As we continue down the road to the biggest show of the year, I’ve been going through each event to prepare for the big day.
Instead of doing recaps for every WrestleMania (other people here do that much better), I’ve been putting together a Top Ten list of WrestleMania matches and have been updating it after each show.
WrestleMania 22 – April 2, 2006
Welcome to the last time WWE bothered to put its biggest show of the year in an arena. The All-State Arena just outside of Chicago hosted its third WrestleMania in 2006 and man, I wish more crowds were like this one.
The months leading up to WrestleMania 22 were a bit chaotic in the WWE, with Edge cashing in the first-ever Money in the Bank contract after John Cena won the Elimination Chamber match at New Year’s Revolution. And then Cena won the title right back at the Royal Rumble. On the SmackDown side, Rey Mysterio won the Royal Rumble, lost his chance to fight for the World Heavyweight Title to Randy Orton at No Way Out and then Teddy Long made turned the match into a Triple Threat.
With the main event scene all over the place, this show could have gone either way in terms of quality, but the show comes out surprisingly well. Much of that has to do with the great crowd.
Best Match: Edge vs. Mick Foley – Hardcore Match. Edge finally gave Mick Foley his “WrestleMania Moment” with this match. Barbed wire baseball bat, thumb tacks, barbed wire-covered Mr. Socko and a flaming freaking table! The hardcore match kept building to new levels of insanity, right up to the point where Lita, Edge’s valet, doused a folding table set up outside the ring with lighter fluid and then lit it aflame. We all knew what was coming. Mick was hanging on to the ropes outside the ring, Edge was getting up and ran through the ropes to spear Foley onto the burning table to set up the 1-2-3. An insane match and a lot of fun, but the very definition of “Don’t Try This At Home.” Edge goes to 5-0 at WrestleMania.
Worst Match: Booker T and Sharmell vs. The Boogeyman. Every single person in this match is terrible, with Booker at his career worst. And the less said about The Boogeyman, the better. He may be comin’ ta getcha, but he sure as hell isn’t coming to get a 5-star classic out of anyone. This was a comedy handicap match to cool the crowd down between the Hardcore match and the women’s title match and in another arena, it may have killed the crowd entirely. The only good thing to come out of this match? The pre-match promo where Booker and Sharmell walk backstage through the Hallway of Misfits, with Snitsky licking Mae Young’s feet (ewww!), Ted DiBiase messing with Eugene, Paul Burchill and Goldust dressed in drag.
HLA: WrestleMania 22 featured the best women’s match in the history of the event, with Trish Stratus defending the Women’s Title against crazy stalker Mickie James. The match between the two had the best build of any on the card and the Chicago crowd went nuts for James. I guess something about chasing after Trish really resonated with them. Every time James leaned against the ropes or the ring apron after hitting a move, the crowd went crazier. And then she grabbed Trish’s crotch to block Trish’s finisher and licked her hand. The place went nuclear. Trish and Mickie had great chemistry together put together one of the most memorable WrestleMania matches ever.
Hart Broken: For the third time, a Hall of Fame ceremony was included during WrestleMania weekend, with the new inductees being introduced to the crowd during the show. This year’s lead inductee – Bret “Hitman” Hart – still hadn’t completely forgiven the company for his brother Owen’s death. He showed up at the Hall of Fame ceremony, but Howard Finkel informed the crowd at WrestleMania that he was “uncomfortable” showing up there. The centerpiece for the April 2 introductions then fell to Vickie Guerrero, who was accepting the honor for her late husband, Eddie. A fitting tribute, but it would have been great to see Bret Hart at WrestleMania again.
Remembering Eddie: Speaking of Guerrero, the build of the World Heavyweight Title Match invoked Eddie’s name a lot, with Orton saying he was in hell and Mysterio dedicating the match to his late friend, who had died the previous November. When Mysterio won the title, both Vickie and Chavo Guerrero came out to congratulate him. But that wasn’t the only Eddie tribute at WrestleMania 22. During the US Title match between JBL and Chris Benoit, JBL frequently used Eddie’s shimmy as a taunt. Obviously, since he was a heel, the announcers played it off as JBL mocking Eddie’s friend Benoit, but it likely was also a tribute to Eddie from one of his friends.
Hinting Towards A Reunion: Shawn Michaels warned Vince McMahon that their match together would bring out the old Shawn Michaels and the violent end to the match included the Heartbreak Kid climbing a ladder and doing a crotch chop to a prone McMahon, the signature taunt of DeGeneration X. HBK’s DX partner, Triple H, hit a crotch chop during his WWE Title Match against John Cena. The seeds were being sown for a reunion. The pair was back together as a team by the summer.
