Thursday, March 31, 2011

2011 MLB predictions

By Rick Morris


X-Boston 96-66

Y-New York Yankees 89-73

Tampa Bay 88-74

Toronto 78-84

Baltimore 77-85


X-Minnesota 88-74

Chicago White Sox 83-79

Detroit 80-82

Kansas City 73-89

Cleveland 70-92


X-Los Angeles Angels 86-76

Oakland 84-78

Texas 83-79

Seattle 74-88


X-Philadelphia 95-67

Y-Atlanta 86-76

Florida 83-79

New York Mets 75-87

Washington 71-91


X-Milwaukee 87-75

Cincinnati 83-79

St. Louis 79-83

Chicago Cubs 78-84

Houston 74-88

Pittsburgh 67-95


X-Colorado 86-76

San Francisco 84-78

Los Angeles Dodgers 81-81

Arizona 76-86

San Diego 75-87


Boston over Los Angeles Angels in 4

Minnesota over New York Yankees in 4

Philadelphia over Colorado in 4

Milwaukee over Atlanta in 5


Boston over Minnesota in 5

Philadelphia over Milwaukee in 6


Boston over Philadelphia in 7

AL Rookie of the Year: Desmond Jennings

AL Most Valuable Player: Robinson Cano

AL Cy Young Award Winner: Felix Hernandez

AL Manager of the Year: Bob Geren

NL Rookie of the Year: Freddie Freeman

NL Most Valuable Player: Hanley Ramirez

NL Cy Young Award Winner: Cliff Lee

NL Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke

World Series MVP: Carl Crawford

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

FDH Lounge #141: March 29, 2011

By Rick Morris

This week, we bring you “Bureau Night” on THE FDH LOUNGE (Tuesdays, 7-10 PM EST on The FDH New York Bureau, to be specific.

Ever since The FDH New York Bureau Steve Cirvello came in as an official part of The FDH Lounge back in 2008-09, he’s been the key individual in our guest-booking operation. And with March 29 serving as his birthday, we told The Bureau to load it up with many of his favorites over the first 140 episodes and he has done just that.

After The Opening Statements of The FDH Lounge Dignitaries and This Week in The FDH Lounge, we bring in one of the Dignitaries Steve has recruited for our ensemble: Steve Kallas, who is the anchor of the STN daytime lineup with The Steve Kallas Show, heard Monday-Friday at Noon EDT on the Network. With his background at the intersection of sports, ethics and the law, we’ll get his analysis on some of the biggest headlines of the moment: the Barry Bonds trial, the LT “I don’t card them” fiasco and ramifications of the NFL lockout.

At the top of Hour Two, we go to another of our favorites, sportscaster Joe Staszak, who has been on top of many of the big sports stories of the moment, such as March Madness, the puzzling health status of Chase Utley and the upcoming Stanley Cup Playoffs. We’ll break down these matters and more. We follow this with another of the Bureau’s all-time booking coups as “the search is over” for a huge return to The Lounge! Jimi Jamison, best known as the longtime lead vocalist for Survivor, will be discussing his past, present and future music projects with us just as he first did on Episode #61 back on June 10, 2009. His experience with different bands is vast and he’s even somebody with some up-close knowledge about the classic Memphis wrestling territory! We’ll cover a tremendous amount of ground with him.

In Hour Three, FDH college hoops analyst Nate Noy – who is poised to do very well in his bracket pools with his “alternate bracket” with Kentucky on top – comes in to review the most chaotic March Madness in years and preview this weekend’s Final Four setup. Then, we bring back from Episode #108 last June 30 a man who has climbed through the journalism ranks to become the CEO of a thriving Internet television network. Jim Louderback heads up Revision3, which is one of the entities most responsible for the growing convergence of the Web and traditional television. Then, THE FANTASY DRAFTHELP.COM INSIDER gets you ready for your forthcoming auctions and drafts with more last-minute advice. Be sure to utilize our huge guide FANTASY BASEBALL DRAFTOLOGY 2011!

As always, we urge you to watch the show live (or listen if you’re on dial-up), but if you can’t catch this as it’s happening, you can always catch the FDH archives 24-7 right here or catch us on iTunes. Also, you can sample THE FDH LOUNGE VAULT, a compilation of our best interviews and roundtables, now every weeknight from 6-7 PM, also on

Monday, March 28, 2011

FDH Fantasy Newsletter: Volume IV, Issue XII

By Rick Morris

For the most part, we keep our fantasy content on our fantasy website and fantasy blog and keep this site for content on all subjects. It allows our readers to find specific content more easily that way. However, it has come to our attention that because our new fantasy sports newsletter is published on the older Blogger platform that our readers may be limited in their ability to subscribe to it. There does not appear to be a way to have content on the blog forwarded to an aggregate news reader -- however, we know that we have that ability here. So we will link to that newsletter each week right here when it is published. Here is this week's newsletter.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Ranking the WrestleManias: 9 to 3

By Kyle Ross (posted by Rick Morris)

9. WrestleMania 23 (2007): Twenty years later, they return to the Detroit area to celebrate the anniversary of WM 3. This show did monster business (record 1.2 million buys) in large part to the Donald Trump vs. Vince McMahon hair vs. hair stip involved in the Bobby Lashley vs. Umaga match. McMahon deserves credit for following through, but what's more important I think is that this match was supposed to turn Bobby Lashley into a star for years to come and that just didn't materialize as he wasn't with the company even a year later. Both of the two World Title Matches - Cena/HBK and Batista/Taker - are given time here and as a result it's the only WM in the "brand split" era where one of the World Title matches isn't really treated as inferior. Of course, there was plenty of controversy as to which match would go on last behind the scenes. The call was made for Cena/HBK (although Taker won the Rumble) and Batista and Taker were reportedly not happy. They go out and have a tremendous match, probably slightly better than Cena/HBK, which didn't have as much drama b/c who thought HBK (in reality a sub for the injured Triple H) was going over? Interestingly, there would be rematches of both title matches in the following month and in both instances the rematch was even better. Mr Kennedy won the last very good Money In The Bank match. That should have kicked off a great WWE career as they had big plans for him (main eventing WM 24), but injuries (story of his career) ruined that. Honestly, nothing else on this show mattered.

8. WrestleMania 26 (2010): The string of recent WMs continues with last year's event, which was very good. Almost nothing sucked save for Bret-Vince, which was so anticipated and after all that time just came off flat. I remember the song in the video package being very bad. I had no issue with the chair shots to Vince as that's what the payoff should have been given the history. Of course, after they tore the house down the year prior, Taker and HBK go on last here in streak vs. career and to Michaels' credit, there hasn't even been a peep about a comeback. As for the match, I'd give the previous year's a slight nod, but this was still ****1/2. Cena-Batista was a good World Title match (****) that could have meant even more had they not rushed a program between the two several years earlier at a SummerSlam. From the Smackdown side, Edge-Jericho and Rey-Punk both deserved more time, yet were still very good. Did Triple H really need to go over Sheamus, given that he was leaving? The answer is no. When the decision was made to go with Orton as a face and ditch Legacy, it was pretty much projected that kind of booking would do no favors to Rhodes and Dibiase. That turned out to be very accurate. Orton was getting the title back soon anyways. The Money In The Bank match, won by Jack Swagger of all people, was the weakest of the six ever at a WM. One year later and it’s almost comical to think that Swagger was ever a champion. The Tag Title opener was so rushed, it could have fit in at WM2.

