A2Z Analysiz: WrestleMania XXVI (Shawn Michaels, Undertaker)

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University of Phoenix Stadium – Phoenix, AZ – Sunday, March 28, 2010

Michael Cole, Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Matt Striker are on commentary.

MATCH #1: Unified Tag Team Championship Match – Big Show & The Miz vs. John Morrison & R-Truth

Show-Miz has been the Champions since 2.8.10, and this is their fourth defense. R-Truth is making his WrestleMania debut here. The Miz is the current U.S. Champion. Former championship partners Morrison and Miz start the match. Cole notes that it’s been nine years since a Tag Team Title has changed hands at a WrestleMania as Morrison hits a dropkick and makes the tag. Truth comes off the top rope with a guillotine legdrop for two. He hits a kick that knocks Miz back into his corner, allowing a tag. Show hits Truth with a fallaway slam. He shoves Morrison off the apron and chops Truth down. Show goes up to the second rope and Morrison kicks him down. Truth covers but only gets two. Morrison and Miz tag back in and Morrison unloads on him, hitting the running knee to the face for two. He goes for Starship Pain but Show pulls Miz out of the way. Truth tries a house show dive on Show but gets caught and hurled into the ring post. Back to the ring Miz covers Morrison for two. Miz goes for the Skull Crushing Finale but Morrison counters to a cradle for two. Show tags himself in and as Morrison goes for a springboard he cuts him off with the WMD to get the pin at 3:24. They deserved more time but they did make the most out of what they were given.
Rating: **¼

MATCH #2: Triple Threat Match – Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Ted DiBiase

Rhodes has pretty horrendous entrance music here. Orton gets a pretty sizable pop on his way out. DiBiase and Rhodes are still a tag team at this point, so this is more a handicap match less a triple threat. That’s exactly the way it starts, as Legacy double-teams Orton, which works out very well for them. Cole says that both Rhodes and DiBiase are making their WrestleMania debuts, but Rhodes was in the preshow battle royal at WrestleMania XXIV. Orton fights back and the crowd comes alive, but DiBiase cuts him right off with a clothesline. Rhodes hits a knee drop and goes up top for the moonsault and DiBiase tries to steal a pin. That doesn’t sit well with Rhodes, who hurls DiBiase to the floor and then hits Orton with the Alabama Slam for two. DiBiase takes offense to that and now the two Legacy members tear into each other. Orton recovers and goes on a rampage on both of them. He dumps DiBiase and hits Rhodes with the backbreaker. DiBiase pulls Orton to the floor and then Rhodes wipes out DiBiase with a house show dive. Legacy tries to get back in the ring but Orton catches both of them with the Orton DDT at the same time! Orton kicks DiBiase to the floor and then delivers the Punt Kick to Rhodes. DiBiase sneaks back in and tries to hit Dream Street but Orton counters to the RKO and gets the pin on DiBiase at 9:02. Rhodes and DiBiase had no shot, but they worked in a couple of nice spots and the crowd was really into Orton so it was fun.
Rating: **½

MATCH #3: Money in the Bank Ladder Match – Kofi Kingston vs. MVP vs. Evan Bourne vs. Jack Swagger vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Matt Hardy vs. Dolph Ziggler vs. Drew McIntyre vs. Kane vs. Christian

This is the WrestleMania debut for Evan Bourne, Jack Swagger, Dolph Ziggler, and Drew McIntyre. Obviously that makes it their first time in this match as well. This is the sixth ever Money in the Bank match, and it’s the second time for Kingston, the third time for MVP, the fifth time for Benjamin, the third time for Hardy, the third time for Kane, and the third time for Christian. McIntyre is the current Intercontinental Champion. In qualifying matches Christian beat Carlito, Ziggler beat John Morrison and R-Truth in a triple threat, Kane beat McIntyre, Benjamin beat CM Punk, Swagger beat Santino Marella, MVP beat Zack Ryder, Hardy also beat McIntyre, Bourne beat William Regal, McIntyre beat a local competitor, and Kingston beat Vladimir Kozlov.

