DVD Release Date: Tuesday, March 15, 2011
MATCH #1: Hulk Hogan & Mr. T w/ Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka vs. “Rowdy” Roddy Piper & Mr. Wonderful Paul Orndorff w/ Cowboy Bob Orton, WrestleMania, 3.31.85
Muhammad Ali is the outside official. Hogan and Orndorff start the match. Before any contact is made both men make tags and it’s Piper versus T to start the match. Piper and T exchange slaps and then Piper tries to embarrass T on the mat. That doesn’t go as well as he wanted, and T executes a nice fireman’s carry slam. Chaos begins as all four men and the corner men get involved. Ali almost catches Piper with a roundhouse punch but order prevails. Piper and Orndorff tease running away but they make it back to the ring, only to get abused by the WWF Champion. T gets his shots in too and looks like he’s well prepared for this match. Piper and Orndorff use some chicanery to send Hogan to the floor, where Piper hits him with a well padded chair. Hogan is in trouble now, as Piper and Orndorff isolate the Champ in their half of the ring. After a few minutes Orndorff misses a flying knee from the top rope and Hogan makes the hot tag. T is a house afire. The cunning Piper and Orndorff cut T off and start wearing him down. It doesn’t take long for T to make the tag and Hogan comes storming in. Piper distracts the referee and Orton tries to interfere but Snuka sends him packing. The crafty Orton sneaks around and goes up top as Orndorff holds Hogan. T takes Piper out and Hogan moves out of the way and Orton hits Orndorff with the cast! That’s enough for Hogan to get the pin at 13:25. The tag team formula usually works, and it did here. Plus to add the historical significance of this match is incalculable. This match almost singlehandedly made the event a success and ensured that there would be a WrestleMania 2, so we all owe it a debt of gratitude.
MATCH #2: Intercontinental Championship Match – Randy “Macho Man” Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat, WrestleMania III, 3.29.87
Savage has been the champion since 2.8.86. I’ve seen this match about a million times but I’ve never reviewed it. Steamboat cuts the best promo of his life before the match. Savage tries to stall early on, but Steamboat is undeterred, hitting a series of armdrags. He lifts Savage up by the throat and tosses the champion down. Savage gets Steamboat to chase him outside the ring and then hits an elbow when they get back in the ring. They trade control back and forth, both being aggressive with each other. Savage continually throws Steamboat to the floor, and the champion has finally gained a firm advantage. Back in the ring Savage hits an ax handle off the top rope and an elbow to the face for a two-count. Savage stays in control for a bit, until he charges at Steamboat up against the ropes, and Steamboat back drops him all the way to the floor. Ventura calls for a DQ, but that’s never bee against the rules in WWE as far as I’ve ever heard. Back in the ring Steamboat hits a chop to the head off the top rope and that gets two and the crowd is buying Steamboat right now. Steamboat throws some chops, which Ventura says are illegal since they’re in the eyes. How many rules is he going to make up tonight? Savage tries to bail but Steamboat is able to catch him with a series of pinning combinations for a bunch of near falls. The referee inadvertently gets bumped and Savage looks to take advantage. He hits the Macho Elbow but with no referee there is no count. He goes outside and grabs the ring bell, and that’s how this whole thing got started. George ‘The Animal’ Steele stops him from using it though. Savage tries a bodyslam but Steamboat rolls through to get the pin at 14:35. Like there’s any mystery what rating this match gets.
