Vintage Vault Pre-Viewing: WrestleMania 22

mania22

Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. McMahon in a No Holds Barred Match

This was an interesting show to pick one match from as there are many matches from which to choose. I think that this Mania is unique in that it tends to get forgotten in terms of being a great show, but I think that’s more the general perception that 2006 was not a good year overall. However, it seems most people that look back at this show now realize that it is a great show and could be classified as one of the more underrated Manias of all time. As mentioned, there were many matches to choose from and I almost went with a few other ones, but ultimately I ended up going with this interesting match.

This feud between Shawn Michaels and Vince McMahon began back on the 12/26 RAW when Vince pimped the recent DVD release of “Bret “The Hitman” Hart: The Best There Is, The Best There Was, and The Best There Ever Will Be”. Shawn would come out and said that everyone had moved on from Montreal except for Vince, and encouraged him to move on as well. Instead, Vince decreed that he would not take crap from anyone anymore and sent a warning to Shawn that he would screw him like he screwed Bret Hart. That would begin when Vince forced Shawn to enter the Elimination Chamber first at New Year’s Revolution which would end up being won by John Cena. He would continue to mess with Shawn by forcing him to fight for his career against Kurt Angle on RAW, and then at the Royal Rumble Shawn would be eliminated by Shane McMahon.

Starting on the 1/30 RAW, Vince’s treatment of Shawn continued to get worse as Shane nailed Shawn in the back with a chair after Vince threatened Shawn that he would sue him if Shawn touched him. Shawn would threaten to walk out and Vince almost forced him to go through with it by concocting a “Shawn Michaels Retirement Party” on the 2/13 RAW, but Shawn refused to do so and Vince slapped him before forewarning that Shawn just opened the floodgates of his own personal hell. From there, Vince did everything he could to screw with Shawn including 5-on-1 beatdowns by the Spirit Squad, having Shawn’s old partner Marty Jannetty take part in a Masterlock Challenge, and Shawn being forced to join the Kiss my Ass Club thanks to Shane.

The torment for Shawn continued when Stephanie McMahon allegedly “drugged” Shawn and caused him to lose matches against Shane and Vince. Vince furthered humiliated Shawn by forcing him to take a public drug test though Shawn would get a bit of revenge by tossing the urine sample onto Vince and Shane. The final ultimate show of humiliation was at Saturday Night’s Main Event when Shane “defeated” Shawn thanks to Vince ringing the bell while Shane had Shawn in the Sharpshooter. This match between Shawn and Vince was made no holds barred and Vince would get the last word when he and Triple H left Shawn and John Cena bloodied on the 3/27 RAW. The build to this match was really interesting in that Vince did everything in his power to humiliate Shawn to the point that the fans were pretty much salivating to see Shawn get his revenge.

Shawn’s interview prior to the match was really good as he essentially said that this would not be a five star classic like his match with Kurt Angle last year, and in a bit of foreshadowing he said that he was going to a place he hasn’t been in years as he vowed Vince would suffer his own personal hell. Not to be undone, Vince and his family decided to have a group prayer as Vince told God that he would take Shawn apart which included the infamous quote, “God, I don’t like you and you don’t like me.” As bizarre as that segment was, it got over how arrogant and confident Vince was in contrast to the fired-up nature of Shawn in his promo.

Shawn as usual gets the big pop and the grand entrance fitting for Mr. WrestleMania, and the first major thing to notice here is how freaking jacked up Vince is. Not only that, he looks like shoe leather given how tan he is that it is almost extremely unhealthy given what happened back in November. Vince is at his arrogant best as he struts to the ring with great confidence and further taunts Shawn by unveiling his recent Muscle and Fitness magazine cover. I do have to say that even though Joey Styles was doing a decent job on RAW, it was fitting to have Jim Ross call this match after what the McMahons did to him last fall. Shawn finally can’t take anymore and goes right at Vince, hitting him with some stiff chops before ramming him into the announce table. He tosses Vince onto JR and King and you almost wished that JR got a shot in just for kicks, but he doesn’t as Shawn chokes him with the headset. The crowd starts chanting “We Want Bret” as Shawn grabs the microphone and nails a stiff shot to Vince’s head with it. He throws Vince back into the ring and grabs the framed magazine cover, bringing that into the ring as well and he cracks it over Vince’s head in a great spot. That visual of Vince on his ass with the frame around his neck is one that will never get old while Shawn mocks him.

Just then the tone changes as Vince’s goons, the Spirit Squad, come out and Shawn tries to fight them off, but the numbers are too much as the Squad beat him down and celebrate like a bunch of nimrods. They hit their big move on Shawn while continuing to prance around like idiots and they check on Vince as Kenny goes up top, but he misses the legdrop as Mitch comes in with the megaphone. He misses the swing on Shawn and Shawn grabs the megaphone, nailing all the Spirit Squad with it and sending them to the outside before tossing Kenny onto them, effectively finishing them off in the match. It was a weird spot because it seemed like they wanted to put the Squad over as a legit group, but they just looked too moronic and after weeks of their attacks working on Shawn, he fights them off here and kills a bit of their heat.

