If you've read here at all, you know I do not watch The Current Product. My reasoning for this is it's shit and everyone there can go to hell. It's an industry of guys who admired the work of Hulk Hogan and Lex Luger. Batista's favorite wrestler was The Warlord for God's sake. Ricky Morton once summed up how I feel about The Current Product, while Manny Fernandez sat there and chuckled with his big ol' beer gut.
But WrestleMania is WrestleMania. I've never seen 24, 25 or 26. That is a fact. I have seen the Michaels-Flair match from 24, and that's it. In some ways I get a bit sad every year when WrestleMania comes, and I'm sitting home on a Sunday night not watching the show, even though it's a click and 50 bucks out of my reach. I could do it. But I remind myself of all the crap I was sitting through five and six years ago, the last time I really watched WWE's TV shows, and the bad then outweighs the good for me, and it's gotten worse. I turned on SmackDown to kill time before Friday Night Fights last week and it was utterly unwatchable. They don't even have Jim Ross anymore.
But WrestleMania IS WRESTLEMANIA. So here we go. Let's try it. Let's do it. This is the show where everyone busts their ass. This is the show where the rules are dropped because it's fucking WrestleMania... or so I am still led to believe.
If they've ruined WrestleMania -- and this opening package isn't promising -- then I don't know, man. I just don't know. I watched Cop Out last night, though, so this is working with that in its favor.
Here We Go
Oh shit it's Michael Cole. "Entertainment's greatest live event," he says. Ugh. And here's Justin Roberts and not the Fink or even Lilian Garcia. Ugh. And K-Kwik is out first and goddamn it this is not going to be pleasant. Bout to move some thangs.
I've got the heebie jeebies just looking at those three puppets.
"Unified Tag Team Title"
R-Truth & John Morrison v. The Miz & Big Show (c)
The hosts are Cole, Lawler and Matt Striker. Cole makes one of those idiotic faces he makes. And then I find out The Miz is in this match with John Morrison and K-Kwik and this is going to suck. This is going to suck. This is going to suck! Morrison does unnecessary retarded twists on a legdrop. Then K-Kwik does unnecessary retarded twists on his stupid spinning kick. Big Show comes in and throws shit around. It's kind of stunning that they managed to devalue The Big Show enough that a guy as impressive physically as he is, in an age of PG ratings and kid-based programming is in the fucking opening tag team match of WrestleMania.
I don't know if there's any tag team I've ever hated more on first glance than R-Truth and John Morrison. Big Show punches Morrison in the head and the match is over. I'm all about a gigantic soupbone being a finisher but past that this sucked.
Ted DiBiase Jr. v. Cody Rhodes v. Randy Orton
Rhodes and DiBiase work together to start which I'm sure will fall apart eventually, but if I'm not supposed to be rooting for Randy Orton to RKO these two schlubs then I don't think they're doing this right. And I'm not trying to judge this based on that -- I don't know if I'm supposed to be rooting for Orton or not. And of course the other two have a disagreement. For a triple threat match this ain't bad so far. I have to admit, I like this young Ted DiBiase, especially when he flies over the top like a crazy person on a backdrop. Orton's babyface comeback is pretty good, too. This ain't so bad. Orton's double DDT, with legs dangling from the middle rope, is a bit much. But this is a business of excess. I don't think I much like this "viper" bit he does. He kicks Rhodes in the head which I guess is his big move of death but the camera completely misses the move, and then DiBiase takes the crappy diamond cutter and it's all over. Orton wins. That's useful. This was OK.
They do a Slim Jim bit where one of the broads turns into Mae Young and then Mean Gene in a dress and then Melina. What the fuck.
Who's this Asian lady ring announcer? Savannah?
Money in the Bank
Kofi Kingston v. MVP v. Evan Bourne v. Jack Swagger v. Shelton Benjamin v. Matt Hardy v. Dolph Ziggler v. Drew McIntyre v. Kane v. Christian
So Drew McIntyre is Intercontinental champion but he can't get a match to defend his belt at WrestleMania. What a useful title that must be. 10 guys is too many guys for this annual clusterfuck. Well this is terrible. Guy climbs, there's nobody in the ring. Guy comes in, pulls him off. His turn! Repeat. Almost every attempt at a big spot so far has gone somehow wrong. I admit it makes me warm and fuzzy that Matt Sydal is here because I used to watch him in crappy armories and gyms with IWA Mid-South and despite my intense dislike of WWE, I'm always happy for dudes who entertained me trying to kill themselves for Ian Rotten's shows getting the big bucks to do some approximation of what they love.
This just goes on and on. Guys take about one real big bump each, which is about all they should be expected to take, but it really feels like nothing more than an exhibition of spots, like some kind of weird how-to video. The finish takes forever when Jack Swagger has incredible trouble unhooking the thing, which wastes the little "oh no" reaction he gets when it's clear he's going to win, because then it becomes REALLY clear he's going to win.
Apparently every time you put Wendi Richter on a stage she goes GIRLS JUST WANNA HAVE FUN! ALRIGHT!
