The SmarK Rant for WWE Wrestlemania 26 (aka “Shows where I can literally remember only one match.”)
– Live from Phoenix, AZ
– Your hosts are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & Matt Striker
Unified tag team titles: Big Show & The Miz v. R-Truth & John Morrison
Morrison dropkicks Miz to start and the faces hit legdrops for two. Truth hits Show with a leg lariat, but walks into a fallaway slam. Show pounds Truth down and goes up for a pump splash, but Morrison kicks him down and Truth gets two. Morrison comes in and runs wild on Miz, but misses Starship Pain, giving MIz two. Morrison counters the Stroke for two, but Show tags himself in with the KO punch to finish at 3:22. Really, that was it? *1/2
Ted Dibiase v. Cody Rhodes v. Randy Orton
Not sure how this is a triple threat match when it seems to be more clearly a handicap match. Orton dumps Rhodes , but gets dropkicked by Dibiase to set up the Legacy beatdown. They take turns pounding away on him, but Orton tosses Dibiase for a comeback. Rhodes with an Alabama Slam for two, but Legacy erupts for some reason and brawls to the floor. They look like such geeks here. Orton comes back with clotheslines and powerslams, but Dibiase stops the RKO. Rhodes accidentally nails Dibiase with a pescado, and Orton brings both geeks back in with the DDT. Orton sets up to finish Rhodes, but then changes his mind and punts him instead. RKO kills Dibiase dead at 8:58. Holy cow did Legacy ever look like the jobbiest pair of jobbers who ever jobbed there. This didn’t work at all, but the crowd was very into Orton so there was that. ** (Ted Dibiase was clearly getting phased down and whatever his father had just wasn’t clicking with him. I’m glad he’s off in a different line of work, doing what makes him happy now.)
Meanwhile, Santino Marella bites into a magic Slim Jim that turns Jillian Hall into a series of wacky people. Yeah.
Money In The Bank: Kofi Kingston v. MVP v. Evan Bourne v. Jack Swagger v. Shelton Benjamin v. Matt Hardy v. Dolph Ziggler v. Kane v. Drew McIntyre v. Christian
Kane is sporting an impressive shiner before we even start. Big trainwreck to start and everyone climbs the ladder until Swagger and Hardy are left. Kofi knocks them off, but Christian monkey-flips him into a ladder in the corner. Christian climbs, but gets zig-zagged to the mat. Ziggler goes up and MVP brings him down. Kane brings MVP down, but all the black guys gang up on him in the corner. Shelton clears the ring and climbs, but Swagger knocks him off, then Bourne comes off the top onto him. Bourne looks eerily like Eddie Guerrero in standard definition. Weird spot with Christian and Matt sandwiching Swagger between two ladders while he stands under the main ladder. That leads to Christian fighting it out with Bourne on a ladder ramp. Evan wins that and climbs, but Hardy takes him down, then takes a sick backdrop bump onto the horizontal ladder. Everyone gets car crashed to the floor and Kane beats on Dolph in the ring. A couple of poor ladders get murdered, so Kofi takes a broken one and uses it as stilts in the most innovative spot I’ve seen in years. Sadly, Drew comes in after doing nothing, gets rid of Kofi, and climbs. Matt Hardy thankfully gets rid of him and makes his attempt, but Christian makes the save. They fight it out and Christian brings him down with the inverted DDT. Christian and Swagger fight for it next, and that gives Swagger the case at 13:39, after he takes forever to unhook it. Well that’s a waste of a briefcase as it stands. This was the same as it always is, a bunch of cool spots and sick bumps. ***1/4 (The cash-in and World title reign were a pretty big waste, as well.)
Next month: Extreme Rules! Presented by KFC! EXTREME CHICKEN! (Just think, we hadn’t even made it to the era of KFC actually promoting matches between people dressed like Col. Sanders yet.)
