Monday, March 29, 2010

WrestleMania 26 Review

It's the granddaddy of 'em all, the Super Bowl of wrestling, and a show that I said could have been the greatest WWE event of all time.  Did WrestleMania 26 live up to the hype? 

ShowMiz vs. Truth & Wisdom was a solid opener that got the crowd on their feet, but it was way too short.  Just as I was getting into it, John Morrison bounces right into Big Show's carcinogenic fist and it was over!  This match could've been done on Smackdown and I'm not sure if anyone would tell the difference.  But like I said on Kick-Out!! Radio, no disrespect to the participants, but this was probably the least important match on the card.
Predictions: 1 for 1

Before I discuss Randy Orton vs. Ted DiBiase vs. Cody Rhodes, could someone tell me what in the blue hell Cody Rhodes was wearing?  Tan trunks and white go-go boots?  Seriously?  Alright, I have to admit that with my lowered expectations, I actually enjoyed this match.  It wasn't fantastic or anything, but it was certainly better than I thought it would be.  As expected, Orton got the win, which isn't surprising since Rhodes and DiBiase had absolutely nothing to gain from winning this match.  They've been presented as nothing more than a tag team throughout this entire storyline, so what would either one of them get out of a singles win?  This match did what it needed to do, it solidified Orton's face turn.
Predictions: 2 for 2

Money in the Bank... wow.  All I can say is that I did not see that coming.  Jack Swagger?  The same Jack Swagger that was getting humiliated by Santino Marella just two months ago?  Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with Swagger winning and I'm glad to see WWE's renewed their interest in him, but I figured if he was going to get MITB, it wouldn't be until the new PPV in July.  But good for Swagger, the guy probably could've been ready for the main event scene after that tremendous match he had with Cena on the Draft show last year, so after a bit of delay, it looks like he's back on track.  The ten man aspect didn't hurt or help the match, it just felt like your standard Money in the Bank, if there is such a thing.  I think this year's match favored innovation over insane spots; Kofi's stilts, Evan Bourne's bridge, and the Jack Swagger trash compactor were the moments that stuck with me this year, rather than the "how high of a ladder can Shelton Benjamin dive off of this time?"  So with unique ideas and a surprise winner, I'll give what could be the final WrestleMania MITB ladder match a solid thumbs up.  Kofi Kingston's tribute to Busta Rhymes with his hair gets two thumbs up.
Predictions: 2 for 3

Triple H vs. Sheamus was a rock solid match where everything worked, both men's styles meshed well, the crowd was way into it, I was way into it, it had all the makings of a great match, but the wrong man won.  This isn't some anti-Triple H rant or anything, but this should've been Sheamus' defining moment as a top Superstar in WWE.  It certainly doesn't close the book on Sheamus, but it does strike me as another missed opportunity with the Celtic Warrior, and I don't want to see those pile up.  It works in the context of the story, especially since Triple H referenced his own WrestleMania debut when he got destroyed by The Ultimate Warrior, and at least Sheamus looked really strong against The Game, but still a missed opportunity.
Predictions: 2 for 4

Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk was criminally short, and there's absolutely no excuse for it.  It was a great match for what it was, they did a lot of cool stuff, I liked the usage of Serena & Luke Gallows, and Rey's Avatar-inspired outfit was slick, but none of that changes the fact that the match was six minutes long.  These two better get a proper rematch at Extreme Rules, but even that won't change the fact that they didn't get enough time to rock the house on the grand stage of WrestleMania.  Definitely the WTF?! moment of the night.
Predictions: 3 for 5

Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon... let's just all be honest and admit that this match sucked.  A lot.  Obviously Bret was limited to what he could do in the ring, so it became Vince McMahon vs. the entire Hart Family, but there was no reason for this match to get more than ten minutes when CM Punk and Mysterio barely got half that.  The Hart Dynasty could've hit Vince with the Hart Attack, Bret could've went nuts with the steel chair and locked in the Sharpshooter and we could've been done with this in three minutes, and it would've been way better.  Don't get me wrong, it was cathartic to see Vince McMahon locked in The Hitman's Sharpshooter, that was a WrestleMania moment, but that was all I needed to see!  The other ten minutes were just painfully awkward, and that's a damn shame considering how great the hype was for this match.
Predictions: 4 for 6

