June 3, 2006
Jesse Balzer

WrestleMania 22 3-Disc Collectors Edition

So the build was anemic, at best. But as is usually the case, the performers took it upon themselves to bring their best on Sunday night, in spite of the less-than-thrilling promotion of the event’s marquee matches. And for the most part, these performers succeeded in making sure that the event lived up to the WrestleMania tradition, clearly on their own power to do so. WWE always finds it apt to put together a phenomenal DVD package to commemorate the yearly event, and the WrestleMania 22 3-Disc Collector’s Edition is no exception.

Disc one contains all of the matches except the two main events and the superfluous Playboy pillow fight, as well as the 18-man interpromotional battle royal that took place prior to the show and a few vignettes. I shall divulge that disc at length… right now, in fact, as I write this little analysis to three CDs of Queen goodness. Good times, truth be told. We begin…

Disc One

The show opens with a video package set to some rather crappy music that I cannot be bothered to recall. Michelle Williams sings “America the Beautiful,” and looks so thrilled to be doing so. That’s sarcasm, by the way. Just so you know.

Our first match is for the worthless World Tag Team Titles, worthless because RAW has no real tandems to speak of, and the titles are basically used for a pair of wrestlers who the writers have no particular use for at the time. SmackDown!’s tag situation isn’t much better, but they do actually have a few full-time teams. MNM was awesome, working that hot angle with London and Kendrick that lead to Judgment Day, but then again, what happened to them? Oh, right, they were split up. That actually had more to do with Mercury’s personal problems, but the point remains; the best tag team of the last few years is no more, and I am sad.

But I digress. Big Show and Kane are the champs here, and Carlito and Chris Masters the challengers. I refuse to even start with revealing why I hate Chris Masters the performer so very, very much. I do like Carlito, though. The match itself is fairly short and inoffensive, but certainly nothing that hasn’t been done on RAW before. I actually thought Carlito and Masters should go over here, but in hindsight it would appear that putting the titles on the Spirit Squad was a better idea. So I was wrong. Whatever.

Coach interviews Shawn Michaels next, and Michaels is quite the angry Christian man, but the promo itself was good, so I forgive him. Maybe He does too.

I was a little upset that the Money in the Bank ladder match was only the second match of the night, but seeing as how the whole show was spaced out with the matches I actually wanted to see and the matches I would rather use to relieve my urine depository, I was not as upset as I first thought. Although not quite as good as the original, this year’s match was a satisfying festival of spots. Once again, Shelton Benjamin is the star of this match, hitting moves just as incredible as those of last year. This match is probably Reason Four on my figurative list of Why Shelton Benjamin is Awesome. And no, I will not reveal the remainder of that list. At least not now. Everyone else in the match did their thing too, and even Flair took a particularly nasty bump that the referees tried to convince the audience was the end of the match for Ric by throwing up that “X” signal. Seriously, WWE, nobody falls for that anymore. So of course Flair comes back. Before I forget, the directors, whoever they are, should promptly be slapped. Whenever someone climbed up the ladder, the camera focused in exclusively on that wrestler, and none of the surrounding area. As a result, the viewer almost completely misses several wicked spots, just because the director wants to maintain a level of suspense. So stupid. Anyway, a good match, the only thing it lacked was some level of psychology, and that lack of psychology can be attributed to the lack of Chris Benoit. That’s word to everything.

International toolbox Josh Mathews interviews “Mean” Gene Okerlund, which then segues into an interview of Randy Orton, who is then interrupted by Batista. Pointless interview segment, as the only purpose it served was to make Randy Orton appear to be a bigger ass-hole than usual. Not necessary at all.

This year’s Hall of Fame class is reviewed on stage, and Finkel opens this segment by saying something along the lines of, “Bret Hart was uncomfortable and chose not to be here tonight,” which just came off to me as kinda rude.

But by far the biggest disappointment of the night was the United States Championship match. JBL is capable of very little in the ring, but even I had this hunch that Benoit could carry JBL to a respectable or even high quality match. And although the match was technically okay, it was nothing above what we would traditionally see on SmackDown!. In fairness, however, time constraints may have compressed the match. I do like JBL as US champ, though.

