From the Bowery: WrestleMania 22
-Allstate Arena, Rosemont, IL
-April 2, 2006
Announce Team: Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler (RAW); Michael Cole and Tazz (SmackDown)
-Michelle Williams (Destiny’s Child) gets the honors of singing “America the Beautiful.”
-The opening video package, as always, is a thing of beauty. “I Dare You” made for a perfect song with this package. Lots of memories and a nice touch showing the changes in HHH, Shawn, Vince, Taker, and Angle throughout their WrestleMania careers.
-Kane and Show won the Tag Titles at Taboo Tuesday from Cade and Murdoch. Carlito and Masters had been showing signs dissention since January at New Year’s Revolution. There, Carlito turned on Masters during the WWE Title Elimination Chamber match. They decided to give the team another chance here. Kane and Masters start out and Masters controls with a side headlock. He powers Kane down early, so Kane decides to use his aerial game. He actually breaks out a leap frog and nails a stunned Masters with a dropkick. Air Kane! Show gets the tag and he chops the flex out of Master’s chest. Masters gets a thumb to the eye in and makes the tag to Carlito. The crowd gives him a massive response and soon a “Carlito” chant starts. Unfortunately he gets mauled by Show and gets press slammed to the floor onto Masters. Kane follows down off the top rope to the floor on both men. Show brings Carlito back in by his afro. Carlito exposed the turnbuckle pad in his corner earlier in the match, and he hits a dropkick to the knees that sends Show head first into the exposed steel. Show gets flap jacked by both heels, but he is able to make the hot tag. Kane destroys Carlito and Masters. He heads back up top and it finally backfires as Masters catches him with the Masterlock on the way down. Big Show breaks that up to many boos from the crowd. Carlito hits Kane with the backstabber, but Show breaks the pin. A chop block from Masters sends Show to the floor. Kane sets up for a chokeslam and Masters tries to break, but he hits Carlito by mistake. He gets sent to the floor and Carlito is easy pickings for Kane as he hits the chokeslam to finish things at 6:41. After the match the heels argue and the crowd is clearly behind Carlito.
Winners and Still World Tag Team Champions: Kane and Big Show via Kane pin on Carlito
-Basically an extended squash as Masters and Carlito were only able to get their finishers in between taking a beating. Short and inoffensive match however it got the crowd pumped for the rest of the show, so Mission Accomplished. Show and Kane would drop the straps the next night on RAW to the Spirit Squad. *1/2
Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Matt Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin (reigning IC Champ) vs. Finlay vs. Ric Flair vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Rob Van Dam
-This year the MITB Ladder Match included superstars from both brands, and that gives us all 4 commentators for this match. Big brawl to start and the crowd immediately starts chanting for RVD. Flair gets military pressed by Lashley in a spot he should be quite familiar with thanks to all his matches with Luger. Hardy immediately goes for the ladder and RVD sling shots over the top onto Hardy and the ladder. Benjamin wastes no time in stealing the show as he runs up a ladder leaning on the ropes and dives off onto everyone else in the match with a senton. Shelton is absolutely insane. Back in the ring Hardy and Flair do battle on the ladder, and in a spot nobody saw coming, Flair gets suplexed from the top off the ladder. Holy Hell! Flair gets carried to the back and the crowd gives him a nice hand for his efforts. RVD tries to hit Rolling Thunder on Benjamin, but he moves and RVD hits the ladder with a splat. Ouch! Lashley tries to climb and he isn’t that comfortable on the ladder it seems. Shelton meets him up there and tries to bring Lashley down with the sunset flip powerbomb, but Lashley hangs on. Finlay and Hardy give Benjamin an assist and Lashley finally gets powerbombed. Finlay tosses a ladder at Hardy and he’s the only one left in the ring. That brings Flair back, and Finlay meets him on the floor. They brawl there and Finlay gets tossed into the security wall. Flair tries to climb, but Benjamin and Hardy stop him. Flair fights them off with chops and is able to get his hands on the briefcase, but Finlay returns. He hammers Flair with the shillelagh and that sends him crashing to the mat. Lashley returns and he flattens Benjamin with a dominator. Again he looks too damn uncomfortable on the ladder (which is kind of nice to see in a sense) and before he can get to the briefcase RVD hits the Van Daminator off the top rope. Hardy comes off another ladder to drop a leg on Lashley. Now Matt climbs and looks to have a clear path, but Finlay stops him. They fight on the ladder and Matt snaps off a Side Effect to a nice pop. RVD climbs another ladder and hits the 5 star frog splash (kind of) on Finlay. Now RVD seems to be the only one left as he makes his way up the ladder. Out of nowhere Shelton springs off the top rope and lands on the ladder like Spiderman to break the attempt. Benjamin is a crazy, freak of nature. Hardy sets up another ladder and tries to sneak in while RVD and Benjamin fight. Benjamin crosses over to Hardy’s ladder and they do battle. This gives RVD an opening as he tips over their ladder and they crash to the floor. That leaves Van Dam all alone and he grabs the briefcase at 12:21.
