wrestling / Columns

Kevin’s RetrospectiveMania Series: WrestleMania 22

December 2, 2019 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
WrestleMania 22 John Cena Triple H
WWE WrestleMania 22
April 2nd, 2006 | Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois | Attendance: 17,155

There was a ton to like about this WrestleMania coming into it. The main event pitting the new top star against one who had been there for a long time. There was a women’s match that actually felt like a big deal. Money in the Bank was back. The Royal Rumble winning underdog had a shot at the World Heavyweight Title. A lot was at stake in this, the third Mania to be held in Chicago.

• Match quality – Self-explanatory. Will always be the longest section.
• Memorability – How memorable is the show?
• Historical significance – The impact the show had on wrestling
• Booking decisions – Did the event have logical booking decisions for the stories they told
• Presentation – Things like stage setup, video packages, commentary, etc.
• Pacing/Flow – How well is the show laid out? Does it drag or move along smoothly?
• Entertainment – The non-wrestling elements like promos, celebrity interaction, concerts, etc.


Match Quality

World Tag Team Championship: Big Show and Kane [c] vs. Carlito and Chris Masters ` It’s easy to forget that Carlito and Chris Masters were once viewed as major prospects. Though both men were on the rise, they were kind of just fodder for the dominant tag champions. Big Show is massive here. He’d only get bigger by year’s end and desperately needed that time away before returning in 2008. To be fair, the challengers weren’t squashed. They worked a short heat and Kane even got trapped in the Master Lock. But it was quickly broken up and they never truly threatened the champions. A moment of miscommunication opened the door for Kane to hit a Chokeslam, ending the match in 6:41. It was basic but inoffensive. [**]

Money in the Bank: Bobby Lashley vs. Finlay vs. Matt Hardy vs. Ric Flair vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Shelton Benjamin ~ Can they live up to the high bar set last year? The guys went into the big spots right off the bat, highlighted by Shelton Benjamin’s ladder assisted tope con hilo. Then Ric Flair bested everyone by having the balls to take a superplex off a ladder at 57 years old. He was taken out of the match for it but made a heroic return shortly after. The rest of the match featured some cool spots but it was missing something. It kind of felt like there was no real flow and it was just guys trying to do big moves to top last year’s match and not accomplishing that goal. Even RVD’s Frog Splash off a ladder was only worth about **. He pulled down the briefcase to win after 12:21. As I said, it had some positives but didn’t come close to matching last year. In fact, this remains one of the lesser Money in the Bank matches in history. [***½]

WWE United States Championship: Chris Benoit [c] vs. John Bradshaw Layfield ~ Two guys who were in the top title matches on recent Manias. Now they’re in a forgettable midcard title match. The idea behind this contest was that Benoit wanted to make it a wrestling match while JBL wanted it to be a fight. JBL drew all sorts of heat here. From taunting to cheating to mocking the late Eddie Guerrero. Nothing was off limits. I liked Benoit blocking his attempt at Three Amigos only to hit the series on his own and get a huge pop. JBL rolled out of the Crippler Crossface into a pin and used the ropes for leverage to steal the title at the 9:44 mark. This was a clash of styles at times. However, what they did was fine and the crowd seemed into it. [**½]

Hardcore Match: Edge vs. Mick Foley ~ After they dropped the ball with Edge as WWE Champion to start the year, this match was supposed to remedy that. It worked. He went to war with Mick Foley in one of the most violent matches you’ll see anywhere. Early on, you got the sense that Edge bit off more than he could chew. Sure he brought a bat to the ring but once Foley brought out the barbed wire, Edge was in trouble. Edge got an opening when he hip tossed Foley into the steel steps. That seemed to spark something inside of him as he started getting more vicious than Foley. He used the barbed wire in sick ways. To retaliate, Foley had to dig deep and bring out his old Cactus Jack tricks. And then that finish. It’s one of my favorite in WrestleMania history. Lita set a table on fire and Edge Speared Foley off the apron and through it. The slow motion shot of Edge going face first into the flames is insane. The whole thing went 14:37 and it was outstanding. I loved the way the momentum kept swinging as each guy had to do just a little more. The Rated R Superstar had officially arrived and he never looked back. [****½]

Boogeyman vs. Booker T and Sharmell ~ Look, I don’t have all that much to say about this. It was bad. There was no need for Sharmell to be involved since she couldn’t really do anything. Boogeyman no sold most of Booker’s offense, spit worms onto Sharmell, and won with the Boogeyman Slam in 3:52. Total garbage and a waste of time. Shoutout to Booker for reinventing himself and winning a World Title later this year. [DUD]

WWE Women’s Championship: Trish Stratus [c] vs. Mickie James ~ The build for this was incredible. For the first time in WrestleMania history, a Women’s Title match felt like a big deal. I love this match more than others. It was just what the story called for. Mickie’s psychotic nature was unpredictable and it kept Trish off of her game. Mickie’s work on the leg was good, with the highlight being her counter of the headstand rana. To cap it, her facial expression after was perfect. She was nailing every character mannerism and moment, including the rubbing of Trish’s crotch to block Stratusfaction. The crowd was way behind Mickie, making for a an unexpected yet hot atmosphere. Trish was great here as well. She busted out powerbombs and some other offense that we didn’t often see from her. I loved the kick to the leg that caused Trish to land face first on Mickie’s knee. It was subtle but vicious. A Mick Kick later and we had a new champion at 8:34. I adore this match and it remained the best women’s match in Mania history for about a decade. [****]

Casket Match: Mark Henry vs. The Undertaker ~ Talk about a step down in quality. This was probably the final time that Undertaker’s streak didn’t feel like it was in jeopardy. Mark Henry was still about five years away from the only good run of his career. Even his theme here was lame. The idea seemed to be that Taker’s streak might be in trouble because he didn’t have to get pinned to lose here. There was a lot of slugging away and some plodding stuff from both guys. The high point was easily Undertaker’s trademark dive being over the casket as well. It was pretty damn impressive. Undertaker hit a Tombstone and rolled Henry into the coffin with no drama at the 9:26 mark. At least it didn’t go too long. Undertaker tried but Henry was still a ways off from his best years. [*½]

No Holds Barred Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon ~ Vince showed off his Muscle & Fitness magazine cover before the bell. Shawn, jealous of Vince’s guns, jumped him for it. Rude. Shawn broke the portrait over his head and it set the tone for how wacky this would be. The Spirit Squad got involved. Vince showed off his ass and Shane ended up being the one forced to kiss it. This was zany. It was when Shane got shoved into Vince’s ass that the match kind of turned. Shawn took control and got his revenge for months of torture at the hands of the McMahons. While some of this vengeance was satisfying, it did take a while and go a bit overboard. Bringing in a ladder, trash cans, and a table led to a good spot but getting there was extraneous The elbow off the ladder and through the table was enough. Shawn went over the edge, preventing Vince from getting medical attention and finishing him with Sweet Chin Music in 18:24. Overbooked at times but classic sports entertainment. [***]

World Heavyweight Championship: Kurt Angle [c] vs. Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio ~ Nothing against Randy Orton but I would’ve loved an Angle/Mysterio SummerSlam 2002 rematch here. But I was cool with Orton being here because he added a good amount to this. Having three people in meant they try fun things like the double German suplex spot. This was worked at a wicked pace with the action never stopping. They moved seamlessly in and out, with each guy playing to their strengths. Orton was cunning, Mysterio flew around the ring, and Angle just kicked ass like the wrestling machine he is. Orton’s RKO counter here was one of the more underrated in his career. It’s worth a look. Mysterio countered an Angle Slam before hitting the 619 and West Coast Pop on Orton to capture the title in 9:17. That was one hell of a sprint. I’m glad it was kept short because it made them do a lot with their time. However, I do think it lacked drama. Instead of Rey overcoming something to win as the ultimate underdog, he just had to get his timing right on a spot. It felt lackluster. A banger of a match though. [***¾]

Lingerie Pillow Fight: Candice Michelle vs. Torrie Wilson ~ They still had to get the Playboy cover girl on the show somehow. Torrie had what would eventually become Michelle McCool’s theme. This was basically two women rolling around and stripping each other down to their underwear. I give it a slight pass because I like looking at them and Torrie actually tried some moves like a suplex. She won with a rollup in 3:54. [¼*]

WWE Championship: John Cena [c] vs. Triple H ~ The crowd was mostly behind Triple H here despite being the heel. This was one of the earliest signs of how badly the fans turned on John Cena. It got off to a relatively slow start. Triple H matches tend to do that when he’s attempting one of his lengthy methodical matches. Thankfully, this wasn’t overly long and it picked up after the halfway point. Jim Ross kept harping on their different styles. How Cena was a fighter and Triple H was a master technician. I would never call HHH that but then again, JR is usually wrong about stuff. HHH survived the STFU but realized he was in trouble. So after a ref bump, he went after his trusty sledgehammer. Cena got hit with it but the referee took long to count so he survived. HHH kicked out of the FU only to tap to the STFU at 22:02. It was a good match boosted by a fantastic atmosphere. [***½]

This was an 11 match card and I gave rated five of them at ***½ or higher. That’s impressive. Edge/Foley was the best thing on the show. Trish/Mickie and Angle/Orton/Mysterio are dope, while HHH/Cena and Money in the Bank were very good. I also found HBK/Vince to be kind of fun. The rest of the card is mostly a drag but most of those matches don’t overstay their welcome.

SCORE: 8.0





I feel like anyone who thinks about this show is going to remember the insane spot to end Edge vs. Mick Foley. It’s one of the best finishes in WrestleMania history and is an iconic moment in both men’s careers. Rey Mysterio winning the World Heavyweight Title is also a huge moment, while the big Shawn Michaels/Vince McMahon table spot is something to be remembered. Throw in Mickie James’ title victory and that’s more than a few things worth recalling.

SCORE: 6.5



Historical Significance


The most historical thing to happen on this show was easily Rey Mysterio winning his first World Championship. It was something that a lot of people never thought would happen. The show also gets points for hosting the first of Mickie James’ Women’s Title wins, as well as being John Cena’s first WrestleMania main event. It could also get points for the rare Mania casket match and Mick Foley’s final Mania match. So a decent score here but nothing to write home about.

SCORE: 5.5



Booking Decisions


I feel like most of this show got the booking correct. That has been the case with most of the recent WrestleManias I’ve watched. Putting the title on Mickie, having RVD win Money, in the Bank, John Cena retaining, and the wins for HBK and Edge were all good calls. Rey Mysterio winning also was the right way to go but I do think it was handled oddly. As the ultimate underdog, I feel like the match should have seen him overcome more and that wasn’t the case. I also question booking the Lingerie Pillow Fight at all and including Sharmell in the Boogeyman/Booker match.

SCORE: 8.5





It’s our final WrestleMania to not be held in a massive dome or stadium. It’s insane how much cooler those shows usually look. This one didn’t look bad at all, it just seemed small-time compared to those. The video packages were well done but none stood out as being anything special or memorable. I did like some of the work on the special entrances, like gangster Cena and HHH’s Conan the Barbarian getup. Another year and another case of Lawler/Ross being rough but Cole/Tazz being okay.

SCORE: 5.5





This show was mostly laid out well. For a negative, it got off to a weak start. That Tag Title opener wasn’t the hot kickoff that you’re looking for. But the rest of the night is pretty well balanced. You get something good followed by something weak. And since none of the matches to get less than three stars clocked in at over 10 minutes, everything moved along quite nicely. That made for one of the easiest Manias to watch so far.

SCORE: 9.0





Michelle Williams was a good choice to sing early on. She has a great, booming voice fitting for “America the Beautiful.” POD did well with playing Rey Mysterio out to the ring. Most of the segments were where this edition struggled. Booker T walking around and finding freaks had its ups and downs. I got a kick out of some appearances but more than a few were lame. I also thought the McMahon family prayer stuff was really dumb. All in all, this was a rough patch for the show but at least there wasn’t a ton of it to make it truly bad.

SCORE: 5.0





Wow, I expected this to score better. As a whole, it’s an enjoyable show but it suffered in a handful of categories. The non-wrestling stuff and a lack of historical moments kept this from ranking higher. But there is plenty of good wrestling here and the show flows better than almost every other Mania so far. A recommended show for sure.

TOTAL: 48/70


WrestleMania Rankings
1. WrestleMania XIX – 62/70
2. WrestleMania X-Seven – 61/70
3. WrestleMania III – 55/70
4. WrestleMania 21 – 52.5/70
5. WrestleMania X – 52/70
6. WrestleMania VIII – 50.5/70
7. WrestleMania XX – 50/70
8. WrestleMania I – 50/70
9. WrestleMania XII – 48.5/70
10. WrestleMania 22 – 48.70
11. WrestleMania VII – 46/70
12. WrestleMania XIV – 46/70
13. WrestleMania VI – 44/70
14. WrestleMania X8 – 43.5/70
15. WrestleMania 2000 – 39.5/70
16. WrestleMania V – 39/70
17. WrestleMania 13 – 37/70
18. WrestleMania XV – 35/70
19. WrestleMania IV – 32/70
20. WrestleMania XI – 31.5/70
21. WrestleMania IX – 31.5/70
22. WrestleMania II – 29/70