A2Z Analysiz: WWE WrestleMania 22 (Triple H, John Cena)

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All-State Arena – Chicago, IL – Sunday April 2, 2006

MATCH #1: World Tag Team Championship Match – Big Show & Kane vs. Carlito & Chris Masters

Show and Kane have been the Champions since 11.1.05, and this is their sixth defense. Kane and Masters start the match. Masters tries a headlock and knocks Kane down with a shoulderblock. Incredibly Kane comes back with a leapfrog and a dropkick. Show tags in and throws Masters around a bit. Masters rakes Show’s eyes and races over to make a tag. Carlito tries a knuckle lock for some reason and Show simply picks him up and drops him on the top rope. Masters tries to come to the rescue and Show press slams him. Show press slams Carlito to the floor on top of Masters. Kane goes up top and wipes them both out with a flying clothesline. Show brings Carlito back into the ring the hard way. Carlito goes low with a dropkick, sending Show’s head into the exposed top turnbuckle. Masters and Carlito then join forces to hit a Flapjack. The challengers are in control now but it doesn’t last long. They try a double suplex but Show instead suplexes both of them. Kane tags in and unleashes a flurry of offense. He goes for another flying clothesline but Masters catches him and puts on the Master Lock! Show breaks it up with a big boot and then hits Snake Eyes. Carlito hits Kane with the Backstabber. Show goes for the Chokeslam on Carlito but Masters breaks it up. Kane sits up but the challengers still have a two-on-one advantage. Some miscommunication allows Kane to get rid of Masters and then hit Carlito with a huge Chokeslam to get the pin at 6:42. That was a sold RAW style match to open the show.
Rating: **¼

MATCH #2: Money in the Bank Ladder Match – Ric Flair vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Shelton Benjamin vs. Matt Hardy vs. Finlay vs. Bobby Lashley

Benjamin is the Intercontinental Champion, just like he was last year. Lashley looks dominant in the opening minute. Benjamin cuts him off with a hard kick to the side of the head. Hardy tries to bring in the first ladder but RVD kicks it back into his face and then wipes him out with a House Show Dive. Meanwhile in the ring Benjamin uses a ladder to abuse Finlay. Benjamin angles the ladder and runs up it to hit a somersault senton on Lashley, Hardy, and RVD on the floor. That leaves Finlay and Flair in the ring and Flair takes Finlay down and tries to grab the case. Hardy joins Flair up there and superplexes him down. That’s quite a bump for Flair to take. One of the referees makes the “X” sign, which I hate. RVD and Benjamin are back in the ring and RVD tries but misses a Rolling Thunder on top of a ladder. Lashley and Benjamin climb up the ladder and Benjamin tries a sunset bomb. Finlay and Hardy have to assist in the move. The brawling continues and Flair makes his way back out. That pisses Finlay off and Flair meets him in the aisle with chops. Flair gets in the ring and climbs the ladder. Hardy pulls him down so Flair throws chops and punches at everyone. Flair goes back up and almost gets the case but Finlay climbs up and this Flair in the face with the shillelagh! Benjamin joins Finlay on the ladder and Lashley knocks them both down. Lashley hits Benjamin with the Dominator. RVD dropkicks him off the ladder with an assist from a chair. Hardy climbs up a ladder and hits Lashley with a legdrop. He goes up for the case and Finlay joins him, but Hardy brings him down with a Side Effect! RVD gets to the top of a ladder and hits Finlay with a Five-Star Frog Splash! He goes up for the case but Benjamin flies in from out of nowhere and starts throwing hands. Hardy tries to steal the case from another ladder but Benjamin stops him. RVD pushes the other ladder over and Hardy and Benjamin take a nasty bump to the floor. That leaves RVD all alone to reach up and grab the briefcase and earn the title shot at 12:15. That lacked the star power of last year’s version and didn’t have an many memorable spots, but there were a few and everyone busted tail and took some hellacious bumps.
Rating: ***¾

Hall of Fame Class of 2006

The 2006 inductees are “Mean Gene” Okerlund, “Sensational” Sherri, Tony Atlas, Verne Gagne, William “The Refigerator” Perry, The Blackjacks, and the late Eddie Guerrero. Bret “Hitman” Hart was also inducted but was uncomfortable participating in the event.

