To preface, I haven’t been watching WWE television in recent months, so oftentimes during the PPV, I had no idea who was heel or face, who was the champ or the challenger, or in some cases (I’m looking at you, Intercontinental Champion Drew McIntyre), who the hell some of these noobs were. That being said, I was invited to watch “the greatest spectacle in sports entertainment ever, of all time, this year” with friends, and figured “why the hell not?” I was a hardcore mark from about 1998 to when Chris Benoit offed his family and himself, so it was nice to have a night of yelling at the TV, eating junk food, and talkin’ wrasslin’ with a bunch of like-minded peeps.
Wrestlemania XXVI (26 to those of you non-Roman-numeral-literate) emanated from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, to the tune of 72K in live attendance. As is par for the course with Wrestlemania, the stage and ring setup were amazing, the former featuring a multi-level pyramid design, and the latter including a cylindrical video screen that would lower to the ring during the pre and post-match pomp and circumstance. Besides the two World Championship matches and a 10-Man Money In the Bank ladder match, the card was to be highlighted by The Undertaker/Shawn Michaels rematch from WMXXV, only this year, it would be the Undertaker’s undefeated Wrestlemania streak versus Michaels’ career. But that would come later. Much later. Let’s run through the card starting with the top (or the bottom, depending on your POV):
Unified Tag Team Championships:
ShowMiz (Big Show & The Miz), Champions vs. John Morrison & R-Truth
Boy…I never thought I’d see K-Kwik walking a Wrestlemania aisle. But he did. Rapping all the way, and was damn near out of gas before he stepped into the squared circle. I can’t hate on The Miz whatsoever. That guy was always a wrestling fan, since before he was just Mike on The Real World, and to parlay that reality-TV-stardom into a curtain-jerking spot on Wrestlemania is astounding. The Miz currently holds three WWE championships: the unified Tag-belts, and the United States Championship, which I lament was NOT defended on the biggest PPV of the year. But more on that later. Blink and you’ll miss the finish of this quicker-than-a-hiccup match by way of a Big Show fist to Morrison’s chiseled jaw.
Winners and still Champions: ShowMiz (Big Show and The Miz)
Triple-Threat Grudge Match: Randy Orton vs. Ted Dibiase vs. Cody Rhodes
God…I can’t wrap my head around the notion that Randy Orton is garnering cheers. I thought this guy was widely regarded as a brown stain on contemporary WWE. You can’t really find a more bland Triple-Threat. Orton is the king of looking like a creepy douche, and takes the win via RKO.
Winner: Randy Orton
10-Man 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
I remember when this match was new and interesting, and was limited to only six participants. Throwing an extra four guys into the mix with about a dozen ladders makes a once-riveting concept a spot-fest train-wreck. How is it possible that with 10 participants, there were parts of this match that had nothing going on? This match has become a placeholder for Superstars without an ongoing angle, instead of a showcase of the best of the undercard. The inclusion of Drew McIntyre in this match disappointed me, A. Because I don’t know who the fuck he is, and B. Because he’s the current IC champ, a once revered title which has only been defended at Wrestlemania ONCE since 2002. Most every spot was botched, and it turned into a comedy skit when Kingston used two halves of a broken ladder as stilts. The only “Holy Shit!” moment came courtesy of Evan Bourne’s gorgeous Shooting Star Press off the ladder. Jack Schwagger puts us out of our misery after fiddling with the briefcase for what seemed like an eternity.
Winner: Jack Swagger
Grudge Match: Triple H vs. Sheamus
Vince’s son-in-law does his best to put over his new workout buddy, the damn-near-translucent Sheamus, however, the match was forgettable. Sheamus snuck out of the Pedigree a handful of times, before Triple H finally locks it in, visibly protecting his ginger buddy.
Winner: Triple H
CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio
After a great video package showcasing Punk’s creepy rendition of “Happy Birthday”, the two make their way to the ring, Punk, in G.I. Joe-inspired camo ring attire, and Rey, done up as a Na’vi, complete with “made for sexin’” pony-tail. The stipulation of this match read that if Punk won, Rey would join his Straight-Edge-Society, consisting of Punk, Festus, and the one chick that agreed to shave her head for the role. Logic would’ve had Punk winning the match, giving Rey an angle similar to when he was forced to be a part of Eddie Guerrero’s LWO, but alas, Rey takes the win even with the SES at ringside.
Winner: Rey Mysterio
No-Holds-Barred: Bret Hart vs. Mr. McMahon
A grudge-match 13-years in the making, Bret Hart was finally able to get his hands on Vince, the man responsible for the Montreal Screwjob at Survivor Series 1997. It’s a shame, however, that Bret was in no condition to fight, or never will be, for that matter, following a stiff kick to the head from Goldberg towards the end of WCW’s run, and a subsequent stroke. Bret brought his best jean shorts out of the closet for this occasion, and Vince brings down the entire Hart family, including the Hart Dynasty as part of another screw-job against Bret. Bret informs Vince that this is indeed a triple-cross, and the Hart family proceeds to beat down Mr. McMahon while Bret chills in the ring. It’s all very hard to watch, until Bret starts to unload on Vince with a steel chair. He layed into him! After about 20 chair shots to the back/chest, Bret finally wraps Vince up in the Sharpshooter, and the match is over. Bret gets his reckoning, and hopefully never has to step in a ring again.
