Which Event Was Better: WrestleMania 17 or WrestleMania 22?
Posted by Justin Watry on 07.08.2014
411's Justin Watry examines the evidence to see which event was better: WrestleMania 17 or WrestleMania 22...
There will be no "Who Was Better?" column this week. Or next week. Or maybe ever again. Never did get the concept down 100% to my liking. Moving forward, I wanted to try something totally different and unique. Instead of debating which wrestler was better, we will discuss which event was better! Since WWE is currently in the summertime, it seemed logical to begin with two Summerslam pay-per-views. Well, this is the internet - logic gets thrown out the window in a hurry. The biggest event of the year is WrestleMania, so that is where the concept begins for me.
When thinking of which two to select, I could go with the positive or the negative. Pick two bad Manias or pick two great Manias? Since the rest of the online community focuses on the negativity, I will head to the positive side here. Right off the bat, WrestleMania X-7 came to mind. Often regarded as the best wrestling event ever. Maybe, maybe not. After a little back and forth, I decided on WrestleMania 22 being a strong counterpart. Seems ridiculous on paper, right? Well, take a look at the evidence...
Which Was Better: WrestleMania 17 OR WrestleMania 22?
Divas/Womens Match at WrestleMania 17: Chyna vs. Ivory for the Womens Championship - Completely one sided. Not even much of a match. Ivory got crushed by Chyna, crowning a new champion. Barely two minutes long.
Divas/Womens Match at WrestleMania 22: Candice Michelle vs. Torrie Wilson in a Playboy pillow fight - Yeah, just two hot girls in a pillow fight to promote the WWE-Playboy connection. This "match" lasted about four minutes. About as equally entertaining as Chyna vs. Ivory. Lucky for us, there was also a Womens Championship match at WrestleMania 22...
Divas/Womens Match at WrestleMania 22: Mickie James vs. Trish Stratus for the Women Championship - Probably the greatest female wrestling match ever presented on WWE television or PPV. They had a well built up feud for months. There was a long-time champ in Trish and the up and comer gunning for the gold. Pretty simple story. Mickie turned heel a few weeks prior to Mania to seal the deal. Chicago was going to LOVE this match at WM22, heels, faces, whatever. No doubt, the two delivered inside the squared circle. A new champion was crowned when Mickie James pinned Trish Stratus, and women's wrestling reached a new height. Needless to say, this Divas/Womens section in the debate goes to WrestleMania 22 in a landslide.
The Streak: WrestleMania 17 vs. Triple H - Very good match with a very good build up. Even if the referee did stay down for a ridiculous amount of time, this was a fun brawl all over the building. No complaints here.
The Streak: WrestleMania 22 vs. Mark Henry in a Casket Match - Oddly enough, there were rumors that Mark Henry would defeat The Undertaker here. Just like HHH at WM17 (with Shawn Michaels interfering). Not oddly enough, both rumors turned out to be false. Really, this was a decent match with a decent amount of build up. Just decent. Taker had to face a heel and had to win, so there were not a ton of options available. Although admittedly, his match against Kurt Angle at No Way Out 2006 would have been great on the grand stage. No comparison here - WM17 defeats WM22 in a better match for The Streak.
Opening Match at WrestleMania 17: William Regal vs. Chris Jericho for the IC Championship - Ah yes, the glory days of television when Chris Jericho peed in William Regal's drink. Ah yes, glorious. Glad people remember that when WWE is bashed for the recent Raw story line with Stephanie McMahon's coffee. Oh, right. Sorry, back on track. I am a fan of Jericho. I am a fan of Regal. However, this match never clicked. The battle only went seven minutes and featured the only champ (Y2J) to retain his title on this night. Just kind of "there" as an opener.
Opening Match at WrestleMania 22: Carlito/Chris Masters vs. Big Show/Kane for the World Tag Team Titles - Funny, Kane and Big Show fought at WM17 in a triple threat hardcore title match! Maybe I should have compared those two bouts instead? Maybe. Even so, I went with a battle of opening matches. This title match went just under seven minutes and like Jericho/Regal, it was just kind of "there" with the champ retaining in Show and Kane. Nothing terrible, nothing outstanding. Call this one a tie.
APA & Tazz vs. Right To Censor in a "filler" match at WrestleMania 17 - Ugh. You talk about 'getting everybody on the card' in 2001, huh? Not much to say here. The good guys demolished the annoying bad guys in less than four minutes. Yep, less than four minutes. Oh joy. WrestleMania 22 was not much better in this section...
Test vs. Eddie Guerrero for the European Championship in a "filler" match at WrestleMania 17 - This joins the six man tag as just another match on the card. It is not exactly "filler" because a belt is on the line but for WRESTLE FREAKIN' MANIA, my standards are little higher. I say this as a Test fan. I say this as a HUGE Eddie Guerrero fan. Yet, the European Title only meant so much. A mere eight minutes later, Eddie was the new champ thanks to Perry Saturn and Dean Malenko interfering.
The Boogeyman vs. Booker T and Sharmell in a "filler" match at WrestleMania 22 - The best part about this match was the backstage segment with all the 'freaks' giving Booker a pep talk. Now that was funny! This handicap match? No thanks. It felt like Booker T trying to help out his friend (Boogeyman) here in the middle of the card. Luckily, he got a better shot months later winning the King of the Ring crown and World Title. Here though, yeah - it joins the two WM17 matches mentioned as just matches set up for the sake of getting people on the show. Less than four minutes after the bell rang, The Boogeyman won. Yeah. Unsure of how to rank these matches in comparison...all of you can debate which "filler" was better.
The Boss: Vince McMahon vs. Shane McMahon in a street fight at WrestleMania 17 - Mick Foley was the special guest referee. Linda McMahon was out there. Trish Stratus made a cameo. Heck, even Stephanie McMahon was at ringside. Yeah, it was your typical McMahon-Mania fun! I think Vince has stated this was his favorite match of all-time; do not quote me on that though. I thought he said that in an interview years back. Either way, this was good stuff. Really entertaining for 14 minutes. As expected, Vince just took a beating from everybody, before Shane O'Mac did the 'coast to coast' and scored the pin fall victory.
The Boss: Vince McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels in a No Holds Barred match at WrestleMania 22 - Like above, this was just 18 minutes of Vince taking a beating. Shane McMahon got involved (to help his father this time!). The beloved Spirit Squad tried to help out, but Shawn Michaels was having none of it. I am not big on "Year End Awards" and all that jazz because (as usual) it is just opinions, which are never right or wrong. It is all just opinion...but multiple places listed THIS as the Match of the Year for 2006. Do not ask me how or why. Hey! Whatever, that is their choice. While I would never go thaaaaaat far, it is pretty darn accurate. This entire feud leading up to WM22 and match was excellent. With Jim Ross on the call just screaming over every little move by HBK, it certainly helps its ranking. Truth be told, this battle at WM22 probably does top the Vince/Shane street fight from WM17.
Triple Threat Rules: Kane vs. Big Show vs. Raven for the Hardcore Championship at WrestleMania 17 - Not too shabby. There was no way Raven was getting out this with the Hardcore Title, but at that point - the entire belt/division was stale to me. Thankfully, it was retired a year later. Also, was this really the best Kane and Big Show could do? Both larger than life names and main event talent...going for the Hardcore Title against Raven! Eh, I suppose. All three played their parts well. Going backstage was fun and all, but whether by design or not, this entire thing was sloppy. Guys stumbling around. Cameras out of place. Spots looking messed up. Not to mention the ridiculous looking finish from Kane. Suppose that just worked because it was the Hardcore division. This match has its fans, and make no mistake - I DO enjoy it. Maybe just not as much as others.
Triple Threat Rules: Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Kurt Angle for the World Championship - This was about Rey Mysterio getting his moment. Winning the Royal Rumble was one thing. However, he lost that golden ticket to Randy Orton at No Way Out in February 2006. Still, that did not keep Teddy Long from making it a triple threat match for Kurt Angle's World Title. I remember a few things about the match. First, it was short due to time constraints. Second, all three either tapped out or were pinned decisively early on (see time constraints). Thirdly, any of the men could have actually won without much complaining. Rumors (love those!) were insistent that WWE wanted Mr. RKO to be champ. Obviously, the payoff with Rey was winning the big gold. That left Angle who just came off a clean win over The Undertaker at No Way Out and would have been nice to see him keep the belt a little longer. No matter the finish, even at just over nine minutes, this was a wild World Title match at WrestleMania 22. Better triple threat match goes to WM22, not WM17.
Multi-Man Free For All: Gimmick Battle Royal at WrestleMania 17 - As a one off spectacle, I was fine with this happening. If it were to be an annual thing or even every couple years, it would probably get old (pun!) real quickly. Since this was a one time special event, I thought it was great. Bobby Heenan on commentary is always welcome, as is watching Doink The Clown perform. Yeah, just a bunch of classic character going at it - with Iron Shiek winning because he could not actually go over the top rope.
Multi-Man Free For All: Money in the Bank II at WrestleMania 22 - Always tough to beat the original. Whether it is a movie or wrestling match, the sequel tends to fall short. Not in this case (another pun!). I happen to believe the Money in the Bank ladder matches got better and better as time went on. Here, it was Bobby Lashley, Rob Van Dam, Ric Flair, Shelton Benjamin, Matt Hardy and Finlay going at it with ladders, ladders, and more ladders! While only RVD and Flair had a real true shot at winning the MITB briefcase, it was the expected stuntest of a match. Chalk up another one for WM22!
Weapons Galore: TLC II for the Tag Team Titles at WrestleMania 17 - Read above with sequels usually falling short of the original. I prefer the first ever TLC match from Summerslam 2000. No knock on the rematch though. Edge and Christian won once again. The Hardyz hit their usual high risk spots, even though Jeff Hardy walking across the ladders should have NEVER been approved. Then you had the Dudleyz facilitating everything out there. These three teams just worked so well together. While it was pretty cool to have Lita, Spike Dudley, and Rhyno got involved, it was only Rhyno who actually did anything of note for his team. The other two seemingly just showed up...to just show up. Still, excellent effort from the tag teams.
Weapons Galore: Edge vs. Mick Foley in a Hardcore match at WrestleMania 22 - I went back and forth with the previous few matches. TLC II vs. MITB II seemed like a perfect fit. However, Foley/Edge vs. Gimmick Battle Royal made no sense. Thus, I fell back into these matchups since Edge and Lita were featured in both...and of course, weapons were used. I think it works. Ultimately, I loved Mick Foley vs. Edge from WM22. Yes, loved! Foley was highly motivated to "put over" Edge like a million bucks and at the same time get his own WrestleMania Moment. It worked on both levels. Forget HBK/Vince; Edge/Foley was a great candidate for Match of the Year in 2006. Slightly a better bout than TLC II...
Main Event: The Rock vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWE Title at WrestleMania 17 - No arguments here. No long drawn out debate. Top notch hype. Top notch build (forgetting the Debra nonsense). Top notch video promo. Just an unreal amount of buzz surrounding these two going at it for the richest prize in the industry. Off the chain main event very fitting of the grand daddy of them all. We can debate the ending all day long (massive, massive, MASSIVE mistake admitted by just about everyone involved), but the bell to bell contest is still one of the most memorable bouts in wrestling history. Unbelievable clash of the titans with The Rock vs. Stone Cold.
Main Event: Triple H vs. John Cena for the WWE Title at WrestleMania 22 - I have written about this match before, but watching this live in 2006 was just incredible. As far as personal experiences viewing a WWE pay-per-view, this bout ranks right up there with The Undertaker vs. Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania 25 and CM Punk vs. John Cena from MITB 2011 in terms of atmosphere. Friends and family at the edge of our seats screaming, yelling, and arguing over every single little move, kick out, and eventually - who would win? Easy to say now, but folks, fans had NO IDEA if Triple H or Cena would walk out as WWE Champion. Such a unique crowd in 2006 (when the Cena hate was cool). Such a great job by the WWE production showing fans' facial expressions towards the end of the match. Such a perfect call by Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. Such a loud and energetic main event. Such a wonderful setting watching this in Wisconsin with passionate fans. Then add on the special 'over the top' entrances! Like I said, just based on personal experience watching a wrestling match, this was very memorable. Just for historical purposes though, the main event of WM17 tops it for many reasons.
Overall: Pretty close back and forth battle, huh? I told you the answer was not so cut and dry. Add in a MUCH more lively crowd in Chicago (WM22) and an awesome WWE Hall of Fame class with Bret Hart AND Eddie Guerrero getting inducted, that adds yet another element. In the end, WM17 is most certainly going to win any kind of vote. I get that. However, if you actually put away the Attitude Era blinders and look at the card in full, top to bottom, there is an actual debate to be had.