November 9, 2008
Alexander Settee

Wrestlemania 22, April 2, 2006, Allstate Arena, Chicago, IL
Announcers: The teams of: Jim Ross & Jerry “The King” Lawler, and Michael Cole & Tazz; Ross is making his return here from the period where he was replaced as the lead Raw announcer by Joey Styles

Opening Match, World Tag Team Championship: Kane & The Big Show vs. Carlito & Chris Masters

I know that it’s only two and a half years ago, but I cannot for the life of me recall what brought these seemingly random teams to be fighting here for the tag belts. Funny part is that I was considering doing Wrestlemania VII instead of this show and I could rattle off the backstory of every match on that card without even thinking about it, and that one was a full fifteen years prior to this one. Kane and Masters start with a lockup to a side headlock by Masters. He gets fired off, but nails a shoulderblock. He comes off again, but gets nailed with a dropkick, and then takes a headbutt from Show on the apron. Kane makes the tag to Show now, and he comes in with some chops. Masters goes to the eyes and makes the tag to Carlito, who seemingly wants no part of Show. He tries a wristlock, but that has no effect at all and Show ends up picking him up and crotching him on the ropes. Masters is in, but he takes a boot and a press slam before rolling to the floor. Show then press slams Carlito on to him. Kane follows that up with a dive onto both from the top rope. Show gets them back in, nailing a clothesline on Masters, but that allows Carlito to nail dropkick to the knee. Show falls forward in to an exposed buckle which the replay shows Carlito removing earlier. This lets the challengers take over briefly with a double flapjack for 2, but when they try a double suplex, Show reverses and gets both of them with one of his own. Tag to Kane, who beats up both guys, getting a backdrop on Carlito, and a slam on Masters. He then gets a clothesline on Masters in the corner, but when he charges back at Carlito, he runs into a boot. That advantage lasts all of a couple seconds though as Kane immediately gets him with a side slam. Kane goes up, but coming down he gets hooked by Masters in the Masterlock. Show breaks that up with a big boot as this was during the period where no one had yet broken the hold on their own. Show gets snake eyes on Masters as this thing has basically become a tornado match. Carlito gets the backcracker on Kane, followed by Show grabbing him for a chokeslam, but Masters stops that by clipping Show’s leg. Kane sits up now and takes on both challengers. Miscommunication sees Masters nail Carlito off the top rope, which leads to a chokeslam by Kane and that gets the pin at 6:42. Kane and Show retain. Good for the faces to go over in the opener, as well as for a couple of highspots, but the match was pretty much just a semi-competitive squash with the champs never really in any danger, and I kinda wonder what this was doing on the card at all. *

Money In The Bank Ladder Match: Matt Hardy vs. Shelton Benjamin (Intercontinental Champion) vs. Fit Finlay vs. Rob Van Dam vs. Bobby Lashley vs. Ric Flair

Six way brawl to start, with Lashley controlling, including a press slam on Flair until Shelton takes him out with a kick. Matt goes for the first ladder, but RVD nails him with a baseball slide, and then dives out on to him on the floor. Shelton takes out Finlay with a ladder, and then sets it up as a ramp against the ropes. In our craziest spot of the match, he runs up it and springboards out on to three guys on the floor. Flair takes Finlay out in the ring and goes to climb, but Matt makes it back to save and he even suplexes Flair off of the ladder! Flair does not need to be taking that bump at his age, but I guess he really felt like proving he belonged here. The refs do that “X” symbol which they originally used for legitimate injuries, but once they realized that fans were aware of it, they started using it for worked ones like this one as well. Flair is helped to the back while RVD gets a drop toehold on Shelton onto a ladder. Rolling Thunder misses and RVD lands on the ladder himself. Lashley sets up another one and climbs, but Shelton gets up there and rakes the eyes. He flips over Lashley for a sunset flip powerbomb, and with some help from Finlay and Matt, he gets it. Finlay uses a ladder to take out everyone, but now Flair limps back out. He climbs, but gets pulled down by Matt and Shelton. After fighting them off, he climbs again, but gets met by Finlay and nailed with the shillelagh. Now Finlay almost has the case, but Shelton holds him up until Lashley can come back and tip both of them over. He nails the Dominator on Shelton and climbs, but RVD is back to dropkick his ladder over. Matt takes RVD out, and follows up with a legdrop off the ladder on to Lashley. He climbs, with Finlay stopping him, but Matt then gets him with a Side Effect off the ladder. RVD gets to the top of a ladder in the corner, and comes off with a splash on Finlay. He climbs, but Shelton leaps in out of nowhere and land on the ladder to make the save. Matt climbs a second ladder alongside them, so RVD ends up tipping both of them over and out to the floor. This leaves RVD all alone and able to grab the case for the win at 12:22. This had all the big bumps you would expect from a match like this, but it was kinda short and really lacked drama at the finish. I also question the inclusion of guys like Lashley, Flair, and Finlay. I mean, if you’re going to do a crazy spotfest, you may as well load it up with guys who will shine in that kind of environment. This is not the time to be an equal opportunist. *** Oh, and they were only about four years too late on getting RVD into the main event scene.

