1) Carlito/ Chris Masters v. Big Show/Kane- 3
This was just a showcase of big man moves, as the heel offense basically got squashed,but they sold everything with zeal and pain. Can't say the same for Show; he hit his face on the exposed metal buckle and sold it with as much expression as if he had bought the wrong toothpaste. This statement should tell you all you need to know: Carlito & Masters both, on their 2nd offensive move each, hit their fins.
2) Money in the Bank Match featuring Matt Hardy, Finlay, Shelton Benjamin, Rob Van Dam, Bobby Lashley & Ric Flair - 5
This has highlights and lowlights, Finlay is selling everything just like his usual badass self, such as Matt's exploding punches and Flair's classic chops. Lashley seems the odd choice here, he has no clue how to set up a high spot and after being hit in the back with a Van Daminator, he falls off several seconds later off to the side, taming the laws of physics to suit his own needs. This has your usual array of crazy spots, namely by Shelton, Matt & RVD but Flair takes one of the most damndest superplexes you'll ever see, as JR points out "he's 57 years old!" on the way down; but dumbly they have a ref do that X sign towards the back, even though Flair's only gone for 3 minutes. Wasn't too much content in this one but a few solid moments that made this enjoyable.
3) JBL v. Chris Benoit - 5
You know a match is going to be good when the first move is an open hand bear paw to the face. Here's a shocking statement: Benoit worked really hard in this one! He sold huge on all of JBL's big boots and other stuff, also tried the Crossface numerous times and would really make it a struggle, it was like a one man show, like a puppeteer. Bradshaw would give this dumbfounded look every time Benoit made contact with a chop like he got shot with a "Stupid" ray invented by Dr. Horrible. Even on the Germans, the big lummox just fell backwards, looking even more pussy than Michael Cole as of late on NXT. Awesome swan dive and I genuinely miss seeing that weekly. Finish was creative, but like any good marriage, it takes two to make this work and the cowboy just wasn't bringing it.
4) Mick Foley v. Edge (Hardcore Match)- 6
I bumped this above the last match only because I think this will be the last great Foley performance ever, but was very similar in context as Edge was kind of on the backburner the whole match. Guy put way more into his maniacal facials than his selling at all, he really didn't even take any bumps till the last few minutes and the delayed arm blading was a joke. Foley though was on fire, taking everything to the side of the head and breaking out his nasty knees first shot into the stairs. Even him selling punches looked good; his punches didn't, but we can't ask for miracles. Loved Lita (of all people) taking a crazy flip over the top rope in the middle somewhere. The fire bump, visually worked, but the setup was contrived and I hated how Edge walked away selling the blood he got only in the minute or so before the match finished when so many other dudes do crazier stuff with their heads gaping the whole time; hell watch a Flair match from the 80's on to see how to strut that open forehead properly.
5) Boogeyman v. Booker T/ Sharmell- 0
To say this was a waste of Book's talents is a punchline. Boogey couldn't get off a lick of offense that looked decent and their miscommunication setting up the axe kick was remiscent of negotiations between George Bush Jr and any foreign diplomat.
6) Trish Stratus v. Mickie James- 6
One of the only women's matches in WWE history I can think of getting more than 10 minutes and able to tell a genuinely cohesive story. Trish was hurt early on by kicking the ringpost inadvertantly and played the face in peril well, James was a nutso and flaunted it. Her legwork was succint and didn't lose the crowd at all. Loved the Macho Man spot where she used the leg over the top on Trish. The ending was marred by some kind of editing trick as it didn't flow seemlessly but was as creative as any thing I"ve seen on a recent Mania with the knee kick that dropped Trish face first on Mickie's other knee and the Vag Grab. Good stuff
7) Undertaker v. Mark Henry (Casket Match)- 3
Will be one of the lesser Taker matches in his legacy. Taker took one big clothesline early on, I mean he sold the shit out of this thing and I think he was done after that. Henry just plodded along, they struggled with the casket spots for sure. Give the big man credit for taking that power bomb out of the corner though, that was by far the biggest spot of the match. Taker's giant plancha is quite a sight, but he tacked it on right before he went to the finish here, making it competely unnecessary to the match.
8) Shawn Michaels v. Vince McMahon (No Holds Barred) - 3
The only redeeming quality of this match was seeing a sickly tanned Vince take a beating from every weapon he's made midcarders and jobbers use for years in their Hardcore division. I, like most fans, tired of the Spirit Squad after their 1st or 2nd appearance and their inclusion here, more than anything on this show so far, felt like a rehearsed performance with all 5 being taken down with a plastic bullhorn then Kenny being sent over the top rope like he just recreationally dove from a plane. The ending spot was fine but it took over 7 minutes to set up; but someone should send a tape of Vince getting his skull cracked with a chair to the Sports Legacy Institute so Nowinski can sit back and examine that shit with some Tositos and Queso cheese to get to the crux of why Vince is such fucked up scumbag.
9) Kurt Angle v. Randy Orton v. Rey Mysterio- 4
This felt like a fast food meal, quick, eager to enjoy it, but ultimately unsatisfying. This was supposed to be Rey's big moment, his career highlight (nonetheless bastardized from Eddie Guerrero's memory) but it was delivered as a rushed Raw main event. Even ROH wouldn't have taken so much valuable time out of this as a midcard attraction. Orton provided some unique sells, as always, especially really trying to put over his knee and ankle hurt from the 20 second anklelock he endured. Rey was off and on, like a faulty lightswitch and this seemed to be the beginning of Angle's shortcut style of highspots only with no build. Finish was nice homage to Rey's WCW days though.
10) Torrie Wilson v. Candice Michelle (Playboy Pillow Fight)- 1
I can't believe this had more coherent spots than the Booker match earlier on. Not to mention the busty silicone products on display, but it was exactly what you would imagine at this point on the show.
11) John Cena v. HHH - 8
Say what you will about either main, but this was a MAIN EVENT. Chicago was one of the hottest crowds for a main event ever here. HHH showed a lot of poise and experience playing the crowd's love-hate for Cena with fervor and malice. This match proved one thing though: As Jim Ross repeated over and over again, this is old school wrestling. There were no chair shots, no tables, no backcrackers, no 18 finishers in a row to keep the fickle crowd engaged, just a lot of punches, kicks, hard clotheslines, and one hell of a swinging neckbreaker by Trips that was just awesome. The Pacific Ocean would have a hard time keeping with the ebbs and flows of this match, granted the crowd's rabidness played a major role in well this came off, I'd venture that for the size of the crowd (a modest 17,000) comparably this was one of the greatest crowds ever for a Mania Main. Between HHH's snarls and Cena's disbelief the emotion was so keyed into what each guy was doing physically this match just moved at a perfect pace and I loved the way it was wrapped up with the fans pretty much bowing down to the finish as they should have. Bravo gents.