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Written By: Mark Armstrong
Running Time: 542 Minutes
Number Of Discs: 3
Studio: Clear Vision Ltd/Silver Vision
Released: July 3 2006
Chicago was the site of the 22nd WrestleMania, which had been subtitled “Big Time” by WWE. It was unusual in that the show delivered plenty of entertainment, but there felt like something was missing. On DVD, however, the opposite is true: it is one of the most stacked wrestling DVDs ever.
WM 22 opens with a short tag bout that would lead to Carlito becoming a good guy on Raw the next night. Then comes the second Money In The Bank match, which had expectations of disappointment beforehand due to the casting, but is more than good enough when watching it. Some truly insane moves here, culminating in Rob Van Dam winning the briefcase at a time when the result of MITB truly felt massive.
JBL’s United States Title win is okay but forgettable, a description that cannot be labelled on the following Hardcore match between Edge and Mick Foley. This is as brutal and violent a bout as any ever held in WWE, and features a stunning ending whereby the Rated R Superstar Spears the Hardcore Legend through a burning table. Foley got his WrestleMania moment here, and fans got a great hardcore fight in what was the last true year of the TV-14 era in WWE.
The Boogeyman wins a handicap match that seems bizarre on this stage. Mickie James defeats Trish Stratus in a strong Divas Title match, and The Undertaker goes 14-0 in a Casket match win over Mark Henry. At this point, the Streak was good but more something for Taker’s diehard fans to savour as opposed to WWE fans as a whole. How things would change by the time it ended at WM 30.
Shawn Michaels vs. Vince McMahon is a strange one. This No Holds Barred match is undeniably entertaining, but I think some of the praise of this bout is a bit over the top. Nevertheless, it is very enjoyable, and Shawn’s huge elbow drop is as crazy as any move on any WrestleMania ever.
The three-way for the World Title could have been a classic had it been twice as long; the nine minute allocation was heavily criticised at the time. Rey Mysterio was less vocal as this saw him become World Champ in tribute to the recently-passed Eddie Guerrero. This is also notable as being Kurt Angle’s last WrestleMania match to date, if not ever.
The Playboy match between Torrie Wilson and Candice Michelle is brief (no pun intended), and leads to the WWE Title main event between John Cena and Triple H. Everyone was wondering whether Cena would be booed here, and he was, viciously. Still, he triumphed in a match that wasn’t a classic but was still quite dramatic. Despite winning his first WWE Title at WM 21, this is the match that truly solidified Cena’s place as the main man in WWE.
A few notes about this match: it was the first time in a long time that the main event didn’t feature the Royal Rumble winner (in fact, only three winners have since 2006). During the match, HHH performed a DX chop, as did HBK in his bout earlier on, in a hint of the DX revival which was to come. And one of the fake mobsters during Cena’s entrance was a man who had yet to appear on WWE TV, but would become a major force in years to come: CM Punk.
WrestleMania 22 delivered a lot of entertainment, then, but as I said there felt like a void. Most likely, it was because the much-anticipated Steve Austin vs. Hulk Hogan dream match, which was planned at one point for the card (Hogan indirectly challenged Austin at Raw Homecoming), didn’t happen, and neither icon even appeared despite being at the Hall Of Fame the night before.
That HOF ceremony is included on the DVD in full. Inductees here are The Blackjacks, Tony Atlas, William “Refrigerator” Perry (celebrity inductee), Verne Gagne, Sensational Sherri, Mean Gene Okerlund, Eddie Guerrero (posthumously) and star inductee Bret Hart. Eddie’s induction is emotional, given his death a few months prior, but the highlight is Bret’s first proper WWF/WWE appearance since Survivor Series 1997. Bret’s speech includes plenty of funny anecdotes, and going back to a previous point, the induction also sees a great quip by Bret’s inductor Steve Austin, as Stone Cold drops a line about Hulk Hogan (who had inducted Mean Gene). This was in the days when everyone involved sat on stage after their ‘moment’, so we see a priceless expression on Hulk’s face after this line by Austin. Overall, very entertaining and memorable, but fans who only attended WM 22 weren’t happy when Bret decided not to appear on the PPV to mark his induction for various reasons.
The DVD set is by no means over, though. Well, in a way because the other extras are on disc two. We get the WM 22 post-show, as seen on WWE.com at the time, John Cena addressing fans after Raw the next night, and the entire episode of Saturday Night’s Main Event from March 18 2006. The return of SNME for the first time since 1992 is basically one big promotion for the WM card, but has its fair share of good matches and fun segments, including a Beer Drinking Contest between Stone Cold and JBL.
On the whole, this is a truly great wrestling DVD set. Mania has a lot of worthwhile content, even if it lacks that absolute classic bout. The HOF is more than satisfactory from an entertainment standpoint and is historic for hosting Bret’s return to WWE. And the SNME show is a lot of fun in its own right, and there are still other extras too. Watching the WrestleMania 22 DVD set also brings back memories of the days when WWE was by no means PG, from violent action to sexual content. For those wrestling fans who dislike the current version of WWE, you will love this set, but even if that isn’t an issue, this is still a wrestling DVD release that you need to own.
Overall Rating: 9.5/10 – Classic