MATCH #3: WWE Championship Match – Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, WrestleMania III, 3.29.87
Hogan has been the Champion since 1.23.84. Ventura is not exaggerating when he says “this is the biggest match in the history of professional wrestling.” Hogan and Andre have an epic stare down to start. They trade a few punches and Hogan tries an early slam but Andre falls back on him for a very close near-fall. Hogan has injured his back early on and Andre takes advantage. Andre has no trouble slamming Hogan, and he does so multiple times. He works the Champion over for several minutes, looking dominant. Hogan eventually fights back with a series of strikes and backs Andre into a corner. He charges in and eats nothing but boot. Andre then locks on a bearhug. After a while Hogan punches his way out of it. Hogan tries a few shoulderblocks but Andre slices him right back down. Andre boots Hogan to the floor and follows him out. He goes for a headbutt but he misses and hits the post! Hogan moves the ringside padding and foolishly attempts a piledriver. Andre reverses to a back body drop and Hogan takes the sissiest bump ever. Back in the ring Hogan ducks a boot and knocks Andre down with a clothesline! Hogan then hits the most famous bodyslam of all-time and follows with the Legdrop to get the pin and make history at 12:09. I know people dump on this match, and while it pales in comparison to Savage versus Steamboat, it’s really not that bad. Sure, Andre was not all that mobile but they worked a good David versus Goliath formula and the crowd heat was off the charts. It also is the biggest match of all time and that counts for something. I rather enjoy this match.
MATCH #4: Retirement Match – Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy “Macho Man” Savage, WrestleMania VII, 3.24.91
Miss Elizabeth is watching on from the crowd. Good catch by Heenan there. Savage is of course accompanied by Queen Sherri. Both men are initially cautious, but they quickly get aggressive. Warrior uses his power to overwhelm Savage to the floor. Sherri distracts Warrior though it doesn’t do much good, as he levels Savage with a clothesline and then chokes him with two hands before slamming him to the mat. Warrior continues the abuse so Sherri actually gets in the ring but Warrior throws Savage at her and the Queen crashes to the floor. Savage tries to fight back but when he attempts a cross body block Warrior catches him in mid-air. Warrior then plants Savage on his feet and slaps him in the face! That’s the best thing Warrior has ever done. Warrior continues to dominate until he misses a charge in the corner and falls all the way to the floor. Sherri takes cheap shots while Savage distracts the referee. Savage hits an ax handle off the top rope. Back in the ring Warrior actually executes a backslide for two. Savage spits at Warrior and then wisely runs from him. Back in the ring Warrior thwarts interference by Sherri and hits a clothesline. Warrior runs the ropes back and forth a bunch of times and then misses a splash, I guess would be the best way to describe it. That was just awkward. Savage wears Warrior down a bit and then they clothesline each other. Both men are down. Sherri distracts the referee, which works out when Warrior gets an inside cradle. Savage is able to kick out. He hits a high knee to the back and Warrior knocks out the referee. Sherri gets involve again, going up top with her shoe as Savage holds Warrior. It backfires and Savage gets hit with the shoe! Warrior goes after Sherri and Savage rolls him up for a near-fall. Savage wears Warrior down now and does the unthinkable by hitting five consecutive Diving elbow drops. Warrior kicks out at two! Now Warrior is Destrucing Up! Warrior unloads with clotheslines and then hits the Press Slam and big splash combination. This time Savage kicks out! A distraught Warrior contemplates leaving the match but Savage denies him that chance. Sherri holds Warrior on the barricade and Savage goes for the ax handle but Warrior shoves Sherri off and Savage crashes into the barricade. Warrior has found new purpose! Back in the ring Warrior hits a big shoulderblock and Savage tumbles to the floor. Warrior brings Savage back in the ring for another one and once again Savage tumbles out. After a third flying shoulderblock Warrior brings Savage back into the ring and places one foot on his chest to get the pin and end Savage’s career (ha!) at 20:48. This is easily Warrior’s best match ever, with a legitimate reason for the stipulation and palpable hatred between them. They did a bunch of really cool little spots and the crowd heat was insane. This is one of my favorite matches.
After the match an irate Queen Sherri abuses a poor defenseless Savage. The demur Elizabeth runs in from the crowd and pitches Sherri to the floor! Savage recovers and realizes who it is, and they share a tearful reunion, with Savage putting her on his shoulder, and then opening the ropes for her like she used to do for him. For me this is unquestionably the greatest moment in WrestleMania history, as the previously hated Savage became an immediate babyface. Today’s WWE writers WISH they could make people care about something as much as everyone cared about this. Grown people were weeping! Both of them being dead now makes this even more emotional to watch.
MATCH #5: Ladder Match for the Intercontinental Championship – Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania X, 3.20.94
Ramon has been the champion since 10.11.93. Ric Flair basically describes this match as “Shawn Michaels wrestling a ladder while Scott Hall was there.” They start with some pretty basic wrestling and Michaels throws Ramon to the floor, where Diesel levels him with a clothesline. Unfortunately for the challenger, the referee saw him do it and throws him out! Ramon is invigorated by his good fortune but it doesn’t last. He tries the Razor’s Edge but he’s too close to the ropes and Michaels back drops him to the floor. Michaels goes after the ladder, and winds up kicking it into Ramon’s midsection. It’s all Michaels now, as he creatively uses the ladder as a weapon. Michaels tries to climb the ladder, and we wind up seeing his ass instead. He gets a few more moves before Ramon can make a comeback. Now it’s all Ramon, and he too finds creative ways to use the ladder as a weapon. They go back and forth with the crowd getting louder with each new and awesome move. Michaels gets knocked off the ladder and gets tied up in the ropes, and Ramon takes the opportunity to climb up and grab the belts at 18:49. That’s another match that holds up remarkably well, as the psychology remain sound and Ramon’s selling for his smaller opponent was perfect. And what else can be said about Shawn Michaels? I also disagree with Flair; I think Ramon did his part, and there’s really no shame in being outshone by Shawn Michaels.
MATCH #6: WWE Championship Match – Shawn Michaels vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin, WrestleMania XIV, 3.29.98
Michaels has been the Champion since 11.9.97, and this is his fourth defense. He has Triple H and Chyna with him. The Champ outmaneuvers Austin in the early going until Austin catches him with a big clothesline. Austin unloads with a flurry of offense and we see Michaels’ ass about two minutes into the match. The crowd is going nuts as Austin backdrops Michaels over the top rope and onto HHH at ringside. HHH attacks Austin and throws him into the barricade. Referee Mike Chioda ejects HHH and Chyna from ringside. For some reason the Fink’s voice is overdubbed making that announcement. Austin chases HHH to he back just to teach him a lesson. Michaels takes advantage and hits Austin with a clothesline and then a cymbal from the D-X Band’s drum set. He reverses a whip and sends Austin crashing into the side of the dumpster used in the Tag Team Title match. Back in the ring Michaels comes off the top rope and jumps right into a fist. Austin goes to work now and focuses on the back, an obvious weak point. He knocks Michaels to the floor and right into the announce table. Back in the ring Austin continues the abuse. Michaels comes back with a jaw jacker. Michaels tries to wrap Austin’s leg around the ring post but Austin pulls Michaels back into said post. Austin has been absolutely dominant here. He charges and Michaels backdrops him into the crowd. Back in the ring Michaels pounds away. Michaels focuses on Austin’s leg, even using the Figure-Four Leglock. Austin turns it over to reverse the pressure and Michaels quickly gets to the ropes. The challenger unleashes right hands and catapults Michaels into the top turnbuckle. Michaels comes back with a Sleeper to slow Austin down. Austin backs Michaels into the referee in the corner and Chioda is down. Now Austin takes control, unloading with a fury. Michaels hits the flying forearm and nips up. He goes up and hits Hail to the King. Michaels tunes up the band but a series of reversals ends with Austin hitting the Stone Cold Stunner and Tyson makes the fastest fast count in history to give Austin the win at 20:04. That was well worked and overall a good match, but I think the very, very obvious (but very, very right) ending of Austin taking the title did rob the match of some drama. Still, these are two of the best and Michaels put on a hell of a performance being as injured as he was. This helped usher in the style of main event matches Austin would ride on top for years.
