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WrestleMania 20: The Cinderella story

Hello everyone, and welcome once again to yet another edition of WrestleMania Rewind. We’ve completed reviews of the first 19 WrestleManias, and our next stop is the mecca of Sports Entertainment, Madison Square Garden. Garden was the venue for 2 WrestleManias before, WrestleManias 1 and 10, and this was the third time WWE chose MSG as a WrestleMania venue. Watching this WrestleMania would be pretty hard for all the professional wrestling fans, as the people who walked out with the two major titles aren’t with us anymore. What makes it worse is how the night ended, and how Chris Benoit’s life came to an end. Times were changing in the WWE as new faces were emerging to take the spotlight. Kurt Angle was the challenger for the WWE title. At No Way Out, Brock Lesnar lost the WWE title to Eddie Guerrero, thus getting into a full fledged feud with Goldberg. On the next episode of SmackDown!, Kurt Angle turned his back on Eddie and attacked him, thus setting up their rivalry. On RAW, Chris Benoit won the Royal Rumble, thus earning the right to face the World Heavyweight Champion at WrestleMania. HBK was inserted into the match, as he was still feuding with Triple H.

The other upper card matches going into WrestleMania 20 saw a returning Undertaker taking on his half brother Kane, for the second time in WrestleMania history. John Cena, Randy Orton, Batista and Goldberg made their WrestleMania debuts, and while the first 3 went on to achieve bigger fame in the WWE, the last one did not. Christian and Chris Jericho’s feud was also going strong, as Jericho faced Christian in a memorable match. Cena faced Big Show for the US Championship, while Rock and Foley teamed up to face 3 members of Evolution, as Foley and Orton were engaged in a bitter feud, and Orton’s ‘Legend Killer’ gimmick was taking off. Without further ado, let us get right down to the action.

Boys Choir sing America The Beautiful to open the show.

Under card:

John Cena defeated Big Show to become the US Champion

This was Cena’s first WM match, and he opened the show to face the Big Show. From the next WM onwards, however, he would be in the main event. Oh how big of a push did he receive?! Anyway, Cena was way over with the fans at this point with his rapper gimmick, and was very entertaining. Show came out to a lot of jeers and boos. I love the MSG crowd. Match received about 10 minutes, and was very slow (Considering Big Show was in it as well as Cena, I’m not surprised), although the crowd was into it. Cena gave Show the FU (That is what it was called, remember?) for the pin and to win the US title. Crowd liked it! Today isn’t the same case, however.

RVD & Booker T defeated La Resistance, Garrison Cade & Mark Jindrak and the Dudley Boyz in a Fatal four way for the World Tag team championship

Booker T came down the card from being a contender for the title last year, and RVD was gaining momentum as his WWE run went along. They took on La Resistance, Cade & Jindrak and the Dudleys. The match received about 8 minutes, and the crowd was behind the Dudleys for a bit. The end came when Booker hit the scissors kick on Conway and RVD came down with the frog splash for the pin and the win. A boring match that got about 8 minutes, and the crowd wasn’t into it.

Christian defeated Chris Jericho (With Trish)

Two of my favorite wrestlers went one on one in the third bout of the night. The story behind the match was that both the Canadian buddies made a bet about Trish and Lita, but Jericho fell for Trish. This led to him becoming a fan favorite once again. The match got about 15 minutes, which was decent. The match ended when Trish ran out, and when Jericho laid hands on her from behind, she thought it was Christian and hit him with her elbow. Christian rolled Jericho up for the pin and the win. Post match, Trish realized it was Jericho, and apologized. But Trish turned heel and decked Jericho, enabling Christian to hit the Unprettier (Killswitch as it is known now). They both kissed at the top of the ramp and Jericho was heartbroken. Excellent match between two of the best workers.

Evolution defeated the Rock n’ Sock connection in a 3 on 2 Handicap match

Mick was back in the ring after 4 years and Rock was a part timer. This match was to put Evolution over. The match received about 18 minutes, and was surprisingly very good! Normally, handicap matches are all over the place, but this match had really good psychology and in-ring awareness, and that is what you get when you have three veterans in the ring. There were some really good spots, and the crowd was into it for the majority of the match. The hot tag sequence was brilliantly done, and the whole match came out well packaged. The end came when Foley came in, but was met with an RKO for the pin and the win by Orton for Evolution. After this, Orton would feud with Mick for a bit more, and Mick put him over for his eventual run as the World champion later that year. Post match, the crowd gave Rock and Foley a standing ovation. A really good sign of appreciation by the MSG crowd.

