Reviews

WWE WrestleMania 26 Review

wwe wrestlemania 26 poster

The 26th edition of WrestleMania centered around The Undertaker’s undefeated streak once more and also on the career of the great Shawn Michaels aka Mr. WrestleMania.

The rematch of their classic from the year before would be the main event of this show. However, the stipulations were greater because if Michaels lost he would have to retire for good. It was a bittersweet moment for me because Michaels is my favorite wrestler ever. On the one hand, I would be sad knowing this was going to be his last match. On the other hand, I was happy that he was able to retire while being relatively healthy and doing it on the grandest stage of them all in what would likely be a classic.

I wrote this one live in 2010, so if you were reading my work back then you could have read this already. The match write-ups are a mix of play by play and my live commentary. I’ve added some additional thoughts in blue font as well.

WWE WrestleMania XXVI
March 28, 2010
University of Phoenix Stadium in Phoenix, Arizona

The singer Fantasia sang America The Beautiful. The video package started up.

The set looks amazing. The announcers are Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker. I like that Striker’s there, but I miss Jim Ross already. Tag titles up first.

Unified Tag Titles: The Miz & Big Show vs. John Morrison & R-Truth

Cole noted that the tag titles hadn’t changed hands at WrestleMania in nine years. It won’t happen again. The crowd’s pretty hot early from what I can tell. They really loved the offense of Morrison. Tide turned when Morrison missed Starship Pain, so Showmiz worked him over for a while. Big Show made the blind tag and then KNOCKED THE FUCK OUT~! of Morrison as John was going for the Flying Chuck kick. Show covered for the win at 3:20. Yep, that’s it.

Winners by pinfall: The Miz & Big Show

Analysis: *1/2 Too short to be anything more than that. I was thinking maybe ten minutes, but they didn’t even get half that. I guess that young talent Big Show needed a big push.

(That’s a very short match to open the show. The Miz went from a boring match at this show to the WrestleMania main event one year later. Granted, that main event match was awful, but it was still the main event.)

They showed a video package showcasing WM events at Axxess. Shoutout to my man Ed Eastin for rocking a TJR shirt to the event. That video was nearly as long as the opening match.

Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Ted Dibiase

Orton got a huge pop on his entrance. Rhodes is wearing white boots with red trunks while Dibiase has blue trunks with black boots. I love how the announcers talk about how they treated Orton poorly like Orton was a saint or something. I guess short memories are a requirement. As expected the heels double-teamed Orton for the early portion of it. Rhodes hit the Alabama Slam for two with Dibiase breaking it up. Very predictable booking. Orton made his comeback and gave them a dueling DDT off the middle rope. The crowd popped huge for that. Great spot. Realistic? Probably not, but it worked. The crowd went nuts. Huge “RKO” chants for Orton as he was staring at Rhodes in the ring. Instead of the RKO, Orton went into the corner to punt Rhodes. For whatever reason the camera missed it as it was on Dibiase on the floor. Dibiase came back in the ring, went for Dream Street and it was countered into an RKO for Orton, who pinned Ted. Match went about 9 minutes.

Winner by pinfall: Randy Orton

Analysis: **1/2 A decent match although nobody believed Rhodes or Dibiase was going to win. The crowd was into it when Orton made his comeback, so that was a good sign for his face turn. He was a new babyface at this point. Two years later he’s still in the role. Two years ago I think most people would have thought Dibiase would have received a bigger push than Rhodes. As it has turned out, Rhodes has proven to be the better of the two.

(I remember the original plans for this feud were for Dibiase to turn face out of the group, but WWE changed it because fans were cheering more for Orton during the breakup tease angles, so Orton was the face. I think it was the right call. Orton winning here wasn’t much of a surprise.)

Backstage, Vickie Guerrero and the heel divas cut a promo that included Jillian Hall singing. Santino showed up, plugged Slim Jims and we got some guest appearances from Gene Okerlund, Mae Young and Melina.