After the match, Michaels argues with Tyson, who punches Michaels out and then drapes an Austin 3:16 shirt over his fallen body, revealing his allegiance was with Austin all along.
MATCH #7: Triangle Ladder Match for the World Tag Team Championship – The Hardy Boyz vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. Edge & Christian, WrestleMania 2000, 4.2.00
The Dudley Boyz have been the champions since 2.27.00. I don’t expect to be calling a lot of play-by-play here. It’s a big brawl between all six guys right from the start. Various combinations of opponents fight in and out of the ring. Bubba Ray hits the first signature move, a Bubba Bomb on Jeff. Christian sets up the first ladder but quickly gets stopped, and D-Von brings another ladder into the ring. The Hardys are the first to effectively use the ladders as weapons, but everyone gets in on the act in short order. Jeff pulls off a really nice looking 450 splash, but Bubba moves and Jeff crashes into a ladder. Bubba pulls a Terry Funk, putting the ladder over his head and spinning, smashing it into everyone’s face. But then he celebrates and gets it kicked back into his face. Christian leaps off a ladder onto Matt and Bubba on the floor. Jeff tries climbing the ladder but Edge spears him down to the mat. Edge tries to climb but Matt takes him down with the Splash Mountain. Bubba and Christian are on two of the three ladders that are set up, and Bubba takes Christian down with a Bubba Cutter. The Hardys then hit their dual leg drop/splash off ladders onto Bubba, and then Christian tosses Jeff to the floor in a sick bump. Everyone gets back in the ring and climb up on the three ladders. Everyone gets knocked down, but the Dudleys get knocked down in the ring, leaving them at an advantage. They hit the 3D on Edge, but can’t resist going under the ring and bringing out the tables. They set up two ladders and set a table up on top of them. They set up two more tables just because. Bubba sets up another table right in front of the Spanish Announce Table. Meanwhile, D-Von misses a dive off a ladder and crashes through one of their tables. Bubba hits a powerbomb on Matt off the SAT and through the other table. He grabs another ladder and throws it at a charging Jeff on the floor. Bubba retrieves a very tall ladder and sets it up in the aisle. He sets up a table in front of it for some reason. Christian comes to where they are and hits Bubba with the ring bell, which sets him perfectly on the table. Jeff then climbs the ladder and hits an amazing Swanton Bomb off the top of the ladder, landing hard on his tailbone in the process. That was sick. Back in the ring Matt this D-Von with a Twist of Fate. He and Christian then climb the ladders and get up on the table. Edge climbs up on Matt’s side and pushes him off the table and through the table below, and that’s enough for Christian and Edge to grab the belts and win the titles for the first time at 22:27. That was amazing at the time, but doesn’t quite hold up as well as the previous match because some of the spots (such as Hardy’s admittedly impressive Swanton off the super tall ladder) looked a lot more contrived. Still, this was a reminder of why this was a heyday in the WWE for tag team wrestling.
MATCH #8: Street Fight – Shane McMahon vs. Mr. McMahon, WrestleMania X-Seven, 4.1.01
Mick Foley is the special guest referee here. Vince has Stephanie accompanying him to the ring. They trash talk each other and Vince slaps his own son and takes him down with some awful looking punches. Shane fights back and takes his dad down with a spear. Stephanie gets in the ring to plead with her brother to stop, and she slaps him! She wisely runs and then the battle spills to the floor. Shane abuses his old man with one of the “keep off” signs and then throws him into the steps. He continues beating Vince up, even using a kendo stick. Shane has been dominant thus far. He takes apart the Spanish Announce Table and cracks Vince with a monitor. Shane goes up top for the big elbow but Stephanie pulls Vince out of the way and Shane crashes through the table. Now Trish Stratus brings the catatonic Linda out in her wheelchair. Trish goes over to help Vince but then slaps him in the face! Stephanie objects and we have a cat fight on our hands! Foley breaks it up and receives a slap to the face for his troubles. Trish chases Stephanie up the ramp and to the back. Vince recovers and notices his wife at ringside, and calls her a “bitch.” Foley stops him from going after her. He tries to move Linda away from the action but Vince cracks him with a steel chair! Vince puts Linda in the ring and sets her on a chair so she can watch what he does to their son. He throws a series of garbage cans into the ring and hits Shane in the head with one of them. Vince continues to abuse Shane with a garbage can, and when he turns his back Linda gets up from her chair! That’s the biggest pop she’ll ever get. Linda kicks Vince in the nuts and Foley makes his way back in to unleash the fury on the Chairman. Shane is up and he sets a can against Vince in the corner. He goes to the opposite corner and hits the coast-to-coast dropkick! That’s enough for Shane to get the pin at 14:13. That’s the perfect example of using multiple people who were not active or full-time wrestler to tell a compelling and thoroughly entertaining story with tons of bells and whistles. The crowd heat was off the charts, and you know when a stadium full of people are popping for Linda you’ve done something extraordinarily right. This is ridiculously fun and probably Vince’s best match.
