I'm back, and better than ever. Maybe. Maybe I'm better than yesterday, when we counted down from 100 to 76 on this list, but maybe not. Maybe I am just a shell of my former self today, my former self from yesterday. Perhaps this will be shades of yesterday. Maybe this is vintage me. Maybe it is vintage Ricky, Cole.
Remember, you can follow me on Twitter at my rasslin account to talk rasslin, as I try to keep my rasslin talk away from the commonfolk who follow my regular account, not because I am ashamed of my rasslin fandom at all, because I'm a grown man who has two cats, what do I care what people think, but simply because I don't want to overwhelm people who don't care about my insane obsession when I'm yelling about Willow or falling in love with Stephanie McMahon or getting all distraught about Natalya's slut shaming or JBL's horrid inconsistencies on commentary.
IT HAS BEGUN...AGAIN
75. Marc Mero & Sable vs Goldust & Luna Vachon (WrestleMania XIV)
This mixed tag holds up remarkably well, especially considering it was always a surprise that it was any good at all, which often is a reaction tagged to a match that maybe isn't really that good, but beats expectations. Goldust is a real superhero here, making Mero and Sable both look good, and Luna is excellent in making Sable look like a BAMF, too. Mero is basically a tagalong to the match, which was sort of his character at the time anyway, as he'd snapped over Sable's booming popularity and become a chauvinistic dickhead who briefly employed the services of lunatic Goldust (who had snapped himself and turned into a king-sized weirdo) to humiliate her. But Mero had a sort of, "hey, nobody humiliates or attacks Sable except for ME!" thing going on, too, which led to this match. It's also important in remember that Sable was a genuinely big part of the WWF's big late 90s explosion, as she got an enormous superstar reaction on this show, behind only Austin and maybe Undertaker, and that latter is a genuine maybe. They built to this match well, and then Sable outperformed expectations. It's much better than Savage & Sherri vs Dusty & Sapphire, and thus it is the greatest mixed tag team match in Mania history.
74. Hunter Hearst Helmsley vs Owen Hart (WrestleMania XIV)
This was Triple H's first good WrestleMania match, and came the night before he was moved into a top role as the new leader of D-Generation X, following Shawn Michaels' defeat in the main event of WrestleMania XIV and subsequent retirement. Owen was the only Hart family member left at this point, as the group had fallen apart late in 1997, beginning with the death of Brian Pillman in September, and followed up by the Montreal debacle in November, which was Bret's curtain call. Davey Boy Smith and Jim Neidhart were released not long after and weren't back on WWF TV, while Owen was off TV for a while and returned as "The Black Hart," targeting Shawn Michaels and the WWF title. But it was already written in the stars that Stone Cold would be taking over, and Owen never even got a serious run at Shawn, which I still feel was a mistake. Shawn vs Owen at Royal Rumble could have been excellent, and Michaels probably wouldn't have broken his back on a casket, since it's unlikely Shawn-Owen would have been a casket match. But anyway, with that not happening, Owen was shifted down the card to fiddle around with Shawn's sidekick/lackey, HHH, who wasn't really over and wouldn't be until the new DX that formed post-WrestleMania XIV turned babyface in the new Attitude Era. Helmsley, though, was doing good work while the crowd was still indifferent to him, as he had a good 1997 in the ring and just got better from there for a few years. And, really, it wasn't even until his early 2000 feud with Mick Foley that Hunter was taken very seriously as a main event talent. Isn't that kind of weird to look back on? Helmsley wasn't really over-pushed, but they stayed the course they wanted, and in time it worked out, and once the crowd was willing to consider him a legit guy, he had a big backlog of credibility worked up as both a heel and a babyface. This match helped push HHH in the right direction, as they kept him strong going into the transitional phase, keeping the European title on him, which was a bit of an upset at the time, as it figured that Owen would get the duke at Mania and at least a little consolation prize. Instead, Hart rather soon went back to his superior role as a heel when enough had been enough and it was time for a change.
73. Rey Mysterio vs CM Punk (WrestleMania XXVI)
I wasn't really a big fan of this angle, which had Punk harassing Mysterio and his family while being all straight edge at them, and I kind of felt like Rey's family had given enough to WWE during the custody of Dominick saga, too. The match was also unfortunately short, which stunk. But given their six-and-a-half minutes, Punk and Mysterio jammed in everything they could, retained some nice psychology and didn't just run through spots, and had a very enjoyable match. They were given nothing, really, and made it about all it could be.
