Ciao everyone! Welcome back to the Casa, which is now basking in the British Summertime sunshine as I type this. We may have lost an hour somewhere, but if it means more daylight and brighter weather, I?ll happily lose an hour of sleep. Not that I?ll be doing much sleeping this week (no, I?m not on a tantric sex marathon) as I?ll be indulging in the delights of the past 24 WrestleMania’s in anticipation of the ?25th Anniversary? (ok, we all know that technically it’s the 24th anniversary of the original show, but seriously, no one likes a smart arse) of the ?Grandaddy of ?em all!?
It’s the time of year when all those in wrestling fandom grow a collective chubby as they yearn to see just what dramatic events will unfold over the course of four hours inside the squared circle. And WrestleMania seldom disappoints.
There may have been some stinkers in the past 24 years. WrestleMania IX was a toga clad disaster, and WrestleMania XI had an NFL star headline it, whilst WrestleMania II was strewn across three cities without so much as a decent match between each venue. However, for every cringe inducing moment and borefest we?ve been unlucky enough to endure, we?ve had a ladder match to leave us scraping our jaws off the floor, or we?ve seen new eras ushered in whilst some are brought to an end. I?m beginning to feel the excitement as I mentally take a trip down memory lane, from the Garden to the Silverdome, onwards to the SkyDome in Toronto and then down the home straight through Houston, Detroit once more and then finally Orlando.
It goes to show just how big a deal WrestleMania is, as the Casa has even succumbed to it’s charms and allowed itself to become a ?Mania special. The all encompassing power of WrestleMania overpowered my urge to write at length about the finest Diva implants in history (just kidding Mum, if you?re reading) or the infinite wisdom of Mr. Scott Steiner. Instead, as probably every wrestling columnist across the ?net has done this week, I?m decorating the Casa in a WrestleMania theme and presenting to you what I feel is the ultimate WrestleMania card.
This card was compiled under incredibly strict rules. Rules which would make the strictest neo communist Nazi tremble with fear. I had to whittle down every match and segment in WrestleMania history down to one single card. In other words, I had to cram almost 100 hours of WrestleMania into four hours somehow. But I had to do this using wrestlers no more than one time each. I also was restricted to choosing the best opening match, best ladder match, best Undertaker match, best Women’s match, best main event, best special attraction match, best IC Title match, best celebrity match, best comic relief segment and best musical acts. Whew. I should also mention that each match type cannot be duplicated either. So for instance, if I were to choose Shawn Michaels vs Razor Ramon from WrestleMania X as my favourite IC Title match, that would also be my default choice for favourite ladder match also. See the restrictions I?ve placed upon myself? The stress I go through for you people would cause a lesser man to stroke the . out. Not this Sicilian thoroughbred though. I soldiered on and arduously devoted the bulk of my spare student time to thoroughly researching the greatest matches in WrestleMania history. Someone’s got to do it!
So, all waffling aside, I may as well get down to the meat of the piece, and that’s THE CARD. Withour further adieu, here it is. Enjoy Casa-ites (I don?t care if it’s not caught on, I?m forcing it upon you as if I?m tea bagging someone in a coma).
Aretha Franklin singing ?America The Beautiful?
The goddess of soul sung at the biggest ?Mania of all time. She’s a lock for me. What a voice. Ray Charles comes a close second.
Bret Hart vs Owen Hart
This little diddy took place at WrestleMania X in Madison Square Garden. Nostalgia almost caused me to overlook this match as I was set to choose the very first ?Mania match of all time to open the show. But when I realized that the curtain jerker at the first ?Mania was a five minute showdown between Tito Santana and The Executioner, I decided to look elsewhere for my opener. Somehow, I completely forgot that this astounding piece of work opened WrestleMania X, so I must thank all of you who emailed your cards to me because it was you good good people who refreshed my memory.
