Staples Center – Los Angeles, California – April 3, 2005
PRESHOW MATCH: 30 Man RAW vs. SmackDown Battle Royal
The Raw team, led by Eric Bischoff, features William Regal, Tajiri, Rhyno, Rosey, The Hurricane, Simon Dean, Snitsky, Chris Masters, Val Venis, Tyson Tomko, Maven, Viscera, Sylvan Grenier, and Rob Conway. Smackdown led by Theodore Long boasts Charlie Haas, Hardcore Holly, Billy Kidman, Nunzio, Funaki, Mark Jindrak, Scotty 2 Hotty, Paul London, Doug Basham, Danny Basham, Orlando Jordan, Akio, Spike Dudley, Heidenreich, Luther Reigns, and Booker T. By my count Smackdown has a 16-14 advantage. The match starts with an exchange between Heidenreich and Hurricane, of all people. Of course right after that it becomes the usual mess of punching and kicking most battle royals feature. Hurricane is then the first one eliminated, by Reigns, who is next to go courtesy of Masters and Tajiri. Scotty hits the Worm on Viscera while five guys hold him down. Masters then tosses Scotty, Funaki, Spike, and Kidman in immediate succession. Haas is the next to go courtesy of several Raw superstars. Nunzio gets tossed next, but they didn’t show by whom. Heidenreich clotheslines Venis over the top rope, then Dean, and then Grenier. He then singlehandedly eliminates the 400-pound Rosey. Rhyno accidentally Gores Snitsky, and then gets thrown over the top rope by Holly. Booker tosses Conway out. They do a standoff spot when they get done to the last dozen or so. Viscera viciously eliminates Akio, and Masters tosses Holly. Regal is next to go via Heidenreich. Tajiri responds by blowing green mist into Heidenreich’s face, and then Heidenreich accidentally eliminates London. Heidenreich next eliminates Tajiri, and Snitsky finally eliminates Heidenreich. I just typed the word Heidenreich a lot. Jindrak launches Snitsky over the top rope, and we’re down to Jindrak and Booker versus Masters and Viscera. That doesn’t last too long as Masters dumps Jindrak to the floor. Nunzio apparently wasn’t eliminated earlier, so he jumps back in the ring, only to quickly get press slammed to the floor by Masters. Viscera and Masters double team their Smackdown rival. Booker is able to pull the top rope down on a charging Viscera to eliminate him. He then slingshots Masters into the ropes and superkicks him to the floor to get the win for Smackdown at 11:19. That was a fun enough way to get everyone involved on the show in some fashion.
MATCH #1: Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio
Eddie and Rey are the WWE Tag Team Champions, and this is the first time in WrestleMania history that the champions will be facing each other. Rey beat Eddie in a succession of singles matches, so this is just about Eddie trying to prove to himself that he can beat Rey and that he still has it as a singles wrestler. They take it right down to the mat and Rey appears to be having trouble with his mask. Eddie controls the early going, trying to keep Rey grounded. Rey tries to fight back but Eddie catches him with a catapult to the floor. Eddie tries to follow up but Rey recovers pretty quickly from that big bump. Back in the ring Eddie continues to use his power advantage and Rey counters with a huge monkey flip. Rey charges and Eddie backdrops him to the apron and then knocks him to the floor. Eddie follows him out with a house show dive. Back in the ring Eddie covers for one. Eddie keeps the pressure on. Mysterio comes back with a creative armdrag to send Eddie to the floor. He dropkicks Eddie down and then follows out with a corkscrew plancha. Back in the ring Rey hits the springboard seated senton. Rey tries to follow up but Eddie cuts him off with a back elbow. Eddie hits one Amigo and Rey counters the second into an O’Connor Roll for two. Latino Heat goes right back in control with a hard backbreaker for a near-fall. Eddie then hits two Amigos and Rey counters the third to a headscissors. Rey goes for the 619 but Eddie ducks and then hits a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker for a near-fall. On the third attempt Eddie finally lands all Three Amigos. Eddie goes up top and misses the Frog Splash! Rey tries La Magistral cradle but Eddie reverses it and tries to hold Rey down but only gets two. Eddie tries a powerbomb but Rey slips out and is able to connect with the 619. Rey tries the West Coast Pop but Eddie catches him in a huge powerbomb for a near-fall. Eddie tries another backbreaker but Rey counters with a hurricanrana and hooks the legs to get the pin at 12:23! I think people had really high expectations for this match and that’s why it’s not regarded with much fondness. In reality I think it’s a pretty good opener and a good match, but a far cry from their best encounters. But really, when it’s Eddie and Rey, even a sub-par match for them is still pretty good.
