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WWE WrestleMania – Opening the Mania Part Five

Not much to talk about this week since we have a pretty good lineup just by going off the list. WrestleMania 23 was actually the last Mania I watched until WrestleMania XXVI for reasons having to do with a certain incident that took place that year. We have two Money in The Bank matches, Eddie vs Rey, JBL vs Finlay and the only match that could be bad on paper is Carlito AND Chris Masters vs Kane and Big Show.

WrestleMania 21: Rey Mysterio over Eddie Guerrero in 12:39

Looking at this card, this has to be considered one of the most important WrestleManias of the modern era, right? You have the championship ascension of Cena and Batista, the end of Triple H’s reign of terror, Orton comes close to ending the streak, Edge gets the start of a big push, and the dream match between Michaels and Angle delivers. When it comes to this match, I honestly thought it would top Bret/Owen when it came to opening matches. The last big PPV match they had was the classic at Halloween Havoc 1997 and I thought it would top that one too. Alas, once the match started and ended, I was disappointed. It a pretty good match, but it felt empty to be quite honest. When I watched the match again for this article, I found myself amazed by the story they were telling of these two longtime rivals turned best friends, and I was hooked.

We got some crisp technical wrestling and even the tease of a dive to the outside by both men in the beginning of the match. Since Eddie and Rey have been rivals for so long and now best friends, they know each others moves and how to counter them with ease. Rey counters the Three Amigos suplexes twice, Eddie barely escapes from getting hit with the 619 and just kills Rey with a brutal tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Eddie counters West Coast Pop with a brutal powerbomb and Rey barely escapes getting planted with the frog splash. Praise should go to Cole and Taz since they do a fantastic job selling the idea that Eddie is frustrated with not being able to beat Mysterio and put him down for the victory. After the match, Taz pushes the idea that Eddie is going to snap and beat up Mysterio after the match and it’s refreshing compared to the dreck we hear today. It should be watched since it plants the seeds for Eddie’s fantastic heel run before he sadly passed.

WrestleMania 22: WWE World Tag Team Championship Match; Kane and Big Show (C) over Carlito and Chris Masters in 6:42

Perfectly Acceptable Wrestling. That’s the best way to describe the match in my opinion and that isn’t a bad thing in my book. Kane is on fire doing leapfrogs, throwing a nice dropkick and even jumping off the top rope to the floor. There isn’t much to talk about here and Kane/Show needed a good small heel team to work with. They could get heat by cheating and making the big men look like a million bucks by bumping like pinballs. Carlito is alright in the role, but Masters was still pretty green but they hit a nice double flapjack on Show. This isn’t much of a match and it’s not bad at all, it’s just not something memorable.

WrestleMania 23: Mr. Kennedy over Edge, Randy Orton, King BOOKAH, Matt and Jeff Hardy, Finlay and CM Punk in a Money in the Bank Match in 24:10

I’ll say this now. Matt Hardy got his start as crazy sociopath who burnt down Jeff Hardy’s house and caused his dogs death on this night. First, he convinces Jeff to jump off a giant ladder onto Edge who was placed on a ladder between the barrier and apron. It takes out his longtime rival Edge and his brother, making his chances of winning MITB that much better for himself. Second, when Sharmell runs while King BOOKAH is climbing the ladder, he grabs her and threatens to hit the Twist of Fate. JBL yelling that Jeff is an idiot and that Booker should just climb the ladder anyway was perfect. This was a pretty good MITB match and I must say that Finlay is surprisingly good in these matches. He just uses the ladder to beat the crap out of everybody and really doesn’t do much in-terms of dives. His dive from the top rope is great, but you need somebody like him in a match like this. Less dives and fancy stuff like that and more just killing fools. Orton’s RKO spree and hitting Punk with the RKO off the ladder was a great spot, so was Booker hitting Orton with the Book End off the top of the ladder.  Overall, this a fun little demolition derby and it’s weird to see a time when Hornswoggle was beloved and I stupidly thought Mr. Kennedy was the new Austin. My bad.

WrestleMania XXIV: JBL over Finlay with Hornswoggle in a Belfast Brawl in 8:43

I love this match. I’ll say it now, even with that whole that whole “Finlay is actually Hornswoggle’s son” twist they added.  I almost wish we would have seen Finlay vs McMahon after that cringe worthy beating that JBL gave Hornswoggle in the cage and Finlay was fantastic in that segment.  I was really rooting for Finlay to just kill JBL and that’s a testament to JBL being a fantastic heel as a merciless bully. They just beat the living crap out of each other with stiff strikes even if the shots to head are a bit tough to watch. I actually thought they banned them in 2007 and I don’t think they needed them in the match. I do wish that Finlay would have won the feud and we would have seen him gunning for McMahon, bit this a fun match to watch. We also have one of the greatest moments in the history of our business: JBL throwing a trashcan at Hornswoggle! I can always laugh when I see that GIF, JBL even retweeted me when I tweeted the .gif to him.

WrestleMania XXV: CM Punk over Kane, Mark Henry with Tony Atlas, MVP, Shelton Benjamin, Kofi Kingston, Christian and Finlay with Hornswoggle in a Money in the Bank Match in 14:22

I forgot about Tony Atlas managing Mark Henry when he was in ECW, but I’ll admit that Henry does great in this match. Much like Finlay, he just uses the ladder to wreck people and doesn’t partake in any dives. Hornswoggle gets some time in the sun before the internet revolted on his presence and was only happy to see him when he was getting beat up. It’s the typical Money in the Bank match with a slow start to the human demolition derby as Jim Ross would always say. Speaking of good old JR, this is the last Mania he would call the entire show for despite making cameo appearances every now and then.

There’s a lot of great spots ranging from Shelton jumping off the suicide ladder and the ladder as a weapon spots are creative. Finlay even pulls off a suicide dive through the middle rope! There are some nasty botches with Christian hitting Punk with an Unprettier off a ladder and a nasty sunset flip powerbomb by Shelton on MVP.  The creative spot award goes to Christian and Benjamin doing the traditional “ladder falls over and both guys fall to the outside spot” but Christian manages to get one foot on the top ropes and keeps his balance. It’s nothing fancy, but I liked the idea of Christian being genre savvy.

This slate of matches is pretty good with two strong MITB matches to support it. As for the best match award, I give that award to Eddie Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio from WrestleMania 21.  I went into it expecting to be disappointed like I did when I first watched it, but it surprised me upon a second viewing. The worst match award is obvious with Kane and Show vs Carlito and Masters, but it’s not even a bad match. It falls into the same trap that Rick Martel and Koko B. Ware fell in at WrestleMania VI, it’s surrounded by some great matches. Next week it’s the finish line with the last six opening matches and this has been a fun little project to do. Till next time fans.

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Robert Goeman

Robert Goeman has been writing for CamelClutchBlog since 2014 and has written for FiveOuncesofPain and What Culture. Follow him on twitter at https://twitter.com/RobertGoeman.

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