Twenty-five glorious years in the making, and only one question to ask... Was it worth the wait?
For twenty-five years the WWE Universe waited for Sunday March 5th, 2009. They expected an extravaganza from WrestleMania’s 25th anniversary, and so they should. WrestleMania has built a reputation of being the biggest event in sports entertainment over the past twenty-five years, and every year promises to be bigger than the last. Just how do you measure the success of WrestleMania though? You can’t do it through viewing figures; people across the globe watch it despite how good the event is. The only feasible way to rank the twenty-fifth instalment of WrestleMania in comparison to the twenty-four which preceded it would be to use the five star rating system, so I’m going to do just that.
Over the course of this article I will break each match and key moment (music segments, cut scenes, etc.) down based on its key moments and eventual winners, before giving each match a rating between one and five stars. So, let’s get started...
Nicole Scherzinger kicks off WrestleMania
The first thing the WWE Universe has come to expect from WrestleMania over recent years is that it will open with a rendition of “America the Beautiful” by a successful singer or band. Last year John Legend had the honour and his rendition was seemingly unbeatable. This proved to be true, as Scherzinger’s rendition seemed to lack anything which would make it memorable, and appeared to get weaker toward the end. Fortunately, people came to see wrestling matches so this was a minor fault to kick things off, and the effort was easily overshadowed by the video package which was presented to introduce what the fans came to Texas for, the matches.
CM Punk defeats Kane, Kofi Kingston, Christian, Mark Henry, Finlay, Shelton Benjamin and Montel Vontavious Porter to make history by winning Money in the Bank for the second consecutive year
This was a great choice of opening match to truly kick WrestleMania off, which provided a number of moments which will live on in WrestleMania history as death-defying and innovative. Whether it was Shelton Benjamin performing a Swanton Bomb-esque move from the top of a twenty foot ladder onto seven (count it) opponents, Kofi Kingston jumping over a ladder before delivering said ladder to the stomachs of two of his opponents via a dropkick, or Christian delivering the Unprettier to Finlay from atop a ladder structure (which would later be used as a runway) to the mat, this match provided what it had for the previous four years’ instalments and more. Having given the Houston fans a taste of what was to come from the night, this match was the perfect (minus a few poorly-timed manoeuvres) representation of the ladder match, and even made the inclusion of Mark Henry look like he could have a part to play in it.
Kid Rock plays his set and sings the Divas to the ring
The second musical segment of the night was provided in what seemed to be a fifteen minute mini-concert showcasing the many songs of Kid Rock, one of which I had ever heard before (“All Summer Long”), and closed with a live performance of one of the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania’s theme songs (“So Hot”). The set of songs Kid Rock sang were not of the greatest calibre and seemed like a waste of time which could have been used to show the inexplicably unaired Unification Tag Team Championship match. The only song which served any purpose in the segment was “So Hot” which was used as an entrance theme for the Miss WrestleMania Battle Royal participants. The segment seemed like a way to plug Kid Rock’s latest single and nothing more, therefore I deem it a failure.
Santina causes suspicion by winning the Miss WrestleMania 25 Diva Battle Royal
This match began almost destined to be poor when it started before the camera could switch from Kid Rock to the ring, but soon became a competitive match in comparison to the usual squash matches which previous diva-featuring WrestleMania matches were. There were two positive aspects this match, which were the fact that it featured several former WWE Divas (Torrie Wilson, and Victoria to name a few) and it provided the annual comedic moment which WrestleMania often throws in. What seemed like a genuine contest for almost five minutes soon became linked to Santino Marella’s constant attempts to be included in the match in the weeks prior to WrestleMania, as a suspicious character revealed after the match as Santina Marella (allegedly Santino’s twin sister from Italy) would win. Although making the match a waste of time for the biggest event of the year, it provided something to laugh at whilst getting the crowd to start a “Santino” chant, which is always a positive in my books.
Chris Jericho schools three Hall-of-Famers before being given a boxing lesson by “The Wrestler”
I was one of the sceptics who thought Jericho deserved to be given a chance at a World Championship at this year’s WrestleMania, but I was pleasantly surprised to see him handle the task of carrying two of the three Hall-of-Famers throughout the match. While “The Dragon” was the only Legend to show that he had any true ability left in him, the match was a good watch. Jericho would go on to win but the match provided something which seemed to be a necessity for the silver spoon anniversary of WrestleMania, a “one last chance” moment which Mickey Rourke depicted in “The Wrestler”, and was the beginning of the feud which took Jericho, the Hall-of-Famers and Rourke himself to WrestleMania. The real action took place after the match, however, as after Jericho disposed of Ric Flair he called Rourke into the ring, only for Jericho to receive a left hook which sent him to the mat. The match in itself was reasonable, and seeing Rourke drop Jericho to the canvas even satisfied this Jerichoholic.
