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WRESTLING COLUMNS

Dave Goes Wrestlemania Goes Hollywood
April 4, 2005 by Dave Hanson


Disclaimer: Before any of you start complaining that Dave Hanson broke the "No PPV Recaps" and "Three Week Rule" Commandments, I'd just like to point out that Brad and I ASKED him to write this for us; he graciously agreed. When we discovered that Dave would actually BE at WrestleMania 21 (lucky b*stard), and knowing how talented a writer he is, we thought we'd break our own rule to bring you all this exclusive review. Dave, thank you so much, I know you wrote this late at night while still coming down from the WrestleMania high, and Brad and I are extremely appreciative of your effort. I hope the rest of you enjoy Dave's colourful commentary as much as I did. - Kirsty Quested

It's 2:35 am, the start of April 4th, 2005. The big event has come and gone. Shawn Michaels' boyhood dream came true nine years ago at WrestleMania 12-but the boyhood dream of me and my friend Alex came true last night at the Staples Center as we, for the first time in our lives, were in attendance at a WrestleMania. WrestleMania 21, to be exact. So, now that it's all said and done, how was the big night" Well, let me put it this way-if you're an anti-WWE mark who can never pass up the opportunity to criticize everything about the WWE every chance you get, you probably shouldn't read any further, because I had an amazing time last night, one I will remember forever. I missed the chance to attend WrestleMania 7 at the Sports Center, along with 12 and 16 at the Pond, but I wasn't going to let anything stand in the way of me going to WrestleMania 21 at the Staples Center-and the eight-year-old kid inside me who has seen WrestleMania 4 at least ten times, had the time of his life.

DARK MATCH: 20-MAN SMACKDOWN VS. RAW BATTLE ROYAL
DAVE'S ORIGINAL PREDICTION: Chris Masters
THE ACTUAL WINNER: Booker T

Every WWE Superstar that they couldn't find a place for on the WrestleMania 21 card got put into this match. They all wore colored t-shirts-red for Raw and blue for SmackDown!-so that you could see who belonged to what show, and follow what show had the most guys in the ring at any given time, but all it did was make it difficult to tell a lot of the wrestlers apart, from where we sat in the nosebleed section. The EXTREME low-light of this match was, hands down, the WORST EXCECUTED slingshot ever. Unfortunately I couldn't make out who was doing it, only that it was done to Charlie Haas. It was slowly done and painfully obvious that Charlie Haas was basically just leaning forward and jumping over the top rope. "Oh no, I can't control my momentum. I'm going so fast. I'm going to fly over the top. Oh no. Here I go. Aaaaah." The highlight of this match was the fact that Booker T won. I'm a big Booker fan, so any time he wins anything, I'm happy.

The crowd goes nuts as WrestleMania goes on the air with a brand new movie trailer, this one a parody of a scene from Gladiator, with Stone Cold Steve Austin in the Russell Crowe part. I probably would have enjoyed this more if I didn't hate the movie Gladiator so much. When OWW starts publishing movie reviews, everyone will hear my rant on that one. Anyway, on with the show:

THE OPENING MATCH: EDDIE GUERRERO VS. REY MYSTERIO
DAVE'S ORIGINAL PREDICTION: Eddie Guerrero wins by lying, cheating, and/or stealing
THE ACTUAL WINNER: Rey Mysterio, who neither lied, nor stole, nor cheated

Wow, I'm 0-2 so far in my picks. This was all around a great match, lots of high flying maneuvers, great athleticism...pretty much what you would expect from these two; and I mean that as a compliment. It was a great way to start off 'Mania, as Eddie and Rey are always good for a big pop from the crowd. I couldn't help but notice that during the match, Rey kept adjusting his mask every single time he had a free second. It was a different mask than he usually wears; this one only covered up the front half of his face. Anyway, a very solid match, no double-crossing by either man, and Rey picks up the win. And WrestleMania is rolling.

Now, you'll excuse me if I can't remember the EXACT order that all the matches/segments happened in, but I'm pretty sure that next up was the..

