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WRESTLEMANIA RETRO LOOKS BACK AT TWENTY-SIX YEARS OF WRESTLEMANIA HISTORY

By PWInsider.com Staff on 2011-04-03 09:13:00

WRESTLEMANIA XXI REPORT
by Buck Woodward

Lilian Garcia opened the show by singing America The Beautiful, accompanied by background singers, while footage rolled of WWE stars visiting with U.S. Troops overseas.

The stage, which is set up like a giant movie screen, had a curtain part in front of it, and a montage from the various movie spoof commercials was shown.  A new spoof was then shown, featuring Stone Cold Steve Austin in Gladiator

We then went live to the Staples Center, with the three announce teams (Raw, Smackdown, and the Spanish Announcers) all positioned at ringside.

Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio.

Eddie drove out in a lowrider, while Rey, without his usual jumping entrance, had an outfit that combined the Mexican and American flags.  They locked up, no handshake, and Guerrero took Rey down with a side mare, then moved to an armbar.  Rey flipped out of it and hit a shoulderblock for two.  Eddie armdragged Rey and floated over him into a test of strength.  Rey kept his shoulders off the mat, and flipped over Eddie into a sunsetflip, but Eddie rolled through and sent Rey to the floor with a catapult.  Eddie went for a baseball slide, but Rey slid back into the ring as Eddie slipped out.  Rey teased a dive, but spun between the ropes instead. 

Eddie stepped back into the ring, and they went into a test of strength, with Rey monkeyflipping Eddie.  Both maintained the knuckle lock, and bridged to keep their shoulders off the mat. They jockeyed for position, and Eddie went for a Northern Lights suplex, but Rey flipped out of it.  They countered each others moves, until Rey hit a high monkey flip.  Eddie backdropped Rey to the apron, then punched him to the floor. Eddie hit Rey with a pescado, then tossed Rey back into the ring. 

Guerrero covered Mysterio for a two count, then put him in a surfboard.  Rey got to his feet, and Guerrero planted him with a back suplex for two. Eddie went for a chinlock, then switched to a bow and arrow, hooking Rey's legs and pulling back on the surfboard.  Eddie's shoulders went down on the mat, and he had to release the hold.  Guerrero applied an STF, then went to an armbar, then a hammerlock. Mysterio elbowed  Guerrero, then tried to flip into a reverse DDT, but fell off Guerrero. Eddie went for a powerbomb, but Rey turned it into an armdrag and sent Guerrero to the floor. 

Mysterio hit a baseball slide, then a corkscrew plancha on Guerrero on the floor.  Rey kicked Eddie in the leg, then rolled him into the ring.  Rey hit a springboard senton, but Eddie came back with a back elbow.  Eddie went for the Three Amigos, but after one suplex Rey floated over and rolled up Eddie for two.  Eddie grabbed a backbreaker for a two count. Guerrero hit two vertical suplexes, but on the third, Rey turned it into a headscissors, putting Eddie in 619 position.  Eddie ducked the 619, then hit a tilt-a-whirl backbreaker. Eddie hit the Three Amigos vertical suplexes, then went to the top rope.  Rey moved, and Eddie crashed on the frog splash attempt. Mysterio was bleeding from the mouth.  Rey grabbed La Magistral, but Eddie reversed it for a two count. 

Rey kicked Eddie in the gut twice, then went for a rana, but Eddie tossed it off.  Rey landed on his feet, then gave Eddie a drop toe hold into the ropes.  Rey hit the 619, then went for the West Coast Pop, but Eddie caught it and powerbombed Rey for a close two count.  The fans chanted "Eddie" but Guerrero was getting frustrated. Eddie charged, but Rey hit a headbutt to the gut, then grabbed a lighting fast rana for the pin at the thirteen minute mark. 

Winner: Rey Mysterio.

Guerrero shook Mysterio's hand following the match, but the two left separately. 

Backstage, Triple H and Ric Flair ran into JBL, Orlando Jordan and the Bashams.  They traded insults, with Triple H mocking JBL's "wrestling god" line, while JBL pointed out that he never lost his title, unlike Triple H.  They went nose to nose, with both boasting that they were better than the other, and would still have their respective title at the end of the night. Triple H walked off, and Ric Flair threw a "Whoo!" in the face of Orlando Jordan before leaving. 

Money In The Bank Ladder Match

Several ladders were placed on the stage for the wrestlers to bring to the ring and use in an attempt to grab the briefcase and win the World Title contract. Other ladders were placed at ringside. All the ladders went on the stage burst into flames when Kane made his entrance.  Everyone started fighting in the aisle, ganging up on Kane.  Kane fought them off, but Benoit and Benjamin gave him a double suplex on the floor.  Christian tried to bring a ladder into the ring, but Jericho teeter-tootered it into Christian.  The bell rang to begin the match. 

Jericho bulldogged Benjamin, then dropkicked Benoit into Edge.  Jericho dove from the ring onto Edge, then Christian dove onto both of them, and Benoit.  Benjamin then dove on everyone (including Tyson Tomko), except Kane.  Kane went to the top rope, and jumped onto everyone but Edge on the floor.  Kane bought a ladder into the ring, and hit Edge and Christian (who was coming off the ropes) with it.  Jericho hit a top rope dropkick to knock the ladder into Kane.  Jericho hit Benjamin in the gut and face with the ladder, then blasted Edge with it. Jericho dropped the ladder across the downed Edge.  Benoit gave Jericho a German suplex, sending the ladder flying. Benoit climbed the ladder, and Kane tried a chokeslam, but Benoit turned it into a Crippler Crossface.  Edge broke it up, so Benoit put him in a Crossface.  Kane hit Benoit in the face with the ladder. 

Kane put Benoit's arm in the ladder and slammed it repeatedly.  Edge speared Kane.  Christian and Edge set up Kane for a ladder Conchairto, smashing Kane between them.  Shelton hit a springboard double clothesline on Edge and Christian.  Shelton went for a back kick, Edge ducked, and Shelton kicked a ladder into Christian.  Edge set up a ladder in a corner and whipped Benjamin into it.  Edge measured Benjamin for a spear, but Benjamin flapjacked him into the ladder. Benjamin rammed Edge into the ladder several times, then went for a Stinger Splash, squashing Edge into the ladder. 

Shelton climbed the ladder, and touched the briefcase, but Jericho climbed up and they slugged it out on the ladder.  Christian set up another ladder, and he and Benoit climbed that one. Edge set up a third, and we had five men fighting it out on top of ladders. Christian jumped off his ladder, giving Benoit an armbreaker.  Benjamin knocked Jericho down.  Edge and Benjamin battled, and Benjamin gave Edge a T-Bone suplex off the ladder.  Jericho knocked two ladders down, one hitting Edge.  Edge and Christian battled, with Jericho kicking him in the back of the head.  One ladder was leaned against a standing ladder.  Jericho climbed the ladder, but Benjamin ran up the slanted ladder and hit a clothesline, with both men crashing to the mat. 

Benjamin went for the briefcase, but Christian used a ladder to knock him down.  Kane gave Christian a boot to the face.  Kane went for a chokeslam on Benjamin, looking to toss him to the floor, but Benjamin instead got his leg twisted in the top and middle rope.  Tomko ran in and booted Kane, then tried to help Christian up the ladder.  Kane knocked Tomko to the floor. Christian went to the top of the ladder, but Kane toppled it and Christian fell to the floor, landing on Tomko.  Kane climbed the ladder, but Jericho climbed up and started punching him. Kane and Jericho toppled into the top rope, with Jericho falling to the floor, and Kane bouncing off into the ring. 