Winner: Rob Van Dam via briefcase retrieval at 12:21
-Chaotic spot fest with crazy bumps from people you wouldn’t expect. Lashley seemed a little out of place compared to everyone else, but I kind of liked that aspect. Benjamin stole the show again, and everyone else more than held their own. Not as good as the previous year, but still damn entertaining. ***3/4
-Randy Orton talks about the World Title match, but he is interrupted by Batista. He promises that whoever wins the title is just holding it until he returns from injury and that come WrestleMania 23 he will be champion. Big Dave 4 Booker!
-Howard Finkle informs us Hall of Fame member Bret Hart was no comfortable taking place in the following activities. The Class of 2006 (minus Bret) is introduced to the crowd: Gene Okerlund, Sensational Sherri, Tony Atlas, Verne Gagne, William “The Refrigerator” Perry, The Blackjacks, and Eddie Guerrero (accepted by Vickie Guerrero). Big reaction for Eddie as one would expect.
-Benoit won the title from Booker T back at No Way Out in February. This should be quite the stiff match between these two. Nick Patrick is the ref in this match which is a nice little touch considering the title on the line. Benoit immediately goes to the crossface, but JBL doesn’t give Benoit a chance to lock the hold in completely. They battle on the ground with heavy blows and headbutts. Benoit seems pissed at not being able to get the crossface and starts throwing rights to the back of JBL’s head. Benoit fires off some chops, but a blind charge eats a boot from JBL. Now he makes the mistake of charging and gets caught with an arm drag. That gives Benoit an opening and he opts for the sharpshooter, but JBL breaks before the hold is applied. They fight to the floor and JBL uses Jillian as a shield. That gives him the chance to thumb Benoit in the eye. Back in the ring JBL hits a sick boot to the face. He misses a blind charge of his own, and Benoit hits the Triple Germans. He signals for the end and looks to fly, but JBL shakes the top rope and that causes Benoit to crotch himself. JBL goes for the cheap heat by mocking Eddie and brings Benoit down with a superplex. He mocks Eddie some more and looks for the Three Amigos, but Benoit counters on suplex #3. JBL stays in control though and goes to work on the arm/shoulder of Benoit with a nerve hold. He adds to the hold by applying a chinlock. Benoit is able to get to his feet and breaks the hold with a belly to back suplex. Patrick gets to a 7 count, but both men get to their feet where they exchange blows. Benoit gains the advantage and hits his version of the Three Amigos. He heads up top and flies ¾ of the way across the ring with the headbutt. Nice! Somehow JBL is able to get out at the count of two however. Benoit misses a charge and JBL tries for the clothesline from hell, but Benoit ducks. He looks for another German, but JBL counters and looks for the clothesline from hell again. This time Benoit catches him with the crossface to a nice pop from the crowd. JBL fights as long as he can, and then cheats to win by rolling over and using the ropes for added leverage to get the pin and title at 9:47.
