Promotional poster featuring various WWE wrestlers
|Tagline(s)||WrestleMania goes Hollywood|
|"Big Time" by The Soundtrack of Our Lives
"Behind Those Eyes" by 3 Doors Down
|Promotion||World Wrestling Entertainment|
|Date||April 3, 2005|
|City||Los Angeles, California|
WrestleMania 21 was the twenty-first annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). It was presented by Snickers and took place on April 3, 2005, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.
The event was a joint-promotion pay-per-view, featuring performers from the Raw and SmackDown brands. The main match on the Raw brand was Triple H versus Batista for the World Heavyweight Championship, which Batista won by pinfall after executing a Batista Bomb. The predominant match on the SmackDown brand was John "Bradshaw" Layfield versus John Cena for the WWE Championship, which Cena won by pinfall after performing an FU. Another primary match was an interpromotional match between The Undertaker versus Randy Orton, which Undertaker won by pinfall after performing a Tombstone Piledriver. The featured matches on the undercard were Kurt Angle versus Shawn Michaels and a Money in the Bank ladder match. The event also featured the return of Stone Cold Steve Austin who started his part-time appearances with WWE at this event.
WrestleMania 21 was the first WrestleMania held at the Staples Center, but the fifth to take place in the Southern California metropolitan area (following WrestleMania 2, WrestleMania VII, WrestleMania XII, and WrestleMania 2000). Tickets sold out in less than one minute for the event, making it the fastest ticket sell-out in the company's history as well as the fastest ticket sell-out at the Staples Center. The event drew a Staples Center record attendance of 20,193 people from 14 countries and 48 states and grossed more than $2.1 million in ticket sales, making it the highest grossing WWE event ever at the Staples Center, and the highest grossing of the five WrestleManias held in California. In addition to those in attendance, the event was seen by millions of fans in more than 90 countries.
The main rivalry heading into WrestleMania on the Raw brand was between Triple H and Batista, with the two feuding over the World Heavyweight Championship. At New Year's Revolution, on January 9, Triple H won an Elimination Chamber match to win the vacant World Heavyweight Championship. Triple H won the match by last eliminating Randy Orton following outside interference from Evolution members Batista and Ric Flair. Three weeks later at the Royal Rumble, Triple H successfully defended the World title over Randy Orton at the same event where Batista won the 2005 Royal Rumble match, by last eliminating John Cena, earning the right to participate in the main event of WrestleMania 21 against the champion of his choice. On the February 8 episode of Raw, Triple H defeated Edge to retain the World title due to Batista's interference. Afterward, as Batista raised Triple H's hand and World Championship, Batista got a close look at the World Championship, then stared Triple H down, looking as if he was thinking about challenging Triple H for the World Championship. In an attempt to persuade Batista to challenge WWE Champion John "Bradshaw" Layfield rather than Triple H at WrestleMania, Triple H concocted a scheme to have Batista run over by a limousine resembling the one used by Layfield. Initially, Batista did not want help from Evolution and wanted to confront JBL by himself. Triple H insisted that Evolution accompany Batista anyway, saving him from the oncoming limousine. Batista became aware of the plot while eavesdropping on fellow Evolution members and signed a contract guaranteeing him a match with World Champion Triple H at WrestleMania, thus leaving Evolution and officially turning into a fan favorite. Batista pretended to sign with the SmackDown brand, giving Triple H and Flair the "thumbs up", but turned it into a "thumbs down" (alluding to the way Randy Orton was kicked out of Evolution after winning the world title at SummerSlam 2004) before attacking the pair. This led to Batista's departure from the stable.