Torrie Wilson and Sable defeated Stacy Keibler and Miss Jackie in an Evening gown match

Apparently, this is how WWE follows up after the 3 on 2 Handicap match. Bathroom break for the fans, as this match was a filler. I was more amused with the Tazz-Cole commentary. I just complimented Cole, and I don’t like admitting it. The end came when Torrie rolled up Jackie for the pin at the 3 minute mark. Awful match.

Backstage, Eddie shook hands with the guys as they were happy for him, and he entered Benoit’s locker room where he was pacing around. Eddie tried to comfort Chris, and told him nobody believes that he would win the title. Chris got upset and said, “I believe in me! I believe in me!” and asked Eddie why he was turning his back on him now, after a decade. Eddie smiled and said he wanted to pump Benoit up, and said “I believe, Chris”. Wow, a powerful segment and watching it makes me really sad.

Chavo Guerrero (With Chavo Guerrero Sr.) defeated Último Dragón, Shannon Moore, Jamie Noble, Funaki, Nunzio, Billy Kidman, Rey Mysterio, Tajiri, and Akio in a Cruiserweight open for the WWE Cruiserweight championship

I really like Chavo, he is very under rated as a performer, and his partnership with Chavo Classic was really good. This was an elimination match, so 9 guys had to be pinned to get the final winner. The match itself went for 10 minutes, and was cramped. There were some good spots in the match, but the timing hurt the match. The end came when Chavo pinned Rey with some help from his father to retain the CW title. An okay match, considering it could have been much better if the guys had enough time to get their moves in. Rey and Chavo had many classic matches, including their encounters in WCW, but this definitely wasn’t a match they’d want to remember.

Mid card:

Goldberg defeated Brock Lesnar in an Inter – promotional match with Stone Cold Steve Austin as the special guest referee

I absolutely love this match. Not because of the action, because there really wasn’t any. Both the guys were on their way out, as Goldberg’s contract wasn’t extended and Lesnar was leaving the WWE as he wanted to pursue his career in the NFL, and the MSG crowd gave them a piece of their mind with ‘Boring’, ‘We want Bret’ and ‘Hogan’ chants. They popped big for Steve Austin, but booed both the participants out of the building, and neither one of them was interested in putting on a good match. The end came when Goldberg speared Lesnar, and gave him a Jackhammer for the pin and the win. Loud ‘This match sucks’ and ‘Na na na na, hey hey hey, goodbye’ chants from the MSG crowd. Austin absolutely loved it. Post match, Lesnar flipped the bird and Austin gave him a stunner. Then he and Goldberg had some beer, and then he stunned him out of the ring and the crowd popped huge for that. An awful match, as both the guys just wanted to get it over with. 8 years later, the crowd cheered for Lesnar when he came back. Professional wrestling in a nut shell.

Too Cool (Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty) defeated The World’s Greatest Tag Team (Charlie Haas and Shelton Benjamin), The Basham Brothers (Danny and Doug) and The APA (Bradshaw and Faarooq) in a Fatal 4 – way for the WWE tag team championship

Another fatal four way match, and this time, for the WWE tag team titles. After this, JBL would pursue his singles career, and what a singles’ run he had! The longest reigning WWE Champion on SmackDown! Anyway, the match got about 6 minutes, and the end came when Bradshaw hit one of the Bashams with the clothesline from hell, and Rikishi took advantage of it by giving Bradshaw a Samoan drop, and covered the fallen Basham for the pin and to retain the tag team titles. A boring match that just got 6 minutes. Just another filler on the card.

Victoria defeated Molly Holly for the WWE Women’s championship

I really like Victoria, and she was very under rated as a performer even during her heyday in the WWE, which was around this point. I still remember the classic matches she had with Trish. Anyway, she was the face going into the match, and if Molly lost, she’d be shaved bald! The match received about 5 minutes, and the crowd was exhausted by this point, so they really didn’t care much. The PPV went for about 4 and a half hours! The end came when Molly went for Widow’s peak on Victoria, and Victoria slid out of it and rolled her up for the pin and to retain her title. Post match, Victoria caught Molly as she tried to escape and shaved her bald. An okay match, considering the crowd was dead at this point, and these two tried their best to put on a decent 5 minute match.

