TEN YEARS AFTER: WrestleMania 22


WWE: WrestleMania 22
April 2, 2006
Rosemont, IL
Allstate Arena

The current WWE champions are as follows:
WWE Champion: John Cena (1/29/2006)
WWE Intercontinental Champion: Shelton Benjamin (2/20/2006)
World Tag Team Champions: Big Show & Kane (11/1/2005)
WWE Women’s Champion: Trish Stratus (1/9/2005)
World Heavyweight Champion: Kurt Angle (1/10/2006)
WWE United States Champion: Chris Benoit (2/19/2006)
WWE Tag Team Champions: MNM (12/30/2005)
WWE Cruiserweight Champion: Gregory Helms (1/29/2006)

TEN YEARS AFTER: With WrestleMania 32 coming up tomorrow, I thought it might be cool to look at how WWE has changed with ten years of perspective and see if there are any similarities between then and now. Injuries and careers ending changed the game. In 2006, it’s Batista missing WrestleMania and Eddie Guerrero passing away in October. In 2016, it’s Seth Rollins injured and Daniel Bryan whose career was cut short. John Cena is in his first year of being *the man* in WWE and he’s REALLY getting booed by WWE fans right about now. In 2016, Roman Reigns is getting treated even worse by WWE fans than John Cena. Either way, both received big pushes and neither one of them were embraced by the audience. Triple H headlines his fourth WrestleMania here and he’s still being used to help boost the main event players to this day. A McMahon is mixed up in a match that he should have no chance (in hell) of winning. Shane McMahon is here. The Undertaker is still around. In 2006, we’re witnessing the blowoff to the best Divas feud in WWE history. The Divas title match going down this year is comparable to this level of greatness IMO. Just so many comparisons, it almost seems intentional.

SOME FACTS: WrestleMania 22 is notable for being the last WrestleMania to take place in a building that is *not* a football stadium. This is the third WrestleMania to originate from the arena formerly known as the Rosemont Horizon. The other two are WrestleMania 2 and WrestleMania 13. I love watching wrestling in Chicago. It’s actually a city that I want to experience a WWE show live at some point in my life. Alright, let’s get to it.

WWE: The Power is Back.

Michelle Williams (from Destiny’s Child) sings this year’s “America, the Beautiful”. Ouch. That introduction had to sting a little. Michelle Williams might be the female equivalent to Ringo Starr. Couldn’t get Kelly Rowland? I understand she’s actually a WWE fan, but this ain’t the Make*A*Wish foundation. This is WRESTLEMANIA!

WrestleMania 22 montages!

FIREWORKS! “Big Time” by Peter Gabriel!

Your RAW hosts are Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler. JR had been away from the desk since October having colon surgery and here he is making his one night only return until his RAW replacement Joey Styles *kayfabe quits* in May.

Your Smackdown hosts are Michael Cole and Tazz.

  • World Tag Team Championship: Big Show & Kane (c) vs. Carlito & Chris Masters

An odd opener, but it is what it is. JR remarks this is the first time since WrestleMania 15 where the tag belts are being defended in a 2-on-2 atmosphere. Seems like a sad statistic. Masters and Kane kick this one off. It’s headlocks and shoulderblocks to start. Kane shows off with a leapfrog and a dropkick on Masters. Carlito takes off the top turnbuckle pad off camera. Tag to Show, he chops and headbutts Masters. After a slam, Masters goes to the eyes and tags in Carlito. CHICAGO LOVES CARLITO! He tries a knucklelock on Show and gets his balls dropped on the top rope. Masters comes in and gets booted down. Show press slams him as he rolls out. Carlito gets pressed above Show’s head and thrown on top of Masters. When they stagger up to their feet, Kane crashes on them. Show grabs Carlito by the afro and flips him back inside the ring. He takes a head bump into the exposed turnbuckle and gets a double flapjack from the challengers. That gets two. Show counters a double suplex and tags Kane. He’s a slow HOUSE OF FIRE. Side Slam on Carlito. Kane heads up top for the Flying Clothesline, but Masters ducks the shot and applies the MASTER LOCK. Show breaks it up with a boot and delivers snake eyes to Masters. BACKSTABBER to Kane! Show picks up Carlito for the CHOKESLAM, but Masters clips the knee. That puts Show out of the ring. Kane fights off a double team and goozles Carlito. As Masters comes off the top with a double sledge, Kane turns Carlito in harm’s way. He boots out Masters and CHOKESLAMS Carlito in peace for the 1-2-3. (6:42) Afterwards, Carlito and Masters argue over the loss. **

Jonathan Coachman meets up with Shawn Michaels backstage. Coach wants to know if he regrets telling Vince McMahon to get over Montreal. Shawn says he never regrets telling the truth. He tells us not to expect a five-star WrestleMania match from him tonight. When he meets Vince in the ring, he plans to go to a place he’s never been before. It’s going to be brutal. It’s going to be ugly. He tells Vince to look up and pray to God above for mercy, but it won’t matter because he is going to force Vince to endure his own personal hell.

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

Long before it was a PPV dedicated to the match, it’s one of the highlights of WrestleMania. Since this match includes both brands, we have all four commentators included here. And yes, RIC FLAIR is competing in Money in the Bank. This is interesting dichotomy of guys here. Three of them are high flyers (RVD, Hardy, Benjamin) while the other three are known for what they can do on the mat (Lashley, Finlay, Flair). Lashley rules the ring to start owning everybody with his power. Hardy is the first guy to grab a ladder and pays for it courtesy of RVD kicking him back and taking him out with a pescado. Benjamin attacks Finlay with a ladder and leans it against the ropes so he can RUN UP THE LADDER AND SOMERSAULT PLANCHA ONTO SOME PEOPLE. There’s one for the highlight reel. Flair stops Finlay from climbing the ladder and heads up the ladder himself. Hardy is there to meet him and superplex him down. Good grief. Some refs call for a medic for Flair. He gets helped out of the ring and taken backstage. RVD misses Rolling Thunder and splashes onto a ladder. Benjamin meets Lashley at the top of the ladder and tries to sunset flip powerbomb Lashley down. The man is too strong. It takes Hardy and Finlay both to help get Lashley down. The crowd really loves RVD. Hardy sticks a ladder in front of Finlay in the corner, but Finlay throws it back at Hardy when he charges at him. Finlay takes out RVD and Lashley as well. Here comes Flair hobbling back to the ring. Finlay heads out to meet him and gets chopped down. Flair has to chop away Hardy and Lashley, but he gets his moment to reach the briefcase until Finlay climbs up and clubs him with the shillelagh causing Flair to take another back bump from the ladder. Shelton stops Finlay from reaching the briefcase, but then Lashley turns them both over using another ladder. DOMINATOR to Benjamin! It looks like Lashley is going to get the briefcase when Rob Van Dam appears and missile dropkicks a chair into Lashley bringing him off the ladder. Hardy comes off a ladder onto Lashley with the Flying Legdrop. When he goes for the briefcase, Finlay goes up to meet him only to be brought down with the Side Effect. FIVE STAR FROG SPLASH from the ladder onto Finlay! RVD fiddles with the briefcase as Shelton springboards onto the other side of the ladder! INCREDIBLE. While RVD and Shelton are clubbing each other, Hardy sets up another ladder side by side and starts climbing. Benjamin joins Hardy only for RVD to tip them both over to fall out on the floor. And with that, RVD climbs to the top of the ladder in peace and retrieves the briefcase much to the delight of the crowd. (12:15) They don’t always get it right with the Money in the Bank winners, but this was definitely a case where the right man went over as these people were cheering for Van Dam every time he did anything. I mean, 2006 was easily the year of Rob Van Dam. ***½

Josh Mathews tries to interview the first announcer into the WWE Hall of Fame Gene Okerlund when the Legend Killer Randy Orton approaches. He insults Gene until he leaves. Orton looks forward to joining the WWE Hall of Fame because of nights like this when he wins the World Heavyweight championship by beating the paper champion Kurt Angle and the charity case Rey Mysterio. Batista interrupts and lets him know whoever holds the world title is only holding onto it until he returns. GOT IT, PAL? Batista had torn his right tricep back in January and will be out for six months.

