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TV Review: WWE Wrestlemania 22

What a night for the WWE. This year’s Wrestlemania reminded us all why we pay extra for the event. Unforgettable spots were so numerous, they could open RAW tomorrow night using nothing but clips from this pay-per-view. Its few downers were in no way enough to ruin the night, and the impressions left by some of the insanity will take years to slip from our minds.

The opening tag team title match featuring champions Kane and Big Show taking on Carlito and Chris Masters wasn’t especially different from something you’d see every week on RAW, but the right match to start things off. Kane’s leaping clothesline, Big Show’s double suplex, a little comedy, and a well-sold Masterlock was enough to get the crowd moving, aside from a few missed shots. The champions would retain, and Masters would find himself dissatisfied, even though he cost them the match by missing Kane during a risky top rope maneuver.

At this point, the status of the Spanish announcing table is: Standing.

A six-way ladder match was a high point for the crowd, screaming for Rob Van Dam to come away with the victory, and he rightfully earned it. While the wrestlers weren’t the first thing to come to mind for a ladder match (Finley, Lashley, Benjamin, Hardy, RVD, and Ric Flair), they performed admirably. Ric Flair sold an injury early, only to come back to an explosion from the crowd.

Camera work here was awful, missing an amazing move by Shelton Benjamin jumping from nowhere only to somehow stick himself on a ladder like nothing had happened. They also missed an RVD leap involving a chair that was nearly suicidal. Right before RVD nabbed the suitcase to guarantee him a World Title match sometime in the next year, Matt Hardy and Shelton Benjamin took a dip off a ladder from inside the ring, and Hardy’s head disgustingly clipped the apron during his plummet. Again, the camera barely caught what was one of the best bumps of the night. Still, the overall match provided enough chaos and solo spots to satisfy.

Spanish Announce table status: Still standing.

JBL and Chris Benoit clashed in a mildly exciting match, easily the most technical of the night. JBL’s entrance stole the show, hydraulically raising the entire entrance ramp to make room for his limo to drive underneath. There were multiple triple suplexes here, and some brutal clotheslines. It was fairly uneventful, though enough to keep the crowds spirit up after JBL came away with a cheap win.

Spanish Announce table status: Still standing.

Mick Foley and Edge put on the first of two show-stealing bouts. The first major spot of the match came as Edge attempted his spear, only to find out the hard way that Foley had wrapped razor wire around his midsection. Edge’s arm ripped open, spewing blood. The two insane combatants went back and forth, beating each other with barbed wire, cooking sheets, and eventually a reversal by Foley to drop Edge onto a pile of tacks. Those tiny metal objects would stick in his body for the remainder of the bout.

Both men would be sliced open gushing blood before this was over. A major highlight was the demonic return of Mr. Socko, only this time, it too was wrapped in barbed wire. While Edge took a mouthful, it was Lita who saw the worst, getting her lip sliced as Foley stuck his sock-covered hand down her throat.

The match would meet an amazing fate, as Foley and a table were doused in lighter fluid. Setting the table on fire, Edge would spear Foley through the ropes off the apron, sending them crashing through the flames for a stunning finish. Foley’s arms were obviously singed, and the Edge looked like he had some form of a concussion, not to mention a staggering amount of blood loss from a severe gash in his head.

Spanish Announce table status: Still standing.

What would have most likely calmed the crowd down is the Women’s Title match, yet this one also stood out. Mickie James cemented herself as a superstar, over shadowing long-standing champ Trish Stratus. Very few punches were pulled here, as these girls hit hard. The results were one of the best women’s matches in recent years, and the continuing saga between the two added to the brawl.

There was plenty of sexual innuendo, and James had issues keeping her top on. The crowd didn’t seem to mind. The finish was botched, though it seemed as if Trish’s leg gave out due to injury. The quick recovery wasn’t an ideal finish. However, it didn’t put a damper on what was an energetic and certainly enjoyable bout, and a victory for new champ Mickie James.

Spanish Announce table status: Still standing.

Booker T and his wife Sharmell took on the oddball Boogeyman in the night’s low point. Aside from a disgusting worm-filled kiss from the Boogeyman to Sharmell, this brief and pointless match offered little of value. In fact, the skit leading up to it, involving the WWE’s roster of freaks and a totally priceless Goldust appearance was far more entertaining. The Boogeyman’s victory won’t gain him much.

Spanish Announce table status: Still (somehow) standing.

McMahon and Michaels would be the second contender for match of the night, offering a plethora of ridiculous stunts that should in theory kill two men of their age. McMahon took one of the most brutal chair shots of all time, splitting the back of his head so severely, the mat would be soaked by the flow of red liquid. Shane would interfere, only to end up kissing his own fathers ass thanks to a bit of quick thinking on the part of Michaels.

McMahon would do little in the match aside from taking a beating. That’s all that needed to happen. After having multiple opportunities to finish him off, Michaels would continue to dish out punishment. Jim Ross commentating ringside would take a massive shot from McMahon’s flying body after Michaels gave him a stiff toss over the table.

There was a classic Wrestlemania moment as Vince lay on a table and Michaels ascended a ladder to finish him off. When in position, and after a quick look to the crowd, he decided against the stunt. He climbed down much to the dismay of the live audience. The payoff was an even bigger ladder, and a garbage can stuck on the upper half of McMahon’s body. Michaels climbed the ladder (at minimum 20 feet), elbow dropping the WWE’s CEO not only through a table, but a garbage can the referee and staff had trouble removing.

This all occurs after both men bled all over the ring in a ridiculous and completely over the top gore fest. Even after the ladder spot, Shawn still wasn’t done, planting a dose of Sweet Chin Music to McMahon’s jaw. The crack was heard through the entire arena of 17,000+ before the three-count gave Michaels the win.

Spanish Announce table status: Amazingly, still standing.

Undertaker would continue his streak of Wrestlemania victories against Mark Henry in a casket match. Short and to the point, these two power fighters blasted each other with every move in their arsenal. Undertaker was not only able to pull off a Tombstone pile driver, but a Last Ride in which he would carry the 400-pounder a few feet before slamming him down. Another highlight spot was the Undertaker flying over the top rope, clearing the gigantic casket, and clothes lining Henry on the outside.

Spanish Announce table status: Against all odds, still standing.

Smackdown’s main event was up next, a triple threat between Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, and Kurt Angle. The crowd began their streak of nastiness here, booing Mysterio every time he moved or landed a blow, even though he gave them everything he possibly had. Angle would own the opening moments, making both of his opponents submit. He wouldn’t gain the win because of a referee distraction on both occurrences.

Really solid on every aspect, no one missed a move here. A spectacular and nearly impossible leap by Mysterio off of Kurt Angle would send Orton crashing to mat from the top rope. The match would finish in similar style, a flawlessly executed, hard, and brutal huricanrana by Mysterio. Angle loses the belt without being pinned. Eddie Gurrero’s wife and Chavo Gurrero would greet Mysterio as he exited the stage to a disrespectful crowd.

Spanish Announce table status: Magically still standing.

A Playboy pillow fight would prove to be the night’s useless moment, pitting Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle against each other. Aide from a stinkface from Torrie’s dog and the bed being flipped over on top of Michelle, this was a terrible lead in to the main event.

Spanish Announce table status: Still standing against all odds.

In a bizarre main event, Triple H and John Cena battled to a wildly disruptive crowd, finding every reason to boo Cena’s every move. This occurs after two of the stupidest entrances in the events history, including HHH dressed as a Conan knock-off (with props that looked like they came from a clearance rack at a Dollar store) and Cena portraying a mobster (with mob “members” leading him in). The crowd refused to give Cena a break, even before he stepped into the ring.

After a slow start, the match would pick up, leading to the usual flurry of false finishes. A few hard clotheslines would be enough to knock Triple H down numerous times, and the crowd responded with nothing but boos. While a few fans would cheer Cena, the usual chant was “F*ck You Cena!” It was an ugly backdrop to a decent main event.

Amazingly, Cena would get the win not on his popular FU, but a submission. This is HHH’s second tap out in a Wrestlemania main event, and Cena’s stupidly titled STFU would do the job this time out. What was supposed to be the usual face victory failed to work, and the dead silence from the crowd (and the close ups of their reactions were uglier yet), couldn’t take the show out with a celebration sadly.

And finally, the Spanish Announce table status: For the first time in years, still standing as they go off the air.

Looking back, Wrestlemania 22 only had one botched match (excluding the pillow fight which does not earn “match” status), and it was short enough that it didn’t have the chance to destroy the night like Brock Lesner and Bill Goldberg would a few years prior. As is the norm, the main event was not the best of the night. The two matches that let anything go proved why this is the Super Bowl of pro wrestling, and what these guys will do for the entertainment of their fans. Hats off to an enormously successful PPV that was well worth $50.

About Matt Paprocki

Matt Paprocki has critiqued home media and video games for 13 years. His current passion project is the technically minded DoBlu.com. You can follow Matt's body of work via his personal WordPress blog, and follow him on Twitter @Matt_Paprocki.
  • John

    Wrestlemania 22 was one of the greatest nights in wwe history. Up to this point no Wrestlemania was able to top Wrestlemania 17, but I think Wrestlemania 22 surpased it.

    The highlights of the night were the spear to Mick Foley threw a flamming table, Shawn Michaels hitting an elbow from a 20 ft ladder onto Vince and John Cena making the Game tap out. This Wrestlemania definately lived up to all the hype.