January 24, 2014
I had never seen this WrestleMania before so it was very cool to sit down and watch it for the first time. Right at the beginning of the DVD there are all the "don't try this at home" and promotional videos. There was one for WWE 24/7, WWE's new On Demand, digital media, service, which sounds a lot like the WWE Network they are promoting now. After the 24/7 promo was a video package for the Rated O Superstar Mick Foley. The O stood for Overrated and the video package was a complete burial of Mick Foley. Next up was a Rated R Superstar video package for Edge, which totally put him over as being great. While I can only assume these videos were originally "produced" by Edge and aired as part of an angle, they were presented here with no context what so ever, so both seemed like standard WWE produced videos and poor Mick Foley was presented as a pathetic joke.
Mania 22 was from the All State Arena in Chicago which was very weird seeing a WrestleMania event from a regular arena. They were still deep into the brand split at this time so we had the 2 separate announce desks with JR and The King calling the RAW matches and Cole and Tazz calling the SD matches, with Lillian Garcia doing ring announcing in an incredibly low cut dress. Off to a good start.
Big Show & Kane vs Chris Masters & Carlito (World Tag Titles): There really wasn't all that much to this match, Kane and Show were the champs and this match was really just here to highlight them. Big Show had hair, and Kane was moving like he was a foot shorter and 100lbs lighter. He did a dropdown, leapfrog, dropkick spot that was actually pretty good and also did a dive off the top rope to the floor on both heels; absurdly impressive for a guy his size. There weren't really any near falls, except maybe the Master Lock, it was pretty much a straight up clean easy win for the champs.
MITB (Matt Hardy, Shelton Benjamin, Finlay, RVD, Bobby Lashley, Ric Flair) I generally don't like watching these matches, because I'm always so worried for everyone's safety that I can't enjoy it, but this one wasn't that bad. It was exciting and entertaining without being too insane. Flair took a few crazy huge bumps, and Shelton stole the show as far as athleticism and stunts. It still amazes me that WWE couldn't or perhaps wouldn't manage to turn him into a much bigger star. RVD picked up the win, with an exciting finish, that saw Matt Hardy take one scary ass bump.
Up next was an interview segment that was hilarious in hindsight. Randy Orton was being interviewed about his World Title match later that night and he was interrupted by Big Dave Batista. Dave walked in said Hi Randy and proceeded to explain that it didn't matter who won the title match tonight because he was waiting in the wings. It was almost the exact same promo he did on Monday Night RAW this week, almost 8 years later.
Chris Benoit vs JBL (US Title): JBL was accompanied to the ring by Jillian Hall. JBL won the title, but other than that I can't say much about this match because I didn't watch it. I don't enjoy watching matches featuring former friends who are no longer with us; it brings back the sadness that surrounded their death. I can't watch Eddie matches either.
Mick Foley vs. Edge: (Hardcore match): With this being a Hardcore bout they brought Joey Style out to call this match and I was totally marking out for the sound of my friends voice. Joey did an awesome job, and I was so happy he got to call such a big WrestleMania match. This was a great violent fight. It was almost hard to watch after getting accustomed to the nonviolent PG rated matches of today. There were a couple head shots I could have lived without but on the whole this was a great violent fight, which had quite a bit of drama. Lita was out with Edge and interfered a few times and ended up taking the most painful looking bump of the match. She had Foley in a sleeper and with Lita on his back Foley gave Edge the Foley clothesline over the top where both Mick and Edge go over the top rope to the floor. When Mick went head over heels, poor Lita went flying over the top of him, barely touching anything and landing hard on her ass on the floor. Never in a million years would a take that bump; hats off to Lita she's got more guts than me. The Finish was that crazy spear threw the ropes onto the flaming table and Edge picked up the huge win.
Booker T vs. The Boogie Man: This was not a very good match, but it was probably better than it had any right to be considering how green Boogie Man was at this point. Boogie Man was a great character, which he did an amazing job with, and Booker worked real hard to carry him. Queen Sharmel got involved and ended up getting kissed by Boogie Man while he had worms in his mouth, and then Boogie hit his finish and pinned Booker T.
Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James (Women's Title): While the hardcore match and the Vince-HBK match (later) were bigger spectacles this was my favourite actual wrestling match on the show. It was stunning watching this match how far women's wrestling has fallen in WWE. I'm not saying this as an indictment of the current girls as much as I am on the importance and effort WWE puts into booking the Diva's championship now. There was a long serious video package recapping this long standing feud, which had been building for quite a while. Mickie was the crazy Trish stalker and was really awesome in this role. Pretty much everything about this match was right on the money. They started hot as a heated feud should, and Trish was kicking Mickie's ass until accidently Chick kicking the ring post allowing Mickie to get the advantage. This is where the match really shone in my books Mickie had presence and timing and controlled the match with an authority of a real pro. They combined a great in ring story of Trish's injured leg, with the overriding story of Mickie's obsession with Trish perfectly. A lot of people made a big deal of the finish but I thought it was an appropriate finish considering the story of the feud. Mickie countered the Stratusfaction Bulldog with a crotch grab, distracting and throwing Trish off her game, allowing Mickie to hit Trish's own Chick kick for the pin to win the title. The only down side to the match was the crowd siding with Mickie during the match rather than the Baby face Trish. This wasn't the only match to suffer from this. I think part of the problem was that with a predominantly male crowd the audience was all for the idea of Mickie getting her way and making out with Trish. We saw a lot of Mickie's butt in this match too, which no doubt contributed to her popularity. This was a great match, and I was so proud of both women for aiming so high above the expectations set for them, and achieving that goal.
