And John Cena is a very strong man.
Date: April 5, 2009
Location: Reliant Stadium, Houston, Texas
Commentators: Jim Ross, Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler
After last year’s great show, we get….this. Wrestlemania 25 is often listed alongside the worst Wrestlemanias of all time. I watched it live and thought it sucked other than the candidate for best match ever in the middle of it. This is one of the ones that I wasn’t looking forward to but I have to be tortured for this job. Let’s get to it.
We open with a video of people being asked what the biggest moment in Wrestlemania history is over the first 25 years (let me get this out of the way: IT WAS TWENTY FOUR AT THAT TIME. This drove me CRAZY at the time because the show was built up as the 25th anniversary of the show, but that isn’t how things work. Think about it: when you get married, the day a year later is your first anniversary, meaning that Wrestlemania 2 would be the first anniversary, Wrestlemania 3 is your second anniversary and so on to Wrestlemania 25 being the TWENTY FOURTH ANNIVERARY, NOT THE TWENTY FIFTH!).
Anyway the answers are exactly what you would expect: ladder match, Hogan slamming Andre, Hogan vs. Warrior etc. This leads to a video of people saying they’re making the top moment tonight.
Nicole Scherzinger of the Pussycat Dolls sings America the Beautiful.
MVP vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Christian vs. Kofi Kingston vs. CM Punk vs. Finlay vs. Mark Henry vs. Kane
MITB here. Henry has Tony Atlas with him, MVP is the face US Champion and Kofi is still Jamaican. BIG pop for Christian here. It’s a big brawl to start as the fans are solidly behind Christian here. Christian and Shelton run over Henry with the big ladder but Kofi jumps over it and takes both guys down. There’s a Boom Drop onto the ladder onto both guys. The ladder is set up in the ring but here’s Kane to beat everyone up.
Henry and Kane go up the ladder but everyone bands together to pull them down. The monsters are both sent to the floor and a second regular sized ladder is set up. A bunch of people go up but Kane and Henry shove everyone down. Kane kicks Henry down and loads up the big ladder again. Henry breaks up that attempt but opts to throw the ladder at Finlay instead of climbing.
Finlay dives through the ropes at Kane and Shelton so Christian can dive onto Finlay and Kane to take them out. MVP dives on all three of them and Kofi and Punk hit stereo suicide dives to take out all four guys. Shelton climbs onto the huge ladder and DIVES onto all five guys, looking like he landed on his head at first look. Now HENRY goes up top but Finlay breaks it up to prevent an earthquake.
Horny slides in his own ladder to climb onto Henry’s back and dive onto all six guys on the floor. Finlay is the only guy standing and throws in a big ladder, but he had to fight Kofi. Kofi dives THROUGH the ladder and drops it onto Finlay for good measure. Finlay drops him with the Horny ladder and does the same to Christian and Kane. The Irishman tries to go up but Kofi kicks him down.
Kingston tries for a climb but Henry is back again and shoves down the ladder. In an AWESOME spot, Henry holds the ladder to set it in place and Kofi runs up, only to be dropped down and hit with a World’s Strongest Slam onto the ladder. MVP slides a ladder into the standing one to make a kind of platform. Shelton slides under the ladder and kicks MVP in the ribs. MVP comes back with a kind of powerbomb on Benjamin but Punk stops the climb.
Now it’s Christian and Punk with Punk on the ladder and Christian on the platform. Now they’re both on the same side of the ladder and Christian hits the Killswitch off the ladder. By hits I mean Christian drops him in midair and Punk’s head never came within three feet of the mat but you do what you can I guess. MVP climbs up but Shelton climbs a ladder on the floor to get to the platform to get to the ladder for a sunset bomb to MVP. By sunset bomb, I mean he doesn’t get MVP over and basically pulls MVP’s face down the ladder. That’s two big blown spots in a row.
MVP is up first and pounds on Shelton before being powerbombed over the top rope and down onto a few guys. His head looked to smack against the barricade in a scary spot. Shelton and Finlay are on the ladder now and Finlay is knocked onto the ladder platform. Christian takes Shelton down and pounds away until Shelton takes the platform apart.
