FIRST GEAR...IT'S ALRIGHT
(THE ONE WHERE EDGE PUT HIS WRESTLEMANIA STREAK UP AGAINST UNDERTAKER'S SPIKY BATHROBE)
The year was 2007. Undertaker and Batista had just put on a classic and arguable show-stealing WrestleMania match. Yes, that Batista.
The "Deadman's" win at WrestleMania 23 was supposed to be the launching point of a title reign that would anchor the SmackDown brand. Undertaker had been, throughout this career, the consumate utility man. Whenever they needed a main event guy, heel or face, 'Taker was always a steady hand and a solid (if unspectacular) draw. But despite title wins over Hulk Hogan and Steve Austin (how many guys can make that claim) and a title win in a WrestleMania main event, he was never given a long and featured run with the top strap.
After the "BikerTaker" era fizzled out and left the "Phenom" a run of the mill upper mid-carder, the "Deadman" returned at WrestleMania 20. From then on he was a featured attraction. His entrance is joked about for its length, but speaking from experience, if you're a wrestling fan, it's a spectacle you must see before you die.
With John Cena a permanent staple of the flagship show, SmackDown needed someone to carry both the Friday night program and its house shows. Undertaker's time had come with a victory over Batista (the co-anchor of the blue brand) and he was poised to run with the championship through at least SummerSlam.
Only a month into his run, however, Undertaker badly injured himself and had to be taken out of action. Edge switched brands and cashed in Mr. Kennedy's (Kennedy's) Money in the Bank briefcase to win the title. Edge would hold the strap until he was inexplicably injured. At this point many people were saying the Big Gold Belt was cursed. What a silly thing to think...until Great Khali won the belt...and then held the belt longer than Edge or Undertaker before him.
Undertaker returned in September and soon after reignited a feud with Batista. The two squared off at Survivor Series and just when it seemed like it would be a repeat of the early-2007 feud, Edge reentered the fray in one of the cleverest heel moves ever (posing as a camera man during the match and costing Undertaker the belt). Edge would win the title the next month at Armageddon and Undertaker won number one contender status in February, setting the stage for the match almost a year in the making.
With all the build up (most of it unintentional) behind it, this match was given the green light to main event WrestleMania 24. Edge promised to end the Undertaker's winning streak (15-0) and put his own WrestleMania record (5-0) on the line to do so. Both guys were at the top of their game with Undertaker doing his best in-ring work and Edge now solidified as a main event heel.
So why the low ranking? I feel the need to explain this main event's position on the countdown more than any other. I know it's a favorite for many, but there were a few things about it that just never clicked with me. Feel free to disagree!
For one, the outcome was never in doubt. That's not a huge knock against it since at WrestleMania, the main event outcome isn't supposed to be in doubt. But when you add to that the "streak" gimmick, then it becomes doubly obvious who will win.
Also, this match was only maybe the third most-hyped match on the card, after Ric Flair's retirement and the infamous Floyd Mayweather vs. Big Show bout. Being on SmackDown while the other three main events (don't forget John Cena vs. Randy Orton vs. Triple H...again) were hyped on Raw didn't help its cause either.
And let's not even get into the commentary. The match was called by Michael Cole and Johnathan Coachman. Is it as bad as Heel Cole and tired, washed up Jerry Lawler? No, but is that really the bar we want to set for WrestleMania?
The biggest knock against it is the match itself. "Blasphemy!" you say. But this is not the best work either of these men had or had together. The entire bout dragged a bit too much and never really got into second or third gear. You know that feeling, about 15 minutes in, when--in a great match--both guys are just "in the zone" and you stop and think "how much time is left before they take it home?" I didn't get that feeling here. It went a little over 20 minutes but might have been better served going only 17 or 18. But if you do that you're better off putting the match lower on the card.
That's probably the easiest way to improve the main event. I think it would have helped the match but hurt the main event to limit the bell to bell action to 18 minutes. If you switch this bout with Flair vs. Michaels then I think you end this WrestleMania a little stronger. The obviousness of the Taker win is lessened when placed lower on the card, and even though everyone knew who would win the Flair vs. Michaels match, it was certainly the emotional highlight of the night. Though it's not a title match there's certainly a precedent for doing retirement matches last.
This isn't a bad main event, and I understand why they went with this match as the final bout. It was the longest running feud in the promotion, a proper "thank you" to two guys who helped save SmackDown from sinking into the abyss (after this the brand would come to mean less and less until it finally just integrated into the three hour Raw), and there really wasn't one standout match at this show that absolutely HAD to go last. The match was just kind of a letdown from other matches these two have had (with others, together and at WrestleMania) and the length of the contest, in my opinion, slowed things down a bit too much for it to meet its expectations.
Sound off, Cagesiders. Does this match deserve to be higher on the countdown? I'm sure there are a couple coming up that you think aren't as great as this one, but that's okay. I call 'em like I see 'em. Let us know what you think about this main event in the comments below.
Tomorrow's main event features Mr. WrestleMania playing the role of Mr. Pinch Hitter. See you then!
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