Winner and New United States Champion: JBL via pin at 9:47
-Not as good of a match as most had expected coming into this. There were some nice stiff shots, and what they did was good enough, but it never seemed to really hit a higher gear. Given more time and a few more matches together these two probably could have developed some decent chemistry, but it just wasn’t to be here for whatever reason. **1/4
Hardcore Rules: Edge (w/ Lita) vs. Mick Foley
-Edge cashed in his Money in the Bank shot at New Year’s Revolution in January and defeated Cena for the WWE Title. The reign only lasted a few weeks as Cena regained the title at the Rumble. Edge exercised his rematch clause and when he lost he blamed the special ref for the match: Mick Foley. Thus a feud was born and Edge was determined to steal the show because he wasn’t in the title picture any longer. Foley was more than happy to oblige. Joey Styles joins Lawler on commentary for this match in a nice gesture. See Styles replaced Ross in October, but apparently he wasn’t enough like JR, so he got bumped from Mania. Seeing how that was kind of a scummy thing to do to Styles (as this was his first Mania) he was thrown a bone with this match. Edge comes to the ring in his street gear with a ball bat as he is ready for war. Foley comes down sporting some black flannel as he looks pretty pissed. That usually makes for the best Mick. I’ll also mention that Lita looks pretty damn fine here. The sleazier she got with Edge the better she looked. Let that be a lesson to any woman reading this review (yeah, right). Edge misses with the bat and Foley unloads in the corner with some right hands. Edge gets hung in the tree of woe and the Cactus elbow follows. He celebrates with the crowd and that gives Edge his chance. Lita tosses him a cookie sheet and Foley loses some brain cells rather early in this one. A caution sign gets used next and Edge goes Tommy Dreamer as he hits a basement dropkick onto the sign and Foley. Edge sets for the spear and when he hits it, he sells the damage more than Foley does. We see why as Foley shows the barbed wire wrapped around his midsection. Nice touch, but doesn’t have anything on Bret Hart’s defense of Goldberg’s spear. Foley breaks out some wire cutters and uses the strands of wire to rip Edge apart. Sweet! Edge gets tied in the ropes and Foley grabs the barbed wire baseball bat from under the steps. Lita jumps on his back, so Foley delivers the Cactus clothesline to the floor on Edge with Lita on his back. That was a nasty bump by Lita actually. Foley looks for the running knee, but Edge counters with a hiptoss that sends Foley into the steps. Damn! That’s not enough though as Foley gets fired into the steps in his always impressive manner. I always appreciated the way Foley took that bump. He just runs through the steps and crashes over them instead of falling into them gingerly with his shoulder. Edge places Foley on a table and looks for splash from the top rope, but Mick just rolls off the table. Edge follows and slams the back of Foley’s head off the steel ramp. Nasty! Things get creative now as Edge doses Foley with lighter fluid. That only serves to piss Foley off and he hits a sweet piledriver. He looks to destroy Edge with the conchairto, but again, Lita proves her worth by distracting Foley. Edge regains the advantage and uses Barbie on Mick. A nice shot to the face draws some blood from Foley and things open up more as he rubs the wire across his forehead. That only musters a 2 count though. Edge is clearly frustrated and he heads out to the floor to grab a bag of tacks. It comes back to bite him in the ass though as Foley sends Edge into the tacks with a belly to back suplex. Awesome! Nice shot shows the tacks in Edge’s bare back with blood trickling. Foley breaks out Socko and to make things hardcore he wraps him with barbed wire. Both Edge and Lita get a taste of Socko and it draws blood from Lita’s mouth. Nice, though I'm sure she's had worse things in her mouth. Speaking of Edge, he gets abused with the barbed wire ball bat and starts bleeding from the head. Foley remembers there is a table on the floor and grabs the bottle of lighter fluid. He soaks the table as the crowd starts to come alive. Lita returns and destroys Foley’s balls with the barbed wire bat. She saturates the table more and sets the table on fire. Edge charges and hits a spear that sends both men flying off the apron and through the flaming table on the floor. Holy Fuck! Naturally that’s enough for the pin at 14:37. The look on Edge’s face after the match is tremendous. We get three replays of the table spot and Edge is a crazy bastard for diving face first into a flaming table. There's another joke to be made about Lita there, but I like her, so I'll be nice. Foley gets a standing ovation from the crowd as he leaves with a smile on his face.
Winner: Edge via pin after spear through a flaming table at
-This was my Match of the Year for 2006 and I still stand by that. These two were determined to steal the show and that’s exactly what they did here. They built to all the crazy ass spots instead of just doing them for no real reason. Edge was being pushed to the moon and this is one of the matches that helped him on his way to the top. ****1/2
-Booker and Sharmell run into various freaks in the back. Funny segment actually and Ted Dibiase shows everyone up with his trademark laugh at the end.
