WrestleMania XXVI was the twenty-sixth annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), which took place on March 28, 2010 at the University of Phoenix Stadium in the Phoenix suburb of Glendale, Arizona. This was the fourth WrestleMania to feature a non-title main event and the first since WrestleMania XI. The event was the first WrestleMania to be held in the state of Arizona and the third to be held in an open-air venue, after WrestleMania IX and WrestleMania XXIV. The theme songs for the event were "I Made It" by Kevin Rudolf and "Be Yourself" by Audioslave.
WrestleMania XXVI was a joint-promotion event, featuring performers both from the Raw and SmackDown brands. Ten matches were featured on the event's card, which featured a supercard, a scheduling of more than one main bout. The first of these matches was a no disqualification, no count-out match that featured The Undertaker defeating Shawn Michaels to improve his undefeated WrestleMania streak to 18–0. Per the pre-match stipulation, Michaels was forced to retire. The second was a singles match for the WWE Championship that saw John Cena defeat the champion, Batista by submission to win the championship. The third was a singles match for the World Heavyweight Championship featured the champion, Chris Jericho, defeating Edge to retain the title. Featured matches on the undercard included a 10-Diva tag team match, Bret Hart versus Mr. McMahon in a No Holds Barred match, Rey Mysterio versus CM Punk, Triple H versus Sheamus, the sixth annual Money in the Bank ladder match, Randy Orton versus Ted DiBiase versus Cody Rhodes in a Triple Threat match and a Unified WWE Tag Team Championship match between the champion team, The Big Show and The Miz, against the team of John Morrison and R-Truth.
Tickets for the event commenced sale to the public on November 7, 2009. Approximately 885,000 people ordered the event, grossing $39 million in revenue. This figure is down from WrestleMania XXV's figure of 960,000 buys. With an attendance of 72,219, the event grossed US$5.8 million in ticket sales, making the event the highest grossing and attended entertainment event held at the University of Phoenix Stadium, and the third highest grossing event in WWE history after WrestleMania XXV and WrestleMania XXIV.
WrestleMania featured professional wrestling matches that involved different wrestlers from pre-existing feuds, plots, and storylines that were played out on Raw, SmackDown, NXT and WWE Superstars—World Wrestling Entertainment's (WWE) television programs. Wrestlers portrayed a villain or a hero as they followed a series of events that built tension, and culminated in a wrestling match or series of matches. All wrestlers were from WWE's Raw and SmackDown brands—a storyline division in which WWE employees are assigned to a television program of the same name.
At The Bash in 2009, Edge and Chris Jericho established a tag team partnership when they won the Unified Tag Team Championship that night. However, their partnership was short lived when Edge suffered a torn achilles tendon and had to vacate his half of the titles. Jericho distanced himself from Edge, crediting himself for all of the team's success. Edge made his return from injury at the Royal Rumble, where he won the annual Royal Rumble match, an over-the-top-rope elimination style match, earning himself an opportunity to fight for either the WWE Championship or the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania. In the main event of the Elimination Chamber event three weeks later, Jericho won the World Heavyweight Championship in an Elimination Chamber match. The following night on Raw, Edge announced his decision to face Jericho for the World Heavyweight Championship at WrestleMania after spearing him.
One of the predominant rivalries heading into WrestleMania XXVI was between John Cena and Batista for the WWE Championship. The conflict started when Cena sided with Bret Hart over Hart's hostility with WWE Chairman Vince McMahon. When Hart and McMahon confronted on the February 1 edition of Raw, Batista saved McMahon from an attack and ambushed Hart from behind. After the show ended, Cena tried to help Hart but was too attacked by Batista. In the opening match of the Elimination Chamber event, Cena won the WWE Championship from Sheamus in an Elimination Chamber match but was shortly interrupted by McMahon, who ordered a title match between Cena and Batista to take place on the spot. With Cena too tired to compete, Batista defeated him and won the title. On the February 22 episode of Raw, Cena asked for a rematch for the title at WrestleMania, which McMahon gave him the opportunity to as long as he defeated Batista that night. Later that night, Batista intentionally got himself disqualified by kicking Cena in the groin to set up their match at WrestleMania.
