PPV REPORTS KELLER'S WRESTLEMANIA PPV REPORT 4/3: Ongoing "virtual time" coverage of live event
Apr 3, 2005 - 9:55:00 PM
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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
WRESTLEMANIA 21 REPORT
APRIL 3, 2005
LOS ANGELES, CALIF. AT STAMPLES CENTER
[Note: We are approving new VIP passwords for any new members throughout tonight's show, so if you want to have access to the post-PPV Torch staff Roundtable Reviews of the show and our two post-PPV Audio Updates including one within 30 minutes of the shows completion and another longer one up later tonight, you can sign up for a full month for just $5.95 here: Torch VIP Sign-Up. You can also read tonight the much-talked-about controversial first installment of the six-hour Kevin Nash "Torch Talk" interview series.]
-The show opened with Lilian Garcia singing "America the Beautiful." Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the show. Then they went to the Spanish announce team followed by Michael Cole and Tazz.
-After a highlight montage aired of previously aired movie spoofs, the Steve Austin "Gladiator" movie spoof then premiered. (Note: A Torch reader was an extra on the set and had reported to us that it was filmed just two or three weeks ago.)
1 -- REY MYSTERIO vs. EDDIE GUERRERO
Rey, who has a rep for having the best ring gear in the WWE among other wrestlers, debuted a new outfit with a strap-on mask without a back to it and a shirt to go with his tights. They had a cool spotlight effect in the entrance stage area. No surprise this is the opener as they want to start with a good, athletic match with wrestlers who will be over with the crowd. They did some early highspots, but then settled down with some matwork, indicating that they were probably on pace for a match at least 18 minutes. The announcers both picked Guerrero to win, which needlessly gave away to discerning viewers that Mysterio was winning. At 7:00 Rey did a corkscrew dive over the top rope onto Guerrero onto the floor. Tazz said, "Only one man can do that." That's not particularly accurate, unless he was talking about unstated rules that only Rey is allowed to do it. Rey hit a leverage two count back in the ring at 8:00. Guerrero came back with a backbreaker and scored a two count himself. The crowd was "ohhing" and "ahhing" just about everything. Guerrero then went into the Three Amigos suplex series. Rey came back and went for the 619, but Guerrero moved, and then gave Rey a twisting backbreaker for another near fall. Guerrero hit Three Amigos again. He then went for a frog splash, but Rey moved out of his path. The crowd chanted the ten count aloud along with the ref. Rey went for a leverage pin, but Guerrero reversed it and scored a convincing near fall. At 11:00 Rey hit the 619. Rey went for the West Coast Pop, but Guerrero turned it into a powerbomb for another convincing near fall at 11:30. Guerrero showed signs of frustration. Rey gave Guerrero a huracanrana and scored a leverage pin. Guerrero shook hands with Rey afterward, but wasn't smiling or happy with the outcome. Mysterio returned to the back ad Guerrero stood in the ring looking dejected.
WINNER: Mysterio at 12:00.
STAR RATING: **3/4 -- Good match, but for a four hour PPV, it's really a lost opportunity and a great disappointment they didn't let them go at least 18 minutes. There were a couple of shaky moments in the match. Guerrero afterward almost seemed to be legitimately disappointed in the match, not just selling the storyline effect of losing. Still, it was really good in spots.
-JBL and Orlando Jordan were shown walking backstage, talking about beating John Cena later. They bumped into Triple H and Ric Flair. Hunter sarcastically said, "Oh, look, the Wrestling God! What a joke." JBL told Hunter that he is the only champion in history to never lose. Hunter told JBL to keep telling himself he's good because "after a while, somebody will believe you." JBL said 100 percent serious: "I am that good." Hunter said, "We'll just have to wait until the end of the night to see who is still champion." Hunter snorted and walked away. Flair then got in Jordan's face and said "Whoo!"
-They showed Adam Sandler and Rob Schneider in the crowd. If Russo were booking, you'd have to be concerned one of them might end up champion by the end of the night.