Booker T and Sharmell vs. The Boogeyman
-Nice touch as Booker and Sharmell are freaked out by their pyro as they make their way to the ring. You kind of feel bad for Booker being put in this spot, but the man’s a pro and he would be rewarded shortly after this fiasco. The Boogeyman was an interesting character at first and they could have done something better with him, but they went in a kid friendly direction. Booker makes Sharmell start the match and that’s actually pretty funny. She quickly tags out though after Booker gets in a cheap shot. Booker controls early with some clubbering and uses the bottom rope to choke the Boogeyman. The crowd is already bored with the match, and is quiet for the first time tonight. Boogeyman rallies, but a missed clothesline is turned into a bookend. That gets a two count for Booker. He misses the axe kick however, and Boogey sends him shoulder first into the ring post. Boogey takes time to chow down on some worms. Sharmell tries to use Boogeyman’s staff, but he catches her and kisses her with the mouthful of worms. She's had worse in her...eh, nevermind. Sharmell runs off and Booker gets finished with the double choke bomb at 3:52.
Winner: The Boogeyman via pin at 3:52
-Horrible match, and even at just under 4 minutes it seemed too long. The Boogeyman did nothing other than eat some worms, and hit his finisher. Thankfully, Booker was given a push following this with his King Booker gimmick and a decent run with the World Title. DUD
WWE Women’s Championship: Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James
-Mickie debuted the previous fall as Trish’s idol and #1 fan. James wanted more than a friendly relationship, and Trish wouldn’t go there. Mickie went off the deep end and we got the most interesting storyline the women’s division had ever seen. The video package covers everything nicely. The best moment during the feud came when Mickie (with a bloody nose) killed Trish with a modified ddt and then kissed her unconscious body. The crowd (mainly consisting of 18-39 year old males) is solidly behind Mickie and that baffles Jim Ross for some reason. Stiff tie up to start and Trish hits a Thesz press much like Austin with right hands included. They battle in the corner and Mickie eats some chops. Mickie tries a kick, but Trish catches the boot and yanks James down into a split position. The fight heads to the floor and Trish tries a Chic Kick, but it connects with the ring post. Trish sells the damage pretty well and Mickie finally takes control after hitting a nasty drop kick to the damaged knee. The crowd starts a massive “Let’s Go Mickie” chant, and JR calls them defiant. Mickie breaks out a single leg Boston crab to continue the work on the knee. She even uses the hair to add some leverage to the hold. Nice! Mickie continues to destroy the knee in impressive fashion and that only gets her more over with the crowd. Trish fights out of a knee bar and gets a head scissors to stop James. Trish starts to fire off some rights, hits two clotheslines, and gets a spinebuster for two. She looks for the head scissors off the top rope, but Mickie counters by dropping her injured knee over the top rope. Nasty! Mickie jumps in to get the X-rated cover for two. The crowd loved that. James looks for a head scissors of her own, but Trish hits a running powerbomb for two. Trish looks for Stratusfaction, but Mickie counters by fondling Trish in her neither regions. Sadly, the WWE cut out Mickie licking her fingers on the DVD. Bastards! They also cut out the botched Stratusfaction, and cut right to Mickie ending things with the chic kick at 8:32.
Winner and New WWE Women’s Champion: Mickie James via pin at 8:32
-This was pretty damn good outside the botched ending. With it being cut out of the DVD though it comes off a little better even if it is a little disjointed. The crowd loved the match because of Mickie and she played off things well. It just sucks they dropped the interesting aspect of her character when she turned face. They did the same damn thing with Victoria too. ***
-All 4 members of the McMahon clan (well, 5 members if you count the fetus in Steph) prepare for Vince’s match with Shawn. Vince leads the family in the greatest prayer you’ll ever hear. “God, you don’t like me, and I don’t like you.” Awesome!
Casket Match: Mark Henry vs. The Undertaker
-I really thought this was going to be the last match of Henry’s career in the WWE. For all the crap Mark takes, I do have a soft spot for the big man, and he’s played whatever role the company has asked pretty well. Unlike last year though there was no suspense over if the streak was going to be broken. Taker is 13-0 heading into this match for those keeping track at home. The main story here is that Henry is showing no fear, and he immediately attacks Taker before the opening bell. He mauls Taker to start and corners him. Taker is able to get a boot up though to stop a corner charge. He tries to take Henry off his feet with multiple clotheslines, but it does no good. Henry is able to hit him own clothesline and they take the fight to the floor. Taker blocks a trip into the steps, but Henry is determined and a second try sends Taker head first into said steps. They head back in the ring and Taker hits some punches before attempting old school. Henry’s not down with that and breaks by simply punching Taker in the stomach. Well that’s pretty damn effective. The casket lid gets opened and Henry tries to roll Taker in, but he’s still got life. Taker starts to fire back and works the shoulder. That sets up old school for a second time, and this time it works. Henry still hasn’t been knocked off his feet however, and he quickly regains the advantage. They brawl in the casket with neither man really getting an advantage, so they fight back into the ring. Okay then. Taker looks for the leaping clothesline, but Henry catches him with the World’s Strongest Slam. He goes for the cover, but soon realizes that’s not going to work in this match. Henry mounts Taker in the corner much like others have done against Taker, and sure enough he ends up eating a last ride just like every other Taker opponent. Henry ends up on the floor, so Taker hits Air Dead Man as he clears not only the top rope, but also the casket. Sweet! Once back in the ring a tombstone follows and Henry gets rolled into the casket. Taker closes the lid to finish things at 9:26.
Winner: The Undertaker via tossing Henry into the casket at 9:26
-Better than I would have anticipated as they kept things moving and went with more of a power match. No rest holds was a plus and Taker hit his signature spots to keep the crowd happy. **
-Great video recap of the Shawn/Vince feud that naturally included a shit load of Montreal references. Really this was the best thing they could give us since Bret/Vince wasn’t going to happen.
No Holds Barred: Vince McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels
-McMahon knows his limitations, and thankfully he always makes sure his matches at WrestleMania are either Street Fights or No Holds Barred. Jim Ross is absolutely gold on commentary during this match because of his hatred for McMahon. And that all stems from the Dr Hynie skit and the McMahon family firing of Ross on RAW the previous fall. Vince comes to the ring looking more orange than normal as he obviously slept in a tanning bed for about a month straight it seems. And people call Hogan the Orange Goblin. Vince poses on the floor next to a portrait of his Muscle and Fitness magazine cover. Shawn doesn’t wait for a bell, attacks McMahon on the floor, and sends him onto the RAW announce table. The crowd starts a massive “We want Bret” chant, but sadly, Bret really was gone. Once back in the ring, Shawn frames Vince with the Muscle and Fitness portrait. The Spirit Squad hit the ring and they destroy Shawn with their 5 man cheerleader toss. Kenny misses the jackknife top rope leg drop, and that gives Shawn an opening. He blasts every member of the SS with a megaphone, and sends Kenny flying over the top rope onto every other member. The Spirit Squad did their job though as Vince comes back with a clothesline. He works Shawn over in the corner as the crowd starts a “Steroids” chant. Heh! McMahon removes his belt and rips into the back of Shawn in rather impressive fashion. Vince chokes Shawn with the belt, but Michaels is able to battle back to his feet. He immediately gets grounded again as McMahon uses the belt to assist with a clothesline. In a funny moment Vince mocks Bret Hart before tuning up the band. That’s so wrong on many different levels. Shawn catches the boot though and gets his hands on the belt. JR is Michael’s #1 cheerleader as Shawn lays into Vince with some vicious belt shots. The flying elbow follows and now Shawn tunes up the band. No dice though as Shane comes out of nowhere to light up Shawn’s world with a kendo stick. Damn! Shane has a set of handcuffs, but Vince wants to induct Shawn back into the Kiss my Ass Club. That doesn’t work out so well as Shane ends up getting “his face buried in his daddy’s crack” (to quote JR). Shawn punches Vince in the balls and then handcuffs Shane to the middle rope. He mocks Shane’s dance and then wears him out with the kendo stick. He grabs a chair from under the ring and gives Vince one of the scariest chair shots you will ever see. Just an absolutely sickening sound and Vince is showing the results as he is bleeding from the top of his head. Shawn tunes up the band, but he stops because Vince hasn’t had enough yet. Shawn grabs a ladder from under the ring, and Vince takes it like a champ flush on his forehead. Sick! The band gets tuned again, but again, Shawn still doesn’t want to finish. He heads back to the floor and grabs a table and some garbage cans. Vince is wearing a crimson mask and stumbles into a shot from one of the garbage cans. Shawn sets the table up in the middle of the ring and lays Vince on it. Shawn climbs the ladder, but he still isn’t satisfied. He climbs back down, gets rids of the ladder, and heads back to the floor. Shane takes another right hand, and Shawn pulls out a 16 foot ladder. That really can't be healthy. In his DVD Shawn mentioned this ladder was a little too big, but he really didn’t have a choice when he got up there. Shawn places a garbage can over Vince’s head and puts him back on the table. Now the crowd is buzzing and Shawn gets a sadistic grin on his face as he climbs the ladder. A DX crotch chop (first one seen in years) from Shawn right before he flies and destroys Vince, the garbage can, and the table with an elbow from the ladder. Holy Shit! Vince is a man for taking that spot considering he had no clue when it was coming. The doctors come down to check on Vince, but Shawn chases them off so he can get one last shot at Vince. He pulls Vince to his feet and tells him he is going to knock his teeth down this throat. Sweet Chin Music finally hits and that’s enough to end things at 18:28. Vince makes my day by flipping Shawn the middle finger while being carted out on the stretcher. Ever the showman, Vince! Ever the showman!
Winner: Shawn Michaels via pin at 18:28
-Shawn damn sure tried to steal the show again, and he about succeeded. This was the ass kicking that everyone had ever hoped to see Vince take, and the only thing that would have made it better was if it was Bret in there instead of Shawn. This is a fun match to watch, and it shows what lengths Vince will go to make sure he doesn’t stink up the joint at WrestleMania. Also don’t want to leave out JR’s contribution as he was having the time of his life calling this match. ***1/2
-Batista had carried the strap from WrestleMania 21 until January when the unimaginable, unthinkable, and incomprehensible happened: He got injured. They decided to crown a new champion via a battle royal and the surprise entrant was RAW’s Kurt Angle. Kurt won rather easily and fended off challenges from Mark Henry and The Undertaker. Rey won the Royal Rumble and set a new record time in the event in honor of Eddie Guerrero. He was now the #1 contender, but lost that status in a match with Orton. Teddy Long added Rey back into the mix and thus we have a Triple Threat Match. P.O.D play Rey to the ring as he is decked out in some Aztec head gear, and the crowd doesn’t seem all that impressed. Orton looks pretty damn big here compared to what we see from him now. Actually, the same could be said for the other 2 men in this match as well. The crowd is clearly behind Kurt because he is Kurt Fucking Angle. In a great spot Orton grabs the belt and blasts Angle before the bell rings to take him out of the match. Orton toys with Mysterio for a bit, but Kurt returns to suplex the piss out of him. In an awesome moment Kurt delivers a German suplex to both men and that only gets him more over with the crowd. I miss having Kurt at WrestleMania. Orton gets set on the top rope and Rey sends Angle head first into his crotch. Rey charges, and Kurt alley-oops him up to Orton where he takes him down with a rana. Sweet! Orton now gets sent to the floor so Kurt and Rey can have a go. Rey gets a two count off a round kick to the temple. A “6-1-9” chant starts from some and the rest of the crowd boos. Heh! Rey ties the 6-1-9, but Rey counters to the ankle lock, and Rey taps. Sadly, Orton had the ref distracted, so no decision. Angle gets good and pissed and starts destroying both men with suplexes including sending Rey to the floor with an Angle Slam. Orton gets put in the ankle lock, and he taps, but this time Rey had the ref. Mysterio drops the dime from the top rope onto Angle (still having the ankle lock on Orton), and gets a two count. Orton sells the piss out of the ankle, and Rey gets sent shoulder first into the post. Kurt pulls down the straps, but Orton counters an angle slam into a RKO for a hot near fall. Orton gets desperate and heads to the top rope, but that gives Angle the opportunity to hit the pop up suplex. Rey messes up a 6-1-9 on the apron with the ring post to Kurt, but is able to get a seated senton for two. Angle gets sent to the floor by Orton, and he tries to pick the bones of Rey. Randy hits a sweet hangman’s neckbreaker, but Rey gets a shoulder up at two. Orton sets for the RKO, but Kurt returns to deliver an Angle Slam for two. Now Kurt sets for an Angle Slam to Rey, but he counters to an arm drag that sends Kurt to the floor. Rey hits a quick 6-1-9 on Orton and gets the West Coast Pop for the win and World Title at 9:16. Really, only 9 minutes? The crowd gives Rey his props because of the moment, but they were clearly behind Angle in this one. Rey gets emotional as he celebrates, and he is joined on stage by Chavo and Vicky.
