The X-Factor: WrestleMania (2002 – 2005)-An aggressively ruthless time

How did they follow up the Attitude Era? The greatest WrestleMania ever? Buying WCW? The short answer is…they tried, with varying degrees of success.

Among other things, they had to “Get the ‘F’ out.”

The arrivals of Brock Lesnar, Randy Orton, Shelton Benjamin, Batista, and John Cena heralded real change in the business. There was also a jump in match quality, in no small part to the Smackdown Six.

Yet, it isn’t the rosiest time. All those stars that weren’t pushed right or were just pushed wrong. 

The less said about Katie Vick, HLA, Scott Steiner, and that Canadian the better. The “Reign of Terror” wasn’t much to smile about either.

We can’t help but find it laughable that Vince McMahon wishes he’d never gone through with the Monday Night Wars. That whole period saved the business, but as we know, he’s not one to learn from his mistakes or admit his wrongdoings.

WrestleMania X8

Funny story. I couldn’t start watching until just before Austin vs. Hall because of my cable company screwing up. Good thing they had encores.

Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock is the spiritual sequel to one of the greatest main events ever. I spend WrestleMania season watching my favorite ‘Mania matches. I’ll usually do Hogan’s matches in Skydome back to back.

Hogan and The Rock had the Toronto fans buzzing just by having a stare down. You just can’t top that!

WrestleMania XIX

It only did 560,000 buys. That’s a 35% drop from X8. Just once, I would love to see them defend that.

The racist comments from Ric Flair and Triple H all but guaranteed that Booker T would take them big Gold belt and shut them up. Instead, we saw Triple H waiting 23 seconds before making the cover.

Shawn Michaels’ return to WrestleMania gave Chris Jericho his greatest match at the event and helping him wipe away the stink of X8. Y2J lost, but low-blowed Michaels and left Seattle with a ton of heat. 

Stone Cold Steve Austin wasn’t letting his career end with the walkout. The ‘OMR’ on his vest meant ‘One More Round’ and he wanted it against his greatest opponent.

Even as a heel, The Rock isn’t someone you can outright loathe. He’s the best promo man in the business.

Deep down, we knew Austin was finished due to how Jim Ross spoke of him after the match ended. I learned a few years later that Rock told him he loved him after it was over. 

WrestleMania XX 

A five-star main event that will be forever stained. It’s a damn shame. 

John Cena defeated the Big Show for the US Championship. Trish Stratus turned heel and cost Chris Jericho his match against Christian. It was part of an angle where the two made a bet about sleeping with Trish and Lita. They only bet one Canadian dollar. Hmm.

My personal favorite was The Rock and Mick Foley against Randy Orton, Batista, and Ric Flair. A decent battle that gave Evolution the torch.

Except for Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle, the rest of the card doesn’t really hold up. You’ve probably guessed which contest was the worst.

Lesnar was drinking and popping pills to cope with the heavy schedule. Had an injured Triple H done the right thing at SummerSlam ’03 then Goldberg might’ve stayed. You can always count on the New York fans to be grateful.

I liked Undertaker’s biker gimmick, but they just couldn’t let the Dead Man stay buried.

WrestleMania 21

Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle was a classic. No question. This was also the year they stopped treating the Streak like a trivia fact.

For the Attitude Era it was XIV. For the Ruthless Aggression era, it was Hollywood. The “Reign of Terror” finally ended here with Batista and John Cena reaching the top.

Final thoughts

Despite the bad, the Ruthless Aggression era still brought some good. 

2005 was not a year I care to remember much. Among other things, we all felt the loss of Eddie Guerrero. 

It was 2006 that helped me love the business all over again.

Don’t mess with the X.