Weeks before WrestleMania 22, I knew that this match would most likely be the best match on the card, and lo and behold, I was right. As always. Mick Foley got his WrestleMania moment, and unselfishly puts Edge over. True, it was a gory brawl, but if you watch closely, you’ll see some psychology delicately placed. That’s Mick for ya. By the way, Edge more than held his own here, and that is why he is my pick for Wrestler of the Year thus far. Go ahead, try to debate that with me. I defy you.

Another frivolous backstage skit, where we see Booker T and Sharmell confronted by a group of “freaks” prior to their match with the Boogeyman. If memory serves me right, we see Snitsky, Goldust, Eugene, the Million Dollar Man, and possibly more that I cannot be bothered to remember at this moment. Goldust tells Booker T to let his inner freak out in order to defeat the Boogeyman. Whatever. And besides, what is the Million Dollar Man doing around these freaks? Goldust is a cross-dresser, Eugene is mentally handicapped, and Snitsky has a foot fetish, so when does having a ton of money make one a freak? Perplexing.

The other international toolbox Todd Grisham interviews a sweepstakes winner of some sort, and I cease to care about one second into the interview. Yawn. Is this what a communications major does for a living? If so, screw journalism; I no longer want this career.

Booker T is entertaining. Paired with Sharmell, Booker T is entertaining. Paired with Sharmell against the Boogeyman, Booker T is not entertaining. I hate the Boogeyman character, and I hated this match. Would someone within the WWE please realize that Booker T is the most over heel on SmackDown!, and thus should probably be headlining shows around the country against Rey? I would appreciate it.

For the first time in, well… ever, I eagerly anticipated the Women’s Championship match. Seriously, the Mickie James storyline was probably one of the best executed storylines of the year in WWE. I know that my smart mark pass will be revoked for saying such things, but it’s the truth. The match at WrestleMania paid the entire storyline off perfectly. My initial thought was that the US Championship match would be the surprise hit of the show, but in all honesty this was it. I sat in astonishment, pondering when the last time I had seen psychology in a women’s match was. Absolutely the best women’s match I have ever seen. I do have some problems with the match as it is presented on the DVD, however. Those of us who watched the live show on PPV saw two things that were edited out of the DVD release: Mickie countering a Trish Stratus suplex basically by groping her and then licking her fingers, and Mickie’s botched finish. Both are edited out of the DVD deftly by the production crew, but I’m puzzled as to why they did so. More than puzzled, I’m upset that they would edit the show like that. I saw it happen, so trying to edit the events from my memory via the DVD will not be successful.

Yet another pointless backstage skit, this time with everyone’s favorite non-wrestlers, the McMahon family. Stupid, and I refuse to recap it. Speaking of stupidity, next we have Mark Henry in a casket match against the Undertaker. The set-up was insipid, and appropriately enough, so was the match. The match had no glaring problems, but is only helpful to those trying to fight back against insomnia.

After several months of rambling promos and the silliest over-acting, Vince McMahon meets Shawn Michaels in a no-holds-barred match. Vince is not exactly Shawn’s greatest opponent, but when The Rock has no desire to come back to wrestling (and at times, who can blame him?) we have to take what we can get. The match was a convincing – or so I thought – finish to the McMahon/Michaels rivalry. Nothing technical was on display; Shawn just destroyed Vince using any available ringside paraphernalia. On that level, it was highly amusing. Seeing Vince get a great ass-whipping is perversely satisfying, but that might just be me.

Finally, we get the announcement that next year’s WrestleMania will be in Detroit. Whee, I guess.

For extras, Disc One has an 18-man interpromotional battle royal and some Edge/Foley vignettes. The battle royal is absolutely terrible, even by battle royal standards. The only rewarding aspect of this extra is the commentary from Cole and Tazz, as they use every last drop of sarcastic wit they have to completely rip on the match and its winner, Viscera. The Edge/Foley vignettes are those movie trailer-esque pieces that aired on RAW to promote the hardcore match.

We move on…

Disc two

Disc Two opens with the triple threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship, as Kurt Angle defends against unnecessary element Randy Orton and Rey Mysterio w/ Eddie Guerrero. Really, the Eddie stuff was old by the time WrestleMania rolled around, because Orton made sure to pimp Eddie’s memory for cheap heat, and it was unnecessary for Rey because his own story was compelling enough. On another note, what was Randy Orton even doing in the match to begin with? He was completely unneeded. At least the match itself was good, albeit far too short for Rey’s first major title victory. The match had plenty of action, but it needed more time to feel suitably epic for a main event match. The Playboy Pillow Fight could’ve been cut to give these guys more time to develop their match, but then again, who am I to tell the WWE how to run a successful wrestling promotion?

