17 Years Later: WrestleMania’s Journey Back To Hollywood

The day has arrived. It only took 17 years (6,571 days) for the WWE to bring the biggest event of the year to the Greater Los Angeles area and what better way to do it than by upping the anticipation by making it two nights and filled with 90,000 diehard wrestling fans who will witness a new generation of stars taking over, and making a name for themselves at WrestleMania 39.

In 2005, Kanye West was rapping about gold diggers, Green Day sang to us about the boulevard of broken dreams. Star Wars Episode III – Revenge of the Sith was the #1 box office film and Tim Duncan won his third NBA Finals MVP against the defending Detroit Pistons. But how much of LA has changed ever since that year?

The Los Angeles Lakers won three NBA titles in the last 17 years (’08, ’09 and ’20) and the world mourned the legendary Kobe and his daughter Gianna Bryant who were tragically killed in a helicopter crash along with six other family members in 2020.

The Los Angeles Dodgers won 11 West Division titles, 3 NL pennants and their first World Series title since 1988. The passing of the legendary voice of the Dodgers Vin Scully was mourned all over the world, Scully will forever be remembered for the impact he gave us while calling the beautiful game of baseball for 67 summers.

The Los Angeles Kings destroyed their championship drought when they won their first and second Stanley Cups in ’11-’12 (vs. New Jersey Devils) and ’13-’14 (vs. New York Rangers) while Jonathan Quick and Justin Williams respectively won the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Lastly, the Los Angeles Rams went back to the Super Bowl as they defeated the Cincinnati Bengals inside of the home to this year’s WrestleMania with a score of 23-20 to secure their first Super Bowl win since 2000. Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald, Cooper Kupp and the LA Rams hoisted up the Lombardi trophy and ended their night with their hands held high at Sofi stadium.

LA is the city of angels, dreamers, believers and champions. The goal to never give up is always on the back of everyone’s mind when their backs are against the wall and it feels like success just isn’t for you. That however will not be the case when it comes to the matches on nights one and two of WrestleMania 39.

The last time the WWE universe filled the streets of LA was at WrestleMania 21. That night ended with stars such as future Hall of Famers Batista, John Cena and Randy Orton shining bright to showcase that they could carry the company on their backs. Despite Orton not ending the streak, he became the top heel for years to come with the chaos he brought with him. John Cena would go on to carry WWE for over 15 years and Batista solidified himself not only as a legend in the business, but a highly praised star in Hollywood.

Legends such as Kurt Angle, Shawn Michaels, the Big Show, the late great Eddie Guererro, Chris Jericho, Booker T, Rey Mysterio, JBL, Edge, Trish Stratus, Triple H and the Undertaker competed at WrestleMania 21 as well. Out of all those names, only three are still active in the WWE with Mysterio, Edge and Stratus being on this weekend’s card.

This years WrestleMania is about battling your childhood idols, getting redemption on the opportunities that slipped away and proving that you can be the face of the next generation of the WWE.

17 years go, 20,000 fans packed the Staples Center and now the journey back to Hollywood has led 90,000 fans into two nights of jam-packed action inside of the Sofi stadium in Inglewood, California.

What better way to officially start a card than by having the man who carried the business for years with Cena battling to become a 6x United States champion against the cocky Austin Theory who is vowing to give the Franchise his “gift” in the biggest match of Theory’s young WWE career. Cena would go on in his career to battle many legends at Mania such as Triple H, HBK, Edge, Batista, Big Show, the Undertaker and the Rock. The ultimate test to become the best is by battling the best. Theory will need to prove that if he wants to show he can be the next top guy of the WWE. A win over the legend would skyrocket the career of Theory, but it can also send it 200 miles per hour into a wall if he doesn’t show why he deserves to be the guy. Cena was able to prove himself by defeating JBL to kickstart his career, Theory will have to do the same and more if he wants his first win at WrestleMania to mean something in the next 17 years.

The women in WWE have come a long way since 2005. The WWE used to focus on oversexualizing the women in bra and panties matches, pillow fights and many stipulations that made no sense and meant to put the women down rather than promote your stars. That has changed in the last 10 years and in the last couple of years, the women have main evented their own PPV and WrestleMania. That tradition continues when two challengers look to get revenge at the grandest stage of them all. Asuka has not won a match at WrestleMania since making her debut, Rhea Ripley lost her first WrestleMania to that years winner of the Royal Rumble Charlotte Flair.

Bianca Belair will look to go 3-0 at WrestleMania and continue her year long reign by defeating the new version of Asuka that looks to start a new chapter in WWE while Flair will look to keep her 7th reign as SmackDown Women’s champion alive by once again defeating Ripley in the rematch from WrestleMania 36. The stakes are high and the opportunity to steal the show for all 4 women will be there. The important thing to look at with both matches is the fresh air that these matches aren’t made to put them down with horrible match types, but to show why women’s wrestling is just as important as the men wrestling on the card.

In 2011, Edge announced his retirement due to several neck injuries and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame. In a time where we thought we would never see the Rated-R Superstar compete again, he would go on to return 9 years later at the Royal Rumble in 2020. Since then, he has given us the best matches he could provide and will look to continue the trend when he battles Finn Balor for the last time inside of the Hell in a Cell. The first time since WrestleMania 32 that the match is being brought to the big stage.

