baltimoresun.com

« Quick hits on WWE Hall of Fame show | Main | WWE video of Shawn Michaels' final walk backstage »

March 29, 2010

WrestleMania XXVI thoughts

“I’ve got an opportunity that most people don’t get — to go out with my head held high and be able to hear, ‘He didn’t stay around too long. His last ‘x’ amount of years were really special.’ ”

-- Shawn Michaels, talking about his match with The Undertaker at WrestleMania XXVI possibly being his last, in an interview with me on March 18

Shawn Michaels – the man known as “Mr. WrestleMania” – stole the show at WWE’s signature event for what is likely the final time. With Michaels’ loss to The Undertaker in the thrilling main event of WrestleMania XXVI Sunday night, the curtain appears to have fallen on “The Showstopper’s” brilliant 26-year career.

Yes, this is pro wrestling, where no one really retires even if they get a grand send-off (Ric Flair, Roddy Piper and Randy Savage all had their “retirement” matches at WrestleMania, only to return), but Michaels just may be the exception. One thing is for sure, if Michaels is indeed hanging up the tights for good, he can do so knowing that he still is as good as any performer in the business.

He and The Undertaker – who is a great performer in his own right and more than held up his end in the match – had the unenviable task Sunday night of trying to live up to their match at last year’s show, which is considered by many to be the greatest WrestleMania match of all time. I’m not sure that they topped it, but they may have equaled it.

Sunday’s match had an entirely different vibe from last year’s because of the Career vs. The Streak implications. This time, fans truly believed that Undertaker could lose. Either way, they were guaranteed to witness something historic, whether it was The Undertaker falling to 17-1 at WrestleMania or Michaels being forced to walk away from the business.

While Michaels-Undertaker II more than lived up to the hype, the match that was nearly 13-years in the making – Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon – did not. Hart finally got his revenge on McMahon for the “Montreal Screwjob,” but a grudge match that would at one time have been a huge deal went on sixth on the 10-match show and garnered just modest heat from the crowd. You have to wonder what was going through Hart’s mind Sunday night as he watched his longtime rival Michaels overshadow him once again.

Overall, WrestleMania XXVI – which had an announced attendance of 72,219 at University of Phoenix Stadium – was an entertaining show. Only one new champion was crowned, as John Cena defeated Batista to regain the WWE title. In the biggest surprise of the night, Jack Swagger won the Money in the Bank Ladder Match.

Here is a match-by-match look at the show:

The Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels (23:59): This was simply a great piece of storytelling by two of pro wrestling’s all-time greats. Michaels made it clear from the start that he was not intimidated by The Undertaker, as he no-sold Undertaker’s spooky entrance and then did the throat-slash gesture that The Undertaker is known for when they were face to face before the bell. The Undertaker sold an injury to his left knee early in the match after landing awkwardly on his Old School maneuver from the top rope. Michaels concentrated his attack on the knee throughout the match, making it appear that The Undertaker was ripe for defeat on this night. Near the 11-minute mark, Michaels attempted a moonsault onto the floor, but The Undertaker caught him and hit a Tombstone on the floor. Michaels later countered Hell’s Gate and turned it into a pin attempt. From there, Michaels and Undertaker took turns kicking out of each other’s finishers, keeping the fans on the edges of their seats. After the 17-minute mark, Undertaker went for The Last Ride onto the announce table, but Michaels got free and hit Sweet Chin Music, knocking Undertaker onto the table. Michaels followed up with a moonsault off the top rope onto Undertaker’s injured leg, as they both went crashing through the table. Back in the ring, Undertaker hit another Tombstone, but Michaels again kicked out.

Undertaker then stood over the fallen Michaels and was about to do the throat-slash gesture, but he stopped, looked down at Michaels in a rare display of compassion and said, “Stay down.” A weakened Michaels used The Undertaker’s body to try and steady himself, and then he did the throat-slash and slapped Undertaker hard across the face. A furious Undertaker scooped up Michaels and delivered a jumping Tombstone to finish Michaels and improve his WrestleMania record to 18-0. After the match, Undertaker helped Michaels to his feet and they shook hands and embraced. Undertaker left the ring and the crowd chanted “HBK” and “Thank you, Shawn.” A teary-eyed Michaels saluted the crowd. As he was walking to the back – presumably for the last time – Michaels said, “I’ll be driving my kids nuts in three weeks.” It’s just a real shame that Jim Ross wasn’t able to call this match. No disrespect to Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler and Matt Striker, but there is only one man who could have done this WrestleMania classic justice, and that’s J.R.

Bret Hart defeated Vince McMahon in a No Holds Barred Match (11:09): Before the match started, McMahon said that he had bought off Hart’s family – The Hart Dynasty and Hart’s brothers and sisters – and that they were going to be lumberjacks, with Bret’s brother Bruce Hart as the special referee. Bret was one step ahead of McMahon, however, as the Hart family double-crossed the WWE chairman and sided with Bret. There are two words that describe this match: too long. Hart and McMahon waited too long to have the match, and the match itself went on for too long. Given the age and physical limitations of the 52-year-old Hart and 64-year-old McMahon, I wasn’t expecting a whole lot, but this was worse than I thought it would be. There just wasn’t much to it. Hart beat on McMahon, then Hart’s family members got some shots in on McMahon (including THD, who apparently have no fear of being fired), and then Hart beat on McMahon some more. Hart teased putting McMahon in the Sharpshooter a couple times but then decided to inflict more punishment. At about the 10-minute mark, Jerry Lawler said, “This is hard to watch.” You said it, King. Mercifully, the match ended less than a minute later after McMahon tapped out in the Sharpshooter. One good thing about this match is that Tyson Kidd, David Hart Smith and Natalya may end up getting a push because of it. They all physically assaulted McMahon, so I’m assuming they are now babyfaces and that McMahon will be seeking retribution.

John Cena defeated WWE champion Batista to win the title (13:31): Other than the Undertaker-Michaels match, this one had the most crowd heat. Cena and Batista – two guys the Internet Wrestling Community loves to hate on – showed once again that they are far better workers than they’re given credit for, and they have good chemistry together in the ring. It was played up in commentary that Batista was going after Cena’s neck, which was injured the last time Cena wrestled Batista, at SummerSlam 2008. Batista hit a wicked DDT that appeared to legitimately jam Cena’s neck. Either Cena was truly hurting or he did one heck of a sell job. After both guys kicked out of each other’s finisher, Batista had Cena set up for another Batista Bomb when Cena rolled through and locked the STF on Batista, who struggled a bit before tapping out. After the match, Cena – with a big smile on his face – posed with some guys in the front row wearing anti-Cena T-shirts. That was funny. Cena, by the way, is now a nine-time world champion and is 6-1 at WrestleMania – including 5-1 in world title matches.

World heavyweight champion Chris Jericho defeated Edge (15:48): These two had a good back-and-forth match and I think the right guy won. I’m sure Edge will get the title soon enough, but Jericho truly is one of the best in the world at what he does and he deserves a victory of this magnitude. There was a nice spot at about the 12-minute mark when Edge went for a spear but Jericho caught him with The Codebreaker for a near fall. A short while later, Jericho nailed Edge with the title belt and made the cover for what felt like the finish, but Edge kicked out. When that happened, I thought for sure Jericho was going to lose, but he quickly hit another Codebreaker for the win. Edge got his heat back after the match by spearing Jericho off the announce table and through the barricade. Jericho took a nasty-looking bump on that one and was attended to by medics.

Rey Mysterio defeated CM Punk (6:30): This was a good match but it could have been a lot better if they had been given more time. The Triple H-Sheamus match was nearly twice as long as this one, which is unfortunate (but not surprising). Hopefully, Mysterio and Punk will get an opportunity to work a longer match on the next pay-per-view. Mysterio got the win – thus avoiding having to join Punk’s Straight Edge Society – after foiling the outside interference of Luke Gallows and Serena and then hitting the 619 and springboard splash.

