WWE WrestleMania XXII 4/2/2006

April 2, 2006
Allstate Arena
Chicago, IL
Attendance: 17,159
Buy Rate: 2.33
Announcers: Jim Ross, Jerry Lawler, Joey Styles, Michael Cole & Tazz

Dark Match

Viscera (Nelson Frazier) won an Interpromotional Battle Royal

Pay Per View

Fun Fact:
Jim Ross makes his return as lead PPV play-by-play man since leaving Raw in September to deal with colon issues. While Joey Styles was still the main man on Raw, there were many detractors in the back that believed he was not that great at telling stories, as WWE requested of their announcers. So, Vince began to lose faith in Styles’ ability to carry a major show like Wrestlemania, and decided to bring Ross back to call the show. Ross made his first appearance on the 3/18 Saturday Night’s Main Event. Styles was rumored to have been embarrassed and felt slighted that he was not considered good enough to provide commentary for Wrestlemania, however for now he would remain on TV each week. The kayfabe reason given was that Mr. McMahon wanted Ross to call his humiliation of Shawn Michaels so he hired him back to announce the show.

Fun Fact II:
As part of WWE’s deal with Viacom, they returned to prime time on NBC with the first edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event since October 1992. The show aired on a slight tape delay on 3/18.

Fun Fact III:
This is Illinois’ 8th PPV, and first since Backlash 2001. This is also it’s third Wrestlemania.

1) Big Show (Paul Wight) & Kane (Glen Jacobs) defeat Carlito (Carly Colon) & Chris Masters (Chris Mordetzky) to retain World Tag Team Titles when Kane pins Carlito with a chokeslam at 6:43

Fun Fact: On 1/30, Big Show and Kane defeated Carlito and Chris Masters to retain their tag team titles. The next week Masters would pin Kane in a Road to Wrestlemania tournament match. Two weeks later, Kane would get revenge by pinning Masters in a rematch. On 3/6, Vince McMahon granted Carlito & Masters a tag team title match at Wrestlemania for aiding him in some business with Shawn Michaels. Later that night, Masters and Carlito would cost Kane a match with Triple H. The next week, Carlito and Masters teamed with Triple H to battle Kane, Show and John Cena. Carlito and Masters would get their team disqualified when they pasted the champs with steel chairs. On 3/20, Kane defeated Carlito and Show defeated Masters in singles bouts. In the latter match, Masters hit Show with a chair, locked him in a full nelson and then rammed him into the ring post. The next week, Kane beat Carlito by DQ, but he was lured backstage and jumped by Masters, Lance Cade and Trevor Murdoch. They would lock Kane in a room and barricade it with a forklift, but their plan backfired when Kane emerged from a different door.

Our opener pits one of the biggest tag teams ever put together against Raw’s two heel upstarts. Carlito & Masters actually had a decent little team put together earlier in the year. They worked together to take out a good portion of the participants in the Chamber match at New Year’s Revolution. They worked together at the Royal Rumble, and now they get a chance at gold. Unfortunately they will be taking on two big time hosses. This is a small point, but Kane must have a streak going of consecutive PPV matches that one of his boots falls apart. Anyway, the heels try to work some magic but it’s not happening as Show is chopping the Masterpiece down. The heels were getting manhandled until they smacked Show’s head into what turned out to be an exposed turnbuckle. Show gets worked over for a short bit, but I highlight the world short. Show hits a double suplex and then tagged Kane. Kane goes for his top rope clothesline but Masters reverses into the Masterlock. That stops when Show boots him in the face. Masters and Carlito try to stay in it, but some miscommunication between them leads to Kane chokeslamming Carlito for the win. I wouldn’t say it was a glorified squash, but it was pretty close. Grade: 2

Justin: Our opener features the surprising upstart heel team of Carlito & Chris Masters challenging the dominant monster tag team champions. Show and Kane would beat on the challengers with stiff, hard-hitting power strikes to set an early tone. Despite their respective roles, the crowd was clearly behind Carlito here and he was the most over performer in the match it seemed. The challengers showed nice teamwork and chemistry, just as they had a few months earlier inside the Elimination Chamber. They would rip off a turnbuckle cover and Show would be run into it, turning the tide of the match for a few brief moments. Masters would hook Kane in the Masterlock to a big pop, but he would break the hold. Carlito would then drill him with a nice backcracker. The champs would recover and retain their belts after Kane dropped Carlito with a chokeslam after some miscommunication. This was a decent enough opener that featured a nice pace and good effort from all four men. The crowd was up and down during it and seemed like they were pushing for a Carlito face turn. Show and Kane continue to roll as champs. Grade: 1.5

2) Rob Van Dam (Rob Szatkowski) defeats Matt Hardy, Ric Flair (Richard Fleihr), Finlay, Bobby Lashley and Shelton Benjamin to win the Money in the Bank Ladder match when he obtains the briefcase at 12:22

Fun Fact: In February, Carlito suggested to Mr. McMahon that they bring back Money in the Bank for this year’s Wrestlemania. McMahon approved the idea and qualifying matches were set up on both Raw and Smackdown. In those bouts, Rob Van Dam would defeat Trevor Murdoch, Shelton Benjamin beat Chavo Guerrero, Ric Flair beat Carlito, Finlay defeated Bobby Lashley, Matt Hardy beat Road Warrior Animal and Lashley would win a “Last Chance Battle Royal”.

Fun Fact II: Shelton Benjamin defeated Ric Flair to win the Intercontinental Championship on the 2/20 Raw. Shelton won the match after his Momma faked a heart attack and distracted Flair. Shelton would claim that Momma had surgery and held Flair responsible for the malady. Shelton’s Momma would never reappear on WWE TV.

