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By Wade Keller, Torch editor
WWE WRESTLEMANIA 22 REPORT
APRIL 2, 2006
LIVE FROM CHICAGO, ILL.
REPORT BY WADE KELLER, TORCH EDITOR
-Michelle Williams sang America the Beautiful.
-A WrestleMania video aired.
-Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler introduced the show, then threw to Michael Cole and Tazz.
1 -- KANE & BIG SHOW vs. CARLITO & CHRIS MASTERS - WWE Tag Team Title match
Pretty much a squash. Late in the match, Masters tried to break up a chokeslam attempt, but hit Carlito by mistake. The heels bickered afterward.
WINNERS: Big Show & Kane to retain the WWE Tag Team Titles in 6:00.
STAR RATING: *
-Coach interviewed Shawn Michaels backstage. Coach asked if after all that's happened, he regrets what he said to Vince McMahon. Michaels said he never regrets telling the truth. He said tonight you won't get the typical five-star Michaels match. He said you're going to get a new HBK and he's going to put Vince through his own personal hell.
2 -- RIC FLAIR vs. MATT HARDY vs. SHELTON BENJAMIN vs. ROB VAN DAM vs. FIT FINLAY vs. BOBBY LASHLEY -- Money in the Bank match
Ross and Tazz called this interpromotional match. Best fan sign: "Flair needs an escalator." Shelton leaped over the top rope onto three wrestlers at ringside for an early highspot. Hardy suplexed Flair off the ladder. Flair's legs landed awkwardly on the bottom rope. Flair was helped out of the ringside area by two officials, grabbing at his knee and screaming in pain. Looked like worked selling. Shelton moved out of the path of an RVD Rolling Thunder. Shelton went for a sunset flip off the ladder and with the help of Hardy and Finlay, took Lashley to the mat. At 6:00, Flair limped back to the ring to a round of applause. Flair threw a barrage of chops at Shelton and Hardy, then climbed the ladder. He reached for the briefcase, but Finlay knocked him to the mat with his stick thing. Lashley knocked Shelton and Finlay off a ladder by bashing them with another ladder. Lashley then gave Shelton his finisher. Lashley then climbed the ladder, but RVD did a springboard dropkick with a chair into Lashley's back. An "RVD" chant broke out. Deservedly so. Cool spot. RVD hit a Five-Star Frogsplash off the ladder onto Finlay at 11:00. An "ECW" chant broke out. RVD reached for the briefcase. Shelton springboarded onto the ladder from the top rope in a cool spot. They fought on top of the ladder. Harrdy set up another ladder and climbed it. Shelton shifted over to punch him. RVD tipped them over and they both bumped to the floor. RVD then climbed to the very top of the ladder and got the briefcase. On the replay, Hardy's late bump looked pretty harsh.
WINNER: RVD in 12:00.
STAR RATING: ***1/4 -- Good highspot match. Not epic, but a good second match on the card. The right person won. Ric Flair would have been another good choice. This sets up RVD cashing in the title shot at the ECW PPV top give that event a needed marquee main event.
-Josh Matthews interviewed Gene Okerlund about the Hall of Fame. Okerlund said he built up a heck of a bar tab last night. Orton interrupted and gave Okerlund a hard time for being a Hall of Famer for holding a mic for 35 years. Okerlund said "Good grief!" and left. Orton then said he planned to become World Champion tonight. Batista tapped Orton on the shoulder. He reminded Orton that it doesn't matter who wins because the winner is just holding the title until he comes back. He said he's feeling pretty good and will be back pretty soon. He said by WM23 he will be champion again. Not the most ambitious of timelines.