MATCH #3: United States Championship Match – Chris Benoit vs. JBL

Benoit has been the Champion since 2.19.06, and this is his first defense. JBL has Jillian in his corner. Things get heated pretty quickly and JBL asserts his power advantage, so Benoit responds by going for an early Crossface. JBL fights it off and uses a headlock. Benoit comes back and continues to work on the back of the head and the neck. Cole and Tazz wonder why Benoit is doing that. Are they THAT stupid? Benoit switches gears and tries a Sharpshooter but JBL kicks off. JBL takes a powder and uses Jillian as a shield. Jillian slaps Benoit, allowing JBL to take control. Back in the ring JBL hammers away. JBL misses a charge in the corner and Benoit hits three rolling German Suplexes. Benoit goes up top and JBL shakes the ropes to knock him down. JBL mocks Eddie Guerrero and goes up top to hit a superplex. That gets a two-count. JBL mocks Eddie again and then hits Two of the Three Amigos. Benoit fires back with knee lifts but JBL cuts him off with a big boot for a near-fall. JBL uses a chinlock to wear Benoit down until Benoit powers up with a back suplex. Both men rise and Benoit goes to work. Benoit hits the Three Amigos and then lands the diving headbutt. JBL kicks out at two. He goes for the Clothesline from Hell but Benoit catches him and locks on the Crossface! JBL rolls Benoit over and grabs the ropes for leverage to get the pin and win the title at 10:20. Benoit was just so good, and he got a solid match out of JBL here. Both guys showed solid strategy and the finish kept Benoit strong. It would have been nice to give Benoit the win to honor Eddie Guerrero after his induction into the Hall of Fame, but such is life.
Rating: **¾

MATCH #4: Hardcore Match – Mick Foley vs. Edge

It’s amazing how much Lita helped Edge’s career. Foley is wearing his usual red flannel shirt underneath another flannel shirt. Edge attacks with a baseball bat but Foley avoids it. Foley whips Edge into the turnbuckle and hits a bulldog. He follows up with the Tree of Woe. Edge recovers and boots Foley down, and tells Lita to grab him a cookie sheet. He cracks Foley’s skull with it a couple of times, and also uses a road sign. He goes for the Spear and hits it, but appears somehow injured. It turns out that Foley had wrapped barbed wire underneath his shirt, and Edge’s arm is busted open. Foley cuts the wire loose and whips Edge with it. He targets the bloody arm, and gets Edge tied up in the top and middle ropes a la Andre the Giant. Foley goes to the ring steps, where he hid his barbed wire baseball bat. Lita jumps on Foley’s back to stop him, and winds up taking a nasty bump on her ass when Foley hits the Cactus clothesline, and all three tumble to the floor. Foley gets a near fall as Joey Styles calls it “vintage Foley,” so it’s not just Michael Cole who is forced to use that term. A swinging neckbreaker also gets two. He tries the running knee to the face against the steps, but Edge recovers and hip tosses Foley right into the steps. Edge then whips Foley knees first into the steps. They go back in the ring for a few seconds, and then back to the floor. Edge sets up a table and Foley helpfully climbs up on it, and then rolls off. Foley backs up the aisle, and Edge slams the back of his head onto the steel ramp, which just sounded nasty. Now they’re back in the ring for real and Edge has some lighter fluid, and he douses Foley with it. Foley comes back with some punches and a Piledriver for two. He goes for a Con-Chair-Toe but Lita makes sure that doesn’t happen. Edge hits a DDT onto a cookie sheet for two. He then picks up the barbed wire baseball bat and goes to work, busting Foley’s head open. Even so Edge still can’t put Foley away. Edge goes to the floor and finds a bag of thumbtacks, and pours them out in the ring. Of course Edge winds up taking the bump, and Foley puts on Mr. Socko, and wraps him in barbed wire! Both Edge and Lita get a taste of that. Foley then grabs the baseball bat and hits Edge in the ribs and the back. He nails him a couple of times in the face too, and now Edge is busted open. Foley picks up the lighter fluid and sprays it all over the table Edge set up moments ago. Lita blindsides him with the barbed wire bat, and then she pours more lighter fluid on the table. She lights it on fire, and Edge comes charging at Foley and Spears him off the apron and through the burning table. That’s certainly enough to get the pin at 14:37. That felt a little bit truncated, but was still really good. They had some great spots and they pulled off the finish rather well. Edge’s post-match sell is once again awesome.
Rating: ****