“The Phenom” Undertaker extends his WrestleMania streak to 17-0 by pinning “Mr. WrestleMania” Shawn Michaels
In order to understand how good this match was without seeing it, you have to think back to WrestleMania X8’s “Icon vs. Icon” classic featuring The Rock and “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan... and then double the brilliance of it. This match had been in the making for years, and should have really been a main event match. The build-up for the contest had been amazing, and even the entrances were worthy of main event status (the heaven and hell approach worked wonders), but nothing could have prepared the fans for what was to be delivered in the actual match. The hype was lived up to and surpassed effortlessly by the charisma of the two future legends, and both superstars had to pull out everything they had in order to put the other away. Eventually the streak would prevail (which was a personal disappointment) but if a match can outclass that of “Icon vs. Icon” it is worthy of a five star rating, and could quite easily be called the best match of WrestleMania 25 and the best match in the streak’s illustrious history.
Jeff Hardy’s extreme nature costs him the “Brother vs. Brother” Extreme Rules match
So “Brother vs. Brother” isn’t a concept which is new to WrestleMania, but Matt and Jeff Hardy know how to make any match unique. Both feuding brothers brought the element of extreme to their WrestleMania meeting, and made the efforts of the Hart brothers’ pure wrestling match seem like an age of difference in comparison. Both Hardys went to the extreme in the weeks leading to WrestleMania, but once the match was upon them they took extreme to a whole new level. The two battled back and forth until Jeff took control by crashing through a table sandwich with a Mattitude and chair filling. This would, however, lead to the “Extreme Enigma’s” downfall as he tried to punish Matt further with a twenty-foot high leg drop. In return for his failed attempt, he received a devastating Twist of Fate from his equally extreme counterpart which would cost him the match and wrap up one of the best extreme rules matches in WWE history.
JBL delivers on his promise to make WrestleMania history after a shocking loss to Rey Mysterio, crowning “The Master of the 619” the new Intercontenental Champion
JBL claimed to have seen his destiny of making history at WrestleMania months before the “Granddaddy of them all”, but no one could have predicted just how he would do that, even the man himself. After assaulting a Rey Mysterio, who had applied a Joker-esque look to his ever changing WrestleMania attire, before the bell had rung on their championship match, JBL received seemingly the shock of the night when Mysterio would land the 619 mere seconds into the match before landing a top rope splash for the win. This shock would be nothing compared to what JBL would do next, he would utter the words “I quit” and leave the WWE Universe in the ultimate shock.
John Cena delivers an attitude adjustment to his love-struck opponents to emerge victorious with the World Heavyweight Championship
The World Heavyweight Championship was defended for the third time since WrestleMania XX in a triple threat match, but this time there was more on the line than the World Heavyweight Championship. The love of Vickie Guerrero was something two thirds of this heavyweight equation was fighting for, and while Cena had made Guerrero and Big Show’s affair public knowledge he was determined to save the World Heavyweight Championship from the chaos which had ensued. The match was dominated by the Big Show’s sheer size advantage, and in my opinion should have had a Show-stopping end. Had Cena not been able to lift the 700-plus pound combined weight of his two adversaries that may have been the case, but drilling Show with an Attitude Adjustment and then dropping Edge’s weight onto his already prone body was enough for Cena to pick up the win and end what was a relatively mediocre match.
Randy Orton’s attempt to play “The Game” failed after “The Viper” was victim to Triple H and his sledgehammer
Randy Orton had caused The McMahon family months of torment since before the Royal Rumble and eventually became obsessed with gaining revenge for “The Game’s” betrayal of the then youngest World Heavyweight Champion in history, while Triple H was looking to gain revenge for the treatment his family had received at the hands of Orton and his “Legacy”. The match looked to be as shocking as it’s build up when the RKO was delivered to “The Game” mere minutes into the match. Orton’s luck would soon change though, as he would receive a Pedigree in retaliation. From there on out the match would get more and more brutal, and with each blow the drama and tension built up. At the peak of the tension Orton seemed as though he was unbeatable no matter what Triple H hit him with. That was until the referee was knocked out and Triple H took his chance to gain his revenge via the use of his trademark sledgehammer. A shot to Orton’s head was enough to finally finish off the “Legend Killer” and “The Game” had regained his WWE Championship in the most brutal match in recent WrestleMania history.
So does WrestleMania’s 25th Anniversary live up to its hype?
After reviewing every match and key moment at this year’s WrestleMania, it’s clear there were some poor moments (unfortunately for WWE’s annual extravaganza) and some moments which will always be remembered. Fortunately the later outweighed the poor moments, which sways the 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania into my good books. This WrestleMania provided what every WrestleMania provides, memories and shocks. For that alone it is a success, and while the main event was nowhere near being called the best match (that crown goes to the Michaels vs. Undertaker epic) it was still an unforgettable night which deserves the praise it will no doubt receive for years to come.