Friday, March 23, 2012

Mania Memories: Cena Era Starts

The champ is here! (WWE)
By Kevin Hunsperger
@kevinhunsperger on Twitter

Despite the fact that Batista won the 2005 Royal Rumble and went on to defeat Triple H, John Cena emerged the voice the new generation of the WWE.  Cena was in the WWE championship match that night and beat JBL.  I didn't realize it at the time, but it was the changing of the guard.  While Triple H did make a couple of comebacks as champion, his days of dominating with the belt were essentially over.  And JBL never returned to past glory as Cena proved to be much too dominant.

We can argue until the cows come home on the issue, but that was seven years ago and John Cena is still the company's main attraction.  However, this year marks the FIRST Wrestlemania in his history of being on the show that he's not in a title match of some sort.   But I do believe his match with the Rock will likely close the show.  On paper, I think it's bigger than the other two title matches, just my opinion.

Overall I was impressed with the card.  This Wrestlemania featured the first (and in my opinion best) Money in the Bank ladder match.  Christian, Kane, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, and Edge all battled it out for the contract.  I was pulling for Benoit to win the match as I was disappointed his first title run ended so abruptly, but did was not to be.  Who knew that by Edge winning it would catapult him to the main event picture?  I enjoyed how the whole angle worked itself out as well.

HBK vs. Angle (WWE)
Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels stole the show though in my opinion.  But really, could you expect any less from the Olympic Gold Medalist and Mr. Wrestlemania?  Eddie Guerrero (in his last Wrestlemania) and Rey Mysterio opened the show on the right foot and laid the groundwork for the rest of the evening.  Props to all four of the competitors here.

This is also the Wrestlemania with the infamous Big Show-Akebono sumo match.  I think it's safe to say this is also the first Wrestlemania in the modern era to get the whole celebrity involvement in actual matches too.  Someone correct me if I'm wrong.  I know LT wrestled, but I think besides he and Mr. T no other celebs wrestled.  Again, I'm just going by a quick scan of my memory banks.

Austin stunners Piper
The Undertaker laid the Legend Killer Randy Orton to rest in what may have been the biggest threat to the Taker's streak at that point.  And because Bob Orton had been inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before, he was ringside with his son.  Speaking of the Hall of Fame, it was a strong class that year with major players from the first Mania getting inducted, including Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, Paul Orndorff, Orton, Iron Sheik, Nikoali Volkoff, Jimmy Hart.  Hogan made an appearance at Mania too, rescuing Eugene from Mohammad Hassan and Davari.  Piper had a special Pit with Stone Cold Steve Austin that ended with Carlito interrupting and getting stunnered.  Then the new Hall of Famer got one as well.

Again, this was a great show from my recollection of it.  It's been 7 years since I watched it, but the events of that night certainly changed the course of the future for the WWE.

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