MATCH #5: Boogeyman vs. Booker T & Sharmell

Booker actually has his wife start the match. It’s all a ruse though so Booker can attack Boogeyman from behind. Sharmell attacks the referee and Booker kicks Boogeyman in the junk. Booker follows up with a superkick for two. He hits the Book End but Boogeyman kicks out again. Boogeyman Boogeys Up and uses his weird offense. He produces a handful of worms and eats them. Sharmell grabs the Boogey Staff and goes to hit Boogeyman but he turns around and plants a kiss on her. That sends Sharmell running for the hills. Booker charges into the corner but misses and Boogeyman hits the Tree Slam to get the pin at 3:53. At least they kept it short.
Rating: ½*

MATCH #6: WWE Women’s Championship Match – Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James

Stratus has been the Champion since 1.9.05, and this is her eleventh defense. They lock up intensely to start and trade shots. Trish hits a Thesz Press and stomps a mudhole in Mickie. She however neglects to walk it dry. Trish unleashes some chops and then forces Mickie to do the splits. That’s unique. Trish kicks Mickie to the floor and tries a Chick Kick but makes contact with the ring post instead. Ouch. Mickie focuses on the injured leg, which is smart. Trish tries to fight back but Mickie goes low with a dropkick to cut her off. Mickie hits a Knee-D-T, a move I always liked. The crowd is supportive of Mickie James, as they have been of other heels tonight too. Mickie uses a half crab to further weaken the leg. Trish is able to catch Mickie in a headscissors and the crowd boos heartily. She hits a nice spinebuster for two. You know the crowd is booing the babyfaces hard when even Jim Ross mentions it on commentary. Trish goes for the Stratusphere but Mickie grabs her leg and snaps it off the top rope. Mickie covers but only gets two. Trish grabs a quick inside cradle for a near-fall. Mickie tries a rana but Trish counters to a Liger Bomb for two. Trish avoids a kick by sort of doing the Matrix thing, but she shouldn’t have been able to do that with her injured leg anyway. The champ goes for Stratusfaction but Mickie grabs her vagina, for real. Trish levels Mickie with a forearm but then gets kicked in the knee and her face lands on Mickie’s knee on the way down. Mickie then hits the Mick Kick to get the win and the title at 8:31. That is a strong contender for the best women’s match in WWE history, as it had a story people could care about and women who played their characters really well. Mickie was so good at this it’s hard to believe how bad she is at everything else. The psychology in the match was sound and the finish was awesome.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #7: Casket Match – Undertaker vs. Mark Henry

Henry attacks Undertaker from behind before the bell and slugs away on him. Undertaker tries to fight back but Henry cuts him off with a clothesline. The fight spills to the floor and Henry continues to dominate, surprisingly. Back in the ring Henry continues to batter the Dead Man. Everything Undertaker tries Henry has an answer for. Finally Undertaker is able to hit Old School but it doesn’t even take Henry off his feet. Undertaker tries the Flatliner but Henry trips him down instead. The fight spills into the casket and Henry takes it to the Undertaker, showing no intimidation. The casket is Undertaker’s playground though, and he fights his way back into the match. Back in the ring Undertaker tries to build momentum but Henry catches him in the World’s Strongest Slam. Henry tries to put Undertaker in the casket but he can’t close the lid. He continues the abuse and foolishly tries mounted punches in the corner. Why would Mark Henry decide to do that for the first time against the one guy who counters it with his finisher every time someone does that to him? I hate stuff like that. Undertaker throws Henry to the floor and follows him out with an impressive dive over the casket. Back in the ring Undertaker delivers the Tombstone and rolls Henry into the casket. Undertaker slams the lid for the win at 9:26. Outside of the dive this was a pretty ho-hum match without much in the way of excitement. Undertaker is now 14-0 at WrestleMania.
Rating: *¾