Benoit set up a ladder in a corner, and favoring his arm from the earlier move by Christian and bleeding from his nose, climbed up and gave Kane a diving headbutt from the top of the ladder.  Benoit busted open the stitches above his eyes with the move. A "Benoit" chant broke out, as he climbed the ladder.  Kane sat up, and climbed the ladder.  Kane grabbed Benoit by the throat, but Benoit headbutted him repeatedly until he fell off the ladder. Benoit went for the briefcase, but Edge hit Benoit in the bad arm with a chair, and Benoit fell to the mat.  Edge climbed up and grabbed the briefcase for the win at the sixteen minute mark.  

Winner: Edge.   Edge gets a World Title match at some point in the next year. 

Edge clutched the briefcase in the aisle, a smile on his face, as Benoit was shown clutching his arm and screaming in the ring. 

An ad for the Andre The Giant Fanatic special was shown. 

Eugene, wearing his wrestling gear and a knee brace, came to the ring. Eugene said he was thrilled to be at Wrestlemania, saying it was his second favorite Wrestlemania moment ever.  His first was when the midgets ganged up on King Kong Bundy at Wrestlemania III.  Muhammad Hassan, with Daivari, came out Hassan asked Eugene if he knew why he was angry.  Eugene assumed it was because he doesn't like midgets.  Hassan ranted about being left off of Wrestlemania, then ranked on Hollywood for being full of "fakes" and practicing bigotry. Hassan complained about having to take a back seat to a "disgrace" like Eugene. Hassan said if he wasn't given a "Wrestlemania moment" he was going to create one.  Hassan and Daivari attacked Eugene, and put him in a camel clutch (doing the throat slashing gesture first). 

"Real American" blasted out, and Hulk Hogan, in full wrestling gear, came to the ring. Hassan and Daivari attacked Hogan as he entered the ring, but Hogan gave them a double noggin knocker, then pounded Hassan in a corner.  Hogan whipped Hassan across the ring and hit a clothesline in the opposite corner.  Big boot to the face, then Hogan threw Hassan over the top rope.  Daivari came in with a chair and hit Hogan in the back.  Hogan turned around and gave him the big boot.  Hogan then tossed Daivari over the top rope. Hogan tore off his shirt and posed in the ring, just like the old days. 

Hogan's family was sitting at ringside, right next to former WCW World Champion David Arquette.  Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young are also seated at ringside.  A giant American Flag appeared on the screen as Hogan posed on the stage before leaving. 

A video package hyping Randy Orton vs. The Undertaker was shown. 

The Undertaker vs. Randy Orton.

The Smackdown announce team called this match. Undertaker did his entrance, complete with torch bearing Druids, and seemed to "float" to the ring on smoke.  Orton came out second.  Orton tried to avoid the Undertaker at the bell, ducking away from him.  Orton slapped Undertaker, then ducked away again.  Undertaker grabbed a side headlock, and Orton shoved him off, leapfrogged him, and hit a dropkick for a one count.  Orton backdropped Taker and leapfrogged him again, but Undertaker decked him with a right to the jaw.  Taker punched and elbowed Orton in a corner.  Undertaker whipped Orton across the ring, but Orton rolled up a charging Taker for a two count. Orton went for the RKO, but Taker tossed Orton over the top rope and to the floor. 

Undertaker went after Orton, throwing him in the ring and stretching his neck across the ring apron.  Taker hit the ring apron legdrop, then returned to the ring. Undertaker went for the Old School ropewalk, and hit the forearm off the top. Undertaker missed a boot in the corner, and went over the top rope and onto the apron.  Orton dropkicked Taker, who fell off the apron and crashed into the security wall.  Orton went outside and pounded Undertaker with punches.  Orton rolled Taker back in and the two traded punches.  Orton downed Undertaker with a clothesline for two. Taker hit a DDT as Orton went for a backdrop and got a two count.  Undertaker then planted Orton with a side slam for another two. Undertaker hit an avalanche in the corner, then hit a second. Undertaker hit Snake Eyes, but Orton came back with a back elbow for two. 

Orton pounded Taker in the chest with forearms, then stopped to pose, and Undertaker sat up. Orton staggered Taker with punches, as the fans chanted "Randy Sucks".  Undertaker battled back with punches of his own, and the two collided on clotheslines, with Orton falling down, and Taker covered for a two count.  Undertaker applied a Dragon Sleeper, but Orton kept his arm up, and reversed into a DDT. Orton draped an arm across Undertaker for a two count, then applied a rear naked choke. Taker punched out of it, but Orton applied a sleeper.  Undertaker broke out with a back suplex. Undertaker hit a big boot, but ran into an Orton powerslam for two. Orton rammed Taker into the top turnbuckle and started punching him in a corner. Orton stopped to pose, and Undertaker grabbed him for the Last Ride, but Orton popped out of it.  Orton went for the RKO, but Undertaker threw him off, and into the referee.  

Undertaker went for the Last Ride, but Orton shifted his weight and landed on top of him.  Cowboy Bob Orton ran in, wearing a cast, and blasted Undertaker with it.  Bob then woke up the referee, as Randy covered Undertaker.  The referee managed a two count, but Taker got his shoulder up. Orton went to whip Taker into Bob, who had the cast ready, but Taker booted Bob off the apron.  Undertaker went for a chokeslam, but Orton turned it into an RKO.  Orton covered, but Taker barely got his shoulder up to avoid the three count.  Orton then made Undertaker's gesture, and lifted Undertaker for a tombstone.  Undertaker shifted his weight, forcing Orton backwards, and reversed into his own tombstone position.  Undertaker then dropped Orton with the tombstone for the pin at the fourteen minute mark. 13-0.

Winner: The Undertaker. 

A video package on the events leading to Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme was shown. 

WWE Women's Champion Trish Stratus vs. Christy Hemme, with Lita.

At the bell, Trish laid down and dared Christy to get on her.  Trish then shoved Christy to the mat twice and kicked her out of the ring.  Trish gingerly shoved Christy into the ringsteps, then rolled her into the ring. Trish chopped Christy in the corner, and kicked her in the gut, then skipped across the ring.  Christy blocked a Chick Kick, and kicked Trish in the groin while Lita distracted the referee.  Christy pulled Trish off the ropes, kicked her, and used a vertical bodypress rollup for two.  Trish went back on offense with chops, then argued with Christy.  Christy did a split in the corner to avoid a charge and grabbed Trish in a sunset flip for two.  Trish gave Christy a spear, and knocked her to the floor.  Trish went outside, asked Lita "What are you gonna do?" and kicked Christy.  Trish went around the ring and shoved Lita to the ground.  Trish got back into the ring and yelled at Lita, allowing Christy to roll her up for two.  Christy hit some kicks and rammed Trish into the turnbuckle.  Christy hit the Twist Of Fate for a two count.  

The fans seem to be favoring Trish over Christy.  That is, those that are bothering to react at all.  Trish rolled up Christy, but Christy reversed and hooked the tights for a two count.  Trish hit a poor Chick Kick for the pin at the four minute mark. 

Winner: Trish Stratus.

A video package on the Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle match was shown. 

Billy Gibbons of ZZTop and Marg Helgenberger of CSI were shown in the crowd.

Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle.

The Raw Team announced this match.  Michaels entered the ring first, then Angle.  They went nose to nose in the ring, trading verbal barbs.  They backed up, then Michaels slapped Angle across the face.  Angle took Michaels down with a waistlock, and rode Shawn around the ring.  Michaels made the ropes to force a break.  The two smiled at each other from across the ring.  Michaels took Angle down with a side mare, and applied a headlock.  Angle rolled it over for a two count, but Michaels held onto the hold.  Angle worked to his feet, but Michaels rode him back down.  There was a brief "Angle" chant, then an "HBK" one. Angle hit a back suplex, but Michaels held onto the headlock.  Angle shoved Michaels into the ropes, but Michaels hit a shoulderblock then grabbed another side mare for the headlock.  Angle tried to throw off the headlock, but Michaels would not let go.  Angle got to the corner to force a break.  

