WrestleMania Matches Lost in Time
Location: Arrowhead Pond, Anaheim, California
Date: April 2nd, 2000
THE MATCH: Hardcore Battle Royal
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: The entire focus was on the “McMahon in every corner” main-event.
WHY IT’S GREAT: Pete Gas became a champion. Read that again and if you are over a certain age, you will be smiling at the memory. A pre-cursor to the Scramble Match, this was a 20-man battle royal fought under Falls Count Anywhere rules where the championship could change hands any number of times until the 15-min time-limit expired. The man with the belt at the end would leave as champion. It also made sense why the match was happening as Crash Holly had declared the 24/7 Rule void and used this match as a replacement.
Having Tazz be the dominant man in the match, while also giving each of the Mean Street Posse a chance in the sun, was great. The finish appeared to be botched a little (it comes across like Crash was meant to survive as Holly’s three-count would not happen before the time was up), but it was a fun brawl that didn’t have a dull moment.
Location: Reliant Astrodome, Houston, Texas
Date: April 1st, 2001
THE MATCH: Shane McMahon v Mr. McMahon (w/ Stephanie McMahon-Helmsley)
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: The amazing build to Rock v Austin II, the match between them at the event, TLC, Undertaker v Triple H, the Gimmick Battle Royal and the hilarious Hardcore Triple Threat are all more enshrined in the memory.
WHY IT’S GREAT: Comatose Linda, Trish turning face, Bitch Stephanie, Vince at his most evil and Shane being Shane all add up to a fantastically worked weapons-infested brawl. The shots are brutal (especially considering this really is Father v Son) and the finish is one of those great pay-offs to a long-running angle that just go over really well regardless of the era. Shane stealing the Van Terminator was the icing on the cake.
Location: SkyDome, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Date: March 17th, 2002
THE MATCH: Jazz v Trish Stratus v Lita
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: Hogan v Rock, nWo, Jericho v Triple H, Flair v Undertaker and Edge fighting Booker T over shampoo.
WHY IT’S GREAT: The women’s match has generally (fairly or not) been considered the loo-break section of any PPV, not helped with it normally being sandwiched between the semi-main and main-event bouts. The positioning of this was no different and as they were the ones who had to follow Hogan v Rock, it was a big hill to climb. What helped immensely was that these three women were very capable in the ring and they went at it with a fervour rarely seen (or should that be allowed) these days in the female division. Three very different characters and three very different styles meshed well, with a brutal finish that left Y2J v HHH with more than just Hogan / Rock to exceed.
Location: Safeco Field, Seattle, Washington
Date: March 30th, 2003
THE MATCH: Trish Stratus v Victoria (w/ Steven Richards) v Jazz
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: Brock v Angle, Jericho v HBK, Hogan v McMahon and the final chapter in the Rock / Austin saga (as well as Steve Austin’s last official proper wrestling match) would overshadow most things.
WHY IT’S GREAT: As with the previous match, the women were expected to be nothing more than a pee-break between the matches involving male wrestlers and one again, the women showed that they can be much more than that. While not as good as the three-way from WMX8, it was another great showcase for what the Diva’s Division can attain when allowed to.
Location: Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York
Date: March 14th 2004
THE MATCH: Christian v Chris Jericho
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: Chris Benoit reaching the top of the mountain (and then the fall-out of his demise meaning this event is rarely referenced) and then hugging Eddie Guerrero to close the show, Brock v Goldberg and the crowd reaction to both men, Eddie v Angle and the return of the “Deadman” version of Undertaker all happened on this card.
WHY IT’S GREAT: Two Canadians excelling in the ring on the back of a brilliantly-executed storyline culminating in a heel turn, a face turn and the hottest “bad girl” face wrestling has ever seen.
Location: Staples Center, Los Angeles California
Date: April 3rd, 2005
THE MATCH: Money in the Bank Ladder Match
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: Subsequent MitB matches are fresher in the mind, plus this card had the ascension of John Cena AND Batista to the main-event scene, Undertaker v Orton (in the only match where ending The Streak would have made sense) and Angle v HBK in a dream-match scenario.
WHY IT’S GREAT: WWE’s run of creating gripping gimmick matches (or, more accurately, evolving current gimmicks into something more) continued with the creation of the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Over the years, the number of participants has varied, but this, the first, set the bar and laid the foundation for the spots to come. Who could forget Shelton Benjamin’s first “Spider-Man Leap”? Or the momentum Edge carried from his win leading to the genuine excitement of his cash-in? Of course, WWE has not really had a MitB winner repeat that feat, but the fact the chance is there is good enough for me.
Location: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Illinois
Date: April 2nd, 2006
THE MATCH: John “Bradshaw” Layfield (w/ Jillian Hall) v Chris Benoit
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: Chris Benoit is in it, so WWE effectively struck it from the records. Also, this event had John Cena v Triple H (in the match where “YAY-BOO” was born), the excellent conclusion to the fantastic Mickie James / Trish Stratus angle and Rey Mysterio becoming the smallest World Heavyweight Champion on the back of the tragic passing of Eddie Guerrero.
WHY IT’S GREAT: It’s a great mesh of styles, with hard strikes aplenty from both guys. The action was good, but the finish was better and kept both men’s stock high when the bell rang.
Location: Ford Field, Detroit, Michigan
Date: April 1st, 2007
THE MATCH: The ECW Originals v The New Breed (w/ Ariel)
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: Most of the WWECW is glossed over, but this was also the show where HBK and John Cena had a great battle (which, in turn, was overshadowed by their epic in London a few weeks later), Batista v Undertaker stole the show in the eyes of some and Donald Trump and Vince McMahon put their hair on the line as their proxies (Bobby Lashley and Umaga) fought in the ring.
