Sunday, April 5, 2009

WrestleMania XXV recap and thoughts

Unfortunately the bout to unify the Tag Team Titles was a dark match because I think the two teams could have put on a nice show. In a bit of a surprise, Carlito and Primo defeated Miz and Morrison. We probably haven't seen the last of this feud, unless WWE decides to push Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase and gives them a run at the new champs.

The Money in the Bank match had some nice spots but WWE went the predictable rout with CM Punk winning again. The crowd clearly wanted Christian to take home the briefcase but Vince McMahon's obvious disdain for "Captain Charisma" wouldn't allow that. Shelton Benjamin's dive off the ladder onto the group of wrestlers on the outside may have been the highlight of this match, with Kofi Kingston pulling some nice moves as well.

Then came the Kid Rock concert, which seemed like it put the fans to sleep. The rapper-turned-rocker-turned-country crooner performed songs from a decade ago, followed by some of his newer material. At the end of his routine the divas came to the ring for the 25-Diva "Ms. WrestleMania" battle royal.

The announcing was pretty putrid for this one and they didn't showcase, or really even mention, any of the returning ladies, like Tammy Sytch, Torrie Wilson or Molly Holly. Victoria had a nice run in the battle royal, but it was won by Santino Marella, dressed as a woman and claiming to be a twin sister of Marella's named "Santina." It was logical to make this the comedic bout of the night.

Ricky "The Dragon" Steamboat was more than impressive in the ring as he carried the legends in the elimination handicapped tag match. Roddy Piper looked absolutely pathetic, at one point getting caught in the ropes -- which wasn't planned -- and looking like a beached whale. Jimmy Snuka wasn't any better and, wisely, those two men got knocked out early. Jericho and Steamboat put on a pretty decent show with Jericho finally getting the pin, then calling out Mickey Rourke. The star of "The Wrestler" came into the ring and, after dragging out the showdown way too long, connected with a punch to Jericho's face, knocking him down and out of the ring. Then "friends" Ric Flair and Rourke embraced and showboated around the ring.

The brother v. brother grudge match was up next and had all the hardcore spots one would expect. It ended with Matt connecting with a "Twist of Fate" on Jeff with his head wedged in an open chair. A nice finishing move to end a good match. This feud is likely far from over.

In a bit of a twist it was Rey Mysterio defeating JBL in 21 seconds, after JBL had been boasting he would win in dominating fashion. JBL then grabbed the mic and screamed, "I Quit!" It was rumored that he would retire, but I thought it would end a little differently.

Next up was, without a doubt, the match of the night. Shawn Michaels was lowered from above the entrance way, wearing all white, while The Undertaker rose up from below. Oh, the symbolism. The crowd was rocking for this one and the two veterans put on an absolute show in a match that could easily be the match of the year. There was one scary spot where Undertaker dove over the top rope to the outside and almost broke his neck. The crowd even started a "This is Awesome" chant. It ended with a great spot, Michaels trying a moonsault with Undertaker catching him and delivering a Tombstone piledriver after many near-three-counts.

John Cena, Edge and Big Show had to be thinking, "Great, we get to follow that." They delivered a decent match, nonetheless, with Cena scoring the pinfall on Big Show after hoisting Show and Edge on his shoulders at the same time, giving Show the "Attitude Adjustment" and then giving one to Edge on top of Big Show. It was the likely finish but I was hoping for a bit of a swerve here.

I have to be honest, the final match between Randy Orton and Triple H was pathetic. The crowd was out of it and it was the typical slow, boring, snoozefest that we've come to expect from Trips. In an illogical finish, Triple H used the sledgehammer with the ref knocked out, then delivered a series of punches, followed by a "Pedigree" to get the win. Isn't that how the heel usually wins? I thought WWE creative really botched this one. After three months of building up Orton as a mighty heel who couldn't be stopped, Triple H pretty much had his way with "The Legend Killer." Vince, Stephanie and Shane McMahon didn't come to ringside, nor did Rhodes or DiBiase. Just a poor, poor job of booking. I know WWE likes to have the show end with a babyface getting the win, with the pyro going nuts, and all that. But that was just weak. The crowd cheered at the end, mostly happy that it was over.

In all, it was a good WrestleMania and most of that credit goes to 'Taker and HBK for delivering a match that exceeded high expectations. From a booking standpoint, though, this was a pretty "cookie cutter" show with all the obvious finishes happening and faces walking out with all the titles.

That will conclude the wrestling portion of this blog. We now return you to your regularly scheduled sports blogging.

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