It’s not often a non-title match headlines Wrestlemania. Still, after the Undertaker and Shawn Michaels tore the house down last year in Houston, it only made sense to put them in the top spot for Sunday night’s Wrestlemania XXVI show in Arizona.
Living up to the hype of their previous match was a difficult task, but both men gave it their all. On a night that already saw Chris Jericho retain his World Heavyweight Championship against Edge and John Cena nab the WWE Championship from Batista, the announced crowd of 72,219 at University of Phoenix Stadium saved its loudest reactions for the main event.
The stakes were higher this time around, with Undertaker’s perfect 17-0 record at previous Wrestlemanias going up against Michaels’ career, which would be over if he lost. He showed his lack of fear by stealing the Dead Man’s signature gesture and making a throat slash before the action began.
After an exchange of chops, Undertaker whipped Shawn into a corner and struck with a running boot to the face. He followed with a charge into the corner and delivered his Old School rope walk.
Michaels slipped away from a choke slam attempt and began attacking ‘Taker’s left knee, a tactic he would return to throughout the match. Shawn found himself hurled out to the floor twice, where his back was rammed into the ring post.
Undertaker hit his trademark leg drop off the apron but was soon fending off a Figure Four back inside the squared circle. He flipped it over to escape but was quickly dropped again by a flying forearm shot.
The crowd cheered as Shawn kipped up, but ‘Taker rose quickly and scored with a choke slam. HBK scrambled to kick out, then managed to counter a Tombstone with an ankle lock.
Michaels clotheslined his foe to the outside and held on to skin the cat. He tried to follow with a springboard cross body but was caught in mid-air and fell victim to a Tombstone on the floor.
Undertaker took the fight back inside the ring, where his Last Ride was partially countered. Michaels went for the flying elbow off the top rope, but Undertaker got his knees up at the last second.
The Dead Man turned to his Hell’s Gate submission only to see HBK roll through it for a near fall. Sweet Chin Music followed for another two count, but Undertaker blocked a second attempt and hit the Last Ride for his own near fall.
Tossing Shawn to the outside again, Undertaker cleared off the announce table. But his Last Ride attempt was countered with more Sweet Chin Music, and he was the one who ended up on the table. Michaels climbed high for a moonsault that left both men in the shattered debris of the table.
Michaels literally dragged his enemy back inside for more Sweet Chin Music, but ‘Taker managed to kick out at two. Sidestepping another superkick, the Dead Man delivered a choke slam and a Tombstone only to incredulously watch Michaels kick out again.
Undertaker took the straps of his singlet off and went for his throat slash before thinking better of it. Glancing down at the battered Michaels, he implored HBK to stay down. Shawn pulled himself up off the canvas and managed to slap ‘Taker in the face in a final show of heart.
As it turned out, it would also be the beginning of the end. Undertaker jumped to add some force to another Tombstone and covered Michaels for the three count. He savored his victory for a few moments but eventually helped HBK to his feet, shook his hand and hugged him.
Michaels lingered in the ring, soaking in what could be the final applause of his illustrious career. He dropped to his knees at the top of the ramp as another Wrestlemania came to an emotional conclusion.
The next WWE pay-per-view is Extreme Rules on April 25th.
If you’ve been with us for the past few years, you know the drill by now. Nick’s comments will be in plain type with Dale’s comments in italics.
This year’s three-man rotation at the announce table is Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker. Yes, I said Matt Striker.
My apologies to The King! J.R., please get well soon.
The Miz and Big Show (champions) vs. R-Truth and John Morrison (challengers) – Unified Tag Team Championship Match
R-Truth and Morrison try to prove they are a legit tag team early by double teaming The Miz. Show tags in and catches R-Truth during a cross body. Show tosses him across the ring with a fall-away slam. Morrison tags in and sets Miz up for the corkscrew moonsault, but Miz is pulled out of the ring and Morrison crashes and burns. The Miz tries for the Skull Crushing Finale, but Morrison counters. Show makes a blind tag and then decks Morrison as he tries a springboard maneuver. Show steps in the ring and covers Morrison to retain the belts.
I know the WWE hasn’t cared about the tag team division in… well, it’s been a long time. But why even put this on the show if it’s only going to be three minutes long? It’s kind of a shame, too, because even though I hate to admit it, Miz and Show are really growing on me.
Winner … The Miz and Big Show at 3 minutes and 22 seconds.
Match Rating: 3/10
Ted DiBiase vs. Cody Rhodes vs. Randy Orton – Triple Threat Match
This is a de facto handicap match, so Orton knocks Rhodes to the floor, but DiBiase dropkicks Orton. Rhodes and DiBiase stomp away at Orton, and then beat him into the corner. Orton fights out of the corner, but DiBiase takes him out with a clothesline. Rhodes climbs the ropes, but DiBiase makes the pin attempt. Rhodes pulls Ted off Orton and tosses him from the ring. Cody hits an Alabama Slam and makes an attempt to cover. DiBiase pulls Rhodes off, and the two fight on the outside. Orton gets to his feet to drop DiBiase over the ropes, then he power slams Rhodes. Orton hits Cody with a back breaker and stalks his prey. DiBiase pulls Orton from the ring, and Rhodes comes flying over the top rope. Unfortunately, Rhodes crashes into his own partner. Orton catches both men re-entering the ring, dropping both with a DDT. Ted is pushed from the ring, and Orton eyes up Rhodes for the punt. Randy rears back and nearly kicks Cody out of the ring. Orton catches DiBiase coming up from behind, blocking Dream Street, and then hitting an RKO. Orton covers Ted and gets the win.
Winner … Randy Orton at 9 minutes.
Match Rating: 5.5/10
Josh Matthews interviews Vickie Guerrero’s Diva team. Jillian Hall sings (sort of), and Santino Marella pimps Slim Jim.
Santino’s Slim Jim is magic! He just snaps into it to get Jillian to change into Mae Young (who gives him a kiss) and then again to get Mae to transform Gene Okerlund in a dress, then into Melina. I like Slim Jims, but I’ve never had one that could do that.
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 – Money in the Bank Match
I mean, there isn’t much point to me trying to recap every move of this match. Having ten men in the ring made it a little crowded at first, but once ladders came into play and the bodies started flying, it wasn’t too much different from in years past. Plenty of big bumps off the ladders, of course, and Bourne got a big pop when he hit Air Bourne on Christian off a ladder. Money in the Bank also always delivers something you’ve never seen before, and this time it was Kofi using two ladders as stilts, literally walking them out into the middle of the ring. Christian, Hardy and Kane ended up in a three-way battle on two ladders, and Christian emerged from the chaos looking like he was going to win the whole thing. But Swagger raced up the other side and smashed the case into Christian’s case, leaving him all alone. It took him a few minutes of fumbling with the case — enough to almost make me think someone was supposed to stop him — but Swagger eventually pulled it down to win the match.
Winner … Jack Swagger at 13 minutes and 41 seconds.
Match Rating: 7/10
A video recap takes us back to Saturday night’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, with Bob Uecker and Ted DiBiase both giving memorable speeches. Fittingly, DiBiase made it rain money at the end of the night. Keeping with tradition, the new class was brought to the stage to acknowledge the fans, though the late Stu Hart and Gorgeous George both needed family members to stand in for them.
Triple H vs. Sheamus
Hunter slaps Sheamus in the corner. Sheamus slips out of a Pedigree and rolls to the floor. Sheamus whips Hunter into the ring steps and smashes him off the barrier. Back in the ring, Sheamus and Hunter trade punches. Sheamus power slams Hunter, and then locks in an arm bar. Hunter hits a back suplex, and then hits a DDT. Hunter and Sheamus trade punches again. Hunter hits a high knee, and then a face buster. Sheamus counters a Pedigree but gets kicked into the corner. Hunter hits a neck breaker and sets Sheamus up on the top turnbuckle. Sheamus counters, but Hunter drops out of the Celtic Cross. Sheamus counters the Pedigree and hits the bicycle kick. Hunter kicks out of the pin. Hunter fights out of another Celtic Cross and hits a spinebuster. Sheamus kicks out of the pin and follows with a kick from the apron. Sheamus picks up Hunter, who was playing possum. Hunter hits the Pedigree and covers. HHH gets the three count for the win.
Winner … Triple H at 12 minutes and seven seconds.
Match Rating: 6/10
A video package reminds everyone of the issues that stirred up the feud between Rey Mysterio and CM Punk. Usually I’m not a huge fan of angles that involve non-wrestling family members, but I thought this one worked. And if you aren’t a fan of the current heel Punk character, well, I don’t know if we can be friends.
CM Punk w/ Luke Gallows and Serena vs. Rey Mysterio
Punk lands a big kick early on but shows some frustration by unsuccessfully trying for the cover about four times in a row. Mysterio gets his first real offense in using a counter DDT to score a near fall. After a series of reversals, Rey tries and misses a Frog Splash. He lines up a 619, but Serena throws herself in front of Punk. Mysterio counters a Go To Sleep, knocking Gallows off the apron in the process. He hits the 619 and a big splash to get the pinfall. No Straight Edge Society for him.
Winner … Rey Mysterio at six minutes and 29 seconds.
Match Rating: 7/10
Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon – No Holds Barred Match
Vince walks out on stage with a microphone. He tells Bret that he is in for a Wrestlemania-sized screwing. Vince went out and bought a bunch of lumberjacks and a special referee. Vince paid the Hart Dynasty and the Hart family to be at ringside as lumberjacks. Plus, the special referee is Bret’s brother Bruce. Bret isn’t happy, obviously, but it seems the Hart family got paid up front. Bret says his family is united, and there is a double cross in the works.
Vince goes down with one punch, and Bret pulls him to his feet. Vince rolls out of the ring, and the Hart Dynasty tees off on him. DH Smith picks Vince up, and Tyson Kidd hits a flying forearm off the top rope. Vince pulls a crowbar out from under the ring, and the Harts back off. Bret isn’t intimidated, and keeps up the assault inside the ring. Hart grabs the crowbar and beats Vince with it. Bret gets a chair and takes a break in the middle of the ring. Vince gets to his feet, only to be smacked back down with the chair. After a number of chair shots, Hart finally decides to end it with the Sharpshooter. Vince quickly taps.
Winner … Bret Hart at 11 minutes and eight seconds.
Match Rating: 4.5/10
Wrestlemania 27 will take place at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta, Georgia.
You know what that means — road trip!
Chris Jericho (champion) vs. Edge (challenger) – World Heavyweight Title Match
Some nice mat work opens up the hostilities, and Edge uses a running shoulder to get the upper hand. After an exchange of strikes, Edge scores with a flapjack. Jericho rallies by guillotining Edge on the bottom rope and slowing the pace. Both men get in some offense before Jericho is knocked off the apron into the announce table. The fight returns to the ring and ends up on top of one of the turnbuckles, where Edge delivers a facebuster. Edge hits a cross body but Jericho rolls through for two. Several counters later, Jericho jumps away from a spear and locks in the Walls of Jericho. Edge ends up rolling through into a small package for two, the first of several consecutive near falls. Jericho tries a spear of his own but is dropped by a running boot to the face. Edge is nailed by a Codebreaker but manages to kick out at two. Jericho resumes his assault and gets the Walls on again. Edge escapes and gets another near fall, but Jericho makes his way out to grab his title belt and manages to have the ref take a bump on his way back in. He nails Edge with the belt, but it isn’t enough to keep him down. Jericho strikes with another Codebreaker which does the trick this time.
Winner … and still World Heavyweight Champion … Chris Jericho at 15 minutes and 47 seconds.
Match Rating: 8/10
After the match, Edge beats up Jericho, spearing him off the announce table through the ringside barricade.
Eve Torres, Beth Phoenix, Kelly Kelly, Gail Kim & Mickie James vs. Alicia Fox, Vickie Guerrero, Maryse, Layla & Michelle McCool.
Well, yeah, it’s a ten-woman tag match. And one of the women is Vickie. There is a cool sequence of signature moves at one point, but it’s all ruined by McCool laying out Phoenix and tagging in Vickie. She uses a horrible Bullfrog Splash on Beth, but the pin is so sloppy that the ref is forced to say Phoenix got her shoulder up even though she clearly wasn’t trying. Guerrero covers again and this time gets the pin. If I was allowed to give the last minute of this match negative points, I would.
Winners … Alicia Fox, Vickie Guerrero, Maryse, Layla & Michelle McCool at three minutes and 22 seconds.
Match Rating: 1/10
Batista (champion) vs. John Cena (challenger) – WWE Title Match
John Cena is joined by the Air Force Honor Guard drill team for his entrance.
|WHAT YOU THINK|
What did you think of WrestleMania 26?
It was great – 31%
It was okay – 33%
Didn’t like it – 9%
Didn’t see it – 27%
It’s actually pretty cool, but certainly not as spectacular as some of Cena’s previous entrances.
Batista and Cena lock up, with the champion getting the upper hand. A shoulder block sends Cena to mat. Cena ducks a punch in the corner and pummels Batista with punches. The champ counters by whipping Cena into the corner and then kicking him in the head. Cena hits a suplex, and both men are down. Batista counters an Attitude Adjustment with a DDT. Batista locks in a sleeper with a body scissors. Cena gets to his feet with Batista on his back. Cena breaks the hold, but Batista knees him in the back. Both men trade blows until the champion hits a neck breaker. Cena breaks another hold with a back body drop. Cena builds some momentum with a shoulder block and side slam. He follows with a Five Knuckle Shuffle attempt, but Batista jumps to his feet and counters with a spinebuster. Batista gives the thumbs down, but Cena counters into an STF. The champ gets to the ropes to break the hold, and then hits a spear. Batista covers for a two count. Batista sets Cena up on the top rope, but Cena fights him off and hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle off the top rope. Cena looks for the Attitude Adjustment, but the champ counters into the Batista Bomb. Batista covers, but Cena kicks out. Batista and Cena counter each other until Cena finally hits the AA. Batista kicks out at two. Cena climbs the turnbuckle, but the champ counters the high risk maneuver into a Batista Bomb. Cena counters another Batista Bomb into the STF. Batista can’t get to the ropes and is forced to tap out.
Winner … and new WWE Champion … John Cena at 13 minutes and 29 seconds.
Match Rating: 6.5/10
Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker
Winner… The Undertaker at 23 minutes and 59 seconds
Match Rating: 9.5/10
Total Event Time: 3 hours and 56 minutes
Event Rating: 6.5/10
One final thought on the televised product. Michael Cole and Matt Striker did a horrendous job on commentary. Seriously, it cost the show a full point in our ratings.