Angle grabbed a waistlock, but Michaels reversed it and grabbed the side headlock again.  Angle grabbed the hair, but the referee made him break.  Angle broke free and went for a waistlock, but Michaels reversed it.  Angle elbowed out and hit a shoulderblock, but Michaels came back with a hiptoss and applied a short-arm scissors.  Angle tried to roll it into a pinning position, but Michaels got his shoulders off the mat. Angle rolled under the hold, then lifted Michaels off the mat.  Michaels floated into a sunset flip for a two count, then grabbed a backslide for another two, then went back to the side headlock. Angle forced them to the corner for a break, then the fists started flying.  They clinched in the corner, and continued to throw punches. The referee was yanking them apart at this point, and Angle used it to his advantage, hitting a shot to the back of the head.  Angle grabbed a quick ankle lock, but Michaels rolled out of it.  Michaels hit a Cactus Clothesline, and he and Angle fell to the floor.

Michaels cleared the Smackdown announce table, then rolled into the ring to break the count.  When he came back out, Angle hit some uppercuts, then went for a suplex into the table.  Michaels floated out and hit some chops.  Angle ducked a chop and gave Michaels an Angle Slam into the ringpost, slamming Shawn back first into it. Angle rolled back into the ring, then went back after Michaels on the floor.  Angle started kicking and pounding the back, and tossed Michaels back into the ring.  Angle hit a vertical suplex for a two count. Angle covered again for another two, then applied a bodyscissors. Angle added a rear naked choke to the move.  Michaels battled out, and chopped Angle in a corner.  Angle reversed a whip into the corner, and Michael flipped upside down in the corner, then fell back into the ring. Angle hit two overhead belly to belly suplexes, scored a two count, then applied a camel clutch variation, driving his knee into Michaels' back. 

Michaels broke out and hit some chops, and soon the two were trading punches.  Michaels slapped Angle, who came back with a clothesline for two. Angle hit some uppercuts in the corner, then placed Shawn on the top rope for a belly to belly superplex.  Michaels blocked it and knocked Angle off the ropes.  Michaels went for a top rope elbow, but Angle rolled out of the way.  Angle took his straps down, and went for the Angle Slam, but Michaels reversed it into an armdrag.  Angle charged Michaels, who backdropped him over the top rope and to the floor. Michaels went to the top rope and hit a flying bodypress to the floor. Michaels' knee hit Angle in the face on the move. Michaels got onto the ring apron, and he appeared to have a bloody nose.  Angle got on the apron with Michaels, and was trying to German suplex him off the apron to the floor.  Michaels held onto the top rope to avoid the move, then elbowed Angle several times, then hit him low with a back kick to knock him off the apron.  The move actually got some boos for HBK.  

Michaels put Angle on the Smackdown announce table, then got on the apron and hit a springboard splash from the second rope onto Angle on the table.  The table didn't give, but both men fell off to the floor. Angle was bleeding from the mouth. Slowly, both men crawled back into the ring, towards each other.  They stood up, and Michaels hit some chops and punches. Angle reversed a whip, and Michaels hit a flying forearm.  Michaels kipped up, and knocked Angle to the mat with right hands, then hit a reverse atomic drop and a clothesline.  Michaels slammed Angle, then went to the top rope and hit the flying elbowdrop.  Michaels psyched himself up, and began stomping in the corner.  Angle caught the superkick attempt, and applied the ankle lock.  Shawn tried to roll through the hold, but Angle dropped down with it.  Michaels made the ropes, and Angle broke the hold at the count of four.  

Angle screamed for Michaels to get up, and Angle went for the Angle Slam, but Michaels rolled into a sunset flip.  Angle rolled through the move and applied the ankle lock.  Michaels rolled out of it, and went for a superkick, but Angle caught it and hit an Angle Slam for the two count. Angle went to the top rope and went for a moonsault, butt Michaels rolled out of the way and Angle crashed to the mat.  Michaels went to the top rope, but Angle met him up there and hit a second rope Angle Slam for a two count. The crowd went nuts for the kickout.  A frustrated Angle grabbed Michaels by the hair and screamed for him to tap out.  Shawn pushed away from Angle and hit a superkick, then collapsed to the mat.  Michaels crawled onto Angle for a two count. 

Michaels slowly got to his feet, and Angle rolled over and grabbed his foot and applied the ankle lock. Michaels fought the hold, kicking and rolling, but Angle would not release the hold. Angle yanked Michaels into the center of the ring, and Michaels lunged and reached, but could not make the ropes.  Angle dropped down and added a leglace to the hold.  Michaels screamed in pain, and reached for the ropes, and started shaking and convulsing in the hold.  After about a minute and a half in the hold, Michaels tapped out at the 28 minute mark. 

Winner: Kurt Angle. 

The fans applauded the match. Angle left, triumphant, as Michaels slowly made it to his feet.  The fans applauded him, and Michaels returned the applause, then limped from the ring. 

They showed the "Basic Instinct"-spoof commercial, which won two of the Movie Trailer Awards on WWE.com.  Following the commercial, Mae Young and Fabulous Moolah were shown sitting at ringside. 

Piper's Pit

Rowdy Roddy Piper was introduced to a nice ovation, and the ring was set up with a carpet and two stools.  A "Rowdy" chant broke out. Piper thanked the crowd for the honor of being put into the Hall Of Fame, then said it was time to "move on and make history".  Piper asked who the baddest man, meanest man, etc. in WWE was, and said the answer is Steve Austin. When Piper got to asking who the biggest "rebel" is, the crowd responded Austin, and Piper said "Bulls***".  Piper said he needed to see it for himself, and introduced Steve Austin, who came out to a big ovation.  Austin tossed one of the stools out of the ring, so Piper tossed the other one out.  An "Austin" chant rang out.  Piper and Austin stood face to face in the ring.  Piper welcomed Austin to Piper's Pit, and slapped him across the face. Austin said thanks to Piper, called him a son of a bitch, and slapped him back.  Piper said he liked Austin.  Austin asked if he wanted another slap.  Piper said he had a lot of respect for Austin, and the fans chanted "What".  Piper asked if the fans were deaf.  Piper said he respected the way Austin fought Vince McMahon.  Piper kept playing up against the "What" chants. Piper told Austin that he was ticking off Vince McMahon back when his red neck was green.  Piper said Austin wasn't the first rebel.  Austin then ripped into Piper on the mic, asking if he was supposed to be intimidated or scared by Piper, saying he was neither.  Piper said they had "failure to communicate".  

Suddenly, Carlito Caribbean Cool's music hit, and Carlito walked out.  Carlito said Piper and Austin shouldn't be arguing, and that they had one thing in common, neither were cool.  Carlito said no one wanted to see them anymore.  Austin invited him into the ring, and Piper asked who the hell he was. Carlito said he was taking charge, and that was cool.  Carlito said he would appreciate it if they would both leave now.  Carlito said if they "had a problem with that", and tossed his apple in the air.  Piper grabbed the apple, took several big bites, and spat it at Carlito.  Piper then tossed the apple into the crowd.  Carlito tackled Piper and started punching him.  Austin pulled Carlito off of Piper and stomped him down in the corner. Austin whipped Carlito towards Piper, and Piper poked Carlito in the eyes in classic Piper style.  Austin then hit a stunner, and Piper flung Carlito out of the ring.  Austin and Piper then had a big beer celebration.  After several rounds, Austin kicked Piper and gave him a stunner, with the announcers reminding us that you can't trust a rattlesnake.  Austin then walked off, having a few more beers on the way out.

