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Jack Likes Wrestlemania: Wrestlemania 22

March 20, 2015 | Posted by Jack Stevenson
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Jack Likes Wrestlemania: Wrestlemania 22  



In this match, Big Show and Kane pummel their challengers while Carlito and Masters get in just enough offense to justify the fact that they performed their full entrances and weren’t just introduced as “already in the ring!” Show literally walks over Masters and then crotches Carlito on the top rope, which is quite the pair of humiliating spots! The bad guys just can’t get any momentum going. Masters locks in his signature lock on Kane but Show boots him down pretty quickly. Carlito lands the Backcracker on the Giant but turns straight into a choke-slam from Kane! Masters tries to prevent another one with a top rope forearm, but misses and hits his own partner! The Big Red Monster goes ahead with his finishing move, and it retains the championships. * ½. This was quite the slaughter! A reasonably entertaining one in places, and I doubt the traditional tag formula would have worked much better. Post match, Carlito and Masters show some dissension, with the crowd keen on a face turn for the former.


Lashley is public enemy number one at the beginning, with everyone fearing him for his size. Fools! Why are they not quaking in fear of Finlay? He’ll hit you 20,000 times harder than mild mannered Bobby will. Shelton calls back to his heroics from last year by running up a ladder leaning against the ropes and then springboarding onto a pile of bodies on the floor! Ric Flair takes a grossly unnecessary superplex off the top of a ladder and has to be helped to the back in utter agony. He limps back into the fray later on to a huge response, but a shattering shot to the skull from Finlay’s shillelaghs sends him falling off another ladder and out of proceedings for good. Lashley goes for the briefcase but Van Dam cuts him off with a mid-air Van Terminator! Hardy follows up with a leg drop from way up high to essentially take the big man out of the match. I’m referring to Lashley there, not Matt, he wasn’t that chunky at this stage. Finlay is the next man to fall as the bout begins to resemble an elimination match. He eats a Side Effect off the ladder from Hardy, and Van Dam crushes him with a dizzying splash from the tippiest of tops! RVD scales the ladder and seems to have victory in his sights, Benjamin springboards from the top rope onto the ladder to meet him in one stunning motion! What a guy! His reward is to get his ladder tipped over the top rope by Van Dam, and that takes Hardy with him! Mr. Monday Night is the last man standing, and becomes Mr. Money in the Bank as a result! *** ½. The stunts weren’t as original or spectacular as the previous year’s, and while the first Money in the Bank match was brimming with star power, this one felt like Van Dam. Flair, and then four guys randomly plucked out of the pre show Battle Royal. The pace of the match was nigh on relentless though, and the elimination booking of the latter stages of the bout gave it a nice danger and drama. It might have felt a better match in retrospect if Van Dam had done anything with his opportunity.


JBL was getting inside Chris Benoit’s head by reminding him that he’d beaten Eddie Guerrero for the WWE Championship in the past, and if he could get past Benoit at Wrestlemania, that would conclusively prove he was the best technical wrestler. A storyline that can only be described as “among the less blatantly offensive attempts to turn Eddie Guerrero’s death from a real life tragedy into a plot point.” Layfield is accompanied to the ring by Jillian Hall, whose official job title was ‘image consultant’ but here becomes ‘human shield,’ as her client puts her between him and Benoit. The distraction allows Bradshaw to take control for a little while. He mocks Eddie Guerrero’s shimmy and then tries to pull off the Three Amigos. Happily, Benoit blocks his rendition of the move and then shows him how it’s done. The Swandive Headbutt gets a two count. JBL tries to fire back with the Clothesline from Hell, but Benoit ducks it and rides him down into the Crippler Crossface. JBL counters the move into a cradle though, and clings on to the ropes to get the pin and pick up the United States championship! **. On paper this sounds like it could be a proper war of attrition, but Benoit’s heart didn’t really seem in wrestling after Guerrero’s passing and JBL didn’t have any special ideas to lift him out of his funk. Both men were perfectly competent though, and they settled on going through the motions and having a competent match.

The Hall of Fame inductees from 2006 are brought onto the stage, sans Bret Hart who still wasn’t keen on appearing live at a WWE event. Vickie Guerrero soaks in the adulation for her late husband Eddie in a moment that still brings a tear to the eye.


This feud revolved around Mick Foley’s distinct lack of a Wrestlemania moment despite his otherwise legendary career, and Edge’s seething rage at the legend for being the special guest referee in a championship match he lost to John Cena. The two issues intertwined to push the feud along.

