As we continue our countdown to WrestleMania, we go back in time ten years and check in on the happenings at WrestleMania 22. Plenty of action, big spots and memorably moments on this one. So strap yourself in and get ready for WrestleMania 22…
One of the few WrestleManias that I’d never seen so what better to spend a day off than by watching it and reviewing it for you, our dear readers?
Destiny Child’s Michelle Williams is introduced by Howard Finkel and kicks off the show with a rendition of ‘America the Beautiful’.
We are treated to a video of the history of WrestleMania with many of the iconic moments and superstars from the event’s history shown. I love these types of clips.
A video hyping this year’s event is shown highlighting what lead up to Mark Henry vs The Undertaker’s casket match, the Vince McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels no-holds barred bout, the Rey Mysterio/Randy Orton/Kurt Angle three-way and John Cena vs Triple H for the WWE title.
Raw and Smackdown present this WrestleMania that has the strap line, and theme song: “Big Time”.
Jim Ross welcomes viewers to WrestleMania. He’s joined by Jerry ‘The King’ Lawler on commentary. We’re introduced to Smackdown commentators Michael Cole & Tazz who hype their show’s triple threat match for the world heavyweight title.
Match 1: World Tag Team Championship Match: The Big Show & Kane (c) vs. Carlito & “The Masterpiece” Chris Masters.
Masters gets an over the top entrance considering the lukewarm crowd reception he receives. Kane and Masters start. JR says this is the first tag titles match since WrestleMania 15 that has been a traditional tag match rather than a multi-team bout.
Carlito and Show are in and Show drops him crotch first on the top rope before press slamming both of the challengers in quick succession, dumping Carlito onto his partner on the outside. Kane then flies off the top rope to take both men out on the outside.
The challengers then gain the advantage when Carlito dropkicks Show’s knee and the pair hit a flapjack for a two. Show blocks a double souplex and Kane is in to clean house. Kane comes off the top rope again but straight into the ‘Master Lock’ which is broken up by the Big Show who drops Masters on the top rope. The challengers double team Kane. A miss-communication results in Masters hitting Carlito and Kane gets the pinfall after a chokeslam.
Yours winners, and still tag team champions, Kane and the Big Show.
Overall: 2/5. Bar a few bits of offence, this was pretty much a squash. Pretty much what you expected from this one, to be fair.
“The Coach” Jonathan Coachman is backstage and catches up with Shawn Michaels. HBK promises that tonight is going to be violent and brutal and not a five-star match.
Match 2: Inter-promotional Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Matt Hardy vs. WWE Intercontinental Champion Shelton Benjamin vs. Finlay vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Ric Flair.
Ah, when this was a match at WrestleMania rather than a stand-alone PPV. It’s a four-way on commentary as both Raw and Smackdown call this one. This is only Flair’s second ever ladder match.
All six brawl to start. Matt Hardy is first to go for ladder by RVD flies over the top with a crossbody to take him out. Quite the early spot. Benjamin hits a running senton over the top after running along a ladder to take out Hardy, RVD and Lashlay on the outside. In the ring, Finlay and Flair battle before Flair attempts to go to the top and then takes a superplex off the top. The referee quickly throws up the X indicating an injury to the sixteen-time former world champion.
Flair hobbles back and Finlay heads out to meet him. He’s drilled with several chops before tossed into the barriers. Flair sets up the ladder in the ring as the crowd pops. Hard is back in and pulls him off the ladder. Benjamin is in but eats several chops, including one that sends him out of the ring. Flair gets his hands on the briefcase but Finlay drops him with the shillelagh and tumbles off the ladder.
Lashlay hits his version of Farooq’s Dominator on Benjamin and climbs to the top. He takes forever to make his way up and RVD comes off the top rope with a Van Daminator to Lashlay’s back. He then hits a splash off the top of the ladder onto Finlay as the crowd chant “E-C-Dub”. RVD makes his way to the top and gets his hand on the ladder but Benjamin jumps onto the ladder off from the top rope and the pair battle on the top. Matt Hardy joins the fray and we have a triple-threat of sorts on the top. RVD pushes the other two off the ladder and to the outside allowing him to grab the briefcase.