Ok, other than my #1 priority as a fan later in the show my #2 priority was rooting hard as a mark for Ric Flair to win this match. Sure you had all these risk takers and big young studs here that can maneuver a ladder with the best of them. Flair’s first ever ladder match was a couple of months ago on Raw against Edge. So in his thirty-three years of performing, this is Ric Flair’s second ever ladder match. Regardless, I was hoping for one more title shot, for The Man. However a few minutes into this match my dreams were possibly smashed when he took a Matt Hardy superplex off the ladder and apparently injured his knee. He was carried off and my hopes were dashed. From here we of course were going to see some incredibly stiff shots from all these guys who want that one shot at glory, the MITB for the title shot. Another cool spot is Hardy, Finlay, and Benjamin triple power bombing Lashley off a ladder. In terms of sentimentality, the crowd definitely wanted RVD win and the chants were proof of that. Then, hobbling out like the grizzled legend he is, comes Ric Flair again. Immediately I was marking out thinking that he was going to win. Then he chops Benjamin and Hardy out of the ring. Flair was crawling the ladder, slowly and slowly and then he grabbed the briefcase and I was going insane. Then that Irish bastard Finlay went up the ladder and cracked Flair in the head with the shillelagh. Damn you Finlay! Flair’s moment was done. We continue on and get more insane moves, like Matt’s Side Effect to Finlay off the ladder. RVD then splashed Finlay on the tallest ladder. This match has had its moments like last year’s debut of MITB had. RVD had a chance but Benjamin did that sweet hop from the top rope to the ladder. The two of them with Hardy battled on two ladders until Hardy and Benjamin were pushed off one of the ladders and RVD grabbed the briefcase for the win. Next to Flair winning, I was happy for RVD. He now gets a title shot down the line, and he earned it in another stellar MITB match. Grade: 4

Justin: Our second annual MITB ladder match features a fresh, unique and diverse field of competitors, including the surprising entry of Ric Flair. Flair had his first ever ladder match earlier in the year on Raw and would get a nice pop as he enters to compete in his second here. The crowd was clearly behind RVD here, as he had returned from injury in January. He would deliver energy early on with a great plancha onto Matt Hardy, who was holding a ladder on the floor. Shelton would top that as he ran up a ladder that was leaning on the ropes and hit a senton bomb on to a group of opponents. In a neat matchup of wily old veterans, Flair and Finlay would tussle for a few minutes. Flair would then take a sick superplex off the ladder, and seemingly injured his leg upon impact. He would be helped out of the ring and taken to the back, seemingly eliminated from the bout. The match would feature quite the dichotomy between two wrestlers on different ends of the spectrum. For as breathtaking and amazing as Shelton was in these matches, Bobby Lashley was equally as nervous, awkward and tentative throughout. The guys would rotate through spots as was usual for these types of matches. Flair would then return, fight off Finlay, Hardy, and Shelton and begin to ascend the ladder in a nice tease spot. Just before he could grab the title, Finlay ran up the ladder and clocked him with his shillelagh to good heat. After that, the big spots would start to flow as Hardy hit Lashley with a stiff legdrop and RVD dropped a Five Star Frog Splash on Finlay off ladders. Then, in the best spot of the match, Shelton would leap on to a ladder from off camera, looking like Spiderman in the process. He and Hardy would climb a ladder, but both would tumble to the floor in another sick bump. RVD would take advantage, climb the ladder and grab the briefcase to a huge pop for the big win, arguably the biggest in his WWE career to this point. This was fun and crazy and filled with fun spots. It was a notch below its predecessor but was still a ton of fun. Grade: 4

*** Backstage, Randy Orton is talking about his World Title match when Batista interrupts him. The Animal warns him that he will be coming to regain his championship. Back in the arena, Howard Finkel announces that Bret Hart declined an invitation to be recognized in person tonight. He then introduced the remainder of the Hall of Fame class, including the Blackjacks, William Perry, Tony Atlas, Gene Okerlund, Sensational Sherri, Verne Gagne and Eddie Guerrero, who was represented by his widow Vicki. While it would have been nice to see Bret Hart at Wrestlemania, his absence allowed the spotlight to be solely on the memory of Eddie Guerrero. ***

3) John Bradshaw Layfield defeats Chris Benoit to win United States Title with a roll up at 9:47

Fun Fact: On 2/24, Chris Benoit and JBL were on opposite sides of a six-man tag match. During the bout, Benoit trapped JBL’s hand behind the ring steps and kicked them, breaking JBL’s hand in the process. The next week, we would see footage of JBL’s surgery to repair the hand and it was announced that the two would meet at Wrestlemania. On 3/24, the two were set to compete in a non-title match, but JBL backed out, citing his broken hand and an alleged broken nose that he claimed happened during a Steve Austin assault at SNME. He would name William Regal as his replacement, but Benoit would win the match. By 3/31, JBL’s hand had healed and he told Benoit he would take his gold, just as he had done to his friend Eddie Guerrero.

This was going to be a very stiff, bludgeoning match. I remember Justin saying back in 2004 that instead of being pushed up the card so fast when he freshly turned heel he should have gone after the US Title. Well I guess JBL works backward on his list. The match consisted mostly of JBL mocking Eddie Guerrero with mannerisms, including attempting the Three Amigos. He gets two of them before Benoit reverses. Benoit just finished a long brutal war with Booker T over the United States Title, finally winning it at No Way Out. JBL did have a pretty cool double wear down with a rear chinlock while nerve pinching Benoit’s Trap muscle. Benoit breaks it with a reverse suplex. Eventually Benoit tries and executes his own Three Amigos. He then goes for his flying headbutt and hits it. He hooks up the Crossface, but somehow JBL rolls over and hooks Benoit, and along with a grab of the second rope, steals the US Title from Benoit. Bummer that after that long war with Booker T to get back his US Title, he jobs it right out after a month to JBL. This was probably payback for having to lay down in barely two minutes at the Royal Rumble to Boogeyman. We have our first title change tonight in a decent little match. Grade: 2.5

Justin: I really liked the angle heading into this match, as Benoit had broken JBL’s hand in a cool looking spot, and they would spend the ensuing weeks sniping at each other to set an aggressive tone. Benoit gets a huge pop when he enters, but JBL’s entrance may have topped it, as the entrance ramp would rise up into the air, and his limo would pull out from underneath it. We would get a nice crossface battle early, as Benoit looked for the quick win. Benoit would continue to batter and club the challenger, but JBL would not allow himself to be put in the crossface. As had become tradition, JBL would use Jillian Hall to distract Benoit and gain control of the bout. He would follow that by unleashing a stiff superplex on the champ and then began mocking Eddie Guerrero by using the Tree Amigos and emulating Eddie’s mannerisms. Things would slow down for a moment as JBL hooked in a nervehold, but Benoit shook him off and hit his own Three Amigos to a good pop. After a good CFH/Crossface fight, Benoit would finally break JBL down to the mat, but JBL rolled through the Crossface, hooked the rope and stole the win and title. This was considered an upset at the time, as JBL hadn’t been doing much and Benoit had been booked quite strongly throughout 2006. This was just a fun, hard-hitting old school brawl and JBL now has gold back around his waist for the first time since one year earlier. Grade: 2.5

*** At ringside, Joey Styles joins Jerry Lawler to call this match. ***

4) Edge (Adam Copeland) defeats Mick Foley in a Hardcore match with a spear through a flaming table at 14:37