MATCH #2: Money in the Bank Ladder Match – Chris Benoit vs. Chris Jericho vs. Christian vs. Edge vs. Kane vs. Shelton Benjamin
Benjamin is the current Intercontinental Champion. Everyone runs down the aisle to meet Kane during his entrance and tries to take him out. By the way, there are a bunch of ladders set up by the entrance, and when Kane comes out they all get lit on fire. It looks awesome. No one is successful in taking Kane out and they make it towards the ring. Benjamin and Benoit team up to hit Kane with a double suplex on the outside of the ring. Christian brings the first ladder into the ring and Jericho knocks it back into his face as the bell officially rings.
I expect to see a lot of action here and have a hard time keeping up with it all. This is quite the collection f talented performers here. Dives start happening early and Benjamin takes out four of his opponents with an amazing no-hands Hilo. The one he missed, Kane, follows with a leap off the top rope to take out everyone including Tomko. Kane grabs a ladder and starts using it as a weapon before Jericho dropkicks it back into his face. Jericho follows Kane’s lead by using the ladder as a weapon until Benoit hits him with a German Suplex that sends the ladder flying. That was a neat visual. Benoit tries to climb up the ladder when Kane grabs him by the throat, but Benoit grabs him in the Crippler Crossface. Edge breaks that up so Benoit puts him in the hold. Kane breaks that up with a ladder. Kane traps Benoit’s arm in a ladder and slams it multiple times. Edge takes Kane down with a big Spear. Christian and Edge then work together to sandwich Kane between two ladders. Benjamin then takes both of them out with a springboard clothesline. Edge avoids a spin kick and Christian takes it while holding a ladder. Edge sets up a ladder in the corner and whips Benjamin into it. He looks for a Spear but Benjamin avoids it and slams Edge face-first into the ladder. Benjamin sets Edge against the ladder and hits the Stinger Splash. He almost grabs the briefcase but Jericho climbs up and stops him. Everyone else besides Kane also climbs up. Christian takes Benoit down with a vicious arm breaker. Benjamin knocks Jericho down. He then takes Edge down with a T-Bone! The crowd liked that. Jericho and Christian are the last two men standing. One ladder is leaning against another ladder set up right under the case. Jericho tries to grab the case but Benjamin runs up the slanted ladder and takes Jericho out with a clothesline! Many Money in the Bank matches later, that is still one of the most impressive spots ever. Benjamin goes up for the case but Christian takes him down with a ladder. Kane is back and he knocks Christian out. He then tries to Chokeslam Benjamin to the floor but Benjamin’s leg gets caught in the top rope instead. That’s probably for the best. Tomko sneaks in and kicks Kane in the face. He tries to help Christian climb up for the case but Kane dispatches him. Kane climbs up to battle Christian but instead decides to just push the ladder over and Christian topples over onto Tomko on the floor. Jericho and Kane climb up now and tip each other over. Kane falls to the mat and Jericho all the way to the floor. Benoit gets back in with a ladder and sets it up in the corner. He goes up to the top of the ladder and delivers the diving headbutt! Benoit goes up the ladder and Kane sits up! Kane climbs as well and Benoit knocks him back. Benoit almost has the ladder but Edge comes in from out of nowhere and slams a chair onto his injured arm! Edge then climbs up and retrieves the case at 15:17. The first Money in the Bank match as yet to be topped, with six guys who all deserved to be there and all pulling out all the stops to make this memorable. Some of the spots are still highlight reel material, and Edge’s victory helped propel him to the top of the card. Of everyone Benjamin really stood out, and it’s a shame they could never capitalize on his performance in matches like this.
MATCH #3: Undertaker vs. Randy Orton
This is one of the few times where the Streak seemed to be in real jeopardy. Things are heated pretty quickly and Orton hits a nice dropkick for a one-count. Undertaker fires back with a huge right hand and he continues unloading with strikes. Orton catches a quick schoolboy rollup for two. He tries the RKO but Undertaker catches him and dumps him to the floor. Undertaker hits the legdrop on the apron. Back in the ring Undertaker hits Old School. Undertaker goes for a boot in the corner but Orton moves and Undertaker crashes to the floor. Back in the ring Orton tries to wear the Dead Man down. Undertaker comes back with a DDT. Undertaker hits Snake Eyes and goes for a big bot but Orton catches him with a back elbow for a two-count. Orton foolishly celebrates and Undertaker sits up. The Legend Killer doesn’t get flustered though and goes right back on the attack. Undertaker comes back with a clothesline for two. He locks on a standing Dragon Sleeper and Orton counters it with a DDT. Orton locks on a Sleeper but Undertaker counters with a back suplex. Undertaker comes off the ropes and Orton catches him in a powerslam for a near-fall. Orton foolishly goes for mounted punches in the corner, and just guess how that ends. Orton is able to slip out though and he goes for the RKO but Undertaker pushes him into the referee, knocking him out. Undertaker goes for the Last Ride but Orton falls on him. Cowboy Bob runs in and drills Undertaker with the cast! The referee rolls over to make the count and Undertaker kicks out! Undertaker sits up and he’s mad now. Cowboy tries to use the cast again but Undertaker kicks him off the apron. Undertaker goes for a Chokeslam but Orton counters with an RKO! Undertaker kicks out! Orton tries a Tombstone but Undertaker reverses it to one of his own to get the pin at 14:14. That was a terrific match with lots of drama around the Streak. Both guys did a great job countering each other and Undertaker made Orton seem like a legitimate threat. I think this is kind of a forgotten match but it’s really good. Undertaker is now 13-0.
