WWF Wrestlemania 18
Returning to the Toronto Skydome after 12 years, there's no better way to start the show than Saliva doing a terrible live performance synced to the intro video. TUNE UP YOUR BASS, BITCH! This will be the last Wrestlemania event under the WWF banner, as the lawsuit with the other WWF would have the company renamed to WWE less than 2 months later.
Rob Van Dam vs William Regal WWF Intercontinental Championship
Oh weird, Regal opens the show against a guy he doesn't have a chance to match up with well for the title two years in a row? RVD just stands around waiting for Regal to pull out the brass knux so he can kick them away. Ref was watching, too. Regal gets his mouth/nose busted open about 90 seconds in. Because of course. Much of this is RVD kicking Regal in the face, and Regal dropping RVD on his neck. RVD recovers after a half nelson suplex to hit a kick to the face and frog splash for the win. New champion!
TO THE LILIAN. Is Christian afraid that lightning might strike twice when he challenges DDP for the European Championship? Of course not, dawg.
Christian vs DDP WWF European Championship
BANG! DDP actually made his WWF debut in this very building at this very event at Wrestlemania 6, driving the Honky Tonk Man to the ring in his pink Cadillac. Is there a worse way to be forever associated with Wrestlemania? It's possible this crowd is bigger than nearly every crowd combined DDP wrestled infront of in the 15 months of WCW. A pretty back and forth match with Christian mostly working the ribs. Oh shit, they did the Deathdrop/Diamond Cutter reversal spot. After multiple attempts, DDP finally hits the Kanyon Cutter OUTTA NOWHERE. Title retained.
TO THE COACH. FINALLY, The Rock has come back to...Toronto. To a very mixed reaction already. Mixed is being generous. The Rock wants Hulkamania running wild tonight because...never mind, time to make fun of Coach. Rock then forces Coach to say his prayers. "What up, G?" Rock kicks him out of frame. I wish I knew what this had to do with Hulk Hogan. "Hulk Hogan, whatcha gonna do when The Rock runs wild ON YOU?!?" Oh shit, YOU WILL YOU WILL GOD ALMIGHT YOU WILL SMELL WHAT THE ROCK IS COOKIN' *tears shirt*
Goldust vs Maven WWF Hardcore Championship
Poor Maven doesn't even make it into the ring before Goldy attacks. Shout out to Goldy's all gold weaponry. Both KO each other with trash can lid shots, leading to Spike Dudley sliding in to pin Maven. New champion! Crash Holly chases Spike away.
Drowning Pool come out to play a live version of Tear Away to tell the story of HHH vs Jericho. You'd think WWE would have hired actual music people for these performances. Tech people, I mean. It's obvious they have no idea how to do audio for music performances. They don't even have the audio from a sound board playing on the broadcast. Man, this song is terrible, but I'm pretty sure Bray Wyatt is lead singer.
TO THE BACK. Crash Holly catches up with Spike. Al Snow tries to run them over with a golf cart, crashing into a conveniently placed giant wall of empty cardboard boxes. Then Hurricane flies in OUTTA NOWHERE. New champion!
Kurt Angle vs Kane
Kurt could definitely be doing more than this, but it is what it is. Kurt hits Kane with the ring bell as Kane's pyro was still going off in the ring. Kane has had "head trauma" that he has yet to recover from. That's called a concussion, Jim, and no medical staff or commission should let Kane compete tonight. Fucking Canada. Is the Skydome actually an Indiana casino? Anyway, the focus is Kane's head. Lots of suplexes, punches, and stomps to the head. They're also both very stiff with each other. Kurt kicks out of the chokeslam via rope break, Kane kicks out of the Angle Slam and powers out of the ankle lock, only to lose to a roll up OUTTA NOWHERE (with feet on the ropes).
TO THE BACK. Hurricane sneaks around the locker room. He happens to find his way into the women's locker room, which leads to a boner joke and Godfather chasing him away.
Undertaker vs Ric Flair
A blood feud started after Ric Flair's temper got the best of him and he cost Undertaker the championship. Taker would then get his revenge by beating both Arn Anderson and David Flair to a pulp in forcing Flair into a match, also forcing him out of control of WWF in the process. It's been 10 years since Ric Flair has been on a Wrestlemania card. You know, I shit all over Flair/Vader matches for having Flair beat Vader's ass, but Flair coming in and surprising Taker with punches actually makes sense in such a blood feud. And with Flair going past past his prime into old timer with nothing left to lose. So many soup bones and hammocks thrown. Flair takes a nasty try at the Flair Flip, which didn't work at all. It worked the second time, as much as getting booted in the face after can work out. Both are busted open by punches. There are no wrestling moves in this. Just punches and chops and clothelines and boots. You know, like a fucking fight between two men that hate each other. And then, SUPERPLEX OUTTA NOWHERE. "You son of a bitch!" Taker has the match won multiple times, but refuses to end it. Fans are 100% on Flair's side and Taker is getting actual heat. Tides turn when Flair gets a pipe to crack Taker in the head, something that started this whole thing to begin with. #storytelling #fullcircle. Taker is now fully busted open as well. Taker counters a figure four with a chokeslam. Because wrestling lol. But Flair won't give up, and after a ref bump, ARN ANDERSON slides into the ring OUTTA NOWHERE to hit maybe the greatest spinebuster of his life. And Taker still kicks out in maybe the greatest false finish of Taker's career. What a great finish that would have been. But Taker then beats his ass. Double A hitting spinebusters, blading, and taking bumps at a WM in 2002. What a world. Taker simply can't get Flair up for the Last Ride for various reasons (mostly if not all Flair related), so he hits the tombstone to end the match instead. I feel like when people talk about the great Flair/Vader matches, this is actually what those matches should have been, and this is significantly better than those on every possible level. Undertaker is now 10-0 at WM.