However, the attack leads to Shawn getting distracted and Vince hits a stiff clothesline to gain control, and Vince has a slight gash above his eye as he drives the knee and the shoulder into Shawn in the corner. He chokes Shawn and tosses him to the mat before taking his belt off, and he gives Shawn some very stiff whips with the belt before choking Shawn with it. The crowd chants “HBK” as Shawn tries to battle back only for Vince to clothesline him with the belt in a nasty spot. One thing I’ll give Vince credit for is that he may be limited in what he can do, but he puts everything over big time and it also helps with a great seller like Shawn. Vince mocks Shawn and attempts his own version of Sweet Chin Music, but Shawn catches his foot and pounds on Vince before hitting the flying forearm and he nips up to a big pop. Shawn then grabs the belt and whips Vince with it as JR is going over the top in his support for Shawn, and then Shawn hits a slam on Vince before going up top and hitting the elbow. Shawn then sets up for Sweet Chin Music, but then Vince’s other ace in the hole appears as Shane McMahon comes out and hits Shawn with a kendo stick. I’ve liked that Shane has been very active in this feud and his team with Vince has really helped put this feud over as he bails his father out when needed. Shane pulls out a pair of handcuffs to use on Shawn, but Vince stops him and first pulls down his pants as he wants Shane to again force Shawn to kiss his ass. Shane drags Shawn towards Vince only for Shawn to get a shot in and he shoves Shane’s face into Vince’s ass to a huge pop, and that’s another memorable visual of Vince laughing not realizing his son’s face is in his ass.

Shawn hits a low blow on Vince and clotheslines Shane over the top to the floor, and then he handcuffs Shane to the rope before grabbing the kendo stick. Shane reaches in his pockets for the key only for Shawn to take the key and throw it into the crowd, and Shane begs for forgiveness as Shawn mocks him and then he whips him repeatedly with the stick. This is the point of the match where the fun ends and where the match goes down another path, as it is all Shawn paying Vince back for every bit of humiliation. Shawn pulls a chair out from under the ring and just absolutely crushes Vince in the head with it, and Vince does a sick blade job as he is now covered in blood. Shawn sets up for Sweet Chin Music only to decide against it as he goes out and pulls out a ladder, and he brings it in and nails Vince in the head with it. You had to wonder if this was getting to the point where it was becoming too much and you almost started feeling bad for Vince and the punishment he was getting. Shawn again sets up for Sweet Chin Music only to again think twice as he pulls out a pair of trash cans from under the ring, and then he pulls a table out and puts that in the ring. I had mentioned that JR was sometimes going a bit over the top with his support of Shawn, but even he now sounded like it was getting uncomfortable watching Shawn do what he was doing. Shawn grabs one of the cans and wallops Vince in the head with it before setting the table up and putting Vince on it, and then he sets the ladder up and climbs to the top. But instead of diving off, he gets a sly look on his face and has something more devious in mind as he tosses the ladder out of the ring much to Shane’s approval and the crowd’s disapproval. Shawn gives Shane a punch for good measure before pulling out an even taller ladder to a big pop, and he slides it into the ring and sets it up. Shawn nails a few stiff punches on Vince before putting the trash can on him and setting him back down on the table. Shawn climbs to the top of the ladder and in probably the moment of the night, does the DX chop to a huge pop before hitting the elbow onto Vince in a massive spot to another huge pop. EMTs come out to try and assist Vince only for Shawn to scare them out of the ring, and then Shawn gives Shane the crotch chop before blowing snot on him. A poignant point JR and King make is if Vince has succeeded in his goal in that Shawn has gone to a place he hasn’t been at for many years. Shawn pulls a bloody Vince up and says he will kick Vince’s teeth down his throat, and after a big windup he finally hits Sweet Chin Music on Vince and gets the three to win the match. The EMTs then put Vince onto the stretcher as Shane is unhooked from the handcuffs, and in a great lasting moment Vince flips Shawn the finger as he is being wheeled to the back. Shawn gets his moment to celebrate in the ring and gets a kiss from his wife Rebecca at ringside before heading to the back having made another Mania moment.

Going into the match, you knew this was not going to be the classic Shawn Michaels Mania match that we have gotten the last three years, but in this case it didn’t need to be. Most of us knew that this was going to be a bloody fight and making it no holds barred was a smart choice. Neither man had to do a ton as Vince played his part well of getting his ass kicked while getting a few shots in, and Shawn taking out months of frustration on Vince. I think having to follow the war that Edge and Mick Foley had earlier in the night was a bit daunting, but both men put on a really good fight with the right ending. I do wonder if having it go almost 19 minutes was a bit much as I had said earlier, you didn’t want to get to the point where you felt bad for Vince for everything that Shawn was doing to him. Also, I did feel that JR was a bit over the top at certain points though overall he and King did a really good job making this match feel big. This seemed like it was the perfect way to finally end this feud with Shawn getting his revenge and leaving Vince a bloody heap, but as we will see this feud takes a very bizarre and almost uncomfortable turn. Plus seeing Shawn doing the DX chop and what we would see later in the night, it would be very interesting to see where that would end up heading. In any event, the match as a whole is a very good brawl/pseudo squash and Shawn once again proves why he deserves the moniker of Mr. WrestleMania.

Final Grade: ***1/2

Author: Steve Riddle