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  • Connor Ewens

Fantasy Booking: Wrestlemania 22

It's BIG TIME. What does that even mean? Wrestlemania 22 is actually the 5th lowest attendance for a Wrestlemania ever, being the last to be held in an arena before WWE moved to doing stadium shows. The main poster for this show is a snapshot from a match between Booker T and John Cena at No Mercy 2004, for no apparent reason, they're not even feuding now! Booker T isn't even in a major feud he is fighting the fucking Boogeyman. Here is the card:

Big Show & Kane (c) vs Carlito & Chris Masters, World Tag Championships

Money in the Bank Ladder

Chris Benoit (c) vs JBL, US Championship

Edge vs Mick Foley, Hardcore match

The Boogeyman vs Booker T & Queen Sharmell

Trish Stratus (c) vs Mickie James, Women's Championship

The Undertaker vs Mark Henry, Casket match

Shawn Michaels vs Vince McMahon, No Holds Barred

Kurt Angle (c) vs Rey Mysterio vs Randy Orton, Heavyweight Championship

Torrie Wilson vs Candice Michelle, Playboy Pillow Fight

John Cena (c) vs Triple H, WWE Championship

The main event was very good, the crowd reactions were especially very fun as the fans turned HHH face and booed Cena. The Heavyweight title match was very good but rushed, plus the storyline was a bit distasteful using Eddie Guerrero's death so vagrantly. The MITB match was not as good as the previous years but RVD's win was a great moment for him. Edge vs Foley was an absolute war that established Edge as a star, similar to what Foley had done for both Orton and Triple H in prior years. In contrast; The Playboy pillow fight was another slap in the face to women's wrestling, the Boogeyman defeating Booker & Sharmell in under 5 minutes was bullshit and the Undertaker's casket match was extremely dull. I think overall the good outweighs the bad, but there are some decisions that could have been altered or made that would boost the overall enjoyment of this show. WWE, this is how its done.

I'd have the show begin with the Money in the Bank match straight away, a fun stipulation to warm up the Chicago crowd. The competitors are different however, I'd have Raw be represented by RVD, Shelton Benjamin and Goldust whilst Smackdown are represented by Bobby Lashley, Mark Henry and the US champion King Booker. The star power is a little lacking but the roster isn't in the greatest shape in the mid-2000s. Benjamin, Booker and RVD would carry the match, with Mr Monday Night still winning the briefcase so that he can win the WWE championship at One Night Stand 2006. It is there where I would have the ECW title first reintroduced when WWE revive the defunct company, RVD emulating the moment infamous Shane Douglas promo in 1994 by dropping the WWE title and calling it meaningless, then unveiling the new ECW championship. A rebooking of WWE ECW is a whole different level of beast.

Next up, MNM defend their WWE tag championships against Matt Hardy and Chavo Guerrero. MNM have been the champions mostly over the past year and have defeated any team that has stepped up to them. In the weeks leading up to Wrestlemania Matt Hardy has been pairing with various partners, mostly legends like Tatanka or Road Warrior Animal, trying and failing to beat MNM. Hardy convinces Teddy Long to give him one more opportunity with a new partner, he chooses Chavo Guerrero. Teddy agrees and books the match. At the show, I'd have Matt & Chavo successfully defeat MNM to win the tag titles, Chavo dedicating his win to his late cousin Eddie because I think it is royally unfair that only Rey Mysterio was the one fighting on behalf of Latino Heat. It'll be a nice moment, I wouldn't have them hold the titles for too long. They can drop them back a couple weeks later to MNM who then drop the titles to Brian Kendrick and Paul London who can begin their awesome year long reign.

We still get our Mick Foley Hardcore match except it is not against Edge, I have some main event plans for him. You can still run the Foley vs Edge feud in the lead up to One Night Stand 2006 because they had a very good match, but I have a suitable replacement opponent. At the 2005 version of One Night Stand, a lot of the WWE guests were vocally opposed to ECW and their hardcore wrestling style. One who was perhaps more vocal than any of them, was JBL. Following that show, I'd have JBL constantly run down ECW as "crappy backyard wrestling" and even have him fight and get into mini feuds with ex WWE guys. This brings back Mick Foley who wants to teach JBL a lesson in hardcore history and defend the memory of ECW. JBL is often criticised for being average at best in the ring, but he is a great brawler. He and Foley could have a killer hardcore match together. JBL doesn't need to be put over so I think a valiant victory for Foley would be a better finish, the heel getting comeuppance for months of being a dick.