TO THE COLE. Booker, in reading glasses, is the guest. Cutting a promo against Edge over a Japanese shampoo commercial. From blood feud to black man wearing glasses to seem smarter and saying dumb things. While being pissed about shampoo.
Booker T vs Edge
LMAO at the sign in the first few rows in big red letters: THEY ARE FIGHTING OVER SHAMPOO. Says it all. All that push Edge had for 2001, Booker headlining Summerslam with the Rock, all culminating to a WM match over shampoo. Worst of all, it's not impressive and the crowd doesn't give a shit. A sloppy match with plenty of botches. Like Booker landing on Edge after a super rana. Edge kicked out of the ax kick, Edge kicked out of the spear. Then Edge tried a spinarooni. Fuck Edge. Edgeucution DDT gets the duke.
TO THE BACK. Coach catches up with Hurricane, who is still trying to make his way out of the building. "I am not a Hurri-Perv." Mighty Molly shows up and cracks him in the head with a frying pan. New champion!
Scott Hall vs Steve Austin
The third option here, as Austin was originally going to face Hogan (no one would job), then Nash (no one trusted Nash to put on a good match), so Scott Hall is put into a position of responsibility for the first time in about 4 years. Of course, Big Sexy is with the Medium Sized Mayne. The first time Nash has been at WM since WM 12, the first time for Hall since WM 11.
Hall's personal issues were well known and part of the build. Austin attacks as soon as Hall gets into the ring, opening up a can of whoop ass. OH HELL YEAH T-PLUS FLAG POLE COUGARLIFE.COM WHAT? He also attacks Nash just for fun. Well, when Nash attacks him, you can't blame him. They're really laying shit in here. This is definitely the best Hall has looked in years. Nash removes a turnbuckle pad. Fucking Tim White doesn't see Nash do it, nor does he see when Austin bounces off of it, NOR does he notice it the rest of the fucking match. Pay attention to your surroundings, ref. Christ. Might as well be Ear Hebner in this mug. Austin hits a stunner OUTTA NOWHERE, which leads to Nash attacking the ref and hitting the ref. Of course, Austin fights them both off and hits them with stunners. Jack Doan slides in OUTTA NOWHERE only to immediately get elbow dropped by Nash. Double ref bumps! WCW lives! Fans pop for the Razor's Edge tease, but weren't smart enough to see that Hall was next to the ropes, which ALWAYS means he's going to get back dropped over them. Eventually, Nash gets thrown out, and then HALL hits a stunner. Austin recovers to hit TWO more stunners, one that popped Hall above the top rope. I believe the stunner count in this match is 6, 5 from Austin, 1 from Hall.
TO AXXESS. Look at all this cool stuff you can do WM weekend! Take a pic with a bronze statue of Stacy's legs and ass! Meet a Scott Hall that looks like he wants to die!
Hardy Boyz vs Dudley Boyz vs APA vs Billy & Chuck WWF Tag Team Championships
Fucking LOOOOOOOL at the DUDLEY BOYZ getting a live entrance. THE DUDLEY BOYZ. In a tag match. Half way through the show. I mean, shout out to Chucky P getting a WM match, but fuck this shit. You can't go from 2 years in a row of crazy ladder multi team tags to a standard four way tag with 2 of those teams. Chuck took a god damn spinebuster on the floor and the camera crews fucking missed it. Spinebuster on the floor from FARROOQ for nothing. APA are eliminated first. Lmao at Chuck clearly doing a handstand to sell a DDT, but selling it like he actually took an impact anyway. His head was multiple inches away from the mat. Jeff spanks, forces himself on Stacy, then throws her off the apron. That's sexual assault, brotha. D-Von takes a huge table bump, then Bubba gets eliminated by the Hardys. Shortly after, Billy hits Jeff with a Fameasser to end the match. Titles retained.
TO THE BACK. Hall is bitching to Nash about Austin getting lucky. They're going to take it out on the Rock. Hogan shows up and asks them to stay in the back tonight. He needs to find out if he's the man on his own.
TO THE BACK. Molly Holly is looking for cover when she runs into half a door. It was Christian! New champion!