Winner: Rob Van Dam.
Overall: 3/5. A spotfest for sure. These sort of matches are really tricky to write-up due to the amount of spots rammed into a relatively short period of time. Not the best MiTB ladder match but not the worst either.
Josh Matthews, complete with awful hair-cut, is backstage with the ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund, who was inducted the previous night into the WWE Hall of Fame. Randy Orton breaks up the interview and talks about how he is a future hall of famer and calls himself the legend killer. This segment is again interrupted but this time by Batista – who gets a good pop. He says whoever wins the title is only holding it until he gets back and says by WrestleMania 23 he’ll be world champion again.
The class of the 2006 WWE Hall of Fame are brought out except Bret Hart who said he was uncomfortable attending. Out comes: ‘Mean’ Gene Okerlund, Sensational Sherri, Tony Atlas, Verne Gagne, William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry, The Blackjacks, the posthumous inductee Eddie Guerrero,
Match 3: United States Champion Chris Benoit vs John “Bradshaw” Layfield (w/ Jillian Hall)
Drop told hold and an early ‘Crippler Crossface’ but JBL makes it to the ropes. Benoit runs into a big boot in the corner but JBL runs into an armdrag but uses his strength to avoid a Sharpshooter. On the outside, JBL hides behind Hall and with Benoit distracted, gains the advantage.
JBL misses a charge into the corner and Benoit hits the triple German suplex. He catches Benoit on the top rope and hits a superplex for a nearfall. To the jeers of the crowd, JBL attempts Guerrero’s trademark triple suplexes but Benoit breaks out of the third one but runs straight into a big boot for another nearfall before JBL applies a resthold.
Benoit breaks the hold with a back suplex and both men are down. The Rabid Wolverine then hits the Guererro suplexes and goes up top for the diving headbutt which connects but JBL somehow kicks out.
The champion ducks a clothesline from helland attempts to counter with a German suplex. Another clothesline from hell attempt is countered with a crippler crossface but Bradshaw rolls him over and using the ropes for leverage gets the win.
Winner, and new US Champion, John ‘Bradshaw’ Layfield.
Overall: 3/5. Solid match that only briefly had restholds. Nice sequence at the end after the diving headbutt with counters and reversals into the sneak pin win. Plenty of stiff shots, throughout.
We get a video showing what led to Mick Foley and Edge’s match with Foley making the count that saw John Cena defeat Edge to win the WWE title. Joey Styles has joined the Raw team to commentate on the upcoming bout.
Match 4: Edge (w/ Lita) vs. Mick Foley in a Hardcore Match.
Edge makes his way out carrying a baseball band an intense look in his eye. He swings the bat wildly to start but misses and Foley pounds away before hitting his bulldog. Then Edge is set up for the Tree of Woe. But as Foley poses, Edge lands a big boot and demands Lita arm him. We get a baking tray shot to the head that has Foley struggling to stand up before a bigger metal sheet shot to the head sends him down.
A road sign is smashed into the prone Edge before he sets up for a spear and connects but Foley is up first as Edge looks in pain. Foley reveals that under his black check shirt is his Cactus Jack attire and he’s wrapped in barbed wire and we see Edge’s upper arm is sliced open. Foley lashes him with the barbed wire as the referee watches on with a disgusted look on his face.
Foley grabs the baseball bat that’s wrapped in barbed wire – Barbie according to Joey Styles. Lita jumps on his back to stop him but Foley clotheslines Edge to the outside with Lita still on his back before several nearfalls on the outside. Eventually Edge is able to counter by hip tossing Foley back first against the ring steps before whipping him into the steps.
Back in the ring and Edge douses Foley in lighter fluid which causes the hardcore legend to fight back leading to a piledriver for a two count. Foley grabs a chair but is distracted by Lita and Edge hits a DDT for a two of his own. Edge grabs Barbie and connects with shots to the mid-section and the back before busting Foley wide open.