7. WrestleMania 21 (2005) - Call me old-fashioned, but I've never really been a fan of the "two world titles" idea. I think it just devalues the concept of a World Title match and confuses John Q Walmart as to who the focal point of the promotion should be. Look at the top drawing periods in company history. There was a singular guy on top - Sammartino, Hogan, Austin, etc. That being said, I thought the one period where having two World Champs was beneficial was here as (Dave) Batista and John Cena both won their first World Titles at this show. It's pretty interesting to go back and look at this. At the time, it wasn't really known which guy was going to be the future of the company. Funny how it turned out to be Cena, but it was Batista's title win that drew the house here and was featured more prominently. I wonder if in retrospect they would still have them "switch brands" mid-year. As for the matches themselves, neither is really that good and both were considered disappointing at the time. In both cases, there were eventual rematches that were MUCH better (Cena-JBL at Judgment Day & Batista/HHH at Vengence). The Batista-Triple H storyline building up to the event was very good and was a huge save after the Orton turn was fumbled. Cena's title win over JBL didn't get nearly as much time on the show and I think everyone was just happy to see JBL finally lose the title after way too long of a reign. There are two outstanding matches on this show and they are the first HBK/Angle PPV match (****1/2) and the first Money in the Bank ladder match (****1/4). I remember being quite happy at the time that Angle went over. It's a Top 10 WM match all-time. As for Money In The Bank, it kicks off the push of heel Edge, which actually worked out better long term for the company than Angle going over HBK did. Other than Kane in MITB, it was quite the lineup w/ Benjamin, Benoit, Jericho and Christian. I thought the Guerrero-Mysterio opener was a bit disappointing as Eddie had not yet turned heel and this was another instance of a later rematch being better. Some of the brand-only PPV's really weren't that bad during this time. As I think I mentioned before, I really wouldn't have minded Orton going over Taker here, but in retrospect that probably would have been a bad idea and didn't Orton take time off following this show anyways? There were two real "dogs" on the card w/ Big Show/Akebono and Stratus/Hemme, but thankfully both were kept very short, leaving the majority of the time for six matches. This was probably the best Hall of Fame class ever as well w/ Hogan and Piper both going in the same year and both made appearances on this show; Hogan saving Eugene from Mohammed Hassan and Piper hosting a Piper's Pit with Steve Austin.

6. WrestleMania 19 (2003) - From a "wrestling" standpoint, this WM show has few peers. However, I had major issues with the booking at the time and still do today. Looking at the show "in a vaccum," I might have this lower than you think. It did see a noticeable drop in business from the other WM's of the era, so I can't be alone in thinking something just wasn't right. This is the first WM with two World Title matches. The featured one is Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle. The match itself was very good (****1/4), although I don't know if I liked the whole Lesnar losing the title and turning face thing from the fall of '02. Angle deserves MAJOR credit for going out there and doing this match as his neck was injured very badly at the time. In retrospect, coming back so soon probably led to his eventual downfall. Lesnar failing to hit that Shooting Star Press properly was a major letdown. The other title match was not as well received with Triple H spending weeks telling Booker T that "you people" aren't good enough to be a World Champ, then beating him. As far as major injuries go, Steve Austin almost didn't make this show either. I remember at the time being very happy he lost to heel Rock, but that just turned out to be a vehicle for Rock to then job to the incoming Goldberg, which I didn't think made sense at all since a WWE crowd will lean towards Rock over Goldberg. Anyways, Rock-Austin was their usual good match. The best match on the show was Jericho-HBK (****1/4) and again at the time, I really thought Jericho should have gone over. Hulk Hogan vs. Vince McMahon is actually fine for what it was supposed to be. It's right there with Vince's other WM matches vs. Shane and vs. HBK. The undercard was very rushed to get to the five main matches. Rey Jr vs. Matt Hardy deserved way more time. No one is complaining about Undertaker winning a handicap match over Big Show and A-Train in brief fashion. This was supposed to be a tag match involving Nathan Jones, but after all those vignettes, Jones turned out to be the biggest bust this side of Outback Jack. There were triple threat matches for both the women's and Tag Titles and in both instances the champs (Stratus and Team Angle) retained. My biggest contention with this show is that there is very little excitement coming out of it. It didn't leave you looking forward to anything. The PPV's that followed mostly blew and I can't even remember most of them. That wasn't the case in 2004. The booking in 2003 was a disaster for the most part. Compare the feeling at the end of this show to the end of the following year's show (up next) and you'll see why I buck convention in rating this below the 2004 show.

5. WrestleMania 20 (2004) - OK. Let's just get this out of the way. I loved this show at the time. In retrospect, it is a tough show to "love" as the main focus is Chris Benoit, easily the biggest piece of sh%& in the history of the industry, winning his first World Title. At the time, the title win was celebrated by the Internet like none other. Benoit and Guerrero standing in the middle of a WWE ring, both as World Champions, at the end of this show, was mark city even for this guy. After watching these two grow from the midcard to the main event over the course of a decade, it was a remarkable achievement even as talented as both were in the ring. For years, whether it was in WCW or WWE, the glass ceiling kept coming into play. It was only after Rock and Austin both left that Vince decided to elevate some fresh blood. I still really like the show today and have the main event ranked as the greatest Triple Threat Match in company history and sixth best match in WM history (****3/4). This is something that only an Internet wrestling fan would say, but had Benoit not murdered his family, it probably goes down as my favorite match of the decade. It’s still top five, as fair is fair, but I liked the first Taker-HBK WM match better and the three other matches from the decade I liked better were: Austin/Triple H vs. Jericho/Benoit from RAW in 2001, the first TLC match at SummerSlam 2000 and Angle/Benoit vs. Edge/Misterio at No Mercy 2002. So, I guess that's still three Benoit matches top five, so shame on me. As for the match itself, I had an issue with HBK's involvement going in, but that went away as he put in an incredible performance here. But Benoit owned the crowd. Triple H was excellent in his role and everyone wanted to see him lose and he tapped clean. While Benoit makes you more angry than anything in retrospect, watching Eddie Guerrero beat Kurt Angle (***3/4) is just kind of sad. Eddie won the title the previous month from Brock to much fanfare, but could not deal with the pressures of being on top, which is why we ended up getting JBL so soon. The rest of this show has both good and bad, but there was a lot that seemed like a big deal. Rock N Sock vs. Evolution was great, the 2nd best match of the night, with EVERYONE playing their roles perfectly and a surprise move putting Orton over Foley clean. You wanna watch a good promo/build? Check out Orton's promo/recap of the Foley feud prior to the match. This was probably the peak of Randy Orton, culminating in the win at Backlash over Foley, which is a Top 15 match of the decade. Jericho-Christian is a very good midcard match (***1/2). In the middle of this show, you have Lesnar vs. Goldberg, one of the biggest clusterfu$%s in wrestling history. However, it is enjoyable in a perverse sense with the crowd turning on both guys en masse and cheering special ref Austin (who pretty much smiles at both guys in a real "sucks to be you" moment). Undertaker went back to "old school" at this show, which was welcomed. Another match with Kane was not. John Cena wins the US title from Big Show here in a decent enough opener. Booking two four-corner, one-fall tag title matches was the perfect illustration why they never should have split the division. Rikishi & Scotty 2 Hotty as champs was another reason. Poor Molly Holly got her head shaved here.

4. WrestleMania 14 (1998) - I imagine that having this show ranked this high will come as a surprise. I loved this show at the time and it remains a shining example of getting the most out of what you have. Was the wrestling as good here as it was at some points in the previous three WM's we've discussed? No, but the talent level was also significantly lower. I can't stress how much more talented and deeper the WCW roster was at this point. That's what makes the WWF's stunning run during this period all the more incredible. They were thought to have a weak roster in 1997 and then they GOT RID OF Bret Hart! Shawn Michaels karmically hurt his back and this was going to be his swan song for four years. But what they did have is Stone Cold Steve Austin, as over an act as there ever was in wrestling history at this point, winning his 1st World Title in the Main Event. It's the best match of the show at ****, so from a wrestling standpoint this show is definitely below the WM's I have ranked 5-7, but the booking and build here were phenomenal. The Boston crowd was arguably the hottest ever for a WM show. And after this show was over, you knew something special had just happened and couldn't wait for RAW the following night (which was great) and eventually they overtook WCW and never looked back. Again, look at the rosters of the two company's at the time. Obviously, Austin was the key for the turnaround, but the booking was so superior to that of WCW at the time. The involvement of Mike Tyson was also a key. I was there live in Cleveland when he joined DX and it was a brilliantly done angle (JR: "This wasn't exactly the SportsCenter moment I was looking for!"). The end of the main event was obvious, but it should have been. And given Michaels' jobberitis at the time, maybe the result wasn't so obvious at the time? The rest of the show featured five other well built programs. There was the first Undertaker-Kane match, which given all that build was considered somewhat disappointing at the time as a match. I remember being shocked that Kane was given his heat back (he also tombstoned Pete Rose beforehand in an awesome bit) as I assumed he'd bite the dust like every other previous Taker monster opponent. 13 years later and he's still with the company! Triple H going over Owen Hart was considered a major surprise at the time, and while Owen deserved better in the wake of Bret's departure, putting Helmsley over was absolutely the right move as he was getting moved into the leadership role of DX. He would be joined by X-Pac, who debuted with a great promo the following night, and the New Age Outlaws, who lose here to Cactus Jack and Terry Funk only to win the titles back on RAW. Remember when the NAO were considered a hot act? They sure were here. Again, the build was great with an angle on RAW having the NAO pushing the hardcore legends off the ramp in a dumpster. (This was a dumpster match). And what about the stunning improvement of Rocky Maivia from the previous year? After a career-making heel turn, he wins (is given) back the IC Title he lost to no fanfare earlier in 1997 and starts a feud with Ken Shamrock, who was getting a big push and was actually very over at the time. They did a screwjob finish where Rocky tapped to the anklelock, but the decision was reversed when Shamrock kept kicking his ass. (JR: "The Irishman has been robbed in Boston!"). The visual of Rocky raising up the title belt while being stretchered out is beyond awesome. But when it comes to stunning, nothing was more stunning on this show than the performance of the second most over act in the company at the time - Sable. She and husband Marc Mero win a mixed tag over Goldust/Luna that is better than anyone thought was humanly possible. Do yourself and watch this again, the heat is incredible. Goldust, despite getting fatter by the day, was a bump machine here. Taka-Aguila is okay, but not close to the kind of Cruiserweight matches WCW was doing at the time, which is why the division was eventually ditched after never being taken seriously in the first place. The opening battle royal, there only to put over the new look LOD, is the only misfire on this show. Again, while some of the featured acts did not last, I love shows that not only meet, but exceed their potential. When was the last time we could say that about a WWE show?

3. WrestleMania 10 (1994) - When I think of the booking of this show, one word comes to mind - "ballsy." Not before and not after has Vince McMahon booked a show successfully in such a unique and creative manner. This is generally considered to be the apex of the "down period." Here's the setup: As we told you earlier, WrestleMania 9 was the worst WM ever and saw the title get put back on Hogan, a bad decision compounded by the fact that the Hulkster then refused to put over former champion Hart at SummerSlam. In the interim, Hogan got bounced and Yokozuna was made champion, which did not exactly translate into box office success. Vince wanted a "new Hogan" and thus turned to Lex Luger of all people, who after a hot start in the top babyface role started sputtering in his chase of the World Title, which was pretty much the story of his career. They probably should have given him the title at SummerSlam '93, but the decision was made for a long chase and build to WrestleMania despite the fact that as the months passed by, people started caring less and less about Lex. A funny thing then happened as the crowds continued to support Bret and an "audible" was called for the Royal Rumble with the infamous "tie" finish so that McMahon could evaluate who was going to be his top babyface - Luger or Hart - moving forward. Rather than do what they would do today and book a triple threat match (those really didn't exist in '94), they decided to book two World Title Matches here - one with Luger challenging and one with Hart challenging. A coinflip was held to decide who faced Yokozuna first and the winner of that match would defend against the loser of the coinflip in the final match. Luger won the coin flip. To offset the disadvantage, it was decided Hart would also have to wrestle earlier in the night and it would come against younger brother Owen, who had been asking unsuccessfully for months for a match with Bret and turned heel on him in a Tag Title Match at the Rumble. Whew.

So, when Bret-Owen opened WM 10, it was generally believed that Bret would go over b/c after all, he was challenging for the World Title at the end of the night and there would be a reconciliation with Owen. Instead, what we got was a ***** classic that turned Owen Hart from a JTTS to a main event player in one 20 minute swoop. The crowd going into shock when Owen gets the (clean) pin is a great reaction and not the kind of "bad heat" you get from some shock endings today. Skipping ahead, you have Luger getting screwed by special guest ref Mr Perfect in the first title match against Yokozuna (remember WM9?). That angle didn't really lead anywhere, but it didn't matter as Lex was again branded as a loser and his main event run was done. This left the seemingly unbeatable Yoko vs. an already defeated Hart in the final match w/ Roddy Piper making a surprise return to be special ref (introduced by a hammered Burt Reynolds as "one of his all time favorites"). And thankfully, one year later, all the wrongs are righted as Hart goes over in what admittedly is not a very good match, but afterwards McMahon surprised him by emptying all the babyfaces out of the locker room to celebrate. One guy who is not celebrating is Owen, who comes out and bang - you have your main event feud for 1994.

Of course, Bret-Owen wasn't even the best match on this show as Shawn and Razor "steal the show" with the first PPV ladder match, making this the only show in history where I've given two seperate matches ***** and puts both in the top four all-time WM matches. Although Razor goes over, this was the Shawn show and he'd be main eventing WM the following year. With the careers of Bret, Owen, Shawn and Razor (four key players for the next several years) being made and Lex and Yoko getting de-pushed, does it even really matter what is on the rest of this show? You have Savage's last hurrah, winning a Texas Death Match over Crush. Thankfully, the Doink and Dink are beaten clean by Bam Bam and Luna. Also, I appreciated Men on a Mission NOT winning the Tag Titles from the vastly underrated Quebecers. Alundra Blayze brought the women's title back to this show (yawn!) and Adam Bomb vs. Earthquake was just a backdrop for the scintillating Whippleman-Finkle feud. Earthquake was actually in line for a big push, but he quit soon after.