Chris Benoit (artist Joseph Borzotta, PWTorch)
2 -- CHRIS BENOIT vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. CHRISTIAN vs. KANE vs. CHRIS JERICHO vs. EDGE -- Money in the Bank Ladder Match
Christian came decked out in a ring outfit that is top contender for best of the night. They brawled at ringside before the official start. They did a series of dives to ringside peaking with Benjamin diving onto everyone at ringside except Kane. Kane then stood on the top rope and clotheslined everyone at once at 1:30. They introduced the ladder early as a weapon with Jericho getting the most use of it early. Benoit put Kane in a Crippler Crossface. Edge intervened, and Benoit put the Crossface on him. Kane then jabbed the ladder into Benoit, then crushed his arm in the ladder several times. Benoit sold it like it was broken. Edge then surprised Kane with a spear. The crowd was really into it (a lot more than Laker games these days. Christian and Edge each grabbed a ladder and charged Kane from opposite ends of the ring and crushed him in the middle. Benjamin then dove at both Christian and Edge. Benoit then jump reverse sidekicked a ladder into Christian. Edge then set up the ladder in the corner of the ring and whipped Benjamin into it. Edge went for a spear on Benjamin, but Benjamin side-stepped Edge and then used Edge's momentum to throw him into the ladder in the corner. The crowd chanted "Shelton, Shelton." It was just Edge and Benjamin inside the ring as everyone else was knocked out or resting at ringside. Benjamin gave Edge a Stinger Splash into the ladder in the corner, then found himself the lone man standing inside the ring. He set the ladder up in mid-ring. When he climbed the ladder it took forever for Jericho to intervene, making Benjamin look like a complete idiot for not being able to grab the ladder. Christian, Benoit, Jericho, and Edge all climbed three different ladders and fought each other. Benoit dropped Christian to the mat off the ladder. Both sold arm injuries. Jericho also bumped off the ladder. Edge then worked on Benjamin atop a ladder. Benjamin gave Edge a T-Bone off the ladder to the mat. That got the biggest pop of the night. Christian and Jericho were the first to their feet and fought each other for the chance to climb the ladder and get the brief case hanging above the ring with the contract for the World Title shot. Jericho grabbed the briefcase. Benjamin ran up a ladder that was leaning like a rampway against the upright ladder and then dove off of it and clotheslined Jericho off the ladder. Move of the night so far. Benjamin got his foot caught in the ropes and was hanging upside down after Tyson Tomko interfered in the match. Tomko then helped Christian up the ladder on his shoulders at 11:00. Kane returned to the ring and clotheslined Tomko over the top rope. Tomko, embarrassingly, took the backward bump over the top rope 60 percent of the way before Kane even touched him. Kane then shoved Christian off the ladder onto Tomko at ringside. Kane climbed the ladder and grabbed the brief case, but Jericho climbed the other side of the ladder and the ladder fell over and they both bumped onto the top rope. Jericho got sling-shot to the floor off the top rope while Kane clotheslined his neck over the top rope. Benoit returned to the ring, still selling the arm injury from five minutes earlier. He set up a ladder in the corner of the ring. He went to the top rope, then to the top of the ladder. He then did the diving headbutt off of the ladder onto Kane. The camera zoomed in on Benoit's face showing that he was bleeding from the nose and the forehead. Benoit continued to convincingly sell his left arm injury as if it were completely dislocated from his socket. Benoit and Kane climbed opposite sides of the ladder. Kane grabbed Benoit by the throat. Benoit escaped Kane's grip with rapid-fire headbutts and then knocked him to the mat. Benoit then reached for the brief case. Edge bashed Benoit with a chair. Benoit fell to the mat as if he were shot. Edge then climbed the ladder and unfastened the brief case to win.
WINNER: Edge at 15:10.
STAR RATING: ****1/2 -- Really good, memorable, well-executed, innovative stunt match with some new spots with the ladder - which is tough to do after so many ladder matches. Benoit's selling was spectacular.