-Howard Finkle introduced the Hall of Famers inducted last night: Gene Okerlund, Sensational Sherri (w/Ted DiBiase), Tony Atlas, Verne Gagne, William "The Refrigerator" Perry, and the Blackjacks. Vicki Guerrero and Chavo Guerrero walked out on behalf of Eddie Guerrero. Finkle acknowledged at the start that Bret Hart chose not to be there. (Bret, by the way, gave a really classy speech last night at the Hall of Fame ceremony. He said what needed to be said about Survivor Series '97 without dwelling on it, and really did a good job of showing he has moved on in life with his emotional acknowledgment of his new wife in Italy.)
3 -- JBL vs. CHRIS BENOIT - U.S. Hvt. Title match
A fan held up a sign that said "JBL is God!... Awful!" Benoit hit a series of suplexes early on JBL. JBL taunted Benoit with an attempted Three Amigos. Benoit fought out of it after two. The match slowed down as both men struggled to get up. At 8:00 Benoit then sent into Three Amigos as Cole said, "This is how it's done!" JBL grabbed the ref to block another Benoit suplex. JBL went for the Clothesline from Hell, but Benoit ducked and slipped JBL right into a Crippler Crossface at 9:00. The crowd popped and JBL rolled on top of Benoit and grabbed the bottom rope for the three count.
WINNER: JBL in 9:00 to win the U.S. Title
STAR RATING: ** -- Okay, but not a particularly ambitious match.
-Ross introduced Joey Styles, calling him the voice of ECW and an expert at calling Hardcore Matches. He said, "He deserves to be here." Styles said he was about to lose his WrestleMania virginity.
4 -- EDGE (w/Lita) vs. MICK FOLEY
The crowd chanted "Foley, Foley" early in the match. He hung Edge upside down in the corner and ran at him. Edge came back early and hit him with a street sign. He slidekicked the sign into Foley's face. Edge speared Foley, but ended up hurt and his arm had a gash. Foley took off his first flannel shirt and revealed a Cactus Jack t-shirt and red flannet. He also revealed that he was wrapped in barbed wire. He unwound it to use as a weapon. He tied Edge in the ropes, then he pulled out the barbed wire wrapped baseball bat. Lita jumped on Foley from behind. Foley clotheslined Edge and Lita over the top rope at the same time. As Foley charged Edge at ringside, Edge armdragged Foley into the stairs. He followed by whipping Foley into the stairs. Foley went knees-first into them and flipped over to the floor. When Foley returned to the ring, Edge slidekicked him to the floor. Edge took a table out from under the ring. Edge squirted Foley with lighter fluid. Foley punched Edge. Lawler asked if Edge planned to set Foley on fire. Styles said, "You think?" Foley piledrove Edge for a two count. Lita distracted Foley as he was about to hit Edge with a chair. Edge then DDT'd a distracted Foley for a two count at 9:00. Edge hit Foley with a barbed wire baseball bat. Foley may have had a couple layers of clothing to absorb some of the sharp edges, but Edge then went to the face and scraped Foley, who began bleeding. Edge scored a two count. Edge pulled out a bag of thumb tacks and poured them into the corner of the ring. Foley reversed Edge with a back suplex onto the tacks. Edge sat up with tacks sticking out of his back. A bloody Foley pulled out Mr. Socko, wrapped him with fire, and then gave Lita a Mandible Claw. She landed on the floor and bled from her mouth. Foley then bashed Edge with the barbed wire baseball bat at 13:00. Foley sat and smiled with his face covered in blood, a vintage Cactus Jack pose. Foley squirted lighter fluid on a table. Lita hit him in the knees with a barbed wire baseball bat. She squirted more fluid on the table, then set it on fire. Edge speared Foley through the ropes and off the apron through the table on fire. That called for a vintage "Oh my God!" from Styles. Edge rolled off of the fire right away, then draped his arm over Foley for a three count. Foley and Edge were both slow to get up. Edge left first. Then Foley accepted an ovation from the crowd.
WINNER: Edge in 15:00.
STAR RATING: ***3/4 -- Good hardcore style match. WWE doesn't do that much hardcore anymore, so it means something. The match built well and didn't waste any stunts without a semblance of selling.