MATCH #4: Women’s Championship Match – Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme
Stratus has been the Champion since 1.9.05, and this is her third defense. Hemme is accompanied by Lita, who has been training her for this title match. Stratus mocks Hemme to start and immediately kicks her to the floor. She throws the challenger into the steps and continues to talk trash. Back in the ring Stratus continues to dominate. Stratus goes for the Chick Kick but Hemme catches it and kicks Stratus in the vag. Hemme kicks Stratus some more and covers for two. Stratus fights back with chops. She gets distracted by Lita and Hemme is able to get a sunset flip for a near-fall. Stratus cuts Hemme off with a spear. Hemme rolls to the floor and Stratus follows her out. Lita comes over to try and help so Stratus shoves her into the barricade. Back in the ring Stratus taunts Lita and Hemme almost gets the pin with a schoolgirl rollup. Hemme unleashes a series of kicks while her hands are balled into fists, which just looks ridiculous. The challenger continues with the flurry of offense and hits the inverted Twist of Fate for a near-fall. They trade O’Connor rolls for two-counts and then Stratus finishes Hemme off with a Chick Kick at 4:41. Hemme did okay all things considered, and at least they kept it short.
MATCH #5: Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle
This should be all kinds of amazing. Michaels slaps Angle in the face to start, so Angle takes him down to the mat. Yeah this match already rules. They wrestle to a standoff. Michaels works a headlock, and even hangs on when Angle back suplexes him. Angle backs Michaels into the corner and we get a clean break. Michaels goes back to the headlock, trying to keep Angle grounded. Angle fights back but Michaels takes him right back down with a short am scissors. They trade a few pinning combinations and Michaels goes right back to the headlock. This is a solid game plan by Michaels. Things get heated and they start trading punches. Angle is able to grab the Ankle Lock and Michaels wisely rolls right out of it. Michaels clotheslines Angle to the floor and they both tumble out. The SmackDown announce table is in trouble as Michaels dismantles it. That gives Angle the chance to recover and unload with some heavy strikes. Angle then hits an Angle Slam into the ring post! That was awesome. Back in the ring Angle is clearly in control, working on the back. Angle puts Michaels up top and Michaels knocks him down. Michaels goes for Hail to the King but Angle avoids it. That’s going to further mess up the back. Angle pulls the straps down and tries the Angle Slam but Michaels counters with an armdrag. Michaels then backdrops Angle to the floor and gets a little reprieve. He follows Angle out with a cross body block off the top rope. They fight up on the apron and Angle teases a German Suplex. Michaels distracts the referee and is able to hit a low blow. I love that Michaels is that desperate to win. Michaels kicks Angle back onto the announce table and hits a springboard turnaround splash. Both men are down on the floor. They barely make it back to the ring and Angle is bleeding from the mouth. They trade right hands and chops. Michaels hits the flying forearm and nips up! He unleashes a flurry of offense. This is why Michaels is the most resilient superstar ever. Michaels hits Hail to the King. He tunes up the band but Angle catches the Sweet Chin Music and locks on the Ankle Lock! Michaels is able to reach the ropes but a lot of damage has been done. Angle is in the zone and tries the Angle Slam but Michaels counters to a sunset flip, and Angle counters to the Ankle Lock, and Michaels counters to a victory roll for two. Michaels tries the Sweet Chin Music again but Angle catches him in the Angle Slam! It only gets two! Angle puts the straps up just so he can pull them down again. That’s awesome. Angle goes up top and misses the moonsault! Michaels goes up top and Angle hops up there and delivers a Super Angle Slam! Somehow Michaels kicks out! Angle gets right in Michaels’ face and trash talks him, giving Michaels the chance to hit a surprise Sweet Chin Music! Michaels eventually crawls over for the cover but only gets two! Both men are exhausted. Angle is able to grab an Ankle Lock from out of nowhere! Michaels fights like hell to get out of it but Angle will not let go and Michaels finally taps out at 27:25! That was everything you would expect and more. The match never felt long and the psychology from both guys was sound. They spaced out the big spots and sold appropriately for what they were doing. The near-falls were plentiful and believable, and the finish was great. This is an all-time classic.
