Madison Square Garden – New York, NY – March 14, 2004
MATCH #1: United States Championship Match – Big Show vs. John Cena
Show has been the Champion since 10.19.03, and this is his third defense. This is Cena’s WrestleMania debut. Cena is fired up from the bell, but Show cuts him off and pitches him to the floor. Show tries to run Cena into the post but Cena snaps Show’s neck off the top rope. Cena goes for a cross body block off the top rope but Show catches him in a powerslam for two. Show dominates and keeps Cena on the mat. Every time Cena tries to fire up Show cuts him off with his superior size. Cena is able to get on Show’s back and try a sleeper hold but Show backs him into the turnbuckles to break it. Show puts on a Cobra Clutch to wear Cena down. Finally Cena is able to string together a series of offense and he hits the F-U! Show kicks out. Cena grabs his chain and the referee tries to talk him out of using it. The ref thinks he’s successful and he throws the chain out. Cena then hits Show with his custom knux and hits another F-U to get the pin and win his first title at 9:12. That was a good example of the right guy going over at the the right time. The match was fine, but the crowd reaction for Cena was great.
MATCH #2: World Tag Team Championship Match – Rob Van Dam & Booker T vs. Mark Jindrak & Garrison Cade vs. La Resistance vs. The Dudley Boyz
RVD and Booker T have been the Champions since 2.16.04, and this is their third defense. This is the Rob Conway and Rene Dupree version of La Resistance, which is the best version. Dupree and RVD start the match. RVD hits an early monkey flip and makes the tag to his partner. Booker handles both Dupree and Conway, tossing Conway to the floor. Bubba tags in and slugs away. He hits a neckbreaker for two. Bubba tries to Flip Flop and Fly but Booker kicks him in the face. D-Von hits Booker with the Saving Grace so RVD hits the superkick off the top rope. Jindrak and Cade get involved now and try to work on Booker. Conway tags himself in and tries to steal a pin. La Resistance isolates Booker and tries to wear him down. Booker catches Conway with a spinebuster and then tags his partner. RVD is a pothead afire, kicking everything that moves. He goes for the Five-Star Frog Splash but D-Von pushes him tot he floor. The referee completely loses control. The Dudleys go for the 3D on Booker but Cade breaks it up. Conway hits Devon with a DDT. Booker hits Conway with the Scissors Kick. RVD follows with the Five-Star Frog Splash for the pin at 7:52. That was a fun little chaotic brawl and they made the most out of the time they got. RVD and Booker actually made a pretty good team.
MATCH #3: Chris Jericho vs. Christian
The idiot referee rings the bell while Christian is still outside the ring. Reprimand that man! Christian and Jericho talk trash to start and then tear into each other. I love that it’s heated right away; too many grudge matches on the Indies start off like any other match. Jericho is the aggressor early on. He dumps Christian to the floor and wipes him out with a springboard cross body block. Jericho throws Christian into the barricade. Back in the ring Jericho pours the pressure on. Jericho goes for the Walls of Jericho but Christian wisely scurries to the ropes. Christian takes a cheap shot to the eyes and then dumps Jericho over the top rope to the floor. He slams Jericho’s head into the steps and then brings him back in the ring to continue the assault. Jericho tries to fight back but Christian goes to the eyes again and then hits a leg lariat for a two-count. They bonk heads in the corner and both men are down. Back on their feet they trade right hands. Jericho lands a flying forearm and then crushes Christian’s throat against the middle rope. He follows with a step-up enziguiri for a near-fall. Jericho hits a Northern Lights Suplex for two. Christian bridges up and goes for a backslide for Jericho blocks it and hits the bulldog. Jericho goes for the Lionsault but Christian gets his knees up. Christian goes for the Unprettier but Jericho fights it off. Instead Christian is able to hit the Tornado Inverted DDT for a two-count. Jericho comes back with a sleeper drop, and Christian hits a neckbreaker. Christian goes up top and Jericho joins him to try a superplex, but Christian drops him on his chest. Jericho is able to roll through a cross body block for a near-fall. Christian kicks the knee out and locks on a Texas Cloverleaf. Jericho counters to the Walls of Jericho and Christian reaches the ropes. They roll to the floor and Jericho puts the Walls on again! Back in the ring Jericho hits a super double underhook suplex. That gets a two-count. Trish Stratus comes running out looking fine. Christian hits a huge Implant DDT for a near-fall. Trish gets on the apron so Christian physically abuses her. Jericho comes to the rescue and checks on his lady. Trish thinks it’s Christian and throws an elbow, nailing Jericho in the face. Christian then rolls Jericho up for the pin at 14:44. These two wrestled like they had something to prove with all the other big matches above them and they did a great job. This felt like a true grudge match, and I love the finish.