The main feud heading into WrestleMania on the SmackDown brand was between John "Bradshaw" Layfield and John Cena, with the two battling over the WWE Championship. At No Way Out, Cena defeated Kurt Angle to earn a spot in the SmackDown main event at WrestleMania. During the latter event, JBL successfully defended the WWE title against The Big Show in a Barbed Wire Steel Cage Match. As a result of Cena's win, he began a feud with John "Bradshaw" Layfield and his Cabinet. On the February 25 edition of SmackDown, Cena and The Big Show defeated JBL and Orlando Jordan. The following week, JBL cut a promo on Cena, and insulted him, while Cena defended his United States title against Jordan. Jordan won the match after the Basham Brothers distracted the referee, and JBL hit Cena with the WWE Championship belt. They then blew up Cena's customized design of the United States Championship, and replaced it with the original one. Later that night, Cena brought a steel lead pipe to the ring with him and ordered JBL to come out to the ring and fight him, only to have the SmackDown General Manager, Theodore Long make his way to the ring and inform Cena that he had to wait until WrestleMania to get his hands on JBL. Cena then gave the ultimatum for Long to be part of a solution or part of the problem. Cena then stated "Since you're not going to bring JBL out here, then you're part of then problem." Cena then nailed Teddy Long with an FU and was thrown out of the arena. During JBL's match that night, Cena returned and attacked The Cabinet. The next week, Long announced that if Cena laid a hand on JBL, apart from in matches, he would lose his WrestleMania match. In a Six-Man Tag Team match that night, John Cena and the WWE Tag Team Champions, Eddie Guerrero and Rey Mysterio defeated JBL and the Basham Brothers, but Cena had to stop himself from attacking JBL after the bell had rung. On a later edition of SmackDown!, Long clarified that if JBL physically provoked Cena, then Cena could retaliate. Cena then attempted to provoke JBL, by vandalising his limousine, and spray painting "FU" on JBL's shirt. On the last SmackDown! before WrestleMania, however, JBL interrupted Cena's match against Carlito and had Cena arrested for vandalism and, once Cena was handcuffed, JBL nailed him with a low blow and ended the show by leaving Cena laying defenseless.
A heavily promoted match for the event was an interpromotional match between SmackDown superstar Kurt Angle and Raw superstar Shawn Michaels. Their match stemmed from the Royal Rumble, the pay-per-view event two months prior to WrestleMania. At the Royal Rumble, Angle relentlessly attacked Shawn Michaels after Michaels had eliminated him from the Royal Rumble match. The next month at No Way Out, Angle lost a number one contenders match to John Cena, losing a spot in the SmackDown main event at WrestleMania. The next night on Raw, Michaels told SmackDown General Manager Theodore Long to inform Angle that he had challenged him to a match at WrestleMania. On the February 28 edition of Raw, after Michaels defeated Edge in a Street Fight, Angle attacked Michaels and accepted his challenge. On the next edition of SmackDown!, Michaels ambushed Angle in the ring, and the two of them brawled, until security broke it up. Angle claimed that he was better than Michaels, and said he would prove it by achieving everything that Michaels had, but doing it faster. He then won a ladder match, mocking Michaels match from WrestleMania X. He then challenged Marty Jannetty, Michaels former tag team partner to a match. He won after Jannetty tapped out. Angle also persuaded Michaels' former manager, Sensational Sherri to do a spoof of Michaels' theme song, "Sexy Boy", calling his version "Sexy Kurt". Michaels, however, interrupted and played a video highlighting all his accomplishments. When Sherri got emotional from watching the video, Angle put her in the Ankle Lock. Angle also interfered in Michaels' match against Muhammad Hassan on the last edition of Raw before the pay-per-view, which resulted in Michaels defeating Hassan by disqualification.
The other interpromotional match on the card was between Randy Orton and The Undertaker, with Orton representing Raw and Undertaker representing SmackDown. The feud first started on the March 7 edition of Raw when Orton challenged Undertaker to a match at WrestleMania billed as "Legend vs. Legend Killer" match. Orton had been inspired by WWE Hall of Fame member, Superstar Billy Graham, who encouraged him to "go where no wrestler has gone before". Three days later on SmackDown, Undertaker accepted Orton's challenge. On the March 14 episode of Raw, during Chris Jericho's "Highlight Reel" segment, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, attempted to give Orton advice about his match with Undertaker at WrestleMania, but received an RKO by Orton when Orton wasn't cooperating. On March 17, a contract signing for the match was scheduled to take place, and was attended by the SmackDown General Manager, Theodore Long, and Raw General Manager, Eric Bischoff. The Undertaker immediately signed the contract; however, before Orton signed the contract, he cut a promo on the Undertaker, stating that he has nothing but respect for him and then claimed that the legend of the Undertaker will become a myth when his 12–0 undefeated streak at WrestleMania, would soon be 12–1. Afterwords, he then slapped the Undertaker. Orton fled the ring after the Undertaker began to fill the arena with smoke, and didn't sign the contract. The next week on Raw, Orton claimed that his confidence was at an all-time high, despite what happened on SmackDown the week before. Shortly thereafter, Orton turned into a villain and furthered his Legend Killer gimmick by performing an RKO on Stacy Keibler, who was his girlfriend at the time. Orton taunted the Undertaker for the next couple weeks, but the Undertaker responded with taunts of his own, as he attacked other superstars. On the final SmackDown! before WrestleMania, Orton's father, "Cowboy" Bob Orton, begged the Undertaker to have mercy on Orton. It ultimately proved to be a set-up, however, as Orton attacked the Undertaker and performed an RKO on him just to show an example of what could happen at WrestleMania when he faces the Undertaker.