Hall of Fame Roll Call: Mean Gene Okerlund, Sensational Sherri, Tony Atlas, Verne Gagne, William “Refrigerator” Perry, The Blackjacks, and Vickie Guerrero (representing Eddie Guerrero). Bret Hart is absent as he chose not to appear here tonight.

United States Championship Match: Chris Benoit vs. John “Bradshaw” Layfield (w/Jillian Hall)

The story here was that JBL wanted to declare himself the best technical wrestler of all time. He decided that since he already had a win over Eddie Guerrero, all he had to do now was get a win over Benoit and that moniker would be his. They lock up, with JBL backing him to the corner where a slugfest breaks out. JBL ends that by grabbing a side headlock. He gets fired off and hits a shoulderblock, but when he comes off again Benoit gets a drop toehold. Benoit goes for the Crossface, but can’t get it in spite of a long struggle. JBL goes back to that headlock, with Benoit reversing to a leglock, but soon letting that go in favour of some punches to the back of the head. Chops set up a corner whip, but JBL gets the boot up on the charge. Benoit still gets an armdrag, and tries a Sharpshooter, but can’t hook it either. JBL rolls to the floor for a breather. Benoit chases, but JBL hides behind Jillian, and then takes advantage with a thumb to the eye. Back in, a slugfest breaks out and JBL stomps him to the mat. He misses a charge to the corner however, and that allows Benoit to get the triple German suplexes. He goes up, but JBL hooks the ropes and crotches him. JBL mocks Eddie’s mannerisms, and then joins him on the ropes where they trade a few shots, but JBL ends up getting a superplex for 2. More mocking of Eddie leads to JBL trying the Three Amigos, but Benoit blocks the third one. He fights back, but runs into a big boot for 2. Now JBL goes to a combo nerve hold and rear chinlock. They sit there for a bit before Benoit is up and he suplexes out. Benoit wins a slugfest and now he gets his own version of the Three Amigos. He goes up and hits the flying headbutt for 2. Charge misses, so JBL goes for the Clothesline From Hell, but Benoit ducks. He tries another German suplex, but JBL hooks the ropes and the ref to save himself. He catches Benoit with an elbow and tries the Clothesline again, but misses and gets hooked for the Crossface. After a bit of a struggle, Benoit hooks it, but then JBL rolls him over, grabs the ropes, and gets the 3 count to win the US Title at 9:46. These guys really had no chemistry together and the result was a match that was really nothing special at all. *1/2

