Because of the WWE Network, fans can now watch every single WrestleMania from start to finish.
So, for 30 days leading up to WrestleMania XXX, we will take an extensive look back at each event from the very first, to the most recent.
Here's the WrestleManias we've covered so far:
Date: March 14, 2004
Venue: Madison Square Garden, New York, N.Y
United States Championship – John Cena def. Big Show
Fatal Four Way for World Tag Team Championship – Booker T & Rob Van Dam def. Mark Jindrak & Garrison Cade, the Dudleys (Bubba Ray & D-Von) & La Resistance (Renee Dubree & Rob Conway)
Christian def. Chris Jericho w/Trish Stratus
Handicap Match – Evolution (Ric Flair, Randy Orton & Batista) def. The Rock & Mick Foley
Evening Gown Match – Sable & Torrie Wilson def. Stacy Keibler & Miss Jackie
Cruiserweight Open – Chavo Guerrero retained the title
Goldberg def. Brock Lesnar
Fatal Four Way for WWE Tag Team Championship – Scott 2 Hotty & Rikishi def. Basham Brothers (Doug & Danny), World’s Greatest Tag Team (Shelton Benjamin & Charlie Haas & APA (Farooq & Bradshaw)
Women’s Championship – Victoria def. Molly Holly
WWE Championship – Eddie Guerrero def. Kurt Angle
The Undertaker def. Kane (Undertaker: 12-0)
Triple Threat for World Heavyweight Championship – Chris Benoit def. Triple H & Shawn Michaels
- Looking back at this show 10 years after it occurred, the moment between Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit at the end of it the event is interesting to say the least. Let’s try to turn back the hands of time for a little bit and look at that moment when it happened. At the time, it was a touching moment between two men that had spent years beating up and down the roads in the professional wrestling business before finally standing on top of the industry together. Guerrero and Benoit traveled the world together and were very close friends behind the scenes. They had spent time in Japan. They had put on mat classics in Extreme Championship Wrestling. They were also stuck in mid-card purgatory in World Championship Wrestling. Even while in WWE together, they were passed over for main event spots time and time again. That was until this night, when two guys that did more than enough to earn their stripes were the WWE and World Heavyweight Champion respectively. Looking at the moment as it happened, it was emotional because you had felt like you had been there through all of their ups and downs, but obviously from a distance. It was the first time in a long time fans felt truly happy for a performer’s achievement. Even in the world of predetermined outcomes, Benoit winning the World title still felt like a real victory. It wasn’t just about him winning the title. It was finally validation of all of his hard work and dedication in his career to that point. It felt like all of the fans were validated at the same time because we believed he deserved it even when his employers did not. The moment when Earl Hebner placed the belt before Benoit as he is on his knees crying is a moment that is permanently etched into my mind. It was as if Hebner was telling him that the title was finally his., that it was indeed his time. Now, looking at the moment in hindsight brings about a different set of emotions. The moment brings about sad and tragic feelings, as both men are no longer with us for two completely different reasons. Guerrero died of as a result of heart failure in 2005. Although Guerrero had overcome a lot in his life, his rocky past had seemingly caught up to him. Even after Geurrero’s untimely passing, the moment he and Benoit shared at WrestleMania XX was still very special. The moment lost a lot of its luster in June of 2007 when Benoit committed suicide, but not before he murdered his wife and son. The moment will forever be tarnished as the man that soaked in the highest moment of his career in a pile of confetti would go on to commit such an unthinkable act. Because of that unthinkable act, the moment that at the time was so special will essentially never be shown on WWE television again. If you have a subscription to the WWE Network like I do, you can watch it as many times as you want, but the emotions will always be mixed for me.
- On a lighter note, the matches those two men took part in on this night were fantastic. Let’s start with Benoit’s match, which was the first time the main event of WrestleMania was a triple threat match. What could have been cluster of a match turned out to be arguably the greatest triple threat match in the history of wrestling. It was hard-hitting. It had storytelling and it has tons of drama. Shawn Michaels, Chris Benoit and Triple H beat the crap out of each other that night and left it all in the ring. As great as it was, it will never heap the praise it deserves on WWE television because of Benoit’s death.
- One key reason why the main event was so good had nothing to do with the three men in the ring. It was because Jim Ross did a masterful job calling the match. Although Ross’ voice sort of gave out on him on a couple of occasions, he added so much more drama to the match that already existed. Ross has some very memorable sound bites that have become the stuff of .gif legend, but you won’t find too many in this match. Ross told the story and made it seem so dramatic. Ross has called many great matches, but this one has to be high on that list.