Jack Swagger won the Money in the Bank ladder match over Shelton Benjamin, Evan Bourne, Christian, Matt Hardy, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Drew McIntyre, MVP and Dolph Ziggler (13:44): The MITB ladder match is always entertaining, although this wasn’t as spectacular as previous ones. There didn’t seem to be as many crazy spots this time. Benjamin, who frequently steals the show in these matches (but never wins), didn’t stand out. Bourne took the biggest bump when he was tossed off the ladder from high up by Hardy. Kingston had a unique spot in which he used two halves of a broken ladder as stilts. In the end, Christian and Swagger were battling on top of a ladder when Swagger slammed the briefcase into the face of Christian, who dropped to the mat. Time then stood still as Swagger repeatedly tried to unhook the briefcase. Thankfully, he finally got it. I think Swagger is an excellent choice to get a push, but I have a strange feeling that he is going to be the first MITB winner to cash in the contract and fail to win the title.

Triple H defeated Sheamus (12:09): Triple H scored a hard-fought victory, as Sheamus was made to look strong in defeat. After being weakened by a kick to the temple, Triple H took advantage of a slight hesitation on Sheamus’ part and suddenly hit the Pedigree for the victory.

Randy Orton defeated Ted DiBiase Jr. and Cody Rhodes in a triple threat match (9:01): This match went exactly as I thought it would. DiBiase and Rhodes worked together to dominate Orton early, but they couldn’t stay on the same page and it eventually became every man for himself. After punting Rhodes in the head, Orton hit the RKO on DiBiase and pinned him. It was a convincing win for Orton, who had the crowd behind him. It will be interesting to see where DiBiase and Rhodes go from here.

WWE unified tag team champions The Miz and The Big Show defeated John Morrison and R-Truth (3:24): These guys were given almost the exact amount of time the divas were given for their match. The finish came out of nowhere, as Big Show nailed Morrison with the knockout punch while Morrison was attempting a springboard. Losing clean in just a few minutes made Morrison and R-Truth look pretty weak. After all the great matches Morrison was having last summer, who could have envisioned this is what he’d end up doing at WrestleMania?

Alicia Fox, Vickie Guerrero, Layla, Maryse and Michelle McCool defeated Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Gail Kim, Beth Phoenix and Eve Torres (3:26): This was pretty much a cluster, as everyone was hitting their finishers (some sloppily) in rapid succession. Guerrero got the pin on Kelly Kelly after hitting the worst-looking frog splash of all time. Just wondering: Why did WWE play Eve’s entrance music for the babyfaces rather than James’ or Phoenix’s?

Posted by Kevin Eck at 6:25 AM | | Comments (86)
        

Comments

I thought HBk v Taker wasn't anywhere near as good as many were making it out to be. Im not talking in compaison to last year (which i also thought was a tad overrated) but this time i can safely say this was not match of the night. To my amazement it was Cena v Batista. Overall the ppv was lackluster in my opinion and the match that deserved to be atleast 15 mins was Rey/Punk. Now that could have been special. I enjoyed there 6 mins more than the 20+ min mainevent.

Yeah, the 52 year old stroke victim must have been devestated that the fit and healthy Micahels had a better match. We get who's side you're on, Kevin. But it's getting a bit old. Give it a rest

RESPONSE FROM KE: It's not about being on a side, it's just an observation. If you read Hart's book or listen to him on interviews, he has always seemed to be a bit insecure -- at least that's my impression -- when it comes to a competition with Michaels. and as far as Hart being 52 and a stroke victim, I don't want to sound insensitive, but oif he's going to get back in the ring, he is asking for his performance to be judged.

There were 2 things that happened at Wrestlemania XXVI that had me rolling on the floor laughing.
The first was Drew McIntyre hitting the top rope from the ladder "boys" first. (I am really glad that he didn't win he didn't deserve it)
The second was Vickie Guerrero's sloppy frog splash being called a hog splash. There is going to be trouble for the announcers from Vicki. Perhaps an opening for JR's return?

Thanks for the updates, Kev. I can watch WrestleMania only after 2 weeks in India. I would be prepared when i watch it. Going by what you have written, it does not seem to a Wrestlemania to remember except for UT-HBK match. Where are the current generation of ShowStoppers hiding ?

Sounds like a great show.Thank you Shawn for the great memories and your inspiration. All the best for the future. Kudos to the Undertaker for his part. Awesome review, Kevin. Keep up the stellar work!

Overall a decent event but not the best.

Very disappointed by the Bret Hart match. Really was painful watching that.

.. And Vickie Guerrero's frog splash really was the worst thing ever! LOLLLL.

I would give the event about 6 out of 10. and thats only for Michaels and UnderTaker match.

Watching Swagger trying to unhook the briefcase last night took me back to the night that Elizabeth tried to put handcuffs on the Hulkster..and couldn't snap them shut..

I have a feeling that Swagger will be the second guy to lose the MITB case..Mr Kennedy lost his to Edge a couple of years ago..

Did Kelly Kelly have a legit injury before the sloppy finish of the Diva's match? It looked like Mickie James was trying to make sure she was ok before she took the final bump..

Cena posing with the guys in the anti Cena T Shirts was one of the highlights of the night..have to give Cena credit for having a wicked sense of humor..

I think Undertaker/HBK was as good as it gets..just wonder if Cena gets the call for that match in Atlanta..who else is left on the roster for Undertaker to have a match with someone who might be able to beat him?

It was still pretty cool to see Vince get beat down like that, and the crowd did go pretty nuts for the Sharpshooter.
I thought Cena Batista was a great match and I usually hate them both.
Rey and Punk was very good, I think they both wanted to try and steal the show because they both have reasons to be cheesed off about the way they have been treated by WWE in the last year, and WWE second guessed them by only giving them a short match.
Also I think Takers leg was legitimately hurt.

After all is said and done, I think we had two more matches that we should have. Take those 6-7 minutes and give them to Punk and Mysterio.

First off Thank You HBK! These two represent the last of the Attitude era and they bring out the best in each other..Cena and Batista delivered in a big way, worked hard and earned their place on the card. Not really a Cena fan but thought it was cool that he posed with the fans wearing the Cena Sucks T-Shirts..I think there were way too many people in the MITB match. The cameramen were having problems capturing all the spots especially on the outside of the ring. Im fine with Swagger winning, but Christian deserves so much more..Lets pretend the Divas match never happened..Lets just all be happy that Bret didnt get hurt and hopefully this sets up The Hart Dynasty to do something meaningful. Also, give it up to Vince for taking all those chair shots! I think WWE dropped the ball on Punk vs Mysterio. Now what? If Punk had won and forced Rey to join, they could have Rey disappear off TV (apparently he's getting some knee work done anyway) then bring him back with his "transformation"..Sorry but Show-Miz is not Jeri-Show. I would have rather seen Miz put the U.S. Title on the line agianst anybody rather than watching a thrown together tag team match.

I do have to mention that Michael Cole is brutal..I didnt realize it as much as I did last night..He's fine to work Raw or the "other PPV's but bring JR back at least to do Wrestlemania. JR is one of the best ever at telling stories where you can almost hear Cole getting fed what to say. If you want to see how a Championship match should have a story told go back and watch Austin vs Rock from Wrestlemania in Houston.

I just felt sad watching Hart vs. McMahon. That would have been a great way to end Raw one night, but after Punk and misterio had the best match of the night so far, The AARP sucked the energy right out of the building.
I am so glad that Swagger won MITB, I hope he keeps the new, Kurt Angle-esqe, outfit. Even if he loses his shot, he's now a player with the big boys.
The title matches were both entertaining throughout and had great finishes.
I liked MITB more than you did. The "stilts" were innovative and the way swagger used the briefcase on christian was a surprise.
The main event was unforgettable and as you said it might not have surpassed, but it equaled last year. It certainly seemed like they worked at a quicker pace. The only sad thing was as Shawn made that walk up the ramp, I know he was being genuine , but after the Flair sendoff, i don't think I'll ever believe a wrestler is finished until he dies. (Of course Shawn shouldn't have multiple ex-wives to have to pay either.)

I think this was a down year for 'Mania. HBK-'Taker was good, of course, but I don't agree that it was even close to last year's match. There was that brilliant moment at the end where 'Taker sort of broke character until HBK stood up and slapped him, and some incredible high spots (HBK is crazy to still be doing that stuff, well, not anymore, I guess), but the false finishes lost some effect after last year and having so many here. Basically the whole second half was all finishers, which was cool but until that one moment I didn't buy any of them actually being the finish.

The two title matches were good. I'm a bit of a Cena hater but he and Batista were great in that match. I too got a laugh out of his celebration. Edge and Jericho are personal favorites, Jericho especially, so I really enjoyed their match. Everything else wasn't regular PPV quality, let alone 'Mania quality. Bret-Vince was especially disappointing. Neither of the two Hart family swerves within the span of a minute got any reaction because it wasn't built up at all. I'm pretty sure most of the audience didn't know anybody except THD.