The "Taxi Driver" spoof commercial was shown next, with the announcers saying it won the award for the best trailer commercial on WWE.com. 

Akebono vs. Big Show - Sumo Match

To win the match, you must knock your opponent out of the sumo circle set up in the ring, or off his feet. The ropes were removed from the ring and the ringposts were padded, and they had a sumo judge for the match. Akebono and Big Show entered in robes and sandals, with Show stopping during his entrance to "show some leg" to the camera. Both men removed their robes, and were in traditional sumo gear. The announcers explained the rules and traditions involved in sumo. They did the salt ceremony, then got in position.  The fans booed all the waiting and stalling.  They finally started trading slaps, and trying to muscle each other out of the circle.  Show hit a shoulderblock, but Akebono didn't move.  Show called for a chokeslam for some reason.  They started slapping and shoving again.  Show lifted Akebono off his feet and turned, but Akebono was not out of the circle.  Akebono then used the leverage off the move by Show to take him down and out of the circle, with Show falling to the floor at the one and a half minute mark. 

Winner: Akebono.  

The two shook hands and hugged following the match. 

They aired a video package on the JBL-John Cena feud. 

WWE Champion John Bradshaw Layfield vs. John Cena

JBL's limo entered with a police motorcycle escort. Fake money with JBL's picture on it fell from the ceiling as well.  Orlando Jordan came out of the limo, but got back in, as JBL was apparently going it alone. Cena wore a huge spinning metal medallion on his chain.  They stared each other down at the bell, then locked up.  JBL backed Cena into a corner, then grabbed a side headlock.  Cena threw him into the ropes, but JBL hit a shoulderblock.  Cena leapfrogged JBL and hit a tackle, but than ran into a bit boot.  JBL hit a shoulderblock and rammed Cena into the corner, then started punching him.  JBL hit some clubbering forearms and chops, then hit a swinging neckbreaker.  JBL hit a second neckbreaker, then covered for a two count. JBL choked Cena against the top rope, then stomped Cena and applied a modified camel clutch between the ropes, using the middle rope to add pressure to the neck.  JBL catapulted Cena between the ropes, slamming him chest first into the middle rope.

Cena and JBL traded punches, and JBL ran into a Cena boot.  JBL came back with a spinebuster for a two count.  JBL hit a cross armed neckbreaker for a two count, but Cena kicked out. JBL kicked Cena in the head a few times, and Cena got mad and battled back with a punch, only for JBL to poke him in the eyes and then hit a clothesline in the corner. JBL hit a short arm clothesline for a two count, then delivered a forearm to the back after a snapmare.  JBL, applied a sleeper, but Cena broke out with a back suplex. Both men collided with clotheslines and fell to the mat. They went to the floor, and JBL hit a neckbreaker on the outside, then rolled Cena in for a two count. JBL hit a superplex, and slowly went on top for a two count. JBL went to the top rope and jumped into a Cena powerslam. Cena hit a series of clotheslines and a backdrop, then hit a flying tackle.  Cena hit a hiptoss and a side suplex into a powerbomb.  Cena dropped the Five Knuckle Shuffle after doing the "You Can't See Me" bit. Cena pumped up the sneakers.  Some fans booed.  Cena ran into a JBL boot, and JBL went for the Clothesline From Hell.  Cena ducked it and grabbed the FU for the win at the twelve minute mark.

Winner and new WWE Champion: John Cena.

Cena went into the crowd to celebrate.

A video package on the Hall Of Fame inductions last night was shown.

They introduced Mean Gene Okerlund, and he brought out the inductees for this year.  Each one came out, accompanied by one of the Divas, as a video package of highlights were shown. Cowboy Bob Orton was still selling the attack from the Undertaker earlier. Jimmy Hart had his megaphone with him.  Piper was all smiles. Stacy Keibler and Hulk Hogan came out last, and did the old "hand to the ear" pose. Hogan's family was shown at ringside.

They announced that Wrestlemania 22 will take place in Chicago on April 22nd.

A video package on the events leading to Triple H vs. Batista was shown.

World Champion Triple H, with Ric Flair, vs. Batista.

Heavy metal legends Motorhead performed "The Game" live for Triple H's entrance.  Triple H came up on a lift in the stage where Motorhead was performing and made his entrance. Ric Flair met Triple H in the ring.  Batista then made his usual entrance.  They went face to face in the center of the ring, and Batista smiled as Triple H trash talked him.  The bell rang, and the two circled the ring.

They locked up, and jockeyed for position, breaking off after neither could force the other down. They locked up again, and Triple H moved Batista in a corner, but Batista shoved Triple H back. Another lockup, and Triple H grabbed a headlock.  Batista sent Triple H into the ropes and downed him with a shoulderblock. Triple H ducked a clothesline and hit a shoulderblock of his own.  Triple H went for a Pedigree, but Batista shoved it off and gave Triple H a press slam.  They started trading punches, and Batista ran into an elbow.  Batista grabbed Triple H by the throat and tossed him into the corner, then hit some right hands. Batista backdropped Triple H, missed a clothesline, and Triple H hit a jumping knee, sending Batista through the ropes and to the floor.

Flair was sneaking up on Batista, but it turned out to only be a distraction so Triple H could grab him from behind and ram him into the ringsteps. As Batista climbed back through the ropes, Triple H hit a second rope elbow to the back of the head.  Triple H choked Batista under the bottom rope, with the referee forcing him to break it.  While the referee admonished Triple H, Flair choked Batista with his jacket, pulling him back to the floor.  Triple H rammed Batista back first into the security wall, then into the ring apron. Back in the ring, Triple H dropped two elbows to Batista's back, then drove in several kneedrops.  Triple H hit a forearm to the back, then drove in some knees as Batista slumped across the second rope.  Triple H hit a vertical suplex and covered for a two count.

Triple H hit some knees to the back, then lifted Batista and hit a side backbreaker. Batista was on the apron again, and Flair choked him again. Batista battled back against Triple H form the apron, but Triple H dropped down, yanking Batista throat first across the top rope. Triple H tossed Batista back in, and slugged him in the corner. Batista fired back with some punches, but Triple H came back with a spinebuster for a two count. Triple H covered several times, but Batista kept kicking out. Triple H hit a neckbreaker for a two count, and Triple H started to look frustrated.

Triple H went for a Pedigree, but Batista backdropped out of it. Batista went for a backdrop, but Triple H hit a facebuster on the knee for a two count. Triple H climbed to the top rope, and after waiting a long time, jumped off into a Batista clothesline. Batista hit a side slam for a two count, then ran into a Triple H boot to the face. Triple H went for a whip, but Batista held onto the top rope to block it, then threw Triple H into the corner, over the top rope and to the floor.  Batista went outside after him, but Triple H reversed a whip and sent Batista into the ringsteps. Triple H went for the Pedigree on a section of the ringsteps, but Batista got out of it and catapulted Triple H into the ringpost.  Triple H was quickly bleeding a gusher.

Batista rammed Triple H face first into the ringsteps repeatedly, then tossed him back into the ring.  Batista punched Triple H over and over in his bloody forehead.  Batista then hit a running kick to the back of the head. Batista hit a clothesline in the corner, then whipped Triple H across the ring and hit another one. Batista hit a series of elbows in the corner, then delivered a shoulderblock to the midsection, then a running clothesline in the corner. Batista hit a powerslam for a two count, and Triple H rolled to the floor.  Batista went after him, and Flair tried to stop him, so Batista knocked down Flair.  Triple H went for a chair, but the referee jumped off the apron to grab the chair, and hurt himself.  Batista and Triple H got into the ring, and Flair ran in with the title belt, and Batista gave Flair a spinebuster.  The referee got back in and rolled Flair out, as Triple H hit Batista with the title belt for a two count.

