Triple H, October 2011:
“When I grew up, I hated Hogan. I thought he was terrible and didn’t like to watch him. I was like Punk in a way. I liked the Steamboats and Flairs and the ones that could go. Would I be right in saying that Hogan was the wrong guy to go with, and they should’ve changed directions and gone with Steamboat because he was the better wrestler? Ludicrous.” - Triple H. October, 2011.
Wrestlemania XXII- 2006
Thursday, March 29, 2007
The build is here.
WRESTLEMANIA XXII – Chicago
(hey, new format - note if you click the arrows by the archived posts you'll see the events written about in that post, further, the oldest shows are archived first; it will make walking your way through the full Counterfactual more navigable. Thanks for reading. Enjoy the show.)
Joey and Taz is your announce team.
The show opens with the four competitors for the dark match in the ring, CM Punk, getting the hometown babyface reaction, with the idea being that he is always positioned to look like a star, with the microphone.
Punk re-establishes the gimmick, this is Wrestlemania XXII – the biggest show of the year, some say the biggest show of all time – and for the people in this building, for the people in Chicago, his hometown, they are about to see 4 of the best wrestlers in the world demonstrate their pride and passion for the sport they love.
“But for all of you at home, I don’t give a damn how much you paid, I don’t give a damn if you are sitting there at your Wrestlemania party, with your beer and your potato chips, I don’t give a damn if you have seen all 21 Wrestlemanias and you’d never miss one and this is your favorite day of the year, and I don’t give a damn if you are 8 years old, watching me for the first time, watching Wrestlemania for the first time, and this is bigger than Christmas for you….because I am CM Punk – and I don’t wrestle for any of you…
I wrestle for me.
Now turn off the cameras – or I am leaving this ring….”
And so they do. Cutting to a taped package to hype the show.
(Dark Match: CM Punk d. London/Kendrick/Noble – you don’t get to know how, ‘cause it’s dark, see. You missed it too. It was great. When we come back, it’s to see Punk walking back up the aisle, again, I want a superstar Chicago reaction for him as he exits.)
1. DMW d. 51% Solution (w/Arn) d. MNM (w/Melina) d. Orton/Cena
-It’s an elimination match; the announce sells hard Hunter’s prediction, that he’s been repeating since Summer Slam, that he would walk out of WM with gold. Given the monster Lashley push, we should strongly assume they’re going over here to win the spot in the tag title match later in the evening.
Orton/Cena go first – Orton turns on him right after they are introduced, doesn’t wait for the match to start – just out of nowhere hits him with the RKO, curses him out, and leaves.
Orton’s gonna get pushed. It’s a face turn for Cena who now becomes his real world babyface gimmick, albeit without the profile.
MNM goes next, with Mercury taking the fall from DMW, serving as the blowoff to that feud.
Lashley never gets in the match – HHH-M is heel in peril, getting beaten down by the monsters, the crowd waits to see the Executioner enter – but just as was the case in the War Games match – Lashley is distracted by the ‘Taker – who didn’t enter with Kane and PAUL, instead, waiting right until Lashley was about to receive the hot tag – but then came the Bong and the light cue and the Taker appearing at the top of the aisle.
Lashley, as with the War Games match, left ringside, sprinting at the Undertaker, the two brawling, disappearing in the back. Hunter was left alone with the monsters, he played chickenshit heel – but fell to the double chokeslam.
Dead Men Walking – Kane and PAUL~ go over in the opening tag and will join the LWO and the champs, Bradshaw and Booker, in the tag title match later tonight.
2. Hardcore Legend’s Match: Cactus Jack (w/Paul E) d. RVD (w/Stevie)
-Foley’s second legend’s win. Realistic top end for this match is Foley/Edge from real world XXII. It’s gonna be a hardcore summer in the WWF, given what we’re gonna do with these guys; so you need to start thinking about RVD (and given his degradation, it’s time) as a garbage wrestler.
RVD’s established, at this point in their careers, as superior, and we give Stevie, who I really like and would use if I could, a spot where he superkicks an invading Guido and Nova – before he’s overcome by the second ECW wave, which is Sandman/Dreamer, who, going forward, are part of the tag ranks.
They cane Stevie, they cane Van Dam, and that helps lead to the finish, Foley DDT’ing RVD threw a flaming table to get the fall.
The ECW contingent puts it to RVD and Stevie postmatch.
