Sunday, April 23, 2006

Wrestlemania 22

Well, I've had a suprising number of people asking me why I haven't written anything here about my experience at Wrestlemania 22. Which I appreciate, because that means that people understand what it meant to me to get to go. The only reason I haven't written sooner is just because I've been so damned busy with work, and training for this competition.

But by popular demand... here it is...

After 1 year of counting down the days literally to the big day, changing the number of days left on my dry erase board everyday, I finally came down to the day of the show, and changed it for the last time...

I got to the place and it was exciting to see all the WWE trucks everywhere. They had tents set up with various displays of wrestling memorabilia from over the years. Obviously there were long lines of cars just trying to get into the place, and then all the lines to stand in once you got in.

So I finally get inside, and I was sitting right next to the Titantron, which for those who don't know, is the big screen that's usually front and center over the entrance ramp the wrestlers come down. So while I couldn't see the big screen, I was front row in the balcony looking over the competitors as they'd come down to the ring, which I also had a great view of. They had a few warm up matches before Wrestlemania went on the air, and the crowd was all pumped up. One thing I won't forget was right before the show went on the air, the entire crowd broke into a rawkus Eddie Guerrero chant, in memory of the late wrestler. Completely unprovoked, everyone just started chanting his name, and it just thundered off the walls of that place, and then the lights went down as the chants continued and then the fireworks hit, and Wrestlemania was underway.

The crowd was great. Every time I've gone to see the WWE live, you can always tell a difference with a Chicago crowd over most crowds in other cities. Chicago is always very loud, and vocal. Which is great. It really adds electricity to the whole event, and the wrestlers feed off of that amped up crowd, and then it translates into better matches. I wish more cities could understand that. By getting into it, and becoming a part of the show, you're creating a better show for yourself. I don't know if there's just more hardcore wrestling fans in Chicago or what. Who knows what determines an entire crowd's habits.

The show started with a music video montage of moments from past Wrestlemanias... it was at that moment that reality set in and I was starting to finally realize that I had made it.. I was at Wrestlefuckingmania... I honestly felt honored to be there.

The 6 man "Money In The Bank" Ladder Match was great.

The "Money In The Bank" match involves a briefcase suspended 20 feet over the center of the ring. Inside of it is a contract for a title shot at the WWE Championship which can be redeemed at any time for up to 1 year. Ladders are strewn everywhere to use to get up to the briefcase, as well as to be used as weapons.

I was excited going into this match, as one of my favorite wrestlers was in it, "The Whole Dam Show"-"Mr. Monday Night"... Rob Van Dam. RVD in a ladder match at Wrestlemania was all I needed to hear to know this was going to be fucking awesome. The other wrestlers in the match far exceeded my expectations of them. It was an all around great match.

"The Nature Boy" Ric Flair was in it and took a massive suplex from Matt Hardy off the top of a ladder, and I thought his 57 year old ass was dead. It THUNDERED through the arena when that fucking guy hit the mat. Flair was taken out of the arena by medics, as he was screaming in pain. The whole place chanted his name as he was taken away. Less than 5 minutes later he limped on his own back out to the ring to finish the match... 57 years old... unreal.

Shelton Benjamin did a great move... running across the ring, and up a ladder that was leaning on the ring ropes, and diving into a group of his opponents. Very cool.

As predicted, RVD won, and became "Mr. Money In The Bank". RVD earned himself a gauranteed title shot whenever he wants within the next year, and I hope when he does go for it that he finally fucking wins. RVD has yet to ever be the World Heavyweight Champion, and I think it will be great when the day finally comes.

The Hardcore match between Edge and Mick Foley also far exceeded my expectations. I hate Edge. I was never a huge fan of his. Then last year he stole the girlfriend of his real life best friend, and fellow WWE Superstar Matt Hardy. The girl who is also a WWE competitor named Lita, was once my absolute favorite women's wrestler... until she turned her back on her boyfriend. This was not part of a storyline, this was all very real, and a situation that hit a little too close to home for me. So I turned my back on her, and my dislike for Edge grew into hatred.