-Eugene walked out to the ring to zero reaction. He jumped up and down and said, "I, I, I can't believe I'm at WrestleMania." He said it was his second favorite WrestleMania moment ever. He said his favorite moment was when King Kong Bundy bodyslammed a midget. He said the good and bad midgets formed an army and attacked Bundy. "Midgets are awesome! WrestleMania is awesome." Muhammad Hassan and Khosrow Daivari then walked out wearing all white garb. Hassan and Daivari ranted about not being part of WrestleMania, then they said they were going to make their own WrestleMania moment. They attacked Eugene and put him in a Camel Clutch. Hulk Hogan made the save in his ref and yellow garb. He beat up Hassan and then played to the crowd. Ross screamed, "This is a WrestleMania moment!" After Hogan tossed Hassan over the top rope, Daivari hit Hogan in the back with a chair. Hogan no-sold it and then beat up Daivari, tossed him over the top rope, and posed in the ring. He didn't do a legdrop, which would be tough on his hips at this point. They showed David Arquette in the crowd cheering Hogan. Ross and Lawler did not note that he is a former WCW World Champion.
3 -- UNDERTAKER vs. RANDY ORTON
No surprise that Cole and Tazz called this inter-brand match since they get to take the pro-Smackdown babyface side in the match rather than Ross and Lawler being in an awkward spot of either siding with Taker and against Raw, or siding with heel Orton to favor Raw. It also saved Ross and Lawler for the Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels match later. Undertaker came out first with an elaborate ring entrance involving a motorcycle. After some early back and forth action, Taker took control early, including a guillotine legdrop on the ring apron. He then walked the top rope and came off with an armbar. Orton came back at 4:00 and punched away at Taker's face. Taker sat up and made a comeback at 7:00. The crowd chanted "Randy sucks." Orton came back with a powerslam at 10:30 for a two count. The ref got bumped at 11:00. Undertaker went for a Last Ride, but Orton escaped by shifting his weight. Bob Orton then interfered by clotheslining Undertaker with a cast on his arm. He draped Orton onto Taker and then woke up the ref. A groggy ref made a convincing near fall count, but Taker kicked out just before three. Taker then sat up. Orton was going to whip Orton into Cowboy Bob's cast as he stood on the ring apron, but Taker kicked Cowboy Bob off the apron. Orton, though, reversed Taker's chokeslam attempt and turned it into an RKO at 13:00. He draped his arm over Taker and the ref counted. Taker kicked out just before three. Orton then signalled for a Tombstone. he set up Taker. Taker, though, flipped out of it and gave Orton the Tombstone. He placed Orton's arms over his chest and got the pin.
WINNER: Taker at 14:06.
STAR RATING: ***1/4 -- The near falls were convincing, assuming you didn't enter the match figuring strongly Taker was going to win. Well executed, and a nice tease by Orton with the Tombstone at the end. It had the methodical pace of an Undertaker match early on, but it was never boring.
4 -- TRISH STRATUS vs. CHRISTY HEMME (w/Lita) -- Women's Title match
Trish laid on her back as soon as the bell rang and challenged Christy to try to pin her. She then got up and shoved Christy to the mat. When Christy got up, Trish shoved her down again and then shoved her out of the ring. Trish then threw Christy into the ringside steps. It wasn't a convincing looking bump by Christy. Trish chopped Christy in the corner. She followed up with a kicked, but Christy caught her leg and then kicked her between the legs. Christy scored a two count with a strange pin attempt using her legs to bend Trish onto her shoulders. Christy followed with a sunset flip out of the corner for a two count. Trish speared Christy afterward. Christy immediately reached for her top to be sure she didn't fall out. With Trish preoccupied by Lita at ringside, Christy rolled her up for a near fall. She followed with a series of kicks and then rammed Trish ten times head-first into the top turnbuckle. Christy reversed a Trish roll-up and scored a three count because Trish was slow to escape, but the ref just stopped his count at two. It was not pretty. Trish followed up immediately with her finishing kick for the win.
WINNER: Trish at 4:40 to retain the Women's Title.
STAR RATING: 1/2* -- They did a nice job masking a best they could the fact that Christy had no business in the ring on this big of a stage at this point in her career. It looked like Christy was a rookie, but Trish was enough of a pro to make it watchable.