Triple H charged Batista and got caught in a spinebuster.  Batista went for the Demon Bomb, but Triple H hit a low blow.  Triple H went for a Pedigree, but Batista blocked it, and forced Triple H's hands apart.  Batista started to backdrop Triple H, then dropped it into a Reality Check/Kryptonie Krunch type move.  Batista got psyched up, gave Triple H the thumbs down, then hit the Demon Bomb for the clean pin at the twenty one minute mark.

Winner and new World Heavyweight Champion: Batista.

A bloody Triple H stared at Batista, then left in Ric Flair's arms. Batista celebrated with the title belt to end the show, and a video package of highlights rolled.

MANIA NOTES: Word was going around backstage at the PPV that WWE was preparing to announce a deal with The USA Network for their cable programming, starting in September when their run on Spike TV ends. Of course, that happened....Booker T won the Battle Royal that took place prior to the Pay-pre-view.  It is expected to be included in the DVD release of Wrestlemania. It came down to him, Chris Masters and Viscera. It was confusing to watch because all of the Raw guys wore red shirts and the Smackdown talents wore blue ones. Appearing in the Battle Royal were Simon Dean, William Regal, Yoshihiro Tajiri, La Resistance, Gene Snitsky, Hurricane, Rosey, Chris Masters, Viscera, Rhyno, Val Venis, Tyson Tomko, Maven, Booker T (winner), Paul London, Heidenreich, Spike Dudley, Nunzio, Sho Funaki, Doug Basham, Danny Basham, Orlando Jordan, Mark Jindrak, Luther Reigns, Scotty 2 Hotty, Hardcore Holly,  Charlie Haas, and Akio.....After the show ended, Batista went down and hugged Triple H's dad in the first row. Triple H's parents were in the front row for the show. He then bowed to the fans on each side of the ring. That was it....There was major heat on Rhyno following an incident at the Universal Sheraton (where WWE booked most of the wrestlers during Wrestlemania 21 week) after Rhyno destroyed a huge 100 lb. ceramic flowerpot in the foyer of the hotel, in front of a number of witnesses, during an argument with his wife shortly after the Wrestlemania 21 post-party began.  Rhyno was escorted to his hotel room by WWE management and did not return to the party. The company was furious about the situation as he was booked in the hotel by them, and was therefore representing the company. They are also upset that the incident happened before a number of witnesses including fans who were hanging out in the hotel lobby. Rhyno flew home from California on Monday morning after Wrestlemania and did not attend the Raw tapings.  He was later released from the company, used one more time at the One Night Stand PPV later that year....The crowd was very live until the John Cena-JBL match. They came back for the main event....The mood backstage was said to be very good, with the power people thinking they delivered a strong show.  There was said to be some concern for the crowd's reaction to John Cena and his win, as well as how the match played out, but everything else went the way that the company wanted it to go.....Former World Heavyweight Champion and current movie star, The Rock attended WWE's post-Wrestlemania party.....Among the celebrities attending Wrestlemania were Jim Carrey, Macaulay Culkin, Anthony Kiedes of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins fame, famed music producer Rick Rubin, Adam Sandler, and Rob Schneider. Actress Shannon Elizabeth (American Pie, Jay & Silent Bob Strike Back) was in attendance at the Wrestlemania post-party as well.....Marg Helgenberger of CSI and Carmen Electra were also in attendance at Wrestlemania 21 Sunday. Billy Corgan was at the show with former ECW manager Lou E. Dangerously, who was in Los Angeles on business and attended the show to see old friends, including Corgan....David Flair was at both Wrestlemania 21 and the Raw taping the next night. Frankie Kazarian (who lives in California) was also in for the weekend, in case he was needed for anything....The Associated Press put out a small blurb on Hulk Hogan being inducted into the WWE Hall Of Fame.  Hogan is quoted as saying "To me, it's huge to be part of the Hall of Fame because I was there from Day One when this business went from small-time to big-time".  Hogan also claims his toughest injury was "torn back muscles" from bodyslamming Andre The Giant..... The workers were all over town doing appearances. A number of them were hanging out at the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park since it was only five minutes away from their hotel as well...Lance Storm, now working as a trainer for the company in OVW,  was brought in for the weekend, attending the PPV and the Hall of Fame ceremony.   JBL confronted him backstage over comments Storm made to developmental workers about him, but nothing physical transpired....WWE's Road to Wrestlemania tour set up shop in Culver City over the Mania weekend, including sales of a special Hillbilly Jim figure that was limited to 5000 figures being sold for charity at $20 a pop....Indy worker Talia (now known as Velvet Sky in TNA) was in attendance at the events over the weekend including attending the Hall of Fame with Hurricane Helms.

WWE SHUTS DOWN HOLLYWOOD BLVD: On Thursday 3/31, WWE blocked off the street on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Highland Avenue, in front of a huge shopping complex of the same name. The ring was set up at the bottom of the stairs to the complex, allowing fans to hang out on the balconies above (set up to view the Hollywood sign in the distance) to view the ring. There were about 500 fans in attendance, according to one person. Ricky Steamboat, Dave Finley, Sgt. Slaughter, and Earl & Dave Hebner were in attendance running the event. Stacy Keibler opened the show, followed by an appearance by Hillbilly Jim where they gave out Wrestlemania 21 merchandise. Hurricane and Rosey defeated La Resistance. Michael Cole interviewed Trish Stratus. Kurt Angle defeated Shawn Evans in a Kurt Angle Invitational bout. Victoria pinned Molly Holly in what was said to have been a good match. In what was said to have been an excellent bout, WWE Cruiserweight champion Paul London & Nunzio & Funaki defeated Billy Kidman & Akio & Spike Dudley. They hour finished with John Cena cutting a promo inside the ring, then running around in the street through the crowd, which apparently drove security crazy trying to keep up with it.

NOT AT WRESTLEMANIA, BUT HART STILL DRAWS: An appearance by former WWF and WCW World champion Bret Hart drew an estimated 700 fans to Rob Van Dam's Five Star Comics in Lakewood, California, just a few minutes outside of Los Angeles on Saturday 4/2.  The crowd stretched outside the mall and swung around the corner, doubling back with fans paying $40 (or $80 for a VIP ticket) an autograph to meet Hart. Van Dam also appeared at the signing, entering the mall with Hart.  Hart had agreed to make a rare signing appearance for Van Dam several months back with Rob planning for Wrestlemania weekend in order to smartly take advantage of the out of town fans to increase foot traffic for his comic book and collectibles store. Van Dam's gut instincts proved correct, based on the sheer amount of fans who came out for the signing.

