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WrestleMania XX
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By Mark Nulty

Iím going to duck as a I say this butÖ

I was disappointed with WrestleMania XX.

I thought the card had so much potential going in. There were so many matches I was looking forward to. You had five matches that could get main event billing. But something fell flat.

For what itís worth:

1) Four hours and 45 minutes is just too long. Especially watching on television, which has a different dynamic than attending an event live. You get tired and everything starts to blur together. It appeared that the crowd got tired and restless, too.

Maybe it wasnít the length as much as it was the filler. Actually, this was more like a two-and-a-half hour show stretched out to four hours and 45 minutes.

I think the WWE does a brilliant job with the video packages. But you end up going, ďshow the match already!Ē I understand that WrestleMania gets more casual viewers watching than other Pay Per Views and you feel a need to catch them up to speed as to why a particular match is important. But a 60-second voice over some footage would have served the same purpose. Maybe itís because Iíve been watching the television regularly and know the angles, but I found myself dreading the possibility of having to sit through another mini-movie and then another skit or interview and then the entrances before I got to see another match.

2) Maybe everybody doesnít have to be in WrestleMania. This is easy for me to say since a lot of the wrestlersí income is derived from Pay Per View bonuses and there will be no bigger cash cow for the boys than WrestleMania. But jamming so many guys onto the card with a shoehorn hurt the show. Two four-team elimination matches? The matches would have meant more if you had built the tag team titles on each show to mean something and then built the challenging teams. That many guys in the ring with that little time makes sure nobody gets over.

I feel the same way about the Cruiserweight Open. Interesting concept, except youíre only giving them 11 minutes. I think the entrances took longer than the match. You ended up with guys flying through nothing but high spots and finishes and nothing meant anything.

And then there were the actual matches.

Chris Jericho and Christian were the biggest disappointment on the show. Maybe itís because I had such high expectations for the match. Iíve always enjoyed watching both guys.

But I thought they fell flat here.

The match didnít jive with their television program. They were so furious with each other on television they kept attacking each other in the back. But shortly after the bell rings here we're back to high spots. There was no intensity.

It was almost paint by the numbers match. It was spot after spot after spot with lots of high impact bumps.  

Each guy hit false finishes with his opponent popping right up. The moves didnít build to anything. Both would register the big bumps but neither took the time to actually sell anything. It was a sprint to the next spot. The match didnít tell a story. Watching the match on television, the crowd appeared to be sitting on its hands.

The Cruiserweight Open had an excuse for rushing through their match, it was a ton of guys and they only had 11 minutes. Jericho and Christian had 15 minutes.

Then there was the finish. These guys are taking these huge bumps off the ropes and down to the floor and canít beat each other. They kick out of each otherís finishing moves. Jericho catches a back elbow from a girl and gets beat? So in other words, Trish is tougher than either one of them. It's more devastating to get hit with Trish's back elbow than Christian's unprettier.

How flat was Christian versus Jericho? Nobody thought John Cena versus Big Show would be a good match. It was a better match then Christian and Jericho. Cena sold well for Show. They told a story with the match. The finish worked. Cena needed brass knucks and needed to hit his finisher to beat the Giant.

I won money predicting Trish's turn. Not because it was great booking, but because it was so predictable. This is how the WWE always turns its women.

The WWE mantra when booking women is simple, "Women are evil and manipulative. If you ever trust one, you'll regret it. They will always betray you."

There certainly wasn't any other logic for booking this turn. Christian has constantly disrespected Trish verbally and annihilated her physically. Yet she ends up double-crossing Jericho anyway and siding with Christian.

The message: "Women like it when men treat them like this."

Evolution vs Rock & Foley was a good match, but... This is where on the show they needed violence.

I thought there were several really good angles heading into WrestleMania, but I thought this was the hottest.

They did such a good job giving Rock and Foley, particularly Foley, a reason for vengeance.

The terrific beat down for what seemed like forever with no help for Foley... the muggings in the back... Mick Foley's grotesque eye... the personal humiliation and degradation between Foley and Orton.

The match itself was fine. I had no problem with the action or the clean finish with Orton going over.

But there was never an element of danger.

It never seemed like either team was going for physical retribution, particularly the baby faces.

If there was ever a match that needed a heightened level of violence on the show, it was this one.

It was the one match on the show that needed color.

We got an excellent tag team match but we didn't get the next chapter of the blood feud they built up on television.

When did they put Fred Ottman in the Ultimo Dragon costume? I don't know if I ever saw a wrestler as talented as Ultimo Dragon have such a bad night.

He fell on his entrance, slipped on the ropes during his introduction, and blew a spot.

In his defense, there may have been something on the ramp making people slip. Rey Mysterio also was safe at second during his entrance.

If it's one thing cruiserweights can't afford, it is to look clumsy.

Brock Lesnar vs Bill Goldberg was bizarre.  I guess everybody in Madison Square Garden reads the Internet. Either that or a few people started chanting "you sold out" and everybody else just thought it would be fun to join in.

I think I understand what they were trying early. They were trying to do the old school big man psychology in building up to the first lockup. Instead of building up anticipation, it just fueled the fans to get angrier and chant louder.

They were going for Andre the Giant and Don Leo Jonathan and instead ended up delivering Larry Zbyszko vs Al Madril (the masters of going as long as they could without locking up).

It actually didn't matter what kind of match Goldberg and Lesnar had, the crowd was never going to give them a chance.

The two title matches delivered.  Give Kurt Angle, Eddie Guerrero, HHH, Shawn Michaels, and Chris Benoit credit. By the time they hit the ring, the crowd had been sitting there for literally hours and had seen a mixed bag.

When you think of this show without the two World title matches, it gets a little scary.

WrestleMania XX was not a terrible show by any stretch.

But when so many matches had so much potential but didn't deliver, it has to be considered disappointing.

Mark Nulty is a professional journalist that has been in the professional wrestling industry since the mid-80s as an announcer, referee and promoter.

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© 2004 Wrestling Classics, Inc.: Mark Nulty
© 1998 Design: Jan Herod
Created: October 1998