WrestleMania 22: Birth of the Underdog champion!
Hello everyone, and welcome once again to the next edition of WrestleMania Rewind. As you might know by now, we’ve been looking back at all the previous WrestleManias and I’ve been giving my analysis and reviews after sitting through the 4 hour shows almost every day. Last time, we saw the birth of two of the most popular superstars in the WWE, John Cena and Batista, who won their respective brand’s titles, and went on to become the face of their respective brands. Each guy had held the title for a long time, and while Batista had to vacate the title due to an injury, Cena was in the middle of a great run as the WWE champion and the face of the organization.
WrestleMania 22 came to us from the Allstate Arena in Rosemont, Illinois. The main feud going into the match involved the WWE Champion John Cena against ‘The Game’, Triple H. The main feud from Smackdown! involved a three way match between Kurt Angle, Rey Mysterio, who won the Royal Rumble in 2006, and Randy Orton, who had disrespected the memory of Eddie Guerrero, thus finding his way into the match. The other feuds involved Shawn Michaels facing Vince McMahon and Edge taking on Mick Foley. Without further ado, let us join the action.
Michelle Williams from ‘Destiny’s Child’ fame opens the show by singing ‘America The Beautiful’. Nice way to open the event.
Big Show and Kane defeated Carlito and Chris Masters for the world tag team championship.
WrestleMania debuts for Carlito and Masters. Carlito had one of the best debuts in the business, as he won the US Championship from Cena. Anyway, this was a basic tag team match that went up to the 7 minute mark and saw Kane hitting a drop kick on Masters. Yes, you read that right, the big man was impressive there. The crowd wasn’t that hot for the match, and the end came when Kane delivered a choke slam to Carlito for the pin and to retain the tag team championships. A basic match to kick things off.
Rob Van Dam defeated Shelton Benjamin, Ric Flair, Finlay, Matt Hardy and Bobby Lashley in the MITB Ladder match.
After the reception of the first MITB match last year, which was amazing, WWE went on with the concept the next year as well, although putting Flair, Finlay and Lashley in an MITB match doesn’t make any sense. Flair was taken out of the match early with an injury angle, which makes me wonder why they put him in the match to begin with. Anyway, the match had some great spots like the triple power bomb on Lashley, and Benjamin and RVD showing off their athleticism. I miss Van Dam, I forgot how good he really was. Anyway, the match ended when RVD climbed the ladder and Benjamin did one of his athletic leaps to catapult himself on par with RVD – amazing skills there – and Hardy joins them. RVD drops both of them and brings down the brief case. A good match, but not as good as the last year’s bout. He would later cash it in against Cena at ECW: ONS and win the WWE title. That match was simply amazing because of the crowd. You have to see it to believe it.
They show the HoF inductees. Bret wasn’t there; he wouldn’t show up in the WWE ring till ’10. A huge pop for Eddie as his wife comes out. Great show of respect with the ‘Eddie’ chants.
John “Bradshaw” Layfield (With Jillian Hall) defeated Chris Benoit for the US title.
JBL said he’d defeat Benoit like he defeated his fallen friend, Eddie, for the WWE title. A way to get more heat for JBL. The match got 11 minutes and was a decent encounter. The crowd was firmly behind the crippler, with the “Let’s go Benoit” chants. Benoit even gave JBL the “Three Amigos” as a tribute to Eddie. That was great to see. The match came to an end when Benoit locked in the crossface, but JBL rolled him up by holding the ropes for the pin and the win. A good match, considering it was JBL. The crowd was hot for this match and they loved it.
Edge (With Lita) defeated Mick Foley in a Hardcore match
Time for the Hardcore legend to take on the Ultimate Opportunist. This was the time when Edge and Lita’s real life affair came out, and Edge took on Mick in a Hardcore match. This has to be one of the best worked matches that year, as all the three people involved in the feud played to their strengths. Foley, being a Hardcore legend, knew just how to work a Hardcore match with two people who weren’t so much familiar with the conditions. They took some crazy bumps and spots, but none better than the end when Edge speared Foley through a burning table. Holy s*** moment right there. They kept up the intensity throughout the match, and the crowd loved it!
The Boogeyman defeated Booker T and Sharmell
A match that was used as a filler on the card and went on for 4 minutes which seemed like an eternity. It’s a shame Booker was booked in such a horrendous match. After a while, Booker got a pretty decent run as the World Heavyweight champion though. That was neat. Of course, he’s also going into the Hall of Fame this year. Well deserved.
