WrestleMania 21 – Review

WWE was in a unique spot at the time it went to Hollywood on April 3rd 2005… It was just coming out of one era of RUTHLESS AGRESSION, and was about to embark on a new era led by one man… but it wasn’t the guy WWE thought it would be at this stage… When you look at the card for this show, it reads and a who’s-who of WWE legends and Hall of Famers, and as WrestleMania should do it crowns the new leaders of the roster, and sets in motion many things that would come in the next few weeks, months and years. The Hollywood theme is one that WWE have returned to for their latest trip for the show of shows to California for WrestleMania 39, some 18 years on from the topic of this blog. The film parody videos for this show, which feature sporadically through the presentation of this show, are outstanding, and they certainly helped add to the spectacle of WrestleMania here.

This was also an important show as it would be the penultimate WrestleMania before the show would solely take place at huge American football stadiums, although the FKA Staples Center is quite the venue, but it would be a sign that although the interest in the business in general seemed to be wanning, the name alone of WrestleMania would continue to sell and as the years went on it would only grow and grow.

There were 8 matches set for the show, with the two headline matches being JBL defending the WWE Championship against John Cena, and Triple H defending the World Heavyweight title against Batista. Triple H was about to see his much-maligned ‘reign of terror’ end at the hand of his former Evolution protegee, who had longed to take down his former stable-leader having earned the right from winning that year’s Royal Rumble. To do that Batista last eliminated John Cena, who over on SmackDown had established himself as their top guy to challenge the record-breaking reign of John Bradshaw Layfield. The rest of the card was a variety of dream matches, personal feuds, and complete spectaculars, for better and for worse in the case of the first ever Money In The Bank ladder match, and then a SUMO MATCH… Because… yeah…

This is a show I’ve watched quite a bit in the past, but not for some time. Lets see if it still holds up… I’m expecting a mixed bag, but I’m hoping the good stuff makes up for the stuff that doesn’t quite stack up… So lets get into it then, as here is my review of WrestleMania 21!

Lilian Garcia opened the show singing ‘America The Beautiful’. We then had the curtain raised on WrestleMania, followed by a selection of clips from the various Hollywood Parody videos. Next was the full Stone Cold Steve Austin – Gladiator parody, which was pretty cool to be fair.

Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler welcomes us to WrestleMania as the announce team for Raw, followed by the Spanish commentators Carlos Cabrera and Hugo Savinovich, who in turn passed on to the SmackDown team of Michael Cole and Tazz.

We opened the show with a bit of history, as tag team champions faced each other at a WrestleMania. 2 years later, tag team champions would main event WrestleMania (John Cena vs Shawn Michaels).

Rey Mysterio defeated Eddie Guerrero

Eddie entered in his low rider, and Rey had typically colorful Mania gear. Obviously, this match was pretty good given who was in it. Eddie was 12 months since now from being on top of the world as WWE Champion, and going through a bit of a crisis of confidence, that led to him facing his own tag team partner here. this would eventually go a lot darker storyline wise as we got towards the summer of 2005. But no question this was still Eddie in his absolute prime as a performer, which makes the tragedy that was to follow all the more heartbreaking. Rey was just about to reach the main event level in WWE, and fittingly it was this storyline with Eddie that helped him get there. It’s amazing that I review this show from 2005, and 18 years later not only is Rey about to go into the Hall of Fame but he’s also on the card for WrestleMania 39! Even more amazing given where this storyline goes with Eddie in 2005, is Rey’s upcoming opponent in Los Angeles… but that’s another story for another day (or another blog coming very very soon…). Eddie shook Rey’s hand after the match, when commentary teased Eddie could lose it… but FOR NOW he remained cool and a good friend…


WWE Champion JBL (and his cabinet) ran into World Heavyweight Champion Triple H (and Ric Flair) backstage. They went back and forth and said they’d see who was still champion at the end of the night… so let’s see how that goes I guess… I’m sure it’ll all be absolutely fine.

