February 24, 2015
Mania 25 was held April 5, 2009 in Houston, TX, with an announced attendance of 72,744. This event was billed as WrestleMania, the 25th Anniversary, which is of course completely wrong and drove me absolutely nuts. I know it sounds nice because it's WrestleMania 25 but in actual fact it's the 24th anniversary of WrestleMania. Your first anniversary is one year after your wedding day. If WrestleMania 1 is the occasion, one year later, WrestleMania 2 is the 1st anniversary; therefore the 25th anniversary of WrestleMania would be Mania 26 not 25. This from a company that once had a meeting where they told all talent to be sure to properly annunciate our words during promos so we would sound more intelligence; Good Greif!
I had never seen this show before. Fans are always amazed at this but when you spend 15+ years on the road wrestling, once you get home the majority of your time at home is spent with your family, rather than watching more wrestling. The only reason I have time to watch so much now is the WWE Network, and my ability to watch it on my iPad while doing cardio at the gym. On commentary for this Event were Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, and Michael Cole. All were quite good. I think fans forget that when allowed to be Michael Cole can actually be real good.
MITB: Punk, Henry, MVP, Benjamin, Kingston, Christian, Finlay: This was exciting as hell and an awesome match. Kofi's athleticism was a real highlight to this match with a bunch of great stuff. There was a crazy dive sequence capped with an absolutely insane dive off the top of a ladder on the floor by Shelton Benjamin. He was just stupid high on this thing. Hornswaggle made a cameo for a dive to the floor as well which got a great reaction. Punk picked up back to back wins capturing the MITB briefcase for the second year in a row. I so wish they would put this match back on WrestleMania.
We then got a Kid Rock concert (yes after only one match). I have no idea how long this was, I was busy hitting the skip ahead 30sec button on my iPad. He played for a while and this played right into the Diva's entrances who were up next.
25 Diva Battle Royal (Winner would be Miss WrestleMania): I'd list the girls who were in this match but they didn't get introductions and with 25 women out there I couldn't tell who 1/2 to 2/3rds of them were. Beth Phoenix was really the only Diva highlighted in this match making a ton of eliminations. As we got down to the last few you could see that Santino was dressed up like a woman and part of this match. Santino dumped Beth as she dumped the last Diva to win the match. He looked absolutely jacked and when interviewed informed everyone that "she" was Santino's twin sister Santina. This was sooooo stupid and did nothing for any of the girls in this match.
Chris Jericho vs. Ricky Steamboat, Jimmy Snuka, Roddy Piper: Ric Flair was out there with the WWE Legends and it was elimination rules so Jericho had to pin or submit all 3 guys to win. There was an awesome video package to show the build to this match, which was set up while promoting the movie The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke. This match was a lot of fun and the crowd was super into it. Jericho eliminated Snuka and Piper first and when it got down to Jericho vs. Steamboat it got awesome. Steamboat still had some gas in the tank and was just fantastic here. They traded some near falls and the crowd was so into Steamboat. Jericho eventually got the win, and then Flair got in the ring for some great offense but he too was laid to waste by Jericho. I understand they wanted the mainstream press of involving Rourke off the hype of the movie The Wrestler but I really hated this next part. After Jericho single handedly defeated 4 WWE HOF Legend wrestlers he challenged Mickey Rourke to get in the ring and the very old actor who played a wrestler in a movie, KOd Jericho to save the day. In any event, seeing Ricky Steamboat go like this one more time made this match so awesome.
Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy (Extreme Rules): They had a video building to this match as well and I remembered this angle from back then and recall how dumb it was. I don't think the guy attacking Jeff was originally going to be Matt so some of the story was contradictory. They also included Jeff's real life tragedy of his house burning down and losing his dog in the fire, saying Matt did it. IMO this was too over the top and hurt more than help. There were chair head shots in the video and in the match that made me uncomfortable. There was a lot of stuff in this match but something was missing for me with the drama, it just didn't seem to build as much as it could have. Matt won clean with a cool looking Twist of Fate with Jeff's head stuck in a chair. There was cool spot where Jeff put Matt on a table on the floor, put a chair across his chest, then stacked another table on top of that table so Matt was the meat in a table sandwich. Jeff then did a splash off the top rope through the sandwich, which looked crazy and quite devastating. The brilliance of this spot was the chair. When the top table broke having the jagged edges crushed down onto Matt could have been very dangerous, scratching or cutting him quite badly. By placing the chair on top of him they actually gave him a bit of a shield/chest protector to avoid him getting cut up; Very Smart.