This isn?t just the best opening match in WrestleMania history, it’s one of the greatest WrestleMania matches of all time. The storyline was simple; Older, more successful brother vs younger, jealous brother. Owen was obviously the cooler of the two brothers. Let’s face it, the guy had been in High Impact with Koko B.Ware not long before this feud. You never saw Bret swaggering around in baggy MC Hammer dungarees. Bret was the geeky, student of the game type brother, who most likely would wear a turtle neck to a party, drink two beers before turning to sipping red wine and indulging in pleasant conversation about work and family. Owen would turn up to the same party just to . shit up. And that’s what makes this match so great. Bret’s face after his loss is priceless. He doesn?t want to look too bitter because it would ruin his image. He .ed up at the end and his baby brother outsmarted him on the grandest stage of them all. In the World’s most famous arena no less. Owen however is beyond jubilant and wants the whole world to know it. He doesn?t have any decorum nor does he display any sportsmanship. However, Bret being Bret had to have the last laugh by winning the WWF Title in the main event. It doesn?t get more annoying big brother than that. ?Oh you beat me Owen? Nevermind, enjoy your victory whilst I go out and win the World Title, don?t wait up.?
The match itself is a technical masterpiece. It grabs your attention from bell to bell and not only put a marker down for being how to construct a classic technical wrestling match, but also laid the foundations for what turned out to be one of the greatest feuds in WWF/E history as Bret and Owen warred on through the Summer and onto SummerSlam where Bret would finally avenge his defeat to Owen in a classic steel cage match. After the feud was over, normal service was resumed as Bret continued to be the successful, albeit charisma lacking champion and Owen ruled the mid card with his King Of The Ring and Slammy Award victories. He also had the better hair.
Women’s Title Match
Trish Stratus? vs Mickie James
I?ll be honest, this little puppy (no pun intended. Anyway, all puppies on show here were far from little) didn?t have much competition. WrestleMania may be many things, but a home to great women’s wrestling it isn?t. Sure, there was the historically significant Wendi Richter victory over Leilani Kai at the inaugural ?Mania, but usually ?Mania is reserved for promoting the member of the Divas roster who’s tittays have been approved by everyone’s favourite creepy old Granddad Hugh Hefner to appear on the cover of his magazine.
This match at WrestleMania 22 in Chicago however was actually one of the better matches on what was an entertaining show. The psycho fan turned straight up psycho/ever so slightly lesbo heel in Mickie James was the perfect foil for Stratus who was now paying the price for being one of the most well respected women’s wrestlers of all time. It’s not often the WWE invests so much time in a women’s feud, even for WrestleMania, but the decision to do so in 2006 was certainly a good one. Everything about this match was great, apart from the slightly botched ending, which had to happen if only to keep the nay sayers of women’s wrestling happy in their beliefs that women can?t wrestle. Well, we wouldn?t want to upset the established order of wrestling fans now would we?
Steve Allen & The Bolsheviks
Who didn?t love these segments from WrestleMania VI? Allen’s a comedy genius, and pairing the funny bastard up with two crazy foreign bastards was classic. Whoever came up with this idea got a huge raise hopefully. They deserved it.
Intercontinental Title Match
?Macho Man? Randy Savage ? vs Ricky ?The Dragon? Steamboat
There isn?t much more I can say on this that hasn?t already been said. A classic in everyone’s eyes and one of my personal favourite matches of all time. Nevermind that Savage was a neurotic loon who had to rehearse every step of this match a trillion times as if he was about to take part in the grand finale of a Bollywood epic, this match up is inspirational. It’s what made Chris Jericho want to become a wrestler, plus countless others I?m sure. Even though you need rain man to count all the near falls in this match, they don?t detract from it’s supreme quality. Also, you?ve got George ?The Animal? Steele proving why he’s the only man who can go full retard and get away with it. That’s a bonus in anyone’s book.