72. Triple H vs Randy Orton (WrestleMania XXV)
By this point at WrestleMania XXV, Shawn Michaels and The Undertaker had gone out and not just stolen the show, but essentially shut the show down with their performance. There was simply nothing that the two title matches could do to follow what HBK and Taker did that night, which first struck the Edge-Cena-Big Show triple threat match, which was genuinely forgettable, and really didn't need Big Show at all in the first place, but that's a whole other problem that match had. HHH and Orton closed the night with one of those matches where the guy who's really angry would lose the title if he got disqualified or counted out, and in this instance, HHH couldn't even bring the sledgehammer into the ring, or that would cost him the belt, too. The pre-match story was intense and delivered well, but I don't think it really caught on the way it might have under other circumstances. In 2009, it was a little late to make someone a mega-heel just for beating up the McMahons who had spent 98% of the prior decade being complete pieces of garbage. Even attacking a woman and a man's wife wasn't really that great a sin in the fans' eyes considering it was Stephanie McMahon, whose character had been so conniving and underhanded and rotten for most of her career that wringing sorrow out of her being RKO'd or DDT'd was a bit of a task. But it was a story well-told that might have gotten over better, too, if Hunter had ever been a great babyface beyond 1998, which he just was not. Add in that Helmsley and Orton never had great chemistry, and you've got a disappointing main event that also had the shockwaves of a far superior match on the show still rippling through. BUT! But. When you look at just the match, it's still pretty damn good, because Hunter generally delivers at crunch time, and Orton can hang when he's in with someone who's good. There are plenty of criticisms for this match, and they're valid, I think, but the match itself is plenty strong enough to warrant its place on this list.
71. Edge vs Alberto Del Rio (WrestleMania XXVII)
Edge's final match wasn't supposed to be Edge's final match, but he went out in style with a fine WrestleMania opener, defending his world heavyweight title successfully against Del Rio. Again, I'll note that I'm a much bigger fan of Del Rio's in-ring work than most people are, or at least bigger than I have perceived most people to be. Edge still looked in great shape, but the neck injury he was dealing with ended his career, which was officially announced a week later. It's not quite as awesome a match as Steve Austin or Shawn Michaels went out with at Mania, but not too shabby, either, for one of WWE's most consistent performers of all-time.
70. Shawn Michaels vs Mr. McMahon (WrestleMania 22)
"GOD! Let's face it. I don't like you, and you don't like me! I've defied every law you've ever had, and yet been tremendously successful! And I'm sure, God, you never intended on a 60-year-old to have a Herculean physique, as I do. I know, God, that you and I aren't close, but I know you and Shawn Michaels are very, very close. So, tonight, God, I'd like to tell you what I'm gonna do with your favorite wrestler. I'm gonna send Shawn Michaels down to the fiery depths of Hell! AMEN! HALLELUJAH!"
Then Shawn Michaels rather mercilessly beat the crap out of McMahon for a while and won the match. It's an odd thing, because it was a waste of one of Shawn's remaining years to stick him in with Vince at WrestleMania, when this crap could have been done even somewhere like SummerSlam. But it's fun to watch Vince take his beating like a champ and bleed all over the place in true Vince style. And like I was saying about Jeff Hardy yesterday, I respect the insane. As Terry Funk once said, Vince McMahon is truly hardcore. He has no real reason to do the things he used to occasionally do in the ring, he was just doing it. The same goes for Shane McMahon, a guy who's never really had to work a day in his life if he didn't want to, but threw himself off of lighting towers and got chucked savagely through glass just for the hell of it, for the love of doing crazy things. That's awesome. The McMahons are great characters.
