In the build-up to WrestleMania 32, the Flickering Myth writers look back at previous installments of the ‘Showcase of the Immortals’.
CM Punk vs. Mark Henry vs. Kane vs. MVP vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Kofi Kingston vs. Finlay vs. Christian (Money in the Bank Ladder Match)
‘Miss Wrestlemania’ Battle Royal
Chris Jericho vs. ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper, Jimmy Snuka & Ricky Steamboat (Handicap Match)
Matt Hardy vs. Jeff Hardy (Extreme Rules Match)
IC Title Match: Rey Mysterio vs. JBL
The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
World Heavyweight Title Match: Big Show vs. John Cena vs. Edge (Triple Threat Match)
WWE Title Match: Triple H vs. Randy Orton
One (admittedly minor) low-point of this WrestleMania was its title. Instead of simply calling it ‘WrestleMania 25’ or ‘WrestleMania XXV’, the show’s graphics department and Michael Cole insisted on calling it ‘The 25th Anniversary of WrestleMania’. Except that simply wasn’t the case, was it? If WrestleMania II was the first anniversary of WrestleMania (which it most certainly was), then this event was categorically the 24th anniversary show, and in the real 25th anniversary would have fact been the following year at ‘Mania XXVI. Yes, it’s an incredibly pedantic point, but it still bugs the hell out of me.
Moving on to the actual card, and I’m pleased to report that there are actually very few disappointments. The vast majority of the show was great; even the Intercontinental Title match (all 22 seconds of it) had a decent story behind it.
That being said, there is one match that lets the card down, and in massive way. The ‘Miss WrestleMania’ Battle Royal doesn’t seem like the worst idea on paper. Women’s matches are famously neglected at ‘Mania, and at least this would be a fun way to showcase as many female wrestlers as possible.
Unfortunately, this ‘showcase’ came at time when the women’s roster was particularly weak; back when Vince preferred to employ Playboy models rather than athletes. The match was pretty bad from the start, but it’s the end of the match that really leaves a sour taste in your mouth. After the final elimination, the victor stood tall in the ring and ‘Miss WrestleMania’ was crowned. Who was that winner? Santino Marella.
Yes, the only women’s match on the card was won by a male wrestler. Just think on that for a second. The WWE has rarely treated its female competitors with any respect, but this has to surely be the ultimate low-point.
Ok, so you can probably guess where this one is going.
Credit where it’s due, the WWE came up with a pitch-perfect way to celebrate WrestleMania’s (faux)anniversary; by having two of the event’s biggest icons square off against each other. In one corner was the Undertaker: the owner of an unprecedented 16-0 winning streak at ‘Mania. In the other corner was the man who had single-handedly stolen the show at the last six consecutive WrestleManias; ‘The Heartbreak Kid’ Shawn Michaels.
Any match involving these two was always going to be good, but this half-hour epic exceeded everyone’s expectations. In what has since been called ‘The Greatest ‘Mania Match of All Time’, HBK and Undertaker held nothing back. After a slow build, the match evolved into a series of breath-taking high-spots.
One such spot saw ‘the Deadman’ flying over the top rope and taking a nasty spill into a cameraman. Clearly the ‘cameraman’ had missed his mark and should have been closer to the ring as to break ‘Taker’s fall. Instead, Undertaker over-rotated and basically landed on his head. Fun Side-Note: the cameraman was played by Sim Snuka, also known as Deuce from former Tag Team Champs Deuce & Domino.
In the end, The Streak would live on as the Undertaker was victorious. Both men received a well-deserved standing ovation. Fans and members of the wrestling industry alike have since praised this match in the highest regard, with Jim Ross telling the television audience that he was honoured to have called such a classic. Perhaps my favourite reaction to this match is that of Triple H, who immediately sought out Randy Orton backstage to inform that their upcoming main event was doomed, as there was no way to follow that Taker and Michaels.
The silver anniversary of WrestleMania (urgh!) was a fitting one. The show had a strong card across the board, while Undertaker versus Shawn Michaels is the stuff of wrestling folklore.
Money in the Bank continued to impress with Shelton Benjamin stealing the show once again (he was such an underrated talent!). Chris Jericho versus the legends was also a pleasant surprise, with Ricky Steamboat proving that he can still work a great match, even in his advancing years. The two main events weren’t bad either, although I think they receive a harsh reputation due to the fact they followed one of the greatest matches of all time.
If you haven’t seen the Michaels vs Undertaker, watch it. If you have seen it, watch it again. Even if you loathe professional wrestling as a whole concept, watch this match! It is entertainment in its rawest of forms and makes WrestleMania 25 well worth revisiting.
Jackson Ball – Follow me on Twitter and LinkedIn