Winner and New World Champion: Rey Mysterio via pin on Orton at 9:16
-This was a damn fine match for 9 minutes. All three men just went balls to the walls and delivered total non-stop action (for lack of a better term). Angle looked like a total bad ass as he dominated the match, and forced both men to tap. It’s criminal they only got 9 minutes for a World Title Match, and Rey’s moment probably could have ended the show, but in the long run it wasn’t that big of a deal. ***1/2
Playboy Pillow Fight: Candice Michelle vs. Torrie Wilson (w/ Chloe)
-Both ladies are wrestling while wearing evening gowns with a bed and pillows in the ring. Torrie hits a suplex and backdrops Candice onto the bed. She turns the bed over onto Candice and stands on it. Torrie uses her dog, Chloe, to give Candice a stinkface. Wow! Torrie rips the gown off Candice, but JR reiterates this is pin fall or submission only. Candice gains her first advantage and does the go daddy dance on the floor. Nice! The ref put the bed back in place, and Torrie gets placed on it. Candice thinks outside the box and uses some scissors to cut off Torrie’s dress. Now we have both women in their bra and panties (not that I’m complaining), and this thing is starting to drag a little. The crowd starts a “Hogan/Austin” chant just as Torrie gets a roll-up to end things at 3:55. JR said it best when the match ended, “Put away the bowling shoes.”
Winner: Torrie Wilson via pin at 3:55
-Just a bumper between the two World Title matches that featured hot women wrestling in their underwear. Again, not that I'm complaining. DUD
-HHH won a tournament on RAW to become the #1 contender. He defeated the Big Show and RVD in a triple threat match in the finals. The story here is that HHH thinks of Cena as nothing but a joke and thinks this will be the easiest match of his career. They went Rocky IV with the build to this match as HHH was shown having all the best training (like Drago) and Cena was the tough up start from the streets (like Rocky). Funny thing happened though as everyone started believing what HHH was saying and Cena was suddenly the most hated man in Chicago. The WWE tried to cover this by saying the crowd was more traditional and thus HHH is the fan favorite. HHH gets an awesome Conan The Barbarian entrance as he rises to the stage on a big ass throne. Sure, it looks goofy, but it's so over the top it comes back to being awesome. Cena tries to one up him by having Al Capone style gangster’s drive to the ring (one being CM Punk who plays the role for everything he’s got) before he makes his entrance brandishing a machinegun. Now we see why the World Title match only got 9 minutes. The crowd absolutely roasts Cena as he makes his entrance by the way. Slow start as HHH treats Cena like a jobber. The crowd loves HHH, and even JR has to acknowledge what’s happening. He should have used the same strategy with Hogan/Rock 4 years earlier instead of calling it a split crowd all night long. HHH out wrestles Cena to start as one would expect and continues to treat him like a jobber. You almost feel bad for Cena here. Well, at least I did when I watched this live. “Fuck You Cena,” chant from the crowd. Classy! Cena immediately tries for the FU, but HHH slides out and lands a hard right hand. HHH buries a knee and sends Cena to the outside. He plays to the crowd and Cena jumps him from behind with some right hands. A back body drop gets a two count, and Cena gets another one off a fisherman’s suplex. Chicago let’s Cena know he can’t wrestle. Now some Cena fans speak up as they chant “Let’s Go Cena.” The haters make sure to answer back with “Fuck You Cena.” God Bless this crowd. HHH gets sent over the top rope to the floor and the two men brawl on the ramp. HHH looks for a pedigree, but he ends up eating a backdrop on the steel ramp. Back inside the ring Cena gets a rough cover for one. He ducks a clothesline but runs flush into a high knee. Now HHH has had enough of this wrestling shit and starts to punch and choke away on Cena. They head back to the