411’s Instant Access: WWE WrestleMania 25
Posted by Scott Slimmer on 04.05.2009
A transvestite, the Joker, and 10,000 John Cena clones made unexpected appearances, but in the end it was Shawn Michaels, the Undertaker, and eight guys with a bunch of ladders that saved an otherwise disappointing show.
Hey kids, I'm Scott, and this is 411's Instant Access: WWE WrestleMania 25. Instant Access is a new(ish) experiment here at 411 Wrestling that will feature immediate reaction to wrestling pay-per-views. The focus here is going to be on first thoughts and snap judgments instead of play-by-play with the goal of providing you with instant access to onetwothree FOUR writers' thoughts on the show. That's right, Instant Access will now feature multiple analysts for all WWE pay-per-views. Here's the team for the WrestleMania 25:
Okay kids, enough with the explanations. Let's get to the wrestling.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match Match Result: CM Punk wins the Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Match Length: 14:26 Match Analysis: Slimmer: HO. LEE. CRAP. The Money in the Bank Ladder Match has delivered breathtaking excitement at WrestleMania for each of the last four years, and this year was certainly no exception. Kofi Kingston definitely gets the Shelton Benjamin Memorial Award for having a truly breakthrough performance in a MITB match. Hopping the ladder near the beginning of the match was hella sweet, and swinging through the ladder to take out Finlay later in the match was stellar. And speaking of Shelton Benjamin, the Gold Standard once again came through with his trademark mixed bag of MITB spots. His Senton Bomb from the ladder on the outside was incredible, except of course for the fact that he under-rotated and damn near killed himself. Scaling the ladder from the outside was great, but of course if was followed by the requisite Shelton botch. Kane, Mark Henry, and Finlay all did an admirable job of playing to their own strengths, and even Hornswoggle's role made perfect sense. Punk is the most credible title contender of the bunch, so I completely agree with having him win the match for the second year in a row. Punk's first title reign was treated as something of a joke, but throughout it all he has maintained a tremendous amount of support from the fans. Here's hoping that this MITB win leads to a more substantial world championship title reign. Lansdell: Well, of course I am ecstatic about that result as my boy won. Kofi was a highlight reel and hopefully this match will catapult him further. Shelton died for us all again, and he's another one who deserves better. Henry and Kane weren't bad at all, I take it all back. If this really is the year that the MITB winner doesn't win the title, I'm fine with that since Punk did it before anyway. The Family Roaster: I guess it left me wanting a little, I wonder if had I seen that as the first MITB, but it wasn't spectacular compared with the others. Kofi was great as was Shelton. Small: Fun match like all MITBs are. A little on the short side, but solid. Match Rating: Slimmer: **** Lansdell: ***¾ The Family Roaster: ***½ Small: ***½ Average Match Rating: ***¾
25 Diva Battle Royal Match Result: Santino Marella wins the 25 Diva Battle Royal. Match Length: 6:00 Match Analysis: Slimmer: Oh my stars and garters. First Kid Rock burns a bunch of valuable time at the biggest show of the year, and then we get a six minute Divas match with no greater purpose that to put over a comedy act. The fact that none of the Divas were announce was an insult to the Divas that returned for a special appearance, and after this disaster I'm incredibly glad that Trish Stratus and Lita had the good sense to stay the hell away. But to waste Sunny, Molly Holly, Victoria, and even Torrie Wilson like that was just asinine. The concept of having 25 past and present Divas fight to become Miss WrestleMania could have led to a decent match. It could have lead to Trish Stratus and Lita beating the hell out of each other one more time. It could have led to Molly Holly, Gail Kim, and Victoria reminding us the women actually can wrestle. It could have led to Mickie James grabbing another Diva where the sun don't shine. And all of that would have been awesome. But instead we got Santino in drag. What a bunch of bullshit. Lansdell: Well that was bullshittery to end all bullshit. I mean Santino has some distinctive tattoos, and nobody recognized them? The most ingenious disguise since a pair of glasses! What a load of shite. The only redeeming factors were Molly Holly, Victoria and the stiffness of Mickie James and Michelle McCool. ¼* The Family Roaster: The fact that Santino won makes this a complete joke in my mind. Not that it was ever going to be a ***** classic, but it would have been a lot more credible if Melina, Beth or a real star had won it. They also didn't make any sort of big deal about the returning stars, we were left to pick them out. Small: Kid rock made a great time to buy pizza beer and t-shirt. BTW, 30 bucks for a t-shirt? Doesn't Vince know we are in a recession? As for the match I hate how no Diva was announced but I love the winner Santina. Five stars for innocent fun. Match Rating: Slimmer: ¼* Lansdell: ¼* The Family Roaster: * Small: N/A Average Match Rating: ½*
