Tuesday, March 19, 2024

Ramblemania Rewind 23 - WWE Wrestlemania 23 (2007)

Date: April 1st, 2007
Venue: Ford Field, Detroit, MI
Attendance: 74,287

In 1987, Wrestlemania III took place at the Pontiac Silverdome and provided the template for every Wrestlemania going forward... even if it took us a few years to actually follow that template.

Twenty years after that landmark event, we have Wrestlemania 23, where the big headline event is the supposed "Battle Of The Billionaires" between then-WWE chairman Vince McMahon and future President of The United States Donald Trump. The battle would pit McMahon's chosen avatar - reigning Intercontinental champion UMAGA - against Trump's chosen avatar - reigning WWECW Champion Bobby Lashley - in which the losing billionaire would have their head shaved. No doubt there was an appeal in wondering which of these heads would meet the razor blade... well, for some people, at least.

The fact that Wrestlemania 23 is known primarily for THAT encounter above all else paints a pretty grim picture of the overall WWE landscape. And unfortunately, that branding has inadvertently tainted this show somewhat, given how the reputations of both men are somewhat tarnished in recent years. And I'm going to be honest; I wasn't too keen on revisiting this one for that reason alone. Watching the battle of two long-since disgraced individuals is about as appealing as watching a match between Jimmy Snuka and Chris Benoit in a Woman On A Pole match. If that very thought disturbs you, then good. I'm sharing the misery with everyone reading this thing.

In any event, I did watch the whole thing... and... well...

Mr. Ken Kennedy... Kennedy defeated CM Punk, King Booker, Fit Finlay, Edge , Randy Orton, Matt Hardy, and Jeff Hardy in a multi-man ladder match to win the 2007 Money In The Bank briefcase. Yes, Mr. Anderson is a former Money In The Bank briefcase winner... who'd end up losing the thing to Edge, who'd later cash it on Undertaker to win the World title. Sorry if I spoiled the movie for anybody... anyway, this was a ladder match with a bunch of spots and stuff. Nothing you haven't seen before.

The Great Khali defeated Kane in a five-minute match that ran four minutes and fifty five seconds too long.

United States Champion Chris Benoit defeated MVP to retain the title. Around this time, MVP was the new hot heel that WWE was trying to build up and they gave a hokey outfit that prompted "Power Ranger" chants. So naturally, people expected MVP to win the title here. Watching this years later, even I was shocked when Benoit managed to pin MVP for the win, but I guess we couldn't make this show completely predictable, even if it made sense to do it. MVP would eventually win the title somewhere down the line and this would also mark the last Wrestlemania appearance of Chris Benoit... yep.

The Undertaker defeated World Heavyweight Champion Batista to win the title in a pretty good battle between two big fuckers beating the fuck out of each other. Whatever you want to say about Batista as a worker, he went down fighting and gave us a good Taker match to continue the streak and another World title. Taker would, of course, lose the title to Edge a short time afterwards to kick off that wonderful feud (and I mean that in a good way).

ECW Originals (Rob Van Dam, Sabu, The Sandman, and Tommy Dreamer) defeated ECW New Breed (Elijah Burke, Kevin Thorn, Marcus Cor Von, and Matt Striker) in what may be the only time that those ECW Originals got to shine on the big stage.

ECW Champion Bobby Lashley - representing Donald Trump - defeated Intercontinental Champion UMAGA - representing Vince McMahon - in a non-title Battle Of The Billionaires Hair Versus Hair match that eventually saw special referee Stone Cold Steve Austin give everyone except Bobby Lashley a stunner. Yes, even the Donald took a stunner... and it was as bad as any of Vince's, who got his hair cut and was forced to wear a hat... and then Vince would beat Lashley for the ECW title to taint that belt even further, so yeah.. this match was a fucking dumpster fire beforehand and watching it again now ends up being a much bigger chore than before.

And speaking of matches being a chore to sit through, WWE Women's Champion Melina pinned Ashley Massaro in a "LumberJill" match to retain the title... and look, this was a short match. It was what it was... but given what happened to Massaro and the tragic circumstances of her passing... yeah, having this follow the last match pretty much soured the whole thing.

And in the main event, WWE Champion John Cena defeated Shawn Michaels to retain the title in an excellent main event match. Yes, Cena got booed because that's sort of a thing by this point, but give the man his due. He came to work that night and held his own against Michaels, who may as well have been running at peak efficiency on this night. You want to know why Shawn got the moniker of "Mr. Wrestlemania?" It's because of matches like this. And on top of that, these two would have an hour-long rematch on RAW that ended up being BETTER than this. So yeah, those last two matches were a bit of a struggle and sort of tainted this show for me, but that main event got me back in a good mood and ended the show on a high note.

Wrestlemania 23, on a whole, isn't one of the greatest Wrestlemanias out there and there's a big, massive blemish that keeps it from getting its due, but the two World Title matches made the show worthwhile at least. Not much else to say about this one. It was fine, but not one that I'd be prone to revisit any time soon.

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