WWE: WrestleMania 26 Recap – March 28, 2010 | MatMagMania

WrestleMania 26: We’re at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona (now the State Farm Stadium). The commentary is from Michael Cole, Jerry Lawler & Matt Striker. American Idol Winner Fantasia sins ‘America the Beautiful’. The opening video package is packed with talk of ‘WrestleMania Moments’.

ShoMiz (The Big Show & The Miz) vs John Morrison & R-Truth – Unified WWE Tag Team Championships

R-Truth opens the show properly with his self-rapped entrance theme. He and John Morrison teamed up to become number one contenders for the Tag Titles, Morrison and the Miz used to be a team which could add a wrinkle. The Miz is the United States Champion. ShoMiz have one of the worst merged themes you’ll ever here.

Morrison and Miz start out in a call back to their former alliance. The challengers look good very early on but Big Show turns things around. They work back and forth fairly well, Big Show being the game changer when he gets involved. Big Show finishes the match with a knockout punch to Morrison for an abrupt finish. It was just getting going when it ended.

We get an early break in the action with a look at WrestleMania Axxess and the general events of the week, including charitable events.

Randy Orton vs Cody Rhodes vs Ted DiBiase Jr

The group formerly known as Legacy implode. It’s officially a triple threat but realistically it’s a two-on-one handicap match with Randy Orton fighting against the other two. In a bit of a misdirection it was Rhodes and DiBiase who turned on Orton rather than the other way around. It’s important to note that Rhodes and DiBiase have claimed pre-match that it doesn’t matter which one of them wins as long as Orton loses.

Immediately the action is two on one as expected, Orton trying to evade and working to keep at least one of his opponents either down or outside the ring. Orton initially looks strong, but the numbers advantage wears him down. DiBiase and Rhodes then break their fundamental promise to each other, Rhodes breaking up a DiBiase pinfall, before DiBiase does it back and the two men come to blows. It was obvious it was coming and allows Orton to recover and take charge. It’s all Orton from here on out. He stalls for ages whilst teasing an ‘RKO’ but hits a punt to Rhodes instead. He then hits an ‘RKO’ on DiBiase.

A bland match that made Rhodes & DiBiase look like chumps, they had the two on one advantage and got handily beaten in the end, after turning on each other for no real reason. It wouldn’t have hurt Orton to lose here.

WrestleMania 26: Money In the Bank Ladder Match – Jack Swagger, Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Drew McIntyre, Evan Bourne, Kane, Kofi Kingston, Matt Hardy, MVP, Shelton Benjamin

The first ever ten man version of the Money in the Bank Ladder match, an experiment at filling the match out even more. Kofi Kingston is announced as being from Ghana (which he is) but he’s still using his Jamaican themed entrance music. Drew McIntyre is the reigning Intercontinental Champion, meaning that both midcard singles titles are tied up in other matches and not being defended.

With so many people involved the action is very fast paced and chaotic, a bit sloppy in it’s execution. A lot of your typical multi man ladder matches sequences and moments, some of them looking particularly contrived with so many people involved. There are also long periods where the majority of the field are down on the outside for no real reason. Everyone gets a moment or two to shine and a moment or two to take a big spill. A lot of the memorable moments are similar to those we’ve seen in previous years until Kofi Kingston does some hilariously illogical work by climbing two halves of a broken ladder. It’s at least a memorable image.

Ladder match veterans Matt Hardy and Christian get close to their moment of glory before Hardy knocks them both down. Matt Striker on commentary seems to forget that it’s 2010 by crowing about ‘who will carry WWE into the 21st century’, we’ve already been in the 21st century for 10 years.
Jack Swagger and Christian fight at the top of the ladder, before Swagger uses the briefcase itself to knock Christian down before pulling it down to win the match.

Not a fantastic version of the match, there are so many people involved it kind of exposes the trick, too much of it seems contrived. Swagger would cash in to become World Champion later that same week.

We then see the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2010. It’s a very varied class, Gorgeous George, Mad Dog Vachon, Stu Hart, Antonio Inoki, Wendi Richter (making her return to the company for the first time since 1985), and headliner Ted DiBiase. Celebrity inductee Bob Uecker, a staple of early WrestleManias, has some brilliant lines in his acceptance speech.

WrestleMania 26: Triple H vs Sheamus

The meteoric rise of Sheamus crashes right into Triple H. He’d only been on the main roster since October of the previous year and was already a former World Champion. It was Triple H who essentially cost Sheamus that title in Elimination Chamber and Sheamus has called HHH out for a match. Triple H has made this match all about whether or not Sheamus can take the next step in his career by defeating him on the largest stage of all. HHH’s entrance isn’t accompanied by big costumes or anything like that but it does aim for the epic.