69. Chris Jericho vs Triple H (WrestleMania X8)
One year after the best WrestleMania of all-time (to that point, and arguably still, sure), WWE's descent into a new era of mediocrity was in full swing by WrestleMania X8. Sure, they were still doing pretty good business and all that, but the elimination of even a fantasy contender and no notable third promotion in the U.S. meant that Vince's empire ruled the land, which also meant that motivation wasn't what it used to be, and the burnout from the peak years was starting to set in. The decision to bring in Hogan, Hall, and Nash the month before Mania was a pure desperation move for a product that was clearly faltering, as they had come off of the short failure of the WCW/ECW "Alliance invasion" angle, which concluded at Survivor Series 2001 in a match where "Team Alliance" was made up of Steve Austin, Kurt Angle, Booker T, Rob Van Dam, and Shane McMahon -- in other words, two top WWF guys, their top WCW rep who had been given a halfassed push, their top ECW rep who was actually on the hottest run of his career, and, uh, Shane, because they lacked a fifth useful Alliance member for a major main event. I mean, what, were they going to turn ANOTHER WWF guy to that side? Were they going to use Lance Storm, or one Dudley? Anyway, by the time WMX8 rolled around, there was a lot going on, and it was a murky scene. Austin was stuck with Hall, Angle and Kane got thrown together, Rock and Hogan dominated the headlines (and then the show itself), and oh, yeah, lil' Chris Jericho had unified the WWF and WCW championships in December, beating the top two guys in the business on the same night. That happened. Then Triple H came back, won the Royal Rumble, feuded with his wife, and his wife decided to hang with old nemesis Y2J, forming an unlikely and ineffective alliance that led to Helmsley's predictable WrestleMania victory. It's a good match, but Jericho and HHH were never really great together, save for that RAW where Jericho won the title only to have the decision reversed, and a lot of what made that so great was the shock ending. As much as they've tried to push HHH at times as a top babyface, he just isn't on that level. He's not an Austin, Hogan, or Rock. He's a born heel. And as a babyface, he rarely had moments of real weakness. He always wanted to be the asskicker and the fan favorite, which you can do if you're Steve Austin, but as we just covered, Hunter ain't Steve Austin. Jericho hadn't gotten proper footing as champion, either.
68. The Undertaker vs Kane (WrestleMania XIV)
Helped tremendously by the drama of the match and the fact that it was, for all intents and purposes, a first-time meeting between the two, and the result of a nicely drawn-out storyline, this big man showdown was a little sloppy because Kane had yet to come into his own in the ring, and Undertaker in 1998 was still some years shy of his own peak, which came from getting to do the biker gimmick. The biker gimmick was kind of lame and hasn't aged very well, but the big benefit of it was that it allowed Taker to work much more like a normal wrestler, which was a good thing. Undertaker almost murdered this chunkier version of Kane on some tombstones where he couldn't get his hands locked, but all in all, it went well. The first of 629 pay-per-view matches between the two. Plus, we got the first ever Kane-Pete Rose encounter:
67. Chris Jericho vs William Regal (WrestleMania X-Seven)
This was another "oh, this could be a clash of styles!" Regal match that, yeah, it was, kind of, in that Regal's style clashed with everyone to some degree or another, but Jericho and Regal were both well-schooled, well-traveled, grade-A professionals who knew what the hell they were doing, and like the following year's Regal-RVD match at X8, they had the luxury (and motivation) of opening the show in front of a massive, jazzed up stadium crowd. To give this match a greater reason to happen than just Commissioner Regal wanting to become the new Intercontinental champion, Jericho urinated in a pot of tea on Regal's desk, and then Regal drank it. Classic Shakespeare stuff.
66. Rey Mysterio vs Cody Rhodes (WrestleMania XXVII)
Mysterio and Cody had one of those goofy feuds that turns out well, and I was really into Rhodes being upset about the smashing of his beautiful face and wearing that Bill Laimbeer mask. That was a good time, and about as useful as Cody has been as a singles wrestler in WWE. Rey still had a little gas left in the tank here, too, which is incredible considering his knees were powder years before this, and when you compare even the 2011 version Mysterio to 2014 Mysterio, it's pretty sad. Like the year before with Punk, Rey went out and had a good midcard match on the Grandest Stage, even donning the Laimbeer mask himself once he knocked it off of Cody's face. A bit off the credit for this match due to Michael Cole's horrid commentary, as this was the height of the Michael Cole heel run that sucked the life out of so many WWE shows at the time. This one got more time than Rey-Punk, and an angle that more directly impacted the match itself, and Cody got the win on the big show, which ultimately pushed him nowhere, but it was the right call.