At WrestleMania XXV, Shawn Michaels was unsuccessful in defeating The Undertaker and ending Undertaker's undefeated streak at the event. When the match won the 2009 Slammy Award for Match of the Year, Michaels told in his acceptance speech that he could still defeat The Undertaker at WrestleMania and challenged him to a rematch. A month later, The Undertaker, then the World Heavyweight Champion, made his reply and refused a rematch. The refusal saw Michaels more obsessed about facing the Undertaker at the event, attacking referee Charles Robinson and SmackDown general manager Theodore Long respectively after failing his title match opportunities in the Royal Rumble match and Elimination Chamber qualifiers. At the Elimination Chamber event, Michaels sneaked into Undertaker's Elimination Chamber match for the World Heavyweight Championship and performed a Sweet Chin Music on The Undertaker, enabling Chris Jericho to defeat The Undertaker and win the World Heavyweight Championship. On the following night, The Undertaker changed his mind and accepted the rematch but with one condition, that if Michaels loses, he would have to retire. Michaels accepted, noting that if he can't end the streak, there's no reason why his career should continue. Two weeks later, Michaels and The Undertaker agreed on another additional stipulation, that the match will have no disqualifications and no count-outs.
On the February 22 episode of Raw, it was announced that the sixth annual Money in the Bank ladder match would take place at WrestleMania XXVI. In this match, numerous participants compete to retrieve a briefcase that is suspended above the ring with a cable by climbing a ladder. The briefcase holds a symbolic contract which the holder would be able to exchange for a WWE or World Heavyweight match at any time or location of his choosing up until WrestleMania XXVII. The first qualifying match was held later that night, where Christian defeated Carlito to qualify. Three more qualifying matches were held on the February 26 episode of SmackDown, with Dolph Ziggler defeating John Morrison and R-Truth in a Triple Threat match, Kane defeating Drew McIntyre, and Shelton Benjamin defeating CM Punk to qualify. The March 1 edition of Raw both saw Jack Swagger and Montel Vontavious Porter qualify by defeating Santino Marella and Zack Ryder respectively. Matt Hardy was the next to qualify for the match when he defeated Drew McIntyre on the March 5 episode of SmackDown. In what was initially declared as the final qualifying match, Evan Bourne defeated William Regal on the March 9 edition of Raw to become the eighth competitor. Due to his favorable association with Vince McMahon, McIntyre was given a third chance on the March 12 episode of SmackDown to qualify for the match, increasing the number of participants to nine. In what would also be made a WWE Intercontinental Championship defense by Theodore Long, McIntyre defeated local competitor Aaron Bolo to qualify. On the March 22nd episode of Raw, the number of participants was once again increased to a record ten, when Kofi Kingston defeated Vladimir Kozlov to qualify.
As a guest host of the January 4 edition of Raw, Bret Hart made his return to the show, the first time since the Montreal Screwjob incident at the 1997 Survivor Series where Vince McMahon was involved in legitimately double-crossing Hart out of the WWF Championship. On Raw, Hart tried to put all hostilities aside and make peace with McMahon. However, McMahon again betrayed Hart and kicked him in the groin. The rivalry was further fueled during Hart's second appearance a month later, where McMahon refused to induct Hart's father, Stu Hart, into the WWE Hall of Fame. On the February 8 episode of Raw, John Cena called out McMahon and told him that Hart wanted to face him at WrestleMania, which McMahon accepted. However, Hart who had been banned from the arena, showed up and attacked McMahon. Hiding behind security guards, McMahon changed his mind canceled the bout. Unable to get his match, Hart addressed the fans a week later and decided to make his goodbye, thanking them. Later on that night, Hart was involved in a car accident when a reversing car smashed the open door from Hart's limousine onto his leg, sending Hart immediately to hospital. McMahon agreed to feature the March 1 edition of Raw a "proper farewell" from Hart, but the segment ended up as a challenge from McMahon for the WrestleMania bout. Despite initial reluctance from Hart due to his leg, Hart was convinced to accept after McMahon said he had no more "Hart", called him a coward and kicked his crutches from underneath him. A contract signing was held two weeks later, moderated by guest host Stone Cold Steve Austin, who reversed McMahon's decision on Stu Hart's induction into the Hall of Fame. Before the contract was signed, Hart asked for the match to be a No Holds Barred match, which McMahon agreed to. Afterwards, Hart revealed that his leg was perfectly fine and that his car accident was a setup created by Cena and himself to force a match out of McMahon legally. And if Vince tried to back out in any possible way, Bret Hart could sue Vince for all that he's got.
It was announced on the March 5 edition of SmackDown that The Big Show and The Miz would defend their Unified WWE Tag Team Championship at the event against the team who won the qualifier that night. The qualifying match was contested as a Triple Threat match with the three teams being Cryme Tyme, The Hart Dynasty and the pairing of John Morrison, co-holder The Miz's former partner, and R-Truth. Morrison and Truth would go on to win the qualifying match.
