Wrestlemania XX: Where It All Begins Again
March 14, 2004
Madison Square Garden
New York, New York
“Where It All Begins, Again” was the tagline for this Wrestlemania. But this show is more akin to Wrestlemania VII or IX, in that it sits at a cross-section of generations for WWE. The Attitude Era was definitely over, and they were starting to move past the Ruthless Aggression Era. But the next generation of guys weren’t ready to step up and take over yet, so we get something of a placeholder Wrestlemania. A lot of interesting and intriguing things happen, but most of it got reset the next year when we saw where the company was really going.
Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler are on commentary for the Raw matches, Michael Cole and Tazz for the Smackdown matches.
United States Championship: Big Show (c) vs. John Cena
Cena was crazy over here. It’s weird to hear him come out to a pop and not have the crowd say “Cena Sucks” after “Let’s Go Cena.” Nothing special to this match, just a long heat segment from Big Show.
Cena came back and hit the FU, which Big Show kicked out of for some reason. Cena then punched Big Show with a chain-loaded fist and hit a second FU to win his first championship.
Rating: *. Good choice for the opener even if the match was nothing special. Big Show kicking out of the FU bugs me. Why weaken Cena’s finisher when the only point of the match was to put him over?
World Tag Team Championship: Rob Van Dam and Booker T (c) vs. Mark Jindrak and Garrison Cade vs. The Dudley Boyz vs. La Resistance
RVD and Booker won. The match was short and there wasn’t any point to it other than to fill some time and get guys on the card. RVD/Booker, The Dudleyz, and La Resistance were over. Cade and Jindrak were just there. There was some fun stuff in here, but the match didn’t have much behind it.
Rating: *½. Not bad action, but short and meaningless.
Chris Jericho vs. Christian
There was a long video package explaining the story with Trish coming between their friendship and Christian turning on Jericho. I’m glad it was there, because I didn’t remember any of the details.
They had a really good match where they both got to show off their athletic talents. Christian won with a roll-up when Trish “accidentally” hit Jericho. Then it was revealed they had been in league the entire time. I don’t remember what the explanation for that was, so I’ll reserve judgment on whether or not it made any sense.
Rating: ***. Strong match. Really enjoyed how these guys worked together.
Evolution vs. The Rock N Sock Connection
Foley got his ass kicked by Evolution on a Raw at Madison Square Garden back in August. Then he walked out of a match with Orton in December, refusing to fight even when Orton spit in his face. He returned at the Royal Rumble to eliminate Orton and set-up a match for Wrestlemania…and then they got The Rock to agree to work the show, and they threw this match together at the last minute.
This match is so much damn fun. The interplay between Rock and Flair was absolutely classic. Evolution got the win when Orton nailed Foley with the RKO. Right call to put over the guy who looked to be WWE’s future at the time.
Rating: ***¼. Great stuff. Loved Rock mocking Flair and Flair doing the same to Rock.
Playboy Evening Gown Match: Torrie Wilson and Sable vs. Stacy Kiebler and Miss Jackie
I think the match ended in the time it took for me to type that out.
Cruiserweight Championship Open: Chavo Guerrero (c) vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Ultimo Dragon vs. Shannon Moore vs. Jamie Noble vs. Funaki vs. Nunzio vs. Billy Kidman vs. Tajiri vs. Akio
Reasonable idea to get all the cruiserweights on the card, except they decided to make it a gauntlet elimination match. Everyone just stood at ringside until it was their turn. Nine guys were pinned in 10:31. An elimination per minute. No idea who put this together and thought it was a good idea. Most entertaining part was Ultimo Dragon tripping on his way to the ring.
Rating: *. Clusterfuck.
Goldberg vs. Brock Lesnar
A dream match that turned into a nightmare. Everything about this match went wrong: They had run out of dates on Goldberg’s contract, so he barely appeared in the lead to the match. Goldberg’s contract was expiring and he was leaving. And word had leaked that Brock was shockingly leaving WWE to pursue a career in the NFL. So the crowd just completely shits on the match, chanting all sorts of things at them. Neither guy gives any kind of fuck about the match, so they just go through the motions for 13 minutes. Goldberg won with the Spear and Jackhammer, and then Steve Austin Stunned them both and drank beer.
Rating: **. This was so bad it was awesome.
WWE Tag Team Championship: II Cool (c) vs. The APA vs. The World’s Greatest Tag Team vs. The Basham Brothers
They did another four way tag that no one cared about. II Cool retained in six minutes.
Rating: *. Neither show had much of a tag division going at this point.
Women’s Championship: Victoria (c) vs. Molly Holly
Molly got her head shaved as part of a pre-match stipulation. This could have been really good, but they only had five minutes. Molly was pretty sexy even as a bald woman.
Rating: *½. Could have been really good with more time.
WWE Championship: Eddie Guerrero (c) vs. Kurt Angle
Kurt turned on Eddie in a classic segment on Smackdown after No Way Out. Paul Heyman agreed to fight Eddie in a match where Eddie would be handcuffed. And then Kurt showed up, taped up his fists, and beat the piss out Eddie. And the announcers didn’t say a word the whole time. Sometimes silence is the best call.
This was a really great match, just like you’d expect from these two. I’ve always loved this finish: Kurt locks in the Ankle Lock, Eddie struggles and gets out. He unlaces his boot to relieve the pressure. Kurt goes back to the Ankle Lock…and Eddie’s boot comes off in his hand, allowing Eddie to roll him up for the pin. Finish is perfect for Eddie’s character, makes him look smart, and protects Kurt at the same time. Perfect all around.
Rating: ***¾. Really good match, but Kurt’s neck was in rough shape and I think it held them back from having the classic that they could have.
Undertaker vs. Kane
This was Undertaker’s long awaited return as the Dead Man character after four years as the American Bad Ass. It certainly felt special, and it was awesome to see his old entrance again.
There was nothing to the match, Taker won in five minutes. And I’m glad they kept it short, because Taker and Kane’s matches always sucked anyway.
Rating: ½*. Long squash.
World Heavyweight Championship: Triple H (c) vs. Chris Benoit vs. Shawn Michaels
Benoit won the Royal Rumble to get his shot. Michaels demanded another match with Triple H and signed his name to Benoit’s contract after knocking him out with Sweet Chin Music. Got to love wrestling law. And thus, we had a triple threat.
This is one of the best triple threats ever. All three guys worked hard and bumped all over. Shawn and Triple H both bled, because this was the era of unnecessary blading.
Benoit got destroyed with a double Suplex through the announce table and was down for several minutes, but heroically came back, took out Shawn, and then locked Triple H in the Crippler Crossface to get the submission victory and win the World Heayweight Championship.
Rating: ****. Outstanding match, but I wish it had been Benoit vs. Triple H in singles. Still, would consider this one of the best triple threat matches in history.
It’s a little hard to watch Benoit and Eddie celebrate together knowing how their lives ended. But it always takes me back to being a high school freshman and watching my two favorite wrestlers on top of the world. And when I think about it now, if that had been the end of my time as a wrestling fan maybe it would have been perfect. Because I would know that dreams could come true, hard work would be rewarded, and the good guys would win in the end. And I wouldn’t have had to know that sometimes life is far too short, dreams turn to nightmares, and your heroes turn out to be the greatest villains.