We start off with faintly comedic weapons in the form of cookie sheets and road signs. Edge puts them both to good use, but his strong start quickly unravels when he tries to spear his foe. Foley’s wrapped his torso in barbed wire, and upon making impact the Rated-R Superstar is plunged into a world of hurt! Lita tries to stop Foley from building any momentum by leaping on his back, but Mick ploughs ahead with a Cactus clothesline anyway that sends all three of them tumbling out to the floor! The match goes through a bit of a lull from there, as they focus on preparing for the climactic moment of the match. To do this, Edge sets a table up by the entrance way but doesn’t get a chance to use it, then douses Foley in lighter fluid. Things pick back up as the former Mr. Money in the Bank bashes his sworn enemy with a barbed wire baseball bat. He retrieves some thumbtacks and scatters them in a corner of the ring, but Foley seizes him and drops him right in them with a back suplex! That’s the cue for this match to become extremely ace as the violence becomes utterly depraved. Foley whips out Mr. Socko, then decides he looks out of place in such an environment. So he wraps him in barbed wire and delivers the Mandible Claw to Edge! And to Lita! Is it possible for your skin to crawl in a good way? Because that’s how I feel when I see barbed wire clad Mr. Socko. Edge spears Foley through the flaming table! That is indeed enough for the three count! Edge looks completely traumatised in victory and I wouldn’t be surprised if some of the younger fans in attendance felt that way as well. But there are worse ways to be traumatised. That was a stunning match. **** ¼. It lost its way a bit in the middle because they stopped to set up the table and establish fire as a thing that might happen in advance of the final spot, and didn’t quite manage to successfully disguise what they were doing as a natural development of the match. After they’d finished they had to recapture the simmering tension of the early stages and let in explode everywhere, and I’d say they managed to do that very well indeed! The final series of stunts is as close to a horror movie as you’ll get in professional wrestling, but they were performed with such expertise, so every deranged moment felt more unsettlingly satisfying than the last. A herculean effort on the part of both men!


Well this is something… different. Booker T and Sharmell were both terrified of the worm eating creature from the bottomless bit, and would come up with any excuse not to have to be anywhere near him. Now they’re stuck in a match with him! I don’t think it’s much comfort to them that they have the numerical advantage. Booker T uses a petrified Sharmell as bait and then attacks Boogeyman while he’s distracted. He cracks him right on the jaw with a crescent kick for a two count. The Bookend gets the same. Boogey fights back and sends his opponent into the ring post. Pleased with his comeback, he decides to reward himself with a wormy snack. Sharmell tries to interrupt his meal by attacking him with his own mysterious staff, but Boogeyman catches her in the act and plants a most unpleasant kiss on her. A double hand choke slam sees off Booker. ¾ *. Boogeyman was utterly atrocious at performing moves, but his commitment to his character was admirable and it’s nice that he’s rewarded with the odd cameo appearance here and there. The match wasn’t very good and the worm comedy is limited, but at four minutes it was just about tolerable.


This is one of the more fondly remembered Divas’ rivalries there’s ever been, and with good reason, because it was a vibrant feud with two capable performers whose characters had a clear internal logic about them and were both sympathetic at different points of the rivalry. Mickie James debuted as an upbeat, eccentric, Trish Stratus mega fan. At first her appreciation for the legendary Diva seemed harmless if occasionally a bit excessive, but James slowly began to exhibit decidedly more unnerving tendencies, including startling Stratus in the shower and planting a kiss on her. Eventually, Trish politely informed Mickie that they couldn’t spend so much time together, a request which wasn’t taken well. Mickie started to dress as Trish and kidnapped her pal Ashley as her love turned to loathing and a maniacal desire to take her Women’s Championship. We’re mere sentences away from her getting that opportunity! Look, she’s getting it right now! Trish unleashes some pent up frustrations on James, crushing her into the mat with a Thesz Press before chopping and kicking her out the ring. On the floor she aims a Chick Kick at Mickie, but misses and smacks the ring post! That gives the challenger an opening, which she exploits in simple, effective fashion, bouncing the injured limb off the mat and into the ring post and wearing it down with a half crab. Trish fights back and aims to take her nemesis off the top rope with a Stratusphere, but Mickie drops to the floor of her own accord to send Stratus slumping to the mat. Back in the ring, Stratus utilises her ever impressive Matrix manoeuvre to duck a clothesline, and hooks Mickie’s head for some Stratusfaction. But Mickie counters by groping Trish’s vagina! She licks her fingers! Ewwwww! Or at least I hear that’s what she did, it was edited out of the DVD version and on the Network they cut to a shot of the crowd. James tries to follow up with the Stratusfaction but it falls apart, so she nimbly improvises by stealing the Chick Kick and winning the Women’s Championship off it! *** ¼. The leg work went nowhere and some of the execution of the moves was incredibly sloppy, but it’s so refreshing whenever a women’s match in WWE actually has some ambition, and this bout has plenty of it. Stratus and James did such a marvellous job with this storyline, as stalker angles in wrestling are hardly original and it could so easily have devolved into a cheap excuse for sexy lesbian shenanigans. While there definitely were a few of those, they incorporated them as part of a genuinely intriguing plot that it was possible to actually care about, and that’s something many of the men’s matches on the show can’t boast. The match was kind of a microcosm of the angle as a whole, because obviously there’s the moment where Mickie lunges for Trish’s vagina and licks her fingers and it’s not especially subtle, but it’s so shocking and blatant and gleefully crass that you can’t help but admire it. Quite aside from that spot, the standard of wrestling is quite high; Mickie’s leg work is gritty and interesting and Trish would have got a ton of sympathy from it were it not for Chicago’s insistence on rebelling against WWE’s wishes whenever it’s remotely justifiable. If it had factored into the finish in any way this would have been a strong contender for the best women’s match in WWE history, but this is still a distinct and exciting bout.


