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Stone Cold Steve Austin Tempted By Brock Lesnar WWE Match

April 17, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

Leave it to the world’s greatest master manipulator to goad one of the biggest stars in wrestling history into one more match. Paul Heyman may have done the unthinkable which is entice Stone Cold Steve Austin to get in a WWE ring for one more time.

The Steve Austin WrestleMania rumors have just started to die down as fans have become resolved with the idea that the Texas Rattlesnake is never coming back. While Austin has never said the word “never”, most assumed after Austin passed up a Mania match with CM Punk that he was indeed done. That was until Austin’s former manager Paul Heyman laid out the perfect scenario.

The former ECW mastermind was a recent guest on Austin’s podcast. The conversation ended with both fawning over Brock Lesnar. Heyman than brought up that he and Lesnar have had an interest going back to Lesnar’s UFC days in a match with Stone Cold. Heyman proceeded to lay out the scenario, billing the match as the Baddest Man on the Planet vs. The World’s Toughest S.O.B. Austin sat silent until Heyman put him on the spot. After dodging the question as to whether he would be interested he finally admitted to Heyman that he is intrigued.

It didn’t take long for word to spread throughout the Internet about Austin’s interest in such a match. It should be noted that all Austin said was that he was interested with Heyman doing most of the talking. That was enough for pro wrestling fans to get excited. But the question is, should you get excited? Is there a real possibility that this match is going to happen?

My gut says no. Austin has remained retired from active competition for over a decade. Austin is still in great shape and as we saw a few years back on Tough Enough, he could get in the ring tomorrow and go. As a matter of a fact the WWE were so convinced that Austin could be tempted to come back that they even penciled in a match with him and Triple H at WrestleMania 30. It never happened and most presumed that by this point he was done. Maybe he isn’t done after all?

How big would the match be? I think the match would be gigantic. In terms of money it is hard to say because more people will have the WWE Network next year and the buyrates are bound to decline. However, a match like this could still do big business. I would imagine there would be a ton of casual fans that would gladly pay $70 to see this match, yet have no interest in subscribing to the entire network for $10 less. I think you would draw in so many crossover fans that haven’t watched in awhile or don’t buy shows that you’d have the biggest match of our lifetime in Brock vs. Austin.

How good would the match be? I think it could be pretty damned good. I think the styles of both guys would mix real well inside the ring. It is tough to say at Austin’s age and ring rust how crisp he’d be in the ring. The only thing I can go on was his workout on Tough Enough and he looked pretty damned solid during that little workout session with Luke Robinson. Brock is Brock and I think a mix of a wrestling/brawl kind of a match, kept under 20 minutes would be the perfect recipe for these two to knock it out of the park.

There is always the additional backstory here of Austin’s walkout. Austin walked out of the company in 2002 after he was asked to put Brock over on RAW in a King of the Ring qualifier. Austin has said many times since then that walking out over this was one of the biggest career mistakes he ever made. Everyone knows the story so using it as part of the hype for the match only seems like a a natural to me.

But could it really happen? Unlike last year when everyone expected Brock vs. Undertaker at Mania, there is no clearly defined path for him to 31. The Rock is reportedly the working idea but I honestly think you’ll never see a Brock vs. Rock match. There is just too much physical risk to Rock. Cesaro is the other rumored opponent but let’s be honest. With all due respect to my old friend Claudio, I don’t think anyone would expect the WWE to pass on Austin in favor of Brock.

Oh hell yeah!!!

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WrestleMania 30 meets Weekend at Bernie’s

April 16, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

It has been just over a week since the streak of the Undertaker officially came to an end, and I am still in a bit of shock. Like many in the WWE Universe I was expecting the Undertaker to continue his ridiculous streak of only wrestling once a year for many years to come. I know that I am in the minority but I was ready to see the streak end once and for all. Let’s face it, the Undertaker should have walked away after he failed to walk out of the arena after his first win against HHH.

I don’t think it was work and if it was it didn’t make any sense. It would have made for a perfect moment. There were no more legends from the Undertakers era left to beat, and he could have retired on top of the mountain. I guess maybe there was a little more money to be made so instead of doing what was best for fans, young talent, and probably the Undertaker’s long term health they did what was best for business which was make more money off a guy who was already dead.

The WWE and the Undertaker (he has some creative pull) decided to show Weekend at Bernie’s instead of an epic match between two superstars. The dead man being thrown around the ring looking very alive at certain points of the night, but really just being held up by a few strings. There were moments where he looked like the Undertaker, just long enough to make you believe what you were seeing was the real thing. However it was a façade because the Undertaker has been dead for a while now. What we saw on Sunday was a memory of time when The Deadman ruled the ring. The worst part about it for me was I think that the WWE wasted an opportunity to end the streak in real epic dramatic fashion. As much I have wanted to see an end to the streak, this ending left me feeling empty and unresolved.

Brock Lesnar is crazy good and pound for pound might be the best wrestler in the company. Brock Lesnar is the prototype of what the WWE wants. There is no other wrestler like him, he is the Lebron James of the WWE. Sure there are other behemoths like Batista and Big E, but they are still second to Lesnar. So in some ways it is not that farfetched that Lesnar could defeat the streak. You might be asking yourself, “If Brock is so good, what is the problem?” Well from my vantage point I see couple.

  1. Brock Lesnar is a part time wrestler who doesn’t deserve to have “defeat the streak” on his resume. The streak represents the Undertakers longevity of dominance and it should be broken by a guy that fans believe can match that longevity of dominance. It shouldn’t just be who the best is right now, but who one of the best is of all time. I am not saying that Cena is the perfect match but he has the longevity and the battle scars to be able to go to the limit with Taker. It is a believable story and even though fans would be upset, Cena is the type of superstar that deserves to have that on his resume. Cena is there every week, even though he is the top dog. He even comes to Smackdown. Brock Lesnar beat the Undertaker, bragged about it on RAW and then walked out of wrestling for a while. As a fan, why would I want that guy to be the man who broke the streak?
  2. It was really poor story telling all the way up to the match which happened to be extremely predictable except for the Undertaker losing. There are a lot of other superstars that Brock could have challenged at WrestleMania that would have made more sense and made for better matches. Big E or Batista might have made for compelling TV, in a match that is defined by incredible strength. Mr. WrestleMania vs The Streak was a great story and it made totally sense from start to finish and when it ended there was closure. There was a reason for that match, just like there was a reason for a match with HHH and even a reason for a match with CM Punk. There was no reason for a match with Brock Lesnar, but the WWE forced it anyway because it was WrestleMania XXX and the Rock wasn’t competing.

I guess to wrap it all up I am just really confused still in complete shock. Brock didn’t beat the Undertaker. He beat an old guy who looked a lot like the Undertaker and then he grabbed his bag and left. I know that the company likes to throw the fans for a loop and maybe that is what happened here. I just think they got it wrong and tried to for something that wasn’t there. I bet the WWE can still hear the sound of defining silence from the crowd after that match and I think that are going to hear it for a while.

