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WWE WrestleMania XXIII
April 1, 2007
Detroit, Michigan

These WrestleMania reviews were originally written in 2012 and are being re-published on our new site.

The 23rd WrestleMania returned to the city where the famous third WrestleMania took place. The venue wasn’t the Silverdome, but it was a new stadium known as Ford Field. The main event featured John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels for the WWE Title. However, to a lot of people the key selling point of the show was the Battle of the Billionaires.

In previous years, the celebrity involvement at WrestleMania had decreased. It was about the wrestlers more than the celebrities. Then 2007 came around, Donald Trump had a hit TV show called The Apprentice and he had a good relationship with Vince McMahon dating back to WrestleManias 4 and 5 when Trump hosted those events in Atlantic City. The “Battle of the Billionaires” was arguably the biggest match at WrestleMania 23, which we’ll get to later in this review.

On the wrestling side of things, John Cena and Batista continued their runs as the top guys with Cena dominating the Raw brand while Batista was the focus of Smackdown. Their challengers at this event were Michaels & The Undertaker, both of whom were considered legends by this point in their glorious careers. While the Raw & Smackdown brands remained, the brand extension had also extended to ECW. Technically speaking there were three brands at this WrestleMania, which made it historic. Either that or it made you realize why the ECW brand didn’t last too long.

There is something else to add. Ric Flair wrestled in the pre-show. What the hell? If Ric Flair is active, as he was here, he should be on the main show. Why? Because he’s Ric WOO BY GOD Flair. I remember that really pissed me off about this show.

This event was about two hours away from where I live. I wasn’t that into the product in 2007, so I chose to stay home for it. I remember watching it with a group of friends. I regretted not going to it live, though. From July 2007 to December 2007 I barely watched the product. I did keep up with it, but I missed more WWE during those six months than I ever have in my life. That’s what happens when one of your favorites commits murder, I guess. I also barely wrote in 2007. Maybe five or six times that whole year. Once the 2008 Rumble happened I was back in the swing of things, but I’ll always remember the year 2007 as the one when I took a bit of a break from this crazy business known as pro wrestling.

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A video package started it off as it always does. Voiceover guy: “There is one event that defines sports entertainment.” Cue Vince: “Welcome to WrestleMania!” Then we get the awesome video package highlighting some of the key moments from WrestleManias in the past. “Now twenty years later, WrestleMania returns to Detroit. All Grown Up.” I liked the “All Grown Up” tag line. It was their way of saying that they have evolved from the beginnings of WrestleMania.

A voiceover clip of Vince McMahon from WM3 threw it to Aretha Franklin to sing “America The Beautiful” just as she did at WM3 in Detroit.

There was another video package with the current wrestlers talking about how they dreamed about performing at WrestleMania. I liked the videos of the little kids imitating the wrestlers doing their signature poses as the superstars talked over the video.

Back to the building, the pryo went off and we were introduced to the announce teams. It was Jim Ross & Jerry Lawler from Raw, Michael Cole & JBL from Smackdown and Joey Style & Tazz from ECW.

The Money in the Bank Ladder Match was up first. The competitors were Jeff Hardy (Raw), who was making his first WrestleMania appearance in five years, King Booker with Sharmell (Smackdown), Finlay (Smackdown), CM Punk (ECW), Ken Kennedy (Smackdown), Matt Hardy (Smackdown), Randy Orton (Raw) and Edge (Raw). Edge won it two years before and they pointed out that he was 5-0 at WrestleMania. All six announcers called the match.

Money in the Bank Ladder Match: Jeff Hardy vs. King Booker vs. Finlay vs. CM Punk vs. Ken Kennedy vs. Matt Hardy vs. Randy Orton vs. Edge
Everybody was brawling on the floor, so Finlay of all people dove off the top rope onto everybody on the floor. Edge and Matt paired off, then Orton and Finlay paired off. Then Jeff & Kennedy paired off. Booker pulled out a step ladder under the ring. Punk used it as a weapon on everybody. Edge hit Punk with a step ladder shot to the head and Punk’s head was cut probably legit. In the ring, Booker hit a spinebuster on four of the guys and then he did a Spinarooni to a big pop even though he’s a heel. The Hardy brothers took Booker out with a ladder and then went to double team Edge. He fought out of it thanks to Finlay shoving Jeff off the top rope and Edge gave Matt a suplex onto a ladder. Kennedy went for the Kenton (his version of the Swanton), but that missed when Matt moved out of the way. Jeff hit the Swanton Bomb on Kennedy. Matt & Jeff used the ladder to knock down Finlay, Orton and then Booker. They climbed up the same ladder and fought it out near the top of the ladder. Finlay shoved them off. JBL did such a good job of putting over the importance of the match. Edge hit a Spear on six of the guys. When he went for it on Punk, CM jumped over him and Edge went crashing into the turnbuckle. Punk put the ladder on his shoulders, so Edge came back and hit Punk with a Spear meaning he hit all seven guys with it. Edge brought in a huge ladder. I would guess that it was about 12 feet high. Orton shoved the ladder and Edge went flying to the floor where he took a bump feet first. The Edge/Orton Rated RKO alliance was no more. Jeff gave a front suplex to Orton. Meanwhile, on the floor Matt put Edge onto a ladder that was stretched from the security wall to the side of the ring. Jeff used that opportunity to climb the 12 foot tall ladder. Jeff climbed to the top of the ladder. He jumped off the ladder with a leg drop and drove Edge right through it, breaking it in half! Wow! Insane bump! Huge reaction. Jim Ross was wondering if they were broken in half. Crowd went wild. Huge spot. The EMTs came out to put them on stretchers so they were out of the match.

Back in the ring, Orton hit a huge RKO on Hardy and then a RKO on Finlay. How about one for Kennedy? He gets a RKO too. Punk used a ladder to the back of Orton to knock him down. They each climbed up a ladder. Orton hit a RKO off the top of the ladder. Huge pop for that. It looked great. Booker went up. Orton met him at the top. Booker hit a Book End on Orton off the top of the ladder. That was a great spot too. Queen Sharmell went in, grabbed Matt’s leg and then he was about to give her a Twist of Fate, so Booker jumped back down to fight Matt. It would have been more heelish if he kept climbing instead of helping his wife. Hardy hit the Twist of Fate on Booker. JBL: “That’s what women will get ya!” JBL was great as an announcer! Finlay knocked Hardy off the ladder. Finlay’s head was bleeding above his eye. Finlay hit the Celtic Cross onto Hardy onto a ladder. Finlay was selling injuries, so he couldn’t climb right away. Hornswoggle showed up from under the ring. He climbed up. He nearly made it to the top. Kennedy climbed up beside him. Hornswoggle slapped him in the face. Kennedy gave him the Green Bay Plunge off the ladder. That was fun. Beating up midgets is always entertaining. Finlay hit Kennedy in the face with the ladder. Punk hit a springboard dropkick to knock Finlay off the ladder. Punk went for the climb. He got close. Kennedy caught up to him at the top of the ladder and Punk ended up shoving him off. Kennedy grabbed another ladder and hit Punk in the face with it. Great spot. Kennedy climbed up and grabbed the briefcase to win the match at 19:11.
Winner: Ken Kennedy

Analysis: **** This was one of the better opening matches in the history of WrestleMania. I can’t remember them all, but it was definitely in the top two or three openers. The most memorable part was when Jeff Hardy destroyed Edge by leaping off that 12 foot ladder and driving him through a ladder that was set up outside the ring. The finish was good too. Kennedy destroying Punk with the ladder to the face was a smart way to end it. It didn’t come off as lucky. It put Kennedy over by having him outsmart Punk in the end. I remember going into this one thinking that Edge or Orton would win because they were already champions before and I thought it would happen again. I didn’t think Kennedy was ready. What I found interesting as I went through this match was that of the eight men that competed in it, only two of them are full time active performers in WWE five years later: Orton and Punk. Time flies when you’re falling off a ladder, I guess.

They showed a clip of a movie premiere of Steve Austin’s movie The Condemned. I’ve never seen it.

Backstage, Todd “The Nerd” Grisham interviewed Ken Kennedy. He thanked himself for winning the briefcase. He said he was going to cash in the briefcase any time and any place. He said nice guys finish dead last, so thank God he’s not a nice guy. “Thank God I’m Mr. Money in the Bank…Bank.” That was fun. Of course he’d get hurt, Edge would beat him in a match for the briefcase and he’d be the one to cash in the briefcase for a World Title win.

There was an “All Grown Up” video about Batista.

The Great Khali vs. Kane
It was an interpromotional match with Khali representing Raw as a new heel and Kane representing Smackdown as the babyface. Khali knocked him down early. Khali threw Kane out to the floor. Kane threw a punch that Khali didn’t know how to sell, so Khali gave him a clothesline and then the weakest body slam ever even though JR said it was delivered with “great authority.” God bless JR for always trying to put the crappy workers over. Khali applied a vice grip and then a choke in the corner. Kane came back with punches in the corner followed by a clothesline. Khali was still up, so Kane climbed the top rope and hit the clothesline. Khali didn’t go down. Kane booted him. Khali tied up the ropes. It’s the Andre the Giant move where he gets tied up so the opponent can attack him. Kane went under the ring and grabbed a chain while the ref freed Khali. Khali won a punch fest with his big chop to the head. Crowd did a good job of reacting to him. Khali ripped the turnbuckle pad off. The ref was cleaning the turnbuckle padding, so Kane used the chain to hit Khali in the nuts. Kane gave Khali a body slam. Ross said shades of WrestleMania 3. I guess so, but not really. Kane covered for two. Khali gave him the double choke Tree Slam and covered with his foot on Kane’s chest for the victory at 5:32.
Winner: The Great Khali

Analysis: DUD At least it was short. Khali was put over huge whether we liked it or not.

Post match, Khali choked him with the chain. Then he left. Thank you for leaving.

It was backstage comedy time as Cryme Tyme was hanging out with Eugene backstage. They walked to where the Extreme Expose dancers were. It was Layla, Brooke & Kelly without the other Kelly on her name. Then Moolah & Mae were there to dance with Eugene as well. Hey there’s the Reverend Slick! Dusty Rhodes shows up to dance too. Others that showed up were Sgt. Slaughter, Jimmy Hart and IRS. At least the camera was on Brooke Adams a lot. Gorgeous woman. Ricky Steamboat showed up too. To wrap it up, Ron Simmons arrived with his “DAMN” shirt. He delivered the line to a big pop. Then they kept dancing.

The US Title match was up next. Montel Vontavious Porter was the cocky heel challenging the babyface Chris Benoit. MVP debuted in September. He got a good push from the beginning. I was a huge fan of his theme song. It’s one of my favorite songs in wrestling history.

United States Title: Chris Benoit vs. MVP
They had some nice technical wrestling exchanges earlier. MVP countered a German Suplex by throwing Benoit out to the floor. The action picked up in the ring with Benoit going for a superplex, but MVP fought out of it and draped Benoit’s left arm on the top rope. He focused his assault on Benoit’s arm and shoulder. JBL said Benoit deserved to be in the Hall of Fame one day. That will never happen. Benoit came back with three German Suplexes. He went for the headbutt, but MVP countered it and MVP gave him a superplex off the top rope. MVP threw Benoit’s left shoulder into the turnbuckle. He gave Benoit an armbar. The crowd was rallying behind Benoit. Benoit broke free, but MVP decked him with a big boot to the face for the count of two. Benoit went for the Crossface, but MVP punched his left arm to break it up. MVP gave him a body slam. MVP followed it up with the Ballin’ Elbow for two. MVP missed a running boot in the corner. Benoit gave him two German Suplexes. MVP fought out of it, but Benoit hit three more German Suplexes. That’s a total of seven in the match. Benoit went to the top rope and hit the Flying Headbutt. He covered. That was enough for the win at 9:18.
Winner: Chris Benoit

Analysis: **1/2 Good match. With another five minutes they could have done a lot more. I liked the psychology with MVP working over the left arm and dominating the majority of the match. JBL did an awesome job of putting over the idea that MVP could hang with Benoit, which was a good reason to have the match in the first place. I was surprised that Benoit won with the headbutt. He didn’t get the win with that move very often. They would have rematches in the future that were better than this. Of course as I’m sure most are aware Benoit committed a double murder on his wife and son before taking his own life as well. He’s been written out of WWE history ever since.

Backstage, Donald Trump is on the phone sitting beside the former Miss USA that was with him. He was complaining that Vince didn’t make things nice for him. Suddenly, the Boogeyman showed up behind the couch. Trump wasn’t scared. He just wanted a sandwich. That was an awful segment.

They showed clips of the 2007 Hall of Fame. The inductees were The Wild Samoans, The Sheik, Nick Bockwinkel, Mr. Fuji, Jim Ross, “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig, Jerry Lawler and Dusty Rhodes. I like how Dusty busted out his line about how he had wined and dined with kings and queens.

Lilian Garcia announced the attendance at 80,103 people. Then she welcomed Howard Finkel. He introduced the 2007 Hall of Fame class. They made their way to the stage. The biggest pops went to Ross, Lawler & Rhodes.

The video package played to hype up the Undertaker/Batista match for the World Title. It was the first time Undertaker had won the Royal Rumble. He picked Batista to be his opponent. They were both babyfaces. Batista was the face of Smackdown for about two years prior to this and the main focus of the show when he wasn’t injured. Undertaker went into the match with his impressive WrestleMania streak, which was at 14-0 going into the match.

Smackdown GM Teddy Long handled the introductions. Batista entered first. Huge reaction for him. JBL did a good job of putting over the idea that Batista could be the guy to end the streak. He was booked as such a strong champion that it wasn’t a farfetched idea to think that Batista could do it. Undertaker got his traditional entrance with the druids bringing him out. His entrance took over four minutes.

World Heavyweight Title: Batista vs. The Undertaker
Batista started out dominating, knocking Undertaker to the floor with a clothesline and then they brawled up the aisle. Batista whipped Undertaker into the steel steps at ringside, which Undertaker sold by taking the bump right on his knees and flying over the steps. That’s a bump not many big guys could do. Batista went to the top with a shoulderblock. Cole put over that he had never seen Batista do that before. Clothesline by Batista gets two. Undertaker blocked a boot to the face, hit Batista with a barrage of punches and then they exchanged blows with the crowd chanting along for each one. Undertaker hit two corner splashes, the Snake Eyes in the corner and then the boot to the face. He followed it up with a leg drop for two. Undertaker hit the Old School clothesline off the top to a standing ovation. Those were his moves of doom. Undertaker went for a chokeslam, but Batista used his power to counter it. Undertaker went for a clothesline that didn’t connect very well. Loud “Let’s Go Taker” chants. They didn’t hate Batista. They just liked Undertaker more. Undertaker worked him over some more and hit a leg drop on the apron, which sent Batista to the mat out on the floor. Undertaker was in the ring, he ran the ropes and jumped over the top rope for the dive onto Batista! Wow. I love that move. He nailed it perfectly. He didn’t always hit that spot the right way, but Batista was there to catch him. I’ll never get sick of that Undertaker move.