After the match Trish tries to explain herself, but then slaps Jericho in the face! Christian hits the Unprettier and Jericho is laid out. Trish and Christian leave together and make out like teenagers on the entrance ramp. That was a great turn. #EvilTrish rules.
MATCH #4: Handicap Match – Mick Foley & The Rock vs. Ric Flair, Randy Orton & Batista
The Rock’s pre-match promo is a thing of beauty. Rock is wrestling his first match in almost a year, and Foley is wrestling his first match in almost four. This is an amazing collection of talent in one ring here. The Rock N’ Sock Connection charge the ring and here we go. They clear the ring, much to the delight of the crowd. The match settles with Rock and Flair in the ring, which is an awesome sentence to even type. They take it to the floor and Rock backdrops Flair, leaving him in perfect position for the Cactus Elbow. Back in the ring Orton and Foley tag in. Orton tries to go to the floor to avoid his rival, but Foley chases him and goes to work. Rock tags in and takes his turn too. Evolution uses the numbers game to take advantage on Rock. They keep Rock in their half of the ring and wear him down. Rock fires up and takes Flair down with a clothesline, but he can’t make the tag yet. Flair goes up top and obviously Rock slams him down. Rock still can’t make the tag but Flair can, and Batista goes to work. Finally Rock levels Batista with a clothesline and Foley tags in. Foley is a house afire. Once again Evolution uses their one-man advantage to cut Foley off and get back in control. After several minutes Foley punches Flair out and makes the tag. Rock is all over everyone but the numbers catch up to him. Batista takes Rock down with a spinebuster, and Flair sees this as the perfect opportunity to try the People’s Elbow. Flair takes too much time though and Rock nips up and goes crazy. Rock takes Flair down with a spinebuster and connects with the People’s Elbow. Flair pokes rock in the eyes and tags to Orton. Rock catches Orton in the Rock Bottom and covers for two. The referee is losing control. Batista this Rock with the Batista Bomb. Orton covers but only gets two. Foley gets tagged in and he cleans house. He hits Orton with the Double-Arm DDT and Mr. Socko comes out to play. Orton grabs an RKO from out of nowhere to get the pin at 17:01. That was non-stop action from five great performers and the match was laid out and executed tremendously. The crowd was hot for the whole thing too.
Hall of Fame Class of 2004
This year’s inductees are Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Tito Santana, Big John Studd (posthumous), Harley Race, Pete Rose (first inductee into the celebrity wing), Don Muraco, Greg Valentine, Junkyard Dog (posthumous), Superstar Billy Graham, Sgt. Slaughter, and Jesse “The Body” Ventura. That’s a huge class and some of the greatest talent to ever grace the business.
MATCH #5: Playboy Evening Gown Match – Torrie Wilson & Sable vs. Stacy Keibler & Miss Jackie
Winner will be by pinfall or submission, so apparently they’re just wrestling in evening gowns. Sable and Torrie decide they’d rather do the match with their gowns off, so the girls all take their gowns off except for Jackie. Bummer. Torrie and sable don’t take too kindly to that, so they take it off for her. Sable and They actually do some wrestling moves, including a high cross body block off the top rope by Torrie, and the fish out of water spot from Torrie and Stacy. Of course the requisite “roll over the referee spot makes an appearance. Torrie gets the pin on Jackie with an O’Connor Roll at 2:34. At least they kept it short. The girls are hot and all, but I don’t mind that these kind of matches are a thing of the past.