Another match on the card was the Money in the Bank ladder match between Chris Jericho, Christian, Chris Benoit, Edge, Kane, and Shelton Benjamin. The idea for the Money in the Bank match was introduced by Jericho who proposed a six-man ladder match, for the event in which the winner would receive a contract for a World title match at the place and time of his choosing. Raw General Manager, Eric Bischoff, booked the match at WrestleMania 21 soon after. According to Jericho, the first idea as a submission match between Edge, Jericho and Benoit and a ladder match between other wrestlers.
Before the event went live on pay-per-view, a dark match was held. A 30-man interpromotional Battle Royal, which featured: Booker T, Paul London, Heidenreich, Spike Dudley, Nunzio, Funaki, Doug Basham, Danny Basham, Orlando Jordan, Mark Jindrak, Luther Reigns, Scotty 2 Hotty, Hardcore Holly, Charlie Haas, Billy Kidman, and Akio from SmackDown and Simon Dean, William Regal, Tajiri, Rob Conway, Sylvain Grenier, Snitsky, The Hurricane, Rosey, Chris Masters, Viscera, Rhyno, Val Venis, Tyson Tomko, and Maven from Raw. Booker T eliminated Chris Masters to win the Battle Royal.
Lilian Garcia performed "America the Beautiful" at the beginning of the event. The first televised match of the night was between Rey Mysterio and Eddie Guerrero. In the beginning of the match, Mysterio jumped over the top rope, knocking Guerrero down. Mysterio also attempted another aerial attack but was countered by Guerrero into a Powerbomb. Guerrero placed Mysterio into the Three Amigos and attempted a Frog splash but was unsuccessful. Following a Hurricanrana by Mysterio on Guerrero, Mysterio pinned Guerrero to win. After the match, both men shook hands in the ring.
John "Bradshaw" Layfield and Orlando Jordan were then shown backstage discussing Layfield's match against John Cena. Triple H and Ric Flair walked by as Triple H mocked Layfield. Layfield retaliated by advising Triple H to worry about losing the World Heavyweight Championship to Batista and assured him that John Cena would be unsuccessful at defeating Layfield for the WWE Championship. Triple H responded that only the end of the night would reveal who would still be champion.
The match that followed was the first Money in the Bank ladder match which featured Chris Jericho, Chris Benoit, Shelton Benjamin, Edge, Kane, and Christian with Tyson Tomko at ringside. The match contained many notable moments, including points where Jericho, Christian, Benjamin and Kane all jumped over the top rope to the outside of the ring to knock down multiple opponents. Another moment included Benjamin executing a T-Bone Suplex on Edge off the top of a ladder and later using an inclined ladder as a ramp to run up a standing and hit Jericho with a Clothesline maneuver. Benoit also executed a Diving headbutt from the top of a ladder onto Kane. In the conclusion of the match, Benoit climbed a ladder to attempt to retrieve the Money in the Bank briefcase hanging above the ring but was stopped by Kane who had also climbed the ladder. Benoit used repeated headbutts to knock Kane to the floor and attempted to retrieve the briefcase once more but was knocked down by Edge who hit him with a steel chair. Edge then climbed the ladder and successfully obtained possession of the briefcase to win the match.
In an interlude, Eugene entered the ring and shared his excitement about being at his first WrestleMania with the crowd in attendance. While attempting to recall his favorite WrestleMania moments, Muhammad Hassan and Daivari interrupted him with Hassan expressing his outrage for not being included in a match for the event. Hassan concluded that since he wasn't scheduled to compete at the event and was therefore denied the opportunity to experience his own WrestleMania "moment", he would have to create a "moment" of his own. Following this remark, Hassan and Daivari began to assault Eugene. With Eugene placed into a Camel clutch hold while Daivari verbally attacked him, Hulk Hogan came down to the ring to save Eugene from the assault, knocking Hassan and Daivari out of the ring. Hogan celebrated posing in the ring for the crowd.