Shelton and Christian are both standing on two ladders but Christian shoves Shelton to the floor. Punk however springboards onto the ladders but gets caught upside down in a ladder, which is what Punk did to Christian to win last year. Kane stops Christian and chokeshoves him down to the mat. Punk pops up and kicks Kane down to win his second straight MITB.
Rating: B-. The blown spots REALLY bring this down because they were some terribly blown spots. Punk winning is fine as it was eventually the catalyst for his heel turn but that wouldn’t be for about six months. The match was good and having some fresh blood with Kofi out there helped, but the match overall was a letdown compared to other years, as the problem becomes “how do you top the other stuff?”. Still good though.
Video on WWE taking over Houston for the week.
Now we get to the part of this show which makes fans’ heads hurt: a TWELVE MINUTE Kid Rock song medley. Keep in mind that a unification match for the two sets of tag titles was on the preshow and ran about 9 minutes. THAT can’t make Wrestlemania but this nonsense can. This is to set up the Miss Wrestlemania battle royal.
Miss Wrestlemania: Divas Battle Royal
Melina, Beth Phoenix, Santina Marella, Victoria, Brie Bella, Eve Torres, Gail Kim, Jackie Gayda, Tiffany, Sunny, Rosa Mendes, Nikki Bella, Jillian Hall, Joy Giovanni, Katie Lea Burchill, Kelly Kelly, Layla, Maria, Maryse, Michelle McCool, Mickie James, Molly Holly, Natalya, Alicia Fox, Rosa Mendes, Torrie Wilson
The medley contains the entrances for all 25 girls, none of whom get entrances or even introductions, so the fans have no idea who all is in this thing for the most part. Justin Roberts is reading the rules and people are already being eliminated. Not that we’re told WHO THEY ARE or anything but whatever. Oh and you can go through the ropes too. Cole: “You can get a look at all the entrants in this on WWE.com!” Yeah, that’s the only way to see them because KID ROCK had to eat up all their time.
Sunny, Torrie, Layla and Rosa are out for sure but the rest of them aren’t even mentioned. Gail and Jillian eliminate each other as Beth eliminates Tiffany and some other chick not mentioned. Molly and Kelly are put out as is Maryse. Beth dumps both Bellas and the only Divas left are Michelle, Mickie, Melina and Beth. Mickie and Michelle eliminate each other but Santina eliminates the other two. It’s Santino in drag if that wasn’t clear. Yeah, THIS is your payoff for bringing back all those famous chicks. This led to months of STUPID jokes and skits about them being brother and sister or something. No rating but this was awful.
Beth is ticked off, which led to months of stupid fights between the two of them. Santina dances post match.
We recap Jericho vs. Piper/Snuka/Steamboat which is built around the Mickey Rourke movie The Wrestler. The idea is that Jericho insulted Rourke and the movie because it’s not the same as getting in the ring. Rourke said he’d fight at Mania then backpedaled. We then had Jericho insult Snuka, Piper and Steamboat for sticking around too long. Flair was insulted as well but since Flair can’t wrestle anymore, Jericho beat up and challenged the other legends to a match here tonight.
Rourke is at ringside.
Chris Jericho vs. Roddy Piper/Jimmy Snuka/Ricky Steamboat
Flair is here to support his fellow old people. If I had to guess, I’d say he’s somewhere between smashed and alcohol poisoning. Jericho has to beat all three legends to win so he starts with Piper. Roddy looks bad but considering less than two years earlier he was diagnosed with lymphoma, this is pretty impressive.
Piper fires away to start and takes it to the mat before hooking a quick sunset flip for two. A kind of dropkick puts Chris down and Roddy pounds away in the corner. Jimmy comes in and the match turns into slow motion. To be fair he’s about 65 here. Ricky comes in and starts cranking on the arm as you would expect him to. Back to Jimmy for a double chop although only Ricky’s actually hits. Out of nowhere Jericho puts on the Walls for the elimination.
Piper comes back in and works over the ribs before throwing on the sleeper. It only lasts for a few seconds though before Jericho rams him into the top rope and gets the elimination via a running enziguri. This leaves Steamboat vs. Jericho with the Dragon coming in with the top rope cross body for a VERY close near fall. A snapmare puts Ricky down and jericho kicks him in the back before putting on a chinlock. In the STUPID part of the show, Jericho throws Steamboat over the ropes for him to skin the cat, but LET’S LOOK AT FLAIR INSTEAD!
