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Monday, 31 March 2008

Wrestlemania Live Reaction

Greetings one and all, it’s currently 11.42 here in the UK as I have just watched the freeview on WWE.com of the battle royal, and my first prediction has come in. Kane will be the man to take on Chavo. Not a bad battle royal, though a little short. A nice set of spots with Kendrick being through out and Kofi Kingston following, and when they were still recovering at ringside, Jamie Noble went over the top, and used the prone wrestlers on the outside as a flight of stairs. Palumbo then booted him out.

No rain at the moment, but very open stadium, and dark clouds looming. The stage and ring is a little off putting, but this is mania, so at least it looks unique.

00.01am
It’s raining. Interesting.

00.07am
The Belfast brawl is first up. I thought they said that the ECW title match would open the show?

00.17am
A few minutes in, and pretty intense, Hornswoggle is with Finlay and has hit JBL and been taken out himself so far. As I type Finlay dives to the outside and it met with a trash can lid. Reminiscent of he-who-should-not-be-named being hit by Jericho some years ago, I think at a Royal Rumble.

00.20am
Pretty stiff-looking match by these two, but a surprising ending as JBL goes over. The bad thing about that, of course, is that that means that the feud is not likely over. The only thing than my disappointment about that appear to be JBL’s expanding breasts. By Wrestlemania 25 in Houston he’ll be wrestling in a training bra.

00.22am
Guest Hostess Kim Kardashian, who apparently doesn’t realise that a microphone should be held to the mouth, is interrupted while giving the rundown to the MITB match by Kennedy, who gives her the hairdryer treatment. Short and sharp, he says he will win. MITB is next.

00.28am
The competitors emerge from a Piccadilly Circus-looking stage for Money in the Bank. Morrison, Carlito, Shelton first, they won’t win. Rest of order Punk, Kennedy, MVP, Jericho. I’m not going to update during this match, I’m giving it my full attention.

00.44am
Incredible.

Forget Mayweather. Forget the title. Forget even Flair.

The Money in the Bank Ladder match was absolutely fantastic. I really cannot go through all the spots as I’ll miss the rest of the show. No weak link in the match, false finishes galore, a run-in from Matt Hardy, and some of the most staggering spots I have ever seen.

And most of all, a win for CM Punk. I became a fan for 20 minutes and not a journalist. It was phenomenal. I am so happy to get my prediction of MVP wrong. I hope they do not waste Punk now. He needs a proper push. He doesn’t have to win the belt, but they need to push him like they did for Jeff Hardy.

It should also be noted that Morrison, Carlito and Benjamin, the three guys that were never really going to win, worked their tails off and would be hard done by if they didn’t get pushed a little in the near future.

A stunning match. Will be hard to top.


00.53am
The Hall of Fame inductees have been announced to the crowd, and whatever anyone says to you about Vince McMahon and WWE, I direct you to the huge pop for Mae Young, an octogenarian woman. Fantastic.

00.55am
Fun little backstage segment with Snoopy the Dogg, Santino, Festus and Mick Foley (err, Mizzle Fizzle, apparently) and blinged up Mr Socko.

However, they are eclipsed by the comic genius of William Regal, who while in the ring before the “Battle for Brand Supremacy” raises a nonchalant finger and kills me. I love Regal.

00.57am
Batista v Umaga now then, and it occurs to me that this match could well have been made bigger by a stipulation that the winner earned a chance to move a superstar across brands, either out of his or into his. Perhaps the reason they haven’t done that is that is proof that a draft is upcoming?

01.08am
Damn, got one right that I didn’t want to. I don’t see any point in putting Batista over Umaga. Umaga’s character is quite one dimensional, so every time he gets beat it hurts his character. Batista would have been hurt less by a loss, and if Umaga really is off to face Taker then why should we believe the Deadman would have any problem at all.

Match was ok for what it was. I did get distracted by the hot blonde in the front row a couple of times. The first few rows on the opposite side of the camera were pro-Umaga, and as the match wore on the crowd seemed to be behind the big Samoan.