They bring out the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2006: Gene Okerlund, Sherri Martel, Tony Atlas, Verne Gagne, William Perry, the Blackjacks, Eddie Guerrero (accepted by Vickie Guerrero). What a nice reaction for Eddie. Chavo Guerrero, both Blackjacks, and Sherri Martel give Vickie a hug.

  • WWE U.S. Championship: Chris Benoit (c) vs. JBL (w/Jillian Hall)

JBL thinks he’ll be the greatest technical wrestler ever if he beats Chris Benoit tonight. He tries wearing Benoit down with a headlock to start, but Benoit already wants the Crippler Crossface. When he can’t get it, he chops JBL and goes for the Sharpshooter. JBL kicks him away and bails out to use Jillian as a shield. He pokes Benoit in the eye as we go back inside. JBL misses a corner charge and Benoit gives him the Rolling Germans. He goes up for the Swandive Headbutt only for JBL to trip him up. He brings Benoit down with a superplex. JBL mocks Eddie Guerrero to get some heat. That idea culminates in the Three Amigos, but Benoit makes him stop. Benoit runs into a big boot though for two. JBL grabs a chinlock and one of Benoit’s trapezius muscles. Benoit fights out into a back suplex. Both men down. Benoit delivers the Three Amigos and hits the Swandive Headbutt. Cover, 1-2-NO! JBL tries a desperate Clothesline from Hell only for Benoit to duck for more Germans. JBL grabs the ref and the ropes to prevent that from happening. Another shot at the Clothesline from Hell gets countered to the CRIPPLER CROSSFACE, but JBL rolls him over and grabs the ropes for the pinfall. (9:46) Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new WWE U.S. champion. Not exactly what I expected here. This was 90% Benoit. All JBL was a headlock, a chinlock, and some really slow suplexes. **½

  • Hardcore Match: Edge (w/Lita) vs. Mick Foley

Since it’s a hardcore match, Joey Styles joins us for this next match. Edge comes out wearing a sleeveless jacket and jeans. He brings with him his lady friend Lita and a baseball bat. He is needless to say AMPED UP here. Lifting weights and doing cocaine all day-level amped up, perhaps? Foley comes out with taped fists, flannel shirt, and sweatpants. Edge fails to hit Foley with the bat and gets punched in the corner. Foley takes him down with a running face slam. He puts Edge in the tree of woe for the Cactus Elbow. You know, VINTAGE FOLEY! He turns his back on Edge and gets booted down. Lita gets cookie sheets and road signs from under the ring and slides them in the ring to Edge so he can kill some more of Foley’s brain cells. SPEAR to Foley! Edge seems to have hit Foley so hard that he hurts his shoulder. Foley takes off the flannel to reveal more flannel and the Cactus Jack t-shirt. Foley reveals that he has barbed wire wrapped around his stomach in case of a spear. He pulls some pliers out of his shoe and cuts the wires. Good grief, man! Edge is shown bleeding from his shoulder now. Foley then whips Edge with the loose barbed wire and works the cut. As Edge gets tied up in the ropes, Foley finds his trusty barbed wire bat from under the ring steps. Lita tries to save Edge by jumping on Foley’s back. Instead, Foley runs at Edge for the Cactus Clothesline as all three of them go flying out to the floor. BANG BANG! Foley covers Edge for two. A swinging neckbreaker on Edge gets two as well. Foley charges Edge up against the steps and gets flipped onto the steps. As if that’s not bad enough, Edge sends him knees first into the steps for a REAL nasty bump. Just the sheer speed of that was pretty brutal.

A table gets set up for Foley, but he rolls off the table and heads up the aisle. Edge slams Foley’s head back on the rampway. Back inside, Edge douses Foley with lighter fluid. Yes, LIGHTER FLUID. Foley starts punching back and delivers a Pull-Up Piledriver for two. Lita interrupts a Con-Chair-To allowing Edge to DDT Foley on a cookie sheet. He whacks Foley with Barbie a few times including a shot to the face to bust him open. Face slam on Barbie gets two. Out comes the sack of thumbtacks! He pours them over in a corner. Foley sees it coming and drops Edge on the tacks – turning him into a pin cushion. HERE COMES MR. SOCKO. Foley wraps Mr. Socko in barbed wire and puts Edge in the MANDIBLE CLAW. Lita runs inside the ring and gets the MANDIBLE CLAW as well. She rolls out and shows her lip bleeding. Nice touch. Foley’s face is covered in blood. Foley gives Edge his receipt using Barbie to bust Edge’s face open. With Edge down, Foley stands on the apron and douses the table with lighter fluid Lita whacks Foley in the nuts with Barbie and lights the fluid on fire! Edge pops up and SPEARS Foley off the apron ONTO THE FLAMING TABLE! Holy crap. Edge manages to put an arm over Foley for the three-count. (14:38) This was better than I remember it being back in 2006. Perhaps it’s because the product has calmed down so much since then. But yeah, holy crap. Randy Orton went through a similar performance two years earlier and became a “made man” in WWE. Even though he had taken incredible risks in all his ladder matches, I think Edge received a much bigger level of respect after a match like this. On the other hand, this would prove to be Mick Foley’s last match ever at a WrestleMania. And I mean, how could he possibly top it at this point? ****¼

Backstage, Booker T tries to calm Sharmell down about their match against the Boogeyman. It quickly turns into an episode of the Twilight Zone as they pass by Paul Burchill (who is a pirate now), Ted DiBiase screwing with Eugene, Gene Snitsky licking Mae Young’s feet while the Fabulous Moolah watches, and Goldust is dressed up like Oprah. Goldust offers his help as all these other freaks crowd around him. He tells Booker to let his inner-freak out because it’s the only way he’ll beat the Boogeyman. Goldust whispers to Booker what he should do with the Boogeyman’s worms. TELL BOOKER YOU DIDN’T JUST SAY THAT. Booker is freaked out and takes Sharmell with him. Why is Ted DiBiase hanging with these losers? The nWo said he was a BILLIONAIRE.

Todd Grisham talks with the winners of the Snickers WrestleMania Sweepstakes. Interestingly enough, Snickers is the official sponsor of WrestleMania 32.

Joe Theismann is in the house!

  • Handicap Match: The Boogeyman vs. Booker T & Sharmell

Sharmell is pretty spooked by the Boogeyman. She starts out as bait to get Boogeyman to turn his back to Booker. After Booker puts the boots to Boogeyman for a while, he hits him with a superkick. The BOOK END gets two. Boogeyman starts no-selling and eats a bunch of worms. You know, his usual shtick. Sharmell tries to hit him with his own staff, but Boogeyman turns around and kisses her with worms in his mouth. So disgusted, she rolls out of the ring and leaves her husband behind to take the BOOGEYBOMB and end this travesty. (3:43) Has anybody been screwed over more times at WrestleManias than Booker T? A silly feud with Edge at 18, a terrible feud with HHH at 19, won a forgettable fatal four way tag match with Rob Van Dam at 20, won a meaningless *dark match* battle royal at 21, and now he’s facing the Boogeyman at 22. He’s on the poster for WrestleMania 22, but he’s GETTING BEAT UP BY JOHN CENA ON THE POSTER. I enjoyed none of this. CRAP

  • WWE Women’s Championship: Trish Stratus (c) vs. Mickie James

Trish gets her hands on her stalker again. On the other hand, Mickie gets her hands on her obsession again. It’s a win-win! Mickie abuses Trish to start, but Trish gives it back to her ten-fold. Trish catches a mule kick and yanks Mickie down into a split. OUCH. Out to the floor, Trish misses a CHICK KICK up against the ringpost. Mickie then takes Trish and wraps her leg around the post. Trish tries fighting back, but Mickie dropkicks the knee. Mickie takes Stratus to school and grabs a half crab. To make things more violent, Mickie grabs Trish by the hair and slams her face down on the mat. Mickie just basks in the glory of the crowd reaction. Pretty awesome. Trish manages to break up a hold and take Mickie over with a headscissors. The crowd boos her comeback! Spinebuster by Trish gets two. Trish tries a splash in the corner and she’s met with both feet. She tries to come back with the Stratusphere, but Mickie sees it coming and sends Trish back down to the mat on her knee. Mickie ends up on the floor after the move and enjoys the moment. AWESOME. She tries pinning Trish in the missionary position with Trish’s ankles behind her head for 1-2-NO! Mickie wants a headscissors out of the corner, but Trish counters with a sitout powerbomb for 1-2-NO! Time for the STRATUSFACTION, but Mickie grabs Trish’s vagina and licks her hand. After she takes an elbow to face, Mickie kicks at Trish and Trish lands face first on her knee. Now Mickie tries for Stratusfaction, but Trish screws it up by not lifting Mickie up on the middle rope. Instead, she lands the MICK KICK! Cover, 1-2-3. (8:32) Ladies and gentlemen, we have a new WWE Women’s Champion. Easily the most controversial women’s title match in WrestleMania history. Mild sloppiness aside, I enjoyed the heck out of that match. Mickie is hilarious. ***

We go backstage to see what the McMahon family is doing. He is jacked to the hilt and more orange than Hulk Hogan right now. No one can imagine Vince praying to God, but he wants to pray to God as a family. They all get down on their knees as Vince starts to pray. His prayer starts out “I don’t like you, you don’t like me”. He’s broken all his commandments and has been wildly successful. Apparently he’s never heard the phrase “heaven on earth”. He tells God that tonight he’s going to send Shawn Michaels straight to hell.

  • Casket Match: The Undertaker vs. Mark Henry

Sign in crowd: Casket Size: XXXXXXL. No Daivari here who was managing Henry at the time. Henry BUM RUSHES THE SHOW and beats Taker in and out of the ring. When Taker fires back, Henry stops him when he tries Old School. Taker isn’t ready for the casket and pounds on the shoulder to hit Old School on the second try. They brawl in and out of the casket. Back inside the ring, Taker gets caught with the WORLD’S STRONGEST SLAM. No pins allowed, bro. He rolls Taker into the casket, but Taker escapes. He LAST RIDES Henry out of the corner and throws him over the casket for his epic yearly tope. In the ring, he TOMBSTONES Henry and rolls him into the casket for WrestleMania win #14. (9:26) Standard WrestleMania match for the Undertaker. I would put this one ahead of his Giant Gonzales and King Kong Bundy wins just due to the last minute or so. *½

  • No Holds Barred: Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon

Vince unveils his “Muscle & Fitness” magazine cover at ringside and poses beside it until Shawn comes over and beats the crap out of him. To prove a point, Shawn smashes the frame over Vince’s head. The Spirit Squad come out of nowhere to beat up Shawn and give him the HIGH SPIRITS move. Funny how we thought Kenny would be the break-out star of that crew instead of Nicky who you may know now as Dolph Ziggler. Anyways, Kenny misses a flying legdrop and Shawn cleans house on the Spirit Squad using the megaphone. He throws Kenny over the top rope onto the other four. Right after that, Shawn turns around into a clothesline by McMahon. He chokes on Shawn with his belt and tries Sweet Chin Music, but he’s no athlete. Shawn easily catches his foot and starts punching on Vince some more. The Flying Forearm sets up the nip up. He whips Vince with his own belt and lands the Flying Elbow. Time for Sweet Chin Music, but now Shane McMahon appears and whacks Shawn with a kendo stick. WHERE DID HE GO? WHERE DID HE GO? He pulls out some handcuffs. Shane tries to get Shawn to join the “Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club” first, but Shawn shoves Shane’s face into the deep dark unknown instead. Vince can’t tell the difference. Shawn low blows Vince and clotheslines Shane out of the ring. He then handcuffs Shane to the ropes, but of course Shane has the key. Shawn takes the key and throws it into the crowd. Next, he mocks Shane and whacks him with the kendo stick. Shawn brings out a chair and drills Vince on the skull. Good grief. He sets up for Sweet Chin Music, but he has a better idea. He pulls out a ladder and runs the ladder into Vince’s face. It appears Vince is bleeding from the top of his head. Still not ready for Sweet Chin Music. He brings in trash can and a table. He whacks Vince with the trash can and puts him on the table. He climbs the ladder, but it’s not high enough. He brings in a twenty-footer and puts Vince in the trash can before putting him on the table. Shawn climbs to the top of the ladder and gives Vince a DX chop before coming down on him with a Flying Elbow while Shane watches from the floor. Shawn gets the ladder out of the ring and scares away the medics. He blows a snot rocket at Shane and picks up Vince for a HYPED UP SWEET CHIN MUSIC for the win. (18:26) Shawn Michaels is the man. Vince is stretchered out, but leaves with his middle finger pointed at Shawn. ***

  • World Heavyweight Championship: Kurt Angle (c) vs. Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio

POD does a live performance for Rey Mysterio’s entrance theme. Orton looks like a child here. You can still actually count the number of tattoos on his body as well. When ref Charles Robinson holds up the gold, Orton grabs it and smashes Angle in the face to knock him out of the ring. Mysterio jumps Orton and tries a crossbody out of the corner, but Orton stops him with a dropkick for two. Angle jumps Orton for a German suplex. As Orton and Rey lock up, Angle takes them both over with a German suplex sending Rey flying. Orton hits Angle with his over the back neckbreaker for two. Angle fires right back with an overhead belly to belly suplex. The crowd actually only likes Angle here. With Orton up on the top buckle, Rey comes over and bounces Angle’s head off Orton’s nuts. They do the alley-oop spot as Rey gets launched onto Orton for a headscissors. Angle throws Rey out of the ring and covers Orton for 1-2-NO! Rey interrupts an Anklelock intended for Orton and kicks Angle in the head for two. Tilt-a-whirl headscissors leads to the 619, but Angle catches his legs for the ANKLELOCK! He even grapevines the leg! Orton distracts the ref by trying to bring a chair in the ring. Rey taps out! Angle knocks Orton away, but then gets knocked away by Orton. Angle starts dishing out German suplexes left and right. He even ANGLE SLAMS Rey from inside the ring to the floor. ANKLELOCK on Orton! Rey grabs the ref and keeps him from seeing Orton tap! Rey gets kicked away, but breaks up the hold as he DROPS THE DIME on Angle. Cover, 1-2-NO! Angle runs Rey into the post. He looks for an Angle Slam on Orton, but Orton slips away and hits the RKO. He takes time to sell the ankle and covers Angle for 1-2-NO! Orton heads up top, but Angle brings him down with the Pop-Up Superplex. Rey fails to hit the 619 from around the ringpost and kicks Angle back anyways. La Silla connects on Angle and Rey applies a prawn hold of sorts for 1-2-NO! Orton kicks Angle out of the ring and drops Rey with the neckbreaker off the shoulders. That gets two. It’s RKO time, but Angle shoots into the ring and drops Orton with the ANGLE SLAM. Cover, 1-2-NO! Rey armdrags the Angle Slam away and dropkicks Orton in position for the 619! WEST COAST POP gets the win and the title. (9:19) They packed a ton of action into those ten minutes. I don’t hear anybody booing now. Of course, we can’t enjoy Rey’s title win without bringing up Eddie. Vickie and Chavo Guerrero come out and celebrate with Rey on the ramp. Who would have thought back at the Great American Bash 1996 when he debuted in WCW that he would be World Champion in WWE ten years later. If you said yes, you’re a liar. ***

We see John Cena and Triple H getting ready backstage.

