Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Ramblemania Rewind 21 - WWE Wrestlemania 21 Goes Hollywood (2005)

Date: April 3rd, 2005
Venue: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Attendance: 20,193

Wrestlemania 21 Went Hollywood in 2005... which meant we got a bunch of WWE Guys re-creating classic scenes from classic movies in order to promote this Wrestlemania 21 PPV, which is emanating from the Staples Center in LA... not quite a big stadium setting and not only that, but these trailers - and there were some good ones - did the biggest mistake any movie trailer can do; they show off all the best parts and so by the time you watch the movie, you're going "That's it?"

I don't know where I was going with that, but in any event, we have Wrestlemania 21, which is notable for kicking off the next era of WWE by way of crowning two new champions who would carry the company for the rest of the 2000s. Just in terms of seeing new main event talent being coronated and established, this serves as an important show in that regard. It also helps that this show 


Rey Mysterio defeated Eddie Guerrero in a fine opening match, but probably nowhere near as good as it could have been. Probably because Rey was too busy adjusting his mask more than trying to put on a good show. Or maybe something didn't click.

Edge defeated Shelton Benjamin, Chris Benoit, Christian, Chris Jericho, and Kane in the first-ever Money In The Bank ladder match to win the first ever Money In The Bank contract, which guarantees its holder a title match at any time. This is where it all started, kids. And sure enough, this was a match that lived up to the standards of every ladder match you've seen in WWE; lots of high spots, lots of crazy bumps... amazingly enough, this is one of those few matches where wrestlers didn't take five years to climb up a fucking ladder, which is always a trope of these things that I absolutely despise, so seeing one of these matches where people are climbing ladders at a normal pace is such a relief.

The Undertaker defeated Randy Orton despite interference from Cowboy Bob Orton, who paired up with his boy to try and end the streak. This match was a little slow for my tastes, but that's the way ol' Taker and Randall like it, so that's what we get.

Women's Champion Trish Stratus defeated 2004 Diva Search winner Christy Hemme to retain the title. For those who don't know, the Diva Search was a contest where a bunch of ladies participated in very raunchy skits and competed for a WWE Divas contract... and then WWE hired a bunch of those ladies anyway, making the whole thing pointless, but that didn't stop WWE from doing this thing three more times or whatever.

So yes, Christy Hemme won a contract, got a title match at the biggest show of the year, and looked like someone who had no fucking clue what she was doing... and I'm not blaming her because we're in the Divas phase where Divas were hired more for looks than anything resembling wrestling talent. And I recall liking Christy; she had enough of a personality that she's one of the few Divas I could recall by name during a time when most of them were basically interchangeable Barbie dolls. Also, this was her first match... at Wrestlemania... against the reigning, defending Women's Champion, Trish Stratus, who had improved considerably in terms of in-ring talent. And Trish treated poorly Christy like a joke, she was demeaned, she was squashed, like it was a dead giveaway that Trish wasn't losing this match and this whole thing is just a complete and utter waste of time. It eventually gets to the point where this sort of thing becomes the norm as far as Diva matches are concerned and that's where the term "designated piss break" comes into play because if there's any match involving any non-wrestler Diva, it's not going to be worth watching. Unfair to the ladies? Perhaps, but I don't blame them. I blame the shit booking. I've always blamed the shit booking.

Now I'll give Christy this much; she stuck around for a little bit and then she made the jump to TNA and did some stuff there for the next decade before moving on to other things. 

Kurt Angle defeated Shawn Michaels via submission in a dream match that lives up to the hype. Shawn feels like a much better performer than he had ever been in his prime and Angle is just an absolute BEAST of a wrestling machine, showing shades of his future TNA element.

Sumo wrestler Akebono defeated The Big Show in a three-minute Sumo match. It's a proper Sumo match, too; they take down the ring ropes, they do the ceremonial salt, they both wear robes down to the ring... quite frankly, I'm amazed this was allowed on the show because this is an almost respectable presentation of the sport of sumo wrestling in this sports-entertainment program. I guess Vince was busy doing... yeah, I can't even go there without making it sound creepy, can I? Fuck...

John Cena defeated WWE Champion John Bradshaw Layfield to win the title and end the reign of JBL forever... and man, was this match bad. Cena was not quite the solid worker that he'd eventually become - no, seriously, why are you laughing? - and JBL was just kinda, sorta there. Also, JBL had been WWE Champion since June and THIS is how his reign ends? Somewhat underwhelming and watching this back then, you had no expectations that Cena would be a success in the main event ranks for very long. Fortunately, I think he turned out alright... for the most part.

Batista defeated World Heavyweight Champion McSon-In-Law to win the title in the main event... and yeah, this wasn't a very good match, either. Mind you, out of all the HHH Mania Main Event matches, I've labeled this one as the least worst of the bunch, if only because it did result in the crowning of a new champion and the coronation of a new main event star in Dave Batista... but rewatching this match again, I may have been too kind the first time around due to the end result being the right one. This was the typical McSon-In-Law main event match that has been a thing ever since he first got the Big Gold Belt in 2002 - it was slow, plodding, lacking any drama or emotion, and it dragged on for much longer than it needed to be. Fortunately, Big Dave turned out alright... for the most part.

In rewatching Wrestlemania 21, the one thing I noticed is how bad the two main title matches were as a whole and quite frankly, I'm amazed that both Cena and Batista made it out of 2005 with their titles intact, much less become major superstars for the rest of the decade (and a bit beyond for Cena). It seems like this was a show that you could easily stop after the Kurt/Shawn match and it'd be one of the best Manias in years. Everything after that match drags the show down considerably and there's also a bunch of stuff on the bulk of the show that made me wonder why they were booked in the first place, such as the weird Piper's Pit segment with Steve Austin (and no one would've expect these two to have heat with each other over podcasts a decade later) or the bit where Hulk Hogan saves the "disabled" child in Eugene from the evil foreigner in Muhammad Hassan (and I bet a good bunch of you younguns have nigh the slightest clue as to who Muhammad Hassan is). Still, even with that last fourth hour falling off a cliff, this was still a pretty good show. Not one of the all-time greats, but still a solid effort.

But seriously, the trailers are so worth watching again.

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