Home / Wrestlemania 22: The Grandaddy of Em’ All Delivers Again

Wrestlemania 22: The Grandaddy of Em’ All Delivers Again

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I’ve been a professional wrestling fan ever since I was a kid, when my old man used to take me to matches in Hawaii, featuring guys like Ripper Collins, Tex MacKenzie, and Curtis “the Bull” Iaukea.

As a 13-year-old boy, I was hooked instantly. And it is something I carried all the way into my adult life.

But it’s been pretty tough being a wrestling fan the past few years.

You see, professional wrestling is a cyclical business.

And the cycle has been decidedly on the “down side” for the past couple of years…ever since Vince McMahon and the WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) basically won the interpromotional wars of the nineties (the last time professional wrestling was really hot) and absorbed all of the competition.

Back then, at least for a time when wrestling was at it’s peak, there would be competing pay per views nearly every week between the three major players in the game:

Vince McMahon’s World Wrestling Federation (or the then WWF); Ted Turner’s World Championship Wrestling (WCW); and Paul Heyman’s revolutionary upstart group, Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW).

Like I said, it was a great time to be a wrestling fan.

And it all came together each and every Monday night…when WWF’s Monday Night Raw would square off with WCW’s Nitro on cable, in what came to be known as “The Monday Night Wars”.

Since those glory days, Monday Night Wrestling has been in a steady, undeniable creative decline. Oh sure, there are the occassional weeks when you still get a decent show.

But nothing compared to the shock a minute thrills of the original “Monday Night Wars” of the nineties.

That was when the big boys of the then WWF and WCW went head to head in a constant battle of oneupmanship for wrestling supremacy…and of course, for ratings.

Meanwhile, the upstart Extreme Championship Wrestling (ECW) kept the heat turned way up (literally) on the big boys with it’s own mix of edgy storylines, (catfighting lesbian vixens we’re a regular fixture) and staged ultra violence (things like barbed wire and flaming table matches…with lots of blood).

As a reference point, I highly recommend checking out the recently released DVD Bloodsport: ECW’s Most Violent Matches.

Vince McMahon’s WWE eventually won the Monday Night War, largely by duplicating the ECW formula and bringing it to the mass cable audience via it’s Monday Night Raw flagship show on USA.

While the competition over at WCW was chugging along on the carcasses of it’s aging stars Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, WWE was introducing it’s then hot new made for prime time properties The Rock, Mick Foley, and Stone Cold Steve Austin (a WCW castaway who found new life in McMahonland) to the world.

Me and my buddies would watch those shows absolutely transfixed on Monday Nights.

We would also burn up the phone lines during commercials calling each other to compare notes (“did you see what Austin just did to McMahon?)”.

And on Sundays we would always get together for the Pay Per Views.

There was no bigger event on the wrestling Pay Per View map than Wrestlemania.

The Grandaddy of Em’ All…Wrestlemania…at least for diehards like us…was the World Series, the Superbowl, and Christmas all rolled into one.

Back in the day, we would have like twenty guys gathered round the tube for the Sunday PPV. There was plenty of cold beer, bad pizza, and abundant testosterone in the room back then. We’d also defend our own championship belt…based on our predictions of the PPV results.

This weekend, that tradition continued for Wrestlemania. But there we’re just six of us.

Like I said, times change.

I am myself a two time (“Thats Two Time! Brrrutha!”) champion. Tonight, my good buddy Wendall Rose regained the belt, correctly calling nine of the eleven Wrestlemania matches.

On paper, this year’s Wrestlemania did not look good.

But in spite of all odds, it delivered.

Mick Foley and Edge had a hardcore match that tore the house down, climaxed by a great “holy shit!” moment…Edge spearing Foley through a flaming table.

Trish Stratus and Mickie James had what is probably the best women’s match I’ve ever seen…despite a botched finish.

Rey Misterio became WWE champion in a spot fest that probably could have gone a bit longer…but was still memorable for both the tons of great spots and the backstory of his win being a tribute to his friend, the late, great Eddie Guerrero.

Ric Flair got what may be legit injured in a “Money In The Bank” ladder match. It was a match he really had no business being in. Flair, the once great “Nature Boy” is pushing 60 years old, and has definitely seen better days. The match was eventualy won by the long deserving Rob Van Dam.

Meanwhile, Triple H, the self proclaimed “King of Kings”…considered by many wrestling insiders to be the most selfish, self serving wrestler this side of Hulk Hogan himself…tapped out to John Cena in what proved to be the night’s biggest surprise.

Cena, by the way, is quite possibly the most unpopular “babyface” (that’s insider wrestling vernacular for “good guy”) of all time.

A fact which the hot (and quite vocal) Chicago Wrestlemania live crowd let him know in no uncertain terms.

This wasn’t the best Wrestlemania…and I’ve seen em’ all. Not by any means. But it was far better than it had any right to be, judging it by what they had going in on paper at least.

Can you say “Whoo”?

Wrestlemania 22 Match Results

World Champion John Cena regained his title, defeating Triple H by submssion

Rey Misterio won the WWE Championship over Kurt Angle and Randy Orton in a three way dance

Shawn Micheals defeated Vince McMahon in a “No Holds Barred Match”

Rob Van Dam won the “Money In The Bank” ladder match over Ric Flair; Shelton Benjamin; Lashley; Fit Findlay; and Matt Hardy

Undertaker defeated Mark Henry in a “Casket Match”

Edge defeated Mick Foley in a Hardcore Match

JBL defeated Chris Benoit to win the United States Championship

The Big Show & Kane defeated Carlito and Chris Masters to retain the WWE Tag Team Championship

Mickie James defeated Trish Stratus to win the WWE Womens Championship

Boogeyman defeated Booker T and Sharmell

Torrie Wilson defeated Candace Michelle in a Playboy Pillowfight

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About Glen Boyd

Glen Boyd is the author of Neil Young FAQ, released in May 2012 by Backbeat Books/Hal Leonard Publishing. He is a former BC Music Editor and current contributor, whose work has also appeared in SPIN, Ultimate Classic Rock, The Rocket, The Source and other publications. You can read more of Glen's work at the official Neil Young FAQ site. Follow Glen on Twitter and on Facebook.
  • Alan Brown

    I will agree with you that the performers gave it there all at Wrestlemania 22. However there are a few points I would like to take up with you.

    1. The exploitation of Eddie Guerrero’s Memory by the creative team at WWE is disgusting and not very proffesional.

    2. Although I am an avid RVD fan you must admit that his performance of late has been pretty shabby. If he is to challenge fro the title then he needs to shape up. Although I do accept that he is just off a serious injusry.

    3. Finally I would like to hear you express your opinion on the John Cena/Triple H match as you fail to do so. In my opinion it was one of the most disgusting things I have ever seen in my life long obsession with wrestling. I am not for a second saying it was a terrible match. I refer to the creative teams rejection of the fans opinion by allowing John Cena to retain the title. To me it was like Vinnie Mac spitting in the face of his fans.

  • I agree that the Eddie thing needs to stop, and it seems like they’re going to keep with it too after Chavo lost last night. They didn’t do this with any other wrestler’s death, and I don’t see how this is any different.

  • Hi Alan (and Matt),

    To answer the three points you make:

    1. Agree with you 100% on the exploitation of Eddie Guerrero. I’m not bothered at all by the stuff that pays tribute to Eddie…such as the inclusion in The Hall of Fame this weekend. The comments made by Chavo, Chris Benoit, Rey Mysterio, and especially Eddie’s widow Vickie actually choked me up and I thought the whole thing was very tasteful. Likewise, Mysterio’s win paying tribute to Guerrero was also tastefully done (though I did notice the fans didn’t seem to buy into it. I don’t expect a small man to hold that title in pro wrestling’s “Land of The Giants” for long though.

    On the other hand, some of the things done in angles (by guys like JBL, even though I know it’s his job to play the “heel” role) has bothered me a lot. Unfortunately, as I’m sure both of you guys know, it will most likely continue as long as Eddie’s name continues to get the reaction in the arenas it is currently getting. Thats how the whole carny thing usually works. I agree 100% that this doesn’t make exploiting Guerrero’s name right though.

    2. My personal first choice as to who should’ve won the “money in the bank” match for a title shot…based on workrate for the past twelve months…would have been Shelton Benjamin (speaking of whom…let’s hope “Mama” is gone for good, though I doubt she is). Matt Hardy would’ve been another good choice since he’s been pretty much buried since returning to WWE. But I’ll settle for RVD, simply because he’s paid his dues in the midcard for long enough and his time is due. I predict RVD cashes the briefcase in against HHH…who will be champion I believe by the time of the ECW PPV in June.

    Incidentally, by your own logic (on the Cena situation)…RVD is also the correct choice since he was clearly the wrestler who the fans we’re most behind in that particular match.

    Speaking of which…

    3. My opinion on the Cena/HHH match is simply that I, like you I’m sure, find it absolutely fascinating to watch WWE continue to try and put forth Cena as a babyface champion when the fans clearly have rejected him. And I believe I did make that very point in my review. Watching the crowd cheer the company’s top heel, HHH…simply because they would probably cheer Saddam Hussein over Cena…is something I find every bit as confounding as you do. They even had Jim Ross try to pawn the fans obvious rejection of Cena off as being the product of a “a traditionalist crowd who prefers the “old school style” of HHH over Cena’s “New school hip hop”. What a load of crap!

    As pure theatre of the absurd though, I find the whole thing fascinating in a bizarre and surrealist way. So Thats my $.02

    -Glen Boyd

  • Michael Rich

    I agree with a lot of things that were said, but here’s my “take” on it anyway.

    1. This years Wrestlemania was a pleasent suprise, to say the least. In the past, the use of retired wrestlers coming back to Wrestlemania for “one more match” has been a little much, to say the least. Only one of those matches happened this year (Foley v. Edge). The use of talent that wrestles on a day to day basis was a welcome change that I hope they continue in future Wrestlemanias. The wrestlers under contract who wrestle every Monday and Friday (and house shows throughout the week) are the ones that deserve a spot on the “largest stage.”
    2. The build-up to Wrestlemania was a little weak this year, compared to years past.
    3. Jim Ross, though his comments on the fans regarding John Cena were wrong, it definitely was a welcome change to the months of just ignoring the crowd. He did his best to include the crowd reaction into the story of the match. That is his job, and I think it made the match just a little bit more enjoyable to watch. If it did anything, it made truely miss the weekly encounters by the fans with the great Jim Ross. As much as I enjoy Joey Styles in that position, he’s doomed to failure by having to follow one of the true greats of this business.
    4. It would have been nice to see that match for the World Heavyweight title go just a little longer.
    5. Triple H paid the ultimate price by tapping out to John Cena. Anyone who says that Triple H hold the younger guys down now has video proof to the contrary.
    6. I am still not sold on Rob Van Dam. I do agree he has spent a career on the middle of the card. Who knows, that may be just where he belongs. I know that opinion may be unpopular there, but I am willing to accept that responsiblity.
    7. Thank god there has been no Boogeyman since Wrestlemania. What an unentertaining squash match that was. You can’t accuse Booker T of holding down anybody (or JBL for that matter).