- Guerrero defended his WWE Championship against Kurt Angle in a matchup of two fantastic in-ring performers. The two veterans lived up to expectations, but for some reason this match isn’t necessarily mentioned among the best title matches in WrestleMania history. Was it because it didn’t close the show? Is it because there are a lot to choose from? Whatever the reason, the match should be at least in that conversation. The finish was very unique with Guerrero loosening up his boot to lure Angle in for the quick pin. An interesting fact from this match was that Angle lost in the WWE title match at WrestleMania for the second year in a row.
- A match from this show that goes largely forgotten, but was great in its own right was Chris Jericho versus Christian. The angle was kind of hokey with it surrounding Trish Stratus (who turned on Jericho after the match), but it didn’t take away from how good the match was. Will it be mentioned among the all-time greatest WrestleMania contests? No. Should it mentioned in the conversation of hidden gems of WrestleMania’s past? Yes. This and Angle versus Benoit from WrestleMania X-Seven are probably at the top of that particular list.
- Another cool thing about the Jericho-Christian match was that it took place in the state of Jericho’s birth. Although Jericho was raised in Canada, he was born Chris Irvine in the state of New York. That’s because his dad, Ted Irvine, played for the New York Rangers and played his home games at Madison Square Garden, the site of WrestleMania XX.
- A match that didn’t remotely live up to its expectations was Brock Lesnar versus Goldberg. Man, what a missed opportunity this was. Before the match, WWE showed a montage of how the two men got that particular point. The video still gets me excited for the match until this day despite me knowing what followed the video was complete garbage. You had two huge men that were legit tough guys that simply wanted to beat the hell out of each other. Then you add the element of having “Stone Cold” Steve Austin be the special guest referee and you should have had pure gold. Instead, fans got two guys that were on their way out of the company put on a very underwhelming match. What should have been an absolute war turned out to be a mere skirmish, if that. The problem was that everyone knew that Lesnar was leaving the WWE in order to pursue a career with the Minnesota Vikings. Goldberg once played for the Atlanta Falcons, but was ended his professional wrestling on the same night. The fans knew it and crapped on each of them, especially Lesnar. The fans then crapped on the action or lack their of. Making this an absolute war in WWE 2K14 doesn’t make up for this either. It’s still frustrating to see this match just fizzle the way it did despite having all of the ingredients for an explosion. Lesnar left the company didn’t return for another eight years. While he was away, he won a UFC Heavyweight Championship. Goldberg hasn’t returned to the ring since.
- While those two men were leaving the company, The Undertaker made his triumphant return as the old dead man character he debuted in more than a decade prior. This was a welcome return, as it had been a whole five years since he portrayed that character. The match wasn’t spectacular by any stretch. The match The Undertaker and Kane had at WrestleMania XIV had a lot more going for it, but it was nice to see the old Undertaker back in the saddle.
- Another triumphant return was the return of the WWE Hall of Fame, which was brought back after an eight-year hiatus. Say what you want about the validity of the WWE Hall of Fame, it is a great touch to WrestleMania weekend overall and has become one of the hallmarks of the event. WWE has kept the Hall of Fame alive since then and it now boasts more than 100 wrestlers, managers, promoters, announcers and celebrities.
- One of the 2004 inductees, Jesse “The Body” Ventura, was going around saying that he was going to run for president in 2008 and said that it was time for a wrestler in the White House.
- As usual, we have to run through the firsts and lasts of this event. WrestleMania XX was the first time a WrestleMania took place in Madison Square Garden since WrestleMania X and it was the third time overall. WWE had started mini-tradition of staging every 10 WrestleManias at The Garden. That tradition will stop this year for WrestleMania XXX, as it will take place in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome in New Orleans, La. As long as WWE can fill up 70,000-seat stadiums, this may be the last WrestleMania Madison Square Garden hosts for a long time. This marked the first WrestleMania match for John Cena, as he opened the show by winning his first of many singles title in WWE. It was also the first time the United States title was defended at a WrestleMania. It was also the WrestleMania debuts for both Randy Orton and Batista, who were both apart of Evolution. This was the first and only time the WWE held a Cruiserweight Open and it was the first time an evening gown match took place at a WrestleMania. The card could have done without the evening gown match, but I would like to see the Cruiserweight Open concept be reprised, especially for multi-man matches at WrestleMania. This was The Rock’s final wrestling match for seven years in WWE. He didn’t step foot in the ring for WWE again until November of 2011. This was also the Dudleys’ final WrestleMania match, who parted ways with WWE in 2005. It was fitting, as it took place in the hometown of both men.
- Billy Kidman did one of the craziest and most ill-advised shooting star presses I’ve ever seen during the Cruiserweight Open. He did it from the middle of the top rope to the outside of the ring and crashed his skull into Jamie Noble’s. A shooting star press is dangerous enough with stable footing, but it is even more dangerous from the middle of the top rope.