Naturally, as WrestleMania was in Hollywood, we had some celebrities in the crowd…

Edge wins the first ever Money In The Bank Ladder match

Something that has become a staple for WWE, had it’s debut here way back in 2005. Quite a unique but genius concept created by one Chris Jericho, and this set quite the tone for what was to come in the years that followed. I for one like the idea of the MITB being a WrestleMania thing, but given the magnitude that the Money In The Bank PPVs have taken on in recent years, and the evolution to include a women’s match nowadays too, it really is one of the biggest indicators of who’s the next big stars in WWE. Everyone here played their part, and each had multiple crazy moments and spots, way too many to mention here. I would highly recommend going and seeking out this match if you’ve never or haven’t seen this one at all or for a while. Jericho and Christian both had solid showings, and Kane was a terrific powerhouse.

But the MVP of the match here for me was Shelton Benjamin. Such a talented athlete and in this period his abilities were totally unmatched, he did some crazy stuff in this spectacular.

But in the end, the spoils went to a man who in the years that followed this match, would not only break out of the mid card, but certify a claim to be one of the all-time greats in WWE history…

This was a really good match, and the bar was well and truly set high for all Money In The Bank matches in the future.


Then we had… a segment. In 2023 for SOOOOOO many reasons I found this uncomfortable to watch, so I’ll keep this brief. Eugene comes out, he’s pleased to be at WrestleMania, Muhammed Hussan comes out, he’s not so happy. Him and Daivari beat up Eugene, then Hogan saves the day… urgh…

The Undertaker defeated Randy Orton

This was just prior to the run of Taker BANGERS at Mania, but this was just at the start of the ‘decent’ Taker Mania matches. An Undertaker about to reach (for me) his peak as a wrestler and performer. Up here against a Randy Orton that was good, but not yet great… but my oh my he was well on his way… This was really the first year as well where ‘The Streak’ was a major part of WrestleMania, and so the nearfalls in this match meant so much more. I will let you watch the match for yourselves, but I have to mention one of the all-time RKO/counter spots that took place here, the chokeslam into the RKO was incredible, it definitely popped the crowd, and was the first of many of those “THE STREAK IS OVER?” moments. Great video package before the match to give it that big time feel, followed by a really solid match after two megastar entrances. Taker of course gets the win after reversing a Tombstone attempt BY ORTON into his own. 13-0.


Trish Stratus (C) defeated Christy Hemme to retain the WWE Women’s Championship

Yeah… you already know, this was absolutely when it should’ve been Trish vs Lita on the biggest stage. But… yeah… The match was about 5 minutes long, and really wasn’t great, but really did Hemme belong in a singles match at WrestleMania? No absolutely not. But was she on the front of Playboy? Yes she was… so there’s your answer. At least Trish won I guess…


But… don’t worry ladies and gentleman… Because right after that, we have the small matter of this…

We saw Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, and then Marg Helgenberger (was once in CSI) at ringside… and then it was time…

Kurt Angle defeated Shawn Michaels

If you’re going to watch anything from this show, I implore you to pick this match.

Two of the all-time greats, for me anyway they were both in their peak years, but amazingly if you fast forward two years… one of these two are in the main event, the other isn’t even in the company… This was your inter-promotional match of the show, something they liked to do since the days of the brand split. Fortunately this was just a tad better than Goldberg vs Lesnar from the year prior… The video before the match was great and made the match feel like a huge deal, but I don’t think you needed to sell this match to anyone with anything more than letting these two wrestle one another. The whole match was good, but the last 5 minutes or so was out of this world. Kurt screaming at Shawn to tap, and then Michaels hitting the superkick was a great spot, and the finish with Kurt getting the Ankle Lock and HBK desperately trying to get out of it time and time again, only to finally have to submit to the delight of a split crowd, but one that was louder in it’s support of the American Hero.

This was an all-time classic match, and one of the greatest in WrestleMania history.


Mae Young and Moolah were pictured in the crowd… Before something on this show that, I’ll be honest, I totally forgot about coming into it until it happened… but this was really fun.

‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper came out for a ‘Piper’s Pit’ segment… and his guest was none other than STONE COLD STEVE AUSTIN! Two of the best talkers in the history of the business, so as you can imagine, this one was lively… And then for some reason… Carlito came out in the middle of it… and then that went how you’d imagine for him…

Oh, and don’t think Austin didn’t get his in on Piper as well… because OF COURSE he did!!!

Next we had… erm… a SUMO MATCH… Yep…

Akebono defeated Big Show in a SUMO match

I guess you needed a let-up between Steve Austin and the WWE Championship match… but… I don’t even know what to say about this. The two big dudes had a worked sumo match, where they… jostled (?) for position, and for the… finish (?) Big Show lifted the other dude, before getting flung outside the circle and out of the ring. They showed respect to one another afterwards… Yeah… let’s move on…


We had another really good video (they were consistently strong on this show) building up to our semi-main event…

John Cena defeated John Bradshaw Layfield (C) to win the WWE Championship

John Cena had his usual entrance. JBL was super extra, limousine, ‘JBL Dollars’ raining down… but unusually JBL sent Orlando Jordan and The Cabinet to the back. He would go it on his won her to fend off his latest challenger on day 242 as WWE Champion.

Solid match, you’d expect longer at Mania, but it became a theme in these manias of this era to follow, that whatever the ‘secondary’ world title was (at 21,22 and 23 in particular), got less time and build than whatever went on last. And the finish came out of nowhere too… We didn’t know it at the time, and given this was the penultimate and not the final match of WrestleMania 21 I don’t think WWE knew it either, bit this was one of the most significant title wins in WWE history. The dawn of the new era of the company… Hogan had Mania 3 against Andre, Austin had 1998 against HBK, and WrestleMania 21 by beating JBL was the start of the rise of John Cena as THE guy in WWE. Number 1 was here… and we had just the 15 to still come…


Next we had ‘Mene’ Gene Okurlund lead the parade of the 2005 Hall of Fame inductees. The class this year was as follows: Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Paul Orndorff, Jimmy Hart, ‘Cowboy’ Bob Orton, ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper and Hulk Hogan. A heck of a class to be fair, very much one with a nod to the very first WrestleMania, which given it was 20 years prior to this one, makes a lot of sense.

And now it was finally time, for the main event of WrestleMania 21. And as it should be, the spot went to a long term story between two huge stars, the estabilished big star heel vs the babyface monster that was about to blow through the stratosphere… all for the richest prize in the game.

Batista defeated Triple H (C) (with Ric Flair) to win the World Heavyweight Championship

Triple H had a typically-spectacular entrance for the show of shows, this time with Motorhead playing him out. Batista just came out looking like a monster with that awesome original entrance theme.

They had done such a good job of slowly but surely building up Batista to be the guy. And now, in the biggest spot of them all, it was his time. This was a solid match for me, not the most amazing in-ring classic but for me it was fine. For me this match was all about the story, of Triple H trying all his usual tricks (sledgehammer and Ric Flair included) that had helped him dominate the World title scene for close to 3 years, but for Batista to be the man to bat away every obstacle that the champion threw at him.

I thought the commentary from Jim Ross was magic here. He, as always, made the biggest moment of the year feel like just that. And credit to Tripel H as well, who’s facials of absolute despair and fear that this monster had beaten him, and left him in a bloodied heap, were exceptional. Right result here, the only result really, and a new man to dominate the big gold belt scene for the following 3/4 years was here.


I quite enjoyed WrestleMania 21. Sure it had it’s low points, and was far from perfect. But there’s an argument to be made that it was one of the most historically significant shows in WWE history. Look at who took the headlines on this show… Batista and Cena walked out as world champions, Edge won the Money In The Bank, and Randy Orton put in a heck of a performance in arguably the biggest match of his career to date, certainly the one on the biggest stage in a singles match that he had had up to this point. 4 men there who would dominate WWE for the decade that followed. At the conclusion of this show, 3 world titles between those 4 men. As I write this, collectively that number is at 47. In terms of recommendations, if you want a fun show this is the one, the matches are mainly all fine with the ladder match being good, and of course HBK and Angle putting on an all-timer that you should definitely see. But this show was about making stars, just as WrestleMania should be.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.