A bulldog onto Barbie almost produces the trademark “Oh My God” from Styles but we only get the first two-thirds of it. Edge tips over the steps to reveal a back and empties its contents to reveal thousands of thumbtacks. Foley counters the bulldog attempt, and back suplexes Edge onto the tacks before grabbing Mr Socko – which he wraps in barbed wire before thrusting it first into Edge’s mouth then into Lita’s.
Barbie is back in action and is driven into Edge’s forehead several times including a running dive from Foley with it in his hand that causes another “Oh my…” pronouncement from Styles. Foley grabs the lighter fluid and pours it all over the table but Lita smashes him in the groin with Barbie and sets the table on fire and Edge dives through the ropes and spears Foley through the table as Styles screams “Oh my God” and gets the win. A blood splattered, but nevertheless victorious, Edge poses at the top of the ramp as the crowd chants “Foley, Foley”.
Overall: 4/5. This was excellent. Brutal, violent and hard-hitting. This really made Edge the star he became before his career was tragically cut short.
We are then treated to a bizarre backstage segment as King Booker and Queen Sharmell attempt to avoid The Boogeyman. It features Snitsky liking Mae Young’s toes, Goldust and Ted Dibiase challenging Eugene to earn $100.
Match 5: King Booker & Queen Sharmell vs. The Boogeyman
I don’t have lofty expectations for this one… Booker and Sharmell both look terrified but he makes her start to the amusement of the commentators. But it’s a trap and Booker attacks from behind. Booker takes control but Sharmell distracts the referee and Booker hits a low blow and a superkick for a 2.
The Boogeyman fights but dodges a scissor kick attempt and pulls out a pocket full of worms and eats them. From behind Sharmell agoes to hit Boogeyman with the stack but is caght and he kisses her with a mouth full of worms – which is absolutely disgusting – Booker charges but misses and is caught with the BoogeyBomb for the win.
Winner: The Boogeyman
Overall: 1/5. Terrible. Poor Booker. This seemed like the longest 4 minutes of my life.
A clip airs showing what has led to Mickie James facing Trish Stratus – which is basically Mickie being psycho towards her.
Match 6: WWE Women’s Title Match Trish Stratus (c) vs. Mickie James
Unsurprisingly with how they storyline developed, this is a brawl to start with as the commentators discuss how nuts James is. Trish misses a kick on the outside and smashes her knee against the ring post leading Mickie to focus on the injured knee, including applying a half Boston crab.
This is all Mickie James as Trish plays the Ricky Morton role in a one on one match… Trish gets a nearfall with a roll-up before countering a hurricanrana with a running powerbomb. Here is the comeback…
Trish goes for Startusfaction but Mickie grabs her groin… Mickie connects with a kick to the head for a 3 and we have a new champion.
Winner, and new champion, Mickie James.
Overall: 2/5. Mickie did the psycho stuff rather well but it was all just a bit odd and a waste of two genuinely talented performers.
Vince, Shane, Stephanie and Linda McMahon are backstage with the rest of the family admiring his “24 inch pythons.” They then have a “McMahon family prayer.” This segment was hilarious
Match 7: Casket Match: The Undertaker vs. Mark Henry
Druids bring the casket to the ringside before we see Mark Henry costing The Undertaker the chance to win the World Heavyweight Title from Brock Lesnar on Smackdown! then splashing him through the announce table.
Mark Henry interrupts Takers’ lengthy entrance and attacks. Taker fights back with two running clotheslines but is caught on his third attempt as Henry takes charge again. They battle to the outside and Henry drives his opponent’s head into the ring steps.
Taker attempts the heat seeking missile but is caught and Henry beats on his opponent. He calls for the casket to be opened by the referees but The Undertaker keeps hold of the ropes. Henry charges into the corner but runs straight into a big boot. Now he’s going for heat seeking missile, or as the commentators call it ‘old school’, but Henry stays on his feet.