The third match featured The Undertaker and Randy Orton. Bob Orton, Randy's father, interfered and attacked Undertaker with his arm cast resulting in Orton gaining control of the match. Undertaker attempted to chokeslam Orton, but Orton countered the maneuver with an RKO that led to a two-count. Orton then attempted to use Undertaker's own finishing maneuver against him with the Tombstone piledriver, however, it was reversed by Undertaker into a Tombstone piledriver of his own which led to the definitive pin fall. The Undertaker won the match and continued his undefeated streak at WrestleMania with a 13–0 record.
The next match was for the WWE Women's Championship, an encounter between Trish Stratus and Christy Hemme with Lita at ringside. Stratus controlled most of the match though Hemme attempted many pinning maneuvers that were unsuccessful. Hemme then executed a Twist of Fate on Stratus and attempted another pin, which was also unsuccessful. After a roll-up attempt by both Stratus and Hemme, Stratus hit Hemme with a Chick kick and followed it with the decisive pin, thus winning the match and retaining the WWE Women's Championship.
The fifth match was the encounter of Shawn Michaels and Kurt Angle. It was a back and forth match between the two wrestlers in the beginning of the match. Mid-way in the match, Michaels hit Angle with a low blow, after he countered a suplex attack from Angle. Following the low blow, which was not seen by the referee, Michaels leapfrogged from the ring and laid out Angle onto the announce table. Angle would then gain control of the match, as he would apply the Ankle Lock on Michaels, forcing him to submit, thus Angle won the match.
"Rowdy" Roddy Piper confronted "Stone Cold" Steve Austin in Piper's Pit until Carlito interrupted and began to insult them. This resulted in Carlito receiving a Stone Cold Stunner from Austin and Piper throwing him out of the ring. Both ended the segment celebrating with beer until Austin gave Piper a Stone Cold Stunner as well.
The next match was John Cena versus John "Bradshaw" Layfield for the WWE Championship. JBL controlled most of the bout. In the end, Cena would win the match after ducking a Clothesline from Hell attempt from JBL, using an FU and pinning JBL to become the WWE Champion.
The eighth and final match of the night was Triple H defending his World Heavyweight Championship against Batista. Triple H entered to "The Game" performed live by Motörhead. The action was back and forth, with neither man in control for very long periods. In both the match's and the event's climax, Batista would pin Triple H after a Batista Bomb to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
Batista and Triple H's feud would continue to Backlash where Batista and Triple H had a rematch for the World Heavyweight Title. Batista won the match after a Batista Bomb. Following that, the two concluded their storyline at Vengeance where Batista scored the third and final win over his former mentor inside Hell in a Cell. Shortly thereafter, Batista was drafted to the SmackDown brand, ending their feud and taking the title with him to his new brand, while Triple H went on hiatus.
John Cena and JBL continued to feud until Judgment Day, where they faced off in an "I Quit" match for the WWE Championship, which Cena won. Shortly after, John Cena was drafted to Raw, ending their feud and taking the title with him.
WrestleMania 21 was met with generally positive critical response. However, most critics have pointed out that the main events of the show were disappointing and let down WrestleMania 21 overall. John Powell of Canadian Online Explorer's professional wrestling section noted that "The changing of the guard that many people expected came with a whimper instead of a bang. In a total reversal from last year's show – where a largely mundane card was saved by the emotional title victories of Chris Benoit and Eddie Guerrero – this year's elevation of rising stars John Cena and Dave Batista had no such drama. Unable to live up to the high standards set by the Undertaker-Randy Orton and Shawn Michaels-Kurt Angle bouts, the "main events" offered the worst kind of anticlimax and would have been right at home buried in the middle of the card." He rated the entire event 7 out of 10 stars, which has a higher rating than the previous year's event. The main event between Batista and Triple H for the World Heavyweight Championship was rated 6 out of 10 stars, the match between John "Bradshaw" Layfield and John Cena was rated 5 out of 10 stars, the match between Kurt Angle and Shawn Michaels received the highest rating of 9 out of 10 stars, the match between The Undertaker and Randy Orton and The Money in the Bank ladder match were rated 8 out of 10 stars. Robert Leighty Jr of 411mania gave the event an overall score of 7.0 out of 10.0 noted that "If the two Title matches would have delivered this would have gone down as one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever, but they didn't and that left a flat ending to the show. Everything up to Shawn/Angle is fantastic and things kind of close with a whimper. Still, this is a historic show as it cemented the rise of Batista/Cena/Orton as Main Event players. It also has to [sic] great matches with Shawn/Angle and Money in the Bank. Definitely a good WrestleMania, but it could have been much more." J.D. Dunn of 411mania response towards WrestleMania 21 was also positive. He stated that, "this was on its way to being every bit as good as last year's Mania" but like most of the other critics who thought the main events were disappointing also said that, "then it hit a wall in the last 90 minutes." He later stated that, "If this were a regular PPV with the Michaels vs. Angle match being the main event, this would be one of the greatest PPV's ever. Unfortunately, it drags on after that and limps to a finish." Although he praised the booking of the event saying that, "they made all the right moves booking-wise, so while the matches weren't great, they still have a certain historic value."