This is the greatest number of competitors in the Money in the Bank match to date. Obviously this match is going to be hard to call. Bourne, MVP, and Hardy all work together to eliminate McIntyre early. A slew of guys go up for the case and Bourne gets the closest, but Kane pulls him down and throws him onto a gaggle of guys on the floor. More ladders get involved and bodies are flying all over the place. Of everyone, Christian and Hardy have the most experience in ladder matches, but Shelton isn’t too far behind them. Kingston, MVP, and Benjamin form a unit to battle Kane, but the Big Red Monster fights them off. Benjamin hits MVP with Paydirt and then kicks a ladder into McIntyre’s face on the floor. Swagger and Bourne go at it in the ring and Bourne takes him out. Christian and Hardy trap Swagger underneath a ladder and jam two more ladders into his ribs from either side. They climb up on either side and Bourne joins them from the side of the ladder. Swagger pushes Hardy’s ladder out from underneath him and Bourne kicks Christian down and then hits Air Bourne! Bourne tries to grab the case but Hardy throws him down. Swagger then throws Hardy down. MVP and Benjamin climb up next but it doesn’t take long for them to tumble to the floor. No one is even in the ring at this point. Kane is first in the ring and tries to climb but Ziggler climbs over him and almost gets the case but Kane pushes him over. He then Chokeslams Ziggler on top of a ladder and traps him inside of it and actually breaks it. Kingston gets back in and this Kane with Trouble in Paradise. He actually takes the broken ladder and uses it as stilts and almost gets to the case but McIntyre knocks him down. McIntyre climbs but Hardy knocks him down. Hardy gets his hands on the case and takes forever trying to unhook it so Christian and Kane stop him. Christian hits the falling inverted DDT off the ladder, which Cole identifies as the Twist of Fate. Now Christian and Swagger climb up and Christian gets his hands on the case. Swagger swings it into Christian’s face and pulls the case down at 13:28. I love Money in the Bank and they did some really creative spots in this one. Ten guys is too many but they made the most of it.
Rating: ****

MATCH #4: Triple H vs. Sheamus

This is Sheamus’ WrestleMania debut, and the fourteenth appearance at the Show of Shows for the King of Kings. They try to psyche each other out with the power game early on. HHH goes for a Pedigree but Sheamus slips out. Sheamus tries to overpower the Game, but instead takes a clothesline, a vertical suplex, and a knee drop for one. Wisely, Sheamus rolls to the floor but HHH quickly retrieves him. Back in the ring HHH goes to work on the legs, using a Figure-Four Leglock. Sheamus reaches the ropes and rolls back to the floor. HHH follows him out but Sheamus whips him into the steel steps. Back in the ring again Sheamus hits the Irish Curse backbreaker and then another one. Sheamus is fully in control now. HHH fights out of a chinlock with a back suplex. He follows up with a DDT and hits the high knee and the facebuster (called by some jackass in the front row) for two. HHH tries the Pedigree but Sheamus blocks it, but he can’t block the neckbreaker. A series of reversals ends with Sheamus hitting the Brogue Kick for a two-count. HHH fights back with the spinebuster for two. Sheamus rolls to the apron and is able to hit another Brogue Kick. Sheamus sets up for Pale Justice but HHH hits the Pedigree form out of nowhere to get the pin at 12:08. That was a pretty good power match but the finish seemed too abrupt. Sheamus would go on to get much better.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #5: Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk

Punk was cutting amazing promos at this time, especially the creepy rendition of Happy Birthday he sang to Rey’s daughter. He’s accompanied to the ring for this match by fellow Straight Edge Society members Luke Gallows and Serena, and he cuts a promo on his way to the ring. Mysterio’s gear tonight is inspired by the movie “Avatar,” and Punk has gear inspired by G.I. Joe. Gallows distracts Mysterio to start and Punk takes control. Serena also liberally interferes. Mysterio gets tied up in the Tree of Woe and Punk goes for a baseball slide but Mysterio avoids it. On the floor Punk is able to slam Mysterio’s face on the steel steps. Back in the ring Punk goes right back to work. Mysterio fights back with the seated senton but he tries a cross body block and Punk catches him in a powerslam for two. Every time Mysterio tries a comeback Punk is able to cut him off. Mysterio mostly hits the amazing DDT from Halloween Havoc ’97 and Punk kicks out at two. He follows up with the 619 but Punk catches him. Punk sets up for the Go 2 Sleep but Mysterio fights out of that. Mysterio kicks Punk in the face and goes up top to miss a Frog Splash. Punk covers but only gets two. He hits the high knee in the corner and tries a powerbomb but Mysterio counters by putting Punk in position for the 619. Serena and Gallows interfere, but Mysterio thwarts them and finally hits the 619 and follows up with the springboard splash to get the pin at 6:29. That was criminally short, but to be fair this was hardly a marquee match and the feud would go on to have longer, better matches.
Rating: ***