The Streak is Broken: No, not the Undertaker’s streak. Going into WrestleMania 22, the Big Show was 0-for-6 at WrestleMania, dating back to 1999. That streak was finally broken when he teamed with Kane as Tag Team Champions to beat Carlito and Chris Masters. Undertaker, of course, went to 13-0 with a casket match win over Mark Henry.
Best In The World Debuts: John Cena came to the ring with a bunch of Tommy gun-toting gangsters as part of his opening package, one of which was future World Champion CM Punk. The camera work spent a lot of time focusing on Punk, who would soon debut as part of the WWE’s ECW revival. Punk would make his WrestleMania debut the next year.
The Top 20!
No movement in the Top Twenty this time around.
1 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – Submission Match (WrestleMania 13)
2 – “Macho Man” Randy Savage vs. Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania III)
3 – The Rock vs. “Stone Cold” Steve Austin – No DQ WWF Title Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
4 – Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Benoit – World Heavyweight Title Triple Threat (WrestleMania XX)
5 – Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior – WWF Title vs. Intercontinental Title (WrestleMania VI)
6 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. Shawn Michaels – WWF Title Iron Man Match (WrestleMania XII)
7 – Edge & Christian vs. Hardy Boyz vs. Dudley Boyz – Tag Team Title TLC Match (WrestleMania X-Seven)
8 – Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho (WrestleMania XIX)
9 – Edge vs. Kane vs. Chris Jericho vs. Chris Benoit vs. Christian vs. Shelton Benjamin – Money In The Bank Ladder Match (WrestleMania 21)
10 – Bret “Hitman” Hart vs. “The Rocket” Owen Hart (WrestleMania X)
11 – Ultimate Warrior vs. “Macho Man” Randy Savage – Career Ending Match (WrestleMania VII)
12 – Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels (WrestleMania 21)
13 – Shawn Michaels vs. Razor Ramon – Intercontinental Title Ladder Match (WrestleMania X)
14 – Eddy Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XX)
15 – Undertaker vs. Randy Orton (WrestleMania 21)
16 – Kurt Angle vs. Brock Lesnar – WWE Title Match (WrestleMania XIX)
17 – “Hollywood” Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock (WrestleMania X8)
18 – Triple H vs. Undertaker (WrestleMania X-Seven)
19 – Hulk Hogan & Mr. T vs. Roddy Piper and Paul Orndorff (WrestleMania I)
20 – “Rowdy” Roddy Piper vs. Bret “Hitman” Hart – Intercontinental Title Match (WrestleMania VIII)
We’ll bring it back to the classics today.
Top Twenty Celebrity Appearances
Mike Tyson – WrestleMania XIV
Pete Rose – WrestleMania XIV/WrestleMania XV/WrestleMania 2000
Bob Uecker – WrestleMania III/WrestleMania IV
Mary Hart – WrestleMania III
Cyndi Lauper – WrestleMania I
Alex Trebek – WrestleMania VII
Vanna White – WrestleMania IV
Burt Reynolds – WrestleMania X
Regis Philbin – WrestleMania VII
Gennifer Flowers – WrestleMania XIV
Jonathan Taylor Thomas – WrestleMania XI
LT’s All-Pro Team (Reggie White, Steve McMichael, Carl Banks, Rickey Jackson, Chris Spielman, and Ken Norton Jr.) – WrestleMania XI
Muhammad Ali – WrestleMania I
Elvira – WrestleMania 2
Jenny McCarthy – WrestleMania XI
Alice Cooper – WrestleMania III
Pamela Anderson – WrestleMania XI
Ozzy Osbourne – WrestleMania 2
Steve Allen – WrestleMania VI
Joan Rivers – WrestleMania 2
Top 15 WrestleMania Musical Acts
Ray Charles, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 2
Little Richard, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania X
Fife and Drum Corp performing Piper’s entrance – WrestleMania I
Steve Allen rehearses in bathroom with the Bolsheviks – WrestleMania VI
Drowning Pool, Tear Away – WrestleMania X8
Boys Choir of Harlem, American the Beautiful – WrestleMania XX
P.O.D., Booyaka – WrestleMania 22
Boyz II Men, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania XV
Aretha Franklin, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania III
Motorhead, The Game – WrestleMania X-Seven/WrestleMania 21
Limp Bizkit, Crack Addict – WrestleMania XIX
DX Band, DeGeneration X theme – WrestleMania XIV
Willie Nelson, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania VII
Lillian Garcia, America the Beautiful – WrestleMania 21
Ice-T, Pimpin’ Ain’t Easy – WrestleMania 2000