Maybe if they cut back on the overdone video packages between every single match, they could have given some the guys like Punk and Rey the time they deserved to put on the show they are capable of.

Question for Kev: Seeing how this was your first time watching on TV in a few years, how did you feel about the commentary? I felt that not having JR made it feel a little less special. During the Edge-Jericho match, for example, Cole harped about Edge's injury so much that he blabbed right through a big spot.

RESPONSE FROM KE: I agree about the commentary. Like I said, no disrespect to the announcers, because doing commentary is hard (especially with Vince screaming in your headset), but I really missed J.R.

"After the match, Cena – with a big smile on his face – posed with some guys in the front row wearing anti-Cena T-shirts"

That guy has been at Wrestlemania in the front row for about 5 years now...Cena did the same thing after winning the title at WM25

While I liked this Wrestlemania better than last year's, I do have to say I have never seen as many botches in one pay-per-view as I did last night. I think there was at least one in every match. And it wasn't just the wrestlers. The production team kept messing up, too. For example, the camera crew almost completely missed Orton's punt to Rhodes' head. Somebody in the back was not doing their job well. Overall, it was a good show.

WM26 was actually a pretty awful show. The Taker/Michaels match was the shows saving grace, despite not matching the heat from last year.

For the most part, the card was pretty boring. The HHH vs. Sheamus match was a waste of time and had no backstory. The DIVAS match was mindless filler. The tag title match was pretty lame as well. I mean, what is up with this SHOMIZ angle?

Of course fans were probably excited to see Bret Hart battle Vince McMahon in a grudge match. Too bad Bret cannnot wrestle anymore and so this match was AWFUL.

I could go on, but I think everyone probably gets the point. The WWE needs to really work on building new stars and creating great feuds. Randy Orton should be headlining Wrestlemania, as he is their best talent.

For the future, I really think Rhodes, DiBiase and Orton should be WWE's main focus and not Sheamus.

Great recap of one of the better Wrestlemanias in a while. This year definitely topped last year's over-hyped "25th Annviersary".

I disagree about Edge regaining heat by spearing Jericho through the barricade. I think Edge will stay face for a while, and that the feud with Jericho is not over. Edge was taking revenge on Jericho's attempt to reinjure the torn achilles.

Keep up the good work Kevin. It's nice to read pro wrestling articles from a legitimate journalist.

I was on pins and needles for every Michaels/Undertaker near-fall. Incredible match.

HBK-Taker 2 was perfect. I agree that they put on a superior physical display last year, but the story of this match was outstanding. Coming from the man who won't attend the HOF ceremony each year for fear of breaking character, Taker's treatment of Michaels both during the closing sequence of the match and then after was unbelieveable to watch. I don't think there's another man in the history of the industry Taker would have honored in such a way other than Michaels. Amazing stuff.

I don't think there is a better WM moment than the final scenes of this Wrestlemania with the crowd giving HBK a standing ovation all the way to the back. It's hard to find classy moments in wrestling, but that was one. Kudos to both guys for delivering another great match. Part of me hopes that HBK never returns to the ring, so he can say he went out on top.

"You have to wonder what was going through Hart’s mind Sunday night as he watched his longtime rival Michaels overshadow him once again." - I'm hoping his thoughts were something to the effect of "Given the fact that I had a stroke and multiple concussions, I'm happy to have had one more wrestlemania match." Are you serious when you are making these comments?

congratulations! to John Cena. And once more I said to Shawn Micheals 'You are a Man'... What an interesting wrestlemania moments.

Line of the night: HOG SPLASH.

I think it was the King that called Vickie's move a "bullfrog" splash? It was God Awfull. I thought I heard the Undertaker call Shawn an SOB after their match? Guess it was in a good way? Why weren't all of the Ref's wearing Latex Medical gloves?

There are always highs and lows on any PPV but the WWE always seems to deliver on "historic" matches, matches that capture that spirit of "build-up and redemption" where a feud or storyline peaks. Granted, this was the WWE's showcase PPV, but compare this to the antics of TNA: Desmond Wolfe and Ric Flair stumbling into a hole in the middle of a wrestling ring, a hole created thanks to the power of the Hulk's ring on Abyss's finger.

Hats off to the HBK.

I thought this was an OK show. HHH and Sheamus was better than I thought it would be, but I wouls rather have seen Punk and Mysterio given the longer match.

I had the same thoughts about JR calling the Michaels/Undertaker match. I was even holding out a little hope when he was on camera at the Hall of Fame show.

I was very surprised, but pleasantly, that Swagger won MITB. It's a shame that this match was nowhere near as good as previous years.

Hart and McMahon was just too long for how one sided it was. When the Hart family came out, I assumed they would turn on Vince, but I thought it would be during the match after he beat down The Hitman for a while.

How ridiculous was it to have fireworks on the top o a domed stadium? Especially with how many of them went off in sunlight?

Did you notice how much closer the announce tables were to the ring for Michaels moonsault? It looked like they were two feet closer than earlier in the show.

Wow, it was incredible. Your interview with Shawn was great and truly, he delivered almost the best best match of his career. He stole the show, stopped the show but still couldn't stop the streak. He should have a great farewell on RAW but it has not beeen announced. The WWE will boycott the greatest performer if he skip the farewell as it hasn't been announced yet on WWE. HBK remains!!!

I'm sorry Kev, but Michaels/Taker II did not live up to the hype, and from what I've read so far most people agree. It was probably the best match on the card, but it wasn't as good as the first one. First off, I did not believe that Taker could lose. It was pretty clear from the interview you had with him that he was ready to hang it up. And the ending, which was a repeat of the Flair/Michaels match at WresteMania 24, made it obvious that Taker was going to win. Also, their were several blotched key spots that brought down the quality. Taker didn't catch Michaels on his moonsault out to the floor when tombstoned him, and Michaels clearly missed the moonsault onto the Taker on the table. He was fortunate that him landing on Taker's legs happened to fit in with the angle of Taker's injured knee, but it was not intentional.

So do you think tonight will be Shawn's retirement speech?

Thanks for the recap Kevin. I purchase 1 PPV per year and it is always Wrestlemania for me. For the past 20+ years I have bought the PPV for one reason....Shawn Michaels. I have followed his career since the beginning during his AWA days and then his Rocker days in the WWE. I was always more of a Janetty fan, but when Shawn superkicked him through the barbershop window, I think I changed sides. He immediately became my "favorite" wrestler and I have followed this man through every battle, injury, highlight, etc. The man wasn't the biggest guy out there, but he outshadowed every wrestler he ever stepped into the ring with. His gimmick never got old. He played a perfect A+ face and a perfect A+ heel whenever he wanted to. Some of his best work was the original DX days when he was so cocky and arrogant...how could you not love this guy playing strip poker in the ring with the headbangers smoking a cigar and drinking and getting down to his boxer shorts or coming down to the ring from the ceiling dressed like the undertaker only to be HBK as he torched the UT's clothes in a grill and roasted hot dogs on them. I honestly thought he was done in 1998, and I got so excited everytime I saw him come out on a Raw episode as a special host, or ref or something. When he came back in 2002, I could never have been happier. I bought the SS paperview against Triple H and I said, wow, that man still has it and is back! He never needed the title to make him the best. He doesn't have the meaningless title reigns that have become so cheap lately anyway. Cena, who isn't half the wrestler that Shawn is, outnumbers his title reigns by many. Some say there are better wrestlers. Yeah, Brett, Benoit, Angle, etc were all great "wrestling technicians". Yeah, The Rock, Stone Cold, Hogan were all great "characters and promo cutters". But, who was the greatest at both as well as telling the story.....HBK. He is a true legend that I have had the pleasure to watch all these years. It saddens me to know that future generations of wrestling fans will never get a chance to see greatness like this man in the ring. We will always have the videos, dvd's, and memories. There was a man who lived by the motto, "the Best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be". As this man was present last night at the same event, I think he as well as the world should realize that tile belongs to the Showstopper, the Main Event, the Icon....Shawn Michaels.