WHY IT’S GREAT: It was Tommy Dreamer, Sandman and Sabu in a bona-fide WrestleMania match… and they won. The feud dominated ECW for months and the various matches on TV led to this epic eight-man-tag. Everyone played their part and had their moments to shine and I’ll always have a wee place in my heart for the shot of Van Dam, Dreamer, Sabu and Sandman standing victorious in front of 80,000 people. Having seen them all compete in the original ECW and eventually reach the biggest wrestling stage imaginable, they deserved their moment in the spotlight and I’m sure Paul Heyman was smiling at his creations standing tall at Vince McMahon’s most prized creation.
Location: Citrus Bowl, Orlando, Florida
Date: March 30th, 2008
THE MATCH: John “Bradshaw” Layfield v Finlay (w/ Hornswoggle)
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: Undertaker v Edge main-evented on the back of a very strong storyline, Shawn Michaels retired Ric Flair, Orton v Cena v Triple H featured and an interloping boxer by the name of Floyd Mayweather had a fantastic match with Big Show.
WHY IT’S GREAT: It’s two guys who started on the European circuit just clubbing the everloving piss out of each other in broad daylight. The strikes were hard, the weapon-shots were hard and Hornswoggle got hit by a bin. Of course, the Clothesline from Hell to end the bout was also a clubbing blow as only JBL could deliver.
Location: Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas
Date: April 5th, 2009
THE MATCH: Matt Hardy v Jeff Hardy
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: Triple H v Orton had a great build (the match didn’t come close to living up to it though), Undertaker v Shawn Michaels I, Jericho v Piper, Snuka and Steamboat (who genuinely had “still got it”) and Cena winning the title again after picking up both Edge AND Big Show for an FU all remain in the memory.
WHY IT’S GREAT: Brother v Brother battles are nothing new in wrestling, but when you know 100% that these two are genuine siblings, the smacks take on a new dimension. The boys lay each shot in and the tension is genuine for most of the big moves. With Jeff Hardy always being considered the Shawn Michaels to Matt’s Jannetty, seeing the older brother come out with the clean win after a vicious Twist of Fate as Jeff’s head was wedged in a chair was quite the unexpected outcome. It’s genuinely sad to see how far both men fell in the subsequent years, but the current state of Matt Hardy is a tragedy waiting to be an obituary.
Location: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
Date: March 28th 2010
THE MATCH: Randy Orton v Cody Rhodes v Ted DiBiase
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: Bret Hart’s return to WWE (sure, the match sucked, but it is still remembered by everyone who saw it), Cena v Batista and Shawn Michaels v Undertaker II all took place on this card, so it would take something special to not be overlooked under those circumstances.
WHY IT’S GREAT: Legacy was crumbling and Orton was at his wits end trying to keep the keen-but-green Rhodes and DiBiase in line. This culminated in a great little three-way that told a story, kept everyone strong and allowed Orton to stand tall as the experienced head of the group after Punting Rhodes then RKOing Ted.
Location: Georgia Dome, Atlanta, Georgia
Date: April 3rd, 2011
THE MATCH: Cody Rhodes v Rey Mysterio
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: The return of The Rock, Triple H v Undertaker I, The Miz v Cena, Orton v Punk, Snooki and the surprisingly heated bout between Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler with Steve Austin as the referee.
WHY IT’S GREAT: With all the aforementioned stuff going on across the card, this was a great outing for Cody Rhodes and an important step in his rise up the ranks. Not to mention the finish was ingenious.
Location: Sun Life Stadium, Miami, Florida
Date: April 1st, 2012
THE MATCH: Kelly Kelly & Maria Menounos v Beth Phoenix & Eve Torres
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: Rock v Cena I, Undertaker v Triple H II, Punk v Jericho and Team Johnny v Team Teddy were all heavily hyped coming in and discussed at great length coming out.
WHY IT’S GREAT: As with other female matches on the card, nothing much was expected from the participants, but they didn’t let that affect them. Menounos was surprisingly effective in the ring (and with legitimately injured ribs to boot) and they had a great little contest.
Location: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, New Jersey
Date: April 7th, 2013
THE MATCH: The Shield v Randy Orton, Sheamus & Big Show
WHY IT’S FORGOTTEN: Rock v Cena II (“once in a lifetime” my arse), Undertaker v Punk, Brock v HHH and the hyped debut of Fandango.
WHY IT’S GREAT: Well, for one it’s The Shield in a six-man match and secondly, it’s their WrestleMania debut. The story coming in was that the faces would need to put any differences aside and work together to have any chance of stopping The Hounds of Justice. Orton and Sheamus were both distrustful of the giant and this proved to be their undoing as the top act of 2013 continued their roll.
Location: Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana
Date: April 6th, 2014
Attendance: 75,000 – 80,000 (expected)
THE MATCH: John Cena v Bray Wyatt
WHY IT MIGHT BE FORGOTTEN: Undertaker v Brock, Triple H v Daniel Bryan, a potential Triple Threat with Daniel Bryan and a potential title win for… Daniel Bryan. On the flip side, if Triple H wins the three-way (and goes on to win the belt), then everything else may be forgotten for entirely different reasons.
WHY IT SHOULD BE GREAT: John Cena usually excels in big-match environments and is generally rather selfless in putting guys over. Bray Wyatt is easily the best promo guy on the roster right now (I’d put money on Jake Roberts helping him out there) and is none-to-shabby between the ropes. A win for Bray is, for me, a must and from there, “The Eater of Worlds” will have taken a giant cog out of The Machine as his quest continues.