MATCH #6: No Holds Barred Match – Bret “Hit Man” Hart vs. Mr. McMahon

McMahon wants to screw Hart again, so he brings out a bunch of Hart family members, including Natalya, David Hart Smith, Tyson Kidd, and a bunch of others. Bruce (in sunglasses) is going to be the special guest referee. Bret gets on the mic and laments his family’s decision. He then reveals that the family has actually double-crossed McMahon! McMahon looks stunned as Hart goes to work on his most hated rival ever. The Hart family even gets their shots in on the floor. This is just going to be a massacre. The Hart Dynasty even hits the Hart Attack out on the floor! Back in the ring Hart goes to work some more. McMahon rolls to the floor and gets beat on some more by the Hart family until he goes under the ring and grabs a crowbar. He tries to use it on Hart but can’t connect and the Hit Man gets a hold of the weapon instead. Hart thinks about going for the Sharpshooter but decides McMahon needs more punishment first. He kicks McMahon in the balls and then works him over with a steel chair for what seems like forever. Finally Hart locks in the Sharpshooter and McMahon taps out at 11:08. Given the age and limitations of both participants, that was the best they could do. It wasn’t a good match but it gives closure to the storyline and it had to happen.
Rating: *

MATCH #7: World Heavyweight Championship Match – Chris Jericho vs. Edge

Jericho has been the Champion since 2.21.10, and this is his first defense. Edge won the Royal Rumble to earn this title shot. Matt Striker tries to say that this is the first time these two have wrestled, but that is blatantly false. They start with some basic back and forth. Edge signals for an early Spear but Jericho bails to the floor. Striker tries to say that these two traveled the roads together before coming to WWE but that again is completely false. While I stew about the things Striker says, Jericho takes control. When Edge tries to come back the Champ cuts him off and continues the assault. Jericho goes for the springboard dropkick but Edge avoids it and knocks Jericho from the apron into the announce table. Edge hits Jericho with a clothesline off the apron. Back in the ring they fight up on the top rope and Edge hits a gourdbuster for a two-count. Jericho tries the Walls of Jericho but Edge pushes off. Edge tries a cross body block off the top rope but Jericho rolls through for two. Jericho tries the Walls again but Edge again counters it. Edge gets a sunset flip off the second rope for two, and then Jericho rolls through and kicks Edge right in the face. Jericho tries the Codebreaker but Edge blocks it. Edge tries the Spear again but Jericho catches him and locks on the Walls of Jericho, which Edge counters to a cradle for two. Jericho tries the Lionsault but Edge avoids it and hits the Edge-o-Matic for two. Back on their feet Jericho hits an enziguiri for two. Edge responds with an Impaler DDT for two. Jericho gets a boot up in the corner and goes to the second rope to hit a forearm to the back of the head. He signals for the Spear but Edge boots him right in the face. Now Edge signals for the Spear but Jericho cuts him off with the Codebreaker! That gets a two-count. Now Jericho focuses in on the ankle, putting on the Walls of Jericho. Edge almost makes the ropes but Jericho pulls him back to the center of the ring and switches it to a single leg crab, focusing right on the injured limb. Finally Edge reaches the ropes and is able to grab a cradle for two. They take a spill to the floor and Jericho goes for his belt. Back in the ring Edge inadvertently bumps the referee and Jericho cracks him with the belt. Jericho covers but only gets two! He hits another Codebreaker and Edge is done at 15:46. That was a well worked match and the crowd popped for all the signature moves and near-falls, but it just seemed to be lacking that little spark of hatred that would elevate it from a very good match to a great match.
Rating: ***¾

After the bell Jericho continues to attack the ankle. Edge gets angry and fights back, clearing off the announce table. He gets up on the table and Spears Jericho through the barricade! That was a cool spot and a good way to pop the crowd after the babyface lost.

MATCH #8: 10-Diva Tag Team Match – Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Eve, Gail Kim & Beth Phoenix vs. Michelle McCool, Maryse, Layla, Alicia Fox & Vickie Guerrero

McCool is the Women’s Champion and Maryse is the Divas Champion. I can’t believe they ever thought they needed two championships in the Women’s/Divas division. Phoenix looks positively massive in the lineup of her team. Kim and Guerrero start the match. Guerrero bumps Kim and gloats about it, so Phoenix tags in and runs Guerrero back into the corner. Eve tags in, then Kim, then James, then Kelly, so all the members of team Eve get a shot at Guerrero, who doesn’t really know how to sell. Not that I blame her, but why make her take the heat then? Kelly hits the K2 but McCool comes in and pulls Kelly right into the Faithbreaker. James comes in and hits McCool with the DDT. Layla hits James with a neckbreaker. Kim hits Layla with Eat Defeat. Maryse hits Kim with the French Kiss. Eve hits Maryse with a somersault senton. Fox hits Eve with the axe kick. Phoenix hits Fox with the Glam Slam. She tries to grab Guerrero but McCool kicks her in the head. McCool then encourages Guerrero to hit the Cougar Splash (paying tribute to Eddie a total babyface spot) on Kelly. Guerrero pulls Kelly’s shoulders up too far so the referee has to actually stop the pin and then restart it, but it’s enough to get the pin at 3:25. That was what you would expect from the Divas.
Rating: ½*

MATCH #9: WWE Championship Match – Batista vs. John Cena

Batista has been the Champion since 2.21.10, and this is his first defense. The careers of these two men are almost mirror images of each other, which makes this an awesome match to have right now. Cena starts off with a headlock to keep Batista grounded. Batista fires back and I expect we’re going to see a lot of offense in this match. Cena hits an awkward looking suplex and then his bulldog for a two-count. He tries the Attitude Adjustment but Batista counters to a sick DDT for two. Batista uses a chinlock and Cena powers up and out of it. They trade punches and the crowd is doing the boo (Cena) / yay (Batista) thing. Batista goes back to the chinlock and Cena powers out again with a back body drop. Cena unleashes a flurry of offense, hitting the Protoplex and signaling for the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Batista cuts him off with a spinebuster. Cena grabs the leg and puts on the STF. Batista gets to the ropes and then levels Cena with a Spear. He sets Cena up top and Cena knocks him down and hits a Five Knuckle Shuffle from the top rope. Cena goes for the Attitude Adjustment but Batista counters it to the Batista Bomb! Amazingly that only gets two. A series of reversals ends with Cena hitting a huge Attitude Adjustment but Batista kicks out at two! Cena goes up top and jumps right into a Batista Bomb, just like SummerSlam 2008. Batista goes for another Batista Bomb but Cena rolls through and locks on the STF, forcing Batista to tap the title away at 13:29! That makes Cena a seven-time WWE Champion and a nine-time overall World Champion. The ridiculousness of that fact aside, this match was all kinds of awesome, with two badass power wrestlers throwing everything they had at each other. These two had amazing chemistry together and this match felt like a big, epic WrestleMania match. I love it.
Rating: ****¼

MATCH #10: Streak vs. Career – Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels

Michaels makes the throat slashing gesture at Undertaker, which angers the big man and away we go. Undertaker hits Snake Eyes and a big boot right off the bat, as they’re setting a pretty torrid pace. He tries a Chokeslam but Michaels blocks it. Undertaker then tries a Tombstone but Michaels avoids that too. Michaels almost hits a Superkick but Undertaker is able to duck that. Now Michaels wisely goes after Undertaker’s knee, which seems to be the weak spot. Undertaker comes back and knocks Michaels to the floor. It looks like he’s going to go for the tope but Michaels catches him with a shoulder right to the knee. Undertaker fights back and targets Michaels’ back, which was actually injured in a match these two had together back at Royal Rumble 1998. He hits the leg drop on the apron. Back in the ring Michaels puts on the Figure-Four Leglock and Undertaker reverses the hold. Michaels hits the flying forearm but when he kips up Undertaker grabs him and hits the Chokeslam! That only gets two. What a great spot. Undertaker goes for the Tombstone but Michaels wriggles out and puts on the Ankle Lock but it gets broken. Michaels clotheslines Undertaker to the floor and then tries the springboard cross body block but Undertaker catches him and hits the Tombstone! That’s what beat Jake Roberts at WrestleMania VIII. A doctor tries to tend to Michaels but Undertaker shoves him away and throws Michaels back in the ring for a two-count. Undertaker goes for the Last Ride but Michaels counters with the X-Factor for two. Michaels goes up top and tries the elbow drop but Undertaker gets his knees up! Undertaker grabs Michaels in the Hell’s Gate but Michaels gets a jackknife pin for two. Michaels gets up and nails Sweet Chin Music! Undertaker kicks out at two. Michaels tunes up the band but Undertaker catches it and this time hits the Last Ride but Michaels kicks out! Undertaker pitches Michaels to the floor and follows him out. He gets the Spanish Announce Table ready for the Last Ride but Michaels slips out and this Sweet Chin Music! Undertaker is laid out on the table and Michaels goes to the top rope and breaks the table with a Moonsault! Michaels rolls Undertaker back in the ring and hits another Sweet Chin Music but Undertaker kicks out! This is amazing. Michaels tunes up the band again but Undertaker grabs him by the throat for another Chokeslam! Undertaker picks him up and hits the Tombstone but Michaels kicks out! The straps come down and Undertaker goes to make the throat slashing motion but he stops, looking at Michaels crumpled beneath him. Michaels pulls himself up, clawing at Undertaker’s chest, and he makes the throat slash, asking for Undertaker to put him away, slapping him across the face. Undertaker obliges, hitting a jumping Tombstone Piledriver to end the greatest career of all-time at 23:59. Technically this was just a shade under last year’s match, but with the added drama of it being Michaels’s last match, and the brilliant finish that literally gave me goose bumps, I can’t think of a reason not to rate this as high as I can.
Rating: *****

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