Fun Fact: On 2/16, Edge received a title rematch against John Cena with Mick Foley serving as the guest referee. Edge would lose the bout and then proceed to blame Foley for it, and he and Lita would assault Mick after the bell. The following week, Edge challenged Foley to a Wrestlemania match and gave him one week to answer the call. A week later, Foley showed up but told Edge he had nothing to prove. Edge began taunting Foley, and talked about Foley’s less than stellar Mania history, contrasting that with Edge’s perfect Mania record. Foley would agree that he always wanted a shining Mania moment, but told Edge he did not want a wrestling match, but rather he wanted a Hardcore match. Foley then charged the ring with a barbed wire baseball bat, chasing Edge and Lita out into the crowd. On 3/6, Lita and Edge were picking on Maria in the ring, when Mick made the save. Edge would end up spearing Foley and then cracked him with a con-chair-to before accepting Foley’s Mania challenge. The next week, Edge played a great video package, mocking Foley’s pathetic Mania history and highlighting his own. On SNME, Foley was a guest on the Cutting Edge. He emptied a bag of thumbtacks in the ring, but Edge would knock him into them. Foley would recover and chase Edge up the ramp, hit him with a neckbreaker and then crack him with a con-chair-to of his own. The two would continue to due verbally over the next two weeks, really building up some nice heat for this ensuing war.

A little background here. The night before this show I was in Rhode Island at a party. I got fairly trashed and passed out, which of course isn’t really sleeping. The next day I come home and head to my friends’ house for the show, and honestly? I fell asleep during this match. So when I threw this match in recently it’s in essence the first time I’m watching it. My first great vision is Foley having the barbed wire wrapped around his torso as Edge spears right into it and rips his shoulder open. I’m glad Joey Styles was able to broadcast this match; as much as I love JR I thought Joey got stiffed here and should have done at least the undercard of this show. Foley gets hip-tossed hard into the steps and Edge is relentless in taking out the Hardcore Legend. Both men then start bashing each other with chairs, signs and steel pans. Edge grabs Barbie, which Foley grabbed earlier and starts whacking Foley with it. Edge is really keeping his end in this match, but we haven’t seen that signature moment for Edge. Randy Orton had his signature moment in his Backlash 2004 classic with Foley, which was getting backdropped on the thumbtacks. We’ll get there. Foley kicks out of a couple of barbed bat attacks, but is busted wide open. Edge then finds the aforementioned bag of thumbtacks and dumps them in the ring. However Foley reverses a punch and back suplexes Edge right on the pile of tacks. There’s Edge’s moment. Foley then goes real hardcore and wraps Mr. Socko in barbed wire and he attacks both Edge and Lita with it. Lita’s mouth is actually cut open by it. Foley then attacks Edge back, strewn with thumbtacks, with Barbie. Eventually Edge is busted open and the crowd is eating this up. Both men are bleeding all over the place and this is the match of the night so far. Edge has matched Orton from that April night in Edmonton by taking all of Foley’s moves. Then, the moment that will forever be remembered. Foley starts drizzling lighter fluid on an open table outside. Lita crotches Foley with Barbie, then continues drenching the table. She then lights it, and the table is on fire. With Foley on the apron, Edge spears Foley through the ropes and through the fully engorged in fire table. That’s enough to get the three count in what was an incredible match. Kudos to Foley for putting another guy over, and to Edge for going that extra mile to give this match that extra something. I know I have my opinions of Foley for being a little greedy but when it comes to being in the ring and putting someone over he’s second to none. Grade: 4

Justin: After years of disappointing Wrestlemania matches, Mick Foley gets one last crack at delivering his Mania classic, and that was a major part of the storyline here. From the get-go I was torn on this one. I was looking forward to a brutal, bloody war between these two, but I was sad to see Edge dropped from the main event title scene after how hot he had been to start the year. Lita was red-hot here and she would play an active role in the match. Edge and Mick would battle back and forth early, cracking each other with stiff cookie sheet and pan shots. In a great spot, Edge would spear Foley, but begin writhing in pain, his shoulder bloodied. Mick then revealed that he had barbed wire wrapped around his abdomen. He would then cut the wire off and whip Edge with it for a few nasty moments. Foley would get a huge pop for unleashing Barbie, and another one for a crazy Cactus clothesline with Lita on his back, knocking all three of the participants to the floor in the process. On the floor, Edge unleashed more violence with a stiff hip toss into the ring steps and a brutal head spike to the metal grating. After eating a Barbie shot, Mick was busted open pretty good and it was clear that this match was going to be a Mania classic, just as Foley had desired. After Edge took a sick back bump into some thumbtacks, Mick wrapped some barbed wire around Mr. Socko and fed it to both Edge and Lita, leaving the latter with a bloodied mouth. The gruesomeness continued as Mick lit up Edge’s stomach with more barbed wire. Lita would get involved again, this time dousing a table with lighter fluid and setting it afire. As Foley stumbled along the ring apron, Edge charged and speared Mick off the apron and through the flaming table. It was a shocking spot to see and both men writhed on the floor as Edge barely crawled over to cover Mick for the win. This was an awesome, bloody, brutal war and a big time win for Edge. He may have been out of the main event picture for the moment, but he and his longtime buddy steal the show and deliver that long awaited Mick Foley Mania classic. Grade: 4.5

*** Backstage, Booker and Sharmell are trying to figure out how to deal with the Boogeyman, when they happen upon a parade of freaks and misfits. They would pass by Pirate Paul Burchill, Ted DiBiase paying Eugene to dribble a basketball and known foot fetishist Snitsky having a moment with Mae Young’s foot. Goldust, who was wearing a dress and a curly brown wig, then greeted them and he would give them a pep talk about embracing their inner freak and gave them tips on how to deal with Boogeyman. As the rest of the misfits surrounded them, Booker and Sharmell quickly scurried off. ***

5) Boogeyman (Marty Wright) defeats Booker T (Booker Huffman) & Sharmell (Sharmell Sullivan-Huffman) when he pins Booker with a sit-out powerbomb at 3:54

Fun Fact: The night after No Way Out, Boogeyman began to terrorize Booker and Sharmell. On 3/3, Booker was wrestling Tatanka while Sharmell was on commentary. During the match, Boogey popped up from the crowd and frothed at the mouth behind Sharmell, distracting Booker and allowing Tatanka to win. The next week, Booker brought out a bag full of what he claimed were complaint letters from civic groups about Boogey’s mistreatment of women. Teddy Long appeared and told Booker that he would have to face Boogey at SNME. Red smoke and worms then began coming out of Booker’s bag, and Boogey appeared at ringside, sending Booker and Sharmell scurrying out of the ring. At SNME, Booker faked a knee injury to get out of his match. Later in the show, Boogey showed up in Booker’s locker room, sending him running into the hallway and right into Teddy, who saw that Booker was not injured. He then told Booker that he would be facing Boogey at Wrestlemania. The next week, Teddy forced Booker to sign a Mania contract and then revealed that the Mania bout would be a handicap match that included Sharmell as well. Finally on 3/31, Boogeyman interjected himself during a Booker/Burchill match and kidnapped Sharmell. Booker would find her later in a room filled with worms. He would rescue his wife but it was clear Boogey had won the psychological war heading into this match.

Poor Booker T. He drew the short straw and ended up having to job to Smackdown’s freak show. This is two straight years the Bookerman becomes a Wrestlemania afterthought. Last year he wins the off-air battle royal. Sure he won, but if you didn’t buy the DVD you wouldn’t have known it. Having Sharmell in this match is a huge waste of time since she’s not a wrestler but I guess they both needed to pay for faking injuries and lying to everyone over the past couple of months. He smooches Sharmell, worms and all, then powerbombs Booker to finish it. Not much more to say here, but Booker’s year will look better over time. Grade: .5

Justin: After three straight intense, hate-filled matches, we now get a little comedy to break things up. Booker and Sharmell had really developed into a great heel tandem and their natural chemistry was endearing. As usual, Booker would use Sharmell as a distraction to gain control early. He would drop Boogey with a stiff Book End, but Boogey kicked out and unleashed some sloppy offense. He would then eat a mouthful of worms before kissing Sharmell, sending her screaming to the back. Boogey grabbed Booker, slammed him down and picked up an upset win. Booker worked hard, but I guess it was fine for his heel character to get some comeuppance. Regardless, he had really caught fire as a heel and this was a pretty lame spot for him, quick loss included. Thankfully, things would shortly pick up for him. Grade: .5

6) Mickie James defeats Trish Stratus (Patricia Stratigias) to win WWE Women’s Title with a Chick Kick at 8:50

Fun Fact: Following the Rumble, this feud really began to pick up steam. On 1/30, Mickie held an in-ring Trish Appreciation Celebration. During the festivities, Ashley came out and told Mickie that Trish didn’t love her and that everyone thought she was crazy. Mickie snapped and assaulted Ashley in retaliation. The next week, Ashley pinned Mickie after Mickie bumped into Trish, who was serving as the guest ref. Later that night, Mickie was apologizing to Trish when Trish’s date Jack came in to check on Trish, angering Mickie. A week later, Jack caught Mickie in Trish’s dressing room, wearing a Trish-esque wig. Mickie began screaming that Jack was hurting her and had security take him away. She then told that same story to Trish when she returned. On 2/27, Mickie and Trish won a tag match and afterwards, Mickie got a little too close with her celebration, hugging Trish around the waist and burying her face in Trish’s lower abdomen. The next week, Trish told Mickie that she needed some space and wanted a break from hanging out with Mickie. Trish would relent the next week when Mickie asked to take the injured Torrie Wilson’s spot on Trish’s side of a tag team match at SNME. That Saturday, Mickie and Trish won the match, but things got ugly afterwards. Mickie tried to kiss Trish after the bell, but Trish turned away to avoid it. Mickie followed with a Chick Kick and Stratusfaction coupled with psychotic facial expressions. On 3/20, it was announced that Mickie would face Trish for the title at Wrestlemania. Mickie then came out as a giant box was placed in the ring. After Trish refused to come out for the present, Mickie had the box removed to reveal Ashley tied up and gagged. Trish tried to make the save, but Mickie beat her down and left her knocked out with a huge DDT. The highlight was Mickie’s bloody nose adding to her sadistic facial expressions. The next week, we got a vignette of Mickie in a room filled with candles and pictures of Trish. She claimed that she was now obsessed with winning the Women’s title and destroying Trish’s career.

Trish Stratus is the hottest, most popular diva in the company. Until now, that is. Mickie James should win an Oscar for her performance since she’s been here. From all the facial mannerisms, to her work in the ring, to her hot lesbian overtones, Mickie has covered all the bases to perfection. Even when they’re in the ring to start, Mickie just has that look you wish you could take home: hot and crazy. They met at New Year’s Revolution but there it was face vs. sort of tweener. This time Mickie is full heel and the chemistry’s even better. Trish is pretty vicious and aggressive early with chops and kicks. The turning point comes outside when Trish goes for a Chick Kick but misses and kicks the steel post. Mickie starts working the leg outside but Trish rebounds and in the ring they actually start wrestling haymakers. Echoing my feelings, the crowd starts a loud “Let’s Go Mickie”, strictly because she’s…well…hot and crazy! These two are great in the ring because they’re wrestling like guys, doing submissions and stiff punches instead of screaming and slapping each other. The crowd is really getting into Mickie as this match progresses, continuing to work over Trish’s leg. On top of the fact that Mickie’s hot and crazy, she’s actually outwrestling Trish during this match. The crowd gets excited when Trish’s head is between Mickie’s legs, but then Trish powerbombs her. Then the true highlight of the match, as Trish goes for Stratusfaction, but suddenly Mickie sticks her hand between Trish’s legs and Trish lets go. Mickie then licks her fingers. Give me a moment…ok I’m fine now. The finger licking is cut off the DVD but that doesn’t matter to me. Mickie hits her own Chick Kick and takes her title. The crowd goes crazy. Mickie is instantly the most popular diva now, because she’s…to repeat…hot and crazy. As a match it was highly entertaining and full of energy. Grade: 3.5

Justin: This has been such a tremendous feud and it fully deserved the Wrestlemania spotlight. Both women were locked in, looking hot and ready to deliver. Mickie’s character work and facials were really the best we have seen from a Diva in a long time. Trish unleashed some stiff offense early and Mickie was great in bumping all over the place. Things would turn when Trish misses Mickie and kicked the ring post instead. The crowd was fully behind Mickie as she started to work over Trish’s leg, and Mickie was great as she reveled in the cheers, letting them fuel her desire to wreck Trish. As Trish battled back, she was booed big time as the crowd was really delivering a great atmosphere. After a solid running powerbomb by Trish, she lined Mickie up for a Stratusfaction. Before she could hit it, Mickie officially captured the heart of every male wrestling fan around the world by rubbing Trish’s vageen. As if that wasn’t great enough, she then proceeded to lick her fingers, really freaking Trish out and generating a tremendous pop. Mickie would take advantage of the shocked Trish and went for her own Stratusfaction, but they would botch the move and crash to the mat. I didn’t think the botch really hurt things here, though, because Trish’s leg had been badly damaged throughout the match, so it made sense that it would collapse mid-move. Mickie would shake it off, crack Trish with a Chick Kick and win the title to a huge pop. These two really busted their asses and filled the match with smart psychology and stiff offense and it was a lot of fun to watch. Really, it was the perfect continuation of what has already been a killer feud. Mickie now has the Women’s gold, but you know this feud was not quite over yet. Grade: 3

*** A jacked up Vince McMahon mockingly prays alongside Linda, Shane and Stephanie. The highlight was his opening line: “God, you don’t like me and I don’t like you!” ***

7) Undertaker (Mark Callaway) defeats Mark Henry in a Casket Match at 9:27

Fun Fact: On 3/3, Undertaker received a World Title rematch against Kurt Angle. After twenty-four minutes of actions, it looked like Taker was poised to win, but Mark Henry and Daivari interfered and cost Taker the match. After the bell, Henry knocked Taker to the floor and crushed him with a splash through the announce table. The next week, Henry claimed that Taker had stolen his title rematch and that Angle only remained champion because of him. Later that night, Henry would put Angle through the announce table with a splash as well. After he did, Undertaker’s music hit and a challenge for a Wrestlemania casket match was issued into the arena. On SNME, Henry and Daivari were cutting a promo, but were interrupted by Undertaker and a cadre of druids that wheeled a casket to ringside. Taker would fight Henry off and proceed to Tombstone Daivari on top of the casket. The assault would knock Daivari out of Wrestlemania. On 3/24, Henry would defeat Angle in a non-title match thanks to some accidental interference by Rey Mysterio. He then warned Taker that he was going to end the streak. Finally, on 3/31, Henry delivered a promo inside the ring, which was decorated as a church, and ran through all the men that had failed to end the streak, claiming that he would finally get the job done.

Scott: I watched this match and I thought to myself, are we going to watch Wrestlemania IX or XI again. Undertaker facing a lumbering oaf with no workrate and boring power moves? Honestly, no. I’ll give Mark Henry credit for actually bringing the goods and the attitude to this match and Taker, who never dogs a match lately, anyway, let Henry bring the power. Of course with it being a casket match the pace is dreadfully slow but that was expected. The crowd stayed with it, including when Taker powerbombed Henry off the second turnbuckle. Plus, after being with the company almost ten years this is Mark Henry’s first major Wrestlemania moment. So he was extra motivated anyway. Taker does his flying Plancha, then amazingly gets Henry up for a Tombstone, hits it and dumps Henry in the casket for the win. That was expected, but for a short nine-minute match it wasn’t bad. It’s not often Taker’s in a throwaway match but with all the main event matches set he needed to go somewhere. The druids come out and take the vanquished Henry away. Grade: 2

Justin: With the main event pictures already full, Undertaker drops down to the mid-card to defend his streak. After finally being referenced regularly over the last few years, it is here that the announcers and Mark Henry really began to push the streak as legendary and making it the focal point of Taker’s match. Taker has his usual cool Mania entrance, complete with druids rolling the casket to the ring. Early on, Taker struggled to knock Henry down and the two would trade off basic power strikes and casket teases. For the first time in a long while, Henry was really being pushed well as a monster heel and a legit threat in the ring. The pace was pretty slow as expected, but we did get a pair of cool spots in Taker’s powerbomb from the corner and his insane plancha over the top rope, over the casket and onto Henry. After an impressive tombstone, Taker rolled Henry into the casket and slammed the door shut to remain undefeated at Wrestlemania. The two guys tried hard here, but they didn’t really mesh well and outside of a couple of cool spots, this was just a decent little brawl. Both men veer off in other directions but they would forever be linked in history as the legend of Taker’s streak of dominance grows by the year. Grade: 1.5

8) Shawn Michaels (Michael Hickenbottom) defeats Vince McMahon in a No Holds Barred match with Sweet Chin Music at 18:27

Fun Fact: On 1/30, Shawn Michaels confronted Vince McMahon about Shane costing him the Royal Rumble match, challenging him to a fight. Vince refused to fight, but dared Shawn to hit him, with the caveat that Vince would fire him upon contact. As Shawn was distracted, Shane assaulted him with a chair. On 2/6, Vince called out Shawn about a threat he made to walk out of WWE. Vince took it literally, pulled him out of the Road to Wrestlemania tournament, and told Shawn that he would be throwing him a retirement party the following week. A week later, Vince threw Shawn his party, but Shawn refused to sign the retirement papers, tearing them up instead. Vince then smacked Shawn in the face and told him he had opened the gates to his own personal hell. On 2/20, Marty Jannetty made his WWE return, saving Michaels from a Spirit Squad attack. Vince then told Jannetty that he would offer him a contract if he joined the Vince McMahon Kiss My Ass Club the following week. The next week, Shawn apologized to Marty for getting him involved in this mess, but Marty said he was just helping out a friend. Marty then told Shawn that he doesn’t kiss ass, but that he was broke and needed the job, so he was going to do what he had to do. At the end of the night, Marty was in position to kiss Vince’s ass, but he couldn’t do it and asked if there was another way. Vince told him he could take the Masterlock Challenge instead. Masters would hook the Masterlock and then force Marty towards Vince’s ass, but Shawn made the save. Shawn would take out Masters, but Shane slid in and smacked Shawn with a chair. Vince then told Shawn he would face Shane at SNME. Shane then picked up the unconscious Shawn and made him kiss Vince’s ass. A week later, Shawn jumped a bragging Vince to start the show. After security pulled him off, Vince said that Shawn would face Shane in a street fight at SNME and a regular match later that night. Later in the show, the pregnant Stephanie McMahon appeared and apologized to Shawn. She then faked some pains and as Shawn went to get help, Steph laced his water. A few minutes into his match with Shane, Shawn succumbed to the spiked water and collapsed. Shane would easily pin him and Vince would subsequently do the same. On 3/13, Vince demanded that Shawn submit himself to a public drug test due to his erratic behavior the week before. Vince told Shawn that he would forfeit his SNME match if he failed. Shawn would go behind a partition and piss in a cup, but instead of handing it to the doctor, he threw the piss on Vince and Shane. Later that night, Vince told Shane that he was bringing Jim Ross back for SNME so he could call Shane’s beatdown on Shawn. Also that night, Shawn would lose a handicap cage match to the Spirit Squad after Shane slammed the cage door on his head. At SNME, Shane would win a violent brawl thanks to Vince calling for the bell while he had Michaels locked in a Sharpshooter, revisiting Montreal once again. That week on Raw, Vince and Shane hilariously marched to the ring as balloons and confetti filled the air and a jazz band played “When the Saints Go Marching In”. Vince announced that he and Shawn would compete in a No Holds Barred match at Wrestlemania. Shawn would later wrestle Shane and Triple H to a no contest when John Cena got involved to help Michaels out. On 3/27, Michaels faced Triple H, but things got ugly again after he got hit with a Pedigree and sledgehammer after Vince got involved. He would receive another brutal sledgehammer shot to end the show.

Fun Fact II:
Marty Jannetty was set to stick around and continue alongside Shawn in his feud with the McMahons, with rumors sparking up that he was even supposed turn on Shawn and feud with him. Before the angle could continue, Marty was cut loose once again and things were rewritten. Marty later revealed that his probation agreement prevented him from traveling to Birmingham, AL for that week’s Raw. Vince decided they couldn’t take a chance with this issue cropping up again, so they had to let Marty go and end his comeback angle abruptly.

Fun Fact III:
With Bret Hart being inducted into the Hall of Fame, rumors began to swirl that Vince and company were hoping to lock him down for a Wrestlemania appearance as well. There were a couple of ideas floated, one stating that Bret would wrestle Vince and another that Bret would referee a match between Shawn and Vince and after the match Bret would get to punch Vince out. Despite the fact that Bret would come out looking strong, he still didn’t fully trust Vince and was comfortable with where he was in life and didn’t want to go back on his beliefs. He stated that his HOF appearance was for his fans and to honor his career and that he didn’t want to get involved in storylines. In the end, Bret did not even appear in the HOF segment of Wrestlemania, as he flew home right after the HOF ceremony. Despite Bret’s stance, Vince would continue the full court press following this show and we will get into that at our next PPV review.

Fun Fact IV:
This is Vince McMahon’s first PPV match since defeating Undertaker at Survivor Series 2003.

In what has become Vince McMahon’s tour of facing all his legendary main eventers, which would continue in the coming years, he tangles with probably his most athletic employee ever. Michaels told Vince to grow up and get over all his grudges. Vince decided to create a new grudge. Right from the bell Shawn is the aggressor, including smashing Vince over the head with his “Muscle & Fitness” cover in a frame. Vince’s backup, the Spirit Squad, came into the ring as reinforcements to work Shawn over. They get a few shots in, but eventually Shawn smacks them around and they disperse. From there it becomes a back and forth battle, till Vince’s son Shane comes down the ramp and smacks Shawn with a kendo stick. You knew from the get go that this was going to be a spotfest with a lot of posturing. Unlike the Hogan/Vince street fight three years earlier, where you had two fifty-something guys going at the same pace, Shawn essentially dictating the pace and dishing out all of the offense. With Shane handcuffed to the ropes, Shawn goes to the top of a very tall ladder that he finds under the ring. After pasting Vince with a chair and smashing him with a garbage can, he sticks a can on the boss’ head. He lays Vince on a table, and drops a very tall elbow. However before he does that, we see something Shawn hasn’t done in almost eight years: The DX Chop. I was stunned. Then, a smile pursed my lips. Was it happening? Was he going back to…nah! Shawn then DX chops the handcuffed Shane, superkicks Vince and wins the match. This was an enjoyable, glorified squash. Another memorable win for Michaels and the defiant Vince gives the finger on the stretcher, as this feud isn’t over. Grade: 3

Justin: This feud kicked off at the very end of 2005 and after the McMahons have gotten the best of Michaels at every turn, Shawn finally gets a clean crack at revenge here. Vince was insanely jacked and tanned here and his massive muscles were only overshadowed by JR’s hyperdrive hyperbole as he angrily called for the Boss’s head. Vince would proudly unveil a large portrait of his Muscle & Fitness magazine cover at ringside, but it would quickly be destroyed as Shawn bashed it over Vince’s head during his hot start. Spirit Squad would interfere early on and after they beat Shawn down, they busted out some pretty funny celebratory dance moves. Shawn would recover and wipe them out, but would succumb to some nasty belt whips from Vince. Michaels would whip him right back but eat a nasty kendo stick shot from an interfering Shane. Shawn would fend off Shane and force him to kiss his dad’s ass as Vince was bent over and prepped for Shawn’s lips. Shawn would cuff Shane to the ropes and then destroy Vince with a stupid sick chair shot to the head. It was really hard to watch such a nasty shot to the head and Vince’s ensuing blade job was equally as gross as the blood just poured from his skull. Shawn would tease SCM on Vince, but backed off to unleash more punishment instead. He would continue to brutally assault Vince with an over the top attack. Shawn would head outside the ring and pull out a massive ladder to a huge pop. He stuffed Vince into a garbage can on top of a table, ascended the ladder and dove off and crushed Vince. I thought it was a pretty obscene and unnecessary spot and that the match had been brutal enough without it. Shawn would finally finish the destruction of Vince off with a stiff SCM, but despite this feeling like a blowoff, it would be far from it. Overall, this was a good garbage match with some nasty spots, albeit a little excessive towards the end. Shawn would toss in a crotch chop for good measure and Vince capped it off with a great bloody middle finger as he was carted out of the ring and it wouldn’t take him long to start looking for revenge. Grade: 3

*** We get a quick promo for next year’s Wrestlemania: April 1, 2007 at Ford Field in Detroit. It would be the 20th Anniversary of Wrestlemania III. ***

9) Rey Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez) defeats Kurt Angle and Randy Orton in a Triple Threat match to win World Heavyweight Title by pinning Orton with a West Coast Pop at 9:25

Fun Fact: On the 2/24 Smackdown, Randy Orton opened the show by bragging about his win over Rey Mysterio. The bragging continued until Chavo Guerrero attacked him and nailed him with a frog splash. Later in the show, Rey was apologizing to the fans when Teddy Long joined him in the ring. He announced that Orton winning the PPV match was official and he would be heading to Wrestlemania. However, he also decided that Rey deserved to be there as well, so he officially made the Smackdown Wrestlemania main event a triple threat match. The next week, Kurt Angle would barely hang onto his title against Undertaker, winning by DQ. On 3/10, Angle and Mysterio teamed to battle Orton and Mark Henry to a no contest, but Angle would receive the worst of it after Henry splashed him through a table. The next week, Angle, Mysterio and Orton were forced to team up and they would defeat Henry and MNM. At SNME, the three men would be forced to team again, this time losing to John Cena and Triple H. On 3/24, Henry would defeat Angle in a non-title match, after Mysterio accidentally hit Angle with a seated senton that was intended for Orton. After the match, Angle shoved Mysterio down, but Rey came back and hit Angle with a 619. Orton fired some verbal shots on 3/31, calling Angle a “paper champion” and Mysterio a “charity case” before leaving the arena. Later that night, Angle would defeat Mysterio in a non-title match. Orton would return after the finish and drop Rey with an RKO. Angle then came back and took Orton down with an Angle Slam and hooked in the Anklelock to close out the show.

