A2Z Analysiz: WrestleMania 25th Anniversary (Randy Orton, Triple H)

Reliant Stadium – Houston, Texas – April 5, 2009

MATCH #1: Money in the Bank Ladder Match – CM Punk vs. Kofi Kingston vs. MVP vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Kane vs. Mark Henry vs. Finlay vs. Christian

It’s nice to have Christian back. As usual with these types of matches I don’t expect to do much play-by-play. Henry and Kane clear the ring and go at it early on. Shelton and Christian team up to introduce the first ladder, taking Kane and Henry down. Kingston then dropkicks it back onto both of them and hits the Boom-Boom legdrop. Kane and Henry recover and make the first attempt to climb the ladder, but the other six guys all team up to take them down. They all climb the ladders now, and Henry and Kane return the favor by knocking them down. Punk and Kofi wind up in the ring together, and instead of fighting they hit stereo suicide dives onto Christian, MVP, and Kane. Shelton climbs to the top of a very tall ladder and somersaults off it into the crowd, and it doesn’t look like they did a very good job catching him. Henry then teases a dive off the top rope, but Finlay stops him with his shillelagh. Hornswoggle introduces a step-ladder, and uses it to help catapult himself off the top rope onto the mass of competitors on the floor. Finlay is left alone in the ring and brings a ladder in. Kofi knocks him off the ladder with a Trouble in Paradise. I’m having trouble keeping up with everything. Punk and MVP wind up on the ladder and Christian pulls MVP down. Christian goes after Punk and gets kicked in the face. He perseveres though, and takes Punk off the ladder with the Un-Prettier. Shelton and MVP unfortunately blow a sunset bomb off the ladder. Bummer dudes. Shelton then hits a powerbomb on MVP to the floor, right onto Henry and Tony Atlas. He then knocks Finlay off the ladder, and Christian pulls Shelton down. Shelton and Christian climb up a ladder together, and Christian sends Shelton crashing to the floor. The crowd goes nuts as Christian gets close to the briefcase. Punk swoops in out of nowhere but Christian is able to get Punk’s leg tied up in the ladder. Kane joins them and Chokeslams Christian down to the mat. Punk untangles his foot and kicks Kane down and grabs the briefcase to become the first-ever two-time Money in the Bank winner at 14:23. Money in the Bank is one of the more reliable WWE matches, and this one was no different. Amazing spots and I certainly didn’t predict Punk winning, so great stuff all around.
Rating: ****

MATCH #2: 25-Diva Battle Royal to Determine the First-Ever Miss WrestleMania

We skip over the entrances and right into the awkward brawling. A bunch of divas get eliminated and the crowd does not care. It’s nice that Victoria, who was so irritated with WWE when she left and still talks crap about them now that she’s in TNA, found it in her heart to take a WrestleMania payday. Phoenix gets rid of a few divas. Santina Marella simultaneously eliminates Phoenix and Melina to become Miss WrestleMania at 6:11. That was just all kinds of boring and pointless. You couldn’t even tell who was in the match.
Rating: DUD

MATCH #3: 3-on-1 Handicap Elimination Match – Rowdy Roddy Piper, Jimmy “Superfly” Snuka & Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat with “Nature Boy” Ric Flair in their corner vs. Chris Jericho

Piper starts the match for the Hall of Fame team. He clotheslines Jericho to the floor and follows him out. He slaps Jericho around a bit. Back in the ring Piper gets a sunset flip and a sort of dropkick. He brings Jericho over to the corner and tags Snuka. Jericho can’t get any offense going here. Snuka tags Steamboat, who hits a cross body block off the top rope and starts going to work on the arm. Steamboat looks amazing, like he can totally still go. He tags Snuka back in, and within moments Jericho sweeps the legs and locks on the Walls of Jericho and Snuka taps out at 3:45. Piper rejoins the match and puts on the Sleeper. Jericho escapes and hits a running enziguiri to eliminate Piper at 4:46.

Steamboat comes in with a high cross body block off the top rope but Jericho kicks out at two. Jericho wears Steamboat down, but the veteran is still able to skin the cat and backdrops Jericho to the floor. The Dragon follows Jericho out with a slingshot dive. The crowd goes nuts for Steamboat. He goes up and hits the chop off the top rope, and he’s rolling. He gets an O’Connor Roll for two. Jericho comes back with a bulldog, but misses the Lionsault. He charges at Steamboat and gets caught in a powerslam for two. Jericho puts the Walls of Jericho on, and Steamboat gets an inside cradle for two! Moments later Jericho hits the Code Breaker to get the pin and win the match at 8:58. As soon as Piper and Snuka got out of the way, this got very entertaining. Steamboat looked like he could go in a singles match; Piper and Snuka not so much.
Rating: **¼

MATCH #4: Extreme Rules Match – Jeff Hardy vs. Matt Hardy

Jeff starts off by slapping his older brother in the face, and the brawl is on. It quickly spills to the floor, where Jeff is firmly in control. Back in the ring Jeff tries Whisper in the Wind but Matt swats him out of the air with a chair and gets a two-count. Matt goes to work on his younger brother, hitting the Side Effect on a chair for two. A table is set up on the floor, but no one goes through it just yet. Jeff recovers and knocks Matt off the apron, and he follows him down with a clothesline. Back in the ring Jeff uses a trash can to abuse his older brother. The corner dropkick gets two. Jeff hits a gourdbuster and goes up top and tries the Swanton. Matt moves and then hits the Twist of Fate for two. He goes up top but Jeff knocks him down and hits a superplex. Jeff then clobbers Matt with a chair, and takes him to the floor to set him up on the table. He sets a chair on his brother, and then another table on top of the first one. Jeff goes to the top rope and crashes through the table. Back in the ring Jeff gets a two-count. Jeff hits a legdrop off a steel chair and sets up a ladder. He tries another legdrop over a really tall ladder, but Matt moves and Jeff crashes down hard to the canvas. Matt gets up and traps Jeff’s head in a steel chair and hits a Twist of Fate to get the pin at 13:14. They did some creative spots but it somehow lacked the intensity I thought it would have. Some day these guys are bound to have a great match with each other, but it hasn’t happened yet.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #5: Intercontinental Championship Match – JBL vs. Rey Mysterio

JBL has been the champion since 3.9.09, and this is his first defense. Mysterio’s gear tonight is an interpretation of Heath Ledger’s Joker, which is pretty cool. Lawler notes the homage, to which JR replies, “I think Rey’s career is alive and well,” which seems like a poor choice of words. JBL hits a boot to Rey’s face before the bell can ring and works him over in the corner. The referee lets Rey recover and then rings the bell. Rey gets an enziguiri, the 619, and a splash off the top rope to get the pin and win the Intercontinental Title at 0:21. Not much of a match, but a fitting match for JBL to go out on.
Rating: ¼*

MATCH #6: Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

Shawn tries to use his speed early on, and Undertaker counters with his extraordinary power. Undertaker takes control early on, working on Shawn’s back. He hits Old School but misses a charger in the corner and Michaels goes after the knee. They trade control back and forth a few times. Michaels locks on the Crossface and Undertaker powers out with a side slam for two. The ever-resilient Michaels storms back with a flurry of offense. Michaels tries an axe handle off the top rope but Undertaker catches him by the throat. He avoids that and knocks Undertaker down with a kick and tries the Figure-Four. Undertaker counters and locks on Hell’s Gate. Michaels reaches the ropes. Undertaker tries the legdrop on the apron but Michaels moves, and then follows up with a baseball slide to knock Undertaker back. Michaels tries a moonsault but misses and lands hard on the floor. Undertaker recovers and launches himself over the top rope but Michaels pulls a cameraman in front of him and the cameraman does a horrible job of catching Undertaker, who appears to land directly on his skull. Michaels revives the referee and tries to get him to count Undertaker out, but the Dead Man just barely makes it back to the ring before the count of 10. He sets up for Sweet Chin Music but Undertaker counters with a chokeslam and Michaels kicks out at two! Undertaker looks incredulous. He tries the Tombstone but Michaels counters to hit the Sweet Chin Music and Undertaker kicks out! Michaels gets back to his feet but Undertaker grabs him by the throat and goes for the Last Ride. After several counters Undertaker hits the move but Michaels kicks out at two! Undertaker hooking the leg and overtly showing his frustration is great touches. He goes to the top rope and misses a big elbow drop. They get back to their feet and Undertaker throws Michaels over the ropes. Michaels skins the cat, but Undertaker catches him with the Tombstone but Michaels kicks out! The look on Undertaker’s face is priceless. Undertaker pulls the straps down and goes for the Tombstone but Michaels counters to a DDT. Michaels goes up top and hits the elbow. He sets up for Sweet Chin Music and nails it, but Undertaker kicks out at two! They get back to their feet and trade blows. Michaels counters another Tombstone attempt and kicks a charging Undertaker in the face. He tries a Moonsault but Undertaker hits the Tombstone to get the win in this absolutely epic match at 30:41. If anything even comes close to this in Match of the Year voting I’ll be stunned. This is the real match of the year, because the fans aren’t chanting “Match of the Year” and the wrestlers didn’t hug each other and talk about the great match they just had. Everyone in the building simply knew. I think this might be the greatest match of All Time.
Rating: *****

MATCH #7: Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship – Edge vs. John Cena vs. Big Show

Edge has been the champion since 2.15.09, and this is his second defense. I must say that Edge comparing himself to Jesus is pretty awesome. Cena goes right after Edge but gets steamrolled by Show. Edge tries to make an arrangement with Show, and his nuts pay for it. Cena tries an early Attitude Adjustment on Edge but Show breaks it up. Show is dominant over both men in the early going. Cena recovers and knocks Show to the floor, and follows him out with a legdrop off the top rope. That was cool. Edge and Cena get back in the ring, and Cena tries the Attitude Adjustment but Edge counters to the Edgecution for a two-count. The champion goes up top and Cena knocks him to the floor. Meanwhile Show gets back in the ring and hits a side slam on Cena for two. Cena recovers and goes on offense, but Chavo pulls him to the floor. That’s bad news for Chavo though, as Cena hits him with the Attitude Adjustment. Show gets tied up in the ropes and Cena takes advantage by hitting the Proto-Plex on Edge and the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Vickie gets up on the apron and Edge accidentally Spears her. Cena gets a rollup for two. Show finally escapes and resumes his domination. He goes for a double chokeslam and only Cena avoids it. Cena can’t avoid the right hand though, and he falls to the floor. Edge is out there too, so Show joins the party. Show tries to Chokeslam Edge on the floor, but Edge counters to a DDT. Edge sets up the steps and uses them for extra momentum to hit a Spear on Show, sending them both crashing through the guardrail and into the crowd. Back in the ring Edge goes for a cover on Cena but only gets two. Edge tries a Spear but Cena counters to the STF. Show breaks it up and tosses Cena to the floor. Back in the ring Show tries a Vader Bomb but Edge moves out of the way. Cena gets back in the ring and along with Edge suplexes Show down. They seem to make a tenuous agreement to get rid of the big man, and they clothesline him to the floor. The second Show is gone Edge boots Cena in the face for a two-count. Edge tries to hit the Edge-o-Matic but Cena avoids it and hits the Throwback. Cena goes up top and Show pushes him directly into a Spear. Show breaks up the count. Back in the ring Edge gets Show in a sleeper, and Cena picks both of them up! He hits Show with the Attitude Adjustment, and then hits one on Edge, landing him on top of Show. Cena then pins Show to win the title for the second time at 14:43. That match doesn’t get much love, but I thought it was a lot fun and had some really creative spots. I also liked the finish.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #8: WWE Championship Match – Triple H vs. Randy Orton

Triple H has been the champion since 2.15.09 and this is his first defense. If Triple H gets counted out or disqualified, he will lose the title. The champion starts out hot, throwing punch after punch in the early going. The referee tries to restrain the champion, reminding him of the DQ clause. That gives Orton the chance to recover and he hits an RKO! Orton sets up for the Punt Kick but Triple H avoids it and hits the Pedigree! They both roll to the floor and Triple H clobbers Orton from behind and slams him into the announce table. Orton rolls back in the ring and Triple H dumps a bottle of water on himself to try and revive himself. Back in the ring the champion resumes throwing punches at the challenger. Orton tries begging off, but Triple H will have none of it. Back on the floor Orton reverses an Irish whip and sends Triple H crashing into the steel steps. Orton then throws Triple H over the guardrail and the referee starts the count. Triple H makes it back in the ring at seven, and the challenger is all over him. The crowd totally becomes interested in something else at this point. Triple H makes the comeback I think, but I’m about as interested as the crowd. Orton hits a powerslam for two. They counter each other a few times and Triple H ends the series with a clothesline for two. They’re just trading moves and counters back and forth, and sometimes the crowd reacts. Triple H jumps off the top rope but Orton catches him with a dropkick. Orton tries the Punt Kick again but Triple H catches the boot and flips Orton over the top rope to the floor. Triple H follows Orton to the floor and teases using a TV monitor, but the referee reminds him that he’ll lose the title and he thinks better of it. Way to deflate the crowd with that stipulation. Triple H goes for a Pedigree on the announce table but Orton counters with a back drop. Orton then hits the DDT to the floor and rolls back in the ring. Triple H barely makes it back in the ring and Orton stomps away at him. The champion starts making the comeback so Orton manipulates the referee to take him out. Orton then hits an RKO and goes under the ring to grab the sledgehammer. Before he can use it Triple H punts him in the head, and then uses the sledgehammer himself. They roll around for another few minutes for some reason, and then Triple H hits a simple Pedigree to get the pin at 23:34. The match was long and pretty dull. The crowd would have probably popped louder if they had streamlined the Triple H Punt Kick/Sledgehammer/Pedigree combo. I like both guys but they never really have very good matches against each other.
Rating: **½

BONUS MATCH: Lumberjack Match for the Unified Tag Team Championship – Carlito & Primo vs. The Miz & John Morrison

Carlito & Primo have been WWE Tag Team Champions since 9.26.08, and this is their fourth defense. Miz & Morrison have been World Tag Team Champions since 12.13.08 and this is their fourth defense. The lumberjacks are The Great Khali, Cryme Tyme, Jamie Noble, Charlie Haas, Hurricane Helms, Goldust, Jimmy Wang Yang, Tommy Dreamer, Evan Bourne, R-Truth, William Regal, Paul Burchill, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, The Brian Kendrick, Ezekiel Jackson, Curt Hawkins, Zack Ryder, Mike Knox, and Vladimir Kozlov. Grisham and Striker get the call on commentary. Primo and Morrison start the match with some back and forth. Morrison almost gets knocked to the floor but avoids it the first time. Moments later Primo hits a headscissors to send Morrison to the floor, and as soon as Morrison gets back in he gets clotheslined out again! The lumberjacks take some liberties and send Morrison back in the ring. The Colons are in firm control as Carlito gets tagged in. Morrison comes back with a back body drop and makes the tag. Miz comes in and sends Carlito to the floor, but Carlito soon comes back with a flurry of aerial offense. Carlito goes up top and Miz pulls him down onto the lumberjacks, causing a ruckus on the floor. Miz takes the opportunity to wear Carlito down now. Morrison tags in and they hit a double team face slam and Primo breaks up the cover. He hits a knee to Carlito’s face for another two-count. Carlito traps Morrison on his shoulders and drops him down to the mat. They both make the tag and Primo is fired up. He hits Miz with a springboard missile dropkick for two. Morrison makes a blind tag and levels Primo with a kick to the face. He goes for the Moonlight Drive but Primo counters to a rollup for two. Carlito spears Miz to the floor, while Primo hits a cross body off the top rope on Morrison, who reverses it for a two-count. Morrison goes for the Curtain Call but Primo reverses to a Backstabber for the upset pin at 8:21. That was unfortunately short, but they packed a lot of action in and got the crowd fired up. It certainly makes me wish WWE would do more with tag team wrestling.
Rating: ***¼

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