Not a highlight, but then try following that MITB.

01.12am
Tale of the tape is shown for Mayweather v Show, demonstrating the difference in size. Show’s shoe size is 18EEEEEEEE apparently.

I don’t know if 18EEEEEEE is a legitimate size or whether the person typing was interrupted by a pig.

01.17am
The ECW match ends. No seriously, the intros took longer than the match. Kane sneaks up Chavo, one chokeslam later Kane is the champ. They really care about ECW don’t they? I can only think that Chavo is injured and they couldn’t work a full match with him. Sad for ECW though.

01.20am
It’s Flair v Michaels now. A big Flair video is airing to hype the Nature Boy. This might be history, folks.

01.23am
Flair cuts a promo with a cut out interviewer. Oh no, wait, it’s Mike Adamle. Who is a worse interviewer than Kim Kardashian.

Flair simply says that his game plan is to be beat the man. That’s a pretty poor reflection of Ric if it’s his last promo ever.

Nice touch that this match is being refereed by Charles Robinson, or L’il Naitch.

01.52am
“I’m sorry. Colourful” Strange words for Shawn Michaels to utter.

Of course not, he said “I love you” and then the crowd said much the same. Even yours truly was choked up, and while I hold Ric Flair in very high regard, it is not as high as many do.

It has been, of course, a storied career, and it ended after three superkicks in a very well-told an executed match.

It would not have rivalled Ric’s legendary battles with Ricky Steamboat, nor Michaels’s epic encounters with Kurt Angle, but it was a very good match, told a gripping story and finished with Ric Flair being counted out for 1-2-3.

The man himself should be – hopefully will be – proud that he did not let himself or WWE down in the match which ended his career.

It was put under threat early on when Michaels missed an Asai Moonsault (he hit the spot right, but the table didn’t quite break correctly) and looked legitimately hurt. He soldiered on, and even missed a moonsault to the outside form the top turnbuckle (I think he was supposed to hit that one).

The match was booked nicely, not overbooked, and Flair did the right thing afterwards. He thanked the crowd, and left slowly and with a lot if dignity.

I genuinely thought that Flair would win tonight, and several times throughout the match it looked like he might. I was buying false finishes and popping for kick outs all over the place. There have been five matches so far, and I’ve marked for two. The rest will be interesting.

Thank you Ric. I surely didn’t see the best of your career, but it was a pleasure to have seen you, and you ought to be very proud of the last of several thousand matches.

I don’t care what the adage says. Tonight, even in defeat, Ric Flair is still the man.


02.05am
Bunnymania is, apparently, running wild. Bit tasteless to run this divas Playboy contest straight after Ric’s emotional farewell, but never mind.

At least Santino is here. One last chance for the Rock.............?

02.14am
Beth and Melina get the win after a visual fall for Maria. Midway through the match the lights went out, which was no bad thing, as this was not exactly a classic. Typical fayre from a couple of talented girls against a couple not so blessed.

Santino blocked the Maria pin attempt and got laid out by Jerry Lawler and then Snoop Dogg, who hit a pretty nice clothesline.

02.19am
It’s the WWE title match next – Mayweather for main event? Surely not.

02.25am
It’s bell time for what I though would close the show. Perhaps this means Randy retaining? Perhaps Mayweather v Show is destined for a big surprise. Who knows? And why the hell did John Cena have our British national anthem before his entrance? Who knows? Who knows anything anymore? And who wants to? This is Mania, baby!

02.44am
Reasonable contest with a very surprising finish. I had no thought in my mind that Orton would take it, but he did. The finish was very good, revisiting the Orton ‘soccer kick’ to earn him the contest, but putting him over as a sneaky champion, but a clever one, while at the same time having Triple H look quite strong.

02.50am
It’s Mayweather v Show now, and that means Taker v Edge is last. Interestingly a promo for Backlash is shown, and basically contains Undertaker talking about a Backlash. He can’t get beat can he? Punk to run-in? I really don’t know anymore.