Henry calls for the casket to be opened again and charges at the Taker but slides into the casket. The pair then fight inside the casket as the officials look on. They fight back into the ring and Taker charges at Henry but he catches him and drops him with a slam and goes for a pin, forgetting there is no pinfalls in this match. He once again calls for the casket to be opened and kicks Taker into it but Taker gets to his feet quickly and fights his way back into the ring.
Mark Henry pounds on the Undertaker on the second rope but Taker counters with a powerbomb and is back in control. He tosses Henry onto the top of the casket and to the outside. He follows himself with a suicide dive or “air deadman” as Tazz calls it. Back in and Taker hits a Tombstone and calls for the casket to be opened and rolls Henry into it.
Winner: The Undertaker
Overall: 2/5. It’s much quicker to count the Undertaker WrestleMania matches that I actually like… Not too many opponents before Henry got in this much offence but even back in 2006 no one expected him to end the streak. Still, he hit all his spots so the crowd was happy.
Match 8: No-holds barred match: Vince McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels
Vince poses on the floor next to a portrait of his Muscle and Fitness magazine cover. Shawn doesn’t wait for a bell, attacks McMahon on the floor, and sends him onto the RAW announce table.
The Spirit Squad hit the ring and they destroy Shawn with their 5 man cheerleader toss. Kenny misses the jackknife top rope leg drop, and that gives Shawn an opening. He blasts every member of the stable with a megaphone, and sends Kenny flying over the top rope onto every other member. They have done their job, though, as Vince hits a clothesline.
Vince chokes Shawn with the belt, but Michaels is able to battle back to his feet. He immediately gets grounded again as McMahon uses the belt to assist with a clothesline.
Shawn lays into Vince with some vicious belt shots. The flying elbow follows and now Shawn readies for the Sweet Chin Music. However he’s cut off by Shane McMahon who comes out of nowhere with a kendo stick. Vince wants to induct Shawn back into the Kiss my Ass Club but it is foiled with Shane being forced to kiss his dad’s ass instead.
Shawn grabs a chair from under the ring and hits Vince with one of the sickest chairshots I think I’ve ever seen… He tunes up the band again but instead grabs a ladder and smashes it into Vince’s head. He heads back to the floor and grabs a table and some garbage cans. He sets the table up in the middle of the ring and lays Vince on it. Shawn climbs the ladder, but he still isn’t satisfied. Again on the outside, he grabs a 16 foot ladder, places a garbage can over Vince’s head and puts him back on the table. He connects with an elbow, pulls Vince to his feet and hits Sweet Chin Music for the win.
Winner: Shawn Michaels
Overall: 4/5. A great match bettered only by JR’s excellent commentary. Vince has limitations in the ring but does everything in his power to hide though. Give him a street fight or no-holds barred match and you can be guaranteed that Vince will play his part and he did so here.
Match 9 World Title: Kurt Angle (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio
Batista had been champion from WrestleMania 21 until January when he picked up an injury. With him on the shelf, they held a battle royal to crown a new champion. The surprise entrant was RAW’s Kurt Angle. Kurt won rather easily and fended off challenges from Mark Henry and The Undertaker. Rey won the Rumble in honour of Eddie Guerrero. But he lost his number 1 status in a match with Orton but Teddy Long added Rey back into the mix and thus we have a Triple Threat Match.
Got that? Good. Let’s go.
Orton grabs the belt and takes out Angle before the bell even rings to take him out. He toys with Mysterio before Kurt returns. Kurt delivers a German suplex to both men and it’s clear that the crowd here are firmly behind Angle. Orton then gets set on the top rope and Rey sends Kurt headfirst into his crotch. Rey charges, and Kurt flips him up and Rey takes Orton off the top rope with a hurricanrana in a brilliant spot. With Orton on the outside, Kurt and Rey go to it and Rey gets a nearfall after a kick to the head.
Rey tries the 619 on Angle but he counters with an ankle lock and Rey taps out. But does he? Orton had the referee distracted so he misses the decision.