Hardcore Match: Edge (w/Lita) vs. Mick Foley

This was the last Foley comeback that actually meant anything, as the idea was that he would take Edge from being a guy they wanted as a main eventer to being a guy who was a main eventer. This feud, of course, wasn’t the only reason Edge got over to the extent that he has, it was certainly a big help to him, that’s for sure. The feud began when Foley reffed the match where Edge lost the WWE Title back to Cena only three weeks after cashing in last year’s MITB to win it in the first place. Edge blamed Foley for his loss, and then various threats, challenges, and insider references were thrown around with the result being that we have a Hardcore Match here tonight. Edge has a bat with him and tries to attack, but Foley avoids it and gets some shots of his own in. Corner whip leads to a bulldog, followed by setting Edge in the Tree of Woe and coming in with a running elbow. Edge fires back with some forearms while telling Lita to grab the weapons from under the ring. He nails Foley with some really hard shots using a cookie sheet, and then dropkicks a road sign in his face. He gets Foley with a spear, but suddenly he starts selling big as well. Foley reveals that he’s been wearing barbed wire around his body, which he now cuts off and whips Edge with. We see that Edge is bleeding from the arm as Foley works him over. He ties Edge in the ropes and grabs his barbed wire baseball bat. Lita jumps in to save her man, but with her on his back Foley charges at Edge and takes everyone out to the floor with a Cactus Clothesline. That gets a 2 count as does a neckbreaker on the floor. He sets Edge up with some punches, but when he charges he gets hiptossed onto the stairs. Edge now rams Foley to the barrier and whips him hard over the stairs. Back in briefly before Edge dropkicks him right back out. Table gets set up, but as Edge goes up, Foley rolls off and nothing comes of it yet. Instead, Edge yanks him down headfirst on the ramp for 2. Lita passes him some lighter fluid, which he sprays Foley with, but Foley fights back and gets a piledriver for 2. Now he grabs a chair, but Lita distracts him long enough for Edge to come back with a DDT for 2. Edge grabs the barbed wire bat and nails Foley a few times, busting him open in the process. A bulldog on the bat only gets 2, so his next idea is to pull out the thumbtacks. He pours them all over, but Foley is able to reverse it and suplex Edge into them instead. Foley pulls out Socko, and wraps it in barbed wire for good measure. Edge takes it, and when Lita tries to intervene, she tastes it as well. Her lip gets cut open from that. Now Foley goes to work with the barbed wire bat as both guys are just bleeding buckets now. He grates it on Edge’s face for a bit before grabbing the lighter fluid and dousing the table that’s still out on the floor. Lita has recovered enough to grab the bat and smack Foley right in the groin. This gives her time to finish prepping the table and light it on fire. Edge spears Foley off the apron, through the flaming table and that mercifully gets the 3 count at 14:41. Wow! This was, pardon my language, a FUCKING HARDCORE MATCH, which really lived up to its name! I’ve said before that these types of matches aren’t generally my favourites, but here there was no goofiness, no lame comedy spots, and no stupid nonsense. This was just two guys going out there and knocking years off their lives for our amusement, and I loved it. I dare say that this was the single best hardcore match that this company has ever put on. ****3/4 It’s a good thing they have so much filler on this card, because if I were in an important match, I would not want to have to follow that.

Speaking of that filler, first we go to a backstage segment where Booker T and Sharmell run into a group of freaks consisting of Pirate Paul Burchill, Ted Dibiase, Eugene, Snitsky, Mae Young, Fabulous Moolah, and finally, Goldust, who is dressed as Oprah. They tell Booker that in order to beat Boogeyman, he’s going to have to unleash his inner freak, but he just brushes them off.

Booker T & Sharmell vs. The Boogeyman

This is a handicap match for reasons I don’t recall and which were not adequately explained. Booker actually makes Sharmell start, but it turns out to be all part of the plan as Booker attacks from behind and takes the tag. He works Boogeyman over as the smoke from the entrances is really thick and lingering to the point where you can barely see anything beyond the ring. Booker gets a crescent kick for 2 and the Bookend, which also only gets 2. Ax kick misses, so Boogeyman sends him to the post. He pulls some worms out at this point and sticks them in his mouth. Sharmell goes to attack him with his own stick, but he counters that by kissing her. She runs away, so Boogeyman finishes Booker off with a chokeslam at 3:55. What a waste of, well, everything. Booker and Sharmell are probably just glad the feud is over as better times would be ahead for them later in the year. DUD

Women’s Championship Match: Trish Stratus vs. Mickie James

Mickie debuted as a fan of Trish who quickly grew into an obsessive psycho. Trish tried to let her down, but Mickie took exception to that and went nuts, so we have this match here to settle it all. Mickie smacks her off of a lockup, so Trish comes back with a Thesz press and some punches. She puts the boots to her in the corner, and then kicks her to the floor. She tries a Chick Kick out there, but Mickie ducks and Trish kicks the post instead. Back in, Mickie goes to work on the leg and covers for 2. At this point, the crowd, who has not given me any reason to believe that they are anything other than a normal wrestling crowd, completely turns on Trish, and starts wildly cheering Mickie. So much so that the announcers are even forced to acknowledge it, with JR calling them “defiant”. Mickie gets a half crab, but when Trish won’t give up, she lets it go and gets a cover for 1. Still on that leg, going to a leglock now, but Trish maneuvers her way into getting a headscissors takedown. The crowd boos the hell out of that. Come on Chicago, what did Trish ever do to you? She follows up with a couple of clotheslines and a spinebuster for 2. Corner whip, but Mickie gets the feet up on the charge. Mickie goes up, but Trish catches her for a Stratusphere, which is then blocked by Mickie slamming her to the mat. That gets 2 for Mickie, followed by Trish getting a small package for 2. Mickie tries a rana, but that gets blocked by Trish to a sitdown powerbomb for 2. Man, this crowd is cold for her. I can only guess that a good portion of them recently got turned down by a friend for whom they have a homosexual obsession, and therefore they can really relate to Mickie. Theory number two would be that they’re rebelling against the nonsense of the previous match and Trish is just wrong place wrong time. Trish botches her Matrix-like avoidance of a kick, which is the last thing she needs to do in front of this crowd, and puts the boots to Mickie. Stratusfaction is blocked by Mickie molesting her, which has Trish freaked out for a minute before she knocks Mickie down with a big shot. She charges, but gets tripped up and that leads to Mickie going for her own Stratusfaction, which presumably would have been the finish, but it gets completely botched. She improvises a high kick and that finishes Trish off and gives Mickie her first Women’s Championship at 8:49. Mickie has grown into probably the most popular woman wrestler they have today, but at this point she was solidly booked as the heel, so I don’t know where these crowd reactions came from. It really hurts the match too, because it’s tough to watch Trish trying all of her usual babyface spots, and getting booed out of the building for them, while I will give Mickie props for going with the flow and playing to the crowd a bit. ½*

Vince McMahon leads the entire family in a prayer about his hatred for Shawn Michaels. This was actually kind of funny. Oh, and for those who care, at this point the entire McMahon family is here and aligned together. I know it can be hard to keep track of who hates who in that family at any given moment, so I want to be sure to point it out.

Casket Match: Mark Henry vs. The Undertaker

As much as they tried to put Henry over, no one believed for a second that the streak was in any danger here. Henry attacks and hammers Taker down, but runs into a boot off a corner whip. Taker comes off with a clothesline, but Henry won’t go down. Second try sees the same result, and on the third try he gets caught by Henry with a clothesline of his own. He chokes Taker down and sends them both to the floor with a rope straddle. They trade shots to the stairs and get back in where Taker tries the Old School rope walk, but Henry pulls him down. He tries to get Taker in the casket, but can’t do it, so he goes back on him. Corner whip sees Taker get the boot up again. This time Old School hits, but Henry is right back up to knock Taker down again. He sets Taker on the ropes in front of the casket and tries the rope straddle again, but Taker moves and Henry lands feet first in the casket. Taker joins him and they fight for a while in there, but soon enough make it out and back into the ring. Taker runs into a powerslam, and they actually give Henry a phantom three count as he covers Taker for at least that long before remembering that pins don’t count here. He gets Taker in the casket, but Taker recovers quickly enough to pull Henry down on the ropes and escape. Taker tries a headbutt, but just hurts himself on it. Henry nails a clothesline and mounts him in the corner for punches, but Taker grabs hold and hits the Last Ride out of the corner. He tosses Henry to the floor, and nails his dive over the casket to the floor, which is still impressive for a guy his age. Back in, he gets a Tombstone, which is also impressive on a guy Henry’s size. That lets him roll Henry into the casket and close the lid for the win at 9:27. It was a good solid win for Taker, but again, no one bought Henry as a legit threat, so that kinda takes away from it a bit. *