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Inside The End Of The Undertaker’s WrestleMania Streak

April 15, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The pro wrestling world continues to remain in a state of shock at Brock Lesnar ending the streak. Yet now that a week has passed, what may be more fascinating than the end of an era may be the details surrounding this shocking result.

Over a week later and most wrestling fans are still in shock over the end of the streak. There is almost this sense of denial among those fans, some who believe that the result was more of a mistake than something planned. Unfortunately for them and any other doubters, the end of the streak is real and it was absolutely planned going into Mania.

Dave Meltzer of F4Wonline.com has done a tremendous job in peeling back the layers of this story and providing his readers with all of the juicy details that led up to this moment in history. I am not going to repeat word for word what Meltzer has reported, but I will take a look at some of the more interesting aspects of his investigation.

  • As of the last Monday Night RAW prior to WrestleMania known as the “go-home show”, the plan was for the streak to continue. The decision to put Lesnar over happened sometime between the end of RAW and the start of the match. This probably explains the criticism behind the build to the match. Many including myself thought the build was weak, made even more unimpressive when you put it into perspective with how the match played out.
  • Vince McMahon mandated that the Undertaker not be touched during the build to the match. It wasn’t until that final RAW where Vince lifted that decree and allowed Lesnar to get heat on the Undertaker. The cynic in me thinks that Vince changed his mind about the finish sometime over that weekend and changed his mind to allow Undertaker to get heat on Lesnar, knowing Lesnar would be the one going over.
  • Very few people in the company knew about the finish of the match including referee Chad Patton. I understand why this would be such a highly guarded secret but not telling the referee may be one of the dumbest things I have ever heard. The finish could have been an absolute disaster if the referee didn’t rely on his instincts and count to three. Strangely enough the oddsmakers (yes there are WWE odssmakers) shifted the odds in favor of Brock being the favorite over the weekend so someone leaked the result. The idea that the referee was given the wrong finish of one of the most historical matches of our lifetime is ludicrous.
  • Meltzer believes that the only way Vince would have booked this finish was if he felt that the Undertaker was retiring after the show. Nobody has confirmed whether or not the Undertaker has indeed retired, although it was certainly alluded to by the announcers after the match. However, Meltzer feels that something must have given Vince this vibe in order to make the move. Looking back I wonder if the same finish would have been booked last year if Vince felt Undertaker was wrapping it up at 29?
  • The Undertaker personally picked Brock to end the streak in 2011. Remember when the two shot an angle at a UFC event in which Lesnar and Taker had a confrontation? Vince, Lesnar, and Taker were all on board with the move but it was UFC president Dana White who refused to allow Brock to wrestle while under contract.

I found all of these tidbits interesting, especially the idea that the finish was changed a week before the show. The inside stories and the in-ring result will make this one a hard one to beat for the biggest pro wrestling in-ring story of 2014.

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Rumored Brock Lesnar WWE WrestleMania 31 Opponents

April 14, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

What do you do with Brock Lesnar at WrestleMania 31 a year after breaking the Undertaker’s streak at 30? That is the question being asked on social media and a new report reveals some interesting scenarios in discussion for the former UFC and WWE champion.

Bryan Alvarez has the scoop in the latest edition of his Figure Four Weekly newsletter. According to Alvarez, the WWE have penciled in a couple of possible Mania 31 opponents for Brock. One is the usual suspect while another is a bit of a surprise.

According to the report the WWE are still hanging on to the hopes that they can pull off a Brock vs. Rock match at WrestleMania. Alvarez reports that the WWE are penciling in the match, hoping that The Rock will be game for the big match. For those of you keeping track, that will be the second Mania in a row that they have tried to pull off the match although I remember hearing some rumblings back at 29 about a match.

I think the idea is great but I am not so sure it is realistic. The Rock suffered some serious injuries in his last match with John Cena at WrestleMania 29. The injuries were so serious that The Rock’s starring role in the move Hercules was put in jeopardy. There was a fear at the time that Hollywood directors would pressure Rock to avoid any more ring time. There will be a lot of hurdles to overcome to get this match done.

The Undertaker’s injuries this year against Brock are going to do the match no favors. If The Rock had a hard time staying healthy against John Cena, imagine the risk he is putting himself in with Lesnar? Lesnar is very physical and while he’ll take care of The Rock, there is only so much he can do without compromising the integrity of the match. Their match at SummerSlam 2002 is one of the most underrated matches of that decade but that was a decade ago and a lot has changed since then.

Undoubtedly this is the biggest match the WWE could pull off next year at WrestleMania. I don’t see another breakthrough match on the table. If Sting were a few years younger they could have done something with him and John Cena but I have doubts Sting can live up those expectations at this stage of the game. I suppose you could do something with Kurt Angle against Brock or Cena if Angle returns but that is still nothing compared to the potential of Rock and Lesnar.

The dark horse would be Cesaro vs. Lesnar next year at Mania 31. Alvarez reports that the match is something of a backup plan if they can’t sign The Rock. If the WWE can commit to this now, they can take a whole year to build this up. Otherwise a lot can happen over the course of a year and it remains to be seen whether the WWE can fully commit to pushing Cesaro.

I’d love to see it but the WWE have never given fans the perception that Cesaro is capable of hanging with the elite level of guys. On paper today it reads like a squash match. Cesaro needs to go on a roll and get some big wins before I can take this match seriously. Coming close against John Cena is one thing but pinning him is another.

I will throw a name in here as a complete guess. Roman Reigns. I predicted a Reigns vs. Lesnar match in my WrestleMania 31 predictions. I could see people buying this one before Cesaro vs. Lesnar. Reigns going over the guy at Mania who ended the streak would be a game changer for him as well where I don’t know if Cesaro is ready for that. I love Reigns in this spot.

Of course it is very early and if you go back through the last twelve months you can find many ideas that the WWE had on paper for WrestleMania 30 (Daniel Bryan/Bray Wyatt vs. The Undertaker, Triple H vs. Steve Austin) that sounded good at the time but never had any serious momentum outside of the initial story.

This is all card subject to change until we get much closer to the big event. Although it’s nice to see the buzz started early.

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Brock Lesnar vs Daniel Bryan Is Best for WWE Business

April 08, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

The Streak is dead, but everybody knows that now. It’s been talked about on almost every major news site, wrestling blog, twitter, social media and hell even on AOL Chat probably. Now, I want to talk about what may be next for the WWE and the match that should and probably will headline SummerSlam. A wholly original and organic match, not a match that happened some years back but a new and exciting main event

The beast incarnate, the Streak Killer, the monster himself Brock Lesnar vs the new face of the WWE, the leader of the Yes Movement and most all the WWE World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan.

