In 2005, WWE WrestleMania went to Los Angeles. In an expected move, the company decided to turn their biggest event of the year into a "movie."
During the weeks leading up the show, WWE aired many spoofs of famous movies in the past. While most were memorable, what fans really cared about was the big matches.
Did they come through on the "big screen?"
Let's find out!
I understand why WWE did this.
I get it.
Sadly, it just didn't go well.
Big Show taking on Akebono in a "worked" Sumo match was interesting to see.
It was very odd, and I hope to never live through it again.
Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme was not exactly a dream match in 2005.
While the Women's title was on the line, I had no desire to see this.
Christy was fairly new, and Trish was not going to lose here.
Thus, it was a short match with zero question as to the outcome. Even Lita appearing ringside for Ms. Hemme was not going to matter.
Chalk up another loss for a Playboy cover girl in WWE!
Roddy Piper returned to Wrestle Mania with a special segment with Stone Cold Steve Austin.
Yes, Piper's Pit was back in a big, big way.
The two talked for awhile, before Carlito made his way down to the ring.
More talk continued, until Austin took out both of them and drank beer.
As you can tell, there just wasn't too much to this. It was fun, but nothing "must see."
Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero were reigning WWE tag-team champions.
However, both were seemingly going to be left off the main card (like Booker T).
Lucky for us, the two decided to face each other in a match.
The situation was interesting, but that didn't matter.
Friends or foes, Rey and Eddie knew exactly what to do inside the squared circle. Wrestle Mania XXI was no different, as this opening match was very good.
Eddie lost to Rey (again), and their feud in 2005 was just getting started.
Randy Orton was a newly turned heel.
Undertaker had just spent months feuding with Heidenreich.
Both men needed this match.
Orton was on Raw, and Taker was on SmackDown, but I can't imagine what else they would have done at this event.
As usual, the finish was never in doubt, but I still loved the ending sequence. The huge chock slam reversed into an RKO was absolutely spectacular.
Eugene was in the ring, and Muhammad Hassan came out to talk down to him.
With Daivari as his manager, it was already a two-on-one situation.
After a few words, the heels began to beat down the lovable face.
Only one man could save him...
Yes, the red and yellow came out to a huge roar from the audience. His WWE Hall of Fame induction the night before was not his only reason for being there.
In no time, Hogan cleared out the bad guys, and the celebration was on.
JBL won the WWE Title in June of 2004.
Wow, was the backlash severe!
"He didn't deserve it." "Why was he champion?" "Stupid politics!" "WWE should have kept the strap on Eddie Guerrero." "I am never watching wrestling again!"
I never understood that type of reaction.
It was the same thing with Sheamus in 2009, and it will likely come up again sometime in the future when a new character is in the main event.
As usual, WWE knows what they are doing.
As JBL retained his gold month after month, the company was building up John Cena. Logic sure seemed to point toward an inevitable WWE Championship match between the two.
On April 3rd, 2005, we got it!
Cena defeated JBL for the gold, and the rest is history.
This was the main event of the evening.
Triple H was defending his World Title against Batista.
Just like the Blue Brand in late 2004, WWE decided to keep the title on its top heel for much of the year.
Also like the Blue Brand, WWE knew exactly what they were doing.
As Triple H picked up win after win, Batista was slowly gaining more and more fan support. As soon as the crowd was ready to buy into him as a legitimate threat, he won the Royal Rumble!
From then on, it was only a matter of time until there was a new champion on Raw.
Sure enough, Batista defeated Triple H in the closing match of WrestleMania.
I have said this before, but I have never ranked my favorite matches of all time.
Having been a wrestling fan for more than 20 years, I just never felt the need to.
If I ever did, this match would be near the top.
Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XXI was about as perfect as a match can get.
The story was intense. Both wrestlers were believable, and each man brought their best.
It was another Raw vs. SmackDown battle, but it didn't really matter. Angle and Michaels were just set out to prove who was better.
The best part about this match was the ending. Not who won. Not how long the match was. Not the great call. Not the crowd reaction.
No. The best part of this entire match was that it was strictly one-on-one.
There was no outside interference. There was no confusing finish. There was no referee nonsense. It was strictly one all-time great losing to another.
Kurt Angle made Shawn Michaels tap out in the middle of the ring.
The days of Stone Cold, The Rock, Shawn Michaels, Triple H, Undertaker, Kane and Big Show winning main events every month was over.
It was now time for the next generation of talents to take over.
John Cena, Batista, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Edge (who won Money in the Bank earlier in the evening) and others were ready. It was now their chance to shine!
Yes, the veterans were still there. Yes, a lot of things stayed the same. That didn't matter!
It was clear that the tide was turning in the company. Years later, you can look back and see exactly what WWE was doing here.
Kurt Angle beat Shawn Michaels clean. Randy Orton started coming into his own as a heel.
John Cena and Batista both went nearly a year straight as champion. Edge and Mysterio both were featured and won major gold less than a year later.
The new era of the business was upon us.
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