No Holds Barred Match: Shawn Michaels vs. Mr. McMahon

The basic idea here was that Shawn confronted Vince about going too far in some of the things he was doing in running the company (the Kiss My Ass Club in particular). Vince, not a person known for handling criticism well, decided to make Shawn’s life a living Hell as a result. Bret Hart’s name was also used quite a bit in the buildup, with Vince claiming that he would screw Shawn in the same way that he screwed Bret (although he of course notes that it would be Shawn who screws Shawn). The intention was also to make people think that Bret would somehow get involved in this match, since he would be in town for the Hall of Fame ceremony, but Bret wanted nothing to do with Vince’s angles as usual. Vince has a framed blowup of his Muscle and Fitness cover at ringside, which he proudly shows off prompting Shawn to attack. Shawn beats him up all over ringside, and caps it off by breaking the poster over Vince’s head. Anyone remember the Spirit Squad? Well, they’re here and they run in and attack Shawn at this point. JR cracks me up by referring to them as a “human boil on the tailbone of life”. Kenny misses a legdrop off the top while the others are helping Vince up so that allows Shawn to take them all out and send them on their way. Vince takes advantage of the distraction to nail a clothesline. He then takes his belt off and whips Shawn a few times. Shawn tries fighting back, but Vince clotheslines him with the belt to retain control. He goes for his own version of Sweet Chin Music, but Shawn blocks it and comes back with some chops. Irish whip is reversed, but Shawn comes off with the flying forearm. He kips up, and now he grabs Vince’s belt and uses it on him. Slam sets up the top rope elbow, which hits, but when he goes for Sweet Chin Music, out comes Shane McMahon to nail him with a kendo stick. Shane also has some handcuffs with him, but Vince has different plans and to that end, he pulls his pants down. Shane goes to shove Shawn’s face in there, but Shawn reverses and Shane ends up going face first into Daddy’s ass, with Vince smiling and dancing, oblivious to his son’s misfortune. Shawn then nails Vince with a low blow and he clotheslines Shane to the floor. He cuffs Shane to the ropes, and even makes sure to toss the key away for good measure. Shane then gets blasted with the kendo stick a few times before Shawn grabs a chair and plasters Vince. He sets up SCM, but decides he’s not finished yet. So he nails Vince with a ladder and goes for SCM again, but that’s still not enough damage. He brings garbage cans and a table into the ring. Vince takes a shot with the can and gets set on the table so Shawn can drop an elbow from the ladder, but even that’s not good enough for Shawn. He goes out and grabs a bigger ladder and sets it up in the ring. He puts a garbage can on Vince’s head, puts him back on the table, climbs the ladder (with the ref helpfully holding it balanced), and drops a huge elbow from way up high. The stretcher is called for as Vince may be dead, but Shawn holds them off. Now he wants Sweet Chin Music, and gets it. That finally finishes Vince off at 18:27. Remember what I said in the Edge/Foley match about how the lack of goofiness and stupid nonsense helped make that one a great hardcore match? Well, this one had plenty of goofiness and stupid nonsense dragging it down, although there were also some pretty good bumps and some pretty intense violence at times to help compensate. Maybe this one gets hurt by comparing it to the far superior hardcore match earlier on the show, but in coming to a rating I’m also drawing comparisons to the Hogan/McMahon match from WMXIX which I reviewed a few weeks ago. I want to call this match ***, but that’s the same rating I gave the Hogan match, and I don’t think I liked this one quite as much as that one so I’ll call it **3/4. Vince flips us all the bird as he’s being stretchered out, which is cool and all, but if you gave that spot to one of your, you know, wrestlers, it might help someone get over.