It’s physical from the off, with momentum swinging back and forth. Triple H goes for the ‘figure four’ leg lock to wear Sheamus down and the pace stays slow and methodical for the most part. Sheamus looks strong when he takes over, getting a few close pinfalls and physically dominating Triple H at times. Commentary spends a lot of time putting over Sheamus’ tactical nous and how he is ‘wise beyond his years’.

There’s plenty of back and forth but it doesn’t hit a particularly high gear, it’s definitely physical but the pace is fairly consistently mid. It’s physical and they certainly go for each other with strikes etc, but it never really grabs you by the throat and makes you pay attention. Triple H hits a ‘Pedigree’ out of nowhere to pin and win. It’s another example of the more established name beating a newer face when they really didn’t need the victory (after the Orton victory earlier).

WrestleMania 26: Rey Mysterio vs CM Punk

CM Punk is deep into his cult leader phase as head of the ‘Straight Edge Society’ and has been targeting Rey Mysterio for over a month. Punk has made things incredibly personal by targeting Mysterio’s family and his children. Per a pre-match stipulation, if Mysterio loses he must pledge allegiance to the Straight Edge Society.

Punk comes out with a microphone in hand, riling up the crowd as he was always so good at doing. Mysterio is in his typical pop culture attire for WrestleMania, this time it’s ‘Avatar’ related. Luke Gallows and Serena of the Straight Edge Society are on the outside and they distract early, Serena getting a choke in when Punk is holding the referee’s attention. Immediately they’re a lot more dynamic than anything we’ve had on the show so far. Really good back and forth, counters on top of counters. Some typically exciting Lucha Libre moves from Mysterio before Punk catches a ‘619’ attempt. Mysterio misses a ‘frog splash’ attempt straight after though and Serena involves herself to block a second attempt at the ‘619’. Mysterio does hit a third try at the ‘619’ and pins to win the match and stay out of the Straight Edge Society. A very fun little match that led to a further pair of matches that ended with Mysterio winning the feud and Punk having his head shaved.

WrestleMania 26: Bret Hart vs Mr. McMahon – No Holds Barred Lumberjack match, Bruce Hart as Special Guest Referee

Decades of history. 13 years since the Montreal Screwjob, Bret Hart is back in the company. He’s buried the hatchet with Shawn Michaels, but Mr. McMahon has twisted the knife and refused to apologise. A lot of blurring the lines between fiction and reality. A great, often wordless, video package outlines the saga so far. It does a great job of making this feel like a genuine piece of history. Shame the match won’t live up to that.

McMahon gets on the microphone during his entrance to introduce practically the entire Hart Family as lumberjacks and the guest referee. Bret’s older brother Bruce is the guest referee. Bret then reveals that he was aware of McMahon’s plan the entire time, the Hart family have actually taken McMahon’s money and are on Bret’s side after all.

What proceeds is essentially a 15 minute snuff movie. Bret wasn’t physically allowed to take a lot of punishment at this point in his career, 8 years after his stroke and 10 years after he was forced to retire from a series of head injuries. The lumberjacks also get plenty of shots in, with the youngest generation even hitting the classic ‘Hart Attack’ to the floor. There is a certain catharsis to watching Bret get his payback, but it goes on and on and on. 15 minutes that should have been five. The first time Bret teases the ‘sharpshooter’ should have been the end. The beating goes on so long that it almost makes McMahon come around to be sympathetic again. Bret wins with the ‘Sharpshooter’ to put us all out of our misery.

The story was there; the match was far too long to be interesting. It should have been a short and sharp destruction, not a protracted beatdown.

We then get an advert for WrestleMania 27 in Atlanta the following year. Then the attendance figures are announced.

WrestleMania 26: Chris Jericho vs Edge – World Heavyweight Championship

Edge returned in shocking fashion at the Royal Rumble after being out of action since July 2009. When he was injured, he and Jericho were the Tag Team Champions. Between Edge’s Royal Rumble and WrestleMania Jericho had become World Heavyweight Champion as part of a different story we’ll get to later crossed over. Jericho’s apparent weakness to Edge’s spear has become a major narrative thread.

Some early even jockeying for position before Jericho flees the ring to avoid the first spear attempt. Striker on commentary tries to say that the two men came through together as youngsters, due to their Canadian heritage, there’s nothing in their history to suggest this was actually the case. Jericho takes over after a brief spill to the floor. A lot of cockiness from Jericho early on, asking the referee if Edge gives up even in a basic headlock.