At the previous month's Elimination Chamber event, then-WWE Champion, Sheamus, was eliminated from Raw's Elimination Chamber match by Triple H. Two weeks later, Sheamus ambushed Triple H following his match teaming with Shawn Michaels against The Big Show and The Miz, and beat him down. The following week on Raw, Sheamus issued a challenge to Triple H at WrestleMania, which saw him accept.
In early 2009, Randy Orton had formed a contingency known as The Legacy also featuring Ted DiBiase and Cody Rhodes. Later in that year, Orton had grown frustrated with his group, leading to a number of verbal confrontations and an assault on DiBiase, leading to the three of them having their membership being tested in matches under the threat of expulsion and a beat-down. The tension was staved off until Royal Rumble, which saw DiBiase and Rhodes accidentally prevent Orton from winning the WWE Championship. Similar results occurred the next month at the Elimination Chamber event with Rhodes trying to aide his partners in their Elimination Chamber match for the title as Orton was caught in the crossfire, leading to DiBiase eliminating Orton. The following night on Raw saw Orton turn on his associates, leading to the announcement on the March 15 edition of Raw of the three of them will face each other at WrestleMania in a Triple Threat match.
Since the beginning of 2010, CM Punk and his storyline disciples Luke Gallows and Serena had been on a crusade of sorts in order to promote the message of straight edge, a lifestyle that abstains from alcohol, tobacco, and recreational drug use; he did so by preaching his gospel to the crowd and sometimes by "converting" members of the crowd by shaving their heads. The three of them would call themselves the Straight Edge Society. On the February 12 edition of SmackDown, Punk faced Rey Mysterio in a losing effort. Following the match, he and his group assaulted Mysterio, leading to a series of interference between the two. The animosity would escalate between the two on the March 12 edition of SmackDown, when Mysterio brought his family into the ring to commemorate his daughter, Aaliyah's, 9th birthday. Punk would interrupt the celebration by threatening Mysterio and taunting his children as they left the ring. The events came to a boiling point to Mysterio and Punk preparing to face each other at WrestleMania. Following Mysterio's loss to Gallows, the prematch stipulation for their match would be that if the former would lose, he would join the Straight Edge Society.
- Numbers in parentheses indicate the length of the match.
- (c) refers to the champion(s) heading into the match.
- Dark Match: Yoshi Tatsu won a 26-man Battle Royal by last eliminating Zack Ryder. (The other participants were: Carlito, Caylen Croft, Chris Masters, David Hart Smith, Finlay, Goldust, The Great Khali, Hornswoggle, Jimmy Wang Yang, JTG, Kung Fu Naki, Luke Gallows, Mark Henry, Mike Knox, Primo, Santino Marella, Shad Gaspard, Slam Master J, Trent Baretta, Tyler Reks, Tyson Kidd, Vance Archer, Vladimir Kozlov, and William Regal)
- ShoMiz (Big Show & The Miz) (c) defeated John Morrison & R-Truth to retain the WWE Unified Tag Team Championships (6:28)
- Randy Orton defeated Cody Rhodes & Ted DiBiase in a Triple Threat Match (12:41)
- Jack Swagger defeated Christian, Dolph Ziggler, Kane, Shelton Benjamin, MVP, Matt Hardy, Evan Bourne, Drew McIntyre, Kofi Kingston in a Money in the Bank Ladder Match (17:01)
- Triple H defeated Sheamus (14:34)
- Rey Mysterio defeated CM Punk (8:20)
- Bret Hart defeated Mr. McMahon by submission in a No Holds Barred Lumberjack match (15:09)
- Chris Jericho (c) defeated Edge to retain the World Heavyweight Championship (15:45)
- Michelle McCool, Layla, Maryse, Alicia Fox and Vickie Guerrero defeated Mickie James, Kelly Kelly, Eve Torres, Gail Kim and Beth Phoenix in a 10-Diva tag team match (4:20)
- John Cena defeated Batista (c) by submission to win the WWE Championship (21:30)
- The Undertaker defeated Shawn Michaels in a No Disqualification, No Count-out, Streak vs. Career Match (34:57)
Other on-screen talent
- (Official Website)
- WrestleMania 26 at CAGEMATCH.NET
- WrestleMania 26 at Online World of Wrestling
- WrestleMania 26 Review at The Wrestling Cafe
- WrestleMania XXVI on WWE Network
Video on YouTube The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels highlights
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