World Heavyweight Championship Match: Kurt Angle vs. Rey Mysterio, Jr. vs. Randy Orton

Mysterio won the Rumble to earn his shot here, but got goaded into putting it on the line against Orton at No Way Out. Orton beat him for it, but Smackdown GM Teddy Long was like “That’s ok, we’ll just have a Triple Threat”, so here we are. Charles Robinson displays the belt for all to see as usual for a title match, so Orton grabs it from him and clocks Angle out to the floor getting us under way. Rey goes for Orton, but gets whipped to the corner. He leaps up and comes back off, but gets dropkicked for 2. Angle comes back with a German suplex on Orton. Rey then ends up hooked as well, so Angle hits a German on both of them at the same time, which is a pretty cool spot. He gets 2 on Orton from it, but Orton comes right back with a neckbreaker on Angle for 2. Corner whip is reversed, but Orton gets an elbow up. He then walks into a belly to belly suplex. Angle puts Orton on the top rope, but Rey comes from behind and rams Angle to Orton’s groin. Rey then charges at Angle, who launches him up so he can get a rana on Orton. Angle tosses Rey and goes for the cover, getting 2. Orton bails briefly, but gets suplexed right back in by Angle for 2. He can’t get the ankle lock on Orton, so he nails Rey with a clothesline as he comes back in for 2. Irish whip is reversed and it sees Rey fail to connect with a sunset flip, but he still gets Angle with a solid kick to the head for 2. Rey comes off again and gets a headscissors takedown on Angle to set up the 619, but Angle catches him and hooks the ankle lock. Orton has a chair, so the ref goes to stop him from getting in at which point Rey taps, but it doesn’t count. Angle is pissed, so he knocks Orton off the apron and then goes right back to the hold. This time Orton comes in and breaks it up. Slugfest breaks out between Angle and Orton leading to Angle nailing Germans on both guys. He Angle Slams Rey to the floor and gets the ankle lock on Orton, but just before Orton taps, Rey pulls the ref away so this tap goes unnoticed as well. Now Angle has “beaten” both of them. Angle boots Rey back out and reapplies the hold on Orton, but Rey breaks it with a top rope legdrop on Angle and gets 2 from it. Rey then charges at Angle and gets run to the post to take him out of it for a bit. He tries the Angle Slam on Orton, but Orton escapes and nails the RKO. That only gets 2 though, so Orton slowly climbs the ropes as he’s still selling the effects of the ankle lock, but Angle meets him up there and brings him down with a belly to belly suplex. Angle pulls himself up on the ropes, so Rey tries to come around the post with a 619. He slips off and can’t hit it though, so he just jumps back up and kicks Angle. Springboard press only gets 2 though. Orton stomps Rey and boots Angle to the floor. He puts Rey in a backbreaker, and then slams him down for 2. He sets up for the RKO, but Angle comes back from behind and nails the Angle Slam for 2. Angle goes for it on Rey now, but Rey slips out and hits an armdrag to send Angle to the floor. Dropkick puts Orton in position for the 619, which hits. He follows up with a springboard rana which gets 3 and makes Rey the new World Heavyweight Champion at 9:19. Obviously there were timing issues with this show because I can’t believe that they would have only budgeted nine minutes for one of their main event matches. What they did pack in to that time was pretty good, but that being said, I don’t think that this was so spectacular that the extra time would have pulled it to a higher level of greatness. Another thing was that they really made a point of keeping Angle strong. He gets phantom submissions over both guys, gets to kick out of both finishers, and doesn’t have to take the fall in spite of being the champion. You’d think they’d want to focus a bit more on the guy who would actually be winning, but what do I know? **1/2

Playboy Pillow Fight: Candice Michelle vs. Torrie Wilson

They roll around on the bed (yes there is a bed in the ring), and then on the mat. The crowd turns on this match big time, and unlike in the earlier women’s match featuring women who could actually wrestle, I don’t feel the least bit sorry for them. The clothes get ripped off and they roll around a bit more until Torrie finally ends it with a rollup at 3:55. DUD