65. Randy Savage vs Ted DiBiase (WrestleMania IV)
This is a kind offering to this match, and more a representation of the tournament as a whole, or at least sort of, as the tournament as a whole pretty much sucked, but it was the event the show was built around (well, it was built around the Hogan-Andre rematch that barely happened), and it was a huge win for Savage, a guy who could actually work and would be on top of the WWF for the next year. Savage and DiBiase, of course, had far better matches in them than this one, which was stunted for time considerations and roughly 49% focused on Andre and Hogan being at ringside. But for the moment, for the new champion crowned in an era where new champions weren't crowned every few months, it deserves its spot on the list. It's an effective match and both guys were outstanding in 1988, which means that even as hacked up as it was compared to what it could have been in theory, the match belongs here.
64. Kurt Angle vs Randy Orton vs Rey Mysterio (WrestleMania 22)
One of the unfortunate many triple threat WWE/world heavyweight title matches at WrestleMania over the last decade, which started at XX when Shawn Michaels was shoved into the Triple H-Benoit match. That one delivered, but most of them have not. Like that one, this seemed to come together mostly because WWE didn't have total faith that the new main event guy, Mysterio, could carry his role in a one-on-one match with Kurt Angle. So instead of feuding with Angle, Rey really feuded with Orton after winning the Rumble. Orton took crass shots at the deceased Eddie Guerrero -- which it would seem to me, as an outsider, anyway, that Eddie would have loved, to know he was still in storylines even after he was gone -- and challenged Mysterio to put his title shot on the line at the February PPV, which he did. Orton won, but Teddy Long threw Rey into the Mania match, anyway. It took the spark out of everything. Whatever could have been made out of Rey's underdog story was taken away when he dropped the title shot to Orton, and was then just thrown back in there anyway. And like this year's upcoming main event, the champion seems almost a side player. Angle was in his "Wrestling Machine" period, where the point of Kurt Angle was that he was a badass who would break your ankle and suplex the living crap out of you until he was done beating you for the night. There could have been a good story where Mysterio was simply trying to overcome the world's best wrestler, but they didn't go there. And the match itself, while worked nicely by all three guys, had a weak and sudden ending after just nine damned minutes. This match had a lot more to give, and then it was over. A lot of the matches in the bottom half of this list -- and these are all good matches, mind you -- have a similar story. There's a lot about what didn't happen to make them great, or what happened to make them disappointing, or whatever. I thought Angle was sensational in this match, in particular, but the three-way aspect and the, "oh, it's over?" vibe of the finish just didn't do the bout any favors. I'd also add this: as much as I love Rey Mysterio, we were not that far removed from the Guerrero/Benoit veteran Cinderella stories of 2004, and this one paled in comparison, which also didn't help.
63. Hulk Hogan vs King Kong Bundy (WrestleMania 2)
Listen up, brothers, and listen good. Oh, yeah, man, this match may not be talked about much, dude. People might tell you it sucks, brother. But here's the thing: it's pretty kickass. For a 1986 WWF cage match, this is about as much as one could ask for, really. Bundy was a one-hit wonder as a main event guy, more or less, but he brought whatever funk he had to this match, and Hogan had kicked it up a notch for this one, too. I was honestly shocked by how hot this match was, because I hadn't watched WrestleMania 2 in a very long time. Personally, as far as complete shows, WM2 has a lot more going for it than the other of the first four WrestleManias, as there are actually a few good matches instead of, like, you know, one. I doubt anyone in 1986 who was plugged in or some kind of "smart mark" at all thought that Bundy was a credible threat to Hogan, but hey, he was a big, fat, ugly SOB managed by Bobby Heenan, so a natural challenger for Hogan, in other words. The failure of Bundy eventually led Heenan to recruit the services of Andre the Giant. Seriously, go back and watch this match sometime if you enjoy a hot, punchy-kicky main event.
62. Mr. McMahon vs Shane McMahon (WrestleMania X-Seven)
Like all of the Vince matches, this one is more about the moment, so I tried to handicap more toward how I felt about them then than how I feel about them now. Some matches work in reverse. For the purposes of this list, I basically took the better of my two judgments and leaned that way. If a match was better live, I'd tilt toward the live memories, with the new viewing still influencing, but not the dominant side of my thought process. If the match was better now than I remembered live, I'd go the other way. I think that's only fair. The biggest aspect of this match that now carries zero weight is the very reason it happened, which was Shane buying WCW and preparing some type of rivalry with his dad's WWF. Once the invasion angle was about 92% disaster and 8% decent, it meant that future viewings of matches built around the story would lose a lot of their impact. But taking all that away, this is still a fun match to watch, because they both worked really hard, got physical, and it's still a rich father and son whipping each others asses out there, and what's not fun about that? The Van Terminator from Shane was crazy as hell, and Mick Foley got a big pop once he finally lost his cool as guest referee and went after Vince, who to be fair had started it. But the biggest moment of the match came when a supposedly sedated Linda McMahon rose from her wheelchair to kick Vince in the nuts. As always, Linda's execution was a little off, but you have to give everyone credit for finally using Linda properly in a storyline, where they had her sit expressionless and mute. The woman is a convincing invalid. Trish attacking Stephanie -- in her new jumpsuit! -- added to the match, too. It was just a big ol' pile of McMahon overindulgence, which is fine with me.