It’s a match destined to happen now, Brock Lesnar has a new vigor, a renewed interest because he ended the Streak. When the hand slapped three and the hatred spew from 75,000 fans the losses to Cena and Triple H disappeared. The fans now have a heel that they can hate because Lesnar took the immortality of The Undertaker away from it. When Lesnar killed the streak, he killed the  one of the last of the old guard. The great thing about Lesnar’s character is that he doesn’t give a shit about the Undertaker or his legacy. He doesn’t care about the legacy of the Streak or the legacy of the WWE, he cares about three things: Himself, money and destroying people. Brock Lesnar with one moment in time made grown men cry and hell he might even get a boner thinking about that.

Of course, it helps that he has Heyman to drive the point in every time he talks about Brock Lesnar. I’m sure we’ll get a 21-1 shirt that Lesnar will wear tonight and will sell like hotcakes on the WWE Shop site. So, what’s next for Lesnar on the road to SummerSlam?

Payback.

The card and the actual idea of getting payback on the only loss of his WWE career he has yet to avenge. That’s right; I’m talking Lesnar vs Cena II at Payback in June. Before everybody wonders if I’ve gone nuts (The train left a long time ago), the time is perfect for this match. Two years after what was probably the most uncomfortable match I’ve watched in a long time, in the same arena Brock Lesnar gets his payback on Cena. Heyman can even hype it up as the fact that John Cena didn’t win as much as he survived a match with a cocky Lesnar. Now, there is not a single amount of cockiness in Lesnar, there is only anger and the rage that fueled him to beat the Streak. This is not the same Brock Lesnar that Cena fought; this is the conqueror and destroyer of worlds.

Lesnar goes against Cena at Payback and while the match is competitive, it ends with Lesnar destroying Cena. Hell, get a little blood as Lesnar hits the F-5 for the win. Then another F-5, and why the heck another F-5 just for craps and giggles. Now, I watched Rocky IV so bear with me. Have Nikki come out and eventually Brie, and this leads to Bryan coming out. Lesnar stares at Bryan, smiles and does his little dance before walking off. Bryan with blood on his shirt stares down Lesnar as the PP- er special goes off the air. Damn, that is going to be tough to say from now on. Would this ending be a bit cheesy and probably material for the upcoming season of Total Divas? Yes. Is this pretty much Rocky IV without Stallone ending Communism with one incoherent speech? Probably, but this would add much much more drama to Lesnar/Bryan. I think at the same time that Lesnar destroying Cena is the next logical step towards Lesnar vs Bryan.

Who would be left to stand up to Lesnar? Two of the biggest stars that this company have been vanquished; he ran through Punk like it was nothing, he beat Triple H twice, and killed Show with a chair. There is only one man left to meet the barbarian at the gates and now he isn’t just fighting for the WWE Championship, he fighting for the entire legacy of the WWE. If Brock Lesnar topples Daniel Bryan and takes that belt, then what happens next? The fans will flock to the network to see Bryan, the last man left to try and stop Lesnar.

Its classic monster heel vs face champion booking; the monster runs through everybody in the company until the underdog face champion is left. Now, you add in the presence of Triple H still sore at being humiliated at the grandest stage of them all cut’s a deal with the devil to get rid of Bryan. Presumably Bryan will take out Batista and probably another heel leading up to SummerSlam, so Triple H goes to Heyman enlisting the beast to kill the champ.

To me, that’s an excuse to print money right there. With the right build, it could top the attendance number for SummerSlam 2011. As for new, this only remains a pipe dream for now and it’s what best for business.

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. After every article, Robert usually does “Talking Points” on twitter, bringin up points that didn’t make the article.

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WrestleMania XXVIII: A Portrait in Wrestling History

April 04, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

WRESTLEMANIA XXVIII
From SunLife Stadium in Miami, FL
April 1, 2012

BACKGROUND
It’s been purported that each WrestleMania event is generally planned a year in advance, and the booking is written backwards to support what they want to present on the grandest stage. While recent WrestleManias seem a bit more thrown-together at times, owing to an increasingly frenetic Vince McMahon being known to make constant changes, WrestleMania XXVIII was an event where a year-long plot was used, this time as an actual storyline.

One night after WrestleMania XXVII in Atlanta, John Cena called out The Rock. Rather than thrash the previous night’s guest host for costing him his World Title match against The Miz, a calm and happy-go-lucky Cena simply challenged Rock to a match at next year’s big event, giving both men one year to prepare for the clash of the ages.

The idea was unique for a modern time frame in which that $45 secondary PPV that you’re being offered has but two matches booked sixteen days before the event. It’s a little hard to get up for those shows (and buyrates seem to agree), but a WrestleMania where the main event is entrenched in everyone’s brains for 363 days?

Those “in-the-know” fans who balked at WWE’s most overexposed star, and most overexposed part-timer, getting a full calendar of non-stop billing would be rewarded by the successes of their heroes.

WWE was becoming a different place, as CM Punk and Daniel Bryan, who’d each passed through Philadelphia’s Murphy Rec Center on the way to the top, won the WWE and World Heavyweight Championships in 2011.

In spite of all of the social media blitzes, irksome moments from Michael Cole, and use of gimmickless FCW/NXT castoffs, it seemed WWE was crafting a WrestleMania unique among the pack. Between a year-long main event build, and two “workrate” champions, the everyday mold was finally being broken.

THE EVENT
Cena and Rock crossed paths prior to the WrestleMania main event, as Rock’s movie schedule allowed him to wrestle at Survivor Series 2011. That night at Madison Square Garden, he and Cena formed a super-team that annihilated The Miz and R-Truth. Afterward, Rock dropped Cena with a Rock Bottom as a reminder that, in four months, they’d each engage in a defining match in their careers.

After Cena was sidetracked by a hard-boiled feud with Kane through early 2012, he and Rock criss-crossed on the remaining road to WrestleMania, insulting each other in their typical juvenille fashion. Rock would host one of his trademark “Rock Concerts” laden with entendres and jibes toward the current company flagbearer, while Cena reinstituted his “Doctor of Thuganomics” persona, ripping into Rock with some lines that would make the kid-friendly sponsors cringe.

The match was even given a TV special on USA Network to promote the history of the icons, giving this match, dubbed “Once in a Lifetime”, a super fight feeling like no other in recent memory.

As if the dream match wasn’t enough to churn buyrates, the “end of an era” was also promised. The Undertaker, 19-0 at WrestleMania, wasn’t happy with how he barely eked the win out over Triple H one year earlier, and demanded a rematch with COO of the company.

Hunter initially balked, but The Dead Man persisted, eventually goading the man technically his boss into a fight. The Game agreed on one condition: that it be a Hell in a Cell match. Shawn Michaels, who’d had his career ended by Undertaker, was made guest referee as one last twist of the screw.

Sheamus was the winner of the 2012 Royal Rumble, last ousting a quizzically-acting Chris Jericho. The Celtic Warrior waited three weeks before deciding which championship to challenge for, ultimately deciding on the World Heavyweight title held by an increasingly-self-indulgent Daniel Bryan.