They fought outside the ring. Batista won the fight, which resulted in Undertaker getting thrown into the security wall. Batista rolled into the ring to break the count. Batista cleared off two of the announce tables. They were outside the ring for about a minute, but I guess the ref didn’t feel like counting. Batista put Undertaker on his shoulder, jumped off one table and gave him a running powerslam through another announce table. Batista rolled back in. Then the ref counted. Batista rolled him back in before the ten count because he wanted to beat him in the ring. He covered for two. Batista went for the Batista Bomb, but Undertaker countered by driving him to the corner and hit a series of back elbows to the head. Batista hit a belly to belly suplex for two. Awesome counter. Batista gave Undertaker the punches in the corner, Undertaker powered out and gave him the Last Ride Powerbomb. Batista kicked out at two. I was so happy about that because they did that spot in Undertaker matches far too often and I’m glad it was only good for a nearfall. Batista whipped Undertaker in and he gave him a spinebuster. He powered up. Crowd was chanting “Taker.” Undertaker came back with a chokeslam for two. Another great nearfall. Batista came back with a Spear. Batista Bomb connects. One…two…no! That was the best nearfall so far. Loud “Taker” chants. The crowd was really loud as Undertaker gave Batista a back body drop to get out of the Batista Bomb. Batista put him on his shoulders, Undertaker shoved him off, Batista went into turnbuckle and he bounced back into Undertaker’s arms. Tombstone. One…two…three. The Undertaker is 15-0 at WrestleMania.
Winner and New World Heavyweight Champion: The Undertaker

Analysis: **** It was a very good match that went above my personal expectations for it. Undertaker dominated early. Batista came back with some power offense including that awesome powerslam through the table. The finishing sequence was terrific with a lot of believable nearfalls, which was a formula we’ve come to know in Undertaker matches over the years. The announce team of Cole & JBL did a terrific job of putting over all of the power moves too. Yes, I praised Cole. He worked well with JBL. I don’t want to say I forgot the match because I do remember how good it was, but re-watching it here made me appreciate it that much more. They really worked their asses off and put on an power match. They had a number of great matches after this with stipulations involved. The more they worked, the better their chemistry became. The Last Man Standing match at Backlash 2007 was slightly better than this one. There’s nothing more you can ask of wrestlers than to give it their all and see them deliver. From this moment forward Undertaker went on a great run of having awesome WrestleMania matches.

Post match, Undertaker celebrated his win. The crowd was popping for everything. He was very popular with the Detroit crowd.

They aired an “All Grown Up” video featuring Bobby Lashley.

Cut backstage to the locker room where Vince McMahon was admiring himself in a mirror. Thankfully he was fully clothed and not putting baby oil on himself. Stephanie McMahon showed up with her daughter in a stroller. Vince was talking to the baby. He was telling the baby that he would bash Trump’s head in. We got a camera shot from inside the stroller. Vince asked Steph if she smelled that. Vince told Steph that it smelled as if his granddaughter took a Trump. Another failed attempt at comedy.

The ECW match was up next with Joey Styles and Tazz calling the match by the broken table. It was the ECW Originals team consisting of Sandman, Tommy Dreamer, Rob Van Dam & Sabu, who all entered through the crowd. They were the babyface team. The New Breed team consisted of Elijah Burke (The Pope in TNA now), Matt Striker, Marcus Cor Von and Kevin Thorn with Ariel.

Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Sandman & Sabu vs. Elijah Burke, Matt Striker, Marcus Cor Von & Kevin Thorn w/Ariel
Of the nine people involved in the match, including Ariel, only Matt Striker still works for WWE. Times have changed a lot in the last five years. Sabu started off with Striker. Sandman hit a leg drop on the back of the head on Striker. Burke tagged in and so did Dreamer as the heel team cheated to work over Tommy. Cor Von hit a double underhook suplex on Dreamer and then he hit a double team back body drop with Burke. Burke hit the double knees to the back of Dreamer. Thorn hit a nice sitout slam on Dreamer. Cor Von applied a choke on Dreamer. Dreamer hit a double neckbreaker on Cor Von & Burke at the same time. Dreamer got the hot tag to RVD and he destroyed Striker with a series of kicks. Jumping side kick on Thorn. Monkey flip by RVD on Striker. Crowd was really hot for RVD as he hit the Rolling Thunder on Striker. Cor Von pulled RVD out of the ring. Sabu hit a dive over the top onto Cor Von. Dreamer DDT on Striker. Pope knocked him out. Sandman hit a clothesline to take Burke out. RVD went to the top and hit a perfect Five Star Frog Splash on Striker for the win at 6:26.
Winners: Rob Van Dam, Tommy Dreamer, Sandman & Sabu

Analysis: *1/2 The match didn’t do much for me. Why not have an Extreme Rules Match that showcased what ECW was supposed to be about? A 7 or 8 minute brawl would have been a lot more fun. Instead, it was a regular 4 on 4 tag that was very forgettable in a lot of ways. I’ve always been a fan of Elijah Burke and was very surprised that WWE released him when they did. I always thought he had great potential.

