The X-Factor: WrestleMania – A post-Attitude world

How did they follow up the Attitude Era? The greatest WrestleMania ever? 

If I had the choice between guaranteed money or potentially getting buried in the InVasion, I probably would’ve stayed home too. Diamond Dallas Page took the buyout and the Undertaker let him know how little he appreciated it.

Stone Cold’s paranoid heel run, Chris Jericho’s Undisputed title reign, and the nWo relaunch didn’t help matters. They also had to “Get the ‘F’ out.” How could they move forward?

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. The less said about Katie Vick, HLA, and Scott Steiner, the better. 

Triple H’s jerkass periods are very well documented. The “Reign of Terror” is no exception. That is how he followed up the best period of his career after coming back from the quad tear. He was never “The man” like The Rock and John Cena, no matter how much he tried to convince fans otherwise.

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 have 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!

Chris Jericho deserved better than to be made a third wheel in the one time he closed WrestleMania. Blame the bosses daughter for 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.

As if we needed more proof. The racist comments from Ric Flair and Triple H all but guaranteed that Booker T would take the World Heavyweight title 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 walked out, but he wasn’t letting his career end that way. His body could only handle so much. 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 marred. It’s a damn shame.

It can be said that this is where John Cena’s rise began when he 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 match was The Rock and Mick Foley against Randy Orton, Batista, and Ric Flair. A decent battle with an abrupt RKO on Mick to end it. Evolution got the torch. Mick Foley was no loser in MSG.

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.

The Undertaker’s return as the Dead Man was a huge selling point. The buildup was just so damn good. Too bad his match with Kane sucked.

WrestleMania 21

This was the year the Undertaker’s Streak became a focal point of the show.

Shawn Michaels vs. Kurt Angle was a classic. We don’t need Meltzer to tell us it’s 5 stars.

When he won the WWE title by beating JBL, it should’ve been John Cena’s crowning moment. It just didn’t feel that way. Ditching the rapper gimmick caused him to lose fans. There were some fans thinking he wasn’t meant to be a main eventer.

If only we knew.

Final thoughts

Many of us have fond memories of the Ruthless Aggression era. Despite the bad, it 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. Why? That’s for my next entry.

Don’t mess with the X.