Fun Fact II:
There are a lot of rumors out there regarding the original plans for this match, and we thought we would run through some of them. One talks about a plan that was set prior to Eddie Guerrero’s passing. The plan was for Eddie to defeat Batista and hold the title to Wrestlemania, where he would then lose it to Orton. After Eddie passed away, it was assumed that Batista would lose the belt to Orton at Mania instead. However, after Batista was injured, Vince McMahon reportedly asked Shawn Michaels to temporarily jump to Smackdown to win the vacated title and then job it to Orton at Mania. Shawn turned the offer down due to Smackdown tapings conflicting with his church commitments. Vince then turned to Angle and ask him to do the same thing he had asked Michaels. Angle agreed, but request a feud with Undertaker first, as he was originally scheduled to face Taker at Mania before this all went down. After Angle won the title, he told Vince he didn’t think Orton deserved to win it because he was messing up backstage on a regular basis. He told Vince that they should do the Taker match at Mania instead. Vince was against it and then settled on having Rey Mysterio win the Rumble and the title at Mania to play off of Eddie’s passing. Angle offered to turn heel to feud with Rey because he was adamant about not working with Orton at Mania, but Vince wanted the triple threat to happen, so it was set. Angle has later said that he lost some respect for Michaels because of how he handled things and also said that he was sick of being a utility guy instead of the main guy. Word also began to circulate about how Orton was acting backstage, including calling the Divas “cunts”, acting childishly and also reportedly brazenly smoking a joint in the open to flaunt that he felt he was exempt from the wellness policy.

First off, putting this match where it was adds some intrigue since you could have anybody win and not ruin the crowd. The crowd clearly wanted Angle to retain the title, which kind of ruins the emotion of Rey winning for Eddie Guerrero. The immediate problem here is the duration. Nine minutes? What is this, Smackdown? This match needed at least five more minutes but because of that the pace of the match went almost too fast. We’d have some spots and then on to the next set of spots, then the next set and so on. There really needed to be some time to develop this match’s psychology. Rey even botches a 619 out on the apron because he went too fast. Angle looked the strongest here as he got both Rey and Orton to tap out. However, destiny was going to happen. Angle gets pitched out of the ring, and then Rey hits the 619 and the West Coast Pop on Orton to win his first World Title. Regardless of the emotions of winning it for Eddie’s memory the crowd wasn’t totally popping for it. Clearly the fans wanted to see Angle retain the title, and when it was placed at this point of the show many thought it might happen. Unfortunately the match as a whole ruined whoever would have won it because it was rushed and cut much shorter than it should have been. I never realized how much I didn’t like this match until I watched it again simply because it got stiffed on time. Grade: 2.5

Justin: After winning the Royal Rumble and being handed back his title shot by Teddy Long, Rey receives a grand entrance, wearing a crazy bird costume and being played to the ring by P.O.D. After tons of rumors and some interesting backstage stories, Orton stays in this match and his cocky demeanor added a needed heel presence to the bout. Despite the office clearly being behind Rey as the top face of the match, Kurt Angle would receive the biggest pop and the fans were clearly behind him the whole way through. Orton struck first, smacking Angle with the belt before the bell. Once Angle shook that off and got back into the ring, he morphed into a manic suplex machine, beginning when he unleashed a nasty double German suplex on both guys at the same time. As Scott mentioned, the pace throughout the entire match was pretty crazy, as they tried to squeeze in a classic in less than ten minutes. In a really cool sequence, Angle would reverse a 619 into an Anklelock, but Orton would make the desperate save. Angle continued to crush both challengers with suplexes, going into to total beast mode and the crowd loved every minute of it. As if he didn’t look strong enough already, Angle would get two visual victories while the referee was down and then kicked out of an RKO. After a few more near falls, Rey would hit Orton with a West Coast Pop and grabbed a flash pin to gain revenge and win the title in one fell swoop. Rey’s win was a nice moment but it was hard to really get into it, because you know he only got it because of Eddie passing away. Also, the match needed more time to tell a better story and the triple threat set up hurt the drama of Rey’s win. Angle looked the strongest, Rey looked lucky and Orton came across as a cocky job boy. Despite all those faults, the match itself was a lot of fun and was non-stop action with a hot crowd. Grade: 3.5

10) Torrie Wilson defeats Candice Michelle in a Playboy Pillow Fight with a roll up at 3:55

Fun Fact: On 2/16, Candice announced that she would be gracing the cover of Playboy. On 3/6, Candice unveiled the cover and claimed that she was the hottest WWE Diva and that her cover was hotter than both of Torrie’s combined. Torrie didn’t appreciate the comments and told Candice that she was being a bitch. Candice apologized but then she and Victoria assaulted Torrie and beat her down. On 3/13, Torrie cost Victoria a title match with Trish Stratus and Victoria vowed revenge. Torrie was set to team with Trish at SNME, but she was later found unconscious and was scratched from the match. A week later, it was announced that Torrie and Candice would face off in a Playboy Pillow Fight at Mania. Finally, on 3/27, Torrie would team with Trish to defeat Victoria and Candice.

Scott: This was simply to give the crowd a beer and bathroom break before the main event. Candice is hot, Torrie is hot, and the match is junk. Grade: 0

Justin: With Candice receiving the usual pre-Wrestlemania Playboy push, we get a quick time waster to spell the crowd between title matches. There was a bed in the ring and the two hotties would perform the usual catfight. This was pretty stupid and wasted precious minutes that could have went to the previous match. Grade: 0

11) John Cena defeats Triple H (Paul Levesque) to retain WWE Championship by submission with the STFU at 22:04

Fun Fact: On 2/20, Triple H won the finals of an eight-man tournament to earn a title match with John Cena at Wrestlemania. The next week, the two men had a tense in ring confrontation in which Triple H derided Cena’s title reign as a transitional one and said he had no chance to beat the Game at Mania. Cena would retaliate, but it was a confusing retort as he basically kept talking about how great Hunter was, basically putting him over as a legend. There would be a lot of debate and consternation over the way the two men acted in the segment and ensuing promos, as Hunter would continue to run down Cena’s in-ring abilities and Cena would continue to talk up Hunter. On SNME, the two would team up to defeat Mysterio, Orton and Angle, but during the match, Hunter dropped Cena with a Pedigree. On 3/13, Cena and Hunter signed the official contract and then faced off on opposite sides of a six-man tag. On 3/27, Cena was forced to face off with Vince McMahon, but things would quickly degenerate and Cena would be left bloodied courtesy Hunter’s sledgehammer.