HHH v. Sheamus
HHH being this far down the card worries me. They trade shots in the corner and HHH goes for the Pedigree, but Sheamus backs off quickly. Sheamus pounds away, but HHH hits him with a suplex and kneedrop for one. Sheamus bails, and HHH clips him on the way back in and follows with the figure-four. Sheamus makes the ropes quickly to break, and sends HHH into the stairs as Matt Striker tries to get “Ace of Spades” over as a new nickname for HHH. Really? Is this a thing now? He’s already the King of Kings, does he need the whole damn deck of cards? Sheamus takes over with a pair of backbreaker variations and stomps a mudhole in the corner. Axehandle gets two. Sheamus slugs away for two and goes to a chinlock, but HHH makes the comeback. He goes up and Sheamus tries to bring him down with the Razor’s Edge, but HHH slips out. Sheamus gets a pump kick for two. HHH gets the spinebuster for two. Sheamus bails to the apron and gets a pump kick there, but KICK WHAM PEDIGREE finishes him at 12:05. I’d say Lawler’s “70000 people just witnessed a classic!” was a bit much, but this was fine. **1/2
CM Punk v. Rey Mysterio
Rey is paying tribute to the Na’vi tonight instead of his usual superhero garb. (It’s so weird how Avatar was such a huge cultural phenomenon while it was around, and then completely disappeared from the public eye without a trace. Like, it’s literally the biggest movie in history, but who even wants to go back and watch it again now?) I was looking forward to an Iron Man outfit, too. Oh well. Punk attacks, but gets taken into the corner. Rey hangs himself in the Tree of Woe and gets abused by Serena, and Punk drops him onto the stairs for good measure. Back in, Rey comes back with a bodypress, but Punk turns it into a powerslam for two. Punk ducks a low kick and rolls him up for two. Punk with the high kick for two. Rey comes back with a somersault DDT off the top, which looked pretty cool. Punk blocks the 619 and Rey escapes the GTS. Rey makes it to the apron and goes up with a frog splash, but that misses and Punk gets two. High knee in the corner sets up a powerbomb attempt, but Rey reverses into the 619. Serena throws herself on Punk to stop it, but Rey hits it on the other side instead and finishes with the big splash at 6:30. Kind of surprised they’d blow it off so fast without even going down the “Rey goes straight edge” road. It was also pretty short, like everything else tonight thus far. I did enjoy the “big stadium match” feel they gave it. **3/4
No Holds Barred: Bret Hart v. Vince McMahon
Really there’s only one possible finish here. So Vince decides to stack the deck beforehand, bringing out the entire Hart family as his enforcers. Well I’d expect that from Diana and Bruce and especially Smith, no doubt, but I though Natalya was made of sterner stuff. And Bruce is the special referee, still wearing his stupid sunglasses. But Bret reveals that they were already onto him and now the Harts will screw Vince over. So Bret attacks and chokes Vince down, and the Hart Dynasty immediately drags Vince out and kicks his ass. They add a Hart Attack from the top rope to the floor, and back in Bret drops elbows on him. Vince bails again and the Harts drag him back out from under the ring, but now he’s got a crowbar. Bret gets it away from him without much trouble and beats him down (“That’s an international object!” declares Striker), and he teases a Sharpshooter before going back to the crowbar for a bit. And then he stomps on Vince’s nuts a few times, which always adds an extra star to the rating. Bret grabs a chair and takes a seat while Vince recovers, then lays waste to Vince with the chair. Like, Rock-Austin from WM 17 tribute time. Never let it be said that when it comes time for Vince to get his ass kicked, he doesn’t go out and give it his all. And finally the only thing left is to make him tap to the Sharpshooter at 11:09. Everyone said all they wanted as Bret kicking Vince’s ass for 10 minutes and then making him tap, and that is what was delivered to the letter. If this was in Canada the heat would have been off the charts the whole time. But it wasn’t. Wasn’t really a match and it’s not fair to rate it as such, but it was about *1/2 given the physical conditions of both guys. (Man, this was such a disaster and I don’t even know what happened exactly to destroy it, but the build was bad and peaked at the wrong time, and then the match was bad when it should have been such a slam dunk.)