Chris Jericho vs. Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship was flat-out awesome.  I'm really glad I picked Jericho to win, it just seemed way too obvious considering how hard they were pushing Edge after the Royal Rumble.  Also, as I mentioned in my WrestleMania preview, this is now the third year in a row that the Royal Rumble winner has not won the title at WrestleMania, which has never happened since they introduced the #1 contender stipulation back in 1993.  As for the match, I loved everything here, and it's a perfect example of why Jericho is the best in the world right now.  The Codebreaker to block the Spear, the Walls of Jericho turned into a Canadian Maple Leaf on Edge's injured ankle, the crazy close near-falls, taking that Spear off the announce table through the barricade after the match, Jericho just knows how to make everything look good.  Obviously the feud's not over yet - I'm hoping for Falls Count Anywhere at Extreme Rules - but for now, the headline is Jericho reigning supreme at WrestleMania!
Predictions: 5 for 7

The 10-Diva Tag Match - I went to my fridge to grab a beer, grabbed a couple slices of pizza, and by the time I came back,  Vickie Guerrero was repeatedly falling on Kelly Kelly.  Okay then.  Complete waste of time that could've been better used on any other match (except Bret vs. Vince), but I get it, they had to get the Divas on the show.  Obviously the cool-down match of the night, and it certainly accomplished that goal.
Predictions: n/a

Aside from the main event, John Cena vs. Batista was the best match of the night.  Cena proved once again that when you put him in a big match situation, he always delivers and thanks to his chemistry with Batista, he delivered huge.  It was nice to see Cena in a singles match at WrestleMania, he's spent the last two years in triple threats, and I don't think that plays up to his strengths particularly well.  Cena is a singles wrestler, that's where he can create those memorable moments and that's why no one can outperform him in the aforementioned big match situations.  Batista was no slouch here either, perhaps putting on his greatest match since his encounters with The Undertaker in 2007 and proved once and for all that a simple heel turn can go a long way.  Cena came out victorious, which may disappoint some since Batista has been so good lately, but I think John is the rare case of a face who is better when he has the belt, rather than when he's chasing it.  Big thumbs up to this match, and a big thumbs up to Cena's awesome entrance as well.  Great stuff.
Predictions: 6 for 8

The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels.  Need I say more?  Probably not, but I will anyway!  WWE made the right call by having this match headline because obviously nothing else on the card could follow this.  The match was a bit shorter than their encounter last year, but that definitely didn't make it worse.  I'm not sure if I can say which match was better, because they were actually very different contests with different stories being told.  I think this may be one of the only times in wrestling where two matches that happened a year apart actually complement each other.  This wasn't just a rematch, this was the final act of a play that began when Undertaker told HBK "sometimes it's hell trying to get to Heaven."

Shawn Michaels was absolutely fantastic here, he played a role similar to his WM24 opponent, Ric Flair.  There was no "I'm sorry, I love you," but HBK mocking The Undertaker and slapping him in the face at the end, forcing the Phenom to hit him with a JUMPING TOMBSTONE, was one of those moments that will live on in WrestleMania video packages until the end of time.  Shawn Michaels' career is over, and I honestly doubt there would've been a better way to end it.  Loved Taker's handshake at the end and stepping out of the ring to hand it over to HBK for his farewell walk.  The perfect ending to a perfect match and a perfect career.  I'll have more thoughts on the Showstopper's retirement later in the week, but on this night, his last night, Shawn Michaels proved once again that he is Mr. WrestleMania.

So, was it the best WrestleMania ever?  Simple answer: no.  Sadly, my prediction did not come to fruition here, but that's okay because we still got a really good WrestleMania.  The three main events were absolutely tremendous, the wrestling was solid in all of the standard matches, and my only real gripe is I think some of the matches could've been longer.  That complaint out of the way, I think the stage has been set for a really fun 2010, I just hope WWE runs with that Mania momentum.

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