Kurt Angle (artist Joseph Borzotta, PWTorch)
5 -- SHAWN MICHAELS vs. KURT ANGLE
Michaels came out first with another candidate for best WrestleMania ring outfit. They had some early mat wrestling exchanges, and Michaels ended up locked Angle in an early headlock. Angle suplexed Michaels, but Michaels held onto the headlock. Michaels remained in control on the mat for several minutes. Angle eventually took control and went for an ankelock at 6:30. Michaels countered quickly and clotheslined Angle. They both flipped over the top rope to the floor. Michaels got a pop as he ripped apart the ringside announcers' table. Angle ended up lifting Michaels onto his shoulder in a fireman's carry and then charged backward, driving Michaels into the ringpost. They went back to mat work for several minutes, clearly pacing themselves for a long match. Michaels hit a crossbody block of the top rope onto Angle at ringside at 14:00, although his knee seemed to give out or he slipped on the launch so he didn't have as much height as you'd expect. Angle attempted to back suplex Michaels off the ring apron. Michaels held onto the ropes, elbowed Angle's head, and then mule kicked him to the floor. Michaels caught his breath, and then springboarded over the top rope onto Angle on the announcers' table. The table didn't give much. Michaels stomped the mat and went for Sweet Chin Music, but Angle caught his foot and applied the Anklelock at 19:00. Michaels escaped, but Angle rolled through and applied it again. Michaels quickly leveraged out and went into a roll-up for what Ross described as a "long two count." Angle blocked another Michaels superkick and gave him an Angle Slam for a very near fall at 21:00. Angle yanked his straps down, and then went to the top rope. He went for a moonsault, but Michaels moved out of his path. He landed on his left hand and then clutched it in pain afterward. Angle suplexed Michaels off the top rope and scored a convincing near fall at 22:30. As Angle trash-talked Michaels, Michaels came out of nowhere with a burst of energy and superkicked Angle, KOing him. Michaels eventually draped his arm over Angle's chest for a near fall. Ross said it was a long two count. Yes, it was, as Angle didn't lift his shoulder. He added that both will be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame some day. After Michaels stood first, Angle slipped on his Anklelock finisher. When Michaels crawled toward the ropes, Angle dragged him back to the middle. Michaels attempted two spirited escapes, but Angle kept it locked on. Angle's facial intensity was awesome during the hold, and Michaels's selling matched it. Ross was in danger of losing his voice as he screamed about Michaels doing all he could to withstand the pain or counter the hold. Michaels considered tapping, and finally did. Angle returned to the back first. Michaels struggled to his feet, hobbled around the ring, and accepted a standing ovation from the fans.
WINNER: Angle at 27:16.
STAR RATING: ****1/2 -- Excellent match. It was a tad bit ordinary early on with the long matwork that wasn't particularly innovative. Great second half, and incredible intensity by both leading to the tapout.
-Roddy Piper walked out for Piper's Pit. He asked the crowd who the baddest guy in WWE ever was. He dropped in a "bullsh--" when the crowd shouted "Austin." That may or may not have been scripted knowing Piper. Steve Austin then walked out with a black t-shirt that said, "Unleash Hell." It was difficult to tell on TV how his crowd reaction compared to Hulk Hogan's earlier, so reports from fans in attendance should be interesting. Austin, still in the double knee braces, stood on the second rope in each corner and saluted the fans with his double middle fingers. Austin grabbed the wireless mic off of the stool. Piper tossed the stool out of the ring. He took the mic back and said, "So, you're the rebel, huh? Welcome to Piper's Pit." He then slapped Austin. Austin took a deep breath, thanked him, and slapped him back. Piper said, "I liked it." Austin asked him if he wanted another Piper no-sold it and told him that he has a lot of respect for him. The crowd chanted "What?" Piper asked, "What, are you deaf?" The crowd did it between each of Piper's sentence fragments. The crowd kept chanting "What?" Piper said, "Try to keep up with me." The crowd popped for Piper acknowledging their "What?" chants. He told the crowd to shut up and listen so he could make his point. Austin asked, "What point would that be?" Piper said, "I was here when WrestleMania didn't have a number. I was pissing Vince McMahon off when the red on the back of your neck was diaper rash, buddy." The crowd oohhed that comment. "As far as the rebel part goes, you and James Dean don't have a