Smackdown World title: Chris Jericho v. Edge
Edge puts him down with a pair of shoulderblocks as Cole notes Jericho is a six-time World champion. That can’t be right, can it? Edge gets a flapjack and goes for the spear early, but Jericho bails to escape and heads back in for a baseball slide. Back in with a Jericho backdrop suplex for two. We hit the chinlock and Jericho pounds away in the corner, but misses a blind charge. He comes back with a suplex onto the top rope, but misses a dive and gets sent into the announce table. Back in, they fight on the top and Edge faceplants him for two. He goes up with a flying bodypress, rolled through for two. Jericho tries the Walls, but Edge powers out and gets a sunset flip for two. Jericho tries the Codebreaker and gets sent into the corner to block, but Edge tries a spear and Jericho turns it into the Walls. Edge reverses into a small package for two. Lionsault misses and Edge gets the Edge-O-Matic for two (am I the only one in the world who still calls it that?), but Jericho with an enzuigiri for two. Edge hits the Impaler for two. Jericho gets a forearm off the top and sets up for his own spear, but walks into Edge’s boot. Edge tries his own, but walks into the Codebreaker. Well really, he waited for the crowd to chant “spear”, what did he expect? That gets two. So now we get to the meat of the match, as Jericho starts stomping on the Achilles tendon and then gets the Walls again (wouldn’t an anklelock be more apropos?), then turns it into a half-crab on the injured ankle. Edge channels his inner Dan Hardy and makes the ropes, then rolls up Jericho for two. Cactus clothesline puts them both on the floor, and the ref is bumped. Jericho nails Edge with the “championship” and gets two. IT’S A FUCKING BELT, MICHAEL COLE! A championship is an abstract concept, that is a BELT. Codebreaker finishes clean at 15:43. Really? That was actually looking it was going to be a good 20-25 minutes once Jericho started working the ankle. Oh well, Edge is boring as a babyface anyway. They really need to have the Royal Rumble winner actually win one of these years, though. This wasn’t “close the show” great, but it was never boring and the finish totally made sense. I’m also glad to see Jericho get his first Wrestlemania win since, what, 2001? ***3/4 Edge snaps afterwards and spears Jericho off the announce table, showing that he’s a sore loser as well as a choker.
Layla, Vickie Guerrero, Maryse, Michelle McCool & Alicia Fox v. Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres, Mickie James, Gail Kim & Kelly Kelly
Man, Vickie is the like best sport ever. All the good girls beat on Vickie in the corner (triggering an impressive screech from Vickie) and then all the women get to do their finishers. This leaves Beth with Vickie, as Vickie has a panic attack in the corner before getting rescued by McCool. The heels actually send Vickie to the top for a “hog splash” that gets the pin on Kelly at 3:20. I’m sure Eddie was flattered to have that tribute paid to him. DUD
– Quick question: Why are they using an Audioslave song from 6 years ago as an “official theme”? Did they overpay usage rights and need to burn off some airplay or something? The band doesn’t even exist anymore!