Scott: Here we are. As a fan, not an analyst, this was my most anticipated main event in recent Wrestlemania history. In his previous Wrestlemania main events, Triple H was the champion and we all knew he was losing to who the hottest guy at the time was in Chris Benoit and Batista. But here, the hot guy was the champion. John Cena was clearly getting the split crowds at this point. So even a few months after getting horribly booed against Big Show at New Year’s Revolution, Triple H is the beloved favorite of every male fan over the age of eighteen. Who was driving that bandwagon? This guy! Everyone knows Triple H is my favorite wrestler and I never hide that. However depending on the time and the feuds I usually contain my favoritism. Not here. I wanted Triple H to win in the worst way. Earlier in the night I had my heart broken when Ric Flair didn’t win the MITB match, but I kind of knew he wasn’t going to. However here, I really truly thought that the King of Kings was going back on his throne. Early on the match was booked exactly as the buildup stated: Triple H was clearly a better wrestler and he was going to show it. The real question that had to be asked was: Could John Cena control an actual Wrestlemania main event? The year before in Los Angeles he wasn’t exactly in the main event so the microscope wasn’t totally on him, plus he was the challenger, so JBL was the tempo dictator. However here the PPV was totally set up for this match and Cena needed to bring the goods and not make Triple H do all the work. Watching this match, he worked it. Now the pace was pretty normal as both men went back and forth with everything they could. Of course the crowd was crazy Bizarro as they were cheering for Triple H at every move, including his using “The Equalizer”, his sledgehammer. Triple H also mimicked Shawn Michaels and did the DX Chop. That was it. I was on the edge of my seat, and when Triple H kicked out of the FU I was out of my skin. I thought this was now it. The Game was reclaiming his throne. Then Cena gets the STFU and I was yelling at the TV…Don’t Tap…Don’t Tap…and he tapped. Cena survived the battle with the best and retained his WWE Championship. I threw a couch pillow and stormed out of the living room. However, the mark had to leave me and the analyst had to come back in. John Cena battled the Game, the pressure and the crowd that hated his guts didn’t faze him and he went out and put a great match on against one of the best ever. So, on the one hand I was pleasantly surprised that the match went off well, but disappointed that one of the few times I actually was a ten year old mark, and wanted my guy to win. It does cap off a better Wrestlemania than I gave it credit for. I tried Game, I tried. Grade: 3.5

Justin: Before the competitors made their way to the ring, JR set the stage for the match beautifully. He also explained why the crowd might be split; stating that old school wrestling fans would be backing Triple H while the new school of fans would be backing Cena. His belief was true, but the reasons were a bit off. Truth was, the men in the crowd would be backing the Game and the women and kids were behind Cena. JR would excel throughout the match, elaborately telling the story of the two competitors. The atmosphere for this match was tremendous and it had a true big match feel, which was exemplified by the insanely over-the-top entrances by both men. Hunter would set the bar high, rising from under the stage in a giant throne, decked out like Conan the Barbarian and flanked by a gigantic sledgehammer as his new “King of Kings” theme blared in the arena. Cena raised the ante as his entrance was preceded by a video history lesson on the Chicago mob and union wars of years gone by. An old school car then drove out from under the stage and a handful of developmental talents ran around the ring with Tommy guns. Cena then emerged with a trench coat and a gun of his own which he fired into the crowd. The whole thing was way over the top, but added certain flair to this big time matchup. The majority of the crowd was clearly behind Hunter and he tried to show up Cena by mat wrestling early. He would succeed in frustrating Cena, but the Champ fought him off and began unleashing his usual offensive arsenal. Once Hunter took over, he unleashed some hard-precision offense as JR pimped his skills, mainly to big pops from the Chicago fans. The pace would slow down a bit, but it quickly picked back up with Cena’s comeback, which was soundly booed as expected. After a nice STFU struggle, Hunter would hit a great nut shot, wiping out Cena and the referee with one fell swoop. This was a unique main event thanks to the atmosphere and also due to the booking, which portrayed Hunter as the cooler badass and Cena as the guy who was trying a little too hard to win over the fans but just couldn’t keep up. Hunter would crotch chop Cena before smacking him with the sledgehammer for a good near fall. The crowd was really rocking at this point, and after a near fall with an FU, Cena would do the unthinkable and force Hunter to tap out cleanly to the STFU. This was a huge win for Cena, forcing the Game to tap in the Wrestlemania main event. Kudos for Hunter for putting Cena over cleanly, although he isn’t fully absolved for the direction the angle took in the weeks leading into the show. JR was on fire in this match and his passion matched that of the crowd. Cena is still King of Raw, but he is not done with the Game just yet. Grade: 4

Final Analysis:

Scott: This was a very balanced Wrestlemania from top to bottom. Edge established himself as a player, if he wasn’t already, with his clutch hardcore performance against the Hardcore Legend. The Money in the Bank match lived up to the hype and a well-deserving RVD wins the briefcase and a future title shot. Shawn Michaels made more memories with his glorified squash of Vince. John Cena truly headlines his first Wrestlemania with Triple H and they put on a pretty solid match. The Triple Threat World Title match was a mess because it just didn’t have time to develop. The rest of the show was pretty average, including a rare forgotten Undertaker win. It’s hard to gauge how good this show is or how it will affect the rest of 2006. A lot of things change from here on out for a few characters and a huge addition to the WWE product will also change things up, so in a few months this show may be forgotten. Grading this show as a standalone, its very good and I’ll grade it higher than it probably should be because of the awesome Peter Gabriel song “Big Time” that gets stuck in your head every time you watch the show. John Cena gets a big win, Ric Flair doesn’t, and I’m pissed. Final Grade: B-

Justin: For years, I would always read people trashing this show. I understand that it was a down time for WWE, coming off a tepid second half of 2005 and a crazy early part of 2006, filled with flux, injuries and major changes. As I read all the negative comments, I was a bit confused as I always remembered liking the show. Upon watching it again, my original opinions were confirmed in that this was a pretty good Wrestlemania. Sure, it has its filler like any other major show, but the big matches all delivered and clock in at good ratings. We got a trio of violent garbage matches with the MITB spotfest, Edge and Foley putting on a hardcore clinic and the brutal Shawn Michaels assault on Vince McMahon. The women’s title match was very good, and, inane booking aside, the triple threat title match was a lot of fun as well. The main event was a spectacle on many levels and adds a memorable closing segment for this Wrestlemania. 2006 will be a really interesting year for WWE, with many ups and downs and a lot of changes. This would be the last non-dome Wrestlemania for a while, but the red-hot Chicago fans proved that you don’t need 70,000 fans to provide an awesome atmosphere for the biggest show of the year. This Wrestlemania was enjoyable to watch all the way through and provided more than enough great matches to make it an easy winner. Final Grade: B

MVP: Edge & Mick Foley
Runner Up: John Cena
Non MVP: Booker T.
Runner Up: Randy Orton

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