Was very impressed w/ Wrestlemania. A few comments though:

-Did you notice that Jericho didn't even get to the ring when Edge's music started? Jericho was barely getting to the steps and all of a sudden Edges music comes on, and I'm like "Oh, they must be running short on time, so they're cutting down on the entrances to give the match's more time." Then bam, Edge does his pose, gets all the way to the ring, and then they lower the circular screen down and let Edge pose on the ring corners. I understand the need to let the face get some posing time, but Jericho kinda got snubbed. At that point I would have really been pi----- if Jericho lost the belt, but he didn't so I guess it's not such a big deal.

-Cena wins again. Terrible. So sick of seeing the belt change hands repeatedly. Sheamus gets a longer reign (and a few actual title defenses) than Batista who has become one of the best in the business....give me a break. Cena doesn't need the title, and Batista for the first time I think, really deserved to have it. The wrong man won.

-What was up with the Air Force guys doing the "gun dance" or whatever the hell it's called before Cena came out? I've got news for you Cena...You. Are. Not. A. Marine. Stop doing the salute, and stop have honor guards do your entrances. This is honestly why everyone hates Cena, he is a good worker, and you can't deny his passion, but he's such a goody goody which is frankly boring. Name a single other face that's completely over that has NO heel characteristics AT ALL. Not a one, and that's what makes them compelling characters. This is the same reason I never found Superman interesting (and let's face it, Cena is the supes of the WWE) if he is infallible then really, why be invested?

-Bret/Vince was pretty terrible, but major props to VKM. The guy is a hoss. He took one of the worst beatings I've seen in a while, and absolutely didn't have to. Goes to show what the man is willing to do for his company.

-Triple H no-selling the boot was typical and infuriating. Not that I care about Sheamus, or want him elevated any more than he is, but it was just so expected it's not even funny. He takes two of Sheamus' boots in fairly quick succession, and then as Sheamus is pulling him up all of a sudden he was "playing possum?!" Give me a break. It was a no-sell, and while we all thought trips was finally learning to put over the younger guys, this is proof positive it's the same ole' Triple H, who won't even put over his workout buddy, and friend. He'll whisper in people's ears and get him over on Orton, and Cena, and even get him the WWE title, but there's no way in hell TRIPLE FREAKIN' H is laying down for anybody...

-Michaels/Taker was amazing. Would've expected the crowd (who seemed fairly dead all night for a WM crowd) would've given Michaels a better send-off, it seemed like only half were cheering and the rest were packing their things and getting ready to leave...

Honestly, I've got plenty more to say, but I this has already gone way longer than I intended it to, so I'll leave it to the rest of the IWC to compain about Christian not winning MitB, and Punk losing to Mysterio. Great work on the blog Kevin, keep it up!

Better booking this year than last year. BTW, Wrestlemania XXVI should actually be the "25th Anniversary" of Wrestlemania since it all began in 1985.

Overall, I thought it was a good show. I'd give it 7 out of 10. I would have given it an 8 or 9 if the opening tag match and Punk vs. Mysterio were given an extra 10 minutes or so and if the Bret-Vince match delivered more.

Shawn Michaels vs. The Undertaker was, in my opinion, worth the price of the PPV itself. It was simply amazing and these two are going to go down in wrestling history as two of the best ever. Watching Shawn walk up the ramp, thinking about all the great memories and matches he has had over the years (decades?), makes me believe he is the best overall wrestler I will ever see.

I thought Cena and Batista had a great match, particularly the exhilarating last half. I was not completely convinced that they could pull it off, but they did and it should shut the "You Can't Wrestle" haters up regarding Cena (and I also loved him posing with the haters after the match). Edge/Jericho was very good as well, and I loved that spear spot at the end. Well worked match by both guys and I was happy to see Jericho get the win and hold on to his overdue title belt, although Edge did get his payback at the end.

I agree with the Hart/Vince criticism - Hart got his revenge but it was incredibly slow, boring, and too long because the outcome was never in question. It really could have used some run-ins to help Vince out, maybe Vladimir Kozlov and Regal or something. It probably looked better on paper to the bookers. But make no mistake, it was a nice moment to see the Sharpshooter slapped on Vince.

I also expected more from Punk/Mysterio, although it was very good while it lasted - same thing about the tag opener. 10 matches, plus all the WM hoopla and the video package previewing matches were just too much and 8 matches should be the standard. Divas match was painful and should have not happened. Vickie was embarrassingly bad. MITB was OK this year, middle of the pack as we've seen better. Loved the stilt spot by Kofi! Swagger winning was a breath of fresh air. I could see him challenging Cena at some point and losing, setting up an extended feud between them.

Sheamus/HHH was a great midcard match that went exactly as it should (Sheamus looks strong, Trips wins). I really enjoyed the Legacy match as well and thought the ending was nicely executed to perfection - curious to see where Orton goes from here.

I almost forgot shelton was even in the $ in the bank until you mentioned it. I thought it was kind of funny to see David Hart Smith at ringside with his mother Diana. She seems to have aged well actually.

I think it was a pretty good analysis of this year's wrestlemania but I found one of the line in this blog to be pretty useless.

"You have to wonder what was going through Hart’s mind Sunday night as he watched his longtime rival Michaels overshadow him once again."


.

The first time I've watched in almost 2 years and I wasn't really overly impressed with anything other than the UT/HBK match. But even that was predictable ending.

The Hart/McMahon match was just terrible and the family 'double cross' was really lame, they could have at least left their loyalty up in the air until the end of the match.

The MIB match was decent but Why were there so many people in it? It was ridiculous. I wasn't familiar with many of the competitors but it seemed to me the Evan Bourne guy and McIntrye were getting the most crowd reaction. watching the Kurt Angle wannabe struggle to get the suitcase loose at the end was painful.

When it comes to Wrestlemania I expect, debuts, guys to return from injury or somebody to turn Heel or face. This show had none of that & the crowd seemed to be asleep for the first half of the event. And finally, Cena continues to suck and be the primary reason I don't watch anymore.

This was the first Wrestlemania I've watched for a while and wow...was it average! Undertaker / Michaels aside (which was very special) there weren't any real stand-out moments. The crowd were dead for the majority of the show and JR was missed incredibly!
The Hart / McMahon match was just painful - the 'screwjob' angle looked more awkward than anything else and I found it particularly strange that, after criticising TNA for its use of blood, etc, that Vince thought it was ok for him to take about 20 or so chair shots in a row! King got it right in his summary.
I was suprised Jericho and Swagger won, but disappointed that the Tag Match was not only first on but that it ended so quickly. The 'knockout punch' is a horrible move that makes the receiver incredibly weak and vulnerable!
As a final point, I can't see where the Undertaker goes from here - yes, Michaels' career is 'over', but surely Undertaker's has hit its peak too - how can he top what he's achieved with Michaels! It also reveals that Undertaker really will never lose at Wrestlemania!

Furthermore, this picture should answer your petty question. http://www.wwe.com/content/media/touts/feature/29062/13956602

RESPONSE FROM KE: I never said that I thought Hart would outwardly say anything negative or not treat Michaels with respect. I merely raised the question of what he thought about the ultimate grudge match 13 years in the making being regarded as an afterthought due to the incredible Michaels-taker match. Pretty fair question.

It was truly an enjoyable card. And you are right, Cena and Batista are better workers than they get credit for. Besides Taker/HBK, that match kept me on the edge of my seat. I loved the finishing sequence, where Batista looked to Batista Bomb Cena one more time only for Cena to counter into a sunset flip and then into an STF. I also thought it was funny when Cena posed next to those folks wearing “We Hate Cena” t-shirts. A lot of people would like to see a heel Cena, but I don’t think it will happen in the near future. There have been characters who have either been cheered or booed, but there has never been one who has divided fan opinion quite like John Cena. There are those who were glad to see Cena win the gold and become a 9-time champ, while there are those who claim that it is a conspiracy that Cena was successful at WM.

Since he’s 6-1 at WrestleMania and every match that he has ever had was for a specific championship, how about a date with the Deadman next year ?

WM26 was so-so at best in my opinion. HBK/Undertaker exceeded expectations and MITB was entertaining as usual, but Jack Swagger?? Who did Kofi Kingston pi-- off to get pushed down so far, so fast??

Kev, I did not see it but from I just read, I did not miss much. Do you the price was worth it? I am guessing no one was busted open. If that is the case, then it was not. In my humble opinion PPV's should have things you don't see on the regular shows. Some things over the top that makes you feel like it was worth your time and money. Especially these days. WOOOOOO

Was it me or did the crowd in Phoenix seem absolutely dead? I thought Edge/Jericho was a really good match, but you wouldn't know from utter silence in the stadium.

