34 Days of WrestleMania: How does WrestleMania 26 with HBK's last match hold up?


How in the blue hell are we already at Wrestlemania 26?! Why am I still crying? What is with all these feels? It's just wrestling Brunner 1.0. It's. Just. Wrestling. Yet here I am crying in my coffee because damn it Shawn Michaels, you did it again.

More than 72,000 fans took in the 26th installment of Wrestlemania at the University of Phoenix Stadium, and what a roller coaster it was. Long-standing feuds were settled. Some feuds were pushed to another level. Future champions earned their meal tickets. And a Hall of Fame career ended in dramatic fashion. They really should have used the roller coaster theme for THIS Wrestlemania, because that's exactly what it was.

Favorite Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Undertaker

This was by far the easiest selection I've ever had. This match stands up now. It'll stand up in 20 years. It'll stand up when the WWE is defunct. I am not ashamed to admit when this happened I got a little teary-eyed. Let's be honest, I think we all knew Undertake was winning this one. Very rarely does a career-threatening match end with the person's career on the line actually winning (Don't tell that to Triple H when he took on Brock freakin' Lesnar). These two told the story though. HBK became infatuated with ending the streak. Taker wouldn't give him that chance again until he cost him the World Heavyweight Championship. Career vs. Streak set up for Wrestlemania. GOOSEBUMPS.

Then let's talk about the match itself. Holy ****. How many times can these two put their entire careers on the line in one match? It looks like Taker injured his knee early on. Still carried himself through the match. The Heartbreak Kid doing that moonsault off the top onto the announce table. The counters. The finishers. The chokeslams. The flying elbows. The Tombstones. I can't man. I'm worn out just thinking of all the superb wrestling. And the ending... CUT MY HEART OUT AND PUT IT ON THE TABLE. I'm. Not. Crying. Excellent match and I will love it as long as I love wrestling.

Favorite Moments:

  • Randy Orton vs. Cody Rhodes and Ted DiBiase

    • The match was overkill for The Legend Killer, but I enjoyed the spot fest. The double DDT. The RKO's. It was a lot to make Orton look insanely strong, but entertainment wise I still liked it. I honestly can't think of anything of relevance Ted DiBiase Jr. did after this in WWE. Sad.

  • Rey Mysterio vs. CM Punk

    • Too quick for my liking, but insanely fast paced and hard hitting. These two could have put on a solid match if given 15 minutes. It's also a shame these two didn't have a better storyline other than Mysterio interrupting a birthday party. However, the match itself was solid.

  • Chris Jericho vs. Edge for the World Heavyweight Championship

    • Really solid psychology. Wrestling could have been better but I loved the real disdain I felt from both wrestlers for the other. The aftermath helped continue the storyline too.

  • Money in the Bank

    • Always exciting and full of insanely painful spots. Also, who saw Swagger winning that thing?! It's really tough for me to dislike Money in the Bank. There I said it.

Least Favorite Match: Bret Hart vs. Vince McMahon 

This was absolutely painful to watch. It didn't make sense. The promo leading up to the match itself was stellar. I loved the music behind the story of Bret Hart finally getting his revenge. And then the entrances began. The Hitman did not look like the Bret Hart we all grew up loving. Vince McMahon coming out with the Hart family, only to have them all turn on him in a matter of minutes. The wrestling was subpar and didn't make much sense. The Excellence of Execution teasing the Sharpshooter too many times, only to kick McMahon in the jewels. It just didn't work for me on any level after the promo. Glad Hart got a moment, but it was subpar at best.

Least Favorite Moments:

  • ShoMiz vs. Morrison and R-Truth

    • 3 minutes for the opening match? The ending itself was stellar, but I felt sort of cheated having an opener go so quickly.

  • Triple H vs. Sheamus

    • Just lacked any sort of "moment" for me, and I truly think Sheamus should have won at this point and time to make him a true world-beater.

  • 10-Divas tag team match

    • Really forced giving Vickie Guerrero at Wrestlemania moment, and it was super painful to watch. Give the women wrestlers TIME. PLEASE (yes I know it happens eventually but damn it this is frustrating to watch).

  • John Cena vs. Batista was ruined by commentary

    • Being a veteran wrestling fan now, the commentators kept mentioning that Cena caught on to something Batista did that would expose him. What was it? Batista hit the powerbomb off Cena when he went for the leg drop, the same move that injured him. Batista goes for another Batista Bomb, only to get caught in the STF. Finish. The. Thought. Commentators. "Batista went for too much and got caught! OMG!"

Final Thoughts: Very solid Wrestlemania and a true roller coaster for the fans. For every strong match that didn't get enough time, there was a dud that got too much time. However, that ending is too much to ignore. Undertaker shaking Michaels hand after pulling him up, and then clearing the ring to give HBK his time is heart-wrenching. IT'S STILL REAL TO ME DAMN IT.

Would This Hold Up in 2018?

Absolutely. It's only 8 years old so a lot of the same themes and mantras hold up in today's day and age. There are some shock factors, there's some silly stuff going on in the middle, and there's a solid emotional moment to hang your hat on. Jump on the ride and let it go!

See below for a roundup of those already up:

This is the twenty-sixth 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.