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The 7 - Guest Columns - WrestleMania 20 Arena Report: Live from MSG!
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#1 Posted on 15.3.04 1757.13
Reposted on: 15.3.11 1757.13
I got my ticket for Section 408, Row A about half a year ago from the internet pre-sale. Much thanks again to the Wiener who put the password on this board. Since that time I have watched less and less wrestling. Sadly enough I’ve watched more hours of Sesame Street than the WWE. I can’t tell you much about the WWE storylines, but I can tell you that Big Bird and Ernie make a great tag-team, Baby Bear is getting an undeserved monster push, Oscar is getting phased out as a heel, and Mr. Noodle deserves much of the credit for Elmo’s World.

This week I was playing catchup. I tried to force myself to sit through 4 hours of Raw and Smackdown. I lasted an hour and a half into Raw before the cheap rollup losses for Jericho and Booker T caused me to lose interest. The other matches were all boring except for Benoit who can make even a 2 minute squash match look good. I made it though most of Smackdown, which is still a better show than Raw. From the ending of Smackdown, I would’ve assumed that Austin vs. Lesnar was Mania’s main event. All of the buildup was devoid of Golberg. It’s as if Goldberg is nothing more than Austin’s proxy.

I spent time on Saturday night thinking about how I could’ve tweaked the card to make better matches. It would have taken only a few minor adjustments. The first is to take HBK out of the main event. A Benoit/Triple H title match has enough interest on its own. Too many characters muddles the story like in WM2000. (Or Batman 3 where they introduced the Riddler and Two-Face and Robin in the same movie. Then they miscast Tommy Lee Jones as Handsome Harvey.) With HBK the story becomes about his never-ending feud with Triple H. The story should be about Benoit’s career and how he deserves the title after all his hard work. If you had to use HBK, I’d put him against John Cena or something like that.

My next change is to take Austin out of the Goldberg/Lesnar match altogether. His presence overshadows both wrestlers. Austin has more star power than the both of them combined. It isn’t fair to expect either of them to reach Austin’s level of popularity in this era. I would’ve put Austin in the Rock ‘N Sock connection against Evolution. Or just put him against Lesnar in a street fight since that is what they are building to anyway.

By Sunday morning I was pumped. Not as much as I was pumped for my upcoming Fantasy Baseball draft, but going to Wrestlemania comes in a close second. I spent the morning making my sign. Remember I’m sitting in Row A. I have the wall beneath me so I don’t have to worry about obscuring anyone’s view. My sign was the best sign I’ve seen all night by far. It was a combination of 3 posterboards in the pyramid shape of an eye-chart. It read, “U CNT C-ME!” It looked more like this:


It was for Cena and would only be applicable the first 10 minutes of Wrestlemania. But, it also was true because I was sitting so far in the back that nobody watching TV could see me. However I must say that I had a great view of the action. I’d seen many Knick games from here and there is hardly a bad seat at MSG. Except maybe near the back of the entrance curtain, but that’s because of the production set-up.

I showed up at the Garden at 7:10. I didn’t have to wait in any line to get in. The indoor temperature was a stark contrast to the cold outside. It may have been all of the fireworks, but inside it felt like a sauna. I was just in time for the opening match. The first match was John Cena vs. the Big Show. The match placement didn’t surprise me because the IC title match used to open Mania all the time. I was confused by Smackdown hyping Big Show’s MSG success. If he really did beat the Rock and Hogan at MSG, I didn’t see it. Since that title isn’t defended tonight, the US title is close enough. Cena got a good pop, but it could’ve been for him being the fist face of the night or his having the explicit lyrics. I liked the match and was impressed by the two FUs.

Orton’s promo was boring and repeated the same Evolution mantra I heard on Raw.

The next match was for the Raw tag team titles. The crowd wasn’t into this match. The Dudleys were not that popular. They crowd used the typical “we want tables” chant, but turned on the Dudleys once they didn’t get the tables. There weren’t any Booker T chants and only a miniscule RVD chant. RVD’s not nearly as over as he used to be. Still the crowd was happy that the most over team won this match.

The next match was Jericho vs. Christian. The crowd was a little bit into it. The “Y2J” chants were there, but less so than in the past. Sadly, Christian now has sucky music jsut like everyone else. This match had some great wrestling moves: two backdrops to the floor, a shining wizard, a top rope double-arm suplex, and an elevated DDT. It seems many people preferred Jericho before Trish had him whipped. The Trish turn was this year’s big Mania Turn. It didn’t look too convincing to me. I think she could’ve been more stiff with Jericho. I don’t know if this turn will last. I wanted to see an Edge return instead.

The first big match was Evolution vs. the Rock ‘N Sock Connection. I liked the Rock being included in this match. If it were just Foley vs. Orton, it wouldn’t be one of the night’s top 5 matches. During the pre-match promos, the chants for the Rock were much greater than those for Foley. People like chanting along with Rock’s catchphrases. The Rock’s entrance had everyone on their feet. Flair was wearing a nice sparkling robe. That is how you are supposed to dress up for Wrestlemania. The other guys can learn from Flair’s example on how to dress. I was surprised that Flair was so popular. He was easily the most popular heel of the night. When Flair went for a people’s elbow, the crowd was electrifying. Orton’s finish also got a good pop. I’d rather Evolution had a new team finisher with Batista lifting the opponent in a press slam and Orton following up with a TKO. It would be somewhat like the 3D, but better than the diamond-cutter. The loss was somewhat surprising, because it could’ve gone either way.

At this point I knew there’d be a cooldown, so I went for a food and bathroom break. It is easy to avoid the lines for food when you go one level below the top floor. The Hall of Fame ceremony that I heard was good. I feel very old because I was watching almost all of these guys in their prime. Except for Jessie, he was an announcer when I started watching.

The evening gown match should’ve been called a Bra & Panties match because that’s what it was. That’s what a women’s match should be all about pure T&A. I could see them jiggling from all the way in the back. It delivered what was promised without having to suffer a naked Mae Young. It was a great match for what it was. I’ll give it four stars even though it was too short.

The next match was the cruiserweights and I’ll also give it four stars even though it was too short. I liked Kidman, Noble, and Rey. The match had lots of high spots: Kidman’s top rope Shooting Star Press, his top rope Sky High, Rey’s top rope sunset flip type move. I like Rey’s Flash costume. In other events he’s used costumes for Spiderman and Daredevil. Hellboy may be next. Chavo didn’t do much until the ending. From what he was saying on Smackdown I thought he’d have to fight all 8 guys. He really only fought one.

The Lesnar vs. Goldberg match had the most intense crowd reaction ever. This is one fickle crowd. These are the same folks that forced a Brock face turn in the first place. For Goldberg’s entrance the “Gold-berg” chants was the biggest chant of the night. None of it was piped in. The beginning was just like Rock/Hogan at WM18, only this time the fans shit all over it.

One thing I want to say is that people who post spoilers are assholes. Posting news/gossip that Brock is gone counts as a spoiler. Even if you believe it to be true, you shouldn’t ruin Wrestlemania for other people. I think this news lowered the buyrate and killed this match. I take this story with a grain of salt. I remember just a year ago everyone said that it was Angle’s last match ever. Even if Brock does try out for the NFL, there is no guarantee. It’s not like WCW where you could collect millions for sitting on your but at home. Even if he passes the NFL drug testing, there is no guarantee he’ll last in the NFL. I say he’ll be back in a year.

All of the Canadian “TWO” counts told me right from the start that this was a smarky crowd than I’m used to. Thankfully we are over the “What!” chants. The opening “Na-Na-Na-Na Hey-Hey-Hey Goodbye!” chant was louder than anything. You guys could’ve at least waited until after the match. It felt like Brock just picked up his sixth foul. What were the “You Sold Out” chants for? I seriously doubt the NFL will pay Brock more than the WWE. Also what is with the “this match sucks” chant? Did anyone honestly think the next 2 matches would be any better? What about the Undertaker/Kane match? As for the “We want Hogan” chant - How can you blame these guys that Hogan isn’t there? I’ll say Hogan was the only former star whose absence was truly missed.

I’m a fan of Goldberg and I thought he deserved better. He had a nice press slam and Brock is a big guy to slam. Instead he is booked like an Austin wannabe and he can’t measure up to the real thing. Can anyone honestly tell me that they wouldn’t pay $30 for a Goldberg/Benoit main event PPV? Or $35 for a Goldberg/Austin match? I liked the very ending. I don’t know if it came through on TV, but it was right after Goldberg recovered from being stunned. He stared at Austin, crushed a beer can against his head, and let out a primal growl. It was great.

The Smackdown tag match was bad and boring. I had no teams that I like. Rikishi and Scotty got to do their dance, but the Worm is supposed to be an offensive move, not a taunt.

The only non-wrestling celebrity in attendance was Donald Trump. Only in NYC he is a heel, this explains the boos. On TV he is also a heel, but that is another story.

The promo for WM21 got huge boos because it is in LA and from our perspective LA sucks.

