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WrestleMania 18: Passing of the torch

Hello, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome once again to yet another edition of WrestleMania Rewind. We’re still two weeks away from this year’s WrestleMania, and already the rumour has it that the gates have generated about 11 million dollars! Also, the cost of the buy rate of the PPV has gone up to nearly 70 dollars in HD! The lowest price of WrestleMania ticket is around 50 dollars. Yes, that’s what you get for being a couch potato. Not that I have any other choice; unless I can teleport to the venue, I’ll be buying the PPV. There are still two weeks of RAW left before we get to the destination though, and WWE has to pull out all the stops to hype up the event as they have done a very poor job till this point.

Anyway, last time, I had reviewed the best WrestleMania till now, WrestleMania 17, which received a perfect 5 star rating. The show had everything you’d need; great matches, great storytelling and an absolutely hot crowd which made the PPV enjoyable. The night ended with Austin turning heel and joining hands with the Devil himself, Vince McMahon. When the night ended, Austin was shaking hands with Vince. The PPV drew a lot of praise, and was one of the best PPVs in wrestling history. Going into next WrestleMania, it was pretty hard for WWF to outdo themselves. The main feud going into this year’s WrestleMania was between Hunter and Chris Jericho. Chris had won the WWF Undisputed title, and was the Undisputed champion when Hunter returned from his injury. He won the 2002 Royal Rumble, thus earning the right to face the champion at WrestleMania 18.

Steph and Hunter were in the middle of a storyline divorce. After a year later, they got married in real life. Irony at its best. Anyway, Steph had sided with Chris Jericho, who was a heel, while Hunter had turned face. The next big feud was between the Undertaker and Ric Flair. It started when Taker challenged Rock at No Way Out, only to ambush him the weeks prior to the match. Nature Boy, who was the co-owner of the WWF, openly criticized Taker, and even got involved in the match to cost Taker the victory. This led to Taker challenging Ric, who turned down the match. Taker started to attack Flair’s friends and family members, and this led to Flair accepting the challenge. The other main feud was between Rock/Austin and the NWO, who had come to the WWF after WCW folded. NWO tried to take over the WWF, which led to Rock and Austin joining forces to stop them. The PPV saw Rock taking on Hogan while Austin took on Scott Hall with Kevin Nash by his side.

This WrestleMania came to us live from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Skydome saw a record turn up of over 68,000 fans for the event, and grossed about 4 million dollars in gates! Some of the WCW and ECW stars were present in the WWF because of the Invasion storyline. Without further ado, let us get right to the action.

Under card:

Rob Van Dam defeated William Regal for the WWF Intercontinental Championship

The opening bout of the evening saw ‘Mr. Thursday Night’ Rob Van Dam taking on the British brawler, William Regal. After WWF purchased WCW and ECW, the invasion storyline began, and some of the ECW and WCW performers, who were still under contract, now were the employees of the WWF, and so was RVD. A solid opening match which was given about 7 minutes, and considering the match involved one of the finest technical wrestlers in Regal and one of the best high flyers in RVD, it delivered. The end came when RVD finished Regal off with a Five star frog splash for the pin and to win the WWF Intercontinental title to a huge ovation from the crowd. A very nice way to kick things off.

Diamond Dallas Page defeated Christian for the WWF European title

DDP came into the WWF with a very stupid angle, where he stalked Undertaker’s wife, Sara. But when DDP came out for the first time, he received one of the loudest pops in the WWF history! That showed he was way over with the crowd. Sadly, the feud with Taker was so bad that he became an afterthought. Anyway, DDP was Christian’s mentor, but Christian turned on him, and they had a match at WM for the European title. The match got about 7 minutes, and both men got their offenses in. The match came to an end when DDP countered Christian’s moves with a Diamond Cutter (Or the now RKO ~OUT OF NOWHERE~ for you kids) for the pin and to retain the European title. A decent match between two good workers.

Maven fought Goldust to a no contest in a Hardcore match for the WWF Hardcore Championship

Maven was the first ever Tough Enough winner, and he created shock waves in the WWF when he eliminated the Undertaker from Royal Rumble 2002. I hated him for that. This match was basically a filler, which had no point whatsoever, which went for over 3 minutes and followed Hardcore rules. Both the guys hit each other with weapons until Spike Dudley came out with another ref to pin Maven for the title. Yeah, stupid booking and stupid rules. After the match, Hurricane came swinging and pinned Spike to win the Hardcore title. Can I fast forward this?

Kurt Angle defeated Kane

The fourth match of the evening was between Kurt Angle and the Big Red Machine, Kane. This match was basically thrown in because neither of these guys had any other feud going on. After this, Kurt got into a feud with Chris Benoit, and delivered some of the greatest matches of all time. Anyway, this match got about 10 minutes, and they threw in all their moves. The end came when Kurt couldn’t pin Kane after the Angle Slam, so he figured out another way out by rolling him up with his foot on the ropes. A solid match between one of the best technical wrestlers and one of the best workers in the WWF.

Mid card:

The Undertaker defeated Ric Flair in a No Holds Barred Match

Taker came out to “Rollin’” song by Limp Bizkit. I loved the American Badass gimmick of the Undertaker. You could see he was more at home, more himself with this character. Anyway, Ric came out next to a good ovation, and it was Flair’s first WM match in 10 years! The match was given about 20 minutes, and they told a really good story. That’s what I like about the real legends working together. The match also saw a lot of blood, with Flair taking a beating, and Arn Anderson ran down to help his friend, but he took a beating too. Taker was 9 – 0 going into this WM. The end came when Undertaker gave Flair a Tombstone piledriver for the pin and to win the match. A really solid match which had a lot of intensity and good story telling involved.