Balor has proven himself, not just as a competitor and champion, but as the guy you cannot doubt when he channels his inner demons. That will be the case when he brings back the Demon to attempt to slay the devil that is Edge. There is no better way to end a feud than with a Hell in a Cell, Edge proved it after they defeated Seth Rollins in 2021 at Crown Jewel. Edge was also the victim of it when he lost in 2008 at SummerSlam against the Undertaker. This will be his first WrestleMania in LA since winning the first-ever Money In The Bank briefcase and if this is the final year of his illustrious career, what better way to end a final WrestleMania than with a demonic structure between two of the best in the world who will settle the feud once and for all.

WrestleMania 21, that year Rey Mysterio fought his best friend and tag team partner Eddie Guererro. He emerged victorious and would go on to feud with Eddie over the custody of Rey’s son Dominik. Now 17 years later, Rey will have to come back to LA, be inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame and now attempt to defeat his son Dominik who is eager to beat his father and prove himself to the WWE. It’s been a very emotional story since Dom turned on his father and joined the Judgement Day. But the number one question that fans will be looking at is can Rey finally put an end to the hell Dom has been putting him through or will this be only the beginning of the hell Rey is about to witness first hand.

Dominik has improved since leaving his father’s side. However, it remains to be seen if he can outperform and defeat his dad to show not just him, but everyone watching around the world who has doubted them since they arrived in the WWE. Dom is not virtually identical in regards to the skills his father holds, but it will remain to be seen if he can channel the skills of Eddie’s motto of lying, cheating, and stealing to shock the world and his father by walking out of WrestleMania with the biggest win of his young career as well. We could see a low rider, we will see emotion pour from both men, and at the end of the night, we’ll see who gets the last word at the dinner table.

A story that is just as important as the main event of WrestleMania 39. From a year ago when Sami Zayn joined the Bloodline as the Honorary Uce. It would lead into the best of times for both Roman Reigns, the Usos and the WWE Universe. But a brother like Kevin Owens was there to make sure that when Zayn got stabbed in the back, he wasn’t alone. The tension, the build, the story that has been told between all four men has proven that they deserve to have the honors of being the main event to the first night for Mania 39.

Jimmy and Jey have cemented themselves as one of, if not the greatest Tag Team in WWE history with a combined 938 days as the Undisputed WWE Tag Team Champions. The journey from being forced in the Bloodline to being where they are at now has been inconceivable and if somehow, someway the team of Zayn and Owens can upset the Bloodline a day before the Tribal Chief is set to defend his throne against the American Nightmare. It would truly be a nightmare for the Head of the Table. Nevertheless, the Usos will forever be remembered reigning as one of the best tag teams in the world which they will try to keep going if they can stop the 1000 MPH train of WrestleZaynia and KOMania at WrestleMania 39.

When Cody Rhodes left the WWE in 2016, no one thought his journey back would lead him to the biggest main event in WrestleMania history. When he was wrestled all over the Independent scene and brought in for New Japan, we slowly watched the growth of someone who wanted to prove they belonged and when Cody decided to test his luck with the biggest test by going back to the WWE after bringing in AEW with his friends Matt and Nick Jackson, Kenny Omega and Chris Jericho. Cody could have easily stayed in AEW and made himself the world champion. However, no true champion wants to give himself the top prize of the promotion. Instead, Cody earned everything by working his tail off for it. He returned in Dallas to beat Seth Rollins, he ended their feud inside of the Hell In A Cell even after suffering an injury. He made it back just in time for the Royal Rumble and became the first wrestler in his family to win and earn a main event at WrestleMania 39. Not too bad for the grandson of a plumber.

Last, but certainly not ever going to be labeled as the least. Roman Reigns has reigned supreme for the last 1,307 days as the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion. He began the Bloodline in 2021 and since then they’ve been the most dominant group in recent history. But like all good things, some must come to an end and in this case, the Tribal Chief might have to acknowledge the nightmare that is brewing in the back of his head in preparation for what will be the biggest and most talked about match for the next 20 years. While Cody was All Elite, Reigns was proving he is the most elite wrestler anyone can face in the WWE. It will take heart, grit, and a whole lot of courage to go against the odds that both men are facing to prove to the other that they are the best in the world. After Sunday night, we’ll either acknowledge the Tribal Chief Roman Reigns just like we have for the last three years or we will officially enter the new era of the American Nightmare and NEW! WWE Undisputed Universal Champion, Cody Rhodes.

Whether you’re watching at home or at Sofi Stadium getting ready for the biggest show of the weekend. Just remember that the year is 2023 and we are lucky to be alive to witness one of the greatest world title reigns of all-time along with the best stories built for the biggest WrestleMania in a very long time.

HONORABLE OMOSAPIENS MENTION: Brock Lesnar left the WWE a year prior to WrestleMania 21 going down in Los Angeles, he will go one on one in a ONCE IN A LIFETIME match with the great Omos in what will be a match to remember for the ages. No matter where you’re at or what you’re doing. Do not miss the legendary clash between the two behemoths at WrestleMania 39.

You can listen to all of Bodyslam’s podcasts by following us on Spotify and subscribing to our YouTube Channel,  or any of your favorite podcast platforms.

Follow me on Twitter: @WhoElseButRami
Follow us on Twitter: @BodyslamNet