The Victoria vs. Molly Holly match was bad. I’ve already seen one women’s match tonight and without the T&A gimmick this one can’t live up to it. I also don’t think Victoria is as over a face as Trish or Lita. The guy next to me gave them a “You F’d Up” chant for the powerbomb. I said that’s not fair, that’s not a F-Up, it’s how they normally wrestle. Victoria won with some kinda rollup that may or may not be her finisher. I feel bad for Molly. She got a bad haircut. At least Brutus Beefcake would trim the hair first before bringing out the electric razor. That must’ve hurt. Besides, shaving your head is not a good career move for women. Just look at the careers of Sigorny Weaver and Demi Moore, after they lost their hair it was like Sampson. This haircut lasted forever too, just end it already.

With Eddie vs. Angle, you know you are going to get a very good match. This was what was expected, very good. I am very surprised that Eddie is the champion since he isn’t a “homegrown WWE superstar.” It is a pleasant surprise. Eddie had a nice reversal of the Angle slam and I was happy he won. The crowd was 50% pro-Angle and 50% against-Angle. The crowd chant of “Let’s Go Angle” was immediately followed by “Angle Sucks.” Eddie got cheers, but not at the level of Austin/Rock/Foley. It was more on the level of Cena, but still more than Eddie’s ever gotten before. The troubling thing is that a lot of the pro-Eddie chants were more a mockery than a chant. People were yelling out “Viva la Raza” in Speedy Gonzales voices.

In the setup for the Undertaker match, the MSG video feed was dead, so we talked about Kane’s other matches. It was decided that his match against Batista was the worst match of the year. Expectations were low for this one. The Undertaker had the best entrance ever. It was Paul Bearer followed by Druids followed by fire extinguishers. This match was all about his entrance. The match itself was no different from any of their 100 matches before, but the entrance and the Undertaker’s hat made it work. This is the Undertaker’s first Mania match at MSG and he is still undefeated at Mania.

For the main event, I didn’t like Benoit’s chances. Too many faces had won already. Eddie already won and had same underdog story. You guys are going to hate me, but I left early. I had a bus to catch and didn’t feel like sleeping overnight at the Port Authority. I purposely avoided reading WM news/spoilers/predictions. But, I also missed the important news that the time of the event had been extended. I’m happy with the result of Benoit winning. I would tell you what I heard about this match, but I didn’t hear much anticipation in the stands for it. Benoit wasn’t talked about at all during the other matches. Mostly people were just wondering what the Undertaker would look like.

Was it worth the $80 I paid for it. I’d say YES! Was it worth watching for $50 on TV? I’d also say YES! Will it be worth a $20 DVD? Once again an emphatic YES. Is the official WM20 shirt worth $25? Again, I’d say yes. It is a great shirt. On the front are Angle, Eddie, Benoit, Triple H, and HBK. On the back are all 20 WM logos with a list of the event cities. My favorite logo is the Hollywood style WM12 logo. Without a doubt, Wrestlemania 20 was one of the best Wrestlemanias ever.

Twenty years from now when I’m cleaning my closet I’ll come across my WM20 shirt. When I look at it I’ll remember the Brock/Goldberg heat, Taker’s old-school entrance, and Eddie and Benoit both winning the gold. Then I’ll put the shirt back on the hanger in its usual spot even though I know I’ll never wear it again.
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#2 Posted on 15.3.04 1909.16
Reposted on: 15.3.11 1909.38
(deleted by CRZ on 16.3.04 0929)
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#3 Posted on 15.3.04 2156.22
Reposted on: 15.3.11 2156.36
    Originally posted by skorpio17
    For the main event, I didn’t like Benoit’s chances. Too many faces had won already. Eddie already won and had same underdog story. You guys are going to hate me, but I left early. I had a bus to catch and didn’t feel like sleeping overnight at the Port Authority.

    Originally posted by skorpio17
    Twenty years from now when I’m cleaning my closet I’ll come across my WM20 shirt. When I look at it I’ll remember the Brock/Goldberg heat, Taker’s old-school entrance, and Eddie and Benoit both winning the gold. Then I’ll put the shirt back on the hanger in its usual spot even though I know I’ll never wear it again.

What will be your favorite moment from that Benoit match, anyway?

Also, how did you miss that it was going to be a five hour show?

(edited by Whitebacon on 15.3.04 2003)
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#4 Posted on 16.3.04 0926.56
Reposted on: 16.3.11 0927.41
It wasn’t a five hour show. It was four and a half. I was there for four hours. I missed a half hour. My other choice was to take a taxi home for $40-$50, but I didn’t want to spend the money.

I didn’t know how long it was, because I avoided the internet wrestling news. I wanted to be somewhat surprised by what happens. For example, the return of a big superstar has more of an impact if I don’t read about it first.

I think they only lengthened it to justify their price increase. They could’ve easily cut out a half hour of tag title matches and the women’s title match. The show wouldn’t have suffered at all.
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