Well, hello. Welcome to the post WrestleMania edition of The Live Wire, still coming to you courtesy of whatever medication it is I’m currently taking for this life sucking virus. My head hurts. My throat hurts. My nose is blocked. My legs feel like lead. I want to sleep. But hey, I’ll work through it, because I’m a trooper. Or insane, whatever.
So that was WrestleMania XX – been and gone in 4 and a half hours of fleeting glory, drama, hatred and betrayal… and that was just the build-up for the Lesnar vs. Goldberg match! How did the show that trumpeted “Where it all begins… again” bear up? I’m here to walk you through the HOT and the NOT of the night, in easy to digest chunks. I like to end on a high note, so I’ll start on what was:
~ Too long. The whole damn show was too long. Was there any need for the “Coach goes to find the Taker” segments? For Jesse Ventura’s ‘Interview’ with Donald Trump? For the fireworks outside MSG? They could easily have cut back the filler crap and put on a four hour show, or even, and this is a shocker, given the time to the Cruiserweight Match! The only thing they needed was the Hall Of Fame segment, everything else not related to a match was pointless.
~ The Tag Team Title matches – What was the point of the Fatal Fourway stipulation being added to both matches, and both matches being as dull as a coat of grey paint? If they couldn’t come up with a decent angle for the Tag Team champions on each brand, what’s the point in just throwing opponents at them seemingly at random?
~ Everything ‘Taker did after he took his hat and coat off. From then on in, it was just the same old Biker-Taker, but with spooky eyes and not talking. Deadman Undertaker didn’t punch,. he used chops to the throat. Deadman Undertaker should have had the “torn sleeves” T-shirt on, not the Biker Taker singlet of death. He actually reminded me a lot of Sting (the wrestler, not the dull Geordie singer) when he was in the ring, rather than the old school harbinger of death… I’m wondering where they can go now with the character, and I’m wondering what Taker himself expects of this run. No doubt all will be revealed soon.
~ Brock Lesnar. Yeah, way to go Brock – tell the locker room you’re leaving right after WrestleMania, but tell them in the week leading up to the biggest show the company have ever run, and expect it NOT to leak out to the public. The reaction he got last night didn’t surprise me in the least, but Jim Ross acknowledging the reasoning behind it on air did. If Brock was gonna leave, he should have told Vince, and Vince alone. That way, he could have left, and it would no doubt have stayed secret, and that whole mess that passed for a match wouldn’t have been as bad.
~ Goldberg. The man seems to have no clue. I don’t know if it’s down to the fact he’s not from a wrestling background, but he does seem to react badly when things aren’t going as planned. The crowd were rightly dumping all over one of the single worst matches I’ve ever seen, and Bill was smiling. Maybe he thought it was aimed at Lesnar… until he went to celebrate, and realised it was for him, then gave the fans the finger.
~ That whole match. It was surreal. Austin is the only guy staying with the company, and he can’t work anymore! Austin looked kinda embarrassed to be there, until it came time to dish out the justice, Sheriff Austin style. I don’t know what they could have done, given the amount of hype that was invested in this match, but surely they should have realised that the reaction wasn’t going to be favourable…
~ The Women’s matches – Victoria and Molly know how to wrestle, and can put together a good match… so why were they given the dead slot and so little time? This was part of a three match lull – Lesnar / Goldberg ; The Smackdown Tag Four Way ; Women’s title – that damn near killed of any crowd heat that there was. Surely MSG isn’t supposed to be that quiet?
~ Cruiserweight Open. Way too short and rushed. This could easily have stolen the show if they’d allowed each pin to go for 5 minutes rather than 4 seconds in some cases – poor, poor Funaki… Ultimo Dragon nearly going base over apex on the entrance way just about summed it up.
