Now In Color!
Alright I’ll admit to call it a death match is kind of a lie. This was the year that Wrestlemania went Hollywood, presenting the biggest show of the year from the Staples Center(a venue typically reserved for Raw or Summerslam). I am completely okay with it however because it resulted in some awesome vignettes of wrestlers reenacting famous movie scenes. This is a pretty good show, and should be noted as being the show where both John Cena and Dave Batista won their first world titles. Cena took down JBL and Batista beat mentor Triple H in the main event with Ric Flair in Hunter’s corner. My favorite match of the night was the Shawn Micahels Kurt Angle show stealing classic. All in all, this is a pretty good show, also featuring the first Money In The Bank ladder match, and an opening match of Eddie Guerrero taking on longtime friend and rival Rey Mysterio Jr. However, I have to say, the thing I most remember about this WWE/WWF presentation was that a big Japanese star got to get a Wrestlemania moment.
Now when I look back at Japanese pro wrestling history and realize that guys like Kenta Kobashi and Mitsuhura Misawa never got to wrestle on one of these shows, it’s really kind of sad. Could you imagine an HBK Kobashi match in the mid nineties? I can see Kenta busting out the burning hammer on Shawn when he refuses to do a job. Or maybe a Stan Hansen Undertaker brawl. To say that Akebono of all Japanese stars got to wrestle on Wrestlemania is kind of strange. Not that I have anything against Akebono, because I don’t, but really, I’m talking about Kobashi here. Also, this sumo match was nothing like the no rope matches in Dragon Gate, where they are brutal affairs set up as an ultimate grudge match. This was just a simple minute long sumo encounter. Of all the things you want to relive, the Earthquake Yokozuna feud that culminated in a sumo match on Raw probably shouldn’t be one of them.
There is something to be said about this encounter though. It is pretty unique, and as a special attraction match it piqued my interest at the time. And even though Cody Rhodes has brought this up as an embarrassment, I kind of think it was pretty cool for Big Show to do this. It was a fun little match, and he takes a pretty decent looking spill to the floor. It’s something I’ll always remember, and on a show that features so much, throwing in something a little different like this just adds to the presentation of the show. As an added note, its funny to think that Akebono was wrestling here on the biggest pro wrestling show of the year, and then came back to America to dance with the Obsidian Portal on an independent show in front of about 500 people. So in my book that makes him a pretty cool dude.