Ranking the WrestleMania: 19 to 10

By Kyle Ross (posted by Rick Morris)

19. WrestleMania 13 (1997) - For me this is the hardest WrestleMania to rank. It was the lowest-drawing WM on PPV, occurred at a time when the WWF was regularly getting its ass kicked by WCW on Monday Nights and had perhaps the least intriguing "main event" in WM history. The majority of the undercard is beyond hideous. But there is that Austin-Hart match, not only the best WM match ever, but the best match in company history. Consider this: before we all knew Austin would go on to become the #1 draw in company history (and this was the launching pad), this was voted 1997 Match of the Year by almost everyone that mattered in a year that also featured HBK-Taker in the 1st Hell in a Cell and Eddie-Rey at Halloween Havoc (which is considered by some to be the best WCW Match of the 90's). As for the match itself, it is flawless, pulling off an impossible double turn, where the key was that the crowd WANTED each guy to turn and it wasn't forced by the promotion. The fact that Hart was a virtual career babyface that had been with the company for over 10 years is a dynamic that can't be replicated. Neither can the incredible level Austin was working at here, as he could do no wrong. No matter what Bret may say about his feelings about going heel, his performances every week were phenomenal, both leading up and the aftermath (particularly the promo the following night). You know what's ironic? Everyone crucifies Michaels for the "losing my smile" stunt, but if not for that, we would not have gotten Austin-Hart here. Unfortunately, we did get a World Title Match of Undertaker-Sid, which is the second stinker put on by Sid Eudy in a WM closer. This was a crazy booking period for the Title, so it was nice to see Taker win and get a nice run. I must admit that the Ahmed/LOD vs. Nation of Domination street fight is not bad and Ahmed coming out with the LOD shoulder pads is a sight that would make a lesser man sh$& himself. Speaking of sh@&, how about the IC Title match of Rocky Maivia (he's a blue chipper, you know) vs. the Sultan, who was Rikishi doing an Arab gimmick co-managed by Bob Backlund and Iron Shiek. Neither guy was remotely over here and this was the start of the "Die Rocky Die" business. The Tag Title match was supposed to be a title change from Owen/Bulldog to Vader/Mankind, but Bret Hart apparantly pulled the "creative control" card so that Owen and Davey could have the belts for the Hart Foundation reformation and I have zero problem with that considering how it worked out. Also, the rest of the "tag division" was featured in the opening four-way and considering the Headbangers went over, depth was a major issue. Who thought that the New Blackjacks were a good idea? The only match I have yet to mention is Triple H-Goldust, which was simply a backdrop to get Chyna more over (and thus Helmsley too!).

18. WrestleMania 5 (1989)

17. WrestleMainia 4 (1988)

I'm going to talk about these two shows simultaneously. These are the two Trump Plaza WrestleManias and they are much maligned for the quality of the matches and the very non-wrestling crowds at the venue. Most would probably rank these two shows lower than I have them. However, for whatever reason, I have a soft spot in my heart for them and that probably has to do with how I was young and such a big mark at the time. One positive about these shows that MUST be mentioned is the almost unheard of synergy between them. When Randy Savage was standing in the ring with Hulk Hogan at the end of the 1988 show, it was known at the time that the two Mega Powers would be splitting up later in the year and wrestling in the main event of the 1989 show. Folks, you just don't get that kind of foresight anymore in this industry.

As for WrestleMania 4, I laugh at the notion that the show is "too long." Yeah, because internet wrestling fans have issues watching four hours of wrestling. Please! Now, the tournament is obviously not done in ideal fashion. But if you are expecting the 1994 Super J Cup from a Vince McMahon-booked show, well then keep waiting. It's unrealistic. Now, I will complain until my dying day that it is criminal not to have done Savage-Steamboat 2 in the second round, one year following the classic in Pontiac. Consider that when it came time for Savage-Valentine (who goes over Steamboat in Rd 1), the only two other guys left in the tournament were Million Dollar Man and One Man Gang, making the booking of Savage to the finals obvious. But that's the way they wanted it and since Steamboat was leaving, they weren't going to feature him in any way. As for the rest, Dibiase-Duggan isn't exactly reminiscent of their 1985 classic in Mid South. Muraco-Bravo has a terrible finish. Valentine-Steamboat MIGHT be the best match of the show. Savage-Reed is like every Randy Savage match between 1992-95 where he gets beat up the whole time and hits the elbow out of nowhere. Bigelow-Gang and Roberts-Rude are both disasters. At the time, I would have figured Bam Bam would make a run in this thing, but little did I know he was injured and soon to be 86'd. Why did they do a 15-minute draw with Roberts-Rude? So boring. Hogan-Andre kicks off the second round and probably peaked interest of the live crowd. This (and the whole tournament) was set up by Hogan and Andre rematching their famous WM3 showdown on NBC in February in front of a record TV crowd for wrestling. They did the famous twin Hebner finish and the post-match angle with Andre surrendering the title to Dibiase and the rest is history. As for Hogan-Andre 3, the spark is gone, the match is terrible and has a non-finish to boot. In defense of the booking, they had to do that finish to open it up for Dibiase and Savage. It's obvious that would be the Tourney Final from there and by the time they get there, everything is sort of rushed. Hogan coming out to be in Savage's corner was so obvious, but fine. This was probably the height for both Savage and Dibiase's careers. As for non-tourney matches, the less said about Warrior-Hercules the better. Had to keep Warrior out of the Tournament b/c they didn't want him to have to lose a match. Opening a major show with a battle royal full of Jobbers To The Stars is typically lazy, but the ending involving Bad News Brown and Bret Hart is semi-famous and helped turn Hart babyface. The IC Title match with Honky Tonk Man (!) and Brutus Beefcake was just an excuse to give Jimmy Hart a bad haircut. The tag title change of Demolition over Strike Force was a formality and even had the 1988 marks cheering for the heels. Strike Force NEVER would get a title reign that long today as they were transition champs from the Hart Foundation to Demolition and it was probably known months in advance Demolition was going over here. The British Bulldogs and Koko B Ware were absolutely buried in a clean loss to Bobby Heenan and the Islanders, but who cares? A tip of the cap to Bob Uecker for the best ever performance by a celebrity at a WrestleMania.

WrestleMania 5 for some reason was the start of a three-year WM trend where there were like 14 matches and almost none of them had well-built programs. The obvious exception is Savage-Hogan, which some would say is not as good a match as their initial house show run in late 1985. It's still good for a Hogan match. Too bad for Savage though, who had done the awesome heel turn two months prior on NBC, but was faced with an inevitable result. Much of the scorn for this show is directed at the Piper's Pit featuring Brother Love and Morten Downey. It is terrible. As for the matches, let's hit ‘em one by one. Hercules over King Haku in the opener was a way to put Herc over a member of the Heenan Family after being "sold" to Dibiase as a "slave" in a forgettable "angle." Rockers vs. Twin Towers was actually fun while it lasted. Today, everyone would bitch about the Rockers jobbing clean. I am more concerned with how Shawn & Marty were feuding with the Brain Busters at the time and those teams never had a PPV match. Jumping ahead, the Busters go over Strike Force in one of the better matches on the show. This was shortly after Martel's return from injury and he turned heel on Santana, which lost some of its impact due to Hogan and Savage doing the same angle two months prior. In between, you have Dibiase-Beefcake, two guys that were high on the card, but doing nothing at the time. You can smell the double countout during introductions. Bushwackers going over the Rougeaus is unforgivable. Perfect-Blazer is too short. Demolition are still champions a year later, but now are babyfaces and they go over the Powers of Pain and former manager Mr Fuji in a handicap match. Dino Bravo vs Rugged Ron Garvin just goes to show why everyone complains about Garvin being a former NWA Champ. (Probably why he jobbed so badly!) The Jake Roberts-Andre feud is one of my least favorite ever as it was impossible to have a good match with a desirable finish and John Studd as a babyface referee to reprise the old Andre feud did not help. There was actually an angle behind the Hart Foundation going over the not yet named Rhythm and Blues. Rude going over Warrior was a stunner at the time and not nearly as good as the rematch the two would have at Summer Slam that year. Hacksaw-Bad News was a double DQ waiting to happen. Only Al Snow could defend Rooster-Heenan. Hey, I remembered Terry Taylor was in the popcorn match at WrestleMania 5. He must have been over!

16. WrestleMania 25 (2009): The second time a WrestleMania was "headlined" by a babyface Triple H in a World Title Match, only for him to get outshined by another match. This time it was the classic Undertaker-HBK match (much better than Hogan-Rock), a near 5-star affair that probably ranks in my top five WrestleMania matches ever. Would anyone have guessed that 12 years after their classic Hell in the Cell Match that these two would go out and do it again? And then do it AGAIN a year later! I think that this was the peak of "the streak," which for years was a non-issue until someone woke up and was like "wow, Undertaker has never lost a WM match." For the most part, the streak has come at the expense of terrible opponents, so I had no issue with it. The only time I thought it "hurt" someone was Randy Orton in 2005, but by that point the Orton ship had kinda sailed anyways. I certainly didn't mind him going over Michaels here, particularly because it set up the rematch the following year. As for the rest of the show, blah. I actually made a bit of a mistake in my WM 18 writeup, inferring Triple H was "chasing" the title here. He was actually the defending champ vs. Randy Orton. It's sad when I had to look that up, but can run through WM 4 in my head and that show occured over 20 years ago. Anyways, the Triple H-Orton feud started hot, then got progressively less interesting as the weeks went by. I honestly have nothing of note to say about Cena vs. Edge vs. Big Show, the "other" World Title Match on this show. I don't know what to say about Rey vs. JBL either as it wasn't the most ideal way to put someone over on your way out, but he did put someone over. Jeff vs. Matt Hardy is kind of sad when you consider what they've become in TNA, but was solid, although the feud sputtered. The Chris Jericho vs. legends segment/match could have been a disaster if not for the insertion of Ricky Steamboat into the fray. Mickey Rourke's involvement came off as lame. CM Punk's second straight Midcard in the Bank win was good, but the match was short and the gimmick, while solid, was losing luster. Santina Marella is not funny.

15. WrestleMania 16 (2000): Funny how in the midst of one of the greatest periods in WWF history that year's WM turned out to be a real dud. Maybe it was because of the fact that for the first time in WM history a heel went over in the Main Event as Triple H's reign continued with the first of what would be many McMahon reunions. They probably should have just done Rock vs. Triple H here with Rock going over as evidenced by the following month's Backlash, which is a much better show than this. The four-person main event was a desperate attempt to involve all four McMahons, pretend that Big Show hadn't been a terrible investment when they signed him the year prior and a way to make Mick Foley look bad one month after he lost an outstanding retirement match. To be honest, multi-person matches were both the rule and the death of this show as there was not ONE singles men's match on the card! There was the first "Tables and Ladders" match between Edge & Christian, the Hardys and the Dudleys, which takes home match of the night honors, despite being at a noticeable level under what the three teams would do later at SummerSlam. Funny how that it was considered a stunning move to put E/C over here considering how "hot" the other two teams (particularly the Dudleys) were at the time, but a well executed heel turn worked for the best. The Radicalz did not exactly get the best booking here as Guerrero, Malenko and Saturn jobbed to Chyna and Too Cool. Sigh. The two-fall, two-title three-way between Angle, Jericho and Benoit is good, but was actually considered a disappointment at the time. Certainly a unique way to book two title changes. If you are wondering why Rikishi and Kane teamed up here to face X-Pac and Road Dog, I believe the original plan had Undertaker returning from injury and be in the Rikishi spot (who would then work w/ Too Cool). That return was held off for May's Judgement Day and wound up being awesome. Terri Runnels vs. the Kat is one of the worst "matches" in WM history which should not be a surprise. This show was during the "height" of the Hardcore Title and had a 15-minute "battle royal" with continuous falls. Hardcore Holly won and this started the 24/7 gimmick that would get run into the ground. T&A over Head Cheese was four career JTTS guys mixing it up. Bossman and Bull Buchanan over Godfather and D-lo is not exactly Bret-Owen when it comes to openers. Shame on Ice-T for participating in this!

14. WrestleMania 7 (1991): Probably because of the rather tasteless exploitation of the Iraq War, which Vince McMahon shamelessly then used as the reason why the company needed to move the event to the LA Sports Arena from the much larger (and outdoor) Coliseum (hint: the reason was sluggish ticket sales), this was a WrestleMania that did not get favorable reviews at the time. But I think it actually wound up being a better show than its three predecessors. Sure, anyone could guess the result of the main event of Hogan-Slaughter. They even went to so far as to push Slaughter would intentionally get DQ'd to build doubt, but the two went out and actually had a decent match. And the switch to a smaller venue actually worked out because this was as hot an early 90's WWF crowd as you'll ever find. The real 'crown jewel' of this show is the 'career-ending' match between Ultimate Warrior & Randy Savage, which if you're keeping score at home is the first time they've reneged on that stipulation. How they got this performance out of Warrior is remarkable. Whoever came up with the idea of him NOT running to the ring (and thus ensuring he'd be blown up five minutes into the match) deserves kudos. It also gave the match a 'special' feeling. Again, Savage has to be considered the original Mr. WrestleMania. I give the match ****1/2 and when you add in the hokey, yet great post-match angle involving Elizabeth that turned Savage face again, that rating actually feels a bit low. This had incredible heat and it goes to show that wrestling crowds actually used to buy the retirement stip. There are two good tag matches on this show with Rockers over Haku/Barbarian and Nasties over Hart Foundation for the titles. The whole tag division was pretty interesting at this point. The Harts had won the titles at SummerSlam the year prior from Demolition and I don't think it was planned for them to do a long title reign. In fact, we had the "phantom" switch involving them and the Rockers (who were the best team in the company at the time). I believe the Rockers were going to then lose to Power & Glory, who were then going to do a job to the LOD (maybe here?), who had just come over from WCW. Well, the "phantom" title switch was negated and in the interim, Vince also stole the Nasties from WCW (after they had a great match with the Steiners at Halloween Havoc). I guess because he had to justify getting the Nasties, Vince put the titles on them here and had them job to the LOD at SummerSlam. LOD had to settle for squashing P&G in under a minute here as Roma was injured. There is plenty of other filler on this show: Texas Tornado vs. Dino Bravo in a match between two guys that would be dead within two years. Bulldog vs. Warlord was actually an okay power vs. power match. The blindfold match between Roberts and Martel is obviously silly and is probably one of the worst WM matches ever, but is somewhat saved by some INCREDIBLE commentary from Bobby Heenan ("I think Martel should be able to take the hood off, close his eyes and work on the honor system!"). I love the Undertaker squashing an over-the-hill Jimmy Snuka. Maybe he can remember someday what its like for a veteran to put over a hot new act. If you're wondering what the point of Demolition vs. Tenryu and Kitao was, the WWF was partnering with Tenryu's new SWS promotion in Japan, so this is one of those political deals. A lot of people expected Bossman to go over Mr Perfect here for the IC Title, but it’s better that he won by DQ and Bret Hart got to become the next champ instead. I'm not sure who decided Greg Valentine as a babyface was a good idea. He gets squashed by Earthquake. Virgil-Dibiase was a memorable feud, but this match is nowhere near as good as the SummerSlam one. Tito Santana's WM losing streak hits six with a loss to the Mountie.