Bryan was an anomaly, winning the title as an underdog hero on December 18 via briefcase cash-in, but slowly took on a portrayal as an egomaniac jerk. Not only did he ignore the affection of girlfriend AJ Lee, but Bryan began to praise himself more and more for minor victories, many of them tainted. He even allowed AJ to be injured by a stampeding Big Show, all just to keep his title.

As for the WWE Championship, anti-hero CM Punk would face the winner of a ten man battle royal that took place on February 20. Jericho would win, and thus be afforded a chance to continue his vague “end of the world” crusade via the company’s top champion.

Jericho first began the mind games with Punk by claiming the “Straight Edge Superstar” had stolen his “Best in the World” moniker, which Punk gladly challenged Jericho to try and take back. With the champ not fazed, Y2J resorted to revealing the ugly family history of Punk, complete with the addictions his family members all once had. Jericho promised to lead Punk down the road of self-destruction en route to taking his title.

Michael Cole and Jerry Lawler were the evening’s commentators, joined by a now-goateed Jim Ross for the Hell in a Cell match. For the third time, Lilian Garcia performed America the Beautiful. The Hall of Fame Class of 2012 consisted of Edge, The Four Horsemen (dual induction for Ric Flair), Ron Simmons, Yokozuna, Mil Mascaras, and celebrity inductee Mike Tyson.

THE RESULTS
World Heavyweight Championship: Sheamus def. Daniel Bryan in 18 seconds to win the title
(And we stumble out of the gate. Boy the fans at SunLife dumped on them for this decision. I’ve said it in other mediums: it’s not the treatment of Bryan that made this moment suck; it was the belief by the company that Sheamus was going to look stronger as a result. The people who run WWE couldn’t find the pulse of the fans if they had a GPS)

Kane def. Randy Orton in 10:56
(I don’t know who this “Daniel Bryan” fellow is, but he sure got a lot of chants during this match. Decent contest that ended with a flying chokeslam)

WWE Intercontinental: Big Show def. Cody Rhodes in 5:18 to win the title
(The build was entertaining, with Rhodes showing film of Show’s WrestleMania embarrassments to psyche him out, but the match was all too brief. Rhodes actually reigned as champion for eight months)

Maria Menounos/Kelly Kelly def. Eve Torres/Beth Phoenix in 6:49
(All of these women are gone from WWE, which is a commentary on how women would rather do “something else” than work there. But I’d take a stinkface from Miss Menounos, at least)

Hell in a Cell/”End of an Era”: The Undertaker def. Triple H in 30:50
(Opinions of this one are a little divided. Some call this the greatest match in the history of the galaxy. Others think it was stupid to have Triple H assault Undertaker with basic moves, and have Michaels nearly “stop the match” because Taker couldn’t continue. Because Hunter’s so bad ass. Eh, 20-0 is 20-0, even if was slower and more plodding than Heaven’s Gate)

David Otunga/Mark Henry/The Miz/Dolph Ziggler/Jack Swagger/Drew McIntyre def. Kofi Kingston/Santino Marella/Great Khali/R-Truth/Zack Ryder/Booker T in 10:38
(As a result of this, John Laurinaitis won complete control of Raw and Smackdown from Teddy Long. Oh, and Zack Ryder looked like a useless tool. That’ll learn em)

WWE Championship: CM Punk def. Chris Jericho in 22:21
(A highly physical and intense battle that took some time to find second gear, I still found it to be the best match of the night. The battle at the end over the Anaconda Vise, with Punk refusing to give up on the hold, despite Jericho’s vicious struggle, was a nice touch)

“Once in a Lifetime”: The Rock def. John Cena in 33:34
(Nice throwback to the big-time WrestleMania main events of old, even if it was preceded by a six hour concert featuring Flo Rida and anorexic Shannon Moore. Cena’s undoing came as he tried a People’s Elbow, only to be Rock Bottom’d. Some said it was boring, but I actually liked it. Whether Rock has the endurance for another 30 minute match is another story)

ITS PLACE IN HISTORY
It’s hard to argue with 1.22 million buys, a WWE record, so some would say that a year-long build is the way to go. Rock would remain a part of WWE in a limited capacity, sticking around to challenge for the WWE Title at the 2013 Royal Rumble, but we’ll get to that next year.

The show began disastrously, and the fans largely didn’t come out of their anger-induced coma until the Hell in a Cell match. As many people who remember that match, and Rock and Cena’s epic showdown, equally remember how the show opened with the misstep of Sheamus and Bryan, possibly the worst WrestleMania booking since Hogan went over a tired Yokozuna at WrestleMania IX.

It wasn’t a terrible show, but it wasn’t a home run in any way except financially (undoubtedly important, despite our gripes). For the official “portrait” of the show, my pick will be a split screen. On one side is Shawn Michaels and Undertaker holding up a semi-conscious Triple H on the stage, while The Rock stands tall on the other side. WWE more than ever lives off of the past, as it can’t create an exciting present. Logically, their imagery should make you think you’re in 1998.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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Top Five Worst WrestleMania Moments

April 04, 2014 By: Category: lists, WWE | Pro Wrestling

Hello loyal readers and welcome back for yet another WrestleMania countdown article. Yes, spring is in the air, the snow has melted away, birds are singing, and the internet is full of articles counting down every kind of WrestleMania list imaginable. Best matches, worst matches, top moments, etc. Well, never being one to miss getting on the bandwagon, I have compiled my own list.

Every year there are those special matches that you just can’t wait to see at WrestleMania. Maybe it’s the culmination of a feud that has been simmering for months or maybe a long gone star has returned to the spotlight. Of maybe there is even a historic first ever clash between two icons of the sport. Whatever the situation, there is always immense hype surrounding the biggest event of the year. But sometimes the moment doesn’t quite live up to the hype. Sometimes the wrestlers can’t deliver on the expectations of the fans. Here are the top five worst WrestleMania moments that had a lot of potential, but for one reason or another missed the mark, in my opinion.

5 -WrestleMania XXVI – Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon

This was it. The moment wrestling fans had waited over ten years to see. Bret Hart back in a WWE ring. And not only in the ring, but taking on the man that had basically ruined his life. Bret would finally make Vince pay for the “Montreal Screw Job”. Any even though Bret did get the win, it somehow felt empty to me. It just didn’t feel like McMahon suffered enough for all the pain he caused Bret.

And there was also this little devil in my ear wondering if Vince would have the stones to screw Bret again. Even though everyone wanted to see Bret come out on top, a small part of me was hoping for some kind of double cross again. Now that would have been a moment.

