20. Mick Foley vs. Edge – Wrestlemania 22
This match is definitely one of the best brawls in the last couple of years. The match was about two things – giving Mick his “Wrestlemania Moment” and solidifying Edge as a top star. The twists and turns in this match were absorbing and extremely creative (i.e. Foley concealing barbwire under his flannel). Lita of all people took the bump of the match when Foley hit Edge with the Cactus Clothesline with her on his back. It was great. Also great was the finish, which will go down as one of THE classic Wrestlemania moments.
You can see the awesome finish at the 2:25 mark.
When you think of Wrestlemania X-8 in five years, you will remember one match, and only one match. You’ll be surprised to see that Edge had a match with Booker T which started because Edge swiped a commercial deal that Booker T thought he should’ve received. You’ll forget that there was Diamond Dallas Page’s one and only Wrestlemania match. You might even forget that Chris Jericho and Triple H were in the main event.
The match you will remember however is the one that pitted Hollywood Hulk Hogan vs. The Rock. Hogan had just come back to the WWF with his NWO cronies Scott Hall and Kevin Nash. McMahon brought them in to come shake up the foundation of the WWF. He wanted them to “poison” his own creation as he was afraid that Ric Flair was ruining his promotion. That was the storyline. The real story was that McMahon, as always, wanted to bring in some surprises right before Wrestlemania, to make Mania the most talked about show of the year. However, what he should’ve known was that the NWO was so “five years ago” and that it wouldn’t work today unless it was brought back as a new idea. Hogan was accepted back by the fans, but Nash and Hall weren’t seen as anything more than just regular guys. Hogan is a great manipulator and he positioned himself with a match against The Rock, who already had a great buzz on him as he was finishing up The Scorpion King. The initial build-up was excellent. Rock challenged Hogan and the audience was split on who they were cheering for. What they did afterward was hogwash and unbelievable, but let’s just forget that ever happened.
I can start this off by stating that this is the single greatest WWE card from top to bottom that I have ever witnessed. Although there were a few rocky match-ups and it took a while for the Houston crowd to get into, this is the greatest of all the Wrestlemanias.
One thing that helps this show standout that might get overlooked is the announcing. Paul Heyman took Jerry Lawler’s place as Lawler had quit the company when his wife, Stacy Carter (The Kat) was fired. Carter soon left Lawler. Talk about being ungrateful. Anyway, Heyman is outstanding in building up feuds and making matches seem important, and not yelling “puppies” every 5 minutes. And Jim Ross is at his usual high standard.
The marquee match-up pitted the People’s Champ, The Rock against Stone Cold Steve Austin. It was a babyface vs. babyface match-up, however in Austin’s home state, Rock was going to be turned heel by the crowd. The show was held at the old Astrodome in Houston and Austin was over like nobody’s business.
It was a good time for WWE. They were winning the Monday Night Wars. The product was in the midst of its largest pop culture influence since the mid 80s. Wrestlemania 2000 was supposed to be huge. It was going to be an event of epic propotions. They scheduled “Wrestlemania All Day Long” on PPV which was a look back at the first 15 Wrestlemanias. And then someone made a left turn at Albuquerque.
Stone Cold Steve Austin was out with a neck injury. It was only a year before when Austin and the Rock looked like the future of the company. It was only two years before when Austin took the torch from Shawn Michaels and looked destined to become the biggest star of all time. And now, he was hurt, missing the biggest show of the year.
Early in 2000, Mankind and Triple H were tearing up arenas and making for some intriguing TV. Late in 1999, Triple H beat the Big Show for the championship and was without a contender. Mick Foley, fresh off his success of putting out the most successful wrestling autobiography in history, decided that he had one last run in him. Triple H started making fun of Foley’s success as an author, and played your basic a-hole heel perfectly. When Foley, as Mankind, decided that he’d had enough, he simply changed t-shirts and transformed into Cactus Jack. Triple H sold it as if he’d seen a ghost. Cactus Jack was back. He had two great matches with Triple H and at No Way Out, retired after losing a Hell In A Cell match.