Experiencing WM25 Across the Pond: A Late Night in Nottingham
It was a surprising day in Manchester, no rain, no cold wind, and sunny warmth in abundance. It could only mean one thing, finally, Sunday the 5th of April was here, Wrestlemania day was upon us!
As a student at the University of Nottingham, I watch wrestling with some really good mates at their student house, but unfortunately Wrestlemania fell right in the middle of our four-week Easter holiday, and I'm at home 70 or so miles away.
Now when I'm at home I watch Raw and Smackdown withmy brother, and will text my friends withthoughts during the show.
But this was Wrestlemania.
So, at half 5...ish, I naturally set off on the two-hour drive back to Nottingham with my brother.
"So you're going to drive all that way, shelling out on petrol, food, and drink to watch something on tele that you could watch here for a mere £15?" had been the repeated question from my parents over the last two weeks, followed every time by the perplexed shake of the head when I answered "of course."
So two and a bit hours later we were partaking of a barbeque with Gooch, Dustie, and JT, beers in hand, burgers on buns, and already decided that the day was goingtoo slow for our liking and Wrestlemania needed to start sooner than midnight.
Then we saw there was a Hall of Fame repeat on Sky Sports at 10.30 that evening. Jackpot.
The Hall of Fame ceremony took place at 3 AM Englishtime, and we'd all decided it wasn't worth the risk of falling asleep mid Wrestlemania to watch HoFlive, so getting to watch it pre-Mania was a bonus.
So, after about two-and-a-half hours of barbequeing, watching football (soccer) highlights on tele, and reading Lads' Mags (or looking at semi-clothed women is probably the more accurate term), we tuned in to the Hall of Fame repeat.
And promptly switched over again when we realised Stone Cold wasn't on 'til last.
Yeah, alright, so we're shallow and only wanted to see Stone Cold as we're all too young to remember some of the other greats. Sorry.
Another 45 minutes or so and we watched Stone Cold immortalized in the WWE Hall of Fame. Then it hit us, only half an hour left.
Excitement grew and we all hit the caffeine, and then got the snacks and beers ready for the show. Three of us wandered down the road to the local shop for some Budweisers ready for in case Austin decided to raise some hell later.
Giddy as we were, Dustie's Stone Cold Stunner to Gooch in the middle of Sainsburys followed by a quick-count by myself and the surprised and highly amused expressions on the faces of the other shoppers didn't seem outlandish at all.
Then it was time. "Welcome to Wrestlemania 25!"
Nicole Sherzinger's (or however the hell you spell it) fairly good but unspectacular rendition of America the Beautiful naturally led to a last minute toilet break here in England, as none of us wanted to miss the real action.
Money in the Bank. Or, as I like to call it, the most shocking result of the night. CM Punk again? Really?
The match itself was great, despite a couple of botched moves.
Mark Henry showed why he was in the match (he's the only one strong enough to hold the ladder upright while Kofi jumps up it), Shelton yet again showed why he's widely appreciated as the best athlete in the WWE.
Christian showed a couple of great moves, Kane gave the weakest chokeslam ever off the top but was generally quite good, CM Punk and Kofi flew around as usual, and MVP and Finlay were... well... in the match too.
When Christian unbalanced the ladder only to catch himself on the ropes and spring himself back up, that was the winning move. That should have won him the match. Or at least when Punk got his leg caught surely it had to be Kane or Christian. Nope.
CM Punk is Mr Money in the Bank again, despite getting the mother of all pushes last year (grand slam in the space of a few months) and still not forcing himself into the main event regulars. Disappointing.
Then 10 minutes of crap from Kid Rock leading straight into the dumping of a huge load of the aforementioned crap onto the entire divas division.
No entrance music, no recognition of the former divas who came back just for this, a botched match-start as Mae Young rang the bell before the match was even introduced, botched moves by Gail Kim and a couple of others, and to top it all off, it was won by "Santina Marella, I am Santino's twin sister from Italy. Yay!"
Urgh. Add to that the fact that none of the announce team actually said straight out that it was glaringly obvious that it was Santino, and you have an embarrassment that all wrestling fans...and most of the participants will want to bury in the past as soon as possible.
It's one tiny saving grace was that, well, it was full of incredibly hot women. I love Kelly Kelly. And Eve Torres. They should have just had those two have a wet t-shirt contest. For once that would have actually have been less degrading to the diva division.
Then came the legends, and one of the best wrestling displays of the night. No, not Chris Jericho...Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat. He was sensational, and it was great to see him in such good shape and showing us exactly why he's a Hall of Famer.
He didn't look at all out of place against one of the top superstars of the modern era.
