Friday, March 22, 2024

The History of WWE WrestleMania: 22

We've fully entered the John Cena Era, as WrestleMania returns to Chicago....

Rosemont Horizon - 4/2/06

'Mania 22 reminds me a little of the old-school WrestleManias, where there was a whole host of different kinds of matches and a little something for everyone.  It ended up being a much more fun show that I expected, particularly since I was less than thrilled about most of the matches going in.
WWE was fully in "I'll do what I want and you'll like it" mode in 2006, making booking decisions that were absurdly perplexing to many of the fans.  John Cena was not getting over in the expected fashion, as about half the crowd started booing him on a regular basis.  His match here against Triple H was possibly the most infamous example of this, as easily half the Chicago crowd were rabidly cheering for Hunter to destroy WWE's new posterboy.  The match itself was very solid, partly thanks to the fans in the arena, and Hunter repeated his 'Mania 20-ending tapout in the center of the ring to help elevate Cena.

This looks awfully familiar....

The Smackdown brand's champion Kurt Angle defended his Title in a Triple Threat against Randy Orton and 2006 Rumble winner Rey Mysterio, in a match that fell horribly short of expectations due to the time constraints.  I'll never understand why this match only got 9 minutes when it was supposed to elevate Mysterio to the main event.  It was an excellent free TV match but just an okay 'Mania bout, and Mysterio would go on to have one of the worst Title reigns of all time as the company seemingly went out of its way to bury him in every non-title match.

Conversely one match that got a stupidly excessive amount of time was Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon, in a glorified 18-minute squash.  This match was completely one-sided for almost the entire duration and most of the action was run-of-the-mill garbage stuff until Shawn hit an elbow drop off a 12-foot ladder, smashing Vince through a table.  Eighteen minutes for one memorable spot.  Simply stunning.
By far the most noteworthy match of the night was Edge vs. Mick Foley in a Hardcore Rules match.  This was a brilliantly executed bloodfest and easily Foley's best WrestleMania match.  Edge's match-winning spear through the ropes and through a flaming table is one of the most violent 'Mania images in history.  I wasn't super excited about this match going in but these two easily stole the show, and it was nice to see Mick finally get a worthy WrestleMania bout.

Sweet mother of crap.....

The rest of the show ran the gamut.  There was the very strong:  Money in the Bank 2 was a near-equal to its predecessor despite not having as talented a field; Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James was incredibly heated and boasted fantastic character work from wacko heel Mickie, and they delivered one of the best Women's matches up to that point.  There was the pretty good: Undertaker and Mark Henry exceeded expectations with a fun Casket Match, and JBL captured the US Title from Chris Benoit in a rugged little match.  And there was the utterly useless in Booker T vs. The Boogeyman and the obligatory Torrie Wilson-Candice Michelle eye candy match.  But 'Mania 22 had quite a diverse palette that presumably allowed everyone to find at least something they enjoyed.

Best Match: Edge vs. Mick Foley
Worst Match: Torrie Wilson vs. Candice Michelle - Again with the Playboy-themed matches featuring women one could actually see sans clothing elsewhere.
What I'd Change: Take Orton out of the World Title match and put him against Shawn Michaels.  Then you'd have a really strong HBK-Orton match and a blistering Angle-Mysterio Title match.  Also drop the Playboy pillow fight as it's a full-on time waster.
Most Disappointing Match: Kurt Angle vs. Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio - Once again the Smackdown title match was grossly shortchanged and the new champion robbed of a significant 'Mania celebration.
Most Pleasant Surprise: Undertaker vs. Mark Henry - I figured this would be a real stinker but it was a solid Casket Match.
Overall Rating: 7/10

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