RESPONSE FROM KE: I agree that the crowd wasn't loud.

I watched the PPV last night. I agree that the Punk/Mysterio match should have been longer. I have to admit though that I did enjoy the Hart/McMahon match. I didn't expect much and what took place was kind of enjoyable. Now having everyone at ringside was a stretch but it was fitting in a way. And the beatdown with the chair was kind of cool. Look...it's just like watching Flair and Hogan with all their artificial joints wrestling. The MITB had too many people in it but some of the spots were exciting. I also enjoyed Vickie's eddie dance at the end of her match.

All good things have to come to an end, but when Wrestlemania 26 was over I couldnt help but have a sad, empty feeling deep inside. A feeling of loss to a certain extent. I grew up watching HBK and have always come to look forward to his work, whether it be on a regular Monday night or on the grandest stage of them all once a year - I knew that Shawn Michaels made special things happen. And he is special - he has the uncanny combination of guts, charisma and athletic talent that will make him go down as the best performer of all time. The memories are there... there are a lot of them and they are great. He will be missed. I cant wait to see how the WWE sends him off on RAW tonight.

Also, in case anybody wants to check it out there's a cool clip of HBK getting to the backstage area, right after the 'Taker match, being greeted with a standing ovation. In it he's met by his family and then none other than Bret Hart. Classy.

HBK-Taker was the best matches I've seen in a while. It definitely atleast equalled last year's match, if not better.
The moment could easily have been more emotional had Jim Ross been there to call it, but nonetheless what a great last match for Shawn Michaels.
The rest of 'Mania wasn't all that to be honest, I thought the MITB Ladder match could have had more "crashes and burns" and the Bret-Vince match was one of the worst matches I've ever seen. I felt sorry for Vince during his 'punishment'. Vince is capable of a good match I believe still, but Bret wasn't up to it (understandable due to his stroke).

I don't understand how anybody can be impressed with the UT/HBK match. To me, it was like watching a rerun of a weekly tv show. The entire card was underwhelming. The VKM/Hitman match was terrible; the MITB match was the worst one ever and Swagger, who I personally can't stand, will never be championship material; the HHH/Sheamus match went too long and the my two biggest issues are, first, I can't stand looking at Vicki Guerrara and now she's a diva? and, two, I must mute the sound every time the Raw ring announcer opens his mouth. In case I haven't made my point, I believe I wasted $60 last night.

Overall, I think this was one of the better Wrestlemanias in the last few years, maybe since XX.

ShawnTaker II didn't quite top last year's magnum opus, but it did tell a better story. I'm also glad that this went on last. I don't think we're gonna see Shawn back for quite a while.

Cena and Batista had a better match than either man had any right of having.

I'm happy that Jericho walked out still world heavyweight champion. The WWE has a bad habit of using him as a transitional champion and has long suffered because of it. The spot after the match with the spear on the announce tables looked vicious.

Orton winning was the right call. It solidified his face turn and he was massively over with the crowd. I don't think it's time yet to separate Dibiase and Rhodes, who I still think of as the best tag team in the company.

Bret and Vince's match went exactly how I expected it: Vince getting beat down and then tapping out to the sharpshooter. All of those chairshots were excessive though.

Triple H and Sheamus was actually a good match, I must admit. It succeeded in making Sheamus look good, though I still don't know why Triple H had to win. He gains nothing from this victory.

I'm glad that Swagger won Money In The Bank. The match itself was a dud. That spot where Kofi used the two ladder pieces as stilts was retarded, especially since there was an intact ladder leaning on the ropes outside of the ring. I hope this leads to a face turn for Swagger, since I don't think his persona its fitting for a heel.

CM Punk and Rey deserved much more time. If they had been given 15 minutes instead of 5, they could had stolen the show right from under Shawn and Taker.

Divas match... who cares. They only put this between the two world title matches so they people could go to the bathroom.

Tag title match should had gone on longer. All 4 men deserve better than a 3 minute curtain jerker.

All in all, I thought this was a pretty good show, and most of the match outcomes made sense.

I'm really glad that the tag team title match wasn't relegated from the main show to the pre-show, but it might as well have been given how short it was. It was the right call to have The Miz and Big Show retain, but I just wish R-Truth and Morrison were given more time to perform on the biggest stage of the year. Hardly a WrestleMania moment to be seen in this one.

The triple threat match was really entertaining and I'm pleased Orton won. I still think Rhodes and DiBiase looked strong during this one, and it just shows that Orton is willing to make the younger guys look good, even if he goes on to win the match.

I really didn't enjoy the MITB Ladder Match as much as I have in previous years, but I still think this one was decent. There weren't nearly enough crazy high-spots in it to make it any good. I thought for sure that Bourne and Benjamin would do something life threatening, so I was disappointed about that. It was a nice surprise to see Swagger get the win, even though it took him long enough to actually remove the briefcase from the hook. Hopefully his push will be a good one.

There's not much I can say about the Triple H/Sheamus match, other than it was the worst on the show (apart from the Divas one), shouldn't have gone longer than Punk/Mysterio, and it was just boring to see Hunter get the win, like I knew he would.

If the Punk/Mysterio match was given more time, it would have definitely been a great encounter, but I still think it was one of the best on the show. Some great back and forth action between the two made it such an entertaining affair. Hopefully their program will carry on until Extreme Rules.

I was really pleased that Jericho beat Edge to retain the World Title. This was absolutely the right call, and I didn't even see it coming. I thought for sure that Edge would win, as WWE tends to go for the typical babyface title victories at WM. The bump that Jericho took at the end onto the guard rail after the spear from Edge looked pretty nasty.

I didn't think it would be, but I thought Cena/Batista was one of the best matches of the night. These two definitely work well together. I could tell that Cena was going to win, so no surprise there, but an entertaining match nonetheless.

All I kept thinking throughout the Hart/McMahon match was, "This is weird". It did go on for too long, and the crowd were losing interest as Bret kept teasing for the Sharpshooter. Having the rest of the Hart family out there added to the strangeness of the whole thing. Before the show started, I would never have guessed that the Hart Dynasty would be involved in such a high profile angle on the biggest show of the year. I was so pleased that this was the case.

I'm guessing that the Diva tag team match will be featured in a future Botchamania.

And finally, the match that stole the show. I don't think it was as good as last year's, but Undertaker and Michaels were still able to put on a heck of a show. I can't even remember the last time a WrestleMania was headlined by a match without a World title on the line. But there was probably more on the line in this one. I'm guessing that Shawn will most likely be back sooner rather the later; maybe not to wrestle, but no doubt in some capacity. If it was his last time in the ring as a competitor, it was certainly an emotional send off and a truly brilliant way to end a pretty good show.

Kev/all,

Check out the video of HBK walking through the backstage area after his match yesterday and being greeted by various notables on wwe.com.

There was actually way more heat for the Triple Threat than I was ever expecting. That match and Batista-Cena were far better than I ever expected them to be.

Edge and Jericho were really good too.

It was nice knowing you Sheamus.

Shawn and The Undertaker aren't human. I don't know if it was better, but the match felt bigger than last year because of the stipulations. I actually thought there was a small chance Shawn might win, unlike every other year where Taker winning is a mere formality. The Moonsault onto the Announcer's table floored me.

Swagger winning was a nice surprise, I guess. I was happy as long as it wasn't Matt Hardy or McIntyre.

I was disappointed by Bret-Vince also. I think maybe we were all expecting a little too much, instead of realizing the match was between a 52 year old man coming off a stroke and severe concussion and knee problems and a 64 year old who was never all that good in the ring anyway. Bret and Vince did the best they could, but the match was just planned out horribly.

The Hart Attack Vince took from the Hart Dynasty was brutal.

well,anotherone come and gone,great entertainment and cena's got his title back,and shawn oh well he was going to retire again anyway,vince got screwed,and everythings ok in wwe land,stay tuned for further matches and more mayhem,gee it's good to be in a fantasy world with the money they are all bringing home.n

I'm not afraid to say that Michaels wasn't the only one teary eyed while he was saluting the crowd. Thank you Shawn Michaels for letting us go on this ride with you for the past 26 years.

BEST EVER!! PERIOD!

And congrats to Swagger on the MITB victory, I was secretly hoping that his music would start playing shortly after Cena beat Batista...

I watched Wrestlemania last night. It was the first wrestling PPV I’ve bought since last Wrestlemania. My general declining interest in the WWE has been due to a lack of compelling angles, a severe reduction in in-ring physicality, a seemingly complete abandonment of originality in developing new characters, and an overuse of attempting to brand everything, like the “WWE Universe.” It’s OK; I can live with WWE passing me by, as I’ve saved a lot of money not watching them water down their product to the point of being unbearable tame. (And TNA isn’t any better.)

That said, I thought last night’s show was decent. I think a 3 out of 5 is an fair and accurate assessment of the show.

My thoughts:

- Whoever sang “America the Beautiful” was God-awful.

- If Matt Stryker’s goal was to be as cookie-cutter and uninspired as possible, he achieved his goal remarkably. I thought he really dragged the show down with his announcing, as he seemed trying too hard to be feigning excitement, and did a terrible job with his foreshadowing. Example: When the ladder was separated into two halves in MITB, and Kofi grabs the two pieces, Stryker said something like “ He can’t do anything with that, unless he surprises us with his athleticism!” Stryker just completely sucked the life out of the show. Just an all around abysmal performance. He made Michael Cole sound like JR in his prime by comparison.

- The MITB match was weak in comparison to past years, with virtually no big spots. And of course, the guys that deserved to win didn’t, like Shelton or Evan Bourne, and instead the push goes to Jack Ssthwagger. Sufferin’- succotash!

- It was nice to see some closure in the Bret Hart - Vince saga. The match may have dragged a bit, but was reasonably well-worked, considering the age of the two prime participants.

- The ‘Taker - Michaels Main event was solid, and easily the best match on the show. It kind of sucks to see Michaels (presumably) retire, but it all has to end eventually. I think that Undertaker going 18 - 0 will cement his legacy as arguably the greatest wrestling character of all time, and I almost wish that he would retire after that match as well, because I don’t want to see him “stay around too long” either.

- All of the other matches were fairly tame, and largely forgettable. I kind of expected more physicality and exciting spots, but they were largely missing. I swear there were more exciting matches on Sunday Night Heat during the prime of the wrestling wars, and I expected more out of what is supposed to be the penultimate wrestling event of the year.

kev,

Been a long time HBK fan, and really he is the only reason why I turn in week after week for raw. So do you really think this is it for him? I would hate too not have him on tv. Do you think there is any chance he will return to action in the future?

That tombstone taker hit was truly unreal!! The most devastating finisher I've seen!! He f****** leaped!! The ending was perfect though and felt like something out of a movie with the hero falling after an amazing battle..Brilliant!

I agree with you on swagger, Kev. However if he doesn't win the championship with the briefcase, he'll ultimately win it eventually. The wwe wouldn't be that stupid to waste mitb just to prove a point that not everyone wins... I see a push in Swagger's career whatever the outcome

(Btw who elses heart was in their throat when Mcintyre was climbing the ladder?)

Taker goes 19-0 next year, then HHH ends the streak at WM 28 stopping a 20-0 run.

Its good to be the king.

So Eck, If HBK comes back again at some point, will you offer any criticism of that decision? I'm not trying to be cute with a "HBK-Mark" joke, I'm legitimately interested in whether or not you'd apply the same standard to Ric Flair as HBK in terms of retirement/send off.
(and I also realize HBK can headline Wrestlemania and still bring it, so I guess you could justify him still having ability as a reason to come back).
Just looking for your 2 cents.
Also interesting that HBK and Bret Hart have last major matches at the same event...

RESPONSE FROM KE: Michaels wanted the opportunity to go out on top and he has done that. That's rare and it would make him truly special. So as much as I would like to see him wrestle again, yes, I would be disappointed, although not as disappointed as I am with Flair, because the situations are very different.

To be honest, I thought that WM was fairly poor, and the last hour was the only thing that saved it from being the worst WM ever. Cena-Batista was a good match, and Taker-HBK was just awesome, again.

On a side note, WM was just not the same without Jim Ross and the sooner he's back the better.

Just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading ur articles. I can always read ur entries and feel as if I havent missed anything. Thanks and keep up the good work!

I give Wrestlemania 26 an C+. The earlier matches felt like warm-ups for the top-tier matches like Undertaker/HBK, Cena/Batista ,and Jericho/Edge.

Unified Tag team match was toooooo short. The MITB Ladder match was OK, but couldn't been better. Really wanted Christain to win though.

Bret Hart/McMahon match wouldn't been good if it happen like 2-3 years ago.

Edge and Jericho had a good match as well as Cena and Batista.

As always, HBK stole the show even if he lost to Taker. That match is up there with last year's match. Its a shame if this is HBK last match.

Hey Kev, I totally agree with you on Vickie Guerrero frog splash. OMG, that was sooooooo horrible. That made me vomit.

First, the bad:

Divas match. Ugh.

What on Earth must Punk do to get a win against a non-jobber nowadays? He's drawing more heel heat than anybody else, including Jericho, but this is the 7th consecutive PPV in which Punk didn't win a match, and his 3rd consecutive loss against an undersized, overrated wrestler whose main appeal is his mask. If it goes to the Hair vs. Mask match, that's gonna be his 4th consecutive loss to the same guy.

The good:

Michaels - Taker. It wasn't as good as last year's but that doesn't really matter. I couldn't believe Michaels actually lost. I always thought he would get one last world title run before retirement. I swear to God that I thought Michaels had the match won after hitting the moonsault through the table and then the Sweet Chin Music. Call me a mark, but I was shivering for an hour after the match.

I'm a bit on the fence on where Michaels should go from here. On one hand, I want the retirement match to mean something, but on the other hand, I want him to have one last title run...

The MitB was a fun match, and Swagger was definitely a pleasant surprise. I just wish they had used him better since being drafted to Raw.

"I think Swagger is an excellent choice to get a push, but I have a strange feeling that he is going to be the first MITB winner to cash in the contract and fail to win the title."

I don't think that's going to happen. I have a feeling he's probably going to lose the briefcase to Sheamus/McIntyre or someone who's more over (Kingston or Christian, maybe). Maybe he should even have a feud over the briefcase to give him more credibility before cashing it in.

The main event was beautiful. Wonderfully paced, just the right amount of big spots and drama. Loved Taker selling the leg, loved the Moonsault, the Tombstone on the outside and the final leaping Tombstone. I think the whole ending put the entire feud in a great context and put both guys over. HBK doesn't want to just hobble through the rest of his career, slowly getting worse as the years go by. Instead, he goes out on his own terms, in the main event of the biggest show, at his best, slapping death itself right in the face. Perfect.

Bret-Vince was simply weird. It almost seems that Vince wanted to prove how brutal you could still make a chairshot, even when avoiding the head. Didn't bother me too much, but obviously the swerve would've been better at the end of the match.

Cena-Batista was FANTASTIC. I loved it. I just love the way Cena reacts to the inevitable anti-Cena fans at the big shows, and both guys really seemed at their best.

Jericho winning (almost) clean was such a joy to me. This character is certainly one of the greatest heels in WWE history, and deserved this moment. Once again, I loved the split crowd. I don't think that Edge is necessarily incapable of the top face role, but they need to play it better than simply, "He's got this sweet finisher called the Spear!". Of course, the post-match attack was brutal and fun, and did a good job of putting over the move.

Unfortunately, I think that the rest of the card was squeezed so hard to make room for the top 4 matches, that they never really got the time and opportunity they deserved. The MITB was great as always, but felt a LITTLE bit off, as opposed to past years. I did appreciate the surprise of Swagger winning.

And I don't care what anyone says, I was actually a little touched by Vickie doing the frog splash.

For me this was the Most Boring WM Ever. The crowd in AZ didn't seem into it much except for the entrance and at the end of a match. Thank goodness for the last 2 matches because with out them this WM could have really hurt WWE badly.
This WM has done more for TNA then anything TNA has done for itself, and I hate TNA and love WWE but Vince and company blew this one. I'd feel ripped off if it weren't for seeing HBK's final match

Vickie Guerrero pointing up before hitting the admittedly sloppy frog splash was one of the most sincerely emotional, albeit understated, Wrestlemania moments right there with the seconds before Shawn Michaels superkicked Ric Flair.