02.54am
Floyd Mayweather has no challengers in Liechtenstein. Thanks King.

03.08am
Well, Money talks, it seems.

Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather had his hand raised at the end of the match, but the losers really were Pay Per View wrestling (WRESTLING) fans who had this as the semi-main, and not the emotional send for Ric Flair or even a match for the most prestigious title in the company. Instead it was a very slow match which culminated in Floyd’s “handlers” getting involved, Mayweather himself weighing in with some chairshots, and finally a right hand with Brass Knuckles which missed by a country mile.

To be fair to Mayweather, he took a couple of bumps, including a sidewalk slam, which obviously looked after him on.

I don’t know if the $20m reported payoff for Mayweather . Frankly, I couldn’t care less.

For my money, he was not worth a cent. There was no big moment, no anxious finish, no shock value. Just poor action, and to be fair I don’t blame either wrestler........sorry, either competitor.

A great start to show is tailing off fast. Of 8 matches thus far (if you can call the ECW title bout a match) two have been outstanding, two ok and four have come up short.


03.20am
Michael Cole lists a load of people that Undertaker has beaten at Wrestlemania. Curiously enough, A-Train was not mentioned. Strange that.


03.56am
And we’re out. Wrestlemania is over for another year and I can’t help feel a bit underwhelmed.

To be fair, you are never going to have every match be a classic, and I’m probably judging a couple slightly harshly. However, to me the order of play was all wrong. The nature of the matches and the talent involved meant that you could have scheduled a slow burn. Instead, of the nine matches on the main PPV, 2 and 5 were the best. By quite a distance.

When you have the unmitigated spotfest of that quality, then hit everyone with one of the most emotional matches I have ever seen, you are setting your standards extremely high. I felt the show opened strongly having Money in the Bank up there, and peaked with Flair. I just couldn’t get excited about Taker’s title victory because I don’t buy into the streak and if you crave a big moment with Taker winning the title then just watch last year’s show.

Get the bunny shit, the Batista/Umaga match and the Belfast Brawl out of the way, then do MITB. Fill in with ECW then do Mayweather and Show. I don’t mind having Triple Threat three from the end, into Flair’s retirement and send off, then the only way to top that is to have a Title match.

To me that would have been the right arc for emotion. As it was, it didn’t work for me.

My like for Edge and lack of interest in Undertaker doesn’t help matters. This main event was of pretty good quality, although it had all the hallmarks of a Taker match which I don’t like. Edge tried to Tombstone Taker – it got reversed. He did the mounted 10 punch – he got dropped for the Last Ride. He stood over Taker and bragged – he got a choke for it.

It’s always the same. I’m even fed up of the plancha over the rope. Sure it’s impressive, but he does it EVERY time at Wrestlemania. It isn’t a shock anymore.

To be fair the finishing sequence was good and it was difficult to do a lot more with the match as a whole. I have to say there is nothing like Michael Cole to make you appreciate Jim Ross, and Coachman is nothing short of an embarrassment as a colour guy. Jesse Ventura, Bobby Heenan, Jerry Lawler, JBL, Paul Heyman. All miles better than this joker. I feel sorry for him because he can’t help being poor at it (I liked his ‘assistant’ heel character) but that has to change, and soon.

I’m going to go 7 out of 10 for the show as a whole, which is perhaps a bit generous. It is only that high because of the superb quality of MITB and Flair’s retirement.

I judge a great match by how much it makes me feels like a fan rather than the jaded cynic I become a lot of the time. I was that cynic for much of the show, but cheering like a 10-year-old for Punk winning and ooh-ing and aah-ing like the biggest mark for every heavy shot or near fall that HBK and Ric Flair produced.

Hopefully I will remember those matches fondly and the rest will fade. After all, Wrestlemania 18 was very poor but I will treasure the memory of watching Rock v Hogan forever.

I’m tired and confused right now, so maybe that is affecting my opinion, but I don’t think that was as good as either Pay Per View we have seen this year.

You may disagree - let me know.