They mentioned WrestleMania 24 would be in Orlando.

The video package for the “Battle of the Billionaires” was up next. The match was Vince McMahon’s guy Umaga wrestling against Donald Trump’s guy Bobby Lashley. I always wondered if Trump ever watched WWE because he was so awkward in every one of his appearances, but the hype for the match was surprisingly pretty good. The stipulation for the match was that one of the billionaires would have their head shaved bald. Since Trump was famous for having awful hair, it was an intriguing possibility to a lot of people. They also announced Stone Cold Steve Austin as the referee to give it the star power it needed to be an even bigger match.

A barber’s chair made it down to the ring. Yes. On its own down a slide with theme music as well. Vince was introduced first. Umaga was next. He was the Intercontinental Champion, which is something I had completely forgotten about. Donald Trump made his entrance along with a former Miss USA. Money fell from the ceiling for Trump’s entrance. The ECW Champion Bobby Lashley was next. Good pop for him, but not a huge ovation. He was physically imposing, but not the most charismatic guy. The glass broke and Steve Austin emerged in a referee shirt. “Arrive. Raise Hell. Leave.” That’s what it said on the video screens. Huge ovation for Austin.

Battle of the Billionaires Hair vs. Hair Match: Umaga w/Vince McMahon & Armando Alejandro Estrada vs. Bobby Lashley w/Donald Trump
Lashley attacked Umaga in the corner. Austin pulled him off because Umaga was in the ropes. Lashley hit a shoulderblock off the middle ropes. Of the two guys, I liked Umaga more than Lashley. I thought Umaga did a great job of being a monster heel. Estrada tried to interfere, so Lashley pulled him in the ring and Lashley gave him a powerslam. Umaga charged in, Lashley ducked, pulled the rope down and Umaga went crashing to the floor. That was a painful looking bump. Lashley charged in, Umaga moved and Lashley went crashing to the floor outside the ring by going between the middle and top rope. Estrada was gone, so they did that spot early to take him out of the match. Umaga hit a big splash in the ring for two. Umaga choked Lashley. Austin got physical with him so he would break it up. Umaga attacked him with a clothesline and then used his giant ass as a weapon, crushing Lashley’s chest cavity. Samoan Drop by Umaga. Vince jumped on the apron to cheer on Umaga. Lashley ran the ropes and knocked Vince to the ground. Umaga dropped Lashley with a neckbreaker. Trump encouraged Bobby. Umaga went to the top and Lashley threw him off with a slam. Lashley hit a clothesline. Both guys were down. Austin refused to count them down. He said no disqualifications or countouts. Shane McMahon ran down to the ring to support his father. Umaga worked over Lashley in the corner with chokes. Austin grabbed him by the face to break it up. Shane McMahon jumped on the apron. Austin scared him, then he turned back to Umaga, who decked Austin with a punch to the throat. Austin bumped out to the floor. Vince was happy about it. Shane went after Lashley. Lashley grabbed him, but Umaga made the save and hit his running butt splash in the corner. I always loved that move. Shane put the trash can on Lashley’s face to set him up for the Coast to Coast. He had a jacket on while he did it too. He hit the Coast to Coast dropkick, smashing the trash can in Lashley’s face. Shane took off his jacket and shirt to reveal a referee shirt. They told Umaga to go to the top rope. Umaga hit a top rope splash. Shane counted. Austin got back to his feet. He pulled Shane out and threw him into the steps. Crowd was going wild for Austin’s comeback. Umaga decked Austin with a punch to the throat. Vince was happy, so Trump attacked him on the floor with a tackle and then the worst punches in the history of the business. He’s not used to throwing punches obviously, so I won’t make fun of them that much. Crowd loved it. Umaga went after Austin with the Samoan Spike, but Steve avoided it and hit the Stone Cold Stunner to a huge pop. Lashley gave Umaga a Spear. He covered for the win at 13:05.
Winner: Bobby Lashley

Post match, Austin threw McMahon into the ring. Shane attacked Austin from behind, so Steve gave him a Thesz Press, the punches, the FU elbow and the Stone Cold Stunner that sent Shane out to the floor. Meanwhile, Vince was trying to crawl away. He waved back to them in the ring. Lashley sprinted up the aisle and carried Vince back to the ringside area. Austin gave Vince the Stone Cold Stunner to knock him out. Lashley put Vince in the chair. They strapped him in. Lashley and Trump took clippers to Vince’s hair while Austin held him in place. The crowd was cheering. Vince was freaking out, telling them to stop it. Trump did most of the head shaving. They played the song “Bald Headed Blues” just for fun. They put shaving cream on Vince’s hair and used razors to finish the job for him. That’s very kind of them, really. It was one of the most entertaining head shaving incidents you’ll ever see because of how well Vince sold it. To cap it off, Lashley put a mirror in front of Vince’s face and Vince fell out of the chair because he was so humiliated by what he saw. To cap it off, Austin, Lashley & Trump celebrated with a beer bash. Then Austin gave Trump a Stone Cold Stunner. Poor Donald didn’t know how to sell it right. They should have done a better job of teaching him. Austin left to a good reaction. JR: “I bet Trump’s ex-wives are doing cartwheels.” Good line.