Winner by Submission: Bret Hart
World Heavyweight Championship: Edge vs. Chris Jericho (Champion)
Besides the Intercontinental Championship not being defended at Wrestlemania, another unfortunate trend in WWE continues: The Champion should always enter last, not first. That’s the way it always was. It’s the Champion’s right to enter the ring after the challenger. But instead, WWE likes to give the second entrance to the person with the bigger pop, I guess. Good for Jericho as champ, however. That guy, despite being the first Undisputed World Champion, always seemed to get the short end, now with Rock, Austin, et. al. out the door, Jericho has a deserved spot at the top of the card as a seasoned vet. Edge, on the other hand, since the Matt Hardy/Lita debacle, I cannot believe as a face, nor can I stand his face. Oh yeah, did I mention the current Walls of Jericho sucks? Why would they/he change it to a weak Boston Crab? Bend that f—er on his neck! Jericho takes the win after a glancing Code Breaker.
Winner and still World Heavyweight Champion: Chris Jericho
Recorded earlier in the night, highlights are shown from the 26-Superstar WrestleMania Battle Royal. What a ridiculous, arbitrary number. And here I thought the Money In the Bank match was the dumping ground for Superstars without an angle. Japanese-upstart Yoshi Tatsu wins and his awesome J-Poppy entrance music plays.
Winner: Yoshi Tatsu
10-Diva Tag Match:
Eve Torres, Kelly Kelly, Mickie James, Gail Kim and Beth Phoenix
vs. Vickie Guerrero, Maryse, Michelle McCool, Layla and Alicia Fox
With WWE’s new PG attitude, the Divas are kind of useless, no? The whole appeal of the Divas back in the Attitude-era was the chance there would be a nipple slip. Now they HAVE to wrestle, and despite a few bright spots, on the whole, they are just awful. So, WWE says “Let’s throw 10 of them in a match, no one will notice!” I noticed. I also noticed how AMAZING Eve Torres looks. Wow. Nom Nom Nom. Poor Vickie Guerrero, though. Eddie’s widow is one of the biggest heels in the company, and that just seems like a huge dump on Latino Heat’s grave. At least she’s getting a check. Vickie gets the win for her team after an ugly, sloppy “Frog-Splash” off the top rope onto Kelly Kelly, but only after the ref had to stop the count because she pulled Kelly’s shoulders off the mat. Oops. I guess wrestling acumen isn’t sexually transmitted.
Winners: Vickie Guerrero, Maryse, Michelle McCool, Layla and Alicia Fox
WWE Championship: John Cena vs. Batista (Champion)
Once again, the Champion enters first, allowing John Cena to bore us with a Rifle-team drill before his entrance. Batista is a great worker and character when he’s not injured, so good for him for making it to Mania unscathed, and I think he really flourishes as a heel. John Cena, is well, John Cena. He sells t-shirts to 10-year olds. Another sloppy match with missed spots, and about 12 false finishes. Cena regains the title after his awful STF. One of the greatest moments of the night, however, came courtesy of Cena, when after his title win, he goes to the barricade and smiles with his title in front of a group of fans sporting “We Hate Cena” T-shirts. Hey…at least the guy knows he’s not very well liked by many, and can laugh about it.
Winner, and new WWE Champion: John Cena
Streak vs. Career: The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels
Rightfully the main event, especially considering the classic these two put on at last year’s Mania, however, HBK comes down to little fanfare besides some entrance pyro. No garish entrance attire or zip-lining from the ceiling hijinx. Taker, however, rises from beneath the stage in old-school Ministry garb, but unfortunately, without druids lining the ramp. The match is slow going for a LONG while, until both start to eat and kick out of each others’ finishers. Taker seems to be nearing a win with a devastating Tombstone, crosses the arms, sticks out his tongue, but HBK kicks. Taker urges HBK to stay down, but Michaels will not let up, and motions for The Deadman to finish him, once and for all. One more Tombstone later, and The Undertaker retains his Wrestlemania streak, and The Heartbreak Kid rides off into the sunset of retirement.
Winner: The Undertaker
Besides the final five minutes of the main event, this Wrestlemania was forgettable and barely passable. The epidemic of blown spots and terrible direction/production decisions made it seem like they haven’t been doing this for 26 years. Personally, if I were a new viewer, nothing in this show would’ve made me want to continue to watch WWE television.
I give Wrestlemania XXVI 1 out of 5 “We Hate Cena” T-shirts.
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