Mark Henry wanted to end the Streak because who wouldn’t? He made his intentions perfectly clear by costing Undertaker a World Championship match with Kurt Angle and splashing him through an announce table. Undertaker wanted to lock him and all of his gall and temerity in a Casket and close the lid.

This bares closer resemblance to ‘Taker’s Mania skirmishes with King Kong Bundy or Kane (the second time) than it does Diesel or Kane (the first time). Henry would suddenly get very, very good when he joined the ECW brand in 2008 and I have no idea how that happened. You’d think if you’d made no real improvement in over a decade you’d have to be considered a lost cause, but somehow it just seemed to take Mark an inordinately long time to put it together. Anyway, his performance here is lacklustre. It’s a just a bunch of unremarkable moves and punches and kicks delivered with none of the intensity or charisma that would later become his forte. Henry tries for the ten punches in the corner, but do you know what, Taker counters with the Last Ride! Or a version of it at least, since he can’t quite get the World’s Strongest Man high up enough. He throws Henry out to the floor, and then skies over the casket and into his foe with a jaw-dropping plancha! That almost makes the match worthwhile on its own. Back in the ring, Taker drops Henry with the Tombstone, and trundles him into the casket to conclude. *.


Vince rounds off his entrance by gleefully revealing a framed Muscle and Fitness cover he featured on at ringside. Shawn has no time for his posturing and goes on the attack, crashing the frame over Vince’s head in a most satisfying manner! The boss is getting mauled, so he calls in the cavalry- his loyal band of cheerleaders, the Spirit Squad! They probably shouldn’t have been placed in prominent matches against the likes of Shawn and Triple H, but as the most wildly inappropriate security team in wrestling history, the Squad were just daft and tremendous. You could take any five seconds of their career at random, and there’s a good chance they’d be doing something GIF worthy in it, maybe a funny dance. They have brief success against HBK, combining to hurl him into the air and watch him crash to the mat. The over exuberant Kenny misses a leg drop though, and that gives Shawn the chance to grab their megaphone and bop them all over the head with it. Kenny is catapulted over the top rope onto the rest of his team, and that takes them out the match! They have bought Vince McMahon some valuable time though, and he takes over on Shawn for a bit. He tries to hit his own version of Sweet Chin Music though, and becomes a victim of his own ambition. Michaels easily blocks the move and rattles off some moves, until Shane McMahon interferes to help his father, cracking HBK with a kendo stick. Oh no! Vince wants to get his arse out! He’d made both Shawn and Marty Jannetty kiss it in his attempt to degrade the Heartbreak Kid as much as possible, and it looks like it’s going to happen again! The way he does a little striptease is really funny, he’s apparently convinced his bare bottom is something we’re all mega keen on seeing. Shane tries to force Shawn into his father’s rump, but Michaels blocks and sends Shane in instead! What a unique father/son bonding experience that is. Shawn handcuffs Shane to the ropes and does a funny little version of his dance, then whacks him repeatedly with the cane! He follows it up with a truly diabolical chair shot to Vince’s head! Shane pleads that enough is enough, but Michaels still has a big finish in mind. He places a trash can over Vince’s head, lies him on a table, then scales to the top of a truly gigantic ladder and plunges off with an elbow drop, crushing his nemesis below! Unsurprisingly, that’s that. *** ½. This wasn’t as delightfully zany as Vince McMahon’s best matches, but it was a marvellous performance from the chairman of the board. Of course, Shawn was responsible for anything even remotely athletic concerned, but it was Vince’s hilarious facial expressions and body language that made this much more than just a monotonous, bloody pummelling. I think it would have helped if there was a better storyline going into this match- the feud was built around Vince’s attempt to drag the dark side out of the reformed, modern Shawn Michaels, but since Shawn had gone heel as recently as the previous summer for his feud with Hulk Hogan, that dark side didn’t really seem like it would be so tough to unleash. Plus they made tons of references to Montreal and because they’re both the villains in that context, it was harder to get behind Shawn when he was being trapped in a Sharpshooter by Shane and having the bell rung on him on Saturday Night’s Main Event. Still, they had plenty of high spots that were fun enough in their own right to keep things interesting, and the finishing stretch felt appropriately violent and final considering Vince’s shameless dickheadery in the earlier stages of the match. Considering McMahon’s limitations this is a hugely impressive display.