Now, all that being said. There is no denying the ability Edge has to put on a great match. I hate doing it, but I have to give him credit where it is due. His match with Foley at Mania this year was fucking great. There was barbed wire, thumbtacks, and burning tables... They beat the shit out of each other. In the end Edge won, but it was a great match, and something to see in person.

The "Casket Match" between The Undertaker and legitimately the world's strongest man Mark Henry... pretty good.

Nothing that knocked my socks off, but a solid match nonetheless. The Undertaker's 14-0 undefeated streak at Wrestlemania was at stake, against the 400lb powerhouse that is Mark Henry.

For those who don't know a casket match is a match unique to The Undertaker. The only way to win the match is to beat your opponent down to the point that you can roll their lifeless body into the casket sitting at the edge of the ring and close the lid.

An extra large casket had to be made for the huge Mark Henry, and in the end The Undertaker's undefeated streak was untouched as was victorious.

If there was one match I could count on being great going into Mania this year it was the "No Holds Barred" match between "The Heartbreak Kid" Shawn Michaels, and The WWE Chairman Vincent Kennedy McMahon. Vince McMahon has never had a bad match that I've seen. They are always bloody, intense, and usually hysterical on top of everything else.

Vince's son Shane was ringside attempting to give his Father an unfair advantage. Michaels subdued him, and handcuffed him to the ring ropes to keep him out of the match. But not before burying his face into his Father's bare asscheeks.

The match was finished off with a beaten down Vince McMahon laying on a table, and Shawn Michaels leaping off of a 20 ft. ladder driving an elbow right through Vince and the table. HBK got the 123 and the match was over. It was everything I hoped it would be and more.
There are two major championships in the WWE that constitute the 2 main events at Mania. Monday Night RAW's champ carries the WWE Championship. Friday Night Smackdown's champ carries the World Heavyweight Championship... these two major titles were up for grabs in the 2 main events this year.

First up... the WWE Championship.

"The Game"... "The King Of Kings".... "The Monarch Of The Mat"... "The Cerebral Assasin"... he has many monachers, but most know him as Triple H. And he once again found himself in the main event at Wrestlemania. This time as the challenger attempting to take the title off of the current champ "The Doctor Of Thugonomics" John Cena.

This was more than any other match the best example of how intense the Chicago crowd was. In spite of being the champ, and the good guy in the match... the fans had grown to resent Cena for becoming such a goody goody, and he had been catching boos for months. HHH went into the match as the crowd favorite, and the crowd made sure these two competitors knew who they were pulling for. Every blow that Cena would land on HHH would meet with boos from the fans, while every blow from HHH met with upoars of cheers from the crowd. Back and forth, boos and cheers the whole match. The crowd was absolutely electric.

Unfortunately HHH was unable to defeat Cena for the title, and tapped out at the end of the match. The crowd was not happy.

Next up... The World Heavyweight Championship.

The Triple Threat match for the World Heavyweight Championship involved the champ, and Olympic Gold Medalist Kurt Angle vs. "The Legend Killer" Randy Orton vs. Rey Mysterio.

Rey had dedicated this match to his best friend, the late great Eddie Guererro... so naturally he had the crowd on his side. This was a great match. Very fast paced. The crowd was less split on this one. Mysterio was clearly the favorite, although admittedly Angle did have many supporters as well.

In the end it Mysterio who pinned Orton to win for the first time in his career The World Heavyweight Championship. At 5 foot 4, and 175lbs this made him the smalled World Heavyweight Champion in wrestling history.

As he celebrated his victory, Eddie Guererro's widow Vickie Guererro, and his Nephew Chavo Guererro came out to celebrate his victory with him.

Being apart of such an incredible Wrestlemania was an honor, and something I'll never forget. It was unreal, and I still can't believe I was there.

Next year Wrestlemania 23 emminates from Detroit... if I can get tickets... the countdown will begin once again.

I love wrestling... It truly is one of my favorite things in this world, and I would do anything to be apart of it someday.

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