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OO SPECIAL FEATURE  
Road to WrestleMania XXI: A Compulsive
Fan's Guide to the Granddaddy of 'em All 
Eighth Edition / March 2005 / Introduction and Overview

Compiled by Rick Scaia 
Exclusive to OnlineOnslaught.com

 

An Introduction to The Guide

Last year, WWE promised that WrestleMania XX is where it would "all begin again." Looking at the Year That Was, and where we're at now, it almost seems as though WrestleMania XXI could be accurately said to be where it will "all begin again, again." 
 

The promise of WMXX, with champions Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero celebrating together in the ring, quickly gave way to a confounding year of undoing the goodwill that had been built up with fans on the Road to WMXX and replacing it with confusion and frustration. The past year has been characterized by a non-stop series of

easily missable SD! PPVs (due to a champion who, even if he matured into a compelling talker and on-screen persona, simply doesn't have the tools to be front and center in monthly 25-minute PPV contests) and the confounding face-turn and massive push for Randy Orton on WWE's superior brand, RAW.

SD!'s alleged main event at WM21 will be lucky to be the fifth or sixth most intriguing match on the card, due to their continuing issues; but RAW was lucky enough to get blindsided by the unexpected and unplanned ascension of Dave Batista into the role WWE had desperately WANTED Randy Orton to play. In fact, it is widely known that WWE's intended WM21 line-up from as recently as November 2004 has been altered drastically as they've attempted to craft a new slate of matches that would more-effectively appeal to fans than what they'd envisioned. Plus 10 points for realizing a mistake and wanting to fix it; minus several million, though, for not realizing it until months after many fans had started pointing out the problems and until it was nearly too late to get things re-aligned in time for WM21.

Left with some of the most flaccid WM storytelling in years -- this harkens back to years such as WM13 and WM18, where shows were primarily built around one genuinely appealing contest, and then a bunch of other stuff filled in the blanks -- WWE has turned to legends and some gimmickry to help build anticipation for the show. And while it's nice to look ahead to Sunday and know that Steve Austin, Roddy Piper, and Hulk Hogan will be making appearances in some capacity, there's a very big part of me that thinks it's nearly criminal that -- a year from now -- we'll look back on the Road to WM21, and more people will remember Christy Hemme tapping out orgasmically in a movie spoof commercial than will remember a single promo from the Tale of Triple H vs. Batista.

But the magic of WrestleMania? It might not matter.

Come Sunday night, the *road* will cease to matter, and WrestleMania XXI will be upon us. Because for as painful as the Road to WM13 might have been during the WWF's darkest hour, all anybody remembers is that on that show, Steve Austin and Bret Hart had one of the best matches in WM history. As half-assed and single-tracked as the Road to WM18 may have been, all anybody remembers is the electricity in the air when Hulk Hogan and the Rock faced off in a match that might only score *1/2 for the Workrate, but which was off-the-charts for Entertainment.

WrestleMania is a unique stage where things like that can happen: where what would only be a Good Match somewhere else is somehow magnified into something grander. So yeah, the last year saw Benoit and Eddie shoved in front of a train less than four months after they teamed up to provide one of the most excited Roads to WM, the last year saw the incomprehensible mis-use of Randy Orton as a show-carrying babyface, and the last year saw SD! do everything in its power to make sure it seemed practically Minor League when compared to RAW. And maybe the lack of spark the last few months on the Road to WM21 has underscored and highlighted these problems.

But if you're like me, it won't take much more than a few drinks, a few friends, and a few spine-tingling introductory video packages before I'm just a pig in slop on Sunday night. The defenses will go down, and it's practically a free pass for SOMEbody to step up and say, "Screw the creative team for sucking, screw the critics for noticing, I'm a wrestler on a wrestling show, and it's up to ME to take the bull by the horns, and I'm making this *my* show, tonight!". It could be that Batista's been holding out on us and has a 20-minute-plus classic in him... it could be Angle and Shawn Michaels not just living up to expectations, but blowing them away... it could be a feel-good moment with some mix of our assembled legends and Hall of Famers... it could be any one of six guys in a ladder match... and if and when one or more of them steps up, the entire wrestling world will be so attenuated that we'll not forget that break-out performance for a long time.

And that probably is as good a jumping-off point as any. Because there have been plenty of those unforgettable break-out performances (such as Austin at WM13, or Edge and Christian still trading on WM17 and WM18's ladder matches) in the past. And while we can't predict Sunday's events with total accuracy, we can take a few stabs, and we can DEFINITELY speak with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight on the events of the first 20 Manias.

So choose from the items below to check out the detailed history, statistics, and trivia behind 20 past years of WrestleMania and how it all ties in to this year's big event (note: articles are being posted daily, and won't all be available until Friday, April 1):

HIGHLIGHTS: YEAR BY YEAR
There is no better way to gain an appreciation for the spectacle that is WrestleMania than to look back at the highlights, main events, and celebrity sightings at each of the first 20 WMs to date. Take yourself on a roller coaster ride where the attractions include Hulk Hogan, Randy Savage, Bret Hart, Steve Austin, The Rock, Ozzy Osbourne, and many, many others both expected and surprising. Strap in for a two-decades-in-the-making retrospective! (more...

NUMBERS: WINNERS, LOSERS, AND IRONMEN
This is it... the document that could win you a bar bet with a drunken pal this Sunday during the PPV. Who's won the most WrestleMania matches? Who's been in the most consecutive WM of the WWF's current roster? Who are the clutch main event performers and who has choked in title matches on the year's biggest show? I've got all that info and then some for you. (more...

OBSERVATIONS: THE ODD BUT THE TRUE
Sometimes it's not the obvious, factual history that gives the best indicator of the true legacy and depth of the WrestleMania tradition. So you've gotta dig into the barrel and find the real connections that make this event the biggest and best of 'em all. From the best and worst 'Manias.... to the different gimmicks..... to the deceased legends.... to strange interactions, coincidences, and whatever other bizarre observations didn't really fit in elsewhere will pop up here.  (more...)

WM XXI PREVIEW:  HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOOD?
Starting the third decade of the WrestleMania tradition, WWE is "going Hollywood" and looking to the past to help bolster an event that doesn't quite have the sizzle of the most memorable Manias. Can Hulk Hogan, Roddy Piper, and Steve Austin help sell the show? Will Batista/HHH, six men and a ladder, an Angle/Michaels dream match, or a battle between SD!'s estranged tag team champions deliver the goods regardless of build-up? The entire staff of Online Onslaught dot come have congregated to share their thoughts on this issue and start THEIR second year of Team Coverage PPV Previews. Enjoy...  (more...

And then, once you're done joining me for a dip in the Obsessed Smart Fan Pool of Knowledge and Trivial Observations, it's gonna be time....  that special time of year where you just sit back, and do whatever it takes to have fun on a Sunday night.  Where you remember what it was like to buy your tickets to watch the biggest show of the year on a Closed Circuit TV screen, and mark out because it's WrestleMania, baby!

But I also hope you will put that Smart Cap back on briefly at some point leading up to or just after WMXXI...  because as always, I would love to know what you think of this feature and how I can improve it for the Ninth Edition, which should be coming your way in about 51 weeks!  Drop me a line at rick@onlineonslaught.com to let me know what you'd like to see in future editions of The Road to WrestleMania!

Road to WM Navigation
HOME  -/-  YEAR-BY-YEAR  -/-  WINNERS & LOSERS  -/-  
OBSCURE OBSERVATIONS  -/-  WMXXI PREVIEW

  

E-MAIL RICK
BROWSE THE OO FEATURES ARCHIVE


  
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