Edge takes over by taking the match briefly to the floor but takes a while to capitalise fully from the top rope. Jericho starts to try and go for his ‘Walls of Jericho’ but can’t quite lock it in. The knowledge that both men have of the other’s tactics and offense are clearly on show with some of their counter wrestling. Edge goes for a spear, but Jericho reverses it into a ‘Walls of Jericho’.

An attempt at the ‘Lionsault’ gets turned into an ‘Edge-o-matic’ for yet more proof of their knowledge and counter wrestling. Both men get some close pinfalls. As the match goes on the conditioning of Edge starts to come into play, how fit he truly is after the long time away. Jericho tries for some mind games with an attempt at his own spear but Edge counters with a big boot to the face. Edge’s own spear attempt right after is reversed into a ‘codebreaker’. Jericho resorts to simply stamping on the previously injured ankle to really show his viciousness. Striker points out how tender the Achilles tendon is. Another ‘Walls of Jericho’ gets turned into a single leg Boston crab to focus in on the left ankle. Edge tries valiantly to reach the ropes, just doing so, and almost surprises Jericho with a roll up before they both spill to the floor. Jericho tries to bring the belt into the ring as a weapon and after Edge inadvertently knocks the referee down, he hits Edge right in the face with the belt. Edge kicks out though. A ‘Codebreaker’ and Jericho pins to win and retain the title.

Post-match Edge spears Jericho from one announce table into the timekeeper’s area to get some vengeance. A good match, a real showcase of counter wrestling and how to focus on a limb. The sneaky way that Jericho wins protects Edge as well. Jericho would lose the title on the following episode of SmackDown to Jack Swagger with an assist from Edge, getting some more revenge.

We get a look back at the pre-show 26-man battle royal that was won by Yoshi Tatsu.

WrestleMania 26: Alicia Fox, Layla, Maryse, Michelle McCool & Vickie Guerrero vs Beth Phoenix, Eve Torres, Gail Kim, Kelly Kelly & Mickie James

Another storyline-free way for WWE to pack as many women onto the card as possible without doing much work. It’s the heel divas (and non-wrestler Vickie Guerrero) against the face divas. Michelle McCool is the Women’s champion, Maryse the Diva’s champion but obviously neither title is on the line. Lawler manages to pack the entrances with as much of his usual sexist commentary as possible.

Vickie Guerrero starts out for her team but gets picked up and battered by Beth Phoenix and then her entire team. Guerrero’s response is mostly screaming, she only gets saved from a pin by McCool running in. Most of the women then run through the ring and hit their respective finishing moves before becoming victim to the next in line. The heel diva’s then team up to assist Vickie Guerrero with a ‘frog splash’ on Kelly Kelly, she rolls through the pinfall too far and they have to do it again. It’s less than 3 and a half minutes, what a waste of the talent involved.

WrestleMania 26: Batista vs John Cena – WWE Championship

John Cena had just won the WWE Championship at the Elimination Chamber before Batista was granted an immediate title match and destroyed him in moments to steal the title away. Their parallel histories since coming through OVW together as part of the class of 2002 are a heavy part of the build. Batista’s resentment at Cena’s place as the face of the company and their differing motivations also play a large part in the issues between them. There’s also the fact that Cena once suffered a serious neck injury in a previous match. Plenty of history then.

Cena comes out second after a performance from the US Air Force Honour Guard Drill team. The early going sees Batista physically dominate with his size advantage. Cena does manage to ground Batista to take the sting out of things early. Once Batista gets some separation he takes over more consistently. Lots of big strikes and attacks towards Cena’s neck that he injured two years earlier. Batista counters an ‘AA’ attempt with one of the sickest looking DDT’s you’ll see. A lot of strength on show from Cena to fight out of a submission hold targeting his neck. Batista stays in control though, going to another hold on the neck. Cena powers out again. Cena then gets a run in of his own, trying for the ‘five-knuckle shuffle’ but getting hit with a ‘spinebuster’ instead. A Cena ‘STF’ wears Batista down but Batista reaches the ropes and hits a spear for a near fall.

Cena hits a top rope version of the ‘five knuckle shuffle’ to even things up but can’t follow it with an ‘AA’, getting hit with a ‘Batista Bomb’ instead, Cena kicks out. Batista looks very shocked. A series of counters leads to a Cena ‘AA’ and a Batista kick out. Cena goes to the top rope but Batista hits him with a powerbomb out of the air, the same move that injured Cena’s neck in 2008. A ‘Batista Bomb’ attempt and Cena reverses it into a ‘STF’ submission hold. Batista limply taps out and Cena wins to become World Champion for the ninth time.