-Sharmell and Booker stressed out about their upcoming Boogeyman match. Paul Birchill shouted something to startle them. Eugene was dribbling a basketball. When he got to 98, DiBiase kicked. DiBiase pulled away the money he was tempting Eugene with, and Eugene cried. Fabulous Moolah and Mae Young were sitting off to the side. The camera revealed Gene Snitsky sucking one of Mae's feet, playing off of his real-life foot fetish. Goldust then told Booker they are all freaks. He advised Booker to take the worms and put them in his... then he whispered something to Booker. He said that's the only way he can beat him. Booker said, "Tell me you didn't just say that!" He called him a freak. Mae was hanging on Goldust.
-A commercial aired for Backlash.
-Todd Grisham interviewed two women in the crowd who won tickets through a Snickers contest. They also got all the Snickers they could eat. One had eaten five, another six. Good to know.
-They showed Joe Theisman in the front row.
5 -- BOOKER T (w/Sharmell) vs. BOOGEYMAN
Sharmell distracted Boogeyman giving Booker a chance to hit him from behind. She tagged out to Booker immediately and he pounded away at Boogeyman. An early "boring" chant broke out, deservedly so. Boogeyman is good with the ring intro and the post-match stuff, but between the bells, he's about as inept as it gets. Boogey fought back with a double crossarrm strike to the throatt, then threw a sloppy basic kick. He ducked a Booker scissors kick then forearmed Booker. Boogey stuffed his mouth with worms. Sharmell was going to strike Boogey from behind with a staff. He turned around in time and shoved worms from his mouth into her mouth. She screamed and ran away. Boogey then hit Booker with a chokeslam/powerslam move.
WINNER: Boogeyman in 5:00.
STAR RATING: neg. * -- Really sloppy, and not enough gross sideshow stuff to make up for it.
-A recap aired of the Trish Stratus-Mickey James storyline.
6 - TRISH STRATUS vs. MICKEY JAMES -- Women's Title match
Mickey and Trish exchanged some early stiff chops. Mickey then applied a half boston crab. The crowd was popping for Mickey and booing Trish's offense. Ross acknowledged the fans surprising reaction, saying they are being defiant. Mickey knocked Trish off the top rope with a cool move, let out a psycho screech, and then scored a two count. The crowd wanted a three count. Trish reversed Mickey into a pinning move for a two count. Mickey went for a head scissors and smiled at her positioning on Trish's face. Trish turned it into a powerbomb. Trish went for the Matrix duck, but slipped on the mat. Mickey went for a crotch claw on Trish. That got a pop. Mickey smiled. A move into the ropes was messed up. The crowd chanted "You F---ed Up!" Mickey then used the Chick Kick to finish off Trish.
WINNER: James in 9:00 to capture the Women's Title.
STAR RATING: ** -- Solid match. The messed up move at the end hurt a little, but good effort and intensity. Mickey stole the show with her facial expressions.
-The McMahons were backstage. Vince was flexing. He said it was time for the first ever family prayer. He said God doesn't like him and he doesn't like God, but he's managed to be successful without his approval. He said God didn't intend him to have a Herculean body at age 60. Shane and Linda looked up and made funny faces. Steph had a hard time not cracking up at her dad's comical prayer. He ended with an "Amen" and "Hallejullah."
7 -- UNDERTAKER vs. MARK HENRY -- Casket Match
Taker showed early energy in going after Henry. As per the classic formula, the heel then took over for sustained offense for several minutes with a few comeback teases by the babyface along the way. Henry made the first attempt to roll Taker into the casket. How cool would that have been if Henry rolled Taker into the casket at 3:30 and closed the lid. Streak over. Against Mark Henry. Henry dove at Taker, but Taker moved to the side. Henry slid through the ropes feet-first and into the casket. He dragged Taker into it. They both fell into the depths of deep casket and disappeared. They fought out of it and back into the ring. Taker slammed Henry to the mat hard out of the corner when henry was standing on the second rope punching him. Taker then thbrew Henry through the ropes onto the lid of the casket. Taker did a big running dive over the top rope and over the casket onto Henry at ringside. Cool spot. Taker then gave Henry a Tombstone and rolled him into the casket for the win. Cole declared the Taker undefeated streak is still alive. Tazz said it was a physical match, which is code for it being a bad match. It wasn't bad, though, at least not compared to expectations.