Analysis: *3/4 It was more of an angle than a match. A fun angle, though. The match itself went 13 minutes. If it was just Lashley vs. Umaga it would have been hurt a bit. The additions of Austin and Shane made it work really well. Vince was the star of the match with the way he was celebrating the good parts and then did an even better job when it came time to the head shaving. From the time the video package started playing to the end of the segment, the whole thing nearly lasted 40 minutes. The McMahon feud would continue against Lashley, leading to a run with Vince as the ECW Champ. Let’s just say it wasn’t the greatest angle in the history of the business.

The Lumberjills made their way out for the Women’s Title match. They were: Mickie James, Layla, Jillian Hall, Candice Michelle, Kelly Kelly, Trinity, Torrie Wilson, Brooke Adams, Kristal Marshall, Michelle McCool, Maria and Victoria. Ashley made her entrance. She was getting the Playboy push, so she got the title shot against Melina, who was the heel champion.

Women’s Title: Melina vs. Ashley
Ashley attacked early, so the girls tossed Melina back in. Melina dropped her throat first across the ropes. Ashley came back with forearms and then a boot to the face for the vintage divas panty shot. Melina buried her feet into Ashley’s back. Ashley came back with a headscissors. Ashley gave her the slowest monkey flip ever. Ashley missed an elbow off the middle rope. Melina covered for two. They did a pinning sequence. Melina won with a bridging pin at 3:13.
Winner: Melina

Post match, all the girls started brawling in the ring. That was better than the match. JBL made fun of Cole for saying: “Lumberjill pandemonium.”

Analysis: DUD Awful match. At least it was short. Ashley had no business being in the ring when there were better women on the outside, especially Mickie and Victoria.

The video package started up for the main event. Ross pointed out that Cena had been the WWE Champion for 20 of the previous 24 months while Michaels was looking to win the title one more time. There was a triple threat match between Michaels, Randy Orton and Edge. Michaels won. He had finished second in the Rumble, yet here he was in the main event of WrestleMania. They were also the tag team champions going into this match because the tag titles didn’t matter a whole lot in 2007. It was a babyface vs. babyface match in case you didn’t know.

Michaels entered to a big pop. He used the Degeneration X music because in 2006 he and Triple H reunited the DX group. Hunter tore his quad in January, so he was out for this WrestleMania. For John Cena’s entrance, they filmed a Ford Mustang driving along an empty road and it parked right in front of Ford Field. It drove into the arena. It drove through some glass that had the WrestleMania 23 logo. It parked. Then John Cena emerged from the car with the WWE Title. He entered to a good ovation. It was a bit cheesy, but in the Motor City it made sense especially because Cena is a car aficionado.

WWE Title: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels
Michaels wanted a handshake early, Cena said no because Michaels had superkicked him on Raw and he didn’t trust Michaels. The early story was Michaels using his speed to avoid Cena’s power. Eventually Cena was able to slow him down with a clothesline. Michaels came back with an Austin like Thesz Press and then he gave Cena a hip toss over the top rope onto the floor below. Michaels hit an enziguiri out on the floor. Michaels hit the springboard moonsault off the middle rope onto Cena, which sent them both into the table. The table did not break. Great spot. In the ring, Cena went for a kick, Michaels blocked it and punched the left knee of Cena. Michaels attacked the leg and rammed the kneecap right into the post. Michaels continued to attack the left knee of Cena for the next several minutes. When Cena tried to strike, Michaels avoided it and went after the knee some more. The crowd wasn’t too into the match at this point although it was okay because you could tell they were building up to something. Cena finally connected on a right hand to the face, but HBK came back with a corner charge into the stomach. They exchanged blows, which Cena won thanks to a punch to the head. Michaels charged into the corner and Cena moved, so HBK crashed head first into the ring post. Michaels came up bleeding. Cena hit a clothesline. Then he ran on top of him with punches to the head. This was the point of the match where Cena stopped selling the knee. Not sure why. Cena hit his moves of doom with the shoulderblocks and the side spinning suplex. He shook his knee a few times, so I guess that was enough for him to be healed. He should have kept selling it some more. Cena hit the Five Knuckle Shuffle. Michaels avoided the FU (later known as Attitude Adjustment). They had an exchange of counter movies, then Michaels went for the superkick, Cena ducked and ref Mike Chioda took the kick right on the chin. That sent Chioda to the floor. That was really well done.