Jericho gets backdropped over the top to the floor and IT’S A FLYING OLD MAN to take Jericho down again. Back in and a top rope chop has Jericho reeling. Steamboat jumps over Chris out of the corner and gets a rollup for two. Jericho finally hits the bulldog but the Lionsault misses. Ricky grabs a powerslam out of nowhere for two but gets caught in the Walls. Steamboat reverses THAT into a small package for the hottest two count you’ll see in years. If that’s not enough, Steamboat backflips out of a belly to back suplex, only to walk into the Codebreaker to let Jericho survive.
Rating: B-. WOW Steamboat had me going here and I knew what the ending was. Steamboat was 56 years old here and hadn’t wrestled regularly in FIFTEEN YEARS and just had the crowd actually believing he could beat Jericho five months after he lost the world title. That’s ASTONISHING and would lead to a one on one match between these two at Backlash. Snuka and Piper were there for one last hurrah but Steamboat was trying to steal the show and came pretty freaking close. This is a great example of a match with NO reason to be good which wound up being pretty sweet.
Post match Flair comes in but gets beaten down too. Jericho taunts Rourke (a real life former pro boxer) and gets punched out. This somehow took five minutes.
We recap Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy. The idea is that stuff had started happening to Jeff such as pyro nearly blinding him, someone trying to run him off the road, and BURNING HIS HOUSE DOWN. At Royal Rumble, Matt revealed that it was him behind it because he was jealous of Jeff’s success. Naturally, no charges were ever filed or anything like that, because why do that when you can have an extreme rules match here instead?
Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy
Matt now has regular tights instead of the cargo jeans. Jeff takes him down and pounds away to start before heading to the floor. A hard poster to the head doesn’t do much to Matt, presumably BECAUSE IT WAS A POSTER. The steps work a bit better and there’s Poetry in Motion against the barricade to crush Matt. Back in and Poetry in Motion hits the corner instead of Matt and the Whisper in the Wind only hits chair.
Matt chokes away on the ropes and punches away at Jeff’s head. The Side Effect onto a chair gets two so Matt bends Jeff’s back around the post. It’s table time but Jeff fights off a suplex through said table and hits a running clothesline off the apron. Jeff busts out a kendo stick and a crutch to beat on Matt’s back before putting a trashcan over Matt’s head for the slingshot dropkick for two.
There goes Jeff’s shirt but the Swanton completely misses. The Twist of Fate gets two for Matt and he’s getting frustrated. Matt calls for a Swanton but gets caught in a superplex instead for no cover. There’s a BIG chair shot to Matt’s head which sends him to the floor. Jeff lays Matt on the table before putting another table on top of that table. There’s a HUGE splash through both tables along with Matt to leave everyone laying.
Back in and that only gets two, and now it’s time for the ladders required by a Hardys match. A legdrop keeps Matt down and the ladder is set up. Make that two ladders with one being bigger than the other. Jeff climbs the small ladder and jumps over the tall ladder, only to miss his big legdrop. Matt puts Jeff’s neck in the chair for a Twist of Fate to finally end this.
Rating: B. This was a solid brawl but it would all go downhill from here. Their feud didn’t ever quite work for the most part because the audience wasn’t all that interested and Matt didn’t work as a top heel. As for this match though, they beat the tar out of each other and Matt looked violent and evil. Unfortunately he couldn’t back that up for the most part.
Orton is ready for the main event.
Intercontinental Title: Rey Mysterio vs. John Bradshaw Layfield
Rey is challenging. JBL goes on a rant about how much Texas sucks and how they’ve lost their backbone. After this match is over, JBL is bailing on Texas and heading back to New York where he loves to be. Rey is the Joker from Dark Knight this year. They actually do big match intros here which isn’t something you see for a midcard title match. The referee reads them the rules and JBL kicks Rey in the head. Now the bell rings and Rey hits an enziguri, the 619 and a top rope splash for the pin and the title in about 20 seconds.
Post match JBL says he quits, which is his actual retirement as he’s never wrestled since.