WINNER: Taker in 9:00.
STAR RATING: *1/2 -- Not a classic by any means, but thanks to Taker's genuine effort, it was watchable at the least and decent at most.
-A video recap aired of the Vince McMahon-Shawn Michaels feud.
8 -- VINCE MCMAHON vs. SHAWN MICHAELS
After some early chops, Michaels threw Vince onto the announcers table. Vince rolled right into Ross's lap. Ross yelled at Michaels to get 'im. Lawler had to call the action as Ross tried to get his headset back on. There was a blown up Muscle & Fitness mag cover with Vince. Michaels used it as a weapon against Vince, crashing it over his head. It didn't look like it hurt, but the visual was fun. Ross said this might be his last broadcast, and he's going out with a blaze of glory. Spirit Squad ran out and attacked Michaels. One of them looked suspiciously like Bret Hart. Oh, it's Mikey. Kenny went for a top rope legdrop, but Michaels moved. Michaels cleared the ring of, as called them, "the idiots" with their megaphone. Michaels threw a Squader onto the other Squaders at ringside. Vince took the opportunity to recover and go after Michaels. Vince choked Michaels in the corner. Vince threw Michaels to the mat. Ross said McMahon overcame the U.S. Government and media giant Time Warner and Ted Turner. Vince choked Michaels with a belt. McMahon set up Sweet Chin Music. Michaels recovered in time and chopped Vince in the chest a few times. He nipped up, then went to the top rope and hit the flying elbow to Vince's chest. Ross said he landed on Vince's black heart. "If he has a heart, I sweat it's black." Michaels stomped the mat to signal Sweet Chin Music. Shane McMahon bashed Michaels with a kendo stick. Shane did his stupid dance that Spirit Squad inadvertently make fun of. Then Rosss said: "What in the hell is Vince McMahon doing? He's taking his pants off," said Ros. Vince dropped his pants, but as Vince bent over, Michaels shoved Shane's face into Vince's ass. Michaels gave Vince a low blow. Michaels handcuffed Shane to the middle rope. Shane pulled out a key, but Michaels yanked it away and threw it into the crowd. Michaels mocked Shane's stupid dance, then whipped him six times with the cane. At 10:00 Michaels gave Vince a stiff chairshot.. Ross said, "Harry Carray heard that in Heaven." Michaels stomped the mat and set up Sweet Chin Music. Vince dropped to his knees. Michaels stopped in his tracks and retrieved a ladder from under the ring. Ross said Michaels's comments earlier disturbed him because he didn't sound like himself. Michaels rammed Vince in the face with the ladder. Blood poured out of Vince's head. Ross said, "Welcome to Home Depot." At 12:00 Michaels set up the Sweet Chin Music. Vince fell to his knees again. Michaels threw two trash cans into the ring and then a table. Michaels bashed Vince over the head with a trash can. Michaels set Vince on the table, then climbed a ladder. He set up a dive, but then stopped and thought twice. Ross said maybe Michaels is having second thoughts. The crowd booed. Michaels went under the ring and grabbed a huge mega-ladder. When Shane saw it, he had a great facial expression. Michaels then set it up. Ross said it was the biggest ladder he's ever seen. Michaels put Vince's head in a trash can. The ref pretended to protest, but in actuality was stabilizing the ladder. Michaels did the DX sign and then hit a top rope elbow onto the trash can lid. The ref tried to get Vince out, but he couldn't. Vince was stuck in there. The ref called for help from the back. The can finally came off. Michaels tossed the ladder out of the ring. Ross said Michaels had snapped and reverted back to a place he thought he would never be. Michaels then did another DX signal and then blew snot on Shane at ringside. Ross said he never thought he'd see the old Shawn Michaels. Michaels grabbed Vince and told him he was going to knock his teeth down his throat. Michaels superkicked Vince in the chin and scored the pin. As Vince was being carted out, he held up his middle finger. "The devil on earth breaths!" exclaimed Ross.