In the wake of Eddie Guerrero’s tragic passing in November of 2005, WWE did all they could to ensure his memory remained indomitable. Some of these attempts were admirable, such as the week of tribute shows and his Hall of Fame induction, and some of them were not so admirable, such as their decision to propel Rey Mysterio to the main event scene by involving him in a series of nauseatingly sentimental stunts that reduced Guerrero’s death to a cheap ploy for sympathy and PPV buys. The most egregious of these featured Randy Orton informing Mysterio that Eddie was in hell and then beating him at No Way Out to steal the World Championship match he’d earned by winning the Royal Rumble. Teddy Long took pity on Rey because Randy was being quite the dick and did cheat to win their match, so he gave him his title shot back and made it a Triple Threat. Orton branded Mysterio a “charity case” earlier on the broadcast and that’s exactly what it feels like. Pity is not an emotion that comes naturally in the survival of the fittest world of professional wrestling, and hoping that Rey could ride a wave of it to a Wrestlemania moment was a long shot at best. Unsurprisingly, the fans are solidly behind Kurt Angle, who didn’t try to tug at your heartstrings nor offend your sensibilities in the run up to the match like his opponents did. He was just completely focused on retaining his championship, and because of this had eroded all the amusing goofiness that previously characterised him- this was the meanest, coolest Angle there’d ever been.

Orton blocks a wheelbarrow from Mysterio, Kurt sneaks up behind them, and sends both men flying with a double German suplex! Belly to Belly for Orton! He sits the Legend Killer on the top rope, then throws Mysterio up there to meet him with a huracanrana! The champion welcomes Mysterio back from the skies by throwing him out to the floor. Angle is in blistering form! Kurt grapevines the Ankle Lock and Mysterio taps out, but the referee doesn’t call the match because Orton has the referee distracted. If there’s one thing this match needed it was for Mysterio to look more vulnerable and unworthy of being there! Angle taps Orton out as well, but this time Mysterio has the referee distracted. The booking of him in this match alone is absolutely catastrophic. Chicago is turning against him and now he’s cheating to deny their favourite the victory? Wonderful! Rey tries to 619 Angle from the ringpost but falls to the floor mid move to the mockery of the crowd as his match goes from bad to worse. He does manage to take Kurt down with a Seated Senton, but waltzes right into an attack from his nemesis Orton. He primes Rey for the RKO, but Angle spoils his plan with an Angle Slam! He tries for another one on Mysterio, but the underdog arm drags him to the floor. From there, it’s a 619 and West Coast Pop to Orton and an unlikely new World Heavyweight Champion! *** ¼. Just under ten minutes is an inadequate amount of time to tell the story of a theoretically beloved underdog securing his first World Championship, but considering how badly Mysterio was booked throughout this whole angle it seems oddly appropriate. It’s a pity, because for years and years Mysterio was a fucking incredible professional wrestler and the story of him overcoming all the odds that his own undersized body stacked against him to reach the pinnacle of the industry is hugely uplifting and inspiring in and of itself, without requiring Eddie Guerrero’s shadow to loom quite as largely. Having said all of that, the bout itself was an absolute blast for its nine minute run time, and Kurt Angle fans frustrated by my incessant criticisms of him over the last few reviews will be pleased to know that I thought his performance in this was outstanding, it’s very easy to understand why Chicago got behind him so vocally. Whatever else can be said about Kurt, he’s a remarkable athlete with remarkably intensity, and that’s what shone through here.


One of these women was in Playboy! The other was also in Playboy but slightly longer ago and had a pet dog whose bottom she would often rub in her enemies faces! Now they will fight with pillows on a bed! Will they strip each other to their underwear? Of course! How many actual wrestling moves will there be? Maybe as many as two! Will it be a shambles and an embarrassment! An shambarassment? Of course it will! Torrie wins the match, in case you were pondering. 0.