A decent match that didn’t quite hit the highest highs it could have. It’s still good but with a bit more back and forth it could have been better.  They’d fight over the title for the next two months, Cena coming out on top after an ‘I Quit’ match.

An advert for the DVD focusing on Shawn Michaels called ‘My Journey’. A good segue into the Main Event.

WrestleMania 26: The Undertaker vs Shawn Michaels – No Disqualification Streak vs Career

A follow up to their absolute show stealer the previous year. With even more stakes and story piled on. Michaels grew increasingly obsessed with getting another match with the Undertaker, but Taker ignored his pleas. When Undertaker was reigning as World Heavyweight Champion, Michaels tried and failed to win the Royal Rumble to claim the match. With that option closed off, Michaels instead cost Undertaker that title at Elimination Chamber to finally get Undertaker’s attention. Undertaker though added the stipulation that if Michaels lost, he would have to retire, a stipulation was forced to accept by his own insistence on getting the match. It’s also the first time that a Streak match has been repeated. The video package pre-match is suitably epic.

Michaels doesn’t seem intimidated during Undertaker’s entrance and marks the bell ringing by taunting Undertaker with his own famous taunt. Undertaker on top in the early exchanges, Michaels fighting valiantly to try and block and ‘Old School’ but Taker hits it. In the process Undertaker hurts his leg, something Michaels immediately focuses on to try and slow Undertaker down. Michaels tries to wear Taker down by going for submission holds, showing his versatile offense by teasing the ‘Sweet Chin Music’ as well.

Undertaker is slowed by the injury but still tries to go for a ‘suicide dive’, Michaels has it scouted and cuts him off. More of Undertaker’s vintage offense as he stays in control despite Michaels evasive tactics. Michaels keeps his focus on Undertakers leg with a ‘figure four’ leg lock. Taker reverses the hold to force Michaels to break it up. Undertaker hits a ‘chokeslam’ but Michaels kicks out. Great counter wrestling and fighting from underneath from Michaels to keep forcing Undertaker back into submission holds from what look like perilous moments for Michaels himself.

A moonsault attempt from Michaels to the floor gets caught and Undertaker hits the ‘Tombstone Piledriver’ right on the outside. An EMT tries to tend to Michaels, but Undertaker throws him out of the way and goes for a pinfall back in the ring, Michaels kicks out. A ‘Last Ride’ attempt but Taker’s leg buckles and Michaels manages to counter it. A diving elbow drop attempt, but Taker gets his knees in the way. Michaels tries to stalk Taker but gets caught in the ‘Hell’s gate’ hold, Michaels rolling it into a pinfall to force Taker to break. A ‘Sweet Chin Music’ gets a very close near fall for Michaels.

Another ‘Sweet Chin Music’ career gets caught into a ‘Last Ride’ and Taker gets a very close near fall of his own. Undertaker takes advantage of the No Disqualification stipulation by taking Michaels to the floor and clearing an announce table. Undertaker tries to hit Michaels with a ‘Last Ride’ through the desk but gets hit with ‘Sweet Chin Music’ and laid out. Michaels hits a picture perfect moonsault from the ring post to Undertaker, destroying the announce table in the process. Both men are virtually spent as Michaels takes them both back into the ring, hits ‘Sweet Chin Music’ again, but only gets a two count. Undertaker hits a ‘Chokeslam’ and a second ‘Tombstone Piledriver’. Michaels kicks out again. A thunderous ovation.

Undertaker goes to signal the end of the match with his signature throat slit gesture but pauses, begging Michaels to simply stay down. Michaels crawls back to his feet, using the Undertakers body as a ladder, and signals his defiance with a throat slit of his own and a slap. Undertaker hits a third ‘Tombstone Piledriver’ and pins to end Michaels’ career.

There’s a touching moment of respect between the two legends post-match before Undertaker leaves the ring to allow Michaels the time to soak it all in.

Brilliant match. It’s like a second half of the previous year’s epic. The heft and emotional weight of everything both men do is stellar. The call backs to previous matches, the progression of the match from beginning to end, it’s all fantastic. A fitting main event, perhaps the greatest ever, and a fitting end to Michaels’ storied career. Forget about Saudi Arabia in 2018, this is the real end right here.

Overall – WrestleMania 26

A missed bag of a show, much like a lot were around this period. The main event is an all time classic and there are a couple of other standout matches, but the undercard is generally inconsistent. It’s also dragged down massively by the interminable slog that is Hart/McMahon.

The commentary table misses Jim Ross, Matt Striker does have his moments though. The main event is definitely a watch, as are Punk/Mysterio and Jericho/Edge.

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