MATCH #8: No-Holds-Barred Match – Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. McMahon

McMahon shows off his Muscle & Fitness cover with an obnoxiously sized version at ringside. This irritates Michaels so he attacks before the bell and here we go. Michaels beats McMahon up all around ringside, and then brings him back in the to smash the ridiculous magazine cover on his head. That brings out the Spirit Squad. The male cheerleaders beat Michaels down and Kenny goes for the guillotine legdrop but misses. Michaels gets a hold of their megaphone and cleans house on all five of them. All that distraction allows McMahon to recover and level Michaels with a clothesline. McMahon wears Michaels out and even uses his belt to whip him. He gets cocky and goes for Sweet Chin Music (even tuning up the band), but Michaels catches it. Michaels unloads on McMahon, hitting the flying forearm and then nipping up. Now Michaels uses the belt to whip McMahon’s hide. Michaels hits Hail to the King and then tunes up the band. Shane McMahon appears from out of nowhere to hit Michaels with a kendo stick, and he shows that he brought handcuffs. Before that, Vince wants Michaels to join the Kiss My Ass Club, but Michaels elbows Shane in the gut and then shoves Shane’s face into his dad’s ass! Only in the wrestling business folks. Michaels hits Vince in the grapefruits and then clotheslines Shane to the floor. He goes out and handcuffs Shane to the middle rope! Michaels unloads on Shane with the kendo stick, and then brings a chair into the ring to blast Vince in the face. Vince takes his chair shots like a man. Of course Vince is busted open now. Michaels grabs a ladder and cracks Vince in the face with it. He grabs trash cans and a table to continue the assault. Michaels puts Vince on the table and climbs the ladder, but then climbs down and grabs another, taller ladder. He puts a garbage can over Vince’s head and sets him back on the table. Michaels goes up to the top of the tall ladder and delivers a huge flying elbow! The referee calls for the medics. Michaels has enough in him to to get up and chase the medics away. He pulls Vince back to his feet and delivers Sweet Chin Music to get the emphatic pin at 18:26. That was a smartly booked street fight, wherein Vince only got the advantage by nefarious means and he was never portrayed as being anywhere close to being in Michaels’ league. They did some awesome spots and this is a great example of a “spectacle” match. Also important to note is Michaels’ repeated use of crotch chops throughout the match.
Rating: ***½

MATCH #9: Triple Threat Match for the World Heavyweight Championship – Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio vs. Randy Orton

P.O.D. plays Mysterio to the ring. I don’t care what anyone says, that giant Aztec headdress thing Mysterio is wearing is really cool. Angle has been the Champion since 1.13.06, and this is his fourth defense. Orton grabs the belt from the referee and clocks Angle with it before the bell rings. That’s a pretty awesome way to start a match. Orton and Mysterio go back and forth now and Orton looks very strong in the opening minute. Angle comes back in with a German Suplex on Orton and the action is getting almost too fast to call already. The Champion hits a double German Suplex on his challengers and Mysterio goes flying. That’s a cool visual. All three men continue jockeying for the advantage, each with the individual strengths. Angle isolates Orton and tires to put him away. Mysterio makes his way back in and injects himself into the fray with Angle as Orton takes a breather. When Mysterio goes for the 619 Angle catches him in an Ankle Lock! Orton gets up on the apron with a steel chair, which is great timing because then the referee doesn’t see Mysterio tapping out. Angle goes back to the Ankle Lock but this time Orton just breaks it up. That angers Angle, who starts throwing suplexes. Angle hits an Angle Slam to the floor on Mysterio, and then locks Orton in the Ankle Lock. This time Mysterio distracts the referee so he doesn’t see Orton tapping out. Angle puts the hold back on and Mysterio breaks it by Dropping the Dime. The crowd is very anti Rey Mysterio for some reason. Angle throws Mysterio shoulder-first into the ring post and Mysterio falls to the floor. Orton counters an Angle Slam with the RKO but only gets two! He goes up top and Angle pops up and takes him down with a belly-to-belly suplex. Mysterio kicks Angle in the face and then hits the springboard seated senton for two. Orton hits Mysterio with the elevated neckbreaker for a two-count. He sets up for the RKO but Angle surprises him with an Angle Slam for two! Mysterio sends Angle to the floor with an armdrag, and then hits Orton with the 619. He follows up with the West Coast Pop to steal the pin and win the World Heavyweight Title at 9:18! That was curiously short but it allowed all three guys to go balls to the wall the entire time and it was very entertaining. I will say that Rey Mysterio deserved this.
Rating: ***¼

