Toronto, Ontario, Canada played host to one of the best WrestleMania's of all time, and the build-up was one of the main reasons Brunner 1.0 of The Geekiverse got into wrestling.
The year is 2002. The Rock and Hulk Hogan are facing one another. Stone Cold takes on the rest of the nWo. And Triple H is back after tearing his quad muscle. What a time to be alive. After the disaster that was Wrestlemania 2000, thank goodness for this.
To be honest, this is what got young me back into wrestling full-fledged. I was fully a sheltered wrestling fan at this point, often hiding the fact that I even remotely wanted to watch. And then I remember Triple H returning at Madison Square Garden, and a kid at my daycare saying "Dude Triple H returned last night at the very end of RAW and he's IN THE ROYAL RUMBLE." Collin's excitement got me excited about the Royal Rumble, and we were back. The road to Wrestlemania began with Triple H returning from that quad injury for me, and I've been invested emotionally ever since.
Not to mention The Rock was in full swing, the nWo just came into the company, and Stone Cold was still Stone Cold even as he slowed down. Seriously, what a time to be a wrestling fan. I miss this era so much. Crying. Crying. Crying... and we're good. Okay, let's do this.
Rock vs. Hollywood Hulk Hogan
It has to be. Icon vs. Icon. Legend vs. Legend. Arguably the two biggest names in WWF going 1-on-1 in a dream matchup that so many fans never thought would happen. To be honest, I never thought we would see Hogan in WWF again at the time. The wrestling obviously wasn't the greatest, but the atmosphere mixed with the history happening before your eyes can't be understated here. And to think, this wasn't even the main-event. The ending where Hogan turned on Scott Hall and Kevin Nash was a bit too many shenanigans, but you have to give the people what they want right?
Rock promo with The Coach was solid
This is classic Rock right here. Absolutely loved the Brahma Bull going in on Coach the only way he knows how. I miss these promos. Sad emoji.
Maven starting and ending the night as Hardcore Champion
Remember when I watched this Wrestlemania and suggested on Reddit the WWE bring this back to capitalize on the social media age, only for another site to take credit for it? Brunner never forgets.
Flair vs. Undertaker with Arn Anderson coming in was amazing
Really solid match overall from both performers. Absolutely loved everything this did for the Deadman and The Nature Boy. Having Arn come in was a nice surprise that made me think Natch might pull this out. Taker holding up those 10 fingers at the end was so great.
Stone Cold taking the nWo to task got the crowd hype
Stone Cold was so freakin over. So. Freakin. Over. The match was not the greatest, but wow that crowd loved everything The Rattlesnake did. Once again, you can't underestimate the impact of a good crowd reaction.
Triple H winning the Undisputed Title after coming back from his quad injury
As stated above, this storyline got me back into wrestling. Seeing it culminate made me a very happy young Brunner 1.0.
Lita vs. Trish Stratus vs. Jazz
This is simply because I have to pick one, and they didn't give these women enough time. In 2018, these 3 would easily get 15 to 20 minutes (I would hope). They got just over 6 minutes here, and they tried to fit as much as they could in that time. However, saying that this was the worst match says something about this Wrestlemania. The match wasn't bad, it simply needed time to breathe.
Too many concerts in the gaps
I didn't want to see this PPV because of Saliva and Drowning Pool. Sure, the songs were great for background on promos but I didn't need to see concerts. I'm sure they served a purpose on timing the show, but take those two 4 minute sets out and give it to another match.
Hurricane with the Godfather's ladies backstage doesn't hold up in 2018
Godfather frankly doesn't have a place in 2018. I know, avid wrestling fans want to rip my head off for that, but a man and "his ho's" doesn't work in this day and age.
Final Thoughts: From top to bottom, this Wrestlemania was absolutely stellar. There weren't any glaring holes throughout the show, and there were stars carrying the load throughout. Stacking wise, I maybe would have put Rock vs. Hogan at the end, but I understand putting the Undisputed Title at the end. That's completely nitpicking. The entire show was historic and catapulted a teen Brunner 1.0 into another wave of wrestling fandom.
Does it Hold Up?
This was 16 years ago, but it absolutely would work in 2018. Probably even better than some of the current product because most of this felt absolutely real. Hogan going from the dark side back to his Hulkamaniacs. Stone Cold wreaking havoc on the heel stable. And the vengeful injured superstar going for his championship. Absolutely amazing Wrestlemania.
See below for a roundup of those already up:
This is the eighteenth piece in a Court of Nerds and Geekiverse collaboration that will present “34 Days of WrestleMania” as we look back on each Showcase of the Immortals as we lead you into WrestleMania 34. Keep an eye out for a couple of podcasts in the near future from Austin Brunner and Benjamin Raven as we break down each decade in podcast form.