13. WrestleMania 12 (1996): The very definition of a one-match show. And while the booking of Hart-Michaels was probably not as good as it could have been due to the ill feelings between the two, it is still the two best workers of the decade wrestling for over an hour in a ****1/2 affair. I think it has gone from overrated to underrated in the world of the IWC. Still, not having a single fall in the hour was pretty dumb. I mean what's the point of having an Iron Man match then? What they should have done (in retrospect) is not do an Iron Man Match, but just have a "regular" match go 60 minutes, then they could have done the same finish and the match probably would have had more heat. Funny that the WWE thinks they have to announce a match will be 60 minutes ahead of time, so that the audience won't get "bored." Instead, what happens is the crowd gets bored for the first 40 minutes, then wakes up at the end. Nothing was terrible on this show. They brought back the Ultimate Warrior, who absolutely squashed Triple H in under two minutes, but that run didn't last long. Some will insist that Warrior, not the Iron Man Match, actually drew the house as people were seen leaving their seats at the start of Hart-Michaels. Undertaker-Diesel was thought to be the end of Nash as it was known by many he was bolting for WCW soon after, but surprisingly Vince put Nash in a world title program with HBK right after this. It led to the best match of Nash's career at "Good Friends, Better Enemies," and they actually were doing better ratings than WCW for that month. Roddy Piper vs. Goldust is not for everyone. The OJ material was really bad. Of course, it has long been rumored that Vince wanted OJ to wrestle (!) here against Goldust. Now that would have been awesome. They also asked future WCW main-eventer Dennis Rodman to do the spot, but I think Bischoff threw a ton of money at him to come to Turner. I could be wrong with my timeline there. Steve Austin makes his WM debut with a win over Savio Vega. Yes, because Steve Austin needs a mouthpiece. He took off soon after. The opener was a six-man between Ahmed/Jake Roberts/Yokozuna vs. Camp Cornette (Vader/Owen/Bulldog). Not terrible.

12. Wrestlemania 22 (2006): If I recall, we didn't give this show a favorable review on SNS at the time. Also if I recall, I was hammered by the post-show. The show really still doesn't stand out as a great WrestleMania though and overall 2006 was a terrible year for WWE. Triple H vs. Cena is funny if you read the Internet, but your supposed #1 babyface getting booed out of the building in the main event of the biggest show of the year against a career heel is not good. That said, the (ahem) "traditional" wrestling crowd in Chicago made this entertaining. Of course, most people remember this show for Rey Misterio winning his only World Title in the wake of Eddie Guerrero's death. At the time, the company was ripped for doing this. Some time has passed and I'm actually going to defend the company here. This is a rant I went on to FDH’s Rick Morris recently. Remember that Monday Night Football game where Brett Favre played right after his father died? And how John Madden spent the WHOLE time reminding us Favre's dad had just died and how the subsequent performance was so awesome? No one got on the NFL for this. These kind of similar stories are always played up in sports. Was some of the stuff after Guerrero's death in poor taste, particularly some scripted comments for Orton? Yes. But Rey Misterio winning the World Title in the wake of his friends death as a dedication is absolutely fine. Would Rey have ever won a World Title had Eddie not died? Probably not, but I thought that some of the "elite Wrestling media" took themselves way too seriously during this period in an effort to get on a convenient "soapbox." Now the booking of Rey as champ was a different issue. As for the rest of this show....Edge/Foley and Vince/Shawn were two great brawls (the former being a **** affair) and its overall highlights. The Money In The Bank match, won by RVD, was not as good as the previous year's, but was still celebrated b/c everyone knew RVD would be getting the title down the road at the 2nd One Night Stand PPV. Didn't turn out so well though after all that waiting. There are two terrible matches on this show w/ Boogeyman vs. Booker/Sharmell and Undertaker/Henry. There are two women's matches, one watchable and one bad. Mickie James really had those "traditional" fans on her side, didn't she? Remember when title matches used to be a big deal? Masters/Carlito vs. Show/Kane and Benoit/JBL were not examples of those.

11. WrestleMania 24 (2008): An outdoor show headlined by Ric Flair and Floyd Mayweather at the Citrus Bowl. They had been doing the angle with Flair leading up to this where if he lost any match, he had to retire. So for the biggest show of the year, he hand-picked the man who idolized him growing up, Shawn Michaels, to be the opponent. Shawn of course goes over in dramatic fashion (I'm sorry, I love you), but overall the match was only good, not great. Wade Keller giving it five stars was just dumb. The true highlight came the following night on RAW when the locker room said goodbye to Flair. And it’s not the WWE's fault that Flair somewhat tainted this by going to work for TNA. The other draw was a 'match' between boxer Floyd Mayweather and the returning Big Show. Of course, when they feature a big celebrity angle on a WrestleMania, as we've learned through these rankings, it typically means the overall storylines of the company are rather weak. With Mayweather, they did an angle at No Way Out where he punched a returning Show, who was attacking Rey Jr and made legit contact with said punch. At the time, Mayweather was supposed to be the face and Show the heel. From there, the dynamic would get all screwed up as Mayweather is a natural heel who the wrestling fans didn't like anyways. So they switched roles leading up to the event, but the problem there is that Mayweather was obviously gonna go over and that makes Show look bad, but really by that point Big Show had been poorly booked for years anyways. In retrospect, I'm not sure if Mayweather was worth what they were paying him. Incredibly, the World Title Matches were probably the third and fourth most-anticipated from the top. Edge-Undertaker does go on last and is very good (****1/4). It was Edge's first pinfall loss at a WrestleMania and was a match between the two guys who were unbeaten at WM, which was something fans had wanted for two years. Meanwhile, Orton-Cena-Triple H was underwhelming and treated as an afterthought. CM Punk wins the first of two Money In The Banks, leading to his first World Title win later than year. JBL-Finlay was the blowoff of a terrible feud, suprisingly won by the heel. Finlay as a face just doesn't really work. I can't remember the storyline surrouding Batista vs. Umaga, which speaks volumes. Kane squashes Chavo Guerrero for the ECW Title, which is cruel.

10. WrestleMania 8 (1992): This show is of course famous for the match that didn't happen (Hogan vs. Flair) despite the fact that it seemed like a formality to headline as soon as Flair came to Titan in September and then won the Rumble (and the title) in an incredible performance in January. But it really never clicked at the house shows and probably peaked too far in advance to be pulled off properly here. Plus, Hogan decided to "take some time off" after this show, so it’s not like they could put the World Title on him. And by 'take some time off' I mean "run for his life from steroid accusations." So, the end result was a double main event featuring a Flair vs. Savage title match and Hogan vs. Sid in a farewell match. This show was viewed quite favorably at the time and starts hot. The newly turned heel Shawn Michaels gets his first big singles win over El Matador, whose WM losing streak hits seven. By the way, Monsoon and Heenan were incredible on the mic all night. LOD does an interview reintroducing Paul Ellering, but that goes nowhere, unless you count a ventriloquist act (Rocco) as 'somewhere.' Undertaker buries Jake Roberts on the way out the door, no selling three DDT's. Again, please remember this on your way out, Mr Calloway. Then comes an outstanding face vs. face IC Title match between champ Piper and challenger and former champ Bret Hart (****). Hart goes over in a very rare clean pinfall loss for Piper that featured some rare blood. This was a cool setup. Hart was a solid IC Champ when some contract negotiations went bad and they took the belt off him on a house show, having him lose to the Mountie of all people (it was played up that Hart had the flu). Obviously, having the Mountie as a major singles champ isn't a good idea, so Piper, who had never held a singles title, beats him at the Rumble. The Hart contract situation works its way out, so they did the obvious champ vs. former champ thing. As for the blood, Hart lied to Vince afterwards saying it was hardway so to avoid problems with the office. Ric Flair should have done the same thing, but he was under the impression that blading was cool and got chewed out after his match with Savage. He references this in a tremendous interview in early 2002 after his return. After a meaningless eight-man between Slaughter/Duggan/Virgil/Bossman vs Mountie/Repo/Nasty Boys that featured some alleged "comedy" from the late Ray Combs, we get that Flair-Savage match, which is the forgotten classic from the era. This was just excellent and I give it ****3/4 as Savage's string of incredible WM performances continued. This had a ton of heat due to an angle they did after they booked the match as Flair started claiming he used to bang Elizabeth. Mr Perfect, in Flair's corner, gave a tremendous performance by just cheating at will and I like the finish with Savage cheating to win the title after fending off all the interference. Good postmatch brawl as well followed up by some great promos from each. Must be watched again to be enjoyed. From there, the show goes downhill with Martel-Tatanka, Money Inc-Natural Disasters and Owen-Skinner. Then comes Hogan vs. Sid, which was set up by a Sid heel turn on a Saturday Night's Main Event, which led to Hogan "asking" out of the title match to face Sid and setting up the double main event scenario. The match is absolutely terrible, easily one of the worst WM closers ever, and makes you wonder why this show is so fondly remembered until the Ultimate Warrior makes a shocking return to save Hogan from Sid and Papa Shango. The ending is botched, in case you care, with Shango missing his cue and not running in time to break up a Hogan pinfall, so Sid has to kick out of the leg drop. Considering both Hogan and Sid leave after the show, this led nowhere good, but Warrior's return was a huge surprise at the time and was thought to be a highlight of the show. I can hear Dave Meltzer now counting off the buys the company "cost" itself by not announcing Warrior beforehand!