Chris Jericho vs. "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka, and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat w/ Ric Flair and Mickey Rourke Match Result: Chris Jericho defeats Jimmy "Superfly" Snuka with the Walls of Jericho, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper with an enzuigiri, and Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat with the Code Breaker. Match Length: 8:57 Match Analysis: Slimmer: The good news is we got the two questionable matches out of the way early. The bad news was this, for the most part, this was not pretty. We've seen Piper and Snuka with alarming regularity over the past few years, and they once gain gave us what little they have left to give. Snuka's whimper of a tap was particularly disturbing. However, with that being said, I have to give MAJOR love and respect to Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. I had no idea that he would be able to perform as such a high level after not stepping in the ring for close to two decades. I thought that Flair / Michaels was the best possible way for Flair to retire, but not I'm wondering if Flair should have held out for one last math with Steamboat, twenty years after they defined perfection. Because after seeing this match, I really kind of think that Flair and Steamboat could have had one last five star classic. But anyway, this was what it was, basically just a waste of time that at least gave Steamboat the chance to remind us that he truly is one of the all time greats. I think it's safe to assume that Jericho is finished with this Legends business, so he's free to move back to challenging the real roster. And with both world championships on the line tonight and the Draft coming up in just eight days, I wouldn't be surprised if we saw Jericho challenging for a world championship sooner rather than later. Lansdell: Wow. That was miles better than I ever hoped it could be. Steamboat looked INCREDIBLE and even Piper didn't embarrass himself. However, at the end of the day it was 3 old guys standing in for Mickey Rourke. The Family Roaster: Based on Steamboat's performance alone, this was good. He looked at least 10 years younger than he is, but Rourke's performance was rather blah for me. It was good that he got involved, but the punches looked completely unconvincing. Small: I'm not saying women don't fall over him.
But he don't give in.
He's a family man.
Ricky Steamboat, the Dragon. (Slimmer's Note: Looks like Small found the beer stand. Too bad he was sober for the Divas match.) Match Rating: Slimmer: *½ Lansdell: ** The Family Roaster: ** Small: ** Average Match Rating: **
Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy in an Extreme Rules Match Match Result: Matt Hardy defeats Jeff Hardy with a chair-assisted Twist of Fate. Match Length: 13:14 Match Analysis: Slimmer: I have to say that this match left me a bit under whelmed. Sure, there were some crazy spots, but I'm not sure they were quite at the level of crazy that we were expecting from two of the craziest spot monkeys in WWE history. But the real problem was not the big spots but rather everything between the big spots. The Hardys seemed completely unable to hold the crowd's attention between monstrous bumps, and as a result the crowd was dead for most of the match. And that, more than anything else, may underscore and legitimize the criticisms that have been thrown at the Hardys for years. Yes, they love this business, and yes, they are willing to do ANYTHING to try to entertain the fans. But more often than not it seems as though they lack the ability to tell real stories with real emotion. And that may be what keeps them from ever truly reaching the top of the card. However, you have to assume that Jeff will want vengeance after tasting defeat on the biggest stage of them all. A rematch seems likely, but where do you go after an Extreme Rules Match? Lansdell: It wasn't as long or as spot-filled as I dreamed for, but it was still very good. That finish from Matt had me cringing. The feud had better give us a rematch next month, and then Matt can use it to get the elevation up the card that he deserves. Solid match. The Family Roaster: Could have been longer but the spots were crazy, especially the finish. There's going to be a big blow-off, maybe even more extreme than this one. It was good but could have been even better with more time. Small: It almost seemed like they were holding back in an extreme rules match. It was solid but I wanted more… more beer, that is. Match Rating: Slimmer: ** Lansdell: *** The Family Roaster: ***¼ Small: *** Average Match Rating: **¾
John "Bradshaw" Layfield (Champion)vs. Rey Mysterio for the Intercontinental Championship Match Result: Rey Mysterio defeats John "Bradshaw" Layfield with the 619 followed by a top rope splash. Match Length: 0:21 Match Analysis: Slimmer: Well, that was, um, what did JBL say it was going to be? "The most dominating performance in WrestleMania history?" Sure, we'll go with that. Hey, I'll be the first to admit that it's always fun to watch JBL get his ass handed to him. But the sad thing is that Mysterio and JBL actually have great chemistry with each other, and Mysterio is one of the few guys that can still pull a great match out of JBL. Under different circumstances, these two guys could have had a hot match, but clearly that wasn't the plan. But hey, Mysterio's ring attire was awesome, copyright issues aside. And maybe it isn't such a bad thing that JBL quit after the match. I mean, he wasn't exactly setting the world on fire in the ring. And what is this I hear about Smackdown being in need of a color commentator? But hey, you do have to love the fact that Rey Mysterio has now