Cena went for the FU. Michaels countered it into a DDT. JR called it a brilliant counter. That was right. Both guys were down. Michaels felt the blood on his head, so he went outside the ring and took off the top half of the steel steps. He dragged Cena out to the floor. Michaels gave Cena a piledriver on the steel steps. People weren’t doing piledrivers anymore, so the move meant that much more. Michaels rolled Cena back in. Ref Jack Doan came sprinting down the aisle. Michaels covered for the one…two…no. Very good nearfall. Michaels hit a flying forearm to the face as JR busted out a “vintage Shawn Michaels” for the move. Michaels kipped up. Michaels went to the top rope and hit the Flying Elbow to the chest of Cena. Michaels went for the superkick. Cena was able to hit a clothesline out of nowhere. Great selling job by Michaels on that one. They did another slugfest. Cena went for a FU, but Michaels was able to counter with a rollup for two. Great nearfall there too. I forgot to mention that Cena was bleeding on the top of the head. They ran the ropes, Michaels went for a leap frog, Cena caught him and gave him the FU right in the middle of the ring. Cena was too hurt to cover right away. He crawled over and covered for a count of two. Crowd cheered. Cena put Michaels on the top rope and he wanted to give Michaels the FU off the top rope. Michaels knocked him off. Michaels hit a cross body, Cena caught him and went for the FU again. Michaels landed on his feet, went for superkick, Cena ducked, grabbed his foot for the STFU and Michaels kicked away multiple times. He turned it into a rollup for two. That was a really good sequence there. Back to their feet, Michaels missed with an enziguiri, which led to Cena putting him in the STFU. Michaels made it to the ropes. The crowd cheered. They weren’t really anti-Cena, but they liked Michaels too. The ref told Cena to break the hold when he reaches the ropes. That allowed Michaels to get to his feet and he connected with the Sweet Chin Music. Michaels was slow in covering. He made it over for the one…two…no! Cena got his shoulder up. Each man kicked out of the finishing move of the other guy. Both guys struggled to get to their feet. Cena went for the FU. Michaels countered. Cena tripped him up and put him in the STFU. Michaels was in the hold for about 30 seconds. He was right in the middle of the ring. Michaels tapped out at 28:22.
Winner: John Cena

Post match, Michaels was selling the pain. Cena had a look of satisfaction on his face and he also had a lot of emotion on his face, dedicating the win to his father John Cena Sr. After celebrating in the ring, Cena went up to Michaels in the aisle. Cena wanted a handshake. Michaels refused it.

Analysis: ****1/4 I think everybody expected Cena to retain the title because he was the current star and the future star while Michaels was there to give him a great match. I didn’t expect Michaels to win. He was about having great matches. Not necessarily winning them. Still, the HBK fan in me would have loved to see him win the WWE Title one more time in the WrestleMania event. It was a different kind of long match for Cena because it was more about technical wrestling. Cena’s strength was brawling. When the pace picked up they really delivered a main event worthy performance with a lot of back and forth drama ensuing. I liked the way they built to the finishers with Michaels hitting the superkick only for Cena to kick out because Shawn was too slow on the cover. This came after Shawn kicked out of the FU, so it made it even. The last 7 minutes of the match were especially great. It’s interesting to note that Cena beat both DX guys in back to back years with the STFU, which really established that move as a deadly finisher.

Following the match, there were rumors of Michaels being angry at Cena because he didn’t sell the knee for long enough after Michaels worked it over so much. Apparently he was mad about it backstage. The handshake at the end was supposed to happen, but Michaels refused it because of Cena’s poor job of selling the knee injury. I don’t think it mattered that much. They would have a match on Raw in England a few weeks after this that I’d rate at ****3/4 and call it my 2007 Match of the Year. It went nearly an hour.

The show ended with video highlights. I think. I hit stop on the DVD during Cena’s long celebration. Let’s just assume it ended that way and wrap it up.

—————-

FIVE RANDOM THOUGHTS
– I don’t think I’ve watched that Cena/Michaels match since it happened in 2007. I bought the DVD, but I think I only watched the Hall of Fame and that was it. Watching the match again today reminded me of how awesome it was. Nobody’s better than HBK in terms of building up key moments in the match. It’s just a shame that the first ten minutes of the match where HBK worked over the knee were rendered pointless because Cena didn’t sell it the rest of the way.

– If Triple H didn’t tear his patella tendon in January 2007, would the main event have been Cena vs. Michaels? I doubt it. I remember reading that they were going to do a Triple H/Cena rematch from the year before. Where would that have left Michaels? Not totally sure. I’m glad we got this match, though. It was a good thing for Cena as well as Michaels.

– The Undertaker’s match with Batista was one of the better big man matches you will ever see. They worked so hard, they hit their big spots and they had very good chemistry. Batista’s not as tall of course, but he is a 300 pounder and better than most guys at that size. I think Undertaker’s best run in his career came from 2006 to 2009, which is when he was in his early 40s. It’s amazing how he got better with age. I guess with experience comes wisdom and how to build a match too. Of the first 15 Undertaker matches at WrestleMania, this is the first one that made the four star level. I don’t think it’s a spoiler when I tell you that the next four matches will make that level too.

– You could tell how much fun Vince McMahon was having. Trump is very robotic in everything he does. He didn’t do bad, though. No complaints from me on Trump’s performance consider how inexperienced he was. Without Austin they might have had trouble. As usual, Stone Cold made it fun.