Standard result that Jericho won, standard WWE that the celeb knocked seven bells out of the superstar after the "Hollywood" match for this year.
Next up, the match a couple of us had picked out to be among the best of the night. Hardy vs Hardy, going Extreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeme.
Decent match in all fairness. I have to admit I was hoping for a bit more from the two, but they put on a fairly good show, good spot with the tables, a great shot from...A HOOVER??!!...and a big miss from the top of the ladder by Jeff allowing Matt to hit what looked like an incredibly painful Twist of Fate for the win.
Best bit was the result, it leaves those two in a feud for a couple of months. I'm hoping for a TLC at Summerslam.
Then the WWE dumped all over the IC title again. They obviously felt they hadn't done that enough recently.
JBL's entrance tune for the match should have been "I got 21 seconds to go..."
It was embarrassing. Really embarrassing. Twenty-one seconds for the historic Inter-continental title at the 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania. Plus it was seemingly the end of the road for Smackdown's longest reigning World Champion. What a joke.
All I can say is hopefully Rey Rey will bring some meaning back to the title. How cool was his entrance by the way!!!
It was at this point that they started to build up the 'Taker vs Michaels match. Which prompted the question amongst myself and my friends "What about the tag match?"
"No, surely not?!" followed by a scrambled logging on to the laptop and wwe.com came from JT. Very confused, the rest of us stared as he turned the laptop towards us with a cry of "What the ****, how can that be a ****ing dark match??!!"
The Unification of the Tag Titles, built up for weeks, and one of the big draws as we looked forward to a rejuvenation of the tag division, was a dark match. Now that was one of the biggest disappointments of my night. Even the fact that the Colons beat Miz and Morrison was less of a disappointment.
Do the WWE enjoy absolutely crapping all over their own titles and divas? IC title match, 21 seconds. Tag title unification, not deemed worthy of a place on tv. Divas match, one big joke.
Not a great Mania so far by any stretch. We were sat there feeling fairly let down so far... and this is despite the numerous beers we'd already seen off. Plus I was running out of peanut MnM's.
Then came The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels.
And all was forgiven. Best match ever? In my personal opinion, it's right up there. With Myself, my brother, and Dustie rooting for 'Taker, and JT and Gooch hoping for an end to the Streak, this match provided all the screaming, shouting, jumping up and down, and WOOOOOOOO's that any fan could hope for.
Pure quality throughout, with some ridiculous spots from both of the Legends (Yeah that's right they get a capital letter). I thought 'Taker had broken his neck when he dived over the ropes, and HBKtook one hell of a fall just before that with his moonsault to the outside.
Result? Best possible. Shawn yet again was in the match of the year, and the Streak lives on. Perfect. And brilliant.
Now the title matches kicked in. None of us were massively bothered about the Triple Threat, although Cenaagain had a quality entrance. Loved it, especially the fact he started out with his Thugonomics music.
I have to admit I was impressed he picked up Big Show AND Edge at the same time. That's some big strength there.
Cena winning, meh. It's alright. Edge vs Cena at Backlash? Fair enough.
Then one of the best moments of my night. Stone Cold Steve Austin doing what he does best. Raising hell and soaking the ring in beer.
As I mentioned earlier, we were prepared, and all joined in a toast to the Hall of Famers, Austin style. Their living room...and my Cenat-shirt...are now all completely soaked with the remnants of our "Steve-weisers". Gimme a Hell Yeah. Great fun.
Triple H vs Orton. Another split room, although we were all fairly happy for either to win in the long run. Enjoyed HHH's entrance through the glass, and one of the lads produced some baby oil to compare himself to Orton. It suits Randy better.
The match was fairly good, enjoyed the early RKO and Pedigree, and the spike DDT off the spanish announce table was top class. Was it just me or was Triple H's win tinged with all the characteristics of a heel win?
RKO'd but the ref is down? Sledgehammer use while the ref is still down? Heel turn anyone? He is very good at it.
Anyway, that was that. Wrestlemania25 had been a very mixed bag. I was disappointed with some of the results, but happy with others. I was amazed at the standard of Ricky Steamboat's wrestling, and privileged to have seen HBK and the Undertaker put on an incredible show. And disgusted at the IC and tag title matches, and a little embarrassed for the divas.
And I'd had an amazing night. It was Wrestlemania night, it was 4 AM, we'd drank copious amounts of beer, and the room and ourselves were completely soaked with the Budweisers we'd smashed together and poured down our faces.
Wrestlemania 25 delivered exactly what I wanted, a great show, at least one unforgettable match, and a night with the lads I'll remember for a long time. What more can you ask for?
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