WINNER: Michaels in 18:00.
STAR RATING: ***1/2 -- They put on a good show. They protected Vince from doing anything too dangerous without it being obvious. Shane was a valuable addition at ringside, playing his part well. The Shane-Vince ass-kissing was a nice touch.
-Rey Mysterio's theme song was played live by POD. A band that actually didn't get booed by a wrestling crowd. A first.
-They announced that WrestleMania 23 would be Apr. 1 in Detroit, Mich. at Ford Field.
9 -- KURT ANGLE vs. RANDY ORTON vs. REY MYSTERIO -- World Hvt. Title match
Rey came to the ring with a huge head piece. Orton stopped an early Mysterio flurry with a dropkick. Angle entered the ring and set up a back suplex. Orton grabbed Rey in the mean time. Angle gave both a german suplex. Rey took a huge bump. Rey threw Ahngle head-first into Orton's crotch. Rey caught a charging Angle with a kick to the head. The crowd booed some of Rey's offense. Rey hit a roundhouse kick to Angle's head. Rey came back a head scissors with a few extra spins. Rey then went for the 619. Angle blocked it and applied the Anklelock. The pro-Angle crowd cheered. Orton stood on the apron with a chair. The ref turned to stop him from bringing it in and didn't notice Rey tapping. Angle knocked Orton to the floor. Angle put Orton in an anklelock. Rey distracted the ref as Orton tapped. Angle went for an Angle Slam, but Orton escaped and nailed the RKO out of nowhere for a near fall. The crowd popped for that sequence. Orton limped around the ring, selling the anklelock. The crowd chanted "Let's Go Angle." Angle ran up the ropes and gave Orton a quick overhead slam. Orton rolled out of the ring. Rey went for a 619, but slipped. He recovered and hit another. In the ring he went for a bridge pin on Angle. They went into a series of near falls. At 8:00 Rey countered an Ankle suplex and then gave Orton a 619. He then hit a springboard huracanrana for the three count. Rey clutched the belt, then held it up in the corner. Chavo and Vickie met Rey on the stage and congratulated. Rey teared up on the stage as held the belt and kissed it.
WINNER: Rey in 9:00 to capture the World Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING: ***1/4 -- A good rapid-fire three-way match, but disappointingly short. It's also too bad that Mysterio won the title without beating the actual champ and without the crowd 100 percent on his side.
-Ross said whether you love Cena or hate him, he is defiant just like his fans. He said he was one of the first in his community to listen to hip hop. He said his goal was to become WWE Champion, and he accomplished it. As Ross talked, they showed Cena preparing backstage. Then they shifted to Triple H getting a massage backstage as he meditated. Ross said he believes that more fans in the arena are fans of tradition because he has more pure wrestling skills. Lawler said Hunter doesn't care if the fans cheer him. Ross agreed.
10 -- CANDICE MICHELLE vs. TORRIE WILSON - Playboy Pillow Fight
Torrie overturned the bed onto Candice in the opening minute. Torrie rubbed her dog's butt in Candice's face. Lawler said it's the new stinkface. "We could have an implosion. A good thing there's a convention of plastic surgeons in town," said Ross. The crowd was quiet. A minute later they broke out into a "boring" chant. Candice yanked Torrie's nightgown off. Out of nowhere, Torrie rolled up Candice and scored a pin.
WINNER: Torrie in 4:00.
STAR RATING: n/a -- It went five minutes too long. It felt a lot longer than four minutes. That should be edited out of the DVD.