  • “Playboy” Pillow Fight: Candice Michelle vs. Torrie Wilson

Next greatest sign of the night by the same guy: “Torrie, keep your dog. I want your cat.” There’s Playboy-themed bedding in the ring here. I don’t know if the point of the match was to pull the other girl’s dress off, but that happens on both accounts. Torrie avoids a charge in the corner and rolls up Candice for the win. (3:54) JR – “Put away the bowling shoes. It’s over!” I don’t know what everybody was expecting. We got to see both hot ladies in their underpants. What more did you want to see for this? ½*

  • WWE Championship: John Cena (c) vs. Triple H

Triple H does his Conan the Barbarian entrance and debuts the “King of Kings” Motorhead song that he uses to this day. John Cena’s entrance is Chicago gangster-themed and includes CM Punk riding out on the car carrying a tommy gun. They soak in the crowd reactions to start which is quite diverse. Headlocks and hammerlocks are traded to start. Triple H escapes with a drop toehold and slaps Cena on the head to get a reaction. Back into the hammerlock, Hunter kicks Cena off into the corner to further embarrass him. After they lock up, Cena runs into an elbow in the corner. Helmsley charges into the FU, but he comes off Cena’s shoulders and punches him down. They lock up again. Triple H buries a knee and throws Cena to the floor. Helmsley is loving this crowd. Cena shoots back in and pounds Triple H into the corner. He takes Helmsley from corner to corner and hits the Fisherman’s Suplex for two. Hunter escapes a chinlock, but takes the Harley Race corner bump out to the floor. They fight over to the ramp where Helmsley takes a backdrop. Back in, HHH hits the High Knee and takes Cena to the floor for a ride into the steps. More Harley Race action as Helmsley hits a picture perfect suplex and the knee drop connects. HHH Facebuster and clothesline gets two. Reverse neckbreaker gets two as well. Cena tries to come back, but he telegraphs a backdrop and gets caught with a swinging neckbreaker. Triple H wrenches the neck and catches Cena in a sleeperhold. Cena backs Helmsley into the corner and buries a shoulder into the ribs until the ref pulls him back. That allows Triple H to kick Cena back, but then he runs into a clothesline. They trade blows, but Cena wins that battle with a couple clotheslines.

He follows up with a powerslam and the Protobomb. Cena wants the Five Knuckle Shuffle, but Triple H pops up and hits the AA Spinebuster. Cover, 1-2-NO! Cena fights back with the running shoulderblocks. Triple H tries to cut him off, but he hits the Protobomb again. Five Knuckle Shuffle connects! Time for the FU, but Cena decides on the STFU instead. Helmsley makes the ropes. FU fails again as Helmsley slips off the shoulders and sends Cena crashing into the corner with the ref. Triple H low blows them both at the same time as well. DANG. Helmsley gives Cena a DX crotch chop. We also saw Shawn do the same thing to Vince earlier in the night. The crowd erupts! Helmsley brings out the sledgehammer and pokes Cena. He covers Cena while ref Mike Chioda slowly crawls over for the 1-2-NO! He tries again and Cena kicks out at two. Cena backdrops the PEDIGREE away and hits the FU for 1-2-NO! The flying body press completely misses Triple H. He tries the PEDIGREE again, but Cena counters to the STFU. His arm drops once, twice, but NOT THREE TIMES! He’s inches away from the ropes, but he can’t take it anymore. Triple H taps out. (22:03) Much better than I remembered it being. You can tell this was Triple H’s way of realizing he needed to take John Cena as a serious threat. He could only play to the crowd for so long before he had to actually work hard to try and beat Cena, but wasn’t able to pull off the win on this night. Good stuff. ***½

Final Thoughts: This is a step down from previous WrestleManias with a lack of star power. No Hogan, no Rock, no Austin, Batista is injured, Eddie Guerrero has passed away, and Michelle Williams is here. Nevertheless, they attempted to make you respect the stars they want to push big time in 2006: Rob Van Dam, Edge, Rey Mysterio, and most importantly John Cena. I would include Mickie James in that crew, but the best stuff with Trish Stratus had now come and gone. The Edge versus Foley match is MOTYC quality especially in a weaker year like 2006. There’s at least five other matches that are fun to watch – including a good main event and Money in the Bank back when Shelton Benjamin was still around. All in all, I will give WrestleMania 22 a mild thumbs up. While certainly not one of the stronger WrestleManias, there’s several other shows that suck much more than this one does.

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