For some reason when I think of great WrestleMania events, WrestleMania 21 doesnÃ¢â¬â¢t immediately come to mind. But when you look at the show again it is pure awesome. Only eight matches were featured on the live pay per view card, but the good far outweighed the bad. The bad, like the WomenÃ¢â¬â¢s Title match, the embarrassing sumo match, unneeded segment between Hulk Hogan, Eugene, Muhammad Hassan & Daivari and the PiperÃ¢â¬â¢s Pit featuring Rowdy Roddy Piper, Stone Cold Steve Austin and Carlito was kept short enough so that it didnÃ¢â¬â¢t outweigh the greatness that followed.
A phenomenal one-on-one match between two of the sportÃ¢â¬â¢s greatest athletes is one of the showÃ¢â¬â¢s highlights as Kurt Angle, the former Olympic Gold Medalist in freestyle wrestling, against Shawn Michaels, one of wrestlingÃ¢â¬â¢s greatest of all time. It was a logical pairing to put one of the millenniumÃ¢â¬â¢s best (Angle) and against one of the Ã¢â¬Ë90sÃ¢â¬â¢ best (Michaels) with no titles on the line, no blood-filled feud, just a rivalry to see who was truly the best inside the ring.
The two did not disappoint in the slightest. The pair traded high-impact moves, submissions and near-falls for over twenty minutes. It was not only a battle of past versus present; it was a battle of whether Michaels could hang with this new age twenty-first century superstar. At this point in his career Michaels had become the Ã¢â¬Åmeasuring stickÃ¢â¬Â of WWE; he was the guy who could get into the ring with the companyÃ¢â¬â¢s Ã¢â¬Ånext big thingÃ¢â¬Â to see if they could hang, or survive in a big match environment.
Angle and Michaels put on absolute wrestling clinic. After over twenty minutes of both men leaving it all in the ring, Angle emerged victorious after making Michaels Ã¢â¬Åtap outÃ¢â¬Â to his ankle lock submission hold. The crowd was more than appreciative of the effort of both men. Angle left the ring, and after Michaels regained his composure and rose to his feet he received a standing ovation from the appreciative Los Angeles crowd.
Also at WrestleMania 21 the ladder match was taken to another level when at the suggestion of Chris Jericho (in the storylines anyways) it was decided that six men would battle each other in a ladder match at WrestleMania 21, with no allies, only enemies. The prize at the top of the ladder? A briefcase containing a contract to a World Championship match good that was good for one year, and could be cashed it anytime the winner chooses.
The men chosen for the inaugural match included a quartet of supremely talented Canadian athletes who had battled with and against each other for years over Intercontinental and Tag Team Championships Ã¢â¬â Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Christian and Edge, plus two sport NCAA superstar Shelton Benjamin, who was as pure of an athlete one could find in the wrestling business, and the spoiler, a 300 lbs. monster of man simply named Kane.
Not surprisingly with that talent roster the match was simply fantastic, with crazy, dangerous stunts involving all kinds of ladders and steel chairs. The four Canadians were all no strangers to ladder matches at this point and were able to put together creative breathe-taking spots, while BenjaminÃ¢â¬â¢s natural athleticism allowed him to run up and down and across ladders like Spider-Man, and KaneÃ¢â¬â¢s impressive size and strength made for great visuals as he threw his much smaller opponents around the ring.
Edge walked out of the match as the first Money in the Bank winner and cashed in his World Title contract in January 2006 to earn his first of now nine World Championships.
WrestleMania has also always been a place for creating new stars and WrestleMania 21 was no different. In addition to both Kurt Angle and Edge scoring huge wins, it was the double main events that saw both John Cena and Dave Batista became made men.
By 2005 both Cena and Batista were huge in the fansÃ¢â¬â¢ eyes and were ready to take the next step up the company ladder. They were the final two men in the 2005 Royal Rumble, where the winner would earn an automatic World Title match at WrestleMania. Batista won the Rumble match and had the choice of challenging either John Ã¢â¬ÅBradshawÃ¢â¬Â Layfield for the WWE Championship or his mentor Triple H, who was the World Heavyweight Champion. Rather than deciding to challenge JBL for the WWE Championship, Batista opted to challenge his mentor Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship.
Meanwhile Cena won an eight-man tournament for the right to challenge JBL for the WWE Championship. John Ã¢â¬ÅBradshawÃ¢â¬Â Layfield was a Texas tycoon-turned-Wall Street millionaire who had held the WWE Championship for nearly a year by this point, which was a lifetime in this day and age of pro wrestling. The stage was set for the two young heroes to challenge the established villainous veterans at the grandest stage of them all. Cena and JBL went on second-to-last in a modern day battle of the common man challenging the rich tyrant. And like any good story Cena pinned JBL clean as a whistle to become WWE Champion for the first time. The match itself was fairly short and abysmal for main event standards but it was worth it for the end result.
The Batista-Triple H main event had a much more epic feel to it. The World Heavyweight Champion, Triple H, rose from under the entrance stage behind the band Motorhead, as they played his theme song live in person. The two men stood nose-to-nose center ring before the match started like two prizefighters. The match itself was pretty much two muscle-bound monsters laying into each other, looking all the world like what any non-wrestling fan would expect a pro wrestling match to look like. And just like the previous match the hero came out a winner, as Batista pinned his former mentor clean in the center to claim his first of many World Heavyweight Championships.
That night both Cena and Batista became the new faces of the company, but Cena has clearly surpassed Batista as the face of the company. The kids and family love and he sells more merchandise than anyone else in the country. That night four years ago WWE was successful in creating two hugely successful stars that have made themselves and the company more money than anyone could have imagined. And now just days from now the two mega-stars that were created at WrestleMania 21 will meet one-on-one for the WWE Championship at WrestleMania XXVI, five years after their star-making encounters.
– Booker T won a battle royal that happened live before the pay per view went on the air. The match was DVD extra. Other participants included Paul London, Heidenreich, Spike Dudley, Nunzio, Funaki, Doug & Danny Basham, Orlando Jordan, Mark Jindrak, Luther Reigns, Scotty 2 Hotty, Hardcore Holly, Charlie Haas, Billy Kidman, Akio, Simon Dean, William Regal, Tajiri, La Resistance (Rob Conway & Sylvain Grenier), Snitsky, The Hurricane & Rosey, Viscera, Rhyno, Val Venis, Tyson Tomko, and Maven.
– WWE Tag Team Champion Rey Mysterio pinned WWE Tag Team Champion Eddie Guerrero.
– Edge beat Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Christian, Shelton Benjamin & Kane in a Money in the Bank Ladder Match.
– The Undertaker pinned Randy Orton.
– Trish Stratus (c) pinned Christy Hemme in a WomenÃ¢â¬â¢s Championship match.
– Kurt Angle beat Shawn Michaels.
– Akebono beat The Big Show in a sumo match.
– John Cena pinned John Ã¢â¬ÅBradshawÃ¢â¬Â Layfield (c) to win the WWE Championship.
– Batista pinned Triple H (c) to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
Tags: batista, countdown to WrestleMania XXVI, edge, jbl, john cena, Kurt Angle, money in the bank, shawn michaels, wrestlemania, WWE