61. The Undertaker vs Kane (WrestleMania XX)
The second WrestleMania match between Undertaker and Kane wasn't quite the occasion the first one was, but Kane was a hell of a lot better by 2004 than he was in 1998, and Taker's return at Madison Square Garden in the dead man character, with Paul Bearer at his side, was an event in itself. I love the start of the match, with Kane refusing to believe his brother was even alive and there in real form, and not just some sort of hallucination, while Taker stands motionless, staring a hole into Kane, who tentatively approaches, lays a finger on him, and gets his ass kicked for the trouble, bringing Taker back to fighting life. The new dead man was more an amalgamation of the old zombie Taker and the biker version, which Kane had decided to kill for becoming soft, a flag-waving redneck mortal like you and me. I appreciated that Kane did that, because he was right, which is always a good thing to be when you're the heel. Even if you're dastardly and partially wrong in what you're saying or doing, it helps if some part of it has some truth. The match is mostly Kane getting smoked by Undertaker, which was the right call, and re-established Undertaker as a main event force going forward.
60. Randy Savage vs Hulk Hogan (WrestleMania V)
There are some really great Hogan-Savage matches from 1986-89, but this is not one of them. Hogan was the obvious winner, which didn't help the match's flow, and it also came at the end of the second marathon WrestleMania at Trump Plaza, which is the second-worst crowd in WrestleMania history, trailing only the Anaheim losers of WrestleManias XII and 2000, a bizarre phenomenon given that you'd think it's mostly just the same as the Los Angeles crowd, and the Los Angeles crowd is generally good. Unlike some of their far superior encounters that you might could find on some of those "WWE Old School" shows at MSG and the like, this one was a really formulaic Hogan match, which is fine, but Savage doesn't seem particularly dialed in for this one, either. This also relied, in my opinion, just too much on the Elizabeth factor, which did neither guy any favors. Randy wasn't on fire, and Hogan was kind of on autopilot, too. It was a big match and it's good and it was the exact right main event for the time, but they had so much better in them and just didn't deliver it here.
59. Ahmed Johnson & The Legion of Doom vs The Nation of Domination (WrestleMania 13)
A good time garbage match, as Ahmed and the LOD teamed up for this Chicago Street Fight with the entire Nation of Domination, so it was technically a handicap match since PG-13 and D'Lo Brown and so on were also involved, alongside Faarooq, Crush, and Savio Vega. This might be my favorite match involving Crush, and it was one of the only tolerable Ahmed Johnson matches, too, as well as one of the last times the Road Warriors were involved in something that could be considered good. This match paled in comparison to the Hart-Austin match that preceded it, and the show then finished with the Sid-Taker turd, so this one is a little underrated today, but for a bunch of guys hitting each other with a bunch of stuff -- including the kitchen sink! -- this is great, and the crowd was pretty hot for it, too.
58. Triple H vs Brock Lesnar (WrestleMania XXIX)
Both HHH-Brock matches from SummerSlam 2012 and WrestleMania XXIX seemed to divide opinion, but I enjoyed both, though obviously I fall short of saying either one of them was a true great match. I enjoy the style of the "new" Lesnar, who comes in trying to bully everyone and gets more than he bargained for constantly, even in victory. Truthiness being told, Lesnar probably should have won this match, since Hunter gained nothing by getting his revenge, but when they put the retirement stip in for a Triple H loss, the die had been cast. Plus, it's hard to make any passionate argument for Lesnar winning to remain a strong here-and-there wrestler, since he'll always be able to evoke a sense of uncontrollable danger and physical superiority just by standing in the ring and making faces, or they can always send poor old Mark Henry out there to get annihilated to remind you that Brock ain't the lady to mess with. I can understand those who don't like this match (or the SummerSlam match), because it's a slow pace, but not even a slow pace like in the olden times of the 1980s NWA. It's just a slow pace that sort of tries to hide the fact that these guys are both part-timers. But I dig their chemistry, and thought they delivered in both matches with something unique that didn't look like the rest of either card. And as I said before, I was way more into WrestleMania XXIX than a lot of folk, and actually liked it even more upon the rewatch this year.
57. Edge vs Booker T (WrestleMania X8)
As gotdanged dumb and stupid as this feud was, it was also pretty funny, because Booker T is one of the great comedy performers in rasslin, and Edge could hold his own there, too. Plus, like, what's not to enjoy about something THIS stupid? They had a fight over a make believe Japanese shampoo commercial that went to Edge and his beautiful, luxurious hair, which is his gift to the heavens. This was another one of those insta-feud deals that has become fairly popular for Mania midcards, where they try to get something out of a couple of guys who just happen to not quite be in the mix at the time. They've done it this year with The Shield vs Kane & The New Age Outlaws, too, and a lot of guys who could have had insta-feuds were just chucked into the Andre battle royal, and at other more recent Manias, some of those fellows were thrown into Money in the Bank. Edge and Booker got something goofy to play around with while they were treading water, which isn't the worst thing in the world, and then they put on a good match at the end of it. In retrospect, sure, it would have been nice for Edge to have had a bigger match in what turned out to be his only WrestleMania in Toronto, but them's the breaks.
56. The Steiner Brothers vs The Headshrinkers (WrestleMania IX)
The Steiners' brief stint with the WWF included some pretty good matches, and this was one of them. This was actually a lot better than any of the Steiners-Samoan Swat Team matches of 1989, as they were given time and both were better teams in 1993 than they were in 1989, even though the Steiners were unknowingly creeping up on their expiration date as an actual great tag team due to the frequent injuries of Scott and his resulting ballooning physique combining to slow down his once-freakish athleticism. The Headshrinkers were much better in ‘93 than they had been before, as they had started to gel into a really cohesive unit, and both were good athletes. So you had a nice meeting of teams who had clicked and were working at high levels. Scott bumps all over the place in this match, because once upon a time that's a thing he did (and could do), and you also get the weirdness of Jim Ross calling the Steiners in the WWF, which may only be weird if you're someone who obsessed over 1987-92 WCW the way I have in recent years.
55. The Rock vs Steve Austin (WrestleMania XV)
The first of the three Rock-Austin matches at Mania, and easily the worst of the lot. This one was hot, but fell short of great because Rock hadn't yet become more than a great athlete with tons of charisma who could be carried to something better than "pretty decent," and Austin still wasn't exactly in peak condition. But it's a good fistfight, a pure brawl with that became one of those out of control WWF streetfight-type matches of the time, which Austin specialized in, and what was really Rock's best speed, too. Austin was pretty worn out here, though, and hadn't yet been reborn as remotivated to become a top worker by guys like Benoit, Jericho, and Angle, who started getting more out of him in 2001. But he was so smart that he always knew whatever his limitations were at the time, and he worked not just around them, but almost over the top of them. He was a terrific unorthodox brawler in a similar way that John Cena has become one of the years, and after settling my brain down over time, I've come to accept the Austin-Cena comparisons in terms of their style, if not in terms of their delivery of that style, as I will still say that Austin had a true intensity that Cena just doesn't have in him. Rock was primed to deliver here, having come off of a lot of hard-hitting matches with Mick Foley. It's not quite great, but it did end an otherwise lousy show on a high note, and this was the last match in the forever-long streak of the babyface leaving WrestleMania with the title.
54. The Hart Foundation vs The Nasty Boys (WrestleMania VII)
Basically, the WWF needed a way to get the belts onto the Legion of Doom without having the LOD beat The Hart Foundation, so the Nastys got drafted as transitional champs, and they were crowned in at WrestleMania VII in Los Angeles. I've said many times in the last few years since revisiting some of their work (that sounds so faux intellectual given I'm talking about Brian Knobbs) that the Nasty Boys were and are generally underrated, and really underrated by the old guard of internet wrestling nerds, who had a habit of thinking everything that wasn't technical or high-flying sort of wrestling was bad. "Aw, they're just punching and kicking! MOVESET!" I include myself in that criticism. This is a fine example of Nasty Boys goodness, as they match up nicely with the Hart Foundation both in the ring and as characters. Particularly good here is Neidhart's early bits, where the Nastys are trying to be the big, tough punks who ain't afraid of nothin', but psycho strongman Neidhart just beats them pillar to post for a few minutes. Look, I'm not saying there are a ton of great Nasty Boys matches, but in all honesty, there are as many great Nasty Boys matches as there are great Road Warriors matches. All I am saying is give the Nasty Boys a chance. Yes, all I am saying is give the Nasty Boys a chance.
