The WrestleMania XXII Breakdown
Posted by J.D. Dunn on 04.02.2006
I think it's safe to say that Vince McMahon doesn't exactly have his finger on the pulse of the Chicago crowd.
WrestleMania XXII — 4.2.2006
Live from Chicago, Ill.
Your hosts are Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Michael Cole and Tazz.
Opening Match, World Tag Team Titles: Kane & The Big Show vs. Carlito & Chris Masters.
Conventional wisdom says Show finds a reason to turn on Kane, giving Carlito and Masters a realistic shot at winning the titles and creating a big feud for both former champs. Either that, or Carlito turns face because the crowd is just aching to cheer him. Kane hits a dropkick early and lets Show abuse Masters. Carlito tries to put Show in a knucklelock, but Show just picks him up and crotches him on the top rope. Show tosses Carlito out on Masters, and Kane hits a flying clothesline on them! LUCHA KANE! Back in, Carlito had untied the turnbuckle pad earlier and now sends Show's head into it. Kane gets a quick tag, though, avoiding a big heat sequence. Kane cleans house but gets caught in a sloppily applied Masterlock. Show makes the save and gets heel heat for it. Kane sits up and tosses Carlito into Masters' path. Masters gets booted to the outside, and Kane finishes the squash with a chokeslam at 6:45. After the match, the heels tease dissention, but nothing comes from it. Not a very good match, but it served the purpose of getting fans warmed up. *
Jonathon Coachman asks Shawn Michaels if he regrets telling Vince McMahon to grow up. Shawn says he always tells the truth and says we should not expect a ***** match.
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Matt Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Fit Finlay vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Ric Flair.
The crowd is solidly behind Van Dam. Lashley dominates early but takes a roundhouse kick from Benjamin. Matt picks up a ladder, but Van Dam pescados out on top of him. Benjamin leans the ladder against the ropes, runs up it, and delivers a SOMERSAULT PLANCHA ON EVERYONE! I think Paul London is the only other person I've seen do that. Flair goes up and gets suplexed off the top, apparently injuring himself, but the ref does the "x" sign, tipping that it's a work. At any rate, he's helped to the back. Van Dam misses Rolling Thunder. Benjamin and Lashley go up, and Benjamin gets help from Finlay and Hardy to sunset flip bomb Lashley off the ladder. Finlay tosses everyone and picks up a ladder, but here comes Flair! He hobbles down and takes out Finlay. Benjamin goes out over the top off a Flair chop. Flair reaches up for the case, but Finlay BLASTS him with the shillelagh. Benjamin and Finlay go up, but Lashley shoves them over and gives Shelton a Dominator. BLACK ON BLACK CRIME! Van Dam breaks up Lashley's attempt to go up with a Van Daminator off the top rope. Finlay catches Hardy but takes a Side Effect off the top. Van Dam climbs up and splashes Finlay off the ladder. Crowd chants "ECW!" Van Dam goes up and gets his fingertips on the briefcase, but Shelton SPRINGBOARDS OFF THE ROPE ONTO THE LADDER! King rips off my line from last year and calls Benjamin "Spider-Man." Unfortunately, the live camera misses it., and we don't get a good replay. Matt sets up a ladder next to Benjamin and Van Dam's ladder. Benjamin steps over to fight with Hardy, so Van Dam shoves the ladder over, spilling both men to the floor. From there, it's easy for Van Dam to pull down the briefcase for the win at 12:21. Quite a good train wreck match, considering the limitations of three of the participants. ***3/4
Randy Orton interrupts Mean Gene Okerlund to berate him and remind everyone how great he is. Batista appears behind Orton and reminds him that anyone who wins the title is just keeping it warm for him.
We pause to bring out the 2006 Hall of Fame inductees. They make a point to say that Bret Hart is uncomfortable and therefore not present, though. Vickie Guerrero, of course, gets the loudest ovation.
United States Championship: Chris Benoit vs. John Bradshaw Layfield (w/Jillian Hall).
They have to raise the entrance ramp up on hydraulics for JBL's limo to drive in. They slug it out and then take it to the mat. Benoit gets in his requisite chops, prompting JBL to hide behind Jillian. JBL takes over after a thumb to the eye. Benoit makes the comeback and goes up, but JBL crotches him and mocks Eddy Guerrero's old chest pounding. JBL superplexes him for two and then mocks Eddy's shimmy. JBL busts out the Triple Verticals to HUGE heel heat. Benoit breaks them up but takes a boot to the face. Benoit suplexes out of a chinlock and delivers the real Triple Verticals to big pop. The Diving Headbutt gets two. Benoit ducks the Clothesline From Hell and goes for a German Suplex, but JBL grabs the ref. JBL misses a second clothesline, and Benoit rides him down into the Crippler Crossface. JBL rolls him over, though, and grabs a handful of ropes for the win at 9:44. JBL actually carried most of the match and provided a lot of the heat. Neither man brought their "A" game, I assume not to overshadow the next match. This is where JBL belongs. Hopefully, they find something new for Benoit to do. **
Hey! Joe Thiesmann's in the crowd. Why doesn't Vince book Lawrence Taylor when we need him?
Hardcore Match: Edge (w/Lita) vs. Mick Foley.
Joey Styles joins commentary, probably at the request of Foley. Edge misses a swing with a baseball bat, so Foley delivers the tree-of-woe elbow. Lita slides a cookie sheet in, and Edge smacks Mick over the head with it. CHOCOLATE CHIP, BITCHES! Edge sets a road sign against Foley's face and dropkicks it. SPEAR! Oh, but Edge injures his shoulder. Ah, Mick had wrapped himself in barbed wire. Edge gets tied in the ropes Andre-style, so Foley grabs "Barbie" the barbed-wire board. Lita jumps on Mick's back, but he Cactus Clotheslines Edge with Lita on his back, sending all three of them to the floor! Edge whips Mick into the ring steps and sets up a table. They tease Edge putting Foley through a table, but Edge slams his head on the entrance ramp for two. Back in the ring, Edge douses Foley in lighter fluid! Mick comes back with a piledriver for two, but Lita jumps in and distracts him long enough for Edge to jump him from behind. Edge dumps a bagful of thumbtacks in the corner of the ring, but Foley reverses and backdrops Edge in them! BARBED WIRE SOCKO! Oh, dear God! He applies the Mandible Claw with the barbed wire — and there's one for Lita! Both men are bleeding like stuck pigs, and even Lita's bleeding from the mouth. Foley digs Barbie's wire into Edge's forehead and douses the table in lighter fluid. Lita hits him with Barbie, though, and lights the table. Edge recovers and spears Foley off the apron through the flaming table! OH MY GAWD! Obviously, that's enough for the Edge win at 14:38. Note how they built to the big spot by teasing the crowd with the table early and then the lighter fluid before leading up to the ending. The result is that the crowd is whipped into a frenzy for the crescendo. That's what separates good storytelling from your average indy violent sleaze. We'll go **** for the chaos, the intensity, the build, and Edge's awesome postmatch selljob.
In the back, Sharmell wonders why all the freaks follow Booker around. Booker tries to argue but runs into Golddust, Snistky, Burchill, Dibiase, Moolah, Mae and Eugene. Dibiase does the Austin Powers Dr. Evil laugh.
Handicap Match: Booker T & Sharmell vs. the Boogeyman.
Booker makes Sharmell start, but it's just a ploy to get Boogey to turn his back. Booker T takes over and chokes Boogey against the ropes. Boogey starts no-selling but takes a Book End for two. Boogey ducks the Scissors Kick and hits an uppercut. He sends Booker into the post and BRINGS OUT THE WORMS! Sharmell tries to attack him from behind, but he kisses her with a mouthful of worms. She runs off, allowing Boogeyman to finish Booker with the Derailer at 3:53. 1/4*
Recap of the Trish/Mickie love story-turned-Direct-to-Video thriller.
WWE Women's Title: Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James.
Trish gets some chops in early and knocks Mickie to the floor. On the outside, the Chick Kick misses, and Trish hits the post with her leg. Oops. Mickie goes to work on the leg, prompting a "let's go, Mickie!" chant. You'd think Trish was a white rapper or something. Mickie slaps on a single leg crab, stomps the knee against the ropes, and locks in a kneebar. JR seems a little irked by the crowd getting behind Mickie. Gee, someone takes an interest in a really attractive woman, is nothing but nice to her, the woman leads her on and then gets pissed off and distant just because the person really likes her? And JR doesn't think men aged 15-30 would identify with that?! Trish sets her on top and goes for the Stratusphere, but Mickie slams her knee down to the mat. Trish then goes for Stratusfaction, but Mickie goes low. Yes, down there. With her fingers. Trish is so shocked that she lets go, and Mickie savors the taste of her fingers. And JR *still* doesn't get why Mickie is a hero to men everywhere! Anyway, they botch the ending with Mickie slipping as she goes for Stratusfaction, but she makes up for it with the Chick Kick for the anticlimactic pin and the title at 8:48. They at least had a good idea for a match with Mickie working the leg. It didn't actually build to anything, though, and the work was sloppy as hell. Still, this match will be remembered for the heat and characterizations that put it above most women's matches. **3/4
Vince McMahon and family bow for the single greatest prayer ever uttered in the English language. "God, you don't like me, and I don't like you…"
Casket Match: The Undertaker vs. Mark Henry.
Mark Henry's big advantage is that he's not afraid of the Undertaker. Henry attacks from behind. Taker tries to knock him down with clotheslines, but Henry shrugs them off and knocks Taker down with a clothesline. Lots of clubbering ensues. You can hear Taker call a spot as he says "tell 'em to open the casket" right before Henry screams "open it!" Taker goes low to block and comes back with the Old School Ropewalk. Henry blocks the Flatliner, and they fight in the casket. Back to the ring, Henry powerslams Taker and goes for the pin to put over the Casket stips. Taker comes back with soupbones but he still can't knock Henry off his feet. Henry climbs the ropes to pummel Taker, and I think we all know what's coming. Indeed, Taker counters to a powerbomb. He tosses Henry *over* the casket and follows with the NO-HANDS OVER THE TOP TOPE! Over the casket even! I can't remember the last time I saw him do that, but it's measured in years. Back in, Taker Tombstones Henry in an impressive feat of strength and rolls his carcass into the casket for the win at 9:26. Taker really seems more motivated over the past few months, and he provided most of the entertainment for this match. Unfortunately, Mark Henry dominated throughout with mere kicks and punches, so it was pretty boring until Taker decided to go home. *
No Holds Barred: Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon.
Vince unveils a poster-sized version of his "Muscle & Fitness" cover, so Shawn attacks and sends him over the announce table. Back in, Shawn smashes the poster over Vince's head and mocks his pose. The Spirit Squad attacks and gives Shawn the Sis-boom-body press. Kenny misses the guillotine legdrop, though. Mitch misses the cone shot, and Michaels takes out the who Squad. They provide enough distraction for Vince to clothesline Shawn when he turns around. He takes off his belt and strangles Shawn with it. VINCE IS TUNING UP THE BAND! Shawn blocks Sweet Chin Music and comes back with the flying forearm. Shawn gives him a hiding with the belt and drops the Picture Perfect elbow. Shane emerges from under the ring to break up Sweet Chin Music with a cane shot. Vince drops trou and tells Shane to give Shawn directions back to the Kiss My Ass club. Instead, Shawn shoves Shane's face into Vince's ass. HBK handcuffs Shane to the rope and goes to town with the cane. Back in, Shawn stops short on Sweet Chin Music and grabs a LADDER instead. Vince is busted open off a ladder shot. Shawn stops short again and tosses in a table and some trash cans. He sets Vince on the table and heads up the ladder. But no! He stops short again and brings in the 20-foot ladder! Shawn puts a trash can over Vince's head, puts him back on the table, goes up, and gives the DX sign. PICTURE PERFECT ELBOW OFF THE LADDER! Shawn brushes off the debris, hauls Vince to his feet, and finishes with Sweet Chin Music at 18:25. JR is selling it like Shawn sacrificed his own soul to beat Vince like he's fallen off the wagon after years of being "good," but it doesn't quite ring true when you take into account Shawn's heel turn this past summer. Instead of doing Vince vs. Shawn, it felt much more like Shawn vs. himself. I believe Shawn could have, quite literally, done the same match with a broomstick. ***
WrestleMania XXIII will emanate from Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan next year.
World Title, Triple Threat: Kurt Angle vs. Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio.
P.O.D. plays Rey Mysterio down to the ring. Rey continues his superhero theme by coming out as Hawkman. Okay, maybe not. It's probably some Aztec god headdress, but come on, he looks like Charo. Orton blasts Angle in the face with the title belt and dropkicks Rey. Angle sneaks back in and German Suplexes both men, sending Rey flying across the ring. Angle sets Orton on top, but Rey sneaks in and rams Angle's head into Orton's crotch. The crowd is sharply divided on Rey with half the crowd chanting 619, and the other half booing the hell out of him. Angle blocks the 619 and locks in the Anklelock. Rey taps, but Orton has the ref distracted. Kurt starts busting out German Suplex after German Suplex. Angle locks Orton in the Anklelock, but now Rey distracts the ref while Orton taps. Angle posts Mysterio and throws him to the floor to a huge pop. Orton hits the RKO on Angle! ONE, TWO, THR-NO! Rey slips while trying to hit the ringpost 619 on Angle. He finishes it anyway and gets two back inside. Orton comes back in with a Canadian Neckbreaker and stalks Rey for the RKO. Angle sneaks in and hits Orton with the Angleslam from behind. He tries another on Rey, but Rey armdrags him to the floor. 619 TO ORTON! WEST COAST POP ON ORTON! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! WAIT YESSS! He did what now?! Rey won? Really? YES! (9:20) Rey celebrates with Chavo Jr. and Vicki Guerrero. Suddenly, everyone in the crowd is a Rey fan. I really think most of the Rey hate in the match was because people thought he didn't have a chance and was just taking up space. Of course, you could argue that there is some obvious political (as in U.S. border) backlash too. Anyway, this was okay for the short time they had. Even though the offense was about even at 1/3 each, it still felt like the Kurt Angle Show until Rey's win. Oddly enough, the WWE Cruiserweight Champion is now heavier than the Heavyweight Champion. Just thought I'd throw that out there. **1/2
Playboy Pillow Fight: Candice Michelle vs. Torrie Wilson (w/Chloe).
JR references Gotch-Hackenschmidt drawing $87,000 whereas the gate here is over $2 million. He also jokes about a "Viagra on a Pole" match, but that really was an unfortunate Russo invention. Torrie backdrops Candice on the bed, and Chloe gives her the Tush Push. Candice comes back with the Hanging Headscissors. Candice strips her as the crowd chants "boring." Finally, Torrie puts an end to the madness with a schoolgirl rollup at 3:55. It seemed like 13:55. 1/4*
WWE Heavyweight Title: John Cena vs. Triple H.
Triple H has a new intro to his intro music. He also has either the coolest or sillyest entrance you've seen, looking like Conan the Barbarian's gay cousin, Felix the Effeminate Fop. See, he's supposed to look like a barbarian king because he's the "king of kings." Cena gets a 1930's Capone-style lead-in. Yeah, that'll get the fans behind him. Tell them Chicago is filled with crooks. The crowd boos him out of the building, of course. Lawler actually finds a much better silver lining than JR by saying at least they're all into the match. HHH outwrestles Cena during the feeling out period, drawing a huge face pop and a "Triple H" chant. It's probably because Angle was such a bad heel. Cena comes back with a backdrop and a Fisherman's Suplex. He settles into a chinlock, waiting for the fans to tire themselves out. HHH takes his Irish Whip bump over the ropes to the floor. Cena backdrops him on the ramp. HHH whips him into the steps, though, and tries to get some heel heat from the crowd. Guess how well that works. Cena tries to make the big comeback, but the crowd is just merciless. Cena hits the powerslam and the sitout backdrop, but HHH pops up and cuts off the Five Knuckle Shuffle with a Spinebuster. Cena comes back and pumps up the shoes. STFU! Hunter makes the ropes. Cena goes for the FU, but Hunter slips out and shoves him into the ref. Then he gives them both a low blow. Cena blocks him from using the sledgehammer once but runs into another shot. The ref recovers. ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! FU! ONE, TWO, THRE-NO! Cena goes up but lands in the Pedigree, he drop toeholds HHH down into the STFU! Hunter reaches for the ropes…but he…taps at 22:01. From a storyline standpoint, it's an indisputable failure. As a result, it's very hard to rate the match. Wrestling, after all, is a storytelling medium not a sport. I went back and watched with the sound off, and the match wasn't significantly better than any other main-event style PPV match. Even with the sound off, you could sense the desperation as they tried unsuccessfully to put something epic together but just narrowly surpassed the average mark. **1/4
Final Thoughts: This one was all over the map. There were some moments that would be at home on a single brand PPV, but this is the biggest show of the year — the Super Bowl of wrestling. Even Rey's title win celebration, which should have been the defining moment of the PPV, was rushed so they could get to the Pillow Fight. It certainly didn't feel like the culmination of a series of storylines — more like just another day at the office. There are enough good moments to lift it above a total failure, but I can't recommend the show in good conscience.