March 29, 2006
Tale of the Tape: Angle/Mysterio/Orton
By BRIAN ELLIOTT - SLAM! Wrestling

Cartoon by Annette Balesteri, our SLAM! Wrestling Editorial Cartoonist

With a nod to the noble sport of boxing, SLAM! Wrestling gives to you a detailed look at the main events for WrestleMania. With Tale of the Tape, we present the stats, the history, the previous Wrestlemania appearances of the headliners.

While the Triple H vs John Cena bout is considered the WrestleMania 22 headliner, there are also interesting connotations on the Smackdown side of the main event, where Rey Mysterio is clearly the underdog in his Triple Threat bout with Kurt Angle and Randy Orton. But will the memory of Eddie Guerrero inspire Mysterio to a victory even more remarkable than his win at the Royal Rumble? Will Angle maintain his hard-hitting dominance of the title? Or will Orton finally live up to expectation and carry the title from Wrestlemania, and beyond?

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

Name: Rey Mysterio (Oscar Gutierrez)
Date of Birth: December 11, 1974
Hometown: San Diego, California
Height: 5'6"
Weight: 165 pounds
Signature manoeuvre: 619 / West Coast Pop

Brief Bio: Literally translated as "King of Mystery", Rey Mysterio (Jr.) made his debut in 1989 at the age of 14. He wrestled predominantly in Mexico (usually for AAA) - often against rival Psicosis - until being part of ECW's "Extreme Lucha Libre" series in 1995. Now known to most American wrestling fans through his stint in Philadelphia, he joined World Championship Wrestling in 1996, and made a remarkable impression, feuding with the likes of long-time friend Eddie Guerrero, Dean Malenko, and even Kevin Nash. After the demise of WCW in 2001, Mysterio was soon signed to the WWE, where he became one of the most popular wrestlers in the company, backed by further excellent matches with Chavo Guerrero Jr. and Kurt Angle. [Full biography]

How he got here: Having won the Royal Rumble in January, from the unenviable position of Number 2 in the draw, it appeared certain that Mysterio would face the World Heavyweight Champion at Wrestlemania - the first time that he would be involved in a heavyweight title match at a pay-per-view event. However, by crudely goading him about the death of Eddie Guerrero, Randy Orton bullied Mysterio into putting that title shot on the line at No Way Out in February. Although he lost the match that night, Mysterio was granted entry into the Smackdown main event by General Manager Theodore Long, thus making the match a Triple Threat affair.


Wrestlemania History: Rey Mysterio's record in Wrestlemanias past is poor. He got his first Wrestlemania win last year, when he defeated Eddie Guerrero in a singles match, with some irony being that he and Guerrero were the reigning WWE Tag Team Champions. In 2004, it took the help of Chavo Guerrero Snr. to eliminate Mysterio from "Cruiserweight Open" title match, in which Chavo Guerrero Jr. was the champion. And in 2003, Matt Hardy retained his Cruiserweight Title over Mysterio, although he did require the use of the ropes to hold the challenger down.

WHAT YOU THINK
We asked SLAM! Wrestling readers who would win.
Randy Orton -- 33% Kurt Angle -- 22% Rey Mysterio -- 45%
Name: Randy Orton
Date of Birth: April 1, 1980
Hometown: St. Louis, Missouri
Height: 6'4"
Weight: 245 pounds
Signature manoeuvre: RKO

Brief Bio: A third generation wrestler, the business is in Randy Orton's blood, his grandfather known as Bob Orton Snr. and his father as Bob Orton Jnr. Randy debuted in 2000 in his home town of St. Louis, and after a stint with Ohio Valley Wrestling (OVW), made his WWE debut in April 2002. Despite a serious shoulder injury early in his WWE career, success was soon to come his way, as he defeated Rob Van Dam at Armageddon 2003 to win the Intercontinental title. Having become a member of the heel group Evolution, which included Triple H, Batista, and Ric Flair, Orton developed the character of "The Legend Killer", defeating well-known wrestlers of the past, such as Mick Foley and Sgt. Slaughter. At Summerslam 2004, Orton won his first World Heavyweight Championship, defeating Chris Benoit. But upon his refusal to forfeit his title to Triple H, leader of Evolution, he was ousted from the group. and lost the title to Triple H at Unforgiven in September 2004. More recently, Orton has been involved in a prolonged feud with The Undertaker, in which he defeated "The Dead Man" both at Summerslam 2005, and at No Mercy 2005, the latter in conjuction with his father. [Full biography]