– This is the WrestleMania that has the biggest buyrate in WWE history. Most credit the McMahon/Trump match for it. It garnered a lot of mainstream press. Here’s a listing of WrestleMania buyrates if you want to see for yourself. I like that the card had eight matches. That’s the right number. Some of the midcard matches could have been booked better, though.

OPINIONS
Best Match: John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels – One of the better matches in Cena’s career to this point.

Worst Match: The Great Khali vs. Kane – I am not a fan of Khali matches.

Most Memorable Moment: Jeff Hardy putting Edge through a ladder – Crazy spot. It was amazing that neither guy wasn’t seriously hurt from that one.

Five Stars:
1. Shawn Michaels – Amazing job in the main event. You could tell he was frustrated at times, though.
2. Undertaker – Incredible performance working with a bigger opponent. Undertaker is the best big man worker ever.
3. Batista – One of the better matches of his career. Didn’t know how he’d do with a bigger opponent. He pulled it off.
4. John Cena – It’s not easy to keep up with Michaels. He did a good job. Could have been better, but it’s not easy to pull off a four star main event at WrestleMania. Give him credit.
5. Jeff Hardy – His ladder spot on Edge stole the show in the opener. Crazy dude.

Show rating (out of 10): 7.5

I gave three matches a rating of four stars (out of 5) or higher, so that equates to a good show in my estimation. Plus, the Battle of the Billionaires match had some fun moments too. I enjoyed WrestleMania 23 quite a bit.

Previous recaps listed in order with main event and ranking out of 10:

WrestleMania 17 – Steve Austin vs. The Rock (10/10)

WrestleMania 19 – Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle (9.5/10)

WrestleMania 21 – Batista vs. Triple H (8.5/10)

WrestleMania 20 – Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels (8/10)

WrestleMania 10 – Bret Hart vs. Yokozuna (7.5/10)

WrestleMania 23 – John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels (7.5/10)

WrestleMania 22 – John Cena vs. Triple H (7/10)

WrestleMania 8 – Hulk Hogan vs. Sid & Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair (7/10)

WrestleMania 3 – Hulk Hogan vs. Andre The Giant (7/10)

WrestleMania 14 – Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels (7/10)

WrestleMania 18 – Triple H v. Chris Jericho (6.5/10)

WrestleMania 7 – Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter (6.5)

WrestleMania 6 – Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan (6/10)

WrestleMania 16 – Triple H vs. The Rock vs. Mick Foley vs. Big Show (5.5/10)

WrestleMania 12 – Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart (5.5/10)

WrestleMania 15 – Steve Austin vs. The Rock (5/10)

WrestleMania 11 – Lawrence Taylor vs. Bam Bam Bigelow (5/10)

WrestleMania 1 – Hogan/Mr T vs. Piper/Orndorff (4.5/10)

WrestleMania 4 – Randy Savage vs. Ted Dibiase (4.5/10)

WrestleMania 13 – The Undertaker vs. Sycho Sid (4/10)

WrestleMania 5 – Hulk Hogan vs. Randy Savage (4/10)

WrestleMania 2 – Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy (4/10)

WrestleMania 9 – Hulk Hogan vs. Yokozuna (2/10)

The matches that have received ratings of ****+ on the five star scale:
1. Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin @ WM13: *****
2. Kurt Angle vs. Shawn Michaels @ WM21: *****
3. Steve Austin vs. The Rock @ WM17: *****
4. Edge & Christian vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz @ WM17: *****
5. Razor Ramon vs. Shawn Michaels @ WM10: *****
6. Owen Hart vs. Bret Hart @ WM10: *****
7. Ricky Steamboat vs. Randy Savage @ WM3: *****
8. Chris Benoit vs. Triple H vs. Shawn Michaels @ WM20: ****3/4
9. Brock Lesnar vs. Kurt Angle @ WM19: ****3/4
10. Shawn Michaels vs. Bret Hart @ WM12: ****1/2
11. Money in the Bank won by Edge @ WM21: ****1/2
12. Ultimate Warrior vs. Randy Savage @ WM7: ****1/2
13. Shawn Michaels vs. Chris Jericho @ WM19: ****1/2
14. Randy Savage vs. Ric Flair @ WM8: ****1/2
15. Edge vs. Mick Foley @ WM22: ****1/4
16. John Cena vs. Shawn Michaels @ WM23: ****1/4
17. Kurt Angle vs. Chris Benoit @WM17: ****1/4
18. Eddie Guerrero vs. Kurt Angle @ WM20: ****1/4
19. Edge & Christian vs. Dudley Boyz vs. Hardy Boyz @ WM16: ****1/4
20. Undertaker vs. Batista @ WM23: ****
21. John Cena vs. Triple H @ WM22: ****
22. The Rock vs. Steve Austin @ WM19: ****
23. The Rock vs. Hulk Hogan @ WM18: ****
24. Money in the Bank won by Ken Kennedy @WM23: ****
25. Randy Orton, Batista & Ric Flair vs. The Rock & Mick Foley @WM20: ****
26. Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper @ WM8: ****

You can check out all of my WrestleMania Reviews here.

John Canton mrjohncanton@gmail.com

Twitter @johnreport

 

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