Triple H v. Sheamus
They say that no one has ever had a first year in the WWE like Sheamus. It's about exactly like Goldberg's first year from what I can tell. I have never seen a full Sheamus match in my life, but I'll say I did like the video package condensed version of this feud.
I think I kind of like Sheamus. I hate his hair because it's just fucking stupid looking, but that's a generational thing. I am, with regard to Sheamus' hair, an old man. And if you don't listen to Michael Cole the commentary here is actually pretty decent.
This Sheamus is alright by me. Throwback sort of power wrestler and HHH apparently is his buuuud so he's making him look really, really good, which HHH is plenty good enough to do still. The finishing pedigree here looks awful as he lets go about halfway through it and they float to the mat. This was fine. This was totally fine. I'd even say I kinda liked it. But I really hate babyface HHH tapping his chest at the fans and being all, "No, no, not me, it's about you guys, you guys are great, you guys are the best fans on earth, the WWE Universe, and I'm telling you, I love you guys, you're just the best, thank you SO MUCH for coming to see me, you make all the hard work and sacrifice worth it."
CM Punk v. Rey Misterio Jr.
So OK, again, I know nothing about this show or what was going on, but the little video package before this is what I want to see more of. Rey's daughter crying, Punk singing happy birthday to her. Punk's walk to the ring is a promo railing against hallucinogenics and booze. Goddamn it but I love bourbon, and I love CM Punk. I mean Punk has been doing this same bit in spurts for the better part of a decade now, but the fact that it works on every stage of every size probably means that this is something that actually gets under peoples skin. He's an incredible fuck. What a guy. There's a professional wrestler, by God. Why Rey has a giant piece of incredibly fake hair sticking out of the top of his head is -- oh, it's Avatar. Wow, fuck you. They try to convince me that Misterio is inspired and really into getting some revenge tonight but he's coming out "paying tribute" to AVATAR. Fuck fuck fuck fuck you.
This really might be good but that Avatar thing is really pissing me off and I can't take this seriously at all. This is pretty indy '05 which means it stands out from the rest of the matches at least. And it does appear that age, injuries and bulk have finally caught up with Rey. But Misterio wins anyway. I think this was pretty good but that motherfucker has AVATAR HAIR.
No Holds Barred
Bret Hart v. Vince McMahon
It's easy to say, "Yeah it was bound to happen," but I really never expected I'd see this. Not after the stroke and the fact that Vince is just older and older every year. And I do hope that this is the last time Vince plays fantasy and gets in there with one of his favorites. He's been in with Austin, Hogan and now Bret.
Vince brings out the Hart Family as his paid-off lumberjacks. Talk about fantasy land -- this is the kind of bullshit you think up for your fantasy booking. Oh and then Vince has all the unpopular, ugly and stupid Hart family members (and Diana who is still a bit of a looker)! And then Bruce is the referee! But the Harts are actually together and Vince is in for a world of hurt.
Vince goes to the floor and the family beats the crap out of him for a bit so that Bret doesn't have to do a whole lot. This is sad. This is like voyeur porn as the Hart family lives out their dreams and we watch. I'm waiting for one of them to shout, "THIS FAKE PUNCH IS FOR OWEN, YOU SON OF A BITCH BASTARD!"
I really can't continue trying to watch and talk about this. This really is just pathetic. Bret can't really do anything, the Harts are distracting and just weird, and the whole thing is absolutely nothing like what you might want to see from this. This is just absolutely awful. It's a 53 year old man against a 64 year old man and it's some kind of dead spectacle that just doesn't work on any level. It's old men playing out a revenge fantasy and doing it poorly at that. The Harts keep shouting "you should be ashamed of yourself!" and shit like that while this weak old man crawls around after he's been beaten by a collection of angry, dysfunctional people. It's played in a way that makes you feel bad for McMahon for God's sake. This senior citizen is beaten half to death with a chair, and even the commentators tell you it's uncomfortable and hard to watch. There's a tight close-up on Vince's beaten and battered face as all the Harts continue to bang on the ring apron while Bret slowly locks in the sharpshooter and thank God it's finally over. This was horrible. Completely horrible. There was nothing good about this. It took the wind out of the sails of this entire show.
World Heavyweight Championship
Chris Jericho (c) v. Edge
Jericho's greatest ability is going "ask him! ASK HIM!" I have never, ever liked Edge even for a minute and it's been a long time since I've enjoyed Jericho. The whole match is built around Edge's spear and then when Jericho sets up to use it himself, Lawler is stunned and Cole asks who would have expected THIS? I don't know, everyone who's ever seen WrestleMania? Are these shows pandering to first-time WrestleMania viewers who don't know the tradition of guys using each others big moves? This is WrestleMania Big Match-by-Numbers. I know the finish won't come until the big spot has been attempted and countered/reversed/missed about five times, so there's just no drama, and with the lack of something extreme like Edge really hard-selling reinjuring himself, I have no chance of buying into Jericho's false finishes either. Cole isn't fazed by any of this though -- he's full-on Vince'ing this shit, HE GOT IT 1 2 NO.