Undertaker vs. Mark Henry (Casket Match): There wasn't a lot to this match; the casket stipulation really limited and took this match down a notch or two. It was fairly slow with a few attempts to shove one guy or the other into the casket but there are really only so many ways you can try to stuff someone into a big box, so the match didn't last too long. In the end Taker did an even more insane than usual big dive not only clearing the top rope but the casket as well. The landing looked horrible and I can’t believe Taker hasn't killed himself with this dive. After the dive he hit the Tombstone on the 400 lbs Mark Henry (impressive to say the least) and put him in the casket to move to 14-0.
Vince McMahon vs. Shawn Michaels (No Holds Barred): This match was an amazing spectacle. You've got one of the greatest wrestlers of all time and a 60 year old man who can't work a lick, but is an amazing performer. This was not a good wrestling match, but with the exception of all the head shots, I really enjoyed it. Vincent Kennedy McMahon is one of the greatest characters and performers in wrestling history IMO, who is so willing to take a beating when the time comes. The match was all smoke and mirrors with run ins by the Spirit Squad and Shane-O-Mac and an abundance of weapon shots, but as usual when it comes to Vince's matches, it all comes together and makes for an entertaining ride. Vince took some ungodly shots to the head, and he didn't even try to protect himself. He took a ladder shot to the head that busted him open big time, a really stiff chair shot and when it came time for the super kick he didn't even turn his chin and took it right in the mouth. Say what you want about Vince, but he's one tough SOB and will do whatever it takes to get the job done.
Angle vs. Orton vs. Mysterio (World Title): Rey had won the Royal Rumble, but Orton had convinced him to put the title shot on the line at the Elimination Chamber and beat Rey for it there. Teddy Long on SmackDown added Rey back to the match to give us this Triple Threat match. This was part of the controversial angle where they used Eddie Guerrero's death to fuel the heat between Orton and Mysterio. This match was just non-stop action with a lot of really cool spots, and all three guys busted their asses. Rey won the title but the match was designed to protect Kurt Angle as the top guy. At points in the match Kurt made both guys tap out, while the 3rd man distracted the ref, and he kicked out of both guys finishers, before losing his title when Rey pinned Orton.
Candice Michelle vs. Torrie Wilson (Playboy Pillow Fight): There was a bed in the middle of the ring, and each girl was wearing high heels and a sexy dress, and this was the complete opposite of the Trish – Mickie match, and was terrible. It's not the girl's fault this was just a pointless, roll around on the bed, get stripped to your bra and panties, and look sexy while doing it match; so the Main Event didn't have to follow the 3 Way. They achieved all three of their assigned tasks with flying colours, so they did their jobs well. At one point Torrie grabbed her little dog and rubbed its ass in Candice's face for a Puppy Stink Face. Torrie won.
John Cena vs. HHH (WWE Title): The video package building this up got me interested in the match but after the ring entrances I just couldn’t take it seriously. I'm very particular about what I like in wrestling and it should surprise no one that believability and seriousness are a big part of that. Those ring entrances felt like two guys going out to play dressing up and have fun, not two men going to battle to win a championship. I'm not saying they were bad or it was wrong to do them, WrestleMania has become a Sports Entertainment Event and this type of thing may be a big part of what people want, but it sure didn't work for me. I didn't like HHH's entrance and Cena's was 10 times worse. Watching all of the guys (CM Punk was one of them) dressed up as gangsters slinking around the ring with their toy guns was just ludicrous; and then Cena coming out with his trench coat and Tommy gun made me laugh. There wasn't much to the bulk of the match, and Cena looked to be very green here. The crowd hated Cena and loved HHH despite Cena being the supposed Babyface. The crowd did not seem into the match much until the sledge hammer got involved but after that the final few minutes where heated and quite good. The counter from the pedigree into the STFU was awesome, and to the surprise of everyone HHH tapped out to the STFU. I think what I remember most about this match was the fact that Cena was still wearing the pump up basket ball shoes, WOW. Cena gets a split reaction now, he was getting a 100% negative reaction here.
One the whole this was a really good show that was hurt a little by a weaker main event. John just wasn't a main event level performer yet and they couldn't quite follow the far more spectacular MITB, Triple Threat, and Hardcore matches from earlier in the show. It was a real heavy gimmick show, which makes it even harder to close out with a straight wrestling match.
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