WrestleMania XXVI is in the history books. My immediate reaction to the show was that it was far from the best WrestleMania ever, and certainly weaker than the last couple years. I'd say the best matches of the night only barely met expectations. None surpassed them - including Taker Michaels. And several matches fell far short of expectations - with one big match in particular being a particular disaster.
Here are some quick thoughts.
I could have done without Fantasia singing the Anthem. I would have rather seen WWE bring Lilian Garcia back for the night.
The stadium looked fantastic, as WWE continues to set TV production standards with WrestleMania. The jet fighters doing the fly over was very major league. The opening video package was terrific, as usual. So far so good.
. Show Mix retaining the title over R-Truth & The Miz was nothing special. Everyone worked hard, but in the opening match slot, they weren't given a whole lot of time, and the finish was a bit anti-climactic.
. I was a little surprised that Randy Orton won the triple threat match over his former Legacy pupils, as I figured WWE would use this match as an opportunity to elevate either Dibiase or Rhodes. The match was fine, and Orton got some good babyface heat, but again, not a memorable match by a long shot.
. I didn't love the Money in the Bank ladder match. It's always fun to watch the creative spots, but they got a little too cute for their own good here - as was the case with Kofi walking on the ladder stilts. At the end of the day, these are still supposed to look like fights, you know? And, as I expected, ten participants were way too many. It took more suspension of disbelief than I care for to have that many people selling injuries for that long a time outside the ring while a few of the wrestlers do their spots in the ring. I'm also not thrilled with Jack Swagger winning the match, as he was one of the least exciting participants and least over wrestlers in the match.
. Triple-H and Sheamus put on a fine effort, but the bout was too long for one of the least anticipated matches on the show. i would have much rather seen more time given to Mysterio vs. Punk. I was a little surprised to see Triple-H win as, again, I thought they'd use the match to help get Sheamus over.
. I was really looking forward to Rey Mysterio vs. C.M. Punk, and what we got was really good. But at just six minutes, it was too short to deliver on the hype that led up to it. A real shame.
. I wrote earlier today that Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon could either be really, really fun or really, really awful. And it sure wasn't fun. This match was a total trainwreck, and something of a disgrace for Bret Hart. I totally get the fact that Bret's been out of the ring for ten years and is a stroke survivor, but about five months ago he made the decision to return to WWE for one last match against McMahon. And so it's not a lot to ask for Bret to get into some semblance of shape. It was nothing short of embarrassing to see Bret literally take a seat in the middle of a wrestling match to catch his breath - especially considering that he hadn't done much of anything until that point in that match. I expected the liberal use of smoke and mirrors to make this match entertaining, but the involvement of the Hart family was just lame and not very exciting. I know who Bruce Hart is, and I didn't care that he was the special ref for the match. How about the 95 percent of fans who never heard of Bruce and just saw some overweight guy with bad hair in ref stripes? It was just completely self indulgent on Hart's part. It's a shame, because if this match never happened, Hart's last WrestleMania match would have been his classic with Steve Austin in WrestleMania 13. He came back for this? McMahon deserves credit for doing the heavy lifting here, and putting his body on the line to try to make the match watchable. But, ultimately, it was not. One of the worst WrestleMania matches in a long, long time.
. I was surprised to see Jericho defeat Edge in the night's first world title match. Both men said in interviews leading up to WrestleMania that they intended to steal the show. I don't think they did, but they had quite a good match. What hurt it was that it didn't at all feel like a WrestleMania, main event world title match. It was missing the star power of a John Cena or a Triple-H, and it had to compete with some pretty big matches that would follow it. So it came off as a good mid-card match, rather than a show stealing main event.
. The less said about the ten woman Divas match the better.
. Now we're talking. John Cena and Batista had a WrestleMania main event worthy match that I thought was the best thing on the show so far. The near falls were convincing, the finish was exciting, and the crowd was hot throughout. I was hoping for more out of Cena's entrance. It was less flashy than his last few, and Cena wasn't involved in it enough.
. As if Shawn Michaels and the Undertaker didn't have enough pressure on them, their match is positioned to close out what I'd consider a somewhat disappointing WrestleMania so far. So was the sequel better than the original? I'd say it was not, but it was still very, very good. If last year's effort was a five star match, this one was maybe 4 and 3/4. The finish was the right one, with Shawn going down to the tombstone, and Taker's streak growing to 18-0. The match much the same drama as the original, but a few key spots were botched, and that took it down just a notch. But the storytelling was terrific, and the finishing sequence with Taker appearing to show mercy, and Michaels slapping him in the face, was just great, great stuff. It was also really nice to see Michaels get the spotlight at the end of the show. I'm sure his emotion was real, although I don't think for a second that Michaels is retiring.
No video montage? That sucks.
It will probably take some time to have the necessary perspective to be able to rank this WrestleMania among the 25 that came before it. But, right now, my thought is that it was good, not great, and that the main event, while terrific, may not have been enough to make up a number of disappointments throughout the night. Still, it was probably the best four hours of wrestling you'll see this year.