perfection. Clearly, this match was heavily planned out beforehand since Hogan was past his prime, but still came off as a viable threat to The Rock with both men having an incredibly historic match. This match alone makes this one of the most memorable Wrestlemania’s of all time.

So far a nice start to the modern Wrestlemania’s. Since this is the WWE’s biggest event every year it is usually a good, solid show with not too many disappointments.

I’ll be back next Wednesday with the next batch of Wrestlemania’s which will lead to what could be one of the best Wrestlemania’s yet in this year’s 31st edition.

The Montreal Screw Job

MontrealScrewJob

The Montreal Screw Job is one of the most infamous moments in pro-wrestling history. For that rare wrestling fan who is not familiar with the story (or too young) the basic premise is Bret ‘The Hitman” Hart was getting ready to leave the then-WWF for WCW in November of 1997 and was ‘screwed’ out of his WWE Title and did not know how the match would end.

Hart was the WWF champion at the time and the original plan was for him to lose the title at Survivor Series on November 9th in his home country of Canada. Bret had a certain degree of creative control and felt it did not make sense for him to lose in Canada so he would simply vacate the title the following night on the WWF’s flagship show Monday Night Raw. The owner of the WWF, Vince McMahon, did not like that idea and was concerned he would show up on WCW’s show Monday Nitro with the WWF title.

Long story short, at the Survivor Series they had Shawn Michaels win the title with what was supposedly a surprise to Bret hence the “screw job” moniker. For greater detail please visit this site, Pro Wrestling Wiki.

My main goal in this blog post is to give my opinion on this well known event in professional wrestling, which is…this is the greatest and longest running work/storyline in the history of pro-wrestling. What has captured people’s attention over the years is the fact that this finish was decided at the last moment without Hart’s knowledge therefore, ‘screwing’ him over and causing a huge and supposedly very real reaction from Bret. He was angry, spit on McMahon, punched Vince backstage, and then went to WCW for an unfortunately uneventful run, therefore this was supposed to be a very real moment in wrestling where one of its icons got screwed over and did not know the ending of the match ahead of time.

I have one big reason for why this entire match was pre-planned and Bret Hart was fully aware of the ending before hand:

To this day we hear from Bret how Vince McMahon was a father figure to him, how Vince realized he could not afford to pay Bret any longer, and how he told Bret to go make your money in WCW and come back. Bret had creative control and a great relationship with his boss. Getting ‘screwed’ over did two things for both men. In regards to Bret it allowed him to leave for the rival promotion without looking like a turncoat to the fans. Second, it launched the evil Mr. McMahon character which helped to draw an incredible amount of money for the WWE during the Attitude Era. Sometimes things just happen organically in wrestling, like The Rock coming in as a blue-chip baby face with the fans hating him instantly and him using that to become the most successful wrestler in history. Most of the time in pro-wrestling things are well scripted out in advance and the way this incident worked out could not have been better for the WWE and Bret has always seemed like a class act to me and I feel would be the type to do whatever needed to be done to help his soon to be former employer be successful.

The other thing is the fact that at the time it was figured Bret would return to the WWE at some point and they had a built in storyline which could have been the biggest draw in the history of professional wrestling. It did not happen due to injuries, the unfortunate death of Bret’s brother Owen, and The Hitman’s stroke/bike accident. It would have been amazing to have that kind of built in heat if he returned to the WWE and started immediately in a feud with his boss. It would have been reminiscent of the Stone Cold/McMahon feud, but could have went in a lot of different directions that would have made the rivalry stand out and make a ton of money for all parties involved.

Everyone involved in The Montreal Screw Job treats it as a real and unscripted incident, but I have a feeling that at some point one of the parties involved will finally admit it was all a work. A great one, but a work none-the-less.