Because of the WWE Network, fans can now watch every single WrestleMania from start to finish.
So, for 30 days leading up to WrestleMania XXX, we will take an extensive look back at each event from the very first, to the most recent.
Here's the WrestleManias we've covered so far:
Date: April 6, 2006
Venue: Allstate Arena, Rosemont, Ill.
World Tag Team Championship – Big Show & Kane def. Carlito & Chris Masters
Money in the Bank Ladder Match – Rob Van Dam def. Ric Flair, Finlay, Matt Hardy & Bobby Lashley
United States Championship – John Bradshaw Layfield w/Jillian Hall def. Chris Benoit
Hardcore Match – Edge w/Lita def. Mick Foley
Handicap Match – The Boogeyman def. Booker T & Sharmell
Women’s Championship – Mickie James def. Trish Stratus
Casket Match – The Undertaker def. Mark Henry (Undertaker: 14-0)
No Holds Barred Match – Shawn Michaels def. Vince McMahon
World Heavyweight Championship – Rey Mysterio def. Randy Orton & Kurt Angle
Playboy Pillow Fight – Torrie Wilson def. Candice Michelle
WWE Championship – John Cena def. Triple H
- People should get a good look at WrestleMania 22, as it is the last WrestleMania to date to take place in an arena and not a stadium. With the way WWE promotes WrestleMania, it may continue to be in stadiums for a long time. WWE knows that it can sell upwards of 60,000 tickets months before the event. It also knows that it is an economy driver for host cities, which is why cities must now bid on hosting the event. Because of all of those things, WrestleMania 22 will be the last time you’ll see less than 20,000 people in attendance.
- The show itself delivered with five matches that I would categorize as at least good and some were even great, in my opinion. That’s a lot more matches than you would see on a lot of WrestleManias throughout its history.
- The main event on this show was John Cena defending his WWE Championship against Triple H. The biggest story coming out of the match wasn’t the fact that Cena stood tall at the end of WrestleMania for the second year in a row, it was that the fans had begun to turn on him. The mixed reaction that Cena generates on a nightly basis today was still very new at this time, especially because Cena was positioned as the top babyface and the fans actually cheered him once upon a time. For whatever reason, the fans soured on him to the point that Triple H, a heel for the better part of three consecutive years to that point, became a de-facto face during their match. It’s almost crazy to think of the hatred hardcore fans have of Triple H, but yet a lot of them were cheering him like crazy on that night. Cena, like he usually does, tuned out the naysayers and still put on a very good match with Triple H. The finish may not have been to Chicago’s liking, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the match. Plus, the right man won. As Triple H himself says, it was what was best for business.
- The World Heavyweight Championship match was a triple threat that was put together relatively late in the process for two reasons. The first reason was the death of Eddie Guerrero, who was scheduled to win the World title not long after he died. Guerrero’s death opened the door for the Rey Mysterio to be given the title and complete he heartwarming story of Guerrero’s friend winning in his memory. Another circumstance that brought about the triple threat was the injury to Batista. Batista tore his triceps while he was the World champion and was out of action until July of 2006. Because of this, Batista missed WrestleMania and forfeited the title, which was won by Kurt Angle in January of 2006. The match itself was short for a World Heavyweight Championship match, but it was effective — Mysterio completed the feel-good story by pinning Randy Orton and winning the title. Despite weighing less than 200 pounds, Mysterio went on to become a multi-time World Heavyweight Champion. However, looking back at this match makes me yearn for the days of Angle in the WWE. Before he left WWE, Angle was dubbed the “Wrestling Machine” and he fit the bill and then some. I loved the comedic side to Angle as much as anyone, but there’s something Angle with the low cut boots, the mouthpiece and the black singlet that just screamed monster. He wasn’t monster in the sense of a big scary person. He was a monster in the sense that this person could legitimately tear most people a part limb from limb. This turned out to be Angle’s final WrestleMania appearance before he left for TNA Wrestling.
- The undercard for this show featured two fantastic hardcore matches. The first one on the show was Mick Foley versus Edge, which was built around the fact the Foley had never attained a “WrestleMania moment.” Well, he got one in this match, as Edge speared him through a flaming table to end the match. The match was brutal, bloody, gory and tremendous. After the match, Edge looked like he had been struck by lightning and had seen a ghost at the same time. And he was the winner. By the way, this was Foley’s final WrestleMania match. The other great hardcore match was between Shawn Michael and Vince McMahon. If there’s proof that Michaels can pull at least a decent match out of almost anybody, this match was it. Michaes versus McMahon on paper doesn’t look like a whole lot. In one corner, you had one of the greatest in-ring performers of all time. In the other, you had a man that was well into his 60s that was never a trained professional wrestler, but odd pairing pulled off a very memorable match. Although most of the match Michaels beating the crap out of McMahon, it was done in some very spectacular fashion. The match did feature the Spirit Squad, which included Nicky, who is better known as Dolph Ziggler. As good as this match was, what followed between these two at Backlash was downright horrible. You would have though divine intervention could have made a tag team match that involved God good, but that did not happen. This match also served as the beginning of the reformation of D-Generation X.
- After watching the first 22 WrestleManias, I’ve made one keen observation: women’s wrestling today pales in comparison to what it used to be. Case in point was Trish Stratus versus Mickie James at WrestleMania 22. Not only was this a good match in the ring, the story leading up to it was great as well. There aren’t a whole lot of angles that involves only the women that are interesting nor intriguing nowadays. Even worse, the matches don’t nearly deliver. Stratus and James did just that. Both parties played their roles extremely well, especially James, as she played her role as a psychotic stalker so well that she drew cheers from the fans in Chicago purely out of respect for her work. On top of all of that, James beat Stratus clean in the middle of the ring and made herself into a star in the process.
- What failed to live up expectations was the Undertaker’s casket match against Mark Henry. A year after tearing the house down with Orton, The Undertaker was tasked with the world’s strongest man. Although both men can get it done in the ring, for whatever reason they didn’t quite click during the match.
- As usual, we have to run through the first and lasts of this event. Carlito, Chris Masters, Finlay, Bobby Lashley, Candice Michelle, Mickie James and The Boogeyman all took part in their first WrestleMania match. This was Carlito’s second appearance on the show, as he appeared in the Piper’s Pit segment at WrestleMania 21. This was Matt Hardy's first WrestleMania appearance in three years. This was also the WrestleMania debut of CM Punk. However, he was not attempting to be the best in the world on this night. CM Punk had not appeared on WWE television yet and was merely one of the gangsters that rode in on the car during Cena’s entrance. This was the first and only appearance for the Spirit Squad as a team.