Eddie Guerrero defeated Kurt Angle for the WWE Championship

Eddie had won the title from Brock, and was his first and only WWE title run. His title win at NWO ’04 was a magical moment for him and his fans, and I remember watching it and being happy for him. Kurt Angle got jealous and attacked Eddie, thus setting up their match. You have two of the best mat wrestlers in the business, and they showed just how good they can be. The match received about 22 minutes, and the story was how Angle was aggressive, trying to trap Eddie in the Ankle lock. The match neared its end when Eddie threw Kurt out of the ring during the ankle lock, and began untying his shoes. When he saw Kurt coming back, he had a ‘Oh S***!’ look on his face, which was a great way to tell the story. Kurt went for the ankle lock once again, but Eddie used it as an advantage as his boot came off, and he rolled Kurt in an inside cradle for the pin and to retain the WWE title. An excellent match which saw good mat wrestling and great story telling from two of the absolute best in the business.

The Undertaker (With Paul Bearer) defeated Kane

The Undertaker made his return at WrestleMania 20, and I remember watching in awe as the druids came out, and Taker made his way to the ring with Paul Bearer. Kane tried to get his offense in, but Taker dominated the match. The match went for nearly 8 minutes, and the end came when Taker Tombstone piledrived Kane for the pin and the win. A dominant performance by the Deadman, and the crowd loved every minute of it. It wasn’t a good match, but it was supposed to show that the Undertaker was back in full strength. A nice way to build up for the main event.

Main event:

Chris Benoit defeated Triple H and Shawn Michaels in a triple threat match for the World Heavyweight title

This was the first triple threat main event at WrestleMania till this point. Benoit entered the Rumble at #1 and lasted an hour to win the Rumble and headline WrestleMania. The Rumble ended with J. R saying “Chris Benoit’s dream of headlining WrestleMania has come true”. HBK was added to the match, as rumours were floating around about how Triple H couldn’t work in a singles match with Benoit, as it might need another main eventer. I’m okay with it, as what transpired was one of the greatest triple threat matches of all time! Not only were the sequences of the moves great, but the story during the match was amazing. The crowd was firmly behind Benoit, and loud ‘You screwed Bret’ chants directed at HBK and Triple H, who were booed by the MSG crowd. The first good spot in the match happened when Chris trapped a bloodied Michaels in the Crippler cross face, and just as HBK was about to tap, Triple H held his hand from hitting the mat. There was another instance when HBK and Triple H were on the announcer’s table with Benoit, and both looked at each other and put Benoit through the Spanish announcer’s table which received ‘Holy S***’ chants from the crowd.. Benoit regained consciousness after a while, and the end came when Chris ducked a SCM to send Michaels out of the ring, and trapped a bloodied Triple H in the cross face. Triple H hung on for as long as he could, and then tapped to a thunderous ovation from the MSG crowd. The place erupted as a crying Benoit was given the World Heavyweight title. J. R, who almost lost his voice screamed, “Finally, Chris Benoit’s 18 year odyssey has culminated by winning the World heavyweight title at WrestleMania 20!” After Benoit hit the turnbuckles, he turned around while Eddie was standing in front, with tears in his eyes and the WWE title on his shoulder, and they both embraced in the middle of the ring with tears pouring down. Eddie held Benoit’s hand up as the confetti came down, and we went off the air. Truly the most memorable moment in the WWE history, and after seeing all of that again, it reminds me how much the WWE misses these two performers.

Analysis: **** (Out of 5 stars)

A solid show, with a 5 star main event, and a 4 ½ star match for the WWE title. Eddie later dropped the title to JBL and Chris Benoit put Randy Orton over, by dropping the World heavyweight championship to him, and neither man could regain their title. An amazing end to a wonderful PPV, which was one of the true ‘feel good’ WrestleManias in history. Well, that does it from me for now, and make sure to tune in once again as we continue our journey towards WrestleMania 29, which is merely days away.

Read the rest of the WrestleMania rewind series here

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