It’s Sabu’s WWF debut; we haven’t used him previously. Joey screams, well, you know what he screams – Sabu is Sabu – save that he’s swinging two glass light tubes.
If you’ve watched any Big Japan in the last couple of years, you know that glass light tubes are the new barbed wire, and we’ll be using them as the main garbage stip at Summer Slam.
Sabu does his stuff; and he, Van Dam, and Stevie clean house.
Sabu won’t be talking in the Counterfactual, that’s what Stevie’s for. He’s the new Fonzie. Maybe he gets a whistle.
Jack and Heyman jaw at Sabu – Sabu points to the sky – Joey makes clear that Sabu has arrived in the World Wrestling Federation.
3. Shelton Benjamin d. Kurt Angle-And yes, this wraps up Kurt.
Benjamin drops the SMoney gimmick going forward, he’s now the Shooter Shelton Benjamin. He comes to the ring in an amateur singlet, Taz sells his technical ability.
Match is all technical, the idea being to put Benjamin over as Angle’s equal on the mat – look how far Benjamin has come, that kind of thing.
Angle is a mixture of pride and frustration and craziness. There’s a ref bump at one point – and that leads Angle to go outside to grab a chair. Angle can’t keep up with Shelton on the mat, Taz notes, so he has to grab a chair – but the chair is taken from his hands by Charlie Haas, who leaps the retaining barrier to grab it away.
The ref is quickly revived – and Benjamin eventually taps Angle.
Our first clue that Kurt is leaving is, as has been the case with some others, the highlight package of his career plays on the Titan Tron immediately after the fall.
We see that babyface Kurt Angle change before our eyes, see his long 2 year run as Champion, a run that only ended when he was forced to relinquish the belt – we see him consolidate all 3 companies’ belts – the most dominant heavyweight champion post Sammartino.
Benjamin extends a hand to Angle…
Kurt spits at him and kicks him low. Angle begins to crossface Benjamin – that brings in Haas. Haas and Benjamin working together again, doubleteam Kurt and put him away.
With Angle down – the locker room, everyone, faces and heels, not involved in the show tonight (even in the Counterfactual everyone gets the big payoff) runs in to beat Kurt down.
Haas and Benjamin exit as the locker room (hey, it’s Mabel!) cycle through their rarely seen finishers on the man perhaps least liked by the locker room – it’s a brutal beating that doesn’t appear as if it’s about to stop.
Michaels, long a rival of Kurt’s – a rival as fellow babyfaces during the Brock angle that transitioned to the year long Clique/Team Angle feud – enters – and begins superkicking the locker room away from Kurt.
Michaels – cleaning house….but the numbers get him too (a Morley spinebuster…an Alabama Bob legdrop…a Masterlock…)
The leader of the locker room, the leader of the WWF…the greatest wrestler in North American history, the legendary Chris Benoit is how he’s referred to by Joey Styles..Benoit germans Morley, Holly, Masters…the rest of the locker room backs away…
Leaving 3 men who have never liked each other in any configuration. Angle, Benoit, Michaels….in the ring. Benoit and Angle have been feuding since the day Benoit arrived; Benoit and Michaels are the leaders of the Harts and the Clique, the opposite poles in WWF history. Angle, Benoit, and Michaels in the ring.
Benoit and Michaels, wordlessly, help Angle to his feet – Angle, for a moment, relies on them to stand – as if he will allow them to help him to the back. All 3 men, for a moment, bound as brothers.
Angle then shrugs both of them off – stumbling away – swearing at them – Angle, on his own power, stumbling, falling, lurching his way from the ring – to the aisle – Angle giving one last…..look…at the crowd…the standing crowd…Angle, perhaps with a tear in his eye….shooting the WWF fans a double middle finger as he disappears behind the curtain…perhaps forever.
There are still no words between Benoit and Michaels – but now an uneasy look between the two men – that’s quickly interrupted by a spear from Edge – who appeared from under the ring as we transition to the next match. Benoit exits, as his relationship with Michaels stops at the water’s edge – and we’re ready for…
4. Edge (w/Lita) d. Shawn MichaelsAs Benjamin knocked off Angle – Edge knocks off Michaels – Joey notes the symmetry, notes the passing of a torch here tonight at XXII – the leader of Team Angle has just been tapped out by Shelton Benjamin, and now these former Clique stablemates go at it – with the Triple Crown winner Michaels losing to Edge.