MATCH #9: The Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan, WrestleMania X8, 3.17.02
Howard Finkel’s voice is badly dubbed in for ring introductions. What’s the deal with that? The crowd is ridiculously hot even before the bell rings. They lock up and Hogan shoves Rock down to a big pop. Well I guess Toronto has decided that Hogan will be the babyface here. Hogan scores another knockdown and does some classic poses. Hogan continues with his boring offense but the crowd eats it up. Rock fights back with a clothesline and he gets a good chorus of boos but some cheers are there too. Rock hits a series of right hands and Hulk can’t bump over the top rope so he takes a sissy powder to the floor. Rock follows him out and continues the beating. He throws Hogan back into the ring and continues slugging at him. Another clothesline sends Hogan down. Rock tries the Rock Bottom but Hogan fights out. He goes back on offense as the crowd chants his name. Rock comes back with a spear and starts heeling it up with the crowd. Hogan takes back over with punches, kicks, bites, and scratches. Rock really starts acting like a prick so Hogan chokeslams him (sort of) and then chokes him on the ground. Hogan takes off the wrist tape and chokes Rock with that. Rock gets out and comes charging, only to get tossed over the top rope to the floor. They fight on the floor as Hogan readies the announce table. No one goes through it, but Rock takes a clothesline. Back in the ring the referee takes a bump. Rock hits a spinebuster and both men are down. They both get up but Rock takes Hogan down and puts on the Sharpshooter. Hogan fights back and hits the Rock Bottom but Rock kicks out. Hogan then takes off his weightlifting belt and whips Rock with it. Rock fights back with a DDT. Rock gives Hogan a taste of his own medicine with the belt, and the crowd hates him for it! Rock even spits on the belt before whipping Hogan with it. The man is a genius. Then he hits a Rock Bottom but Hogan kicks out and Hulks Up! He this the Big Boot and the Legdrop and Rock kicks out much to the shock of Hogan and the crowd. Hogan tries it again but Rock moves this time. He hits two Rock Bottoms and lands the People’s Elbow to get the pin at 16:23. I hate people who can’t admit that’s an entertaining match. If you can’t say that you are just far too jaded. Every once in a while a match like this can succeed solely on story and spectacle and this is one of those. Most will say I’m overrating it, but that’s cool, I can take it. After the match Hogan shakes Rock’s hand and incurs the wrath of Kevin Nash and Scott Hall, his nWo cronies. Rock comes back to make the save and gives Hogan his moment in the sun.
MATCH #10: WWE Championship Match – Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar, WrestleMania XIX, 3.30.03
Angle has been the Champion since 12.15.02, and this is his third defense. Lesnar has his ribs taped up. They take it right down to the mat and I expect them to spend a lot of time there. Lesnar asserts his power advantage because they are so evenly matched as mat technicians. Angle goes after the ribs, which is definitely good strategy. Lesnar scores the first near-fall with a nice powerslam. Angle comes back with a release German Suplex but Lesnar pops right up and hammers away on the Champion. Lesnar tries to follow up but Angle rolls to the floor, and then catches him with kicks coming back in the ring. Angle can’t keep the advantage though and Lesnar press slams him for fun. The momentum continues to shift between these two highly skilled athletes. Angle German Suplexes Lesnar into the buckles and takes control. He focuses on the ribs, trying to take Lesnar’s air away. Angle uses various suplexes and submission holds to wear Lesnar down. Lesnar tries to come back but Angle cuts him off and hits a belly-to-belly suplex. Angle knocks Lesnar to the floor but quickly brings him back inside. He charges right into a spinebuster and both men are down. Back on their feet Lesnar unleashes a flurry of offense. Lesnar hits a nice overhead belly-to-belly suplex and then another one for a two-count. He tries a third but Angle reverses to rolling German Suplexes. Angle goes for the Angle Slam but Lesnar reverses to an F-5, and Angle counters that into the Ankle Lock. Lesnar tries to escape so Angle turns it into a half crab and Lesnar makes it to the ropes. Angle charges in and Lesnar backdrops him to the floor! Back in the ring Angle ducks a clothesline and hits a huge release German Suplex for a near-fall. The straps come down and Angle hits an Angle Slam for two! Angle goes for another one but Lesnar counters with an inside cradle for two. Lesnar then connects on the F-5! Lesnar covers and Angle kicks out! Angle grabs the Ankle Lock and Lesnar once again reaches the ropes. Lesnar tries an F-5 but Angle gets a cradle for two. Angle tries the Angle Slam but Lesnar counters with another F-5! Lesnar goes up top and actually tries the Shooting Star Press and it looks great, but Angle was too far away and Lesnar spiked himself on the way down. A normal sized neck would have probably been broken by that. Angle covers for two. He tries to follow up but Lesnar picks him up for another F-5 and that’s enough to get the pin and win the title at 21:07. That was a different style than WrestleMania main events are accustomed to and I appreciated the difference. They did a lot of mat wrestling and both guys were believable in their attacks and their selling. If the Shooting Star Press had connected and been the finish this would be an all-time classic. Lesnar looks legitimately out of it, and he’s lucky that’s all that happened to him. They shake hands and embrace after the match, which actually makes sense in this context.
MATCH #11: WWE Championship Match – John Cena vs. Triple H, WrestleMania 22, 4.2.06
Cena has been the Champions since 1.29.06, and this is his third defense. The crowd is heavily in favor of Triple H and openly hostile towards John Cena. This would be Cena’s biggest match to date by far. HHH out-wrestles Cena from the get-go and looks confident. Cena tries an early F-U but HHH slips out and punches Cena square in the mouth. HHH tosses Cena to the floor and waits for him to get back in. When that happens Cena unloads with a flurry of offense. Cena hits the Fisherman Suplex for two. They trade some punches and Cena whips HHH into the corner and the Game tumbles to the floor. They fight up the ramp and Cena backdrops HHH on the steel ramp. Back in the ring HHH scores with the Harley Race high knee to take control. They go back to the floor and HHH whips Cena into the steps. Back in the ring HHH covers for two. HHH continues the abuse on Cena, wearing him down. He hits the Facebuster and then takes Cena’s head off with a clothesline for two. HHH uses a sleeper hold and Cena fades quickly. Cena is able to power up and out of the sleeper, and then he levels HHH with a clothesline. Both men rise and trade fisticuffs. Cena wins that battle and then hits a powerslam. HE follows up with the Protoplex, but when he goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle HHH catches him with a big spinebuster for two. HHH tries to use another sleeper but Cena suplexes his way out of it. Cena hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle and then locks on the STFU! HHH makes it to the ropes. Cena goes for the FU but HHH breaks out of it and pushes Cena and the referee into the corner. HHH then hits a low blow, making contact with both Cena and referee Mike Chioda. We see the D-X crotch chop for the second time this evening. HHH goes out and finds his sledgehammer and bashes Cena in the face with it. The referee crawls over to make the count and Cena kicks out! HHH covers again and Cena kicks out again. The Game goes for the Pedigree but Cena backdrops his way out of it. Cena hits the FU but it only gets two! The Champ goes up top and misses a high cross body block. HHH goes for the Pedigree again but this time Cena counters to the STFU! Cena really cinches it in and HHH is forced to tap out and lose his third straight WrestleMania main event at 22:01. The crowd reactions alone make this a worthwhile main event, and a definite improvement over last year. Cena and HHH have good chemistry and they had a great story leading into the match that presented the Champion as the underdog, which is rare. The finish was great and this match did a lot to help Cena’s credibility.