MANIA 21 THOUGHTS:

DAVE SCHERER (written April 6, 2001):  It's no secret that going into WrestleMania, I felt that the show didn't have the feel of the annual "Super Bowl Of Wrestling".  I had just felt that the show, while pretty loaded and probably the best that WWE could have done with what they had to work with, was just missing that special "it" factor.  Well, by the time it ended last night, WWE changed my mind and delivered a card worthy of being the annual spring spectacular.  There was so much amazing work in the ladder match and Angle vs. Michaels alone that it made the show a thumbs up just for those two bouts.  When you throw in the other good to great stuff from the early part of the show, it made this year's Mania a keeper.  The four hours largely whizzed by and the show delivered enough memorable moments to put it in the upper half of the company's best Mania efforts....Up until the last two matches, the show was largely outstanding. The only two things that stunk were the two things that you expected to stink.  I was thinking to myself that all they needed to do in the two title matches was deliver good bouts and this could easily be the PPV of the year. Well, a funny thing happened on the way to the double title change. They moved both belts and in each match, I didn't really care for the booking at all....The one who was really hurt last night was John Cena.  He was beaten from pillar to post by JBL, then scored a freak, way too fast victory.  It didn't do much for JBL either and, after having such a long title run, they took the strap off him in poor fashion.  They made him look weak, especially given all of the near falls in other matches on the show, that he was one and done to the FU.  They did Cena no favors in getting his title run off on a bad foot.  The HHH-Batista match started the same way, with The H dominating far too much of the action, but when Batista finally made his comeback, it got a lot better and it was good from that point on.  It was clear by the end of the show who the fans (and WWE) saw as the star and who was just the new champ of his brand....In the end though, there was more than enough on the show to make it a keeper.  It's worth seeing for the two matches I listed above alone.  In fact, when time permits, I am going go back and watch them both again, which is something I hardly ever do....And now, on to the show....Man, what a waste of time Heat was. They didn't air the Battle Royal, which is just downright wrong to me.  Heat was a waste of an hour. At this point, they are basically telling fans that aren't going to buy the show, "Don't watch Heat on PPV nights because we won't give you much". Not smart.....Lilian Garcia did an amazing job singing, once again. She has such a great voice. WWE is lucky to have her because she adds an element of class to shows when she sings.....I was really happy that they opened with Eddie and Rey. It was the perfect match with which to start the show and they had the expected good bout. These guys know each other so well that they were almost guaranteed to have a good match whenever they work, and given the amount of time that they had, they delivered. ... I liked that Rey won as it gives WWE more grist for the mill in the storyline between the WWE tag champs as he has beaten Eddie so many times now....Seeing the face off between Bradshaw and HHH in the back, I have to wonder why they are doing it, unless one is leaving their brand with the draft....The ladder match was a wild one, with tons of great/sick moments. It is an early match of the year candidate and it was excellent from start to finish. Those guys all took a ton of abuse and they all busted it big time in the ring. ... I loved Benjamin's running the ladder spot. That was so cool, as was a lot of the stuff that they did in this match. ... Speaking of which, Benoit's head butt off of the ladder, busting open his stitches in the process, was just epic stuff. ... This was just a fabulous match....After the Hall Of Fame last night, Hulk Hogan HAD to be on the PPV and he was used expertly. He didn't "wrestle" a match, yet he made an amazing appearance that created a great "WrestleMania moment" for everyone watching, and that is coming from someone who isn't a huge Hulkster fan. It was great stuff. ... The booking was perfect too because Hassan has still "not lost", not that there would have been any harm if he had. ... And, Hassan had to love every minute of working on WrestleMania with a legend.....Taker beating Randy Orton was a lot better match than I thought it would be, considering how bad Orton's shoulder is and how Taker hasn't been working as much lately. They had a really good bout, all things considered. ... Taker winning made sense when you consider that Orton is going to be on the shelf for a while after he has shoulder surgery. ... I LOVED that not only did Bob Orton get involved, but he did so wearing the cast. That was hilarious and awesome.  It was a great retro moment....Christy and Trish was exactly what I expected. Christy tried, but wasn't very good. Trish did all she could to make it entertaining. It wasn't good, but it could have been worse, and Trish deserves a ton of credit. ... That was one funky "wrestling" outfit that Trish has on. She looked like an exotic dancer with the suspenders and cuffs. ... They should have had Lita attack Christy just because with everyone saying Lita trained her, and her being so bad, well, Lita would have every right to do it!....After the ladder match, I wondered if Angle and Michaels would be able to kick it up another notch and have the match of the night. Dammit, they did. My God, what an amazing match that was. The work was stellar. The booking was amazing. The selling was off the charts. There were so many cool spots in this one that I don't want to even list any out of respect for the ones I would forget. If the show ended right here, it was probably worth the price alone.  If you didn't see this show, you should get the replay or the DVD just to see this match.  It was everything that made me love wrestling to begin with....The Piper's Pit segment was a lot of fun. It was the "blast from the past, part two" part of the night. ... Piper was hilarious playing off of the "whats". ... I don't get what Piper said about Austin though. He's the baddest, toughest guy in the WWE? Austin doesn't even wrestle any more. They weren't exactly the best words he could have used. ... You know Vince was ticked when Piper said "WWF" again. Then again, they had the Hall Of Fame footage on tape and they still aired it, so maybe he wasn't. ... The only thing I didn't like about the segment was that it continued "trash Carlito" week. I think the guy has too much potential to treat like that, but getting dusted by two legends won't kill him I guess....Man, there was WAY too much skin being shown in the Sumo match. Akebono, especially, was just disgusting. His upper body is just vile, and he doesn't even have big arms in relation to his size. Show had to love having him around because he looked great in comparison. I could have done without this match, for sure. It was the first thing on the show that I thought didn't belong and had no reason for being there. I don't know what they got out of having a worked Sumo match, which no one cared about being on the show.....The WWE Title match was odd. Buck and I were talking about how it was weird booking to have JBL trash Cena early and him not come back at all. I said they were doing it to build heat for the comeback. That is what they were thinking but jeez, the change came so fast it was almost like, "Did I just see that?" The crowd either felt the same way or just didn't care all that much. I hope it was the former. In any event, JBL did all that he could with the opportunity to be champ, but it was time to go in a new direction. The time is now for Cena.  They just should have booked a more exciting, brawling match to usher in his reign in a better fashion. ... As for the match, it was nothing special at all. In fact, it was disappointing and better than only the sumo and ladies match....And that left us with the main event. The booking, early on, was a lot like the match that preceded it, with the heel champ beating on the babyface challenger. HHH was in total control for the first 15 minutes, which made for a largely dull bout until Batista made his comeback. How anyone could sit in the back and miss how interesting Michaels and Angle was by having it go back and forth, and then book this match this way, is beyond me. I know H has to look strong and all, but to dominate that much of the match was just ridiculous, not to mention boring. It got better at the end, but it could have been a much better match if it wasn't so one-sided early on. The finish got over and the post match fireworks made Batista's win look big time, and Cena's pale in comparison. I really think they should have saved Cena's win for the next Smackdown PPV, where the audience would have been much more receptive to it and it wouldn't have had to compete with this match. ... That catapult spot on the floor probably seemed like a good idea at the time but it was fugly in execution. ... Jeez, did they let Motorhead play long enough or what? They got almost as much time as Cena and JBL did.

Mike: To me, this was the show where Batista came into his own against Triple H, where Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels set the standard for how good WWE could be in the ring with a classic even they never touched again, the rise of John Cena to the top tier (although the match was anything but memorable) and the debut of a Wrestlemania staple in Money in the Bank.  It was sad and weird to see Eddie Guerrero and Chris Benoit go from main events to the opening bouts within a year - even sadder given it was Guerrero's last Mania before his passing.  I loved the entire WWE spoofs Hollywood theme of this show.  Looking back, how bad did Big Show look in that diaper?  Overall, one of the better shows of the modern Mania era.  I loved the Hollywood theme of the show

Buck:  Mysterio vs. Guerrero was a solid opener, but it wasn't the show stealing match I thought it would be. ... The Money In The Bank became an instant Wrestlemania institution, as it was a great way to elevate a new title contender and also get several wrestlers on the show.  It also set up Edge as the "ultimate opportunist", a character he still portrays today. ... Undertaker vs. Randy Orton was solid, but predictable, since word had gone round that Orton was hurt and would be taking time off.  Plus the set up to the bout made Orton look like a moron, since he dumped Stacy Keibler to show how focused he was on Wrestlemania.  Stacy Keibler!!! ... Christy Hemme had no business being in the ring at Wrestlemania, and I felt bad for Trish Stratus have to try and carry the greenhorn. ... Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels lived up to the hype.  It was an instant classic, and we luckily got two more out of them before Angle left the company. ... Akebono vs. Show was a waste of time.  Thankfully, not a lot of time. ... John Cena vs. JBL was a total disappointment.  Their feud was so incredible, and this was supposed to be the big crescendo, and instead it was a 10 minute house show match. It was ridiculous they weren't given more time. ... Batista vs. Triple H was one of Batista's best bouts ever, and it really felt, at the time anyway, like a passing of the torch to Big Dave. 
 