The Rock vs Hulk Hogan
Hogan's first WM since WM 9. When Hulk returned to the company, he blamed the fans for pushing him out in the first time, claiming he was the only reason fans were still there today. The biggest star of all time. CUT TO: The Rock.
Fans are definitely on the side of Hogan from the beginning. It makes sense. The nostalgia of Hogan being back in the WWF, Toronto always being one of Hogan's strongholds, and Rock clearly not being long for the wrestling industry. Crowd reaction is IMMENSE. This is really what WM is all about. Icons meeting on the biggest stage. The crowd LOSES ITS SHIT when Hogan starts the match by overpowering Rock. You'll never hear a crowd so hot for headlocks and shoulder blocks in your life. Everything Hogan does gets an insane pop. Between his last WCW match at Bash at the Beach 2000 and this match, Hulk had had all of 2 singles matches: Against Curt Hennig at an XWF taping, and even more randomly against Rikishi at a house show in Tampa. A show that also featured Bubba The Love Sponge in a match reffed by Gerald Brisco. ANYWAY, Hulk talks mad shit as he dominates Rock. Rock's first big offensive move is met with HEAVY boos. The alpha posturing in this is amazing. Hulk is putting in the most effort into anything he's done since that very brief period in March of 1999 when he somehow got turned face after beating the shit out of David Flair in front of Ric. Is this a technically great match? Of course not. But it is a perfect blend of 80s and 90s WWF main event styles in front of the hottest crowd you could ever ask for. Of course, there's the fuckery of ref bumps and Hogan actually tapping out to a sharpshooter while the ref is down. You'll probably never hear a pop so loud for a low blow this side of Linda kicking Vince in the balls at WM 17. The weight belt comes off and Rock leans heavily into the heel reaction he's been getting. Hulk kicks out of the Rock Bottom and HULKS THE FUCK UP to an INCREDIBLE REACTION. YOU! Holy shit is there anything more WWF than this? This is perfect. Leg drop! ROCK KICKS OUT OF THE LEG DROP! This is PERFECT! Rock Bottom! Another! People's Elbow! The Rock has defeated Hulk Hogan!
After the match Rock offers his hand to Rock. Hall and Nash then hit the ring and attack Hulk. Rock comes back to make the save and the People's Posedown ensues.
Jazz vs Trish Stratus vs Lita WWF Women's Championship
Lol, can you imagine having to follow that? Lita and Trish obviously start trying to double team Jazz, but Jazz beats the hell out of both of them. The crowd is COMPLETELY spent, no surprise. But as long as King gets to have a boner all match, right? Crowd only reacts when Lita seemingly tries to rip her shirt off before doing a moonsault. Jazz pinned her with a super fisherman's buster.
TO THE BACK. Christian finally makes his way out of the arena only to get rolled up by Maven before he can get in his cab. New champion.
Triple H vs Chris Jericho WWF Undisputed Championship
Oh great, ANOTHER terrible live performance. Not even Motorhead. Fucking Drowning Pool again. It's clear no one in WWE had the foresight to realize how poorly it would reflect on the company years later to have giant ads for a CD named after sexual assault being all over a Wrestlemania event. HHH's torso is absurdly dark. Like, Hogan dark. He's also absurdly puffed up. Lol after their first lock up and suddenly Jericho's abs are twice as dark, too. HHH tweaks his bad leg doing the high knee, so that becomes the focus for a while. And then HHH does...leg work. That's right, they're both doing leg work. Jericho accidentally spears Steph, so HHH drags her into the ring to attempt a pedigree. "Don't pedigree that woman!" Reassess your career choice when that's a line you need to say. After something like Rock/Hogan, I don't think anyone was waiting to see a 30 minute methodical match centered around limb work. Even if this didn't have to follow Hogan/Rock, it'd probably be getting about the same reaction from the crowd, because it's pretty dull. The biggest pop in the match was a 260 pound man grabbing a 130 pound woman by her hair and hitting her with a pedigree. Luckily, Jericho BLASTS Hunter with a chair right after. Right in the fucking forehead. "You okay?" I doubt it, Chris. Anyway, HHH wins after a pedigree and ends the show roaring like a dinosaur. New champion.
Good pacing to the show with the in between matches being time to ride that line of too short and too long, but all of them worked pretty well to reset the crowd for the next marquee match. Hogan/Rock might be THE defining Wrestlemania match. Two icons, titans of the industry, doing melodramatic battle on the biggest stage possible. I'm not sure "showcase of the immortals" has ever been more accurate than during that match. Austin/Hall is slept on. It wasn't great, but it was pretty good considering the mental and physical shape of both men at the time. Taker/Flair might be Flair's greatest performance, and Arn sliding in with the spinebuster might be the spot of the decade. Jericho/HHH would have flopped at any point on the show, because it was way too long and way too boring.
This is in a lot of ways the start of the "modern" WM formula, with 3-4 "main events", and a focus on returning old timers and part timers that steal the show from the younger talent on the card.