They're pulling it all out. Blatant flubbed warnings from the referee about cheating, ref bump, then the cheat, he got it 1 2 no. Jericho almost says "son of a bitch" but stops himself because kids have never heard such language, but then HOT DAMN Jericho hits the codebreaker for a second time and retains, so they at least go the other way and work all this into the deflating WrestleMania finish which they've been able to use more since they broke that wall down in 2000 and since they've expanded to having two main belts. And then after the match Edge gets his groove back and makes his stupid faces.
Michelle McCool, Layla, Maryse, Alicia Fox & Vickie Guerrero v. Eve Torres, Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Gail Kim & Beth Phoenix
Pass. I watched about two minutes and they kept calling Vickie Guerrero fat and I decided that was enough. So I fast-forwarded and they had Vickie do a "hog splash." Mostly they just made fun of Vickie Guerrero it appears but she won so it's a hoot!
Batista (c) v. John Cena
I think I like this angle because Batista is pissed off that John Cena is the name and face of the WWE. That pisses me off too. Oh for GOD'S SAKE, John Cena has Air Force dudes doing that gun-twirl routine (I don't know what it's called) before his entrance. Jack Nicholson played a better Marine in a better movie but he never pulled this shit. If John Cena weren't a wrestler he'd be the type of guy that always leaves wrestling message boards because everyone's too vulgar and mean-spirited, and he'd have one of those sparkly SUPPORT OUR TROOPS banners in his signature, and nobody would like him. He'd always be trying to find the good in everything. John Cena is a happy wanderer. He goes about life looking at the bright side and smiling. I say fuck that guy. I'm not a complete fuck. I'm respectful of my elders, am kind to dogs and children, and keep my boozing confined to adult parties or my lonesome. I hold open doors for strangers if they're within 30 feet of the door I just opened. I'm not out there giving the world what's for, but guys like John Cena work at Best Buy and have that eternal smile, and they want to talk to me about the things I'm carrying around. Fuck off, dude. I'm in here to pick up some random DVDs and crap I might need for my TV, and I don't want to have a fucking conversation with you. Go impress your superiors with enthusiasm on some housewife that might need your help. Me, I know what genres the movies I want are in, and I understand alphabetical order, and I know that if there's a big fucking sign that says COMPUTERS or the like, that's where the computer shit is. But John Cena wants me to have as great a day as he's having, because John Cena is always having a great day. Fuck John Cena.
It warms my heart that there's still a large portion of the audience that hates him and will cheer anyone against this asshole. Cena doing a flying fistdrop is apparently akin to the raising of the dead. They go through this incredibly ugly bit where Batista goes for a second Batista Bomb and Cena eventually reverses into the "attitude adjustment," which is about as convincing as that pedigree earlier with Batista floating to the mat.
The other thing that bothers me about John Cena is that when things get serious (serious business), he makes those dopey faces and is all, "I gotta think about this. Respect and honor. Gladiator warrior 300 spartans." Fuck I hate John Cena and he wins the match with some approximation of an STF. Some guy in a LeBron James "throwback" at ringside is, I believe, quite happy, and that's fitting. John Cena, like LeBron James, is (as Adrian Wojnaroski said) the vacuous star for our vacuous generation.
Career v. Streak
The Undertaker v. Shawn Michaels
So this is almost twice as long as everything else on the show. It's also about twice as good as anything else on the show. It's very much a bloodless throwback to the Attitude Era main events, a huge WrestleMania-style clash with both guys hitting everything they've got in their arsenal and then some. Michaels was a teardrop suplex away from the two of them busting out every big move they've ever used, but he made up for that with a moonsault from the top rope through the Spanish announce table, which is absolutely fucking incredible considering he's 44 years old.
For years and years I thought I didn't like Shawn Michaels, but eventually it became so clear how far above the grade he really was every moment of his career. At every stage, he was five steps ahead of what you should expect from someone. He was a terrific young hand, awesome as a rising star, tremendous when he went solo, great as a headlining attraction (if not in money, then in connecting with the fans and putting on a remarkable show every time out), and when he came back after four years off, he was immediately one of the very best guys on the WWF roster. And here he is at 44 years of age LEGITIMATELY putting on the greatest performance of WrestleMania XXVI. This isn't like when Flair was 112 and people would go, "He really brought it tonight!" but you know, Flair fucked up like four times in his big match and couldn't do what he used to do no matter how hard he tried. Unbelievably, at 44, Shawn Michaels does everything he ever did, and does it WELL. He wound up completely lapping his greatest rival (Bret Hart) and the race between who's greater between them wound up not even being close. Michaels blows Hart out of the water.
And that's not even giving credit to Undertaker, who's 45 and still brings it in the big matches. THIS is what WrestleMania is in my mind. These guys put on a fabulous match. I hope Shawn Michaels never wrestles again so that this was truly his last match. It was excellent. On a show where nobody else really stood out, these two middle-aged men who came up back when you could have your own personality and your own style showed everyone else how it's done. I hope K-Kwik and Cody Rhodes took notes, but they probably didn't. Bout to move some thangs.