~ The Rock – Rock didn’t seem as over with the MSG crowd as he expected to be… the masses totally no sold his “millions… and millions of fans” catchphrase, despite an inspired promo that he delivered as if he was Jim Carrey let loose in a Red Bull factory. During his match, there was more reaction for Foley and Flair than there was for The People’s Champion… with Lesnar copping the “You Sold Out” chants later, it could be that The Rock got off lightly…
~ Evolution – The promo that Randy Orton and Evolution cut before their match was tremendous, I thought. Orton finally looked like a star, and standing on the stairs where they attacked Mick months ago was a nice bit of continuity. Orton delivered a top class promo, and looked comfortable doing it… Maybe a little bit of The Nature Boy is rubbing off on him after all. Shame about Big Dave’s horrible white collared shirt though!
~ Taker’s Entrance. Despite my misgivings about the actual match and the character itself, I freely admit, I was waiting for the gong all night. Paul Bearer, the druids, the flames, the music, and until he got in the ring, the image – it looked great. At first, I thought the image was great, an updated take on the old grave digger look – it had a kinda Doc Holliday / Tombstone / Wild West era look about it… and the spooky eyes were back too! Sadly, it was just Biker Taker v2.0 underneath the coat. Hopefully, they’ll work out some of the bugs over the next few weeks.
~ Greg Valentine – Stephanie! Take a good look – that will be Trips in 20 years time, if he’s not still wrestling, natch.
~ Vince, Shane, and Baby Shane McMahon in the opening video. It just felt right, don’t ask me why. Plus Shane and Vince looked as proud as I’ve ever seen them!
~ Molly’s head shaving – nice to see a stipulation adhered to after a match. I feel for Molly, though – I hope she has a nice bumper pay day as a result of going through with it.
~ Trish’s heel turn. I think pretty much everyone saw it coming, but it played out well, and Trish was a revelation as a heel – she totally changed the way she looked and carried herself once she had turned. Very nicely done, and should keep the angle ticking over for a few more weeks, heading into a rematch at Backlash.
~ Steve Austin’s reaction to the crowd chanting his name… hey, let’s face it – we’d all have done the same – the little smirk, the wave… it made me laugh anyway.
~ Eddie vs. Kurt. An absolutely incredible match in my book. While the main event may have had more emotion, this was more of a wrestling match, a battle between two guys at the top of their game. Kurt and Eddie both had spells of dominance, and the crowd were hot for Eddie. The eventual finish may have been weird, but it was creative, and really sold Eddie’s desperation and inventiveness. Sets up a rematch too, which is fine by me!
~ The crowd ripping on Goldberg vs. Lesnar seemed appropriate to me. The match WAS boring., It DID suck – why shouldn’t they let the peeps in the ring know?
~ The main event. Everything a WrestleMania main event should be. Action packed, emotional, intense and well planned out. Kudos to HBK for a bladejob the size of which we haven’t seen since The Passion Of Christ, credit to Trips for putting on his best show in months, and doing a clean job, in the middle of the ring, on the biggest stage of them all. Mostly though, the crowd again have my eternal thanks for putting Benoit over as big as they did.
The “Let’s Go Benoit” chants were VERY audible all the way through the match, and the boos HBK drew when he attempted Benoit’s rolling German suplexes meant that Benoit was very much the fan favourite. The match was booked perfectly, and I’ll hold my hands up and freely admit – I was marking out like a demon… I hauled myself up to an upright position and I was literally begging Trips to tap out.
Then Eddie and Benoit were the top guys in the WWE, and the world seemed at ease with itself. Eddie’s tears made me well up, which I’d already done when Bobby Heenan mentioned Gorilla, and for a wrestling match to do that… well, that’s all you can ask for. Wrestling is as much about playing with your emotions as it is putting on a 5 star technical masterclass. They passed on both counts with this.
All in all… it was an average to good show, the two championship matches saved it somewhat. No surprise appearances, which was a let down. Think what you like about him, Hogan SHOULD have been there in some capacity. WrestleMania wouldn’t have been the same over the years without The Orange Goblin…
If I marked these things, which I don’t – I’d put the whole show at about 3 stars – not what the WWE was looking for from their hardest pushed event of the past 20 years…
Until then, have fun, go mad.
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