JBL vs. Rey Mysterio (IC Title): They announced that this was the first IC Title match at WrestleMania in 7 years. There was also an off the cuff remark by JR that I couldn't believe. Rey was dressed up as Heath Ledger's Joker and when Lawler pointed this out JR threw out the line, "Rey's career is alive and well" Wow just wow! I'm pretty sure JBL's back was shot at this point and he needed to retire, so this match went but seconds. JBL jumped Rey and Rey immediately counters into the 619 followed by a splash off the top to win the Title, in maybe 20 seconds.
The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michael: The video build was great, their entrances were awesome, and then the match was even better. This was just absolutely incredible, it had everything you could want out of a match, great action, amazing drama, and great announcing. Loved, Loved, Loved this. I could have lived without seeing The Undertaker do that dive, because that was scary as hell, but I don't know what to say. If you didn't like this match, you need to just find a different form of entertainment, because pro-wrestling must not be for you.
Edge vs. Big Show vs. Cena (World Title): There was a video package for this match explaining the love triangle angle to this match. Edge and Vickie were married and Cena caught Vickie and Big Show on camera making out. I assume since this was 2 heels vs. I face they wanted some tension between Edge and Show as well. Cena got the big entrance with his old Thug-a-nomics music (which I so prefer to his current one). They had what seemed like 100 Cena look a likes come out and line the entrance way, which looked pretty cool, then they switched to his modern music for the real Cena entrance. The match itself was solid and real good. Following the Shawn - Taker match was a death spot and these guys worked real hard and managed to live through it. Cena ended up pinning Big Show to win the match and the Title, so Edge lost the title without getting pinned (I hate this).
HHH vs. Randy Orton (WWE Title, title can change hands on DQ and CO): I remember the build to this match, and everyone at the time saying how bad it was, so I was curious how I'd feel about it. I thought the match was good, but a little slow, and I think there were a couple specific things that hurt it. They did a deal where both guys hit their finishers in the first minute of the match. I've seen this done where it works and I've seen it done where it completely takes the crowd out of the match. I think here it was more a case of the latter. I don't think the crowd knew what to make of it and they never really got back into the guys trying to hit their finishers later in the match. There was also something that happened in the crowd about 1/2 way through that completely distracted the crowd. I suspect it was a fight because everyone started watching something in the crowd and it really killed the drama of this match. The biggest reason this match fell flat in my opinion was the finish. The build to this match involved the entire McMahon family; Vince, Shane, and Stephanie all got taken out by Randy in the build to this match, so I think everyone (me included) assumed there would, at some point, be a big McMahon family run in but it never came.
It would be like doing a baseball bat on a pole match and doing a pin fall finish before anyone got to the bat, no one would expect it or react to it. This match was built on drama and the family drama was never brought into it. They did a ref bump and when I think everyone was expecting the McMahon family run-in; HHH just hit Randy with the sledgehammer and won. Even knowing ahead of time that there was no run-in, I was still caught off guard and didn't pop on the finish. What ruined it for me was the purposefulness with which HHH hid the sledge hammer. After he hit Randy he took a while to tuck the sledge under the ring skirt while keeping it on the apron. I thought for sure it was going to come into play again later, because if he was done with it, I'd expect him to just chuck it out of the ring. I was positive Randy was going to kick out, so the finish caught me flat. In hindsight I assume it was a prop sledge and he didn't want to throw it out of the ring and have it bounce and expose it wasn't real, but it killed the finish for me. On any other show and without the expectation of the McMahon family run in, I think this match would be getting much more favourable reviews.
A very solid show, that I suspect doesn't get remembered as, as good of a show as it really was. Both Title matches were solid to real good, the Taker - Shawn match was unbelievable, the MITB was exciting as hell, and the Legends match was a lot of fun. Matt vs. Jeff didn't really work, I don't think anyone really wanted to see them fight, but still had a lot of good stuff in it. There was way more good than bad on this show, and just seeing Steamboat again, and that Taker - Shawn match made this show a big thumbs up for me.
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