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Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 454 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: July 5 2004
WrestleMania XX was the most hyped WM in history (with the possible exception of WM 28), with the tag line “Where It All Begins Again.” The show had its hits and misses, but in hindsight it fell a little short of the hype, so the slogan was only partly applicable. As a DVD set, though, you should get enough entertainment from it to warrant a purchase (and this was the first PPV that WWE ever released as a 3-disc DVD). Note that the WM event alone is over 4 1/2 hours long, the longest PPV in WWE history, and has a whopping 12 matches, so don’t watch it all at once!
After a adrenaline-pumping opening video, WM XX starts with John Cena taking a big step to stardom as he beats Big Show for the United States Title in what was probably their best match together (ironically, Cena was hugely cheered here, and some even complained that he wasn’t already main eventing WM; how things change). A four-way tag for the Raw belts is alright but feels like filler, a way to squeeze Booker T, RVD, The Dudleyz and others onto the card. Next is Chris Jericho vs. Christian, a good little match that surprisingly sees Christian win and, even more shockingly, sees Trish Stratus turn on Y2J and align with Captain Charisma.
Next up is the first of five huge matches: Mick Foley returns to action proper as he teams with The Rock to reform The Rock ‘n’ Sock Connection against Evolution (Ric Flair, Randy Orton and Batista). It’s entertaining and fun, but for a WM, and a landmark Mania at that, it’s a bit disappointing; even Foley admitted that he was disappointed with it. Evolution win as Orton scores a major win to pin Foley clean but, looking back, the subsequent Foley-Orton war at Backlash probably should have been here instead. This was also notable because, for a very long time, it seemed like this would be The Rock’s last match. Only when the WM 28 clash with Cena was announced did we discover otherwise.
On it went: a tag Playboy-themed Divas bout should please those who watch just for the eye candy. A Cruiserweight Open is entertaining but rushed (unavoidable on a show like this, to be fair). Then comes a really controversial bout: Brock Lesnar vs. Goldberg, with Stone Cold as referee. On paper, this had ‘SlobberKnocker’ written all over it, although knowledge that Goldberg was probably leaving WWE afterwards harmed the build-up. Imagine the shock, then, when it was strongly rumoured in the final days before WM that Lesnar was also about to leave for different reasons (Brock wanted to become an NFL player). This was the days before Twitter, and wrestling websites weren’t as common as they are now, so nobody knew the full stories; just that both were likely to say farewell to WWE after their match.
The result? A weird spectacle wherein the MSG fans hijacked the match with chants of “This Match Sucks!”, “Boring!” and “You Sold Out!” Even if both weren’t leaving, Lesnar would likely have received a more positive reaction than Da Man, a former WCW star, in a hardcore WWE town. When reports said that Brock was going too, though, fans cared about neither man; only Stone Cold had his name chanted. Making matters worse, the match was booked to feature not a lot of action (some say deliberately), leaving us with a scrap memorable for the wrong reasons.
Goldberg provoked slight cheers when he won, but Lesnar was hammered with the “Goodbye” song afterwards. Fans seemed livid that Brock was turning his back on wrestling (Goldberg’s contract had expired and was fed up in WWE) and let him know. Austin Stunnered Brock and, after sharing beers with Goldberg, he Stunned him too. Fans were delighted with Stone Cold’s actions; ironically, though, Austin himself left WWE just a few weeks later. A bizarre presentation in the pre-“Cena Sucks!” era, then, but unforgettable nevertheless.
After that train wreck comes another filler four-way tag for the SmackDown! belts and a short Women’s Title bout which results in Molly Holly being shaved bald. Match ten is Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle for the WWE Title, a bout that is underrated but was not quite a classic. Still, Eddie triumphing as Champ at WM was a moment. Prior to his title win over Lesnar at the previous month’s No Way Out, Eddie as top dog seemed unthinkable.
Then comes The Undertaker’s return to his Dead Man character to fight Kane. The build-up was phenomenal. The entrance was great. Paul Bearer’s surprise return was also good. But then Taker comes out with only a minor adjustment to his biker look, and the match with Kane is brief and ends with one Tombstone (it took three to beat him at WM 14). It serves its purpose and was highly anticipated, but in the end it fell a little bit flat.
The twelfth and final match, then, the main event: Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit vs. Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship. This 3-way match delivers everything it promised and more; it is a great end to WM 20. I did feel that the match was a bit overrated by some (it wasn’t quite the best match in WM history despite what some say). Sadly, the result (Benoit making HHH submit to become Champ) and closing scene (longtime friends and now titleholders Benoit and Eddie celebrating together) are forever tarnished by the 2007 Benoit Tragedy. No Benoit match is more uncomfortable to watch than this one because it showed how good he was (one of the best technical wrestlers ever) and how much he was respected before the incident that destroyed his legacy beyond repair.
So, to recap: Where It All Begins Again applied in that Cena, Christian, Orton, Eddie and Benoit achieved major wins, but the top two stars were goners within 3 1/2 years, Christian’s win wasn’t quite built upon, and bigger career-altering moments awaited Cena and Orton in the months to come. It served more as an end, as it seemed Rock, Lesnar and Goldberg had retired (and Goldberg hasn’t wrestled since). Elsewhere, some major bouts were disappointing, and some matches were clearly filler to get some names on the show (even then, some missed out, including Matt Hardy, Lita and Rhyno).
Compounding the issue to me at the time was the feeling, partly based on the year-long hype, that a major match was missing somewhere. Stone Cold had retired at WM 19 but a retirement match was expected here. Hulk Hogan had left WWE in June 2003 and hadn’t made amends in time to return here. (Incidentally, Randy Savage had challenged Hulk to a match here; presumably, it was not accepted). The rumoured Vince McMahon vs. Eric Bischoff fight never happened here. And some bigger bouts felt a bit thrown together (Foley-Orton and Rock against another opponent would have been better).
On the whole, though, WrestleMania XX has something for everyone and, over its long running time, it delivers a lot of action and entertainment (for vastly different reasons). Slightly disappointing, then, but you should definitely enjoy the WM 20 card – assuming, that is, that you can ignore the grisly consequences of the man who won the main event.
The WM XX DVD, as stated, broke new ground as a 3-disc PPV release. The 2004 Hall Of Fame was released on its own DVD so, instead, the extras focus on pre- and post-match promos, hype packages, set-up matches and more (including a photo gallery). There are three standout extras: a WM trivia quiz which is a nice distraction; a US TV special hosted by Ric Flair highlighting the top ten WM matches from 1985-2003 based on wrestler’s picks (don’t take the list seriously as some choices are questionable); and The Mania Of WrestleMania, which at the time was a groundbreaking documentary which looked behind the scenes at WM XIX and is very compelling. Overall, then, the extras are more than worthwhile; disc 3 is one of the best discs to not feature matches for a WWE DVD ever.
Overall, then, the WrestleMania event itself has plenty of engaging content but falls short of the greatest in the event’s history and the hype which surrounded it beforehand. On DVD, though, it is definitely worthy of one’s attention, but again I reiterate that if you are uncomfortable watching Chris Benoit matches, do not watch this as the best match of the DVD is his crowning career moment. The extras are more than enjoyable, and as stated the documentary is a must-see. Only for the Benoit Tragedy, I would have given this a 9/10, but you can’t help but have that in mind when watching the main event, so I knock it down to an overall score of 8.5.
Overall Rating: 8.5/10 – Excellent