Rikishi def. Rico in a "Kiss My Ass" Match
I can't recall too many great Rikishi matches, and by 2002, he was largely only useful for stuff like this. The match was completely harmless at two and a half minutes long and the crowd was into everything Rikishi did. Rico was also the right guy to take the loss since he meant nothing, anyway. Also, what was the point of the stipulation if Rikishi would always put his ass in the face of his opponents regardless?
WWE Cruiserweight Champion Jamie Noble def. The Hurricane
Despite his goofy gimmick and having Nidia as his valet (who I understand helped him generate heel heat), Noble was an excellent in-ring competitor and didn't get enough credit for having the solid matches he was at the time. This was an enjoyable encounter between himself and Hurricane where the story was that had it not been for Nidia, Hurricane would have become champion.
Hunico and Camacho def. Mike Dalton and Jason Jordan
Dalton and Jordan had previously scored an upset victory over Hunico and Camacho, which confused me since it looked like Hunico and Camacho were being built up. I suppose the point of that was to make Dalton and Jordan look competitive here and make viewers think they had a chance of winning again. Of course, that wasn't the case, but this was a nice little match and a good showing from everyone involved.
The Ascension Attacked The Usos
The Usos called out The Ascension as they had unfinished business from the last time they clashed, only for The Ascension to ambush them from behind and lay a brutal beating on them. It was rare we actually saw talking segment (or something that wasn't a match) take place in the ring and not backstage, so this was a refreshing change of pace to breath new life into their feud.
The Rock Addressed the Audience
It isn't ideal to kick off a huge show such as WrestleMania with a talking segment, but if anyone can electrify an audience and get them hyped up for the evening, it's The Rock. He didn't say much of substance here, but the crowd ate up everything he said and did, nevertheless. He went so far as to predict that this would be "the most memorable WrestleMania of all-time." I guess he was partially right, but it wasn't memorable for the right reasons.
World Heavyweight Champion Edge def. Alberto Del Rio
First and foremost, the fact this kicked off the event essentially told viewers the World Heavyweight Championship wasn't important. Then again, that had been the case for years by this point, so I don't remember being too surprised at the time. As a match, though, this was actually very good. Edge and Del Rio worked well together and the interference from Ricardo Rodriguez, Brodus Clay and Christian at ringside didn't take away from the action. I would have put the belt on Del Rio, but Edge had never successfully retained a world title at WrestleMania before, so it was a cool moment for him. Considering no one knew that this would be Edge's last match ever (he officially retired from the ring eight days after this), I'd say he went out on a high note.
Antonio Cesaro def. Derrick Bateman
Cesaro is obviously one of those guys who can get at least a decent match out of anyone he steps in the ring with g, and considering Bateman was improving anyway (which William Regal made mention of on commentary), this was an enjoyable matchup. Similar to any other NXT match around this time, they weren't given a ton of time, but they definitely maximized their minutes and set the tone for the rest of the night.
Tamina Snuka def. Sofia Cortez
I believe Cortez was already released from the promotion by this point and this had been taped beforehand, so it was no surprise that she lost. That said, she had plenty of potential and it was unfortunate she was cut from her contract (though she did go on to reinvent herself in Lucha Underground). Tamina had a fine showing, but none of her matches ever excite me. On the bright side, Raquel Diaz had her moment to shine afterward by attacking Tamina.
Triple H Attacked Ted DiBiase
We had essentially heard it all from both HHH and The Undertaker at this point in the build-up to their bout at WrestleMania 27, so his promo here was hardly anything new. I would have been fine with him leaving it at that, but apparently he felt the need to bury DiBiase because, well, just because. DiBiase referred to himself as an "afterthought" before getting his ass handed to him by The Game and put through a table, so needless to say, his stock was not exactly at an all-time high at this time.
United States Champion Sheamus def. Evan Bourne (Non-title)
Bourne previously beat Sheamus upon his return to the ring one month earlier, but instead of running with that boost of momentum for Bourne, WWE opted to do nothing with him. Thus, his decisive loss to Sheamus on this show wasn't a surprise in the slightest. It was a fine little match that gave Sheamus another victory coming off his United States Championship win the week before. Afterward, Daniel Bryan announced he'd be invoking his rematch for the title at WrestleMania, but of course, that would ultimately be bumped from the WrestleMania card.
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