1 comment:

Imran Laher said...

I agree with a fair bit you said Rob. That was highly enjoyable I thought….

Anyway, my review copy and pasted from a forum somewhere...

Finlay vs. JBL - Fun Stiff Stuff... Maybe could have been booked a little better though. Hornswaggle ended up looking like such a pussy, especially considering this time last year he had no fear and slapped Mr. Kennedy… Surely he should have got a few cheap digs in on JBL and contributed to a Finlay win? Anyway **1/2

MITB2 - Does a match have to be good only by comparison? This was great fun and inventive... especially some of the little stuff, like Morrison using a ladder to fly onto another ladder, or climbing another ladder that’s propped up-right... highly enjoyable ****

Umaga vs. Bats – OOH…OOH… UMAGA! The Umaga chants were awesome and should be a staple for all events as the man is in-fact a living legend. It made me rather happy to see a live audience appreciating just how brilliant the man is. However, the match wasn't great... but I never could see the two of them clicking well enough in a standard match for it to be so. For me, without added value, Batista only seems to work well when Taker’s standing opposite him. However… I bet these two could tear the house down in a last man standing match. **

The Snoop, Santino, Festus, Foley skit was hilarious.

Kane vs. Chavo - Does Vince hold brainstorm sessions every week to see how to shit on ECW even further? Still... in hindsight, probably the best possible booking so far!

Flar vs. HBK - Emotional stuff... and I don't even like Flair. The match was so-so, some rather ugly (though hardly his fault) botches from Michaels...and the semi-teasing of a Flair win was nicely done. However, the end was booked perfectly i thought. And I’m talking about everything down to the fricken camera angles. Close up of Flair almost crying saying "come on" (or whatever) close up of Michaels saying his thing, BANG! 1,2,3... Great moment, and a fine example of when WWE get everything right. ***1/2 (1/2 star for the emotion of course)

Women’s Stuff - Snoop is better on the mic then most of the roster. To be fair to the women involved, this match was far more watch-able then it had any right to be (I mean I actually watched it!)... though I’m not sure that's saying much? Anyway, *1/2

Triple Threat - Annoyingly, I was far more annoyed about the fact that WWE got the match order right a year too late... and that if this match had gone last, it would have made far more sense then HBK Cena last year.

Anyway, match was fun... very well paced and was always interesting. I cheered like a fan-boy when Orton won because I really didn't see it coming, and if he didn’t before, now Orton certainly looks like the best heel in the company that he is right now (taking nothing away from Edge mind). Good stuff from everyone involved ***1/2

Floyd vs. Big Show - This was FAR better and a whole lot more exciting then anything I could have expected. I was tense and interested throughout the whole thing, so I have to give WWE marks for that. Floyd took some nice safe bumps, and sold very well, but still came across as a very quick athletic man, with one hell of a punch... and Show still looks like a Monster. ***1/2

Edge vs. Taker - Takers entrance was brilliant. The match was good though i couldnt help but feel a little under whelmed... I mean it was such a for-gone conclusion... and I agree that a lot of it was very "Taker-style" ... with the Standing over taker shouting = get choked, punch taker on the top rope = Last ride, try tombstone taker = getting tombstoned yourself. It just made everything all the more predictable and ultimately less exciting. Still, Edge continually kicking out counter balanced that somewhat. ***

Overall... a rating of 8 probably doesn’t fit in with the stars I gave the match’s... but i think it does reflect just how much i enjoyed the whole spectacle. I REALLY enjoyed this PPV, despite the fact that everything was good to very good... but never exceptional. Whilst quality might have been down though, excitement was pretty much always at a high, due to the unpredictability of all the match’s apart from the eventual main event.

I know a lot of people are down on the outdoor setting… but I loved it. It just made the whole thing look and feel massive. Some of the pyro’s and entrances were awesome, and I know its extremely clichéd, but the whole 360degree spin around Wrestler X always looked extremely classy.

So yeah, 8 out of 10…even though the match quality probably evened out to a star or two below that.