by Frank Lucci
Welcome to Spaceman Frank’s Top 10 WrestleMania moments! Rather than just create another generic Top 10 list, I will be discussing the greatest moments from WWE’s biggest show of the year and explaining why I consider them the cream of the crop. This is based on in-ring quality, storyline quality, meta quality, as well as my own unique bias. Be prepared to read about triumph, heartbreak, and above all else, some truly unique moments in this unique form of entertainment.
The Moment: Edge Spears Mick Foley through a Flaming Table, WrestleMania XXII
Mick Foley in all his various forms is one of my favorite wrestlers of all time. Comparing his work to many greats before and during his peak reveals just how committed he was and how much he suffered for the craft. In the Spaceman’s mind, WWE and much of wrestling is pretty boring to watch until Mankind started throwing himself around violently and adding character depth that just was not in wrestling beforehand. Despite the cardinal sin of looking like a normal person, he managed to reach dizzying heights in the hottest period in WWE history. When he retired from full-time wrestling, Foley left a mark on the industry that few, if any can compete with.
Fast forward to 2006 and Foley was looking for something to cap off his stellar career that had not been completely put in the books (think of it as when older quarterbacks in the NFL get desperate to win the Super Bowl in an attempt to ensure their spot in the Hall of Fame). Thus, Foley was looking for one WrestleMania moment to put him over the edge in terms of being one of the greatest wrestlers of all time. While these days watching him move about can be a depressing sight, this was before the various ailments he has suffered from really caught up to him. It also helps that Foley had a fairly good reputation as somebody who could put over new, emerging talent.
Edge is one of those performers who tends to divide people. Depending on who you ask, he is either one of the most overrated wrestlers of all time (detractors claim he won far too numerous world championships in a bad time for the industry) or one of the most underrated (supporters suggest he earned his stripes and was one of the most consistent performers they had for a very long time). I tend to lean towards the latter, but during this time Edge was a wrestler in flux. He was the first person to use the Money in the Bank briefcase to win a world title, but lost it in three weeks. He and Lita sill earned massive heat from the fans for the infamous love triangle with Matt Hardy, but Edge needed to be more than the guy with the fluky title win and the harlot with outfits that would not fly today. Edge needed a big showing at WrestleMania, and this was a match made in heaven.
This being Foley, St. Mick couldn’t just have a regular five star match at the Show of Shows. Instead, he was going to earn it his way with plenty of blood and guts. Foley has said that his hardcore match with Randy Orton is his favorite of all time, and this follows the same story. Despite the Live Sex Celebration getting record ratings, Edge was peeved that Foley was the special referee during his rematch for the championship, so here we are. It’s not the best story, but it works. The video package shows Edge calling Foley a muppet and bashing his head in with chairs, while Mick…cuts himself open, beats up a women, and look like a muppet. Joey Styles joins the commentary booth for this match, because something something ECW! ECW!
The reasoning for this match may be flimsy on the kayfabe side and this match is low stakes in the grand scheme of things, but the meta story of Mick going for his ‘Mania moment and Edge trying to gain traction more than makes up for it. The match itself puts this feud over the top, as we see some spectacular violence that simply will not be seen again anytime soon in WWE. The only thing I would change during the match is the commentary, as Styles makes some uncomfortable references to concussions and there is a general slut shaming vibe from all the commentators.
Once the match starts things get intense quick. One of the images I mentioned earlier that we will never see again is Foley actually jogging, and he is pretty light on his feet despite looking somehow older than he does now in 2017. Some warm up spots (a.k.a. cooking sheets and road signs) leads to the first big spot that is etched in my mind. Edge goes full Goldberg and hits a spear three minutes in, but rolls away in pain as Foley reveals the barbed wire wrapped around him. Edge legitimately squirms around the ring bleeding from the arm as Foley goes from muppet to deranged.
If you think Foley was going to let the younger wrestler take all the punishment you’d be wrong. Foley takes a hip toss into the stairs followed by colliding with them at full speed right at the knee in spots that are much more brutal than the previous hits with road signs. These little bumps are made much worse knowing Foley’s knees and hip were the downfall for him ever being able to move like a healthy human again and really make you appreciate how much Foley gave to wrestling. Almost every move of this match looks like it kills one or both of the wrestlers, even the spots we’ve seen a million times before.
This match is also rife with plant and payoff. The infamous table that leads to the end of the match is out a quarter of the way in, and the bottle of “lighter fluid” (I strongly believe Edge was dousing himself in water for the finale) follows soon after. Seeing this type of logic is welcome in matches that oftentimes just devolve into madness that seems to have no rhyme or reason. Every weapon and spot serves a purpose and it is a credit to the people involved that they planned their match out to this degree.
The carnage continues as we see many spots that would end a match in PG WWE. Piledrivers, barbed wire bat shots to the head and chest, thumbtacks, barbed wire socks to Edge and Lita. By this point, Foley ends up looking like Rambo. His face half covered in blood with a distant look in his eye as Edge looks terrified while his body is subjected to gruesome torture. Although I can see why WWE has avoided these types of matches since going PG, sometimes I wish they would allow other people (besides Brock Lesnar) to get busted open every once in awhile.
We get to the end of the match, with both Mick and Lita putting copious amounts of actual lighter fluid (you can see the second bottle of what I assume was water on the steps) on the table. Foley gets the WrestleMania exclamation point on his career by taking the spear into the flaming table that will live on in ‘Mania montages until the end of time. Edge walks away as the winner looking like the heroine at the end of Hush. This match feels much shorter than the near fifteen minutes it runs due to the quick pace and cornucopia of brutal spots. Easily the best hardcore match in Wrestlemania history and one that served its purpose not only for entertainment, but meta purposes as well. For putting on a true spectacle on a show made to showcase the best of the best, this moment gets number eight on my countdown.