I refuse to even recap the Playboy Pillow Fight. This is unmitigated crap. Move on.

WrestleMania 22 closes with the WWE Championship match, a match that easily eclipsed last year’s main event. Honestly, the match is 50 percent crowd participation, and the match was built around the vociferous reactions of the crowd. The atmosphere was incredible. Something, however, should be said of the entrances prior to the match. Triple H rose through the stage on a large throne, accompanied by new music and a ridiculous wardrobe. That had my WrestleMania party almost in tears of laughter. John Cena took it upon himself to defeat Triple H in that particular endeavor, as he came out in 1930s mobster apparel, complete with a pyrotechnic machine gun. Even more laughter from my crew. Taking the atmosphere and the actual wrestling together, this was one of the best WrestleMania main events in some time. I, and many others, was assuming that Triple H would go over here, but John Cena winning was the most unpredictable, and therefore the best finish of the night. Say what you will about John Cena, but the guy has heat.

Disc two’s extras begin with a few “home video exclusives,” as we see Mick Foley receiving stitches, and Rey’s backstage celebration. Both are short, and as such only warrant a single viewing. Disc two also treats us to a WrestleMania post show, which actually has a few exclusive interviews, and a clip of John Cena talking to the Chicago fans on RAW after WrestleMania 22. Again, nothing you’ll want to see twice. WWE also decided to include the entire pre-WrestleMania edition of Saturday Night’s Main Event. The show was somewhat of a failure, but it was not without redeeming qualities, so including the full show here was a good idea. The opening RAW/SmackDown! tag match is solidly worked, although the logistics of teaming the opponents from each title match together stupefies the mind and we, the viewers, are supposed to be shocked. “Oh, gosh, why would Triple H turn on John Cena? That’s his partner! I would’ve never seen that coming. Let’s buy ten tickets to see the next show and tell all of our friends about it!” Or something. The Cutting Edge segment accomplished its goal, and the beer drinking contest was amusing if nothing else. The women’s tag only facilitated Mickie’s heel turn, and as such served its purpose adequately. The Undertaker segment was appallingly bad. Try to forget about it, if you can. The Shawn Michaels/Shane McMahon street fight was a decent little brawl, with a few nice spots to give the less-than-stellar show a satisfactory finish.

As for disc three…

Disc three

Disc three covers the 2006 WWE Hall of Fame induction ceremony in its entirety. The ceremony is far longer than it needed to be, and really dragged on until we hit the “Mean” Gene Okerlund induction. That segment had the best moment of the entire ceremony, actually; the crowd starts chanting for a Hogan/Austin match at WrestleMania that had been teased earlier in the year, and as the camera pans the crowd, we get a quick glimpse of Hogan broadly gesturing that the money offered was not enough to have the Hulkster grace us with his presence at WrestleMania. I’m so disappointed. Sure, he’s popular, but Shawn is the only one with the ability to get a good match out of his old, withering mass of steroid enhanced muscles, and even I’m not confident enough that Shawn could do the same thing again. No, wait… he did do that again, on this very show even, with Vince. But I digress. The only other inductions worthy of note: John Cena did a humorous job of inducting William Perry into the Hall, showcasing the ability to be a likeable personality rather than the wigger-y douche that the writers so desperately want him to be, Sherri is still crazy, the Eddie Guerrero induction was truly touching and emotional, but the fans in attendance need to learn how to shut up and applaud only when it would be appropriate to do so, and Bret Hart also gave an emotional speech, laced with humorous anecdotes of Owen and Stu.

Much like the inclusion of Saturday Night’s Main Event, the Hall of Fame ceremony was not without redeeming features, and I’m happy WWE decided to include this with the set for this year’s WrestleMania rather than asking us to buy it separately like they usually would.

The Verdict

As long as Wal-Mart is taking over the world, you might as well reap the fruits of their labor and pick this DVD set up for the mere 20 dollars they want for it. Sure, eventually Wal-Mart will become like Skynet in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but that won’t happen for a few years, so you can enjoy the prices until the day arrives when the company enslaves the human race and all that stuff.

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