Saturday, February 28, 2015

30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania 21

Because of the WWE Network, fans can now watch every single WrestleMania from start to finish.

30 Days of WrestleMania: Looking back at WrestleMania 21

Kane walks between burning ladders before the six-man ladder match during WrestleMania 21 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 3, 2005. (Chris Carlson/AP)
Kane walks between burning ladders before the six-man ladder match during WrestleMania 21 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 3, 2005. (Chris Carlson/AP)

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:

WM I | WM II | WM III | WM IV | WM V | WM VI | WM VII | WM VIII | WM IX | WM X | WM XI | WM XII | WM 13 | WM XIV | WM XV | WM 2000 | WM X-Seven | WM X-8 | WM XIX | WM XX

WrestleMania 21

Date: April 3, 2005

Venue: STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, Calif.

Attendance: 20,193

Match Results:

Rey Mysterio def. Eddie Guerrero

Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Edge def. Chris Benoit, Shelton Benjamin, Chris Jericho and Kane

The Undertaker def. Randy Orton (Undertaker: 13-0)

Women’s Championship – Trish Stratus def. Christy Hemme w/Lita

Kurt Angle def. Shawn Michaels

Sumo Match – Akebono def. Big Show

WWE Championship – John Cena def. John Bradshaw Layfield

World Heavyweight Championship – Batista def. Triple H

Observations:

- This was a noteworthy WrestleMania for a number of reasons, but chief among them was a changing of the guard within the company. By John Cena and Batista winning their first World titles on the same night, the WWE ushered in a new era with the two of them as the faces of the company. Steve Austin was two years into retirement, The Rock was firmly entrenched into Hollywood and stars such as Triple H, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker weren’t getting any younger. WWE was in need of making some new, fresh faces into stars and it accomplished that on this night. Cena has been the top man in WWE since this night. Batista was a main-event player from this night forward and parlayed that into a budding movie career as well. The WWE also made Randy Orton a bigger star, albeit in a losing effort. In hindsight, there’s only one problem. The WWE hasn’t made a bunch of new stars since this night. Sure, CM Punk and Daniel Bryan are firmly cemented stars, and Bray Wyatt and all three members of The Shield have star potential, but that’s six guys in a matter of nine years and the jury is still out on four of them. Meanwhile, Cena, Orton and even Batista are still headlining shows. Not to mention, Triple H and The Undertaker still do so as well, but on a very light schedule.

- I don’t think anyone could argue that Cena and Batista winning World titles was the right decision, but the matches left a little to be desired. Cena went up against John Bradshaw Layfield for the WWE Championship and the match wasn’t really anything special. It was good, but I believe both men were capable of more. There wasn’t a whole lot of drama in the match and ended a little sooner than I expected. Their rematch at Judgment Day, however, was great. The World Heavyweight Championship match between Batista and Triple H was again good. For whatever reason, the match didn’t quite live up to the main event spot of WrestleMania. Like Cena and JBL, the rematches topped this one, especially the Hell in a Cell match. I’d like to reiterate that I believe both matches were good and the outcomes were for what was best for business. I just believe that they could have been better given that they took place at WrestleMania.

- This was the first time in his 13 appearances that The Undertaker’s WrestleMania undefeated streak became the focal point of a storyline. Randy Orton spent months taking out and disrespecting legends and earned the nickname, the “Legend Killer.” He then went after the biggest legend of them all — The Undertaker. The match was even dubbed “Legend vs. Legend Killer.” The result was the best WrestleMania match The Undertaker had to that point. WWE did a good job of making people believe that Orton could indeed end the streak, and if he did, I don’t think people would have been all that upset. In hindsight, it was clearly the right decision to have the streak live on. The streak has become synonymous with WrestleMania and is the most prestigious title in wrestling, even more prestigious than the WWE Championship. The foundation for all of that was built on this night back in 2005.

- The Undertaker and Randy Orton had a great match, but the best match of the night had to Kurt Angle versus Shawn Michaels. Talk about a dream match. You have two of the very best to ever step foot in the ring and the match easily lived up to its billing. This match had good mat wrestling, some crazy near falls, some crazy reversals and even a little bit of high flying. This was a great match with a great finish and there isn’t too much negative to say about.

- “Rowdy” Piper got to host an edition of Piper’s Pit with “Stone Cold” Steve Austin as his special guest. The two had an entertaining exchange that probably left people wondering what exactly was going to go down between these two. Then, Carlito came out and we all knew what was going to happen to him. After the two legends disposed of Carlito they shared a few beers with each other that seemingly got Piper inebriated enough that he walked right into a stunner from Austin. The segment served its purpose I guess, as it got two legends into interact on the microphone for the first time and it featured and fresh face.

- Lita accompanied Christy Hemme to the ring because she was unable to wrestle due to a serious knee injury. She was originally supposed to face Trish Stratus for the Women’s Championship, but her injury caused WWE to put Hemme in the match, as she was coming off a Divas Search victory and a Playboy cover. Stratus did what she could with Hemme, but the match still suffered due to her lack of experience.

- The theme for this WrestleMania was “WrestleMania Goes Hollywood and WWE, as it usually does, pulled out all of the stops to make sure the event fit the bill. From the movie screen titantron to the marquee that would change before every match, this WrestleMania boasted a pretty cool and unique them and set up.

- Among the firsts for this show that this was the first-ever Money in the Bank Ladder match, the first sumo match and the first time the current Tag Team championship faced each other in a match. The Money in the Bank ladder match eventually became a WrestleMania staple and was soon made into its own pay-per-view, which is currently one of the more anticipated on an annual basis. Big Show took part in the first-ever sumo match at WrestleMania against Akebono. Akebono was a yokozuna in sumo wrestling, which is the highest rank one can achieve in the sport. He was the first non-Japanese-born man to do so. What that meant was the Big Show shouldn’t have stood a chance. The match was worked as most sumo matches don’t last longer than a minute. This one lasted longer and even had a stare down in the middle of it. This was Chris Jericho's final WrestleMania appearance until 2008. Eddie Guerrero’s match against Rey Mysterio was his final WrestleMania appearance before his untimely death later that year. Before his death, Guerrero was playing a heel on television and was getting ready to turn back into a babyface and win the World Heavyweight Championship. Because of his death, Mysterio, his final WrestleMania opponent, won the title at WrestleMania XXII.

Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
About this blog
The Squared Circle is a one-stop shop of pro wrestling news, recaps and observations. You can also enjoy interviews with some of your favorite stars from the world of professional wrestling both nationally and locally. Reach Vaughn at vjohnson@philly.com.

Vaughn Johnson Sports Producer
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