We recap Shawn vs. Undertaker. Shawn freed himself from JBL at No Way Out and realized he needed a new challenge. What better for Mr. Wrestlemania to do than challenge the Streak? Shawn read passages from the Bible about separating light from darkness to show the differences between the two of them. Do you need more of a buildup than that?
Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
Shawn comes down from the top of the set all in white, Undertaker comes through the stage in black. Now THAT is an entrance. Feeling out process to start with Shawn circling around Taker and sticking with a few jabs here and there. Michaels pounds away in the corner and hits a hard chop but taker catches an incoming right hand. Taker LAUNCHES him into the corner and nearly out to the floor, only for Shawn to jump off the top and over Undertaker to get away.
Shawn might have hurt his knee but he’s channeling his inner Bret by goldbricking. Taker will have none of that and throws Shawn into the corner for more punishment. Michaels comes back with chops in the corner but gets backdropped down to stop the momentum. Taker drives some shoulder into Shawn but Shawn takes him down with a clothesline. The reverse Figure Four (called a regular one by that idiot Michael Cole) has Taker in trouble but he finally slugs his way out of it.
Taker pounds way in the corner but has to stop to shake life back into his leg. Snake eyes and the big boot put Shawn down and a legdrop gets two (brother). A chokeslam is countered into the Crossface by Shawn but Taker rolls over onto his side to block a lot of the pressure. After an attempted rollup by Undertaker, Shawn cranks on the hold a bit more, only to have Taker fight up and hit a big side slam for two. Back up and they slug it out with Shawn taking over via a flying forearm.
There’s the nipup but Shawn doesn’t tune up the band. Instead it’s a pair of atomic drops and a clothesline but as Shawn goes up, he jumps into the chokeslam. He escapes THAT and tries the superkick but is too far away, meaning the kick only hits Taker’s chest. It puts Taker down so Shawn tries the Figure Four but Taker counters into Hell’s Gate. Shawn flails around and gets a foot on the rope for a fast break but he’s clearly staggered.
We head to the floor for a bit but Taker misses the apron legdrop. A baseball slide keeps Taker on the floor but as Shawn tries the moonsault to the floor, Taker moves and Shawn CRASHES onto the concrete. Back inside and Taker sits up and busts out the Taker Dive, only to overrotate and CRASH in a terrifying landing. Shawn thankfully pulled a cameraman in the way to block some of the impact but this scared me to death live.
Shawn tells the referee to count in a kind of mid-match heel turn but Taker makes it back in at nine. Another superkick attempt is ducked and a HUGE chokeslam gets an insanely close two. The fans are getting way into these near falls now. The Tombstone is countered, the superkick is blocked, the chokeslam is escaped and NOW the superkick hits for a very delayed two count. Shawn is up now and looks all ticked off.
Taker grabs him by the throat but the Last Ride is countered into a sunset flip bid, but THAT is countered into the biggest Last Ride ever for two. Watching this match for probably the fourth time I actually thought that was the finish. Think about that for a minute. Taker goes up top and misses a top rope elbow but as Shawn tries to skin the cat, Undertaker catches him in the Tombstone. He sticks the tongue out but THAT gets two, I believe making Shawn either the first or second guy ever to kick out of all three of Taker’s finishers.
Taker nearly collapses from the shock and has a look on his face saying he has no idea where to go now. Shawn spins out of a Tombstone bid into a DDT and both guys are down. Michaels slowly crawls to the top and drops the elbow for no cover. Instead he tunes up the band again and the fans are all over him as a result. The kick hits clean and Shawn covers almost immediately but it only gets two. These kickouts are getting better and better each time.
They fight up from their knees and use each other to pull themselves up before slugging it out with everything they’ve got. A big boot puts Shawn down but Taker charges into a boot in the corner to put him down. Shawn climbs up top and tries a moonsault press, but Taker somehow catches him in mid air for another Tombstone to make him 16-0, and that’s your match of the year.
Rating: A+. Masterpiece, excellent, classic, best match they’ve ever had, best match of all time candidate etc. Pick one, as they’re all appropriate. This is one of the only matches ever where I’ve been on the edge of my seat the entire time and lost my mind on the kickouts. Absolutely outstanding here and one of the best matches I’ve ever seen, and that covers quite a bit of ground.