Carlito enters Wrestlemania as the IC champion and as a face, he defends against his former friend Chris Masters. These two formed an alliance throughout most of 2005 and I would have Masters help Carlito win the IC championship from Shelton Benjamin. Carlito has his good run as the champion competing with the likes of Edge and Ric Flair, losing the title once or maybe twice but quickly being able to regain it. Heading into the Elimination Chamber at New Year's Revolution 2006, Carlito and Masters work together to almost win the match, but Carlito, who has been getting gradually more cheers from the crowd, rolls up Masters and eliminates him so we can get a fair 1v1 between him and Cena. Cena wins, obviously, but Carlito looks impressive. Masters is upset at what happened, Carlito says that it was supposed to be every man for himself, Masters eventually refuses to forgive him and attacks Carlito. Mr Caribbean Cool ends up turning face in mid-2006 anyways so why not do it now and run a nice mini Wrestlemania feud. Carlito should retain his championship here, a nice 10 minute match to give these upcoming stars some major exposure on the grandest stage.

The only thing on this show that I have kept unchanged is Trish Stratus vs Mickie James for the Women's Championship. There is just no way for this to be improved or topped in any way. This was the best storyline in women's wrestling at the time, it introduced and built up Mickie James perfectly and at a good time too with both Trish and Lita retiring by the end of the year. James debuted in October as a superfan of Trish, helping her from attacks and defending her title and becoming increasingly more obsessed. James got super intense so Trish tried to distance themselves but that did not go down well, Stratus turned down an attempted kiss and James beat her up for it. Yes it is a lesbian angle that was to appease the horny males, but it was executed really well and it actually worked. It also didn't come across as a creepy storyline like a lot of the sexualised women stories did. I would still have Mickie end Trish's year long reign as champion here in what was an incredible match.

Following his loss in the main event of last year's Wrestlemania, it is then where I would start the Legend Killer gimmick for Randy Orton. He targets any and all legends whether they're retired, part time or still active. Jim Duggan, Dusty Rhodes, Jerry Lawler, Jimmy Snuka, Sgt Slaughter, Undertaker. To name but a few. All of this is building up to the return of Hulk Hogan, who comes out as part of a press release for the upcoming Wrestlemania. Randy Orton ambushes Hogan, attacking him and the Hulkster requires medical attention. Orton takes pride in being the one to kill Hulkamania, but Hogan returns and says he is immortal and Hulkamania will never die. He wants match with Orton at Wrestlemania, however neither GM will sign off on it. So, Hogan comes to a contractual agreement for an unsanctioned match at Wrestlemania, where WWE can't be held responsible for what happens to either man. The stipulation protects Hogan from having to actually wrestle so he can just brawl and fight, but he isn't on offence for very long. Orton dominates Hogan, busting him open early and just taking him apart with anything he has left. He drops him with an RKO, then another, then another, then a final one. Orton wraps a chair around the head and neck of Hogan, he mockingly does the Hogan ear taunt before running the ropes and dropping the familiar Hogan leg drop on top of him for the 1-2-3. Orton defeats Hogan at Wrestlemania. As medical staff come out to take Hogan away on a stretcher, Orton grabs a microphone and says "Hulkamania is dead, the age of Orton has begun." This should essentially be Hogan's retirement match. He only wrestled one more WWE match after Wrestlemania anyways and it was against Orton and there is no need for that to happen now. He joins TNA in a couple of years anyways, he can continue his career there but in WWE, this is the end of his in-ring career.

Kurt Angle should lose his Heavyweight Championship to Chris Benoit ahead of Wrestlemania. In the build up to Wrestlemania, Kurt Angle talks about his career so far and everything he has accomplished. An Olympic gold medal, Intercontinental champion, European champion, King of the Ring, WWE champion, Royal Rumble winner, Heavyweight champion, tag team champion. Angle has done everything possible in the company, he really is one of the most decorated athletes in WWE history. There is little left for him to achieve, except maybe one thing. There is one thing left to do that no one in this company has managed to do over the past 15 years. Defeating the Undertaker and Wrestlemania. He calls out Undertaker for the match, Undertaker talks about souls and graves and death and all of the usual spooky wooky stuff. He gladly accepts. Peak Undertaker vs Peak Angle? That is 5 star territory, especially around this time when Undertaker somehow in the latter half of his career decided to just have excellent matches with everyone at Wrestlemania. Angle gives his all, but of course Undertaker defeats the Gold medalist to keep is Wrestlemania streak in tact.

In November of 2005, Eddie Guerrero tragically passed away and rocked the wrestling world with waves of emotion. It was a real shock, of course death is always a sad thing but this was so unexpected by a man universally loved by the fans and the wrestling business. Capitalising on this, WWE decided to give Rey Mysterio a major push having him win the Royal Rumble and eventually the Heavyweight title at Wrestlemania, in a feud where Orton said Eddie was burning in hell. Big Yikes. I actually think pushing Rey in honour of Eddie was a lovely thing to do, I just don't think they needed to make Eddie's death such a main feature of the story. Rey needs to be booked well too, throughout 2005 I would have Rey be getting wins over the mid-card and be on level with the main event scene. Rey still wins the Royal Rumble and he dedicates his win to the Guerrero family. Also on that night, Chris Benoit wins the Heavyweight title from Kurt Angle. The next Smackdown, Rey Mysterio challenges Chris Benoit to the match at Wrestlemania for one reason. He knows that if there is anyone else that loved Eddie as much as he or the Guerrero family did, it is Chris. He respects him a lot, and he wants to face Benoit at Wrestlemania so that the two of them can wrestle a tribute match in honour of their best friend. At Wrestlemania, give Mysterio and Benoit at least 15 minutes to work a great match and tell a story. Both men pay homage to Eddie using some of his signature move-set; the three amigos, Hilo senton, the Gory special, Lasso from El Paso and of course the Frog Splash, which Rey uses to win his first world title. He and Benoit hug and Rey celebrates to huge ovation.