6-MAN MONEY IN THE BANK LADDER MATCH:
EDGE VS. CHRISTIAN VS. SHELTON BENJAMIN VS. CHRIS BENOIT VS. CHRIS JERICHO VS. KANE
DAVE'S ORIGINAL PREDICTION: Edge
THE ACTUAL WINNER: Edge

My pick for the match of the evening was a tie between this match, and one that I will get to a bit later. Maybe I'm biased because I was in attendance for this one, but this may be the greatest ladder match of all time. And who do I think really stole the show in this match" Shelton Benjamin, baby! This is a guy with MAJOR untapped potential. My friend Alex, who was sitting right next to me, is a devoted Rob Van Dam fan who doesn't have cable and therefore can't watch RAW all the time, turned to me halfway through the match and said, "Shelton Benjamin is the best athlete in the WWE." I agree. This is a guy who, although he is the Intercontinental Champion, doesn't get a lot of TV time on RAW, and doesn't get much in the way of feuds.

But whatever they give this guy, however big or small, he runs with it. There were so many highlights in this match, I can't go into them all-but I will mention two of them: 1. You remember the "Conchairto" made famous by Edge and Christian" In this match, we were treated to the first ever Con-LADDER-to!!! And Kane was the victim! 2. Four ladders in the center of the ring, four guys at the top of them, fighting it out for the Briefcase! I only hope Shelton and Benoit are OK, they both seemed to have legitimate injuries after the match was over; Benoit didn't seem to be able to move his right arm, and Shelton couldn't walk on one leg and had to have some refs help him out. Benoit, as always, gets major props for fighting through injury to put on a great match. It's injuries like this which are why we will never see my ultimate fantasy match: a Steel Cage Ladder Match. Certain death, certainly.

Out comes Eugene, who hasn't been seen on WWE TV in forever. He mentions how his all-time favorite WrestleMania moment was at WrestleMania 3. Hogan slamming Andre" Nope. Savage vs. Steamboat" Nope. King Kong Bundy versus the army of midgets" Bingo!! Eugene's merriment is interrupted by Mohammad Hassan's music. He comes to the ring to a shower of boos. Alex leaned over to me at this point and said, "I'm secretly rooting for Hassan." Hassan came out and did his usual routine, talking about how the WWE is prejudiced, how he was excluded from WrestleMania...I hope Hassan takes it as an enormous compliment that he gets the "WHAT"!" chants after everything he says. Considering that the only other guys who still get them without Stone Cold being nearby are Kurt Angle and Eric Bischoff, he's generated some good heat for a rookie heel. Hassan and Daviari proceed to beat Eugene into the ground, when, suddenly, "DUN DUN DUN DUN DADADADAAAA!! WHEN IT COMES CRASHING DOWN AND IT HURTS INSIIIIIDE!!!" Hulk Hogan comes out and the Staples Center explodes! By far the biggest pop of the night. Hogan doesn't take long to beat Hassan and Daviari into paste, and then he spends the next few minutes posing, old school. Call me a mark, but I never get tired of this. And it was twenty times more awesome since it was the first time I had seen him do it live. Hogan did his thing in the ring, to nonstop "HOGAN!" chants and deafening cheers, as he walked back up the ramp. I remember when almost every WWF/E pay-per-view used to close with this. Now here's Hogan doing his thing and the event isn't even halfway over.

RANDY ORTON VS. THE UNDERTAKER
DAVE'S ORIGINAL PICK: Randy Orton
THE ACTUAL WINNER: The Undertaker

Yes, yes, let's hear it. Most everybody who read my "Undertaker Should Lose at WrestleMania" article is probably falling all over themselves to rub it in my face. Well, you know what" I don't take back anything I said. I wouldn't change a thing in the article. I still think Orton should have won! Screw all of you! I'm giving you all the Stone Cold double-middle finger and chugging Steveweisers! Ahem, sorry, that comes later. OK, now that I've gotten that out of my system, I thought it was a really good match. Orton and Undertaker both performed up to their abilities, and one of my favorite moments in the match came after the ref bump: Cowboy Bob Orton ran down to the ring wearing a cast on his arm, just like he did in the main event at the very first WrestleMania! And, just like the very first WrestleMania, his attempt to use the cast as a weapon failed to secure the victory. Emails flaming me about Randy Orton losing can be sent to screwyouallrandyortonstillrules@idontcarewhatanyonethinks.com.

PIPER'S PIT WITH STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN
DAVE'S ORIGINAL PICK: Austin and Piper beat the hell out of each other, and end up chugging beers
THE ACTUAL OUTCOME: Piper says a naughty word, Austin and Piper beat the hell out of Carlito, end up chugging beers, Austin gives Piper a stunner, chugs more beers, Piper wakes up from the stunner and chugs the beer that was lying on the mat closest to his unconscious body

I think we've said all that needs to be said here.