Now what gets to follow that?
We recap Edge vs. Big Show vs. Cena for the Raw Title. Edge switched brands at No Way Out after losing the WWE Title and won the World Title in the other Chamber match, because the titles are interchangeable props which you can pass around like this for no apparent reason. Edge’s wife Vickie was blackmailed into putting Cena into a triple threat match because Cena had video of Show and Vickie having an affair. This is basically a glorified handicap match.
Raw World Title: Edge vs. Big Show vs. John Cena
Edge is defending and Vickie is STILL in the wheelchair. Cena’s big entrance this year: an army of probably 60 guys dressed in Cena gear make a tunnel for the real Cena to run through, complete with the old Word Life theme song. Cena fights off both guys but the numbers catch up with him, allowing the heels to take him down. Edge is knocked to the floor and it’s back to Cena who gets beaten down by the monster.
Show goes outside to get Edge but the champion dropkicks the steps into Show’s knees, allowing Cena to hit the top rope Fameasser to drive Show’s face into the floor. Back in and Cena tries a quick AA, only to be countered into the Edgecution for two. Show comes back in with a side slam for two on John but Cena comes back with right hands. When those don’t do much he tries to hit the ropes but Vickie’s nephew Chavo pulls him to the floor. That earns him an AA and we head back inside where John knocks Show into the ropes to tie him up. Show: “GET ME OUT OF HERE!”
Cena beats down Edge and now has a free shot at Big Show. Instead he hits the Shuffle on Edge which is actually pretty smart when you think about it. Here comes the AA but Vickie gets on the apron. Cena drops Edge but avoids a spear, sending Edge into Vickie. The distraction lets Cena roll Edge up for two but a collision puts both guys down. Show gets loose and beats up both other guys including hitting a splash to both guys in the same corner.
Cena escapes a double chokeslam but can’t get the AA. Instead Show hits him with the WMD but instead of, I don’t know, COVERING, he goes to the floor after Edge. Edge counters a chokeslam into a DDT on the floor and all three guys are down. The champion crawls over to the steps and sets them right next to Show. With a running start, Edge uses the steps as a springboard and dives at Show, sending both of them through the barricade and into the crowd.
Back in and Edge gets two on Cena but the spear is countered into the STF. John pulls it back to the center of the ring but Big Show breaks it up by grabbing Cena’s throat. A Vader Bomb elbow misses Edge and everyone is down again. In a rare sight, Edge and Cena team up to suplex Show down and then clothesline him to the floor.
The Throwback puts Edge down but as Cena goes up, Show shoves him off and into a spear from Edge for two. Everyone is inside again and Show charges into a boot from Edge. The champion tries a sleeper on Show, so in the HOW DID HE DO THAT spot of the year, Cena AA’s BOTH OF THEM AT THE SAME TIME. Edge slides off and Show takes the full brunt. Cena hits an AA on Edge onto Big Show and pins the giant for the title.
Rating: B-. Fine but it’s another meaningless title change in a year which would be full of such things. Edge would get the title back at Backlash to make sure that these title reigns are as forgettable as possible and give us Cena vs. Big Show for about the ninth time. The match was just ok for the most part until the eye popping finish.
Wrestlemania 26 is in Phoenix.
Now we get the Hall of Fame class: Terry and Dory Funk, Howard Finkel, Koko B. Ware, the Von Erichs and Ricky Steamboat. Oh and Steve Austin. Yeah him too. He takes off his suit and rides his ATV around ringside for one last moment.
This brings us to the main event of HHH vs. Orton. This was basically a continuation of Orton vs. the McMahons with HHH being the big soldier to fight in the war. Vince and Shane had already been taken out and Orton won the Rumble to get us here. With HHH firmly in his sights (again), Orton went on the attack.
One night on Raw, HHH was knocked into the ropes and tied up as Stephanie came down. Orton gave Stephanie the Elevated DDT before kissing her on the lips, further enraging HHH. At one point in the rivalry, HHH broke into Orton’s house and threw him through a window. Orton decided to fight HHH at Wrestlemania instead of pressing charges. The stage was perfectly set for the great beat down by HHH, allowing him to let out all of his aggression and rage on Orton.