thing on me," Piper said. Austin picked on Piper's outfit including his "cute little dress" and goatee. "Am I supposed to be impressed by you? There's something going on here I don't understand because I'm not intimated by you one bit. Do I make myself clear?" Piper was about to answer. Austin said, "No, take another minute." Piper said, "What we have is a failure to communicate." Carlito Cool's music then played and he walked out. This is smart because it takes the Austin-Piper skit from a fun nostalgia segment with no long term impact to giving rub to a new character with real potential. Carlito said, "Nobody wants to see you two anymore." He said they aren't cool and made of them slapping each other around. Austin told Carlito to bring his nappy little head into the ring. Piper called for timeout and asked who he is. "You look like Alfalfa." Carlito asked them to walk out of the ring and return to the back. Carlito then tossed his apple in the air. Piper caught it and chewed it up. Piper looked at Austin, swallowed, and then took another bite. He spit the wads of chewed apple in Carlito's face. Carlito punched Piper. Austin watched as Carlito punched away at him on the mat. Austin watched with a big smile on his face. Austin threw Carlito into the corner turnbuckle and "stomped a mudhole in Carlito." He threw Carlito to Piper who poked him in the eyes. Austin then gave him a Stunner. Piper then tossed Carlito out of the crowd. Austin gave Piper a can of beer and they drank together. Ross said Austin enjoys his beer, and added, "Roddy's been known to have a party or two in his time as well." As Piper drank beer, Austin gave Piper a Stunner. Lawler said Austin got the final word.
-Ross plugged the May 1 Backlash PPV, which is officially headlined with a rematch between Batista and Triple H. Advertising for the rematch was already on cable commercials last week. Ross said the favorite movie trailer as voted by WWE.com fans was the Taxi Driver spoof. It's the proudest honor of Michael Cole's life.
-They went to Cole and Tazz at ringside to introduce the first-ever WWE Sumo Match. There were just under 90 minutes left in the show at this point.
6 -- AKEBONO vs. BIG SHOW -- Sumo Rules Match
They took the ropes down and put a mat cover with the sumo circle drawn on it. They both wore traditional sumo trunks with a Rikishi-level amount of skin showing. They slapped and shoved each other for a few minutes, then Akebono shoved Big Show out of the circle and to the floor. Cole said Big Show deserves credit for even accepting Akebono's challenge in his style of match. Big Show shook hands with Akebono afterward and raised his arm. Big Show's music played. They compared notes on their battle and laughed, then gave each other a high five.
WINNER: Akebono at 3:00.
STAR RATING: n/a -- Big Show had to be asking himself, "I shaved all of my bodyhair for that?" It didn't even feel like a cool novelty. It was just lousy and didn't do anything for WWE, WrestleMania, or Big Show other than getting WWE some extra pub in Japan.
John Cena (artist Joseph Borzotta, PWTorch)
7 -- JBL (w/Orlando Jordan) vs. JOHN CENA -- WWE Title match
Cena took JBL down with an early shoulderblock. JBL quickly took control with a shoulder tackle of his own and then some stomps. He hit a chop and a neckbreaker. JBL remained on sustained offense for several minutes. Cena made two brief comebacks including a powerslam of JBL off the ropes. He made full-fledged comeback at 10:00 including a flying shoulder tackle and sideslam. He then looked to the crowd and didn't seem to get much of a pop. He did the "you can't see me" bit, and then pumped up his shoes. JBL threw a punch, but Cena gave JBL the FU and scored the pin.
WINNER: Cena at 11:18 to capture the WWE Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING: *1/2 -- Below average and really way too short to be considered the least bit worthy of its semi-main event slot. Not a terrible match for second on the card, but a huge disappointment in that it was very very basic stuff throughout where the heel dominated the face until a largely mundane comeback by Cena that got the mediocre crowd response it deserved. He went for a bodysurf in the first few rows, but they couldn't support him and he sank nearly to the floor. There was really no excuse for that match not to be booked to be more special than that. Cena did not look like a star and the ending of JBL's long title reign should have felt like a bigger deal. It wouldn't shock me if they were running short on time and that match had to be sliced down because nobody is telling Triple H he has to shave even a minute off of his aloted match. Then again, if that's the best they had in them, it might have been better the match didn't go longer.