WOMEN'S CHAMPIONSHIP: TRISH STRATUS VS CHRISTY HEMME
DAVE'S ORIGINAL PICK: Trish
THE ACTUAL WINNER: Trish (thank god)

Half of the Staples Center seemed to see this match as the official "time for a bathroom break" match, because people were getting out of their seats and heading through the tunnels in droves. I am a big supporter of the women's division however, and as pissed as I was to see Trish fighting Christy at WrestleMania instead of somebody more capable and deserving like Molly Holly or Victoria (or, God forbid, any of the perfectly good female wrestlers fired by WWE in favor of the diva search contest), I was willing to give Christy a chance and was curious to see how she would fare. Of course, that being said, there was still no way in hell that I would have wanted Christy to win the title. My review of Christy in the ring was that she did seem like she had worked hard to do well, and she showed a lot of greenness and rough spots, but I think that if she keeps at it, she has the potential to rise above the "eye candy" label in the same way that Trish did. Of course Trish, on the other hand, has turned down Playboy many times in favor of her stated desire to be remembered as a wrestler and not "that girl who did Playboy," so maybe becoming a great wrestler isn't high on Christy's list of priorities. Alas, only time will tell. I know you're all probably thinking it, but no, this was NOT the weakest match of the night. And I'll explain why later on.

KURT ANGLE VS. SHAWN MICHAELS
DAVE'S ORIGINAL PICK: Angle
THE ACTUAL WINNER: Angle

Shawn tapped out baby!! I never get tired of watching Angle wrestle. It's a shame we never got to see the Bret Hart vs. Kurt Angle WrestleMania match that Angle pushed for, because that probably would have been the greatest match of all time. I'm a real fan of the mat wrestlers-any guy who has an amateur wrestling background, or at least incorporates amateur wrestling-style moves into his repertoire, so this match was amazing for me to watch, especially the first few minutes: the chain wrestling down on the mat, the holds and reversals-nothing flashy, no hardcore weapons, no cheating, no martial arts, just two guys on the mat fighting for leverage. This is what pro-wrestling came from in the very beginning, and this is when it's at its best, in my opinion. A guy came back from getting food a couple minutes into the match, and turned around and asked me, "has it been slow like this since the match started"" Screw that guy. I love matches like this.

I thought the match was perfectly paced, building in intensity, with more and more brutal spots as the match went on. HBK kicked out of the Angle Slam off the top rope, Angle kicked out of the superkick...Alex and I were on the edge of our seats rooting for Angle, and when he had HBK in the ankle lock for what seemed like forever, we were pulling our hair out. We went berzerk when Shawn finally tapped. This was the best moment of the night for us, except maybe for when Hogan came out. This is the tie for the match of the night with the 6-man ladder match.

SUMO MATCH: AKEBONO VS. BIG SHOW
DAVE'S ORIGINAL PICK: Akebono
THE ACTUAL WINNER: Akebono

Short and sweet, they tried to stretch it out as long as they could, but sumo matches just aren't traditionally supposed to last that long anyway. It was probably not even worth the time and effort it took to take down the ring ropes and everything and then put the ring back together again afterwards, but it was still pretty entertaining for what it was: a nice, unique little WrestleMania moment. I was actually expecting the crowd to be a lot harder on this match, maybe booing or giving the "BORING!" chant, but actually this match got a lot of respectful applause. Yes, I can deal with the fact that I saw Big Show's ass in that Sumo G-string thing. I am a mature adult, Sumo is a time-honored sport with years of-OH WHO AM I KIDDING! YUCK!! I FREAKING SAW BIG SHOW'S ASS!!! EEEEW EEEW EEEW!!!