While not the greatest story in the world, at least there was a solid idea and we should get a solid brawl out of things. There’s nothing wrong with a good old fashioned beating of a hated rival is there? Well apparently WWE saw something wrong with it, because there was a stipulation added: if HHH gets countered out or more importantly disqualified, he loses the WWE Title. Upon hearing this, everyone collectively said HUH?
This stipulation made no sense. The whole point of the match was to see HHH beat the stuffing out of Orton once and for all. What possible good could there be to make it a match where HHH had to keep calm and play by the rules? For some reason, this is what we got at Wrestlemania XXV.
HHH(c) vs. Randy Orton
HHH has a cool entrance here as he swings his hammer at the camera, only to reveal that it’s a big mirror that he shatters. They stare at each other for a bit before HHH takes Orton down and pounds away. The champion stomps on Orton in the corner and is threatened with a DQ, showing us how stupid this gimmick is. With HHH yelling at the referee, Orton grabs an RKO out of nowhere a minute and five seconds in. The Punt misses and there’s the Pedigree but HHH can’t follow up.
Orton is sent to the floor and rammed into the announce table before heading back in for more right hands. HHH catapults Orton throat first into the bottom rope before dropping some knees on the head. Randy heads back to the floor and counters a whip to send HHH into the steps. HHH gets whipped into the timekeeper’s table which apparently hurt his shoulder. Orton tries to get the countout to get the title but the Game is back in at nine.
Randy drops some knees and kicks to the ribs and it’s off to the chinlock. Back up after a few moments in the hold and HHH punches his way out of the corner. The jumping knee to Orton’s face puts him down and there’s the facebuster for good measure. The Pedigree is countered into a catapult though, sending HHH face first into the buckle. Not that it really matters though as a clothesline puts Orton down for two as the slow pace finally picks up a bit.
HHH gets shoved off the top but Orton dives off the top into a boot. A rollup gets two for the champion and they slug it out some more. The spinebuster puts Randy down but the Pedigree is countered into Orton’s backbreaker for two. HHH gets in another clothesline and goes up for some reason, only to jump into a dropkick. A kick to HHH’s ribs is caught and Orton is flipped over the top and out to the floor. They head over to the announce table and HHH picks up a monitor but drops it for fear of losing the title.
The champion tries a Pedigree on the announce table, only to be backdropped down onto the table which doesn’t break. With HHH still on the table, Orton hits the Elevated DDT to drive HHH head first into the floor. HHH still manages to get back in at 9 so Orton stomps away even more. Randy stomps away in the corner and chokes away as this is dragging again. HHH comes back but Orton throws HHH into the referee. There’s the RKO but the referee is down.
With no referee, Orton goes to the floor and gets a sledgehammer, but as he gets back inside HHH punts him in the head. A shot to the head with the sledgehammer puts Orton down and HHH pounds away. Orton is out cold so HHH hits another Pedigree for good measure and retains the title.
Rating: D. Erg that was awful. This was the same problem they had with the Cena vs. HHH match from a few years ago, where it felt like they were trying for something epic that told a story but it didn’t work at all. Instead it was these two punching and kicking a lot while having to stop because they might get disqualified. This didn’t work at all because the match didn’t fit the buildup, which was only decent in the first place.
HHH stands over Orton’s body like a viking standing over a big kill to end the show.
Overall Rating: B-. There’s a lot to say here. First and foremost, this show is WAY better than I remember it with only two bad matches the whole way through. Unfortunately, the first of those two matches is after a nearly fifteen minute concert which no one wanted to see. The other match though is the main event which counting recap, entrances and post match stuff is nearly 40 minutes. That match is like a sledgehammer to the knees of this show and is easily one of the worst main events in Mania history.
On the other hand, the rest of the show is shockingly good, but it falls short of what it could have been in places. MITB is probably the worst yet but still solid, the Legends match was good but had absolutely no right to be, the Hardy match was good but nothing more, and the triple threat was about the same. The problem here is that one match is all anyone really remembers from this show other than a few individual moments. The memory of the main event hurts this thing a lot as it’s the only thing people remember other than the Streak match. Much better show than I remember, but it’s no classic.
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