It was Money in the Bank time. Here are the order of entrants for this match: Kofi Kingston was up first, Montel Vontavious Porter entered for his third MITB match, Evan Bourne was making his MITB debut, Jack Swagger was next in his first MITB match, Shelton Benjamin entered for his fifth MITB match, Matt Hardy was next, Dolph Ziggler was a part back in the “I am Perfection” theme song days, Drew McIntyre was the Intercontinental Champion that was also part of the match, Kane was the oldest guy in the match that had a huge black eye around his right eye and Christian was the final man to enter the match. It was Christian’s third MITB and fifth ladder match at WrestleMania.

Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Kofi Kingston, Jack Swagger, Matt Hardy, Drew McIntyre, Kane, Shelton Benjamin, Dolph Ziggler, Evan Bourne, MVP and Christian

Kane cleaned house with punches. McIntyre knocked down Kane with a boot to the face. McIntyre set up a ladder, Hardy pushed it over, knee to the face by Bourne to Drew and Matt hit a Twist of Fate. MVP with a running boot that knocked Drew over the top to the floor. Multiple guys tried to climb up, but there was no way that was happening because there were so many of them. Kane picked up Bourne and tossed him onto the guys on the floor. Kingston used a ladder to knock Hardy and Swagger off the vertical ladder. Christian gave Kingston a monkey flip into a ladder that was against the turnbuckle. Ziggler climbed up the ladder and hit a Zig Zag on Christian. That was cool. Ziggler went up for a climb, MVP pulled him down and Kane went after MVP. Kingston, Benjamin and MVP drove a ladder to the ribs of Kane. When Kofi went for an attack by the turnbuckle, Kane gave Kingston a Powerbomb onto a ladder. That was a rough landing. Paydirt by Benjamin on MVP. Benjamin kicked a ladder that he knocked out of Drew’s hands. Swagger hit Benjamin, Kane and MVP with a ladder. Bourne went up top with a knee attack on Swagger that didn’t really come close to connecting, but Swagger sold it anyway. Christian and Hardy jabbed Swagger in the ribs with ladders. That lead to Christian, Hardy and Bourne all climbing at the same time, but Swagger tripped up Hardy. Bourne kicked Christian to knock him down. Bourne hit the Air Bourne SSP onto Christian. Hardy was up top with Bourne and Hardy gave him a hip toss off the top of a ladder. Ouch. Swagger shoved Hardy off the top of the ladder leading to a back bump onto a ladder bridge that was set up. That one looked painful too. Benjamin and MVP battled on the ladder with Benjamin hitting a headscissors that sent both guys over the top to the floor.

There was nobody in the ring. Kane picked up a ladder and knocked down MVP and Benjamin on the floor. Ziggler climbed over Kane on the ladder and Kane shoved the ladder over leading to Ziggler bumping into the ropes. Kane gave Ziggler a Chokeslam on a ladder in the ring. Kane rammed the side of the ladder repeatedly into Ziggler’s face. Kingston hit Kane with a Trouble in Paradise kick. A ladder was broken in half, so Kingston used the split ladders as if they were a pair of stilts. The announcers thought it was great and the crowd cheered, but it’s not like Kingston got that close. McIntyre sent Kingston over the top to the floor. McIntyre set up the ladder, he climbed up, got his hand on the briefcase and Hardy went up the other side of the ladder to stop him. Hardy shoved the ladder over leading to Drew landing crotch first on the top rope. He took that bump well. Hardy came close to getting the briefcase, Christian was on another ladder nearby and Kane went up there with both guys. Kane was knocked down by Christian and Hardy. Christian gave Hardy a reverse DDT off the top of the ladder. Cole called it a Twist of Fate, but it was not that. Christian climbed up the ladder, got his hand on the briefcase, but Swagger was there to stop him. Swagger hit Christian in the head with the briefcase. Swagger unhooked the briefcase and he won the match at 13:40.