WWE HALL OF FAME TV SPECIAL RECAP WITH PIPER AND HOGAN INDUCTIONS
by Buck Woodward  

WWE's Hall Of Fame Special opened with a graphic promoting the show as a "WWE 24/7 Original".  A black and white montage of classic moments involving past Hall Of Famers, as well as black and white footage of latter-day Gorilla Monsoon, Pat Paterson and Fred Blassie was shown, while a list of all the past inductees scrolled down the screen.  It then faded into color highlights of Hulk Hogan's career, with comments from Hogan inserted about how thankful he was for his wrestling career. 

They went to the Universal Amphitheatre in Los Angeles, where Jonathan Coachman (who was not seen on camera) introduced Cowboy Bob Orton, Nikolai Volkoff, The Iron Sheik (who got a big pop), Jimmy Hart (with megaphone), and Paul Orndorff.  All stood up for a brief ovation, and each already had their Hall Of Fame plaque, as Coachman announced they had been inducted earlier in the evening. Coachman then introduced, Mean Gene Okerlund, who began the induction of Rowdy Roddy Piper.

They went into a highlight reel on the career of Piper, voiced over by Michael Cole.  They talked about Piper's first match, losing a ten second bout to Larry Hennig for $25.  They went into his NWA and WWF highlights, focusing more on the 80's WWF material. They put over the Hogan-Piper rivalry, and credited it for the success of the first Wrestlemania.   They went into a package on Piper's Pit, showing a slew of classic clips.  They then had comments from director John Carpenter, and showed footage from "They Live", with Carpenter explaining how Piper contributed many of his lines in the movie from a book of lines and phrases for use in wrestling interviews. They talked about Piper being one of the most hated, then one of the most popular, stars of all time as the package ended.

After a commercial break, Ric Flair was introduced, and Flair shook hands with each of the previous inductees before going to the podium. 

Flair said that inducting Roddy Piper is one of the highlights of his career. He said he had spoken to Piper before the show, and he was reminded that there are three people you never try to verbally joust with, Arn Anderson, Bobby Heenan (who was shown on the stage) and Piper. Flair said the WWE Hall Of Fame is bigger than Canton, the NBA or anything else, and credited the fans for making what they do special.

Flair joked that because of Hogan, Orton, Orndorff and others being inducted tonight, he was the only other one "still alive" that ran with Piper and could induct him. Flair said Piper was "the most gifted entertainer in the busines,s bar none" and that Jim Carrey has to be a Roddy Piper mark, saying a lot of his mannerism came from Piper. Flair said that Piper was a man that made the audience "scream, cry, laugh, and riotous".  Flair then related a story of how Brian Knobs once tried to "put Piper to bed" (out drink him) and ended up in the hospital. 

Piper was then introduced, and after a commercial, Piper's acceptance speech was shown.  A "Rowdy" chant broke out. Piper said that after spending two years on the road with Ric Flair, he had to go spend time with Dr. Ruth and Betty Ford. Piper asked if HBO was in attendance, making reference to the "Real Sports" interview that ended his last WWE run.  Piper talked about his career, and refereed to his small stature as a 15 year old starting in wrestling. Piper said the first world record he ever held was for "Shortest Match In Winnipeg Arena" for his debut loss to Hennig. Piper said it wasn't the 25 dollars (Canadian he pointed out) that he received, it was that he was initiated that night into a group of "the finest men and ladies" and that they accepted him into the family of wrestling. Piper made a self-effacing comment about not being as big a movie star as Sylvester Stallone, but said they both beat up Mr. T and fought Thunderlips.  Piper talked about Hogan, calling him "Sybil Hogan" in reference to his Hulk/Hollywood name and persona changes. Piper commented that he took some "serious vitamins" but never come looked like Hogan.  Piper admitted to even being a little jealous of Hogan. Piper said WWF (and he did say WWF, then WWE) gave him the financial whereabouts to have a family of his own. Piper put over his family in attendance, and said he had them because of his wrestling family. Piper ended his speech by mentioning Wrestlemania XXI tomorrow and stating we "ain't seen nothing yet". Piper then hugged the other inductees as they went to break.

Back from commercial, they aired the highlight package on Hulk Hogan, with comments from Shawn Michaels and John Cena putting over his accomplishments. Vince McMahon talked about Hulkamania meaning so much to people.  Eric Bischoff praised Hogan, as a slew of his Wrestlemania highlights were shown. Vince said there's no one who can touch him in stature. Actor Will Sasso, Bob Costas, Bobby Heenan, Jimmy Hart, Arnold Schwarzengger, all praised Hogan.  A slew of his interview clips and TV clips from commercials, and talk shows were aired.  Ric Flair praised Hogan, leading to a Rocky III clip. Interesting to note, they then showed an interview from the 80's where Hogan said that when his time was up, there would be a "Little Hulkster" ready to take over.  Triple H said Hogan put the business on the map, then there was a montage of current stars doing the classic Hogan "hand to the ear" pose.  Bobby Heenan called him "the greatest attraction ever" and Vince McMahon compared him to Babe Ruth in baseball as someone that people will always remember.

After a commercial break, Sylvester Stallone, coming out the the Rocky theme, was introduced.  There was a "Rocky" chant from the crowd. Stallone said that Terry Funk got him into wrestling, and he remembered when Hulk was short, shy, and had a with a "proceeding hairline".  Stallone talked about working with him at Rocky III, and how Hogan hit so hard. Stallone claimed that "four and a half stuntmen" ended up in intensive care working with him. Stallone said Hogan was brilliant and came along one in a lifetime.  Stallone thanked wrestling, Vince McMahon, and Hulk Hogan for making him better than he is. Stallone said Hogan "set the bar high", and that it was only going to get higher.  He then brought out Hulk Hogan.

"Real American" played, and Hogan came out. Hogan did the hand to ear pose, and the cheers got louder.  Hogan hugged Stallone, then prompted more cheers as they went to commercial.

After the break, there was a big "Hogan" chant.  The ovation went on for a two minutes, then a "Hogan" chant erupted again.  Another standing ovation. Another Hogan chant. A third standing ovation.  Hogan took the opportunity to go hug all the other Hall Of Famers. Paul Orndorff wouldn't stand up, so Hogan went over and kissed him on the head, and Orndorff broke into a smile.  The ovations and chanting continued.  Big Show was shown in the crowd in tears as he applauded Hogan (for those that don't remember, Big Show debuted in WCW as the Giant, and had his first match with Hogan).  A Hogan chant again.  A "Thank You Hogan" chant started. Five minutes of cheering now. A "Hogan" chant again as he tried to speak. Hogan was visibly moved by the reaction.

Finally, Hogan began his speech with a joke that "if you're on last, you don't want to miss room service".  Hogan said "he finally made it" in reference to the Hall Of Fame.  Hogan said that when he watches WWE today, he wonders how it all went by so fast, and what would have happened if he hadn't gone into wrestling.  A "One More Match" chant started. A brief "Hogan-Austin" chant started. Hogan stumbled over his words, and admitted he was having trouble talking.  Another "Hogan" chant broke out.  Hogan thanked Stallone for "not holding a grudge" after 23 years, referring to him hitting hard on the set. Hogan then said he can't wait to watch Wrestlemania tomorrow, and a huge "One More Match" chant started up again.  Hogan said that two things matter in wrestling, "money and miles" and that you "never say never" which prompted a huge ovation. Hogan said he was going to live vicariously through the wrestlers in the ring tomorrow.  Hogan said by being inducted into the Hall Of Fame, Hulkamania is immortal, and "What'cha gonna do when the WWE runs wild on you". 