MATCH #10: Playboy Pillow Fight – Torrie Wilson vs. Candice Michelle

Torrie comes out with a little tiny dog. Both women start the match in gowns, and there is a bed set up in the ring with pillows all around it. Does anyone actually require play-by-play for this? Torrie actually hits a suplex and then back body drops Candice onto the bed. She flips the bed over and then jumps up and down on it. Torrie then asks for her dog and rubs its ass in Candice’s face, really. She rips Candice’s gown off. That actually fires Candice up and she does some stuff. Candice then takes Torrie’s gown off. The crowd is bored with this, even though it’s two hot chicks in bras rolling around the ring. Torrie gets a schoolgirl rollup to mercifully end this atrocious disaster at 3:55. That match is a strong contender for worst WrestleMania match of all-time.
Rating: DUD

MATCH #11: WWE Championship Match – John Cena vs. Triple H

Cena has been the Champions since 1.29.06, and this is his third defense. The crowd is heavily in favor of Triple H and openly hostile towards John Cena. This would be Cena’s biggest match to date by far. HHH out-wrestles Cena from the get-go and looks confident. Cena tries an early F-U but HHH slips out and punches Cena square in the mouth. HHH tosses Cena to the floor and waits for him to get back in. When that happens Cena unloads with a flurry of offense. Cena hits the Fisherman Suplex for two. They trade some punches and Cena whips HHH into the corner and the Game tumbles to the floor. They fight up the ramp and Cena backdrops HHH on the steel ramp. Back in the ring HHH scores with the Harley Race high knee to take control. They go back to the floor and HHH whips Cena into the steps. Back in the ring HHH covers for two. HHH continues the abuse on Cena, wearing him down. He hits the Facebuster and then takes Cena’s head off with a clothesline for two. HHH uses a sleeper hold and Cena fades quickly. Cena is able to power up and out of the sleeper, and then he levels HHH with a clothesline. Both men rise and trade fisticuffs. Cena wins that battle and then hits a powerslam. HE follows up with the Protoplex, but when he goes for the Five Knuckle Shuffle HHH catches him with a big spinebuster for two. HHH tries to use another sleeper but Cena suplexes his way out of it. Cena hits the Five Knuckle Shuffle and then locks on the STFU! HHH makes it to the ropes. Cena goes for the FU but HHH breaks out of it and pushes Cena and the referee into the corner. HHH then hits a low blow, making contact with both Cena and referee Mike Chioda. We see the D-X crotch chop for the second time this evening. HHH goes out and finds his sledgehammer and bashes Cena in the face with it. The referee crawls over to make the count and Cena kicks out! HHH covers again and Cena kicks out again. The Game goes for the Pedigree but Cena backdrops his way out of it. Cena hits the FU but it only gets two! The Champ goes up top and misses a high cross body block. HHH goes for the Pedigree again but this time Cena counters to the STFU! Cena really cinches it in and HHH is forced to tap out and lose his third straight WrestleMania main event at 22:01. The crowd reactions alone make this a worthwhile main event, and a definite improvement over last year. Cena and HHH have good chemistry and they had a great story leading into the match that presented the Champion as the underdog, which is rare. The finish was great and this match did a lot to help Cena’s credibility.
Rating: ****

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