Ranking the WrestleManias: 26 to 20

By Kyle Ross (posted by Rick Morris)

26. WrestleMania 9 (1993): Not only was this show the unofficial kickoff to the company's "bad period" (1993-96) and features one of its more boneheaded booking decisions in history (putting title back on Hogan), but it also had no good matches. The big angle, which was the return of Hulk Hogan, would have really fallen flat without the impromptu title change as he was placed in a mid-card Tag Title match w/ Brutus Beefcake against Money Inc. The only criticism of this show that I really don't agree with is the venue as I didn't mind Caesar's Palace, as it was definitely different. Obviously, "the Worlds Largest Toga Party" theme was dumb. The HBK-Tatanka IC Title opener was probably the best match on the card, but had a horrible (and predictable) finish w/the unbeaten Tatanka winning via countout so to protect the streak -- but they couldn't justify putting the title on him. Steiners-Headshrinkers was fine, but underwhelming like the Steiners’ whole WWF run. I actually enjoyed the finish of Doink-Crush, but some would argue that it completely sunk the career of a potential top babyface. I really didn't see Crush succeeding though in that role. From there, the show goes totally downhill. Who the fu%& booked Bob Backlund vs. Razor Ramon? Crowd was cheering supposed heel Razor, who thankfully went over clean as he was turning face soon anyways. As mentioned earlier, Money Inc-Mega Maniacs was terrible and made worse by a non-finish. In retrospect, it's kind of obvious something bigger had to be planned for Hogan as that kind of return would have been pointless. Perfect-Luger was another disappointment with another bad finish. It seemed as if the announcers were teasing a Bret-Narcissist post-WM program, but that never happened. Undertaker-Giant Gonzales was obviously terrible, a negative star affair with ANOTHER non-finish (fu%&ing ether?)! Then, we got to Bret-Yoko. Funny how in other eras, they had the babyface go over the supposed monster heel. Not here. The original plan was for Hogan to put over Bret Hart clean at Summer Slam (w/Bret still going over at KOTR to re-establish him as #1 contender), but Hogan vetoed that, so Vince buried him at KOTR. Unfortunately, this all really set back Bret Hart, who thankfully by the following year would become champion. If not for some funny interplay between the debuting JR and Bobby Heenan, this would have been one of the worst shows in wrestling history.

25. WrestleMania 15 (1999): Because this show falls into the Vince Russo booking period, it is a convenient WM to bury. But the reality of the show is that it doesn't hold up well at all, despite the fact that it did a big number on PPV at the time. It features the first ever Austin-Rock PPV main event, but other than that **** match, this show blows. For whatever reason, people always focus on what was considered a terrible booking decision at the time to swap the Road Dog and Billy Gunn in multi-person matches. Gunn was involved at the time in a decent IC Title program w/ Ken Shamrock and Val Venis. But for some reason, he won the Hardcore Title six days before the show and thus defended that title against Al Snow and Hardcore Holly, who were feuding with Road Dog at the time – but James then inexplicably won the IC Title right before this show too! Vintage Russo, as was a Tag Title match featuring the challengers of D-lo Brown and Test, the former a face & the latter a heel, b/c Mark Henry was hurt and Test won a battle royal on the pre-show. More Russo goodness saw Chyna (a heel) turn on Kane (a heel) to reunite with Triple H (a face) only for the reunited Triple H and Chyna (faces) then to turn back heel in the next match on X-Pac against Shane McMahon. Sadly, Shane/X-Pac was the second best match on the card. Triple H/Kane is a dog just like all their matches were. Then, you have the confusing saga of Mick Foley, who goes over the recently debuting Big Show by DQ so that he can be the special ref in the main event. That booking did NO ONE any favors. Then, you have one of the worst WM matches ever w/ Undertaker-Bossman, a heel vs. heel match that is easily the worst Hell in a Cell match ever. My god, just typing all this makes me realize this show deserves all the sh%& it gets. Austin-Rock easily makes it better than WM9 though.

24. WrestleMania 2 (1986): 1986 was an awesome year for WWF. You just wouldn't have known it by watching this show, which is famous for emanating from three different cities as a reaction to NWA Starrcade 85, which was presented from both Atlanta and Greensboro. It is universally understood that the idea didn't work and there was definitely no Magnum-Tully here. However, it really isn't the three-city gimmick that ruins this show, it's the rushed and bad wrestling. None of the first six matches break one star. Starting in NY, there is a phoned-in opener of Orndorff-Muraco. Only good part there is Orndorff making the "oriental eyes" pose at Fuji. Then you have Part 2 of the never-ending Savage-Animal Steele saga and Savage doesn't go over clean and Steele kicks out of the elbow drop. Jake Roberts then wins a squash over George Wells in the kind of match that would never make a major show today. The NY main event was a worked boxing match between Piper and Mr T where the Nassau crowd turns on supposed babyface T. Chicago starts out with two real "blink and you'll miss it" affairs of Moolah-McInytre (why?) and Kirschner-Volkoff. Then comes the battle royal with NFL players, which is the kind of mainstream attention the company would die for today. It's pretty bad though, save for Bill Fralic and Refrigerator Perry getting into it with John Studd. The fact that the Bears were coming off a Super Bowl win helped. Then, you have the first great Wrestlemania match with a Tag Title switch of Bulldogs over Dream Team (****). No way that today they could have held off Bulldogs winning the belts for so long. If there was an Internet in 1985, the IWC would have demanded the Bulldogs get the belts six months earlier and that's not a good thing. Los Angeles might be the best of the three host cities with Steamboat going over Hercules (could have been Bret Hart, but they did the match in Boston the month earlier!) and Adonis bumping like a mother fu%&er for Uncle Elmer before thankfully going over. Then there is a really underrated brawl between Santana/JYD and the Funks, which is almost as good as the Tag Title match. The Hogan-Bundy angle pretty much set the template for every Hogan feud vs. a monster heel that would follow. Unfortunately, no one really bought the idea of Bundy winning, so doing a Steel Cage match was probably a good idea.

23. WrestleMania 11 (1995): This occurred right in the middle of the dead period for the company. It also took place in Hartford, of all places. Anytime you have a show so celebrity heavy and main evented by Lawrence Taylor, a man who followed his recent conviction of soliciting a 16 year-old prostitute by saying "I don't ask for no birth certificate," you know it’s a rough time. The angle with Bigelow at the Rumble was actually pretty good; it just shouldn't have been a main event match as Bigelow's loss pretty much cemented the fact it would be his last ever main event – as who could take him seriously again? Then you had a really messed-up dynamic in the World Title match of Diesel vs. HBK. For the first time since WM 3, you had a babyface go into WM as champ and retain. Needless to say, this didn't draw the money of Hogan-Andre. Also, the crowd pretty clearly wanted HBK to win as they were booing Diesel towards the finish. That's probably why they had HBK turn face the following night on RAW after being turned on by bodyguard Sid. Funny, I promised myself I was gonna give up watching wrestling after this show and skipped that RAW. When I found out HBK turned face, I immediately got sucked back in. It's sad when Pam Anderson overshadows your World Title Match. Too much J.T.T. as well. The rest of this show is just plain uneventful. Luger/Bulldog vs. the Blu Brothers as an opener? Geez, I know Lex didn't work out as a main event babyface, but no wonder he left! Razor-Jarrett was a fine IC-level title program, but wouldn't you have guessed that no one gave a sh%& about champ JJ at this point? Bret Hart vs. Backlund, which was a good match and a World Title change just five months earlier, was way disappointing and a formality that Bret was getting his win back. Roddy Piper was also a very annoying referee. One thing I did like was Owen Hart bringing out the returning Yokozuna as a mystery partner and the two squashing the not-over Smoking Gunns for the Tag Titles. Still, wrestling in general was just so bad and unpopular at this time.

22. WrestleMania (1985): The best thing I can say about the original WrestleMania is "well, it was the first one." Like WM11, this was a celebrity-heavy show featuring the wrestling debut of Mr T alongside Hogan – who was just immensely over by this point and had an excellent foil in Roddy Piper (who just awesome during this period) to play off of. Paul Orndorff was just kind of "there," as his apex would come in 1986 after turning face, then turning heel on Hogan. I do admit that, historically speaking, this is a very important show and most would probably rank it a few spots higher. My bone of contention, however, is that this is a glorified MSG house show with a celebrity main event (which was the key). And I know it was only 1985, but the production value here was very low for a WWF show. The first three matches are all throwaways to put over guys they wanted to push later in the year. That's not a criticism per se (I wish we'd see more of it today actually), but, again, it was very house show-esque. Tito returns from injury (Valentine) to defeat the Masked Executioner (Buddy Rose). King Kong Bundy sets a fake record by squashing SD Jones as he was getting programmed for Andre, then Hogan. Ricky Steamboat wins an overrated squash against Matt Borne, which is only interesting b/c Borne was Doink I. David Sammartino-Brutus Beefcake looked dreadful on paper, but is actually not bad -- despite the fact it was just there to set up a tag match the following month at MSG with Bruno/David vs. Beefcake/Johnny V. Funny how the crowd totally woke up when Bruno got involved. The IC Title match of Valentine-JYD is total RAW material these days as the Hammer was actually feuding with Santana at the time. And of course it's a schmozz finish with Tito figuring in. JYD was really over here and was not yet Junkfood Dog. The tag title switch of Shiek/Volkoff over Windham/Rotundo was considered shocking at the time, but would be predictable today. The Andre/Studd bodyslam challenge is pretty bad. A women's title change featured this high on the card will never happen again (Richter over Kai). Funny that women's matches always get this spot on the WM card these days, but just as a buffer between a hot match and the main event. The Main Event here is definitely the best match on the card, but when Hogan and Mr T earn workers of the night honors, that's not a good thing.

21. WrestleMania 6 (1990): At the time, this show drew some favorable reviews, particularly compared to its two predecessors, WM 4 and 5. I don't know why. Other than what I must admit is an excellent face vs face World Title Match of Hogan vs. Warrior, this show pretty much blows. Some of the major feuds coming in (Jake-Dibiase, Piper-Brown) resulted in really disappointing matches with horrid countout finishes. As to who was doing more coke before the show between Jake/Dibiase (two notorious users) and Piper (came out painted half black), that is a question I would like answered. Also, I could argue that Randy Savage was Mr Wrestlemania before Shawn Michaels took that moniker and Macho Man was totally miscast here, bumping around for Dusty Rhodes and Sapphire in a mixed tag match. As for the rest of the show, it is a bunch of matches where the results were often obvious and there was no build up beforehand. Martel-Koko, Earthquake-Hercules, Barbarian-Tito and Rude-Snuka were all throwaways to put over the heels, none of whom would be in a prominent position within the company by 1991. I do have to admit I marked out big at the time for Demolition's 3rd Tag Title win, which was super over with the live crowd at Skydome. The Colossal Connection were not exactly the finest Tag Champs of a generation though, but it was nice to see Andre getting a face turn following the loss considering Vince kept using him so shamelessly for years. I'd be angrier about Beefcake getting the first pinfall win over Perfect on TV, if not for the fact that Henning got the IC Title shortly thereafter. Harts-Bolsheviks was kind of an amusing way to put over your next champs strong as opposed to today when they'd job for weeks, then get the straps. It's been oft-rumored that the Rockers were not sober for a head scratching countout loss to the Orient Express. Speaking of things that would never happen today, how about Jim Duggan waving an American flag, chanting "USA, USA" in Canada, and getting over as a babyface vs. canuck Dino Bravo? The match is just a backdrop for the push of Earthquake, who squashes Hacksaw after. They really put Bossman over strong against Akeem, even having him jumped by the Million Dollar Man beforehand, and that's fine as I had no issue whatsoever with Ray Traylor during this time period. As for the main event, no matter what revisionist history may say, putting Warrior over Hogan was absolutely the right move at the time as the latter's act was getting stale (see the next two years!) and they needed to try something new. The match was well laid out (thank you Pat Patterson!) and drew a ton of heat. Hogan does deserve credit for carrying it. It's not the promotion's fault that Warrior turned out to be a headcase, but it is their fault for booking him so poorly after the title win. A rehashed Rick Rude feud was not the answer, particularly considering Hogan continued to be the focus with the Earthquake angle.

20. WrestleMania 18 (2002): The "other" SkyDome WrestleMania. Again, other than a Hogan match, this show is not good. And in this case, the Hogan match with Rock actually isn't as good as the one with Warrior, but the rest of the show is slightly better than the undercard of the 1990 show. Funny how there have been two instances of Triple H going into a Wrestlemania as a babyface chasing the World Title and both times the match came up underwhelming. In this case, it was considered a formality that he would go over Chris Jericho and there have been enough jokes made about Lucy the dog, so let's move on. As for Hogan-Rock, I probably like this match less than "you" the reader. To this day, I just don't "get it" as to why this Toronto crowd was so smitten with Hogan. I thought the whole point of the Attitude Era was a reaction to the dead 1980's and what was going on during the Monday Night Wars in WCW. Oh well. The match does have ungodly heat and would rank higher than say Hogan-Andre on the sliding scale of "important wrestling matches with subpar wrestling." It did put over Rock (in spite of the Toronto crowd), who had to tone down his act in near-embarrassing fashion so that Hogan could keep up. The rest of this show almost doesn't matter save for a decent Undertaker-Ric Flair match. This was during the period when the ‘Net was pulling its collective hair out over the booking of Taker, who was squashing almost everyone and never should have been turned heel in the first place. Loved that Arn Anderson spinebuster though! Both Steve Austin and Kurt Angle are wasted on this show and not in the sense Austin's opponent Scott Hall probably was. Austin being the "odd man out" on this card in part began the ill-will that would cause him to temporarily leave the company in the summer. Angle had a better match with Kane on a prior Smackdown than what they did here. Given how over he was at the time, it is criminal that RVD curtain-jerked here, but at least he wins the IC Title. Dallas Page and Christian deserved better as did Edge-Booker, who were feuding over a shampoo commercial. It was all downhill for Maven after that dropkick in the Royal Rumble as he wasn't ready despite the crowd wanting him to be. I have no idea why he was wrestling Goldust here. The tag title situation with Billy and Chuck as champs was really lame. Trish not going over in her hometown vs. Jazz would be sad if it wasn't so predictable.