Mickie James defeated Trish Stratus for the WWE Women’s championship
At this point, we still had the ‘Women’s’ title in the WWE as well as girls who could actually perform. Two of the best female performers in the business collided as Mickie, who was introduced as Trish’s creepy stalker/fan, went into the event facing her mentor/crush. The crowd absolutely loved Mickie, and was booing Trish, which surprised J.R and Vince alike. The match went on for 9 minutes, and the crowd was firmly behind Mickie! The end came when Mickie gave Trish a Chick Kick (or Mick Kick) for the pin and to win the Women’s title, and the crowd popped big for that! It was an okay match, considering the botches, but a match that put Mickie over and kick started her career.
The Undertaker defeated Mark Henry in a Casket match
Another big guy against the Undertaker formula that failed miserably on so many occasions. Undertaker had 2 of the best wrestling matches against Kurt Angle (The first was one of the best matches in pro wrestling at NWO ’06) and Mark Henry cost Taker the WHC during the second match on Smackdown!, and that set up their match at WrestleMania. Not one of Taker’s best matches, but it was okay as Taker tried hard to work a good match with Henry. The end came when Taker lifted Henry for the Tombstone, as the crowd roared, and then rolled Henry inside the casket at the 9 minute mark.
Shawn Michaels defeated Vince McMahon in a No Holds Barred match
This match was a decade in the making, after the Montreal Screwjob way back in ‘97. Shawn objectified Vince, and that made him angry. Vince gets into a feud with HBK, along with Shane and the Spirit Squad. Coming to the match, Shawn starts off by chopping Vince. Loud ‘We Want Bret’ chants. Spirit Squad gets involved but Shawn gets rid of them. Shane then gets involved, but Shawn takes care of him too. A nearly 20 minute match which was just to put over a storyline. The end came when Shawn set Vince on a table with a trash can over his head, climbs a ladder and comes down with a huge elbow for the pin and the win. The crowd was into the whole match, as it served the entertainment purpose. Post match, Vince is stretchered out while he shows the middle finger. That was funny.
Rey Mysterio defeated Randy Orton and Kurt Angle in a Triple threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship
They involved Orton in the feud as they wanted a bad guy in the mix, as Rey and Kurt were faces. Also, they knew Rey going over Kurt would be hard for the fans to buy, so they put one of the most hated heels in the company in the match. It was a 10 minute match, which took away any special feeling/meaning of the bout. A good match that got very less time, and the end came when Rey gave a 619 to Orton and finished him with the West Coast Pop for the pin and to win the World Heavyweight title. The crowd showed Rey their appreciation as Rey celebrated. A feel good moment here at WrestleMania. Post match, Rey met his family and was greeted by Eddie’s wife and Chavo at the top of the ramp. Great scenes here, as Rey gets emotional. Good for him.
Torrie Wilson defeated Candice Michelle in a Playboy Pillow Fight
The WHC match is followed by a Playboy pillow fight between Torrie and Candice. Everyone complained about it, but not me. A 4 minute match that was poorly booked, but still prepped people up for the main event. The ‘match’ ended when Torrie rolled up Candice for the win.
John Cena defeated Triple H for the WWE Championship
The main event saw Cena going up against Triple H. This was the time when the announcers were putting Cena over as a ‘Controversial champion’, which meant that the crowd saw through him and that he was boring. Loud ‘You can’t wrestle’ and ‘Cena sucks’ chants by the Chicago crowd. Are you surprised? Fun fact time: During Cena’s entrance, a certain someone was one of the ‘gangsters’ who accompanied Cena. This guy was Chicago’s own Phil Brooks, whom you might know as CM Punk. This was the first point in WWE when the fans were going against Cena. They cheered for Triple H as the two slugged it out. The match went for over 20 minutes, and the end saw Triple H tapping out to the STFU and Cena retained the WWE title. A good match which picked up the pace towards the ending. The crowd booed Cena, and the event closed as Cena celebrated and Triple H walked towards the back with his sledge hammer.
Analysis: *** ½ (Out of 5 stars)
A good PPV, but not as good as WrestleManias 17, 19 and 20. You could argue that WM 21 was better than WM 22. Cena’s dominance as the face of WWE was solidified with his win, and he still remains the face of the company today. The Chicago crowd was awesome as always, and made the event memorable. The anti – Cena movement started with WM 22. Rey had a mediocre run as the World Heavyweight champ after this. Anyway, that concludes this edition of WrestleMania Rewind. Join us again as we move ahead towards WrestleMania 29, which is merely days away from now.
Read the rest of the WrestleMania rewind series here