Winner: Jack Swagger
Analysis: ***1/2 It was a pretty good Money in the Bank ladder match with plenty of cool moments and it was a surprise winner. Swagger wasn’t pushed that much going into the match, so when he won, it was a genuine shock. I liked the cool moments from Bourne and Kingston. Benjamin had a few high spots, but not as much as in the other years. Kane did well as the power guy. Mark Henry was involved early and then he seemed to disappear in the second half of the match. Christian and Matt Hardy felt like the stars of the match as the ladder match veterans that nearly came close to winning a few times. I liked the finishing sequence with Swagger hitting Christian in the head with the briefcase to knock him down. I thought the match could have gone longer. With 10 guys in there, they could have gone another four or five minutes and had some more interesting near-win moments.

They showed clips from the Hall of Fame. I still think it’s a joke that Stu Hart’s segment wasn’t even shown on TV. They showed Uecker’s clips because of his jokes. I’d rather see more of Bret Hart’s speech. I guess that’s what the DVD is for. Also, props to Ted Dibiase for his speech. He’s a very gifted speaker.

They showed the Hall of Fame class on the stage. You have to love the faces of Mad Dog Vachon. This is definitely the weakest Hall of Fame class since they brought it back. The full class was Ted Dibiase, Stu Hart, Antonio Inoki, Wendi Richter, Mad Dog Vachon, Bob Uecker and Gorgeous George.

A video package aired for Triple H’s match against Sheamus. They even had clips of Ultimate Warrior at WM12 in 1996. I love how they keep saying Sheamus had the best first year in WWE history. No he didn’t. It was Angle or Lesnar. Easily. Of course, they can’t mention either of them. Got to love WWE’s revisionist history, right? Sheamus came out first with Triple H out second. No glowsticks. Only a water bottle. The 14th WrestleMania for HHH. The only one he missed since starting in WWE was WM23 when he had the torn quad (the second one).

(The revisionist history existed in 2010 because they weren’t going to put over Brock Lesnar or Kurt Angle at that point. Both of them did have better “rookie” years than Sheamus, but Sheamus did get a massive push in his first year as well.)

Triple H vs. Sheamus

Triple H busted out the figure four and they even mentioned Ric Flair’s name. I’m sure Dixie Carter will consider that promotion for TNA. Why is Striker calling HHH the “Ace of Spades?” He doesn’t have enough nicknames already? Triple H looks extra tanned here. I guess they wanted to accentuate the color disparity between the two. With Sheamus on offense the crowd was pretty dead, but they are a good crowd that woke up when HHH had his minor comebacks. They worked a power match which, like I said, was dead when Sheamus was on offense. All of HHH’s offense worked well. Some guy in the crowd yelled “Facebuster” and he hit it at that moment because it followed the running high knee. Triple H kept going for the Pedigree, but Sheamus powered out. Ten minutes in, Sheamus hit the pump kick. The cover got two. Great nearfall. Even a “Triple H” chant started up. This crowd’s going to be very hot for the big matches if they’re this hot right now. Why is it a shock that Sheamus kicked out of the Spinebuster when HHH never pins anybody with that? I hate stupid commentating. Nice pump kick on the apron by Sheamus. Sheamus picked him up, HHH looked like dead weight and then hit the Pedigree OUT OF NOWHERE~! That’s it at the 12:09 mark.

Winner by pinfall: Triple H

Analysis: **1/2 Lawler called it a “classic” even though it clearly wasn’t. That finish did come out of nowhere, so I’m not making fun of it. I liked it. They built it up where the first guy to hit their finisher was going to win and it ended up being HHH. The ovation for HHH was awesome, I have to say. I remember a lot of people online were mad that Hunter went over. I didn’t mind. I could sense the rematch coming and in that rematch, Sheamus not only beat Hunter but took him out for many months. This feud was pretty much the end of Hunter’s run as a full time performer.

(As I alluded to in the analysis, there were people upset that Triple H should win because they wanted the younger guy to win. The feud continued and Sheamus got the win, but it does mean more if somebody wins at WrestleMania. It was just an average match.)

Awesome video package for Punk/Mysterio. Punk’s out first with Gallows and Serena. Have to say Serena looks nice in a leather jacket (it has the SES logo on the back) and white pants. Punk cut a promo saying there are 70,000 people throwing their life away. So nobody’s Straight Edge there except him apparently? “I choose to be drug-free. I choose to be better than each and every single one of you.” Nice “CM Drunk” sign in the crowd. Punk ended it with this line: “One Nation under Punk indivisible with integrity and sobriety for all.” Great promo. If you’re into ring gear, Mysterio’s wearing an Avatar-like outfit. The story is if Rey loses he has to join the Straight Edge Society.

CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio

I thought the ponytail on the mask was only for show, but Rey’s wrestling with it on. These two really have great chemistry. Mysterio’s matches are always full of counter moves and this was no exception. Mysterio went for an Eddie Guerrero like Frog Splash…and it misses! That would have been cool to see. The heels interfered. Go to Sleep countered by Mysterio into a headscissors. Wow that was amazing from Rey. Punk went flying into Gallows’ gut, then he took a 619 and Rey finished him off with the springboard splash. It only went 6:30. That’s it?

Winner: Rey Mysterio

Analysis: ** This was my hope for a show-stealing match, but it was way too short for it to steal the show. The chemistry was there. The crowd was hot. Nope. Mysterio had another WrestleMania match that was booked to be over way too soon. They would end up having two great matches at the Extreme Rules and Over The Limit PPVs that made this one of the better feuds of 2010, but at a show like WM they should have had a chance to do more.

(Their PPV matches that followed this were a lot better. I still don’t know why this match was so short. They should have got way more time.)

Vince vs. Bret video package. Well done like usual. He’s working in a Hart t-shirt and jean shorts. They close in on a fan sign that says “Brett Beat Vince.” People don’t know that it’s spelled Bret after all these years? Come on fan! Bret Hart’s pop was nice. Vince came out to cut a promo saying there’ll be lumberjacks as well as a special referee. The lumberjacks are the Hart Dynasty as well as other members of the Hart family. Cole’s going nuts about it saying it’s disgusting while Striker wondered if Vince paid the Hart family to screw Bret.

No Holds Barred Match: Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon

The guest referee is Bruce Hart, who is wearing a referee shirt as well as shades. Bret cuts a promo saying he can’t believe they all agreed to this. He asked them if they got paid up front. They all nodded yes. He said the one thing he learned from Montreal is that there’s nothing sweeter than a double cross. They told him what they were trying to do, but they’re united. “Tonight, WrestleMania, it’s going to be forever remembered as the night that Bret Screwed Vince.” Bruce hugged Bret and they’re all with Bret now. So it was a swerve on top of the swerve.

They tossed Vince to the floor where all the lumberjacks beat him up. Natalya destroyed him with a slap to the face, which led to Striker wishing her the best in her future endeavors. That was funny. David Hart Smith held him up and Tyson Kidd came off the top rope with the Hart Attack clothesline. Cool spot. I’m happy that the Hart Dynasty is being used. Vince tried to crawl away under the ring and he came out with a crowbar. Hey Vince, call Shane! Oh wait, he quit your company. Bret beat on him with the crowbar (in the back) to the delight of everybody. As soon as Bret grabbed the legs the crowd went wild. Sharpshooter time. Nope. Not yet. More crowbar. The crowd’s having a tough time reacting to this because Vince has had no offense, so there’s no babyface comeback at all. It’s simply a beating. DH gave Bret a chair, so he destroyed Vince in the back with it. He hit him with about a dozen chair shots. None to the head, remember. That’s not allowed anymore, which is fine by me. After the chair beating, the Hart Family started beating on the ring and the crowd went nuts as Bret put on the Sharpshooter. Vince tapped right away. Match is over at 11:09.

Winner by submission: Bret Hart

Analysis: * That was what you’d call an 11-minute squash match. They were limited in what they could do because of Bret’s health issues. I don’t think Vince got any offense in. That’s fine, though, because this is what everybody wanted to see. They wanted to see Vince get destroyed. The crowd liked this although I thought they would love it even more than they did. It was hard considering that Vince had no offense due to Bret being unable to take bumps. The story was that after 13 years, Bret finally got his revenge on Vince.

(It was a happy moment for Bret and closure for him. If you want more of Bret’s thoughts on this, check out this clip from my friends at Inside the Ropes.)

