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Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 421 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: July 4 2005
Going into WrestleMania 21, I was less excited about the show than any WM to date, largely due to the general decline in quality of WWE TV over the previous 12 months. However, the PPV ended up being much better than expected despite some flaws, and the DVD set is better still.
The in-ring action kicks off with Eddie Guerrero vs. Rey Mysterio, a good opener which would have seemed better had it not been compared to their WCW Halloween Havoc 1997 classic. But the following Money In The Bank Ladder match is more than acceptable: the first MITB bout is truly incredible. Shelton Benjamin is the star with his daredevil stunts, but it is Edge who obtains the briefcase that would be used to begin his main event run in WWE.
Hulk Hogan’s return to save Eugene from Muhammad Hassan and Daivari is a WM moment. Then comes the first Mania bout based on The Undertaker’s undefeated record at WrestleMania. The Streak had only been slightly acknowledged prior to Randy Orton, the Legend Killer, vowing to kill the legend of The Streak at WM 21. Despite Randy’s best efforts, Taker wins to go 13-0, although some at the time felt like The Dead Man didn’t have many WM matches left in him. How wrong they were.
An okay Women’s Title match is followed by the bout I had anticipated for years: the first ever clash between Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle. Projections were high, so it could easily have disappointed, but instead we got the absolute classic that we had hoped for. Kurt wins by submission, a shock since the result wasn’t predictable, the match was so competitive and the winning method was unexpected. For those reasons, and for the match quality, to me this may be the best bout in WrestleMania history (Taker-Shawn 1 and 2 were phenomenal, but the results were still predictable).
Then comes Piper’s Pit with Stone Cold Steve Austin. Both icons were making their on-screen returns here, and they delivered a very entertaining segment, albeit one that could have done with a few more minutes before Carlito gets involved. The subsequent Sumo match between Big Show and Akebono isn’t much but, hey, that’s what the fast-forward button was invented for on your remote.
That aside, this show had seemed phenomenal so far, but unfortunately it is prevented from being the best Mania ever by the last two bouts. John Cena’s WWE Title win over JBL was expected to be poor and it was, although it was still better than what most predicted (and I was personally delighted that JBL finally lost the gold). The main event for the World Title between Batista and Triple H had a tremendous build-up but, whilst the match is alright, it doesn’t quite live up to the hype as the Animal becomes Champ for the first time.
However, whilst the two closing matches failed to deliver fireworks in the ring, they did crown the new faces of WWE, who would rule the company for years to come (and still do in Cena’s case). That factoid combined with the great and classic matches beforehand and the comebacks of three all-time greats ensure that whilst WM 21 wasn’t the best Mania ever, it’s definitely one of the top five or ten in the event’s history.
The DVD set provides even more engaging content, as stated. The tradition of having the Hall Of Fame ceremony included as a DVD extra began here, and the 2005 event celebrated the first WrestleMania, twenty years on. The inductees are The Iron Sheik and Nicholai Volkoff (who won the Tag Titles at WM), Jimmy Hart (a manager on the show) and four men involved in the card’s main event: Mr. Wonderful, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Cowboy Bob Orton (their manager that night) and star inductee Hulk Hogan.
Actually, Piper could have been a star inductee too, and his induction by Ric Flair provides entertainment before Hot Rod’s own enjoyable speech. But Hogan is clearly the star of the show (his inductor is Sylvester Stallone), and his induction is monumental considering his status as one of the very biggest names in wrestling history. Add to that other enjoyable moments (The Iron Sheik’s speech will raise done smiles), and a fun atmosphere (this was the first HOF in an arena setting and with ‘proper’ fans in attendance), and you get a Hall Of Fame presentation that is well worth watching.
The other extras include a pre-show inter-brand Battle Royal, footage shot around WM 21 weekend, match-based promos to, erm, promote the show and, most notably, all of the film spoof trailers which were also used to promote the event. They’re something of a guilty pleasure in that you assume they’ll be hammy, and some are, but on the whole they are quite entertaining and despite what I felt at the time, you look back and wish they had actually produced a couple more.
As a complete package, then, the WrestleMania 21 DVD set is exceptional. The event has plenty of exciting or historic moments, including two classic matches (one of which is one of the best WM bouts ever); the HOF has big names and is entertaining; and the other extras are worthwhile too. Despite the match quality of the two main events, WM 21 serves as a vintage WrestleMania DVD which you should own if you don’t already.
Overall Rating: 9.5/10 – Classic