4 -WrestleMania XXV – Triple H vs. Randy Orton

I know what you’re thinking, “Who was looking forward to this match”. Well even though these two have fought about 100 times over the years now, this match actually had some decent build up to it. In the months leading up to the match, Orton had attacked both Vince and Shane McMahon, Triple H’s father-in-law and brother-in-law. While that alone wasn’t enough to generate enough heat, when he RKO’d Hunter’s wife Stephanie and then kissed her in the ring, which sent “The Game” over the edge. This was a personal feud along the lines of Savage & Flair at WM VIII. But the crowd had seen this match up too many times before. And following an epic battle between HBK vs. The Undertaker, this match never stood a chance. This just ended up being another routine match for these two, and a lost opportunity for us.

3 – WrestleMania X – Yokozuna vs. Lex Luger / Yokuzuna vs. Bret Hart

This had so many possibilities to it. The unstoppable champion Yokozuna against Lex Luger, with the winner to face the former champion Bret Hart. Back when there was only one World title, a double main event title match was huge. Throw in the match up of Bret having to face Owen also and this had the chance to be really special. The night started off great with a true classic between the Hart brothers. Then Luger finally gets another chance at the title, against the monster he body slammed ten months before. The set up was there for a stirring win and then a battle between the two men who eliminated each other together at the Royal Rumble. Instead we get a screw job finish by Mr. Perfect that was intended to start a feud that never happened. The match between Yokozuna and Hart was okay, the image of Bret celebrating and Owen fuming is classic. But since this was such a unique scenario, a DQ win for Yokozuna over Luger didn’t ring true for me.

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2 – WrestleMania IV – WWF Title Tournament

Talk about wasted potential. One year after the epic WM III main event, the WWF needed to up the ante. What better than a tournament to crown a new champion where anything could happen. And it did, just not in a good way. Rick Rude and Jake Roberts boring the fans for 15 minutes and ending in a time limit draw. The long awaited rematch between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant ends in a double DQ. The One Man Gang gets a bye to the semi-finals. What kind of tournament is this? The 1995 King of the Ring bookers must have watched this tape the night before the show (Mabel vs. Savio Vega in the finals…UGH). The end result, with Macho Man winning against Ted Dibiase was a nice touch. But the ends couldn’t justify the means in this case.

1 – WrestleMania XX – Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar

Talk about an all time stinker. Here was a matchup of two monsters that turned out to be a matchup of two kittens. Say what you will about Goldberg, but I found him damn entertaining in WCW. I loved that he would just come to the ring and steamroll people. And even though he looked like Stone Cold I never considered him a rip-off because there styles were so different. And Brock Lesnar could actually wrestle in addition to being a total beast. Unfortunately for both men, word leaked out that this was the last match for both in the WWE. The crowd was against them from the start.

Throw in the fact that neither was all that interested in getting hurt in their final match and this turned into a glorified pillow fight. The two could have done some epic damage to each other but instead wound up getting booed out of the arena. The only saving grace was the presence of Austin as the referee. But not even Stone Cold could save this all time turkey.

So there you have it. Do you have any WrestleMania moments that didn’t quite meet your expectations? Or maybe you feel I missed the mark on one of my selections? Leave me a comment; I would love to know what you think.

Vince DeHoratus lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two kids. He has been a life long wrestling fan and he has passed that love onto his son. Though not quite yet “middle aged and crazy”, he is fast approaching it.

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WrestleMania 30: The Undertaker Will Win the Battle, Paul Heyman Will Win The War

April 03, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

There are a few things you can count on come Sunday at WrestleMania 30 in New Orleans.

There will be a few surprises. Tamina will win WWE Divas gold and Paul Heyman will walk out of the “The Crescent City having been the highlight of the battle between he WWE’s longest tenured wrestler and the man they call “The Beast.” While this may be the biggest chance that Undertaker finally sees his record of 21-0 far, it still won’t be enough to unseat The Dead Man.

And after last year’s performance, the verbal assault by both Heyman and CM Punk, you thought Taker couldn’t walk out of New Jersey under his own power. So much is at stake in this match, that you cannot help but think the Streak ends in the cultured south.

You can guess again.

When it comes to “The Streak” and ‘Taker and his confrontation with Lesnar, like I have said in other posts, the wrestling will live up to its billing because both men will push each other to the limit and then some. You figure Heyman is somehow involved in the match and you also figure the verbal confrontation and the in ring confrontation has been built properly like a master plan. While CM Punk came within an eyelash of winning the match last year, both wrestlers will sell this like it was the greatest battle of all time.

But when all is said and done, Heyman will still have the last laugh and here is why.

Heyman is the central piece in this puzzle. Each of the wrestlers involved – ‘Taker and Lesnar – are part-timers, they come and go like the wind. The poor booking by the WWE of Lesnar makes it hard to get behind a player like this – face or heel – because we all know he has a short shelf life.

Undertaker is a little different in that he us a character with defies time. Fans know his pace, his schedule and when to expect him. They know he comes in on the red eye and leaves before the end of the school year. His booking is not an issue because he does a few spots, puts wrestlers over then leaves for higher ground to heal.

Until we see him again.

The Internet, the IWC and all the top wrestling writers have been teasing this confrontation for months. WE first thought it would be John Cena. Then Roman Reigns’ name popped up. I have been pulling for Kane in one final match. But this all makes too much sense to allow the fans into a crazy sense that yes, the Streak could come crashing down because of Lesnar’s size and ability.

And yes, we have all been fooled before. In this case, size matters because it has been a long time since Undertaker has met someone with the size alone to stand toe to toe with him. Lesnar towers over almost everyone in the WWE with a few exceptions. Same holds true for ‘Taker.

Vince McMahon loves with big men beat the hell out of each other. On Sunday, that is what is going to happen. Undertaker will win his match. Heyman will win the verbal confrontation, and move on.

Disclaimer: For the next 30 days, this will be an ongoing series of stories as we move down the Road to WrestleMania. Follow Camel Clutch Blog writer/blogger David M. Levin as he talks about the history, the pageantry and the success and failures of the past when it comes to wrestling’s biggest events. The views of the writer are not necessarily the views of Camel Clutch Blog, and this series is intended to ramp up the excitement that is associated with WrestleMania XXX and the Crescent City of New Orleans. Please enjoy this new feature and any comments are most welcome.

Follow David on Twitter @davidlevin71

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WrestleMania XX: Hey, Who Ripped Out The Ending?

March 27, 2014 By: Category: WWE | Pro Wrestling

-80% done. Abso-sanely incredible. Now I know how my boss Eric Gargiulo felt when he came over to Ellis Island ninety-three years ago with nothing but three dollars in his pocket and the dreams of calling matches involving fluorescent lighting tubes. Like my good friend Eric, I can see the Island. I’m not quite there, but I’m close.

-And it’s apropos that I bring up a New York landmark, as the huddled masses of the WWE roster rolled into Madison Square Garden in New York City on March 14, 2004, which was the earliest WrestleMania to date. With 12 matches stretched over a five hour (yes, you read it right) time slot, there’s little doubt that Vince McMahon wanted this event to be completely and utterly memorable. Would it live up to the high expectations?

-Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are providing commentary for Raw again, with Michael Cole and Tazz doing Smackdown. When there’s an inter-brand match, one team is chosen arbitrarily. In a sport where every match has a number one contendership on the line, they just hand over duties to one side without reason? Sounds fishy, and I have no idea why.

-Harlem Boys Choir kick things off and no worries, I already made my Pat Patterson joke in the last rant. I’m good for a few shows.

-The show kicks off with Big Show defending the US Title against…..John Cena. Yep, Cena opens a PPV, it happened. Cena was still a coarse rhyme-smith at this stage, wearing throwback jerseys to the ring (in this case, Patrick Ewing, though Cena has far more World Titles). Here’s an interesting theorem for you to digest: when a wrestler wears clothing that depicts a real life aspect of pop culture (Headbangers with Marilyn Manson, New Age Outlaws with South Park, John Cena with sports throwbacks), they become a cult favorite. When they eschew the attire in order to wear WWE-licensed shirts with their own logo and pictures and such, then they stop being cool. Reason one why everyone over age 20 turned on Cena.

-Show was bordering on useless at this point. Moreso than usual. Alright, it’s indistinguishable, you got me.

-Show dominates with his hoss-fense, and the crowd chants “Let’s Go Cena”. In New York City? If you played this tape at an ROH convention or at some smark rally in some loser’s basement, they’ll probably claim you doctored the tape.

-Cena manages to land an FU, but Show kicks out. Cena teases the Ultimate Warrior “my hands are telling me that my destiny is to lose” deal, but then realizes that he’s not going to job to frigging BIG SHOW. So he belts the monster with his faux “Word Life” knux and lands a second FU to win his first piece of WWE gold. Not a good match, but it got the crowd going. Nothing wrong with being the rah-rah guy on a five hour show. If this were curling, Cena would have pushed the stone.

-Backstage, we find three men. One of them is the Raw GM, and the other two are his two toadies. Nowadays, respectively, they are TNA’s on-air authority, an ESPNews employee, and an upper carder on Smackdown. So Jonathan Coachman’s better off than Eric Bischoff and John Morrison? I need to go soak my brain in some lemon juice.

-Meanwhile, Randy Orton has a monologue on the staircase where he kicked Mick Foley around on nine months prior, while flanked by Batista and Ric Flair. Man, if you asked me in 2004, I would have said Flair was way cooler than the other two OVW slimes. Now? He’s a distant third.

-Next we have an excuse to give eight men a payday: Rob Van Dam and Booker T will defend Raw’s Tag Team Titles against The Dudley Boyz, La Resistance (consisting of Maritimer Rene Dupree and American Rob Conway), and The Utah Jazz (Lance Cade and Mark Jindrak). If Cade and Jindrak were any whiter, Sheamus could get a gig at the Apollo just by standing next to them. “Vat eez the deal with midcarders getting titles too early? I mean, ree-lee?”.

-When you’re in a match with eight men that’s being rushed, get your moves in now. Bubba with the Dusty Rhodes elbow. Booker with the side kick. RVD with the spin kick. Dudleyz land 3D. Cade gets the….umm….did Cade even have a move? There’s nothing besides the paint-by-numbers heavyweight offense that they taught him in OVW? God, what does WWE see in him?

-To speed things along, Van Dam flattens Conway with the Five Star to keep the titles with RVD and Book. Why did Conway have to job? He actually had a personality and ability. Well, I guess they had to keep Jindrak strong for his career apex of playing Kurt Angle’s personal Stormtrooper. Match was decent.

-Backstage, Bobby Heenan and Gene Okerlund are found necking with Mae Young and Fabulous Moolah. Jonathan Coachman is horrified. He’s horrified because he forgot to ask Heenan “What am I doing wrong as a heel commentator?”. It’s just as well, since Heenan would have either said “everything” or “who the hell are you, Pez Whatley’s kid?”

-Video package to hype the Chris Jericho-Christian-Trish Stratus love triangle. Sadly, no clip of Christian telling Jericho “This is not the OC!”. If it was, Trish would need to stop eating altogether. Well, someone’s gotta play the Mischa Barton role.

-Finally acting in character for a change, Jericho just tackles Christian and hammers away. I dunno, Jericho sweating over a woman and losing his mind over her just doesn’t feel right. How can you explain this side of Jericho and his current outlook? Did Trish’s rejection turn him into a robot with abject disillusionment with the world? Makes sense to me.

-Jericho alternates between out wrestling Christian and beating the crap out of him, and Christian turns the tide with a thumb to the eye. As dumb as this storyline was in terms of two thirty year old, known-to-be-married men fighting over a starlet co-worker, at least the match is good. Kinda hard to fault these two.

-After spending a good chunk of the match reversing, countering, and answering back with moves, Christian locks Jericho in the Texas cloverleaf. Or is it the Ontario Maple leaf? That’s what RVD’s missing: the San Bernardino Hemp leaf! He can have that one for free.

-A superplex spot is blown when Christian slips, but they make up for it and do it anyway. You know, if Kevin Nash did that, two things: one is he’d be crucified for blowing the spot and, two, we’d be in disbelief that he broke his usual arsenal for one match. Let’s just move on.

-Jericho gets the Walls, but Christian nabs the ropes to escape. Trish comes bouncing out (literally) and Christian brings her in the hard way. An inadvertent elbow knocks Jericho into a Christian roll-up, giving Edge’s little brother the win. Afterward, Trish turns on Jericho with a hard smack, and Christian hits the Unprettier to give birth to “Trishtian”. Cheer up, Jericho. If you had won Trish’s heart, how would you have explained it to Jessica? Damn good match.

-The Rock gives a whacked out promo backstage to set up the greatest handicap match of all time: Rock and Mick Foley against Ric Flair, Randy Orton, and Batista. We used to argue whether Batista or Orton was the most useless guy in the match. We ain’t too bright, is we?

-Rock stealing the Flair strut = awesome.

-Match starts with a flurry, with Rock taking Flair down on the floor with a backdrop and Foley coming off with the big elbow. Crowd is in a frenzy early.

-Foley gets Orton in the ring to continue their issue, and Orton bails like a coward. Foley hammers him into the table and brings him back in for more punishment. Here’s the good thing about Mick: he sells for anyone and will put any kid over, with no politics. Except for burying Test in his book, which I still think is funny.

-Speaking of putting people over, here’s Rock to sell for Batista and Orton. I wish I had known this was his final match. I woulda painted my eyebrow on and worn my elbow pad and….well, not really, you see, I was umm….back to the match at hand here.

-Foley plays face in peril while Batista and Orton water their own learning trees with this opportunity. Within weeks, Batista and Orton would be having great tag team matches with the likes of Benoit, Edge, Benjamin, Michaels, and others. You’re seeing it now in WWE with guys like Rhodes, Dibiase, Ziggler, Kingston, and Miz all getting better through osmosis with the older names. Hey, TNA: if you use the older guys to bring the young kids up, you can weed out the has-beens and live on the kids’ newfound reputations. That’s why Batista and Orton crush Flair and Foley in the ratings. MAKE A NOTE OF THIS!