They aired the promo for the Georgia Dome in Atlanta hosting WrestleMania 27 on April 3, 2011.

Announced attendance at this show: 72,219. A very impressive number.

The video package aired for the Jericho/Edge match. They were partners the year before. Edge tore his Achilles Tendon. Jericho ripped on him in promos, calling him weak and injury prone. Edge surprisingly returned at the Royal Rumble, won the match and then Jericho reclaimed the World Title at Elimination Chamber to set up this match. Great video package. Two of my favorites currently and all-time. That entrance ramp is so damn long. It’s a cool visual when they zoom up the ramp. Jericho came out first and Edge came out with the red tights this time.

World Heavyweight Title: Chris Jericho vs. Edge

They mentioned that combined they’ve held 55 titles. Each guy started in WWE over a decade ago. Striker said they travelled together before they got to WWE. Not really true because Jericho was in WCW when Edge was starting out. They are very good friends, though. That’s legit. I think they used to be neighbors in Florida. Yes, I’m full of information. Hey, a “Sexton Hardcastle” reference from Striker. That was Edge’s name in the indies, which is when I first saw Edge. The pace was very slow in the first five minutes, which is a sign that it’ll be a longer match. Nice front suplex off the top by Edge. Man, I mark out for the CROSSBODY~! that Edge just did. Old school move. I’m really liking Striker’s commentary for this match. Not surprising since he’s close friends with Edge, which you could see on the Edge DVD. Ten minutes Edge, “Spear” chant. He charges, but Jericho counters with a rollup leading into a Walls of Jericho. The crowd is going nuts as Edge got a nearfall cradle for two. Lionsault misses. Does it ever hit anymore? Edgeomatic gets two. Nice enziguri by Jericho for two. They really did a good job of trading moves. Nobody was in full control. Edge hit his old Edgecution DDT for two. Jericho took him down with a forearm and he set up Edge for the spear! He ran right into a hard kick to the head by Edge. The “spear” chant is definitely over with the fans. Edge charges in and Jericho hits the Codebreaker! Slow cover means a two count. The announcers are really putting over all the counters and nearfalls. Time to work on the left foot. Walls of Jericho time again. I wish he would put some STANK on it rather than the Boston Crab version. Oh, single leg crab on the injured leg! Nice! They went out to the floor. The ref got bumped inadvertently by Edge, Jericho got the belt and hit Edge without the ref seeing. Only two. Codebreaker by Jericho finishes him off at 15:45. Yes. I called it in the preview.

Winner by pinfall: Chris Jericho

Analysis: ***3/4 I really liked this match. They used counters, nearfalls and submissions to tease the finish. They did a great job of starting slow, picking up the pace and then finishing with a bang. I loved that Edge sold the leg injury while getting up to receive the Codebreaker. Very pleased with this one and I can’t wait for more.

(I think some people might have been upset about the result because Edge was the Royal Rumble winner and he was going after revenge against Jericho, who had talked shit about Edge for months while he was out with an injury. This is a good match between two of the best guys from this era or any era.)

Post match, Jericho went for an attack, but Edge was able to fight him off. He set him up on the announce table and cleared the others off. Jericho stood up, Edge charged in and he speared Jericho through the black barricade wall into the crowd. This gave Edge his momentum back and also sets up a rematch next month. They’re playing up that Jericho’s hurt. It made sense since the feud was built up on Jericho not getting hurt, so I can see a worked injury happening.

(My prediction at the time was that Jericho wins here with Edge likely scoring the win in the rematch at Extreme Rules. That’s what happened although Swagger cashed in the briefcase on Jericho, so Edge didn’t win the title from Jericho. He cost him the title, though, because the post match attack is what led to him softening up Jericho for Swagger. Good booking, I thought.)

They showed clips of the pre-show battle royal. It was won by Yoshi Tatsu. I guess that’s on the DVD.

(I had absolutely no memory of Yoshi Tatsu of all people winning the 26-man battle royal on the pre-show. That’s such a random name to win that kind of match.)

