I watched the show live last weekend with some friends. It wasn't the "greatest of all time" but it was still a fine show. It was also the first full wrestling event I've watched in HD, so I think I was noticing a lot more of the botches than I normally would, as there seemed to be quite a few scattered throughout the evening.
Unified Tag Team Championship: ShoMiz vs. John Morrison/R-Truth
You could tell from the opening bell that this was going to be short, as they wasted no time hitting their key spots and signature moves. The match only went a little over 3 minutes, so while obviously robbed for time, it was an enjoyable 3 minutes. I'm mainly glad that the tag titles weren't kicked down to dark match status. *1/2.
Randy Orton vs. Ted Dibiase vs. Cody Rhodes
I think I liked this more than most people, as the general perception is that Rhodes and Dibiase came off as the two biggest jobbers who ever jobbed before. They held their own up until Orton took advantage of their dissension and punted Rhodes in the head and RKO'd Dibiase for victory. The more troubling aspect here is how after two solid years of being pushed heavily that the crowd didn't care one bit for either Legacy member. **1/2.
Money in the Bank
Generally brutal and exciting, as usual, just missing the one or two really big !!! spots. The highlight was easily Evan Bourne's Shooting Star Press off a ladder. Sadly, Kofi Kingston botches a run up a ladder for a corner attack. I have to admit, that I did not see the Jack Swagger victory coming, nor did I see him cashing it in less than a week later. I enjoyed this and I liked seeing most of the guys in the match get a spot at Wrestlemania (though again, it's kind of sad just how not over Drew McIntyre is despite months of an aggressive push).
Triple H vs. Sheamus
A lot of folks out there are claiming that Triple H's victory here means that Sheamus is finished. That really isn't the case, as this was a competitive 12 minute match and the feud doesn't seem to be over. There is a big difference between HHH nailing the pedigree on Booker T and waiting an eternity to pin him and Sheamus eating the pedigree and getting pinned immediately after. This was about what I expected, **1/2.
CM Punk vs. Rey Mysterio
Like the opening match, I could sense this was going to be quick just by how they were pacing themselves from the opening bell. They packed a lot of action into the 6-7 minutes they got. They even squeazed in a good story, with Punk outsmarting Mysterio most steps of the way, including numerous blocks/reversals of the 619. Ultimately, Rey got the win, so all the kids in the stadium got a feel-good moment. It doesn't appear this feud is over either. **1/2.
Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon
This was a mess. It went about 11 minutes, which was about 10 minutes too long. Normally these Vince at 'Mania matches are entertaining train wrecks, but it was like they didn't even try, especially with Vince carting out the entire Hart family and Hart Dynasty from the very beginning, claiming he had paid them off to betray Bret. Even Stevie Wonder could see the coming swerve, as it turns out they took Vince's money and decided to screw him. Bret awkwardly beat down Vince while the crowd waited patiently for the sharpshooter. No rating, but this was bad.
World Heavyweight Championship: Chris Jericho vs. Edge
I really enjoyed this one and got sucked in by it. I was so happy when Jericho won, that it feels a bit more frustrating that he reign would end two days later at the Smackdown tapings. It was also surprising that Jericho got a semi-clean victory, as Edge had foiled his cheating attempts up until the Codebreaker finished things after about 16 minutes. I thought for sure that this was just going to be false finish, so when the referee counted 3 it got quite the surprised reaction from me. I have a feeling that repeated viewings will cause my heart to grow fonder of this bout, but for now I'd peg it at ***1/2.
This worked a lot better than last year's disasterous battle royal, but still was not a good match by any stretch of the imagination. It was basically each diva hitting the one good move they each know until Vickie attempted a frog splash and won the match. Seriously, Vickie's splash is bound to go down in history as one of the all-time great bad moments in wrestling. *
WWE Championship: Batista vs. John Cena
Maybe it was the HD, but I found this to be largely sloppy and something of a mess up until things got hot down the final stretch. They packed in a lot of reversals and counters that might have been awesome if not for the fact they were so badly executed. Despite all that, I was pretty into the match, and the finish was satisfying. Repeat viewings might help this one as well, ***.
Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker
My sense as the bell rang here was that this match would make or break this show. The stipulations here added a lot, as I couldn't really imagine either man winning because what it would mean for the other. I enjoyed watching this more than I have any other live match in years. The final stretch, where Undertaker helped Shawn up, only to get slapped, and responding with a jumping tombstone piledriver was a fantastic moment and a fitting way for Shawn Michaels to call it a career. I liked this more than last year's Shawn/Taker match, ****3/4.