Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Ramblemania Rewind 22 - WWE Wrestlemania 22 (2006)

Date: April 2nd, 2006
Venue: AllState Arena, Rosemount, IL
Attendance: 17,155

Fun fact: The theme song for this year's Mania was Peter Gabriel's hit song, "Big Time." Which is a bit ironic because if there's anything that Wrestlemania 22 felt like the least, it was "big time."

I can recall this show not doing much for me back in the day. The card on paper was a bit lacking, they had just bumped the PPV price tag, and honestly, I was more excited for the returning Saturday Night's Main Event show that was taking place... which ended up being a bust, but that's another story, entirely. Now I do recall in the original Ramblemania posting saying that I felt this was a pretty good show in spite of the lack of anticipation, even if it did feature a couple things that bog it down a bit. This was also the first Mania after Eddie Guerrero passed away and... well, that's relevant in our Smackdown World title match, which is a three-way.

RAW Tag-Team Champions Kane and The Big Show defeated Carlito Carribean Cool and Chris Masters to retain the titles. This was a thing that happened... but hey, at least it was short; a little over six minutes. So I ain't complaining much.

Rob Van Dam defeated Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, Fit Finlay, Bobby Lashley, and Ric Flair (Who The Fuck Booked Ric Flair In A Ladder Match?!) in the second annual Money In The Bank ladder match to win the briefcase that he would eventually cash in at the ECW One Night Stand 2006 PPV and win the WWE Championship to kick off the whole WWECW experiment. This was a step down from the previous ladder match, partly because there weren't as many crazy people to do the usual crazy spots that you'd typically associate with a match like this. I did express surprise that Bobby Lashley was here. I knew he'd be in ECW, but I didn't expect to see him here. I don't know why, but there you go.

John Bradshaw Leyfield defeated United States Champion Chris Benoit to win the title... eh, I didn't really care for this match. Not one of Benoit's better outings, though I'd imagine it's a better JBL match compared to his usual fare, so that's... something, I guess?

Edge defeated Mick Foley in a "Hardcore Falls Count Anywhere" match that featured Joey Styles providing commentary... yeah, I should probably mention this backstory.

So WWE did their ECW One Night Stand reunion in 2005 and some time later, they got Jim Ross off of commentary and decided to replace him with "The Voice Of ECW" himself, Joey Styles. Joey Styles on RAW was... something. He was trying to do his usual schtick, but it was toned down considerably. And I guess the higher ups weren't high on Joey, so the call was made for Mania to replace Joey with - wait for it - JIM FUCKING ROSS. Yes, Joey Styles apparently wasn't good enough to call an entire Wrestlemania card on his own, which is LAUGHABLE when you consider some of the people brought in to commentary before or since. But they were able to throw ol' Joey a bone and have him do commentary for this hardcore match, so that's something.

This match was a lot of fun; a lot of hokey hardcore stuff here and there, but both guys gave it their all, the crowd was into it, and if nothing else, the finish was at least creative; Edge spearing Foley through a flaming table for the win isn't exactly original, but it wasn't something you'd expect to see at Wrestlemania, either. And yes, that did elicit the trademark "OH MY GOD!" shriek from Joey Styles... and that does it for Joey on this night. Here's your Mania payday, pal.

The Boogeyman defeated Booker T... and, um, yeah, this was a thing that happened. On the bright side, Booker has a King Of The Ring tourney win and a World Title reign to look forward to in the near future, so it's not all bad.

Mickie James defeated Women's Champion Trish Stratus to win the title. Since I'm watching my old DVDR recording of the original PPV airing, we get the naughty bit of Mickie groping Trish to get out of a move (they'd edit this out of replays) and some stuff gets botched or something. This is Mickie James as the stalker fan of Trish and not the more mature Mickie that everyone seems to like nowadays. 2006 Mickie is more unhinged back in the days. The match was fine until the finish, which went off a cliff after the grope.

The Undertaker defeated Mark Henry in a "Casket" match... this match sucked. It's not Giant Gonzales bad, but still pretty bad.

Shawn Michaels pinned Vince McMahon (18:00) in a "No Holds Barred" match... Shawn carried Vince to a watchable match. That's all I'm going to say on the matter and we shall move on.

Rey Mysterio defeated World Heavyweight Champion Kurt Angle and Randy Orton in a triple-threat match that saw Rey pin Orton to win the title and basically go on to be one of the worst-booked World champions in WWE history, losing every single match that wasn't a title match and basically being treated like a complete and utter joke. This was during the height of Eddie-sploitation, where Mysterio was being pushed based on his association with the late Eddie Guerrero, who was being used in storylines despite being dead for real. The match itself isn't anything special, but the circumstances around this match soured me on this whole deal back in the day... and it's none the better watching this eighteen years later.

Torrie Wilson defeated Candice Michelle in a Diva Playoby Pillow Fight Match. Yes, in between two World title matches, they had two WWE Divas and Playboy cover bunnies go out in front of 17,000+ people to have a pillow fight for four minutes and hope everyone is distracted enough to not boo our chosen champion. It didn't work and I almost feel bad for the ladies in hindsight.

WWE Champion John Cena (dressed as a 1930s gangster and accompanied by a bunch of developmental talents dressed as 1930s gangsters, including one Phillip K Punk) defeated Triple H (dressed in a laughable Conan get-up that wrestling fans have dubbed 'Gonad The Barbarian') via submission (I'm as shocked as you are) to retain the title. Yeah, look, it's easy to see that there's hints of the love/hate relationship between John Cena and the crowd. The guy gets booed, there's very audible dueling chants of "Let's Go, Cena! Fuck you, Cena!" every so often. HHH, who's supposed to be the heel - and with that Gonad The Barbarian get-up, how could he not be - was treated as the world's biggest babyface that ever babyfaced. If the idea was to prop Cena up as the big beloved babyface hero that would carry the company over to the next decade... well, let's just say that didn't quite work out.

But setting that whole business aside - and yes, I did write a post years ago about how every HHH Wrestlemania main event sucked... and the crowd reactions would certainly be a key point in that argument... but in a vacuum, I thought this was a pretty good match. When Hunter is on his game, he can deliver the goods. This was a case of the guy doing anything and everything within his power to take this John Cena kid to that higher level that he needs to be. Not to take anything away from John Cena, because he held up his end just fine and showed that he could hang with the big boys when he's put in that situation. The crowd, unfortunately, weren't going to play ball and that's where this match's failings lie, but as far as the action goes - many years after the fact and long after my dislike for John Cena's push had subsided - they had a pretty good, hard-hitting match with a surprising finish.

Wrestlemania 22 is a generally middle-of-the-road Mania. Not exactly a show with many worthwhile moments outside of that Foley/Edge hardcore match and certainly a show that didn't need to be four hours, but the show had some highlights that, with the benefit of hindsight, are actually a little better than I probably gave it credit for. Yes, some of this stuff is bad, but there's enough good things here that I'd call this a perfectly enjoyable little wrestling show.

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