floor and Cena gets tossed shoulder first into the steps. HHH plays to the crowd back inside the ring as he seems to be enjoying his new found fan support. HHH controls in the ring with his patented offense and gets a two count off a knee drop. Cena is able to get in few shots, but he sets to early on a backdrop attempt and eats another knee. HHH then rips his head off with a nasty clothesline for two. Damn! He continues the work on the neck with a nice neck breaker. That also only gets two however. Cena goes back to the right hands, and once again sets too early on a backdrop attempt. That’s the fourth time he has tried that move. Perhaps he can’t wrestle after all. HHH gets a swinging neckbreaker for another near fall. He continues the pressure on the neck with a neck vice and then opts to use a sleeper. Cena starts to fade as the crowd entertains themselves with another dueling chant over whether he sucks or not. Cena powers himself back to his feet and pushes HHH into the corner where he uses some shoulder blocks to break. HHH bounces off the ropes and runs flush into a stiff clothesline from Cena. The ref starts his count, but HHH gets to his feet first. The two men exchange rights and we get the now famous “Boo”, “Yay” exchange from the crowd depending on who is landing the right hand. Cena gets the advantage and tells HHH he can’t see him, but apparently he can as he catches John with a spinebuster for two. Crowd loved that exchange. Cena hits a few shoulder blocks, but runs right back into the sleeper. It doesn’t last long though as Cena breaks with a belly to back suplex and follows with the 5 knuckle shuffle. HHH counters an FU, but Cena counters that and traps HHH in the STFU. The hold is broken once Hunter crawls to the bottom rope. Cena goes for the FU again, but HHH slides off and shoves Cena into the ref. For added measure he delivers a low blow to both Cena and HHH at the same time. HHH gives a DX crotch chop of his own (huge pop for that) and then gets the sledgehammer. Cena gets caught with it, but the ref is slow to make the count, and that proves to be the difference as Cena gets out at two. HHH tries another cover, but again Cena is out at two. HHH tries the pedigree, but Cena counters and hits the FU. HHH is able to kick out at two, and Cena doesn’t know what else to do. I reccomend anything but another backdrop attempt. He finally decides to head up top and misses a crossbody. HHH goes right back for the pedigree, but Cena counters to the STFU. The crowd begs for HHH not to tap, but he shocks the hell out of everyone in the arena (and me when I was watching live) as he taps clean at WrestleMania for the 2nd time in 3 years at 22:01. The camera pans the crowd and the reactions on some faces are priceless. The crowd is actually pretty damn quiet as they are in shock at what just happened. We don’t even get much celebration time from Cena as they immediately cut to the recap package (awesome as always).
Winner and Still WWE Champion: John Cena via tap-out at 22:01
-Lots of drama in this match, and the crowd reactions were insane. Technically this wasn’t nearly as good as the World Title match, but it had a more epic feel due to the crowd and that fact it was given over twice the time. Personally, I enjoyed this match more than some, but not as much as I did back in 2006. ***1/2
Top 5 WrestleMania Matches (To this Point):
1) IC Title: Randy Savage vs Ricky Steamboat *****
2) Submission Match: Bret Hart vs Steve Austin *****
3) Kurt Angle vs Shawn Michaels *****
4) World Title: HHH vs Shawn Michaels vs Chris Benoit *****
5) WWF Title: The Rock vs Steve Austin II *****
The 411: This is a pretty solid show as both title matches deliver in one aspect or another. Shawn tries to steal the show again, but Edge and Foley take that honor is a crazy ass brawl. This was the last Mania held in an arena and it's a fun atmosphere because of the jacked up crowd. Throw in another solid Money in the Bank Match, and a memorable Woman's Title match, and you have a fun show all around!