-Highlight clips aired of the Hall of Fame ceremony. Then Gene Okerlund introduced the new Hall of Fame inductees from center ring. Order of introduction was Nikolai Volkoff, Iron Sheik, Paul Orndorff, "Cowboy" Bob Orton, Jimmy Hart, Roddy Piper, and Hulk Hogan. WWE divas escorted each of them onto the stage.
Batista (artist Joseph Borzotta, PWTorch)
8 -- TRIPLE H (w/Ric Flair) vs. BATISTA -- World Hvt. Title match
Triple H came out to the band Motorhead performing his entrance song live. Batista came out second. They had a staredown, then began with a lock-up. Batista shoulder blocked Hunter to the mat at 1:45. Batista struggled to press and slam Hunter as he charged at him off the ropes. He didn't get a full press and almost dropped him. It almost made the feat seem more impressive because it didn't look choreographed. Batista punched away at Hunter in a corner of the ring, then whipped him into the ropes and backdropped him to the mat. Batista huffed and puffed over Hunter's fallen body. Hunter got up and knocked Batista to the mat with a high knee. Flair distracted Batista at ringside as Hunter blindsided him. Hunter rammed Batista back-first into the ring barrier. Hunter elbowed Batista in the back inside the ring and then executed a vertical suplex. Methodically paced at this point without a lot of spark or energy. Hunter drove his right knee into Batista's back. Flair kept interfering against Batista. Ross complained that the "Flair factor" had been an issue and it had basically been a two-on-one match so far. Hunter went to ringside and continued to work over Batista. Batista teased a comeback at 9:30, but Hunter quickly took control back with a powerslam and several two counts. Hunter gave Batista facebuster at 11:00. When Hunter went for the cover, Batista kicked out with authority. Hunter went to the top rope. Batista nailed Hunter mid-air with a clothesline. Batista tossed Hunter over the top rope to the floor. There didn't seem to be a real connection between Batista and the crowd during the match to this point. When Batista followed, Hunter shoved him into the ring stairs. Hunter was going to slam Batista onto the stairs, but Batista escaped and catapulted Batista into the ringpost. Hunter began bleeding from the forehead. Batista returned to the ring as Ross said he has never seen such a display of power in his life. Batista rammed Hunter face-first into the steps three times. Batista dominated Hunter inside the ring for several minutes, including a hard clothesline in the corner at 16:45. Hunter begged off. Batista powerslammed Hunter and scored a near fall at 17:45. Batista hit Flair at ringside. Hunter grabbed a chair. The ref yanked it away from him. Hunter then got away with striking Batista in the face with his title belt. Batista kicked out. A frustrated and very bloody Hunter charged at Batista. Batista turned it into a sidewalk slam. When he set up a Batista Bomb, Hunter nailed Batista with a low blow. Hunter then set up Batista for a Pedigree. Batista didn't budget. Hunter reacted with shock and dismay that he couldn't move him. Batista then powered out of the hold and lfted Hunter in the air. Batista then gripped Hunter's head and fell back, slamming him to the mat. Batista shook the top rope a la Ultimate Warrior and got a rise out of the crowd. He then pointed his thumbs up and then turned them down. he followed with a Batista Bomb and made the cover for the win. Batista let out a barbaric yell. Fireworks shot off as Batista stared at his newly won title.
WINNER: Batista at 21:32 to capture the World Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING: ***1/4 -- Above-average match. Not great, but passable as a WrestleMania main event. The two main events did not surpass expectations, though. The finishes, though, in many fans' eyes will make up for the matches not being classics.
-A traditional post-WrestleMania video them aired with highlights from the show.
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PWTorch editor Wade Keller has covered pro wrestling full time since 1987 starting with the Pro Wrestling Torch print newsletter. PWTorch.com launched in 1999 and the PWTorch Apps launched in 2008.
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He hosted the weekly Pro Wrestling Focus radio show on KFAN in the early 1990s and hosted the Ultimate Insiders DVD series distributed in retail stories internationally in the mid-2000s including interviews filmed in Los Angeles with Vince Russo & Ed Ferrara and Matt & Jeff Hardy. He currently hosts the most listened to pro wrestling audio show in the world, (the PWTorch Livecast, top ranked in iTunes)
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