Well, our last installment of opening matches saw the absolute worst aspects of The New Generation and The Attitude Era. This week however, is the start of something great as we’re out of the Russo Era and we get to see some of the stronger aspects of The WWE Attitude Era. The midcard has been stocked up on talented workers such as Regal, Jericho, RVD, Cena, Big Show, Hardy and Mysterio as they get a chance to shine. While nothing here is on par with Owen vs Bret at WrestleMania X, these matches are worth a watch in my opinion. With that being said, let’s get started with our first match!
WrestleMania 2000: The Big Bossman and Bull Buchanan over The Godfather and D’Lo Brown w/Ice-T in 9:02
Before he named dropped Kotaku on SVU, Ice-T had a one match stint as a wrestling manager! Alright, he just rapped his version of The Godfather’s theme before heading to the back, but wrestling manager is something that he can add to his reusme. Ice-T was in the corner of Godfather and D-Lo Brown since the company was releasing a rap album named WWF Agression. Fun fact: It was the only rap album I’ve ever owned and it’s collecting dust in a storage locker at my apartment. This is the last Mania appearance for the Big Bossman, at least it’s a better appearance than getting hanged the previous year. At-least he’s getting honored with a much deserved Hall of Fame induction, the guy drew big money with Hogan and Dusty. I’m not surprised that Bull Buchanan didn’t get a bigger push, but I think the influx of WCW talent and the RTC gimmick did him in. The guy was surprisingly agile for being 6’6 and almost three hundred pounds. He would have been good as a bodyguard for Vince or even Stephanie, but that’s what we have EWR for. This match is nothing special but The Godfather was still over and D’Lo made for a good face in peril here, but there isn’t much to this match. Buchanan hits a pretty good leg drop from the top rope to get the victory.
Hey WWE, how about putting WrestleMania All Day Long on the Network or doing something like that next year?
WrestleMania X-Seven; Intercontinental Championship Match: Chris Jericho (C) over William Regal in 7:08
Welcome to WrestleMania Paul Heyman and William Regal! While Jericho peeing in Regal’s tea pot is a bit juvenile, but I enjoyed Jericho dressing as Doink and beating up Regal. If you’re big on ring psychology, this is the match for you as Regal just goes to work on Jericho’s left shoulder and Jericho can’t even get him in the Walls of Jericho as a result. William Regal is one of those wrestlers I always found to be boring and I’d fast forward through his matches as a kid. As an adult, I’ve come to appreciate his work from isolating a body part and the ways he could get the crowd to hate him. One wave to the crowd and they just hate the guy, and the double underhook superplex is awesome. I really like this match, they lay into each-other and Regal’s chest looks like he got into a chopping contest with Ronnie Garvin. Jericho not being able to get Regal into the Walls of Jericho and having to fight him with one arm is a nice little touch. If you have a few hours to kill or taking a road trip to Dallas, listen to The Lapsed Fan’s WrestleMania X-7 podcast, it’s a great episode breaking down the end of The Attitude Era. It maybe seven hours but the time flies by. In-fact, listen to every episode and not only will you want it, but you will need it.
WrestleMania X8; Intercontinental Championship Match: Rob Van Dam over William Regal (C) in 6:19
It took eighteen years, but we have our first opening match with a title change! Also, welcome William Regal’s bad-ass theme! You’d think that Regal and RVD would be a serious clash of styles and the match would be ugly, but they have decent chemistry. Much like Regal vs Jericho at X7, they lay into each-other with strikes and Regal gets a busted mouth from a stiff strike. Of course, the Regal doing a simple wave gets the crowd too boo the heck out of him. Regal kills RVD with a full nelson suplex and I loved Regal having a pair of back-up brass knuckles after having his first pair taken away. Overall, this is an enjoyable match and it’s sad that Regal never got a bigger push beyond the Intercontinental Championship. I know his wellness violation killed a potential world title run, but we did get some great matches in NXT/FCW with Ambrose, Cesaro and Ohno. I eagerly look forward being the Patterson to Hunter’s McMahon unless Vince puts his brain in a robot version of himself. Or has a bunch of clone slugs of himself in the bowels of Titan Towers, each one wearing his baby blue sportscoats with the old school WWF logo patch on his breasts.
WrestleMania XIX; Cruiserweight Championship Match: Matt Hardy (C) w/Shannon Moore over Rey Mysterio in 5:37
I think Mysterio’s Daredevil themed attire is probably the best WrestleMania attire he had, much better than the Avatar or Joker gear. Matt Hardy V1 is probably Hardy’s best gimmick as a heel, barely beating out the proto “Big Money Matt” we saw in ROH. Sorry, dreadlock Hardy who resembles Tyler Reks and dog killer Matt Hardy don’t do much for me. I have to give them credit, despite only being given five minutes, Rey and Matt put on one helluva match. Hardy pairs well with Mysterio using his height and weight to toss Mysterio around during the match. I think if they had been given six or seven more minutes, this would be a memorable WrestleMania opener. Instead, we two Limp Bizkit performances (TWO!) and a stupid segment with the Miller Lite catfight girls. Remember that commercial? It somehow warranted a segment on WrestleMania. Fun fact, we couldn’t order WrestleMania because of a screw-up with the cable company and once we finally got it ordered…it was right when this happened. Thank you, Vince McMahon. That would give the match at-least an extra four to five minutes and it’s the only match on the card that needs the extra time. I can’t believe the WWE/Limp Bizkit alliance continued all the way to 2003. His music was used for two PPVs! Dana White wanted him to perform at a concert to kick off UFC 100, but I presume somebody made him realize how dumb of an idea that was. I presume that person wasn’t around when Dana signed CM Punk.
WrestleMania XX; United States Championship Match: John Cena over Big Show (C) in 9:14
This is kind of a historic match when you think about it, the WrestleMania debut of the biggest star of the modern era. I think it’s up there with the birth of the streak at WrestleMania VII in-terms of historic undercard matches. A personal note, it’s quite weird hearing Cena getting a pop when his music hits after about a decade of his theme receiving a resounding negative reaction. Also, Big Show with short hair is just plain weird after seeing him bald for so many years. Cole boasts that Show beat The Rock at MSG and retired Hulk Hogan at MSG in pure WTF moments. Show did pin Hogan at The Garden in a six-man tag, but The Rock things is plain old inaccurate. As for the match itself, it’s different from the Cena formula we’ve seen for the past decade or so. He’s on the receiving end of a whooping and whenever Cena gets some momentum, Show cuts him off. I think the match deserves praise since it shows that Cena could take a beating and get the crowd on his side with ease. It’s nothing fancy, it’s a meat and potatoes type of match and both guy play their roles well. The finish is creative with Cena going for the chain to only distract the ref by tossing it aside and using brass knuckles instead. It’s worth the watch to get a glimpse of a time period in-which Cena was getting cheered on a consistent basis.
There we go folks, we have officially reviewed the first twenty opening matches in WrestleMania history. The good news is that we only have ten more opening matches to review before April 3rd and we’re probably hitting the best period of opening matches in WrestleMania history. Next up is Eddie vs Rey, two MITB matches and a personal favorite of mine with JBL vs Finlay. With that being said, the worst match award goes to Godfather and D’Lo Brown vs Big Bossman and Bull Buchanan. The best match award goes to Chris Jericho vs William Regal for the great ring psychology and because Regal deserves the reward.
Also, listen to the Lapsed Fan.