The X-Factor: WrestleMania-The rise of Cena
Submitted by Victor Mariscal on 03/28/2019 at 04:51 PM

You think the war on fans began in 2014? It started far sooner than that.

A mixed reaction wasn’t a new phenomenon at the time, as cities like NYC, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Toronto are known for being anti-establishment. While there was happiness at JBL dropping the WWE Championship to John Cena, it would give away to a feeling among smart fans that he hadn’t quite earned his main-event stripes.

It was Triple H outright deriding him as “not a very good wrestler”. Right, that’s why Cena tore the house down as much as he did. Someone was projecting.

The polarization also gave way to rampant hypocrisy. One year they chanted “you screwed Matt” towards Edge at ECW One Night Stand. At the sequel in 2006, it was “Thank you Edge” when he cost Cena the WWE Championship. All this talk about clean wins, where was it that time? Oh right: “it’s ok because we hate John Cena and he sucks”.

Cena became their franchise player in spite of it all. These were the years WrestleMania had evolved into the spectacle it is now. He was a huge part of it.

Kids need heroes too.

WrestleMania 22
“I want you, to watch this! I’m gonna knock your teeth, DOWN, YOUR, THROAT!” 

It was talk of Montreal that started it. HBK told Vince it was time to move on. That statement was more for Bret than anyone else.

With a ladder, HBK elbows Vinnie Mac through a trash can and a table, throwing in a DX chop. The Sweet Chin Music that followed was probably my favorite. We could’ve done without Michaels taking his damn sweet time setting up the elbow spot.

The other best part was Jim Ross having the time of his life calling the match. The things he said when the Spirit Squad hit the ring? Priceless!

Mickie James vs. Trish Stratus was a damn fine women’s match, even with that horrible botch at the end. If you’ve only watched it on the WWE Network, here’s what else they cut out: right after Mickie grabs Trish crotch, she forms a ‘V’ with her hand and licks it. Probably lives as a clip on YouTube. Yeah, Vinnie Mac gave her a good chewing out later.

The match of the night was Mick Foley vs. Edge. A barbed-wire bat, thumbtacks, a spear through a flaming table, and this happened AFTER the Attitude Era.

“Suplex City” was coined four years ago, but Tazz said the same phrase when Kurt Angle was suplexing like crazy during the World title match. You’d have to be as over as Brock to make a phrase a money magnet.

I marked out hard when Rey Mysterio got the World title, but so did Michael Cole, who sounded greater than usual since Vince was busy resting backstage. Every time I re-watch it I still get emotional.

That was for Eddie.

WrestleMania 23
It achieved the highest buyrate in ‘Mania history and a big reason why is sitting in the White House right now. I was in the arena in Phoenix when Stone Cold Steve Austin hit the ring as the guest referee.

The rest of the card was ok. The Money in the Bank match was one of my favorites with its unique spots. Undertaker vs. Batista was a surprise hit and one of the best big-man matches ever.

This was the year he became “Big match John”.

The WWE title match had one of the best vignettes ever. Both Shawn Michaels and John Cena impressed big time. Also, the both of them were tag champs heading into Detroit.

A piledriver? I didn’t think Cena would’ve kicked out after that, but he did.

I’m not one to wish injury on people, but Triple H blowing out his right quad did Cena a favor. Triple H was gonna get his win back from ‘Mania 22. No one needed it, and putting HBK in his place paid off big time.

WrestleMania XXIV
“I’m sorry. I love you.”

HBK raised his leg, but he didn’t stomp it. We knew it was the end. It was killing Shawn knowing what it would do, but not doing it would be dishonorable. Ric Flair had stood up, telling Shawn to do it.

In that moment, he really was the Heartbreak Kid.

There’s no shortage of emotional moments at WrestleMania: Savage and Elizabeth’s reunion; Hogan and Warrior’s hug; Rey’s World title win; Shawn’s boyhood dream coming true; and Flair’s loss. He went down fighting, living up to his rep as a dirty player to the end.

Another great MITB ladder match, and this time it was CM Punk taking the briefcase. The triple threat with John Cena, Triple H and Randy Orton was also good. Floyd Mayweather’s match with Big Show went a little better than I thought it would.

It marked the Undertaker’s 16th straight ‘Mania win and Edge’s only time headlining WrestleMania.

WrestleMania XXV
“I just had an out of body experience!!!”

In 2005, the Streak became a focal point for the Showcase of the Immortals, but did anyone ever expect this!? If I ever meet Shawn Michaels or Undertaker, I will shake their hands and thank them for this. 

When The Undertaker did his signature dive, I thought he broke his neck. Thankfully he had the presence of mind to tuck and roll, kind of. 

Then came the second part: the chokeslam, then Sweet Chin Music, the Last Ride, and then the Tombstone. Michaels kicked out. Priceless look on ‘Taker’s face. Another superkick, and Taker kicks out!! Then comes the moonsault. Taker catches him perfectly, then a Tombstone, and it’s 17-0!!

“So I heard there was a pay per view at the Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker match.” Oh, there were other talking points.

We nearly got a match between Mickey Rourke and Chris Jericho. What we got in its place was more satisfying.

I couldn’t believe Ricky Steamboat still had it. 

You know Triple H, you would think that after X8, you would know better. Also, his rivalry with Randy Orton was so intensely personal but the payoff wasn’t anywhere near a representation of it. No Holds Barred was the easy way, and instead Triple H could lose the WWE title by DQ.

Yeah, he’s so good at politicking but didn’t have the presence of mind to call bullshit on his match.

Final thoughts
If we’re getting technical, I’m a smark. That means I’m a ‘smart’ fan who still marks out. Many of the smart fans deride the marks because they root for the stars they wouldn’t: Cena, Nikki, Roman, Brock, etc.

Don’t look down on the marks. We all started out that way. We’re all supposed to be fans in the end. Don’t be so salty.

Don’t mess with the X.

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