In line with the event's location and tagline, WrestleMania 21 was promoted on television with a series of parody movie trailers with WWE talent playing the starring roles from famous modern movies.
- Forrest Gump featuring Eugene playing the role of Tom Hanks, with William Regal making a cameo appearance.
- Braveheart featuring Triple H playing the role of Mel Gibson, with Ric Flair making a cameo appearance.
- Basic Instinct featuring Stacy Keibler, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, and Christian playing the roles of Sharon Stone and the interrogators, with The Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young making a cameo appearance.
- Pulp Fiction featuring Eddie Guerrero and Booker T playing the roles of John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson.
- A Few Good Men featuring John Cena and John "Bradshaw" Layfield playing the roles of Tom Cruise and Jack Nicholson, with Jonathan Coachman making a cameo appearance.
- Dirty Harry featuring The Undertaker playing the role of Clint Eastwood.
- When Harry Met Sally... featuring Kurt Angle and Christy Hemme playing the roles of Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan, with Linda McMahon making a cameo appearance.
- Taxi Driver featuring Heidenreich, Batista, Shawn Michaels, Rey Mysterio, Shelton Benjamin, Doug Basham, Danny Basham, The Big Show, Candice Michelle, Carlito Caribbean Cool, Tajiri, Orlando Jordan, Joy Giovanni, Gene Snitsky, Paul London, Tazz, Chavo Guerrero, Hardcore Holly, Molly Holly, and Michael Cole, performing their unique versions of Robert De Niro's "You talkin' to me?" line.
- Gladiator with Stone Cold Steve Austin playing the role of Russell Crowe, airing as part of the opening video for the event.
Celebrity guests in attendance for WrestleMania 21 included David Arquette, Motörhead, Adam Sandler, Rob Schneider, Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top, The Black Eyed Peas, Billy Corgan from The Smashing Pumpkins, Anthony Kiedis from Red Hot Chili Peppers, Ice Cube, Carmen Electra, Sylvester Stallone, Marg Helgenberger, Matt Groening, Rick Rubin, Will Sasso and Macaulay Culkin.
|1D||Booker T won by last eliminating Chris Masters||30-man Interpromotional battle royal||16:36|
|2||Rey Mysterio defeated Eddie Guerrero||Singles match||12:39|
|3||Edge defeated Chris Jericho, Shelton Benjamin, Chris Benoit, Christian (with Tyson Tomko), and Kane||Money in the Bank ladder match||15:17|
|4||The Undertaker defeated Randy Orton||Singles match||14:14|
|5||Trish Stratus (c) defeated Christy Hemme (with Lita)||Singles match for the WWE Women's Championship||04:11|
|6||Kurt Angle defeated Shawn Michaels by submission||Singles match||29:15|
|7||Akebono defeated Big Show||Sumo match||01:02|
|8||John Cena defeated John "Bradshaw" Layfield (c)||Singles match for the WWE Championship||11:26|
|9||Batista defeated Triple H (c) (with Ric Flair)||Singles match for the World Heavyweight Championship||21:34|
|1||The Hurricane||Raw||Luther Reigns|
|2||Luther Reigns||SD||Chris Masters, Tajiri & William Regal|
|3||Scotty 2 Hotty||SD||Chris Masters|
|5||Spike Dudley||SD||Chris Masters|
|6||Billy Kidman||SD||Chris Masters|
|7||Charlie Haas||SD||Maven & Snitsky|
|14||Rob Conway||Raw||Booker T|
|16||Danny Basham||SD||Tyson Tomko|
|17||Tyson Tomko||Raw||Orlando Jordan|
|19||Hardcore Holly||SD||Chris Masters|
|26||Mark Jindrak||SD||Chris Masters|
|29||Chris Masters||Raw||Booker T|
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