An angry Angle then destroys both men with a series of suplexes before sending Rey to the outside with an Angle Slam. It’s Orton’s turn to tap out to the Ankle Lock but this time Rey has the referee distracted. Mysterio drops the dime from the top rope onto Angle, who still had the Ankle Lock applied, for another nearfall.
Angle sends Rey shoulder first into the post. Kurt then pulls down the straps to show he means businesses but Orton connects with an RKO for a nearfall. Orton then goes up top but angle hits a suplex.
Rey attempts, but messes up, a 6-1-9 on the apron with the ring post to Kurt but still manages a nearfall with a senton. Orton sets for the RKO, but Kurt returns to deliver an Angle Slam for two. Now Kurt sets for an Angle Slam to Rey, but he counters to an arm drag that sends Kurt to the floor. Rey hits a quick 6-1-9 on Orton and gets the West Coast Pop for the win and World Title.
Winner, and New World Champion: Rey Mysterio
Overall: 4/5. This was a really good match that deserved far more than the 9 minutes it was allocated.
Match 10: Playboy Pillow Fight: Candice Michelle vs. Torrie Wilson (w/ Chloe)
Both ladies are wrestling while wearing evening gowns with a bed and pillows in the ring. At one point Torrie uses her dog, Chloe, to give Candice the stinkface. By the end of this one both are in their bra and panties before Torrie rolls up Candice for the win at the four minute mark.
Winner: Torrie Wilson.
Overall: 0/5. Hopeless.
Match 11: WWE Title Match: John Cena (c) vs. Triple H.
The story here is that HHH thinks of Cena as nothing but a joke and thinks this will be the easiest match of his career. So we can sorta predict how this will go…
The challenger gets an awesome Conan The Barbarian entrance while Cena comes out in a Al Capone style gangster drive to the ring. The driver of the car is in fact CM Punk…
This starts very slow with it all being Triple H. The crowd laps this up including a “Fuck you Cena” chant. Some fans rally with a “Let’s go Cena” chant but we get the previously mentioned foul mouthed retort…
This eventually is sent to the outside with both men brawling on the ramp. Trips goes for the Pedigree but is backdropped instead. They take it back inside where Cena gets a one-fall. Triple H then starts punching and chocking Cena.
Once again they head back to the floor and Cena gets tossed shoulder first into the steps. Helmsley controls proceedings in the ring with his usual offence, culminating in a two from a knee drop. A nasty looking clothesline gets him another nearfall as does a neckbreaker.
As every good babyface does, Cena powers himself back to his feet. He pushes the challenger into the corner where he uses some shoulder blocks to break. Cena keeps mounting offence but is eventually caught with a spinebuster for a two count.
Cena hits a few shoulder blocks, but runs right back into the sleeper. It doesn’t last long though as Cena breaks with a belly to back suplex and 5 knuckle shuffle.
Triple H gives a DX crotch chop and then gets the sledgehammer. Cena gets caught with it, but the ref is slow to make the count as Cena gets out at two. Hunter again goes for the pin but Cena is out on two. A pedigree attempt is countered with the FU but Trips gets out at two.
Cena goes up top but misses a crossbody. Triple H attempts a Pedigree but it’s countered with the STFU and Triple H taps out. Post-match the camera pans the crowd and picks up some pretty stunned reactions.
Winner and Still WWE Champion: John Cena via tap-out at 22:01
Overall: 4/5: Lots of good stuff in this match and plenty of drama. Crowd reaction is entertaining throughout and Triple H clearly enjoys his babyface reaction. Not as good as the other title match – despite having twice as long – but a lot more drama here.
Overall: 8/10. This is a solid show with two fantastic world title matches. The two stand-out matches for me, though, are the Edge and Foley brawl and the Michaels vs Vince bout. All in all, plenty of action, hard-hitting spots aplenty and a lot of fun to take in. recommended viewing.
You can find all our WrestleMania coverage here.