WWF Tag Team Championship Match
The Dudleys ? vs Edge & Christian vs The Hardy Boyz
This is another of those matches that doesn?t need much introduction. In fairness, where do I start attempting to describe this carnage? I?d pin this TLC match ahead of the first one at SummerSlam 2000 and the three way ladder match at WrestleMania 16. It’s beyond insane. Edge’s spear from the top of the ladder to a dangling Jeff Hardy is already a legendary ?Mania visual, as is the reaction of the crowd as it happens. This match also essentially wrapped up what had been a phenomenal year long, three way feud between these teams. This match comes complete with J.R. JUST about saving face with the line; ?Lita is trying to jerk Edge off??? the ladder!? Who knew she?d just be trying to jerk him off the good old fashioned way four years later? The only downside to this match is it probably inspired more shit for brains backyard wrestlers to try the same stuff, only failing miserably and looking like wrestling’s equivalent to the Star Wars kid. (BTW, if you don?t know what the Star Wars kid is, type it into Youtube and be prepared to piss and cry at the same time with laughter)
The Hulkster returns to save Eugene from Mohammed Hassan and Davairi
Let’s face it, it wouldn?t be WrestleMania without the Hulkster would it? And seeing as I haven?t included him in any of my matches, this was the only place for him. Nevermind though, it’s still a great segment to be involved in and makes the Hulkster look like the most American of American heroes as he saves a special kid from the evil clutches of the filthy Arab heels. It’s stuff like this that makes it impossible for me to understand why people could possibly dislike the Hulkster.
The Undertaker vs Kane (W/ Pete Rose getting tombstoned before the match)
This is the WrestleMania 14 match. The original and best match between the two. It was a toss up between this and the matches with HHH, Orton and Batista for Taker’s greatest ?Mania match. But it had to be this one. The storyline was terrific and far fetched, as all great Deadman ?Taker storylines have to be. His robot voiced, masked, and up until now presumed dead brother Kane has come back to wreak havoc on poor old Mark Calloway, only for Mark to not want anything to do with him. He won?t fight his younger brother. So how does Kane force the issue? He costs Taker the WWF Title at the Royal Rumble and goes around setting people on fire, as you do. With this match you also get the first of the Pete Rose/Kane trilogy where poor old Pete gets dropped on his head by the Big Red Machine. That’s a WrestleMania moment in itself before you even get to the match, which is excellent. Kane is at his very best here and the Taker announce table bump is breath taking for a guy of his size. Paul Bearer is also great as the squealing human meatball on the outside.
The thing that I like best about this match is the air of unpredictability around it. ?The streak? wasn?t really talked about at this point, so it wasn?t set in stone that Taker would win. Looking back, if ever he was going to lose at ?Mania, it would have been this one as it would have really established Kane even more. Not that this match didn?t establish Kane, because it certainly did and then some. However, despite the fact his matches are usually top drawer at ?Mania, in recent years there has been that air of predictability that he is going to win, no matter who he faces, it’s just a case of seeing how good the match will be. One thing that worries me when watching Kane from this era though is how .ing ugly he must have looked with the long black hair. I mean, he’s an odd looking bloke with the skinhead, but imagine that face with the long black hair. He?d have ?paedophile? written all over him. Eerie.
Special Attraction Match
Ric Flair vs Shawn Michaels
This was mine and Wrestleview’s MOTY for last year and is as emotional a wrestling match you?re ever likely to see. Also, for the biggest event in wrestling, how can you leave Naitch off the card? In actuality, content wise, as far as execution and all that other bullshit is concerned, Flair’s ?Mania matches with Savage and Taker are probably better, but nothing touches the last match of the greatest of all time. Plus, in addition to it being Flair’s final hurrah, his opponent is none other than ?Mr. WrestleMania? himself, Shawn Michaels. Flair’s so old school in this match it’s insane. The only thing lacking was a helicopter entrance, but his robe and classic blue attire more than made up for that. He busts out the double underhook suplex for Christ sake! Not to mention he connects with his top rope old man flop. What more could you want? The ending of this match has been cemented in wrestling folklore and I will never argue that, as it’s an amazing ending, although in the grand scheme of things, ?I love you? followed by a kick to the face? It’s like the most extreme way of getting dumped? ever. The most perfect send off in wrestling history. Not the kick to the face, the match and everything surrounding it. Obviously.