Edge defeated Booker T

A feud which made no sense. It all started with a Shampoo commercial. Yeah, you heard it right. No, I’m not going to explain it. Anyway, Edge was in his hometown of Toronto, and Booker was the bad guy. They got about 6 minutes for the match, which was pointless. The end came when Edge hit the Edgecution DDT on Book – man for the pin and the win. An okay match which only got 6 – 7 minutes.

Backstage, Molly Holly hit Hurricane with a frying pan and pinned him to win the Hardcore title. I’m literally speechless. FFD.

Stone Cold Steve Austin defeated Scott Hall (With Kevin Nash)

Austin and the Rock were involved in a feud with the NWO. Anyway, this saw a face Austin taking on Hall with Nash by his side. At this point, Austin was worn down, and he wasn’t as involved as he was a year ago. Soon, he’d leave the WWF over an issue with Lesnar. More on that later. The match got about 10 minutes, and was basically a filler for Austin. This was the period when the “WHAT?” chants started. Oh joy. I absolutely laughed my head off at a comment Taker made during a promo with Flair regarding the “WHAT?” chants. I’m not going to say it here. Anyway, Nash tried to get involved but was sent out of the ring by Austin. Austin then hit Scott with multiple stunners for the pin and the win. An okay match considering these two guys could’ve done a much better job.

Billy and Chuck defeated The APA (Faarooq and Bradshaw), The Dudley Boyz (Bubba Ray and D-Von) (With Stacy Keibler) and The Hardy Boyz (Matt and Jeff Hardy) in a Four corner elimination match for the WWF Tag team championship

A match that was thrown in, and was nowhere near as good as the previous year’s WM match for the tag team gold in the TLC match. The first team to be eliminated was the APA, and then the Dudleys were eliminated next. The match got just under 15 minutes, and the last two teams were Billy and Chuck and the Hardys. The end came when Billy hit Jeff with the title for Chuck to take advantage and pin him for the win and to retain their titles. A very long and boring match, and the only good part of it was Stacy. Them legs!

Backstage, Christian pinned Molly to win the Hardcore title. My eyes!

The Rock defeated Hollywood Hulk Hogan

This was the “Passing of the torch” match between the face of the 80s and 90s and the face of the 2000s. Though Hulk was a heel, he got enormous baby face pops by the crowd, who were very hot for this match. They were chanting for Hogan and were booing the Rock, who was the face. The crowd was really excited about Hogan coming back to the WWF after nearly a decade. Anyway, the match got about 17 minutes and was average, but the crowd reaction and reception made it seem like a Bret – Austin classic. The crowd ate it up as Hogan and Rock traded punches. Hulk being himself, hulked up and delivered the leg drop, but Rock kicked out. A lot of intensity and emotion being shown in the match and the crowd really got behind it. The only other time the crowd was so into it was during the MITB ’11 match. Toronto crowd was red hot for Hogan, and the end came when Rock gave Hogan the people’s elbow for the pin and the win. After the match, Hogan shook Rock’s hand, and was attacked by Hall and Nash, but Rock made the save. In the end, they both did their signature poses. Wow, the crowd was unbelievable for this match.

Jazz defeated Trish Stratus and Lita in a triple threat match for the WWF Women’s title

The match involved two of the greatest women’s wrestlers, and one of the best brawlers in the women’s division. Although the match downright sucked, and was given about 6 minutes. Trish was from Toronto, but it looked like the crowd was exhausted after the Rock – Hogan match, and I don’t blame them. This match got no reaction, and the end came when Jazz delivered a Fisherman’s suplex to Lita from the top rope to retain her title.

Christian was leaving the arena when Maven attacked him, and rolled him up to pin him, and win the Hardcore title. Then he left in Christian’s taxi. Where’s Taker when you need him?


 

Main event:

Triple H defeated Chris Jericho (With Stephanie McMahon) for the Undisputed WWF Championship

Main event time. They got about 20 minutes to finish the match. Going into the match, you knew it would be a brawl. A good back and forth action, which also saw a table spot where Hunter was back dropped on the Spanish announcer’s table (Your cue, table. Gracias). Steph tried to get involved, but Triple H gave her a pedigree which got the loudest pop of the match. Jericho tried to take advantage, but Hunter came back and hit him with a pedigree for the pin and to win the WWF Undisputed title at the end of 18 minute mark. A decent main event which wasn’t as good as last year’s main event, but was a good way to end the show.

It was rumoured at this point that Vince was not happy with Jericho holding the title, and hence Hunter, being the good puppet master that he is, convinced Vince to put the title on him. However, only after a month, Hunter would drop the title to Hogan, who in turn would drop it to the Undertaker.

Analysis: *** ½ (Out of 5 stars)

A decent PPV which was nowhere near the caliber of the last year’s event. The crowd was hot only for one match, and towards the ending of the PPV, when the babyface over came the odds and defeated Jericho and his on – screen ex wife. A few months later, Triple H would turn heel during his feud with Shawn Michaels. Anyway, that basically sums up WrestleMania 18. Join us again as we continue to look back at previous WrestleManias while we’re on our way towards this year’s mega event.

Read the rest of the WrestleMania rewind series here

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