Right then she wasn't the annoying, shrieking GM but a real person, a widow paying a personal tribute - great moment. Imagine if the entire Hart family had pointed up for Owen and Stu before Vince got pinned.

I have Bret Hart's book and it is a good read and I don't recall reading anything that would make him sound insecure about his performances compared to HBK. I would rather watch Hart right now than Flair and Hogan.

RESPONSE FROM KE: If you saw "Wrestling with Shadows," there was a scene in which Bret sounded concerned after Shawn turned heel, wondering if that was going to take his heat away. He says that in the book as well. Concerning his Iron Man match with HBK at WrestleMania XII, he wrote, "In this ending, the better man would lose." He said that either should got tired in that match or else he was trying to go dead weight on Hart to make him look bad. Hart also came off sounding jealous that Michaels had become Vince's "favorite," replacing him.

I enjoyed Mania. Loved Cena celebrating with the Cena Haters. Loved Jericho keeping the belt - he deserves a reward like that after the incredible year he had. Did anyone else catch Cena calling spots throughout the match? It was pretty noticeable...

Kevin,

I really enjoyed Wrestlemania, though I'm still baffled about the length of the ShowMiz match. However, my question pertains to CM Punk. I am assuming that the brass see him as an upper mid-card guy, and that his chances of being WWE champion for an extended period are slim. For the PG era, his message is on point (if you boil it down to its essence), but he harangues the crowd and hangs with people who look like they'd beat you up and steal your lunch money. The question: Can he ever rise above the guys, like Mysterio, who sell action figures to kids? I was very disappointed he lost at Mania, though it was not entirely unexpected. But I want to see The Man get his deserved belt sometime soon. Any thoughts?

RESPONSE FROM KE: I think Punk deserves a top spot but I'd say it's 50-50 at best that he gets it. I'm actually surprised he's gotten as big a push as he has.

As far as THD goes, I wouldn't worry. I doubt McMahon even knows that they work for him.

More proselytizing from Matt Striker during the Punk-Mysterio match. I don't care who this guy votes for or how he spends his Sundays, but I don't want to hear about his imaginary friend and his ignorant political views while watching wrestling.

Speaking of Punk-Mysterio, when I saw Rey's Avatar outfit I thought that the fake hair was to give Punk something to shave after the match. I'm glad I was wrong, as Mysterio joining Punk is the wrong move.

McMahon-Hart needed some color desperately.

HBK-Undertaker didn't top last year, but they had another great match, better than I expected. Thank you, Shawn. (Although I somewhat expect HBK-HHH at next year's 'Mania.)

I actually enjoyed this WM a lot apart from a few things. I was hoping the tag match would be a good push for Morrison (who is athletiically very sound) and R-Truth and look what the powers gave us..........5 minutes and a poor ending ! The Orton match was predictable but enjoyable-pity the camera missed the punt. Santino's Slim Jim ad was funny but this guy cracks me up anyway. MITB was good, frantic but overcrowded. I feared that THEY would let Drew McIntyre win it but thankfully he was mostly anonymous. HHH vs Sheamus was better than I expected and I thought that Sheamus did quite well. Punk/Mysterio - I thought a different result would have been better but if Rey needs surgery then I guess thats the end of that storyline. Hart/McMahon was OK but too drawn out although you have to give credit to McMahon for receiving a good beatdown. The Divas match was pathetic and did nobody any favours.
Batista/Cena was so much better than I anticipated. Good result and presumably not the end of this feud. Cena posing with the hate guys was classic. Lastly the best match that I've seen since last year. UT/HBK gave it all. Undertaker really looked as though he was struggling to stand at the end. HBK has always been a favourite of mine since the Rockers and I doubt that his like will ever be seen again just like Stonecold, The Rock , Angle and Hogan who can replace him?

As much as I liked the way things played out with the Harts and the Hart Dynasty at ringside getting their shots in on Vince, the excessive chair shots from the Hitman dragged things on too long and it did make for a bit of uncomfortable viewing. It could be explained that it was over a decade's worth of pent-up anger and frustration, but the point would have been made better with about a third of the chair shots - and this is coming from a Hitman fan.

With Vince getting in no offense of his own at any point whatsoever, it led me to believe that the Hitman might not have been able to take anything done to him at all. It could have been a way to safeguard him against injury just in case, though.

I'd have still ended the match two or three minutes earlier and given it to the tag team title match that started things off.

The rest of the event was pretty solid overall and enough to keep me interested during each match, and while the Michaels/Undertaker match didn't quite reach the level of last year's it was almost impossible for it to. They still did enough different that it wasn't like watching a repeat, and they sold it well that the Undertaker might lose.

If I hadn't known that Michaels seemed to be leaning toward retirement already, I'd have thought for a moment that as the Undertaker stopped and let Michaels crawl his way back up at the end he'd do something to surprise the Undertaker for the win. Of course, when he gave the throat slash you knew that was it, even before the slap. The aftermath of it was played well as he left the ring and stage.

I thought the booking of the other matches was pretty much on point, and while I liked Avatar I thought the hair braid on Mysterio was a little silly. Not quite as bad as the Joker facepaint he did the year before, at least.

Jack Swagger has done nothing for months yet suddenly wins a big match at WM? Sloppy, on the run planning from those on high.

The biggest show of the year was a big letdown!

Loved WrestleMania this year. My only complaint was there were too many guys in the MITB ladder match. Was Kane really necessary at this point in his career?

Other than that, loved the show. Shawn Michaels/Undertaker absolutely lived up to the hype and more!! What a match! They are amazing. The casual fans who watched this me were floored that these guys were so old yet so good.

Ok Kev, good points with "Wrestling With Shadows" and the book. But I think it's fair to say Hart was feeling that way because as he said Shawn Michaels worked his way onto the booking committee, would not put over guys, including Bret. He had other wrestlers like the Undertaker question whether he was hurt or was it an excuse not to put someone over. It was also stated that as champion Michaels knew better than to break kayfabe at MSG and was fined by McMahon and had to apologize to his fellow wrestlers. So it seems to me that Bret didn't like that Vince was favoring Shawn because it went away from the traditional code. In the book Bret says Vince still honored the code and had Michaels call Bret and thank him for putting him over.

Just wanted to put it out there. I like both performers and wanted to throw some stuff your way.

Someone else already found a link to the picture of Michaels and Hart backstage. Here's one from before the match with Triple-H and Hart:

http://www.wwe.com/content/media/touts/feature/29062/13952654

More here: http://www.wwe.com/shows/wrestlemania/diary/day5/

A list of Top Ten Shawn matches?

Ok here is my two cents about WrestleMania 26:

: Tag title was too short,not a bad match just too short,

I liked Money in the Bank, Swagger surprised me, it also surprised me when Jericho was layed out by Edge, i was thinking" this would be a perfect time to cash it in" one of these years it will happen:

Hart/Mcmahon was what i expected, If anyone expected hart/Michaels quality match with this, then they are just silly, In fact, Brett got back to his feet after his elbowsmashes quicker than Scott Steiner did many years back in his WWE run, so Brett, considering everything, looked oK to me, it was closure, for something talked about for 12 years, it was worth sitting through 12 minutes for it to be over for good,( hopefully).

Cena/Batista was better than i expected.
Taker/Michaels literally had me on the edge of my chair, i loved it and Shawn will be sorely missed, I paid the 50+ bucks and got my moneys worth,..

All the results were as expected except maybe for MITB, not a bad choice but confused as to how Swagger has been booked facing Santino to getting a title shot.
Christian definitely deserves better, i guess that was Vince metaphorically slamming the breifcase in his face for going to TNA.

It would have been nice if the Hart's did something to pay tribute to Owen and Davey Boy.....and where was 'The Anvil'?

I'm in complete, utter awe at the awful booking of some of the matches last night, most of all the Hart/McMahon showdown.

It was obvious the Harts would double cross Vince, but why on earth would they give that away before the match? It completely sucked any drama and potential buildup for a match that everyone knew would not be much of a match but anticipated anyway.

Failing letting the match build, couldn't they have done something with a run in or something to that effect? Perhaps another tag team coming to help save Vince only for THD to thwart their efforts, thereby helping to put both teams over a bit and creating a ready-made feud? And potentially starting to rebuild the tag division?

I mean, seriously, booking this stuff isn't rocket science but it is an art. And whoever drew that picture had it come out like they took a dump on a dirty shirt.

Not that I'm complaining, because Jericho is one of my favs, but that's three years running that the Royal Rumble winner has lost in the title match.

Hey Kev, i totally agree with the comment you made about cena's sell of the neck injury. i was convinced that it was a genuine injury when Batista seemed to hesitate. gotta say after edge destroyed jericho, i was certain that Swagger was gonna come out and cash in, especially after the references to his comment on raw in commentary about cashing in on the night.

in response to your question about eve torres' music playing for the babyface divas, i think if you look back over the past 6 weeks she's been getting a push (or at least as much of one as you can get in the diva's division, basically that view comes from a series of winning pinfalls in the 6 diva tag matches).

p.s. favourite line of the night has got to be by Santino Marella "oh look, mae not so young",

I was @ Wrestlemania XXVI (thanks to my wife, who bought us tix for my birthday! And to RAW...get to that in a minute...), and I wanted to address some of the comments about the crowd being dead. I agree, I felt the crowd wasn't as hyped and energetic as I thought it would be, but you have to put yourself there to understand it. The opening match wasn't really built up all that well before the PPV - Morrison and truth are both "over", and both Miz and Big Show have their fans (myself included), but the mic work that Morrison and Truth were given prior to WM26 was so lame and never really built up any heat for this match...then it's OVER so quickly that I think the crowd was in shock a bit. Then, for MITB, it was a good match, but again I think we were all waiting for that "HOLY S&*T!!!" moment that never quite came, etc. etc. and so the crowd never really got rolling.

We popped for the CM Punk/Mysterio match (the one I was most looking forward to, besides HBK's match), but again it was too short and also we had to sit through that Bret Hart/VKM debacle that just sucked all the energy out of the crowd. That could have been booked much better (shorter!).

BUT...

At RAW tonight (which I was also at), and which was also from Phoenix, many of the same fans were there -- and the crowd was ELECTRIC! Much of that, of course, had to do with the Shawn Michaels farewell, but it was a smaller venue and the pacing of the show was better. I think also everyone was so on edge about what would happen with HBK tonight that there was a lot of buzz going into the show.

And I have to say, I feel so BLESSED to have been at RAW tonight for HBK's farewell address. It was incredibly classy, heartfelt, just amazing. I think we were all in shock a bit though afterwords that it's really over - still hard to believe as I type this.

The Undertaker's tip-of-the-hat send-off was brilliant (and, again, really classy). I really loved that Shawn thanked the production and video editing crew (and one guy in particular) - that's the line of work that I'm in and the behind-the-scenes guys never get much credit, so that was so cool of him to say that. At the risk of sounding cliched or cheesy, it really was a magical moment that nearly brought tears to my eyes.

And if there's any way you can see a video of what happened after the show, it was classic - Jericho comes out and starts asking if everyone's done with the crying and the love-fest and just riles up the crowd - hilarious stuff. Jericho is just brilliant. He wins a match against Edge, then HHH comes out and gives him sweet chin music (followed by Hunter grabbing his crotch as if he just pulled it - again, hilarious stuff!). HHH lays the belt over Chris then leaves. The ref then raises Jericho's hand and they announce that he is "Still the World Heavyweight Champion" (while he's laying face-down on the mat with the belt draped over him) - so funny!

RAW was off the charts. Such a great weekend!

re: Gerald on Cena's character lacking any heel traits...

Isn't Cena basically the last of the straightforward faces because he's the unofficial 'kid's champion' or whatever?

Like, it's easy to forget on the internet that kids watch wrestling still, but even his outfit, with the jeans shorts and t shirts and baseball cap is very 6-12 year old in style.

If WWE ever did a separate league again, they might try a Saturday afternoon or after school show for kids...or however you 'hit that market' these days...but someday down the road, they'd be glad to have farmed more fans, and the kid world just doesn't mesh well with the young adult/adult crowd that RAW is all about.

Christian was robbed in the MITB match. This was the chance to push him to where he really belongs, challenging for the major titles. Instead it goes to the massively overrated Jack Swagger. I wonder where Christian goes from here? A 3-way feud with Chris Jericho and Edge could be very interesting as he has tagged with both. Otherwise I don't see what reason he would have for staying with WWE, as he was one of the top dogs in TNA.

Sad to see HBK 'retire' but given that we've been hoodwinked in the past, I won't accept he's retired just yet.

CM Punk, up there with Jericho and Christian as the best in the business right now, reduced to a 6 minute match against Rey Mysterio? Again as with Christian, where does his career go from here? He deserves to be holding major titles. The Straight Edge Society has the potential to be a brilliant storyline, but no doubt WWE will ruin it.

Triple H v Sheamus went for double the time of the Punk match, is Vince McMahon smoking crack or what? Most of the fans couldn't care less about either Triple H or his oil boy Sheamus.

The Bret Hart-Vince McMahon match was horrible, and I think the Hitman has tarnished his name a bit with this horror show of a fight. He doesn't need the money, he doesn't need the respect, so why did he agree to it?

Randy Orton is another in the category of the best guys in the WWE right now, who is being under-utilised. Seriously, WWE are pushing the wrong guys every time.

WWE should also ditch the Divas. Sick fed up of these terrible matches dirtying every PPV. Kelly Kelly is smoking hot, but apart from that, they have no place in WWE as anything other than eye candy.

Ando so the question remains: Did the great Kevin Eck cryied when he realized HBK was really retiring?

.... I'm a little disappointed that Hornswoggle didnt feature in a major angle at Wrestlemania. The guy certainly "gets it", has the mike skills of Warrior, the charisma of Lance Storm and the in-ring ability of "The Immoral" Hulk Hogan - He has all the potential to be a big draw yet the WWE continue to give him the short end of the stick, belittling him by relegating him to the lower card. He's definately the most under-utilised guy out there and really deserves a bigger push. If the Vince isn't careful he could lose 'Swoggle to TNA... Maybe then we'll see the dream tag team of Horswoggle and Bubba... "HornyLove"!!!

Kevin, I get why you would ask the question about Bret's thoughts re Shawn but I think the key is that Bret knew, as did very other wrestling fan, that this Mania was all about Shawn-Taker. The insecurities you refer to were certainly evident in the past but, I think, seem to have been left behind now. I am hopeful that we have now reached a point where we can talk about Bret without mentioning Shawn. As for Bret's match, in my blog I pointed out that, oddly, logic and commonsense is not always the best way to go. This was what the fans wanted - a merciless beatdown of Vince - and once that had started, why would Bret (in character) want to end it quickly? Unfortunately, a merciless beatdown is pretty dull to watch after a while. Given that it was No DQ, someone should probably have come to Vince's aid. Then the Harts could have had a mass brawl and Bret could still have got the win with a bit of drama along the way. The main thing is, Montreal is finally done with, Bret got a decent goodbye from wrestling at last and both Bret and Shawn can finally get the respect they deserve without fans of one throwing the whole ghastly business at the other.

I am sure someone else has said it...I enjoy the promo's for matches as much as the matches sometimes. The promo for Michaels-Undertaker, set to Placebo's song, is in my opinion the best one ever done. It perfectly conveys the desperation of a man obsessed with proving that he can defeat the seemingly undefeatable and the lengths he will go to in his pursuit of that goal. You could feel his anguish as he was so seemingly close to his goal, but always just missing the mark. They built this story to a crescendo perfectly. It made me want to see this match. It convinced me to buy WM26. And people can pretend they knew UT would win, but for a moment, if just for a moment, I wondered...Kev, I know you get asked to comment on a lot of things, but I would really love to get your opinion on this. I appreciate it!Great work as always. I hope we never take it for granted how good you really are my friend.

RESPONSE FROM KE: I agree with you on all points. Excellent storytelling from two consummate pros.

Post a comment

All comments must be approved by the blog author. Please do not resubmit comments if they do not immediately appear. You are not required to use your full name when posting, but you should use a real e-mail address. Comments may be republished in print, but we will not publish your e-mail address. Our full Terms of Service are available here.

Please enter the letter "x" in the field below:
About Kevin Eck
The Baltimore Sun's Kevin Eck blogs about professional wrestling.
E-mail Kevin.
-- ADVERTISEMENT --

Cast your vote
Most Recent Comments
Photo galleries
Sign up for FREE local sports alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for local sports text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
Blog updates
Recent updates to baltimoresun.com sports blogs  Subscribe to this feed
Charm City Current
Stay connected