BONUS MATCH: Money in the Bank Ladder Match – CM Punk vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Chris Jericho vs. Carlito vs. MVP vs. Mr. Kennedy vs. John Morrison, WrestleMania XXIV, 3.30.08
This is Jericho’s seventh ‘Mania match, Benjamin’s fifth, Morrison’s first, Carlito’s second, Punk’s second, MVP’s second, and Kennedy’s second. Benjamin has been in two other Money in the Bank matches, Jericho, Punk and Kennedy have been in one other, and this is Morrison, Carlito, and MVP’s first time. Morrison is one half of the WWE Tag Team Champions, MVP is the United States Champion, and Chris Jericho is the Intercontinental Champion. There’s a lot of gold in the lineup here. Jeff Hardy was supposed to be in this match, but he had Wellness problems and got himself suspended. This one is going to be hard to call. The entire commentary crew is on board for this one.
Morrison delivers the first high spot with a ladder-assisted Moonsault to the floor. He didn’t really hit anyone though. Kennedy, Morrison, and Benjamin fight on top of two ladders, and Benjamin almost grabs the case. Instead he hits a sunset bomb on Kennedy, who suplexes Morrison at the same time. That was neat. Punk gets back in the ring and goes for the briefcase, and hits the Go to Sleep on Benjamin. Kennedy then hits Punk with a Finlay roll on a ladder. Carlito takes out MVP and goes up, but Benjamin pulls him down. He goes up for the case, but Carlito and Kennedy tip the ladder over and Benjamin takes a SICK bump onto a ladder at ringside. Carlito, Kennedy, and Jericho are all on the ladder now and MVP pushes them over. Morrison then takes out MVP. Morrison climbs but Jericho puts the Wall of Jericho on him on top of the ladder. That move doesn’t make a lot of sense in this context. Kennedy sets up a ladder next to them, and King calls the Walls the Lion Tamer, which I like. Punk gets back in but knocked down pretty quickly. Jericho almost gets the case but Carlito hits him with the Backstabber. Everyone is down now except for MVP. He almost gets the case, but MATT HARDY runs in from out of nowhere and delivers the Twist of Fate off the ladder, and MVP is down. Morrison almost grabs the case but ends up falling on the ropes instead. Jericho almost gets it but Carlito spits apple in his face. Carlito almost grabs the case but Kennedy knocks him down. Punk then knocks Kennedy down, and then Jericho delivers the Codebreaker to Punk with a ladder. Jericho climbs up and Punk goes up after him. They fight over the case and Punk is able to tie one of Jericho’s legs in a rung of the ladder and that gives him the opening he needs to grab the case and earn a title shot at 13:55. It’s pretty great to see a former ROH star get this kind of win at the biggest WWE show of the year. This was a hell of a spot-fest and the right guy went over. I like this yearly tradition.
BONUS MATCH: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels, WrestleMania XXV, 4.5.09
Shawn tries to use his speed early on, and Undertaker counters with his extraordinary power. Undertaker takes control early on, working on Shawn’s back. He hits Old School but misses a charger in the corner and Michaels goes after the knee. They trade control back and forth a few times. Michaels locks on the Crossface and Undertaker powers out with a side slam for two. The ever-resilient Michaels storms back with a flurry of offense. Michaels tries an axe handle off the top rope but Undertaker catches him by the throat. He avoids that and knocks Undertaker down with a kick and tries the Figure-Four. Undertaker counters and locks on Hell’s Gate. Michaels reaches the ropes. Undertaker tries the legdrop on the apron but Michaels moves, and then follows up with a baseball slide to knock Undertaker back. Michaels tries a moonsault but misses and lands hard on the floor. Undertaker recovers and launches himself over the top rope but Michaels pulls a cameraman in front of him and the cameraman does a horrible job of catching Undertaker, who appears to land directly on his skull. Michaels revives the referee and tries to get him to count Undertaker out, but the Dead Man just barely makes it back to the ring before the count of 10. He sets up for Sweet Chin Music but Undertaker counters with a chokeslam and Michaels kicks out at two! Undertaker looks incredulous. He tries the Tombstone but Michaels counters to hit the Sweet Chin Music and Undertaker kicks out! Michaels gets back to his feet but Undertaker grabs him by the throat and goes for the Last Ride. After several counters Undertaker hits the move but Michaels kicks out at two! Undertaker hooking the leg and overtly showing his frustration is great touches. He goes to the top rope and misses a big elbow drop. They get back to their feet and Undertaker throws Michaels over the ropes. Michaels skins the cat, but Undertaker catches him with the Tombstone but Michaels kicks out! The look on Undertaker’s face is priceless. Undertaker pulls the straps down and goes for the Tombstone but Michaels counters to a DDT. Michaels goes up top and hits the elbow. He sets up for Sweet Chin Music and nails it, but Undertaker kicks out at two! They get back to their feet and trade blows. Michaels counters another Tombstone attempt and kicks a charging Undertaker in the face. He tries a Moonsault but Undertaker hits the Tombstone to get the win in this absolutely epic match at 30:41. If anything even comes close to this in Match of the Year voting I’ll be stunned. This is the real match of the year, because the fans aren’t chanting “Match of the Year” and the wrestlers didn’t hug each other and talk about the great match they just had. Everyone in the building simply knew. I think this might be the greatest match of All Time.
BONUS MATCH: WWE Championship Match – Batista vs. John Cena, WrestleMania XXVI, 3.28.10
Batista has been the Champion since 2.21.10, and this is his first defense. The careers of these two men are almost mirror images of each other, which makes this an awesome match to have right now. Cena starts off with a headlock to keep Batista grounded. Batista fires back and I expect we’re going to see a lot of offense in this match. Cena hits an awkward looking suplex and then his bulldog for a two-count. He tries the Attitude Adjustment but Batista counters to a sick DDT for two. Batista uses a chinlock and Cena powers up and out of it. They trade punches and the crowd is doing the boo (Cena) / yay (Batista) thing. Batista goes back to the chinlock and Cena powers out again with a back body drop. Cena unleashes a flurry of offense, hitting the Protoplex and signaling for the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Batista cuts him off with a spinebuster. Cena grabs the leg and puts on the STF. Batista gets to the ropes and then levels Cena with a Spear. He sets Cena up top and Cena knocks him down and hits a Five Knuckle Shuffle from the top rope. Cena goes for the Attitude Adjustment but Batista counters it to the Batista Bomb! Amazingly that only gets two. A series of reversals ends with Cena hitting a huge Attitude Adjustment but Batista kicks out at two! Cena goes up top and jumps right into a Batista Bomb, just like SummerSlam 2008. Batista goes for another Batista Bomb but Cena rolls through and locks on the STF, forcing Batista to tap the title away at 13:29! That makes Cena a seven-time WWE Champion and a nine-time overall World Champion. The ridiculousness of that fact aside, this match was all kinds of awesome, with two badass power wrestlers throwing everything they had at each other. These two had amazing chemistry together and this match felt like a big, epic WrestleMania match. I love it.