Following Wrestlemania, HHH loses his world title and his a mini feud with Ric Flair before taking some months off to heal some injuries. Upon returning, I would have him be a bit of a tweener not being fully heel or face. HHH tries to get himself into the world title picture but Vince McMahon makes him jump through hoops and ultimately HHH fails to get a title opportunity. Triple H is annoyed, Vince explains himself by saying times have change and younger, newer talent deserve more opportunities than you. This slowly begins the process of a Triple H face turn dealing with his asshole boss. Meanwhile, after his feud with Kurt Angle finishes Shawn Michaels enters a feud with Vince who is in charge of Raw shadowing GM Eric Bischoff who doesn't really have as much power anymore. McMahon undermines Michaels' success in the WWE and credits all of it to himself and his genius. He says many legends before him were far more successful, which leads to HBK facing Hogan at Summerslam when Vince challenges Shawn to prove who is the greatest legend. I love that ridiculous match so much. I would have Vince actually interfere in the finish, distracting HBK enough for him to lose. By the end of 2005, HBK is feuding with Vince and HHH is back and is starting to develop his own issues with the boss. On a Raw in 2006, Vince hosts a mini ceremony to present a lifetime achievement award to someone. He says that he has been at odds with this man throughout the entire time they have known each other, but he wants to offer this award to truly show how much he means to him and this company. He brings out...the Big Show! Boos, all of the boos. Before he can even deliver the speech, Triple H comes out and mocks the whole thing. Shawn Michaels then comes out, he and HHH have a mini stare down before he reluctantly agrees with Triple H on the whole thing. This brings out Kane, Show's tag partner, and the two giants dispose of HHH and HBK. Both men wrestle in singles matches but Vince McMahon has brought in the Spirit Squad to help him keep his "unreliable talent" in check. In a closing TV segment, HBK is being beaten down by all of the Spirit Squad, Kane and Big Show. Triple H runs down with a sledgehammer and clears house. He and Michaels stare each other down again, before HHH throws a crotch chop and leaves. The week after, HBK returns the favour but this time to two men hug in the middle of the ring. HHH grabs a mic and says "you've done it now Vince. You have just forced the most dominant faction in WWE history to reform. DX is back, and if you don't like it we have two words for ya." This sets up a tornado tag match at Wrestlemania between DX and Kane & Big Show. This should be a classic Attitude era style walk and brawl, fighting in and out the ring, through the crowd and around the arena. It's a nostalgia match essentially, DX are back and they get a big win over the heel giants. It is a few months early than when they really get DX together, but I think the original DX's first match together in 10 years makes for a good Wrestlemania moment.

The main event, you may have deduced, is Edge vs John Cena for the WWE Championship. Edge won the Money in the Bank at Wrestlemania 21 and I would have him cash in against Cena exactly like he did in real life. The only difference here is that afterwards, Edge doesn't lose the title so quickly. He doesn't defend the title at the Rumble and he cheats to win a match on Raw retaining his title. John Cena wins a multi-man match to earn another world title match this time taking place at Wrestlemania. Edge doesn't believe Cena has what it takes to defeat him, because he will NEVER let the world title leave his grasp. Well, it is a John Cena main event so you bet he is winning this match. I think Cena has more to gain from winning here than Edge does, Edge is still working his way into super stardom but getting a main event slot with Cena is a great spot for him. Edge puts up a good fight, but Cena puts him away with the FU. Edge can continue his feud with Cena, eventually forming an alliance with Randy Orton to form Rated RKO and feud with Cena and also DX.

A quick recap of the rebooked card:

Money in the Bank Ladder

MNM (c) vs Matt Hardy & Chavo Guerrero, WWE Tag Championships

JBL vs Mick Foley, Hardcore match

Carlito (c) vs Chris Masters, IC Championship

Trish Stratus (c) vs Mickie James, Women's Championship

Randy Orton vs Hulk Hogan, Unsanctioned match

The Undertaker vs Kurt Angle

Chris Benoit (c) vs Rey Mysterio, Heavyweight Championship

D-Generation X vs Big Show & Kane, Tornado Tag

Edge (c) vs John Cena, WWE Championship

So that is how I would do Wrestlemania 22, did you like it? Was the original better? Let me know and come back tomorrow when we talk about Wrestlemania 23, which is the first Wrestlemania I ever remember watching. It should be a good one. Until then, see ya!


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