Miller Catfight girls w/Stacey & Torrie
It’s not a WrestleMania without a bit of T&A is it? My original choice here was going to be the lumberjill match from last year involving Snoop Dogg clotheslining Santino, but I remembered that was in fact a Women’s Title match and I already have one of them on the card. So, knowing Vinnie Mac and his incessant, and disturbing old man libido, he?d approve of this being on the card. And let’s face it, you can use the dry tissues you didn?t use on the emotional Flair match on this match instead.
Gimmick Battle Royale
This shit knocked my socks off back at WrestleMania X Seven and it’s a shame there’s not another one happening at this ?Mania, because it?d be entirely fitting. It was great to hear ?The Brain? and Mean Gene commentate on this as the Sheik made everyone humble en route to victory, despite the apparent reason for his victory being that he couldn?t actually take the bump over the top rope. The ultimate nostalgia trip and plenty of fun to lead us into our last two matches.
The Big Show vs Floyd ?Money? Mayweather Jr
The only problem I have with this match is that had Ricky Hatton beaten Mayweather a few months before, we could have been seeing The Big Show take on Manchester’s finest, and the result would have been even better. Imagine a travelling army of drunken Mancunians making their merry way to Orlando following ?The Hitman? (Hatton, not Bret Hart) as he calls Show a ?gobshite? and a ?big fat wanker? amongst other things. It would have been genius. As it is, we still got a hell of a fight, complete with the first and only mink ring attire in wrestling history, a pimp chalice and a faux rapper posse for Mayweather. Show swatting the World’s greatest fighter around like he was nothing was superb and the standing on the hands like a big angry fairy tale giant was hilarious. The finish, importantly, was done in a believable manner so it wasn?t inconceivable that Show would lose to Mayweather. More than deserved it’s place on the WV MOTY list for 2008.
WWF Title Match
The Rock ? vs Stone Cold Steve Austin
This, of course is the WrestleMania X Seven Title match. My personal favourite of all time. Everything about the match from the montage video beforehand, to the reaction Austin received, to the initial exchanges and all the nods to past events like Austin using the Million Dollar Dream and then getting trapped in the sharpshooter as blood pours down his face. Everything was perfect, all the way through to the ultimate heel turn as Austin sides with Vinnie Mac in order to win the Title. There’s not a single thing about this match that isn?t perfect, even The Rock missing a swinging neckbreaker by a country mile in the early going. It’s the two biggest stars of the Attitude Era and two of the biggest of all time full stop going at it in their primes on the grandest stage of all. How could it possibly get any better than that? Sure, Hogan/Andre has the historical significance, as does the original ?Mania main event. But neither match is as great as this, not by a long shot. This is WrestleMania main event 101. Watch, then watch again and again until WrestleMania 25 begins this Sunday. Then after that finishes, return to watching this.
Phew! So there’s the card people. It took a long time researching and putting together. Chopping matches here and there. There’s obviously a ton of amazing stuff been left out and I?m sure this week’s bonanza will provide us with more than a few WrestleMania moments which will be up for consideration this time next year before events unfold in Phoenix.
Love it, hate it? Love me or hate me personally? Drop me a friggin line on firstname.lastname@example.org or how about following me on that Twitter thingy? I?ve taken a shine to that in the past month. My username is joebaia. Follow me, I?m a whole heap of fun.
Next week’s Casa comes the night after ?Mania, so hopefully you?ll just about to have the energy to read it. But do read it no matter how exhausted you are, because it?ll be ?fantastico? as the Italians most definitely do not say. I?m going to put together the ultimate wrestling dinner party. Please join me. No required viewing for this week, just watch a lot of old WrestleMania’s. Easy enough.
Until next time people, arriverderci!