The Show of Shows. The Grandest Stage of Them All. The night superstars are immortalized. THIS. IS. WRESTLEMANIA!!!
Welcome to the third pay-per-view edition of “RAW is WAR: 2009 vs. 2019.” This 52-week look at which Raw is better, 2009 vs. 2019, will also include the PPV’s from each year. There obviously are storylines and matches on these shows that aren’t featured on Raw, but they will be covered as well.
WrestleMania 25: April 5, 2009 in Houston, TX.
- CM Punk wins Money in the Bank — Money in the Bank is always a great way to open a pay-per-view, and this was no exception. It was a fun, fast-paced match with a lot of big spots. How Shelton Benjamin didn’t break his neck I have no idea. In the end, Punk becomes a back-to-back MITB winner. I’m fine with that. MATCH SCORE: 8/10.
- “Santina” Marella wins the Miss WrestleMania Battle Royal — This would be ripped to shreds in 2019, but it was still funny to watch Santino Marella’s “twin sister,” Santina Marella, win the Miss WrestleMania crown. The announcers obviously didn’t care too much about this match and neither did the crowd. But Santino dancing was at least funny! MATCH SCORE: 3/10.
- Chris Jericho defeats Ricky Steamboat, Jimmy Snuka and Roddy Piper in a 3–on-1 elimination handicap match — This was surprisingly fun, mostly because Steamboat can still move in the ring. He hit a crossbody from halfway across the ring at 56 YEARS OLD!!! After Piper and Snuka were eliminated rather quickly, Jericho and The Dragon had a fun five-to-seven-minute exchange before Jericho picked up the win. Y2J then beat up Ric Flair before being punched in the face by Mickie Rourke. Fun! MATCH SCORE: 6.5/10.
- Matt Hardy defeats Jeff Hardy in an Extreme Rules match — This is exactly the type of match you’d expect from these two. Lots of weapon use, lots of high spots and, most of all, lots of fun. Matt winning by hitting a Twist of Fate with Jeff’s head in between a chair was something I’d never seen before. This was a good match that lived up to the hype. MATCH SCORE: 7.5/10.
- Rey Mysterio defeats JBL (c) to become Intercontinental Champion — The match went 21 seconds, so you can’t really give it a true “match score.’ But it was a shock win and JBL then quit. So, yay! I’ll still give it a 5/10.
- Undertaker defeats Shawn Michaels — For more on this match, check my piece on the ten-year anniversary of it here. It gets an 11/10 for obvious reasons.
- John Cena defeats Big Show and Edge (c) to become the new World Heavyweight Champion — Put in a tough spot of following an all-time classic match, these three actually had a really solid showing. The crowd was into it more than I remembered, and the match was highlighted by Cena picking up both Show and Edge on his shoulders. Cena winning wasn’t a surprise, but I felt all three men worked a good match. MATCH SCORE: 7/10.
- Triple H (c) defeats Randy Orton to retain the WWE Championship — This was a … dud. The stipulation of HHH losing the title by DQ or count-out hurt the match badly. The crowd had just seen Stone Cold Steve Austin come out on a four-wheeler and chug beers as well (he went into the WWE Hall of Fame the night before), so the crowd was dead. And then they got distracted at something else going on in the crowd off-screen, totally not paying attention to the actual match. It was a slow, boring, methodical match that didn’t do anything overly spectacular to capture the audience’s attention. It ended up being a lame ending to an otherwise solid show. MATCH SCORE: 5.5/10.
OVERALL SCORE: 53.5/80, or 67% successful. The only real disappointment of the night came from the main event, which affects the overall score a little bit. The match that hurt this show’s score the most was the divas battle royal, which was expected to be bad. The Undertaker-Michaels match obviously was the best match by a mile, but the 3-on-1 handicap, Extreme Rules and World Heavyweight Championship matches were strong. A good main event would’ve made this one of the all-time great WrestleMania’s, but the lack of a strong ending ultimately hurts the overall quality of the show.
WrestleMania 35: April 7, 2019 in East Rutherford, NJ
- Seth Rollins defeats Brock Lesnar (c) to become the new Universal Champion — A surprising match to start the show to say the least, it only took Rollins 2:30 to officially beat Lesnar for the championship. This doesn’t account for the 10+ minute Paul Heyman promo, introductions and Lesnar pre-match beatdown of course, but still. It was interesting to see Lesnar not kick out, but the right guys won here. A hot start to the show as well, which is always great. Match gets a 4.5/10, the unexpectedness of this starting and the moment gets 9/10, making it overall a 7/10 open for me.
- AJ Styles defeats Randy Orton — This match was plagued by a disgruntled crowd that had lights shining in their eyes for the majority of it. It also was a slower match, with the action not really picking up until the last few minutes. A slight disappointment given this was one of the more anticipated matches on the card. MATCH SCORE: 6.5/10.