Diva Tag Match: Michelle McCool, Vickie Guerrero, Maryse, Alicia Fox & Layla vs. Beth Phoenix, Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Gail Kim & Eve

The heels come out to Michelle’s music. The faces come out to Eve’s music for some reason. I love how Vickie’s outfit says “Excuse Me” on it and she starts the match. The face divas all took turns beating on Vickie in the corner. Kelly’s outfit is great, I have to say. Of course I liked Mickie’s outfit too. It’s great to see her back after her injury. It’s finishing sequence time about a minute into the match. There were literally eight finishers in a row. Mickie’s DDT on Michelle was nice and Beth ended the sequence by hitting Alicia with her Glam Slam. The crowd is dead for all this. Michelle tossed Beth out of the ring. She helped Vickie to the top rope and she hit a “Hog Splash” as Cole called it. It was cool seeing her point to the sky at Eddie. It was not pretty, though. Kelly’s shoulder went up on the pin, so the ref had her do it again and Vickie pinned Kelly at 3:26.

Winners: Team Vickie

Analysis: 1/2* It was not much of a match. They were going into finishers about a minute in and the crowd was dead for it. It was cool to see Vickie saluting Eddie and some of the crowd did pick up on it even though she was a heel.

(A quick match that was consistent for the women’s division at the time. Getting only three minutes for a ten-woman tag is pretty bad.)

Cena vs. Batista is next. Long video package to start of course. After Cena won an Elimination Chamber match, Vince McMahon gave Batista (who was a heel after a long babyface run) a title shot when Cena was recovering from injuries. Batista won the WWE Title. The promos centered on how they were the top guys for many years, but Batista was mad that Cena got more publicity than him. I enjoyed heel Batista. His promos leading up to the match were a lot of fun. Batista gets the pyro and then the spotlight entrance. Cena gets his patented elaborate entrance this time with the US Air Force helping him out. That was pretty cool. Cena had the fastest entrance time on the night for sure since he sprinted down there. Hope he’s not winded.

WWE Title: Batista vs. John Cena

They’re pointing out how methodical this is, which is wrestling speak for this is going to be a longer match. Sloppy looking suplex by Cena. Wow, Batista countered the Attitude Adjustment with a DDT that looked nasty. Seven minutes into the match, they did the standing punch exchange where each guy is really tired and the crowd reacted to it. Too early for that spot, no? The story is that Batista’s working on Cena’s surgically repaired neck. By the ten minute mark, Batista was still on offense pretty much the entire time. Batista put him on the top rope and they had a test of strength up there. Cena shoved him off and hit the top rope Five Knuckle Shuffle. Lawler marked out for it like a 13-year-old. Batista Bomb and Cena kicks out. Well, now you know Batista’s not winning if he hits that at the 11 minute mark. They get back up and Cena hits the Attitude Adjustment. Now Batista kicks out. Cena goes up top, he leaps and Batista counters into a Spinebuster. Similar spot to their Summerslam 2008 match. Batista goes for the Batista Bomb again, but Cena counters into a rollup. STF time. Batista’s near the ropes, but he eventually taps out at 13:30.

Winner by submission and NEW WWE Champion: John Cena

Analysis: ***1/2 It was very good. They busted out the old Austin/Rock formula of kicking out of finishers at WrestleMania. The crowd was really into it and the last five minutes were very exciting even if you don’t like either guy. What bothered me was the title changed hands when it didn’t need to. Batista won the belt at Elimination Chamber, defended it successfully zero times on television and then it was on Cena again. I hate short title reigns. Props to the “Batista likes fish sticks” sign. South Park reference, people!

(Cena got screwed out of the title by Vince McMahon giving Batista a title shot at Elimination Chamber, so it was obvious that Cena was getting the title back. They were also two of the biggest stars in WWE over the previous five years and Batista was in full heel mode at this point, which is why WWE probably felt like it was a big match to do at WrestleMania. I liked it. Good match.)

I love how the commercial for Extreme Rules on April 25th features Batista about to destroy somebody with a chair shot to the head even though they’ve banned that spot.