-Rock gets the hot tag and cleans house on everyone. Batista halts the rush with a spinebuster and Flair tries the Senior’s Elbow, but Rock puts an end to it. After cleaning house again, Rock lands his own People’s Elbow on Flair. Great fun.

-Orton gets tagged in and runs right into Rock Bottom. In all the confusion, Batista drops The Great One with the Batista Bomb. After Rock barely kicks out, he tags in Foley, who cleans house himself. However, after he prepares Mr. Socko, he walks into the RKO to give Orton the biggest pinfall win of his career to that point. Whew, insanely fun match with a murderer’s row of main eventers and champions. Rock consoles Mick afterward, and Mick consoles him for having to have such a crappy goatee in that equally crappy Be Cool flick. Thanks for the aweome career, Rock. Have fun with that Disney money.

-Hall of Fame recap is next, a year that saw Bobby Heenan, Tito Santana, Big John Studd, Harley Race, Pete Rose, Don Muraco, Greg Valentine, Junkyard Dog, Superstar Billy Graham, Sgt. Slaughter, and Jesse Ventura all get inducted. Say what you will about Pete Rose, but he took a stinkface from Rikishi. That alone warrants induction, I think.

-Next up, Sable and Torrie Wilson face Stacy Keibler and Miss Jackie in an evening gown match. All the participants remove their gowns to start, but Miss Jackie is stand-offish. So she can make out with some loser on Tough Enough in a hot tub, but this is too much? Interesting.

-Cole on commentary says Tazz stabbed him with his pencil, and Tazz assures him that it wasn’t his pencil. Well then.

-Torrie pins Jackie and spanks her during the roll-up. I’d have included more content, but I write enough erotic letters to Hustler each week, and this would only detract from my usual quality. So rent the DVD, pervos.

-Meanwhile, Eddie Guerrero tries to motivate Chris Benoit by using reverse psychology. Show of hands?
Who else thought of a REALLY snappy punchline to that, but felt sick for even thinking it? I did, too.

-For more filler featuring some lesser-seen talents, we move onto the Cruiserweight open, which is a ten man gauntlet with the Cruiserweight Title on the line. The order of elimination goes like so:

-Shannon Moore jobs to Ultimo Dragon, who slipped during his entrance. Being the first one gone in this match must make you feel like Marsellus Wallace when he got picked by Zed during eeny meeny miney mo. Even the odds hate you.

-Jamie Noble comes in and dominates….some midcarders. He makes Dragon tap, and then pins Funaki in negative nanoseconds, then beats his forgotten cousin Nunzio by count out. It’s this spark and sass that made Noble a dominant ROH Champion for about seven hours.

-Then Billy Kidman hits the ring and dispatches Noble. Then Kidman jobs to Rey Mysterio, who’s dressed as The Flash. Kidman’s The Flash also, except his last name is “in the Pan”.

-Akio is unable to participate due to being blinded by Tajiri, and Rey pins Tajiri to bring it down to him and champion Chavo Guerrero. After some chicanery involving Chavo’s dad, Chavo “FREAKING AWESOME” Classic, Chavito retains the gold. Man, I miss Chavo Classic. He did a good job hosting Raw recently with Tommy Chong, however.

-Brock Lesnar-Bill Goldberg video to hype their epic match. Hey kids, when I say “epic”, you say…..yep, that’s right!

-Stone Cold Steve Austin and his over sized four wheeler of fun are the guest enforcers. He gets the biggest cheer of the three people involved in this match. Of course, that’s like saying that Capt. Sully Sullenberger won a popularity contest over Herpes and The Syph. Are you really surprised?

-Now, I could thoroughly recap this match, or I can tell you a joke I made up. You like jokes, right? Of course you do.

-Two muscle heads walk into a bar. They each order a bottle of “Over-With-The-Crowd Lager”. The bartender informs them that he can’t serve them this beverage because they don’t plan to come back to said bar, and it’s only for long-term commitment patrons. So the two muscle heads say “Fine, we’ll just occupy space for 15 minutes and do nothing!”. So the muscle heads proceed to do just that until the 20,000 patrons of the bar scream obscenities at them, which doesn’t faze them. Finally, a bald man runs in and beats up both guys himself. The other patrons roared mightily. Then the bald guy beat up a woman at random and the patrons still cheered. One patron sat stunned and muttered “Why would they cheer a wife beater over two men who don’t wish to be regular patrons anymore?”. And then Justin said “You must not be a wrestling fan!”.

-Bad as the joke was, it was still better than the match. Goldberg wins with a Jackhammer and Austin beats both guys up. I’d add more, but the match already damaged my brain. Let’s not let it hurt my fingers too.

-Vince is here to thank the fans. For sitting through that last match? Yeah, you better thank them.

-I have about 1600 words left before I get to my personal space limit, so rather than waste time with the next pointless match, let’s get it over with: Rikishi and Scotty 2 Hotty retain the WWE Tag Team Titles over the APA, The Bashams, and The World’s Greatest Tag Team. Real quick, a note to Rikishi: when you’re going to give a man a stinkface and you have to arch your stomach out before doing it, because you’ve gotten so fat that to merely stand in front of him would mean that your ass would already be in his face, then it’s time to lose weight. Nothing match.

-Next up, Jesse Ventura comes out to ask Donald Trump to help him with his 2008 Presidential campaign. Well, Jesse almost got as many votes as Dennis Kucinich, so he’s clearly on the right track.

-Following that spirited jaunt, we come to a Title vs. Hair match, as Victoria defends her WWE Women’s Title against Molly Holly, who’s putting her hair on the line. Do you think George Steele and A-Train could done a back hair vs. back hair match on PPV and drawn? Me either.

-The match is technically fine, but it’s a five hour show and everyone’s just waiting for the main events, because they want to see Guerrero put Angle down, Undertaker come back, and Benoit do what he does best and that’s not disappoint. Wait….

-Victoria wins it with a backslide, and Molly tries to be a truant, but she eventually gets strapped into the chair, and Victoria shaves away with a satisfied and exhausted grin. I found this hot, I don’t know about any of you. Feel free to dislike me for it.

-Guerrero-Angle recap video to hype the WWE Title match. The only thing that could have made Eddie’s celebration at No Way Out better was if his brother Hector was in the crowd dressed as the Gobbeldy Gooker. You know that would have ruled more than anything else.

-Crowd finally comes to life during a chain wrestling sequence, as MSG has always appreciated good technical wrestling. They even do the ROH/TNA chant of “LET’S GO ANGLE/ANGLE SUCKS”, which I find amusing. It’s like an act of rebellion from the smarks: “We cheer the heel AND the face! What are YOU gonna do about it?”. And the booker says “I dunno, get laid after the show?”. The smarks then narrow their eyes and say “….you win this time.”

-After Angle counters the Three Amigos (Two Amigos in current WWE acknowledgment canon) with a German, he gets the uber-creepy German attempt on the apron that looks like something out of day three of Pat Patterson’s fundamen—alright, there’s the requisite Patterson joke. Happy now?

-After Guerrero wipes out on a plancha, Angle brings him back in for a pain session to slow things down. Good, frenetic match so far, as neither man could really have a bad match. Crowd’s warming to Eddie, who really defied the odds to become a main eventer. Hey Vince, when Guerrero does it, it’s defying the odds. When Cena does it, it’s a marketing machine clearly standing behind him. I like Cena, but let’s be realistic here.

-A fast paced sequence ends with Angle trying for the Angle Slam, but Guerrero coming out of it with an armdrag. I’m enjoying myself.

-Another Three Amigos attempt is countered on numero tres into an Ankle Lock. Guerrero fights, not wanting to give up and the fans are really awake now, identifying with the champion’s struggle. Guerrero finally kicks him away.

-After falling victim to Angle’s super belly to belly throw, Angle latches on a second ankle lock, but Guerrero cradles him for two. After countering an Angle Slam into a DDT, Guerrero lands the Frog Splash, but Angle gets the shoulder up for two. Crazy great stuff, and the fans are behind Guerrero 100%.

-As Guerrero is in disbelief, Angle tries for a third ankle lock, but Guerrero kicks him off to the floor. Guerrero unties the boot on the injured ankle, and Angle goes back in for it. With the lock applied again, Guerrero kicks off and Angle’s left holding the boot. A surprised Angle is then cradled to give Guerrero the win to retain. Great, great match. My brother had no idea why Guerrero untied his boot (to slip out of the ankle lock easier) and Michael Cole explained it perfectly. So, yeah, Cole is smarter than my brother. I don’t think Josh ever recovered.

-Undertaker-Kane highlight package. You know how it goes: boy kills brother under a ton of dirt….and that’s about all.

-Kane comes out first with a nice entrance bit where the NYC set behind him “catches fire”. The lights then go out and we hear the voice of Paul Bearer, as he leads the Druids to the ring, which leads to classic Undertaker’s entrance. Undertaker was basically still Bikertaker, except with a new hat and his old mannerisms. But still, the MSG fans are thrilled, as was my viewing party. Nothing like the Dead Man gimmick to speak to your inner child.

-What follows is the typical Taker-Kane match, with Undertaker re-establishing all of his old tricks that made him The Dead Man in the first place. I was happy because I was so tired of that annoying Southern drawl that made Taker look like an out-of-shape hybrid of Mark McGwire and Sam Elliott. He should be a zombie forever, even when he’s 70, and will then be 42-0 at WrestleMania. Fine by me.

-Undertaker sits up from a Kane choke slam, and then reciprocates it. He then follows with the Tombstone for the relatively quick win. Not a good match, but it was a fun moment to enhance the show’s appeal. You just need these moments sometimes.

-And now, the match I’d waited years for. I wasn’t alone. And now, what was once a proud cult who relished this match, it’s become a dwindling minority. Triple H defends the World Heavyweight Title against Shawn Michaels and, yes, Chris Benoit. Let’s see if my feelings change watching it.

-Hey Hunter, nice white boots. Nobody can pull of the “He-Man goes Go-Go Dancing” look like you.

-Benoit and Shawn attack Hunter from the outset, but take time to beat each other down as well. Benoit tries a Crossface, but Shawn blocks. Benoit could have won right there in under a minute, and I would have been fine with it.

-This entire opening sequence is so well choreographed, as they take turns doing one on one bits, and nobody “plays dead” for so long that it seems contrived. A testament to all three men’s abilities.

-Shawn takes down both Benoit and HHH on the floor, and then heads up top to land a moonsault onto both men. Shawn was 38 here and still doing dives like that? Hey, if he’s not going to win the match, he’s going to steal the show for himself. And there’s nothing wrong with that.

-Triple H spends the next portion of the match in control, dominating both men until Benoit comes to life and drills him with a clothesline. He gets the rolling Germans, but tries for the diving headbutt and Shawn crotches him up top. Shawn tries SCM on Hunter, but eats a DDT. I think my stomach lining was like Swiss cheese at this point.

-HHH tries the Pedigree on Benoit, but Chris counters with the Crossface, which Shawn stops. Crowd doesn’t like that. Is it blasphemous to boo Shawn?

-Rolling Germans and diving headbutt for Shawn, but Benoit gets knocked outside. Shawn hits the SCM on Hunter, but Benoit pulls the champ to ringside to keep the match alive. I couldn’t take much more of this.

-Shawn opens up a MASSIVE cut after being sling shotted into the post. If Shawn’s wrists ever bleed simultaneously, he’ll have won me over. No more Jesus jokes then.

-The big turning point comes on the floor when Shawn and Hunter team up to double suplex Benoit through a commentary table. The idea was that this was to have finished Benoit as Shawn and HHH settled their feud.

-Back inside, Shawn does manage to bust Hunter open, but HHH lands the Pedigree out of thin air. My heart was sinking until Benoit slid in and broke the pin up. Whew.

-Benoit manages to counter the Pedigree into the Sharpshooter, and the place comes unglued. Hunter almost taps, but Shawn lands Sweet Chin Music at the last moment. He can only get 2, however. A second attempt sees Benoit backdrop a horribly bloodied Shawn all the way into the aisle. YAY!

-But Hunter lurked behind Benoit, and my heart fully sank. He tried the Pedigree, but Benoit snatched the Crossface to a huge pop. With no one to save HHH, he futily tried to roll Benoit over, but The Crippler held on. Finally, Hunter tapped to finally give Benoit a World Title and cause a smarkgasm the likes of which have never been seen. Guerrero comes out to celebrate and both men tearfully parade in confetti as JR gives a great sendoff. A tremendous match, circumstances aside, and still an all time favorite of mine.

-Drowning Pool’s “Step Up” plays off the show with highlights. Underrated Mania theme.

-CYNIC SAYS: Five hours flies by when you take two days to do the show in parts. I know I glossed over a lot of stuff, but that’s because they stretched things out to get about 50 people involved in matches. Four of them are great (both World Title matches, Rock and Sock vs. Evolution, Christian/Jericho) and there was enough fun moments otherwise (Taker’s return, Cena’s win, lingerie, the Hall of Famers, Lesnar/Goldberg’s crapfest) to make the entire show worthwhile.

If you can get past the controversy behind the main event, then this is a damn fine anthology that defined this era of WWE. I highly recommend watching all five hours, even the slow parts.

Justin Henry has been an occasional contributor to Camel Clutch Blog since 2009. His other work can be found at WrestleCrap.com and ColdHardFootballFacts.com. He can be found on Twitter, so give him a follow.

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