RAW World title: Batista v. John Cena
Cena’s ridiculous entrance this year: A military honor guard. Because he once played a former Marine in a movie. Batista looks trimmed down and it works well on him. They do the lockup battle and Batista gets a headlock, but Cena reverses to his own. Batista clotheslines him out of the corner and pounds away, then adds a boot from the floor. Cena fights back with a suplex and a bulldog for two. He goes for the FU early, but Batista reverses into a sloppy DDT for two. Big boot gets two. We hit the chinlock and they slug it out until Cena backdrops out of a facelock. Cena makes the comeback (7 minutes in?) with his usual run of stuff, but it turns out that Batista CAN see him, and hits him with a spinebuster. Cena reverses into the STF, but Batista makes the ropes without too much trouble. Batista spears him for two. They fight on the top and Batista goes down, allowing Cena to hit the five knuckle shuffle off the top. Batista comes back with the powerbomb for two. Cena tries the FU, reversed by Batista, reversed again by Cena to the FU for two. The crowd is going apeshit for this stuff. They’re really doing the big superhero v. supervillain match well. Cena goes up and tries the legdrop, but he lands in a spinebuster. Batista goes for the bomb, but Cena rolls through into the STF. Batista taps at 13:29 to give the title back to Cena. These guys have mad chemistry together, especially in a big match situation like this one. ****
– The two title matches would make this a thumbs up show on their own, so anything that the main event delivers will just be gravy.
Streak v. Career: Undertaker v. Shawn Michaels
Shawn fires away with chops in the corner, but eats Snake Eyes and a big boot. Corner clothesline and Taker tries to go Old School, but Shawn pulls him down. A second try hits, however. Taker pounds away in the corner and sets up for the tombstone, but Shawn slips out and fights for a crossface. Taker fights that off, but nearly takes the superkick before slipping away. Shawn decides to work on the leg in the corner, but Taker slugs him down and clotheslines him to the floor. That sets up a tope attempt, but Shawn slides in and clips the knee to stop him. Taker tosses him and runs his back into the post, then drops the guillotine legdrop on the apron. Back in, Shawn takes him down with a figure-four, but that only seems to make Undertaker really, really mad. He reverses the move and Shawn releases, and they slug it out. Shawn puts him down and kips up, but it’s a chokeslam for two. Tombstone is reversed into an anklelock by Shawn, so I guess that’s why Jericho couldn’t have it. Taker kicks him in the head a few times to break, but Shawn clotheslines him to the floor and follows with a moonsault. Taker catches that and tombstones him on the floor, and you have to figure that’s not good for Shawn’s career. An EMT runs down to check on Shawn, but Taker beats him up and rolls Shawn back in for two. Last Ride, but Taker’s knee gives out and Shawn gets two. Looked bad. Shawn goes up and drops the elbow, but Taker gets his knee up to block and Shawn takes the bump on his ribs. Ouch. Taker tries Hell’s Gate and Shawn rolls it over for two. They both struggle up and Shawn superkicks him for two. Shawn cues up another one, but Taker catches it and counters to the Last Ride for two. That was a giant near-fall. A frustrated UT tosses Shawn and preps the announce table, but Shawn escapes a powerbomb and superkicks him onto it instead. And given that it’s Wrestlemania, Shawn can’t resist a moonsault from the top, which puts Taker through the table. He even hits the knee, which is either a great bit of psychology or a lucky miss. Back in, Shawn adds one more superkick…for two. This match needs Jim Ross so badly. Shawn wants another one, but Taker chokeslams him. No cover, as he opts for the tombstone instead, and that only gets two. The crowd is just going insane now. Taker’s had it and he pulls the straps down, but he stops because he doesn’t want to end Shawn’s career. Just awesome facials from Shawn, as he gives Taker’s throat-cutting gesture right back to him, and then slaps Taker. And that’s it, as Taker tombstones him extra-super-duper hard for the pin at 23:57 to end it. If this was Shawn’s last match (which it’s not), he went out with another Wrestlemania classic. However, I just don’t think it was as good as last year, because expectations were so ridiculously high. ****1/2 Now hopefully he doesn’t go to TNA and job to Hogan again. (Nope, he’s still retired, at least. I just remembered how high the expectations were, and it just couldn’t live up to them, but it was still a ridiculously great match. That slap and tombstone spot to finish was something else.)
Everything that was supposed to deliver, delivered, and the main event was suitably epic and had the clean finish we needed. Huge thumbs up this year! (Maybe, I dunno. I don’t remember this show at all, outside of Shawn’s match and Batista being awesome.)