Other than Michaels being roughed up immediately prior in saving Kurt, the finish is otherwise clean – Edge rips off the eyepatch postmatch and hurls it in celebration in the crowd – Edge celebrating as is he just won the WWF title. Michaels dejected, watching, as Edge slaps his chest and laughs. Edge and Lita make out in mid ring.
Edge doesn’t leave – he and Lita grab headsets to join the announce for the next match.
5. Matt Hardy d. Ric Flair (w/Arn)The theme of torch passing continues.
Edge taunts Matt at every opportunity – Matt enraged, but takes it out on Flair. Flair and Arn cheat to gain advantages – but Matt’s too much, he lays out both Arn and Flair with Twists of Fate – and stares dead at Edge as he gets the pinfall on the Nature Boy.
Matt and Edge stare at each other, Edge ripping off the headset and jawing at Hardy.
Hey, it’s Ricky Steamboat!
Steamboat, gone since the Rumble, walks down the aisle – he’s carrying Hardy’s contract.
Edge climbs in the ring, Flair and Arn have recovered and they are huddled together, warily watching Steamboat, who, of course, they are responsible for knocking out of action.
Steamboat tells Edge and Matt to back away from each other – as the two men seemed headed for blows.
Steamboat thanks the people for coming – said when he wrestled Barry Windham in the very first WM 22 years ago for the WWF Title, he couldn’t have imagined how big it all would have gotten.
If anyone, Steamboat says, knows what it’s like to wrestle in the main event at WM, it’s him, he’s done it 4 times.
“And next year, at WM XXIII in front of 70,000 people at Ford’s Field in Detroit, you two…Edge…and Matt Hardy…will know what it’s like to wrestle in the main event at WM.”
Fans react as they will.
“Next year – the main event at WM XXIII will be Edge vs. Matt Hardy….Hell in a Cell!”
Flair then grabs the contract from Steamboat’s hands to reset the stip – that Matt’s back in the WWF – that he has a contract for more money than he’s ever seen in his life – that he can buy a hundred pieces of ass like Lita…
But, for a year, that contract belongs to Edge.
Flair hands it to Edge, Edge signs.
Flair now smirks that this might be the worst thing that ever happened to Matt Hardy – for a full year, he belongs to Edge – if he touches Edge, even one time, Edge has the right to rip that contract up – and there won’t be Matt Hardy and Edge in a Cell at XXIII – there won’t be Matt Hardy at all again in the WWF.
Matt takes the mic.
Matt: So, I want to understand, Flair. Once I sign this contract…I have to wait a full year before I can beat this little bitch up again?
Flair: You can’t touch him. Not for a year.
Flair offers Matt the pen – Matt takes it – and jabs it in Edge’s head.
Matt jabs the pen into Edge – drawing blood – the people scream – then Matt takes the bloody pen – signs his name – drops the contract onto the fallen Edge and exits.
And the hype begins for WM XXIII – Matt v. Edge, the final battle, Hell in a Cell.
6. Unified Tag titles: DMW (w/Taker) d. Bradshaw/Booker (w/Conway) d. LWO (w/Carlito)
-PAUL and Kane win their first ever belts; an emotional night reaches a crescendo for many fans when the veteran Undertaker, who also has never won a belt in WWF, is handed all 6 tag straps by Kane and PAUL – Kane and PAUL accepting whatever veteran goodwill they’ve earned, and then yielding it all to the Dead Man, clapping for him as he holds the 6 title belts in center ring.
A bad night for the other teams, one that will lead to their breakups over the summer. Bradshaw/Book was always an oil and water tag team; over the summer, their will be an increased focus on Bradshaw’s mistreatment of Anal Cysts (Conway) that will lead to his turning face on Bradshaw (say, breaking the Karl Rove flag over his head),Booker taking Bradshaw out in a Loser Leaves Town on RAW, and then Booker, who has a tag title rematch in his contract, asking Conway to be his partner.
It also will lead to the end of Psychosys’s run in the LWO – he gets pinned here – and just as Carlito forced Juvie from the group – he’ll also force Psycho out.
That will, temporarily, leave Carlito and Crazy as the only members of the LWO – but Carlito will look to remedy that over the summer as the group grows more militant.