Undertaker/Michaels video package time. I think in terms of video packages it’s in the top two or three videos ever along with the “My Way” one from Austin/Rock WM17 and the Kid Rock “History of the WWF” video. The story was that Michaels was obsessed with beating Undertaker at WrestleMania. He wanted one more shot. Undertaker didn’t want to give it to him, but Michaels cost Undertaker the World Title at Elimination Chamber and that led to Undertaker giving him one more try. There was a stipulation, though. If Michaels lost he had to retire. Because it’s so awesome, here’s the video package.

There was no elaborate Michaels entrance this year. He walks out first to a good pop, but I thought it would be louder to be honest. Maybe the crowd is tired? I don’t know. The Undertaker came out through the floor for his entrance. Screw you Gangrel and Rey Mysterio! How many people will throw a Gangrel reference in during Michaels/Taker? Me, that’s who. Cole mentioned that Undertaker’s defeated 10 former World Champions in his streak.

wwe wrestlemania 26 undertaker shawn michaels

The Streak vs. The Career: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

Epic staredown to start. Michaels did the Undertaker throat slash. Five minutes in, we got our first “vintage” of the match with the Undertaker’s legdrop. They’re working the story that Undertaker’s got a bad knee and had Michaels work on it with the figure four. The crowd is pretty quiet for a match like this. It’s been a long show, but if you pay as much as these paid you should be making more noise. Kip up by Michaels, Undertaker catches him, hits a chokeslam and it only gets two. Too early in the match for that. Undertaker went for the Tombstone, Michaels fought out and put him in the Ankle Lock. He drops down. The crowd is not reacting to this at all because nobody thinks it’s ending like this. And they’re right, of course. They worked their way out to the floor and Undertaker hit a Tombstone on the floor to a huge pop. Took a minute to roll Michaels in where he kicked out. Undertaker went for the Last Ride and Michaels was able to counter with what looked like HBK did an X-Factor to counter it by slamming his head into the mat. Michaels goes for the elbow and Undertaker puts up the knees to counter it. Great counter there.

Undertaker slaps on the Hell’s Gate only for Michaels to counter into a cover for two. That was a cool spot too. They both get up, Michaels separates and hits Sweet Chin Music! Only two. Yes, it earned an OUT OF NOWHERE~! from Cole. Crowd is waking up. Michaels went for another superkick, but Undertaker countered with a Last Ride. He hits it…for two! Now it’s time for some outside the ring spots, which is why they added the no DQ stips. He took the monitors off the Spanish announce table. Remember the days when fans chanted “Spanish Table! Spanish Table!” Michaels hit the Sweet Chin Music on the floor! Undertaker is laying on the announce table. Michaels crawls up the apron, climbs up to the top and he’s going for the moonsault. Wow! Moonsault off the top rope onto the table. The table broke and Michaels popped to his feet before falling down again! Killer spot.

Back in the ring, Michaels kicks him hard in the head with another Sweet Chin Music. That looked so perfect. Undertaker kicks out at two. That was one of the best superkicks I’ve ever seen. Another Sweet Chin Music is countered to a chokeslam. Tombstone by Undertaker hits. Covers him with the hands on the chest. One, two…no. That spot was similar to last year although it worked once again. Crowd is chanting “This is Awesome” and they are absolutely right. The Undertaker was about to do the cutthroat signal, but he stopped. He told Shawn to stay down, but HBK got back up, crawling up to his chest. He gives the cutthroat signal to Undertaker and then slaps him! Another Tombstone by Undertaker. That’s enough for the win at 23:59. That’s the end of Shawn Michaels’ career. The Undertaker is 18-0 at WrestleMania.

Winner by pinfall: The Undertaker

Analysis: ***** This was a fantastic match just like the year before. Five stars again. They really pulled out all the stops and told a great story. These are two of the best ever on the biggest stage delivering the goods like only they know how. I loved it. Their chemistry is phenomenal and they built to the finish perfectly. I think the match at WM25 told a different story in that it was a more balanced match. This one was even through a lot of it, but the inevitability of the loss was there too. Don’t get me wrong, of course we know Undertaker is going to win at WrestleMania, but there was less of a surprise factor in this one. Perhaps it’s because it was the rematch. Still, that pop for Michaels kicking out that Tombstone was enormous and Undertaker did a great job of selling it too, wishing that Shawn would just stop. The idea this time around was that Michaels wanted Undertaker to really beat him to earn the win and that’s what happened after Michaels told him to end it. They had the undisputed match of the year (in my opinion) two years in a row. At least they were smart enough to put it on last this time.

