WM PPV Countdown: #9 – WrestleMania 22

This ranking may seem high to some, but from a nostalgia perspective this is one of my favorite WrestleMania events off all time. Thanks to hosting a little WrestleMania party with some of best friends in grad school this card brings back good memories. While there isn’t one standout match that will forever be linked to the show there are a lot of really good matches and memorable moments that combine to make a really solid and fun show. The company also showed how to use a good use of airtime as they were able to comfortably fit eleven matches on the card. Barring the unneeded Playboy Pillow Fight that caused the World Title triple threat match to be cut short, everything got the right amount of time and flowed to make a good event.

After the success of the first Money in the Bank Ladder match at WrestleMania 21, the match was brought back at WrestleMania 22, this time featuring a mix of stars from both RAW and SmackDown and a mix of talents, including the rookie Bobby Lashley, old warhorses Ric Flair and Finlay and ladder match specialists Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin and the winner Rob Van Dam. The unorthodox ladder match wasn’t the only wild specialty match on the card

Undertaker continued his undefeated streak alive by beating Mark Henry in a casket match that was fairly nondescript other than Undertaker’s insane dive over the top rope and casket onto Henry. It was just another in the long line of Undertaker versus super heavyweight monsters that have happened over his career. Mick Foley also got his much-wanted WrestleMania moment as he took on Edge in a hardcore match that saw Edge spear the Hardcore Legend through a ringside table that was engulfed in flames.

Not be outdone, “Mr. WrestleMania” Shawn Michaels and the WWE Chairman Vince McMahon battled each other in a No Holds Barred match that was also far better than expected. McMahon has always been known to go above and beyond in his major pay per events, and Michaels gained his “Mr. WrestleMania” moniker by simply putting on the best match on the card every year. The formula was right for a wild match and the two consummate professionals did not disappoint. The finish that saw Michaels nail an elbow from high a top a ladder onto a prone McMahon, who was on a table and buried in a trash can, was a WrestleMania moment in and of itself.

Trish Stratus defended her Women’s Championship against Mickie James that was the culmination arguably the greatest women’s division storyline in WWE history, but also the greatest women’s match on North American pay per view of the decade. Mickie started out as a stalker-ish fan of Trish’s only for it to turn into something Fatal Attraction-ish. Mickie won the match and the Title and gained new fans with the typically jaded Chicago crowd.

Both the World Title main events delivered, but for different reasons. In the World Title triple threat match, Rey Mysterio beat Randy Orton and reigning Champion Kurt Angle in as good of a match as one can have in under ten minutes. Knowing their time was short going into the bout, the match was full throttle and no filler with one high impact move after another. Mysterio winning the Championship was mercifully the blowoff to the truly awful “Eddie Guerrero memorial” storyline that was Mysterio wrestle every match in the memory of his deceased friend and fend off uncomfortable taunts about it from villains like Orton.

The main event WWE Title match between John Cena and Triple H felt like a true WrestleMania worthy main event. Both men entered with overblown entrances (something Cena has become expected for now) and wildly hot crowd that made the atmosphere great. Cena had really been feeling backlash from fans since August 2005 but on this night on Chicago, the crowd hatred for the vanilla babyface John Cena was at a fever pitch. The male crowd took to Triple H as their favorite, tired of Cena’s clean-cut superhero façade, while the women and children still supported Cena in full. The wholly invested crowd added to the sheer drama of the main event level action. When Cena made Triple H tap out clean as a whistle to the STF, it caused not only an uproar from the fans inside the Allstate Arena but from those inside the home of yours truly. Whether a fan likes Cena or hates him, he is sure to draw a reaction of some kind from everyone watching.

Match Results:
– Viscera won an 18-man battle royal live before the pay per view went on the air. The match was included as a DVD extra. Other participants included Snitsky, Eugene, Goldust, Tyson Tomko, Rob Conway, Lance Cade, Trevor Murdoch, Matt Striker, The Mexicools (Super Crazy & Psicosis), Funaki, Stevie Richards, MNM (Johnny Nitro & Joey Mercury), Road Warrior Animal, William Regal, and Simon Dean.
– Kane & The Big Show (c) beat Chris Masters & Carlito to retain the World Tag Team Championships.
– Rob Van Dam won a Money in the Bank Ladder Match. Other participants included Bobby Lashley, Matt Hardy, Ric Flair, Finlay and Shelton Benjamin.
– John “Bradshaw” Layfield (c) beat Chris Benoit to retain the WWE United States Championship.
– Edge beat Mick Foley in a Hardcore Match.
– The Boogeyman beat King Booker.
– Mickie James pinned Trish Stratus (c) to win the WWE Women’s Championship.
– The Undertaker beat Mark Henry in a Casket Match.
– Shawn Michaels pinned Mr. McMahon in a No Holds Barred Match.
– Rey Mysterio beat Randy Orton and Kurt Angle (c) in a triple threat match to win the World Heavyweight Championship.
– Torrie Wilson beat Candice Michelle in a Playboy Pillow Fight.
– John Cena (c) beat Triple H to retain the WWE Championship.

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