Main Event, WWE Championship Match: John Cena vs. Triple H

The entrances here are just surreal. HHH comes out dressed as some sort of ancient barbarian king complete with furry jacket, crown, and shiny accessories. Cena counters that with an entrance based on The Untouchables featuring gun toting gangsters (including a Before They Were Stars CM Punk) driving out in a 30’s style car. HHH is the clear crowd favourite here, although that was expected coming in. The crowd has been decently hot so far, but their reactions here for the entire length of the match are just off the charts. HHH dominates a couple of chain wrestling sequences to start. Next lockup sees him get a cheapshot off a break. Corner whip is reversed, but HHH gets the elbow up. Cena almost gets the FU, but HHH avoids it and hits some punches. He tosses Cena to the floor, but turns his back and that allows Cena to come back and attack. Corner whip sets up a backdrop for 2. He gets a couple more corner whips, followed by a suplex for 2. He goes to a rear chinlock now, with HHH soon making it to his feet and backing them to a corner. HHH tries a shot but Cena blocks and gets his own. Corner whip sends HHH over the top to the floor. Cena follows, but HHH goes to the eyes. He tries a piledriver on the floor, but Cena counters to a backdrop on the ramp. Back in, that gets a 1 count. Irish whip is reversed, and HHH nails him with a high knee. He chokes Cena and pushes him to the floor, where he then whips Cena to the stairs. HHH gets 2 from that back in the ring, and then uses a suplex, followed by a kneedrop for another 2. Cena fires back and sends HHH off, but puts his head down and takes a facebuster, followed by a clothesline for 2. Neckbreaker also gets 2 for HHH. Cena fights back, but puts his head down again and takes another neckbreaker for 2. HHH goes to a neck vice, but Cena escapes this only to get caught in a sleeper. This takes Cena down, but he soon makes it back up and fights out. He hits some shoulderblock in the corner and gets a clothesline. This leads to a slugfest, won by Cena when he gets a couple of clotheslines and a powerslam. Spin out powerbomb hits, followed by an attempted Five Knuckle Shuffle, but HHH catches him with a spinebuster for 2. Cena comes back off the ropes and gets a couple of shoulderblocks, but is soon caught in the sleeper again. He suplexes out of this one and completes the Five Knuckle Shuffle that was interrupted earlier. He hooks the STFU, but HHH manages to struggle to the ropes for the break. They make it to their feet, where Cena tries the FU, but HHH escapes and they end up bumping the ref in the corner. HHH goes for a low blow, and ends up connecting on both Cena and the ref. This gives him the chance to grab his sledge hammer. Cena avoids the first shot, but ends up getting hit anyways. The ref is dazed, and slowly makes his way over to count, but Cena kicks out a 2.5. Another try at the cover leads to another 2 count. Pedigree is tried, but Cena backdrops him to avoid it. Cena gets the FU, but HHH kicks out at 2. Now he’s frustrated, so he goes up and ends up missing a bodypress. HHH sets up the Pedigree again, but Cena counters back to the STFU. The arm drops twice, but HHH stays in it on the third try. He struggles for the ropes, but in the end he can’t make it so he taps out at 22:02. Cena retains the title, which was actually considered somewhat of a surprise at the time. This was like a training wheels version of a PPV main event where they were more concerned with not having a bad match then they were with having a good match. They did succeed at that by keeping everything basic and methodical, with no risks taken at all, but by doing that they also guaranteed that they were going to end up putting on match that would not be considered a classic or anything. Someone like a Shawn Michaels or a Bret Hart given a match with a guy like Cena on a stage like this would decide that it was their personal mission to carry him to a great match, whatever it took. Even if they failed, they would still try, and I guess that’s the difference between guys like that and HHH, who talks the talk of a ring general, but apparently wouldn’t, or couldn’t back it up here tonight. **

At the time I didn’t think that this was that great of a show, and now two years of perspective bears me out. Edge/Foley is a great match, but it comes out as the only must see highlight of the show. Everything else is either weak, disappointing, or a waste of time. For having a match that falls just short of perfect, I can’t call it thumbs down, but I definitely can’t go any better than thumbs in the middle. My recommendation would be to pick up the new Edge DVD that comes out next month featuring this match with Foley, and then you can safely let this one stay on the shelf for the rest of time.

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