Confetti cannons then shot out and Hogan went and shook hands with Orndorff, Orton, and Hart as the show ended. 

Interesting notes:

- Not ONE Wrestlemania XXI commercial aired on the show.

- WWE stars were shown sitting in the front rows throughout the show.  The middle of the first row had, from left to right, Kurt Angle, John Cena, Trish Stratus, Steve Austin, Shane McMahon, Marissa McMahon, Linda McMahon, Stephanie McMahon, and Triple H. 

LIVE NOTES FROM THE HALL OF FAME CEREMONY

Mike Regan sent this along. ... I just got back from the WWE Hall of Fame event. And, I honestly have to say that it was a great event and very worthwhile for a long time wrestling fan like myself. The inductees, were all favorites of mine at one point or another. Piper, Hogan, Orndorff, Hart, Volkoff, Iron Sheik and Cowboy Bob Orton. 

The first person who was inducted in the ceremony was Cowboy Bob Orton. Randy Orton inducted him and it was a nice touch for him to do so. Bob Orton Sr., Randy Orton's grandfather, was in attendance as well. Interestingly enough, The Undertaker was not in attendance at the event. 

It seemed like that pretty much everyone was there from the WWE. Also attending were Hall Of Famers. Greg Valentine, Superstar Billy Graham and Fabulous Moolah were there sitting alongside the WWE Superstars up front.

Next up was Nikolai Volkoff. Good Old Jim Ross inducted him. It was interesting for them to talk about how Volkoff actually hated communism and that it was Freddie Blassie who told him that the best way to fight Communism was for him to show how evil it was. They went on to say that with the Berlin Wall finally coming down, Volkoff had a chance to end his career as a baby face by teaming with Hacksaw Duggan. 

Next up was the Iron Sheik, inducted by Sgt. Slaughter. Sgt Slaughter asked a question during his speech on how should he induct someone who was his arch enemy and give that arch enemy an award that he (Slaughter) had bled and nearly died for, and he responded "with honor and dignity". Once the Iron Sheik got to the mic, he was pure gold, talking about his amateur wrestling career and other amateur wrestlers careers. His speech will definitely be a highlight on the eventual DVD that WWE will release. However, I do recommend that they do subtitles because at times it was difficult to understand him.

Next up was Bobby the Brain Heenan, inducting Paul "Mr. Wonderful" Orndorff. Like last year, Bobby Heenan was pure gold. Mr. Wonderful is a long time childhood favorite of mine and it was great to hear him say that he forgave the fans for throwing golf balls at him and darts, and that he was sorry for hitting a 70 year-old man. 

I won't go into the details on Piper and Hogan induction since you have already seen that, but after the show went off the air, Hogan's wife and family came to the stage and along with the WWE, presented Hogan with a huge portrait enshrined with his Hulkamania gear. It was a great experience to see and hear the crowd get behind Hogan. He still has it.  After tonight, Hulkamania will live forever.

Mike Johnson called in from Los Angeles with some notes from last night's Hall of Fame ceremonies.

Vince McMahon was at the show, but stayed backstage all night.  He worked backstage last year as well, but came out at the end of the show to salute the workers.  He didn't do so this year.

The workers all entered the show in something of a processional.  As you probably saw on TV, Triple H was with his wife, Stephanie McMahon-Levesque.  Shane McMahon was with his wife Marissa and Linda McMahon was with them as well.  Pat Patterson was at the show, as was Freddie Blassie's widow.  Jason Hervey, the often partner of Eric Bischoff in ventures in the entertainment industry, was there as well.  Most of the workers had their families there.  Gail Kim, who is engaged to one of the Bashams, was there as well.

Carol sent this one. ... The section I was sitting in (right behind the board) had a LOT of empty seats. I gather we never made it on TV because of our position.

One thing I noticed was that there was a LOT of heckling. However, when Piper was speaking you could almost hear a pin drop for parts of it. I'm not sure what that meant, but he was the one I looked most forward to seeing inducted.

At the end, the guy who shouted "Hogan sucks" was sitting right next to me...it was frightening to see the crowd react to that. He'd had quite a bit to drink though.

I was amused by Piper asking if HBO was there, but I was also amused at Flair saying there was "no robe" when he described a plane flight he'd taken with Piper.

Overall, it was a great time.

Michael Fischmann sent this in ... Well, so much for the WWE's reputation as being such intelligent marketers. For a long time, people I know have told me WWE has become so big because they had the geographical advantage over the Charlotte and Minneapolis and St. Louis and Dallas based groups, amongst others. Also, Vince and Linda built a staff of professionals who capitalized on promoting and booking arenas the right way when business got hot. Now that they are the sole survivors, since TNA doesn't really pose any threat whatsoever, it's just your only source of professional wrestling on a major scale.

I never agreed with most of these opinions, but after my experience last night, I am inclined to agree.
 
I attended the WWE Hall of Fame ceremony live and then watched the special on Spike TV. A jaw-dropping experience to say the least. First of all, the entire night was built around Hogan and Piper to the degree that everyone else came off second class. Same way, now that I think about it, the Smackdown Title is second class when JR and Jerry ''The King" Lawler keep calling the World Title Match at WrestleMania "the real main event" and how the JBL vs. Cena match is sandwiched in between two preliminary matches when they run down the card. Volkoff was lucky to be there. Orton seemed really moved to be inducted, and Orndorff was clearly and visibly unhappy with the way he was presented as the "B" team inductee and the crowd's obvious lack of respect for all things not Hogan, Piper, and Flair. You can really see Orndorff's displeasure when Hogan went around and hugged everyone. Orndorff must have realized how much he's been pushed aside in history by WWE. When they do those videos at the start of the TV tapings, he's treated like Wendi Richter and all other characters from the era, not a real legend.
 
Flair was great live, but this is where the WWE production team shows how despite their sterling reputation, they aren't as bright as people make them out to be. When I watched this back on TV, Flair came off like an old man who had taken too many chair shots. He was edited all wrong. They just cut his promo with no rhyme or reason, going from one story to the middle of another. It was terrible, simply terrible.

Piper was Piper, he was entertaining for a while but his act gets old quickly. I don't think Rowdy Roddy Piper plays well in 2005. Bobby Heenan is a fantastic babyface, and plays well. Piper does not. Jimmy Hart is fun, but comes off like a novelty act. I wish Paul Heyman or Terry Funk were there, because they know how to transpire to the modern audience.  

Stallone came out thinking he'd be the biggest star, but he was booed and got out of there quickly. The crowd did the "what" chants and booed the Ortons and chanted "Rest In Peace" at both Ortons. But when you set this evening up the way WWE set it up, and not set it up as a night of really honoring these stars like last year in New York, how could they possibly be surprised? 

Hogan owned the crowd, and really showed his mastery on stage. When the fans chanted one more match, Hogan glanced over at Stone Cold Steve Austin, which prompted a "Hogan-Austin" chant. Hogan knew how to milk everything from the crowd that he wanted, and came off like a star over and above everyone else in the house.

Hall of Fame ratings:

The Hall of Fame special on 4/2 did 1.3 cable rating, with a 2.6 share.

The replay of the Hall of Fame on 4/3 did a 0.6 cable rating, with a 1.3 share.


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