The Three Count

T3C: The History of WrestleMania

When it’s time for Wrestlemania, everything else fades into insignificance. We need escapism in this world, we need great entertainment and to watch great athletes. Wrestlemania is all that and more. In a Three Count special, it’s time to look back over the history of the event that changed wrestling forever…

Wrestlemania 21 proved to be the year Vince was ready to take a major gamble. The Evolution break-up burned slowly during the year till the point that Batista finally decided enough was enough and he chose to challenge Triple H for the World Heavyweight Title. Over on Smackdown JBL was still champion but Cena beat Angle to become Number one challenger and the title match was set. Both titles changed hands and WWE found themselves with two champs who’d never held such high titles before.

The match of the night though saw Kurt Angle defeat Shawn Michaels in a match that’ll stay in our memories forever. Elsewhere on the card, The Undertaker went to 13-0 with an impressive victory over Randy Orton, Big Show progressed to 0-6 at Wrestlemania losing a lame Sumo match to Akebono and the IC title wasn’t defended again. Why? Well champ Shelton Benjamin found himself in a Money in the Bank Ladder match taking on Edge, Christian, Kane, Benoit and Jericho with the winner getting a guaranteed title shot sometime in the next year. The match stole the card and it was Edge who got the title shot. Trish retained her women’s title against Christy Hemme and Hulk Hogan made an appearance as Hussan and Daivari terrorised poor old Eugene.

So to Wrestlemania 22 and yet another Mr McMahon match as he seemed to be wrestling all over the place during 2006. This time around it was Shawn Michaels who had incurred his wrath by not backing him up during yet another onslaught over that night in Montreal. Not a bad match as Michaels got the win but he could have been better used I think. Onto the main events and another win for Cena as he successfully defended his WWE Title against Triple H. Cena was the face but you’d never have guessed seeing he nearly got booed out of the arena. Over on Smackdown just 9 minutes was given over to Rey Mysterio sentimentally winning the World Heavyweight Title in a triple threat against Randy Orton and defending (but not pinned) champion Kurt Angle in probably his last Wrestlemania appearance. Chris Benoit lost his US title to JBL, Trish Stratus lost her women’s title to Mickie James and the tag titles on Raw were successfully defended by Kane and Big Show (his first Wrestlemania victory) against Chris Masters and Carlito. RVD won the Money in the Bank Ladder match and the disaster of the night was The Boogeyman defeating Booker T and Sharmell in a handicap match. Little did we know what Booker would achieve in the months ahead. The Undertaker kept his winning streak going beating Mark Henry in a casket match, Torrie beat Candice in a Playboy Pillow Fight and the best match of the night saw Edge defeat Mick Foley in a hardcore classic.

WrestleMania 23 saw the link with Donald Trump renewed.  It wasn’t a return to one of his casinos though but a Battle of the Billionaires.  Even more famous now after ‘The Apprentice’ and still famous for that hairstyle, the wealth and the hair were combined into one of the most memorable matches seen on the show for a fair while.  Bobby Lashley represented Trump and Umaga was Mr McMahon’s representative with Stone Cold Steve Austin back as referee.  Lashley got the win and McMahon was forced to have his hair shaved off. The look on his face was priceless.

Title matches on the card saw The Undertaker win the World Heavyweight title against Batista in his first title bout at WrestleMania since WM13. John Cena was again victorious beating perennially unsuccessful title challenger Shawn Michaels in 28 minutes.  Chris Benoit defeated MVP to keep his US title in what was to prove to be his last match at WrestleMania while the WWE Women’s title match lasted just three minutes as Melina beat that years stripper, Ashley  in a Lumberjill match.  ECW didn’t have a title match as their champion was helping Donald Trump but in a shock result the ECW Originals won a tag match against The New Breed.  The Money in the Bank Ladder match again proved to be a success and this time it was Mr Kennedy who won the briefcase and the guaranteed title shot. Not that it did him any good of course.Poor old Kane found himself winning the booby prize as he found himself losing to The Great Khali in five minutes.  h did the most moaning?  Probably a toss up between Ric Flair and Carlito Cool who found  themselves stuck as a tag team in the dark match beating Gregory Helms and Chavo Guerrero.

So to WrestleMania 24 and a card dominated not by the title matches but by an overpaid boxer and an all-time great in his final match (probably).  Ric Flair had finally decided that it was time to hang up his boots (unless wearing them for an autograph session of course).  In the months leading up to WrestleMania he’d been in a series of ‘career threatening matches’, one more loss and that was it.  He made it all the way to WrestleMania but the run ended there as he went down in defeat to Shawn Michaels who seemed almost apologetic as he super-kicked and then pinned Flair.  Any top ten WrestleMania moments will always include the fans reaction as Flair said his goodbyes.

Meanwhile desperate to push up the buy rates, Floyd Mayweather Jr was hired to take on The Big Show in a wrestling match.  It proved to be better than most expected and surprisingly Mayweather got the win.

Title matches saw The Undertaker go to 16-0 when he beat Edge to win the World Heavyweight title in the best match on the card.  Cena’s winning streak at WrestleMania ended when he failed to win the WWE title from Randy Orton in a match that also included Triple H.

Blink and you might have missed the first ever ECW title match at WrestleMania as Kane destroyed Chavo Guerrero in just eight seconds. The tag belts, IC title, US title and Women’s titles weren’t defended.

CM Punk shocked everyone by winning the Money in the Bank Ladder match (only 13 minutes this time around),  Batista beat Umaga in a ‘battle for brand supremacy’ that proved nothing and entertained no one,  JBL opened the show with a decent Belfast Brawl victory over Finlay and the Playboy Bunnymania Lumberjack match had the lights go out and Snoop Doggy drop off as Melina and Beth Phoenix beat the latest Playboy recruit Maria and Ashley.

Wrestlemania is an amazing event. It may not have the celebs it used to have focusing more on rock bands like Motorhead and Limp Bizkit these days but would you miss a Wrestlemania? Course you wouldn’t. No way, when this starts on Sunday, I’ll be saying one thing in my head. “NOTHING ELSE MATTERS” Nothing else does matter, I cant wait for Wrestlemania, can you?

Stephen Ashfield