-They went to clips of the WM22 press conference. Hunter said this would be the easiest match of his life. Cena said a true champion isn't judged by how they're admired, but how they battle adversity. He said he is an underdog going into the match, despite being champion. He told Hunter that Sunday would not be a walk-through.
11 -- JOHN CENA vs. TRIPLE H - WWE Hvt. Title match
Hunter was introduced on the stage in a Dungeon of Doom/Abdullah the Butcher electric chair flashback throne. It was an old style throne, but he had a plastic bottle of water in one of his hands. After a voiceover said, "They call him the King of Kings," Hunter's regular theme music played. He walked to the ring in a silly gladiator type outfit. Cena's ring entrance was among the most elaborate with a whole throwback to the gangster days of the cities. They had old style mobster looking guys walk to ringside with Thompson machine guns. The match began at 10:33 p.m. They locked up early. The crowd cheered Triple H. Slow opening minute or two, as they circled each other. The anti-Cena chants began, one of which could not be repeated by Ross. Ross said it was New School vs. Old School. Hunter said he has an amazing opportunity to regain the title. There were some cheers for Cena, too. Cena went on an offensive flurry and scored a two count. Mixed reaction from the crowd. Cena went into a sleeper. He whipped Hunter into the corner at 5:00. Hunter bumped over the top rope to the floor. They brawled up the rampway. Cena backdropped Hunter onto the ramp. Back in the ring, Cena went for a quick cover and got just a one count. There was a battle of "Let's Go Cena" and "F--- you Cena" chants. Hunter whipped Cena into the steps at ringside. Back in the ring, Hunter scored a two count. A few boos rang out when Cena kicked out. Lawler acknowledged the crowd being 50/50. Hunter hit a facebuster and running lariat for a two count at 9:00. Hunter followed up with a neckbreaker for a two count. Ross is doing a great job calling this match. The fact that he didn't want to leave his post as host of Raw, and that he's this good compared to all others in his field, makes it even more ridiculous that he isn't doing this every week for years to come on the WWE A-show. There was a "Let's Go Cena/Cena sucks" battle of chants going as Hunter had Cena in a sleeper. The crowd was totally into anything Cena did, either pro or con, but not Hunter. Hunter was almost an afterthought early in the match. Cena showed signs of a comeback at 14:00 with a clothesline and some punches. Hunter fired back for a kneelift. Cena fired back with a powerslam. Cena did the You Can't See Me bit. Hunter recovered during that time and countered Cena's fistdrop with a spinebuster for a two count. Hunter sidestepped Cena and applied a sleeper. Cena escaped quickly and hit Hunter with a fistdrop. he signalled to the crowd and got a mixed reaction. Cena then went to the STFU. Hunter reached the bottom rope after a few seconds. At 17:00 the ref got crushed in the corner. Hunter gave Cena a low blow with a forearm. The ref got the low blow at the same time. Hunter bent over and gave Cena the You Can't See Me signal. The anti-Cena fans popped. Hunter then did a DX chop. Hunter went to ringside and pulled out the sledgehammer. Cena kicked Hunter in the gut before he could use the sledgehammer. he charged at Hunter, but Hunter KO'd him with the hammer. Hunter draped his arm over Cena's chest. The groggy ref crawled into the ring and counted nearly to three. Hunter made another cover, but Cena lifted his shoulder again. Hunter set up a Pedigree. Cena blocked it and backdropped it. Cena then gave Hunter an FU with a smile on his face. hunter kicked out at the last split second. The crowd popped. Hunter set up another Pedigree. Cena escaped and crawled through his legs and applied another STFU. Hunter's arm dropped twice, but not three time. Hunter began to show signs of life. Then he tapped out.
WINNER: Cena in 21:00 to retain the WWE Hvt. Title.
STAR RATING: **** -- Very good, main event worthy match. The finish, which shocked the crowd, helped end the match on a surprising note.
-They then played the traditional post-WrestleMania video created on the fly.
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