WWE CHAMPIONSHIP: JOHN CENA VS. JBL
DAVE'S ORIGINAL PICK: Cena
THE ACTUAL WINNER: Cena

Remember when I said the Women's Championship was NOT the weakest match of the night" This is the match I was thinking of when I wrote that. In a WrestleMania where every single other match was at the very least solid and entertaining, this one was the weak link. And I give this the "weak link" nod because I expected better from both these guys. Way better. I mean, I never thought this would be the match of the night, but on the other hand, I didn't expect it to be the worst match of the night, either. It was so slow, unimaginative, and boring. Not well-paced at all. Trish Stratus showed more wrestling skill in the last month than either of these guys-and I mean that as both a compliment to Trish and a criticism of Cena and JBL, if that's possible. Also, she was going up against a woman who was wrestling in only her second fight. Trish did the best she could with what she was given, as she always does, and made the match quick and entertaining. This match, on the other hand, was boring, tired, going-through-the-motions wrestling, and it ended a lot sooner than I expected (yes, it was a slow match but it was also a short one, if you can dig that), without any pomp or circumstance, no cheating by JBL, no appearances by JBL's Cabinet. Even when Cena did the FU on JBL, Alex and I fully expected JBL to kick out somehow. "No way, it's too soon," we said. But, to our surprise, Cena got the 3-count. I think the entire audience was shocked at how short and uneventful the match was as well, especially considering the fact that it was a WWE Championship match, and it had been built up for about a month. This might be the worst WWE Championship match I have ever seen-and that's counting the one where Diesel beat Bob Backlund in seven seconds to win the title at Madison Square Garden back in 1994. Cena wins the title, celebrates with the fans, etc. We were stunned by the match's crappyness.

Then there was a quick segment where the Hall-Of-Famers came out to take one final bow. Did I mention that right in front of where we were sitting was a giant WRESTLEMANIA 21 banner that blocked our view of the top of the entrance ramp" I couldn't see anyone who was standing to Hogan's left while the Hall-Of-Famers were out there.

WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP: TRIPLE H VS. BATISTA
DAVE'S ORIGINAL PICK: couldn't decide
THE ACTUAL WINNER: Batista

Triple H gets to live out every kid's rock and roll fantasy. "Yeah, I think I'll just have my favorite rock band write my entrance music, and then I think I'll have them play live at Wrestlemania, and make my entrance by coming up onstage with them." Being that I'm a big headbanger, I love Motorhead and thought Triple H's entrance by coming up from under the stage while the band were playing his entrance music live was one of the best Mania entrances ever. Anyway, as for the match itself--this wasn't the best match of the night, it wasn't among the best WrestleMania main events ever, but you know what" It wasn't bad either. It started out a little slow, and I couldn't help but think that this match was going to be as God-awful as Cena vs. JBL, but to my pleasant surprise it actually picked up in the second half and ended up as a solid entertaining match. Triple H and Batista played to their strengths-power moves, roughhousing outside the ring, and (in Triple H's case) having Ric Flair interfering behind the ref's back. Triple H hits a high knee at one point that sends Batista flying out of the ring, and in my head I could hear Jim Ross saying, "Triple H showing shades of Harley Race with that high knee!"

I loved the spot where Batista sling-shotted Triple H face- first into the ring post from outside the ring; that was one I hadn't seen before. For me, the jury is still out on Batista; some nights I really like him, other nights I feel like he's just Goldberg with better mic skills. Or Kevin Nash with not-as- good mic skills. So that was the night! What a show. My final record for WrestleMania picks was 5-3-1. The "1" is because I had no idea who would win the Triple H/Batista match. They seemed to be hyping up Batista, but you never know if Triple H is going to put somebody over or not! Of course, at this point, he's probably thinking of trying to break Ric Flair's record of being champion 16 times, so he's probably a bit more open to losing the belt now if it means he can get it back later and add to his total. I'm still taking the whole event in as I write this. Most WrestleManias are just remembered for one or two matches that rose above the rest; a bunch of mediocre, filler, or otherwise forgettable matches padding the event around the one or two true gems of the evening. This one, however, was a solid entertaining event all the way through, save for only the JBL/Cena match. It's like choosing your favorite album; do you like the album that has your all-time favorite song and ten crappy ones" Or do you like the album that has 11 really entertaining songs that you could listen to straight through over and over without skipping any" This WrestleMania was like the latter. I'm not sure if a lot of these matches will be remembered as the "best ever" in years to come, but I'm certain that this WrestleMania will be one that you can grab off your DVD shelf and pop into the machine for a good, entertaining few hours all the way through. Plus, it makes Wrestlemania 20 look like a steaming dog turd. Good night all!!

by Dave Hanson ..


Brad Dykens wrote:
We won't be accepting feedback for this column, you can send personal comments to Dave via his email. You can view and send your Wrestlemania 21 feedback on the special WM21 Feedback Forum - remember folks, keep your comments brief, somewhere around 200 words. Long drawn out discriptions will be rejected.

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