How he got here: After entering the 2006 Royal Rumble at Number 30, Orton was eliminated from the contest by the winner Rey Mysterio. Irritated at being beaten by the smaller man, Orton callously used the death of Eddie Guerrero to bait Mysterio into putting up the Wrestlemania title shot, as a stipulation for a match at No Way Out. Orton defeated Mysterio, somewhat dubiously, by using the ropes for leverage, which prompted General Manager Theodore Long to reinstate Mysterio to the match, which was re-configured into a Triple Threat match.

Wrestlemania History: Randy Orton has competed in the last two Wrestlemanias. In 2005, he was defeated by The Undertaker, who maintained his undefeated streak at the event. In 2004, Intercontinental Champion Orton teamed with Ric Flair and Batista to defeat Mick Foley and The Rock in a handicap match, which ended with Orton pinning Foley.

Name: Kurt Angle
Date of Birth: December 9, 1968
Hometown: Pittsburg, Pennsylvania
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 220 pounds
Signature manoeuvre: Angle Slam, Anklelock submission

Brief Bio: Having famously won the freestyle wrestling tournament at the 1996 Olympics, Kurt Angle eventually made it to the WWE in 1999 after an extended period of training. His official debut is listed as the 1999 Survivor Series (where he defeated Shawn Stasiak), although he had competed in many dark matches prior to that. As early as February 2000, Angle became a champion, defeating Val Venis for the European Title. That same month, he defeated Chris Jericho for the Intercontinental Championship, and - although he lost the other titles in the meantime - he defeated The Rock for the WWE Championship, his first, at No Mercy in October 2000. Since then, Angle has held the belt on a further three occasions, defeating "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Big Show, Brock Lesnar along the way. Currently the World Heavyweight Champion on Smackdown, Angle has recently turned back challenges from The Undertaker and Mark Henry to defend the title at Wrestlemania. [Full biography]

How he got here: In a surprising turn of events, Kurt Angle won a Smackdown Battle Royal on 10th January 2006 to win the vacant World Heavyweight Title. The belt had been forfeited the previous week by Batista, who had suffered an injury requiring surgery. Angle, who had been a member of the RAW roster, claimed in proceeding weeks that he had signed for Smackdown after allowing his contract on RAW to expire. He successfully defended his title against Mark Henry at the Royal Rumble, and even defeated The Undertaker via pinfall at No Way Out. In recent weeks, in the build-up to Wrestlemania, friction has arisen between Angle and his friend Rey Mysterio, especially since Mysterio cost Angle a Smackdown non-title match with Mark Henry on March 24th.

Wrestlemania History: Angle has had mixed success in his Wrestlemania appearances. Last year, he defeated Shawn Michaels via submission, in what was considered one of the very best matches of 2005. In 2004, Eddie Guerrero got the best of Angle, and in 2003 he succumbed to Brock Lesnar and lost his WWE title. In 2002, Angle defeated Kane, and similarly pinned Chris Benoit in 2001 at Wrestlemania X-7. Despite not having been pinned, Angle lost both his WWF Intercontinental and European titles in a two-fall, triple-threat match with Chris Jericho and Chris Benoit, at Wrestlemania 2000.


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    Brian Elliott is British journalist covering pro wrestling, fight sports, and soccer. He is a regular contributor to www.dvd-reviewer.co.uk, and can be visited online at http://spaces.msn.com/brianelliott.


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