ANOTHER WRESTLEMANIA REVIEW
Last night I saddled up and went down to our local movie complex to see Wrestlemania 16. Famous Players has just started to offer the PPVs on the big screen, and I think it's a great way to experience a show. You still get a lot of the crowd reaction and it feels a lot more like 'being there'.
Anywhoo, I arrived at the show at about 5:30 PM. Even though Wrestlemania itself wasn't starting until 8, I knew the event had been sold out for a while and would probably fill up fast. I armed myself with a book, preparing to be forced to wait for several hours as the theatre people blasted the audience with muzak or exceedingly hard trivia like "T_m Cruise".
Security for the show was incredibly tight. They were stamping everyone's hand upon entry with a little "WWF" logo, and required you to show both the stamp and your ticket upon leaving and re-entering the theatre.
It was much to my surprise, when I arrived in the theatre, that they were showing "Wrestlemania: All Day Long" on the big screen. We were in the midst of Wrestlemania 11, and the theatre was already half-full.
My brother and I nabbed some good seats right in the middle of the theatre. We were positioned right behind a barricade, allowing us to put our feet up, which is always a plus. I noticed that there were two uniformed police officers in the theatre, I guess there to fight the evil forces of pornography, should a repeat of the "No Way Out" incident happen.
The picture itself was still square, not filling up the whole screen. I noticed that when sitting up close the picture got VERY blurry, but from our vantage point it was a very high quality picture. The audio was also incredibly well done, adding to the atmosphere that you were already there.
Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels was the first match shown on ADL, it's nothing special as a match, but you'd SWEAR that "Diesel" and "Kevin Nash" are two TOTALLY different people. The crowd got a pretty big laugh out of Jonathan Taylor Thomas being there, as he is "Sooo five minutes ago".
After the match I was treated to my first glimpse of the ADL hosts, Ivory and Michael Cole. Ivory was apparently on thirteen different kinds of drugs -- she would be well suited to take a job at the E! network. Either that or take some depressants.
ADL had some good interviews with some of the WWF staff. They still maintained kayfabe, but were able to offer some good insight on the matches. Hell, Cole even used the terms "Babyface" and "heel".
They showed some stuff from Wrestlemania 12 next. We got treated to Roddy Piper vs. Goldust first, which got some laughs out of the crowd as it's pretty damn lame. We then saw a (heavily) clipped version of Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels. I was surprised they had so much Bret Hart footage without taking some shots at him.
Bret vs. Shawn is a favourite of mine. Being Canadian, I am required by LAW to be a Bret Hart mark. Although that feeling has definitely waned over the past few years, I was a HUGE Bret fan at the time of WM12. I still get into this match, even now, it really was an incredibly display of athleticism and the ending minutes will give you goosebumps.
They then showed up Bret/Austin and Taker/Sid from WM13. This was the first PPV I saw live, so it's a sentimental favourite. Even though there is really only 1 good match, that being the I Quit one. The Bret/Austin match drew quite a few screams from the audience, directed at Austin's wicked blade job.
We never got to WM14, as they cut to the broadcast of Sunday Night Heat. I went down to get some food during an XFL promo. I got my typical movie food, a personal pan pizza combo from the Pizza Hut in the lobby.
When I got back they had killed the volume to Sunday Night Heat and were doing an "impersonation" contest with the people in the crowd. Most of the people sucked, we got about 90 tepid Rock impersonations, thankfully none of them won any of the various prizes(T-Shirts and the CD).
I must note the guy who did a REALLY good Roddy Piper impression. Re-enacting the Jimmy Snuka coconut incident. Of course, nobody in the crowd got it because everyone is a moron, except me.
Finally we got to the end of the contest. They kept lowering the curtain and then bringing it up again for some reason. There was no volume for about 5 minutes, which got us chanting "We want VOLUME!". That apparently got them going, as we were treated to the closing moments of Sunday Night Heat.
Godfather/D-Lo vs. Bossman/Buchanan was an okay match. D-Lo rules and Bull has much potential. I was hoping for D-Lo to turn on Godfather and give Ice-T a frogsplash, but no dice. *1/2
The Hardcore Battle Royal was not really a match, but it was incredibly fun. There were some ECW mutants in the back who chanted "ECW" when ever Tazz appeared on screen, and the rest of the crowd was really into this match too. My favourite point was when Sho Funaki won and just ran the hell away. The ending was incredibly weird, but the match as a whole was still good fun. ***
T&A vs. Head Cheese was probably the lowpoint of the night. We popped big for Trish Stratus for some reason, but the match itself was pretty boring. T&A showed some good Double Team Power moves, though. And the post match stuff with Head Cheese got over with the crowd pretty well. *
The Triangle Ladder Match was the BEST of the night. There were some girls beside us who were HUGE Edge and Christian and Hardy Boyz marks("Oh my god! He took his shirt off!") and we got quite a few "Holy Sh*t!" chants going. Some people have bashed the segment in the middle where the Dudleys just set up tables, but I thought it was a completely logical segment, keeping in line with their characters("We could win, but we'd rather put some people through tables"). Jeff Hardy is going to be in a wheelchair by 30. I'm glad the Suicide Blondez won, as Canadians RULE. *****
Terri vs. The Kat was amusing for what it was. Mae Young got some great reactions, negative as they may be. I'm not going to rate this, as it's not a match.
Too Cool/Chyna vs. Radicals was a good match. Eddy is going to be a HUGE star, "Latino Heat! Latino Heat!". I can't say I agree with the decision, but I understand that the WWF needed to have a lot of faces going over to offset their plans for the main event. ***1/2
Benoit vs. Angle vs. Jericho was the BEST Three-way match I've ever seen. There was never ANY moments in which one guy was just standing around as the other two fought, and they did some really innovative spots. Who would have thought Kurt Angle could do an extremely nice moonsault. ****1/4
Rikishi/Kane vs. The Cannabis Connection was just like it should have been. Kane finally squashed X-pac and Tori. I love this Pete Rose thing, his post show interview was hilarious -- "I'm a contender!". **
The 4-way match was a good match. There were some excellent spots. Foley missing the 'hardcore' elbow was a good spot. As was HHH piledriving Rock on the steps, and Rock suplexing HHH through a table. The ending was AWFUL, however. On any other show it would be acceptable, but it felt out of place at Wrestlemania. ***3/4 for the match itself.
I imagine Vince is going to hold off Rock winning the title until 4/10. Which is Nitro's supposed "comeback" show. I fear the ramifications of another Heel Vince angle, but it COULD turn out well.
Regardless of the questionable ending, it was an INCREDIBLE show. I'm buying the tape just for the ladder match.
I salute the WWF for putting on a good show. But I must admit I am incredibly apprehensive about the future of the company.