53. Eddie Guerrero vs Rey Mysterio (WrestleMania 21)
Not exactly on par with their Halloween Havoc ‘97 classic or anything, but Eddie and Rey knew each other so well that even given the opening spot on WrestleMania 21 as half-feuding tag team partners, they brought out the best of what they each had left in them at this point. This was Eddie's final WrestleMania match, as he passed away in November 2005, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame at WrestleMania 22 weekend. In this match, he pretty much dominates Rey for the entirety of their 13 minutes in the ring, then loses when Mysterio outfoxes him. After the match, fearing a temper explosion from the combustible Guerrero, everyone was surprised to see Eddie suck up any resentment and shake his frienemy's hand.
52. The Dream Team vs The British Bulldogs (WrestleMania 2)
One of two really good tag team matches from WrestleMania 2, this one headlined the Chicago portion of the show. The Bulldogs were really fantastic, even working mostly the 1986 WWF pace, and the Valentine/Beefcake duo is super overlooked as far as the better teams of 1980s WWF, which is not to say they're on par with the Bulldogs or Hart Foundation, but they were as good as Demolition, and I say that as someone who loves Demolition (not Crush). Brutus Beefcake was pretty good as a heel tag wrestler, actually, and Greg Valentine almost never gets the appreciation that he should. This match also featured Ozzy Osbourne at ringside and more importantly, the enthusiastically clueless Cathy Lee Crosby on commentary with Gorilla Monsoon and Gene Okerlund. The Bulldogs won their only WWF tag title in this match, and most consider this the show stealer at WrestleMania 2.
51. The Rock vs John Cena (WrestleMania XXIX)
Look, I hated the two Rock-Cena matches watching them live. I really did. Let me get into why, because what the hell, right? We're here. We have time. Let's talk some jive. Right on! I need to confess something: I don't like The Rock. Like, at all. I don't find him funny, I don't find him "entertaining," I don't particularly enjoy his style in any respect. I do think he's fun to watch in a big match, though. The same can be said of Cena, but I actually find Cena's brand of crappy humor and doofiness and eyeroll-inducing promos far less offensive than I do Rock's, because Cena's like Wu-Tang, he's for the children, and Rock is just on some 2 Live Crew nonsense. I respect Uncle Luke for being an important pioneer in hip-hop, for breaking down some boundaries, for pushing the levels of crassness, and for helping to prove that hip-hop could be made in places that weren't New York, as the West Coast scene hadn't even totally formed into full figure by the time 2 Live made the Miami Bass sound relevant. But it's not like I personally get anything out of "Me So Horny," and I don't get much out of The Rock's stupid ass gay jokes and assorted bullcrud, neither. If Cena were a rapper (ha!), I'd compare him to more seriously not to Wu-Tang, obviously, because that's stupid, but to, like, Will Smith. And I don't mean The Fresh Prince, I mean Will Smith. It's just corny crap I can mostly ignore that is made for people who aren't me. This probably doesn't make much sense, but I don't care. I just say stuff, you guys.
Anyway, I liked both matches a lot more now than I did at the time, even this one, the clearly inferior rematch that had neither the electric significance of its predecessor, nor the good work of the original. This match was suitably epic, as it should have been, and Cena got the predictable revenge win, as he should have, but Rock gassed out hard in this match and it got bogged down more than the first in slower segments that kind of interrupted the flow of everything. Rock gassed in the first one, too, just not as bad. On the rewatch, I actually kind of loved the first Rock-Cena match. This one I liked a lot more than I did watching live, but not as much as the first one, and I think that's basically the general "thing" about the matches. Personally, I could have lived forever without this rematch and been fine, but it was good, and Cena deserved the win over the old actor who had beaten him the year before, so it's probably a positive that it happened. Also, it made lots of money.
WWE apparently considered this clip a highlight: