Joel: It’s hard to go into WrestleMania X8 right after having seen the previous one. X7 after all was the best WrestleMania to date and pretty much defines what a WrestleMania event could be. It’s going to be hard to be compared to that, no matter what kind of card you’ve put together. And if you judge it on its own merit, WrestleMania X8 is still a pretty good show. And they tried to put together a fantastic card. The title is now the undisputed title to add to the gravity of the main event match. And you have Hogan showing up for the first WrestleMania in almost ten years which genuinely felt like a big deal. It doesn’t quite live up to the feeling and the momentum of last years show, but then again, I’m not sure how it could. The biggest complaint I have (other than the number being X8 which is just as stupid as X7 was last year) was not letting Hogan and Rock go on last. That just feels like the epic showdown that’s worthy of being the main event. It’s Icon vs. Icon. And I know the thought process about how the title match should always close out the show, and nine times out of ten, I’m going to agree with that, but it just didn’t click exactly the way it was supposed to this time. Still that’s a pretty small complaint in the grand scale of WrestleMania and at least it wasn’t the crash and burn style of WrestleMania that we seem to always have after a good one.
Best WrestleMania so far: Seventeen, but this one should still be proud of itself.
BD: WrestleMania 18 was a pretty solid affair top to bottom, and for some reason was more exciting than the card itself had any right to be.
Kane had what I consider his best match ever with Angle, Undertaker and Flair had an AMAZING match (easily Flair’s best WM match, and definitely one of Taker’s best), HHH Jericho (though largely forgotten about because they stupidly were put on after Hogan Rock) was a great match, and even Austin Hall wasn’t as bad as some make it out to be. Some filler for sure, and not as packed with great matches as 17, but as far as Mania standards it’s well ahead of the curve.
Besides, this card had Hogan Rock, in Hogan’s first WM after being gone for 9 years. Yes, I know the match was not great, but this is one of VERY few scenarios where storytelling made up for it… plus the crowd was batshit crazy for a match on a level I’ve never seen since.
Nowadays, fan reactions are obvious and easy to see coming unless you’re someone who doesn’t pay attention, like a Cody Rhodes fan. But Rock was at his apex of popularity, Hogan had been back a month as a heel and had:
A) Beaten down Rock with the nWo
B) Hit Rock in the back of the head with a hammer
C) Driven a semi-truck through the ambulance carrying The Rock
… and the crowd cheered for Hogan almost unanimously. Not so uncommon nowadays, but unheard of back then. Watching the crowd is the best part of that match, easily.
Sanders: So this Wrestlemania has a couple things fans tend to hold against it which seems like minor missteps but we all know how us wrestling fans like to make mountains out of mole hills. One of which is Austin having a match against Scott Hall instead of Hogan and make the Austin/Hall match sound like garbage, which it’s not really that bad and it has that “we never thought we’d see this” quality to it. However, it’s not Hogan and it’s the same card with a similar situation with Rock and Hogan so it’s easily to overlook the match involving Hall. Besides, something incredible happened in the match between Hogan and Rock and I’m not so sure that would’ve happened in a different situation. Sure, Hogan was way beyond his prime (which was kinda limited already) but the moment and the way the match went took the focus rather than technical prowess. It was a great moment that WWE tried (and failed) to replicate years later between Rock and Cena. Another knock fans like to point out was the fact Rock and Hogan didn’t main event and HHH and Jericho did. I tend to agree that the championship trumps all other matches when it comes to a pay per view but there are moments that are bigger than the championship, this moment is one of them. Again, the HHH/Jericho match wasn’t necessarily bad, a little too many Stephanie run-ins for my taste but it never got in the way of the story, but the crowd was pretty much spent by that point and very few matches could’ve brought them back to life after Rock/Hogan. And finally, stop trying to turn Wrestlemania into a concert!
Kue: Eighteen was a good show. The card had solid matches, including Angle/Kane, Van Dam/Reagal, Taker/Flair, Edge/Booker, Jazz/Lita/Trish as standouts. But what this show really exemplified in my eyes is the decrescendo of the appeal of the Attitude Era. Austin was booked down in a midcard feud with Hall. And the highlight of the night, Rock/Hogan, is known specifically for the crowd reacting rather lukewarm to Attitude babyface Rock and ecstatic towards pre-racist Hogan.
All things run their course. It was nice to see that, when the richly praised Attitude Era did, it bowed out with a memorable Mania.
Tags: Chris Jericho, HHH, Hulk Hogan, scott hall, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock