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Random Network Reviews: WrestleMania 22

March 25, 2017 | Posted by Kevin Pantoja
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Random Network Reviews: WrestleMania 22  

WWE WrestleMania 22
April 2nd, 2006 | Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois | Attendance: 17,159

It’s the final WrestleMania before they officially moved to stadiums. This show had the tagline of “Big Time” and, despite not being in stadium, it had a pretty big feel. The main event saw a staple of the main event scene as the new top star, a huge women’s match was set, Mr. WrestleMania was taking on the boss, Money in the Bank returned and a lot more. It was obviously the 22nd WrestleMania and third held in the Chicago area.

Michelle Williams, formerly of Destiny’s Child, sung “America the Beautiful.” The WrestleMania video packages are always top notch and this is no different. Lots of memories were run through.

World Tag Team Championship: Big Show and Kane (c) def. Carlito and Chris Masters in 6:41
The booking is all wrong here. Masters and Carlito were doing well and had survived until the end of an Elimination Chamber for the WWE Title a few months prior. Instead of being in Money in the Bank, they’re here. Big Show looks rough here, getting near his ECW size. Meanwhile, Kane starts by doing a leap frog and a dropkick. Feels like he’s showing his partner up. This follows the formula you’d expect. Kane and Show are dominant, the challengers have some funny spots but mostly get their asses kicked. They actually get in a double flapjack on Show after he hit the exposed buckle but Show still kicks out. There is actually a big pop for the Masterlock getting put on Kane. Nobody breaks it themselves so Show helps Kane. Props to Kane who also took a Backstabber. Miscommunication causes Masters to hit Carlito and Kane beats him with a Chokeslam. Standard tag match. Show didn’t seem to want to put in effort but Kane, Masters and Carlito held up their ends. It was kept short too, which helped. **

I would have had Carlito and Masters either in MITB or have them win here to establish a new team. Instead, Kane and Show went on to drop the titles to the Spirit Squad. The losers argue in the ring before leaving.

Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Rob Van Dam def. Bobby Lashley, Finlay, Matt Hardy, Ric Flair and WWE Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjamin in 12:21
Matt Hardy, RVD and Ric Flair get big pops but once the bell rings, there are clear “RVD” chants. Shelton steals the show early by running up a ladder for a tope con hilo onto everyone outside. Then Flair decides to one up everyone by taking a goddamn superplex off of the ladder at his age. 2006 Flair was nuts (the TLC with Edge, I Quit with Foley, ECW Title match with Show and this). He gets taken to the back. The spots keep coming and it takes several men to powerbomb Lashley off the ladder. Flair, continuing to show that he lost his damn mind, returns and starts to climb the ladder but Finlay and the shillelagh stop him. In the end, RVD hit a frog splash off the ladder (about **) onto Finlay. Several guys come close to winning but they fall and RVD is left alone to retrieve the briefcase. This was good but nowhere near the level of some other Money in the Bank matches. Extra props to Flair for all he did. ***½

Batista shows his face, interrupting a Randy Orton promo, who had just interrupted Gene Okerlund. Orton says he’s a future Hall of Famer and Batista says that even if Orton wins the World Title tonight, it’ll just be kept warm for him when he’s back from injury.

The Hall of Fame inductees this year, except for Bret Hart who was uncomfortable participating, all come out. Gene Okerlund (escorted by Kristal), Sensational Sherri (with Ted Dibiase), Tony Atlas (with Victoria), Verne Gagne (with Kristal), William Perry (with Melina), the Blackjacks (with the lovely Maria) and lastly, Vickie accepts for the late Eddie Guerrero, escorted by Chavo.

WWE United States Championship: John Bradshaw Layfield w/ Jillian Hall def. Chris Benoit (c) in 9:44
Two years ago, Benoit won the World Title at Mania and a year ago, JBL entered Mania with the WWE Title. JBL gets a fancy little entrance as the ramp rises for his limo. They seem to be focusing on Benoit trying to take this to the mat while JBL wants to make it a slugfest. JBL seems to be in way worse shape than he was in a year prior. He does everything to draw heat, including cheating and mocking Eddie Guerrero. He even tries for the Three Amigos, but Benoit blocks it. Benoit actually hits them to a pop. The fans go nuts for the Crippler Crossface but JBL rolls over into a pin with the ropes for leverage to steal the title. Ho-hum match. They didn’t really build to anything and most of it felt like filler. **

Hardcore Match: Edge w/ Lita def. Mick Foley in 14:37
Since the WWE dropped the ball with Edge as WWE Champion, this match was booked to give Edge a big match at WrestleMania. Edge brings a bat to the ring but Foley disarms him quickly and they duke it out. Edge hits an early spear but drops instantly and seems very hurt. Foley gets up and reveals barbed wire around his waist. Edge’s shoulder is cut in nasty fashion because of it. Foley then whips him with the wire and grates it on the arm cut. Lita hops on Foley’s back but takes a bad fall over the top when Mick clotheslines Edge over and out. Foley starts taking big bumps like a hip toss into the steps and a sick hair whip onto the ramp. A barbed wire bat helps bust Foley open but he refuses to lose. Desperate, Edge gets a bag and empties thousands of thumbtacks on the mat. However, Edge infamously takes the tack bump and the visual of him shaking while covered in tacks will never not get to me. Foley goes hardcore with a barbed wire wrapped Socko on both Edge and Lita. Edge gets busted open by “Barbie” now. While standing on the apron, Foley douses a table outside in gas. Lita hits him with “Barbie” and lights the table on fire. Edge charges and spears Foley through the ropes and through the table in one of the best looking Mania moments of all time. Edge is twitching and can barely make it over to pin Mick but gets the win. Absolutely barbaric in the way it needed to be. It helped Edge truly shed any prior notions about him and cemented him as a top star who would go on to win ten more World Titles. Major props to Foley for going the extra mile to put the right guy over and tons of props to Edge for taking these risks. Going face first into fire is one ballsy move that paid off. ****¼

There’s a spot backstage where Sharmell thinks Booker is a freak magnet since the Boogeyman is after them. Of course, he walks into several freaks, including pirate Paul Burchill, Eugene (with Ted Dibiase), Snitsky licking Mae Young’s feet and Goldust in drag.

The Boogeyman def. Booker T and Sharmell in 3:52
Why even make this a handicap match? It’s not Sharmell can do anything. Booker clubs away on Boogeyman early on and it has little to no effect. He kicks out of a Bookend and then beats up Booker. Boogey kisses Sharmell with a mouthful of worms, causing her to run away. A Chokeslam variation wins it. This was garbage and didn’t belong on a WrestleMania. It’s a testament to how good Booker is that he’d reinvent himself shortly after this and get another World Title run. DUD

WWE Women’s Championship: Mickie James def. Trish Stratus (c) in 8:48
I absolutely love this angle. It was the psycho stalker story done to perfection. It wasn’t just lesbianism for the sake of it, it actually fit the story here. Trish enters as champion of over a year, while Mickie is the heel but is way popular tonight. Trish starts hot but misses a big kick outside and catches the ring post, making the leg a target. She works a half Boston crab on it and the crowd loves all of it. Mickie just basks in the pops and nails every mannerism. Trish’s rally is met with boos. Mickie’s counter of Trish’s corner handstand rana sees her drop Trish’s leg awkwardly on the top rope and it’s great. Her facial expression and sexy rollup just add to all of it. They do an awkward Matrix like spot. Mickie blocks the Stratusfaction by groping Trish’s crotch and licking her fingers, which gets edited out of the Network version. Mickie kicks Trish in the knee, causing her to buckle and land face first on Mickie’s knee. A Mick Kick ends it and we have a new champion. Easily the best women’s match in Mania history to this point and it stayed that way for another ten years. The leg work was fine but Mickie took this to the next level with her by nailing all of her character work. They played into their existing story and it made for great TV. The atmosphere helps make this one of my favorite women’s matches ever. ***½

Casket Match: The Undertaker def. Mark Henry in 9:26
Instead of the possible Angle/Undertaker match that was teased at the Royal Rumble, we get this. Sure they did Angle/Taker a month earlier but that screamed Mania while this feels like something I’d see on Smackdown. They slug it out in and out of the ring for the first few minutes. They fight in the casket where Taker grabs Henry by the throat to stop his momentum. Henry has ten corner punches countered into a Last Ride, which I hated. Henry doesn’t usually do that move so you could tell he did it just for this specific spot. Taker gets the highlight with his trademark dive outside, but managing to do it over the casket too. A tombstone later and Henry goes into the casket with no drama. Lots of plodding around until the final few spots. It wasn’t until next year that Taker stuff started getting really good at Mania. *

No Holds Barred: Shawn Michaels def. Vince McMahon in 18:24
Vince is 60 years old but is in fantastic shape here. He reveals a portrait of himself on the cover of Muscle and Fitness at ringside. Shawn interrupts this posing and things start. He breaks the portrait over Vince’s head and mocks the cover pose. The Spirit Squad run out but Shawn overcomes and sends them packing. Vince takes over and mocks Sweet Chin Music. Shawn blocks it and just as he nears a win, Shane shows up to hit him with a kendo stick. They try to make Shawn join the “kiss my ass” club but Shawn sends Shane into Vince’s rear. He cuffs Shane to the ropes and, instead of trying to win, goes out to hurt Vince and brings in a ladder, trash cans and table. Shawn lays Vince on the table and climbs the ladder but stops. He only does so to get a bigger ladder and set Vince in a trash can on the table. Shawn nails the massive elbow from near the top, putting Vince through the table. He finally connects on Sweet Chin Music to win. About as good as Shawn was going to get with Vince. Overbooked at the right times and told the story of Vince driving Shawn over the edge. ***

As Vince is stretchered out, he flips Shawn off because this feud has to continue.

World Heavyweight Championship: Rey Mysterio def. Kurt Angle (c) and Randy Orton in 9:17
Rey won the Royal Rumble but lost his shot to Orton at No Way Out only for Teddy Long to add him back in. The build to this also had Orton’s infamously horrible “Eddie’s in hell” line. It honestly felt like Orton vs. Mysterio, with Angle just involved because he held the title. POD plays Rey to the ring. Orton sneak attacks Angle before the bell and Cole says it wasn’t a DQ because it came beforehand, even though triple threat matches are no DQ. Angle is nuts and German suplexes both men at once. They move at a ridiculously fast pace cramming in a lot of big spots. Angle launches Rey to the top for a super rana on Orton and then sends Rey to the outside hard. Shortly after, he catches the 619 into the ankle lock. Rey taps but Orton distracts the referee to save the match. Rey returns the favor when Orton taps to Kurt. The crowd is booing Rey now since Angle has easily been the most impressive guy. The RKO connects but Orton’s leg is too hurt to cover instantly. Rey slips on a ring post 619 spot but does his best to make up for it. In the end, Rey counters an Angle Slam and sends Angle packing. The 619 and West Coast Pop on Orton earn him the gold. This was shorter than I expected, but they made sure to do a lot with the time. I feel like the match on its own was really good, but it was a lackluster payoff to Rey’s chase. He didn’t need to overcome anything here, just get his riming right in a spotfest. ***½

Playboy Pillow Fight: Torrie Wilson def. Candice Michelle in 3:54
This was during WWE’s period of making sure their annual Playboy cover girl got a spot on the WrestleMania card. Candice was this year’s lady. Torrie was on the cover a few years earlier. She has Michelle McCool’s theme here. They end up in their bra and panties and Torrie wins. I wasn’t going to rate it, but they did actual moves a few times. It went too long. DUD

WWE Championship: John Cena (c) def. Triple H in 22:02
Triple H gets his big Conan entrance and what might have been the debut of the “King of Kings” theme. John Cena has a 1920’s gangster themed entrance, complete with faux tommy guns, old school car and future WWE Champion CM Punk as one of the extras. I think I also see Dean Ambrose. It’s way cheesy. They hammer home the “unique” crowd response, since they are very pro-HHH. The story is that HHH is the superior wrestler due to his experience and HHH plays that up early, taunting Cena after easily outwrestling him. In a rare moment, Cena looks bothered by the crowd as they chant “fuck you Cena”. They trade stuff in the ring with the crowd never wavering in their support. JR makes as many football references as he can squeeze in. Each time Cena looks like he might start something, HHH has an answer. Seriously, JR’s need to shoehorn football into everything is irritating. HHH cuts off the FIVE MOVES OF DOOM for a second but ends up taking them away. Cena puts on the STFU but HHH reaches the ropes. We get a ref bump and HHH uses his sledgehammer but Cena kicks out. HHH becomes one of the first (of many) to kick out of the FU/AA. A desperate Cena seemingly makes a mistake by going to the air and nearly ends up getting hit with the Pedigree. Cena counters into the STFU and makes HHH tap out. They told the story they wanted to and it was one of the better matches of Cena’s first two years as champion. The atmosphere helped things along and it did the job of cementing Cena as the man. ***¾

The final score: review Good
The 411
I feel like this was a good WrestleMania. Most of the show features really good matches but there is a lot of up and down. For the good like the WWE Title, World Heavyweight Title, Women’s Title and Money in the Bank matches, you get the pillow fight, Boogeyman trash and casket match. Vince and Shawn had a pretty good street fight and Edge/Foley was the one classic on the show. Despite being over three hours, this was mostly easy to get through.