MATCH #6: Sumo Match – Akebono vs. Big Show
I don’t know much about Sumo Wrestling to be honest. Cole actually does a pretty good job explaining everything and they seem to be paying actual respect to the sport. The two behemoths collide and try to get each other out of the circle. This goes on for a bit and then Akebono hurls Show out of the circle at 1:03. I don’t really know how to rate a sumo match, but the novelty factor was kind of neat and it was short.
MATCH #7: WWE Championship Match – JBL vs. John Cena
JBL has been the Champion since 6.27.04, and this is his thirteenth defense. They start off quickly, with both guys knocking each other down with shoulderblocks. Cena charge into the corner and JBL gets hit boot up. JBL then takes Cena down with another shoulderblock and goes on offense. The champion stays one step ahead of Cena in the early going. JBL hits a nice spinebuster and covers for two. He continues to keep up the pressure, not allowing Cena to get any momentum going. JBL puts on a Sleeper and Cena is able to get out of it with a back suplex. Both men rise and Cena ducks a clothesline, then both men clothesline each other. Up on their feet Cena unleashes some right hands but JBL cuts him off by throwing him through the ropes. JBL follows him out and hits a neckbreaker. Back in the ring JBL covers for two. JBL puts Cena up top and hits a superplex, which gets another two-count. The Champion goes up top and tries a cross body block but Cena catches him in a powerslam! Both men are down. Back on their feet Cena unloads with a series of clotheslines and a back body drop. Cena hits a big shoulderblock, the hiptoss, and the Proto-Plex. He follows with the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Cena charges into the corner and JBL gets a boot up. JBL goes for the Clothesline from Hell but Cena ducks and hits the F-U to get the pin and win his first WWE Championship at 11:27. For a WrestleMania main event (sort of) this was just rather lifeless. There was nothing wrong with it per se, as they followed a formula that normally works, but something just didn’t click. They would do better later on.
Hall of Fame Class of 2005
The 2005 inductees into the WWE Hall of Fame are Nikolai Volkoff, The Iron Sheik, “Mr. Wonderful” Paul Orndorff, “Cowboy” Bob Orton Jr., “The Mouth of the South” Jimmy Hart, “Hot Rod” “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and “The Immortal” Hulk Hogan.
MATCH #8: World Heavyweight Title Match – Triple H vs. Batista
Triple H has been the Champion since 1.9.05, and this is his third defense. He’s played to the ring by Motorhead, and is accompanied by “The Nature Boy” Ric Flair. They lockup and try to out-muscle each other. Batista seems to have the edge there. HHH comes back and takes Batista down with a shoulderblock. He tries a Pedigree but Batista pushes him off and executes an impressive press slam. Every time HHH tries to build momentum Batista has an answer for him. The challenger is looking dominant here. Finally HHH strikes with a Harley Race high knee to send Batista crashing to the floor. Flair distracts Batista and HHH slams him into the ring steps. HHH takes control now, and Flair interferes every chance he gets. After several minutes of abuse Batista almost makes the comeback but HHH cuts him off with a spinebuster. HHH covers three times but can only get two-counts. He stays in control and tries the Pedigree but Batista backdrops his way out of it. HHH then this the Facebuster for another near-fall. He goes up top and jumps right into a big clothesline. Batista is back in the match, and he hits a nice side suplex for two. He charges into the corner but HHH gets a boot up. Batista reverses a whip into the corner and HHH crashes to the floor. Batista follows him out but this time it’s HHH reversing the whip and Batista careens into the stairs. HHH rearranges the steps and goes for a piledriver on top of them, but Batista counters into a catapult right into the ring post! That leaves HHH’s head a bloody mess. Back in the ring Batista is in control. The fight spills back to the floor and Flair tries to interfere but gets knocked on his ass. HHH tries to use a chair but the referee disarms him and gets knocked out in the process. Batista takes the match back to the ring and HHH is begging off. Flair comes in the ring with the belt but Batista grabs him with a spinebuster. The referee is back in the ring just as HHH hits Batista with the belt! Batista kicks out! HHH runs right into a spinebuster. Batista goes for the Batista Bomb but HHH ducks down and hits a low blow. HHH goes for the Pedigree but Batista blocks it and turns it into an Air Raid Crash! Batista then hits the Batista Bomb to score the pin at 21:33. That was a solid match but not up to the standards set by the last two years. They kept it slow and played to Batista’s strengths, and they did make him look good in capturing the title, so mission accomplished.