retired JBL… TWICE. Lansdell: Ummm? Huh? The best part of this was Rey's outfit and the stiff kick. Otherwise...remember when WrestleMania, and IC title matches thereat, were classics? The Family Roaster: Roaster: That was a match? It was basically just there to get the belt to Rey and get JBL off the active roster. Which could have been done on Raw. Small: I missed JBL match cause I had to pee and the line was long. Seriously what's with Houston and long lines? Dudes shouldn't wait in line to pee. I'm glad the JBL match was short, because it would have sucked. Five stars for booking. (Slimmer's Note: Fair enough. I missed the entire Kane / Khali match at WrestleMania 23 while in the bathroom. And I was at home, so there wasn't even a line.) Match Rating: Slimmer: ½* Lansdell: ½* The Family Roaster: * Small: N/A Average Match Rating: ½*
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker Match Result: The Undertaker defeats Shawn Michaels with the Tombstone Piledriver. Match Length: 30:42 Match Analysis: Slimmer: And here we have the 2009 Match of the Year. Period, end of story. This match literally had it all. Shawn Michaels kicked out of a HELLACIOUS Last Ride and a Tombstone Piledriver. The Undertaker kicked out of multiple Sweet Chin Musics. Michaels absolutely splattered himself after a missed moonsault. A referee bit the dust in a moment eerily reminiscent of the first Hell in a Cell Match. And the Undertaker truly may have been unconscious for a few minutes. It may not have been a perfect match, but it was certainly one that we'll remember for a long time to come. There are rumors that Shawn Michaels may take a bit of time off after this match, and a loss to the Undertaker is certainly a credible reason for taking a leave of absence. As for the Undertaker, his Streak is still alive, and the Dead Man is as dominant as ever. Could we see him challenging either the WWE Champion or the World Heavyweight Champion after WrestleMania? Lansdell: Holy shit. That's about all I can say. Two men closer to 50 than 40 just put everyone and everything else on TV this week, month hell this YEAR to shame. Counters, spots, tension, drama...what more could you want? The Family Roaster: It was a very, very good match, it told a great story, but it's not 5 stars because Michaels kicked out of EVERYTHING Taker threw at him, stuff that nobody else has kicked out of. Michaels is obviously a great wrestler, but seeing him survive what many have failed to take really hurt the match for me. Small: Of note the funnel cakes in Houston are way better than Orlando. Instead of soaking them in hot oil, they put them in a pizza oven. Much better. As for the match, its HBK vs. Taker. It's a five star classic. Like I need to comment on it. Match Rating: Slimmer: ****¾ Lansdell: ****¼ The Family Roaster: **** Small: ***** Average Match Rating: ****½
Edge (Champion) vs. The Big Show vs. John Cena in a Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship Match Result: John Cena defeats the Big Show with the FU Attitude Adjustment. Match Length: 14:44 Match Analysis: Slimmer: I've had nightmares where 10,000 John Cenas are chasing me. But I digress. This was certainly a passable Triple Threat Match, but unfortunately you can't help but compare it to the Triple Threat Match five years ago at WrestleMania XX. And it simply pales in comparison. The finish would have been epic if Cena had managed to FU both Edge and Show at the same time, especially since Edge would have landed underneath Show. However, the finish was still fairly impressive, and somehow it makes sense that Cena would win given that he seemed to come into the match with the most focus and the fewest distractions. The draft is in only eight days, so it's hard to say where any of these three men will end up after that. But I would be willing to bet that Edge and Show will still have to fight for the love of the virtuous Vickie Guerrero, so expect their feud to continue while Cena finds a new challenger for the World Heavyweight Championship. Lansdell: So they added Big Show to keep the match fresh, yet we get the predictable and stale ending of Cena winning. The match was pretty good I guess, I do wonder who Cena goes to face next however. Edge must dread hearing Cena's name. The Family Roaster: Roaster: I thought this was a decent match, there were no missed spots and in fact some pretty impressive ones, especially the finish. There was basically nothing wrong and enough right to push it over average. Small: Dead crowd to start due to taker. Then it and the match got better. The big show tried to bring it down but he didn't. Nice win for the man of 1000 entrances. Does this mean Trips is also winning? Match Rating: Slimmer: ***½ Lansdell: *** The Family Roaster: ***½ Small: *** Average Match Rating: ***¼