MATCH #6: Cruiserweight Championship Match – Gauntlet Series Featuring Akio, Billy Kidman, Chavo Guerrero, Funaki, Jamie Noble, Nunzio, Rey Mysterio, Shannon Moore, Tajiri, and Ultimo Dragon
Chavo has been the Champion since 2.15.04, and this is his first defense. Ultimo and Moore start the match. They take it to each other at a rapid rate and try to score a quick pin. Moore tries the Mooregasm but misses, and Ultimo hits the Asai DDT to score the first elimination at 1:20. Noble is next in the ring and he attacks Ultimo from behind. Ultimo tries the Asai DDT but Noble counters with a neckbreaker, and then locks on the guillotine choke to eliminate him at 2:15. Funaki comes off the top rope with a cross body block and Noble rolls over and holds him down for the pin at 2:25. Nunzio is next, and I recall that these two were cousins at one point. They go back and forth very quickly, keeping up the pace. Nunzio hits a nice missile dropkick from the second rope for a near-fall. Noble uses his momentum to send Nunzio to the floor, and then he follows him out with a cannonball senton off the top rope. Nunzio tries to get back in the ring but Noble pulls him off the apron and he lands on his face and gets counted out at 4:18. Kidman is next in line and these two have had some battles in the past. The fresh Kidman sends Noble to the floor, and then hits both him and Nunzio with a Shooting Star Press from the top rope! Kidman almost Lesnar’d himself on that one. Back in the ring Noble goes for the guillotine choke but Kidman breaks free. Kidman hits an enziguiri and goes up top. Noble joins him but pays for it with a BK Bomb and Kidman gets the pin at 6:09. Mysterio is next and he hits the seated senton off the top rope but Kidman comes right back with a hard dropkick for two. Chavo distracts the referee and Akio interferes, allowing Kidman to hit a spinebuster for a two-count. Kidman puts Mysterio up top and Mysterio is able to hit a super Code Red to eliminate Kidman at 7:29. Tajiri comes in next and locks on the Tarantula to a big pop. He tries the springboard elbow but Mysterio blocks it with a dropkick. Mysterio follows with the 619. HE tries the springboard splash but Tajiri avoids it. Akio jumps on the apron and holds Mysterio for Tajiri to deliver the green mist, but Mysterio ducks and Akio gets misted instead! Mysterio then rolls Tajiri up in a victory roll for the pin at 8:37. Akio I guess forfeits his spot and we’re down to Mysterio versus Chavo. Tajiri kicks Mysterio in the back of the head because he’s a sore loser. Chavo tries to steal a pin but only gets two. Mysterio comes back and hits a nice springboard rana. He dropkicks Chavo Classic off the apron and then tries to dive on him but referee Charles Robinson stops him. Mysterio then leaps over Robinson to wipe Classic out. He tries a sunset flip but Chavo kneels down and Classic grabs his son’s hand for additional leverage and Chavo retains at 10:30. That was fun enough for a sprint, but none of the mini-matches had time to develop into anything.
MATCH #7: Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
I forgot how much of the buildup to this match focused on Lesnar versus Austin. The fans all know that Goldberg’s contract is up after this match, and news broke that Lesnar was also gone after this match to go try out for the Minnesota Vikings. The crowd loudly chants “you sold out,” and then sing the “hey hey hey, goodbye” song. Goldberg and Lesnar stall for a while while the crowd chants for Austin. They finally lockup about three minutes into the match. The crowd does not buy what they’re selling. They start chanting “this match sucks.” Goldberg finally military presses Lesnar and turns it into a bit of a Spear. That’s the first thing the crowd popped for. Goldberg goes for a real Spear but misses and collides with the turnbuckles. Lesnar goes to work now, wearing Goldberg down with a wide variety of boring submission moves. Goldberg fights back and connects with the Spear for a two-count. He argues with Austin, giving Lesnar the chance to recover and hit the F-5 but even that only gets two. Lesnar tries his own Spear but misses. Goldberg then hits another Spear and lands the Jackhammer to finally end this travesty of a match at 13:43. That was the most entertaining bad match in the history of the business I think. It was such a perfect storm of strange circumstances that are likely never to be duplicated – hopefully.
After the match Austin delivers Stunners to both men and drinks beer to celebrate their departure. The crowd pops bigger for that than they did anything in the actual match.
MATCH #8: WWE Tag Team Championship Match – Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty vs. The Basham Brothers vs. The Self Proclaimed World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. The APA
Rikishi and Scotty have been the Champions since 2.5.04, and this is their second defense. Bradshaw and Shelton Benjamin start it off with some back-and-forth action. Doug Basham tags himself in and the Bashams go to work on Benjamin. More tags are made as all four teams try to set the tone and gain the first advantage. Scotty gets isolated, first by the WGTT and then by the Bashams. After a little while Rikishi gets the hot tag and he cleans house on everyone. Rikishi hits Danny with a DDT and Faarooq breaks up the cover. The referee has lost control. Benjamin tries to German Suplex Rikishi and fails miserably. Rikishi squashes Haas in the corner and delivers the Stink Face. Bradshaw takes Rikishi out with a big boot and then throws Doug over the top rope with a Fallaway Slam to take out Haas and Benjamin. He hits Danny with the Clothesline from Hell and goes for one on Rikishi but gets caught in a Samoan Drop. Rikishi then sits on Danny’s chest and gets the pin at 6:02. That was a fine mess for the time given, but no one really got a chance to shine or anything. Rikishi and Scotty were lame champions.
MATCH #9: Women’s Championship vs. Hair Match – Victoria vs. Molly Holly
Victoria has been the Champion since 2.23.04, and this is her first defense. They lockup right away and Molly takes the first advantage. Victoria grabs a quick schoolgirl rollup for two and Molly takes a powder. The Champion misses a baseball slide and Molly hits her with a clothesline. Back in the ring Molly covers for a one-count. Molly continues working Victoria over, focusing on the neck area. Victoria comes back and sweeps the legs into a jackknife pin for two. She hits a nice powerslam for two. Molly grabs Victoria and pulls her into the bottom rope. She goes up top and Victoria joins her. Molly is able to hit a Sunset Bomb. She tries the Widow’s Peak but it backfires when Victoria counters to a backslide to get the pin at 4:54. Ideally they could have gone twice as long but they did the best they could for the time they were given.
Molly tries to shirk the stipulations of the match but Victoria forces her into the chair and shaves her bald! Good for Molly for agreeing to this, and she didn’t look so bad bald either.
MATCH #10: WWE Championship Match – Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle
Guerrero has been the Champion since 2.15.04, and this is his second defense. They start with some mat wrestling and battle to a standoff. Eddie uses a side headlock and knocks Angle down with a trio of shoulderblocks. Angle takes a powder. Back in the ring Angle uses a front facelock to wear Eddie down. Eddie wrestles his way out of it and goes to work on the arm. Angle counters into an abdominal stretch. Eddie turns that into a vertical suplex. Angle turns that into a German Suplex. They take the battle to the apron and Angle goes for a German Suplex but Eddie knocks him back. Eddie dropkicks Angle back off the apron and then goes up top. He tries a cross body block but Angle moves and Eddie’s ribs crash right into the barricade. Back in the ring Angle covers for two. Angle is like shark smelling blood, going to work on the midsection and the ribs. He puts Eddie on the top rope and the tenacious Eddie repeatedly knocks Angle down and tries the Frog Splash but misses. Angle continues the abuse and Eddie fires up and asks him to bring it. Eddie builds momentum and hits a nice belly-to-back suplex for a two-count. Angle comes back with rolling German Suplexes but Eddie counters with a victory roll for two. Both men pop up and Angle clobbers Eddie with a clothesline. Angle goes for the Angle Slam but Eddie counters it with an armdrag. Eddie continues firing up and building confidence. He tries the Three Amigos but before the third one can hit Angle puts on the Ankle Lock. Eddie kicks his way out of it and drills Angle with a dropkick. He goes up top again and Angle pops up to hit the super belly-to-belly suplex for a near-fall. The straps come down and Angle cinches in the Ankle Lock. Eddie counters with another cradle for a close near-fall. Angle hits a German Suplex. He tries the Angle Slam but Eddie counters with a DDT! Eddie goes up top and this time hits the Frog Splash! Angle kicks out! Eddie tries to pick Angle up but Angle picks the ankle and puts on the Ankle Lock! The Champion almost taps but is able to roll through and send Angle to the floor. Eddie loosens his boot to relieve some of the pressure. Angle spots Eddie holding the ankle and once again smells blood. He puts the Ankle Lock on but Eddie slips out of his boot and surprises Angle with an inside cradle (with his feet on the ropes as well) to get the pin and retain the title at 21:33! What a brilliant display of technical wrestling, with great maneuvers and counters by both men. They didn’t rush anything,, their chemistry was incredible, and I absolutely love the finish. Only Eddie could pull something like that off.
MATCH #11: Undertaker vs. Kane
Kane is less than pleased to see his brother after burying him alive five months ago. Undertaker is accompanied by Paul Bearer. Kane approaches Undertaker cautiously, not wanting to believe he’s real. As soon as Kane lays a hand on his brother, Undertaker unloads on him with right hands. Undertaker signals for the Chokeslam and Kane bails fast. Out on the floor Kane hits a few right hands but Undertaker comes back and whips him into the apron. Back in the ring Undertaker continues the onslaught. Undertaker goes for the Last Ride and Kane throws him up in the air. It looks like Kane was trying a back body drop and it almost ended very badly. Kane goes on offense now. He hits the clothesline off the top rope for two. Undertaker fights back and hits a big boot and a leg drop. How is that not the finish? Undertaker tries Old School but Kane grabs him bu the throat on the way down! That was neat. Undertaker grabs Kane’s throat at the same time, but Kane fights him off and hits the Chokeslam. For some reason Kane just stands there and celebrates instead of going for a pin. Undertaker sits up and Kane is in trouble now. The Dead Man hits a sloppy Chokeslam and follows with the Tombstone for the pin at 7:47. The crowd popped for the entrance and the finish, but little in between. It was a pretty dull match but it was a good choice to go on between the two title matches. Undertaker is now 12-0 at WrestleMania.
MATCH #12: World Heavyweight Championship Triple Threat Match – Triple H vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels
Triple H has been the Champion since 12.14.03, and this is his third defense. The crowd is heavily pro Benoit from the onset. Benoit and Michaels can’t decide which of them gets to attack HHH first. It doesn’t take long for them to start attacking each other instead. Benoit whips Michaels into HHH, sending the Champion to the floor. Michaels and Benoit do battle briefly, and then HHH comes back in at an opportune moment. HHH tries to pitch Michaels to the floor but Michaels skins the cat. Michaels throws Benoit to the floor and is now alone with his former best friend. HHH takes Michaels down with a High Knee and then targets Benoit’s back out on the floor. Michaels takes both HHH and Benoit out with a baseball slide and then wipes them out with a moonsault from the top rope. He throws HHH back in the ring for a two-count. HHH hits Michaels with the facebuster and goes for the Pedigree but Benoit breaks it up. Benoit hurls Michaels shoulder-first into the ring post. HHH takes control of the match and works on both Benoit and Michaels. Benoit cuts off Michaels’ comeback by clotheslining him to the floor. He then hits three rolling German Suplexes on HHH. Benoit goes up top and Michaels knocks him down on his groin. Michaels tries Sweet Chin Music on HHH but he ducks and hits Michaels with a DDT. Benoit tries climbing up again but HHH cuts him off and hits a superplex. HHH covers three times but can only get two each time. He tries the Pedigree but Benoit counters to the Crossface. Michaels breaks that up. Michaels takes a page out of Benoit’s book by trying Rolling Germans, and the crowd boos. The crowd pops just as hard when Benoit reverses it and hits all three. Benoit goes up top and hits the diving headbutt for a two-count. Michaels comes back with the flying forearm to knock Benoit to the floor. He nips up and unloads on Triple H. Michaels hits Hail to the King and has the adrenaline flowing. He tunes up the band and drills HHH with Sweet Chin Music! Benoit pulls HHH to the floor to save the match. He takes Michaels back to the ring and tries the Sharpshooter but settles for catapulting Michaels into the ring post. Michaels’ head is busted open now, and he is so good at blading that I had to rewind it and watch it slow to see him doing it. Benoit goes for the Crossface and inches it in. Michaels is about to tap but HHH literally grabs his arm to stop him from tapping out. HHH takes Benoit to the floor and Benoit slams his head into the steps. Benoit tries a whip but HHH reverses it and sends him into the steps. HHH dismantles the SmackDown announce table. Benoit takes HHH up to the Spanish Announce Table and tries a German Suplex but HHH fights that off. Michaels comes out to join them on the table and he joins forces with HHH to suplex Benoit from one table through the other! A bloody Michaels wants to fight HHH in the ring now, one-on-one. Benoit is seemingly out of the equation. Michaels and HHH slug it out and Michaels sends HHH into the turnbuckle and over, knocking out a camera man. Out on the floor Michaels throws HHH into the ring post and then elbows a camera man for being too close to him. HHH is busted open now as well. Back in the ring HHH hits Michaels with the Pedigree and both men are down. HHH covers and Benoit appears from out of nowhere to break it up! Benoit lights HHH up with chops, and then traps him in the Sharpshooter! The crowd is going banana. Michaels breaks that up with a nasty Sweet Chin Music! The camera angle on that was perfect and made Michaels look like he was coming from out of nowhere. Michaels covers Benoit but only gets two! He tunes up the band but Benoit ducks it and dumps Michaels to the floor. HHH goes for the Pedigree but Benoit reverses to the Crossface! The crowd is losing their collective shit. HHH rolls over but Benoit rolls through and keeps the hold on. Finally HHH taps out and we have a NEW WORLD HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION at 24:47! I still remember this moment extremely fondly for the time it occurred. The match was phenomenal, with great effort from all three men. They did some good spots to get one man out, and did some great spots involving all three of them. HHH and Michaels really went above and beyond to show that this was Benoit’s night and Benoit’s moment. The finish was absolutely perfect and the crowd reacted to Benoit throughout the match.
WWE Champion Eddie Guerrero comes out to celebrate with his best friend, congratulating him for his monumental victory. Confetti falls from the ceiling as Guerrero and Benoit celebrate. It’s too bad this moment won’t be a part of any WrestleMania video packages anymore because it’s truly one of the best moments this dark, cynical business has ever seen.
BONUS MATCH: The Dudley Boyz vs. Lance Storm & Val Venis, Sunday Night Heat, 3.7.04
The winner of this match gets to participate in the four-way match for the World Tag Team Titles next Sunday. I actually miss Heat, and Velocity. Jonathan Coachman and Al Snow are on commentary. It takes the crowd a couple of seconds to start chanting “We Want Tables.” D-Von and Storm start the match with some chain wrestling. Bubba quickly gets tagged in and he goes to work on the arm. The Dudleys make quick tags in and out to work Storm over. They hit a double-suplex for a two-count. Storm comes up with a kneelift to D-Von’s ribs and makes the tag to Venis. Instead of going to work on the ribs, he goes to D-Von’s arm. D-Von comes back out of nowhere with a clothesline and a bodyslam for two, and then tags Bubba. Do the Dudley Boyz even know what selling is? Bubba hits a release German Suplex on Venis for two. He goes up top and Storm kicks him down from the apron, and we go to commercial. We come back with Bubba powering out of a Storm chinlock. Storm hits a nice dropkick for two, and then tags Venis. They continue working Bubba over in their half of the ring, even distracting the referee to their advantage. Bubba gets a sunset flip for two, but Venis comes right back up with a hangman’s neckbreaker for two. Venis puts on a headlock, and Bubba counters with a belly-to-back suplex. Bubba makes the tag but the referee didn’t see it and will not allow it! Bubba powers out of another chinlock and levels Storm with a spear, and this time he makes the hot tag. D-Von is a house afire, hitting Storm with a neckbreaker for two. The match breaks down to a big brawl, and Bubba seems fully recovered. They hit the What’s Up on Venis. We end up with Storm and D-Von in the ring, and Storm locks on the Canadian Maple Leaf but D-Von makes the ropes. Venis gets tagged back in and they go for the Hart Attack clothesline. Bubba pulls the top rope down to break that up, and moments later the Dudleys hit the 3D to get the win at 11:46 (shown). That was pretty typical Dudley Boyz stuff, and it’s sad to realize that almost six years later they haven’t changed up their act at all. Storm and Venis were a solid team though, so the match was at least decent.