- The Usos (c) defeat Aleister Black and Ricochet, The Bar and Shinsuke Nakamura and Rusev to retain the SmackDown Tag Team Championships — This was much better than it should’ve been. Ricochet did his crazy stuff of course and every team looked strong. The Usos retaining makes the most sense out of all of this. Overall, a fun fatal four-way tag matchup. MATCH SCORE: 7/10.
- Shane McMahon defeats The Miz in a Falls Count Anywhere — This was a really fun match that had everything it needed and then some. Shane attacking Miz’s dad was well done. The Miz then murdering Shane was perfect. And it ended the only way it could, with Miz superplexing Shane 15 feet off a camera platform — but Shane’s shoulders being on top of Miz’s to allow Shane to get the pin and the win. Excellent from start to finish, this was one of the genuine highlights of the show. MATCH SCORE: 8/10.
- The IIconics (Peyton Royce and Billie Kay) defeat Sasha Banks and Bayley (c), Beth Phoenix and Natalya, and Nia Jax and Tamina to become the new Women’s Tag Team Champions — This was good for what it was worth. There were a couple of cool spots, like Natalya putting Banks and Bayley in a double sharpshooter. It was a surprising victory as well, giving us new champions pretty quickly into the belts’ history. Fine stuff from all involved. MATCH SCORE: 6/10.
- Kofi Kingston defeats Daniel Bryan (c) to become the new WWE Champion — This. All of this. How can you not be romantic about pro wrestling? A great match, a great ending, a truly incredible post-match celebration. Eleven years of hard work has finally paid off for Kofi Kingston. What a moment. MATCH SCORE: 10/10.
- Samoa Joe (c) defeats Rey Mysterio to retain the United States Championship — This match went one minute, literally. I think Mysterio was still really hurt from injuring his ankle a week prior, handcuffing what they could do here. Oh well. MATCH SCORE: 5/10.
- Roman Reigns defeats Drew McIntyre — Another match that kind of served its purpose on this card. Wasn’t overly flashy, was done in 10 minutes and the right guy won. Happy to see Reigns back full-time in a WWE ring. MATCH SCORE: 6.5/10.
- THE DOCTOR OF THUGANOMICS IS BACK!! — This wasn’t a match, but I’m putting it in the show results anyway. John Cena, reprising his role as the Doctor of Thuganomics, interrupted Elias’ concert and eviscerated him. This was some legit old school Cena and it was absolutely hilarious. It’s probably only a one-night thing, but that was still incredible to see. MOMENT SCORE: 9/10.
- Triple H defeats Batista in a No Holds Barred match — This match probably went a little too long (it’s a Triple H match after all). There was some truly cringeworthy moments — TRIPLE H PULLED HIS NOSE RING OUT — as these two legends battled it out. Ric Flair getting involved made sense, and HHH finally defeating Batista was the right move. This just dragged a little bit for my liking. The crowd was dead for most of this match as well, which didn’t help matters. MATCH SCORE: 7/10.
- Baron Corbin defeats Kurt Angle in Angle’s farewell match — The match was fine. Angle hit all of his signature moves before ultimately losing to Corbin. The post-match stuff was what was more important, though, as Angle thanked the crowd and led one more “YOU SUCK!” chant. A nice sendoff for one of the all-time great. Match is 5/10, post-match gets 10/10, making this a 7.5/10 overall.
- “The Demon” Finn Balor defeats Bobby Lashley (c) to become the new Intercontinental Champion — A quick match that served its purpose. Balor always looks badass when he’s got the paint on. Perfect match to have right before the main event. MATCH SCORE: 6.5/10.
- Becky Lynch defeats Charlotte Flair (c) and Ronda Rousey (c) in a “Winner Take All” match to become the new SmackDown and Raw Women’s Champion — It was going to be hard to live up to the hype of this match, but I thought all three did a fine job. This match didn’t start until midnight EST, so it was a very tired crowd that had been sitting there for nearly seven hours (if you include the two-hour kickoff show). The ending was bizarre and wasn’t definitive enough, but the right person won. Lynch being the dual champ is exactly what should’ve happened and it ended the show on a high note. The execution of the end, though, was disappointing. Instead of giving us a definitive moment of Lynch tapping out either Rousey or Charlotte, she just won on a roll-up that almost no one realized was happening. A very “meh” way to an ending that should’ve been as iconic as Daniel Bryan at WrestleMania 30. MATCH SCORE: 7/10.
OVERALL SCORE: 93/130, or 71.5% successful. There were three clear fan favorites entering the night — Rollins, Kingston and Lynch — and they all left with championship gold. That’s a great thing, but it’s also frustrating because other than the Kingston/Bryan match, the others felt a little flat. Rollins/Lesnar could’ve gone a little longer and the women’s main event should’ve had a more definitive ending to it. The only other good match on this card was Miz/Shane, with all of the other matches being average-to-above average. Angle retiring and Cena channeling his inner 2004 were awesome moments, though, that helped elevate this show above WrestleMania 25. While 25 has the definitive best match with Michaels/Undertaker, the lack of bad matches gives 35 the slight nod over its 2009 counterpart.