Triple H (Champion) vs. Randy Orton for the WWE Championship Match Result: Triple H defeats Randy Orton with the Pedigree. Match Length: 23:36 Match Analysis: Slimmer: This was the kind of match that was BEGGING for interference, so much so that we were almost conditioned into simply waiting for the inevitable run-in by Vince, Shane, Stephanie, Cody, or Ted. But the interference never came, and that made the ending feel as though it came out of nowhere. Given how frequently it was stressed that Triple H would lose the title if he was disqualified, I truly believed that Steph would come down to the ring, slap / punch / nut shot Orton, and thus inadvertently cost her husband the title. But instead we got a punt, a sledgehammer shot, and a Pedigree for the "happy" ending. Only that happy ending was unsatisfying. And I'm wondering if it was really all that happy. The RKO chants have been getting louder and louder each week, especially when Orton does something particularly dastardly. He is pure evil, but I think it's the kind of fun escapist evil that the crowd seems to be craving. "Stone Cold" Steve Austin defined the anti-hero in the world of professional wrestling, but under the right circumstances Randy Orton could bring the anti-hero to a whole new level. But unfortunately WWE seems to be either unaware of the chants of their fans or unwilling to act upon those chants. And thus Triple H retains his title at WrestleMania. Again. Lansdell: One big, giant, huge MEH for this one. Sure it told the hatred story, but it was slow, plodding and frankly boring. HHH gets crap for not putting people over and this may well be a case of that phenomenon. Orton is at the top of his game and has to lie down for HHH. I cannot get behind the match or the result. It wasn't awful, but it wasn't worthy of a WM main event. Period. The Family Roaster: Little bit better than average but at a slow pace that did nothing to bring the crowd back from exhaustion or to generate the feeling of a main event atmosphere. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't what you expect. Small: Blah main event. The crowd never recovered from Taker/HBK plus Austin's long goodbye. Throw in the fact that there was no flow to thus match and its definitely a disappointment. Match Rating: Slimmer: ***½ Lansdell: **¼ The Family Roaster: *** Small: ** Average Match Rating: **¾
Match of the Night: Slimmer: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (****¾)
Two of the greatest wrestlers of all time and thirty minutes really are all you need for the match of the night at WrestleMania. There were counters, cameraman bumps, more kick-outs than we ever could have expected, and two of the best set-ups for the Tombstone Piledriver that we've ever seen. I think we all knew coming in that this would be a match that we'd always remember, one way or the other. Luckily, it was more than just memorable. It was the Match of the Night and will be the Match of the Year. Lansdell: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (****¼)
Very few people thought any other match would have a shot at Match of the Night, and we were not wrong. The two best big-match performers of this generation went out and did what everyone expected them to do. The Family Roaster: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (****) Small: Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker (*****)
Trash of the Night: Slimmer: 25 Diva Battle Royal (¼*)
It's not so much that the in-ring action was sloppy and forgettable. It's really about the fact that an opportunity for a great WrestleMania moment was completely wasted in order to push a guy who is so bad in the ring that he no longer wrestles men. I feel horrible for all of the Divas who returned and were treated like garbage. You can argue about whether or not this was the worst WrestleMania match in history, but it will certainly forever be part of the conversation. Lansdell: 25 Diva Battle Royal (¼*)
So let me get this straight: You throw a huge Divas Battle Royal. You invite back past stars. You hype it hard. Then you bring out 25 ladies together, make no effort to identify any of them, and let them have 5 minutes of crap fighting followed by a man in obvious drag winning? We'll see this on WrestleCrap within a month. The Family Roaster: 25 Diva Battle Royal (*)
Final Analysis: Slimmer: I hate to say this about WrestleMania, especially a "big" one like WrestleMania 25, but I have to admit that I'm a bit disappointed. This show looked really good on paper, but several of the matches just failed to deliver. The Divas match was a complete disaster, and the Legends match was saved only by the awesomeness of Ricky Steamboat. The Hardys match was disjointed and uninspired, and the Intercontinental Championship Match was almost too short to really be considered a match. Both title matches were decent but far from epic. Oh, and let's not forget that the big Tag Team Title Unification Match featuring two teams that have unbelievable chemistry with each other was bumped to the pre-show. That really only leaves you with the Money in the Bank Ladder Match and Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker. Both of those matches delivered big time, but unfortunately two great matches aren't enough to save a show with eight matches. Especially when there were supposed to be nine matches. And even more so when it's the biggest show of the year. This just wasn't a solid show, and it was no where near the level that we should have seen from WrestleMania 25. Lansdell: This would have been an excellent Backlash. It would have been a rather good SummerSlam. As a WrestleMania, it falls somewhat flat. It's not challenging IX and XI for futility, but it's definitely not what you'd expect for the 25th installment of the Biggest Spectacle our Industry. Outside of Michaels-Taker, which everyone knew would be good, only MITB surpassed my expectations. Very disappointing. Small: Overall I enjoyed the show even though I missed the tag titles match due to traffic and the disappointing main event. HBK vs. Taker totally made this one a night to remember. Onto Phoenix.
Verdict: Slimmer: **½ Lansdell: **¾ The Family Roaster: *** Small: ***½ Average Verdict: **¾