(I like the WM25 match more, but this one did live up to the incredible hype by delivering another five-star match. I thought they would do more wrestling outside of the ring because of the No DQ stip. All they really did was that insane moonsault off the top rope spot where Shawn went crashing through Undertaker on the table. The finishing sequence matched the year prior. It might have even topped it with all the kickouts they did. There was a lot of desperation on the part of Michaels, which helped fuel the story and made it an even more epic match. They had perfect chemistry. Even though it was face vs. face, they did such a good job of building up the importance of winning the match. I think any time there’s a big man vs. little man match it’s easier to tell a story because fans are going to be sympathetic to the shorter guy. In this case, both guys were beloved and fans cheered for each of them, but they were able to tell that big man/little man story well.)

Post match, after Undertaker posed in his purple light he picked Michaels up. They shook hands. They hugged eachother while trying to stay on their feet.

The final shot of the night was Michaels in the ring getting the standing ovation he deserves for being one of the best ever. I enjoyed that moment of seeing the crowd paying tribute to this man who spent his life entertaining us like few others could.

You could read Shawn’s lips saying: “Thank you for a wonderful life.” No Shawn. Thank you.

The show ended with Michaels walking up the ramp, applauding and waving goodbye.

This event had a runtime of 3:51:47 on WWE Network.

 

FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS

– What can you say about Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels? I like the WM25 match more, but this one did live up to the incredible hype. I thought they would do more wrestling outside of the ring because of the no DQ stip. All they really did was that insane moonsault off the top rope spot where Shawn went crashing through Undertaker on the table. The finishing sequence matched last year’s. It might have even topped it with all the kickouts they did. Simply put, these guys are two of the best ever on the big stage and their chemistry with one another is tremendous. I doubt any wrestler could have a better match for their retirement than what HBK did here.

– I had high hopes for this show. My thought was that if they gave enough time to all the top matches it would deliver the goods. It was hit and miss in terms of the timing of the matches. I’m greedy. I wanted more. For whatever reason, Vince McMahon hates giving Rey Mysterio a lot of time at WrestleMania. He didn’t have enough time against Eddie @ WM21, he didn’t have enough time when he won the title @ WM22 and he didn’t have enough time here as well.

– I liked the Jericho/Edge match although I wouldn’t call it a WrestleMania classic. They didn’t have either guy dominate the action. It was spot, counter, nearfall. It’s a formula that worked for them and we got a four star match out of it.

– The Batista/Cena match was a strong second match from the top. Nothing that will blow you away, but it was a passable match between two guys who don’t necessarily have great matches all the time. I’m still not a fan of the one month title reign of Batista that included zero title defenses. That feud isn’t over, though.

– The Bret/Vince match did what it was supposed to. A beating of Vince that ended in the Sharpshooter. If you expected more you were wrong. I did mark out a bit when Bret had him in the Sharpshooter. It was a cool moment.

 

OPINIONS

Best Match: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels – Two years in a row. Only time that’s ever happened.

Worst Match: Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon – The end was fun at least.

Most Memorable Moment: The Undertaker/Michaels hug at the end of the show – Two legends showing respect. Great moment.

 

Five Stars:

1. Shawn Michaels
2. The Undertaker
3. Chris Jericho
4. Edge
5. John Cena

Show rating (out of 10): 7.5

I liked this show more than the previous year. The right match went on last with another five star performance from Undertaker and Michaels while the major title matches were better than what we got the year before. The rest of the card featured good babyface wins from Orton, Hunter and Mysterio, which is what WrestleMania is usually about.

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That’s all for me. Check out the full list of my WWE PPV Review archive right here. Thanks for reading.

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John Canton

Email mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport