WrestleMania marked the dawn of a new era for WWE. The Rock was gone off to Hollywood and Stone Cold Steve Austin was two years retired. Brock Lesnar had left the company, and each experiment with pushing past WCW main eventers on top had come up short. WrestleMania 20 positioning Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero on top had satisfied hardcore fans, but neither of these top talents was quite equipped to be the face of the company for a more general audience.
WrestleMania 21 felt a lot like a reboot. The show coronated John Cena and Batista as the top two stars. Meanwhile, Randy Orton shored up his spot as a top-level guy in being booked as a serious threat to The Undertaker’s undefeated streak, while Edge established the foundation for his main event push in winning the original Money in the Bank Ladder Match. This article takes a look back at the best and worst the show had to offer.
Best Moment: Kurt Angle makes Shawn Michaels tap
By WrestleMania 21, both Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels were relatively old faces getting moved away from the main event picture in favor of new top guys. WWE shrewdly put them in a program with each other for a match that combined marquee value and arguably the two best in-ring performers on the roster for a match that would please purists and more casual fans alike.
Angle vs. Michaels delivered as an instant classic. It’s telling that, rather than settling for a more cliché happy ending at WrestleMania, the match honored a more realistic edge. Angle cinched in on the Ankle Lock and in a terrifically dramatic moment, HBK was ultimately forced to tap out.
Worst Moment: The Big Show dresses the part for his sumo match
The idea of booking a novelty sumo match between Akebono and The Big Show for WrestleMania 21 made some sense as a unique spectacle. Moreover, The Big Show had the name value and physical size to be credible and make this match something of a novelty draw for WrestleMania.
The moment Show appeared in traditional sumo garb, though, it was difficult to take this match seriously. His absurd appearance undercut any gravity the match might have had, and set up fans to under-appreciate the blah worked sumo contest to follow.