7. Worldwide Titles: Fit Finlay (w/Dean) d. Steve Regal
-Just a hard hitting, crazy stiff, hardway color, nothing but good, brutal fun match. This is an all time great Wrestlemania, let me suggest, the combination of the angles and the work – no one’s leaving this show disappointed. Love this match; I’d bet it’s the high point of the evening.
Fit hits the emerald frosion for the pinfall. Fans, presumably, appreciate the crazy hard hitting nature of the matchup, and appreciate the incredible work of the IC Champion Finlay, so pleased – so pleased are the WWF fans with this pairing of Malenko and Finlay that has grabbed ahold of the strap…
And then down the aisle comes Hunter.
Hunter’s got a microphone. Hunter’s not stopping; Hunter’s telling the referee to get back in the ring; Hunter’s telling the timekeeper to ring the bell; Hunter’s saying he’s leaving WM XXII with gold, goddammit – and he’s leaving with Finlay’s.
Hunter yells that he’s in charge, by order of the 51% Solution, ring the bell – the timekeeper doesn’t want to do it – the referee doesn’t want to do it – but the exhausted Finlay finally grabs the mic and yells out that if Mr. McMahon wants to get his ass kicked by a real wrestler, he’ll oblige.
8.Worldwide: HHH-M d. Fit Finlay (special guest referee - Dr. Death Steve Williams)
Hunter picks up his first ever singles belt. Story of the match is Fit is spent, so he fights from underneath, still establishing his dominance – Fit Finlay is going to beat HHH-M.
Lashley hits the ring. Hits the Dominator on Doc. Hits the Dominator on Malenko. Hits the Dominator on Finlay. A second referee (who’s booking this, Russo?) hits the ring – Hunter yells for the count…and he gets the pinfall.
If people wanted to throw things at the ring, that would be okay.
Hunter Hearst Helmsley-McMahon, as he promised at Summer Slam, has come to WM XXII – and he’s leaving with gold. The 51% Solution triumphs.
9.Undisputed Title: Rey Mysterio d. Chris Benoit
- Works on every level.
It’s the first singles match between these two in the Counterfactual (and unless there’s something I’m overlooking, I can’t recall a high profile singles match between then in real life – which seems bizarre, since they’ve spent a lot of their careers in the same place at the same time. They had the tag program on Smackdown, but a high profile singles match….I don’t think so, never on PPV, right? Any singles matches that went longer than 10 minutes?
Considering they’re two of the greatest workers who ever lived, and that’s the idea of Wrestlemania, that at the end of the day, the two best wrestlers meet for the WWF Title, that’s really a surprise to me that they haven’t had one big time matchup.
So, they meet here. We started this at the beginning of the year; Eddy is the largely unspoken connection between the two men – Benoit/Eddy got the full on treatment throughout their WWF run, Eddy/Rey got heated up in the last few months of Eddy’s life. The other connection goes back a year when Steamboat began to say that Rey, who had really never been in the world title picture, was the best wrestler alive and the “ace” of the company. Benoit didn’t complain, he’s Chris Benoit, but one ponders if it rubbed him the wrong way. One wonders how much both men wanted this match to find out. Just to find out.
With Rey on the front lines in this fight against the Solution, Benoit’s moved to join forces with him; but they were outflanked by Hunter and Flair, who decided the way to keep them separate was to pit them against each other.
And it’s worked, their friendship was frayed – and here we are.
Mysterio goes over clean, in what hopefully is all the match you’d want it to be.
Handshake postmatch. Benoit putting Rey over as the Champ.
It’s all good at Wrestlemania XXII…
Oh, but it can’t end there.
‘Cause here comes the Solution.
Flair, the IC Champ Hunter, Arn.
They hit the ring and encircle Benoit and Rey.
Benoit and Rey get an advantage…but then comes Lashley and it’s destruction.
Benoit bears the brunt – he takes a Dominator through a table – which will take him off the canvas for the summer as we work a fractured sternum ----
Michaels runs in – Michaels stands between the Solution and Benoit’s broken body. Flair/Arn/Hunter pulling the frothing Lashley back – the Solution triumphant – Hunter with gold – Benoit lying broken in the ring – Michaels helping Rey to his feet as the show ends.
That’s Wrestlemania XXII.
There’s a long way to go before Summer Slam, which we’ll run in August.
There will be a run up to the show, one, maybe two build up posts; and then however many historical posts, a Counterfactual title history makes a lot of sense, we are able to do.
Hope you enjoyed the show – and we’ll see you again on the road to Summer Slam ’06!