I love the zany, theatrical entrances both men have. Triple H rises from the ground, perched on a throne and surrounded by skulls, looking like Conan the Barbarian or a Nordic god or something. John Cena is introduced as a depression era mobster with CM Punk making a cameo as a member of his gang, Cena blissfully unaware of what a thorn in his side he’d turn out to be. He’s definitely aware of what a thorn in his side the city of Chicago as a whole would be though, as they boo him vociferously and get behind noted hero of internet fans everywhere, Triple H.

Triple H outwrestles Cena in the opening sequence to set the tone for the match- HHH is a superior technician, so Cena has to rely on his passionate brawling and never say die attitude to carry him through. They do a token sequence to establish that Cena does know a wrist lock from his wristwatch though, with the champ whipping the challenger off his feet with a Fisheman’s Suplex. They have quite a languid brawl on the floor- Cena backdrops Hunter onto the entrance ramp, but the Game comes back by driving him into the ring steps, and asserts his dominance back in the squared circle. He doesn’t control in a particularly interesting fashion though. The crowd are engaged in the now familiar duel between the “let’s go Cena!” and “Cena sucks!” parties, and it feels as if they’re doing that because it’s more relevant than what is happening in the ring. John makes a comeback but gets cut off with a Spinebuster, which in fairness generates a roaring ovation! It can’t stop the Champ’s momentum for long though- he gets the Five Knuckle Shuffle, and locks on the STFU! HHH makes the ropes. He shoves Cena into the corner, sandwiching the referee there, and then takes both bodies out with one low blow! Helmsley thieves the “you can’t see me!” gesture, and then delivers a crotch chop to the glee of Chicago! I like that he’s accepted the adoration of the crowd and is shamelessly pandering to it, it’s always better to try and stoke these fiery atmospheres even if they aren’t quite what you intended. Eek! It’s the Sledgehammer! Crashing right into Cena’s torso! Hunter makes the cover, but the groggy referee can only count to two before the Champ kicks out! Cena powers out of a Pedigree, and hits the F-U! One, two, not three! He tries for a high crossbody, but nobody’s home. Another Pedigree is reversed into an STFU though, and this time HHH can’t break the hold, so he’s forced to tap out! ** ¾. This didn’t really work, as the crowd’s negativity towards Cena became wearisome and seemed to drain the life from the match, which was fought at a sluggish pace throughout. I don’t think HHH and Cena handled it badly, I think decisively turning the fans around would have taken a truly remarkable effort and it was better to just tap into their loathing for Cena, rather than moderate it and quieten them down. In the end though, they were damned if they did and damned if they didn’t. The action itself was technically sound, but needed to be much more of a brawl, it was all the blood and weaponry that made WM21’s Batista-Triple H main event a relative success. The build up to the manage focused a lot on the contrast in approach between HHH and Cena, with the former working out at fancy gyms and hiring people to put his wrist tape on for him and bragging about how easy the bout was going to be, while Cena played much more of a rugged, scrappy underdog. It seemed like that story would continue in the beginning and middle stages of the match, with Hunter using his more cerebral approach to best Cena scientifically, but once they hit the near falls (which were admittedly quite exciting) the difference between the two eroded. At Night of Champions 2008 these two had a superb match, where the crowd were fairer and the near falls were better and the story coming in was more conducive to what was happening in the ring. It’s a pity they couldn’t have managed the same thing on the Grandest Stage of Them All.

The final score: review Average
The 411
After three magnificent Wrestlemanias in a row, the 22nd edition proved to be a bit of a let down. It's still a good event, with really enjoyable matches up and down the card and a classic brawl in Edge-Mick Foley. The main problem with the card is that all the best matches- Edge/Foley, Michaels/McMahon and Money in the Bank- are wild brawls built around wild stunts; while all three are varying degrees of 'great' in their own right, when you compare them their similarities become more noticeable, and watched as a whole the PPV does feel sorely lacking in high quality wrestling of a more technical bent. The best traditional singles match on the show is Stratus-James, and even that is essentially a scrappy fight. Additionally, the two World Championship matches that headline the show don't deliver, the Smackdown one because it's too short and concludes a bad storyline, the Raw one because it's just not good enough for the main event match of the main event PPV on WWE's calendar. So, it's a show that is less than the sum of its parts- it definitely doesn't belong alongside the worst Wrestlemanias, I'd watch this show in a heartbeat over IV or XV or 2000. It's not quite on the level of the other mid noughties 'Manias though.

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WrestleMania 22, Jack Stevenson